Title: Harder to Breathe
Pairings/Characters: Kurt Hummel/Blaine Anderson; Mr. and Mrs. Anderson
Warnings: medical things; anaphylaxis
Word Count: ~5000 this chapter (~17,200 so far)
Summary: Friday night dinner at the Hudmels' becomes a nightmare when Rachel brings dessert and Blaine neglects a childhood allergy.
A/N: It's looking like this will be around 5/6 chapters total, but you never know. Brace yourselves for more Anderson!feels (Anderfeels?) and awkward Kurt, and the return of Rebecca the ICU nurse!!
Again, I am not a trained medical professional, I merely have spent far too long buried in academic articles and things to research this story. As such, any information presented within should not be taken as medical fact.
Once again, dedicated to the lovely and talented, wonderful preciousmellow who prompted it and has helped encourage it along. Also, thanks to BlowtheCandlesOut (blainesholidayroommate on Tumblr) for her advice on vocalization and surgical airways. Much appreciated!
- - - -
“I don’t understand.”
“Mrs. Anderson, as we discussed in the ER earlier this morning-”
“No, I don’t understand why you had to put him back under. It’s a good thing he woke up, isn’t it? You told us there was a chance he wouldn’t, you said-”
“Yes, it’s a good sign he’s woken up. But it could also be detrimental to his recovery at this point if-”
John is standing by the door to the small conference room, arms folded across his chest as he listens to the doctor speak. Carrie is seated, one hand held to her temple as she attempts to process everything that’s going on. They've been here for less than five minutes, and already everything seems far too overwhelming to take in at once.“Blaine was clearly disoriented when he woke, and while this isn’t unexpected, due to the nature of the reaction and the subsequent life-saving measures, he reacted rather poorly as he regained consciousness, and his first inclination was to try to pull the tube. For obvious reasons, that would not be in Blaine's best interests.”
"But you said the tube would get taken out in the next day or so? When you were explaining to us why he needed it, what it was, you said-”
“Yes, and that still remains the case. What the paramedics performed was an emergency cricothroidotomy, which is intended to be a short-term airway that can either be reversed or replaced with a more permanent one. By the time we evaluated him in the emergency room, we decided he wouldn’t need a tracheostomy to replace it. The tracheal edema has subsided enough that he’ll likely be able to breathe on his own without much aid, and the further removed we get from the time of contact with the allergen, the less likely secondary reactions are to develop. At this point, further surgical intervention would open him up to unnecessary complications. We’d like to keep the placement of the tube for a few more hours, to ensure that we have a secure airway in case further complications do arise, but we’re hopeful that we can remove the tube and suture the wound sometime later today.”
“So then why is he still unconscious?”
John steps closer to the table, unfolding his arms. It’s not that he’s trying to be confrontational, but all he’s gotten is a lot of medical speak and little explanation about what this all means for Blaine. This particular doctor seems highly competent, but he's not the best at translating into language John and Carrie can understand easily. It’s getting frustrating, to be sure, and he just wants answers.
“Because if Blaine wakes up disoriented again, and does manage to pull the tube out himself, he could cause significant damage to not just his trachea, but the nerves, muscles, and his neck in general. It’s in Blaine’s best interest that, until we deem that he can breathe on his own successfully, and there will be no further complications, he remain asleep.”
“But can’t you just give him something that lets him be awake, but keeps him calm? Don’t they use-”
“Blaine’s body has been through hell in the last twelve hours, Mr. Anderson. His immune system is coming down from an incredible shock, and his heart and lungs endured a lot of stress, as well. That, on top of the pain from the emergency airway and the broken ribs, would be more than enough cause for him to want to remain unconscious, if given the choice. He’s likely going to be exhausted for some time to come, and I wouldn’t want to prolong his recovery time by jeopardizing his health at this point.”
“John, leave it.”
Carrie has a hand on her husband’s arm again, in a mirror of a gesture she’s made several times since their arrival. John is impulsive, tends to speak before he thinks, and the last person she wants to offend is Blaine’s doctor, who could easily make things more difficult for not only them, but Blaine. John sighs heavily, dropping into a chair next to his wife.
“I just want to understand. I want the best for him, I want to make sure that everything is being done the way it should be.”
