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Interlude: Burt

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Burt Hummel hadn’t really known what to expect from Kurt’s first day of high school. He’d watched for three years of middle school, as Kurt mentioned fewer and fewer classmates, and Kurt’s iPhone screen rarely had texts or anything from any friends. Burt had worried all summer, actually, that high school would be more of the same and worse, Kurt feeling even more isolated. He’d still optimistically told Kurt to call him when he needed picked up; maybe Kurt would make a friend or join an after-school club. Still, Burt had been surprised when it had been well after school hours before Kurt called, and when Burt pulled up at McKinley, Kurt had been wearing a smile.

Burt had gone through the questions he’d planned: how were Kurt’s classes, did he make any new friends, pretty typical questions. He’d hoped for a positive answer to the question about new friends, but he hadn’t really expected Kurt’s excited response. Not just one, either, but three: Finn, Mercedes, and Puck.

After Kurt heads downstairs for the evening, Burt goes into his own bedroom, looking at the picture of Kurt and his mom that he keeps on the bedside table. “I don’t know,” he says out loud into the empty room. “It’s real sad that I’m afraid it’s all a trick.” Even if Kurt’s done his best to pretend otherwise, Burt knows that his son’s gay, and he knows how much Kurt doesn’t really fit in, not in Lima. Maybe these guys that are on the football team really are Kurt’s friends, but Burt doesn’t want to give anyone too much credit. Still uneasy, Burt decides all he can really do is wait and see what plays out.

On Tuesday, Burt heads home without a call from Kurt, and he’s tempted to call and check on him. He doesn’t, though, just calmly pulls out the organic frozen dinners that Kurt insisted they substitute for regular frozen dinners. Eventually, he hears a key in the front door, and the sound of a car pulling away, and Kurt comes in, not even waiting for Burt to ask a question before he starts talking.

Kurt explains how he got home, then that the reason he was at school so late was football practice, and Burt’s about to wonder what that’s supposed to mean when Kurt gives him the most surprising news of all.

Burt’s son has joined the football team.

Burt tries not to look too surprised, but that’s the absolute last thing he ever expected Kurt to say. When he realizes Kurt’s the kicker, that’s a little less surprising, at least. Kurt details how Finn and Puck convinced him to join the team, and how Mercedes is going to join the Cheerios, so they can all go to away games together, and Burt nods at the appropriate points.

Once he sits in front of the television, watching some kind of crime show, he lets his mind go back over everything Kurt’s told him. If everything is on the level, it’s far better than even his greatest hopes for his boy. A place on a team, a group of closer friends, and no apparent fear of bullies.

But if Burt’s learned one thing in his life, it’s that the chances of it being on the level are low. Burt can’t figure out how the girl, Mercedes, plays into any of it, but he’s plenty afraid that Finn and Puck, at least, are masterminding a long elaborate prank. More elaborate than Kurt would ever give the ‘Neanderthals’ credit for, definitely, but a prank regardless. And it hurts Burt, more than he ever expected anything to hurt. He hates the idea of Kurt being hurt and of finding out too late that he put his trust in the wrong hands.

If Burt’s being honest, though, he knows he doesn’t have enough trust from Kurt to warn him. Kurt’s hiding that he’s gay, and Burt’s been surprised by the openness that Kurt’s displayed so far. Burt doesn’t really think it’ll last, and he guesses he’s the one to blame for that. Either way, he can’t see any way that he can warn Kurt. The best case scenario, if he tried, would be being able to say ‘I told you so’, and that doesn’t hold any satisfaction. No, the best Burt can do is be prepared for the inevitable fallout.

Things get weirder on Wednesday, though. Before Kurt leaves for school, he tells Burt that he’s getting a ride home from Finn’s mom, and there’s a weird expression on his face about that, one that Burt can’t read at all. Burt goes to work and decides to make sure he’s home before Kurt. Instead of frozen dinners, he goes to Ray’s and gets one of the precooked chickens and the potato salad Kurt likes, plus a few bags of ‘mixed greens’.

This time when Kurt gets home, a woman walks up to the door with him, and Burt looks past her to try to catch a look at Finn and Puck. He can’t really make them out, though, not without being rude, and instead he introduces himself to Carole Hudson, who looks familiar, like she might have passed through the shop.

She tells Burt how it’s no problem for Kurt to be dropped off, that they understand the perils of single parenting, and before she leaves, she hands him a piece of paper with two numbers written on it, names beside them, and Burt tucks it carefully into his shirt pocket and thanks her. Carole says she supposes she’ll see Burt at the first football game, if they don’t get a chance to talk much before then, and Burt smiles, raising a hand in farewell before shutting the door and listening to Kurt moving around in the kitchen.

Days pass, and Kurt still comes home in far better moods than Burt can remember for years in the past. Whatever prank is coming, Burt’s afraid it’s going to hurt even worse as the days become a week and then two. He still hasn’t met any of them, Mercedes or Finn or Puck, and he’s starting to look forward to the first football game for a lot of reasons. One of them is so he can finally size up these three people who have gotten past Kurt’s reserve and become, at least in Kurt’s view, Kurt’s good friends.