Disclaimer: Glee belongs to Ryan Murphy and Fox, not me.
Rachel was confident that she had three gifts in life.
One: her talent, primarily her voice. But of course, that was a given.
Two: her hair. Her looks might be a little too unconventional in a school that favored big light-colored eyes, blonde hair, and teeny little noses, but even the most jaded Lima beauty queen had to admit that Rachel had good hair.
And three: her observation skills.
She could always tell when Finn was fibbing, or when Santana actually meant it when she called people names (which, surprisingly, was rare), or when Puck was genuinely bothered by something. She prided herself on her ability to read facial expressions and body language. After all, it was an important skill any actor ought to master.
However, she rarely did anything about it. Of course, she could call them out or ask them what was wrong or something. But that would be an uncomfortable social situation, and she had to admit that her social skills weren't necessarily the best. Eventually she would learn how to listen as well as she spoke, and to respond to the silent cues people signaled. There was always time for that later, when she was older and an established actress and didn't need to fight so badly for parts and prominence.
But then the moment came where she had to do something, and soon.
She barreled down the hallway in pursuit of her boyfriend. Normally she had no problem finding him- there were perks to dating a giant- but he wasn't in any of his usual spots. Finally she saw him by Kurt's locker. The two boys were talking over something, probably the upcoming wedding. And Kurt was smiling.
That was a relief. Kurt's moods had been so strange lately. Sometimes he was happy and beaming, and other times he looked like something had him absolutely terrified. It was so strange. At least now, while he was smiling up at his almost-brother, he looked like he was okay.
Finn patted Kurt on the shoulder and loped away in the opposite direction. She picked up her speed to catch up, already planning to say something nice to Kurt as she passed by on her way to her boyfriend. Maybe a congratulations on his dad's wedding, or a compliment on his nice coat. That would be nice, right?
Karofsky beat her to him.
She paused, hiding instinctively behind the corner. Of all the various and assorted bullies in McKinley, David Karofsky was one of the worst. He usually didn't come physically after the girls- thank goodness, because he had "Law and Order: SVU Rapist of the Week" written all over him- but he did have a mean toss when it came to slushie cups.
She knew he had threatened Kurt last year, during the Lady Gaga fiasco. And she'd heard rumors lately that it had gotten worse. Tina had whispered to her a month ago about how Karofsky came up behind Kurt and slammed him, face first, into the lockers, for no reason at all. That was strange. It didn't seem like normal teasing. It sounded…vicious.
She crouched behind the corner as Karofsky strolled up to Kurt and waited for him to close his locker. Kurt turned and his smile fell away, along with all of the color in his face. He said something to Karofsky, shaking his head quickly, his lips slack.
Karofsky leaned in closer, forcing Kurt to take several steps back. He jabbed his finger into Kurt's chest, digging in painfully, and then…
Then he trailed his hand down Kurt's narrow chest.
She bit her lip as she hid behind the lockers. That wasn't normal. That wasn't normal bullying, with name-calling and taunts and perhaps a slushie in the face. This was…well, the only word rattling around in her mind was sexual harassment, and as weird as it was, it was the only thing she could think to be appropriate.
Kurt didn't look like he was breathing anymore. Karofsky suddenly darted his hand away, faster than she would have thought possible, and grabbed whatever it was that Kurt was holding. He held it up and dangled in front of Kurt's face.
It looked like a little cake topper, a vintage one. The figures looked strange in the football player's huge hand. Kurt just stared at Karofsky. The bigger guy brushed past him, tucking the cake topper into his pocket. Kurt stood frozen where Karofsky had left him, staring blankly at the ground, his eyes unfocused.
She wanted to run out from her hiding place and do something, say something, but she couldn't make herself move. What was she going to do, anyway? It wasn't like Kurt would listen to her.
Well, maybe the Kurt she usually dealt with, the one that fought with her over solos and fashion choices and setlist ideas, he wouldn't listen to her. This Kurt…was different. He hugged his binders to his chest as if they were his only lifeline left, his shoulders drawn up like a frightened child's.
