Title: A Relationship in Four Parts, or, Conversations Between Kurt and Burt

Author: amaXdear

Rating: Mostly PG, with mild language

Spoilers: Really just for Preggers (Kurt's Big Scene and Drizzle's lineage)

Warning: The only fic I've ever cried while writing. But it's also funny and cute in parts, and contains a realistic view of relationships. Microscopic reference to another slash pairing in a different musical fandom. Lyrics from 'Wicked' and John Mellencamp's 'Jack and Diane'.

Author's Note: To date, I believe this is my favorite of everything I've written. It's primarily a Burt/Kurt family love fic, which is why I'm posting it to the Burt Hummel Appreciation Group, although there is background Puck/Kurt, so it may also go up at Team Puckurt, and of course at . Seriously, though, don't let that deter you. This is primarily a B/K dialogue fic, with "stage directions" and other characters in italics. Their ages at the time of the conversation is underlined, first Kurt and then Burt.

And for those who are wondering… Evita's an Akita. Akitas are generally quiet dogs with a very melodic barking sound, who can be vocal when their territory is encroached upon, who require exercise and grooming, and who are so intelligent that they actually get bored when not stimulated. I couldn't resist giving Kurt a canine version of himself to play with, and we're going to say his babysitter was a RENThead, so he liked the name Evita.

I despise 's automatic formatting. Because there is so much dialogue, double-spacing is way too much. Unfortunately, single-spacing it is incredibly frustrating because it keeps reverting back to the original, so I'm not doing that. If anyone is so annoyed that they can't finish, I can send you a PM with the livejournal link.

Enjoy.


Part I: Interacting

1. 1 hour, 31

"Hey, kid. You're a real troublemaker, aren't you?"

gurgle

"Gave your mom a hard time. She's sleeping now, for the first time in a while, 'cause of all that kicking you've been doing lately. You're a little tiny now, but don't worry, you've got the legs of a great football player. We'll work on it."

yawn

"Tired? Don't worry, Kurt, I don't mind if you want to take a nap. You're probably as exhausted as your mama. I'll just stay right here, okay? I won't leave you alone."

tiny coo, rocking back and forth

"G'night."

2. 3, 34

"Hi, Daddy."

"Hey, Kurt. What are you doing?"

"Trying Mommy's shoes. They're too big."

"Get out of those things, son, you'll break your ankles. Here, try on my loafers. They're close to the ground."

"But they're ugly."

"I don't want you wearing your mom's stilettos, okay?"

exaggerated sigh

"'Kay. Hey, Daddy?"

"What, Kurt?"

"Can I have shoes for my birthday?"

"Sure. We'll get a pair of those Converse All-Stars with little flames on 'em. You'll be the coolest kid on the block."

"No those, Daddy."

"Why not? They're classics."

"I mean like Mom's shoes. Pretty shoes, only close to the ground. Y'know, something sens'ble."

"Jesus, Kurt, what else do you want?"

"Nothing."

"Come on, buddy--"

"Nothing!"

3. 5, 36

"Hey, kiddo, you want to see something cool?"

"Depends."

"On what?"

"Is it another car?"

laughing

"I thought you liked coming to the garage."

"Eh."

"You are something else, you know that, Kurt? And don't let anyone tell you different."

"'Kay."

"Here, look at this."

"Who's that?"

"That's your mother right there, and that's me."

"Really?"

"Uh-huh."

"That's a lot of hair!"

more laughter

"Why's it so curly?"

"That was the style. I used to have the wickedest hair on the block."

"Mom's hair is big, too."

"Mm-hm. She got it done for prom."

"That's a pretty dress."

"This was taken on the night I knew I was going to ask Mom to marry me."

"And she said yes?"

"Well, I didn't ask her that night. It was only our second date."

"So? Bet she would of said yes."

laughter, softer and wistful this time

"I don't think so."

the smell of rose petals and sweet pea, a yellow dress lighting the room like a sun burst, warm hands touching the backs of both the man and the boy, closing them in a gentle hug.

"I think Kurt's right. Sometimes you just know."

4. 6, 37

"Daddy."

silence

"Daddy?"

"Sweetheart, maybe your father needs some alone time. Come on, I'll show you the coloring books we have in the waiting room."

