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Bubbling. Bubbles were hilarious, normally. But these bubbles weren’t that funny. These bubbles were pissed off. Annoyed. And still coming. Usually drinking popped the bubbles but it wasn’t working. Bubbling was the only word he could think of because they just kept coming like… bubbles. Beer bubbles. Was that a thing? Could beer bubble? Whatever.

He drank the whiskey slow. The bubbles went faster. The bartender was annoying and kept asking him how much he’d had to drink, like he was gonna cut Finn off the minute Finn’s answer changed. He knew how much he was drinking. He just couldn’t focus on basically anything else. He also couldn’t think of words besides bubbles. And how he really, really didn’t want to go home.

He was pretty sure the only reason he hadn’t been cut off yet was ‘cause he wasn’t the dude over in the other corner who was, like, preaching something. Sounded kinda like the gospel of bullshit and Finn didn’t care. His wife had called him a cheater. Finn. Him. (He still knew his own name. He hadn’t drunk enough.) He didn’t know if the bubbles were more hurt or mad. They were all mixed together. He wasn’t the loud guy. He was the quiet guy in the corner who was drinking and thinking about bubbles while his life was falling apart.

He didn’t know how much longer he sat there before the bartender dropped down right in front of him on his elbows with a frown. He was actually really nice about it, but said Finn needed to find someone to get him home because the guy didn’t think, since he’d asked the name of the bar, that he could give a cab driver his address. Finn’d already been texting Blaine a little so he nodded and showed the guy his phone for proof. (He covered up Blaine’s text about Blaine having had some shots already, too.) He put his head down on his folded arms on the bar to wait, wishing the guy would just give him another drink. Well. One with bubbles that wasn’t just water.

Pain. That’s all Blaine had been feeling for weeks. Physical pain turned into mental pain as soon as he got the invitation to the 5 year reunion in Lima, and then mental pain turned right around and gave the physical pain a whole new meaning. Blaine had cancer, and he needed to cope. He groaned slightly as his phone buzzed and he pulled away from Nate. He had been 6 shots deep when the other man had called to see how he was doing and offered to come over. Blaine normally would have refused, but when Nate insisted he agreed. He needed to get out of his head for awhile, and sex with Nate was a way to do that. Blaine had known Nate since about six months after he and Kurt broke up. They had become fast friends, and one night while completely shit faced slept together. They then stumbled around a really bad month long relationship before an agreement was reached that while physically the sex was amazing it was nothing more, and that was how Blaine found himself in a friend with benefits situation. He looked at the phone and sighed before turning to his friend, “I have to go help Finn. Some other time.” He pulled on his shirt and slipped on some shoes before ushering Nate out the door, locking his apartment.

The short walk to the neighborhood bar was relatively silent minus the sound of Blaine’s breathing. He really had no idea what was going on with Finn and Rachel. She seemed more distant like she was hiding something, and that was only confirmed to Blaine when Finn had mentioned that Rachel didn’t want him talking about their issues. He let out a long sigh as he pulled the door open and walked into the bar. He noticed Finn sitting hunched on the bar stool, and if the drunk texts were not a dead giveaway of something being wrong the body language definitely was. He tentatively walked over to him before sliding onto the barstool next to him and clapping him on the shoulder, “Hey. Let’s go back to my place and talk.”

Finn blinked his eyes open and sat up. Sort of. He needed to keep drinking. ”Hey,” he echoed, nodding along as Blaine talked. Like obviously he wasn’t gonna keep drinking here. And he could tell just from the way Blaine’s face looked that his friend wasn’t like 100% either. They probably needed each other.

It took Finn a minute to get the bartender’s attention and like ten solid minutes of effort to close out his tab (which what was he pretty sure was a good-sized tip for the guy; he had been here for a couple hours and even if he himself had been pretty quiet some of the other people weren’t and it was totally a pity tip) before they left. He wasn’t so drunk he couldn’t walk, but he was drunk enough that it definitely wasn’t in, like a straight line. Or… the right direction.

