A/N: Long author's note ahead... beware.
This has been a long, fabulous journey with all of you. I love each and every one of you, reviewers and readers, and I am in deep gratitude for each and every last thing you have done for me: my 300-plus alerts, my 100-something favorites, and all of these reviews. Did you know that this story wound up being 205 pages long (at Times New Roman, size 12)? And that it's comprised of 121,796 words in total? That's astounding. Not quite as long as a different fanfiction of mine, but still pretty damn amazing.
I cannot thank you enough. Some of your words have pierced my heart with the sincerity, and I can't get over how kind all of you are. I never expected anything like this to happen to me. But I suppose the right story idea/inspiration - kudos once again to you, Joy89, for bringing up time travel paired with my favorite pairing to me! - came around, and this is the result. So really, guys, thank you. This couldn't have been completed without each and every one of you on here and on Tumblr.
This fandom is wonderful. I love how I got totally sucked into Glee ever since Never Been Kissed, and beyond that, I am so happy that I came to like such an passionate, angsty, complicated pairing. And for all of those who support it, you are epic! ;D
Without further ado, now, I give you this final chapter, a skippy overview, epilogue-of-sorts. C:
I hate hospitals.
They seriously are nothing but
Busy people who can barely bother with you because of their patients,
And uncomfortable worry all around.
I can hear the sick,
Feel the dying (since I've been there at least two solid times),
And I know of the worried.
I'm one of them.
"Here, let me hold her for a while," I hear Kurt murmuring into my ear. I nod deftly, and pass our four-year-old adopted daughter off to him.
She is Rachel's, technically. When we asked her if, since our other adoption plans kept falling through, she would mind insemination, Rachel said no, she didn't mind. She was overjoyed to have our child, oddly enough. (Well, Kurt's child; I wasn't comfortable impregnating someone with my genes. But Kurt was, and Rachel was fine with it). And it's kinda funny, because she treats the situation like it's a normal thing every time she visits with her own child, Thomas. Thomas and our girl, Melinda, are technically half-siblings, and yet they act like cousins or really good friends. They don't know that Melinda's adopted. They're too young to know.
"Kurt, how are you holding up?" I ask him, touching a hand to his shoulder as he gently, soothingly bounces our sleeping child up and down against his chest. Her little fist is pressed against his collarbone, and her head is resting on his chest. She nuzzles into the fabric of his shirt, mumbling something about "Gramma" Carole.
"I'm about as sturdy as Eeyore's stick house," Kurt whispers, and I can see that his eyes are still puffy and pink from earlier tears. "This is hard for me, Dave. I knew it was coming, but that doesn't make it any easier to handle. Carole's been my mother since I was sixteen. I love her. I already nearly lost my father to a heart attack years ago, and now this, years later? It's so painful."
I nod sympathetically and move my arm around his shoulders, sliding myself closer on the hospital bench until I have him and our daughter in my arms. I kiss his temple and run a hand over her brown hair. She looks like Rachel as a distant glance, but so much like Kurt up close, her nose the same and her eyes the color of Burt's.
"Daddy, don't hurt," Melinda suddenly mumbles, stirring in Kurt's grasp and peering up at us with sleepy, squinty eyes. "Gramma Carole'll be o-tay."
She still talks a bit like a toddler sometimes, usually when she's tired, and it's adorable. I smile softly at her, tapping the cleft of her chin with a fingertip. "That's right, Melly. She's going to be fine. I believe it."
"I belieeb it, too," she slurs, and yawns adorably. "Dad… is boobie cancer really bad?"
"Yes, it is, Melly. But it can be healed sometimes," I answer her, trying to speak down to her level. Kurt looks away. Tears are welling in his eyes again, I just know it. I rub his shoulder and lean my head down to place a kiss on Melinda's cheek. "And I think this time it'll work."
"You think so, Dad?" she whispers. She looks over at Burt, who's still pacing the floor. "'Cause I don't want Gran'pa Burt to be sad. He loves Gramma Carole like you love Daddy, an' he don't want her to be sick."
I nod, tears threatening to fill my eyes, too. I force them back with another smile. "She won't be sick anymore. The medicine has been working, and now all they have to do is give her a surgery to take out all the icky sickness in her chest," I inform my daughter. "It shouldn't take too long, now. I bet the doctor will come out at any minute and tell us that she's okay."
