Title: Make It In This Land (2A/6)
Word Count: ~2,800 this chapter
Characters: Kurt/Blaine, Santana/Brittany, Finn/Rachel (both future and present!) and cameos... and of course Rory!
Warnings: AU (kind of) with touches of canon. Cracky (and hopefully heart warming) ridiculousness. Time travel.
Summary: What if Brittany was a future scientific time travelling genius? What if Kurt and Blaine had adopted a young Irish boy in a Children's Home in America? What if that boy was Auntie Brittany's favourite? What if one day he walked the halls of McKinley High circa 2011?
Still the crackiest and most ridiculous thing I shall ever write. Pot 'O Gold is the main canon we have for Rory so it's going to take a little while to get through it for it all to make sense which is why this chapter is in 2 parts to complete that. After that, it'll all follow the main events in canon but it'll all be brand new to this story and plenty of K/B - I can't wait. Dodgeball killed me to write.
An enormous thank you to canuckpagali who truly does get rid of my silly mistakes, seriously British ways and who is a truly brilliant beta. Also, to all of you whohave responded so kindly to this story and waited patiently for this - I've had spotty internet and a lot on my plate. I promise a much quicker turn over for the rest ;)
FYI:There's a tense change for the remainder of this story due to the fact I didn't predict there'd be that much of a difficult distinguishing between the past and present. This makes it easier and I'll go back and change the rest later : )
He's seen Back to the Future and, god knows, it's the coolest movie in the world. But having the weight of the world or, to be precise the weight of the future on his shoulders is terrifying. He has no connections – not really. Nobody owes him anything in this time.
While , in some ways, that idea is enough to spark thoughts of throwing himself under the school bus, it's also pretty great. Being so free of baggage and commitments means that he can just live. Nobody needs him for anything and so, sitting alone in a darkened class room sorting through a box of Lucky Charms while other poor miserable-looking students plough through Trig problems, is bliss.
As the amount of marshmallows begins to outweigh the rest of the contents of the box, there's a presence in the room.
As if by magic or, some secret time travel law that says you must bump into your own relatives and completely alter the course of time and history, Rory blinks rapidly rising out of his chair like a marionette puppet on steady strings. He's staring, wide eyed with his mind fuzzy from the shock because it can't be real. It just can't.
He can hear himself, almost out of breath with awe. His uncle, whom he knows as an older guy is standing straight in front of him with an uncomfortable smile and a distinct sense of awkwardness. He's asking questions and it's as if someone has pressed fast forward. Rory knows he's speaking, knows his mouth is moving and whole sentences are coming out before his brain has a chance to catch up. The stress is coursing over his whole body and it's like being in midday sun – hot and hard to focus.
Flanagan. It's his mother's name. It makes sense, the authenticity of it ringing true and feeling so natural on his tongue. There's a niggling realisation that it's the first time he hasn't used his real name. Hummel-Anderson is his true identity but it hardly screams Irish, plus even the densest of minds – like his Uncle's – could work out the connection from that surname alone. Oh god, the thought of Finn attempting to plough through the mine-field of time travel...
It's almost worth the inevitable hilarity.
As soon as the words are out, though, it starts to feel good – fine, even.
Finn's so adolescent. In hindsight, he's still a lummox – as Carole always called him – and a giant – as Blaine always referred to him – but his face is smooth, crease free but, still present, is his trademark lopsided grin and vacant expression and it's amazing.
It's what makes Rory take a deep breath, returning to his task. He has to be natural, cool even. It's hard to focus, hard to keep picking bloomin' marshmallows out of cereal bits. Whoever decided that thisis his life needs their brain scanned - immediately.
It's one thing to be tens of years in the past before he was even a glint in his father's eye - whoever the devil he is - but to be sorting through cereal in an abandoned classroom with his much youthful Uncle as his teenage parents are currently no doubt trying to stay awake in class... well it's like a bad made-for-TV movie.
He can't pull off Marty McFly's awesome ways.
It's notmake believe. It's reality and, with that thought, he blinks up and smiles as Finn Hudson is looking between him and the table in deep rooted confusion.
That's when it all becomes easy. It spills out effortlessly and he's suddenly and expertly lying as if it's his job. In a way, much of it is true, some if it is a bent version of the truth, and the rest is inserted purely because it's Uncle Finn. The NASCAR, the Victoria's Secret, the casual mention of the kiss at Nationals. It's all falling so freely from his tongue and, jesus, Uncle Finn looks as if he's about to self combust from the confusion but it's with those three words - "cool, me too" - that everything feels right. It's like nothing he's ever experienced because although Uncle Finn is still very much lacking in common sense and his dad - Kurt - finds it impossible to resist a cautionary eye roll whenever they're together, Finn is also so so kind. He's the coolest Uncle a kid could ask for because he remembers only too well what it's like to be young and useless, how much things hurt, and how easy it is to make mistake without really meaning to. His dads are amazing but they're also so good at being grown up. They're the right side of serious with a perfect injection of warm and fun and, at times, spontaneous.
