Kurt and Blaine meet at a summer theater program for children, each being there for a very different reason. What starts as a meeting of two lonely boys blossoms into a friendship that they need to depend on as time and fate make life more difficult than either one of them imagined.

~#~#~#~#~#~

Lima Recreation Center Community Theater – June 2004

The little boy sat in an old wooden chair, one probably sat in by generations of other children before him. He tried to keep his mind on what the guy was saying, something about the rules they would have to abide by this summer. There were a bunch of other kids in here but they were all strangers – well, he thought they probably were, but he hadn't lifted his head to look.

The boy carded his hands through his chestnut hair, what was left of it. It was not even a half an inch long now, not that he cared. He was trying very hard to keep tears from falling down his freckled cheeks. Other kids would make fun of him if he started to cry just because his dad had left him here today. He was suddenly lost in thought, reliving the scene from two weeks ago in his therapist's office.

~#~#~#~#~#~#~

Dr. Keener's Office - April 2004

"Mr. Hummel, can you tell me your concerns with Kurt?" Dr. Keener asked, tapping her pen gently on the pad of paper in front of her and not making eye contact with the sad little boy sitting on the overstuffed chair across from her.

"I know it's a hard time for him, what with his mother dying just a month ago. I get it. I'm sad, too. But I want to do my best for him," Burt said, then looked at Kurt. "Sorry, kiddo. I didn't mean to talk about you like you weren't here. Dr. Keener, I know it is normal for us to miss Elizabeth, but a few days ago I found Kurt hiding behind my bed with a pair of scissors. He had cut off all his hair in big chunks and all that was left was some tufts here and there. I had to take him to the barber and just have his head shaved down."

"That is something that kids will do, sort of an experiment to see if they can control something in their lives when everything else seems so uncontrollable. It isn't a sign of mental defect," she said, and stopped to write a note on her pad.

"Okay, but when Kurt won't eat and wakes up every night five or six times I don't know what to do. Kurt, my sweet boy," Burt again made eye contact with his son, "I want to know if there is anything I can do to help."

Dr. Keener wrote on the pad again. Her pen scratched on the paper, making Kurt's skin crawl with the sound. He rubbed his upper arms as if it was cold in the room.

"Kurt, does the sound of my pen bother you?" she asked, finally looking over at the small boy.

"Yes, ma'am. I don't want to cause any trouble, though. You can keep using it, I'll be okay," he said.

"That is very kind of you, Kurt. However, I do have another pen." She got up from her chair and rummaged through her desk for a minute, coming up with another pen and sat back down.

"Mr. Hummel? Can you step out of the room? Right through that door is another room you can wait in. There is a television and some crossword puzzle magazines in there. I will speak to you again before you leave," Dr. Keener said, getting up to escort him into the next room.

Coming back to sit down, the doctor smiled at Kurt, "Now, I was wondering if you would like to tell me about your mother?"

Forty minutes later, Kurt was asked to sit in the room and Burt was ushered back into the psychiatrist's office.

"I don't think there is any personality disorder or mental illness evident in your son, Mr. Hummel. I do detect a tendency toward what society thinks of as feminine roles but he is quite clear in his identification of himself as a boy..." Dr. Keener started.

"Hey, hey, hey...wait just a damned minute. You might be a doctor and have all kinds of fancy medical degrees and highfalutin certificates, but there is nothing wrong with my son in that regard. So he likes colorful clothes and having tea parties instead of climbing trees in dirty blue jeans, but he's my son and he can do those things if he wants..." Burt burst forth.

Dr. Keener held up her hand to stop him. "No, no...Mr. Hummel! You misunderstand me. There is nothing wrong with any of that. I was going to say that in my professional opinion you have been an excellent parent, the best Kurt could ever hope for. You are kind, caring and accepting. Many boys in Kurt's situation are not so lucky."

Burt snorted, but didn't interrupt her.

