Set after 'A Very Glee Christmas'. You know when you're feeling really lousy and sad? Well, this is what happens FYI. I'm also embracing the cliché plotline but I'm moody right now so you'll just have to embrace it too.
Disclaimer: I don't own Glee or the Cary Brothers (lyrics in the next chapters), but I might do in the future, I'll see how it goes.
They'd shared a smile as they dressed Mr Schue's Christmas tree, and in the pit of his stomach (and his heart), Finn Hudson had felt a glimmer of hope, or of affection, or... hell, it was something, even if he couldn't describe it.
He was proud of himself, you know. Rachel had offered to sing him a song, and they'd kicked the crap out of the Wham! version of Last Christmas, and she'd tried to kiss him, and every single time, he could have easily, easily responded.
But he wasn't a push over. She was the one that had treated him badly, and he was willing to sacrifice his own happiness for a while to make sure she understood that. Did he want to get back together with her? He wasn't sure. He missed the smell of her on his clothes, and he missed the early morning phone calls, and he missed the banana bread, but did he miss being in a relationship? Finn wasn't too sure about that at all. It wasn't like there was a noose around his neck anyway; he needed time to heal, and though Christmas was probably gonna suck, he could handle it.
He was a big boy after all.
"Have you actually tried cracking a smile?" scolded Kurt, waking Finn from his daydream.
Finn, who suddenly felt a strange sense of disorientation, glanced around the room, only to find that he was watching some movie with Kurt (and by the looks of things, it wasn't something he was going to enjoy).
"What the hell are we watching?" he snorted. He grabbed the DVD case from the table in front of him and rolled his eyes, throwing it haphazardly on the couch. "27 Dresses; seriously Kurt?" He groaned inwardly and let his head hang on the back of the chair because he was pretty positive the movie was gonna put him to sleep.
"It's predictable, yes, but it's enjoyable. Anyway, you avoided my question." Kurt paused the DVD and angled his body towards his step-brother, a look on his face that clearly said 'I'm going to find out why you're such a sulky baby and you're gonna like it'. "Is it still Rachel? Because I have to tell you Finn, this whole charade is getting old."
Finn snorted and glared across at him. "Oops, yeah, sorry Kurt, I totally forgot that you have no heart." He shrugged and sighed. "So what if it is about Rachel? The whole... I dunno, thing with her is like losing your favourite Jacob Marks pants, so sorry if I don't smile enough."
Kurt held in an unbelieving laugh because he assumed it wouldn't be appreciated (Jacob Marks, honestly?), then attempted a sympathetic smile. "I didn't mean it an uncaring way." He ignored the way Finn's eyes rolled again (that was becoming his most prominent, infuriating habit) and sighed. "Look, I know that you two were serious, and you were in love, and she kissed Puckerman, but you have to realise that she's all for giving the relationship another go."
Finn stood up and furrowed his brow, staring at Kurt like he'd just spoken in Chinese while he balled his hands into fists. "And you know that because...?"
Kurt cleared his throat in a dainty manner and ran a finger along his hair to make sure it was still in place (he was meeting up with Blaine in two hours, and he was well aware of his lack of preparation time). "You're not the only one who Rachel talks to," he said matter-of-factly.
"You hate her!" Finn shook his head with incredulity. "No, come on Kurt, I know you hate her. Why did she tell you anything about us?" He rolled his eyes (Kurt resisted the urge to slap him for that action alone) and began to pace up and down, his body tense and agitated. "You hate her don't you?"
Kurt shrugged a little. "We've become slightly closer over the past few weeks, since she actually made an effort to be nice to me." He bit back a comment about the bullying saga because while Finn was being an ass, he didn't need that kind of guilt bringing up again. "Unlike you, Rachel doesn't have a host of friends to divulge information to, and since I have the pleasure of living with you, it seemed fitting that she told me her-" He air quoted with his fingers, pulling a face as he did so. "-'infuriating Finn Hudson problems'. Besides, I think you need someone to talk to, so if you need me, I'm here." Kurt turned his attention back to the television, and when he felt a dip in the couch, he looked at Finn with a small smile. "I know what you're going to say, and while she hasn't expressly told me, I know she's still in love with you."
Finn closed his mouth and gave a curt nod. "Okay, well, let's try this movie, shall we?"
Kurt wasn't trying to interfere, but since Rachel was his new 'friend' (he had a problem saying that out loud) and Finn his new brother, he decided it was in his best interest for the two of them to swallow their pride and guilt and angst and whatever else they were harbouring so they could just get back to normal.
Therefore, when his dad asked him to pick out a tree, Kurt knew he had to act upon his gut instinct.
"Hudson, I know you're awake because I can hear the screams of the innocent zombies that you're annihilating!"
Finn's bedroom door opened two minutes later to reveal a grumpy looking boy who obviously needed some sleep. "I was killing enemy troops..." Finn yawned and rubbed his eyes. "Kurt, what are you doing here?"
Kurt scoffed. "Oh, so it's okay for you to spend most of your time at my house, but when I pay you a visit, you act like it's a huge deal!" He huffed and folded his arms. "I told you I'm not going to repaper your room if you don't want me to! Now please, let me in or I'll tell Carole that you're watching porn."