“Mr. Anderson, I assure you we are doing all we can for Blaine. Truthfully, you should thank whoever responded as quickly as they did. Without the CPR given at the scene, it’s entirely likely this would be a different conversation. As it stands, Blaine will make a full recovery. With the EEG results we’ve gotten in, it appears the lack of oxygen has not caused severe damage to his brain, nor affected his brain activity, and apart from the broken ribs and the site of the airway, there shouldn’t be lasting damage from this.”
Carrie stiffens at the mention of “whoever responded,” knows John has been struggling with that since he hung up the phone after speaking with Kurt. She’s always been rather fond of Blaine’s boyfriend, but she knows the past few years have been rough on John. The collective worst night for everyone in the Anderson family came after the Sadie Hawkins dance that changed so much, not least the relationship between Blaine and his father.
She and John have talked at length about it, in the days following the dance, when Blaine was recovering from emergency surgery to remove a ruptured spleen, in the months after when the visits to Blaine’s therapist didn’t seem to be helping. She knows that John is terrified that Blaine will be hurt again, and that manifests itself in his fierce need to protect Blaine. It also manifests in his dislike of everything he sees as the cause of the months of panic attacks, medical bills, doctor’s visits, and meetings with police.
It’s not that he hates Kurt, but it’s that Kurt represents the part of Blaine that makes Blaine most vulnerable, in John’s eyes.
So being told he should thank Kurt, that Kurt (and Carole) is the reason Blaine’s alive and breathing, and still with them?
It’s difficult for John to reconcile.
“So what should we do now?”
She turns back to the doctor, searching his face for further reassurance. John rests a hand on her shoulder, squeezes gently. It reminds her too much of that night, the night they sat in similar positions in a similar place, but she pushes that away, focuses on the present.
“Sit with him. Be there for him. We’re planning to re-evaluate the airway this evening, so until then just be with him.”
“And what happens once the airway is gone? Then where do we go from there?”
“Well, obviously, there’s the matter of the open wound that will be left behind. It should heal nicely, with the aid of probably a few sutures, and we'll bandage it. We'll give you aftercare instructions on how to manage the wound itself, but with proper care and cleaning there shouldn't be problems."
“But his voice-”
“It’s likely there will be no long-term damage to Blaine’s ability to speak. The tube placement is such that it doesn’t interfere with the vocal folds, and should not have damaged any of the vocal nerves. While the incision is healing, it’s likely that Blaine will experience some speech difficulty, due to the change in airflow through his trachea, but it shouldn’t be permanent.”
“So he’ll be able to sing again?”
“I would assume so, yes.”
“Thank god,” Carrie whispers, and it’s the first time she’s really felt the panic start to edge away. There’s been too much to worry about-aftercare, and breathing changes, and whether or not there will be further reactions. She still hasn’t figured out how Blaine came into contact with the sesame, and why his EpiPen was out of reach to the point that all of this became necessary, but everything seems a bit less bleak with the reassurance that it will be okay, somehow, eventually.
“Is that all we had to discuss?”
“Unless you have further questions, I think we’re done for now. I’ll walk with you back to his room?”
“Thank you, doctor.”
Carrie and John follow him from the tiny conference room, back to where Blaine is still unconscious and still prone in his bed. Surprisingly, Kurt is missing, and Blaine’s alone.
“It seems his brother has stepped out?”
The word is jarring, and Carrie forgets for a moment that they’d introduced Kurt as part of their family. She wonders briefly if it’s worth it to correct him, or if that will jeopardize Kurt’s ability to sit with Blaine. John bristles next to her, and she quickly nods, trying to avoid a conflict.
“It would seem so. He was probably overwhelmed, he’ll be back soon. Thank you, doctor.”
He nods, and if he picks up on the sudden tension he doesn’t address it. Carrie and John are left alone, truly alone, with Blaine for the first time.
“I don’t like that we keep lying to them.”
“You know they wouldn’t let Kurt in here otherwise. He’s not family, not to mention that he’s a boy, and Blaine is-”
“So maybe Kurt shouldn’t be in here. Carrie, I just-”
“You yourself acknowledged it earlier, John. They’re in love, and you cannot deny the way Kurt looks at Blaine. I don’t understand why you’re so adamant on this.”
“Because I don’t want him to get hurt again, Carrie! I don’t want to sit through that again!”
“We’re here, John, we’re sitting through it. And this time-it’s no one’s fault. You can’t keep him away from everything forever. You have to let him live. Kurt’s been good for him, if you can’t see that-”
“I feel like we’re losing him the more time they spend together.”
