Author's Notes: Written for this prompt on the glee_angst_meme: "So, you remember what happened to Beatrix in Kill Bill while she was in a coma? Kurt is horrified to find marks all over Burt while he's dressing him, and later discovers that an orderly has been renting him out for people to do whatever they like to him."
It's incredibly morbid, having to dress your comatose father in a hospital bed. Probably more than a little unusual, as Kurt's sure the staff are meant to be the ones doing this – they all looked oddly at him when he insisted, but to hell with them. It's his father, and it's far more appropriate Kurt be the one to take care of him when he can.
Kurt untwists a button on the blue hospital gown, letting the top half fall away away from Burt's right. Then Kurt frowns. His father has odd, suspiciously finger-shaped bruises on his right shoulder.
He peels the gown away further, and sees the bruises extend from Dad's shoulders, and over his chest and pectoral muscles. Kurt gasps. Shaking his head in disbelief, he grabs over to the other side to undo the other button. When the entire top half of the garment is pulled down, Kurt starts holding his breath. The bruises spread there too; they're all over him, and Kurt feels vaguely nauseous when he realizes that they only get worse – darker and closer together – as they head downwards on Dad's body.
He doesn't want to have to check this – if someone comes in, he may have some explaining to do – but he unbuttons the lower half of the gown as well, and what he sees there makes him want to be sick. And not just because his father's naked. The bruises are worse, almost completely painting the inside of his thighs deep purple. There are scars and scratches, like could be left by someone with particularly sharp fingernails. Given the shape of the bruises, and the way he thinks it would be most likely Burt got them in the first place, that makes sense.
Kurt steps back, gasping for breath. "Dad," he whimpers, unable to tear his eyes away from the obvious scars. He doubles over, gagging. No. This cannot be happening. It's in a hospital, for christ's sake; this sort of place is meant to keep people safe!
Kurt's immediate disgust, horror and anguish is replaced with something new – anger. Fury would probably be a better way of putting it, actually. How could they? Not just whatever sick monster did this to his father, but the hospital as well. How could they just let this happen? Dad was meant to be safe here as they waited for him to just get better; if a hospital can't make sure being there won't make anything worse, what is the point of it?
Kurt forces himself not to cry or be sick, and flies off down the hallway in a blind rage.
"I need to talk to someone!" he screams. The receptionist jumps at his entrance, and looks more than a little terrified of him, but he doesn't care. "Get me to someone important, now."
She seems confused as well as scared. "Okay," she starts. "Just... calm down, and wait a moment–"
"No I will not calm down!" he thumps the desk melodramatically, and she jumps again. "And I will not wait. This is my father, and I–"
"Okay, hold on!" she yells. "I'm just the receptionist. I don't know what, or who you're talking about. Now stay calm – I'll get you to talk to the Dean, if it's that important – and explain to me what's going on, please."
She looks frightened to the point there are tears in her eyes, and he feels starts to feel guilty. The circumstances give him some leeway, but – he has just acted like an absolute madman to an innocent woman who has absolutely nothing to do with this entire situation. As tempting as it is to blame anyone and everyone even vaguely connected to this hospital, he's smarter than that – like she said, she's the receptionist, for god's sakes.
"Sorry," he says. The room full of people still stares at him like he's crazy, but he ignores it. He inhales deeply. "My name is Kurt Hummel. My father, Burt, was hospitalized a couple of weeks ago due to a heart attack which has left him in a coma since. Now, I just discovered a lot of marks on his body – bruises, scars, scratches, possibly even bitemarks – heavily implying he has been abused and assaulted during his stay here. From their placement, I also infer this abuse was most likely sexual in nature."
The receptionist gapes at him, horrified. He goes on. "Now, I don't know a lot about how these places work. But it's up to me to protect my dad. Get me to someone in charge, now."
To their credit, they do. Kurt explains the situation to the Dean and he seems appropriately horrified that such a thing would happen in his hospital; he says there will be tests to determine what exactly has happened to Burt.
There are. After a few days of waiting, one of the doctors comes to Kurt looking somber. That's not encouraging.
He swallows hard and stands up, staring the man dead in the eye. "So what is it?" he asks. "What happened to my father?"
