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Down Where the World is Ending

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Carole Hummel could tell that her new husband was nervous. Burt hadn't been his normal self since Kurt had moved to Dalton Academy, and Carole assumed that it was just a case of her husband missing his baby. But now she wondered if there was something more to it. They'd had an interesting conversation the day before, when Carole had grounded Finn for a bad grade, and it came out that Burt had never punished Kurt. Not once. Kurt had never been grounded or put on restriction or spanked or put in a time-out chair. She knew that Burt occasionally scolded Kurt, but nothing beyond that ever went down between them. She had known going into their living situation that her husband spoiled his son, but she had been surprised. And yet, though it was clear Kurt had never really been told “no,” Kurt wasn't out of hand.

She really cared about her step-son, and even though he was currently living at a boarding school, she was already attached to him. She was surprised at how quickly Kurt had become an integral part of her life, even back when she and Burt first started dating. So it worried her a bit at how uncomfortable in his own skin Burt looked right now.

“Carole, I have to tell you something. Something big. I've been putting it off for a while, but you need to know.”

“What?” Carole asked. She was sitting on the end of their bed, watching him pace.

“It's about Kurt. Wait, no, I have to start with Karen.”

“Kurt's mom?” Carole asked gently. She knew that it had been hard for Burt and Kurt, losing Karen in a car accident. Sometimes, she was almost glad that her husband had died when Finn was still a baby. In some ways, it was easier for Finn, not having memories.

“It's about how she died,” Burt said.

“A car accident, right?' Carole asked.

“Kind of,” Burt said. “She probably shouldn't have been driving. The chorea hadn't gotten too bad yet, and she was so stubborn. I wanted her to stop driving, but she thought that it would be surrendering, admitting she was sick, so she drove, and when she lost control of her muscles, she drove off the road and crashed.”

“Chorea?” Carol questioned. She was a nurse, she had heard the term before. It was a sort of dyskinesia, right? A neurological disorder.

“Karen had Huntington's Disease, Carol. She'd been showing symptoms for only a few years before she died.”

Carol grimaced. She was familiar with Huntington's. It was a horrible disease. “I'm so sorry, Burt. I'm sorry you had to go through that,” she put her hand on her husband's arm. “But what does that have to do with Kurt?”

Burt looked his wife in the eyes, and Carol saw pain there. Fear, loss, panic, inevitability. She thought about what she knew about Huntington's. It was degenerative, painful, neurological, genetic. Genetic. She saw fear in Burt's eyes. Her hand flew up to cover her mouth as she gasped reflexively.

“Oh, Burt, no! Not Kurt!”

Burt nodded grimly. “Yeah. We had him tested not long after Karen was diagnosed. He has all the genetic markers. Someday, he's going to develop the disease, and we have no way of knowing when. Probably when he's in his thirties, though some people get the symptoms early, or late.”

“Oh Burt,” Carole was on her feet, hugging her husband tightly. “Does Kurt know?”

“Yes,” Burt said. “He knows. He goes to a psychiatrist a couple times a year to keep an eye out for early psychiatric or cognitive symptoms, and he gets regular physicals. Everything looks clear right now, but it's a waiting game. We don't know when he's going to get sick.”

“Why didn't you tell me earlier?” Carole asked.

“Kurt doesn't want people to know. He definitely doesn't want Finn to know. I convinced him that it was right to tell you at least, but he wanted me to do it when he wasn't around. He's afraid it'll change how you look at him.”

“Never,” Carole said adamantly. “He's my son now, and I love him no matter what.”

“I'm glad to hear it,” Burt said. “I also wanted to tell you because of that disagreement we had over punishing Finn.”

“Yes, I thought it was weird that you never punish Kurt,” Carole admitted.

“He's never really needed it. We have a deal, he and I. We know he has a limited amount of time to have a whole lifetime of experiences, and I don't want him to miss anything important, Carole. He's my boy, and I want him to have everything. I know that you have your own rules for Finn, and I'm not saying their rules should be the same, but Kurt pretty much has free reign on his life.”

“I understand,” Carole said. “Our parenting has been very different, 'cause our kids are really different. Finn's always needed a guiding hand. He needs rules and discipline and curfews, because if he didn't have those things, he'd sit in his room and play his X-Box 20 hours a day.”

“Kurt's never needed any of that,” Burt said “He's been pretty self-sufficient for years, and more often than not he winds up taking care of me. He works at the shop and saves his wages, plus the allowance I give him. He has a trust fund set up by Karen's mom, but he's never really needed to use it. He gets a small monthly stipend from it. He does his homework, and studies hard. I know that part of that is because of his fears. When Karen first started to get sick, she would forget things—early symptoms of dementia—and Kurt hopes that if he can keep his mind strong, he won't get sick as fast.”

“Why no curfew?” Carole asked. She didn't want to focus on the reason for Kurt's constant studying. She was happier when she thought he just wanted to impress people with straight As. The fact that Kurt studied so hard because he want to keep him memory sharp hurt her a little, and she wasn't really sure why.

“He's never had a boyfriend,” Burt said, “So I wasn't worried about him having sex too young. He's usually just hanging out with Mercedes, Tina, Rachel or Brittany, or sometimes Becky, and those girls are good for him. He's so much happier now that he has friends. I just want him to be happy, Carole.”

“What about that Blaine boy?” Carole asked, and watched Burt take a deep breath.

“I hope there's something between them. Kurt is an amazing kid and deserves a high school sweetheart just like any other kid,” Burt said.

Carole nodded, then decided to go back to talking about rules. “So you think we should institute a double standard? Different rules for Finn than for Kurt? Finn won't think that's very fair.”

“I know,” Burt said. “And it isn't fair, but it's what I want to do. Kurt's never had a lot of rules, and when he comes home for vacation, I don't want him feeling stifled. Life is hard enough for Kurt. He and I agreed that he has the right to make the decisions for his life, as long as he talks to me about them.”

“Okay,” Carole said. “Separate rules. But we won't tell Finn. If he notices, I'll come up with something, but if I can avoid flat-out telling him that Kurt's getting special treatment, I will. We can also come up with different levels of rules and restrictions, based on grades. Kurt's an A student, Finn's a C student. If he wants more freedom, he can work harder on his grades.”

“That sounds good,” Burt agreed. He embraced his wife tightly. He knew that telling her was important, but somehow, saying it out loud made it more real. He didn't want to watch Kurt decline. He hated to think about his baby boy losing control of his body, his mind his memories. Falling into dementia and losing all self-control. He felt so helpless and angry. Maybe he should go to that group again.

“This isn't fair, Burt. Kurt shouldn't have to go through that,” Carole said.

“I go to a support group, sometimes, for family members of people with Huntington's. The next meeting is on Friday. Will you come with me?” Burt asked.

“Yes,” Carole said.

*****

Kurt and Blaine walked back to Dalton from their favorite coffee place. It seemed completely natural when Blaine took Kurt's hand in his own as they walked. Kurt enjoyed the feeling of Blaine's skin against his own. It was starting to warm up outside, since summer was fast approaching.

“Kurt,” Blaine said, breaking their silence.

“Hmm?” Kurt asked.

“Will you be my boyfriend?” Blaine asked. “I really like you, and I want us to be official before we move out of the dorms for the summer.”

“I'd love to be your boyfriend,” Kurt said honestly. He stopped walked and leaned over to give Blaine a kiss. Blaine kissed him back and Kurt felt so at peace. So glad that he was going to get some of the experiences in life that he wanted above all others. Blaine was amazing and funny and talented and beautiful, and wanted him. Everything seemed so perfect. It was all almost too good to be true.

“So, we're going to be moving soon,” Kurt said. “After I go home, we're going to be moving to a bigger house with enough bedrooms.”

“Are you staying in Lima?” Blaine asked.

“Yeah, dad needs to stay near the garage.”

“Well, maybe I can come over this summer and help you pack,” Blaine suggested.

“I fully intend to spend most of this summer with you, even if I am really busy,” Kurt said, and Blaine laughed. They were heading into the summer before senior year. Their last summer as high school students. Everything was changing, but it seemed to all be changing for the better. All Kurt could think was that he hoped that pattern held out for the foreseeable future. They continued to walk back to campus, holding hands and talking about things.

*****

Kurt was packing up his room at Dalton. He'd finished all his finals, and now he was getting ready to go home for summer vacation. Dalton had been surprisingly wonderful, once he started to fit in. As much as he tried to stand out at McKinley, wearing his fashions and his attitude as a shield, trying to pretend he didn't care that he was different, he found he kind of liked blending in. If people singled him out for things he could control, like his wardrobe and his attitude, then they weren't as likely to single him out for the things he couldn't control. Things like being gay, being flamboyant, and the fact that some day in the future he was going to go crazy, be a prisoner in his own body, and then waste away. But here at Dalton, people weren't allowed to make fun of you for the things you couldn't control, so it didn't matter very much that he didn't have freedom with his wardrobe.

Kurt sighed as he packed his clothes. He shouldn't think about the depressing outcome of his future. Kurt knew that there were people in the Huntington's support community, and in the medical community who thought his parents were negligent or cruel for having him tested when he was six. Eleven years later, he knew that most doctors wouldn't even perform the tests on people who are under eighteen, even when their parents do insist. But parental say is a gray area. When Kurt was a minor, his parents had every right to get him tested for genetic disorder, just like his father had every right to tell him that he had the genes for HD. Besides, Kurt liked knowing better than not knowing—at least that's what he told himself—this way he could try to suck all the marrow from life while he still had the chance.

Like Blaine. Kurt and Blaine had spent a lot of time together while Kurt was at Dalton, and what started out as simple flirting soon gave way to the beginnings of a real relationship. Now they were going home for summer vacation, and Kurt was delighted to learn that Blaine's parents actually lived very close to Lima, and it was only a fifteen to twenty minute drive between their houses, unlike the two-hour commute from Lima to Westerville. He and Blaine had every intention of spending most of the summer together, and Kurt couldn't wait. Also, his dad had found a new house for them, and they were selling Kurt's childhood home. This saddened him, but at the same time he was looking forward to decorating his new room.

There was a knock on his door and Kurt turned to see Blaine standing in his doorway. Kurt motioned for Blaine to enter the room, and wrapped his arms around his boyfriend when he approached. Kurt kissed Blaine gently, so glad that as of two weeks earlier, they were officially boyfriends.

“Hey,” Blaine said when they pulled apart. “You almost finished packing?”

“Just about,” Kurt said. “When is your family coming to get you?”

“Actually, they're already here,” Blaine said. “I came to see if you wanted to meet them.”

“Sure,” Kurt said.

“Cool. They're in my room. They really want to meet you.” Blaine took his boyfriend's hand and led him towards his bedroom. Inside, there were two adults and a girl a couple years younger than him, gathering up Blaine's things. When Kurt saw Blaine's mom, he smiled, because he could see the instant resemblance, as well as where Blaine's exotic features came from. Blaine's mother was a beautiful Asian woman. Blaine's sister, who Kurt remembered was named Shelly, looked slightly more Asian than Blaine did, but the both clearly had a lot of their dad in them. When the tall man turned around, Kurt felt his heart jump into his throat and all the color drain from his face. Dr. Anderson. Blaine's father was Doctor Anderson, Kurt's neurologist. Kurt was suddenly kicking himself for not putting the pieces together sooner. He knew that Blaine's last name was Anderson, and that Blaine's father was a neurologist, but wasn't expecting to be bitch-slapped by reality while meeting his boyfriend's parents.

Kurt locked eyes with the man and shook his head almost imperceptibly. The man gave a tiny nod, and Kurt hoped that it meant Dr. Anderson wasn't going to tell Blaine they were already acquainted. Of course, logically Kurt knew that Dr. Anderson couldn't say anything—Doctor-patient confidentiality and all that—but that didn't stop him from being afraid.

“Ah, so you must be the famous Kurt,” Shelly said, dive-bombing her brother's boyfriend to claim a hug.

“Yep, that's me,” Kurt said weakly.

“It's very nice to meet you, Kurt. I'm Blaine's mom,” Mrs. Anderson said, “But feel free to call me Polly.”

“It's nice to meet you. . . Polly,” Kurt said, pausing slightly before shaking the woman's hand.

“And you must be Blaine's Dad,” Kurt said, looking at Dr. Anderson.

“Yes, it's nice to meet you,” the man said gently, shaking Kurt's hand, and Kurt let out a breath he hadn't even known he was holding.

“So, Kurt, are we going to see a lot of you this summer?” Shelly asked.

“That's the plan,” Blaine grinned.

“Alright, kid, start taking your stuff down to the car,” Dr. Anderson said.

“Okay,” Blaine said, and he and his sister both picked some things up to carry. Mrs. Anderson grabbed a box and followed her children out the door. Kurt soon found himself alone in his boyfriend's dorm room with his neurologist.

“Hello, Kurt,” Dr. Anderson said gently.

“Hi,” Kurt said, still obviously stunned, and a little afraid.

“I'll admit, I'm surprised I didn't realize earlier that you were the Kurt Blaine had been going on and on about for the past few months. I don't think there are too many gay sixteen-year-old boys named Kurt in Lima.”

“I'm seventeen now,” Kurt corrected automatically.

“That's right. And you're due to come visit me next week, since the semester's out.”

“Yes,” Kurt said. “You're not going to tell Blaine, are you?”

“No, Kurt, I'm not going to tell Blaine. And I don't expect you to either, unless you want to.”

Relief flooded Kurt. “Really? You're not going to push me to be honest about everything?”

“No,” Dr. Anderson said. “Statistically, high school romances don't last forever, and I know you're intelligent enough to know that. And you're entitled to all the experiences every other teenager is entitled to. You haven't had any recent tests, but you're healthy enough. And statistically you may not show symptoms for twenty years. I have absolutely no problem with you dating my son.”

“Thank you Dr. Anderson,” Kurt smiled.

“How are you feeling, anyway?” Dr. Anderson said. “No memory lapses or emotional outbursts?”

“No more than any other teenage boy,” Kurt said. “And no memory lapses as far as I can tell.”

“Good,” Dr. Anderson said. “Now, you might want to call your father and tell him about this new connection. We wouldn't want to have to explain to Blaine why your father known me by name if we bump into each other, right?”

“That's a good idea,” Kurt smiled. “And thank you.”

“I've always liked you, Kurt. You're a good kid with a good head on your shoulders, and Blaine seems to really care about you. Besides, what am I always telling you to do?”

“Focus on the present and don't think about the future,” Kurt said. “I'm gonna duck back to my room to finish packing.”

“Alright, I'll let Blaine know,” Dr. Anderson promised.

*****

When he got home, Kurt didn't actually bother unpacking, since his first task was to pack up his bedroom for their big move. Before he got everything packed up, he needed to go through all this things and do a purge, keeping what was important and getting rid of things that were no longer important or useful. He had been home for two hours when Carole found him in his room.

“Hey Kurt,” she said, “Can I come in?”

“Sure,” Kurt said, smiling. He caught Carole's expression, and saw the look of pity she was trying to cover up. Within seconds of entering his basement bedroom Carole had crossed the floor and was hugging Kurt tightly.

“I take it Dad told you, then?” Kurt asked.

“I'm so sorry,” Carole said in his ear. “I'm so very sorry, darling.”

“It's okay, Carole,” Kurt said. “I've had a long time to get used to the idea. I'm not going to live forever but I'm good right now. Please don't treat me any different. And please don't tell Finn because he will treat me different.”

“I won't tell him,” Carole said. “I've been going to the support group with your dad.”

“Okay,” Kurt said. “Hey, I know we're in the middle of packing and reorganizing, but do you mind if I invite Blaine over for dinner tomorrow?”

“No problem,” Carole said. “Are you two official, then?”

“Yeah, for two weeks now,” Kurt said proudly.

“Congratulations. Oh, I'm in the process of making up the grocery list. Anything in particular you want?”

“Some rice cakes might be nice,” Kurt suggested, “And some Nutella. It's vacation, so I can afford to be a little naughty.”

“Sounds good,” Carole smiled as she headed back up the stairs.

 

*****

“So, I'm glad I get to give you a tour of the house before we move,” Kurt said to Blaine. “I've lived here my whole life.”

“It's a very nice house,” Blaine said. He'd been given a quick tour of the house and yard.

“We're going down to my room,” Kurt said, before leading Blaine to the basement steps. Finn was sitting at the kitchen table eating apples and peanut butter while Carole went through coupon folios. When Carole didn't issue the customary “door open,” command that she always gave Finn when Rachel was over, Finn frowned, but didn't say anything, and Kurt and Blaine disappeared in seconds.

 

*****

 

“It's after midnight, is Kurt going to get grounded?” Finn asked from the couch of their living room. Finn had been paying attention to Kurt since he came home for summer vacation. Whenever Blaine came over they went into Kurt's room, turned on music and locked the door. Finn knew the door was locked because he tried it once, and it wouldn't open. When Rachel came over, Finn was always instructed to leave the door open, and he thought it was totally unfair. Now Kurt was out past curfew, and Finn wondered if his step-brother was going to get in trouble. Not that he wanted Kurt to get in trouble. Kurt was his friend, and his brother, but it seemed unfair that Kurt never got yelled at, like, at all.

“No,” Burt said. “Kurt doesn't have a curfew.”

“Why not?” Finn asked.

“Because Kurt is a straight-A student who works part time at the garage, always cleans his room without asking and does a lot of housework,” Burt said. “I've never given Kurt a curfew, as long as he calls me to tell me where he is.”

“That's not fair,” Finn said, looking at his mom and step-father. “I have to be home by midnight even over the summer!”

“Finn, you got almost straight Cs this year, except for a B in Spanish. You don't have a job anymore, you don't keep your room clean, and you don't do any chores unless asked. If you'd like more freedom, start acting more like Kurt,” Carole suggested.

“Hmph,” Finn said, standing up to walk to his bedroom. It wasn't fair that Kurt got to do whatever he wanted.

 

*****

 

“Oh, God, Baby,” Blaine moaned. He'd gotten permission to sleep over at Kurt's for the weekend, and they were making good use of the fact that Kurt's parents never checked on them. Blaine hadn't really understood why Kurt had insisted on buying flavored lube until now, but was completely positive he would never again doubt Kurt's decisions when it came to buying sex aids. Kurt's tongue was. . . there pressing into him in such a way that was causing him to become incoherent as he squirmed into the mattress. But all too soon, Kurt's tongue was gone and his fingers were there, pressing into Blaine. One, two, three fingers, thrusting into Blaine, finding his prostate and stroking it as Blaine moaned again.

“Are you ready?” Kurt asked.

“Y-yes,” Blaine said.

“Roll over,” Kurt said. “I want to see your face.”

Blaine rolled over and found Kurt's eyes. They were such a strange shade of blue, such that Blaine wasn't always sure they were actually blue. But they were beautiful, and full of lust. Kurt double-checked the condom around his hard cock, making sure there was a enough room at the end, then moved Blaine's legs so they were resting over Kurt's shoulders.

“Blaine, I love you,” Kurt whispered, as the head of his cock pressed against Blaine's entrance.

“I love you too,” Blaine said, as Kurt eased into him slowly. This was their first time doing this, and Kurt didn't want to hurt Blaine. He moved, slowly, until he was buried to the hilt inside of Blaine, and leaned forward to catch Blaine's mouth in a hungry kiss. Blaine kissed Kurt back, so full, so alive. Their tongues danced as Blaine became acclimated to Kurt's hot, thick length inside of him. After several moments, Blaine broke the kiss.

“You can move now,” Blaine said.

“Alright,” Kurt said, and slowly slid most of the way out before pushing back in again. “Oh, Babe, you are so tight. Feels so fucking good.”

“You can go faster,” Blaine said, and Kurt kissed him again before doing just that. Speeding up slightly, thrusting in harder.

Kurt moved one hand between them to grasp Blaine's hard cock and pump it awkwardly as he thrust into Blaine. Kurt moved faster, pounding Blaine harder as he pumped Blaine, noticing Blaine's moans when Kurt's cock brushed over Blaine's prostate and trying to repeat the action. Blaine was so close and with two more pulls of Kurt's hand Blaine came hard onto their bare stomachs. Blaine's muscles tightened around Kurt and Kurt let out a husky moan as he thrust into Blaine one last time and came hard, filling the condom. Kurt's softening length slid out of Blaine, and the two collapsed boneless and spent on Kurt's bed.

“That was amazing,” Blaine said.

“Yes,” Kurt agreed. “We should clean up, but I don't want to move.”

Blaine pulled Kurt to him and they hugged each other, tightly. Kurt ran his finger's through Blaine's hair, exhausted, and when his fingers twitched without warning, Kurt convinced himself that his muscles were stressed and overtired.

“We should go take a hot shower,” Kurt suggested, refusing to let any fear into his voice.

 

*****

Burt Hummel loved his new house. He loved his family. His beautiful son, Kurt, his amazing, beautiful wife Carole, his lovable, klutzy step-son Finn. The three of them were his reason for living. They were all doing so well. Kurt had really blossomed at his new school, Finn was popular and well-liked at McKinley and Carole had finally garnered enough seniority at the hospital that she didn't have to work the graveyard shift anymore. It was the end of July, and the summer had been flying by, but they were finally settled into their new home. Kurt had a boyfriend who Burt actually approved of, Finn was head-over-heels for Rachel Berry, and he and Carole were happy. Burt was reflecting on all the good things in his life as he sat at the breakfast table enjoying his one allotted cup of caffeinated coffee per day. His wife had taken Finn to the dentist, and he and Kurt were enjoying breakfast together, the way they hadn't since Burt had married Carole and Kurt had gone to Dalton.

“So, are you hanging out with Blaine tonight?” Burt asked. “After work?”

“No. Blaine has promised Shelly a brother-sister movie night. I think I'm going to either stay in and play video games or see if Brittany wants to do something tonight. Tina and Mercedes are both away on family vacations.”

“You should do something with Finn tonight,” Burt suggested. “Watch movies or play video games.”

“You think?” Kurt asked.

“Yeah. You should talk to him at least. He's been frustrated that I don't punish you or enforce rules for you the way Carole does for him.”

“I was hoping he wouldn't notice,” Kurt said. “Is he making a big deal about it?”

“Some,” Burt said. “Carole told him that if he wanted as much freedom as you get, he should do more housework or get a job, or keep his room clean, the way I never have to ask you to do.”

Burt beamed at his son who took a sip of his coffee and then set the cup down. Kurt rested his hands on the table and looked at his dad.

“Well, if Finn doesn't have any plans with Rachel, I'll see if he wants to hang out with me,” Kurt agreed.

