Author's Notes: Written for this prompt on the glee_angst_meme:

"For the past two months, Kurt's been developing an awful lot of bruises. The first time, he claimed he tripped down the stairs to the basement. The second time, he said he walked into a light pole. The third time, he supposedly slipped in the shower. Nobody is buying it.

Burt and several of the Glee kids think it's Kurt's new boyfriend, Sam (or Jesse if you prefer, as long as it's someone the kids don't trust.)

Sam (or Jesse) thinks it's Burt, who he doesn't know very well.

Will and the Glee kids who spend more time with Kurt and by proxy, Sam, think that the bullying is getting out of hand again.

The truth? Kurt really did trip down the stairs (the top step was wet), walk into a light pole (there was a basketball game going on across the street and half the guys were shirtless), and slip in the shower (Finn left the soap on the floor). But he's too embarrassed about it to really explain.

Basically what I want is everybody being suspicious and hostile with each other because they're not sure who is responsible and instead of comparing notes, they're trying to solve the (nonexistent) problem themselves."

Exact details of the prompt have changed thanks to Continuity Marching On, but w/e. Title is from Macbeth.

Toil and Trouble

"Kurt, what's that on your arm?"

Kurt blinks, looking surprised. "Oh – wait, what?"

Blaine gestures across the small cafe table to Kurt's arm. Before, it was covered up by the length of the sleeve of his shirt – however, it's ridden up slightly, and Blaine can see a rather conspicuous bruise on his forearm.

"Um..." Kurt seems... embarrassed. "It's – it's just a bruise."

"I noticed that. Where is it from, and is it really 'just'?"

Kurt bites his lip. "It's not a big deal, Blaine. It's just a bruise. Don't worry about me."

Yeah, he's not buying it. "Kurt, is everything okay at school? Because you know, I meant what I said back then about transferring to Dalton – if you're not safe–"

"Okay, enough with the patronizing!" Kurt snaps. "If you ever want this relationship to work, you're going to have to stop treating me like I've five, you know."

Blaine breathes in, and just accepts it. "Okay. Sorry."

"No you're not."

"Well, no. My boyfriend is in trouble and I'm trying to help him. If that makes me patronizing, so be it."

Kurt sighs, and pulls down the sleeve of his shirt uncomfortably – Blaine does his best not to flinch. "No, I'm sorry," he says. "I shouldn't have lashed out at you. I just have some difficulty opening up to people who ask, that's all."

Since when? is Blaine's first thought, but he keeps it down because that's really, really not likely to help.

"...So... the bruise is...?"

Kurt rolls his eyes and smiles. "Nothing to worry about, believe me. The bullying isn't getting any worse yet. Karofsky's actually backed off quite a bit so far – more because he fears me outing him to the populace than anything, but: gift. horse. mouth. I'm fine, Blaine, really."

"Fine, and still not telling me where your goddamn bruise came from."

Kurt looks a little uncomfortable. "There was just... um... I slipped, okay? There was water on the top stair to my room and I slipped; I banged my arm."

Blaine raises an eyebrow at him. "Then why didn't you just say that?"

Kurt avoids his eyes. "It's complicated. Well, more like... stupid."

Blaine's stomach starts churning. He wants to believe Kurt about the bruise; believe this is all innocent, but–

Who bruises like that from a momentary slip? On stairs, which you'd think would hurt your feet more? Blaine knows he doesn't bruise so easy, but still. He knows how much Kurt goes through, and how freaking stubborn he can be – if someone hurt him, Blaine couldn't really trust Kurt to say as much. Blaine loves him for his guts, but a lot of the time he acts like he has to deal with things on his own when he really, really doesn't.

Blaine sighs and reaches across the table to grasp Kurt's hand. "You know, if you were in trouble, you could tell me? Right? I love you."

Kurt smiles at him. "I know, Blaine. You don't need to worry about me. I'm just fine." As if it's meant to convince him, Kurt raises Blaine's hand to his mouth and kisses it, and Blaine laughs.

"So I'm the girl now?"

"Don't be heteronormative," Kurt chides. "Now come on, we have a movie to get to."

Blaine leads him out of the coffee place by the wrist, not quite believing him exactly.

"Why are you in my room?"

Finn jumps up and manages to bang his head on the open drawer of Kurt's bedside table. "Ow!" he whines. Then he turns around to look at Kurt. "Oh, uh, sorry man. Rachel said she'd given you this sheet music that I was gonna need, so I was just kind of looking for it. Promise I stayed well away from any diary looking books. And anywhere I thought you might stash porn, 'cause that would be creepy and I'm totally cool with the gay thing but there is stuff a straight dude really doesn't need to see in detail."

Kurt goes bright red. "You could have just asked me, Finn."

Finn shrugs uncomfortably. "Yeah, but I'm weird and feel majorly awkward about actually walking into your room and getting you to give me stuff. So I just thought I'd wait until you were out and steal it."

Kurt rolls his eyes. "Really, theft is not likely to make things less awkward, Finn." He walks past Finn to a different drawer, and pulls it open. Finn notices something, and grips him by the shoulder.

"Dude. Kurt."

Kurt looks up at him, irritated. "What is it, Finn?"

Finn stares at him solemnly. "What's that on your arm?"

Kurt blinks, then pulls his arm away. "Oh. That," he says. "I, uh... tripped on the staircase; banged my wrist. Please don't tell anyone about this; I'll keep it covered up, but–"

"Kurt, just stop," Finn says. He knows he can be stupid, and he can be kind of a douche, but he is neither that stupid or that douchey that he can let this go. Kurt needs him. "...How was your date?"

