Finn isn't usually the first one to figure it out when somebody likes somebody else.
He isn't usually even the second or the third.
(Sometimes he's the fourth. He always beats Brittany.)
This stuff just moves so fast, both in general and especially in Glee; he can't keep track. One week two people are singing together while holding hands and the next they're throwing biology textbooks at each other. But this is a special situation: Finn's friends with one person, and the other one -- well, it's complicated, and still a little weird once in a while, but he's almost Finn's stepbrother. Their parents are getting married; they live together. As such (Finn knows he's been hanging out with Rachel a lot when he starts thinking the same way that she talks), Finn starts noticing stuff.
Stuff like how Sam always goes out of his way to say hey to Kurt, even when he came over to play GoldenEye with Finn. Finn will take a pee break and come back to find Sam telling really bad jokes in the basement. He didn't really think anything of it, at first. Sam had just broken up with Quinn and Kurt was still dating that guy from Dalton Academy, and that was that.
But slowly, Finn started to realize just how much time Kurt and Sam spent together. Glee rehearsals, French tutoring, study hall in the library -- they even sat together at lunch sometimes, when Sam moved to eat with Glee. The day after Kurt's boyfriend ended things between them, the only person Kurt would speak more than one irritated sentence to at a time was Sam. Finn kept catching the two of them talking together in low tones and then immediately starting up about Glee or homework or (once, and the look on Kurt's face when Sam said his first sentence was pretty priceless) Avatar as soon as somebody else came near them. Something was up; Finn wasn't stupid. He could tell that much. Sam looked kind of freaked out, but he looked even more freaked out the one time Finn asked him if everything was cool, so Finn figured he wouldn't do that again and he'd let Kurt handle whatever it was.
But that was all last fall; they're well into the end of the basketball tournament season by now, and Sam doesn't look panicked anymore when he and Kurt have quiet conversations that get interrupted.
Sam is at the Hudson/Hummel house pretty often, around basketball and lacrosse and glee and Cheerios schedules. Kurt is better at languages than the two of them combined, so sometimes, he can be talked into helping them with their homework. He's gotten way better about Rachel being around, too, though she's in Columbus at a production of Chicago with her dads tonight.
Finn shakes his head with a deep frown. He is never, ever going to get the subjunctive Spanish verb tense right. "I've got to get a pop," he says, getting up off the living room couch and stretching. "My brain is bouncing off the insides of my head."
"Grab me one, man?" Sam asks, glancing up from the French verbs that Kurt is mercilessly drilling him on.
"Kurt?" Finn asks.
"No, thank you," says Kurt absently. "My brain is fine where it is."
In the kitchen, Finn toes off his sneakers and kicks them underneath the counter. He wiggles his toes inside his socks, then goes rummaging through the fridge and the cabinets. He comes out with two cans of Coke (Diet; the heart attack was more than six months ago and Burt's doing fine, but Kurt still rules over his dad's diet with an iron fist) and a bag of low-sodium tortilla chips.
Finn pauses in the space between the living room and the kitchen. Either he's so quiet in his socks that they don't hear him or they're just not paying attention to him, but Kurt is reading something ridiculously fancy in French out loud, leaning over the book on the table, and Sam is-- Sam is staring at Kurt while Kurt's not looking, and, yeah, okay, Finn would probably pee himself a little if Rachel could talk French like that (note to Finn's self: find out if Rachel has taken any French classes), but he'd like to think he wouldn't look quite that ...
Which is when it hits Finn like the entire Titans offensive line tackling him at once.
"Holy crap," Finn mutters, and then he realizes he said that out loud and his eyes widen, and he turns back toward the fridge before Kurt can glance up or, more importantly, Sam can realize that he was watching.
"What did you do?" Kurt calls.
"Uh -- nothing!" Finn yells back. "I mean, I, uh -- I stubbed my toe!" And then he stubs his toe against the refrigerator, and he has to keep his hiss of pain in between his teeth. That was stupid. Why did he do that? Panic; Finn is not good at handling panic.
The toe-stubbing incident opens the floodgates. Finn notices Sam looking at Kurt all the time. He kind of would have expected it to be weird; it was a little weird when Kurt first started dating his ex-boyfriend. But it's not weird. It's mostly kind of sad. Finn remembers what it's like to watch someone like that, wishing you could be with them so bad that you feel like you might die a little.
He's gone back and forth on his conclusion a couple of times, mostly coming up against his "but Sam doesn't act gay" stumbling block, but he remembers that Kurt's boyfriend hadn't been into fashion or any of that stuff, either, and every time Finn sees Sam smile at Kurt or watch him while the club performs, or say really stupid stuff when he's trying to make Kurt laugh, Finn becomes a little more sure.
Sam totally likes Kurt.
Finn thinks about that, too, and he decides he's cool with it. Sam's a good guy and Kurt is -- and this would have totally shocked Finn-of-two-years-ago -- pretty much the coolest-possible almost-stepbrother and he deserves someone awesome like Sam, and Finn thinks they're both maybe kind of lonely, and they get along great and Sam is even already Burt-approved, after all the time he's spent hanging out at the house. The more he thinks about it, the more Finn actually thinks that Kurt and Sam dating would be kind of awesome.