Kurt and I have been through a lot, recently. Carole got diagnosed when we were twenty-seven. We got Melinda, barely eighteen months old, when we were twenty-nine. And now we're thirty-three and trying to keep our life stable. The jumps almost helped, in comparison; not only to get Kurt and I together, but also to teach us hardship to help brace us for our future together. And so far, nothing is as difficult as those jumps. But then again, nothing is quite ever perfectly happy, either. Only the small moments.
"Dad, Daddy?" Melinda says suddenly, looking to me first, and then Kurt. "I need to go potty."
"I'll take her," Kurt sniffs, and I know that he's crying again.
"Are you sure, Kurt? Maybe you should stay in case some news come along," I offer. I'm worried about him. This is essentially his mother; Carole has been his mother for longer than Kurt's birthmother, after all; even if she came to him when he was nearly already grown.
"It'll only be a few minutes," Kurt assures, but his voice is so low and carefully gentle that it frightens me. He sets Melinda on her feet on the floor by momentarily holding her up by her armpits. Once she's standing, Kurt stands himself, and takes her tiny hand and leads her down the corridor to the public restroom of the hospital. They enter the girls' bathroom, like Kurt always does. No mother ever complains when they see him with Melinda in there. They probably can tell by the way he's usually dressed that he's harmless.
I exhale shakily and rub my hands together, raising them to my mouth as I land forward. Across from me, Mercedes is studying my every move.
"Dave," she says carefully, "You told Melly that things were going to be okay, but you weren't really talking to her, were you?"
I shake my head. "No, I wasn't. I was talking to Kurt. He needs to have some faith, 'Cedes. But I don't think he does. I think he's given up even on believing in Carole, because he knows that she's getting older."
Mercedes nods sadly and moves to sit beside me. "I brought him to my church once to give him some faith when his father was ill. But those sorts of things don't work on him. He believes in people, not deities. And he believes in tangible love, not blind faith."
"I wish he would at least try, though. I was raised to be a pray for the people I care about, and even people I don't know but are people who could use the help." I sigh and shake my head. "I don't know. I don't want to force religion on him – that's a losing battle, and a moot one – but I at least want him not to tell me how pointless and impossible God and Heaven and miracles are."
"I understand, Dave," Mercedes soothes, but she can't grasp the full picture and truly understand unless she's heard Kurt's debates with me regarding the time traveling and such. But she lays a hand on my forearm and forces a small smile, and that's enough for me.
I pat her hand and smile minutely back. "Thank you, Mercedes. No wonder you've stayed Kurt's best friend. You both bitchy and diva-ish as Hell sometimes, but you've both grown so much."
Mercedes laughs a little at that, but not unkindly. "Yes, well. Everyone keeps a piece of themselves but always manage to change and grow around that piece."
Kurt and Melinda emerge from the bathroom just then, and Mercedes removes herself from Kurt's spot and returns to her own. Kurt takes a seat, and Melinda sits between us.
"Dad, the soap in there smells like roses," she tells me, grinning. "And Daddy met a nice lady in there who gived me a sucker. She's a nurse." And she removes the lollipop from the pocket of her dress – Kurt loves dressing her up nice and pretty, like a China doll – and removes the wrapper to stick it in her mouth. She sucks happily, her childish depth of understanding and her childish attention span limited to: grandma is sick, but oh look, a piece of candy!
I envy her for that, though. Sometimes life makes me wish that I could return to that simplistic state of mind where everything is black and white and easily forgotten.
But if I had that, then where would I be now? I prefer to have this complicated, ugly, beautiful, messed-up, lovely way of life instead.
Following these thoughts, the doctor bursts from the doors no one but a trained specialist is permitted through.
"Where is Burt Hummel?" he asks.
Burt turns sharply on his heel from his pacing and races over to the doctor. "How is she? How's my wife?"
"She's doing perfectly well, sir," the doctor – a young man, not much older than I – informs him with a bright smile. "We removed all of the cancerous tissue and were able to preserve most of her breast, to help keep up her confidence. Naturally, she'll have to take a bit more medication to heal, but full recovery is already on the way. She'll live a long and happy life, now. We're just fortunate for have caught her disease so early, and have her taking treatments for the past few years. It made the surgery easier, and that much more of a success."
