"Kurt? Sweetie, you have to wake up."
Carole's voice breaks through the haze of sleep that has fallen over him, and Kurt can barely manage to open his eyes. He is sinking back down into the abyss of sleep even as his mind catches on and momentarily contemplates why Carole would sound so worried. Urgent. His mind slips away with little more than a quick thought - he's so tired.
When a set of hands, large and familiar, grab him and pull him upward to lean against a warm, solid body, Kurt opens his eyes reluctantly. The light of the room is dim, but he can see Carole crouching before him, her pyjamas wrinkled and face creased from sleep.
"Hey," says Carole, her face close to his. "I need you to tell me how many you took."
Kurt's brows pull together in confusion as he tries to remember what he would have taken, what Carole is asking about. Everything seems muddled, like he's scraping through a thick fog that has choked out any semblance of a clear mind.
"What?" he asks, blinking blearily. His limbs are heavy and limp, and every breath is oddly difficult to take, like something heavy is sitting on his chest.
"Kurt," Carole says, her voice insistent but soft, "focus, honey. I need to know how many you took." She holds up a little pill container, its familiar peeling label pinched under her fingers. Seeing it in her hand, seeing what he has kept hidden for so long exposed like this, sends a shock of recognition through Kurt.
Crunching his brows together in concentration, Kurt licks his lips slowly. Short flashes of memory are playing in his mind, but it all seems so far away, so out of his reach, that it is hard to think. "Five?" he guesses and looks down at the duvet partially covering his legs, trying to remember. "No, no – seven. There – I took seven." Sniffing lightly and closing his eyes as exhaustion pulls at his lids, Kurt mumbles, "Only seven."
It was only seven. Not enough to do much – not enough to do anything permanent.
"You feeling tired, Kurt?"
Kurt nods lethargically in answer to Carole's question, and sags fully into the warm body propping him up, allowing sleep to drag him under once again.
Kurt jerks awake what feels like a split second later to the sensation of his shoulders being gently shaken, big fingers gripping at his muscles in little points of pressure. He cracks his eyes open and sees his dad standing over him, and the loss of him at his side leaves him cold and wanting to curl under his duvet more fully.
"Is this all?" His dad is holding up a pill bottle and looking intently at Kurt. "Kurt, answer me. Are these the only ones?" There is something in his voice, a tension that Kurt can't quite place, can't compare to anything else he has ever heard from the man.
Kurt pauses for a minute, unsure of what to do, and starts to shake his head. Halfway through the motion, however, he changes it to a nod. "Yes."
His dad is looking at him like he knows something isn't right, like he can tell that Kurt is lying, but Kurt doesn't want him to know. If Kurt shows him the other bottle he'll know how long he's been planning this, how much research he has done into how it would work.
"Are you sure?" his dad asks, eyebrows raised.
"Yes." He makes his eyes meet his dad's, keeps his gaze steady, unwavering. He doesn't know when he became so good at lying, but it isn't something he's proud of. Especially right now.
His father nods and walks to his little bathroom, flicking on the light as he enters. When he's out of view, Kurt hears the hollow 'pop' of the pill container coming open and then little tinkling splashes as his dad dumps the pills down the toilet.
Hearing the sound of the flushing toilet, Kurt reaches down, hand skimming over the material of his hoodie until he reaches into the pocket. As his hand clasps around the container there, a sense of guilt-laced relief overtakes him.
He regrets lying to his dad, but he doesn't regret keeping this to himself. It is almost a grounding stone of sorts, something that he can think about when it all gets to be too much. He's done that for months, thought about his little bottles of pills and built up a kind of reverence for them, taken them out and just held them when things got bad. He honestly cannot remember how many times he has just sat, crying and feeling like the world was falling in around him, with his little bottles clutched in his hands thinking "maybe tonight."
Hearing his dad flick the bathroom light off, Kurt lets go of the bottle, letting his fingers drag almost longingly over the warmed plastic, and wraps one arm around his waist, just so he can feel the shape of the bottle as it digs into his stomach and forearm.
