Title: small bump
Characters: Kurt, Puck, New Directions, Mr Schuester
Genre: angst, hurt/comfort
Warnings: male pregnancy, miscarriage
Spoilers: canon up to The Substitute, mostly AU after that. some things are taken from canon, while others are disregarded*. If you're that concerned, whole of season 2 to be on the safe side.
Disclaimer: I do not – and never will – own Glee.
Summary: Kurt doesn't think that it should be so easy to lie to your friends.
Word Count: 4923
A/N: I really didn't want to write this, but it was the only way I could get myself to stop thinking about it. The song Small Bump belongs to Ed Sheeran. This is unbeta'd, so all mistakes are my own. Also, I've never had a miscarriage – or been pregnant, for that matter. Everything I know about the matter comes from the internet/magazines/etc. I honestly cannot imagine going through something like this, and if you have had a miscarriage, you have my greatest sympathies. I'm honestly sorry if my portrayal of Kurt and Puck's experience is in any way offensive to you! (also, Puck is pretty OOC, but my thinking is, he's been through a lot – this is the second child he's lost, Beth on a less permanent basis than Isaac.)
*Canon events which occur in the story include, but are not limited to: Kurt's transfer to Dalton, the tie at Sectionals, the Rachel Berry House Party Trainwreck Extravaganza, New Directions win at Regionals, Kurt's transfer back to McKinley. Canon events which do not occur in the story include, but are not limited to: Burt/Carole wedding, the bisexual argument, Animal, Klaine, Sam moving away.
Kurt doesn't think that it should be so easy to lie to your friends.
He explains away the two weeks he was incommunicado as time spent at his dad's hunting lodge in Idaho. 'It's right next to this huge lake. We go every year for two weeks. Dad likes to go fishing,' he tells them. 'I go with him sometimes, but usually I just spend my time drawing and relaxing. There is literally no cell signal there. It's atrocious.'
It's not all lies, exactly. His dad does own a hunting lodge in Idaho, and he does like fishing. Kurt occasionally goes fishing with him, but he usually spends his time using the beautiful views around him as inspiration for his designs. The rest is true, too. Except for the fact that they go every year, because they didn't go this year. Instead, Kurt spent two weeks curled up in his bed in his aunt's house in Chicago. He barely leaves his room, never mind the house, and he's sure he didn't say more than five sentences the entire time.
When they ask why he's not at school for the first few weeks of term, the reason he supplies is that his appendix ruptured, and he had to have surgery. 'I was kept in hospital for a few weeks after my surgery,' he says when he's questioned. 'The incision became infected, so they kept me in longer than they would usually. I didn't want you to waste the end of your summer or the beginning of your senior year visiting me in hospital. I was happy enough with my laptop and my musical collection.'
Again, most of it is actually true. Kurt has had his appendix removed. The incision did become infected, and it did require a two-week stay in hospital. However, Kurt had his appendix taken out five years previously, when he was twelve.
The time was actually spent holed up in his own home – the furthest he went for almost six weeks was the front gate of his house to collect the mail. Even then, it was only when his dad wasn't there to do it, meaning he had to collect it. (The exception was two doctor's appointments in Columbus.) His dad did the food shopping for the house, using lists Kurt made for him, and Kurt bought everything else online.
Luckily, Kurt's house is just outside Lima. Far enough away that his friends always call in advanced to make sure he's in, because the trip is just that bit too far to do for no reason. The excuses are easy enough to come up with when they ask if they can visit: 'sorry, doctor's appointment', 'no can do, aunt's here for a visit', 'I'd love to, but dad and I are having top gear marathon'.
He feels bad, but he doesn't know how to tell them the truth. He wants to, he really does, but he just can't.
It feels weird when he does go back to school. It's nice to see his friends again, sure, but he just doesn't know how to be around them anymore. It's like, during the past two months, he's forgotten what it's like to be their friend, to be the Kurt Hummel they know. He just doesn't see the point in mocking Rachel's clothes, or discussing the latest cast change on Broadway, or competing for solos, anymore. It... doesn't seem to be important now.
Most of his summer was spent interacting with the same handful of people. His dad, Noah, Ruth, the doctors, his aunt, his grandmother. They all knew exactly what happened, so Kurt didn't have to act a certain way around them. He didn't have to censor his emotions: he didn't have to pretend that he wasn't feeling completely and utterly distraught most of the time.
His friends, they know nothing. And yes, that's entirely his fault. He can't tell them, though, and it means that he's got to put his mask back on. The one he wore last year, when the bullying was at its worst. He's got to pretend that there's nothing's wrong – that everything's okay, and that he's happy.
