Kurt had never been into tales of the supernatural. Too many monsters had lurked in the corners of his real life to be worried about anything hiding under his bed. Werewolves were only appealing if they had Tyler Hoechlin’s abs. Vampires were disgusting, no matter how much glitter or smooth British charm was poured over them to disguise their blood-sucking nature. And zombies? Phhhft, bitch please. He had once survived six months of Sue Sylvester’s 4am mandatory daily Cheerios practices. The undead held no fear.
But ghosts … well there just might be something to that one.
For years after she died, he used to smell his mother’s perfume at random times. Usually in odd places, like coffee shops, gym classes, or the McKinley dumpster. Places where no such pleasant odor had any right to exist. He could not believe in an all-powerful God who watched and controlled the lives of everyone on earth, and just randomly chose people to suffer and die. Nor did he believe in a Heaven full of random rewards for good behavior, and fluffy-winged angels deciding just who would or would not be allowed inside their exclusive cloudy country-club.
However, Kurt was a practical person and he could be persuaded to think that just maybe there was something beyond a mortal existence. It was pleasant to believe that his mom might be looking in on him from time to time, or that one day after he had passed himself, he just might be able to see his own loved ones and offer them a little comfort.
Still, with all that, it had come as something of a shock to realize that his own Bushwick loft was haunted.
It started a week after Blaine moved in. His things started vanishing, only to appear in unexpected locations later on.
Blaine had blamed Kurt, accusing him of being childish and ‘messing with him’. (Apparently Cooper Anderson had been fond of putting things on high shelves whenever he felt that payback for some brotherly annoyance was in order.) Kurt had blamed Sam. A year of living with him in Ohio had clued Kurt in to a tendency toward light kleptomania. Sam didn’t mean any harm, he just couldn’t resist picking up random objects and playing with them, then tucking them in a pocket and wandering off, only to set them down later in some random spot. But Sam staunchly denied responsibility, Cooper was far away in California, and most of the thefts happened while Kurt was at work or school, so there had to be another explanation.
Blaine’s bow-ties began vanishing on a daily basis, then showing up in the refrigerator, the toilet tank, or tied to the balcony railings outside. On one memorable occasion, they had looked up and found a collection of ties strapped to each blade of the ceiling fan Blaine had insisted on having installed. Then the fan switched on high all by itself pelting the bow-ties at Blaine’s head like a frighteningly well-aimed sling shot. Not one of them came near Kurt.
After a few days of this invisible harassment, Blaine became like a hunted animal. He bought sage, incense, crosses, and even a Ouija board. (The latter staunchly ignored every attempt he made to move the indicator.) Soon Blaine stopped wearing ties altogether, locking his entire collection in a footlocker and hiding it downstairs in the basement storage unit, but the ghost just moved on to pulling loose threads in his ugly sweaters and messing with his hair gel. Raspberry-scented goo was found in place of Blaine’s shower-gel, shaving cream, and during one particularly memorable dinner, his ketchup bottle.
Neither Sam’s things nor Kurt’s were ever touched.
Apparently enjoying the jumpiness these tricks had caused, the ghost moved to banging on to the water pipes and changing the temperature at random. Building maintenance came by but could find no explanation for the reason that Kurt got a piping-hot shower every single time, while Blaine could not get one that was anything other than ice-cold. When he tried to get around this by talking Kurt into a romantic shower for two, the water shut off entirely, only to have the fire-sprinklers come on instead, killing any hint of an amorous mood. Oddly enough, the dress designs Kurt had left sitting on the dining room table that day remained completely dry, while Blaine’s new books of sheet music was soaked past all salvaging.
Sam found the entire situation hilarious, which earned him no points with his “bro”, and Kurt simply did his best to try and persuade Blaine that the pranks were harmless. A poltergeist that floated about the building, maybe, and had just taken a shine to him.
This explanation had earned Kurt a night on the couch, where he caught up on his saved TV programs and then slept better than he had in months. Blaine, on the other hand, had spent the entire night rolling around trying to avoid the cronut crumbs that he claimed had invaded his bed. When Kurt went to change the sheets the next day, there was not a single bit of evidence remaining.
This went on for weeks. Blaine avoided the apartment whenever he could. He walked the halls of NYADA with wild eyes and even wilder hair, since he was convinced that the ghost would sneak depilatory wax into his hair gel if he dared to use it. He could not pay attention in class, and he was soon dropped from all of the advanced classes he had talked his way into taking with Kurt, once the staff discovered that he was not keeping up in any of them. This had also earned him a stern and condescending lecture from the Dean of Performance about building up the proper foundation work before trying to compete with more advanced students.
Kurt did his best to soothe the growing paranoia, but there was little he could do when Blaine started yelping and jumping from invisible pinches and pokes. Once he even complained that he had been kicked in the ass by an invisible foot.
It was clear that something had to be done, but before Kurt could talk to the building manager about finding a different space, Blaine took matters into his own hands. Sam had been invited to move in with Mercedes, and Blaine immediately picked a fight with Kurt and used it as an excuse to invite himself to move in with the other couple.
For the first few days, Kurt was sad and unhappy. Then he began to notice a pleasant lightness to the previously heavy atmosphere inside his apartment. He began finding unexpected stashes of money in his couch cushions, sock drawers, and pantry cupboard, counting up exactly enough to cover the missing portion of the rent.
