Disclaimer and all that jazz in Part 1.
Snow covered every inch of ground for as far as their eyes could see.
Where in spring and summer there had been a lush carpet of different shades of green, green grass broken by the splashes of purple, red, yellow and so many other colors that extended until up to where the eyes could see, now there were kids sledding down the small hills the snow that had fallen the past week had created.
The hem of their jeans got wet as they slowly made their way around the park, a landmark here, and another one there pointing out the right way to their final destination. They walked very close to each other, hand in hand in both spiritual and physical support, each holding a cup of steaming coffee in their free hands. They talked very little, mostly Kurt sharing a bunch of feel good memories he had of time spent in that park with Sam and later with Ben. Mercedes laughed and asked the occasional question, but that was Kurt's show and she let him take the lead naturally.
Kurt first saw the dust of snow capping the top of the umbrella in white. The dripping water of the fountain had formed long tendrils of frosted stalactites waiting for a sunny day to finish their journey from the edge of the girl's umbrella down to the small gated ice-bound pond surrounding the girl in the statue. More frozen snow pooled at the girl's feet and where the wind, or was it her hand, lifted the hem of her dress. The snow dusting her from head to toe covered her in gelid hues of blue and chilled Kurt to the bones.
This is the real essence of youth, Kurt: forever captured in bronze in a stroll that will never end.
Kurt wasn't aware he had said something, but he chose not to repeat. It was something between him and Sam in a summer day and that one day he would share with Ben.
"Something Sam used to say," he said, wiping the corner of his eyes. "Somewhere under all this snow there is Grace's Garden, Cedes, and that lovely lady is our illustrious Umbrella Girl. Have you heard of her before?" She shook her head no and he continued. "There is a story here. The original statue was the one of the Goddess Hebe, the personification of youth in the Greek mythology. Her name means youth or prime of life."
"I didn't know," she said as, hand in hand, they started walking around the statue.
"She was the cup bearer who served nectar to the Olympian Gods to give them everlasting youth," Kurt said smiling, remembering the day Sam had told him that same story. They too had walked hand in hand as Sam told him the original statue had been installed as a drinking fountain in another part of the park, in 1872. The umbrella had been added later, in the 1920's, to shield her from the rain.
"You said it's not the original. What happened?"
Kurt looked up and smiled as two kids ran past them. "It disappeared in the early 1950's, to the dismay of the locals."
"Disappeared, just like that?"
"Just like that," Kurt nodded. "Searches were made and everything, but they never found it. Decades later a local artist offered to have the statue replaced. This time she got inspiration in the local's history and heritage. She used her daughter as a model and, vor, a new German Umbrella Girl statue was born."
Mercedes gave him a little smile. "Is this girl the same Grace this garden was named after?"
"No, that's another local who had a strong participation in the story of the village despite her young age."
"You seem awful familiar with everything about this place," Mercedes said softly, drawing soothing circles on his back.
There was a light stir in the pocket with his cell phone, and another followed soon after; two new messages, probably from Noah. Kurt wasn't ready to deal with them right now.
"It's because of Sam. He was fascinated with German Village and he wanted to learn everything about it. He loved it here. We used to come here almost every weekend. Schiller was his favorite park with its many attractions, even an amphitheater which hosts Shakespearean plays in the summer, but this," Kurt gestured to the frozen pond, "was his favorite corner in the park. He used to say that just listening to the water dripping into the pond put things into a better perspective for him."
Kurt walked to the bench slightly to the left of the statue, from where they could see the girl's profile. Despite the snow layering its seat, he rested his knee on its corner, not minding the cold seeping through his jeans. "Many of our dreams for life were made sitting in this bench. We were sitting here when I told him I might be pregnant. We came back here when the doctor told us Ben was on the way. It was the happiest day of our lives. Then six months later we were back here when he told me he was dying."
He sniffed, the cold air burning his nostrils and his eyes, but he knew the tears falling had nothing to do with the cold
Two weeks from now it would be two years since that fateful day when Sam had helped Kurt sit on the insulated blanket he had used to cover the bench, served them two cups of hot cocoa from a thermos, laid his hand on Kurt's swollen stomach and shared with him the results of the tests he had taken, at that time a secret Sam had shared only with Noah.
Kurt sniffed again, swallowing his grief for just a little longer. He had just one thing to share and then it would be over. "It was early in the summer. Sam was having a good day and he asked to come here. Finn drove us and stayed around, just in case, but Sam was really fine. We sat here and talked, remembered the good old days and laughed. He had Ben in his lap all the time and he wouldn't let me cry. When he got too tired to stay here, Finn took our last family picture sitting here. That same night he collapsed, Cedes, and then one week later he was gone."
When an openly crying Mercedes offered him the comfort of her arms, Kurt didn't push her away. Without uttering a sound she let him cry for what felt like hours.
Kurt cried for all the picnics Sam wouldn't be there to see, for all the bedtime stories he would never tell, for all the school recitals and spelling bees he would miss. Kurt cried for the prom pictures Sam would never take and for their son's valedictorian speech he would not hear. Kurt cried for the driving lessons Sam would not give and for all the father/son experiences Sam would never live.
Kurt cried thankful for knowing that Noah would be there to be the daddy his son deserved and maybe one day, why not, the husband Kurt wanted.
"I loved him so much, Cedes, so much, but I'm tired of feeling guilty for being happy again." Kurt dabbed at his eyes with his linen hankie, but Lord the tears would not stop. "He told me he wanted me happy, Cedes."
"Of course he did, baby. I know." Mercedes was still crying but visibly more composed than him. "Have you told Puck?"
"Not yet and not in so many words. I want what we have to be meaningful, but I don't know if he wants the same."
