Title: Choices
Author: gleefulmusings
Beta: mysterious_daze
Fandom: Glee, Season One AU. See Author's Notes for specifics.

Characters: Finn Hudson and Kurt Hummel; Kinn friendship/pre-slash.
Rating: Teen
Warning(s): Language; allusions to sexual situations, including m/m slash.
Distribution: Please ask first. Please do not screencap this story, save it to hard drives, exchange with others, or translate into other languages without written consent.
Feedback: Con-crit is always welcome; flames are ridiculed and put on display.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, lyrics, etc. are the property of their respective owners. Snippets of dialogue may be incorporated from the original canonical episode(s) and belong to their respective authors/creators. The original characters and plot are the property of the author(s). The author(s) is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended, nor should any be inferred. No profit is being made.

Summary: Kurt reveals the truth about Beth to Finn, opening a door to choices and possibilities Finn had never considered.

Author's Note: One of the many things about Season One that bothered me was how easily Kurt lied to Finn about the baby. To me, that made no sense. If Kurt loved Finn as much as he, and we the audience, believed, there should have been at least some struggle on Kurt's part to hide something so major and life-altering from the object of his affection. My idea of Kurt doesn't allow him to be so deceptive to someone he loves. If anything, keeping silent about the paternity invalidated his love for Finn. So this is my attempt to correct that.

BTW, I know I frustrate people with how I write and how I post new material without updating other stories. All I will say is this: I'm always thinking about the next chapter of all of my stories. Most of them are more than halfway written. However, I want my stories to flow as smoothly as possible. I want them to make sense within the context of the universe I've created. I don't want to post filler or tripe just for the sake of posting something. I hope that my readers are willing to extend me their patience as I craft new chapters, but I understand if they can't.


Finn hesitantly stepped into the choir room, narrowing his eyes in an attempt to adjust to the dark. He blinked dumbly several times before remembering that the room was outfitted with electricity. Sighing to himself, he reached over and flipped the switch to turn on the overhead lights.

He wasn't sure what he was doing here. Well, he was meeting Kurt, of course, but he didn't know why. Kurt had caught up with him in the hall earlier that day between classes and asked for this meeting. Finn had been reluctant; he had cottoned on to Kurt's crush and, while flattered, it made him uneasy. It wasn't as though he was frightened of Kurt – the dude was pretty tiny – but he didn't want to be forced to break the little guy's heart.

Kurt was actually pretty awesome and had turned into a really good friend, maybe even his best friend. He didn't want some stupid crush to come between that. So when Kurt had asked to meet after school, alone, Finn had almost said no. But Kurt's eyes had been doing that thing where they would get impossibly wide and shiny and reflect all kinds of different colors like some really amazing kaleidoscope.

And the way Kurt had wrung his hands and stumbled over his words, which, the hell? Kurt was never flustered, at least not to the point where it affected his speech. And since when did Kurt fidget? But he had fidgeted, tugging restlessly at his clothes, which were totally crazy but still worked for him.

Seeing Kurt so discombobulated was weird, and a little upsetting, because Finn knew whatever Kurt wanted to discuss was major and probably something he didn't want to hear. But he was curious and had certainly talked Kurt's ear off about his myriad problems, so he figured he owed the guy and agreed.

As he waited for Kurt to arrive, Finn mentally began steeling himself in preparation. If this was about what he thought it was about, he would have to be forceful in his stance. He truly didn't want to hurt Kurt's feelings, but he wasn't interested in him that way and he knew Kurt could be hardheaded when he became fixated on something. He would have to handle this as delicately as possible so that Kurt understood once and for all that nothing would ever happen between them in that way. Really, he should have done it a while ago, but he had ignored it and hoped it would just go away.

All Finn knew was that it would totally suck if he left this room with one less friend. Friends were a pretty short supply for him lately, especially ones as kind and understanding as Kurt.

"You look constipated."

