Stop Loss: Chapter 32, Part 2

Aug 31, 2012 00:16

One day, I'll write stories that fit within a single post. Today is not that day.

About a week and a half after Kurt's first dinner with Carole and Finn, Kurt was lying on the couch with a cup of coffee, trying to finish one of his required summer reading novels, when the doorbell rang.

Frowning at the clock-it was 9:17am on a Sunday, an indecent time for anyone to be visiting-Kurt marked his spot with a bookmark and padded barefoot through the kitchen and down the hall to the front door. A quick glance through the peephole answered any questions that Kurt might have had, and he rolled his eyes as he unlocked and opened the door to reveal a smiling Jesse St. James.

"You know, civilized people wait until at least 10:00am before barging into other people's houses," he commented dryly, stepping back to allow Jesse and his two oversized shopping bags through the doorway.

Jesse smiled unaffectedly. "I'd hardly call it barging in, since you answered the door and held it open for me," he pointed out serenely. "And really, if we're talking about civilized manners, how about the standard conventional practice of putting on clothing before receiving guests?"

Kurt glanced down. He was still in a Hummel Tires & Lube t-shirt and a pair of pajama pants, it was true, but they and he were both clean. "What do you want, Jesse?" he asked with a sigh, folding his arms over his chest and leaning against the wall next to the door.

Jesse admonished him with a look. "Again, that is no way to treat a guest," he scolded lightly. "Especially one who comes bearing gifts."

He held out one of the shopping bags to Kurt, who took it, intrigued in spite of himself. "It's the rest of my Tai Chi collection, for Burt," Jesse explained, as Kurt looked inside the bag at the pile of DVDs. "And, in the event that he behaves himself and actually does his exercise," he continued, holding up the second bag, "a week's work of heart-healthy, low sodium dinner entrees."

Kurt raised an eyebrow as he accepted the second bag. "Where did you get these?" he wanted to know, peering inside the bag at the neatly-stacked takeout containers. "You don't cook."

Jesse smirked sweetly. "No, but our neighbors have an Obama sticker on their Prius and a personal chef," he confided. "I merely mentioned to them that I was bringing meals to the cholesterol-laden impoverished, and did they have anything they could please contribute?"

Kurt shook his head. "You're a terrible person," he deadpanned. "And thank you."

"You're welcome," Jesse said simply. "I smell coffee."

Kurt took the blunt cue and lead Jesse into the kitchen, pouring two fresh cups of coffee. "I thought you were taking those with you to Los Angeles," he remarked with a nod at the bag of DVDs, adding cinnamon and sugar to each mug before passing one to Jesse. "Not enough room in your luggage?"

Jesse shrugged elegantly. "I wouldn't know," he replied easily. "I haven't packed yet. I'm not leaving Ohio until September 5th."

Kurt took a sip of coffee, frowning at it when he realized that it was a little cooler than he liked. "That's late, isn't it?" he wondered out loud. "Everyone else's classes start before Labor Day."

Jesse mirrored Kurt's previous actions, right down to the mildly disgusted grimace at the coffee mug. "Choir rehearsal doesn't start until the tenth," he informed Kurt, getting up from the table and putting his cup in the microwave. "I'll be there in plenty of time."

Kurt stared. "For choir, fine," he said flatly, "but what about classes? They must begin earlier than that."

Jesse gave Kurt a condescending look. "I haven't been to class in over three years," he reminded Kurt, turning back to the microwave to watch his coffee slowly spinning around. "Why would I start now? Especially in California-were you aware of how many Asian students there are out there? My grades are going to be exquisite."

Kurt blinked. "All right," he said, putting his coffee down with a harsh clink. "First of all, that's racist," he pointed out. "Second of all, Carmel is a very one-of-a-kind, twisted little snowflake that in no way resembles the American educational experience. You're going to have to go to class at UCLA. I know it sounds harsh, but people significantly more idiotic than you have managed it before, so I'm sure you'll get used to it eventually."