The doctor sighs, avoiding his eyes. "I wish I didn't have to tell you this. And not just because I expect you to fly off the handle at me, and possibly sue us." Kurt doesn't laugh, and the doctor goes on. "You were right, and it's about as bad as it could possibly be. There is significant evidence of sexual abuse, particularly rectal tearing and scarring. The different shapes of bruises and bitemarks speak to various different perpetrators, likely of both sexes. Unfortunately, there isn't enough DNA evidence left to find out much about the perpetrator... I mean, dental casts could be made, but those will be hazy at best..."
Kurt feels like all the oxygen has been knocked out of his gut, and he doesn't know why. He knew; he knew since he found those bruises, this is just confirming it, so he doesn't understand why it stings so badly now. He doubles over, struggling to breathe, and he doesn't even notice it until the doctor puts a hand on his shoulder.
"Mr. Hummel? Are you alright?"
Kurt immediately snaps back up, glaring again. "I'm not Mr. Hummel," he insists. "That's my dad. The man in there. The man this is all about. Now, what are you going to do?" he asks. "How are you going to stop this? How are you going to protect him?"
"You are... transferring the people working in this ward to other departments temporarily?"
The dean just nods at him.
"Doesn't that happen all the time in hospitals anyway?"
He doesn't answer that, instead just sighing and standing up from his chair. "Look, Kurt, I know this approach must seem... unsatisfactory to you–"
"Unsatisfactory," Kurt repeats, dry as the Sahara desert. This is nothing.
"You have to understand, this hospital has a lot of responsibilities to cope with and we can't–"
"No, screw it!" Kurt yells. "You should be doing something more than this! You shouldn't let a single person who could have possibly had anything to do with this back into your hospital; if something happens to him again I'll–"
"We cannot afford to drop everything for this!" yells the dean. He looks affronted. "Do you have any idea how many people would have interacted with your father here? Doctors, nurses, assistants, administrative staff; it all adds up! We can't fire or suspend them all – there'd be employee outrage if we didn't pay them. We could never afford to pay them. The hospital would be critically understaffed; people would die. The entire idea is absurd," he exhales deeply, and sits back in his chair. "Look, I know you are worried and desperate to prevent further harm. I cannot say how sorry I am for you, or your father. But you need to think about this rationally – there is only so much we can do."
Kurt looks away, unfortunately confronted with the logic of what the man is saying. "Fine," he says. "I still don't believe you're doing enough, but I guess my attitude was irrational."
"I promise you, when we find out who exactly is doing this to your father, we will do everything we can to make sure they are punished accordingly."
"If you can afford it."
Kurt picks at the hospital cafeteria pasta, grimacing. Is this the best they can do? Really? If this is the quality of the cafeteria food, he doesn't even want to think about what they must give the poor patients. Not that it's really a concern for his father in particular, but it's the principle of the thing.
He keeps trying to distract himself with inanity, but it never really works.
Fortunately, a distraction that will probably work better arrives, and sits down facing him. "Hey," says said distraction. It's the receptionist he lost his head at before, and when he checks he sees her nametag reads Alison.
She's using her compassionate voice; the 'deal with him like you would a small injured animal, lest he blow up at you again' one. So he has a feeling she's not sitting with him just for the enthralling intellectual conversation. So much for being distracted.
"Hi," he eventually says. "So, what brings a girl like you to a place like this?"
"I work here?"
"No, I meant this table in particular," he clarifies. "Especially given the 'working here' thing; shouldn't you be actually working?"
She seems affronted. "It's my lunchbreak," she says. "As little respect as receptionists get in a workplace environment, we are allowed time to eat."
Kurt nods. "Okay. But back to the original question – given our general history of one incident where I was more or less horrible to you, I assume you are not sitting here because I seem an ideal candidate for a new unexpected friendship."
She looks sheepish. He sighs. "You're curious about what's going on with my father, aren't you?"
"Does that make me a horrible person?" she asks. "Everyone's kind of heard about what happened – what has been happening – to your father; their over our shoulders like hawks, trying to make sure we had nothing to do with it. And I just... I saw you the way you were before, and now you know for a fact you were right – your father was horribly abused and violated in his most vulnerable state, implicitly by people trusted to put his welfare first. I just... wanted to see how you were holding up."
"Just fine, thanks," he snaps. She looks taken aback, and he sighs. "Sorry. That was unfair. I'm not mad at you for asking; it shows you have a compassionate nature, even for a boy you don't even know. Most people in this town would steer well clear of inquiring after the welfare of a... well, someone like me."
