Finn hadn't expected that Kurt transferring back to McKinley was going to have such a big affect on him as it did. Which was surprising, because he probably should've learned this after Kurt's transfer to Dalton affected him so much.

After New Directions had won at Regionals, they were all in a euphoric bliss, which was when the smaller boy approached them cautiously. "If we're going to win at Nationals," he had said with a shy smile on his face, "I figure that we're going to need our most talented member back…" After that, most of the celebration over their win had turned into a blur because everyone was too wrapped up in celebrating that they had won Kurt back.

Actually, everyone except for Finn.

He was happy that Kurt felt good enough and safe enough to come back to McKinley, and it was nice to know that he wasn't only going to have to see his stepbrother for a certain allotted amount of time anymore. But ever since their parents had gotten married and Finn had uncovered more and more of what had happened between Kurt and Dave Karofsky, he couldn't help but feel that even though Kurt may have felt ready to come back, the school wasn't as prepared to have him back.

Dave Karofsky was making slow progress towards turning a corner and becoming a humane human being, and Kurt had promised Finn over and over that he felt okay returning to school. Even through the first week that he had been back he said that Karofsky hadn't said a word to him. Finn realized that this was supposed to be comforting and make Finn feel better, maybe even make him feel that there was no need for him to walk Kurt to and from every single class (which, of course, Finn ignored and continued with his routine).

But he didn't believe it. He couldn't believe that in just the short time span of a few months, Karofsky had gotten over his fatal obsession with Kurt. This was the guy who had threatened to take Kurt's life. Kurt never told Finn what exactly had caused this to come about, but Finn couldn't believe that it was something extremely insignificant. And no matter how hard Kurt was trying to portray that he was strong or brave or willing to work toward to truce with Dave – even going towards the lengths of putting together the New Direction's performance of Born This Way, and sitting next to Dave through the entire routine.

Finn's eyes had been on them the entire time. In fact, he couldn't even remember what he had been singing. It's like he wasn't up there on stage, because all he wanted to be doing was protecting Kurt from the unseen evils that he knew was still lurking within Karofsky. Like he should've done all along. It might've been in the past or whatever, but Finn couldn't help but feel that Kurt needing to transfer to Dalton was his fault. And no matter how much Kurt said that he had loved it and was so happy and met so many great people, Finn could see right through that smile.

Dalton wasn't McKinley. It didn't have Mercedes, Artie, Brittany, or Rachel. It constricted his wardrobe; he wasn't allowed to be himself. Kurt went on and on about how wonderful Blaine was and how understanding he was and how he truly was his other half, Finn knew he was lying. Maybe it was jealousy because he hadn't been expected to be replaced as Kurt's main protector so quickly. Maybe he was worried about Kurt placing his trust in someone too soon. But he missed Kurt more than he ever thought he would. Because when he'd come home at the end of the day, his eyes subtly lighting up as he saw Kurt, Finn understood. He finally did.

"Hey Karofsky," Finn muttered as he shut his locker, throwing his practice jersey into his gym bag. If Kurt could try to forgive him, maybe Finn could as well. Just one step at a time.

Karofsky turned and looked at Finn over one of his shoulders, pulling his hockey pads off of his shoulders wordlessly as a smile crept up onto his face. "Since when do you talk to me, Hudson? Never realized we were friends…"

Finn shrugged. "I just thought since Kurt was giving you a second chance, the least I could do was that as well. He's the last one who should be, so it's not that big of a deal for me to…" Finn couldn't really understand at this point why Karofsky was smirking again, looking at Finn like he was the biggest idiot in the world. Which is a look Finn has come to recognize pretty easily.

"He still hasn't told you, has he? I figured you'd be the first one he'd run to…"

By the way Karofsky says the word he, drawing it out and accentuating it against the rest of the statement, Finn's skin begins to crawl. He can only begin to think who Dave means by 'he', but in all honesty, he already knows. Slowly, Finn turned, for if he moved any faster his heart would stop completely. "What do you mean?"

Karofsky's grinning at this point, his smile dark and cunning. He slammed his locker shut with just a few fingers, using it to propel himself forward to get closer and shut the space between the two of them. "Figures. I'm surprised, though, considering what happened last time. He's still fucking terrified. He must be afraid of what's coming to him."

"What the fuck are you talking about, Karofsky?" The way his voice is shaking, the way his palms are suddenly sweating, the way he can feel his heart pounding in his chest – it can only mean one thing. It's like he already knows what Karofsky's going to say, but he doesn't want to face it.

All Finn was able to hear at this point was Karofsky, chuckling right by his face. "You mean he didn't tell you the reason why I threatened to kill him?" he whispered in such a voice that it left even Finn speechless. He couldn't imagine what it would do to someone like Kurt. "How when he confronted me, I took those rosy cheeks of his in my hands and kissed him? Tongue and everything…"

Finn's heart stopped. He couldn't breathe.

