Author's Notes: Kurt points out that Finn never said no to him. That confuses Finn. He never said no to his mom's boyfriend so does that mean what he did was okay. (From what we've seen of Finn I can see him blurting that question out loud accidentally) (no bashing of either. Kurt doesn't know about Finn's past and Finn figured him being straight was enough of a no)
"Kid. Wake up."
"What are you doing here?"
"What do you think?"
"It's alright, kid. Just stop me. Scream. I mean, it'll kill your mom, but..."
"That's a good boy."
"You're mad at me."
Kurt looks disbelieving. "Well, yes. What are you going to do next; tell me my my hair is brown?"
Finn grimaces. "Dude, what did I do now?"
"You know perfectly well what you did," Kurt snaps. "You talked me out of performing with Sam, and now..."
Okay, Finn doesn't get it. "Now... what?"
Kurt sighs. "He won, okay? This is stupid, but I'm mad he one with someone not me."
"O... kay..." Finn doesn't really get it, but he decides to try not to push the issue. For a while anyway.
Kurt sighs. "Would you just leave me alone now? I don't need any more of your closet homophobia telling me what I should and should not be able to do. Don't try and justify yourself, Finn, just go away."
Finn bites his lip to repress a groan. "Look, dude, I didn't mean to like... hurt you, or anything. I kind of meant to stop you getting hurt. Do you have any idea what the guys 'round here would do to you if they thought you were trying to 'convert' the new kid?"
Kurt glares at him. "Some things are worth it, Finn. I shouldn't have to change myself to avoid offending the delicate sensibilities of homophobes. I wouldn't expect you to understand."
Finn's uncomfortable. "You know what? You're right. I won't get it, because I'm not gay, and it's all that privilege stuff you and Rachel talk about all the time. But... you know, those homophobes have muscles. We're kind of family now; I worry about you, man."
Kurt looks away. "Well, yes, obviously. I mean, I have to consider what kind of danger I'd be in from some prejudiced jock... say a six-foot-five quarterback? Yeah, that sounds like the type of boy to not be okay with this."
"Dude! Way to miss the point," says Finn. "Look, I know – I made a douchey move then. And I'm really, really sorry. But you gotta know, I wouldn't hurt you... like, physically. And I'm not that tall."
Kurt rolls his eyes. "Well, I don't know," he says, voice dry as some kind of desert. "What if you tried a little self-defense? 'No means no', right?"
Finn flinches. "Wait, what? That's not fair. Dude, that stuff you pulled last year was not cool. That doesn't change just because you're gay."
"And obviously you'd have every problem with a girl making similar advances, right?"
"What, manipulating her way into my house and sabotaging other potential relationships of mine? Uh, yeah!" he says. "And don't try denying it; you admitted exactly what your motives were last summer."
Kurt frowns and looks away. "Those were two incidents. The flirting should have been just fine, but you treated it like a full-blown attempted rape. Pray tell me why, Finn?"
"Okay, I thought you didn't notice how uncomfortable I was with it – if you did, why didn't you back off?" he asks. Internally, his brain is repeating don't think about that don't think about that don't think about that, please, but he does his best to make sure it doesn't show. "And I'm sorry. I have issues dealing with people who like me who I don't like back. Plus all that stuff I said before... kind of hung over it."
"People you don't like back," Kurt's smile is pained, and Finn feels bad. "Or just guys? Maybe that's just the only reason you couldn't like someone back; you're slutty enough any girl would do. Wouldn't surprise me."
"Dude, low blow," says Finn.
"I don't care," Kurt says. "You know, you didn't actually tell me no. You didn't tell me what I was doing was wrong. How can you say 'no means no', if you never said no?"
Finn stares in shock. "I... uh..."
Maybe he never said no. But he thought he was making it pretty clear, right?
"You didn't... exactly ask, like..." he mumbles.
Kurt rolls his eyes. "That's not my problem. What, I just have to assume everyone is straight until proven otherwise?"
Finn doesn't have an answer to that one, although it might be that his head is starting to hurt too much to think.
Kurt gives him one last withering glare. "Don't you take the moral high-ground with me. If you didn't want me to, you should have stopped me."
He storms off.
Finn stumbles into the auditorium, finding himself alone. He thinks about what Kurt said.
