It Pales in Comparison
Kurt's living the dream. He has a great job, a beautiful daughter, a high-end apartment in Manhattan. Only one element of his life haunts him. When Kurt meets Blaine, he discovers that there is always someone who has worse problems than you.
"Daddy, I want that one!"
"Jennie, I said no and that's final." Kurt said. The little girl hunched over, sticking out her bottom lip. Kurt grabbed a carton of apple juice from the shelves, holding it out.
"What's wrong with this apple juice?"
"It doesn't have the pretty pictures on it."
"Jennie, it's still apple juice whether it has a zebra on it or not. Besides, this one's on sale." Kurt dropped the bottle of apple juice into the shopping cart, tapping his daughter on the nose and continuing down the aisle. Jennifer giggled, and then gasped.
"Daddy, Fruit Loops are on sale!"
"They're always on sale, Jen. That's how they get you to buy them."
"But Daddy! Fruit Loops are da- dalish- da-"
"Delicious! Fruit Loops are delicious!" Kurt rolled his eyes and tossed a carton of eggs into the cart.
"And how would you know?"
"I had them at Lisa's house last Saturday. Her Mommy was going to make pancakes, but they were out of blueberries, so she went to the store. But me and Lisa got hungry when we were waiting so we poureded-"
"Our own bowls of cereal. It was fun. I got to pour the milk by myself and everything." Kurt pushed the cart up to a check-out counter, unloading the contents onto the conveyor belt. Jennifer jumped up and down, tugging on Kurt's shirt.
"Can I help, Daddy?"
"Can you reach inside the basket?" Jen looked down at her shoes, rocking back and forth on her heels.
"No…" Kurt smiled, lifting the girl up onto his hip. He grabbed a can of tomato paste, handing it to his daughter so she could put it on the conveyor belt. The two continued this pattern, Kurt handing Jen an item, and the girl putting it on the counter to be checked out. Sure, it took a little longer than usual, but hey- it was well needed bonding time. Kurt set down the girl, paying for the groceries.
The two walked out to the car. Jennifer jumped around her Daddy as he loaded the food inside. Kurt closed the trunk and buckled Jen into her car seat, walking around to the driver's side in the front and starting home.
"Daddy, when is Papa coming home?" Kurt brought the car to a sudden halt. The man in the truck behind him blared his horn angrily. Kurt pulled over to the side of the road, parking the car and closing his eyes.
"Baby," he hesitated. "Papa's not coming home." Jennifer frowned.
"Why not?" Kurt unbuckled, climbing into the backseat. He grabbed his daughter's hands, looking straight into her eyes.
"Jennie, Papa did some… Bad things to Daddy. So we went to court last week, and I decided that he wasn't going to be around us anymore."
"So, I won't get to see him anymore?" Her eyes started to fill with tears. Kurt sighed, brushing a lock of hair off of her forehead.
"No, Jennie. Your Papa and I are getting a divorce. We're not going to be married anymore, and my last name is going to change from Hummel-Parkson to just Hummel."
"Daddy, you're crying." She frowned, bringing one of her pudgy five year old hands up to her Daddy's cheek, wiping away a tear. Kurt took a deep breath, putting his hands on his hips and faking a bright mood again. It was something he had learned to do throughout his high school and young adult years. Smile, widen your eyes, and think of the cheesiest super bowl commercial you've ever seen. And God knows, with Burt as his dad and Finn as his brother, he had seen a lot of cheesy Super Bowl commercials.
"All right, baby. Let's get driving, shall we? We have to get home before that frozen yogurt melts." Kurt started to stand, about to climb back into the front of the car when he saw it. His instincts took over. He fumbled to get Jennifer unbuckled, yanking her out of the car seat and away from the door. He curled around, wrapping her up inside himself as best as he could.
"Daddy, what are you-" the silver Prius slammed into their car, sending it off the shoulder of the highway and into the ditch. Kurt braced himself against the back of the passenger seat. The five year old screamed. Just as quickly as it had happened, it ended. The car landed with a jerk. Clouds of smoke surrounded the car and flooded through the broken windows. Kurt lifted his head, a shower of glass raining from his hair.