Jesse frowned, his forehead wrinkling. "Kurt, I'm majoring in show choir," he protested. "Classes would be a waste of my exceedingly valuable time; that can't possibly be right."

When Kurt's expression didn't change, Jesse's frown deepened. "Where's your laptop?" he demanded suddenly.

Fifteen minutes later, Jesse sat back in his chair with a contemplative, "Huh"; Kurt looking over his shoulder at UCLA's website, which expressly outlined the University's attendance policies.

Kurt sat down next to Jesse. "Are you going to be okay?" he asked sympathetically.

Jesse blinked slowly. "My entire worldview just collapsed in on itself," he replied in a monotone voice. "I might need a minute." He paused, clearly thinking.

After a few seconds, he frowned. "Do you think this is a big enough shock to induce the minor drinking problem that will make me a more haunted and sympathetic artist in my late twenties?" he asked Kurt hopefully.

Kurt patted his shoulder. "I wouldn't risk it," he advised. "Why don't you hold onto this moment of crushing disappointment, and maybe use it in a scene someday?"

Jesse brightened at the suggestion-temporarily, at least. "I was really hoping to decimate the competition in my ongoing eBay bidding war over an original Edith Piaf morphine bottle," he murmured broodingly, staring intently at Kurt's computer screen. "I'm going to have to lose on purpose; that was the money my parents sent me to buy textbooks with."

He looked up at Kurt. "What's losing like?" he wanted to know. "Does it actually cause physical pain, or is that just a myth?"

It was a close call, but Kurt managed to avoid rolling his eyes in the wake of Jesse's spiritual-consumerist pathos.

Blaine was back from Montreal ("I sent a postcard, I swear, but I have no idea what the front says," he'd told Kurt on his first day back in Ontario), and in a show of physical fitness that Kurt could admire without wanting to emulate-dancing with Vocal Adrenaline had him sweating enough for four people as it was, especially with the regime change-had been spending his early mornings running around the lake.

"Well, not around the lake," he'd clarified over the phone that night, his voice shadowed with tiredness. "That would be, like, hundreds of miles. But it's nice, running by the water, and it's really peaceful in the mornings before all the tourists and kids start showing up. Plus, I can go swimming afterward if it's hot out."

Kurt hummed in response, preoccupied. "Not while you're still wearing your shoes, I hope," he admonished, getting up from his desk chair and flopping down on his bed instead.

He heard Blaine laugh. "No, I hide them in the bushes," he promised. "Or hold them over my head, if I'm not going in too deep."

Kurt picked at a cuticle. "Blaine?" he asked abruptly, changing the subject. "Can I tell you something, and ask you to think about it before you get angry or upset?"

There was a loaded silence.

"Why would I get angry?" Blaine asked finally, sounding worried.

Kurt curled further into his pillow and sighed. "Maybe you won't," he reasoned. "But will you promise to at least hear me out, first?"

Blaine sighed back. "Okay," he agreed warily. "All right. I promise."

Kurt rolled onto his back, blinking up at the ceiling. "Thank you," he breathed, trying to think of the best way to present the idea he'd been considering all day.

Or, if he was really being honest with himself, since the last week of school, when Kurt had refused to take Jesse's apology at face value, and Jesse had begun to step up accordingly.

Aware that the tense silence was stretching on dangerously long and likely petrifying Blaine, Kurt spat it out: "I think I've started to mostly forgive Jesse.

"Not for what he's done to you, or to Rachel," Kurt elaborated quickly, before Blaine could interrupt. "I can't forgive him for that unless you do, and I'd never ask you to-that's your decision to make. And I'm still not happy about the way he treated me. I don't think we'll ever be as close as we used to be, and I can't trust him the way that I did anymore, I know that."

"So why are you, then?" Blaine interjected, sounding almost annoyed at the prospect.

