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This week has been crap and it’s only Monday. Saturday is a hard enough day for me. I have to be away from Blaine the majority of the day, thanks to the two shows I have. I was riding a high from Friday night dinner with my parents and getting to stay in the hotel with Blaine, so I think running into Nicki was just especially jarring. It’s not that he was mean, I just don’t feel like I have any extra energy to deal with the him at all.

I have Blaine, I have my family, and I have my career. That’s pretty much it for me right now. He was in my dressing room after the matinee. He was pacing back and forth and talking so fast it was hard to catch most of what he said, but he looked upset so I just let him talk. Nicki said a lot about my avoiding him and not returning his messages on facebook and how he’s just trying to be supportive. I had no idea what he meant by half of it. I haven’t even been on facebook this week.

I apologized for making him feel slighted but I reaffirmed to him that I was busy with Blaine. He assured me that he was only trying to be a good friend, and I just didn’t know what else to say to that. He left pretty quickly afterwards but it left me feeling worn down. I’m not against being Nicki’s friend, but I do sort of wonder what exactly that means to him.

-K

**

Blaine: How’s your Monday?

Kurt: Shit. I’m on the way to the ER. I landed wrong at rehearsal.

Blaine: Need me to come up there?

Kurt: No, because if you sit here you’ll risk getting sick. I’ll text you when I’m done.

Blaine: Okay. I love you. Have Erin or James call me if it’s bad and you have to stay over.

Kurt: Okay. Love you too.

**


Today has been blah. I’m so tired, and I think Rachel and I went five hundred different places to dress shop. I narrowed the selection down slightly, but she’s busy playing it safe. I told her she needs to step up and accept the award as a woman not looking like a prom queen. We’ll see if she listens. Maybe I should have invited Kurt along, but it was her shopping trip and really not my place.

-B

**

Finn: How was your visit with the parents?

Blaine: It was nice. Of course Burt drilled me with questions, but I expected that. We just got home from the hotel. Now I just want to curl in bed and sleep the rest of the day. I don’t feel all that great. I’m probably just worn down from all the excitement of the weekend and late nights

Finn: Yeah. Sounds like you definitely need to get some rest and take it easy for a few days at least.

Blaine: Yeah, I’m not too worried. We need to go get formal wear eventually for this awards banquet.

Finn: Oh, right. Doesn’t mine sort of depend on what Rachel’s gonna wear though?

Blaine: My plan is for Kurt and I to wear basic black. You too so Rachel will stand out! We just have to see what she chooses though, and as for Kurt well you know him :)

Finn: Yeah. Well I have a tux that’s pretty basic so I can probably just wear that. I can get a black shirt instead of a white one if you want though.

Blaine: White shirt is fine. We just want Rachel to stand out :)

Kurt: Really? Both of you need to learn to reply to group messages. No matter what is decided I will look fabulous. I won’t try to outshine Rachel, but you both know me. Apparently. It’s a good thing I am so fond of you both.

**
Blaine: Kurt...

Kurt: You’re laughing at me...

Blaine: What?! I’m not laughing at you. You have always said you pull focus.

Kurt: I happen to like to pull focus. I just never knew it bothered you. And you don’t have to send Cooper, I can get in a cab just fine.

Blaine: It doesn’t bother me. I like it. I am sending Cooper. Crutches are a bitch.

Kurt: “Oh, well, lol, you know how Kurt is.” That seems like you think I’m pretty funny, Blaine. Or maybe you just think I have a terrible sense of fashion these days. Fine. I hate crutches.

Blaine: Wow using my conversation with Finn against me. I love you, I thought you would understand that as joking around and loving your fashion sense. I said if I get my way knowing I probably won’t because you have much better taste. Ugh...

Kurt: Why wasn’t I invited to go shopping with Rachel?

Blaine: Ask her. We went on a Tuesday morning I didn’t know your schedule.

Kurt: Fine. You’ve done nothing wrong, obviously. Just completely disregarded how any of that might make me feel.

Blaine: I’m sorry it’s not my place to invite you shopping. It’s her dress. Take it up with her.

Kurt: I’m not even talking about that! You know what? I don’t feel like doing this.

Blaine: Doing what? This talk or this relationship? Because it’s pretty clear to me that you feel like I totally disregarded you on purpose which couldn’t be further from the truth.

