a/n: So, that short single scene in season one when Finn tells his mother that Quinn's pregnant might be one of my favourite in the show. It's just so real. And it makes me adore Carole, despite how little we know of her. That scene sort of inspired this story, along with the fact that there's so much about the Carole/Burt plotline that's been skipped (I guess that's the consequence of having a show with so many main characters) and I wanted to write something that put all the pieces together before their wedding next week :) Title and lyrics are from the song "Waitin' on a Sunny Day" by Bruce Springsteen.
It's rainin' but there ain't a cloud in the sky,
Must of been a tear from your eye.
Everything'll be okay.
Funny, thought I felt a sweet summer breeze,
Must of been you sighin' so deep.
Don't worry we're gonna find a way.
I'm waitin', waitin' on a sunny day.
Gonna chase the clouds away,
Waitin' on a sunny day. . . .
The kitchen is a mess. The house is a mess. She's a mess.
She can't do this by herself. She can't survive on her own in this tiny town with a crappy job, a broken heart, and a baby on her hip. She hasn't slept in days, because if she's not crying over Chris, then Finn's crying, and she can barely think straight anymore.
Her mom comes for a visit, and Carole's too tired even to care that her mother makes a face at the state of the house. The drying machine broke two days ago and clothes are laid out everywhere. Most are already dry, but she doesn't have time to pick them up. There're baby toys beneath, above, and all around the clothes, and half of them are broken from having come underfoot. Dishes are piled in the sink, the bills are scattered across the counter, and Finn, who's screaming like nobody's business, has just spit up all over Carole's blouse.
She tries to talk with her mom over the sound of Finn, tries to assure her she's fine, even tries to offer her something to eat. But she quickly realises she needs to go grocery shopping. Great, she thinks sourly, one more thing I don't have time to do. She can't do this. She simply can't.
And then her mom, looking at her with eyes full of care and concern, asks the question gently. "Do you want me to take him?"
"If you think you can get him to sleep, that would be amazing," Carole says. "His favourite blanket is around here somewhere. He always needs that to sleep. Do you see it?" She glances around, shifting Finn slightly so he isn't screaming bloody murder right into her ear.
Her mom places a gentle arm on her shoulder. "Carole," she murmurs. "I don't mean for an hour or two this afternoon. I mean, do you want me to take him to come live with me and Daddy in Columbus? I know you don't want to leave Lima, because Chris loved it here, and I know you have your house and your job, but if you want —"
"You can't take my son," Carole interrupts, not sure she understands what her mother's suggesting.
"Honey," her mother says, using that voice. "You're too young to be a mother at all, let alone a single mother. You're obviously not able to handle this. Let me take Finn. Daddy and I will take good care of him, and you can start to pick up the pieces of your life."
Carole gapes at her mother. "You can't take my son," she repeats, and she clutches Finn so close she can feel his tear-stained cheeks press wetly to her neck. His cries lessen slightly as he hiccoughs, and his tiny fingers curl around the collar of her shirt.
"Sweetheart," her mom says, "be reasonable. It doesn't mean you love him any less. It only means you want the best for him, just like I want the best for you, and —"
"No, Mom. Just no!"
"You can't take my son! You can't! He's all I've got left!"
Her mother sighs. But she nods and concedes. "Okay." She leaves a few hours later, after helping pick up the house a little and do some dishes. As soon as her car pulls out of the drive, Carole collapses in Chris's beloved chair. Finn is nestled in her arms, asleep with one fist tightly clutching his blanket and the other tightly clutching her shirt. He snores, cute, little, adorable baby snores, and she can hear a phantom Chris chuckling at the sound.
Finn will wake up the moment she tires to put him in his crib. (She doesn't want to put him down, anyway.)
She can't do this by herself.
But she's not by herself. She's got Finn. And they can do this together.
There's something about the sounds Finn makes when she's feeding him that Carole loves.
She holds him with one arm and holds the bottle with the other, and she listens, and she wants him to stay a sweet little baby as much as she wants him to grow up and let her have a few restful nights of sleep. She closes her eyes and listens to the way he gurgles, the little breathes he takes, the sucking noises he makes, and she thinks maybe it's strange to enjoy those sounds.
She doesn't know anybody with a baby, so she has no one to ask. Her friend Cheryl had a daughter a few months back, but she lives out in Columbus, and Carole hasn't seen her in over a year. Besides, Carole doesn't care if it's normal.
It's probably not normal to run your thumb over the tiny, tiny knuckles on your baby's tiny, tiny hands over and over again, just because they're so tiny. It's probably not normal to sing him to sleep with cheesy classic '80s music. It's probably not normal to lay him on her bed beside her as he sleeps and just smell him, smell baby lotion and powder and Finn.
But she does all that, anyway.
She can't help it. She just loves him so much. She doesn't know how not to.
