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A Recovery Story

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Kurt sighed as he laid out the final pile of clothes on hangers onto the sofa. The stack dwarfed the back of the couch. It leaned precariously to the left, but he managed to catch it before it fell, propping it up carefully. He glanced between the pile of clothes and his relatively small suitcase. He was a packing master, used to having to fit a fabulous wardrobe into a carryon piece of luggage, but this was a bit ridiculous. He was going to work for a fashion company. It wasn’t like he could skimp out on his clothes. If the suitcase wasn’t enough, he still had boxes.

He’d packed everything else first, of course. Knick knacks, photos of his friends from glee, the printed picture of himself and Blaine that he kept in a frame on his bedside table, his many, many toiletries. He’d spent hours pouring through his audition sheet music collection, narrowing it down to only the things he truly needed. Everything was packed in boxes carefully labeled with their contents. He stared down at the pile of clothes, chewing on his lip. Clothes, shoes, accessories. Those were the final items on his to-do list. The final things he needed to sort out before he packed his Navigator in the morning.

The knock on the door made him jump. He rolled his eyes at himself as he walked over, hearing Pam’s voice through the door.

“You’re sure you took it? Because if you didn’t, I can run home and grab it. You’ll be a bit off schedule, but that’s better than not taking it at all.”

“Mom, I’m- I’m-,” an annoyed breath from Blaine, “I’m fine.”

Movement, probably Pam walking around the chair. “Yes, I know you’re fine, you’re always fine, but Sarah wasn’t there to see you take them, and I don’t want you to have to end up back in the hospital again when you only just came home-”

Kurt opened the door with a slightly forced smile, figuring Blaine needed a rescue. He looked extremely annoyed, and Pam looked extremely frazzled. Still, when Blaine caught sight of Kurt, his entire face lit up with a grin. Kurt’s answering smile became a lot more genuine.

“Hi,” Blaine said softly, clearly trying to keep himself somewhat contained, for his mother’s benefit.

“Hi,” Kurt said with an answering smile. He reached out to brush a bit of snow off Blaine’s beanie and looked to Pam, bundled up in a fabulous designer coat. “Come on in,” he said as he stepped aside.

He watched Pam push Blaine through to the living room, wincing at the little jolt as he crossed the threshold. Kurt’s house wasn’t exactly accessible. One of his Christmas presents from his dad had been a homemade accessibility ramp to put over the front porch steps so Blaine could visit. Even with that, Blaine couldn’t possibly get to Kurt’s bedroom. Thus, the massive pile of clothes on the sofa. The couch had been pushed back against the wall and the coffee table moved completely out of the way to accommodate Blaine’s chair. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a start. His dad had plans for more improvements that would help Blaine feel welcome. Hopefully, they could get through them a little at a time.

“How are you, Mrs. Anderson?” Kurt asked quietly, attempting to be polite. Things were uncomfortable between them, now that he and Blaine were dating. She hadn’t taken the news particularly well, from what he’d heard. Blaine had wanted to tell her on his own, and Kurt had respected that. She hadn’t changed how she acted toward Kurt, but he had a feeling her reaction might be the cause of the friction between her and her son. He didn’t have any idea at all how John had taken it. The one time he’d asked, Blaine had stuttered so badly that he’d dropped the subject. They’d talk about it when Blaine was ready.

“He may have forgotten his anti-epileptic this morning,” Pam said immediately, turning to Kurt. “Do you still have all of the numbers I gave you? I wouldn’t have even let him come, but I know you’re leaving tomorrow, and he would never forgive me if he didn’t see you before then.”

Kurt raised an eyebrow, turning to Blaine. “Did you forget them?”

Blaine huffed out an annoyed breath. “No.” He was firm, insistent, there was no hesitation or doubt. Kurt’s shoulders relaxed, but he turned back to Pam. “Alright. I still have every number, and I promise to call if he even breathes funny. I’ve got the taxi company on speed dial, and if worst comes to worst, Sarah showed me how to help him into a car without wheelchair access and get him out again. I promise, I’ll keep him safe.”

Kurt could actually see Pam grinding her teeth. He took a half a step back so he didn’t have to hear it, too. “Fine,” she said eventually. “I’ll be back in three hours to collect him. He has his meds with him if his headache gets any worse. And don’t forget that we’re going to physical therapy after this, Blaine, don’t work yourself too hard.”

