So remember when I interrupted your Oscar squeals with this:
"I’m just sitting here having feels about army!Blaine meeting Finn when they both get put into the same unit and Finn starts talking about his family and shows him a picture and Blaine falls in love with the boy in the photograph and Kurt falls in love with the boy Finn writes about in his letters."
Yeah, here’s the start of that idea. Still un-named because I don’t entirely know how dark this is going to get yet, or if it will at all.
The first thing Kurt learned when he moved to New York City was that living with Rachel Berry was exhausting.
He loved the girl to death, he really did, but that had been before he’d found himself caught up in all of her ridiculous routines and habits. Every morning he was woken up by the sound of her voice emitting from her phone alarm, and then Rachel’s actual voice as she began vocal warm-ups at half past six. If Kurt didn’t have to be up that early to run through his own morning routine he would have slapped her and then sat her down to discuss noise pollution and a new amendment to their roommate agreement that was hung on the refrigerator.
They both had their morning classes together every day, though, so thanks to her zealous need to wake up at dawn and sing Kurt found that there was no need for an alarm of his own. There were a lot of things that made the living arrangement ideal: he had his best friend with him in a new, huge city and a study-buddy for the general education courses they were taking together. But sometimes, like today, the cons outweighed the pros by several tons.
It was the first day of their Fall break at the beginning of October and Kurt had intended on sleeping in as late as possible. There was nowhere to be and no dates on his agenda since he didn’t have a boyfriend right now. Apparently Rachel had other ideas because her alarm and singing hadn’t woke him up, but the slamming of their loft door rolling shut jolted him awake several hours before he’d wanted his eyes open.
Grumbling angrily, Kurt squinted around his curtained off corner, taking in the soft sunlight peaking through the blinds and the clip-clap of Rachel’s heels prancing around in the main room. She was squealing, too, at an alarming pitch.
"What’s got you so excited?" Kurt hollered, ending his words with a huge yawn as he stretched and flopped back into his pillows.
Another squeal, higher and closer, reached his ears before his curtains were shoved apart and Rachel appeared, bouncing and grinning broadly.
"I checked the mail!" Rachel squeaked, throwing herself onto his bed, knees first. She ended up face down with an elbow in his stomach still grinning and laughing happily.
Kurt groaned and shoved her away, massaging his belly and hoping he wouldn’t bruise. His skin bruised quite easily, whether it was elbows, fists, or lips making the marks.
"How thrilling," Kurt drawled as Rachel curled up beside him. "I’ve never been more impressed by your intellect than when you used it to figure out how to open our mailbox."
Rachel huffed indignantly, sitting up on her knees and glaring at him. “Kurt Hummel, you– ” she flapped her arms as a smile broke across her lips again. “There’s a letter from Finn!”
She squealed again, thrusting the envelope at his face and curling up beside him again. Kurt took it carefully, noting the stained (was that Cheetos fingerprints?) envelope, the handful of stamps and postmarks from a dozen countries and check points, and his step-brother’s chicken scratch writing on the front. He seriously hoped Finn’s penmanship improved if he kept up this letter writing thing. It had been Rachel’s idea because she thought it was much more romantic than text messages and phone calls while Finn was deployed in the Middle East, but Kurt didn’t see it lasting very long, no matter how much more time it gave each of them to focus on their own lives.
"His penmanship is atrocious," Kurt remarked as he handed the envelope back.
Rachel ignored him as she ripped open Finn’s first official letter and leaned against Kurt so that they could both read.
Dear Rachel (and Kurt since you’re probably reading, too),
Afghanistan is weird. Like sandy weird, but not at the beach with sand in your shorts weird. There’s sand in all of my stuff and my underwear are all itchy. I don’t think you two would like it here at all. Everything’s tan and hot and Kurt would hate what the humidity does to everyone’s hair. I hope I spelled Afghanistan right, but I don’t have a dictionary. I’ll have to ask Blaine. I think he’ll know since I don’t think Puck or Sam will.
