Disclaimer: Not mine. No money. No affiliation.
It's an utter nightmare. Like, of all the things that Puckerman could do, disappearing off the face of the planet right before Regionals is the most hellish thing he could do. It's been two weeks, everyone is convinced he just took off, because the truck that he loves is gone and some of his belonging too and his mother is livid but it's just so Puck that no one is really too surprised.
Everyone in Glee is just as pissed as his mother, because teaching Jackson Davies from the football team how to dance is almost as bad as teaching Finn. Almost. And they'd sort of gotten used to just how naturally capable Puck had become. Jackson does not have a rhythmic bone in his body, but he has the same pitch as Puck and Rachel is working twice as long to make sure he hits all the notes perfectly and can fill Noah's musical shoes. She's already swore up and down that if she gets her hands on Noah she's going to skin him alive.
Most of the time, the Gleeks are late in leaving the school, between practice, training Jackson and working on their set list, things are almost impossibly busy. Kurt's crossing the car park with Tina and Mercedes after yet another painfully long day. None of them are paying too much attention, Tina and Mercedes break right while Kurt carries on to his Navigator, shouting their farewells across the lot when the screech catches their attention too late. The white panel van pulls up between them, blocking each other from view and Kurt feels his heart stop. This is like movies; this doesn't happen in real life, not to him, not in Lima. Hands grab at him and Kurt can barely get out a scream before he's pulled into the van and it's peeling out of the parking lot and away.
"Please no, oh God, no," he's actually terrified, he's in the back of a van with two men, one driving and one just sitting there, smiling at him, this is not how things are meant to be, he can't believe this is real, it can't be real. "Please, I don't- I haven't- Please." He doesn't even know what he's asking; he just keeps repeating the word over and over again. They don't say anything to him, just keep driving and Kurt has no idea where they're going, only that his breathing is panicky and quick and his cheeks are hideously blotchy thanks to the tears rolling down his face.
When the van stops, he starts to hyperventilate. "Oh, don't worry, sweetheart," the man says it like he knows Kurt, has this stupid affection in his voice and Kurt blanches because he can only imagine what that means for him, "we're not going to hurt you, we'd never hurt you." He's taken from the van, and a quick look around tells him they're still in Lima, that they're nearby a neighbourhood he recognises. He can get through this, he just needs to do what they say and hopefully escape and-
Sweet Lady Gaga and Beyonce.
The front room of the house they lead him into is literally wallpapered with pictures. Of him! What's even scarier is that they aren't all recent, they aren't all from the last few days or weeks or whatever. There are some that span as far back as middle school. He is stunned speechless at the site, it's like a sick, twisted shrine. "You see? We'd never do anything that would hurt you; we've been trying to take care of you." One of them pets at his hair, and Kurt tries to suppress the shudder. "We know it's not easy, not here." They share a look and Kurt watches them link hands and smile at one another. "But you're so brave and strong, Kurt." They know his name, oh God they know his name. "And we're so proud of you."
He realises then that this is not as simple as abduction. They think they're like his friends or something, they think they're watching out for him. They are fucking insane. Survival may have just become more possible. "Thank you." He manages to keep it sounding normal, a little meek for his liking, but it's an acting exercise. He'll act like he's not completely repulsed and freaked out and hopefully be able to escape. They share another smile and Kurt feels his insides twist.
"We're sorry we frightened you," a hand is placed on his shoulder and Kurt feels his skin crawl at the touch, and Alexander McQueen or not, this shirt is being burned when he gets the chance. "But we have a gift for you." Their smiles only get wider, this look in both of their eyes that makes him look towards the door as he's being led further into the house, into the kitchen and to a door. "We've been waiting for it to be ready, we think it is now." The door is opened to reveal stairs and Kurt has to steel himself just to follow the first man down, his teeth clenching slightly with every step.
"It took some working, and it's not exactly in the best presentation, but when needs must." The first man stands at the bottom of the stairs, looking towards the middle of the basement and Kurt follows the direction himself and gasps. "Do you like it?" He's horrified, utterly and totally horrified.
Tied to a beam in the middle of the basement, in nothing but the jeans that Kurt last saw him in two weeks ago, covered in bruises and cuts and God only knew what else, was Noah Puckerman, head bowed down, on his knees and just so tragically broken. Kurt took a tentative step towards him, stopping to look at the men warily until they nodded with smiles and then he walked over. Noah flinched slightly as Kurt reached out, but instantly stilled himself, although Kurt could see his jaw clench. "Noah," Kurt uses a finger to tip Noah's head upwards, his heart almost breaking at the dead look in his eyes as he just stared forwards.
"Well, do you like it?" There's this hint of something in the voice, and Kurt turns towards them, seeing some hint of warning on their faces and he doesn't want to find out what that might mean. For Noah's sake.
"Yes, yes, I love it." The grins are back, both of them looking pleased with each other before they turn back to him.
