A/N Spoilers: This fic takes place sometime after Laryngitis but before Finn and Carole move into Hummel Palace (if they do – haven't seen that episode yet!).
Warnings: None yet, apart from another big dose of Kurt angst!
Songs mentioned in this chapter: Hey You (Madonna), 9 Crimes (Damian Rice) – both can be found on youtube.
Disclaimer: I don't own them – it kills me.
Kurt Hummel never gets sick; a fact he attributes partly to his superior immune system and strict vitamin regime, but mainly to his impeccable self-control when it came to exercise and food. For the past two years nothing that isn't organic and that has a GI of greater than 50 has been allowed into his house, let alone his stomach.
So when he feels a little spacey at Glee rehearsal on Monday, he refuses to acknowledge it as anything other than a reaction to the stress he's been under lately.
What with his father and Carole's whirlwind of a love affair, matched in intensity only by his father's new found enthusiasm for his surrogate son and new best buddy Finn Hudson, Kurt's stress levels have been significantly higher than usual.
Sleeping has also become something of a challenge and even the breathing exercises recommended by his Duncan Wong yoga DVD (recommended by Madonna herself) have failed to calm him down enough to sleep for the past few nights. Instead he has lain in bed with his eyes scrunched shut, trying not to think about what all this fretting is doing to his complexion.
So if the room continues to spin after Kurt has stopped then he is sure it is just because he is tired and stressed - he is most definitely not sick.
Mr. Schuester beats out the rhythm of Madonna's, "Hey You." as he calls out instructions to the group, "…and left-two-three and turn-two-three and back row forward and front row spin."
And with her 600-mega-watt show-smile fixed firmly in place, Rachel spins merrily into Kurt, and suddenly he finds himself flat on his back, staring up at the ceiling, the band still playing as the dancing comes to a grinding halt while the members of the Glee club desperately not to try to fall over each other.
"That's enough guys." Will gestures for the musicians to stop playing, "Kurt – you ok?"
Kurt struggles to a sitting position, still feeling a little light-headed, and it is Puck who offers him his hand and helps him back up to his feet. Kurt is unable to appreciate this slightly unorthodox gesture as the spinning is back and next thing he knows he's being pushed gently down into the chair that has suddenly appeared behind him. He sits there, head between his legs, unable to hear anything above the roaring in his ears.
As the pounding in his head recedes and his vision returns he is aware of soft voices murmuring above him and a hand rubbing gentle circles on his back.
He sits up slowly, to see his teacher kneeling in front of him, his brow wrinkled in concern.
"What happened?" Kurt asks, thickly.
"We lost you for a second." His teacher replies. "How are you doing Kurt?"
Kurt thinks about this for a moment and pauses long enough that Will shares an anxious look with Mercedes who is sitting next to Kurt, her hand still rubbing his back comfortingly.
"Kurt?" His best friend prompts him gently.
"I'm fine." Kurt replies, "We were dancing and then…" Kurt grimaces and suddenly it is all coming back to him. "Please tell me I did not just pass out in front of the entire Glee club?"
"Well, it wasn't the entire club." Mercedes tells him reassuringly, "Finn wasn't there – he has a baseball game."
And Kurt is quiet again because he already knows Finn has a baseball game – in fact, his father had spoken of nothing else that morning at breakfast while Kurt had tried to seem enthusiastic, smiling up at his dad through gritted teeth. Burt Hummel had been planning to shut up the shop early especially to go and see Finn play.
Kurt is startled out of his reverie as he feels a cool hand on his brow. It's Mr. Schuester who is asking Mercedes if she has Kurt's Dad's number on her cell.
"I'm fine Mr. Schue, really." Kurt gets to his feet carefully and is relieved to find that his legs are now behaving themselves.
"Kurt, I'm worried about you. You feel a little warm. I really don't think you should be driving home."
"But…" Kurt begins, but he is interrupted by Mercedes who gets to her feet and faces him, arms folded.
"I agree with Mr. Schuester." She says firmly, "Kurt, you know I love you but you look like hell and I'd hate to see that fine shirt you're wearing destroyed if you crash your car on the way home."
Kurt glares at her but she stares back defiantly. He sighs and turns back to his teacher, "Actually Mr. Schue, I'm not driving home today. My Dad is at Finn's baseball game and he's going to give me a ride home later."
Will looks relieved, "That's good." He grabs his jacket and starts heading for the door. He turns around as he reaches the door, "I don't want to see you at school tomorrow if you're not feeling better, ok?"
"Sure, Mr. Schuester." Kurt agrees easily.
He knows he will be at school tomorrow because he is Definitely Not Sick. Mercedes takes his arm and guides him gently out of the choir room. Kurt rolls his eyes at her behaviour, "I really am ok you know."
"Sure you are." They reach her locker and she turns to face him, studying his face anxiously, "I'm supposed to go meet my brother now but you still don't look good boy. You're whiter than Michael Jackson in a snow storm."
Kurt rolls his eyes, "I'm fine Mercedes. You know I never get sick. My attendance record is perfect."
"You missed a whole day last month." She reminds him.
"Yes but technically I was at school. I was just locked in the janitor's closet for six hours." He shudders at the memory, "I appreciate your concern Mercedes but I really am ok."