Uncle Finn, though, is just a big kid and always, alwayswill be.
That's why Rory feels his entire body sing with happiness when Finn agrees to be friends. He knew it. Of course Uncle Finn would recognise the loser in him, would find a common ground in just how lost Rory feels. He doesn't have any friends, unless he counts Britt and, well, he'd like to be a little more than that if he's honest. For that reason, he spills it out, rambling because Finn does too. They talk about guy stuff and there's no awkward moment where the conversation freezes and inner monologues scream for silence.
"It's a pretty old brochure, dude," Finn says, half smiling at the revelation that Rory's lonely. It's true in a lot of ways. He has nobody and sitting directly in front of him is the one person he needs now, more than ever. It's the 'dude' though, the very same affectionate term Uncle Finn uses – in the future – at the end of most - no all - sentences. Rory smiles, his skin flushing warm with familiarity.
There's a twang of self awareness but only for a moment . Finn's eyes widen dramatically, his 'rabbit in headlights' expression only momentary because there's talk of snogging and virginity and then, because Rory knows he has one shot and one shot only, he asks for a friend and the slow moving cogs in Finn's brain ease into action. The hesitation stings for a second because if his own family can't stick by him and be his guiding light then who will?
Rory waits, fingers moving of their own accord from the table to the cereal box then back again, and hopes.
"Ok. I'll be your friend," Finn agrees eventually, a tiny smile spreading across his mouth, smooth and almost knowing.
It's still a shock to hear it but it's a bright and shining second of gratitude for a boy - who is, for all intent and purposes, a stranger - to agree to be friends with a pretty forward kid fishing marshmallows from a cereal box.
That's Uncle Finn though - he's a good guy under it all.
"You're staying at Britt's house, right?"
Rory nods, unsure where the query is headed. Of course, the Glee Club are all a big group and spend countless hours a week together. He's spent most of his life hearing stories of their time together and feeling so achingly jealous, so desperate to have that too.
Aunt Rachel has cuddled him, pressing him close to her heart, and whispered that finding a place to belong was the cornerstone to life and true happiness. She hadn't specified performing, though, as he's not the world's most talented dancer or actor but finding a niche in the world was her most outstanding skill. She'd sought it out her whole life and his dads often took him to see her shows, Kurt wiping secretly at his eyes whenever she hit a high note.
He's wished for that for a long time. He sucks at sport, hates math, cringes at the thought of science club and hasn't ever found a talent for art. But he likes to write sometimes; he's spent his entire life singing and he has an impressive stack of library of books so there are things he has a passion for, not to mention his love of history and travel, not to mention teenage girls in all of their fine glory. He has always wanted to learn a new language. There are times when his dad – Blaine – will spend a few hours teaching him cool Latin phrases, which he has used on many an unsuspecting young lady but it never works. He always means to ask Kurt to teach him some French but the purpose of wooing would be far too obvious so he's never plucked up the courage.
Parents just don't need to know that kind of thing.
Finn's clearly got an agenda. It seems that there's defections within the club, people threatening to leave and Brittany seems to be part of it but it's hardly an option to disagree to Finn's terms. He'll do anything to stay by his side and call him a friend so he nods with firm agreement.
As Finn stands to leave, it's a lot like desperation flooding through his veins, forcing him to speak and make it all last a little longer. It's too tempting but it's their running joke - the one even future Uncle Finn hasn't yet figured out is a jab at his cluelessness.
"Finn Hudson. That's Irish, right?"
"Nah. Nah, my Ma's from Toledo." Just like that it's the world's most impossible task to keep a straight face as his lips spread into an enormous smile. He has a friend and he's going to be ok.
It's too tempting to sneak a peek into the library at lunch. They don't have to see him but there's that niggling desperation deep inside of him that yearns to see them. It's the comfort blanket he needs to keep him going because, god knows why he's still here and how he's going to get back. The car's hidden, of course – he'd learned at least something from Marty McFly – but Auntie Britt hadn't exactly given him a crash course in travelling home. As far as he was concerned, they were playing one of her whimsical games.
It hits home especially hard when he peeks around the stacks to find his parents - his very young and in love parents - leaning against one another at a computer desk buried in the far corner of the library. It's a sight he's used to, one they adopt when they're discussing something or having a 'parental' moment but as Blaine's fingers walk along Kurt's arm in over-exaggerated slow motion, they suddenly don't seem at all parental.
"Blaine!" Kurt hisses, his face betraying him instantly with a gleeful smirk. "We're not in your room now! We're in the middle of school. You know? The same school that practically patented the art of dumpster tossing."
