Disclaimer: Glee belongs to Ryan Murphy and Fox, not me.
"I stopped believing in God when I was eight."
He dropped the sentence like a grenade and leaned back, his hands resting on the table, his fingers splayed. He kept his eyes down, unwilling to look up.
This was going to be a deal breaker. He knew it. It had only been a few months ago when he had confessed to his closest friends that he didn't believe in the God that they believed in, and they had reacted much as he'd expected- shock, fear, and an instant desperate need to proselytize.
And since Blaine had just finished an anecdote about his recent rehearsals for his church Christmas show, filled with glowing praise for his supportive friends and intelligent pastor, he braced himself for that same reaction.
He pressed his back against the rails of his chair at their table tucked away in the corner, away from everyone else in the shop. A soft jazz rendition of "Let It Snow" played quietly over the coffee shop loudspeakers, blending with the whirr of cappuccino machines and patrons giving orders. It was just enough noise to make him strain to hear the answer.
Blaine set his coffee cup down. "Why eight?" he asked quietly.
He glanced up. "What?"
Blaine's expression was carefully calm, and his dark eyes were soft. "Why eight?" he repeated. "What happened, Kurt?"
Maybe it was the gentleness in his eyes. Maybe it was the fact that he hadn't launched into a twelve-step plan for salvation. Maybe it was because it was the first time anyone actually asked.
But he told him.
Kurt clung to his father's hand, his tiny fingers swallowed up in his father's big, callused ones. "How was school today, kiddo?" Burt asked him. He kept his pace slow to accommodate for his small son's short strides. "Anything good happen today?"
"We made valentines," Kurt announced. He bounced his backpack on his little shoulders. "I made one for Mom. Do you think she'll like it?"
Burt grinned and ruffled his hair. "She'll love it," he promised as they walked through the parking lot towards the hospital.
Kurt frowned. "It's not Valentine's Day yet," he said. "But I don't wanna wait, Dad."
"You know what? I don't think Mom'll mind if you give it to her early," Burt smiled.
He held the door open and let Kurt walk into the lobby first. Instinctively he kept his small hand tight in his father's. The hospital always made him nervous. It smelled funny, and there were all those sad-looking people who stared at him when he walked by.
They rode the elevator in silence to the third floor and walked down the hall to the nurse's desk. Burt let go of Kurt's hand to sign into the visitor's book. "Hi, Mr. Hummel," the nurse said. "Here to see Mollie?"
"Yup, and I brought the kiddo," Burt said, ruffling Kurt's hair. Kurt wound his arms around his father's leg as the nurse got up from behind her desk and walked around it to talk to him. She was a nice, plain sort of girl with a nametag that said "Sandy," but even though he had talked to her before, she was still mostly a stranger.
"Hi, sweetie," Sandy said. "Your mommy's been doing really good today." Kurt hid his face against his father's hip. "Sorry, he gets a little shy," Burt apologized. He unwound Kurt's arms from his leg and took him by the hand. "Come on, scooter, let's go see Mom."
He held tight to his dad's hand as they headed down the ward to his mother's hospital room. It had been a really long time since she had gotten sick and the ambulance took her away, but they still wouldn't let her come home. And he loved his dad, but it wasn't the same without her there.
He pulled away from Burt's hand as he recognized the door to his mother's room- room 801, the one with the Sleeping Beauty coloring book page taped below the number plate. His dad didn't stop him as he pushed the door open and peered inside.
"Mom?" he whispered tentatively.
His pretty mother sat up in bed, her face lighting. She was very pale except for the red splashes on her cheekbones, but her long hair tumbled around her shoulders just like it always did, and she wasn't wearing a horrible gown thing like she had on her first few days in the hospital, but a camisole with lace on it and a pair of loose yoga pants. He sighed in relief at how normal she looks. "Oh, baby, hi," she said, holding out her arms. He ran to her and tried to climb up on the bed, but he was too little.
His father picked him up and set him on the bed beside her. Kurt lunged forward, throwing his arms around her neck and burying his face against her shoulder. "I miss you, Mom," he said.
She wrapped her arms around him tightly. "I miss you too, baby," she said.
"Hey, what about me?" Burt teased.
She reached up and pulled her husband into their hug, kissing him on the lips. "Of course I missed you," Mollie said, smiling mischievously.
"But you missed me more, right, Mom?" Kurt asked anxiously, pulling away from her with his small hands still resting on her shoulders.
Mollie reached up and brushed an errant lock of hair off his forehead. "I miss you the most," she said. He smiled at her and scooted forward on his knees. "Has Dad been taking good care of you?"
Burt pulled up a chair and plunked down in it, sighing. "I think he's taking better care of me," he said. "He's always putting stuff away and making his own bed and brushing his teeth without being asked."
"I'm very self-reliant," Kurt said solemnly, and he didn't know quite why his mother laughed at that.
"You've always been very independent," she reassured him.
"Independent enough to take his bike out on the cul-de-sac again," Burt said, looking pointedly at his son.
