The paperwork at the shop had been switched over to a computer a few years ago, ever since Kurt had began lighting things on fire, so Finn stayed most nights at the shop. He was squinting at the screen, slowly typing out a work order on the keyboard, when a knock on the plate glass window of Burt's office-Finn's, now-startled him.
Cameron, one of the newer guys, leaned into the room. "Hey, boss. There's a girl here wanting you to take a look at her tires."
"What?" Finn frowned. "It's late. Did you tell her we're closed?" The sign was out and everything.
Cameron shrugged. "Said she knew you. Her name Quinn or Kwan, maybe-"
"Okay. Tell her I'll be there in a minute."
Cameron paused to wink at Finn. "She's real pretty boss."
Finn waved him away and slowly moved the mouse around, clicking out of the program he'd been using. Kurt was the one who'd taught Finn, however resentfully, to take care of these things when he couldn't be trusted to do them himself anymore.
Kurt had always been a little...weird. But sometime around their Junior year of high school, he'd started to get even weirder. He had mood swings, fits of violence, and any sort of brain-to-mouth filter he'd previously possessed disappeared as if he'd never heard of the word 'tact'.
The voices were the worst, though. Kurt didn't hear them very often, not after getting on medication, but watching him when he did hear them was frightening. All Finn could do in those moments was step back and leave him alone. Trying to talk Kurt through it only made things worse. The first time it'd happened, Burt had to call the hospital and watch his son get taken away in an ambulance.
Finn wished Burt were still alive.
Quinn waited for him at the front desk and smiled when she saw him. Things were still strained between them, though it'd been four years since high school ended, five years since they'd broken up. They weren't enemies but he didn't know whether or not to call her a friend. The two of them hardly ever saw each other, except for occasionally crossing paths at the supermarket.
"Quinn. What's up with your car?"
Quinn shook her head and shifted nervously. "I don't know. It's making this rattling sound and I can't get it to go over thirty. It took twenty minutes to get from here to work."
"Hmm." Finn paused to think. "It's kind of late, but if you want to leave it overnight, I can look at it in the morning, see what's wrong."
"That'd be great. Uh..." She gave him a flirty grin. "Care to give a girl a ride home?"
Quinn didn't live too far from the shop. After graduation, she'd gotten herself her own apartment, a job, and, last Finn heard, she was rounding out the last of her classes at the local community college.
He'd stayed here. At the shop. Not that he minded, of course. He could no more sell Burt's shop than he could send Kurt to the group home Kurt's doctor kept hinting at.
When Finn dropped his ex-girlfriend off, they both stood at her door all awkward until Quinn laughed and shook her head.
"Thanks," she said, reaching into her purse for the house key.
"Sure. I'll give you a call tomorrow." Finn felt like he should kiss her, like they were on a date or something, but knew that would just make things weirder between them.
Once Quinn was safely inside, he went back to his car. Girls were so complicated. At least with Rachel he'd known flat out what she wanted-fame above all else. Love took second place.
She was probably happy now, hanging out with her artsy New York friends, but Finn wouldn't know. She'd cut off all contact when she left. Even with Kurt. To be fair, Kurt had thrown a lamp at her head when Rachel told him she was going to pursue their dream without him.
At home, Finn sat outside in his car, trying to steel himself, uncertain what he'd come home to today. Burnt curtains? Broken glass? Or would it be quiet this time, a rare moment of calm in a sea of chaos?
A shout from inside answered his question. It could have been either Kurt or Mrs. Stacie, since they both had high-pitched voices. Finn make it to the door in time to hear the housekeeper say, "Kurt Hummel, don't you dare."
The sound of glass breaking was sharp and angry. Finn closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and stepped into the kitchen just as Kurt's feet disappeared up the stairs.
Mrs. Stacie glared at him, then snatched her purse from the counter. "I quit."
Finn gaped at her. "What? But you just can't-" He trailed after her as she marched to the door.
"I most certainly can. Your brother is rude and unmanageable. I would suggest a policeman watch over him, not an old woman like me."
"Hey, that's not-"
"Goodbye, Mr. Hudson. And good luck. I suspect you'll need it."
Finn leaned against the window to watch her drive away in her little station wagon. He felt exhausted already.
The night ended like it always did. Finn heated up two glasses of milk, got Kurt's pills out of the locked medicine cabinet, and headed upstairs. Kurt was already dressed in his silk pajamas and putting moisturizer to his face when Finn came into his bedroom.
"So what was wrong with this one?" Finn handed Kurt a glass, along with his pills.
"She has dirty fingernails," Kurt murmured. He downed the pills with a grimace. "Who knows how many germs she's been spreading around the house?"
Finn shook his head. "Germs. What about that last lady? She was nice."
"There was no way her hair was natural. It was creepy."
Kurt suddenly yawned, a sure sign his medication was kicking in. Finn patted the bed but Kurt just smiled at him from his spot at the vanity table.
"I have to brush my teeth." He pecked Finn on the cheek and hurried to the bathroom.
Finn waited, staring around the room. It hadn't changed much since the combined Hummel-Hudson family first moved in. The decorations were still how Kurt like it, sparse, and his mother's vanity table arranged just so. The only thing that had changed was the wedding photo now sitting on Kurt's bedside table.
Both of their parents were smiling into the camera, unaware that in just two short years their lives would be over, snuffed out by a drunk driver on a rainy night away from home. Finn wanted to reach out and touch them but Kurt didn't like his things touched and Finn was too clumsy to be sneaky about it.
When Kurt returned from the bathroom, Finn tucked him into bed. He would have thought Kurt would hate someone putting him to bed like a child, but he seemed to like the attention, so it, too, became part of their nightly ritual. Kurt rolled onto his side and stared at the wedding picture on his nightstand until his eyes grew too heavy to keep open.
Finn stayed with him for a few minutes more, watching how his face softened into sleep and his breathing evened out. Kurt looked almost like his old self when sleeping. Finn had a fantasy that Kurt would wake up one morning and be the way he used to be, funny and snappy and, most important of all, sane. But it never happened. Kurt was sick. He was never going to get any better than he was now, no matter what anyone wished for him.
Finn shut off the light and plunged the room into darkness.
He took Kurt with him to work the next morning, as there wasn't anyone at home to watch over him now that Mrs. Stacie was gone. They moved down the street slowly, Kurt clutching his bedazzler to his chest and muttering, "S-slower, go slower, Finn."
He was twitching like crazy, no matter that Finn was going twenty in a forty-five miles an hour zone. Eventually, he turned on the emergency lights so that other people would pass him immediately instead of honking and yelling as they passed by. Every time that happened Kurt flinched. Thank god he couldn't see how that one guy had flipped them off.