"...Just fine, thank you very–" It takes a few seconds for Kurt to look like he gets it. "Oh no. No no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no. Blaine did not do this to me, Finn. He's a gentleman."

"And sometimes guys who seem really nice turn out to be complete assholes," Finn says, getting frustrated. "Kurt, you suddenly show up after seeing this guy and you've got one motherfucker of a bruise. What am I supposed to think?"

Kurt rolls his eyes. "It's nothing to do with him. And I've had this for days, Finn; maybe if you paid a little more attention to me you'd be aware of this."

"Dude, do not try and guilt-trip me about this," Finn says, although he's kind of thinking: shit, has he really had that bruise for days? Big brother fail! "And even so, the fact you start showing up with bruises when you get a new boyfriend? Yeah, that freaks me out!"

"One bruise, Finn. And one boyfriend, ever," says Kurt. Finn blinks.

"Dude, just because he's your first doesn't mean you have to put up with–"

"I'm not putting up with anything, Finn," says Kurt, gritting his teeth. "Blaine and I couldn't be happier. And, for the record, if something was wrong – you'd be terrible at helping. This level of aggression and misunderstanding when dealing with an abuse victim wouldn't be distressing and triggering at all."

Finn sighs. "You're right," he says. "Sorry. Just..." he gently squeezes Kurt's shoulder. "You're my little bro, you know? You need me, I'm here."

Kurt looks away, and starts fishing through his drawer again. "Here," he says, handing Finn paper. "Your sheet music. You got what you came for. You can leave me room now."

Finn nods and just takes the music. "Okay. I can't even read sheet music, but..."

Kurt smiles at him as he walks away.

Finn is going to figure this out.

And probably kick that Blaine kid's ass.

Okay, maybe this is a little cyber-stalkery. Whatever. It's just Facebook after all.

He hopes that Blaine guy will actually friend him back, 'cause you can't really stalk people via Facebook if they don't. Yeah, the guy doesn't actually know who he is, but Finn usually just friends people who friend him who he doesn't know all the time. Which is probably dumb, but hopefully that Blaine guy will be equally dumb.

If not – well, at least the guy can see he's crazy tall in his profile picture. Finn knows he's probably not the best guy to try and intimidate his sort-of brother's boyfriend's via the internet, but he is like seven feet tall. He's got that going for him.

Blaine's profile picture is a group shot, which is annoying. Finn can't tell which one of them he is. Are these the Warblers? Finn kind of thinks one of them looks like Harry Potter, but his life would never be cool enough for his brother to date Harry Potter.

Dude, focus.

He friends the guy.

Blaine is not expecting the friend request – who the hell is Finn Hudson?

Blaine frowns. He remembers a name like that... of course! Finn! Kurt's told him about that guy; his former classmate turned former crush soon to turn stepbrother (that story was pretty complicated, not going to lie). Blaine frowns. Why is Finn friending him? He hasn't even met the family yet. Is Finn just being an overprotective big brother, or...

It could be spying. He and Kurt agreed to leave their showchoir rivalries out of this before they first went out – Kurt said something about having another Jesse St. James, and Blaine didn't know who that was, but anyone with a name that close to a famous outlaw can't be good news – but no-one else has agreed to do so. Well, Wes and David, but just because he ranted at them for hours.

Blaine swallows. Somehow, he's fearing something more than spying. Look, Blaine doesn't want to judge a guy he doesn't know, but... Kurt's told him Finn's had a few moments of homophobia. That Finn didn't take his crush all that well. That Finn warned him off singing a duet with a guy he liked, because it might upset homophobes, and somehow that's Kurt's responsibility. That Finn used to be the center of the jock clique before joining Glee, and was pretty terrible to Kurt like everyone else. That there was a whole incident when Kurt tried to redecorate their room, and it just led to Finn ambushing him with hate speech and the families having to split again.

Okay, that's a pretty harsh assessment. It's not like Kurt hasn't told him anything good about Finn. He said Finn was really just trying to protect everyone with the duet thing, and ignorant of how offensive that was – Kurt didn't genuinely believe Finn had a problem with him singing with a boy per se. Kurt's admitted he could have been more tactful about his crush on Finn – manipulating your way into his home and sabotaging a girl who likes him, not really the way to win anyone's heart. Kurt's said Finn really did go far to win him back – anyone who shows up to school in a red shower curtain gets some cred.

Still, Blaine doesn't know this guy, and some of what he's been told about him... makes Blaine not want to trust him.

It gets him thinking back to the bruise on Kurt's wrist. Could that have been Finn? Who knows, maybe his homophobia got a bit more severe once Kurt dared to actually date. Maybe Finn tried to warn him off violently. Who's first thought would be the stepbrother if they saw bruises on Kurt? The first thought would be bullies, boyfriend, father. Not other family which isn't even technically family.

Blaine doesn't add the guy back, but he doesn't quite feel comfortable saying 'ignore', so he just lets the request clog up his messages.

Okay, maybe it's a little unfair to ambush his kid and kid's new boyfriend into a 'meeting the parents' session like this. Plus, it kind of needed stalking for it to work, but whatever. He really ought to meet this guy. Finn's been looking weirdly antsy when the guy's come up lately – Burt's kind of worried it's gonna turn out to be another burst of homophobia, so he really wants to check if there's a real reason.

...He didn't really want to catch them making out on his couch, but hey, this was a lot more of a surprise with that damn cheerleader. He'll deal.