“Because he’s growing up, John. That’s not Kurt’s fault, and you can’t change that. He’s getting older, and you have to stop treating him like a child. He doesn’t trust you anymore.”
“I just want him to be safe, Carrie. I don’t care if he hates me, if he resents me, I care more if-”
“You do care, John.”
Carrie meets his eyes, stares him down. This is a point of contention, and it has been for awhile-years.
“You care very much what your son thinks of you.”
“He’s just a child, Carrie,” John whispers, reaching to take Blaine’s hand in his own. He holds it, keeps his eyes trained on Blaine’s face. “He doesn’t know what love is.”
“He’s seventeen. I think you should give him a chance.”
Carrie smiles sadly at her husband and son, stands and presses a kiss to both of their foreheads.
“I’m going to get a coffee. Talk to him, John. Maybe you can say while he’s asleep what you can’t tell him while he’s awake.”
She exits the room quietly, leaving John and Blaine alone.
- - - -
He looks up, not really expecting to see Rebecca the ICU nurse standing in front of him. He’s still sitting in the corner he’d found earlier, but his tears have subsided, leaving his face sticky and his eyes red and dried-out. She holds out a tissue, clearly pulled from the pocket of her scrub top, and he takes it, wiping down his face.
“What’s wrong, honey?”
Kurt’d usually bristle at the use of a pet name, but somehow, it sounds endearing from her and so he doesn’t, merely looks up at her through damp eyelashes and sighs.
Rebecca laughs, and Kurt smiles, a tiny quirk of his lips, the edge taken off. She slides down the wall until she’s sitting next to him, and leans over to bump his shoulder with hers.
“Want to talk about it?”
“You’re his nurse, don’t you have work to do?”
“Just clocked out, actually. I was on my way to the locker room to change.”
“I don’t want to keep you-”
“Kurt, kiddo, you clearly need to let something out. I don’t mind. My husband’ll just have to wait to put dinner out.”
“What’s bothering you? Besides, you know, the obvious?”
“He’s not my brother.”
Kurt mentally smacks himself, realizes he could very well have lost his chance to be with Blaine with that admission. Rebecca merely smiles at him.
“I know. It’s pretty obvious the way you look at him. So who is he?”
“Boyfriend. He’s my boyfriend.”
“Mmmm. How long?”
“Almost two years?”
“That’s quite a commitment. You love him, don’t you?”
“With all my heart.”
“Is that the only reason you’re afraid?”
“I was there when it happened. I was-I was the one who had to do CPR.”
Kurt’s voice is small, quiet, and he hunches over, trying to draw into himself again. Rebecca soothes him, puts an arm around his shoulders in a comforting gesture.
“Oh, honey,” she says quietly, squeezing his shoulder gently. “That’s gotta be scary.”
“I broke his ribs.”
She stays quiet, rubbing his back comfortingly but choosing to let him get out whatever else is bothering him. He’s still hunched over slightly, voice small and eyes closed against whatever internal distress he’s fighting.
“I thought he was dead, you know? He was so still, his lips-his lips were blue, and I don’t-I thought he was dead.”
Kurt’s working himself back into a frenzy, so she uses her free hand to rub comforting circles on his arm, trying to soothe him.
“He stopped breathing in my arms. He stopped-I’ve never been so terrified, so afraid. He was dying, in my arms, and it’s my fault. It’s all my fault.”
Everything suddenly seems to click for Rebecca, and it’s like the proverbial light bulb has gone off over her head. She turns Kurt to face her, gently, keeps her hands on his upper arms as comfort.
“What do you mean, honey?”
“I kissed him.”
“You kissed him?”
“I had one of Rachel’s cookies-three of Rachel’s cookies, and there was tahini in them and sesame oil and I kissed him, and that’s how he touched the sesame and all of this is my fault.”
“Oh, Kurt,” Rebecca whispers, and she pulls him into a short hug, rubbing his back in comforting circles.
She’s heard news stories and reports, teenagers dying because their significant other didn’t brush their teeth after a peanut butter sandwich, didn’t avoid peanuts before they started making out, but she can’t imagine how devastating it must be to be the cause of that. She can’t begin to imagine how Kurt feels, how this is eating him up inside.
“Did you know he was allergic?”
Kurt pulls back, looks at her questioningly. Clearly, this question hasn’t crossed his mind yet. She thinks it might be because he didn’t know, had no idea.
“He never told me.”
“Did you know what was in the cookies, either?”
