A/N: I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV. I've tried here, but I may have a few things wrong. Please suspend your belief and enjoy the chapter ;)
Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes
It's only 6 am, and I've already had three cups of coffee. In retrospect, I was tightly wound enough that even one would have been too many. My heart was pounding in my chest, and the sight of my breakfast oatmeal almost made me throw up.
Finn, on the other hand, was calmly tucking away a small dish of oatmeal as well as several eggs and some bacon. He even nibbled at the sliced fruit that Carole offered. How could he be so laid back about this? This day would set the tone of the entire trial, and he was acting like none of this was any big deal.
"Can I have a Coke with breakfast?" He was balancing a comic book next to his plate. "I already drank my milk."
"Go ahead." Dad had been reading the same page of the paper for 20 minutes. "But just one, because you don't get any bathroom breaks once court starts."
"Fine." He grabbed a can from the fridge and sat back down.
This could have been any day, with any family. Dad reading the paper, Mom cooking eggs, one teen begging for soda with breakfast, and the other picking through his food. We were totally normal, except we weren't, and why was I the only one seeing this?
Maybe it was just Dad and I who were nervous because we were the only two likely to testify today. Carole wasn't going to be called at all, and I knew that they were saving Finn for last. Dad was pretty much useless, but the defense had wanted him so they could discuss the fact that, yes, there was a gun in the house, and then they could fight with the prosecution over whether or not Finn could have possibly accessed said gun. We all already knew that it wasn't the gun that had killed Puck, not even the same type, but the question that the defense wanted to put into everyone's minds was that Finn could have been shooting it for practice.
As the last person who was confirmed to have seen Finn before he met up with the Wrights, I was going to be important in determining his state of mind that night. Just the thought of having to re-live that night made my stomach flip again. But I had to do this for Finn, and for Puck, too.
Since breakfast was apparently going to be a lost cause, I decided to get dressed. Finn followed me like a puppy, still clutching his can of soda. While I was getting my suit down from the closet, he rested a hand on my back. "I'm really sorry that I can't be there for you."
That was another thing that was making me nervous. Due to the rules of the court, Finn was not permitted in the courtroom until after he had testified himself. I could see that they did that to prevent him from either getting confused or deliberately changing his testimony, but I still wished that Finn could be there. At least I would be able to be there for him.
The original plan had been to leave both Finn and Carole at home, but Finn had freaked out the minute that was suggested. He wanted to go to the courtroom and be with his family, even if that meant doing nothing but sitting in a room with all of the other people who wouldn't be testifying that day. No matter what any of us tried, he was utterly unmovable on the subject.
I hated to see Finn upset, but I did find the moment to be interesting. The 'family' that he was so adamant about staying with was Dad and I. Somehow, we had managed to meld ourselves into a reasonably cohesive family unit.
I hugged his side as tightly as I could. "It's alright. Your mother will be there, and Dad, too. You just worry about you."
He looked hurt. "But I have to worry about you, too. Otherwise I'd be kind of a sucky boyfriend."
"You're an excellent boyfriend." When I rubbed his back, I could feel his heart pounding against my hand. Despite his outward calm, he was as nervous as I was, probably more so.
"I wish I was going to testify today. I would rather go first then have to wait." He squirmed nervously.
I hadn't considered that, but he was right. Finn would have to wait four days at minimum, and even longer if things ran long or we went over more then one weekend. If I had to wait that long, knowing that terrible things were being said about me…I didn't even want to think about it.
Finn dressed quietly, allowing me to smooth his shirt and tie his tie for him. No, he wouldn't be testifying today, but the cameras would be there, watching him. He had mostly avoided them so far, by staying home as best he could and never leaving the house at the same time each day. Lima's a small town, and no one was going to pay a cameraman to hang around our house on the off chance that they might be able to catch a sound bite from Finn.
I dressed in front of the mirror, wondering when dressing and undressing in front of Finn had become such a non-issue.
My guess would be about the time that you figured out that the real problems in your lives have way overwhelmed those piddly little things that worried you before. Besides, deep down, you like showing off for him.
That was true. I still wasn't exactly sure what Finn saw in my body, especially when you compared it to his, but he was clearly happy. In my darker moments, though, I wondered if part of his happiness was that I was so small and skinny. I was strong, and had some muscle, but it wasn't the visibly bulging kind. Joseph on the other hand, was stocky, with tan skin and the sort of bulging arms that led me to believe that he was thickly muscled across the rest of his body as well. Maybe Finn liked me so much because I was the complete opposite of his abuser.
