Author's Notes: Written for the glee_angst_meme, the prompt: "Kurt never says 'I love you' back, because Finn's just in a phase, and he doesn't really mean it. (He does.)" Of note, writing this and listening to "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Mis? Not my best idea ever. I feel like I'm about to cry.
The first time Finn says "I love you," Kurt's more than a little taken aback.
They're on Finn's bed, and it's only about the third time they've done anything like this. Kurt bites his lip at it.
"Beg your pardon?"
Finn smiles, probably at the quaint way Kurt says it, and drags him down for a kiss. "I love you," he repeats against Kurt's lips.
Once the kiss is finished and Kurt pulls away, he just says "Oh."
Finn doesn't mean it, of course.
He can't mean it. Finn's going through his obligatory official bi-curious phase (which usually occurs in college, but Kurt hypothesizes that living with a gay boy may have brought it on prematurely), and is indulging it with the boy he knows to be ever-so-slightly fixated on him, and won't say no. Finn's probably just saying it to get him to put out some more. Plus, he just gave Finn an orgasm that seemed, not to toot his own horn, pretty good, so that's probably playing with the thought process a little.
And Kurt's so in love he doesn't even care. He'll keep crawling back regardless.
The first time Kurt doesn't say "I love you," Finn doesn't think it's that big a deal. Rachel didn't say it back the first time either, and they wound up one of the most lovey-dovey couples ever before the break-up. She's still a good friend (he's so asking her to be his fag-hag when they tell everyone), so not saying it back is nothing to worry about.
It'll work out. Kurt will say it at some point.
The second time Finn says "I love you," it's part of the conversation.
Namely, the conversation on whether or not they should just admit they're together or not.
"I mean, I want to, but I don't want to," says Finn. "I love you, and I don't want to act ashamed of that, but... it's scary, you know?"
Kurt bites his lip. Finn doesn't mean it, of course – he doesn't even really mean the whole debate over whether or not to tell. He sees how angry and upset whenever anyone implies there's anything going on between them (although they never talk about it, of course); Kurt just knows Finn wouldn't really want to deal with being by his side in public, and being officially labeled as Kurt's 'fellow fag'. Some dark part of Kurt's brain says Finn couldn't; he wouldn't be strong enough.
Finn's just looking for an excuse to refuse to come out, so he'll never have to deal with this again once he returns to heteronormative society. He asks so he doesn't have to feel guilty about it. He says "I love you" to butter Kurt up and make him say what Finn wants to hear.
And Kurt does it, like an idiot.
"It's okay, you don't have to," he says with a smile. "I'll be okay with you playing the straight boy by day; it doesn't really matter."
The second time Kurt doesn't say "I love you," Finn's really looking for it to be part of his support. The reason he gives for Finn to stop being a coward already and admit they're together.
Finn wants to do it. He's too scared to do it on his own, but if he knew how important it was to Kurt – how important it must be – he'd do it to be good (or just halfway decent) boyfriend. And no more just taking it when those bastards make fun of the idea they might be together; he could call them out on the fact that's not a bad thing as much as he wants.
Kurt says he doesn't care if Finn's the straight boy by day; that it doesn't matter to him.
So Finn decides he won't tell.
Because if it doesn't matter to Kurt, Finn can't help but wonder why not.
The third time Finn says "I love you," he doesn't actually say it.
Kurt gets woken up with a text. He briefly is thankful that he and Finn don't live in the same house anymore, because that would have just made this relationship creepy. Then he feels guilty, because it's probably bad to be happy about your dad's break-up with a woman who was good for him for any reason. Although Carole and Dad did part on quite amicable terms.
Then Kurt actually reads the text.
Kurt's so impressed Finn actually bothered spelling it all out, he doesn't even comment on the lack of capitalization or a period to end.
Morning. What's going on?
Finn texts back impressively quickly.
nothing. wanted to remind you ilu
Kurt vaguely wonders if it's easier to say that when you don't mean it in text then it is out loud. And if you just use an abrupt acronym instead of the actual words.
