AN: Welcome to Part III of the Conscience Verse. This is quickly growing more than I thought, as I already have Parts IV and V planned out. This particular story will be a two-shot, so keep your eyes open if you're following the Verse. Reading Nobody and Rejected before this will make more sense.

November twenty-ninth was a quiet day in the Hummel house, as usual. Kurt woke up early, did his morning routine, and sat down with his father for breakfast. Burt had a bowl of cereal and Kurt had a grapefruit. Both had coffee in front of them; one of the few things they had in common was their inability to function without it.

After breakfast, they parted; Kurt to school and Burt to his wife's grave before heading into the shop. Kurt would be quiet and withdrawn all day, and there would be a paleness to his face, a closed off look in his eyes. It would tell his friends he didn't want to talk, and they always respected it and kept their distance, despite not knowing why. He would stop to visit his mom after school and talk to her, sing to her, and catch up on his life without her; the one he never wanted.

As Kurt parked, he gave a cursory glance to check for jocks. On today of all days, he didn't want to have to pick garbage off his clothes. However, when he got out of the car, they seemed to materialize, one in front of him and one behind, and they led him to the dumpster. "Get off of me," Kurt snapped, unable to help himself. It was the anniversary of his mother's death for Christ's sake. Couldn't they leave him alone for just one day?

Apparently not, because his comment got him tossed up and over before he could blink or shove his bag at someone, and his head collided painfully with the side of the metal. He raised himself up slightly to peek over the edge, noting with surprise that Puck was not among the group of laughing jocks that walked away from him. Instead, Puck was in front of the side entrance, looking towards the dumpster. Kurt was too far away to see his expression, but he looked tense, and he was walking towards him.

He was feeling a little dizzy from the knock to the head he'd received, and he struggled as he tried to get out. Suddenly, there were tan, calloused hands on his wrists, pulling him up and over. As he stood in front of Puck, the jock frowned slightly. "What?" Kurt asked shortly, flicking a piece of lettuce off of his shoulder. "I need to get changed, and wash my hair before I'm late for homeroom."

"You're bleeding," Puck stated calmly, pressing a fingertip to the spot Kurt had whacked. "How hard did you land?"

"Hard enough to bleed, apparently," Kurt answered, flinching slightly, but the venom was gone from his voice, leaving only defeat. "I need to get cleaned up. Move."

Puck got out of his way, and Kurt carried on proudly, head high as always. Puck watched him go, wondering, not for the first time, just how Hummel got by.

Kurt somehow made it through the day. He was sure that Puck had...persuaded the jocks to leave him alone, but he didn't know why. He didn't really care, to be honest. In Glee, he sat by himself, practically catatonic. Puck had threatened anyone that attempted to talk to him with a slushie, including Mr. Schuester.

When Puck had looked up Grace Hummel's death, he'd found that today was the anniversary of when she'd finally succumbed to the cancer. The obituary had been brief but obviously heartfelt. After Glee, Puck sidled up to Kurt and shifted from foot to foot, unsure of how to word what he wanted to say without sounding crass.

"There's this jock going around threatening people that talk to me," Kurt muttered, the first sentence he'd said since that morning.

"Well, I bet I could take him," Puck announced, flashing his guns before he adopted a serious expression. "Have you been to see her yet?"

Kurt shook his head. "No."

"Do you want me to come with you?"

"Stop being so overly nice, Noah. It's kind of creepy. I forgive you, okay? You didn't know," Kurt snapped, standing and making to push his way past the jock. Puck grabbed his wrist.

"I don't do things to be nice, Hummel. I do them because I want to. I know what it's like to lose a parent. Not the way you have, but I've lost my dad, a long time ago. So I know how you feel." With that, he released Kurt's wrist and made his way to the choir room door, hoping against hope.

"Noah. Wait," the small voice came from behind him, and he turned, raising an eyebrow. "Come with me."