Neither of them could say just exactly what the turning point had been, when dumpster dives and ear-flicking had become a form of foreplay. In Kurt's mind it was like some soap opera where the leads went from fighting to making out in Buffy with Spike, and that was hot. However or whenever – neither of them really cared anymore. They were young, and horny, and in…well, in like, at least.

They were having a good time with this enemies-with-benefits thing, really. To keep the benefits part secret – a mutual decision; things were complicated enough - they made a game of insulting one another as creatively, publicly, and frequently as possible. Although he had commanded a moratorium on anyone else harassing the gleeks, Puck "bumped into" Kurt as often as possible during dance rehearsal, and called him a flaming fucking ass-bandit. At football practice, Kurt called Puck the idol of idiot-worshipers. Mercedes went off on Puck three days a week, and Finn talked to him about impulse control the other two, and Mr. Schue despaired of the two of them getting along in this lifetime or any other, although he kept trying to pair them up for duets "to teach them tolerance and diversity." In their private moments, this made them laugh until they couldn't stand up.

"Puck! Be quiet, knock it off!" Kurt stage-whispered, giggling. "Someone could come back any minute, and how would you explain your tongue down my throat? 'Oh, I tripped and fell on his dick' might get us past Brittany, but it won't work on the guys."

"You worry too much, Hummel. Now shut up, I'm trying to indulge in a post-game locker-room fantasy!"

That quieted Kurt down long enough for Puck to get the strings of their uniforms untied and his hand around both their cocks, but he got loud again pretty quickly. Loud enough that neither of them noticed when someone else entered, and then left, the locker room.

Being kicker had its advantages, Kurt thought. One of the best was that he didn't actually have to stay for the full practice. He could take off before anyone else, and be clean and dressed long before the rest of the team made it to the locker room. He was rinsing off and belting out Half-Boyfriend, his mind a world away, when he heard a squeak of shoes on wet tile behind him.

"Hey, faggot."

Kurt jumped, slapping off the water with one hand and grabbing a towel with the other. What the fuck? He froze when he realized it was Karofsky standing in front of his stall, blocking his way out. His mouth went into sarcasm mode, and he kept his chin up and his voice steady.

"You say that like it's a bad thing, cretin. Now get out of my way." He attempted to push past the larger man.

Karofsky grabbed Kurt's wrist, and the look in his eyes made Kurt's insides twist in a rush of fear. "I don't think so, Hummel. I've seen you with Puckerman, and I think you should show me what you can do."

Kurt knew this wasn't a moment where staying still and quiet was going to help him any. He swung his available fist at Karofsky's face, and connected with a satisfying thud. In return, Karofsky pinned Kurt to the shower wall and threw a punch of his own. Kurt felt his face start to swell, but he continued to fight hard, landing as many blows, kicks and scratches as he could.

"I don't know why I didn't figure it out when Puck stopped us from dumpstering your homo ass. He's the only thing that's kept me from killing you," Karofsky growled. "I have no problem taking him down instead, unless you decide to cooperate." The meaning of the words penetrated past Kurt's adrenaline, and he sagged against the cold tile like a switch had been turned off.

"Wh-what are you...what do you want?"

"Right now, I want to see just how good a cocksucker you are. We'll continue this, what I want, when I want it, or I will take Puckerman down. Do you understand?"

With the whole team behind him, he could do it, Kurt thought. The idea of Puck being hurt because of him…there was no way he would allow that. He had thrown a solo to keep his dad safe, what wouldn't he do for Noah? He nodded, and Karofsky pushed Kurt to his knees on the wet floor.

And so Kurt added another layer of lies to the base he had going. He told everyone the black eye came from football practice. He lied to Mercedes, telling her that he was tired because he was fighting a bug. He lied to his dad about where he was going in the evenings, when Karofsky would text, demanding Kurt's presence for whatever degrading scenario he had dreamt up this time. Most painfully, he lied to Puck about why he was distancing himself. He had to, though. He couldn't let Puck touch him, see the extent of the bruises he constantly sported, and although he knew he was doing this to keep him safe, he also knew Puck would never understand. Kurt was breaking; even with the leftover painkillers from his last oral surgery he never stopped hurting, he didn't sleep well, and he never felt clean.

