|That Bit in the Middle
Author: Mytay PM
Summer brings restlessness/depression to Kurt, who believes the new friendships forged by Glee are now over. When he goes off alone to think – without telling anyone – his absence sets off alarm bells. Everyone reunites and summer finally, truly begins.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Friendship/Hurt/Comfort - Kurt H. & Mercedes J. - Chapters: 5 - Words: 21,600 - Reviews: 66 - Favs: 127 - Follows: 56 - Updated: 07-26-10 - Published: 07-13-10 - Status: Complete - id: 6140195
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
That Bit in the Middle
Rating: K+ (or PG, I suppose)
Summary: Summer brings restlessness and depression to Kurt, who believes the new friendships forged by Glee are now over. When he goes out for a random bit of soul-searching – without telling anyone, and without his phone – he works things out for himself, and his absence works things out with the gleeks.
Disclaimer: I do not own, nor claim to own, anything Glee related.
Note: Some light Glee-club bonding for the summer months – and hopefully something we will see more of in the coming season. *crosses fingers*
"Life only really has one beginning and one end, and the rest is just a whole lot of middle." - Will Schuester, Journey
Kurt had no idea, no expectations, as to what would happen once Regionals were over and school was out for the summer. He hadn't thought that far ahead and he didn't think anyone else had either. It was like they were living in a state of perpetual tension and teen drama – Regionals always around the corner, but never coming. Quinn forever bloated, never giving birth.
But then it was like they hit a no-speed limit highway: Jesse came and went, and egged Rachel, and screwed them over, and the Cheerios won nationals and on and on.
Regionals was over, baby Beth was out in the world and adopted, summer holidays were past started, and Kurt, quite suddenly, had no clue as to what to do with himself.
Well, that was a lie. There were plenty of summer activities (lounging by the pool, spontaneous trips to the mall at all hours of the day, late night movie and TV show marathons . . . and further indulging his new hobby of twirling sai swords in his basement) to be explored. It was what he'd spent last summer doing, while helping out at the garage on alternating days. That and designing a whole new line of clothes for the pale and petit, as well as the dark and bootilicious set, which he mailed to design schools and companies.
The replies he received in return were always interesting . . . usually along the lines of, 'Thank you, but we're not interested as of now,' which Kurt always interpreted as, 'Hmm, were you not in a high school in a random nowhere town, we might be interested – find us after you graduate.' He was totally in. Between Broadway and fashion design, he was going to be a household name by the age of twenty-five.
However, future plans aside, he was feeling rather . . . unenthusiastic about the whole summer thing because he felt there should be more.
But he wasn't holding out too much hope that that more would involve the tenuous new friendships developed this past year. Mostly because Kurt was skeptical of all things, and even being on the Cheerios hadn't cured him of an innate cynicism for the world at large. If anything, Sue Sylvester had cultivated it and sharpened it into a weapon.
He wished that he could just pick up the phone and call Brittany or even Santana, and say to meet him at the corner pharmacy to head out for a movie, or for a non-fat frappuccino . . . but he knew that that was very likely not to happen. He wanted to head over and have a Molly Ringwald movie marathon with Mercedes and Quinn, like they did the first weekend after the former head cheerleader had moved in . . . but obviously that situation had changed. He craved to just hang out in some random location with everyone and jam like they did before rehearsals and practises, but didn't indulge in too much longing for that either.
He was missing school, for whatever insane reason, and it was only a week out. He was missing Glee about a hundred times more. And he was missing his fellow gleeks . . . a highly embarrassing amount. He was in a funk (and after 'funk' week he had sworn to never use the word again, which only proved how thoroughly depressed he was). He'd been going on walks and drives, and even jogging (his least favourite form of exercise), just to eat up time, and really, it was so unlike him that it was making him even more lethargic and unhappy. Gah, when did he get so unbelievably emo?
"Hey, Kurt –"
"Geez!" Kurt jumped high enough off his bed to very nearly go crashing into the floor.
"Sorry!" Finn apologized as he clomped down the stairs, "I just wanted to tell you I'm heading out with the guys to shoot some hoops and –"
"Yes, I know," Kurt settled himself into a sitting position, leaning back and crossing his legs, "And I so appreciate this unnecessary update, especially considering that this is what you have been doing everyday for the past week after work."
Finn had kept his job at Sheets N' Things for the summer, working short morning shifts, until no later than two in the afternoon. Which was why Kurt wasn't expecting anyone to be home – it was only just past noon. He watched moodily as Finn stuffed his smock in the hamper and grabbed a water bottle out of Kurt's mini-fridge.
"Yeah, sorry," Finn said with a dopey grin, completely missing the biting sarcasm, "But this time Rachel is coming to watch, and I was wondering if you wanted to come too."
