Chapter 3
It's gonna get difficult to stand, but hold your balance

Lima was a surprisingly big town in the middle of nowhere Ohio. They were about 2 hours away from any of the cities anyone with good geography could possibly name and yet there were two high schools in this town. West Lima High and McKinley High and most people never crossed over between the border to attend the school of the other in any of the grades or years. So none of the McKinley students could name a single student from West Lima High except Santana.

West Lima was viewed as the rough neighborhood of their town, nobody crossed the tracks if they could avoid it. West Lima students thought the same about McKinley and neither were right or wrong, they all had their own problems and own success stories. West Lima High didn't have the funding McKinley did and had a higher incidence of serious violence and drugs but they were tighter knit. Nobody picked on a single one of their classmates, no matter who or what they were. Everyone was free to be themselves and they all banded together to get something done when they wanted it.

McKinley on the other hand liked to pretend that they were financially strapped but if they had done a better job at distributing their funds they could have been even better than they were in a lot more areas. They might not have the single cash cow they had currently but it would have been more evenly balanced and would have made potentially even more money by supporting different areas but they didn't want to hear it.

This uneven distribution contributed to the dysfunctional class structure they had between their students. It created a hierarchy that shouldn't exist if all interests were treated equally and valued equally. So jocks and cheerleaders thought they were the top of the food chain and arts and anything remotely creative were at the bottom. Physical prowess was viewed the best thing a person could achieve even if it was fleeting compared to expanding the mind with school academics and intelligence and even more mind bending with artistic endeavors.

So it was of very little surprise when the top of the food chain chose to dwell at the bottom with their lunch that it confused the other top predators and made them agitated and aggressive. Kurt and Rachel were considered the lowest of the low because that's all they had expressed interest in and had been so vocal about it too.

The others in the club had other things, church, math and science, football, goth hangs, Spanish, Cheerios, etc. Kurt and Rachel lived for the stage and so they were the ones who had to rely on each other and support each other through everything even if they didn't always see eye to eye on most things, they loved and supported each other anyway.

Rachel went with Mercedes to get their nails done and she chatted away to the other girl who just wanted to put her headphones in and relax and chill. "I'm really worried about Kurt, he's losing weight that he can't spare."

Mercedes tuned back in when Rachel said something of interest to her. "I know, I keep trying to get him to eat but he always turns his nose up at everything – too many trans fats or carbohydrates or deep fried."

"Too much lactose." Rachel added. "Or sugar."

"Can't you do anything? Tell Finn at least?" Mercedes hedged and Rachel shook her head.

"I have and Finn said that he noticed it too and suggested the three of them took turns trying to entice Kurt to eat breakfast, at least more than an apple or grapefruit."

Mercedes made a face there. "Who likes grapefruit?"

"By itself? No one. With other things, it can be pretty good." Rachel shrugged, she'd had that when she was on a particularly strong diet too when she just needed to fit into that one outfit a little better.

"No other meals then?" Mercedes asked skeptically.

"Well, they get him to sit down with them for dinner but he just pushes his food around and none of us have seen him eat anything during lunch."

"If we see him at lunch." Mercedes had noticed that Kurt had been disappearing shortly after getting his food for weeks now. If he even got any food, he was usually the last one in and the first one out.

"Maybe what we need is a girl's night?" Rachel suggested hopefully.

Mercedes nodded. "He can't say no to popcorn or if one of our parents makes a meal, he'll have to eat something."

"Shall we invite Tina?" Rachel suggested.

"Of course." Though Tina may or may not show up, she was a year younger and her parents were a little more strict.

"The original fab 4." Rachel grinned. "We're missing Artie but he's not one of the girls." No matter how much they had tried to make him one. Often people with disabilities were coddled and thought they couldn't do everything an able-body person thought, but Artie definitely didn't fit that stereotype. He knew there were limitations but he pushed every other boundary and was definitely a boy.

