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I try so damn hard to stay positive that it hurts. I try to look at the clear sky and appreciate the view from my balcony, overlooking Manhattan in all its glory but I can’t enjoy it. If anything it’s a little offensive, taunting me. How dare you continue to be breathtaking when my world is over? The breeze is cool today, it's nice. Exactly what you’d expect on an October afternoon. Maybe it’s a bit too cold to be standing on my balcony in a pair of boxers but the cold feels good. As cliche as it sounds, it’s something to feel. Well, something that doesn’t make me feel like ripping my chest in half. I wonder what he’s up to now. Obviously, he’s doing dead people stuff but like all things Kurt there must be some specifics and nitty-gritty details. Maybe he’s still in the in-between, looking over me and making sure I don’t crack my head open trying to fold our fitted sheets which apparently cost him two paychecks. I don’t know, they’re a whole lot softer than what I’ve been used to so I was alright with him reminding me to wash them under the ‘gentle care’ setting every single time we changed them. Maybe he’s already in that eternal garden place, catching up with Finn and his mom. He has a lot to tell them both, all the shows, graduating NYADA, his Vogue promotion, moving in with me, everything.

God, I hope his mom doesn’t hate me.

I lower myself to sit, leaning against the cool glass of the balcony. In my hand I’m holding a box of Winstons and an ugly ass yellow Bic lighter. He actually gave me a proper one, Kurt, I mean. Now it sits in my drawer in the box it came in. It was a birthday present last year from him. He gave a long speech on why disposable lighters would cause the zombie apocalypse- or something like that. It was a bit hard to focus when he was more or less straddling me in our living room after everyone left our apartment. I swear, I tried to tell him that they’d stay on way past midnight but he shook his head and told me I was being silly. He reached back for a little box on the coffee table as I put my hands on his love handles to steady him. Looking up at me, he unwrapped it with the cutest shy little smile. Almost like he wasn’t sure if I’d like it (which was totally uncalled for, of course I’d like whatever he got for me). The box was black, just on this side of heavy. I could tell it was something expensive, though. That was just Kurt’s style. It was a small silver lighter, engraved with a guitar on the front and his name in fancy, loopy script. Kurt 1/2. I looked up at him.

“I bet you’re wondering why my name’s on your present, aren’t you?”, he said as he scooched a little closer to me and brought his arms up to rest on the nape of my neck.

“Well, yeah I am. Why not just Noah?”

“Take a look at the other side, baby.” He grinned at me sweetly, intertwining his arms behind me.

It was indented, at first sight it just looked like a groove which would make holding it a little easier. Not that big, but it had a triangular shape that looked really damn familiar. I looked at Kurt and took him in from head to toe, searching. A little flushed from the wine but otherwise sober. He was wearing the same chain around his neck as usual, the one he never took off. His mom’s wedding ring and a tiny replica of Finn’s dog tags were the only charms on that chain… wait. There was a new charm next to the other two ones. It was silver too, a tiny guitar pick. He caught my eye and shot me a grin, obviously pleased that I had figured it out. I traced the chain with my fingers, a barely there caress. And I saw it. It hung next to his mom’s ring, Finn’s tags, and now there was my pick there too. I touched the cool metal and turned it over. There it was. Noah 1/2. I brought the hand holding my lighter up to his neck and slowly slotted the pick into the groove on my lighter. With a magnetic snap, it settled in tight right in front of my eyes. I remember thinking, It’s just like us. How we fit together. I don’t remember crying but I remember his soft fingers on my cheeks, brushing away moisture. Those long, thin fingers that could draw the cleverest designs and thunk out any tune on a piano. Those fingers that I would watch slowly disappear into him as he stretched himself open for me, fingers with carefully manicured nails that scratched lines down my back and my neck and my ass. The marks he left are long gone but I doubt I will ever be able or even want to forget them. If I close my eyes, I can feel them on me. His cool fingers gliding over my skin, leaving butterfly kisses in their wake. Those casual touches on my shoulders as he walked past me on his way to the shower, the light tracing of an inane pattern on my stomach as he rested his head on my chest and I could feel all of his sleep-warm body against my side. The desperate clawing into the scruff of my neck and the slow, attentive motions running over my calves and feet after a long day of recording in the studio where I had inevitably lost the feeling in my lower half after sitting down for too long. Mischievous swipes and pinches when I would wrap him in my arms while he was cooking at the stove, his shoulders shaking with every breathy laugh and threat of bodily harm if I didn’t cut it out and give him a hand with the vegetables.