It's so hard.
When Rachel whines about not getting a solo, or Mercedes complains about Rachel, or Santana bitches about Quinn, he just wants to slap them. He wants to shout and scream and cry. He wants to tell them that they don't know what hardship is, that they have no right to complain about their lives, not after what he's been through. He can't, though, and instead, Kurt goes about his day as if he's okay. He knows he must be awkward and weird around his friends, but he just tells them that he's worried about college, or his dad's health, or sectionals.
They believe him, and Kurt sometimes doesn't know what's worse: that he can lie so easily to them, or that they believe him without a second thought.
Kurt walks to Glee himself – like usual, as none of the others are in his last period class. He's literally having to force himself to go to Glee. He's having a bad day – though, admittedly, many of his days are bad nowadays. All he wants to do is go home, curl up in his bed, and ignore the world. It's easier just to go though. The interrogations he'd have to endure if he skips would be horrendous – from Rachel especially.
His cell vibrates, signalling an incoming text. He quickly unlocks it once he's taken it from his pocket, and opens the text. 'I'm sorry,' it says, and Kurt doesn't understand at all.
He frowns at it for a few seconds, before shrugging and placing his cell back in his pocket. He'll see Noah in less than five minutes in Glee, so there's really no need for him to reply. He can just ask the other boy what he's apologising for then.
He hurries his pace when he sees Strando at the end of the hall, hoping to make round the corner before the other boy passes him. He fails, and just before he turns the corner, Strando walks by. The other boy just gives him a menacing look, though, and continues going in the opposite direction to Kurt.
Since he's come back, he literally hasn't even been slushied once. No dumpster dives, no locker checks, no nothing. He's pretty sure it's got something to do with Noah. Not that Noah's said anything about it, but the vaguely smug look on his face when Strando and the hockey jerks walk by Kurt without a word is easy enough for Kurt to decipher. He's not planning on bringing it up though. It can just join the other hundred and one taboo subjects between the two of them.
He slips into the choir room, expecting to be the last one there. As he glances up at the risers, though, he notices that Noah hasn't arrived yet, either. A flash of panic hits him. 'I'm sorry', the text had read. Noah wouldn't do anything stupid, would he? He wouldn't... kill himself? Suicide doesn't seem like his thing, but Kurt knows grief makes you do things you wouldn't normally.
Kurt considered it. Some days, that's all he wanted to do. All he thought about. Just... ending it all, so he would stop feeling like this. Stop feeling numb and angry and guilty and depressed, and everything else he's been feeling, but can't put a name to. Some days, he genuinely believed that he'd never get over it, that he'd never be happy again. Then he'd think of his dad, and Noah, and Ruth, and his aunt, and his grandmother, and New Directions, and he knew he couldn't do it. Couldn't leave them all behind.
He's doing better now. He has his ups and his downs, his good days and his bad days. The bad still out-number the good, but the latter are slowly increasing in number. The guilt's mostly gone now. He knows it wasn't his fault. No one else blamed him but himself, and it's taken awhile, but they're reassurances have finally started helping. He still feels angry – Why me? Why us? What did we do wrong? – and there are days when he literally doesn't leave his bed. Overall, though, he's doing much better than he was.
Everyone else is chatting amongst themselves, but after a few half-waves and awkward smiles, Kurt retreats to his usual seat. It's at the back of the room, and it's directly in the line of sight of the door, so when he sits down, he stares resolutely forward, waiting impatiently for the other boy to come in. He lets out a breath he didn't know he was holding when Noah walks into the room, guitar strapped across his back.
"Mr Schue? Can I... I mean, would it be okay if I sung something before we got started?" Noah asks, and Kurt's not seen the other boy acting nervous in the entire time he's known him.
Kurt watches as Mr Schue wrinkles his brow in confusion, before nodding. "Of course, Puck. Is everything okay?"
Noah laughs bitterly. "No. Hasn't been for a while." The way Noah glances at him out of the corner of his eye lets Kurt know exactly what this is about. "Never thought I'd become one of you guys," he continues, scratching the back of his neck awkwardly. "Didn't really get the whole 'sing out your feelings' thing. I just... I don't know how to tell you, and I found this song, and... yeah."
Kurt wishes he'd just gone straight home after class. He has no idea what the song is, but he really doesn't want to listen to it. He should just leave, so he doesn't have to go through this. But it's like he's frozen, stuck in his seat, forced to listen to it, whatever it is.
Noah drags out a stool from the corner of the room, and sits down. He pulls his guitar off his back, and straps it on the right way, hands immediately moving to the correct positions. For the first few seconds, the only sound in the room is Noah's hand tapping against the body of the guitar.
