Word Count: 4800
Summary: Being friends with Jesse St. James is probably the weirdest accident Kurt Hummel has ever made. He just never expected this weird accident to actually hinder and then help his love life, also completely by accident.
If Kurt had been expecting a nice, quiet vacation with his father, he really should have slapped himself for such unlikely expectations.
Because, honestly, when have any of his vacation ever been nice and quiet? The last time they'd gone out of state Kurt had accidentally offended the entire floor of their hotel by joking about the sanctity of marriage, not knowing that they were representatives for the National Organization for Marriage. That had been quite the tricky situation, especially when the hotel manager came up to the Hummels' room later that same day to show them the twenty-six written complaints he had received about the two of them.
Nevertheless, Kurt's expectations were different this time. He and Burt were going to Chicago, mainly because Burt had a conference with some big company that wanted to pick him up as an affiliate or something, but he had promised to make it fun for Kurt as well. He'd even agreed to let Kurt wander on his own during the actual meeting parts of the trip rather than making him tag along.
So Kurt was feeling pretty good about this entire thing.
Then they checked into their hotel.
And while they weren't sharing the floor with a bunch of outspoken homophobes, they were sharing the floor with a group that Kurt loathed almost as much. And then he promptly introduced his forehead to the wall repeatedly for being so stupid as to think that this vacation would go off without a hitch.
He'd completely forgotten that Nationals was in Chicago and taking place over summer break, which meant he was currently living in the middle of a sea of Red Bull and inflated egos that was Vocal Adrenaline. And to make things that much more completely awesome, Jesse himself was currently lounging in the middle of the hallway, headphones in and silently air-drumming to whatever song he was listening to. Kurt tried to squeeze past him into their room, but go figure Jesse had plopped himself right next to their door and his father was already approaching the boy, probably to ask him to scoot.
Sure enough, Burt tapped Jesse on the shoulder and asked him to politely let them into their room when the boy removed his headphones.
"Oh, right," Jesse looked behind him at the door. "I forgot which room was the odd one out." Burt raised an eyebrow, and Jesse elaborated: "I'm the star of Vocal Adrenaline, the best show choir in the country. We're all here to compete at Nationals this weekend, and we tried to get an entire floor to ourselves so as not to disturb anyone when we win and throw a victory party. You might want to see if you can change rooms."
Kurt rolled his eyes so hard that it hurt.
"Oh, show choir?" Burt was grinning. "My son Kurt here is in his school's glee club. I'm sure he could give you all a run for your money." Then he all but grabbed Kurt's arm and forced him in front of him, presumably so he could bond with the boy his father obviously thought would be a good friend.
"We know each other, Dad," Kurt grimaced, giving Jesse a little wave. "Hello again, St. James."
"Kurt," Jesse had the decency to look surprised. "Um, nice to see you."
"Right," Kurt said coldly, shouldering past Jesse to unlock their door. "I expect perfect silence when you throw a giant pity party after your defeat, otherwise I will not hesitate to egg your door." He smirked over his shoulder. "We clear?"
Jesse even had the decency to look ashamed as he slunk back to the room that was clearly his.
"What the hell was that?" Burt asked, once they were inside their room and Kurt was done angrily stomping around. "Are you trying to get twenty-six written complaints again?"
"Dad, come on, that last time was actually funny," Kurt shook his head, remembering how almost every complaint had read, ëattacking my moral compass.' "This guy's real trouble. Trust me, you don't want me bonding and becoming friends with him."
"Care to explain why?" Burt checked his watch. "It's not like I don't have enough time to sit and listen."
"You said we'd go sightseeing on the first day," Kurt reminded him.
"I'd rather get an explanation for why this kid bothers you so much," Burt insisted, sitting down on the couch. "If we really do need to switch floors, I'll go have a word with the front desk."
"No, Dad, it's fine," Kurt shook his head. "Jesse just... well, his glee club was the one that beat us at Regionals, and before that he was kind of an ass to all of us."
"Fair enough," Burt didn't seem completely satisfied with his answer, but he dropped the matter. "All right, let's go."