Burt smiled at his son before noticing that that Kurt wasn't looking back at him. Kurt was staring at his hands. As Kurt stared at his hands his right hand jerked, moving about six inches in a wild motion as it knocked into Kurt's coffee cup and knocked it over. The dark brown liquid ran across the table as Kurt started at his own hands in horror.

“Kurt,” Burt said, standing up automatically.

“No,” Kurt said in a strangled voice. “Not now.”

Burt quickly moved around the table to where his son was still staring in horror at his hands.

“No. Not yet. I'm not ready for this yet. I was supposed to get twenty more years,” Kurt said.

“It's okay, Kurt,” Burt said, placing a hand on his son's back. Kurt leaned into his father's touch and Burt practically pulled Kurt onto his feet as he wrapped his arms around his son, hugging him tightly to his chest. “It's going to be okay. We have no way of knowing how much time. We never did. You could still get your twenty more years,” Burt offered, though they both knew it was unlikely.

“Maybe it was just a muscle spasm,” Kurt said hopefully. His voice was obscured because his face was smashed against his father's chest and he was crying,

“Maybe,” Burt agreed, though they both knew it wasn't. Even though Karen had died 9 years ago, both of them remembered what chorea looked like.

When Finn and Carole got home from the dentist office, the coffee had been cleaned up, and Burt and Kurt were both on the couch. Finn's face was swollen up, his pupils were huge, and he kept giggling.

“Burt, Kurt, you're not at work,” Carole said.

“No,” Burt said, “We're taking the day off. We're going to sit on the couch all day and watch musicals.”

Kurt was curled up against his father's side, his head on Burt's chest, a blanket thrown haphazardly over him.

“Finn just had all of his wisdom teeth removed, so I think he's going to be pretty miserable when the meds wear off. Maybe we should all spend the day in the living room,” Carole suggested, pushed Finn towards the couch.

“I think that's a great idea,” Burt said. “What do you think, kiddo?” he asked Kurt/

“Okay,” Kurt said quietly, in a voice that sounded like a wounded kitten.

“What movie are you watching?” Carole asked.

The Wizard of Oz,” Burt said

“I wike da monkeys,” Finn said through a mouth full of gauze. He'd somehow managed to sit himself on the couch.

“Kurt, I'm going to make lunch, is there anything special you'd like?” Carole asked.

“I think we should all have chicken noodle soup and PB&J,” Burt suggested, stroking Kurt's hair back gently.

Carole waited for Kurt to protest about the sodium content of the soup, or about how much simple sugar was in a PBJ on white bread. But Kurt didn't complain. He just nodded awkwardly against his father's chest and snuggled closer. Burt held his son like he was afraid somebody would wrench them apart. Carole could tell that Kurt was upset about something, and she wondered if he and Blaine had broken up. Not wanting to pry, she went to the kitchen to start on lunch.

Carole made up a nice, comforting lunch for everyone. Soup, sandwiches, and even opened a bag of low-salt potato chips. She pulled out a couple of Vicodin from Finn's new prescription before putting the bottle in the fridge, and started bringing lunch out to everyone, setting in up on TV trays.

“Here honey,” Carole said, handing Finn the two pills. He had stopped giggling, so Carole was guessing the remains of the nitrous oxide had worn off. “Take these, it'll help with the pain.”

“Kay,” Finn said, clearly out of it.

Carole joined her husband and her boys, and the four of them sat in the living room watching old movies all day. Burt let Kurt pick all the movies, since Finn wasn't all entirely present in the room. They watched The Wizard of Oz, the Sound of Music, Auntie Mame, and Meet me in St. Louis. When Burt had gotten up to use the bathroom at some point, Kurt had shifted so that Finn was now his human pillow, and Carole had to admit the boys looked absolutely adorable curled up together, asleep on the couch And with Kurt asleep she could finally ask Burt what was going on. She followed him into the kitchen where he was getting himself a snack.

“Burt, what's wrong? Did Kurt and Blaine break up?” Carole wondered.

“No,” Burt said. “Kurt had a muscle spasm this morning. His arm jerked away from him.”

“He's upset over a muscle spasm?' Carole asked, not really getting what Burt was saying.

“We think it's starting,” Burt told his wife. “The Huntington's. We think he had his first symptom. I called Dr. Anderson, Kurt has an appointment next week.”

“Oh God, Burt,” Carole said, hugging her husband.

“Don't bring it up unless Kurt does,” Burt said. “At least not until after the appointment. We need to be strong for him. We can't fall apart.”

“Strong, yes,” Carole said. “I can be strong. For Kurt.”

Burt pretended not to hear her voice crack as she repeated the words like a mantra.

 

*****

 

“Let's go to New York,” Kurt suggested to Blaine.

“What?” Blaine asked, surprised.

“We're seventeen. We're supposed to be impulsive and rebellious, right? We'll get in my Navigator, and and drive to New York. I'll say I'm staying with you, you'll say you're staying with me and we'll infiltrate Broadway. I've got access to more than enough money. I've even got a fake ID from Brett that will at least let us rent a hotel room.”

“I don't know,” Blaine said. “Won't we get in trouble?”

“If we're caught,” Kurt said. “It's, like, the first day of August, there's only a month left of summer and then we're seniors and nothing is the same again. Let's do something exciting while we have the chance.”

“I—okay,” Blaine said, caught up in Kurt's excitement. “Let's go.” It didn't take them a long time to throw some things in the back of Kurt's Navigator and leave. Blaine had a few overnight things at Kurt's already, but Kurt promised him they'd buy new things on the trip. It's part of what made it spontaneous. They were out of Ohio before they left voicemails on their parents' phones, each claiming to be spending the night with the other, which technically wasn't a lie. They were, in fact, together.

“Do you think we'll get in a lot of trouble for this?” Blaine asked as the passed into New York State. They still had, like, eight hours to drive, but they were finally in New York.

“I don't think I'll get in too much trouble,” Kurt said honestly. “My dad and I have a deal. As long as I keep him informed of where I am for the most part—which is why I'll probably call him when we get to New York—and as long as I'm not getting drunk or high, or killing anyone, I'm pretty much allowed to do what I want. And even if he grounds me for the rest of the summer, this will be worth it.”

“I'll probably get grounded,” Blaine said, “But it won't be too big of a punishment. My mom tends to let me get away with everything, and my dad's really forgiving so long as my grades are good.”

“Then let's not worry about the state of our futures, and just enjoy ourselves,” Kurt suggested.

“I like how you think,” Blaine says, kissing Kurt on the cheek.

*****

They managed to get a hotel in New York, using Kurt's credit card and fake ID. They ordered room service and booked tickets to Broadway shows. They went sight-seeing and took a hose and carriage ride through Central Park. After the first night, they called their parents and told them the truth of where they were, and promised they'd be home in a couple of days. They had their dream weekend in New York City, just the two of them.

Everything was exactly the way Kurt had hoped it would be. The shows were amazing, the city was amazing, the hotel room sex was amazing and Blaine was perfect. They walked all around Manhattan, holding hands and taking everything in. They even met a couple of famous Broadway stars who had them drooling. The whole excursion was perfect. So when his fingers started twitching Kurt did his damnedest to ignore it with all his mind. He wasn't going to let it get to him. Not here, during the perfect weekend he'd always dreamed of having.

*****

“He ran away with his boyfriend to New York City without asking and you're not even mad?” Finn asked, flabbergasted.

“Oh, I'm plenty mad, Finn,” Burt said. “I'm angry he lied, I'm angry he didn't ask first, and I'm angry he left the state without adult supervision. Of course I'm angry.”

“So is Kurt gonna get grounded?” Finn asked curiously.

“I'm not sure yet,” Burt said. “Maybe. That's between me and Kurt.”

Finn didn't look very pleased at this declaration. Especially since he'd just gotten grounded by Carol for spending the night at Sam's after saying he was going to spend the night at Puck's, since Carol had told him he wasn't supposed to stay at Sam's. Sam's parents were out of town and she didn't want her son staying anywhere without adult supervision, especially when alcohol might be concerned. Finn was starting to notice that there was a real—what did Tina call it? Oh yeah, a double standard—there was a real double standard going on at his house, and he didn't like it. And more than that, Finn was sure that everyone was keeping something from him. Some sort of big secret.

*****

Kurt dropped Blaine off at the Andersons' house before driving home to his own family. When he pulled into the driveway, he saw his dad standing on the front porch, probably waiting to give him a lecture. Kurt guessed that Dr. Anderson had called him as soon as Blaine had walked in the front door. Kurt got the bags from the back of the Navigator—he'd done a lot of shopping in NY—and started carrying them in. His arms flailed out as he walked toward the house, throwing his bags across the lawn, and Kurt fell to the ground, his body seizing. Burt ran to his son, pulling the shaking boy into his lap. The seizure didn't last very long, but to Burt it seemed like an eternity.

Finn wasn't even aware that his stepbrother had come home from New York until he heard the ambulance pull into the driveway, the sirens still on. When he ran outside, he watched the paramedics loading Kurt into the ambulance, a worried Burt talking to them. There were bags and souvenirs scattered across the yard.

“Finn,” Burt said. “Stay here. Um, carry this stuff into Kurt's room. When your mom gets home from the grocery store, tell her I'll call her as soon as I can.”

“What's wrong with Kurt?” Finn asked, worried. His brother was on that gurney, and it looked like he was shaking. “Did Blaine do something?”

“No, Finn, it's nothing like that. Kurt's sick. We'll tell you everything later, I promise.” Burt said. “Stay here.”

Finn wanted to complain, but there was something in Burt's eyes that scared him. Finn had a feeling that Burt didn't mean Kurt just had the flu or something. He was sick, like, really sick, and everyone had known but him. Finn was torn between wanting to take all of Kurt's things inside and arrange them perfectly, and breaking them all into pieces. Why didn't anyone trust him?

 

*****

“Kurt, when you were younger, you asked me to never lie to you,” Dr. Anderson began.

“It's started, hasn't it?” Kurt asked, sitting back in Dr. Anderson's office. He'd had a seizure. He was exhibiting signs of chorea. He had Huntington's Disease.

“Yes,” Dr. Anderson said. “And with the rapid onset and progression, and because of your age, I'm prepared to classify this as juvenile Huntington's.”

“Mike,” Burt said, because after years of knowing Doctor Anderson, he and Burt were on familiar terms. “How is that different from Karen?”

“About six percent of the people with Huntington's display symptoms before they're adults. These cases usually present with less chorea than in adult cases, and with more seizures. The deterioration happens much faster. But you already know all this, Burt,” Michael Anderson said gently. He'd known the Hummels for a long time. He had been Karen's neurologist and now he was Kurt's.

“How long?” Kurt asked, glaring at his left arm as the muscles in it went rigid.

“You know we have no way of knowing that, Kurt. We have new medications to control the symptoms. You can still go to school, and college, and live a normal life for a while.”

“How long, until I'm unable to function? To take care of myself?”

Dr. Anderson sighed. “With the accelerated progression I'd guess, maybe five to seven years? I want to start you on new medications today, to control the seizures and the chorea, and I have a few therapies I want you to try. They may help you retain your mind longer.”

“How much trouble is Blaine in?” Kurt asks his doctor out of nowhere.

“He's grounded for the rest of the summer,” Dr. Anderson said.

“I can't tell him, but I know I should tell him,” Kurt said. He knew he was being tangential, but he couldn't focus. The news hurt too much.

“That reminds me, Kurt. When we go home, we need to talk to Finn. He saw the ambulance pick you up, but he doesn't know any details yet.”

“I don't want him to know. I don't want Blaine to know. I don't want anyone to know. It's bad enough that I'm gonna be an unresponsive, volatile vegetable in a few years. Can't I just have a little while longer to be a person?” Kurt asked, distraught.

“Kurt, I think you should start coming to the HD support group again. And I'm going to give you both some advice. Start crossing things off your bucket list. I know you and Blaine running off to New York was something like that, which is why he's really only going to be grounded for about a week, provided you guys don't pull that particular stunt again,” Dr. Anderson sighed, looking down at Kurt through sad eyes.

“I didn't think it would feel like this,” Kurt said. “I mean, I've always known my time would be limited. I've always known I'd get sick eventually, but I didn't expect it to happen so fast.”

“I know,” Dr. Anderson said. “And you have a lot to think about. I'm going to write you some prescriptions, and my secretary is going to make you an appointment to come back in a month. I also think you should start seeing your therapist again. You're going to have a lot to talk about.”

Kurt nodded, not saying anything. His left arm was still betraying him, refusing to do what he wanted. Dr. Anderson scribbled him out a few scripts, then sent him to the secretary to make the next appointment. Burt hung back to talk to Mike about a few things, before meeting his son out by the receptionist. Out of habit, Burt pulled Kurt into a hug and Kurt let him. And all Kurt could think was that life really sucked sometimes.

 

*****

 

“Tell me what's going on,” Finn demanded of Kurt the moment Kurt walking into the house. Kurt looked cornered and terrified and overwhelmed.

“Please Finn, I can't do this right now,” Kurt pleaded with his step-brother. “I just want to go take a nap.”

“No way. You ran away and went to another state and didn't even get in trouble. You never get in trouble! Then you come home, and have to go to the hospital? There's something going on in this house, and nobody will tell me what it is. It's not fair! You get away with everything, and it's all because you're sick or something. And if you're sick I should know because you're my brother now! I'm supposed to look out for you! But you're keeping secrets from me and that's not fair!”

Even though he was exhausted, Finn's tantrum pushed Kurt over the edge. How dare he complain about things not being fair. How dare he.

“Not fair?” The exhaustion faded as Kurt was filled with rage. “You think you know a damn thing about fairness? I'M DYING FINN!”

Finn was caught by surprise. “What?”

“I am seventeen years old! I'm supposed to have my whole life ahead of me!” Kurt was in the living room, waving his arms around as he shouted. Finn, Carole and Burt just watched him, nobody knowing what to say. “But instead, this thing is eating my brain!” Kurt picked up the nearest object, which was a vase that some relative had given Carole for the wedding and threw it hard against the wall. The vase shattered and fell to pieces. “You don't get to say that something's not fair!” Kurt screamed at Finn. “Do you know how much I hate you sometimes? You get everything! You're popular and good-looking and everyone likes you. You're going to go to college and get married and have children and a career and a life and a FAMILY!” Kurt was in Finn's face screaming. “And I'm going to get NONE of that! I'm gonna be too busy not being able to think, tucked away in some nursing home somewhere while they feed me with tubes and some stranger wipes my ass for me!”

“I...I didn't know,” Finn said awkwardly..

“I know!” Kurt seethed. “Because even when you were throwing me in dumpsters or nailing my furniture to the roof or throwing pee balloons at me or throwing slushies in my face, you were treating me like a real person.” Kurt picked up a stack of magazines off the coffee table and hurled them at Finn. Finn sidestepped and avoided the magazines, getting closer to Kurt. “I don't want anyone to know. Why do you think I'm such a bitch all the time? I want people to single me out for things I can control! For my voice, my attitude. Not because I'm sick and not because I'm gay! But you wouldn't know what it's like to be different, you're life is SO FUCKING PERFECT!” Kurt punctuated his screams by bringing his fists down on Finn's chest, but Finn didn't budge. He didn't fight back, he didn't say a word. Kurt's screams turned into sobs, and his fists balled up in Finn's shirt as tears streamed down his face. Awkwardly, Finn moved his arms around Kurt in a hug, holding his step-brother as he cried.

Burt came up behind Kurt and put his hand on his Kurt's back. He gently pried Kurt off of Finn and wrapped his arms tightly around his son. Finn noticed his mother there for the first time, in the corner of the room. She had a hand pressed against her mouth, with tears streaming down her cheeks. Finn tasted salt on his lips and realized suddenly that he was crying too. Numbly, Finn walked over to his mom and hugged her.

“Took you long enough,” Burt said softly as he cradled his son, his cheek pressed against Kurt's forehead. “I've been waiting for you to let that out for a very long time, Kurt.”

The four of them didn't pay any attention to how long they were standing in the living room crying. Eventually Kurt excused himself to go take a hot bath and compose himself and Finn was left with his parents in the living. Finn looked up at Burt. Burt looked exhausted and broken, but Finn had a head full of questions and wanted answers.

“Finn, sit down,” Burt said. Finn nodded and sat down on the couch. Carole started cleaning up the mess Kurt had made throwing things.

“What's wrong with Kurt?” Finn asked. “Is he really dying?”

Burt swallowed. “Kurt's mom, Karen, had a disease called Huntington's. It's a degenerative neurological condition, and it's inherited. We've always known that Kurt would get the disease someday, but we never knew when.”

“He's always known?” Finn asked.

“Yes.”

“Why didn't he tell me?”

“You heard him before. People tend to treat Kurt differently when they find out about his Huntington's. So he never wanted anyone to know.”

“And now he has the disease?” Finn asked. He didn't understand all the big words Burt used, but he understood that Kurt was sick, and he was keeping it a secret.

“The thing about Huntington's that is so horrible is that you never know when it's going to show up. Most people don't start showing symptoms until they're in their thirties or forties. Kurt is in the 6% of the population that shows symptoms when they're still underage. When you get the disease younger, it progresses faster.”

“What does the disease do? Is it like cancer or something?” Finn asks.

“It basically eats your brain,” Burt said, trying to use simple description. “We have a lot of books about it, I'll find you some. Basically, what's going to happen is that Kurt's going to lose control of his muscles. He's going to have seizures. He's going to have emotional outbursts and mood-swings. His memory is going to get weaker, and eventually he's going succumb to dementia,” Burt's voice broke on that last word.

“What's dementia?” Finn asks.

“It's like what Great-Aunt Agnes has,” Carole explained, and Finn's eyes widened in horror as he applied his memory of his great-aunt's deterioration to Kurt.

“How long until he's like that?” Finn asked.

“Maybe five years,” Burt said, and Finn could tell he was close to breaking down.

“What does this mean?” Finn asked.

“Try to treat Kurt the same way you always have,” Burt said. “Be his brother. Be there for him. And try not to get mad at him or me when I don't punish him.”

“Okay,” Finn said. He couldn't process all of this. It was too much.

“And don't tell anyone, not even Rachel,” Burt added. “It's up to Kurt who finds out.”

Finn just nodded. He could barely take this all in. He stood up, and without asking to be excused, went off to his bedroom. He had to think about this. But he couldn't think about this. It was too much, all the information didn't want to fit in his head. He closed his bedroom door and flopped onto the bed, burying his face in his pillow. Kurt was right, life isn't fair.

 

*****

Kurt mostly kept to himself for the next two weeks. He put in extra hours at the garage to keep busy while He was on a whole slew of new medications to control symptoms, he was doing cognitive and occupational therapy, and he was seeing a psychiatrist. He was hanging out with his girlfriends in the meantime, but he hadn't run off at all. He was attending family dinners, but never looking Finn in the eye. He had no desire to see the pity he was sure he'd find there.

About a week and a half before school started up again, Kurt was sitting on the couch with Finn while they watched TV. While sitting, the muscles in Kurt's left leg suddenly stiffened, and he threw his leg out awkwardly. Kurt's face turned red as he tried to make his limbs obey. When the muscles wouldn't relax, Kurt settled for throwing a blanket over his legs, hoping to disguise it.

“Does it hurt?” Finn asked. “Can I get you anything?”

“No,” Kurt said, “It doesn't really hurt. It's just embarrassing.”

“What does it feel like?” Finn asked. “You don't have to tell me if you don't want to talk about it.”

Kurt sighed. He didn't want to talk about it. He wanted to ignore it and pretend it wasn't happening, but he didn't think that was feasible anymore.

“Physically, it just feels like the muscles are clenching. It doesn't hurt much worse than a spastic dance move. But when it happens and there are people around,” Kurt looked at his stepbrother, trying to think of a good analogy for his embarrassment. “You know when you're at school or at church or something, and you're surrounded by people, and you just randomly get a hard-on, and you're convinced everyone's staring at it, and you try to will it away, but you're just mortified?”

“Yeah,” Finn says. “I hate when that happens. It's humiliating.”

“That's what it feels like when I have a spasm around people. Something I have no control over is making me a spectacle.” Kurt said. His leg stopped twitching and he was able to tuck it back under him on the couch. He pulled his knees up to his chest and curled under the blanket.

“I always thought you liked being the center of attention,” Finn said.

“For things I can control. For things I'm good at,” Kurt clarified. “For singing and dancing, and for getting good grades or fixing a car. But...what if you had one of those spontaneous erections and everyone was standing around, staring and commenting on it. That would feel awful, right?”

“Yeah,” Finn agreed, and he shuddered at the thought. “Rachel says we've all been acting different lately. She wants to know what's going on.”

“I'm not ready for anyone from glee club to know, Finn. Not yet. It's bad enough that Dad had to notify the faculty at Dalton, in case I have a seizure or something.”

“When are you going to tell people?” Finn asked.

“I'm going to dinner at Blaine's tomorrow night. I'm going to tell him then. His dad's my neurologist, so he should be able to help me explain it. And if Blaine breaks up with me, I'll have a week or so to get over him before I go back to Dalton.”

“You should come back to McKinley,” Finn said. “So we can graduate together. Karofsky won't bother you, now that he's all out of the closet and stuff. Besides, Lauren threatened to chop his balls off and shove them down his throat if he tried.”

“Actually,” Kurt said, “Dad and I have been talking about that. He wants me to come back to McKinley and live at home again. Now that I'm getting sick he doesn't want me 2 hours away.”

“Are you going to come back?” Finn asked, excited.

“I don't know, Finn. Dalton starts a week before McKinley. I'm going for the week, and we'll see how it goes. I really do like Dalton, I like the equality and camaraderie, but I do miss New Directions. Just...don't push me, okay?”

“Okay,” Finn said,

*****

Kurt went to the Andersons' house for dinner. Shelly was with a friend, so it was just Blaine and his parents. They sat around the dining room table, enjoying their food. Dr. Anderson looked at Kurt and smiled sympathetically.

“Kurt, didn't you have something you wanted to tell Blaine?” he pushed gently.

“Yeah,” Kurt responded when Blaine looked up curiously. “Blaine, I haven't been entirely honest with you. I've known your dad for a really long time, since I was little.”

“Why?” Blaine asked curiously. “Or, 'how so?' might be a better question?”

“He was my mom's neurologist when she was alive,” Kurt started, and saw Blaine nod as the answer made sense. Kurt had never mentioned his mom needing a neurologist, but he didn't talk about his mom much anyway. “And now he's my neurologist.”

“What?” Blaine asked, not truly comprehending. “Why do you need a neurologist.”