Rachel brought up the idea at dinner at the Hummel-Hudson house when she was over next and thought maybe with Burt's approval and Carole and Finn's expectations, then Kurt would agree to it, nothing like a little peer pressure.

"We're thinking of having a girls' night on Friday." She dropped casually. "Mercedes and I were planning it and would love it if you would come Kurt."

"Thanks but I'll pass." Kurt pushed around his food and didn't even look up at her to shut her down. She frowned and everyone stared at him until he realized there was silence after that. He looked up and winced. "Sorry Rach, I'm just... not feeling very social right now, you get that right?"

"I think it'd be good for you." Carole commented. "The more you push yourself out of the house and start socializing the easier it'll be. The more you say no, the less people will ask until they don't anymore. Then when you're ready for them to ask, it'll be too late. When you want to see them, they may not be interested in seeing you."

Burt cleared his throat. "Actually, I'm not sure it's such a good idea Rachel. I would prefer to keep Kurt home with me."

Kurt rolled his eyes. "While I appreciate your attempt at reverse psychology, Carole had already convinced me that I should go and say yes to whatever offers my friends extend to me."

Burt looked at Carole and mouthed 'reverse psychology?' She smiled back at him patiently and then mouthed that she'd explain later. "If that's what you want son as long as you know my preference."

A smile peeked out on the corner of Kurt's lips and he didn't try to beat it back down. It was the first time any of them had seen a glimmer out a smile out of Kurt that wasn't totally forced or fake since Jeremiah died. Rachel was reassured that this was the right thing to do and she was glad that this approach worked because otherwise Santana was threatening to tie him to a chair and shove food into his mouth. Brittany had suggested chewing it up first and feeding it to him like a baby bird and had volunteered to be momma bird since she did it for her cat too.

Rachel had shuddered and tried to get that image out of her head but since it reappeared at dinner with the pleasure of Kurt agreeing to come over, she realized that it may never fully go away. What was worse was Finn hadn't said 'no' to the suggestions.

Wednesday brought back the bullies. Thankfully it was only 3 and not 5 days that they had to deal with them. It also brought out Santana's alternative personality, her "West Lima" personality as she put it. If she was in viewing distance of Kurt getting shoved into lockers by Karofsky or slushied by Azimio or hurt in any way by Strando, Santana was on them. She jumped onto their backs and started hitting at them or tripping them or groping them but not in a way they'd enjoy; depending on what they did, she'd retaliate worse. If they slurred him, she had insults at the ready and they were devastating and creative and individually targeting them and they just echoed the same old trite words their parents had said about gays in general.

Friday they didn't touch him or say one word and she left them alone. Kurt feared it meant they were just rallying for something worse. He left for the weekend with his last day there unscathed. They didn't turn Santana in, she was head Cheerio even if Sue said Quinn was. Santana was untouchable and she had Kurt's back but that didn't make him untouchable too. It was more embarrassing for them to say Santana beat them up than to just let it go. No one else turned her in either, they didn't care enough to.

Then it was Friday night and Kurt was in the center of the big King sized bed in Rachel's room and he was surrounded by his girls. None of the Cheerios were there but nobody felt guilty or bad about it. It was just a low-key event and was unlikely to be the others' scene at this time. They were watching a chick flick while their nails dried and each had their own popcorn containers and no one noticed as Kurt kept putting more popcorn into the others' buckets when they weren't looking so it appeared as if he was eating it. Mercedes and Rachel were pleased to see that his bucket was mostly gone. The fact that it had very few calories was outside of the point for anyone involved.

They applied face masks and watched another movie and Kurt sighed and slid down the bed a little to get a bit more comfortable. He had missed this, even before Jeremiah died, this was becoming less and less frequent the more he and Jeremiah had spent more time together, gotten closer to being even more intimate. They hadn't quite gone all the way but they had definitely gotten pretty darn close. Kurt had held out though, he felt too young to accept that kind of responsibility and that it was a very big step and would change their relationship forever.