Blaine nodded, clearly too annoyed to bother trying to talk again. Pam kissed his forehead and swept out of the room, slamming the door behind her.

Kurt pulled up a folding chair he had for just this occasion to sit in front of Blaine, smiling gently at him. “Rough morning?”

Blaine sighed, opening up the journal in his lap to write. “Sarah didn’t actually see me take my pills this morning, because she doesn’t think that’s necessary anymore. Mom panicked. I took them. I know I took them. I wrote it on a sticky. I tried to show her half a dozen times, but she doesn’t think that it counts as proof.” He held up a bright green note that had a rough calendar on it and a check mark for that day.

Kurt nodded. “Well, I’m glad you took them. And that you’re writing it down. I don’t exactly want to have to see you have a seizure. I’m sorry your mom is being so paranoid. I know she’s just worried.” Blaine’s expression twisted, and he was quick to change the subject. He found Blaine’s hand and squeezed it gently. “So, how’s Alex?”

Blaine’s entire face lit up. Kurt had sat down for a long conversation with Pam when he’d first walked back into Blaine’s life about the things that she might be able to do to help him. The first order of business was getting him back to Alex for physical therapy. Kurt had gone with him, the first time he’d been back to the rehab center. Seeing the two of them play off each other had been amazing. Blaine’s speech was even better when he was with his old friend. Initially, Kurt had felt that little thrill of jealousy. It was still there, even now. But he was working on it. Alex was Blaine’s friend. Kurt didn’t want Blaine completely alone while he was gone. They were good together. Kurt just had to keep reminding himself that Blaine wasn’t interested in anybody else.

Blaine scribbled on the page for a long time before he started reading it out. “He’s great. He’s not letting me write as much to talk to him, which is annoying. I’m digging for words a lot. But he says that I’ve been doing really well at standing. I’m going to get to start trying to walk again, soon. With a walker. Or the bars in the gym. If I try on my own again, he might murder me. But still, it’s walking. Actual forward movement. He’s working with me on my arms, too. We had a wheelchair race in the hallway last time I was there, and I almost won. Have you seen his arms? I think he may have been going easy on me, but still.”

Kurt couldn’t help his grin at Blaine’s enthusiasm. “Sounds like you’re making some real progress. You’re going to have to take a video of a wheelchair race for me at some point, that sounds amazing. By the time I get to visit, you’ll be a lean, mean, walking machine.”

Blaine laughed, shrugging his shoulders. He wrote again for a moment. “Maybe. But even if I’m not, I’ll be able to push myself a little more when we go out on dates. I can’t wait.”

Kurt nodded, feeling a little thrill at the idea of more dates with Blaine. He hesitated for a moment, biting his lip. “Okay, so I know this is sort of a random transition, and I know it’s really late, since it’s January, and I know we talked about not getting each other Christmas presents, but I sort of have something for you anyway.” Blaine’s amused look at his ridiculous run-on sentence was oddly comforting. He stood and walked to the entertainment center, grabbing a stack of papers he’d left there. He straightened them, moving back over to Blaine, feeling weirdly nervous. This was a good thing. He knew it was a good thing. Blaine would probably love it. He really hoped Blaine loved it. “So, I told you that I called Vogue to accept their offer.” At Blaine’s alarmed expression, he held up a hand. “I did! I swear, I did. I would never have lied about something that important. And I’m moving tomorrow. It’d be a weird time to admit that.” He stopped himself, forcing a deep breath. Why on earth was he so nervous? “But I sort of didn’t mention that I might have… negotiated a little.” He handed over the stack of papers. “This isn’t my contract. That was super boring and would probably just give you a headache.” Or make it worse, given Pam’s comment from before. “But it’s- Well, I thought you might like a list. A reminder. When I’m not here and you’re wondering and-,” he trailed off, shaking his head. “I swear, I practiced a very suave speech to give while I handed this over.” He cleared his throat. “Well, the first page is the stuff we’ve talked about. Weekly skype calls, texting every day, phone calls twice a week. Stuff like that. I don’t know what my schedule’s going to be like, but I’m sure we’ll figure out when we can talk pretty quickly. There are some extra things on there, too, that I thought would be nice.”

Blaine was grinning, reading the bullet points. He raised an eyebrow, looking up at Kurt and reading off one of the items on the list. “Pictures at every PT session?”

