Word count: 8,300/200,000Spoilers: none
Chapter summary: In which hope springs eternal.
Prologue (LJ/AO3/Tumblr/S&C) - Chapter 1 (LJ/AO3/Tumblr/S&C) - Chapter 2 (LJ/AO3/Tumblr/S&C) - Chapter 3 (LJ/AO3/Tumblr/S&C) - Chapter 4 (LJ/AO3/Tumblr/S&C) - Chapter 5 (LJ/AO3/Tumblr/S&C) - Chapter 6 (LJ/AO3/Tumblr/S&C) - Chapter 7 (LJ/AO3/Tumblr/S&C) - Chapter 8 (LJ/AO3/Tumblr/S&C) Chapter 9 (LJ/AO3/Tumblr/S&C) - Chapter 10 (LJ/AO3/Tumblr/S&C) - Chapter 11 (LJ/AO3/Tumblr/S&C) - Chapter 12 (LJ/AO3/Tumblr/S&C) - Chapter 13 (LJ/AO3/Tumblr/S&C) - Chapter 14 (LJ/AO3/Tumblr/S&C) - Chapter 15 (LJ/AO3/Tumblr/S&C) - Chapter 16 (LJ/AO3/Tumblr/S&C) - Chapter 17 (LJ/AO3/Tumblr/S&C) - Chapter 18 (LJ/AO3/Tumblr/S&C) - Chapter 19 (LJ/AO3/Tumblr/S&C) - Chapter 20 (LJ/AO3/Tumblr/S&C) - Chapter 21 (LJ/AO3/Tumblr/S&C) - Chapter 22 (LJ/AO3/Tumblr/S&C) - Chapter 23 (LJ/AO3/Tumblr/S&C) - Chapter 24 (LJ/AO3/Tumblr/S&C) - Chapter 25 (LJ/AO3/Tumblr/S&C) - Chapter 26 (LJ/AO3/Tumblr/S&C)
Read Chapter 27 on AO3/Tumblr/S&C
Saturday, September 30th, 2023
To: Kurt <3
So I know it's 5AM and you're probably
asleep, but you said to try tomorrow if I
want to talk, and I do, and it's tomorrow,
and I'm rambling…
To: Kurt <3
Just call me when you wake up. If you
want to, of course. If you're up for talking.
Or seeing me at all.
To: Kurt <3
I'm going to shut up now.
Blaine put his head in his hands after reading over the three consecutive texts he'd sent Kurt. Stupid, stupid, stupid, the voice in his head screamed at him. Too weary to note it in his notepad, now fuller than he'd like to admit, he sighed and wrapped the blanket around his shoulders, quietly shuffling into Nick's kitchen.
The searing pain in his heart from the day before had lessened to a dull-but-present ache, replaced largely with overwhelming guilt over how childish he'd acted in Dr. Jacobson's office. But he wasn't sure that Kurt would feel the same – after all, Blaine's empty side of their bed was a constant reminder of the lack of trust Kurt had in his husband. And in spite of what Kurt said the day before in the elevator, Blaine questioned whether Kurt would want to meet him at all, let alone call him back at five o'clock in the morning. Which was why he jumped a good six inches off the ground when his phone began to buzz erratically on the counter just as he was about to pour a cup of coffee.
"Kurt?" he said, trying not to sound frantic as he answered.
"I can't believe you called me back – I thought you were asleep."
"Blaine, do you really think I slept at all last night after what happened yesterday?" Kurt asked, sounding exhausted.
"I –" Oh. Probably not.
"Do you want to meet me in the park in twenty minutes?"
Blaine was shocked. He was still reeling, actually, from the fact that Kurt had called him back, and now he wanted to meet with him – but twenty minutes …
Blaine had plans for grand apologetic gestures. A song would probably be inappropriate, but maybe apology breakfast, and if there wasn't time for that, maybe a bouquet of apology flowers. Kurt deserved apology flowers, at least – Blaine was being such a complete moronic mess. But twenty minutes? That barely gave him time to shower and make it to the park, and – fuck it, Kurt wanted to talk with him. He'd figure something out. "Yes. Absolutely, yes."
