Where do we go from here?
How do we carry on?
I can't get beyond these questions...
Clambering for the scraps in the shatter of us collapsed that cuts me with every could-have-been
Pain on pain on play repeating
with the backup, makeshift life in waiting
Everybody says time heals everything
but what of the wretched hollow?
The endless in between
are we just going to wait it out?
-"Wait It Out" by Imogen Heap
Finn knew something was up when he saw Kurt running across the parking lot. Kurt didn't run. Ever. It just didn't happen.
But sure enough, there he was, bolting across the school parking lot like he was being chased by an ax murderer. Finn watched him throw open the door to his car, toss his stuff inside, and slam the door.
Finn leaned against Rachel's gold sedan, sort of listening to her talk. The Navigator sat in the parking lot for a few minutes, until finally the engine revved and pulled out quickly.
I wonder what got into him, Finn wondered. I guess I'll just ask him about it when I get home.
He knew better, though. Kurt's eyes would just get that frosty look and he would say he was fine. Always, he was fine.
Finn was kind of tired of it.
He realized that Rachel had cut off in mid-sentence. "Is that Ella?" she said, pointing towards the door Kurt had just broken though.
Sue enough, Ella had stumbled out of the back doors, her arm over her eyes and her shoulders hunched. "Poor girl. She probably got her first slushie," Rachel said.
Before he could stop her, his girlfriend was halfway to the sidewalk. He followed her and caught up easily.
"What happened?" Rachel asked, putting her hand on Ella's shoulder. "Don't worry, I'm really good at getting food coloring stains out of clothing."
Ella dropped her arm. Her eyes were wet and the freckles sprinkled across her nose and cheeks had faded into the red blotchiness of her face. "What?" she sobbed.
"You didn't get…what's wrong?" Rachel asked.
Ella pressed her lips together and her face crumpled. "I…I made a mistake," she said. "I made a really, really bad mistake."
Rachel took her by the arm and made her sit down on the curb. "What kind of mistake?" she asked. Finn couldn't tell if she was genuinely concerned, or if she really wanted to hear something gossipy. It was probably an equal portion of both.
Ella shook her head. "I don't think I should talk about it," she said. She wiped her eyes on her sleeve and took a long shuddering breath that turned into a sob and ended in a very unflattering snort. "It was just…I made a mistake."
Rachel opened her mouth to say something, but Finn touched her lightly on the shoulder. "Hey, do you still keep that case of bottled water in your car?" he asked.
"Of course I do," she said.
"Can you go grab one for Ella? I think she might need one," Finn said.
"Oh," Rachel said. "Sure."
She got up and walked back towards her car. Finn sat down on the curb beside her. "Did something happen with Kurt?" he asked quietly.
She dug the heels of her palms into her eyes. "How'd you know?" she whispered.
"I saw him running out a few minutes before you did," he said.
"I was hoping I could catch him before he left," she said. She folded her arms and rested them on her knees. "I really messed up."
"What happened?" he asked.
She rested her chin on her forearms. "I don't think he'd want me to tell anybody," she said quietly. "He was…he was really upset. I made him really upset."
"That's weird," Finn said. "Usually when he's upset, he doesn't let anyone notice." He ran his hand through his hair, trying to figure out how on earth he was going to talk to Kurt.
Rachel walked back over and handed her a water bottle. "Who's upset?" she asked.
Ella ducked her head, cracking open the cap and taking a long drink. Finn scratched the back of his neck, trying to come up with a satisfactory answer. "She and Kurt had a fight," he finally said.
"That's awful," Rachel said. "He can say some really sharp, mean things when he's angry."
"It wasn't his fault," Ella said. She drew her damp sleeves over her eyes again. "I just wish I knew how I could talk to him. He didn't even let me apologize."
"Well, Finn's living at Kurt's house now," Rachel said. "Maybe Finn can talk to him, and he can text you when Kurt's ready to talk to you."
"Sure, that's a great idea," Finn said. He rummaged in his pocket for his phone. "Here, give me your number."
She told him the digits, then stood up, gripping her backpack. "I should get home," she said. "Homework. You know."
"Yeah," Finn said. He stood up, towering over her, and patted her awkwardly on the shoulder. "I'll talk to him."
"Thanks," she said. "I really appreciate it."
She walked away to her cream colored car and drove away. Rachel tucked her hand into Finn's arm. "That must have been some fight," she said softly.
"Yeah," Finn said.