My hands trembled as I knotted my tie, causing me to have to loosen it and try again twice. If I couldn't even do this at home, what made me think that I wasn't going to fall apart on the stand?
Behind me, I saw Finn rise and creep over. He rested his chin on top of my head, studying our reflections. "I'm really sorry, Kurt."
"I'm sorry that you have to testify today because of me. I don't want you to be scared."
Sometimes it was easier to hold his eyes in the mirror then it was to do it if I was looking at his face. "Don't be sorry, because this isn't your fault. It's their fault, and I don't wasn't you to think differently."
His forehead wrinkled. "I know that it isn't my fault. But you still have to testify because of me. It's not because I did anything wrong, because I didn't, but you still have to go because of me, and it's not right." He gave a heavy sigh and closed his eyes. "But it kind of is what it is. Hey, how about you and I do some stuff when we get home?"
The sudden change in topic confused me for a minute, and I gaped at him. He grinned, that half-smirk that I had been missing lately. "I meant, like, sex stuff, not homework stuff."
I had gotten that part, but it shocked me to hear him say it so baldly. His progress was slow, but it was steady, and that was all that anyone could ask for. I reached for the hand on my shoulder and twined my fingers with his. "Lets see how both of us feel after court, but right now that sounds good."
He smiled and backed off, going to look for something in his nightstand. He pulled out a small box and handed it over. "It's kind of stupid, and I know it's probably now all fancy like you would have picked, but I got you a present."
The fact that he had thought about me enough to get a gift made my eyes well up. "I'm sure it's not stupid."
It wasn't wrapped, but it was in a jewelry box. I popped it open and caught my breath. No, the necklace inside wasn't something I would have chosen for myself, but it was very beautiful. I ran my fingers over the silver hummingbird pendant. "Why a hummingbird?'
"They make me think of you." He ducked his head and rubbed the back of his neck. "They're little and everyone thinks that they're all fragile and shit, but they aren't. When they need to, they fight. Plus, they're pretty like you."
I hugged Finn as tightly as I could, trying to absorbs some of his love. And, yes, this was love. Maybe not the kind that could tell me about and maybe he didn't even realize it yet, but there was no reason for this gesture except that he loved me. "Thank you, Finn. It's lovely."
I startled when he took my hand a flipped it over so my palm was facing upwards. He pulled out a sharpie and scrawled something in tiny letters on the skin. I had to put it up closer to my face to read what he had written. FINN. He had put his name of me. I raised and eyebrow, and he shrugged again. "So I'll be with you, even when I'm not."
The chain was long enough that the little bird was hidden under my shirt. That pleased me, not so much because I was ashamed of the token, but because it was something shared between Finn and I only.
As usual, Finn and I rode in the backseat while Dad and Carole sat up front. He held my hand, staring straight ahead. I wanted to ask what he was thinking, or if he was alright, but I didn't. Obviously he wasn't alright, and I wasn't sure I truly wanted to know what was going on in his mind.
At the courthouse, cameras flashed and reporters called out questions that had no answers. No, none of us were telling them what had happened. No, Finn would neither confirm nor deny the rumors of rape and other abuses. No, I wasn't going to talk about the night of the kidnapping.
Dad had one hand on my back, pushing me forward and through the doors. A limited number of reporters would be allowed inside, but the hallways were empty. Space was at a premium, and the lucky few allowed into the courtroom were already inside, jostling for the best seats.
Finn hugged me tightly when it was time for us to part, but in a brotherly way only. Before today, I wouldn't have really realized there was a difference, but it was obvious. His body remained slightly apart from mine, and he gave my back a few rough pats instead of the tender strokes I had gotten used to. "Good luck, Kurt."
A year ago, I would have known that I didn't need luck. I was telling the truth, and I was right. What else did I need?
Now I knew better. This wasn't about who was telling the truth, and it certainly wasn't about who was right. If it had been, Joseph and Lily would have just pled guilty right off. No, this was about who could spin the best story, and who was the most believable on the stand. I could get up there, and describe what had happened that night to the last detail, and if the jury chose not to believe me, I was sunk.
Except it wouldn't only be me who was sunk, it would be Finn as well. And if Finn wasn't believed about the kidnapping…I didn't even want to think about it. All of his progress over the past few months would be destroyed. We would be lucky if it didn't destroy him period.
Those of us unlucky enough to testify today were sent to a back room until we were called. Besides Dad and I, there was the owner of the bowling alley, two kids that looked about our age and-oh God. I was less then 10 feet away from Pucks mother, Nancy.
