Warnings: Future fic. Angst. Allusions to a hate crime. Brain injuries.
Word Count: 2,904
Summary: Despite everything, everything they've gone through in the past five months, nothing's changed. Kurt and Blaine are still KurtandBlaine and they always will be. No matter how many rusted pipes they have to take to the head, nothing can break what they have. Ever.
A hate crime leaves Blaine damaged and Kurt refuses to let it bring them down.
A/N: People always say write what you know, and I know brain inuries. I work with people who have brain injuries and I am constantly impressed and surprised at their strength, at what they overcome and accomplish everyday, and I wanted to document that.
This is angsty, but also optomistic. It's a single day in a long road of recovery and I tried to show both the severity of brain injuries, but also the achievements and success that come along with them. I wrote this in a different tense than
I'm used to, so I apologize if there are any mistakes.
I might continue this if there is any interest in reading more, in sort of a single-day-at-a-time manner, at different points through Blaine's recovery. So let me know what you think :) And without further ado...
(also sorry about any formating errors, I have no idea what the flip is going on with livejournal)
September 15th, 2018
Kurt closes his eyes and lets the golden blanket of the rising sun wash over him. It warms his skin, despite the chill in the early autumn air. For a moment he just stands, only seeing the red of his closed eyelids and it’s easy to pretend everything is alright. Everything is perfect.
And then that stuttering cough bring him back and he opens his eyes. He smiles, feeling content, even as he grips the cold handles of the wheelchair and pushes. Blaine coughs again and Kurt reaches to massage his shoulder soothingly. At first it had been scary, the cough. The way Blaine’s breathing stops and stutters, and he can’t seem to get a good breath in. He coughs, ragged and desperate, until he finds his rhythm and his breathing evens out. The doctors said it isn’t anything to worry about. The damage to Blaine’s brain means sometimes his throat relaxes too much, like sleep apnea but awake, his breaths getting too slow and his brain struggles to catch up. But it always does.
It’s calm out at six in the morning. Only a few cars rush past, business men and nurses and others starting their workday early. Kurt doesn’t mind the mornings. Blaine rarely sleeps longer than a few hours and Kurt has become so in-tune to his coughs and breathing changes that he always wakes when Blaine does.
They do this every morning. Kurt pushing Blaine down the nearly deserted road, their pace slow and leisurely. Kurt sees the way Blaine relaxes, his stiff joints becoming loose, his breathing calmer, his face peaceful. There’s something about the morning, the way the sun slowly creeps over the horizon, the trees glowing in the golden light, the dew glistening on the grass, dampening Kurt’s ankles, that makes it impossible to dwell upon the bad. The memories. The shouts, the pain, the hurt of that night. The night that changed their lives forever.
They walk for about an hour until Blaine’s shivering forces them back inside. The mornings are getting colder and Kurt fears the day they won’t be able to continue their morning ritual. The day it snows and Blaine is stuck inside all day.
Their house is small but nice. The apartment in New York couldn’t accommodate Blaine’s needs and the Anderson’s had graciously gotten them a new place, single level with a ramp entrance and open rooms, an hour drive from the big city. The least they could do, they said. It is cozy and, with the help of Kurt’s superior interior decorating, is beginning to feel a bit like home.
Inside Kurt helps Blaine out of his jacket, unwinds his scarf from his neck. Blaine looks at him, as he always does, with that ever-present mix of love and hopelessness shining in his eyes. Kurt smiles encouragingly as he leads Blaine’s fingers to his buttons, offering support as Blaine fumbles to undo them. The doctor said his motor skills were improving, and he should be doing as many small movement tasks as he could. Rebuild and strengthen connections that have been broken and damaged in his brain. Blaine groans softly in frustration as his fingers refuse to cooperate, the button slipping from his grasp. He tries to pull his hands away but Kurt grips him tighter, returning the button to his fingers, refusing to give up.