"He didn't tell you how that when he came back to McKinley, I told him I wanted to apologize, but in reality, I pressed him up against that locker and left my marks all over him… You know, they're right when they called him Porcelain; that skin of his was flawless. Too bad it's not true anymore. Or that the other day, after you and the rest of Homo Explosion came and serenaded me, I dragged him into the janitor's closet and he sucked me off until I saw stars…" Karofsky broke off, unable to contain his laughter anymore.

Sadly, Finn was thankful for that, as he ran to the wastebasket to empty the meager contents of his stomach. No wonder Kurt was trying so hard to stay on Karofsky's good side. He wasn't trying to make nice with him. He was so terrified of him that he was in self-preservation mode. "Why?" Finn asked weakly, clutching the rim of the garbage, willing his stomach to stop retching, but it was a useless feat, for all he could see at this point was his fragile stepbrother in the clutches of this monster.

Karofsky threw his backpack over his shoulder, folding his letterman jacket over one of his arms and sneering at Finn. "Because. That homo tried to tell me that I was gay. He thinks he can try to pull me into his vortex of gayness, no way. So I showed him who's boss…"

His head still spinning as he sunk weakly onto the locker room bench, Finn clutched at it. "Sure sounds like he was right." As he looked up, he saw Karofsky freeze and flinch. Then, almost like it didn't happen, he rolled it off, turning slowly to Finn.

"If anyone's gay for that little homo, it's you Hudson…" Karofsky spat.

Taking a deep breath, Finn got to his feet. "That little homo happens to be my brother and more of a man than you'll ever be. So if you know what's good for you, stay away from Kurt or I'll kill you." He still felt extremely unsteady on his feet as he pulled his bag over his shoulder, but it was the best he could do as he headed for the door.

As he grabbed onto the door, he heard Karofsky call out "If that's a threat, it's not going to work. You don't know what you're messing with." Regretting it, he slowly turned around to see Karofsky grinning again, which had clearly come to be equated with something very bad.


"I've already got so much on Hummel, your little meaningless threat is worth shit… I told him if he didn't cooperate, I go find his little private school friend. And I wouldn't ask nicely… Hell, I wouldn't even ask."

Finn's mind immediately flashed to Blaine. Naïve, completely innocent and unsuspecting Blaine. Of course Kurt would've said yes to protect Blaine. Finn would've said yes to protect Blaine. "But the little faggot still wouldn't cooperate. Kept yelling and telling me that I couldn't do things like that and said I didn't even have the balls for it. So I changed the deal a little bit. Same premises… only it was you this time, Hudson."

If Finn hadn't been leaning against the door, he would've collapsed.

All this time, Kurt had thought that he was protecting Finn, and Finn didn't even know what was going on. They fucking lived under the same roof, in adjacent bedrooms, and yet Finn didn't even know what Kurt was going through, didn't know that Kurt had just gone to bat for him and potentially saved him by throwing himself to the lion. Finn took a deep breath, or as deep as he could without making himself sick, because at any moment he thought he was going to throw up or pass out or something.

Calmly, he turned to Karofsky. "What can I do to get you to leave Kurt alone? For good?" Karofsky opened his mouth, starting to shaking his head and Finn could already hear the disgusting things that were about to spew from the other boy's mouth, and he knew that he can't stomach anymore; he just couldn't.

"When I say what can I do, I mean it in the way of your deal with Kurt. I'll do what you want. Right here, right now. And in return you leave him alone for good. I think we both realize you've done enough to him for one lifetime…"

For a moment, what could only be compared to a flash of considerable confusion flashed across Dave's expression before it was replaced with anger. "And why would I agree to that? What do you have on me that could possibly make me agree to that when I already have your brother scared shitless?"

Finn shrugged. "I don't know. I mean, there's the idea that you'll no longer be getting your rocks off on an unwilling person who you're blackmailing and/or threatening for one thing. Then, there's the other where I could go and tell everyone why you threatened to kill Kurt. The real reason. And in all honesty, it seems like it would be pretty believable…"

Karofsky turned away, and Finn was under the impression that in just a minute he was going to walk out the door, which if he did, Finn was going to handcuff Kurt to himself for the rest of their high school careers. But, while he was muttering things to himself under his breath, Karofsky dropped his backpack onto the ground. Before Finn could even react, he was the one who was pressed up against the locker, he was the one who Karofsky was manhandling, he was the one who could feel every last bit of his self-respect dwindling away.

If Kurt did this multiple times, so can you…

Convincing Burt and his mom that he was sick and needed a day off from school wasn't that hard. Considering that his body hurt in places he never knew existed to the point where he didn't want to move and he hadn't slept all night, it wasn't hard to fake sick.

What he hadn't been expecting was Kurt to volunteer to stay home to take care of him.

