The pack on Blaine’s shoulders grew heavier as they walked through the airport, his grip sweaty on both Kurt and Lori’s hands. They were silent as they walked, Lori’s feet dragging, the usual bounce in her step absent.
Blaine’s heart was even heavier in his chest, trying his best not to cry as the moment he’d been halfway dreading grew nearer. Soon, they had reached the point where his husband and daughter couldn’t follow him.
Blaine wanted to never let go of their hands.
But he must. He let go of their hands slowly, taking his pack off and setting it down. He turned to look at Kurt, his arms crossed across his chest, already closing himself off, which hurt more than anything.
Blaine turned to look at Lori, her lower lip already trembling. “Oh sweetie,” said Blaine - the first words spoken since they had gotten in the car this morning to drive him to the airport.
His daughter had inherited his height, and though she was 8 years old, she was so tiny. He sank to his knee, becoming eye level with the small girl. “Come here,” he said, opening up his arms.
Lori didn’t need any prompting - she fell into him, wrapping her arms around Blaine’s neck and pressing her face into his shoulders. Blaine brought his arms around her waist, wrinkling her dress but knowing that at a time like this, Kurt wouldn’t bring himself to scold him or her.
"I love you, pumpkin," said Blaine with a thick voice. "You know that, right?"
"Yes," Lori said with a small tone. "I love you too, papa."
"This is only for a little while," said Blaine, Lori pulling back a bit, but Blaine kept his arms around her waist. "Because I promise you with all my heart that I’ll be back - back to see you and daddy’s beautiful faces again." Blaine looked pass Lori’s face and up at Kurt. He seemed to be wrapping his arms around himself, hugging his middle.
Blaine kissed Lori’s forehead, smoothing back the mass of curly hair that lay there. He stood up swiftly, turning now to Kurt. Kurt’s eyes were already sparkling, as they did when he was trying to hold back his tears.
Without pretense, Blaine took a step toward Kurt, pulling him into an embrace. Kurt’s arms wrapped around him tightly, not wanting to let him go.
Neither did Blaine.
"I love you so much," said Blaine.
"I love you," choked out Kurt. "I don’t want you to - to -"
"I won’t," promised Blaine. "I promise."
"I’m not 8 years old," said Kurt in a low voice. "You and I both know you can’t promise that. I don’t want…I don’t want Lori to lose one of her parents this young."
“Like me,” rang unsaid in the air between them.
Blaine let out a breath, pulling back from the hug to see Kurt’s face. He brought up a thumb to wipe away the few tears that had broken free. “I can promise you this. I’ll always come back for you.”
Kurt leaned in, kissing Blaine with so much love that if he wasn’t being held, he would have fallen. It was as intense as their last night together had been, leaving Blaine breathless.
"You better," said Kurt after the kiss, putting up a shaky front.
Blaine kissed Kurt’s forehead as well. “I will.”
They separated, Blaine reaching up to fix his hat. Kurt reached up and fixed the collar of his uniform, a bitter smile on his face. Blaine knew what he was thinking about without a work. Blaine reached forward, taking Kurt’s hand and kissing his fingers.
"Be good for daddy," said Blaine, looking down at Lori. She nodded.
Blaine picked up his bag, giving his family one last hug before turning and walking to the terminal. There were a sea of other uniformed men and women around him, having tearful goodbyes with their own families. Some had just a wife or girlfriend, clinging together. Others had one, two, and even three children huddled around their legs.
Others, like Kurt and Blaine, were their with another husband.
Before he had walked a few steps, Blaine turned back. Kurt taken hold of Lori’s hand. Blaine raised his hand waving weakly to his family - they waved back sadly.
Finally, Blaine forced himself to look ahead.
Don’t ever look back, he told himself.
He’d be back.