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No More Pretending. Chapter 16: Family


A/N: I have a lot of lovely comments from you that I want to answer, and I’m sorry I haven’t gotten to it yet. I’ve just started the process of moving to another apartment and it turns out packing and moving the family after 6 years in the same place is SERIOUSLY time-consuming. Who would have thought? ;)

The next two weeks are going to be a special kind of chaotic mess, so let me thank you for all of your amazing reviews here. You are the sweetest, most wonderful readers I could hope for. Your words make me smile and give me the motivation to write even in the busiest, hardest time. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I really appreciate all of you *hugs*

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The knock on the door comes one week of delirious happiness later.

It’s been a week filled with dates and kisses and sleepovers, with laughter and singing, and a growing understanding that they no longer have a reason to hide. They’ve been found and exposed, and the world didn’t end. They faced the Harbor’s judge and were left free. The knowledge of what they can do now – go to school, maintain actual identities, rekindle old friendships, actually live without a threat over their heads – is making them more giddy and excited with every passing day.

And then the knock comes.

A part of Kurt’s mind, still distrustful of this new happy reality, has been waiting for that knock. It’s past nine p.m., all three of them are here, and there’s no reason for anyone to knock on their door.

And yet.

He can see in Rachel’s eyes that she’s thinking it too: here they come. Here’s where their freedom ends.

There’s another knock, louder this time, impatient, and Blaine unwinds his arm from Kurt’s waist, moving to rise from the couch. “Do you want me to–“

“No, no.” Kurt forces his frozen body to move. “I’ll get it.”

It feels like he’s walking to the gallows, but when he opens the door, it’s nothing like any of the vague threats he’s been envisioning.

“… Mom?”



It takes a long while filled with hugs and tears and more hugs both for Kurt and Rachel, and heartfelt apologies on both sides, before they are able to sit down at the kitchen table with hot tea and actually talk. Blaine has been hiding away in Kurt’s bedroom, unwilling to intrude on their long awaited reunion, but now Kurt grabs his hand and leads him to the table.

“Mom, this is my boyfriend, Blaine.”

His voice doesn’t waver even though there’s a hint of anxiety in his heart. He couldn’t be happier to see his mom, but this is his life now, and he needs her to understand that. He won’t hide anymore, and definitely not from her.

But it turns out he shouldn’t have worried. She reacts exactly like he always hoped she would before the Harbor changed her.

“Oh! It’s lovely to meet you, Blaine. Don’t I know you from somewhere? You look familiar.”

“Yes, ma’am. I was in school with Kurt and Rachel in Lima. You may have seen me during the competition.” Blaine is the very picture of a dapper, charming boy, and Kurt smiles at him fondly.

“Actually,” he ventures on impulse, his new honesty spilling over. “Blaine was… kind of my boyfriend back then, too. In fact, if it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t be here today at all. It would all have ended on that bridge.”

His mom’s eyes instantly fill with tears again. She gets up from her chair and pulls Blaine into a tight hug. “Then I can never thank you enough, dear boy. Thank you for saving my kids when I was too blind to do it myself.”

Blaine is blushing furiously. “You’re very welcome, Mrs. Hummelberry. Though I didn’t actually do anything.”

 “Actually, it’s just Hummel again.” Kurt’s mom smiles sadly after she’s let him go, her eyes flicking to Rachel. “I’m not with the Harbor anymore. I left and moved to Ohio – to Cleveland, in fact. Alone.”

“Is my dad okay?” It explodes out of Rachel at last, her eyes wide and worried.

“Yes, honey. He’s fine. We just… didn’t see eye to eye anymore.” Kurt’s mom sighs and reaches for Rachel’s hand with an expression so apologetic that Kurt immediately has a bad feeling. “After you were gone… your letter, and the performance you left us to watch, it all hit us really hard. It was grief at its worst, made even more painful by the fact that you were the only children and we had lost loved ones before.”

“God, we know–“

“We’re sorry, we just didn’t see any other way–“ Both he and Rachel are crying again, Blaine’s warm hand rubbing soothing circles on Kurt’s back, but his mom shushes them.

“And we should have never let it happen.” She says firmly. “We should have realized how unhappy you were with the decisions we’d made for you. It wasn’t like you’d never let us know. I knew all along that you were both independent bright souls. And I’d suspected Kurt might turn out gay since he was three, though I was always too afraid to acknowledge it, I think. But I just let them brainwash me into believing that they knew better what was good for my kids than I did.” She shakes her head and takes a sip of tea, visibly pained. “They were wrong. And I paid the highest price for my stupidity.”