There's just one problem with the whole idea.
If Kurt likes Sam, he has gotten a lot more subtle about showing this kind of stuff.
He doesn't sing any love songs in front of the entire Glee Club and he doesn't stare all moon-eyed and intent like Sam does, so Finn doesn't know how to figure it out, except he knows he definitely can't ask Kurt. He debates asking Rachel what she thinks, but decides that that's a really bad idea, since he loves Rachel but she sucks at keeping secrets more than anybody he knows. He could ask his mom, and he really thinks about that one; his mom is really good with people and she can keep a secret, and he thinks she'd get excited for Kurt.
Kurt would totally kill him if he ever found out that Finn had talked to Carole about his love life, though, and Finn generally likes being alive. It's all warm and stuff.
He's still internally debating it when the crap hits the fan.
dude, where r u?
come to santanas
Sitting in Finn's lap, Rachel peers at his cell phone screen. "Sam texts even worse than you do," she says, her arm wound around his neck. She's wearing a really, really short skirt. It's killing Finn a little.
"He's dyslexic, Rachel," Finn points out. "He gets the letters messed up."
"Well," says Rachel, "that's--" and then several unsteady voices rise together in the beginnings of something that Finn half-recognizes as a Disney song, and Rachel's face goes into intense-Rachel-mode. "They're getting it wrong!" she protests. She looks Finn in the eye. "Do you m--"
"Go," says Finn, as fondly as he can when she's wiggling like that, and Rachel beams, plants a smacking kiss on his mouth, and hurries off, already starting to shout vocal directions.
Finn thinks they're all probably kind of lucky that Rachel refuses to drink, other than wine on Jewish holidays.
He glances over his shoulder at Rachel and Brittany's sing-along (he's both kind of surprised and kind of not, to see that Brittany was the one to start singing stuff from The Little Mermaid), and then he quickly lifts his cell phone again. He thinks about the call that he got that afternoon, after Kurt had stormed into the house ahead of him and started playing loud music.
("Is, uh, Kurt there?" Sam's voice had asked.
"...Yep," Finn had said, as the bass line of whatever Kurt was listening to downstairs had kicked in and a pen had rattled on the coffee table.
"Do you know if he's just, like ... not answering his phone?"
"He might not be able to hear it," Finn had suggested truthfully, and then he'd heard a distinct ringtone shrill in the basement; the music had gone down and Kurt had come up the stairs a few seconds later, talking to somebody about watching a movie tonight.
As Kurt had disappeared into the kitchen, Finn had said dubiously, "That's not you, is it?" and Sam had said, "What?")
Now, Finn thinks about it for a couple of seconds, then he texts Sam back again. He's going to get to the bottom of this, he decides. He's sort of the captain of glee, and the captain can't let the team tear itself apart, right?
its just me rachel santna brittney mike tina puck artie. nobody else coming.
Just as Finn notices Puck headed his way with two beers in his hand, his phone buzzes.
Finn's a little bit drunk. He thinks.
He's laughing, anyway, lying flat on his back in the grass in Santana Lopez's backyard while her parents are on vacation in Florida. It's April in Ohio. There's no snow on the ground, but his back is cold and wet even through his coat and he can't feel his nose.
Sam is definitely drunk, sprawled a foot or two away. Distant voices drift toward them from the house; a general triumphant shout goes up, with Santana's shriek of protest rising above them all. Sam starts laughing all over again. "Santana's the sorest loser I've ever met."
"She scares me," Finn says, "a little."
"Dude, she scares me a lot," Sam retorts, turning his head toward him, and Finn makes an snorting noise of agreement, and then they both laugh, because he snorted.
("Come on!" Santana is yelling angrily inside the house. "Come on!")
The screen door slides open. "Hey," Puck hollers from the Lopez's deck. "Hudson! Evans! What're you two gaywads doing out here?"
"Not cool, Puck!" Finn yells back.
Even lying down, he can see Puck's distant figure wave a dismissive hand at them -- probably while rolling his eyes -- and then go back inside with a slam of the sliding door.
"What wasn't cool?" asks Sam, and Finn blinks.
"Calling us gaywads?" he asks, hesitant because he's not totally sure what Sam is asking him or why (obviously it wasn't cool to call them gaywads), and when he glances to the side, he finds Sam studying him with a frown.
Finn sobers up enough to realize that this is a slightly more serious conversation than the dopest Bon Jovi songs or how to kill a bear in Red Dead Redemption. "Like -- using gaywad as a slam. That's stupid. I mean," Finn searches his memory for the right word, "it's offensive, and it's stupid. Stupid." Beat. He asks: "Is gaywad even a word?"
"Pretty sure it's not. And you said stupid already," Sam points out. "A couple times."
"Well, it is stupid!" Finn insists. "Like it's some insult to call somebody gay. Whatever." Okay, maybe it's not the most eloquent thing he's ever said, but he's kind of proud. He just called Puck on being a douchebag, and it was no big deal, and he did it on his own. He tries to be better about it and he definitely is now, but sometimes, without Kurt beside him to stiffen up and fiercely pretend it doesn't affect him when somebody says that stuff, Finn forgets to tell people to shut up. This time, he remembered. It was reflex.
