The set is deadly quiet, he can only hear the sound of his own heart beating loudly in his chest, his fists tightening in anticipation. From where he's sitting in the centre he can vaguely make out the shapes of the camera crew, dark silhouettes against a darker background, moving silently and preparing for the inevitable. He looks to his side, taking in the way the blonde host continuously clasps and unclasps her hands and he deduces that she must fancy herself just as nervous as he is. He almost breaks the forced silence by laughing at the absurdity of that idea but he stops himself, he has one chance and he's not going to ruin it.
The only light is coming from the flashing red button on the main camera that stands a good 5 metres from the couches that he and the woman are sitting on. It matches his heartbeat, the flashing rhythm and it's almost hypnotic.
It's almost as if it's watching him.
As if it's taunting him.
Telling him to run away.
He wants to listen he really does, in fact he shifts his weight onto to feet, leaning away from the couch, ready to propel himself off the set and into the wings where surely he can hyperventilate in peace. There's no way he can do this without him and with each passing second, the pressure that's pulling him under seems to double and it's as if the darkness in all corners of the room is mocking him, reminding him who's missing.
He knows only a few seconds has passed since they turned the lights off, it can't be more than 30 seconds as they are nothing if not punctual but the seconds are stretching, going on forever in some sort of sick loop-
Light is suddenly flooding the space and the familiarity of being abruptly thrust from darkness renders him immobile, emotions too incomprehensible to name course through him and all he can do is gaze around frantically, trying to find some reminder of where he is.
"My name is Piper Ray and you're watching Taking the Truth."
It's almost a relief to hear her voice, the professional edge somehow reassuring him where he is and after blinking twice he is able to focus on her, on her blatantly dyed blonde hair and coral lipstick. She's so superficial it's comforting.
"On the 17th of June this year, a seemingly harmless decision made by an American teenager triggered a startling chain of events that would shock not only the United States but the entire world."
He can feel his skin grow hot at her words, it's been almost two months and he still hasn't been able to rid himself of the heavy guilt that he feels the moment he wakes up and that he carries around with him until he's able to sleep again. But there are times when he can't escape it, on the days where he isn't worn out from enduring the purgatory that others seem determined to inflict on him. Instead of the dreamless, almost intoxicating sleep he has grown accustomed to, on these nights he is plagued with the unavoidable task of re-living every moment he has grown to regret and love at the same time.
He is lucky the camera isn't on him yet, he feels hot and ice cold at the same time, his head throbbing with anticipation as the woman keeps on talking, her voice too clear for him to push into the background.
"When Congressman Burt Hummel was elected several years no one could have foreseen the extreme consequences his political views prompted. From the start Mr Hummel made his views on gang welfare clear and when fellow congressman Christopher Daley's dealings with Daniel Smythe were revealed Burt Hummel made a public statement condemning his colleague. While Mr. Smythe has never been linked to any of his family's alleged crimes, he previously served two and a half years for assault charges on a four year sentence."
He almost can't bear it, the mention of his father sends him spiralling into anxiety. He can feel his nails digging into his palm and it's only the thought of having to shake this woman's hand in the next few minutes that stops him from breaking the skin. It would almost be a relief to feel the pain, to be distracted from the way he feels like someone is punching him in the stomach every time Hummel and Smythe is mentioned in the same sentence. Lately it's almost as if the two have blended into one, a single identity that he cannot or doesn't want to escape from. It's not the name, what's in a name after all. It's the judgement; the pity behind them that he wishes didn't exist. It may not be his problem but it only affects him.
"While both men, Mr. Smythe and Mr. Daley were given six year sentence with no chance of parole, the incident was not forgotten and it wasn't long until, after several death threats Burt Hummel was under constant surveillance at all times. But this was not enough. And one month after Mr, Hummel's public declaration, on June 17th, his 17 year old son, Kurt was taken hostage as he was crossing town on the way to McKenzie hall, Lima, Ohio."
Even though the camera isn't on him yet, he feels as if he is under scrutiny, as if there are hundreds in the room, all staring at him. He almost longs for the comfort of darkness again; the fear of the unknown is suddenly a lot easier to deal with now that the reality of where he is has sunk in. His throat has gone tight and breathing has suddenly become a momentous task. For someone who once craved the limelight, he feels that is a bitter disappointment.
"Today we have Kurt here in the studio and he has kindly agreed to answer a few questions about what has been described as the most horrifying political hostage of the 21st century. Kurt, it's lovely to have you with us."
This is it. This is his moment. The camera has now zoomed out and he is thrust into a conversation he never wanted to have.
"Hello," he says, careful not to look at the flashing green light but instead at Piper Ray, making sure to keep contact as he shakes her hand. "It's nice to be here Piper."
Piper shifts in her seat and he realises that he has been holding her eyes for longer than socially acceptable and hastily looks down at his shoes. Peeking out from his eyelashes he can see that her expression has turned from professional to pitying and he flushes, unable to hide his grimace.
"So Kurt," she begins. "Can you please tell me what happened on June 17th?"
"…there really is no substitute for quality is there? And while of course it did mean my dads' weren't able to buy the coffee machine they wanted, it is an investment into my future career."
