A/N: Still on hiatus from Solar Winds, but sometimes, you just have to write what you are inspired to write. This was written as a fill for the following prompt on the Glee Angst Meme: "Rory sings "The Dark I Know Well" (from Spring Awakening) either in Glee, or alone on stage without realizing anyone's watching him." It's my first angst meme prompt fill, written primarily because I love Rory like burning. I recommend finding the song on youtube and giving it a listen, as I don't have all the lyrics included in the story.
WARNING: 3x06 spoilers, mentions of rape, allusions to pedophilia (nothing explicit).
In retrospect, it's totally Finn's own fault.
He was the one who told Rory to sing his feelings out in the auditorium.
"Dude, it's weird," Finn had said at lunch, in between bites of hot dog. "There's, like, never anyone there after school besides us. So you can totally just barge in and sing your heart out to this giant room. It feels awesome."
"Really?" Rory asked, looking at him with eyes that were, like, super blue, and super sad. He'd seemed down all day, and Finn wanted his new Best Irish Bud to feel better.
"Really," Finn nods. "We do it all the time when we're upset. The Glee Club, I mean. I've done it. Kurt's done it. I think Artie's been in there a time or two. And Rachel—oh, man, Rachel used to do it all the time. Less now, though." Finn smiles. "She's happier now. I like to think I helped with that."
"Right," Rory said, distracted. "So you just… go in and sing?"
"At the top of your lungs, dude," Finn said. "It's different from singing in the choir room or in your room at home. The room kind of swallows the sound, so you can be as loud as you want. Let it all out."
"Sounds great," Rory said, not quite looking at him.
"Hey," Finn said. "I know it can be rough around here for new students… or old students… or, you know, pretty much anyone different. But I've got your back, man. Try this. It'll help. I promise."
Rory gave him a little smile. "Thanks, Finn. You're a true friend."
The day had gone on as normal after that. Rory perked up and followed him around like he normally does, being all smiley and nice and totally cool with him. This must be what it's like to have a fan, Finn thinks, and wonders one day if he'll ever have anyone who looks up to him like Rory does. The guy is more like his little brother than Kurt ever was—not that Kurt isn't awesome, but… well, Kurt only 'looks up' to Finn in the sense that Finn is very tall and Kurt has to tilt his head back to properly address him.
By the end of the day, Finn didn't even remember having the conversation about singing in the auditorium. Glee was doing dance practice that day, which meant that Mike was kicking all of their asses up and down the stage for two hours. By the end, Finn was pretty sure he was growing new muscles just so he could ache in more places, and was so focused on getting to his bed and not moving ever again that he sort of left all his stuff in the auditorium.
Which brings him to the present—Finn has just stepped into the seemingly empty auditorium, found the row of seats where he dumped all of his stuff, and leaned down (very gingerly) to pick it up.
Before he can get back up, he hears Rory, hesitant and quiet, sing the first notes of a song.
"There's a part I can't tell…"
He stops there, like he's not quite sure if he should continue. Finn almost stands up to make himself known, but then he remembers what he told Rory. If he stands up now, he might ruin the auditorium for him, like, forever. And then he'll have nowhere to sing out his angst, besides his car, except Finn is pretty sure Rory can't drive in the United States because they do it on the other side of the road in Ireland. And also because Rory might not be old enough. So he'd have nowhere at all.
So Finn does something stupid (not for the first time) and keeps his head down, hoping he'll start again. He just wants Rory to feel better. There's nothing like singing your heart out to help with that. That's what Glee is about.
After a few moments, Rory starts again, sounding a little more certain.
"There's a part I can't tell… about the dark I know well…"
Finn's ears perk up. He knows this song. It's from that one musical that Rachel really likes… the one that was super-depressing but had an awesome, rocktastic soundtrack.
Finn's brain provides a backing track all on its own. Guitar, piano, drums—he's always been better at remembering melodies than words. He knows how this song goes, but he can't quite remember what it's about. So as the backing track plays in his mind, he hesitantly peaks over the seat to see what Rory's doing.
He's sitting on the edge of the stage, staring off into space. His face… it's like… blank.
"You say 'time for bed now, child.' Mom just smiles that smile, just like she never saw me. Just like she never saw me…"
Finn blinks. Rory sad was bad. Rory blank… that's just wrong. He's never seen his friend look like this, and he wishes he could know what's bothering him.
Rory keeps on singing while Finn is thinking, and Finn realizes he's missed a few words. He joins the song just in time to hear…
"…I know deep inside, you are coming to me… you are coming to me…"
Rory's fingers start to clench as he hits the next part, and his voice gets a little louder.
"You say all you want is just a kiss goodnight, then you hold me and you whisper 'Child, the Lord won't mind…'"
Finn is totally absorbed. Rory is singing in that weird way that he normally associates with Kurt—like there's so much inside of him that he could be letting out, but he's holding it back because he has to.