I wanted to hide behind Dad, but she had already seen us and was walking over. None of us had seen her since Finn had come home, though I know that Carole had spoken to her on the phone on several occasions. Other then one time, Finn had never asked about her or indicated that he wanted to see her. What was she going to say to me? What was I supposed to say to her?
She stopped a few feet away and greeted us softly. Dad gave her a quick hug, while I mumbled a 'hello' with my face down. I had mentally prepared for dozens of scenarios, but this wasn't one of them.
"How's Finny doing? Is he alright?" She didn't meet our eyes, which was a relief. I couldn't have stood to see what was deep within them.
Dad spoke up. "Finn's doing alright. He's made a lot of improvements and we're hoping to get him back in school by January."
"That's good. I'm glad to hear that he's doing well."
I had to remember that Nancy had known Finn since he was barely 6 years old. Neither she nor Carole could afford daycare when their sons were small. So Finn had spent countless nights over at the Puckerman's house when Carole worked late. Nancy had picked him up from school when he was sick and his own mother couldn't come home. Surely she had held him after a nightmare, stroked his hair when he was throwing up, and put a million band-aids on scrapes and bruises. It was normal for her to want to know about him now.
But she hadn't seen him since he had been home. She hadn't asked to him when she called, hadn't even sent a card to let him know that she was still thinking about him, even if it was too hard for he to see him face to face and not see Puck as well.
"I'm sure that he would love to see you again. He misses you." Dad was flustered, but trying.
She nodded. "There are….Noah had some things that I think he would have wanted Finn to have. There's no point in me keeping them any more."
I knew how hard it was to give up mementos of someone you've lost, no matter how small. I was still clinging to that old, broken, dresser. Dad knew it, too. "I'm sure there are some things that he would like to have. Would this weekend be too soon?"
I never heard her reply, because my name was being called. Dad squeezed me tightly, and I wanted to cling to him and never let go. "Just tell the truth, Kurt, and look for Carole. She'll be there to support you."
Somehow, I found the strength to get up and follow the guard down the hall. There's a special name of these guards, but that name, as well as every other fact I had ever learned, had flown out of my mind.
At the doors, I straightened up and pulled my shoulders back. No matter what happened, I would be strong on the stand and not cry. I walked to the stand and climbed up, looking from one lawyer to the other. Now that it was down to the wire, I couldn't remember who would speak first. I was starting to freak out, and nothing had happened yet.
The prosecutor noticed my panic started out gently, asking my full name and age.
My voice caught the first time, and I had to clear my throat and try again. "Kurt Anthony Hummel, and I'm 17."
"Is it alright if I call you Kurt?"
"Yes." I couldn't imagine him addressing me as an adult, since I had seldom felt so small and young.
"When's your birthday, Kurt?" His voice was coaxing, and I knew that he was trying to get me a little more comfortable before we got to the hard part.
"March 29th, 1994." Ok, I could do this. This was easy.
"And what is your relationship to Finn Hudson?"
This was the moment of truth. Could I lie so well that I would fool not only the lawyers, but the jury as well? "He's my brother. My stepbrother. Well, not even that. His mother is my father's girlfriend. But I knew him before that, too."
"Let's back up a bit. Why don't you describe how you met Finn, and let's go from there."
What he really wanted was for me to slow down and get my facts straight. "He and I are the same age, so we've always been in the same grade at school. But I didn't really know him until this year, when he joined the Glee club. We became friends from that, and then our parents started dating, so we spent a lot of time together. Now we live together."
"And the two of you are close?"
"Yes." I wanted to say more, to justify and explain myself, but I held back. Finn had been told to answer nothing but the question at hand in as few words as possible. If the lawyer wanted clarification, he would ask for it.
He let that particular matter go. "Ok, Kurt. In your own words, I want you to tell me what happened on the night Finn was allegedly kidnapped."
This was a more open-ended question, and it scared me. What if I said too much? What if I said too little? I took a deep breath and prayed that my voice wouldn't crack. "Dad and Carole were going on a date. Carole is Finn's Mom. I was staying home, and Finn was going bowling with Puck."
"How did you know that Finn was going bowling? Did he tell you that?" The interruption was gentle, but it still threw me off. How had I known that?
"He told me." My hands clasped each other so tightly my knuckles were white.
"What exactly did he say?"