Kurt held back a sigh at Rachel's words and continued to make his way to the road crossing, tightening his grip on his satchel and pressing his phone closer to his ear.
"Of course," he made the noise of approval that was expected of him. "A new recording mike will definitely make it easier for you in New York."
"Ahhh," Kurt heard Rachel sigh happily into the phone and he smirked. The move to New York was fast approaching and the closer it got, the more excitable Rachel got. He was excited too of course, it was New York after all but the desperation he had once wished with to move away from Ohio had dissipated into quiet longing tinged with a little nostalgia. He would miss the New Directions of course, he would miss his family and a part of him would also miss Lima itself. Admittedly that was a very small part of him, Lima had only the one mall, a mediocre one at that and while there was also a small scattering of specialty boutiques they stocked only a fifth of what he wanted to own. But aside from the dismal shopping opportunities there were parts of the town he would miss, the most dominant being the Lima Community Theatre group, whose performances his father would take him to every year until he was 13 and while they were not the most talented bunch, what the group had lacked in skill they had made up in enthusiasm. He had a lot of fond memories of those performances, going to pre-dinner show and then going out for dinner with his Father who wasn't yet a congressman at the time. When his father had been elected those outings had had become fewer and fewer in between until the only time he went out with his father was the few ceremonial dinners he was allowed to go to. He much preferred dinners at home with his father, Carole and Finn anyway and joining glee club in high school had satisfied his musical cravings meaning that he hadn't give much thought to the Lima Community group. Until last week that is when Rachel had casually mentioned that they were performing Wizard of Oz in the next few months and were looking for people to audition. He had immediately decided to audition, not only did have large amounts of free time ahead of him but winning Nationals had left him feeling more confident than he normally did and the idea of performing in one of his favourite productions of all time in his hometown was admittedly very appealing.
"Kurt?" Rachel asked from the other end of the phone line and Kurt gave a start, realising he had forgotten to pay attention to Rachel.
"Oh sorry, what did you say?" He tried to sound apologetic. "Something about New York?"
"Never mind!" Rachel huffed. "You're obviously distracted, not that I blame you of course. Your audition is in what, half an hour?"
"Yeah," he said. "I'm almost there, I'm just about to cross onto Arthur St."
He had finally reached the road crossing and from where he was standing he could almost see the celery-green sign that read McKenzie Hall.
"Oh!" Rachel squealed. "Break a leg Kurt!"
"Thanks Rach," Kurt said and seeing that pedestrian light had begun to flash green, he began to walk across. "I'll see you after right? At Tina's?"
His eyes drifted towards the hall and he felt the familiar tingle of nerves he normally got when preparing to perform. He wished that his dad was in Lima so that he could have watched him audition or at the very least be at home waiting to have dinner with Kurt. But Burt Hummel was too busy in Washington dealing with matters such as the financial market and the Smythe family. And while Kurt knew it was safer for his dad in Washington, he couldn't help selfishly wishing for him to come home anyway.
"Yep! Her parents are out of town-"
Kurt gasped as a black van almost didn't stop for the lights and only narrowly missed hitting him as Kurt crossed the road, the tires sqealing as it came to a stop.
"Shit…" he muttered, heart pounding.
"What? Kurt?" Rachel asked, sounding worried. "What happened?"
"Oh just some idiot almost ran me over, I'm fine." Kurt ran a hand through his hair and after glaring at the car, whose windows were so tinted that he couldn't see who was driving, continued to make his way to the other side of the road. "Look I better hang up, I'll call you-"
Suddenly, without warning a heavy hand sealed itself over Kurt's mouth and his phone and bag were ripped away from him, clattering onto the bitumen.
"Unf," Kurt's eyes went wide and he struggled for breath, trying to scream. There were more than one pair of hands holding him, restraining his arms and legs, making it impossible for him to fight back or even turn his to the side to identify his attackers.
"I have to stay in Washington kid, I don't want Smythe coming after me. I'll be safer here."
Kurt's fathers earlier words came back to him and realisation flooded over him and he immediately recognised what was happening. He gazed around; hoping desperately to see people or witnesses but the street was completely empty, the only sign of life being the birds he could hear twittering softly amongst the trees.
He whimpered again as he felt himself be dragged towards the back of the stationary van and the hand around his mouth tightened.
"Be quiet," a voice growled in his ear and could feel rough fabric graze his skin. "Or you won't make it very far."
As Kurt was quickly brought around to the back of the car, he caught his first glance of one of the men who were restraining him and while he wore a black balaclava, Kurt could clearly the see the coldness in his eyes and his already turbulent stomach flipped.
As more unidentifiable men opened the back of the car, which Kurt could now see didn't have a license plate; Kurt knew it was his last chance of escape.
He abruptly bit into the hand that was covering his mouth and when the man yelped in surprise Kurt tried to break himself free, his limbs flailing as he tried to escape the tight grip.
His attempt however was futile, the other men who were still holding onto him, barely jostling as he tried his hardest and when it became clear he wasn't going to escape he slumped into defeat, all his energy gone and instead replaced with a dizzying fear.