And now he's thinking about Kurt.
"Dude, what is up with you and Kurt?" Finn asks like it's a totally logical progression.
From the suddenly much-less-drunk expression on Sam's face, Finn thinks maybe he shouldn't have been quite so direct.
"Uhhh," says Sam. He looks wary and guarded and maybe -- maybe -- a little scared.
"He didn't say anything or ... anything," Finn tells him. "He just came home really--" Mad? Upset? Hurt? He doesn't know what the word is for what Kurt was. (He went straight into the basement and started blasting the Spice Girls, which, Finn is realizing belatedly, was a decision calculated to keep both Finn and Burt out of his room. A successful decision.) Finn pulls a face so he doesn't have to come up with a descriptive word, and he asks, "What'd you do?"
"I don't know!" Sam groans, and he covers his face with his hands. That's one of the things Finn likes about Sam. Puck -- and probably Kurt, too -- would totally take offense at the question that Finn asked. Sam just goes with it. "I really thought he w--" And then it's like his brain catches up to his mouth, and he lowers his hands and shoots Finn a sidelong look through the grass.
Finn stares blankly back at him.
"I can't decide if this is gonna freak you out or not," Sam says, finally.
"Probably not," says Finn. "Unless it's, you know, freaky."
"That's helpful." Finn gets the impression that Sam is rolling his eyes at him, though not in a bad way. He suddenly seems very interested in the bottle of beer that he's holding; he starts picking at the label. "I'm bi," he says, out of nowhere.
Finn concentrates really, really hard on being sober. "You're ... leaving?" (It's not working.)
"No," laughs Sam in one short breath. "Like -- I like girls. And I like guys."
Wow. So much of the last month, when Finn had thought Sam was only commenting on hot girls because he felt like he had to, makes a lot more sense now. And the whole Quinn thing, how genuinely they'd seemed to like each other and what Finn had seen of Sam's flirting with her -- that, too.
"Oh," says Finn, after a half a second's thought. He shrugs easily against the grass. "Okay."
Sam lifts his head and stares at Finn. There's a bunch of grass and twigs and stuff in his hair. "Really? 'Okay'? It's that easy?"
"Well, you're into Kurt, right?" Finn says practically, and Sam chokes a little. "I've gotta be honest, I kind of thought you were gay."
Sam is gaping at him. It's like he's a fish. He seriously does have a huge mouth.
"I figured it out last month, dude," Finn says, not unsympathetically. "You weren't really that subtle."
Sam finally shuts his mouth; he looks rueful. "I guess not," he says, propped up on his elbow. "You seem..." he's watching Finn with sightly narrowed eyes, "pretty okay with this."
"Yep," says Finn, folding his hands over his stomach. "I think you guys dating would be cool."
He stares at Finn for a couple of seconds, and then he laughs like he's relieved and surprised at the same time, and maybe a little disbelieving, too. "Man, you have no idea how long I've been avoiding telling you this stuff."
Finn can see his breath in the air when he asks, "Why?"
"It's a little weird, with your parents and everything, and then that time I was supposed to sing a duet with Kurt and you tried to talk me out of it-- I kind of figured that if you disapproved of just singing with him, you really wouldn't be into -- you know."
"No, see--" Finn has given that a lot of thought. "I was wrong about that. It was stupid. I mean -- I was totally right that some of the guys would have tried to beat the crap out of you if they found out you sang with Kurt, but you guys were good with it. I should have left it alone. Or, like, landed a monster hit on Azimio in practice."
Sam finally smiles; he even laughs, for real this time. It makes Finn feel a little less worried that he might be sucking at this conversation. "I, uh, I kind of did that all the time," Sam admits, with that half-grin of his. "I think Coach figured it out; by the end of the season, she kept putting us on the same team in scrimmages so I couldn't hit him."
Until this moment, even during those months of Kurt facing steadily worsening bullying at the hands of Azimio and his buddies from the hockey team, Finn had never even thought of taking the opportunity to whale on Azimio in practice. "Does Kurt know you're into guys?" he asks, trying to change the subject away from the belated uneasy twinge of guilt in his stomach.
"What? Yeah," Sam says, like it's a weird question. "He was the first person I told a couple months ago, when I started freaking out about it. He helped me out."
"Wait," says Finn. "So you guys are already--"
"No," he says. "No, it was all -- you know. Friendly. Kurt said there wasn't anything wrong with me and told me what it was like dealing with people who made all these assumptions about you, and he looked up some PFLAG meetings in Findlay so there were people who could tell my mom it wasn't the end of the world and -- that kind of stuff. Except then--" Sam flops over onto his back again, with a whoosh of breath. Maybe he is still drunk after all.
"You started liking him?" Finn guesses, after Sam doesn't finish whatever he was going to say. (He thinks he's right. He is getting so awesome at this emotional stuff! He's pretty sure it's from dating Rachel; she makes him sing about his feelings all the time.)
"I think I liked him way before I started dealing with the whole bi thing, too." It sounds like it's hard for Sam to say; he's looking up at the night sky. There's a plane passing way, way overhead, barely visible except for a slowly blinking red light. "It just took me, like, six months to admit it."