Kurt dropped his head. "Kurt Elijah," Mollie scolded. "You know you're not supposed to ride your bike unless one of us is with you. We don't want you to break your arm again."
"I know," he mumbled. "I just really wanted to ride. Mike in my class gets to ride his bike whenever he wants."
"Yes, but that's for Mike's parents to decide," Mollie reminded him. She closed her cool, slender hand around his left wrist. "Besides, you broke your arm last summer because you were riding your bike alone, and it's too cold out for riding, anyway."
He bit his lip and stared down at the plain white sheets until he felt his mother brush a kiss on the top of his head. "Now, tell me how school was," she said softly.
Kurt sat up and shrugged his backpack off his shoulders. "He made something for you," Burt said.
Mollie clapped her hands. "Ooh, show me," she said.
Kurt unzipped his backpack and carefully pulled out the pink, red, and white construction paper heart. "It's for Valentine's Day, but Dad said you wouldn't mind if you got it early," he warned her.
"It's beautiful," she said. "Is that a drawing of me?"
"Uh-huh," he said, nodding. "And you're wearing the dress that I got you for your birthday, see?"
"Yes, I do," Mollie said, smiling down at the heart. "Thank you so much, baby."
Burt picked it up. "Want me to put it on the wall with the rest of them?" he asked.
"Yes, right in the middle," Mollie said. Burt kissed her on the forehead, then taped the picture on the opposite wall, in the center of a portrait gallery full of Kurt's various pictures.
"Mom?" Kurt ventured. "Can I sit on your lap?"
She immediately held out her arms. "Of course, honey," she said. He settled down her lap eagerly as she wrapped her arms around him. His parents started talking about other things, mostly about business at his dad's garage and what other members of the family were doing and what the preacher was talking about in church on Sunday. He didn't know the answers to any of those things- he didn't talk to the garage customers or his relatives in Iowa, and he usually fell asleep during church- but his mother held him close, her arms warm and snug around him, and that was all that he really cared about. Her long brown hair, like his but a little more on the reddish side, drooped over his shoulder and he twined his small fingers in it, relishing the soft, silky feel.
After a while his father brought them back dinner from the hospital cafeteria and he left his mother's arms to sit at the little side table with his dad. Afterwards they played one of his favorite games- although Burt won, much to everyone's surprise- and as the evening wore on, his father put in a movie. It was While You Were Sleeping, one of his mother's favorites, and one of his too, even though there was a scene that his parents always fast-forwarded through.
As the movie wore on, he crawled into the safety of his mother's arms again. Mollie pulled him onto her lap, cradling him like she had when he was much younger and smaller. His head rested on her shoulder, and he could breathe in the soothing, comforting smell of her perfume. She curled onearm around his hip, absently patting her hand on the underside of his thigh, and her other arm curved under his side and neck so she could smooth her fingers through his hair. After a while she leaned back against the pillows and snuggled him against her chest, occasionally bending over him to press a kiss on his forehead or cheeks or the tip of his nose. He started to droop into sleep.
Kurt was so far gone that he didn't realize when his father turned off the movie when it still had twenty minutes left. "I'd better get him home," Burt whispered. "It's late."
He roused slightly, turning in his mother's arms to cuddle closer. "I wish I could go home too," Mollie whispered.
Burt started to pick him up, but Kurt whimpered and grabbed the front of Mollie's camisole, digging his little hands into the soft fabric. "I wanna stay with Mommy," he begged. "Please? I wanna stay with Mommy."
Mollie bent her head over his. "I know," she whispered, stroking his hair. "I know, baby love. I'll be home soon, I promise."
He held out his hand, his small pinky extended. Mollie linked her pinky with his, then drew their clasped hands to her lips and kissed his hand. "I promise I'll come home," she said. "But right now you have to go home with Dad, okay? Be good for Dad."
She bent and kissed him first on the forehead, then on his cheeks, then lightly on his lips. "I love you, Mommy," he said sleepily.
"I love you too, Kurt," she said.
He let go of his mother and Burt picked him up. It was oddly jarring to go from the safety of his mother's arms, warm and soft and smelling like strawberries and caramel popcorn, to his father in his plaid flannel shirt and his oversized fleece jacket, but he didn't resist. Burt bent to kiss Mollie, whispering something soft in her ear that Kurt didn't catch, and she nodded, rearranging her pillows so that she could lie down and sleep.
Kurt leaned over his father's shoulder as he was carried out of his mother's hospital room and waved drowsily. Mollie blew him a kiss, and he had just enough time to blow one back before the door swung shut.
He burrowed into Burt's shoulder as his dad walked out of the hospital. It was cool and dark outside, and he shivered. He vaguely remembered his father setting him down carefully in the front seat of the pickup, buckling him in and draping his fleece jacket around him, but he was tired and he fell asleep quickly.
He woke up in his own little bedroom, although he didn't know how much later it was- it was dark, and the only light came from his bedside lamp in the shape of a rocket ship. Burt had taken off his shoes, setting them neatly back in their allotted space in his little closet, and was unbuttoning his shirt. Kurt frowned and tried to roll away. "You awake, kiddo?" Burt asked softly.
