Note: Despite all appearances, I do have every intention of finishing this. Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure the characters in this story have little resemblance to the ones we've been seeing in this season. :/ Ah, well.
Finn is a mess. He knows it.
Somewhere in the back of his mind, he remembers that he was maybe supposed to go home on thursday, barring any complications.
There must have been complications.
It seems like a lot of time is passing. The daisies on the windowsill of his room grow brown and then disappear altogether. The stack of newspapers and magazines grows taller.
The oxygen mask is still on his face. He actually thinks its nice now. It makes breathing feel a little less like he just ran wind sprints in full gear. He can even feel the sweat running from his forehead.
Sometime before or after that (it's really hard to tell) he wakes up feeling like his head's stuck in the dry, oppressive heat of an oven. All of the blankets are pulled up to his neck and he tries to move his arms to push them away.
His mother is leaning over him, calming his movements with one hand on his arm. She straightens the blankets over him and smiles sadly. "Hi, baby."
He wants to reach out to her, wants her to pull him out of this mess, out of his own body. The strangled, desperate noise that comes out of his throat scares him back into silence.
"It's okay." She's running her fingers over his hair. "It's gonna be okay."
He remembers so many times on the football field, getting totally sacked. In practice, or at games, it didn't matter. The feeling was the same. Lying flat on your back in the field, wind gone out of your lungs, every nerve in your body trying to catch up with what just happened. This is just like that ever suspended moment.
Somewhere along the way, it becomes a dream. Finn is on his feet, sprinting down the field after a faceless opponent. He reaches, lurches, feels his fingers brush the numbers on the player's back.
The field never ends.
He never catches up.
"Hey. Okay. This is kind of lame."
"You say everything is lame."
"No, I don't."
"Yeah, you do."
"Move guys." Some rustling.
"Okay. Hey, Finny. It's Puck. Um...I feel really dumb right now, but your mom said it would help if we visited and maybe brought something for you. Mike and Matt are here, too."
"Hey, man." A fist bumps his shoulder.
"Don't touch him."
"Chill out, Puckerman. I'm not going to break him."
Puck clears his throat. "Anyway, a lot of the team wanted to come, but I guess it's not good for a lot of people to be here right now, since we all have germs and stuff. So, we made this for you."
There's an unfurling of paper and then some hissed whispers about where to hang the thing.
"You can't see it, so I'm going to tell you that it says get well soon and there's a big number five in the middle and all the guys signed around the edges."
"Dude, even Tanaka signed it."
"No way. What'd he write?"
"It says 'feel better. maybe now you'll quit glee. -Coach Tanaka."
"Here's Karofsky: 'hey Finnessa, we didn't need a quarterback anyway."
"There's a smiley face after it."
"I don't think that makes it better."
"Hey, how come you didn't write anything, Puck?"
Puck scoffs. "Please. I don't write."
"We should probably go now."
"Yeah, okay. Finn, we're going to go because there's some other people here, too. We'll be back though. Don't go anywhere."
A hand pats at his foot. "Feel better, man."
The room is quiet again.
Artie's shoulders are at the same height as the bed.
When Finn squints, he looks like just a floating, talking head. It's creepy.
"Hi, Finn." Tina is on his other side.
"He has no idea we're here, does he?" Artie says.
"I don't think so."
Finn tries to keep up with their conversation, but his eyes aren't moving where he wants them to, like they've come loose in his head.
Artie maneuvers his wheelchair up as close to the bed as he can. He holds up a raggedy, gray, one-eyed, stuffed monkey. "This is Miles. I think you should have him." He reaches up to tuck the monkey against Finn's side. "After my accident, I was in the hospital a lot and Miles always made me feel better. I don't really need him anymore, so I figured you could use him now."
Tina is smiling at him. "That's really sweet."
Artie points at himself. "Marshmallow."
Finn kind of wants to roll his eyes, because it's like watching Burt and his mom get all gooey with each other. But, at the same time, it's nice to see two people happy together in almost any situation. He and Quinn had never quite been like that. Their might have been love there, but there was a lot of bitterness, too.
Tina touches his arm for a moment. "We're going to go now. I hope you feel better soon. Everyone is thinking about you."
Artie lifts Finn's hand like he's a doll and bumps their knuckles together. "Get well soon. If you stay here much longer, I might actually get a solo."
"Oh, please." Tina pulls his chair away from the bed and turns him toward the door.
"What? It's true."
"Maybe we could do some duets."
"See you soon, Finn," Artie calls back into the room.
The door closes softly behind them.
When Finn comes awake to find Rachel on one side of the bed and his mother on the other, he's pretty sure it's a nightmare. Rachel is sitting with a very straight spine, hands folded in her lap, while his mother is holding his hand.
Rachel has met Carol before, at sectionals, at a random parent-teacher conference, and maybe a few other times in passing. Still, Finn is pretty sure they've never actually had a conversation.
"I've done a lot of research," Rachel is saying. "And I truly believe that this illness has one of the best prognoses, considering the possible effects. In ten years, I'm sure this will just be a blip on the radar of life."
Carol smiles politely. "That's very nice."
Finn knows that his mother doesn't think about things the way that Rachel is saying. If he could, he would explain to Rachel now that, although very intelligent, his mom isn't technical. She became a widow at twenty-six and raised Finn all on her own and kept the house and worked all the time. She did it with grace and kindness and not by using phrases like 'radar of life.'
Next to Carol, Rachel seems like a dream, full of bubbles and sunshine and nothing concrete.