He starts strumming soon enough, gaze locked on his knees. "You're just a small bump unborn, in four months, you're brought to life. You might be left with my hair, but you'll have your mother's eyes," he sings, voice soft and gentle, and Kurt can actually feel the despair and anguish in his voice.
Kurt has to give him credit – he's singing the song perfectly. But couldn't he have told Kurt what he was doing in advance, so Kurt could skip school, and stay in bed all day, and not have to witness the worst thing he's ever experienced being rehashed in front of all of his friends?
He takes a deep breath, and lets it out slowly, trying to calm himself down. He isn't going to cry in front of them. The song will only last three or four minutes. He can get through that, and then leave. It'll all be okay.
"I'll whisper quietly, I'll give you nothing but truth." Noah is still staring at his knees, and Kurt chances a look at the others. Finn and Sam look like they have no clue what's going on. Brittany and Rory are much the same. Rachel and Mercedes are exchanging concerned looks. Santana's brows are furrowed – obviously trying to work out who Noah's knocked up now. "If you're not inside me, I'll put my future in you."
Kurt brushes a hand across his stomach, remembering when the small bump used to be there. No, he thinks, don't do this to yourself. It'll just make everything worse. He lets out a shaky breath, and focuses once more on the song. Kurt knows that no matter how awful the song's making him feel just now, he'll go out and buy the track by its original artist. It is a good song, and Noah's definitely doing it justice. "Finger nails the size of a half grain of rice, and eyelids closed to be soon opened wide. A small bump, in four months, you'll open your eyes."
"Oh, you are my one and only. You can wrap your fingers round my thumb and hold..." His voice cuts off, and his just sighs, shaking his head. He continues playing the guitar for a while, still not looking at anything but his lap. It's completely heartbreaking, watching as he opens his mouth, only for no words to come out, and for him to close it again with a sigh.
He finally starts singing again, voice becoming increasingly brittle, as if he was going to break down in tears any second – which, Kurt thinks, is probably going to happen. "When you're half asleep, I'll leave you be. Right in front of me, for a couple weeks, so I can keep you safe," and when Noah's voice breaks on the last word, Kurt just wants to gather him in his arms, and hold him. The other boy just looks – and sounds – so broken, and Kurt knows something must have happened for him to be so open and honest in front of all of their friends. Kurt's seen him like this before, but he knows that he's the exception, not the rule.
"You were just a small bump unborn for four months, then torn from life." Kurt can't take it anymore. He'd been okay, right up until now. Not fine, because he's not been fine in months, but he was dealing with the song alright. His mask just crumbles, and he's sitting there, staring at Noah with unseeing eyes, tears pouring down his face. He can feel himself shaking, and his breath is coming in pants. When is this going to be over? he thinks, hoping desperately that it's soon.
He can feel the gazes of most of the room on him, and everyone else's gazes are swivelling between him and Noah like it's some tennis match. Ignoring them, his eyes don't leave Noah, watching the other boy's strumming slowly taper off.
Noah glances up from his knees, finally, to look at Kurt. Kurt's breath catches in his throat at the look on the other boy's face. It hurts, just looking at him. The final line of the song is sung directly to him, and Kurt feels like everything's disappeared, that it's only him and Noah in the room. The just stare at each other, Kurt sobbing, and Puck's eyes filled with tears. "Maybe you were needed up there, but we're still unaware as why."
"Finally," Kurt breathes out, his voice wobbly.
He up and out of his seat immediately, and before he even realises he's moved, he's thrown himself at Noah. The other boy somehow manages to put his guitar down in the few seconds he has before Kurt's in his lap. Kurt curls up against him, arms wound tightly around his neck, and buries his head into the crook of Noah's neck. He feels Noah let out a shaky breath against his hair, wrapping his arms around Kurt's middle and pulling him closer.
Kurt has no idea how long he and Noah sat there, holding each other tightly. They eventually release their holds on each other slightly. Kurt is still on Noah's lap, but he's no longer crying into his shoulder. Instead, they're staring straight at one another, as if there's no one else in the room, tears finally stopped.
"I'm sorry," Noah says quietly. The room is in complete silence, though, and Kurt suspects that the others can hear everything Noah is saying. "I just... I had to tell them. I've just been so angry recently. I can't keep pretending nothing's wrong."
Kurt opens his mouth to speak, to assure the other boy that it's okay, but Noah continues speaking, "Yesterday, when I was driving home, Strando shouted something at me, and all I could think was how easily I could run him over. How all I needed to do was turn the wheel a tiny bit to the right. I don't even remember what he said. I doubt it was that bad, but I just got so angry."
