Coming to Terms
Rating: K+ (Lots of Burt introspection and Kurt getting hit on, which leads to some mildly violent visions on Burt's part)
Summary: Burt loves his son, it's a well-known fact, but he's also admitted that the road to acceptance is long and difficult. This is just another bump along the way, and he'll get over it, eventually . . . hopefully.
Disclaimer: I do not own, nor claim to own, anything Glee related (such as the fabulous Hummel duo) in what follows.
Spoiler Alert: No spoilers that I can think of. If you've watched anything with my favourite father/son combo, then you'll understand this, no problem.
Note: So I have two stories in progress, and this is what I post instead . . . I am so sorry! I apologize, with much grovelling, to all of you who are waiting for updates, but I do have an explanation – if you're interested, read the Author's Note at the end.
Coming to Terms
Burt figured this wasn't hell, because he wasn't dead and there wasn't any Kenny G type muzak playing in the background. But he was pretty sure that one of the nine circles involved this, so maybe he had dropped dead and just not realized it.
If he wasn't in hell, then he would just have to earn his place down below by ripping the head off that damned hippie trying to grope his son.
God freaking damn it. Kurt must have planned this. Well, maybe not the groping, but this, being here, at the universities at the perfect time – for Kurt. Not for Burt. This was bad for Burt. Very, very bad.
His kid was amazing and talented, and Burt did have that blind spot that all fathers had for their sons, but he could be objective if he forced himself. The plain truth was that Kurt could be sneaky, even manipulative, if there was something he really, really wanted. Burt wasn't talking about puppy eyes and pouting because those were Kurt's most basic weapons of manipulation, and considering that Burt had still taken away his car after the whole tiara thing, they didn't work all the time. But his son had talked him into increased credit card limits and renovations that involved a walk-in closet the size of Burt's master bedroom.
Now, apparently, it was all about touring out of town colleges during what Burt had just recently found out was Gay Pride week. This was Kurt's attempt at scoping out some gay college boys. Which, fine, whatever, his kid liked boys. But these were not boys. These were practically men (with the mentality of boys, which was worse), and apparently, they liked Kurt back, a lot.
Kurt had walked onto the campus, just as this particular university's Gay Pride rally was breaking up, and Burt swore that half the guys stopped and did a double take as his kid strutted on in to find the Office of Admissions (leaving Burt behind in his dust). He knew that he shouldn't have let Kurt leave the house in those jeans. His son owned a lot of ridiculously tight pants, but these jeans looked like they had been tattooed on, and he was wearing those damn combat boots that, for some reason, made the whole thing so much worse.
Hippie dude was the fifth guy to approach Kurt that day.
The first two had just walked up and asked if Kurt was a freshman, right off the bat. For a second, Kurt seemed totally surprised by the question. He did that little over the shoulder look to make sure they were actually talking to him and not someone else. Then he'd answered slowly, still sounding unsure, and as soon as the guys heard he was only sixteen, they took one look at Burt, who was scowling and tensing up, and bolted. Burt was contemplating wrapping the trip up right then and there, but Kurt had grabbed his forearm, smiling happily, and lead him further into the campus.
Then came the third guy: Brad.
Burt had stopped to study a map of the grounds and Kurt had wandered a little further up to read the various bulletins posted. This Brad jackass, a really tall, black-haired, blue-eyed guy who must have been at least a junior, just popped up and introduced himself with absolutely no warning.
"So, you must be touring schools," he'd greeted Kurt warmly, grasping his hand in a handshake that had been going on for two solid minutes. Exactly. Burt had been counting the seconds. Once the jackass had passed the five second mark, Burt had jumped straight from vague contemplations to deciding exactly how he was going to remove him from Kurt's person – at the time dismemberment seemed to be the best choice.
Kurt smiled shyly and a little . . . not coyly though maybe there had been some eyelash fluttering, but he could have had something in his eye. That was Burt's story and he was sticking to it. "Yeah. I'm not graduating for another couple of years, but I like to have my plans in place early."