Kurt: I can’t believe you just asked me that. I’m mad Blaine, I can be mad! Maybe you’re the one with the second thoughts.

Blaine: No I don’t have second thoughts, not a one. I just don't understand why you are blowing up on me over something that you would normally take as just a joke between us. Whatever.

Kurt: I’m sorry I’m such a miserable asshole. Cooper’s here, I’m putting away my phone. You can yell at me properly for my outburst when I get there.

**

Kurt: Sorry I’ve just had a shit day.

Finn: Are other things okay?

Kurt: Not really. There’s this guy at work and I don’t know what to do with him, and then I realized that my two months until the wedding turned into six weeks, and then the sprained ankle. Then I picked a fight with Blaine for no good reason. I hate today. Today sucks.

Finn: …how long has it been since we talked? Maybe we should go to the pub tomorrow and catch up. We’ll order something you can stab a lot.

Kurt: That sounds really good, Finn. Stabbing things sounds just about right.

**

Blaine shoved an ice pack into a wash cloth wrap after blowing his nose and washing his hands. He felt like crap. He was supposed to have gone back to work, but woke up feeling achy and run down so he had promised Kurt he wouldn’t go in if he felt off, and he stayed home and slept until he got the phone call. Kurt had landed wrong and twisted his ankle pretty badly at rehearsal, and because he was already feeling like crap he sent Cooper to get him, and the argument had just escalated from there. He picked up his phone and read it again before shoving it back into his pocket and placing another ice pack in a washcloth.

Kurt didn’t speak to Cooper on the way home except to thank him for coming after him. He was too afraid of what he would say, though he wasn’t sure if he was afraid he would start going off on Cooper too or if he would fall apart and cry. Neither sounded very promising so he kept his mouth shut. He was still boiling inside though, that hadn’t changed, even if it was mingled with a heavy dose of guilt. When they got back to Blaine’s apartment, Kurt hobbled in and let Cooper settle him onto the sofa.

Blaine sighed as the door clicked open and Max perked up. He had gotten to where he knew when it was Cooper, himself, or Kurt. Blaine grabbed a few of the ice packs and took one to Kurt and handed it to him quickly before saying hi and walking back into the kitchen to get him some water and tylenol, “here take this.”

Kurt took the icepack and laid it over his ankle. When Blaine returned Kurt looked up at him as he took the painkillers and washed them down with the water. “Thank you,” he said automatically, then his eyes darted away and he bristled. They couldn’t even have an argument without Blaine accusing him of wanting out. It felt too much like they way it was before. Right before they fell apart.

Blaine looked at him tensely for a moment, “What? You started in on me for no good reason.”

“So automatically I must be done with our relationship? We got married last week!” Kurt’s fingers curled into his pants.

Cooper raised his eyebrows slightly and slipped a leash on Max and headed out the door. “You said you were done with all of this. You know I understand if you can’t handle this anymore whatever this may be, but what I don’t understand is why you are so flipping mad at me when we were fine this morning!! On top of that it’s anger over a shopping trip and a conversation with Finn that was clearly meant to convey that you have the upper hand with your fashion sense.” Blaine coughed slightly and walked back into the kitchen for water before coming back out and slumping into the oversized arm chair.

Kurt didn’t say anything right away. How could Blaine understand that it wasn’t the shopping trip or the comment themselves but more a general sense that they just weren’t on the same page a lot of the time. They didn’t discuss some of the very basic things like schedules and money and Kurt’s apartment. Or work troubles. Blaine coughed which made Kurt flinch, so when he came back, Kurt tried to keep his voice calm as he spoke. “I didn’t feel like fighting over text messages any more. I wasn’t fine, I’m not fine, but you didn’t have to make it about our relationship.”

“I’m sorry I did that,” Blaine sighed and sipped on the water in hopes to stop the burning in his throat. “Just start from the beginning. What’s really bothering you?”

Kurt rubbed at the back of his neck. He couldn’t look at Blaine just now, he was still so tangled up in his thoughts and feelings. “I’m sorry I bit your head off for things that don’t really matter,” he sighed. “I feel like we’re living in limbo right now, and it’s not your fault, but it’s hard. There’s so much just slipping under the radar because nothing is as important to either of us…” his voice trailed off and he looked over at Blaine. “Nothing is important as your health right now which is just the way it has to be. Not just for you, but for me too, Blaine.” He hoped that was coming out right.