"Are you okay, baby?" Jennifer coughed, wheezing and trying to catch a breath. Kurt cussed under his breath, kicking open the door and scooping her up. A sharp pain shot through his left arm, bent at a gruesome angle from where he held it against the back of the front seat.
With one arm, Kurt carried the girl, depositing her in the grass away from the wreckage. He ran back to the car, grabbing Jennifer's inhaler from the glove compartment. He gave his daughter the inhaler, watching her take a couple of breaths from it.
"Jennie? Are you hurt anywhere?" The girl shook her head, sitting up. "Okay, I want you to stay right here. I'm going to go see if the man that hit us is okay." Kurt signaled over a woman who had pulled over and was calling 9-1-1. "Watch her, please?" he asked. The woman nodded. Kurt rubbed at his arm lightly as he ran, wincing at the pain.
Oh shit. The vehicle was completely wrecked, each side of the Prius was dented and charred with broken windows. With a pause, Kurt realized that the car had rolled down the ditch.
Kurt threw open the driver's door, taking in the sight of the bloody man hunched over the steering wheel. He noticed the children's book wedged underneath the brake pedal. His panicked gaze moved to the back of the car, looking for a small child.
Sure enough, a bald little girl no older than four was screaming in her car seat. Blood was leaking from several deep gashes on the side of her face, and her right arm was quickly turning several shades of black and purple. Kurt cussed, scrambling around the car to help the little girl. He pried open the door, bending down to eye-level with the child.
"Are you okay, sweetheart?" A voice moaned from the front of the vehicle.
"She's deaf." Kurt glanced up.
"She is?" The man nodded.
"Just… get her out." Kurt unbuckled and picked up the girl.
"Does she have any allergies, healthy problems?" This guy was not going to be conscious when the paramedics arrived.
"Deaf, penicillin allergy, leukemia." He muttered, gasping between breaths. Kurt frowned, but one-handedly took the girl over to where Jennie was sitting. He set her down, and almost instantly Jennie was attempting to befriend her.
"Hi! I'm Jennie! What's your name? Are you okay? That was scary, wasn't it? Oh, you're bleeding! Do you need a bandai-" Kurt cut her off.
"Not right now, Jennifer." Emergency vehicles made their presence known in the distance. They sped down the highway, pulling over. A paramedic sprinted over to Kurt and the girls.
"Is everyone alright?" Jennie, who was completely fine now that she could breathe, was as hyper as ever.
"I'm okay! Why are ambulance lights red, white, and blue? Does the president make you do that, you know, for America colors?" Kurt shot the girl a scolding look.
"Not now, Jen." He looked up at the paramedic. "I think I've got a broken arm, but I'll be fine. I'm worried about this girl." He lightly rubbed the small child's back, being careful not to cause any pain.
"Is she your daughter?"
"Uh, no. She's the guy in the other car's daughter. He asked me to get her out of the car."
"What's her name?" Kurt blinked.
"I- I don't know. She's deaf. All I know is that she has a penicillin allergy and leukemia." The man scribbled something onto his notepad, grabbing the radio transmitter at his waist. He pressed the button and started talking.
"Yeah, we need another ambulance. And if we could get someone who can speak ASL, that would be great." He turned back to the 25 year old. "You gonna be all right?" Kurt nodded.
"I'll call someone to get me to the hospital." The man muttered an affirmative, moving his attention to the little girl. Kurt stood, grabbing his daughter's hand. He pulled his phone from his pocket and dialed a number.
"'Rachel?" he asked, his voice shaking. "I need your help."
"You sure you don't want me to drive you home?" Kurt thought for a moment.
"Can Jennie stay at your apartment for the night?" Rachel nodded, pecking Kurt on the cheek.
"Of course. I'll take her home and get her a change of clothes." Kurt nodded, handing the woman his keys. "You staying here?" Kurt shrugged.