When they finally pulled up to the shop, Finn let out a sigh of relief while Kurt jumped out of the car like he was on fire. Ever since the accident, Kurt hated riding in cars. He'd do it. It was just never a very pleasant experience for him. And heaven forbid they leave the windows down. Kurt would freak over the wind and the noise.
The guys were already there when they stepped through the door. They brightened when they saw Kurt, who was their last, tangible link to their old boss. A few of them, like Carl, had known him since he was little.
Carl clapped Kurt on the shoulder fondly. "Hey, kid. How's it going?"
"Our home is a cesspool of dirt-related germs," Kurt said.
Finn rolled his eyes. "He chased away another housekeeper."
"Ah." Carl adjusted the ball cap on his head, one of the old ones Burt used to wear. No one liked to talk about Kurt's illness. It was a great big elephant in the room. Finn learned that phrase from Rachel.
Luckily, the shop slow that morning, so Finn let the other mechanics work on the few cars brought in for the day and went out to check Quinn's over. Kurt stayed seated in the office, bent over on the floor and adding gems to something with that little contraption of his.
Finn stopped after a trip to the bathroom to watch Kurt through the window. He was bedazzling his favorite pair of boots, the lace-up ones he'd been wearing since high school. Finn should really go in there and stop him, but...well, did he really want to risk the fuss it would create?
The answer was no. Definitely not, not here at work. Shaking his head, Finn went back into the garage. Kurt would be fine. In fact, he'd probably like his boots that way. They'd be all blue and sparkly now.
Quinn's car was ready by noon. Finn would have driven it over himself but Kurt was still hanging around and he couldn't very well leave him wandering around the shop unsupervised. He'd probably light a car on fire or something. Finn handed the keys off to Cameron. Quinn would get a nice surprise when she got out of school today and found her car waiting for her in the parking lot. Even if Cameron did have to walk back to the shop afterwards.
"Tell her no charge!" Finn yelled out as Cameron took off. A hand waved later, he was out of sight.
He spent the rest of the time puttering around the shop and checking in with Kurt, who had moved on to bedazzling Carl's favorite wrench and gluing the man's name in sequins on the lid of his toolbox. In pink. Carl just chuckled and tried to ruffle Kurt's hair.
"Stop it," Kurt muttered, giving the man his best bitch-face. No one messed with the hair.
Finn eyed his shoes. He had a sequined boot on one foot, plain leather on the other.
Finn shook his head. "Nothing." What did he know about fashion, anyway?
From somewhere in the garage, Kurt had found an old motorcycle helmet. He wore it on the way home in the car, the visor pulled down to cover his face. Finn experimentally pressed down a bit on the gas petal. Not a peep from Kurt. He was like a bird! Cover his eyes and nothing's wrong, nothing wrong at all.
If only it were that easy, Finn thought, suppressing another sigh.
"But we're supposed to go to New York. Together."
Rachel's face was pleading and tear-filled, not those fake tears she sometimes used, but real ones which clouded her eyes and threatened to spill over onto her cheeks.
"I can't," Finn said, equally pained. "Kurt can't-"
"This is Kurt's dream, too. You can't just take this away from us."
"Take what away?" Kurt peered at them from the top of the stairs, brows drawn down in confusion.
Finn jerked away from his spot on the couch. Some infomercial was playing on TV, background noise to his sleeping brain. A glance at the clock read past midnight.
"Kurt?" He stood quickly and began to hunt through the house.
How could he have fallen asleep? Kurt hadn't even had his medicine yet-what if he'd wandered off (again) or hurt himself (again) or set Mrs. Landry's roses on fire (again)? He was Finn's responsibility now. Burt's ghost would haunt him for a lifetime if he screwed up.
Finn breathed a sigh of relief when he heard a voice speaking softly, coming from the attic overhead. His relief was short lived, however, when he walked into the fabric-covered room.
When Kurt got pulled out of school at the beginning of senior year, Burt, hoping to keep him occupied, had set him up in the attic with yards of fabric, a sewing machine, and all kinds of other supplies, so that now not only were the walls decorated with sparkly glitter and hanging silks and velvet, but sported two mannequins right in the middle of the room.
Kurt sat in front of them, rocking slightly, and muttering, hearing voices in his head.
Finn hovered in the doorway and waited. It was all he could do.
Quinn ambushed them at the grocery store the next day, jumping out from an adjacent aisle and calling Finn's name. Kurt stopped his intent studying of the jars of organic peanut butter to glare at her but Finn stepped forward so she could wrap her arms around his waist.
"Thank you for fixing my car. It works great." She peered around Finn's arm. "Hi, Kurt. Nice boot."
Kurt popped open one of the jars and jabbed a finger through the seal.
"Dude," Finn said. "Not cool." He took the jar from his brother's hands and set it in the cart.
"Can I talk to you for a minute?" Quinn nodded down the aisle for him to follow. As soon as Finn's back was turned, Kurt reached for another jar of peanut butter.
"How is he?" Quinn asked once out of ear shot.
Finn shrugged. "He's Kurt. You know, chasing away housekeepers and trying to set the house on fire." He paused and gave her a look. "You don't need a second job or anything, do you?"
"Oh, no!" Quinn threw her hands up. "I love you and I love Kurt, but I've heard the stories, Finn. There's no way I'm babysitting him."
"No. Listen. Why don't the two of us get together tomorrow for some coffee? We can catch up."
"I can't leave Kurt alone."
"Bring him with you. He can sequin a coffee mug or something."
Finn shifted, glancing between the two of them uneasily as he slowly turned the offer over in his mind. Going out for coffee was, like, a date, right? He couldn't date right now, not with Kurt and the shop taking up so much of his time.
"Maybe some other time?" Quinn suddenly said, a sad smile on her lips.
She nodded and turned to walk away. Finn watched her until she disappeared around the corner.
"She wants you to kiss her," Kurt said.
Finn spun around to stare at a fourth jar of peanut butter open in Kurt's hands. "Seriously. What is up that?"
Kurt stuck a peanut butter covered finger into his mouth, licked the food off, then said, "This peanut butter sucks."
"Kurt." Finn took the jar and put in the cart with the rest. "Why do you keep eating it?" Hell, Kurt ate any type of peanut butter he could get his hands on.
"Lauren says I have to make sure they don't suck."
Finn stared at him, uncertain what to say. He finally settled on, "When'd you talk to Lauren?"
"She called yesterday."
Finn looked away and muttered under his breath.
"What'd you say?" Kurt asked as they started down the aisle. Finn grabbed the fifth jar out of his hands and tossed it in the cart.
"It's nothing. Let's go home."
He couldn't bring himself to remind Kurt that Lauren Zizes had died last year.
