As per usual, I couldn't think of a title, so I went to this random title generator, which suggested things like The Wet Pirates, No Serpents, and The Elves of the Alien. Heh. It was worth a shot.
Title: Improper Methods
Warning: Here be incest.
Disclaimer: Don’t own ’em, making no profit off ’em, etc.
Word Count: 2,661
Summary: They have to be there for each other because there isn't anyone else left.
Notes: PLEASE NOTE THE PAIRING. Spoilers for Grilled Cheesus. Inspired by this prompt from the glee_kink_meme.
“Talk with your cardiologist, take your beta blockers, and when you get a chance, read through this and put a sticker by any recipes you want to try.”
With a grave expression, Kurt sets a sheet of sparkly heart stickers on top of whatever cookbook he's determined to ransack this time. “Remember, takeout is not an option. And when I get home from glee, we're going for a walk.”
“I'm not your poodle,” Burt protests, squinting to try and figure out whether the image on the cover of that book features grilled chicken or grilled tofu.
“You're my dad,” Kurt says, all earnestness. “But I think poodles complain less.”
It isn't that bad, having his son doctoring him, even though Kurt can go a little overboard with it. Burt can tell he's trying not to seem overbearing, so he goes along with it when Kurt pencils in things like walks and catch and other small things to keep him moving without overwhelming his system. Nothing too strenuous. Kurt tells him it's important not to let stress get the better of him, as if that's not something the doctors have already made very clear.
Even so, Kurt seems determined to be everything his father will ever need. His son is like his mother was, strong-minded and daring despite the odds. Kurt actually does own sensible heels now and it's only a little strange to peek into his room to ask about dinner and find him working on his runway walk in them.
“Am I interrupting your modeling career?”
Which results in Kurt going crimson, stepping out of his shoes and lamenting his height. “If I looked like Mike Chang, maybe I'd have a fighting chance.” He looks up at Burt, still standing on the stairs. “Will you hate me if I cook something that has broccoli as a key ingredient?”
“I've learned that flavor is supposed to be irrelevant when you're old.”
Usually, Kurt's been the one who handles the cooking because Burt can't be bothered to learn what's organic and what isn't and Kurt sees it as good practice for when he goes off to college and has to forage for sustenance. Kurt goes sweeping up the stairs with his nose in the air and Burt's reminded of how he'd been after his sixth-grade wood shop class finished that particular unit and moved onto the culinary unit. They'd had variations on grilled cheese for a week, Kurt glowing with self-satisfaction all the while, and Burt hadn't been callous enough to criticize the menu.
He would kill for a grilled cheese sandwich now. Even with fat-free cheese. Maybe he should mention that.
“Broccoli,” Kurt informs him, “is very easy to imbue with flavor. And it's full of vitamins. You're all I have and I'm not going to endanger that.”
His back is turned when he says it and Burt freezes. “I trust you.”
At least he's letting him eat at the table sometimes. Judging by the look Kurt levels him with, the same look his mother would always assume when she really meant business, this is not going to be one of those times. “Sit, unless you want to dice onions.”
Kurt finishes making dinner in time for them to catch a Mad Men rerun, which is one of the few shows they can watch together, since Burt thinks Joan Holloway has a fabulous set of knockers and Kurt thinks she has a fabulous wardrobe. It happens to be the season finale and Kurt ends up discreetly wiping his eyes even though he's already seen it. Lately, in addition to laying blankets over him when he falls asleep on the couch, Kurt's taken to curling up against him for a little while, and Burt's woken up more than once with Kurt's head on his shoulder or in his lap. It's not a surprise when Kurt sets aside his half-finished plate of broccoli and chicken and goes about tucking himself up to Burt's side. Burt lets him, putting an arm around his shoulders, even trying to ruffle his hair, but it's too stiff from the hairspray and Kurt whines at him to stop, which breaks the somber mood. Burt gives him a quick kiss on the head instead, which goes over well enough. Even out of the corner of his eye, he can see the pinkness in Kurt's cheeks.
“Game night's coming up, right? How about we have Finn and Carole over and try it again?”
And Burt knows a bunch of stores at the mall are having some kind of seasonal sale then, since they've been getting mailers about it for days now, but Kurt doesn't hesitate when he answers. “Sure, if that's what you want."
He picks up the plates, pointedly eying Burt's unfinished glass of milk until Burt grunts and drains it. “Things are okay with me and Finn now,” he adds on his way to the dishwasher. “You don't have to worry about that. You don't have to worry about anything.”