Oh! I guess I should tell you who Sam and Blaine are. They’re the other half of mine and Puck’s Fireteam. We’re kinda like a unit, I guess, with each of us having a certain responsibility. Sam’s our Grenadier. I think you’d like him a lot. He’s one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. Even Puck likes him, but that’s probably because Sam’s been teaching him how to do body-rolls. Actually, Sam and Blaine are both really nice guys, that’s probably why they were best friends in high school and joined up together.
Did I mention they’re from Ohio, too? They went to that prep school over in Westerville, the one we competed against in Glee Club a few years ago. Dalton or something. I haven’ t asked if they were in the Glee Club there, but they sing old rock songs and Blaine sings a lot of those show tunes you two love, so I think they must have been. Blaine actually deferred from NYADA when we all got deployed, so I should definitely ask him about that. You two and him will be classmates whenever we get back. Hold on, I’ll check now, he just came in from his leadership class – he’s the Team Leader out of the four of us and a rank above, kinda. We’re all Privates(yeah, Puck makes a hundred jokes a day about that), second class now that we’re out of BCT and Blaine’s a Private First Class. I’m the Rifleman and Puck’s the Auto-Rifleman. Basically he does the cover fire and goes nuts as usual, like he used to do in Call of Duty.
Blaine says he was in Glee and I did spell Afghanistan right! I guess I’m learning a lot more than I thought I would, huh? It’s really strange how different this feels compared to BCT and being at home. Nothing like I thought it would be, but these guys are awesome and I trust them with everything. I suppose that’s kind of the point.
I miss you both like crazy and please call my mom and Burt and tell them I’m okay. I think I’ll write a letter to them when I’m done with this one. I think Mom would like that. Dad used to write her when he was deployed overseas.
Do you think you could send me some jelly beans? The Dr. Pepper ones? I’ve been craving them since we shipped out.
Kurt was smiling by the time he finished, pleased to hear Finn was finding his footing in the world after all of his struggling last year. His step-brother was a great guy, a little slow and directionless, but he knew Finn would get there in his own time. The Army seemed to be doing that for him whereas the idea of a full-time 9 to 5 job or college hadn’t help in the slightest. Finn was an active guy and need structure to define his life right now.
He looked up and found Rachel frowning as she stared down at the letter. It wasn’t the look he’d expected to see after hearing how well Finn was doing, but a second later he understood and wasn’t surprised at all. Rachel might look like a grown woman but he was convinced her brain had been switched to “tantrum throwing five-year-old” for well over a decade.
"He didn’t ask about me at all,” Rachel complained immediately, dropping the letter on Kurt’s lap. “It’s like he doesn’t care about me now that he’s over there.”
Slightly offended on his step-brother’s behalf, Kurt sat up and stared down at her. “Excuse me? And what exactly did your letter to him talk about?” At Rachel’s guilty glance Kurt plowed on. “I guarantee it was all about you and NYADA and New York and not asking about him despite the fact that he’s risking his life every day. And he does care,” he added quietly, picking the letter up and scanning over the words again. “This is Finn, he’s not some fancy writer, Rachel. You’re not going to get gushy, romantic love letters out of him. He’s not that kind of guy and you know it. This probably took him hours to write and he did that for you. He’s happy. Shouldn’t that matter more than if he asked about you when you already told him everything that’s going on here?”
Rachel pursed her lips, looking annoyed. “Well– that’s just– you make me sound ungrateful.”
"He doesn’t have to write letters when he’s probably being s- shot at a hundred times a day, you know," Kurt snapped instead of flat out telling her that she was ungrateful. The reality Finn was in now was monumentally more jarring and harsh than anything New York could throw at either of them. They both knew it, even if Rachel didn’t want to realize everything it meant. The idea of his step-brother in the middle of a war scared Kurt half to death and he knew it scared both of their parents just as much. He loathed the idea that one day he’d be woken up by a phone call from home, telling him that he was an only child again. “I think it was sweet, and he said he missed you,” he reminded her, shaking himself from his dismal thoughts. “He’s busy. Just like you are. Don’t be jealous of the fact that he has a life of his own and isn’t stuck to your side anymore. He’s supposed to be your boyfriend, not a lost dog nosing at your heels.”