While Chicago wasn't New York City, it was still an actual city. Kurt didn't even bother to make sure his father was still walking with him, he just wandered around open-mouthed, ducking into stores and staring at the theatres and getting thoroughly lost in the space of ten minutes. But it was wonderful, not having any set plans or sights they wanted to see, just having a day to wander aimlessly.
And then when they came back to their hotel, there was a note on their door. Burt groaned loudly, expecting it to be a written complaint, then frowned when he took it down.
"It's for you," he said, handing the folded piece of paper to Kurt. Raising an eyebrow, Kurt took it, unfolding it and echoing Burt's groan.
Meet me in the hotel's lounge later tonight around 10. I want to talk to you.
Apparently his father was psychic, for he asked immediately, "That kid bothering you?"
"No, Dad, it's fine," Kurt assured him, folding the note into a tiny square and sticking it in his pocket. He wasn't sure which surprised him more, the fact that Jesse wanted to talk with him or the fact that he wanted to meet him after everyone else in the hotel had gone to sleep. While it sounded sketchy, Kurt knew that there were cameras all over the lobby and a night guard, so why on earth would Jesse risk getting kicked out just to play some stupid prank? If he got kicked out, he couldn't compete at Nationals.
Which was why Kurt found himself sitting in one of the lobby's armchairs, arms and legs tightly crossed and an unreadable expression on his face, later that night.
Jesse had come alone, but Kurt didn't relax. The other members of Vocal Adrenaline could pop out any moment, consequences be damned.
"Right here," his voice was soft, momentarily uncrossing his arms to wiggle his fingers.
"Hey," Jesse slid into the armchair opposite him. "Sorry I asked you to come out so late; most people are still out partying or seeing shows or whatever. This really cuts into prime city time, actually."
"Then why did you ask me to talk with you?" Kurt asked, leaning forward in his seat slightly. "And don't think I'm going to let you get away with egging me and running off scott free. There are cameras all over this place and I can count four other people in this room right now who will come to my aid if I decide to make a formal complaint. I don't think you want to wreck your chance at a National title just to egg the gay kid."
"Don't call yourself that," Jesse said suddenly, taking Kurt aback.
"Gay kid," Jesse echoed the name. "Don't call yourself that. You're not defined by your sexuality."
"I'm sorry, have you seen McKinley?" Kurt crossed his arms again, leaning back in his seat. "Labels are everything there. I've been the gay kid since the others realized I was the only boy with good hygiene. So I fail to see your logic. And I can call myself whatever I want, thank you very much."
Jesse was silent for a few moments, then he shrugged and asked, "Any chance of you doing me a favor?"
Then Kurt was silent, staring at Jesse in a mix of confusion and disgust.
"Why should I do that?" he finally shot back. "You humiliated Rachel, you abandoned us, you've shown no remorse, and now you're asking for a favor? Why would you ever think I would consent to helping you?"
"You came to talk to me, didn't you?" Jesse pointed out. "Clearly you want to know what I have to say."
"Then say it," Kurt gestured for Jesse to go ahead.
"I want you to apologize to Rachel for me."
He couldn't help himself; he laughed. Jesse looked offended.
"You what?" Kurt managed to choke out. "Why don't you just do it yourself? Or is it too humiliating to see her face-to-face, so you have to get someone else to do it for you?"
"Do you think she'd actually give me the time of day to explain myself?"
There was a momentary pause in which Jesse stared at Kurt intently, daring him to argue.
"Okay, I'll give you that," Kurt said finally.
"I just think that she'd be more likely to listen to someone else," Jesse shrugged. "And I really am sorry for what I did. I just... I owe these guys. They made me a star. And if I'd picked Rachel over them? I can't imagine what they would have done to her instead. Their winning Regionals depended on me coming back. If I'd chosen to stay with you, they would have lost and made your lives a living hell." He held up a hand. "And yes, I know that that means you all would be here instead of us and that it seems like a nice trade-off, but trust me when I say that it isn't. I couldn't do that to Rachel. To any of you, really."
