It had all started towards the end of his senior year at Dalton, when 'the letter' arrived. Kurt had been accepted into the design school of his dreams. While he hated leaving his family behind, they all understood why Kurt was going to France. Things had gone so smoothly in the beginning. He'd arrived in August, and settled into his apartment, which he was sharing with a girl named Émie Dejagardelle. They were in the same program (which was totally not what Kurt expected, and he really, really hated it) and got along fabulously. Kurt couldn't believe his luck. Then Hallowe'en came, and like any other college students, Kurt and Émie had gone out for the night to get drunk. Smashed. Wasted. Fucked.
Yeah, they'd gotten fucked, and in more ways than one. When they'd gotten back to their apartment, the pair drank another couple of bottles of tequila. The next thing Kurt knew, he was waking up naked on the sofa, with a pounding headache and an equally nude Émie on top of him. The first couple of days, things had been extremely awkward. But Émie was Kurt's (other) best friend and nothing, not even a drunken one night stand, was going to change that. And then things were back to normal, and the incident had become a running joke.
Or at least it had, until Émie started getting sick every other morning. And then every other morning became every morning. While holding her hair back for her as she threw up, Kurt had a sudden déja vu feeling that confused him, until the other event struck him like a train a moment later. The last time he'd been in this position, Quinn was throwing up before a sophomore spanish class with Mr. Schue.
The pregnancy had rocked them both to the core. When it was confirmed by a doctor at the university clinic, they trudged back to their place in silence. After a long time of sitting in silence beside each other on the couch, they cried, holding each other firmly. The next six months were long, and Kurt and Émie did a lot of thinking. Émie loved the design program, and she loved France. She loved Kurt as a best friend. And even though she hadn't met it yet, she loved the baby. Kurt hated the design program, and he hated France. He loved Émie as a best friend. And even though he hadn't met it yet, he loved the baby. Kurt had offered to marry her, but she couldn't do that to him, or herself for that matter. They weren't in love, and Kurt could never love her the way she wanted someone to. And she couldn't take away Kurt's dream of finding a guy to love him, either.
About four months into the pregnancy, and after a lot of research and discussion with other students in similar situations, with her mom, and with Kurt, Émie decided that she wasn't going to be able to take care of the baby. She would be alone in Paris with no one to help her out, and she knew she wouldn't be able to have a job, keep up with university, and take care of a baby all by herself.
Kurt really sympathized with Puck at this point. But, unlike Puck, Kurt had a lot more support behind him, and a home filled with help in Ohio. So, he talked to Émie about Kurt taking full custody, and returning to Lima with the baby. Émie was ecstatic, knowing that the baby would be in the good hands of its daddy; Kurt promised her that he'd send pictures, and that they'd visit whenever they could.
When Émie went into labor two months early, in the middle of May, Kurt was terrified. It wasn't supposed to happen this way. The baby was supposed to be born within a week of the due date, and with no complications. He nearly broke down, but he knew he had to hold it together so that he could get Émie through this. Luckily, despite the baby being early, the birthing itself went fine. After seeing Émie to sleep, Kurt went down the hallway, and to the next wing over.
The NICU. The baby, being early, had been rushed to an incubator the moment it was born. Kurt hadn't even seen his child yet. He stood outside the doors of the NICU for exactly seventy-eight minutes and fourteen seconds before finally gathering the courage to enter. He walked up to the nurse at the desk, who, having watched him pace, was smiling sympathetically at him.
"Hummel?" she asked. His throat constricting, he nodded, and followed her down the hall. She stopped just outside the room. "You're lucky, you know. She's mostly okay, her breathing is just a little bit erratic. She should only have to be here for the next week, next two weeks at the most. She's not inside an incubator, so you can hold her for as long as you like, but you'll have to leave the oxygen mask in place for the next couple of days at least."
Kurt's whole body sagged with relief. "The baby's okay? It's a girl?"
The nurse smiled and nodded. "Yes, your baby girl should be completely fine within a couple of days. Let's go in."
Kurt followed her into the room, which was a pale orange color with African animals cartoonized on the walls. There was a plastic bin-like cradle in the room that was attached to some machines. There was also a sofa and a rocking chair, along with a coffee table and a telephone. Kurt dropped his bag on the coffee table as he approached the cradle cautiously, seeing a few things from the machines leading into it.