Suddenly I knew where this was going, and that knowledge helped me relax. I always do better when I have some idea of what was coming. "He invited me along. I didn't go, because I felt like I would be a third wheel. So he said that he and I would watch a movie when he got back." The image of Finn's face that night was burned into my brain. The way his eyes looked, so hopeful that we could sort things out and be friends again. There was nothing like the wariness and sometimes outright fear that I see now. "He promised he would be back by 1 in the morning." Now my voice did crack, but I was able to keep the tears at bay. Crying would not only make me look bad, but might hurt Finn's case as well.
"What happened then?" He was moving quickly, almost too quickly.
"Puck came and got him. I waited for him to come home, but he didn't. He was just gone."
"And what did you do?"
I squirmed, unable to look over at Carole. By the time Finn was late getting home, it would have been too late for me to help him, no matter what I might have tried. But I had had no way of knowing that. Finn could have been late because he and Puck had been in a car accident and been injured, or they could have been stranded on the side of the road.
Granted, it was more likely that they were holed up somewhere drinking, or spending the night with some girls, but there had been no way for me to know that. I hadn't done as much as I could have, not because I thought he was out raising hell, but because I was angry with him, and I was in a snit. That pettiness was something I would have to live with for the rest of my life.
"I called him a few times, but he didn't answer. Then I called the hospital, to make sure that he hadn't been in an accident. I called Puck, and he didn't pick up either. I thought they just didn't feel like coming home and thought he wouldn't get caught since Dad and Carole weren't home. He knew I would cover for him." Based on our last conversation that night, Finn knew that I would do just about anything to get back in his good graces.
The defense lawyer nodded and moved on. "When did you know that something w as wrong?"
"He still wasn't there the next morning, but Dad and Carole were. If he had been sneaking out, he would have made sure that he was back before they were."
"And what did you do then?"
His measured questions were trying to lull me into a sense of security, but I wouldn't let them. It didn't matter so much with this man, but the defense lawyer would do everything in his power to get me calm and trusting so he could lure me into a trap. "We called all of his friends, and Puck's mother, but no one had seen him at all. So we called the police."
He turned to the jury. "We'll be hearing from the police shortly. I'd like to skip ahead with Kurt. How long was Finn gone?"
"Did he call? Send a letter? Drop and email to let you know that he was ok? Anything?"
"No." His words brought back the fear and uncertainty that we had lived with for months on end. Was Finn alive? Dead? Would we ever know, or would we just spend the rest of our lives both hoping for and dreading a knock at the door? "He was just gone."
"So what you're telling me is that your friend Finn, who you had known for quite some time, and were as close to as a brother, just walked away from your family?"
"No, he didn't. They stole him." The words came out softly, and without thought.
Objections immediately started flying from the defense lawyers. The prosecutor fought back, and there was a brief conference with the judge. Finally they both took their places and things went on as usual.
"Tell me what happened when you saw Finn again."
Which time? My hands tightened, and I felt some of my fingernails break through the skin. I couldn't speak, and I suddenly knowhow Finn had felt for so long. It took three tries for me to clear my throat and speak. "Do you mean on the video or in person?"
"In person. We don't need to worry about the video right now."
Ok, that I could do. "I was staying at my friend's house, but I had to come home and pick up some clothes. I walked up to the house, and he was just sitting on the porch, like it was any other day."
"Did he tell you where he had been?"
"No. He didn't say anything to anyone for a long time. He didn't talk at all." The memory of that horror brought tears to my eyes, and I dabbed them with a tissue from the box that had been helpfully placed under the witness stand. "It was like he was back, but he wasn't."
"But Finn did talk to you eventually, didn't he? Tell everyone what he said happened."
I was crying steadily now. "He…he….he said that he and Puck-"
"Objection! Hearsay!" There was another conference with the judge, and this time the objection was sustained. The jury was told to disregard my last remark, and I was warned not to mention Puck again.
I know why they do that. Puck had not been taken. He was part of the murder case, and this was the kidnapping case. Bringing Puck into it was unfairly prejudicial. It was silly, since everyone in the country knew about the connection, but I guess that's just the way our justice system works. There was also the fact that I had neither seen nor heard Puck's murder that night. I knew about it because Finn had told me, but without being there myself, I didn't get to talk about it. Finn would undoubtedly be asked, and the Wrights, but I get it, and I usually agree with it, but when it's someone you love who suffers from it, it's really hard to accept.
"Kurt, can you try again?"
"He said that he was in the car and he saw Lily flagged him down. He walked over to her car, and Joseph was inside. He had a gun and-"I stopped there, because I was about to bring up Puck again. How was I supposed to say this without mentioning Puck? "Finn was looking at the gun, and Lily tasered him and forced him into the car. Then they drove him to New Mexico."
