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Title: (Don't) Put A Ring On It
Rating: PG-13 for this chapter, NC-17 eventually
Summary: Finn is getting married and Kurt is the best man. But Kurt wants to kiss the
A/N: Thanks go to rebness for beta-ing this!
(Don’t) Put A Ring On It
When Kurt Hummel’s doorbell rang that Friday evening, he was expecting it to be his neighbour asking for sugar again. Miss Bartlett came to ask him for cups of sugar every other day ever since she had determined that Kurt was gay; Kurt was 98% positive she only did it to make sure he wasn’t engaging in any ‘unnatural’ shenanigans. Nasty old hag.
Not that he had many shenanigans to cover up, if he was being honest. Ever since his breakup with Blaine, he had been on lots of dates, but none of them had developed into an actual relationship. Either the guys would be too closeted or too outrageous, too boring or too snooty; and most of them were expecting to have him in bed by the end of the first date, which Kurt wasn’t down with. He realised that it was a terribly provincial attitude for a New York guy, but he just—he wasn’t like that; never had been. He found one-night stands so depressing. As for Epic Romance, that was harder to come by; he’d thought he had it with Blaine, really had it, and the crashing down had been spectacular. Nowadays, he was a little more cautious about wearing his heart on his sleeve.
Huffing, he got up from the couch and went to answer the door, planning to tell Miss Bartlett that he had recently been diagnosed with diabetes and had consequently banned sugar from his cupboard, but the doorstep was remarkably hag-free, and just as remarkably occupied by Finn Hudson.
Kurt did a double-take. Of course it wasn’t unusual for Finn to show up at his door, especially considering they had shared this flat for the first two years of college, but it was pretty surprising that Finn would show up tonight—four days before his wedding.
“Hey there. Um, can I…?” The boy – the man, Kurt corrected himself, because there was a kind of somber edge to Finn’s face that he had somehow failed to notice while they were still living together – let himself in without waiting for an answer.
“Sure thing.” Kurt closed the door behind him, watching Finn curiously as he went to sit on the couch, sprawling on it like he’d done every night for months. “What’s up? Not that I’m not glad to see you, but we picked your wedding outfit two weeks ago, and I rather thought you’d spend these precious days practising your vows.”
Finn rolled his eyes. “I should. Quinn will probably kill me if I get them wrong.”
Kurt grimaced in sympathy and said nothing, because yes, Quinn probably would.
He was still having a bit of trouble adjusting to the fact that Finn was about to marry Quinn Fabray: everything had happened so quickly that he doubted whether Finn himself had even really wrapped his head around the idea.
It seemed like this was the outcome of a haphazard chain of facts that had come tumbling one after the other; a chain that had started right after graduation, when they had all been giddy with high hopes and brand-new adulthood.
Kurt and Rachel were headed for New York and their dreams of glory. Rachel and Finn had still been an item back then, and everyone thought they were endgame, Finn included. That was why he’d gambled and enrolled at a New York college even though he’d never planned to, trying to keep up with his talented, high-maintenance girlfriend. And he’d almost managed. Almost.
Rachel and Finn had spent their first year in college breaking up and making up, which was nothing new really, but slowly it had started to morph into something different. Rachel was in love with the city and working herself to the bone to hit the big time on Broadway, and Finn… was just Finn. Too meek, too normal, too Ohio. Eventually they had each come to their own conclusion: Rachel had decided Finn wasn’t trying hard enough, Finn had grown certain he would never be enough.
The breakup had been amicable, but Finn had never been the same. Kurt, worried but unable to do anything about it, had watched him grow restless and unsatisfied, his carefree demeanor gradually chipped down by the bitter knowledge that he had tried to be special enough for Rachel’s New York dreams, and he had failed.
Near the end of the second year of college, Finn – despite Kurt’s most heartfelt attempts to dissuade him – had dropped out and started working at Starbucks. He’d learned how to make damn fine coffee, but it had done nothing to ease his dissatisfaction.
And then in the spring of the following year, while Kurt was busy studying for finals, Finn had taken a two-week vacation and gone back to Lima, where he’d run into Quinn, who was also back there for a spell, and things had just happened. Kurt wondered if there was something in the DNA of certain people – he mentally categorised them as ‘Kens’ and ‘Barbies’ – that compelled them to keep falling back on each other, in spite of a history of several failed attempts at being a couple.
