“Hey, honey, I’m home...uh oh,” Kurt let out, putting his scarf and his gloves down on the side table. He quickly followed the scent of freshly baked cookies into the kitchen. “What happened?” he asked.
Adam glanced at him over his shoulders as he pulled out a large tray from the oven and sighed. “That predictable, am I?” he said.
Kurt shrugged it off. Predictable was good, it was safe, and it made him feel at home. “All of us are,” he confirmed.
And in their household, chocolate chip cookies were reserved for family crises. Adam looked fine and as far as he knew, their marriage was doing well, so Kurt could only conclude it had to be their daughter, Audrey. He winced.
“Is it school?” he asked. “Or ...boys?”
He knew Audrey was friends with a boy in her class. Kurt had seen him in the school yard and felt his daughter could do better, (what self-respecting fourteen year old still wore his shirts untucked, anyway?) but he’d let her be the choice of that. Maybe the boy had snubbed her?
Adam pulled up his shoulders helplessly. “She wouldn’t say. But somehow she has decided that it is all my fault. Refusing to acknowledge my presence, slamming doors, yelling, the whole package deal.” He offered Kurt a self-conscious smile. “I tried talking to her, but I am afraid I only made it worse. I was secretly hoping you’d be willing to take these upstairs and pry it out of her.”
He held out a plate of warm cookies.
“I will, but just for the record: I love you, and she loves you, and you could have had this talk with her, too.”
Adam nodded. “I would have done so if you weren’t feeling up to it, my darling, but I just think that maybe in this case she will prefer you.”
“Alright. I’ll give it a try.”
Curious what this was about, Kurt took the comfort food and carried it upstairs. Music was blaring loudly from Audrey’s room. He knocked and waited.
“I SAID GO AWAY,” his daughter yelled through the door.
“It’s Papa, honey,” Kurt said. “I just got back from work. Can I talk to you for a minute? Dad made cookies…”
After a moment, Audrey appeared at the door. “Are they chocolate chip?”
Reluctantly, Audrey opened the door and let him in before sitting down on her bed. Kurt put the plate down on her desk and looked around. The only chair was taken by a pile of clothes and he didn’t want to sit on her bed uninvitedly, so he decided to set himself down on the window sill, propping his legs up on the heating beneath it.
“What’s going on?” he asked. “Dad said you were angry with him, but he doesn’t know why.”
Audrey sighed deeply and let her head hang. “I’m not. Not really. I’m just… urgh! I just hate everything right now, okay?” She grabbed a cookie and started nibbling it in frustration.
“Okay, I get days like that too,” Kurt conceded. “But your dad-”
“He wouldn’t understand! That’s why I got so mad. He...and you...the two of you are the least likely to understand me.”
Kurt was a bit taken aback by that. “Because...we’re men?” he tried carefully. “My entire friend circle in high school comprised out of girls, I’m sure there’s nothing you could tell me that I haven’t heard before-”
Audrey shook her head, looking irritated. “No, not because you’re men,” she spat. “Because...because…” She sighed deeply and walked up to her bed. Then, she pulled a stack of letters from under her pillow. “Because of this,” she said, holding them out to her father.
Kurt frowned. He didn’t need to take them to know these were his and Adam’s correspondence from when he was on tour with the NYADA cast of Les Mis.
“Because we’re… old school?” he tried again. Sending letters by post had felt like the epitome of romance for him, but maybe his daughter just thought it was too cringeworthy.
“Because they are love letters, Papa,” Audrey let out frustratedly. “Ridiculous, over-the-top, romantic love letters. Here-” She took one from the pile and sat up, her mouth twisting as her eyes flew over the lines.
“I miss you more than words can say. I long to hold you in my arms once again, to breathe you in, to kiss your lips tenderly- Ugh. It’s terrible. Tropey. Cliche. Saccharine.”
Kurt pulled up his shoulders. “So your dad isn’t the most original wordsmith. I still enjoyed getting those letters.”
