Alice: How Long is Forever?

White Rabbit: Sometimes, just one second

Alice in Wonderland

"Finn?" I tickled his side, making him grumble and pull the blanket over his head. "Finn Hudson!"

"G'way." He pushed at me, but, considering his arms were still under the covers, it didn't have much effect. "I'm sleeping."

"Ok. But no kiss, then." I stood up and waited while Finn flipped himself around and struggled to sit up. "No, I'm up, I'm up!"

I bit back a laugh. Finn was Finn, always affectionate and adorably predictable. He had to jump up and give me a half dozen kisses. "I'll miss you."

"I know." He always told me that, as if he wouldn't see me for months, instead of just a few hours.

"No Glee today. Today I have work at the garage, so I won't be here when you get home."

For some reason, Finn likes to tell me all about his schedule, as if it wasn't marked on the calendar in the kitchen. "I know. I'm going to go out with Mercedes tonight, so we'll probably only see each other in passing. Get your homework done, and I'll check over it right before bed, ok?

His lip curled. "Why is it always homework?"

"Because if all of the homework is done, then we'll have time for…." I trailed off and raised an eyebrow."

Just as I had suspected, he gave me a devilish grin. "Ok. Homework then sex time. Got it. Now I'm going back to sleep."

"Night Cowboy." I was still a little jealous that he could get up whenever he felt like it and not have to be rushed through his morning routines so he would get to school on time, but then I thought about being stuck here day after day and it cured that thought pretty quickly.

Carole had left for work already, but Dad was reading the paper and eating breakfast. "Morning, kid. You want some eggs and bacon?"

Just the thought made me shudder. "That's disgusting and probably has enough cholesterol for the week. I'll just have some fruit."

"I don't know how you keep yourself going on that. You need more protein in your diet. At least let me make you one egg."

"Fine. One egg." I didn't think that it was needed, but it's something that Dad can do for me. He can't help me in Glee, he couldn't help me with my Cheerios stuff, and he certainly couldn't do anything to help me with Finn, but he could make me an egg for breakfast.

"Is Finn awake? We're going in early today so I can start teaching him the books."

A bitter surge of jealousy rolled through my chest. I was the one who took care of the books. "But that's my job."

"It's still going to be your job. But you're not going to be here forever. You're cut out for bigger things then Lima, and I don't want anything to hold you back."

"But Finn will go wherever I go. If I'm not here, he won't be either." Why did nobody understand that?

"What about what Finn wants? Has he told you that he wants to leave Lima and move to a bigger city? He may want to stay close to home and his mother for a few more years."

No, I hadn't really talked to Finn about it. He was so easy going that it was easy to imagine him fitting in wherever he went. But Dad was right. Maybe Finn had had enough of the world outside of Lima, Ohio. "There's plenty of time for us to talk about that later. I just wouldn't count on Finn being here forever, either."

"That's true. But keeping the books gives Finn a chance to practice the skills he's learning with his tutor. He does better with hands on learning, where he can actually see what the math is for. I just don't tell him that he's actually in school with me."

This was why I wished that Finn would give Dad more of a chance. "Ok. As long as it's still my job." I know that Finn's capable, but it's really hard for me to give up any measure of bonding I have with Dad.

"Books will be your job as long as you want it to be. Now eat your egg."

It still seemed a bit dismissive, but I could live with it. "Remember I'm going out with Mercedes, so don't hold dinner for me."

"No you aren't. We have family therapy tonight." He gestured at the calendar.

"We don't have therapy on Wednesdays." As I was saying it, though I remembered that we did. Carole had been working an overnight shift last week, so we had rescheduled for today. "Can't I skip it just this once?"

"For what I pay for these sessions? Not a chance. I'm sorry, Kurt, but you need to let me know your plans ahead of time. If you hadn't waited until the day of, we might have been able to pick a different day."

The stupid tears were already threatening, and I forced them down. "Finn doesn't even care if I'm there or not." That probably wasn't true, but I was grasping at straws here.

"This isn't a session for Finn. It's a session for our entire family and that includes you. You're not going out with Mercedes, and you are going to therapy. Period, there will be no more discussion."