"Oh. Okay. Good." Kurt paused. "I can pick up a couple coffees on the way, if you want …"
"Oh." Blaine looked down at his mug, now steaming and full. "That's okay; I just poured some."
"Oh," Kurt said, sounding a little disappointed. "Well – never mind, then."
Stupid, stupid, stupid, why didn't you just let him buy you a coffee? God, you are such an idiot – "I'm sorry."
"Blaine, it's fine. It's just coffee."
"Right." Blaine sighed. "I'll just – see you in the park, then?"
"Okay." Blaine hung up the phone, let his head roll back on his neck, and groaned at what a complete moron he was.
* * *
Kurt sat on a bench in Tomkins Square Park, knees pulled up to his chin, shrouded in the shadow of a large oak tree. It was too early to be light yet, and he let himself revel for a moment in the quiet that came before dawn. A calm sort of quiet, the kind of quiet that compelled him to sit still and breathe and be. So Kurt sat, still as a statue, breathing in through his nose and out through his mouth, and was.
With each breath he exhaled, a little of the hurt from the day before went with it, and he felt the tension in his neck from the long and wearisome night slowly melt away. He was ready for this, ready to forgive and to talk and to try to take another baby step toward reconciliation.
He saw Blaine approach before Blaine saw him and watched as his husband scuffed the ground with the tip of his shoe, apparently a new nervous habit. Kurt worried that all his shoes would be ruined by the time he moved back in. He wondered what was going through Blaine's mind, what the morning would bring.
He looked up at the sky. No matter what, the morning would inevitably bring the sunrise, and Kurt found hope in that unwavering truth.
He took a breath. "Blaine," he called, waving, "I'm over here."
Kurt caught the recognition in Blaine's face – such an expressive face, his husband had; Kurt could read him like a book from yards away – and watched him jog the rest of the way down the sidewalk. Once in front of him, Blaine made a jerky little motion like he almost wanted to kneel, then changed his mind. Instead he shoved his hand into his pocket and pulled a folded-up paper towel out of it.
"I – here."
Unfolded, a bouquet of flowers appeared, obviously drawn a bit hastily – the pen was smudged in places, and the proportions weren't quite right, and they were very obviously colored in with a red Sharpie and a yellow highlighter.
Kurt smiled. "What's this?"
"Apology flowers," Blaine said, rubbing the back of his neck. "God, it seems so stupid now – I wanted to get you a real bouquet, I was gonna do red and yellow roses, but it's like five-thirty and nobody's selling them and I didn't have time … I'm sorry they're, like, neon. They look radioactive, especially the yellow ones."
"Blaine," Kurt said fondly, tracing the smudged flower petals with his finger. He didn't see radioactive roses drawn on a paper towel. He saw love, remorse, humility. Somehow he saw their marriage. Imperfect, smudged, but present and bold, just like the colors bleeding through the paper."Thank you. But you don't have anything to apologize for."
"Don't I?" The bench creaked beside Kurt under Blaine's added weight. "Dr. Jacobson says I apologize too much, but I feel like yesterday –" He paused. "Or – well, she hasn't ever said that out loud. But she always asks if I think I apologize too much. And what things I think merit an apology."
Kurt cocked his head. "What do you think?"
"I don't know," Blaine said. "I don't know what she'd say about yesterday. I feel bad about what happened –"
"You feel bad about a lot of things, Blaine. So do I." He sighed, turning to face his husband. "I shouldn't have ever brought up Karofsky yesterday."
"That … was a little hard to hear."
"I know it was. I'm sorry." Kurt rubbed his eyes, sincere in his apology and frustrated with himself for ever saying it. "He didn't – it was different. It was a completely different kind of fear, and I don't ever want to make you think that I think you're like what Dave used to be. It was uncalled for, digging up old demons like that."
