Disclaimer: Glee belongs to Ryan Murphy and Fox, not me.
And it came to me then that every plan is a tiny prayer to father time
As I stared at my shoes in the ICU that reeked of piss and 409
And I rationed my breaths as I said to myself that I'd already taken too much today
As each descending peak on the LCD took you a little farther away from me
Away from me
This wasn't what he remembered at all. He remembered rain pelting metal and asphalt and concrete, remembered windshield wipers swishing and squeaking, remembered static on the radio. Not this.
He walked forward, the long grass brushing against his thighs. A soft wind blew, making the blades dance and the birch trees sway. Warm sunshine touched his skin. He smiled.
It was nice here. Maybe he could just stay.
The phone jangled loudly over the sounds of machinery and thunder. "Jack, can you get that?" Burt called. He turned back to the customer he was helping. "I don't think anyone in Ohio can drive in storms. We're gonna be running around like crazy for days."
He handed the frazzled-looking woman her receipt and a pen. Jack leaned out of the back, stretching the phone's cord as far as he could manage. "Burt, it's for you," he said.
"Tell 'em I'll call back," Burt said. He smiled at the woman as she handed back the signed receipt. "I swear, the number of people who think we're a towing place…"
"No, you have to talk to them," Jack said. "It's about your kid."
Burt froze, then turned around sharply and strode over to the phone. He yanked it out of Jack's hand. "Burt Hummel."
"Yes, Mr. Hummel, this is Officer Riley. I'm afraid I have some bad news."
Burt gripped the phone until his knuckles turned white. "What kind of bad news?" he demanded.
"Your son was in a car accident."
"A car hydroplaned and rear-ended his vehicle."
Burt's heart thunked in his chest. "Well, is he all right?" he asked, dreading the answer.
"He doesn't seem to have any major injuries, but we're going to get him checked out. We're taking him to the hospital right now," the officer explained. Burt could hear the wail of sirens and the rush of passing cars in the background. "He was too shaken and disoriented to speak, but we got his cell phone and found your number on speed dial."
"Which hospital?" Burt asked. The relief was overwhelming. Kurt was fine. He was going to be fine.
"Good Samaritan. By the way, do you have any idea about the identity of his passenger?"
"His what?" But he remembered as soon as the question escaped, and it made his chest tighten just to think about it.
"Your son was driving, but his passenger was thrown from the vehicle. He's got some serious injuries."
"Finn," Burt said. "His name's Finn Hudson."
"Do you have any contact information for his family."
It was suddenly becoming very difficult to breathe. "He's my…he's my girlfriend's son," he said. "I'll call her."
The officer said something indistinct. Burt hung up the phone and pulled off his baseball cap.
"Who's in the hospital?" Jack asked.
Burt dragged his arm over his eyes. "The boys were in a wreck," he said.
"No way," Jack said. "Kurt okay?"
"Yeah…yeah, he's fine," Burt said. "Finn's not."
"That's Carole's kid, right? The football player?"
"Yeah," Burt said dully. He put his baseball cap back on. "I'm going down to the hospital. You're in charge."
"Handle it," Burt said. He grabbed his coat and the keys to his pickup and broke out of the shop into the pouring rain.
I've never seen it get this dark in the day, even in a storm, he thought. He tried to imagine Kurt steering the Navigator through weather like this…then pictured the SUV getting slammed and spinning off the road. He shook his head and jammed the keys in the ignition.
His phone fell out of his jacket pocket. Burt picked it up reluctantly.
I should probably call her first.
He hit the speed dial, almost praying for voicemail. There was no way in hell that he could do this conversation.
She picked up on the second ring. "Burt, hi," she said. "Are you all right?"
"Me? Yeah, I'm fine," he said. "Listen…where are you right now?"
"I'm at home," she said. "I'm just waiting for the boys. They're really late, though. Do you think their rehearsal ran late? I know they're getting ready for sectionals, so-"
"Carole," Burt interrupted gently. "I got a call a few minutes ago."
"From the boys? Where are they?"
"Carole, they were in an accident."
He could hear Carole's breath catch. "Are they all right?" she demanded. "Where are they?"
"The officer said they were being taken to the hospital."
"Are they all right?" Carole repeated.
"Kurt's fine," Burt said. "They didn't think he had any major injuries, so he should be all right."
"Oh, thank God."
"But…Finn. Is he okay?"
"He got thrown from the car."
The silence on the other end hung heavy for what seemed like forever. "Did they take him to Good Sam?" Carole asked, her voice quiet and steely.
"I'll see you there."
She hung up abruptly. Burt stared at the blinking screen of his old flip phone, then closed it with a loud snap and dropped it in his cupholder. He revved the engine of his pickup and pulled out of the parking lot.
He almost wished Carole had cried, or something. He hated to see any woman, much less one he was in love with, cry, but at least if she had he could have lived vicariously through her.
But Carole was tough, and this wasn't the worst news she had ever gotten.
I wonder what Mollie would have done, he thought.
Mollie was a crier. She cried at everything- when she was sad, when she was happy, when she was angry. So she probably would have burst into tears and cried on her way to the hospital and then cried over Kurt, who probably would've ended up crying with her.
He was a lot like his mother, in many ways.
For a rebellious moment, he almost wished that it was Mollie he had had to call, that it was Mollie driving full-speed to meet him at the hospital. Kurt needed his mother.
But that was never going to happen.
