Much thanks to the Pastry Shoppe for listing "Sexiled" on their "Through the Oven Door" list of fics that are baking. Thanks for the rec! And thank you to all who read and reviewed, it makes a big difference to know you're out there. Love you all.
A few days later Rachel returned to the dorm floor after dinner to find Finn sitting on the arm of the couch, apparently waiting. He stood and approached her.
"Rachel – could I please talk to you for a few minutes?" Finn asked, stress evident on his face despite his warm smile. Clearly he'd been waiting for her, and he had something important to say.
She nodded and let him escort her to his room. He's going to tell me, she realized. He trusts me and he's going to come out to me now. While intellectually she appreciated the importance of this step for Finn, and liked that she had done the right thing in supporting him and earning his trust, emotionally she was disappointed, knowing that her fantasy was about to crumble. I have to smile, she thought, bracing herself for the truth even as her heart twisted inside her. I can't let it show how much this hurts.
Once in his room, he turned to face her again, giving her that beautiful smile that always trapped her heart. "I don't mean to make this all abrupt, I just haven't seen much of you the last few days," he said softly. "Things going well?"
"Yes," she answered, nodding, trying not to look like a deer in the headlights as she wished he'd just get on with it. "Uh, things are normal. Mostly sleeping in my own bed, perhaps that's why I haven't seen you in the mornings."
"No it's me, my schedule's been different. Homecoming is a really big week, there's already a lot going on." Finn took a deep breath. "So... Saturday night after the game, there's the big Homecoming dance, a party. Live band, the whole nine yards. And I wondered if you'd like to go with me. I don't really dance well, but it'd be fun, and everyone brings dates. I'd, uh, really like you to be mine."
His – his date? To the dance? That's what he wants to talk to me about? It wasn't what she had expected at all. Rachel let herself imagine it for a moment, going to the dance with Finn, being on his arm, dancing with him, having him hold her close... but she shook her head sharply, bringing herself out of the fantasy. This isn't healthy, she told herself. I can't go that far, not when I know it can't be real. I have to stop doing this.
"We wouldn't have to stay late, I know you have your big audition the next afternoon. But it'd be fun, at least it would if you were there with me."
Rachel brought herself back under control, and summoned courage for what she knew she had to say. She hadn't wanted to pressure him to tell her, she knew that was wrong, but she simply couldn't keep up her part of the charade any longer. "I – I'm sorry, Finn. I would enjoy it, I know I would, but..." she looked at him, and he was so adorable, his handsome face falling as he understood the refusal that was coming. Oh, if only. "I'm flattered, really, and I can see why you wouldn't want the others on the team to know, but I'm not really comfortable pretending like that."
"For what it's worth you do hide it really well, I mean it's sad that you have to, but I always thought my gaydar was good and you didn't trigger it at all."
Finn stared, his jaw open. "Gaydar? You – you think I'm gay?"
"Well, uh..." Rachel started to stammer. She hadn't expected him to deny it so directly, though he must be very used to doing that, she supposed.
"I'm not gay."
"It's okay, really, you know I don't have a problem with it, my dads –"
"It's not a problem. I'm just not." He looked intently at her. "Really, seriously, not."
"You're not?" Rachel's voice was small. Maybe that's why she hadn't thought he was, before, but... "But I met your boyfriend. Kurt, I met him the other week when he was leaving your dorm room."
"Kurt –" Finn frowned deeply, and she took another step back, very self-conscious. "I am going to kill him," he ground out harshly. "Did he tell you that's what he was? My – my boyfriend?" His voice was hushed, but agitated.
"No, but, well, he's obviously gay and he was leaving your room early in the morning." Rachel felt nauseous, her stomach churning. Was he or wasn't he? And while she had thought he was – oh god, she had taken so many liberties, parading around hardly dressed... getting close, touching him... telling him very personal things about her... Oh God.
"He had to get back to his college in Columbus. He was in town for some music thing and needed a place to crash. Mike was off with Tina and let him use his bed." Finn paused, still looking at her seriously, and her stomach flipped again. "Kurt's my brother."
"Your brother? But – Kurt Hummel."
"Stepbrother. He's Burt's son. And yes, he's gay, but I'm not."
"Your stepbrother calls you 'honey'?"
Finn gritted his teeth. "No, but my mom does, and Kurt likes to give her messages verbatim. He thinks it's cute."
"Oh." Rachel clutched her hand over her mouth as she recoiled further back, aghast at the whole thing, her assumptions, what she had done, how she had acted, her accusation. "I am so, so sorry," she gasped out. "I should never have assumed."
