Author'sNote: This chapter grew out of control, so I decided to split it into two. They will deal with Kurt's graduation and the beginning of the next phase of his life. Read the end notes for answers to character questions. This chapter includes a multitude of crossovers. It isn't necessary for you to have seen the shows to understand the characters. Sufficient background has been given, and the purpose of this chapter, and the next, is to lay groundwork for subsequent chapters. I hope you like it!

"I can't wait for you to see my graduation dress!" Mercedes howled at him.

Kurt gave her his most unimpressed look. "It has polka dots, doesn't it?"

She blinked.

"Green ones."

Her eyes narrowed.

He held up a hand. "I can't."

"Green looks good on me!" she insisted, rolling her neck and eyes for emphasis.

"Lime green looks good on no one," he said flatly, "but thank you for saving me from another fluorescent Serengeti experience."

She sniffed and looked away, blushing slightly. Looking back on it, that coat had been awful, though she would never admit it.

"I'll bet you a new Chanel clutch that Noah calls you She-Hulk and/or Gumby before the ceremony has concluded," he added.

She glared at him. "And what do I get you when you won't win?"

He smiled pleasantly. "You swear on the name of Angela Bassett that you will never again wear polka dots."

Her eyes widened as she swallowed heavily. "Harsh, but fine. I got this dress, baby boy."

He nodded. "I also want it in writing."

She stomped over to her seat and threw herself into it.

Finn dashed in and plopped down next to him, anxious to soak up all the Furt he could before they left for college. He was still seething that Kurt was moving next week to intern for his aunt in Washington. "Hey! Did you pick up your tickets?"

Kurt nodded. "I did. They begrudgingly sold me the extras I requested when I pointed out they'd be lucky to fill half of the bleachers."

Finn grinned and then frowned. "How many did you get?"

"Including those for Dad and my grandmother, sixteen."

Finn gave an exaggerated blink.

"Say what?" Artie called out. "Who the hell did you invite? The Kardashians and their extended family?"

Kurt arched a brow. "Please. It will be bad enough dealing with Mercedes' polka dots. I couldn't stomach what the Ewok sisters and their pimp mother would attempt to pass off as fashion."

Artie snickered and Mercedes unleashed a thunderous scowl.

"I invited my family, of course," Kurt said.

"We don't have that much family," Finn countered.

"I do," Kurt said. "My cousin Myka is coming, along with her partner, Pete, and their friends Claudia, Steve, Leena, and Helena. Aunt Cam is coming with Uncle Seeley, and Aunt Alex is flying in from New York. Ariel is home from Dartmouth; she'll stay with Bridgette and Marie so Aunt Allie can come. Also, Aunt Brenda and Uncle Fritz are coming."

He frowned. "I'm just surprised Figgins didn't force me to buy an extra ticket for Aunt Brenda's fetus."

Santana, who had overheard, laughed.

Kurt shrugged. "And Justine and Liza are attending, of course."

Finn slowly shook his head. "How do I keep forgetting all of these people?"

Kurt patted his knee and smiled. "You haven't met them yet. They're all very excited to meet you, however. I told them I have the best brother in the world."

Finn's eyes welled as he gave Kurt a suffocating hug.

"Princess!" Puck bellowed. "Where the hell did you get so much family?"

Kurt rolled his eyes. "From Wal-Mart." He sneered. "Oh, I'm sorry. That's where you get everything in your wardrobe. It's called genetics, Noah. I'm not surprised you were unaware, given how averse you can be to polysyllabic words."

Puck sniggered and reached forward to tickle Kurt's sides, planting a sloppy kiss on Kurt's cheek for good measure as Kurt laughed hysterically and then grimaced.

"Ugh! Lips of Puck!"

"What about Patrick?" Santana demanded. "I've seen the pictures and he's a hot piece. I want a taste."

Kurt soured. "He's working a case, Jezebel. I'll send your regards."

She pouted.

"You mean there's more?" asked a disbelieving Quinn.

"I have a large extended family," Kurt said defensively. "Ziva, Uncle Patrick, and Uncle Neal are working. Uncle Rick is on a writer's retreat. Aunt Jessica is visiting her cousins in Ireland. Aunt Kate is attending a workshop at Quantico. Melinda was planning to come, but her son Aiden came down with chickenpox." He paused. "Olivia is...unavailable," he said, averting his eyes. "I wasn't about to ask Uncle Tommy to fly across the ocean for a high school graduation."

"Uncle Tommy?" repeated a disparaging Puck. "Does he hang ten in Malibu?"

"First, learn geography," Kurt said disparagingly. "Second, he's a Detective Inspector with Scotland Yard. He's also the eighth Earl of Asherton."

Puck rolled his eyes. "You would be royalty. You've certainly got the attitude for it."

"Nobility, actually, and thank you," Kurt sniffed. "I have my own title, but even without it, I'm your superior, as is every conscious person."

Santana and Quinn cackled.

Puck beamed at him. "You're so going to miss me!"

Kurt sniffed again, blushed lightly, and mumbled under his breath.

"I'll miss you, too, you know," said a suddenly solemn Puck. "Hey, is Rutherford coming?"

Kurt began bouncing in his seat. "Yes! He's graduating a few days before, and his parents offered to send him. Mike was able to get him a ticket."

Finn crossed his arms over his chest and huffed.

Kurt glared. "Mike! Finn is complaining about Matthew again."

Mike materialized at their side as though he had teleported. "Is he?" he asked through gritted teeth.

Finn, whose eyes were now the size of saucers, immediately put up both of his hands, palms facing out. "I wasn't! It's cool Kurt's Boyfriend can come."

Ever since he had learned Kurt and Matt were dating, he referred to the latter only as Kurt's Boyfriend, despite the fact he had known Matt longer and they had been good friends.

"I bet he'll be coming in all sorts of ways," Puck said, waggling his brows and leering at Kurt.

"Santana is aiming a laser pointer at your crotch right now," Brittany helpfully told him.

Puck yelped and scrambled back to his seat.

Rachel stormed into the room in typical fashion. "What did I miss?" she cheerfully screeched.

"The recall on oversized toddler clothes," Quinn said primly, not looking up from filing her nails.

Rachel ignored her and sat next to Finn.

"Kurt's Boyfriend is coming to graduation," Finn said stiffly.

Rachel looked perplexed. "Of course Matt's coming." She raised a brow. "Did you really think he wouldn't be?" She sighed. "They've been dating for two years now, Finn Hudson, so you need to get over it. You also had better be nice to Matt, or I'm going to ask Coach Sylvester to stand next to you for the entire ceremony and catalog everything she thinks is wrong with you."

Finn panicked and began hyperventilating. He then shook himself and frowned. "She wouldn't do that for you."

"Duh," Tina hissed, "but she'd do it for her Alabaster. She'd do anything for Kurt."

The other girls nodded.

Kurt didn't blush, but ducked his head in embarrassment. "By the way, Finn and I would like to invite all of you, and your families, to a reception my father is holding at Tuscany after the ceremony."

Several of his friends cooed and cheered at the news, instantly agreeing.

Santana gave a low whistle. "Tuscany? Nice score, Tink. Will there be liquor involved?"

He gave her a withering look. "Of course not, Beelzebooze. Tuscany doesn't serve minors." He smirked. "However, neither they nor I can control what you might sneak inside."

She and Puck high-fived.

"It's very nice of you to invite us, Kurt," Rachel said. "Thank you."

He shrugged a shoulder. "I figured if I only invited the Harem and Prince Charming, the rabble would rebel."

She nodded sagely.

Sam shot across the room and threw his arms around Kurt. "I'm going to miss you so much," he whispered.

Kurt laughed and patted Sam's back. "I'm not yet gone, my Prince, so fret not."

Sam just hugged him more tightly.

"I still don't understand why you two never dated," Finn said, rather plaintively.

"Because I'm with Matthew," Kurt said, at the same time Sam said, a little too forcefully, "Kurt and Matt belong together."

"Princess and Hayseed would be hotter," Puck insisted.

Everyone turned to stare at him.

"What?" he barked. "You know it's true."

Sam busied himself with his guitar.

Kurt gave Puck a bland look, though he was uncomfortable with what Puck was insinuating. "You had a threesome with my boyfriend. You what he's working with."

Puck nodded reluctantly.

"Oh, wow!" Mike loudly exclaimed. "My sudden and mysterious deafness has returned!"

Everyone laughed.

