Where you used to be, there is a hole in the world, which I find myself constantly walking around in the daytime, and falling in at night. I miss you like hell. ~Edna St Vincent Millay
I had half expected that Finn would have forgotten the entire thing by the next morning, but, as luck would have it, he hadn't. He didn't say anything directly, but he was clingy with Carole until she went to work, and clingy with me once she was gone. "Do you want me to make French Toast?"
French toast is one of Finn's specialties, made with powdered sugar and cinnamon and some secret ingredient that he would throw us all out of the kitchen when he put it in with the egg. Normally, I'm very conscious of what I put in my body, but this was one of those things that was too delicious to matter.
There had been a brief period where I had been too freaked out to eat them, because I knew exactly where Finn had learned to make French Toast that tasted so good. Lily. The secret ingredient came from a murderer and a rapist.
But Finn was so proud of his newfound cooking abilities that it didn't feel right to refuse him just because of where those abilities had come from. Finn had learned a lot of things while he was in New Mexico, both good and bad, and I was just going to have to enjoy his new skills without worrying so much about where they came from. "I would love some French Toast. Do you still want to go to the cemetery before our appointments, or would you rather wait?"
"Today. It has to be today." Both his movements and his speech were jerky and quick, a sure sign that he was already overwrought. Wisely, I didn't push the issue any further.
"Whatever you want. I'm going to go up and choose an ensemble for my appointment." If I looked anything less then perfect, I wasn't going to be able to follow through with this appointment. If I was organized, calm, perfect on the surface, I would be the same way inside.
I'm thinking that this therapist's appointment is long overdue. Get tested for OCD while you're in there.
Wanting to be neat and tidy was not a mental illness. It was a sign of having some pride in ones appearance. And while I was at it, I was totally going to pick Finn's outfit as well. If he was given half a chance, he would just grab the nearest pair of jeans and a t-shirt, giving no though to whether they matched or not. He would let me pick his clothing, too, though, and I liked seeing him in things that actually fit for a change.
By the time I came back downstairs, Finn had already made enough French Toast to feed the entire Glee Club. "I think you made enough, Cowboy."
"Your Dad wants some." He flipped another four pieces.
"Then definitely no more. Dad is going to have a heart attack if he doesn't start controlling his portions." I kept my voice light, but it was a real worry. All of the Hummel men died of heart problems, right back to my great-great-great grandfather. It was yet another reason I tried to eat healthy and keep myself as fit as possible.
"You worry too much, kiddo." Dad grabbed the syrup out of the fridge. "I'm healthy as a horse."
That was what they all claimed, right up until they collapsed with no warning. My mouth opened to keep arguing, but Finn beat me to the punch. "It's ok, that was the last of them."
"Good, good." Dad was nervous, which was making me nervous. What was going on around here?
Further conversation was held until we had all served ourselves and were sitting down. Dad had relaxed a little and Finn didn't seem to notice the tension at all, but I was practically vibrating. If someone didn't say something soon, I was going to start screaming.
"Finn, I think you and I need to have a man to man talk." Dad set his fork down with a muted clang, a sure sign that we were going to be here for a while.
Finn set his own fork down and stared at Dad warily. "Is this a man to man talk about sex? Because I already know about that, you don't need to tell me."
It was a logical leap for Finn. Even I couldn't imagine anything else that would require a 'man to man' talk, but I knew that this wasn't the sex talk. Even though it's never discussed between the family, Dad is aware that Finn knows all about sex, and more then most people do. Besides, Dad could never bring himself to have the talk with me, his own child, so he certainly wasn't going to be able to do it with Finn.
"No, it's not that. It's just…." He steeled himself and took a deep breath. "Finn, I would like your permission to ask your mother to marry me."
I choked on thin air. Even though I had known it was coming, the thought of Dad and Carole actually getting married still stole my breath. Why would he want to do that?
Because he loves her. Because he's been alone since your mother died, and he's in love again. What I'm wondering is why he asked Finn of all people. There's no way he's going to give his blessing.
But Finn surprised me. Instead of telling Dad that he would allow him to marry Carole under no circumstances, he just sat back and took a long drink of his milk. "What if I say no?"
