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Packing was hell on the nerves. Kurt had his list and he had everything laid out carefully. he knew which products from the bathroom had to be packed last because he was still using them and he knew which jeans were to be rolled and which were to hang. He was perfectly and meticulously prepared. So when he couldn’t find the aqua button down he knew was in the hanging bag just last night he lost his cool completely.

First he tore through the hang up bag, just to be sure the thing really wasn’t there. It wasn’t in his closet or lying around anywhere either. That meant it had to be in his suitcase, which was ridiculous because why would he risk permanent creases like that? He tore through the suitcase next, with no thought for where anything was going as he flung all the items out. The shirt was nowhere to be found. It was the perfect shirt, really. What the hell had he done with it?

Kurt stood back from the bed, staring at the destruction, his arms wrapped tight around his middle. That’s when he saw it. The little neon post it stuck to the lamp beside his bed.

Pick up dry cleaning

His shirt was still at the cleaners.

Kurt slumped down onto the chair by his desk and he buried his face in his hands with a sigh. How could he face Blaine if he couldn’t even manage to pack for the damn trip? He needed to get out for a little bit. Get away from the mess he’d made and away from lists and an empty apartment that was only serving to remind him of the empty place in his life. Maybe Finn could use a break too, he thought.

He sent Finn a quick text, asking him if he had time for lunch at their usual place and then leaned back, swiveling his chair away from the disaster so he could look out the window and try for five minutes to just not think.

Across town Finn raked his fingers over his forehead, surveying all the stuff spread out on their bed. He was super shitty at packing because he usually just sort of tossed stuff in a bag. Rachel was the one that could pack. Rachel was the one who on top of this stuff. He was so used to letting her take care of things and he really didn’t think he could handle anything on his own, honestly. He was not admitting that out loud to anyone. Ever.

He sighed and loaded everything into his bag, checking crap off on the list in his head and trying to stay focused. He had no idea how he managed as far as he had given what happened the previous night. And once he started thinking about it he just, he totally lost focus. He turned and sat down, blowing out a long breath. He let himself have just a minute. It can’t happen again.

He was losing the most important thing in his life because he wanted something so hard it was ruining everything he’d worked for. He needed to just if he didn’t let it go, and soon, he was gonna just be sort of lost.

His minute was up and he licked his lips and reached for the list he’d made specifically for this reason. His eyes scanned it and he was pretty sure he was done packing. Why was he always early with stuff? His phone kind of pulled him away from the list and he looked at the text and tried not to grin. He had the best brother. Seriously. He needed lunch. He needed a distraction. He needed a break.

Finn: Totally. See you in like fifteen?

Kurt: Fifteen!

Kurt left without picking a single thing up. He could beat himself over the head about it later on. And he could pick up his dry cleaning while he was out. Kurt sighed heavily just once more before he stuffed his wallet into his pocket along with his phone and headed out.

The sun was bright, as it should be this time of day, he reminded himself. He’d been holed up in his apartment for more than twenty four hours with the curtains and blinds drawn. That wasn’t like him at all, it wasn’t healthy. Not that he was a sun worshiper by any means, but he wasn’t the type to sit home and mope if he could help it either. hummel men faced their problems head on. Usually.

The pub wasn’t too far to walk, but it would take longer than the fifteen minutes he’d agreed on. So he caught a cab and tried his best to focus on Finn. He needed time away from his own worries and fears. They’d all still be waiting for him when he got back.

Once there, Kurt slipped in among the lunch crowd, casting his eyes about for his brother.

Finn was totally the guy who agreed to meet someone in a basically unreasonable amount of time and then ran late. Or at least he was in this case but his mom had called him back as he was walking down to the pub and he knew Kurt would understand that. Besides, he was there he just wasn’t, like, paying full attention just yet. He saw Kurt walk in and shifted the way he was holding the phone a little bit to stand up from the corner booth they’d set him in. He held his hand up even though he was usually tall enough to get attention just by standing. Normally he’d hang up, but his mom was actually crying and he felt really, really bad.

She’d been looking forward so much, apparently, to having both boys under the roof at the same time again. It hadn’t been that way since Finn got married and moved out during his senior year. Then she had breathlessly told him it was sooner than she was ready for him to go, but she hadn’t really cried. This time, she was crying about it. He didn’t know how much of it was because of then or how much of it was because of now. She also told him he sounded unhappy and that wasn’t helping things.