"Oh, oh… Thank God," Burt whispers, stumbling backward with a hand over his heart and happy tears flowing from his eyes. Finn comes up behind him and stabilizes him – Finn has been a silent rock this entire time over fear for his mother's life – and next to me, Kurt exhales deeply as if he's been holding his breath this entire time. He probably was, to an extent.
I smile and reach past my daughter to yank my partner into an embrace. "Hear that, Kurt? She's going to be fine!"
He trembles in my grasp, crying again, but this time laughing with relief as he does so. He clings to me, and moves one arm to include Melinda in the hug. "Grandma's going to be all right, Melly!"
"Yay!" Melinda cheers softly, and stands on the bench to meet our faces. She gives us a big hug – her thin little arms wrapping around both our shoulders as best she can – and she plants a fishy-lipped kiss on each cheek. "We should get Gramma ice cream to cel'b'ate!"
Mercedes chuckles at that. "I don't think Grandma is going to want ice cream yet, sugar," she says as she comes over to us and scoops Melinda up. "But I think frozen yogurt sounds good. Come on, Auntie 'Cedes will get you some from the cafeteria while the grown-ups talk."
"O-tay, Auntie 'Cedes," Melinda murmurs in reply, smiling. "Can Auntie Rachel and Tommy come, too?"
Rachel glances up from cradling her son in her arms, tears running down her face, and she smiles weakly. "Hmm? …Oh! Of course we will, Melly. Be right there," Rachel mumbles, and sets her son down on the floor as she paces over to Burt, her son's hand in hers. "Burt, I'm so glad things worked out. That was such a scare."
"Thank you, Rachel," Burt whispers hoarsely.
"Mr. Hummel, you may see your wife early if you'd like. She'll still be unconscious, but I think it might do you some good," the doctor offers.
Burt nods in response, and the doctor leads him away. Rachel takes Finn by the hand, and they lead their son down to the cafeteria for that frozen yogurt. I'm secretly so glad that they wound up together again after so many years out of high school.
I turn to Kurt and look at him. His face is blank, unreadable. He's wiping his eyes and breathing shallowly.
"Kurt?" I call softly. "Babe, how are you feeling?"
"Like a tempest," he whispers. "A maelstrom of emotion. I don't think I can take it." He shakes his head, dropping it down into his hand.
I grab his hand and use my other hand to cup his face. I swipe a tear with my thumb. "I can see it in your eyes, babe: lingering fear, new relief, confliction, pain, joy. It's all there." I lean forward, and he presses his eyelids shut, waiting for a kiss. But I place it in a place he doesn't expect: right between his eyes. And then another, on one eyelid; and then yet another on the other. To ease his crying. To absorb some of his turbulent emotions. To remind him how much I care.
Kurt sighs, lips parting, and he seems to relax completely, no longer shaking. When I pull away, there's an airily, distant smile barely touching the corners of his mouth. "Thank you, David," he breathes. He falls forward into my arms, his face burrowing into my shirt. He fists the fabric, mumbling something about ironing it for me again when we get home.
"Don't worry about it," I chuckle softly at him as I rub his back in large circles that cover half of the expanse. I pet his hair with the other hand, and he inhales sharply before sighing at length. "I think somebody needs a frozen yogurt, too."
And he just laughs. "I think you're right."
"Just don't sexually frustrate me while you eat it like you've done in the past, babe," I tease, trying to lift his spirits.
It works. "Oh, I suppose I can try and resist, for Carole's sake. I want to be fully focused when she comes-to and I can talk to her again."
"Works for me," I shrug, smiling. I take his hand and we both venture down a level to the cafeteria to join everyone else.
.o three years later o.
"Happy birthday, Melly! Make a wish!" Blaine laughs as he bounces the seven-year-old on his knee. She giggles and blows out the candles as he stills long enough for her to make her wish. And then everybody is cheering, and Melinda is shaking her head at us.
"Uncle Blaine, you're so weird! You should put me down now," Melinda insists, and with a chuckle, Blaine sets her in the chair and moves out of the way. Kurt cuts a slice of cake, a lavender apron covering his work attire. He's a French teacher at McKinley, just like he said he was going to be. And he's damn good at it, too.
