Disclaimer: Glee belongs to Ryan Murphy and Fox, not me.
Author's Note: Picks up right where "Grilled Cheesus" leaves off.
I think that it's brainless to assume that making changes to your window's view will give a new perspective.
And the hardest part is yet to come
I don't mind restrictions or if you're blacking out the friction
It's just an escape (it's overrated anyways)
The hardest part is yet to come
When you will cross the country alone.
-"Blacking Out the Friction" by death cab for cutie
This was going to be a difficult conversation.
Kurt sat on the driver's side of his car and drummed his fingers on the steering wheel. "Stop thinking about it," he said aloud. With a determined jerk, he yanked the gearshift to drive and pulled out of the driveway, nearly sideswiping a moving van trundling down the street.
He had been mulling this over for two weeks. Well, a week and six days, if he was honest. It was time to put aside his own thoughts and think about someone else for a change.
He pulled the Navigator into the narrow driveway, parked expertly, and exited the vehicle with a bravado he didn't feel. The car chirped as he locked it by remote, and he shoved the keys into the pocket of his well-tailored blazer.
He hesitated on the front stoop. Do it. Do it now.
He opened the screen door, wincing at the loud creak, and rapped smartly. No one answered. He took a step back and waited. Their car was in the drive, after all. Someone would come eventually.
The front door clunked as the lock turned. He bounced nervously on his toes. The door opened. "Well, hi, Kurt," Carole said, smiling. She had to have just gotten home from work; she was still wearing her nurse's scrubs and no-nonsense white sneakers. "Are you here to see Finn? He's in the den if you-"
"No," he said quickly. "Actually, I'm here to see…well, to see you both, but I suppose you, mostly."
Carole frowned. "Come inside," she said, holding the door open. He stepped into the Hudson house. It was warm inside, and the scent of simmering marinara sauce filled the air. "Are you hungry? Dinner's just about ready."
He fidgeted. "Thank you, but no," he said. "I just wanted to stop by and ask you something."
She narrowed her gaze. "Sit down," she said gently.
He obeyed, sinking into one of the scuffed maple chairs at the kitchen table. Carole poured him a glass of water and set it in front of him, then sat down across the table. "Thanks," he whispered.
"Is this about your dad?" Carole asked. "I was going to stop by after dinner to see how he's doing."
"He's doing better, thank you," he said. Kurt tapped the sides of the waterglass. "It's just that…well, I'm not very good at the whole…taking care of sick people thing."
Carole impulsively reached across the table and took his hand. "You're doing fine," she said.
He slid his hand away and took a sip of water. "My dad needs more than fine," he said. "He really misses having you around."
Carole folded her hands. "What are you trying to say?" she asked.
Kurt took a deep breath. "I was wondering if you and Finn would consider moving back in with us," he blurted out.
Carole leaned back. "Honey, I'd love to," she said. "But is it up to us? How does your dad feel about this? He hasn't said a word to me about it."
"That's because he doesn't know," Kurt said. He slid his finger against the condensation on his glass, then cleared his throat and sat up straight. "The Hummel pride can be a little…ridiculous. He doesn't want to admit that he needs anyone to help him out, but he does."
Carole smiled. "Kurt, I'd be happy to come back and stay with you and your dad," she said. "But I have to talk to Finn about it. He didn't take it so well the first time around."
Kurt turned around and slunk further in his chair, his fingers now tapping out an even more erratic beat on the water glass. Finn leaned against the doorway, a cordless Xbox controller in his hands. "Finn, honey," Carole said. "Kurt came to ask us if we could move back in with him and his dad."
Finn looked from his mother to Kurt to the floor. "Your dad doing any better?" he asked.
"He's improving," Kurt said.
Finn glanced up, flashing his lopsided grin. "Sure," he said.
"Sure to what?"
"To moving in," Finn said. "Yeah. I think it would work out for everybody."
Kurt straightened. "Really?" Finn scratched the back of his neck with the Xbox controller. "As long as your dad isn't still mad at me about…you know."
"I don't think he's mad at you anymore," Kurt said quickly. "And I can redecorate my room, if that will help sway your opinion."
Finn shrugged. "'Sokay," he said. "If you can give up your room for me, I guess I can learn to live in a Mongolian tent."
"Moroccan," Kurt corrected.