Once home, the two of them set to putting the food away. Finn would have to make dinner, of course, as the last time Kurt tried he'd burned himself on the stove. Finn knew it wasn't an accident, no matter how much Kurt protested otherwise.
"We have to make a cake," Kurt suddenly announced.
"What for?" Finn asked as he set the milk on a shelf in the refrigerator.
"It's Dad's birthday tomorrow."
Finn closed his eyes for a moment. "Kurt...you can't keep doing this."
"Doing what?" Kurt's voice turned razor sharp.
"Making a cake's stupid. Mom and Burt are dead. They're not going to have any more birthdays."
"You just want to forget them," Kurt hissed. He pointed a finger at Finn. "You want to pretend they never even existed."
"What?! No, I-"
Finn ducked as a can of peas got lobbed at his head. It crashed through the window and landed somewhere out in the front yard. When he looked up, Kurt was gone, racing up the stairs to the sanctuary his attic room provided. Finn let out a long sigh and sank into one of the kitchen chairs, running his hands over his face.
He didn't know what to do with Kurt sometimes. Maybe a home really was for the best. Pulling himself up, Finn went back to putting the groceries up. He didn't have time to rest. The house wouldn't clean itself. Not that he was the best at it, but it was better than shoving things into a closet or under the couch like Kurt did nowadays.
No, Finn decided as he worked. He couldn't-wouldn't-send Kurt to a home. They were brothers and brothers stuck together. He'd promised Burt, after all.
The older man's pleading eyes flashed through Finn's mind and he shook his head to clear away the memories of Burt Hummel's last moments.
Upstairs, Kurt burrowed underneath a pile of fabrics which he'd hidden his mother's dresser under. The wood inside still smelled like her spilt perfume. He opened the drawer and reached inside to pull out one of his dad's big flannel shirts. It smelled like him just as much as the dresser smelled like his mom. The two scents mingled together, contained within his makeshift fort, and provided sorely needed comfort, the kind he couldn't get from Finn or Dr. Ottoman or even Mercedes on her best days.
He'd tucked Carole's old denim jacket in a dresser downstairs, but this hidden niche of the world, this little hideaway, smelled like home.
Burt glanced at the rearview mirror to look at the boys asleep in the back. Finn's head lolled back against the head rest, mouth hanging open, and he snored loudly. Beside him, Kurt was curled up with his knees to his chest, coiffed hair now mussed from where his head was propped up on the car door. Burt smiled fondly at the sight of them.
This was the last, real family vacation the four of them would ever have before Kurt went off to college and Finn to tech school. It had been a chore to get Kurt through these last two years of school, what with his condition, but they'd done it. His son, his baby boy, was going to a New York school just like he'd always wanted.
With a sigh, Burt fixed his eyes back on the rain splattered windshield. The wipers were working hard to keep the window clear. Thankfully, it wasn't raining too hard. He could see the road just fine.
"We almost there?" Carole asked from the passenger seat next to him, her voice groggy with sleep.
Burt glanced over at her just in time for the space in front of them to become bathed in the harsh light of an oncoming vehicle careening out of control.
The end of the world began in a crunch of glass and metal, and ended with Carole's startled scream.
Kurt was waiting for Finn, sitting up in bed with the covers pulled up to his waist. Finn hesitated at the door with milk and Kurt's medicine. The look on Kurt's face was unreadable, but after a moment, he patted the spot next to him. Finn smiled as he took a seat.
"I'm sorry," he said. "We can get a cake if you really want to-just no candles."
Kurt took his medicine from Finn's outstretched hand. "Whatever. Dad's dead. Carole's dead. Do we really need cake?"
"Oh, yeah." Finn nodded. "We need cake."
He stood back up as Kurt nestled down into his covers with a yawn. Their parents' wedding picture was, once again, what his eyes were fixed on as he drifted off to sleep.
Tomorrow, they'd have to be at Cameron's place for the guys' weekly poker game. Usually, Kurt stayed home with the housekeeper, but he'd have to along until they found someone new. Which might just take an eternity. Word had gotten out rather quick about Kurt's difficult nature.
Finding a replacement would take a miracle.
Cameron only lived a block away, which was great because Finn was getting a little tired of riding around with what looked like a bubble-headed alien in the passenger seat of his car.
Kurt hummed 'Single Ladies' and danced as they walked. Occasionally, Finn had to reach out and snag the body orbiting him to keep him from dancing right into evening traffic.
The porch light was on as they approached, revealing a couple of cars in the driveway and another sitting dead at the curb. The back windows were down and Finn could see a guy sitting there doing nothing but staring off into the night.
Kurt paused as they passed by. The two of them just stared at each other until Finn reached out and tugged Kurt by the hand.
"Hey. House is this way."
Kurt looked at him, back at the guy, then Finn again. Finally, he nodded his head imperiously. Finn didn't miss the look he snuck back at the guy in the car. He didn't have to worry about it, though. It wasn't like he was someone they would ever see again.
One of the good things about having a friend outside of work was that he could count on the him being cool about gay people like Kurt. Unfortunately, Finn hadn't taken into account the other guys that'd be there with them.
Oh, they didn't say anything about Kurt specifically, especially not with Finn and Carl right in front of them, but Cam's friend Jimmy started making comments about a cousin living with him that had Finn biting his lip to keep from speaking. Even Cameron seemed uncomfortable, glancing at his coworkers as if to gauge how angry he should be.
"...and he's always singing! I woke up this morning with that Katy Perry chick blasting on the stereo and my cousin dancing around like a fairy-"
"Okay, whoa," Cameron said, just before Carl started to speak. "You might want to be a little more careful about your words, there, Jimmy." He threw a scrap of paper on the table. "Scuba mask."
"Yeah," Kurt piped up from a table nearby. "You might insult the fairies."
Finn gave him a look that he ignored in favor of hot-gluing some pebbles onto the glass in front of him.
"What?" Jimmy protested. "Ain't nothing wrong with it. I just don't want it in my house, is all."
Finn glared at him, really wishing he could just hit the guy, but couldn't, not with Kurt right there. Besides, he was here to play poker, not fight. Now if he could just beat this guy to the jackpot...
"I can't believe you lost," Kurt said, standing close by so he could stare at Finn's cards spread out on the table.
"Shut up." Finn slunk down in his seat. This was not how it was supposed to go.
Across the table, Jimmy's smile was wide as could be. He held up his scrap of paper. "One cousin, and he's all yours."
"You can't just bet a person," Finn protested as he and Kurt left Cameron's house, following Jimmy to his car.
"Sure, I can." He stopped at the vehicle they'd passed earlier and rapped his knuckles against the hood. "Hey. Get out. You're going home with these guys."
The guy they'd passed earlier stepped out of the car with a confused look on his face. He was dressed funny, in a button up shirt and high water jeans. And were those penny loafers on his feet? Well, at least Kurt would approve of the bow tie.