"It's okay," Finn said, taking a step in her direction, but she was almost too embarrassed to notice. "Really."
"Thank you. But, um – I think I should go now. We can talk more later." Deep in her mortification, Rachel couldn't get out of there fast enough. Ignored in all of this was Finn's invitation to the dance.
Finn sat on his bed, in shock. He'd thought about a few possible reactions from Rachel to his overture, but never that. He'd been so sure she was interested, that if he covered the bases well about her audition and wasn't too aggressive she would say yes. Even if he'd gotten some sort of I-don't-know, or what-about-our-friendship, or it's-too-fast, those he could have done something with: let her think about it, offer alternative first date options, or (his favorite) get closer and give her a little demonstration of how well they could connect as more-than-friends. Just touching her hand was electric, a kiss should have been spectacular.
But her obvious surprise and "I thought you were gay"? He had no comeback for that, it made no sense at all. Seriously, had she not noticed any of how much she had turned him on? He'd tried to hide his hard-on when she'd rubbed his back, but the rest of his reaction should have been obvious. She had been all over him and he had liked it very very much. Not just that she'd been all over him but that she'd wanted to, it had been so hot.
Yeah, she did all that when she thought you were gay, Finn told himself. It wasn't that she was interested.
He'd been hoping that all of that had meant that she wanted to jump him, sure he was willing to be patient if she needed that, make sure it was real and develop a relationship and yeah she was inexperienced... but that it was going that way. That she was into him too. And now, even aside from not getting her, he sure as hell didn't know where he went wrong, yes he'd been going for "nice guy I can trust" but definitely "hot virile nice guy who wants me and I can trust to rock my world". Not so nice that she would think he couldn't possibly be interested. Even with her saying he hid it really well, so he hadn't come across as gay, though she'd still thought he was anyway because of Kurt...
Kurt. What the hell happened there?
At least that he could find out. Finn pulled his phone out and called his stepbrother.
"And to what do I owe the honor, brother mine?" Kurt's voice came cheerily after a few rings.
Honor, huh? "Nice cockblock, bro. Thanks a lot," Finn snarled.
"Excuse me? What in the name of Alexander McQueen are you talking about?"
Finn took a deep breath, calming himself. It wasn't really Kurt's fault, from what little he'd been able to make sense of what Rachel had said. "Sorry," he said. "I'm just – on edge."
"Cockblocked, I guess you would be," Kurt joked. "TMI, though."
"So what happened, and what does it have to do with me?" Kurt seemed to be in a good mood, fortunately.
"Just – there's this girl," Finn started lamely. The impulse to call Kurt had been strong, but really he had no idea how to explain what was going on, he didn't get it himself.
"Well she didn't think it was obvious at all. I've spent a lot of time with her and I'm really into her, but she didn't see any of that, she thought I was into guys. Specifically you."
"She thought I was gay, you idiot. Because of you, when you crashed here."
"But I hardly saw anyone, just a girl in the lounge... oh."
"That was her."
"Ah... Rachel, is it?" Kurt asked tentatively.
"She seemed nice."
"She is." Finn groaned. "And I thought we were getting really close, but it turns out that for the last two weeks she's been thinking I was gay, so it wasn't what I thought at all."
"Close like how?"
"She's been hanging out in my room, sitting close... hugs... telling me things about herself..." Finn wasn't comfortable even thinking about this, much less telling Kurt over the phone. He hated that he now had to reinterpret all of it, and he felt so pathetic at remembering how he'd felt then, thinking that it meant she liked him. That she wanted him. "And she, ah, rubbed my back." He'd gotten aroused at that, how she'd been all over him and was taking care of him, and she hadn't meant it that way at all. Fuck.
"How is your back?" Kurt segued into concern.
"Okay right now. But don't change the subject. I thought I was getting somewhere and now it turns out I wasn't, thanks to you."
"How was I supposed to know there was a girl you were interested in? Let alone one who sleeps in the lounge? You don't tell me enough about what's going on with you."
"And you know why. I'm not interested in having you and Mom bug me about girls, and you always do. I was doing just fine getting to know Rachel until you had to go all 'honey' on me, or I thought I was."
"Hmm." Kurt sighed. "Sorry."
"And now I don't know what to think."
"Your self-control must have been incredible, if that's any consolation."
"No, that isn't," Finn grumbled. Maybe a little, but I'm not telling Kurt that.