She loses her job when Finn's three, and she has to resort to hands outs.
She goes to the grocery store and avoids the sixteen-year-old cashier's gaze as she hands him the food stamps card. The only reason she can do it, the only thing that gets her through it all despite the bruises to her pride, is chubby Finn sitting in the cart, clutching his goldfish and blinking at her with no understanding of money or jobs or being poor.
She finally manages to find another job, and it lasts until Finn's seven. Her boss comes on to her, she turns him down, and she's fired. She's so upset she shatters a glass against the wall. She knows it's so wrong, so unfair, and she thinks about how she should go to a lawyer and protest. She knows there's somebody out there who'd literally love to fight her cause for her.
But she doesn't have the time or energy for that. She wouldn't even know where to start. So she gets another food stamp card, and she scrimps to make it by, taking terrible jobs at fast food joints and grocery stores. Finally, when Finn's nine, she gets a job as a hotel receptionist, and she gets benefits and the best salary she's ever had, and it's all okay from there.
She tries to shield Finn from the worst of it, but she knows she does a terrible job.
She pours herself another cup of boxed wine.
That little blonde hussy probably thinks herself too classy for boxed wine. What could Darren possibly see in her? Carole's hands curl around her plastic cup. She shouldn't be thinking like that. She should be asking herself what she ever saw in a loser like Darren in the first place.
She's Carole Hudson. She's the war widow of an amazing man. She's the mother of an amazing boy. She has a pretty decent house, owns her own car, and finally has a steady job. She's struggled to make ends meet (she still sort of does), but she's managed to make it this far. She can pay for how own milk now. (And she can throw it at the truck of that stupid, stupid jackass.)
Darren's nothing. He's nothing.
But then why does she care so fucking much?
"Mom?" Finn asks.
She's startled. "What's the matter? Shouldn't you be in bed?"
He's standing there in his pyjamas — two sizes too small, she notices with a pang of guilt — looking at her with large eyes. "I just wanted to say something," he says, and he shifts a little as he tugs on his shirt self-conciously.
She feels her heart melt a little. "What's that, hon?"
"I think you're a really cool mom." He looks suddenly so very earnest. "I think you're the best mom in the whole world." He pauses. He rocks a little on his feet and his expression is sheepish once more. "I just thought you should know that."
She feels her eyes burn a little with the tears. "C'mere," she murmurs, and she tugs him close. He mashes his face to her stomach as she wraps her arms him. He's already getting so big. But he's still her baby. He always will be. "Thank you, Finn," she whispers. She runs a hair tenderly over his hair. "I love you so much. You know that, right? More than anybody or anything, I love you."
He nods into her stomach. "I love you, too," he says, his voice muffled in her shirt.
That blonde piece of ass might have Darren, but she doesn't have Finn, and there's no comparison.
"Do you want me to drive you?" she offers.
"What? No!" He looks alarmed. "Mom, that's so not cool! I can't have my mom drop me off at school on my first day in high school! Puck'd never let me forget it! Nobody would ever let me forget it!"
Carole only laughs and pats his cheek affectionately. He's gotten so big. She can barely fathom that he was once so tiny. But, really, when she looks at him she still sees big, brown baby eyes staring back at her. "Is it uncool to have your mom pack you lunch, too?" She holds up a brown bag. "I put a pudding cup in it.
He sputters in horror and she bites back more laughter.
None of Finn's friends at McKinley really seem genuine.
Puck might be, and Puck's a sweet boy somewhere deep inside, Carole knows, but she sometimes wishes Finn had other friends, too. People whose sweetness isn't buried quite so deep. And then there's Quinn.
Quinn is a nice girl, sure. She's pretty and smart and, okay, Carole doesn't know her that well.
But Quinn rolls her eyes when Finn is watching football on television and shouts happily at the screen. She berates him and tells him not to eat so much of this or so much of that. On more than one occasion Carole hears the girl lecturing him in his room all the way from the kitchen. As far as Carole can tell, Quinn simply doesn't treat Finn very well.
Finn deserves someone who does. Finn deserves the best. Carole knows Finn likes Quinn, though, maybe even fancies himself in love with her, so she bites her tongue.
Still, she worries about him a lot.
It's not like she worries about him crossing the street without an adult, or falling off the monkey bars, or falling prey to the taunts of a bully who notices his clothing is from Goodwill. No, it's a different kind of worry. High school isn't a friendly place, she knows, and it kills her now more than ever that he doesn't have a father to turn to.
If she tries, she can ignore it. After all, when he's at home with her, when he's wolfing down his dinner or watching jeopardy with her or happily playing his drums for her, he's still her Finn, her beautiful little boy. He looks so much like Chris, yet he's so much his own person, too, and the combination is perfect, honestly. He's the sweetest child this world has ever known.