"But that's not fair! I'm not the one who needs to be in therapy, so why am I getting punished!" I shoved my plate with the uneaten egg away and gave Dad the full force of my glare.

He was completely unmoved. "You're throwing a toddlers tantrum over one hour of your life. I would say you need this as badly as the rest of us do."

Of course he was right, and a part of me was mortified at my own behavior. I was better then this. But a bigger part didn't care. Most of the time I didn't mind arranging things around Finn and his needs, but I really wanted a night to myself. "Fine. Do whatever you want."

Now he was angry, too. "Damn it Kurt! This isn't about what any one of us wants. This is about what is best for us as a family. Nobody likes therapy, but it's what we have to do. Period."

"He doesn't have to go. No one has to go if it's going to make everyone fight and be miserable." Either Finn had never gone back to sleep, or our fight had woken him up, and he was standing in the doorway to the basement. "I'll just go to my therapist alone. It's fine."

The fact that he had seen me acting like that was humiliating, and it only made my temper worse. "Don't worry about it, Finn." It came out harsher then I wanted it to.

"It's not up to you, either, Finn. We're going to therapy tonight, and Kurt is not going out with his friend."

Finn's eyes darted between the two of us nervously. He is very good at divide and conquer, and I didn't want to give him even the smallest idea that he could pit Dad and I against each other.

Finn doesn't need to pit the two of you against each other. You're doing a good enough job of that all on your own.

"But I don't want everyone to fight." He was already backing down.

"It's alright, Champ. Just a minor spat and all that. Do you want me to make you some eggs and bacon?"

Just like that, I was dismissed. And why didn't he call me by cute little nicknames? "Yeah, Finn. It's fine. I'll see you tonight, ok? Bye, Dad."

I felt better after I had a big dramatic stomp out the door and peeled out of the driveway. Screw Dad. I hated him anyway.

It was worse when Mercedes met up with me at my car. "Hey Baby. You ready for tonight?"

The tears were gone, but my anger was still simmering. "Nope. I can't go tonight because we all have to go to therapy."

She whistled. "That stinks. I thought you had family therapy on Mondays?"

"We do. But we had to reschedule, and I forgot about it when I told you I could go. I still want to, but Dad said I can't."

"It's alright. We can reschedule for another day."

That was nice of her, but it wasn't what I wanted to hear. "Well, at least I'll have plenty to talk about in family therapy. Like how much I hate Dad right now."

"What about Finn? Is he in the shithouse too?"

"No. But he got to see me and Dad fight, which I hate because then he feels like he's stuck in the middle. Then he got to see me throw a giant temper tantrum, which is real sexy."

She raised one eyebrow at me. It was a classic Mercedes 'Kurt, time to cut the bullshit. Now tell me what you did to bring this on yourself' move.

As always, I was powerless under that look. "I might have been a brat. I know that going to therapy is important, and I know that. And I especially hate that Finn came upstairs and saw Dad and I fighting. The two of them are actually doing a little better together, and I don't know what this is going to do that."

"And…." She wasn't about to let me off easy.

"Dad wants to teach Finn how to keep the books at the shop. That's my job, not Finn's."

As soon as that popped out of my mouth, I knew that the books were the real problem. Not therapy, not missing the going out with Mercedes. It was that Dad was giving Finn my jobs, and calling him by sweet little nicknames and basically replacing me. "I got jealous."

"There you go. Now, what do you think you should do next?" She was trying to be sympathetic, but I could tell that she really wanted to smack me.


"There you go." She slung an arm around my shoulders. "What would you do without me?"

"I shudder to think."

"You would be lost. Now, tell me what's going on in the bedroom. Come on, I need details."

"You know I can't tell you any of that." I had to play coy at first; even though we both knew I would tell her everything. Poor Finn would probably be mortified if he knew that Mercedes had all but seen a picture of his penis (Ok, fine, I drew one). The whole thing with Finn was so surreal that I needed someone to talk to about it. Plus, I liked a chance to do a little bragging. "Ok, fine. It's going great. I mean, it's like Finn's suddenly figured out that I won't hurt him or scare him, and it's like I created a monster. If he had his way, we would never wear pants."

