miggy: (Default)
miggy ([personal profile] miggy) wrote2011-11-28 11:06 am
Entry tags:

Fic: "One Minute"

Title: One Minute
Character(s): Finn, Kurt
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 1800
Spoilers: Through Pot O' Gold
Warnings: Character death
Summary: Seven days ago, Kurt was buried. Because of that, Finn can't explain why he's waiting for him that evening with a mug of warm milk.
Notes: This was written for this prompt on the angst meme. Last night I was in the mood to write a little one-shot of something super creepy.

It had been seven days since the funeral. Kurt was rushed to the hospital eleven days ago. When the doctor walked out and said that he needed surgery, it only took eight minutes before she appeared again to say she was very sorry. Once Carole finally managed to get Burt to stop crying and go see their son, the hand on the clock had jerked forward exactly twelve times.

When those men jumped them, Finn started living his life in minutes.

It took less than a minute for men with steel pipes to leave someone headed inevitably toward death.

Kurt had wanted Finn to listen to that song on his iPod for just a minute.

When their parents called to see how long they'd be at the store, Finn said they'd just be a minute. Just a minute.

He hadn't noticed when the pipe first slammed into Kurt's spine, because his hands were full of groceries and his ears were full of music. He'd walked on toward his truck as Kurt fell to the ground. It took him too long to realize that sound was a scream.

Way too long, Finn thought as he stared at himself in the mirror. He looked old before his time. He looked old and useless and weak.

Burt's tears hadn't really ever turned off. They'd start and stop (for a minute), but always threatened like storm clouds on the horizon. It was his fault, he liked to remind them. Those drunks who'd killed his son never would have known he existed if not for Burt's campaign. They were very drunk. Incredibly drunk. So drunk that they didn't care about the witness who saw all their faces in close-up twilight Technicolor, but cared a whole lot about how the man with the scary gay agenda was going to take his demon spawn to Washington.

Everyone said that it would be an open-and-shut case. There was even footage from the parking lot security cameras to back up Finn's eventual testimony. Why, the jury would be in and out in less than thirty minutes to deliver a guilty verdict, everyone knew. Like a pizza.

When they watched that footage in the courtroom, they'd see that Finn didn't immediately run in and fight for Kurt, like he'd told everyone. There were more of them. They had weapons. There was no way Finn could win.

Still, his conscience hissed at him like a gas leak, you should have tried harder.

Even if it had been seven days since the funeral, Finn felt as if he should still mark off each minute rather than collapsing it into the dismissive mass of 'a week.' A minute: that was how long it had taken to claim Kurt's life. Even days felt like too much time. He should respect that sliver of time, not skip grandly ahead in weeks like he was looking forward to the next football game or tv episode.

Carole told him it wasn't his fault. Every day, every minute also took them closer to the courtroom where she would learn she was wrong.

He could have helped, Finn told himself as he walked into his room and closed the door. He should have helped. The instant the latch clicked, Finn felt an odd shudder run through him like he'd walked through an ice-cold draft. His fingers lingered on the doorknob that had locked into place instead of rolling loose under his hand, and then slid free as he stepped forward toward an absolute impossibility.

"I hope you've been sleeping all right without this," Kurt said apologetically and extended a mug of warm milk. It matched the one he held back for himself.

Oh, Finn thought as he slowly walked toward the bed. He was dreaming. He'd already walked into his room and curled up in bed, and this was the dream he was having. "You're dead," he said. It was important to establish ground rules.

Kurt's head tilted. He thrust the mug forward until Finn took it, carefully, so no milk would lap over the side. "Do I look dead, Finn?"

He didn't. He looked whole and healthy like he hadn't since before that terrible minute. The funeral home had done a great job with his makeup; they'd even been able to have an open casket. Most of the damage had been to his body, but still, there was a huge, bloody gash across one cheek. It wasn't there now. "No," Finn finally said and looked at the mug warming his hands. "I guess that makes sense. I'm dreaming."

"I'm sure that makes things easier to understand," Kurt agreed and sipped his milk. He gestured for Finn to do the same, and after some hesitation, he drank. "You've really been beating yourself up over this." He smiled, closed-lipped and with an odd hardness to his eyes, and added, "It's not quite to the extent of what I went through, but then, what is?"

The milk seemed suddenly sour in Finn's mouth. It was a chore to swallow it, and he set the rest aside.

"Don't you want that, Finn?" Kurt asked. Any coldness was gone and he was all open concern once more. "It'll be the last chance we have to talk like this, you know."