In Burt's opinion, Kurt's been worrying enough for both of them. The refrigerator is covered with sticky notes listing what's okay to eat and what isn't. The desktop background on his computer has mysteriously been changed to his medication schedule, complete with a sidebar listing his follow-up appointments. Burt's starting to feel like he's under government surveillance, but he can't hold it against Kurt for trying to help. And he really can make broccoli edible.
When Kurt comes in to say goodnight while he's reading in bed, Burt can tell he's checking up on him even though he's obviously trying to be casual about it. Kurt is so wary of leaving him alone, like Burt's going to keel over if he doesn't keep an eye on him, and Burt promises he's taken his medicine and doesn't plan on doing anything in the night except sleeping.
Since Kurt doesn't seem to want to go even then, Burt fixes him with his best look of paternal exasperation. “I need you to calm down.” All these things he's been doing, slipping meditation DVDs onto their Netflix account, promising to help more in the shop, saying Burt needs to take better care of himself before something else lands him in the hospital, and Burt humors him because he knows Kurt's only pushing him because he cares. And because he's terrified. Kurt clearly doesn't want to think about what might happen if he loses him, and Burt doesn't want to think about that either.
“You know,” Kurt says, “I'm sure there's a correlation between Dan Brown novels and heart conditions.”
Burt mimes throwing the book at him and Kurt leaves smiling.
Waking up to see Kurt standing over him is another story. Namely, it scares the absolute hell out of him. “Jesus. What is it?”
Kurt is pale, his mouth opening mutely as if the words are caught in his chest, and Burt is ready to snap that this really isn't going to help keep his heart rate down when Kurt says, quietly, “I couldn't tell if you were breathing.”
Burt's throat seizes up.
“I needed to know.” Kurt's gaze is riveted on the floor, both hands clutching the hem of his t-shirt. It's a bright yellow affair Burt acquired in return for helping out with Career Day at Kurt's middle school a few years ago, hideous even by Burt's standards, and it hangs on Kurt like a shroud. Every time he thinks his son's grown up, something happens to remind him that isn't the case at all.
He scoots over without saying a thing, just patting the bed, and Kurt instantly clambers in beside him. Burt's holding the blankets back, letting Kurt settle beside him, wondering if Kurt's been checking in on him every night and this is just the first time Burt's caught him at it. He wraps one arm over Kurt's middle, trying to relax, but then Kurt's taking hold of his hand and lingering over the wrist. “If you try and take my pulse,” Burt tells him, “I'll put your credit card down the garbage disposal.”
Kurt laughs softly and Burt swallows, letting himself breathe. “I wanted to make sure you weren't too worked up.”
“If anyone seems too worked up, it's you,” Burt points out.
And when Kurt says, almost inaudible even in the dead silence of Burt's room, that he doesn't know what he'll do if he wakes up and doesn't have a dad anymore, Burt can't do anything in response to that but hold him as tightly as possible.
When his wife died, the two of them would keep close so they didn't fall apart and Kurt hadn't been able to sleep in his own bed for a long time afterward. They both needed that contact and it's the same thing now—mortality bringing them together, Kurt spending the night in Burt's bed like he's seven years old and sleepwalking into it again.
Kurt's old enough now to know that his father can't fix everything and Burt's smart enough not to make promises he can't keep. It's no wonder Kurt can't fall asleep; no matter how Burt soothes him, he stays awake. Tossing and turning and asking him horrible things like, “Was it because of me? Did I do this to you?” By coming out, putting too much of a strain on him, giving him too many complications to deal with; it's a terrible thought, that Kurt will be himself but not at his father's expense, and Burt wants to shake him almost as much as he wants to soothe him.
“Of course it wasn't because of you.” His voice sounds strange, muffled against Kurt's temple. “Don't think that, missed you more than anything.” Kissing his forehead, his closed eyes, feeling the way Kurt's entire body seems to shake when he draws in a breath. “Don't think like that.”
“Sorry.” Kurt clutching him, squirming, guiding his hand down and then stopping. Resisting. He looks up, forehead creased. “I don't want you hurting yourself.”
Burt snorts. “Take it easy, all right? Let's focus on you instead of everything that's wrong with me.”
