As Kurt slept nestled against Santana, both of whom were being watched over by Finn, the adults spent what little remained of the night wide awake, making plans.
Carole felt particularly useless. Not only had she yet to begin truly understanding what Kurt was experiencing, but she had been so unprepared for this series of revelations that she had little to offer, except as a sounding board. There was also the fact that Kurt had been so stunned...and displeased...to hear that she was his stepmother, that she didn't feel right contributing ideas for his treatment.
Now that she thought about it, she wondered why Kurt, or the person she had thought was Kurt, had accepted her so easily. Given that Kurt and Burt were as close as they were...
She blinked. Or was that merely another illusion which had been shattered tonight? Were Burt and Kurt as close as she had believed them to be? How could that be possible when Burt had not even suspected that some other person had been masquerading as his son for the past three years?
The look of betrayal on Kurt's face had shredded her soul to pieces. She could only imagine what it must have been like for him, to wake up after three years believing that no time had passed, only to discover that he'd effectively been replaced by some foreign entity, but that life had gone on as usual. His father hadn't realized the difference, nor had his best friend, and his mother's house had been invaded by another woman and her son.
It was simply too much for her to wrap her head around. Theoretically, she could at least understand the impetus, of enduring something so horrible, so violating, that your mind refused to admit it had occurred at all, literally peeling away pieces of your identity to cope in the aftermath. The process, however, was something she couldn't being to contemplate.
It was all so extreme, so horrifyingly fascinating, and she was ashamed by the sense of intrigue she was experiencing. There was just so much she didn't understand, and even more that she didn't know.
Lydia had apparently integrated Kurt four years ago at Burt's insistence, despite her own misgivings. This had been done on the assumption that it was the death of Suzanne which had been the genesis of the split. Carole supposed it made sense after a fashion; after all, her loss had been the singular fundamental event of young Kurt's life, at least as far as Burt and Lydia were aware.
Obviously, that was not the case, as the integration had failed. Now they were once again stumbling around in darkness, with nothing more than conjecture and fear to guide them. What had happened to Kurt that caused him to shatter into at least two other pieces?
No one had answers, not even Kurt himself.
In a very real way, Carole was grateful for that, that he couldn't remember, though she knew it was selfish and doing him no favors. However, if the split had been caused by what Lydia was now postulating, would Kurt truly be any better off remembering?
She couldn't imagine it. She didn't even want to. The very idea that Kurt had been so abused, had probably been raped, was anathema to her. All she could think about was how she would feel were Finn in Kurt's position, and she was enraged.
Not that she wasn't furious on Kurt's behalf, of course - she was - but the fact of the matter remained that, until this night, she had never met Kurt. She had been loving and living with someone who technically didn't exist outside of the confines of Kurt's own mind.
It was agony. She was bereft that the boy she had come to consider as her own was, in fact, not her stepson at all.
Yet she still loved him, whoever he was, this nameless construct who had planned her wedding and took her shopping and helped her in the kitchen and around the house. What was she to do with those feelings? Was she supposed to deny them, pretend she felt nothing for the creature who had worn Kurt's skin and passed himself off as Burt's son?
She could now understand all too well why Burt's initial response to Dylan had been to love him as another aspect of Kurt himself.
But it wasn't Kurt. She had to keep telling herself that over and over again.
It didn't help.
If she couldn't understand all of this, how in the world was she going to explain it to Finn? Her son adored Kurt, or the person whom they'd believed Kurt to be. After a very rocky start and putting Kurt's former crush behind them, Finn and Kurt had fallen in love with the idea that they were brothers. In fact, they were far closer than most blood siblings Carole knew.
But, again, that person had not been Kurt, and it was apparent that Kurt had no interest in a new stepmother and stepbrother, no matter how much they loved him. Or the person they thought had been him.
She had a such a migraine.
She turned back into the conversation before her, which had taken a rather violent turn, given how Burt was now spitting his words like a threatened rattlesnake.
"That is never going to happen," he hissed.
Lydia sighed. "Burt, you're being unreasonable. I understand that you're confused and upset, that you don't want to be separated from him, but you have to think about what's best for Kurt. He needs treatment, and not merely on an outpatient basis."
"You want to commit him," Carole said dully.
"There is no other viable alternative," Lydia insisted. She looked back at Burt. "You remember what happened the last time Dylan was out. This is even worse. Kurt is not going to be able to cope with all of this, and certainly not here. He needs to be monitored, and, frankly, he requires observation."
