Leave the Light On
"When things are bad, we take comfort in the thought that they could always be worse. And when they are, we find hope in the thought that things are so bad they have to get better."
In the doctor's office, there is still a jar of suckers on the counter and a height chart that Finn had outgrown at twelve tacked to the wall. Dr. Lemski is a family doctor. With three chins and the bulbous red nose of a long time drinker, Finn figures he's the 'do as I say, not as I do' sort.
"Still growing, eh?" Dr. Lemski shares a wink with Carol Hudson, who smiles awkwardly and runs a hand over her son's back.
"Takes after his Dad that way. Certainly not me."
Finn finds his yearly required sports physical to be a strange sort of examination, involving listening and poking and his mother making stilted conversation about how much she spends on groceries every week just to feed him. He also finds that if he is very quiet through the entire appointment, he will begin to feel like a science project, or a dog, or a car getting a tune-up. He isn't sure which of those he likes best.
"Well, now." Dr. Lemski sighs as he flips through his papers. "All the basics look good. Any other issues? Injuries? Illness?"
Carole shakes her head to each of these. Finn studies his shoelaces.
"Colds? Pains? Shortness of breath?"
She's still shaking her head.
Finn jerks around to look at his mother. "No."
"Please, Finn, I pay more attention to your sleeping habits than you do. Yes."
Dr. Lemski peers at them over his glasses. "Yes?"
There had never been such an interruption in the yearly required sports physical routine before. Finn likes going to the doctor because it reminds him of what good health he has, not because he wants to pick out any bad parts. Sure, he'd been tired lately, there was that whole Vitamin D debacle after all, but that was stress. The hardest year of his life had just happened and doesn't seem to be letting up just yet.
His mother nudges him with her elbow.
Finn bites his tongue and nods.
The result is being poked with a soda straw sized needle. Tests on his blood tell the doctor that FInn is short on red blood cells. The doctor tells Finn to eat more steak and rest up over the summer. Finn tells his mother that Dr. Lemski isn't so bad after all.
As it turns out, tires are expensive. Replacing the tires on twenty-six Land Rovers is an enormous bill. Match that with a tiny Sheets 'n' Things paycheck and, well, Finn just can't think that hard. Finn will never say it out loud, but Puck is a little smarter than he is so he actually does the math in his head while they're sitting in the break room at work.
Puck stares up at a space on the wall for a good five minutes, before blinking and slamming his fist on the flimsy card table between them. "Holy Shit. We're gonna be working here until we're like...old."
"How are we gonna buy houses? And eat?" Finn knows there will come a time, possibly very soon that his mother will stop providing these two basic needs for him at any cost. Luckily, when they had first moved into the Hummel house, she hadn't even put thier house up for sale. She had said there was just too much stuff to sort through right now and that she needed a back-up plan, just in case. It turns out that Finn saying the f-word in range of Mr. Hummel's ears is a 'just in case' kind of situation.
They had moved back to their old house the next day. His mother barely said a word to him for the first week. Then, she started spending an occasional night over the Hummel's. It seemed the more time she began to spend with Burt again, the more she forgave Finn for messing things up in the first place.
"Dude." Puck fixes him with a blank and powerful stare. "If we don't want to spend the rest of our lives working at Sheets 'n' shit, we're gonna need a plan b."
"What kind of plan b?"
"Money." Puck announces. "Fast money."
Finn doesn't understand. "How are we supposed to do that?"
"Listen, I heard on TV about these guys that get paid to donate their sperm to baby banks." Puck, being Puck, probably doesn't realize that anything relating to babies is a bad thing to say, even when Finn looks kind of sick, and even when his own face subconsciously mirrors the expression.
"Bad idea." Finn nods.
"Bad idea." Puck agrees. "Let's think about this."
For the last seven and a half minutes of thier break, they sit, and think.
It turns out that it's a lot easier to be with Rachel, in a relationship sense, than it is to spend actual time with her.
"Finn," she says, as they stand in line for the movies. "I want you to know that I have arranged a rigorous schedule for us to follow during the off summer months involving daily vocal lessons, bi-weekly choreography training and a saturday afternoon all club practice."
"Isn't that against the rules?"
"No. I read the Ohio Show Choir Rules and Regulations pamphlet cover to cover and it states that off season practices are only illegal if they are organized by the host school and/or advisor. That means as long as Mr. Schue isn't there and we aren't at the school, it's okay."
Finn pulls his wallet out of his back pocket to pay for thier tickets. The only movie he kind of wanted to see was a sports movie, about a college soccer team, but he hadn't bothered to mention it. All Rachel could talk about was a generic looking romantic-comedy thing. A chick flick. Finn sighs.
"Rach, you know, I was kind of hoping to take it easy this summer. It's been...it's been a long year and I don't know, I thought we could just relax. Maybe go to the beach."
"We live in Ohio, Finn."
Finn doesn't see how that's relevant. "Yeah..."