"Daddy!"

a strange hand tugging on his elbow

"No. He's my son, he can stay."

"Daddy, what's wrong?"

"Could we have some frickin' privacy, please?"

footsteps

"Who was that?"

"She was a nurse, Kurt."

"Oh. That's why she was wearing white. It looked awful."

"C'mere, kid."

"What's wrong, Daddy?"

pause

"It's your mom."

"Yeah?"

"Oh, God."

"Dad? Are you okay?"

"I'm fine, Kurt, I'm fine."

"You're crying."

"I'm-- fine. It's Mom."

"Where is she? I wanna show her this scarf Auntie Mildred let me keep."

"Mom was in a car accident, Kurt, and she got hurt real bad."

"But… but you can fix her, right? 'Cause that's what happens, when cars get in accidents you fix them, so you can fix Mommy, right?"

words nearly hidden in a sob

"Oh God. No, Kurt, no, there's nothing we can do, she's--"

weeping. arms wrapped tightly around a frail body. tears coursing silently down a pale, frightened face, no grief, only confusion and sadness.

Part II: Learning

5. 8, 39

"OOOWWW!"

"Relax, Kurt, it's just a--"

"It HURTS."

"It's just a bit of a bruise!"

"It hurts."

"Just keep the ice pack on it, it'll be okay."

"I don't want to play baseball anymore. I told you it was a stupid idea."

"C'mon, kiddo, it's only been one game!"

"NO! It's already got my face, next time it's gonna smash my feet and break my legs and then what am I going to do?"

sigh

"All right. What about basketball?"

"Dad."

"Fine."

"Can I take dance lessons?"

pause

"Okay."

6. 10, 41

"Dad, can she sleep in my room, please, please, please--"

panting, a tail thumping against the floor

"No, Kurt. She'll get hair all over your bed."

"I won't let her sleep on the bed, I promise! Please, I'll get her water at night if she drinks it all, and as long as she doesn't slobber all over the floor--"

whine, sigh

"All right, fine. But here, if she tries to bite anything just put your hand around her nose like that, okay? And put some newspaper down first."

"Why?"

"The lady who sold us to her said she was house-trained, but she's only eight weeks old so I don't really believe her."

pause

"Um, maybe she should sleep in your room instead. I don't really know anything about dogs. G'night, Dad! G'night, Evita!"

kiss

"Hey, I thought we agreed on Lady!"

"I liked Evita better!"

sigh

"What do you think, huh, girl? Evita?"

enthusiastic bark

"Or Lady?"

silence

"Damn."

7. 12, 43

"Kurt? Kurt?"

"I-I'm upstairs, Dad."

heavy footsteps running up the staircase

"Kurt! Are you--"

"I'm fine."

shaky voice betraying the words. deep breath, then an opening door. the smell of rose petals and sweet pea, a small, stylish body curled up on the bed, and a large red dog curled up next to him, shedding on a white comforter

"What's wrong?"

"Nothing. I'm fine."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes."

a doubtful pause

"Really, Dad. I-- sometimes I just wish Mom was here."

more strength in his voice

"She is here, Kurt."

"I mean alive."

8. 13, 45

"Dad, can I talk to you?"

"Sure. Hand me that flashlight first."

"Here."

"Okay, shoot."

"I think… I might… what are you doing?"

"Trying to figure out what's wrong with this sedan."

"Cool."

"Yeah. I'm pretty sure it's the transmission."

"Huh. So… how do you fix it?"

"Seriously?"

"Yeah. It looks, um, interesting."

"Okay--hey, maybe you could help me out at the garage sometime. If you want to learn more."

"Sounds like fun."

"All right. So the first thing we need to check is whether or not-- oh, what did you want to talk about?"

"I'm-- nothing."

Part III: Understanding

9. 16, 47

two people kissing on a white couch, footsteps on the stairs

"Hey, get a room, you two."

"Dad! This is my room!"

"Yeah? Well it's my house, so deal with it. 'Sides, your boyfriend's mom called, says she wants him home for dinner and he didn't answer his cell."

an intimidating glare, embarrassed but unrepentant looks exchanged, goodbyes punctuated by a kiss. one person leaves, another calls after him

"Hey, Puckerman, don't think I'm not keeping an eye on you!"