His dad sits down on the edge of his bed, shifting him so that Kurt is leaning against his side once again.
Absently noting that his dad seems to be trying as hard as he can to be close to him, Kurt falls into a place halfway between sleep and wakefulness. The world is dim around him, consisting of the darkness behind his lids and the occasional sound from outside. He has been drifting for a short time when Carole starts to speak, and Kurt wonders when she had returned. Or when she had left in the first place.
"He doesn't need medical assistance, not for the amount he took. But…" Her voice is a whisper, ghosting into Kurt's mind smoothly.
His dad shifts under him with a sigh, bringing a hand up to thread through Kurt's hair. "But he's obviously not okay."
"You need to make a decision. We can take him in and they'll probably put him in 72 hour observation. Or, well, or you can wait it out, make sure he's not alone, talk to him." Carole leaves the end of her sentence open.
"But – what if he tries again." The statement, the fear in his father's tone, focuses Kurt's mind from its pointless drifting. "Damn it, Carole, he's always been so strong. Even before he had his growth spurt, and he was just so tiny, you could practically see the strength oozing off of him."
Kurt wants to scoff here, tell his dad just how strong he really is, but he stays silent.
"He-he's my son, and I never saw this coming. I don't know what to do here, Carole."
Kurt hears Carole shift, moving closer to his dad. "Burt, honey, Kurt's really good at hiding the important things, the things he doesn't want anyone to know. And now that he's at Dalton it's even harder to get a handle on how he's doing. You couldn't have known."
She's right, Kurt knows, because he has always tried to hide the bad things from his dad. He can't recall exactly when he started, he thinks it might have been just after his mom died, but when things were bad at school or when something got him down, he tried to keep it to himself. He has always felt a need to protect his dad from, well, from him.
It's not his dad's fault that his son is like this; his father never asked for the harassment and the hate-driven actions of the world. His dad has always supported him, always made sure that Kurt knew he was loved for who he was, and Kurt feels like he owes his dad so much for that.
The familiar feeling of melancholy settled firmly in him, Kurt lets himself drift.
Some time later, Kurt can't tell how long, he is falling asleep, so exhausted and devastatingly tired that his head lolls onto his father's shoulder and his eyes slide shut. When he jerks awake a few seconds later he doesn't immediately know what woke him, but as his mind clears he realizes that the warm shoulder beneath his head is shaking with repressed sobs. There is the sound of choked back crying from just above, and Kurt registers with shock that it is his dad.
"Dad?" he asks, trying to sit up and look at the man. "Dad, are you okay?"
Burt sobs a little harder, closing his eyes and bringing one hand up to cover his face. He doesn't react to Kurt's question, and Kurt doesn't know what to do, doesn't know how to make this right. All he knows is that this is his fault.
"I'm sorry," he says, leaning into his dad's shoulder again. "I'm so sorry."
He doesn't know what he's apologising for, not really. Because as much as he wishes it could be about having done this at all, there is an underlying feeling, a truth really, that he's sorry he never finished what he started.
But he also thinks that he is apologising for everything – every little thing that he has ever done to cause his dad pain. To make his life harder than it would have been if he had never existed.
The sound and feel of his father falling apart all around him, Kurt closes his eyes again and waits for sleep to take him. Anything would be better than being coherent right now – anything would be better than having to know how badly he has hurt his dad.
It won't come, though, not this time. Kurt is caught, trapped by his inability to do anything, and brimming with undercurrents of so much agony that he is sure if he were fully coherent right now, he would be driven insane by it.
At a loss of what to do, Kurt squeezes his fists into tight balls, allowing his nails to bite into the tender flesh of his palms. The pain flows through him, barely even registering in comparison to the emotional turmoil that is roiling under the false calm, and he wishes he had the strength to squeeze harder. Maybe then it would be enough.
Kurt keeps his eyes closed as his dad's sobs taper off, leaving his father silent and Kurt feeling even emptier than before. You would think that the loneliness would have abated now that someone is here with him, now that he isn't doing this alone, but it hasn't. In some ways it has actually gotten worse.
