AN: Got the idea after listening to Arianna Grande's "Love the Way You Lie". Can't imagine how anyone could hurt sweet little Cat, but an interesting thought.

Disclaimer: I do not own Victorious.

Prologue: Crushed

Nobody saw. Nobody took the time to notice. Except him.

He had been watching her, of course. He would deny it, if asked. Not that anybody would. They were all too wrapped up in their own lives. But, if only for jealousy's sake, he watched. And he saw.

The first few weeks were bliss. She radiated contentment, beaming and glowing and skipping wherever she went. Liquid brown eyes shone, and cherry lip gloss curled into a smile. He felt like his heart was ripping, but he silently wished her all the happiness she deserved and let her go.

Until the bruises surfaced.

The first time, it was her wrists. She'd reared back to slap someone in an improv skit, and her sleeve fell. For a fraction of a second, thick purple smudges marred the creamy skin around delicate veins. Then her hand moved with a crack, and they were gone.

Naturally, he'd imagined it. His jealousy was running away with him. Besides, who could ever hurt her?

They faded. He didn't ask and she didn't say. A compact of stage makeup fell from her backpack a few days later, but it was theater class, for God's sake – of course she had stage makeup. After all, they were almost entirely gone; knowing her she'd fallen while wearing those ridiculous shoes. They were innocent.

Until they resurfaced.

He supposed he should be grateful the boy had tripped, even if she cried out in pain as scalding coffee hit her arm. Because if he hadn't, the thick, clay-like makeup wouldn't have melted, and he wouldn't have seen them. Darker than before, with a distinctive shape that punched him in the gut.

Black-and-blue fingerprints. If he'd placed his own over them, he would be near crushing her arms.

He kept an even closer watch from then on, if that was possible. He didn't speak, of course; even after the breakup, girls still seemed far away, off-limits. Especially her. So he watched the light dull in her eyes, the makeup get thicker and heavier until some days she was barely recognizable. He watched her bright fidgeting turn to nervous twitching, flinching if someone raised their voices a hair's breadth.

And then one day she didn't come to school at all, the girl who was never sick, who had too much sunshine inside to even have a cough. And that was when he knew. It had to stop.