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Borne of Habit

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Finn is the one who could have been there. Finn is the one who should have stopped it from happening. Finn is the one who is supposed to be the leader, and the brother. Finn is the one who finds him… Really, though, he has to.

Like it's Fate; like she has purposely intertwined their two souls and conjured a state of empathetic means. Since the whole ‘I Yelled at Kurt's Room and Got Kicked Out’ ordeal, a tie that could not be severed was formed. And in that, an unexpected brotherly sense of protection was born over the younger (despite the age gap more than minor), and grew into – unsaid – norms of friendship and family. And now, after the drama and hurt and complications, both Finn and Kurt would not have it any other way.

They simply wouldn't want to.

The lingering cold of the classroom settles into his skin, an involuntary shiver announced within his body, but he cannot find himself to care. With a watchful eye of the man at the chalkboard, he shimmies his phone out of his pocket, quickly stacking it into a sneaked position behind the folders positioned on the very edge of the table.

Hey dude, text me back

No response.

Where are u?

Ten minutes roll through, and it feels like a lifetime.

Blaine's worried

Maybe if he mentioned the boyfriend, (despite the fact he hasn't spoken to the black haired boy) his brother would get out of whatever mood he decided to be in today and actually respond to his more than frantic messages.

And yet, another ten minutes spark.

A sigh, and a hand brushes across his hairline.

If this is about me using your cream 2 put on my ankle, im sorry :(

Burt had told him Kurt bore supplements for just about everything in his room (no surprise there), and after Hudson sprained his ankle in practise, he sought the younger room, discovering he had a healing ointment just for that. When questioning the reason behind it, apparently Kurt came prepared after his first – and only – football game.

As the kicker.

Yes, Finn accidentally used the wrong cream, but 'accident' was the key word in the whole experience.

I didnt know it was apart of ur face-night time care

The class is half-way over. And even if Kurt was mad at him, the younger wouldn't resist an opportunity to rub it in Finn's face in a construction and language he would only pretend to understand. Even if he was mad, he wouldn't skip class, thus miss the chance to silently comment about their teachers fashion sense as he sits in the back with Mercedes.

"Ah," he would say, "today he has gone for the ‘please help me I’m homeless but apparently can afford to fuse a technicolour blazer with nothing but what seems to be Walmart trousers’ look. "

And yet… the opposite end was silent.

Dude, come on.

Finn is eventually pulled from his thoughts by the embarking stare of Mr. Greene, evidently having torn the device from his hands, confiscating it until the end of his English lesson. Not before he is able to grab a quick view of a message from Tina, something about Kurt not being in first class Home Ec.

The temptation to claim a family emergency is high within his bones, though he had no such evidence. For all he knew, Kurt would make an entrance in the next minute. It was his first English class back, and Finn should only expect Hummel to create the mood of a fabulous, arriving late and making a scene moment; it was merely in his nature. He stares at the door, willing for this to happen.

Soon, to distract himself, he instead drums his fingers against his thigh under the desk, mirroring the previous tapping of his index finger and thumb against the phone. Unconsciously, his attention continues to be drawn to the back corner seat of the classroom, where Mercedes sits in isolation as opposed to the usual company. She and Finn don't share concerned glances per say, but a mere sense of knowledge.

Knowledge that Kurt isn't there.

He gives Blaine a call when the class is let out, and while it turns straight to voicemail, he leaves a message.

He decides against calling Burt – there wasn't reason to call the man. If he called Burt, then it would actually, in a sense, seem real: that there was something wrong.

Hell, for all Finn knew, his step-father knows exactly where the boy is. Maybe he was feeling sick and went home. Maybe he's already alerted his father of the reason behind his disappearance and when Finn came home that afternoon, he would be met with the uptight attitude of his brother, still pissed about the minor loss of his cream. Albeit the strange, sinking feeling within the pit of his stomach shall not cease, and the boy can't help but assume the worst. Especially given the fact that a quick glance around the classroom before leaving showed a severe lack of letter men jackets.

Since Kurt's transfer back to McKinley, yes, Karofsky had died down, even begun the pathetic excuse of protection towards the boy, (along with Santana – he still didn't know where that came from). Though that didn't mean the rest of the jocks, that Azimio had halted his actions in continuing hierarchy within the halls of McKinley High.

Finn had promised, twice, that he would keep Kurt safe. And since he failed the first time he wouldn't do it again.

So, with a heartfelt dedication, he directs himself towards the cafeteria, trying to rid the worrisome boy from his mind. And, momentarily, he manages to. Scooting in upon the groups table, he automatically shifts into Quinn's side, pushing the practical slop upon a tray into the centre to indicate it was up for grabs. It wasn't only the foul smell and sign of unholy mixtures that turned him off it; he just wasn't feeling up to his normal appetite for the day.

"Where's Hummel?" Noah soon questions after the topic of conversation is changed (Finn unaware of what it was), muffled by the food in his mouth, lips slightly drooled of the flowing liquid that could not be contained. A snarky, 'would you jump in his grave that quickly?' from Santana, watching in disgusted hues and furrowed brows as he took no time in calling Finn's meal his own. Though the taller takes no notice to it, or to anything for that matter. Dazed momentarily, his oculars instead find landing upon the window straight ahead of him - the one just above the table that no one sits at because its heated rays are far too much on a summer's day.

