Spoilers: Blanket spoiler for season 2 thus far, and some minor speculation on future spoilers.
Characters/Pairings: Finn, Kurt, some other Gleeks, implied Kurt/Blaine
Summary: Written for this prompt on the glee_fluff_meme. Five times Finn's Gaga dress made Kurt laugh, and one time it didn't.
1. Paying his dues
The first time it happens, Kurt legitimately believes he is dreaming. Because seriously, what other explanation could possibly exist for Finn Hudson suddenly appearing in a shiny red dress, posed like a Goddamn superhero, to save him from bullies? It’s just too absurd, and Kurt blames it on a) his heart being torn to bitty pieces by the ex-love of his life, and b) the tub of cookie dough ice cream he inhaled before bed in a fit of senseless despair. No other explanation makes sense, except for Finn actually growing a pair and proving that he is something like the good person Kurt imagined. That is, not likely.
Except it turns out to be real life, and in the aftermath, when it all sinks in, Kurt can do nothing but burst into hysterical laughter while Finn worriedly pats his back. Clearly, Kurt will never feel the same way about him again, and he’s not let off the hook completely . . . but that afternoon, Finn Hudson manages to claw his way at least halfway back up the broken pedestal Kurt foolishly built for him. Dressed in a shower curtain.
Kurt feels a fresh wave of manic laughter at the absurdity of it all.
(Finn is a little scared for Kurt, who is apparently going insane, but at least he’s not crying anymore so the dress thing totally counts as a win. But he’s never doing it again.)
2. Sucking it up
It’s down to the very last box, and Finn is actually disappointed. He’s been up here for hours, unpacking his stuff to avoid going downstairs, and ok, so it’s not actually like he’s put anything away neatly, so his mom doesn’t actually needs to call the doctor like she said. It’s just that he needs to procrastinate going downstairs to face the music – the music being, in this case, Kurt’s wounded puppy look, which he seriously must practice in front of the mirror, like Rachel does. Just another common thing they share, along with blaming Finn for things that are totally not his fault.
Honestly, how was he supposed to know that ‘keep my room safe while I’m gone’ was actually code for ‘mess it up and I will tear your face off’? Especially since they would be moving the very next day, and Finn had only left a few shirts lying around. Maybe some corn chips. Whatever, he totally didn’t deserve being yelled at just ‘cause Kurt is grumpy and controlling.
So pretty much no one is happy, because what should have been a cool family-night-with-Kurt-for-a-change turned into a screaming match between the two boys. It wasn’t nearly as bad as the last big fight they’d had, but it was no fun either. Especially since Finn has been sulking for like a whole day now, enough that the self-righteous anger is fading, and guilt is beginning to gnaw at his stomach.
But it wasn’t his fault, dammit! Why does he always need to be the one to apologise?
Buoyed by a fresh wave of anger, Finn tears into the last box.
Slippery red fabric spills onto his hands, and he stares at it in surprise. He hasn’t thought about the Gaga dress in months, ever since shoving it at the back of his closet with mixed feeling of embarrassment, guilt and accomplishment. He doesn’t remember packing it, either, and guesses that his mom must have done it for him.
Finn crinkles the ex-shower curtain in his hands, some of that old guilt running into his current guilt and making him feel worse. Would it have really killed him to clean the basement up a bit before Kurt got home? Sure his stepbrother overreacted, but he should have expected that, given how fussy Kurt was about stuff. He probably should have made allowances for that since Kurt has been having such a hard time lately, and coming home from a new school to find his old room looking so . . . lived in . . . wouldn’t have helped. Especially since it would be his last night there.
Oh crap, now Finn doesn’t even feel angry anymore, except at himself. Stupid Kurt, being all sad and vulnerable. How does he do that, anyway?
Finn sighs. Well, if nothing else, he is the big brother now, and big brothers kind of have to suck it up and apologise first, because that’s what being a leader is all about. Right? Besides, he does like Kurt, and has missed him, and doesn’t want to spend the whole weekend not talking to him at all.
Kurt is in the den when Finn makes his way downstairs, watching some TV show with girls dressed in weird clothes. Finn considers making a grand entrance, like a superhero or something, but something about the miserable slump of Kurt’s shoulders tells him that it probably wouldn’t have the desired effect. So instead, he walks calmly into the room, in front of the TV, and plunks down beside him on the sofa.
“Hey,” he says nonchalantly.
Kurt makes a funny choking sound, but otherwise seems speechless.
“So, what are we watching?”
His stepbrother stares at him for a moment longer, than shakes his head. “Finn, what are you wearing?”