Kurt considered the boy in front of him. Jesse seemed to be earnest enough, but this was still the boy who had gained their trust and then stamped on it like it was nothing. This was still the boy who had mercilessly egged Rachel Berry, knowing how much it would hurt.
"I still don't understand why you egged her," Kurt shook his head. "You didn't have to do that."
"It was only one egg," Jesse defended himself automatically.
"You say that like it somehow makes it better," Kurt shook his head. "You had the chance to be the bigger and better person, Jesse. You could have told them no. And before you argue with me, yes, actually, you could have. All you had to say was no, I don't want to throw an egg. I'm with you, but I'm not hurting my friend. Done."
Jesse stared at him, shaking his head slowly and almost imperceptibly.
"Why were we never friends?" he suddenly asked.
"Because you were too busy trying to get in Rachel's pants," Kurt answered bluntly.
"I resent that," Jesse shook his head with a bit more enthusiasm. "I never pressured her into having sex with me."
"Whatever, Jesse," Kurt shook his head. They sat in silence again, not quite sure what else needed to be said. Kurt had half a mind to get up and leave, but something held him there, even though he half-rose from his seat before Jesse spoke again.
"Thanks for listening."
Kurt paused. He didn't owe Jesse a thing, but something stopped him from walking away. He stared at the other boy, echoing the pauses that had been an integral part of this conversation, then said, "Have you talked with anyone about all this?"
"What do you mean?" Jesse asked, confused.
"About all this. About Rachel and your feelings for her."
The look on Jesse's face told Kurt that the answer was no.
"You need friends," he said bluntly. "You need to be able to talk with someone about all this, and don't even try to pull the ëI'm a man and we don't talk about feelings' card. You need someone that you trust enough to talk these things over with, never mind if you actually take advantage of it. You can't go through life without a confidante."
Then he left.
When he woke up the next day, there was another note on his door. Jesse asked to meet him for breakfast down at the buffet, so Kurt went down right away, spotting Jesse immediately. He was sitting in the corner, staring at a cup of coffee as if it had personally offended him.
"Hey," Jesse's entire face lit up when he saw Kurt.
"Wow, you really need to re-evaluate your sexuality if I put a smile like that on your face," Kurt teased. He expected Jesse to glare at him, but instead got a chuckle.
"I wanted to ask you something," Jesse said without preamble when Kurt sat across from him.
"I already said I would talk to Rachel for you," Kurt reminded him.
"No, I have something for you, if you want it." Jesse dug in his pocket, then slid a ticket to Nationals across the table. "We were all supposed to get two comp tickets for our parents, but mine are both off on some business trip in Columbus. Or Spain. I forget which one. But anyway, I gave one ticket to Andrea so her sister could come, so I figured I'd offer you this one, if you wanted to come."
"What makes you think I want to come and watch the team that screwed us at Regionals?" Kurt raised an eyebrow. "You do realize I'll be cheering for your opposition, right?"
"I figured as much," Jesse left the ticket on the table, standing up to go. "But it's going to be a good show from all three teams. I didn't think you'd want to miss such a spectacle."
Kurt wasn't going to admit it to anyone, but he ended up cheering for Jesse after he finished singing "I'm Alive," actually getting up and giving him a standing ovation when Vocal Adrenaline won.
He left a note on Jesse's door this time. They met up the day after Nationals and actually hung out, kind of like friends. They had lunch together and got mistaken for boyfriends at the restaurant. Jesse didn't seem to mind. They went to see a musical that night and got mistaken for boyfriends by the couple sitting next to them. Jesse still didn't seem to mind.
When he got back to Lima, Kurt had a friend request from Jesse on facebook. They'd exchanged phone numbers, too, but he honestly thought that nothing much would come of these new developments. He figured Jesse just wanted to hear what Rachel said and that would be the end of things. So when he sent Jesse a message to tell him how Rachel had cried and then slapped him when he'd apologized on his behalf, he did not expect Jesse to promise to make it up to him.