“No. Rachel just brought a bunch of them, left them on the counter I-”
“So even if you had known about his allergy, you wouldn’t have known you were giving it to him?”
“But I was still the one who-”
“Kurt, can you listen to me for a second? And really listen, calm your internal voice for a bit and slow down.”
He nods after a brief moment of hesitation, and Rebecca follows suit. They slide back to the wall, backs against the paint and side-by-side.
“This wasn’t your fault.”
“Kurt, you need to hear me, right now. This isn’t your fault. You didn’t know, and it’s not your fault. Blaine didn’t tell you, you couldn’t have known. It’s unfortunate, yes, and I know you feel like you need to blame yourself-but these things happen. Things happen that we can’t control, and sometimes, they turn out badly, but you were there, and it didn’t, Kurt. Blaine’s going to be okay.”
“But I still-”
“You can live in what could’ve been, Kurt, or you could focus on what’s here and now. Blaine’s hurting, and he’s going to be for awhile. I’m not saying you should stop feeling, because your feelings are important here, as well. But you can’t beat yourself up for this forever. At some point something will give.”
“I don’t want his parents to hate me. His dad already hates me.”
“Have you told them what happened?”
“Maybe they’ll be a bit more understanding than you think, Kurt. But, between us? Maybe wait a few days until things settle.”
“What if I just never tell them?”
There’s a hint of humor in Kurt’s voice, so Rebecca smiles, glad he is coming around somewhat.
“Probably wouldn’t be a great idea. They’ll find out eventually. But maybe-give yourself some time to process, let Blaine wake up, start the healing process, let his parents process everything. You’ll have to tell them, but you don’t have to tell them right this second.”
“How are you feeling now?”
“Confused. Scared. Worried. I don’t know.”
“It’s okay to be scared, Kurt. This is scary, all of it. Seeing someone you love in need of this much medical intervention is awful. But what’s important is that Blaine is going to be okay.”
“It doesn’t feel like it.”
“Once they take that tube out, things will start to seem a little brighter. It’s hard, I know. He doesn’t look like the Blaine you’re used to seeing. But little steps.”
“I feel like I’ve kept you long enough.”
Rebecca recognizes this is Kurt’s signal that he’s too emotionally overloaded to keep talking, so she stands, holds out a hand to help him to his feet.
“You’ll be okay, Kurt. You’ll work through all of this, and everything will work out. Just-keep being there, for Blaine.”
“What if he blames me?”
“I think he might be a bit more thankful he’s still here, and that’s thanks to you as well. Don’t forget that, Kurt. Honestly? I think you’ll work it out with him.”
“Thank you,” Kurt goes to shake her hand, thinks better of it and asks for a hug. Rebecca obliges, holding him close for a moment before pushing him gently in the direction of Blaine’s room.
“Go on. Your boyfriend’s waiting. And don’t take this the wrong way? But I hope I don’t see y’all up here tomorrow.”
Kurt laughs, musical and high, for the first time in hours. He walks away from the corner, smiling to himself. Rebecca watches him go, her heart simultaneously heavy and light as he does.
- - - -
Kurt pauses outside Blaine’s room, slightly surprised by the quiet rumble of a voice within. The only person he can think of that would speak in that low register that could be here is John, but Kurt’s slightly confused. John doesn't seem to be one for bedside vigils, and unless Blaine's awake, there's no other explanation.
Slightly ashamed, he leans into the curtain, attempting to catch some of what John’s saying.
“It’s never been about this-this thing of yours, Blaine. I don’t-I just don’t understand it. I mean, I understand it, but I don’t get it. But then there’s-there’s Kurt. And I’ve seen you around him, and you just look so happy, Blaine. And I don’t know how to deal with that.”
Kurt feels like he’s intruding on what is clearly a private moment between father and son, but he can’t stop himself from listening. This is the first time he’s heard John speak so openly.
“I don’t mean to make you hate me, Blaine. I don’t mean to act so horribly towards you, make you draw away. I’m just-I’m afraid to let you go. I’m afraid that every time you call will be the last time, and I know it’s irrational, and I know it’s unfair of me to turn that onto you. But that night-Blaine, that night was the worst night of my life. I hate that it feels like everything comes back to that. But sitting in the hospital, in the waiting room, waiting to hear if you were even alive-I’m not sure I’ll ever forget that, Blaine.”