"So, in Finn's own words, to his brother that he loves very much, he was forced into a stranger's car that night?"
"Thank you, Kurt. You've done a wonderful job, and I'm going to hand you over to the defense now. I'll be speaking to you again afterwards."
This had been the easy part, and I was already crying and bloody. Now came the hard part. The defense attorney rose and stepped up in front of me. "Hey, there. Can I call you Kurt as well?"
Even though I knew that he was just doing his job, it was hard not to hate this man. If he had his way, Joseph and Lily would walk free. But I didn't want to start out hostile, so I nodded. "Yes."
"Thank you. I know that this is hard for you, and that you want to protect your brother."
In other words, he was telling the jury that I was willing to lie for Finn, so don't believe what I was saying. I stared him down, which was one of my better responses to a bully. Usually I had something nasty to add as well, but I was in a courthouse, not the schoolyard.
"Let's go back to the last night Finn was home. Isn't it true that he was having some problems at home?"
One one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand, four one thousand. "Nothing major."
"But there was tension at home?"
I mentally counted again. "Little things. He and Carole had just moved in with us, and it was an adjustment for everyone. He had never had a brother or a father, and it was a strange house."
"Finn had talked about running away from home before, though, hadn't he?" His tone was conversational, but I wasn't going to fall for it.
"No? But that's not what you told the police the day after he disappeared." He handed me a piece of paper. "Can you read what you said about halfway down?"
I skimmed the paragraph and inwardly let loose a barrage of curse words. I barely even remembered that interview, much less what I had said. "This is Lima, Ohio. Everyone talks about running away at some point."
That was all that was on that line. I still couldn't remember saying that, but I was sure that Finn had never been serious. "My mistake. But I couldn't have possibly taken him seriously at the time."
There's a rule among lawyers that you never ask a question that you don't already know the answer to. This lawyer didn't want to ask me how I was so sure, but I had managed to arouse everyone's curiosity with my answer. If he didn't ask, he looked really bad. "Why do you feel that way?"
"Because I would have begged him to take me with." It was the truth. If there had been even the slightest indication that Finn was about to bolt for good, I would have parked myself right next to him and refused to be shaken off. Things in Lima might be hard for him sometimes, but for me they were pure hell.
He moved on quickly. "There was something else going on, though, wasn't there Kurt? Something that had Finn afraid in his own home?"
It was a rhetorical question, so I didn't answer. My mind was spinning, trying to remember what else I had said that day. There had been something else, something worse…
"Where was Finn sleeping at your house?" Again, with that false comraderarie.
Alarm bells rang, but there was nothing I could do about it. I was stuck on this stand, and he could ask whatever he wanted. "He and I were sharing a room. Dad was going to put an addition up so Finn could have his own bedroom, but we had to share for a little bit."
"Did he like sharing a room with you?" His voice was honey sweet.
I counted again, feeling sweat break out on the back of my neck. When I spoke, though, my voice was steady. "No." I wanted to blurt out more, but I didn't. I was sure that he would ask.
"Why not?" He didn't disappoint.
"He'd never shared a room before and neither had I. My alarm went off too early for him, and he went to bed too early for me. He played the drums and I yelled at him about the noise. I had my friends over and he hated that he didn't have anywhere to get away from us."
Really Kurt? That's not what the major problem was and you know it. You know who else knows it? This man. It's his job to know the ins and outs of this case, and he's very good at what he does. You're sunk, my friend.
Now that I was several months removed from the situation I was no longer sure what Finn's biggest problem was. My flirting hadn't helped, but was that the worst part of this? I suspected that while Finn was upset about that, it was much bigger then a moist towelette. It was about the total loss of control over his own life. No one asked him how he felt about moving, or sharing a room, or gaining an instant family. He and Carole had always been a team, but he was suddenly replaced by Dad and I. And when he tried to object, he was summarily ignored. All he had left was his own body, and he was afraid that I would take that as well.
The tragedy was, that Finn ended up losing it anyway, and in a way more brutal then he could have imagined.
In retrospect, I could see where there was fault on both sides. I had bitched and nagged, and Finn had responded by shutting down. Neither one of us was willing to bend or try and fix things. It had only been a few days and our quiet house had become a war zone. How much longer would it have taken to explode?
"Are you gay?" I was expecting the question, but it still felt like a punch in the stomach.
The prosecutor objected loudly, stating that my sexuality was of no consequence to this trial. For the third time, they spoke at the bench, and the prosecutor lost again. The judge instructed me to answer the question.