“I have a genetic disease called Huntington's. I inherited it from my mom, who had it. Have you ever heard of it before?”

“I think so, doesn't one of the girls on House have it?” Blaine asked.

“Yeah,” Kurt nodded. “Anyway, I don't like telling people about it, because they treat me differently. But your dad thought it was important that I tell you, because I recently started showing symptoms. It's going to be manageable for a while, but eventually, in a couple years, it's gonna get really bad. And it's important you know.”

“What does the disease do?” Blaine asked.

“It's a degenerative, neurological condition. I have some books about it upstairs, and I can explain it to you in detail later if you like,” Dr. Anderson said.

“Okay,” Blaine said, and he looked scared and confused. He pushed his plate away. “Want to go for a little walk?” he asked Kurt.

“Okay,” Kurt agreed, and pushed his own chair away from the table, following Blaine outside. Blaine took Kurt's hand in his own as they walked.

“Is this why your fingers twitch sometimes when we hold hands?”

“Yeah,” Kurt said.

“Degenerative. You're dying?” Blaine asked, looking Kurt in the eyes. Kurt couldn't lie to Blaine.

“Yeah. My brain will die before my body does, but..basically, yeah,” Kurt swallowed hard.

“How long?” Blaine asked quietly.

“A few years,” Kurt answered. “Five to seven, your dad is guessing.”

“This really sucks,” Blaine said.

“I know,” Kurt says. “I know.”

“I've just found you. I don't want to lose you. Not ever,” Blaine's voice broke. “There has to be something they can do.”

“There's nothing. We can control the symptoms for a while, prolong the decline. There's no cure.” Kurt took both of Blaine's hands in his own and looked at his boyfriend. “I'm dying.”

Blaine pulled Kurt into his chest, enveloping him in a tight hug, as his tears started to flow.

“Christ. I feel like I'm in a Mandy Moore movie or something.”

“I have much better hair than Mandy, thank you very much,” Kurt quipped, eliciting a watery snort from his boyfriend.

“How can you make jokes at a time like this?” Blaine asked.

“I have to, Blaine. It has to be funny. We have to keep it lighthearted like a fifties musical, because otherwise I can't bear it. It's going to be rough, and it's not going to be pretty, and if you can't handle it, I understand,” Kurt said, squeezing his boyfriend tightly. “High school romances aren't meant to last forever, but I'm unbelievably happy I got to have one at all. You have made my life so much better, Blaine Anderson, just by loving me for a little while.”

“I...Are you breaking up with me?” Blaine asked.

“I'm giving you the chance to walk away. Before you have to deal with seizures and muscle spasms and memory lapses and dementia. Here's your get-out-of-jail free card,” Kurt said, trying not to let any emotion into his voice.

“What are you, stupid or something?” Blaine asked. “I love you. And I want to be with you, even if it's not forever.”

Kurt didn't respond, he just turned his head and caught Blaine's lips in a kiss. Blaine might still change his mind, especially once Dr. Anderson explained all the disgusting and horrifying details of the disease to his son, but at least, for a few more minutes, Kurt had a boyfriend who loved him.

 

*****

 

Kurt went back to Dalton for the first week, but after Burt received a phone call telling him Kurt had a seizure in class, Burt decided to move Kurt back home and send him back to McKinley. Now that David Karofsky was officially out of the closet—and had even written Kurt a formal letter of apology, along with a signed promise not to bully Kurt ever again—there wasn't any real reason for Kurt to stay at Dalton, except that he enjoyed it there. But as much as Burt was determined to give Kurt his freedom, the idea of Kurt deteriorating while Burt couldn't see him on a daily basis terrified the man. So Kurt moved back to Lima, and was enrolled in McKinley for his senior year. Kurt and Blaine didn't break up. In fact, Blaine started driving out to Lima a lot more often.

When the first day of school rolled around, Kurt and Finn drove to school together in Kurt's Navigator. They parked, and started walking into the school. Finn was talking about something completely random, and mock-punched Kurt in the arm when Kurt suddenly went rigid, a look of fear on his face.

“Please don't, Hudson.”

“Huh?”

“Please don't throw me in the dumpsters today,” Kurt said in a small voice.

“Kurt, I haven't thrown you in a dumpster in, like, almost two years,” Finn said, confused, but Kurt still looked scared.

“Yesterday?” Kurt said hesitantly. He seemed lost and confused.

“Kurt, this is the first day of senior year. We drove in to school together. I'm your stepbrother, remember? We live together.”

“We...what?” Kurt asked, confused.

“We live together. Your dad is married to my mom. It happened last fall, they had a big glee wedding and the whole glee club performed,” Finn said, starting to get worried.

“Of course, Finn,” Kurt said, pulling himself up tall. “Who could ever forget that ridiculously heartwarming 'Furt' speech you made?”

“You remember the wedding?” Finn asked, relieved.

“Of course I do,” Kurt said, “It was only a year ago.”

“You didn't remember, a few minutes ago. You thought I was going to dumpster you,” Finn said, and Kurt's eyes widened at the implication.

“I...I forgot you?” Kurt asked. “That's...that's the first time...” he trailed off.

“Memory lapse?” Finn asked quietly, remembering some guy at the support group his mom took him to talking about his dad having memory lapses and not remembering things in the right order.

Kurt just nodded, looking stunned. Finn put his hand on his brother's shoulder.

“Do you want to call Burt and go home, or do you want to go to school?” Finn asked.

“Let's just go to school. But..stay close?” Kurt asked.

“You bet,” Finn promised. “Not gonna let you out of my sight all day. Except maybe during French class, since I'm not actually in Honors French, and I'd seem a little out of place. Or Honors English. But I'll be by your side for the rest of the day. Promise.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Kurt said, before steeling himself to make it through the day.

 

*****

“Porcelain, come into my office,” Sue instructed in the hallway, and Kurt followed the cheerleading coach into her office.

“What's up, Coach?” Kurt asked.

“I want you back on the squad,” she said. “And I'm prepared to make you Head Cheerleader.”

“I can't. I'm sorry, but I can't be a cheerleader.”

“Why?” Sue asked. It was clear from her facial expression that she's expecting some bullshit answer, and in that moment, Kurt knew he had to tell her the truth.

“Because I have developed a degenerative neurological condition that causes me to lose control of my muscles, and to have seizures at random times. If I was on your squad, I couldn't promise you perfection, and Cheerios require perfection,” Kurt answered, and Sue nodded.

“What's the condition?” It was clear she didn't believe him entirely, but if he was lying at least he was creative.

“Juvenile Huntington's Disease.”

“Oh, Porcelain,” she said, her eyes going wide.

Kurt raised a hand to silence her.

“Please, don't. I can take sympathy and platitudes from a lot of people, Coach Sylvester, but not from you. It was bad enough that the guidance counselor had to be notified, and has taken to following me down the hall, making sad puppy eyes when she sees me. I can't take it from you too,” Kurt said, and his eyes connected with her. Sue set her mouth and nodded.

“Got it. So, no Cheerios. You'd better get to class, Porcelain.”

“'Kay,” Kurt said, flashing Sue a smile before stepping out of her office.

*****

“Kurt,” Burt said that evening after dinner. “This year, for Christmas, I want the four of us to go on vacation. To do something special. What's on your list that's big and important? Where do you want to go for Christmas?”

Kurt looked at his dad. He could see how hard it was for his dad to ask him that. He knew that his dad didn't want to admit that Kurt's time was limited, but at the same time, he didn't want Kurt to miss any important experiences.

“I want to see Paris,” Kurt said. “While I'm still lucid enough to enjoy it. We can use my college fund, if you can't afford it. I have no plans to go to college.”

“Paris,” Burt mulled it over. “Well, hopefully I can still remember enough French to get by.”

“You speak French?” Carol asked, surprised.

“He speaks French badly,” Kurt corrected. “Not like me and mom.”

“Karen spoke French fluently. Her parents immigrated here when she was little, she was actually born in France. She taught Kurt French at the same time he was learning English.”

“I thought you knew I was bilingual,” Kurt said to Carol.

“I knew you spoke some French, but I didn't know you were fluent,” she said.

“Yep,” Kurt smiled. “Sometimes I even think in French.”

“So, the whole family needs to apply for passports,” Burt said. “I'll make the appointments to do it this week. If we apply now we should have them by Christmas.”

“We're really going to France?” Finn said.

“We really are,” Burt said, and smiled at his son.

Kurt smiled back at his father. Dying was never meant to be easy, but at least he had his family. They were so good to him. He knew he couldn't leave them to take care of him as a vegetable for the next forty years, but he wasn't going to think about that yet. His plans for the future were his own, and he wasn't ready to focus on them yet.

 

*****

 

The first time Kurt had a seizure at McKinley he'd been back at school for a month. They were working on choreography for a group number, and he was paired up with Quinn for this one. He went to dip her as his muscles began to clench. His limbs went rigid and he dropped Quinn as he fell over, seizing. Quinn screamed loudly as she hit the ground, and then he collapsed onto her, shaking, their limbs tangled.

Finn ran straight for the pair of them and pulled Kurt off of Quinn, rolling him onto his back, placing Kurt's head on his lap.

“Hey Kurt, it's okay,” Finn said softly. The entire glee club stood around them, staring, while Finn held a seizing Kurt. Sam and Tina helped Quinn up.

“Should we call an ambulance?” Rachel asked Finn. “He looks to be having a seizure. Should we not call 911?”

“Not yet,” Finn said. “It'll stop soon. And then Kurt only needs to go to the hospital if he loses consciousness.”

Finn stared down at his stepbrother, making eye contact. Sometimes when Kurt seized, he lost consciousness immediately, and sometimes he stayed awake, and even lucid. It all depended on which part of Kurt's brain was freaking out.

“What's wrong with Kurt?”

“Is it epilepsy? Does Kurt have epilepsy?”

“What's epilepsy?”

“He's never had a seizure before.”

“Can you catch epilepsy?”

Everyone was asking questions at the same time and Finn could barely sort out who was saying what. He stroked Kurt's hair reflexively.

“Guess...cat's...out of...the bag,” Kurt managed to say while shaking. This was one of the ones he stayed conscious throughout. Finn felt bad, because Kurt told him they hurt like hell. Unlike like the chorea which was just annoying, the seizures actually hurt.

“Do you want me to tell them?” Finn asked quietly.

“Okay,” Kurt said. The shaking began to let up some.

“Kurt has a disease, in his brain,” Finn said. “It makes his muscles not work right and makes him forget things. He was born with it, but he only started getting symptoms over the summer.”

“Why didn't he tell us?” Mercedes asked, scared and hurt.

“He didn't want us to treat him weird. He wanted to be treated like everyone else,” Finn explained.

“What's the disease called, Finn?” Mr. Schue asked.

“Huntington's Disease,” Finn said. He looked down to where Kurt had stopped seizing. “You okay?”

“I can't stand,” Kurt said. “My right leg's not working.”

“Do you want to go home?” Finn asked.

“Yes,” Kurt said.

“Okay, put your hands around my neck,” Finn instructed. Kurt did so, and Finn scooped him up in a bridal carry. “Rachel, can you grab our backpacks? I'm going to take Kurt home.”

“Okay,” Rachel said quietly. She went over to to the side of the stage where they'd all set their bags and found Finn's and Kurt's.

“Kurt, are you going to get better?” Brittany asked.

Kurt forced himself to make eye contact with Brittany when he answered her question. He knew that the others would probably google Huntington's as soon as they got home, but this was Brittany. He had to answer her and he couldn't lie.

“No, Britt. I'm not going to get better. I'm going to get worse. And then I'm going to die,” Kurt said. He heard Mercedes gasp and Tina let out a soft cry. “Finn, can we please go home?”

“Yeah,” Finn said. He carried his step-brother out to Kurt's car and positioned him in the passenger's seat. He took the backpacks from an unusually quiet Rachel and put them in the back seat.

“This is why you've all been acting differently lately,” Rachel said.

“Yeah,” Kurt answered her. “Rachel, I'm getting better at talking about it all, but not right now. The seizure hurt and I'm exhausted. I need to go home and take my pills. But tell everyone, that if they want to ask me questions, you can all come over after Glee practice tomorrow. And if you guys want me to quit Glee club, I understand.”

“Quit glee club? Why would we want you to quit?” Rachel asked, surprised.

“It won't exactly help us win Sectionals if I have a seizure in the middle of our performance, will it?” Kurt asked.

“Don't worry about it. You're more important than Sectionals,” she said, and Kurt could see tears pooling up in her eyes.

“Why Rachel Berry, I never thought I'd live to see the day in which you put somebody before show choir,” Kurt said, and smiled at her. “I promise we can talk later, but I have to get home.”

Finn came up next to her and kissed her temple. “I'll call you when we get home, promise.”

“Okay,” Rachel said.

Finn climbed into the driver's seat and started up the Navigator.

“You doing okay?” he asked, concern in his voice.

“I'm a little embarrassed. And I hurt, and I'm exhausted. And hungry.”

“Well, when we get home, we can hang out on the couch and watch movies, after you take your pills.”

“We should order pizza,” Kurt suggested. “I haven't had pizza in ages.”

“I though you didn't like pizza because it's so fattening,” Finn said.

“I'm already dying. I might as well enjoy the time I've got left,” Kurt said, smiling sadly.

“I wish you wouldn't say stuff like that,” Finn frowned.

“Finn, it's the truth. I'm dying. And it sucks, a lot, but we can't pretend it's not happening.”

“Why not?” Finn asked.

“Because then I wouldn't be able to finish the things I need to finish first. I want you to promise me something.”

“What?” Finn asked.

“When I'm gone, will you call Mercedes up sometimes, and remind her how beautiful she is? People don't tell her enough, and she forgets, so I need you to remind her when I can't anymore,” Kurt said, his voice cracking slightly as he thought about his best friend. He didn't want to leave her. He didn't want to leave any of them.

“I promise,” Finn agreed.

 

*****

The next day at school it was clear that the gossip mill had worked fast. Tina texted him during first period to tell him that Jacob Ben Israel posted on his blog that Kurt Hummel was dying. Several @mentions on his Twitter informed him “It's about time, faggot.” Kurt tried to ignore them. The intense bullying had mostly died down, but the nasty comments still happened. Kurt was prepared for the whispers and comments, but he hadn't been prepared for Dave Karofsky to approach him during morning study hall. After the long apology letter Karofsky had written him over the summer, Kurt hadn't actually spoken to the other boy. The former bully had been mostly avoiding him since he'd returned to McKinley. The rumor mill often featured Karofsky too. About how he was gay, and dating some college boy from Columbus.

“Can I sit here?” Karofsky asked.

“Okay,” Kurt said hesitantly, “If you promise not to hit me or anything.”

“I promise,” Karofsky said. “I've been going to anger management classes, and seeing a therapist, and I've been going to a gay teen group in Columbus. It's nice, you should come sometime.”

“I heard you have a boyfriend,” Kurt said, making awkward conversation.

“Yeah. His name is Brian. He's a freshman at CCAD, the art college in Columbus,” Dave said, giving a goofy smile as he thought about the other boy.

“Is he cute?” Kurt asked.

Karofsky pulled out his cellphone, found a picture, and handed the phone to Kurt. Kurt flinched slightly when their fingertips brushed, but he accepted the phone and looked at the picture. The boy had blonde hair down to his shoulders and a beard the same caramel color. Actually, the first thought Kurt had was that the boy kind of looked like that picture Quinn had on her bedroom wall of Jesus.

“Is it weird to say he kind of looks like Jesus?” Kurt asked, raising one eyebrow, before he handed the phone back.

“Everyone says that,” Dave said smiling. Then he drew quiet for a minute. “Are the rumors true? Are you dying?”

“I have a genetic disorder that's causing me to deteriorate, yes. I'm going to die.”

“I'm really sorry, Hummel. That seriously sucks.,” Karofsky said, staring down at the table.

“It does,” Kurt agreed.

“Look,” Karofsky said, pausing for a moment then starting again. “Do you think we could be friends?”

“I don't know, Kar—Dave,” Kurt said, choosing to use the other boy's first name. “You really fucked up. You made my life a living hell for months, and chased me out of my own school. You sexually harassed me and threatened my life. And that's not to mention all the clothes you ruined with the slushies and the dumpster tosses. You cracked two of my ribs checking me into a locker.”

“I broke your ribs?” Karofsky asked, “I didn't know that. I'm so, so sorry. I know I got out of hand, but I didn't know I broke your bones! I can understand if you don't ever want to forgive me. I was such a douchebag.”

Kurt held up his hand to silence Karofsky.

“You have a lot to make up for, Dave. Yes, you were a rotten person. And no amount of fear or internalized homophobia can justify that. But I don't have enough time left to waste holding a grudge. I'm not going to trust you right away, but I'm willing to give you a chance. But if you fuck up again, we're through, and I won't want you to even cross my path until graduation.”

“That sounds fair,” Dave said. “So, are you still with Pretty Boy, from the prep school?”

“Yeah,” Kurt said. “We've officially been together about four months now. He's wonderful.”

“I'm glad,” Karofsky said. “You deserve somebody amazing.”

They talked about their respective boyfriends for the rest of study hall. Kurt felt oddly pleased that he'd been able to come to this resolution with Karofsky. They'd never be BFFs, but it was a loose end he'd managed to tie up. There were a lot of loose ends in Kurt's life, and he didn't like that. He wanted everything wrapped up before he left. He wanted closure for himself and for everyone in his life.

After study hall he met Mercedes by her locker to walk with her to lunch. He was there, and he could see sadness and betrayal on her face.

“Why didn't you tell me?” were the first words out of her mouth.

“I wasn't ready. I wasn't ready to admit that I'm not going to be with you forever. I wasn't ready to admit that I'm not going to be there to watch you turn into a superstar diva who tops all the charts. And the fact that I'm going to miss that breaks my heart,” Kurt said. He stopped in the middle of the hallway to look her in the eye. She looked like she was about to cry. He threw his arms around her and hugged her tightly.

“This isn't fair. We're only seventeen. You're not supposed to be dying,” Mercedes said.

“I know, Hon, it really sucks. Let's go get some lunch,” he suggested.

 

*****

 

After school, Kurt walked into glee practice. Everyone was sitting around talking, but the stopped when he entered the room. He knew they were talking about him. He grabbed one of the stools, pulled it to the center of the room, and sat on it.

“Alright, ask away,” Kurt said. Nobody said anything. “Okay. I'm guessing most of you looked up Huntington's on the internet last night, and learned that it's a really nasty genetic disorder. If nobody knows what to say, I'll start at the beginning. My mom had Huntington's. Her parents were carriers but neither of them had the disease. My mom started showing her first symptoms when I was little. When I was eight, she went to the store, and lost control of her muscles. She accidentally drove off the road and she died. I've known that I have Huntington's since I was, like, six. I always knew that I'd get sick one day, but I didn't tell you guys, because I didn't expect it to happen until I was in my thirties or forties. Unfortunately, I'm in the 6% of Huntington's patients with the early-onset form. The big difference between juvenile HD and regular HD is that it's faster. I've only got a few years left.”

The glee club looked shell-shocked and heartbroken and confused. The girls all looked like they're either been crying or they wanted to cry, and most of the boys looked just as shaken.

“There's nothing they can do?” Quinn asked.

“No,” Kurt said. “There's no cure. I take a bunch of medicines and do different therapies to work on controlling the symptoms, but symptom management is the best we can hope for right now. Listen, I understand if you guys want me to quit the glee club. It's going to be weird having me around, and I don't want to fuck up your chances for winning senior year. And now that Lauren 's in the club, you don't have to worry about not having twelve members.”

“If you quit glee club I'll kick your ass,” Lauren said.

“We don't care if you have a seizure in the middle of Sectionals,” Rachel said. “You're important, and you're on the team. We want you to stay with us.”

Kurt had been so convinced that they were going to ask him to leave that he couldn't help it. His eyes started to fill with tears and he started to sniffle. At the sight of him, the girls who weren't crying, started, and some of the guys were crying too. Before anyone really knew what was happening, everyone got up and they surrounded Kurt in a huge group hug.

“Hey guys,” Mr. Schue said, coming up behind them.

“Hi Mr. Schue,” Kurt said, his voice almost completely muffled by the group hug. Everyone laughed through their sniffles and stepped away so Kurt could see Mr. Schue.

 

“Hey Kurt, are you feeling better today?” Mr. Schue asked.

“Today is a good day,” Kurt answered. “Especially since I offered to leave the group, and they threatened me with bodily harm if I tried.”

“I guess that settles that then,” Mr. Schue said, giving Kurt a sad smile. “Listen, Kurt, if you think you're up for it, I have an idea for a solo for you for Sectionals.”

“Okay,” Kurt said, side-eyeing Rachel, waiting for her to explode. “Seriously?” he asked Rachel. “You're not going to fight me for a solo?”

“Will I get a solo at Regionals?” she asked Mr. Schue.

“I think so,” Mr. Schue said, “Probably only half a song, though.”

“Okay then,” Rachel said. “You take the solo, Kurt. You haven't had a competition solo yet, and I've had several.” The 'and I'll have lots of opportunities in the future for solos and leads, and you won't,' was unspoken, but Kurt understood that was her reason for relenting. But the two of them had grown close over the past year, and Kurt understood that not fighting him for solos was the biggest gift she could give him. It was Rachel's way of saying, 'I love you.' He hugged her, and then they all got back to practicing for Sectionals.

*****

“Do I want to know why Jacob Ben Israel is wearing an incredibly ugly ski cap and dark sunglasses, and ran away like a mouse when I saw him in the hallway?” Kurt asked Puck after math class the next day.

“Finn, Sam, and I held him down and shaved his head, along with giving him a black eye for writing stuff about you,” Puck said. “I don't think he'll bother you anymore.”

“While I don't condone violence as a deterrent for anything, thank you,” Kurt said.

“I've been praying for you at Temple,” Puck blurted out. “I mean, I know you don't believe in G-d or heaven or anything, but it made me feel better. Like I was actually doing something. You don't mind, do you?”

“No, I don't mind,” Kurt said. “I've never really believed in God, but I'm glad it makes you feel better. And it means you care, which 2 years ago, I'd never have believed.” They were walking down the hall together when Kurt's arm flew out wildly and his books scattered across the hall.

“Note to self, start using my shoulder bag between classes again.” Kurt wanted to pick all his books up and disappear from the hall, where people are staring at him, but his arm was still twitching wildly, and there was no way he could pick them all up. But he didn't need to. Puck picked up all of Kurt's books and his pencils, and stacked them. He came over to Kurt, holding the other boys books under the opposite arm as his own.

