Disclaimer: Glee belongs to Ryan Murphy and Fox, not me.
This story is based on the amazing Morning Shows the Day by Kivrin, who is not only an absolutely amazing writer, but one of my real life friends! I sent a review, she sent a message back...the next thing we know, we realize that we live in the same general area and meet in a very public location because we both privately suspected the other might be an ax murderer. Thankfully, we're not, and we're good friends!
Morning Shows the Day is an amazing AU story that centers around Kurt suddenly turning into a four-year-old. He's having trouble keeping the balance between his seventeen-year-old brain and his four-year-old mentality, and it's taking its toll. There are also evil time-traveling scientists, absolutely clueless Blaine Anderson, and a lot of pancakes involved.
To make this particular story a little easier to follow, I've added an excerpt of Morning Shows the Day. You don't really need it to understand the oneshot, but this way you can read it from Kurt's point of view. So...enjoy!
When Finn ever-so-subtly dragged Kurt to a playground and then expressed a pressing need to study right then, Kurt was not amused. He could feel Finn watching him over the top of the Spanish textbook he was pretending to be interested in, and was not about to give him the satisfaction of looking like he was having a good time. He did cast a longing eye at the swings for just a moment, remembering the sensation of flying, but sternly reminded himself that seventeen year old boys did not play on swings at a public playground even when they happened to look four. Kurt sat down grumpily in the grass at the far edge of Finn's range of vision, knowing that if he strayed further it would only cause unnecessary drama, and plucked apathetically at the blades of grass, little fingers grasping the long stems with more precision than his hands could usually manage. He wove several strands together absently, eyes watching the horizon until he could take the boredom no more...
The warmth of the sun and the hypnotic swirl of colors were eventually enough to send him off to sleep, and Kurt wasn't sure whether to be infuriated or grateful when he woke up in his own bed at home, Finn studiously avoiding his glare and making inane comments about the weather. He passed by Kurt's bed and looked down at him, smiling a little as he took in Kurt's sleep-rumpled hair.
Kurt felt a little groggy as he tried to wake up from yet another deviously implemented nap, and was horrified as he realized his arms had gone up of their own accord, as if to ask Finn to pick him up. Finn looked at him curiously, and took a step forward, looking ready to fulfill the request. Kurt gave a squeak of dismay and flung himself off the bed, dashing for the bathroom, where he locked the door behind him and slid to the ground, staring at his traitorous hands. For just a moment, sitting there still half-asleep, he had wanted nothing more than to be picked up and cuddled close, and Finn had been right there, looking warm and secure. He had looked safe, and Kurt hadn't felt safe for so long he could barely remember the sensation.
"You're not a child," he told himself sharply, pushing the wistful, babyish desire to be held to the back of his mind. "You don't need anyone to coddle you. And even if you did, that someone would not be Finn Hudson." The problem was, though, that he was beginning to wonder if all of that was entirely true...
He sighed deeply, still sitting cross-legged on the bathroom floor, and wishing the right people were there. He would have given anything to have his father home and ready to help him deal with the situation. With his dad, Kurt felt like he could have given in to the need to climb into a friendly lap and just let out some of the frustration and fear that threatened to choke him...He swallowed hard, thinking of the people he wanted to see, and the image of his mother suddenly shot into his mind, accompanied by the faint memory of her singing to him in a foreign language, words and tune blurred by the passage of time. He wanted his mother suddenly and fiercely, and his eyes blurred with tears as he focused on the memory, drawing it around him like an old blanket.
"Mercedes, I don't know what I'm supposed to do," Finn said into the phone.
He glanced around the corner and peered into the living room. Kurt was curled up in the corner of the couch, watching television. That part wasn't so unusual. The problem was that Kurt was somehow, inexplicably tiny. Four years old, to be exact. Finn ducked back around the corner. "I mean, I want to take care of him, he's my brother, but…I don't really have a ton of…little kid experience. I mean, am I supposed to take him on potty breaks or something?"