She studies his face for a moment and seems satisfied with what she finds there, "Ok," she agrees reluctantly, "but you got to promise me you'll tell your Dad what happened so he can look out for you tonight."
Kurt nods and waves her off dismissively. Before she leaves she turns him towards her and looks him in the eye. "If you don't tell him I will know. And then I will be forced to tell the entire school that you swooned when Noah Puckerman held your hand." Kurt grimaces at the thought, "Do we understand each other?" She asks sternly.
Kurt gives her a nervous smile and nods.
"Good." She pulls him into a quick hug, "You take care of yourself ok? Call me later."
Kurt heads to his locker to pick up his stuff before heading to the parking lot to wait for his dad and Finn.
Kurt leans against his dad's truck and wishes there was somewhere he could sit. He briefly considers throwing caution to the wind and just sitting on the ground next to the truck, but his pants are beige and Versace and almost painfully fabulous and however bad he feels Kurt can't bring himself to do it.
He hears them before he sees them. Finn's voice is excited and it reminds Kurt of his speedy monologues when he was high on the decongestant earlier that semester.
Kurt watches them approach, all smiles and excitement, and his heart aches.
"You got some serious talent son." Kurt's father tells Finn, "I was real proud of you today."
Finn beams at him, "Thanks, that means a lot."
"Hey kiddo." Burt Hummel claps his son on the shoulder as he makes his way towards the truck. "Good day at school?" He gets into the truck and shuts the door before Kurt has a chance to reply.
"Hey Kurt, how was rehearsal?" Finn asks, and Kurt watches as he opens the passenger door and gets into the truck next to his father like it's the most natural thing in the world.
Kurt stares after them for a moment feeling stricken, before climbing into the back seat, his relief at being able to rest his shaky legs temporarily masking the pain of having been demoted from the front of the truck to the back.
As his father starts the engine, Kurt leans his forehead against the window. The cool glass feels good against his skin and he closes his eyes.
"… should be fun, right Kurt?" Kurt's mind drifts back into focus and he sees Finn peering back at him, a lopsided grin on his face.
"Huh?" Is all Kurt can manage, and he hears his father's grunt of disapproval as he pulls into their driveway.
"Son, haven't you been listening?" He looks back at Kurt and sighs. Kurt sees a disappointed look in his eyes and feels himself tearing up. He blinks them back as his Dad continues, "Finn and I were wondering if you wanted to come see the game with us tomorrow."
Kurt tries to ignore the little voice in his head telling him that, if life made sense, it would be him and his father inviting Finn and not the other way around.
He realizes that the happy couple are waiting for an answer so he clears his throat, "Um, sure Dad. I'd love to."
He knows his dad is trying and he appreciates that, he really does. And Finn looks so pleased that he's agreed to come that the part of Kurt that is still hopelessly in love with the jock, does a little somersault.
They make their way inside and Carole is already there. The house smells of baking and a perfume that is not Kurt's mother's.
She smiles at them as they enter, "Hey guys, how was the game?"
"Great, Finn was a champ…" And they are off again.
Kurt feels sick and miserable and invisible. For a moment he stands and listens again to his father's enthusiastic (and somewhat exaggerated is Kurt's suspicions are correct) retelling of Finn's triumphs on the pitch.
And then he can stand it no more. Aside from the fact that he has already heard these stories several times during the car journey home, he is also starting to feel very strange indeed. In fact, his brain feels as though it has been taken out of his head, slushied and then tossed in the dumpster for good measure.
He slips out of the room, figuring that nobody will notice he's not there anyway, and heads up to his parents' room.
He pulls the dresser drawers open and sits down in front of it, taking comfort from the familiar smell. He takes his ipod out of his pocket and scrolls through until he finds the song he wants. Then he curls up in front of the dresser and closes his eyes and lets the music run through him and the tears fall down his face.
Leave me out with the waste
This is not what I do
It's the wrong kind of place
To be thinking of you
It's the wrong time
For somebody new
It's a small crime
And I got no excuse…
"Kurt?" It's Carole's voice.
Kurt opens his eyes and sees her tentatively poking her head around the door. He sits up quickly frantically trying to wipe away the evidence of his tears.
"Oh honey." And suddenly her arms are around him and she's soft and warm and she smells like home and Kurt wants nothing more than to lean into her and lose himself.
He allows himself to relax into her embrace and for a moment everything seems alright. And then everything seems all wrong. He suddenly realizes that he can no longer smell his mom's perfume, only Carole's. Somehow this seems like the ultimate betrayal.
He pulls back as if he has been stung, and scrambles to his feet, leaving Carole on the floor by the dresser, looking confused and a little hurt.
"Sorry Carole." His voice holds a slightly hysterical edge, "I'm ok. Really. Sorry if I worried you. It's just my allergies. Thank God for waterproof mascara, huh?" He gives a short, shrill laugh and backs away towards the door.
"I'm going down to my basement. Dinner smells really delicious but I already ate and I'm watching my figure. A moment on the lips, a life time on the hips and all. And apparently I have hips like a pear." He gives another awkward laugh, and now he is at the door, "Maybe you can plate some up for me and I'll have it later if I get hungry…"
"Kurt…" He hears her voice call after him, but he is gone, racing down the two flights of stairs to the safety of his basement as if his life depends on it.
A/N More coming soon…