Title: Here, beneath my lungs
Pairing: Kurt Hummel/Blaine Anderson
Word Count: 3,570
Summary: Blaine is really glad that Kurt called. Episode tag for 4x8, Thanksgiving.
Notes: I rewatched 4x8 last night, and this happened. There’s some angst, some texting, a tiny bit of hope and forgiveness, maybe.
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You were never supposed to leave
Now my head's splitting at the seams
And I don't know if I can
Here, beneath my lungs
I feel your thumbs
Press into my skin again
---Welcome Home, Son - Radical Face
“You know, for just having lost sectionals to the Warblers, you don’t look too broken up about it,” Sam says, sidling up to Blaine backstage. “Did something happen?”
Blaine can barely contain himself. It feels like the first time he’s smiled in weeks, months, years, maybe – he’s lost count. He can feel it thrumming through his whole body now though. He’d almost forgotten how wonderful Kurt could make him feel. How all-encompassing it is. That’s probably why he’s been piddling around, first at his locker, and now backstage, for the past ten minutes. He barely even has anything to pack up, but he keeps getting distracted. He couldn’t care less about losing sectionals. Obviously, he hopes Marley is okay, but… He beams at Sam.
“Kurt,” he says. “He called.”
Blaine stares at him, a little blankly. “He called, Sam. It’s the first real contact I’ve had with him in weeks. Two days ago he told me to stop contacting him because--"
No. He doesn’t want to think about what Kurt said two days ago, or last week, or last month, he wants to think about what Kurt said an hour ago, because an hour ago, Kurt said that he missed him, and oh… Blaine’s heart lurches in his chest all over again.
“Never mind, the point is: he called. And then just now, I called him. Just for like, two seconds, to let him know what happened with sectionals, because it was so crazy, and it was just sort of…normal, between us.”
Blaine had still been kind of reeling – is still reeling, now-- from the performance, from Kurt. He’d been a little high on adrenaline. Maybe a lot. A text probably would have been sufficient, but he really wanted to hear Kurt’s voice again, and, well, he had a good excuse, and he went for it.
Kurt, we lost, he blurted out as soon as he heard Kurt’s voice.
Oh no! Kurt said, and Blaine heard muffled sounds in the background, glasses clinking, and then quiet, like Kurt had gone somewhere more private. What happened?
He told a quick version of the story then - Marley passing out, the bizarre rule, the Warblers winning.
Yes, I gave her one of my juice boxes, he said, a smile spreading across his face, when Kurt asked. I think she’s okay now.
Then Finn and Mr. Schue had called them all back to the choir room for an emergency meeting, and he’d had to hang up, and Kurt had said talk to you soon like he actually meant it, and now it was, well…now.
“Dude, are you crying?” Sam asks, and Blaine realizes that Sam’s been staring at him for a while. “Do you want me to get Tina, or--”
Sam looks a little worried. His eyes are darting around nervously.
Blaine swipes at his face, and he’s laughing, and yeah, maybe he’s crying a little too, but it doesn’t matter. He’s going to be fine.
“Yesterday I thought I might not talk to him again, ever, and tonight we made plans for Christmas, Sam. He said he misses me.”
Sam grins back at him then. “Of course he does.”
Blaine’s head has been going over and over their pre-performance conversation on some kind of crazy loop since it happened, latching on to different details each time. There’s a part of him that wants to sabotage this, he can feel it creeping in – it tells him yeah, he said he misses you, but he also hasn’t forgiven you and he probably never will and Blaine’s sure there are much harsher words than that coming, but he’s used to it. Now that he has something to go on, now that there’s something between them that’s positive and not completely awful, he thinks maybe he can push the rest aside.
“I’m really happy for you,” Sam says. He claps him on the shoulder. “You need to stop that whole crying and laughing at the same time thing though – it’s creeping me out.”
“Sorry,” Blaine says. “I’m kind of all over the place, I guess.”
“It’s cool, I get it,” Sam says. “I know how badly you want this to work.”
“He hasn’t forgiven me,” Blaine says, focusing on Sam. “He… He said he’s not there yet, but that means he’s at least thinking about it, right?”
“And he picked up the phone when I called just now. That’s a good sign.”
“Definitely a good sign,” Sam says, with a knowing grin.
Blaine shakes his head. “Sorry, I’ll shut up. We should get out of here.”
They walk out to the parking lot together. Blaine has to flash the lights on his key fob to find his car. It feels like another lifetime ago that he parked it out here.
