I don`t own Glee or any of its characters.
I know I don`t have the greatest track record for updating, but I`ve already written a few chapters for this, so I figure we`re off to a good start on this one.
Burt Hummel had never before hated himself as much as he did in that one moment.
Not in junior high when he walked in on one of the many boys he had bullied, Tommy Ringwald, trying to hang himself in the locker room washroom.
Not when he stood with his then girlfriend Katherine as she told her parents, 'I'm pregnant', and held her after her hour was up, sitting on his father's porch with the only belongings she had left in the world, whispering to her, 'It'll be okay, we'll be alright.'
Not when he had to tell his son that, 'no, mommy's never coming home,' only to have the now sobbing boy wretch himself from his father's arms and shout 'I hate you', to which Burt replied, 'Me too.'
Those were times where he didn't know better, times where he had no control over the outcome of events. This – this was conscious. This he knew was wrong. He knew why it was wrong, but here he was nonetheless.
Turning the key in the ignition Burt closed his eyes and listen to the low rumble of his flatbed truck die off quickly. With a sigh he gripped the steering wheel with all the force his body could muster, which, though a month and a half had passed since his heart attack, was not much in the form of release at all. Burt wanted nothing more than to hit something, anything. To indulge in his primal urge to yell and break things until everything was alright again – until everything went back to how it was before his heart attack. Until he could manage a full day at the shop, not having to sit in his office with the blinds drawn so he wouldn't have to feel his son's ever-worrying gaze on him as he was forced to take yet another break.
He couldn't do this to Kurt. When Katherine had died he had made a promise to himself to never let his son feel that devastation again. If he pushed himself too hard he'd end up in the hospital again, and this time he might not be lucky enough to walk out. But with the hospital bills and mortgage payments, Burt couldn't afford to take time off again, nor could he afford to pay anyone to work for him.
It was Carole who had brought the idea to him, and as much as they both detested it, there really was no other option. They couldn't afford to pay a regular employee, but, for a small investment, they could pay for someone who could work for free.
They didn't call it slavery – no. That was too harsh a word for those who preached freedom, but that's what it was, and many of them had 'adopted' these non-slaves themselves, claiming to be giving them the opportunity for a better life (though it was very rare that they did). It had started with the poor trying to save themselves from poverty by selling their person to anyone willing to buy, and had escalated from there. The children of these adoptives inherited their parents' debt, and for a while in the early to mid-nineties it had been a suitable alternative for abortion, but that was stopped quite quickly as The Homes were filled quite rapidly with screaming, useless children. Now the government had limited entry only to those born with one or both parents in the system. If an adoptive had a child with a free person, it was up to that person whether or not they wanted to keep the child or to sell it to the government.
As Burt stepped out of his truck, he was greeted by the sight of a cold stone building he had only before seen in pictures online. Being three hours away, the Home in Cleveland was too far to visit in advance. Burt could only hope he had done enough research and was able to find someone he could both afford and use. The gravel crunched beneath his boots as he made his way down the path and to the large solid metal door that would take him inside this dreary building. Pushing it open he peeked inside. It wasn't as horrible as he had thought it would be. The entranceway wasn't overtly large and was painted in a deep burgundy colour. Various false plants, pictures, and chairs were scattered about the room giving it a somewhat homey feel. Glancing to his left, Burt caught the gaze of a short, bubbly looking woman with dark brown hair cut short to just below her ears. She smiled at him, her eyes sparkling cheerfully behind the thick rim of her glasses.
"Hello, sir," she greeted lightly as she stood and began to make her way around the large oak desk she had been seated behind towards him, "I'm Holly, how can I help you today, Mr?"
Burt started at her continued enthusiasm. This was not the place he expected to find cheer.
"H-hummel. Burt, ah, Burt Hummel." He paused. "I – uh, well.. I –" He drifted off, tugging his baseball cap off his head with his thumb and index finger, moving his hand back to use his remaining three fingers to scratch at his neck.
"First time," she asked, smiling sympathetically. "That's alright; I can set you up with a tour so you can take a look around. If you see anyone you like, or want to know more about a specific adoptee feel free to ask or browse the file on their door." With a quick grin she shuffled back to their desk and picked up the receiver of her phone.
"Mark? Hi! Would you mind coming up to the lobby? I have a first-time gentleman here wanting to look around," she paused, shooting Burt a wink as she continued. "Excellent, we'll be waiting!" As she hung up the phone she looked at him again. "He'll only be a moment," she promised. Less than ten seconds later, a tall thin man burst through the door adjacent to the desk with a bright, chipper smile attached to his falsely tanned face. Holly's own smile brightened as she gestured between the two men.
"Mark, this is Mr. Hummel. Mr. Hummel, I'd like you to meet our sales rep., Mr. Markus DeLainey." Markus grinned as he strode over to Burt, grabbing his hand for a firm handshake.
"Mr. Hummel, I would like to welcome you to our Home. We hope that you can find and adoptive to suit your needs, and hope that we can help you enjoy all the perks that adoption has to offer."
The smile never left Markus' face. Suddenly the room seemed too cheerful. The plants were too green, the walls were to colorful, and the smiles on both Holly and Markus' faces were too genuine. It took everything Burt had not to turn on his heels and leave the Home, never looking back. But as his mind drifted to Carole's tired eyes, Kurt's worried gaze, and Finn's inability to understand just how deep they were in, he sighed and tried to wipe the grimace off his face.
"So," he started shakily, "how about that tour?"