Kurt closed his eyes. "I'm not," he clarified, taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly. "I don't. But staying angry at him hurts me as much as it hurts him," he admitted. "I've spent too much time being angry at everyone for everything-you, my dad, Jesse, myself. It's not doing me any good, holding onto feelings that upset me. And he is trying to make things right. I'm not saying that I'm going to give him a blank slate, but…"

Kurt trailed off, exhaling. "I'm moving forward," he explained. "And I don't need you to like it, but I'm hoping that you can accept that this is something that I need to do for me. I will never, ever let him come between is again, I promise, but I can't keep hating him if I want to move on. It just takes too much energy that I don't have."

Feeling sick to his stomach and picturing the myriad of ways in which Blaine could react to his decision, both good and bad (but mostly bad), Kurt waited.

After several long seconds, Blaine cleared his throat. "You're right," he answered, his voice rougher than usual and tinged with an emotion that Kurt couldn't identify, "I don't like it. But…I trust you. I don't trust him, but I trust you, and if this is what you need to do…"

He paused.

Kurt waited silently.

Finally, Blaine sighed. "I need to think about it some more," he told Kurt resignedly. "Right now, I don't want him near either of us, but I want you to do what makes you happy. And I know that he was there for you when your dad was sick-and I'm so glad that you had someone, Kurt, I really am-but I'm still pissed at him for lying to me about it, and so angry with myself for believing him and letting myself be chased off, and-"

He scoffed bitterly. "Obviously, there's a lot I'm still working through, about Jesse and everything," he pointed out. "Maybe I'll bring it up in Skype Therapy this week; it'd be a nice break from talking about my medications and 'support networks'."

Kurt's stomach continued to twist, the way it did every time he thought about what Blaine had done with his pills, and what the consequences could have been. "You know I won't do anything if you don't want me to," he said quietly, curling back up on his side with his hand on his abdomen. "I meant what I said-I won't let him come between us, and if me forgiving him even a little bit is going to cause problems for us-"

"No, Kurt," Blaine interrupted gently, and Kurt immediately stopped talking in order to listen. "Look, I'm not ready to forgive him. Maybe I'll never be ready, and that's…well, not fine, but it's my issue. But I'm not you, and if letting go and moving on is healthier for you in the long run, you should do it. I want you to be happy, Kurt."

Kurt hurriedly choked down his instinctual response. Because no matter how true 'I'm not happy without you' was at times, it wasn't fair of him to put that on anyone else.

He cleared his throat, willing his mind to clear as well. "When are you coming home?" he asked instead.

On August 19th, Kurt turned his phone on after rehearsal-"You should really work on being less gay, if you can manage it," Dustin had told him disdainfully, unable to find any technical flaws in Kurt's performance to excoriate him for. "It may not be a choice, but Adorable Teen Homo decreases in appeal after the first 90 seconds, and it's less effective when you're dressed in the same costume as everyone else."-to find that he'd missed fifteen calls over the previous three hours.

They were all from the same two people: Alan Patrickson and Desra Mueller.

Heart racing and mouth suddenly dry, Kurt ducked out of the auditorium, redialing the number for the zoo while he walked quickly down the hall, turning into an abandoned alcove in a nearby hallway for privacy-the same alcove where he and Blaine had kind-of-sort-of broken up, he realized with a lurch, as he heard a click on the other end.


Kurt exhaled quickly. "Mr. Patrickson," he answered, smoothing the disheveled hem of his shirt with his free hand. "I'm sorry I missed your calls; I was at rehearsal. Is everything okay?"

Much to Kurt's relief, he could practically hear Mr. Patrickson smiling over the phone. "Everything's fine, Kurt. We were probably a little overzealous in calling you so many times, actually, but we have some good news for you, and we wanted to tell you personally, instead of leaving a message. Is now a good time?"

Kurt's heartbeat picked up even more. "Now's a great time," he said breathlessly, leaning back against the wall, not quite daring to hope. "Are you…is it good news, or really good news?"

Mr. Patrickson laughed softly. "It's really good news, Kurt," he answered. "A $200 check came in today, from the Biology department at Dalton Academy, out in Westerville. We only needed another $190."

Kurt froze. "Does that mean…"

When Kurt trailed off, Mr. Patrickson finished his thought for him. "It does. We're at $11,000, Kurt."