"We'll just give you a minute to enjoy it." They seriously mean it, it's like they think he wants to keep Noah, like they just gave him a pet, like -God, like this is some twisted little family scenario. They go back upstairs, but a look around tells Kurt that there's no other way out, and then he regrets looking around, because the place is littered with disturbing objects and blood stained rags and it doesn't take him long to realise where the blood came from.
"Oh, Noah." Kurt's hand runs up the side of Noah's face, the jock leaning forward to rest his forehead against Kurt's stomach.
"'m sorry, 'm so, so sorry. Won't do it anymore, won't say anything, promise. 'm sorry." Kurt has to shush him, because it's painful just to hear, the broken quality in the usually rough voice and Kurt can't stand it.
"It's okay, it's okay," his fingers stroke down the back of the mohawk, until they come away sticky with blood and Kurt bites back a sob for the boy in front of him. "It'll all be okay Noah, I promise." Kurt has no idea how he's meant to make it okay, but he really hopes that it can be, that it can be fixed. But the two men are clearly delusional, dangerous, psychotic men, and Noah desperately needs medical attention and Kurt has no idea how he's supposed to do this.
He has to be strong, he has to stay calm and in control, he has to -he has to be badass. Badass and a little crazy like them, he needs to play along. He needs to channel Puck. When they start to come down the stairs again, Kurt offers a silent apology to Noah before he pulls his hair, tugging the boys head back. Noah gasps at the action, his body coiling with tension and Kurt hates that scared look in his already partially dull eyes, but needs must and he has to push through this. He covers Noah's mouth with his own, barely thinking past making it convincing, and he's shocked at just how pliant Noah has become, at the way Noah's head adjusts to better the angle, the lack of protest or fighting, the way he lets Kurt control everything.
After a moment, he pulls back, seeing Noah with his head still tilted and something flashing in his eyes, something not dead, not hollow, something like the life before and Kurt strokes the side of his face again. "Oh, you see, he does like it. You did such a good job teaching it to be obedient." Kurt decides he does not like the way they talk about Noah, the comments, how they objectify him. But he can't let it show, he needs to get them both out of this.
"It's perfect," Kurt smiles at them, then down at Noah, noticing this pinched sort of look on his face and Kurt just has to try and get the message across, has to try and show Noah that he's going to get them out of there, "everything I ever wanted." Noah sags just a little, his head leaning into Kurt's hands and all it does is make Kurt more and more aware of just how not Noah this is. "Can I show it off?" He tries to sound enthusiastic, tries to play it off -if they've been watching him then they'll know he likes to flash things, he likes to show them off, they'll hopefully go for it, he can do this, he knows he can. "Mercedes totally has to see just how perfect this is." The anticipation is almost enough to choke him; he feels the tension coil up until he's sure it's palpable.
"Well, I suppose it has been fairly well behaved." One of them comes over, a hand on Kurt's shoulder to push him to the side just slightly while he grips Noah's jaw in his hand, fingers curling to clench along his jaw and forcing his head upward and back at a severe angle. Kurt bites on the inside of his cheek as he hears Noah's slight hiss. "Do I need to remind you how to behave?" Noah shakes his head quickly and slightly in the tiny amount of give he has in the grip on his chin. "You'll be on your best behaviour?" This time Noah nods, just as quickly, just as adamantly. "Well, I suppose we can give it a try."
Kurt feels like he's holding his breath the entire time. The ropes holding Noah's arms behind his back are released and Kurt can see where they've rubbed through the skin, the bruises don't stop at his neck or shoulders but spread over his ribcage and back, all in varying colours and degrees of severity, including the very worrying bruise on Puck's hip. He stands slowly, frowning slightly as he hunches a little and then the two men just sort of act this this is completely normal, like it's any other day, like this is what they do every day, like they're all just going out to the convenience store or something. Kurt tries to catch Noah's eye, but they are resolutely fixed on the floor and Kurt ends up just grasping Noah's finger tips in his own, leading him up the stairs.
Apparently, they aren't giving Noah a shirt, or shoes, and the ropes are remaining on his wrists. His head stays bowed the entire time they walk, even when they sit in the van and he doesn't once say a word. Kurt is almost bursting with apprehension; they could pull this off, they could do it, Kurt needed to keep his cool a few more minutes and everything would be fine. The journey feels like it takes forever, and Kurt has to answer questions from these two psychopaths like it's nothing unusual, like he genuinely cares, like he's anything like these people. The van stops and Noah tenses beside Kurt and this is itthis is the moment, this is when they can do it.
"Mercedes is going to be so jealous," Mercedes better have already called the police, Mercedes had been have her fabulous diva self ready to save the day, "I can't wait to show her." They smile at him, like proud parents or really twisted psychopaths, and Kurt pulls the door to the van open, catching Noah's fingers to tug him out too and then it's there, Mercedes' house, the Jones house, salvation. Noah doesn't walk all that fast; he's stiff, his feet are bare, he's limping, and he's still not looking up from the ground. Kurt squeezes the tips of his fingers, hoping that Noah realises that they're almost safe, that he's almost safe.