Kurt had taught them that: claimed he was saving them all from slowly developing skin cancer.

"-inn. Finn. Finn!"

Snapping from his seeded thoughts, he distantly hears Mercedes explain that Kurt is a social hoe and shouldn't be surprised if he doesn't sit with them, and that most lunches he is on the phone with Blaine, anyway. He is also met with the sharp glare of his girlfriend, 'are you even listening to me?' and the raised brows of the other New Directions.

Before he has even a chance to open his mouth in response, the vibration from his phone alarms against his leg, and without a breath he scoops it up.

"Blaine! Is Kurt with you?"

Hudson manages to ignore sudden pang of concern spread amongst each of his friends faces – even Puck – but brushes them off as soon as the calming tone from the other end corners him.

"No, Finn – what's wrong? What's happened to Kurt?"

The message left on Blaine's phone, he now realises, was perhaps a tad dramatic. Already placing Kurt into the position of an injured state, where, really, no one could find him. That was all. He wasn't even gone long enough for it to be considered gossip yet. Finn can sense the concern ridden behind the boy's words, though he manages to keep just like the Dalton uniform: stable, calm and poised. He'd really have to ask how he does that.

A breath, "I just can't find him… have you spoken to him?"

A pause, and it is the longest, most daunting endurance he thinks he has ever experienced.

"You- you can't find him? What… where else would he be, apart from being with you, Finn?"

The boy decides to brush past the accusatory timbre in the other's voice. Blaine was more than hesitant about Kurt transferring back, not in the slightest believing Karofsky’s apology, and that he was going to leave the bullying and hate behind. Dave promised and Kurt believed him (or perhaps he was just clouded by his sheer desire to return to his friends), and Finn, for the first time, followed in Kurt’s actions.

Blaine, however…

"Look, dude, I was just wondering if you've spoken to him. I know he's been catching up on some school work with his teachers, so he's probably off doing that. I shouldn't have called."

Finn can practically see Blaine brush a hand through his hair, accompanied by furrowed, worried brows, "yeah, that sounds like him. Would you- would you get him to call me when you talk to him next?"

The phone conversation ends with Finn assuring him, 'yeah man' and he hangs up with a smile. Quickly fading as he turns back towards his friends.

Unconsciously clenching his teeth behind sealed lips; afraid that if he opens them, desperate confessions will ramble out. He squirms a little in his seat. He had convinced himself that Kurt was off doing who-knows-what with his boyfriend but that idea practically broke apart in front of him when contacting the Warbler. And even so, Kurt had never skipped a class in his life, and English was a personal favourite. He takes charge however, after a quick review of the morning (backed up by Tina, who explained Kurt wasn’t in first period, either). He instructs a split group amongst the teens, simply with the aim of stalking school and finding Kurt.

Puck claiming they skip the next class as the halls would be empty, and it would be easier to find the kid. And if he needed to hit anyone it could be done without swarming crowds of infesting students, the ones who feed upon the slightest taste of disorder. That would have to be considered development for Puck, as these days he preferred to have a reason to ‘beat the crap’ out of someone; rather than just doing it.

They would find Kurt, and then 'grill him' (as Mercedes so pleasantly suggested) for making them worry. Even if there was nothing to really worry about. He had only been back a week, and consistent supervision was still settling within each member of the Glee Club – he needed to be safe. Finn knew this better than any. He was just freaked because he was back, and a minute in separation without one member of the group by his side formed silent chaos. He has assumed the worst, and evidently planted the same fear into the heads of his friends.

Kurt was fine. Kurt was always fine.

In the end, before his life evidently changes, and he is provoked to an image that shall never leave his conscience, he leaves twenty one missed calls, sixty messages, and eleven voice messages.

And all he wants is for Kurt to yell at him for taking up so much space on his phone, and then him having to grudgingly delete the unneeded content.

He wants Kurt to yell at him so that he can rid himself of these sickening ideas that continue to swarm his head.

***

The classrooms are briefly checked, sticking his head into the doorways without care that the classes are progressing. When the block is checked, he rounds the corner and follows up the next row. Expecting to hear some sort of theme music that accompanies him like a horror movie; daunting and expressive, like something is going to jump out and give him a heart attack.

'I'll Stand By You' is alternatively heard from a distance and Finn recognises it as the allocated ringtone his brother chose for him no more than a week after he sung it. In its thirty second duration, Finn automatically presses the 'call back' button, though he is met with voicemail immediately, and his heart jumps off a cliff.

Instead, 'Bitch' is played, and he remembers it's the song Kurt used for Santana simply because she’d requested. He follows that, phone clenched harshly in hand, as he hurries through the now cleared hallways. Thankful for third period, that the halls are empty and he can hear the slowly rising music. Finn suddenly stops, not realising - and he wouldn't until he searches drastically and helplessly later on - his phone slides from his suddenly numb fingers and crashes upon the floor.

The boys locker room. He should have known. Why didn't he sense it?

With a shaking hand – geez, he doesn't remember being this freaked, this angry since the truth about Puck and Quinn came to light: maybe he's even more freaked, now.