"Want what you have to be meaningful? Kurt, what in heaven's name are you talking about?"
"I don't even know if he's gay, Cedes! Now he cares about me, and he's crazy about Ben, but what else do I know? Until five months ago this was nothing but a fuck to him," Kurt said with his facing burning and the tears stinging his eyes once again. "Today you saw how easy it was for him to walk away from me again."
"Easy for him to walk away from you?" Mercedes shook her head and blinked at him as if to dispel her disbelief at something pretty stupid he feared he had said. "Kurt, you were there when he had to give his daughter up. He looked like someone had reaped his heart with a spoon, stomped on it until it became a bloody mess, then handed him a straw and told him to enjoy it. Believe me, boy, I wish I would never have to see that look on his face ever again, and one hour ago I just did."
Mercedes' words slammed into him with the same impact of him running head first into a brick wall. Trust Mercedes not to let denial be just a river in Egypt.
"You won't let me go away with this bullshit, will you?"
"And make your life any easier? Why should I, white boy? You know how much I love seeing the diva in you" She laughed and he smiled, just a little. "Under the risk of hurting you just a little more, I want you to think about something. And you have to be honest with yourself, Kurt."
"What?" he asked, bracing himself for even more pain.
"Forget the last five months, okay, and think about all the other times you and Puck had sex, before he broke things up with you. Gay or not, he never treated you like a cheap fuck even then, did he?"
Kurt ignored everything raw and that spoke of emotion rolling in his heart, put everything weighing in his stomach aside, and tried to be objective. Kurt had looked for Noah that first time, about three months after Sam's passing, and all the others. In his grief he had just wanted to forget, to feel something that wasn't pain, and every single time he felt even more miserable when it was over. But Noah had never treated him like a hole to be fucked. Even in the times in the very beginning, when Kurt made Noah take him from behind, or when he cried Sam's name in his release, or later, when he would turn his face when Noah tried to kiss him, or when Noah woke up in the middle of the night to find Kurt crying in the shower or in Ben's bedroom and left Kurt and Sam's house without a complaint and would still be a phone call away whenever Kurt needed him, he had never disrespected Kurt.
He had instead done everything he could to show Kurt that he was real. Be it a sigh or a kiss placed on his forehead, whispered words of comfort while Kurt cried on his shoulder, Noah had been the only element to connect Kurt to reality in a way no one else could. Kurt was not proud of what he had done, and the only thing that had differed Noah from a hooker then was that Kurt didn't pay Noah when they were done.
Kurt staggered backwards and fell on the snow covered bench, the cold seeping through his clothes less than an inconvenience. "You didn't lie when you said it would hurt."
She squatted in front of him and ran her hand on his face. "I'm sorry, sweetheart."
"All those times … Why did it take him that long to turn me down, Cedes?"
"I think you know why, Kurt," she said, mirroring his sad smile. "You are not a bad person, Kurt. I don't think you took anything he wasn't willing to give at that time, but things are different now. You know he needs more. You should ask yourself if you are you willing to give it to him."
"I think it's already his. Ben and I, we can't do this without him, Mercedes. I don't… I don't want to be without him."
They would have cried again if Lady Marmalade hadn't blasted from Mercedes' cell, making them jump apart with an embarrassing shriek.
"Hi, Finn," she said, slightly out of breath. "No, we are done here. Why? Is he crazy?" By now Kurt was up on his feet, trying to get the phone from Mercedes, but she stretched her arm to keep him away. "No, tell him… Finn, hear me out, Kurt is fine. Tell Puck we're on our way... Tell him what? All right, okay, I'll tell him… Finn, I'll tell him and we're going… Okay. See you guys in a few and tell him not to do anything stupid. Okay, bye." Mercedes closed her cell phone and released a long sigh that sounded amused and painful at once.
"What? What happened? Is Puck-"
"Puck is fine, baby, but well on his way to get drunk. Finn needs us to meet them now."
"Drunk? Why would he get drunk?" Kurt gathered the coffee cups they had dropped without even noticing, dropped them in the nearest trash can, and rushed Mercedes across the park. It was a long way to the exit. "Mercedes, talk to me!"
"Finn told him about the picture and why you needed to come here without him, and now he thinks you hate him. By the way, check you cell. He panicked because you wouldn't text him back."
"Oh, dear, I felt my cell vibrate, but didn't check it," he said, pulling his cell out of his overcoat pocket. "I should have checked it, Cedes."
"Stop beating yourself and do it already, will you?"
"Yeah, right." There were three messages and one missed call. "He texted me."
"Of course he did. Now check it already, Kurt!"
The first message was a simple im an ass. pls im sorry, the second was a slight variation of the first one, and the third message made Kurt gasp.
"What?" Mercedes said, trying to read the message too.
"It's a poem… It's, it's beautiful."
"Mind if I read it?" After a moment hesitation, he smiled and started reading it to her.
"Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree
Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued."
"I want a Noah, too," Mercedes whined and Kurt let loose the first laughter of pure, simple joy since they had gotten to the park.
"Go find yourself your own Noah; this one is very much taken," Kurt said, his finger quickly typing a simple reply: On my way. Wait for me, please?
Kurt and Mercedes were rushing through the park hand in hand when his cell buzzed again.
b waiting u t park entrance
Kurt stopped only long enough to text his own answer; a promise in disguise that now he feels ready to make.
I'll meet you halfway there.
Then he took a deep breath, smiled at Mercedes, and all but run to meet Noah. He had a promise to keep.
Vor = voilà
The poem is Dust of Snow, by Robert Frost
Thanks for reading. Now it's on to Noah's story. I hope to see you there.