"Okay, Finn, look, he's still Kurt," Mercedes said, sounding amused. "Not only can he handle going potty on his own, I think he would be highly offended if you said anything about it. And he'll probably be offended by the fact you're using the word 'potty'."
Finn rolled his eyes. "Not helping, Mercedes," he said.
"You've been doing fine so far," she said. "And to be honest, he's more okay with you than he is with most of us right now. Probably because you're the only family he's got right now."
A little thrill of pride ran through Finn. He liked that idea.
"I guess I'll try to put him down for a nap," he said. "It's about that time."
"Try to get him to wear himself out," Mercedes suggested. "Get him to run around or something."
"I'll try," Finn said. "Thanks."
He hung up the phone and slid it back in his pocket, then peeked back around the corner again. Kurt was still watching Project Runway, sitting cross-legged on the corner of the couch with his chin in his little hands. "Hey," Finn said, ambling into the living room.
"Hay's for horses," Kurt said idly.
Finn cleared his throat. "So I've got a Spanish test to study for, but it's like, really warm outside for December, so I thought I'd go to the park for a while," he said.
Kurt looked up at him. "And your point is?" he said, his childish voice high and lisping.
"My point is, I can't leave you here alone, so come on, let's go," Finn grinned.
Kurt dug his little fingers into the couch cushions. "Do I have to leave the house?" he said.
"Uh-huh, now get your shoes on," he said. Kurt sighed and slid off the couch. Finn grinned to himself at his success. This babysitting gig was so much easier than he thought.
Kurt returned after a few minutes with his feet jammed into an impossibly small pair of navy Keds. "You'll have to tie them," he said haughtily.
"I can handle that," Finn said. He knelt down to tie the white laces of Kurt's sneakers; Kurt put a little hand on Finn's shoulder to brace himself. "There you go."
"Thank you," Kurt said primly, tugging on the hem of the white long-sleeved henley he wore under his red Iron Man tee shirt.
Finn rummaged in his backpack for his battered Spanish textbook and picked up the keys to Kurt's Lincoln Navigator from the hook by the front door. "Okay, let's go," he said.
"Do you really have to drive my car?" Kurt sighed as he followed him into the driveway.
"Either that, or we can walk twelve blocks to the park," Finn suggested cheerfully. "Or I can ride my bicycle and you can sit on the handlebars, how does that sound?"
Kurt paled. "Car it is," he said, jumping to reach for the handle.
"I'm going to have to pick you up," Finn said.
Kurt sighed and took a step back. Finn opened the door to the backseat, then picked him up at arm's length, tucking his hands under Kurt's armpits. Kurt didn't protest as Finn set him in the carseat and buckled him in, but he didn't seem very happy about it either.
Finn shut the door and crossed to the driver's seat, bracing himself. When he thought about babysitting, he always thought the kid would be…you know. Happy. Kids like parks, right?
Kurt wasn't really an ordinary kid though.
He used to think about taking his own kid to the park, back when he thought he was going to be a dad. It seemed like a lot of fun- holding Drizzle's hand while she skipped over the pebbles of the playground, kissing her boo-boos when she scraped her knee on the wooden playscape equipment, pushing her on the swings while she shrieked, her blonde curls flying back in the breeze and her brown almond-shaped eyes squinching up in laughter.
Too bad that wouldn't ever happen.
Finn pulled into one of the parking spaces by the playground and parked. "Well, we're here," he said, falsely cheerful. He got out of the car and unbuckled Kurt. "I'm gonna be at that picnic table, okay? Don't wander off too far. I don't want you to get, I don't know, kidnapped or something."
"You watch too much Law and Order," Kurt grumbled under his breath as he shimmied out of Finn's grasp and trooped off towards the swings.
Finn gaped after him, suddenly imagining little Kurt like one of the poor dead kids on Law and Order, and forced himself to stop thinking about that. That was going to do him no good. He picked up his Spanish textbook instead and headed towards the picnic table.