He crouches to the floor, not to retrieve his own phone, but the one that lay scattered in the bare distance from the doorway. The one that is on two percent of charge from the screen (still) lit mercilessly from calls and messages of worry. The phone, that Finn barely takes a glance at to recognise the (now) cracked screen and the case slightly peeled off – as though it has been thrown, or dropped and kicked away, Finn silently brainstorms.

He shuffles the phone into his pocket, just as the light fades to black. Kurt would hate that. It took so long to reboot once it lost complete charge.

His own phone lights up from Quinn, Finn… check the locker room, yeah? I don't want to think it… but, just do it, okay? Love you.

Finn didn't have the opportunity to read the message, or to marvel at the genius mind of his girlfriend, for he steps past the phone, and opens the door instead.

He doesn't even hear his exclaimed 'oh god!' echo throughout the thin walls, nor the continued running water that splashes in the first shower stall.

For a good two minutes, perhaps even five, he simply stands there – completely and utterly dumbstruck. A shattered exhale of breath and a quiet 'Kurt?' is sounded before he stalks towards the boys limp form.

Hands completely useless, shaken and suddenly frozen, Finn hardly remembers the next few minutes, though concentrates on it like it's his lifeline. He remembers stringing a phrase of useless reassurances together; he remembers cupping the boy's wet cheek and a few questions of his name. He doesn't even notice that his own clothes and warmth are becoming victim to the running shower. More like a prison than a school's locker room, he suddenly realises. Kurt's entire body is utterly shaken, shivering uncontrollably beneath his gentle touch, and yet no sign of life is offered. Hair flattened against his forehead, individual droplets plummeting towards the ground.

And that is when Finn notices it.

The odd and inhumane poise of his usually upright, chin high, back straight and confident brother. This… this was not Kurt. From the stressing limp, to the odd colouring of the water that swirls down the drain without care or caution. To which, Finn quickly recognises the pinkish tint that is devoured in the blink of an eye by the swimming surface.

Why is he analysing this; why can’t he move quicker?

His brother looks like some kind of wounded animal.

He remembers, only a few nights prior, flicking through the night stations when he couldn't sleep, and instead becoming traumatised when he decided upon the news and it revealed the butcher and torture of an endangered species Finn can't remember the name of. He does, however recall the picture of the deceased animal, hanging to its last limbs as it shadows in the face of death. Finn shut it off as quick whence it came – though he is seeing it all over again.

Kurt looked dead.

And his face – god his face. Red rimmed, purple splotches and gentle cuts spur amongst his pale features. He was always pale – but this? He was so damn picky about the products he used each night that he practically spends hours before bed sorting and rubbing. Now, however, he looked nauseated, and Finn wouldn't have been surprised if he had have thrown up already.

Of course, Finn only sees a bare minimum of this through blurred hues, and he can't decipher the difference between the tears and the dripping water from the oddly spraying shower head above. As if endurance was not enough, but Kurt’s clothes had to be drenched perhaps beyond repair?

Right. He really needed to turn that off.

"I've got you, Kurt, I've got you you're okay you're going to be okay, I promise I promise…"

He is unaware if his words are spoken aloud, and if they are directed to his brother or for his own attempt at some sort of comfort.

The butt of his pants are soaked in the surface of the shower, leaning desperately against the wall of the confined space, he realises he would never again be able shower after training. Not with this image already burned into his mind. By the shoulders, he draws Kurt to his body attempting to provide even the slightest simmer of heat, a clumsy dead weight in his arms. Finn relentlessly shakes the kid in the grave strive for the opposing to stir to life – to no avail. Holding him as though he is precious cargo, (which in this case, he was) Kurt's face is pressed into his broad chest, hands tucked between the two bodies. He swallows something unkind, when the faint, white peak of bone spurts from Kurt’s wrist, like a daisy blooming for the first time. Oh God, oh God, oh God.

The next few minutes are without a doubt, a pained, yet slightly forgotten memory.

Using his free hand, the one that is not pressed so tightly against Kurt's back, that he fears if he releases it the younger will fall from his grasp and never return. He checks his pocket for his phone, cursing louder than intended as he remembers its position stranded outside the room. And Kurt's phone was out of charge.

But he wasn't going to leave Kurt. Wasn't going to leave his family. Finn is paralysed — he doesn’t know what to do but hold Kurt and will him to wake up. To offer a sign of his quirky tone and bask in speech Finn would roll his eyes at.

When asked later by his step-father at the hospital, he genuinely doesn't remember Quinn entering the scene (she would later explain that she and Puck – Puck was there? – grew intense worry when no response was given to her text so they confronted the locker room themselves).

He initially can't recall Quinn calling out at Puck to contact an ambulance, nor her gentle, prying fingers and soothing tone to look over the boy in his arms. But he soon enough remembers.

Finn, however, does remember screaming like a child who is being stripped from a candy bar when Quinn first tries to take a glance of the vulnerable friend. Perhaps he yelled so drastically, however, as his hand is drawn back from the back of his brothers head. His palm is met with unrealised red; he can't comprehend the sticky yet odourless element.

Quinn's voice is gentler than his; she doesn't yell like he did when he first saw him. The way she holds him, brushes with only her index finger and thumb, the brunette tresses from the ruby laced forehead... he was convinced that he provided further harm towards Kurt when handling him, for Quinn looks practically angelic.

