Admittedly, my first Glee Fanfic. Tell me what you think, really, I want to know how to improve myself. If you see anything that seems contradictory, tell me, cause I do that sometimes. Yes yes, Kurtainn all the way. Of course, every good story needs a good set up though...

(This was written and posted before "Theatricality". So. That's why they're different. xD)

(I own nothing. .3.)


September, William McKinley, Prologue.

It. Was cold. Late summer/ Early fall often had these bipolar days, days where the sun could be up and shining, but the wind would be like icicles across the skin, making breathing intense, coating the lungs with a layer of ice. It wasn't yet winter in Lima, not even that fall time where everything had that tinge of orange. It was just cold.

It was after practice. The Oh-so-called Lima-losers walked, tired and ragged off the field into the shower room. Lockers banged and voices echoed off the chilly walls, and as shower heads were turned to full blast, steam wafted through the stalls. Finn Hudson sighed, twisting the cheap locks to put his stuff in an unmarked locker before making his way over to one of the shower stalls. He'd been on the football team practically since birth. He really didn't care about his body in front of the guys anymore. He knew he wasn't bad looking, and no there was no comment made to him that couldn't be retaliated with a well-aimed Rat tail to the lower spine. Ha.

Despite the chilling weather, made even more obvious by the jolt of cold he got every time he leaned against a tiled wall, he was filthy with sweat. He was in no hurry to get out of the direct stream of liquid hot, and instead stood, taking his time and quietly, very quietly, singing under his breath. As far as Finn was concerned, all was good for him.

The same, however, could not be said for the boy-And the word boy was used pointedly, comparative to how he looked lined up against the men- at the far end of the shower stalls. He looked small, weak, vulnerable, and not to mention utterly ridiculous. It was no great secret that Kurt Hummel cared about his image. But as he worked, quick, fleeting, like a scared rabbit, Finn had to roll his eyes at him. Along with him to the shower Kurt had brought a small black bag (Okay, purse. It was a purse.) filled with six –Six!- different bottles, mostly colors bright green, purple, and one that literally had a flower on it. Finn sighed, turning away from Kurt before it became weirder than it already was.

I shouldn't be looking anyway. He hissed mentally, turning to the perfectly fine soap spigot in the stall. He busied himself with fervently washing his hair, ignoring his overriding annoyance and pity. Somewhere inside him, he could hear his conscience screaming –Do something!- but what he was to do, he couldn't fathom. So he ignored that voice too, and quietly sang Drive by Incubus under his breath.

What happened next, though, challenged everything he'd thought about himself.

He should have seen it coming, of course, Kurt had been to two practices before and had only narrowly escaped the brutal torture, so it only stood to reason that the rest of the team would sharpen their own minds. It started out as a definitive slapping of feet across the lukewarm tile floor, light splashes, laughter. Finn had just enough time to rinse the soap from his eyes and see Puck, half dressed in a pair of red shorts and followed by four other hulking gorilla-men, making their way to the end of the stalls. His eyes met Kurt's for a third of a second before Kurt could open his mouth in horror and let out a tiny, weak, pleading 'no.'

That did nothing, of course, as Puck reached in and grabbed Kurt's arm. Mixed with the wet floor the boy had no choice, and was dragged out of the water into full view. Admittedly, Finn had not looked away at first, though whether it was out of concern or interest would become a raging mental debate for weeks after. It was obvious that Puck had meant only to humiliate him, and a moment later when Kurt lost his footing, the jock could have almost looked worried. But as the little soprano crashed down a moment later, the sound of his jaw cracking against the floor resonating against the tile walls, a smile split Puck's face and he turned and walked away, meeting Finn's eyes a moment later. Finn tried not to look like he was horrified, and put a halfhearted smile on, if only to avoid the future ridicule. Puck nodded and moved on, his goonies behind him.