"If she's that upset, I can't imagine what Kurt's like right now."
Rachel cleared her throat. "We don't have to practice our duet for sectionals for very long tonight," she said.
Finn stared off into the distance, wondering idly what Kurt was doing. "That would be great," he said.
Finn slammed the front door of the house. His mother looked up from the book she was reading. "Hi, honey," she said. "You're home late."
"I was rehearsing with Rachel," he said. "Where's Kurt?"
Carole turned a page in her book. "Sleeping," she said.
Finn did a doubletake. "What?"
"I checked on him about half an hour ago to see if he was hungry, and there he was, fast asleep," she said. "I didn't have the heart to wake him up. He looks worn out." Finn sighed. "Is there anything left from dinner?" he asked.
"There's soup on the stove, and bread on the counter," she said, sliding her reading glasses up the bridge of her nose. "Help yourself."
He ambled into the kitchen, ladled soup into a bowl, and clumsily hacked off a couple slices of bread. If he had to wait until Kurt woke up to have an awkward conversation, he'd at least have something to eat first.
He walked down to the basement, trying to keep his heavy shoes from clunking too loudly on the stairs. Kurt usually went to sleep after him and got up before he did, but he had the sneaking suspicion that waking him up would be an unpleasant experience.
He set his dinner down on the coffee table and kicked off his shoes. From across the room he heard the soft, barely audible sound of deep breathing. Curious, Finn crept across the room and drew back the curtain that divided Kurt's part of the room from his.
Kurt was huddled on the top of his bed, badly wrinkling the embroidered comforter he was usually so fussy about. His shoes had been dumped on the floor, but he was still dressed in his school clothes. He had wrapped one arm around his stomach, and his other hand was tucked under his cheek. And sure enough, he was fast asleep, his mouth slightly gaping, his chest steadily rising and falling.
Finn shook his head and headed back over to the couch. His mom was right. Kurt did look really tired. And come to think of it, he'd looked pretty tired for a long time.
He sat down on the couch, propping his feet up on the coffee table, and turned on the TV, keeping the sound barely audible. He shoved soup into his mouth, mindlessly watching the recap of a football game on ESPN.
He was almost done with his dinner when he heard rustling and a low grumble from the corner of the room. Kurt pushed back the curtains and shuffled towards him, rubbing his eyes sleepily. He looked like a six-year-old.
"What're you doing?" he mumbled.
"Dinner and football," Finn said.
Kurt plunked down beside him on the couch, wrapping his arms around his stomach. "What're you eating?"
He showed him the empty bowl. "Soup. Want some?"
Kurt shook his head and rubbed the side of his nose. He watched the football game in uncharacteristic silence. Finn cleared his throat. "You feeling okay?" he asked.
"I'm fine," Kurt said, his voice still thick from sleep.
"Mm-hm," Finn said. He tore off a piece of his bread and dunked it in the last few drops of soup. "Ella's not, though. She was pretty upset."
He watched Kurt out of the corner of his eye. For a second he saw some sort of expression flash across his face; he couldn't tell if it was anger or sadness. It was gone in a blink. "Did she tell you why she was upset?" he asked, his voice dropping a little lower.
"Nope," Finn said. "She just said you two were arguing."
Kurt's head dropped lower until his chin was tipping against his chest and said something indistinct.
"She kissed me."
Finn nearly dropped his dishes. "What?" he sputtered.
Kurt stared down at his knees. "Yeah, she kissed me," he said, sighing heavily. "And I…sort of flipped out."
"Dude," Finn sputtered. "Dude, this is why you need to tell her you're gay. You could have avoided this completely."
"It's not that simple, Finn," Kurt snapped.
"Yeah?" Finn said. "Well, it sounds pretty simple to me."
Kurt closed his eyes. "Ella was practically my sister," he said quietly. "Our moms were pregnant around the same time. But Ella's mom left when she was two. She didn't want a baby. So my mother ended up taking care of her while her dad worked."
Finn debated for a second about turning off the television, or setting his dishes down. He didn't dare move. This was the most Kurt had said lately about anything deeper than music or clothing in weeks.
"My mom adored Ella," Kurt said. "My dad too. She was pretty much family. So many of the memories of my childhood involve her."
He was telling the story to his knees, not daring to look up. Finn sat as still as he possibly could.