He wanted to just freaking tell someone what was going on. He needed to talk about it and Rachel wasn’t really that receptive to the idea. His mom was always so, so good with even the hardest stuff and it had been really long time since he relied on her. He was a married guy and he had a good marriage up until a few months ago. He’d gotten to the point that he really relied on only his wife. It was pretty clear he couldn’t keep doing that because it wasn’t working. He needed to talk to someone else.

His mom overheard the waiter coming with his beer and hung up, saying she didn’t want to intrude on his plans, and he frowned a little as his sipped his drink because the words were still on the tip of his tongue and they weren’t as easy to swallow as Guinness.

Kurt caught sight of Finn across the bar, in their booth toward the back. Originally they’d come here with Rachel and Blaine, two couples out on a Friday night. After Kurt and Blaine’s breakup, Finn and Kurt got the bar in the divorce, as Finn put it. So now, two years later, Kurt had come to think of the busy little pub rather fondly. They still argued about types of beer, Kurt preferring to sample the various fruity micro brews, and they "shared" appetizers, but Kurt was always sure to get extra since Finn’s idea of sharing was to eat the whole plate without thinking twice.

The time they had to go out together had actually been less and less in the past few months, and Kurt was sorry about that. He knew the specifics of some of the harder issues Finn and Rachel were facing, and he knew his brother needed support. He didn’t do the whole talking about feelings thing much, but Kurt knew it was that he got to get away, relax, and know that Kurt was there for him, no matter what. That’s what mattered. It’s what mattered to Kurt too.

Kurt crossed the bar and slipped into the booth across from Finn and waited while he finished his phone call. It sounded like maybe he was talking to his mom and from the look on his face, Carole really wasn’t taking the news of their hotel room well. Kurt was just ordering his Lindemans Framboise, the fruity raspberry beer that came in a champagne glass, when Finn hung up.

He took one last sip of his drink to try and wash the disappointed-mom conversation down his throat, and then licked his lips. He and Kurt really loved this place; it was basically the only place they ever really met up any more. They really didn’t have time to just chill and with Finn working from home, the last thing he wanted to do with his downtime was host something. Kurt was a good host but.. eh. They just liked to meet here. Finn knew Kurt’s order well enough he probably could’ve placed it and he wasn’t surprised to hear the (gross) order leave his brother’s mouth as he hung up the phone. He’d at least gotten appetizers or whatever started for them. Kurt usually ordered enough to feed a small army (which was code for "Finn plus everyone else") but Finn wasn’t feeling it today. The previous night, the previous few months, he wasn’t hungry. He had a stomachache, actually.

Once the server was gone again and he’d gotten the beer off his mouth and he’d taken a deep breath, he put his phone down and looked head-on at his brother. "So… hey. I didn’t even think about not giving you enough time to get here. I’m totally sorry. I ordered apps to make up for it though."

Kurt shrugged. It was fine really, he was just glad to be there. "Thanks, though" he added. He wasn’t sure he was hungry, but maybe seeing food would make a difference. Actually he’d only just realized he’d skipped breakfast so yeah he definitely needed to eat.

He took another drink of his beer then eased back in his seat with a sigh. "I made my mom cry. My wife is barely talking to me. I kind of think maybe I’m bad with women. How’re you?"

Kurt moved the silverware on it’s paper napkin to the side a little and folded his hands on the table in front of him waiting. Things with Finn and Rachel were pretty much as bad as Kurt thought they might be.

"I’m unable to pack, or even to remember what I’ve done with my favorite shirt, and I am terrified to go to this reunion and see Blaine. Oh, because I’m terrible with men, obviously. Still, it sounds like your troubles are a bit more immediate and severe." Kurt pursed his lips.

"I really don’t think you’re that bad with women though," he said.

Finn sighed when he heard about Kurt’s reunion-related problems. "How come you can’t pack though? ‘Cause you’re missing a shirt?" He raised his eyebrows and took another drink of his beer. "Is there any chance you can buy a new one before you leave?" He sighed. "I… I know it’s gonna be rough seeing Blaine again. All I can really say is I’ll be there, man. I’m there for both of you, you know that."

He was interrupted by the server bringing the appetizers. He smiled at her and then turned back to Kurt. "Yeah, I… I guess. Rachel just wants to put a happy face on things, you know? I’m totally not an actor but I don’t think she wants Mom and Burt to know how bad things are." He licked his lips and looked down at the table. "We can’t… we can’t even have sex without fighting about it, which is when I thought the hotel room would be a good idea."