"Yeah, I have a couple things to take care of." Rachel smiled.
"Call me when you need a pick-up, got it? I've got everything taken care of; I called your office and told them you wouldn't be at work tomorrow."
"Could you call the school, too? Contact information is on the calendar in the kitchen." He bent down, scruffling Jennie's hair with his hand. "Cause this little sugar-pumpkin isn't going to school tomorrow. Happy about that, baby?" Jennifer nodded. "Come on, gimme a hug before you go to Aunt Rae's house." Kurt wrapped his one good arm around the girl, hugging her lightly. "Hug-"
The girl pecked her Daddy on the cheek. "Kiss-" The two smiled, coming together again.
"Big squeeze!" They said together, squeezing each other tightly in another hug. Kurt stood, waving the girls goodbye before sinking into one of the stiff plastic waiting room chairs.
He hated hospitals.
The first thing he did in the morning, after waking up in the waiting room with a seriously sore back, was call Rachel and ask how Jennie slept last night. The next thing he did? Well, he had to talk to someone.
Kurt knocked on the door.
"Hey, uh, could I come in?" the man on the hospital bed nodded. Kurt took a couple of steps in, taking in the sight. The guy that had hit him and Jennie was covered in purple and blue bruises, with tiny scabbed-over cuts all over his body. There was a bandage wrapped around the left side of his face. In fact, it seemed as if the entire left of his body was bruised and broken. His right eye was black and swollen shut, his left covered by the white bandaging. "How are you?" Kurt asked hesitantly.
"Everything hurts." Silence. "I feel really awkward asking this, but do I know you?" Kurt sat in a chair to the right of the bed.
"Uh, not exactly. You were the one that hit me." The man gasped, trying to sit up.
"Oh god, I'm so sorry! Are you okay? Did you get hurt?" He gave up after a moment, sinking back into his pillow with a sigh.
"It's fine, really. A broken arm, but that's it."
"I promise, I'll find a way to take care of the medical bill. And I'll pay for any repairs on your car; I'll get another job or something. Just, oh god, please don't press charges or anything like that." His speech got faster and faster. "I wasn't drunk or anything, my brake pedal got jammed. I-" Kurt cut him off.
"Blaine." Kurt took mental note of the name. "Don't worry about it, okay? I can take care of my own bills. And I'm not pressing charges." Blaine started shaking. Kurt was about to hit the nurse call button, but the tears leaking from his swollen eye stopped him.
Blaine was crying.
Kurt blinked, taking Blaine's hand without hesitation.
"Hey, what's wrong?"
"It- It's just, why are you being so nice? I could have killed you!" Kurt squeezed the man's hand.
"Like I said, don't worry about it. Here-" he scribbled his number on a scrap piece of paper, closing it in Blaine's hand. "If you need anything, even if it's at 2 o'clock in the morning, call me. Like, if you need someone to drive you and your daughter home when you get out of here." Blaine nodded, setting the slip of paper beside him.
"What's your name?"
"Kurt. Kurt Hummel." The two sat in silence for a moment. "Your hair is curly." Blaine's eyebrows furrowed, but he started laughing. Kurt smiled, but things went serious again when the man's laughter was brought to a painful stop. What felt like an electric shock ran through Blaine's rib, leaving him in a coughing fit. "Sorry! Sorry…"
"I'm okay. It's just- where did that come from?"
"Cerena's hair is curly." Blaine said. He paused, sensing Kurt's confusion. "My daughter. Or, at least, it was curly. But it was blonde, like her mom's."
"Are you married? Girlfriend?"
"Uh, no. I'm gay." Kurt wrinkled his eyebrows. "I went through a phase of denial when I was sixteen. Slept with the first girl that offered. I think I was hoping that her 'girly parts' would turn me straight again. She called me up a month later saying she was pregnant." Kurt's eyes widened.
"That makes you, like…"
"Twenty. How old are you?"
"Twenty-five." It was so easy to talk to Blaine. Their conversation was so casual, considering that they were both almost killed yesterday. The door burst open, and a nurse came in.