Two weeks later, Kurt was patiently waiting at Dayton International for the first of his family to arrive. He had sent his father to Port Columbus to gather the others, cautioning Burt to behave himself and not air old family grievances that no longer mattered. He had told his father that if anything ruined his graduation ceremony, there would be hell to pay, and Burt had believed.

He glanced down at his watch, restraining the urge to bounce on the balls of his feet. Alex's plane was right on time, and she was due at any moment. He had kept up with her and her career, but they hadn't seen each other since his mother's funeral over a decade ago. Burt still hadn't forgiven her for faking her death, entering the Witness Protection Program, and allowing the family to mourn her, as if her actual death would have been preferable.

Snorting and rolling his eyes at his father's antics, his heart thrummed with excitement as the gate opened and passengers began to disembark.

He would be calm and collected, he told himself. He was going to make a good impression. Alex loved him, of course, and he had no need to impress her, but he wanted her to see the intelligent and responsible young man into whom he had matured.

"Aunt Alex!" he squealed.


Cover. Blown.

Alexandra Cabot smiled widely and casually began storming toward him, tossing people out of her way in a very polite manner. It was so New York and so very her.

"Kurt!" she exclaimed.

He took a moment to revel in her rich, honeyed alto voice, one which he sadly and silently rued would never be his. It was somewhat strange to hear that voice from that mouth, as though the two shouldn't go together. Tall, blond, and blue-eyed, Alex looked as though she should be strutting down a runway, not facing down criminals in a courtroom.

She dropped her carry-on and threw her arms around him.

"I've seen the pictures, of course," she said, "but they didn't prepare me for what a handsome young man you've become." She smiled as his cheek, pressed against her own, began to heat up. "Am I the first to arrive?"

He pulled away and nodded. "Allison's plane will be landing soon. We should get going."

She nodded in kind, picked up her bag, threaded her arm through his, and steeled herself to the encroaching crowd. "Lead the way."

As they hurried toward the next terminal, Alex interrogated Kurt as though he were on the witness stand, albeit in a more subdued manner. It was simply who she was, and when she wanted information, she tended to demand it rather than ask. He took no offense.

He answered her myriad questions, which included catching her up on his father, Carole, Finn, and Matt, but mostly concerned his future career plans. She had been needling him for years to follow her into law, arguing that with relatives like her, Brenda, Patrick, Allison, and Myka, he had innate talent for ferreting out the truth.

She was annoyed that he planned instead to pursue medicine like Camille and Kate, even if they did tread the path of forensics, one which she absolutely respected. Still, she wanted Kurt in sharp suits using his sharp tongue, not in scrubs rooting around inside gutted corpses.

"You know, you could always do both," she said slyly. "There are those who follow pre-med and pre-law tracks, and then decide on professional school later."

He eyed her, bemused. "You're just not going to give up, are you?"

She scoffed. "That's simply not my nature."

He laughed. "Believe me, I know. Brenda gave me the same spiel when I was in California a few months back."

Alex nodded seriously. "I would expect nothing less. You already have the background, Kurt. I've followed the work you've done with Liza Capwell, and it's been nothing short of phenomenal. You're a born closer."

He was silent for a long moment. "I can't do it anymore, Aunt Alex, not after Cunningham." He refused to call the serial killer the Shadow Man. Mark Cunningham would never be reduced to a catchphrase in his eyes.

He had lived through the horror, had killed the man who had tried to kill him and had killed so many others, and he would never forget that Cunningham had been nothing more than a man. A sadistic killer to be sure, but a man nonetheless.

"I'm so sorry that happened to you," Alex whispered, pressing tightly against him.

"Some days, I am, as well," he admitted, "but there are others in which I'm grateful for the experience. I think I needed to know, even if only for myself, my capability, what I could handle and what my true mettle was. I survived it, but don't wish to repeat it, and I'm fairly certain that would happen were I to pursue law."

He glanced at her. "You were targeted and shot by Liam Connors. Aunt Brenda has Phillip Stroh. Uncle Patrick has Red John. I don't need nor want another archnemesis. That's one family tradition which I have no interest in following any further. And Allison..." He paused. "Well, you know."

She nodded tightly.

"I can't do what she does," he said softly. "It's not a question of strength, but of what you're willing to endure. I began working with Liza and Justine so that I could help people, but the cost..." he trailed off. He swallowed heavily. "Allison has paid and paid and paid. She's lost so much in the name of using her gift, but she doesn't resent it; she keeps going. She has nothing to prove, but she has this drive which is almost supernatural in and of itself."

He shook his head. "That's not me. Cunningham was bad enough, and I know there's worse out that will find me. I'm strong, but not that strong."

He sighed. "I want to help, to do my part, but I can't be directly involved in the investigations anymore, at least not where I'm exposed in such a manner. You've seen and read what Allison was put through when the story broke about what she can do. That could, and would, happen to me, and I don't want that kind of attention. As a pathologist, I could still work scenes. I could help the police and the district attorneys, to get justice for the dead, but I would be somewhat removed, and I need that."

"I understand," Alex said. "I really do, Kurt."

Her words were true, she knew. Kurt's potential was unlimited, and he had the intelligence and cunning to be brilliant at whatever he desired. She supposed some of her drive was centered on the fact that, like many members of their family, she viewed Kurt as a surrogate child. She wasn't certain she even wanted children of her own, and by the time that happened, it might be too late. Kurt was everyone's baby.

Those like her, namely Kate and Myka, tended to bombard Kurt with well-meaning, if suffocating, guidance. He bore it well, as he did most things, but that didn't mean he should have to.

He smirked. "That doesn't mean I don't read case law or study debate, just in case I decide to sit my LSATs. It just means I have no current plans to pursue law as a profession."

Which didn't rule out law school, a law degree, or her dream of Kurt tearing apart idiots in court. It just wasn't his focus right now. She could live with that.

She cackled.

"How is Allison doing?" Alex quietly asked as they waited for the plane.

"I don't really know," Kurt murmured. "She feels the need to protect me from what she's experiencing, so I have to keep up on her through Ariel, who's even more in the dark than I am." He sighed. "Still, Ariel's been very busy with Dartmouth and her own grief, and we've never been particularly close."

He frowned. "Do you think that's strange? That I'm closer to Allison than the daughter who's my own age?"

Alex stared at him. "You've never been your age, Kurt."

He bit his lip. "Ariel and the other girls have abilities. They always have."

"But not as strong as yours," she said gently. "You're the only one on par with Allison, and you have been since you were a child. Ariel, Bridgette, and Marie may one day catch up with you, but there's no guarantee, and you were never afforded the protective symbolism they were. They never saw the things you did in the manner in which you did." She shrugged a shoulder. "Not to mention, you also have Melinda's abilities and the onus that comes with them."

Kurt held his tongue. For some unknown reason, he didn't want to admit that those abilities had been somewhat weakened as of late. He hadn't crossed over a spirit in more than four years. He didn't know why they had stopped coming to him, why it was only darkness that he saw, and he was afraid to question it, afraid of what the answers might mean.

But it concerned him. He had inherited his abilities from his entire family, yes, but primarily his mother, who was almost an exact replica of Melinda in terms of power. Why was he more like Allison than Melinda?

"Allison has completely recovered from her stroke, right?" asked an anxious Alex.

He nodded. "Absolutely. She no longer needs the cane, and her hand is fully functional."

She bit her lip. "Are you..."

"Yes," he interrupted. "Both Melinda and I have been scanned, and we're fine. It's something we're keeping an eye on, just in case, but there's no reason to assume that Aunt Allie's tumor was a consequence of her abilities." He cocked his head. "Still, she's scanned every six months, just to make sure the tumor hasn't returned, and she's made it a part of the girls' yearly physicals. I know Melinda has had Aiden scanned as well. We're all fine."

Alex nodded, but appeared worried. She forced herself to set it aside. "Back to the conversation at hand. I know you've always felt out of place in our family, not only because of what you can do, but because you're closer to the adults than the children. It's not abnormal, Kurt. There's nothing wrong with that.

"I could successfully argue that perhaps we're responsible. We've always treated you more as a contemporary than a child, and if that was wrong of us, then you have my sincerest apologies." She shook her head. "Still, I don't think it was wrong. You saw things, knew things, that most children will never understand, even after they become adults. We couldn't treat you as less than that."

"And I appreciate that," he said, smiling. "I'm not complaining, but sometimes I wonder who I would be if I didn't have these abilities, if I were normal."