After he and Sam have said their goodbyes, and Blaine is alone in the car, he thinks he can actually hear his heart pounding in his chest. He can definitely feel it. He has no idea how he’s going to sleep tonight. He doesn’t care. Nothing can touch him, tonight. Not even insomnia. Bring it on, he thinks, boldly. His parents are out of town – he’d told them a long time ago that he was planning to go to New York for Thanksgiving, and so they planned a weekend getaway without him. He’d never bothered to let them know that his plans had changed, and he’s fine with that. He can’t be with Kurt tonight, and if he can’t be with Kurt, he doesn’t want to be with anyone. For the first time in forever, he almost feels like himself again.
He breathes deeply. The air doesn’t feel heavy or oppressive in his lungs, it just feels like air. This has been the best, most unimaginably wonderful day; he doesn’t want it to end.
He hasn’t started the car yet. He takes a deep breath, and then another, tries to clear his head. Tries to sweep it clean for a moment, so that he can focus on getting himself home in one piece, instead of this constant stream of Kurt called, he called, and he said he misses me, that he loves— And then Blaine is right back where he started because he had honestly convinced himself that he would never hear those words from Kurt again. That he’d never get to say them again. That he wouldn’t be allowed to. The fact that he did get to say them, that Kurt said them back is, well, it’s sort of everything to Blaine. It means he’d been right. He belongs with Kurt. They belong together, and they’re going to be together, again, are going to build their lives together, and grow old together, and Blaine swears that he’ll die before anything ever gets in the way of that again.
The breaths he takes now are shaky, a little uneven. He’s crying. Not the kind of quiet tears that sprung up before, when he was talking to Sam, but huge shuddering sobs that feel like they’re being wrung from somewhere deep inside of him. He tries not to let himself cry like this on school nights because when he does, his eyes get puffy and red, and it lingers - it doesn’t go away by the morning, no matter what he tries. It’s always so hard to stop though, after he’s started. He’s beyond happy that Kurt had called, but it’s a little overwhelming, too. He’s spent a good percentage of the past two months just trying to hold it together. At school, at choir practice, with the musical. It’s felt a bit like he’s been holding his breath, ever since that night in the park with Kurt.
He leans forward over the steering wheel and buries his face in his arms. He misses Kurt so much. He missed him before all of this, before he decided to ruin everything and hurt the one person who had ever actually been there for him. At the time, he’d thought it was the worst thing he’d ever felt – knowing that Kurt’s life was moving forward without him, all that distance. He knows now that he’d been wrong, because missing Kurt now, when he’s not sure if he’ll ever get to hold him in his arms again, and knowing that it’s all his fault… It’s more painful than Blaine had ever thought anything could be.
Sometimes he wonders if this feels so horrible because it’s sort of like all of his awful feelings from before have been compounded exponentially – now he misses his boyfriend and his best friend and his ex-boyfriend, and while sure, they’re all the same person, Blaine really wishes he could go back to that time in his life when he was just missing one of those Kurts, and not all of them, all the time.
But Kurt had called. Kurt had called because he misses him. And he believes that Blaine is sorry, which is almost like he’s accepted Blaine’s apology, and god, hearing Kurt make that tiny little throwaway joke, about the mouse, hearing him talk about things like hot chocolate and ice skating… It was the first time in such a long time that Blaine had felt okay, that it had felt okay, between them.
Blaine tries to hold on to that moment, to ground himself. Hot chocolate, mouse, Lima Bean – he repeats the words quietly a couple of times, like a mantra, until his breath is steady again. He dries his eyes. He needs to get out of here, needs to drive home. He can do this.
And he does. He starts the car, and he drives, and he makes it home just fine.
He pulls into the driveway, and walks up the steps, locks the door behind him, and blinks into the empty hallway. Everything in his house looks a little different tonight – brighter, and sharper, like everything has suddenly been brought into focus. He’s been wandering around in such a fog lately, but right now, everything feels pretty clear. He can see a path forward for himself, through all of this. It feels like a really simple thing – of course there was always a path through, but until right now, Blaine isn’t sure he actually believed it.