"I provoked you," Blaine said, his voice soft. "On purpose, I think. I just get so mad sometimes. I feel so stuck, Kurt, I get angry and lash out at you and then I feel guilty for it. I'm so sorry. I hate seeing you hurt. I hate that I walked out on you when I told you the whole time Abby was pregnant that we'd do this together, no matter what happened."
"I hate that, too." Kurt said sadly. "Have you talked to Dr. Jacobson about that yet? The anger, and the guilt – you felt guilty for things you don't need to feel guilty forfor a long time before Violet ever came into the picture."
"Well, considering that I have a fucking laundry list of things to talk about, no, I haven't quite gotten to guilt yet." He leaned over and put his head in his hands, and Kurt placed a comforting hand on his back.
"I'm sorry, Blaine."
"No, I'm sorry." Blaine turned his head so that he was looking at Kurt. "Why do I do that? I'm not actually mad at you – not for anything but the nursery thing, but I think we're kind of even on that front."
"I don't know. You're dealing with a lot."
"So are you, but you don't fly off the handle at anything anybody says to you …"
"No," Kurt said drily, "I just clean until my fingers hurt, I micromanage everything, and I feel like puking every time I try to eat. As far as coping mechanisms go, mine are top-notch." Blaine cracked a smile, and Kurt smiled back. "Maybe we should try to be a little more patient with ourselves. And each other. This was just our first week in therapy together, you know."
"I know. I know, you're right."
"Mmm-hmm. I usually am, you know," Kurt teased gently. "How long till sunrise?"
Blaine glanced at his watch. "Half an hour, maybe?"
"Let's stay and watch it," Kurt said, pulling the blanket he'd brought from home out from behind his back where he was resting against the bench. "We can cover up with this."
"Kurt – why are you being so nice to me?" Blaine asked, looking at the blanket warily.
"I'm not mad at you, honey," Kurt said, and saw Blaine relax a little with his standard term of endearment. "I'm a little raw. I don't feel like I can trust you like I used to. But I can't be mad, knowing why you did what you did. I know you're still mad at me, though, and …" He took a breath, shoring himself up. "And that's okay. But you have to let me know if this isn't working for you." He hesitated. "Is this not working for you?"
"Is what not working for me?" Blaine asked.
Kurt couldn't bring himself to meet Blaine's eyes, and he looked down, picking pieces of fuzz off the blanket thrown over their laps. "This. Us. Being a family again."
"It's not – I don't want to say it's not working for me, because I want it to work," Blaine eventually said. "You have no idea how badly I want it to work. But – I feel like I'm caught in this cycle of mad-guilty-numb-weak, and I don't know how to get out of it, and I definitely don’t want to bring you into it. I – I'm scared, Kurt. I'm never even sure of exactly who I'm mad at, and I hate that."
"Maybe a little bit of everybody," Kurt said gently, making himself look at Blaine.
The light in Blaine's eyes faded. "I think it's mostly me," he said forlornly.
Kurt found Blaine's hand under the blanket and held it, hoping he wouldn't pull away.
Something seemed to shift as they sat in silence, watching the leaves rustle in the trees as the morning breeze blew through the park, streaks of light just beginning to filter through the branches in the trees. The tension between them ebbed, Blaine's breathing slowed, Kurt's shoulders relaxed again. Kurt looked up at the sky, and saw that the dark blue clouds were beginning to glow with a flaming orange. He held up a finger, pointing to them. "Look, Blaine."
"It's pretty," Blaine said softly.
You're pretty, Kurt wanted to say, but didn't. He did, however, give Blaine's fingers a squeeze, and scooted a little closer.
"Lie down, Kurt," Blaine said, patting a hand on his lap. "Watch the sky."
Kurt didn't question it, this sudden reconnection he felt with his husband. He wordlessly shifted around, swinging his legs up onto the bench beside him, and lowered himself backwards until his head was cradled on Blaine's strong thighs. A shudder shook his entire body as Blaine's fingers stretched out slowly on his scalp, twisting their way through his hair.