"What I see is a little boy that has lost the person dearest to his heart and he is grieving. Cutting his hair is just an attempt to regain some control over himself, he is feeling lost. With your support, I can see him getting much better with a little time. I'm not going to recommend any medication at this time, because he just needs to be allowed to grieve. I'm going to ask that you bring Kurt back every other week for a while, so I can monitor his progress, but I think what might help is to get his mind on something else. Perhaps an organized sport, such as little league or soccer?" She looked over at Burt, who was shaking his head 'no'. "How about an art program of some sort? Not an isolated one like painting, but a group activity...a community theater group meets twice a week at the recreation center and Kurt might get some enjoyment out of that."

~#~#~#~#~#~#~

Lima Recreation Center Community Theater – June 2004

Kurt's dad had enrolled him in the summer theater program for children, and here he was. He touched the floor with his toe, rubbing out a scuff mark with his shoe. He tried to think of something other than how bad he was feeling when there was a disturbance at the door.

"My daddies said I would get the starring role!" a shrill voice sounded from the hallway. Kurt looked up. He knew that voice from his second grade class. He smiled a bit, knowing if Rachel Berry was here, this might be some fun after all. That girl knew how to pitch a fit like nobody he had ever met. A small smile threatened the corner of his mouth, but he looked down again.

Suddenly there was a warm hand tucking itself into his. He jumped a bit and brought his eyes up to see a small boy sitting next to him. Two huge hazel brown eyes were glued to his and Kurt was unable to even speak. It was like he was being hypnotized. The boy had a mop of curly black hair that hung down almost in his eyes. He flipped some of the curls back with a jerk of his head and looked intently at Kurt's face. The boy sat looking at Kurt, then a smile slowly materialized on his dusky pink lips and Kurt couldn't help but smile back.

"Hey, you look sad. Don't be sad, I'll be your friend here. Okay?" the curly haired boy asked, his whisper sincere and friendly.

"Okay. Thank you. My name is Kurt."

"I'm Blaine, and we're going to be good friends, Kurt."

#~#~#~#~#~

Anderson Kitchen – April 2004

"Cooper!"

"Yes, Mom?"

"Where is your brother?"

"Playing at the park with that brat from down the block. His mom was with them, so I figured he was safe, okay? I had some stuff to get done."

"You mean the Smythe kid? I didn't think Blaine even liked Sebastian. You just dumped Blaine on that poor woman, didn't you?"

"Aw, Mom. I just wanted a few minutes to myself. I have a life, too, you know. Why am I the babysitter?" Coop complained.

"Because you live in this house and your father and I feed you and clothe you, young man. I know you're up to no good with that girl you hang around. It will do you some good to have some responsibility this summer."

"But Mom, I don't have any time to myself at all. I have that kid up my butt all day every day. It's bad enough during the school year, but summers are the worst."

"Well, your father and I cannot just stop doing business because you want to hang around your girlfriend and be lazy all summer. You are eighteen years old and you have to take some responsibility. How much trouble can an eight year old get into? If it's really that bad, sign him up for some summer activity. Leroy and Hiram put their daughter in a community theater group for the summer. That will take care of three hours a day twice a week. Use your brain for once, Cooper."

"He is such a pain in my ass. Yeah, I can dump him off there. Thanks, Mom."

Blaine, who was sitting under the kitchen window because Sebbie Smythe had told him to get lost, heard all of this. He wiped the tears from his eyes and walked over to sit on his swing until dinner time.

~#~#~#~#~#~#~#~#

Lima Recreation Center Community Theater – June 2004

Rachel flounced into the room, glaring at the doorway where one of the directors of the community theater was standing, her arms crossed and a frown on her face. Rachel rolled her eyes and walked back into the hallway. The conversation could be heard in the room.

"Now, Mr. Berry. I understand that you give a generous fund to this community theater every year, and it is appreciated by each and every member of the troupe. But we cannot allow that to color our choices when it comes to picking the plays we do or casting said plays. It has to be fair to all involved – thus the name "Community" in the title. Rachel is welcomed to try out for any part she wishes, but the final cast of each play is in the hands of the directors. Now, we will see you at three o'clock when you come to collect your daughter. Goodbye, Mr. Berry."