"No means no." Dad was trying to appear unaffected by the thought, but I could see the strain. "If you aren't comfortable with moving forward, we'll put the idea on hold for a little while and see how we feel about it later."
Still, Finn didn't straight out say no. "Do I have to call you 'Dad', like Kurt does?"
"No. You can keep on calling me Burt if you want to."
"What if I want to call you that?" I couldn't tell if Finn was serious or just acting like a jerk.
"If you want to call me Dad? You can. Or we can pick a different name that's just for me, like Pop or Papa or Father. Whatever makes you happiest." Dad sounded as confused as I felt.
"Do I have to decide right now? Can I think about it today while I'm doing my stuff and let you know tonight?" Finn sounded a little confused, but I could tell that he wasn't really. This was just his trick for getting Dad to shut up and leave him alone.
"Of course." Dad finished his coffee and gave Finn a quick pat on the shoulder. "Tomorrow's the big day at the garage, huh? I gave the rest of the guys the morning off, so it'll just be the three of us. I figured it would be easier for you to learn without an audience."
"Thanks." He didn't say anything else.
"Breakfast was great Finn. You're becoming a wonderful cook, which the ladies love." It was a shameless attempt to butter Finn up, one that I knew Finn saw through. Plus, it wasn't the ladies that Finn was interested in any more.
He doesn't seem particularly interested in you either. It's been weeks and the only thing you've gotten from him is a few kisses.
Finn was interested. More and more he was initiating the kisses, and I sometimes caught him looking at me in an appraising way, like he wanted to move forward, but wasn't sure how to do so.
Speaking of my boyfriend, he gave Dad a weak smile and looked down shyly, fussing with his last few bites of toast. Dad pushed his chair back. "I've got to get to work. Boys I'll see you tonight."
"Bye Dad." I gulped the last bit of my milk and cut my eye at Finn. "Your clothes are waiting for you upstairs. Just jeans and a T-shirt." Usually Finn would let me dress him in whatever I wanted, as long as it was comfortable and he didn't need any help getting it on, but I had intuited that the blue T-shirt I picked was a favorite, and I wanted to do everything I could to make this as easy as possible for him.
The ride to the cemetery was very quiet. At one point, I turned the radio on, but Finn turned it back off almost immediately. "Sorry."
His hands were clenched against his thighs, fingernails biting into his palms. I stroked the back of his left one, and he uncurled it to clutch at me instead. His skin was chilled and damp with sweat. "I didn't bring anything. Aren't you supposed to bring flowers to put on someone's grave? Or, like, a picture or something? That's what they always do in the movies."
He was losing his nerve, I could tell. "I don't really see Puck as a flowers or picture sort of guy, but if you would like, we could stop and get something for him."
"No, you're right. You're always right." His smile was tight and forced.
I had visited Puck's grave more times then I cared to count. No, I don't think that there's any kind of afterlife, but the cemetery was quiet and private. Plus, Puck had been the last person we had known to be with Finn and being close to him felt almost like keeping that one tiny connection with Finn, at least at first. Then it just got depressing, but I didn't stop going.
"I'm going to say yes." The words were blurted out in typical Finn fashion, leaving me to wonder what he was talking about.
"Okaaay…." I drew the word out into a question.
"I'm going to tell your father that it's ok if he marries Mom. Is that ok with you?"
"It is, but are you sure you don't want more time to think about it?" For someone who was usually so deliberate his thought process, to put it euphemistically, he can sometimes jump to conclusions without taking in to account all of the facts.
"No, I've already thought about it since forever." He must have caught my surprised look, because he grinned at me, the first real smile I had seen all day. "I'm not dumb, Kurt. I can see the way they look at each other, and I knew that he would ask her eventually, so I thought about it and thought about it and decided that he's something I can live with forever. Mom deserves someone to take care of her."
"He'll take care of you, too. He can take care of all of us." I kept my voice light and gentle.
"I know." There was no bite to the words, but the subject was definitely closed.
The cemetery was large, but I knew where to go. Finn dawdled, wanting to look at the bigger or more decorative stones. "Look, Kurt, this one died in the 1800's!"
He was stalling for time, but that was alright. We had more then an hour before we had to be at the doctors, and we could come back later if we didn't make it to the right grave today. "This cemetery has been here since the 1700s, so you might find one that's even older."