But when he was lying in bed, his oversized comforter yanked over his head in attempt to try to catch some sleep and continuing to fail considering that whenever he closes his eyes all he can see is Karofsky taking advantage and using Kurt, he strangely felt a shift in weight on the edge of the bed. Poking his head out from under the blanket he found Kurt, oddly underdressed in his pajama pants and what actually looked like a t-shirt (he didn't even know Kurt owned one of them). And he was watching Finn carefully.

"Oh, hey dude," he said quietly, sitting back against the pillows, making sure he closed his mouth before he said too much.

"Are you okay?"

"What? Oh, uh, yeah. Yeah, just a little, uh, bit of a cold…" Finn faked a cough unrealistically, which earned a sympathetic smile from Kurt. "What are you doing home? I mean, I figured you would've wanted to soak in as much McKinley as possible…"

Kurt smiled sadly, dropping his eyes as he folded his hands in his lap. As he did, the sun coming in from the windows cast just enough light onto the smaller boy to pronounce the dark purple circles outlining his eyes, truly showing how tired the boy was. "Just not really feeling great today, you know? I'm going to get something to eat, you want something?"

Wordlessly, Finn nodded, watching as Kurt got up and headed into the kitchen. Fuck, he thought to himself, sinking back under the blankets. I'm like this after one day, and Kurt's been going through this for how long… He wondered if Kurt was avoiding McKinley. Was Kurt so scared of Karofsky (or more accurately, Karofsky hurting Finn) that the only time he felt safe enough to stay away from him was when he knew Finn wasn't at school? In Karofsky's path?

Shuffling back into the room, Kurt was holding out a plate with what looked like two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and Finn was speechless. Not to the gesture, but to the fact that Kurt was so defeated he was going to actually eat that. Kurt – who only ate things like granola or kiwis or raw eggs or whatever new weird health craze he was into – was going to eat something as simple as a PBandJ. When Kurt held it out to him, Finn realized the best thing to do was just take it and smile.

"I know about everything that's been going on between you and Karofsky," he blurted out instead. He watched as Kurt's eyes went big, the plate slipping out of his hand and clattering on the floor with a forgotten bang. He watched as Kurt tried to scramble away from him on the bed, his whole body seemingly shaking with panic as he tried to formulate words. He watched as the smaller boy jumped off the bed, tears freely flowing as he began to yell at himself.

It seemed like all he was doing was watching.

With a sigh, Finn climbed out from underneath his blankets and gently placed his hands on Kurt's shoulders, guiding him back onto the bed. Already he could feel Kurt shaking beneath his fingertips as he asked "Why didn't you tell me?"

Bitterly laughing, Kurt whirled around to face him. "Tell you? What was I supposed to tell you? That I was being blackmailed this time? And what would you have done? You'd have gone after Karofsky, which would've defeated the whole point of what I was doing, so that's why I didn't tell you!" he exclaimed, but by the time he's done yelling, the expression on his face had disintegrated from anger to complete despair. He covered his face with his hands.

"Dude, you can't let people do things like that to you. Even if they're telling you if you don't they'll..." Finn stopped, immediately noticing the way Kurt flinched at knowing what was coming. "That they'll take it out on me. Forget about that. You don't need to protect me. Protect yourself…"

Gradually, Kurt turned to face him. "But. If I'm remembering correctly, which I think I am, you said you always had my back. And if this is a functioning relationship, which it is, it has to be mutual. Therefore, you protect me, I protect you. It can't just be one way…"


"Would you do it for me?"

Finn's silent, knowing that Kurt's waiting for an answer. But with something of this magnitude, he really can't lie to Kurt. He's been lied to enough about serious things in the past, and they were nothing like this. Scrambling for an answer that would both satiate Kurt and give him the best answer possible, Finn turned away.

It seemed that his lack of answer was enough, for in that moment. "Tell me you didn't," he whispered, his voice deathly silent and his gaze set to kill. Again, Finn said nothing; just slowly looked up to meet his stepbrother's eyes. At that moment, Kurt threw himself on top of Finn, beating him with his fists over and over, repeating hysterically "Tell me you didn't! Tell me you didn't do that for me!"

Carefully, Finn grabbed Kurt's hands in his own, holding them their as he looked him in the eye. No matter how much his voice was shaking, he took a deep breath because both of them needed to hear this. "I did. And I would again. Because after he told me everything. Everything he had put you through, everything you had put yourself through, I needed to follow through with the promise I made to you the night of Mom and Burt's wedding. I got your back, no matter what it costs me…"

At this point, Kurt's started to cry, crumbling downward into Finn. Finn fiercely pulled him closer, then realizing that he himself was crying as well. It was strange, because he couldn't remember a time – not even the night of the wedding – in which he'd felt so close to Kurt.

Out of chaos breathes creation.

As always, thanks to everyone for reading. Feedback is love, and it always makes me smile. Which is why I'm asking for some more. I'm planning to write my first multichapter glee!fic, and would love some feedback from readers in what direction to go, so there's a poll on my profile page. If you could take about 3 seconds to just vote in it, I'd really appreciate some help. :)