17: Ending, Eternity, Ever After

Technically, neither one of them has coffee. Kurt orders chai tea (that name is technically redundant, but he's not so concerned with that right now), and Finn gets a large mug of hot chocolate. Kurt would usually mock him for the calories and immaturity inherent in such a drink, but right now he has to let it slide. Hot chocolate makes him think of being in front of a fire in winter, hiding from the cold. It's comfort food. How can he deny Finn that?

Kurt takes a sip, and sighs. "Finn, why did you invite me here?"

Finn shrugs. "I don't know," he says. "It seemed like we needed to talk, that's all."

Kurt hesitates, biting his lip. "...What does either one of us have to say now?" he asks. Finn looks uncomfortable.

"Yeah, I don't know that either," says Finn. "Still, at least you're getting out of fourth period?"

Kurt nods sagely. "Thank god we don't share many classes," he muses. Finn seems confused, and Kurt explains, "I think one of us would have gone crazy like that."

Finn accepts this, and takes another sip of his hot chocolate without speaking. Kurt sighs. "Finn, why did you do that?"

"Do what?"

"Stand up for me against those neanderthals. After what I did to you..."

Finn shrugs uncomfortably. "Dude, it's not your fault. And those assholes didn't have a clue what they were talking about in the first place. You're a decent guy, okay; I've known you for like, years, and I have to stick up for you."

"For christ's sakes, Finn, stop it," Kurt snaps.

"Stop what?"

"Stop acting like this is all normal!" Kurt gestures dramatically with his hands, and then gets quiet again. "Finn, you're allowed to hate me for what I did to you. Actually, it would be quite reassuring for me, as it would validate my already existing self-loathing about the incident."

It doesn't work like he's planning, because Finn glares at him. "Well, uh, fuck you, because it's not about you and I'm not changing how I'm reacting to this to help you deal with your issues."

"Finn, that's not what I–"

"Do you have any idea how hard this is? Crazy hard," Finn says, choking on the words a little – he's on the edge of tears, that much is obvious. "I just feel... everything. It hurts so much. You might think your life sucks right now – and I guess it does, with the guilt and the family thing falling apart and getting harassed even worse by homophobic douchebags – but you have no idea what this is. The nightmares. The pain. Just thinking about what could have happened and trying to understand why–"

"Finn, you know what happened," Kurt says. "To some degree at least. You said you believed my account of..."

Finn shrugs and takes another sip of his hot chocolate. "Yeah. But it's just broad strokes, and I'm still wondering... just how I was meant to stop this happening. I mean, I guess I kind of started it, so that doesn't really make sense, but..."

"Finn, it's okay," Kurt says. "No-one expects you to be a hundred percent rational about this."

Finn shakes his head. "You don't get it, Kurt. I have to be. I have to be the good guy and be fair to you; accept my responsibility or whatever, and not take it out on anyone innocent. I have to be, like, some kind of strong survivor or whatever. Because if I let myself go crazy – I'm not going to survive this. Neither are you, probably."

Kurt sighs. "Finn... you are the victim here, remember? It's not your responsibility to protect everybody. Kind of the other way around."

Finn shakes his head. "Dude. It's always been my responsibility to protect everybody. I'm the quarterback, the Glee captain, the big brother–"

"I'm two months older than you."

"–whatever. Point is: this 'everything is up to you, always' thing? Has always been a part of my life. And I'm not losing that."

Kurt takes a sip of his chai tea. "That can't be healthy."

Finn glares at him again. "Well, neither's hiding your stress and guilt over fucking your almost-stepbrother and getting him to think he was raped, for like ever, but whatcha gonna do, huh?"

Kurt flinches. "...I'm sorry." He hides behind the tea, desperately trying to think. What is he meant to say? "...God, I am so stupid."

Finn still looks like he's about to cry. "Oh... for christ's sakes, Kurt, why?"

Kurt blinks. "Huh?"

Finn quite unsubtly sniffles. "...I just... Okay, I knew you liked me, but seriously? Didn't you want to like, think about why I was hitting on you if I'd never tried anything before – even if it was just me being a major closet case, wouldn't that all indicate the booze was fucking with my head to the point I didn't really know what I was doing? Didn't I say anything that would make you think... Didn't you think, if there was a good chance I did want you, it would be a better idea to wait until we weren't smashed? Just... what was so important about getting into my pants, that you somehow had to let this happen?"

Kurt's on the brink of tears, and he still doesn't know what to say. What was so important about it?

He loved Finn. Loves. Head-over-heels, madly, desperately in love. He knew he shouldn't at the time; knew he had to move on, or else it would damage things forever. He couldn't spend the rest of eternity in love with his stepbrother. When Finn propositioned him... it was like a dream come true, yes, but more than that it was something else: closure. One chance to express all his pent-up desire before having to bury it for good. Maybe he was a little rough, even – just trying to get as much in before having to return to the real world.

Okay, he was a little eager to accept. He was drunk, and didn't want to look a gift horse in the mouth. In his own mind, this was something he needed, and he took it, damn the consequences. He just thought Finn was a little drunk, that's all.

...Did he take advantage? Was he willfully blind? Did he ignore Finn's feelings for the sake of his own?

In retrospect, the answer to all three of those questions is obvious.

"...I don't... I don't know," he admits, looking down at the table. "I just wanted you so badly, I couldn't..."

He trails off, and finally manages to look Finn in the eye. The boy is crying now, which makes Kurt recognize the tears seeping out of his own eyes, and shit.

"Okay," says Finn, sighing. "It's cool. I'm sorry I lashed out at you before – I guess you kind of have the right to be freaking, huh?"

Kurt wipes away his tears, which leads Finn to do the same. "Finn, you don't have to apologize to me. Really."

Finn shrugs. Kurt looks at his watch.

"We really ought to get back to school soon," he muses. "That is, if I can reenter the premises without being violently assaulted."

"I know I got your back, right? I mean, I can barely stand to look at you right now – but I got your back."

Kurt's not sure whether to wince or smile. He does both. "Thank you. I don't deserve it, but thank you."

Finn shrugs and stands up. "It's cool," he says.

Kurt notices he doesn't quite fight the latter charge.

Kurt sighs and scoops his bag off the side of his chair, and looks down to check he has actually finished his tea. He has. For awhile, he and Finn just stand there, uncomfortably staring at one another over the small coffee table, and Kurt just feels like he has to do something; make this better somehow, anyhow–"

"Dude. You can hug me if you want to."

Kurt blinks at this unexpected invitation. "...Okay."

He throws himself into Finn's arms, and Finn hugs back. Thoughts resurface – memories of Finn's warm, pliant body pressed against his, and – no. He won't think about that. He should be grateful for what little reprieve he's getting already; after what happened, Finn should never be willing to touch him again, even in an innocent way. He thinks he can feel Finn's body shaking slightly against him, but in a moment of bravery, he pretends not to.

(He has to be selfish sometimes.)

He's the first one to pull away. "So. School," he says, slinging his bag over his shoulder more securely.

"Yeah. School," says Finn. As they both start to walk away, Finn lays a hand on his shoulder. "...You okay, dude?"

"...Are you?"

Finn sighs, and lets his hand drop. Neither one of them challenges each other.