Finn startled and spun around on his heel, only to take a step back at Kurt's appearance, which could only be described as not Kurt. His hair was all mussed like he had been pulling on it, and he seemed thinner somehow. His clothes, which had fit perfectly this morning, looked like they were hanging on him. His lips were swollen and looked like he had chewed them raw – or as though he had just escaped an intense makeout session in a janitor's closet.

Whoa. Had Kurt been making out with someone? Who? He stomped down a tiny flare of jealousy. He wasn't jealous but, okay, maybe he kind of liked the attention Kurt gave him. Quinn was cold and indifferent to him; normally, he'd blame the pregnancy hormones or whatever, but she had always been like that. Rachel was a little scary with her exuberance. Kurt struck a nice balance.

Shut up, brain.

"What's up, Kurt?" he carefully asked, taking a step toward the other boy. He frowned when Kurt visibly flinched and took a step back.

Whoa, was Kurt scared of him or something? He thought they had gotten past that when he had stopped, well, bullying him. He winced. God, he had been such a jackass. His mom would flay him alive if she ever found out how he had treated other kids.

"Kurt," he said more quietly, "what's wrong?"

Kurt blinked owlishly, pursing his lips so tightly they all but disappeared. Which was pretty tight, considering how big Kurt's lips were. Not that Finn noticed such things.

Kurt swallowed heavily. "Have you ever heard the phrase 'don't shoot the messenger'?" he asked.

Finn slowly shook his head.

"Of course not," Kurt sighed, running his fingers through his messy hair and causing it to stand on end. "I…I…have to tell you something."

Finn suppressed a groan. He so didn't want to do this, but he knew there was no way out of it. If Kurt was going to force the issue, which was pretty brave of him, actually, the least he could do was listen, even though he was totally uncomfortable and a little angry. "Okay."

"We should sit down," Kurt said decidedly. "You sit here, and I'm going to sit…over there." He all but ran across the room, collapsing on a chair, under which he primly folded his legs. He started wringing his hands again, muttering under his breath.

Finn sat down gingerly. Jesus, was Kurt afraid he was going to hit him or something? Not cool. He wasn't Puck. Sure, he was nervous and awkward and a whole lot of other uncomfortable things, but he wasn't violent.

"This," Kurt whispered, "this shouldn't come from me, but when I…" He trailed off, shaking his head angrily. "It's not right what they're doing. How could they? It's just…so…wrong."

Finn frowned. What the hell was happening?

Kurt anxiously blew out a breath. "Finn," he said, "you know how Mercedes is pretty much Gossip Central?"

Finn nodded uncertainly. He didn't know Mercedes well, but well enough to know she was always talking about other people. For someone who wasn't overly popular, she was better connected than Jacob Ben Israel.

Oh. This was about gossip? Not Kurt's gay love for him? He allowed himself to relax.

"When she told me, at first I couldn't believe it," Kurt babbled. "I just didn't understand how they could be so heartless, so cruel. Then I tried to deny it, because no matter how scared she was, I had to believe that she was a better person than that, despite the evidence to the contrary. Not that I'm some paragon of virtue, but I do have standards. I have morals and ethics and…and…I'm just so sorry, Finn!"

Finn's eyes widened as Kurt's face just collapsed and suddenly there were tears streaking his cheeks and his hands, shaking as if with palsy, flew to cover his face and Kurt was just sobbing. Finn had no idea what to do, what to say. He'd spent over a year watching Kurt get hassled for no good reason other than being alive, and he had never, ever seen the boy cry. He didn't even realize Kurt knew how. He had always just seemed too strong for something like that.

A surge of protectiveness overwhelmed him and he flew across the room to the seat next to Kurt and hesitantly patted the other boy's shoulder, upset when Kurt cringed and pulled away. He had to fix this somehow. He didn't like seeing Kurt so upset, especially over something as stupid as gossip. That was just ridiculous.

"So Mercedes told you something bad?" he whispered.

Kurt nodded.

Finn frowned. "Was it about you?"

A shake of the head.

Oh. Well, if it wasn't about Kurt, but Kurt had asked to meet him alone…

"Was it about me?"

Kurt nodded miserably.