Finn blinks at him. "Wait. Did you admit it?"
"Yeah." Sam sounds sheepish. "Well. I mean." He rises up onto his side again and shoots Finn a very suspicious intent look. "You're sure you're not gonna get weird about this."
"Have I been weird about it so far?" It's kind of a rhetorical question, and kind of not. Finn is just checking.
"No," Sam says, slowly, and then he adds suddenly: "I kissed him." (Finn knows he's supposed to avoid being weird, but he can't help it if his eyes widen a little.) "I wasn't thinking and we were talking at his locker after glee and I don't even really know what I said, I just kissed him."
Finn tries to picture it, but he keeps getting stuck on how weird Kurt had been on the car ride home. "What'd Kurt do?"
"Stood there for a couple seconds, then asked me how much crack I'd smoked during rehearsal," Sam says bleakly.
When Finn steps out of the passenger side of Rachel's car, there are people at the front door of the house. Crap. He unconsciously straightens up (Rachel toots the horn twice, lightly, and Finn absently waves when she drives off) and considers diving into the hedge to escape his mom's sharp eye, but then relaxes as he realizes that it's just Mercedes and Quinn leaving.
"Hey," says Mercedes as he comes up the front walkway.
"Hey guys." Finn can totally be nonchalant. He's only a little tipsy. "You should've come to Santana's; it was actually pretty cool."
Quinn scoffs. It's a reaction that would be a snort on anyone else, but Quinn's way too much of a girl for that. She pulls her coat more securely around her. It looks kind of funny to see her with her hair down again. "Please," she says. She and Santana are apparently still locked in an epic power struggle.
"Seriously," Finn insists. "It was just glee; she didn't invite anybody else."
"Probably 'cause she didn't want to be seen partying with us," Mercedes says, and Finn can't argue with that one. He just shrugs, probably goofily, and Quinn faintly shakes her head as she studies him. "Listen, I know you two are having a moment and everything," says Mercedes, and Finn is like, crap, are they?? "but it's cold out here, you guys."
"You go ahead; I'll be there in a second," Quinn says, and Mercedes shoots the two of them a dubious look, but goes to start her dad's car.
"Hi, drunkie," Quinn says to Finn, once Mercedes is a couple feet away. Her lips are pursed. Even when they were dating, Finn was never totally sure if that was an amused look or an "I am so disappointed in you" look.
"Only a little," he says, holding his thumb and forefinger up, close together. Quinn smiles like she wants to roll her eyes.
"I realize that thinking isn't your strong suit," she says, but she lays a hand on his arm and it takes the sting out of her words, "but I think you should give Kurt some space."
Finn's eyebrows furrow. "What do you mean?"
"I mean he pretended all night that nothing was wrong, but he got awfully prickly whenever the subject of Santana's party and who would be there came up. Maybe you should leave well enough alone." Quinn is devastatingly pretty like this, standing out in the cold with her hair framing her face as she looks up at him. It's been a long time since she's touched him; they've only just started talking again within the last couple months.
Finn doesn't feel anything for her except admiration and a kind of old, leftover fondness.
And a little awe at her psychic powers.
Okay, Quinn is probably not a psychic. But it's a little freaky that she could somehow tell that he'd been planning to go talk to Kurt.
"Okay," he tells Quinn; "I will. I'm just going to bed, anyway."
Three minutes later, he's knocking at the basement door.
Finn had originally just intended to say hey and goodnight, seriously, especially after the muffled music got louder after his first knock. Except then there are footsteps coming toward the kitchen, and Finn spins around looking for somewhere, anywhere to hide; the addition with his room is way too far to escape into and the kitchen is totally open.
"Finn?" asks his mom's voice from just around the corner.
"Hi Mom going downstairs!" Finn calls back, and then he dives through the basement door and shuts it behind him. He scrambles down the steps as fast as he dares.
Kurt is sitting at the vanity table with his back to the mirror and his arms folded. He's looking at Finn with his eyebrows raised over a seriously unimpressed face. The stereo system is playing Katy Perry, even louder than it sounded upstairs. The ending credits from some movie are still scrolling across the TV, and there is a whole mess of bottles and aerosol cans and cotton balls and all kinds of stuff that Finn can't begin to guess at the uses for, spread across the vanity behind Kurt.
"Sorry," says Finn desperately, still half-listening for a voice from upstairs; "sorry, dude; I had a couple beers and my mom has this, like, freaky sixth sense--"
"By all means," says Kurt. "Invade my personal space to hide your underage drinking from your mother." He's mad but he can't be that mad (can he?), because he turns his back on Finn and starts putting the caps on some of the bottles and neatly putting everything back in its proper place.
Finn always feels kind of big and messy and clumsy in Kurt's room. Kurt went back to the all-gray minimalism after ... well, the time or two that Kurt has had to reference the incident, he's called it Basementgate 2010, which works for Finn. He feels even more out of place than usual tonight, thanks to the fuzziness in his head and the fact that he just tracked mud all down the stairs and is standing there in his hat and coat, listening for sounds from the kitchen while barely able to hear himself think over crashing dance-pop music.