And Kurt certainly didn't expect Jesse's idea of making something up to him to be a trip to Columbus to see the national tour of Wicked, but they ended up in the car together for two hours, the thought of those expensive house seats to keep them driving. His and Jesse's friendship continued to grow over the summer, leading both to confess feelings and secrets to the other, secrets Kurt hadn't even told Mercedes. They had accidentally become each other's confidantes, but Kurt didn't mind. It was nice having a friend who had big city dreams and ambitions to match his own.
Jesse told him all about UCLA while Kurt turned green with envy with every story he was told. He wanted to get out of Lima, to be in a big city with Jesse, and his admittance of the latter really made him re-think his feelings for the ex-VA star. He and Jesse shared a strange, random, but nevertheless deep and meaningful friendship, one that Kurt couldn't imagine living without.
And to think that mere months ago he had sworn to smack Jesse on sight.
But being friends with Jesse had more advantages than just hearing stories about college life. Jesse was there to listen to him as well, and Kurt could tell him all about the glee club drama and how he was being bullied without fear of being found out by any involved. He could tell Jesse about Karofsky without the fear that Karofsky would find out that it was getting to him. He could complain about Mr. Schue's lack of discipline and un-biased teaching, about how he turned a blind eye to homophobia.
But the best part of their friendship came when the bullying seemed to escalate. Kurt called up Jesse the day they had been given the boys vs. girls assignment, the day he had been told to make himself useful and go spy on the competition.
"The Hipsters aren't worth your time," Jesse told him. "Old people may be adorable, but it's talent that prevails above the cute factor. But you should definitely check out the Warblers. I beat then out all four years I was in Vocal Adrenaline, but their vocals are top-notch." He paused for a moment, then added, "Plus the boys there are actually quite nice. If Vocal Adrenaline hadn't accepted me my freshman year, I was all set to transfer, actually. Carmel's academics can't hold a candle to Dalton's, and Jesse St. James likes a challenge."
That was news to Kurt, certainly. He'd always assumed that Jesse had been the same way since elementary school, treating everything like a performance and being the lead in everything. But it seemed that the other put much more value in education that outward appearances would lead others to assume. So while Puck's insistence that an all-boy's school would be the perfect place for him, it was Jesse's reassurance that the boys there actually were kind, that they had standards, that got him to make the trip out to Westerville.
He called Jesse that night, gushing about the song the Warblers had sung and how their lead singer, Blaine, had singled him out and actually pointed straight at him while singing about being someone's teenage dream. How Blaine had asked him to get coffee and shown him that he wasn't alone in his struggle, that there were other boys like him out there who had been put through the same things.
Which was why Blaine was the one he called, not Jesse, when Karofsky kissed him. Blaine would know what to do, how to handle the situation, while all Jesse could offer were words of comfort from three hours behind and a promise to sing an angry song at the boy when he was in Lima next.
But it was Jesse who he called, on the verge of tears, when his parents offered to use their honeymoon money on Dalton's tuition.
"Should I do it?" he asked, breathing heavily and fighting to keep composure. He couldn't cry in front of Jesse, no matter that Jesse was on the other end of a phone. He just couldn't.
"Yes," was all Jesse said.
"Why?" Kurt challenged. "If I do it, my parents don't get their honeymoon and I don't get to go to Sectionals and I won't be at school with my friends and have you seen the uniforms those boys wear? I can't pull that off."
"Kurt, you have to," Jesse insisted. "You're not safe at McKinley, and you won't be safe until that boy is gone. You have to do this. Dalton's a good school, and from the sound of things, you and this Blaine guy have really hit it off. Kurt, you need to put yourself first. Please."
"Is the great Jesse St. James begging?" Kurt couldn't help but smirk.
"I care about you," Jesse told him, voice strangely soft. "And yes, I know I'm supposed to be some heartless bastard who doesn't know how to be a good friend, but I really do care about you. I don't want you to get hurt any more than you already have."
"That... means a lot, actually," Kurt smiled. "Thanks, Jesse."
