SPOILERS for 2x03: Grilled Cheesus. Set throughout the episode. Kurt/Artie friendship.
It isn't often that Artie can sneak up on anyone but the way the day's been going, Kurt's frankly surprised he's been able to pay attention to anything outside the constant murmur of his thoughts. He looks down at his friend and tries to look as though he's listening.
“My mom wanted me to let you know she's thinking of you and if you need anything, just to let me know, and I'll pass it on,” Artie says, a little awkwardly.
“Thanks,” Kurt replies, hanging onto his dignity as if it's the only thing he has left. It just might well be.
“She also wanted me to give you this.”
Artie takes a Tupperware container off his lap and hands it to Kurt. Kurt takes it and opens it, not really caring what it is but feeling like that's the appropriate thing to do right now.
The container is filled to the brim with M&M cookies, obviously. Kurt blinks a few times, trying not to tear up. “Thank her for me, will you?” he manages to reply after a long moment.
“Sure,” says Artie, obviously pretending he hasn't noticed Kurt's eyes moisten. “She also wanted to let you know there's an open invitation to our place if you want a meal, or some company, or anything. I realized I have no idea where you're staying – are you with Finn and his mom?”
Kurt shakes his head. “I'm at home. Well, when I'm not at school or at the hospital. Things with Finn and Carole are... well, let's just say we don't always see eye to eye.”
“Finn's Jesus kick?” Artie guesses. Kurt nods in agreement. Artie's lips twist into a wry smile. “Well, you won't get any of that at my house. My mother believes more in the power of pot roast than the power of prayer. She might shove food down your throat but I promise that'll be the only thing.”
Kurt has absolutely no idea what to say to that. Finally, after a moment, a response comes out, almost without him thinking about it. “So I take it the Abrams household isn't a big fan of the Large Condemner in the Sky, either?”
Artie actually laughs at this. “Not huge fans, no,” he says simply. Kurt knows there's more to it than that – after all, if there's anyone else who has a right to be as pissed as God as he is, it's Artie – but Artie doesn't offer more of an explanation, and Kurt's too tired to pry. “I just thought it might count for something. Seeing as things have been a bit... in your face recently.”
Kurt smiles wryly. “You're not wrong there. Tell your mom I appreciate the offer.”
Artie probably knows that appreciating an offer isn't the same as accepting it but he doesn't call him on it, which is a mercy. With a nod of his head and a quick, blink-and-you'll-miss it pat on the arm in comfort, Artie wheels away, leaving Kurt with a Tupperware container of Mrs. Abrams world famous M&M cookies. And hell, he knows they're empty calories, but he's going to eat them anyway because they're that good and right now, he could use the comfort.
Kurt's every bit as surprised as Mrs. Abrams when she opens the door to find him standing there two nights later. Somehow, after the prayer session around his father's comatose body and the clinical, intensely disturbing to watch acupuncture procedure, the idea of going back to his empty house wasn't in the least bit appealing and, almost without realizing it, he'd driven to Artie's place. Mrs. Abrams recovers quickly, however, and ushers him in. She seems happy to see him and engulfs him in a huge before he can even think of stopping her.
Considering how fiercely he guards his personal space at the best of times, he's surprised at just how comforting Mrs. Abrams arms are. Mrs. Abrams is one of those people who just looks like someone's mother and for a split second, it's almost too much to bear, but he recovers quickly, because this isn't a place he can break down. This is just a place to be around some people, to glean a little comfort and not have the Good Lord thrown in his face.
“Artie, Kurt's here!” she calls out when she finally lets him go. She turns back to Kurt and smiles broadly. The big, toothy grin that flashes across her face lets him know that there's no way in hell Artie was adopted. “I've roasted a chicken,” she announces. “Artie tells me you're quite fussy about your food, in particular the fat content, so I've got some vegetables I can steam for you if you'd rather not eat the roasted ones.”
“You don't need to go to any trouble,” he says with a weak smile. “Anything you make I'm sure will be delicious. I can just skip the gravy.”
“Oh, it's no trouble,” she insists. “In fact, it might be good for my bottomless pit of a son to eat something green that's not gelatinous for once.”
“All the good green things are gelatinous,” Artie chimes in, wheeling toward them. He smiles as he sees Kurt. “Glad you came. Mom's been worried sick about you and her response to worrying about someone is, well, food.”
“I haven't been that hungry recently,” Kurt admits. The smell of chicken roasting from the kitchen is wafting toward him and it smells... absolutely fabulous. “But chicken does sound good. If it's not fried, chicken's actually pretty good for you.”
“I didn't do my usual buttery coating, just in case you did show up,” says Mrs. Abrams. Off Artie's pout, she rolls her eyes. “It won't kill you to skip out on the saturated fat once in awhile, Arthur.”
It dawns on Kurt then that Mrs. Abrams must have been planning her meals around the possibility of him turning up for the past few nights and that's enough to leave him teary eyed. “I really appreciate this, Mrs. Abrams.”
“It's my pleasure, sweetie,” she says warmly. “Oh, I'm so glad you came!” She looks like she's about to grab him in a hug again and he stiffens up instinctively. She catches his reaction, nods and smiles knowingly. “Dinner will just be a few minutes, why don't you boys set the table?”
Dinner itself is an interesting affair. For one thing, the dinner table is a lot lower than your average table to accommodate and it's nice to be able to look Artie straight in the eye for once, though the position isn't exactly comfortable. Also, the smells wafting from the kitchen don't even begin to do Mrs. Abrams' cooking justice. The chicken is beautiful and tender and Kurt just has to know what the secret is.