Doesn't matter, he supposes.
Well. I'll consider myself reminded.
The third time Kurt doesn't say "I love you," Finn's starting to worry.
The way he responds when he gets Finn's text is annoying; like he doesn't think Finn should just say it for no reason. Finn doesn't get why.
He types I love you – well, actually, he just does the acronym, and he knows Kurt's grammar nazi thing, but he thinks acronyms don't count. Because it's just easier, okay?
Kurt just considers himself reminded. Not a word of affection in there.
The fourth time Finn says I love you, Kurt should be seeing the warning signs.
They're lying side by side in Finn's ridiculously tiny bed (Kurt does not understand why Finn's bed is so much smaller than his, when Finn is approximately eighty feet taller than him), and Kurt barely hears when he says it.
"I love you."
Kurt blinks. "What?"
Finn's staring up at the ceiling, and it takes him a few second to turn his head towards Kurt. "I love you," he says, voice low and deep.
Kurt smiles. "Okay," he says. He still doesn't believe it, though.
Finn reaches out to gently stroke the side of Kurt's face. "Do you love me?"
Kurt frowns. "Of course," he says without thinking about it. But he doesn't know why Finn is asking that. Why does it matter to Finn?
He guesses Finn's just having one of his semi-regular bouts of low self-esteem, and wants to feel like someone loves him. From the sad look on his face, that actually makes a lot of sense.
Something on Finn's face looks uncertain, so Kurt just kisses him. He doesn't want to see that expression that makes him have to surrender to Finn's lies, although he managed to avoid the exact words.
The fourth time Kurt doesn't say "I love you," he technically kind of does, but it still hurts.
Finn outright asks him. Because the more he says it, the more Kurt seems to avoid saying it back, and Finn's really starting to doubt it's true. Which sucks.
Kurt just says "Of course." And Finn feels like that should be a comfort, but it's really kind of not. Kurt's only response is to kiss him, and Finn can't help but wonder if Kurt sees his hurt expression and just wants to block it off.
Finn just really wants to hear the words at this point, okay?
The fifth time Finn says I love you, it catches Kurt completely off-guard.
He walks up to Finn at his locker, surrounded by people, under innocent guise.
"Hey, Finn," he says. "Do you still need my help with that Bio assignment?" Various assignments have been their code-words for as long as this has been going on. It's their way of making dates.
Finn turns to him, looking somber. "Look, Kurt... I can't do this anymore."
Kurt inhales sharply. That's it. Finn's snapped out of his phase, and it about to break it off, break Kurt's heart and break the idea that Finn could ever love him in two.
Given how Kurt saw this coming, he's not sure of the reason behind the sharp pain it fills his gut with.
"What? Is my study help really that bad?" he says, voice light and teasing, even when his eyes are barely containing tears. Then he drops to a whisper. "Finn, everyone's around, they can hear."
Finn cracks a sad smile. "See?" he asks.
Kurt blinks in confusion.
Finn inhales. "I'm sorry, Kurt... but I love you, and... you've made it pretty clear you don't love me back."
"Just let me finish, okay?" says Finn. "I've said it. I love you, and I've said it time and time again... and every time you've gotten out of saying it back. Because you don't love me. I don't know what this is; I don't think you'd use me for whatever; I kind of think I was your teen obsessive crush, but I wasn't who you thought I was, and you didn't have the heart to break it off... but I don't know. I just know it kind of breaks my heart."
"I... I..." Of course I love you, Kurt wants to say, but the words seem stuck in his jaw. Finn shakes his head, and for the first time, Kurt realizes he's barely containing tears too.
"Dude. Just... don't make this harder, okay?" says Finn.
Kurt just stands there in shocked silence. Everyone around them stares, and Kurt's a little relieved he's not the only one gobsmacked.
Finn smiles at him. "I'm sorry," he says, before he walks off.
Kurt's left there to wonder how he could have possibly gotten things so wrong.
The last time Kurt doesn't say "I love you," Finn doesn't think it would change anything at this point even if he did.