Title: One Fine Evening
Characters: Kurt, Burt
Word Count: 1488
Summary: Some nights are lonelier than others. When his dad is working late, Kurt keeps himself occupied, and he tries to be good. He does.
The house was silent. Danni McAllister from down the block was supposed to be around, but her boyfriend had come by, and they went off in his loud car.
Kurt locked the door behind her and hoped she wouldn’t come back. He sat in the middle of the sofa, swinging his legs. He wasn’t supposed to have the TV on for more than three hours, even if he’d finished his homework, and he had already done both, so he just sat there quietly. Waiting. Waiting.
A car drove by. He perked up, his heart racing. The car passed.
Even now his body betrayed him, still reacting as though his mom was coming home. His brain knew better. He pulled his legs up to his chest and wrapped his arms around them and shoved his face into his knees. She was never coming home again.
No bright, shining smile as she opened the door. No auburn hair, framing her face as it fell out of her ponytail.
Kurt stared at the dark screen. He jumped up and ran into his parents’ bedroom. He crawled under the dresser and rolled onto his back, just breathing in and out and letting the scent of his mother calm him.
Time slipped by unheeded. He grew hungry, and he grew cold. But he didn’t want to leave his spot and be alone again. He curled up on his side, stubbornly.
The phone began to ring, Kurt didn’t move. It kept ringing, ringing. It stopped. He closed his eyes tight. When it began to ring again, he crawled out on his hands and knees, grabbed one of his dad’s flannel shirts from inside the dresser, wrapped it around his shoulders, and then hopped up onto the bed to answer the phone.
“Kurt!” his dad said. “Hey, kiddo. Worried me for a sec, there. Is everything okay at home?”
What a weird question.
“Hey, I’m gonna be late tonight. Gotta get everything tied up at the shop here. Will you be fine on your own for an hour or two?”
“I’ll be fine.”
“Tell Danni what kinda pizza you want. I gave her the money.”
Danni probably took it with her. Kurt cuddled up in his dad’s shirt.
“When... When are you coming <I>home</I>?”
“It’ll be dark out,” Burt said apologetically. “Danni said she could stay until eight, so tell
‘er to stick around, and I’ll pay her the next time I see her. I won’t be much later than that.”
Kurt tucked his knees up. “Okay.”
“Hey, don’t sound so bummed. I won’t be that long. I’m sorry I gotta work so much right now.”
It wasn’t that much more work. Kurt got that. It was just that mom would always be there with him when his dad had to work. But that was before.
“It’s okay,” Kurt murmured. He pulled the collar of the shirt over his head. “I’m fine here.”
“We’ll do somethin’ this weekend. Promise.”
Kurt said nothing. He just listened to his dad breathing.
“Sorry. I gotta get back to work. Listen, don’t stay up. Go on and get in bed, an’ if you can’t sleep, read somethin’ or listen to that CD your mo- the CD you got for Christmas, and I’ll come in to tuck you in.” His dad sounded like he was trying so hard. “How’s that sound?”
“Maybe I’ll stay up and wear mom’s heels and watch TV and have ice cream for dinner, and then jump in bed when the car comes in the driveway,” Kurt said, jumbling the words together. “You don’t know. Maybe I’ll do that.”
Burt laughed. “Be good, kid!”
Kurt laughed a little, too. He had to let his dad go, then. Since there would be no pizza, he put on one of his mom’s tiaras, and wandered into the kitchen to make himself something.
Most stuff was out of his reach. So he pulled a chair over to the cupboard and climbed up on it, legs a little wobbly and uncertain, and searched around for something he could make that wouldn’t make his dad mad from the mess. He grabbed a box of mac and cheese and hopped down from the stool. He was very careful not to get stuff on his dad’s shirt, and he poked some hot dogs around in a pan, too until they weren’t too pink anymore. Then when it was all done, he chopped the dogs up and put them in his bowl of mac and cheese, and went into the living room to eat in front of the TV.
But he didn’t watch a show. He put in Beauty and the Beast, and paused and played back the songs a bunch of times so he didn’t miss singing along through his bites of macaroni and hot dog bits.
He cleaned up the mess in the kitchen on his own. Then he came bounding back out into the living room, and watched Beauty and the Beast again, with his legs curled up under him and his chin in his hands.
7:00pm came and went. 8:00pm followed nicely. Kurt knew he should get in bed, but he wanted to see his dad before he went to sleep, and what if he didn’t, and his dad didn’t come back?
9:00pm, and his dad was still not home. Kurt kept going up to the windows to peek out, hoping the car would pull up just then, and then his dad would fuss at him for staying up, because he was supposed to have been joking, before.
It was almost ten when Kurt went back into his parents’ room. His eyes kept closing without his permission, and his head hurt. He climbed into the bed and grabbed a pillow, squeezing it to his chest.
Then he pulled off the flannel shirt he’d been wearing around the house and stuffed the pillow inside. He snuggled down under the covers and tucked the pillow around him. The shirt was still warm from where it had been on his body. It smelled like his dad, too, a little. Not as strong like his mom’s perfume, but that would be gross.
Kurt didn’t want to sleep until his dad got home, but his eyelids were so heavy. He should go to his room, like he was supposed to. He should be good, and not worry his dad. He should take care of himself, because his dad had so much to worry about. Kurt saw how heavy everything was on his dad’s shoulders. He didn’t need anything extra.
Slowly, but still holding the pillow-shirt tightly, Kurt snuck back to his room and curled up with it there, hiding it under the covers with him. For a minute, it felt good.
Then he started to sniffle, clinging to the pillow and shaking a little. His muffled whimpers were the only sound in the house. His body gave in to exhaustion, taking him deep down into a troubled sleep.
His father’s hand woke him. Big, calloused, strong, rubbing over his back. Kurt didn’t open his eyes at first. He just curled up tighter.
Kurt lifted his head and blinked at his father. “I left... some macaroni an’ hot dogs in the fridge for you.”
“Aw. You guys made me dinner? Thanks.” His dad squeezed his shoulder. He lifted the tiara off Kurt’s head and set it on the nightstand. “Why don’t’cha get back to sleep?”
Kurt closed his eyes as his dad combed his fingers through his hair. “I’m sorry, Dad.”
“I watched more’n three hours of TV. But it was the same movie. I was just singing the songs.”
“Aw. Hey, that’s okay. You went to bed on time.”
“I didn’t, either.”
Burt pressed his lips together, and he looked away. He didn’t speak for a minute, bit his lower lip, and then looked back at him. “You always gotta tell on yourself, huh?”
“And I wore mom’s tiara.”
“Y’warned me about the dress up, though. I didn’t say no. Just...” Burt leaned over and kissed Kurt’s head and touched his fingers under his chin. “Just don’t go out wearin’ that stuff, okay? Keep it in the house. Promise?”
Kurt heaved a soft sigh. “I promise.”
“Now, get back to sleep, huh? I gotta get you to school on time, or your principal's gonna start shakin’ me down again. Then your grandma’ll try to visit, and no one wants that.”
Kurt scrunched up his nose at the thought. He laid his head back and just stared up at his father.
“You need anything?”
Kurt squeezed the pillow under his covers. “No. No, Dad, I’m fine.”
“I try t’be!”
Burt chuckled. “See ya in the mornin’.”
When his father left his room, Kurt snuck under the covers again and pulled the arm of his father’s shirt around his shoulder, and pressed his little body into the pillow.
If his dad ever knew that his shirt or pillow were missing, he never said a word.