“Thanks for meeting me,” he said slowly. He kept his steps slow so he didn’t stumble or anything, but that was probably okay with Blaine ‘cause Finn’s strides were huge and Blaine was just sort of walking normal. ”I waited up for her and waited and she came home and went to bed and I just…I had to get out of there,” he breathed. ”I don’t know what the hell is wrong with me, but I gotta get my shit together before we go back to Ohio.”

“No worries,” Blaine whispered as he pulled Finn back in the proper direction to his apartment and hailed a cab. He made sure to shove Finn in head first and climbed in behind him. The ride to his apartment was relatively quiet and once inside he shrugged off his jacket and shoes before going to the fridge and getting a couple of beers.

His buzz was wearing off, and he didn’t know how much of this conversation he could get through without it back. He needed to tell Finn what he had told Rachel, but Finn had so much going on, and knowing there was more to their situation than either of them were letting on he decided to take the drink and wait option instead.

He tossed one of the beers to Finn and smiled at him as he sat down and took a gulp of his drink, “so what’s going on with you guys, and start from the beginning because you’re right you really need to get your shit together before we get back to Ohio. Also, the next few weeks for me are about to be hell, and I need you both on speaking terms to help me with my shit.”

Finn accepted the beer gratefully. Somewhere in the back of his mind, feeling like it was super far away, he remembered offering to take Blaine to… doctor’s appointments. For surgery. There was something really, really serious going on. He took a long pull from his drink, surprised that it still settled into him and loosened up his muscles a little bit. He was already not sober; he was surprised the beer had any immediately noticeable effect at all. Maybe he could get through this.

It probably made him an ass, but he no longer cared about Rachel’s wishes to keep it private. He’d told Kurt earlier and he was gonna tell Blaine now. Even if she didn’t need or want to talk about it, he did. And if he couldn’t talk about it with her, it really wasn’t fair for her to say he couldn’t talk about it at all. He licked his lips and looked over at Blaine for just a second before he looked back at the bottle in his hand and started toying with the label while he talked.

“The start, huh?” He let out a long breath. ”I got Rachel pregnant a little while ago,” he said in a low voice. He blinked a couple of times and had to clear his throat. He’d never really said the words out loud quite like that. ”We didn’t… it wasn’t really the plan. I mean, we hadn’t even been in our apartment for a year yet. I was still sort of getting things settled with work and…and it really wasn’t a good time for something like that but…but it didn’t matter.” He licked his lips and kept his eyes on the bottle. The tension was coming back into his shoulders; he could feel it. He took another drink. ”She wasn’t really…I don’t know. I think it was a little harder for her to get used to, but I was excited. I was really…I didn’t know I wanted it that bad, being a dad, until it was happening and we started making plans.”

He rubbed at the corner of his eye and took another long drink. ”There was… she went to the doctor and I couldn’t go with her… I… there was a lighting problem in the studio and the electrician was coming to look at it so I couldn’t leave the apartment with her and…” he tipped his head and he hadn’t really ever talked about this before and it was settling into his stomach like a lead weight. He absently thought he might throw up. ”… she said the doctor told her it happens all the time and we could try again if we wanted to, in a couple of months. She was just… she was just so… I could tell she was totally on overload so we didn’t really…I thought we would talk about it later and be sad together or whatever. Except she wasn’t at all. She didn’t even… she never acted like she cared. Not once.”

He was definitely gonna be sick. He turned his head to look at Blaine. ”We never did talk about it. I told her I wanted to try again, that I think I’m ready to start a family with her, but… she took the part she has now without even talking to me and said we can do it later and that her career is the most important thing and I…I’ll be right back,” he said before putting his drink on the table and walking more certainly out of the room than he’d done with anything else tonight. He wasn’t sure how long he was gone, but he was gonna consider the fact that he hadn’t puked a huge win. He settled back on the couch next to Blaine and buried his face in his hands. ”We just… we don’t really talk. We don’t really…we’re not us. We just work and come home and fight and then…” he licked his lips and sighed, his voice dropping down even further. ”Earlier tonight, she accused me of cheating on her. That’s how bad things are. It’s like she forgot who I am. Or maybe she just forgot she loves me or something. I don’t know anymore, man.”