"It's okay, Noah. Honestly, it's fine," Kurt promises, smiling gently at the other boy. Kurt knows how he's feeling. "I mean, I'm not going to say that I wasn't annoyed at first, but having to pretend like none of it happened is obviously messing you up inside. I'm not angry or upset with you."
It's only when Rachel speaks that they remember the room is still full. "What... what was that about?"
Kurt sighs, and closes his eyes. They're going to have to tell them everything. Most of them will probably understand what happened already, but they'll still want explanations. Leaning forward, he rests his forehead against Noah's, and presses a gentle kiss to his lips. Noah seems to have no intention of letting him off of his lap. Kurt finds that he really doesn't mind, and just turns around so he's facing the others.
"I..." Kurt begins, but trails off, not knowing where exactly to start. Turning his head slightly, he glances up at Noah, who is staring at him intently, with an eyebrow raised. The other boy sighs, and turns to face their friends.
"At Rachel's party, Kurt and I had sex," he says simply, and the group starts muttering amongst themselves. At least they aren't asking any questions, Kurt thinks. If they start doing that, this will take all night.
Kurt nods, still looking at Noah, and continues, "We sort of started texting each other after that. Every few days or so. I guess we became... friends."
"Wait, back up. You two slept together?"
Kurt feels Noah tense below him, and he turns to glare at Artie. "Yes, we did. We do not need nor do we want your opinion on the matter. Kindly be quiet while we finish."
He places both his hands over Noah's, whose hands are resting on his stomach. Their positioning is not lost on him, nor, he assumes, Noah, and Kurt gives Noah's hands a gentle squeeze. The other boy says nothing; he just lowers his head to rest his chin on Kurt's hair.
Kurt clears his throat, and continues, "I started feeling unwell not long after that, but as Regionals was approaching, and then I had the transfer back to McKinley, I just assumed that it was down to stress."
"His dad eventually forced him to go and see the doctor."
And by forced, Noah means dragged. Kurt had refused to go to the appointment his dad had booked for him, locking himself in his room. Burt had simply picked the lock on Kurt's bedroom door, and carried him upstairs from the basement in a fireman's lift. Kurt had not been impressed with his father, and he'd shown it – he'd been taken from the house literally kicking and screaming.
"We found out he was pregnant around Nationals," Noah tells them, drawing Kurt from his memories. "There was no discussion whatsoever – we were definitely going to keep it."
"Him," Kurt corrects gently, squeezing Noah's hands.
The quiet question came from Mr Schuester. Kurt glances up at the man. Out of everyone, Mr Schuester is the one most likely to understand. He'd gone months believing he was going to be a father, only to have it all taken away when it was revealed that his wife had been lying about it. It's not the same, not even close, but it's similar enough.
"It was the twenty week scan. Dad had a meeting with suppliers in Columbus, so it was just the two of us," Kurt begins, voice so soft that he's sure most of them have to strain to hear him.
Kurt can't carry on. He can't say it aloud. He opens his mouth, but nothing comes out. His eyes fill with tears, and his hand comes up to his mouth, trying to stifle to sound of his crying.
"Our appointment was a Friday, the 29th," Noah says, after pulling Kurt closer to him. "It was just a routine appointment. There were no signs. Everything had been completely fine.
"The sonographer... there was no heartbeat when she did the ultrasound. Just silence. She apologised, and neither of us could believe what was happening. We refused to believe her. She had to get a doctor to come and speak to us."
Kurt takes a deep breath, letting it out slowly, before he speaks, "My dad rushed back to Lima when we called him. They needed his consent to..."
"To give him the tablet to induce labour," Noah finishes quietly, when Kurt doesn't finish his sentence. "It takes 48 hours for labour to start after that. We had to go home, knowing our baby was dead, and that Kurt would have to give birth to him on the Monday."
It was the worst two days of Kurt's entire life, including the days surrounding his mother's death, and when his dad had the heart attack. Kurt's dad had had to explain it to Ruth, Noah's mom, because the two of them wouldn't, couldn't, say it aloud. Kurt and Noah had spent the entire 48 hours holding each other in Kurt's bedroom, not saying a word. For Kurt, the privacy was so incredibly important. He didn't want anyone to see him – not that anyone except their families knew, of course. He felt like a fraud, going about with a baby bump, when his baby was dead.
In the end, they were glad of the final few days they had with their baby. Neither of them was quite ready to be parted from the baby just yet. The time gave them the chance to say goodbye, because neither knew if they would be able to see him after Kurt birthed him – or, for that matter, whether either of them would be quite ready to see him.
