Disclaimer: Glee belongs to Ryan Murphy and Fox, not me.
Kurt fumbled with the key; his hand shook too much to put it in the lock. "Are you sure you want to stay here?" Emma asked softly.
"Yes," he said, perhaps a little too emphatically. He jammed the key in the lock and twisted it. "I'll be fine."
The door swung open into the dark, empty living room. It felt colder inside the house than outside. Summoning up what he could of his typical bravura, he switched on the lights and hung his messenger bag on the coatrack with a sweeping gesture. "Can I get you anything? Herbal tea? Decaf coffee?" he inquired.
Mr. Schue and Emma stood awkwardly in the doorway. "No, thanks, we're fine," Mr. Schue said. Kurt shrugged and pulled off his coat.
"Listen, Kurt," Emma said in a small voice. "I don't think it would be okay for you to be here alone. Isn't there somewhere you could go to? Or someone who could some stay with you?"
"I don't really have any other options," he said, smiling brightly. "I don't have any family in town."
"You could come stay with me," Mr. Schue offered. "I've got a pretty comfortable couch."
Kurt closed his eyes. "I'd really rather stay in my own house, if you don't mind," he said. Emma opened her mouth to protest. "I'm used to being alone. I'll be fine."
Emma seemed like she was going to continue the argument, but Mr. Schue took her by the elbow. "Okay," he said. "Call us if you need anything, all right?"
He nodded. "Thanks for the ride," he said. They left in silence, and he closed the door behind them.
He leaned his head against the door and listened for the sound of Mr. Schue's car pulling out of the drive. The silence in the house was suddenly overwhelming.
Kurt turned around and flipped on every light source in the room. Then he yanked the cabinet door on the entertainment center wide open and rummaged through it, tossing DVDs of John Wayne films and movie musicals onto the floor. The box was in the very back- out of sight, out of mind, he supposed- but he pulled it out and ripped the lid off. He grabbed the first tape he could find and shoved it in the VCR.
The television crackled to life, first with grainy black-and-white snow and garbled sound, but then it settled down. Kurt backed up to the couch, his eyes glued to the screen, and curled up in the corner.
His mother laughed. He shuddered as the familiar but forgotten sound sent chills up and down his spine. "Open this one, baby," she urged.
He glanced down at the empty VHS box in his hand. His mother's round cursive spelled out KURT'S SEVENTH BIRTHDAY on the label. He remembered that birthday.
His mother held him on her lap as he carefully picked away the tape on the wrapping paper. She laughed again. "We can get more paper," she said. "Go on and open it!"
She brushed an errant curl out of her eyes. The spring sunshine made her dark brown hair glow, and she was wearing a blue dress with little white boats printed on it, and gold buttons on the front. He vaguely remembered picking it out for her.
The wrapping paper fell away and he lifted the lid. "What are these?" he asked, holding up the contents.
"They're coveralls," his dad said from behind the camera, his voice sounding oddly loud. "That way you can come help me in the shop. Mom made 'em for you, since she knows you don't like getting messy."
He slid off his mother's lap and ran to his father; the camera tilted down to a fuzzy shot of the grass as Burt hugged him. "They have my name on them too!" he said.
"Of course," his mother said. The camera tilted back up and came into focus.
"Mollie, should we get the big present out for him?" his dad said.
She giggled and took the camera; the shot bounced like a ship at sea. "Close your eyes, baby," she said. Seven-year-old Kurt obeyed as his father wheeled a shining new bicycle towards them. "All right…open them."
He did. "A bicycle! Mom, it's pretty," he said. He paused. "But I don't know how to ride one."
Burt was beaming so hard it looked like his face was going to split in two. "I'll teach you," he promised. "You'll like it."
The tape kept rolling. Kurt stared dully at the television, switching the tapes when each one ended, watching the old memories roll by. He didn't seem to notice anything else, until all of a sudden there was a hand on his shoulder.
He leaped up off the couch. "What are you doing here?" he demanded, his voice slurred from sleep.
"Relax," Quinn said, pushing on his shoulder and pressing him back down.
He blinked. "Am I dreaming?"
"No," she said gently. "I just wanted to make sure you were okay."
"How'd you get in here?" he asked.
She raised and lowered one shoulder. "You didn't bother to lock the door," she said.
He leaned back and rubbed the sides of his nose. "I guess I fell asleep," he mumbled. He glanced up. "Why are you checking on me?"
"One of the Cheerios at practice said that the gay kid got called out of her French class and he never came back," she explained wryly. She sat down next to him on the couch. "I heard it was your dad. I wanted to make sure you were okay."
"Thank you for your concern, Quinn, but I'm holding up just fine," he said.
"Is that why you're curled up in the fetal position watching old home movies while hugging a pillow?" she said, arching an eyebrow. He could feel his cheeks flushing. "Look, have you had anything to eat since you got home?" He frowned. "I don't…no. I don't think so."