"Nice try…" A different voice this time said and Kurt was roughly thrown into the spacious back of the van. Kurt gasped loudly, the heavy impact taking away his breath.
"P-please…." He said frantically, scrambling to the still open door, "Let, let me go."
"Not a chance." One of the men said, his smirk evident in his tone and Kurt's face crumpled.
"Please!" he cried, his voice rising with hysteria. "Please, please, please."
"He's not going to be quiet is he?" The same faceless man said and he inched closer to Kurt, making Kurt's heart beaten quicken with fear. "Get back in the back of the van and we won't kill you."
Kurt could hear the sincerity in the threat and he immediately turned, his legs shaking as he tried to crawl back to where he had been before. But as he did, he felt a hand grasp at his leg and before he could call out in fear he felt, rather than saw a syringe pierce skin and feeling the strange sensation of something being injected into his leg, he twisted his head only to lose conciseness seconds later. The last thing he saw was his own blood trickling down his leg, a red trail leading to nowhere.
"So you never saw the faces of the men who took you into the van?" Piper Ray immediately asks after he finishes speaking. While his words had lacked conviction and had sounded monotonous even to his own ears, Piper Ray had seemed fascinated by every word. He doesn't feel any better for talking but the bright lighting and the burly camera crew he can see from the corner of his eye don't seem as intimating as they had only a few minutes ago. His heart is racing from reliving that first encounter but he is almost able to detach himself from his own body, pretend it isn't him spilling his every secret. The camera is still on him and the room is so quiet he can even hear Piper Ray's quiet breathing. She is looking at him expectantly and he gradually remembers that she asked a question.
"No," he says and then clarifies. "I never saw their faces, I never saw anyone's faces uh except-"
Piper Ray blinks.
The camera light flashes.
He's not supposed to mention it, not yet anyway and he can see the cogs turning in Piper Ray's mind as she realises what he has said and it is with false ignorance that she moves on.
"And then you were drugged with Rohypnol, a common date-rape drug that makes the receiver lose consciousness and remain heavily intoxicated for more than 24 hours." she says and her face flickers slightly and swallows hard, bile rising in his throat. "And you were then taken away to a house 2 hours away in Westerville."
"Yes," he says and then feeling like he should say something more adds; "But I don't remember that, I was unconscious."
She nods. "By the time you woke up one day later, practically the whole country was looking for you."
He clenches his fists and takes several deeps breath, keeping his expression passive while his insides churn with guilt.
"Can you please tell us what happened after you woke up?" Piper Ray leans forward and he sighs.
Sometimes it feels like I never woke up.
He can't say that.
"After I woke up…"
"New York, here we come!"
"Congratulations kid, you got in."
"You're one of my best friends Kurt."
Kurt's head swam with memories; opening his NYADA letter, making plans with Rachel, sleep-overs with Mercedes. As he drifted, the colours and shapes blurred together until he couldn't distinguish one from the other, each moment looping endlessly. Slowly the memories seem to dissipate, gradually fading away until the only thing left in his subconscious was a heavy darkness that seemed to be pressing onto his eyelids.
He needed to wake up and it was with startling clarity that he realised why. Despite the desperation whirling inside his head, he opened his eyes sluggishly and immediately wished he hadn't. Wherever he was there were no windows and the only source of light was the flashing light coming from a power outlet on the wall. He could feel that he was lying on a mattress but when he tried to move himself, the events he only dimly remembered at the forefront of his mind, his body wouldn't cooperate with his legs only twitching slightly. He opened his mouth to scream but his throat felt dry and the only sound that came out was a small whimper, the sound barely registering through the heavy fog that was clouding his mind.
Despite knowing that he had woken up he still felt as if he were dreaming, strange shapes seemed to appear in the darkness and light that he knew to be non-existent shone out of the corner of his eye. Heart beating quickly he attempted again to move his legs and when that failed, he tried lifting his arms, his hysteria heightening when they inevitably remained on the mattress.
He clamped his eyes shut, no longer able to cope with the thoughts clambering around inside his head. His brain was still far from lucid but despite feeling incredibly fatigued in every way, closing his eyes did not bring Kurt sleep or the escape he craved.
Instead he was again bombarded with memories, harsh ones this time, making him even more powerless and unable to do anything but whimper softly.
"He's masculine, not like you."
"No offense, but you're kind of a bitch…"
"I'm trying! You know I am, it's just hard."
"Why would you say something like that, I have feelings you know."
Over and over he relived every insult, every confrontation and every mistake. The words of his friends with their frank honesty seemed to play constantly and with every minute that passed, a little of his remaining sanity seemed to float away with it.
He didn't realise he was crying until the sounds of his small cries became louder and through the haze he felt his tears slide down his cheeks. He groaned in frustration as he tried to move again, still keeping his eyes closed and without even thinking about it, he kept trying, his body twitching uselessly against the mattress.
The word hung in the empty air and Kurt's eyes snapped open.
In the dark, amongst the heavy shadows there was someone standing over him.
A/N So there it is! It's much darker than anything I've written before so any feedback would be much appreciated :)