"Uh, Kurt?"

He yelps as he breaks away from his boyfriend's mouth, scrambling to sit up properly – which forces the kid in his prep uniform back up too. "Dad!" he says, flushed and embarrassed. "I thought you were out."

Burt shrugs, internally wondering how he's meant to put this so he doesn't wind up revealing he's one of those obsessive dads that wants to watch over all their dates with a shotgun. "Well, I'm not. From the looks of it, might be a good thing, given..."

He trails off as he notices something. Something he should have noticed.

A bruise. Right there on his son's arm, vicious and purple, and really obviously visible now the make-out session has got his sleeves all rolled up.


As if on cue, Kurt looks panicked and rolls his sleeves down, obviously trying to hide the mark. Burt gulps as he meets the boyfriend's – Blaine, it was, right? – eyes, obviously ignorant of what Burt just figured out.

Son of a bitch.

"So, uh," says Kurt, nervously fidgeting with his hair. "Tell me you don't have a problem with this, right?"

Burt stares at Kurt, then looks back at that Blaine kid, doing his best not to lash out and punch the guy in the face right away. How could Kurt let a guy...?

"Well, uh, I think Blaine gotta go home now." Kurt looks surprised, then rolls his eyes. "Just... 'cause I'm home."

Blaine looks awkwardly at Kurt, and then at Burt. He looks like he's about to protest, but Burt sends him a glare that would tell anyone otherwise. Especially the kind of sick freak who thinks he can beat on Burt Hummel's kid.

Kurt sighs, and looks at his boyfriend in annoyance. "Fine," he grumbles, and leans in to give his Blaine a chaste peck on the lips – Burt does his best to make sure him clenching his fists by his sides isn't too obvious. "See you tomorrow."

Blaine nods, and stands up off the couch. "Okay," he says, looking between Kurt and Burt. "Love you." He turns to Burt, appraising him with a wary look. "Nice meeting you, Mr. Hummel."

"It's Burt," Burt says, and Blaine just nods as he makes his way to the door, swinging it open and shut. Kurt gives a frustrated puff of breath.

"Are you done with your sudden overprotective caveman dad attitude now?" he snarks. "What was–"

"What was that, Kurt?"

Kurt looks taken aback. "That was, um, my relationship in action. Since when are you the kind to–"

"Not that, Kurt. Long as the boy doesn't get too handsy, I don't mind you making out with him on the couch. But what the hell was that on your arm?"

Kurt sighs and grabs the offending wrist through the fabric. "Why does everyone keep doing this?" he asks. "That's the third time, dad – no-one is hurting me, okay? I slipped on the stairs and banged my arm on the railing. That's all."

"Bullshit," says Burt. "You can't lie to me, kid. I know you better than that. If that private school jackass things he can–"

"Blaine doesn't think he can do anything, Dad." Kurt is glaring now. "He's a gentleman. And, given this is my first relationship ever, I really would appreciate it if everyone stopped trying to ruin everything out of their own paranoia."

Burt's stomach sinks. Fuck. He knew the bullies got to Kurt sometimes, but did being gay really make him so lonely he'd let a boy beat him just because he didn't feel like he could do better?

"Kurt," Burt says, gently laying a hand on his son's shoulder, "You don't have to just take this because–"

"I'm not taking anything, Dad," Kurt says. "Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to my room."

Blaine walks off to the sound of Burt yelling "What was that?" in the background.

He just runs.

He feels just a little sick. He's made assumptions about where that bruise came from before – bullies, Finn – but this is...

Back before he came to Dalton, a lot of his survival relied upon being able to tell people's emotions and when they were changing. He got used to reading body language, and Burt Hummel wasn't particularly subtle – he walked in to find his son making out with a boy on the couch, and he got mad.

Blaine's met men like that before – rough, midwestern, manly men. Yes, he's stereotyping, but he can see such a man having difficulties with Kurt's sexuality. It's hard to see him not. Kurt hasn't actually told him a terrible amount about his father – his ill health, his business, a rough sketch of his personality – but nothing to fill in the blanks like that minute meeting.

Burt was angry about seeing his son's boyfriend. Burt kicked him out before he started yelling. Clearly, whatever was going on there, he wasn't meant to see – it makes his stomach churn, and his conscience start revolting. He shouldn't have just left Kurt there, alone with him.

Blaine can't understand this. From what he knows – Finn getting kicked out for his insults – he's having some problems reconciling that sort of imagined attitude with what he thinks of Burt Hummel right now. What kind of dad would kick a guy out for one negative remark towards his son, but leave bruises on his kid's arms anyway?

Maybe he's just imagining it. Maybe it wasn't Burt Hummel.

Despite everything telling him otherwise.

"Why didn't you tell me about Blaine?"

Finn blinks at Burt saying this, and turns around to face him. He looks furious. "Wait, huh?" Finn asks. "Didn't Kurt tell you he was... I thought he had. Sorry man, I guess I didn't–"

"I knew they were dating, Finn, don't play dumb," says Burt. "Why didn't you tell me about that bruise Kurt's got – you gotta think that's from Blaine. And don't you tell me you didn't know; you've been seeming uncomfortable whenever Kurt brought the guy up for ages. I thought it might just be another burst of homophobia, but–"

Shit, Finn thinks. He didn't want to talk to Burt about all this until he was more certain about things, but apparently that's really pissed the guy off. "Look, Burt... I should have talked to you earlier, but I didn't know there was anything going on. I mean, it could have been Blaine who gave him that bruise, but I couldn't just tell. Kurt said he whacked his arm on the banister. I thought I should at least try to see if that was true. I was kind of facebook stalking Blaine, actually, to try and figure this out."