Kurt looked at his new friend, Blaine, and caught him looking back. They shared a quiet smirk. This theater thing might turn out to be a lot more fun than they had thought.

Rachel was still standing in the middle of the floor, arms crossed and toe tapping in annoyance. She looked around and saw Kurt Hummel sitting in a chair holding the hand of another boy, a smaller one with a mop of curls and big, soulful hazel eyes. The chair on the other side of Kurt was empty, so Rachel walked over and sat down. She looked at Kurt's head for a moment, shrugged her shoulders and smiled at him.

"Hi, Kurt. I didn't know you wanted to be an actor," she said. Kurt made a sort of non-committal noise and then gave her a half smile. He looked back down at his lap.

"What did your dad do to your hair, Kurt?" Rachel asked, now openly staring at him.

Kurt blushed all the way up his neck and turned his head, wishing with all his might that he could sink into the floor.

Rachel tapped her foot, waiting for an answer.

"Ah, Rachel? I'm Blaine. Kurt and I are friends and I think he doesn't want to talk about his hair right now. What school do you go to?" Blaine squeezed Kurt's hand and took over the conversation so as to steer Rachel away from tormenting Kurt. He spoke to Rachel for a few minutes before the director walked to the front of the room and tapped her chalk on the chalkboard. All eyes went to her and the participants quieted down.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the Lima Community Theater for Children. I am the director, Ella McGregor. Each year we put on two plays. We do some acting classes and work on learning to memorize scripts and we do fun projects like read parts of plays to develop confidence. All parts in the plays will be cast after try-outs. Everyone is welcome to try out for any roles. You may not know very many people here today, but by the end of the summer, you will know everyone."

Ella went on to explain Reader's Theater and the boys and girls were allowed to pick a partner to read with. Rachel turned in her chair to ask Kurt, but his attention was already taken up with the new boy, Blaine. They were still holding hands and Blaine appeared to be calming Kurt down by rubbing his arm in a gentle way.

Rachel was sorry for Kurt. She had been to his mother's funeral and understood when her daddies told her about Elizabeth Hummel having leukemia. It made Rachel sad because she liked Mrs. Hummel, who baked cup cakes for the school parties and helped when the class went to visit the zoo and the museum. Rachel wanted to help, but she had never had a mother, so she didn't understand what it would be like to miss one. The thought of losing one of her fathers was scary, though.

As it turned out, there were enough for everyone to be in a pair, with only one left over. Rachel had counted on being partnered with Kurt and hadn't asked anyone else, so she was all alone. She started to get upset when a hand touched her shoulder.

"Rachel? Kurt and I want to know if you will be in our group?" Blaine asked, looking at her with his big eyes. She smiled, happy to be included.

"Yes, I will. Thank you," Rachel said.

They were all given scripts to read and sent to different parts of the theater to practice. Kurt, Blaine, and Rachel went up to the balcony, looking around to be sure they were alone. They each read through their parts – the three had been given lines from "The Wizard of Oz" - and grew bored quickly.

"Kurt, I didn't mean to upset you earlier. Why did your dad cut your hair so short – Oh! I'm sorry, did you have lice or something?" Rachel asked, putting her fingers over her mouth in shock.

"No! Rachel Berry, I did not have lice. I just wanted to have my hair gone. So I tried to cut it, and I messed it up so Dad took me to his barber," Kurt said in a quiet voice, his eyes begging Rachel to just drop it.

"But why?" she persisted. "You had such beautiful hair."

"I..I..." Kurt stopped and just sat there, then tears began to run down his face.

"Rachel, leave him alone! Kurt, it's okay. You don't have to tell anyone. Come here," Blaine said, hugging Kurt around the neck. Kurt just leaned into his new friend and sighed.

"You'll be okay, Kurt. I'll always be your friend," Blaine whispered into his ear.

They sat back down and read the script together, Rachel doing the part of Dorothy, Blaine the Scarecrow, and Kurt the Tin Man. By the end of the hour, they had read it several times and were comfortable enough with each other.