Carole stood up and crossed to the stove. "We'd be happy to come back," she said, turning down the heat on the front left burner. "You have to talk it over with your dad first, though."
"I will," Kurt said, standing quickly. "I'll talk to him about it tonight. I think he'll be happy. Really happy. I don't think you know how happy he'll be."
"I know," Carole said, smiling at him. "Thanks for coming over."
Kurt slid his hands into his coat pockets and hunched his shoulders. "Thanks for…well, thank you," he said. He ducked his head and slipped past Finn.
He could still hear them talking as he let himself out of the front door. "Mom, is Kurt's dad okay?"
"He's doing better. But I'm worried about Kurt, he's…"
The screen door slammed behind him. He climbed into the driver's seat and peeled out into the street.
Why would anyone be worried about me? he thought. My dad is the one who had a heart attack.
He drove in silence, lost in thought. The moving van he had nearly hit on his way out was still on his street, parked at the house next door. Movers in ratty coveralls hoisted couches and dressers and chairs from the back of the truck and into the house. He navigated carefully around them and parked in his own driveway.
"That you, Kurt?"
"Yeah, Dad," he called, locking the front door and throwing his jacket savagely across the back of an armchair.
"Where'd you head off to?'
Kurt walked into the den. His father sat in his recliner in front of the television, flipping idly through the channels. "Oh, just out for a little drive," he said. "How are you feeling?"
"Oh, fine, just fine," Burt said. He switched off the TV. "Just bored. How can there be nothing good on a Sunday afternoon?"
"I can't imagine," Kurt said, attempting to smile.
"Maybe the doctor will tell me I can start back at the garage soon," he said. "I haven't been this lazy in years. It's like I-" He cut off in midsentence and frowned. "Are you all right?"
Kurt sank into the chair across from his father. "Dad, I asked Carole to move back in," he whispered.
Burt sat up straighter. "What?"
"It's for the best," he said, looking down at his shoes. "Carole can help you better than I can. Besides, I see how happy you are every time she visits. It would be good for you."
"Yeah? Well, how about you, kiddo?" Burt said. "I saw how rough it was for you. You and Finn…you're not exactly kindred spirits."
Kurt flexed his fingers. "I know," he said.
"Besides, I don't know if we're ready to move on," Burt said. "I know it's been eight years, but…sometimes I can swear that your mom's about to walk through that front door."
"Dad," Kurt said abruptly. "I asked Carole and Finn to move back. They said yes. Just accept it, okay? It's for the best."
He stood up. "It's for the best," he repeated. "I'll start dinner in a little bit, okay?"
"What?" he said.
Burt held out his arm. Kurt stepped closer and took his dad's hand. "I appreciate what you're doing," he said. "I really do like Carole. And Finn's a good kid."
"I know, Dad," Kurt said. He squeezed his dad's hand. "What do you want for dinner?"
"Why don't you just order a pizza or something," Burt said. "You've been bending over backwards trying to take care of me. Take it easy."
"Sure," Kurt said. He let go of his dad's hand and walked away.
"So Finn and his mom are moving back in with you and your dad?"
Kurt stared at his reflection in his locker mirror. "Next weekend," he said. "This time they might stay more than a few weeks."
Mercedes leaned against the lockers. "Dang, boy," she said. She leaned closer. "Are you still all…you know…in love with-"
"No," Kurt said firmly. He sighed. "No, I'm afraid that that ship sailed away over the summer."
"Why?" She grinned knowingly. "Did you meet someone else?"
Kurt stared at his reflection. "No," he said, successfully hiding the bitterness that threatened to creep in. "I just finally forced myself to realize that it was never going to work out, and that if I continued to obsess over him, I might never find the person I'm supposed to be with." He slammed his locker shut. "Besides, I was kind of stalking him."
"So you're really okay with them moving backing with you and your dad?" she said.
"Of course," he said. "I was the one who asked them?"
He started to saunter down the hall to his homeroom, but Mercedes caught him by the arm. "Hold up," she said. "You actually went over there and asked them?"
"Naturally," he smiled.
"Why on earth did you do that?" she said.
He paused, debating whether to tell her the truth or to offer an off-the-cuff quip. Mercedes glowered at him. He sighed. "My dad still isn't doing well," he said. "He hasn't been able to go back to work. I've been trying to help out when I can, but I can't do everything." He hugged his binders to his chest and lowered his voice to conspiratorial tones. "If my mom was still alive, she'd be able to take care of everything. But I can't. I figure that if Carole can take care of my dad, then I can take over some of my dad's work."