"Here you are, sweetie: first slice, the one with the flower on it. Tell me how it tastes, okay? You know your Dad sucks at baking."
Melinda laughs as she shovels a bite into her mouth. Humming happily, she reminds Kurt, "Nuh-uh, Daddy. You know that Dad is the best baker ever."
"But I'm still the best chef, right, Melly?" Quinn jokes as she leans over Melinda's shoulder and nuzzles her face.
Melinda laughs. "Yeah, Aunt Quinn, I know. You and Uncle Noah are the best cooks ever. Uncle Noah makes the best burgers on the grill."
"And don't you forget it, sweet cheeks," Puck grins, ruffling Melinda's sandy brown hair. Their marriage is still the most surprising to me; Quinn and Puck had such a rough teenage life together, but in their twenties, something clicked, just like how Finn and Rachel's love was rekindled. It's a bizarre twist, especially after how much in love Puck said he was with Lauren. But Lauren would have never settled down with him; she's too feisty and freedom-loving for that.
"Daddy?" Melinda says suddenly, swallowing after a bite and looking up at Kurt.
"What is it, dear?" he replies as he cuts another slice for somebody else. Artie, most likely.
"When do I get my presents?"
Kurt and I chuckle at almost the same time, and half of everyone present chuckles along with us. Tommy nudges Melinda, calling her greedy, and Rachel pats the birthday girl's head.
"Now, now, everyone; it's perfectly natural for the birthday girl to want to be spoiled and loaded with presents," Rachel says in Melly's defense. "So do you know what I suggest? Immediate present opening after we finish eating the cake."
"Sounds good to me!" Melinda smirks in a very Kurt-like way. She giggles and starts wolfing down her dessert. In not time, her slice is gone. With a satisfied groan, she complains of her "tummy being too full," and moves on to the family room where her presents are stacked a mile high.
After much squealing, giggling, thank-you-hugs, tissue and wrapping paper, and many bags, it's finally all over and done with. The children head off to bed; everyone's kids who came or has them – and soon it's just all us parents and friends around the dinner table, playing poker and drinking mildly.
"It's so late," Brittany murmurs as she looks at her cards. She leans over to her lover and whispers, "Sany, is this a winning hand?"
"No, Britt. Try again, chika."
The blonde makes a face, tilting her head. "Oh."
Artie sighs. "Well fuck me, I'm out." And he tosses his cards down with a shrug. "And I ain't even mad. I'm tired, actually. I think Natalie and I are gonna head home. Night, y'all."
Natalie is Artie's current girlfriend. He goes through them quite a bit; he has since Brittany and him broke up. The poor guy can't seem to land a girl that he likes enough to marry. Although this doesn't bother him; Artie prefers living his life a little free, and aside from that, he's a recording artist who travels a little too much for it to matter, anyway.
It doesn't take too much longer until everyone is leaving (except Rachel and Finn, who choose to spend the night), opting to pick up his or her kids tomorrow as planned. Kurt and I stand together and bid each of them goodbye.
I wrap an arm around Kurt's waist. I lean over into his ear as the final guests' car leaves the driveway, and Rachel and Finn say their own goodnights to us. I stand with my arms around Kurt, half-behind him, half-beside him, and I press my mouth to his earlobe, idly kissing it. "Well, that was tiring but fun," I think aloud. I plant more kisses down his neck, and he tips his head in the opposite direction to permit me further access.
"Mm, yeah," he hums in agreement, "We made Mel so happy. And all the adults had fun as well, I believe. Too bad Mom and Dad couldn't be here. But they should be here on her actual birthday in a couple says, so there's that."
I nod vaguely, choosing to continue to cover his throat with wet kisses and small suckles. Kurt melts in my grasp, and even turns to face me and kiss me full on the mouth. I'll never get tired of this, I don't think.
"Too bad there is another couple and so many munchkins in our house tonight, else I'd be making love to you, Dave," Kurt whispers with a sultry voice against my collarbone, his breath hot.
I bite back a moan and tighten my grip around him instead. "Dammit. Maybe this wasn't such a good idea, anyway. We should've asked Rachel to host the part at her house so we could slip away."