Burt shook his head. He wasn't being fair to Carole. She was going through this too, but worse. He couldn't imagine the thought of how bad Finn's injuries might be. That kid lived for moving around- basketball, football, heck, even dancing around (badly) in glee club. If he was hurt bad…
Burt slowed down; the side of the road was illuminated by the revolving glow of blue and red lights on half a dozen police cars. Traffic crawled past the accident site. "Rubberneckers," he growled.
A black SUV was smashed into a tree, and it took him a second to recognize it. The front windshield was scattering in shining, shimmering pieces over the road. Twisted bits of metal that he vaguely recognized as the driver's side door heaped in the wet grass. The passenger side door hung open and cock-eyed, and something dark stained the upholstery on the inside.
He realized that he had stopped, and the car behind him was honking. Burt sped up and drove as fast as he dared to the hospital.
"Honey, lie still. You're going to be all right."
He stared up at the bright white lights on the ceiling. "Am I dead?" he asked, his voice sounding thick and scratchy.
"No, you're going to be fine," the soothing voice said. "You were in a car accident."
He didn't remember a car accident. He didn't remember much of anything.
"You're going to feel a little sting. Do you want to hold my hand?"
He nodded, and regretted it; the room swam and he felt nauseous. A warm hand closed over his cold, sweating one. "What're they doing?" he asked.
"You have a couple of cuts that need stitches," the voice explained. "Just lie still, and stay calm. You'll be fine."
The thin needle slid into his eyebrow, burning like fire. He'd had stitches before, but he whimpered and squirmed despite himself. The nurse squeezed his hand.
He closed his eyes.
Car accident. When did I get in a car accident?
The stinging went away, replaced by something else that he didn't quite feel. The needle and thread wove in and out of the cut on his eyebrow; all he could feel was an odd, disassociated tugging.
He closed his eyes tighter, trying to make himself remember.
He remembered hearing rain falling and tires squealing.
He remembered slamming on the brakes.
He remembered the crunch of metal and the clash of glass shattering.
He remembered the forceful pain of his seatbelt pulling down on his chest, his head slamming forward, his neck whipping back.
He remembered hearing a scream, and knowing that it didn't come from him.
"There we are," the doctor said, snipping the thick black thread. "The first one's done."
He opened his eyes. "Where is he?" he rasped.
"Your dad's on his way," the nurse reassured him.
"No, no," he insisted. "Not him. Where did he go?"
The nurse glanced around, confused. "You're disoriented," she said. "Just lie still, all right?"
He sat up. The room spun wildly, like a dull-colored carnival ride. "No," he insisted. "Where is he?"
He couldn't form words very well. In his mind, he knew exactly what he was trying to say, but all that came out were short, stammered sentences.
The nurse took him by the shoulders and forced him to lie down. "No!" he shouted. "No! Where is he?"
"Get a sedative."
He pulled away, flinging his arms, barely noticing the pain or the soreness. "Where is he? Where is he?" he screamed.
Something white-hot pierced his arm. He looked up to see the doctor inserting a syringe. "Just calm down," he said. "You'll be fine."
The curtains drew back. "Doctor, this is his stepmother," a nurse explained.
He gazed blearily up at a woman with a kind, round voice and worried dark eyes. "I don't understand," she said. "I thought-"
The world began to melt. Dimly he heard the woman say something, then the doctor answer in a low rumble. The woman cried out, and the world disappeared as he fell into peaceful unconsciousness.
Burt parked the car and ducked through the rain into the emergency room. The waiting room was surprisingly quiet- a mother holding a sleeping toddler, a young man with a makeshift bandage wrapped around his forearm, a pale pregnant girl holding her husband's hand. He sidestepped them and made his way to the front desk.
"My son was brought in from a car wreck on Taylor Mill Road," he said without preamble.
The nurse looked up. "You're Kurt Hummel's father?" she said.
"Yes," he said. "Where is he?"
"He's getting stitched up in room 4," she said. "Down the hall to the left. His stepmother's already with him."
Even in his panicked state, it warmed his heart to think of Carole describing himself as Kurt's stepmother."What about her son?" he asked. "My stepson. Finn Hudson."
"He's in emergency surgery right now," the nurse said. "I don't really know the details, but I'll let the doctors know you're here so they can talk to you."
"Thanks," he said. He turned and strode down the hallway.
The door to room 4 was closed, but he could hear crying. He frowned. He heard a woman's raised voice, and a man's calm, measured response.
He opened the door. Carole was arguing with a doctor, her face red and tearstained. "How could you do this?" she demanded.
"Mistakes happen, Ms. Hudson, and in a situation like this…"
"What's going on?" Burt asked.
Carole turned around. "Burt, they made a mistake," she said.
"What kind of mistake?" he said, his voice rising.
Carole gripped his arms. "Kurt wasn't driving," she said. "They made a mistake."
Burt looked down at the boy on the examining table. He was fast asleep, his head tilted back. Several dark lines of stitches stood out on his face, shoulders, and arms.
But he was tall, and lanky, and dark haired. His gray McKinley hoodie had been cut away, but a big red number five still stuck out on the front.
It was Finn.
"Where's my son?" Burt asked quietly.
This was going to be just a quick, off the cuff oneshot, but it got to be a little bigger than that. I think it'll be in three parts.
It's nice to take a break from working on Blacking Out the Friction. That's my Glee multichapter fic...aaaaand I'm struggling with it majorly. Gah. So this is a nice change.
Also, apparently I've been in the mood for death cab for cutie. Weird.
I actually went to high school in Ohio (well, on the border of Kentucky and Ohio) and the thing I remember the most is storms. Man alive, did it rain. It was pretty much incessant.
I hope you like this. I would really appreciate reviews and feedback!