"...You never said no..."
"...You didn't tell me what I was doing was wrong..."
"...You should have stopped me."
Finn's head hurts.
He never said no out loud, sure. He thought his general attitude towards the whole thing would have made that obvious. With the worse bits – Rachel, their parents – he thought society in general would have made that obvious. And yeah, he did think the whole being straight thing would cover it. I mean, that's kind of douchey, but – he dated Rachel and Quinn (and even Brittany and Santana); he never responded to Kurt's flirting. It's probably a bad thing that hetero is meant to be the default if you've got no evidence, but Kurt had evidence, and he ignored it.
He didn't say no. But he thought everything would say it for him, like, an implied no. Without having to deal with the awkwardness. Really, when it comes to humiliating people and/or manipulating them, shouldn't the 'no' be kind of there already?
Now his stomach hurts. He thinks he's going to be sick. Because sure he didn't say no to Kurt, but he didn't say no when he was like seven to his mom's boyfriend either. He thought the guy could kind of pick it up, from how much Finn did not seem to want, plus the general 'do not touch seven year old kids' attitude people have.
Okay, that's so not fair. He can't compare Kurt to Johnny. Kurt's never touched him. Plus he's seventeen now, not seven.
But still – it hurts. He's spent most of his life desperately trying to convince himself he's not weak, or stupid, even if he couldn't stop the guy. He was a scared kid. Yeah, maybe he's been a bit forceful about the 'straight' thing – is it so horrible if he wants to convince himself there's no way he could think he let it happen 'cause he was secretly a budding...? Does that just make him an epic closet case if he needs to tell himself that? No. He loves Rachel.
He sometimes reads feminist stuff on the web (yeah, shocking right?), and he thinks he remembers that, when it comes to sex, you shouldn't just assume you've got consent until proven otherwise. You've got to like, ask, and make sure the girl says 'yes'. Sure, he's not a girl, but he's sure it's got to apply the same way or otherwise it sort of seems against the point of the whole feminist thing.
So yeah. He didn't say no. He didn't stop it. But that was always okay; he could rationalize it away 'cause... it wasn't meant to be his responsibility, right? It wasn't up to him to put an end to it, if he felt too scared or uncomfortable to say 'no' that wasn't his problem – other people were meant to stop because he hadn't said 'yes'. Right?
Okay, this doesn't make sense. He flirts with girls all the time without knowing one hundred percent if they like him back (hmm, maybe Kurt was right about the slut thing). He even kept after Rachel, singing that song, when she had a boyfriend and he should have backed off. That worked out pretty well, but... he's a hypocrite. He can't just do that and turn around, freaking out because Kurt does the same thing.
But... he didn't freak out just because Kurt was flirting. He doesn't think so, anyway. He was cool when he thought Kurt was trying to ask him out, right? He doesn't remember very well now, but he thinks he was cool. He just didn't want Kurt in his house, where he could... that's bad. That's awful. Kurt wouldn't; he's a cool guy, and getting their parents to move in together didn't mean he'd just jump Finn in his sleep, right?
Then again, he thought Johnny was a cool guy once too.
Bad thought! Bad!
Kurt. Wouldn't. It's that simple. He's not perfect, but whatever. If Rachel can forgive Kurt, so can Finn – she's the one he actually hurt in anyway. With Finn he was just... a bit dumb about what Finn'd be okay with. Like Finn's never done that himself.
And wasn't it his fault, for not being clear?
Fuck. This is bad. He keeps trying, and it all comes out wrong – he can't seem be fair to anyone right now...
Finn starts to ask people questions. He doesn't get it, and he kind of wants to.
Burt looks over his shoulder, away from the game. "What is it, kid?"
They're over at the Hummels' for a day, Kurt and Mom are upstairs doing something, and this seems as good a time as ever.
"Did you, uh..." he wants to ask a question, but he doesn't know what. "Have you ever talked to Kurt... I mean... about our whole thing? How you and Mom got together and everything."
There's an uncomfortable pause. Please don't tear me another new one; I'm just asking a question this time, promise, Finn thinks.