"What's going on?"
Jimmy jerked his thumb at the people beside him. "Finn here's going to take you home with him."
"But my things-"
"You've only got, like, what? One suitcase. I'll drop it off later."
Jimmy hurried to get in his car.
"Hi, I'm Blaine," Jimmy's cousin said, holding his hand out to Finn. He only came up to Finn's chest and had to crane his head up to look the other man in the eyes as they shook hands.
"Finn. And this is Kurt-where did you get that?"
Kurt pulled the spoon out of his mouth and stuck it into the open jar of peanut butter in his other hand. "It was just sitting there..."
Finn glared. "In the pantry?"
"How'd you guess?" Kurt strode nonchalantly past. "You promised cake, Finn. Chocolate is Dad's favorite."
Behind them, the car spun away from the curb and took off down the street. Finn turned to Blaine.
"C'mon. You can sleep in the spare room, I guess. Just don't touch anything. Kurt'll freak."
He followed behind Finn as Kurt walked ahead of them, humming around the spoonful of peanut butter in his mouth. Finn caught up in only a few quick strides and took Kurt's arm firmly in hand to keep him from dancing out into traffic again.
In the years since their deaths, Burt and Carole Hummel's bedroom had remained intact, everything still in its place. Kurt hovered at the door as Finn ushered Blaine inside.
"Really, thanks for putting me up," Blaine said. "Jimmy made me sleep under the sink."
"No problem." Finn pulled a few extra blankets and pillows out of the closet.
Kurt stepped into the room when Blaine picked up a picture on the nightstand of Finn and Kurt together. It was taken outside. While Finn had a goofy looking grin on his face, Kurt was frowning, looking away from the camera.
"D-don't." Kurt took the picture from Blaine's hands and set it back in place.
"Sorry," Blaine said, eyeing Kurt warily. He could tell something was off about him, but not what. Finn would have to have a talk with him tomorrow before work.
Blaine falling into their lap might have just been a blessing in disguise.
Finn and Kurt gathered in the kitchen after leaving Blaine in their parents' room. Finn had bought a cake earlier in the day, not telling Kurt about it so he could surprise him now. Keeping the purchase a secret had been worth it. Kurt's face lit up at the sight of the open box placed in front of him.
"Oh, Finn, it's beautiful!"
Finn tried not to preen too hard. "It's German chocolate. I know how much Burt loved that kind-and, look! Candles. Just try not to touch them."
Kurt's eyes filled with tears and he flung himself into Finn's arms. "Thank you," he said. "It's wonderful."
"So." Finn pulled away. "You want to blow the candles out and make a wish?"
Kurt shook his head. "You do it. I don't have anything to wish for."
The pack of candles was small, only five little ones in the pack, but they still looked great on top of the cake, stuck in thick, dark chocolate and throwing dim light over the darkened room.
Kurt started first. "Happy birthday to you..."
"Happy birthday to you..." Finn sang along.
"Happy birthday, dear Dad..."
Burt might have only been his stepdad, but it felt right for Finn to call him dad, too.
Another voice joined in on the last verse, low and melodic. "Happy birthday to you."
Finn leaned over, closed his eyes, then blew out the candles. Beside him, Kurt wiped at his own eyes.
"I'm sorry," Blaine said, stepping into the room. "I heard the singing..."
"It's okay." Finn went to clap Blaine on the back, nearly knocking the shorter man over. "Burt loved company. Here, have some cake."
He steered their new houseguest over to the table, where Kurt was already slicing up the cake into small squares, all the while complaining about sugar intake and calorie count.
Finn rolled his eyes with a grin and shook his head. "Relax, Kurt. A little cake isn't going to hurt you."
"Yes, but it might just hurt my figure," Kurt sniffed. "Coach Sylvester says I have pear hips. I can't be on the Cheerios with pear hips, Finn."
Finn's pause was slight, almost unnoticeable, but still left Blaine looking confused at the two of them and at how pained Finn's face looked for just a brief moment at Kurt's words.
Blaine helped Finn with the dishes afterwards, while Kurt disappeared upstairs.
"You and me are going to have to talk," Finn said.
"Sure." Blaine set a dish on the drainer and looked at Finn attentively but got a dismissive handwave in return.
"Well, not right now, dude. In the morning. Kurt sleeps late, so it'll be okay then."
"Is there something I should know?"
Finn sighed. "We'll talk in the morning. Why don't you go on ahead to bed? I'll finish up here."
Blaine hesitated, but finally nodded. "Okay...good night."
After Blaine disappeared from the kitchen, Finn grabbed a glass to heat up some milk in and unlocked the medicine cabinet, tipping one long round pill into his hand.
"Kurt," he called up the stairs. "It's time for bed."
There was coffee brewing when Finn got up for bed the next morning. He followed the smell into the kitchen to find Blaine rummaging through the cabinets.
"Morning," he said brightly once Finn appeared. "I thought I'd make some pancakes or something, but I can't seem to find any flour."
"Flour?" Finn blinked at him stupidly. "We don't have any flour."
"I think there's still a box of pancake mix in the pantry, if you want to go digging for it."
Blaine worked quietly at the stove, leaving Finn to nurse his cup of coffee until he had a stack of fluffy pancakes, dotted with chocolate chips, on the kitchen table and ready to eat.
"So you want to tell me what's going on?" Blaine asked.
Finn sighed. "My brother is...well...he's mentally ill."
"Yeah, he's-I don't know the right word, but there's a lot of different things that've made him different the past few years. I just need you to look after him while I'm at work."
Instead of looking freaked out at the thought of taking care of someone like Kurt, Blaine looked thoughtful, resting his chin on folded hands.
"It's not a big thing," Finn continued. "Just let him go about his routine. He runs hot and cold a lot, so don't worry about his temper. And stay out of the attic. Kurt's got a design studio up there, he hates when people mess with it. Oh, and if you hear him talk to himself, whatever you do, don't answer. He hears voices sometimes."
Blaine still sat there patiently waiting for Finn to finish. When he realized that was all he was going to get, he simply nodded and said, "Okay. I'll watch out for him."
"Good. But you'd better make sure nothing happens to him. Burt's ghost will haunt you forever-and you do not want to make Burt mad." Finn shuddered. "Trust me, I've been there."
Blaine's eyes shifted to look behind Finn. Kurt shuffled into the room, still in his pajamas and robe.
"Morning," Finn said, surprised to see him up so early. "I'm going to leave Blaine here with you. Keep an eye on him, okay?"
Kurt grunted. "I'm not stupid, Finn. We all know he's just here to look after your crazy brother."
Finn left then to get ready for work, leaving Blaine and Kurt alone in the kitchen.