Everything happens in a rush, Mercedes' door jerks open when they're barely half way down the path and Kurt pulls Noah to the side and out of the way while four police men rush towards the van. Kurt and Noah end up on the front lawn of the Jones' house while the commotion kicks up and all the drama occurs. Kurt can hear Mercedes shouting for him, but he doesn't dare leave Noah, just standing up and pulling a once again kneeling Noah close to him. Noah's head rests against Kurt's hip and Kurt completely disregards the blood in Noah's hair to stroke at the strip with a soft, soothing touch. "It's okay, it's all over, you're okay now, it's all over." He stands there, petting Noah and repeating the words until the paramedics come.
Burt doesn't let go of him, not once. Finn and Carole are hovering just as much and Kurt can see all the Glee club in the waiting room through the window of his little exam room. They needed to do it, even though Kurt assured everyone that no one touched him, that he was fine. Eventually, they let him out to join his friends, Tina and Mercedes instantly grabbing him in a tight hug. When they let him go, Kurt catches sight of Mrs Puckerman, just down the hall, crying. "How's Noah?"
They all go quiet, looking contrite -and really, all of them should be, shouldn't they, when Carole clears her throat. "Noah was, Noah was assaulted." Kurt knew that, he'd seen the bruises. "The police had determined that he'd been there, with those men, for two weeks." Noah never ran away, he never ditched town, he never took off, he'd been kidnapped and beaten and abused, and for what? Some twisted sort of gift?
"I still can't believe it." Quinn is leaning into Finn's side, shaken clearly by the news.
"Best believe, White Boy was a mess; bruised to hell, covered in blood. I'm amazed he was standin' as long as he was." And Kurt remembers that, the blood and the bruises and the look in his eyes. How lost Noah was, just this beaten and broken shell, and that alone had chilled Kurt.
There's the noise of clattering, a smash and then the hushed following of "No, no, no, no, please, please no," and Kurt doesn't even stop to think, he's just walking down the hall with purpose, reaching Noah's room and ignoring the nurses attempt to push him out. There's a doctor with a needle, Noah's tangled in wires for an IV and another attached to his chest and his wrists are taped up and the blood is gone from his hair, while he huddles at the top of the bed he's on and the doctor approaches. Various implements litter the floor, a glass broken in the corner and Noah is just whispered a hushed repeat of, "please no, please, please no," Kurt just goes on instinct.
"What are you doing? Can't you see he's freaking out?" It draws attention to him and Kurt crosses over to Noah, noting that the other boy almost relaxes when Kurt places his hand on Noah's arm. What Kurt notices is that Noah immediately calms down, his body leaning towards Kurt's on the bed. The doctor paused just short of Noah's side, needle in hand.
"Young man, I'm afraid you'll have to leave,"
"Indeed he will not." Mrs Puckerman appears behind Kurt, Carole and Burt at the door, "you are terrifying my son and he isn't. Now what the hell is going on?" It's easy to see where Noah's 'badassness' comes from; Ruth Puckerman is all of five foot nothing, petite framed woman with short dark hair, and she is not someone that Kurt would imagine messing with. "Get that needle away from him."
"We need to sedate him."
"Absolutely not, he's still a minor; I say no, get out." Noah is shaking, eyes down on the bed, curled up against the top, shaking and Kurt desperately wants to help, he just doesn't know how. He doesn't see why they'd had to sedate Noah at all, beyond how agitated he was around the needle; he's practically been a docile as a new-born kitten, which is scary all on its own.
The doctor huffs something, before giving the needle to a nurse for disposal, snapping off his latex gloves and storming off, talking about nurses and their station and Kurt sees that Mrs Puckerman is wearing a nurse uniform and -oh, she works here.
"Noah, baby," Mrs Puckerman stands just beside Kurt; she doesn't ask him to move, doesn't push past him, doesn't take his hand away from Noah's arm, just stands calmly beside him, "why the outburst? Come, you need to talk to me, I can't help if you don't talk to me." Kurt realises, belatedly, just how Mrs Puckerman might feel, being angry at Noah this whole time, believing he'd just left, when he'd been held by those deviants and put through hell instead, waiting for someone to find him.
Noah doesn't speak though; he just turns his arm, the one that Kurt's holding, to show the little row of small marks. Injection points. No one bothered to check if he'd been drugged at all before coming at him with needles? There's a look of sheer rage on Mrs Puckerman's face, twenty times as bad as anything Kurt's ever seen, in all the years of bullying or fighting, than anything 'Puck' ever wore. "Right." She turns on her heel to storm away and Noah turns his arm back, curling further in on himself.