"But seriously, to think you were gay? Does she not know any gay men?"
"Her dads, actually."
"Oh..." Kurt paused. "She's that Berry."
"Hah. So much for 'no we don't all know each other'," Finn retorted, though at least maybe this meant he could get some inside info about her family.
"'We' don't. And I don't know them. But they're major gay activists in the state, so I have heard of them. I just didn't expect to randomly run into their daughter in the lounge of my brother's dorm."
"They're pioneers for gay rights, especially in Ohio," Kurt went on, starting to lecture. "It made a big difference that they stayed and pushed for things to get better here, even having a family and working out all the issues surrounding that, instead of moving to somewhere more progressive. There's still a long way to go but –"
"Getting off-topic here, Kurt," Finn interrupted. Sure it was nice to know Rachel's dads had helped make things better for people like his brother, but it didn't help him right now.
"I wasn't aware we had established a topic."
"The topic is to figure out what I can do now. About Rachel."
"Ah. Because you still like her. Even though she thought you were gay."
"Yes, damn it." Finn gritted out, then his voice quieted. "I do really like her okay? She's amazing. Even though I don't get how she could miss that I was into her."
"Maybe she was overcompensating. And she wouldn't expect the stereotype like others might. Anyone could be gay, and most of the time nobody should care."
"Unless you're interested in them yourself..." Finn trailed off, remembering Rachel saying that.
"She told me that. Before, when we were just getting to know each other." Finn pursed his lips, thinking, replaying events in his mind. "But she sure acted different when she found out... it mattered to her, Kurt. It did."
"So she was interested. Or she's a hypocrite."
"I really don't think she's a hypocrite. You met her, she's nice right?"
"I met her for less than a minute. But sure, she seemed nice, even getting woken up early after having to spend the night on the couch." Kurt snorted. "At least you won't have to worry about her not fitting in with the family. What's her major?"
"Musical Theater. She's got some callback for Les Miz here in Dayton."
"Ooh, really." Kurt was clearly intrigued.
"And that's another reason why I didn't tell you about her."
"Why, because a real gay man would be far more interesting than a fake one, and she'd completely drop you once she met me?" Kurt's tone was airy. "I kid, I kid. Still, she must be thinking about a future on Broadway!"
"Yes, Mister Fashion-Is-My-Destiny, she does plan to move to New York. Like you. And maybe me. But could you please back off on the wedding planning until after I've at least been able to successfully ask her out? I don't want to scare her off." Any more, he thought. Fuck. Because while how well she could fit with his family and possible life wasn't why he was attracted to her, it did raise the stakes so much higher. And he really didn't want to have to wait until ten-years-later in New York City before he could get a second chance. Second chance? Hell, how about a first one.
"You've unsuccessfully asked her out?"
"Asked her to the Homecoming dance. I figured it was pretty likely 'cause we were getting really close, but she thought I meant as my beard so it fell apart at that point."
"But she knows now so..." Kurt trailed off.
"I'm just so confused, I don't know what any of it means any more! I mean, sometimes her signals were kind of mixed, and I guess I get why now, but – aargh."
"Details, Finn, I need details. Not to pry, to help. Honest."
Finn groaned, but he could see his brother's point. He quickly filled Kurt in on how comfortable Rachel had been around him, especially at their rehearsal. He didn't give details about his reaction to her, but Kurt could probably guess that anyway. "And now I don't know why she'd do all that if she wasn't into me. It's not something a girl does with just a friend, is it? Even a gay friend?" He paused, hoping that Kurt at least would know something about this last possibility. "Kurt?"
"Hmm." Kurt considered the situation. "Well, it sounds like she was hagging on you."
"Being a fag hag? Where she likes you but she knows she can get close without any risk to her because it can't really go anywhere."
"Just great," Finn grumbled. "And now that she knows it can?"
"Well what did she do?"
"Backed away like she was terrified." He didn't want to remember that, didn't want to see it, didn't want to know that she didn't really want him. Or was scared of him.
"That's not good."
"Damn it, Kurt!" Yes he'd wanted Rachel to feel safe with him, but not like that, not in a nothing-could-ever-happen way. But he didn't want to scare her either and dammit there should be more options than this!
"Look, calm down. At least she liked you. Likes. At least she likes you."
"When she thought I was gay."
"She likes you in the abstract. The Finn Hudson concept. You just have to show her that the real Finn Hudson, the one she can have, is worth the risk."
Finn absorbed this, easing. Maybe he could salvage the situation after all.