Rory's voice cracks on the next line as he crescendos.
"'God, it's good, the loving, ain't it good tonight? You ain't seen nothing yet, gonna treat you right. It's just you and me…"
And his voice softens.
"Child, you're a beauty…"
'He's good,' Finn thinks. Like, really, REALLY good. He sings with raw power and emotion, like…
Like he knows how it feels. Like he feels it himself.
And suddenly, Finn remembers what the song is about.
Rory's face is no longer blank. It's red. He looks like he's about to cry, but he doesn't. Instead, he stands up and turns away from the empty audience, like he's taking a moment to compose himself. When he turns back around, his face is blank again. His voice is soft and even when he sings next.
"I don't scream, though I know it's wrong. I just play along… I lie there, and breathe. Lie there and breathe…"
His voice strengthens with the words.
"I want to be strong, I want the world to find out… that you're dreaming on me."
"Me and my beauty… me and my beauty…"
And as he launches into the second chorus, his voice picks up strength and his fists clench again. He gets louder and louder as he sings, his voice carrying so much weight that Finn feels crushed underneath it. Rory fills every corner of the room, his song so powerful that it starts to seem like others are singing with him, echoes of Rory joining in like a backing choir. His voice cracks again on "God, it's good," and this time it never fully repairs itself. The rest of the song is sung with a slight rasp in his voice, just shy of a growl.
And then he hits the last few lines.
"There's a part I can't tell… about the dark I know well…"
He sings the same thing four times, and each line hits a little harder. 'Please don't be true,' Finn thinks. Please. He doesn't want Rory to know the dark.
But there's no denying the song. As Rory hits the last couple of lines, the words tear out of him with damaging force, leaving his voice is so raw that it's halfway between singing and screaming. Finn knows that tone. It's what it sounds like when you mean it.
"There's a part I can't tell… about the dark I know well."
As the last line ends, Rory stands on stage, red faced and breathing hard, looking halfway destroyed by what he just let out. Finn ducks his head back down and prays that Rory doesn't see him. If Rory knows he heard that, it'll probably be the end of their friendship.
He closes his eyes and listens for the sound of Rory walking out of the auditorium, not daring to do anything until he hears the door close.
Then, he doesn't know what to do.
He wants Rory to feel better. He knows that much. But… just… God. How do you help someone with this? He wants to run after him and give him a hug, but… would he like that? Rachel said that sometimes rape victims didn't like to be touched…
Rory was… he's…
Finn knows the exact location of every trashcan in the auditorium, having had his fair share of vomit moments during dance practice. He barely makes it to the closest one as his stomach rejects everything he's had that day. If that song is really true, then Rory was raped. And Finn… Finn has no idea how to handle that.
He doesn't want Rory to know the dark.
But how can Finn possibly hope to pull him out of it if he's just as lost?
And Rory… God, Rory would probably hate him if he knew Finn knew. There was no way they could be still be friends if Rory found out. Finn was the one who sold him on the auditorium as a sacred space, and then he went and violated that sanctity himself, and…
The word 'violated' sends another wave of nausea through him, and Finn grips the edges of the trashcan to keep himself grounded. There's no way to un-hear what he's heard. As Kurt very loudly told him after he outed Santana, secrets are like toothpaste. Once they are out, they can never go back in.
Wow… he's screwed up a lot this year, hasn't he? And it's only just started.
With that thought, Finn pulls himself together and grabs his stuff. 'No time like the present to start doing things right,' he thinks as he leaves the auditorium.
Rory is awesome. Rory totally looks up to him, depends on him, has faith in him like nobody else. And there is only one way for Finn to live up to that kind of faith.
He wants to be friends with Rory. He doesn't want Rory to hate him. But those things aren't important. Well… okay, they are, but they're not the most important thing.
He puts his hand on the familiar doorknob, and takes a deep breath.
No, the most important thing is that whatever happened to Rory to make him sing like that… it has to stop. And if Rory has to hate him for that to happen… then Finn will just have to live with that.
He opens the door and sticks his head inside. "Mr. Schue?" he asks.
Mr. Schue isn't there. But for whatever reason, Ms. Pillsbury is. She takes one look at him and immediately goes into worry mode. "Finn, what's wrong?"
Finn slips inside the room and closes the door behind him. He wasn't planning on talking to her, but now that he thinks about it, she might be even better for this than Mr. Schue. "I need to talk to you. It's about… something really private, and I don't… I don't know what to do, and I really hope that you do, because if it is what I think it is, it's bad, and… and…"
"Shhh," Ms. Pillsbury says gently. "Slow down. It's alright, Finn. Come over here and sit with me and breathe for a second. Okay?"
Finn does. It's his last chance to collect his thoughts before he lets the toothpaste out of the tube for good. He just prays that he is doing the right thing.
"Now, tell me what happened."
There's a part Rory can't tell.
So Finn will.