Alex smirked. "Even without the psychic assist, I doubt you'd ever be simply normal, Kurt," she said sardonically. "That's just not who we are, and normal is highly overrated. Even the so-called normal ones in our family aren't really that normal. Your intelligence, your wit, your compassion, your observational skills - those aren't merely psychic detritus. You're more than your abilities."

She startled when he abruptly turned from her, though not before she could see the tears gathering in his eyes.

"You know that, don't you?" she demanded.

"I do," he said, releasing a shaky breath. He turned to look at her and nodded. "I do," he repeated, more strength in his voice. He paused. "It's just...I sometimes think there's something wrong with me, with the way I interact with people."

She pulled them down into two empty chairs.

"What do you mean?" she asked.

He chewed on his lip for a moment. "You're right in that I never felt like a child, even when I was one," he finally said, "but I'm not sure I behave as an adult, either." He shook his head. "I'm not sure what I am, or how I fit in. I don't think I really do; at least, not very well." He shrugged helplessly. "I don't know who I am."

He waved his hands uselessly. "The family is one thing; I understand my relations with all of you, but with other people...I trust Justine and Liza with my life. I trust them absolutely." He shook his head. "But I can't say that they know me. They've tried, but for whatever reason, I keep myself removed from them. Then, with my friends, only Santana knows what I can do; she knows about my work, my family, my relationship with Matt. She knows everything, really, but she's the only one who does."

Alex nodded patiently.

"The others don't, not even Finn and Carole. Dad wanted me to tell them, but I just couldn't, too afraid of what they would think, of whether they would believe me, of how they would treat me. Finn already thinks I'm made of glass. If he knew what I was really doing in the District Attorney's office, he'd never let me leave the house."

"Does Matt know?"

"No," Kurt quickly replied. "I know that I could tell him, that he would understand, but..."

"You think it would make you vulnerable."

He set his jaw mulishly, not wanting to admit she was right, but unintentionally confirming her hypothesis. "I wish I had told Sam. Outside of Santana, I'm closest to him, yet I've never said a word, even though I've wanted to do so."

"It's about control, Kurt," Alex said after a beat. "There's so much in your life you haven't been able to control that you seek it out where and when you can, and you hold to it tenaciously." She sighed. "Another family trait."

"But isn't that wrong?" he questioned. "Shouldn't I be more willing to allow people to know me? The real me? What does it say about me that I keep everyone at arm's length?"

"Perhaps only that you're not ready," Alex said. She tilted her head. "Or maybe you're sabotaging yourself."

He blinked harshly. "What do you mean?"

"You love Matt. You trust him."

He nodded, perplexed.

"Then why haven't you told him?"

Confusion evaporated and left annoyance in its wake. "You think I don't really love him."

"I didn't say that," she said, shaking her head. "I'm only suggesting that perhaps you're unwilling to acknowledge he might not be what you truly want."

"That's not true," he protested. "I love Matt."

"That's not the issue," she argued. "If you believe you can trust him with this, there has to be a reason why you haven't." She arched a brow. "You've told Santana. You've said you've wanted to tell Sam. You never said you wanted to tell Matt, only that you thought it strange you hadn't."

He said nothing, so she continued.

"It's very rare for someone your age to maintain a long-distance relationship. You haven't even seen Matt in over a year. You can't honestly tell me that part of his appeal isn't that he lives in another state."

He looked down at his lap, unable to deny her charge.

"There's nothing wrong with wanting to feel safe," she said, "and if your relationship with Matt makes you feel that way, then I'm grateful for that and him. You need that, and you deserve it. That doesn't mean, however, that you're destined to be together, only that he's what you need right now."

As much as he didn't want to, he paid attention to her words. He also couldn't help but think that Matt deserved far better than him.

"Is he your Jim Clancy? Is he your Joe DuBois?" she asked. She shook her head. "I don't know, and I don't believe that you do, either, and that's okay. I'm not telling you that you shouldn't be with Matt, only that you don't have to put all of your eggs in one basket. You don't have to settle, and if you are settling, it's no more fair to him than it is to you."

She hesitated briefly and then decided to go for it, but when she opened her mouth, it was announced that Allison's plane from Phoenix had landed.

As Kurt jumped to his feet, Alex sighed. She'd address it later, and probably with backup.

Kurt didn't even try to contain his excitement when Allison DuBois appeared at the terminal.

"Aunt Allie!" he gushed.

She turned toward him, beaming, and rushed forward.

Kurt was just as delighted. Outside of Patrick, he had always been closest to Allison, their affinity established by their shared gift and later buttressed by numerous shared opinions, outlooks, and behavioral tics.

"It's so good to see you, Kurty!" she said warmly, drawing him into an effusive embrace. She then pulled back and swatted him on his shoulder. "That's for not stopping off to see me when you were out my way those few months ago!"

He was chagrined. "I'm sorry, Aunt Allie, but I had only a short window to look at Stanford and USC."

She was having none of it. "Yet there was time to see Patrick?"

Kurt fought off his blush. "You know I had to. Charlotte asked."

She nodded. "I know, and I understand. I just miss you."

He smiled and hugged her again. "I miss you, too," he whispered in her ear. "All the time."

She patted his back and kissed his cheek before turning to Alex.

"Come here, you!"

Alex laughed and threw her arms around the cousin she loved but didn't often get the chance to see. "I'm so glad you're here, Allison, and I'm so very sorry I wasn't able to come last year."

Allison's eyes dimmed with sadness, but she waved Alex off. "You were working for the international criminal court," she said dismissively. "We both know how important that is. I understood completely, Alex."

"How are you doing?" Alex asked. She arched a brow. "Really?"

Allison sighed gently. "I'm managing," she said quietly. "I suppose that's all I can ask for at this point." She shook her head. "I don't think it will ever stop hurting, and despite what we tell people, we know that time doesn't heal every wound."

Alex and Kurt nodded in commiseration before exchanging a glance. If the way Allison appeared was anything to go by, she was suffering more than she was letting on. She had dark shadows smudged beneath her eyes and had shed a good twenty pounds, which she could ill afford to lose.

Allison had always been curvy, with a large bust. Bearing three children had left their marks on her body, but she carried herself extremely well. Fair, with light blond hair and sky blue eyes, she was the living embodiment of a Mother Earth goddess. Now her face was drawn and wan, gaunt. She looked ill.

"And the girls?" Alex pressed.

"It's hard," Allison said, "especially with Ariel away at school." She shook her head. "I know it's killing her to stay at Dartmouth, but I've been insistent. I don't want her throwing away all of her dreams because of this, and Joe wouldn't want that either." She shook her head ruefully. "I know she misses Marie terribly; after all, she helped me raise her. Ariel and Bridgette had a contentious relationship for most of their lives, but they love each other desperately, even more so now."

Kurt nodded. It was a lot like his relationship with Finn, he supposed. They quarreled often, but let an outsider say something against one of them, and the other always swiftly came to their defense.

Allison forced a smile. "I have to believe things will eventually settle down and that we'll somehow muddle through this." She exhaled. "Right now, I'm just happy to be here." She looked at Kurt. "Who do we need to pick up?"

He grinned, grabbed their bags, and began strolling away. "Follow me, please."

Alex and Allison looked at each other, shrugged, linked arms, and did just that.

"I hope we didn't miss them," Kurt fretted, looking around anxiously.

"You didn't," say a voice behind them.

He whirled around, eyes lighting with joy. "Aunt Cam!"

She chuckled throatily, shoved her latte into Seeley's hands, and pulled her nephew tightly to her. "There's my best boy."

Kurt giggled, dropped the bags he was carrying, and hugged her back. "You look gorgeous."

Alex frowned and turned to Allison. "I didn't get a gorgeous out of him," she complained.

Allison shook her head. "I didn't either. I guess we know where we rank."

Cam glared at them over Kurt's shoulder. "Right," she slowly drawled. "It must be so difficult walking through the world as blond, blue-eyed ideals." She fluttered her lashes. "How have you ever survived?"

Alex rolled her eyes as Allison snickered.

"This must have been how Jack Nicholson felt in The Witches of Eastwick," Kurt remarked.

Camille cackled.

Allison turned to Alex. "I'm Michelle Pfeiffer."

"In your dreams, Miss Cleo," Alex shot back.

"Does that mean Cam is Cher?" Seeley asked.

Kurt bounced right out of Camille's eyes and into those of Seeley Booth. "Uncle Seeley!" he shrieked.

"There's my Little Man!" Seeley cooed, hugging Kurt close before pulling back and examining him. "Not so little anymore, are you?" he said quietly. "You're so grown up. You look good, kid."