After a long moment, Burt sighs. "Look, Finn, yeah – I know he liked you. And I'm not naive enough to believe that didn't have any impact on why he introduced me to your mother," Finn nods along with this. "And don't get me wrong, that was dumb of him. But... he's sixteen. Gay or not, it's pretty much his job to do stupid shit, and it's my job to love him anyway. So I just don't think about it too hard."
"Okay," says Finn. "Do you think... I should have been clearer about the fact I couldn't like him back? Do you think then he wouldn't have..."
Burt thinks about this for a second. "Couldn't have hurt," he says.
Finn nods again. "Alright then," he says, and turns to watching the game with Burt. Really, that was all so vague it tells him nothing. But he doesn't want to seem ungrateful, so he accepts it.
"Hey, Rach. Hyponetical question."
"Hypothetical," she corrects. "What is it?"
"Guy likes girl. Girl doesn't like guy back. How much can he go after her before it becomes, like, sexual harrassment?"
Rachel thinks this over for a moment. "I can't really say," she concludes. Not helpful. "I mean, everyone's different, after all."
Still not helpful.
She breathes in heavily. "Look, if she's put her foot down and told him she's not interested? He should start backing off. Or at least play it really cool."
He shuffles around uncomfortably. "But what if, like... she hasn't really said no, but she's never really given any sort of signal yes?"
Rachel thinks some more. "Well, it seems arrogant of him to presume she likes him just because she hasn't outright said 'get the hell away from me, or I'll get a restraining order'. Then again, if she's not been clear, he could have misinterpreted her."
He flinches. "That seems... kind of victim blamey."
She looks surprised. "You know... Anyway. You... You have a point," she says. "Honestly, the gray area when it comes to sexual harassment is gargantuan; I usually try to avoid it whenever I can."
He nods along. "So, is that... why you've never done anything about Jacob?"
She shrugs. "He doesn't bother me. Stars have to deal with much worse harassment than that. Honestly, he's such a terrible stalker it's strangely endearing. Except for the time he blackmailed me for my panties; that was just... no..." she sighs deeply. "I probably do have more than enough to do something about him, legally. But it doesn't concern me greatly, so I don't."
Finn nods. When did Rachel become the rational one? "But, uh... you told him no a whole bunch of times, so..."
She shrugs. "I'll survive."
"And it's okay?"
"No, it's not okay. But it doesn't affect my day to day life."
"Doesn't it bother you?"
"No," she sounds annoyed now. "Haven't you been listening? Anyway, what spurred this question?"
Finn shrugs uncomfortably. "Just... stuff." He's not going to tell her. He doesn't want her to wind up hating him for the Kurt thing, given her dads and all.
(If she finds out about Johnny, she'll think you're a freak. She'll never date you again.
Shut up, brain.)
"So, uh, last year... when you were with Jesse, but I still liked you; all the stuff I did then... was that okay?"
She nods. "Yeah. I mean, I hardly told you not to."
He represses his flinch. "Well, yeah, but you had a boyfriend, so even if I didn't like the guy, that was kind of an implied 'no'."
She shrugs. "Well, if there was an implied no, I didn't really mean it. I was more than a little still in love with you."
"...How was I meant to know that?"
"I don't... know; all's well that ends well, right?" she asks. He hesitates.
She smiles. "Good. Now, let's get to class."
She looks confused. "What is, baby?" she asks. On seeing the look on his face, she immediately goes into Concerned Mom Mode. "Oh god, what is it? What happened? Did Rachel and you–"
Fuck! he thinks. "No, no Mom; I'm fine. Things are awesome with Rachel, really," he does his best to make himself smile. After a few seconds, she seems to buy it; she visibly relaxes and smiles back at him. He's not sure whether to be glad or nauseous. He winds up doing both.
"I was just... thinking," he says. She looks curious.
So, how do I ask without letting her no? He's spent the last decade making sure she'll never know what Johnny did to him; he's not changing that now, no matter how confused he was. It'd kill her if she thought she let him get hurt in anyway, even if just by having bad taste in boyfriends.
"Do you remember... that guy you dated when I was like, seven? Just before the Emerald Dreams guy?"
"Johnny? Sure," she says casually. "Why? It was years ago? Did you run into him or something? Or do you... have something to tell me?"
Shit! His heart practically leaps out of his chest, but he thinks he manages to hide it pretty well. "What? Oh, uh, no. I was just... thinking about him."
