Author’s Note: (Belated) birthday fic for starsandgutters . Thank you for encouraging me to keep on writing for this pairing, and thank you for being you. I really hope you enjoy.
Kurt paid the cab driver, then walked up the driveway of the frat house. He knocked on the door and took a deep breath, steeling himself for what he might find. He wouldn't normally be so impulsive, but Finn had sounded beyond frantic on the phone, telling him that he had some important news to share with him that just couldn't wait. The very fact Finn was willing to share the inner workings of his mind rather than internalising them immediately set off warning bells, so Kurt hadn't hesitated before booking his plane ticket to Ohio.
"Lookin' for some action?"
Kurt scowled as the door opened. Tilting his head up, he met the red-rimmed eyes of a tall blond man wearing a blue puffy vest and ill-fitting jeans. Did college jocks have a secret handshake to obtain discount? How else could you explain dressing like that?
"This had better be good, Finn," Kurt said, through gritted teeth.
"Oh, so you're Hudson's little bro?" the man said, extending his hand. "I'm his frat bro, Spencer. C'mon in!"
"Little in stature, yes," Kurt replied, "though Yogi Bear is little in stature compared to Finn."
Skipping the handshake, Kurt stepped over the threshold. The hallway was crowded like the subway during rush hour, throngs of girls and guys engaging in mindless chatter, and the speakers steadily pumped the sort of drippy, annoying college rock that made his teeth grind. The heavy riffs, combined with lyrics about lost love, complete with guitar solos designed specifically for waving one's lighter in the air, were the miserable cherry on top of the frat party experience.
"It's a pleasure to meet you, Spencer. If you'll excuse me, I'm going to find Finn, because I am certainly not here for the bikini-clad girls and the body shots."
Spencer rolled his eyes. "Um, this is Troy's party. More like bikini-clad boys."
"Oh, that Troy," Kurt replied, gulping. How very open-minded of Finn to make acquaintance with the sole gay man in his fraternity. As though that wasn't the oldest ruse in existence to pick up girls.
Then again, Finn knew Kurt had always been fond of football players. Perhaps that was Finn's grand plan - lure him in with the promise of important news only to set him up with someone. Casual relationships weren't Kurt's modus operandi, but if this Troy had more to offer than the rest of the puffy vest crowd, Kurt might find it in himself to show an interest.
Kurt averted his eyes from the couple grinding on the staircase as he removed his coat, but before he could even ask someone where he could hang it, a light female voice interrupted his thoughts, tugging on the sleeve of his sweater.
"Isn't he dreamy?" she said, directly into his head. "DJ tall, dark and klutzy. Half the time he puts the records on, like, upside down or on the wrong speed, but that thing he does? Where he slides his tongue along his lip? Doesn't he just make you melt? He's hardly the brightest crayon in the box, and there was that time when he confused naturists and naturalists, but..."
"Do I know you?" Kurt replied, taking a step to one side before she could drunkenly wrap her arm around him.
"Quarterback, drummer, and a Theatre minor. So hot."
Kurt whipped his head around, slightly worried that it had only taken him two minutes to find Finn's fan club. The girl beside him was petite, with waves of honey blonde hair. Slender legs, light make-up and a bright smile completed the All-American look. Certainly Finn's type. Her tacky name necklace indicated she was a Sarah, and as her hand raised her drinks cup to her mouth, Kurt realised with horror that there was a ring on her finger. Oh God. Finn wasn't going to drop another surprise proposal bomb, was he?
"That's Finn," Kurt said, well aware of his brother's impact. "Makes us all feel like we're living in a teenage dream."
"You like him too?"
"Well yes, Finn is incredibly hot. Sadly, Finn is also incredibly straight."
"So you'd date him?"
Kurt bit his lip and felt his cheeks burn up. "Moving on! Are you two...?"
"Oh, no. I've asked him out a couple times, but he doesn't date."
"Phew," Kurt said, exhaling, then clocked the look of horror on her face, "No! I didn't mean it like that! Finn just has a history of being... impulsive, shall we say."
"He didn't tell you he proposed to his girlfriend in senior year?"
"Okay, maybe I got a lucky escape then?" she laughed, shaking her head.
"Quite likely," Kurt replied. "Do you know where he is?"
"DJ booth or foosball table," she said, then shot him a wink. "Glad you're wearing pointy boots, 'cause you'll need all the help you can get to battle through his groupies."
"Thanks for the advice," Kurt said, more curt than he'd intended.
If Finn Hudson had dragged him all this way to make him listen to Springsteen mash-ups or play table football, he was going to wring his neck with his bare hands.
On his way back from the drinks table, cloying elixir of rum and Diet Coke in hand, Kurt found the DJ booth. Well. DJ table, to be more precise. As predicted, Finn was there, swaying to the beat. His eyes were tightly closed but his smile was wide, teeth glimmering, as white as the tank top he was wearing. His arms were folded behind his head, and it was clear Finn's admirers weren't cheering due to the atrocious Journey song playing.