It was a good thing Kurt was pretty much over Finn, because this particular invitation might have stung otherwise. But after some soul searching, and some truth-telling, things were finally more or less good between the two of them, and he could honestly count Finn as a friend. There was still a little residual warmth whenever Finn smiled his way . . . but as it was, Kurt couldn't bring himself to feel much over it this time. He shook his head, "No, I was planning on calling Mercedes, maybe heading over to the mall for the day. You run along and have fun now."
Finn did just that with a happy wave good-bye and Kurt sighed. With the exception of Finn hanging out with Rachel, things had pretty much slipped into their pre-Glee state and that left Kurt feeling rather . . . dejected. And bored. And useless.
He got up and grabbed his keys. He decided he needed one more drive – maybe far away – but this time, instead of wallowing in the silence of his own head, he'd blast some show tunes and force himself out of this emotional rut. He had two whole months of summer to enjoy and he was not going to allow this stupid funk to ruin that.
In his rush to thwart his bad mood, he realized, once behind the wheel of his SUV and well on his way, he had left behind his phone. He briefly thought about going back, but concluded that no one would miss him for a couple of hours.
Mercedes had been expecting Kurt to call her, and when he didn't . . . it bothered her. For the past week, Kurt had been acting less than his usual adorably haughty self, and man, did it make for some depressing shopping trips – which, like, was a total contradiction of terms, because a shopping Kurt was a happy Kurt – but even more worrying was that he'd bowed out from those same shopping trips at least twice, saying he was going for a jog or a walk, or whatever, which, exercising over accessorizing? So not like her favourite fashionista.
She sent him a quick text and waited for about ten minutes, after which, when there was no reply, she called.
It rang, and rang, and rang.
Now, there really was no reason to be freaked out. Her boy wasn't the type to do anything reckless or stupid. And he had no seriously dangerous habits, because anything that could mess with his lily-white complexion was a no-no. So, why the hell would Mercedes be worried? At worst, Kurt was sitting in his room, moping about like he had been for the past week, his phone on silent, so he could be tragically alone without interruption.
Which was why she was currently dialling Finn Hudson's number. She took a second to marvel, not for the first time, at the names on her contact list. Half of them were jocks and cheerleaders – including her favourite boy – who the hell would've thought? Then she contemplated the many ways she was going to kick Kurt's ass if he was bitching and moaning to himself in his basement pad while his best friend waited . . . not worried . . . for his phone call. And it would be a shame, because while Mercedes was over her brief, albeit intense, crush on the boy, even she could admit his ass cut a fine figure in the tight jeans he liked to wear.
"Hello?" came not the voice of Finn, but of his new petite girlfriend.
"Mercedes! Hello! It has been too long!"
"It's been three days. I saw you at the supermarket on the weekend."
"But we haven't sung together in over two weeks and that is how I measure the –"
"Uh huh, I guess I miss ya too, Berrylicious Diva," and she smiled, because, yeah, she kinda did miss the loud mouth, "But listen, are you over at Finn and Kurt's place?"
"No, I'm watching Finn, Noah, Matt and Mike play basketball at the park."
"Kurt ain't there, is he?"
"Finn mentioned inviting him, but he said Kurt was going out with you. Why? What's going on?"
Mercedes sighed as Rachel's voice got faster and higher pitched, "Nothin' to worry your Barbara Streisand-loving head about, just lemme –"
"But you're worried, or else why would you call?"
"I'm not, just wondering why my boy isn't answering his phone and –"
"Kurt's not answering his phone? Have you tried calling the house line? Oh my God, this is like the beginning of those cop dramas, when no one's seen the person for days, and then, the next thing you know, the detectives are ducking under crime scene tape and –"
Mercedes snapped, "Rachel, shut up!" Okay, now she was . . . maybe a little worried. She reached for her cordless, dialling Kurt's house by memory, and waited, each ring setting her heart pounding faster.
"Guys, guys!" She could hear Rachel calling to the boys, and she opened her mouth to tell her to shut up again but . . . no one was answering the house line. And her baby had been acting so damn weird these past few days, and oh God, Rachel was right, this was totally how every episode of Law and Order began . . .
"Guys, we have to go! Kurt's missing!"
Well, that was bit too early to call, but before Mercedes knew it, she heard the sounds of a phone being fumbled with, and Finn's voice coming down the line, concerned, but not nearly as frantic as Rachel, "Uh, what do you mean Kurt's missing?"
Mercedes hung up the phone that had been ringing endlessly at Kurt's house, and replied tensely, "Listen, Finn, it's not a big deal – Kurt and I were supposed to go out and do something today, but –"
"He's been kinda down lately, but I figured that had to with his Dad working overtime at the garage. Maybe he's going through something –"
"Or maybe he's just being an idiot and not turning his phone on," Mercedes said, exasperated with both herself and the crazies on the phone who seemed determined to turn this into some huge drama.