Kurt reaches for her hand. “But you didn’t. We’re here, we’re fine.”

His mom nods with a watery smile and squeezes his hand hard, as if to make sure it’s real in hers. She draws a shuddery breath before picking up her story.

“The community supported us, of course. They were there for us day and night, but it only made the grieving harder for me. I knew their intentions were good, but what they were all saying... it just drove me mad. They insisted that it wasn’t our fault, that sometimes children make bad decisions and parents can’t be blamed for them. How could I accept it when I knew we were to blame? It’s our job to know our children, to listen to them and care about their happiness, and not impose our own dreams upon them. Of course it was our fault! But Harold’s grief didn’t go that way.”

“You mean… he blamed us?” Rachel’s voice is small, tremulous. She sounds like that lost little girl Kurt once knew. His mom looks at her apologetically.

“I’m afraid so, honey. He became even stricter in following the rules, and you know he’d always been pretty… radical in this regard. He hammered his pain into devotion to the cause, going so far as applying to join the Council. He started spending all his free time lecturing parents about the necessity of strict parenting or preaching to children about the consequences of disobedience. You can imagine that our outlooks didn’t exactly work together.” She sighs and Rachel bites her lip, upset.

“So you split?” Kurt asks.

“Not at first. We tried, we really did. We didn’t have anything outside of the community any longer, after all. But in the end, I couldn’t stand it anymore. It was all so wrong, so barbaric when I knew to look at it from your side. So I left. Six months after they told us you took your own lives, I left Harold and the Harbor. I never looked back. I’ve been working at a group home ever since, trying to fill the hole in my life, taking care of children that are still there to love.”

“So how did you know about us? Did the Haunt – I mean, Mister Harris – pay you a visit, too?” Kurt asks.

She laughs. “The Haunt? Oh, I like that, it really does him justice. But no. Harold called me this morning. He said that he owed me this much for all the good years. He gave me the address and told me you were found alive. I caught the first plane I could. God, I still can’t believe you’re actually here.” Her eyes fill with tears again and Blaine grabs a box of tissues and passes it to her.

Kurt knows Rachel well enough to realize that she won’t ask this last question herself, too afraid to hear the answer. But it has to be asked.

“Won’t he come to see us?”

He can read the answer on his mom’s face instantly. “I… I’m sorry. Rachel, honey, I swear I tried to convince him to come here with me, but he said he can’t. See, Mister Harris told him everything he’d learned about your life these last two years. About Kurt having a boyfriend and about your… trouble.”

“You mean my abortion,” Rachel clarifies, clearly beyond caring about decorum now. “He learned that I got pregnant and that I chose not to have the baby. And he decided that I’m unworthy to be his daughter anymore, didn’t he?”

“Rachel–“ Kurt’s mom says gently.

Didn’t he?” Rachel shouts.

“I’m afraid so. I’m sure he’ll come to his senses eventually, it must have been a shock, and you know he never took kindly to–“

But Rachel is up and off to her bedroom already, the curtain fluttering furiously where she yanked at it. Kurt’s mom stands up to follow her, worry etched into her face, but Kurt touches her hand.

“Don’t. She won’t let you comfort her. She needs time to get it all out by herself first. I’ll be here for her later, when she’s ready.”

She nods, still worried. “God, I’m so sorry,” she whispers. “I knew Harold was always overenthusiastic about every stupid rule, but I was sure when it came to Rachel, it was different. He loved her like crazy. And now the poor girl lost not only her mother, but her father too. I wish I could help her somehow. She’s like a daughter to me, but I know it’s not the same.“

An idea strikes Kurt suddenly. “Actually, I think you can help. Do you happen to know the maiden name of Rachel’s mom? I’m sure she’s out there somewhere, and in case Rach wanted to seek her out… We tried looking her up on the internet several years ago, but Shelby Berry didn’t give us any results.”

“Oh, that’s because she was never married.” His mom says, shaking her head. “They were engaged, and planning the wedding for when Rachel was a little older, but she left before that. She’s an actress now, as far as I know. Shelby Corcoran, I think.”