Kurt stood by the swings, gazing up at them as if he had just reached child nirvana. Finn studied him over the pages of his textbook, waiting to see what would happen. He sort of hoped that Kurt would climb up onto one of them and ask for a push. That would be pretty cute.
But instead of clambering onto one of the rubber swings, Kurt headed over to the small grassy area beside the playground and laid down. Finn smiled to himself. He did that a lot as a kid too, sprawling out in the grass or in the dirt and staring up at the blue sky.
Then again, his mother wasn't so fond of that, because she was always telling him to stop staring at the sun or he'd ruin his eyesight. He was pretty sure he hadn't, because he was seventeen and still didn't need glasses, but it didn't seem like a good idea to throw that back at his mother.
Finn watched Kurt raise his small arms in the air, wiggling his fingers like he was trying to pull something closer. A lump rose unexpectedly in his throat. It almost looked like Kurt wanted to be picked up.
Finn quickly returned his attentions to his Spanish book. He shouldn't be getting choked up like this. He should be totally weirded out by the fact that his stepbrother had been turned into a four-year-old. Because number one, that really was the strangest thing he'd ever seen, and number two, because he was a dude, and dudes shouldn't be completely hung up on cuddling preschoolers, no matter how cute they were.
He glanced up again and smiled despite himself. Kurt was still lying on his back with his arms splayed out against the soft cool grass, his head tilting to the side. Looks like he fell asleep anyway, he thought.
Finn closed the book and hefted it over to the car, keeping an eye on Kurt the whole time. Once he had dumped the textbook in the passenger seat, he headed over to the little grassy area.
Sure enough, Kurt was fast asleep, his soft brown hair strewn over the grass and his little fingers curled. His lips were parted and his narrow chest rose and fell lightly as he breathed. Finn smiled. He really was awfully cute.
Carefully he tucked one arm under Kurt's shoulders and the other under his knees and lifted him up. The four-year-old felt frighteningly light in his arms. He had carried full-size Kurt before- also against his will- but carrying a child this tiny was almost unnerving. To be honest, he was sort of scared that he would drop him.
He stood there awkwardly for a moment, wondering how the hell he was supposed to balance the light but unwieldy weight of a sleeping toddler, and finally set his tiny stepbrother against his chest. Kurt leaned heavily on his shoulder, his cheek pressed against the crook of his neck. Finn absently patted his back as he carried him to the car.
Buckling Kurt in his carseat was sort of like nailing jello to a tree. Kurt slumped forward, making it hard to pull the restraint across his chest, and he whimpered as Finn tugged helplessly at the buckle. "Hey, hey, don't cry, buddy, you're okay," Finn soothed absently as he finally clicked the seatbelt into place.
He didn't turn on the radio as they drove home, not wanting to risk waking Kurt. Luckily he slept through the whole drive back to their house, breathing deeply with the occasional tiniest of baby snores. Finn resisted the urge to snicker.
He pulled into the garage, crossing his fingers that the sound of the door opening wouldn't wake the baby, and tiptoed around to the backseat. "Hey, little Kurt, don't wake up," he singsonged under his breath as he fumbled for the seatbelt. "Hey, little guy, it's okay, just keep sleeping."
He'd woken up teenage Kurt before, and that had never ended well. He didn't want to find out what the tiny rage of toddler Kurt could be like.
Thankfully, Kurt didn't wake up at all. Finn abandoned his Spanish textbook in the car and carried him into the house. "That's it," he murmured into Kurt's hair as he carried him down the basement stairs, his hand huge across Kurt's narrow back. "That's it, little buddy, stay asleep, just stay asleep."
He drew back the blankets of Kurt's soft bed and set him down. For a moment he hesitated, unsure of how exactly one went about putting a child down for a nap. Then he sat down carefully and unlaced Kurt's sneakers, prying them off carefully and setting them down beside the bed.
Gingerly he tugged off Kurt's tiny jeans and his red tee shirt, leaving him in his long-sleeved henley and his plaid boxer shorts, and tucked him in snugly till the satin comforter was smooth and only the top of his brown tousled head peeped out on the pillow.