"What about him?"
"Why'd you date him in the first place?" he blurts out. "Uh... sorry. I mean... okay, screw it, I never liked the guy."
She smiles slightly. "I kind of noticed."
He blinks. "You did?"
"You tried to hide it, but you weren't exactly subtle," she says. He flinches.
"Then... why did you stay with him?"
She sighs. "I thought you weren't giving him enough of a chance. He was, after all, the first man I'd dated since your father died, and you had such an idealized image of your dad, it wasn't surprising... you've never been overly happy about me dating, actually, Finn."
He bites his lip as he remembers new panic attacks with new boyfriends; desperately looking for a way to lock his door, terrified of another man pulling back the covers in the middle of the night to touch and hurt him, and not even being able to say anything for fear of hurting his mom. Any guy who stuck around for any amount of time won his trust at some point – Burt and the Emerald Dreams Guy (dude, that guy dated Mom for months. Finn should remember his name); who won him over with music and sport, respectively (and being the best dad ever to Kurt, in Burt's case). Still, that feeling never quite went away...
...and maybe he was just a bit scared Kurt would be like that too.
"...So... why'd you break up with him?"
She shrugs. "I expected you to accept him more with time, but... you didn't. It just got worse. I couldn't do that to you, so... I dumped him."
He winces. "Uh... sorry? As far as I remember, you really liked him."
She shakes her head. "Yes, I did. But you don't have to apologize. Finn, boyfriends don't matter to me. You are the most important man in my life, okay? I wouldn't make you unhappy like that."
He bites his lip again. Should he have tried harder? If he seemed happier; was better at pretending Johnny wasn't hurting him – she would have stayed with the guy. She liked the guy, and thanks to him, she had to call it quits. Yeah, she'd never want to make him unhappy, but he'd never want to make her unhappy. Sure, Burt is awesome, and keeping Johnny would mean the bastard did more... but it's not about him. It's about her. Between pregnancies and being kicked out and generally being a whiny shit, he fails the 'not making her unhappy' thing, but he tries.
"...Thanks," he eventually says softly. She smiles at him.
"It's okay, baby."
Then she wraps him in a hug, and he holds on for dear life. "I love you, Mom."
"I love you too."
He wants to cry; he wants to sob into her neck and tell her everything. It's not an unfamiliar desire; it happens all the time. And like normal, he pushes it back down. He could never do that to her.
After a few seconds, he forces himself to pull back and smile. "So. Our family's history 101. Probably not gonna get on TV, but whatever," he says. "Although, I guess the guy wasn't technically family..."
(Does that make it better or worse? he thinks.)
They go to dinner with the Hummels on Saturday. Kurt won't look him in the eye – Finn thinks he's still pissed, and the fact they're in Breadsticks probably doesn't help matters. He doesn't know who was at fault now; he's not any less confused. After awhile, Finn can't take it. He winds up retreating to the bathroom and hiding.
It kind of backfires, because Kurt winds up following him in there. He notices that Finn is just staring at the mirror instead of doing anything you might need to be in a bathroom for. Finn's not sure if Kurt notices he's on the edge of tears or not.
"Hello Finn," says Kurt, slowly and uncertainly. Finn can't make out his emotions in his tone. Suddenly, all the energy he had saved up to deal – to let Kurt win; to say sorry; to keep pretending to be okay – vanishes. He's shoulders slump and he's just tired.
"Leave me alone, Kurt," he moans.
He can practically hear Kurt's posture stiffen. "Really?" he asks. "Because I know you don't trust me, but I hope you don't expect me to stalk you to the bathroom and sexually assault you. If nothing else, it would be an incredibly stupid plan, with our parents and an entire restaurant full of people just outside."
Finn forces himself to look up again. "Kurt, please," he pleads. "I'm sorry, alright? Totally fucking sorry. You were right about everything, okay; I had no right to react like I did, and if I didn't want you hitting on me is was up to me to say so, and this is all my fault and I shouldn't try to blame things on you, and I'm so, so sorry now will you please just leave me?"
In a second, all traces of Kurt's pissed-off face are gone. "Finn," he whispers, slowly stepping closer. Finn doesn't know why, and he kind of wants to step away, but he knows that'll only make things worse. "You're crying," Kurt says when he's close enough, wiping a tear of Finn's face. Finn realizes it's true.
