Title: Harder to Breathe
Pairings/Characters: Kurt/Blaine; Mr. and Mrs. Anderson, New Directions
Warnings: anaphylactic shock and medical squick
Word Count: ~6300 this chapter (~27,000 so far)
Summary: Friday night dinner at the Hudmels' becomes a nightmare when Rachel brings dessert and Blaine neglects a childhood allergy.
A/N: This one gave me a lot of trouble. A lot, lot of trouble. It's a lot of feelings, and a lot of dialogue, and a lot of guilt.
Thanks again to preciousmellow for prompting this, being the reason it exists, and her incredible encouragement to get this chapter out, and finished, and worked on. Love you <3
“I love you.”
His grip on John’s shirt sleeve is wavering, the hand he’s cupped against John’s heart trembling. Holding himself up takes more effort than he expected, but Blaine doesn’t really want to break the moment. He eventually has to, the strain of gripping John so tightly is wearing on him, so he lets John’s shirt slip from his grip, slumps back onto his pillows.
Blaine runs a shaky hand over his eyes, trying to clear the tears that’ve gathered, but he can’t quite seem to blink them away. John’s got his face in his hands in a similar gesture, elbows resting on the edge of the mattress. Neither of them speaks, makes a move; the exchange they’ve just shared hangs heavily in the air between them.
It’s Carrie who breaks the silence, clears her throat gently to get John’s attention. She mouths a thank you at him, her own eyes shining with unshed tears as she glances from her husband to her son. Blaine’s still got his eyes closed, hand covering his face, and misses the exchange between his parents entirely. Carrie drops a hand to his shoulder, gently squeezes to redirect Blaine’s attention.
“Are you alright, Blaine?”
He swallows, a grimace crossing his face as the gesture pulls at the muscles in his neck, but nods.
“Yeah,” he gets out, letting his hand slide off his face and rest at his side. He’s breathing a little heavier after the exertion of holding himself up, the pain in his ribs giving him something else to focus on that isn’t his father or his own confusing emotions. Carrie presses a thumb into Blaine’s shoulder, trying to ease away some of the tension in his bunched muscles.
“Relax, Blaine,” she murmurs, stroking along his shoulder and upper arm. It’s a move she used when he was younger, when he’d be stressed about school or the bullying or, later, when he was dealing with the aftermath of the beating or a particularly bad fight with John. Blaine’s always been high-strung, active and unable to sit still, and as such has always been prone to tense shoulders and knotted muscles. Carrie's always been the only person he'll let do this to him, work out the knots.
Blaine calms beneath her hand, his breathing evening out and his face relaxing from its grimace. Carrie lets her fingertips trail along the edges of the gauze on his neck, biting her bottom lip when his eyes flutter open, seek hers. She’s still not sure what to make of this-how to process everything that’s happened, so she doesn’t, and instead focuses on Blaine-solid, real, relatively whole beneath her hands. Each breath he takes is a reassurance that he's still here, and things aren't as bad as they seem, so she focuses on that-the steady rise and fall of Blaine's chest, barring the occasional hitch at his ribs.
The moment's broken when John interrupts, his voice rough from forcing down tears.
“I need to-coffee,” John speaks up, his emotions finally in check and his face dry. He’s gripping the edge of Blaine’s bed tightly, dutifully looking anywhere except Blaine’s face. Blaine turns his eyes to his father, questioning, but John can’t meet his gaze. Blaine frowns, reaches out to brush his fingers against John’s hand.
“I just-I need a minute, okay? Carrie, I’ll be-I’ll be downstairs.”
Blaine and Carrie watch John leave the room, Blaine’s face falling as soon as his father’s back is turned to him. Carrie notices, rubs her hand along his arm again and makes a quiet shushing noise.
“It’s just been a lot to take in, Blaine. We’ve gone through a lot in the past couple days, and he just-he’s trying.”
Blaine makes a quiet noise in his throat, nods. His fingers close around his phone again, and he brings it up in front of his face, frowning when he can't secure a comfortable angle to text.
“Do you want to sit up?” Carrie asks, noticing how much trouble he’s having keeping the phone steady while he tries to work it.