She is barely touching him, yet the stained crease of strain between Kurt's brows and beside his lips already seem to fade. As the edges of her skirt become plagued with the shallow line of dirty water, she continues to whisper in that light, fluttering tone that could be performed in such condescending means - it has been a long time since he has seen her so scared, so unguarded. Clearly keeping herself in somewhat of a dignified state for the position of the youngest.

She orders for Puck to give her the phone as she seemingly is aware of what to say to the officials. The way she passes off Kurt, like he is a valuable party favour towards Noah only briefly, requesting he take him away from the showers floor as she pulls a red, fluffy towel from one of the banisters. Softly demanding placement and the best sense of comfort to the unconscious.

If he thinks hard enough, though, he recollects his best friend hauling him from under the arms after looking more than uncomfortable holding Kurt, (and thankful when Quinn's opened arms take the boy back), and pulling his numb figure from the floor. Eyeing as Quinn completely takes over, comforting Kurt and speaking into the phone in a calm yet pressed tone.

As if it mattered. As if any of it mattered.

It still happened in a place Finn spent hours convincing Burt would be safe. Quinn's words of kindness and a confident demeanour that everything was going to be okay flew over his head like those birds did when he went out skateboarding. She didn't see what he did. Didn't witness the awkward position that gave the impression his brittle bones were to break in half if handled the wrong way.

Kurt was supposed to be safe here; he wasn't supposed to need Dalton anymore.

How wrong he was.

Will has always told him that any situation, any moment was an opportunity to learn, to come to terms with something never known before. Hardly appropriate in the current time, Finn nevertheless showcases timid, silent epiphanies: to be vulnerable was to be human. To hold a particular course, an emotion that triggered each, and every other to implode, to react. To be vulnerable, was to hold passions and wish to god that you didn’t.

And both spawns of the Hudson-Hummel Clan would not only recognise, but live off this feeling for who knows how long. Particularly Finn, for he is the one in the heat of the moment, who is well aware of the state in surrounding.

It’s almost a grace that Kurt isn’t awake – that way he can’t see him like this.

Not only could he not control the shaken breaths that part his trembling lips, but, he supposes, it’s more the lacking handle on the situation in itself. That he couldn’t control this, or at the very best stop it from happening.

Surrounded in a musky, less than wholesome scent, the foul aroma of sweat and unexplained aspects that he’d rather not look further into suffocate him. It was a boy’s locker room, after all, and stereotyped managements aside… it was hardly a location one wished to linger. It wasn’t the smell or the dirty atmosphere that shook his core and distorted his sight. Physical reaction pulsated his veins, and he feels himself balance upon reality and the delusion of cleanliness he wishes to delve into.

Earlier, he could have dealt with it. Could have viewed the room alongside its occupants through rose-coloured glasses (he wanted to, he desperately wanted to). Gripping hold of the situation; both hands on the reigns and taking the charge of what to do at each and every stop. It was bad, but Kurt was the strongest person he knew.

He could breathe, and simply assess the room in wet, shaken, terrified eyes.

Control he believed he possessed soon interrupted by the graces of something kinder, but he chose not to see it in this way.

But the others were here. Quinn and Puck and the whole thing strikes him with a shard of reality.

He fell silent, incoherent rumblings and the whisper of a smile fracturing the muscles in his face. He was trying too hard to make this right; to piece together a sensible reason as to why this has happened. Words fluttering, telling Kurt he would be okay and that he was here to look after him, despite not even in close proximity to the figure.

Quinn suspects later, as she would brush her hand through Kurt’s hair at his bedside, that it was simply a coping mechanism. She would tell him the embedded (and somewhat frightening) comfort that Finn pressed when inside the locker room, albeit grave and unchanging. Acts of such brotherly tenderness that Quinn, in any other situation, would have been proud of.

“We lost him for a bit there,” she soon tells him, tone hitched, as though she is pushing weights to release the voice and complete the run-on sentence. “He was so… frightened. For you, and I think for himself; what he would do if you…” Quinn wouldn’t explain that Finn lost his own hold on reality for a good moment when she entered the scene. Nor would she tell him that in her entire high school life, never has she gazed upon the male in such trembling alarm and surprise of the desperate mannerisms he revealed.

For Finn: the innocent, yet experienced boy thought it was only yesterday’s gravy and banana peels; the occasional dead rat, just to offer another length of glamour to the accustomed dumpster tosses. Even being shoved into the metal doors of the lockers that dressed the edges of the hallways. Sometimes Kurt would fall, but most of the time he would simply inhale, perhaps offer a word of genius distaste, though nonetheless continue. He never thought this could happen.

The unmoving, unresponsive weight under his hand.

Puck had gotten him away, worked patiently with unbalanced feet and sat him down. He was shaking and cold, too, sitting on the same bench that he helped Kurt get into the ‘clown pads’ when he first joined the football team. He had stifled a response then, and was now glad he hadn’t made a comment regarding the boy’s fashion, and his objection to the protective padding in the shoulders. As though insulting him would have returned today, and given Finn the dose of guilt that he ever offended him.

When he does manage to focus, even for a second, a swarming inclination of protection roars in his ears, eyeing the almost motherly identity Quinn possesses.