They sat like that for a long time, watching as the clouds glowed brighter until there was no blue left, but instead seemed to blaze aflame, as the edge of the sun became visible over the tall buildings.
"I'm sorry that I hurt you," Blaine said, sincerity breaking the silence. His fingers flexed in Kurt's hair and Kurt's stomach stirred. He opened his eyes, expecting to find Blaine's gaze trained on him, but Blaine was still looking at the sky. "I wish we could go back and redo so many things…"
"Blaine, so do I," Kurt breathed, staring up at his husband's face, the angle of his jawline so striking from below that Kurt felt a pang of lust in his gut. He smiled to himself, knowing that strangers would call him insane to fight with a man so gorgeous that he put Greek gods to shame. Soon, though. Soon Blaine would be back home, back in their bed, and they'd be back to loving in the ways they were so good at …
Blaine took a deep breath, his chest rising and falling, and Kurt had to restrain his hand so as not to run it up inside of Blaine's shirt. He was just so handsome in the dawning light, and … no. Kurt needed to focus. They were having a conversation. It was important. He allowed himself one gentle touch to Blaine's cheek, reaching into the air to draw Blaine's gaze back down, before he spoke again. "You know if I could go back and change everything – the nursery, the way I talked to you for so long –" He paused, remorse filling him over ever yelling at the beautiful man above him. "But not having Violet. I'd never want to redo that. Would – would you?"
Blaine sighed, squinting as a bright ray of sunlight found its way through the leaves. "No," he finally said. "No, I wouldn't change that, either."
It felt, to Kurt, like a small miracle. "Good," he said softly. "I'm glad."
He lay in Blaine's lap, watching as the sky brightened until they were both squinting, ducking their heads this way and that to stay in the shadows of the tree. Kurt shifted under the blanket, turning over so that he was curled toward the back of the bench and Blaine's belly. Whenever Blaine took a breath, his soft sweater brushed up against the tip of Kurt's nose, and he nuzzled in a little closer.
"Getting sleepy?" Blaine asked.
"Mmm," Kurt answered. He was a little, cocooned in the blanket against Blaine's stomach. He'd found a little cave of warmth in the middle of the cool fall morning, and it was only the breeze against his face, ruffling his hair, that kept him from dozing off into peaceful slumber, cradled against his husband.
"You can take a nap, if you want."
"No, that's okay," he said, stretching like a cat. His back arched and his calves flexed and his toes pointed and he felt Blaine grin at him as he let out a contented purr.
"Sometimes I forget how cute you are," Blaine murmured.
"Well, I'll be happy to help you remember," Kurt said, stretching his arms up above his head for just a beat longer than necessary. He paused. "Blaine, do you happen to remember what Dr. Jacobson said at the end of our appointment?"
Blaine cocked his head. "Kurt, are you asking me out on a date?"
He wasn't expecting for Blaine to be quite so direct, and it caught him a little off-guard. He blushed, stammering, "I – um – well, I just didn't know if you caught all of what she said at the end; you were so upset when we left –"
"I wasn't any more upset than you were. And I definitely heard what she wanted us to do for our homework assignment."
Kurt blinked at him.
"So are you asking me out, or not?"
"If I were, would you say yes?" Kurt asked, a little smile crossing over his lips.
Blaine's eyes flickered, showing him a glimpse of the boy Kurt fell in love with all those years ago. "I think you should try and find out."
Kurt reached up, cupped Blaine's cheek. "Go for coffee with me?"
"Just coffee? I might need a little more wooing than that …" Blaine smiled coyly, and Kurt felt an overwhelming urge to kiss him.
"Really, now," he breathed, bringing his hand up to the back of Blaine's neck, and oh, he'd missed that smile, the one that made Blaine's eyes crinkle at the corners. "I thought coffee was our thing. You certainly wooed the hell out of me with it."
Kurt sat up, bracing his free arm a little uncomfortably against the rail on the arm of the bench, and slid forward, their faces so close that he could feel Blaine's breath on his lips.
