Disclaimer: Glee belongs to Ryan Murphy and Fox, not me.
Kurt fidgeted anxiously. "You're going to do great," his dad said. "Don't be nervous."
"It's a little hard to not be nervous, Dad," he said, staring wide-eyed at the people milling past the DMV counters. "This is only the most crucial exam I've only taken in my life."
"You've been around cars your whole life. You'll nail it," Burt reassured him.
A very large woman in a very pink sweater lumbered out from the back. "Kurt Hummel?" she bellowed.
"You're up, kiddo," Burt said, clapping his son on his narrow shoulder. "Good luck."
Kurt stood up, the keys to his father's pickup dangling from his fingers. "If I fail this test, this will be the worst birthday ever," he said.
"Worse than your ninth?"
"Oh, much worse."
Kurt spun on his heel and sashayed towards the front door; the large woman followed him. Burt twisted around in his chair to look out the window. He watched his son stroll to the car and climb into the driver's seat.
Burt turned back around, smiling to himself. Sixteen years ago today he had taken his little wife to the hospital and held her hand through twelve hours of active labor. It has hard to believe that that much time had flown by. It seemed like it was just yesterday that Kurt was just a toddler in his mother's arms.
Kurt pushed the plate away. "No," he said haughtily.
"Sorry, kiddo, that's what we're having for dinner," Burt said, absently shoving food in his mouth as he flipped through the newspaper.
The impetuous four-year-old banged his small fist on the table. "No," he repeated. "Daddy, I don't want it."
"Then you can go to bed."
Kurt blinked. "But Daddy, I'm hungry," he said.
Burt put the paper down and slid the plate back towards his son. "If you're hungry, you can eat that," he said patiently. "If you don't want to eat it, you can go to bed."
Kurt crossed his arms. "I'm going to wait for Mama," he announced.
"Fine," Burt said. "Mama's going to tell you the same thing."
They sat in their stand-off for the next thirty minutes, Kurt scowling at his ravioli and Burt calmly reading the paper. The clock chimed a quarter past eight when the front door opened. "Burt? I'm home."
"We're in the kitchen, Mollie," Burt called.
His petite wife danced into the kitchen, her curling hair bouncing on her shoulders. "I can't stand parent-teacher night," she said cheerfully. "I teach elementary art, what do those parents expect of me?"
She set her bag on the floor, kissed her husband, and held out her arms to her small son. Kurt stood up on his chair and lunged for her arms. "There's my darling boy," Mollie sighed, kissing him on the cheek. "Have you been good for your dad?"
"Someone didn't want to eat his dinner," Burt said. "I told him that he would eat what I made him, or he could go to bed."
"Mama, I'm not in the mood for ravioli," Kurt complained.
Mollie held him on her hip. "Not in the mood?" she smiled. She smoothed his hair away from his forehead with the expert touch only a mother could manage."Then what are you in the mood for?"
"I want chicken nuggets," he announced.
Mollie laughed. "I suppose I can make some for you," she said.
Burt lowered the paper. "I thought we promised to back each other up," he said.
"I know, but he's hungry," Mollie said.
"You're going to spoil him," Burt warned.
Mollie hugged Kurt tightly. "I can't help it," she said. "I can't say no to those big blue eyes." She set him down and held out her hand. "Come on, baby. If I'm going to make you something special, then you're going to help me."
Kurt grabbed her hand, launching into a story about his day as they walked into the kitchen. Burt shook his head, but he smiled despite himself.
"Dad! Dad! Dad!"
Burt looked up from his shipping reports as Kurt danced into the DMV. "I passed! I passed!" he cheered.
"Good for you," Burt said. "I said you could do it."
"Mr. Hummel, go to line D for your license photo," the large woman in the pink sweater droned.
"Just a second, just a second," Kurt said, waving his hand dismissively. He rummaged in his messenger bag for a small mirror and a tube of cherry chapstick; applied it expertly, practiced a few bright smiles, and dashed into the indicated line.
Burt shook his head. He loved that boy, he really did, but sometimes he had no clue of what was going on in his head. A normal boy would have strutted in like he owned the place, flashing a grin and a thumbs up. Only Kurt would bust in like that.
He watched as Kurt sat down in front of the camera, smoothed his already impeccable hair back, and flash a bright, smug smile.