Blaine nods, and Carrie hits the call button behind the bed, afraid to push any of the buttons on the bed for fear of doing the wrong thing. Ally appears within minutes, knocking on the door frame before entering.
“What’s going on, Mrs. Anderson?”
“Blaine was wondering if he could possibly sit up? The angle on his back is bothering him and-”
“Oh, yeah, absolutely. Here, let me show you how this thing works.”
Ally takes the remote for the bed, demonstrates for both Blaine and Carrie how to operate the buttons, which move the head of the bed up and down. In a few minutes Blaine is sitting up comfortably, Ally sliding a pillow behind his back to support him.
“If your ribs start to bother you, you can move back down, or try to figure out which position puts the least strain on them for you personally. You could try hugging a pillow, too, that might cushion them. Dr. Waltman wants to try and get you walking around sometime tonight or tomorrow, because the sooner we can get you up and about the sooner we can get you home.”
Carrie hasn’t considered that yet, somehow hasn’t thought about what will happen after. Everything has been so focused on Blaine, on oxygen levels and secondary reactions and healing processes, but somehow, bringing him home hasn’t crossed her mind. She hasn't considered that, at some point, Blaine's care becomes her responsibility, and her charge.
“Well, I’d assume you don’t want to be stuck in the hospital forever?” Ally addresses Blaine, winking at him knowingly. He returns her smile, nods. “Medically, there’s no real reason to keep Blaine much longer, barring any sudden complications or an infection. Keeping him longer would actually be opening him up for greater risk of infection. I think we’re hoping to get him out of here by Tuesday morning, for sure.”
“And then what?”
“And then you guys try to get back to your normal life.”
Ally’s tone makes it clear that she knows it’s not that easy, that there’s a lot left to deal with and process. But her attempt at humor lightens the situation, makes Blaine crack a smile and Carrie’s shoulders loosen the slightest bit.
“You’ll be okay. We’ll make sure you know how to care for his ribs, change his dressings, and we’ll give you plenty of aftercare instructions. You’ll all worry for the first few weeks, keep a closer eye on Blaine than you’re used to. But you’ll work through everything eventually.”
She tosses another reassuring grin at Carrie, who finds herself at ease in Ally's presence.
“Just my job,” Ally responds, stepping to the side of the bed to check the level of the drip. “This’ll need to be changed soon, but I’ll come back to do that later. How’s the pain?”
“Alright,” Blaine says quietly, shrugging. “Not so bad.”
“The meds should be wearing off soon, so just give a shout-not literally-if you need anything more. Dr. Waltman should be in to see you soon, hopefully, but other than that just get some rest, and I’ll be in to check on you in an hour or so.”
Ally leaves the room with a quick squeeze of Blaine’s shoulder and a reassuring smile to Carrie. Blaine watches her go, shifts until he’s as comfortable as he can manage. He picks his phone back up, unlocks it and pulls up his text messages.
“Mmhmm,” Blaine replies, already typing a text to Kurt. Blaine’s excited about the idea that he could be home by Tuesday night, enough so that his pain and lingering confusion are already fading to the back of his mind. His brain still feels fuzzy, and he’s having trouble holding onto thoughts for very long, so he lets his mind wander, and texts Kurt instead.
Carrie smiles knowingly, brushes a stray curl from Blaine’s forehead before settling back into her chair. She watches him for a moment more, before resting her head against the back of the chair and letting her thoughts drift for the first time in hours.
Kurt’s pulling on the top Carole packed him when his phone buzzes on the locker room bench. He snatches it up, sliding across the screen to pull up the text message as quickly as possible.
From: Blaine <3
I miss you. Come back?
Kurt smiles, sitting down on the bench to reply. He feels significantly more human after a shower and a change of clothes, and Carole’s promised to buy him coffee as soon as he’s done getting dressed. He taps out a quick “see you soon” to Blaine, pockets his phone, and folds his clothes, stashing them in the backpack Carole brought.
She meets him at the door to the men’s locker room, takes the backpack from his hands and offers her elbow in an exaggerated gesture. Kurt smiles, steps into the hug she offers him.
“How are you holding up?”
