Spoilers (if any): None.
Warnings (if any): None.
Word Count: ~3,000
Summary: Continuing from where we were with Following Home and These Thousand Names for Gratitude.
Somewhere a little voice in the back of Kurt's mind is screaming, Are we really having a fight about voter registration? But the fact is that they are, because Blaine's got the paperwork to change his driver's license to Massachusetts stacked on the kitchen counter and he's checked the little box to make his registration go with that, but, oh my god, his vote is so much more needed in Ohio, and Kurt tells him just that.
“But I don't live in Ohio anymore, do I?” It's petulant, in a way that Kurt isn't used to Blaine being. Although it's not like he's really surprised.
“Well,” he tries to say like this isn't a big deal about their identities and their relationship and the permanence of this whole Boston thing, “neither do I, but I'm still going to vote there.”
Blaine rolls his eyes, wrenches the refrigerator door open, briefly considers its contents, and then slams it shut again.
Kurt just raises an eyebrow.
Blaine makes an exasperated noise. “Look, if you can't leave this one alone, can you at least drop the Kurt Hummel patented innocence routine?"
“Excuse me?” Now Kurt is angry, and in a second Blaine will say something else appalling and then Kurt will destroy him. He knows this, because this is how he is made and he doesn't understand, really, how Blaine can lack the same sort of clever viciousness and yet still manage to be so cruel.
“Kurt, we live here, because my parents threw me out of my house,” Blaine is shouting. “You get talk to your family and go home for Thanksgiving. The one conversation I've had with my family since May was my dad calling to remind me to fill out the form certifying that no children live here that would require us to get window guards. So no, I don't live in Ohio anymore. And maybe you can pretend like you do or see this as temporary or whatever, but I have got to get on with things. And right now that means not carrying the evidence of my exile around in my pocket.”
“Oh, Blaine,” Kurt says, and wraps him up in his arms.
Blaine goes, willingly, and Kurt's glad, because he's still angry, even if his heart is breaking for his boyfriend, and having his sympathy be rejected would not be a good plan right now.
“You know you're welcome home with me for Thanksgiving, right?”
“And if you don't want to go, we can stay here, and you can buy me a cute apron with lots of ruffles and I can try to figure out how to cook a turkey, and it will be fine.”
Blaine gives a small, weak laugh.
“I know none of those things are what you actually want,” Kurt continues, even though it costs him a little bit to say it, because he would love for Blaine to be happy about coming home with him, “but they're what you've got. And they don't sound all bad to me. No matter where you want to vote.”
Blaine untangles himself from Kurt. “It's going to feel really fucked up for me to go home to Ohio without going home.”
“Well,” Kurt says, trying to be brave and logical and adult, since Blaine just can't. “When we get there, why don't you give your mother a call, and see if she'll meet you for coffee?”
“Wait, why does Blaine get to stay in Kurt's room, but --”
“Because they live together,” Burt says, cutting Finn off.
“Clearly, he saw that one coming,” Kurt murmurs to Blaine as they climb the stairs, smug and pleased with himself, because he's the one who actually has someone, and because maybe it will help Blaine to stop treating Boston as if it's just some sort of vacation Kurt is taking. School is way too hard for that to be true. So is living with Blaine, sometimes.
But Blaine rewards him with a grin and a hand low enough on his back to be just slightly inappropriate. It makes Kurt want to sing.
It's Carole who absolutely gloms on to Blaine right away. Kurt's a little surprised by that, because she's always been somewhat outside of this particular drama. Kurt loves her and she loves Kurt, but his big gay story started before her really, and so this whole mess with Boston and Blaine and Blaine's dad has been this thing she's half hovered outside of, quietly advocating for Kurt's independence when she can; Kurt is sure it was her who had made sure that the matter of he and Blaine staying in his old bedroom together had been resolved before they arrived. And it makes him smile when she ruffles Blaine's hair affectionately and asks him if he'd prefer waffles or eggs in the morning.
Kurt's going to have to tell her to stop, though. Because he can see Blaine's grateful. But he can also see that Blaine's shattered.
“What are you boys doing today?” Burt asks when they come downstairs on Wednesday morning, Blaine already showered and dressed and Kurt in pajamas and a dressing gown.
“I'm going to have coffee with my mother, actually," Blaine says.
Kurt doesn't know when that happened, but he thinks he's glad of it. Worried too. And maybe a little bit jealous. He misses his mom, in his own way, and thinks maybe he'll ask his dad if they can go out to the cemetery later.
“Do you... I mean, I know you don't need me to go with you, but....”
“I'll be fine,” Blaine says, and Kurt can tell that he's trying to be gentle, even though he isn't really.