“Where to next?” Puck asked.

“You don't have to carry my books for me,” Kurt said.

“Don't sweat it,” Puck said. “Where to next?”

“My locker,” Kurt pointed with the hand that wasn't awkwardly dancing at the end of his arm. Puck made it to the locker and set all the books on the floor.

“What's the combination?” Puck asked.

“27-3-13,” Kurt said, and Puck deftly spun the dial.

“Which books do you need for your next class?” Puck asked.

“Just the green notebook and my history book, which is on the bottom,” Kurt said.

Puck put away Kurt's books and pulled out the ones Kurt needed, before closing the locker. He escorted Kurt to class without complaint, and set the books on Kurt's desk for him.

“See you at glee,” Puck said, before disappearing off to his own classroom.

For the first time in his life, Kurt was grateful for Noah Puckerman.

 

*****

“Stand still, all four of you. Let me get this picture!” Carole said. It was the night of the Homecoming Dance, and Blaine and Kurt stood together in their suits, with Finn and Rachel. Rachel had consented to letting Kurt help her pick out her Homecoming dress, and she looked stunning. The gown flattered her perfectly. The four teenagers lined up in the living room while Carole got weepy and took pictures.

“Home by 2AM, all of you,” Burt instructed. “And no drinking. But if somebody spikes the punch or something call me and I will come and pick you up. Do not get behind the wheel of a car with alcohol in your systems. Do you all promise me?”

“Yes Dad,” Kurt said, and the other three kids nodded. When Carole had finished fawning and snapping pictures, they got in the Navigator, and the four of them headed off to the Homecoming dance.

It was an average high school dance. They hung around, talked, drank punch, joked around with each other, applauded when Sam and Quinn got Homecoming King and Queen, and danced. When the familiar strains of a Regina Spektor song filled the room, Blaine took Kurt's hand again.

“This song always makes me think of you,” Blaine said. “Of us.”

Kurt smiled, and followed his boyfriend onto the dance floor, resting his head on Blaine's shoulder as they held each other closely, listening to the lyrics.

“They made a statue of us
And it put it on a mountain top
Now tourists come and stare at us
Blow bubbles with their gum
Take photographs have fun, have fun

They'll name a city after us
And later say it's all our fault
Then they'll give us a talking to
Then they'll give us a talking to
Because they've got years of experience
We're living in a den of thieves
Rummaging for answers in the pages
We're living in a den of thieves
And it's contagious
And it's contagious

We wear our scarves just like a noose
But not 'cause we want eternal sleep
And though our parts are slightly used
New ones are slave labor you can keep

We're living in a den of thieves
Rummaging for answers in the pages
We're living in a den of thieves
And it's contagious
And it's contagious

They made a statue of us
They made a statue of us
The tourists come and stare at us
The sculptor's marble sends regards
They made a statue of us
They made a statue of us
Our noses have begun to rust
We're living in a den of thieves
Rummaging for answers in the pages
We're living in a den of thieves

And it's contagious
And it's contagious...”

The two boys danced, holding each other close, enjoying each other's company, reveling in the warmth of the other's skin, the scent of his hair, the beat of his heart. Tonight, they were all that mattered. The dance, the company, the feelings bubbling beneath their skin was all that mattered. Kurt looked Blaine in the eyes before leaning forward to kiss him while they danced. Tonight they were immortal.

 

*****

 

Kurt sat across from Dr. Anderson, waiting for the results from his most recent tests. Burt was at work, but Kurt was almost eighteen, so he could handle a doctor's visit by himself. Dr. Anderson set the files on his desk and looked at Kurt.

“That's your bad news face,” Kurt observed. “What is it?”

“The disease is progressing much faster than I'd anticipated,” Dr. Anderson said. “Five to seven years is no longer a reasonable estimate.”

“What's a reasonable estimate?” Kurt asked.

“Two years,” Dr. Anderson. “If the rate of decay holds steady and doesn't increase again, two years.”

Kurt nodded, resolved not to cry. He was already relatively certain he wasn't going to college. Now he knew for sure. This sped up his plans. He had to work on his lists. There were still so many things to do, so many things to take care of before he left his family alone. He looked up at his doctor.

“My dad's taking us to Paris for Christmas. Can Blaine come with us?” Kurt asked.

“I'll have to talk to his mother, but I think under these circumstances, the answer will probably be yes.”

“Good,” Kurt said.

“In case I don't see you before next week, happy birthday,” Dr. Anderson said. “Eighteen is exciting.”

“Yeah. It's a pity I won't see 21,” Kurt said.

“Kurt, are you still going to counseling?” Dr. Anderson asked.

“Yes,” Kurt said. “I'm working through my stages of grief. But I keep going back and forth between anger and acceptance.”

“Well, that's normal, I think, especially for Huntington's patients.”

“I know,” Kurt said.

“Okay, so, here's your new prescription. It should help with the seizures, but you can't have any alcohol while this is in your system.”

“That's fine. I haven't had alcohol since I was sixteen and I barfed all over my guidance counselor.”

“That would do it,” Dr. Anderson smiled. Kurt got up, shook the Doctor's hand and went out to the waiting room where Finn was waiting for him, playing some mindless game on his DS Lite. Burt didn't want Kurt driving anymore, not wanting a repeat of Karen's death ten years ago. They stopped at the pharmacy and went home.

 

*****

 

“So, what are we doing here?” Mercedes asked. She, Tina, Blaine, Brittany and Rachel were squished in the back of the Navigator while Finn drove.

“It's my eighteenth birthday, I'm getting a tattoo,” Kurt said.

“I'm getting one too,” Blaine said.

“Santana's brother works at the tattoo shop,” Brittany said, “The rest of the club is meeting us there, and he said so long as we keep our mouths shut about who did it, we can all get one.”

“Awesome,” Tina said. “I'm glad I turned eighteen two weeks ago.”

“My mom's going to kill me, but I don't really care,” Blaine said. “I think this is a great idea.” Blaine reached forward to where Kurt sat in front of him, and lightly stroked the back of Kurt's neck with his fingers. The two of them usually kept all PDA to a minimum in public, but this was around their friends, so they were safe. When the car parked outside the tattoo parlor, Blaine took Kurt's hand in his own, and quickly kissed his boyfriend on the cheek.

They met up with their friends at the tattoo parlor, and went inside. Kurt decided on the notes and lyrics from the chorus of Defying Gravity. Blaine also chose a musical tattoo, only he picked a section of lyrics from Teenage Dream: “I finally found you, my missing puzzle piece. I'm complete. Let's go all the way tonight, no regrets, just love. We can dance until we die, you and I, we'll be young forever.” It was the song Blaine had sung the day he met Kurt, but the lyrics had more meaning to him now. Kurt wasn't going to live forever—except in Blaine's memory—they were going to be parted, and soon. Blaine was determined to spend as much time with Kurt as possible, for as long as he could.

Everyone got a tattoo. Even Mercedes and Quinn, who had been squeamish about the idea at first. But this was for Kurt. The New Directions crew wouldn't have that many more outings like this. This was their last year together. They were going to graduate, and move on. Some of them getting jobs, some of them going to college, and one of them was going to die.

 

*****

The first Thanksgiving of the joined Hudson-Hummel family had been right after the wedding, and had been very small, just the four of them. This year, both Carole and Burt had invited their extended families, and it was going to be a great big deal. Burt had invited all of Karen's relatives too, because even though Karen was gone, they were still family. Everyone was throwing themselves into plans for the holiday. The unspoken motivation, of course, was the fact that this would likely be Kurt's last—lucid—Thanksgiving. Blaine, Rachel and Mercedes had all gotten permission from their parents to skip their own family celebrations in favor of the Hudson-Hummel affair. Family had slowly started showing up, a few days in advance, and was being put up in the two guest rooms, as well as in sleeping bags on floors and couches. Finn had been instructed to give up his bed for Kurt's Grandmama, and was sleeping on Kurt's floor. Kurt tried to offer his own bed, but had been rebuffed by his family, who didn't want him sleeping on the floor.

For a family with Huntington's, reunions were always tense. Some people chose to get tested for the gene and some people chose not to. Of his whole maternal family side, Kurt and his Uncle Phil were the only ones to show symptoms. And because Uncle Phil was in his forties before he even started showing symptoms, his disease was progressing much slower. He had three children, two older than Kurt and one younger. None of them had been tested for the disease yet. Since Kurt's symptoms had begin, he hadn't seen any of his family except his grandmother, and Kurt was nervous about seeing them. He was also nervous to see his paternal relatives—who were notorious for being homophobic—and Finn and Carole's relatives, most of whom he'd never met. But as nervous as he was, he was looking forward to the big family Thanksgiving. They hadn't hosted a big family Thanksgiving since Karen had died—Burt and Kurt either celebrated with just the two of them, or traveled to whichever family branch was holding the big meal—and Kurt missed it. Thanksgiving had been his favorite holiday when he was little.

Thanksgiving morning, Finn woke up long before the sun was up, because Kurt was crying. Finn got up and saw Kurt, still in bed, his whole body shaking again.. Finn sat down on the edge of Kurt's bed and ran his hand across Kurt's forehead. He'd seen Mercedes do this, and he'd done it before when Kurt seized, and it always seemed to make Kurt feel better. A couple of cousins were asleep in sleeping bags on the floor, but they hadn't woken up yet.

“Shh,” Finn said gently, “It's going to be okay.”

“I need my medicine,” Kurt said. “The one with the green dot on top.”

Finn looked at the large number of pill bottles on Kurt's bedside table. How many were there? Ten, fifteen? Finn hadn't counted, but there were a lot. He found the one with the green dot and opened it.

“Two,” Kurt said, and Finn fished out two pills. He propped Kurt up, slipped the two tablets into Kurt's open mouth and reached for the water bottle on Kurt's bedside sable, unscrewing the cap and holding it to Kurt's lips. Kurt swallowed the pills, then Finn lowered him back onto the bed.

“Distract me?” Kurt asked Finn through the shaking.

“How?” Finn asked.

“Sing something?” Kurt asked.

Finn's eyes looked back at the two sleeping cousins, who looked out cold. He tried to think of a song that wasn't romantic, 'cause the two of them weren't even liked that. He wanted to pick a song that would make Kurt laugh. He suddenly thought of a song and grinned.

“Some people call me the space cowboy yeah
Some call me the gangster of love
Some people call me Maurice
Cause' I speak of the pompetous of love
People talk about me baby
Say I'm doin' you wrong, doin' you wrong
But don't you worry baby don't worry
Cause' I'm right here at home
Cause' I'm a picker
I'm a grinner
I'm a lover
And I'm a sinner
playin' my music in the sun
I'm a joker
I'm a smoker
I'm a mid-night toker
I get my lovin' on the run
Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh
You're the cutest thing that I ever did see
I really love your peaches
Want to shake your tree
Lovey dovey, lovey dovey, lovey dovey all the time
Ooh wee baby, I sure show you a good time
Cause' I'm a picker
I'm a grinner
I'm a lover
And I'm a sinner
playin' my music in the sun
I'm a joker
I'm a smoker
I'm a mid-night toker
I sure don't want to hurt no one
Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh
People keep talkin' about me baby
Say I'm doin' you wrong
Well don't you worry, don't worry, no don't worry mama
Cause' I'm right here at home
You're the cutest thing I ever did see
Really love your peaches want to shake your tree
Lovey dovey, lovey dovey, lovey dovey all the time
Come on baby now, I'll show you a good time.”

It worked. Kurt was rolling his eyes and smiling, and as the seizure stopped, he looked relaxed.

“Hey, I know you're a lot cooler about stuff than you were last year,” Kurt said, “But you're not gonna flip out on Sam for singing the ballad with me at Sectionals, are you?”

“No,” Finn asked. “I know you're with Blaine, and Sam is completely cool with it. Besides, Sam's voice fits the male part perfectly, and you kick butt at the chick part. Are you nervous about Sectionals?”

“A little worried I'll ruin my first competition solo by seizing in the middle of it, but apart from that I'm not nervous.”

“You know, I think it was really smart of Mr. Schue to pick the competition songs almost a month before the competition this time. I bet we'll be better than ever,” Finn said.

“Did you know that the Warblers usually pick their Sectionals songs in September, and work on them the whole time?”

“Really? That must be why they're so good,” Finn said. He watched Kurt yawn as the meds kicked in. “Go back to sleep.”

“Okay,” Kurt said, yawning again. He rolled over and curled up on his side, and drifted off pretty quickly. Finn made sure his stepbrother was asleep before he climbed back into his sleeping bag.

“Finn?” his little cousin Jeffery whispered. “What's wrong with your new brother?”

“He has a sickness in his brain that he was born with. It makes his body do weird things sometimes.”

“Is it catching?” Jeffrey asks, worried. “I don't want to shake like that.”

“It's not catching, I promise,” Finn said. “Don't wake him up though. If you can't go back to sleep, go upstairs. I bet Grandma's already in the kitchen.”

“Okay,” Jeffrey said, wiggling out of his sleeping bag and running out to the kitchen. In the new house, Kurt and Finn both had bedrooms on the second floor with an adjoining bathroom for the two of them. The basement here had been converted to a really nice rec room for the kids to hang out in with their friends.

 

*****

 

When the Macy's parade started, Kurt got prime real estate on the sofa in the rec room, nestled between Blaine and Mercedes. Finn sat on the floor, with Rachel perched in his lap. Most of their other cousins were scattered around the room. Kurt and Finn had known that some of their friends were coming over for Thanksgiving. They hadn't expected their whole entire glee club to skip out on a family holiday just to spend some time with Kurt.

Everyone had a blast watching the parade. There was one point when Kurt's arm started waving wildly with chorea. Blaine just pulled Kurt closer to him and kissed the side of his neck. Most everyone ignored the movement, except for one of Kurt's cousins from his father's side Finn was just about to ream into the kid when Santana leaned over and whispered something in the boy's ear. The boy's eyes grew wide and he ran out of the room, a look of terror on his face.

“What did you say to him?” Jeffery asked.

“You really don't want to know,” Santana said. “Nobody laughs at Kurt and gets away with it.”

 

*****

 

The dinner was huge. Kurt and his Grandmama had long, involved conversations in French. Kurt spent most of his time with his school friends and his Grandmama. It was an odd gathering; most of Kurt's relatives seemed to be aware that this would probably be their last Thanksgiving with Kurt, but most of Carole's family didn't understand the severity of Kurt's illness. A lot of the exchanges were really awkward. There were more people in the house than could all fit in the dining room, so they stretched out to the kitchen and living room. When dessert was being served, Kurt was fed up.

“Can we talk about the elephant in the room?” Kurt asked.

“Your sexuality?” Santana quipped. She'd said the same thing once before, and the New Directions kids giggled at the memory.

“I want to thank everyone for coming to our first Thanksgiving together in the new house...and my last,” Kurt said. Blaine reached out and took Kurt's hand, squeezing it gently. He knew that Kurt was afraid of some of his family members. That wasn't a secret. But now that he was dying, he wanted some closure with his family, even the ones he didn't like much.

Mildred Hummel—Burt's little sister—with almost a full bottle of wine in her, stood up across the table from her nephew.

“Some of you haven't treated my nephew very well,” she said, leveling her eyes specifically at her and Burt's uncle Frank, the most vocal homophobe in the family. “None of you deserve him. He's too good for this family, and this town, and doesn't deserve the lot that was handed to him. I hope you're ashamed of yourselves.” She looked at Kurt. “You're beautiful and amazing, kiddo. I can't wait to come see your solo at Sectionals.” Mildred's drunken tirade broke up conversation for a little while.

“You know,” Finn said to Kurt and Rachel, “I've never seen the musical that song Kurt's singing is from.”

“Me neither,” Sam said, “I'm doing the other part.”

“We should go down to the rec room and watch it,” Rachel suggested.

“That sounds like a good idea, kids, go invade the rec room,” Burt said. He didn't like the way some of his relatives were staring at Kurt. He wanted his kid to have a good time. The kids headed down to the rec room.

“Kurt, are you going to be okay watching Rent?” Rachel asked Kurt.

“Yeah, Rach. It hits a little closer to home now, but it's still one of my favorite musicals. It's comforting.”

“Good,” Rachel said, giving Kurt a hug before heading down to the rec room. They popped in Kurt's Rent DVD and made themselves comfortable.

“Hey, doesn't she kind of look like Rachel's mom?” Quinn asked, pointing at Maureen.

“She does!” Mercedes said, and everyone giggled as Rachel tried to convince her friends that Idina Menzel looked nothing like her birth mother.

Rachel, Kurt, Tina, Mercedes and Blaine sang along with all the songs, really getting into it. Blaine picked up all of Mark's parts and Collin's parts, while Kurt sang Angel's parts and most of Mimi's parts. Mercedes grabbed Joanne's parts. Tina sang along with Roger's parts—albeit and octave above—and Rachel switched between Maureen and Mimi's parts. Although, honestly, they all seemed to sing along with it all, not caring much about specific parts, just enjoying singing together.

At the second Life Support meeting, Kurt's voice got quieter. He was sitting cuddled against Blaine, and when “Will I?” began, Blaine pulled Kurt so much tighter against his chest. The song was only four lines, repeated several times, but it had so much more meaning than it had to any of them before.

“Will I lose my dignity?
Will someone care?
Will I wake tomorrow,
From this nightmare?”

Kurt had tears in his eyes, and the movie-watching ceased for a few moments while New Directions enveloped Kurt in a tight group hug. The scene changed but everyone kept hugging Kurt.

“Alright guys, thanks for the support, but can I breathe a little?” Kurt asked, laughing slightly. The impromptu cuddle puddle broke up with some giggles.

The movie moved onto the scene in the subway, and Kurt and Blaine giggled.

“We so did this when we went to New York in August,” Blaine said, pointing to Collins and Angel dancing through the subway car.

“It was seriously awesome,” Kurt said. “Definitely one of my top ten moments.” He turned his head and caught Blaine's mouth in a quick kiss.

“You guys are crazy,” Puck said, “But in a good way.”

“Definitely a good way,” Blaine agreed.

When “I'll Cover You” came on, Kurt and Blaine sang it to each other, not really paying attention to the rest of the room. But it moved on, and they watched the whole movie, crying at parts, laughing at parts, and singing along together. It was definitely a moment they'd all hold on to.

“Dude, you should just transfer to McKinley already,” Lauren said to Blaine when the movie was over. “You're practically in our glee club as it is.”

“I asked my parents,” Blaine said, “They said no. Dalton will look better on college applications, and my dad wants me to go to an Ivy League school like he did,” Blaine wrinkled his nose.

“How are the Warblers doing?” Kurt asked randomly.

“Good. They miss you. They're always asking after you,” Blaine said.

“Do they know why I transferred?” Kurt asked.

Blaine nodded.

“Are you guys ready for Sectionals?” Mercedes asked.

“Totally,” Blaine said. “You guys?”

Everyone nodded, or answered in the affirmative. Sectionals would be exciting.

 

*****

 

As usual, New Directions went last at Sectionals. Jane Adams' Academy was there again, and they drew the first slot, the Warblers going second. Blaine found Kurt's eyes while performing, and sang directly to him while the Warblers performed. Then it was time for New Directions to go on.

Kurt's song started with him standing along on the stage, just singing. He put his whole self into the song, singing it with all the emotion he could muster. This was one of Mimi's songs, and Kurt understood Mimi. The fear of death, the desire to live in the moment, and at the same time the refusal to accept the inevitability of the future. To want to use people and drugs and things as crutches to get through the fear of death. The knowledge that there was something inside you, killing you slowly and silently, without your permission. The feeling of being utterly and completely alone at times. Kurt understood Mimi.

“Without you, the ground thaws
the rain falls
the grass grows

Without you, the seeds root
the flowers bloom
the children play

The stars gleam
the poets dream
the eagles fly
without you

The Earth turns
the sun burns
but I die, without you

Without you, the breeze warms
the girl smiles
the cloud moves

Without you, the tides change
the boys run
the oceans crash

The crowds roar
the days soar
the babies cry
without you

The moon glows
the river flows
but I die without you”

Sam came onto the stage and started singing the male part of the song, moving next to Kurt, who turned to face Sam, and they sang to each other, dancing together in simple steps.

“The world revives
colors renew
but I know blue
only blue
lonely blue
Without you

Without you, the hand gropes
the ear hears
the pulse beats

Without you, the eyes gaze
the legs walk
the lungs breathe

The mind churns
the heart yearns
the tears dry without you

Life goes on
but I'm gone
'cause I die, without you
without you
without you
without you...”

They finished the song standing side by side, singing straight out at the audience, Kurt pouring himself into the song, and when he looked out—before the rest of the club was there to sing their next two songs—he was surprised to see people were crying. Kurt knew how important Rent was to him, but he didn't expect other people to feel the same way.

At the end of their set, everyone hugged, then went back to the green room while the judges deliberated. The other two schools had been really good, especially the Warblers, so New Directions was pleased and a little surprised when they won their third Sectionals in a row. There was cheering and shouting and hugging. But Kurt was surprised when the Warblers managed to separate him from the rest of his club and inundate him with congratulatory hugs and claps on the back and fist bumps. Kurt always planned on going to all of Blaine's concerts, but just in case he never saw the Warblers again, it was nice to have this closure with them. As he said goodbye to the Warblers, Kurt found himself thinking about how, lately, his whole life seemed to revolve around closure. He supposed that's what the final chapter of his life should be—tying up all the loose ends, and making sure his story ended neatly. A happy ending might be beyond him now, but at least closure was manageable.

 

***** .

“I cannot believe we're going to Europe for three whole weeks,” Kurt said again, holding Blaine's hand tightly as they walked through the airport. Burt had agreed to take the money from Kurt's college fund, along with money he'd been saving for Kurt, to come up with the best vacation they could manage in three weeks. They were spending two weeks in Paris and one week Rome. Carol had persuaded the Berrys to let Rachel come with them, since Kurt had been allowed to bring Blaine. Burt had even invited Mercedes since he knew she was Kurt's best friend, but Dr. and Mrs. Jones insisted Mercedes spend Christmas vacation with her family in Chicago, and not gallivanting through Europe with friends.

“We get to be where they filmed Gigi, Roman Holiday, Funny Face, Sabrina and both versions of Phantom of the Opera!” Rachel said, excited.

“I know,” Kurt said. “It's going to be awesome.”

“We should see how many places we can recognize from Audrey films,” Blaine suggested.

“What are they talking about?” Finn asked.

“Those old movies they like,” Carol said. “Many of them were made in Paris and Rome, so they're going to try and find what places they can recognize.”