Kurt’s head in her lap, a hand pressed against his cheek, and the other dropping the phone onto the tiles below her. Right. The ambulance. Quinn had already called. Why couldn’t he remember that? They needed help, and they needed it now.

“Finn, you’ve got to calm down.”

He can’t tell if that is the voice of the best friend, or if it is coming from the girlfriend; either way it would hardly make a difference. His breaths aren’t functioning, falling upon a pathway he can’t quite fathom. In sharp, rigid releases, his stomach tightens, twisting into a great knot that causes him to almost topple over.

“Hey buddy, can you hear me?”

“Jason, patient is non-responsive; we’ll need to bag him.”

“Got some vitals for me?”

“You’ll need to get out of the way, son.”

“High and thready. Respiration is decreasing.”

“…Quinn, it was? Quinn, I need you to keep that warmth. There are evident signs of a concussion, and I would prefer not to move him just yet. Jason, keep track of his airway…”

“…quickly, to the side – keep his chin elevated, Quinn, I’m going to need you to hold up his head. Move out from under him…”

“Buddy, you have to let go.”

“Put the towel under his head, in balance with his legs.”

"…mild case of hypothermia, fractures to – son, I need you to help me here. Hey, I know this is difficult, but you need to calm down, okay? Hey –” 

"Finn! Hey, honey, you need to let go of his hand; they need to work. They’re going to help him, okay, Finn look at me, look at me –”

“Fricken hell!”

His shoes are ruined. Remnants of what looked just like his uneaten lunch taking over the material, though snapping him into reality by the foul smell which they provide.

A horrified – yet excited – glance to Kurt, expecting that if he can release his stomachs containment’s, that consciousness has reached him.

Not for the first time (in the span of what, a half hour?), he is more than wrong.

His exclamation had been predominately in surprise and a clement of fear. He wasn’t exactly expecting a startle to life; thus an unforeseen jolt of movement took him by the shoulders and whirled him in surprise. Finn shifts uncomfortably, scrunching his nose but squeezing both his hands around Kurt’s left one. Silently praying (though his last encounter with the man upstairs wasn’t all it was cracked up to be), and demanding that the boy wakes up.

How could be throwing up if he wasn’t even awake? The noises are unholy yet enticing all the same; he can’t tear his eyes away. Or apparently, his hand.

“Finn, you need to let go of his hand.” He keeps blacking in and out; words swarming around him mercilessly and he decides they stand of least importance.

He is crouched beside one of the paramedics he can’t recall entering the scene; the one that isn’t Jason – he remembers that name being spoken by the young male. He looks too young to be doing this. How can he be helping Kurt when he looks no older than a senior? How can he know what to do? How can he…

“Finn, come on, I’m going to sit you right over here, get out of their way, and let them help Kurt. Okay?”

No no no he needs me. He needs… he doesn’t have anyone and what’s with all the noise and the desperation and where the hell did Puck go? And what’s wrong with Kurt? What did they do to him?

Kurt’s words from the wedding preparation lap inside his mind and he thinks it’s the first time he’s ever really studied something. Concentrated so hard that he actually understands it.

He threatened to kill me.

It had never sunk in before; never been real to Finn.

But now there’s blood. On the floor, on his hands, on Kurt. And he wasn’t breathing and. And.

Not-Jason instructs a phrase of medical language Finn can’t comprehend one word of. Mainly because he can’t understand it for the life of him, but also because he can’t hear it.

Now, he can only feel her. Quinn. Lightly dancing the tips of her fingers amongst his cheek as she attempts a reassuring smile and murmurs useless commiserations that he would be okay and he was in the hands of only the best. She grounds him, keeping him from climbing to his shaking feet and returning to Kurt’s side.

Wait, why is he back on the other side of the room? Why can’t they just let him stay with his brother? He found Kurt initially, turned that damn shower off and tried to keep him warm and dry; Puck took him away. When he finally found his way back to the boy’s side, held his hand, comforted him (or at the very best, tried to), he was only stripped away once more.

The doctor who soon cares for the situation would later explain that he had delved into a state of shock. Finding a loved one, or anyone for that matter – she explained carefully yet sternly, aware Finn is hardly paying attention to his own diagnosis – in such a compromising position was enough to set him into a condition of his own. Finn would be told his blood pressure took a significant drop, and the clammy moisture that laced his hands was upmost concerning. This is why his memory is jagged – why it seems like he is in one place at a moment, and then swarmed off into another, like a herd of chickens being ushered into their pen for the night.

Finn babbles a string of guilt and frustrated words, choked out. He can’t make them form any sense and Kurt can’t hear them, anyway. He just – he just needed to calm down.

Dispersed breaths eventually create a balance and his eyes don’t provide that fuzziness in its corners that make him want to pass out. As if he was the one who needed the attention in this whole circumstance.

“Someone…” he burrows his head into the palms of his hands, digging his wrists into his eyes; an attempt at focus, at concentration. Rubbing his eyes harshly, he collects himself to figure out where to go from here.

“…needs to call Blaine.”