"Do you want some pancakes?" Blaine asked him hopefully.
"No. Pancakes are weird. They feel like sponges."
Blaine fell silent and watched as Kurt pulled the milk out of the refrigerator, a box of Captain Crunch out of the cabinet, and one of many jars of peanut butter stored away in a side counter. It all went into a blender and hummed and crunched through the blades until only a brown, milky substance remained.
The food got left out, Kurt simply walking away with his glass in hand, so Blaine got to work tidying the place up. Kurt was a pretty interesting guy. Surely, the two of them had something in common they could bond over. Blaine thought back to Finn's words, 'design studio'. He could have meant any number of things.
A thump sounded from above. Blaine looked up, considering.
In his room, Kurt moved restlessly back and forth, adjusting a yard of cloth draped over the female mannequin in front of him. He just couldn't get it right; the shape was all wrong. A knock sounded at the door somewhere around the fifth reshaping of the fabric. Kurt paused, hesitant to answer.
"Uh, Kurt? It's me. Blaine. Would you like to go get something to eat? There's a cafe down the road. It looks nice."
Kurt stared at the door. Indecision ran rampant through his brain. Should he trust this guy? He was a complete stranger. But Kurt liked the diner. They had wonderful peanut butter cookies there, and they always made sure to have a small batch set aside just for him. Finn usually picked it up on the way home from work.
It was the lure of freshly baked cookies that made him answer. Peanut butter. Mmm. Kurt opened the door a crack and peered out.
"Can we get cookies?" he asked warily.
"Sure. Whatever you want." Blaine smiled at him, all eagerness and sunshine.
Kurt fiddled at the door a moment to gather courage to leave his safe, secure nest behind. When he stepped out into the hall, he flattened himself against the wall and slid past their new houseguest as if the other man were a rabid dog waiting to attack.
Blaine simply stuck his hands in his pockets and walked beside Kurt with a small smile on his lips, the picture of patience. Kurt had to resist the urge to throw something at him. What right did he have to smile like that?
Walking with Blaine was different than walking with Finn. He didn't seem embarrassed at Kurt's humming and dancing. His head actually bounced along with the beat Kurt was sounding out, like he enjoyed hearing his voice, even if it was just humming. The first time Kurt twirled off of the sidewalk and onto the shoulder of the road, Blaine gently hooked an arm in his and pulled him back off the street just in time for a car to whiz past.
Kurt danced on, unconcerned about the car. In fact, sometimes, he almost wished a car would hit him. Finn would be free then. And he wouldn't be crazy. He'd be dead. But at least he wouldn't be crazy.
When they got to the diner, Blaine held open the door for Kurt to waltz past him, else he would have simply walked into the glass, so absorb he was in his singing.
'Single Ladies.' It was a classic.
The two of them took seats on the stools up by the cash register and waited for the waitress to come. When she did, it was Quinn who smiled at them from behind the counter.
"It's you," Blaine gasped.
Quinn looked over at Kurt, confused, and gave a small laugh. "What...?"
Blaine grabbed her hands across the counter and sang out a familiar tune, "Now I've...had...the time of my life..."
"Oh my god." Quinn burst out laughing.
Blaine continued singing, leading her by the hands to the little door connecting the two areas and she stepped out to join him, still chuckling. They danced like in the movie, hips swaying, twirling around, all except the great big leap at the end. When they were finished, the morning regulars all clapped, a few even whistled.
"How did you know about that?" Quinn asked, breathless.
Blaine put his hands on his hips, panting, and said, "I think we competed against each other back in high school. I was a Warbler."
"Warbler," Kurt said from where he still sat. "That's a funny name. Why not the Songbirds? Or Canaries?"
"Kurt," Quinn said in warning, before he went off on a long tangent of bird name alternatives. It had happened a few times in high school, usually when Mr. Schue wrote that week's theme on the whiteboard.
"Love, Mr. Schue? That's kind of vague, isn't it? I mean, there's platonic love and romantic love, familial love between a father and son, and mother and daughter...and father and daughter...and mother and son...grandparents and their grandchildren..."
Finn put a hand on Kurt's shoulder, and his voice trailed off.
Quinn shook her head, brought back to the present. "I'm sorry, but who are you?"
"He's the new Stacie."
Blaine held out his hand. "Hi. I'm Blaine. Finn hired me to look after the house while he's at work."
"Ah." Quinn nodded. "Finn. How's he doing?"
"Great. I think." Blaine glanced at Kurt and lowered his voice. "I don't really know. It's my first day."
Kurt leaned forward in his chair to peer at the glass counter in front of him. "Did you make any cookies?"
"Breakfast first," Quinn scolded. She hurried back to her space behind the counter to take their order.
Kurt had waffles. Apparently, they were different than pancakes.
"Less spongy," he muttered when Blaine asked.
They sat quietly eating while the diner began to fill up for the morning rush. Blaine didn't eat much of his eggs and biscuit, as he'd already eaten earlier at the Hummels' house, but he was fine waiting for Kurt. It wasn't like he had anything else to do today, anyway.
When Kurt took his last bite of food, Blaine slid off his seat and held out his hand. "Care to go for a walk?"
Kurt smiled, his expression one of surprise and pleasure, as he took Blaine's hand. "Lead the way, kind sir."
Quinn hurried around the counter, small paper bag in one hand, coat in the other. "You don't want to forget this." She handed Kurt the paper bag and started to put on her coat.
"Can you just leave work?" Blaine asked with his head cocked.
"Sure. It's fine."
She took a last glace at the dwindling ends of that morning's rush, then ushered the boys out the door. As they headed in the direction of the garage, Quinn lagged behind and watched Kurt and Blaine curiously. Their hands were still linked together. That was weird. Kurt hated people touching him. Years of bullying had made him wary of human contact.
But with Blaine, he hardly seemed to mind the other hand clutching his, just continued to munch contentedly on peanut butter cookies from the bag Quinn had given him. Occasionally, he'd swing their hands back and forth. Each time he did, Blaine glanced at him with love-struck eyes.
Quinn felt torn watching them. Kurt deserved love, but how could he handle a relationship without pushing the other person away? She hoped he could, for his sake. Having someone love him, romantically, had the potential for so much good.
By the time they got to the shop, Kurt was humming, causing Quinn to cringe. He’d been doing so well. Acting so normal. Instead of pulling away like she thought he would, Blaine’s grin widened and he actually joined Kurt, letting him take the lead as he imitated the dance steps that Kurt, Tina, and Brittany had done together so many years ago.
Every time Kurt got near the road, Blaine would reach out and steer him to safety, all without breaking stride. It was sweet, really, how much he obviously cared. Quinn hadn’t had someone care for her like that in a long time. Not since high school. Not since Finn.