Her mouth forms a small 'o'. "So, you actually are... I mean, from the clothes and the voice and everything I kind of guessed you were, but I didn't want to bow entirely to stereotypes because that's prejudiced and bad, right?"
He shrugs. "Yes, the stereotypes are unfortunate. However, I fit them perfectly, so take from that what you will."
She can't help but crack a smile. "So, once more without bitchiness – are you holding up okay?"
He sighs. "I guess. Comparatively, anyway," he says. "I mean, it was hard enough when 'all' I had to worry about was him being comatose and it being possible he would die. And now, this..." he breathes in deeply, and she just looks on at him. "It's so hard, and I have to do it all on my own. I mean, usually if something truly terrible was happening and I was trying to cope with all alone... I could ask my dad. But right now, he's both a little too unconscious and a little too actually-the-victim for that."
"I entirely fail to comprehend how it's your fault."
She looks uneasy. "Does seriously no-one else know? What about his medical proxy?"
He snorts. "My Aunt Mildred's down officially; she's mostly just hanging around our house, boozing it up and bitching at me. Yes, it's illegal, but the doctors are just taking all their instructions from me – weren't you paying attention?"
"You're just one case among many, I guess."
He shrugs, and stares at his pasta again. "Of course, it doesn't help that they seem to be doing little to nothing..."
"What you rather they do?"
"I don't know!" he yells. "Stand guard over Dad at night or something? I just want him protected."
There's a pause. She looks over her shoulder, then hands him something. "My key," she whispers. "Sneaking in is easy. Protect him tonight."
For a moment, he just stares in disbelief. But he takes it. "Thanks."
As Alison said, sneaking in is easy. It puts a sick feeling in his stomach – if he can sneak in here so simply, what's to say his father's abusers couldn't have? He doesn't understand why people from outside the hospital would target him, but it would mean that the hospital trying to figure it out would be looking in entirely the wrong place. Although that 'multiple abusers' thing speaks for something somewhat organized, so... god, he doesn't even want to go there.
Oh god – what if, Lima being Lima, they've chosen to target his dad because of him? When Burt is vulnerable, they folk of this town finally get their revenge on him for bringing a fag like Kurt into this world? If that was it, how could Kurt ever live with himself? Knowing what he did to his own father...
Don't be paranoid, he tells himself. They wouldn't do that. The masses of this town are far too stupid and disorganized for that. If they were going to punish your sexuality via sexual violence, they would probably not have it planned in advance, and actually target you. Perhaps unsurprisingly, that isn't actually very comforting. So he shakes the thought away.
He sneaks into the room without alerting anyone. "Dad?" he asks. Burt doesn't stir, not that Kurt was expecting him to – he is in a coma, after all.
Kurt sighs, looking back over his shoulder. No-one seems to be approaching the door, so he sits down in the chair next to his dad.
"So... I'm not sure you can hear me... actually, you probably can't," he says. "I've never really believed those in comas are aware of what's going on; it's like being asleep, but less natural. So... honestly, in your situation, that's probably for the best. You don't have to..."
He doesn't know how to finish that sentence, and he starts to choke on his words. "Dad, I am so sorry," he whispers, tears creeping into his eyes.
"It's just that... even when you didn't understand me, you always would do anything for me. Like you said, you would fight to the death for my right to love anyone I want. If I was ever in trouble, you would... You would just be there. You'd fix it, somehow," he inhales deeply. "And I've always done my best; really Dad, I have. Remember Defying Gravity? I have always done my best to take care of you like you would do for me."
He reaches forward and grasps his father's hand, holding it under his chin. The limb remains limp.
"But now... You are in... so much more trouble than I am; than I have ever been in. And I couldn't protect you. I didn't realize anything until it was much too late; until the physical evidence made it unable to be avoided. I let you down, Dad. I'm so sorry. If something like that happened to me, you'd..."
He trails off until he thinks of something else. "Why was I the one to notice, huh? I mean, sure I insisted on dressing you, but... they did all these medical procedures. They're professionals. Shouldn't they be the ones to notice evidence of something wrong? Not that it would make me feel any better about letting you down, but it would reaffirm a tiny bit of my faith in the health system."