"Don't worry, sir, I have nightmares about it!"

chuckle, and the front door shuts

"Well?"

"What d'ya mean, well? I don't like him."

"Off the record, Dad."

"I like him."

"Good. Not that it matters, but I'm glad."

"Yeah, yeah. C'mon, it's time for dinner. I made meatballs."

10. 18, 49

"Are you all packed?"

"Yes, Dad, I've been packed for a week and a half."

"Cell phone charged?"

"Yes."

"Puck's tank is full, right?"

"Filled it last night, and we've got rest stops marked on the GPS."

"Call me tonight."

"I will."

"And when you get to your dorm."

"Mm-hm. Do you want Noah to call too?"

"Why would I?"

"Mrs. Puckerman threatened me if I didn't call her, I thought you might--"

"All right, all right, have him give me a ring when he touches down in Maine."

"Thanks, Dad. He really appreciates it, you know."

"I know. Don't-- don't party too hard or anything, but don't worry about your grades too much, just get settled in and then--"

"Dad, stop freaking out."

"I'm not freaking out."

"Yes you are. I'm going to be fine, and I'll call you if I'm not, okay?"

a sudden, firm hug

"I know, Kurt. I'm just proud of you, you know that, right?"

"Mm-hm."

"I'm gonna miss you."

"I'll miss you too, Dad. I've gotta go."

"Bye."

"Bye. Bye, Evita."

a faint whine, car horn honks jokingly, greetings and farewells exchanged through an open window, tires screeching as they finally leave Lima. one figure left behind

11. 19, 50

phone ringing, answered almost immediately

"Kurt?"

"Dad? You got Caller ID?"

"Yeah, it was part of the upgrade last month. Listen, I'm sorry I had to hurry off the phone last week, but there were about five people bringing their cars in at the same time. Did you have a good birthday?"

"Yeah, it was great. Mercedes and Tina dropped by, and Rachel's down the street, so we had a little reunion. My roommate already hates me."

"Good, you're supposed to hate your first roommate. Did you get my package?"

"Yes, it just came today. I love it, Dad, thanks. Now be honest, who helped you pick them out?"

"Maybe nobody did. Maybe I just know my own kid well enough to know--"

"Dad, come on. I know that you're awesome, but there are some things that you are just over your head in, and finding a pair of black velvet slacks with descending red spangles from the back of the knee to the ankle that are absolutely identical to the pair that Liza Minnelli wore to sing 'New York, New York' in New York, New York during the Red Dress Fashion Show of the Mercedes-Benz Fall 2008 Fashion Week is too much, even for you."

"What the hell was all that?"

"Exactly."

"All right, Rebecca Puckerman helped me."

"Please, Dad."

"Her daughter helped me."

"I thought so. If she keeps this up, she's going to become my number-one hag. Mercedes is in trouble."

"Your what?"

"Never mind."

"Okay. Speaking of which, how's Puck?"

pause

"We broke up."

"What? Why?"

"No particular reason. It's just… long distance is hard, especially because this is really the first time we've had any sort of freedom, and we both agreed that it would be easier to take a break now, maybe start again in a few years, then risk ruining any potential for a relationship later by cheating, and I've never even dated anyone else and he hasn't dated any other guys so knowing that we have other options can, again, make whatever we decide we want stronger, because we would know for sure what we want, and--"

"Kurt, this is one of those scenes in a sitcom where everyone else knows better and you're just making it harder for yourself."

sigh

"I know, Dad. It's-- it's complicated, okay, just trust me on this?"

"I like Puck."

"I know."

"And you love him, right?"

"Dad, I have to go."

"Okay, I can take a hint. Have a good week, Kurt, I'll talk to you next weekend."

"Okay, bye."

"Bye."

12. 19, 50

"Merry Christmas, kid."

"Merry Christmas. Here. It's not much, but--"

"I thought you said you weren't going to get me anything."

"Mm, well so did you. Just take it, I promise I didn't ruin my budget."

crinkling and ripping paper, laughter

"These heels aren't very sensible, Dad."

"They match your birthday pants. And Sarah didn't have to help me pick 'em out."