He raised his eyes back up to Kurt for just a second before he rubbed his fingertips over his forehead and blinked. "I dunno, I mean… I’ve made the only two girls I care about cry their eyes out today. I just really hate disappointing my mom and I really hate not… I feel like I can’t even talk in my own house and I really hate that feeling, too."

He shook his head a little and waved off the thing with the shirts. It was all Blaine related anyhow. He understood the reason why Rachel would want to pretend everything was good. He loved his Dad and Carole, but they would definitely be disappointed, and they might even want to offer advice and ask questions, and yeah, Kurt had been down that road. It wasn’t fun. Even though they always ended on a high note, getting there could be trying. On the other hand, Kurt had to wonder if it might relieve some of the pressure they were both under, just having things out in the open. Either way it wasn’t up to him.

He listened to Finn, wanting to give him the support he so obviously needed. It hurt not being able to fix things for two of the most important people in his life. They were suffering, sometimes needlessly he thought, but there was nothing he could say or do to make it right.

Kurt nodded sympathetically. "Things are hard right now, really hard, but that isn’t you, that’s the circumstances," he tried. "I still think you were right about the hotel room, and you’ll get to spend plenty of time at home besides."

Finn sighed and picked at a piece of bread from the spinach artichoke thing in front of him that he wasn’t eating anyway. "The circumstances," he repeated flatly. "God. You’re stuck right in the middle of this, huh? This whole thing is such a mess."

The waitress came to take their orders and he was pretty glad for the break from the conversation. He felt so old. Like. He was pretty sure the last three months had taken three years off his life or something. "I kind of wonder if the hotel room is just sort of like putting a Band-Aid on something. Maybe…maybe it already fell apart and we just need to face it. I have no idea what I’m doing anymore, like, at all. Maybe we should just tell mom and Burt and… and… deal with whatever comes. I think we’re pretty well at an impasse and if one of us gets what they really want it should be her. I don’t think I’m what she wants any more. She wants her role, and her career and, maybe that’s the problem. We should just stop being afraid of people saying they told us so."

Maybe he’d been with Rachel for too long and her dramatic nature was getting the better of him. He finished his beer with a couple of good gulps and pretty intently planned on just drinking water; he’d been drinking too much lately. "Maybe I should just, like, move back home and live in Mom and Burt’s basement or something. I’m only 23 so that wouldn’t make me a total loser. At least then my mom wouldn’t be crying about me."

"I love you guys," he said. It didn’t matter if he was in the middle. That was better than a lot of other options. Kurt scanned the menu briefly, but his eyes flitted to Finn’s as he spoke. After the waitress left, he nibbled at the dip and tried his best to think of something to say to Finn. Something helpful. though it sounded like Finn had been over all the same things Kurt had been.

When Finn finished Kurt took a drink of his beer and sat it back down, his fingers playing along the rim of it and down the side swiping through the thin film of condensation.

He started out slowly. thinking carefully as he spoke. In some ways, rachel was simpler. She needed lots of hugs and someone to remind her that she was worthy and deserved happiness. That she was talented and intelligent and beautiful. And she was, Kurt had no trouble being that voice for her. Rachel ranted and cried and got everything out on the table. If she felt something she said it. Finn was different. For him to be saying these things now meant things were really serious. Kurt knew they were, but hearing Finn now made his heart ache. Were they really going to divorce?

"You could never be a loser, Finn. You’re just a man. A man who has been handed a lot of trouble lately. You’re not a loser though. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but it won’t matter what anyone else says about it. It only matters if you make the decisions that you want to make, the ones that are right for you, whatever they might be." Kurt looked him in the eye, quietly pleading with him to listen.

Finn rubbed his fingers over his forehead and met Kurt’s eyes. "What if what I want is a family… like… kids and stuff. And she doesn’t? She wants to be on Broadway, which is what she’s always wanted. So we just aren’t…there’s really no way to compromise that." His voice was low and he looked away. "She.. we… it was all right there and then she took the part instead and I don’t think…I think that’s what she’ll always pick which is fine. It’s not like she ever lied about being…y’know…ambitious." He took a couple of deep breaths. "It’s just…" his voice dropped down. "I guess I have to decide if I want to be a dad or her husband and, I think that decision might sort of kill me. It is killing me."