Whatever. The two of them had been stupid kids going through so-called ‘first love’. Everyone knows that first love isn’t real love. Besides, she’d burned that bridge the night she’d slept with Puck. And went to that stupid funeral with Finn. Wait, why was she having warm, fuzzy thoughts about love again? First love sucked.
She still couldn’t help the small fluttering of her stomach when she saw Finn bent over the engine of a car or at the smile on his face when he saw Kurt, hand now unattached, skip towards him with a cookie crumb smile.
Well, crap. If she kept denying it, would this feeling go away? Soon?
Sighing, Quinn smiled at Finn and stepped closer to say hi.
Finn spent the first part of his morning at the shop half-expecting to get a call from home, either from Kurt making his daily peanut butter demand or from Blaine, saying that he quit. Instead, he got a surprise visit from the very two people he was worried about.
He heard Kurt's high voice before he saw him.
Finn lifted his head from the hood of the car as Kurt skipped up to him, a huge smile on his face. He looked happier than he had in a while.
"Finn! Guess who we found?"
Quinn trailed behind Blaine, a small smile on her face. Finn's mouth dropped open in surprise at the sight of her.
"Hey. How's your car?"
"It's fine. Thank you for fixing it."
Kurt glanced between the two of them, his hands clasped together in front of them. After a moment of silence, he turned to Blaine and grabbed for his hand.
"Come on. Let's leave these two alone. I'll show you my bedazzler kit."
"Sounds great." Blaine followed Kurt to the door, content with being led by the hand.
Finn frowned at them. "Are they friends now?"
Quinn opened her mouth to speak, then laughed ruefully instead. "Yeah. They're pretty friendly."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
They stood there awkwardly until Quinn laughed and looked away.
"What?" Finn asked.
"It's just-you're so grown up now."
"Yeah. I kind of had to. For Kurt."
“Burt would be so proud of you.”
Finn leaned over and pretended to look at the engine to give himself time to blink away the tears that were forming in eyes. “Hey,” he said when he’d gotten himself back together. “You want to come by our house and have dinner? I can cook now, you know.”
“So I’ve heard.”
“Puck told me. He said you make great spaghetti.”
“Yeah, well, it’s eatable.”
“I’d love to try it.”
Finn closed the hood of the car and turned back to his ex-girlfriend. “Let me send Kurt home and finish up here. I’ll pick you up around six?”
“Great. That’s fine.” Quinn smiled and waved at him as she headed for the door. “See you at six.” She stopped at the garage doors. “Don’t be late.”
Still grinning, Finn gathered his tools up from the floor.
“Love,” Kurt sang out from the doorway, Blaine beside him. “Love is in the air.”
“Come on,” Finn said. “It’s just dinner with an old friend. Nothing romantic about that.”
Kurt just smirked and rocked back and worth on his heels.
Finn turned to Blaine, exasperated. “Take him home, will you? Make sure he eats lunch on time.”
“Sure.” Blaine held out his hand for Kurt to take. “We’ll go right home.”
Finn watched as they left hand in hand. It was nice to see Kurt finally make a friend.
"I want to show you something."
Kurt tugged on Blaine's hand, smiling uncertainly, a light blush on his cheeks. Blaine followed him upstairs. Kurt's design room was covered loosely in fabric and had two mannequins standing in the middle of it, but Kurt didn't let Blaine stop to admire the decor. Instead, he pulled him over to where a light blue fabric, linen, billowed out from the wall.
They ducked underneath where a trunk sat. It was made of dark wood and was decorated with complex, hand drawn flowers and trailing leaves.
"It's my hope chest," Kurt said. He fished a key from somewhere in the folds of blue fabric and stuck it in the lock to open the lid. Inside sat rows of glass jars. "These are aura jars. I made one for everybody."
He lifted a jar out and held it up for Blaine to see. There were blue and brown marbles inside, all mixed together.
"Finn is all earth and sea. Like my dad. See?"
The other jar he held up was filled with darker blues and browns, along with a stray yellow or two. Quinn's was filled with yellow and white, with one lone pink among them.
"Beth," Kurt said when Blaine asked. "Finn wants to name her Drizzle."
"I think I'd be gray," Blaine said. He looked away, touching the jars that littered the floor and tracing the lids with an index fingers.
"No. I don't think so." Kurt leaned closer to study Blaine's face, eyes raking over his body. "I think you'd be...glitter."
Blaine's mouth quirked. "Glitter?"
"You know, sparkling. Swirling with color. You're beautiful, Blaine."
They sat quietly together, their face close, lips almost touching. Blaine was the first to look away, chuckling and rubbing the back of his neck nervously. Kurt, too, smiled and settled back on his heels.
"It's stupid," he said.
"No," Blaine was quick to reassure him. "It's nice. That you think I'm glitter."
Their hands linked back together, drawn to each other as if magnetized.
It was quiet when Finn got home. No yelling, no terrifying poor housekeepers. Nothing.
"Hello," he called out. This was weird. The house was never this quiet.
He wandered into the living room to find Kurt curled up on the couch, Blaine in the armchair, both asleep. The Sound of Music, something Kurt had always been obsessed with, played on the TV. Finn turned it off and went to fetch some blankets from the closet. He covered Kurt up first, carefully tucking it around him. He tossed the other carelessly over Blaine's body. He'd let them nap for a bit until dinner. They'd be more awake when he brought Quinn over.
Kurt topped off his plate of spaghetti with a dollop of peanut butter and tried to the serve others a spoonful, too.
"No, thanks," Quinn said, quickly covering her plate with her hands before Kurt could get to it.
Finn let him drop a spoonful on his plate. It really wasn't a big deal, Finn could just eat around it.
Only Blaine made an effort to actually eat the weird combo, following Kurt's lead in stirring the two together, but a funny expression crossed his face when he started to eat. Finn snickered while Kurt remained oblivious.
After dinner, everyone gathered in the living room, Kurt herding them to their seats like he was a well-trained sheepdog. He and Blaine bookended Quinn on the couch, while Finn took the armchair next to it. Kurt had freaked the first time Finn had sat in it after their parents died, 'cause it was Burt's chair, and he didn't like how Finn was taking everything over.
Now, it was just second nature for Finn to sit there.
It had been awhile since they'd watched these videos. Kurt had shoved them away somewhere a couple of years ago. The sight of their younger selves, looking so carefree, disturbed him too much, made him more aware of the passing time and how easily it moved on without two of the most important people in it.
As New Directions danced and sang their way across the stage, Blaine bopped his head along with the beat and sang snatches of lyrics to himself. He brightened when Quinn took center stage, the last time she ever would. She just faded into the background these days, almost like she didn't exist.
Kurt clapped when the screen went dark.