“Oh, cool. Hey, maybe we can find the places from An American Werewolf in Paris,” Finn suggested.

“I have got to get you to watch more Audrey Hepburn movies,” Rachel said, as they got ready to board their plane. They'd had a little trouble at security when neither Rachel nor Kurt had wanted to get in the security scanner. But they did in the end, and they all made it through security fine. They had two flights: one from Ohio to New York, then from New York to Paris. Burt had really gone all out, with a little help from the Andersons and the Berrys pooling their air miles, so they were able to fly first class. He wanted to spoil Kurt on what could possibly be his only trip to Europe, but also, he didn't want Kurt sitting in one of those tiny coach seats if he had a seizure. Dr. Anderson had cleared Kurt to fly, so long as Carol, a registered nurse, went with him. The other concession Dr. Anderson had pushed for was a wheelchair. Kurt didn't have to use it all the time, in fact he rarely used it at the moment, but both Burt and Dr. Anderson agreed that it would be impractical for Finn or Burt to carry Kurt all around Paris if Kurt had an attack or a seizure while sight-seeing.

“This is so exciting,” Rachel said.

“I know,” Kurt agreed, and he briefly squeezed her hand. They'd become quite close over the past year, and Kurt now considered Rachel his best friend as much as Mercedes. They boarded the plane and took the short flight to New York. Kurt had some muscle spasms on the plane, and was not happy at the idea of being pushed through JFK in a wheelchair, but everyone around him insisted.

“I can't believe we're in New York,” Rachel said, her excited movements reminding Kurt of a hyperactive squirrel. “How long is our layover?”

“Not long enough to go anywhere, Rachel,” Burt said. “But our layover on the way back is six hours, which is more than enough time to go into the city for a nice dinner.”

“Remember the last time we were in New York?” Blaine grinned at Kurt, who grinned back. Finn was pushing the wheelchair and Blaine and Rachel were walking on either side of Kurt.

“Did you guys do any sight-seeing, or did you spend the entire trip in your hotel room?” Rachel teased. Finn laughed, though Burt at least pretended to look scandalized.

“We went to a bunch of shows, Rachel,” Kurt said. “And took a carriage ride through Central Park, and went shopping. Then we spent hours in the hotel room,” Kurt smirked at his friend. Kurt's arms started flailing while Finn pushed him in the wheelchair. “People are staring at me,” Kurt said quietly.

“Ignore them,” Rachel said. “They don't matter.”

“She's right,” Blaine said, taking one of Kurt's hands in his own, despite Kurt's shaking arm. Seeing how that calmed Kurt a little, Rachel tentatively took Kurt's other hand. They made it to their gate, and waiting for the flight attendant to seat them.

Across from where they were waiting, three children were sitting. Kurt tried to ignore them, but they were pointing at him and giggling. Burt and Carole were distracted, and didn't notice the children making fun of Kurt. The kids' parents didn't notice them either. Luckily, that meant that none of the adults noticed when Finn walked over to the kids, and spoke directly to the oldest kid, who looked about ten.

“Hey, you know those compartments above the plane seats, for carry-on luggage?” Finn asked the boy.

“Yeah,” he said.

“Think you'd fit in one?” Finn asked, towering over the boy menacingly.

“No,” the boy said, his eyes slightly wide.

“Well, if you three don't stop making fun of my brother, we're going to find out for sure, okay?” Finn asked the boy, emphasizing every bit of his six feet and three inches of height.

“Okay,” the little girl said, obviously scared.

The didn't have to hang around in the waiting area too long, because they were First Class, so within ten minutes they were ushered onto the plane. The plane ride was long. Kurt has a seizure about a half hour into the flight, and then slept for the rest of the flight. Rachel curled into Finn's side and they watched one of the movie options, while Blaine watched Kurt sleep. When they were about an hour away from the airport, Blaine needed to get up and stretch his legs. Rachel, Finn and Carole had all fallen asleep, so it was only Blaine and Burt awake.

“Hey kid,” Burt said. “How are you holding up?”

“It's not the longest flight I've ever been on,” Blaine said.

“I'm not talking about the flight, Blaine,” Burt said softly.

“It sucks.”

“I know.”

“Yeah, but you and Kurt's mom, you had, like, ten years together, right? Maybe more?” Blaine asked.

“Yeah. Karen and I had fifteen years together,” Burt said. “And there's not a a day goes by I don't think about her.”

“Yeah, well, Kurt and I get a year. Maybe two. I'm a high school senior. I'm supposed to be having fun and enjoying life and getting ready for college. Instead, I'm watching the person I love waste away. It really, really sucks. We're supposed to be making college plans together. Fighting about where to go, so we don't have to be apart. But Kurt's not going to college, and if I even suggest putting off college a couple of years, so I can stay with him, he blows up,” Blaine said.

“Blaine, I have no clue why God makes our lives as painful as He does. And I never will. I buried my wife, and now I'm going to bury my son, and this is awful. But I want you to hold onto a thought for me,” Burt said quietly. He and Blaine were standing up at the back of the first class section, stretching their legs after sitting so long.

“What?” Blaine asked.

“Twenty years from now, when you're a singer or a lawyer or Doctor or actor or whatever path you choose, and you're married to some great guy, and you've adopted two point five kids and a dog, I want you to remember back to this time. This time when you loved that boy over there with all your heart, and and he loved you back. Because I know for a fact that your presence and your love has made my son's life better. Made his short life so much happier. So twenty, thirty years down the road, you think back on this boy, and how you loved him, and I guarantee that your life will be better for knowing him,” Burt said.

Blaine lost it then. The dam broke and the tears started pouring down his cheeks. Burt pulled his son's boyfriend against his chest and held him, grateful for an evening, mid-week flight and a half-empty plane with only two other people in first class apart from their sleeping family. Burt realized at this point that he thought of Blaine as part of his family, and Rachel too.

“Listen, kid, go do a couple laps around the plane,” Burt said when Blaine's tears stopped flowing. “It'll help you clear your head. We're all entitled to break down from time to time, but this is Kurt's big trip. If he wants it as happy and pleasant as a fifties' musical, that's what he's gonna get, right?”

“Yes Sir, Mr. Hummel,” Blaine agreed.

“At this point you call me Burt,” Burt said.

“Okay. Although, technically, if we made Kurt's life a fifties' musical he'd be miserable, alone and the butt of all the jokes because the Production Code was still in use in the fifties, which enforced that homosexuality could only be alluded to, and never as anything that was acceptable,” Blaine said.

Burt leveled his eyes at his son's boyfriend, the barest hint of a smile on his lips.

“Blaine, did you understand what I mean?” Burt asked.

“Of course, Sir. I mean, Burt.”

“Then what was the purpose of that little rant?” Burt asked.

“There really wasn't one. I think I'm kinda tired,” Blaine said, blushing slightly.

“Go take a couple laps 'round the aisles. I did it earlier, and it helped,” Burt instructed.

“Okay,” Blaine said, and he left first class to walk up and down the plane aisles a bit. Burt went over to where Kurt was sleeping, one of his arms twitching in his sleep. Burt reached out and brushed Kurt's hair out of his face. Kurt woke up at his father's touch.

“Hey,” Kurt said, then he looked confused, as if he didn't know where he was.

“Hey Bud, we're on a plane, remember?” Burt said. “We're going to Paris for Christmas.”

“Yeah,” Kurt said. “I remember.”

“The stewardess brought some food while you were asleep, why don't you try and eat some,” Burt suggested, pointing to the tray sitting in front of Kurt. Kurt nodded and started picking at the roll. Pulling off little pieces and popping them into his mouth slowly. Burt took the time to wake Finn, Rachel, and Carole, since they would be landing soon. Blaine soon came back and sat down next to Kurt.

“You've been crying,” Kurt said in a low voice.

“Just a little,” Blaine said. “So, we have to rent Vespas in Rome, right?”

“Right,” Kurt said.

“Absolutely,” Rachel said. “Think I can meet a handsome Italian pop singer who used to date my blonde lookalike?”

“Hey!” Finn said. “I sing way better than that Paulo guy. And you're way hotter than Lizzie McGuire.”

“Hey, Finn caught a Disney reference,” Blaine said. “There's hope for him yet.”

*****

In the hotel in Paris, it was agreed that Kurt would share a room with Rachel and Finn would share with Blaine, since Rachel rooming with Kurt was the only sleeping option the Berrys would agree to, since they didn't want her sharing with Finn, and they'd never met Blaine. Rachel and Kurt were sitting on the queen-sized bed their room had. The group had a suite with three bedrooms. Burt and Carole got one queen-sized bed, Kurt and Rachel agreed to share the other, and Finn and Blaine got the room with the double beds. They were supposed to be sleeping, but the time difference plus their nap on the plane meant that they were quite awake.

“Rachel, will you promise me some things?” Kurt asked. His hands were working pretty well at the moment, so he was brushing her hair while she smiled. For the first time in her life, she really knew what it was like to have a best friend. And she refused to think that she was going to have to lose him right after she found him.

“It depends, I guess. What do you want?” Rachel asked.

“I want you to sing at my funeral,” Kurt said.

“The only songs I ever want to sing for you are duets,” Rachel said.

“Well, I won't be able to sing with you,” Kurt said. “So, I want you to sing at my funeral. You can do a duet with Mercedes. You'll have to teach her Kristen Chenoweth's part, because you'll sing Idina's.”

“Will you sing it with me now?” Rachel asked.

“Okay,” Kurt said.

Rachel started singing.

“I'm limited
Just look at me - I'm limited
And just look at you
You can do all I couldn't do, Glinda
So now it's up to you
For both of us - now it's up to you... “

Kurt took up the next part. His voice wasn't as perfect as it used to be, since he'd lost some breath control as his muscles weakened, but Rachel thought he still sounded like an angel.

I've heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don't know if I believe that's true
But I know I'm who I am today
Because I knew you

Like a comet pulled from orbit
As it passes a sun
Like a stream that meets a boulder
Halfway through the wood
Who can say if I've been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
I have been changed for good.

Rachel took up Elphaba's next part, trying very hard not to let her voice shake.
“It well may be
That we will never meet again
In this lifetime
So let me say before we part
So much of me
Is made of what I learned from you
You'll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you have re-written mine
By being my friend...

Like a ship blown from its mooring
By a wind off the sea
Like a seed dropped by a skybird
In a distant wood
Who can say if I've been changed for the better?
But because I knew you”

They sang the rest of the duet together, on the bed, facing each other and holding hands.

“Because I knew you

I have been changed for good

And just to clear the air
I ask forgiveness
For the thing I've done you blame me for

But then, I guess we know
There's blame to share

And none of it seems to matter anymore

Like a comet pulled from orbit
As it passes a sun
Like a stream that meets a boulder
Halfway through the wood

Like a ship blown from its mooring
By a wind off the sea
Like a seed dropped by a bird in the wood

Who can say if I've been
Changed for the better?
I do believe I have been
Changed for the better
And because I knew you...
Because I knew you...
Because I knew you...
I have been changed for good.”

They hugged each other tightly as they finished the song. Kurt rubbed Rachel's back as she cried, letting his own tears fall into her thick brown hair.

“I never had a sister, Rachel, but if I could I'd choose you,” Kurt whispered into her hair. “If I was ever cruel to you it was because I was jealous.”

“You were my only real competition,” Rachel whispered back. “I know you threw the try-out for Defying Gravity. I always knew it. But I wanted the solo so bad I didn't care. I'm sorry.”

“It's okay,” Kurt said. “But I need you to promise me something else.”

“Anything,” Rachel said.

“You go to New York, and you take Broadway by storm. I don't care how long it take you, but you're going to play all the lead roles. You're going to do Gypsy and My Fair Lady and Wicked and Spring Awakening and Sweeney Todd and Evita, and all the rest. You need to do this, Rachel, because I can't. It's not just your fame I want you to grab, but get mine too,” Kurt said.

“Okay,” Rachel said. “I promise.”

“And you have to kick total ass at them too,” Kurt continued. “I don't really believe in God, but if there's any sort of afterlife, I'm going to be in the front row as every show, and you had better impress me, Rachel Berry,” Kurt said into her ear before turning his face to kiss her cheek.

“I promise,” Rachel said. “Did you ever hear that Aristotle quote about friendship?”

“I don't know,” Kurt said.

“Aristotle said, 'What is a friend? It is a single soul living in two bodies.'” Rachel quoted. “And it's true. Because I love Finn, and maybe we'll get married someday, but probably not. Maybe I'll have a long string of lovers in the future, and maybe I'll only have one or two. But none of them will ever be my soulmate. That's you, Kurt.”

“It's you for me as well,” Kurt confesses. “You and Mercedes and Blaine. I care about everyone else, I love my parents and Finn and the rest of the glee club, but the three of you fell like extensions of me.”

“Super-diva,” Rachel joked.

“Voice, attitude, fashion, hair” Kurt chanted in a mock deep voice, “By your powers combined, I am Captain Diva!

At this point the two of them collapsed into a fit of giggles and all serious talk was forgotten. They decided to sing some more, singing their Judy/Barbra number again. Neither of them knew they had an audience listening in at their singing. Neither of them knew that their boyfriends were listening to them sing, while trying to avoid awkward talk about sex, and the fact that Kurt was dying. And they definitely didn't know that in the master bedroom, Burt and Carole were holding each other and crying,

 

*****

 

Paris was amazing. They spend every day of their two weeks sight-seeing and eating out and buying souvenirs. Blaine and Rachel tried to run through the Louvre, like in an old black and white movie, but only made it about thirty feet before security caught them and made them stop. Finn was constantly entertained by his three favorite performers, because every time they recognized a location from an old musical, they felt compelled to act out at least one of the musical numbers. Kurt loved showing off his French skills, and everyone loved giggling at Burt stumbling through French and failing miserably. They got to go to a real fashion show, which made Kurt immensely happy, and gave him the bittersweet opportunity to cross another item off his list.

Their week in Rome was just as exciting. They rented Vespas and rose around, Rachel clinging behind Finn and Kurt hanging onto Blaine. They toured the catacombs and museums, and for three weeks filled memory card after memory card with pictures from their trip. They stopped at the Trevi Fountain, and they all tossed in a coin to make a wish. Kurt pretended not to know that they all wasted their wishes on him. He didn't wish for himself. He kissed the coin, closed his eyes, and wished that his family and friends would be able to move on after he was gone. That they're remember him, but not hate him for his choices, and that they'd understand why he'd done what he was going to do.

Kurt felt euphoric through most of the trip. He loved spending this amazing, magical time in Europe with his loved ones. But at the same time, he was a little scared. He was reaching the end of his list. He kept crossing things off, and now there were only three more things on his 'bucket list': go bungee jumping, make it to the National High School Show Choir competition, and graduate high school. As Kurt looked his list over on the flight home, he wondered to himself, where had all his time gone?

 

*****

By February, Kurt's wheelchair had become a constant addition to the halls of McKinley. Dr. Anderson had put in a requisition slip for a power chair, and Burt had fought with the insurance company to put it through, but it would still be a few more days before Kurt got it. In the meantime Finn, Puck, Sam, Mike and Lauren had drawn up a schedule to make sure that they could push Kurt to and from class. Regionals had been early this year, and New Directions had won. Kurt was so excited to be going to Nationals with his glee club. Things had been changing, but at least he still had Glee. Kurt noticed that nobody really bullied him any more. He wasn't really sure why, though he guessed that none of the jock had the stomach to torment the dying kid. One afternoon, Puck was held after class, and Kurt didn't want to be late to glee, so he started to push himself. He wasn't as strong as he used to be, so he wasn't going very fast.

“Need a hand, Kurt?” Dave Karofsky asked.

“Actually, yeah,” Kurt said. “That would be nice.”

Dave gripped the handles of Kurt's chair and started pushing.

“So, how's your boyfriend?” Kurt asked. “What was his name again?”

“Brian,” Dave answered. “He's good. We don't see each other as much as we'd like, with school, but we skype, like, every night.”

“Blaine and I do too,” Kurt said. “It sucks going to a different school, doesn't it?”

“It really does,” Dave agreed. He didn't say anything else and they went in silence to the choir room. Half the club was already there. Dave pushed the chair over, and then turned it around. Kurt looked up at him, fear and anger flashing in his eyes.

“Why won't you leave me alone, Karofsky?” Kurt cried out, panicked.

“What?” Dave asked, confused. “Aren't we friends now?”

“Friends? I don't want you anywhere near me,” Kurt insisted. “You're sad and pathetic and scared and I won't let you bully me anymore!” Kurt stood up from the chair, he still could walk when he wasn't have an attack, but he stumbled a little. Mercedes and Tina got up and put themselves between Kurt and Dave.

“Kurt, Kurt, look at me,” Mercedes said. She put her hands on both sides of Kurt's face.

“It's the disease,” Tina said to Dave. “It makes him forget stuff. Most of the time he's here with us, but sometimes, he's somewhere else. It's like his mind goes back in time. He probably forgot that the two of you made peace.”

“Will he remember me again?” Dave asked, worried. He hated that Kurt was mad at him and afraid of him again.

“Probably,” Tina said. “At least for a while. Eventually he won't remember anything,” she added softly.

“I should probably go then,” Dave said. “He doesn't want me here.”

“It might help him calm down,” Tina agreed. Because Kurt was mumbling to himself in French again.

Tina turned around and saw Kurt pull away from Mercedes again. He was yelling at her in French, and was stumbling back, trying to get away from all of them.

“Mike, go get the French teacher,” Tina instructed.

“On it,” Mike said, bolting out of the room.

“What's wrong?” Dave asked, taking another step back. He almost bumped into Fin as he and Rachel walked into the choir room.

“What's going on?' Finn asked.

“Memory lapse,” Mercedes said. “I think he forgot how to speak English again. Mike's getting the French teacher.”

“How could he forget English?” Dave asked, shocked and uncomfortable at the sight of the shaking boy curled up in the corner, babbling in French.

“His mom was French,” Rachel said, “He thinks in French a lot, not English, because he learned both languages at the same time. Sometimes, when he has a bad memory lapse he regresses to childhood. Unfortunately, this means he won't remember Finn, so we'll have to call his dad to come get him.”

“Hey, Rach, remember that song in French?” Finn asked. “Could you try singing it to him? It might help.”

“I'll probably pronounce some of the words wrong,” Rachel said, “but I can try.”

“La mer
Qu'on voit danser le long des golfes clairs
A des reflets d'argent
La mer
Des reflets changeants
Sous la pluie

La mer
Au ciel d'ete confond
Ses blancs moutons
Avec les anges si purs
La mer bergere d'azur
Infinie

Voyez
Pres des etangs
Ces grands roseaux mouilles
Voyez
Ces oiseaux blancs
Et ces maisons rouillees

La mer
Les a berces
Le long des golfes clairs
Et d'une chanson d'amour
La mer
A berce mon coeur pour la vie”

Rachel sang slowly. But the longer she sang, the calmer Kurt got, and the closer he let her get to him. After she'd sung through the song twice, Kurt was letting her hold him, and was calm and no longer thrashing. It wasn't too difficult to catch the word 'Maman,' and understand that at this moment, Kurt thought Rachel was his mom. Mr. Schue showed up and suggested that they go on with glee practice, hoping that the singing and dancing would bring Kurt back to the present, or at least give him the time to come out of the memory lapse. They went about practice, and within two hours, Kurt seemed back to normal, and only mildly unsure as to why he was sitting on the floor.

“Memory lapse?” Kurt asked Mercedes.

“Yeah,” she said, helping him stand up. “You were speaking French, and you thought Rachel was your mom, 'cause she kept singing that 'La Mer,' song.”

“My Mom used to sing that to me,” Kurt said. “What's our glee assignment for the week?”

“So pick a song that expresses something we feel, that we can't quite put into words,” Mercedes. “You feeling better, hon?”

“I just want to go home,” Kurt said. He was going to do this assignment. He'd found the perfect song, recently, to sing to his friends. To tell them everything he wanted to say. To tell them goodbye. He had hoped he would have a chance to sing it.

 

*****

 

“I'd like to sing my song first,” Finn said. “I did the assignment, and found a song that says something I'm feeling, that I couldn't quite get into words.”

“Alright, Finn, the floor is yours,” Will said, stepping back. Finn looked the musicians and nodded, and they started playing music. Finn took a deep breath, and then looked directly into Kurt's eyes as he started to sing.

“The road is long
With many a winding turn
That leads us to who knows where
Who knows when
But I'm strong
Strong enough to carry him
He ain't heavy, he's my brother
So on we go
His welfare is of my concern
No burden is he to bear
We'll get there
For I know
He would not encumber me
He ain't heavy, he's my brother
If I'm laden at all
I'm laden with sadness
That everyone's heart
Isn't filled with the gladness
Of love for one another
It's a long, long road
From which there is no return
While we're on the way to there
Why not share
And the load
Doesn't weigh me down at all
He ain't heavy, he's my brother
He's my brother
He ain't heavy, he's my brother.”

The girls were crying, even Santana and Lauren, the stone cold bitches they claimed to be, looked moved. Even the guys looked upset, and Finn thought Artie was going to start sobbing any second. Finn looked at Kurt again, who was sniffling a little, but smiling.

“Thank you, Finn, that was beautiful,” Kurt said. Kurt got to his feet and walked to Finn, hugging his stepbrother.

“I meant it, Kurt. You're my brother, and I will look out for you no matter what. I've decided I'm accepting the football scholarship to State this fall, and I'm going to come home on the weekends to spend time with you. I don't want to be far from you,” Finn said.

“Mr. Schue,” Kurt said, when he stopped clinging to Finn. “I'd like to sing my song now.”

“Of course, Kurt,” Will said. “Go ahead.”

Finn moved to sit and Kurt put one hand on the piano for strength. He took a deep breath an looked out at his friends.

“I've been trying to find the right words to say to you guys for months. To tell you how much I love you all, and how grateful I've been for you all being in my life. And I know I've got a few months left before we graduate, but I wanted to sing this to you all now. Because if I wait until the end, I won't be able to say goodbye. I won't be able to say anything, eventually, and I need to get this out. So, this song is for all of you. It's something I want you all to remember, when I'm gone,” Kurt finished speaking and motioned for Brad to start playing. He took a breath, and then started singing in his clear soprano. His voice shook slightly, but he was determined not to cry, at least not until the song was over.