“Blaine can’t speak more than three words coherently, and he can’t take a breath that isn’t shallow, and that’s my fault too.”
“I didn’t ask how Blaine was.”
Kurt slows his steps, forcing Carole to match his pace. He worries his bottom lip between his teeth, avoiding the question. Carole picks up on his discomfort, rests her hand on the small of his back as they walk. She doesn’t breach the subject again, not until they’re secluded in a corner of the hospital cafeteria, Kurt nursing a cup of tepid tea and a bagel.
“Kurt, you have to talk about it. This isn’t something you can just brush off. Blaine-”
“Blaine’s going to be fine, so I don’t understand why we need to keep talking about it.”
Kurt is resolutely stirring sugar into his tea, refusing to look up at Carole. Barring his conversation with Rebecca, he’s been at Blaine’s side for most of the weekend, or talking about and thinking about Blaine. It’s hard to direct his thoughts elsewhere now, when he’s been worrying and wondering and waiting for two days.
“Carole, I just-where do we go from here? I don’t know what this is going to do to us, I can’t-I can’t handle it if he has some kind of twisted sense that he owes me or something and-”
“Has he said that he does?”
“He can’t string more than four words together without hurting himself.”
“So why do you think that-”
“I don’t-god, Carole, I don’t know what to think anymore. I don’t know-how am I supposed to deal with this? I’m seventeen, Carole, and I’ve just-I just-”
“One day at a time, Kurt. You can’t spend your time thinking about what could happen, what might’ve happened. You just-you wake up, you go to school, you do everything the way you were. This-what happened, what you did-that doesn’t have to come between the two of you.”
“How are you so calm about this?”
“I deal with this kind of thing every day, Kurt.”
“But it’s Blaine.”
“And that makes it harder, and it hits closer to home. But you process, and you deal, and you learn to move on from this.”
Kurt sips his tea, lets Carole’s words sink in. It rings true with what Rebecca had tried to tell him, what everyone is trying to tell him. He doesn’t feel reassured, there’s still a nagging fear that he hasn’t really voiced, given serious consideration to.
“I’m afraid things will change between us. I’m afraid-I’m afraid we won’t be able to kiss like we used to, that I’ll be afraid, he’ll be afraid. I’m afraid that I’ll spend more time worrying about what’s in our food than enjoying it. I’m afraid that every time I look at him I’ll see that scar and remember what it meant, and remember-”
Carole slides out of her chair and into the one next to Kurt, slipping an arm over his shoulders. She hugs him close, presses a kiss to the of his head in an attempt to soothe. She keeps her arm around his shoulder while she speaks, trying to transfer some of her strength into Kurt.
“I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy. I’m not telling you things will snap back to how they were-for awhile, and probably for a long while, things will be weird and different and new. But it doesn’t have to be bad, Kurt. You are two of the strongest people I’ve ever known, and you’re both so young. Blaine’s already come through so much, and so have you. If there’s anyone I have faith in to make it through this, you two are the ones I’d put my money on.”
“I just keep seeing him on the floor, and how-how blue he was, and the blood from the airway and-”
“Hey hey, stop that. You’ve got to stop thinking like this.”
“I can’t, I’ve tried, but when I’m in the room with him and he’s freaking out and I just keep-"
“Kurt, you’ve gotten maybe six hours of sleep since Friday night. You’re exhausted, stressed, and you’re far from your best. Maybe you should head home and sleep, so you can get to school tomorrow.”
“I can’t go to school, not while Blaine’s-”
“Your father and I aren’t going to budge on that one,” Carole says with a frown, pushing back a bit from Kurt so she can look him in the eyes. “Blaine is in good hands here, and you’re only making yourself sick with worry the longer you stay here and think about this. You’re going home tonight, and you’re going to school tomorrow.”
“How will I even focus in class, I’ll just be thinking about being here, and about Blaine, and-”
“You might find you’re surprised how easily you can redirect your focus if you need to. Besides, Rachel wants to swing by after school tomorrow, to see Blaine for herself. You can come with her then.”
“We finally got her off her couch and sent her home with her dads, but she’s almost as freaked out about this as you. I promised I’d bring her and Finn by tomorrow, if Blaine’s still admitted.”