But she really shouldn't ignore it. She shouldn't ignore the way he hunches into himself when she mentions the poor girl she saw out running. "She had egg all over her," Carole says as she unloads the groceries. "Even in her hair. And I could see the tears on her face, even from my car. Who would bully a helpless, harmless girl like that?"
"I don't know, Mom," he mutters, staring at the counter. "Stupid people."
She shouldn't ignore how tense he sometimes seems. She shouldn't ignore how often she sees him staring at his dad's urn. She shouldn't ignore how quiet he becomes as his freshmen year goes on. She shouldn't. She tries her best not to. She tries to talk to him, and she thinks maybe it helps a little.
But she really is at a loss. All she can do is love him, and somehow hope that's enough.
"So, I kinda joined a club," he says, pushing the peas around on his plate.
"A club?" she repeats, hoping it'll be something that's good for him.
"Yeah, kinda like a . . . music club."
She waits for him to go on. Sometimes talking to Finn requires the fine art simply of waiting for the rest of his thoughts to seep out.
"It's called New Directions. My Spanish teacher, Mr. Schue, started it. It's, um, it's like a Glee club. It is a Glee club." He looks at her as if for approval, and she smiles widely. He smiles, too, obviously encouraged. "It's actually pretty cool. There's a girl in it, her name's Rachel, and she's so good, Mom. Like, she could be on the radio. . . ."
He goes on, talks more about the club, about singing and Mr. Schue and Rachel, and she can't help but smile at the thought that maybe this club will be exactly what he needs.
It isn't supposed to happen like this. He's supposed to have the world. He isn't supposed to have a baby to his name when he's barely more than a baby himself. She should have done something to prevent it, she really should have.
She'll do everything she can for him now, though.
She hugs him and holds him until he has no more tears to cry. She listens to his thoughts on everything, on the baby and on Quinn giving her up. She even lets Quinn into her home when the poor girl's parents (soulless monsters, really, not parents) kick her out.
Most importantly of all, she never lets him catch her crying.
He doesn't respond when she calls out his name, so she heads to look for him.
She's had a long day at work, dealt with one too many complaining customers, and she wants to see her boy. "Finn?" she asks, knocking on his bedroom door frame to warn him she's there. (She really doesn't need to walk in on him with his hand downs his pants again.)
Concern flares to life in her instantly. He's leaning against the wall of his room, his knees drawn to his chest, and she can see he's been crying. "Finn," she murmurs. "What's happened?" She takes a hesitant step towards him.
He won't look at her. He doesn't' seem to notice that she's there. "Finn," she says, and he looks at her before looking sharply away. He pushes himself to his feet and then brushes past her and out of his small room. "It's nothing," he says. He makes it to the kitchen, and he tears the fridge open viciously.
"It's not nothing," she insists gently, following him. "What is it?"
He slams the fridge shut, and his knuckles are white as he grips a soda. "You're not gonna be a grandmother anymore," he says tightly.
Her heart jumps up into her throat. "Oh, sweetheart. Did Quinn — did she miscarry?"
He chokes, and she realises with a kind of terror that it's on tears. He's standing there, every inch of his tall, large frame trembling, and he's choking on tears. "No," he says. "She can't miscarry my kid if it was never my kid in the first place." He finally looks at her.
She stares, unsure she heard him right. "What . . . ?"
"It's not mine, Mom. It's never been mine. She slept with Puck. Quinn went behind my back and slept with Puck, and he's the father. They lied to me, and I . . . we never even have sex, but Quinn told me that you could still get pregnant if . . . and I believed her! I'm such a — fucking idiot. I'm a big, lumbering idiot —!"
"No," Carole says softly, her heart breaking.
"Yes!" he shouts. "I'm a fucking dumbass!" He throws the soda across the kitchen and it slams into the wall, splattering coke everywhere as he runs his shaking hands through his hair. "Everybody lied to me. They all knew. Rachel was the only one who didn't, and she told me when she found out, but everybody else lied, and I didn't even think — I'm such a fucking idiot!"
"Stop!" Carole screams, unable to talk it anymore.
She grabs his arms and forces him to look at her. "Stop that right now, Finn Hudson. Don't you dare say anything like that ever again. No one is allowed to call my son stupid, least of all him, d'you hear me? You are not stupid. You are not." He has to hear her. He has to believe her.
He's crying freely now. "How — what am I supposed to do, Mom? My girlfriend and my best friend — and I — I know that it's good. I mean, it's better that I'm not gonna be a dad. But . . . I still feel like I've lost . . . like they stole her from me and. . . ."
She clutches him, and they both sink to the floor, his face pressed into her neck like he's a little kid again. "Hey, hey," she murmurs, rocking him. "You did lose something. You loved her, and they took her away from you. It's okay to be upset. It's okay. It's gonna be okay." She doesn't know what else to say, so they stay there, rocking quietly alone on the kitchen floor, for a long time.
