Warnings: Some violence; stalker situation
Summary: Rachel usually likes it when people compliment her singing, but after one date Kyle already seems weirdly possessive. She ignores the problem until he threatens Kurt. Then it gets personal.
Finn: I was trying to give you your freedom.
Rachel: I don't need you to give me my freedom. I am a grown woman. I don't need you to hide from me to keep me from doing what is right for me.
"You were amazing."
Rachel pushed a strand of hair behind her ear and looked up at the person behind the compliment, smiling a little. A year at NYADA, almost, and most of the time after voice class all she heard was frustrated muttering about how she ate up all the class time with questions that didn't apply to anyone else. Like it was her fault they all didn't have a callback for Funny Girl in three weeks.
"Thank you," she said, straightening the purse on her shoulder and stretching out a hand automatically. "I don't think we've actually met. I'm Rachel Berry."
The man chuckled (they were men in college, weren't they? Rachel was always struck the grown-up-ness of them, the ones who weren't slim and gay, the ones who were muscular and wore glasses and had rumpled hair and dimples and abs and deep voices. Men now, suddenly transformed since high school) "I know who you are. I'm Kyle." No last name, but that was okay. Rachel said hers more out of habit than anything, and Kurt was always trying to get her to stop (we live in New York now. Can you be safe for once?)
"This is probably going to make me sound really gay," Kyle said, falling into step with her as she walked out of the room, "but every time you sing I cry."
"I cry every time I sing too," Rachel admitted, "we make a good pair."
"Yeah, two people crying at the drop of a hat. A great pair."
"If we watched Titanic together we might just drown ourselves," Rachel said this absent-mindedly, mostly because she was struck by Kyle's good looks. Out in the hallway, in the natural light that spilled through the floor-to-ceiling windows, she could see his hair, light brown and tousled, see his nice grey eyes and big lips and straight nose that made him look – well, it made him look reliable and comfortable and handsome.
And then he stopped walking suddenly and Rachel had to back up a few steps to stay with him, "we could watch Titanic together," he said, and his voice was different, jarring somehow, pleading, and Rachel remembered Kurt begging her to be safe in New York with all the crazies.
He was good-looking and he complimented her singing and he had a nice deep rich voice and he was a boy and what could she do? She smiled, "Friday sounds great."
"You've got a what?"
"A date, Kurt. And before you ask it's not Brody and he certainly doesn't look like a prostitute and no, I haven't told Finn and would really appreciate it if you didn't tell him either."
Kurt, standing next to the stove with an apron around his waist, shook his head and stirred the turkey and lentil soup he'd made to get him through more West Wing on Netflix. "I don't like lying to Finn."
"Don't lie. Just don't mention it."
"He's my brother, Rach. And he calls, like, three times a week. And he always asks about you." Kurt thought it was kind of sweet, actually. Finn would call, saying he was standing in line for groceries or going out to get the mail, five-minute conversations. When Kurt questioned him about it Finn just mumbled something about not having a brother before, and not wanting to mess up this relationship too, since he always seemed to be messing up something.
"Okay, but please?" Rachel wasn't listening, and Kurt suspected she never did when he was actually saying something important. She was doing her make-up in the mirror. "Do I need to show you a picture again?"
He was going to lose this battle, so why bother? "No. Go have fun with you baby Rob Lowe."
"I will!" Rachel said, already heading for the door and wiggling fingers over her shoulder, "try not to turn into a boring old woman before I get back!"
Kurt ladled some of the soup into a bowl, "in order to do that I'd have to get a cat…" he muttered, picking up his phone. After a second's hesitation, he sent a short text to Blaine, and then dialed a different number. "Hey Finn! How's Ohio?"
Rachel came back from her Friday night Titanic date with smudged makeup and a ripped shirt. Kurt, who'd had a very pleasant evening talking about Rob Lowe with Blaine, paused the sixth West Wing episode that night and looked up at her. "What's wrong? Did something happen?"
"New York is not filled with nice boys," Rachel said stiffly, standing in the middle of the room like she didn't know if she wanted to sit with Kurt or cry in her room or take a long, hot shower.
She didn't have to decide though, since Kurt was already off the couch and pulling her into a hug. He was taller than her by nearly half a foot and she fit against him well. "Can this be fixed by chocolate or do we need to call in reinforcements to make sure he gets his face pounded in? I can pull Santana back from Lima if we need her."