And he knew, okay? He knew how young he was. It wasn’t that he even wanted a guarantee it would happen right now, it was just that he wanted to know it would happen at all. Plus he was still getting over the idea that it wasn’t going to happen right now and it wasn’t that easy to get over. It was a person. No matter what Rachel said. And maybe her denial was half of why he was so hurt. To him, even if it hadn’t ended the best way possible, the fact that they could do that together was magic and she was basically denying it was anything but a problem.

He wasn’t even a little bit hungry when they sat his food in front of him. He ordered a Sprite, which he never really drank, hoping it might settle his stomach. Could you have an ulcer if you weren’t, like, middle aged? He didn’t know. He didn’t know what it felt like either, but he was seriously starting to wonder.

"You could always make this easier and tell me what I should do, y’know." He looked up from the soup in front of him and smiled even though he knew it didn’t reach his eyes. "That wouldn’t suck."

Kurt was deep inside his head, listening to Finn and thinking. What if he wanted a family? Yeah, that was the rub wasn’t it? Of course the first thing that came to mind was that there wasn’t any real reason to let that drive him crazy right now, but Kurt knew it wasn’t only that. It was the miscarriage. He’d basically just said it out loud and Kurt knew it had to be tearing him up inside. He’d probably be furious if he ever found out that Kurt knew, but he’d heard from Rachel first and sworn to keep it to himself. He didn’t want to keep things from Finn, but since it was already something Finn knew, he let that be his excuse. As thin as it was.

Kurt had grieved that loss too. He’d grieved with Rachel, and he grieved alone, but he knew in his heart it didn’t touch what Finn felt and what Rachel felt. They needed to say these things to each other, but feelings were already running so high.

He smiled a little crookedly at Finn after their food arrived. His fajita wrap didn’t look too appealing just now but he took a bite of it anyway. "You know I would if I thought I had anything close to an answer. Rachel’s not my best friend for no reason. I’d boss the hell out of you if I thought I could." His teasing tone was light but he knew they were just playing at being playful. It was all a little hollow.

Finn watched Kurt eat which was kinda creepy and he didn’t want to be that guy, so he tried to come up with something he could say. It took him a long time to speak and he just stirred his soup but couldn’t bring himself to eat it. Soup. The Sprite wasn’t working. He still felt sort of sick. He couldn’t keep up the joking around, either, as much as he wanted to.

He sighed while Kurt’s words bounced around in his head. Rachel’s not my best friend for no reason. Rachel had asked him not to say anything about the miscarriage to anyone, but he really was starting to not understand why exactly. And the thing was, if she was gonna talk, it would be to Kurt. As weird as it felt to go fishing with his brother about his wife, he did it anyway.

"Rachel thinks I want to leave her," he admitted, filling up the spoon and then tipping it back into the bowl. He shook his head. "Like all the time and effort I put into…all the…the… we’re fucking married and she thinks it’d be just that easy, I guess. Has she… I know I’m prying I guess, but has she said anything like that you?" He dropped his voice down. "Please just at least tell me if she’s okay. She won’t talk to me."

Kurt went through the mechanics of biting into his wrap, setting it down, chewing, swallowing, repeat. He managed a few fries too, but all too soon his stomach complained and he had to admit he was done. A few bites would keep him from going hungry anyway. He didn’t have to force any more down. Finn was quietly not eating too and Kurt suspected he’d been like that for some time now. He stole a quick glance at him again and took in the darkness under his eyes, the slightly off color of his skin. He looked exhausted. He looked like hell really. Had Kurt been so wrapped up in his own life that he’d missed his friend and brother’s sudden decline? Kurt vowed then and then to make himself more available and more aware, for Finn’s sake.

When he spoke at last, to ask about Rachel, Kurt ran an absent hand through his hair and took a deep breath.

"Something like that," he admitted slowly. "She’s doing about as good as you are, Finn. She’s stressed out and uncertain and she worries that she’s about to lose you." Kurt was walking on that fine line of being there for his brother and betraying the confidence of his best friend, but he couldn’t just leave Finn hanging. Not now.

"I think she’s hurting a lot right now, like you, but she loves you Finn. I don’t think she really wants to lose you, she’s just overwhelmed," Kurt didn’t know if he was being helpful or just putting himself in between them.

"I imagine you are too," he finished.