It was only a small exaggeration. Finn's sex drive had come roaring back, and I was not complaining. My God, that boy is talented. And best of all, he doesn't push things. He doesn't exactly wait for me to make suggestions (thankfully. I still have trouble saying some of the words, much less thinking of lewd suggestions), but he's very in tune with me, and he seems to know when I'm nervous or hesitant even before I do. He was making every effort to make things great for me, since they hadn't been great for him.

The bell was getting ready to ring, though, and I had to get out one last thing. It didn't paint me in a flattering light, but I had to say it anyway. "He likes Finn better then he likes me." It came out very small.

"Really? You think that he likes Finn better?" I could tell that she didn't believe me. "Finn hates him."

"He doesn't like Finn better yet. But he will. The more they do stuff together, the more Finn will trust him. And they'll get dirty and talk about sports and maybe Dad will even sneak him a beer and tell him not to tell Carole. Pretty soon he'll like Finn best and forget about me."

"I think you're paranoid. I'm sure your father is going out of his way with Finn right now, but you're his son. He doesn't love Finn more. But he might if you don't quit acting like a jerk."

"Ok, ok, I get it. I'll apologize tonight and be extra good and gut spilling in therapy." My phone buzzed against my hip and I snuck it out, already knowing it was Finn. Just as I suspected, he was worried about Dad and I's fight this morning.

I texted him back, calming his nerves and reminding him that everything was just fine. We could get through this one together. He seemed to accept that, but I could feel an underlying tension in his words, even without being able to read his tone of voice. Despite a rather disaffected air, he's always been a worrier. I texted another reassurance and promised myself that we would talk this out more in our session tonight. I had acted poorly, and I wanted Dad to see that I really was trying.

There were no more texts after that, which was a good sign. When Dad first started taking Finn to the garage, I was getting them every 20 minutes or so, as if Finn thought I could protect him from all the way across town. Gradually his anxiety eased, and now it was usually only once, twice if something interesting happened.

Which was why it was such a shock when I was called out of class right after lunch. Both Mr. Shue and Ms. Pilsbury were there, and my stomach started flipping. Finn. Oh, God, Finn. Something had happened.

Mr. Shue put his hand on my back, but I twisted away. "Where's Finn? What happened, where is he?"

He hurried me along. "Finn is fine. There's been an accident at the shop, and I have to take you to the hospital now."

Finn was hurt. This had nothing to do with the trial or anything that had happened. He had been careless and gotten injured. And if they had pulled me from class to go to the hospital, he had been injured badly. Had a car fallen on him? Had he been careless with welder? A garage can be a dangerous place if you aren't on your toes.

You aren't listening. Mr. Shue just told you that Finn is fine.

Dad? But that didn't make sense. Dad was always careful. He made sure that everything was locked into place and all of the safety precautions had been taken before he would ever touch a car. But accidents can happen to anyone. I could remember a time or two when he had needed stitches from a jagged edge.

That made sense. Dad couldn't leave Finn alone at the garage, since he was still very shy of the other men there. But the hospital was even worse. We had gone back there a grand total of once, and Finn freaked out. He might not remember much about what happened right after he came home, but the humiliation and terror the hospital was clear in his mind. It was so simple. They were both at the hospital, but Finn was panicked and refusing to go anywhere with Dad. They needed me to calm him down and get him back in the car.

I managed to keep the doubts at bay until we were in Mr. Shue's old clunker, the tailpipe dragging along. Neither he nor Ms. Pilsbury were talking, and it terrified me. "What happened?"

"We're not sure. It looks like your father might have had a heart attack. They took him to the hospital, and Finn and Carole are waiting for you."

A heart attack. The same thing that had killed my grandfather, and my great-grandfather, and all of my granduncles. The same thing that had killed every man in the Hummel family. Now it was Dad's turn. "How?"

"He collapsed at the shop. Finn was able to give him CPR until the ambulance got there, but I'm not sure what happened from there."

