Finn knew, deep down, that parading in a red shower-curtain-dress-thing and channeling the inner Superman-Boy-Scout personality he has always had wasn't enough. Sure, Kurt admired his outfit and thanked him for standing up to the jerks from the football team. But that did nothing to alleviate the guilt Finn has carried around since that confrontation with Burt Hummel.
I can't have that kind of poison around.
The words roll around in his head day in and day out. Four nights have gone by with Finn laying in bed and wondering what kind of person he was. He always thought of himself as the Wonder Boy, Mr. Reliable. You had a problem? Finn could help. His mom constantly passed him around her circle of friends for help with tasks around the house that needed someone as tall or as strong as Finn. And he was happy to do it. Finn knew the importance of helping out friends. If it weren't for Puck, Finn would have never come out of his too-shy shell in kindergarten.
Somewhere along the way, Finn lost that mentality his mother instilled in him from an early age: You help when you can. After all, wouldn't the world be a better place if everyone did as much as they could help each other out? Not many things made logical sense to Finn, but this did. If everyone did their share, the world would be better. Hell, even Puck made it a point to bring the old ladies in his neighborhood their groceries.
That was the kind of person Finn Hudson used to be. He was the nice one. He was the helpful one. He was the one you could come to for a hug or a movie or a ride on his shoulders. Finn was Superman and he loved it.
I thought you were different, like some new generation of guy.
The kind of person Finn has come to realize that he is now is awful. He looks out for himself and constantly looks for the easiest way out of any situation. He runs from and shuns responsibilities because he can get away with it. He does what ever the school hierarchal system dictated because he wants everyone to like him.
First to go is that faggy lamp and this faggy blanket!
The person Finn has come to be is an asshole.
I can't have that kind of poison around.
Finn was poison. And with that thought he rolled over to cry himself to sleep for the fourth night in a row.
Waking up with the kind of headache you can only get from sobbing your heart into your pillow, Finn resolved to fix things. In addition to his mother's belief that every little thing someone did to help someone else out made the world go round, her stance on forgiveness was unshakable: Be the person you should have been from the beginning and all will be right again. So Finn was going to be the person he should have been all along.
And in order to do that, he went to the one person that could help him: Rachel Berry.
It took a while to convince Rachel that he wanted to talk to her alone without the ulterior motives of trying to seduce her from Jesse's perfectly manicured grasp. But he did and he once again found himself in her painfully girly room, watching her fix him a cup of tea from her pink (of course) tea service.
"Rach, Rachel! Put the tea down, I don't want any!" His palms were sweating now, he needed to get this off his chest. So far, the only people who knew about what happened were the three involved in the conversation. "I need to talk to you, please!"
Her face turned to him and he swallowed when he saw her big (beautiful) brown eyes search his for answers he was willing to verbally give her. Ah, Rachel, always the one trying to be one step ahead. Finn figured she could sense his anxiety, because she offered a comforting smile, "Sure, Finn. What can I help you with?"
He drew in a shaky breath, "You know how my mom and Kurt's dad are together?" At her nod, he continued, "Well, two weeks ago, we moved into Kurt's place."
Her eyes widened, "Wow, that was awfully quick! Did you come to inquire about advice with living with other people, because I'm not sure that I am qualified to offer any as I only live with my two gay dads, but perhaps Mercedes or Artie can help as they both have siblings and—"
Finn grabbed her by the shoulders, "Rach! That's not what I'm asking." Under his breath he said, "I probably shoulda done that before."
Her eyebrow furrowed adorably, "Then what is it, Finn?"
He tried looking into her eyes, he really did, but shame crawled up from the pit of his stomach and translated to a heavy blush on his neck, "Um, I—did you, I mean, Kurt, he—"
He looked up when he felt her hand covering his. She offered another smile, "Finn, it's okay. Just tell me what happened."
And so he did. In a rush, he blurted out the entire tale, from getting to know Burt better to the redecoration to Kurt's crush to Gaga and KISS and finally to the second redecoration and the awful, awful scene in the basement.
"And I swear I wasn't calling Kurt a—a—"
"That does not matter, Finn!" Finn looked up in shock to see Rachel with her face screwed up, eyes tightly shut, and hands balled into fists on her thighs.
"No, Finn! The only reason I have not and will not smack you across the face is that I know you're sorry."
His voice hitched, "I am, I really, really am." He watched as she took a couple of deep breaths to clam herself down. Then she opened her eyes and fixed him with a glare, "Finn Hudson, I really cannot believe you sometimes!"
"But Rach, I didn't mean it!"
Rachel glared more, "It doesn't matter, Finn! Get that through your head right now. Even if you didn't call Kurt a fag—" Finn winced, "—you still used the word to describe something of his! And more so, like Mr. Hummel said, you used the word to imply that being gay is something wrong!"
"But nothing, Finn Hudson! I hear you say "That's so gay" when referring to something you don't like or agree with all the time. That is unacceptable! You might be okay with Kurt being gay, but there is something about the situation that scares you."
Finn sighed, "Rach, he likes me, okay? He wants me to date him. I'm not gay. Not that there is anything wrong with that!" he rushed to say at the sight of her face, "But I just don't want—I dunno."