When he finally pulls away from her, she holds his face in her hands and wipes away the last of his tears with her thumbs. "I don't even know how I can look them again, let alone go to school with them and, God, Glee, and . . .," he says.
"I know," she whispers, running a hand up and down his arm. "It's gonna be hard. For a long time, it's gonna be hard. But you'll make it through. You've got me to help you. We'll make through. We always do, don't we?" She smiles tentatively.
"Yeah," he says, and he manages the smallest of smiles. "Yeah, we do."
She makes steak and potatoes for dinner, because that's his favourite and if ever there's a time to spoil him, it's now. They watch Deadliest Catch reruns all night, and he falls asleep leaning against her. He's too big, too heavy, for her to pick up and carry to bed.
But she can pick up a little of the weight that's pushing down on his shoulders, (on his young, innocent shoulders) and she can carry that for him. They'll make it through this.
She really wants to meet Rachel.
He's been talking about her all year, about how she can sing so good, and how she listens to him, and how she's totally cooler than people realise. It always makes Carole smile when he goes on about Rachel, simply because he looks so happy. The year goes on, and his talk of Rachel reduces to mere slips, as if he thinks it's wrong to talk about her once Quinn's pregnant.
She's still a huge part of his life, though, Carole knows. He gets a job, and she doesn't miss the soft, "Rachel helped me," he adds before quickly going on to talk about his wheelchair. He talks about how he's really trying to be leader in Glee. "Rachel says I'm the only one who can do it," he says, before busying himself with his dinner. It happens again and again.
Suffice to say, Carole really, really wants to meet this girl. She says so a few time, but Finn only grunts and doesn't really acknowledge it.
When Carole comes home to find Finn circling things with great concentration at the kitchen table, she assumes it's homework. "What're you up to?" she asks. "Math?"
"Nope," he says, "Rachel."
"Rachel?" Carole repeats, pulling off her heels.
"She made these couple calendars for us, and so I'm trying to pick dates when we can go out. I think I'm gonna try to take her bowling on Saturday. She likes bowling, like me."
Carole can't help it. She grins. "You and Rachel have started dating? Sweetie, that's wonderful."
His eyes jump to her and then jump away guiltily. "Actually, we kinda started dating a while ago. It just sorta . . . happened. Like, she came over here after school and I started crying 'cause of Quinn and all that," he turns a little pink but plows on, "and I just kissed her, 'cause she just gets me, and then after that she thought we were dating, so we . . . were."
Carole frowns. "Didn't you want to?"
"Yeah! I did! Well, I do. I kinda . . . I was still upset over everything. So, I . . . I broke up with her." He looks at her, distress written all over his face. "But I want her back, Mom. I thought I wanted everything to be like it was before the baby, but I don't. I want it to be better than that. I want to be with Rachel." He looks back at the calendar.
She considers him for a moment. "You probably shouldn't have jumped into a relationship so soon," she tells him softly. "But you might have really hurt her, Finn. If you two do get together again, you'll treat her right this time, won't you?"
It's not really a question, but he nods eagerly in answer. "I will, Mom. I swear."
She smiles and starts dinner.
On Saturday, she asks him if he'll be back from his date in time for dinner. "Or are you having dinner out?" she asks. "You'll probably having dinner with Rachel, won't you?" She chuckles. "It's been so long since I've been on a date I don't even remember how it works!"
"Actually, ah, we're not going out." He rubs at the back of his neck. "She kinda shot me down. I think she's scared, Mom. 'Cause I really hurt her. But I . . . I'm gonna prove to her that I really do like her." He looks so determined as he meets her gaze.
"Sounds like a plan," Carole says. "But I guess for tonight it's just me, you, and a little Yahtzee."
She doesn't know what do say to Finn, so she says nothing.
She feels a little guilty about that, but there's no point in sitting him down for a talk if nothing's going to come from all this. (And the chances of this going anywhere are slim, anyway, right?) When Finn goes out to the movies with some boys from Glee, she goes out, too. She wears perfume for the fist time in ages, and she puts on one of her really nice church dresses. She's nearly trembling with anticipation when she hears the doorbell ring.
She opens the door, and there he is, and he's brought flowers. "Oh, Burt," she says, "they're beautiful."
"Like you," he says, and then he blushes a little. She blushes, too. She feels like a teenager again, and her heart skips a beat in her chest as he takes her hand and walks her to his car. "Do you like Italian?" he asks.
"I love it," she assures shyly.
He opens her car door for her. It's a wonder she doesn't swoon.
She's nervous the entire car ride, and when he leads her into the fancy restaurant, and even after their meals have arrived. He talks about his son, and she realises that she really wants this to work out. She's pretty sure there are few things she's ever wanted so much in her life. She tells him about work, and about Finn, and how he's been through so much, and Burt nods in understanding.
