AN: I started writing this only hours after hearing the tragic news, but its completion took a while. I was determined to get it finished before the tribute aired. I tried to portray Finn very honestly, because despite all his flaws and weaknesses, he's very real and genuine as a character, he's got a big heart, and he always means well, even if he bungles the attempt.
Finn is such an integral part of Glee, one of the originals (kind of), and Cory Monteith is so beloved, and to top it off, he's Canadian, which is extra awesome. My heart goes out to everyone touched by this tragic loss: the entire Glee family, Cory's own friends and family, and every fan (including mine) whose heart he touched with his self-deprecating humour, bumbling dance steps, and his open, honest candour.
I'm an out-and-proud Klainer, so this is my attempt to see how Kurt would deal with the loss. As I mentioned before, this was started only hours after the news broke and I haven't attempted to make it fit canon, so any resemblance ('Seasons of Love') is coincidence (or great minds?).
Disclaimer: Do any of us really need to write this? It's sort of obvious . . .
Warning: Bit of nudity, mild suggestion of past sexual activity.
It wasn't supposed to happen like this.
Scratch that, it was never supposed to happen. Period.
Still ticked at his brother for ruining the pearl-yellow Egyptian cotton sheets he had left at home, Kurt doesn't pick up when his brother's face flashes across his iPhone at an ungodly morning hour. Finn had sacrificed those expensive, six-hundred thread-count sheets in the name of a Toga Party his dorm was having, and whilst Kurt has never lived in a college dorm, he knows full well what goes on there. He had lived through Dalton, and he has been to multiple dorm parties here, especially since starting at NYADA.
Finn's ruined his things before, which is why Kurt has his own section in the linen closet, one that Finn knows not to touch, and his own section in the front hall closet, and his own section in the fridge and pantry. Everyone in the house knows not to touch the items in there; certainly not without asking first.
So, yeah, Kurt's pretty ticked, and Finn's going to have to grovel.
And he still doesn't want to talk to his brother a few hours later when he actually gets up (even though waking him from his hangover would be sweet revenge), because not only is he about to be late for class if he can't find his dance bag (his hair hasn't been co-operating all morning), but everyone knows Kurt tends to get cruel when he's mad, and say things he shouldn't. He goes straight for the jugular, a skill learnt early at the hands of his bullies, when his words were the only weapon the tiny boy had had. It's something he's working on, but he's not willing to test it, not this early in the morning, and not when he's on the verge of being late, and frazzled, and oh-so very pissed.
He grabs his dance bag from where Rachel had undoubtedly kicked it beneath their couch (they really have to have another talk about that), and heads quickly for the subway station, hoping he hasn't missed the train at 47 minutes past. It's so much nicer and less-crowded than the one that comes ten minutes later.
He has a long day today, starting with an early morning dance class and ending with another one, with a private voice lesson, dramatic acting, staging, and history of theatre classes inbetween. And Adam really wants him to come to glee rehearsal as well, and he has to finish a five-minute monologue and a paper comparing staging in the fifties and today for tomorrow.
He loves every moment of it, he won't pretend otherwise. He has finally found his niche, a small group of friends that extend outside Rachel, and the acceptance and recognition of his talent he had never truly had back in Lima, no matter how Mr. Schue had preached about including everyone, and each one being a star.
He can feel his phone vibrating during dance class, when he grabs water and changes his wristbands, and again when he's showering (and he still doesn't feel comfortable in the boys' showers here, even though he's far from the only flamboyant gay guy), but he literally has ten minutes (ten minutes!) to shower, dress, do his hair (again!), and be in time for his History of Theatre class. He's never yet managed it, but he's consoled by the fact that it's always the same three of them who are late, who simply cannot make it happen in that tiny amount of time.
He finally gets a breather around lunch, which he spends in the large dance studio, working on the tango with Derek, one of his friends, also gay. Because he has a woman's voice, Kurt wants to be able to dance both parts in these typical dances, knowing he may well audition for a female role one day. He certainly has considered going in for Fanny Brice in the Funny Girl revival.