Mrs. McGregor called the children back to the circle and asked them to sit in the chairs and pay attention.

"I hope you made some good friends today. On Thursday we'll be reading our parts just like they do in Reader's Theatre, then next week we can try out for parts in this summer's production of "The House at Pooh Corner". I'm looking forward to seeing you on Thursday."

Rachel walked out to wait on the grass for her dad to pick her up. She had been afraid of coming here, afraid she wouldn't be able to make friends and afraid that the other kids would resent her talent. It was such a relief when she saw Kurt sitting there. They weren't close friends, but at least she knew him and he was nice to her. Plus, the other boy, Blaine, was nice.

Kurt and Blaine walked out to wait. Burt was there in just a few minutes and opened the door for Kurt, smiling at the little girl he knew was in Kurt's class. Hiram Berry's girl, but he couldn't recall her name.

"Dad," Kurt said in a soft voice, "can we wait until Blaine's brother picks him up? He's scared his brother will forget him and I don't want him to be scared." Kurt looked up at his father, his big blue eyes filling with tears. Burt had taken his lunch hour to come get Kurt and had to get back to the shop, but looking at his son's face was all he needed to convince himself this was more important.

"Sure, kid, no problem. Want to introduce him to me?" Burt asked, his warm hand on his son's shoulder to comfort him.

Kurt went back to Blaine and took his hand, leading him to his car where his dad was waiting.

"Dad, this is Blaine Anderson. Blaine, this is my dad, Burt Hummel."

Blaine held out his hand to shake with this large man. He was scared, he wasn't often introduced to adult men and this one was very intimidating. He looked gruff, frowning as he looked at the group of kids at the door of the building. His eyes focused on Kurt for a second and a warmth filled him. Blaine could see how just that one glance at Kurt made Mr. Hummel calm and happy. He wished with all his might that one day his own father might look at him like that.

Burt saw Blaine's hand and saw it trembling a little, but the kid's gaze never wavered as he looked up at him. Burt took the kid's hand and shook it. This kid had courage was the first thing Burt observed about Blaine. He smiled down at the kid and got a small smile in return.

Kurt had moved closer to the boy, his arm snaking around his waist. Burt saw his son comforting another boy and it warmed his heart that in the midst of his grief he had reached out to another person that needed him.

"I hear we are waiting for your...ah..brother?" Burt asked, trying to remember what Kurt had said.

"Yes, sir. You don't have to wait if you don't want to, I'm used to waiting for him. It was kind of you to offer," Blaine said in words that sounded rehearsed and not something that came naturally out of the mouth of an eight year old. Burt wondered how often this boy had to make excuses for his brother.

"Hello, Mr. Hummel," Rachel walked up. She couldn't stand being left out of anything.

"Hi, sweetheart, how are you?" Burt said, smiling at the girl, trying to think of her name. Then it came to him. He remembered her fathers introducing her at Elizabeth's funeral.

"Did you have fun today, Rachel?" he asked.

"Yes, I did. I hope to be a lead in the play, but since there are many parts I'm sure Kurt will get one, too," she said with sincerity, smiling at Kurt.

"Well, I hope you all have fun," Burt said, wondering when Blaine's brother would show up.

Hiram Berry drove up, spotted Rachel and waved out his car window.

"Hello, Burt! I see you enrolled Kurt in the Community Theatre!" he greeted.

Burt nodded his head. Rachel got in the car and Hiram waved as he pulled away from the curb. There was no sign of Blaine's brother.

Burt gave up and walked over to a bench in front of the building and sat with the boys as they told him all about the class. The class had let out at three but it was almost five before a loud muffler on a beat-up car sounded down the block. Blaine stiffened and got up.

"Mr. Hummel, thank you for sitting with me. I apologize for my brother, I'm sure there was a reason he is so late in picking me up. I don't think it will happen again," Blaine tried to explain, and Burt could tell this wasn't the first time the kid had to make an apology for his brother.

"It was no trouble at all, kid. I guess we'll see you on Thursday," he said, smiling at the little kid. If anyone needed a friend, this was the kid.