Kurt blushed and averted his eyes, as the three women exchanged glances. Despite popular thought, Kurt actually had several male role models in his life besides Burt, and all of them were worthy in their own unique ways. Seeley Booth, however, held a special place in Kurt's heart.

The very definition of a man's man - tall, dark, and handsome, with a dangerous yet important job - Seeley had informed Kurt's character perhaps more than anyone knew, even though he and Camille had dated only a short while and he hadn't been a constant presence in Kurt's life.

However, the fact that Seeley absolutely adored Kurt, despite being so very Catholic and prejudiced about a great many things, and could've cared less that Kurt was gay, that he had gone out of his way to keep in contact with Kurt even after he and Camille parted, had meant the world to Kurt.

Seeley had never been bothered that Kurt was gay, and while he made snide remarks about almost every minority group, even though he had dated a black woman and pseudo-adopted a gay child, he had always placed Kurt on something of a pedestal. In his mind, Kurt could do no wrong, and if Kurt was gay, it was because he was supposed to be. Seeley had no objection to that, but he objected to anyone who might argue otherwise.

"How's Parker?" Kurt asked eagerly.

Seeley grinned. Kurt and Parker had only met once, but they had established a lifelong friendship, despite their age difference. They regarded one another as cousins and kept in touch via phone and email. Kurt was constantly sending Parker gifts in the mail for no reason at all, and went overboard on birthdays and holidays, but Seeley didn't care. He knew Kurt saw Parker as something of a little brother, and it made him feel good to know that Parker had people other than his parents looking out for him.

"He's just fine," he said, smiling down at Kurt, who grinned. "Now why don't you introduce me to your lovely companions?"

Kurt rolled his eyes. "No one overestimates your charm more than you."

Camille roared with laughter, tears gathering in her eyes.

"These are our cousins, though I refer to them as aunts, Alexandra Cabot and Allison DuBois," Kurt gamely continued. "Aunt Alex is an Assistant District Attorney assigned to the Special Victims Unit in Manhattan, and Aunt Allison is a paralegal working for the Maricopa County District Attorney in Phoenix. Aunt Allie is also finishing law school."

Happiness danced in Alex's eyes as she looked fondly at Allison. "You went back."

Allison blushed and shyly nodded. "Joe always wanted me to, and Mr. Devalos has been an incredible help." She shrugged. "Besides, it runs in the family."

Alex beamed.

Seeley cleared his throat and nodded at both of them with surprising respect before shaking their hands. "I've heard of both of you, of course, and not just from Camille. You do amazing work."

"Thank you, Agent Booth," Alex said primly. "It's a pleasure to meet you."

Allison nodded in kind. "We've heard of you, as well, and we both want to thank you for being so kind to our nephew."

Seeley grinned and wrapped an arm around Kurt's shoulders. "He makes it easy, and please, call me Seeley."

Kurt gazed up at him adoringly.

"Are you ready to start your internship?" Seeley asked him. "You're not giving yourself a lot of leeway between your graduation and when you leave for DC."

Kurt shrugged mildly. "It's better, I think. It'll be easier to make a clean break."

"Are we all set?" Alex asked.

"We just need to grab Aunt Brenda and Uncle Fritz," Kurt said. "Their plane should be arriving in about fifteen minutes, which gives us just enough time to get across the airport to meet them."

"I'm looking forward to seeing her again," Camille smiled.

Kurt's eyes widened. "Fair warning. She's about five months along now, and Uncle Fritz told me she's over the weepy stage."

Allison smirked.

"What's that mean?" Alex asked.

"It means Brenda's entered the full-on Raging Bitch Mode," Allison said pleasantly.

"And given that she's, well, her," Kurt added, "you can expect a nuclear holocaust before everything is said and done."

Seeley looked worried, while the three woman exchanged a glance.

"We're not technically related to her," Camille slowly said.

"She has no reason to spare us," Alex continued.

"She'd never hurt Kurt, so we'll use him as a human shield," Allison said, "and Seeley, Fritz, and Burt as cannon fodder."

Seeley blinked.

"It's nice to have goals," said a cheerful Kurt.

When they got to the terminal, they found a nervous Fritz shuffling from foot to foot as Brenda ruthlessly interrogated the TSA personnel, planning to file reports against all of them for gross incompetence. On principle alone, Kurt, Alex, Allison, and Camille agreed with every raving unleashed from her mouth, grinning when Seeley, Fritz, and everyone else winced as Brenda's voice reached an entirely different decibel.

"I'm all for letting her get it out of her system," Camille drawled.

Alex, Allison, and Kurt nodded.

"One of the agents at JFK groped me under the guise of patting me down," Alex said darkly. "I became my own special victim."

Kurt pressed his lips together tightly to avoid the snicker. "And what did you do?"

"I called the police, of course," Alex said casually.

The others cackled, which caused Brenda to halt mid-shriek, turn around, and drop her bags, eyes lighting with joy as Fritz all but sobbed with relief.

"Kurty!" she howled with delight.

"Oh, my," he whispered, bewildered when Brenda shot at him like a squirrel and then proceeded to hang from his neck like an albatross.

Allison, Alex, and Camille laughed at him, Seeley appeared confused, and Fritz was quietly thanking god that it was anyone but him.

"Aunt Brenda," Kurt panted, "I can't breathe!"

"Well, I'm breathing for two, but I'm not whining!" she happily shot back, hugging him even more tightly.

The other women continued with, what Kurt had deemed, their inappropriate laughter. He glared at them and then smiled.

Allison couldn't see it coming, ironically, but Camille sure as hell did, and her eyes widened with dismay.

"Aunt Brenda!" Kurt sweetly exclaimed. "Look who all's here! Aunt Allie, Aunt Alex, and Aunt Cam!"

Brenda squealed again, abruptly released Kurt, and launched herself at the aforementioned trio. Somehow, with their combined strength, they were able to remain standing while Brenda assaulted them.

"Oh, Allison!" Brenda gushed. "You look absolutely beautiful! And Alex! I always said you could have been a supermodel! Camille! I've been following your work at the Jeffersonian, and I must say you do our family proud."

"Thank you?" said a dazed Camille, after spitting out a mouthful of Brenda's hair.

Allison forcibly removed herself from the collective embrace, surrendering Alex to oblivion in the process, and smiled. "Brenda, you're glowing."

Brenda pulled back, blushed, and mumbled nonsense, running her hand over her swollen abdomen in a manner that was both unsure and protective.

"Aunts Alex, Allison, and Camille, Uncle Seeley, this is Aunt Brenda's husband, Special Agent Fritz Howard," Kurt smoothly interrupted. "Uncle Fritz, these are half of the people you'll meet today."

Fritz gave them a tired smile and they all proceeded to make introductions. Fritz and Seeley, aware of each other's reputations in the FBI, greeted each other warmly.

"Let's make our way to the garage," Kurt suggested.

Brenda nodded and turned to wave gaily at the TSA agents she had been harassing. "Thank you so much!"

Seeley and Fritz were bemused when the women began jockeying for positions next to Kurt, Allison and Brenda emerging triumphant, while Camille and Alex pouted.

"He's some kid, isn't he?" Fritz said.

"He's the best," Seeley affirmed.

"How are you feeling, Aunt Brenda?" Kurt asked.

"Oh, much better now," she replied, her arm looped through his. "The morning sickness has passed, though it didn't much trouble me, for which I'm very thankful." She sidled up against him. "A large part of that was thanks to you. I was so worried when I found out I was expecting, but you put both me and Fritz at ease. Thank you, Kurty."

He smiled. "I promise he's going to be just fine."

She grinned and again patted her belly. "Did you hear that, William Kurt? Your uncle says you're going to be just fine."

Kurt halted in his tracks, eyes and throat full. "What?" he whispered.

"William for my mama, Willie Rae, of course," Brenda chirped. "Fritz suggested that one. We both decided on Kurt as a middle name, in your honor."

Kurt pressed his lips together, struggling for words. "You didn't have to do that," he said finally, softly.

She waved a hand. "Of course we didn't have to; we wanted to. He's going to be the first of his generation, just like you were the first of yours."

"That's not strictly true," Kurt said. "Ariel and I are the same age, and she's already in college."

"But you're the eldest," Allison said. "Ariel started earlier than you because of when her birthday fell during the school year." She rolled her eyes. "Besides, we all know you probably could've skipped several grades."

"What about Aiden?" he objected. "Isn't he the first of the new generation?"

