Word Count: 7,000+
Summary: “How’s the crush on my boyfriend going?”
Disclaimer: Don't own, don't sue.
Author Notes: It all started with a dream I had a week ago and after some prodding, my friends convinced me to write this. I don’t even know what it is. Title from Headfirst Slide Into Cooperstown on a Bad Bet by Fall Out Boy.
It’s quite possible that Artie has a crush on Kurt.
It’s not like Artie had never seen him before. He’s known him for years, all the way back when his face was still mostly made out of cheeks and he was in the closet, but it’s like Artie really only noticed him recently. Kurt looked stunning as he sang his apologies to Blaine and Artie found himself in a very tricky situation because of it.
(Not that kind of tricky, although that was a problem, too, by the end of the performance.)
So, yes, a crush. Maybe. He’s not exactly sure how to define it, but he knows he can’t stop thinking about Kurt, about the way his legs look in those skinny white jeans he should be forbidden to wear, the way his shoulders have become broader and stronger in the past year and his voice - God, his voice - when he sang I Have Nothing.
To his boyfriend. Artie needs to remember that Kurt has a boyfriend with whom he’s as good as engaged, and he doesn’t stand the remotest of chances.
Maybe Artie should address the obvious issue at hand before he deals with his crush: he’s not gay, he knows he’s not. Maybe he’s bi, but he has a feeling that he really just likes people that are hot and whose lips are just sinful. Like Kurt.
Besides, he’s in high school, so whatever, he can be unsure about his sexual orientation for at least another six years before he has to settle for one. He has more important things to deal with than a big gay freak out. There’s also the fact that Kurt probably cancels sexual orientations and makes them invalid.
This really should be his main concern: he can’t stop looking at Kurt. Artie’s not even sure they ever had a conversation that went beyond small talk or Quinn’s pregnancy.
“So, you can see why I’m confused.” Artie concludes his lengthy explanation to Mike with a noncommittal shrug, trying to brush it off as something light and unimportant when actually it’s been keeping him awake for the past week. No need to be over dramatic, this is only a crush, what he needs is to move on like nothing is going on.
The bustle of the cafeteria is nearly deafening around them, the shouts and laughter echoing around the walls and mixing with the smell of the toxic waste they try to sell them as food to give Artie a headache. It’s perfect for that conversation. He first thought about meeting in the choir room, but he feared Rachel and Finn would barge him mid-conversation to have a heartfelt impromptu duet, and if Rachel or Finn find out he’s being a huge pervert over Kurt, they’ll skin him.
Mike nods thoughtfully and hums like he’s channelling some sort of ancestral Asian wisdom before he answers Artie. “I see, yeah. I understand.”
“Sorry, you don’t.”
“No, really. Trust me, I do.”
Artie stares at Mike for a few seconds and Mike holds his gaze without blinking. It’s all very dramatic and Artie appreciates the intensity of the moment they’re having, he can easily see the kind of orchestral score this scene would have in a movie, but he needs answers. “You mean—”
“Everyone wants to make out with Kurt.”
“No,” Artie deadpans, shaking his head and rolling back.
“Huh, yes. Tina and I have talked about it. He’s on our list of potential candidates for a threesome as well as one of the very few people we have the right to kiss without cheating. Hummel is hot.”
Artie heaves out a sigh of relief. He’s not weird or a creep if it’s normal to have a crush on Kurt. He can live with that. “You don’t know how happy I am to hear that. Now I guess I just need to stop staring at him so Blaine doesn’t—” Artie trails off when he sees Mike’s smile fade. “He’s standing right behind me, isn’t he?” He was sure they were safe at the back of the cafeteria, half-hidden by a vending machine. Blaine must have a protective-boyfriend radar or superhuman hearing or something.
“Yes,” Blaine says coldly. “I’m right there.”
“Hey, Blaine,” Mike says smoothly, holding out his hand for a high-five.
The look Blaine sends Mike makes him lower his hand slowly, a sheepish expression replacing his confident smile. Artie rolls further back. If Blaine’s best friend looks like he wants to crawl under the floor, Artie should probably be in another room. Preferably in another school. Maybe Vocal Adrenaline has vacancy? Carmel should be far enough to escape Blaine’s wrath.
“What are you talking about?”
“Nothing, dude, just. Nothing.” Mike doesn’t look convinced by his own words and clears his throat when Artie sends him a look that he hopes shows just how much he’s judging him.
“You were talking about Kurt, I heard you.” Blaine sounds exhausted, his voice breaking on the last word. He clears his throat and crosses his arms over his chest tightly, his eyes moving between Artie and Mike.