"Well," Blaine whispered, "I guess it's worth a shot…" Kurt closed the gap between them, his lips slipping against Blaine's in perfect synchrony. Blaine gasped against him and drew him in tight, one arm slung around Kurt's back, the other coming up to thread once again in his hair. Kurt could feel in his veins the love that Blaine poured into the kiss, and though it wasn't particularly heated – neither of their mouths ever opened for the entrance of a tongue – it was intimate in a way that their most recent kiss hadn't come close to.
Blaine broke away first, sighing with his forehead pressed against Kurt's. "Oh my god, I miss you," he said, his eyes shining with tears.
"I miss you too, honey," Kurt said thickly, pressing another hard kiss to his temple as he sat up the rest of the way, half in Blaine's lap, clinging to him with his arms around his shoulders.
"Don't let go yet," Blaine murmured. "Kiss me again."
And Kurt took Blaine's face in his hands as the sun fully emerged from behind the buildings, rising higher and higher in the clear morning sky.
* * *
"So, breakfast and coffee? At Bean Me Up?"
Blaine nodded, blushing as Kurt asked him. He felt silly, blushing at such a simple question, but they'd just finished kissing and he could still feel it in his toes.
Kurt took his hand and grinned. "Hi. I missed you."
"Hi," he said, still flushed. "Braxton and Wendy are gonna shit themselves when we walk in together, you know."
"Braxton and Wendy can think whatever they want to. We'll sit outside," Kurt said decisively, tugging on his hand.
As they walked down the sidewalk, Blaine gestured to his worn jeans and plain v-neck sweater. "If I'd known that we were going on a date, I would've dressed better."
"You look perfect," Kurt said. "And we're both casual, so it's fine."
Casual my ass. Casual on Kurt was still sex personified. Blaine looked at Kurt's pale shoulder, on display where his wide-necked sweater had slipped down his arm. His skin was lightly dusted with peachy-tan freckles, a side effect of the blistering sunburn he'd gotten on their beach vacation three years prior – Blaine had almost forgotten. He sighed, remembering all the kisses he'd planted on those freckles. "Yeah, well, you could wear Crocs and acid-wash and still look amazing, so …"
"Don't ever use the word 'Crocs' when referring to me ever again, please," Kurt said drily. "Seriously, you're fine. It's just coffee, Blaine."
"It was never just coffee, Kurt."
Kurt stopped, turned around. "No," he said slowly. "No, you're right – it wasn't."
* * *
Hey, my flight arrived like 15
minutes early! Are you here yet?
Nick picked up his pace, darting into the Arrivals wing of JFK.
Just got here – on my way to baggage
He jumped a mile when a pair of arms closed around his chest, and a warm voice murmured in his ear, "Beat you to it."
"Oh my god," he gasped, his heart racing like a rabbit's, "you scared me, you asshole!" He turned around in Jeff's arms, laughing as his breath came in short bursts.
"Sorry," Jeff said, a devious tone to his voice.
"No you're not!"
Jeff grinned. "No. I'm not."
Nick squeezed him hard around his waist, pecking him on the cheek. "So you have all your stuff? Ready to go?"
"Ready," Jeff said, giving him a grin that could've lit the city for a week.
"Good, because Blaine's out with Kurt. He left me a note."
"Ohhh," Jeff sighed in his ear, "that is excellent news. For them and for us."
Nick blushed. "I think I like the sound of where this is going."
"You should know exactly where this is going," Jeff murmured. "I told you I was planning to pick right back up where we left off on Skype last night …"
Nick bit off the groan that rose in his throat. "Home," he croaked. "Let's go home."
* * *
The familiar scents and sounds that hit Blaine's senses nearly bowled him over as he walked hand-in-hand with Kurt into the coffee shop. Wendy was grinding beans behind the counter with her back turned to them, singing along with the music softly playing in the background.