"Hey," Blaine soothes, hand now coming to rest gently against Kurt's arm, "it's just nice to spend time together. That's all."
There's a moment of brief silence but Kurt sighs and turns his head with a soft smile. "I know," he says with a voice so affectionate that Rory can feel himself clinging to the book shelf. He's been the recipient of that tone, the one that his dad – Kurt – uses when he's being reassuring and comforting. It brings back memories of scraped knees, lost friendships and that horrible period where nobody at school had the decency to talk to him. Having very few companions was tough but he was the odd one out; he was the guy nobody picked for football teams and he'd always been exempt from almost every club available.
He'd never had a place, not like the kind Aunt Rachel had spoken about. He'd always been so envious of what they'd all shared together at school no matter how dramatic it all seemed – he wanted that. All of it.
"So. How are we going to get these all printed up?"
Kurt's expression is smug and knowing as he purses his lips cleverly. "I happen to be on rather good terms with the librarian. She positively adored our performance of MC Hammer's infamous hit last year so I have a feeling it'll only take some genial eyelash fluttering and a little compliment from my extremely charming boyfriend and we'll be set."
Blaine laughs; his eyes are so young. In the future, they're still so deep and full of his trademark sincerity but they positively sparkle when they are directed at Kurt. It's clearly because it's all still so new for them.
Rory wonders, as his dads pack up and head for the librarian's desk, how long they've been together and exactly what they've been through. He can remember a lot of their stories but the timeline is vague.
A pang of excitement is the catalyst to allow him to peel his fingers from the shelf and head out to find Britt. He has a box filled entirely with marshmallows and the promise of yet another kiss.
There's a moment when he comes painfully close to turning catatonic with shock.
He's rounding the corner after another of the truly inventive school bullies decides to shout 'Danny Boy' and launch him into a near-by locker when he hears it.
It's a voice that he has grown to love with all of his heart.
"He's in his room," Kurt calls down the stairs as the wind chime they'd bought as a family from a market on vacation, tinkles a melody, signalling that the front door has opened.
"He all set?" comes the voice from downstairs. It's the voice Rory has spent the past three days desperately waiting to hear; the excitement is now almost difficult to bear.
"I'm as set as a set person who is very, very set!" Rory calls back, answering the question himself. He bounds to the head of the stairs with a smile he knows could potentially split his face.
"Hey," Kurt warns, appearing from his workspace with raised eyebrows and threads covering his overalls, "now I'm warning both of you right now. If anyone comes back with so much as a scrape, you'll have me to deal with and you both know what I'm talking about. Be good. Be careful." He presses a warm hand to Rory's chest and it's like being cuddled and chastised all at once.
"Dad," he sighs, frowning, "we're going fishing. It's hardly dangerous. Anyway, we're always careful, right Grandpa?"
As if on cue, Burt rounds the corner, rolling his eyes. "Kid, I know my son and you may as well quit while you're ahead. Just nod," Rory obeys, tinkering on the edge of laughter at Kurt's indignant smirk, "smile and grab your bag 'cause I left the keys in the car."
"Ok. I want you to find a signal when you get there to let me know you arrived safely. I want a text or two during the trip so Blaine can fall asleep instead of pacing the floor, wondering if you've slipped on a mossy rock or drowned and are tangled in the weeds." He looks pointedly at Burt before continuing. "I don't want to know what you consume because no matter what it is, I'll never approve and Rory, I need you to use that plastic bag I put in your backpack for dirty wet clothes. Put them alongside the one good shirt you're taking and I'll go psycho dad on you. Am I clear?"
Burt laughs first, shaking his head. "I created a monster."
"Crystal clear," Rory deadpans, fighting a smile. "Maybe I can bring a souvenir back for you?"
A softness drifts into Kurt's expression, his smile melted and warm. "Bring your Dad back an odd shaped rock or something to add to his collection. You know how he gets about sappy things like that."
"That's your box of special things. You told Dad you started it way back in high school."
"Ok. Enough of being too smart for your own good," Kurt smirks, huffing out his exasperation. "Go. Both of you and remember what I said."
As Rory reaches the bottom of the stairs, he grins as wide as physically possible towards the best Grandpa in the world. No research or data is required to decide upon that fact because Burt Hummel would win that award hands down and could do so with his eyes shut. For goodness sake, he's spent years winning over the voters' hearts and he has never taken any of them on annual fishing trips.
Rory can't help but laugh, still dragging his bag behind him, as Burt tugs at his shoulder and ruffles his hair much like he would a dog. "Come on kid, let's hit the road."
"Bye, Dad!" he calls because he has spent years witnessing Kurt's forlorn face, the same one he tries to pretend doesn't exist. There is no time for a reply as the door closes with a click and he's off for a week long forest adventure full of endless bags of marshmallows, dunked heads in algae-laced river water and a whole new list of secretly learned curse words.