Disclaimer: As much as I would love to write for Glee, I don't.
AN: This story follows the events of "Masquerade." If you haven't read that story, I suggest you do so, although it's not entirely necessary. Here's a very quick summary of what you need to know from that story, if you'd prefer to just jump into this one: Finn figured out that Karofsky is gay. He tried to talk to Kurt about it, but Kurt told him that Karofsky doesn't deserve his help. Finn looked up numbers for help lines and slipped them in Karofsky's locker anyway.
Our Past Selves Left Behind
Elementary School Again
Finn was back in his fifth grade classroom. He was seated on the floor with his legs crossed, his nearly seventeen-year-old self taking up more space than his anyone else, even his teacher (whose name Finn couldn't recall for the life of him).
All of the girls were absent. The word "puberty" was written in large, proud letters on the blackboard.
On his right sat Noah Puckerman with his head recently shaved, growing into his mohawk and his rebellion. He was relatively small compared to the other boys, but his eyes were defiant and he was gaining muscle mass to replace the hole left by his father's absence.
Finn glanced around the room. He recognized most of the boys by face if not name, and almost all of them had stuck around Lima until high school. The majority of the people in Glee with Finn were in different classes or different elementary schools, except for Mike Chang, who sat near the front.
In the very back and seated by himself was Dave Karofsky. At that age, he may have been the same height as Finn, if not taller. His head was down. Finn couldn't tell if it was to avoid the lesson or to hide the beginnings of a mustache sprouting above his lip.
The teacher was pulling down the screen for the overhead, and the class looked relieved that the hideous word was covered. But relief was short lived as he brought up transparencies of the male reproductive system, and started talking about testicles and semen and erections.
Finn somehow knew without looking that Dave (he hadn't earned the reputation of his last name yet) had turned away from the scientific terms, from the bodily changes, from his own pubescent self.
Puck leaned closer to Finn and muttered, "We already read about this shit." The swear word came out forced, only recently earning a place in his friend's vocabulary.
Everyone was altering between states of wanting the lesson to end already so they could stop learning about how they were going to change, but there was some interest in hearing about the changes so they could have a little bit of knowledge to help battle the unknown.
The lesson had shifted. They were past reproductive organs and onto how their voices would drop.
Then it was hair. Hair, taking over everything. Face, arms, armpits, legs. Pubic hair.
And suddenly: "David, pay attention. This is important."
Finn was no longer seated next to Puck, but his own fifth grade self, who snickered along with Puck and the rest of the class.
"Yes, sir," Dave mumbled, his voice cracking slightly on the last syllable.
The class roared, with young Finn and Puck carrying on the loudest. Above the laughter, Puck's voice projected: "Sounds like someone's growing pubes."
To Finn's utmost embarrassment, his younger self laughed even harder at this declaration, even though they had no proof, and hopefully never would. Who wanted to see that?
But validation came to them anyway as Dave's face turned red and he blinked rapidly a few times.
The teacher was yelling in an attempt to regain control of his class.
"After school detention, Noah!"
"Wouldn't dream of missing it!" Puck replied, his voice over bright and sarcastic.
The class' laughter shifted to Puck now. Dave hunched down, drawing his broad shoulders into his chest. He looked relieved that he was being left alone once more.
The classroom shifted. The lesson was over and Puck was standing in front of Dave, shorter yet more menacing. Puck waved Finn over to them.
Younger Finn was nowhere in sight. In fact, neither was anyone else. It must have been recess.
"Dude, whip 'em out." Puck gave Dave a small shove.
"Your pubes. Let's see them."
Dave was blushing an angry red, looking completely terrified.
Puck turned to Finn, and when he spoke, his voice came out matured, deeper. The voice of the Puck that Finn knew now.
"Aren't you going to help me? You did before. This was your idea."
Finn shook his head violently. "I wasn't part of this. I won't help you."
Then Kurt was standing in the front of the classroom, replacing the teacher with the forgotten name.
"You started this, Finn. You made him this way. Everything he's done to me has been because of you." Kurt pointed a finger accusingly at Finn, as Dave spoke, addressing Finn for the first time: "I just wanted to be your friend. I didn't deserve this."
There was a buzzing in Finn's ears. Growing louder, more defined, beeping and shrill.
He opened his eyes, forgetting where he was.
The beeping continued, and for a moment Finn thought, I don't even know where to look for an alarm clock in that classroom. He shook his head as he remembered that he was in his bedroom and not in elementary school. Fumbling for his alarm clock, he noticed the thin layer of sweat that coated him.
He hit the snooze button and just lay there.
He tried to tell himself that everything was exaggerated by his memory. It was inaccurate, he couldn't possibly have been that mean. Puck, maybe, but it's not like he listened to everything Puck said…
Except that he had. He had idolized Puck, following him around far longer than he should have.