As soon as they were out of sight though, Finn had to turn back. He was a step and a half out the stall before he stopped himself, forcing his legs to go no further. It wasn't that he didn't want to help Kurt, no, there was no excuse for him not to, but he didn't want to help Kurt…naked. It was cripplingly obvious just how much Kurt liked him, and a kind gesture in the shower room undressed would be so, so easily misinterpreted. And what if Puck came back? He'd never live it down. Finn made himself go back, watching in gut wrenching pain as Kurt got up, inching towards the stall and getting to his feet. As he did, he turned and spat. The ground turned red where he did.

No.

Finn turned away, knowing he wouldn't be able to bear the sight of Kurt seeing all of his precious hair-care bottles ruined in front of him. He turned the shower off with a jerk and walked out, back to his locker and back to reality. Dressing quickly, he was just walking towards the door when he saw the clothes. He could almost feel what would come of Kurt's emotions. About four different items of clothing were spread about the floor, stepped on, damp, wrinkled. Unable to think, he moved over to them.

"Yo, dude."

Finn jmped, seeing Puck not far off in the doorfame. Unsure if he'd been caught, he blinked.

"Wha.."

"You coming?"

Relief flooded his body. "Y-yeah. One sec."

Puck shrugged and moved on.

Finn, growing up with only a mother, and a mother who liked to do things for him, was no master in the art of folding clothes. He did his best, unable to ignore how they were stained and wet. He tried though, placing the wickedly fancy shirts and pants on a bench, then booking it the hell out of there.

That was that then. He'd done a good thing, a service, he'd helped a person in need. That was good, right?

His hand reached into his pocket, only to grab empty space.

no.

Damn it, how many times had he done that? His iPod, no doubt, would be sitting three lockers away from the place where he'd put his clothes, ready to be stolen away. He did an abrupt heel-toe and marched back into the locker room, thinking only of his iPod, not the emotionally troubled youth that shared the space.

He stopped dead when he heard the crying.

It wasn't that manly kind of crying, if that existed, where it was troubled but still kind of masculine like. It wasn't girly crying either, all whiny and soulful. It was just…crying. Sobbing, wailing, a complete world of pain and woe in a few short sobs. Like someone had just smacked a baby for no reason. Finn moved forward, stopped, moved again. What did he do now? iPod. He told himself coldly. iPod.

He moved, knowing he was going to cross paths, but ignoring it. He assumed he could just ignore him, act like he was deaf and stupid or broken or something. He couldn't, however, ignore Kurt as he ran into his abdomen. His big green eyes raised to meet Finn's own for a moment, and Finn couldn't ignore what he saw. Kurt's eyes were red, puffy, and carried a betrayal beyond belief. His puggish nose was red as well, and a small trickle of blood came from the right nostril. His mouth was slightly open, gasping for air, and he could see that more blood was bleeding out from between his teeth.

"Kur-" But even as the image was registering in his mind, Kurt gave him an uncharacteristic shove aside and walked briskly away. A tiny sob wobbled out of his throat and then he disappeared.

iPod. iPod. That's all.

Feeling like his feet and heart were made of cement, he grabbed his iPod, right where he knew it would be, and turned back. He walked towards the door, but a flash of red and white caught his vision. Lying on the bench where Finn had put Kurt's clothes was a small, white button-up shirt, stained with red. Finn's stomach lurched. He picked it up, and knew it was unmistakably Kurt's. It was tiny, expensive looking, and the only logical person's item to be stained with mouthblood.

My fault, Finn thought, picking up the shirt and feeling the smooth fabric on his fingers. I could have stopped this. I could have just…I could have told them no. It would have been that easy. But just as the thoughts of guilt were invading his mind, he shook his head.

Why do I even care. It's his fault for joining. He knew what he was up for.

But even as he chanted it like a mantra, over and over, out of the building, into his car, on the way home. He knew he was wrong. And as he sat down at his computer, typing 'How to get blood out of a white shirt' into google, the actual shirt sitting next to him on the computer desk,he knew he'd have to make up for what he'd done.