Burt doesn't seem overly reassured. "Really? You're gonna buy what he says about falling down the stairs? How naive are you?"

Finn shrugs uncomfortably. He knows he's not an overly bright guy, but is just considering the idea Kurt was telling him the truth really another sign of that?

Finn sighs. "I dunno," he says. "So, uh, what do you wanna do? 'Cause Kurt says..."

"Yeah, I know," says Burt. "I tried to talk to him just after I saw the damn thing. He told me the same thing he told you – whacked his arm on the railing. He didn't seem happy 'bout me asking, either."

"...Look, Burt," says Finn, slowly and carefully. "Maybe we need to back off. I mean, if Kurt won't tell us he needs help, we can't really do that much. And you're gonna be mad if I say this, but I still think he might be telling us the truth about what happened. Look, I know you're kind of Papa-Bear about him, but just, like... be careful, okay? If he's not getting hurt, I'd kind of like to keep it that way."

Burt glares at him. "If he is, it's your fault, and you'll pay for it."

Finn nods along. "Fine."

The next time Blaine sees him, Kurt has a black eye.

"Oh god," he says before he can even think of stopping himself. Kurt raises an eyebrow at this expression of shock.

"What, am I that ravishing?" he asks – Blaine is about to say not funny, Kurt, before Kurt preempts him by suddenly realizing and gaping. He covers the eye with a hand. "Oh god, Blaine," he says. "Okay, I know you're going to immediately jump to conclusions that something horrible happened, but please don't. If it had, wouldn't I have gone to more effort to cover the damn thing up, actually having something to hide? I walked into a pole, okay. Ungraceful and embarrassing, but perfectly innocent."

Blaine's barely even paying attention. "Bullshit," he says. "Your dad did this to you, didn't he?"

Kurt's eyes go wide as saucers. "Wait, what?"

Blaine sighs in frustration, running his hands through his hair. "Kurt, I'm good at reading people's signals. I pretty much had to be to survive before coming to Dalton. I know what I saw – your dad was not happy when he caught us last Friday."

"Blaine, it's not like–"

"Don't, Kurt," Blaine says. "Look, from what I saw, he's a big, rough, midwestern guy – of course he has a problem with it! He might act like Dad of the Year, but when he has to realize his son being gay means guys are actually going to–"

"Okay, do you want to stereotype some more?" Kurt says, gaping in disbelief. "Do you have... any idea how much my dad does for me? How he has always done everything he can to protect me? You can think what you want, but my father is not some kind of... redneck who thinks having a gay son is–"

"Kurt, I'm trying to help," Blaine says. "Okay, maybe I shouldn't stereotype. But he was mad when he walked in on us, and now you have a black eye; what am I meant to think?"

"You're meant to actually listen to me," Kurt shoots back. "None of that had anything to do with each other."

"I don't believe you," says Blaine. "Please stop trying to protect him."

"I'm not. Well, I am, but that's because it's not true and you're being horribly, hopelessly paranoid."

"I'm paranoid?" asks Blaine. "Fine then. You want to explain how angry he got and still say he's perfectly okay with all this; not a risk?"

Kurt suddenly stops looking him in the eye. "I... I could tell you. But I'm not going to."

Blaine raises an eyebrow. "Well, that's reassuring."

Kurt groans. "Blaine, please, just don't? Trust me. I promise my dad has never done anything... Fuck, I really ought to fix this. And you... how did this happen?"

His voice cracks on the last word, and it just breaks Blaine's heart. "That's... kind of what I'm trying to get you to tell me, Kurt." He gently lays a hand on Kurt's shoulder, before pulling him into a hug. "Just tell me what's going on."

Kurt abruptly pushes away. "I have," he says. "Believe it or not. You seem to be choosing 'not', but I guess everyone else is doing that too, so you don't have to feel so bad."

Wait, what? Blaine thinks.

Kurt sighs. "Is everyone truly so overprotective of me that their first response to two bruises is automatically some kind of horrible abuse?"

Blaine bites his lip. "Kurt, I know you. You're strong and brave, and really fucking stubborn. You don't want to admit you can't handle things. You have a right to ask for help, you know."

Kurt actually rolls his eyes. "Have you even been listening? I don't need help. I'm sorry, I have to get to class."

He walks out, and Blaine groans in frustration.

"Finn Hudson?"

He spins around to see a dude he doesn't know, and why is a guy – wait, that's the dude from the photo when he went cyberstalking! Harry Potter!

...Which still doesn't explain why he's here, but whatever, Finn'll deal.

He gives the guy a shrug and a smile. "Hey," he says. "Yeah, that's me. Uh... who are you?"

The guy holds out his hand. "Blaine," he says, and – hey, Kurt is dating Harry Potter after all. Cool. Finn shakes his hand. "I'm sure Kurt's told you about me."

"Uh, yeah," says Finn. "And I tried facebook stalking you, but you had a picture with a whole bunch of dudes so I didn't really know what you looked like. You've really got to be more considerate of your potential stalkers, y'know."

Blaine laughs. "I'll keep that in mind," he says. "Overprotective big brother much?"

Suddenly, Finn's brain kicks into gear – he remembers why he tried facebook-stalking Blaine in the first place.

The bruises.

The bruises Kurt wouldn't explain properly, and still won't, even though now he's gotten this nasty black eye.

The bruises that started when this Blaine person showed up.

Do not trust this dude.