Finn sighed and squared his shoulders. "Maybe next time. Do you know where the grave is? Because this place is kind of big."
I nodded and started walking to the far corner. In less then two minutes, there we were, looking at Puck's grave. It was a simple stone
Noah "Puck" Puckerman
You Are Loved
I wasn't 100% sure what I expected to happen when Finn saw the grave. Would he cry? Rage? Faint? Have a total breakdown?
He didn't do any of those things. Instead his eyes went very soft and gentle and he knelt down in front of the grave. "Hey, Puck."
I sensed that this was a private moment, so I backed off. "Finn? I'm going to go sit over there for a while. Let me know if you need me."
He nodded without looking over. Instead he was focused on tracing each letter and number on the stone, as if he would find all the answer to the most important question in the world there. As if they would tell him how things had gone so badly.
The headstone I sat down on was one of the older ones, so hopefully no one would begrudge me the seat. Finn needed his privacy, but I didn't want to be too far away from him, in case he ended up needing me as well.
Only he didn't. He just stayed where he was, his back to me. If he spoke, it was too soft to hear, and he never shifted his position. This was something that Finn needed to do alone, and he was proving himself more then capable.
That's what I've been trying to tell you. He's not spun glass, and he won't break the minute you put pressure on him. To do what he's done already, to survive what they did to him, he had to be strong. Don't make him weak now.
That was easier said then done. Finn was strong, I wasn't trying to deny that, but he was still only 17 years old. He needed his family to rally around him and to love him, especially with what was coming ahead.
That's not what I'm saying. Of course Finn needs his family. Even grown men need their families around them. What you're doing right now is exactly right. Don't abandon him, but don't hang on him either. Give him at least a chance to work things out on his own.
Point to the voice. I reached into my messenger bag and pulled out my well-worn copy of Wicked. If Finn needed me, he knew how to find me.
A hand descended on my shoulder, startling me out of my thoughts and making me jump. Finn stood next to me, still quiet. His face was streaked with tears, but he wasn't crying now. He actually seemed calmer then he had been in weeks. Maybe doing this had been wearing on his mind as much as it had mine. "Are you ready to leave?"
"Yeah." His arm wrapped around me and lifted me off the stone. "I don't want to be here any more."
"Are you ok?" I knew that it was pushing, but I couldn't help it. I just had to know what was happening with him.
"I think so." He seemed as surprised as I was.
We were back in the car and halfway to the therapist's office before he gathered his thoughts enough to try speaking again. "It wasn't like I thought it would be."
I looked over at him, but didn't say anything. Speaking at this point would just derail Finn's train of thought and make him have to start all over again. Sure enough, he paused for only minute or two before he kept going. "I thought that going to the cemetery and seeing his grave and stuff would make me feel close to him, but it didn't. I wanted to talk to him, but I could have done that in the basement at home. He's not here. He's dead and seeing his grave isn't going to change that."
I could have told him that, but I hadn't. "I'm sorry."
"It's ok. Are you nervous about going to a crazy doctor? Because it's not that bad, I promise. Samantha lets me draw and we don't have to talk about anything we don't want to. It's kind of cool. Besides, I'll be right outside."
I marveled again at Finn's eternally optimistic nature. He was the only person I knew who could actually make therapy sound like fun. "You're a good boyfriend."
His lips moved slightly, forming the word 'boyfriend' again. It's kind of cute, the way he almost tastes the word every time. Like it's still unfamiliar to him, but he likes it all the same. Silly, goofy, precious, Finn.
Traumatized, frightened, sexually confused, Finn.
That, too. The silence in the car seemed almost deafening, but I was probably the only one who felt that way. Rather unsurprisingly, Finn has become very comfortable with quiet.
"Puck's grave was kind of nice, though." He was back to being thoughtful.
I had no idea what made a grave nice or not nice in Finn's mind. Actually, I had no idea what made a grave nice or not nice in anyone's mind. It was a rock on the ground, underneath which a body lay moldering away. There was nothing nice about any of that.
"I didn't feel close to Puck, but at least I know where is. The grass on it is really short and there aren't any weeds. Do you think his Mom comes out here and takes care of it?"