Carol is a rock, an island of calm.
Finn can't help but love them both.
The world has turned to shades of gray, light and dark with bursts of color. The blanket feels like itchy, uneven bricks laid across Finn's skin.
It's hard to focus, but Finn can still make out Mercedes standing next to the bed. Quinn is shifting nervously behind her.
"We brought you something." Mercedes brings a vase of blooming, yellow roses from behind her back. As bright as the sun, they remind Finn of the dresses the girls wore during thier first mash-up. "Kurt said your room could use a little sprucing up and we figured these would do the trick, right Quinn?"
Quinn steps up to the edge of the bed. When she speaks, her expression doesn't change. "Right. Very cheerful."
Finn thinks, thank you. When he tries to say it, his mouth moves, but he's pretty sure he doesn't make a sound.
"It's okay." Mercedes smiles pleasantly. "You don't have to say anything. I'm just going to put them on the table here where you can see them." She moves away for a moment.
Quinn is left hovering at the bedside. After a moment, she leans down over him and kisses his forehead. Mouth near his ear, she whispers, "I'm so sorry." When she stands back up, she's definitely crying.
Finn never did like to see her upset. He wants to reach out to her, but all that happens is a twitch of his fingers. He's never been more frustrated or confused in his life.
Mercedes comes back and links her arm with Quinn's. "Do you want to go?"
Quinn shakes her head. "We should-we should pray first."
Finn never thought much about praying. He can't really tell the difference between it and just trying to think good things all the time (which is what his mom always told him to do).
Quinn and Mercedes take his and each other's hands and close thier eyes. Finn closes his eyes, too. He isn't quite sure what they're saying, but in the quiet of the hospital room, he thinks that maybe he feels something. It could be his imagination, but it seems like it's a little easier to breathe and that the warmth of thier hands is spreading through his limbs.
He thinks that maybe there could be something to this praying business after all.
Finn is awake. Not totally so, but more than he has been in a while.
Kurt is perched on the bed by Finn's hip; his feet are on the chair. He's talking and flipping through a magazine. "I told them to go home for a while since I do know how to use a cell phone and all. I mean, yeah, they're freaking out a little."
He stops for a moment, squinting at something in the magazine. "Anyway, football practice was terrible today. I couldn't focus. Plus, it was amazingly humid and I was sweating like a 500 pound gorilla in heat. I'm pretty sure that I could feel my pores clogging. I'm going to have to spend an extra half hour on my facial routine tonight just to be sure."
"Everyone says hello and asks how you're doing. I know you didn't really want anyone to know you were sick before, but it's a pretty hard secret to keep when no one has seen you anywhere all summer and you're not at football. Just so you know, Puck told them, not me. Don't be mad though. He did it in the middle of breaking Azimio's nose after he asked if you'd quit football to join a gay dance troupe. Which, by the way, actually sounds like a great idea right now."
Finn gets a hand to move and is reaching for Kurt's arm.
Kurt flips the magazine closed and stands up to toss it on the table.
Finn lets his hand fall back to the bed. He watches, frustrated, as Kurt makes his way over to the window. It's dark outside, but there's a glow from the halogen lights that line the parking lot.
"Oh, also, I hope you're not upset, but we've kind of moved back to our house. My house. The Hummel house. Whatever. It's confusing now. Your mom didn't like being at your house-the other house-the Hudson house without you. I have to admit, for such a small place, it did feel very, very...empty. Sleeping in your room without you there made me feel a bit creepy."
"It's strange, the way that things have gone for us. The fact that I can even say 'us' is strange. You'd better get well, Finn. No one would survive without you."
Kurt turns away from the window and begins to dig through his bag. When he stands up, he has a dollar in his hand. "I'm going to go get a coffee. I'll be right back."
Finn never hears him return.
The next time Finn wakes, he feels something he hasn't in quite some time. Clarity.
He blinks and the room around him actually becomes clear. Mercedes and Quinn's yellow roses sit on the table by the television. Artie's monkey is on the nightstand. The football team's banner is stuck to the wall beside the window.
The door of the room is all the way open and there is a handmade sign taped above the plastic room number. A glittering gold star covers most of the page and beneath that, 'Finn' in Rachel's looping cursive.
Finn is exhausted and ill. He's confused and scared. He can hardly speak and he doesn't know how long he's been in this weird sleeping, almost awake state. He can't even help when tears start to run from the corner's of his eyes.
"Hey, look who's here." Burt is standing at the foot of the bed, holding a coffee.
Kurt lays down his homework and Carol stands up from her chair to lean over him. "Hey." It doesn't take long for her to notice that something's wrong. She grabs a tissue from the nightstand to wipe at his temples. "Hey. Don't do that. Everything's okay. Are you hurting? Do you feel sick?"
He manages to shake his head. No, that's not the problem. Then, he nods. Yes, he feels sick. Yes, everything hurts.
He looks around at all three of them and then back up at his mother. When he tries to speak, he actually makes a sound that doesn't sound like a dying cat. "Mom."
Kurt is clutching his notebook to his chest. "I think he's scared."
Carol takes this information in stride, still dabbing away the tears. "That's okay. Don't be scared, baby."
"You're getting better." Kurt says it like an offering. "That's what the doctors told us."
Burt doesn't say anything. He just reaches down and settles his hand on Finn's ankle.
Kurt lets go of his book to wrap the fingers of one hand around Finn's palm.
Carol holds his face in her hands, mindful of tubes and wires and other grossness, and says, "Everything is going to be fine."
Finn can actually believe it.