"You're a naughty man, Dave. You would burden our closest friend with all those six, seven, and eight-year-olds for a whole night while we had romping sex elsewhere?"
"…Hmm, I'm not sure, let me think about it– yes." I reply firmly.
Kurt frowns and playfully smacks me. "Lustful pig," he scolds. But he gives me another kiss nonetheless.
.o five years afterward o.
"Asshole!" Kurt screeches, and slams the front door in my face. I hiss angrily and turn and walk with my hands shoved deeply into my jacket pockets out to my car. There's suddenly the sound of a window opening, and before I can get the car door open, I see Melinda's face up in her bedroom, tears on her face.
"Dad!" she calls out through the screen. She's only twelve. She only recently asked what sex was, and at the same time, asked Kurt and I about our situation and how we got her.
It wound up turning into a huge-ass fight between Kurt and I. I've messed up a ton of times before with the finances and occasionally with something I've taught or tried to teach Melly, but this was a bad one. Ugly. Because I thought she deserved to know and should be old enough to understand – she's in seventh grade, after all – that Rachel is her birth mother, and that Tommy is her half-brother. Kurt disagreed. He wanted to protect her from the painfully intricate situation of a gay couple for a few more years at least, because he's already been getting phone calls for the past few years that involved Mel punching some kid out for bullying her about having two dads.
I glance down at the sidewalk, still fresh with today's earlier snowfall, and then back up at my daughter. "Yes, sweetie?"
"Don't go, Dad. Daddy will calm down soon enough. Please, come back inside. He just needs time, but he'll be okay. I don't care that I know the truth. It doesn't change us; we're still a family," Mel pleads, and she's crying so hard that I want nothing more than to run in, go up the stairs, and enclose her in a comforting hug.
But I can't.
I smile softly at her. "Not this time, Mel-Lindy," I answer, my heart breaking just looking at her. "You don't know Daddy Kurt like I do. He needs more than just a cool off period. He needs to come to me on his own, because if I force an apology or mend or anything, he won't accept it. Don't worry, I'll be back really soon. I'm just going to wait for him to call me. I'll probably see you later tonight, even. Okay? This is just… normal parent-to-parent issue stuff."
She wipes her tears on her sleeve and leans her forearms on the ledge of her window, her face pressing lightly against the black screen. She sighs heavily, and I can see a puff of her breath come out of the screen. "Okay… I trust you, Dad. I love you."
"I love you, too, Mel-Lindy," I reply, and then I pop the door open. I get inside the car with a huff, but I wave briefly to my baby girl before I shut the door again.
Starting the car up, I aim to go to a bookstore or somewhere equally quiet and neutral until Kurt calls me. He always calls me after a fight, and always tells me to leave during it. It's just how we work things out. I don't mind, because he still comes back to me. He always comes back, because he knows that I would do anything for him, and would do anything to keep him, even if it meant removing myself from the picture for a while.
Sure enough, it's an hour before Kurt's calling me, my selected ringtone for him – Hoobastank's old single, 'The Reason' – playing loud and clear.
"Dave?" he croaks, and he sounds regretful and as if he had just stopped crying. "I… I talked to Melly. You were right; it is best that she knows. She told me that she feels better knowing, but that she wouldn't have our family any other way, since this is how she's always known it to be. And… and she told me that she's glad that we were stayed so close to Rachel, because she doesn't feel like she's missing anything. How did we raise such an intuitive twelve-year-old, Dave? God, she's so young. She's budding, but she hasn't even gotten her period yet. How can she be such a mature little woman already?"
He sniffles, probably wiping his nose, and he sounds so astounded and quiet. He's clearly upset, except no longer in a furious way.
As warmly as my voice allows without sounding hurt (because I'm not, honest; I know that Kurt never means to get as riled up as he does sometimes, and I know I've done wrong, so I deserve it), I tell him, "Okay. Okay, babe. I'll be home in a few, then. And as for our daughter… well, I'm sure she gets her amazing maturity from you." I smile. "I love you, Kurt. I do wrong a lot, but I try."
There's a resounding chuckle to break the tension on the other end of the line. "I do wrong, too, David. We're only human. But, as mad as I get… I truly love you."
I smile to myself, glancing down at the sidewalk as I walk out of Barnes and Noble. "I know you do, Fancy. Why else would you stick with me?"