Alex shook her head. "Only a dozen years separate you and Melinda's son. If anything, he's the last of your generation."

Kurt blinked. "Why do I suddenly feel old?"

Allison slapped him upside the head. "You're asking us? As far as we're concerned, you just learned to walk, yet we're here for your high-school graduation."

He rolled his eyes.

She slapped him again. "Respect your elders!"

After chauffeuring his relatives to the Holiday Inn, regrettably the only acceptable hotel in Lima, Kurt left them to clean up and get some rest before he returned. He was planning a huge dinner celebration to welcome everyone and, while he had done most of the prep work the night before, he still had more to do.

He sailed into his house and greeted Finn, who slobbered over him in a very fraternal manner. It should have been annoying, but the more cloying Finn became, the more Kurt realized he would miss his brother. He soaked up all the attention he could and then forced Finn to return to his video game, trotting off in search of Carole.

He was absurdly grateful that she had taken it upon herself to look over the menu and had begun the majority of the work. He tied on his Williams-Sonoma apron and entered the fray, smiling warmly at his stepmother, whose eyes became misty.

"I'm going to miss cooking with you," she said.

"I'm going to miss everything about you," he said honestly.

She bit her lip and looked away, blinking back tears. "Can I ask you something?"

"Of course," he said, suddenly overwhelmed by curiosity at the hesitance in her voice.

She looked worriedly over her shoulder, and he realized she was listening for Finn.

"He's absorbed in his video game," Kurt said.

She exhaled quietly. "Perhaps we could talk outside."

He frowned and looked at the food, bubbling away on the stove, and turned some of it down. "All right," he said slowly.

She nodded and led the way out the door.

He followed, a sinking feeling in his stomach.

They had settled down on two of the deck chairs by the pool. Kurt said nothing, waiting patiently for Carole to say whatever was on her mind.

She opened her mouth, closed it, frowned, and at last nodded to herself. "I have to confess, I was curious about your family, the ones I'll be meeting tonight."

He nodded.

"I knew the basics, of course," she continued. "Their names and occupations. I looked them up online."

He stilled.

"Allison DuBois is your cousin, right? On Suzanne's side?"

"Yes," he murmured.

"What she does...there were articles." She swallowed. "You're like her."

Kurt drew in a sharp, short breath. "Yes."

She nodded, her eyes distant. "That's what you do for Liza Capwell. That's what you really do in the District Attorney's office. Just like Allison."

"Yes," he whispered.

She began shaking, but she nodded firmly. "Last summer..."

He sighed gently. "Yes. Mark Cunningham, called the Shadow Man by the media, began stalking me. Dad and I lied about me going to visit my grandmother in France. I was pulled from school and placed in a safe house."

She shook her head, tears spilling over. "Oh, Jesus. Oh, my poor baby."

"I was the person upon whom he fixated," he said, "the one alluded to in the press. He found me at the safe house. He murdered five people to get to me, and he finally did."

Her hands covered her face as she choked out breathless sobs.

"He shot my partner, Justine," he said, his voice a monotone, "and then he came for me. We struggled over the gun, and I killed him."

"Good," she hissed through clenched teeth. "Good."

Kurt stared at her.

She quickly wiped her eyes and cleared her throat. "How long?"

"I've been working for Liza since I was fifteen."

She shook her head. "How long have you seen these things?"

"Since I was six," he quietly answered. "I've been able to see spirits for as long as I can remember, but I had my first vision the day of my mother's funeral. A little girl, my age, was raped and murdered three counties over."

Her eyes were haunted. "And you saw it."

It was a statement, not a question.

He was amazed that, so far, she hadn't questioned him at all. Had he so severely underestimated her?

"I did," he stated.

She nodded and stared off. "Does anyone else know what you can do? Outside of the family, I mean." She turned to him. "I assume they know?"

"They do," he said. "They've done what they can to protect me, to shield my identity." He paused. "The only one who knows everything is Santana."

Carole blinked. Oddly, she could understand that. She couldn't say that she knew Santana well, and what she did know, she didn't like, but she had seen how Santana interacted with Kurt, how fiercely she protected him and ran interference for him with everyone else.

She might not have liked the girl, but she could never deny that Santana Lopez deeply loved her son - and Kurt was her son. Suzanne might have birthed him, Burt might have raised him, but she considered Kurt her own and always would. She therefore held a debt of gratitude for Santana Lopez.

"What about Matt?" she whispered.

Kurt shook his head. "I think he has suspicions about things, but we don't discuss them." He frowned. "It's recently been pointed out to me that Matt and I avoid many pertinent topics of conversation."

He was startled by just how unsurprised she was. If Alex had seen it, and Carole had also noticed, apparently this bore further consideration on his part. It was something he didn't really wish to examine.

"This is why Burt is so overprotective?"

Kurt cocked his head. "In part, I suppose, but there's also the gay-in-Lima thing," he said, trying and failing to inject some humor into the heaviness of the conversation.

"Your mother could do this, as well?"

"No," he said, turning quiet. He was silent for several long moments. "Her abilities were different. I have hers, as well, but for whatever reason, I also possess those of Allison, and they're stronger."

"Tell me about Suzanne?" she asked. "Your father won't." She shook her head in consternation. "I think he believes I'm jealous."

"That's not it," Kurt denied, "or, if it is, it's only a very small part."

She shot him a puzzled look. "Explain."

He gathered a breath. "Mom's abilities were fairly straightforward: she was able to see and speak with earthbound spirits, often referred to as ghosts. Spirits remain earthbound out of confusion or by choice, usually when they don't understand why they're dead or they have information to pass on to the living. That's what Mom did; she relayed messages to loved ones and helped the spirits accept their deaths. My cousin Melinda Gordon also has this ability."

Carole's face screwed up. "She's the one who lives in New York, right? Grandville?"

"Grandview," he corrected, "and yes. Melinda, who is overall more connected to the supernatural world than either Allison or me, also has visions about that world. She sees portents of what's to come and how the supernatural world will interact with ours. My mother could do that as well."

She frowned. "Please forgive me if this sounds ignorant, but what's the point?"

He shook his head. "It's not an ignorant question. Melinda feels a tremendous responsibility to these spirits, as did my mother. Melinda views, and Mom viewed, it as her calling to cross the spirits over."

She blinked. "Cross them over to what?"

"Into the Light," he quietly said.

She stared at him for a long moment. "The Light?" she repeated faintly. "Are you talking about the great white light? Heaven?"

He shrugged mildly. "Some people call it that. I really have no idea what it is. My mother believed, and Melinda continues to believe, that the Light is the final destination, so to speak. The great reward, if you will."

"Do you believe that?"

He fidgeted uncomfortably. "I don't know. I don't know what the Light is. I can't see it; none of us can. You only see the Light when you're ready, and only after your death. I've crossed spirits over, but I've never seen the Light."

He shrugged diffidently. "You know that I'm an atheist. I don't believe in god, in some supreme deity that's overseeing everything and loves us unconditionally." He paused. "But do I want to believe in the Light? Yes, absolutely. I want to believe that the Light is real, even if it's not governed by some god. I want to believe that, after I die, I will see the Light and be reunited with those I've lost."

He paused. "I've seen the faces of spirits who cross over. I've seen their eyes when they first see the Light, the utter serenity they possess." He closed his eyes. "I know it's real, and I can only hope I'll see it when it's my time."

She shook her head. "I don't understand. How can you see what you see, do what you do, and not believe in god?"

"I just don't," he said bluntly. "Denying the existence of god doesn't mean I'm denying that the supernatural exists. I've seen it with my own eyes. Maybe god is real and I'm wrong. If I am, I'll apologize."

She snickered wildly and uncontrollably, but quickly sobered. "What else do you see?"

He arched a brow. "Things you probably would not like to know about."

She swallowed and nodded, having discerned that much a while back. "Is it awful?"

"Frequently, yes. Like Allison, the majority of what I see is violence, horrific violence. Working for Liza is the only way I can exorcise those images from my mind. It's the only thing that helps. Of course, if I can get justice for another, that's a reward in itself, but, no, I don't do it simply because I'm altruistic."

She shook her head. "As ridiculous as it might sound, this explains so much."


"You're so different from other people your age, Kurt," she said. "I won't insult you by calling you a child. You no longer are, and I doubt you ever were. The differences I'm talking about go beyond physical age." She sighed. "You understand pain. You know loss personally, what it does and how it defines. You don't merely sympathize with people; you empathize with them on a level most of us could never understand, let alone reach."