Worst of all, Finn looked that good without any semblance of a routine. He didn't even rub the sleep from his eyes before leaving the house in the morning.
As Finn's fingers drummed against the table like drunken spiders, Kurt couldn't remember the last time he'd looked so happy. Yes, Kurt surmised, raising his drink to his lips. This was definitely a set-up. Finn was dead to him. Yet, his wide smile was so infectious, Kurt couldn't help but return it.
"Checking out the goods, huh?"
"What?" Kurt took a deep breath before exhaling, knowing subtlety wasn't his strong suit. "Oh no, no. I wasn't looking at Finn."
"Oh, so you were looking at me! Impeccable taste. I'm Troy. You're Kurt, right? The F-Meister was telling us you and your high school boyfriend broke up recently."
"The F-Meister?" Kurt was unable to choke back a laugh and, okay, Troy was somewhat cute, in a young Taye Diggs way. Not Kurt's usual type, but Mercedes and Tina would certainly have approved. Not that that made Finn's matchmaking attempts okay. "And yes, I have."
"So single and ready to mingle?"
"Just single," Kurt replied, running the tip of his finger along the rim of his cup. "I'm not particularly inclined to mingle."
"So can I buy you another drink, or do you just want the money?"
Kurt spluttered, only becoming aware of how wide open his eyes were they began to water. That line wouldn't have worked coming from Jensen Ackles.
"You don't buy drinks at a house party, you ignoramus."
"Sassy and sexy. You remind me of that Rachel chick your brother used to date. Prissy as hell, but man they were loud. Must have clamped Hudson like a vise," Troy said, placing a hand on Kurt's shoulder. Kurt didn't know what it was like to have a frozen snail crawl over his bare flesh, but imagined it would bring about a similar sensation.
Kurt firmly grabbed Troy's hand and placed it back by his side. "That's my best friend you're talking about, you oaf. I'm going to talk to the wall now, which will be an infinitely more challenging conversationalist."
"Shame." Troy winked, and grabbed his own crotch. "There's a perfectly good conversationalist here, and I'm always up for a challenge."
Glancing in Finn's direction, Kurt opened his eyes wide, pleading for rescue, but Finn was still obliviously lost to the beat. Kurt stared down into his drink, feeling more than a little disappointed that he'd come several hundred miles west only for his brother to set him up with Noah Puckerman's gay expy.
"It's not like I'm looking for lasting love," Troy said. "If I wanted a fling, I'd be interested in me. I'd totally get up in my saddle."
Troy winked at him again, and Kurt shuddered, realising he was about to be on the receiving end of a ridden hard and put away wet quip. He wondered if he still had Sebastian's number, whether it was stored under Eau d'Craigslist or Timon. It would be selfish of him not to introduce two people who were so clearly soul mates.
"So you and Finn are close?"
Kurt nodded as he took a sip of his drink, happy to steer the conversation elsewhere.
"Oh, you're close close. So if I get one, does the other come half-price?"
Kurt spluttered, spraying a mouthful of drink on the floor. He looked behind him, wondering if there was a secret passage behind the trophy cabinet he could use to slink upstairs. Ideally until Finn's Neanderthal frat buddies had passed out from alcohol poisoning - which if Troy's unsteady sway was any indication, wouldn't be long.
"Not funny, bro." Kurt breathed a sigh of relief as a hand that was so large it couldn't belong to anyone else was placed on his shoulder. "This one's off limits."
"Shame," Troy said. "Though if my boyfriend was that hot, I don't think I'd share."
"I said, back off."
"No need to worry, Finn," Kurt said, placing his hand against the small of Finn's back. "Troy here's just overcompensating for his steroid abuse."
"Totally like A-Rod, dude," Finn said, nodding resolutely, making a crude pinching gesture with his fingertips.
Surprisingly, that was all it took for Troy to shake his head and start scanning the crowd for his next target, and all it took for Finn to envelop Kurt in a tornado of flailing arms and... mmm, Kurt thought, smelling something other than the room's stale beer and desperation, was that Calvin Klein?
"Kurt!" Finn said, squeezing so tightly Kurt swore he was going to burst at the seams. "You made it!"
"Starting to wish I hadn't," Kurt muttered.
Finn chuckled. "Oh, Troy's harmless. His bite's worse than his bark, or whatever. Anyway, wanna dance?"
"I drop my weekend plans and lose several hundred dollars from my clothing budget because you have something important to tell me and you 'wanna dance'?"
Granted, Kurt's weekend plans had mainly involved picking out some new audition songs and eating his own body weight in popcorn while Rachel was out on yet another date, but given Finn's college lifestyle, he didn't feel particularly inclined to share that tidbit of information.
"Please?" Finn said, Kurt trying not to notice how his shirt clung to his biceps, and how a few damp strands of hair clung to his forehead. "C'mon, man. I've missed seeing your smile."
"Drop the act," Kurt said. "I'm not one of your entourage. I'm surprised they didn't steal your underwear on your way over here."
"What makes you think I'm wearing underwear?" Finn said, raising his eyebrow, and Kurt laughed, in spite of himself. He'd missed seeing Finn's smile, too.