"I'm sure she does." My father still took care of my mother's grave, even all these years later.
"I'll bet she hates me." His voice was quiet and reflective.
"She doesn't hate you." I tried to make my voice sound cheerful and not at all like I was lying through my teeth. In truth, I didn't know whether or not Nancy Puckerman hated Finn, but she had been conspicuously absent from our house ever since he had come back. Before, when Puck was dead and Finn was simply missing, she had been at our place a lot, making sure Carole ate and doing everything possible to bring Finn home. But now there was radio silence from her end of things.
"I think she does. Because if it were the other way around, and I had died and Puck had lived, I would hate me. I wonder why that happened."
The last part seemed almost tacked on, like Finn's train of thought was running on multiple tracks at once. "Why what happened?"
"Why he picked Puck to die and me to live. It was all Joseph's choice, so there must have been a reason. I never asked him, because we never talked about what happened before. We all just pretended that I had always been there."
Actually, it was a good question. Finn was bigger and heavier. If you went off appearances alone, it would make more sense to kill him and leave Puck. So there had been something else that had drawn Joseph to Finn.
"Maybe I'll ask him." There was no bravado in the words, which made me realize that he meant them.
"You can't be serious." Even though I already knew that he was.
"Why not? I already have to see him in court, and there's nothing that stops me from asking to see him in jail. I just haven't wanted to." He was watching me curiously, as if I was some lab rat whose reactions would be studied for an experiment.
Stay calm. He's testing you, Kurt, and your response now can make or break your relationship.
With that in mind, I took a deep breath. "I don't think he'll tell you anything."
There, now the blame was on Joseph, not me.
"You don't?" He sounded disappointed, but not as disappointed as I would have thought he would. Deep down, he had known that it was a pipe dream, too.
"I don't. Think about it, Finn. If he's claiming he's innocent, he's not going to tip his hand be even letting anyone know that he knows who Puck is. Remember, he's claiming that he didn't pick you up until after Puck died."
"Oh, yeah. He probably wouldn't tell me anyway, just because he knew that I wanted him to. He was mean like that."
He was mean in a lot worse ways then that, too, but I understood where Finn was coming from. Everything about this case boiled down to one simple question: Why? Why did Puck die and Finn live? Why did they take Finn? Why did they think they had the right to hurt him the way they did? Why did they let him go in the end? Why not just leave his corpse somewhere where it would never be found?
The questions were still turning over in my mind when we pulled up to the building that housed Finn's (and soon to by my) therapist. "Do you want me to walk you in?"
His face fell. "You aren't going to stay?"
I had no idea why he would think that I was staying, since I never had in the past. Not even his mother waited in the lobby for him to be done with his sessions. "I thought I would get a cup of coffee before my own session." I pointed across the street, to the little coffee shop on the corner. "Would you rather I stayed?"
"I guess not"
"Alright then. I'll see you in an hour, Cowboy." I tried to keep my voice cheerful. It was hard, but we were all supposed to be encouraging Finn to be more independent, and this was a good way to do it.
I was nervous about the upcoming session, which meant that lots of caffeine might not be the best idea, but the thought of sitting in that lobby was even worse. There were plenty of tables by the windows, so I could keep an eye out for Finn while I enjoyed myself.
He leaned over and kissed me. "Ok, bye."
See voice, he is getting better! He had kissed me because he wanted to, not because I had given even the smallest indication that that was what I expected of him.
I never said he wasn't getting better. He's doing just fine. He's just taking things very, very, slowly.
I made sure that Finn was inside the building before I pulled away, even though there were cars waiting behind us. Once he was inside, he was safe, but there was always the chance of something happening in those 10 feet from the curb to the building. 10 feet, 15 seconds, that's how long it took last time.
And, yes, I knew how paranoid that was. That had happened on a deserted road after dark. Finn had been vulnerable and trusting, and Joseph had gotten damn lucky. This was the middle of the day in a crowded intersection. Finn would never be foolish enough to approach someone in a car now, no matter what the circumstances. Still….
But he ambled inside with no problems, even holding the door for an older woman. She smiled and reached out to give his shoulder a gentle pat, but he pulled quickly back. As harmless as this woman probably was, Finn doesn't trust anyone outside the family to touch him.