He doesn't realize he's wincing until Kurt eyes him in the mirror, exhales, and then picks up a remote and Katy Perry's voice suddenly fades to just above a whisper. The sheer change in sound levels is a little like getting punched.
"Thanks," Finn says gratefully.
"You should be drinking water." Kurt still sounds irritated, but Finn thinks he knows Kurt well enough by now to recognize an invitation when he hears one.
"Yeah," Finn says, like it just occurred to him (because it just did). "Do you mind--?" He makes a vague gesture in the direction of the bathroom.
Before he's even finished, Kurt offers a glass over his shoulder without glancing back at him; Finn smiles a little, then carefully kicks off his shoes and leaves his coat at the foot of the stairs. He crosses the basement, takes the glass out of Kurt's hand, and goes into the bathroom to fill it up. The bathroom is just as neatly laid out as the rest of Kurt's stuff. Finn's pretty sure that if he opened the medicine cabinet, there would be row after row of hair and face products.
When he comes back out and flops across the couch, Kurt is dabbing at his nose with a cotton ball. Finn has learned not to ask unless he wants to get pulled into a 20-minute conversation about strict skincare regimens. There's a DVD box set resting on the arm of the sofa; Finn reaches over to snag it. It's a collection of three Audrey Hepburn movies, with Sabrina missing; Breakfast at Tiffany's is still in the case, and so is -- "Roman Holiday," Finn reads. "Rachel loves this movie."
"Rachel has good taste, when it comes to certain things," Kurt comments, like it physically pains him to admit it. (But Finn knows that most of it is just habit; Kurt and Rachel are actually pretty good now.) Is he plucking his eyebrows?? "I'm surprised she hasn't made you watch it."
"It's good?" Finn asks.
"It's a classic," Kurt corrects.
So they watch Roman Holiday.
By the end, Finn is completely sober. "Wait, so -- they never get together?" he asks in astonishment. "Ann just goes back to being a princess and Joe is a writer and that's it?"
"That's it," Kurt confirms, and his voice sounds kind of funny. When Finn glances over at him, Kurt is a little glassy-eyed. "They're too different."
Oh, crap. Kurt looks way too sad for this to just be about the movie. Something in Finn's stomach twists.
"That's stupid," Finn says as kindly as he can, drawing a startled glance from Kurt. "I mean, they liked each other that much, and they didn't even try?"
Finn's not the best guy with subtle cues, but Kurt's several-second flustered silence? Not subtle.
This is the exact moment when Finn decides that he is going to be a yentl, like in that musical about an old-school Jewish family that Rachel made him watch.
"They were from very different worlds, Finn," Kurt says sharply, getting up off the couch and going to get the DVD out of the player. Finn isn't entirely sure if Kurt realizes that Finn knows that this is a code. "And Ann was an idiot."
Okay, maybe Kurt does realize.
(Does this mean that Sam is a princess in this metaphor?)
"How?" Finn asks. "How was she an idiot?"
Kurt stands there in front of the TV for a long, long minute, and then he turns around with his hand on his hip. "Are we actually having the conversation that I think we're having, or am I giving you way too much credit?"
"Uhhh," says Finn. "What conversation do you think we're having?" (Kurt glares at him incredulously.) "Because I kind of think you're saying Sam is Audrey Hepburn, which confuses me a little, but I can deal."
"Are you still drunk?"
"No," says Finn. "I haven't been for, like, an hour."
Kurt turns off the TV, and then he says, "What do you want, Finn?" He sounds more tired, if still tense, than mad. "Are you going to tell me to back off lest my gayness infect his social status? Because I'm pretty sure we've already had that conversation."
"No." Finn says it a little more forcefully than he means to and Kurt looks like he forces himself not to jump. "Sorry," he adds; "no." He leans forward, looking right at Kurt. "Kurt, I was wrong about that stuff, and I'm sorry I said it. The -- stuff about how you shouldn't sing with Sam, and ... stuff." Finn sucks at this. He means it, though; hopefully that counts for something. "I just thought ... you guys are into each other."
"Not that I don't appreciate the sudden unexpected show of support," Kurt says sharply (he kind of sounds like he doesn't), "but Finn, if you try to play yenta with me, I will kill you, I swear."
Yenta, not yentl. Right.
"Seriously," says Kurt. "Don't interfere. Stay out of it."
"But I don't th--"
Kurt is having none of this conversation. He can be a little scary, when he wants to be. "Finn," he snaps. "Promise you won't do anything."
"I don't get it, Kurt."
"You don't have to get it; just promise me."
Finn promises Kurt he won't do anything.
"I promised Kurt I wouldn't do anything," Finn explains. "That's why I need a partner."
Hugging her notebooks close to her body, Quinn stares up at him like he is the biggest moron who has ever walked the face of the planet. Finn really did not miss that stare after they broke up. "Let me get this straight," she says, her voice quiet but clear. "You, my ex-boyfriend, want me to help you hook up Sam, my other ex-boyfriend, with a guy."
"With Kurt," Finn corrects, because it's not just some guy; it's Kurt, who helped him pick out something to wear when he met Rachel's dads, and who goes over and over Spanish vocabulary flash cards with him, and who showed Finn how to change the oil in an engine, and who doesn't laugh when he sings along with Nicki Minaj songs on the radio.