He doesn't want to give his dad any signal that he was wholly awake through that, a moment that was so personal and unlike his father. He also doesn't want to open his eyes and see the confusion and disappointment in his dad's eyes, see the anger. Because he knows that his dad will be at a loss at how to deal with this, that he won't understand how Kurt feels all of the time. How he just isn't strong enough to feel good.
Pain pierces his chest because he knows that this is his fault; all of this trouble he is causing the people he loves is because he isn't strong enough. No matter how hard he tries to crawl from the pit of despair that he's fallen into, he can't. But he should be able to.
His dad has always praised him for how strong he is, how much like his mother he is. But he isn't. He could never measure up to the high pedestal he has been placed on.
It kills him that he will have to shatter the illusion his father has built of him. Show all of the ugly under his mask.
Because he's not good enough, and he never will be.
Kurt feels the familiar misery swirling in him, its icy fingers digging in and refusing to let go. Filled with loss, Kurt barely reacts when his father suddenly begins to speak.
"Why would you even think that was an option, kid?" His dad's voice is filled with pain and confusion and anger.
Kurt doesn't answer, instead cracking his eyes open and staring at his bedding, mapping the wrinkles as though to memorize them. One of his pillows is still laying part-way down his bed, covering the pills he'd dropped; he hopes his dad won't see them. They are just another reminder of how weak he is, how he couldn't even do that right.
"You should have come to me."
His dad's right. If he was stronger, if he was more like his mom, who was amazing, he would have. But instead he did this. Kurt didn't think he could have felt any worse than he had last night, but this is worse. Even through the calm and drowsiness afforded him by the pills – this is worse.
Knowing, rather than just thinking, that his dad is disappointed in him, makes him feel small and pathetic. Useless. His dad, the rest of his family, his friends, they deserve so much more than him. Someone who is strong enough to stand up to their problems instead of ending up like him.
"I love you so much, Kurt. And maybe we don't see eye-to-eye on everything, but buddy, you have to know that I'd do anything for you. That you can come to me for any reason."
His dad is quiet for a few minutes, and Kurt can feel him hitching with silent tears, every jerk of his chest flowing into Kurt and battering his heart. His father should never have to suffer like this, especially not because of him.
"I will always love you, no matter what. I hope you know that."
Kurt lets out a little whoosh of air, remembering all of the times that his dad has said something similar. The man has always made sure that he knew he was loved, and Kurt is so lucky to have that with him at all times.
After a moment where the air is filled with a pregnant silence, Kurt shifts slightly against his dad and mutters, "I know."
"How long have you been feeling like this, Kurt?"
Kurt bites his bottom lip, the soft flesh denting easily under the force of his teeth, and tries to reign in his tears. Taking a calming breath, but still stumbling over his words, Kurt says, "I'm sorry, dad. I tried so hard – I just – I didn't know what to do. And it wouldn't go away."
"Aw, buddy," his dad sighs, wrapping an arm tightly around his shoulders to pull him in even closer.
Sniffling and shifting so that he can lean his head against his dad's chest, Kurt closes his eyes and listens for the 'lub dub' of his father's heart.
"You know – just before she got pregnant with you, your mom had some difficulties. She stopped being interested in all of the things she loved, she – she lost her spark, you know?"
Surprise fills Kurt as his dad speaks, the words running through him like a shock of electricity.
"Back then I didn't know what to do – when I was growing up and someone was down in the dumps we told them to buck up, get over it. It was the way I grew up, the way a lot of people did. Do.
"Your mom and I, especially me, didn't know what to do. Didn't understand what was happening. We never told you, or really spoke of it afterwards, but it almost broke us, you know? There were a few times that – well, that we were this close to splitting."
Kurt's heart starts a fast staccato in his chest as the implications run through him. He never knew – never even suspected – that his parents had problems that large. His mom and dad had always seemed so happy, so perfect together.
"But we fought for it, what we had, and I will never regret that. I loved – love – her so much, Kurt."