I wonder what Mollie would make of him, he wondered.
Mollie would know exactly what make of him. She had always been able to reach him when Burt couldn't, always saying the right thing and doing the right thing and knowing precisely how to cheer him up or calm him down.
The kid was almost grown up. They'd almost made it to the homestretch.
Burt opened the oven and poked at the chicken tentatively with a pair of tongs. How do you tell if it's ready? he wondered. It's been in there long enough, I guess it's okay.
He grabbed a set of red and yellow potholders and pulled the roasting pan out of the oven. "Kurt," he called. "Come up here. Dinner's ready."
He narrowly avoided scorching his finger on the metal pan as he dropped it on the kitchen table. "Yikes," he mumbled to himself. "Aw, yikes."
He glanced around. "Kurt?"
No answer. He dropped the potholders, strode over to the basement, and opened the door. "It's time for dinner," he said.
Burt turned back to the kitchen. He had never tried actually cooking before, but they had finally depleted the dishes brought by concerned friends and neighbors and it was high time that he fed his kid something that didn't come out of a can or a greasy wrapper. He grabbed the glass bowl of mashed potatoes- somehow he had managed to make lumps out of dehydrated potato flakes- and set it on the table next to the chicken.
Kurt hid in the doorway, half hidden in the shadows. "Come on and sit down," Burt said. "You don't want it to get cold."
"I'm not really hungry, Dad," Kurt said quietly.
"You've got to eat something," Burt said. "Come on."
Kurt sat down at the table. He looked pale, and his eyes were red-rimmed. "I guess it's Friday," he said.
"Yeah, I guess it is," Burt said. He cleared his throat. "I made chicken. Hope it's as good as…I hope it's good."
He picked up a knife and carved through the chicken. The knife slid through the browned skin, through a thin layer of white roasted meat…and then pink.
Burt stared at it. Despite following the recipe, despite accidentally leaving the chicken in too long, it was completely raw.
There was nothing to do but laugh, and he did. He plunked down in his seat at the table, threw his head back, and howled. Then he heard the best sound he'd heard in weeks. Kurt laughed too, in a high-pitched, almost melodic giggle. The two remaining Hummels sat at the kitchen table, staring at the oozing chicken, and cracked up.
Burt's sides hurt as he took off his baseball cap and rubbed his forehead, still chuckling. "For pete's sake," he said. "You'd think I'd be able to handle a stupid chicken." He looked up and stopped.
Kurt wasn't laughing anymore. He looked panic-stricken. "Dad, is that okay?" he said.
"Is what okay?" he asked.
"We're laughing," Kurt said. "Is that okay?"
Burt set his hat down on the table, only then realizing that he'd flipped the forks and spoons when putting out the table settings. "It's okay," he said.
"We shouldn't be able to laugh," Kurt said, his eyes wide and luminous like a deer caught in headlights. "It's only been two weeks. Mom's only…"
Kurt clamped his lips shut and his chin wobbled. Burt's eyes smarted. "Hey," he said gently, reaching over and putting his hands on his son's small knees. "What do you say we get a pizza, huh?" A tear trailed down Kurt's round cheek; Burt wiped it away with his thumb. "Then we can watch one of those Disney movies you like so much. How does that sound?"
"I would prefer it if we could watch The Little Mermaid," Kurt whispered.
"Whatever you want." Kurt slid off his chair and reached out his arms to be held. Burt picked him up without a second thought.
"Dad, can I drive home? Can I?"
Kurt bounced up and down on his way to the truck like he was six instead of sixteen. "Are you sure you want to drive the pickup?" Burt asked. "You're a decent driver, but you really hate driving it."
"I know, it's an awful rust bucket," Kurt said. "No offense. But really, Dad, I have my license now. I'm an adult!"
"You won't be an adult until you're eighteen," Burt reminded him. "And you can't drink till you're twenty-one."
"Details, details, Dad," Kurt said. His excitement was practically oozing out of his ears. "I can drive! I'm mobile!"
Burt shook his head. "Fine," he said. "You can drive."
Kurt clapped his hand and ran for the driver's seat. Burt followed at a more sedate pace. His son leaped into the truck, slammed the door, revved the engine, and bopped the horn.