He fell asleep with the mask still on and he woke up with his head on Tina's lap as she was taking the mask off of him very carefully, trying not to wake him up. The others were working on their own and her face was clear. "Shh." She whispered down to him. "Sleep." His eyes were too heavy to argue with her, it had been so long since he had gotten a good night's sleep.

It started that way for him but he woke up in a panic at 2 am and grabbed for his neck, finding nothing around it, he slowly calmed down.

Jeremiah's family had never disclosed in which way Jeremiah had taken his own life and so every night Kurt dreamt of a new way to die. His dreams had them both dying, Jeremiah was always first and then Kurt followed after. This time it was by strangulation. He was sure his own sore throat earlier this month had been the prominent reason for it. He'd had this dream every week since that event at school. It was cycled through with drowning, a plastic bag over his head, exhaust and carbon-monoxide poisoning. Any way that could cut off his air circulation, he dreamt it.

Guns, cuts along his arms, knife to his middle, pill overdose, alcohol overdose, drinking cleaning products, driving a car off a cliff, electrocution, had all had a cameo at least once. He was sure there were a lot more ways to kill yourself, he just didn't want to be that creative or look into it. He was already having enough nightmares with what he did know or could imagine.

Seeing death behind his eyelids every time he closed them was stressful and that alone would make him not want to eat but the disgust at the scenes playing out had him turned off food for forever.

He didn't know how anyone would be able to eat after seeing what he saw and to make it worse, it was his own subconsciousness supplying him with these images. He feared sleeping and the sleeping pills his psychiatrist had prescribed only helped him fall asleep, they did nothing for the nightmares and kept him under when all he wanted to do was wake up and look across the room and see Finn sleeping peacefully, and be reassured that he was alive, that his family was alive and that it was all one horrible nightmare before realty would inevitably set in that it wasn't all just a terrible dream, some of it was true and he would never wake up from it again.

He settled back into the bed and looked at Rachel's face far too close to his, she had on an eye mask and a mouth guard in and he smiled a little looking at her, she never really changed and that consistency was a balm for his raw feelings that didn't know which way was up. He turned his head and looked at Tina curled up into his side and smiled again, she was so sweet and cute and had tried so hard to be a bad-girl. She hung onto every word Kurt said and was always watching what he said or did. She looked so peaceful and innocent just then.

Then there was Mercedes sleeping behind Tina with her back on all of them. She was feisty and one of the first people who would be your friend, no matter what. She had it in her to be bad and scare people if she wasn't so good. She'd thrown a brick through Kurt's windshield just because he hadn't returned her feelings or interest, but she hadn't realized that he wasn't interested in girls in general. She'd felt bad but honestly, he had wondered at first if that wasn't why she'd done it but he hadn't known her well enough then to know that was the last thing she'd be mad at him about. She accepted him for who he was, it wasn't what she believed in when it came to religion but she believed in all people.

He was surrounded by so many good people and yes they all had their flaws but who didn't? They all had genuinely good hearts and intentions and were there for each other. Or in Puck's case, once you were in with him, you were in for life unless you did something really shitty and even then he may forgive you. He'd done some pretty terrible things in the past and to Finn, his best friend, he'd done a very terrible thing but he always had Finn's back otherwise. The Glee kids were all in his book now as ones he looked out for.

Kurt clenched the blanket over him tightly in one hand against his chest. He didn't know if he would be able to fall asleep for a third time tonight. He also didn't want to move from this spot. He felt so loved and protected right then and warm and comfortable and he didn't want to disturb that feeling, he hadn't felt it for too long.

Slowly his eyes must have closed on their own because he was waking up to Tina's body pressed up against his and Rachel talking excitedly on the phone to Finn but he couldn't make out what she was saying and Mercedes had taken Rachel's spot on the bed but was facing Kurt this time as she slept.

Tina realized Kurt was awake and pretended to turn in her sleep away from him and give him space. He felt the flicker of a smile form again against his lower lip. If Tina wasn't so great, she'd be trouble.