“If I'm gone when you wake up
Please don't cry
And if I'm gone when you wake up
It's not goodbye
Don't look back at this time as a time
Of heartbreak and distress
Remember me, remember me
'Cause I'll be with you in your dreams
Oh I'll be with you, oh oh

But If I'm gone when you wake up
Please don't cry
And if I'm gone when you wake up
Don't ask why
Don't look back at this time
As a time of heartbreak and distress
Remember me, remember me
'Cause I'll be with you in your dreams

Oh oh

Don't cry, I'm with you
Don't sigh, I'm by your side
Don't cry, I'm with you
Don't sigh, I'm by your side

And though my flesh is gone, whoa
I'll still be with you at all times
And though my body's gone, whoa
I'll be there to comfort you at all times

Oh oh

But If I'm gone when you wake up
Please don't cry
And if I'm gone when you wake up
It's not goodbye
Don't look back at this time
As a time of heartbreak and distress
Remember me, remember me
'Cause I'll be with you

Oh, I'll be with you
Oh
I'll be with you

I don't want you to cry and weep, oh
I want you to go on living your life
I'm not sleeping an endless sleep, oh
'Cause in your heart
You have all of our good times
Oh, all of our good times
Oh oh you have

'Cause if I'm gone when you wake up
Please don't cry
And if I'm gone when you wake up
It's not goodbye
Don't look back at this time
As a time of heartbreak and distress
Remember me, remember me
'Cause I'll be with you in your dreams
Oh
I'll be with you in your dreams
I'll be with you
I'll be with you in your dreams...”

When Kurt was finished singing, everyone was crying. Mr. Schue, all the glee kids, even Brad and the band kids were crying. There was a huge group hug after the song, which was cut short when Kurt had a seizure, he fell to the ground, shaking uncontrollably. Finn could tell that Kurt wasn't conscious during this seizure. His whole body shook, and everyone had to move back quickly to avoid getting hit by Kurt's limbs. A wet patch grew across the front of Kurt's jeans when the loss of muscle control caused him to lose control of his bladder.

“I need to get him home,” Finn said. When Kurt stopped seizing, Fin picked him up carefully, and set him in the wheelchair before pushing him out.

“When he wakes up, tell him I'm still planning to come over to study tonight,” Mercedes said.

“Okay,” Finn said, “But if he doesn't wake up by dinner, it might be best to postpone it. I'll call you.”

“Okay,” Mercedes said, and she watched Finn push her unconscious best friend out of the choir room.

Finn knew enough to make sure Kurt was still breathing, and that his heart was still beating, but Kurt didn't wake up on the drive home. Once they were home, Finn carried Kurt into the house. Even though Kurt wasn't awake, Finn didn't want to leave Kurt in those clothes. Wet underwear started to chafe if you left them too long, especially with jeans on over them, and that was never comfortable. Finn didn't trust himself to give Kurt a shower or anything, but he could get Kurt out of his clothes and into something clean.

Finn set Kurt on his bed, and carefully undressed his stepbrother, bow-tie, sweater, shirt, boots—those platform bitch-boots of Kurt's were hard to take off, they had so many damn buckles—skinny jeans and underwear. Finn thought briefly that two years ago, the very idea of being around Kurt's naked body would have seriously freaked him out. In fact, using 'Kurt' and 'naked' in the same sentence would have sent him straight into a fit of gay panic. As Finn rooted around in Kurt's drawers for clean underwear and some pajamas, Finn thought about how much had changed since high school had started. He'd gone from being the guy who helped throw pee balloons at Kurt, to the guy who cleaned Kurt up after he peed on himself. Finn couldn't help but wonder, if Kurt hadn't gotten sick, would they have gotten as close as they did? Would “He's Not Heavy...He's My Brother,” mean as much to Finn if Kurt wasn't dying? Why was it that Finn wasn't able to realize how much he loved Kurt until he was about to lose Kurt forever?

Finn got Kurt settled into his pajamas and then tucked his stepbrother into bed, pulling Kurt's down-filled duvet up to his chin. After he made sure Kurt was comfortable, his eyes rested on a piece of stationary on Kurt's nightstand. That was the list-thing that Kurt kept crossing things off of. There were two long columns of items on the page, and almost all were crossed out. Finn smiled as he saw things like 'Go to Paris' and 'see a fashion show' crossed off. Those had been fun. Finn noticed that there were only three things left on the list. Bungee jumping, which they planned to do as soon as the theme parks opened up again, glee nationals, which they'd qualified for, and graduating high school. Finn felt a tight lump in his throat as he realized how close Kurt was to finishing his list. What did it mean when somebody ran out of things to hold on for?

 

*****

“Oh God, Baby, I love you so much,” Blaine said.

“Love you too,” Kurt said, thrusting three slippery fingers in and out of Blaine. Blaine pushed against Kurt's hand, trying to fuck himself harder on Kurt's fingers.

“I want you in me,” Blaine said.

“Somebody's impatient,” Kurt whispered, pressing a kiss to the head of Blaine's hard cock as he pulled his fingers out of Blaine. Temporarily distracted, Kurt swirled his tongue around the head and then sucked in, enjoying Blaine's moan.

“Oh God. Kurt, please, fuck me,” Blaine begged. Kurt pulled off of Blaine's cock and grabbed a condom, rolling it down his own hard length, then added some extra lube before positioning himself at Blaine's entrance. Slowly, Kurt sunk into Blaine, until he was buried to the hilt.

“Feels so full,” Blaine said.

“You're still so tight,” Kurt said, “Even after all this time. I love you so much.”

“Fuck me,” Blaine begged, and Kurt decided to oblige him.

Kurt had thrust into Blaine about four times when the muscles in his arm began to clench and his right arm swung wildly, out of control. Kurt watched it move, and hit Blaine hard in the face, without being able to stop it. Kurt stopped, and pulled out of Blaine, his arm still moving wildly, as the blood from his nose dripped down Blaine's face.

“Ow,” Blaine cried out, his hands flying to his face.

“I'm so sorry, Blaine,” Kurt said.

“It's okay, Kurt, I know you didn't do it on purpose. Can you grab me a tissue?” Blaine asked. Luckily the tissue box was close to the bed and Kurt was able to reach over and grab a couple, holding them out to Blaine, who pressed them against his bleeding nose.

“I am so sorry,” Kurt said again.

“I'm not mad at you, Kurt, I promise,” Blaine said. “I'm just not really in the mood anymore, unfortunately.”

“I can understand that,” Kurt said. “Looks like we've both started to go soft.”

“We can finish up, or try again, later. Right now you should take your pills, and I'm gonna try and stop my nose bleeding, then wash my face,” Blaine said.

“Okay,” Kurt said. He knew that Blaine wasn't mad at him. And he knew it was the disease, not his own intent, that smashed Blaine across the face. But that didn't stop his guilt, or his frustration. He pulled off the condom and threw it away, then pulled on some underwear and pajama pants before grabbing his pills and some water.

Every day, the simplest tasks seemed to get harder and harder. And now he couldn't even have sex with his lover without hurting him. For a brief moment, Kurt thought about dying that night. Maybe he shouldn't keep waiting. But at the same time, he really wanted to graduate high school. It was March now, June wasn't too far away. If he could go through three more months of this, he would have a good chance to say goodbye to everyone. Blaine came back into the bedroom in a t-shirt and boxers, pinching his nose with a washcloth.

“I don't think it's broken,” Blaine said. “And the bleeding's just about stopped. It's all good.”

“I'm so sorry,” Kurt said again.

“If you apologize one more time, I'm gonna smack you with a pillow or something. Let's watch a movie and cuddle on the couch,” Blaine said.

“Okay,” Kurt said.

“Do you need me to help you downstairs?” Blaine asked.

“I can use the chairlift,” Kurt said. Kurt was still able to walk most of the time, though it seemed at least some part of his body was always in motion as of late. But stairs were dangerous, so Burt had installed chair lifts at all the staircases in the house, and Kurt used his power chair at school.

They made it to the living room, Blaine put in a movie, and they snuggled up together under an afghan that Kurt's Grandmama had made. Blaine held Kurt tightly against him, playing with his hair. One of Kurt's arms had constant tremors, but apart from that they were having a very nice snuggle.

“Blaine,” Kurt started.

“Hmm?”

“Will you stay friends with Rachel and Mercedes and Finn when I'm gone?” Kurt asked.

“Probably,” Blaine said. “Nobody can say about the future, right?”

“Yeah,” Kurt said. “Blaine. Just...don't mourn me forever, okay? You're going off to college. College is the time for experimentation and making stupid mistakes. Get drunk, get something pierced, have an orgy. Get involved in activism. Try out for all the plays. Join a band. Meet some hot guys. Fall in love again. Just, promise me you won't lock your heart away, out of some misguided sense of guilt. Remember me, but don't hold onto me forever. Leave some room in your heart for someone else.”

“Okay,” Blaine said quietly, though his tears. “I'm going to miss you so much.”

“I know,” Kurt said. “I love you so much, Blaine.”

“I love you too,” Blaine said. “Loving you has made me a better person.”

*****

With about a month or so before Nationals, Will assigned another boys vs/ girls mash-up competition. Artie made a crack about the guys team being more symmetrical now since it was four tall jocks and two guys in wheelchairs, and Kurt had to laugh. Of course, Kurt's wheelchair was larger and louder than Artie's, since it was electric, and controlled by a joystick.

The guys had the choir room to practice, and Kurt rolled in a few minutes late. The other guys were already practicing their choreography.

“So, Figgins and Ms. Pillsbury-Howell want me to give a speech at graduation about 'overcoming adversity',” Kurt said rolling his eyes.

“That's good, right?” Mike said.

“How have I overcome adversity?” Kurt asked. “When I got bullied for being gay I fled to another school. When I started dying I ran away from the school and came back home. That's not overcoming anything, that's just running away a lot.”

“Dude,” Sam said. “If I had to live through, like, half of what you go through I probably couldn't do it. You're the bravest guy I know.”

“You are,” Artie said. “I mean, when I first landed in this chair, I must have thrown a million tantrums. You don't seem to ever get mad.”

“Oh, trust me, Kurt's thrown his fair share of tantrums,” Finn said, and Kurt stuck his tongue out at his step-brother in reply.

“Sam's right, bro,” Puck said. “You're the bravest guy in school, hands down. Nobody's got balls like you. Not even me.”

“You're awesome, Kurt,” Mike added.

“How am I brave?” Kurt said. “How?” His arms were flailing out wildly, and nobody knew for sure if it was the HD or his own aggravation.

“You never hide who you are,” Sam said. “You never try to pretend, just to fit in, so that people would like you.” Sam walked over to Kurt, and crouched down to be at his level. “I wish I had the guts you have.”

“Try,” Kurt said quietly. His eyes met with Sam's, and he saw something there in Sam's eyes. “Sam, you'll never be brave until you try.”

Sam seemed to realize, suddenly, that everyone was looking at him. It was just him and the five glee guys, but it suddenly felt so intense. Puck, Finn, Mike, Artie, his four football buds, were all looking at him, but they weren't threatening. They weren't scary at all. And he looked at Kurt again. How could he keep lying? When Kurt had to go through shit every single day, when Kurt was dying what right did Sam have to keep hiding behind the fact that he was athletic and passed for straight. Suddenly, he knew what to do. It was like Kurt was pouring his courage into Sam, and Sam knew he could do it. Sam stood upright again, looked around the room once, and then looked back at Kurt again.

“I'm gay,” Sam said.

“I know,” Kurt said softly. “I'm glad you finally said it.”

“Took you long enough, Evans, we all figured it out more than a year ago,” Puck said.

“Seriously,” Mike said.

“We were beginning to wonder if we'd have to go in that closet and drag out out,” Artie said.

And suddenly, Sam was laughing. He felt a thousand pounds lighter, like he could touch the clouds. He was gay. He'd said it out loud, and his friends were okay with it. Nobody was gong to judge him or beat him up. And it was all thanks to Kurt. If Kurt hadn't been McKinley's first out and proud kid, Sam wouldn't feel so safe right now.

The guys all clapped Sam on the back, and then everyone got back to working on their numbers for the mash-up competition. And all Sam could think was, 'Thank Pandora for Kurt Hummel.'

 

*****

“God, texting takes forever now,” Kurt said, as he tried to finish his conversations with Mercedes, Rachel, Tina, and Santana. Not to mention his sexting with Blaine.

“No texting at the dinner table,” Carole said.

“Alright,” Kurt grumbled. He turned back to his food. He'd been having problems swallowing lately, so most of what Carole had made was pretty soft. Mashed potatoes, vegetables steamed until they were squishy, and broiled chicken cut into tiny pieces. Kurt could no longer cut up his own food, due to loss of muscle control, so Burt had to do it for him.

“You kids excited about Nationals next week?” Burt asked.

“Yeah,” Kurt said. Finn nodded around a mouthful of food. Kurt managed to eat his dinner very slowly. When his phone buzzed, he moved to pick it up, Carole 'tsk'ed at him disapprovingly.

“It's Santana. She's having a rough time,” Kurt said.

“Rough time? Santana?” Finn asked, raising his eyes. “The queen bitch?”

“Her dad found out she's bisexual. He's not happy. He's said she either goes to one of those Jesus-makes-you-straight camps over the summer, or he's cutting her off entirely and not paying for college,” Kurt explained.

“Think I should have a talk with Dr. Lopez?” Burt asked.

“It probably won't help,” Finn contributed. “Dr. Lopez is really strict and kinda scary. He's not as bad as Quinn's Dad, but, wait, no he is, because he'll probably kick her out, and Quinn's dad kicked her out.”

“Well, you tell Santana that I said she can stay here if she needs to, for as long as she needs to. I don't approve of those places one bit, and I won't see any friend of yours go to one if I can avoid it,” Burt said.

“Have I told you recently that you're the best dad ever?” Kurt asked.

“It always bears repeating,” Burt said, puffing his chest out in mock pride.

“I suppose you can text her this once,” Carole relented, and Kurt slowly, one letter at a time, relayed the message to Santana.

After dinner, Kurt spent some time finishing his text convos with everyone, making sure to send a mass '<3 u!' text to Blaine and all the glee girls, who he'd been texting with earlier. Then he stumbled slowly to the chair lift.

“I'm going to take a shower,” Kurt said.

“You'll call out if you need any help?” Carole asked.

“Yes, Carol, I promise. I think I can manage a single shower, while sitting down,” Kurt smiled back.

“Well, leave the door unlocked, just in case,” Carole said.

“Okay,” Kurt said. He very slowly walked to the bathroom, he closed the door, stuck his iPhone in the iHome dock, and picked one of his Broadway playlists.

Because he had seizures, often with no warning, it wasn't really safe for him to take the long bubble baths he used to take before he got sick. Instead, Kurt sat on the floor of the bathtub and used the hand-held shower-head. Kurt climbed into the tub and started the shower. He usually took really long showers.

He looked down at his body critically. He'd been losing weight again. He poured some body wash on a loofah and started scrubbing himself down, feeling the contact against his skin, reminding himself how alive he was. How nice it felt to be touched. When his leg twitched in a muscle spasm, he didn't notice Finn's washcloth fall off the spout and into the tub. His eyes were closed as he washed himself, paying attention to the music. “Rose's Turn” was blaring from the iHome.

The seizure started during the end of “Rose's Turn.” The playlist segued into “Defying Gravity” as Kurt lost consciousness, falling backwards into the tub. Because the washcloth had slipped over the drain, the water spurting from the shower-head pooled up in the tub, and Kurt Hummel drowned in his own bathtub.

 

*****

 

“Hey, Mom, Kurt's been in the bathroom a really long time,” Finn said.

“You're right,” Carole said. She went to the door and knocked a couple of times. When Kurt didn't answer, she opened the door. Carole's scream would haunt Burt and and Finn for many years later. Finn and Carole fished Kurt out of the bathtub. Carole instantly started doing CPR, while Finn called 911. But the CPR did nothing. Kurt was gone. Finn could tell by how cold and still he was. Because even when Kurt slept, he smiled or he frowned, depending on his dreams. But now Kurt's face seemed frozen in pain, his mouth half open and his eyes closed. The water in the tub was lukewarm, and Kurt didn't feel much warmer than the water.

By the time the ambulance arrived, Burt had covered Kurt's body with a towel, and Finn was holding his crying mother. Burt couldn't seem to step away from his son, still on the bathroom floor. He stroked Kurt's wet hair, trying to will the boy to open his eyes. But the paramedics called it pretty quickly.

“Don't you have those paddles to make his heart beat again?” Finn asked the EMT, tears pooling in his eyes.

“I'm sorry, Kid. He's been gone too long. It wouldn't work. He's dead,” the EMT said, as gently as anyone could say those words. Finn thought that out of every phrase he'd ever heard in his life, no words had ever hurt him as much as 'He's dead.'

“I should call Blaine, and the others,” Finn said.

“Good, yes,” Burt said. “I'm going with Kurt—with the body—to the hospital. You stay here with your mom. Start making phone calls. We'll have to start making arrangements tomorrow.”

“I think Kurt had everything planned out in a notebook in his desk,” Finn said.

“Yes, good, I remember now,” Burt said, and Finn could see how dazed Burt was.

Finn grabbed Kurt's phone from the docking bay, and then helped his mom down to the kitchen, where he put the teapot on for her. He wasn't very skilled in the kitchen, but he knew how to make tea. Then he sat down at the kitchen table, refusing to watch them maneuver the sheet-covered stretcher down the stairs and out the door. He pulled out Kurt's phone and started with Blaine.

“Kurt?” Blaine answered, seeing Kurt's name on the display.

“It's Finn,” he said.

“Finn? What's wrong? Where's Kurt?” Blaine asked, worried. He heard something in Finn's voice, something Finn couldn't even name.

“Kurt's dead, Blaine. He had a seizure and drowned in the bathtub,” Finn said.

“What?” Blaine said.

“He's dead. Kurt is gone,” Finn said again. He heard a horrible strangled cry on the other end of the line as it sunk in.

“No,” Blaine said quietly. “Not yet.”

“Burt's gone with the body to the morgue. Tomorrow we have to make the arrangements,” Finn said.

“Can I come over?” Blaine asked.

“Aren't you at Dalton right now? Don't you have rules about leaving after dark?” Finn reminded Blaine.

“Oh yeah,” Blaine said, and Finn could hear Blaine crying. There was talking in the background, and Finn figured he was around some of the Warblers.

“You spend time with your Dalton buds. You can come over tomorrow. I need to call Mercedes and the others now,” Finn said. “I'll see you tomorrow.”

“Okay,” Blaine said, his voice small and hitching with sobs.

Finn hung up the phone and called Mercedes next. He told her that Kurt had died and she immediately said she was coming over. He asked her to stop at Rachel's house to pick her up on the way over and she agreed. Then Finn calls Rachel. When she managed to tell him through her tears that she wants to come over, he told her Mercedes was already on her way to get her. Then he hung up so he could notify the other glee club kids. And Mr. Schue.

*****

Blaine was hanging out with the Warblers in the common room. They were working on some arrangements for “Don't Dream it's Over” when Blaine's cell phone rang. It was “Teenage Dream,” so Blaine knew it was Kurt, and Kurt wouldn't call him during Warbler's practice unless it was an emergency. But it wasn't Kurt on the other line. It was Finn, calling to deliver the worst message Blaine had ever heard in his life.

Blaine wasn't really aware that he was crying until he clicked the 'end' button on his phone and he saw tears on the screen. He took two steps back to the large, brown leather couch and sat down hard.

“Blaine?” David asked. “What's wrong?”

“Kurt,” Blaine answered in a strangled voice. “He's dead.”

“What?” Wes asked.

“He's dead. He had a seizure in the bathtub and he drowned. They've taken him to the morgue. He's gone,” Blaine said.

If Blaine had been in more control of his thoughts at that moment, he would have registered some sort of amazement that Wesley Kim—the boy with the stick so far up his ass he had to work not to choke on it—dropped onto the couch next to him and hugged him. David, Thad and Jeff joined him quickly, and before he knew what was happening Blaine was in the middle of a giant Warblers group hug. And that's when he well and truly lost it. Hard, wracking sobs came out of Blaine, tears pouring down his face and mixing with the snot dripping from his nose. Blaine sobbed. The noises coming out of his throat were frightening and animalistic, and felt very private. Blaine cried for several hours, emptying himself out, and the Warblers stayed by him. Eventually, the heavy sobs faded to small whimpers, and then to silence. When Blaine was all cried out, Wes and David helped him up, and went with him back to his bedroom, where they stayed with him, all night.

*****

Finn called everyone in the glee club to tell them about Kurt, but it was only Rachel, Mercedes and Puck who came over that evening. Rachel and Mercedes had hugged Finn tightly the second they walked in the door, and when Puck showed up twenty minutes later he pulled Finn into a tight hug and clapped him on the back.

“We need to go into Kurt's room,” Finn said. “He worked out all the details of his funeral and stuff ages ago. He even has a list of songs he wants us to sing. Wanted.”

“Let's go find the list then,” Puck said. They go into Kurt's room and exactly the way he left it after doing his homework earlier. Finn rooted around in Kurt's desk until he finds the notebook with all the instruction in the event of Kurt's death. On the top of Kurt's desk was the stationary sheet, still, with two long columns of crossed out things. There were still three things left to cross out. Finn was about to reach out for the list when he heard a choked sob come from Rachel. She'd found a framed picture on Kurt's nightstand of Kurt, herself and Mercedes, and it pushed her over the edge. She sat down hard on the edge of Kurt's bed. Finn walks over and climbs onto Kurt's bed, before pulling Rachel and Mercedes into his arms. Puck sat on the end of the bed and put an arm around Mercedes as she starts to cry.

Finn and Puck held Rachel and Mercedes as they cried, and the four of them sat on that bed for the rest of the night. Rachel and Mercedes eventually cried themselves to sleep in the boys' arms. Finn refused to let himself break down. Not yet. He watched Puck idly stroke Mercedes' hair as he mumbled a prayer in Hebrew under his breath. Rachel snuggled deeper into his arms, and Finn's eyes caught on the paper on the desk again. Kurt's list was unfinished. He'd run out of time, run out of heartbeats before he'd accomplished all of his dreams. Finn stared at that list until his eyelids grew heavy. As he drifted off to sleep, Finn knew that somehow that list needed to be finished.

*****

Burt and Carole poured over Kurt's “When I'm Dead,” notebook. Burt had to bite back a scream masquerading as a chuckle when he saw that the spiral-bound notebook had lavender, scented pages, with a sparkly cover. This was definitely his son. Binding the details of his death in glitter. The notebook had instructions on everything from a hand-written will signed and notarized by Sue Sylvester, to a song-list and dress code for Kurt's funeral. There were several times Burt felt himself release a hard laugh at his son's attention to detail, only to remind himself that his son had died the day before. They were instructed to retrieve a black garment bag from the back of Kurt's closet and hand it to Rachel Berry, for it contained the only outfit she was permitted to wear to his funeral, and if she didn't wear this dress she wasn't allowed to attend. When Burt handed it to Rachel, she burst into a fit of laughter that quickly turned to sobs as she realized that Kurt was never going to make fun of her clothes again, and she missed it already.