"I would really enjoy going to the beach with you." Rachel grabs his arm and leans into his side in such a way that he almost misses what she says next. "However, the difference between average and extraordinary is going to happen now. It's going to happen when we have this off time and we decide to spend it working and getting better, while our competitors laze away on a sandy beach. I've already talked to everyone else, and while met with varying degrees of acceptance, they've all agreed to a saturday meeting at twelve noon at Kurt's house."
"Yeah. That's okay, right?"
"Sure. I love...Kurt's house." Finn tries to smile.
"Awesome." Rachel dances up on one toe to kiss his cheek. "This is going to be the best summer ever."
At the ticket window, Rachel steps up to the counter. "Two for Misshapen Love, please."
Finn hands over the money.
It's friday night and Finn is watching an old episode of Gomer Pyle on tv. He can feel himself melting into the couch, eyes at less than half-mast. Normally, he would blame being super tired on stress or too much stuff to do, but since babygate went down and now that regionals are over and it's summer break, there's not as much to stress about and his social calender leaves a lot more elbow room.
Tommorow is the first 'practice' at Kurt's house. Finn is actually excited to have everybody together again, but he can't say so much about going back to that house.
The day of the f-bomb drop, he had left, not taken anything with him, just walked out the door and kept going.
He hadn't even gone back to help his mother move any of thier things back. She had said that maybe, they just needed a little more time and to let things cool off. He feels like a guest in a hotel at his own home. Except, it's a hotel that's about to be shut down and swallowed up by a sink hole, or something equally freak and random.
"Finn?" Carol calls from the kitchen.
He lifts his head from the back of the couch. "Yeah?"
"Come here for a minute. Burt has something for you."
Finn didn't even know that Mr. Hummel was in the house. And now that he does, he's half afraid the 'something' is going to be a bullet with his name on it. On the other hand, maybe it's a new car. He thinks that his life is just random enough for something like that to happen.
The trouble is, he never makes it to the kitchen to find out. When Finn stands up from the couch, the room does a crazy, topsy turn and he has to grab at the wall and take a deep breath before stumbling on. The spinning doesn't stop though, it just gets darker, and his attempts to draw a deep breath fail as he only manages short, panicky puffs.
Oh no, he thinks. And then he doesn't think at all.
Finn opens his eyes and he's laying on the couch. For one split second he thinks that maybe he dreamt that, that the whole thing was like one of those dreams he sometimes has where he's falling and then wakes up when he hits the floor. But then Burt leans over the back of the couch and he hears his Mom talking in that choked, tight tone he's only heard from her a few times in his life.
"Thank God." Burt reaches down to ruffle Finn's hair. "You're awake. He's awake." He turns and shouts this last part into the kitchen.
Finn is still half confused and half asleep and sort of feeling like that time he and Puck stole a bottle of Wild Turkey and downed...too much of it in the shed behind Puck's house. The world is lazy and heavy around him. His mom is suddenly there, holding the phone to her ear and palming his cheek and looking very sad.
"What...?" He starts to ask, but she's gone just as fast, speaking rapidly into the phone.
"Everythings fine," Burt says. "You're fine."
"Did I fall asleep?" Finn finally manages to ask.
Burt almost smiles at this. "Kind of, yeah. Just don't worry about it, though. It's fine."
"For-for how long?"
Burt looks away to check the time on the VCR. "'Bout twenty minutes."
Finn doesn't know much, but he does know that that's too long. He always thought that fainting was only something that women did like 500 years ago when thier dresses were way too small. The only person he even knows that's ever fainted was his great-great aunt who was about a hundred years old. Plus, she had ended up dying the next week, so maybe that didn't even count. Before he starts to get too panicky about what in the world is wrong with him though, and is he dying or what, his mom is back. She stands beside the couch, clutching the phone with both hands.
"How do you feel, hunny?"
"Well, Dr. Lemski says this can be normal with anemia." Her eyes flicker from Burt to Finn as she speaks. "He says that we shouldn't worry too much and that you should just rest for the next couple days and we'll keep an eye on you. And, if you're still feeling bad by monday, we'll go in to see him again."
Finn tries to process all of this, but only gets about halfway before his mouth starts moving. "I have...I have stuff to do this weekend. I have this glee thing and I have to work and-"
"Don't worry about any of that. I'll take care of it. Listen, you're going to sleep in my room tonight in case you need something and Burt's going to sleep in your room."
"Only if that's okay," Burt interrupts. "I can sleep on the couch just as easily."
Finn glances at him. "I thought you were mad at me?"
"I'd rather he stay in your room," Carol continues. "It's a lot closer in case I need-in case you need...something."
"Wait a second. You guys are totally freaking out and I don't even know why. I'm totally fine." To prove his point, Finn swings his legs to the floor and sits up. And falls back against the couch, exhausted and breathing fast for no reason he knows.
"Whoa." Burt's hands steady his shoulders.
"Totally...fine." Finn makes a chopping, decisive motion with his hands.
Carol bites her lip hard. "You're staying in my room. Burt's sleeping in your room. I'm sorry if that bothers you." She turns and walks away.
-Testing the waters with this prologue. I'd love to hear what you think.