Blaine sighed and moved over to the couch and moved Kurt’s feet onto his lap and wrapped the ice pack tighter around his ankle before he began massaging the ball of his foot gently, “No it’s okay I get it. I just it’s hard when I’m so focused on this one thing. Survival.” Blaine breathed in and coughed into his elbow before speaking again, “But I’m feeling okay right now, and maybe we should talking money, apartments, and past relationships.”

Blaine’s tenderness in the middle of this situation made Kurt’s chest feel too tight, his throat closing down on his breath. “Maybe,” Kurt agreed softly. “I am sorry, Blaine. I think I just let today get to me.”

Blaine nodded, “Okay so start from the beginning besides the ankle thing, obviously, what got you riled up? Was it something with the director, cast, me? Just trying to figure it out.”

Kurt panicked internally for just a moment, then he answered. “I am pretty upset with the director, but I suppose he was right about my foot. It wasn’t just him though. It’s Nicki. I think I have a problem on my hands, but every time I think about what to do, Nicki is just really nice about everything. That’s not the source of all my stress but it’s like… I don’t even have the energy to deal with him properly. And I just lost it when I got hurt. I was so mad.”

“Yah he looked pretty pissed off when I saw him leaving your dressing room the other night when I stopped by with the picnic basket.” Blaine sighed as he switched his motions on Kurt’s hurt leg to the opposite one, “was he your boyfriend? We never really talked about him.”

Kurt winced. He hadn’t considered that Blaine might have seen him Saturday. “He wasn’t my boyfriend, but I do think we should talk about it.” Kurt suddenly didn’t want to. He was tired and hurting and just wanted to curl up around Blaine. That was probably half his problem right there. He was too tired to just deal. “Nicki’s the type of guy that never looks twice at anyone. We weren’t even friends ever. Then we hooked up at a party.” Kurt was staring down at his hands. “We still weren’t close, we just, sometimes we wound up together at the end of the night. He never expressed any desire for anything more though, and if he had I wouldn’t have been interested. Now, all the sudden, he acts like I’ve hurt him in some way. Almost like I owe him my friendship. I don’t quite know what to do with him, honestly.” Kurt said. “I feel pretty bad about it.”

“Sounds similar to Nate and I,” Blaine said before letting go of his foot grabbing some hand sanitizer spraying his hands and motioning for Kurt to move and place his head on his lap, “I don’t think you want shoe smell on your face,” he smiled. “Nate and I started out trying to have a relationship, we were friends, and one night things got heated we slept together, and realized we only had sexual chemistry. We would turn to the other when times got rough or we needed release and nothing more was expected. He knew about you though.” Blaine moved his arm, “just like I knew about Tom, his ex.”

“Nate seems to genuinely care for you though, even if it’s not romantic. I don’t know about Nicki. A month ago I would have said not in a million years. I swear Blaine, until recently he hardly had the time to notice me when he wasn’t drunk or horny. He’s not the sort of person… his type doesn’t like my type, usually? I’m saying this all wrong, but he’s been acting so strange since I got back.” The fact that Blaine had told Nate about him wasn’t lost on Kurt. Nicki might not have known about Blaine, but Kurt had come out with it to others in the past. People who’d wanted more when he had nothing more to give.

“He sounds jealous,” Blaine said as rubbed circles along Kurt’s forehead and temples, “Maybe he’s like that guy from the tv show about the gay guys that fell in love with the one he couldn’t have. I dunno, but I love you and I definitely don’t like the way he looks at me when I’m with you.” Blaine sighed and sneezed into his arm, “I’m sorry I jumped to conclusions.”

Kurt reached up and took one of Blaine’s hands in his own. “Maybe Nicki is jealous, but he has to deal with it himself, it’s not my job and I can’t have him acting unprofessional about it. I promise I’ll tell him that too. I love you Blaine, I was a jerk earlier. I should have just told you what I was feeling instead of going off like that. I can forgive you, you were just on the defense. Can you forgive me?” Kurt squeezed Blaine’s hand.

“No, not at all. I’m going to make you sleep on the couch while Max and I hog the bed.” Blaine did his best to keep a straight face but failed miserably and laughed lightly.

