Author's Notes: Written as Misplaced Comment Fic for a comment on the glee_angst_meme, which said: "I want this. SO BAD. In fact...I may take it. I am almost finished with another prompt, so as soon as I finish that I am going to work on this. Mind if I kind of focus on Kurt a little bit?" Obviously, I veered a little.
"I can't," Finn blurts out as he pulls back, like he's just been given an electric shock.
Artie just readjusts his glasses and shuffles a little in his chair.
"It's alright. I kind of guessed." That barely seems to register with Finn, who shrinks slowly toward the choir room chairs, still intermittently touching his mouth. Artie just stares as Finn collapses more than sits.
The silence is really, really awkward.
Artie sighs and starts for the wheels on his chair. "Sorry. This was really dumb. I should go."
"Wait!" Finn grabs his wrist, looking absolutely terrified. "Man, don't just walk – uh, wheel – out."
Artie waits. Finn sighs.
"I really do like you, dude," he says. "Seriously. You're like – you're really sweet, and kind of badass at the same time, and you teach me how to do my math homework, and you actually seem to like understand things, and yeah you kind of dress like an eighty year old college professor but that makes you better, like – like you're special."
Artie nods along with Finn's sudden reiteration of why exactly he is awesome. "So, this here is just gay panic, huh? – Not that I can't understand that, but just thought I'd confirm."
Surprisingly enough, Finn shakes his head.
"No. Dude, it's not just..." Finn sighs, and Artie just waits expectantly – he likes the guy, but why does it always take Finn so long to just damn talk? "It's Kurt."
Wait, what? Artie knew Kurt had a crush on Finn, and things have been kind of weird since Rachel broke up with Finn (although Santana took credit for that one), but he'd never imagine Finn would actually be with...
"Wait, you two?" he asks, swallowing the lump in his throat. "You're...?"
"What? Huh, no. Dude, we're stepbrothers," Finn insists, and if it wasn't for how they got into this situation Artie might wonder about the casual homophobia in how much Finn doesn't want that label – then again, Artie himself been bitched out for casual homophobia more than a couple of times before (he's still not sure if he technically has the right queer cred to find that amusing or not), so he won't say anything.
Finn sighs. "Dude, Kurt transferred because he got so freaked out by the assholes 'round here who had some kind of problem with him liking guys."
Artie raises an eyebrow. "So you're scared?"
"No! Fuck, will you just let me finish?"
Artie raises his hands, suitably chastened.
"It's just that... Kurt still has like, major issues with the gay thing. Well, not the gay thing exactly, but stuff that goes back to the gay thing. He's getting better, but things still really kind of suck. I live with him – I have to deal with it sucking. My family has to deal with it sucking – Mom and Burt too. And it's just that... everything's got so much major drama with him right now, and if I dumped my gay issues on everyone, I'd just feel fucking terrible for screwing things up worse. And I can't do that to that, man, I can't. You've gotta understand that, right?"
Artie just stares at that explanation. "Oh. Dammit."
He feels like he should have seen that coming.
Finn twists his hands in his lap, looking uncomfortable. "Please don't like, blame Kurt or something."
Artie shakes his head. "It's hardly his fault he's gay and Karofsky is evil and you're compassionate. I'm not in a great position here, but I won't take it out on him."
"Cool," says Finn.
Artie's probably going to hell for wanting to say how unfair it all is. But it's not fair. How is it fair that he's finally found a guy he likes who has a chance of it working out with, for the first time since he was twelve and realized he was into guys and girls, and now they still can't because they didn't carve out their gay niche before this? That everything seemed so wonderfully positioned for his stupid, thoughtless crush on Finn – Rachel finding out about Santana last year; the final dissolution of whatever was going on with Brittany anyway – and now... this?
Artie doesn't say any of that. He just sighs sadly. "Okay. So, can I go now?"
Finn grimaces. "I'm sorry, y'know?"
Artie just sits there, before Finn looks uncomfortably out the door and leans in to press a kiss to Artie's lips again. Just for a second. A peck.
It's practically nothing, but Artie will take what he can get.
"I just need to focus on Kurt for a while," Finn explains further. "Once the whole make-him-better project is finished, this might work out. I could like, take you to dinner or whatever. See what happens. But... it's not so much that I can't, but I can't right now."
Finn shrugs at him apologetically before standing up, and walking out the door. Artie just stares sadly – he hardly even bothers to check out the guy's ass, no lie – as he watches Finn leave.
He's not going to blame himself for this. He's not. It's not his fault – he hasn't gotten Kurt into that position, and it's not like he had any real reason to come out before this. Hell, maybe not being 'properly' gay would make that not help even if he had done it. Finn's probably right to think about his family and protecting them before everything, anyway.
It's not Artie's fault. He was just a bit late, that's all.