"Noah, don't. You'll hurt yourself, come on, stretch your legs out." Kurt is tentative about touching Noah; he doesn't know what these men did, doesn't know where Noah's hurting, two weeks is plenty of time to cause a lot of damage, and from Noah's mental state, they did more than enough damage. But Noah follows Kurt's directing without any fight, his legs untwisting from his chest and his body turning to let them hang off the end of the bed. His feet are bandaged up, the white fabric going further up his left leg, under the hem of the hospital issue pants. Noah sits on the edge of the bed, arms by his side, head bowed down and body tense and Kurt just can't fight it any more.
He hugs Noah. Arms around his neck, face pressed to the side of Noah's head, their bodies brushing at certain points on their chests. Noah doesn't flinch like Kurt thought he might, Noah practically melts into Kurt, curling over and burying his head against Kurt's shoulder. His arms don't move, but the rest of him fits right in to Kurt's body. "Everything is going to be okay, Noah. We're going to be okay." He doesn't really know if that's the truth.
Noah is kept in the hospital overnight, Mrs Puckerman stayed with him to stop him clawing out the IV in his hand every time he spotted it. Kurt stayed until Noah fell asleep and then Burt demanded he come home. Most of the glee kids were spending the night at the Hudson-Hummel home, and the living room was rearranged so that all the sleeping bags would fit. Brittany, Santana and Lauren were the only ones missing. They were spending the night in the hospital waiting room.
Kurt had to listen to all his friends talk about how glad they were he was safe, about how scared they were when Mercedes and Tina told them what happened, how anxious everyone was while they were waiting for news, how happy when Kurt was safe. He sat there, on the sofa, wondering about Noah. The doctors, the ones that Mrs Puckerman got to take on Noah's case instead of the one before whom she gave a very loud verbal beat down to, told them that Noah had been starved, that he'd been beaten and drugged and assaulted. This time, Kurt understood that 'assaulted' was a nice way of saying raped. Noah flinched from every male that got too close to him, except Kurt. Noah barely spoke, except when Kurt asked a question. Noah didn't follow directions, unless they came from Kurt. Carole tried to assure him that it was just because Kurt had been the one to find Noah, the one to save him. That it would work itself out while Noah recovered.
But Kurt kept thinking back to what those men said, how they presented Noah to him like he was a pet, a pet they'd trained somehow to be obedient. That was the word they'd used, wasn't it. How obedient Noah had to be.
"Boo, you okay?" Mercedes nudged his knee with shoulder, watching him carefully, and Kurt was hit once again with just how great his friends were, but why weren't they Noah's friends too?
"Kurt, they're in jail, they aren't getting out. The police caught them red-handed. They'll never touch you again." Finn seemed to be a little over-protective, and a few months ago, a year ago, Kurt would've been so grateful for that. But he couldn't stop thinking that they were all being over-protective towards the wrong person.
"I think you'll find they were arrested based on the mountain of evidence they found at that, that, that house." Rachel is standing by the far couch, hands in tiny little fists, "They couldn't be charged for what they did to Kurt, it was circumstantial, his word against theirs, they let him go. They will be charged and tried and will rot for what they did to Noah." Rachel Berry is at breaking point, and Kurt pulls himself from his place on the couch to cross the room, while the others just stare. Rachel's eyes start to water. "I was mad at him, I was so angry and I said horrible things, and he was hurting, and scared and," Kurt finds himself hugging her close as she starts crying, because Noah and Rachel are the oddest friendship in Glee. Because Puck tormented Berry, and Berry annoyed Puck, but Noah understood Rachel and Rachel saw something in Noah and the whole summer, they'd been practically inseparable when they weren't out on dates.
The guilt comes crashing down like a wave, everyone stopping to just think and consider and lament on just what happened. The cheerful chirp of the phone breaks everyone from their stupor, causing them to stare at it. Carole is sheepish as she picks it up, but that changes quickly, "Ruth, calm down, okay, it's okay. Just, yes, I'll ask. Okay, just," Carole places her hand over the speaker and turns to the room. "Noah is, well, he's not doing well." Kurt's already heading towards the door and Carole has a tight smile as she puts the phone back to her ear, "We'll be there soon, Ruth."
The psychologist calls it forced-dependency.
Kurt doesn't really know what that means beyond the fact that Noah needs him. Noah is agitated and restless unless Kurt is there, he's sullen and unresponsive without Kurt, he's prone to panic or outbursts of misdirected anger unless Kurt is there to calm him. And clearly it's taking a toll on everyone. Kurt feels it's the only way he can help, Noah is getting more and more withdrawn, Carole is worried for both of them and Ruth is beside herself that she can't do anything for her son. She'd thought Sarah might've been able to get a response from Noah; she's small, she's innocent, she's his little sister. Sarah sat on the bed and talked at length for an hour and Noah just stared at a point in the bed beside her knee. When Sarah got up to hug him and tell him she missed him and loved him, he tensed.
Whatever those men did, Noah is only responsive to Kurt. Which poses a problem.