Kurt leans into the hand his dad brings up to run over his forehead, brushing the disarrayed hair of his fringe to the side. The touch is comforting and familiar, making Kurt ache as though raw and exposed.
"I learned something important, Kurt, something that I never taught you because I always thought you knew." Burt reaches his hand over and puts his fingers under Kurt's chin, lifting his head up so that they are making eye contact. "Sometimes you can't get along alone – sometimes you need to lean on the people you love and let them help you." His dad pauses here, and then continues with such sincerity in his voice that it is almost a physical blow. "That isn't a weakness, Kurt."
Eyes caught and held by his father's, Kurt sees only honesty and sadness.
"Maybe I wouldn't have understood what you are going through, Kurt, but I would have tried. And I do understand that sometimes, these things happen."
A tear slips from Kurt's right eye, splashing down on his dad's hand.
"I'm here for you, buddy. So many people love and care for you, and we won't leave you alone, okay?"
Keeping contact for a brief moment longer, Kurt nods even as more tears build and slide down his cheeks. A sob rises and hitches in his chest as his dad pulls his hand out from under his chin to wipe some of the tears away before shifting slightly to wrap Kurt into a full hug.
"We're going to get you some help. We'll figure this out. Together."
When he pulls back, Kurt relaxes back into his old position leaning into his dad's side. As he moves he hears the near-silent tinkling of small pills shifting as the bottle in his pocket moves with him. Biting his lip again, he darts his eyes toward his dad.
His dad looks down at him, eyes bloodshot and shining with sorrow and exhaustion, and hums in question.
"I lied." Kurt feels apprehension rise in him, causing his hand to shake as he reaches into his hoodie and wraps his fingers around the bottle resting there. "I – there's more." He brings his hand out of the covers and hesitantly offers the second pill bottle to his father. "That's all of them."
Reaching out slowly to take the bottle from Kurt's hand, Burt nods tersely and clutches the small container tight in his fist. As he pockets the pills, his eyes squeeze shut and press out more tears. "Thank you, Kurt."
Kurt nods, head pressed into his dad's shoulder, and sits in silence with his father.
Some time later, having lost track of how many times he has fallen in and out of sleep, Kurt wakes up alone. The covers around him are warm, but there is no comforting presence next to him, and for a moment he feels all of the loneliness that had slightly abated return.
Lifting his torso from the bed, the duvet slipping from his shoulders to pool at his waist, Kurt scans the room. He almost sighs in relief when his eyes find Finn sitting with his head hung low and shoulders slumped, and then lays back down as his arms protest holding his weight. The noise of him falling back to the bed is loud enough that Finn looks up suddenly, his back going straight as though at attention.
"Hey," Finn says softly, standing and moving the chair closer to Kurt's bed. He sits down, posture awkward and unsure.
Kurt dips his head in acknowledgement, but doesn't speak. Instead, he turns his attention to the small rectangular window that faces the back side of their house; the pane of glass has begun to light up with a blue-grey hue signifying the impending rising of the sun.
That means that it is almost 7:30, an hour after he would usually wake up to get ready for school.
"Mom and Burt are upstairs," Finn says, and Kurt watches as he fists the material of his pyjamas and then lets go, smoothing the wrinkled material with his palms. "Blaine's here."
Something surges in Kurt's chest as he remembers hitting 'call' on his cell, sobbing madly into the phone as he curled on his bed. Blaine's voice had been so worried, so reassuring. In some ways he is glad he called his friend, in others he wishes he had never crept back into his bed and read the texts.
Kurt directs his attention at his stepbrother when he shifts in the chair. The other boy looks like he wants to say something, but doesn't know how.
"I don't understand." Finn is looking at him with such broken-hearted confusion that Kurt wants to offer to make him warm milk and scream at him at the same time. "I thought you were okay now."
A spark of anger ignites in Kurt, but it doesn't do more than make its presence known before extinguishing, suffocated by the weight of Kurt's exhaustion. "Finn," Kurt starts, but he can't think of anything to say.
"It's just - I thought going to Dalton would make you happy."