Rachel glared at him, lips pouting as she flipped her hair and hopped up. “Well– just– fine,” she snarled. “Fine! Why should anyone care about me when they have their own lives?”
As she stormed from the room, Kurt rolled his eyes. He’d never thought he’d see the day when Finn was more mature than Rachel was, but their lives were changing and so were each of them. Rachel, for instance, had turned into even more of a diva than before now that they were in New York and Kurt kept hoping it would wind down and stop, but every week seemed to grow worse.
Kurt scooped the letter up from where it had fluttered down onto his blanket-covered thighs and read through the paragraphs about Finn’s companions. They sounded nice and like they were good for Finn while he really figured himself and his direction out. Especially Blaine. It took a lot of talent and motivation to get into a school like NYADA, and even four months later Kurt still wasn’t sure how both himself and Rachel had managed to nab spots.
Perhaps he’d write his own letter back and tell Finn to talk to this Blaine guy about show tunes more so he could tell Rachel everything he was learning about that. At least then the two of them would have something outside of going to the same high school in common.
Still smiling softly, Kurt stretched and got out of bed so that he could hang his step-brother’s first letter on the refrigerator.
Blaine stretched languidly as he headed into his tent, brushing the sweat off his forehead and neck. He found Finn sitting at the little desk between his and Sam’s cots, writing furiously. It was almost comical to see a man Finn’s size at a desk too small even for Blaine’s slighter frame. His tongue was poking out and his brow was furrowed as he scribbled slowly, looking determined to make his handwriting legible.
It was nice to have an actual roof over his head now, even though it was flimsy fabric. Compared to their first week here it was heaven not sleeping out on the sand in their thin sleeping bags while they waited for housing to be found for them. That had been a month ago, right out of basic training and straight into combat overseas, but Blaine was almost glad to be here despite having to defer his college plans. NYADA would be there when he returned and in the mean time he was helping his country and earning the college funds the military was giving him for a school he couldn’t afford.
"Don’t think too hard, Hudson," Blaine chuckled, starting to strip off his sweaty shirt as a cold breeze ruffled the tent flaps. It might be over 100 degrees every day, all day, but when the sun went down the temperature plummeted. "We can’t afford you bursting a blood vessel."
"Wh– oh! I’m writing Rachel back, and I wanna make sure my letter’s really great,” Finn gushed immediately, eyes bright as he turned around and gave Blaine a funny little salute.
A soft smile graced Blaine’s lips at Finn’s enthusiasm as he hung up his shirt and turned down the blankets on his cot. The sun had only gone down an hour ago, but he knew it was best to get to bed early. Lights out was in another twenty minutes and he still had to figure out where Sam and Puck had disappeared to and how long he might have to spend tracking them down if they didn’t turn up.
"How was that leadership class?" Finn asked brightly, looking genuinely interested in a way Sam and Puck never were.
Blaine shrugged. “It was all right, I guess. Nothing you don’t know intuitively or from school, but there were some interesting scenarios and suggestions.”
"Yeah," Finn nodded, his smile fading. "That’ll get you promoted, right?"
"Uh, I think so," Blaine said uncertainly. "Specialist is after two years of service usually."
If he was perfectly honest promotions didn’t mean much to him right now. The Army was a terrific learning experience and it had already changed his life in countless ways, but he’d much rather focus on his music once he returned to the states. That was his real passion, and while he loved the work he was doing here nothing compared to being behind a piano or on a stage.
"You should take the next one in a few weeks," Blaine encouraged as he sat down and started plucking his laces apart. "You’d do great with them. You led your Glee Club, right?"
Finn nodded mutely, looking thoughtful. It was obvious to Blaine that Finn was low, and had been since they’d met in boot camp, but he still didn’t know the reason for it. He’d perked up as time had gone by, but Blaine knew he was still figuring everything out. High school must have been a struggle in some way, or at least the last year had been because Blaine could see a great guy in Finn, he just didn’t seem to know it.