"So who's to worry if our hearts get torn, when that hurt gets thrown, don't you know this life goes on … And won't you kiss me on that midnight street, sweep me off my feet, singing ain't this life so sweet …"
"I didn't know you liked David Gray," Blaine said, his heart thudding as he listened to the lyrics.
She whipped around, and her face lit up when she saw him. "Blaine!" she squealed, running around the counter to throw her arms around his neck. "Oh my god, it's been ages – and Kurt, how are you guys? Oh I'm so glad you came in today – where's Romeo?"
"At home," Kurt answered with a smile, returning the hug that she offered him. "It's good to see you, too."
"I was beginning to worry that you'd found another coffee shop!"
"Nope," Blaine said simply. "It's just – it's been a long year, and I haven't been able to write much –"
"Oh, honey, it's fine, I'm just glad you're back!" Wendy exclaimed. "Your coffees are on the house today. What do you want?"
Once they were settled at a table outside, Wendy sneaking glances out the window at them at regular intervals, Blaine felt himself relax. He was on a date. With Kurt. For coffee. It felt almost as familiar to him as breathing.
"So," he said, taking a sip of his medium drip.
"So," Kurt replied, "do you want to hear how Rachel almost burned down our kitchen the other day?"
"Again?" Blaine asked, incredulous, and apparently that was icebreaker enough – they were laughing together like they'd always done, their ankles crossed over each other's as if nothing had ever changed.
They sat at their little table as they drank their coffee, swapping stories of two separate lives. Kurt entertained Blaine with accounts of Rachel's sometimes overzealous cooking endeavors – "I swear, that girl will never learn how to flambé anything" – and Blaine whined to Kurt about how Alex was hounding him to churn something out – "'I don't care if it's shit, Blaine,' he tells me, 'I just need something.'" Wendy came out and brought them new drinks, and a tendril of jealousy unfurled in Blaine's stomach as they began to talk of Nick's and Jeff's budding romance.
"It's adorable and totally sickening at the same time," Blaine sighed. "God, our friends must've hated us in high school."
"Mercedes had a hard time with it, I know," Kurt mused, petting his hand over the back of Blaine's, and he couldn't help the feeling of déjà vu that washed over him – they could have just as easily been back in the Lima Bean twelve years prior. "But I can't say that I was ever particularly sorry."
"No," Blaine agreed. "I wasn't either. I – I miss it, actually."
Kurt beamed, and Blaine felt a flame of … something, he wasn't sure what, flicker inside of him. Hope, maybe? Love? …Was he getting a crush on his husband?
"It is sweet though – Nick and Jeff, I mean," Kurt said. "They're so new, if that makes sense. And whenever I see Jeff, he's just walking around in awe – you know he's been in love with Nick since he was fifteen, right?"
"I can't believe I never knew," Blaine said, shaking his head.
"Nobody knew. I can't imagine how awful that would have been. I was so obvious when I fell for you, but at least people knew, and I could talk about it. Jeff didn't have anybody."
"Until he had you." Blaine nudged Kurt's foot with his. "I'm glad you were able to be there for him. You're always so good at that …"
Kurt blushed. "Stop. If you're saying that I'm the reason they're together, you're completely off-base –"
"No, not the reason – that was all them. But you did give Jeff the courage to try, right?"
"And here all this time I thought you were the one who encouraged people to be brave," Kurt grinned.
"I might encourage, but you inspire, Kurt. You're always so brave yourself …"
"Not always." He reached across the table to squeeze Blaine's hand. "I'm not very brave when it comes to losing you."
Oh the things one sentence from Kurt's mouth could still do to Blaine's heart, oh oh oh. He brought Kurt's hand up to his lips, kissing his knuckles. "You won't, Kurt. I'll never make you worry about that again …"
"Is that a promise?"
"I swear it," Blaine said, nodding solemnly. "Never again."
Kurt sat back as he contemplated Blaine's words. "Okay," he said slowly. "Okay."
"Kurt? Do you believe me?"
"I think I'm starting to."Cont'd...