He laughed. "I'm not nearly as mature, or as kind, as you all believe. I'm just a very good actor."

Her face became very serious. "You're acting right now. Please don't do that with me. I want you to know you never have to do that with me. You can't see what you do, you can't do the work you do, without it altering you on a fundamental level. Your intelligence is one thing; we all know you're beyond most of us on that score, but please don't discount or play off how truly extraordinary you are."

He blushed and looked away, clearing his throat to signal a change of topic. "Dad is so protective of me not because he fears my death, not because he guards Mom's memory through me, but because he doesn't understand what I can do. He tries, and perhaps he understands better than most, but there's a part of him that doesn't want to understand."

She reared back. "Are you saying Burt's afraid of you?"


She digested and dwelled on that for a moment. It made sense, she supposed, after a fashion. Burt was a rational man. He was a tactile man. He believed what he could see for himself. He believed only what he could hold in his own hands. He most likely believed in his son, but that didn't mean he wanted this life for Kurt.

"He also resents it," Kurt said softly. "I didn't foresee Mom's death and neither did she, nor did Melinda or Allison. When I saw Patrick in California, he admitted he felt much the same. He didn't blame me for not seeing the deaths of his wife and daughter, but he blamed the others."

Ah, the elusive and mysterious Patrick Jane, she thought.

"It's one thing to scoff at what we can do," he added. "It's something else to know we can do it. However, it's an entirely different animal when you believe in such gifts and they fail you."

"Have you seen her? Suzanne, I mean?" she asked.

"No. I'm sure she crossed over quickly. There was no reason for her to stay. She knew Dad would take care of me."

"Would it have helped if you had seen her?"

He cocked his head. "Honestly? Probably not."

She nodded. "What will you do, now that you're leaving for college? Are you going to continue?"

He smiled wryly. "I can't exactly phone in a resignation. Luckily, I have support, an entire network of people I can turn to if needed."

She nodded absently.

He bit his lip. "Dad wanted me to tell you."

She nodded once. "Was there a particular reason you didn't?"


She snorted. "Understandable."

He looked away. "I was afraid you wouldn't believe me," he admitted, "that you would think I was a freak or something, and leave Dad. You make him happy, happier than he's been in years. That's very important to me, especially now that I'm leaving." He shook his head. "I couldn't live with myself if I destroyed that."

She was horrified. "That would never have happened, but even more importantly, it's not your job to ensure the happiness of others. No matter what might have happened, if your father and I had not worked out, it in no way would have been your fault."

She studied him, knowing he didn't believe her, and she saw the scared, vulnerable little boy he still was, the one he hid from so many, the one whose world had been shattered in more ways than one when his mother died.

Like Burt, she had known, but she hadn't really wanted to know, so she had denied what was right in front of her face because it was easier. She supposed that's what most people did. She couldn't imagine what it must be like to be Kurt, to be unable to deny anything.

"Finn's looking for us," he said.

She forced a smile. "I guess we should go inside, then."

He nodded and waited for her to get him. When she did, he trailed after her.

"I love you, Carole," he whispered.

He hadn't meant for her to hear, so, even as she wiped her tears away, she pretended that she hadn't.

Sometimes it was the only thing you could do.

Kurt and Carole had just finished the meal, leaving everything to simmer until it was to be served, when Burt stomped inside, muttering under his breath.

Kurt emerged from the kitchen, smirking. "Problems?"

Burt shook his head and growled. "Those people."

"Our family, you mean?" Kurt asked, laughing.

"They're not our family!" Burt insisted. "That English chick is freaking loco, son. I don't know what her deal is, but it's time for you to cash out." He shook his head. "The redhead was babbling about I don't know what, and at a speed that left me dizzy. Leena's a nice girl. Myka's fine, as she's always been, but that partner of hers." He pursed his lips. "Is he in love with you?"

Kurt's laughter grew exponentially. "No, Pete just wants everyone to like him. He's a great guy, really, but I admit he's goofy in the extreme. Don't take anything he says to heart. He's a natural flirt and is easily excitable. If Finn and Brittany ever had a love child, it would be Pete Lattimer."

Burt snorted. "Good one."

"How's Katrine?" Kurt asked.

"Your grandmother is fine," Burt said. "Happy to be here, and missing you like crazy."

Kurt smiled softly and ducked his head. "Is it hard for you?"

Burt shrugged for lack of something better to do. "I look at her and see who your Mom would have become had she lived. It's not easy, but, no, it's not hard, either."

"It's just sad?" Kurt suggested.

Burt exhaled as he hung up his hat. "Yeah," he said quietly. "It's sad." He shook his head. "I don't think I ever really appreciated what it did to her, losing your mom. I lost my wife, you lost your mother, Cam lost her sister...but Katrine lost her child." He blinked harshly. "I look at you," he warbled, "and my mind goes to that place..."

"I know," Kurt whispered, "but I'm here, Dad, and I'm okay."

Burt nodded, sniffed loudly, and began puttering around.

Kurt let the subject drop.

"Everyone else get in okay?" Burt called out from the living room.

"Yes," Kurt replied, following his father's voice. "Alex and Allison were no problem, and Camille and Seeley were fine. Brenda had a meltdown at the airport, but got over it."

Burt snorted again, this time in laughter, and shook his head fondly. "That's Brenda."

Kurt grinned.

Finn was nervous.

So many people - his family now, he supposed - that he didn't know were in his house. People of whom he was in awe. People he had heard about on the news.

He sometimes watched the news. It was kind of interesting, but also depressing. He didn't understand why reality television was called reality, when it was so far removed from reality as to be ridonkulous.

He'd seen Brenda on the news a couple of times, when cases she worked had gone national. The first time, Kurt had been all, Hey, Dad, Aunt Brenda's on the news again, without bothering to look up from whatever book in which he had buried his nose. Burt had only grunted.

Finn's eyes had been like pinwheels as his head shook to and fro between them. Kurt was related to that woman? Burt was related to that woman? Even now it boggled his mind.

He'd seen Alex on the news once, too, and Camille a few times.

It was weird, and no one but him thought of it as such.

These people were, like, famous or something. They didn't want to be, and the work they did was real and important. Finn respected that, respected them, and had an entirely new respect for Burt and Kurt Hummel.

Maybe it would have been better if Rachel had been there. Kurt had told him that she was welcome, and had probably even meant it, but Finn had declined. He felt weird asking Rachel to what was essentially a family function. That probably meant something, but he wasn't sure what, so he decided not to think about it.

He felt so out of place.

Kurt, on the other hand, was exhibiting none of the awkwardness Finn usually associated with his brother. It took a moment, but he finally realized that Kurt was interacting with these people as though he were an adult, which is exactly how they treated him.

Huh. Well, maybe it made sense, then, why Kurt was always so frustrated with everyone. Not that Kurt couldn't be immature, because he totally could be, but usually it was in response to how someone had treated him, especially Rachel and Mr. Schue. Heck, even Mercedes.

But Ms. Sylvester treated Kurt like an adult, and Kurt and Santana were...well, they just were.

He shook his head to clear it, inadvertently looking around the room.

These people intimidated him on a massive scale.

Seeley Booth was the worst. Booth kept looking at him as though Finn were an interesting bug. He definitely got the sense that Booth didn't like him, though he had no idea why. Unless, perhaps, Kurt had told him about the many times Finn had been a complete dick to him.


Actually, strike that. Finn was far more intimidated by Brenda Johnson. She was terrifying.

He liked Alex. She was cool and together. Camille was nice, too, though a little cold. Actually, she reminded him a lot of Kurt.

Truth be told, all of them reminded him of Kurt in some way.

Allison and Alex looked a lot alike in that they had blond hair, blue eyes, fair complexions, and similar bone structure. Finn saw these things reflected in Kurt, especially when he thought about the pictures he'd seen of Kurt when he was a kid. Kurt was blond until he was, like, six or something.

Alex was the taller of the two and Allison more full-figured. Alex was very smart and used big words, and Allison had a soft, musical voice. The similarities to Kurt were striking, as were those between Kurt and Brenda.

Brenda had a sharp wit and tongue, and apparently very little patience. She just expected everyone to be as competent as she was, which also echoed Kurt.

Even though Camille was black and the others white, Finn still would have had no problem seeing her as a member of the family. There was the intelligence, the mastery of the eye-roll, the withering glare, and the aloofness which so hallmarked Kurt.