"I dunno. Rachel did more of the leading than I did," Finn muttered. "I just kind of… floundered, yanno? She wanted me to go to New York with her, but… I think I’d rather be here. Or Ohio. What would I ever do in a big city like New York?"
Blaine watched him for a moment, trying to judge what sort of response Finn needed for his question, or if one was even required. “There’s a million possibilities waiting in New York City,” he said finally, trying to play his answer somewhere between the two directions Finn might want him to lean. “I should know,” he added with a grin. “If we hadn’t been deployed immediately I’d be at NYADA right now.”
"Right!" Finn said loudly, jumping up and hurrying over to him. He dropped down on the foot of his own bed and watched Blaine slide his boots off and start rubbing his feet. "I’ve been meaning to ask about all of that. I know you’re supposed to be at the same school as Rachel and Kurt, but did you do Glee Club at Dalton? I’m telling them about you and Sam in the letter," he clarified, shrugging slightly. "And I figure you three will be classmates whenever we get outta here, so you’ll know someone when you get there!"
Smiling at Finn’s thoughtfulness and questions, Blaine nodded. “Yeah, me and Sam both were. I was soloist for most of our Junior year, then Sam called the council out for always picking me and I refused to take any solos my last year.” Blaine shrugged, feeling guilty at the thought of hogging the spotlight even though the Warblers had always insisted on shoving him into it. “It was a nice break, really. I had a lot more time to work on arrangements for our numbers and for my college auditions. We placed third at Nationals that year.”
"Yah, you guys lost to us," Finn acknowledged with a proud grin that Blaine rarely saw. "You were great though, all that a capella stuff sounds so fancy and is crazy to try to learn."
"It’s really not that hard once you understand how each part works together," Blaine admitted. "I did a lot of the arrangements for us. I could teach you some if you want? I bet Rachel’d love to hear all about the process of it since she’s probably learning it in school."
"R- really? That’d be awesome, dude!"
With another wide grin Finn patted him on the shoulder and bound back over to the desk just as Sam and Puck dived through the tent flaps and joined them.
"Serge says we’re patrolling before dawn," Sam informed them as he helped Puck tie the flaps down and then sealed them together. "He’s gonna brief us at four hundred sharp."
Puck grumbled mutinously under his breath and face planted into his cot, kicking the mat furiously. The reaction was nothing new to Blaine. Puck loathed early morning wake up calls, but once he got out and going he’d be fine. Especially if a nice classic rock song was started up by one of them.
"Just let me finish this letter to Rachel and Kurt– "
"Oh, just jizz on it and get it over with so we can cut the lights," Puck snarled, pummeling his pillow with his fists. "They’ll both love that. Bet Hummel still hasn’t had a good taste– "
“Puck!" Finn hollered, and for the first time in Blaine’s memory he looked furious. "That’s my brother you’re talking about– "
"Step-brother who used to have the biggest crush on you– "
"He grew out of that, and he has had boyfriends since then,” Finn said bluntly. “I imagine he’s… yanno, gotten something.”
Blaine’s face burned at the idea of it, but fortunately neither Puck nor Finn looked his direction. Sam cast him a glance, but Sam had known him for years and knew his life almost as well as Blaine did. He was entirely aware of Blaine’s sexuality and the fact that he had very little experience and that telling Puck, or even Finn, that would lead to constant ridicule and embarrassment, especially once they were state side.
"Pfft, whatever," Puck growled, yanking his pillow over his head and ignoring them all.
Sam shrugged and started to strip out of some of his layers, leaving Finn to his letter and Blaine to his thoughts. Finn didn’t seem to remember he was still supposed to be writing, though. He was frowning over at Puck’s silent form and looking annoyed.
When he spoke Blaine was surprised by his sullen tone.
"Kurt’s not– I mean, he’s gay, yeah, but he’s not just about sex," Finn muttered, meeting Blaine’s eyes for a moment. "He’s a great brother. I’ve learned more from him about the world and myself than I have from anyone else. Do you– I’ve got a picture of him."