Finn suddenly goes back into serious mode. "So, uh... why are you here?"

Blaine shuffles uncomfortably from foot to foot, looking over his shoulder like he's scared of someone overhearing. Finn swallows heavily. "Look, Finn... I don't know you... at all, but I expect you care about Kurt. And I'm worried about him, and he won't talk to me, so I thought you could..."

We're all worried about him because you keep punching him, jackass, is Finn's first thought, but then he decides that's probably a bit unfair. He doesn't know it's Blaine, as he tried to remind Burt yesterday (he's got a feeling it didn't work so well).

"Then, uh... what's up? Why are you...?"

Blaine bites his lip. "He has bruises. You must have seen them. He won't explain to me where they came from properly; he says thinks like walking into poles and whacking his arm on banisters, and I am certain someone's hurting him."

Finn nods along. "Oh, yeah, that. Man, everyone's been freaking about that for like, ages. It's scary as fuck. We kind of thought–"

Okay, this is confusing. He spent all that time thinking, if someone was hurting Kurt it'd be the boyfriend, and now said boyfriend is...?


Blaine sighs. "Look, you're pretty much going to be his stepbrother soon, and – I met his dad last Friday."

Finn cocks his head to the side.

"He was mad when he caught me and Kurt making out – and it wasn't a big make-out; we were being pretty fluffy and innocent. We really shouldn't have pissed him off. But we did. And the next time I saw Kurt, he'd gotten that black eye. Do you think Burt would have–"

"Burt? No way!" Finn says. "Dude, you don't know him, do you? Burt is like crazy overprotective. I got kicked out for it once. He'd kill anyone who hurt Kurt; he'd never–"

"And you don't think that overprotectiveness could be possessive too, right?" asks Blaine. Finn blinks. "Not wanting his son to have a boyfriend. Lashing out because of it, even."

"That's just creepy and crazy–"

"Then explain it to me, Finn," says Blaine. "Tell me who'd hurt Kurt so badly. Tell me why Burt would be so angry. Just..."

Finn avoids his eyes. He can't say the truth – what kind of asshole accuses a guy of beating his boyfriend when the guy's just shown up all worried about his boyfriend getting beat? Yeah, it's what he thought at the time, but if he tells Blaine that it'll probably just piss him off – more, even.

"...It's complicated," he says, which is probably a kind of shitty answer, but he's trying. "Look, dude – we've never met before so you don't have any real reason to, but just trust me, okay? Burt wouldn't hurt Kurt. I don't really know what's going on, but it's not that."

Blaine just glares at him. "If you're covering – letting this Burt guy get off; letting Kurt get hurt? I'll kill you."

Finn flinches at that. "...Okay," he says.

Blaine sighs and walks off. Finn's starting to feel like people expect him to be a lot better with all this than he is.

Dave doesn't actually care when he sees Hummel's black eye.

Totally. He doesn't. He slams the fag into lockers like always. Still, he's gotta ask.

"Yo, homo!" he yells. Hummel turns around, observing the empty corridor, looking irritated and maybe a little scared.

"For god's sakes, what do you want?" he bitches. "As if this week couldn't get any worse."

Dave's taken aback. "Fuck off," he says. "I'm not actually going to beat you up, though. Just – what the fuck happened to your eye?"

Hummel blinks. "...You care?" he asks. "Actually, maybe that's not so surprising anymore, but–"

"Fuck off!" Dave's pulse starts racing at like a million miles an hour – he doesn't care. Not about Kurt fucking Hummel. He doesn't. "I don't care and all your girly bullshit. I'm not gonna like, go all knight in shining armor for you. I was just wondering, that's all."

Hummel actually has the balls to roll his eyes. "Karofsky, once you've planted an almost film-intensity kiss on me in the boys' locker room, I think your attempts at pretending your feelings for me are nothing but disgust and loathing are going to be a little ineffectual."

"Shut the fuck up!" Dave didn't kiss Hummel. That's not what happened. He wouldn't.

...Okay, he kind of did, but it wasn't because he likes the dude or something faggy like that. He just, uh, thought it might teach the guy not to be so fucking stuck-up, and maybe if Dave got a bit of a taste of his faggotry it'd stop being so fucking annoying all the time.

That's it. Totally.

"Whatever, Karofsky," says Hummel. "If you actually don't give a damn, as you insist, I will be leaving."

"No you're not!" Dave yells. "You're not leaving until you explain what exactly is going on here."

Hummel looks annoyed. "It is none of your business."

"Was this that private school kid?" Dave asks, clenching his fists by his sides. "He think just because he's got daddy's money and a school that doesn't want to shove him back in the closet, he has the right to smack around the first boy–"

"No!" Kurt cries. "For god's sakes, that's the fourth person to theorize I'm being horribly abused somehow. And now it's the one who spends most of his life throwing me into lockers. Does this not seem ironic?"

"Not the point, Hummel," says Dave. "That guy can't–"

"Karofsky. Nothing is happening. I walked into a goddamn pole. Now, if you insist on being an obsessive stalker yet still massively in denial, could you at least try not to be a complete hypocrite about it? Thank you."

Kurt turns on his heel and prances away, and Karofsky groans. Whatever's going on, he's not going to get Hummel to talk to him about it. Not that he cares about Hummel, or wants the homo crying on his shoulder. No way. It's just...

Well, even if Hummel's a fag, Dave's got a bit of a conscience for him. He can't go about throwing the guy into lockers if he thinks he's causing weird abuse trauma memories to fuck with Hummel's brain, right? And throwing Hummel into lockers is fun.