He briefly hears his girlfriend mumble something in response, though is drowned out by his own growing, excessive white noise that he can’t concentrate upon her even if he wanted to. Clenching and blenching his fists three or four times, breaths are taken under the gentle instruction of the girl, and his eyes are opened just in time to catch the paramedics lifting Kurt upon the stretcher he can’t recall being wheeled inside. His feet allow balance, finally, and he manages to seize his final words in remembrance.

Quinn places a hand against his shoulder, shaking her head and forcing him to return to his seat; that is what Kurt needs, apparently.

“I’m riding with him.”

Going against the girl, and making his position more than known, he smoothly, though still ever lightly disorientated upon his figure, turns residence beside the bed on wheels, forcing a smothering smile towards the kid on the bed. The kid now hooked up to an oxygen mask – damn, Kurt would hate what this is doing to his skin – with his clothes ever damp and trailed with a marginal layer of his breakfast (he had waffles, Finn calls to mind) that the older has to gag back upon.

A short decline flies over his head as he once more grips the hand of his brother; apparently he wasn’t in the right frame of mind to be escorting them towards the hospital… that he shouldn’t be around the patient. They understood he cared, but would prefer an adult, someone immune to the first hand degree of the impact to trail behind and drive him if he was so desperate to escort – they questioned Quinn to ride with Kurt.

“He’s my brother,” is the only required argument, agreement settled amongst the four.

His actions are suddenly making more sense. Quinn offers a simmering smile, explaining that Puck has cleared off the hallways and demanded that ‘any punk who is out here when me and my boys come out is gonna have to deal with Puckzilla’, a threat that went over the head of many. Provoked, however, at a sophomore’s comment of ‘the fag got what was coming to him’; a bloody nose and a crying sophomore later, the vast majority split.

“He’s my brother.”

***

Puck was wrong.

The moment sirens churned and paramedics raced inside the school, the hallways were busier than a zombie pile-up.

People stare, regardless that it is third period and lessons should be progressing. Students brush out of their classrooms in haste and curiosity; a majority restricted as some teachers close over their doors with a slam and a shake of the head – a silent judgement of the horrific standards that have, and continue to be provoked upon the recently returned teenager. They always have, and no one can see an end to it.

Though it was not like more than a handful of teachers tried to help, let alone do their job and stop said actions.

This still happened.

McKinley wasn’t exactly a place of riveting tribulations. Aside from meaningless nevertheless captivating gossip, the largest piece of news – that was known to be true – in the whole month was Cheryl Brendon’s new job at Starbucks, where she was able to give herself and two friends a ten percent discount. Who she was going to select was, for weeks, formidable and exciting.

In accordance to its lack of truthful news, the physical evidence of hurried students – even if they were from the lowest of the low – stirred the minds of many and opened questions as to what exactly was occurring.

Blood - ambulance - and a short lived fight.

The three key words that engendered the gossip which would be spoken about for at least the next two months.

It would be taken up in blogs, whispered in the halls, and some were even sure to stick their gaze into the choir room in passing, just to see the continuation of the fateful day.

Where Noah Puckerman punched the lights out of a purred comment, the boy simply trying to fit in amongst the known ‘facts’ of the school, but speaking a tad louder than intended to his friend beside him.

Where Finn Hudson, the one who could once claim popularity over all, bore crimson identities in his clothes, and took no shame in clutching the gay kid’s hand. Walking with cheeks wetter than the boys got when Cheerios would merely pass by.

Where a hurried mess of statements from two unknown males pass, and some strain their ears to figure out the condition.

Where Quinn Fabray followed behind them, phone clutched in hand as she takes Noah by the arm, screams something about Hummel, and orders him to pull out his car keys.

They are all gone as quickly whence they came, and the remaining population of the school settles back into class, hardly concentrating and instead mumbling their thoughts and the occasional hypothesis as to what the hell happened.

Finn somehow finds the time to wonder if in a year he will put this into the category of ‘That’s Just What Being Gay in Lima Does to You’.

Like the dumpster tosses and the pee balloons and the locker slams and just the having to change your life every time someone opens their mouth to say boo.

***

The skin is calloused, dry and unclean. All things that should not befall the category of what his brother’s hands should feel like.

He has never held the hands particularly – never had a reason to. Brittany once told him that ducks fat laced his palms, and she couldn’t understand why it didn’t give her the same effect when the fat of a pig was used on hers. She had told him Kurt was a genius and should be put into a museum for his ideas.

At the wedding, he supposes, was one of the first times he really felt the others hands, though was too distracted by the concentrated attempt to keep up with the steps alongside control of his feet, that he hadn’t really paid attention to them. He never thought he would have a real reason to want observe something as simple, as normal as a hand.

Howbeit, Finn now craves the knowledge as to what they once felt like. To cling onto the perception of their assured warmth and unwrinkled base. The perfectly curved nails that he rounded each night, sitting atop the slender, pale tips that had a strangely limited amount of bumps and scratches for someone who gets pushed around so much.

Then again, a good few months in Dalton seemed to heal more than the emotional damage that had been pulsated within the walls of the public school; the physical aspect of what he took on was also given an opportunity to restore.

Not like now. While he grips onto the hand in a sense that it’s the only thing keeping his own heart pumping… man, he wishes he could just let it go. But it is suddenly so evoking, so important that Finn finds himself remaining his hold upon it for the entire trip...