For several moments, Kurt couldn't hear anything over the pounding of his heart. They'd done it. He'd done it. The fundraiser that he'd started had been successful, and Blaine's lion was staying at the zoo.

Limbs suddenly weak, Kurt slid down the wall until he was sitting on the ground, smiling out of sheer joy and relief.

Mr. Patrickson was still talking. "…Lima Gazette later, in time for the paper tomorrow, and a couple of news programs were keeping track of our progress and will want to report on it. We wanted to get ahold of you first, though; we all thought that you deserved to be the first person to find out. And we'd love it if you could come by sometime tomorrow, so that everyone can thank you in person."

Kurt's face was starting to hurt. "Sure," he breathed. "I can do that. I'm sorry, I might be in shock right now; I really am excited."

Mr. Patrickson laughed again. "That's all right," he reassured Kurt. "Get some rest, you've earned it. Congratulations again, Kurt; we'll see you tomorrow."

"Right," Kurt replied, "tomorrow. Thank you for calling."

"Of course," Mr. Patrickson acknowledged, before hanging up.

The first person that Kurt called after getting off of the phone with the zoo was Blaine, leaving him a garbled, excited, likely barely-understandable voice mail when Blaine didn't answer.

The second person that he called was Burt.

"Are you-Kiddo, that's incredible!" his dad shouted enthusiastically over the clanging machines at the garage, showing all of the exuberance that Kurt had been too shell-shocked to show himself when the news had been broken to him. "I knew you were gonna do it, but I'm so proud of you, Buddy. We've gotta celebrate somehow-we'll go out to dinner at that Thai place you like, or I'll call Carole and Finn and we'll have a barbeque, grill up your mom's chicken and kebobs recipe; whatever you want."

Kurt switched the phone to his other ear while Burt shared the good news with the other mechanics, replacing it just in time to hear the round of cheers and whistles. The shop employees, while not particularly effected one way or the other by the fate of a zoo animal, had nonetheless thrown their support behind Kurt, each chipping in $5 or $10 to the cause, as well as indirectly contributing their labor-Burt had allowed Kurt to auction off a handful of gift certificates for free vehicle inspections, including oil changes and tire rotations, to help raise money for the zoo.

He was going to have to bake them some (non-vegan) Thank You cookies.

"I'll be home in an hour or so," Burt promised once he was back on the phone. "We can figure it out then, if you want."

"Dad?" Kurt asked quickly, before Burt could hang up. "I-would it be okay if we grilled kebobs, like you said, but…maybe not invite the Hudsons tonight? It's not that I don't want them here," he rushed to assure Burt, and genuinely meaning it. "You know that I like Carole, and even Finn is starting to grow on me. It's just that…"

He paused. "I guess I've missed spending time with you, just the two of us," he admitted. "I know we do your Tai Chi together, but it's not quite the same, especially since it's something we have to do."

"Buddy," Kurt's dad interrupted gently, "why haven't you been telling me this? I know that things have been kinda hectic lately, and Carole and Finn have been coming over a lot, but I never want you to feel like I don't have time for you. You're my son, and that comes first-everything else can wait."

Kurt swallowed the rapidly-forming lump in his throat. "I…it's not just you," he confessed after a minute. "And it's not just lately. We're both always busy, but I want to spend more time with you; I want us to work harder at that. Is that okay?"

When Burt spoke again, his tone had softened. "My teenage kid actually wants to spend more time with his old man," he pointed out. "What planet would that not be okay on, 'cause I don't want to live there."

Someone in the background shouted something to Burt, and he shouted right back that he'd be over in a second. "Listen, Kiddo, I've got a couple more things to take care of here," he told Kurt. "But we're gonna talk about this some more when I get home, okay? Just you and me."

Kurt nodded. "Okay," he agreed.

"Good," Burt replied. "I'm glad I'm getting you back, Kurt. Even if it's just until your crazy rehearsal schedule starts again in the fall."

Kurt swallowed again. "Me too, Dad. See you at home."

"See you at home," Burt repeated.