"...Am not," Finn says dumbly. He can feel them coming now, hot and wet down his cheeks.
Despite the situation, Kurt raises an eyebrow. "Are too."
Then Finn steps away, staring down at the floor. "I... I just..." he stammers over any kind of answer. "Kurt, could you please just go?"
He hears Kurt suck in a deep breath. "Finn, what's wrong?" Kurt asks, voice high and almost broken. "Okay, you may not trust me, but we both know I'm not full-blown sobfest-worthy."
Finn wants to start being okay, but his sudden inability to stand sort of betrays that, and he collapses onto one of the benches. Kurt sits next to him. "I'm... I'm just... really sorry, you know?"
"Finn, stop it. We both know this isn't about me," Kurt snaps. "I might still be a bit mad at you, but you're still my friend and almost my stepbrother, and I'm worried about you. Start. Talking."
Finn hesitates. "I... I... Did I really have to say no too clear?"
Kurt just stares.
"'Cause I'm sorry, if I like, led you on or something..." he continues. "I just couldn't, you know? I didn't know how to say it; I've never known how to say it, and – I couldn't say it to him, and I had good reason there 'cause I was like seven! What chance did I have with you?"
Finn covers his mouth with his hand as soon as he realizes he's said it. Shit, he thinks. Shit! He didn't mean to say it aloud. Definitely not to Kurt. He never wanted anyone to find out; he didn't want Kurt to know about the awful comparison he's been drawing, and now everyone's going to–
Kurt just stares in wide-eyed horror for a while. "Finn," he says slowly. "Who's 'he'?"
Finn gapes at him for a second. "I – I don't want to talk about it," he says. He tries to stand up, but Kurt yanks him back down by the wrist.
"Okay, it seems either you talk about it now, or have a complete nervous breakdown," he says. "Tell me."
"You're not leaving until you start talking," says Kurt. Finn sees an opportunity.
"What, you're just going to kidnap me?" he says. He tries to force his voice to sound calmer. If he attacks Kurt and makes him furious again, Kurt will leave him alone, so Finn won't have to talk. "'Cause that sort of goes against the whole 'not sexually harassing me' point you're trying to prove.
It doesn't work. Kurt just rolls his eyes. "No, Finn. Whatever you are struggling with, I will not let you provoke me into not asking. From what I see here, you need help, whether you admit it or not."
Finn doesn't answer. Kurt sighs and moves his palm from Finn's wrist, to gently hold his hand. "Finn, I'm scared. You were seven. You have the right to ask for help. Talk to me."
And somehow, that easily, whatever's been holding Finn together for the last ten years snaps. He bursts into tears and curls into Kurt's side; putting his body weight on Kurt like this might just squash the small guy to death, but Finn doesn't care right now. Kurt, for his part, just does his best to hold Finn together as he sobs.
Eventually, Finn's wracking sobs turn to small hiccups. He feels like a kid, but given he's crying about something that happened when he was seven, it kinda makes sense. Kurt just stays there, comfortingly rubbing circles on his arms. Finn's decidedly not creeped out.
"Finn. Tell me."
Finn sniffles, and pulls away. He can't believe he's doing this. "He was..." Finn breathes in heavily. "When I was seven, my mom dated this dude. Johnny."
Kurt bites his lip and nods. "And...?"
Finn sighs. "He used to... you know. Touch me," he stares down at the floor, ashamed.
Kurt rests a hand on his shoulder. "I'm sorry."
Finn shakes his head. "I just... I couldn't tell him no. I could never tell him no. I hated it; I would have given anything for it to stop, but I couldn't tell him... If I said no, I would mean... doing something. And I couldn't. I mean, if I did something, Mom'd know. And it'd kill her."
"Oh my god, Finn," Kurt whispers. "I'm so–"
"Don't. You don't have to say anything," says Finn. "I mean, you had a point. I didn't say no. I let it happen; no means no, but just implying it doesn't count. I don't know; I spent so much time rationalizing and desperately trying to convince myself it wasn't my fault, but I guess..."
