The house was quiet and that's when Burt knew something was seriously wrong. Ever since his son was born, the house has been filled with sounds. Whether they were the cries of a hungry baby, the conversations with imaginary friends, the (ill-advised) drum set, the humming of pop songs, the blaring beat of Beyonce, the…well, you get the idea. The point is, the Hummel household has never been quiet, so when Burt can hear his own breath, he gets nervous.
Kurt is in the living room, sitting at the window seat, looking out into the dusk-filled street.
"Uh, thanks for making dinner, Kurt. It was, uh, good. Really good. I liked the walnuts in the salad." Burt's unease was palpable.
Not looking away, Kurt replied, "Your welcome, Dad. I'm glad you liked it." Burt has never heard his son's voice in such a monotone. It's always filled with something; anger, defiance, glee, sadness, excitement, sometimes all at once. This? This was weird. Burt's anxiety went up exponentially.
"Did you finish your homework?" He tried to draw out his son.
"How was, uh, how was Glee?" He was getting desperate now.
"It's Monday, Dad. I don't have Glee."
Burt would give anything to end this almost one-sided conversation. The boy before him was not his son.
"Where's Puck? He could come over, if you want."
Kurt sucked in a breath, "We broke up, Dad."
There it was. The reason for this depression. His son was heartbroken. Shit.
"Why? Did he do something? Did he hurt you? That's it, I'm going to march down to that house and break his face. I'm going to—"
Kurt turn around (finally!), "Dad! Calm down. He didn't do anything. It wasn't working out and I broke up with him." The sadness in his eyes grounded Burt in a way that life hasn't since Becky died. Burt's heart broke for his son.
He didn't know what to say. He was completely out of his element. For the millionth time, Burt wished Becky was here.
Kurt, thinking the conversation to be over, turned back to the now darkened street. Burt had no idea what he was doing, but the knowledge that he had to do something spurred him into action. "Let's go for a walk."
His son whirled around in surprise, "What? Dad, it's late! Where would we go?"
"Just a walk around the neighborhood. Maybe over to the park. I haven't been there in a while and it's a nice night. All you need is a light jacket."
"Dad, really, I'm fine. You don't have to do anything. I'll just go downstairs and—"
"Jacket. On. Now."
Kurt got up in a huff and stalked off to the coat rack and Burt could hear him mutter about "overbearing fathers" and "misplaced concern". Burt smiled, happy that he was fulfilling his parental duties of annoying his teenager. Another thing to check off his To-Do list, right after mending his son's heart.
Together, the Hummel men strode out the door and down the driveway into the calm night. The wind had settled and what remained was a refreshing breeze.
They walked in silence, down their street and around the corner to the small playground. Burt would bring Kurt to play here when he was younger, an eternity ago.
"It's the brutal jungle that it always has been. How's the garage?"
"The same." Burt sat down on a bench and made room for his son, who, upon sitting, crossed his legs daintily. Burt smiled, that's his boy.
"That's the first jungle-gym you ever went on." Kurt turned to where his father was pointing. The jungle-gym in question was a fortress made of wood and metal. Kurt vaguely remembered feeling discomfort.
In response to his son's furrowed brow, Burt explained, "You might not remember, but when you were four, you climbed to the top."
Kurt's eyes widened. The structure was tall, at least nine feet. "Yeah, that's the same face I made when I realized that the crazy kid in the sparkly jeans jacket at the top was you."
Kurt chuckled, "I loved that jacket. I made it with Mom and her new Beadazzler."
Burt laughed, "You were obsessed with that thing. I remember coming home one day, getting ready to go on a run. I went in the closet for my running shoes and every inch of them was covered in blue rhinestones."
Kurt laughed, long and loud, and Burt's heart soared at the sound, "I chose blue because it was manly." They both dissolved into laughter at that.
Burt was confused, so Kurt clarified, "What happened after I climbed it?"