Kurt slipped out of the bed by pulling himself down to the bottom of it using his feet to pull him out from between the two. He was intending on finding Rachel but when he stood up he swayed and Tina was there at his arm before he sank to his knees. Perhaps it was with her guidance that he didn't crash head first into Rachel's desk and instead went straight down.

He woke to a stranger in his face putting an IV in his arm and now that he was awake the guy gave him an energy bar to eat. He ate it slowly and watched with a dazed fascination as the guy did his job.

His parents and Finn came up the stairs and started asking a million questions. Finn pulled a crying Rachel into his arms and looked over her head at Kurt and lifted both brows in a question and he shook his head, he didn't have an answer.

"It's ok." Kurt said around the remainder of the bar still in his mouth. "I'm fine, I just stood up too fast or something."

"Your sugar levels were dangerously low." The man countered and he glared at the EMT not pleased to hear that or have him tell his family that. "Your arm was so thin that it was in equal parts easy and difficult to find a vein." His jaw would have made a grinding noise had it been able to be heard over the other sounds in the room. "I'm sure if we did a full work up we'd find that other needed nutrient levels are also low." Burt sat down next to Kurt and took his hand and the EMT looked over to him. "Are you the father? Maybe you should look into getting him checked into an anorexia clinic."

"I am not anorexic." Kurt ground out, his temper flaring. "I am fine."

"Obviously not." The man said but not at all apologetic.

"Don't you have a partner or something?" Kurt asked with a lifted brow. "Perhaps they should be the one in here, they must have a better bedside manner than you."

"I am only telling it straight. If you and your harem depleted your reserves last night, it makes since."

Kurt swallowed hard as several shocked gasps echoed around the room and all of them were furious with this man suddenly who was doing a lot more than just his job, he was judging them and making assumptions. If Kurt were straight, he'd be flattered.

"I think Kurt's right, maybe you should switch with your partner." Burt rubbed a hand against Kurt's back and the man shrugged and radioed in for his partner to take his place. The other man came in and he went out.

"Let's see, what did he do?" They all jumped in to tell him exactly what his partner did and he nodded along as he worked on Kurt and once half of his bag was empty he took the needle out of Kurt's arm. "You do need to start eating better or we'll probably be seeing you again." He put a hand on Kurt's shoulder. "This temporary fix should be ok for the day but you need more energy going in rather than just going out."

Kurt sighed, nodded and accepted that he would have to force himself to eat. He only hoped that he could keep it down. He also knew that he would be going back to the psychologist a lot sooner than planned and more frequently.

"I don't understand." Mercedes spoke. "You ate all that popcorn last night."

Kurt rubbed the back of his neck. "No, I shared it with all of you, just none of you asked for me to do so."

"Kurt!" Rachel chided but he knew it wasn't because he should have ate it himself but because she would now have to work harder to burn those calories off. She usually knew exactly what went in so she knew what needed to come out.

"What happened?" He asked what the others were probably wondering too.

"I was on the phone with Rachel when she said she needed to check on something. I guess she heard Tina calling out for help and then I heard Rachel scream your name on the phone. I was at home and got Burt and mom's attention and when Rachel finally came back to the phone with me, she was crying and panicking and she was on speaker phone and we got her to calm down enough to tell us what happened and told her to call the ambulance." Finn explained his part of things.

"I just really think I stood up too quickly, blood rushing to my head and all." He could couple that with not sleeping well and not eating well too, if he were honest.

The EMT handed him another granola bar and walked away and out of the building, he had no reason to take him to the hospital unless it happened again.

"I'm going to make a big breakfast and watch you eat every bite of it." Burt threatened and Kurt's face paled and they all worried he was going to pass out again.

"Please don't, can't we start small and slowly add to it? I think I will throw it up without meaning to if we go large first." His stomach had to have shrunk in that time period too.