The silence is filled only with breathing, Kurt's badly repressed sobs, and the beeping of medical equipment. He presses his face down onto Burt's hand for a second.
"I don't know what to do," he admits. He looks up again, tears coming openly now. "I've never had to deal with something like this. I've never had to watch as someone I love had something... so horrible that..." he breathes in. "I just need help. You were always the one to help me when I needed it, even if you barely understood what you were doing. And, it's horrible, but some selfish part of me only wants you awake so I can ask you what to do. Because you always knew what to do," he sniffles. "But of course, I'm not the victim anymore. You are. And I need to be the strong one now."
He breathes in heavily, and tries to stop his tears. "So this is me, Dad. I'm trying to be strong like you; to do what you have always done for me. This is me... trying to be worthy of being your son."
He leans in, and presses a kiss to his father's forehead. "I love you, Dad."
Then he stands up, and runs to hide behind the cupboard.
It happens at about two AM, according to his watch; he's been hiding behind the door for hours, and is starting to drift off against the flimsy plywood backing (even though he knows what a disaster that would be for his make-up and hair). A pair of sneakers treading inside the room slowly jerks him awake.
They're not loud – whoever it is moves slowly, uncertainly, which rouses Kurt's suspicion further. He won't say there's been no-one over the hours he's been here – medical staff and the like, and it turns out they wear normal person shoes after all. However, people with an actual good reason to be here moved with a lot more confidence than that.
The feet move out of view, but Kurt hears the weak hospital bed squeak with extra weight. He draws in a breath as silently as he can. "Hey," says the man, voice gruff and unfamiliar. "You would not believe what's been going on around here. I can't believe someone called all this out. Lucy looked at me like I was crazy when I said I still wanted you to be my..."
The man trails of with a chuckle. Kurt's eyes start to sting with tears, although he beats them down both to conquer his own patheticness and because he can't afford something as loud as sobs. He looks toward the door. He's closer towards it than the man is, and he is light and agile. He could get to the door before the attacker had the chance to stand up – not that he would run away, no. He would not abandon his father like that. But if he got to the door, he could trap the man in there and figure out who he was and what the fuck he thought he was doing. And now, who Lucy is as well.
It would probably be putting himself in physical danger, but – this is his father. Protecting him trumps everything.
Kurt hears the sound of a zipper and barely smothers a gasp. This is the part where he has to move and do something, before he allows his father to be assaulted one more time. But for a moment, Kurt is just frozen. "I had to pay a pretty penny to get her to bring me back here, no lie. Still, in the end – woman's a whore. Or you are. Something," there's another disgusting chuckle. "Seriously, if I can't afford my daughters' Christmas presents this year – expect them to be knocking on your door."
Kurt is spurred into action; he throws himself out and plasters himself over the door. The man doesn't get time to do anything other than look up in shock and let his mouth hang wide open; he doesn't even do up his pants. "Who the hell are you?" he asks, voice high and panicking.
"I'm Kurt Hummel, and what the fuck are you doing near my father?"
The man snaps his jaw shut, and snaps his zipper back up too. "Look, kid–"
"Don't come near me!" Kurt yells, digging through his pockets. He finds a key. Possibly not the best weapon of defense, and as such, the man steps closer.
"No, why the fuck are you here? Screw it, I don't care, let me go and I won't–"
The man tries to push him aside and Kurt responds by jabbing the key into his palm, as hard as he physically can. He manages to break skin and man shouts in agony.
"Fuck – What are you–"
"I am protecting my father," Kurt explains calmly, and while the man is still stumbling with a key in his hand, Kurt rips off his scarf to wrap it around the man's neck. "Now, tell me what I want to know, or I will strangle you to death with a silk scarf."
Honestly, Kurt's not really sure that's possible, but the man seems appropriately fearful. He nods.
"Who's Lucy? What does she have to do with this?"
"Lucy Keary. One of the orderlies here. She's done this for years; sneaking people in so they can fuck the people in comas – your dad's just another on a long list."
Kurt frowns. "Who are you?"
"Uh. Henry Packer; I'm no-one, I'm just a guy," he says, pulling at the scarf. "Please let me go; I have two daughters, and I never meant to hurt your dad; he's in a coma, so it's not like I'd ever thought–"
Kurt's barely fighting the urge to show him how wrong he is in slightly fatal ways when people rush in. "What the hell is going on here?"
