Disclaimer: Glee belongs to Ryan Murphy and Fox, not me.
(you should probably be glad it's not me.)
He hated to admit it, but he was having one of those days when he really, really wished he still had a mother.
Well, if he was totally honest, it had been one of those weeks when he wished he still had a mother. But he didn't feel like being totally honest. So there.
It started on Monday with an oral test in French III. He hated those things. He could jabber in French as much as he wanted, but when he had to answer a teacher, somehow he always got flustered and forgot how to mentally conjugate in passé composé.
So he didn't do very well. That straight-A streak for his French grades just crapped out on him.
On Tuesday, he got slushied. Twice. And the second time, it wasn't just a pop in the face. Oh, no. One of the hockey jerks managed to shove it down his pants. Not only was he already in his spare ensemble, but he had never thought to keep a spare pair of boxer briefs in his locker. He was forced to wear sticky, sour-green-apple scented undershorts under his gym clothes for the rest of the day. It was miserable on three parts- the stickiness, the smell, and the fact that he was wearing track pants and a tee shirt in public.
On Wednesday, he lost a vicious game of rock-paper-scissors for the male solo for the new song in glee. He beat Finn easily- after all, Finn always picked rock- but he and Sam got stuck with a lightning round that finally ended with Sam winning the best two out of three. And granted, maybe the male solo for "People Will Say We're in Love" from Oklahoma was better suited for a tenor of the straight persuasion, but it was in his range and he was a decent actor and he could do it.
But Sam got it. Stupid "I-look-like-I-swing-your-way-but-I'm-really-just-a-straight-nerd" Sam. And of course Quinn was chosen to sing Laurey's part, so he had to sit there and sulk while they made goo-goo eyes at each other. It was like watching two Precious Moments dolls make out.
On Thursday, Coach Sylvester decided to reassign him. And of course she did it in front of everyone, via bullhorn.
"Listen up, china doll," she bellowed. "The singing is all well and good, but you're going to have to pull your weight in the stuntwork. You're too short to be a base with one of my studly male Cheerios, and your hips are too deliciously rounded for you to be a flier. Backspot! Back left pod! Go!"
So he spent the rest of the practice working as a backspot. Apparently that meant helping one of the shorter girls into a build, holding her ankles while she balanced on the bases' hands, and then catching her when she cradled. In short, his arms, shoulder, and back had never ached more.
(Plus, the flier landed on his head once when he zoned out. So his head sort of hurt too.)
On Friday, he realized that he had forgotten about his science project. He hated science already, but that project was going to be a huge part of his grade. After one minute of staring blankly at the wall in stunned silence, and then panicking for five minutes, he picked up a cup, put dirt in it, and made up a completely BS'd presentation about how he tried to grow lima beans underwater.
Needless to say, he failed.
(Although Finn told him he thought it was a cool project. It figures.)
So now, it was Saturday. He had hoped Saturday would go better. It was time for sectionals, after all, and he finally had a decent solo to perform. Saturday would help him forget about his miserable week.
But when his iPod alarm went off at five o'clock and he stared up at the dark ceiling, listening to an annoying Europop song and the sawmill sound of Finn snoring, he realized his week was not going to improve. In fact, Saturday was probably going to suck more than the rest of his week combined.
"You doing okay, Kurt?"
He blinked. "Yeah, Dad, I'm fine," he said.
His dad gave him an odd look, but kept driving. They had agreed the night before that it probably wasn't going to be a good idea to leave the Navigator in the school parking lot all day- not if the hockey team was going to have all-day practice on campus- so Burt had agreed to drop them off to meet the rest of the glee club at the bus that morning, and Carole would pick them up that night on her way home from work.
So he was stuck in the center seat of the pickup, his dad on one side and Finn on the other, because, as Finn so elegantly put it: "you're like, the skinniest one, and your legs are really short, so you've gotta sit in the middle."
And worst of all, worse than his dad's elbow bumping him in the ribs every time they turned left and Finn's ginormous legs taking up all of his space, his stomach hurt. It felt like the time he got the stomach flu when he was six and was out of school for a week, barfing every time he moved.
However, that just brought up all sorts of memories of his mother taking care of him, cuddling him on her lap while they watched movies and sitting beside him until he fell asleep and telling him stories to distract him from how awful he felt, and, well…that was the last time he'd been really really sick, so who would blame him for being a little mopey about his distinct lack of mothering?
He needed to shake it off, though. It was probably nothing. And besides, if he told anyone that he felt sick, Mr. Schue would probably tell him to stay home from sectionals so he wouldn't hurl all over the stage, and that was not an option, not when he had finally gotten a real solo. He had could stick it out until the performance was over, and then he could crawl into his bed and sleep until Monday.
Burt pulled into the parking lot, making Kurt winced as the truck rattled over a speed bump at the entrance, and parked close to the schoolbus. "Okay, boys," Burt said. "Good luck with your singing thing."
"Thanks," Finn said. "I hope we win."
"I wish I could come see it, but we're slammed at the garage, and I'm missing my best mechanic," Burt said. He squeezed Kurt's shoulder.
"Thanks, Dad," he said.
"Carole'll be back to pick up around six," Burt said. "We'll go out to dinner afterwards, whether you won or lost." He grinned. "But if you win, we get dessert. Maybe ice cream." Kurt stifled the sudden wave of nausea sloshing in his stomach. Usually he loved a good pint of Ben and Jerry's as much as the next person, but the idea of thick, cold, sugary dairy product just didn't sound good right then.
"…so that's pretty cool," Finn was saying. "See you later, Burt."
Kurt shook his head. "Bye, Dad," he said, starting to slide out of the truck behind Finn.
His father caught him by the arm before he could escape. "You're sure you're okay, kiddo?" he said.
"Yeah," he lied. "Why do you ask?"
Burt frowned. "You're pale," he said. "Well, you know, paler than usual. Are you sick?"
"Just a little nervous," he said, still lying.
"Don't be," Burt said. "You're going to do great. I heard you practicing; you're gonna blow those other kids out of the water."
"Thanks," Kurt smiled.
Burt squeezed his shoulder. "You call me if you need me, okay, Scooter?" he said.