That's it. Really.

Finn's innocently washing his hands when Karofsky bursts into the boys' washroom.

"Hudson! We need to talk!"

"We do?" Finn asks innocently, but then Karofsky is right behind him and Finn knows trying to get out would just get him punched in the face. And yeah, he could probably take Karofsky in a fight thanks to the being ridiculously tall thing, but still – it'd hurt, and he's already on shaky ground due to a few weeks back walking down the hallway in his underwear, so he really doesn't want to get caught fighting. So he decides he'll just have to talk to Karofsky.

"Uh, yeah," says Karofsky, and Finn turns around to face him. He does his best to stand up tall, so Karofsky remembers without Azimio here he hasn't got such a straight shot at overpowering Finn. "What the hell is up with Hummel?"

Finn blinks. "Wait, what?"

"Don't play dumb. That black eye. The bruises. Those weren't me, and I want to know who is was then. Talk."

Finn's still confused – although, actually, after all this he hadn't theorized it was just the bullying getting worse, which probably would have made more sense than what a lot people were saying. Then again, since Karofsky's clueless, that theory's kind of screwed.

"Uh... why do you even give a damn? You hate Kurt. You spend most of your life trying to make him crazy. Are you just, I don't know, jealous 'cause someone else could fuck him over worse than you did?"

"Stop dodging the question," Karofsky says, and Finn thinks Karofsky's doing just that himself, but whatever – he really ought to go with it.

"Dude, I don't know," he says. "Kurt's got these bruises and shit, and he keeps saying they're from like, accidents – and I don't really know whether to believe him, but no-one else does, and I thought it was his boyfriend before his boyfriend came up to me scared shitless about it too, and apparently he thought Burt was doing it, which just – no, would not happen – so now I really don't know what's going on, and I really don't know where you came from. Seriously, why is this your problem?"

Karofsky seems uncomfortable. "Nothing, it's just – well, faggot or not, you can hardly beat up the kid who's getting that already from someone who really has no excuse to want to kick the fairy's ass, can you?"

Finn glares. "And what's your 'excuse'?"

Karofsky shrugs. "He's a fag, and I'm not like Daddy Dear or whatever – I don't have to be cool with his freakishness."

"You make like, no sense," Finn says. "And I'm sorry, but I can't help you, dude."

"Well ain't that convenient," Karofsky sneers. "What is it, Hudson? You scared of wanting to tap that ass, so you're trying to kick it instead? Fucking pervert."

"Wait, you think I'm doing this?" Finn asks. "Dude, no way. And for the last time, I'm not gay. Not into Kurt. What the fuck is your problem?"

Karofsky doesn't talk for a long moment, and it's really awkward. He just glares.

"Dude?" asks Finn.

"If you're lying to me," Karofsky's voice is suddenly low and dark, "If you somehow know what's going on? I will cut your balls off and make them into sausages."

Karofsky storms out, and Finn stares in confusion. Did Karofsky just threaten to kick his ass for Kurt's sake?

Did he fall through some kind of transdimensional portal?


Finn groans. He is getting kind of annoyed with everyone holding him responsible for everything.


Kurt looks surprised, and nervously taps on the book he's holding on the cafe table. "Hello, Blaine," he says. "I've decided how to have this conversation without everyone getting frustrated and no-one believing each other."

Blaine's confused, but he takes the seat across from Kurt anyway. "Okay," he says. "What is that?"

"This?" Kurt indicates the book. "My diary. Yes, feel honored by my trust of you. No, don't take it too strongly – you are getting to read very select few entries."

"Oh. Okay." Then Kurt's thumbing through the book, selecting the proper date.

"Here. Two weeks ago; December first."

Blaine looks at the written explanation expectantly.

Hit my arm on the banister of the stairs. Accidentally let water drip onto the top of the stairs from that attempt at creating an automatic facial cloth – embarrassing! Hoping Blaine will stop doing that forearm-grip thing he does when we kiss – not that I dislike it, but it would irritate the bruise, and then I'd have to explain. It sounds stupid, but... Blaine seems to think I'm so graceful, intelligent, rational; like a nymph or something – I don't want him realizing I can be terribly clumsy and have really stupid ideas. Is that so bad?

Blaine sucks in a breath, and meets Kurt's eyes over the book. Kurt smiles weakly, and reaches over to turn him to another page. "And this one."

So, that god I don't actually believe in anyway? Kind of a jackass. Like a bully at school, really. I mean, he's a total tease – he showed off this whole group of very attractive men playing basketball, mostly with their shirts off, because it's weirdly warm for December today. Anyway, because I have eyes, I got distracted... and kind of walked into a telephone poll. Non-existent god, you did that on purpose. This is probably going to make things very awkward, especially given the way everyone's already throwing accusations of abuse around like tennis balls just from a small bruise. A black eye? Not going to help. God, I hate bruising easily. Still, I'd really rather not have to explain this to everyone. If I admit to physically injuring myself due to checking out men – well, I don't want to exacerbate anyone's slight, subconscious homophobia. Or make my boyfriend jealous. What exactly is the correct etiquette for ogling shirtless men when you're taken anyway?

Blaine bites his lip. "I don't mind?" he says, confusing Kurt. "Seriously, the checking out men without their shirts thing is fine. You're only human. Actually, why didn't you tell me about this? Make it a date of sexual perversion."

Kurt laughs and Blaine bites his lip.