Kurt drops the scarf. "This is a man who..." he chokes on the words. "He was going to rape my father."
It is dealt with. The man is held in a prison cell for a while, but Kurt knows unless charges are pressed he won't stay there. And he can't just do that without asking his dad. He's not even a hundred percent sure he could legally, but even if it's possible, he wouldn't do that to his father.
He enters the hospital the next day to see a woman carrying a heavy looking box, with several more behind her. He somewhat wonders why no-one is helping her – instead, they stare like she is Satan himself. Herself. He's just about to take a step forward and do it himself, until a hand lands on his shoulder.
He looks up to see Alison standing next to him. "What's going on?" he asks. "Who is that?"
The woman sighs deeply. "That's Lucy Keary," she says. "I can't believe she would..."
"...Oh." Kurt can't bring himself to say anything else. Possibly should have figured that out on your own, he thinks, which doesn't really help. Then before he knows it, he's charging up to Lucy and yanking the box out of her hands.
"Kurt!" yells Alison.
"Hi. I'm Kurt Hummel," he says, voice quavering. Lucy looks at him like a deer in the headlights. "You're Lucy Keary, right?" he vaguely wonders if he should shake her hand to emphasize the sarcasm of the thing, but he chooses against it (mostly because it requires touching her). "We're going to talk."
She sighs and looks resigned, and he grabs her wrist to drag her into a small room (touching her isn't as bad as it could be – he's not on fire yet – but he still hates it). He slams the door behind them and makes her jump.
For a while, they just stare at each other.
"...How? Why?" he asks, those tears pricking at his eyes again. He doesn't need to say anything else.
"Look, kid, I'm sorry," she says. "This was never meant to happen. I never expected anyone to – I mean, I've been doing this off-and-on for two years, and you're the first person who's figured it out. Doctors are usually so worked up about what they're meant to be doing that they miss what's really happening. They rationalize the scratch or the bruise or whatever it is as perfectly innocent, and then they're on their way."
He shakes his head. "I'm sorry. I missed how negligence is meant to justify you conspiring to rape; serial rape, even."
"It's not rape!" she says. Seriously? "Okay, look. These people are in comas. They don't know anything, and any physical injuries my friends leave are more or less healed by the time they wake up. No-one gets hurt, my friends get off, I get their cash – it's a win-win situation. I'm sorry you had to go through all this, but–"
He slaps her in the face. "Are you insane?" he yells. Maybe he should feel worse for hitting a girl, but right now he doubts anyone could blame him. "Okay, people get hurt. Who says people can't tell where their injuries came from? And what about STDs, pregnancies? And that's not the point. People have a right to their own bodily integrity, and you don't just get to call 'no harm, no foul' over violating that because said person doesn't remember. Okay, it doesn't work like that."
She looks down at the floor, ashamed and muttering, "I needed the money."
"Boo-hoo, poor you," he says. She just stares at him for a second. "Get out of here, Lucy."
"That's just what I was doing," she says before she opens the door and walks out. She picks up her box again, and he slumps against the door as he watches her.
He's called into the dean's office again after that, somewhat to his confusion. He thought they'd be sheepishly avoiding him now it is not absolutely essential to hear his demands.
"Hello?" he asks. The dean looks grim.
"Kurt, hi," he says, indicating the chair opposite him. "Sit down, please."
Kurt feels uncomfortable, but he does so. "So, uh, what are you attempting to talk to me about?"
The man sighs. "I would have thought that was obvious, Kurt."
Kurt shifts uncomfortably in his seat. "Well, yes – my father. I guessed as much. I was wondering what specifically you had to say? With the discovery and firing of Lucy Keary, I thought... you'd let it go for at least one more day."
The man shrugs. "I guess... we wanted to ask you what exactly your plans are when it comes to acting about this situation. You know, legally."
Kurt stares. "I, uh... I can't decide for him. I will... support whatever his decision is, but..."
"He doesn't know, Kurt."
"Well, no, he's in a coma," Kurt bites back. "But when he wakes up."
The dean sighs again. "Look, this is probably none of my business, but... why should he have to know?" Kurt tilts his head to the side in confusion.