In the car to the cemetery, Kurt can't help twisting his fingers in his lap, even as he's keenly aware of how much energy his father is expending not to say anything about it. Kurt always feels so young on this drive, but today he also feels like he doesn't know how to be that person anymore, and it scares him, deeply.
“How are you and Blaine doing?” his dad asks, gruffly.
“It's really hard,” Kurt says, without thinking, aghast when he realizes it's come out of his mouth and how close to tears he sounds.
“Is that you guys or college or what?”
“College, mostly. His parents. We don't know what we're doing.”
“He still make you happy though?”
“Yes,” Kurt says breathlessly, and it's such a relief, he hadn't known it until he'd said it. “This whole thing is really hard for him.”
Burt is silent a long time, and when he speaks Kurt can tell he's glad that he can keep his eyes fixed on the road instead of looking at his son.
“I like Blaine. He's a good kid. But sometimes, I look at him, and I get so angry that a lot of people are always going to be inclined to take him more seriously because he's less....”
“Flamboyant?” Kurt offers into the silence with resigned amusement.
“Honest,” his father corrects. “Than you. You're a lot stronger than him, kiddo. I know that. I think you know that. I don't think he knows that. So yeah, I bet this is hard.”
Kurt turns his head to stare out the window, schooling his features so as to disguise their giddiness. It would be hard for him to explain how glad he is to be seen. “We're working on it,” he says, the smile obvious in his voice.
Blaine doesn't know what he's expecting, but it's not his mother hugging him in the Lima Bean and then brushing the curls off his forehead, like she's forgotten how to be since he hasn't been around to be her son.
“I am so glad you called,” she says.
“Does Dad know you're here?” he asks, getting it out of the way.
She shakes her head.
Blaine feels annoyed that this should possibly be even more complicated than he expected, and ushers her towards a table, careful to be the gentleman he was raised to be.
“It felt weird to be in the area and not call, although I know it's sort of against the rules, but I've never really known what you've thought about any of this, and I guess I'd like to so I can get on with things.”
She gazes at him, and like she's either heard nothing or everything that he's said, asks simply, “How's Boston?”
Through the entire conversation, Blaine can't shake the feeling that she's about to start crying.
“How was it?” Kurt finally asks when they're in bed, his head pillowed on Blaine's chest and Blaine fidgeting absently with the sleeve of Kurt's pajamas.
“Strange. I'm glad I did it.”
“Did it resolve anything for you?” Kurt asks, more than a bit hesitantly.
“I think,” Blaine starts and then stops. “I think we learn a lot from our parents. I think... I think I have no idea what I'm doing, because they have absolutely no idea what they're doing,” he says, huffing out a slight laugh. “I don't know what's going on with them or with me and her or – I mean, I'm pretty clear on where my dad stands – but I feel like I'm going to be okay, now. Maybe.” He tightens his arms around Kurt. “And that's new. And I'm sorry you've been having to watch me flail through this whole thing of my being hurt like I never have before.”
“Does this mean you're going to keep your registration in Ohio?” Kurt asks, teasing.
“No. I'm totally bringing that shit in when we get back.”
Kurt doesn't entirely succeed in suppressing his sigh, but still manages to say, “Okay,” and actually mean it.
Blaine kisses the top of his head. “So, here's a thing. And you don't have to answer now.”
“Okaaaaay,” Kurt says nervously.
“Are you going to go home for the summer?”
Kurt smiles against Blaine. “For a couple of weeks, yeah. But I know where I live. I'm hoping you're starting to get a handle on that too.”
“Yeah,” Blaine says, and Kurt can tell he's moved by the tension in his chest.
Thanksgiving happens in shifts. They sit down for dinner at three, Kurt smiling a little too much when his dad gives Blaine the honors of cutting the turkey and Blaine has absolutely no idea what he's doing.
Dessert and friends start showing up at five. Kurt can't believe how good it is to wrap Mercedes up in his arms, or, of all things, to see Puck when he shows up with a six-pack and a somewhat inexplicable word of congratulations for him and Blaine an hour later. Finn keeps texting Quinn, trying to get her to come over, but it's pretty clear that that's still a hot mess. In the middle of it all – as Puck calls Artie and Tina texts Blaine and Finn wonders what Santana is up to – Kurt wonders how it is his life, his house, that has somehow become the center of the world.
He's so grateful, especially when Blaine slips an arm around his waist and suggests they try to get together with the Dalton guys tomorrow, like he's actually, finally glad to be here.
“That would be fantastic,” Kurt says softly, smiling at his father and Carole who are looking on, when Blaine's phone rings, and he pulls away to answer it.