Kurt feels more sympathetic the more he hears John talk, and things are falling into place. He doesn’t quite understand pinning everything onto one night, but he’s never quite experienced what Blaine and the Andersons have.
“I don’t want to lose you. I just-when you get better, Blaine, I’m going to try. I’m going to make an effort to be more involved, to show you that I-I love you, Blaine. God, I love you so much and I just-it kills me that you think I don’t. Your mother has always been better at this, this emotional stuff, but I just-I need you to know, understand. You’re the world to me, Blaine. I’m still so proud of you.”
Kurt pushes aside the curtain quietly, steps into the room. He still feels like he’s intruding, but the longer he stands outside the more awkward this could get.
The older man startles, turns to face Kurt. He still has Blaine’s hand in his, and Kurt thinks he might see the evidence of tears along John’s cheeks.
“Are you alright?”
“Come in, Kurt. I was just-just sitting with him. Carrie’s gone to get coffee, here, if you want this cha-”
“I’ll take this one,” Kurt responds, dropping into the chair by the wall that John has occupied most of the morning. “You can keep sitting with him, you don’t have to-you don’t have to stop talking to him.”
There’s an awkward pause, during which John visibly considers dropping Blaine’s hand, but he doesn’t, and Kurt feels an inexplicable sense of pride, and happiness.
“How is he doing?”
“About the same. We spoke with his doctor, they’re hoping to take the tube out a little later tonight.”
It’s purely clinical talk, but Kurt thinks the room feels heavy with emotion so he doesn’t really mind it. He’s also aware it’s his only way to gain information on Blaine’s condition.
“They’ve been doing trials with him off the oxygen, they said he’s handling it well. They’re slowly weaning him down to room air, and then they’ll go about removing the tube.”
“What happens when they do that?”
“We’re not really sure how they remove it, but they’ll let it heal. He’s going to be sore for awhile, he’ll probably have some trouble speaking at first. But things are looking up.”
Kurt makes a quiet noise of assent, and they fall back into a more comfortable silence. They sit like that for awhile, and Kurt dozes off, head falling back against the chair as John continues to hold Blaine’s hand.
He wakes to Carrie gently shaking his shoulder, what turns out to be over three hours later.
“Kurt? Kurt, honey, are you awake?”
“They’re going to take the tube out soon, they’d like us-we’re being sent back to the waiting room.”
“Come on, up you get.”
Carrie helps him stand, waits for him to shake the last remnants of sleep before she leads him out of the room.
Kurt steps back around the curtain, approaches the bed. He takes Blaine’s hand in his (and John must already be in the waiting room, because he’s alone now) and drops a kiss to Blaine’s temple.
“I love you,” he whispers, squeezing Blaine’s fingers for strength and turning to follow Carrie again.
He calls his father from the waiting room, explains what’s happened and is still happening. Burt expresses a desire for him to return home, but Kurt resists.
“Dad, I just-I want to stay here. It’s a Saturday, okay? I don’t have school tomorrow, and I just-I want to be here, if he wakes up. When he wakes up.”
“Carole comes in for her shift in the morning, right? You can send her to check on me, I promise, I’m eating, and I’m fine. Just, please, dad.”
“You’re coming home tomorrow night. No matter what’s happening or happened. You have to sleep sometime, Kurt. And we need you, too. Rachel’s worried sick.”
“Rachel’s at the house?”
“She won’t leave Finn’s side until she knows Blaine's okay. Her dads had to come try to take her home, and she started crying so the whole Berry family is sleeping on our couches.”
Kurt snorts, the image of Rachel squashed between her dads on one of the living room couches hilarious.
“You have no idea. Listen, Kurt, I should go set the table for dinner. Give Blaine our best, okay? And take care of yourself.”
“I love you.”
“Love you too, sport.”
They end the call, and Kurt can’t help but be grateful that his dad is willing to let him spend another night with the Andersons (although, to be fair, the night before hadn’t really been a night). He returns to Blaine’s parents, and sits down, ready to wait.
“Have we heard anything?”
“Nothing new. We just have to sit tight.”
- - - -
They’re allowed back into Blaine’s room (and he’s been moved from the ICU, visiting hours aren’t as restrictive) early the next day, after another sleepless night in waiting room chairs, and it’s immediately obvious how much things have changed. Gone is the machine breathing for Blaine (although it’d been turned off by the time Kurt left the ICU, so that’s not that surprising), and the IV lines leading into his arms seem less obvious. The room itself is brighter, doesn't possess the ominous, darkened feel the ICU has, and it's bigger, more airy. There's more room to move around, and that alone makes everything seem brighter.