Rachel sighed in response, "Finn, look, I get it, okay? I get it. You were uncomfortable with the situation from the beginning. Too much was changing too fast. First your mom starts dating and before you can be completely comfortable with that, you're moving in to a new house with a new family. I get it. You were on edge from the start, but that does not excuse what you did."
"Rachel, I never meant to say those words, I was just angry."
"Finn, I said that it did not excuse what you did not what said."
Finn was confused, "Huh? What? What did I do?"
"You're homophobic, Finn."
Finn jumped up from his place on the bed, "I am not!"
"Sit. Down." She waited for him to comply before starting again, "What Kurt did was borderline creepy, that's true, but you would have never reacted the same way if it was a girl doing it to you."
Rachel rolled her eyes, "Finn, you found out that Rebecca Astra had a crush on you, right? She always baked for you and sat next to you in English and batted her obviously fake eyelashes at you."
Finn didn't get it, "Yeah, so? I didn't like her back, so I told her."
"Exactly! You told her. You let her down gently. Kurt does nearly the same thing, and isn't nearly as aggressive as she was, and yet you blew up at him! You smacked his hand away from your face as if you were going to catch the gay."
His head was reeling, "No. No, no, no. I just didn't want—"
"Rebecca would touch your arm or run a hand through your hair, but that didn't freak you out. Kurt's affections scared you. You might be okay with him being gay in theory and as long as you aren't involved, everything is fine."
"Rachel, seriously, I don't—"
"You do, Finn. I have two gay dads, remember? I've seen every shade of homophobia there is. Everything from hate crimes to subtle shifting on the bus to avoid any possible accidental contact."
Finn stared at the tea service, letting her words wash over him. Could it be true? Could he be homophobic?
"Finn," her tone was gentle. "The situation you were thrust into, well, sucks. You obviously have issues to sort out with your mom, but there is a silver lining in all of this."
His head snapped up, "What are you talking about?"
Her face melted in a fond smile, "Do you know what the greatest part about you is, Finn Hudson? You have such a big heart. Your heart is always in the right place, it just takes your mind a little time to catch up!" She giggled and Finn relaxed slightly.
"What do I do, Rach? I don't want to be like this."
"The only way to combat ignorance is to educate yourself."
"Go see Ms. Pillsbury."
The next day, during his lunch period, Finn made his way into Ms. Pillsbury's immaculate office.
"Hello, Finn! How may I help you today?"
Finn sat down with a heavy sigh and proceeded to tell her all about his mom dating and them moving in and the Kurt situation, ending with Rachel's take on the matter.
Emma folded her hands and placed them on her desk, "Well, Finn, there is a lot to talk about."
Finn sighed, "Yeah, I know."
"But I want to show you something. I have a feeling that you learn better from the arts than anything else, so would you like to see a play with me this Saturday?"
Finn was skeptical, "Sure, I guess."
That Saturday, Finn met Ms. Pillsbury in front of a theater in the heart of Columbus. It was a long-ish drive, but Ms. P swore it would be worth it. She smiled at him as he approached her on the sidewalk, "Shall we? Here's your ticket."
They sat in the theater, which was about half full. She whispered to him, "This is a show that is always put on. It's hosted by an organization called the Trevor Project. I'll tell you about them after the show."
She quieted when the lights dimmed and Finn braced himself for the show.
Three hours later, Finn was crying openly. The Laramie Project is a play about the murder of a college student in Laramie, Wyoming. The student, Matthew Shepard, was killed because people decided that being gay was wrong. Finn watched as a multitude of characters spoke about their feelings and reactions to the hate crime. He sobbed when the boy's mother and father spoke and he listened to classmates' regrets.
After a standing ovation, the actors welcomed the audience backstage for any further questions. Emma tilted her head toward the stage and Finn followed as she made her way behind the curtain.
"Emma!" Finn and his teacher turned to a young woman dressed in all black. The headset around her neck led Finn to believe she did behind the scenes work for the show.
"Sara! How are you?"
The woman grinned, "I'm alright, and you? Those kids make you want to retire yet?"
Ms. Pillsbury nodded toward Finn, "Finn here is actually one of my students. He was interested in the cause, so I brought him here."
The woman held out her hand, she couldn't have been older than twenty-five, "I'm Sara Cross. It's nice to meet you."
Finn shook her hand, "Finn Hudson."
"What can I do for you, Finn Hudson?"
Emma interjected, "Finn wants to understand homophobia a little more. I thought you could talk to him about Trevor and maybe show him around."
"Sure. The Trevor Project is the leading national organization focused on crisis and suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth. That's our schtick, anyway. Basically, we're a resource for kids who feel like they have no one else to talk to about feelings they might be ashamed of."
Finn's head was reeling, "Su-suicide?"
Sara's face softened, "Gay teens are more likely to kill themselves than any other subsection of kids."
Finn took in large breaths, but however hard he tried, he couldn't get enough air into his lungs. "Woah there! Here, sit down before you collapse." Finn dropped into the chair that Sara provided and took comfort from the (gloved) hand Emma was running up and down his back.
Sara kneeled down to look up into Finn's face, "Why don't I give you a tour of the Trevor Headquarters in Columbus?" Finn could only nod.