And there she is. His baby. His daughter. She has a tiny oxygen mask on her face, and her tiny fists are tucked under her chin. Her eyes are closed and she's snuggled against the warm pink blanket that was tucked around her. He reaches out a finger, and strokes the edge of the mask, where a teeny portion of her cheek is exposed. "Hey," he whispers softly. She twists her head a little bit and blinks a few times, before her eyes finally land on Kurt's. They're big and green, just like his dad's. Kurt cries as he looks at her, moving his finger to where her little hands are. She wraps her tiny fingers around his, and he gives a huge smile through his tears. He wipes his eyes with the back of his other hand.
"Can I take pictures with this equipment around?" he asks, not wanting to do anything to jeopardize his little girl's safety.
The nurse smiles. "Yes, that's fine. You can use cell phones on this end of the unit, too, so feel free to make calls. Would you like me to help you hold her?" she asks, dragging the rocking chair closer to the cradle, so that Kurt could sit.
Kurt's eye's widen, and he nods enthusiastically. "Yes, please!" The nurse shows him how to pick her up from the crib, and settle her into his arms. He sits back slowly on the chair, careful not to jostle the oxygen mask. He's looking at the tiny child in his arms with a huge smile on his face when the nurse asks, "Do you want me to take a picture?"
He nods. "Oh yes, please. My phone should just be in the front pocked of my bag," he said, "You'll have to turn it on, though."
"No problem, sweetie," she replies. "I'm used to these kinds of things." Kurt has returned back to looking at his little girl when he hears a shutter noise. He looks up. The nurse laughs. "You were just too cute like that! Now smile, I'll get one of you looking." He does, and the nurse takes his picture. "I have some rounds and paperwork to do now," she smiles. "She's already been fed, and I doubt she'll need to be changed for at least an hour or two. Don't hesitate to pull that string over there if you need anything."
After she leaves, it's the picture where Kurt's not looking at the camera that he sends to his dad with the message "Isn't she beautiful? Call me asap!", knowing that since it's just about noon in Lima it won't be long until his dad calls back. Kurt's right - his dad calls him back almost immediately. And much as Kurt had been doing only a few hours earlier, Burt is freaking out.
In between his 'congratulations', and 'she's gorgeous, I can't wait to meet her''s, Burt's asking questions faster than Kurt can answer them. 'When are you moving home?' ''She's so early, is she okay?' Forty minutes later, Kurt gets all the questions answered and goes back to swooning over his baby, all the while thanking his cell company that he's got unlimited family calling from any continent, because really, this month's bill would have be ridiculous otherwise.
"Kiddo, I hate to cut this short (Kurt laughs inside, this is the longest phone conversation he's had since he first told his dad about the pregnancy) I've gotta run and show Carole the pictures, and get back to the shop."
"It's okay, Dad, I understand. Besides, my arm is starting to go a little numb. I think she's got her head on one of my arteries."
Burt chuckles on the other side of the ocean. "Name her yet?" Kurt replies with a not quite, but that after seeing her, he thinks he's got the perfect one. "Well, text me when you finally decide," Burt replies. "And Kurt?"
"I'm so proud of you."
"Proud of me? Dad, I got drunk and got a girl pregnant." In his head, he thanks grilled cheesus that he doesn't remember. Straight sex is just…gross.
"Okay, maybe not that part so much. But you have no idea how remarkable what you've done is. You took responsibility for your actions and you aren't just running from this. You've decided to put your kid before yourself, and that's not something most people do. Heck, even most of the time when you were growing up, especially when your mom died, I think I forgot how hard everything was on you. She'd be so proud of you, too, you know that, right? You're gonna be a great dad Kurt, I know it."
And there are so many things Kurt wants to say. He wants to say how he couldn't let Finn upstage him, could never give up his own baby, couldn't desert his best friend. But he's crying, and the only thing he can get out is "I had the best teacher", and then Burt's crying, too, and they exchange 'I love you's', and Burt reminds him to call his brother (unnecessary really - Kurt wasn't going to forget that, and plus, there's a reason he needs to call Finn as soon as he can get a minute), and then the phone call is over and the nurse is back.
"Mr. Hummel? Are you okay?" she's questioning, very concerned.
"I'm fine," he says, albeit shakily. "I just called my dad. He's in the states."
The nurse is looking at him with a befuddled expression on her face, and it's only then that he realizes he forgot that he's in France and she speaks French, so he repeats himself with a little laugh. She smiles, checks the oxygen monitor and the baby's vitals, and leaves Kurt sitting with his newborn daughter once more. He slips his phone into his pocket, and yeah, she's definitely laying on an artery because he can't feel the fingers in his right arm anymore.