Finn just nodded while Kurt’s words washed over him. He raked his hand through his hair and squeezed his eyes shut and leaned forward to put his elbow on the table so his hand could support his head. He looked anywhere but Kurt, checking around to kind of make sure his words would get swallowed up by the chaos around them in the bar. "I lost her as soon as she told me there was a baby," he blurted out. He wasn’t supposed to say anything; he wasn’t supposed to tell anyone. He wasn’t sure exactly what feeling was more overpowering, the guilt or the grief. But they were both there and he was pretty sure one of them was gonna choke him.

"I just… just forget I said anything," he said quietly. He picked up his spoon and forced himself to eat a couple bites of soup and when they didn’t, like, come back up immediately, he made himself eat more. He needed to eat enough to get over the blah feeling from drinking too much the night before.

He looked up at his brother and just shook his head. "When… we don’t talk about it much and I get it if you don’t want to but… but when did you and Blaine decide it was just… too hard to keep going?"

Kurt was shocked. He tried not to stare at Finn. He wanted them to talk about this because it was obvious it was eating his brother up inside, and he couldn’t blame him for feeling that way. It wasn’t like Kurt could just assure him that he’d known, that would only serve to drive yet another wedge between Finn and Rachel and Kurt wasn’t going to do that. No, he’d just have to take whatever Finn was giving him to work with, and that was very little. Did just saying it help? Kurt hoped so, because he wasn’t going to force Finn to talk about something so painful. When Finn looked away Kurt swiped his hand over his eyes, removing the wetness that was threatening to become tears. His brother didn’t need to see that. he needed Kurt to stay strong.

Finn was taking a different approach now, and Kurt finished took a big bite of french fry to give himself time to think. He didn’t mind talking about it now, not really, and he was glad Finn was still communicating. Maybe it would help him too, just to get to say it out loud.

"Blaine and I didn’t end because it was too hard to work out. We ended because I gave up trying," he admitted. Crap, no it still hurt like a bitch. Still, he thought it was something Finn really should hear right now.

"We were fighting all the time, you know, and eventually we stopped spending any time together. We stayed out late with friends, we worked longer hours. We weren’t working on our relationship we were avoiding each other. One night Blaine came home and I was drunk. He was probably drunk too. Anyway he accused me of cheating on him, I guess you know this part, and I admitted that I had? That’s not exactly how it happened though. See I never did cheat on Blaine, but I was so angry and hurt that he believed I could do that, that I just didn’t answer him. He left. That was the last time I saw him." Kurt took a ragged breath. His heart ached and his throat was tight.

"I lost the only man I’ve ever loved because I gave up on him. Finn, I know I don’t have the right to say this really, but I don’t want that for you. If things end with you and Rachel, let it be because you tried everything you could first."

Finn licked his lips and listened to his brother and tried to imagine…he was pretty sure if Rachel accused him of cheating on her, he would lose it. Not really like freak out and yell or anything but like fall apart. He probably wouldn’t be able to answer either. He hoped he didn’t have to find out how it felt ‘cause even thinking about it really sucked and he was kind of sorry he’d asked. He felt really nosy and really, really bad for Kurt and Blaine. It did all sound familiar, though. Maybe Kurt was telling him so he could stop the same thing from happening with him and Rachel. Maybe that wasn’t the problem, though.

He put his spoon down, unable to really gag down anything else. He knew he probably looked at tired as he felt. "How much did you give up, though? I mean… neither of you guys have really moved on or anything." He licked his lips a little and picked up his water for a drink before he continued. "I know we’re all sort of weirdly tied together and it’s… that makes it harder to let go but I think at least part of it is maybe not really giving up."

He sat back in his seat. "The situation with me and Rachel is a little different. It’s not… I think we might want different things. There are… there are some things you just can’t give up, you know? I guess I just don’t know if I should make her or something else my thing I won’t give up and when she took this part…it felt like she was putting me second. Things have changed. People… circumstances… they change and there’s nothing you can do about it."

Finn knew he probably needed to talk about what was going on with him and Rachel. He really needed to say a lot of things and be able to openly grieve and he just couldn’t. "Maybe you should think about ungiving up. I mean, you and Blaine… the story doesn’t have to be over yet. Maybe if you don’t reach out to him eventually you’re just giving up over and over. You know?"

Kurt knew Finn couldn’t see their situations as being the same. After all he and Blaine hadn’t lost a child. He understood there was no comparison there. However they had both chosen career paths over each other. Kurt had put himself and his need for success ahead of what he had with Blaine, and then when the pressure got to be too much he’d let Blaine walk out. It was the cowardly move.