I found a parking space easily enough, but I had to take a few extra minutes to compose myself. I suppose Finn and I are alike in that it doesn't take much to freak us out, and we have trouble thinking clearly in a group of people. I had to decide what I was going to tell this therapist. It wouldn't be Samantha, since she was Finns therapist and that would be a conflict of interest, but I had requested and gotten a woman. The male doctors might be great, but I just wasn't comfortable spilling my guts to one.
How about telling this woman the truth? Your family isn't paying the exorbitant private rates for you to start lying. Be as honest as possible, even about the embarrassing parts, because this woman is trying to help you.
Maybe I should have just asked Finn for some tips. After all, he was certainly happy with his therapist, so there must be some trick to making it into an enjoyable experience. Of course, there was also the fact that Finn was much more of a people person then I was, and had the amazing ability to make people like him without even trying.
With a heavy sigh, I stepped out of the car and walked inside. I could play a few rounds of a puzzle game on my phone while I drank my coffee, just to take my mind off the inevitable.
Since I had an entire hour, and the coffee shop owners tend to frown on you just hanging around without a drink, I ordered a much larger drink that I normally would have. I was carefully making my way to a table when someone came rapidly around the corner and slammed into me, causing me to dump the scalding liquid all over my expensive shirt. "Ow! You moron!" Shock prevented the words from being as loud as I would have liked them to be.
"I'm so sorry!" The guy who had hit me was about my age, and had his hands up in a supplicating gesture.
I didn't even bother acknowledging that as I swept into the bathroom and tried frantically to sponge coffee off my cream colored shirt. I was not going to my appointment covered in stains! Even Finn would draw the line there, and if Finn Hudson wouldn't do it, I certainly wasn't about to.
The stains didn't come completely out, but I did remember that there was another shirt folded neatly in the car that would match my pants. Ok, crisis averted. I just needed to get another cup of coffee, and calm down. I couldn't go into my appointment this stressed out or I would explode before the first word came out of the doctor's mouth.
Normally, a little setback like this wouldn't have devastated me, but I was already so edgy that having to wait in line for another drink seemed like a crisis that couldn't be dealt with.
When I stepped back out of the bathroom, the guy who had run into me was standing there with a drink and a muffin. He held them out to me. "I'm sorry that I ran into you. This is the same thing you had, because I asked the barista. Plus, I got you a muffin to apologize. Also, if your shirt needs to be dry cleaned, please let me give you something for the bill."
There was something in his earnestness that reminded me of Finn, and I felt myself softening slightly. It had been an accident, after all and he was trying to make amends. I took a deep breath. "Thank you. Don't worry about the shirt, it will come out."
He smiled happily, and that was kind of like Finn, too. "Are you meeting someone, or…..? Because I wouldn't mind having some company."
Maybe having someone to take my mind off my nerves would be a good thing. "That would be lovely, but I should let you know that I have somewhere to be in-"I consulted my watch. "40 minutes. I have to meet Finn."
"Oh, that's ok." He gestured to a table and we both sat down. "So, who's Finn? Friend? Brother?" He paused, debating what to say next. "Boyfriend?"
I wasn't sure how to answer that. Finn was all three, yet none of those seemed to be the right word. "It's complicated, but let's go with friend."
"Ah." He took a sip of his coffee, suddenly very interested in picking at his own muffin.
Kurt? Hello, Kurt? Do you understand what's happening here? This boy is flirting with you!
He couldn't possibly be. No one flirted with me. No one could possibly be that secure with themselves that they just picked another boy up in a coffee shop in Lima, Ohio, for Prada's sake!
Please. No one just asks if a boy you mention is your boyfriend unless they want to make a move. He's all blushing and breathy, just like you always got when you were flirting with Finn. This boy wants you.
It still seemed a little hard to believe. Besides, who cared who flirted with me? Even though I hadn't admitted it to this boy, Finn was my boyfriend, and I didn't want anyone else. I tried to change the subject. "I'm sorry, I think I missed your name. I'm Kurt Hummel"
He colored a bit, which leant some truth to that voice's words. "Sorry. It's Blaine. Blaine Anderson."
A/N: Dun, Dun, DUN!