Finn looked at his brother and smiled softly. He'd never seen Kurt so relaxed before. Kurt fit in with these people. He obviously loved them as much as they loved him, and he reveled in it. The wariness Finn often saw in Kurt's eyes was absent now, and the smiles were real and unforced.

Kurt was happy, and Finn was just happy to be included.

And they did include him. All of them had kissed his cheek or shook his hand, telling him to call them Aunt-This or Uncle-That. They cared about him because they loved Kurt, and that meant something to Finn.

He looked around once more. Seeley and Fritz were talking in low voices; Allison and Alex were debating living on their respective coasts; Burt and Brenda were talking about who knew what; Camille and Kurt were conversing in French; and his mom and Kurt's grandma, Katrine, were happily chatting.

Finn wondered if it was weird for the lady. Katrine was a real lady, and had the title to go with it. It must have been strange for her to come here and realize this was no longer her daughter's house, that her daughter's husband was now married to someone else. However, if she was uncomfortable, she showed no signs of it, and appeared genuinely fond of Carole.

He did notice that Camille tended to shy away from Katrine, which made sense, given that her father, Katrine's husband, had had an affair and made a kid with a woman other than his wife. Still, Katrine didn't seem to hold any of it against Cam, and was nothing but effusive with her.

Alex and Allison were now arguing over, of all things, football, of which both were rabid fans, and drew Burt and Finn into their conversation. Kurt rolled his eyes, but smiled fondly. From there, the conversation segued into where Finn was going to college, what he planned on studying, Rachel, and a host of other things.

Finn was beaming from the attention and had no idea he was being interrogated.

They were interrupted when the doorbell rang and Kurt shot up to answer it.

"Must be Myka and her posse," Burt surmised.

"Posse?" Brenda repeated.

Burt just shook his head. "Wait until you meet them."

They all heard greetings, kisses, and a manly squeal. They looked askance at each other over the last one.

Myka then charged into the room and Alex, Allison, and Camille rose and ran to greet her, trapping her in a collective hug.

"It's so good to see all of you!" Myka gushed.

"You look gorgeous," Allison said.

"We've missed you so much," Alex added.

"I love your hair," Camille said.

Myka beamed happily. "Brenda!"

"Oh, Myka!" Brenda exclaimed. "How are you, sweetie?"

"Not as good as you," Myka replied, her hand hovering over Brenda's stomach. "May I?"

"Of course!"

Myka cooed in a baby voice as Brenda giggled.

Kurt cleared his throat, and when the others turned toward him, they noticed that he was being carried on the back of a man who was smiling stupidly.

Fritz and Seeley frowned.

"This is Special Agent Pete Lattimer, Myka's partner," he said, as Pete grinned at everyone, "Agent Steve Jinks, Claudia Donovan, Helena Wells, and Leena."

Greetings were exchanged. Allison was immediately drawn to Leena, and the two began a quiet conversation. Alex and Jinks had some common acquaintances in the ATF and began talking, while Claudia was, for some mysterious reason, fawning all over Burt, and had taken to calling him Uncle. Helena, for whatever reason, was standing near Kurt, almost as though she were guarding him.

Kurt dropped to his feet, only to be trapped in a smothering embrace from Pete, and soon Seeley and Fritz were by their sides smiling tightly and prodding gently at why Pete appeared unable to refrain from touching Kurt.

Once more, Finn looked around the room, marveling at the collection of people, at how they were both similar and so very different, but all united for a common purpose.

He supposed that's what family was all about.

"How did I get roped into this?" Kurt quietly wailed.

Santana snickered. "It's your own fault for being such a fashionista."

He rolled his eyes and continued to pin Brittany's graduation robe so that it resembled something other than a potato sack.

"This color does nothing for my complexion," Quinn said with disgust.

"Well, maybe it would if you weren't so damn pale," Mercedes said with aplomb.

Quinn glared. "And once again with your subtle racist comments. Funny how no one ever calls you on them."

Mercedes rolled her eyes. Quinn was never going to forgive her for saying that white people couldn't sing the blues. She could understand that, especially as Quinn had delivered an amazing performance and Mercedes hadn't bothered to apologize for her words.

"For that to happen, we'd have to care enough about what she says," Puck sniped.

Quinn cackled.

Mercedes glared at both of them. She had already lost her bet with Kurt, and now she was reminded that the first boy she had ever technically dated and the first female friend she'd ever had wanted nothing to do with her. She didn't care for them anymore, either, but it still hurt a little. Of course, blabbing about Beth hadn't been one of her finest hours. She sighed.

There was a time when Kurt would have rushed to her defense, even if she was in the wrong, but that time had passed. She supposed Kurt had had to fight so many of his own battles that he was simply too tired to fight hers. She didn't blame him. Still, it had been nice, having someone who always had your back.

There had been a few times, key times, in which she had not had his, however, and their relationship had never recovered. They were still good friends, but they were now separate entities.

Kurt finished with Brittany, shooting a sympathetic look at Mercedes, and went to touch up Santana's makeup, which led to requests from the other girls.

"I think I'm going to miss you most of all," Santana whispered in his ear.

He turned to her and frowned. "You're acting as though we'll never see each other." He shook his head. "That won't happen. Ever. You call, I come, the end."

"I'd love to make you come," she purred.

He leered at her and leaned over. "You're the only woman who ever could."

She smiled gently and kissed his cheek. "I love you, Rainbow."

"Love you, too, Queen of the Damned."

They laughed.

"I want some of that," Tina chirped, pushing her way in.

"You're always welcome," Kurt whispered, kissing her cheek as Santana hugged her.

"That's even hotter than my dream the other night," Puck observed.

"Why are you so horny all the time?" Mike demanded, shaking his head. "Dude, it's not normal. And stop fantasizing about my girlfriend!"

Puck just waved him off.

Artie, the valedictorian, was frantically rereading his speech and worrying needlessly over it.

"You're going to be fantastic, Artie," Kurt said, smiling. "You, too, Sweetness," he said to Brittany. "I'm so proud of you. Being the class-elected speaker is an honor."

They beamed at him.

"Does everyone know their parts?" asked an almost hysterical Rachel.

Kurt sighed, shook his head, crossed the room, and wrapped his arms around her.

"What is this?" Rachel shrieked. "What's going on? What's happening here?"

"I'm trying to hug you," Kurt said.

"Oh." She frowned, and then grasped him so tightly, the breath was forced out of him. "That's good," she whispered, resting her head on his shoulder. "Thanks."

He patted her back and smiled. "Everything's going to be okay, Rachel. We made it."

"I guess we did," she said, smiling into his neck. "I'm still furious with you for not coming to New York with me, you know," she mumbled.

"I know," he said, "but you belong there. I don't."

She shook her head miserably. "I'm going to miss you."

"I'll miss you, too," he said. And he meant it.

Kurt Hugs, she decided, were extra special, and she didn't plan to let him go anytime soon. It was rare for Kurt to initiate hugs, so she planned to make the most of it. If this was what they felt like, no wonder Finn was always clinging to Kurt.

Indeed, she peeked over her shoulder and noted Finn was looking at them forlornly. It amused to her to wonder of whom he was more jealous: Kurt, or her. Somehow, she suspected it was the latter. She smirked at him and he glared back.

Kurt pulled away once he sensed Rachel was over her mini-meltdown and looked around the room.

He would miss these people.

Granted, his relationships with them had changed over the years: he and Mercedes were still friends, but not as close; he and Santana had become so close it was difficult to know where one ended and the other began; Sam had become the best male friend Kurt had never expected to have; he had renewed his childhood friendships with Artie and Tina, and they were now closer than ever; he had a brother.

His relationship with Noah was much like his with Pete Lattimer, in that it consisted primarily of inappropriate flirting and excessive touching. Noah was very handsy, and neither Santana nor Quinn had been interested in indulging him. Kurt tolerated Noah's need for physical affection because he knew Noah wasn't confident enough to pursue it with other people. It had also helped Kurt himself, who was not by nature an affectionate person, become more used to physical contact.

Mike had become a very good friend, in part thanks to Kurt's relationship with Matt, but though Matt had drawn them into the same orbit, once they were there, they had discovered many things in common.

His relationship with Quinn was odd. They regarded each other as siblings, but they didn't talk very often, nor were they affectionate in public. Most people didn't know they even liked each other. They preferred it that way.

Brittany was Brittany. He adored her and always would.

Yes, he would miss them. At the same time, he was anxious to leave and finally start his life.

Kurt sat with those whose last names began with the same letter as his, most of whom he didn't know. Luckily, Finn was seated right next to him and was holding his hand, more for his own sake than for Kurt's.