It ended, as it had begun, back in that damned locker room. At practice, Karofsky had tackled Kurt especially hard, leaving him gasping for air, and Coach Tanaka cut him for the day. Kurt stumbled off the field, head down, avoiding the hurt and worry he knew he would see in Puck's eyes - and the predatory gleam in Karofsky's. Slumping onto the bench nearest his locker, Kurt began to sob. How much longer could he keep this up?

He barely looked up when the door opened, and Karofsky came in. "Did I hurt you? I'm so sorry," he grinned, dripping sarcasm. "I bet I know what would make you feel better."

"Please," Kurt whispered, "please, not now, not here."

"No, no, now is good. Now is great, in fact," Karofsky laughed. "Get undressed." When Kurt continued to hesitate, the back of Karofsky's hand knocked him off the bench.

Puck didn't like this at all. He didn't understand what he had done to piss Hummel off, unless it was the secret part, and he'd thought they had agreed to that; why start being a dick about it when things had been going so well? He didn't like the way Karofsky hit Kurt so hard, either, and it took Mike and Matt to hold him back when the coach sent Kurt to the locker room. Three plays later he realized that Karofsky had gone, too, and he really didn't like that. He headed to the building at a run.

Inside, he rounded at corner and found Kurt – his Kurt – bent over a bench and crying out as Karofsky plowed into him. "Tell me you want it," Karofsky was growling, a fist tangled in Kurt's hair, a hand around his throat.

"Y-yes. I want it," he heard, and Puck's whole world dropped out from under him. Puck stopped thinking clearly right about the time his fist hit Karofsky's face, knocking him away from Kurt, who scrambled into a corner, eyes wide and body shaking, sobbing Puck's name. Karofsky, nose bleeding, was yelling that Kurt had come on to him, begged him for it, said that he was so much better than Puck.

To Kurt, everything was a blur. Puck was there, Puck was saving him…but then he was angry, yelling, calling him a whore, saying he should have known Kurt would give it up to any guy who asked. When he struggled upright, stood and tried to defend himself, his voice hoarse from tears and Karofsky's hand, Puck turned away – a knife to Kurt's heart - and walked out the door. A minute later, Karofsky followed, laughing.

Broken. Kurt Hummel was finally broken, in his body and his spirit. He slid down the wall, leaning his head on his knees, and shook for a while, past crying. Past everything, really, and ready to rest. Finally, he forced his exhausted body up from the floor. If he was going to die, it wasn't going to be here. His life (dancer, singer, son), his death (faggot, statistic), his choice.

Puck's fist hit the brick of the school until he couldn't feel his hand anymore, and it still wasn't enough. He had been out here, walking in the icy air, for at least an hour, and he was still so furious it was taking all of his energy not to fly apart. How could Kurt have done this to him, how? And with that fucking hulk Karofsky? This must be why he wouldn't come near him for the last two weeks, wouldn't return his calls, barely spoke to him and certainly didn't allow Puck to touch him. Is that when it started? And …


How had he been acting?

Images of Kurt flashed through his head. Kurt's bruised face, blamed on football. Kurt leaning his head on his arms in Spanish, mumbling answers like a zombie. Mercedes' worried looks. The way he cringed a little when he headed for the field or saw the other football players near Puck.

Kurt begging Puck to listen to him, just for a minute, tears streaming down his face…and he had walked away.

He found himself heading back to the locker room. There was no one there, but Kurt's bag was on the floor by his locker, belongings scattered. He'd never leave his bag, and Puck began to feel a stir of panic underneath the heat of his anger. He stalked through the locker room, slamming open the doors to every toilet stall and looking in every shower…and no Kurt.

Well, fuck, he thought. His keys and phone were still there, so he had to be in the school somewhere, and there was really only one other place Kurt would be. Scooping up the bag and its contents, Puck headed for the music room.

Once there, he took a calming breath before quietly opening the door, not wanting to startle Kurt if he were there. He exhaled quickly in relief when he saw him at the piano, head resting on his arms.

"Kurt?" he called softly. "I .. I'm sorry. You wanted to talk to me and I was so angry…"

No response.

"Are you going to give me the silent treatment now? I came back. You don't have to be an asshole too. And it's not like you weren't letting that bastard fuck you, begging him for it; what did you expect me to do?"


"God damn it, Kurt, fucking talk to me!"

Puck was, by this point, near enough and angry enough again to give Kurt a small shove. When he did, Kurt's body slid from the bench to the floor, an empty pill bottle falling from his hand.