Puberty was hell. Everyone was changing, at different times and different paces, and if you were too early or too late, there was something wrong with you. It was awkward and painful until everyone your age was finally finished, and everyone tried to forget that it had happened in the first place.
Karofsky had been such an easy target in elementary school. He was large and withdrawn, physically becoming a man while mentally craving any sort of friendship or acceptance from his peers.
Of course he was picked on. There really wasn't any question about it.
Every time Dave tried to make a friend, or even be nice to someone, Finn or Puck was always there to make fun of him. "Uh oh, look out, he likes you."
Finn didn't know when he had started to shake. The words weren't supposed to sound homophobic, he was fairly sure it wasn't supposed to sound like Dave had a crush on one of the other boys, but that's probably how it Dave took it. Why wouldn't he?
Eventually Dave stopped trying. He focused on his schoolwork, played by himself at recess, and when middle school started he befriended Azimio.
Dave had quietly let his status rise until it was secure enough that he could fight back.
Finn's alarm clock sounded again. It was a welcome distraction. If Finn thought much longer, there was a chance that he would cry, and his mom could always tell when he had been crying.
He really didn't want to have that conversation. Especially not where Burt might overhear.
Finn shut off his alarm and got up to shower.
He avoided his mom and Burt for as long as he could, waiting until Burt had left to go to the garage and he could hear his mom in the shower upstairs. Guilt was plastered all over his face, and there was no way to explain it without incriminating himself or revealing what he knew about Karofsky. His mom would work it out of him with her blunt questions and loving hugs. Burt seemed more distant, the type to not question you too much unless you were really upset. Or if Kurt was involved. But since Kurt was gone, there was a good chance that Burt wouldn't press the issue.
He still didn't want to risk it.
When he finally came up from the basement he was running late if he wanted to take the bus, and had to forgo breakfast in favor of grabbing an apple on his way out the door.
He managed to catch the bus, feeling lucky since he only had a rough estimate of what time it came, and as he boarded he realized that he hadn't taken the bus in over two years.
Usually his mom drove him, or he got a ride with Rachel and her dads. If he had waited for his mom like he was supposed to, then he could have eaten breakfast and not been stuck on a bus full of freshmen.
He turned the apple over in his hand, noticing how his hand engulfed it. He was supposed to be mature enough to handle all of this, but inside he just felt small.
The bus pulled up in front of McKinley with fifteen minutes to spare. On a normal day when he got a ride to school, he showed up about five minutes before classes started and had to run to get there on time.
Ten extra minutes. He supposed to could go to his locker, even though he didn't really need anything from there.
He started eating his apple when it occurred to him that his mom didn't know where he went, so he sent her a quick text telling her that he took the bus. She had tried calling him twice.
Well, that looked suspicious. There was no explanation for him taking the bus without telling her beforehand except that he was avoiding her. He groaned a little as he tossed the apple core in the garbage, wishing that he could have faced his mom and been able to eat breakfast instead of running out with only an apple.
She was going to grill him tonight. And he had absolutely no idea what he was going to tell her.
He approached his locker, entering the combination mechanically and opening the lock. He stared blankly at the contents, not needing anything and just trying to waste time until class. He tried to ignore the blank spot on his door where he had once put up a picture of him and Rachel dressed in their Rocky Horror costumes.
He was just convincing himself to go find his friends instead of standing there being pathetic (though he really didn't feel like talking to anyone, much less running into Rachel,) when he noticed a slightly crumpled piece of paper sitting on top of his books.
Someone had slipped him a note.
Feeling curious and for some reason uneasy, he pulled the paper towards him.
It was the paper he had given to Karofsky two days before.
All Finn had written on it were the numbers for the help lines. He didn't even write what the numbers were for. And he certainly hadn't written that they came from him.
Underneath the numbers, Karofsky had written "I don't want your help."
Either Karofsky had managed to guess what the numbers were, he already had the numbers (Finn doubted this) or he had actually called them.
He really hoped Karofsky had called. But he had probably hung up as soon as it became apparent what the numbers were for.
"I don't want your help." He could have written "I don't need your help" but Finn was sure the lie would have been obvious to both of them.
Karofsky obviously needed help, and Finn couldn't shake the feeling that it was his help specifically that Karofsky didn't want, and not all help in general.
He didn't trust Finn. He had every reason not to. Not that Finn trusted him all that much either. But when Karofsky was younger, back when he was just Dave, Finn thought he would have made a much better friend than Puck did.
Karofsky needed someone who wouldn't turn his back on him. Finn just had to prove that he could be that person. And maybe, Karofsky could turn back into Dave, into the boy who just wanted someone to be a friend to.
The bell rang, signaling the start of the passing period before homeroom. Finn balled up the note and pushed it to the bottom of his backpack.
He just hoped that Kurt would understand.
AN: Reviews are my best motivators. And they make me smile. Criticism is welcome!