He sits on the edge of his bed, and doesn’t move right away, not to take off his coat, or his shoes, or to hang his bag on the closet door. He thinks about calling Kurt, but he’s already done that, and he doesn’t want to push it. He’s pretty sure he should just quit while he’s ahead, but… Kurt has opened the door, just a little, for him - if he doesn’t at least try to keep it open, he knows he’ll regret it. And he’s just not sure he can handle any more regrets when it comes to Kurt. He has to try everything. He’s tried apologizing and that hasn’t worked, so maybe friendship is the answer - they were friends before they’d been anything else, and so maybe they can be that, again, at least for now, at least for tonight. It’s worked pretty well so far. He has to keep trying.
His stomach clenches and his fingers are a little jittery, but he grabs his phone, anyway, imagines Kurt, imagines the loft, with its high ceilings and weird Broadway-bohemian Brooklyn décor. He wonders what Kurt is doing now, allows himself to picture him for a moment, but all his mind can come up with is an image of Kurt from the last time he saw him – eyes sad, his shoulders squared up and defensive, like he needed to protect himself from Blaine. It had been so awful, and uncomfortable and wrong and Blaine hasn’t really stopped feeling terrible about the fact that Kurt had come all the way back to Lima, and then left with that look on his face because of him. He closes his eyes. None of that matters tonight, he tells himself. Because he can turn this around. Right now. He sucks in a breath. He tries not to overthink it, just types.
BLAINE: Kurt, I know you told me I need to stop texting you, but I’m hoping you’ll make an exception for holiday messages?
BLAINE: I just want you to know how grateful I am that you called. Thank you for talking to me. The silence was driving me a little crazy. So thank you. I love you, Kurt, more than you can imagine.
BLAINE: And I know how vivid your imagination is, so that’s saying something.
BLAINE: Oh, and if it turns out there’s no holiday reprieve in effect, then please delete these messages, and pretend this never happened ;)
Blaine hits send on the last message and closes his eyes, just breathes for a couple long seconds. He’s not going to reread the messages, because he knows if he does he’ll only find something that makes him feel like an idiot, something he should have edited out, and—His phone buzzes.
KURT: I’m grateful too.
Blaine stops breathing for a second. He’s not sure what he expected, but it really wasn’t this, at least not so quickly. He waits. Starts to think that that’s it, maybe, starts to compose a response, and then:
KURT: I wasn’t sure if you’d pick up when I called before. I’m glad you did.
BLAINE: Always, Kurt. I’ll always pick up.
KURT: Well, Happy Thanksgiving, again.
KURT: And I’m really sorry about sectionals – Rachel says so, too.
BLAINE: Thanks, Kurt (and Rachel) :)
Blaine’s hands are shaking, maybe his whole body, too. It’s like when he’s had way too much coffee, but he actually hasn’t had any coffee today. He forces himself to untie his shoes, and take off his coat, just for something to do, so that he doesn’t implode – or jitter himself right off the bed, or something. Everything feels a little surreal, he thinks for one awful moment that maybe he’s dreaming, but then he remembers sectionals and Marley and Sam, and his phone ringing backstage, and yeah, he’s pretty sure that this day has actually happened.
He lies back on the bed, stares at his phone. Blaine heard something once about how you’re not supposed to be able read words in a dream, and he’s read through Kurt’s messages about a dozen times in the last two minutes, so he thinks this is another good sign. This is contact, after all, this is the thing that’s eluded him for an eternity, and Kurt had initiated it, Kurt called. And then his phone buzzes again.
KURT: This isn’t a holiday reprieve, by the way. I never actually said not to text me.
KURT: Just to set the record straight, so that you understand my rationale… Every time you apologize, it forces me to think about things I’d rather not dwell on, at least not all the time.
KURT: I’d rather think about how nice it is to be able to talk to my best friend again.
BLAINE: I understand, Kurt
BLAINE: But this is okay? Minus the apologies?
KURT: This is okay.
KURT: I still can’t believe you guys got disqualified from sectionals.
BLAINE: It was pretty awful. I guess Marley hadn’t eaten for like, days or something. None of us had any idea.
KURT: That’s crazy – poor kid. I’m so sorry it ended up that way. I know how hard you guys worked for this.
BLAINE: Yeah, it sucks, but…
BLAINE: Well, I’m talking to you now, and I got to hear your voice before, twice, so… No matter what, it’s pretty much a red letter day for me.
He waits. Nothing happens for what feels like forever and Blaine wonders if he’s gotten ahead of himself. Maybe this is too much, maybe--
KURT: I’m happy, too
BLAINE: I’m SO happy, Kurt. I’m happy that you’re happy.
KURT: I’d say that I’m happy that you’re happy that I’m happy, but that may be a little over the top?