"And I'm being selfish anyway." Kurt could hear Jesse's smirk. "Westerville is only two hours away from Akron as opposed to four, and I wanted to visit you when I'm off on break."
"When do you get off?" Kurt had completely forgotten that college meant a different break schedule.
"Two weeks. So can I crash Dalton to see you?"
"Yeah, I guess. I mean, I you don't mind the drive."
It turned out that Jesse didn't mind the drive at all and, in addition to that, had the worst timing ever. He and Blaine had grown steadily closer together since Kurt transferred, spending almost every second of their free time together. Kurt could safely say that he was completely smitten with Blaine, telling Jesse exactly that during their last phone call.
So he felt completely justified in his desire to punch Jesse in the face when the boy started clapping from the doorway after he and Blaine finished singing "Baby It's Cold Outside." Because Blaine had gone from relaxed and flirty to nervous and jumpy, quickly making excuses to leave.
"No, stay," Jesse flapped his hands at him. "I'm the intruder here, after all."
"No, I really should be going," Blaine said quickly. "Uh... homework." And he took his leave, brushing past Jesse as he all but ran out of the room.
"Great timing, you bastard," Kurt glared at Jesse.
"What?" Jesse was grinning, leaning lazily against the doorframe. "I just popped in to say hi; I didn't think he'd actually leave."
"Thanks, that makes me feel so much better," Kurt continued to glare.
"Want my expert opinion?" Jesse asked, smirking as he came over to sit next to Kurt on the couch.
"On what?" Kurt raised an eyebrow.
"He's totally into you," Jesse's smirk turned into a smile. "I can tell. He totally did the staring-at-your-lips thing, and I'm almost positive he checked out your ass like, four times."
"Two questions," Kurt's voice came out a growl. "One, how long were you standing there and two, why the hell did you interrupt?"
Jesse flashed him a winning smile. Kurt heaved an impressive sigh.
"Don't fret," Jesse gave his leg a pat, standing up and putting his hands on his hips. "By the time winter break is over, I'll set the two of you up, no problem."
And with that, he left the room. Kurt heaved another impressive sigh, for while Jesse had proved to be an excellent friend, he wasn't quite so sure he wanted Jesse as his middleman.
His doubts were confirmed when he came down to breakfast the next morning and found Jesse sitting across from Blaine at their usual table. Blaine was staring into his cereal and nodding occasionally, looking a cross between frustrated and bored. Jesse seemed not to pick up on this, babbling on and on about something, so Kurt took it upon himself to rescue his friend.
"Hey," he said, sliding in next to Blaine, smiling at him before turning to Jesse with a raised eyebrow. "What are you doing here?"
"Just came to say hi," Jesse grinned. "And get to know Blaine here."
"That's... nice," Kurt shook his head. "I think. But Jesse, you can't just randomly appear on campus like this. You were okay last night because that was during open hours, but campus doesn't open until the afternoon. You'll get in trouble if someone realizes you're not supposed to be here."
"I've got connections," Jesse waved this away.
"That sounds incredibly sketchy," Kurt argued. "But really, you should probably go."
"Fine," Jesse said huffily, pouting at him before standing up and giving the pair of them a little wave. "See you." He took two whole steps away from the table before turning around, exclaiming, "Oh, right! I totally forgot! You two are coming to my house for New Years Eve."
"Says who?" Kurt raised an eyebrow at Jesse again.
"Says me!" Jesse said, like it was the most obvious thing in the world. "And invite all your friends. I've got the house to myself, and there's plenty of room for two more glee clubs."
Kurt couldn't help but feel like that was the worst idea anyone had ever had, trying to pack Vocal Adrenaline, New Directions, and the Warblers together in one house, but he just laughed and shook his head as Jesse left for real this time. Then he turned to Blaine, smiling apologetically, confused at the disgruntled look on Blaine's face.
"Why'd you make him leave?' Blaine asked, obviously confused.