"It's really hard being a kid these days," he says, and he looks so genuinely concerned as he speaks. "I really want to do the right thing for Kurt, you know? But I just don't know what that is."
She knows exactly what he means.
The conversation starts to come more easily. When she mentions she likes bowling, he grins. "It's two dollar bowling night tonight!" he exclaims. "You want to go?" And then his eyes go a little wide. "I mean —"
"Definitely," she replies, grinning.
The bowling alley smells like alcohol and stale chips, she bowls worse than the eight-year-old girl in the next lane, and Burt makes her laugh so hard she slips on the bowling lane and falls right on her butt. She hasn't had so much fun in years.
He kisses her on her doorstep. "I'll call you," he tells her.
He calls later that night. It's the perfect night. He's the perfect man.
(Now she simply needs to find a way to tell Finn.)
She's never been so ashamed of herself.
She doesn't know how it got to this, but she knows she's neglected him, neglected her son, her beautiful, beautiful boy, the person she loves more than anyone. And she didn't even realise it until her whole happy life came crashing down around her.
It happens in the middle of the week. She works late, and when she arrives home — to the Hudson/Hummel house, she thinks happily — she finds Burt sitting at the kitchen table and nursing a beer, and she knows something is wrong. "We have to talk," he says, his voice low and quiet.
"What's the matter?" she asks, slightly alarmed. "Are the boys okay?"
Burt looks down at the table, takes a deep breath, and then faces her wearily. "The boys had a fight, Carole. It was . . . bad. I went down to the basement in time to hear Finn say — say something really bad to Kurt. About being gay."
Carole swallows thickly. What? That's not possible. Finn's better than that. "I'll talk to him," she says slowly. She knows Finn and Kurt don't get along nearly as well as Burt likes to think. But they'll work through this. They're a family now. "Where is he?"
Burt looks at his beer. "I don't know." He sighs. "I'm sorry."
"You don't know?" she repeats, feeling her motherly hackles start to rise.
"I told him he couldn't say something like that and stay under my roof. He left. I don't know where he went."
Her heart freezes in her chest and she can barely believe the words out of his mouth (she doesn't want to believe them) and then suddenly her heart kick-starts back to life and starts pounding furiously. She tries not to lose it then and there. She forces herself to remain calm. "You kicked my son out?" It's not possible. She doesn't even know how to process this.
"And you have no idea where he went?"
"He's a kid, Burt!"
"So's Kurt! I'm not gonna let my son be insulted in my own house —"
"I thought it was our house now," Carole interrupts. He doesn't meet her gaze. "I thought we were a family now. Isn't that what you wanted?" She feels her lip trembling, and she steels herself against tears. "You said you wanted to be a family with me, but you know what, Burt? I'm a package deal. I come with Finn. He's everything to me. You can't invite us into your home and then kick him out."
There's a tense moment.
"I have to go," she says. "I'm sorry." She grabs the purse she'd tossed on the counter a moment ago. Where would Finn go? To Puck's? No, they're not friends anymore. To . . . Mr. Schue's? To Sean's? Maybe to Rachel's? Maybe back to their old house — they haven't even put it on the market yet.
"Carole, we have to talk about this."
"We do, but not now," she replies, slipping her shoes back on.
"Carole," he says, a kind of plea in his voice.
She looks at him. She takes a deep breath. "Burt, I love you. I do. And I love Kurt. But I need to find my son. He shouldn't have said whatever it is he said, and, yes, I'm ashamed of him. But he's a kid. And I'm his mother, and it's eleven o' clock at night, and I have no idea where he is. You were trying to do right by your kid. This is me doing right by mine."
He doesn't stop her.
In the car, she grips the steering wheel and thinks back over the last few months. She's upset that Finn would say something cruel to Kurt, and that Burt would simply kick him out of the house. But that's not what's breaking her heart now.
She thinks back over the last few months, and the shame crashes into her like a wave. She knew Finn wasn't ready for all of this, she did, and she chose to pretend she didn't. She's always been so close to her son, despite everything (perhaps because of everything). But what's been going on in his life lately? Has he forgiven Quinn or Puck? Is he still trying to win over Rachel?
She has no idea, and she has to fight back tears at that thought.
Burt makes her feel like a kid again. His love makes everything bad in her life fade away, and every single thing he says and does makes her fall deeper in love with him, makes her so blissfully happy. But she's not a kid. She's supposed to being taking care of one. And she's failed him. Worse still, it takes a slur against Kurt to make her realise it.
She needs to find Finn. She needs to make sure he's safe. She needs to talk to him. She needs to pay him real attention for the first time since Burt Hummel swept her off her feet. She needs to fix this. She'll never be able to forgive herself if she doesn't.