Kurt opens his mouth, but there is nothing he can say, nothing that he particularly wants to say, that could make Finn understand. He doesn't completely understand it himself.
He can't remember when he started to feel so horrible all of the time. Some time between the increasing locker slams and his father's heart attack, maybe when he realized how alone he is. Or maybe it has been building forever, until it finally lead him to where he is now. It doesn't really matter.
What is important is that once it was there, once it had a hold of him, it never went away. Instead it built up inside of him, growing like a cancer to infest every part of him; it has eaten at his mind and body, its ravishing hunger devouring any scrape of happiness.
All of the little things, the daily jeers of his peers, the cruelty of society, they stopped bouncing off. Now they pierce his skin and dig inside, festering and irritating.
Kurt used to think that once he got through high school and out of Lima everything would be okay – he would move to New York and live among people who could accept him. But he doesn't think that way any more. No, this is going to follow him everywhere he goes, and for the rest of his life he will have to deal with the small-minded people of the world. He will never get his happily ever after.
Finn is still staring at him imploringly, waiting for Kurt to explain.
Biting the inside of his mouth and keeping silent, Kurt rolls to face the other direction, away from Finn. It is childish, immature, but he doesn't want to talk to his stepbrother. Not right now, and maybe never.
When Kurt wakes this time there are soft voices that can barely be made out drifting down the stairs, just loud enough to be heard, but not understood. His pillow is soft beneath his head and the duvet that he's relied on for warmth in his cool basement room is tucked around him snugly. He's curled on his right side, one arm tucked under his pillow, the other pulled up to his chest.
Kurt's eyes fly open, locking onto Blaine's, who is sitting beside his bed in the chair Finn had moved there. His friend's clothes are rumpled and untucked, his normally well-gelled hair loose and curly, and his eyes red from either exhaustion or crying. Kurt doesn't want to think about the latter.
"Hi," he says even as slight discomfort sweeps over him.
Blaine stands from the chair and moves closer, coming to sit on the edge of his bed so that he can wipe a lock of hair from Kurt's forehead. The action is intimate in a way that Kurt has never experienced outside of his family, and he wonders what it means that Blaine feels comfortable doing it.
Hearing Blaine's voice now, the words so close to him, takes him back a few hours to where he was curled under his duvet, his cell phone held tightly to his ear, wishing that Blaine was there with him instead of just the sound of him through the phone.
"I'm really glad you called me Kurt. You know you can do that any time you need to, right? That I meant it when I said I would be there for you?"
Blaine's eyes are wide, their colour dulled by the lack of light shining into them, but still sincere. "I will always listen if you need to talk."
He wants to talk to Blaine, tell him everything about what he is feeling. He has kept it to himself for so long, and it has been weighing on him. Licking his lips nervously, Kurt says,"I can't remember what it's like."
Blaine squeezes Kurt's upper arm gently and asks, "What?"
"Being – I just." Kurt huffs out a breath and turns to face away from Blaine, wrapping his arms around his middle. The truth is at the tip of his tongue, and he wants to say it, but there is something holding him back, something that is part embarrassment and part shame.
"Hey," Blaine says, and the bed under Kurt shifts with the other boys' movements. "Don't shut me out."
Kurt freezes when Blaine moves in close, lying down on the bed behind him, over the covers but close.
"What can't you remember?" Blaine's breath brushes over the back of Kurt's neck when he speaks, and Kurt pushes back a little, feeling Blaine's chest against his back.
Kurt stares at his hands, taking in the long pale digits and well-kept cuticles. "Being happy. How it was – before." Kurt closes his eyes and presses his head into his pillow. "I'm scared. Tired. Of feeling this way and not knowing if I'll ever feel good again."
"Kurt," Blaine starts, his mouth close to Kurt's ear, "why didn't you tell me – tell anyone – that you were feeling like this?"
Kurt doesn't have an answer, not one that is definite or singular, to encompass all of the reasons, those fully conceived or otherwise, as to why he didn't. How do you tell someone that you thought they wouldn't believe you, that you thought they would think you were looking for attention. How do you tell someone who you care for that you didn't trust them to be able to help?
