chapter 1

Kurt Hummel sits on the usually immaculately clean floor of his ensuite bathroom, clutching his phone in his right hand and an orange bottle of pills in the other. The cuffs of his sleeves, once a pristine cream color, are now blotched with ugly spots of dark red, seeping through the material from underneath the cuffs.

No one's at home, and he'd been crying for hours. After all, it was the middle of a school day. Kurt had come home early, parking his car recklessly in the driveway before running into the safety of his home.

Today, Kurt had finally snapped. Today, he had received a death threat.

A death threat given to him only after he endured the worst beating they'd ever given him. He had always kept his head high through the needless bullying and harassment, walking away as if it never affected him when he's been battered inside and out. It did, of course. Today was the first time they broke Kurt. His elbow feels dangerously numb and out of place, but the sobs that thoroughly racked his being meant that he couldn't fully focus on his senses. He couldn't feel his split lip, nor could he feel the bruise forming over his eyelid.

He didn't want to feel. It was more comfortable for him not to.

Feeling his injuries would mean defeat. It hurt even more to know that his rigid exterior did nothing to soften the blows: a fa├žade of integrity, as it turned out, only angered them more. It was as if he wasn't worthy of pride. They'd intended to take him down a notch, and that they did.

Hell, at this point, Kurt Hummel was on the bottom rung of life, holding on reluctantly by the fingertips.

It's never gotten this bad, he thinks to himself. It can only go downhill from here.

He'd almost dialed his dad thrice. Each time he'd try, he'd never made it to the call button. It was always a halfway attempt at dialing the only set of numbers he'd remembered by heart, but he'd talked himself out of it each time. He'd tried to talk to his dad last night, after feeling that the bullying was beginning to escalate and he was getting truly afraid. It ended in an enormous argument between them, ending with Kurt going to bed feeling infinitely worse and his dad, more stressed with work than ever, leaving him without trying to reconcile things in the slightest.

He tried so hard to cry it off, like he'd done countless times before. Have a good cry, he'd told himself. Get it out of your system.

It had become customary to do at this point. It was all he could do to brush it off and move on, right?

He couldn't remember exactly when he reached for the set of razors in his bathroom cabinet, nor could be remember how that bottle of pills found its way onto the floor next to him. His thoughts were fogged with fear and despair; he's not thinking straight. He's exhausted from crying, but he can't stop. He's an open faucet, and he knows there's no one there to close the tap. He's trying to figure out what he's doing, he really is, but he's moving on impulse and he's on autopilot. Before he knows it, he's bleeding- fresh wounds spill over onto the bathroom tiles that have never felt colder beneath his feet. Sharp, clean, long slits exert themselves as Kurt sees the droplets rise to the surface and slip down his pale, bony wrist.

Each drop seems to echo painfully loud in the closed space. The sound resonated in his ears with a painful twinge as Kurt can only watch as white tiles are corrupted with red, not fully comprehending how it even happened. He knows he's pouring, he's pouring his heart out onto the bathroom floor.. this was supposed to be relief, this was supposed to feel good.

It doesn't, it doesn't at all, it smarts and the sight of blood makes him nauseous paired with his influx of tears. It doesn't help, he's got to stop, he's got to stop.

That's when Kurt spots the little cylinder, sitting on its side where its prescription label has been worn and scratched off. The razor hits the ground with a clatter, forgotten as a failed means of comfort. Trembling hands reach out for the bottle, his wrists leaving a light smattering of crimson where he stretches out, palms open. Fumbling, he pulls back and finds himself shifting into the sitting position he's in now. One shaky hand on the bottle of round white pills, the other on his phone. He draws his arms in, making himself even smaller, pulling his knees up as he continues to sob miserably into himself.

He lessens his crying slightly to wipe at his face with his sleeve, feeling rivulets form down his arm when he raises his cuffed wrist to his tear-tracked cheek. They feel only a little more viscose than water, yet so, so heavy at the same time. His fingers turn the orange bottle around in his fingers- there were plenty of pills in there. Though the label is tattered, he can make out a few words that told him they were prescribed analgesics. Pain-killers.

Pills that can take away all the pain.

It seemed too easy. Far too easy- yet so, so appealing. He could solve all his problems right now, with the help of these little pellets resting in his left palm. If only for a little while. The fluorescent orange clashed with the pale white of his skin, and again with the deep red around his wrists. The garish colours of his sight that flooded his raw, sensitive eyes seemed to urge him on: your escape is so simple- so close, Kurt.

But it's not that simple, his internal voice bursts out. It's still going to hurt so bad once the effects of these pills wear off. They'll still want to hurt you so bad, Kurt, because even pills won't fix you. Pills won't fix the fact that you're a homosexual. They think you're sick, Kurt, and that you're a lost cause. No pity, no sympathy- just disgust. Your sexuality is going to hang over your head for the rest of your life, and these tablets will help you for the shortest time.

After each of these doses, you'll be alone.

You will always, always be alone.

And there's nothing that you, or a prescription, will ever be able to do about it.

Then Kurt has a pivotal thought. He glances down to the bottle again, realising how possible it was to solve everything. It's a terrifying thought, yes.. but he's found a way out. He could take them all- then they wouldn't be a temporary fix. They'd amend everything, they'd erase it all. It would be a permanent change.

For a minute, Kurt feels elated. He'd found his solution.

He then realises the implications of his thoughts. His cerulean irises falter as his eyes widen- had he really resorted to this, of all things?

Without realising it, Kurt's dialed another number on his phone. It's the number he'd seen through the glass walls of the guidance councilors' office when he passes by it on the long route to his locker.

Which he takes for safety's sake.

Even then, it's only effective about half the time- they're almost always there.

Before, it was only ever a couple punches and shoves; a couple words like daggers. He'd never let it show what their tormenting did to him on the inside. His smart-ass outer surface was a cover for a hopeless boy, broken by hate and on the verge of giving in.

He was so close to giving in, he really was. His previous thoughts were a confirmation of that. When he'd realised the pills were only a temporary escape, he'd already been on the edge. When he realised that the pills had the capability of being a permanent escape, well- one foot was hovering over empty space. He is about ready to shift his weight and take the plunge.

He's ready to end it all.

That number, though.

That number had ingrained itself into his mind subconsciously- he had given it a glance every now and then but never had he really considered a stranger to be of much solace; much less on the phone. He'd never thought he'd be in this position; he'd never thought he'd ever need to dial this number on his phone while he steadily loses blood and tears and hope on his bathroom floor.

His thumb is poised over the call button as he stares at the dialed number on the screen.

1-800-SOS.

Short, obvious, quick to type. It was designed for the desperate.

With one lingering glance on the battered prescription container, he flutters his wet, tired eyes closed and slowly raises the phone to his ear, having decided to give life this albeit small, fighting chance.