“He’ll like that. I think his parents are probably driving him crazy. This is the longest they’ve all spent together in years.”
“Is everything okay? With Blaine and his parents? Things seemed...tense, the other night.”
Kurt sighs, dropping the stirrer into his tea and pushing it away, finished.
“Blaine’s relationship with his dad is....complicated. It’s always been that way, as long as I’ve known Blaine.”
“But he’s not-”
“They tend to avoid each other, avoid interacting. It’s been-it’s been interesting for Blaine to be with him so constantly.”
“That’s gotta be rough.”
“You have no idea,” Kurt sighs, dropping the wrapper from his bagel into the remaining dregs of his tea.
“Don’t you have to get to work?”
“I’m not on shift for another half hour, or so. I could walk you back up to Blaine’s room?”
They toss their cups in the trash, Carole leading the way out of the cafeteria. Kurt runs a hand through his still-damp hair, mussing it in quiet frustration as they get closer to Blaine’s room.
Carole stops him with a hand to his forearm just outside the door to the room. Kurt raises an eyebrow, questioning what her intentions are.
“You really need to stop worrying about him, Kurt. You’re driving yourself crazy. I’m sure he can tell, too.”
“How did you-”
“It’s written all over your face. You look faintly panicked at the thought of going back in there.”
“Lighten up, Kurt. That’s all I’m trying to get you to do.”
Kurt cracks a smile, stepping in for a final hug before Carole heads to work. She holds him in her arms a moment longer than strictly necessary, rubbing her hand in comforting circles across his back before he pulls away.
“I’ll be back to take you home at the end of my shift. Now, go see your man,” Carole pushes Kurt gently towards the room with an exaggerated wink, drawing a quiet giggle from Kurt. She watches him enter the room, the door snapping shut with a tiny click as he does.
As soon as Kurt’s out of view, Carole leans against the wall in the hallway, runs a hand over her eyes. The weekend is quickly catching up to her, Friday’s events weighing on her mind. She hasn’t had a chance to process yet, hasn’t stopped moving since they’d gotten home from the hospital early Saturday morning.
For the first time since Kurt screamed for her, she fully grasps what’s happened, what’s changed, and what’s still to come. Despite what she’s told Kurt, holding someone’s life in your hands, someone you care about-someone you’ve come to love-is terrifying and humbling and if Carole has any say about it, she never wants to relive the experience.
Her phone buzzes in her pocket, alerting her that she has fifteen minute until her shift. Shaking herself, Carole pushes off from the wall, folds seamlessly into the bustle of the hospital hallway.
“You look more comfortable,” Carrie comments when Kurt reenters the room, dressed in a simple t-shirt and jeans, cardigan hung loosely on his shoulders. Blaine looks up from the bed, lights up when he sees Kurt.
“How’s everything up here?”
Kurt takes his place on the edge of Blaine’s bed again, leans forward to brush his lips against Blaine’s cheek. Blaine smiles up at Kurt, holds up his phone while gesturing at his throat. Kurt frowns, goes to take the phone from Blaine, who shakes his head, pointing at Kurt’s pocket.
“Dr. Waltman finally came in. Blaine’s throat is still pretty raw, and trying to talk is putting a lot of strain on the incision and his windpipe. The doctor thought we could try writing out what he wants to say, they left us a whiteboard. Blaine thought he could try texting with you.”
“It’s not permanent. They just-for the first day or so, while Blaine’s getting used to how he’s healing. No reason to put unnecessary strain on him.”
“In that case-”
Kurt slides his phone from his pocket, quickly navigating to his conversation with Blaine. He types out a quick message, a single word, and hits send, waits for it to reach Blaine.
Blaine’s phone buzzes and he reads the text message, his smile widening. Kurt laces the fingers of their free hands together, rubs his thumb along Blaine’s palm. He can read the message on Blaine’s phone from where he’s sitting, see the word “courage” plainly on the screen.
It’s the first thing Blaine ever sent him, and as cheesy as it is, he thinks the sentiment’s appropriate for the situation. Blaine seems to appreciate it, bringing Kurt’s fingers to his lips to press a kiss to Kurt’s knuckles.
