Kurt is small, a little boy. He's nine, or ten.
Sometimes he forgets how being touched feels. He goes without it days on end, so he's got no real reason to remember.
And when he does remember, it's a crushing weight on his chest. It's horrible, and nauseating, and so much that he can feel the tears prickling and threatening to fall.
It's like he's got a disease, the way people avoid him.

(He doesn't cry, because he won't give them that satisfaction. That's his one little victory..

Bitter, small, frayed, but his.)

:::...:::

His father and Mercedes. Those are, for a long time, the only two people who ever put their hands on him. Mercedes kisses him, softly, and takes his hand, and hugs him, and caresses him.

Burt is different, he just lets his hand linger on Kurt's shoulder from time to time. For Kurt it's enough,

(Burt is not by any means the most affectionate man on the surface of the earth, but Kurt's his boy. And he'll be damned if his own upbringing keeps him from being the dad his kid needs.)

:::...:::

Then comes high school. And with high school, come two things:
a) Glee
b) Noah Puckerman

:::...:::

Meeting Rachel Berry is like being hit by an overachieving, extremely obnoxious tornado.

She's eager, and earnest, and has absolutely no fashion sense at all.

But when she hugs him tightly, all long and surprisingly strong limbs, and tells him pleased to meet you, Kurt, he can't really hate her.

(That doesn't stop him from mocking her horrible clothing choices all the time; because, please.)

:::...:::

Tina Cohen-Chang bites him.

No, really, she does.

Just, what?

(Tina smiles at him, and stutters hi and you look so soft and can i? And Kurt thinks she's going to touch him briefly, but she sinks her white and perfect teeth in his wrist, like it's the most normal thing in the world.)

:::...:::

Artie Abrams is the first boy that willingly talks to him on William McKinley, and for awhile, Kurt kind of crushes on him.

(Artie bumps fists with him, and high fives him, and, once, even offers to take him on a ride on his wheelchair. Kurt declines politely, but is so moved that his lip trembles a bit when he smiles to the other boy. Artie makes him feel normal.)

:::...:::

Noah Puckerman. Puck.

He is tall, broad, dark, and mean. And likes to throw him on dumpsters, push him into lockers, and try to give him swirlies.

He's a jerk.

(But still, he clasps his big hands on Kurt, and lets them linger. He holds him, and presses his calloused fingers to his skin, harsh and unafraid. And if Kurt were to be totally honest with himself, he would admit that it's better than anything else he ever got on middle school.)

:::...:::