"I didn’t know this then, but I did choose something over Blaine. I chose myself, and the career I wanted. The thing is, and maybe I’m way over the line here, is that I just can’t see it as an either/or type of problem. I can’t. I see that Rachel is chasing her Broadway career and I see that you want a family someday. The thing is, those aren’t mutually exclusive things. Stars have families. Husbands have famous wives. Actors have children. That’s not the problem, is it? The problem is whether or not you and Rachel want to continue to grow and change together or if you’ve decided what you have isn’t worth working for any more."

Kurt’s words might have sounded harsh, but his tone was soft, sad even. If Rachel and Finn divorced he would still have Finn as his brother and best friend, and Rachel would never lose her place in his heart either. He loved them both so much it hurt, and he wanted it to work, he’d be lying if he said he didn’t care. Ultimately though, it was about their peace of mind and happiness.

He was drifting in his thoughts, thinking so hard about what he was saying that it took a moment to register that Finn was talking about Blaine. Blaine hadn’t moved on? That was news, and Kurt wasn’t exactly sure what it meant.

"I don’t know about that, Finn," he said. "I was thinking, if it seemed right at the reunion, maybe there would be a way for us to speak again. And someday, maybe get back to where we could be around each other again. That’s really the most I think I should hope for."

Finn sighed and scrubbed shaking hands over his face. He felt totally dried out even though the water in front of him was empty. It was like open warfare inside him; did he tell? Did he not tell? Rachel had asked him not to and he had a lot of really good reasons to respect her privacy, especially with Kurt. Kurt was her family. Kurt was part of their family. Anything he told Kurt, he might as well tell their parents (even though Kurt probably wouldn’t tell.) He finally just sniffled, swallowed hard to keep his throat from flexing and choking, and just shook his head.

"There’s more to it than that," he breathed. "There’s a lot more to it than that. We don’t talk to each other any more because we can’t without fighting. We don’t… we can’t… we even fight if we have sex. I know other actresses or whatever have families but Rachel…" he licked his lips and shook his head. "She will always, always have a reason not to. There will always be a part that’s more, like, appealing or whatever. And I promised her dads she wouldn’t have to give up any part of her career when we got married and… if there’s a part she wants there’s nothing I can say about it ‘cause of that."

He let two short breaths out his mouth and played with the straw from his water against his fingertips. "She just… she always does this. She, like, ties my hands with things and I don’t know if she knows she does or what. She won’t… she doesn’t wanna have kids but she doesn’t want me to go on tour. She wants me to support her career but she won’t..." he shook his head. "Forget it. It just doesn’t matter."

He didn’t even know if Kurt could hear him over the bar noise. He almost didn’t care. He was sick of being fucking depressed and not talking about not saying anything and, he was just exhausted and he was giving up.

"I think there’s something serious going on with Blaine, though," he redirected eventually, once he had a better grip on himself. "He said he has to have surgery. I don’t know anything besides that but… well. Some day might be coming sooner than you think, Kurt. Just…" he trailed off. He didn’t want his marriage to be over. He didn’t want to give up or walk away or, or, he still wasn’t sure if he could stay with Rachel and end up being okay not having a baby he wanted so badly. But she was still the love of his life and he wasn’t ready to not have her in his life. He wasn’t ready for this choice, even if it would just get harder the longer he went. He didn’t want the last seven years to be over. He wanted to do them all again and live the time before he was this guy and before he was falling apart.

"Don’t give up," he said simply, hoarsely. "Okay? At the reunion, don’t give up until you guys have really talked. I think he probably needs you." All he could think was he needed a drink of cold water; he had even picked up her habits but, but as usual, he needed it and it wasn’t there. He didn’t know how long that’d been the case, but he had to start taking care of things himself. Relying on himself and thinking for one the same way Rachel had when she took the part on Broadway without ever thinking he might need his wife around to lean on when they all of a sudden weren’t having a baby.

Kurt had something of an idea about the way things were going downhill for Finn and Rachel. He didn’t blame either of them, but he did wish they had more time for talking and less for arguing. He’d very carefully said as much to Rachel, but when two people are so angry and so hopeless there’s very little anyone from the outside could do. Kurt couldn’t fix this for them no matter how much he wanted to. It was too easy to stand on the outside of it and see what needed to be done. When you’re in the middle of it, it’s different.

"It does matter," he said. "It matters, okay?" Finn looked bereft, completely hopeless.