The scent of Old Spice Sport body wash started catching his nostrils at odd moments. A roasting pan he had intended to fish down from the top cabinet with a step-ladder was suddenly waiting for him in the dish drainer. An old voting slip from the McKinley 2012 student body president election showed up in his Advanced Costuming notebook with a bold red sharpie check-mark next to Kurt’s name.
It was no longer difficult to put a name to this ghostly visitor. Particularly when Kurt’s stress-baking efforts started disappearing as fast as he could make them.
“Hey, Finn,” he said softly, smiling at an empty pan of chocolate brownies. “I’ve really missed you.”
As the days passed, Kurt and Blaine spoke to one another less and less often. The ghostly harassment had apparently stopped, but the fact that it had gone on so long in the first place had Kurt wondering if his frequent, stubbornly-suppressed doubts about this relationship might not be as ridiculous as Blaine liked to claim.
Certainly, his fiance was in no hurry to come back to the apartment. He always seemed to be too busy to talk these days, unless he needed Kurt to bring him something he had left behind. Their meetings at school were rare now that they no longer shared classes, and even date nights were suddenly stilted and uncomfortable. With the sense of competition that Blaine seemed to thrive on removed, and neither of them clinging especially hard to the old days, they began to discover that they had distressingly little in common.
“Should I take this as a sign?” Kurt mumbled one evening as he came home from a date that Blaine had called for a rain-check on, after Kurt had already arrived at the restaurant, stating that he was super busy with homework and just couldn’t get away.
It was not the first time. Their sex life had become a fleeting memory thanks to all of Blaine’s study-dates and homework. Kurt could not remember having nearly that much after-hours study when he was a freshman.
As if in answer to his question, Kurt’s computer screen suddenly flashed on, displaying a website he had certainly not left there. It was some kind of gay porn site called “Frat Boi Physicals”. As he reached to turn it off, disgusted with the overt images on display, he stopped. Blaine’s standard log-in name was displayed in one corner. And the account was active.
Kurt watched in horrified fascination as a live-chat feature went up, and his loving, oh-so-innocent, oh-so-busy-studying, fiance proceeded to carry on an absolutely filthy conversation with some stranger whose chat icon was actually a photo of their (or someone’s) erect dick.
Kurt shut the browser down quickly, feeling sick to his stomach. No wonder Blaine hadn’t found time to see him lately.
But while the feelings of disgust and betrayal remained with him, the pain, surprisingly, did not. He had tried his best. He had given Blaine chance after chance to live up to his promises, to be faithful, to prove that loving Kurt was enough for him. It was time to face the facts. Some people just did not have it in them to be in monogamous relationships, and it was better that he know now than to find out after they were married.
Running into his bedroom, Kurt dug through his desk until he found a small padded envelope and enough postage for one cheap gold engagement ring. Working it off his finger, he tossed it inside, then ripped off a sheet of paper from his notepad and wrote, Enjoy “studying” with your Fratboi’s and Facebook Ho’s. Don’t call me again. He did not even sign it. What was the point? Addressing the package to Blaine, care of Sam Evans, he marched it out to the mail slot and tossed it in before he could change his mind.
A sensation of relief swept over Kurt as he re-entered his apartment. He felt at ease suddenly. It was finally over.
A hint of warmth caressed his back, reminding him of those rare occasions when his brother had rubbed a large affectionate hand across his shoulders while they talked. There was a hint of cinnamon in the air and when Kurt turned toward the kitchen, somehow he was not surprised to find a mug of milk waiting in front of the microwave.
“Lady chats, huh?” he said with a laugh, obediently warming the beverage. “I don’t know if I need one. I kind of feel like I’ve reached the last page of a book where I’d guessed the ending fifteen chapters ago. Maybe I’ve been reading the wrong story all along. I thought I was buying a romance novel, but it turned out to be a mystery/horror instead. I think I need to try a different book.”
A rustle of paper caught his attention. Kurt’s poster of the Adam’s Apples had come unpinned from the bulletin board by the front door. Assuming a draft, he walked over and pinned it back in place. Just as he got it tacked up securely, the matching poster in the kitchen fell down.
Paying more attention this time, Kurt picked up the sheet and turned it around. This was the poster that Adam Crawford had given him when he first introduced Kurt to his singing group. Kurt had never before realized that Adam had jotted his phone number down on the back.
“You sure it’s not too late for that?” he asked the empty air.
A small thump was his reply. Enjoying this odd game of connect the dots, Kurt followed the sound to his bedroom. A bound script lay on the floor in front of his bookcase. Kurt knew exactly what it was. A few weeks after they had gone to see the film on their first date as a steady couple, Adam had found Kurt a copy of the original script for “Casablanca”.
“Our movie,” Kurt said softly. “A tale of love lost, and love found, mistakes, sacrifices, and ultimate redemption.”
He hugged the bound pages gently. During his all too brief lifetime, Finn Hudson had never been very good at reading people, much less assigning romantic allegories to real-life situations. But as a ghost, he hadn’t steered Kurt wrong yet.
“Maybe some day. But right now, I think maybe it's time I stopped worrying so much about being anyone's boyfriend and tried just being Kurt Hummel for a while. I've kind of forgotten who that is lately, but I'd like to take some time to be on my own and and get to know myself again. What do you think?”
There were no more noises or things moving, but a feeling of warm approval suddenly filled him, reminding him of the long missed sensation of being enveloped within his brother's ridiculously long arms. Tipping his fingers in a jaunty salute and staring about a foot above his head, right where he would have looked to meet those merry brown eyes, Kurt smiled and said, “Here’s looking at you, Finn.”