"He's not going to hurt himself," Burt grunted, rolling his neck, recognizing the possibility which existed and furious with her for forcing him to consider it.
"I didn't say that he would," Lydia said sharply. "Please stop putting words in my mouth."
She closed her eyes briefly and, when they reopened, they were bloodshot and resigned.
"The last time Dylan was out, he stayed out for six months. He was out for three of them before we were even sure of what was going on. You're aware that, while he has total recall of everything Kurt knows, Kurt retains no knowledge of what Dylan has learned while in control of the body. It took Kurt months of constant study to catch up with his schoolwork."
"But he did!" Burt roared.
"That's not the point!" Lydia barked back. "It's been three years, Burt, and we're not just talking about schoolwork here, but let's think about that for a minute. You need to stop and consider that Kurt has no memory of his past three years of schooling. What is it that you propose he do? Just drop in at McKinley tomorrow and hope that he manages to remain himself for the day? Because I can almost guarantee that will not happen, and the more Kurt is stressed, the more likely it is that it will be Dylan who will emerge."
His mouth fell open, but he made no sound.
She nodded once, swiftly. "As Finn pointed out, there has to be a reason this other alter relinquished control of the body to Kurt. Whatever that reason is, it hasn't been resolved, otherwise the alter would have reasserted itself. It's apparent that he's much stronger than Kurt or Dylan, if he could bury them so completely for so long a time."
She rolled her neck. "And there are other things to take into account. There are now two additional people, whom Kurt does not know, living in his house. One of them is sharing his bedroom. Eventually, he's going to ask Santana why she didn't realize he wasn't himself, and she'll be forced to tell him that they're no longer friends. His sense of abandonment will only increase."
She covered Burt's hand with her own. "He can't go on as if his entire life hasn't changed. He's older, Burt. He looks different. How do you think he'll react the first time he sees himself in a mirror? He's grown half a foot and lost at least twenty pounds. He can't walk into that school as though it's just another day. He doesn't know who his teachers are. He won't be able to pass any exams given to him or explain his homework. He won't even be able to follow the lectures! And how do you suppose he'll get there? He doesn't know how to drive."
Burt hung his head.
"It's too soon to start thinking about the big picture," she said more sedately. "We can't even consider integration yet, because there's far too much we don't know. What would you have him do? Sit here, day after day, in a house which he no longer recognizes, with people whom he doesn't know? What's waiting for him at school? Failure, and friends who won't understand what's happening to him. Besides, are they his friends? He won't know their names. He won't even recognize them, with the exception of Santana and Matthew, and Matt is gone."
"Matt?" Carole asked. "Matt Rutherford? I never knew they even knew each other, let alone were close."
"Not now," Burt said, sighing and running a hand down his face, "but they were. They were as close as Santana and Kurt were." He shook his head. "I should've known that something was wrong when Kurt separated himself from them."
"How?" Lydia demanded. "As far as Kurt was concerned, he was integrated. Yes, the fact that he severed their ties was surprising, but not completely shocking. They know what he went through. They know Dylan. Kurt thought McKinley would be a new start for him, and he didn't want to be bogged down by his past. He did it as much as for them as he did for himself." She paused. "That is, if he did it at all. It was most likely the other alter, distancing himself from Santana and Matt so they wouldn't recognize it was happening again."
"You can't be so hard on yourself, Burt," she said quietly. "There's no logical reason you should have known. Most likely, this personality has been there from the beginning, watching and studying Kurt, waiting for his or her opportunity to come out. When they saw it, they seized it."
"Her?" asked a startled Carole.
Lydia nodded. "Alters aren't confined by gender. It's possible for the waking self to have alters of the opposite sex. Alters have different intelligence and emotional quotients, different handwritings, different language capabilities and reading comprehension, and differing views on everything from family to religion to hobbies. They can be different ages, look completely opposite from the walking self, and have different sets of memories, even for the same event."
"PET scans performed on people suffering from DID who transitioned while being studied show that alters use entirely different neural pathways from the waking self. This alter, whoever it is, could be anyone or anything."
"But what does it want?" Burt sighed.
Lydia was silent for a long moment. "Can you think of any reason whatsoever why this alter would be actively trying to hurt Kurt?" she finally asked. "Has it done anything to harm him?"