Finn sighed. He didn't know why he should even be bothered to be upset. Ever since the news of Quinn's pregnancy had broken, he was the focus of the majority of the school's gossip. Each day was filled with more vicious lies and speculation and slander. Why should today be any different?

But Kurt was so upset and, if Finn was interpreting it correctly, Kurt was upset for him, which meant whatever he heard must have been really heinous. It was almost nice, having someone care about him that much, worry for him so much. And it was pretty awesome that Kurt had come to him directly rather than just pass the rumors around or add to them or whatever.

"What did you hear?" he asked.

Kurt brought his hands from his face and looked at Finn with such abject sadness – not pity, but a deep sorrow – that Finn felt his mouth dry.

"Tell me," he whispered.

Kurt bit down on his lip so forcefully it drew blood. "Mercedes doesn't know I'm here. She didn't want me to tell you this. None of them did."

Finn's brow furrowed. "None of who?"

"Glee club," Kurt murmured, "but you should know." He stood and angrily began pacing. "How can they call themselves your friends and keep this from you?" He shook his head. "It's not right. And do they really think so little of me that they believe I wouldn't tell you? Some of them are supposed to be my best friends and they don't know me at all! Sure, I'm lovesick, but I'm not stupid. I know you could never love me back. But that's not important! They should tell you!"

Finn reeled back as if struck. So, there it was. Kurt loved him. It wasn't anything he hadn't suspected, hadn't already known, but it still somewhat shocking to hear. For some inexplicable reason, he felt bad. He felt guilty that he couldn't return Kurt's feelings. But he couldn't and Kurt seemed to realize that, to understand.

Finn shook his head to clear it. But this wasn't about that.

This was about something really wrong, something that everyone else knew that he didn't. Something that Kurt knew which the others didn't want Kurt to tell him. But here Kurt was, humiliating himself because he was determined to tell the truth, to do the right thing.

"You're my friend," Kurt whispered. "I can't lie to you."

"You can tell me anything, Kurt."

And it was true. He would believe whatever Kurt told him, because in this moment, he knew Kurt's only real concern was for him alone.

Kurt wrapped his arms around his thin body and stared down at the floor. "I just," he sniffled, "I don't want you to hate me."

Finn stood and crossed over to him. "I could never hate you, Kurt. You're a really cool dude who's done nothing but put up with my drama for months, let alone all the shit I put you through with Puck and those other douchebags. We're friends, okay? I trust you tell to me the truth. And I promise that whatever you tell me, we'll still be friends."

Kurt looked up at him, total disbelief in his eyes. And, wow, that kind of hurt. Did Kurt not trust him? Was Kurt really that scared of him? Or was the rumor really that bad?

Finn decided it was best if he sat back down, so he did. "I need to you tell me, Kurt. Tell me what this is about, because I'm beginning to freak."

Kurt hastily wiped his face and sat down next to Finn. "It's about you and Quinn and…and Drizzle," he said softly.

At once, a sappy smile overtook Finn's face. Sure, the majority of his life these past few months had been manic and he was terrified that, in just a few more, he would be responsible for this tiny life, but he loved his baby. He had never given much consideration to being a father, other than that it was something he knew he eventually wanted. It had happened much sooner than he had expected and he was scrambling to prepare, but he was excited.

Yeah, he had ruined her life, and probably his own, and he had been scared his mother would react the way Quinn's parents had, but his mom had been awesome. So had the other kids in Glee. He finally had real friends that he knew he could depend on, and Kurt led the charge. He didn't think he'd ever be able to tell Kurt just how much his support meant.

But then Kurt's words, his tone, began to filter through his happy haze and he slowly began to feel bewildered, and then scared, and then there was a trace of bitter sadness that was desperate to be released.

Finn blinked and slowly raised his eyes to meet those of Kurt. "Who told Mercedes this gossip?"

Kurt looked like a terrified bunny as he swallowed heavily. "Puck."