"Yeah? Well, as President of the Drama Club, I'm telling you right now, that you definitely have great . . . presence," he'd said with a cheesy grin.
Kurt stared a bit, looking distinctly unimpressed. "That's . . . nice of you to say."
"I could give you a nifty little private tour of our auditorium, if you'd like." As he spoke, he had stepped closer, finally letting go of Kurt's hand (something which had almost disappointed Burt – he'd just worked up enough rage to be able to rip the asshole's wrist off), but standing close enough to make Kurt have to crane his neck to look up at him. It took Burt another second to fully register the jackass' words. Oh hell no.
Burt had just taken his first stomp over there when Kurt took a small step back, shaking his head. "I appreciate the offer, but I'm here with my dad and we're just having a quick look around."
Brad had looked over Kurt's shoulder to see Burt, arms crossed, eyes staring coldly – Burt liked to think that he looked murderous. He certainly felt that way. The jackass' smile fell, and he wisely decided to cut his losses.
"Well, all right, then. Hope to see you around in couple of years though." He had actually winked as he headed off.
Kurt turned to his father, eyebrows raised, but he didn't say anything, he just offered up a half-smile and kept on reading bulletins. The flush at the back of his neck gave him away though.
After that, Burt had really, really wanted to get gone. That, more than anything else, had brought home the fact that his son was gay. It didn't change how much Burt loved the kid, but he hadn't really considered what it would feel like to watch Kurt with another boy. Was he supposed to slap Kurt on the back and send him off with these college asswipes with nothing more than a smile and a thumbs up? Hell fucking no. It was an immediate, innate response – every natural instinct in him screamed to the contrary.
But he didn't think he was supposed to hover and protect him like he would a daughter in the same situation; a good example of this would be his wife, who had never needed his protection – she'd punched out other men for the same crap that Brad had just pulled on Kurt. Burt had smiled to himself, remembering fondly the sight of her shaking out her hand, glowering as some handsy asshole tried to pick himself off the floor and save face.
What was he supposed to do? He couldn't handle this right now. Kurt was only sixteen.
Right. Kurt was only sixteen.
So, he was perfectly within his rights to protect him from these older douchebags.
But he would try to be good. Brad had been a dick, but he hadn't actually tried anything, not really.
Burt's resolve was tested not ten minutes later when another asshole (guy number four), who looked like he might be flying high on something, approached Kurt and said with no preamble, "God damn, you're pretty."
Kurt had stared, mouth dropping open. It seemed to take him a moment to gather his thoughts. "Thank you. You dress like a preppy Zack Morris from Saved by the Bell, the later years, but I appreciate the sentiment, even if it's coming from the half-baked mind of the stereotypical college stoner. If that's all, could you please move on?"
The guy blinked a couple of times before saying, "Wow, that was like, a lot of words and all . . . and your voice is really pretty too."
Kurt looked pained by this encounter, but the guy eventually, after another minute of staring, decided to wander off.
It was at this point that Kurt mustered up the courage to actually face his father, and he'd said, quietly, "I'm so sorry, dad. Really. I just, I wanted to come and . . ." He flushed. "I wanted to be around others like myself. Not something I have the option of in Lima, but I didn't think that this would happen."
For some reason, the utter shock in Kurt's voice spurred Burt into a totally different tailspin. He hated hearing his son get so down on himself. "Of course shit like this is gonna happen, Kurt," Burt stated gruffly, glaring at other guys shooting his son surreptitious looks. "You're a good lookin' kid, and you're special in the 'more than just a small-towner way'. And people . . . other guys can see that and want to be near that."
Kurt blinked. "Wow, I . . . thanks, dad."
"No thanks required, kiddo, it's just the truth." Burt took off his hat, shook it out once and jammed it back onto his head. "But you ever pull something like this again? I'm grounding you for a month and taking away the keys to your car for two."