“You’ve got it,” Kurt offers, smiling as Blaine pushes the button free of the fabric. He helps with the rest, focusing on small victories. Right now they conquered the button. Later perhaps a puzzle, or mixing cookie dough. Kurt would get flour on his cheek and Blaine would laugh his broken, choppy laugh. Kurt would teasingly pat flour on Blaine’s hand and Blaine would focus on wiping it off, until Kurt’s soft fingers would help him, pressing a kiss to the spot, the shape of his lips damp in the flour. That would be later. For now, they are happy with the button.
Today is Janessa’s day. Kurt loves his job and they have been accommodating, letting him work from home when he can and giving him Fridays off, which he could never be more grateful for. But Blaine can’t be alone. The doctors had suggested some group homes, places he could live and have constant care. His parents had agreed that it would be easiest, and maybe they were right, but Kurt couldn’t do it. It may not have seemed like it at the time, but Blaine was still in there, somewhere, and he couldn’t send him away to live with complete strangers, no matter how caring they were. Which is how he found Janessa and Olivia. Two nursing students, trained through an agency that provides in-home care to individuals with brain damage. To people like Blaine.
Janessa comes Monday and Tuesday, arriving around eight and leaving when Kurt gets back from work at six. She’s bubbly and happy and Kurt doesn’t think he’s ever seen her without a smile. Olivia is a little more reserved, speaking softly and shyly, but the care still evident in her eyes. What Kurt loves about both of them is how they talk to Blaine like he is a person, just like them, not changing their speech patterns and words like he’s a child, as so many do.
As expected, Janessa springs through the door at eight o’clock sharp, announcing good morning with more energy than anyone should have in the morning. She’s carrying her usual venti coffee, which Kurt supposes has a lot to do with her never ending energy. She reminds him of Blaine, in a way. Blaine before.
“Waddup Blaine!” she sings, reaching out her hand. Blaine lifts an unsteady arm, curling his fingers in as much as he can and they pound it, Janessa making an exploding noise as they pull away. Kurt shakes his head with a smile, sure that they had been practicing the day before with the sole intent of showing off to him.
“You’ll be teaching him gang signs before you know it,” Kurt says and Janessa smiles.
“Blaine’s gangsta,” she says and Blaine lets out a laugh. Kurt feels warm affection growing in him, and he wonders how he was lucky enough to find someone who could make Blaine smile like that.
Janessa kneels, putting her lips close to Blaine’s ear and whispering loud enough for Kurt to clearly hear. “He’s just jealous he’s not as fly as we are.”
Kurt rolls his eyes and squeezes Blaine’s hand. “Don’t let her corrupt you while I’m gone, honey.” Blaine squeezes back as well as he can and with a kiss to the forehead Kurt is gone.
The day is long; the fall spread is coming fast and Kurt gives up his lunch break in order to meet deadlines. He’s exhausted by the time he gets home, the warm smell of baking rolls and chicken casserole greeting him as soon as he opens the door and his stomach grumbles its appreciation. Blaine is sitting on the couch and is that…glitter on his nose? Kurt hangs up his jacket and lowers beside him. Blaine’s head rolls towards him, lips tugging into a smile. His fingers twitch and Kurt knows he wants to tell him something.
“What of Janessa’s poorly planned activities were you forced to endure today?” Kurt asks lightly, reaching his thumb to wipe the glitter from Blaine’s nose. Blaine’s eyes flicker towards the coffee table and Kurt raises an eyebrow as he shuffles over. A single sheet of paper sits, framed by assortments of glue and glitter and markers. Written on that paper, in shaky writing that could belong to a preschooler, is Kurt’s name, embellished with glitter and jewels and artistic hearts. Kurt picks up the paper, heart leaping to his throat.
“Did you write this?”
Blaine smiles and lifts a finger. Yes. Kurt clasps a hand over his mouth, tears springing to his eyes as he looks back at the paper. He doesn’t think he’s ever seen anything more beautiful. “Hey, I didn’t realize you were home,” Janessa’s voice drifts through the room as she moves to stand beside Kurt.