Kurt nodded. “Yeah. I mean, it doesn’t have to be the sweaty part. I know that’s still a little uncomfortable for you. Though seeing my boyfriend all sweaty in the gym isn’t exactly going to have me complaining.” He flushed and cleared his throat. “The point is that I’m really proud of you and the work you’ve been doing. Plus, Alex will be there, and I know he’ll take pictures or selfies or videos or whatever, and-,” he cut himself off. “Sorry, I’m rambling. It’s weird. And if you don’t like it, obviously, we don’t have to.”

Blaine was clearly trying to hide a smile. “We’ll do our- um, our best.”

Kurt nodded. He watched Blaine get to the end of the page and flip to the next one. The butterflies in his stomach multiplied. “Right. So this is the part that I may not have told you that I discussed with Vogue. I- I actually got all of this stuff from HR. This list is what they sent me in their final email when they agreed to my terms. If you’re in the hospital for any reason, I get to come home.” There were a bunch of technicalities, he’d have to make up the hours or work from home or use his PTO, but he would always be allowed to leave. “You and I can talk about it. If you don’t want me here and I don’t think it’s necessary, I might not, but I always have the option. Ditto for if you go through with talking to Detective McMillan and you decide to testify.” A shadow passed over Blaine’s face. “I know it might not happen, but I wanted them to be prepared for the possibility of a court case. That’s all.” At Blaine’s very slight nod, he continued. “Also, they’re going to buy me a plane ticket once a month to come see you.” He had a feeling they’d dropped his compensation slightly to make up the difference, but he didn’t care. He wouldn’t have to feel guilty about buying plane tickets, and they probably had some kind of preferred pricing anyway. “We get to pick the weekend, but they’ll pay for it. So I have a guaranteed trip to come home and see you every four weeks-ish. The next twelve pages are a calendar. I put little stars on the weekends I think might work, but we’ll figure all of that out later. I thought maybe you’d want to put it up by your bed? We can put our phonecalls and stuff on it, so that it helps you know when you’re going to see or hear from me next. If you want to.”

Blaine was thumbing through the calendar. Each page was color-coded for the month (and to match the color scheme of Blaine’s room, of course), and each featured at least one picture of the two of them. It was printed out on plain computer paper. He could have had a much fancier one made, but he sort of liked that this one felt temporary. As soon as Blaine was well enough, he’d be moving out to New York to join him. He chewed on his lip as Blaine looked at each page. “Please say something, I’m kind of freaking out.”

Blaine looked up at him, then. His eyes were wet, even though he was grinning. Kurt immediately moved closer as Blaine straightened up the papers. He wrapped him up in the half hug that was possible while Blaine was in the chair. “Good tears?”

“Good tears,” came the muffled confirmation from his chest.

Kurt held onto him for a long moment, gently rubbing his back, giving Blaine a second to collect himself. He was the one to pull back eventually, reaching up to rub at his eyes. Kurt took the papers and slipped them into a folder. He tucked them into the pocket of Blaine’s wheelchair so neither of them would forget them.

Blaine looked up at him and shook his head as he moved back to the front of the chair. “It’s- it’s- um, perfect.” He reached out for Kurt’s hand. PT was helping, he was only off by a few inches. Kurt found it and squeezed. “I’m gonna get Sarah’s help to- to put it up today. And you- you really- um, convinced them to- to pay?”

Kurt grinned, nodding. “I really did. I told them that I wouldn’t accept the job offer unless there was a guaranteed, designated time for me to come home and see my family. You included.” He squeezed Blaine’s hand again. “I’m really glad you like it,” he said quietly. “I know the paperwork isn’t much, but it’s- I want you to know that this doesn’t change anything between us. I’m leaving Ohio, but I’m not leaving you. I’m going to be here every chance I get. I’m going to be with you. This is just a temporary distance.”

Blaine nodded. He took a deep breath and grabbed for his journal again, flipping to a page marked by a blue sticky note. He wrote for a moment and looked at Kurt with an almost sheepish smile. “Well, your gift kind of kicks my gift’s ass.”

“Oh, shush,” Kurt said with a laugh. “You got me something?”

Blaine shook his head. “Um, not- not really.” He looked down at the journal again. “I wanted you to have something when you were in New York, something that reminded you of me. So I made you something.” He fished in his pocket and brought out a tiny little box, wrapped terribly in brightly colored paper and a silver bow. He handed it to Kurt with a smile. “Alex helped- um, helped me wrap it.”