Kurt nodded, smiling brightly and his eyes widening innocently. "Just to be clear, you're more angry that I failed to tell you, right? So, if I were upfront about where I was going and –"
Burt snorted. "No freakin' way. I'm not too sure how exactly to deal with you and other boys, Kurt, but there's one thing I'm going to make perfectly and abundantly clear: there will be no college boys until you are actually in college. Got me?"
Kurt gave him a brilliant grin, reaching out to give him a quick hug of the manly sort – the one-armed, pat on the back deal – but Burt rolled his eyes and hugged him a little closer. He would never say it out loud, but he liked the fact that Kurt gave him big, bear hugs instead of the one armed, no-more-than-two-seconds-long socially acceptable guy ones.
That should have been that. They spent the rest of the time touring the school; Burt had talked with a few admissions people himself, and he and Kurt had a late lunch in a great food court. Kurt confessed that he was more interested in going to college in New York or something, but he wanted to consider all options, maybe start off a few semesters in Ohio before heading over to New York. Burt tried to play it off casually, but he wanted that too. He wanted his son around for as long as he could keep him.
And if he could keep him all to himself, without any boy toy hanging around, all the better.
Kurt had disappeared to use the bathroom before they left, and when he wasn't back within five minutes, Burt immediately went looking for him.
And he found him.
With hippie dude. Guy number five.
Hippie dude, whatever the hell his name was, had black hair like Brad had, only longer, less put together, messily pulled back in a short pony tail, a few strands escaping. He had thick glasses and a pile of books in his arms, but that didn't stop him from reaching out to put a hand on Kurt's shoulder, laughing at something Burt's son said. And fine, maybe a hand on a shoulder wasn't groping, but that shoulder was attached to his son and this asshole was not allowed to touch Burt's son. Period. Burt had had enough of this bullshit.
He pushed through the crowd in time to hear: "Yeah, I know, but you just gotta be smart enough to keep up on your own. Sylvester will take care of the cheerleading end of things, one way or the other."
"If she doesn't kill me with her bordering on illegal rehearsal schedule first!" Kurt grinned and there was definitely some coy eyelash-batting going on, Burt couldn't deny it this time. "But I'm not one of her illiterate cheerleaders. I have post-secondary ambitions that don't include acrobatics. Well, some of them might . . ."
"You'll definitely have no problems adjusting to university life after Cheerios, let me tell you!" Hippie dude reached up to push some black strands of hair away. "I get here and everyone's freaking out about not having enough time and I'm already done most of my semester's work and have pretty much all the time I want to sit down and play video games, or watch pointless, mind-numbing reality TV."
Kurt sighed. "God, I can't wait for that."
Hippie dude smiled kindly. "You'll get there, Kurt. And hey, if you end up enrolling here, look me up."
Kurt rolled his eyes. "Right. Because you really mean that. Like you want to get saddled with a baby-faced freshman in your sophomore year."
"I wouldn't usually." The boy leaned down, close enough to almost be brushing noses with Kurt.
Burt's hand reflexively clenched, yearning for the wrench in the toolbox of his car – his nice, big wrench that he'd had since the opening of his garage. The one that was heavy and well used, and could probably smash through a skull with one solid blow.
"But, if it's you, I definitely wouldn't mind getting saddled up." Hippie dude grinned cornily, and then pulled back, flushing a little, looking sheepish. "Sorry, I couldn't help myself. I have this bad habit of making horrible innuendos whenever the opportunity arises."
"In that case, I leave you to make your own joke about 'rising opportunities'." Kurt raised an eyebrow and hippie dude threw his head back and laughed. Burt had no idea why he wasn't stepping in. Maybe it was because Kurt looked perfectly comfortable, and seemed to actually know this guy. Maybe it was because, momentary invasion of personal space aside, this college boy didn't seem to put off total creeper vibes like the others had.