I squared my shoulders and kept my chin up. No matter what, I wouldn't let this man shame me. "Yes. I'm gay."
I wouldn't commit perjury, but that didn't mean I had to tell the entire truth either. I'm very good at being evasive. "Finn likes girls. He even thought he had gotten one pregnant. He's not gay."
He wasn't entirely straight either, but I knew that his preference would always be girls. I was an aberration. Not that I think there's anything false about his affection for me, but I don't think that he would willing be with any other man.
"You were attracted to him, weren't you?"
I had known that this would come up, and had thought carefully about my answer. "Yes. Finn's cute, but he's so gentle and caring. He never wants to make anyone upset or sad and that's a sweet trait. I was attracted to that. Who wouldn't be?"
I snuck a peek at the jury. Were they disgusted or were they listening to what I was saying? Would a caring person who never wanted to make anyone upset just up and leave his family for no real reason? Or was something else preventing him from contacting us? Maybe something that was sitting in the defendant's box, not 15 feet in front of me?
"How did Finn feel about having to share a room with a gay man who had an obvious crush on him?"
Be honest. If you aren't honest, he's going to know, and he's going to call you out. Then everyone else is going to wonder what else you've been dishonest about.
Every once in a while, that voice came up with a good suggestion. This was going to make me look bad, but I had to admit that my behavior hadn't exactly been perfect. "He didn't like it."
"He didn't like it. The truth is, Kurt, that Finn was miserable at home, wasn't he? He didn't like where he was living, he didn't like who he was living with, and he couldn't get anyone to listen to him when he told them that. He was afraid to go to bed at night. So he decided he would just leave. Isn't that the truth?"
"No." The stupid tears were starting again, but I gave up on forcing them back. I needed all of my mental energy to do battle with this guy. "Finn wouldn't just leave."
A good defense attorney knows that there's a very fine line to walk. I was small and cute, and looked much younger then I actually was. If he kept pushing me, he would look like a monster who was badgering a crying child. His point was already made, anyway. Finn was miserable in his life and scared that his creepy gay roommate was going to rape him in the middle of the night. Who would want to live like that? Even the streets might be better.
So he backed off a bit. "I'd like to go back to the night Finn disappeared. What time would you say he left the house that night?"
"Around 8." If there was one thing I was sure of, it was the timeline.
"And what time was he expected be home?"
"By one. Carole was really clear on that."
"So his own mother made it clear to Finn that he was to be home by a certain time or face the consequences?" At my nod, he kept going. "You love your brother Finn, right? The two of you are best buddies and spend a lot of time together?" I nodded again. "So why on earth would you not call the police when he came up missing?"
"I…I thought that he and Puck were going to stay out all night. I didn't think that there was anything wrong."
He nodded and moved on, but we both knew that he had scored a heavy point. Here I was claiming that Finn was happy, loved, and wanted in his home and had no reason to want to disappear. But I hadn't even bothered to call the police when a 16 year old boy didn't come home. No wonder he charged so much. "You've already covered the day Finn came home, so I'm going to skip ahead. I want to talk about the night that Finn talked to you. Can you tell me how it came that he left the Wrights? What did he tell you?"
"They dropped him off." This was one of the sticking points of the case. Why would the Wrights take Finn, only to return him just as suddenly? He was 17 years old, not 17 months. He knew their names, and where they lived, and could easily identify them. The fact that they had let him come home, relatively unharmed, certainly made it appear as if they were telling the truth about what had happened. They had picked Finn up hitchhiking, and taken him in when it seemed to have no one else. Then, when he got lonely and wanted to go home, they took him right back where they had found him.
"Just like that?"
"Just like that." After enough brutality and abuse to destroy someone several times over, but I couldn't bring that up. This was about the kidnapping, not the rapes or abuse. If I tried to bring them up, there would be more objections and everyone would be ordered to disregard anything I said.
Not that it really mattered. Everyone already knew that Puck had been murdered that night, and that Finn had been raped and abused. They weren't supposed to take it into account, but they couldn't unknow it. So me coming right out with it was unessescery.
"If they 'stole' Finn, to borrow your phrase, why would they just drop him off? They even took him right to the house. Why wouldn't they be afraid of being caught with their kidnap victim sitting right to them in their car?"
"Objection! Calls for speculation!" The defense lawyer was back on his feet.
"Withdrawn. Thank you, Kurt, you've been very helpful today. I'm going to give you back over to Mr. Robison.