“I think I’m going to find your father, Blaine, and grab some breakfast. Can I get you boys anything?”
“We’re okay,” Kurt replies for both of them, his eyes not leaving Blaine’s. Carrie leaves the room with a last lingering look at the bed, where Kurt’s already curling into Blaine’s side. She thinks she’s supposed to warn him off, but she can’t bring herself to do so, and lets them be.
Kurt’s already snuggled against Blaine’s side, his arm thrown gingerly over Blaine’s abdomen, his previous hesitation at curling up next to Blaine tossed from his mind as soon as Blaine started tugging on his arm. The position’s awkward, Kurt afraid to lean too hard on Blaine, put his head anywhere near Blaine’s neck or torso. He settles for tucking his head on the pillow next to Blaine’s, laying on his side so that he avoids causing Blaine pain.
“Does it hurt much?” he asks quietly, the fingers of his free hand playing feather-light across the edges of the gauze taped to Blaine’s neck. His phone buzzes a moment later with Blaine’s reply, texted one-handed with the hand opposite Kurt.
A little. Not too bad.
Kurt hums, his fingers falling from Blaine’s neck to skirt against his ribs.
“I’m sorry for this.”
Not your fault. You had to.
“Blaine, I broke your ribs. I did this, this is-”
His phone buzzes three times in quick succession, Blaine managing to cut him off even without the power of speech.
My mom told me, okay?
You saved my life, Kurt.
My ribs will heal, and I don’t care.
I’d rather be alive and with you.
Blaine reaches for Kurt’s chin in response, tips Kurt’s face until he can look into Kurt’s eyes. He brushes his thumb against Kurt’s cheekbone, wiping away the tears Kurt hadn’t noticed falling. His other hand is busy tapping out a message on his phone.
Please don’t cry.
“I’m just-god, Blaine everything was so real and so scary and you were dying. You were dying on my bedroom floor.”
But I didn’t die.
“I’m sorry I’m a mess over this, Blaine. God, I’m sorry.”
Don’t be sorry.
I can’t imagine what it’s been like.
“It’s been-well, it’s been interesting, let’s say that.”
I’m sorry I did this to you.
“Blaine, why are you apologizing? This is far from your fault, it’s not even close to your fault.”
I should’ve told you. Had my epipen. My fault.
“Well, I can say I never expected to find out my boyfriend has a potentially fatal food allergy by watching him turn blue on my floor, but it’s not your fault Blaine. Granted, I’m going to rag on you forever about your EpiPen, and about what you’re eating, but it’s not your fault.”
Then it isn’t yours either.
Kurt snorts, the sentiment entirely Blaine. He’s still not quite ready to let Blaine know what caused the reaction, not ready to deal with the emotions that will come from that revelation. So instead he snuggles closer to Blaine, nuzzles into Blaine’s shoulder and strokes gingerly at Blaine’s side with the hand thrown across Blaine.
“I love you,” Kurt whispers into the skin of Blaine’s shoulder, where the hospital gown has pulled aside in Blaine’s shifting. Blaine sighs quietly, contentedly, and it’s almost possible to forget that they’re spooning in a hospital bed, that Blaine’s silent because talking is too painful.
I love you.
They drift asleep some time later, Kurt’s fingers playing against Blaine’s abdomen, his free hand tangling gently in Blaine’s curls.
Kurt’s the first to wake, nearly five hours later. The room is still empty save for the two boys in the bed, and Blaine’s still sound asleep, mouth hanging open slightly, to Kurt’s amusement. Kurt feels warm and content, holding Blaine like this, so he doesn’t move, doesn’t untangle his limbs from Blaine’s. Rather, he snuggles closer, pressing his face into Blaine’s shoulder.
He’s drifting back into sleep when he hears the door open, a quiet “oh” from the direction of the hallway.
Kurt sits up straighter, his hand instantly falling from Blaine’s curls. John’s standing in the doorway, shifting awkwardly from foot to foot as he stares at Kurt and Blaine tangled together on the bed. He’s got a slight frown on his face, lips pressed together as he takes in the room.
“Should you be on the bed with him?”