"Damn, I wish you weren't in high school," the guy said regretfully. "I could definitely use more witty banter in my life right now." That was different. Burt shifted anxiously. This was a whole new level of discomfort for him. The idiots from earlier had been one thing, but this . . . Burt wasn't sure he was okay with this either.
Kurt's face fell slightly, something hippie asshole probably didn't notice, but Burt did – he knew his son far too well.
"Ah, and I am once again reminded of my own insignificance, thanks ever so much, Lyndon." Kurt sighed heavily with a self-deprecating grin.
"Hey, I could be total douchebag and seduce you or whatever," said Lyndon (Burt wondered if that was a first or last name, and then told himself he would not Facebook stalk this boy). "But I can't. You're sixteen and you're still in high school, and yeah, maybe three years isn't all that big of an age divide, but trust me, once you get out of that hell hole, you will see what a huge impact it has on you. When you look at other high school kids from outside of high school, you'll see the massive difference."
"It's not the most convincing argument I've heard," Kurt pointed out.
Burt felt it was a damn good argument; he was already filing it away in his head to pull out at a later date, though he hoped like hell he would never have to use it in relation to Kurt and an older man. God.
"To someone like you, who's light-years ahead of the pack, I know. It's pretty weak. But I have my own rules, my own principles, and I try to stick by them. You're pretty damn cool, Kurt – I've known since I saw you at Nationals, and Coach Sylvester talks about you with minimal insulting between words, so . . . yeah. But I'm not going to get involved with a high school student, sorry. Plus, I'm pretty sure your dad would murder me."
"He wouldn't," Kurt said with a pout in his voice. "He can be a bit over-protective –"
"He's been staring at us for the past five minutes, and I'm pretty sure he's already calculated several different ways to kill me and get rid of my body without leaving behind any evidence."
Well, maybe two potential murder plots had slipped into Burt's mind, but none of that mattered now that Kurt was whipping around to stare at him, mouth open. "Dad? Dad, oh God, I'm sorry –"
Burt held up a hand. "It's all right, son. I understand that . . . Lyndon here is just leaving."
Lyndon raised his unoccupied hand in a placating gesture, hefting his books higher up in his grip with his other arm. "No worries, Mr. Hummel, I'm already gone."
The guy flashed his son one more kind smile before disappearing into the hoards of students. Kurt watched him go for a second before flicking nervous eyes back onto his father.
"Quit looking at me like that." Burt shoved his hands into his pockets. "I'm not mad, and I think we've pretty much gone over the 'my kid's gay' thing about a thousand times. Or least I have. So, please, I think it's time to go now, right? Or did you have –"
"No, no, I'm all done here." Kurt nodded quickly. "Let's head out to the car."
Once they were in the car, key in the ignition, Kurt spoke up again, hesitant at first, then firm. "It . . . you didn't like it, did you? I realize it would be awkward for any father to watch his kid get hit on, but that it was guys hitting on me, that made you feel particularly stressed out, didn't it?"
Burt stared at the steering wheel. "They were a bunch of college guys. You're still in high school."
"But if they hadn't been," Kurt insisted, and Burt really wished his son would stop. "If they hadn't been, you still would've felt wrong about it. If it had been some guy my age, or even a guy a year younger – any guy, all guys. It makes you uncomfortable, and don't lie to me, dad – you suck at lying to me just as much I do lying to you." Kurt managed a weak smile.
Burt took another second, really thought hard about what he wanted to say, and then said it, praying to God or whoever was listening, that this wasn't going to destroy the new connection he'd made with his son this past year. "Kurt, I may have mentioned this a couple of times, but just in case I haven't been clear, I'll say it again: this whole thing has taken a lot of getting used to, on my part. I come from a . . . how would you put it . . . 'unenlightened time'?" Kurt's smile became a little more genuine at that. "And I was about as 'unenlightened' as they came, son. I said and did things that . . . you have no idea how much they shame me now. But loving you trumps all that dumbass behaviour, all those stupid, backwards ideas, I swear." He managed to face Kurt for that last part, needing his son to believe him.