“I spend a lot of time basting it throughout cooking,” she confides. “Usually there's a lot more butter involved, but this time it's olive oil, salt and pepper and lemon.”
“She shoves the lemon up the chicken's butt,” Artie adds with a smirk.
It's not a particularly funny comment but Kurt finds himself laughing and it feels completely ridiculous to be laughing about a roast chicken, and all of a sudden, a memory hits him like a ton of bricks. His dad, trying to cook a chicken for their Friday night dinners, the first Friday after his mom died, and cutting into it and finding it raw, and the laughing turns into something darker – hacking, choking sobs at the dinner table of someone else's house and he'd be mortified if he wasn't so past caring anymore.
Mrs. Abrams is up out of her seat in a flash and moments later, he's handed a glass of water and a napkin. Given her earlier almost smothering hugs, the reaction is a little jarring and he looks at her, almost quizzically, until he recognizes something in her eyes.
The world may deal me a rough hand but I will carry on with all the dignity I can muster. Because I can't control what happens to me but I can control how I react.
He composes himself and shoots her a grateful look before stabbing a piece of broccoli onto his fork and slicing it down the middle. She makes a comment about organic vegetables being worth the price simply for quality of flavor and by now, it's starting to click that even though Mrs. Abrams had been doing all the work preparing, she hadn't just pulled this information out of thin air.
Artie catches his eye from across the table and offers him a small smile.
After dinner, Kurt and Artie sit on the couch and watch television. At least, pretend to watch television. It's pretty obvious neither of them are fully paying attention. Since it doesn't look like Artie's going to be the one to speak first, Kurt finally speaks up.
“Your mom is... very mom-like.”
Artie grins at that. “She can be a bit intense. Sorry if she came on too strong.”
Kurt raises a fashionable eyebrow. “She seemed to know an awful lot about my dietary preferences.
Artie looks a little embarrassed. “Yeah, well, she kept going on about having you over for a meal so I told her what you liked. I wasn't sure if you'd actually come, though.”
“I wasn't sure, either,” Kurt replies honestly. He bites his lip. “Your mom was in the accident with you when you were a kid, wasn't she?”
He braces himself for an emotional shutdown from his friend but it doesn't come. Artie simply nods. “Yeah, she was. She came out of it with a few bruises, and I... well, obviously, wheelchair.”
“It must have been tough on her,” says Kurt, a little hesitantly. He's not sure if it's okay to say that.
“Survivor's guilt,” Artie agrees. “Sometimes she'll look at me and it's like the sight of me is enough to break her heart, all over again, and I start to feel guilty – which is ridiculous, I know, because I didn't ask for this.” Artie's expression softens a little. “Kurt, you don't need to talk about this with me. Not now. Not with your dad in hospital. It doesn't matter.”
“Did your mom believe in God before the accident?” Kurt asks, ignoring Artie's last comment. What the hell, he's feeling masochistic.
Artie seems to take the hint as to where the conversation is going. He nods. “She did. But not knowing if I'd wake up, then finding out I was paralyzed... she had a hard time believing that a loving god would do something like that. It didn't help that plenty of people from the church were a bit... well, gung ho, really. There was praying for healing, there were comments about it being 'God's will' – I think the thing that sealed the deal for Mom was when someone told her that the accident was God's way of alerting to her to unresolved sin in her life and that if her faith were stronger, God would heal me.”
Kurt's eyes widen. “You have got to be kidding me.”
Artie laughs humorlessly. “No joke. Someone honestly said that to her face. I was there. I remember it. I was eight, and I remember what they said to her, and the crushed look on her face, and exactly what she said back to them: A loving God wouldn't punish my son for my mistakes.” He rolls his eyes. “Someone else started quoting scripture – Abraham and Isaac. Jesus. Apparently God's got a history of punishing sons. This was around the time my mother said some words you really shouldn't say in church and wheeled me on out of there. We haven't been back since.”
“I can't say I blame you,” he replies honestly.
“I don't think I believe in God,” Artie states, almost thoughtfully. “But we've still got bibles and stuff around and I've read the bible. And I think if I'd been around and hung out with Jesus, I would have liked him. He treated everyone the same, no matter if they were a cripple or a hooker or a lawyer. And even though he allegedly did perform miracles, he had a pretty good grasp on practicality, too. You know the story of the loaves and the fishes?”
“Five loaves, 2 fish, mega leftovers?”
“That's the one,” says Artie. “It's less the whole making that little bit of food go a long way that makes me think. It's more that, well, you know, he actually cared enough to feed people, rather than just send them home and make their own dinner.” Artie shrugs. “I don't know. We don't really believe in God in my family but the way my mom is with her food and her looking after people – I guess I think that's the kind of thing Jesus would have done. And maybe that's all the religion I need.”
Kurt's not really sure if he agrees or not, but Artie makes a valid point. It's certainly better than a god who condemns and judges. And after Mrs. Abrams' dinner, maybe he's a bit more sold on the whole viewpoint. “Thanks for inviting me over.”
“No problem,” says Artie with a smile. He gestures to the X-Box sitting by the television. “You up for a game of Halo?”
“Only if you resign yourself to getting your ass kicked,” says Kurt with a small laugh.
Off Artie's incredulous laughter, Kurt allows himself to relax a little. Yes, his heart is almost breaking at the thought of his father lying in that hospital bed and yes, the reactions of his friends and 'family' are doing his head in but for the next few hours, he'll let himself forget all of that and play Halo with one of the last people he'd even thought about being there for him at a time like this. And maybe, just maybe, let himself take comfort in a hot meal and good company, rather than a slice of pie in the sky.
- Current Mood:artistic