So they just … kicked her out?
Yeah. Gave her half an hour to pack. Her father set the timer on the microwave.
Kurt was walking home. He'd exaggerated when he told Mercedes his dad took the Navigator away after finding his tiara collection, but his dad had taken his keys for a month as a consequence for coming home with a shattered windshield. "I don't think its safe parked in the school lot," he'd said. And then he'd let the car sit, under a tarp, on the shop's back lot, which Kurt was pretty sure was his way of making him meditate he error of his ways. For the last few weeks, he'd mostly grabbed a ride from Tina or Mercedes, or Rachel and her dad on days she didn't have afterschool lessons. But today he felt like he needed to walk. The cold air and smell of late fall would calm the breaths that came faster and ragged every time he started thinking about this afternoon.
Kurt didn't have much use for Quinn. At the height of her powers, tripping around school with her Cheerio skirt twitching across her butt like the cropped tail of a hunting dog, he had been completely beneath her notice. And now … she had more on her mind these days. And if she was no longer casually cruel, she didn't have time to be casually friendly.
But she'd also seemed so … cared for. A cosseted pet dog, not a stray like most of the glee club members. Her parents had hosted class events all the way back to kindergarten. Her mom and dad came to every school event, her mom as some officer of the PTA, her dad with his high-end camcorder around his neck to capture her every beautiful move. To Kurt, her home life had seemed like something out of a TV show – one of the ones with two parents, still married to each other, in the impossibly big house with the impossibly neverending wardrobe. He imagined each episode of Quinn's life ending with her dad laughing and some hijinks and calling her "pumpkin."
Which couldn't really be true. He knew that. TV was impossibly perfect. But it was nice to think about.
And of course TV was sometimes impossibly imperfect. He'd seen a bunch of those afterschool specials and Very Special Episodes, the ones where kids in trouble are abandoned by their parents, kicked out and forced to live on the streets or bounce from couch to couch. He'd somehow thought they were just as fictional as the Perfect Family sitcoms. Parents loved their kids. They got mad – they might get really, really mad – but they took care of them. It was their job. It was the law! They didn't give their kids 30 minutes to pack --except that the Fabrays had just done it. Coldly and with deliberation.
Kurt felt really naive. And kind of queasy.
He'd been terrified to come out to his dad. But not because he really expected he'd be out on the street! He'd dreaded letting his dad down, feared seeing disappointment in Dad's eyes when he learned who his son really was. He'd thought maybe his dad would avoid him, not touch him, be repulsed by the thought of his differences. There might be yelling, he'd imagined. He'd worried their relationship would change forever. But he never had seriously entertained the idea that his dad would throw him out like a stranger, not caring if he had someplace safe to go.
And even if his dad had flipped his shit, well, Kurt knew that if his mom were there to see it, she wouldn't have been anything like Quinn's mom. That part of Finn's story had shocked him most of all. Quinn's mom had stood silently next to the microwave, staring at the melting ice cubes in her highball glass, and had let it happen. She'd done nothing, said nothing, had note even looked up to watch as they walked out the kitchen door into the darkness.
Kurt stopped at a corner to wait for a car to pass. He saw it was Finn's mom in her old station wagon, with a pile of grocery bags in the passenger seat next to her. She looked over at him as she pulled away from the stop sign and he could see her eyebrows were wrinkled with worry. But she gave him a small, tight, sad smile and waved, so he lifted his hand in return.
If his dad had tried to set the timer on the microwave, Kurt was pretty sure Mom would have thrown it at him. And then she would have wrapped her arms around him and squeezed him so tight it might've hurt a little, but in a good way, and the curls of her hair on her shoulders might've gotten in his eyes and up his nose some, but Kurt knew he totally would not have minded. It's been ten years since he felt those arms around him, but he's pretty sure he would still have fit into them perfectly, with his ear against her heart.
Moms don't do that kind of thing, he thinks to himself. Finn's mom sure wouldn't. Finn's mom wouldn't just have thrown the microwave – Finn's mom would have chased her husband down the street with it, if he'd tried to kick anyone out of the house. Kurt could imagine her doing it, too. He was kind of in awe of Finn's mom. Sure, she dressed like she hadn't had any new clothes since 1991 -- but maybe she hadn't, and maybe that was because she was busy being a damn good mom all on her own with no help. Kurt knew if his mom had left to raise him alone instead of his dad, she would have worn her clothes to rags before she let him go without something he needed.
So he and Finn, the kids everyone pitied back in grade school, the ones with only one parent at the fifth grade graduation picnic, the ones sitting in the back not making eye contact while everyone else made Fathers Day and Mother's Day cards? They weren't the unlucky ones after all. At least, not as unlucky as someone with both parents, but people who took the title "Parent" so lightly that they could decide one day that it no longer applied, simply because of who you were or what mistake you'd made. That "parent" was a job you could quit without even giving two weeks notice, or a role in a play that you stopped performing when the show closed.
It was already turning to dusk as he walked up the driveway of the house. The garage was open, and light from the kitchen hall streamed across the garage floor, illuminating his car --and his dad, standing next to it with a shop-vac he must have just turned off.
His own voice sounded rough in his ears when he spoke. "Hi dad!" he called out, trying to make it bright.
"Kurt!" his dad responded. "Hey! I got Dave to help me drop in the new windshield this morning. I figured you're having to stay late for practices more and more, and I don't want you walking home alone in the dark.
"Thanks Dad," Kurt said. He paused, and added. "For everything. Really. I'm sorry about the window."
"I know, kiddo," his dad replied. "We're good. You're still working Tuesday afternoons at the shop for another next month, though."
Kurt watched as his dad finished winding the power cord of the vacuum into place, then followed his dad through the kitchen door into the warmth and light of the house. He found himself staring at the microwave on the counter next to the fridge. He didn't even know how to set the timer; the built-in clock didn't keep good time, and neither he nor his father bothered to reset it very often. Right now it told him it was 1:45.
"Kurt!" He looked over, almost surprised to hear his dad's voice raised.
"You're a million miles away today. You have a lot of homework or something?"
"Um, no. It was just a kind of long day. And weird. And we had extra glee club practice."
"Well, I was gonna throw a steak for each of us on the grill, but you know what? Let me wash up and we'll go out. Pizza or Chinese?"
"Whatever you want, Dad," he smiled. "Your pick."