Finn was surprised by Kurt's invitation to go to the gay dance club in Dayton. The surprising thing wasn't that Kurt wanted him to go. It was that his father was willing to let them.
Kurt had the thing all planned out before he sprung it on them after dinner, while they were all cleaning up. "It's this great club called Masque," Kurt explained, his hands telling the story as much as his bright eyes. His voice always got really high when he was excited, and right now, he sounded a little like Beyonce. "Blaine says it's awesome. They have real DJs and everything. Usually you have to be 18 to get in, but they have one night each month when it's open to kids 16 and up. That night is this Friday." He looked at Burt with hope. "Can I go, Dad? Please? I wouldn't drink, and I wouldn't forget anything you told me about being safe. Really."
Carole and Burt had listened to Kurt's plea with polite silence, occasionally making eye contact while they cleared the table. "Dayton's almost two hours away, Kurt," said Burt at last. "I wouldn't feel comfortable with you driving home so late at night."
"I thought about that, too," said Kurt. "I have enough money saved up for cover and a motel room. I could come home right after breakfast. It would be completely safe."
"That sounds reasonable," Carole said. Kurt shot her a grateful smile, and she covered her grin with a napkin. "But you wouldn't want to go alone, would you? Would Blaine go too?"
"Blaine is at music camp until next Thursday. I don't mind going by myself, really. Dad, please."
"If you and your brother both go, you can look out for one another," Burt said, drying the macaroni dish. "I would trust Finn to take care of any… problems that come up." Problems, Finn guessed, translated into something like big hairy guys who want to prey on my innocent son. Or possibly stupid drinking even though you promised not to.
Kurt turned his pleading gaze on Finn. Finn stopped eating and looked at Burt, but they were all looking at him.
"Um." Finn took one last bite of macaroni and chewed, swallowed, before responding. "For one thing, I don't know if you noticed recently, but, I can't dance. Even Mr. Schue says so. Not really down with the dance club idea."
"Finn, nobody can dance at a dance club. That's not the point." Kurt spoke with extreme authority, Finn thought, for someone who'd never actually been to a dance club. "Everyone has a good time anyway. You go because you want to dance, not because you're good at it. And you do like to dance, right?"
"In front of a hundred other guys?" Finn rubbed the bridge of his nose. "I don't know."
Carole laughed. "How is it different from prom? And, honey, you danced in front of thousands of people at Nationals."
"Yeah, and look how that turned out," he said. "Plus, being on stage is totally different. And, second thing? I'm not gay. Don't you need, like, a card or something?"
Kurt stared at him, amused. "A gay ID badge? Oh, yeah, they issue them when you pick up your first subscription to OUT Magazine." He rolled his eyes and tried to brush his bangs back from his forehead, a nervous gesture left over from last year's style. "No, Finn, the club is open to straight people, too. I hear it's about half and half. It's the dance part that I care about. I'm not interested in… you know. Picking anybody up."
"I should hope not," said Burt, swatting Kurt with the damp towel as he walked by. "You're way too young to be thinking about that."
"Really? And how old were you when you started thinking about that?" Carole crossed her arms and leaned back on the stove. Burt raised an eyebrow.
"Not helping here, Carole," he said, but she just laughed.
"Dad. Focus. We're not talking about my love life. This is about dancing. I just want to go someplace where I can really cut loose. This is an opportunity – a rite of passage! One night of crazy, pointless abandon. Something I can remember while I'm putting in extra hours at the garage this summer." He looked pointedly at his father, who sighed.
Carole put her hands on Finn's shoulders and squeezed. "Come on, Finn, it wouldn't be so bad. It sounds kind of fun." She smiled at Kurt. "I remember plenty of times I went to the club with my friends when I was in college… it was a blast. We took turns driving everybody else home afterwards."
"Still not helping," Burt murmured.
"Finn, I'll pay your cover, and do your chores for the rest of the month," Kurt said. Finn twisted his lips. "And July?"
Finn sighed. "It's okay, Kurt. You don't have to do that. I'll go." He endured Kurt's squeal and victory hug with patient stoicism. "But Rachel's on vacation with her dads. I'm going to ask Puck to come. I don't think I can tolerate being the only straight person there."
"Finn, I said, you won't be," Kurt promised, hanging on his arm. "I bet there'll be a zillion girls just waiting to… um." He looked at Carole. "Dance with you."
Finn nodded with good humor, and put his fork in Kurt's hand. "Here. You can start those chores as of now."
Puck picked up the phone on the second ring. "You remember that big favor you owe me?" said Finn on the other end.
"No," replied Puck, taking his dinner out of the microwave. "What's the deal?"
"Kurt wants me to go to this dance club in Dayton on Friday night. Burt says he can go if I go with him. Would you come? Road trip. Plus I need someone to tell me I don't look ridiculous dancing."
Puck felt the bottom drop out of his stomach. He sat down at the table slowly. "You do look ridiculous," he said, going for jovial. "What's the club?"
"I forget. Some gay bar. They're supposed to be cool, though. Kurt said there's about half and half gay and straight folks."
More like two thirds gay, but who's counting? Puck thought, and shook his head. "Whatever. Yeah, I'll go. But really, road trip my ass. It's, what, an hour away? Hardly counts. But still. Should be good for a few laughs."
"Kurt has money for a motel, so we don't have to drive home until the next day."
Puck swallowed. "Better and better. Can I bring beer?"
"I was counting on it," Finn said quietly, and Puck could hear him grinning. "You're the only one with a fake ID."
"All right. I'll take care of it. I'll see you guys on Friday."
"Thanks, Puck," Finn said. "I owe you one." He hung up.
Puck took a slow, deep breath, and let it out. "Fuck." Well, they were bound to find out eventually. Might as well be now.
He pulled his wallet out of his pocket, flipped it open, dug behind his driver's license for his fake ID. Jason Walker, he read. Jason was 22, which he thought he pulled off pretty convincingly for a sixteen year old. Behind the card there was a worn, folded flyer, which he unfolded, shaking his head.
Masque, the flyer advertised, with a photo of the bar and the dance floor that he knew so well. A small inset at the bottom showed a familiar shirtless dancer striking a pose. He remembered they had to take a dozen shots before they got one that was acceptably anonymous, and didn't show his nipple ring. Saturday Nights – Pole Dancing by Jason!
"Jason," he said with resignation, "time to meet Finn."