Burt frowned and, the more he considered the question, the less sure of everything he became. "Not really," he eventually answered. "Whoever it is, they get good grades, help around the house and the shop..." he trailed off, wringing his hands. "I'm closer to Kurt now than I ever have been," he softly admitted. "This alter, whoever it is, came out to me. He took care of me after the heart attack." He sighed. "Kurt won't remember any of that."
"Perhaps him not remembering the heart attack will be a blessing," Lydia murmured. "I can't even imagine how he will react to the news that he was almost an orphan." She shook her head sadly and then cleared her throat. "As for coming out, that's something we should tackle, making sure that Kurt understands you accepted this alter's sexuality." She arched a brow. "You did, yes?"
Burt fidgeted. "It hasn't been easy, but I've tried my best." He looked away. "I've not...always supported him the way I should have, I know. I've said some stuff..."
Lydia nodded. "Understood." She flashed him a pained smile. "I've been dealing with that myself. It's not easy. It should be. As their parents, we want them to be happy, but it's just not something we expected for them, and we've seen how the world will treat our children."
He stared at her. "Santana?"
She nodded. "She was dating Brittany Pierce for two years, even though Santana continued to have sex with boys."
He blinked. "Brittany? The dizzy blond?"
Lydia scowled. "Brittany is a sweet girl."
"I know that!" he said vehemently. "She's one of...his...best friends."
Her eyes filled. "Then this will devastate her. She won't understand, not easily." She sighed. "Or maybe she will. I don't know." She shrugged. "Brittany is surprisingly brilliant with regard to some things."
Burt shook his head, still lost. "He won't know any of them. Mercedes, Artie, Tina, Brittany." He wiped his face with a hand. "His best friends, and he won't know them. They won't understand. They won't accept it. Even if they don't blame him, they will at first."
Lydia nodded patiently. "Which is another reason he shouldn't return to McKinley. The last thing he needs is to be reminded constantly that someone else was living his life. They'll try to cajole him into remembering them, not realizing that not only is he unable to access those memories, but that they don't truly belong to him. Without meaning to, they will pressure him, and Kurt will buckle under the strain."
She paused. "Burt, you and I both know that Kurt's grip on reality is tenuous at best, and we can be sure that Dylan is looking for any opening to come out. We have no idea what would happen were that to occur. We can't allow him to repeat his past actions."
They exchanged grim looks.
"Which was what?" Carole asked softly. "I've tried to accept this on faith and what I've personally observed, but you have to concede all of this is somewhat fantastic. Intellectually, I understand why this Dylan is a threat, as he can literally hold Kurt hostage in his own mind, but what is that Dylan wants?"
Burt and Lydia looked at each other again, and Lydia slowly nodded.
"You should tell her," Lydia advised. "She's a part of this now, Burt. She has a right to know what to expect."
"Fuck," Burt whispered, closing his eyes.
Carole watched, breath hitched, as she watched her husband mentally prepare himself to discuss things she knew he would rather not. It was a look with which she was well acquainted. Burt often ignored situations he wished to avoid, often to the detriment of both himself and Kurt.
Burt swallowed heavily. "You remember when I told you that, at first, I thought of Dylan as an extension of Kurt?"
He averted his eyes. "When I found out what he was doing, I no longer could."
Carole waited, knowing if she demanded clarification, Burt would simply shut himself off from her.
It was several minutes later when Burt was ready to continue.
Finally, he cleared his throat. "Kurt is a virgin. I don't know about the new personality, and I'm not sure I particularly want to know, but Dylan definitely is not."
Her face paled.
Burt gnashed his teeth. "Dylan was...he...he slept around a lot, Carole."
Carole blinked slowly, unable to assimilate this revelation.
"He had many...partners," Burt continued, voice shaking with rage and pain. "Most of them were older than me."
She shook her head dumbly. "I don't...I can't...what?" She blinked harshly. "But...but he would have been..."
"Twelve," Lydia softly confirmed. "Dylan was twelve and having sex with men older than Burt."
Carole closed her eyes and tried in vain to will away the images that had come unbidden into her mind. She failed, tears streaming down her face as her stomach heaved. "Kurt doesn't know?" she whispered.
"No," Burt said roughly, eyes raised to the ceiling, "which is probably why the integration failed."