Rachel laughed and it sounded like she wanted to cry but she was shaking her head. "He just got so…weird. He knew all this stuff about me. The train I took, and where we live, and where I went to high school. He said he'd watched out Nationals performance on YouTube a dozen times."
"The one where we win or the one where you and Finn make out for a very awkward thirty-six seconds?"
Rachel just stared at him, and Kurt let her go gently, going through the motions of making a pot of tea, getting out the emergency bar of chocolate. "It sounds like you have a stalker. I'd drop him."
"Stalkers don't happen in real life," Rachel protested, "not unless you're famous."
"Of course they happen in real life. Do you never watch NCIS?"
"That's not real life."
"Well the stories come from somewhere. Drop him, Rachel."
She collapsed on the couch, sticking her head up from over the back of it to watch as Kurt prepared her chai tea like she liked it, with lots of milk and a little sugar. "I already did. I told him had a very pleasant evening but perhaps we should go our separate ways."
"Sheesh. Break his heart why don't you."
Rachel didn't say anything, and she didn't tell Kurt about how Kyle had gotten mad after that, and had kissed her, and she'd never been kissed angrily before but it made her feel small and dirty, and she'd left after that and he'd followed her and tried to grab her arm and ripped her shirt.
Kurt wouldn't understand. He'd get worried, and insist on changing locks and maybe moving, insist on Santana coming back from visiting home early. Worst of all, he'd insist on telling Finn, who couldn't know, could never know. But Kurt was paranoid about New York, about the dangers of the city. Rachel knew how to be safe, and Kyle may not be the nicest guy but he wasn't crazy enough to do anything to hurt them.
Over the course of the next week, Rachel found herself wishing she'd said something to Kurt on Friday night, had told him the whole story. Because on Saturday she received a dozen texts from Kyle, apologizing for his behavior. WE CAN STILL BE FRIENDS. I'M SORRY I MOVED SO FAST. IT'S JUST THAT I FEEL LIKE I ALREADY KNOW YOU.
On Sunday, it was roses delivered, scarily, right to the apartment, the card apologizing again. She told Kurt they were from her dads, another congratulations on getting the callback.
Monday there were more texts, one of them asking her if they could meet up at school, another one complimenting her red heels. She looked around after the second one, but couldn't see Kyle anywhere. She felt very much like changing her shoes. She also felt like being sick.
(oh why hadn't she told Kurt? but if she told him now he'd be mad at her for lying, and she didn't need to be in a fight with her only friend, not now.)
Tuesday there was a letter addressed to her sticking out of the door to her apartment, a nine page love letter telling Rachel about what a great life they could have together if she would just give him a chance, and oh by the way of course he knew where she lived, he'd always know where she was. She tore up the note and threw it down the toilet and sat on the sink and cried silently while the pages were washed away. Even as she did it she knew she was getting rid of evidence, and she couldn't quite bring herself to care. She just wanted the words gone.
(she should call Finn, or her dads. she could even tell . someone had to know what was going on.)
Wednesday there was a dozen roses on her seat in vocal class, and Kyle was watching her as she picked them up, watching her as she cut her hands on the thorns that had been left on, watching her as she tried very hard not to cry.
And then Thursday…oh, she almost broke on Thursday, when she had gotten back to the apartment after a Kyle-free day and Kurt was there doing Skyping Blaine and laughing and he'd waved a hand at her and said, "Rachel, I'm not a messanger, okay? Tell that crazy stalker to stop giving me letters for you."
The letter he was referring to was on the table, and RACHEL was printed on it in Kyle's peculiar block letters, and while Kurt told Blaine about New York pizza and Blaine looked at him like he'd hung the moon, Rachel opened the envelope and took out the newest letter. It was short, only a few lines:
Rachel – if you won't respond maybe he will. I know where both of you live. I know when he's alone. I know how to make him scream. When he's gone there will be no one there for you but me.
Rachel read the letter and put a hand over her mouth. Blaine, who could see her from the computer, asked, "you alright? Rachel? Are you okay?"
Which made Kurt turn around, "What was in the letter? An apology I hope."
"You didn't read it?"
"Unlike some people," Kurt said, already turning back to Blaine, "I was raised to be polite."
Rachel went into the bathroom and turned on the shower so the boys wouldn't hear her be sick.
She had to tell Kurt, and Finn. She had to tell the police. Kyle had been creepy before now, maybe a little attached, a little possessive, and he'd watched her and followed her and all right she'll admit it he stalked her. But he hadn't threatened violence before, now, not overtly, not really.