Kurt grinned up at Blaine, the tension slipping the rest of the way out of him. “Come here,” he demanded softly. Then his hand curled around the back of Blaine’s neck and he pulled him down slowly and kissed him.

“Mm,” Blaine hummed against Kurt’s lips as he pulled him down and kissed him. He could feel all his frustrations just slip away as their lips brushed and he deepened the kiss. He broke after a moment, “I love you.” he whispered against his lips and smiled.

“I love you too,” Kurt whispered. Suddenly all his troubles and worries seemed so much smaller than they had before.

Blaine smiled, “You know if you want to talk about selling your place and moving in permanently I wouldn’t object, and as for money I think we’re both doing pretty good keeping it the way it is right now.”

“I’d like to talk about that. I want to move in, but I need to be contributing around here. Something more than food and smoothie making. Like bills and rent. That’s what I meant about money.”

“I understand that, and I’m all for that but for all intents and purposes you’re my husband now so why don’t I continue paying for the apartment we split the utilities in half, and we keep our phones separate, and you can be in charge of all the groceries since you just love to torture me with green smoothies and health food.”

“I think that can work,” Kurt agreed. “I’ll talk to a realtor too, about the loft.” It was a good start, though he knew there would be a lot of little conversations like this as they tried to merge their households. Knowing that Blaine would be there, even when Kurt was being an ass, that made it all so much easier to face.

Blaine smiled, “now that we’ve worked all this out can I complain about my cough and sneezing and feeling like utter crap? I didn’t go into work like I promised.”

“Yeah, we can. You ought to let me make you some soup tonight, or some hot tea. Maybe put you in a warm bath with lots of steam. I’m glad you didn’t push yourself though,” Kurt said.

Blaine smiled, “I don’t have fever thank god or that would be a hospital visit. Soup sounds really good actually, and then maybe a bath with lots of steam and you.”

Kurt sat up slowly turning so his feet were down and he could turn toward Blaine a little better. He leaned in and kissed his cheek. “I’m going to go see what we have for soup, and we’ll see about the bath, I might have to sit on the edge of the tub though.”

“Tell you what. You go see about soup, and I’ll go shower then that way you can bathe and I’ll sit on the side of the tub. The warm water will help your ankle, and I did get a little spoiled in the huge hotel bathtub.”

“I like spoiling you though. If I can get in the bath I want to get in with you. You’re not the only one that got spoiled,” Kurt winked and then reached for his crutches, and then headed into the kitchen. Soup wasn’t difficult and he was pretty sure they had the necessary vegetables to throw in with the leftover roasted chicken in the freezer.

“I’ll wait,” Blaine smiled and flopped back onto the couch just as Cooper came back in with Max. “You didn’t hear the we’re married part of that,” he said and flipped on the TV to wait for Kurt.

**

Kurt’s ankle was feeling stronger the next day and Blaine was off to the studio so Kurt decided to take Finn up on his lunch idea. Or something. He figured they could grab a bite to eat and then maybe a movie. He still couldn’t walk around much and there were lots of new movies out that he hadn’t seen. He called Finn to make the arrangements and then texted Blaine in case he came home early. Then he was out the door and slowly making his way down to the street.

The whole taxi thing was a little less fun than usual, but Kurt made it to lunch without any major disasters. They grabbed junk mainly, which was sort of a nice change though Kurt wasn’t going to say that to anyone because it would definitely come back to bite his ass. He did make a silent promise to himself that he would be sure Blaine had some fun things to eat now and then too. There were only so many healthy meals one could ingest at a time without needing something different. As it turned out, Kurt hadn’t even heard of any of the current movies that were out. He and Finn dithered about which to go with, but in the end the comedy was agreed upon being that it wasn’t too gory for Kurt or too romantic for Finn. They got drinks and snacks and Kurt ordered Raisinettes. The theater was empty at this hour of the day, which was a nice surprise.

“I haven’t been to a movie in forever,” Kurt said as they sat.

Finn had made the plans with Kurt because he realized how much they had both sort of missed over the last couple weeks. He didn’t know exactly when Kurt had turned into that sort of… like… home base sort of person for him, but Kurt was. Like as much as he of course relied on Rachel, it was almost equally important for him to talk to Kurt, too, and he’d been sort of failing miserably at that while he was on tour. He didn’t know if he wanted to go more than he needed to go or if it was the other way around, but he did know he was sort of relieved to be out with his brother.