By September they were entertaining a long-distance relationship while Finn gathered his things in New York. Kurt had been pretty sad to see him go; finding a new housemate would be hard, after sharing for so long with one of his best friends, not to mention stepbrother. They’d had a lot of practice living together back in high-school, and they’d only grown more and more comfortable with each other as time passed, in spite of the painfully obvious differences between them.
By the time winter rolled around, Finn and Quinn were engaged. Finn had proposed to her on New Year’s Eve, which Kurt maintained was absolutely corny, but secretly envied. Quinn had accepted without losing a moment: after all, this had more or less been her plan since freshman year of high school. They’d told their families and friends, received the obligatory congratulations, then proceeded to make a down payment on an apartment with Finn’s Starbucks money and – for the most part, to be honest – Mrs. Fabray's divorce money.
Which brought them to the present point: four days away from the date of the wedding – to be celebrated on the 20th of March in Lima, Ohio – and one Finn Hudson sprawled on Kurt’s couch in New York.
A Finn who declared: “I have a problem.”
Kurt frowned. “A problem so grievous that you had to fly all the way here? Did you manage to somehow destroy all the cummerbunds in the state of Ohio?”
“Don’t tell me: Quinn suddenly decided she wants a designer wedding gown but you spent everything on the down payment for the apartment and she wants me to sew her one from scratch. Not that I couldn’t, it would just be a rush.”
“No, dude, it’s just…”
Kurt gasped. “Dad decided he wants the first dance with the bride? I have to somehow talk him out of it! Not that you’d do a much better job, but sadly you have to dance with the bride, so…”
“Your dad is fine, Kurt, it’s only…”
“Oh my God! Carole is still angry at Quinn for lying to you about the baby and they got into a catfight the way that future wives and mother-in-laws are bound to, and now Quinn is bald à la Britney?”
“I didn’t think Carole had it in her, but even so, I’m sure we could find some marvellous hair extensions, just let me phone Mercedes and--”
“Kurt—Kurt, stop!” Finn yelled, the sudden outburst finally arresting Kurt in his increasingly dramatic rambles. Finn looked at him for a while, uneasy, running his hands over his thighs nervously. And then he dropped the bomb.
“I don’t think I wanna get married anymore.”
In the stunned silence that followed the words, Kurt blinked once, then twice, then he croaked: “But… the wedding is in four days!” which was probably stating the obvious, but also seemed pretty damned important right now.
“I… I know. I know, okay? It’s just—everything is such a mess. I don’t, I don’t even know what I want. I should be happy, right? I should be in seventh heaven, whatever that means – God knows Quinn is having the time of her life picking flower arrangements and crap – but I just don’t… I just don’t feel it. You know?”
Kurt sat down on the opposite end of the couch, breathing deeply, because while it was like Finn to suddenly have some big identity crisis and turn the world upside down, this? This was taking it to a whole new level.
“Finn—are you asking me to understand how it would be okay for you to propose to someone and then stand them up at the altar out of sheer panic? Because I honestly don’t think I can. I actually think that if you do that I may have to shun you for a considerable amount of time, and then give Quinn a makeover and call you nasty names in front of her.”
Finn ran his hands through his hair, frustrated, looking every bit like a trapped animal. “I know. I know it’s shitty and I’m acting like a fucking immature little kid, but it’s just…” his voice died. He took a deep breath and started over: “It’s not so recent as it seems. I started having second thoughts as soon as I asked her. I even told her, but she…”
“She told you to man up and see it through," Kurt nodded. It wasn't a question. It was such a Quinn thing to do—once she could see a chance for her plans to unfold, she wouldn’t give up until everyone else agreed with her.
“Yeah. She said it was just nervousness, which seemed a good explanation as any, and I thought it would pass, except… it didn’t.” He looked up with sheepish eyes. It failed to impress Kurt in the least.
“And so you thought that this was the appropriate time to change your mind,' he said, his voice sharp. “And not even openly, you just, what, sneaked out of the house and jumped on a plane?”
“Kurt, come on, give me a break, would you?!” Finn sounded desperate. “I didn’t even change my mind, I’m just—I’m just stuck and confused and I feel like crap and I needed to talk to someone, okay? Is that such a big deal? When I lived here, we used to talk stuff over all the time!”