Emma, Sara, and Finn walked into an office building and made their way to the 14th floor. Once they stepped off the elevator, Finn was thrust into a flurry of activity. Some thirty people were running around with stacks of papers, answering phones, typing at their computers. The office floor was busy.
Sara grinned, "This is slow for us." She led Emma and Finn over to a cubicle where a young man was talking on the phone.
"Your mom didn't take it very well?" Finn's eyes widened as he witnessed the call.
Sara motioned for them to keep quiet. "Is there any family or friend you can stay with until she calms down some?"
A pause and then, "Okay, Samantha, I want you to pack an overnight bag and head over to Daisy's place. Call me when you get there or if you run into any trouble. Remember my extension is 3421. I'll talk to you soon." The young man hung up the phone and placed his face in his hands before letting out a scream that, although muffled, startled Finn.
Sara offered the man a smile, "How's it going Greg?"
"That fifteen year old that I was talking to you about? Yeah, her mom, on top of being a bigot, works the graveyard shift and quote: Doesn't feel like putting up with her daughter's freakishness."
Sara turned to Finn, "We get all kinds of calls. Some want to talk, some want to understand themselves better and others need help getting the hell outta Dodge."
The man, Greg, turned to Finn, "Is this a new volunteer?"
Sara quickly interjected, "Oh, no, I was just—"
"I'd like to be."
Emma beamed at Finn, "Really?"
Finn nodded, sure as anything, "I want to help, I just don't know how."
"Well, Finn, I can set you up for basic training and you can shadow me for now. Let me know your schedule."
It was decided. Finn Hudson was on his way to being Superman again.
"Finn?" Kurt and Finn were the only ones left in the choir room. Things between them were better. Finn was asked to come back into the Hummel home after Kurt begged his dad and told him about the shower curtain. Finn could still feel some tension between him and Burt, but he knew he had to more to earn complete forgiveness. However good things might be, though, this was the first time in the three weeks since the basement incident that Kurt approached him outside of the house.
Kurt's voice held a lot of hesitation, "Um, do you have a minute to talk?"
Finn braced himself, "Sure, Kurt, what's up?"
"I just wanted to apologize." Finn was stunned, huh?
"For what, dude?"
Kurt looked down, face flushing, "For being creepy. You were right, I wanted to share a room for not so brotherly feelings."
Finn's stomach was in knots, "Kurt, I still should have never—"
"I know, I know! I just didn't want you to think I was playing the victim card. I was hurt, that's true. But so were you. I knew you weren't thrilled by the move, but I didn't try to make it any better."
Finn sucked in a shuddering breath, "Kurt, man, look at me." He waited until Kurt's eyes met his, "We were both in the wrong. But that's like trying to compare a pickpocket with a murderer!" That analogy could have been better, if Kurt's confused face was any indication.
"I don't get it."
"You were wrong, but I was so much more wrong dude! So much more and I'm the sorry one."
"No! Kurt, listen, the one good thing about this mess is that I learned something—I'm still learning and someday, you'll forgive me. But I can't ask you that until I know I've changed, ok?"
Kurt nodded, face still shocked, before Finn turned and hightailed it out of there.
Finn made his way to Columbus four times a week. He let his mother know what he was doing, but held off on telling anyone else. Working at Trevor, Finn learned more about the struggles of gay teens and the bigotry of society. He sat down with a psychologist once a week and listened to their advice on how to deal with emotional and hurt kids. He sent out letters to state representatives and made calls for fundraising. Between Glee and Trevor, Finn was a machine. He just went on and on and on and on.
One day, while the lines were pretty slow, he turned to Sara, "I told you about my school, right? How can I change how those jocks think?"
Sara put down the ball she was playing with and turned to Finn, expression serious, "Look, Finn, I know you want to be Wonder Boy and swoop in to save the day and whatever, but these things take time. You can't just make a speech and change people's minds."
"I have to do something."
"Reach out to a friend that'll listen to you. Try to make them understand. One by one, we can make a change."
Finn nodded, he knew exactly where to start.
The next day, after basketball, Finn approached Puck for the first time in a while, "Puck, can I talk to you for a second?"
Puck shoved his bag into his locker, "Decide to forgive me yet?"
Anger coursed through Finn before he calmed down, "Dude, I can't just forgive you. You have to fucking earn it!"
Puck slammed the door to his locker shut and turned to Finn, "How can I do that if you won't give me a chance!"
Finn smirked, "Well, today is your lucky day. Come over and watch this movie with me and I'll consider it."
Puck eyed him warily before nodding, "Okay."
Finn took Puck to the TV in the living room. Burt, his mom, and Kurt were all out. Puck sat down on the couch and waited for Finn to put in the movie.
In 2002, HBO contracted a movie version of the Laramie Project and Finn bought it for this purpose. It was good, not quite as powerful as the play, but Finn couldn't really guarantee that Puck was going to go to Columbus with him.
Two hours later, after watching Puck's face carefully during the entire movie, Finn prayed that the anger and tears he saw were beneficial. As the credits rolled, Puck jumped off the couch and paced the room angrily, "What the fuck, man?"
Finn opened his mouth to speak, but Puck raged on, "I'm not like that! I would never hurt Hummel! I just—"
"You just toss him in the trash for being himself."
