misqueue: grey titmouse(?) sitting amongst blossoms (glee - blaine & kurt share a smile on st)
misqueue ([personal profile] misqueue) wrote2013-12-14 05:38 pm

[Fic] Youth Beloved in Vain (klaine advent prompt #5 Echo)

Youth Beloved in Vain

Kurt/Blaine, background Kurt & Rachel friendship | T | Drama | melancholy introspection, angst, depressed mood | Set over episode 4x05 “The Role You Were Born to Play” | Title from a verse translation of Ovid’s “Echo and Narcissus” in Metamorphoses. | While living off Ambien and The Notebook, Kurt feels like a stranger in his own skin.| ~1,300 words

(this is another not happy one)

October 2012

Kurt looks into the mirror in the mornings. It's the first thing he does most days, a long habit born of seeking the reassurance of his own image: it reflects his identity, his truth, and his pride. It shows him the evidence of how he cares for himself and how he knows himself. He looks into the mirror, and he sees Kurt Hummel looking back. This is how he starts the day.

Today, when he looks, he sees a stranger. It's like his internal image of himself, the thing against which he matches the person in the mirror, is gone—irretrievable from memory. He sits on the edge of his bed and stares at the young man in the mirror. He's familiar enough, but he doesn't feel like him.

On the refrigerator, the calendar tells Kurt, it's been a week since Blaine showed up at the door with two dozen red roses; each day since is crossed off with a red line. Seven identical days. He wore the same jacket three times.

Rachel puts two bagels in the toaster while Kurt makes the coffee. She sings scales while he goes through his phone, reading and then deleting every guilt-ridden apologetic text from Blaine, every message professing renewed devotion. He clears his missed call notifications, and doesn't listen to his voicemail.


The face looking back at him in the bathroom mirror, toothbrush jammed into its cheek, spiky wet hair, pink flush from the heat of the shower doesn't seem any more like him. Kurt takes the same time and care with his skin and his hair anyway. Dressing is the same meticulous procedure it always is, but each item of clothing feels like an accessory belonging to a doll, not part of him or anything he owns. He still makes sure every line is perfect, every button and buckle precisely fastened, but all day Kurt feels disconnected.

Maybe it's the Ambien. He Googles for side-effects while he's at work, but he doesn't know what to call this. Is he having hallucinations? He doesn't think that's it.

Kurt still wears black; his cufflinks today are silver bird skulls. He fetches coffee and file folders, he attends meetings and listens, he answers the phones, he stays late putting in all his extra energy because this is his future. He gets home close to midnight. Sees his reflection in the mirror by the door as he unwinds his scarf and unbuttons his coat. The boy in the mirror's skin is milk pale from the cold wind, his blue eyes glassy-bright, and his lips rose-petal red. His expression is smoothed into an aloof stoicism. He looks pretty—girlish and delicate—and Kurt wonders if that's all others see, a neatly painted, hollowed out figurine of a person.

Rachel makes him eat: canned soup and toast. Afterward, he takes a pint of ice cream to the living room, she curls up beside him with a pillow to share between them, and asks him gently, "Again?" when he presses play on The Notebook. It's been in the Blu-ray player for the past five days.

He says, "Yes." Keeps hoping he'll find some insight or a solution in the film. Some way to map its story to his own. But they don't fit. There's no hope in the sentimentality of the fiction. He wonders if that's all his own love was after all: fiction. Maybe love is a story we tell ourselves because we've grown up watching love stories. Maybe it isn't real. Maybe whatever he thought he had with Blaine truly was something he made up in his head, from the start right through until the end.

In the film, Noah writes to Allie, "I'm not bitter anymore, because I know that what we had was real." And if Noah is right, then the bitterness curdling Kurt's heart proves it: it wasn't real with Blaine. He has no fire in his heart, no peace in his mind any longer, and without them, he's not even sure if he is himself real. He defines himself through his passions, but nothing has moved him this week.

Rachel pulls the afghan over her legs and dozes against Kurt's shoulder.


The next morning, Kurt again sits on the edge of his bed and looks in the mirror, same as always. But this morning, he looks harder: both more critically and more objectively. At least he tries. He wonders who it was that Blaine saw when they were together.

He read that infidelity may be a symptom of a person not having their emotional needs met. He studies himself and tries to discern what it is he lacks that Blaine needed. What was it that Blaine couldn't ask him for? What did he believe Kurt couldn't—or wouldn't—give him if he did? Was it truly just the distance?

Over their bagels and coffee he asks Rachel her opinion, but she tells him it wasn't his fault and he shouldn't blame himself. He should keep his eyes forward and keep moving onward, like she is. Then she asks him if he'll help her prepare for her audition in The Glass Menagerie. He's grateful for her offering him both a distraction and a break from his routine.


Late that evening he stares into the mirror long enough and hard enough, his sense of himself inverts. It's like watching clouds until it feels like they're stationary and you're the one moving. He blinks, and suddenly, he's the reflection. It must be the real Kurt Hummel looking at him from the other side, and that's why he doesn't feel right any longer. He's just a shade in the mirror, a puppet going through the motions of another boy's life.

He doesn't take Ambien that night. His head clears and he can't sleep. But he thinks, and he wonders. All the time he's spent looking at Blaine, did he ever truly see him? Maybe he missed something important. Maybe what he saw in Blaine wasn't actually Blaine but an echo of Kurt's own desires, as if Blaine were some kind of mirror, reflecting back all the things Kurt's heart projected into him.

An urgent need overtakes him, to see Blaine again. Kurt pulls the album and the photo frames from the bottom of his drawer. Sits on the thin rug by his bed and shuffles through them, looking for Blaine, trying to understand what it is that he's missed. But photographs aren't enough, memories aren't enough. With a sigh, Kurt stills his hands.

Would it matter anyway, if he understood why Blaine did it? His understanding wouldn't magically unravel the hurt or the betrayal. Would knowledge aid forgiveness? Or would it just make it harder for him to let go?

Kurt packs the photographs back into the drawer. Rachel may be right. He just needs to keep his chin up and his eyes forward, needs to stop worrying at the past and push forward into his future, and eventually, he'll feel like he's living again, and Blaine will be an old, sad memory instead of a trap around his heart. It's the adult thing to do, to let go and move on.

And he needs to stop staring into the mirror, trying to force a recognition and understanding that may never come. He must accept that he's not the same boy he was, and he never will be again. This is the man he's becoming.

The problem is, he doesn't want to stop. He doesn't want to let go or give up or give in—not yet. So he'll wait for an opportunity to see Blaine again, and then, maybe, he'll know which side of the mirror he's on, whether he has a choice or whether all he can do is surrender.

On to Day 6: Falter »

[identity profile] wowbright.livejournal.com 2014-08-29 05:31 am (UTC)(link)
This is really brilliant, especially the cloud metaphor. But really all of it. Stunning.