They take a break, and head for their bags, when his phone vibrates, again. Kurt is eyeing a ballet dancer, a senior, admiring her flexibility and the point of her toes as he pulls his phone out.
It's his Dad.
He quickly swipes his finger across the screen, grimacing as he holds it to his ear. At least he's not too sweaty. "Hey, Dad."
"Kurt, oh thank God you picked up." The man lets out a big sigh of relief. "Carole and I have been trying to reach you all morning!"
He's distracted by another dancer, this one a guy a few years older than him, clad in only a pair of shorts that leave his six-pack hanging out, and nothing to the imagination, and doesn't pick up on the tone of his Father's voice.
"I'm sorry, Dad, it's been crazy. Today is my really busy day, what with classes and studying and everything, I usually don't have time to check my phone until I get home" he halfway apologises, eyes on that broad back with the muscles rippling beneath sweaty skin.
"I know" Burt says, hesitating. "Kurt, I gotta tell you something, and I really wish I didn't have to do this . . ."
That gets his attention, and Kurt frowns, despite the wrinkles it may one day give him. If his skin ever dares to get wrinkles, that is. "Dad? Are you okay? Oh no, it's the cancer, isn't it? The chemo's not working? I knew it seemed too good to be true, you've been hiding it from me, haven't you, and now you can't anymore because it's too serious and, oh Gaga, you need surgery again, don't you?" he rambles, suddenly terrified.
"No, Kurt, it's not me, the cancer's not a problem" Burt hastens to reassure his son, hoping he never has to find out how Kurt would react to this exact scenario.
"Dad, you're scaring me." Kurt is paying full attention now, Derek and the dancers completely forgotten. He's in his own little world, leaning against the barre, eyes blank as he focusses on his Father's voice, trying to read the little nuances in his tone.
"I have some really, really bad news, Kurt" Burt says through the phone, and it sounds like he's trying his best not to cry.
"Dad?" Kurt's voice is suddenly that of his eight-year-old self again, the one that lost his Mother.
"Kurt . . . Kurt, something happened on campus last night, or this morning. The police still don't know what, but Finn-" Burt chokes and swallows audibly as Kurt's heart starts pounding furiously in his chest, painfully. "Finn . . . he died, Kurt."
The world goes absolutely silent, suspended in time for a brief moment as the breath rushes from Kurt's lungs and he sinks to the floor, his knees giving out. "What?!" he whispers in disbelief, sure he's heard wrong.
"Finn . . . something happened and he . . . died" Burt says again, his voice catching. "A couple students found him in his dorm room this morning. We don't know anything else yet."
Kurt stares at nothing, waiting for feeling and emotion to return to him, waiting for the foggy haze to dissipate, and the world to catch up with him from this suspended reality.
It does, crashing down on him in a thunder of horror and agony that he knows far too well. "No" he gulps in disbelief, "no, no. Oh my Gaga, no." He can feel his iron façade of control slipping, but doesn't know if he has the strength to maintain it. "No, Dad, please. Tell me this is Finn's and Puck's cruel idea of a prank, and that you took leave of your senses in order to go along with it, and this isn't true."
He knows his Dad would never play this sort of a prank on him.
Derek is watching in concern, having seen his friend's reaction to whatever news he had received.
"Kurt, Kiddo, I wish I could." Burt sounds almost broken by the news.
"Finn . . . Dad, it can't be" Kurt tries to insist. "He borrowed my eight-hundred thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets for a Toga party last night, he called me this morning, at some ridiculous, inhuman hour, mere minutes after I'd finally gotten myself to bed, only to rouse me in order to inform me he'd ruined them." The last time he'd ever spoken to his brother, and he'd unknowingly hung up in righteous fury.
"It's him" Burt says flatly.
"Oh, Gaga" he breathes, curling in on himself, breaths coming in short, hard pants. "Oh Gaga" he repeats, and he remembers when Finn had shown up in that red shower curtain and rescued him from a gay-bashing, looking absolutely ridiculous, and yet proud as a peacock. The gesture hadn't fixed everything, but it had been a big first step in helping Kurt be willing to give him another chance.