“No, no-”, the first words, scratchy and harsh, spoken from his awkward climb into the back of the vehicle, to their eventual stop upon the pebbled grounds.

They issue him out from the back, uncomfortably separating him from the younger. He didn’t like that.

“We should go to St. Mary’s… his… my mum works there, and – and-”

At least if they were in his mothers’ environment, a sense of comfortability could succour for the younger.

Then Burt would be called and Kurt would wake up and everything would be okay. It just had to be.

“This isn’t right – he doesn’t like people in his personal space. He would be comfortable with mum – hey, he would…”

Finn knew what it felt like to be listened to; before falling under the denomination of a ‘New Direction’.

He had a whole team upon the grassy surface outside the school’s set halls. Boys who were willing to follow him without the mere blink of an eye. At least this is how he once stood in the claimed hierarchy… now he couldn’t quite tell. But he still can detect the signs: the slight accomplishment that keeps his head held higher, to the pleased state of power in his actions.

Never, like he is now, has he ever experienced the sheer notion of practically being invisible.

“Is there someone you can call? His father has been contacted, though you mentioned something about your mother? Would you like us to call her for you?”

***

His legs are long and uncomfortable, but no matter how many times he shifts or tries to gain a better position, he reaches no conclusion. So instead, he fruitlessly clasps and compresses the bottom of the plastic cup he was given a good ten minutes prior. Drumming his fingers against his thigh, he doesn’t take note of when the cup falls to the ground in his silent haste. Planting his head into the left palm of his hand, he works his thrumming in harmony with his fingers, soon to develop a minor headache from the somewhat harsh motions.

It isn’t until a cautious, yet ever fluttering hand upon his forearm does he raise dimmed oculars and stare into the green of the young female. Finn doesn’t feel the body heat illuminating from her (he usually does), not even when Quinn presses her ear into his shoulder blade and takes his hand into hers. Ultimately calming his shakes, subsequently allowing a simmering flow moult and take habitat upon her cheeks, just as they do his.

“…parking the car around the back in the lot. He nearly crashed a few times,” he doesn’t register whether she releases a laugh of frustration or attempting to place a dignified humour to the situation. “I don’t know if he was more concerned for you or Kurt. You both had us a little… well, it wasn’t an easy thing to walk in on.”

Finn decides against his thoughts; Quinn is far too sophisticated for that. No, she wouldn’t try to make light of such an ordeal, but she would carry through it in mannerisms and a puncture that Finn could only dream of possessing. The touch of her fingers around the nape of his neck is somewhat relaxing, and Finn is sure that he is losing himself to the light inclination of a deserved rest.

Though he doesn’t want to – he needs to be awake for every second just in case. Though his ill-timed lacking memory serves anything but well as he is already losing fractures of the day.

Obsessed with the future, what would come next, when Kurt would wake up. Finding him, the ride there, to the eventual separation when Kurt was taken off to emergency – a thought that still churns his stomach. The biggest emergency Kurt should have is a sale announcement. These events can be forgotten; there was nothing to be changed. Nothing but what was to come.

Momentarily, the corners of his eyes become grey, and his tight hold upon the reality fades. With nothing keeping him to, but the pattern she runs against his skin, and her dwindling words about Puck’s whereabouts (he should be up in a few minutes), and that Kurt was sure to be fine, (he was strong, and would see through it), he trails off fruitlessly.

He wakes, nine minutes later with his chin pressed against his chest, and a new pair of hands brushing at his features.

These hands aren’t Quinn’s.

They stand not soft in youth nor energetic in stature. But they’re experienced, older, and with stories to tell.

They are the hands that tucked him to bed each night; that flicked the hallway light on after the first time he watched ‘Halloween’ at age seven.

Hands he knows, perhaps trusts more than anything.

Though it is not the timid ‘wake up honey’, that springs him from his unwanted and regretted sleep. It is something much worse; something that is sure to haunt his conscience and remain within him in reminder every time he simply glances at his step-father.

A command of information, and a tone perhaps higher than even Kurt can conjure.

Finn unknowingly grips upon his mother’s hand – who seats in front of him, kneeled, glancing up – as the day smothers him in a wave that he struggles to not drown from. He thinks it may be easier if he just does, though.

Stains against the cheeks of the woman conveyed what it doesn’t take a genius to uncover. Red rimmed hues and a failed attempt at offering a comforting smile, so poor that Finn can’t even imagine how Burt is dealing with this.

What did they even know? And who called them? His brain hurt, and he could really do with another drink of that warm water.

He sees Puck and Quinn off in the slight distance, quickly becoming both eerily occupied, though confronted once he notices Rachel only a few feet from them. Mike practically holding her back from running over and embracing Finn.

Just come over here!

Despite the fact he doesn’t know whether he wants the enveloped arms of his mother or his ex-girlfriend around him, he cannot help the craved smell of her strawberry locks and the way she hums under her breath when hugging.

“The rest of your friends should be here soon, Finn,” Carole continues, cupping beneath his chin in order to focus his attention onto her, and not the slowly growing crowd that only seems to worsen the entire situation.

“Come on, honey, Puck brought up some clothes from the back of his truck you can wear… I’ll take you to the bathroom.”

Furrowing his brows; why did he need to get changed?