“Half and half, two halves. Together, complete,” He whispered in my left ear.

He tasted like red wine and salty tears. And a bit of something else. Promise.

***

I woke up to the sound of my alarm screeching in my ear. Rubbing a palm over my face, I picked it up and scrolled through my Calendar for a bit. For what reason though? I’d already cancelled all my gigs and interviews since last month. I won’t have to be back to work for another six weeks, give or take. I exhaled slowly and looked around our- my room. His things were still on his dresser, his drawers still full to the brim and his shoes at the back of our closet. Hell, even all his clothes which threatened to escape his half of the closet were all still hung up and colour-coded. Who knows how long it’ll be till I finally clean out your closet, donate your clothes and take back all my shirts you stole? Hell, Kurt. I don’t know. I don’t know when I’ll go through your stuff, I don’t know when I’ll clear out your creams in the medicine cabinet. I don’t know when I’m going to stop buying that hibiscus tea you like when I go grocery shopping and I don’t know when I’ll cancel your magazine subscriptions. I have no clue when I’ll be able to listen to Katy Perry on the radio without thinking of all the times you demanded I change the station. I want to be able to live without you and make you proud, Kurt. I really, really do. I know that’s what you’d want me to do. You’d want me to carry out the funeral, take care of your dad and Carole, keep an eye on Rachel and Blaine too. Then, you’d want me to release the most kick-ass new album of original songs that I’d dedicate to you, my significant other. I don’t know what to call you, actually. When you were in the hospital, I asked you to marry me. Over and over, I must’ve asked a thousand times. Every single time, you’d light up like a Christmas tree and say ”Yes! Yes, please. I do.”. I don’t expect you to remember it so please don’t get mad that you can’t recall all that. But yeah, Kurt. I’d propose to you everyday and slip the ring off your finger as you fell asleep, and tuck it into my pocket. Then I’d do it all over again tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that. Fiances are people that we’d marry at some point, right? People who we’re engaged to. But I can’t ever marry you now, Kurt. So what do I call you?

I’m sitting here in unchanged sheets wearing day-old sweats, surrounded by the smell of cigarette smoke and stale sweat. The evening sun is shining through the windows, casting a yellow hue over the room. A year ago, you’d be taking the subway home now. I’d be trudging home too, after a long day of recording in the studio. Maybe it would be my turn to fix dinner this time, so I stop by that deli on 47th that you like and get two wraps and a salad each for us. Then I’ll come home, take a much-needed shower, watch some TV and cuddle up under the throw with you as we eat our dinner. Rinse, repeat. Our daily routine helped me navigate the craziness that is New York life most of the time.

I got up and pulled the covers back. Deep breath, long strides. To the shower. Before I changed my mind. Maybe Santana was right. Hell, she’s always right why the hell am I surprised. Maybe, I’m wallowing. Maybe, it’s time for me to stop grieving. Start moving on and lay off the self-sabotage. Maybe? You’d be so mad at me if you saw me now, babe. The biggest problem would probably be the chain-smoking, followed by the pizza boxes all over the apartment then the hurricane of grief that assaulted our bedroom. I still don’t get why you gave me a lighter when I knew you wanted me to cut back on the cigarettes, honestly I really don’t get it. When you give me a badass new lighter that even has your name on it, you can bet it follows me wherever I go. I didn’t tell you when you were here but most of the time, it was always in my pocket and I’d hold it when I needed a bit of luck. Like that time in LA when my concert schedules were going crazy, holding that little metal box and running my thumb into the little space for you made it a whole lot better. The feel of the cold metal on my too hot palms was weirdly grounding, even more so when I touched the twisty script of your writing engraved on the body. Kind of like a tattoo; But better. I don’t need to take my pants off or anything to see your signature on me. In my head, it was almost like a tramp stamp (oh you’d kill me for that) but you’re too classy for a tramp stamp, babe. Though, I wouldn’t object to a repeat of your tongue piercing. We agreed not to tattoo each other’s names on ourselves, like ever. Not because it’d be a pain to remove or any of that crap, we both just agreed that we could find better ways to leave our marks on each other. You were thinking of getting another one though, before everything happened. You said you wanted an animal motif somewhere on your hip. Again, no words spoken but I knew exactly what you were talking about.