"That was great," Blaine said.
"C'mon." Kurt grabbed his hand and pulled him up. "I have all the songs from that year compiled on a CD. You have to hear the rest."
As the two of them hurried over to the stereo cabinet, Quinn turned to smile at Finn, only to find him watching them with a small frown.
Finn started, then shook his head. "Huh? Oh, nothing." He glanced at the clock. "God, it's late. Let me drive you back to the diner."
"Oh, hey, Streisand," Blaine said, pulling a disc out of the top stack.
"I don't want that woman in my house," Kurt suddenly snapped. He slapped the CD out of Blaine's hand and threw Finn a dirty look.
"Kurt," Finn murmured. "Rachel's not here."
Kurt looked between Finn and Quinn, confused, before his eyes finally settled back on Blaine, who gave him a crooked smile. Whatever thoughts were tumbling through his head must have been overwhelming, the past and present getting all jumbled together, because he ran away up the stairs. They could hear his feet pounding above them, heading towards the attic.
"Don't worry about it," Finn said to Blaine once the footsteps faded away. "He'll forget all about it by morning."
Blaine gave the stairs a worried look, then sat down on the couch, resting his head in his hands.
"Is he going to be okay?" Quinn asked.
"Sure," Finn answered. He wasn't sure which guy Quinn was talking about, though. "You ready to go?"
"Yeah. Bye, Blaine." Quinn waved at him and then yelled her goodbyes up the stairs to where Kurt was hiding. She knew from experience that he wouldn't welcome her presence right now. She walked in silence out to Finn's car. Her own was at the diner waiting for her.
"I had a really nice time," Quinn said once pulled into the parking lot.
"Yeah," Finn said with a smile. "It was great. Almost like old times."
Quinn bit at her lip nervously and leaned a little closer. "Maybe we could hang out again sometime? Have another dinner together or something?"
"Quinn," Finn sighed. "I have a lot on my plate right now."
"Jeez, It's not like I was asking you to marry me, Finn, relax." She drew away sharply.
"I didn't mean-"
Quinn snapped the door open. "Do you always make it a habit to dump girls in parking lots?"
Finn stared at her, mouth agape, as she slammed the door and stalked to her car, clearly upset. What did she expect, anyway? That they'd just hook up, like no time had passed? He'd said it was only dinner.
His phone rang just as he was starting his car to leave the now empty parking lot.
"Kurt? What's wrong? You all right?"
"I need glitter," Kurt said. He sounded fine, like hadn't been upset not thirty minutes ago.
"You called me for glitter? Kurt, it's eleven o'clock at night."
"But I need glitter. And a mason jar."
Finn sighed and dropped his head back onto the head rest. "I don't think the grocery store's going to carry that."
"Wal-Mart carries everything."
"I am not going to Wal-Mart this late for glitter and a mason jar!"
"Fine," Kurt huffed. "Then I'll go myself."
Finn stared at his phone a moment, then cursed and sped back towards home. Kurt was on the porch, coat and gloves on, with Blaine trailing behind him.
"Stop!" Finn leaped out of the car. "Go to bed, Kurt. You're not going to Wal-Mart! None of us are going to Wal-Mart."
Blaine tugged on Kurt's sleeve. "Come on. I'll make you some warm milk."
Kurt stomped his foot. "God, Finn, you never let me have anything."
He turned and stormed back into the house. Finn shook his head. Kurt would get his glitter and his mason jar, of course he would. Just not tonight.
That Blaine guy sure was talented. He sang and danced all the time, at home and out at restaurants (which, yeah, kinda embarrassing), and every time he did, not one person complained. In fact, they clapped along, all smiles and good humor. He never even got thrown out of public places for it, not like when Finn tried to join in on that Le Miss thing Rachel dragged him to once back in high school.
"I'm telling you," he said to Rachel on the phone during a lunch break. "The guy's good. He could be one of those Broadway people like you. Oooh, or maybe a Vegas performer."
"What? I like Vegas."
"I know you do. What I was going to say was that if you really want me to take him under my wing, I need to hear him sing first. Can you get him on tape?"
"Yeah, sure! He won't mind."
There was a pause as Rachel hesitated, then asked, "So...how's Kurt? He still mad at me?"
"Well, you know Kurt runs hot and cold most of the time. But, uh, yeah, I think so."
"I wish he could be here. The new show is amazing-"
Finn quickly covered the receiver as the door opened and Blaine and Kurt walked in together, their hands linked once more.
"Sure, Bob," Finn said as loud as he could into the phone. "We can get that done by Tuesday."
"Who's Bob?" Rachel asked.
"Okay, Bob, I'll see you then."
"Is Kurt there?"
"That's right, Bob."
Rachel sighed. "I'll see you later. Get me that tape! I need a proper leading man. The choices here are shockingly not up to standard."
"Who's what?" Kurt asked as he and Blaine entered the office.
Finn said a quick goodbye and hurried to put the phone back in its cradle. "Puck. He might be visiting. Us. Here."
Kurt scrunched up his nose. "Is he hiding from some cougar's angry husband again?"
"No," Finn chuckled. "He's just thinking of coming down, seeing the old hometown."
"Ugh. Who'd want to come back here?" Kurt turned to Blaine. "Once I get to New York, I'm never coming back."
Blaine swung his hand. "I hope you'll come visit me when you go."
Finn cleared his throat. "Kurt, why don't you go, I don't know, find something to bedazzle?"
"Because Carl's toolbox isn't sparkly enough! Just give me and Blaine a minute, okay?"
"Okay..." Kurt threw them both a suspicious look. "But I'm not stupid. I know you'll be talking about me behind my back. You like to do that."
Finn bit back his irritation and let Kurt go without saying a word. He'd learned over the years that Kurt didn't mean a lot of the things he said and even when he did, paranoid thoughts like what he'd just voiced never lasted long.
"Have a seat," Finn said when Kurt was gone.
Blaine sat down slowly. "What's this about?"
"Have you ever considered going to New York? Maybe start a music career?"
"That sounds expensive."
"I've got a friend there who said she'd be willing to help you out."
Blaine glanced out the big plate window. Kurt stood beside Carl, his hands waving wildly as he talked.
"I don't know...what about Kurt?"
"Kurt? He'll be fine. We can find a new housekeeper...eventually."
Blaine was grinning when he left Finn's office but it faded when Kurt looked up and smiled at him from where he sat bent over Carl's toolbox with his bedazzler at hand.
"What's wrong?" Kurt asked. "Did Finn talk about me?"
Blaine shook his head. "No. He just wanted me to pick up some groceries."
"He had to talk to you alone for that."
"You had to bedazzle Carl's toolbox, right?"
Kurt looked down at the sparkly box and frowned. "...right."