Puck stopped, head hung low, "I—"
"Puck, dude, if there's one thing I've learned, it's that hate is hate. And you might only body check Kurt into a locker now, but who knows where that'll lead. Karofsky and Aizimo already beat him up. And we don't do a damn thing to stop it."
Puck whispered, "I'll leave him alone."
Finn stood up next him and made him look up, "Not good enough. Dude, what if your sister was gay or Beth? The thing is, every gay kid is someone's brother or sister or daughter or mother or whatever. Think about it, why do you not like him so much?"
Puck didn't have an answer. Finn went ahead, "Who cares if Kurt likes guys or chicks? Let me put it in a way that you'll understand: sex is sex. I know you get freaky and shit with your cougars, what do you care about how someone else is getting off?"
The corners of Puck's mouth lifted as he nodded. Finn clapped him on the shoulder, "Think about it man. I don't expect you to understand right away."
"When the hell did you get smart, Hudson?" Finn chuckled.
"Get the hell out of here!"
As Puck left, he bumped fists with Finn, "Dude, video games on Saturday?"
Finn shook his head, "Can't, man, I'm going to Columbus."
Puck looked confused, "Actually, now that I think of it, come with me. It'll be good." Puck hesitated before nodding, "Your truck or mine?"
"Mine, see you at eight!"
"Oh, fuck no, Hudson, it's a Saturday!"
Finn grinned, his best friend was back.
The next day, Puck seemed to make up his mind about Kurt. Finn watched as Kurt was stopped by a bunch of jocks on his way into the school. Finn stalked over to tell them to lay off, but Puck beat him to it.
Without any warning, Puck smashed his fist into Karofsky's nose, sending the bulky teen to the ground. Everyone, Kurt included, stared at the blood shooting out of Karofsky's nose in shock.
"Listen up, assholes, Hummel is off limits from now on. I will personally kick the crap out of anyone who touches him. And if you losers are stupid enough to think that I can't take you, remember Frankie Despoto."
Like magic, the crowd of jocks stepped back, hands raised in the air, surrendering.
Puck threw his arm over a shell=shocked Kurt's shoulders, "Yo, Hummel. Walk with me. Do you think you could help me pick out a present for my little sister's birthday? She's turning ten and is obsessed with the Jonas Brothers or whatever…"
Finn's smile threatened to split his face in half as he watched Puck and Kurt walk down the hallway together. Saturday was going to be awesome.
And it was. Puck asked every question imaginable and if Sara wasn't so attracted to him, she would have shut him the hell up a long time ago. After leaving Puck to listen in on one of Greg's calls, Sara turned to Finn.
"This the friend you were talking about?"
"In the flesh."
Sara grinned, "Nice job, Wonder Boy, nice job."
Puck followed Finn every Saturday from that day on.
After two months of training and spending every possible minute in the Trevor headquarters, Sara told Finn that she thought he was ready to start taking calls.
"What? I can't, I'm too new, I don't know enough—"
She stopped him by clapping a hand over his mouth (with was quite the feat, considering she had to stand on her tiptoes to reach), "Listen, Frankenteen, I have a Bachelor's in psychology and minored in sociology. Trust me when I say that I'm pretty frickin' smart. And I say that you're ready. I'll be on the line too, but the next call is all you."
Finn's eyes widened as the phone next to them rang. With shaking hands he lifted the receiver and waited until Sara picked up the line on the phone across the desk before speaking, "Hel-hello?"
"Hi, I mean hello, I mean—wrong number! Sorry!"
Finn panicked, "Wait! Wait, are you still there?"
He sighed in relief and sat down in the chair heavily, he could do this! "My name is Finn, what's yours?"
"Hey, Daniel, what's up, man?" Sara smiled encouragingly at him and Finn felt a bit better.
"Uh, I, uh, I'm—"
"Daniel, it's cool, man. We can talk about whatever you want, just keep breathing, okay?" Finn grins as he hears a breathy laugh on the other end of the phone line.
"Can we talk about you first?" Finn wasn't surprised, this happened enough. He sat in on many calls where the caller wanted to know more about the person who they were talking to. It was only natural.
Sara rolled her free hand, motioning for him to speak, "Sure. I'm in high school, get pretty bad grades—" Daniel laughed again, "I, uh, I play basketball and football and I like to sing."
"You like to sing?"
"Hell yeah. Best part of my day is when I go to the singing club at my school."
"I wish I could sing. But I play football, too."
"Really, what position?" Finn felt at ease. This is what Sara kept hammering in his head over and over again: "They just want to talk to someone. So, fucking talk. Not that hard."
"Yeah, I just got a scholarship to Williams for football."
"Wow, congrats! That's awesome, dude."
They continued talking for well over an hour about everything from sports to movies to comic books. Well, almost everything. And as Daniel paused to take a shuddering breath, Finn knew what was coming.
"Finn, man, I think, I mean, I know I'm—I'm gay."
"Cool. That's it? Cool?"
"Yeah, man, whatever."
"But you're a jock and seem so—so—"
"Daniel, I'm straight. Doesn't mean I'm normal. I eat pickles and peanut butter and I'm not even pregnant!"
Sara snorted and mouthed, 'Nice one'.
"Finn, be serious."
"I am being serious. What the hell is wrong with being gay?"
Finn sighed, "Yeah, so are cars."