I know how to make him scream.
If she told the police and everyone her dads would make her leave the city, and then what was probably an empty threat would mean the end of everything.
But if it wasn't an empty threat – and Kyle seemed to have been building up to this – Rachel would die if something happened to Kurt that she could have stopped. And Finn would never be able to look at her again. And that would mean the end of everything.
It was Friday morning in May, and she got up to make coffee, because this kind of news should be broken over coffee. She stared out the window as the sun came up in the strange staggered way, with the irregular shadows of skyscrapers to block it in places, and waited for Kurt to wake up. It wasn't until she'd drained her cup that she caught sight of the note on the counter:
Rachel – Blaine got into NYADA! Was up all night talking to him so went out to get those crumb cakes you wanted from 10th street. I'll probably be back before you read this. Isn't it a lovely morning? –Kurt
Rachel ran her fingers over the words. It was Kurt's easy cursive, beautiful from far away but a real mess up close. She could feel his excitement through the words, and even smiled a bit on the word "lovely." It's amazing that someone living in such close quarters to her drama would think this day was lovely. But of course, the fact that he was in that frame of mind was entirely Rachel's fault.
She sent Kurt a text: I'M UP. WHERE'S THE CRUMB BUNS? I NEED TO TALK TO YOU.
Picking up her coffee again, she tried to concentrate on making another pot for Kurt and burned it. She was about to put on another one when the door opened and she turned to say good morning. And went completely still.
Kurt was standing there, white bag from her favorite bakery in hand. But Kyle was there too, and he had a gun resting against Kurt's forehead.
"Kurt!" Rachel nearly screamed. It was a reflex, and she put her hands over her mouth when Kyle pressed the gun into Kurt's temple, making her friend wince.
"Rachel," he said lightly, "I feel like there's something you weren't telling me about Kyle. Care to fill me in?"
"You didn't tell him?" Kyle asked, but it didn't really sound like a question. His voice was without inflection, as monotone as a robot.
"I – I was going to tell him this morning. I was scared," she didn't take her eyes off Kurt, "I'm so sorry. I didn't know he'd – how'd he find you?"
"He was waiting at the bottom of the stairs," Kurt said, and Rachel almost sobbed at how he tried to sound like he wasn't scared, but of course he couldn't hide the trembling. His whole body vibrated, he was shaking so hard. "You really know how to pick 'em, Rach."
"Shut your mouth," Kyle said in that same inflectionless voice. He hit Kurt with his gun, a blow right to the head, and Kurt crumpled.
"Don't! Please don't hurt him! He didn't do anything!" Rachel moved towards Kurt, a few hurried steps, but Kyle still had a gun to his head, and there was that ominous click like in the movies.
"Any closer and he's dead."
"Get up," Kyle said, as if he was inquiring about the weather. Kurt held his head, and a drop of blood leaked through his fingers onto the throw rug. He didn't move. "Get up!" Kyle didn't change his tone the second time, just punctuated his command to a kick in the ribs. Kurt yelped, pitching forward even as he scrambled sluggishly to his feet.
"Please please please," Rachel didn't remember when she started to say the word, but it was like she couldn't stop, "Please don't….he didn't do anything! He didn't know! Don't hurt him!"
Kyle turned, seeming to see her for the first time, "this isn't about him. It's about you and me. I gave you lots of things to make you want to be with me and you never replied. Do you want to be with me?"
"Wh—yes! Of course I want to be with you Kyle! We had such a good time together, and you're such a nice guy. Who wouldn't want to be with you?" Her performance would have been better if she hadn't sobbed every word. She was staring at Kurt's face, at his eyes unable to really focus, at the blood streaming down one cheek.
"You don't sound like you mean it." It would have been less scary if Kyle yelled. The inflectionless tone was terrifying. Emotions show your vulnerability. How do you find the weak spots in a machine?
Before Rachel could find an answer Kyle turned and in one fluid motion punched Kurt in the face and kicked him in the stomach. When he fell to the ground he kicked him again. And again. And again.
"I never sound like I mean love when I talk!" Rachel found herself shouting over Kurt's screams of pain. She was crying so hard she was surprised she could talk. Kurt, oh Kurt, who had called it a lovely morning in his letter. She'd been the one to put him in this position. "Fi—everyone always tells me that. Will you believe me if I sing my love?"
"I like it when you sing," Kyle said, and the words went up at the end. Hopeful. Happy. Emotion.