They talk for a few more hours, catching up, sharing their stories, but when it gets late, Kurt’s mom reluctantly stands up to leave. Thank god she’s staying in New York for a few days because Kurt honestly doesn’t think he could let her go otherwise. She has a hotel room booked, and since it’s not far from the dorms, Blaine decides to go with her to make sure she gets there safely – a sentiment that fills Kurt’s heart with such a wave of affection he could burst. They will all meet for lunch tomorrow, and Kurt is going to use up every favor he has with his coworkers to get at least one day free, maybe even two, and enjoy having a mom he can talk to and spend time with the way he remembers fondly when he was a child.

As Kurt bids them goodnight, kissing Blaine sweetly right in front of his mom, he still can’t believe how lucky he is to have her back in his life.

But he can’t help but hurt for Rachel, too.



It takes weeks to pull Rachel out of the gloomy numbness and convince her to look up her mom. Yes, Kurt could have done it himself – his fingers itched to enter her name in the search engine more than once when he heard Rachel cry herself to sleep yet again, or saw the sadness that seemed to be her constant companion now. But he wants her to do it herself when she is ready.

“But she doesn’t want anything to do with me!” Rachel argues every time he tries. “She never answered any of my letters, not one. She never contacted us at all after she left. She doesn’t care. How can I just go looking for her? And what if I find her somewhere? Should I just send her a Facebook invitation with relationship: daughter?”

But Kurt is patient in his gentle insistence, and finally, one afternoon in May, Rachel tries. “Just to see if she is out there,” she declares.

What they find is enough to shake Rachel out of her melancholy for good.

Shelby Corcoran turns out to be an acclaimed off-Broadway actress with several praised roles to her name. She looks like an older version of Rachel, with the same long dark hair, petite frame and strong features. Once she looks, Rachel can’t stop staring.

There’s a schedule of Ms. Corcoran’s shows easily available online, and it only takes two days before Rachel can’t stand it any longer and goes to the theater at the end of a matinee. She says she just wants to look at her mom as a normal person, out of the costume and the stage make up, see her real face, her body language, the way she talks to fans.

“Do you want me to go with you?” Kurt asks, but she shakes her head.

“No. I need to do it by myself. I’m only looking from a distance anyway.”



When she comes home five hours later, it’s clear she hasn’t just been looking from a distance.

She’s beaming, so high on excitement it can barely be contained by her tiny body, and Kurt puts away the book he’s been reading, raises an eyebrow and asks the obvious.

“You talked to her, didn’t you?”

Yes!” Rachel squeals, literally dancing around the living room. “Kurt, she recognized me. She saw me standing to the side and just… froze, as if she saw a ghost. And then she left the fans, the autographs, and came over and said my name in this very quiet voice, Rachel? It was like magic. She hasn’t seen me in nineteen years and she recognized me.”

Kurt cocks his head. “Really? She never even Googled you? There are a few pictures and videos from performances online.”

Rachel rolls her eyes and flops on the armchair. “Spoilsport. Yes, she told me later that she did. But in that moment, it felt like a fairytale.”

“It must have been wonderful.” He smiles, well aware of her soft spot for fairytale moments. “So, did you two talk? Did she tell you why she never contacted you?”

“She did.” Rachel’s face grows solemn. “I mean, she did tell me, and she did contact me. Well, tried to.” There’s anger flashing in her eyes now and she pulls her knees to her chest, curls in on herself. “We talked in her dressing room for hours. She told me that she’d sent me dozens of letters. In those first years, she used to call, or send me gifts. I remember the things she said she’d sent me from my childhood, I had gotten them. I’d just never known they were from her. My dad had never given me any of her letters, even the one she’d left for me when she disappeared.”

“Oh Rachel…” Kurt’s dislike of her father, a thing that has always been there to some degree, flares rapidly.

“And when I was five, he told her not to write to me anymore, said it was upsetting me when she did. Like I even knew. He said she’d walked out on our family, and she’s not allowed to intrude on our lives anymore. So she stopped. But she never stopped thinking of me, Kurt, or writing me letters, she just never sent them anymore. And she wanted to seek me out when I was eighteen, only…” Fat tears are flowing down Rachel’s cheeks now.

“Only she learned that you were dead.” Kurt finishes for her. “Oh god. Did your father tell her?”

She lets out an angry hiss. “He sent an email to her theater address, telling her that I killed myself. On the day of my birthday, Kurt! No reason why, no explanation of the situation, not a word of the Harbor. She didn’t even know I’d grown up there, just that I’d had a stepmother. The way he told her suggested that I’d turned out bad, crooked, because I’d grown up without a mother.”