Quinn stares at him for another couple of seconds and then she lowers her gaze to shake her head and laugh. "Oh my God," she says to her perfect white Keds. "Okay." Her eyes snap back up. "First of all, Finn -- the hallway?" She points out at the students moving past them. "Really? Next time, try a phone call or -- or an empty classroom or something, okay?"
He's been talking very quietly, but that ... probably would have been a better idea. "Okay," Finn says.
"Second--" Quinn sighs. "Why me? Don't you have a troll of a girlfriend who's perfectly happy to meddle in other people's lives?"
"Don't call her that but yeah, and I love her," Finn says, kind of used to ignoring Quinn's comments about Rachel by now, "but she's not really great at ... sneaky, or keeping secrets."
"Oh." Quinn laughs, but she doesn't sound like she actually finds it funny. "Okay, so you came and asked the sneaky ex-girlfriend who's an amazing liar?"
"No," Finn protests. "I asked you because you're -- subtle, and you wouldn't tell anybody." And because she's a master manipulator and if anybody can maneuver two people together, it's Quinn Fabray, but Finn knows better than to say that, even if he actually means it in a good way.
She presses her fingertips to the side of her head and sighs. "Look, Finn, I understand what you're trying to do here and I actually think it's kind of sweet, if bizarre, but I can't do this."
"Why not? I mean -- you and Sam are cool, and you're friends with Kurt; you told them in Glee yesterday to get a room--" Realization smacks him in the face. His eyes widen. "Oh, crap, you don't still have a thing for Sam, do you?"
"No," says Quinn, like she might kill him a little, "I don't still have a thing for Sam. But Finn, I know Glee's whole thing is that it's this incestuous," she throws up a hand, "seething mass of relationships and ex-relationships, but you have to understand: this is weird for me." Finn opens his mouth, but Quinn is really going now and she doesn't let him get a word in. "It's really, really weird. And if your whole little plan works out, do you know how I'm going to be seen?"
Finn stares at her.
"I will be the girl who turned Sam Evans gay."
"I know it's not true," agrees Quinn. "You know it's not true. But everybody else in this crappy school?" She laughs, and again, she obviously doesn't mean it; he can hear the bitter, frustrated shake that she's holding back in her voice. "That's where everyone is going to take it, Finn, and -- I'm sorry, and I'm not going to say anything to anyone or do anything to try to stop you, but I have worked too hard to get back to where I was, to help with something that's going to bring me back down." She shakes her head resolutely, like she just made up her own mind, and she steps back. "It was totally unfair of you to ask me to do this. Find somebody else to be your weird partner in crime."
In retrospect -- Finn thinks as she slams her locker shut and walks off, wiping at her face -- that was not the most sensitive idea he has ever had.
"Okay," Rachel hisses as she clambers into the seat beside Finn. He furrows his eyebrows at her; she shoots him two wayyyy too enthusiastic thumbs up.
He totally loves Rachel and thinks she's amazing, but sometimes, she wigs him out a little.
"Okay!" says Mr. Schue, clapping his hands together and turning back around from talking to Ms. Pillsbury in the doorway. (Ms. P waves at them, then ducks back into the hall. Somebody in the back row calls, "Save us!" after her.) Mr. Schue picks up the hat off the piano and gives it a wiggle, grinning at everybody. "Who's ready to shake things up a bit!"
Everybody in the seats choruses their groans and their flat responses.
Nobody likes that they don't get to pick their own partners.
"Guys, guys!" Mr. Schuester says, waving them all down. "I think we've been getting way too complacent again; this is a great opportunity for you to try something new! Mix things up! Really get to appreciate what everybody can do."
Finn feels Rachel tense up like a coiled spring beside him, and he knows from experience what's about to happen: she's going to hop out of her seat, stand beside Mr. Schuester, and lecture everybody on what a great idea this is, totally giving away that she was the one who suggested it in the first place. He quickly lunges to put an arm around her shoulder. It's not the most subtle or graceful move ever, but it keeps Rachel in her chair (if shooting him a funny look).
"Sneaky," Finn mutters in her ear, as a reminder.
"Okay, what have we got!" Mr. Schue pulls the first name out of the hat. "Brittany! Brittany, you'll be singing with--" He plucks out another scrap of paper; this one pink and covered in a giant name. "--Rachel!"
Finn glances at Rachel. Her mouth is hanging open a little. From behind them, Brittany says, "Does this mean we have to sing about cats?"
To be fair, Rachel is wearing a cat sweater.
"Quinn! You'll be with -- Artie."
"Holla," Artie says to Quinn, and she laughs and points to him across the risers that separate them.
"Mike and Mercedes."
"I'll take good care of your boy," Mercedes promises Tina, to appreciative laughter; "but we're gonna win this." Mike's grinning and he slaps Mercedes's outstretched hand hard enough that the sound echoes.
"Um, excuse me," says Quinn, lifting an elegant hand. "I think we've got that covered." She flicks a finger between herself and Artie. There is a chorus of friendly ohhhhhh's.
"I think it's a little early for the trash talk, guys," says Mr. Schue, laughing. "Let me at least finish picking partners first, okay? Sam." Rachel suddenly squeezes Finn's hand, really tight. "You're with Kurt." Rachel feels like she's trying to break Finn's fingers.