He laughs for real this time. "'Fancy.' Wow. I haven't heard that one in years."
"I felt like bringing it back. It was meant as an insult initially, but we both know it was a secret compliment. You still dress and do your hair all fancy."
"Shut up, you dorky man, and come back to Mel and me. We want to play a kiss-and-make-up game of Yahtzee."
I laugh. "Can do, Fancy, can do."
And I hang up the phone, glad another episode is over and I can finally get that happy ending back on track.
.o fifteen years subsequent o.
"Dad! Daddy!" Melinda greets with open arms as she rushes into the house, leaping into my arms.
"Whoa, Mel! Be mindful of your old man's poor knees! God, kiddo, I can't catch you like I used to," I remind her with a hearty laugh. "I'm fifty-one, Mel, and I've worked many an odd-job to keep up with your Daddy's horrible teacher's pay, you know."
"Oh, shut up, Dad. You've always been in tip-top shape and you can't dispute it," my snappy twenty-two-year-old daughter reminds me with a roll of her eyes. Kurt appears behind me, and she immediately grabs on to him next. "Daddy! Oh, Daddy, I missed you the most while I've been away at college. I know I see you every holiday, but I just can't take being away from my best friend." She steps back and gestures to herself. "Like? I just bought these clothes three days ago with some friends during our return trip form New York."
Kurt smiles brightly. "I couldn't have done better myself," he appreciates openly, and receives a peck on the cheek for this comment.
"Hey, what about me? I'm the one who taught you all you know about hockey and football so none of the guys think you're just another ditzy girly-girl," I remark to refresh her memory.
Melinda shakes her head at me, but she's smiling. "Of course, how could I forget? Come here, Dad. Lemme give you a nice sloppy one." And she jokingly rolls her tongue around her lips to poke fun at my habit before wiping her mouth with the back of her hand and leaning in to give me a peck on the cheek, too.
"You've been hanging around Aunt Quinn and Aunt Mercedes a lot recently, haven't you?" I say suspiciously as I help her with her luggage.
"Maybe…" she answers with a smirk. "They taught me all the sass I know. And Daddy is the one I can thank for my impeccable vocabulary, obscure references, and overall sarcasm."
"…I gave you none of my traits, didn't I?" I sigh as Kurt chuckles behind a hand in front of us.
"Well, I do tend to get pissed off when I'm hurt by people, and I don't trust easily," Melinda shrugs. "That's you to a tee, Dad. Daddy has told me all sorts of stories about when you two were teenagers."
"Oh, great," I groan, setting her possessions down in what will be her semi-permanent bedroom until she can get an apartment of her own now that she's out of college. "My past comes back to haunt me once again."
Melinda smiles to herself as she plops down on the bed, her thighs sitting on her hands. "I actually think it's epically romantic that you two started off like enemies but fell in love," she says sincerely. "It's so passionate. I hope I can find something unique like that in any relationship I'm in. I've been too dedicated to my schoolwork for all these years, and now I want someone!"
"That's Rachel acting up in you," Kurt grumbles. "I knew it was a bad idea to donate my sperm to the uterus of a woman who so high-strung and ambitious."
"Aw, come on, don't pick on Aunt Rachel like that! She's fine now. And I think I'm getting better," Melly remarks with a defensive sniff and a tilt upward with her chin. I find it funny that, despite not having my genes in her, she still has a beauty mark very obvious on her face; hers is located off-center from her chin, down on near her jaw. She clicks her tongue. "Speaking of parental figures, I haven't seen your folks in a while, Dad. I miss Mama and Papa K."
"Oh, I miss Mommy K, too!" Kurt says suddenly. "Why did they have to retire to Montana of all places, Dave? Your parents are insane. They're all supportive of us living in Iowa to finally get married, even if we were away from them in Ohio, but then what do they go and do? They move half across the country."
I make a wincing expression and shrug my shoulders. "Hell if I know! I guess my mom just always wanted to live there, but never had the money. And now she does. So she carted my father away and decided to open up some horse ranch. I don't know how she manages, when she's nearly eighty. She has all those younger kids take care of her horses, I guess. She does races or something. She's so weird. And my dad doesn't even care. He just likes seeing her happy."