Kurt was glad that he couldn't see his reflection just then, because he was confident he had just turned a brilliant shade of red. "Dad!" he said, his voice climbing to a pitch that he hadn't reached while speaking since he was seven. "Don't call me that!"
"Aw, c'mon, you loved it when you were little," Burt said.
"Yes, when I was three," he retorted.
Burt just grinned. "Yeah, well, I'm always going to bring that up. You bring home your first boyfriend, I'll call you that the whole time."
"You'd better hurry up," Burt said. "Don't want to keep your friends waiting."
Kurt slid out of the cab. "Bye, Dad," he said. "Love you. Even when you call me embarrassing nicknames."
"I'm your dad, it's in my job description," he said. "See you later, kiddo."
Kurt shouldered his bag and strolled towards the schoolbus. "Come on!" Rachel said, bouncing up and down while clinging to Finn's arm. "It's time for sectionals! Let's go!"
"I'm coming, I'm coming," he said, maintaining his calm pace. That was mostly because he didn't think he couldn't walk much faster without barfing all over the pavement.
Mr. Schue checked his name off the list. "You're the last one, Kurt," he said. "Get on the bus, and we'll head out of here."
Brittany stuck her head out of the window closest to the door. "I thought Miss Pillsbury was coming," she objected.
"She's driving up separately, since she's got all of the costumes," he explained. "Get your head out of the window and sit down."
"I can't," she said. "It's stuck." Mr. Schue opened his mouth to object, but Santana's hand reached out from the depths and pulled Brittany back in.
Kurt climbed up the steps into the bus and surveyed the aisle. He shouldered his bag and ducked past the other glee club members, finally taking a seat towards the back, the row behind Mercedes.
"Hey, white boy," she smiled. "Are you excited?"
"Thrilled," he said. "Just tired. Finn was snoring last night. It was ridiculous."
She laughed. "At least you've got time to sleep before we get there," she said.
He made a face as the bus lurched into motion, jostling him across the creaky faux-leather seat. "If I can sleep," he said.
She rose up on her knees and looked over the back of the seat at him. "I think you should try," she said. "You look kind of sick. Are you okay?"
"I'm fine," he said. He propped his bag up against the window. "Maybe I will try to sleep."
"I'll wake you when we get there," she grinned.
He rested his head against his lumpy canvas bag and curled up into a ball, his arms folded across his chest and his knees tucked against his aching stomach. The bus swayed and creaked underneath him; the combination of the movement and the smell of gasoline made him feel seasick. He tried to fall asleep, closing his eyes tightly, but between feeling nauseous, the shaking bus, and Puck and Artie arguing loudly over whether Mario or Luigi was the best, it was impossible.
Eventually he gave up and pulled a bottle of pills and his iPod out of his backpack. He popped two chewable pink pills in his mouth while he scrolled through his playlists, landing on the one he relied on for the nights when he just couldn't sleep. Once the earbuds were in, he laid back down, trusting that death cab for cutie, Imogen Heap, and Rufus Wainwright could get him to sleep.
He supposed it must have worked, because the next thing he knew Mercedes had her hand on his shoulder and was shaking him awake. "Time to get up," she said sweetly. "We're here, hon."
He frowned, still mostly asleep, and flailed at her. "Immnahgonnnaleemelone," he mumbled.
Mercedes pulled his earbud out of his ear (still playing Kate Voegele's cover of "Hallelujah"), licked her finger, and stuck it in his ear. "Yeeauurgh!" he shrieked, bolting upright. "Why'd you do that? That's disgusting!"
"That's how I wake my brother up when he won't listen to anybody else," she smirked. "Now get your stuff and get off the bus, or do you really want to sleep through your solo?"
"I'm up, I'm up," he sighed, unfolding from his hunched position and cracking his sore neck gingerly. He picked up his bag and followed Mercedes towards the theater. Apparently his nap- while it alleviated his headache and put him in a slightly better mood- hadn't done anything to help his stomach.
Mr. Schue led them into the green room. "Okay, everybody," he said. "We're up second, so let's go ahead and warm up, and then you guys can get into your costumes."
Kurt put his stuff down with everyone else's and shuffled towards the tenor section, his hands in his pockets. Mr. Schue led them through the usual warmup routine- lip buzzing and open falls, then scales. He was relieved that he could still sing while dealing with his stomach cramping.
Is this what girls feel like every month? he thought. Ugh. So glad I'm a guy.
Miss Pillsbury came in the green room just as they finished up, beaming brightly as she wheeled in a rolling rack of costumes. "I'm so excited," she said. "Are you excited? Oh! I could just bust. I hope it's better than last year's sectionals."
Kurt dodged the stampede to the costume rack and picked up his clothes. To fit with their retro musical theme, the boys were wearing slim-fitting black pants, white button up shirts, and skinny sky blue ties, while the girls wore sky blue and white polka dot dresses. It wasn't a bad ensemble, but at the moment he almost wished they were doing a reenactment of the mattress commercial and he could just wear baggy pajamas. It would definitely be ten times more comfortable.
He followed the other guys into the bathroom and ducked into a stall to change. Puck and Artie were still arguing about video games (Puck was a fervent Mario supporter and Artie apparently idolized Luigi), Sam and Finn were discussing football plays, and Mike was off in his own little world, practicing a few dance steps while humming under his breath and buttoning his shirt at the same time.
Kurt emerged from the bathroom stall in his performance outfit, still fiddling with the knot of his tie. He paused in front of the mirror, frowning while he tried to tie it properly.
"Wow, Hummel. You look like crap."
Kurt rolled his eyes. "Thanks a lot, Noah," he said.
Finn's face appeared behind him on the mirror. "Yeah, you do look kind of…ghosty," he said.
"I'm allowed to be a little nervous, aren't I?" he snapped. "After all, it's not every day I get to steal a ballad from Miss Rachel Berry."
Finn screwed up his face. "Yeah, she's kind of bent out of shape about it," he said. "You'll be good, though."
"Thanks," Kurt sighed. He picked up his bag and headed out of the bathroom. He could hear the girls in their bathroom, singing loudly as the strong, flowery scent of hairspray seeped out of the crack under the door. He picked up his speed as his stomach twisted from the smell.