Finn smiled, pleased at himself. "There you go," he said. "See, your big brother's got you. It's all good." He leaned over and clumsily kissed Kurt's plump rosy cheek. "Have a good nap, little guy."
He backed away slowly, watching the snug little lump under the covers and waiting a whole thirty seconds before raising his fists in a silent, victorious fist pump. This babysitting stuff was definitely super easy after all.
He muted the television and switched on the Xbox, figuring he'd earned a few rounds of Call of Duty, and plopped onto the couch with the controller in hand. Periodically he would glance over at his snoozing brother, and every time he looked, the little boy was still fast asleep.
He'd always wanted a little brother. He used to ask for one every Christmas, writing his letter to Santa in big scrawled misspelled words to please send another baby, preferably a boy baby because a sister would like dolls and bows and pink things, but a brother could play football and climb trees and make messes. His mother finally sat him down when he was nine years old, when that last boyfriend of hers took off with a bleach-blonde tramp. He remembered it clearly- Thanksgiving at his grandparents' condo in Fort Lauderdale, sitting at the tiny dining room table, his elbow nearly edging into the rest of his pumpkin pie.
"There's not going to be a baby brother, Finn," she'd said, resting her chin on her hand. "We can't have a baby brother without a daddy, and…there's not going to be a daddy. Okay? Why don't you ask for something else for Christmas this year. Maybe a football."
He'd asked her why there couldn't be a daddy, but she just shook her head and got up to help Grandma with the dishes. He sat there quietly, suddenly no longer hungry for his pumpkin pie. And he asked for a football that year.
Maybe he would have been a good big brother after all. His mind wandered as he mashed thoughtlessly at the controller. Yeah, he would have been a great big brother. He could've taught the little kid how to play baseball in their backyard, and how to win at Mario Kart, and how to make prank phone calls.
Maybe now that his mom was married, she could have one more baby. But no, she and Burt had to be too old for that.
He glanced at Kurt again, still sound asleep with his little hands curled into fists. Maybe Kurt would just…stay that way. Little and sweet and innocent. It would be like somebody pressed a reset button.
He could teach Kurt how to ride a bicycle and how to tie his shoes. He would go willingly to all of his dance recitals and plays and stuff. He could teach him how to throw a decent punch and make sure that he'd be safe at school and no one, absolutely no one, would threaten him or hurt him or even call him a fag, especially not in his own house.
Finn paused the game and tossed the controller down on the couch before crossing over to the bathroom. Two plastic cups sat on the edge of the sink, each clearly labeled with their names in Kurt's scratchy cursive; he picked up the one with his name, filled it with water, and took a long drink. He dumped the rest back down the drain, watching it swirl away, and headed back to his video game.
He glanced at Kurt's bed as he passed by only to find on the receiving end of a very groggy glare from a barely-awake Kurt. Finn grinned despite himself. "Good morning," he said. "It's, uh, a nice day, isn't it?"
Kurt just blinked sleepily at him. His eyes seemed bluer than usual, soft and hazy and unfocused, and he raised his arms like he wanted to be picked up.
Finn's heart constricted just a little. He took a hesitant step towards the bed, reaching out his hands.
Kurt's eyes suddenly shifted from soft blue to sharp green in a single blink, and with a startled, strangled yelp he threw himself off the bed, tangling the sheets and blankets, and ran for the bathroom. The door slammed shut and the lock clicked in place.
Finn swallowed hard.
The house was so silent he could hear Kurt's panicked breathing echoing in the bathroom. Finn crept a little closer, trying his hardest to keep his steps quiet.
"…not a child," he heard Kurt mumble to himself in his soft high voice. He sounded so young, but so bitter, his lisp thicker than usual. "You don't need anyone to coddle you. And even if you did, that someone would not be Finn Hudson."
Finn's heart broke.