Mercedes tucked her arm through his. "How long have you been keeping all this to yourself?" she asked.
"It doesn't matter," he shrugged. "My dad's going to be okay. I'm going to be okay. Finn is surprisingly okay. Life will go on."
They strolled down the hall towards homeroom, but for some reason he couldn't quite shake the odd sensation in the pit of his stomach. Something wasn't exactly right, but he couldn't put his finger on it.
He ducked out of the way of a jock with a slushie, avoided a pair of nerdy girls debating the merits of vampires versus werewolves, and sidestepped the class president escorting a new student around the school. They had nearly made it to homeroom when a looming figure in a tracksuit materialized.
"China doll. I'd like a word." Kurt rolled his eyes. "I saw that."
"Hey, Coach Sylvester," Mercedes said politely.
Sue narrowed her gaze. "Not interested," she said. "I don't speak to former Cheerios. Get to class."
Mercedes shook her head and walked into homeroom. "Can I help you?" Kurt asked.
"I don't know, can you?" she said. "Cheerios practice. You. Do you see the problem.?"
"I'm…I'm not sure."
She leaned close. "You haven't shown up," she said. "Now, I relied on you and your fourteen and a half minutes of French warbling to clinch nationals last year. Can I count on you again?"
"Well…I suppose," he stammered. "My schedule's a little full."
She leaned even closer. He flattened himself against the wall. "How's your dad holding up?" she asked.
"He's doing well, all things considered," he said, slightly startled.
"What about you? You keeping it together?"
She straightened to her full, rather imposing height. "Good," she said. "I expect you to start back with the Cheerios this week. It's a Super Saturday, ladyface. Be prepared."
He sighed as the cheerleading coach power-walked away.
Fantastic. Something else to pretend to not be worried about.
Mr. Schue surveyed his roomful of students, flashing that "I'm-about-to-impart-a-fabulous-life-lesson" smile. Kurt sat between Mercedes and Tina, arms folded across his stomach.
"I want to try something different," Mr. Schue said. "I've noticed that we tend to stay…well, in the mainstream when it comes to our music choices."
"Isn't that what the judges want?" Rachel said. She looked from left to right, staring wide-eyed at her fellow glee clubbers. Her hair flipped around wildly. "They want familiar songs performed in a new way. That's what we give them! That's what they like!"
"But if we had new music that no one had heard, it might set us apart," Artie countered.
"So what're we gonna do?" Puck asked. He sat up straighter. "Screamo?"
Mercedes scowled. "Really, Puck? Screamo?"
"I like it," he defended. He demonstrated with a loud, raspy yowl.
Brittany covered her ears. "That makes my toes hurt."
"Guys," Mr. Schue said. "I want you to pick a song to perform that you don't think anyone else in the club has ever heard. It might be a song that you liked as a kid, or something from another country."
Kurt idly examined his fingernails. "Can it be something too cultured for anyone else to know?" he asked.
Rachel stood up. "I think I know what you're thinking," she said. "And no. If anyone is going to sing a Gilbert and Sullivan number, it's going to be me."
Kurt scowled. "Curses," he mumbled. Mercedes patted him on the knee.
"I'll give you guys a week to pick your song and rehearse it," Mr. Schue continued. "And I expect all of you to perform something. You can perform in a duet or a trio, as long as you do something."
Brittany raised her hand. "Would next week be a good time for my Ke$ha performance?" she inquired.
"Britt, no time is a good time for a Ke$ha performance," Artie said dryly.
"Ooh, good one," Tina snickered. She held out her fist for a victory bump, but he steadily ignored her. Frowning slightly, she let her hand fall back to her lap.
Mr. Schue checked his watch. "Okay, it's five o'clock, so we'd better wrap this up," he said. "I'll see you guys tomorrow, all right? We'll work on that new number for sectionals."
Kurt picked up his leather messenger bag and was nearly run over by Rachel as she pounded down the riser steps. "Mr. Schuester, I have some questions for you about the assignment," she said.
"Can this wait till tomorrow, Rachel?" he asked. "A new student just transferred into Spanish, and I have to meet her to go over the material she's missed so far."
Rachel looked disappointed. "I suppose," she said.