All he had to do was wait an hour for the first choir to finish, get through his performance, and then he could lie down in the green room and sleep. It shouldn't be that bag. He could get through this. It was just a stomachache or maybe, at worst, one of those twenty-four hour stomach bugs. And he was usually pretty healthy, so it should blow over pretty fast.
He curled up in one of the slightly uncomfortable wingback armchairs, his legs hanging over the armrest. It would have been better if he could lie down on one of the couches, but they were all occupied. He closed his eyes and wrapped his arms around his stomach. Maybe he could doze off for just a few minutes…
"Kurt! I have a question for you." He cracked open one eye. "I'm not surprised, Rachel Berry," he sighed. "What is it?"
"I was just wondering if you were adequately prepared for your ballad performance," she said. "I mean, you'll be carrying an entire number on your own, and I didn't know if you wanted to run through it before you got onstage."
"I don't think so, but thank you," he said quietly.
She tilted her head. "You don't look well. Are you nervous?" she asked.
He opened his mouth, trying to come up with a decent lie, but she interrupted before he could, her dark eyes sympathetic. "I used to get nervous before my ballet recitals," she said. "I used to throw up every time we lined up in the wings. Stay here."
"I'm not going anywhere," he said as she skittered off to her bright pink monogrammed duffle bag. He sighed.
Rachel reappeared with a water bottle in one hand and a small white tube in the other. "Here, this will help your nerves," she said. "Ginger ale always settles my stomach. And entertainer's secret is fantastic for soothing your vocal chords. You just spray it in the back of your throat."
"Thank you," he said, surprised. She smiled and patted him lightly on the arm before hopping back to the piano to practice. He cracked open the bottle and sipped carefully at the soda. Usually he didn't drink carbonated beverages, but he hadn't had anything to eat or drink since his non-dairy protein shake early that morning, and he hadn't been hungry enough to eat dinner the night before. He wasn't sure if it was actually going to make him feel better, but it was worth a shot.
The bottle was still three-quarters full when Mr. Schue called them up to go to the theater. They lined up, babbling in stage whispers. He hung in the back, trailing behind Brittany.
The assistant stage manager stood in the wings, talking quietly into his clearcomm headset. Kurt's stomach felt like it was full of butterflies; he couldn't tell if it was from nausea or nerves.
"Places, New Directions," the ASM said, pointing towards the stage. He followed them onto the risers, taking his place behind the curtain with everyone else. The emcee announced them, the curtains drew back, the lights hit, and New Directions launched into their interpretation of "Pull Shapes" by the Pipettes.
He knew he had to be sick when the lights hit him and he still felt cold. Usually standing under the full blast of the overhead cans made him sweat like a dog. Now he just had to stifle a shiver.
Luckily this song relied heavily on the girls, so all he had to do was stand in the back with the guys and keep up with the simple choreography and background vocals. The audience seemed to like the fun, poppy, 1960s girl-group performance.
He took a deep breath between phrases. He wasn't so worried about the opening song. It was the big, dance-heavy closing number. Oh, and his solo.
The song closed with a flourish and plenty of applause. That was at least a relief. But now he had to sing the required ballad. He would be ecstatic if he didn't feel so sick.
At least he was singing "I Wanna Hold Your Hand." Apparently his desperate need to express his emotions over the impending loss of his father had affected the glee club more than he realized. When Mr. Schue told them the retro theme for their performance, they had unanimously voted for him to sing that song. Well, Rachel's vote needed a little persuasion from Finn, but still. It was the thought that counted.
His voice sounded strange in his own ears, amplified by his microphone and the acoustics of the theater. He could have heard a pin drop, and he wasn't sure if it was a good thing or a bad thing.
He finished his song without throwing up. Thank goodness.
The audience roared its approval and he couldn't help but smile. Except for the nausea, he felt amazing. Electrified, almost.
But they still had one song to go. They launched into "Sweet Talkin' Woman" by the Electric Light Orchestra, and he forced himself to turn off every thought that wasn't performance related.
It was actually pretty cool, the way it was staged. Finn sang the solo part, but Mike and Brittany were actually acting out the song through dance- Mike as the narrator, and Brittany as Lola. Everyone else had their own little scenes to act out while they sang. Usually he liked it, since it gave him a chance to indulge his actor side as well as singing…but it was a little hard to emote properly when he was trying to hold in his breakfast. And the ginger ale.
Why is this song so long? he thought. I never realized it was this long…
If that song had lasted a few seconds longer, he might not have made it. But mercifully it ended, with a dramatic flourish and plenty of applause. The noise from the audience sounded like a dull, distant roar and his knees were shaking.
The assistant stage manager gestured for them to leave the stage. He bolted past his ecstatic, laughing teammates, and once they left the wings he ran in the opposite direction towards the bathrooms. He shoved open the first door he saw and got there just in time to fall on his knees and throw up.
He hated throwing up. Always had. He did his level best to avoid it on all costs. However, he supposed that at this juncture, it was completely unavoidable.
He flushed the toilet and leaned back, trying to figure out if he was done, or if his churning stomach was going to rebel again. The door creaked open, but his reflexes weren't fast enough to slam the stall door shut.
"Hi, Kurt," Brittany said, unfazed. "Why are you in the girls' bathroom?"
He couldn't put his thoughts together. "Oh…uh, you know," he said, still gripping the sides of the toilet.
She looked at him, her head tilted and her nose wrinkled. "Were you throwing up?" she asked. Her eyes lit up. "Quinn threw up when she was pregnant. Are you pregnant?"
He rolled his eyes. "Brittany, I can't get pregnant, I'm a boy," he reminded her.
She shrugged. "Boys can get pregnant. I read it in a story once," she said. "Wait here. I'll be right back."
She turned around and walked out. Kurt leaned on his knees towards the door. "What are you going to-" he started to say, but his throat suddenly tightened. He sank back against the wall, breathing deeply, rubbing his fingers against his temples.
I won't throw up, I won't throw up, I won't throw up…
He leaned over the toilet and threw up.
This time he couldn't seem to stop. Every time he thought his system was done hating him, that weird feeling in his throat would start up again and there he was, paying tribute to the porcelain gods again.
He didn't hear the door open this time. Instead, he just felt someone's gentle hand on his back. If he had had more control over himself, he would have turned around and told them he was fine, and thank you very much, but he could take care of himself.