"Look, his injuries are mostly superficial. We expect him to wake in a couple of weeks, by which time they will mostly have healed – and anything that hasn't could be easily explained away, without him realizing how many people got to..." he trails off. "Kurt, your father has gone through a horrible, traumatic thing. I can't pretend I could understand what it would be like to go through that – and neither could you."
The man pauses for emphasis. "Look, your dad has an actual chance here. He could not have to go through the trauma of all this, just because he doesn't know about it. He would live, and be happy. Isn't that all you've ever wanted for your dad? Telling him this; ruining his life... could you really bring yourself to do that?"
Kurt gapes at him in horror. "You're manipulating me! You just know if my family took legal action, it would destroy this hospital's reputation, so you're trying to guilt me into not letting that happen!"
"Well, of course," replies the dean without missing a beat. "But that doesn't mean I'm wrong about what it would do to Burt," he says. "Besides – you may not have noticed this, but we're actually a really good hospital. We're well staffed, and well funded. You thought we were the best, didn't you? You said that shortly after your dad was first brought in."
Kurt nods. "Well, yes, but I obviously wasn't thinking of the whole sexual violence epidemic here when I said that," he snaps.
"Look, I'm sorry. I will never be able to apologize enough for what happened to your father under our care; I know that," says the dean. "But... if you tell him, you won't only hurt him, you'll be hurting plenty others. People will refuse to go to this hospital, and go to worse ones – medically speaking. For those who don't, we'll lose money and staff, so the quality of care will be reduced – people will die, Kurt."
Kurt looks away, sniffling. He disturbs himself with the fact he's even listening to this. "I just want to protect my dad," he mumbles.
The dean sighs. "Here, Kurt, look at this," he hands Kurt a photo image-down. Kurt takes it, but doesn't look up at him. He doesn't turn the photo over until it's under his nose.
The photo is of a man – late twenties, early thirties or so – lying dead; corpse covered in blood and mutilated almost beyond recognition. The image shows his body against cold, hard concrete.
Kurt drops it. "What – What is this? I mean – who's he?"
The dean sighs. "Was. I know his name was Sean; we never got a last name. It was years ago – I'm not sure you would have even been born, but – he was a man who came in here, a hysterical mess. A rape victim. We did the appropriate medical tests, and we tried to find out who he was, but – he carried no ID, and wasn't in a psychological state to tell us. Then he snuck out of his ward, and threw himself off the roof."
Kurt can't help but gasp.
"Look, Kurt. If you told your dad... You don't know, he could take it this badly. Like Sean. If you won't stop for his sake, thing about it – how old are you? Seventeen at most? You'd be alone."
Kurt just stares at the photo.
As predicted, Burt wakes up in a couple of weeks.
"Dad!" Kurt reaches forward and grasps his hand. "You're awake! You're... alive."
"I'm a Hummel, kid, I'll come through," he murmurs. "What happened?"
"Heart attack," despite what he's saying, Kurt smiles through his tears. "I would say 'I told you so', but it seems viciously inappropriate."
Burt doesn't respond to that, eyes half-closed. Kurt's pretty sure he should be calling for a doctor or nurse about now, but for some reason he's not.
"I hurt," mutters Burt. "Did something else happen? I feel like I got stabbed with a thousand knives."
Kurt's not smiling anymore. His mouth goes dry.
Maybe he should tell Dad what – no. He eventually agreed with the dean, even if he knew that man had selfish intentions: telling Dad what happened would ruin him. Destroy him. Burt is such a strong person, and he prizes himself on being able to protect everyone – how would he react ever found out what happened? Even if he didn't wind up dead like that Sean man, it wouldn't be his father anymore. Kurt failed in protecting his father, he knows that – but he thinks he can do this now; protect his dad from the horrible strain of knowing.
He's also one hundred percent certain that's insane, and he's completely doing the wrong thing right now. But he doesn't care anymore. He wants to protect his dad.
"Well, you fell. Then you were in a cramped hospital bed, unconscious, for weeks," he hopes his dad's semi-awake state will mean he won't notice how forced Kurt's voice is.
Burt mutters something indistinct.
Kurt holds his hand tighter, tears starting to break lose. "I love you, Dad," he chokes out.
"Love you to," Burt mumbles.
Kurt inhales deeply. He just hopes – given he sold his soul to the devil to give his father another chance of being happy after such a thing happened to him, it better damn work.