The most obvious change, to Kurt, is that the tube is gone, replaced by a small stack of gauze covering what he knows to be the hole in Blaine’s neck. It’s less striking than the tube, but it still looks wrong, out of place, unnatural.
But Blaine looks better, and Kurt’s not sure if it’s the change in scenery, the removal of the tube, that he feels like Blaine is getting better.
“You want to sit by him?”
John’s offering the chair by the bed, opposite Carrie, and Kurt hesitates, almost afraid to interrupt whatever John and Blaine had been sharing previously.
“You should get some time with him, Kurt,” John says, and he steps back from the chair, clearly indicating that Kurt take it. He does, sinking into it and taking Blaine’s hand, mimicking the position he’s spent much of the day in.
“They think he might wake up, soon. They’ve lowered the sedatives and they say it’s more or less up to him, now.”
“Can he hear us?”
“They think so.”
“Do you mind-could I talk to him? Maybe see if-”
“Would you like us to step outside?”
“You don’t have to,” Kurt shakes his head. John fades back towards the window, watching Kurt stand slowly and slide onto the edge of the bed, leaning towards Blaine’s face. Carrie remains seated, smiling as she watches Kurt press a kiss to Blaine’s curls. Kurt brings Blaine’s hand to his own chest, thumb stroking gently along the back of Blaine’s hand.
“Blaine, I don’t know if you can hear this. Hear me. But, Blaine-it’d be great if you could wake up now.”
He knows it sounds harsh, but his tone is light, teasing. It’s the way he’d speak to Blaine if Blaine were awake and lucid, so he doesn’t change.
“It’s getting old, Blaine. I want to see your eyes again, sometime in the future.”
It’s cliche, but he half expects (wishes) that Blaine’s eyes will open to the sound of his voice. That’s what happens in the movies, isn’t it? But it doesn’t happen, and Blaine stays asleep, seemingly immune to Kurt’s teasing.
Kurt sighs, brings Blaine’s hand to his lips to kiss the knuckles and whisper against the skin.
“I love you, Blaine. I just want you to come back to me.”
Nothing happens, but Kurt stays perched on the edge of the bed, running his thumb along Blaine’s hand and wrist. It’s not exactly a comfortable position, but he likes feeling close to Blaine, and so he stays. If they were alone, some part of him would consider climbing onto the bed to lie next to Blaine, but he’s not sure if that’s allowed and Blaine’s parents are still in the room, anyway.
It’s another half hour before anything changes.
Blaine’s fingers twitch in his, similar to earlier in the day (the day before? Kurt can’t keep track of time), and curl around his palm. Kurt sits up straighter, watches Blaine’s face.
Carrie’s leaning forward too, and John’s on his feet. They’re crowding the bed (which Kurt thinks briefly might scare Blaine more than anything else), but they’re all too excited that Blaine might be waking up to care much.
“Blaine, can you open your eyes?”
It takes several moments, dragging into minutes, but Blaine finally blinks awake, his eyes darting around the room before settling on Kurt, then his parents in turn. There’s confusion evident there, but it’s entirely different from the last time Blaine woke, and Kurt’s intensely relieved.
Blaine opens his mouth, intending to speak, but Kurt’s the first to react. He rests a finger against Blaine’s lips, quiets him.
“You probably can’t speak just yet, Blaine. Don’t try.”
“I’ll get the nurse,” John says, noticing Blaine’s increasing distress when he realizes he can’t speak. Blaine’s free hand flies to his neck, feeling gently around the gauze, exploring. Kurt can see his throat working as he swallows, tries to understand what’s happened.
“Blaine, you had a tube put in your throat for a good part of the last two days,” Kurt says quietly, a hand along Blaine’s cheek to focus his attention on Kurt. Blaine’s eyes meet his, and they betray panic, fear, and a bit of confusion. Kurt smiles sadly, rests his hand on Blaine's chest instead and runs a comforting thumb over Blaine's collarbone. He hums a quiet mantra, keeping Blaine's attention focused on him, and not on his inability to speak, his pain, anything else.
“It’s okay, sweetheart. Just relax, and focus on me, okay? It’s going to be okay.”
Blaine nods imperceptibly, and blinks heavily. Kurt feels his heart start, but Blaine’s eyes open again, and find Kurt’s again.