The silence is awkward. Nobody but Finn (and Quinn ... and Rachel ... okay, Finn probably needs to stop telling people) knows what happened between Sam and Kurt, but everybody has figured out that something's not right with the two of them. Kurt's been pretty obviously avoiding being alone with Sam for days.
Finn feels at least one set of eyes burning into the back of his head. He jiggles his foot, staring straight forward, and then belatedly decides that that just makes him look guilty, and that if he was surprised by this, he would probably turn around. So he does.
("Santana," says Mr. Schue, "you'll be performing with Tina.")
Kurt is staring at Finn with a sour, knowing expression; Sam, sitting on the opposite side of the group, looks a little shell-shocked.
Finn has his first doubts about his yenta plan.
After rehearsal, Kurt sweeps up and says, dead serious, "Whatever you're doing, you need to stop it right now."
"I didn't do anything," Finn protests, which is the truth. Rachel did it. Somehow. He actually has no idea how she rigged the hat process.
"Stop it," Kurt hisses, and then he links his arm with Tina's and falls into step beside her as she passes, which Finn guesses means he doesn't want a ride home.
On Thursday, Finn sits in the back row of American History and thus has the perfect view of the moment when Sam comes through the door and finds a red rose on his desk. Sam looks puzzled; Finn shrinks down in his seat, presses a hand to his face, and begins to regret ever telling Rachel about any of this.
On Friday morning, Rachel slips a sheet of notebook paper with dozens of suggestions for romantic duets into Kurt's locker.
"They're all perfectly tailored to his taste," Rachel assures Finn, going up on her tip-toes to kiss his cheek. "You'll see; this will definitely work." She beams at him and then ducks into her English class, leaving Finn standing in the hall, secure in the knowledge that Kurt is going to kill him.
"We need a song, Hudson," Puck says, coming out of nowhere, and Finn goes, "Yagh!" in surprise, but Puck continues as if he didn't just scare the crap out of Finn like an a-hole (he's smirking, though, so he definitely noticed). "I want that mystery prize, but more importantly, I need to not look like a weenie in front of Quinn."
"We're not going to look like weenies," Finn says reflexively.
"Seriously," says Puck, "I know we're all equal-opportunity gay friendly now and crap, but I'm not singing a love song to you, bro."
"I'm good with that," says Finn.
On Friday afternoon, Kurt corners Finn in the chemistry lab just after the lunch bell rings.
"Did you tell Rachel?" he demands. Kurt's pretty intimidating for a dude who's seven inches shorter than Finn and is wearing a see-through rain jacket over a purple plaid blazer.
"Uh," says Finn, freezing guiltily with his backpack only half zipped up. "What?"
"Seriously, Finn," Kurt snaps. "Leave it alone. It's not your life. You don't know how I feel or what was said."
Finn had originally meant to be so much more subtle than this, but that cat is definitely out of the bag, so he just throws in the towel and goes for it. "I don't get it," he says. "I know I don't have to, 'cause it's your life, but I want to. Sam really likes you, Kurt; he told me." (Mentally, he apologizes to Sam for breaking his trust. He knows it was the right decision when Kurt's mouth closes, opens, and closes.) "And I'm pretty sure you like him, too, so I guess I don't get what the problem is."
"The problem," says Kurt, and then he tells Finn exactly what Sam said just before he went in for the kiss.
"No," says Sam in the locker room on Friday afternoon, staring at Finn in horror with his shirt half-on over his head. "I didn't say that."
"I'm pretty sure you did," Finn says, both a little cautious and a little unfriendly.
"Shit," groans Sam. "I totally said that. Oh, God, I remember now. I panicked. It was a panic joke."
"A really bad joke," says Finn. "Not cool, dude."
"I know," says Sam, and he lets himself list to the side against his locker, which stops his fall with an echoing thunk as first his shoulder hits it, then his head.
On Friday after school, there is a chair wedged under the handle of the door into the chorus room.
Finn slows down in the hall and blinks at it, and he goes to reach for the chair -- then he catches a flash of red and white through the little glass window in the door and he stops in his tracks.
Sam is standing in the chorus room with his back to the door; he's wearing his lacrosse uniform with full pads, his helmet hanging in his hand by his side. He's talking earnestly to Kurt, who has his arms folded neatly over the Cheerios logo on his chest and is listening with an unreadable expression.
Finn can't actually hear their voices through the door and the general hallway noise from behind him, but he doesn't have to. He can tell that the talking is earnest thanks to 1) knowing Sam, 2) knowing that Sam is repeatedly apologizing, and 3) the way that Sam is borderline-flailing with his free hand.
Kurt reaches out and catches Sam's wrist, stilling him, and he lowers Sam's arm to his side before letting go. Kurt says something that makes Sam's shoulders stiffen up; Finn can see it even under the lacrosse pads. From the way that his head moves, it looks like Sam is talking again -- and then Kurt leans in and kisses him.
There is a second where Finn isn't entirely sure what to do with himself, and it looks like Kurt and Sam feel the same way. Then Sam cups the side of Kurt's face in his hand and Kurt grabs Sam's upper arm and a handful of the back of his jersey and they keep kissing, harder.