“He did that himself,” she says. “I helped him a little, held his hand to keep it steady, you know? But the letters were all him.”
“That’s…” Kurt starts and trails off. He looks over at Janessa, hoping his expression properly portrays how much this means to him. “Thank you.”
Janessa smiles warmly. “Thank him,” she motions to Blaine. “He’s the one who insisted we fabulous it up with glitter.”
“It’s beautiful,” Kurt says to Blaine and he means it. Barely five months ago they hadn’t been sure if Blaine could understand anything, if he’d ever be able to interact with anyone ever again. And now here he is, exceeding so many expectations with glitter and hearts. This morning Blaine conquered a button, and this afternoon he wrote Kurt’s name. Kurt tries desperately to swallow the wave of emotions that threatens to overcome him. Instead he sits next to Blaine, pulling him into a hug, never wanting to let go.
Janessa finishes her charting and leaves with a pound it and instructions that dinner will be done in twenty minutes and Kurt better not burn it or Blaine will tell her next week and there will be consequences. Kurt tapes Blaine’s success beside their bed, vowing to shove it in the face of all the doctors who said Blaine would be a vegetable the rest of his life.
Janessa is a good cook and dinner is delicious. It’s only been the past month that Blaine’s slowly worked his way from the feeding tube to eating by mouth, and even then only if its puréed. He still lacks the motor skills for chewing and swallowing correctly, the doctors said, which puts him at a higher risk of choking. Kurt spoons mushed up casserole into Blaine’s mouth before allowing himself to take a bite, watching carefully as Blaine works the food clumsily with his tongue, wiping away any that escapes without a word.
They get through dinner without any outbursts, which is an accomplishment. It’s understandable that Blaine gets frustrated when he can’t close his mouth enough to prevent food from falling back out, or manage to grip a spoon without Kurt’s fingers closing over his, but it still breaks Kurt’s heart when Blaine gets angry and lashes out, plate tumbling off the table and crashing to the floor.
“It’s ok,” Kurt will say with forced calm, gathering the broken dishes. “We can be done.”
Later, Blaine will always grab Kurt’s hand in his half grip, guiding it to his heart in the way that Kurt knows means both I’m sorry and I love you because, really, they seem to mean the same thing, lately.
“I know,” Kurt will always say, closing his eyes as he feels Blaine’s strong heartbeat, something he had been so close to never feeling again.
None of this happens today and after dinner Kurt tells Blaine about his day, sparing no details as he rants and raves about the designers and the layouts and Mikaela should have had those prints in three days ago. Blaine smiles and listens quietly and Kurt plays with the ring on his finger.
“I’m still going to marry you, you know that, right?” Kurt says when his one-sided conversation dies down and Blaine smiles his goofy grin. Despite everything, everything they’ve gone through in the past five months, nothing’s changed. Kurt and Blaine are still KurtandBlaine and they always will be. No matter how many rusted pipes they have to take to the head, nothing can break what they have. Ever. Kurt’s feeling better than he has in a long while and Blaine ate his dinner well so Kurt presses a hand to his fiancé’s knees, skinny with atrophy, and leans forward.
Blaine nods and Kurt smiles triumphantly, like this was the best idea in the world. He digs through the freezer until he finds some Ben & Jerry’s. Strawberry. Blaine’s favorite. He helps Blaine with the spoon and when some slips from Blaine’s mouth and down his chin Kurt gathers it with his fingers and sucks them clean. But ice cream is messy and Kurt can tell when Blaine starts to get frustrated so he quickly closes the tub, claiming he needs to watch his womanly figure and they’re done.
The days seem to end as soon as they start and Kurt is getting Blaine ready for bed, brushing his teeth and applying moisturizers that Blaine doesn’t bother saying no to (because you’re twenty-five Blaine, and it’s never too early for wrinkle prevention). Kurt dresses the stomach tube like the nurses taught him and checks for pressure sores and skin breakdown as he does every night while putting him in the silk pajamas Kurt had bought him for Christmas last year, and finally deposits him in bed. Kurt shifts him around until he’s tucked under the blankets, all awkward angles and stiff limbs.