"Oh! Well, I had three heart attacks—" Kurt giggled. "—and started yelling, 'Stay there! Stay still! I'm coming to get you!' And you, being the headstrong kid you've always been, didn't listen."
"Is that the time I broke my arm?"
"No, you broke your arm when your cousin Frank accidently fell on you. You, instead of staying up there, jumped your way down the jungle-gym in five seconds."
Kurt's eyes were wide, "Me? I did that?"
Burt nodded, pride evident on his face, "You jumped down the levels, the same way you got up there. No fear. Absolutely no fear. Then, you had the gall to walk over to me and pat my leg and say, 'Don't worry, Daddy, I won't tell Mommy that you weren't watching me."
Kurt threw his head back in hysterics and Burt joined in. After a minute, when their laughter was subdued, they relaxed into a comfortable silence.
Suddenly, the night air was disturbed by loud music coming from the house nearby.
"Jeez, they play their music almost as loud as I do!"
"Which is why I gave you the basement, kid."
"Yeah, now the only person who gets disturbed by it is you!" Kurt was always a cheeky boy.
The song suddenly changed to something Burt recognized. He jumped up, startling his son, "This is the song that your mom taught me how to dance to!"
"You can dance?"
Burt narrowed his eyes at Kurt, "Yes. Now get up! I'm going to teach you something called the Twist."
Kurt laughed, "No, Dad, that's okay, really."
Burt raised his eyebrows, so that they were practically at the brim of his cap, "Well, okay, if you're scared…"
"What?! Who said anything about being scared? What would I be scared of?"
"Being shown up by your dad in dance."
Kurt's eyes flared with the challenge, "As if. Show me how it's done, old man."
"I'll ignore that for now, baby boy. Alright, it's simple. Just twist your hips like this—" He demonstrated with his own body. "—and twist your arms like this, in the opposite direction. That's it!"
Kurt copied his father, laughing the entire time, "We look ridiculous!"
"This is how we used to do it. We're not done yet. Keep doing that and then lift up one leg and shake it."
Kurt could barely breathe. He did as his father told him and almost fell over with laughter when he looked over to his dad.
They continued until they couldn't hold themselves up any longer. Collapsing on the bench, Kurt took deep breaths, "That was some excellent dancing, if I do say so myself."
"Better than the crap you kids do now!"
"Hey! No insulting! Beyonce is –speak of the devil…"
Burt recognized the next song as the one that the football team danced to a couple of months ago. When Kurt turned to him, excitement lighting up his face, Burt was filled with a sense of dread, "Oh, no! Don't even think about it!"
"Dad! Come on! You made me learn your dance! Just a little, I promise!"
Burt sighed, he knew he wasn't going to win this one, "Fine."
Kurt squealed and got up, "Alright, follow me. Hand on hip and sway side to side—That's right!"
Burt was sure that he looked like the biggest idiot, but it was worth it to see his son, his Kurt so happy.
"Okay, now we run around in a circle and turn." Burt followed his son as best as he could. He had no idea Kurt was so flexible. "Alright, now hands, hands, head. Point to the finger, head. Hips, sneak attack back to the ring!"
"Are we done yet?"
"No! Now turn, comb through the hair and slap. The. Butt."
Burt could not believe football players learned this. They continued throughout the song, Burt fumbling and stumbling through the choreography. They only stopped when Kurt was laughing too hard to instruct his dad.
"That was awesome."
"Yeah, well, don't get used to it."
"Aww, and here I thought we could watch MTV together and learn the new Lady Gaga video."
Burt had no clue in hell as to who Lady Gaga was, but he was sure that he wanted nothing to do with it. "Calm down, Dad, I was kidding! But you sure can move those hips!"
Burt smiled at the admiration (and disbelief) in his son's voice, "Yeah, well, I played baseball." He laughed at Kurt's grimace and made his way over to the swings. Kurt took the swing next to him and they swayed in silence.