"I'll get you something," she said, standing up gracefully. "Stay here. I'll be right back."
"Okay," he stammered as she left the living room. He huddled into the couch, still unconsciously clutching his pillow to his chest, and stared at the television without quite realizing what he was watching.
It was going to be a repeat of his mother's last days, he realized. He hated those memories. The church ladies kept stopping by with poorly put-together casseroles and words of condescending consolation for his father. They would ask about Mollie's little boy, and pat him on the head and tell him his mother was in a better place.
No, he had wanted to shout at them. Her place is here! She belongs here!
But he kept his mouth shut, and let them make themselves feel better by offering their placating words and apologies for his loss. As soon as they were gone he would hide himself away and try to imagine would life was going to look like now that Mom wasn't going to come back after all.
It was doomed to happen again. He would have to drag himself to another funeral- this time alone. Everyone would give him those sickly pained smiles across the room, because they were too scared to talk to him. People would tell him "it was for the best" and "he's in a better place."
And who was he kidding. He was sixteen. Legally, no one would let him live alone. He would have to go live with a relative. He shuddered at the thought of living in Aunt Mildred's spare room for the next two years.
It wouldn't matter, though. Nothing would matter. His father would be dead. He would be entirely alone. No father, no mother, no family, no nothing. Just a scrawny gay orphan, all by himself. Fantastic.
"What?" he snapped.
"Here." Quinn handed him a bowl and a fork. "I don't really know what you like to eat, but I figured everyone likes spaghetti," she said.
He peered into the bowl. "Hm. Whole wheat noodles," he said. "I usually don't eat carbs after 3pm, but I suppose I can make an exception." He took a bite.
Quinn sat down next to him. "Can I get you anything?" she asked.
"Oh, you've done plenty," he said dismissively. "I'm fine."
Quinn tucked her legs underneath her. "So you're watching home movies," she observed.
"I haven't watched them in a while, and I figured now was as good a time as any," he said offhandedly.
They both watched the screen. "Is that your mother?" she asked. He nodded. "She's beautiful."
"She's dead," he said shortly. "She passed away when I was eight."
He turned back to the screen. His father held the camera, walking backwards as he filmed Mollie walking up the front steps to the house. "Welcome home, son," Burt said.
His mother beamed at the camera, hugging a bundle of blue and white blankets to her chest. "I can't believe we get to keep him," she said.
She navigated the living room and made her way to the stairs. "Of course we get to keep him," Burt said. "What, you think we could send him back?"
He backed into the master bedroom, zooming in on the baby things set up in the corner. Mollie sat down slowly in the rocking chair and settled the baby on her lap. "Isn't he perfect?" she sighed.
"I think every parent thinks their baby is perfect," Burt said. "But yeah…he's pretty perfect." The camera zoomed in on Mollie and the baby. She smiled, angelic and distracted, as she stroked her fingertip along the curve of her baby son's cheek and the tip of his nose. "He's beautiful," she whispered.
Burt bent over his wife and kissed her gently; the camera shook a little bit. The baby yawned and Mollie rocked him, humming under her breath.
"Yeah?" he said, his voice thick.
"Do you ever get mad at your mother for leaving you?" Quinn asked softly.
He watched his mother on the screen. "Sometimes, I suppose," he confessed. He rubbed his eyes. "I knew that if she had any choice, she would have stayed. But…she couldn't." He glanced at Quinn out of the corner of his eyes. "Why do you ask?"
Quinn stared at the television. Tears trickled down her cheeks. "I'm scared that Beth…that my baby will be mad at me for leaving her behind," she said.
Kurt sat up straighter. Quinn hugged her arms around herself. "I didn't want to leave her behind," she whispered. "I did what was best for her, but all I want to do is pick her up and hug her and…and…"
Kurt leaned over and rested his head on her shoulder. Quinn made a soft choking sound, but she placed her hands on the top of his head. Gingerly she stroked her fingers through his hair.
He remembered his mother smoothing his hair like that when he was young, especially when she was tucking him into bed at night. He turned his forehead against her neck as his eyes started to water.
"It's not that I'm mad at her," he whispered. "I just…I wish she didn't have to go." Quinn twisted from her sitting position and wrapped her arms around him. "If my dad goes too, I don't know what I'm going to do."
She pressed her cool cheek against her hot forehead. "It'll be okay," she murmured. Quinn hugged him tightly as he sobbed silently into her shoulder. "Everything will work out."
The tape played until it crackled into the soft dull roar of snow. They sat there together in the blazing light of the living room lamps, both of them crying- the boy without a parent and the mother without a child.
Sweet mother, did I really just write angsty Glee fanfiction?
I watched Glee on and off until the new season started. Then I had to watch the first season to refresh my memory...then I had to get all of the music...then I realized that I adored Kurt and want to put him in my pocket and keep him forever. So that's that.
I have a feeling I might write some more...probably Kurt-centric. Anyone have suggested for what they'd like to see?