“Of course you did,” Audrey said. “But because you did, you’ll never understand what I am going through! I mean, you are-” she held up the letters, “the sun and the moon and the stars to someone!” She lowered the letters and sighed.
“That will never happen to me,” she added dejectedly. “The best I can hope for is a sly-grin emoji on one of my selfies if my bra straps are showing.”
“You’re posting pictures of your cleavage online?!” Kurt said, his head snapping up.
“Oh my god, papa! No, I’m not! I just meant under my sweater, jeez.”
Kurt let out a breath through puffed cheeks and calmed himself down. He tried to focus on deciphering his daughter’s problem.
“Is this about the boy in your class?” he asked carefully. “Is he...not sending you enough… emojis?”
“He is not sending me anything,” Audrey said bitterly, “and I will definitely never ever get a letter like this. And reading these just made me realise that the two of you, living the way you do, gave me a super warped perspective on romance. You know, irrationally high expectations. I’m not sure anyone is ever going to live up to this.” She handed him back the letters.
Kurt took them and turned them over in his hands. “Audrey… I don’t know what to tell you about our marriage. We’re not acting out some kind of plan or strategy to ruin your life, and being unkind to your dad isn't going to make him love me less, or the other way around. But what I can tell you is that I felt the same way you do when I was 14.”
Kurt put the letters away and nodded at her bedside questioningly. Audrey nodded back and he moved over, sitting down next to her.
“When I was your age, all I could see around me was boys and girls falling in love with each other, walking hand in hand, changing their relationship status on Facebook-”
Audrey wrinkled her nose in disgust.
“That was a thing we did back then, okay? I know Facebook is dead and gone now. Anyway-” he sighed as he thought back at that lonely time. “I didn’t think that would ever happen to me. I mean, I fantasised about it, but the boys I liked never seemed to like very much. It felt like an impossible dream.”
“But that was different,” Audrey said. “You’re gay, and those boys weren’t.” She shrugged. “Sean is straight. I know that much. He just doesn’t like me.”
Kurt chewed his lip. “I know it’s not the same, I am just saying I know what it’s like to have an unreciprocated crush.”
“It’s not a crush!”
“Oh dear, no, of course not, unreciprocated...love? Feelings?” Kurt tried carefully.
Kurt took it as a sign to continue.
“My point is: I didn’t get these when I was fourteen either. I was-” Kurt winced as he calculated. “Oh god, I was like twenty. Wow. I can’t believe it’s been that long…” He trailed off and cleared his throat. “What I mean to say is: just because you aren’t getting such letters now does not mean you never will. And I don’t think having high expectations of romance is a bad thing, actually.”
Kurt paused. “There was a time where my own expectations of romance were, let’s just say… minimal. And if you expect nothing...you settle for a lot less than you deserve.” He took a deep breath. He had been hoping to put this off until she was older but maybe now was the time.
“Before your dad swept me off my feet with his cheezy compliments and his letters-” Kurt smiled a little despite what his daughter had said about them, he still loved them, “there was another boy. My first boyfriend.”
Audrey blinked. “Wait. You dated someone else before Dad?”
“I did. He proposed to me, in fact,” Kurt said softly.
Audrey looked very taken aback. “What!? I thought you and Dad were like...made for each other or something.”
Kurt felt his face go warm. “We are. But I didn’t know that yet.” He eyed the cookies, stalling.“Okay, why don’t I go and get us some warm milk to go with these? I think this is a story that will need that along with the chocolate chip cookies.”
“Okay…” Audrey said, looking a little anxious.
“While I’m downstairs, can you please pick up your laundry from your chair and put it away properly? You’ll be wanting to do your homework at that desk tomorrow,” Kurt added, trying to distract her enough to stop her from worrying until he got back. “I promise I won’t let your dad keep me away long with all of his super romantic kisses and such.”
Kurt ducked away to avoid the pillow flying at his head and chuckled as he made his way down. Telling her about Blaine wasn’t going to be fun, but she may learn something - and at least the story had a happy ending.