BLAINE: Kurt Hummel, over the top? Never ;)
KURT: Okay, well, I better go back out there and make sure Rachel’s okay – we’re still cleaning up the apartment. Isabelle has a LOT of friends.
BLAINE: Okay, have fun – don’t work too hard.
KURT: I’ll do my best. I’m pretty beat, to be honest. So much for a quiet Thanksgiving.
KURT: Anyway. Good night, Blaine.
BLAINE: Good night, Kurt. Sleep well :)
KURT: You too
Blaine stares down at his phone for a long time. He hadn’t realized how much he’d missed something as simple as being able to say good night to Kurt, but, well – it feels unbelievably wonderful, now. Like there had been this massive void right in front of him that he hadn’t even noticed, and this just fills it up completely. His mind is racing, but underneath it all, there’s this feeling of rightness that Blaine hasn’t felt, honestly, since Kurt left for New York. He wasn’t sure he’d ever feel it again. He certainly hadn’t expected anything like today to happen.
But Kurt never fails to surprise Blaine, after all. It’s one of the many things Blaine loves about him. He was afraid it would never happen again, those moments when Kurt says something, or looks at him a certain way and Blaine is just completely overwhelmed. Kurt’s managed it a few times today, and they’re not even in the same state. Kurt just feels present in a way that he hasn’t for what’s felt like an eternity to Blaine. It was a bit like he’d just vanished into thin air that night in the park. Before that, maybe. And all the good things that Kurt had brought into Blaine’s life, all the ways that Kurt had made Blaine feel loved, and appreciated - they’d all vanished with him.
There’s a huge lump in Blaine’s throat, and when he closes his eyes, he can feel hot tears behind them, right there, even now.
There’s nothing that Blaine needs to hold back tonight – he knows that. He has the house to himself, he’s not going anywhere tomorrow, and he’s held it together for so long, this whole time, when Kurt wouldn’t talk to him, wouldn’t pick up his calls or answer his texts – Blaine was okay. He came to school, he played his part. Honestly, he didn’t do it because he felt okay, he did it because he was afraid that if he didn’t, things might spiral to a place he couldn’t find his way out from.
Lately, he’s felt like some kind of imposter in his own skin – he doesn’t like the person he sees in the mirror, can’t stand thinking that this is how the world sees him. It’s like he’s been turned inside out, and laid bare, like all of the awful things he’s been holding inside of him are out on parade now, out for everyone to see, when for years they’d been hidden, crowded back behind his eyes or his skin or his voice. Everything is suddenly transparent now though. There’s nowhere for him to hide, anymore.
Blaine takes a deep breath. Yeah, it’s been getting a little scary in there, lately.
He’s really glad Kurt called.
He’d been planning on taking a shower tonight– had felt so amped up earlier that he was sure there was no way he’d get any sleep, but now, he realizes that he’s actually really tired. Maybe the shower can wait until the morning. His arms and legs feel lead-heavy, suddenly… It takes some effort to rid himself of his outer layers of clothing.
When he slides his bare legs under the covers, it feels like heaven.
He closes his eyes, thinks of Kurt, and tries not to cry, because tonight, of all nights, he thinks, maybe he doesn’t have to do this. It is kind of therapeutic though, in a strange way, and Blaine finds his mind running along the same patterns as usual. Blaine thinks of Kurt, remembers everything all at once - his touch, his smell, his eyes – he reminds himself what an idiot and a coward he’s been for ruining this, and then the tears start. There’s a familiar hitch in his chest as he tries to breathe through it, as he hugs his knees to his chest in the darkness.
This time though, Blaine also thinks of Kurt’s voice, not from a million years ago, his voice from today. It’s almost like Kurt’s there, like he would be, if he could, and Blaine knows that might not technically be true, but he can feel it anyway. He feels protected. From himself, from the world, from everything he’s been feeling.
I miss you like crazy.
I love you, too.
There’d been a little lilt in Kurt’s voice, like he’d surprised himself, maybe, saying those words. Blaine wonders if he’ll ever know how much they mean to him, tonight. He sniffles. Thank you, he thinks. Thank you for still caring. Please don’t ever stop.
He closes his eyes. When he sees Kurt’s face this time, Kurt is smiling. He’s happy. Happy that you’re happy that I’m happy, maybe. Something like that, anyway.
It’s enough, Blaine thinks. It’s more than enough.
He can work with this.
[Fic] Here, beneath my lungs
Title: Here, beneath my lungs