"If we do, you have to eat every bite." Burt agreed but with a warning tone and Kurt nodded. "If you really want, you can make it too."

Cooking... that was something he hadn't done since before Jeremiah died. He found that he did miss it and he nodded. "Ok. Might as well use the Berry kitchen and I can cook for everyone." Kurt looked over to Rachel and she nodded enthusiastically. Tina and Mercedes grinned in excitement, they'd had some of the food he'd cooked in the past and had always wanted more. It was healthy food sure but he made it tasty.

"Uh-" Finn had never had Kurt's cooking before and wasn't sure what to expect. If his other skills were any indicator, it would be fantastic.

"I like it." Burt shrugged. "I always thought I needed to bury it under a lot of sauce to make it edible but that just ruined what he did make. The other healthy food I'd had in the past seemed to be made out of cardboard but Kurt's doesn't taste that way, it tastes like real food."

"That's because it is real food." Kurt countered. "Will your dads be joining us Rachel?"

"Nah, they've already left for the weekend."

"No adults here today until Carole and I showed up?" Burt knew he hadn't wanted to let Kurt out of his sight this weekend and this just all confirmed it.

"Well they were here last night but they left early this morning for a day trip. They'll be back tomorrow." Rachel's hand was behind her back and she crossed her fingers to forgive her lying. Her dads were great and supportive but they did go on trips without her for a week at a time but she was ok on her own and if she needed anything there was a housekeeper she could call.

"Come stay with us this weekend until your parents get back. It's not right to leave a teenager on her own." Or really any child but Carole didn't say it and Finn was floored again by how wonderful his mom was. First she'd taken Quinn in when she thought the baby was his and now Rachel.

"If you're sure that's ok." Rachel didn't like staying in this big empty house alone and Kurt nodded at the same time as the other two males and Carole. "Ok." She agreed and was already mentally packing.

"Rachel, we're going shopping for a whole new weekend wardrobe." Kurt cut her off. "Those clothes have no business being on the floor of my house." He was also mentally going through the clothes he knew she had and trying to figure out something decent.

Mercedes perked up. "Can I come too?"

"Anyone is welcome." Kurt glanced at Tina and Finn but only Tina nodded, Finn didn't want to go shopping.

"Who said you could go?" Burt asked casually looking over at Kurt as he cooked. He seemed ok right now, but Kurt always seemed ok. He knew his son was having a really hard time but he did a really good job appearing fine, not great, not happy but just fine. Nobody thought he was good but bad was a harder word to pin on Kurt. They'd all only seen part of his struggle.

"I'm eating breakfast here now with you guys and will eat lunch with the girls at the mall, promise." Kurt held his gaze and Burt turned his eyes from Kurt to the girls, he wasn't sure any of them would know to call the ambulance without a cooler head involved.

"Are you sure you don't want to go Finn?"

Finn held Burt's gaze and seemed to understand what he was asking. "It wouldn't be the worst thing in the world watching Rachel try on clothes."

"Yay!" Rachel clapped her hands happily, she'd been hoping he'd come too.

"No trying to make me over though." Finn warned and Kurt shrugged. He'd already gotten him to wear a lot of different outfits in Glee Club and he wore a tux at the wedding, Kurt wouldn't push for more.

Kurt had to turn though when he remembered Jeremiah in a Tux. That boy rocked it. He had the body of a cheetah and while he was whip lean he was muscular and fast. That tux had followed every line of his body like a second skin and made him even hotter than he already was. Kurt and Jeremiah had dressed up for Halloween every year and it hadn't been fair how well Jeremiah could pull off all of those looks. Jeremiah even did the girl role at times in their couples outfits.

When it had been Gaga week and the bullies had been out in full force, Jeremiah had been right next to him in his basketball uniform and in front of Kurt, daring the bullies to go through him first. They were going to if Finn hadn't broken into their conversation. When the other Glee kids came also wearing Gaga outfits, Jeremiah had tried really hard not to laugh. Then he turned to Kurt in his powered white wig and silver dress and high heels that made Kurt almost Jeremiah's height and had kissed Kurt quickly before letting him go off with his team. Kurt had looked back but Jeremiah had encouraged him to go on and then he went to practice.