Kurt had dinner with Burt that night. He went to the zoo the next day, where he was praised and congratulated and fussed over for a long time, before everyone began making plans for what would happen next. He went to the last rehearsal of the week, tuned everything out as Dakota Stanley criticized an absent Dustin Goolsby for "the lingering stink of thirty-something ignoramus that's contaminating the air in here. You, fat blonde girl-get me a trash can, now!", and danced until he nearly turned an ankle. He showered, brought the giant, glazed fruit tart that he'd whipped together that morning to Hummel Tires & Lube, and passed out plates and accepted multiple claps on the shoulder and ruffles of his hair without once complaining about the traces of motor oil that were being ground into both. Before leaving the shop, he fielded a phone call from an ecstatic Blaine, who had gotten Kurt's message and had promptly freaked out.

When Kurt got home, he went to bed and didn't get up for two days.

"Are you sure you're not getting sick?" Blaine asked with concern over the phone on Sunday, 42 hours into Kurt's self-imposed recovery period. "You sound really tired, Kurt."

Kurt's eyes were closed. "I am really tired," he admitted, "but I'll be fine. There's just been a lot going on lately, and it's been…taxing."

Blaine hummed sympathetically. "Well, get some sleep while you can;" he suggested, "only two more weeks until school starts again. And rehearsals. God, that's going to be weird," he realized, "us singing lead in competing choirs. We won't have to sing against each other this year, will we?"

Kurt burrowed further into his bed, a position that had become painfully familiar since June. "Maybe not," he replied listlessly. "They redraw the districts every year, to keep things fair and competitive."

As happy as he'd been for Blaine, when Blaine had finally confessed that he'd auditioned for-and won-the lead soloist position in the Warblers, the idea of the crushing, vindictive Vocal Adrenaline Machine turning on Blaine, with Kurt at the helm, was a dark one.

"You don't sound too happy," Blaine said gently, almost as if reading Kurt's thoughts. "Are you sure you're okay?"

Kurt sighed. "I'm-yes, I…" The deflection failed midsentence as his half-formed excuse eluded him, and he sighed again. "I'm not, really," he confessed, clutching the phone more tightly, as if the action was enough to bring him closer to Blaine on the other end. "Rehearsals have been hard, lately."

"I thought you liked that, though," Blaine pointed out, sounding slightly confused. "Because they push you to work hard and get better."

Kurt let out a frustrated noise. "I know," he tried to explain, "but with the new instructor, and everyone being gone, it's just…" Kurt bit his lip. "They're not pushing me to improve, anymore. They're just pushing me. And it's directionless, and pointless, and I don't know if-"

He paused.

"You don't know if what?" Blaine prodded gently. "What is it, Kurt?"

Kurt's eyes were starting to burn, and he quickly shut them before they could flood with tears. "I…don't know if I want to do it anymore," he confessed in a small voice.

There was a heavy silence.

"You want to quit show choir?" Blaine asked quietly, almost disbelievingly. "I…wow. I honestly don't know what to say, Kurt."

Kurt shook his head miserably. "I know," he replied. "I think that if Shelby was still here, maybe she'd understand what I'm feeling, now, and things would be different," he said slowly. "But the way things are now-it's not just that Vocal Adrenaline's changed; I've changed too, and I don't know how to change back, or what to do anymore. I still love performing, and show choir and music, but…"

He sighed again, harsher and more helpless than before.

"I want to be the lead singer, and be recognized for my talent, finally, and to work with people that help me grow and improve," he admitted. "I want it so badly, Blaine. But…something about this isn't working, and I don't think it's going to get better when school starts again."

"Do you," Blaine began tentatively, before pausing, then starting again carefully: "Are you thinking about transferring?"

Kurt inhaled. "I…"

He trailed off.