The doctors want to keep Noah in the hospital, to move him to the psychiatric ward for care and treatment. Ruth flat out refuses. Her son isn't crazy, he's not mentally ill. But realistically, they can't discharge him until he shows improvement -and staring at the wall instead of the floor isn't improvement. Kurt makes a last ditch effort the day before the doctors plan to do another evaluation. "Noah, I need you to do something for me," Noah raises his eyes to catch Kurt's gaze, "I need you to answer the questions tomorrow, okay? It's really important Noah, you have to try." Kurt's taken a liking to the mohawk, it's like a target or something, just where his fingers can lightly stroke over Noah's head to calm him. Kurt's the only one that Noah lets touch him. "Can you do that? For me?"
Noah nods his head slightly, and Kurt sighs a little, "You need to say it, Noah. Come on, you need to start talking."
"Okay." Kurt gives him a smile, a careful but proud smile and Noah leans in against the hand petting him. "'ll be good, promise." Its things like that, those words or that tone, they make Kurt's gut clench and his chest hurt. He doesn't comment, just carries on petting Noah's hair until he has to leave, and every time that happened, he hates the look that Noah gets in his eyes as he curls up on the bed as Kurt leaves the room.
Mrs Puckerman shows up at their house the following morning, right before school. Carole and Ruth talk for a while before Kurt comes downstairs and Kurt is pulled into a strong hug. "Thank you, whatever you said or did, thank you." Noah did fine in the evaluation, he was responsive and coherent and showed signs of improving and was allowed to be discharged. Ruth was taking a leave of absence to help Noah recover.
Everyone at school knew. Of course they know, Lima was a town of gossips, but no one really knows how to deal with the information. It's frightening, to know that two people as disturbed as that lived in their town, even more so that they would do such a thing. And for it to be Puck, everyone is a little bit sketchy about safety now; Kurt notices the way that girls travel in packs of three and four, how more and more people are carpooling rather than driving by themselves, how no one is really going out too late in the day. None of the clubs ran too late now, even Coach Sylvester stopped holding the Cheerio's back later than five -of course that meant they usually had an extra hour of practice before school, but it was something.
Kurt didn't bother joining Finn and Rachel in the car pool that day, he took the Navigator, assured everyone that he knew what he was doing, and right after school he showed up on the Puckerman doorstep, somewhat anxious but eager. Mrs Puckerman opened the door with a sad and tired expression, and Kurt felt his stomach lurch. "What's wrong? Is he okay? What's happened?" Ruth explains that maybe her elation that Noah was getting better was premature, that he'd regressed again when they got him home, that he had even moved once from when she brought him home; not to eat, not to use the bathroom, not to do anything. She just couldn't get through to him. Maybe, and Kurt saw that it was killing her too, maybe he should be admitted to the mental ward at the hospital. "Let me try."
Kurt left his bag at the bottom of the stairs and went up to Noah's room. He'd never been to the Puckerman house before, but it was fairly clear whose room was whose -Sarah's door had a bright pink ballerina on the door with her name in blocks under her, Noah had a warning sign on the door and then, in what had to be Sarah's handwriting on a white sheet of paper, a sign that stated 'contaminated area: boy germs' under it. Kurt managed the small smile as he pushed the door open and stepped inside. He had expected Noah to be curled on the bed, like he had been any time Kurt had seen him in the hospital. Instead, Noah was pressed against the wall, legs drawn up to his chest and his head pressed to his knees. This was not the boy that Kurt knew.
Hesitantly, Kurt crossed the room, kneeling in front of Noah and placing a hand on one of Noah's hands carefully -some of his fingers were taped, his wrists still bandaged, bruises still stark spreading down his wrists to his arms. At Kurt's touch, Noah looked up, his eyes widening slightly and the smallest smile starting on his lips, "Hi." Kurt felt suddenly shy, especially under that gaze, because it was just far too close to something Kurt couldn't think about. "Your mom said you haven't been eating. Why not?"
"'m not hungry." It was starting to get easier to coax words out of Noah, when Kurt worded things as questions; it was easier to get a response.
"Noah, you need to eat, you'll make yourself sick if you don't, then they'll need to put you back into the hospital and on a drip, and you don't want that, do you?" Noah shook his head and Kurt moved to stand up. "Why don't you and I go downstairs and have something to eat. Your mom is worried."
It becomes his routine for the rest of the week, stopping over at the Puckerman house for a few hours after school, helping Ruth take care of Noah, Kurt feels like he's actually doing something. But it only seems to cause more and more withdrawal from Noah after the third day. Ruth takes Noah and Sarah to see their Nana Connie on the Saturday and Kurt sits around wondering how Noah's doing. It isn't until after nine when Kurt goes downstairs that he hears the voices and quiet sobbing.
"I just don't know what to do, I can't help him. He's not letting me in." It's Ruth, and she's crying, and Kurt wants to go in, but he stops on the stairs, sitting just out of the line of vision, but listening carefully.
"We've talked about it, you know we don't mind. It might help him."
"Carole, I can't burden you with this."
"It's not a burden; it'd be fine, really."