Kurt focused on cooking. His attention was needed if he was going to live up to all the praise everyone kept saying about his cooking and with different pans, a different heat source and different ingredients, he had to think fast and hard about what went the best together and how to cook it.

He presented it with a wince. "If it's not good, sorry, I've never cooked here before, all of it is new to me." He dished it up in equal shares and gave himself a plate too and everyone dug in and he watched. They all had looks of pleasure on their faces and ate it quickly, not wanting it to get cold and losing out on the amazing taste. They finished and were about to get up and go when Burt cleared his throat and nodded pointedly at Kurt.

"Eat up, son." Kurt looked down at his plate and realized he hadn't even touched it. He had been more interested in watching the others and now everyone's eyes were on him and it was hard to eat when he was the sole focus. "This time we're not going to let you chuff it off on to anyone else. Eat or no shopping trip."

Kurt picked at it slowly at first and after the first few bites, it tasted like ash in his mouth and wanted to spit it out. How could they all pretend it was as good as they did? No wonder they ate it quickly. He tried to eat it faster but it just rolled his stomach to think about putting it in his mouth. He slammed his fork down with a loud clank. "I can't, ok! It's disgusting, how can all of you just pretend to enjoy it so much?"

"Uh..." Carole looked down at all the plates that people had practically licked clean. "We really did enjoy it. If there had been more we probably would have gone back for second and thirds if possible."

"There is more." Kurt waved towards the kitchen and Finn jumped to his feet and brought in back to the table and gave himself another healthy dose and offered the pan to everyone else and they each took some more. It was a little easier to shovel the food into his mouth and swallow it down when they weren't watching him so closely but it still tasted like burnt out charcoal to him.

Burt finally let the others go to change and Finn wandered off to talk with Rachel who stayed in her pjs until Kurt could dictate what she should wear. Carole and Burt sat at the table and just watched Kurt struggle to each bite.

"Honey, let me see those pills you've been given." Carole finally said and Kurt located his bag by the front door, he hadn't put it there himself but he supposed Burt had been ready to shuffle him home and baby him for as long as he could get away with it. He pulled out the pills and handed them over. Carole worked in a medical care facility and while she didn't have a degree she was smart and picked it up quickly. She looked through the medications and at the ingredients and only a few had side effects on them. She sighed and put them down. "Part of your eating disorder isn't Jeremiah related." She said the name that no one else dared to say and she hadn't either until just then.

Kurt swallowed and looked at her, waiting for her to continue. "What does that mean?"

"Some of these meds- well this one turns off the hunger alert in your brain and this one, well it changes the way things taste and together it makes sense that you don't want to eat and when you do it's torture."

"But those help me sleep and-" Well, this one was supposed to help with his anxiety but it wasn't doing a very good job. He still had that in spades.

"It's just not the right chemical balance for you. We'll take this to the psychologist next time we go in and talk to them about alternatives." She frowned. "They should have been trying alternatives anyway, trying to ween you off."

"So, Kurt doesn't have an eating disorder?" Burt asked carefully looking over his son with a careful eye.

"Maybe?" Carole replied. "It does offer an explanation but he may still have problems with food if we switch medications. Before Jeremiah died, he was careful about what he ate too."

Kurt's mouth twitched with how much she said his name, it was like once she said it, a dam was burst and she just kept saying it. He didn't know how much he missed hearing his name from someone other than his subconscious.

"Thank you, Luc would have liked you talking about him, he would have hated to fade into obscurity."

"He would never!" Burt exclaimed surprised by the way Kurt thought about it. "We were just trying to be mindful of you and your feelings. Any mention of his name or even just a reference toward him or anything about him even if it wasn't about him would set you off. We were trying to help."