Before she could force herself to move, and before Kurt could snap out of it and leave, she saw Mr. Schuester make his way across the hallway to Kurt. He placed his hand lightly on Kurt's shoulder and asked him something.
That seemed to bring Kurt back, at least a little bit, but he didn't revert to his usual self. Instead, he shook his head, his lips shaking and his eyes watering. Mr. Schue wrapped his arm around Kurt's thin shoulders and guided him down the hallway. She could tell, even from her hiding spot, that Kurt's knees were shaking, almost too much for him to walk steadily.
She leaned against the wall, her mind racing. It was a relief to know that Kurt was okay, but she couldn't help but feel…ashamed. Why didn't she step in? Why didn't she say something.
Of course, the rational part of her brain informed her, it wasn't like there was much she could do. She was a girl, and petite, and while she could summon a verbal jab with the best of them (usually), there probably wasn't much that she could do physically.
But you could have at least talked to him, the emotional part of her brain said.
She continued on her way down the hall, trying to sort out her thoughts. No matter how much she tried, though, she couldn't shake the image of Kurt's startled, frightened eyes out of her memory.
He was crying, you know, the emotional part of her brain reminded her.
She went into the choir room, listening listlessly to the rest of the glee club laugh and talk. Puck had busted out his guitar, and Artie and Santana were harmonizing. But Finn was there, sitting in the front row, laughing at the sight of Mike and Tina dancing.
She slipped into the empty seat beside Finn; he grinned and draped his arm around her shoulders. "Hey," he said, brushing a kiss on the top of her head. "What's up?"
She cuddled in closer, pressing herself against his warm side. "Is everything okay with Kurt?" she whispered.
Finn blinked. "Yeah, I think so," he said. "I saw him like five minutes ago, and he was fine. Hey, he's going to teach me some kind of dance to do at the wedding. So people will think I'm cool again. But it'll probably take a while, since I sort of suck at dancing, and…are you okay?"
"Mm-hm," she said, nestling her cheek against his side as he tightened his arm around her shoulders. "Hey…do you know what Kurt's planning for your parents' wedding cake?"
"Oh, yeah," Finn said, grinning. "He's got this little cake topper thing. I think it was his mom's or something. He's making a big deal about having something from his mom and something from my dad at the wedding." He frowned. "Why?"
"No reason," she whispered, her heart sinking. It wasn't fair. It just wasn't fair.
Sam glanced up at the clock above the door. "Where's Mr. Schue?" she asked. "He's late."
"Yeah, and where's Kurt?" Mercedes said, frowning. She picked up her phone and scrolled through her text messages.
Finn frowned. "Rachel, is something wrong with Kurt?" he asked.
She opened her mouth to explain, but before she could, the choir room door swung open and Mr. Schue walked in, his arm still around Kurt's shoulders. Kurt was still pale, but he was lifting his chin in his usual stubborn way.
So that meant he was okay, right?
Mercedes sat up a little straighter and patted the empty seat beside her. Kurt nodded, his facial expression frozen. "Okay, guys, let's get started," Mr. Schue said, setting his music down on the piano.
She watched out of the corner of her eye as Kurt made his way over to Mercedes. He sank into the chair and dropped his bag on the floor; Mercedes put her hand on his arm. She waited to see his reaction.
Kurt sagged against her, his head drooping. Mercedes immediately put her arm around him and tugged him against her side. A strange little pang shot through Rachel's heart. He looked so…so lost and forlorn. It wasn't like him at all.
She didn't know all of the details, but she knew that this couldn't go on. Not like this.
A plan started forming in her head. She tugged her phone surreptitiously out of her skirt pocket as Mr. Schue kept talking about setlist selections and typed out a message, selecting Quinn, Tina, and (after a brief mental debate) Brittany.
Something had to happen, and she wasn't going to sit idly by anymore.
This was going to be longer...but I lost inspiration, and I figured it was better to end succinctly than drag it out. Right? Right.
This was written mostly because psychopiratess and I Spiked the Ice Cream who are constantly after me to write Rachel better. So...here we go.
I just wanted to see what actually led Rachel to gather the girls together and do something for Kurt. Because seriously, something probably happened to get her attention. And so...I wrote this.