"We've already talked about it, the basement here is a good size, we could convert it easily." His Dad is with Carole and Ruth and Kurt finds himself hoping that they're talking about what he hopes they're talking about.
"I just don't know if it would help. What if it just makes him more dependent? What if it just gets worse?" He can practically hear the frustration in Ruth's voice; that she wants to help, but she's unable to really do anything to help herself. "If I ever get my hands on those mamzers," Kurt doesn't understand the term, but he can imagine what it means.
"Ruth, sweetie, I know it's difficult, but Kurt has been so good with him, he just wants to help. Noah seems to let him." It's not that Noah lets Kurt help, but he doesn't know how to explain to his family that those twisted, disgusting, monsters thought that breaking Noah to present him to Kurt as a gift was something that Kurt would want, was something that he would like.
Kurt is jerked from his thoughts when Finn takes a seat beside him. Sighing slightly as they both huddle on the steps and eavesdrop on the adults. "They talking about Puck?" Kurt just nods, biting his lip. "Mom wants Puck to come stay with us for a while." Kurt nods again. "Burt seems okay with it."
"Are you?" Kurt understands that Finn and Noah have had their ups and downs; Noah slept with Quinn and got her pregnant, then lied about it, then he kissed Rachel and Finn and Rachel broke up, then he became friends with Rachel and drove Finn a little crazy, then they all sort of had to hang out during the summer because Noah was Rachel's best friend and she was dating Finn again. Kurt isn't sure how the latest Finchel break up really happened, but he's pretty sure that Noah and Quinn were both in the middle of it again -although this time he thinks it was because Noah and Quinn tried dating and Finn got jealous and Rachel broke up with him. And Kurt hopes that maybe Finn is able to see now that Noah isn't the only one in all these situations, so blaming him and him alone -while he's dating the girl who tried to pass off her baby as his- won't help anyone.
"I think so."
It takes until Monday to redecorate the basement; most of Kurt's old furniture is still in the attic, so they pull most of that down to set the place up. It's not the same as Kurt's old room, but it's large enough that two people can live their easily. Kurt decides to do a little research on the subject but comes up sorely lacking. He tries to find information of 'forced dependency' but comes up blank, Stockholm Syndrome doesn't cover the right bases and victimisation is just too vague. In a last ditch attempt, he does a search for 'submissiveness' and his given a whole lot of information on D/s relationships that he could really do without ever seeing.
It takes him an hour to work up the courage to read through some of the articles, just to see if any of it helps. It's mildly disturbing just how many traits Noah seems to demonstrate, his obedience to Kurt almost making the boy feel a little sick. None of it really tells Kurt how he can helpNoah out of this mind set though, which is what he's desperately hoping he can do.
Ruth brings Noah over on Monday after school; he has one bag and his guitar. That's in. Ruth and Sarah stay for dinner before Kurt pulls Noah downstairs to let him get used to the place, Sarah is a little emotional about saying goodbye to her big brother but everyone assures her that she'll see him regularly.
"Do you like it?" Noah nods his head, not even looking around. "I figured we'd bring down Finn's xBox later, he's going to keep the Playstation so the xBox is as good as ours." Noah just nods again and Kurt sighs. "It's a big change, I know, but we're going to get through this." Kurt places Noah's guitar in the corner by his bed, careful with the case because he knows it's Noah's prized possession. "Now, we'll unpack your clothes, and get you set up, and go from there."
Kurt is not religious. Kurt does not believe in a 'higher power' or God. Kurt is not inclined to believe in spirituality.
But over the course of the follow three days he finds himself asking something for strength.
The first time it happens is when Puck, sitting on the floor working on the History notes that had been sent home for him to catch up on, turns to Kurt with a somewhat pained expression and sincerely asks, "Can- can I got to the bathroom?" Kurt is stunned for a moment, nodding dumbly as Puck heads upstairs to the shower room that was just past the kitchen and Kurt was quietly hating those people all over again.
It took over an hour to convince Noah that he didn't have to ask for permission; not to use the bathroom, not to get anything to eat or drink, not to answer a question, not to accept an invitation somewhere. "Is that why you didn't go to Mike's for game night?" Finn had invited Noah, said that Mike would be thrilled if he came, the guys were all going, Sam and Artie and Finn would be there. Noah had just shook his head. "You weren't going so," Kurt was still struggling to get the message through to Noah that he didn't have to miss out on things he liked, not just because Kurt didn't like them. That was still something he was working on.
The biggest blow out, and possibly the turning point that Kurt had been hoping for, came when Brittany hosted a party. Noah had already said to Britt that he didn't want to go, she'd been understanding and -as she was probably the only person beside Kurt who could touch Noah without him flinching like he'd been burnt- gave him a kiss on the cheek. But Kurt had gotten away from himself and talked and talked about the party and didn't even notice that Noah was sitting there, dour faced, with his jacket on waiting the entire time it took Kurt to get ready. "I thought you said you didn't want to go."
"I don't want to go."