“I figured-he wasn’t hurting, I thought-”
“We were just sleeping, Mr. Anderson. We weren’t-we weren’t doing anything, I promise.”
Kurt hates that Blaine’s father still has the ability to turn him into a stuttering mess, despite the change of heart he’s had and the progress he’s seen John show this weekend. There’s something about the way John’s watching them that has him feeling uneasy.
“I’m sorry,” Kurt mutters, sliding his arm off Blaine’s abdomen and sliding off the bed. Blaine stirs underneath him, eyes fluttering open at the sudden loss of warmth at his side. He reaches out for Kurt, his fingers brushing against Kurt’s arm and closing around it, tugging Kurt back towards him.
“It’s okay,” Kurt whispers, placing his own hand over Blaine’s, stroking gently. “Your dad’s back.”
Blaine blinks fully awake, seeking John out by the door. He frowns when he sees John watching them, a tight expression on his face. Blaine feels around for his phone, producing it and firing off a text to Kurt, who frowns when he opens it.
“Blaine, it’s fine. I’m probably going to be heading home soon anyway.”
Don’t leave because of him.
“I haven’t been home in three days. I need to sleep in a real bed.”
You promise it’s not because of my dad?
Kurt leans forward, whispers in Blaine’s ear.
“I promise. We’ve actually gotten along, oddly enough. So don’t worry, okay?”
Blaine drops the phone back on his bedside table, looks back up at John, raising an eyebrow.
“Your, uh, your mom ran home to grab a shower and some clothes. She’ll be back in a few hours. I didn’t-I didn’t mean to-I’m just not used to this Blaine, I don’t-it’s still weird to me, I’m not-”
“You don’t have to justify yourself to us,” Kurt says quietly, refusing to look at Mr. Anderson in favor of watching Blaine’s reactions. Blaine’s chewing on his bottom lip, worrying it the longer John stands by the door watching Kurt.
“I don’t mean to-”
“I should probably find Carole, anyway,” Kurt cuts him off, finally turning to look at John. “It’s getting late.”
“You don’t have to leave.”
“I have school in the morning.”
“I’m sorry,” John sighs, and Kurt’s not sure what the apology is intended for, so he nods. Blaine’s watching the exchange carefully, still worrying his bottom lip between his teeth. When Kurt stands, Blaine tightens his grip on Kurt’s hand, tugs him closer. He foregoes the phone, mouths what he wants to say to Kurt instead.
Kurt balks, has been avoiding actually kissing Blaine for a number of reasons, avoiding causing him more pain, jarring his ribs, held back by his own mental block. The last time they’d kissed, Blaine had-
Kurt silences his thoughts, presses his lips to Blaine’s, but the kiss feels wrong, different.
Part of him thinks it’s that he can’t stop remembering, wondering, thinking. Part of him thinks it’s how chapped and rough Blaine’s lips are, after the oxygen and now his own chewing on them.
It’s a chaste kiss, no more than three seconds, but Kurt’s heart is beating rapidly when they break apart, and it’s not from arousal or exertion.
He can’t stop himself from watching Blaine’s face, Blaine’s throat, making sure Blaine’s still breathing.
Blaine notices him watching, frowns, reaches out to touch Kurt’s face. He tilts his head to the side in a question, his eyes seeking Kurt’s.
“I can’t,” Kurt whispers, pulling back from Blaine completely, breaking Blaine’s grip on him. “I’m sorry. I love you.”
Kurt kisses the inside of Blaine’s palm, fighting back fresh tears as he turns away. Blaine makes a quiet, questioning noise that doesn’t leave his throat, reaching out for Kurt, trying to tug him back.
“I’ll be back tomorrow,” Kurt says in reply, stepping out of Blaine’s grasp. “I promise. Rachel wants to come visit, too, I’ll bring her along.”
Kurt leaves the room before he can look back at Blaine, before he can lose his resolve. He feels another near-breakdown coming on, doesn’t want to completely lose his composure in front of Blaine, make Blaine worry anymore than he needs to. It’s not that he’s afraid of breaking down in front of Blaine, but more that he’s terrified by the fact that a simple kiss caused him to have this reaction, to run away like this.