Dad was going to be fine. People had heart attacks every day, and they were just fine in the end. Maybe Dad would need surgery, but probably not. He was probably just being monitored now, and would be ready to go home by tomorrow.

Well, you got your wish. No family therapy tonight.

No, I had wanted to go out with Mercedes. I certainly hadn't wanted for Dad to be hurt just so I could visit with a friend. It wasn't that important.

It was important enough to throw a tantrum over, though. Important enough that I hadn't told Dad that I loved him this morning. Important enough that I had shot out of the driveway like a bat out of hell, just to prove how angry I was.

I was out of the car before it stopped moving. "Thanks, Mr. Shue, I have it from here." No, I didn't know where to go, but neither did he. All I wanted was my family, not my teacher.

Luckily the emergency staff is used to dealing with hysterical family members looking for their loved ones, and they got me sent in the right direction. Once I found the right waiting room, it was easy to spot Finn and Carole. Carole was tear streaked, but Finn was dry eyed and still.

Carole saw me first and wrapped me up in her arms, saying all the comforting things that I expected from a mother. Finn put an arm around me, but said nothing. I clutched at his hands and he squeezed back just as tightly. "What happened?"

"Your father is in surgery right now. He had a massive heart attack and wasn't breathing when they brought him in. They'll let us know when there's news." Carole stepped in and spoke quietly.

"Is he going to die?" My voice cracked and Finn's hand tightened on mine.

"He can't." Carole was talking to herself as much as she was me. "He's going to be fine. This can't happen again."

We all sat down and waited. And waited, and waited and waited. The three of us were an island in the waiting room. Why wasn't he out of surgery yet? Was that a good sign or a bad one? If they came too soon, that meant that he was dead.

Dead, just like my mother was. If Dad died, what would happen to me? Carole wasn't my mother. She wasn't even my stepmother. Legally, we were strangers to each other, and there was no way they would let her keep me, even if she wanted to. More likely, it would be foster care or creepy Aunt Ellie. Her Christmas gift to me last year, as it had been for the past decade, was to offer to send me to one of those camps so I could be cured of my 'homosexual compulsions'.

Given the choice, I would take foster care.

It was almost 3 hours before someone came to get us. Carole offered us both food, or coffee, or anything at all, but neither one of us moved. Finn was still in his coveralls from the garage and I couldn't stop staring at them. He was so proud of those things, with his name stitched on the right breast in blue thread. FINN. FINN. FINN. I traced the letters with my mind again and again, marveling at the tiny stitches. F-I-N-N. F-I-N-N. Four letters, my boyfriend reduced to the smallest possible pieces himself. F-I-N-N.

B-U-R-T. B-U-R-T. Dad, too, was reduced to something other then he had been this morning. B-U-R-T. But that wasn't the same. He could be cut smaller, into even fewer letters then Finn could. D-A-D. My Dad, the only family I had left.

I didn't make any effort to hold the tears back, but they wouldn't come at all. There was a crater in my chest and throat, sucking all the tears away. Beside me, Finn didn't cry either. He just sat and looked at the wall, completely detached from what was happening. He never let go of my hand, and looked over occasionally to see if I needed something, but, other then that, he barely seemed to breathe. I wondered where he was mentally right now, and hoped that it was somewhere better then here.

The room we were sent to was small, and I was able to scope it out in seconds. No priest, no rabbi, no extra people. Just a doctor, which meant Dad was still alive. We all found seats and waited. "Mr. Hummel is out of surgery and in recovery."

Dad was alive. My breath released in a huge whoosh. No matte what else, Dad was still alive because the doctor had said so. Finn wrapped an arm around my shoulders and pulled me to him, as if he could keep me safe.

The doctor babbled on, talking about things that I didn't understand, but Carole did. She asked the questions while I just focused on the fact that I wasn't an orphan.

Only once did he acknowledge that Finn and I were in the room at all. He was telling Carole that Dad hadn't gone without oxygen for long, due to Finn being able to give him CPR. "You did a wonderful job, young man. Did you learn that at school?"