(As it turned out, they caught a quick glimpse of their baby, still in his amniotic sac, as he was whisked away from sight by nurses. Not long after that, he was placed into Moses basket, wrapped in soft, white blankets, and Kurt and Noah got the chance to say a proper goodbye. They just stared at him for a long time, whispers of 'I love you' and 'goodbye' echoing around the quiet room.)
Their parents had just sat in the living room of the Hummel house together, trying to be as supportive and compassionate and loving as possible, without getting under the boys' feet. Sarah had been sent to stay with her Nana in Kenton for the week, because there was no way they could explain any of this to an 8-year-old who didn't even know that boys could get pregnant.
"I gave birth to him on the Monday in one of the labour suites. His name..." Kurt chokes on his words, squeezing his eyes shut tightly. A few tears trickle down his face, and he felt one of Noah's hands come up and brush them away.
Noah's voice is thick when he speaks, "We called him Isaac Noah Hummel Puckerman."
They'd discussed religion before it had happened. Neither of them wanted their child to be raised religious. Noah goes to Temple with his nana, and he celebrates Hanukkah with his family, and he only eats Kosher food, but, to be honest, he isn't that committed to his faith. They'd decided that to honour their child's Jewish roots, he would have a Jewish name, but that was all.
(Ruth hadn't been particularly happy, nor had Noah's nana, Anna, but they'd both understood that Kurt and Noah had to raise their child the way they believed would be best for said child. He would have still celebrated Hanukkah with the Puckermans, and they would have allowed Anna to take him to Temple occasionally, and when he was with them, only Kosher food would have been eaten, but they had been planning to raise him as an Atheist.)
Isaac (Jewish version: Yitzhak or Yizchak) had been chosen, not for its meaning ('he will laugh'), but because it was the only name that they both liked. Isaac had been top of his list, but Kurt had liked Micah and Caleb, too. Noah, on the other hand, had put Benjamin first, then Isaac, and Aaron. Elijah had been briefly mentioned by Burt, but it was Noah's middle name – and the name of Noah's father, who'd deserted them. Neither of them wanted to name their son after him.
"I'm so, so sorry," Rachel whispers, hands over her mouth. She's crying, and the tears are trailing lines of mascara and eyeliner down her face.
Kurt just wants to leave now. He doesn't want to spend any more time talking about the baby he lost. He doesn't want to see everyone's pitying looks, or get their sympathetic hugs, or whatever. He just wants to go home, and cry until he can't cry anymore. He wants to see his dad, to hug him, and not move from his dad's side for the next week.
Quinn smiles at them sadly, "Kurt, Puck, I'm so sorry for your loss. Our situations weren't the same, obviously, but I know how you feel."
"No, you don't know how this feels!"
Everyone is taken aback by his outburst. Noah jerks slightly below him. The rest of the group are just sort of staring at him, no idea what's going on.
He knows that he should just walk out now, but he's just so angry. How dare she try to compare their experiences? They were nothing alike. Kurt knows Quinn's just trying to be nice, to be supportive, but he just... can't. The anger in him is white-hot, and he just wants to shout and scream and cry. His hands curl into fists, nails cutting half-moon shapes into his palms – he can barely feel it, though.
"You gave your baby away. That was a choice. My baby was taken from me. My baby died. You have no idea what we're going through!"
"Kurt," Noah, Mr Schuester and Rachel all say within milliseconds of one another.
He shakes his head, still angry at Quinn, "One day, you'll see her again. I don't have that option. I'll never get to hug him, or tell him that I love him, or see him grow up. He's gone, forever, and there is nothing anyone can do about that!"
Noah's arms tighten around his waist, and pull him closer. His voice is low when he speaks, "Kurt, baby, listen to me. You don't want to do this. You don't want to end up saying something you'll regret. She's your friend."
Kurt knows Noah's right. Quinn's been through a lot, too, and he really has no right diminishing her experiences because he's having a hard time of it. She's his friend, and right now, he's treating her like dirt. He lets out a shuddering breath, before asking, "Can we just go home now?"
Noah sighs, but then he nods resignedly. Kurt gets up to collect his bag from his seat. He doesn't meet anyone eyes, even though he can feel all of their eyes on him. He mutters a quick, "I'm sorry," as he passes Quinn, but he knows he'll have to make a proper apology later.
Noah's hand rests on the small of his back, urging him from the room gently. Kurt lets him, content to do whatever the other boy wants, as long as the end result is him going home. Because he's sort of numb now – all of his anger had gone rushing out him when Noah spoke, leaving him with nothing.