***

He was humming a tune as we washed up after dinner. That day, it was just the two of us in your Bushwick loft. I had just managed to get a week off of work and you were finally home after your internship at Vogue. We’d been doing long-distance for a little under two months now and I swear to God they were the hardest months of my life. Especially when I was mostly used to seeing you every other day when I was couch-surfing here after graduation. Thing is, it wasn’t hard ‘cause I wanted to go out, party, take someone home but I couldn’t. It wasn’t because the new coffee girl kept following me around and looking at me like I’d saved the human race or some weird shit. I just missed you like fucking crazy. It was hard when I had an after dinner recording session and I couldn’t call you while you were taking the subway home. It was hard when I got in my single bed each night and missed you and your sleep-warm cuddles. It made me want to cry when Skype was being shitty and I couldn’t see you all that well, couldn’t even hear your voice without it being all garbled and well, shitty. So when I got a week of break, I headed back to Lima to see Sarah for a few days. Then I came straight to you. To say you were happy to see me would have been the understatement of a lifetime. You squealed like a baby and jumped into my arms, your lean legs wrapped tight around my waist as you let out words of affection, indignance, annoyance in a never-ending flow next to my ear. I remember reaching around to loosen your arms on me, pulling you back a little so I could see your face. With your legs still a vice grip around my middle, I took you in. God, I missed you so damn much. Your face looked a bit thinner, hair a bit longer but nothing too noticeable. Your eyes were still the brightest blue I’d ever seen and they were shining in my face from what I hoped were happy tears.

We passed the time that night in front of the TV, eating takeout and just talking. We both knew, we did. What would be so different from all the times we speak on the phone? Everything, obviously. This was like everyday on the phone except this time I could touch you, see you. I didn’t need to imagine your fond smile or your flush. I could see how you toyed with the cuff of my jacket and could feel you cuddling closer to me when I told you how much I missed you. We were always touching, fingers tracing over the jut of your ankle, sliding over the shell of my ear. It’d been so long since we saw each other and could behave so uninhibitedly that if I didn’t keep touching you I was scared you’d disappear, just like another one of my dreams. Dreams that woke me up in the middle of the night and made me ache with how much I missed you. After the particularly long days, they were ones that had me sinking my face into my knees and soaking my shirt right through.

I brought my hand up from the couch and pulled you closer by the nape of your neck.

I unbuttoned your shirt, my fingers hot against the cool bottle green buttons.

I mouthed over the tattoo on your back, that stupid Bette Middler one. God, I love the sounds you make when I touch you. Always so responsive just for me.

I sucked, bit, licked on your slim hips. You tasted like sweat and the fresh scent of your cologne. Underneath it all, you tasted like you. Just Kurt. I sucked harder.
I looked at your back, illuminated by the streetlight outside your window. Looked at my hand, resting on your head of soft brown hair. Looked at your face, cheek on my heart and so, so at peace. You always looked younger when you smiled but you looked positively blissed out when you were asleep. None of the usual tension in your forehead, no nervous smile on your lips. I shut my eyes for a bit and tried to listen for any sounds. Mostly just the occasional car horn every few minutes and more sounds of late night pedestrians. With Rachel and Santana over at Dani’s for the night, nothing else was there to be heard. I breathed in deep, inhaling the smell of us. It smelled like sex, like a bit of cologne, a bit of smoke and vehicular exhaust. Remembering. Holding on to all these little things. Saving them in the unreliable hard drive that is my brain. The same place I kept the memories of Sarah growing up, of visiting Beth and of my dad before he went away. You’re there too. In the least amount of words, I hope you knew you were so damn precious to me.

***