He'd been about to tell Blaine that he hadn't really thought about it; that the idea hadn't really occurred to him until Blaine had mentioned it. In his heart, though, he knew that it was a lie-every time he'd watched the incoming freshmen conform or break during rehearsals; every time he'd obeyed one of Dustin's (sometimes inane) requests, while secretly amending them in order to protect his voice and own best interests; every time he'd thought of his dad, waiting for him at 8:30pm because Kurt hadn't come home yet; every time he'd done his homework at 1:00 in the morning, had thought of Sarita and Kenneth and Shelby's expectations for him, of his own expectations for him; every time, he'd thought of leaving Carmel, if only in an abstract, hypothetical, wordless way.

He'd just been too much of a coward to really stop and think about it. Because if he thought about it, and the reality was too much to live with, Kurt would have to do something about it.

"If you were," Blaine was saying slowly, "you could always come to Dalton. I love it there; maybe you would, too. If you wanted to."

And whether it was the suggestion itself or the earnestness of Blaine's tone, or simply how much he missed Blaine, like an ache that wouldn't go away, Kurt found himself inexplicably on the verge of tears. "Come home," he pleaded softly, hearing the catch in his voice and knowing that, awfully, so had Blaine. "Please, Blaine. Just come home."

Blaine's voice was quiet. "I will," he promised. "Soon. I will, Kurt."

That night, Kurt picked at his dinner with such disinterest that Burt finally put his fork down.

"Start talking, Kiddo," he ordered, when Kurt didn't look up. "And don't try and tell me that nothing's wrong, because something's up with you right now and we both know it. Are you in trouble? Does some other wild animal need gourmet exotic kibble, or something? What is it, Buddy?"

The old Kurt would have reacted to Burt's prodding with annoyance, or by reinforcing the emotional wall he put up between himself and everyone else when he was upset. Instead, he mirrored Burt, putting his fork down on the table.

A vague, detached part of his brain raised a little, neural eyebrow, wondering What is happening to me? Kurt ignored it, steeling himself.

"Dad," he said instead, "I need to talk to you about something."


At 10:16am on August 23rd, Blaine Anderson woke up in his own bed for the first time in over two months.

The drive back to Ohio with his parents the day before had been arduous and boring, made even more so by the heavy weekend traffic and Blaine's increasing desire to just be home already, tired of the endless stretch of road and trees and rest stops and ready to see his Dalton friends, and his lions, and his room.

And Kurt. Especially and Kurt.

Blaine had been cagey about telling Kurt the exact date of his return, first out of necessity-his mother hadn't figured out which day she could most easily take off of work in order to come get him until the previous weekend-and then out of wanting to surprise Kurt, to see the look on his face when he answered the door and saw Blaine standing on his front porch.

Unfortunately, Blaine's plan would have to wait a few hours, since Kurt had mentioned that he was working in the shop until 3:00. "And then a desperately needed shower, followed by a no-less-desperately needed shopping trip," he'd told Blaine, his voice slow and warm in Blaine's ear, not yet haggard from their serious conversation about Kurt's Vocal Adrenaline-related reservations. "That growth spurt I've been begging the universe for for ages is finally happening-I've grown almost two inches since June, and it's either buy new clothes or tailor every single thing that I own."

Blaine was planning on being on the Hummel's' front steps when Kurt got home that afternoon. In the meantime, however, there was someone else he desperately needed to visit.

Nearly every time he'd visited the zoo in the past, Blaine had had the lion exhibit to himself. Clearly, however, the fundraiser that Kurt and his mother had told him about had changed things-clusters of people were gathered around the sections of the fence that were closest to the lions, who themselves were sprawled out in various spots around the enclosure.

Blaine wasn't sure he liked the change. Still, it was better to have the extra visitors, some of whom had surely donated their time or money to keep Rafiki at the zoo, than to lose one of his lions altogether.

Besides, he noted with a smile, only two of the cubs are out here, anyway.

The indoor section of the exhibit was cooler and darker-and, as Blaine had guessed, emptier. The third cub was inside as well, chewing on the fur near her right front paw, and Blaine hastened over to the fence to get a better look at her, eager to see if she'd grown at all over his many weeks away.