"My very own ruby boots… I must admit I'm impressed with the gay symbolism. Thank you."

"No problem. Now this… this is something."

"I thought you'd like it."

"'My son is proud of me and I'm proud of him.' Nice."

"I was going to add 'even though he's totally gay and I have no sense of style, but it didn't fit."

"I like it. New favorite hat."

"You don't have to wear it, I just thought it would be fun."

"No, no, I'll wear it."

"Where?"

"I don't know, the garage or something…"

"Yeah right."

"I will!"

"Dad, come on. Seriously."

"I am serious. I am proud of you, Kurt, and I don't have a sense of style, so I'm not afraid of wearing a tacky hat that says so."

"You rock."

"I know."

13. 21, 52

"So you and Puck are back on?"

"I-- how did you know that?"

"Come on, kid, I'm your father. I know everything."

"You saw us kissing on the porch last night, didn't you?"

"Yep."

Part IV: Respect

14. 22, 53

the phone rings. there is no answer, only a beep

"You've reached Burt Hummel, leave a message."

beep

"Dad? It's Kurt. I just wanted to… sort of apologize, for what I said the other day. Please don't be offended by it. I may not remember her as well, but I miss Mom too, and I certainly didn't want to imply that she could be replaced. It's not that I expect you to get married again, or even fall in love, I just don't think it's a good idea for you to be spending so much time alone. Sixteen years is a long time, Dad, and I don't know how often I'll be able to visit, once I find an apartment, and…"

sigh

"This isn't coming out right. I want you to be happy, just like you want me to be happy, and I'm sorry if any of this prevents that. Please, think about it? I don't know if I'll remember to call this weekend, I'm kind of busy, so call me back whenever you can. Bye."

15. 23, 54

"Are you sure there's no other way?"

"Kurt, I'm at the vet right now and he says it's really for the best. She's in pain. She's happy, but I don't want to watch her like this any more."

quiet, sharp sob

"Is there any way you can wait? I can leave now, if--"

"We can't wait, Kurt. If it doesn't happen now, then she might die anyway within a few hours, maybe days, and someone should be here even if you can't make it."

shaky voice

"Okay. Okay. Can-- can you stay on the phone? I want to say goodbye. She might not recognize me over the phone, but just hold it to her ear or something, please. I want her to hear me, while…"

smile

"Yeah, I can do that. You gonna sing for her?"

"Of course."

"Are you ready now, Burt?"

"Yes. It's okay if I stay with her, right?"

"Absolutely. I've already given her the muscle relaxant, so it'll be quick and painless, I promise."

weak, happy whine

"Hey, girl."

"Hi, Evita."

"How're feeling? Here, listen to Kurt."

"Hiya, baby. What do you want tonight? My Fair Lady? How about Wicked?"

faint hum at the familiar voice, a hand buried in thick fur

"'For Good' it is, then."

"Here we go, girl."

quivery singing, a slowing and dying heartbeat

"Who can say if I've been changed for the better? Because--"

"Kurt? It's-- she's--"

crying on both sides of the line

"Because I knew you, I have been changed for good."

16. 25, 56

"Dad? I need some advice."

"Sure. On what?"

"I want to propose to Noah."

bang

"Maybe you should have taken your head out of the car first."

"Yeah, 'cause I don't think I heard you right. What did you say?"

"You heard me. I want to ask Noah to marry me."

"Why?"

"Is that a joke? Because I love him, Dad."

"C'mon, Kurt, you're twenty-five, you've only been together for--"

"Nine years."

"No way."

"Fine, seven counting the whole break thing in college, but you said you were ready to propose to Mom at your junior prom!"

"But I didn't."

"Dad."

sigh

"Okay, fine. That's great, kid. I just have to react badly at first so you can tell Puckerman that, and he won't think I'm secretly thrilled. Don't want him to get cocky. So… do you have any plans?"

"I'm not sure. I was thinking New Year's Eve, preferably after everyone's drunk, so he'll already be in a good mood, and in the morning I can claim that he dreamed it if he says no."

"Eh, he's staying in my house, he won't dare to say no. Do you have a ring or something?"

"No. We don't need an engagement ring, and I thought wedding rings were important enough for us to pick out together."