She finds him at their old house, lying on his bare mattress in his old room and staring up at the ceiling. "Hey," she murmurs quietly. "I've been worried about you."
"Sorry," he says. He pauses. "Did you talk to Burt?"
Slowly, she sits down on the edge of the bed. "He told me you said something to Kurt?"
He looks over at her. "I'm sorry, Mom," he whispers. "I didn't mean it. I didn't!" He sits up, and his eyes are desperate. "It just came out! I . . . I called his blanket . . . faggy." He looks so ashamed, and all she wants to do is wrap him up in her arms and never let him go again.
"I know I hurt him," Finn goes on, "and I know I . . . I don't really think that, Mom! And, I mean, can you imagine what Rachel would say if she knew?" He pales slightly, as if in horror at the very thought. "And I messed things up for you and Burt. He kicked me out. And he was right to. I'm so sorry, Mom, I am!"
"Shh, shh," she says, taking her hand in his and giving it a calming squeeze. "I know you are. And don't you even think about me and Burt. It's time we thought about you. I'm the one who should be sorry, Finn. I dropped everything on you without warning. First, the relationship, and then that we wanted to move in, and I . . . I really haven't been a good mom to you, lately."
"That's not true," he protests. "You're the best mom."
She smiles slightly and brushes a little of his hair from his face. "You're sweet. I don't deserve it."
"I can fix this," Finn says, "I can. I'll apologise to Kurt, and I'll — I'll talk to Burt, and maybe he'll let me come back —"
"No," she interrupts. "I mean, you do need to apologise to Kurt. But it's too soon to move in with them. I know that now."
"No, Mom, no! I know he makes you so happy, and —"
"Honey," she says, "listen. I love Burt. He makes me so happy, you're right. But you'll always be my number one guy, Finn. Always. Everything you do makes me happy. Football, Glee, everything. When you come into the kitchen in the morning and ask me what's for breakfast — that makes me happy."
He gives a small, crooked smile. "You make me happy, too, Mom."
She leans forward and kisses his forehead. "I hope so." She pulls back and her eyes search his face. "But, sweetie, what happened between you and Kurt? Why did you say that? I know you didn't mean to and I know you're sorry, but . . . ?"
"It just came out," he says, his voice low and embarrassed. "He was so excited to share a room and stuff and . . . like, I know he was watching me, Mom. In the shower, I mean. And it's not, like, happen to catch a glance in the locker room type watching, but, like, if I did it to a girl she would put a restraining order on me type watching. And it just freaked me out a little, 'cause Kurt is a cool guy but he won't listen when . . . I just don't know what to do. And it all got really bad, and then it just . . . came out."
"Finn," she says slowly, "does Kurt have a crush on you?"
"Oh, my," she murmurs. She sighs. She really has been so absent from Finn's life lately. "That's hard. I understand, I do. And, sweetheart, we all say hurtful things we don't mean when we're angry or scared or upset. You just need to show Kurt you didn't mean it."
"I don't know. That's for you to figure out. But I know you will." She smiles at him. It's quiet, and how can she have forgotten about moments like this, when it was just her and her baby, and nobody and nothing else in the world mattered? She loves Burt, and she wants to be with him, but it's Finn who she needs, and who needs her.
"Have you had anything to eat?" she asks. He shakes his head. "C'mon. I'll order pizza."
Burt comes to see her at work two days later, and she agrees to get coffee with him on her break. It's awkward and tense, but she's glad he came to see her, and she tells him as much. "Did you find Finn okay?" he asks.
She nods. "He was at our old house. We talked. He really is sorry, Burt."
"I know," Burt says. "Kurt told me he showed up at school dressed up as, um, Lady Gaggie, I think?" He chuckles a little, but his eyes soften again. "He told me that Finn stood up for him." He smiles.
"I know," Carole says, returning his smile. "Who do you think stayed up until three in the morning sewing that costume?" They both chuckle, and a little of the awkwardness and tension drifts away. "It was all his idea, though," Carole goes on. "He shouldn't have said what he did, and you were right to be upset with him, but . . . it looks like Kurt has a crush on Finn. He made his feelings for Finn clear multiple times, and Finn didn't know how to handle that."
Burt stares for a moment, and then he lets out a sigh and looks out the window. When his gaze returns to her, it's knowing. "I should have guessed as much," he says. "You know, if I'd been Finn, I'd probably have been freaked out, too."
"I shouldn't have kicked him out, Carole. You were right. I do want us to be a family, all of us, and that includes Finn. We can make it work." He reaches for her hand.
She looks down at his coffee. "I'm sorry, Burt. We can't move in with you. Finn's not ready, and I'm pretty sure I'm not either, not until I can learn to balance my relationship with my son and my relationship with you." She looks back at him, imploring him to understand.