"How can you think that it's okay to be gay?"
"You mean, how can I think that loving someone can be wrong?"
There was silence on the other end.
"Daniel, how can love or attraction be wrong? My type is short girls with big personalities. Other people have different types and some don't have types at all. Who the hell cares about what gender someone is? I don't care about someone else's opinion on my love life, why should anyone care about mine? It's your life and if guys float your boat, then keep sailing dude."
Finn (and Sara) held his breath and waited for the response, "My parents are going to hate me."
"They might not be thrilled with it, not gonna lie, but they are your parents. You can't choose them and they can't choose you. You're going to college! Do whatever you want there and figure yourself out more. And when the time comes, you can tell your parents or you don't. The important thing is to accept yourself for who you are: A normal dude who plays kick-ass football and is attracted to other dudes."
"Not all of it, but the most important. Love yourself, dude, or no one else can."
Another shuddering breath, "Okay, I can do that. I'm not going to tell my parents yet, but I'll think about it."
"Baby steps, man, baby steps."
"Thanks, Finn. You're really cool." Finn thought back to when Kurt said those same words and his heart swelled.
"You're really cool, too, Daniel. Good luck with finals and have fun in college, dude!"
Daniel laughs, "I will, dude."
"Night." Finn hung up the phone, exhaled a huge breath, and slumped forward on his desk. He jolted up when the sound of loud applause surrounded him. Looking around, he saw all thirty of the other workers and volunteers on their feet and clapping. Sara wrapped her arms around his neck, "Way to go, Wonder Boy."
Sara's boss, Mike, walked over to them, still clapping, "Nice job, Finn. You've got a real talent for this."
Finn beamed, "Thanks, Mike, that was really scary."
"And there will be scarier, but isn't it worth it?" It was, it really was.
The next month was filled with calls. And not all of them ended as well as Daniel's did. No matter how hard Finn tried, he couldn't convince some kids that they were fine and that it was society that was wrong and unnatural and sick. That hate will always be in wrong and love was never (pedophilia excluded). Many a time he would come home and hug his mom, thanking her for loving him no matter what. Many a time he would just sit with Kurt as the smaller boy did homework or planned outfits or watched fashion shows and reminded himself why he did what he did. Why he tortured himself with the tears and burdens of kids.
Not everyone was as happy with themselves as Kurt Hummel was. Hell, Finn wasn't as proud of who he was as Kurt was.
It was during one of those times that he spoke to Kurt with a broken voice. He was in Kurt's room (he had long since got his own room), doing homework with him when he choked, "Hey, Kurt?"
The boy in question looked up at him with questioning blue eyes, "Yes, Finn?"
"For what?" There was trepidation in his voice and Finn hated it.
"For calling you a fag." Kurt flinched.
"Not directly, but I was scared. Scared of you, Kurt."
Kurt nodded, eyes filling with tears, "O-okay."
"I'm not. Anymore. Kurt, you're one of my best friends now and I am so, so sorry I ever thought those things. I don't anymore."
Kurt wiped his eyes with the back of his hand, "I know. I've known ever since Puck started hanging out with me. You convinced him, so you had to believe it yourself."
"Do you want a hug?"
Wordlessly, Finn got up from the couch to the chair that Kurt was sitting in. He pulled up the smaller boy to his feet and wrapped him up in a large bear hug, "I'd love one."
The end of June was fast approaching and so was Nationals. Which is why Finn found himself in the choir room for the fifth afternoon that week. Schue was cracking down on them, making each one of their seven numbers flawless. Finn was exhausted. In fact, the only one not exhausted was Rachel. No surprise there. The small diva chatted excitedly with a tired, but pleased-looking Kurt, before getting up to face the club.
"Fellow glee clubbers, Mr. Schuester has kindly allowed me to make an announcement!" Mercedes groaned, but stifled her comments when Kurt patted her arm, "Tomorrow is Saturday and—"
Santana cut her off, "If you want us to rehearse, I'll kill you, Berry."
"Santana, I am not asking for an extra rehearsal. This is much more important. Tomorrow marks the annual Columbus Pride March!"
Finn internally groaned, he knew what was coming, "And my two gay dads and I attend every year and this year, invite all of you to come as well!"
Schue stepped up beside her, "Guys, this isn't mandatory, but it would mean a lot to me if you could make it. I'm offering a carpool. I have three spaces."
Kurt spoke up, "My dad and Carol are coming as well, but that still leaves four spots in my car."
"And Quinn is coming with me and my dads, but there is one more spot!"
Finn panicked, he was going too, but he wanted to keep it a surprise. Now he had to announce to the entire club and look like the biggest douche.
Fortunately, Puck spoke up, "Finn and I have something to do tomorrow, but we'll meet you up there."
Everyone turned to Puck in shock, "What? We'll be there."
Kurt spoke softly, "Finn, Puck, you don't have to come if you don't want to." Finn heard the disappointment in his tone. Damn it!
"Yo, Hummel! I said we'd be there, so we'll be there. Shut your trap already." Kurt glared, but Finn could see a pleased smile inching on to his face.
So it was decided, Artie would go up with his dad in their special van, taking Tina, Santana, and Brittany with him. Mercedes, Mike, and Matt were grabbing a ride with Kurt's dad and Rachel and Quinn with the Berrys.
Kurt grinned from the back seat of his Navigator as he watched his dad and Carol converse over the blaring sounds of his music. The kids were having their own dance party in the back and the adults just had to deal with Lady Gaga. He bounced along to the beat of 'Bad Romance', but bounced for different reasons. He was excited! This was Kurt's first Pride Parade and he couldn't wait to see all the floats and attractions and people being happy for who they were. He voiced this to Mercedes who fixed him with a pointed stare.
"Boy, please, who do you think you're kidding? You're excited for all those fine gay men!"
Kurt pumped his fist in the air, "Oh, hell yes!"
Burt, who surprisingly heard their conversation over Gaga, "Oh, hell no."
"Aw, Dad, come on!"
"Yeah, Mr. H, this will probably be Kurt's only chance to get some action all year!" Mike was trying to be helpful, he really was. Didn't stop Mercedes from reaching into the backmost seat and smacking him.
"Yeah, so I should totally let my boy be petted by horny men." Kurt heard his father's sardonic tone and replied in kind.
"Dad, think of it this way. If you let me get it out of my system now, then I'll probably stop sneaking out Saturday nights to go to that gay bar on Pine St." Kurt smirked at Mercedes as she struggled to keep her laughter at bay.
"WHAT?" Carol screamed as Burt swerved a little into the next lane. Kurt and his friends burst into laughter.
"Mr. H., Kurt looks like a fetus. How is he supposed to get into a bar?"
Burt took in even breaths before replying, "Kurt, do that again and I guarantee I won't survive. Give your old man a break, k? You can talk to nice, young boys at the parade and maybe exchange e-mail addresses or something."
The rest of their ride consisted of many scenes like this one.
The parade was, well, fabulous, for lack of a better word. Rachel dragged them to a stand near a large crowd of what looked like other high school students.
"Daddy and Papa say that this is always the best venue! It's where the parade ends, so we'll see everything soon. Also, a lot of speeches are made here!"
Kurt thrummed with excitement as he took it all in. There were so many people! Thousands of men, women, and children waved rainbow flags and carried signs proclaiming their love for each other. Kurt also took in the sight of the glee club in their newly made rainbow tie-dye shirts. Everyone had them: Schue, the kids, Burt, Carol. Mercedes hugged him from behind, laughing and pointing to different sights in the crowd.
Rachel grabbed his hand in excitement and yelled, "Look! Here they come!"
Kurt followed her finger and sure enough, the parade had begun. He laughed and cheered with the rest of the crowd as "Dykes on Bikes" made their way down the parade route. He watched as women clad head to toe in leather rode their huge Harleys and waved whips and chains over their heads.
Mike jumped on his back, "Dude, this is so cool!"
It really was. Every float or group outdid the one before. Kurt found himself saluting police officers for the first time as GOAL, the Gay Officers' Action League, marched pass them in their uniforms. The club bounced and jumped to 'Girls Just Wanna Have Fun' as a float for Lesbians in Law drove through.
Kurt was checking out the crowd around him when he heard Carol and Quinn gasp behind him.
"What? What's going on?" Both females had tears in their eyes as they pointed to the next group.
Kurt squinted and gasped too, when he saw what they were talking about. The group was made of older men and women, marching in pairs, holding signs. Reading the sign that two old men in WWII uniforms were holding between them, Kurt teared up. The sign proclaimed, "TOGETHER FOR FIFTY-THREE YEARS."
Kurt was startled as his father came up beside him and clasped a hand on each of his shoulders. Burt leaned down to speak in his son's ear, "I can't wait to see you like that, Kurt."
Kurt sobbed as he turned and threw his body into his father's. Rachel and Quinn cried openly beside him and Mike led the rest of the club in a chant, "BURT! BURT BURT! BURT!"
Kurt laughed as he wiped his eyes, "Guys, shut up! People are staring!"
A boy from the group standing next to them yelled, "Let them stare! Everyone could learn a thing or two from your dad!" Mr. Schue laughed.
Kurt took a second to look at the wildly grinning boy. He was really attractive, mocha skin and bright green eyes, "I'm Kurt."
The boy grinned wider at the offered hand. Instead of shaking it, however, he hugged Kurt, laughing when the shorter boy stiffened slightly, "I'm Tory, nice to meet you. You have a really cool dad!"
Kurt grinned, "Yeah, yeah I do."
They exchanged Facebook information before turning back to their respective groups. Not a second before being back, was Kurt manhandled into a circle of his girlfriends. Mercedes whisper-yelled, "You had better have gotten that boy's number. He is hot!"
Rachel nodded frantically, "He was very attractive, Kurt."
"I have eyes too. Don't worry, I got his Facebook!"
Quinn pumped a fist, "Yes! Pictures!" Kurt hadn't thought of that, this was awesome!
Before he had a chance to reply, Santana yelled, "Yo, Kurt! Hot shirtless men in leather pants coming up!"
The girls quickly rushed over, "What? WHERE?"
Kurt squeezed his way through, "Girls, they're gay. This is my turn to ogle."
Tina raised an eyebrow from her place in Artie's lap, "It's not like you don't ogle straight boys. Turnabout is fair play."
Kurt blushed before returning his gaze to the enormous float of gyrating shirtless men. There is a God!
The club shrieked as they were hit in the head by flying objects thrown from the float. Kurt caught one and blushed as he examined it. It was packets of lube. Oh, the joys of the Pride Parade, "Alright, alright, unless you're planning on engaging in anal play, I want all of you to give me your packets!"
The guys and girls had no hesitation as they handed over their lube, "Guys, I was just kidding!"
Santana snorted, "As if I didn't have a bottle at home." That garnered her some strange looks.
Attention was taken off of her when Mr. Schue gasped, "I must be seeing things!'
Rachel tried to look at what he was looking at, "What is it, Mr. Schuest—Oh my God, it's Noah!"
Kurt's mouth dropped open as he examined the now-stopped float. Noah Puckerman was one of those dancing, shirtless men.
Puck grinned shark-like as he leaned over the railing, "Told you we'd be here, Hummel!"
Kurt's eyes have never been so wide, "What are you doing, Puck?"
"Dancing!" The club as a whole gasped as Puck was grabbed by the back of his leather pants and turned around by a taller, equally muscular man who proceed to ravish Puck's mouth. They gasped even more as Puck, instead to shoving him off and beating the living daylights of the pale man, fisted a hand in his hair and deepened the kiss.
Rachel summed it up perfectly, "I don't think I can breathe." Kurt nodded mutely next to her, not daring to take his sight off of the hottest thing ever.
Puck broke the kiss and licked his lips. His 'friend' smiled and said, "You up for joining my boyfriend and I tonight at the club?" Kurt practically drooled as he watched the older man's eyebrow lift suggestively.
"Sorry, dude, I'm sixteen. Don't want to get you in trouble."
The older man smiled, "Aw, how considerate. What a shame though." With one last full-body sweep and a squeeze of Puck's (sculpted) ass, he sauntered away. Puck openly checked out his ass before turning back to his openly gaping friends, "What?"
Mr. Schue coughed, "Puck, are you gay?"
"No, but I'm pretty sure I don't give a fuck as long as they're hot."
Kurt snorted, "You would be pan-sexual."
Santana shushed him, "Shut up!" she hissed, "If the boy wants to make out with hot boys, let him make out with hot boys!"
"Believe me, I'm not complaining."
Puck turned to the only clothed guy on the float, spoke to him for a second before shaking his hand and jumping off the float to join his friends. The club flocked him, attacking him with questions.
"When did you find out you were bi?"
"How did you join a lube company for the parade?"
"Where the hell is Finn?"
At Mercedes' question, everyone looked around for a presumably-shirtless Finn.
"Relax, he's not here yet. He's with the last group."
Rachel checked her watch, "It's already four, the last group should be here soon."
Puck threw a sweaty arm over Kurt's shoulders, "So, Hummel, like anything you see?" He flexed his other arm tantalizingly and Kurt's mouth dried. He kept cool, however, "Yeah, actually. Do you think you could get me the number of that guy you made out with? He was really hot."
"Come on, Hummel! You have a verified stud right here!"
"Mohawk, either put a shirt on or take your hands off of my son."
"Sir, yes, sir!" Puck waggled his eyebrows at Kurt before throwing on a tight black shirt and placing his arm back across Kurt's shoulders. Kurt blushed before wrapping an arm around Puck's waist, leaning more into the embrace. Mercedes and Quinn 'awww'ed while Rachel snapped pictures. Kurt was very content.
About ten minutes later, the last group came to the finish. Rachel bounced on the balls of her feet excitedly, "It's the Trevor Project!"
Matt furrowed his brow, "What's that?"
Kurt and Rachel started, "It's—" Kurt sighed and signaled for Rachel to continue.
"It's an organization that provides a 24-hour suicide prevention hotline for gay, lesbian, trans, bisexual, and questioning teens. They do a lot of work to promote gay rights campaigns."
Kurt nodded, "And they aren't just for suicide prevention. They're really there just to talk. The first time I admitted I was gay out loud, it was to a person at Trevor."
As the group got closer, waving their orange banners, the Glee club could hear the chant, "Gay, Straight, Black, White! Marriage is a Civil Right!" come from the mass of people marching.
Rachel's dads, for the first time that day, raised their voices, "Gay, Straight, Black, White! Marriage is a Civil Right!"
Burt stood by them and punched his fist in the air, bellowing, "Gay, Straight, Black, White! Marriage is a Civil Right!"
Kurt was in tears as his friends, his family shouted at the top of their lungs their wishes for equality.
They were silenced however at a sight that will forever be imprinted in his mind. There, in the crowd of men and women that made up the Trevor group, stood Finn Hudson, waving a sign above his head, No H8 tattoo on his cheek, chanting with the rest of the crowd.
The sign? The sign proudly stated:
My (Almost) Step-Brother is the Coolest Guy I Know
Rachel jumped on Kurt, tears streaming down her face, yelling, "Did you see, Kurt? Did you see?"
Burt applauded as Carol waved frantically to her son, a son she's never been so proud of.
It took a while, but the crowd finally settled. What looked to be the leader of the group climbed to stand on the platform that has been used for speeches all day. He was a middle-aged man with a lean figure and curly blonde hair. The crowd hushed as he took the mic, "Hello everyone, I'm Mike Thompson and I am the Ohio Director of the Trevor Project. The Trevor Project, for those of you that don't know, is a suicide prevention hotline for LGBTQ youth.