"You’re hurt and angry, and you don’t see a way out, and Finn, I get that. You don’t have to justify how you feel to me. Not ever. It’s okay to be angry at Rachel and it’s okay to be confused. It’s okay to want what you want. It’s okay to be however you are, and it matters to me. If you told me right now, that you’d had all you could take, I would be sad, but I’d still be right here. I never want you to forget that."

After a time, Finn steered their conversation back to Blaine, and Kurt had trouble keeping a hold of himself any longer. He wanted to call Rachel and demand to know what she knew. Better yet he wanted to call Blaine and talk to him, ask him plainly if he was okay, and what if anything could do for him. It was too much right now and it scared him to think there might be something serious happening with Blaine.

"Okay," he agreed. He didn’t know how he was going to do it, but he could try.

He didn’t eat any more and he let the waiter bring him some water that he didn’t drink. Kurt listened to the hum around them and he tried not to look back and see the pain on his brother’s face. He wanted to say so much more, but Finn was carrying too much as it was and Kurt didn’t want him to feel any more pressure.

The more Kurt talked, told him how much he cared and that Finn could talk to him, the more jumbled Finn’s thoughts really were. Kurt was his brother and they had really come so far and he trusted Kurt. It seemed stupid not to talk about the situation, all of it, with him when Kurt put it that way. He was frustrated and felt stupid that Rachel didn’t need him and that he thought she wasn’t there for him so… so he was just gonna ignore it when someone else made the offer? And it wasn’t just anyone else offering, it was his brother. Just because his brother and her best friend were the same person wasn’t, like, a problem. Kurt cared how he felt about it or what he thought, and that was honestly more than he could certainly say about his wife.

He used the straw to stir ice cubes around his empty cup while he took a couple of breaths and tried to organize himself a little. It took him awhile, but he managed and when he looked at Kurt, he could talk in a steady voice and he wasn’t crying or anything. Win. "We lost a baby a few months ago," he said. Okay. So he started off in a steady voice. That was as far as he got. "And she basically shut down on me. I haven’t told anyone. I haven’t talked about it. I… I can’t stop thinking about how things would be different now. I can’t talk to her about it because she just says it wasn’t even a baby, but it was to me."

Finn didn’t realize he had tears in his eyes until he blinked and a couple of them slid over his cheeks. He wiped them away, using the fingertips of his shaky hands, and sniffled. "I can’t… I can’t fill up the hole by myself. I need her and she’s not there. I need her to just… to rely on me and she isn’t and… I miss her. I miss when we were gonna have a baby. I miss when we were happy. I don’t know how to get past it," he admitted in a whisper. "I’m not mad at her. I’m not… God I don’t blame her or anything I just… I want my wife back."

"Finn…" Kurt reached out instinctively and squeezed at Finn’s hand. He was so relieved to have Finn say what was really bothering him instead of just hinting at it. Even so he knew he couldn’t just say a few well chosen words and make Finn feel better. He couldn’t tell him how Rachel had cried either. He couldn’t betray either of them to the other. He wouldn’t. Kurt let go of Finn’s hand, but he continued to lean forward over the table so that he could keep his voice low.

"I know you need Rachel, but maybe… have you thought about speaking with a counselor? I mean, I know marriage counseling can be an intimidating thought, and talking isn’t always something you like doing, but if you just went and sat down by yourself then you could say whatever you wanted. I think you need to keep talking about this. Otherwise how can you work out what you want to do next?" He couldn’t be sure if that was the best advice, but it felt right. Maybe Finn wouldn’t go to a counselor, but he should be reminded that the option exists.

Once Kurt released his hand, Finn dropped his head and wiped both his eyes with the heels of his hands. It wasn’t like he was ashamed to cry exactly, but he wasn’t thrilled with it either. "Yeah, I… I’ve looked into it a little," he admitted. "We… I mean I say this a lot lately but we got into another fight last night and it was really bad. I said maybe we should go see someone and she didn’t really say yes or no. She just said maybe the trip to Lima would help." He sighed. "I don’t think she believes that any more than I do."

He played around with his spoon again, stirring the soup that was probably cold. He didn’t care; he wasn’t gonna eat it anyway. "I know what I want, Kurt. I do. I just don’t think she wants the same thing." He blew out a shaky breath. "I wanna start a family and be a dad and… and I know she isn’t ready for anything like that. She’s told me a hundred times that this part she’s doing now is her shot to make it and reach her goals and that’s… it’s fine.