“Yeah, hang on,” he says, and hangs up, slipping away from Kurt.
Kurt watches him go out the front door, tense and strange and determined, and it's like a movie, as he greets a woman under a street lamp then steps into her arms, his head on her shoulder. She holds him awkwardly, some sort of casserole dish stranded in one hand.
None of his friends notice as Kurt steps out the front door and onto the porch.
Blaine raises his head and gestures for Kurt. “My mom decided to come by, I hope that's okay.”
All Kurt can think is Department of Not Expected and also that Blaine sounds so young.
“Of course it's okay,” he says, unsure of what to do next. “Can I take that from you?” he asks, reaching for the casserole dish.
When she laughs it's embarrassed and girlish in a way Kurt likes immediately. He's only met her once before, for a few moments after one of their competitions. Things had been particularly bad with Blaine's father then – who was somewhere between disappointed his son had decided to leave Dalton and relieved he wasn't going to have to put so much money into one more thing that might be fueling his son's homosexuality (consistent logic, Kurt notes, not Mr. Anderson's strong suit) – and Kurt had done his best to make himself scarce.
“It's nice to see you again,” Kurt says. “We've met before but –”
“There wasn't really an opportunity,” she finishes for him.
He smiles, relieved. “Yes. Yes, it's so good you can be here now... you can be here now? I mean... do you want to come in?” he asks, his whole body turning nervous.
“That would be lovely. I... I want to hear all about your lives. I feel like I miss so much,” she says.
It sounds so sad and awkward, even though Kurt is seriously angry that she's never really stood up for Blaine against his father, that he can't help but try to smooth it over. “We do grow up so fast,” he says, and cringes when it sounds bitchier than he intends.
In the light of the living room, as they introduce her to his father and Carole, he can see how much she and Blaine resemble each other. Her hair is straightened, expensively – Kurt would know a $600, imported-from-Japan process anywhere – but it frizzes slightly at the roots, and in its natural state, he guesses it's like Blaine's. Their cheeks are the same, and the shape of their brow bones and lips. Kurt finds it eerie and beautiful and feels sad that he cannot divulge these same sort of mysteries to Blaine because his own mother is dead.
Everyone's talking at once, but Kurt feels like he can't hear anything. He can only see his father staring curiously at this woman and Carole with a hand on his arm in case he gets angry and his friends and step-brother in a heap on the sofa, still too loud, but watching now, like they understand something important is happening. And Blaine, Blaine who looks like he can breathe because his mother's hand is on his back.
Kurt looks down at the casserole dish he's holding and announces to no one in particular that it's blueberry crumble.
It's Rachel Berry who saves them. Rachel who walks up to the Hummels' front door and just wanders in because Kurt and Blaine have stupidly left it open and announces her presence like she's the most important event in the room. It's ridiculous. It's exactly why Kurt often can't stand her, but right at that moment, he adores her more than anything and anyone that has ever graced this world. He slides the casserole dish onto the table that's still covered in left-overs and flings himself at her, squeezing her tight.
“I love you, Rachel Berry,” he whispers in her ear.
She laughs and squeezes him back. “And I love you, Kurt Hummel,” she shouts.
Every spell in the room is broken. Blaine throws his head back and laughs, before detaching from his mother's side and reaching out to reel Kurt in.
Kurt twists to face him and bounces on his toes. “Tell me you're happy,” he says.
Blaine kisses him and leans their foreheads together. It's answer enough.
That night, when the kitchen's been cleaned and everyone's gone home and Blaine's mother has promised to call, soon, before they head back to school, Kurt marvels at how really strange the world can be, as he lies in the bed he grew up in, Blaine hovering over him.
He'd first slept beside Blaine here, not even that long ago, even if it was because Blaine was drunk and had kissed Rachel (of all people, really). Kurt had been terrified then, and yet was so oddly glad now that all that had happened.
Blaine presses a finger up inside him. It's new, and, like everything else lately, strange. It hurts – like Boston, like love, like family – but not enough to stop. Kurt doesn't really care if the analogy is inappropriate, although he does feel a little bad about how his mind is wandering.
Certainly, it doesn't escape Blaine's notice. “Still with me?” he asks, voice fond.
Kurt nods, dazed.
“Is this working for you?”
Kurt spreads his legs a little wider, and tilts his head back further so that his chin nearly points at the ceiling.
“I haven't... decided... yet,” he says between strained breaths. “But... I like that, that you're doing it.”
Blaine smiles and leans up to kiss Kurt's throat.
“Don't stop,” Kurt adds. “I won't break.”
Next: Circles as the Dark Winds Down