The glee kids all showed up at various points throughout the day, some of them skipping school just to spend some time at Kurt's house. Blaine got a pass to leave Dalton and showed up a little after lunch. Several of the glee kids brought casseroles and pies that their parents had made. Kurt's notebook told them where to look to find everything. Following instructions, Burt pulled a giant plastic storage bin from the back of Kurt's closet. When Burt opened the bin, he had to sit down hard. Because on the top of the pile of boxes and envelopes lay a rope, carefully tied into a noose, an unopened package of hypodermic syringes, and a plastic baggie full of an assortment of pills.

“He was going to kill himself?” Mercedes asked, shocked, taking a step away from the box reflexively.

“He didn't do it,” Quinn whispered in Mercedes ear. “It doesn't count 'cause he didn't do it.” The two girls embraced tightly. Burt remembered that their religion taught them that his son was probably in hell right now, but as his friend, they didn't want to believe it. He fought the irrational urge to slap the two girls and throw them out of his house. These were Kurt's friends, and they loved him.

“It's very common for people with Huntington's,” Burt said. “Especially people who are natural caretakers, like Kurt. They don't want to be a burden, don't want to inconvenience people for years on end, so they decide to end it early, on their own terms. One of Kurt's biggest fear was that his body would live on for the next forty years in a nursing home, with no ability to think.”

“I'm glad it was fast,” Rachel said quietly. “And that he was unconscious when it happened.”

“So, what's under that stuff that he wanted us to see?” Puck asked, shifting the topic away from Kurt killing himself and away from Kurt's death. Yeah, their friend was dead, and it totally sucked, but Puck didn't want to think about his friend hanging himself. Besides, he knew Hummel planned everything out, so they'd better stick to the plan and look through the box.

It turned out that the large bin contains white paper boxes with people's names on them. There was a box for everyone in glee club, a box for Blaine, a box for Becky Jackson, boxes for Burt and Carole and some of Kurt's other family member's, and even a box addressed to David Karofsky. The bin also contained a big stack of letters, each addressed to somebody in Kurt's life who didn't have a box addressed to them. When Burt handed Rachel her box, she sat down on the end of the bed and opened it carefully. It held pictures, a few knickknacks, some homemade CDs and DVDS, and several sealed letters. The top one said, To Rachel, when I die. The others had different instruction on them, and Rachel couldn't help but laugh when she read them.

“What do they say?” Mercedes asked. She hadn't opened her box yet.

“This one says, 'To Rachel, for the night before your first Broadway audition.' and this one says 'To Rachel, for the night before your first Tony Awards.'” she said, smiling through her tears.

“This one says, 'To Puck, when you finally get a clue and decide to go to college.'” Puck said.

“This one says, 'Mercedes, when you fall in love,'” Mercedes said, sniffling.

They all sat down on the floor and opened their boxes, reading the titles of their letters to one another. Kurt had written letters for when they went to college, when they graduated, when they fell in love, when they got married, when they had kids. There were letters set aside for all the Warblers, which Burt gave to Blaine to have him distribute.

“Kids, let's go down to the living room. There's a DVD here that Kurt wants us to all watch together,” Burt said, holding a disc carefully labeled in Sharpie. The whole club went down to the living room, piling onto the sofa and the floor, cuddling each other in different arrangements. Puck had a lapful of sobbing Santana. Burt took in the girl, and the bruise on her cheek, and resolved himself to have a talk with Doctor Lopez the second the funeral was over. He put the DVD on, and pressed play.

There was a few seconds of black, and then Kurt appeared on the screen, in his bedroom.

“Hey,” Kurt said from the screen. “So, if you're watching this, I'm dead. I hope it was quick, but I don't want to dwell on that. If everything went according to plan, you're all probably confused right now, and maybe a little hurt. I'm sorry. I couldn't leave myself to spend the next thirty years as a drooling vegetable, draining your energy and resources. This was better, it won't be a constant, neverending vigil for the foreseeable future. I won't be a burden forever. I'm gone now, and that's okay.”

On the screen, Kurt's arms moved of their own accord, but it wasn't the constant shaking it had been near the end, and Kurt had more meat on his body. It was the end of May now, and if Burt had to guess, Kurt had made the video back in November or December, probably before they'd gone to Paris.

“I want you all to know that I never wanted to leave you, any of you, but we have to play the cards we're dealt, and I made my peace with this fate a long time ago. But I want you all to know that nothing hurts worse than knowing I'm not going to be with you forever, that I'm not going to see your lives play out the way I imagine.

“Sam, you are awesome. Don't ever forget it. You are so strong and brave. Read the letter I wrote you when you get the chance. When you finally find the courage to be yourself, you're going to be fabulous. You have so much potential, and I wish you the best,” the Kurt on screen winked at him and Sam had to let out a laugh. Even though Kurt had recorded this long before Sam had come out, it was obvious he already knew Sam was gay. But Sam was finished with hiding. Knowing Kurt had given him so much courage, there was so much life waiting for him, and he couldn't wait to live it.

“Mike. Keep dancing, but don't let dancing be your whole life. You're really smart, and you can go far, but even if you go off to college and get a PHD or something, don't ever stop dancing, even just in your bedroom. Because you always smile the most when you're dancing.

“Tina, sweetie, don't let that boy get away, but don't let yourself get trapped in this town either. I think you should go to Seattle someday, and hang out in the music scene there for a while. Go to an underground rave or a secret party, and when you do, think of me, okay darling? And of course, think of me whenever you drink champagne.”

Tina giggled. Kurt had helped her design and make her champagne bubble costume, of course she'd always think of him whenever she drank champagne.

“Quinn. Remember that idea you told me when you were pregnant, about what you wanted to do with your future?” Kurt asked from the screen, and Quinn nodded as if she's talking to him. “Go for it. Don't let anyone tell you it's dorky. I swear, you'll be the sexiest kindergarten teacher ever.”

“You want to teach kindergarten?” Puck asked her.

“Yeah,” she said.

“Puck, you listen to me. Noah Puckerman, for a guy who's incredibly intelligent and creative, you can be a total idiot sometimes. Stop stealing stuff, stop getting drunk for no reason and for the sake of Gaga stop sleeping with women twice your age. You're awesome Puck, but if you keep on this path you're gonna be dead before you're thirty, and I'm the only one of us that that's allowed to happen to.” Kurt's glare through the screen was intense. Puck felt like Kurt was staring into his soul.

“After graduation, go on a trip. Drive across the country, go to that underground rave with Tina, go hang out in Nashville for a couple months. Maybe start a band. But when you're done, come home to Lima, and go to college. I don't care if you have to take one class at a time at the community college, but get yourself an education and make something of your life. Please. You have too much fucking potential to let it go to waste. If you die in a pile of your own vomit, I will be very disappointed in you.”

Puck squirmed in his seat. He didn't know how he could do all the things that Kurt asked of him. Santana leaned back and whispered in his ear.

“I'll help you.”

“Santana,” Kurt said, and she looked up. “Don't let the assholes of the world intimidate you. Whatever you decide to be, be it with all the fierceness and power and ferocity that is Santana Lopez, Head Bitch in Charge. You're gonna take the world by storm, girl, and don't you ever forget it.

“Brittany, you're going to go to LA, and you're going to dance in music videos and be in commercials and become famous, that's a given. You have so much talent,” Kurt's face became very serious, “But you're sweet, and sometimes you take bad advice. Men will promise you roles if you sleep with them. Don't do it. You have enough talent to make it to the top without having sex with directors and producers. You will be famous.”

Brittany nodded, and looked like what Kurt had said was a big deal. She'd never thought before that she could be famous without having sex to do it. The Kurt on the screen started to seize then, and the video was edited, spliced to another point, where Kurt sat in front of the camera, his hands steady, wearing a new outfit.

“Artie, Lauren. You guys need no advice, you were both always smarter than me. When you get out in the world and make your marks, remember me, okay? Make sure to include me in your memoirs, at least as a footnote, okay?

“Finn. You've been an awesome brother. I want to thank you for looking out for me. And I want to apologize, for any time I ever made you uncomfortable. I'm especially sorry for that time I punched you. I don't think you ever understood just how jealous of you I was. Go live a good life, brother. Get married, have kids, leave your mark on the world. But come home to Dad and Carole for Friday Night Dinners whenever possible, okay? I know that you might go to college out of state, but please, when you have time, come home.

“Rachel. You had better use my death for motivation,” he said, wagging his finger at her. “And when you get nominated for a Tony you are forbidden from wearing anything knitted, polyester, or emblazoned with an animal on the red carpet. Brittany, Quinn, Santana, keep your eyes on her, don't let her embarrass herself in front of anyone important, okay?” Everyone laughed, though Rachel sounded indignant. “When you meet the greats, think of me, okay? And when you miss me, there's a DVD in your box with all our duets on it. Play it and think of me. I don't know if I believe in an afterlife, but if there is one, I'll be rooting for you. All of you.” Rachel sniffled a little.

“Mercedes. Oh darling, thank you. Thank you for giving me three extra years of life,” Kurt said through the screen, and everyone looked shocked. What could he have meant by that? “I almost killed myself Freshman year. Then again Sophomore year. Then, partway through tenth grade, you became my friend. I don't think I would have braved the rest of high school without you, Mercedes. You kept my heart beating a lot longer than it might have. Thank you. You are beautiful, and amazing, and glorious, and wonderful, and don't you dare forget that. I love you, Mercedes Jones. Take care of yourself, you're important.”

Rachel reached out and took Mercedes' hand, the black girl was sobbing openly at this point, and her friends were hugging her the best they could.

“I don't know if Mr. Schue is around, but please tell him thank you. He wasn't the greatest teacher in the world, but he tried, and for that I'm grateful. Blaine, oh God, Baby, I am so sorry I can't spend forever with you. Of all the regrets I have, leaving you is the biggest one. Promise me you won't mourn me forever. You're going to go off to college and be completely awesome. I've left you a bunch of stuff in a box, but there's a second box for you, under my bed. I love you, Blaine. You saved me. In so many ways, so many times. You gave me something to live for these last few months. Thank you for that.

“Carole, I really came to love you as a mother, and I probably never told you, 'cause I'm pretty dumb sometimes, but you are amazing and wonderful, and Dad is lucky to have you in his life. Take care of him for me, okay? Don't let him work to hard. I love you Carole, thanks for being so awesome.

“Dad,” Kurt's voice cracked. “Dad. After mom died, you threw yourself into the garage. The garage and me were the only things you paid attention to. You stopped living for a really long time. You stopped socializing with other people, and being a part of the world. Don't do that again. Don't shut Carole and Finn and the others out, okay? You need them. It completely sucks that I have to leave so soon, but it is what it is. Take care of yourself. I love you, Daddy.”

Burt didn't even pretend not to cry. He was a man, and he cried.

“That's it for now. There's lots of letters and DVDs for everyone. I've been working on them for months. Hell, I wrote my first will when I was thirteen. But everything is laid out in notebooks. I tried not to leave you too much to do, Dad, I didn't want to be a burden, so all my funeral plans are there. I want to be cremated., and scattered in lots of places, but please put some of me by mom. There's details for a headstone, if you want to put one next to mom. And if Rachel doesn't wear the dress I picked out for her she's not allowed to come to my funeral,” Kurt said firmly, making the girl laugh again.

“Okay then. I love you all. Goodbye,” Kurt said through a television screen.

“Bye, Kurt, I'll miss you,” Brittany said. And everyone joined her in saying goodbye to Kurt, who was waving at them from the flatscreen.

*****

The funeral was fancy, but not over the top. All of the Warblers showed up, and with their help, Blaine was able to sing a rendition of Jeff Buckley's arrangement of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. Kurt had always said it was his favorite. That Buckley's version was a little bit more bittersweet than Cohen's arrangement, though both were nice. Rachel and Mercedes sang “For Good,” with the New Directions as back-up. Sue Sylvester wore a black track suit Kurt's funeral, and she didn't try to antagonize anyone the entire time. She was too busy mourning her sweet Porcelain.

Burt did put a headstone down next to Karen's, though he honored his son's wishes and had him cremated. Burt sprinkled a handful of Kurt's ashes over the grave, and all of Kurt's friends put down purple orchids, which were Kurt's favorite flowers. Blaine almost didn't make it through the funeral. But Rachel and Wes and David kept holding onto him. Kept reminding him that he was alive, that he could make it through this horrible event. As Blaine said goodbye to his dead lover, he wasn't certain he could keep his promises to Kurt. He didn't know how he could ever move on. He didn't want to say good-bye, and he certainly didn't want to let go. He was at the bottom of a deep hole, and he couldn't see any way out.

*****

Even though Nationals was in Los Angeles this year, New Directions were a lot less excited than they should be. Everything felt dull and muted, because Kurt was gone. He'd only been gone a few days, and the glee kids kept expecting to see him around every corner. Finn had brought some of Kurt's ashes with him, planning on scattering them outside the Chinese Theater, a place Kurt had once expressed a desire to see, when they had a chance to go sightseeing. But they had yet to perform, and Finn needed to finish Kurt's list. They all carried Kurt with them to Nationals in their hearts. This performance would be for him.

They mulled around the lobby of the convention center, not really having much spirit. Across the way, Rachel spotted Vocal Adrenaline. She recognized Sunshine Corazon and Giselle in their fancy dresses, and saw Jesse St. James in street clothes, of course he'd show up, he did live in LA now. Vocal Adrenaline was making their way over to New Directions, and Rachel got her teammates' attention, not trusting the competition for a minute.

“Hi,” Jesse said.

“We have nothing to say to you Jesse,” Finn said, towering protectively over Rachel.

“I understand,” Jesse said. “I heard about Kurt, and I just wanted to say that I'm sorry.”

“We all are,” Sunshine said. “He was a pretty cool guy.”

“We're not going to go easy on you or anything,” Giselle clarified, “But we're sorry nonetheless. I can't imagine of any of us died, that would seriously suck.”

“Break a leg,” Jesse said. “All of you. That's all we wanted to say.” The members of VA turned then and walked away.

When it was time to go on, Finn and Rachel sang a ballad together. As was their usual manner they started in the back and moved their way to the stage, just the two of them, when they got to the stage, Finn and Rachel held out their hands to silence the audience.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, last week, one of our members, my stepbrother, died. This performance—this song—is for Kurt,” Finn announced. Everyone was silent as the group started doing vocal backing, before Rachel started with the lead.

“A place to crash, I got you
No need to ask, I got you
Just get on the phone, I got you
Come and pick you up if I have to

What's weird about it is we're right at the end
I'm mad about it, just figured it out in my head
I'm proud to say I got you

Go ahead and say goodbye, I'll be alright
Go ahead and make me cry, I'll be alright
And when you need a place to run to
For better, for worse I got you, I got you

Ain't falling apart or bitter
Let's be bigger than that and remember
The cooling outdoor when you're all alone
Won't survive it, no drama, no need for a show
Just wanna say I got you

Go ahead and say goodbye, I'll be alright
Go ahead and make me cry, I'll be alright
And when you need a place to run to
For better, for worse I got you

Go ahead and say goodbye, I'll be alright
Go ahead and make me cry, I'll be alright
And when you need a place to run to
For better, for worse, I got you

'Cause this is love and life
And nothing we can both control
And if it don't feel right
You're not losing me by letting me know

Go ahead and say goodbye, I'll be alright
Go ahead and make me cry, I'll be alright
And when you need a place to run to
For better, for worse I got you

Go ahead and say goodbye, I'll be alright
Go ahead and make me cry, I'll be alright
And when you need a place to run to
For better, for worse I got you

A place to crash, I got you
No need to ask, I got you “

They went straight into “The Dog Days Are Over,” and finished with all the crowd on their feet. They had done it well, and they knew that even if they lost, they had won, because they'd gone to Nationals, and they'd done it for Kurt. They didn't lose, however, they won, and it was the greatest win they'd ever had, no matter how bittersweet it was. They had won, for Kurt. When the trophy was handed over Finn took Kurt's carefully written list out of his pocket and crossed Nationals of the list.

*****

“Ladies and Gentlemen, and the class of 2012,” Finn began. “I wasn't supposed to give this speech. My stepbrother, Kurt Hummel, was supposed to give a speech about overcoming adversity. Unfortunately, he died recently, only a month shy of graduation. If there was one thing Kurt knew about, it was adversity. He was openly gay in a small town, he was an atheist in a Christian community. He was flamboyant, energetic and a massive bitch. And he had Huntington's Disease. But he wouldn't want me to talk about that,” Finn said, with a smirk. “I'm fairly certain there are only two words that Kurt would want me to say to William McKinley High school. Fuck you. Fuck you all for ignoring him, mistreating him, and bullying him for years. If he hadn't suddenly come down with a very visible illness, none of you would give a shit about him. So, in honor of Kurt Hummel, fuck you.” Finn turned to Figgins, gave him the finger, then walked back to his seat. When his name was called, Sue Sylvester slipped two diplomas into his hand. He didn't have to check it to know that the second one had Kurt's name on it.

When he got home that evening, he crossed “graduate” off of Kurt's list. There was only one thing left.

*****

“I can't believe we're going to do this,” Rachel said. The entire glee club, plus Blaine, had gone to Cedar Point the second week of summer vacation. They were all going to bungee jump. Well, except for Artie, because it was too much hassle, but he was sitting on the ground with a video camera, filming the whole thing. As they were getting ready to go on the bungie jumping ride Finn saw Mercedes with a sad but determined look on her face and suddenly remembered one of his promises to Kurt.

"Hey, Mercedes."

"Hmm?" She asked, looking up.

"I just wanted to say, you look absolutely beautiful today," Finn said.

"Thank you," Mercedes said, taken aback. But she smiled. For a second, it was like Kurt was there with them.

“Okay you guys, let's honor Kurt's last wish,” Finn said. He held out a plastic baggie containing some of Kurt's ashes. Everyone reached in and took a small amount in their hands. Blaine looked like he was about to burst into tears at any second, but he did it, holding a small amount of Kurt's remains in his hand.

The ride would drop them in groups of two or three, so they could do it together. Finn, Rachel and Blaine all let the attendant strap them into the harness and clip them together. Their hands were free. As the ride released, dropping them into the air, they opened their hands and dropped the ashes. Finn closed his eyes, and thought about Kurt. They'd done it now. Kurt's list was finished. Now he could rest. He was done.

*End*

 

*****
Epilogue
*****
2013
Lima, Ohio

Blaine Anderson walked through the graveyard toward the Hummel plot. He found Kurt Hummel's headstone and laid the purple orchids down. He sat down on the damp grass, cross-legged across from the stone which read Kurt Hummel, 1993-2012, Beloved Son and Friend. There is less music in the world without you.

“Hey Kurt,” Blaine said. “So, I'm home from my first year of college. I wish you could have been with me. It's not as wonderful as I'd thought it would be. I kinda fucked up a little, and now I'm on academic probation, because I let my grades slip. So I have to work harder next fall, but I can do it.”

Blaine ran his hand across the cut stone, tracing the letters with his finger. “Rachel and Mercedes are doing well. We all miss you, but Rachel's flourishing in her musical theater program. Everyone's moving on, like you asked them to. Everyone except me.”

Blaine leaned forward, tears breaking free from his eyes and rolling down his cheeks. “I—I can't do it Kurt. This world is so useless and empty without you in it. I miss you so much it hurts. Nothing is worth doing without you. I'm probably going to fail out of school, and I can't be bothered to care!” Blaine's breath hitched as he fell into sobs. He rested his head on the tombstone, his body pressed against it.

“I don't know if I can do this, Kurt. Live without you. It's been a year, and you're still all I think about. It hurts to breathe, it hurts to think. Why did you have to leave me, Kurt? It's not fair. I miss you so much. I need you so much, Baby.” Blaine cried, his head on the tombstone, not caring that the dew was soaking into his pants. He sat there, his head against his dead boyfriend's grave marker, crying for more than an hour, craving Kurt's proximity.

“Blaine?” a voice called out. Rachel Berry and Mercedes Jones were standing there with purple orchid bouquets of their own.

“Oh, Blaine, honey,” Mercedes said and the two young women went straight over to the boy, wrapping their arms around him tightly.

“I thought it was supposed to get easier,” Blaine whispered. “But he's all I can think about. I miss him so much.”

“I miss him too,” Rachel said.

“We all miss him,” Mercedes said. “Come on, Blaine, we're going to dinner at the Hummel's, and you should come with us. Burt asks about you a lot, and so do Carole and Finn.”

“Yeah,” Rachel said.”We miss you a lot too, Blaine. Let's all go hang out and catch up.”

“Okay,” Blaine said softly, and he let the two girls help him up. They all left their flowers for Kurt, and walked out of the Lima cemetery. Blaine was having a rough go of it, but he had his two best girls to help him. Life felt pretty bad right now, but someday it would get better.

 

*****
2014
Columbus, Ohio

Sam Evans stretched before stepping into the locker room. He loved playing college football, but it was a lot more work than high school ball had been. He started stripping off his practice uniform to take a shower.

“Hey, Evans, we're all going out to this new bar to pick up chicks tonight. Wanna come?” Bradley, a man built like a freight train, asked.

“Sorry, I have plans,” Sam said, stripping off his underwear and walking over to the shower.

“What kind of plans are better than picking up chicks?” Bradley asked.

“I have a date,” Sam said.

“Bring her along,” Bradley said. “It's a team thing, don't be left out.”

Be brave like Kurt, Sam told himself, The worst that can happen is they beat you up, and you can take most of them. Be strong like Kurt

“Him,” Sam said.

“What?” another player, Ryan, asked.

“Dude, are you gay?” Doug asked.

“Yeah,” Sam said, closing his eyes and standing under the hot spray. “I am. And I have a boyfriend. He's in the RotC program. His name's Dave.”

“Well, bring Dave then,” Bradley said. “It's a team thing, and we're not letting you cop out.” Bradley turned and glared at the other players in the locker room. Staring down a couple who looked nervous or angry. “And if anyone has a problem with it, they can take it up with me.”