But honestly, I think her goal will always be her career and never be having a family. I really think if I want her, then I have to give up that other idea. Like I know other people have that—actors have families and nobody husbands are married to famous people—and they do it all the time. I don’t think we can, though. I don’t think we will. I just didn’t know until she was… until we lost it, really. I didn’t know that’s what I wanted. Kids have always sort of freaked me out. Like, I can take care of Rachel and sometimes I can take care of myself and… and then I’m maxed out. The thought of being responsible for another person always seemed really scary until it wasn’t just a thought." He shrugged.

"It doesn’t matter, though. If she doesn’t want it then…" He couldn’t say it. Then what? That was the question he needed answered; and really, his brother or a counselor—no one else was gonna be able to tell him that.

Kurt thought maybe he could understand that. Finn had never talked about wanting kids before. Then again neither had Kurt. But he could imagine what it would be like, he had let himself imagine Finn and Rachel’s child or children once or twice. His own family, that was something he didn’t touch on, hadn’t for years, but being an uncle would be fantastic, he’d decided. They were already a close family, and a child, one he could dote on and sing to and dress up and take to the theater, one that looked like Rachel and Finn, that child would be a welcome addition someday. Maybe not a child from his body but a child he would love just a fiercely as any of his own.

So part of him could imagine what it was like for Finn, who was maybe a little more like him than he’d considered, to suddenly learn he had a child on the way. It would change everything. How could it not? They’d created a tiny life together, of course that would change Finn’s mind. It had probably been changing people’s minds since the beginning of time. Finn had probably made plans, in his mind, saw the way his family could be, and in the end it wasn’t just a baby that was lost, it was an entire future to Finn’s mind. A future he’d never known he wanted, but a future he’d grabbed hold of and cherished all the same.

When Finn’s voice broke off for the last time, Kurt couldn’t hide the emotion thick in his voice. "I wish I knew how to help you, or how to fix everything. I just don’t. I know there aren’t any easy answers here and I’m so very sorry."

Finn scratched the hair above his ear; he needed a haircut before they left for Lima. He sighed. He knew that there were more people interested in his future with Rachel than just the two of them. Kurt had been pretty unhappy with the wedding plans at first, but over time he’d come around and especially over the last couple years, he’d been way supportive. Sometimes he thought Kurt put just as much energy into their relationship working as they did, especially since his own had fallen apart and he really understood how hard they fought to keep it all together.

Plus, the thing was, Kurt had always been a huge support to him, too. They’d really turned out to be brothers—and it had only been better even since Finn figured out what he wanted to do with himself and had gone for it. Now that Kurt knew Finn wasn’t trying to disappear behind his wife, well. It had just made a huge difference in their relationship, now to the point that Finn was pretty sure there was actual disappointment and heartbreak in his brother’s voice for their loss. It wasn’t just Finn’s or Rachel’s, but it was Kurt’s too.

It’d kinda be the same thing if they got divorced; Kurt would be part of it. Or at least he would suffer, was suffering, because of it. "Man… I just put you right in the middle of everything," he said. He squeezed his eyes closed. "I’m sorry. But yeah, you’re right. There’s no real answer." He blew out a breath and frowned. "I just wish it never happened and then I feel like crap for that, too." He licked his lips. "But thanks, man. I mean, I think this helped as much as anything."

"I think that’s just the way it works with family, and I wouldn’t trade ours for anything." Kurt leaned back with a little sigh. He didn’t blame Finn for having that thought. That he’d wished it had never happened. That was just normal. It was the anger talking, Kurt was sure. It had taken a long time after Blaine left for Kurt to begin remembering the good times, and to look back on their relationship with fondness. He didn’t have regrets about starting their relationship, but he had for a long time.

Kurt managed a small smile at Finn. "My door’s always open," he said. The waiter returned with their tickets, and Kurt handed over his credit card. The break in conversation gave him time to think about what it was going to be like to go to the reunion while everything was so very tense. Or to be at the house. It was going to be rough, on all sides. In fact, he almost wished they didn’t have to try the family thing, but his dad and Carole had both been really adamant with him too. So there was no way out really, he supposed.

"I better get back to my packing disaster. Thanks for getting me out. I get in really late, but text me if you need anything okay? Anything," Kurt hated to go back to his apartment, he didn’t want to do any of this, as much as he sort of actually did want to see Blaine. It was a lot to have to deal with and he didn’t know what he should be expecting except stress all around.