“It’s not what you think, Blaine. He’s not cheating on you.”
Blaine’s eyes widen as the blood drains from his face. He looks kind of like a puppy that’s been kicked when he makes that face and Artie is really starting to feel like a horrible human being.
“What?!” Blaine chokes out. Artie once more glances at Mike because seriously, this was the worst thing he could have said. It hasn’t even been a week since Kurt and Blaine had their fight. Artie thought Mike was smooth, but as it turns out, Finn might have dealt with this better. Finn.
“No, Blaine, seriously,” Mike says in a rush, holding up his hands in appeasement. “He’s not. Artie and I were just talking about how—well. How we all kind of want to kiss Kurt.”
“You—what? Is that a joke?”
“Yeah. Your boyfriend is hot, Blaine, in case you didn’t notice.”
Blaine lets out a dry laugh. “Yeah, I know.” He sits opposite them and rests his elbows on the tabletop, his hands on his temples and a look on his face like the weight of the world is on his shoulders.
Artie waits for Mike to speak. It’s kind of his fault the entire conversation - which should really stop happening as soon as possible before he dies of embarrassment - began in the first place, but he still doesn’t want to have to deal with it.
“Yes, yes, obviously. We’re totally supporting you and Kurt, you’re the best couple ever—” Mike begins.
“Totally. Besides, all the singles in glee club kind of live vicariously through you—” Artie continues when Mike’s words seem to ease some of Blaine’s tension.
“—just ask Puck. But yeah, seriously, Blaine, you have nothing to worry about. It’s just that we’re all curious—no, not curious. More like—” Mike glances at Artie for support, but all he can give him is a shrug and a shake of his head. “—I don’t know.”
Blaine shakes his head and rubs his temples with more intensity. “This is a joke, right guys? Please tell me it’s a joke.”
“I swear I don’t know where that comes from, Blaine.”
“I’m not surprised you find Kurt attractive. I mean, I’m surprised it doesn’t happen more often, but it’s just—he’s not a social experiment, okay?” When Artie and Mike stare at him in confusion, he rolls his eyes. “You can’t just kiss a gay guy to reinforce your heterosexuality. You can’t. We’re not there to help you test whether or not you like guys.”
“Blaine,” Mike says sternly, grabbing his forearm. “Calm down. No one’s trying to steal your man. You’re making a huge deal out of nothing. Chill.”
“We’ll get over it, Blaine. Don’t worry,” Artie adds, patting Blaine’s shoulder before rolling away so he can go hide his shame and embarrassment in a bathroom stall until lunch is over.
Artie doesn’t get over it. It only gets worse until he is unable to talk to Kurt without acting like a schoolgirl. It doesn’t help that nicer weather means Kurt stopped covering himself with sweater-capes or whatever the shapeless atrocities he wore all winter were, leaving large amounts of his skin uncovered and revealing the tight shirts he wore underneath. The really tight shirts. It’s distracting.
The school year needs to end so Kurt can be gone to New York and Artie can move on to something else like video games or a zombie apocalypse survival plan, which Sam has been bothering him about for the past months. Even college applications would be better than pining over Kurt like Artie is a twelve year old girl and Kurt is Justin Bieber.
(That’s a terrible mental image, oh god. He’ll have to go watch something gross online or ask Puck about his latest conquest to get rid of it.)
He also can’t wait for the day when he’ll be able to stop constantly worrying about everything he says and does around Kurt and Blaine. He doesn’t know what Blaine overheard of their conversation and it’s driving him crazy. Maybe Blaine has no idea he’s pining over his boyfriend, maybe he thinks all Artie wants is to kiss Kurt.
The trip to Nationals is particularly difficult. The bus ride is torture, because even though Kurt and Blaine started on separate seats, Blaine moved to sit next to Kurt and they fell asleep against each other, Kurt clinging to Blaine almost fiercely. The girls all cooed and took pictures with their phones and all Artie wants to do is ask one of them to send him the pictures, but that’s overstepping too many lines to even begin counting them. He settled on staring at the back of their heads like the giant creep he is while cursing every deity he knows for that stupid crush he can’t get rid of.
A party is planned before they even get back to the hotel room to celebrate their victory. They plan stealthily, exchanging text messages under the table during dinner and making sure nothing on their faces show that they’re about to break the rules they promised Mr. Schuester they would follow.
The plan gets as far as Puck collecting money for the alcohol before Sugar says something too loudly near Coach Sylvester, which results in a limit of four per room lest they want to sleep in the hallway. Santana proposes a rebellion, but she loses her only follower when Brittany remembers there’s a Dancing With The Stars marathon on television.