"The truth is," she goes on quietly, "the truth is that it's not the same. You raising Kurt by yourself after your wife died and me raising Finn by myself after Chris died — it's not the same. Because he died when Finn was four months old. I was barely twenty years old. I struggled so much. I went through dozens of jobs; I lived on food stamps and double mortgages. And the only thing that got me through was Finn. I couldn't have survived without him.
"And when I met you, I fell so in love with you that I let thoughts of Finn slide into the background. You know, I hardly even know what's happening in his life anymore. And I hate that. I love you, Burt, but I hate that."
"I get it," Burt says, and she can see in his face that he really does. "So we don't move in together. Not until everybody's ready, especially Finn."
She nods. That's settled, at least. She and Finn still need to stop by his house and pick up the things she's managed to move over in the two weeks they had lived together. It's sad, really, but it's for the best, and it'll all be okay. Right?
"Us, though," Burt says. "We . . . do you still want to . . . be together?"
She squeezes his hand. "So much."
She and Finn go over to the Hummels one night a few weeks later.
Kurt and Finn talk about Glee, and Carole hopes everything really is better between them. Right after dinner, though, Kurt announces he has to meet Mercedes for a movie. It's then that Burt makes the first move — he asks Finn if he wants to catch something on ESPN classics.
When they're happily screaming at the screen together, Carole has to wipe at tears.
She finally gets to meet Rachel.
Hot, sticky summer's arrived, and Carole's making her first batch of jam for the season. The backdoor of the kitchen is open, letting the summer breeze swirl through the kitchen and carry away a little of the heat from the stove, and she's considering turning on the radio when she hears Finn come into the house. He's talking to someone, and he soon steps into the kitchen with a girl.
She knows it's Rachel. He's holding her hand, and she's so small Carole's a little taken aback. Next to her son, Rachel Berry looks like a doll. She's slight, too, and she has large, dark eyes that shine nervously. "Mom, this is Rachel," Finn introduces unnecessarily. "Rachel, this is my mom."
"Hello, Rachel," Carole greets kindly. "I'm so excited to meet you. I've heard so much about you."
"I've heard a great deal about you as well, Mrs. Hudson," Rachel replies brightly. "You have a very lovely house. I particularly like the rosebud wallpaper in the hall."
"Oh — thank you," Carole says. "I don't think anyone's ever noticed that before. I'm glad you like it."
"What are you two up to this afternoon?" Carole asks.
"We're gonna watch a movie," Finn says.
"Hello, Dolly!" Rachel adds quickly. "It's Barbra Streisand's sensational second film, based on the Broadway show of the same name, and it showcases her voice beautifully. Her rendition of Just Leave Everything to Me is absolutely inspiring. Jerry Herman wrote the song into the film specifically for her, you know."
"Wow," Carole says, "that sounds . . . like a really good movie."
"It is," Rachel assures.
"'S better than watching Funny Girl again," Finn says.
"Finn," Rachel says, exasperated, "Funny Girl is unarguably the best —"
"I'm kidding, Rach," Finn assures, grinning and swooping down to kiss her temple. "I love Funny Girl."
Rachel huffs, but she can't hide her smile, and Carole's a little (or a lot) delighted at the adorable couple in front of her. They settle down in the living room, and Carole peaks at them from the door of the kitchen. She knew Rachel would be good for Finn, she just knew it.
"That went well," Rachel tells Finn. "I think she liked me."
"Of course she did," Finn replies, sprawling across the couch and grabbing the television remote.
"Do you really think so?"
Carole can see Rachel biting her lip as she looks anxiously at Finn.
"Yeah," Finn says. "Trust me. My mom probably already loves you as much as I do."
Rachel turns pink with pleasure and sits down beside him on the couch. Carole leaves them be. But she hums a little as she finishes her jam, unable not to. Half an hour later, when Finn comes into the kitchen to make some popcorn and get some drinks, he looks at her earnestly. "She's awesome, right?"
"She's great, hon," Carole assures. She's never seen her son so happy.
And just for that, she's pretty sure he's right — she probably already loves that girl.
The hospital calls her.
Burt has her listed as an emergency contact. She didn't know, but she isn't touched at the news. She can't be touched by it, not when she's too busy speeding to the hospital to see him. She barely processes any of it, the doctors, the nurses, the explanations. All she knows is that Burt, big, strong, tough, kind, loving, wonderful Burt is lying there in that tiny hospital bed.
What if he never wakes up?
She doesn't think she can take that.
Finn is freaked, she knows, but when he brings by Quinn, Mercedes, and Rachel, she takes some small measure of happiness in the thought that he has people who care about him, people who can support him, people who will sing by his mother's boyfriend's bedside for him.