Finn’s dress creaks stiffly as he tries to make himself comfortable. “You don’t remember it?” he asks innocently.
“Of course I remember it, but why the hell are you wearing it here?”
He shrugs, and the giant pointy shoulder pads momentarily block his view of Kurt’s flabbergasted expression. “It’s comfy?”
“It is not. You look constipated.” Kurt folds his arms. “Finn, seriously.”
He sighs. “I – I guess I thought that maybe if I dressed up, you’d forget I’m your idiot brother who says stupid stuff and is also an inconsiderate jerk.”
Kurt stares at him for another long, speechless moment, and Finn wonders if he can get away with tearing the back of his dress a bit, because you really can’t lean back in this thing. Then his face breaks out into a tiny, honest smile. “Okay, okay, you win,” Kurt sighs. “I’m sorry I yelled. I was tired and homesick and just wanted to have my old room back for one more night, but it was uncalled for. It’s not like you’re to blame for any of that.”
Finn shrugs. “Well I knew you had that thing about crumbs and laundry, so I kinda had it coming. Anyway, we’re cool now, right? ‘Cause I gotta be honest, fighting with you is really stressful.”
“Yeah, we’re cool.” Then he smirks. “Well, I’m cool. You’re a huge dork.”
“Dude, what are you talking about? I’m like, Batman!” He pushes himself off the couch and strikes a dramatic pose, one of the ones he practiced in the mirror. That’s enough to send Kurt into a fit of giggles. Then Finn raises his arm too high and accidentally pokes himself in the head with a shoulder puff, which makes him burst out laughing.
The unexpected sound draws Burt into the room, where he stops and stares for a few long moments at Finn’s costume. Eventually he says, “I don’t even wanna know, do I?”
Finn and Kurt are laughing too hard to answer, so he shakes his head and ambles on to the kitchen to tell Carole that her son is insane, but at least he’s a damn good kid.
3. Cluelessly perceptive
He’s back at Dalton, in the middle of a Warblers’ meeting, trying to ignore the way Blaine and Whatsisface have been making Significant Eye Contact for the past hour while Wes goes on and on about unimportant things. It’s beyond depressing, it’s downright devastating, so he rebels against the injustice of life by sneaking a mass text to about five members of New Directions.
They’d probably be in Glee now, either fighting over sex and stuff, or launching into an impromptu dance number. He glances at Blaine, who is not looking at him, and feels suddenly, fiercely homesick. It’s an ache he’s beginning to get used to, but there’s now a new, fresh edge to the pain, and he doesn’t want to have to cope with it. Not again.
A couple of his friends reply. Mercedes tells him, ditto. rachel is talking lots :P. Mike, Artie and Tina all send him sympathetic :( faces in return, and Brittany says, think of zombees there fun!
He’s still puzzling over Brittany’s text – which at least takes his mind off Stupid Warblers and Stupid Blaine and Stupid Blaine’s Maybe Boyfriend – when Finn send him a picture of himself wearing a familiar red eye mask, making an exaggerated frowny face.
Kurt’s sudden bark of laughter effectively brings the meeting to a screeching halt, but he can’t bring himself to regret it. He’s still smirking slightly even as Wes confiscates his phone, but that’s mostly because Blaine is staring at him for a change, and he’s totally going to ignore it. See how Blaine likes that.
(Then he wonders why Finn even has that mask in Glee, and concludes that he must just carry it round waiting for a chance to make Kurt laugh inappropriately. Moron, he thinks affectionately.)
4. Respecting boundaries
“Dude, if you don’t want to go, then don’t go.”
“Of course I want to go.”
“Then stop pacing already!”
“I’m not pacing.”
“I think the carpet says differently.”
Kurt tosses a glare at Finn over his shoulder, and keeps on walking back and forth across Finn’s bedroom floor. He looks nervous, but not excited-nervous. More like worried-nervous, or I-just-want-this-over-with nervous. A guy shouldn’t look like that when he’s about to go out with his boyfriend, or whatever the hell they’re calling themselves these days. Finn sighs and presses pause on the controller, giving Kurt his full attention.
“What’s the problem, exactly?” he says. A couple months ago he wouldn’t have asked this; in fact he’d probably be hiding in his room just to avoid the issue altogether. But Kurt’s issues have a way of invading his life whether he wants them to or not, and the fact that Kurt has trusted him enough to complain about Blaine’s recent transgressions is enough to make him put in some kind of effort. Even if he really sucks at it.
Kurt wrings his hands together. “There’s no problem, exactly. It’s just, well, there is, but I don’t know what it is. I just . . . I want to know where I stand with him, you know?”