And Kurt did, nodding, still smiling. "I know, dad, I know. And I know you said that all I have to do is be myself, and I appreciate that, but I can tell this is throwing you off. I need to know – did the sight of me and Lyndon really freak you out that much?"
Burt really, really didn't get what his son was fishing for. But he knew one thing: there was no way Kurt was going to get anything from him other than endless support and fatherly love. Because whatever Burt's insecurities and issues, they weren't Kurt's to bear.
Truth be told, it did freak Burt out to see his son with a boy. It was just a mildly flirtatious conversation, barely that even, and it made his skin crawl. Part of that had been the idea of his baby boy in a relationship – growing up and everything – being an adult, potentially getting hurt, or heart broken . . . But he couldn't deny that a part of it was his 'unenlightened' self getting a little sick at the idea of his son kissing another boy. It made him feel like crap, like total garbage, but he couldn't help it. He was working on it – he was working hard on it. He'd been reading books and articles for parents dealing with this kind of stuff, and it had been helping. He just wasn't there yet, and he'd always figured he'd have the time – that Kurt was still a ways off from his first boyfriend.
Turned out he had less time than he thought, but that didn't change a damn thing. Kurt was Kurt, and Kurt was . . . going to have a boyfriend, eventually. And whether it was sooner or later, Burt was just going to have to deal with it.
"Kurt, the only thing that's freakin' me out right now is the idea of you dating anyone over the age of eighteen. Can we just set that down, right now, as a rule: no one over the age of eighteen, until you are eighteen."
Kurt stared hard into his eyes, and Burt prayed that, just this once, his son wouldn't be able to read him as well as he usually could. It was an intense minute, but Kurt relaxed back into his seat, shooting his father a teasing grin. "What about when I'm eighteen? Does that mean a free for all? So, if I bring home someone, say, around your age –"
"Uh, no. When you're eighteen, we'll re-negotiate – say, maybe about a three-year gap. Maybe less. I don't know, can we skip this 'til it gets to that point?"
His kid laughed out loud, pulling down the visor to glance in the mirror behind it, fixing his hair. "Oh please, dad, like I'd ever do that to you. Besides, I can promise you that so far, I've tended towards boys my own age. Or fairly close to it. Lyndon was only three years older than me, after all."
Burt turned the key, covering up a wince with a glance at his side mirror. "Yeah, I heard. I also heard his point of view on college-high school relationships, something I'm in complete agreement with, by the way." Kurt rolled his eyes but said nothing. Burt decided to play nice. "He mentioned something about Sylvester. He was a Cheerio, right?"
Kurt nodded. "He stops by to visit Coach every once in a while. I've seen him here and there, but this is the first time I've ever really talked to him. But you don't have to worry about anything dad, he put the kibosh on anything between us, as I'm sure you heard."
Kurt sounded depressed by that, and Burt, a sucker for anything even remotely resembling a pout on his son's face and feeling guilty for his own inner turmoil that was celebrating his son's lack of boyfriend, sighed heavily. "Okay, so this trip wasn't what either of us expected it to be. What do you say to a little retail therapy?"
Kurt's head jerked up, eyes widening. "Dad, I wasn't looking for a –"
"I know." Burt flicked a quick smile at him as he pulled out of the school's parking lot. "And I'm not talking about racking up a couple of hundred dollars on a credit card that has already exceeded its monthly limit." Kurt had the grace to blush at that. "We still need a new kitchen table after Finn's attempt to load up his drums and rehash a Kiss concert experience broke the last one, and I figure we might as well go the whole nine yards and get matching chairs."
"Maybe some nice contrasting handles for the cabinets?" Kurt asked with restrained hopefulness.
Burt tilted his head in acknowledgement. "Maybe. Let's see how much the table and chairs set me back first."