This is how Artie ends up in a hotel room with Finn and Kurt and nothing to do but look at Kurt from a distance as he goes about his night routine and argues with his step-brother.
“It’s totally unfair that Artie gets an entire bed for yourself,” Finn complains from his sprawled position on the bed he shares with Kurt.
“No, what’s unfair is that Blaine and I can’t even be in the same room.”
“Still,” Finn grumbles, turning on the television and flicking through the channels. “You should share with him, you guys are both tiny. I know you’ll keep me awake all night to complain that I don’t leave you enough space.”
“Well then, don’t take all the bed and you’ll get to sleep. No offence, Artie, but I really don’t want to share a bed with you. I wouldn’t feel safe for you. I’ve been told I’m a restless sleeper.”
Artie shrugs and manages to say it’s no big deal despite the way his heart stupidly sped up when his brain supplied him with images of Kurt in the same bed than him. Finn stops his zapping on a sports channel and the loud cheers coming from the television effectively change the subject, focusing Kurt’s attention on complaining about the volume and how if Finn thinks he’ll get to watch sports all night he’s sorely wrong.
“See what I have to live with daily?” Finn tells Artie with a smirk. He earns himself a smack behind the head with one of the pillows. “Okay, screw you Kurt, I’m off to see Rachel.”
Kurt collapses on the bed after Finn is gone, stretching his legs and arms until he’s filling the entire mattress. He turns his head and smiles at Artie, who realizes a second too late that he’s unabashedly staring. Kurt’s shirt untucked from his pants in one spot, his pale skin showing, and try as he might, Artie is unable to look away from the sliver of skin. His eyes are drawn to it like magnets.
“Artie? Are you okay?” Artie tears his eyes away in time to see Kurt looking down at himself with a frown, tugging his shirt down and sitting up.
“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine,” he replies quickly and clears his throat. “Do you want to watch tv?”
Kurt grabs the remote and throws it to Artie before settling against the headboard. “Anything but sports.”
Artie chuckles and smiles at Kurt, who grins in return. This is probably the first time he’s alone with Kurt since they met and, of course, it had to happen when his crush has turned into something borderline terrifying and they’re in a hotel room.
He glances at Kurt after putting on the news, biting his lip when he sees him smiling at his phone while he types a message. Writing to Blaine, obviously.
“Huh, I didn’t ask—do you want to get on the bed? I can help you, like, carry you or something” Kurt says as he puts down his phone, shifting and tucking a leg under himself to look at Artie.
Artie sucks in a breath as he tries to stay calm, choking on a strangled noise and dropping the remote. His reaction is ridiculous.
“I—I need to change first. I’ll go do that.”
“Sure! By the way, I hope you don’t mind if Blaine drops by for a while? He won’t stay long, curfew is soon anyway.”
Artie concentrates on digging his pajamas out of his suitcase, unable to smile at Kurt like he knows he should. “No problem. The more the merrier, yo,” Artie says lamely, clearing his throat as soon as the words are out.
He rolls his chair as quickly as he can on the threadbare carpet, hurrying to the bathroom to go hide his shame. This is stupid. Artie is good with people, but when it comes to Kurt he’s unable to say two sentences without making a fool of himself.
With his attention focused on the door of the room, which he expects to hear open anytime, Artie changes into his pajamas and gets ready for the night before taking a deep breath and leaving the bathroom. He’s halfway down the small hallway when there’s a knock at the door.
“I’ll get it!” he calls.
“Thank you!” Kurt replies, appearing at the foot of the bed and looking towards the door expectantly.
Artie backs up his chair until he can reach the door handle by twisting his upper body. Blaine steps in the room and immediately grabs the handles of the chair, pushing Artie forward and closing the door behind him.
“Hey Artie,” he says cheerfully. “Kurt.”
“Hi, Blaine.” Kurt’s tone is coy and his smile teasing as he looks at Blaine through his eyelashes. He grabs Blaine’s hands and pulls him closer, shifting to kneel on the mattress and pull Blaine into a hug.
Blaine wraps his arms around Kurt tightly for a second before stepping back. “What were your plans for the night? Puck decided to break into the mini-bar so I really needed to be elsewhere,” Blaine explains as he climbs on the mattress to sit next to Kurt, snaking an arm around his waist and leaning into him.
“TV, maybe a late night trip to the vending machine down the hall for a snack,” Artie answers while he backs up his chair in the narrow space between the two beds. “And an early night, I guess?”
“That sounds about right,” Kurt replies. He looks at Blaine and they have one of their silent conversations where the quirk of an eyebrow or a half-smile is enough for them to understand each other. Artie has a feeling he is somehow at the heart of the conversation and his presence in the room inconvenient.