“N-n-no, I’ll do it myself… I-I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

He offers perhaps the most pathetic smile he has ever created to the woman, and with a silent nod of thanks to his best friend, scoops the shirt and pants that were folded neatly on the chair beside him, and follows the receptionist’s direction to the nearest restroom. He wants to say something to Burt, watching briefly as he frustratingly fills out the papers that are apparently required in order to further this horrid process, where all he wants to do is ‘see my damn son’.

Finn supposes the man blames him as he doesn't even glance up: and rightfully so.

Finn blamed himself in a silent aspect, and while he wasn’t about to go all secret service protection on the boy, anything would have been better than this. If he had been closer to him at all times, even in distance and gotten to the locker room, or thought of the locker room – perhaps he could never have stopped this, but could have at least delayed it; helped it, a little.

But he, like everyone, thought things were changing… that Kurt would stand in safety after a triumphant return from the uniformed school.

The bathroom is empty, cold and smells slightly of cleansing chemicals, like bleach or disinfectant. He supposes that this is a hospital, so they would be stocked to the brim of things like that.

He doesn’t know whether his clothes could be used for evidence – it wasn’t as though Kurt had lost every ounce of his blood (though it sure seemed like it; he was a small kid and it surprised Finn that he had that much in him) and the only remnants remaining was etched into the fine, concealed stitching of Finn’s shirt and pants.

And hands.

And a little in his hair.

Only because he pulled from its tips and ran his fingers through the tresses under a state of anxiety and upmost concern… it could not be helped. It wouldn’t be.

Puck’s clothes are a little small for him; the long sleeves of the shirt reaching an awkward position just above his wrists, and the pants a tad tight around his waistline. Nevertheless, anything, no matter how small or snug, was better than a presentation provided unkindly by his brother and his own dripping blood. Stained in smudges and stripes, the crimson bore the material, and even if his mother could rid the clothes from it, he never again wished to wear them.

If they were needed, the officials could get them from the bin. Finn didn't want to lay his eyes on them ever again.

Not with an ounce of preparation, he leaves the bathroom empty handed within seconds of arriving.

After scrubbing his face, and running his hands underneath the water until the clogging sink tinges pink, Finn with not only a shaken posture, but a rattled heart too, departs the room of white and hygiene, and makes his way towards the group that slowly forms in the waiting room.

His mother and Burt are here, he knows that much.

Puck and Quinn too. And while Finn has never even seen Rachel and Mike share a confided conversation (save her requesting particular moves from the boy in order to better present – though not overshadow – herself within the spotlight), they had come together, or at least entered the hospitals doors in a partnership.

Finn guesses that a day like this could bring anyone in dual and create unknown partnerships and groupings. Each had the same thing on their mind, after all.

The familiar creak of rubber wheels against the ground. Artie. Which meant someone else had to be here given he couldn’t exactly travel on his own.

They were all there for Kurt.

Whether it be fashion sense or battling to the death for solos in Glee Club, there was no doubt that the boy was more than inclined and held a grave desire to be the centre of attention. It was simply in his nature. Something Finn could never quite fathom.

Being out and loud and proud only got him pushed around… but Kurt still did it.

No matter what.

Perhaps if he could see just how he had become the figment of everyone’s minds now, and that he is sure every student at McKinley High swirls and revolves their thoughts about him, maybe Kurt would tone it down a little. To practically save himself from the most daunting confrontation he has ever endured.

But Finn knows, really, that he wouldn’t.

Even if it killed him, Kurt would never hold admittance to championship over someone who belittled him – who tormented and forced someone ‘lesser’ than them to recoil under their touch or glare. He would do it simply out of spite, to show it didn’t affect him and continue on his way.

It was harder this time.

And no amount of snappish or quickly fired comment could take away what happened today.

He departs to see an unfamiliar white coat strapped upon a young woman speaking quietly to Burt (hat in hands, wringing them against it as though placing frustration onto something) and Carole. His mother’s eyes light in his direction and ushers him towards them with an outstretched hand.

Things suddenly turn into a clement of normality – this was a doctor who could tell them, tell him about the results of what he found in the school’s environment. She would explain that rest and relaxation was the predominant factor in Kurt’s recovery process and by Monday the following week, he could be back at school.

That’s what Brittany might say.

And for this moment, he really wishes he held the optimism and positive vibes that she could. The innocence to believe everything would go back to normal.

Where, a ride in the back of an ambulance truck to a distressing waiting room conveyed another side of the story unfolding today.

And now, he was going to be told the consequences of idiotic brains and homophobic actions.

“Hi, Finn,” she is sweet; a clearly energetic girl who is toning down her usual stature to reflect the environment.

“I’m Doctor Spencer. There is no pressure whatsoever, but your mother here suggested you might want to accompany them. I was just about to take them to my office and—”

“Yes. I mean, yeah, if that’s okay? I’m only seventeen though, I don’t have to be like, an adult or anything, right? Cause I’m not, and…”

“Of course not, Finn.” The woman smiles, and with a nod of the head and an instruction to follow, the trio of heartfelt companions breach past the wide, concerned eyes of the New Directions that had arrived, soon to round the corner and enter the room.

And Finn feels like he’s going to throw up. How the hell has his day turned into this?