Kurt wanted to tell someone, wanted to climb the stairs to where his father would be sitting and watching TV, and just curl up next to him and let the words flow out. But there was always a fear, and Kurt doesn't know if it was all in his head, that he was causing this, that no one could help because this was all his fault. And anyone he told would think that, too.
"Kurt?" Blaine prompts. He sounds so worried, so invested in anything Kurt will say. Just hearing that in his voice is enough that Kurt tries to find the words.
"I didn't know how to say it," Kurt explains with a slight shrug. "And – it's just – I thought that people wouldn't believe me. That they would tell me to get over it." Kurt glances over his shoulder and meets Blaine's eyes. "But I couldn't. I tried so hard to make it go away, but it just got worse. I didn't know what to do."
Blaine takes in a sharp gasp, quiet but hurt, like Kurt had said something so painful he felt it physically. He then shifts in closer and wraps an arm around Kurt, holding him in a pseudo-hug that wraps Kurt even more tightly into the duvet.
If any one else were to hold him like this he would probably feel uncomfortable with the closeness, but it's Blaine. He couldn't really explain it, especially because they've only known each other for a couple of months, but Blaine is easy to be around.
"When you called me – when you told me that you had taken something – I felt my heart stop." Blaine says suddenly, arm tightening a bit.
Kurt wants to pull away from Blaine when he says this, wants to cover his ears and muffle out the confession.
"I was so scared, Kurt. I thought that I would be too late, or Finn wouldn't get my messages. I thought that maybe it was already too late, that I should have called an ambulance the second you told me."
"I'm sorry," Kurt whispers.
Blaine lets out a little breath of frustration and shakes his head, his hair brushing over Kurt's shoulder at the movement. "Don't be sorry, Kurt. I was so worried about you – you're my best friend. But don't be sorry for calling me."
They lie in silence for a time, Kurt's mind churning over everything that has and hasn't been said.
"I don't want to die." Kurt absently rubs his fingers over the smooth expanse of material beneath him, the cool cloth shifting with the weight of his hand. "Not really."
Blaine doesn't move, doesn't say anything, remaining as a solid presence at Kurt's back. Kurt knows that he is almost as lost as Kurt is, maybe even more so, but he has this air to him, this presence, that is comforting, steadying, to Kurt.
"I just – I don't want to live another day feeling like this. So wrong, so horrible." Kurt's mouth pulls down in a cringe as he stops moving his hand and sniffs. "I'm tired, Blaine."
Blaine is silent for a couple of seconds, and Kurt can imagine that his face pulled into an expression of sorrow.
"You'll get through this," Blaine says eventually. He sounds sure, like he knows it to be true. "You've got your family and friends. You've got me. You're not alone."
The declaration makes Kurt want to cry. Only hours ago he had told Blaine that he felt alone, and he still does, but he thinks that maybe sometime soon he will be able to believe that he isn't.
Blaine doesn't say anything in response, but the way he squeezes Kurt just a little bit more firmly is answer enough.
Mid-morning sunshine is pouring in through his basement window, painting his walls bright and yellow. Kurt shifts so that he has an arm under his pillow, propping his head up so that he can watch the play of light across the grey expanses.
With the darkness gone and the companionable silence between him and Blaine, the sound of his family talking in the kitchen above, the panic and desperate ache of loneliness has lessened, but not abated. He wonders how much of what he is feeling is because of the drugs, how much is because he knows how much support he has.
The dull weight of sadness still fills him, but the overwhelming sense of despondency, of having no other way out, has been replaced with something else. Something that lets his mind travel in a direction he never let it before: toward the possibility of getting help. Of someday not feeling like he would rather die than live another moment with the constant desolation.
A/N: There are two cut scenes and additional author's notes at my journal for anyone who is interested :) I also appreciate any kind of feedback, whether you liked it or maybe thought it wasn't so good (although constructive criticism is always better). Thanks for reading 3