Finn didn't answer. He just stared like the man was a ghost, or a bad dream that he would soon wake up from.

His one gambit having failed, he turned his attention back to Carole. I didn't understand a lot of the words but the ones I did were terrifying. Blockage. Code Blue. Stent. Permanent damage. Coma.

"Is he going to die?" I barely recognized my own voice.

"Things are looking very grave." He was obviously groping for anything positive to say. "He's on full live support right now. But he made it through surgery, and he is stable."

"But in a coma. Even if he wakes up, we don't know if he'll be the same." I already knew that it was true, but I had to hear this man confirm it.

"Until he wakes up, we won't know anything."

"Can I see him?" I had to see it for myself, so I would know that he was still here.

"No visitors tonight. He's critical, which means he'll be held in recovery for 24 hours. How old are you?"

"16." I knew that I looked and sounded younger, but 16 was old enough to be able to visit, wasn't it? "I'm the only family he has."

"What about your Mom and brother?" He pointed at Carole and Finn, mistaking us for a normal family.

"Carole is my Dad's girlfriend, and Finn is her son. I'm Dad's only real family." That was probably rude, but I didn't care. It was true.

"If you're really 16, you can come see him tomorrow. Do you have somewhere to spend the night?"

Did I? .I had a house, maybe, but I needed someone to watch me. "Uh…"

"He's going to stay with us, in his own home." Carole didn't hesitate at all. "That is not up for debate."

"I want to stay here. My Dad might need me." My voice was so soft and reedy that no one but Finn could hear me. He ran his fingers up and down my neck, letting me know that he was there.

The doctor wavered a bit, and Carole stood up. "This conversation doesn't need to take place in front of the boys. I need to step out in the hall with you."

Even doctors bow to nurses, and he didn't argue. I sat quietly for a minute, before I pushed back to look at Finn. "What happened!" It came out more harshly then I intended it to, and he jolted, his arms automatically jerking up into a boxers pose to try and shield his face. He never used to do that, before everything that happened, and it only made me feel worse. "I'm sorry, Finn."

He shook his head, staring at me but not seeing me. He started to say something, but Carole was coming back in. She lightly touched my cheek. "Honey, I tried to get them to let you say hi, even if it was just for a minute, but they said no. We're going to go home so you can be rested for tomorrow, and get back her as soon as we're allowed, ok?"

No, that wasn't ok. I shook my head as hard as I could. I had to stay here, in case Dad needed me. "I want to stay here."

"I know, but that's not an option." She dropped her voice. "Either you come with me now, or they get someone from CPS in here and take you to foster care. They won't let you stay here, and if we make too big of a scene, someone is going to figure out that I have no right to actually take you with me. Please, Kurt. You have to listen to me."

I wanted to stay with Dad. But Carole was right. At least she would make sure that I was back here as soon as possible. Who knew where I would end up if they found out that she wasn't even legally my stepmother? "Ok."

Finn pulled me to my feet and kept his arm around me as we walked out. I leaned against him, grateful for his presence and his strength. The three of us were going to stick together. We would go home, and go to bed. In the morning, we would get up, and be back at the hospital as soon as we could. Then, the minute it was allowed, I would get to see Dad.

Unless, of course, he woke up before then. Which he probably would. Hummel men are tough, and anyway, people have heart attacks every day and were just fine. It was practically a right of passage for men of a certain age.

Once we were home, I gently refused Carole's offer of food and went downstairs. The faster I could go to sleep, the faster tomorrow would come and my life could get back on track.

Finn paused in the kitchen and brought down a Hot Pocket, wolfing it down guiltily under my accusing gaze. How could he even think about stuffing his face at a time like this? Didn't he care at all that the world was ending? Just because he hated Dad, he could at least show me a little respect.

He's hungry. At least you got lunch. If I count right, Finn hasn't eaten since breakfast. And he doesn't hate your father. If he hated your father, the man would be dead right now. He could have just as easily pretended not to know CPR at all, and your dad would have been gone before the ambulance could get there.