"Maybe I should head home –"
She could hear Rachel agreeing enthusiastically in the background, some low grumbling that could've been the other guys, and now Mike was on the line, "Hey Mercedes, Matt and I are gonna check out the school, see if maybe he broke into the auditorium to get his glee on or something, and Finn says he's going to head home. You just keep trying to call him, okay?"
The phone was handed back to Finn before Mercedes could say anything, "Thanks for the heads up, Mercedes – Puck's going to call the other Glee people, see if they've heard from Kurt. Text us if you find him."
And he hung up.
Mercedes stared at the phone. It had been less than ten minutes since she'd called Kurt and now she was in the middle of an eleven person search and rescue squad, for someone who may not even need rescuing, and had only been out of contact with the outside world for about an hour, tops.
She sighed, sending Kurt a semi-apologetic (but also frustrated) text, explaining the situation. And then she called him again.
Because she wasn't worried, God damn it.
Kurt rolled down his windows once he reached a completely empty stretch of country forest road, and belted out 'All That Jazz' from Chicago, with great and unparalleled gusto.
With the fresh, crisp air filling his lungs, the steady thrum of his baby's powerful engine underscoring his Best of Broadway playlist, and no one to see the windblown mess that was his hair, this, right here, was possibly one of the most freeing experiences of his life.
Which would be when the deer leapt into his path.
"Oh my GOD!" He swerved, hit the brakes, and kept his hands on the wheel, doing his level best to make sure he hit neither the deer, nor the tall, thick-trunked trees that lined the road. He came to a screeching halt a foot short of the frozen animal, and everything was abruptly quiet. The frantic motions had knocked his iPod out of its jack; all he could hear was the faint hum of his sound system and the wind rustling through the leaves.
His own breathing was stilted and irregular, and holy crap that had been really, really frightening.
He and the deer stared at each other for a lengthy, creepy amount of time, and when the animal turned to go back to the woods, it was with an unhurried gait. He waited until the deer had disappeared into the trees before turning his engine back on, pulling off the road and yanking his keys out of the ignition. They jangled impossibly loud in his trembling grip as he dropped them into his cup holder. He leaned against the steering wheel, clenching it tightly, trying to still his shuddering limbs.
That had been far too close.
Kurt sat up, heart still thrumming, and climbed out of the car. A spilt second before he slammed the door shut, he remembered to grab his keys and shove them in his jeans' pocket. The soft sounds of the forest reached him, and he tried to focus on that, rather than his near-death experience. He walked a bit into the tree line, inhaling deeply, closing his eyes. Okay, breathe. You're fine, your baby's fine. It wasn't that bad – it really wasn't. Okay. A quiet rushing sound filled his ears, and his lids flickered open, eyes narrowing as he peered between the thick trunks.
It sounded a bit like a stream. He smiled without knowing why. It was soothing and sweet, and he relaxed a little, feeling the tension leave him, and the adrenaline that he was still a bit high on, beginning to dissipate. He braced himself, back first, against a tree, stretching his legs out, eyes fluttering shut again, breathing in and trying to exhale what was left of his fear. His hands rested lightly on his thighs, and he wondered vaguely how close that stream, or river, or whatever, was . . .
He didn't know why this interested him, or . . . wait. He blinked, focusing on the ground, but he wasn't seeing the tangled grass at his feet. He was seeing wet stones, and moss . . . It came to him in bits and pieces, but he remembered . . .
"Careful, Kurt, don't get so close to the edge!"
"Oh, relax Burt, he's fine. And he swims like a fish."
"I know but – Kurt, Kurt!"
He'd been six, or maybe seven, and they had been out for a weekend camping trip . . . he'd wandered into the rushing stream, the water deeper than he was tall, and the current surprised him. His mother had been right – he was a good swimmer, and after he had gotten over the initial shock of cold, he managed to get to the other side, coughing and shivering, but otherwise fine. His father reached him less than a second later and he'd looked angry – for all of a moment. Then he just bundled Kurt up in his arms and strictly instructed him not to do that ever again – that he wasn't to swim unless either his dad or mom was in the water with him.
Kurt didn't know why this particular memory was affecting him so much but . . . out of the blue, he very much wanted to find this stream he could hear, even though this forest was nowhere near their old camping ground.
He glanced back towards his SUV, and then took some time to contemplate this randomness.
A breeze ruffled his hair, whispering along one side of his face. With no clear rhyme or reason . . . he turned back towards the sea of green, and walked into it.
Author's Note: Right, so, this story is mostly done - I'm just working on the last bit - I think it'll be about four chapters total. Work and friends are dominating my time at the moment, but I'll try to get the next chapter up before the weekend.
Hope you all enjoyed! Reviews and critiques are always welcome!