"That's true."

pause

"Dad? There's a really stupid smile on your face."

"Yeah, I… this is one of those conversations I never pictured us having."

"Mm… I'm glad we skated over the sex talk one."

"Yup."

"And what can I say? If I waited for Noah's cues on every little thing, we'd never get anything done. How did you propose to Mom?"

"Um, maybe you should be asking someone else for advice. In the nine years after, your mother only ever told one person how I really proposed because it was so embarrassing to her."

"Oh, God, you didn't do one of those stupid half-time proposals, did you?"

"No, I used a song."

"That's actually kind of sweet-- wait, what song?"

"Jack and Diane."

"Oh yeah, life goes on, long after the thrill of living is gone? How did you work that out?"

"I reworked the lyrics. Hannah, will you marry me? I will even, get down on one knee. That was right after my knee surgery, so I thought--"

"Oh, Dad."

17. 26, 57

"Just breathe."

"I'm fine, Dad. Everything's going perfectly, I look great, I called Noah ten minutes ago and he's perfectly calm, I think Mercedes and Rachel have planned for New Directions to take over the first dance song, but that's all right, they're organized enough to know what they're doing and talk to the band ahead of time, Cayla is—"

hand on a shoulder

"Breathe, Kurt."

sigh

"Okay, so maybe I'm freaking out a little bit."

"Mm."

"Is this normal? I mean, I've been fine up until now but—""Yeah, it's normal. Just remind yourself that you don't have to go through with this—"

"Dad!"

"—but that you really want to, and you'll be okay."

A small, one armed-hug, and a whisper.

"I really love him, Dad. I don't know why I'm nervous."

"I know. Relax. The two of you will be okay."

"Thanks."

A throat is cleared, and the hug ends

"Now… did you seriously bring someone that Noah and I have never met to our wedding?"

"Yep."

"Is she your date? Like, a real date?"

"Yeah. We've gone out a couple of times in the past few months and I thought… is this weird?"

"No, it makes sense. A wedding is as god a time as any to meet people who are important to your family."

"Exactly. I just thought that, after twenty years, it was maybe time to move on."

"Yeah."

"But—you know Mom would have loved to be here, right? I mean, she is here, and I don't want to make you feel otherwise, and Emily—"

"I know."

18. 28, 59

small, slow breaths from the sleeping child. her grandfather sits on a rocking chair near the bed, unaware of the footsteps that announce the arrival of another person. whispers

"Hey, Dad."

"Jesus, Kurt, don't do that!"

"I thought you'd left."

"Nah, Emily just went to bring the car around."

pause

"She's a much heavier sleeper than you were at this age. All I had to do was open the door sometimes and you'd be up all night. Drove your mom crazy."

"She had a big day. I told Mercedes that we were just inviting family and very close friends! We told her, Finn, Ry, and significant others to come, and she decided that close friends meant everyone we ever went to high school with. I'm just lucky David Karofsky didn't show up! Georgia should have been overwhelmed by that many people."

"Nah, you don't have to worry about her. She's just a little social butterfly, isn't she? You've got about fourteen years before that becomes a problem."

soft laugh, and a serious tone of voice

"How's Cayla?"

sigh

"Getting better, I think. Noah talked o her, assured her about a few things. It would have been much easier on her if Quinn had let us have at least joint custody when she was younger—those seven-hour visits never did much for her, I think, and she only started to get jealous in the past few days. Once she realized that we're giving a stranger's daughter the chance that she never had. She's going to get her bags from Connecticut, and then Quinn will drive her up again to stay with us for a while. We think that might help."

"School starts soon, right? The last Monday in February, isn't it?"

"So se misses a few days. We just want her and Georgia to get used to each other. If she feels overshadowed, then I can take her shopping or Noah can buy her a guitar. We're not above bribery, and one-on-one guitar lessons with Dad might make her feel better."

"Good."

a childish yawn, and she snuggles deeper into the blankets

"God, I can't believe any parent would want to give her up."

"Neither can I, but I'm not going to question it. Dad?"

"Yeah?"

"Thanks for being so awesome. I don't think I would be brave enough to attempt fatherhood if I didn't have such a great example."

pleased, embarrassed smile

"There's a reason the party was in the other room, you know. You're going to wake her up."