Finn dug out his wallet and flipped through it, finally extracting a folded picture. Blaine edged closer to the desk as Finn turned it towards him and was surprised to see it was recent, from their graduation only a few months ago. Somehow graduation felt like a lifetime ago when they were in the middle of a barren desert and a lethal warzone.
"His dad took it," Finn offered as Blaine plucked the picture from his grasp for a better look.
Finn was still talking as Blaine’s eyes fell on the other man’s face, but his ears became clogged and his throat went dry.
Kurt was beautiful. A breathtaking vision of handsome that most would overlook as different or unconventional, but stunning in a way that seemed to be uniquely him. Blaine let his eyes roam over the thin face as Finn prattled on, taking in the neatly coiffed hair peeking out from under his graduation cap, his bright eyes, and the smile stretched across his lips. It was an incredible smile, one that Blaine had rarely seen in his life, but still more beautiful than any of the others it came close to. It was wide and slightly toothy, Kurt’s lips curling over his teeth as though he was trying to hide them as he leaned into Finn’s one armed hug.
"– and then we– Blaine? Dude, your jaw’s in your lap."
Startled, Blaine shook himself and looked down, finding Finn watching him from his seat at the desk.
"S- sorry, I just– "
A snort echoed behind Blaine and he found Sam behind him, raised up on his knees on Blaine’s cot.
"Just found a handsome guy that gets you hot?" Sam supplied with a grin.
At Finn amazed look, Sam draped his arms around Blaine’s shoulders and tugged him back against his chest.
"Don’t look so surprised, Hudson," Sam continued, musing up Blaine’s hair as he struggled to free himself from his friend’s grasp. "Blaine’s perfect gold star gay and I can say that as much as I want now that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was repelled."
“Sam– ” Blaine hissed, but Puck was shooting up out of bed, looking thrilled as he eyed Blaine up and down.
"I fucking knew it!" he hollered, leaping over Finn’s cot and taking Blaine by the shoulders. "You’re not gonna bone one of us in our sleep, are you? Cause I’ve always been a little curious and– "
"Ew," Blaine muttered, yanking himself free from both of them and crinkling his nose at the very thought. It wasn’t that they weren’t attractive men, but they weren’t his kind of attractive. Not the kind of man that made his stomach swoop and his toes curl in his socks while his heart pattered just a little bit faster as a smile was sent his way…
Puck cackled gleefully and fell back on Finn’s cot. “He wants to bone your brother,” he laughed, kicking at the back of Finn’s chair.
"I– that’s not true– he’s just… very handsome and– “
Sam took Blaine’s head between his hands and shook it back and forth as though he was forcing Blaine’s body to denial the words coming out of his mouth. He pulled himself free again and glared at both of them.
"I know that look,” Sam insisted, poking Blaine in the nose as he scooted along the bed as Blaine tried to get away. “Well, it looks a little different than the last time I saw it, but you like him. I know you, dude. One look is all it takes with you, even if you deny it for months or are too oblivious to realize it.”
"Lights out in ten," Blaine ordered, shoving Sam’s hands away from him and handing Finn back his picture.
Puck and Sam groaned in dismay, but Finn nodded, taking the picture back and tucking it neatly into his wallet before turning back to his letter. As Blaine settled down on his cot, sliding his legs under the blankets and fluffing his pillow, Finn paused beside him at the desk.
"How do you spell Afghanistan?" he asked softly. "I wanna make sure I got it right."
"Uh, A-F-G-H-A-N-I-S-T-A-N," Blaine spelled out slowly, picturing the word in his head as he went.
"Thanks," Finn mumbled as Sam flipped his lamp off and Puck started snoring deeply. "I think Kurt would like you, too," he added after a few seconds. "Just in case you were wondering."
Shocked, Blaine said nothing as Finn finished scribbling out the end of his letter and shut the desk lamp off. He laid there for what felt like hours, picturing Kurt’s face clearly in his mind and wondering how it was that one glimpse was already imprinted firmly, the lines of Kurt’s face shifting and moving as he imaged him smiling and laughing, shooting coy, silly looks over his shoulder and being a ray of something wholesome and bright that Blaine had forgotten existed when he was in such a dark, sharp reality.