Five or six songs later, and Kurt was beginning to wonder if Finn's important news was that he'd acquired a starring role in his college's adaptation of The Artist. The silence had been comforting at first, Kurt enjoying Finn's arms wrapped around his back, but Finn hadn't been this quiet since his last bout of laryngitis.
"Hey, Kurt?" he murmured softly.
"What's my favourite sandwich?"
Ah. With Finn, the precious moments never did last. His brother was likely one more non-sequitur away from a beer-induced psychotic break.
"What is wrong with you, Finn?"
Finn chuckled throatily. "Um, lots of stuff? Anyway, answer the question, man."
"Anything with bacon," Kurt said, trying to suppress the feeling he was starring in a particularly tolerant version of a Mr. and Mrs. game. Then, he decided he had a prime opportunity to make Finn squirm. "And what's mine?"
"Nutella," Finn answered, not missing a beat. "On those fancy French dinner rolls."
Kurt blinked, twice. Finn had served his vegan ex-girlfriend steak and all-butter pound cake for a romantic dinner. He'd sent Kurt a birthday card in March, once, confusing it with May. Then again, Finn probably only remembered because the previous Thanksgiving, he'd complained to Burt that there was no need for Kurt to keep the nutella jar in his room because the large thumbprint in it totally wasn't his. It was certainly in Finn's nature to remember the trivialities and forget anything practical.
"Impressive, Finn. And where are we going with this?"
"We're like nutella and bacon," he said, his eyes sparkling like he'd just discovered a new chemical element and was anticipating a Nobel Prize. "We're like, Epic Meal Time. See?"
"No, I really don't."
"Don't you get it, Kurt? Nobody would ever think to put us together, or expect us to work well together, but we do! At least I think we could work really well together."
"Of course we work really well together. Do you think we're drifting apart these days, Finn? Is that why you wanted me here?" he said, sighing. "You do realise I'm perfectly happy to see you on my own volition."
"Well, yeah, though it feels like we don't see each other at all these days, but -" Finn started, shaking his head. "Never mind."
Kurt was going to get to get to the bottom of this, because there was always logic behind those confused expressions of Finn's, and there wasn't much chance of Finn's brain articulating what was on his mind. Finn might be less boyish these days, his jaw stronger, his smile more confident, but his self-doubt remained.
After a few minutes, Finn cleared his throat. "So, Sarah says you think I'm hot."
"And what gave her that impression?" Kurt said, stepping back, hands on hips.
"Because you told her I was?"
"I most certainly did not!"
"Hot straight quarterback," Finn said, finger reaching out to tap the end of Kurt's nose. "And earlier, you were totally checking out my arms."
Kurt batted Finn's finger away with a hiss. "Was not!"
"Was too. You're checking them out now."
Kurt looked away. It was hard not to check Finn out. Kurt had made his peace with that back in high school, though. The chances of anything happening with Finn were as remote as Blaine wearing socks, or Mercedes giving up carbohydrates for Lent.
"Wanna touch 'em, Kurt?"
Wait. Had Finn realised that, beneath the put-downs and brotherly banter, Kurt still wanted him? Oh, no. Kurt had to make his exit now, and he didn't particularly care if it was dignified or dramatic. If the frat house should happen to have a trap door in the floor, he could work with that.
Kurt eyed Finn warily, hoping this wasn't a trap. He gently rested his hand on Finn's bicep, feeling powerful muscles flex under his touch. An image of Finn's arms pinning him down, brown eyes locking onto his, briefly flashed through his head and he snatched his hand away, as though he'd placed it on a hotplate.
"Hm," Kurt said, because he did still want Finn. Blaine's body had never given him cause for complaint, but Finn's strong, tall body had always carried allure. Granted, he hugged you like a sweaty lamprey, but his pull-up bar and weight training clearly paid dividends.
"I don't build muscle like other guys," Finn said, his smile dipping down a little. "Sorry."
"There's absolutely nothing wrong with your body."
"Still the hot straight quarterback?"
Kurt rolled his eyes. "I really regret saying that. You'll still be bringing this up when I'm eighty and incontinent, won't you?"
"Um, no. I keep bringing it up 'cause it's not true."
Kurt groaned. "Finn, how can you not think you're hot? You have a fan club on Facebook! That sorority girl over there all but has your name tattooed on her lower back. I thought we'd worked through this!" He paused, Finn still looking like he didn't believe him. "Fine. Yes, you're hot. And I am never going to hear the end of this, am I?"
Finn scrunched his hands in his hair. "Dammit, Kurt. That's not what I meant!"
Kurt crinkled his nose. Finn was on the football team, wasn't he? That girl had said so earlier, so… oh. Suddenly, Kurt's stomach flipped over in realisation and he wrapped his arms tightly around Finn, pressing his head into his chest. He could feel Finn's heartbeat through the thin fabric of his shirt, feel so much heat radiate from his body. Looking up, there wasn't any hint of the confident demeanour from earlier, Finn's face etched with nothing but fear.