Actually, though, it felt sort of nice.
He kept his head over the toilet until his stomach was past empty and he was dry-heaving, his throat still tight and his esophagus burning. He sucked in a deep calming breath as whoever it was kept rubbing his back. Now that he was done upchucking, the embarrassment was beginning to settle in.
"Thanks, I'm fine," he mumbled, trying to stand up.
"Not yet," Quinn said, pinning him down easily.
He stared at her blearily. "How'd you get here?" he asked.
"First of all, you're in the girl's bathroom. I have more right to be here than you," she said. "Second, Brittany walked into the green room and announced 'Kurt just hurled. Do you think it's a girl or a boy?'"
He rubbed his eyes. "Why does she think I'm pregnant?" he said.
Quinn shrugged. "She's Brittany," she said. She brushed a wayward lock of hair off his forehead. "I'm impressed, Kurt. How'd you manage to sing when you were feeling this bad?"
"You know me," he said. "Consummate performer."
They sat together on the dirty tiled bathroom floor. Ordinarily he would be disgusted, but he was too far gone to care. Quietly she reached over and loosened his tie, then tugged it away, rolled it up, and tucked it in her pocket. She placed her hand on his forehead. "You feel warm," she said. "Do you want to go lie down?"
"That would be fantastic," he whispered.
She helped him stand up and led him over to the sink. "You're going to want this," she said, fishing in her pocket for a travel-sized bottle of mouthwash. "I grabbed this from my bag when Brittany said you were getting sick. I couldn't go anywhere without this for nine months."
He uncapped the bottle and tipped it into his mouth, wincing at the sting. The overwhelming taste of peppermint washed out everything else, and he spat into the sink. "Thanks," he said, putting the cap back on and handing it over.
She pushed his hand back. "Keep it," she said. He sighed and slipped it into his pocket. "Now splash some cold water on your face."
"Yes, mother," he said, rolling his eyes. She was right, though- the cool water felt really good.
"Better, right?" she said as she handed him a paper towel.
"I suppose," he said, dabbing at his damp face.
She smiled and tucked her arm around his narrow waist. "Ready?" she said. "I should warn you, you're probably going to get attacked."
He frowned. "Attacked by what?" he asked.
She opened the door. The entire glee club was huddled in the hallway, waiting for him. "Are you okay?" Mercedes demanded.
He hid a little bit behind Quinn. "I'm fine," he said. "I promise, I'm fine. Don't look at me like that!"
Finn pushed past Quinn and grabbed him by the shoulders. "Do you want me to call your dad?" he asked. "Or my mom? She'll come get you and take you home. I mean, I know she's not your real mom, but she's pretty much your stepmom already, so-"
"I don't think it's bad enough for that," Kurt said.
"You look kind of greenish, Hummel," Puck said. "It's not really your color."
Quinn stepped past them. "Give him some space, okay?" she said. "He needs to rest."
He had never been quite so happy that Quinn naturally had that HBIC-type personality. She walked him to the green room and made him sit down on one of the couches, then sat down beside him. "Lie down," she ordered.
"Lie down," she repeated. He obeyed, stretching out on the couch with his head on her knees while the rest of the glee club filed in.
"You want me to get you anything, baby?" Mercedes asked.
"I've got some stomach pills in my bag," he said.
"You need to drink something," Quinn said. "Do you have a water bottle?"
Mercedes rummaged through Kurt's bag. "He's got this," she said, holding out the bottle of ginger ale.
His stomach tightened. "I don't think I can," he said.
"Honey, you just puked your guts out," Mercedes said. "Believe me, I had to babysit Little Mama over here. She got really miserable really fast if she didn't put something back in her stomach after her technicolor yawns."
"She's right," Quinn said.
"And morning sickness was such a lie. Morning…midafternoon…middle of the night…"
"Okay, we've got the picture, Mercedes," Quinn said, rolling her eyes. Mercedes grinned and handed him the bottle of ginger ale.
He sighed. "Really? It's probably coming to come right back up," he said. "As much as I don't want it to."
Mercedes took the cap off the bottle. He rolled his eyes and scooted up so he was half-sitting, half-lying on the couch with his head resting against Quinn's shoulder and sipped carefully at the bubbly soda.
"I'm sorry you don't feel well, Kurt," Rachel called from across the room.
"Thank you," he said. He frowned. "Why are you sitting over there?"
"I don't want to catch what you have," she said. Mercedes snorted.
Mr. Schuester walked into the greenroom, Miss Pillsbury following eagerly. "You guys were awesome!" he said, his grin so wide that it looked like his face was going to split in two. "I think the judges were really impressed. We've got a great shot at winning this!" He paused. "Kurt, are you okay?"
"He's pregnant," Brittany explained.
"He's sick," Quinn corrected.
Miss Pillsbury backed up. "Are you drunk again?" she asked.
"No, I'm not," Kurt said quickly. "I think it's just a stomach bug."
"You did a great job anyways," Mr. Schue said. "I couldn't even tell you were sick." He patted him on the knee. "Are you doing okay? What do you need?"
"I'm fine, I really am," Kurt said.
Mr. Schue gave him one of those looks that said he really didn't believe him. "Well, let me know if you need anything," he said. "We'll leave right after judging so you can go home, okay?"
"Okay," Kurt conceded begrudgingly. He could feel everyone's eyes on him, and it was really unsettling.
Mr. Schue cleared his throat. "The next group is going to start their performance in about twenty minutes," he said. "You guys should probably head upstairs and find some seats while they're still in intermission."
Most of them got up to follow him- Rachel well in the lead- but Tina sat down on the floor, her laptop on her knees. "Want to watch a movie?" she asked. "I've got some stuff downloaded on here. Sh, don't tell." She pulled up her downloads folder. "What do you want to watch?"
"Who, me?" Kurt said.
She twisted around and tickled his arm lightly. "Of course, you," she said. "Have any preferences?"
He shrugged. "Whatever's fine with me," he said. "Although I think I could do without the gory horror movies."
She laughed. "How about this?" she suggested, clicking on a file. "It's one of my favorite TV shows. We can probably get through a couple of episodes before it's time to start judging."