He’s hurrying down the hallway when he hears it, stops.
John’s standing just outside the door to Blaine’s room, arms crossed over his chest. He’s looking at Kurt expectantly, like he wants Kurt to come back.
They meet halfway, Kurt backtracking and John advancing, until they’re face to face in the hallway. John glances over Kurt’s shoulder, awkwardly, before holding out a hand.
Kurt knows it’s rude, knows he’s staring openly at John’s proffered hand, but his brain can’t quite catch up with the situation. He shakes himself with a start, reaches to shake John’s hand.
“Just-thank you, Kurt. For a lot of things. For everything. For being for Blaine what-what I can’t be. Thank you.”
Kurt’s struck dumb, still shaking hands with John for several more seconds before he realizes, and lets go. John pats him awkwardly on the upper arm, turns back into Blaine’s room, and is gone in the blink of an eye.
Kurt remains standing with his hand outstretched, lingering in the hallway for several minutes before he realizes that he is.
He’s made it to Carole’s floor before his brain’s really caught up, and he sinks into a chair at the nurse’s station, exhausted.
“How is he?”
“How’s he taking it?”
“Is his voice damaged?”
“Is he going to be breathing through a tube forever?”
“Is it true he died Friday night, and they brought him back?”
Kurt’s hit with a wave of questions the second he steps into the choir room for Glee rehearsal, enough that he physically takes a step back before they all crowd around him. He’s less surprised than he probably should be, but the Glee club rumor mill circulates rumors faster than anything he knows.
“Who told you all?”
“Rachel and Finn. I can’t believe this happened to Blaine.”
Mike looks pale, and Kurt realizes that, of all the New Directions members, it’s Mike that Blaine’s probably closest to. Tina’s sitting close to him, holding onto his hand as though she never wants to let him go. Every other member of New Directions is staring at Kurt expectantly, waiting for an explanation.
“Blaine’s fine,” he starts, before backtracking. “Well, he will be fine. It was a rough weekend.”
“He’s got a severe food allergy, and he, um, he didn’t have his EpiPen. So.”
“Is it true you had to do CPR?”
Santana’s looking at him with a mixture of awe and pity as she asks, and Kurt finds himself suddenly irritated. He’s not gotten a lot of sleep, and all day he’s been asked questions about Blaine, and he’s at the end of his rope.
“I don’t see how this matters to any of you. Blaine’s fine, and he’ll be back in school next week. So can you stop asking me questions, and bothering me, and-”
“They’re just worried, Kurt,” Rachel breaks in, standing up to put a hand on his arm. Kurt notices she looks as bad as he feels, the heavy bags under her eyes barely concealed with makeup.
“We’ve all been worried.”
Kurt closes his eyes, breathes deeply to calm himself and counts to ten. When he opens them, it’s to find the Glee club still staring at him, waiting, but he feels a bit calmer than he did.
“Thank you. I really-I do appreciate it. And I’m sure Blaine will. It’s just-it’s been a hard couple days.”
Brittany, who’s remained sitting in the back of the room, watching the exchange carefully, walks up to Kurt at that, throws her arms around him. He makes a surprised squeak when she squeezes him, but settles his arms around her as he gets used to the hug.
“You can let go, Britt.”
Santana attempts to pull Brittany’s arms from around Kurt, but the blonde shakes her head, holds Kurt closer.
“Kurt’s upset, and I just-I want to hug him, okay? And this one is for Blaine.”
Kurt smiles at the sentiment, returns the hug before Brittany lets him go. It breaks the tension in the room, and suddenly everyone seems more at ease, more comfortable to approach Kurt. Brittany’s always been good at diffusing tension, and Kurt makes sure that he’ll remember to tell Blaine later.
They pass the rehearsal getting little work done, but instead making handmade cards for Blaine, a project Mr. Schuester not only encourages, but participates in. By the end of practice, Kurt’s got a stack of various construction paper crafts in his hand, as well as a deck of playing cards and a pack of crayons (the latter pressed into his hand by Brittany, who assured Kurt that Blaine would appreciate colors while he was in the hospital).
“I’m going to head of to the hospital now, if anyone wants-”
“Do you mind if we tag along?”