Kyle dragged a chair over so he could sit with the gun on Kurt's temple and listen to Rachel sing. Rachel forced herself to stare into Kyle's eyes, so that he would believe her but mostly so that she wasn't looking at Kurt, who was shaking, whimpering.
For a bizarre moment Rachel couldn't think of anything but Kurt, crying as he sang "I Wanna Hold Your Hand," and then Blaine, crying as he sang "Teenage Dream." She almost sang that, the first words nearly out of her mouth before she stopped herself. "Teenage Dream" was Kurt and Blaine's song, their relationship in a couple of verses and a chorus. She wouldn't taint it with this memory.
So instead she started in the middle of a song, "Near…Far…Wherever you are…"
"Titanic," Kyle murmured, and there was definitely warmth in his voice, "It's our song, Rachel. Our movie."
There was no way out of this. She would stop singing and he would get mad and kill Kurt and then – kill her? Steal her away? He was big, nearly as big as Finn, and he didn't have his glasses on now. Somehow that made him look very, very strong.
By the time she got to the end she was slowing the words down so much even Kyle, in his insanity, had to notice. She was hoping for something in a tv show, where the police come or her old boyfriend shows up or the dog from downstairs leaps in unexpectedly. But she'd told no one, and no one would suspect they were in danger. Maybe no one would even notice them missing until tomorrow, or even Monday. She could die here. It would be just that simple.
"So beautiful," Rachel realized Kyle had tears in his eyes when he said these words, and she wanted to be sick. "My beautiful girl."
That's when Kurt's arm shot out and grabbed the gun that was pointing at his head. He scrambled out of the way before Rachel even knew what was happening.
"You stupid faggot!" Now the emotion was there. Kyle lunged for Kurt, who scurried away, looking quickly between the gun and Rachel.
"Call the police!" He shouted, fumbling with the weapon as Kyle ran at him again, screaming abuses.
Rachel grabbed the phone behind her just as the gun went off.
"We had a real stalker," Kurt said, and laughed a little.
Burt shook his head, "this is no laughing matter." But Kurt just laughed and eventually Rachel started laughing too, and Blaine, who was sitting in Kurt's hospital bed and charming the nurses to let him stay there. Even Finn laughed, though he'd been looking murderous all afternoon.
"Technically," Rachel said after five minutes of laughing so hard her stomach hurt, "I had a stalker. You just intercepted him."
"I have the wounds," Kurt said, waving a hand dismissively. "No one will ever believe anything this interesting could have happened to you. You don't have one scratch."
"Maybe I can use this to write a play…" Rachel said thoughtfully. When Finn nudged her shoulder and she caught sight of Burt's stricken face she said, quickly, "Anyway Kurt, you wouldn't have a scratch either if you didn't have to be all heroic."
"He can't help himself," Blaine said, twining his fingers with Kurt's in a way that made Finn fake gagging noises, "he's always so courageous."
Kurt pushed Blaine with his shoulder, but didn't seem to mind their hands staying firmly together. "Thanks for teaching me that fight club stuff. I wouldn't have been able to do it without you."
Blaine kissed him, and Finn really got into the fake gagging act.
"Maybe we can lay off the courage a little?" Burt said in a strangled tone. "If there's guns involved? Can we agree on that much?"
"I don't think we're going to get a psycho again, dad," Kurt said, looking a little dizzy (which had a little to do with the concussion and a lot to do with Mr. Teenage Dream's kissing abilities.) "I think you're only allotted one stalker her lifetime. And that one's going to jail with my bullet in his arm."
"I think they took the bullet out," Finn put in.
"I was being poetic, thanks Finn."
Rachel leaned against him and let him rub his hand over her hair. She'd shown the police the letter Kyle had given to her through Kurt, and they promised her he wouldn't be out of jail anytime soon. Somehow Finn didn't hate her, and Kurt forgave her, and Blaine hugged her, and Burt gave her a kiss on the top of the head, and her dads were on their way, and everything seemed almost like it was going to be okay.
(except for Kurt's injuries: a cracked rib and bruised kidney, a concussion and laceration to the scalp and split lip; except for Rachel's nightmares, her new avoidance of men, especially ones who liked her singing; except for the fact that they didn't trust anyone anymore, not really.
it seems like the bad guys always win, in the end.)
thanks to "lady luna riddle" for suggesting the story (and having a pretty sweet pen name). if you want to see your favorite character put into a good ol' h/c situation, drop us a line (or you can just tell us how you liked the story. or didn't like it. we're not picky.)