Kurt screwed up his face and tried to answer, but all that came out was a mumble. Burt chuckled and slid Kurt's shirtsleeves off his arms. Soon his father had changed him out of his school clothes and into his pajamas. Burt picked Kurt up again, holding on his hip with one hand while he drew back the flannel sheets and striped comforter on his bed.
"There we go," Burt said, setting Kurt down carefully. He sighed as his head hit the pillow and he rolled over onto his tummy as his father picked up the blankets and tucked them snugly around him. "Okay, kiddo. Back to sleep."
Kurt pushed himself up just a little. "Daddy?" he yawned.
Burt sat down beside him and put his big hand against Kurt's back. "What's wrong?" he asked, his voice quiet and gentle.
He rubbed one of his eyes sleepily. "Is Mommy going to get better soon?" he asked.
Burt stared at the rocket ship lamp, at a loss for words. "She'll get better…when she's supposed to get better," he said at last. He bent over his little son and kissed the top of his head. "Now go to sleep, okay? And if you're good, I'll take you out for a bike ride tomorrow."
"Mmkay, Daddy," he murmured.
Burt smoothed his hair one last time and turned off the lamp before letting himself out of Kurt's tiny bedroom, leaving the door open just a crack so that the light from the hallway could still reach him. Kurt snuggled deeper under his covers, and his little hand crept under his pillow. He drew out his old blue baby blanket and hugged it to his chest.
He hadn't really been to Sunday school in a while- Dad usually just took him to service, since Mom couldn't go- but his teachers said pretty much every Sunday that you could pray to God, and he would listen to whatever you said to him.
Kurt twined his hand into his blanket. "Dear God," he whispered, his voice sounding quiet and muffled in the silence. "Please let my mommy get better, so she can come home and stay with me and Daddy. I'll be really good forever when Mommy comes home."
He kept up his little whispered prayer and fell asleep in the middle of it, long before he reached a stopping point and an amen. For several months after that he prayed himself to sleep, asking God for just one thing- that his mother would be well and come home to stay.
But in May, he stopped praying.
He stared blankly the smooth polished wood of the tabletop, his hand still balanced limply against his cold coffee cup. "She came home at the end of February," he said dully. "They were waiting for her to get strong enough so they could do the surgery that was going to save her life…but she never got stronger."
He couldn't see Blaine's face, but he knew he was still there. "When did she pass away?" he asked quietly.
"In May," he said. "In her sleep. My dad came home from a business trip really early in the morning, and he went into my room to check on me."
He did look up then, his vision blurring. Blaine didn't say anything.
"I was asleep, and my mother was dead." Blaine reached across the table so quickly it didn't have time to register. He grabbed onto his hand tightly, his big, strong, warm fingers closing over Kurt's icy ones. The warmth of Blaine's hand on his sent a sharp, stabbing pain through Kurt's chest.
He hadn't told anyone this story before.
"I prayed every night," Kurt whispered, his voice thick. "I prayed every night that God would make her better, and…and he killed her instead."
He covered his face with his free hand. He couldn't look up. Not now.
"If there is a God, why didn't he listen to me?" he whispered, and despite himself, his throat closed and his eyes burned, and he started to cry.
Blaine let go of his hand, and for a moment his heart broke. But in a moment he realized dimly that Blaine had moved his chair up to his, their hips touching. Blaine put a strong arm around Kurt's shoulders and pulled him tightly against his chest. Kurt buried his face in his hands, the sounds of his sobs lost in ambient Christmas music and the sound of coffeemakers and people chatting happily.
"I'm sorry," Blaine whispered, his mouth close to his ear and his breath warm against his skin. "I'm so sorry, Kurt."
He leaned heavily against him, his cheek pressed against Blaine's ribcage. He could feel his steady heartbeat and his quick breathing, and soon Blaine's hand was against the back of his head, stroking his thick, silky hair gently and rhythmically.
"I don't have any answers for you," Blaine continued. "I wish I did. But…I'm sorry. I'm sorry that this happened to you. But it's going to be okay, no matter what you believe. It's going to be okay."
Kurt closed his eyes and nodded against Blaine's chest, his cheeks still wet with tears. Blaine kept stroking his hair, and for the first time in eight years, it felt like his heart might have stopped hurting a little bit.
I totally wasn't going to post this, but I let I Spiked the Ice Cream and psychopiratess read it and they were like "d'awwww...post it."
So...please enjoy little bitty Kurt, and this whole general angst-fluff fest.
I wrote this late at night, and I was feeling moody, and I really really wish I could just fast forward through my "Lima Loser" story to write all of the adorable little!Kurt stuff. So...this will just have to tide me over.
Also, this story is formally titled "A Baby Kurt Story Full of Angst and Woe" because I was wailing about how this story didn't have a title and Kat, Ary, and Hailey helpfully suggested the above. Seriously, no.
Although that's basically all this story is...