wordplay: (Glee - Kurt has an ILOVEYOU face)
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OK, so I NEVER post fic here, but this is Hummel gen and I think it might be the kind of thing that anybody who's watched the show might enjoy, so what the hell. A warning that I have been crying over this stupid little story for something like 3 days; I tried very hard to avoid being too emotionally manipulative but it's... it's pretty sad. Mostly I just had to get it out. :)) (AND I AM SORRY IT'S SONGFICCY. I know, but... it was a thing. Sue me.)

Title: Kitchen Stories
Rating: G
Word Count: around 1700
Summary: On the day they move, Burt and Kurt stay behind to clean out the old house.

For [livejournal.com profile] misscake, who I've kept weepy right along with me while I worked out how to best unfold this scene, and with many thanks to [livejournal.com profile] aelora who served valiantly as on-the-nose-o-meter. This song has been stuck in my head for weeks now - should be obvious, but if you don't recognize it let me know. :)




Kitchen Stories

"I think that's just about it," Burt says, wiping his hands on a rag and shoving it in his pocket as he steps into the kitchen. Kurt is at the sink, rinsing out a few rags and a bucket and singing along to the tinny oldies music coming from his iPhone. Burt leans into the doorjamb, watching Kurt as he gives the bucket one last once-over, turns off the water and strips off his rubber gloves.

Burt knows he's feeling sentimental, but he's been living in this house for almost twenty years now, and letting it go is turning out to be harder than he'd thought it would be. The last year had been among the happiest of those years. Falling in love again had been an unlooked-for surprise, but he was dead serious at the wedding - bringing Carole into this house with him had brought in so much life. Even so, he's glad to be here with Kurt, just two of the last original Hummels, to share this last little bit of time in this place where for so long it had been just the two of them.

Kurt's leaning against the sink now, wrapping his arms around himself and casting a critical eye at the corners of the floor. The football team had moved all their stuff out bright and early that morning and Carole's been over at the new house all day, making up beds and pulling things out of boxes and getting the kitchen set up, and Finn left about 15 minutes ago to return the rental truck and then pick up a bucket of KFC for dinner before driving over to pick them up. Kurt had argued for cooking or at least just throwing together salads, but Carole had pleaded for just one more day with the new kitchen as perfect as it could be and Kurt had pulled a face and agreed as long as Finn got grilled chicken instead of fried.

Burt crosses to the refrigerator that they'd sold with the house (young couples need everything, and the new one he and Carole had picked out at Lowe's is fancy as hell) and pulls out two bottles - one beer, and one diet Coke - and gestures to the wall by the door. "We're done here. Have a seat - let's take a load off before Finn's back. Carole's gonna have us working all night, I'm pretty sure."

He shuffles back to the wall and settles down against it, his knees creaking as he stretches his legs out and Kurt just slides down to sit beside him, his arms still wrapped around him. "You all right?" he asks, cracking open his beer while Kurt twists the top off his bottle.

"Yeah. Yeah, Dad, I'm fine. It just feels weird - it's so empty."

Burt just grunts. "Yeah. Good weird, though, right? Your new room - that's really gonna be something."

Kurt just smiles, a little sad but he gets it, and says, "Oh, it's going to be amazing-" and later Burt will think they would have been all right if the song hadn't changed over, if that guitar line hadn't started in all sweet and slightly dragging, because that was the moment that Kurt had stopped talking, stopped thinking about his new room and gone just a little bit misty-eyed.

"Lotta memories in this old house," Burt says, and if his voice is thick with the emotion clogging up his throat - well, that's okay.

"She liked this song," Kurt says, and Burt knows exactly what he's getting at, because when he lets himself really remember Jenny, he remembers a lot of things - how sweet she'd looked the first morning they'd woken up together and he knew he wanted to wake up beside her every morning for the rest of his life; how she laughed and threw popcorn at the TV when somebody said something stupid; how irritable and scared she was when she couldn't get Kurt to nurse right - but in that list was Jenny in this kitchen, bathing Kurt in the sink and throwing together a late supper and dancing, making him dance every single time this song came on the radio, because she thought it was sad but she also thought it was romantic and she liked to sing along.