It's a strange arrangement. Has been ever since Burt was called in to pick Kurt up for being drunk at school, of all things. He'd been pissed as hell and Kurt had been stumbling over his apologies, saying he loved him and didn't want Burt to judge him for it. Somehow they'd made it into the living room with Kurt clinging to him like a lamprey, kissing him and writhing against him and coming in his pants right there on the couch before Burt had a chance to pull together a lecture.
They have to be there for each other because there isn't anyone else left. It isn't conventional or strictly healthy and there are components they both recognize but never mention, like the fact that Kurt isn't likely to be intimate with anyone until he leaves Lima and that sometimes Burt sees so much of his wife in Kurt it makes him ache. At least this way, he knows Kurt's being safe. And when Kurt has a boyfriend, someone who deserves him, he'll know enough not to be hurt. Burt hopes.
Kurt's wound too tight from nervousness and too many responsibilities and he needs to decompress. Burt hasn't been good for much of anything lately, but he can take care of this.
“You all right?” His mouth grazes Kurt's ear and Kurt hisses, the back of his head falling against Burt's collarbone.
“Yeah...please.” Twisting around to kiss him, shirt riding up enough for Burt's palm to move in a slow circle against his bare stomach. “Just. Go easy, okay, Dad?”
Burt runs the tip of his thumb across Kurt's lips, watching the way his lashes flit against his cheeks and his mouth instantly parts to let him in. “That's fine, buddy, I can do that.” Spooning up behind him, sliding a hand down the front of his pajama pants, and Kurt whimpers for him, pushing hard and heated into his fist so nicely. Burt murmuring into his hair, “There you go, just let go for me...” and he can feel Kurt biting back his cries and straining to part his thighs even more.
It doesn't take long at all; despite the act he puts on, Kurt's still sixteen and has the same needs as any other sixteen-year-old. Bringing him off nice and slow until Kurt is shuddering through the aftershocks and Burt is stroking his back with a sleepy hand, letting him ride out his orgasm and feeling some of the tension finally drain out of his body. Kurt, who wastes no time kissing his face, taking Burt's hand so he can go about licking his fingers clean, sucking slowly and obscenely over each one in turn, and that's new, has Burt swearing and Kurt tittering against his damp palm. Then Kurt's wiggling out of his pajama pants and cuddling in even closer in nothing but that huge, horrible shirt. Murmuring thank yous and I love yous and actually sounding like sleep might be a possibility now. Burt hopes so.
“You said...” Kurt's mouth is soft against the side of his neck and he threads their fingers together under the covers. “I mean, it's true, what you said. We don't share very much.”
“Maybe not. But you're not gonna suddenly like fishing and I'm not gonna start caring about Fashion Week.” Letting Kurt's head rest on his shoulder, tightening his arms around him a little more. “You're the one who told me you believed in us more than anything, and that's the really important thing. Okay?”
“You also said I was your stress test. I don't want to be. I know I'm not a very low-maintenance person, but—”
“Hey.” Burt doesn't even want to let him finish that sentence. “I didn't mean it that way.” Cupping his chin, pushing back his hair, Kurt allowing it this time. He's taken a shower and it's soft now, free of product and feathery between Burt's fingers. “You're the best thing I've got.”
Smoothing down his back, letting Kurt burrow against his chest, and he feels small through the folds of yellow fabric. “Don't get too skinny on me.” Taking care of him shouldn't mean Kurt forgets to take care of himself. “Help yourself to the rest of my Slim Jim stash. Not like I need it anymore.” It's meant to be a joke, but doesn't quite make it there.
“There is no stash anymore,” Kurt says. Burt sighs. Of course there isn't. “And your emergency Hershey rations are gone, too. I got some Kashi bars instead. They're healthy, but the guy who came up with them hates health food, so maybe you'll actually like them.”
“I'm not holding my breath on that one.” He smooths his palm down the warm slope of Kurt's nape, along his side, almost petting him. “You do a pretty decent job at looking out for me. But tell me something.” It still doesn't sit well with Burt that his son was alone at home while he was in the hospital just because Kurt wouldn't let anyone step in and look after him. “Who's supposed to look out for you?”
“I can handle it.” And that's the thing. He doesn't doubt that Kurt can. That doesn't make it any better.
“You shouldn't have to.”
Kurt yawns, one of his hands untangling from Burt's shirt. “Then I guess you'll just have to be around to make sure. That's really the only option.”
Kurt's hand finds his and squeezes. Burt doesn't let go even when he falls asleep.