Finn let out an angry growl that rumbled in his throat and chest with indignation. "Jeez Kurt, bros before hoes." He opened his door and let Kurt pass before he realised what he'd just said. "Wait, I didn't mean that my-"
Kurt waved him off as he raised his nose at the general mess and smell in the room. "Yes yes, I know your mother isn't a prostitute. Seriously, do you ever clean up in here?" He kicked a pile of dirty laundry with his foot and sighed in resignation. "Never mind, that's obviously a no. Anyway, I'm here to recruit you for my secret mission."
Finn didn't respond at first because really, that sounded way too ominous. "What do I get out of it?"
Kurt smiled knowingly. "I hear that you're a bit of a Christmas tree expert. I have a pocket full of cash and no idea what I'm looking for, so you'll have the satisfaction of choosing the pièce de résistance of the Christmas holiday." He raised an eyebrow. "Interested?"
Finn nodded, determined, then glanced down at his legs. "Just let me grab some pants."
Kurt muttered something to himself; thank God his love for Finn was purely platonic.
"And one year we had this absolutely awesome tree that wouldn't fit in the living room, so I had to cut the top off, and I kept it in my bedroom with a little star and everything."
Kurt had been drifting in and out of the conversation for the whole of the journey. Finn had no idea how painful this notion was for him, because Mr Hudson wasn't the only boy in Lima who knew the difference between coniferous and deciduous pines (it was part of the responsibility of decorating the house every year).
He checked his watch as inconspicuously as possible, and with a tight smile to himself, he knew that Rachel would be waiting for them, none the wiser about Kurt's master plan. Yes, he'd heard her version of the Last Christmas (tree) tragedy, but Kurt had figured that the familiar setting would provoke an onslaught of powerful, hungry emotions that would result in the return of Finchel (it wasn't a patch on Furt, but he couldn't complain) and the crowning of a new Cupid hero.
"I'm so excited about this," gushed Finn as he stepped out of the truck into the cold night air. There was something magical about being wrapped up tightly in hats and scarves and gloves (even though the weather wasn't even that bad), the smell of pine trees filling his senses, the sound of Christmas carols, the flashing of lights and decorations. Sure, it was gonna be weird being with Kurt, but it marked a new, hopefully positive change in his life that he was trying his best to embrace.
The smile on Finn's face vanished instantly because the voice ringing in his ears was- "Rachel?" Finn turned to the boy beside him, and with a mixture of betrayal and shock on his face, he gritted his teeth. "Kurt, what the hell is this?" He looked to Rachel, waiting for her to admit that she was in on it too, but she looked just as confused as he did.
"Oh give it a rest Finn. Rachel's my friend, and I wanted her to be here, okay? Don't be so egotistical to think that it was some clever ploy to lure the two of you together." Kurt walked towards the display of trees, barely wincing at his use of the word friend, or at the near destruction of his flawless plan. If anything, Finn's anger towards him was positive, because all Rachel had to do was complain about it too, and on the common ground of 'Kurt sucks', the two of them would be romantically reunited under the mistletoe (Kurt had some in his bag just in case).
Finn glanced awkwardly at Rachel, and the first thing he thought was how pretty she looked (he was desperate to lean in and smell her because he really missed her smell).
"Kurt's a jackass," he finally said.
With a brief, fake smile, Rachel nodded, not looking directly at him. "I'm going to go home. Sorry for upsetting you." She turned away from him fully, not even unleashing her sad, emotional eyes on him, and hurried in the other direction.
Finn watched her walking away. He didn't stop her, but no, he didn't want her to leave either, did he?
He heard a sigh from behind him. "Well done Finn; let's just choose this goddamn tree."
Kurt and Finn were sitting in front of the television, watching Iron Man (since it had been Finn's choice, Kurt was having trouble concentrating on the storyline, though it was uncanny how much Pepper Potts looked like Miss Holiday). The whole 'spending time together' thing had come a lot easier than either of them had expected. It wasn't a chore to pretend to enjoy each other's company, and more often than not, the step brothers began to miss each other when they were apart (though neither would admit it).
Their tree was perched against the wall proudly, though instead of happiness, Finn associated it with Rachel's retreating figure; he should have told her to stay.
Kurt's phone buzzed obnoxiously, causing Finn to clench his jaw in frustration. That Blaine kid never left him alone!
"Kurt, can't you ignore it for just a little longer? The movie's almost finished." Finn readied a smile in case the boy next to him threw a tantrum, but he couldn't see any kind of annoyance on Kurt's face... Kurt's white, horrified face. "Kurt?" Finn grabbed his brother's shoulder and shook it a few times, because he was scaring the shit out of him. "Kurt!"
The boy in question looked at Finn, and somehow, though his mouth was dry and his voice was hoarse, he managed to whisper four words that shattered Finn's heart. "Rachel's just been shot."
A/N: There are four chapter to follow this one, but I'm going for something slightly different, which will be evident in chapter three :)