Kurt brushed past her. "By the way, Rachel, you can have Gilbert and Sullivan," he said breezily. "Just remember…you can't sing 'Modern Major General'."
"But my range is perfect for it," she protested.
He paused in the doorway, struck a pose for effect, and curled his lips in the smuggest smile he could manage. "That song was written for a boy," he said.
"Oh, burn!" Mercedes laughed.
Rachel opened and closed her mouth several times, looking somewhat akin to a carp out of water. "That dumbfounded expression is quite gratifying," Kurt said. He leaned out the door and strolled down the hallway.
"That was too good," Mercedes said. "You are on today!"
He smiled as he scanned the mostly empty hall. "I've got to run," he said. "Text me later?"
"Of course," she said, leaning over to kiss him on the cheek. He smiled at her and walked the opposite direction down the hall.
"Finn," he called. "Hey, Finn."
The lanky football player turned around. "What's up?" he asked.
"Are you still okay with moving in with me and my dad?" Kurt said.
Finn grinned awkwardly. "Yeah, I'm fine with it," he said. "Unless you've changed your mind."
"No, I haven't," Kurt said. "I was just wondering if you wanted to stop by and bring some of your stuff tonight." He shifted his messenger bag on his shoulder. "I think things would work out better if we redecorate our room together, instead of…you know."
"Yeah," Finn said. "Um. About that…Kurt, I'm still really sorry that I called you a-"
"It's fine," Kurt snapped. "Let's just put it behind us, shall we?"
"Okay," Finn said. "Can I stop by…around seven or eight?"
"Sure," Kurt agreed. "I'll see you then." He fumbled in his coat pocket for his car keys as he walked away. For some reason he got the distinct impression that Finn was watching him.
He pulled the Navigator into the driveway. The moving van that had been blocking the street since yesterday had finally left; the lights in the house next door were bright and glowing. He parked his car and went inside.
"Hey, kid," Burt said. He sat on the couch, flipping through a fishing magazine. "How was school?"
"Fine," he said. "Finn's stopping by later. How are you feeling?"
"I'm great," Burt grinned. "When I stop by the doctor's on Friday, I bet he'll give me the okay to go back to work."
"Don't push it," Kurt warned. "I don't want to spend another week waiting for you to get out of a coma. Any longer, and I think you would have given me gray hair."
Burt laughed. "You worry too much," he said. Kurt hung his jacket up in the hall closet. "Hey, did you see that someone moved into the Sloane's old house next door?"
Kurt peeked out the window. A cream-colored PT Cruiser drove down the street and pulled into the driveway. "I saw," he said, sitting down on the couch and unlacing his oxfords. "What do you want for dinner?"
"That house has been empty for eight years," Burt said. "I remember when Charlie moved away. And remember his little girl? The two of you were best friends."
"I remember. Dad, what do you want for dinner?" Kurt repeated.
"Whatever you make is fine," Burt said dismissively. "I think we still have some pictures of the two of you when you were little. You used to act stuff out in the backyard." He paused. "You know, I think your mom figured out the whole gay thing because you cried because the Sloane's little girl wouldn't let you be Ariel when you played Little Mermaid."
"She was my favorite princess," Kurt objected. He set his shoes down beside his bag. "I'll get dinner started. Don't get up, okay?"
"Mmkay," Burt said, turning back to his fishing magazine.
Kurt went into the kitchen and turned on the lights. He caught a glimpse of his reflection in the darkened window- he looked paler than usual, and his eyes were rimmed with unattractive shadows. For a minute he faltered. He folded his arms on the kitchen counter and rested his forehead on his wrists.
I don't think I can hold up, he thought.
"Kiddo, can we do burgers tonight?" his dad called.
Kurt straightened, rubbing the sides of his nose. "Sure," he called back. "It's fine."
So here it is! My first multichapter story for Glee! I hope it's interesting. I'm kind of scared that the first chapter is boring. Please stick it out!
I have this planned out all the way through. I'm pretty excited about it; my trusty sounding board psychopiratess (who is my best friend/maid of honor/super awesome person named Kat) has heard some of the details and she's pretty excited too.
Also, my husband went to high school with Ke$ha...back when she was just Kesha. That is your random fun fact of your day. I hope you enjoyed it.
So yeah! Please let me know what you think, what you want to see, and what improvements I could make.