Caleb Hofstadter gave them a wary look, eyes fixed on their joined hands.

Kurt merely rolled his eyes, but Finn was having none of it.

"Kurt's my brother," he hissed, "and I can't think of anyone who would touch you with a stolen hand, let alone their own."

Caleb scowled and returned his gaze toward the podium, leaving a triumphant Finn to revel smugly in his victory even as he looked at Kurt in search of praise.

Kurt complied, smiling widely and clasping Finn's hand even more tightly. "That was good," he said from the corner of his mouth. "I'm proud, padawan."

Finn shot him a goofy grin.

Principal Figgins opened the ceremony with a speech which had obviously been recycled over the years and bored even him. He made a lot of remarks about the future, striving for excellence, his skill as an administrator, etc. Basically, he retracted everything he had ever said to every student in the class, or he outright lied, taking credit for successes which were not his.

"You're a complete wanker!" Helena called out, to much applause.

Kurt and Finn snickered as Myka tried and failed to shush her friend.

They both overheard the loud guffaws from Puck and Santana, and Quinn's snort of amusement. Quinn was fairly angry over the entire ceremony. She was the salutatorian, but Figgins had decreed that she would not be allowed to speak. He was not about to condone the poor choices of an unwed teenage mother, despite her academic achievements.

Kurt was the next in line, but Figgins had bypassed him, as well, for obvious reasons. Finally, the principal decided to forego a salutatorian altogether, which had pissed off many, not the least of whom was Rachel, who was next in succession.

Figgins nervously mopped his brow and decided to wrap up things quickly. He extolled the virtues of the Cheerios and made not even a passing mention of New Directions, despite the fact that the glee club had, in fact, taken Nationals that year. Kurt suspected that Sylvester might have had a hand in Figgins' declaration, but he couldn't be sure, since her default attitude toward the principal was rancor.

She appeared annoyed, and had been almost tolerant these past few months. Kurt had long ago surrendered his quest to unravel her and just tried to stay on her good side.

Figgins then introduced Artie as the valedictorian and went to take his seat, conveniently forgetting that Artie had no way to get up on the stage, which was without a ramp. As Artie flushed with anger and embarrassment, Santana stood up on top of her chair and began screaming at Figgins. Brittany, Rachel, and Tina all followed suit, with the other boys loudly supporting them.

It hadn't occurred to any of them that Artie was still stranded.

Kurt growled, stood, and dragged Finn with him over to Artie. He picked the boy up and carried him up the stage, commanding Finn to bring the chair. Finn complied, and once they were all on the stage, Kurt deposited Artie in the chair and wheeled him to the podium, purposefully running over Figgins' feet.

"No, I don't think I hit anything," Kurt said loudly. He glared at Figgins. "Nothing that matters, at any rate."

Figgins flushed as the entire audience got to their feet and cheered.

Kurt snatched the microphone from its holder and handed it to Artie, who took it gratefully and proceeded to deliver a luminous and heartfelt speech.

Artie then introduced Brittany, who sauntered up the stage and stepped on Figgins' feet just on principle. She didn't bother to apologize, which, to those who knew Brittany, signaled her fury.

Kurt, Artie, and Finn remained on the stage as Brittany tearfully rambled for an excessive amount of time, naming everyone in the graduating class and something special about them, even if it was only the neat pair of sneakers Teresa Beck wore one day back in freshman year.

Much of the audience was restless, but to the students, it only cemented Brittany's status as the most beloved member of their class. Her speech was the culmination of the flood of emotions the entire class had been experiencing in the weeks leading up to the ceremony, so to be paid homage by Brittany Pierce, who was universally beloved and cared not a whit about color, creed, gender, or sexual orientation, was a memory they would treasure.

Finally, Brittany exited the stage and returned to her seat, and Figgins began handing out the diplomas, announcing which college, if any, the new graduates would be attending.

Artie was heading off to MIT; Rachel to NYADA; Tina and Mike to Northwestern; Sam to the University of Tennessee; Quinn to Vassar; Kurt to Brown; Finn to SUNY Stony Brook, ostensibly to be close to Rachel; Mercedes to Spellman, where her race would no longer define her character; Santana to UVA; Brittany to Virginia Tech; and Puck was staying relatively local, going to OSU at Columbus.

There was a gravity to the procession which surprised most of those present, and all of the students were appropriately solemn and respectful, though it was apparent they couldn't wait to be done with McKinley once and for all. New Directions, however, made sure to cheer loudly for one another when their names were called, as did the Cheerios and the Titans, despite the poor record of the latter.

Kurt's family and friends were hysterical when it was his turn, and they cheered just as loudly for Finn.

Figgins then announced the academic awards, ceding the podium to the department heads. Kurt took top honors in Physics and Biology; Artie in Mathematics and Computer Science; Santana in History and French; Quinn in Chemistry; Tina in English; and Mike in Spanish.

It was lost on no one that all of the recipients were members of New Directions, the Cheerios, or both.

The ceremony, held in the stadium, at last drew to an end, and Sue Sylvester took center stage, ready to introduce the Cheerios, who would be closing the event. She crowed about their multitude of national titles, including their most recent one. She explained, in painstaking detail, why they - and she, in turn - should be worshiped and held up as exemplars of athleticism.

While she spoke, many students left their seats and raced down to the field, still in their caps and gowns, and the number was far more than it should have been. Due to the swell of excitement, however, this was overlooked.

Sue was in her element, and she made sure to let everyone know it. However, even she finally grew bored of talking about how great she was and decided to wrap it up.

"Current losers, those who graduated McKinley and are still losers, undistinguished faculty, and the rest of the unwashed masses! I am proud of myself and present to you my greatest accomplishment: the Cheerios, lead by the incomparable Alabaster!"

"Who?" many asked, though they nevertheless applauded with enthusiasm.

Only those who knew her well could detect the slight tremor in her voice. No one was aware that she had allowed Kurt to plan the entire spectacle, and though she had checked in on occasion, she had no idea what he had in store.

He'd given her three national titles, however, so she would give him this...and make the rest of his life a misery if he and it failed to meet her expectations, though she doubted that would happen. It was much more likely he would impress the hell out of her and she'd probably have to slap him.

She really was going to miss him, and she kind of hated him for that.

She stood at attention, unmoving, and waited for Kurt Hummel's final extravaganza to be unleashed upon the truly lamentable Lima, Ohio.

End Notes:

Just a quick wrap-up on the many crossover characters that appear in this chapter and the next. This will be covered in the next chapter, as Kurt acquaints his friends with his family, but rather than receive a lot of reviews asking who so-and-so is, I thought it would be simpler to include this key.

Alexandra Cabot is a character from Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. She was, for many years, the Assistant District Attorney assigned to the division. Alex was one of my favorite characters on the show, and I loved her. I miss her. She's played by Stephanie March.

Allison DuBois is the lead character of Medium. Her function is well explained in this chapter and the proceeding ones, so it doesn't bear comment. Her husband is Joe DuBois, and her daughters are Ariel, Bridgette, and Marie. Medium is one of my all-time favorite shows. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it. Allison is played by Patricia Arquette.

Camille Saroyan and Seeley Booth are characters from Bones. Camille is the head of the Medico-Legal Division of the mythical Jeffersonian, based on the Smithsonian. Booth is a Special Agent with the FBI. Camille is played by Tamara Taylor, and Booth by David Boreanaz.

Melinda Gordon is the lead character of Ghost Whisperer, and is played by Jennifer Love Hewitt. Jim Clancy is her husband; Aiden, her son.

Brenda Johnson and Fritz Howard are characters from The Closer, which has now ended and been spun off in Major Crimes. They are played by Kyra Sedgwick and Jon Tenney.

Myka Bering, Pete Lattimer, Claudia Donovan, Steve Jinks, Helena Wells, and Leena are main characters from the show Warehouse 13, on the SyFy Channel. They are played by Joanne Kelly, Eddie McClintock, Allison Scagliotti, Aaron Ashmore, Jaime Murray, and Genelle Williams.

The bolded characters are those related to Kurt, via his parents Burt and Suzanne. Don't fret about how they're related to him. Excepting Camille, they're all cousins on both sides of the family. Camille is Kurt's maternal aunt.

These characters will be included in other chapters, as well as new ones, some of whom were hinted at here in this chapter.

I hope you enjoyed it, and will stay tuned for the next installment, which will see the end of Kurt's time in Lima. You can expect merriment, sadness, and a death.