“I guess ... so right now you think you're in a bad place?”
Kurt sighs, and his shoulders slump down a few inches. “I don’t know.”
Finn feels a sudden stab of anger. Does Kurt really need this Blaine guy screwing him over, on top of everything else? “Want me to tag along?” he offered. “I could like, sit in the booth behind you and make scary faces at him?”
Kurt smiled crookedly. “Thanks, but no.”
Finn think for a moment. “I could bring Puck, and we could scary faces at him?”
That gets a short laugh. “Again, thanks, but I can’t think of anything more off-putting. It’s something I’ll just have to get through by myself, like a mature adult.”
Finn respects that decision, he really does. Therefore, it’s purely for his own benefit when he rocks up at Breadstix an hour later, flanked by Mike and Tina, causing almost everyone in the restaurant to drop their forks.
(“You didn’t tell me we were dressing up,” Mike complains, looking strangely disappointed.
“No it’s just me,” Finn said. “Can you guys, like, pretend this is totally normal?”
Mike and Tina glance at each other, then shrug in unison. “Okay.”
There was a reason he invited them, and not Puck.)
Kurt’s head drops to the table with a heavy thunk as he breezes past, smiling politely. But his shoulders are shaking with what is either suppressed laughter or violent sobs, and Blaine is choking on his lemonade, so Finn is counting this as a victory. At the very least, he is an awesome ice-breaker.
5. Listening to reason
Kurt eventually stages an intervention about the dress. He says that he really appreciates Finn wanting to cheer him up, but he doesn’t need to dress up like a fire engine to do it. So it is with a strange feeling of melancholy that Finn folds the costume into a box and stows it in the depths of his wardrobe.
But first, he and Kurt took a few goofy pictures of him wearing it, laughing like idiots the whole time, so that Kurt can stow them away and look at them when he is feeling really run-down.
It says a lot about how far Finn has come, that he doesn’t find this creepy at all.
+1. Being there
Kurt knows it’s a good thing that his semester break happens to fall around the worst day of the year. If it didn’t, and he had to study or do exams while imagining his dad going to the cemetery all alone, the guilt might well kill him. So it’s really fortunate that he can be back in Lima for this particular day.
That doesn’t stop him from wishing he was far, far away that evening when they returned from visiting his mom’s grave. There’s something particularly cruel about this time; maybe it’s to do with the fact that he’s had a whole year of college, at the place he’s always wanted to go, in the city he’s always wanted to live in, and his life is beginning to drag itself out of the dark adolescent years into adulthood. Maybe because it’s only just occurred to him that he’s spent more years without his mom than he had with her. Maybe he feels guilty about finally feeling like his is part of a family, and it doesn’t include her. Maybe he just has a sudden, irrational and desperate need to hear her say that she’s proud of him.
Maybe he’s an ungrateful, idiotic baby, but whatever the reason, it drives him into his old room that evening (still the exact same as when he left a year ago, not a dirty shirt or corn chip in sight) to curl up on his old bed, and cry for a while.
His dad comes in at one stage, and Kurt appreciates it, but they both need their space. It’s been a Hummel tradition for years.
As the light begins to fade outside, and Kurt’s tears stop, he falls into a state of quiet, sleepy numbness. At around that point, his door creaks open, and someone shuffled in noisily. The bed dips, and Kurt’s hand brushes against plastic.
“Finn,” he sighs into the mattress. “This really isn’t helping, you know.”
“I know,” Finn replied, and one large hand gingerly touched his shoulder. “I just didn’t know what else to do.”
Kurt cracks one watery eye open, and his stepbrother’s blindingly red form swims into focus. The costume is getting a little tight. He sits at an awkward angle on the bed, but his face is full of soft concern – no mask this time – that makes Kurt want to start crying again.
“There’s nothing you can do,” he says truthfully. “It’s just one of those times where life feels awful, and nothing makes it better. But I appreciate the effort.” He turns his head away. “Now please leave me alone.”
Finn squeezes his shoulder, then says awkwardly, “I think she’d be really proud of you. I know you probably already know that, but . . . yeah. I think she would.”
There’s a long pause, and Kurt can feel the bed shifting, like Finn’s about to move. Suddenly, Kurt changes his mind and rolls over, burying his head in Finn’s crinkly plastic lap, sobbing uncontrollably. Finn stiffens for a brief moment, but gets over his surprise and brushes Kurt’s bangs away from his forehead. He doesn’t say anything else, but Kurt doesn’t mind. It’s enough that he’s there. He and his stupid red dress.