Only then does Kurt set about getting himself ready for bed. He’s halfway through his moisturizing when he hears Blaine grunt. A grunt that Kurt recognizes instantly. His bottles are abandoned, still shaking with the force that Kurt pushed away from his vanity and he’s immediately by Blaine’s side.
“Deep breaths, honey, remember,” he forces his voice to be calming. “I’ll be here with you.”
Blaine groans again and Kurt notes the time as he suddenly goes rigid, limbs vibrating with strain and breathes coming in ragged grunts. His eyes flutter back and forth impossibly fast and his lips turn an unhealthy shade of blue as he seizes.
The first time Blaine had a seizure, Kurt cried. It had been in the hospital, when Blaine was still unconscious. Kurt had been sure that was the end. That Blaine was dying. But five minutes after it started it stopped, and Blaine’s heart monitor had continued to beat strongly. Kurt had always thought that seizures were all the same; falling dramatically to the floor and shaking but the doctor had informed him that there were many different types of seizures, and many people with brain injuries, especially those of Blaine’s nature, developed them. It had been scary, it still is scary. They never know when a seizure could occur, sometimes he’ll have three in a day, sometimes there will be weeks between them, and every time Kurt can’t help but think what if. What if this is it. What if this is the tipping point, this seizure the one to put the pressure on Blaine’s brain that stops it from working altogether. What if this ends everything.
Kurt pushes the thoughts from his mind, trying to stay in the here and now. Blaine needs him. Strong, wonderful, beautiful Blaine, who had something really terrible happen to him but is defying every timeline, every expectation set for him. Blaine who never stops trying, who works hard at everything and won’t let something like a stupid seizure bring him back down. Blaine who never gave up on Kurt, and Kurt isn’t about to give up on him. No matter that Blaine had taken the worst of the injuries, they are in this together, and Kurt will fight as hard as Blaine is. After two minutes, Kurt thanks a God he doesn’t believe in that it was only two, Blaine’s breathing slows from frantic grunts to even breaths, his body relaxing, and eyes blinking tiredly. He shifts slightly and Kurt reaches to grab his hand.
“Blaine?” Kurt says and Blaine responds, eyes roaming up to find Kurt’s. Kurt offers a reassuring smile. Blaine’s eyes start to sag close, and Kurt knows he must be exhausted.
“Blaine, honey,” Kurt feels slightly guilty as he forces Blaine to look back up him. “You can sleep soon, I promise. Just tell me how you’re feeling, and I’ll stop bothering you. Do you feel ok?”
Blaine blinks, arm tangling in blankets and Kurt pulls back his covers, Blaine’s free hand lifting one finger in a yes.
“Does your head hurt?” Yes.
“A lot?” Two fingers. No.
“Do you want your pill?” No.
“Do you need me to get you anything?” This time Blaine just looks at Kurt, eyebrows raising, the word seriously? obvious without being said. Kurt just nods, leans to kiss Blaine on the cheek and pulls his covers back up.
“Go to sleep,” he says and runs his fingers through Blaine’s short hair, mindful of the jagged scars that cut across his scalp, an open map of the night Kurt would give anything to change.
Kurt finishes his moisturizing and curls in behind Blaine, drawing him close into his chest. He feels the slow rhythm of Blaine’s breathing; when he’s sleeping it’s easy to pretend that it’s just them. No brain damage or seizures or doctors orders between them. But no matter what, no matter how much Blaine recovers, or declines, Kurt will always love him, nothing can change that. The perfect, beautiful boy he met on the staircase, that doesn’t let anything get him down. Not homophobes, not rusted pipes, not doctors with their stupid charts and diagnoses. Because Blaine is stronger than all that, and Kurt is stronger and together they will get through. No matter what.
Next part: Of Hurt and Hope