He settled back against Quinn's shoulder while they watched the show on Tina's laptop. Every so often she would tap her finger against the bottle, reminding him to drink something, and he would obediently take a sip. After a while she started absently running her fingers through his hair. Ordinarily he would throw a hissy fit about anyone messing up his meticulous hairstyle, but he was too drained to argue and besides, it was actually sort of nice.
Mercedes sat on the other of the couch with her hand resting on his ankle. Tina sat on the floor in front of him, and after a while Brittany sidled over. She kept glancing over her shoulder at him, sliding her gaze suspiciously over his torso.
"Kurt, am I the mother of your child?" she whispered.
"What? No!" he said. "I mean…wait. I'm not pregnant."
"I'm the only girl you've ever made out with, so I must be the mother," she said.
He struggled into a sitting position. "Britt," he said firmly. "Boo, I love you, but I'm not pregnant, and you're certainly not the mother." He paused and winced.
"Are you going to hurl again?" Mercedes asked.
He shook his head. "My stomach just hurts," he said.
"Try to sleep a little," Quinn said. He curled up with his head on her lap, pulling his knees up to his chest, but he knew deep down that he wasn't going to sleep. The pain had gone from annoying to sharp, and was verging on ridiculous. For a moment he toyed with the idea of telling Quinn, but his imagination supplied the mental image of the girls collectively freaking out and smothering him to death with their well-meant concern, so he clamped his mouth shut and stared at Tina's laptop screen.
Mr. Schue poked his head into the greenroom. "Time for judging," he said. "Kurt, do you want to stay here? You don't have to come up."
He struggled to his feet. "I can do it," he said, ignoring Mercedes's attempts to keep him on the couch.
Mr. Schue gave him another of those funny looks. "Okay," he said warily. "Don't push it, okay?" He waved him off. "I'm fine," he insisted.
Tina closed her laptop and they left the greenroom to catch up with the rest of the club. It took strenuous effort, but he managed to maintain his typical pace.
Finn caught him gently by the shoulder as they huddled in the wings. "Are you feeling better?" he asked. He just batted his hand away. Now was not really a good time for physical contact, not when his stomach was beginning its gymnastics routine again.
The assistant stage manager pointed them onto the stage along with the other groups. He felt a slender arm slide around his hips as they walked forward; he glanced over at Quinn, who was smiling at the audience while she tightened her grip on him.
It's not much longer, he told himself. In two hours, I will be at home, in my own bed. Two more hours.
He stifled a shiver despite the combined heat of warm bodies around him and the pounding stage lights. The judges were saying something that went in one ear and out the other, something about talent and energy and how they were very impressed.
One of the groups cheered as they were announced first runners-up and they were handed a tall trophy. Dimly he could tell that his fellow New Directions singers were getting nervous; this could end really well or really badly. At this point he didn't care if they won or lost, he just wanted to get off the stupid stage.
His knees kept shaking despite himself. He saw Quinn glance from him to someone behind him, a barely perceptible flick of her pretty green eyes. Just as he realized she was signaling someone, he felt a pair of big hands close over his shoulders. He looked up at Finn, who held on to him tightly.
Great, he thought unhappily. Now they're just waiting for me to faint dead away like some wimpy heroine.
Suddenly everyone was shrieking happily, and he realized that they'd won sectionals. He grinned in relief as he realized that all of his hard work was actually worth it. The audience clapped and cheered noisily as the judges pressed on through their congratulatory speech.
After what felt like an eternity, they finally left the stage. Rachel led the way, struggling to balance the oversized trophy. Kurt shook Finn's hands away from his shoulders. "I'm okay, really," he protested.
He staggered down the hall, his pace slowing as his stomach kept tightening. Quinn persisted in keeping her arm around his hips, and Finn followed them closer. The group got further and further ahead down the hallway.
"Kurt, are you going to be sick?" Quinn asked. "You're really pale again."
He shook his head, her voice sounding far away and distant in his ears. The pattern in the carpet below his feet kept spinning, making him even dizzier.
"Kurt?" Finn said.
He tried to answer, but all that came out was a strange croaking noise from the back of his throat. Quinn pulled him forcibly over to a trash can.
"Go ahead," she said gently. "You'll feel better when it's over."
He closed his eyes and sucked in a long slow breath, trying to keep himself calm. I will not throw up, I will not throw up, I will not throw up…he thought fervently.
"Kurt! Put your pride aside and just vomit, okay?" Quinn said sharply.
He scowled, trying to come up with a suitable retort, but his stomach hurt so badly and his throat kept jumping and he was just miserable enough that he suddenly found himself with his head over the trashcan, his hands digging into the sides as he threw up violently.
Quinn immediately put her arms around him, keeping him from falling over. She kept speaking to him softly, but he was having trouble listening to her, although he was pretty she had resorted to calling him "honey," and "baby" had definitely been tossed in there at least once.
His attentions were quickly diverted when he realized that he was still coughing and he couldn't stop. Dimly he heard Quinn calling his name. She pulled him upright during a slight pause and pressed the uncapped bottle of ginger ale into his hand. He took a drink and spat it back into the trashcan, the bubbles burning the back of his throat, but his stomach was beginning to settle. Carefully he took another sip, and this time he kept it down.
His knees gave out. Quinn made an oof-sounding noise as she tried to hold him up, but Finn took over and helped him lie down on the floor. "Kurt, you're really sick," Finn said.
"No kidding," he retorted weakly.
Quinn knelt beside him and put her hand on his forehead. "You have a fever," she said. She bit her lip.
Kurt stared up at the ceiling and realized that everyone had huddled around him. "Can you guys not stare at me like that?" he complained.
"Dude, that was some champion barfage," Puck said. "Good job."
"You can mail my trophy to my house later," Kurt said, gritting his teeth. His mouth tasted sour and bitter and the ginger ale wasn't doing anything to help.
"Someone needs to go get Mr. Schue," Quinn ordered. "I don't really know what to do."
"Should I get some ice chips?"
"Brittany! He's not pregnant!"
Of all people, Santana knelt down on the floor beside Kurt. "Hey, gay kid," she said. "I'm going to feel you up. It's totally platonic, though, okay?" She tugged on the tucked-in hem of his shirt.