Kurt went over and hugged Blaine, "I'll see you on Thursday, Blaine."

The old car drove up to the curb, the teenager driving honking as if he couldn't see Blaine was standing a few feet away. "Hurry up, Squirt! I don't have all day."

Blaine ran to the other side of the car and jumped in, barely getting his seat belt on before Cooper pulled away and skidded his tires at the end of the block.

Burt turned to Kurt, motioning for him to get in their truck.

"Dad, thank you for letting me wait with Blaine. I think he's scared to be by himself, and I think he's by himself a lot," Kurt said.

"I think you're right, Kurt. Maybe you can invite him over to visit. Or maybe I can give him a lift home after the classes. He seems like a nice boy, is he in your class at school?"

"No. They just moved here. Maybe he will be next fall. He's my best friend here, though," Kurt smiled at the thought of his new friend.

Lima Recreation Center Community Theater – July 2004

Over the next few weeks, the Community Theatre classes were the highlight of Kurt's week. He could sit with Blaine and sometimes Rachel and practice lines, talk about what they hoped to do one day. All three of the friends wanted to be on Broadway. The had friendly competition and all tried out for the roles in The House at Pooh Corner. On a Tuesday, the cast list was going to be posted and the three friends could hardly wait.

Entering the building, Rachel ran to be first to see the list posted on the wall. She had tried out for several parts but really wanted to be Christopher Robin. She wasn't disappointed.

"I got it! I'm Christopher Robin!" she shouted. The role appealed to her because she thought Christopher Robin was the most important one.

Both Blaine and Kurt hugged her.

"I'm glad you got your part," Blaine said, smiling at her. A lot of the kids didn't like Rachel. She always wanted to be in the center of the group, always pushing herself to do her very best at all times and the other kids didn't understand that. Blaine did. He had similar ambitions, but in a slightly different way. He wanted to be important to his family, especially to his father. He worshiped his father and looked for his approval. Unfortunately his dad was a busy man and while he loved Blaine with all his heart, he didn't have a clue how to relate to him. Cooper had figured this out early in life and had shifted his focus to pleasing his teachers and his grandparents. He barely acknowledged his father at all and it worked for both of them. He had tried to explain this to Blaine, but the kid wouldn't listen.

"Go see if you guys got your parts," Rachel encouraged. She had seen the cast list and knew already, but seeing your name on the list was exciting and she didn't want to take that away from her friends.

Kurt walked over to the board, his hand wrapped tightly in Blaine's. They looked and saw that they had both gotten their first choices in the play: Blaine was Piglet and Kurt was Winnie the Pooh. They grinned at each other.

In the guise of having to rehearse, Blaine started hanging out at Kurt's house during the days they didn't go to Community Theatre. They did practice, sometimes with Rachel joining them. Burt couldn't be home with Kurt and he was too young to be left alone, so he had asked Kurt's grandmother, Elizabeth's mother, to come and stay with Kurt during the days, and it worked fine for all concerned. Betsy Higgins needed something to occupy her days now that her husband was passed away and Kurt loved his grandmother. She had moved in the house just after Elizabeth's funeral and it worked out fine for all. She could teach Kurt to bake and garden, not thinking it strange at all that a little boy would prefer those things above soccer and comic books.

Betsy was not the spry woman she had been only a few years ago and her daughter's death had aged her. Feeling wanted and needed in the Hummel house was a blessing to her, but she slept a lot and wasn't able to walk up the stairs where Kurt and Burt's bedrooms were. Kurt was a conscientious boy and stayed out of trouble and he often had Blaine over to rehearse for the upcoming play. After an hour or so of reading the lines and memorizing them, they would get restless and go in the back yard to play.

Burt had built Kurt a tree house and the boys spent hours in it, just talking and singing or reading. They grew to be so comfortable it didn't matter what they were doing, they did it together. They often ended up in the family room, laying together on the sofa eating popcorn and watching movies.

"Kurt, are we going to be friends forever?" Blaine asked one day while they sat in the tree house eating a bowl of grapes. That was the ending line of the play, when Pooh and Piglet walk away together.