The accusation lingered in the air for a moment. It was true. They’d been a pretty good team. Finn had listened, with surprising patience, whenever Kurt ranted and bitched about incompetent talent-seekers who couldn’t see the potential of his voice, pretentious jerks who thought, just because they were born in New York, that they knew everything about fashion, and slutty guys who tried to charm their way into his designer pants. Kurt, on the other hand, had taken care of Finn during the Big Rachel Breakdown, nursed him back to soberness whenever he’d get caught up in some stupid frat house party and come home wasted, and seen to it that the boy didn’t poison himself with a dietary regime of Snickers and Slim Jims. Yeah, all in all… a pretty good team.
And even though a teenage era spent watching romantic comedies about assholes who abandoned their girlfriends at the altar was suggesting that he kick Finn out the door, the sight of his closest friend about to break into pieces on his couch was more than enough to melt his resolve.
He scooted closer, stroking Finn’s hair once, soothingly, and asked: “What is this really about, Finn? Is it… are you not over Rachel yet? Because honestly I thought we’d been there and done that…”
“No. No, it’s not Rachel. At first I thought it was, because man, that was heartbreak with a big H, but just… I look at her picture and I know there’s nothing for me there, not anymore. And that’s okay. It feels strange to say it, but it really is okay.”
“Okay. Then… what is it?”
Finn took a shuddering breath, looking like he wanted to curl up into a ball on Kurt’s lap, which considering his size was not only unadvisable but probably dangerous. When he spoke up his voice was quiet, subdued.
“I don’t want to be a Lima loser.”
“It’s just—I just—I was so sure that I was destined to something bigger. Something better. Something more than a house in the suburbs and a blue-collar life, a mortgage and 2.5 kids.” He breathed in deeply, like he was seconds away from crying. “Except—except I’m not. I tried to live the high life like you and Rachel and Mercedes, but as much as I tried, it always seemed like I was lacking, and I just can’t keep up, and I thought I could be okay with it but I’m not, not really. I don’t belong in New York, and I don’t belong in Lima, and now it’s all a mess and Kurt, what do I do?” The last word sounded strangled, and tears actually brimmed in Finn’s eyes, which was okay, since a huge lump seemed to have appeared in Kurt’s throat, too. For a while he just patted Finn’s shoulder, enjoying the warmth radiating from his overgrown body, and trying to figure out what to say, because this really was a mess.
Eventually he swallowed and, looking out of the corner of his eye for a reaction, asked quietly: “Do you love Quinn?”
“Yeah.” Finn replied immediately. “Yes, I love her, it’s just—it doesn’t feel like…”
Kurt sighed. “Like fireworks and violins and sappy choirs of angels?”
“Look, Finn… I hate to break it to you, but real life is not like in the movies.” Finn opened his mouth to speak, but Kurt quickly second-guessed him: “And don’t start in with your misguided theory on how Braveheart applies to all social situations. Listen, you got into something big here, and if you ever want to make it out of this mess, you have to snap out of this… romantic teenaged notion that love is supposed to change the world for you. If you care about Quinn, and she cares about you, that should be enough.”
Finn looked at him, slightly resentful, slightly ironic. “You don’t think that’s a bit rich, coming from you?”
And yeah, okay, Finn had a point; Kurt was, after all, the one who had broken it off with Blaine after more than a year, precisely because it didn’t feel like fireworks, violins and sappy angelic choirs.
“That was different. Blaine and I were…” he waved a hand around. “And you and Quinn, you are... well, you’re getting married!” he concluded a bit lamely, because that seemed to be the most relevant difference his brain could think of.
Finn shook his head, slumping back against the couch. “I’m a mess.” he whispered.
Kurt could feel his heart beginning to ache with the bitterness of the situation, so he forced his voice to be chipper: “Look Finn, this is ridiculous. It is the easiest thing in the world for a man – especially a straight one – to freak out before tying the knot. It’s a big step, but I’m inclined to think Quinn is right: you’re just panicking, and it will all be right as rain soon enough. okay?”
“Yeah.” Finn smiled weakly, an utterly false smile, like there was something he was holding out on, but Kurt knew from experience that if that was indeed the case, he had little hope to make the other guy fess up until he spontaneously decided to. So instead he got up and grabbed his jacket.
“Get up, you big lug, I’m taking you out to meet a friend of mine.”
“A friend? Like, a girl?” Finn marvelled, eyes wide.
“No, Finn. Actually, not a girl.”
“Oh. What’s his name then?”