Burt sucked in a breath and plunged, "Kurt, what happened with Puck?"
Kurt looked down at the asphalt, "We wanted different things."
They were getting nowhere, "Did I ever tell you about the time your mom broke up with me?"
Kurt's head shot up, his shocked face almost laughable, "No!"
"It was in college. I did something stupid and she dressed me down and broke up with me. I had to do some serious groveling."
"What did you do?"
"I saw her hanging all over this other guy—" Kurt gasped. Burt laughed, "Hold on. I saw her hanging out with this guy one weekend when she said she couldn't hang out with me. I saw red. So I went over there and pummeled the kid."
Kurt's eyes were popping out of his head, "But Mom would never—"
"You obviously know her better than I used to, because she didn't. That kid? That kid was your Uncle Jack."
Kurt burst out laughing, "You punched Uncle Jack?"
"I broke his nose—" Kurt gasped again, "—but he forgave me, said, 'You're doing a good job taking care of Becky.' After that, we were best friends. He even helped me get your mom back."
"How'd you do it?"
Burt winced, "Uh, we sang Here Comes the Sun outside her window at two in the morning."
Kurt fell off the swing, laughing, "Dad, you can't sing."
"That's what she said. She forgave me, though, but hesitated to take me back."
"Was she still angry?"
"No, she said that she had always wanted her kids to be able to sing and it was genetically unlikely with me as the father—" Kurt rolled around on the black top, hysterically laughing, "—so you have no idea how happy I was when you sang Happy Birthday completely in tune for her 34th birthday."
Kurt gasped, "Dad, please, I can't breathe." Burt started to laugh too.
Eventually Kurt calmed down and sat back on the swing, still chuckling softly.
Burt sobered up slightly, "What do you guys want?"
Kurt's smile was small and resigned, "He wanted to go public and I didn't." Burt could not have been more shocked.
"Why? You're proud of who you are and Mohawk isn't that much of a catch, but still."
Kurt smiled a little wider, "It's not that, Dad. I love him and that's why I didn't want to go public. He would get hurt."
For the umpteenth time, Burt could not believe how much Kurt was like Becky, all heart.
"Dad, it's different for us. I get harassed here and there, but I don't break the mold. I sing, dance, and wear nice clothes. My voice sounds like a thirteen-year-old girl's. Me being gay is expected. Noah, he's the epitome of a man's man. If he were gay, that's different. That's unexpected. That defies every societal expectation. People hate that which confuses them. Noah could get really hurt."
"Yeah. Don't worry, Dad. I'll get over it and in two years, I'll—"
"Don't say it!"
"—go to college and have boyfriends there and be who I want to be."
"Jesus, Kurt, we were just talking about you being a four-year-old, now I have to get used to you leaving?"
Kurt smiled, "Oh, yeah, New York, here I come!"
"It's getting kind of chilly. Do you mind heading back?"
"No, let's go."
"Thanks for taking me here. It was perfect."
"No problem, Kurt."
They turned to their walkway when Burt saw him. Sitting on the porch steps was a brooding Noah Puckerman.
"What, just because you broke up with me means you ignore all twenty of my calls?"
Kurt flushed, "We were at the park. I forgot my phone inside."
"Doesn't matter, this is better."
"No! You're gonna listen to me, Hummel!"
Burt turned to his son, "I'll be going inside now."
Kurt yelled, "No! Stay here!"
Puck's eyebrow rose, "Fine. Your dad will understand this. We are not breaking up. We are going to march into that school tomorrow, holding hands and acting like the disgusting couple we are—"
"Puck, we can't do that—"
"NO! Listen to me! I know that you're trying to be noble and Gryffindor-ish, but get it into your head! That's STUPID! Hiding our relationship is STUPID! Who cares about what they think?"
"I don't CARE about what THEY think. I CARE about YOU and your FUCKING LIFE, NOAH!"
Burt and Puck were still, shocked beyond belief. Kurt never swore. Especially not with that word.