"Of course we are, Blaine. Even if we move away from each other, you will always be my best friend. Always."

Blaine smiled. Even when he hated everyone and everything, which happened too often in his young life, he was always sure of Kurt. He thought of Kurt as being the one thing in his life that would always remain constant. He smiled and curled up beside his friend on the pile of cushions they had dragged up the stairs of the tree house. They fell asleep in the shade of the huge ash tree where Burt had built the tree house, Blaine's head resting on Kurt's chest and Kurt holding Blaine's hand in his as though they didn't have a care in the world.

The night of the play, and the last night of the Community Theatre classes, the boys were at Kurt's house getting ready. They had on their costumes and were so excited to be doing the play in front of all their families. Blaine's folks had promised to be there, but he had elected to get ready with Kurt to be on time for the play.

The play went perfectly. Everyone remembered their lines, the costumes fit, the make-up was perfect. The scenery that had been made by the students was whimsical and cute. All the parents were in the audience and the actors were a bit nervous. As usual, Blaine was the calming influence as he spoke a word or two to everyone, complementing each one on their costume or make-up, reassuring them they would remember their lines, and giving a few a hug. Rachel was confident on the surface, keeping her head high and a smile pasted on her face. She looked confident, but Blaine and Kurt knew the pressure she placed on herself to do and be the best. She had a drive to excel that neither one could really understand, it was enough for them to know it was there.

"Hey, Rachel, you're going to be great out there," Kurt said, walking up in back of her as she sat getting her hair pinned up so the wig for Christopher Robin would fit. She started to give him one of her stock answers about how she didn't need any more encouragement, she was fine. But this was Kurt, and Blaine was right behind him, slipping his hand into hers.

"Thank you, Kurt, Blaine. You are the best friends a girl could have you know."

They smiled and then Mrs. McGregor called them to get in their places on stage. Kurt started to move, he was the only one on the stage in the first part and had to be on his mark before it could start. Blaine took his hand and pulled him closer.

"I know you will be great," Blaine whispered in Kurt's ear, then leaned forward and kissed him on his rosy freckled cheek. Kurt smiled. He knew he would be okay now, Blaine believed in him. He walked onto the stage with his head up.

All during the play, Blaine would glance out at the audience to see if his parents were there. He hadn't been able to find them in the crowd, but they had said they would be there. Maybe they were in the back where it was dark and he couldn't spot them. Kurt had been looking, too. He had met Mrs. Anderson once, but had never seen Mr. Anderson. He looked for Cooper, but didn't see him. He was angry because Blaine wanted them to be there so badly. He knew his dad would clap for Blaine and take them all out for ice cream after, but it would not be the same if Blaine's parents didn't show.

Just before the second act, Kurt was looking out of the curtains while Blaine was sitting in a chair, looking at the cuff of his Piglet costume and tucking it in over and over. He was trying to keep the tears from falling and ruining the play for everyone else. Aside from Kurt as Pooh, he had the most lines and he was sometimes forgetful, so he had a script open and was skimming over the words.

"Blaine!" Kurt said in a stage whisper. "Blaine. Come here!"

"Mrs. McGregor said we aren't supposed to be looking out of the curtains, it isn't professional," Rachel said to Kurt, but he just gave her a frown and she walked away.

"What, Kurt?" Blaine said in his sad voice.

"Quit sounding like Eeyore, your parents are here," Kurt said and a smile lit up Blaine's entire face. He peeked out of the slit in the curtains and there in a middle row was Cooper. He looked like he was sorry to be seen there, but at least he had shown up. Right beside him was his girlfriend, Jenn, and on the other side of her were his mother and father.

"Oh, Kurt! They came!" Blaine whispered back, bouncing as he told his friend.

"Okay, first you're Eeyore, now you're Tiggr?" Kurt teased as Blaine picked him up and whirled him around in a circle.

"Yes!" he said, too loudly and Mrs. McGregor gave him a look. He blushed but couldn't stop the smile from his face.