It was a secret to no one that Kurt and Blaine had, from the start, planned on ditching the party to go in one of the empty rooms and spend the night together. It dawns on Artie that he’s the third wheel (well, actually, the third and fourth wheel) keeping them from a night of debauchery and—well, whatever it is they do together. It’s better if he doesn’t dwell on this too much. His pajama pants are unforgiving.
“Artie?” Artie blinks back to reality and looks at Kurt. “Do you want help getting on the bed, now?”
“Huh, yeah, thanks.”
Kurt shrugs and smiles as he gets up and positions himself in front of Artie, hands on his hips.
“Just—” Artie beckons him closer and Kurt bends down. He stiffens when Artie wraps his arm around his shoulders. It lasts merely a second and then he’s putting one arm behind Artie’s back and one under his knees, lifting him with a groan.
“Wow, Artie, do you hide rocks in your pockets? You’re heavier than Blaine and he weighs, like, a ton.”
“I do not,” Blaine protests. Artie looks at him from over Kurt’s shoulder and he’s pouting, his arms crossed over his chest. “We’re not all made with bird bones, Kurt Hummel.”
“Bird bones, huh?” Kurt replies with a smirk. He puts Artie down and fusses with the pillows until Artie bats him away, a flush colouring his cheeks. “You’re okay?”
“Can I put your chair on the other side of the bed? If you need to get up, you can always—huh.” Kurt’s voice falters and his sucks in his bottom lip. “You can always roll?”
“I’ll be fine, Kurt, thanks.”
After a wave of the hand and a shrug directed to Artie, Kurt gets on the bed on one knee to drop a kiss on Blaine’s temple before hopping off and making a beeline for his suitcase. “I’ll go change. I’ll be right back.”
As soon as the door to the bathroom is shut, Blaine turns to Artie, his arms crossed over his chest. “How’s the crush on my boyfriend going?”
“—what?” Artie sputters, his eyes widening.
“Don’t play stupid. I heard what you told Mike and even if I hadn’t, I see the way you look at him. This has to stop.”
“It’s not something I can control, Blaine,” Artie says in a slow, serious tone.
He’s unsure about Blaine’s age - that’s actually a serious bet they have, with Rory leading the team ‘held back a year’ while Mercedes claims he’s just younger and that’s it’s not that surprising to find out Kurt is a cradle-robber - but in that moment, he feels older than him; more mature and poised. It’s a nice change from the usual way everyone feels around Blaine.
“Well, you should try. I can help you, if you want.” When Artie laughs derisively, Blaine frowns. “And I’ll have to tell him.”
Okay, this conversation isn’t fun anymore. “Don’t.”
“Then stop getting all—” Blaine waves his hand around, “—all moon-eyed whenever you see him. It’s not cool. I’ll really tell him if you don’t stop.”
A weight settles in Artie’s stomach and he feels dizzy from how absolutely horrifying the prospect of Kurt finding out about his crush on him is.
“Stop flipping out, dude. I’m not stepping on your territory.”
“Kurt is not my thing.”
“Damn right he’s not,” Kurt says coldly, making the two of them jump. He’s hugging his folded clothes to his chest and looking between them with wide eyes. “Is that right, Artie? You like me?”
“Of course I like you, Kurt. We’re friends.” If Artie is lucky, Kurt will buy that one.
Kurt shakes his head, dropping his clothes in his suitcase before climbing on his bed and sitting on his heels. “I heard you, guys. Those walls are not exactly soundproof. Can someone tell me what’s going on?”
No luck, then.
“Artie has a crush on you,” Blaine replies, taking Kurt’s hand and pulling him closer. Kurt shifts until he’s sitting next to him, Blaine’s arm tightly wrapped around his waist.
“I don’t—” Artie sighs and rubs his eyes, setting his glasses askew. “I don’t know what’s going on, okay? You’re hot and I don’t know.”
“Thank you.” Kurt’s cheeks turn pink and he preens before growing serious. “I--hum. I don’t know what to say. That’s--that’s unexpected. Are you sure?”
“It’s nothing, Kurt.”
“It’s not, Artie. Do you want me to kiss you?” Blaine and Artie both protest at the same time and Kurt has to shout to be heard. “Shut up, both of you! Blaine, Artie is obviously confused about his sexual orientation—”
“I’m really not, though,” Artie cuts him sharply.
“—and he refuses to see it. What happened when you got confused about yours?”
“No, it’s still not okay, even if you bring up Rachel. We were not dating at that time. It’s not the same thing.”
“It’s just a kiss, Blaine. It won’t hurt anyone. You’ll be there the whole time. It means nothing.”