“That bastard–“ Kurt can’t stop himself. “I’m sorry, Rachel, but your father is a fucking… I don’t even have words.”

“I know,” she whispers. They sit in silence, because what can you say when the whole reality of someone’s life changes like that? Kurt can’t even imagine it, every childhood memory tainted with a knowledge like this. Eventually though, he asks carefully.

“So where do you stand with your mom now? Does she want you back in her life on a more regular basis now that you two live in the same city? Or–“

That gets Rachel beaming again.

“Oh, yes! She wanted me to come home with her. We have so much more to talk about! But she had another performance this evening, so we decided to spend the whole day together tomorrow instead. She very much wants to be a mom to me and it feels a little weird when I only met her today. She’s basically a stranger, but… I want to try. I’ve never really had a mom.” She catches herself. “Not that I don’t love yours, but–“

“I know,” Kurt says. No one can replace his dad in his heart either. He understands.


xXxXx


Blaine’s parents look cramped, trying to fit together in the tiny frame of the webcam. Usually he gets one or the other when he Skypes with them, but today he asked them both to be there.

“So what’s up, son?” His dad asks, always the one to get right to the chase. “Everything all right at school?”

Blaine smiles. “Yes, everything’s fine. I just wanted to tell you that – well, there’s someone special in my life. I have a boyfriend.”

He carefully studies the grainy picture for any look of surprise or disappointment, but he finds none. There are just smiles, delighted, happy for him.

“That’s wonderful, baby,” his mom exclaims. “Tell us more about him.”

“His name is Kurt. We’ve been together for over a month now and I… I love him,” he finishes softly, still awed with the force of that feeling.

His father frowns. “Kurt. Wasn’t that the name of the boy in your junior year? The one who died?”

“Yes. Actually – turned out he didn’t really die.“

He tells them the highlights of their story, feeling like he finally can. Kurt and Rachel are no longer hiding the truth from anyone who has a reason to know. And Blaine wants his parents to know and love Kurt. Because he’s hoping to have this boy by his side for a very long time.

His mom starts crying halfway through his story. Even his dad is clearing his throat the way he does when he’s moved and tries not to show it. Blaine finishes talking and looks at them earnestly.

“I wanted you to know because Kurt is very special to me. He was back in high school, and he is now, and I hope he’s going to be one of the most important people in my life for many, many years. And your thoughts and opinions matter to me, so–“

“Bring the boy home with you when you come next month,” his dad says. Next to him, his mom is nodding.

“Yes, bring him over to stay with us. Sounds like he could use a vacation and some coddling, the poor thing. Tell him it’s doctor’s orders if necessary.”

Blaine ends the connection with happy tears in his eyes.

xXxXx

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Chapter art:        Blame

Chapter songs: Guilty by Marina and The Diamonds

                                For Once in My Life by Stevie Wonder, cover by the Glee cast

The epilogue will be posted tomorrow (Thursday, Oct 24).

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
such_a_steph
Oct. 23rd, 2013 11:51 pm (UTC)
This chapter felt like the beautiful colourful wrapping to your gift of a story. Can't wait to see what delights await us when you tie it all up perfectly in a ribbon with the epilogue.
bluenyke
Oct. 24th, 2013 03:05 am (UTC)
This past few days I been reading Let Play Pretend and continue with this..this is a very beautiful story..I really love this..they journey are very well written, I enjoy it so much..Thanks to you I get another few days disconnected from real world..(I tend to dive into your world of words and leaving behind this world..hehe)..
And enjoy your day of packing and moving cause I really understand it, because I just moved out from an apartment also after 6 years two month ago..hehe..
And I hopping that there will be new stories from you in future..
musik19
Oct. 24th, 2013 04:43 am (UTC)
i'm so happy for kurt and rachel to have more family in their lives. and for blaine to finally be able to talk to his parents about kurt. <33333

lovesrabbits
Oct. 24th, 2013 02:26 pm (UTC)
Family in more ways than one.
What a beautiful chapter. Pretty much brings all family ties together. I am so happy that Blaine has opened up to his own parents and they've finally done the same in return. Blood ties for both Rachel and Kurt; commitment between Kurt and Blaine. A happy Rachel! The Haunt being the human I believed him to be. Just perfect.
mugglegato
Oct. 25th, 2013 05:28 am (UTC)
Oh wow such a happy chapter. It was sorely needed after so much angst. :)
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )