“Is this a kissing book, uncle A?” the girl asks. She has seen The Princess Bride often enough to get her pop cultural references right. Her parents appreciate that kind of thing.
“You could say so,” the uncle smiles. “But it’s also so much more than that.”
“Really?” she asks, trying to sound bored. “I hope it doesn’t have any sports in it.”
“No sports,” the uncle says, “don’t worry. But there’s fighting and singing, tough ladies and pretty boys, true love and miracles.”
“Well,” the girl grins, snuggling into her pillow. “That doesn’t sound too bad. I’ll try to stay awake.”
“That’s very kind, thank you for your vote of confidence,” the uncle says, and then he opens the book.
Chapter 1, wherein we hear Kurt Hummel’s sad, but not exceptionally tragic story
One might think that there has to be a tragic story to explain how Kurt Hummel became a prostitute – a bad stepmother, a terrible fate, an evil witch; and there are certainly moments when Kurt himself wishes it was like that: because bad romance is, after all, better than no romance at all.
The truth, however, is rather more profane, a story like thousand others, like they happen every day in every city around the world: his father a simple mechanic who never found out that he'd fathered a child that one drunken night, his mother a drug addict who raised him in dirty back rooms and alleyways and overdosed when Kurt was six years old. A couple of foster homes, a few years on the street, well meaning social workers that didn't know how to help, closeted cops that could be convinced to let him go in exchange for a blow job, in the restroom of a run-down fast food joint.
The death of his mother didn't mean sleeping by the hearth and picking lentils out of the ashes as much as it got him a roof over his head and three meals a day at a foster home, and his fairy godmother was the director of the orphanage who came to his bed one night and showed him, one hand over his mouth, the other down the back of his pants, that he wasn't completely useless, after all.
His savior was not a Prince Charming, not even Chad Michael Murray, but night club owner Artie Abrams, who recognized the boy's potential when Kurt approached him on the streets one rainy November night, and gave him a job in one of his clubs. The Glee Club wasn't a palace, and Kurt's clients were hardly noblemen: But it was his very own little bit of romance, even if it was the cheap romance of dark red polyester sheets, awful champagne and whispered lies.
No, Kurt Hummel's life was no Cinderella Story, no fairy tale. Which is why, when Finn Hudson came to the Glee Club by himself for the very first time, Kurt didn't dare to hope for anything other than new gossip material and a brief distraction, and it never occurred to him that this might be the moment that would change his life.
Chapter 2, wherein there is a change of tense, and we get to know some of the characters
Working at Glee means, most of all, being safe, because Artie's clubs are under the protection of Tina Cohen-Chang, who is known for being a crazy bitch, but rules her territory with an iron fist. She has her guys patrol the area night and day, and makes sure that Artie's girls and boys are left alone: in exchange, as a sign of gratitude, the guys get to use their services whenever they are in the mood.
Most of Chang's men prefer heavy breasts and well-rounded hips; Chang's cousin Mike, however, always asks for Kurt, and Kurt doesn't mind working for free when it's him: because Mike is handsome and has a lovely cock, because he treats him like a normal person; because he's almost a friend.
Tonight, Mike fucks him twice before shoving a 20-dollar-bill under the snow-globe on the nightstand and fetching himself a beer from the mini-bar.
“I can't stay long tonight,” he says, sounding sincerely regretful. “There are things going on.”
“There are things going on?” Kurt repeats. It's hard to pull off the raised eyebrow when curled up naked in another guy's lap, but Kurt manages anyway. He has a lot of practice.
Mike laughs. “You know I can't tell you,” he says, dragging his fingers down Kurt's ribcage, as if to count his ribs. “You should eat more.”
“Are you saying I'm too skinny?” Kurt asks, pouting half-heartedly.
“I'm saying I don't want to worry about you,” Mike replies, sounding serious enough to make Kurt believe that he means it. He takes another sip from his bottle. “Have you ever thought about going back to school?”
Kurt snorts, rather unladylike. “Have you?”
“Don't be stupid, you know I haven't,” Mike says, and he looks almost sad. It's an unfamiliar look on him. “And you know why. I've killed people. Hell, I've cut off more fingers to make people talk than you can count on both hands. The only way I'll ever leave this life behind is if I go to prison, and let's hope that won't happen anytime soon.” He pinches Kurt's thigh, gently. “You, however ....”
“Stop it, Mike,” Kurt says sharply, and climbs off of the man's lap. “I'm not unhappy. Artie is a good boss. He pays for my ER bills, I have my own room, the girls and Miss Jones, and twice a week, I get your beautiful cock to make up for all the disgusting ones I'm made to suck the other nights. So tell me, what do I need more?”
After Mike leaves, Kurt takes a shower and dresses for the night: tight jeans and a tighter black top adorned with sequins and lace. He doesn't do drag – Jesse pulls that off better and more willingly – but he likes to add a touch of glamor to his outfit, now and then, and his clients seem to like it, too.
Downstairs, he finds Brittany and Santana huddled together in a corner of the club, talking agitatedly.
“Guess who's here?” Santana says in lieu of a greeting. Santana is a bitch, and Kurt is sure that under other circumstances, in another life, they'd honestly detest each other. But the job they do brings them closer together, and if nothing else, they work together on keeping Brittany safe.
Around here, that's enough to make you allies, if not friends.
Kurt looks at her in askance, but Brittany doesn't believe in the art of building suspense. “Finn Hudson is here,” she smiles, bouncing excitedly. Her tits jump under the see-through halter top she's wearing.
“So what?” Kurt replies. “He's here almost every night.”
“But not alone,” Santana says smugly. “And not to get drunk.”
It's true. Finn Hudson is a frequent guest at Glee, but not for the same reasons most of the other regulars are.
Hudson is handsome, slightly awkward, always polite – and a hardened criminal. He’s a debt-collector, levying money from those who are unfortunate enough to owe Will Schuester. Schuester has made it big in gambling and betting, the illegal kind: horse races and poker, box fights and roulette – Schuester is the guy who gives you whatever you want and then takes everything you have. Making enemies is so much easier than making friends in this dirty business, but who is Kurt to judge? They all take advantage of people's addictions, of their weaknesses, after all.
Hudson and his right hand Noah Puckerman use the club as an office, of sorts, occupying one of the back rooms to do business several nights a week. Puckerman likes to mix work with pleasure, and often goes upstairs with one of the girls afterwards: Santana, Brittany, or sometimes both. Hudson never stays, instead goes home to his pregnant wife; and while some people call him whipped behind his back, Kurt can't help but find it rather romantic.
“Where is Puckerman?” he asks, and Santana smirks.
“On his way to prison, as far as I've heard.”
“Prison?” Kurt breathes, honestly dismayed. He's not Noah Puckerman's biggest fan, who is a horny pig, and known for his bad, and often violent temper; but it's always bad news when someone they are connected to gets caught.
“Who ratted him out?”
“You haven't heard?” Santana asks, and Kurt knows from experience that she only sounds that cheerful when she's got dirt on someone. “Apparently, there are rumors that Finn Hudson is not the one who fathered the spawn his bitch of a wife is carrying. Apparently, those rumors are actually the truth. And who do you think is the guy that apparently was stupid enough to fuck the wife of Schuester’s golden boy without using protection?”
“O my God,” Kurt chokes out. “Are you serious?”
“I am,” she nods. “As you can imagine, Hudson wasn't too happy to find out that his partner and his wife had a go at it behind his back. So he pulled a few strings, and now Puckerman is on a bus to North Central Correctional Institution, in Marion, Ohio, while Hudson's beautiful little wife is begging for someone to take her in after he kicked her to the curb.”
Brittany sniffs sadly, and Santana nudges her gently. “Don't look like that,” she scolds. “They got what was coming to them. And now,” she grins, pointing her chin towards the bar, “now Hudson is here, alone, drowning his sorrows in alcohol, and just waiting for someone to comfort him.”
“And you think you should be that person?” Kurt asks. He doesn't quite like where this is going.
“Me and Brittany,” Santana says confidently, throwing her long black hair back over her shoulder. “Do you know what it would mean to get Finn Hudson into bed? Or even better, to get him to come back for more? He's got the money, the power – this could do wonders for my reputation.”
“What reputation, Santana?” Kurt asks dryly. “You are a whore. Even if Finn Hudson would fuck you, he'd leave the money on your pillow and forget all about you tomorrow.”
Santana smirks. “Just wait and see, sugar pie. You are just jealous that he's never going to dip his finger into your honey pot.”
“I like honey,” Brittany says, looking cheerful again, and Santana sighs fondly. Then she gives Kurt's cheek a condescending pat and walks away, a reluctant Brittany in tow.
It's a quiet night, like most Tuesdays are; and while Kurt finds someone to take to his room without problems, it's not like his services are desperately needed. So in between customers, he allows himself to take little breaks, just long enough to do what he knows is a bad idea.
From a distance, he watches Finn Hudson, who has migrated from the bar to the darkest booth in a corner of the club. Kurt has served three clients, and he is still there, a picture of defeat, slumped over the table, nursing his beer.
Kurt watches girls approach him, from time to time, sit down next to him in the booth, sneak a hand over his thighs and down in between; and he watches Hudson send them away, one after the next, with a simple shake of his head.
“It's kind of sad, isn't it?” Artie says conversationally, suddenly appearing at his elbow, and Kurt blushes at being caught.
“He seems to take it really hard,” he replies, carefully trying to make it not sound like he cares.
Artie nods. “Maybe you should go and see if he's alright,” he says lightly, and Kurt turns to stare at him.
“The girls have been trying all night,” he says. “He's been sending them away.”
Artie raises a brow. “Which is why I'm telling you to go.” He sighs. “Don't look at me like that. Hudson is important for us. The deal with Schuester only came through because Hudson put in a good word for us. It saves me a whole lot of bribes, and it's a comfortable arrangement, for everyone involved. I don't want that balance to get upset because someone put his dick where it didn't belong.”
Kurt takes a breath. “Fine, I'll try,” he says. “But don't be disappointed if he ends up punching me in the face.”
On his way, he stops by the bar to get a double shot of vodka. He doesn't have a lot of personal experience with lovesickness, but he knows enough to understand that beer is not the most effective cure.
“What do you want?” Hudson grunts, without looking up from his empty bottle, when Kurt approaches his table. He sounds like someone who's desperately trying to get drunk.
“You look like you could use something stronger,” Kurt says, putting the glass down on the table next to Hudson's hand.
“Strong?” Hudson asks blankly, “strong is good.” He downs the shot, then looks up at Kurt with bleary eyes, and Kurt realizes his mistake: Finn Hudson is not on his way to being drunk. He's already been there, and back. Several times.
“Thank you, Kurt,” Hudson says gravely, his voice slurring. “You are Kurt, right? I have seen you around.”
“Yeah, that's me,” Kurt says, and he can't help but blushing slightly.
“You are a good boy, Kurt,” Hudson nods. He reaches out to pat his arm, but his hand drops heavily and stays there, resting on Kurt's forearm just below his elbow.
Kurt forces a smile. “Thank you, Mr. Hudson,” he says politely. “Let me know if you need anything, okay?” He steps away to pick up the empty shot glass and the bottle, but before he can turn around, Finn Hudson wraps a strong hand around his wrist, keeping him in place.
“Mr. Hudson?” Kurt asks hesitantly. The grip doesn’t hurt, not really, but Hudson’s fingers are clenched tightly around his wrist, and Kurt is not quite sure he could get away if he wanted to.
Hudson stares at him intently with bloodshot eyes. “You are very pretty, Kurt,” he says, almost curiously. “Your mouth ... I really like your mouth.”
Kurt swallows against the violent beating of his heart. “Mr. Hudson,” he says carefully. “You are aware that I’m not a girl, aren’t you?”
“Girls are my problem,” Hudson says and hangs his head, but he doesn't let go of Kurt's hand. “Women are insane. I need a break from them.” He tugs, hard, and Kurt all but stumbles into his lap.
“You are not going to say no to me, are you?” Hudson whispers. His breath smells like beer and liquor, hot and wet against Kurt’s neck, and one big hand is on his leg, rubbing circles into his thigh, dangerously close to his crotch. Kurt shakes his head.
“No,” he breathes. “Not saying no.”
They don’t do much that night, because Hudson is far too drunk, and he barely manages to get hard enough for Kurt to blow him. He comes fast, with a weak groan, and rolls over almost immediately; but when Kurt starts to get up, he wraps a strong arm around his waist and pulls him down. Kurt follows, wary but willingly, and Hudson tucks him against his side, like a child would treat a doll, and in an instant, he is asleep.
Chapter 3, wherein Kurt gets more than one surprise
Kurt wakes up early the next day, disoriented, to an empty bed, an empty nightstand – and panics. Because this room might be his, but it is more or less his office, and just because there's a bed in it doesn't mean he's supposed to actually sleep there. And under no circumstances is he supposed to fall asleep while his client is still there, and let him leave without paying.
He feels like crying, but he forces himself to step into the shower, because if he's going to die today, he'd rather do it smelling nicely. How did he mess up so badly? If Hudson doesn't kill him for taking advantage of him while he was drunk and vulnerable, Artie surely will kill him for so blatantly disobeying the rules.
The club is quiet when he staggers down the stairs, deserted at this time of day, but he finds Artie in his office, doing the books.
“Good morning,” Kurt says guiltily, but Artie merely looks up from his paperwork and smiles.
“Good morning, Kurt,” he says, “do you want coffee?” He doesn't wait for an answer, just pours a second cup from the large pot on his desk.
“Artie, I'm so sorry ...” Kurt starts, even while he steps closer to take the cup from him, but Artie waves him off.
“It’s fine, Kurt,” he says. “You did nothing I didn't want you to. But before I forget it ...” He opens a drawer to take out an envelope. “Hudson wanted me to make sure you got this.”
Kurt sets down the coffee cup to open the envelope. His mouth falls open. He doesn't have to count to see that there's a whole lot of money in it.
“Uhm,” he says. “You forgot to take out the usual rate.”
“No, no,” Artie says. “He paid me. This is just for you.”
“Oh,” Kurt says. He feels dizzy. “Okay. I think I'll go home now.”
He decides to walk back to his tiny apartment in the East End, in the hope that the fresh air will clear his head, but it doesn't really help.
Whenever he reaches into his pocket, the envelope crackles softly against his fingers.
Kurt doesn't expect to see Finn Hudson again, except from afar. The hundred dollars he found in the envelope don't change that. He's grateful, because it allows him to buy new underwear and a travel guide for Bavaria that he'll probably never get to use, but he doesn't delude himself: what he told Santana goes for him as well. He's a whore, a beautiful fantasy at best, a convenient hole at worst, and for Finn Hudson, he was probably not even that – just a source of comfort during one miserable, blurry night.
Which is why it comes as such a surprise when Artie approaches him Thursday night.
Kurt is working, fake-flirting with Azimio, a customer that he knows will follow him to his room in a few more minutes and call Kurt “dirty little fag“ while he fucks him roughly against the wall. It has happened before. That Kurt knows who he works for doesn't make it any better – Karofsky's guys are a particularly nasty pack.
Azimio has just pressed Kurt against a pillar, breathing heavily against Kurt's ear shell, one hand already sneaking down to Kurt's ass, when Artie's wheelchair comes to a halt right next to them.
“Excuse me,” Artie says, in his usual charming, but firm tone. “I need to borrow your companion for a second.”
It is common knowledge that Artie Abrams doesn't hesitate to ban everyone who causes trouble from his clubs, so Azimio lets Kurt go without complaint, even if he looks less than pleased. Inwardly, Kurt sighs in relief.
“Kurt,” Artie says when they are out of earshot. “Hudson is here. He asked for you.”
Kurt jerks up his head in surprise, and sure enough, there is Finn Hudson at the bar, patiently sipping on what looks like a bourbon on the rocks, staring into his glass, and steadfastly ignoring all the boys and girls loitering in his vicinity.
“Well, go on,” Artie says, and gives Kurt a gentle nudge that pulls him out of his reverie. “You've got work to do.”
“What about ...” Kurt starts, throwing a furtive glance towards Azimio, but Artie shakes his head. “I'll deal with him. Hudson is more important.”
Theoretically, Kurt knows that nobody who was unhappy with the service would leave him a hundred-dollar-tip, but when he approaches the bar, he feels his heart beating faster in apprehension nonetheless.
“Mr. Hudson?” he says timidly, and Hudson looks up from his drink, grinning wryly.
“Kurt Hummel,” he says. “Good to see you again.”
This time, they actually have sex. It's more than awkward, because Finn has obviously no idea what he's doing, and it's over far too soon, but Kurt can't bring himself to care. Afterwards, Hudson curls up on the bed and cries, and Kurt carefully wraps his arms around him, and pets him, and waits.
“You can't really trust anyone in my business,” Hudson finally says. “They all want something. Everyone is just waiting for you to turn around so that they can stab you in the back.”
“Are you saying that it wasn't a surprise?” Kurt asks carefully.
“I never thought they'd be the ones to betray me,” Hudson says, punching a pillow for good measure. “Is it too much to ask that you can at least trust your wife? Your partner? You should be able to trust the people closest to you. And they cheated on me. They left me.”
Kurt doesn't point out that Hudson did everything to make them leave. He doesn't know what to say: he never had a partner, much less a wife. He trusts Artie and Miss Jones with his life, but that is worth less than the clothes in his closet, so what does that say? He trusts Brittany to make him tea on bad days, he trusts Santana to call him out on his shit, he trusts Mike to give him orgasms, but life has taught him not to count on other people, not to rely on anybody.
So he doesn't say anything, just caresses Hudson's neck with gentle fingers when he talks about the time Noah Puckerman saved his life, and obediently goes down on him when he recovers enough to ask for seconds.
Hudson leaves around three am, with a kiss to Kurt's bare shoulder, and in the morning, the newspaper says that Noah “Puck” Puckerman is expected to get five to ten years for running illegal gambling joints, blackmail, criminal assault and battery, and extortionate robbery. They claim the evidence is overwhelming.
“I heard that Finn Hudson has taken a liking to you,” Mike says casually, while he's working two fingers in and out of Kurt's ass. Kurt lets the cock he's been sucking slip out of his mouth. Mike has brought Matt Rutherford this time, as he sometimes does when they both have had what they call a spectacularly bad day. Kurt suspects that this usually involves butterfly knives and a lot of blood, but he doesn't ask. Matt works for Miss Jones, but she and Cohen-Chang like to cooperate on occasion, and Matt and Mike make a good team, because they have practically grown up together. There's no way they are going to betray each other, and their bosses count on that.
“Don't be silly,” Kurt says, mouth still pressed up against Matt's balls. “He just – he is grieving, you know? He just needs something to make him forget. This has nothing to do with me. The first night, he was so drunk, he probably didn't even realize that I'm not a girl.”
Matt makes a snorting noise and gestures widely. He doesn't talk anymore, not since Karofsky's guys cut out his tongue in retaliation for giving FBI Agent Sylvester an anonymous tip. That doesn't mean he has any problems making himself understood, though.
Mike laughs. “He thinks that no one who's seen you naked could ever mistake you for a girl.”
Kurt huffs out a chuckle against Matt's skin before turning back to look at Mike. “Is that supposed to be a compliment or an insult? I really can't tell. Besides,” he adds, “it doesn't make a difference. Hudson got what he needed, he's not going to come back. Not to me, anyway.”
Mike gives him a sharp look, but then he shrugs. “If you say so,” he says, slapping Kurt's ass, and Kurt yelps and goes back to sucking Matt's cock.
However, it turns out that Kurt has been wrong, because Hudson is back on Tuesday, and Santana gives him a look that is as impressed as it is malicious when she tells Kurt that Hudson is waiting for him at the bar.
“Call me Finn,” Hudson says, as a greeting, “Mr. Hudson makes me feel old.” Hudson is definitely not old; there can't be more than ten years between them, but Kurt likes the taste of his given name in his mouth, how it rolls over his tongue and drips down his lips, so he doesn't protest.
Nor does he protest when Hudson presses him into the mattress and proceeds to fuck him with a force that reeks of despair and confusion. Kurt can take it, if that’s what Hudson needs.
“That was good,” Hudson sighs afterwards, and runs a hand over Kurt’s back, along his spine, strong fingers curving around the firm shape of his ass. “Your skin is really soft,” he remarks, sounding surprised, almost awed, and it’s that voice, that touch that Kurt jerks off to after Finn has left.
Chapter 4, wherein a state of normalcy seems to be attained
Hudson also comes on Thursday, and the week after that, and the week after that, until it becomes a regular occurrence.
They fuck, Kurt on his knees, on his belly, on his back, or perched on Finn's lap in an easy chair, and it gets a bit less awkward every time. If Hudson realizes that he’s having sex with a guy on a regular basis, he doesn’t say, even if he hardly ever acknowledges Kurt’s cock. But then, a lot of customers don’t, so it’s hard to tell if Hudson is inexperienced, inattentive, or just not really into guys.
A lot more time is spent talking, anyway, and not only because Hudson still tends to come pretty fast. Kurt gets the distinct impression that Finn is lonely, which doesn't really come as a surprise. Everyone in this part of town is lonely, in a way, with distrustful eyes and a sad story of their own.
Kurt doesn’t really get why Hudson would confide in him, of all people, because Kurt doesn’t get to see anything of Hudson’s life except the two nights a week that he spends at the club. But maybe that’s exactly why.
“Thank you for listening, man,” Finn says one night, and glances at him from under lowered lashes. He has talked for an hour about his mother, about how she still looks at him with something like disappointment and regret, even after he gave her the lovely house and the car she wanted for her birthday. Kurt thinks of his own mother, how she had only ever looked at him when she wasn’t high, and wishes he had a parent that cared about his career choice at all.
“It’s nothing,” he says, but Finn shakes his head.
“Yes, it is. I appreciate it, really. You know there's nobody else I can talk to about these things.”
Kurt laughs quietly. “And I'm so much cheaper than a therapist,” he jokes, and is surprised when Finn blushes at his words.
“That's not what I meant,” Finn protests awkwardly, “it's not like that,” and he looks so embarrassed that Kurt just pats his head reassuringly and tells him not to worry.
Things change after that night, even if it takes Kurt a while to realize. Finn starts to bring him presents, useless little things: flowers, chocolates, a CD. The first time it happens Kurt doesn't even know what to do with the huge bouquet in his arms.
“What is this?” he asks, struggling with the flowers.
“Uhm, lilies?” Finn says, looking like a cat that drops a dead mouse on its owner's doormat and expects to be praised for it, and Kurt doesn't have the heart to tell him off.
“They are lovely, thank you,” he says, and realizes his mistake when Finn arrives with more flowers and Swiss truffles two days later, that hopeful smile back on his face.
At first, Kurt wonders if Finn sees the presents as some sort of payment, but Finn always gives Artie whatever he owes, and still leaves envelopes around for Kurt to find. For a while, Kurt thinks it might be a way for Finn to assuage his conscience, but while Finn gets flustered every time Kurt brings up his profession, there is no sign that Finn feels actually guilty about coming to see Kurt.
And considering that Finn earns his living threatening to break people’s kneecaps, that would be more than ridiculous anyway.
The quality of their conversations changes, too. Whereas Finn used to talk about whatever was on his mind, he suddenly starts to ask questions.
“Where are you from? Isn’t Kurt a German name?” he asks, and: “Where did you get that scar? That looks like it was a nasty cut.”
Kurt feels flattered, but at the same time, he's at a loss: he has come to like the thought that he’s able to give Finn Hudson something that nobody else could, this safe room where he can stop being what he has to be to the rest of the world; and he doesn't want to ruin it with a tale of woe and misfortune, of nights spent on the street, of violent fists and cruel words.
He doesn’t want to tell Finn that it was a john who gave him the scar when he smashed a beer bottle on his spine, back when he was still on the streets. He doesn’t want to tell Finn that it was a social worker named Miss Pillsbury who gave him the name Kurt Hummel when he was six, because he reminded her of a porcelain figurine, and nobody seemed to know his real name – not even Kurt himself.
Absent-mindedly, he takes the snow-globe from his nightstand and shakes it, watching the snowflakes swirl up and down around the tiny castle inside.
“What’s that?” Finn asks curiously and takes the globe from Kurt’s hand, squinting at the miniature palace behind the fake snow. “It looks like the Disney castle.”
“It is,” Kurt says. “It’s Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria. It served as the model for the Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland.”
“Have you been there?” Finn asks, and Kurt shakes his head.
“No,” he says wistfully. “But I'd like to go.”
“Tell me more,” Finn says, and so, instead of telling Finn about his life, Kurt talks about his dreams.
He tells Finn about the man who built the palace in the snow-globe: Ludwig II of Bavaria, der Märchenkönig, the Fairy Tale King, the prince who made his dream come true in wood and stone, a dream that would inspire romantics all over the world, a dream that would become the embodiment of fantasy and fairy tales.
Kurt knows that he sounds like a bad travel guide, but Finn listens with rapt attention, and it helps Kurt ignore the voice inside his head that reminds him of how Ludwig's fairy tale ended.
Six weeks later, Kurt manages to fall asleep on the job again, and when he wakes up the next morning, just after 5am, Finn Hudson is still in his bed, strong arms wrapped tightly around his waist.
Two months later, Santana tells him that Quinn Fabray apparently has disappeared from the surface of the earth, and that nobody seems to know where she is. When Kurt tries to ask Finn about her that night, the man looks away and tells Kurt that he's not thinking about her anymore.
Artie hires a new singer that week, a dark-haired girl named Rachel. At first, she barely deigns to talk to them, because, as she likes to remind them, she is an artist, born to do great things, and the rest of them are not. Santana just laughs at her and says she's an artist alright, because there are things she can do with her mouth that Rachel can only dream about; Kurt, however, is in awe of her talent, as annoying as she may be.
After three months, Kurt stops seeing other clients on the days he knows Finn will come. Instead he just works the pole on stage while he's waiting for Hudson to show up and ask for a drink, with that little smile on his face.
There's an orderliness to his life that he has never known before: On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Finn comes to see him, and Mike still stops by on Wednesdays more often than not. On Sunday afternoons, Kurt goes to see Miss Jones, to give her a pedicure and do her hair.
“I'd rather have you do it than a so-called professional that is going to sell my toe nail clippings to the FBI,” she says, but Kurt knows she could easily find a loyal stylist who'd be honored to work for her.
Kurt likes to think that she asks for him because they are sort-of friends, and she enjoys their conversations. Santana says it's because Miss Jones has a thing for him, and Kurt is afraid that she might be right, but he tries not to dwell on it. She has to know that there's no way he could ever return her feelings. It's a ridiculous thought anyway. Kurt is just a rent boy, and Miss Jones rules a kingdom of criminals.
“You are glowing,” she says when he goes to see her on a Sunday almost four months after Finn Hudson first slept in his bed. “Are you pregnant?”
“What? No!” he protests, and doesn't quite know why he’s blushing. “I'm pretty sure I would have noticed by now if that was possible.”
She smiles and pats his arm. “Well, it's either that or you must be in love,” she says, and he ducks his head, so that she can't see that he's flushing harder.
Of course she notices anyway. “No way,” she says, sucking in a hard breath, and then, in a completely different tone: “Don't tell me this has anything to do with Finn Hudson.”
He looks up at that. “Have you been talking to Rutherford?” he asks, and he's got the feeling that he doesn't sound as nonchalant as he wants to.
“Of course,” she says airily. “I have to know what my guys are up to. I would be a bad excuse for a boss otherwise.”
It's a polite way to tell him that nothing he does or says will stay a secret for long, not in this job, not in this town. It's not news, but the thought makes him uncomfortable nevertheless.
“I'm not in love with Hudson,” he says defiantly. “It's just ... nice, to have recurrent clients, once in a while. And he's easy to talk to.”
“Talk?” Miss Jones laughs disbelievingly, obviously amused. “Hudson? Come on, that guy is as entertaining as a chemistry text book. That is to say, not at all.”
“I didn't say that I put up with him because of his sparkling wit,” Kurt replies defensively.
“No,” Miss Jones says. “You put up with him because of his money. Or at least that's why you should.” She gives him a sharp look and sighs when he refuses to look her in the eyes. “I'll let it go for now, but only because Blushing Virgin is such a good look on you, my boy. And now get over here and polish my nails. ”
Miss Jones' words are still on his mind when Finn shows up the next time, with a bouquet of roses in his arms.
“Finn?” Kurt asks while he's arranging the flowers in a vase. A vase that Brittany gave him for just that purpose.
“Why do you keep giving me things?”
Finn frowns. “Don't you like them?”
Kurt sighs. “Of course I like them, Finn. These flowers are beautiful. It's just – I don't understand.”
Finn doesn't answer, and when the roses are taken care of, Kurt looks up to see him play with the snow-globe again. He's been doing that a lot.
“What happened to Ludwig?” Finn asks absent-mindedly, turning the globe on its head and back. “Was he happy, living in his pretty castle all by himself?”
“No,” Kurt says. “He wasn't happy.”
“So what happened to him?” Finn asks, and Kurt stares at his roses.
“He killed himself,” he says. “Or maybe it was murder. Nobody really knows.”
“I'm sorry,” Finn says, sounding honestly shocked, and that startles a laugh out of Kurt.
“He died over a hundred years ago, Finn,” he says. “It's not as if I knew him.”
Finn finally puts down the snow-globe and reaches out for him, pulling him into a kiss. “But it's what you dream about, isn't it?” he asks, before he drags him towards the bed, and Kurt doesn't really have an answer for him.