"When I finally made myself come to terms with the fact that I'm gay, I realized that the best part of that was that I didn't have to face my mother," he said. His voice was still quiet, but there was something tight, almost strangled, about it. "I didn't have to sit her down and tell her that I would never allowed get married, she'd probably never be a grandmother, that I was never going to be like everybody else. She would never have to know."
Kurt raised his hands and put them on either side of his face. "And now with Ella…it's like I have to do it anyway," he said. "I look at Ella, and all I can see is my mom. And…and I know that if my mom had known, it would have broken her heart, and now…now I have to break Ella's."
He buried his face in his hands. Is he crying? Finn thought. Oh, man. I'm not all that great when girls cry…I don't even know what to do when a dude cries.
Finn carefully set his dishes down on the coffee table and inched closer to Kurt. "Hey," he said. "I've heard you and your dad tell stories about your mom. And from what I've heard, it sounds like she was pretty awesome. If you had had to tell her that you were gay, I don't think it would change anything. Heck, I bet you could tell her you wanted to paint yourself green and name yourself king of the moon and she would still love you."
"There's a difference between loving and liking, Finn," Kurt said bitterly, his face still covered. He wasn't crying, but Finn could see that his face was flushed and red. "My dad still loves me, but he doesn't look at me the same."
Without thinking, Finn placed his hand on Kurt's thin shoulder and squeezed it. "Your dad loves you," he reassured him.
"You didn't hear him joking all my life about how Ella and I were going to get married," Kurt choked.
Finn rubbed his thumb on Kurt's shoulder. "You need to tell her," he urged gently. "If you don't tell her, this is only going to get worse."
He shook his head. "Not yet," he said.
"At least tell her you're not mad at her," Finn said. He paused. "You're not mad at her, are you?"
He shook his head again.
"Then you'd better tell her about that, at least," he said. "Give her a chance to apologize."
Kurt shook Finn's hand off his shoulder and stood up, finally dropping his hands from his face. "I'll tell her tomorrow," he said. He straightened the crooked hem of his untucked shirt. "Give me your dishes. I might as well take them up with me."
Finn handed them over. Kurt carried them upstairs and shut the door behind him. Finn sighed and pulled his phone out of his pocket.
Mercedes was waiting for him when he pulled into his usual parking spot. "Lying in wait, are we?" Kurt said.
She tapped her foot impatiently. "You didn't answer any of my texts last night," she accused.
He tossed his scarf around his neck. "I was a little busy," he said stiffly.
"I was trying to see if you wanted to go to the mall with me," she said, tucking her arm through his. "You never answered, so I got Tina to come with me instead."
Usually he liked chatting with Mercedes, but he couldn't focus. He halfway listened, offering the proper responses when necessary. But he completely lost his train of thought when Ella walked in. She headed over to her locker and twirled the dial of the lock.
"Kurt, are you paying any attention?" Mercedes asked, exasperated.
"Just give me a second," he said. "I'll be right back."
He crossed the hall and leaned against the lockers. Ella took a step back when she noticed him, her light freckles looking dark in the sudden whiteness of her face. He couldn't tell if it was from embarrassment, anger, or a little of both. "Hi," she said.
He squared his shoulders, assumed the sassiest posture he could muster, and kissed her on the cheek. She froze. "Hey, girl," he said breezily. "What are you doing tonight?"
She just looked at him, reminding him of a deer in headlights. "Homework," she said warily. "Why?"
"Well, I missed out on a mall date with Mercedes, and I thought I'd make it up to her tonight," he said. "Want to come with?"
She stared at him, mouth agape. "You want me to go to the mall with you?" she repeated slowly.
"And Mercedes, yes," he said. "Have you met Mercedes? I don't think you have."
He slipped his arm through hers and marched her across the hall. "Mercedes, this is Ella Sloane," he said. "Ella, Mercedes. Ella was my bestie when we were little. She's coming to the mall with us tonight."
Neither girl looked very happy with this arrangement.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is where it ends.
NO STOP DON'T LOOK AT ME LIKE THAT.
This is a terrible story. It was my first Glee multichapter story, and it shows. The characterization is poor, the plot is thin and annoying, and Ella is a terrible character. She's more of a first draft of Lucy than anything else.
So yes. Here is it where ends.
Ella will still appear in other stories, as a childhood friend, but that's it for her.
However, there was one scene I had planned for this story that I really sort of liked, so I wrote it up as a standalone oneshot. Take a look at "If You're Blacking Out the Friction" if you want to see it.