Once he said the name, I not only recalled that that was the prosecutor, but that his own name was Mr. Samuels, and we were sitting under the Honorable Judge Dale. The names flooded back like they had never been lost.
I stared into his eyes, wondering about him. He had to know that there was no way Finn had voluntarily walked off with these people. It had happened exactly like Finn said it had, with murder and the kidnapping. So why was he defending these people? Money? The challenge of getting a guilty person off? Something far darker?
How about he does it because that's the way our justice system works? You might not like it, but they have the right to a defense. This man is what's standing between the country and mob justice. Think off all the people who are found guilty with no trial, no evidence, nothing. He's providing something that is guaranteed by the constitution though I'm sure the money doesn't hurt.
Mr. Robison stood back up. "I promise Kurt, we're almost done here. Would you like a tissue?"
I had barely realized that I was crying again. I had promised myself that I wouldn't do it, but I had had enough. This lawyer had done serious damage to our case, and I hadn't been able to stop it. I nodded and wiped my face. No matter how bad things were, I was not going to blow my nose in front of a hundred people, not to mention any news cameras recording this.
"Are you alright to continue, or would you like a short break?"
It was a thoughtful question, but if I got off of this stand, I would never make it back on. "No, I'm fine."
"This shouldn't take long. I'm just going to clarify a few points here. I know that it's embarrassing, but can we talk about you flirting with Finn."
"Yeah." I wiped my nose. "We can talk about that."
"There's something that Mr. Samuels failed to mention, wasn't there? Tell me what you and Finn talked about right before he was kidnapped."
Every word of that conversation was permanently burned into my brain. "He called me out on flirting with him. I was scaring him and he wanted me to leave him alone."
"He told you that/? He actually looked right at you and told you that he knew you were being a little aggressive, and he wanted you to back off?"
"Yes." It still hurt, even so many months later. I loved Finn, I had always loved Finn, and I hated the fact that I had upset him.
"What did you say back to him?" Why did he insist on drawing my humiliation out in front of everyone?
"I apologized, and he accepted. We were going to start over." I couldn't help but wonder what would have happened if Finn really had come home that night. Could we have actually moved on from what had happened and been alright? He would have tried to get past the fact that I had a massive crush on him, and I would have tried to treat him as nothing more then the stepbrother I was sharing a room with. We both would have put in as much effort as possible.
But could we have succeeded? Probably not. The trust between us was broken, and broken trust is one of the hardest things to fix. Without some enormous intervening event, it would have taken years to get back to where we had been at the beginning of the year when he had just laughed when I smacked him on the ass during 'Push It'. Years that we didn't have. Soon high school would be over, and we would go to different colleges. We might talk on the phone occasionally, but would probably only see each other if we both went home for the holidays. Once we had our own families, it would probably be even less then that.
His kidnapping changed all of that. What the Wrights had done to him had damaged his ability to trust anyone, where he had previously been so gentle and naïve. He was terrified. Then they brought him back, but the one person in the world that he could always count on, Carole, was gone. He went to me on that porch, not because he trusted me, but because I was the only familiar face in his living nightmare.
That's not to say that our relationship didn't deepen into real trust, or that it wasn't strong now, because it had and it was. But it would be pure foolishness to think that we would be where we were today if Finn had come home that night to watch a movie.
You wouldn't be in this courtroom, either. By the way, you just missed a question.
I realized that everyone was staring at me, and that voice was right. "I'm sorry, could you repeat that?"
"I asked if you felt like things were turning a corner between you." His eyes were suddenly worried, and I knew that he wanted me off the stand before I did something stupid. I was clearly not as focused as I had been, and was thus a loose cannon.
"I thought things were going to get better between us. I really wanted us to be able to be a family." Maybe not the family I had originally hoped for when I hooked our parents up as a means to get to Finn, but a family all the same.
"Do you think Finn felt the same way?"
"Yes." Either that or he was the world's best actor. The way the hope had had bloomed in his eyes when I agreed to back off told me that he had wanted this to work as badly as I had. "He wanted us to be able to be together." I realized what I had said and inwardly cringed. "I mean, together as a family, not together like as boyfriends. Just…just a family and-"
Shut up, shut up, shut up! God, you were doing so well, too.
Yep, I had been babbling at the top of my lungs again. I clamped my mouth shut, praying I wasn't doing that deer-in-the-headlights thing I tended to do when I was freaked out.
"Why would he run away, then? According to his you, the ones who loved him best, things were looking very good for Finn."
"He wouldn't." I didn't know how many times I would have to say it. "Finn wouldn't have run away from home."