“Thanks,” Sam said, smiling as he washed his hair. “I'll ask Dave if he's up for going out tonight. RotC keeps him pretty busy.” Maybe this being publicly out thing wouldn't be so bad after all. Especially since DADT had been repealed and Dave didn't have to worry about being in trouble. Sam still thought it was weird that he and Dave Karofsky had would up going to the same college after high school, but they did, and they became pretty good friends over time. It was now the fall of their Junior year and they'd been dating for about six months. Sam didn't want to think about what happened after graduation when Dave got deployed somewhere. But right now his life was pretty awesome. He was the star Quarterback for the Ohio State Buckeyes, he was a Philosophy major, and he was head over heels in love with his boyfriend.

Not for the first time, Sam made a silent prayer of thanks for Kurt Hummel, the boy who had given him the courage to be himself.

 

*****

 

2015
Lima, Ohio

“Go suck it, faggot!” the football player said, checking the smaller boy into the lockers..

“You, detention, for the rest of the term,” Sue Sylvester said.

“What? It was an accident.”

“I highly doubt that. Detention. And if you argue, I'll have you cleaning the locker room floor with your tongue. We do not bully here,” Sue said. She still remembered Porcelain's face after each incident of bullying. She wasn't going to let him down. That kid had been a bright shining star that the bullying had tried to tarnish. She wouldn't let any future Kurt Hummels be treated like that. No, she was the first line of defense against bullies in that school now. Well, her and Bieste. Now that she and Shannon had resolved their differences and become allies, they ruled McKinley together.

*****

2016
Columbus, Ohio

Finn, Mercedes and Rachel walked through the filthy apartment, quite disgusted by their surroundings. There were empty liquor bottles, beer bottles, and food containers everywhere. There was a faint buzzing sound, and Mercedes was fairly certain that there were flies living in this apartment. The three friends walked through the squalor toward the bedroom.

Blaine Anderson was passed out on his bed, naked. His curly hair was wild and unkempt, having grown out quite a bit. The beautiful tattoo that Blaine had got when Kurt was dying had been joined by two or three other tattoos. Blaine, who had lost about twenty pounds since Rachel had seen him last—twenty pounds he couldn't really afford to lose—was half laying on some boy who was also asleep, but stirred when the trio entered the bedroom. He too was naked, and Finn could see track marks on the boy's arm. He wrinkled his nose at the implication.

“You, get up,” Finn said, grabbing the boy's arm. The boy woke up, looking confused. “Get your clothes and get out. Now.”

“But,” the boy started to protest.

“Now,” Mercedes added. The boy threw on some filthy clothes he picked up off the floor before disappearing quickly. While he was leaving, Blaine started to wake up.

“What's going on?” Blaine asked, squinting as the light coming through the window aggravated his hangover.

“You can't do this anymore, Blaine,” Rachel said. “It's time for you to get up, and get dressed.”

“Am I going somewhere?” Blaine asked, confused.

“Yeah,” Mercedes said. “Rehab.”

“I don't need to go to rehab,” Blaine insisted, and not for the first time.

“Blaine, take a look at your life,” Finn said. “You've failed out of two different colleges. Your dad's cut you off financially. You have no way to pay your bills, or support yourself. There's no food in your house.”

“Not that it matters,” Rachel said, “Since I don't think you've eaten in days. Blaine, I can count all of your ribs. You look like a refugee. You've spent the last year too drunk or high to remember to eat.”

“Get dressed,” Mercedes said, and she and Rachel found him some clothes, and started forcibly dressing him. He tried to struggle at first, but he was underweight and hungover, so they were easily able to overpower him.

“Blaine. We all miss Kurt,” Finn said. “But you've got to get better. You're killing yourself slowly, and it's not fair to those who love you.”

“Who loves me?” Blaine asked. “Nobody loves me. Shelly and my parents don't even call me anymore. The only person who ever loved me, who ever needed me, is gone now, and I don't see any reason to live without him.”

“God, Blaine, Kurt would be so ashamed of you right now,” Mercedes said, and Blaine let out a painful noise she couldn't identify. “That boy loved you more than he loved himself. IT would have broken his heart to see you like this.”

“Blaine, please,” Rachel said. “I love you so much. You're so important to me. And I can't watch you do this to yourself anymore.”

“We've set up a spot for you at a really good rehab,” Finn said. “Your dad even agreed to pay for it.”

“Why should I even bother?” Blaine asked.

“Because you made promises to Kurt,” Rachel said. “And because you made promises to me. After Kurt died, do you remember? We promised we'd take care of each other.”

“Let us take you to the rehab,” Mercedes said. “Give recover a chance. Give yourself a chance to find that beautiful, amazing guy with whom Kurt fell in love. That guy who we all love.”

“Remember Kurt's DVD speech, the one we watched the day after he died?” Finn asked. “Kurt said he was the only one allowed to die before they were thirty.”

“You need to let us help you, Blaine,” Rachel said. “For Kurt.”

She looked at the man, and saw he was crying. He looked so small and fragile. She couldn't help herself, she wrapped her arms around him and held him tightly. Blaine dropped his head to Rachel's shoulder and cried. He cried for himself, and he cried for Kurt. He cried until he was completely empty.

“Okay,” Blaine said. “I'll go.”

“Good,” Finn said. “Let's pack you a bag.”

Blaine allowed himself to herded into a car, with a backpack full of clothes and toiletries. Mercedes and Rachel sat on either side of him in the back seat while Finn drove, holding his hands and reassuring him. When they got to the rehab center, Rachel walked in with him, and Finn and Mercedes waited for her to come back. Mercedes' hand slipped into Finn's as they leaned against Kurt's old Lincoln Navigator.

“Do you think he'll be okay?” Finn asked her.

“With Kurt watching out for him? Hell yeah,” Mercedes said. “He just got lost for a while. But if we keep out eyes on him, we can help him find his way again.”

“Good,” Finn said. He looked at Mercedes standing in the sunlight and smiled. “You know, you're beautiful.” She smiled at the words. There was always hope in this life. She had to hold onto her optimism. Somehow, she knew everything would be okay, someday.

*****
2017
Nashville, Tennessee

Noah parked his motorcycle outside the bar he worked at and took off his helmet. He stretched his back and then went inside. He looked around for Frank, the manager.

“Hey, Puck, what's up? You're not on for another twenty minutes.”

“Hey Frank. Um, I wanted to give you my two weeks notice,” Noah said, running his hand over his buzzed head.

“Thanks for the consideration. Any particular reason?”

“I'm moving back to Ohio,” Puck said. “And I'm going to give college a try.”

“Cool, cool, any particular reason?”

“I made a promise to a friend. His dying wish to me was for me to 'go out into the world, find myself, and then come back home and start a real life.' Plus, I'm hoping there's a girl back there for me.”

“Somebody special?” Frank asked.

“Yeah,” Puck smiled, “The prettiest kindergarten teacher you've ever seen.” He pulled out his cell phone and found a picture of Quinn, showing it to his boss. “WE were on-again, off-again in high school, but now that I'm a better man, I'm hoping she'll give me another chance.”

“Well, good luck to you, man, I wish you all the best,” Frank said.

*****
2020
Palo Alto, California

The graduation ceremony for Stanford Medical College was intense and long. Tina Chang fidgeted in the audience as she watched her husband sitting up there. She sat next to Brittany, and Burt and Carole Hummel who were there for Santana Lopez, who was also graduating from medical school alongside Mike. The Hummels had taken Santana in about two weeks after Kurt's death, and Santana lived with them all through college, up until she applied for medical school.

Tina ran her hand over her pregnant belly when they called Mike's name. She held her camera and snapped a picture of him with the Dean. Tina was starting to make a name for herself as a fashion designer, but today was for her to celebrate Mike. She had enjoyed the chance to catch up with Brittany, who was busy living in LA with Artie and Lauren trying to build her career as an actress. Brittany was getting lots of parts, but unlike Blaine Anderson, who seemed to be a break-out star, Brittany was mainly getting one-two episode long guest spots on TV shows. She and Santana had remained close. They weren't romantically involved anymore, since both were rather career-oriented, and Santana was in an intense, tumultuous relationship with a firecracker named Kendra, but the two had always remained close.

“So,” Burt Hummel addressed Mike, his arm around a grinning Santana, “Do you know what you want to do with your degree, Mike?”

“Actually,” Mike said, “I'm going into research. I have no desire to work directly with patients.”

“What kind of research?” Burt asked curiously.

“Huntington's research,” Mike said, and Burt's face lit up in a smile.

“Good man,” Burt said, moving from Santana to clap Mike on the back. “Good man.”

“I'm going into neurology,” Santana said. “After I do my residency, I want to go into neurology.”

“Good girl,” Burt said, kissing the top of her head. “I am so proud of you.”

“Thanks, Dad,” Santana said.

“And when are you due, Tina?” Carole asked.

“July,” Tina said. “And I can't wait to get this kid out of me.”

“I remember what that was like,” Carole said. “Do you know what you're having yet?”

“No, it's bad luck,” Tina said. “I'm hoping for a boy, though. Mercedes and I are arguing over who gets to name their son Kurt.”

“Well, she's due any day now,” Burt said. “So, I'm guessing she's going to win. Maybe you can use Kurt as a middle name.”

“That might be nice,” Tina said.

“How's Finn doing?” Mike asked.

“How does any man do wen his wife is nine months pregnant?” Burt asked, laughing.

“I still can't believe Finn and Mercedes got married,” Brittany said. “I never saw that coming.”

“None of us did,” Burt said, “But they got really close after Kurt died. Something about Kurt making Finn promise to tell her regularly that she was beautiful, and eventually he wasn't doing it for Kurt anymore.”

“That's so sweet,” Brittany said.

“We want to take you all out for dinner,” Carole said. “We've already made reservations.”

“Sounds good,” Mike said, “You okay with that, T?”

“Absolutely. How often do we get to catch up like this?” Tina Chang smile as she took her husband's—the now Dr. Chang—hand.

*****

2023
Lima, Ohio

William Schuester walked down the hallway towards the choir room,, whistling as he went. He had a pretty good choir this year. Not nearly as good as the first choir he had coached, but that had been a special case, all those talents at the same time. As he entered the choir room he looked at the trophy case. It kept growing, as he kept producing decent choirs.

“Hey Kurt,” Will nodded to the picture on the wall. There were two framed portaits. One of his own choir director from the 1990s, and one of Kurt Hummel, one of his best singers from the class of 2012, who had sadly died an early death.

“Mr. Schue, why do you talk to that picture?” Melissa, his current star soloist asked.

“This is Kurt Hummel,” William said. “One of the most promising students I ever taught. He was an amazing countertenor with a range twice the size of yours.”

Melissa's eyes widened. Mr. Schue was constantly complimenting her on her range.

“How come he's not famous? When did he graduate?” Melissa asked. Some of the other students were showing up and listening quietly as Mr. Schue walked over and touched the frame portrait.

“He never graduated,” Will said. “He was in the class of 2012, a sophomore when I took over the glee club back in '09, but unfortunately he was born with a genetic disease that killed him about a month before graduation.”

“He died?” Melissa asked.

“Yeah. It's a pity. That boy had a lot of potential. I wish I had given him more solos. Anyway, let's get to work. Line up for the choreography for 'Don't Stop Believing',” Will directed, and the kids rolled their eyes. That song was so old.

*****
2026
Fort Irwin, California

Two men sat around the officers' mess at Fort Irwin. One of them, Second Lieutenant Cooper, had just finished telling a queer joke, and didn't understand why the other man weren't laughing. He'd been hoping to impress Major Evans with his humor, but the man didn't seem amused. Before he had the chance to tell another joke, Colonel Thompson walked over, waving him off before he had the chance to stand and salute.

“Dave,” the Colonel said.

“Hmm?” Major Evans asked, turning his head.

“Tell Sam I said good luck on Sunday. The 9-ers don't make it to the Bowl nearly often enough. I've got fifty bucks riding on that man of yours, so he'd better do well.”

“I'll tell him,” Dave said, grinning. “He's so nervous. It's funny, you'd think he'd never been in a championship game before. He's acting like a virgin on prom night, it's so adorable.”

Cooper looked confused. “'Scuse me Sir, but what are you talking about?”

“Don't you know, son?” Colonel Thompson asked. “The Major's husband is Sam Evans, quarterback for the San Francisco 49-ers.”

“No, I didn't,” Cooper said, turning bright red. He couldn't believe it. He'd made a gay joke in front of a gay superior. His ass was grass for sure.

“Gary, tell give my love to Molly and the kids,” Dave said.

“Will do,” Colonel Thompson said, turning and walking away.

“Sir,” Cooper began, squirming in his seat.

“Relax, Cooper,” Dave said. “I'm not going to bust your ass over the joke. You didn't know, so I'm cutting you some slack this time. Yes, I'm gay, yes, I'm married to another man. Don't make a joke like that again, and we won't have a problem.”

“Yes, Sir,” Cooper said.

“Besides, I told that same joke back in high school,” Dave said, “Before I came out.” Dave smiled as he thought back to high school, and to Kurt Hummel, the guy who'd given him the courage to follow his dreams. He had no doubt that if Kurt Hummel had never gone to Lima, he and Sam would never have had the courage to come out, and would never have fallen in love in college. He owed his amazing life to Kurt Hummel.

****

2027
Cannes, France

“We're here on the red carpet in Cannes with Arthur Abrams, Lauren Zizes and Brittany Pierce,” the interviewer said. “They are the writer, director and female lead of the film 'Fading Away' which is one of the films nobody can seem to stop talking about. Tell us, how did you come up with this movie?”

“Well, the three of us all went to high school together,” Artie started, “And while we were in school, one of our close friends was battling juvenile Huntington's Disease. Watching him fade away really affected all of us.”

“Kurt Hummel was one of the bravest, most stubborn, and most creative people I've ever known,” Brittany said. “He inspired all of us.”

“None of the character's are directly based on Kurt,” Lauren said. “There's a little bit of all of us, and our rag-tag bunch of high school misfits in all of these characters, but watching Kurt...decay, the way he did during our senior year, like Artie said, really affected us. Kurt was our inspiration. He made us all promise to make something of our lives, and it's funny, because every single person who could count Kurt as a friend in high school has had some level of success.”

“He's our angel,” Brittany said. “He's watching out for us all.”

*****

2029
Lima, Ohio

“Mrs. Puckerman,” a precocious six-year-old ran over to Quinn in a tizzy.

“Yes, Maya?” Quinn Puckerman put her hand behind her back as she stood up. She was glad that her baby wasn't due until the summer. She would have hated to leave her kids with a sub, even for just a few weeks. But she had the whole summer for maternity leave, and hopefully would come back to teach a new batch of five-year-olds in September.

“Stacy said I'm going to hell because I don't go to church on Sundays. She said I'm going to burn and burn and burn forever!”

“Stacy is wrong,” Quinn said gently.

“Really?' Maya asked, unconvinced.

“Really. One of the best people I've ever known didn't go to church on Sundays, and now he's up in heaven smiling down on me,” Quinn said, And critiquing my wardrobe choices, probably, she thought to herself.

“But she said I was stupid 'cause I said God is a giant squirrel,” Maya said.

“Never let anyone tell your your beliefs are stupid. If your God is a giant squirrel, that's perfectly okay. You believe whatever you want to believe, okay?”

“Okay!” Maya said, standing up on her tiptoes to hug her teacher, then running back to play.

*****

2034
New York City, New York

Rachel Berry steadied herself before stepping out of the limo onto the red carpet. She had done it. It had taken her eighteen years of living in New York trying to make it, but she was nominated for two Tony Awards. She began walking, trying not to hyperventilate.

“Rachel! Rachel Berry!” an interviewer stopped her to talk.

“Hello.”

“Rachel, you look stunning. Who are you wearing?”

“Tina Chang. She designed the dress and the shoes, and we designed the brooch together,” Rachel said.

“That's a beautiful brooch.”

“Thank you,” her hand went to the gold and diamond shooting star brooch pinned to her dress. “We designed it in memory of our friend Kurt.”

“Oh, an old boyfriend?” the interviewer asked.

“No. My best friend. He died when we were in high school. We both wanted to make it on Broadway, so tonight's for him.”

“Well, good luck tonight,” the interviewer said, and Rachel cringed. Obviously this was her first year covering the Tonys, and she didn't know not to say 'good luck' to theater actors. She felt her husband, Miguel, come up beside her and take her hand.

“Isn't that a friend of yours?' he asked, pointing over to Jesse St. James.

“Frenemy might be a better term, but yes,” Rachel said. “I should say hello, he's nominated as well.” She managed to make her way over to Jesse St. James, who had another man hanging off his arm.

“Jesse, it's good to see you,” Rachel said.

“Rachel, this is my boyfriend Stephen,” Jesse said.

“That's right, I'd heard you were finally out publicly. Good for you, Jesse. You know my husband Miguel, of course. Congratulations on being nominated. Billy Flynn is the perfect role for you.”

“You blew me away as Mrs. Lovett, too,” Jesse said. “I hope you win.”

“I wish Kurt were here,” Rachel said honestly.

“He would have been. If he hadn't died so young, he'd have been a sensation,” Jesse said. They chatted a few more minutes, then answered a few more interviews. She caused a slight scandal when she saw Blaine Anderson across the carpet and ran into his arms, much to the dismay of his boyfriend. She and Blaine were still close—best friends, really—and he knew how important this night was for her. Eventually they were all escorted into the theater and she nervously held Miguel's hand until it was time for her to perform. And then, she held his hand again when the award she was nominated for was read.

“And the winner is, Rachel Berry for Sweeney Todd!”

Rachel gasped, her eyes wide. She kissed Miguel quickly and made her way up to the stage. She took the award and stared out into the audience.

“Wow. Oh my, wow. Thank you. I'd like to that the Director, and my cast-mates in the production for being so wonderful to work with. I want to thank my dads, who always encouraged me to reach for the stars, and my wonderful husband Miguel, the father of my daughter Sophie, and the light of my life, I wouldn't be able to do anything without you, baby. I'd also love to thank my friend Blaine Anderson, and everyone back in Lima, Ohio who I miss so much. But most of all, I want to thank Kurt Hummel, my best friend, who's smiling down on me from heaven right now, and probably criticizing my dress. I miss you so much, Kurt, this is for you!” she held the Tony up, heard the applause, and started to walk off the stage. She could feel the tears in her eyes, could feel herself start to hyperventilate. She had done it. For herself, and for Kurt.

*****

2036
Lima, Ohio

“Hey, Kurt, come sit with your grandpa. Your Uncle Blaine is going to be on TV.”

“Again?” Sixteen-year-old Kurt Hudson asked, sitting next to his grandfather on the couch.

“Yes, smartass, again. It's the last season of Inside the Actor's Studio. It's never been as good since James Lipton died.”

“Cool,” Kurt said.

Burt ran his hand over his grandson's dark curly hair. He looked so much like Mercedes, the only evidence of Finn's contribution was his height, and skin a few shades lighter than his mother's.

On the television, a forty-four-year-old Blaine Anderson sat across from John Keaton who, after James' Lipton's death, had taken over for the man at Pace University.

“Blaine, where were you born,” John asked him.

“Columbus, Ohio.”

Blaine answered questions about his childhood, about his parents, about his sister, then the interviewer, John, moved on to high school.

“Where did you go to high school?”

“Dalton Academy, in Westerville, Ohio. It was an all-boys prep school.”

“Did you do any acting there?”

“Yes, I was in community musicals, but I also tried out for all the school plays. I was also in the glee club.”

“Since it was an all-boys' school, did you ever play any female characters?”

“Twice,” Blaine answered. “Sophomore year I played Ophelia in Hamlet, and senior year I played Lady M in the Scottish Play.”

“And who was Kurt Hummel?”

In Ohio, Kurt took his grandfather's hand. People talked about Uncle Kurt a lot, but the current Kurt worried it might make Grandpa Burt sad.

“Kurt Hummel was my first boyfriend. I met him in the fall of junior year, and we started dating in the spring of junior year.”

“And what happened to him?” John asked.

“He died from juvenile-onset Huntington's Disease when he was eighteen, about a month before graduation.”

“And how did that affect you?”

“Well, I mean, how does losing your first love affect anyone? The hardest part was watching him die. But it definitely affected the way I saw the world. Kurt was the shining center of my universe, and I had a rough couple of years. I developed a drinking problem, as well as a drug addiction and failed out of college. My father cut me off, after I drank away all my savings. My friend Rachel Berry—”

“The Broadway actress?”

“Yes. She was one of Kurt's best friends in high school. She and Kurt's brother Finn and Finn's now-wife Mercedes did an intervention, and helped me get my act together. They drove me to rehab, and I was able to get clean and sober. Eventually, I started going to auditions again.”

“Tell me about The Long Walk” John asked.

“I'd been sober about six months went I went for the audition. It was a Stephen King adaptation, which automatically interested me. I was damn lucky that my first job turned out to be so successful.”

“You won an Academy Award for The Long Walk,” John said.

“I did. I still can't believe I did. I owe it all to my friends and family that kept me going. Thank God for Burt Hummel, Kurt's father. He was always there for me, whenever I needed a helping hand or a kick in the ass. Apart from my own dad, he's the best dad ever.”

Kurt looked up at Grandpa Burt. There were tears in his eyes. He didn't pay too much attention to the TV show, choosing instead to hug his grandpa. Because suave-and-awesome-manly-teenager or not, he knew his Grandpa needed a hug right now.

“Who is Jesse St. James?” John asked.

“My fiance,” Blaine smiled. “We met a couple years back when Rachel Berry won her Tony award. He won a Tony that same night, for Chicago.”

Burt and Kurt didn't listen to much more of the show. Mercedes showed up and started cooking dinner. After Carole died two years earlier, Burt had moved in with Finn and Mercedes and their children. Finn had gone to college to become a Phys Ed teacher, and eventually took over at McKinley. Mercedes was a minister, and had her own small congregation which she led in song every Sunday. Finn wasn't the only former New Directions member to teach at McKinley. Noah Puckerman worked there as the music teacher, and the two of them played with their band on the weekends.

*****

2073
Rochester, Minnesota

Eighty-year-old Mike Chang slowly walked to the podium at the auditorium of the Mayo Clinic headquarters. He'd been waiting for sixty years to be able to make this announcement.

“Ladies and Gentlemen,” the elderly scientist announced, “I have a great announcement to make. Myself and my team, in association with the Mayo Clinic, and several international colleagues, have officially discovered a cure for Huntington's Disease.”

Mike couldn't hear himself beyond the applause. The sheer happiness at the announcement took him over. He was so glad that he'd finally been able to say it. To announce that they'd cured Huntington's. He hoped that somewhere in the afterlife, Kurt could see him now. He'd done it.

*End*