"Kurt?" The erratic breathing coming down the phone line worries Burt.
"Are you okay, Dad? How are you holding up?" Kurt asks, oblivious to the room around him. His voice doesn't crack, and he's proud of that, but it quavers, and all he can think about is this can't be real.
Burt swallows hard. "I already lost a wife, and I nearly lost you a couple of times, and-" His voice does crack this time.
"Dad, I'm so, so sorry" Kurt murmurs, swallowing hard, and he knows he has to get to Lima as quickly as possible.
"Don't you worry about me, Kiddo." Burt tries to pull himself together, knowing he's going to have to be the strong one in his marriage for the next while.
Kurt hesitates. "How's Carole?" His voice is small.
"Not good" Burt admits. "She's . . . she's pretty broken. First her husband, and now her . . . son." But she's a fighter. "She's so strong."
Kurt cracks at that, and he cannot hold the tears back any longer. It's too real, and it feels like his heart is absolutely shattering into a million little pieces. It's almost worse than when Blaine had admitted to cheating on him, and – oh. "Does Rachel know?" he gulps, swallowing painfully. He dashes a hand across his tear-streaked cheeks.
The on-again, off-again relationship saga that is 'Finchel' is way too much for anyone to follow, and on any given day, Hell, at any given hour, Kurt has no clue what their relationship status may be. He doesn't think either of them are right for each other, and knows what they put each other through is unhealthy, but he knows Finn is . . . was . . . still completely in love with Rachel, who has been trying desperately not to still be in love with Finn.
"I don't know" Burt says honestly. "Puck knows, because he was there, but I don't know who he's told. The cops may have taken his phone."
"Wait." Kurt narrows his eyes, honing in. "Puck was there? Cops? Did someone do this to him?!" His voice rises almost hysterically.
"They don't think so, but they don't know. We don't know anything, Kurt." Burt breaks away to blow his nose.
"Oh Gaga" Kurt whispers again, shaking his head. His hand is at his mouth, clenched in a fist, and he's trying really hard not to bite it like he once did. "Dad" he nearly whimpers, because that's all a kid really wants when everything's not okay. His Father . . . or Blaine. "I-I'm coming home."
He hasn't even though about it yet; the words just slip out, but he knows they're right. NYADA, classes, Vogue, none of it matters right now. He needs to be in Lima.
"I figured" Burt says. "I deposited enough for a ticket into your chequing account."
"Thank you" Kurt whispers, knowing that what with NYADA expenses and reduced hours at , not to mention the return for Mr. Schue's non-wedding in February, he just doesn't have enough for a plane ticket without help.
"Let me know when you arrive, I'll pick you up" Burt says. "I'm sorry, Kurt, I need to go now, we need the phone to, well, yeah." He swallows hard. "You okay?" he asks softly.
Kurt blinks, surprised at the question. "I-I don't . . . for now?" he offers. He's always been okay, he's always needed to be, and he can count on one hand the number of times he hasn't been.
"I love you, Kurt." Burt's voice is brimming with emotion.
"Me too, Dad." Kurt puts everything into it that he has. "Give Carole a big hug for me." His voice cracks as he says this, and he loses the battle, biting down on his knuckle as more tears overflow.
"I will" Burt promises. He doesn't want to hang up, but he has to. "I love you" he says again. All he wants to do is continue talking with his son, because every sound that comes through the line is a tangible reminder that Kurt is still here, heart still beating, lungs still breathing.
"I love you, Dad." Kurt hangs up, because otherwise this will go on forever.
He can feel his entire body quaking as he quickly checks his phone. Apart from the sixteen missed calls from his Dad, there are several texts from his Father, urging him to call, and two from Finn, that he cannot bring himself to read. But otherwise, there's nothing, and when he checks WhatsApp, he sees Rachel hasn't messaged him.
She doesn't know, then.
"Kurt?" Derek's voice finally breaks through his reverie. "Kurt, man, what's wrong? What happened?" The other boy is crouching by him, eyes worried.