"I... I'm really sorry, Kurt," Blaine says with a sigh. "I should have listened to you. I guess I just... I am a little paranoid. I learned to be. So, in my mind, the worst explanation for what happened to you was also the most likely. It was stupid and selfish and I'm sorry."

"It's okay," says Kurt. "If anything, it's a little sweet you're so deeply concerned for my sake. However, since things were getting so stressful, I decided it was time to prove myself."

Blaine quirks a smile. "What tipped you over the edge?"

Kurt hesitates. "...Karofsky's worried about me. I mean, as much as he can be with a somewhat violent obsession with me and the worst case of denial in history barring the fucking Nile itself, but still. When I realized that, I decided something really ought to be done – if only because Karofsky might actually kill you, or whoever he thought was hurting me."

"I can handle myself," Blaine says, and Kurt rolls his eyes.

"Uh-huh, sure."

"So, have you told anyone else... well, of course you've told, but have you done the diary proof thing with anyone else?"

Kurt shakes his head. "I'm planning on it, but no, not yet. You were first. Feel flattered."

"Will do."

"And if I'm going to explain to everyone else, you're going to have to give me my diary back."

Finn doesn't mean to steal the diary, okay? It's just... Kurt leaves it on the kitchen table, and Finn skims. He does his best to avoid anything that would be awkward; he just wants to know who's hurting Kurt already. 'Cause this has gotten out of hand, really.

He discovers that Kurt was telling the truth about everything and they were all being paranoid douchebags. Okay then.

Finn sighs and goes down to the basement to put it away, so Kurt won't kill him for reading his diary. No such luck, because Kurt walks in on him when he's putting it away. Although when he thinks about it, Kurt probably could have guessed just because it wouldn't have been where he left it – huh, that was dumb.

"Did you read my diary?"

"Uh..." Well, it's not like Finn can really deny it. "...Maybe, but dude, I was just trying to tell–"

"How could you?" Kurt strides right up to him, getting in his face. "What kind of disregard for my privacy do you have? Oh god – what did you read?"

"Nothing – well, actually, yeah, stuff, but I made the effort to skip over stuff I thought would get to, like, not-meant-for-my-ears, I swear," Finn says. "Man, I was worried about you. Everyone was – fucking Karofsky cornered me in the bathroom yesterday, wondering where you got that goddamn black eye! What was I meant to do?"

"You were meant to let me be the one to explain and decide!" Kurt says. "Do you have any idea what you could have – I mean – God, you aren't meant to be able to know about stuff you can't handle, Finn!"

Finn's suddenly on the defensive. "Well, I don't know, maybe if you weren't so obsessed with your pride or whatever you could have actually explained how all this happened and we would have believed you, instead of just letting us all spend forever terrified, you selfish asshole!"

"Oh, I'm selfish?" Kurt asks. "You know, that was my exact plan before you decided my choice in all this wasn't so important. And explain to me why I am the one who has to prove anything when the events are happening to me; it's not up to the rest of you to actually respect me enough to listen?"

"Kurt, we didn't want people beating you up. Are you seriously trying to make me feel like a bad brother for that?" Finn thinks he can hear something in the background, but whatever – he and Kurt are distracted by yelling at each other.

Kurt shakes his head. "Just... give me my diary back, okay."

Finn's not thinking anymore, and he actually snatches it back off the bed. "No, actually!" he says. "'Cause, you know, even if this wasn't a real thing, if you couldn't goddamn say that, it's gotta make you wonder – what else should we know that you won't tell us?"

Finn makes a show of flicking open the book and Kurt gives an unholy screech that hurts Finn's ears. "Don't you dare!" He grabs for the book, trying to pull it away – Finn's much stronger, and it doesn't work. "Let go!"

They struggle for the diary for a bit longer, until a voice booms down the stairs.


That's Burt.

Finn and Kurt share a look.

When Kurt doesn't respond to Burt calling his name, Burt's first response is to panic. He thinks that Blaine kid might have done something awful at the thought he's been found out. Then he hears the screaming from downstairs – it doesn't make him feel any better, but god damn it explains a lot.

Fucking Finn. He should have known. He's spent so long being paranoid of the kid he doesn't really know, but he should have remembered – Finn Hudson, who called his son a fag and threw lamps in anger. Why couldn't Burt guess he'd be the one with an actual problem?

"Finn! Come up here!" He's not going to let anyone get away with beating Kurt under his own roof; no way.

It takes Finn a long time to come up the stairs, looking scared. Good. "Burt? Uh, what's–"

He's still on the second step, and that pisses Burt off, for some reason. He's cowering. "Come all the way up, Finn."

Finn nervously looks back down the stairs. "D'you want me to go get Kurt? Cause, uh–"

Burt suddenly reaches forward and grabs Finn by his shirt. Make the guy face him.

"Ah!" Finn calls, holding onto Burt's shoulders – Burt guesses he doesn't want to trip. Burt shoves him off once he's back on solid ground. "Burt, what are you–"

"Want to tell me what the hell was going on down there, huh?" Burt asks, striding forward. Finn looks confused.

"Wait, huh? You know what; I'm gonna go get Mom, I think she'll–"

Finn tries to walk past him and Burt just shoves him back, because the kid is not crying wolf and playing the victim here. He doesn't get out of this. Burt won't let him. Finn manages to collide with the wall – Burt may have accidentally-on-purpose underestimated the distance – and says "Ow!"

Burt walks forward, and grabs the guy by the shoulders so he won't run. "What were you doing to Kurt, huh?"