"So why are you going?"
"Shouldn't I go?" Conversations seemed to constantly go round and round between them and sometimes Kurt just could not figure out where Noah's head was at with his reasoning. Comments just made less and less sense to Kurt.
"You don't want to go, so no. You shouldn't." Kurt mood was taking a slight turn, "Sweet Gaga, Noah, if you don't want to do something there's nothing that says you have to do it."
"So," Noah frowns a little looking away from Kurt, "what should I do?"
"Whatever, it doesn't matter." Kurt grabbed his jacket, hearing the honk of Mike's car out front, "Just sit there all night for all I care."
It sort of put a dampener on his whole night; Brittany had gone all out for the party, which was awesome, but Kurt just felt this frustration, annoyance and niggling guilt all night. It wasn't until much later, a good few hours later, that Tina brought up Noah. "Hey, where's Puck? Didn't he come?"
"He told Britt earlier he didn't want to. This many people right now, it's probably a bit much for him." Mike rationalised, and Kurt understood that, he did. If Noah had come he'd have been miserable the whole night.
"Aw, Kurt, you should've got him to come."
"Yeah, White Boy does pretty much anything you say." Mercedes makes a bit of a joke of it, but Kurt feels like he's just been punched in the gut. Just sit there all night rings in his head and Kurt needs to get home now because he feels the dread just knock any fun right out of him. One of Rachel and Brittany's dance class friends drops him off and Kurt rushes up to the door, Carole and his Dad had gone out to the movies and Finn had left before Kurt and-
Sitting exactly where Kurt left him, still in his jacket, Noah just glances up when Kurt comes down the stairs. "Oh, Noah."
"I am really, really trying to figure this out, but I just can't work out what you want." Kurt just takes the last few steps into their shared room, shrugging off his jacket and moving to pull Noah out of his. "I mean, I thought I figured it out, but then I didn't, and now it's gone back and it just doesn't make sense."
"Noah, it's not about what I want," Kurt ran his hand over Noah's face, much like he had the day they found him, and really, had that only been nine weeks ago? "It's about you. What you want, what you need."
"But I'm supposed to do what you want."
"No, you're not; you're really, really not." Kurt wishes there was a way to just undo everything that they did to him, to have the old Noah back, even if he was rude and vulgar and emotionally stunted. It would be better than this meek, confusing shell of a boy in front of him.
"But you said- I thought that-" Noah sighs, shaking his head slightly and looking down.
"You said, back there, you said that," Noah always picks at his fingers when he mentions what happened. Carole and Ruth had gotten him to talk to a therapist about what happened -really, Kurt had gotten him to agree to it and pleaded with him to work with the woman to help him. His wrists were scarring and he was mostly healed physically, but he constantly picked at his fingers, sometimes until they bled, when that placewas mentioned. "I thought this was what you wanted."
Suddenly Kurt remembered what he'd said, when he was trying to keep him and Noah alive, when he was trying to play the part to get them out safely. "Noah," his hands cupped Noah's face to get him to look up, "what they did to you is not what I want. I want you healthy, I want you happy. Whatever it takes. We're going to work through this. I want you to think for yourself again." Noah frowns slightly, but gives a small nod.
He decides he wants to go back to school on Monday.
Kurt is a little apprehensive about it. Does Noah know how much the student body already knows about his ordeal? Is he really prepared for that many people and all those whisperings? Will it be too much and set him back on the recovery? Would people say things? What if the jocks tried something? Was Noah even ready for this or was he just trying to prove something?
But Noah was pretty firm in his decision, he rode in with Kurt in the morning, mostly silent but not hunched over or head bowed, he was far more alert than Kurt could remember him being in a long time, but still really quiet. "You sure about this?" Kurt didn't want to colour Noah's judgement by saying he thought it was a bad idea, in case Noah slipped back to thinking that Kurt was the one to make the choices.
Surprisingly, the day went well. Noah shared a lot of classes with Finn, Rachel or Artie. There was one he had with Brittany and it was strangely fascinating hearing how Brittany protected Noah from prying eyes and enquiring, nosy busybodies. No one makes comment, the teachers are pleased with Noah's progress, everyone is fine. Kurt honestly thinks he was just overreacting to the whole idea of it all. Nothing is wrong until Thursday, and even then, Kurt doesn't know what the hell happened until he gets home. The rumours fly around the school faster than a forest fire though; Azimio and Puck got in a fight, Azimio is on route to the hospital and Puck is going to jail, Azimio made comment about something and Puck broke his wrist or nose or arm or ribs or legs. No one has a solid story, not even Finn.