Blaine popped the top on his own beer and sat back against the couch. His chest burned for whatever reason, and the stress of what was going on with his health was just to much to comprehend at the moment. He looked over to Finn and listened to him as he sipped his beer and toyed with the label on the bottle. Pregnant. The word split through Blaine’s thoughts like a knife, and that’s when everything began to make sense. He looked over at Finn as he continued to talk about how Rachel was shutting down how she never wanted to talk about it, and his heart ached. He couldn’t fathom losing a child, and while yes the baby might not have technically been a baby Rachel loved with her whole heart so for her not to talk about it she must be scared, hurting, and feeling alone.

He watched Finn even longer as he finished the story before putting the beer back to his lips. He removed it after a moment and sighed as he observed Finn. It was obvious the man was hurting something terrible as well. This was his child. Part of him was gone. He watched him get up and walk towards the hall and sighed before calling after him, “if you’re going to be sick raise the seat.”

He waited a while thinking about everything that Finn had just told him. Processing all of it, and when Finn came back and sat down on the couch next to him he looked at him and sighed, “I’ve been thinking, and you know she’s Rachel. You know how she is, and she loves with everything. I can’t even imagine what she is going through. It hurts me to think she couldn’t share this with me and you had to, but maybe it’s just to painful for her to talk about. Though I can understand you needing to talk it was your baby.” He yawned after a moment and sighed, “she didn’t forget who you are and I know she loves you. Maybe you guys should get counseling or something. This is obviously fear. Maybe she feels broken. Have you thought of that?”

He’d always been the kind of guy who wore his heart on his sleeve, and it had always been worse when he was drinking. If he was happy and in love, he was even more, like, handsy. If he was mad at something, he would rant under his breath. If he was sad… well… it showed and it wasn’t unheard of for him to cry. This time wasn’t an exception, either, and he was torn somewhere between being embarrassed and just…almost angry… when Blaine put words to the absolute worst things he’d been thinking.

He knew why Rachel was pushing as hard as she was. He did. She would get disappointed or heartbroken or whatever and she would lash out and go as far the opposite direction as she could. It wasn’t anything new; it was like “textbook Rachel” if he’d ever written a textbook about her. The problem was that usually he could bring her back to the middle. This time he couldn’t even reach her because he was so sad himself.

He wasn’t angry that Blaine had put the stuff in the back of his mind to words; he hadn’t let himself really think the words because… well, he was angry when he felt his eyes start to burn and the back of his throat got all tight. He hadn’t cried about anything yet and he really, really didn’t wanna start now. He fought it with his breathing, by closing his eyes, and by taking his sweet damn time to talk.

“Yeah. She won’t… but she won’t talk to me. She just…” He repeated his cycle, the thing keeping him from becoming a totally emotional, drunken mess on his friend’s couch when he knew his friend had other crap to deal with. He was pretty sure that was on a Top-10 To-Not-Do list somewhere. ”I can’t make her and she doesn’t want to so I just… I guess I just have to let it happen. We’ve talked about counseling, like maybe when we get back.” He rubbed the corner of his eye with his knuckle. ”I don’t know what else to do. I miss my wife and…and I miss when we were happy and…” he shrugged. ”Just… go. Talk about your stuff now ‘cause… I can’t… yeah. You should talk now.”

Blaine sighed after a few moments and watched Finn’s body language. The man he had come to care about as a brother was in mental pain. His marriage was falling apart, he had lost a child, and his wife wasn’t coping well. He put a hand on his shoulder and sighed a bit as he listened to him speak and then ask him what was going on with him. Finn knew about the surgery and Rachel knew about the cancer, but they obviously hadn’t spoken about that. He looked over and thought a moment before deciding to tell him because while he didn’t want to add more crap on top of his marriage problems he needed to tell someone anyone really. He had told his grandmother, mom, and Nate but he really just needed his “family” right now.