"Oh," Finn said dumbly and retrieved it. Kurt was probably a ghost, then, and he had time for one last visit to friends and family? It didn't make sense that he'd been able to hand him a mug, but maybe this was some impossible mixture of ghosts, dreams, and crushing guilt that broke the laws of physics in half and tossed them aside. "Um. Everyone's really sad."

"That's good to hear." Kurt sipped his milk again. "They certainly seemed that way at the funeral. It was nice to be missed. Rachel, adjusting my tie. Blaine, fixing my hair. All those people, crying and wishing it hadn't happened," he said. It came out like a thin, dry sigh. "I know Dad kept some names off the guest list. Who knows what sort of coverage Jacob would have come up with if he'd been allowed inside the service?"

"I guess he thought it was the least he could do," Finn agreed. Something about Kurt's demeanor had him off-balance, but he didn't know what it was. Besides the fact that he was dead, of course, he added to himself with a renewed jolt of disbelief. What was going on?

"Mmm," Kurt agreed, nodding. Something about him looked strange, and Finn couldn't quite place it. Not yet. "Yes. He feels so guilty, Finn."

"He thinks his campaign got you killed," Finn said quietly.

"It did."

The bald words made Finn sit up straight with shock, and he had to choke down that surprise before he managed to say anything. "Oh. Uh. Wow. Okay. I guess I thought your, um, big perspective would have you thinking that it was all those drunk guys. Or... or society. The news, or something."

"It's all them," Kurt agreed. He looked at Finn again and Finn realized what was odd: his eyes had been growing progressively lighter as they talked. The normal blue-green mixture was now like pictures of glacial ice on the Discovery Channel. "And it was his campaign. And you not helping me, or even shouting for anyone else to come." His impossible eyes hardened again as Finn began to set aside his mug. "I told you to drink, Finn."

Afraid not to, Finn drank.

"You feel so guilty, too. It's just eating you alive, isn't it?"

Finn's eyes darted back and forth across his room. His door was gone like it had never existed. His windows had vanished. Seized with the sudden, awful conviction that they weren't talking inside a dream, Finn whispered, "Kurt, what are you?"

"Not dead," Kurt laughed. The sound made Finn's skin crawl. "I don't know just what's after death, Finn. It turns out that no one knows, no matter what they say or how deeply they believe while they're still breathing. You can't really know what it's like when everything stops. What I do know is that I began to learn, and then two anchors dragged me back."

"Please give me back my door," Finn said as softly as he could manage.

"The courts will punish those men. The court of public opinion will hold the news accountable. But, oh, you two," Kurt said wryly, like he was telling some easy joke. "You took my death and made it all about you. You took the worst of my pain and wrapped it up for your own hearts like a little gift. I don't get to move on because you won't let me." His skin had gone chalk white.

"I'll let you," Finn promised. "I swear. Please just let me go. Okay?"

"Do it," Kurt said.

Finn blinked, uncertain.

"Let me go. Stop thinking about what it must have felt like for me when that pipe broke my back. Stop wishing you'd done anything but stand there like an idiot. Stop feeling guilty."

"That's... I...." Finn wheezed out an awkward laugh. "I can't just do it like that," he said, snapping his fingers. "But I'll do it soon. I promise."

"Not soon enough," Kurt said, and Finn was certain that he was going to die. "Do you know how long it's been since I died?"

"Yes," Finn said, swallowing, and rattled off the exact number of minutes.

Kurt nodded. Clearly, he'd known the answer before he'd asked the question. "And I've felt every single one. Because you have. Over and over. I've died over. And over. And over. I want everything to stop, like it should have." He set aside his mug, which vanished when his fingers left it, and walked around the bed to sit next to Finn on the mattress. Finn didn't run. He couldn't, and there was no exit. "It's a funny thing about dying, Finn," he said as his ice-cold hand cupped Finn's cheek, and then sank into it like fog. "You're not guilty about anything, ever again."

As Finn slumped to the ground, aware of the seconds between each slowing heartbeat, he saw his door reappear.


"We'll find out what it's like past the gate together, I suppose," Kurt said with that same tight, cold smile as he knelt into Finn's field of vision.


"Don't worry. Your death will be completely unexplained. No one will feel guilty. No one will hold you here." Kurt's hand, solid again, stroked Finn's cheek one last time. "It's taking a long time, isn't it? So many tiny seconds."


"See you soon," he promised, and stood. "I need to go talk to Dad."


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