He knew Kurt didn't like going to other people with his problems. He even saw how Kurt worshiped his dad, and yet he couldn't even tell Burt what was going on with him. This whole past year he'd stood by awkwardly, knowing that Kurt was going through hell but that there was nothing, absolutely nothing he could do to fix it or help or even just…just be there for his stepbrother.
And now all this…this weird stuff was going on, and he couldn't explain it, and either Kurt couldn't or he wouldn't, and Kurt was a kid, just a little kid, and there was nothing he could do at all.
He suddenly wished his parents were home to take over so he didn't have to worry about it anymore. Kurt didn't want him. There was nothing he could do.
He heard Kurt start to cry softly.
Without thinking, Finn jostled the locked handle of the bathroom door. "Kurt? You wanna let me in?" he ventured.
Kurt didn't answer. He tugged on the handle to no avail and dropped his hand helplessly. "Are you okay?" he asked.
Finn took a step back, running a hand through his hair as he rummaged frantically for some kind of plan. If this was teenage Kurt, he'd probably just go back to his video game, keep an eye on the door, wait for him to come out and see for himself that he was okay.
But Kurt was four. Well, a teenager a four year old's body. What was he supposed to do?
He could still hear Kurt crying, the sound building, spiraling higher. Finn clenched his jaw. That wasn't the sound of a teenager crying. That was a child crying.
How am I supposed to make a crying little kid feel better? he thought.
He dropped his head back, staring up at the ceiling, thinking back to his own vague childhood memories and the things his mother did to comfort him. And then he started running through the scattered handful of stories he'd heard from Burt about when Kurt was little.
And then it dawned on him, like the sun coming up over the horizon. He had a plan.
Finn pressed his hand to the bathroom door and opened his mouth in an attempt to say something comforting, then thought better of it and ran up the stairs. He took the steps two at a time, careening around the corner and running to the master bedroom.
He'd seen the boxes when he and his mother had moved into the Hummel house. Burt had just moved them aside to make room for Carole's belongings, dismissing it with an "oh, it's just some of Kurt's baby things his mom saved." Thank God he actually remembered something for once in his life.
He threw the closet doors open, dragged out a large clear plastic bin, and ripped off the white lid. Inside were neatly folded baby onesies, faded plush toys, a pair of impossibly small and still shiny patent leather shoes. He didn't have to dig very far, though, before his fingers closed on the object he was looking for. He stood up, shaking the blue and yellow quilt free of wrinkles, and bolted back down the stairs, leaving the box in disarray.
Kurt was still crying when he got back, the sound soft and faint but still there. Finn smoothed out the quilt Kurt's mother had made; it smelled fresh and clean like it had been packed away in dryer sheets. "Hey, Kurt," he said, kneeling by the door. "Hey, it's me. You wanna come out?"
Kurt ignored him.
Finn bit his lip. "Hey, it's gonna be okay," he coaxed. "I've got something for you. We can go watch a movie, anything you want to watch, and I'll make…I'll get Mercedes to come over and make dinner, okay?"
Kurt's muffled crying kept on, faint but steady. At his wit's end, Finn took the corner of the blanket- the one embroidered with his name and birthday in his mother's charmingly crooked stitches- and stuck it under the crack of the door. "Kurt, come on," he said desperately. "Come out of the bathroom, please."
There was a slight pause. Then the blanket started to disappear under the door, until the fabric bunched and jammed. Kurt began to cry in earnest, a high-pitched wail. "Come on, Kurt, just unlock the door," Finn begged.
The lock clicked. Finn had just enough time to pull the blanket free and open his arms before Kurt pulled the door open and hurtled into him. Suddenly Finn found himself with a lapful of sobbing preschooler.
"Hey, hey, don't cry," Finn stammered. Kurt had his arms locked around his neck like a vise and his face buried into his shoulder. Finn draped the quilt around him gently. "It's going to be okay. I promise."
"No, it's not," Kurt sobbed. "They're going to get me. They won't let me go. I'll never be safe. Never."
Finn's arms tightened involuntarily. "Whoa, whoa, little guy, who's going to get you?" he asked. "Is somebody trying to hurt you or something?"