Lunch was just sort of the usual, and he didn’t say a word about Kurt ordering total crap. Well, they both did it and knew the other wouldn’t tell. It was kind of a secret thing they did and never, ever talked about. That particular thing had started living in a house with Burt post-heart attack; they would just go outside the house to get french fries or something. Finn knew his mom had always suspected but she never really said anything. Then again, he’d had those same kinds of outings with her too once in awhile.

Anyway. They ended up at a movie. He didn’t remember the details of it, even as he was putting his ass in the seat and handing over the bucket of popcorn. ”Yeah, I know. Me either. Like…” if he thought about it, he thought maybe the last time he’d been to a movie was probably with Kurt. During college or something ridiculous. ”You of all people know this but when Rachel says theater, a movie is not what she has in mind. Ever. So that basically means I don’t go to a theater without a stage. I’m glad we’re doing this.”

“Yeah,” Kurt laughed. ”Me too, the past couple of weeks have just swallowed me up.” Kurt sipped at his diet soda, hoping he hadn’t just said more than he meant too. Obviously Finn knew things were stressed, but Kurt wasn’t here to unload. he was here to escape. Eat the crap food, talk about things that don’t matter, and just relax. Not that he couldn’t relax with Blaine. He thought they had done an amazing job of trying to add in quiet time together, time for just them, but it wasn’t the same at all. In fact, thinking about it now, Kurt couldn’t explain it in terms that made the right sort of sense. Finn was sort of his person now. More so now it seemed, than ever before, and that was really saying something. Somehow, in the midst of his own personal tragedies, Finn was still able to make Kurt feel like his struggles mattered, and that he had a safe place to just be.

The previews came up then, but because there was no one else, Kurt didn’t bother pretending he cared. He just popped another piece of popcorn in his mouth then turned toward Finn. ”I’m really looking forward to that award ceremony. It’ll be fun to get everyone together in one place again. I’m gonna see Rachel’s dress soon too and then I can start worrying about what I’m going to wear.” It was almost a joke since he’d freaked out about that just yesterday. He still felt like a dick over that, but it was never about clothes or shopping. It was the pressure.

Finn grinned a little and shook his head. ”The awards are gonna be good,” he said. He wiped his hands over his jeans a little, ignoring the voice in his head that sounded suspiciously like his mom telling him to use a napkin. ”That’s where me and you are different, man. She bought me that tux during her opening night thing while she was at NYADA and just… I’m totally just wearing that and I’m maybe a little grateful it’s already there.” He looked over at Kurt and bit his lip. ”Please don’t tell her I said that, though. She’ll just drag me shopping again and really I’m just glad she has you guys for stuff like that ‘cause I think we all look for different things when it comes to clothes.”

He squinted a little, distracted by a song on one of the previews that sounded completely familiar. ”Anyway… no, I… it probably makes me sound like a selfish ass but this award of hers couldn’t have come at a better time. I know it gives her a huge boost that she needs but…but yeah. We could use something positive to think about for a while. I’m sure you guys are the same. I think that’s part of what’s exciting with your wedding coming up now too.”

Kurt snickered behind his popcorn at Finn and his one tux. At least it was a nice one, classy enough to just be recycled for every black tie event. But yeah, they were like night and day when it came to fashion. That was okay though, that was just them.

“Mums the word,” Kurt interjected and he pursed his lips for emphasis. Finn was probably right about the shopping. Kurt was pretty sure Finn was busy looking for things that were easy to strip off quickly and that showed off all of Rachel’s feminine assets in appropriate measure. Not that there was anything wrong with any of that really, but Kurt had a much more critical eye for detail. Plus he loved shopping for any reason.

Oh the wedding. Five and a half weeks away basically. ”Yeah,” Kurt nodded. ”It’s really exciting.” And it was. Really. Well and it was stressful. He needed to sit Blaine down and go down the list of decisions that have to be made. Like yesterday. The wedding just kept taking a backseat to everything else, which made sense. Everything else tended to be Blaine first, then work. Remember not to lose any more weight. Remember to work out. Avoid Nicki. Stop thinking about that, he told himself firmly.

“I’m really happy Rachel has this right now. I don’t think it’s selfish for you to want something good for her to focus on, not at all. You guys both needed this. I get that.”