Kurt gets home and just rushes downstairs, finding Noah pacing back and forth in the room. "What the hell were you thinking?" Noah flinched at Kurt's voice and stopped dead in the middle of the floor. "Getting into fights, getting suspended or expelled and going back to juvie is not going to help you right now. I can't believe you would be so stupid." Noah's head lowered and Kurt instantly kicked himself. "God, no, shit." Kurt almost never swore. He crossed the room to reach Noah and was even further annoyed with himself when Noah slipped to his knees -it had taken more than a week to get him to stop doing that. "No, hey, Noah, look at me." He knows he won't be able to get Noah to stand up until after he's explained why he got mad, knows that Noah thinks he's angry at him when it's not the case. "I was worried that this would happen," Kurt has to cup Noah's face and tilt his head back, so very reminiscent of that day, "because I don't want you getting hurt anymore, God, Noah, I just want it all to stop hurting."
"You don't know what he said, he deserved it." Whatever it was, it would never be worth Noah going back to juvie, he had to realise that. "I don't think Beiste'll do anything though," Kurt couldn't figure out how she couldn't not if what people were telling the truth about the ambulance, "she heard him too." Kurt just sighed, stroking his fingers back through Noah's mohawk, somehow, it managed to calm the both of them, and Kurt was able to focus on homework and dinner and not worrying about Noah going to juvie.
True enough, Beiste either doesn't report the incident, or she fights on Noah's side, because nothing happens to Noah beyond everyone whispering that Puck was still the same Puck. It totally worked in his favour. People weren't afraid of Puck the way they used to be, mostly because he answered to Noah more often than not rather than growling at anyone who used his name, he was attending his classes, handing in homework, generally less of a trouble maker. Azimio actually apologised -broken nose and all- for the comment he made, saying he was out of line and it wouldn't happen again. Kurt was absolutely floored, because the massive footballer had actually turned and apologised to Kurt for all the things he'd said in the past.
It was three months after Noah had moved into the Hudson-Hummel home when he actually picked up his guitar again. A week after that he spent the whole night upstairs in Finn's room, being very noisy while having a video game marathon. Rather than complain about the noise, Carole stood at the bottom of the stairs and smiled. "So, I kinda talked to my Ma, and Carole, and your Dad. And if you're cool with it, I'm sort of staying here. Like, indefinitely or whatever." Kurt had just nodded -because he wasn't overly fussed about his space then -they'd turned his upstairs room into a rather massive closet and really, who said no to keeping that. Granted Carole and Noah had space in there too, but they barely took up any room at all.
Five months later, Noah was back on the football team, they'd just won the game that would send them into the starting round of the Championship again and everyone was running on adrenaline. They all attended a party at Rachel's house, not at all like the last one but just as fun filled; this time with a natural high rather than an alcoholic one. Noah spent most of the party with Mike and Tina and Brittany, his arm around Brittany's waist as she hugged his neck, playing a game of beer pong with strawberry milkshake instead of beer. Kurt was glad that Noah was having fun, yes, that he was relaxed around their friends and almost his old self again. But he felt strange about the whole Brittany aspect and he was angry with himself for even considering being remotely jealous about the perky blonde.
"You looked like you had fun tonight." They were all starting to come down from the high when they made it home, Noah's movements becoming more lethargic as he kicked off his shoes and pulled off his shirt to stand in his muscle shirt and jeans. "You could've gone home with Britt you know," Kurt tries to keep it casual, "it wouldn't have been a problem." Noah, however, frowned.
"Doesn't work like that." Now Kurt was the one frowning. "We're not meant to like, sleep with our picks or whatever, it's just like, for support or something."
"The spirit pick. Britt got me in the raffle," ooh, see, Kurt hadn't been on the cheerleading team for long enough for them to have one of those. But things make a little more sense. "What, did you think I was hooking up with her?" And really, Kurt should know better, it's not been that long, and while Noah has been making progress with his therapist, it's probably too soon for him to feel any inclination towards sex at all. Noah just shook his head and smiled a little.
"Oh, don't be so smug, it's not like you haven't before." Kurt doesn't like the way Noah walks over to him, doesn't like the way he makes the hesitant reach to hold to Kurt's hip, doesn't like the tentative tilt of his head until their lips meet. Kurt is absolutely lying to himself. They kiss softly, so softly that it's almost not there, and Kurt is stunned. It doesn't deepen beyond the press of lips to lips, but Kurt is fairly certain it's perfect.
When Noah takes the step back, licking his lips slowly, he's watching Kurt intently. "Noah," Kurt's fingers go to his mouth -honestly he thought that was just severe overplay in the media, but his mouth is actually tingling.
"Don't over think shit, okay." Noah steps back towards Kurt, both his hands sliding over Kurt's hips, "Just go with it, yeah?" Really, Kurt knows he should stop it, he should ask Noah what he thinks he's doing, why he's doing, if it's because of what happened, if he's sure he feels comfortable, what brought it on. Instead he just nods as he slides his hands up Noah's impressive chest and Noah leans the distance to kiss him again and this time he does deepen it, tongue flicking at Kurt's bottom lip before Kurt opens up to Noah and then he groans and almost sags against Noah. He doesn't care why, it's amazing, it's amazing and it's perfect and it's what he really, really wants.
And if Noah really wants it too, he shouldn't say no.