Kurt laughed. “Fine motor skills, huh?” At Blaine’s nod, he started carefully unwrapping the box, not wanting to tear any of it. It was ridiculous, the paper had been torn by the wrapping process in multiple places, the entire thing was held together with what had to be a pound of tape, but he loved it. Inside was a little jewelry box. It was his turn to raise an eyebrow at Blaine.

“It’s not- um, not what you’re- you’re thinking.”

Kurt hummed and opened it carefully. Inside wasn’t diamonds or a macaroni necklace (something he’d truly feared, given the wrap job). Instead, it was a stack of sticky notes, freshly out of the package, completely blank, from what he could see. They were lovely, slightly pearlescent, an entire rainbow of colors. As sticky notes went, they were insanely nice. But they were only sticky notes. His brow furrowed a little and he looked at Blaine.

Blaine’s cheeks were bright red as he looked back down at the notebook, clearly a little nervous. “Take the first one off.”

Kurt did as he was told, lifting the blank purple sticky away. On the next note down was a shakily written note. It said ‘Kurt’s Christmas Present: Day 1’. Underneath that in smaller handwriting (Blaine was gaining much better control), it said ‘I’m going to miss you. I’m proud of you. Kick New York’s ass!’ Kurt laughed, heart swelling. It was so sweet, so simple. “I love it, Blaine.”

He looked over to see that Blaine was still looking down at his journal, cheeks turning a darker shade of red. “There’s one for every day. Well, for the first 100 days. I’ll have to send you another pack after that. I know sticky notes are sort of my thing, and I don’t expect you to keep them all or anything. They’d look a little silly all over your apartment. But I wanted you to have them. A little reminder for every day that we’re apart that I’m still here and I still really care about you.”

Kurt had to swallow hard. A note from Blaine every single day. A piece of home. He carefully tucked the blank sticky note back into the box and closed it, slipping it into his pocket. Blaine might not expect him to keep them all, but he already knew he’d never be able to throw them away. He moved to crouch in front of Blaine’s chair, hands on the handles. “Blaine,” he said softly, waiting until he looked up. “That is the single sweetest thing anyone’s boyfriend could ever have possibly done.” At Blaine’s laugh, he grinned. “I love it. I- I’m going to look at these every single day, okay?” He took Blaine’s hand and ran his thumb lightly over the back of it. “I know I did this completely wrong the first time, so this time, I’m going to ask.” He looked up at Blaine, eyes sparkling with mischief. “Blaine Anderson, dearest boyfriend, person I will miss more than anyone as I move to the great city of New York, may I kiss you?”

Blaine threw his head back and laughed, the sound filling Kurt up until he couldn’t contain a laugh of his own. When Blaine looked at him again, his eyes were warm and bright and beautiful. “Yes, oh- um, dramatic one, you can.”

Kurt leaned up slowly. He cupped Blaine’s cheek with his hand, stroking over the smooth skin. He closed his eyes and pressed their lips together. His breath caught in his lungs. It was so different from their first kiss, when Blaine had been pale and still and unresponsive. Now, he was warm and real and perfect as their lips slid together. Kurt could feel his heart pounding in his chest, skin breaking out in goosebumps. It was over far too soon, as Blaine pulled away to breathe. Kurt blinked his eyes open as he found his chair again, biting at his still-tingling bottom lip. “Okay, you’re a way better kisser when you’re conscious.”

Blaine’s laugh set his heart on fire.

 

When he waved goodbye to Blaine and Pam from his porch three hours later, his clothing was packed (in his suitcase and four additional boxes), his shoes were nearly finished, his accessories had been culled and set carefully in their own box. He was nervous. He was terrified. He didn’t want to leave Blaine alone. He was afraid that he’d arrive at Vogue and somehow this would all be a prank. He was worried about getting along with Rachel’s roommate until they could get the living situation figured out, scared of leaving his dad to care for himself after his heart attack, nervous that Blaine maybe really had forgotten his epilepsy medication and he’d get the call that he was on his way to the hospital. He shivered and tucked his hands into his pockets.

His fingers brushed against something hard. A box full of sticky notes. A little message from Blaine every day for a hundred days. The worry in his chest faded as he ran his fingers over the smooth edges of the box. Things wouldn’t be easy. There would be challenges that they couldn’t even imagine, now. But with everything they’d been through, they’d come out the other side together. Whatever the world had in store for them, they could handle it. He smiled at the memory of Blaine’s bright eyes, his laugh. He turned toward the house, a determined set to his shoulders.

“New York, here I come.”