"What do you mean?" Kurt was confused too. He'd thought it was obvious. No matter Jesse's insistences that he had ëconnections,' the fact of the matter was that he would get in trouble if he was still on campus when classes started. Someone was bound to notice, and he would be issued a warning and escorted off campus.
"He goes to school out in California, right?" Blaine asked, and Kurt nodded. "Then you two only get to see each other on breaks. So why would you tell him to leave?"
"Look, as nice as it is to have his crazy around in person, he really can't be on campus like this," Kurt reminded him. "But anyway, what are your plans for New Years?"
"I don't have any," Blaine shrugged.
"Want to hang out?" Kurt asked, a smile playing about his lips. Blaine, however, frowned.
"Okay, first you're telling Jesse to leave and now you're willing to blow off his New Years party?"
"Um... yes?" Kurt grinned hopefully.
"No," Blaine shook his head, standing up from his seat. "I like you, Kurt, and I'm really glad we're friends, but I'm not going to mess anything up. Jesse's important, and yeah, he's abrasive and overbearing, but he should still be your first priority."
Kurt watched Blaine go, completely bewildered. He had no idea what the boy's problem was, why he was suddenly so annoyed at Kurt for brushing Jesse off. He didn't get his answer, either, for Blaine continued to act all huffy any time Kurt tried to talk to him about Jesse, so eventually he just dropped it, neither mentioning Jesse until the day before New Years Eve, when Kurt called Blaine up to ask him if he still had no plans. Answer affirmative, Kurt asked if he wanted to come to Jesse's party with him so they could "be the awkward boys in the corner together."
Blaine said yes, along with some comment about there only being one awkward boy in the corner, but Kurt paid him no heed.
Instead he just forced Blaine to talk to him all the way to Jesse's house, talking about everything but Jesse, essentially forcing the boy to be happy. Blaine had a smile on his face when they went up to knock on the door, so Kurt was feeling pretty confident about how tonight was going to go.
And then the door opened.
"Kurt!" Jesse pulled him forward into a hug, slumping over him and squeezing him a bit too tightly before shoving him away. "Blaine!" He seized the other boy instead, hugging him too, then pulling them both into the house. "I'm so glad you guys made it!"
"Jesse," Kurt fought to keep his voice even, "are you drunk?"
"Mayyyybe," Jesse drew the word out, grinning at them. Then he pulled Kurt close and stage-whispered, "I know who you'll be kissing after the countdown!" Kurt's face flushed red and he looked over at Blaine, face twisted with embarrassment. Blaine looked huffy again, which made Kurt frown.
Except Jesse wasn't done yet. He laughed, pointing at Blaine and exclaimed, "Stop looking so angry! Go make out in to closet if you don't want to wait!" Then he giggled, adding, "Or my bedroom's empty, if you're interested!"
With no explanation for his outburst, Jesse skipped off.
"I am so sorry," Kurt said immediately.
"So, wait, Jesse's not your boyfriend?" Blaine asked. Kurt did a double take, then laughed, unable to contain himself and doubling over, laughing so hard that his stomach clenched painfully and it became hard to breathe.
"Me and Jesse?" Kurt finally choked out. "N-no way would that ever, ever happen! Oh, God no. Never."
"Oh." Blaine seemed to cheer up immensely. "Well, that explains a lot."
Kurt stared, mouth opening into a little ëo' as he realized just what had been going on in Blaine's head. How everything he had said about Jesse, about not worrying about blowing him off, had confused the other boy. Why he had been so jittery when Jesse had appeared after their incredibly flirty duet. Then he smiled, taking Blaine's hand and saying, "You know, Jesse has a point about the closet."
"For irony?" Blaine grinned at him.
"Yes," Kurt agreed, lifting his free hand as if he was about to charge into battle. "For irony!"
Highest rating preffered: NC-17
Prompt(s) used: 1. Jesse St. James and Kurt became friends during the summer. Jesse returns to Ohio for Christmas break determined to set Kurt up with this "Blaine" he keeps hearing about. Happy ending with an epic Jesse/Kurt bromance, even though Blaine is especially dense because he thinks Jesse's dating Kurt.
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