"What are you doing?" Quinn demanded.
"I've been sick like this once before," she said. "Just once."
She pulled his shirt up to his ribcage, exposing his flat, pale stomach. He closed his eyes. "Really, people, you can stop staring at me now," he snapped.
Santana placed her hand against his left side, then looked and him and cocked an eyebrow. "Nothing?" she said. He shrugged.
She slid her hand across his stomach, brushing lightly over his navel. Then she touched his right side.
He bolted upright with more speed than he thought possible and let out a strangled scream. Quinn pulled him back and he slumped on her lap, trying to get his breath back.
"Uh-huh," Santana said, the only one not startled. "It's your appendix."
"My what?" he gasped.
She stood up, brushing her hands. "I had mine out when I was like ten," she said. "It's not that bad."
Rachel barreled back down the hall, dragging Mr. Schue and Miss Pillsbury behind her. "Kurt, what happened?" Mr. Schue asked.
"Santana thinks it's appendicitis," Quinn said.
"Really? Are you sure?" he said.
"He's at least sick enough for a hospital, I know that much," Mercedes said.
"Should we call an ambulance?" Miss Pillsbury asked.
Kurt shook his head. "It's not bad enough for that," he said. "I just…I just want to go home."
Mr. Schue shook his head. "We're taking you to the emergency room," he said. "Emma, can we take your car?"
She paled. "I don't know…"
"I'll sanitize it thoroughly before I bring it back," he promised. "And then you can sanitize it again."
She glanced at Kurt, then back at Mr. Schue. "All right," she relented.
"I'm going with him," Finn announced.
"Finn, I'm fine, I don't-"
Finn scooped Kurt up in his arms like he would a child. "Yeah, you don't really get to fight about this anymore," he said. Kurt kicked him, but Finn was unperturbed as he carried him down the hall, Mr. Schue leading the way to Miss Pillsbury's car. He started to argue that he was fine, he could walk, but the pain in his right side had gotten ridiculous. So he crossed his arms and stuck out his chin stubbornly, trying to maintain some semblance of his pride.
The air outside was cool, but not freezing. He actually felt a little better with the air brushing against his hot cheeks. Maybe he really was running a fever.
Mr. Schue unlocked the car and Finn deposited him in the backseat. Kurt curled up tightly, his right side pulsing. Finn got into the passenger seat and pulled something out of his pocket. Kurt closed his eyes; the rocking motion of the car as it rolled out of the parking lot actually felt sort of soothing.
"Hey, Burt. It's Finn."
Kurt sat up. "What are you doing?" he asked.
Finn held up a warning finger, then pointed to his phone. "Yeah, it went really well. Yeah, we won," he said. "It's pretty cool. Listen, we're taking Kurt to the emergency room."
Kurt closed his eyes as he heard his father's loud, muffled answer through the phone, even from his place in the backseat.
"No, no, he's not hurt. He just started throwing up and…yeah, he's okay. Mostly. We think it's his appendix." Finn pulled the phone away from his ear and winced, then put it back. "Yeah, I'll keep an eye on him. What? No, I haven't called my mom yet. Yeah, I'll keep you updated till you get here. Uh-huh. Yeah. See you soon."
He closed his flip phone. "So your dad's coming," he said.
"I gathered that," Kurt mumbled.
"He's kind of worried about you."
"Gathered that too."
Finn turned around in his seat. "Ugh, you look gross," he said.
"Geez, Finn, thanks."
Mr. Schue pulled the car up to the overhang in front of the emergency room. "Go ahead and take him in," he said. "I'll park."
Finn got out of the car and opened the passenger door. "C'mon, Kurt," he said, holding out his hands. "Let's go. Or do I have to carry you again?"
Kurt crawled out of the car. "I'm good, I'm good," he said. He ignored Finn's outstretched hands and stood up on his own accord, wobbly but still walking. Finn followed him closely with his big hand on Kurt's back.
"Here, you sit," Finn said, directing him to one of the waiting room chairs. "I'll go sign you in."
Kurt put his elbow on the armrest and leaned his cheek heavily on his hand. He didn't feel like he was going to throw up any time soon- his episode in the hallway had cured him of that- but his side felt like one of those baby aliens was about to burst out of him.
Finn walked back from the desk. "C'mon, they said you can go right to triage," he said.
"I can go to what?" Kurt said, pushing himself out of the chair.
"Haven't you ever been to an emergency room before?" Finn asked.
"For myself? Once, when I was seven," he said, trying to walk without hunching over completely. Finn held the door to the triage room open for him. "I try to avoid health issues. You sound experienced, though."
"Yeah, well, you start football when you're five and a whole new world of random injuries opens up to you," Finn said. Kurt hoisted himself onto the examining table and laid back slowly, trying to quiet the pain in his side.
A nurse walked into the room with a clipboard in hand. "Hi, there," she said. "I'm Anna. What's the trouble today?"
"We think he has appendicitis," Finn explained.
She took a thermometer and slipped it between Kurt's lips. "Hold that under your tongue, honey," she said. "Are you family?"
"His brother," Finn said. "Well, stepbrother. Sort of." Anna gave him a funny look, but picked up a pen. "What's his full name and birthdate?" she asked.
"Kurt…Elijah…Hummel, h-u-m-m-e-l," Finn said. He glanced at Kurt, who nodded. "April…16th?"
Kurt shook his head.
"It's the seventeenth, April 17, 1994," Finn corrected.
"Okay. Any chronic health issues or allergies?"
"Just a dust allergy," Finn said.
"Family medical history?"
Finn paused. "His dad's got heart problems," he said. "And his mom died from some kind of colon thing." Kurt suddenly blanched. He hadn't even thought of that.
The nurse set the clipboard down and took the thermometer out of his mouth. "My mother died of ulcerative colitis," he blurted out. "Is that what I have? Am I going to die?"
Finn put his hand on Kurt's leg. "Let's check you out before you panic, all right?" Anna said. She check the thermometer. "You have a fever of 103. That's no good. Have you had any nausea or vomiting?"
"Ooh, he's had plenty," Finn said. Kurt shot him a pointed look.
"Does your side hurt?" the nurse asked.
"Ridiculously so," he said.