"Time to hit your marks, children," she directed and Blaine ran out behind the curtain and stood on his mark. Kurt got ready to walk on at his cue and Rachel came up beside him, sliding her hand into his. He turned to her, this wasn't something Rachel did very often, and saw the smile on her face looking at Blaine. He squeezed her hand in understanding and they moved to be ready to enter the stage.

The rest of the play went on without a hitch, everyone remembered their lines, everyone shone brightly, but Blaine shone the brightest of all.

After the play ended, they were called back on stage for a second bow and Kurt grinned to see his father clapping and whistling. He looked over a the Anderson family just as Cooper whistled the loudest and his mother tapped the back of his head to tell him to behave. It made Blaine grin from ear to ear when he heard Cooper whistle.

Afterwards, the actors changed into their street clothes and handed the costumed back to the wardrobe mistress. Mrs. McGregor hugged each one of the students and thanked them for being so awesome. Kurt and Blaine hugged Rachel and made plans to meet the next week before school started. They wanted one last day at Kurt's house to just be kids before the stress of school started over again. At least this time, Kurt thought, Blaine would be there.

The two boys walked outside the building where their parents were waiting, Blaine proudly introduced his father to Kurt and to Kurt's dad. Mr. Anderson was polite and smiled at Kurt then shook Burt's hand.

"Thank you for having my Blaine over this summer, it was a relief to know he was in good hands, Mr. Hummel," Mr. Anderson said. Burt nodded.

Kurt wondered what was going on. His father hated being called 'Mr. Hummel' and always invited people to call him 'Burt' instead. He didn't say anything, but Blaine held his hand tighter.

"You all did an excellent job, Kurt. I liked the play very much," Mrs. Anderson said.

"Thank you, ma'am," he responded. She had never asked him to call her by her first name, either and he wondered what it was.

"Mom, Burt asked us to go out for ice cream as a celebration. Can we go?" Blaine asked his mother, knowing she would be more likely to respond favorable then his father.

"Oh, Blaine, we need to get home. Your father and I have a meeting with the corporate secretary in the morning in Columbus. Maybe another time, honey," Mrs. Anderson said. She hugged her son and Mr. Anderson patted his head.

"Good job, son. You made us proud," he told Blaine and the smile on Blaine's face could outshine the sun. Suddenly it didn't matter if his parents took him to get ice cream, his father said he was proud.

"Would you like to come with us, if it's okay with your folks?" Burt asked and Mrs. Anderson nodded her consent, patting Blaine on the shoulder.

"Of course, that would be nice. Thank you, Mr. Hummel. It was nice to meet you," she said politely.

"Nice to meet you, Hummel," Mr. Anderson said, then turned to walk to his car.

After they left, Cooper smiled at his brother.

"You were great, Squirt. I need to get Jenn home, I'll see you later. Oh, you were great, too, Kurt," Coop said and gave his little brother a hug.

Jenn smiled at the two boys and waved goodbye, catching up with Cooper and putting her arm around his waist as they walked down the street to their car.

"Let's go," Burt said, trying to appear to be in a good mood after meeting Blaine's parents. He could hardly believe how oblivious they were. He went to Kurt and kneeled down to bring him into a hug. "You were really great on stage, kiddo," he said, "I love you."

Then he turned to Blaine, pulling him into a hug, too. "You were really great, too, Blaine. Your folks and I were all proud of you," he told the small boy. "And just so you know, I love you, too, Blaine. You're a good kid."

Burt straightened up and walked quickly to the truck before he could see the look in Blaine's eyes, taking his handkerchief out to blow his nose before getting into the seat. He didn't want to think about what the kid was going through because the pitiful way he grabbed onto the fact that his dad said just those few words and Blaine was ecstatic. Were words like that so hard to come by for Blaine? Burt thought so. He could tell something was wrong by the way Blaine clutched onto Kurt and himself whenever he visited, but he didn't know what to do about it. He popped the lock open on the other door and Kurt and Blaine got in as they drove to the ice cream parlor. Blaine was cheerful and grinned the whole time, still happy his father has said he was proud of him.