Kurt settled back contentedly, toying with the radio before settling on a classic rock station, turning it up as the beginning strains of a Queen song filtered through, and Kurt was actually singing along, drumming a beat out on this thighs (a habit he'd picked up from Finn, Burt had observed) and all in all, while the day could certainly have gone better, it definitely wasn't the hardest Burt had ever been through.
This thing with Kurt, it was tougher on some days, easier others, but it was the least he could do, as a father, to accept his son. He wasn't one hundred percent, no-holds-barred there yet, but he was getting there.
As far as Kurt was concerned, his kid had to be convinced that he was there already. Burt was okay with letting him think that until it became truth, even if it never became truth . . . But no, it would, damn it, because Burt was on his way to accepting every single aspect of son's identity (like the tiaras and those long sweaters he still really didn't like). He had absolutely no problem changing himself, making himself a better man after years of being set in his ways, even if he failed (which he wouldn't) because that was how much he loved his son.
"Dad? If I surrender my credit card for all of next month, will you let me redo the kitchen?" Kurt's eyes were gleaming and wide, doing their puppy thing, and his lower lip was protruding, ever so slightly.
Burt sighed again. "Kurt, I said table and chairs, and maybe cabinet handles."
"But really, that's only a few more fixtures away from an entire make over, isn't it?" The lip stuck out a little further.
Burt risked a glance and then totally regretted it a second later. "I hate it when you do that, you know," he grumbled to himself.
Kurt grinned now, knowing damn well he'd secured a victory even though Burt hadn't said anything. "It's always a fifty-fifty shot with the eye/pout combo. You're so easy, dad, but don't worry. My ideas for the kitchen are pretty tame and a combination of both our tastes, I promise."
Burt, maybe foolishly, decided to give his son the benefit of the doubt, and figured Kurt wouldn't turn the kitchen into that Arabian Nights thing he'd seen him whip his bedroom into for Finn or into the spartan all-white thing his room had been before that.
Kurt proceeded to turn up the classic rock again, this time a Rolling Stones tune filling the car, and he was singing along once more, shooting his dad happy, good-natured teasing looks, and Burt was smiling back, occasionally singing along, in harmony with his kid, and they sounded pretty damn good together.
They always had and if Burt could help it, they always would.
Author's Note:This (I hope) is a semi-realistic look at a reformed-jackass jock's mind as he watches his gay son interact with other men.
And I imagine he and his dad singing along to 'You Can't Always Get What You Want' because it would be totally cheesy and appropriate for this scene :) I was actually listening to 'Gimme Shelter' while writing, which is also awesome, but seemed less appropriate . . . *shrugs*, I don't know, fill in Rolling Stones song of your choice! :D
Now, onto the explaining:
*grovels* I was struck down – by illness. Yes, I had a long weekend (Happy belated Thanksgiving, fellow Canadians!) and there were plans to write as early as this past Saturday so I could post by early this week, but on Friday I got the beginnings of a nasty cold . . . and on Saturday, the cold went from nasty to 'oh my God why am I still alive'. I have finally returned to the land of the living as of Monday night (as I type this). And my brain is still a little fuzzy and un-cooperative, so I finished off this random one-shot instead of diving back into the longer stories because that's the first thing my wet-cotton muddled mind latched onto.
*sniffles* A fairly accurate description of my sufferings, and a fantastic story to boot, may be found in vcg73's awesome tale of sick!Kurt and amazing!Carole, Maternal Instinct. I'm probably going to go and re-read it now. *coughs*
I had a truly crappy weekend. Oh well. It is what it is. Moving on now. *self-conscious coughing*
Hope you guys enjoyed this and I hope I managed to keep Burt the man we all know and love, while demonstrating that he's still struggling. Being that great man we all adore comes as the result of a lot of work, and it is an on-going process.
Truthfully, that's why I love him, personally – because he tries so very hard, and keeps right on trying :)