Only to stop when he noticed the newly-added sign, hanging on the opposite wall:

The Lima Park Zoo is proud to announce the upcoming expansion of our African Lion Exhibit, the large printed sign read. We would like to extend our sincerest gratitude to everyone who devoted their time and energies to making our continued growth a reality, and hope to proudly serve the Lima community for many years to come.

A list of names and organizations followed, and Blaine scanned them, absently at first. Many of the names were familiar or expected, such as a chapter of the ACLU, a group called Friends of the Zoo, and the Lima Gazette. Others, however, jumped out at Blaine, unnerving him-the St. James Family, McKinley High School's New Directions, Dalton Academy, Vocal Adrenaline, the Warblers. Blaine's eyes widened in shock when he noticed that his own parents, Mr. and Mrs. James Anderson, had apparently donated enough money to make the relatively short list. It was as if everyone he'd known since leaving Aquinas had gotten involved, somehow.

Incredulous, Blaine continued to skim the list, his hand shaking as it traced down the column of names, until he reached the last line of text on the sign:

And finally, it read, we at the Lima Park Zoo would like to thank Friends of Blaine, without whom none of this would have been possible.

Blaine found himself walking into the single-story building that housed the zoo offices in a daze, not entirely certain how he'd gotten there from the lion enclosure.

At the reception desk across from the double doors, a harassed-looking woman with two blonde braids was digging through a mountain of paperwork. She barely glanced up at Blaine as he stood there. "Public restrooms are on the other side of the building," she told him, dropping a sheaf of files onto her abandoned chair and resuming her paper shuffling. "Outside and to the right."

Blaine blinked, surprised. "Oh, um, no thank you," he stammered, still numb. "I'm here to see the zoo director."

The woman looked up, then peered closer at Blaine as if really seeing him for the first time. "You're shaking," she pointed out, hurrying around from the other side of the desk and grabbing an extra chair from the side wall. Plunking it down on the floor next to Blaine, she steered him into it with all the authority and precision of a seasoned nurse. "Is it an emergency?" she wanted to know. "Do we need an ambulance? Animal control?"

Blaine shook his head quickly, a bead of sweat dripping down his hairline. "No, no, nothing like-it's not an emergency," he assured the woman, who let out a sigh of relief and sat down hard on the desk. "It's just really important that I speak to him as soon as possible."

The woman looked skeptical. "I think it's more important that you lie down as soon as possible," she disagreed, looking his sweaty, ashen face over with disapproval. "You look sick. But if you can wait another fifteen minutes, Carolyn will be back and she can schedule you an appointment-she's the real secretary. She's been gone on an errand for nearly an hour and I'm supposed to be fielding all of the calls from the media about the lion fundraiser, which would be a lot easier if I could find anything on her desk."

The last part of the woman's explanation was surly and resentful, but was delivered toward Carolyn's apparently impossibly messy desk rather than Blaine. "Maybe you can help me, then," he tried, looking at her hopefully. "I had a few questions about one of the groups on the list of donors. The Friends of Blaine?"

The woman shook her head. "You and every amateur blogger within 100 miles," she told Blaine frankly. "I'll tell you what I've been telling them-the original organizer of the fundraiser has requested anonymity, but has worked closely with us in order to ensure compliancy with all state and federal regulations overseeing fundraising efforts. And he has," she added, looking satisfied. "I'm the zoo's financial manager, and you don't even want to know how much time I've spent looking over all the numbers with him."

Him. Blaine was suddenly 90% sure who that him was; who had gotten the Warblers, Vocal Adrenaline, even his parents involved; who had started a group that bore his name in order to save the lion he loved from having to move to another zoo where Blaine would never see him again.

But he had to be sure. "I know you said-I know it's supposed to be a secret," Blaine managed to press. "But if you could just get me in to see the zoo director, please, I think he might make an exception for me."

He took a deep breath.

"My name is Blaine Anderson."

fanfiction, warbling on, writing, klaine, santana will cut you, lungs + vocabulary, finn, glee, rad bromance, "jesse st james jesse st sucks", not on kurt hummel's bucket list, oh blainers

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