When Kurt opened his eyes, the first thing he noticed was the lack of discomfort. Instead of pain, all he felt was a dull numbness. The second thing he noticed was that he couldn't move.
He was lying on his stomach on what appeared to be a makeshift bed. A surprisingly cool breeze blew across the bare skin of his back, making him realize that he was shirtless.
His arms were stretched out in front of him and tied down with what looked like a kind of leather strap across his upper arms. His wrists were wrapped with clean, white bandages, and Kurt found himself thankful that they had not tied him down by the tender limbs.
Testing his legs, he found that they were strapped down in a similar fashion.
"Oh, you're awake," a familiar voice said from somewhere beside him. Kurt carefully turned his head in their direction to find Jeff lying in a similar fashion on a bed across from him, minus the straps on his arms and legs.
"Jeff!" Kurt exclaimed softly. The blond gave him a small smile.
"How do you feel?" he asked.
"I don't hurt, if that's what you're asking," Kurt replied.
"Yeah, that's thanks to the salve they put on your back," Jeff grinned. "It does wonders for healing failure scars."
"Failure scars?" Kurt echoed, though it quickly dawned on him what Jeff had meant. Wes had said that failure would result in punishment. Jeff had failed to guard Kurt because he had tried to run away. And Jeff had to pay for Kurt's foolishness.
"I'm sorry," he said softly. "I didn't know they would do that to you."
"It's okay," Jeff shrugged. "I've had worse."
"Why did you do it?" Kurt asked cautiously. "Why did you take half of my punishment? On top of what you'd already gotten? Why would you do that?" A soft chuckle slipped from Jeff's lips.
"Remember what I told you the other night?" Jeff asked. "I'm not really that bad of a guy. I've made some bad choices throughout my life, but that doesn't completely make me a bad person. I knew that you wouldn't be able to handle twenty lashes and I knew that I could take an extra ten. This is not the first time I've been punished like that." He turned his back slightly to show Kurt the faded scars that mixed with the new red lines. "Yours shouldn't scar like mine have. Mine are just because they've been reopened so many times that they've just decided not to completely heal anymore. Since this is your first time, I doubt you'll even be able to see a thing in a month's time."
The mention of time caught Kurt's attention. How long had he been here? And how much longer were they going to keep him here? Had they contacted his father yet?
"How are you holding up?" a new voice drew Kurt's attention back. Nick was now sitting beside Jeff on the edge of his bed, gently brushing some of the hair out of his love's face.
"I'm doing fine," Jeff grinned. "I should be fine to get up by noon."
"Good," Nick smiled back before turning to look at Kurt. "And how are you feeling?"
"I'm alright?" Kurt replied hesitantly. "You know, all things considered."
"Good," Nick nodded. "The boss wants to see you as soon as you're strong enough to stand. Think he'll be ready by noon?" The question was directed at Jeff.
"I don't see why not," Jeff shrugged.
"Alright, well I'll go let him know then," Nick smiled, standing up. "I'll see you in a little while." The two locked eyes and smiled before Nick slowly backed out of Kurt's line of sight, out of whatever room they were in.
I wish I had someone that smiled at me like that, Kurt sighed to himself. The one thing he had always wanted, more than anything in the world, was to be loved by someone. He wanted to be held and comforted when he was injured or scared. He wanted someone to brush his hair out of his face when he was lying ill in bed. He wanted somebody to love.
His mind involuntarily took him back to the memory of arms wrapping around him, soothing, comforting words being whispered in his ear, beautiful golden brown eyes...
No! Kurt scolded himself. Stop it! He tricked you! He's one of them! He doesn't care about you! All he wanted was to know how much money he could make off of you!
Then why did he look so concerned when he found out about your back? his subconscious argued. Would he be concerned if he didn't care?
Kurt let out a sigh, his mind muddled with confusing thoughts. He gently sunk his head down onto the pillow and closed his eyes, hoping to get a couple more hours of sleep to clear his head and prepare him to meet him, the boss, the feared leader of the Warblers.