He ran his hand through his hair and sighed, “A few weeks ago I went to the doctor because I was feeling really run down and tired. He did some blood tests and a full physical, and found a lump on one of my testicles.” Blaine swallowed as he said said the next few words, “I have to have surgery next week to remove the tumor and while they are in there they will decide if I need further treatment. I’m scared to death because the doctor said chances that it’s spread outside of the testicle are high because of the results of the blood tests.” Blaine looked at Finn a moment and sighed, “so between all this stuff with me, your marriage crisis, and seeing Kurt I’m considering just staying in Dayton with Nana Dot.”

Finn was still shaking, trying to choke back the stuff he didn’t want to talk about, while Blaine was talking. Blaine didn’t need the weight of his reaction; Blaine didn’t need his questions or anything else. His friend, his brother—probably had enough of that pressure to deal with. He knew the look on his face wasn’t hiding anything at all while Blaine spoke, but he kept his mouth shut.

“Don’t…” he licked his lips. ”Please don’t worry about me and Rachel. We’ll sort it out and…and…” he was totally talking out his ass about that, but he definitely meant the rest of what he was gonna say. “Staying in Dayton for how long?” He asked. ”I mean…you. There’s way better care for that here than there, though. Maybe we should bring Nana Dot here for a little bit. And if seeing Kurt is that big of a deal we’ll…” he swallowed hard. God. His breathing wasn’t ever gonna be normal again. ”…we’ll find a time to do it that isn’t in stupid Ohio or something.”

He looked over his friend openly. ”That…this sucks, Blaine. I’m really sorry. I don’t even know anything about it that I could say that would make you feel better. Or help you.”

He settled back against the couch cushions and finished the last of the beer he had; honestly…there was probably too much of it for him to do that and he choked. At least no one could saying sitting with is friend who had cancer… God. They were still too young for that, weren’t they?… anyway, at least no one could say it changed the way he acted around them. ”Me and you are the funnest drunks ever.” He tipped his head back. ”What are we gonna do, man?”

Blaine looked at Finn for a long moment waiting for some kind of reaction from him. Something that would say he wasn’t confused, and when the taller man choked on his beer Blaine couldn’t help but laugh a little. ”I know I shouldn’t laugh at you doing that, but choking yourself on beer is priceless.” He sighed, “and as far as Nana Dot coming to stay for a while that’s already in the works. She told me I can’t take no for an answer and that she’s staying with me here for at least a month. I just think maybe my going to the reunion isn’t best. That’s what I meant by staying in Dayton.”

Blaine took the final drink of his beer and began playing with the label quietly, “and you’re right you and I are the best drunks ever. A couple of sad men drinking their troubles away.” He sighed and closed his eyes as he thought about Kurt and sighed, “I can’t see Kurt now Finn. Not since this cancer diagnosis. I am already so vulnerable with my emotions, and I’m afraid I might break down. I still miss him, and lately I’ve just been thinking a lot about where life is going, and I can’t help but think what if we were still together.”

Finn tipped the top of the empty bottle to his head as he sort of finished choking and chuckled at the same time. ”Hey, I aim to please,” he said simply. ”And good. I’m glad she’s coming here so you have some more support but…” he shrugged. ”There’s no law that says you should go to the reunion with us. If you wanna stay with your family, then you should but… well do you maybe think the reunion is a more neutral place you could go to see him for the first time? And you’ll have me and…and Rachel. If you change your mind and decide to do it later, I can’t guarantee all that stuff.”

He tipped the beer bottle back to his mouth, grinning and rolling his eyes at himself when he remembered his drink was empty, resting his head back against the couch again so he could see the ceiling. He rolled his head so he could see Blaine and the way the room sort of moved with the motion was not really promising for his no-hangover streak.