"Mr. Anderson? We need to transfer Cerena to the children's hospital."
"What? What's going on?"
"It's nothing major, she just needs her doctors to work with her. She needs special care with her injuries."
"Injuries?" Blaine yelled, trying to sit up in his bed. Kurt grabbed his hand, holding it fastened to the sheets to tell him to stay lying down.
"Just a lot of bruising and cuts." She said. "We have the careflight helicopter ready, all we need is parental permission."
"But- I can't go- I'm-"
"She knows. She's being really brave about it, if that makes any difference." The woman glanced at her clipboard. "We also need an emergency contact." The heart monitor above Blaine's head started to speed up.
"But- I- I don't- there's no one here! All my family is in Ohio!" Kurt blinked. Ohio?
"Any friends, coworkers?" The nurse asked. "We just need someone that could drive up in case something happens."
"No, I don't-" Kurt cut him off.
"I'll do it."
"No, you've already done so much for me-"
"Oh, yeah, I've offered to pay my own bills, that's just so much." He grabbed the clipboard from the nurse, filling out the information. He handed it back, and with final permission from Blaine, the woman left. Blaine bit his lip.
"It is a lot, you don't know how much it means to me. I already have to pay Bill back for the damage on the Prius, and now I have this plus the chemo bills and…" he trailed off, sighing. "Just, thank you."
"It's no problem, really." He looked at his hands. "Your family is in Ohio?"
"Yeah, I used to live there." Kurt smiled weakly.
"Westerville." Kurt raised his eyebrows.
"I lived in Lima."
"Yea-" A ringing phone cut him off. Kurt dug through his pockets, pulling out his cell. "That's my ride. I have to go." He hit the end call button, knowing that Mercedes would still be outside. Blaine smiled.
"You really have to stop saying that."
"And why would that be?"
"Because if we're going to be friends after this, I can't have you thanking me every five minutes." Kurt kicked himself in the shin. Friends? Really, Hummel? Anyone ever told you to think before you speak? Oh god, now he thinks you're creepy, doesn't he? Well there goes any possible-
"Yeah, uh, I mean, uh, if you don't-"
"I'd like that."
"Really?" The curly haired man smiled.
"Yeah. I really would." Kurt smiled.
"Is he hot?"
"It's a simple yes or no question!"
"Jennie is in the car!"He hissed, glancing into the back seat. Jennifer, thankfully, had her earbuds in her ears, listening to her iPod.
"Oh my god. It's not like we're talking about sex or anyth-"
"Sshhhh!" he said, clamping a hand over Rachel's mouth. "I don't care. I will not have my daughter coming home and telling me about all the 'hot' boys in her kindergarten class." The girl laughed, peeling Kurt's hand away. She stopped, frowning and digging in the center console. She pulled out a small tube of concealer- handing it to Kurt. He raised an eyebrow, glancing down at the makeup. "The marks, they're showing…" Kurt flipped down the overhead mirror, looking at his cheek and jaw. Sure enough, the makeup covering the splotchy purple bruises had smudged, revealing the damage left by his hus- ex husband. He scrambled to open the concealer, blotting it over the marks. It made his cheek look blotchy, Rachel had a different skin tone, but it was better than the bruises.
Kurt squeezed his eyes shut, leaning his head back and trying to hide the tears that were bubbling over.
"Hey, what's wrong?" Rachel asked, grabbing Kurt's hand.
"I don't believe you." He rubbed his eyelids, trying to think of something to change the subject. What was the name of that musical Rachel just auditioned for? Arrogant Snobs or something like that? No, wait, Anything Goes. It was Anything Goes. "Well? Come on, Kurt, talk to me. Are you doing okay?" Damn. Lost your chance, Hummel.
"Rachel, just please, drop it."
"I just-" he paused, glancing in the back seat, where Jennie was humming along to some kid pop song. He sighed, sinking his head back again. "I can't believe I loved him."
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A/N- I added page breaks.