But Kurt could only cry, burrowing between the safety of Finn's arms and the warmth of his childhood blanket. Finn hugged him tightly, rubbing his tiny back up and down. "I'm sorry," he whispered, setting his chin against the top of Kurt's head. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."
He couldn't explain beyond that. He wanted to tell Kurt that he was sorry for everything- sorry that this happened, sorry that he couldn't save him, sorry he couldn't protect him from cruel words or locker slams or dumpster dives, sorry that he had to live in a world where people call him names in the safety of his own home. But he couldn't put it into words.
Finn sank back against the doorframe, knees drawn up, Kurt cradled against his chest as he whispered apologies into his soft tousled hair. Gradually Kurt's sobs died down to faint hiccups and he drew back, rubbing his eyes with his knuckles. His whole face was red and blotchy, sticky with tear tracks. The blanket was still tucked around his shoulders like a cape, and Finn could see the indecisiveness in his expression, his eyes flickering from blue to green and back. "I didn't mean to cry," he said in a thick voice.
Finn picked him up without a word, carried him into the bathroom, and set him on the counter. Silently he pulled a clean washcloth out of the cabinet and ran it under cold water. Kurt watched him, wide-eyed.
Finn carefully scrubbed Kurt's face clean, wiping away any signs of tears. Kurt just watched him, eyes sharp and green. "It's okay if you freak out," Finn said as he washed the tearstains away. "I'd be freaking out if I was you. And I'm going to try to take care of you. But you've gotta let me protect you, okay?"
"Nobody can protect me," Kurt said bitterly.
Finn dropped the washcloth in the sink, taken aback. Kurt dropped his head. He looked so pathetically so small sitting there on the bathroom counter, his long-sleeved shirt tucked up around his tiny belly and his little knobby knees going goosebumped in the cold and his small socked feet swinging dejectedly against the cabinet.
Finn planted one hand on either side of the counter and leaned his forehead against Kurt's, forcing the child to look him in the eyes. "I'm going to try to keep you safe, okay?" he said. "But you gotta let me try. And you've gotta talk to me. Please?"
Kurt shrugged uncertainly, his eyes sharpening to a bright green. "I'm going to call Mercedes," he said wearily, shimmying down from the counter. Finn picked him up and set him on his feet. "Maybe she can make us dinner or something. I'd do it myself, but…"
Kurt sighed heavily and wandered out of the bathroom, small and dejected. Finn picked up the washcloth and wrung it out till his knuckles turned white. He tossed it in the shower, letting it fall on the floor with a soft disappointing squelch.
"Finn?" He glanced towards the doorway. Kurt stood there with his blanket folded over his arms, his eyes round and blue. "Thanks," he whispered.
Finn smiled. "It's all good," he said.
I just wish I knew how to protect you, he thought, but he kept that to himself, choosing to just brush his fingers through Kurt's hair instead. Kurt grabbed onto the hem of his shirt, tiny fingers tangled in the worn cotton, and held on tight.
SO THIS IS FOR MY LOVELY KIVRIN, WHOM I ADORE.
Seriously. Her "All Strange Wonders" verse is my all-time favorite Glee 'verse. I read Course Corrections all in one sitting, but with two chapters left to go, and let me tell you, waiting for those chapters was some of the most awful waiting I've ever done. Morning Shows the Day is absolutely amazing- sweet and suspenseful all at once, and of course the adorable factor is off the charts, since Kurt is four years old for most of it. And now she's working on the final story in the trilogy, Ten Thousand Remembrances, which I'm terribly excited about (and not just because she's borrowing my Lucy for it!). Seriously. Go check out her work. It's amazing.
Plus, I just love her. We actually spent last Thursday together auditioning for the Glee Project, and it was so much fun. She's probably one of the sweetest people in the fandom.
But yeah! This was fun to write. Finn angst, and tiny baby Kurt needing hugs and kisses and cuddles...that's a win in my book!