Kurt shakes his head. "I-I have to go." He needs to get to Lima. And seeing as someone has to tell Rachel, and he is here, he knows it's got to be him. "I have to find Rachel."
Kurt spends a frantic twenty minutes trying to locate her, Adam trailing worriedly after him, and finally bursts into her Modern Theatre class.
"Excuse me?" The professor raises a sardonic brow, the likes of which Kurt has long ago perfected. "Is there a problem?" His voice changes, and Kurt knows he looks a mess.
Rachel gasps at the sight of him, and pales dramatically, instantly knowing it cannot be good news. "Oh, God" she breathes, staring.
"Let's go" Kurt says, voice hard as he tries to prod her frozen form into action. They can't do this here, not in front of everybody. Rachel is a drama queen, prone to theatrics, and still in love, and he knows it will not be pretty. "Come on!" It's quite literally taking everything he's got to hold it together, but he can't fall apart, not yet. He's a sympathy crier though, and knows when Rachel loses it, part of him will as well.
She startles and shakes her long tresses, dark-rimmed eyes still wide, the perfect picture of the main character, awaiting the tragedy about to befall her. "Excuse me" she says to her Professor, grabbing her books and bag, quickly exiting the classroom. "What is it, Kurt?" She corners him in the hallway.
She shakes her head stubbornly. "No. What is it? Tell me" she demands, her eyes already damp. She is holding onto his arm, very set despite her sky-high, spiky heels in those knee-high black boots she so loves.
"Fine." Kurt doesn't have the patience to deal with this. He looks away and takes a breath. "Something happened early this morning, and Finn – he uh . . ." His voice trails off, and he steels himself. "He died, Rachel." There, it's out. There's no taking it back now. He pulls in a shaky breath, in awe of the pain squeezing his chest.
"What?" Rachel takes a step back in disbelief, hand splayed on her chest. "What, no! No, Kurt, no!" she shrieks, eyes wide in horror. "No" she whispers, her eyes searching his desperately, looking for any hint of a lie in them. She sees nothing but the agonised truth. "Oh my God" she whispers, taking another step back, her bag sliding to the floor. "No."
Then she dissolves into an absolute puddle of tears, desperate, grief-stricken tears, mascara running in streaks down her face, sinking to her knees in the middle of the hallway.
The flight is long, too long, and every minute feels longer than the last. Rachel had composed herself long enough to clear Security, but although her delivery is, as always, with a flair for the dramatic and theatrical, Kurt knows her well enough to see that her grief and anguish are very, very real.
To his surprise, Santana is the one who is comforting Rachel. Perhaps the bond each of them had once shared with Finn brings them together, Kurt doesn't know, but he's grateful he doesn't have to deal with it, because he knows he can't.
He finds out the instant McKinley hears, because at once his phone lights up with Blaine's smiling face. He wants nothing more than to pick up and let his best friend (and yes, soul mate, he doesn't have the strength to refute that right now) comfort him, but he doesn't, because he can't. Not yet.
Instead, his phone vibrates non-stop with incoming texts and calls, until he gets onto the plane and has to turn it off.
Santana had let her inner Snicks loose, and scored them three seats together, with some space surrounding them for privacy, and Kurt is grateful now, as he gazes unseeingly out the window. He doesn't know what he thinks, how he feels, it's all just numb, and even though it feels like he's moving slow-motion through a foggy, hazy medium that presses down on him in every way, it's preferable to the sharp, unrelenting, heart-clenching agony he knows will hit when he's processed it all somewhat, and he's eager to avoid that onset.
The stewardesses are extra nice; Rachel hasn't stopped crying, and it hadn't taken much to get the story from her, but Kurt doesn't want anyone's pity, or even sympathy. He is so relieved when they finally land, and are allowed to deplane first. Perhaps his Father had pulled some of the strings to which he now has access as a Congressman, because Kurt has never sailed through Security so easily. Their checked luggage is even waiting for them.
He grabs his two suitcases and marches for the exit, searching desperately for his Dad.
Instead, he spots an overly-gelled head, bopping up and down in an effort to see over the heads of those taller than him.
Kurt freezes for a moment, and those beautiful hazel eyes spot him in an instant.