"Oh yeah? Then what are you doing in here, Puckerman?"

"All due, respect, sir, she's my kid and I can wake her up whenever I want. In fact, I'm planning to wake her up tomorrow at midnight to make cookies and show her how awesome I am. You're not invited, Kurt, I want to be the fun parent."

"Don't look at me, kid, you married him."

pause

"I can't call you kid anymore, can I?"

"I don't mind."

Part V: Loyalty

19. 30, 61

"Dad, it's absolutely a bad idea. You'll probably be the only straight guy there, and plaid is so out of season that you're likely to be chewed out by a man in a Victorian corset."

"Corsets are in fashion?"

"Exactly. Don't go."

"Listen, Kurt, this fashion day thing--it's important to you, right?"

"It's Fashion Week and, if everything goes well, it might very well be the high point of my career."

"Exactly. And I always like to be there for important things. I mean, you didn't think I'd like any of that Glee stuff either, and--"

"Dad, trust me on this. Here, I've got an idea: if you stay, then we fire the babysitter and send some extra x-chromosomes your way."

pause

"Georgia and Cayla?"

"Of course, Dad, I'm not putting my four-year-old on a plane by herself. We let Cayla take her around the city last month and she did perfectly with the subway and everything. Well, Ryan followed at a safe distance to make sure nothing happened, but he didn't help her at all. She didn't notice him, and to be honest I'm not entirely sure that he didn't abandon her to have lunch with Chad. Stupid newlyweds."

"All right, I can do that. Emily's good at raising girls, so if anything goes wrong she's a five-minute drive away."

"She has a daughter?"

"Yeah. Sweet girl, you should meet her. She looks like a totally hippie, but Emily says boho's in or something, whatever that means."

"Hm. Trust me, by the time I'm done with Milan, boho will be out like post-Idol Glambert."

"What?"

"Never mind. Cayla will have to miss a few days of school, but the girl's a genius. Her friends can just e-mail her assignments or something."

"Sounds good."

20. 32, 62

"I'll be honest; when my dad told me that he was getting married, I didn't believe him. Part of that was because he forgot about the time difference and called me at twelve-thirty in the morning on April Fool's Day--"

appreciative laughter

"--which I still don't get, by the way. Between John Mellencamp and April Fool's Eve, I can think of two proposals that really should not have been accepted. Anyway… The real reason is that I never expected anyone to capture his heart as thoroughly as you have, Emily. I planned to say much more, but all I can think of right now is that you have made my dad happier than I can remember."

tight voice

"Thank you for that."

cleared throat, regaining control, an attempt at lightheartedness

"So, good luck!"

raised glasses and murmured cheers

"Thanks, Kurt."

"Thank you."

21. 34, 65

"You okay, kid? You sound kind of down."

"No, I'm fine."

pause

"Are you sure?"

longer pause

"I think…"

a rush of words

"Dad, I think Noah's having an affair with one of his guitar kid's mom."

"What?!"

"I don't know-- it's just--"

frustrated sigh

"I've heard the kid, he doesn't need lessons four times a week and she definitely doesn't need to be there the entire time dressed like she's at a club! I don't want to seem obsessive-jealous, but I just mentioned it once and he got really defensive and I--"

steady, controlled breaths

"Never mind. I-- I'll figure it out. I'm going to… I don't know, I'll talk to him and find out and… I'll call back."

"Hey--do you need me to kick his ass?"

shaky laugh

"No, Dad."

"I'm serious."

"I know."

"No, Kurt, I'm really fucking serious."

"I know, Dad, but don't hop on a plane just yet. I'm a big boy, I'll figure it out. Thank you."

22. 35, 66

"Hi, Grandpa! Merry Christmas!"

"Merry Christmas, Dad."

"Happy holidays, Burt."

"Hey, pumpkin."

affectionate tousle

"Grandma's making cookies in the kitchen, why don't you give her a hand, okay? Merry Christmas, kid."

"Thanks, Dad."

"Here, let me take that. You should see the tree, Emily and I just put the finishing touches on it this morning and it's--"

"Um, Dad? Are you… forgetting something?"