They listen for a couple minutes, just content to sit there in the fading afternoon and remember, and Kurt leans toward him a little bit to rest his head against his shoulder. Whenever Jenny had pulled Burt into a dance, Kurt had always smiled and clapped his little hands, begging to be picked up and pulled into it with them. Jenny would laugh and say, "you want in too, baby? You got it!" and swoop him up to rest against her hip, and he'd put his head on her shoulder and stare at Burt. Jenny would kiss him on the top of the head and her eyes would crinkle at the edges over Kurt's fine hair and Burt would wink at Kurt and rest his broad hand on his tiny back and say, "You like dancing with your mom, kid? You're a lucky man," and pull his whole world just a little bit tighter into his arms. It's a good memory.

And then Neil Young sweeps into the chorus with Because I'm still in love with you, I want to see you dance again and he hasn't thought about this song in years and even then it's not like the words had ever been really special to him, but right then it feels like she's right there and the words hit him in the gut. Burt's a vaguely religious man, and he really does think that Jenny is still out there somewhere, somewhere like heaven where things are easy and she can rest and laugh and watch out for Kurt, who she'd loved so damned much. But he's not all that woo-woo, either, and it's not like he thinks this is really Jenny talking to him, but for a minute he wishes it were, hopes that it is.

And so when Kurt turns and looks up at him, his eyes wet and vulnerable, just like that kid who'd fallen off of his bike, and says, "This really is such a touching song; it's too bad his voice is so-" he breaks off, his eyes widening, at what Burt can only imagine is the look on his face. "Dad? Are you - oh, dad," he says, and then Burt is wrapped in the kind of hug he's only had from Kurt a few times since he'd started high school - fierce and tight and the way he'd hugged him when he was a little boy, especially just after Jenny had died, like he was everything important and Kurt couldn't bear to let go.

Kurt's shoulders are shaking and his breathing is a little bit uneven, and Burt sighs and puts down his beer and hugs him back. The new house is great, but they're giving up a lot moving out of here, and if he'd had a minute he probably would have thought about it. But between the wedding and the Karofsky kid and getting Kurt into Dalton, he's been so focused on getting to the next thing and there hasn't been a chance to look back, only forward, and so now it's hitting both of them at the exact same time.

And there's nothing to say, really - no comfort he can give Kurt or himself that isn't just about what they're doing right now, so he just tries to rock him a little bit, like Jenny used to, only it's a hell of a lot more awkward now that Kurt is so tall and they're sitting at this weird angle, and Kurt quiets and when the song changes he snorts out a giggle and pulls back with "god, no wonder you're a terrible dancer - you have no rhythm" and wipes at his eyes.

And Burt can only be grateful that neither one of them has broken down into hysterics. "I keep telling you, kid - I got great moves," and he pulls the rag out of his pocket and wipes his face with it, offering it to Kurt who looks at him like he's nuts and stupid and, yeah, that probably was kind of disgusting, but the point stands: "Your dad is a natural."

Kurt just smiles at him and says, "Yes he is," and that's when Finn pulls into the driveway and blows the horn in three short beeps.

Kurt scrambles up and back, reaching down to hoist him up and then turning to grab the bucket from by the sink - he's moving so quickly that Burt has to say "hey" and stop him with a hand on his forearm and pull him into another hug - short, strong, what Finn would call a 'bro hug' but Burt hopes that Kurt knows it means "thanks," and the smile on his face lets him know that he probably does. Kurt turns off the music and slips his phone in his pocket and Burt chugs the rest of his beer and throws the bottle into the bucket before he grabs it. With a last flurry of coats and turning off lights, they're at the front door.

He knows that later he'll be glad for that moment in the kitchen, knows that one day Kurt will move away from their new house, too, and that memories are all you ever have left. For now, though, his heart breaks a little as Kurt pauses at the door and looks back around the house and whispers, "bye". He follows him and shuts the door behind them (the door he'd carried two women and one baby boy through) and walks out into the Ohio snow. Time to go home.

***

Looks like I need a Burt Hummel icon, because I am IN. LOVE. with writing for him.
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