"Kurt!" And then Blaine is there, arms wrapped tightly around him, surrounding him, holding him, and Kurt can smell the raspberry hair gel and Armani cologne and peppermint and coffee, with a hint of honey, and he inhales deeply, burying his head in his favourite spot on Blaine's shoulder.
He shudders violently with the effort not to crack, because Blaine has always had this effect on him. Blaine is the only person with whom he can let his walls down and just be, and despite everything that's happened between them, that hasn't changed.
"Blaine" he gets out, his own arms holding on tightly, too tightly, as the other boy lets out a squeak.
"Kurt, can't breathe" Blaine forces out, hands rubbing soothingly up and down Kurt's back, and the countertenor loosens his hold, still unable to let go completely.
They remain in that embrace for far longer than is socially acceptable, and Blaine finally pulls away, reluctantly, all-too aware of the ugly stares they are receiving. "C'mon" the shorter boy urges, reaching for the suitcases Kurt has all but forgotten about. "Rachel's Dads are bringing her and Santana home" he adds as the boy he's never stopped loving manages to detach himself, straightening.
Kurt nods bleakly, expressive glasz eyes filled with an agony the likes of which Blaine hasn't seen since they had first met. It scares him. 'Screw Ohio' Blaine thinks, and takes Kurt's hand back, leading the slightly taller boy through the bustling airport, trailing behind the Berrys and Santana, both men with their arms wrapped around their daughter.
The ride home seems to take forever, and yet before he knows it, they're pulling up at his house. Their house. Only, there's a body missing, and it's never coming back.
Kurt's breath hitches in his chest, his knuckles white as he clenches his hands into fists, perfectly-buffed nails digging into his palms. He stares at the house, now short a member, and he wonders just how he's supposed to do this. He's frozen in place, panicked, terrified of what awaits him in there, of what will become reality when he walks through that door.
Suddenly, it doesn't feel like home anymore.
"Kurt." Blaine reaches out, and it's only as the former Warbler grasps his icy hand that Kurt realises he's shaking. "Oh, Baby."
The endearment slips out without either of them noticing, because whilst this break-up, the separation and distance may have been exactly what they had needed in order to grow as individuals, they have never stopped loving each other.
Blaine wraps his arms around Kurt again, pulling the countertenor to him. Kurt's hands clench around the fabric of his shirt, and Blaine rubs his hands up and down Kurt's trembling back, feeling how taut and knotted the muscles are. "You ready?" he asks after several moments, knowing he's given Kurt the strength he needs.
"I'll never be" Kurt responds, but he pulls back nonetheless, steeling himself. He knows what it's like to walk into a house that's been cast with the pall of death, only this time, he's not an eight-year-old child who can hide from it in his Father's arms. This time, he's a brother – no, a step-brother.
"Courage." Blaine whispers their mantra.
Kurt shudders, but steels himself, setting his jaw as he opens the door and makes his way from the vehicle to the interior of what had once been a home.
He'd been right. It's no longer a home.
His Father crushes him to his chest, and then Carole does the same, but Kurt cannot help wondering, as her tears ruin his favourite McQueen scarf, if there isn't a part of her wishing it had been Burt's son and not hers that had died.
"I'm going to shower" he says. Airplanes are filthy places, and he's still sweaty from dance class. He heads woodenly up the stairs to his bedroom, purposely ignoring the open door and trail of clothes on the floor leading to a room that will never be occupied again. There's a stabbing pain in his chest, and he pushes past and into his bathroom, Blaine trailing gallantly behind with his suitcases.
They end up showering together, somehow falling back into the same routines that have brought him immeasurable comfort over the course of their relationship. They may have broken up, but both had known it could never erase the history between them. It's not about sex, no matter how intimate the touches; Blaine soaps up a loofah and tenderly washes his soul-mate, feeling the knots in his muscles, and the fine trembles running through them. He tries to soothe Kurt, pouring every bit of his love into the gentle touches, his lips sometimes following his hands.
If Kurt's tears mingle silently with the water pouring down, no one knows.