And it was the complete absence of any emotion or inflection in Kurt's voice that did Finn in. Suddenly, he knew. Suddenly, there was confirmation of his doubts about Quinn's love for him. Suddenly, all of the secret mutterings between Quinn and Puck made sense, though they had never spoken loud enough for him to overhear their words. Suddenly, why Quinn and Puck always seemed to be walking on eggshells around him was given a reason.

Suddenly, his denial about the impossibility of impregnating Quinn via fucking hot tub was shattered. He knew he wasn't that smart, but he had taken and passed Human Sexuality. But as frightened as he had been by the prospect of a baby, his desire for that baby overwhelmed his common sense. Because he did want to be a father. He wanted to be the father that his own never had the chance of being, and he wanted to do a good job.

Suddenly, why Kurt just looked so damn sorry and terrified of him and desperate not to hurt him made sense.

"It's Puck's baby."

Kurt flinched harshly as his tears renewed themselves, and Finn had the hysterical reaction of wanting to comfort the other boy.

"Why are you telling me?"

Kurt was silent for a very long time before releasing a shaky breath. "Because I understand what she means to you. The baby, I mean."

"How?" Finn asked in a small voice.

"When you lose a parent, or if you've never known one, your perception of family is altered," Kurt slowly explained. Finn understood that Kurt wasn't placating him or dumbing things down, but struggling to give words to the thoughts in his head. "When my mom died, my dad and I had only each other. Family became the most important thing to both of us." He sighed and turned away. "I've always wanted to be a father, Finn, but I know that, most likely, that will never happen."

"Because you're gay?"

Kurt nodded.

"Rachel has two dads."

Kurt shuddered. "An experiment which has proven it should never be repeated."

Against his will, Finn laughed.

"I could go the Rachel route," Kurt continued, "but that's a long process and is very expensive, and there's no guarantee that it would work. And maybe I'm just old-fashioned, but I want to be married before I have children. But I doubt that will ever happen here in Ohio, and many states don't allow gay couples to adopt."

Finn suddenly grew enraged that Kurt – sweet, gentle Kurt – who had been put through so much just because of the way he was born, wouldn't be allowed to get married like straight people. And Finn sometimes watched the news. He knew that more than half of marriages ended up in divorce. What was so sacred about that? Kurt would be a great wife! Or husband. However that stuff worked. And Kurt would be an awesome dad.

Kurt stared into Finn's eyes. "I just kept thinking about how I would feel if I were in your place. I don't want to hurt you, Finn. I never want to be the one to cause you pain. I know how much you love that baby and I hate that I'm the one who's telling this to you. I've spent the past three days debating with myself over whether I should tell you at all, but after another night without sleep, I just knew that I couldn't be part of the lie."

Finn's mind whirled. Kurt wanted to protect him. Kurt had lost sleep over him. Kurt knew he'd probably lose all of his friends for going against them. But, in the end, Kurt had been a man about it, certainly more than Puck had ever been, and told the truth. Because Kurt loved him so purely.

"The more I thought about what they were doing, the angrier I got," Kurt admitted. "Part of me wants to excuse Quinn's behavior, because I can only imagine how terrified she is. Her life is forever changed. Her own parents threw her out of her house like she was a bag of trash, and a large part of that is my fault, because I gave you the worst advice ever."

"That wasn't your fault!" Finn hotly denied. Jesus, was Kurt actually trying to take responsibility for that? Ridiculous!

"I should have seen it coming," Kurt whispered, shaking his head. "I should have seen how it could backfire. How stupid and naïve am I that I thought a song could somehow magically fix everything?"

Finn snorted. "In case you missed the memo, you're sixteen, Kurt. Just like me, and Quinn, and Puck. None of us know what we're doing. We just do the best we can. I didn't blame you for that hot mess, and neither did Quinn."

Kurt flinched. "All of her friends have turned their backs on her," he said softly. "She's treated like a leper in this school. I know how that feels."

Guilt began clawing at Finn's chest. He knew that he was partly to blame for Kurt's suffering, and that just tore him up inside. But he didn't think he could ever forgive Quinn.

"I'm not saying you should forgive her."