The nurse frowned. "Let me take your blood pressure, and then I'm going to get a doctor to come take a look at you," she said. She took it quickly and left.
Kurt stared up at the beige ceiling tiles. "You're not going to die," Finn said quietly.
"You don't know that."
"Kurt, you're just sick," he said. "If it's just your appendix, they'll take it out and you'll be fine."
"My mother was fine," he retorted. "She was fine and then…then she wasn't."
Finn sat down on the wheeled stool, rolled over to him, and grabbed his hand. "You're going to be okay," he said. "I promise."
Kurt bit his lip. Finn squeezed his hand, and after a long pause he squeezed it back. "Thanks," he said reluctantly.
The door creaked open and they dropped their hands. "Oh, there you are," Puck said. He leaned back into the hallway. "Guys, I found 'em."
"Have you just been looking in every room in the ER looking for us?" Finn said skeptically.
"Yeah we have," Artie said, wheeling himself in with a scowl. "And you do not want to know what I just saw."
Before Kurt knew it he was surrounded by the girls. "How do you feel?" Mercedes asked.
"Like crap," he said, deciding to go the honesty route for once.
Quinn smiled. "Well, you look like crap," she said, smoothing his hair back.
"Don't rub it in," he groused. "And for goodness sake, please keep all mirrors away from me."
The nurse came back in, accompanied by a doctor, who was studying Kurt's chart. "All right, Kurt, I'm-" He paused and looked at the suddenly packed room, all of them still wearing matching performance costumes. "The last time this happened…oh, no. Is one of you in labor?"
"He's preg-" Brittany started to say, but Santana clamped a hand over her mouth and shook her head.
"He just has a lot of friends," Finn explained.
The doctor shook his head. "Let's take a look at you," he said.
Kurt could feel his cheeks going pink with mortification as the doctor poked and prodded at him. "You know, you could have conveniently left at this point," he said to the assembled glee club.
"Hey, if everyone got to see me when my water broke and I was squeezing a baby out, they get to see you turn green while you get poked," Quinn said.
"I'm not turning green."
"Oh, yes, you are," Tina said.
"You people are just-"
The doctor jabbed Kurt in his right side. He doubled over, trying his hardest to not freak out with everybody staring at him. The room instantly fell silent as he covered his eyes with his forearm and attempted to keep from crying.
"You have a textbook case of appendicitis," the doctor said crisply. "We'll move you to pre-op and get you into surgery in the next hour."
"Surgery?" Kurt repeated, his eyes still covered. The initial relief that it wasn't his mother's illness was almost instantaneously washed away by the sudden terror of an operation. "Right now?"
"Trust me, you don't want to put it off," the doctor said. He turned around to the group filling up the tiny examination room. "The rest of you will have to wait. There's a lounge in the surgery wing."
"Fine, we can take the hint," Puck said.
As much as he disliked everyone staring at him, he disliked the idea of being completely alone in a strange hospital even more. His mind raced as his friends bade him goodbye and good luck, the guys patting him awkwardly on the shoulder and the girls kissing him on the cheek or the forehead.
"Can't anyone stay with me?" he asked, hating how wimpy his voice sounded, but unable to speak normally just the same.
"Sure, honey," the nurse said. "Your brother can stay."
"And maybe one other person?" he said, his voice sounding a little more confident.
"I don't see a problem with that."
He caught Quinn by the arm. She glanced down at him and smiled. He settled back, still aching and nervous, but at least somewhat relieved.
The nurse brought in a wheelchair. "All right, time to go," she said.
He made a face. "I really have to ride in one of those?" he said.
"Only unless you'd rather walk up three flights of stairs."
He scowled and slid gingerly off the examination table. Quinn fixed his crooked shirt collar and smoothed his disheveled hair as he settled into the wheelchair. The nurse rolled him down the hall with Quinn and Finn on either side, like some sort of odd, 1960s security detail.
The pre-op room was small and quiet; he struggled out of the wheelchair once they got there. "Once you've changed, we'll get you started on an IV drip," the nurse said. "It'll probably be another hour until your surgery."
He stared dismally at the folded hospital gown on the wheeled bed. "I have to wear that?" he complained.
"There's a bathroom over there so you can change," she said. "I'll be back in about fifteen minutes with your IV."
She left, the door closing behind her, and Kurt stared down at the floor, scowling. "Do what she said," Quinn said. She handed him the hospital gown and propelled him to the bathroom. "We'll be here if you need us."
"I hope not," he mumbled under his breath. The day had been bad enough, embarrassment-wise. He didn't need to add people seeing him in his underwear to the list.
He kicked off his shoes and socks, then unbuttoned his shirt. Carefully he folded it up and draped it over the sink. He unbuttoned his trousers and slid them off, then shook out the crinkled polyester hospital gown. It was the last thing in the world he wanted to wear, but he pulled it on, wrinkling his nose at the feel of the synthetic fabric against his skin.
He turned to the door, but paused when he caught his reflection. He did look awful- completely white, with dark circle under his eyes and an odd greenish tint to his lips. Quickly he looked away and walked back into the room.
"Don't I look fabulous?" he said wryly.
"Just suck it up, Kurt," Quinn said, smiling. "One day in awful clothes won't ruin your life." He crawled into the bed, suddenly feeling slightly better now that he was lying down. Granted, the mattress wasn't the most comfortable thing in the world and it smelled like hospital detergent, but he leaned back into the pillow, relieved. Quinn tucked him in snugly.
Finn wandered around the room with his hands in his pockets. "Dude, they're going to put you under," he said. "It's really weird, but it's super cool at the same time."
"Thanks for the reassurance," Kurt said.
The nurse came in with the IV equipment. "Ooh, I hate those things," Quinn said without thinking. "They gave me one of those when I had Beth."
Kurt winced. "Not helping," he said.
"Sorry," she said.
The nurse swabbed the back of his hand with an alcohol patch and he turned his head away as she raised the needle. "Are you okay?" Quinn asked.
"I hate needles," he mumbled. His entire body tensed up; Quinn took him by the hand. "I hate needles, I hate needles, I hate- ow!"
"It's okay, it's done," Quinn said.