"How are you?" Blaine asks as he dries Kurt, running the soft towel along the pale, toned planes of Kurt's new body. NYADA and dance classes and New York have been kind to him, that's for certain, as he's more gorgeous than ever. It's not just physical, either; Kurt has finally found a place that celebrates who he is, and it's doing wonders to heal all those wounds on his heart.
Kurt blinks. "I have to be okay" he says, voice distant.
"Not with me, you don't" Blaine reminds him softly. He hangs up the towel and grabs Kurt's moisturiser.
"If I let myself fall apart now, I'll never be able to stop" Kurt explains woodenly. His always-expressive eyes are deep pools of agony, welling with grief he will not yet allow himself to feel.
Blaine finishes smoothing on the pomegranate-scented lotion, and wipes his hands on his own body, before washing them carefully. He knows better than to touch Kurt's precious clothes without spotless hands. "Just don't forget to find a time when you can let go" he says quietly, as Kurt picks out a pair of skinny jeans, a black Henley, and a black cardigan with some odd zippers Blaine can't quite figure out. As always, it looks breathtaking on the slim countertenor, even if the skinny jeans aren't quite as tight as they used to be.
"I've done this before" Kurt says, more harshly than he'd intended.
"I know" Blaine nods sadly. He rests a warm hand on Kurt's now-clothed bicep. "And just remember that I'm here, whatever, whenever." He doesn't push, because he knows Kurt doesn't want to let go quite yet. He'll do so later, when they have time, and he'll push all of Kurt's buttons until he lets go, somewhat.
Kurt's eyes are watery again, and he swallows painfully and looks away. "I should help." Last time, he had been largely protected from everything that had needed to be done following a death; this time, he knows his organisational skills will come in handy. And since there's no denying the inevitable, he intends to have a hand in the . . . funeral.
Back downstairs, Carole is alternating between floods of tears, and stoic perseverance. She too has done this before, and he wonders if it gets easier with time, or if knowing how much it will hurt just makes it harder. Feeling a vibration in his pocket, Blaine steps closer to his once-boyfriend and still-lover. "Just got a text from Sam" he says quietly. "The New Directions are all gathering at Artie's. Would you like to go for a while? I'll drive you."
Kurt glances at his parents. He doesn't want to stay here, and yet he does, and he knows he should be there to support Carole. He doesn't know what he wants. He looks towards his parents, and then his eyes fall on a the nerf ball and hoop mounted near the TV that Finn had always played with whilst watching sports, driving his Mom and step-brother crazy, and it hits him like a freight train.
"Oh Gaga" he whispers, his heart clenching painfully. It feels like the wind is once again knocked from his chest, and he wonders how many times this is going to happen. He wonders if he staggers back with the force with which it hits him.
Blaine doesn't say anything, but he reaches out and grasps Kurt's still tightly-clenched fist, smoothing his thumb over the back of Kurt's hand. His hazel eyes follow Kurt's gaze, and the lump in his throat hardens. He too, has spent far too many hours watching football with the Hudmel menfolk, trading off shots with Finn, trying to knock each others' balls out of the air, quickly hiding any evidence when Carole is in the vicinity, their guilty expressions and askew knick-knacks a dead giveaway.
"Not tonight" Kurt whispers, knowing his place is here, at home.
Blaine nods in quiet understanding. "I should go." He feels like an intruder on the family's grief, because for as much as the Hudmels have all but adopted him as their own, both parents remaining certain through everything that Blaine will indeed one day belong to their family, he knows he doesn't, not yet. They need this time together, and he is going to go to Artie's now.
Kurt turns to him, eyes wide. "Blaine."
"No, this is family time" the former Warbler insists, "and I'm not, not really. Not yet." He knows what Kurt had been about to say. "If you need anything, I'm only a text away."
Kurt swallows hard and nods silently.
"And if you change your mind about Artie's, just let me know" Blaine adds, because he doesn't think Kurt should be driving.
Another nod, glasz eyes tragic.
Blaine says a brief goodbye to Burt, hugs Carole, and then shares another long hug with Kurt before slipping out.