"Suicide is the leading cause of death among teenagers and, to date, an overwhelming portion of those cases are LGBTQ. We're here to provide a resource for kids and we will not rest until every sexuality is as American as apple pie!" He paused to allow for the massive uproar of applause and cheering that erupted.
"Thank you, thank you. I have to say, this organization would be nothing without the dedication and passion of our workers and volunteers. At the Pride Parade every year, we like to acknowledge these men and women that devote their time and energy to this great cause. In particular, we honor one volunteer that has shown exceptional promise and unbelievable courage.
"We at the Trevor Project like to think of all our volunteers as heroes, because they are. And the honor we bestow is known as the Hero of the Year. This year, a surprising candidate has been chosen as Hero of the Year. He is not only our newest volunteer, but also our youngest. Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for our Hero of the Year, Finn Hudson!"
Kurt gasped and looked at Finn, who looked just as shocked as he felt. Carol burst into tears behind him and the Glee club went crazy as Finn took the stage in a daze. Rachel must have blew out her voice by how loudly she was screaming next to Kurt's ear.
Mike Thompson wasn't finished, "In the four months that he has been with us, Finn has proven himself a wonderful role model and beautiful human being. I'm honored to work with him." He clapped Finn on the shoulder before pushing the tall teen to the mic.
"Uh, hi everybody." Kurt and Puck laughed at Finn's awkwardness, "Geez, there's a lot of people." The crowd tittered at his words.
"Uh, okay. I guess I just want to say that I care so much about this job because I know first hand the kind of damage words and hate can do. I used to be one of those people that used the word 'gay' to describe something stupid or unfair. I used to pick on the gay kids in my school. I—" Here he faltered, voice coating with unshed tears.
Kurt was gone. He sobbed into Puck's chest as he thought how amazing and wonderful this awkward boy was.
"The worst moment of my life has been when I called by almost-step-brother a fag." The crowd gasped, before breaking out into thunderous applause. Kurt was lifted onto Matt and Puck's shoulders as he screamed and cheered for Finn, his almost-step-brother.
Finn spoke into the mic with more determination, "I was wrong and I know that now. But I would not have known that without the help of one of my best friends, Rachel, and my almost-step-dad, Burt. Their love and acceptance changed me and I hope mine changes others."
The crowd cheered harder than ever. Finn was quite the public speaker, "But, most of all, I just wanted you guys to know about my almost-step-brother, Kurt. He's the real hero, who, after being bullied every day for who he is, walks around the school like he owns the place. Because he loves himself, so why shouldn't others?" Puck and Matt bounced up and down, taking Kurt with them.
"And, I'm hoping this is okay with Mike, but I'd like to introduce you to Kurt, who will entertain all of us with a flawless performance of 'Defying Gravity'!" Kurt gasped and almost fell off the shoulders he was sitting on. Rachel tugged him down and shoved him toward the stage, "Go! We'll sing back up!"
"Rachel, I can't—"
"Yes you can! Today is your day, Kurt!"
Kurt couldn't argue as one by one, New Directions took the stage, looking ridiculous and fabulous in their tie-dye shirts. Finn walked up to the stage, "This is my glee club. From Lima, Ohio, here is New Directions led by Kurt Hummel!"
Kurt swallowed as the crowd, which must have consisted of hundreds, if not thousands, of people, cheered.
He walked up to the mic and spoke, "Uh, sorry if we sound hoarse. Most of our voices are gone from cheering on our favorite lead baritone, Finn."
He waited for the club to start and start they did. Much like 'Lean on Me', they hummed and swayed in the background. Kurt took a breath and sang, "Something has changed within me, something is not the same. I'm through with playing with the rules of someone else's game!"
They were flawless. Will Schuester would bet money that this was New Directions' best performance to date. Kurt let the song migrate from his heart and out to the crowd, who was still screaming. At the moment of truth, the high F, Kurt closed his eyes and let every thing soar, "And you won't bring me down!"
Burt and Will whooped next to each other, overjoyed with the performance before them.
As Kurt finished the song with a wail, the club rushed to him, screaming their delight and praise. Kurt cried and laughed, making his way over to Finn, "You make it really hard not to love you, Finn Hudson."
Finn grabbed Kurt's arm and raised it up over his head in victory, "Gay, Straight, Black, White! Marriage is a Civil Right!"
It took a really long time for them to calm down and make their way into a Starbucks for some much needed refreshments.
Burt took Finn aside, "Finn, son, you did good. Hell, you did excellent. I'm proud of you kid."
Finn's smile was blinding, "Thanks, Burt. That means a lot."
Kurt rushed over to them, practically shaking, "Finn, Finn, Puck wants me to go out to dinner with him tomorrow. This is so exciting!"
Finn and Burt both started, "Hold up—" "Hell no!"
Kurt glared at the two of them, "I didn't come here to ask permission. I was just letting you know." And with that, he went off to sit in a chair meant for one, that Puck was already occupying.
Burt rubbed his face tiredly, "This is a nightmare."
Finn shrugged, "It's not that bad. Puck is a good guy. And you and I could always tail them tomorrow."
"You've got yourself a deal, Hudson."