Mike’s dragged Tina over to Kurt, head cocked to the side to emphasize his question. Kurt’s somewhat surprised, less so when Finn and Rachel join them, but agrees to take them all. The rest of the club sends their well wishes with Kurt, and parts ways, leaving the five of them to pile into Kurt’s Navigator.
“Is Blaine, like-is he awake? Can he talk to us?”
Finn looks incredibly nervous, shifting uncomfortably in the passenger seat. Kurt shoots a glance over, takes pity on Finn and answers kindly.
“He’s awake. He can’t speak very well, the hole in his neck is healing and if he talks too loudly or too much it pulls on the stitches. We were mostly texting yesterday, but he’s got a board he can write on, too.”
“So he’s really-he’s okay?”
“He’s going to be fine, Rachel.”
They pass the rest of the ride in silence, Kurt glancing into the back (where Mike’s stuffed inexplicably between Rachel and Tina) occasionally. They’re parked and in the hospital lobby in under twenty minutes, and Kurt leads the way to the bank of elevators, presses the button for Blaine’s floor. The five teenagers shift uncomfortably, none of them at ease in a hospital.
They’re at Blaine’s room in a matter of minutes, and Kurt knocks on the door first, sticks his head in. Blaine’s sitting up in bed, looking significantly healthier, and Carrie and John are seated at the table by the window. The TVs on low, Wheel of Fortune playing in the background.
Carrie stands to hug him, smiling as she ushers him into the room. John stands to greet them, eyeing their new guests somewhat warily. Blaine, for his part, looks ecstatic to see his friends, waving at them enthusiastically.
“And who did you bring with?”
“This is my step-brother, Finn, and his girlfriend Rachel. They were there Friday night. And that’s Mike Chang and Tina Cohen-Chang, they’re good friends of Blaine’s and wanted to check on him.”
Blaine looks incredibly touched that Mike and Tina have tagged along, and he holds out a hand to Mike, who bumps fists with him, pulling up a chair to the side of the bed, and pulling out his cell phone, attempting to navigate a conversation with Blaine.
Tina and Rachel perch cautiously on the foot of the bed, as though afraid of hurting Blaine, but he smiles reassuringly at them, gestures that they can sit fully without bothering him. John’s returned to his magazine, though he glances up every few moments to keep an eye on Blaine.
“He looks a lot happier,” Kurt comments to Carrie, watching Blaine and Mike trade scores in Angry Birds while Tina and Rachel look on. “And a lot better.”
“They got him walking around last night, and again today. They think he might be ready to go home tomorrow.”
“He can heal as well at home as he can here, probably better. They don’t want him here longer than necessary.”
“And then what?”
“We’ll keep him at home until the end of the week. The sutures they put in the airway incision come out later in the week, and then after that, he’s just got to take it carefully until his ribs knit fully. He got really lucky for a reaction as severe as his was.”
“It doesn’t really feel like it.”
“Considering the alternative, I’ll take a few stitches and some broken ribs.”
They stand in silence for a few moments more, watching the crew at the bed laughing, Blaine doubling over slightly when the movement jars his ribs. Carrie’s surreptitiously watching Kurt from the corner of her eye, keeping an eye on him.
“Is everything alright, Kurt?” she asks finally, deciding to stop beating around the bush. Kurt starts, turns towards her slightly and frowns.
“You seem-well, we all seem stressed-but you’ve seemed particularly distant the past few days. Is it just everything that’s happened, or is it something more?”
Kurt folds his arms over his chest, not taking his eyes from the group on the bed. John’s looking up at them, watching Carrie and Kurt interact over the top of his magazine.
“It’s a bit of everything. I think I’m still recovering from that night, yeah.”
“I can’t even imagine, Kurt, what you went through.”
“I think that part’s the easiest part to process, though.”
“What else is it, Kurt?”
He takes a deep breath, turns to face Carrie fully. He’s not sure it’s the right moment, not sure there will ever be a right moment, but it’s tearing him apart inside to keep this secret, and if it’s going to affect his relationship with Blaine (it already has, it had the night before), then he wants to get this over with.
“There’s something I need to come clean about.”