Blaine leaned down to lay his hand on Kurt. It felt right. Like it belonged there. "What's wrong?"
Kurt shook his head. "Nothing. Let's go home, okay?"
"Okay." Blaine smiled at Kurt and leaned further down to bump their shoulder together. "I'll make some peanut butter cookies."
At the magical word 'peanut butter', Kurt leapt up and grabbed Blaine's hand to pull him to the door. "We're going," he yelled at Finn through the window.
Finn just waved a hand, too engrossed in paperwork to pay them much attention.
Blaine watched Kurt as they walked home together, studying his face and running a thumb over his hand to feel the soft skin there.
When they got home, Kurt turned the radio up and pulled Blaine into the kitchen, immediately going to the cabinet for a jar of peanut butter. Blaine shook his head, amused at Kurt's excitement, and began to gather the supplies they'd need to make the cookies Kurt was dying for.
Things went well until Kurt flicked on one of the stovetop burners and dropped a napkin into the flames. He left Blaine to put out the resulting inferno, running upstairs as soon as the napkin caught fire.
"Huh," was all Finn said about it when he got home. He'd been through this before-their repair guy was on speed dial.
Blaine's rapidly beating heart didn't slow down until he was in bed later that night. Even then, he couldn't sleep, just lay on his back staring at the ceiling. The palm of his right hand stung from where he'd scalded it, something else to keep him awake.
So when his door opened sometime around midnight, he was awake to see Kurt creep inside his room with a salvaged cookie wedged hallway into his mouth.
"Hey," Blaine said, sitting up. "What's wrong? Can't sleep?"
Kurt shook his head, then moved to climb into bed next to Blaine, who pushed back the covers to let him settle in. They lay together in silence until Kurt finished his late-night snack.
"I'm sorry about your hand," Kurt said when done. "Does it hurt?"
Blaine sighed. "I'll be fine. It's not too bad."
When Kurt made a small sound, like he was trying to hold back tears, Blaine pulled him closer and they both fell into a light doze.
It was light out when he woke and Kurt was still curled against his side, his body adding comforting warmth to the blankets. The blankets Blaine, in only his pajama bottoms, rested. He made to pull away, only to have Kurt tug at his arm.
"Finn went to work. I made him breakfast."
Blaine smiled down at him. "Peanut butter?"
"And jelly. I just wish we'd had some bread to eat it on."
Blaine chuckled, running a hand over Kurt's back. Kurt snuggled closer into his side at the contact. It was nice. Comfortable. Blaine could lay like this forever. But eventually, they had to get up. When he finally sat up to get out of bed, Kurt pulled him down a bit and leaned up to place a soft kiss against his lips.
They stayed like this, sharing slow, languid kisses, for most of the day, only parting for food, bathroom breaks, and whenever their touches grew too intense to handle. Kurt leapt out of the bed when Finn came home.
"Don't tell Finn," he whispered before scurrying off to his own room.
He wished they could tell Finn, but he couldn't. Kurt trusted him not to tell about what had just happened between them.
One thing was for sure-after all those hours pressed against Kurt's warm, lightly muscled body, he needed a shower. A nice, long, cold shower. When he came downstairs, still rubbing a towel over his damp hair, Finn was sitting in his usual spot in Burt's old chair and watching a sports game on the TV.
"Hey," Blaine said. "Sorry I didn't make dinner." I was too busy making out with your brother. "You want me to make you something?"
"No, man, I got it." Finn waved a sandwich in Blaine's direction. "I had to stop by the store for some bread, anyway, so..."
Blaine hesitated, then sat on the couch and faced Finn. "Can I ask you a question?"
Finn paused with the sandwich hallway to his mouth. "Uh, sure. What's up?"
"Is Kurt-exactly how sick is he?"
"Sick enough." Finn leaned back in his seat with a sigh. "The doctor wants me to put him in a home."
"What, why? He doesn't seem that bad."
"Like I said, he has his days."
"What's this about anyway?" Finn asked. "It's okay if you want to leave."
"No! No, it's just..." Blaine trailed off and stared down at his hands. "I was just worried about him, that's all."
"Eh, don't worry. He'll be fine-hey, can you do me a favor?"
Blaine waited patiently while Finn dragged out an old tape recorder and, when it was pointed at his face, sang a few snatches of a West Side Story song.
"So what do you think?" He asked Finn after he'd finished.
"Rachel's gonna love it."
Blaine squirmed uncomfortably at the praise. Part of him felt excited-this was his chance to do something great! Another part, one that was growing larger every day, gnawing at his insides, wanted to crawl back into bed with Kurt and block out the outside world. No Finn, no mental illness, no New York to tear him away.
He let Finn put the cassette tape in an envelope, though, without a word of protest. Kurt had asked him not to tell.
Kurt slipped into bed next to him that night, while Finn slept a few doors away. They didn't talk or even kiss, just stared into each other's eyes. Kurt's hand caressed Blaine's cheek and he fell asleep that way, Blaine's own hand resting on top of his well past midnight.
Finn had the next Saturday off and decided to spend it at the park with Kurt. Blaine came along for support, as he was the best at keeping Kurt calm whenever a bad spot popped up.
Somehow, he and Kurt wound up singing a duet together-of course!-and the sound drew others from around the park closer to form a loose circle around them. Finn smiled and clapped along, glad to see Kurt loosen up and enjoy himself so freely. He didn't even seem to notice their audience of strangers.
...there was just one thing missing.
"Hey," Finn said, standing up from the bench he'd been sitting on. "Are you two going to be okay alone for a while?"
Blaine ran a hand through his sweaty, curly hair and nodded. "Yeah, no problem. We can just hang out here till you get back."
Finn took off at a brisk jog. It took him an hour to make it across town, though, which made his legs sore and his breath short by the time he made it to Quinn's front door.
She eyed him suspiciously when she finally opened the door. "What do you want, Finn?"
"Water," Finn gasped.
Rolling her eyes, Quinn let him inside. She had to swat Finn away from the sink when he tried to drink straight from the tap.
"So what are you doing here?" Quinn asked. They were both seated in the living room, one of Finn's hands wrapped around an empty water glass.
"I'm sorry. I hurt your feelings."
"Yeah." Quinn nodded. "You did."
"I've just been so worried about Kurt, I didn't think there was room for anybody else. But he's been so happy lately."
"Blaine's really good with him."
"I thought...maybe...if you weren't still too mad at me...we could try to, you know-date. Again."
Quinn tilted her head back and studied Finn silently, long enough to make him squirm. Finally, she nodded. "That'd be nice."
Finn sighed in relief, then stood up and took her hand.
"Where are we going?" Quinn asked as he pulled her up.
"How about a walk in the park. They've got some great music there."