Finn blinks in confusion. "What? Nothing! Well, uh, I kind of read his diary so we got into a fight, but–"

"Oh, yeah, that would have been a fair fight," Burt says. "Fuck. You've been the one doing this all the time, haven't you?"


"The bruises! Everything he was lying to us about!" Burt yells, and he punches the wall next to himself. Finn jumps. "I should have known. I goddamn trusted you, thinking that knew boyfriend had something to do with it, while you were–"

"Burt, I swear, I didn't do anything," Finn says. "Come on, man, you know me. I can be a bit of a dick sometimes, but I wouldn't–"

"What? Wouldn't hurt Kurt?" Burt asks, laughing bitterly. "'Cause, you know, that whole last fight you guys had in the basement – how could that have hurt, huh?"

"That's not the–"

"Same, I know," Burt says. "At least that time, it was a fucking word instead of these," he grabs one of Finn's fists for the point, holding it up to his face and squeezing him tight by the wrist. "Do you wanna hit me, kid? Is that how you'd deal with this? Do you?"

Finn shakes his head. "No," he lies. "Dude, this is crazy. Let's just – let's talk–"

"Because Kurt was talking, huh? If you count screaming and begging you to let him go as talking, that is."

"That was about–"

"Shut up, Finn!" Burt spits in his face, and Finn flinches. "Shoulda seen this coming. Shoulda known you'd hate it when Kurt got a boyfriend. Should never have let you back in this fucking house."

"I swear, I didn't do anything wrong, just calm down–"

"Don't tell me to calm down!" Burt hits the wall again, harder this time, and shakes Finn's wrist. "You're nothing but a bigot and a psycho who'd beat an innocent kid for nothing but what you think, and I don't want you–"

"For god's sakes Dad stop!"

Burt turns back to the stairs, still holding Finn still. There, Kurt is standing, hand over his mouth. Burt blinks at him.


"Oh god, Dad... Finn has never hit me, okay?" Kurt says. "I said let go because he wouldn't give me my god damn diary back – yes, I am secretly a twelve year old girl, sometimes. The whole reason Finn even read my diary was to figure out who was hurting me – and no-one was, okay? I got the bruise on my wrist because I fell down the stairs; I fell down the stairs because there was water at the top; there was water at the top because of my attempt to create a piece of fabric that could also be used for exfoliation. It was a stupid idea that lasted about five minutes. I got the black eye because I walked into a pole; I walked into a pole because there was a basketball game very close where half the players were shirtless. I was too embarrassed to say all this, and just hoped you'd believe me without all the detail. You didn't. No-one did. I'm sorry. Now please let him go, dad, please."

Burt doesn't understand for a second.

Then he realizes Kurt is crying.

Slowly and nervously, he turns back to Finn, who is actually shaking against the wall. He's whimpering. Burt is clearly holding his wrist hard enough it hurts; it's starting to look a bit pale, like the blood isn't getting through properly. Finn's eyes are wide and glazed with tears, even though he's obviously trying to fight them off – Burt suddenly wonders if that's because Finn was scared if he cried, it'd make Burt even madder. Mad enough to hit him, even.

All of thirty seconds ago, it probably could have.

"Oh god." He drops Finn's wrist and steps back, immediately witnessing the kid wrap his arms around himself defensively. He looks all of about five.

Burt swore he'd never be that guy – the kind of guy that would pin a kid of his against the wall, hurt him, scare him shitless. For whatever reason. Blood or not, Finn is his now, and he deserves that. How did Burt let that happen?

...For Kurt. He did it for Kurt.


He bites his lip as he looks between his son and his (almost) stepson. "...I'm so sorry," he says. He reaches out to comfortingly pat Finn on the shoulder, but he sees how the kid is still shaking, and decides against it.

"Just–" he feels like he's choking, "–don't tell your mom, okay?"

Finn actually nods, and Burt shakes his head. He walks off, wishing his brain would stop going crazy – at least long enough for him to remember where the bathroom is, so he can go puke.

Kurt just watches as Finn staggers forward, slumping down onto the closest chair.

"...Are you okay?"

Finn nods. "Yeah. It's cool." He gives Kurt a weak smile. "He was just sticking up for you, after all."

Kurt walks forward and takes the seat across from him. "Finn–"

"It's okay, Kurt." That would probably be more effectual if he didn't sound like he was about to burst into tears.

"He – he shouldn't have done that." Obvious, but oh well.

Finn shrugs. "I'm sorry I read your diary."

Kurt swallows. "I'll live."

He really doesn't want to explain he was mostly worried for Karofsky's sake, of all people – it sounds stupid, but however much he hates the boy, he understands the significance of outing anyone against their will and would never do that. Finn hates Karofsky as much as Kurt does, but could be quite blind to what doing that would truly mean. Kurt couldn't quite trust him not to do it. Plus reading anyone's diary is a privacy violation, but an easy one to get over.

They settle into an awkward silence. "Do you want me to go get your mom?"

Finn shrugs. "She's not home. Work."

"I heard you say–"

"I hoped he wouldn't know, and he'd just let me go if I brought her up. It was a dumb plan."

"Oh god, Finn–"

"Kurt. It's okay."

Kurt can't say anything more.

At Glee, everything's fine for awhile. Kurt and Finn fade into the general atmosphere.

Then Rachel notices something. "Finn, what happened to your wrist?" she asks. "It's bruised."

"What?" Kurt observes as Finn's breath hitches; he tugs the sleeve of his shirt down, clearly trying to stay calm. "Nothing. Well, uh, Karofsky was being an asshole. It's not a big deal. Promise."

Kurt gulps.