They're there for Kurt, too, even if the boy can't appreciate it. She watches him curl into himself as he tries and fails to find some way to deal with all this, and it makes her heart throb a little. She can't stand to see him so hurt, so scared, (so terrified, really), and she doesn't know what to say to make it better.
She grows determined, though. She doesn't know how to help Burt, but she can help Kurt. She stops by his house with a casserole and some brownies. He lets her in and politely thanks her. He's calm and cool and when she asks how he's doing, his simple, "I'm handling it," is painful to hear.
She hugs him. He's stiff in her arms. But she doesn't let go. She runs a hand up and down his back. He starts to tremble, his whole body shaking with the sobs that slowly bubble up, and she feels him sink into the embrace. She finds herself crying too when she feels his tears on her neck. He clutches her, his fingers curling into fists around the material in the back of her shirt, and she continues to rub his back, saying nothing.
Kurt needs a mother as much as Finn needs a father.
She's ready to fill the position.
When Burt wakes up. Kurt's the one to call Carole.
He doesn't do it with a lot of fanfare.
He simply goes down on one knee in her living room, and she sinks to her own knees as she kisses him and whispers the word yes into his mouth again and again. Finn's out with Rachel, and Kurt's out with some boys he met at another school, and Carole loves them both so much, but she's glad for this time alone with Burt.
She's engaged. The very thought makes her smile. She's going to become Carole Hummel.
She can't wait.
When Finn and Kurt graduate high school, Carole can't stop crying.
She jumps up and down, screaming and clapping, as Principal Figgins calls their names to receive their diplomas. She takes a thousand pictures. She continually pulls them in for hugs and kisses. They indulge her in everything, and Burt chuckles slightly at her antics, but she can see the few tears beading in his eyes, too, when each of his boys crosses the stage.
She tries to sneak some photos of Finn and Rachel as they talk in the parking lot afterward. Finn is smiling down at Rachel with his hands resting loosely on her waist while she animately talks, waving her hands a little in the air. Carole manages to take a few really good shots, but she can't catch one of Finn finally silencing Rachel with a kiss because a hand touches her arm suddenly.
She spins around, expecting Burt, and sees her mother. "I thought you and Dad were heading back to Columbus," Carole says, surprised.
"We are," her mom assures. "But Dad has to use the bathroom, so I thought I'd come say a second goodbye. It really was nice of you to invite us to the graduation. Finn looked very handsome up on stage."
"He did, didn't he?" Carole smiles and glances back at Finn, who's now talking with a few other graduates as he keeps a casual arm draped around Rachel's waist and the small girl leans into him.
"Carole," her mother says gently. "You did a good job with him. You raised a wonderful boy." She pauses. "I'm proud of you. Dad is, too."
"Thanks, Mom," Carole replies, touched. "That means a lot. The truth is, though, he raised me as much as I did him." And her gaze falls on him once more. She could watch him all day, watch him smile and laugh and talk with his friends, and she would never tire of it.
They've made it.
Burt sits on the couch, oblivious to the noise and mess around him, his eyes glued on the television screen as Lily sits on his lap in her little plaid dress.
She's clutching her teddy bear with one hand and clutching her granddad's hand with the other, and Carole smiles at the sight of them. She adores that little girl, and she adores her husband, and she adores this life they all share now.
The house is a mess, with magazines and and empty pizza boxes and toys scattered all around. The fridge broke last night, so the kitchen is an explosion of food, of empty Tupperware and dishes in the sink and milk and cheese shoved in coolers. Rachel won't let Carole help out with anything ("you're a guest!"), so Carole simply sits at the kitchen island with the tea that Rachel's made her, taking it all in. Rachel's pacing the kitchen, trying to talk on the phone and shush the baby on her hip at the same time.
Little Chris has a pair of lungs on him, that's for sure.
Rachel finally gives up and clicks off the phone when Finn walks into the kitchen and hands her the bib she sent him to fetch. He kisses her temple even as he makes a funny face at his wailing son. Rachel turns to Carole.
"Sorry about the mess," she says, rocking Chris a little and wincing slightly as he manages to grab some of her hair in his tiny fist and proceeds nearly to tug it out. "And the noise."
"It's okay," Carole replies. "I don't mind at all."
"I'm still not very good at this whole parenting thing," Rachel goes on.
Carole smiles softly. "Don't worry," she says. "You're doing just fine."
Without you, I'm workin' with the rain fallin' down,
I'm half a party in a one dog town.
I need you to chase these blues away.
Without you, I'm a drummer that can't keep a beat,
An ice cream truck on a deserted street.
I hope that you're coming to stay.
I'm waitin', waitin' on a sunny day.
Gonna chase the clouds away,
Waitin' on a sunny day.
Hard times, baby, well, they come to us all,
Sure as the tickin' of the clock on the wall,
Sure as the turnin' of the night into day. . .