"Hm?"

uncomfortable pause

"Okay, so I'm going to make myself scarce… see if the girls need kitchen help, or something."

unnecessary kiss goodbye

"Dad, come on."

"Three months ago you were having hysterics on the phone, Kurt. Three months ago, and I'm not about to--"

"I told you, we've talked about it and--"

"And of course that solved everything--"

"Well, I'm sorry my ten years of marriage hasn't been as perfect as yours are, but sometimes things work out differently!"

silence

"That-- Dad, that didn't come out the way I meant. I mean, I-- I-- Dad…"

tight hug

"Kurt, I've seen you get hurt too much, you know that."

"I know."

"Did he sleep with her?"

"Yes. Once."

"And?"

"I confronted him about it, and he owned up. He's spent the past three months trying to make up for it."

"How?"

"God, Dad, you wouldn't believe it. Everything. He's been giving me gifts all through Hanukkah and Christmas. Not just cologne or Broadway tickets or whatever, but things like original love songs, and he wrote this really bad sonnet, and-- I'm pretty sure he called Bill's Pizza from New York and bribed them for the exact recipe for their meals so he could recreate our first date on my birthday."

"That's-- seriously?"

"Yes! Normally, I would say there's no chance in hell, but he's been trying very hard. Seventeen years is too much history to throw away over some whorish single mother, and we don't want Georgia to realize that something's seriously wrong. As for trust… I'm not there yet, but I don't know. I've heard a lot of guys complaining about stupid bisexual boyfriends, and in three more months of lavish attention maybe I'll start to give a little."

"He's not off the hook, right?"

"God, no. I'm getting us a marriage counselor for Christmas."

"Good. I didn't get him anything."

"Emily did. He's still family, Dad, even if he is sleeping on the couch."

Part VI: Parting

23. 39, 70

muted voices, one soft, one rough

"Dad?"

"Yeah, Kurt?"

"Do you remember when I came out? When I was sixteen?"

"'Course I do, kid. That was the night of your big game."

chuckle

"You should have heard me afterwards. I annoyed the hell out of my entire section, 'cause I kept grabbing people and saying 'Hey, did you see that? That's my kid, the kicker, and he probably taught 'em that play, too. Didya see, that's my boy.'"

smile

"Yeah. Well, I almost didn't tell you. About being gay. I thought it would be so much easier to just leave high school and send you a save-the-date for my illegal wedding to a modern dancer in Hawaii."

"Wouldn't have surprised me. Might not have even gone--I hate Hawaii."

"Mm. I got through it because I kept telling myself that I could do anything, and that it would probably be the hardest thing I ever did."

powerful cough

"You should have known that you could tell me anything."

"I should have, but I didn't. And I was right. Even after you said you knew… it was still hard."

shaky breath

"But it got me through everything. Every break up I've ever gone through, fights with friends, when it seemed like Noah and I were never going to find a kid we could adopt, the day we put Evita down… I always thought that if I could risking making my dad not proud of me, then I could risk anything, because that would be the hardest."

the voice cracks, choked with tears

"And I was wrong. This-- this is the hardest-- I'm-- I don't want to say goodbye, Dad, please--"

withered hand squeezing another, younger one, faintly, stretching the IV. quiet crying from both men

"Hey, hey, kid, don't cry, okay? I'm not quite ready yet. I've got some time."

"How-- how--?"

pause

"Just stay here with me for a minute, son, please. Just a bit longer. I don't… y'know, when you were born I wouldn't leave the hospital unless your mom was awake? You were such a tiny baby, Kurt, and you had huge eyes so you always looked scared, and I didn't want you to think you were alone. I don't like being alone in hospitals, I… I don't want to be alone."

"You're not, Dad, stop-- let me get a doctor or something, please--"

"To do what? To say it, to say that I'm--?"

"Dad!"

"Shh, Kurt, not so loud. Don't want to get me too excited. Might just be too much."

pause

"Fuck, I'm still shit at cheering you up."

"You're not."

"I miss your mom. I mean I love Emily, but I still wish your mother had had a little more time with you."

"Daddy, Daddy, please--"

hug, sobbing

"I love you, Dad."

"I love you too, Kurt."