"I'm going to move on to the day Finn came home and you took him to the hospital. Did you see any injuries on Finn that day?"
Finally, something that wasn't humiliating, and that I didn't have to worry about answering wrong. "Yes. His wrists were really, really bruised all the way around. Just layers of dark purple bruises, one over the other. It was horrible." Even now the memory had me rubbing at my own wrists.
"His wrists were bruised all the way around. Like someone had tied him up or restrained him maybe? Did you see any other injuries?"
I closed my eyes and pictured Finn at the hospital. There was something else important….I suddenly remembered. "His fingernails were all broken. Not like he was chewing on them, but way down to where you knew it had to be painful."
I had a sudden mental image of Finn sitting in that broom closet, knowing that they planned to kill him that very night. He must have struggled so hard to free himself from the handcuffs. Hard enough to break his nails and leave bruises and not even care. The desperation he must have felt tore at my heart.
I thought again. Finn had been at a normal weight, he hadn't been bruised other then his wrists. No cuts anywhere on his body. "He had a mark on his neck from being hit with a Taser."
"A Taser?" He acted shocked, like he hadn't known all of this already. "Wow. Most of the guests I have don't need some help from a Taser to stick around."
When I was a little kid, only three or four years old, my mother took me on a day trip to a working farm. I had gotten overexcited at the sight of the ponies, and grabbed the electric fence before my mother could stop me. While only borderline painful, the resulting surprise shock had me in my mothers arms sobbing. A jolt from a Taser had to be many times that painful and frightening, and Finn had no one to hold him afterwards.
"Thank you, Kurt. I've got no further questions."
That was it? But there were things that I didn't get a chance to say, because no one asked me. Why hadn't our lawyer asked about the hospital, or emphasized Finn's not talking, or his fear of leaving the house, or…or…or….
I'm sure he's thought of all of those things. But remember, you aren't the only witness here. There are doctors and nurses to talk about the hospital, and Samantha to testify as to Finn's mental state. There are plenty of people here to fill in the blanks, so relax. You need to quit being such a control freak.
I felt almost like I was in a trance when I stepped off of the witness stand. Things were bright and the sounds were echoing and strange. I just wanted to collect Finn and go home.
Carole had her arm around my shoulders as soon as I reached her, and led me out. I wasn't crying any more, but I was doing that stupid sniffling/breath-hitching thing that made me sound about four years old.
The worst part was, it wasn't over yet. As much as I wanted to leave, we still had to wait for Dad to testify. If it was a true emergency, I could convince Carole to let me drive Finn and I home, and come back for them when Dad was done, but this didn't quite qualify. I was going to have to suck it up and stick this one out.
According to Carole, Finn had been left contentedly chatting with a police officer whom I only vaguely recognized. He wasn't a big player in our case, so he must be testifying for a different one. It was strange to think that there were other cases going on in this very building, and that, while Finn's kidnapping had blown our family apart, it wasn't even a blip on the radar screen for the people in the other courtrooms. They were dealing with their own personal hells.
Finn must have been peeking out the door at every set of footsteps, because he was flying down the hallway so he could bounce off Carole and give me a hug before spinning away. I swear, my boyfriend is like a human ping-pong ball. '
Unfortunately, his happiness only served to compound my misery. How happy would Finn be if he knew that I had let the defense attorney destroy me in there? I hugged him tightly, laying my head on his shoulder. "I messed up in there."
He pushed me back a little so he could look into my eyes. "Did you lie?"
What did that have to do with anything? Finn knew as well as I did that the truth meant nothing in a case like this. I wiped my eyes again. "I didn't lie."
"Then you didn't mess up. You worry too much." He squeezed me one last time and released, ever mindful of who might be watching. "You didn't screw it up, I promise."
I very badly wanted that to be true, but I knew that my credibility, and by extension that of the entire defense case had taken a serious hit. But I didn't want to disturb Finn's optimism, so I said nothing.
Carole looked from one of us to the other. "Are you boys going to be alright if I go back to the courtroom? Burt should be on the stand soon."
I left it up to Finn, who shrugged and nodded. "It's ok, Mom. Kurt and I will keep each other company."
We sat together on one of the tables, shoulder to shoulder, hip to hip. I laid my head on his shoulder, feeling how solid he was and drawing comfort from it. After a few beats, he reached over and took my hand in his. He didn't say anything, and I didn't feel like I could speak either. Our silence hung between us, almost like a heavy sheet.
So connected and together, but still alone, we sat and waited for the day to be over.