Finn belatedly realizes that he is standing in a McKinley High School hallway, spying on his sort-of-stepbrother's and one-of-his-best-friends' first real kiss, and he steps back.
Then he does a little dance.
It mostly involves him skittering his feet while yanking his whole arm in toward his body, elbow crooked and hand pulled into a fist, and hissing a triumphant, "Yesssss!" to himself.
Which is, of course, when someone says, "...Finn?" behind him. He spins around guiltily and Rachel is frowning at him like she's not totally sure if she approves of what's going on here. Finn feels something warm settle inside his chest at the sight of her. She is so smart; she's awesome. Before he can say anything, she's talking ("What are you--") and then she peers around him and her hand flies to her mouth; she steps right past him and goes up on her toes to look through the window in the door.
"Did you know that Kurt and Sam are making out in the chorus room?!" she hisses over her shoulder.
Finn grabs her hand and pulls her away from the door. "Rachel, maybe we should give them some privacy or something," he says, but he's laughing.
"Finn," she demands, stopping in the middle of the hallway a few feet away and refusing to be drawn away any farther; "do you know what this means?"
"... Yeah?" Finn says uncertainly. At least, he thinks he knows what it means. Dates, honesty, happiness, all the stuff Kurt (and Sam) deserves; catching even worse hell than usual if he dares to go into the basement without knocking first -- all of that. The way Rachel says it makes him unsure that that's what she means, though.
Rachel lowers her voice, beaming, and she tells him: "We did it."
That's the cool thing about Rachel -- she's obviously proud of them for helping to pull this off, yeah, but Finn also knows that the super pretty, kind of gentle smile on her face isn't just for him. Sure, her enthusiasm for the whole matchmaking thing had been a little scary and she'd said a whole lot of stuff that he hadn't really paid attention to about how it was about time that there was another power couple in the club to help promote group cohesion -- but he knows Rachel felt for Kurt and his loneliness, and that she is crazy happy for him right now.
Rachel holds up her fist to him; Finn cracks a grin again and bumps it with his, but a fist bump is definitely not enough. He throws an arm around her as she laughs her surprise into his chest, and then he tells her, "You're a genius!" Rachel's hands flex on his shoulders as she starts to pull back out of the hug. "I never would have thought to lock them in a room together til they talked!" Finn says, awed. "It's so simple!"
Rachel is shooting him a really weird look, holding him at arm's length. "Wait," she says. "I thought you did that."
"What?" says Finn, and then a loud voice from behind him says, "Was anyone planning on moving this chair in front of the door, or were you just going to stare into each other's eyes all afternoon?"
Quinn is rolling her eyes at them and -- again, loudly, with a whole lot of scraping noises -- dragging the chair out from under the doorknob and into the classroom across the hall.
Finn stares at her; Rachel, meanwhile, shoots straight into the chorus room, nearly running Brittany and Santana down in the process. Then there are voices from inside, but Finn waits for Quinn as she walks back across the hall.
"What are you smiling at?" she asks him warmly, dusting off her hands.
"You're really cool, Quinn," Finn says as he steps through the chorus room door behind her. Brittany is sitting on the piano with her eyes shut, idly swinging her feet as Santana fixes her blonde ponytail. Rachel has perched in the first row of risers, turned around to talk to Kurt and Sam in the second row. The two of them are sitting side by side, Sam's face red and his knee brushing Kurt's; Sam and Rachel are laughing at something as Kurt smiles. Kurt looks a little dazed -- his hair is definitely the messiest that Finn has ever seen it, and that includes mornings at breakfast before combs and hair products -- but happy. Really happy.
"I have no idea what you're talking about," Quinn says, all haughty backbone, but there's a faint smile hovering at the corners of her mouth.
On Saturday morning, Finn finds Kurt's iPod and a note waiting on his bed. He glances toward the door and the hallway beyond it, but the house is quiet. His mom is still out back rooting through the garden, and Kurt is probably at the garage trying to figure out the best way to tell his dad he's not allowed to intimidate his new boyfriend. Finn brushes dirt off on his jeans, reaches over, and opens the neatly folded note.
Kurt's spidery handwriting says: For the record, if you completely ignore my wishes again in the future, we're going to Talk.
Eyebrows furrowed, Finn sits down on the edge of his bed, picks up Kurt's MP3 player, and tucks an earbud into his ear. He turns it on and scrolls through the available playlists. Kurt seems to mostly name them after fashion stuff (Finn recognizes a couple of the really, really famous names), but there's one called "duets." He selects it.
A man's voice sings into his ear: "They call you Lady Luck, but there is room for doubt; at times you have a very unladylike way of running out." Another dude cuts in to croon the next few lines, and Finn flicks through the entire playlist. He doesn't know most of the song titles, but as far as he can tell, it's a list of 43 totally platonic duets between two men.
Finn slowly starts to smile; he laughs a little to himself, and then he grabs his cell phone. "Hey," he says, when Puck's voice demands to know what the hell Finn wants at ten in the morning on a Saturday. "So I've got a bunch of ideas for Mr. Schue's assignment."