He relaxed, taking in a deep breath as the nurse plugged the IV bag to the tube running to his hand. "This will keep you hydrated and help with the pain," the nurse explained. "The doctor will be back in about an hour to bring you in for surgery. Don't hesitate to call if you need anything."
Finn sat down on the rolling stool as she left. "These things are fun," he said, rolling around the room. He pushed himself off the wall and shot lazily past Kurt's bed.
"You're not being very helpful," Quinn said, rolling her eyes. "Turn on the TV."
Finn obeyed and flipped around the channels until he landed on a slightly fuzzy rerun of Psych. He kept rolling around, the wheels making a soothing mechanical sound on the tile floor. Quinn stayed beside Kurt, her fingers wrapped around his. He burrowed under the covers, his body still caught in the weird combination of heat and chills from his fever, and watched the television quietly as the IV dripped through his veins.
He had almost fallen asleep when the doctor and the anesthesiologist came in. "It's time to go," the doctor said.
"Go where?" Kurt murmured sleepily.
Quinn rose and bent over him. "Your surgery," she said gently. "You're going to go to sleep, and when you wake up you'll feel a lot better."
He glanced over at the anesthesiologist, unpacking his equipment, and didn't even attempt to stifle the sudden spike of panic. "Do I really have to do this?" he said.
"Mm-hm," she said patiently. "You're going to be fine. I promise."
Ordinarily he would care about his personal pride, but now didn't seem like a very good time. "Finn?" he called.
Finn appeared in his line of vision. "Yeah, I'm here," he said. "Don't freak out."
"A little late for that," he mumbled.
The anesthesiologist moved over to him with an immense mask of clear vinyl and black rubber. "Hi, there," he said. "We're going to put you under now, okay?"
Kurt gripped Quinn's hand tightly as the mask closed over his face. I wonder if this is what drowning feel like, he thought frantically.
"All right, Kurt, I want you to count back from ten for me." Finn squeezed his upper arm. Quinn lifted his hand to her lips and kissed it lightly.
"Ten," he said, his voice small and muffled and echoey in the depths of the mask.
It smelled like flowers and nail polish remover.
He was asleep before he reached seven.
It seemed like a second later that he was opening his heavy eyes. His whole body felt curiously heavy, but he didn't have any feeling in it. It was like he had slept funny on his arm and it had fallen asleep…but...it was his entire body. It was trippy.
"Hey, he's waking up."
He frowned. Why are people watching me sleep? he wondered.
"Hey, Scooter. It's your dad."
He opened his eyes and frowned, then mumbled something, his mouth feeling as a dry as cotton.
"What's wrong, Kurt?"
He swallowed hard and tried again. "There's an elephant," he said clearly.
"There's a what?"
He frowned, staring fixedly into the corner. "There's an elephant over there," he said. "Except…there shouldn't be one. And I know it's not really there. But I think I see an elephant."
His dad laughed. "They've got you on the good painkillers, don't they?" he said. Kurt glanced over at him and nodded, although he couldn't quite keep his head straight.
Finn snickered. "Let me get my phone. I should film this," he said.
"He'll kill you if you do," Carole warned him.
Kurt leaned back and stared up at the ceiling. "And there's a duck," he sighed contentedly. "I like it. It's a nice duck."
Burt tilted Kurt's chin towards him so that he could make eye contact. "Kiddo, do you remember what happened?" he asked gently.
Kurt frowned. "I threw up," he said. "Everyone was there. Now I'm here."
"You had to have your appendix out," Burt reminded him.
"Am I dead?" Kurt asked, horrified.
"No, no, you're not dead," Burt said. "You were in surgery for about an hour and you've got a pretty decent scar. But you'll be fine. You can go home tomorrow or the day after."
"Oh," Kurt said. He made a face. "I don't want a scar."
"Scar or die, kiddo, take your pick."
"I pick scar."
Finn kept rolling back and forth on the chair. "Talk about elephants and ducks again, Kurt, I've got my phone ready," he said.
"I don't wanna talk about it," he whined.
Carole caught Finn by his collar, halting him in his path. "Go tell your friends that he's awake," she said. "They've been sitting around waiting for forever. I think Mercedes is about to explode." She smoothed Kurt's blankets over his chest. "Do you want to see them, honey?"
He paused. He knew he ought to be embarrassed to have them see him like this, disheveled and disoriented and sweaty from his fever. But they'd already seen him throw up, fall asleep in weird locations, and watched several people poke him. It couldn't get any worse.
"I guess," Kurt sighed.
"This is awesome," Finn said. "Quick, take some more of that morphine. You'll be hilarious!"
Kurt just rolled his eyes, and despite himself, he smiled.
This oneshot is proof that I am RIDICULOUS. Seriously. What was I thinking when I wrote this?
At least I tried to make it funny. I've been writing so much fricking angst lately, and besides, the site is already inundated with stories of Kurt getting sick or injured and it's super-serious. Don't get me wrong- they're mostly awesome, and goodness knows I've dabbled in those fields myself. But sometimes I think the Glee fandom needs more funny stuff.
I have a Brian Regan reference in here! I love that man. He's hilarious.
"Grilled Cheesus" is one of my favorite Glee episodes, and it just breaks my heart every time I hear Chris Colfer sing "I Wanna Hold Your Hand." So the sectionals playlist sort of springboarded off of that. "Sweet Talkin' Woman" is my favorite ELO song, and if you haven't heard of the Pipettes, you should. Their first album is markedly better than their new one, but they're super awesome. "Pull Shapes" is one of the greatest dance songs ever.
I kind of messed with the fourth wall...so that's why Brittany keeps talking about how she's so sure that Kurt's pregnant. Wouldn't that be a great story? Brittany reading fanfiction and thinking it was real? Oh, man. If I was a decent writer I'd try that...
I decided Kurt's middle name is Elijah. I don't know why. I just think it's adorable.
Also, Kurt babbles about elephants and ducks whilst heavily medicated because that's what my husband did. He had ulcerative colitis when he was sixteen, and his girlfriend at the time (who is one of my best friends and was one of my bridesmaids) called him after a surgery to see how he was. He kept talking about ducks, and how he loved them and was apparently quite concerned over them. She was like "uh...I'll call you back." Although now she wishes she had recorded it..
So anyways...I hope you enjoyed my long-winded babbling. And my ridiculousness.