Lydia nodded. "There's too much we don't know about what happened to make Kurt shatter, and we withheld a lot from him during his therapy." She sighed. "You have to understand, Carole, that, though we had the best intentions, we really didn't know what we were doing. There's no prescribed treatment for this. There's no manual to follow. We were stumbling in the dark, and all of us, but especially Kurt, are now paying for our ignorance."
"Is Dylan a danger to Kurt?" Carole demanded.
Lydia shook her head. "If you're asking whether or not Dylan is suicidal, the answer is no. There are cases of alters who don't know that they are alters. That's not what's happening here. Dylan is well aware that he dies if Kurt does, so, no, he would never endanger Kurt that way."
She paused. "However, the players are no longer the same. If Dylan gets out, there are a whole new list of cast members he can torment, including you, Carole, and Finn. He will do so without a moment's hesitation. He will psychologically torture you for the sheer pleasure of it."
"I meant what I said before," Lydia said sternly. "Dylan is a sociopath. He cares for nothing but his own pleasure, and he will attack anyone or anything that holds meaning for Kurt."
"But I don't mean anything to him," Carole said miserably. "The way he looked at me tonight...he doesn't know me. He doesn't recognize me as his stepmother."
Lydia sighed. "As far as Kurt is aware, he is still fourteen years old. The last three years haven't happened for him. He didn't see you and Burt fall in love and get married. He didn't experience the three additional years in which we all believed he had moved past his grief for Suzanne."
She swallowed. "That grief was always a terrible, raw thing. As much as he loves his father, Kurt's mother was his entire world. He never got over her death and, frankly, I doubt he ever will. For some people, that's just the way it is."
"Marcus," Burt said quietly.
She sniffled and nodded, before looking at a confused Carole. "My son. He died when he was sixteen. Santana was eleven at the time and, like Kurt, she has been unable to move beyond it. She idolized Marcus. When he died, her relationship with Kurt expanded to a point the rest of us were unable to understand."
"They began finishing each other's sentences," Burt explained. "They knew when the other was calling before they picked up the phone." He waved a hand. "Yeah, they had been best friends for a number of years before then, but this went beyond that. Suzanne's death, then that of Marcus, the DID...it united Kurt and Santana in a way that was both beautiful and terrifying to see."
"Terrifying?" repeated a mystified Carole.
Burt looked her squarely in the eye. "You know how scary Kurt can be, or at least the boy you know as Kurt."
She nodded, brow furrowed.
"That's nothing to how the real Kurt can make you feel."
Her eyes widened.
"I've explained about Dylan," Lydia interjected, "but you have to understand that his impulses and his hatred weren't just born. They were made. He is a part of Kurt. He may be a separate identity, but Kurt created him."
She paused. "I've known Kurt since he was four years old, Carole, all aspects of him, barring this new personality. He was always a sweet, if reserved, child." She raised her eyes and stared at the other woman. "When Dylan attacked Santana, however, I came to realize just how dangerous Kurt himself can be. His anger, his righteous fury, at what Dylan had done, was awesome in its scope."
"Kurt is stronger than Dylan," Burt said, "but only when someone else is threatened. For whatever reason, Kurt rolls over when Dylan comes out. He doesn't fight. But when Dylan went after Santana, that was a game changer. The three months following that were hell. We watched as Kurt battled Dylan, trying to reassert himself. Dylan is not, and has never been, suicidal, but there were moments in which I believed my son would kill himself to keep Dylan from hurting anyone else."
Carole shuddered. "What are we going to do?"
"At this point, the best we can hope for is to contain him," Lydia said, holding up a hand. "I know you don't want to do that, Burt, and I understand your reasons, but you have to consider what is best for Kurt, and that is making sure that if Dylan does manage to come out, the situation will be under our control, not his."
Burt reluctantly nodded.
"What do we tell other people?" Carole quietly asked.
"As little as possible," Lydia said. "The glee club should only be given the basics. We all know how rumors spread at that school."
"If Kurt is committed," Carole argued, "that information will get out, no matter how hard we try to suppress it. He's been bullied since his freshman year. People will assume he finally caved. There's no way Brittany, Artie, or Tina will let this go." She shook her head. "Rachel certainly won't. That girl is, for whatever reason, obsessed with Kurt. She believes they're each other's spirit animals, whatever the hell that's supposed to mean."
"Mike," Burt grunted.
Lydia frowned. "Mike? Mike Chang? What does he have to do with this?"
Burt sighed, scrubbing his face with a hand. "Kurt's...the alter...Chang is his boyfriend."