"…We should move to Texas and start a bull-fighting ranch or something," Melinda jokes with a devious grin.
"…Um, no." Kurt retorts instantly. He wrinkles his nose. "Everything about that is wrong. The dusty dirt, the horribly tacky clothes, the mess. I know you were kidding, sweetie, but that's an idea that makes Daddy shudder."
"Got cha," Melinda shrugs, and hops down off her bed to pace past us. "I'm thirsty. I'm going to make some iced tea. Want any?"
"I do," I answer. "And I know Kurt would like a glass, too."
"I most definitely would," he agrees, and pretty soon, the three of us are out on the deck, sipping iced tea with lemon, chatting, and generally being the family we were before Melinda went off to college.
Some things never change, and few would I ever want to.
.o in the end o.
I glance over at Kurt's face; like me, he's aged. A lot. But that happened when you're in your seventies.
"Do you ever miss it?" I ask him in my gruff voice that's become so deep with time.
Kurt takes my hand and smiles. "I think I know, but what are you talking about, David?"
"High school. Jumping. You know, the youthful time-travel-y shit," I say with a careless single-shouldered shrug.
Kurt adjusts himself in his chair and shakes his head at me. "Miss it? No way. I could never miss all that stress. Besides, it's what changed us for the good. Gave us a chance to live like this," and he gestures at our grandchildren, still tint tots, running around our home as Melinda and her husband, Oliver (Ollie, as we fondly call him), chase after their kids, trying to get the youngest in particular to put his pants back on. His underwear, too.
I laugh, which evolves into a small cough. "I'll go there with you. I do like this better than only knowing you in high school and then never seeing you again, like I had been about to do with my life before my first jump."
"Precisely," Kurt agrees, smiling, his chapped lips narrowly hiding his dentures.
"Dad!" Mel calls, and I release Kurt's hand to lean forward in my chair.
"Yes, darlin'?" I call back.
She jogs over to me, her slight love-handles from bearing children jiggling a little as her shirt rides up. She tugs it down, still needing to lose the rest of her baby-gained chub, and she bends down. A kiss is felt on my forehead, and then she touches my cheek.
I cock my head at her. "For what, dear?"
"For trying so hard for Daddy," she murmurs, and she has this strange look on her face that indicates a deeper meaning, as if she had heard our conversation. But how could she have?
Smiling and winking at me before tossing her hair back and returning to her family, Melinda looks content to me. But I can't help but wonder what she knows, and whom she learned it from.
Blaine suddenly plops down in the chair beside me. "Whew! Those kids really wear me out. I dunno how you two raised one," the former singer muses. He and Artie wound up recording an album together at one point, after Artie made it really big and Blaine had been discovered after being on Broadway. They formed the weirdest but most adorable of friendships over the years.
Kurt grips my hand again and winks at Blaine. "Wasn't easy, let me tell you. But if you're like me and you have the perfect husband to help you out, and you always work through your problems because you always remember your past with the person you love, and who loves your child as much as you do… it makes raising a person very easy to do."
"I'm not quite sure your wording made sense there, Kurt, but I think I get the gist of it. And you're right," Blaine agrees.
I survey the scene before me: my daughter, her husband, their children (my grandchildren), and how happy they are, and how content Kurt and I are. I look back at our life-long friend and smile. "I think it's truly all thanks to being able to rewrite your mistakes by moving on and keep living. It makes anything bearable, and everything doable."
Blaine stares at me for a lasting moment, taking in my philosophy; both the metaphorical and literal senses of it. He nods solemnly. "Truer words never spoken, David," he agrees with a grin, looking back at the same scene I had just been observing. "Rewriting, with or without time travel… yeah, I can see it. Atonement in life, redemption for sins, that sort of thing. Yeah, it makes sense, and I like it."
The concept itself sounds a little optimistic (similarly, makes it sound less realistic), and a lot idealistic, but I truly believe that it's possible. And I'm not trying to be biased because I'm old and experienced and have transcended time before; no, really, I'm just trying to look at the big picture, see the life lesson that everyone can learn: and that's the fact that you can beat Fate, you can turn the tables on Karma, and Destiny is nothing but a fairytale, because you make up your own path.
.o0 FINITE 0o.