"I understand that and I think I needed that, but now that Carole has said his name, I think that's what I need now." Kurt would grin and bear it if it wasn't. Jeremiah deserved to be talked about and remembered. "It's ok if I cry." He said softly. "I need to."

"It's hard to watch you though, you feel it so deeply and it's scary, we fear that it's going to hurt you in the end." Rachel mentioned, she'd come back in when she heard Burt get louder and leaned against the doorway. "I keep thinking you'll make yourself sick with how you cry over L-" She hesitated and Kurt nodded for her to go ahead. "Jeremiah."

"It's just a senseless death." Kurt breathed deeply trying hard to hold onto his composure. "He had so much to live for, so much he had yet to do. The world is a poorer place without him in it."

"We all agree." Finn said carefully as he came to a stop behind Rachel and he wrapped his arms around her and it hurt to see a couple so in love right in front of him but he forced him to. "We all miss Oliver and he was way too young to die. We can't control our fates or understand exactly what another person was thinking when they did something. We have to learn to live with it because we'll never get our answers from them."

"It's an unresolved pain, an unresolved lesson, and there will never be real closure until that is accepted." Carole spoke and Kurt looked over to her, she'd gone through something similar.

"How long did it take you to get there?" Kurt asked and Carole shrugged.

"It's something I struggle with constantly but I have the benefit of knowing that he wasn't in a good place before it happened, I had warning signs but I also knew I had more to protect than him. I had thought he was getting the help he needed and was waiting for him to come back and show me how he'd improved."

Finn looked at the two of them, he hadn't heard that part before. "Who are you talking about?"

Burt saw that Carole wasn't ready to tell Finn and so he slid in with his own. "Even when you know it's coming, it's not easy. Your mother was strong and brave and beautiful until the end. Even on her death bed she was perfectly tailored and made up and she said she was going to be a beautiful corpse and look perfect. I never understood why that was so important for her until I saw you on her bed and crying into her pillow. She did it for herself yes, she had some vanity that I never fully appreciated other than I liked how she looked and who she was and how she acted, but she did it for you too, she didn't want you to be scared of her, knowing that you would want to be close at the end. She did it for everyone who had to see her."

Kurt's shoulders shuddered as he was reminded of his mother's death now too and that was a lot to take on along with Jeremiah's but he understood why his dad did it. He was pulling it all into perspective, just because you knew why a person did what they did, didn't mean you could understand it and Burt had asked Elizabeth about it and still didn't understand her answer until much later. Also for a young kid like Kurt had been at the age of 8, he had needed to be able to see his mother and not a stranger in that bed, so he could understand that she really was gone and then he could start healing.

Jeremiah had been cremated.

Kurt respected that decision but for Kurt it had been hard to reconcile his boyfriend in that tiny jar. He knew Jeremiah was dead, logic told him that but he had to see things with his own eyes to believe it.

He had collapsed at the funeral too, he hadn't been able to hold himself up under his own volition any more and Jeremiah's mother would never forgive him for that, thinking he was trying to grab at the spotlight, which was the furthest from the truth just then. He had wanted to run away, hide from the truth that Jeremiah was gone, he wanted to put his fingers in his ears and not listen to what people were saying. It wasn't true.

Jeremiah was most of Kurt's world and it was all caved in on him. He had to pick up the pieces and try to put it together again with duct tape and elbow grease and spit. It wasn't quite as big as it had been and there were pieces missing but it would have to do. This was his world now and he would have to learn to live with it.

The shopping trip was a success, all of the girls and Kurt came back with at least 3 new outfits. Kurt smiled but it was the fake smile again and on Monday he was back at the psychologist who adjusted his meds with an apology. They hadn't realized that Kurt had stopped eating as much, he hadn't shared that in counseling. He was getting through on memory alone and motions but at least he was getting through it. He didn't want his friends or family to worry about him and like Carole had advised, he agreed to every event they suggested and included him on.

She was right there though, they invited him more often than before now that he was saying yes.