Whoa. Could Kurt read minds?

"I know it's been terrible for you, too," Kurt added, "but you don't spend the day with perfect strangers walking up to you and calling you a whore right to your face."

Finn startled and looked down at his hands, now folded in his lap. He did feel sorry for Quinn, as much as he didn't want to.

"I don't know why she did what she did," Kurt said. "I don't know how she could have cheated on you, how she could have treated you that way. I never would have…" he trailed off, flushing heavily and looking away.

Something else clawed at Finn's chest. He wasn't sure what it was, couldn't name the emotion, but there was this indistinct roaring in his ears which demanded he walk over there and take Kurt in his arms and…

No!

"Well, that's irrelevant," Kurt snapped off, getting himself under control. "I can't pretend to understand her motives. I'm sure the guilt must eat away at her. You've done everything right: you accepted what you thought was your responsibility; you opened your home to her; you even got a job where you have to pretend to be handicapped just so you can provide for that baby." He raised his gaze. "You, Finn Hudson, are an incredibly honorable man."

Butterflies. How did butterflies find their way into his stomach? Finn wondered.

Kurt sighed again, this little puff of air that had a musical quality which should have seemed absurd, but was instead somehow charming. "Puck disgusts me. He is supposed to be your best friend, but he slept with your girlfriend and got her pregnant. I have no idea how he feels about that. For all I know, he's wanted to tell you for months that he was the father, but Quinn convinced him not to. I just don't know. Maybe I just don't want to believe that anyone could be so heartless."

Rage coursed through Finn's veins.

"What I do know is that Quinn truly wanted you to be the father. She does love you. I can tell just by looking at her. She knows what a good man you are, how good a father you will be, and she doesn't want to lose you. But to lie to you about something so important…I'm so sorry, Finn."

Finn couldn't deal with those thoughts right now. "What about the others in Glee?"

At once, Kurt's face clouded with fury. He hopped out of his chair and resumed his pacing. "They make me sick! Mercedes included. They didn't want to tell you the truth because they're scared you'll freak out, quit Glee, and we'll bomb at Sectionals." He kicked out at his chair, sending it flying across the room. "Who gives a fuck about Sectionals?"

Finn cringed. He had never, ever heard Kurt swear. He had never seen Kurt so enraged. He had never seen Kurt look so beautiful.

Gah!

"Sure I want to win," Kurt bellowed. "Of course I don't want to lose glee club! But we're talking about people's lives. We're talking about a baby who will soon make her way into this world. And they want to fret over some stupid singing competition? You're so much more important than some contest! They disgust me! They're just as guilty of using you as Puck and Quinn are! I thought I knew Mercedes, but apparently I was wrong. Artie and Tina have been my best friends for years, and now I realize that I must not know them very well if they're willing to lie to your face about something so important. How could they serenade you with that song, promising to stand by you, to let you lean on them, only to go back on their word when things get tough? I mean, I know I'm selfish, but that's just cruel."

Finn shook his head. No, Kurt wasn't selfish. Self-absorbed, maybe, as most kids their age, including himself, were, but certainly not selfish.

Suddenly Kurt was kneeling before him and Finn's mind stopped working altogether and he had to chase away unbidden images which were forming in his mind.

"I'm so sorry, Finn," Kurt said. "I wish I knew what to say, how to help you." He fell silent for a minute. "The only thing I can suggest," he said softly, "is to take a very hard look at what you want. So many decisions have been made for you; so many of your choices have been taken out of your hands. Like I said, Quinn wants you to be the father, so if you decide you can live with this, if you decide that being a father is more important than how that child was conceived, then claim her, regardless of your feelings for Quinn, whatever they might be."

Shock had given way to deep sadness for Finn, and as the tears slipped from his eyes, Kurt reached up to wipe them away before stopping himself. Finn found that he craved that touch more than he ever had anything else.

"If you decide that you can't raise another man's child, there's no shame in that. You don't have to do anything you don't want to. You don't have to feel guilty for how other people have behaved. If you want to forgive them, that's your choice. If you want to stand at Quinn's side, then do so; don't worry about Puck or Rachel."

Kurt sighed. "As it stands right now, Rachel is the only member of Glee who doesn't know the truth. They don't plan on telling her, because they know she would come running to you, most likely in a bid for you to dump Quinn and be with her. If she's what you want, then be with her. You have the choice as to whether you walk away from Quinn, from both Quinn and Puck, and from Rachel, or only some of them."

Finn released a strangled sob. "I…I don't know what to do," he rasped.

Kurt pressed his lips together and made a clucking noise. "I know, sweetheart, but these decisions are yours. No one else can or should make them. Take the time to think about them before you rush into anything, or before you say or do something you can't take back and will eventually regret."

No one other than his mom had ever called him sweetheart. He thought it sounded right coming from Kurt's mouth.

"What would you do?" Finn whispered.

Kurt winced. "I honestly don't know. I don't know enough about all of you and your relationships to each other even to hazard a guess. Think about your feelings for Quinn. If you love her, truly love her, think about whether you'd be able to forgive her and still be with her. Make sure that if you do forgive her, that it's for the right reasons. Don't forgive her for the sake of the baby, otherwise your resentment will grow and fester. It will come between you and, in the long run, also hurt the baby.

"As for Puck, well, you know what I think about him, but you've been best friends for as long as I can remember. Are you willing to throw all of that away?"

"What if it was never real?" Finn asked.

Kurt nodded. "That's possible. We've both seen how people in this school use each other for the sake of popularity. So think about whether or not Puck is, this instance excepted, a good friend. Could you ever trust him again, or would you always be worried that he would repeat this mistake? You should try and determine whether or not he really loves Quinn or if he slept with her just to take something away from you. I could never begin to understand how his mind works, and I really don't want to."

Finn laughed, a raw, hoarse sound that echoed around the room and made them both cringe.

"But if he's sorry," Kurt added, "if he desires your forgiveness and knows how badly he messed up, you might be able to salvage your friendship. Only you can decide whether or not he's worth your time."

"I hate them both so much right now," Finn confessed.

"I'd be surprised if you didn't. I think it's natural. But hate is a very strong emotion, Finn. It takes a lot out of you to maintain that level of hostility. And, in the end, is it even worth it? Does it get you anything? Will it make you feel better? Probably not."

"You're very smart."

Kurt quirked his lips. "Not so much. I just have experience at being hurt."

"Because of me."

Kurt tilted his head and considered that statement. "In part," he agreed, "but whatever you've done to me is in the past and was never as bad as what others have done. Although, I have to admit, the pee balloons were particularly disgusting."

Finn flushed with shame. "I'm so sorry."

Kurt smiled. "I know you are. That's why I was able to forgive you."

"I don't deserve it."

Kurt tutted. "That's not for you to decide. I was the one who was wronged. Even if you hadn't apologized, I still would have forgiven you. Being angry all of the time gets me nowhere. You can hate the actions of people without hating the people themselves."

He stood and flicked the dust off his jeans. "I have to go. It's getting late and my dad will worry." He adjusted the strap of his messenger bag and hesitantly laid his hand on Finn's shoulder. "I just want you to know, whatever you decide, I'll support you. And if you need anything, even if it's just to talk, you have my number, okay?"

Finn nodded. "You didn't have to tell me."

"Yes, I did," Kurt countered, "because all I could think of was how I would feel if I were in your position. I treated you like I would want to be treated." He patted Finn's shoulder and headed toward the door, stopping just as he went to open it.

"I remember something I read after Mom died," he said. "It's not that life must go on, Finn, but that it does go on, and that's the end of it. You have choices now, so make your life into something you want. You're the only one who can. And I was serious before; if you need me, call, no matter what time." He cleared his throat. "I'll see you tomorrow."

Finn watched as Kurt darted out of the room, looking quickly down each side of the hall, waiting for someone to jump out and attack him. He watched as Kurt donned his mask of disdain and superiority and then strut away.

"Thank you," Finn whispered to the empty room.