That was true, so I dropped my eyes and pulled on my pajamas, letting him eat in peace. Finn undressed as well, rummaging in the dresser for something to wear. I noticed he chose to put on pajama pants and a long sleeved top, despite the warmth of the basement. That was classic 'don't even think about touching me sexually' Finn battle armor, not that I was the slightest bit interested in sex anyway. He crawled miserably onto his side of the bed and closed his eyes. Just like me, he was ready for this day to be over.

It doesn't matter. This is real life, not a video game. Things aren't going to magically reset themselves at midnight, and tomorrow isn't going to be any better then today.

I thought that Finn was asleep when I snuggled up against him, but he wrapped an arm around me immediately and squeezed. I rolled over and stared deep into his eyes. "My father is going to die." In contrast to earlier, I sounded exactly like I always had. Quiet, but completely sure.

He shook his head, denying what we both already knew. "He is. The doctor's already talking about brain damage, and heart damage and who knows what else." I buried my face in his chest, desperate for his warmth and comfort. "I don't want him to die."

Finn didn't tell me that things would be alright, and that there was no chance of that happening. If anyone knew how quickly things could go wrong, it was Finn. But at least he was there. "If Dad dies, I want you to promise you'll run away with me. Your Mom isn't going to want me, and I'm not going to foster care."

He opened his mouth, probably to tell me that Carole would never get rid of me, but I didn't want to hear it. Without Dad, I was nothing to her. Just her son's boyfriend, the one who scared him out of his own house and got him kidnapped and almost killed. "Please, Finn. If Dad dies, I need to know that you'll have my back and we'll stick together. Promise me that I won't have to go to foster care, and that we can run away together. Promise."

This time he nodded. I held up my pinkie, and he linked his with it in solidarity. "Good. I love you, Finn." I pressed even tighter against his body and closed my eyes. "Ok, time for bed. Will you come with me to the hospital tomorrow?"

He nodded against the top of my head. "Mmm-hmmm."

"Ok." My hands were tight on his T-shirt, and I made myself loosen them. I closed my eyes and listened to Finn breathe, feeling the unsteady rhythm and knowing that he was still awake, keeping guard. Finally, I slept.

It was several hours later when I woke up, my stomach growling. It was actually kind of horrifying, that I could still be hungry when Dad might be dying alone. Beside me, Finn slept, silent and still. I eased out from under his arm and up the stairs, staying as quiet as possible. I had to eat, so I could keep of my strength and be there for Dad.

My only intention was to not wake Finn, but I was doing such a good job of keeping quiet that I ended up stumbling on Carole, who was on the phone in the living room. She didn't see or hear me, leaving me to lean against the doorframe and listen.

"I know, Pam. It's just… I can't do this again. I lost Chris, and I can't lose Burt as well. And when it was Chris, at least Finn had no idea. He thought that his Dad was already dead. But now he does know and it's like a second person died right in front of him and I just don't know how much more he can take." She paused as this Pam person said something, then nodded. "I don't know what to do about him. He doesn't love me and he doesn't trust me. He certainly doesn't let me comfort him."

She was talking about me. But that wasn't true. I did love Carole, and I certainly trusted that she was looking out for my best interests. Why didn't she think I loved her?

Have you ever told her that you love her? That you appreciate all she's done to try and patch you guys into one family? You have to speak up.

I had told her that I loved her. I had to have told her that I loved her. I pressed back nervously, hating that I was spying, but not being able to stop. Carole kept talking. "He's downstairs asleep with Finn. I'm just letting it go for right now, but it can't go on. Finn's already not talking again, and there's no way he can handle the stress."

That wasn't true either! Finn was talking! Maybe he hadn't said much at the hospital, but he was talking just fine now that he as home.

Except….I guessed he wasn't doing that either. Other then one low humming noise as an affirmation, he hadn't made so much as the smallest sound. Oh, God, Carole was right.

"-if he dies, I just don't know. I can't go through this again, I just…I can't. And I have these two boys who are depending on me and all I want to do is go to bed and never leave. I love this man, every bit as much as I loved Chris and how can I be losing another one? Kurt's lost his mother, Finn's lost one father, I've lost a husband and we all went through all this bullshit this year. When are we going to get a break?"