"Finn. No," says Kurt. "I would never mean to say – you were seven, for christ's sakes. Of course it wasn't your fault."
"I didn't say no."
"Who cares if you didn't say no?" Kurt asks. "I think there's generally a societal taboo against molesting seven-year-olds."
"Well, there's kind of a societal taboo against following romantic interests into their houses and humiliating people who've done nothing to you for that sake of a guy, but..." Kurt gapes and Finn smacks his own forehead. "Shit, shit, shit! I didn't mean to say that; I mean, of course you're not the same as... I was being stupid and associating–"
"Finn, Finn, it's okay," Kurt says. "Really. I... I see your point now," he says, and that doesn't make Finn feel any better.
"But you – I mean, I didn't tell you–"
"And somehow, the solution is to just keep pushing beyond insane levels?" Kurt asks. "The fact I've clearly brought up such painful memories now only makes it... I just felt so sorry for myself, and kept trying to fool myself I had a shot with you. The more obvious it became I didn't, the more I refused to think it... Maybe you didn't say 'no' explicitly, but looking at your reaction for ten seconds should have told me back off. And I was too self-absorbed to see it. I'm sorry."
Finn grimaces. "Could you not talk like that?" he asks. "You make yourself sound like some kind of a monster. Like him. You're not. You made a few dumb mistakes, and it brought up memories. That's all."
Kurt sighs. "I know. But for the fact I did make everything resurface – I feel like him. And now I think about it, I think my behavior was wrong even without that."
"It's okay," says Finn. "Although, I did kind of wonder... how did you think about it all? I mean, thinking you could change me sounds mean and weird and against all those being-gay-is-not-a-choice things people say. But thinking I was just gay and hiding it... Dude. Rachel. And Quinn. Huh?"
Kurt rolls his eyes. "That's a very binary way of looking at it, Finn," he says. "I usually convinced myself you were bisexual, and simply denying your attraction to guys because it was easier. If I seemed somewhat misogynistic – telling you Quinn was crazy because she was a girl and such – that was more or less why. I thought if you got turned off girls, you'd have to embrace your... other side."
Finn shakes his head. "Dude, not cool," he says. "If I was actually bi, I'd be mad about that, 'cause it seems bad to say they can only act on one half of their attractions at a time. Although I keep forgetting they exist, so I don't really have any right to talk."
Kurt shrugs. "We live in a monosexist society."
"Wait, we do?" Finn asks. "Mono sucks. Is it a big deal? Do we like, put people who've had it on top of the world or whatever? 'Cause I've never noticed."
Kurt cracks up laughing. "Oh, Finn," he says. Finn frowns, but he decides to let it slide. Then Kurt gets all quiet and frowns again.
"So... does your mother know?" asks Kurt. Finn blinks.
Oh. Finn suddenly feels like his stomach's been kicked out of his body. "Uh... no," he says. "I mean, I never wanted her to find out. That's half the reason I could never say..."
There's an awkward silence as Finn thinks. "You know, with him I had an excuse not to say no. I was worried about Mom. With you I was just... stupid."
"For god's sakes, Finn, stop," says Kurt. "You don't have to keep justifying yourself to me, okay?"
"Just... don't tell my mom. Please?"
Kurt bites his lip. "I... I think you probably should. I mean, she's your mom. She can probably deal with this a lot better than I could."
"Don't," says Finn. "If she knew, it'd kill her. She'd think it was her fault, because it was her boyfriend, and I... I couldn't do that to her. So please, just... don't?"
There's a long, tense moment where they just look at each other, but Kurt eventually sighs. "Alright," he says. "For the record, I don't agree with you. But it happened to you, not me, and I have no right to tell anyone without you wanting me to."
Finn smiles slightly. "Thanks," he says.
There's a pause.
"Look," Kurt reaches down and threads his hand through Finn's again. "I'm here for you, when you need me. I mean, I know you don't trust me, with an arguable amount of reason, but–"
"I trust you."
Kurt blinks at him. "Pardon?"
"I trust you," Finn repeats. He smiles and squeezes Kurt's hand tighter.
"But why? I mean, I thought I was sexually harassing you," he says. He still sounds the slightest bit bitter, even though he's obviously trying not to. "Why would you trust me?"
Finn shrugs. "Because."
It's reason enough.