“We’re totally using the reunion as a distraction from problems for a while, but if you don’t want to that’s up to you and I’m not gonna hold it against you or anything.” He sighed. ”I dunno. I’ve never been good with wondering how things would be different. Maybe… maybe he would be support or comfort that you need while you’re dealing with this,” he said. Even though the situations were completely not the same, he had thought the same about Rachel. That was why he’d asked her to marry him in high school. It was one of the reasons they had stayed together, that comfort and support when things went wrong. And, when it wasn’t the case, it was one of the reasons they were falling apart. He hoped maybe things would be totally different for Blaine because the things he was fighting for were a lot different and a lot more important.

“Blaine, I kinda think you should go. I think you should see him.” He sighed. ”I think it would probably help more than it would hurt but…but I might not be giving good advice either so…” he rolled his head along the back of the couch. ”Do you want someone to go to your appointments and stuff with you? I really can be that guy if you want. I kind of make my own work hours and I could do it. I would really…I’d like to if you want.” He closed his eyes. ”And on the bright side, if I have to move out of my apartment I won’t have anywhere to work at all so I’d have plenty of free time.”

Blaine listened to Finn talk about Nana Dot, and also about the reunion. Sometimes Finn had these ways of making things sound great and he nodded in agreement with him after a few moments, “Yah you’re right the reunion will be neutral with an open bar so if things get to tense I can drown my fears in beer or gin. He chuckled dryly at the thought as he continued to listen to Finn. The breakup had been bad, really bad, and sometimes still sleeping in the same apartment that they had shared was difficult enough. He had no clue how he was going to manage to see him.

He listened to Finn speak a while longer, and his words cut through him like a knife. He knew Kurt, and he knew that if he knew about the cancer he would want to mend things, help him, and Blaine just didn’t know if he could risk that because he still loved him. He would never admit to being in love with him, but it was love nonetheless.

He sipped the last of his beer and swallowed the liquid before patting Finn on the shoulder, “I’ll get you a blanket and pillow. Also, I would like that a lot of you would come with me to the appointments and such, but from what I hear it might not be pretty.” In fact Blaine knew it wouldn’t be. He reacted strongly to most medications and that was probably his worst fear of this whole ordeal.” He took a deep breath and sighed as he yawned before looking at Finn, “and I’ll go to the reunion. Someone has to make sure you have a house to go home too because crashing on my couch wouldn’t exactly be the most comfortable for you. We should get some sleep though.”

Once Blaine had gone, Finn closed his eyes tight and wondered if the room would ever really stop spinning. It had been a really, really long time since he’d been this drunk. It wasn’t even that he was sorry, it was just…he was so drunk. He was glad he’d texted Blaine because if he was still at the bar, he definitely wouldn’t have been able to do anything. He just felt so heavy; he was sad for himself, sad for his wife, sad for his friend…he was sad. And maybe drinking wasn’t smart ‘cause he didn’t feel less sad. He just felt more sick and more spinny and more like he wasn’t gonna fall asleep any time soon. He wondered, though, if Blaine really needed his rest. It seemed like he might if he was that sick. And thinking of Blaine being sick made Finn feel sick waves of sympathy he was too emotionally exhausted to push away.

He just nodded. “Yeah, I’m sure it isn’t gonna be awesome but I’m here for you, for whatever you need. Whenever you need it, no questions asked, man. Okay?” He accepted the pillow and blankets and laid down on Blaine’s couch

He sighed a little as Blaine talked about all that was ahead now. Somehow, it seemed more important than what he had to deal with. He did not mind the chance to take the focus off himself for a while. Not that Blaine being sick was a project or anything, but it just…he selfishly liked feeling like he was needed. Like someone even wanted him around or helping with something. He didn’t feel powerless or alone.

“Yeah. Well, I think it’d probably be good but if you want to or not is your business. I’m pretty sure I’m gonna be coping with it the same way. Except I don’t really like gin.” He was totally aware he was mumbling into the pillow and Blaine could probably only sort of hear him. ”Thanks for coming to get me and letting me crash and just…I’m sorry I’m such a mess. G’night, Blaine.”

"G'night Finn. We have a long day tomorrow."