I inched backwards, trying to get back downstairs. It was cowardly, but I couldn't bear facing Carole's pain as well as my own. I made only a few steps before I bumped into the doorframe, sending the landline phone crashing to the floor. Both Carole and I yelped. "Finn? Kurt?" I remained frozen, unable to reply. "I'm going to have to call you back."

She came into the room. "Kurt, honey? What's wrong? Do you need something?"

"I'm hungry." It wasn't what I wanted to say, but I didn't know how to say anything else without revealing that I had been spying on her.

"Ok. Go sit down and I'll make you something. Do you want some toast?"

"With peanut butter?" I should have been telling her that I could make my own toast, and that she had bigger things to worry about, but I didn't. Maybe this was a way that I could show her that I wanted her to do things for me. "Did you hear anything else from the hospital?"

"No Sweetheart." She put some peanut butter on the toast and poured me a glass of milk. "They'll only call of something changes."

"Oh." That made sense, I guess. I shoved the toast in my mouth, just so I wouldn't ask what I wanted to.

"Is Finn still asleep?" She looked around, as if she was just now realizing that we were short a person.

I nodded. "He didn't wake up."

She rested one hand on my back, so lightly that I could barely feel it. "I wish I could do more for you. I wish I knew what to say or do."

"You're doing enough. I just want my Dad." The toast clogged in my throat, and I had to take a huge gulp of milk before it would go down. "I want my Dad."

Now the tears came, hot and heavy. Dad was going to die. I was going to be an orphan. No more family, no more house, no more garage. No more anything. My life was over if Dad's was.

"I know you do." She tightened her arms around me. "I know, and I want him, too. But we're both going to have to be brave. All three of us are going to be brave, and make sure that things go as smoothly as possible, for when your Dad comes home, ok?"

I nodded through the tears, doing my best to choke them off. Carole stroked the back of my head. "You can cry now, though. There's no one here to see it but me."

A part of me wondered how she knew that I couldn't cry in front of Finn. After everything he had been through, it seemed wrong to break down in front of him. He had suffered losing Puck without any of us to help, and I felt like I should be able to do that same.

But I couldn't. I couldn't be tough like Finn was. But more importantly, I didn't have to be. Finn had suffered alone because he didn't have a choice. But I did. I pressed my head against Carole's shoulder, hugging her as tightly as she was hugging me. I might not be Finn, but at least I meant something to her.

She held and rocked until I was too tired to go on. My head hurt and my stomach hurt and I was a mess of snot and tears. Nothing was fixed. But I could breathe again, and that was something. Carole gave me one last hug. "Better?"

"No." My voice cracked miserably. "Dad's still going to die."

"We don't know that. Right now, we have to focus on him living. If…" She had to take a minute to visibly steel herself. "If it's his time to pass, we'll deal with that when it happens. But until we know for sure, we're going to stick together and we're going to get through this, ok?"

"Ok." It was nice to have someone else take charge. If things went wrong, it would be Carole's fault, not mine. I was just a bystander in this all. "I'd like to go back to bed now."

"Go then. I'll clean this up." She kissed the top of my head. "Try and get some sleep, and we'll be ready to go to the hospital

I stumbled back downstairs, trying to be quiet, even though Finn sleeps like the…I couldn't complete the thought. Finn's a heavy sleeper; let's just say it that way. He didn't move when I crawled into bed next to him. I touched his jaw lightly and whispered. "Please Finn. You have to get up tomorrow and you have to talk. I know that what happened today was terrifying, and you were so brave. You saved Dad's life. But you can't freak out now. Only one of us can freak out at a time, and you had your turn already. I need you to be strong, and I need you to take care of me right now, ok?"

Of course he didn't wake up, but just having him here was a comfort. Now that I had a game plan for tomorrow, it w as easier to fall asleep. For right now, I was just going to follow Finn's tried and true system of just collapsing and shutting off, and hoping that things would be better when I woke up. Or in this case, just hoping that they hadn't gotten any worse.