He could hear the sort of flat tone when Kurt said the wedding was really exciting and he sighed. It was exciting, Kurt wasn’t wrong, but it was also just sort of one thing on top of a really huge pile. Finn knew from like hundreds of miles away that his brother was completely stressed out. It was even more clear up close like this. He didn’t want to pry or fight or anything; honestly, he didn’t have the energy to dig. So he just sort of blinked and let Kurt change the subject a little.

He couldn’t stop the pity party from pouring out of his mouth, though. He sort of hated that this always happened when he was with his brother. There was really not another person in the world who could’ve gotten him crying in a bar.

“Yeah, but it’s not my accomplishment. Not even a little. It’s all hers. It’s…I didn’t do anything except give her a hard time for taking the job and just not understand what she needed and…” He was counting kernels of popcorn in the bucket balanced on his leg and not really paying attention to words until he finally squeezed his eyes shut and let out a frustrated noise. ”Sorry. Just… I’m sorry.” His eyes flicked up to the screen where the movie was starting and he blinked a couple times. ”I… what… what movie is this even again?”

Finn’s calm chatter was slipping and Kurt felt suddenly guilty for dragging him along to a movie when he obviously had so much on his mind. It was too easy, Kurt thought, for him to get caught up in his own stuff. Just the stuff of making it through every day. Days would go by before one of them would reach out to the other, and even then nothing important was said. In fact, Kurt was fairly certain that they’d done nothing but trade texts and the occasional call since Blaine’s surgery and really that was just unacceptable. Kurt knew what Finn was going through, well he knew the gist of it, not how it was affecting Finn. Though he could imagine it anyway.

“It’s okay,” Kurt wanted him to be able to say what he needed to say, but maybe he wasn’t ready. A movie theater wasn’t exactly conducive to conversation. ”I think… I… actually what are we seeing, some comedy thing right?” Kurt thought back over their conversation in front of the sales window outside. They weren’t seeing a horror movie, then there was that rom com thing that Finn wanted to avoid, and there was some children’s thing that was like part five and made him shudder, but the comedy… was it about college or something? Kurt wasn’t sure. He hated to think how often this happened to him lately. He’d forget what he was doing and find himself standing in the kitchen, his hands under the faucet, or in the closet staring at the clothes even when he was already dressed. It was disconcerting to say the least.

Finn could hear Kurt’s hesitation and he was glad he wasn’t the only one who couldn’t remember five minutes ago. Well… sort of. It wasn’t like he wished his brother would be distracted or anything he just had no focus and he was sort of glad that he wasn’t the only person around like that. Maybe he didn’t have to worry so much about missing something Kurt needed while Kurt was just as distracted.

He blinked a little, breathed a little more, and let his hand play absently with the popcorn. He knew that was gross and normally he didn’t think Kurt would be thrilled, but it wasn’t like either one of them were eating much. ”Maybe?” He said after he watched it for a minute. Someone puked on the screen and he tilted his head. ”It’s definitely not a chick movie.”

“Do you ever feel like you’re in slow motion? And like the world is going so fast and you can’t catch up?” Finn sighed. ”I’m totally missing, like, everything with you and Blaine. Things just keep happening to me and Rachel before we can even deal with what came before. The baby, the reunion, the tour…I feel like I blinked and I missed it all.” He looked over at Kurt. ”Am I the only one?”

“No,” Kurt said slowly. It wasn’t very funny at this point either. It was mostly just gross and maybe also a little weird. something about the way this scene looked, maybe it was through a camera filter of some kind?

“You’re not the only one,” Kurt said firmly. “So much has happened in the past few months, it’s like the outside world barely exists. One week blurs away into another. I forget to call people or see people. I hate it,” Kurt bit back the next sentence because he hadn’t meant to sound so suddenly angry. He took a breath. He needed Finn and Rachel so very badly right now and he couldn’t usually be bothered to remember that they were only a phone call away. What was worse was that he was sure they felt the same way. Time just had to be made, even if Kurt had to set an alarm on his phone just to remember to make it.

It made him feel lost, suddenly, which made him feel guilty. He could run from that feeling. He could shove it down and try to squeeze out every happy moment he could with Blaine, but that wouldn’t change the fact that Kurt was sinking. They were all sinking, for different reasons. He hated all of it, but he had no idea what to do to make any of it better.