Kurt wasn't finished, tears streaming down his face, "I LOVE YOU, YOU IDIOTIC, PRIMATIVE MORON. I can't, I can't watch you get hurt because of me!"
Burt's eyes filled with tears as his son fell to his knees, arms wrapped around himself, sobs wracking his small body.
Puck fell to his knees in front of him. Gingerly he lifted Kurt's head up by his chin. Looking into his red-rimmed green eyes, he said, soft as anything, "I love you, too. I love you so much. If you can't watch me get hurt, then don't do this. Because not being with you? It doesn't get worse than that. I can handle those gorillas. I can't handle not being with you."
Kurt sobbed and flung his arms around Puck, "Please, please, don't do anything stupid tomorrow."
"Are you questioning my badassness?" Kurt laughed through his tears and looked up at his dad.
"What do you think?"
"Trust him to know how to handle those morons. After all, it takes one to know one."
Kurt laughed and Puck looked affronted, "Hey!"
"Come on Kurt, it's time for bed. See you later, Mohawk."
"Goodnight, sir. I'll pick you up from your car tomorrow, Kurt." And with a kiss, he was gone.
The next morning, Burt sat in the kitchen and watched his son flitter around.
"Does this outfit say I'm-out-and-proud-and-with-my-hot-boyfriend-and-don't-care-about-what-you-think-but-please-please-don't-hurt-him?"
"That's a lot to ask of an outfit, isn't it?"
Kurt glared, "You're useless."
"That's my job. Now get going, you're going to be late. Be careful, keep that can of Mace on you and be sure to stop by the garage after school."
"I'll be there around five because I have Glee."
Shit. He had to wait longer to find out the outcome of the day. "Just be careful, Kurt. Please."
"Are you questioning Noah's badassness now?"
"Get out of here, you smartass."
"Better than a dumb one! I love you, Dad!"
"Love you, too."
The day was absolute hell for Burt Hummel. He was so worried, he inserted the transmission to a Toyota into a Ford and spent half an hour trying to find a clutch in an automatic.
He was a mess, trying to rationalize and calm down. After all, if Kurt was hurt, the school would call, right? Right. Unless. Unless no one knew and Kurt was bleeding and hurt somewhere, all by himself, in the dark. Kurt hated the dark.
Just as he went for his keys to drive down to the school like a bat out of hell, he heard his son's melodic voice, "DAD! We're here! Sorry we're late, but Rachel diva-ed out and we had to deal with it and—"
Burt all but sagged with relief over the car he was inspecting. Walking around it, he saw his son chatting with his boyfriend by the office.
"How was your day?"
"Well, Tina got slushied and it was horrible because it was grape and she's allergic to grape and her whole face swelled up, but she had medicine, so she was okay. Artie ran over the kid that did it because he likes Tina and—"
"How rude. What, Dad?"
"How. Was. Your. Day?"
Puck snickered wildly, "Even your dad can't handle you, Motor-Mouth."
Kurt glared at his boyfriend, before turning to his father, "I was just kidding, Dad. Alright, school was good. Six guys from the hockey team cornered Noah, but, as you can see, he's fine."
Burt examined the bulky teen. As far as he could see, the only damage was the taped knuckles. "Six?" He whistled. "Nice one, Mohawk."
Puck shrugged, "Finn helped."
"Still, two against six? I like your style."
"Apparently," interjected Kurt. "Noah's fight club is real. He didn't even break a sweat!"
Puck grinned and it reminded Burt of a shark. Or a really badass teen. "I've been taking Aikido for seven years. I can't use it unless it was for self-defense, so…"
"You've been itching for it. I repeat, nice one."
Kurt rolled his eyes, "Anyway, what do you want for dinner? Noah is coming over."
"Anything's fine. I'll be done here in an hour."
"Okay, we'll see you later."
"Aren't you not supposed to talk about fight club?"
"I never said my boyfriend was smart."