"Easy, Kurt, easy," he said, settling into the passenger seat and clicking the seatbelt. "Okay. Take us on out of here."
Kurt put the truck in reverse and backed out smoothly. "At this moment, I don't even care that this will be my only conveyance," he said. "At least I can drive it on my own. You don't have to wait around to pick me up after school."
"Yeah, yeah," Burt said. "Take us to the shop. I've got to pick something up before we can go home."
"Kurt, you home?"
"In the sitting room, Dad."
Burt shook his head. Why can't he call it a den like everyone else? he thought. He found his son sitting on the couch with his legs tucked under him.
"How was work?" Kurt asked.
"Good, good," Burt said. "What're you reading?"
"A magazine," he answered idly. "I thought I would read something fun before school starts up again and free time becomes a thing of the past."
Burt sat down next to him. "You looking forward to high school?" he asked.
"Of course, Dad," Kurt said, glancing up from his magazine. His facial expression looked curiously like the same his mother had when she was being sassy…but boys couldn't be sassy, could they? "Middle school went so well, of course high school will be just the same, won't it?"
Burt shifted uncomfortably. Sarcasm made him anxious. And middle school had been pretty awful, no matter how Kurt had tried to disguise it. The kid had been miserable.
He leaned over his fourteen-year-old son's shoulder. Kurt flipped through his magazine, skimming over articles and mostly looking at pictures of clothing- fancy jeans, elaborate jackets, and well-chosen accessories.
Burt glanced from the glossy pages to his son. Kurt wore baggy jeans and a slim-fitting gray tee shirt. He absently picked at the cuff of one of his white socks, as if it annoyed him.
Burt cleared his throat and rummaged through his back pocket. "Listen, Kurt," he said. "You're pretty much a man now. You don't need me making your decisions." He pulled out his wallet and tugged several ratty bills out. "Might as well use this for some school clothes, I guess."
Kurt took the money, stunned. "But Dad, this is-" "I know what I'm doing," he said. He ruffled his son's hair fondly. "You're a good kid."
"Th-thanks, Dad," Kurt stammered.
Burt patted him on the knee. "Dinner at seven?"
"Yeah, sure," Kurt said, looking from the money in his hand to the designer clothes in his magazine. Burt smiled and left the room. It was worth postponing his fishing trip to see that look in his kid's eyes.
Burt swung open the door to the garage, the bells jangling merrily above him. "I'll be there in a second," a voice called from the back.
"Just me, Dave," he called.
His assistant manager leaned out of the back room. "Oh, hey, Burt," he said. "You're here for the-"
"The inventory paperwork?" Burt interrupted. He went into the back room and rummaged through his file cabinets.
"You gonna give it to him?" Dave asked in a low voice.
"You're gonna spoil that kid."
Burt shrugged. Kurt shoved his hands in his pockets and plunked down on his dad's office chair. "Do we have to stay long?" he asked.
"No, not really," Burt said. He leaned around Kurt, spinning lazily in the chair, and filed the shipping report away. "I have some cars I have to check on. Come on."
Kurt reluctantly left the chair, still slowly revolving. "What kind of cars? Anything interesting?" he asked.
"Not really," he said. "A Chevy pickup, a Ford sedan…oh, and that one."
Kurt stopped in his tracks. "Oh, that's so pretty," he sighed, staring at the shiny black Lincoln Navigator.
"You like that one?" Burt asked.
"I love it," Kurt said.
"Good. It's yours."
All the color drained from Kurt's face. He opened and closed his mouth a few times, but no sound came out. "You're not serious," he finally said.
"Of course I am," he said. "You need a car of your own. Might as well get a good one."
"A good one, yes, but a Navigator?" Kurt breathed.
Burt grinned. "Happy birthday, kiddo."
Kurt flung his arms around his father. Burt hugged his son tightly. "Thanks, Dad," he said.
Burt patted him on the back. "Drive us home, son," he said.
Sheesh, it's hard to write Burt Hummel. And it's hard to write Kurt in character. I guess...Gleefics are hard.
In any case, I was wondering about how Kurt manages to have a fancy bedroom, an awesome car, and a designer wardrobe. The answer? He's spoiled rotten. But in a good way, I guess.
Let's hope this Glee fanfiction kick keeps up! Four oneshots down, and a multichapter in the works! Awesome sauce.