“Thanks,” Artie deadpans, rolling his eyes and crossing his arms over his chest. “Are you going to consult me at all?”
Kurt shushes him, his eyes still fixed on Blaine’s. Blaine tangles their fingers and shrugs like he’s suddenly exhausted. With his hand on Blaine’s cheek, Kurt leans in to kiss him softly before pressing their foreheads together. He whispers something Artie can’t hear, but it makes Blaine chuckle and kiss him.
“Okay, fine,” Blaine finally says before sighing and slumping back against the pillows. “But no tongue.”
“You don’t have a say, sorry. I had front row tickets to the Anderson-Berry Making Out Catastrophe and I can assure you there was tongue,” Kurt snaps, raising his eyebrows.
“I know, I was there,” Blaine mutters before sinking lower against the headboard. “And we were not together. Just get it over with.”
Artie’s mouth turns dry when Kurt switches beds to sit next to him, all soft smile and questioning eyes.
“You’re supposed to ask me if that’s okay,” Artie says because he has to speak even if it’s to talk nonsense. His voice comes out embarrassingly high and from the other bed, Blaine lets out a dry laugh.
“Do you want to kiss me, Artie?” Kurt asks flippantly, his hand coming to rest on Artie’s thigh and squeezing.
“I can’t feel that, you know,” Artie deadpans to buy time.
Kurt flushes and withdraws his hand, curling it up against his chest. From this close, Kurt is even more gorgeous than Artie could have ever imagined. It’s mesmerizing and he finds himself staring openly, his lips slightly parted. His eyes travel over Kurt’s face, taking in the sharp line of his jaw and his high cheekbones, but never looking down to his lips. He still needs to think this through for a second or two.
“You didn’t answer me.”
Artie looks down at Kurt’s lips in time to see the corners quirk into a smile and he sucks in a breath.
“Yes, okay.” This is all Artie manages to get out and he does so in a squeal. The sound mirrors the state of his mind, a mess of conflicting thoughts and loud shouts of ‘yes!’ amongst it all.
Kurt nods resolutely and scoots closer, shifting to sit crossed-legged. Blaine pushes himself off the headboard and sits on the edge of the bed, his shoulders set in a tensed line and his eyes flitting between the two of them.
The air stands still for a second and then Kurt is leaning in, his hand cupping Artie’s cheek before kissing him, a soft press of lips that makes Artie feel warm all over. He expected fireworks and marching bands, but instead what settles over him is a comfortable sort of heat. It’s nothing like kissing Tina or Brittany, but it’s not as alien as everyone seems to think kissing a boy is supposed to be.
Artie kisses back harder and he feels Kurt’s faint stubble against his lips. It yanks him back to reality and he pulls away with a gasp, his fingers coming up to touch his lips. Of all the things that are running through his mind right now, the first to come out is: “You shave?”
Blaine bursts out laughing while Kurt looks at Artie with curiosity, his lips pressed together in a thin line. “That’s it? That’s all you have to say? No earthquakes or fireworks? Nothing?”
Artie shrugs. “It felt really great, but it didn’t change my life.”
Kurt’s face falls and he scowls. “What about your crush?”
“But kissing me does nothing to you,” Kurt says sternly.
“To be fair, that was a pretty chaste kiss,” Blaine comments. Artie and Kurt both whip their heads around to look at him and he raises his eyebrows. “Don’t look at me like that. If we’re going to do this, we better do it properly, right?”
Something stirs in Artie’s stomach when Blaine says ‘we’ and he blinks away the thoughts that sprung to his mind. Blaine is handsome, but he’s not going there. He’s staying far away from there.
“Fine.” Kurt wraps his hand around the back of Artie’s neck and pulls him into a kiss, his tongue licking at Artie’s lips as soon as he kisses back.
Artie lets out a sound from the back of his throat as Kurt’s tongue meets his and his hands come up to hold his waist. Artie’s breath is short and his head is reeling because this is earth-shattering and life-changing. Kurt kisses him rougher than any girl he’s ever kissed, his fingers at the base of his skull gripping and digging into his skin. The curve of Kurt’s hips is firmer and less pronounced than what he’s used to, making him acutely aware that it’s a boy he’s kissing.
Kurt breaks the kiss with a shaky breath, eyes bright and cheeks red. He laughs self-consciously and rubs the back of his neck before turning to face Blaine. Artie doesn’t look away from him until he sees his face change. Curious, he follows Kurt’s gaze to find Blaine staring at them with wide eyes and parted lips.
“That was unexpectedly hot,” Blaine croaks out before blinking as though trying to shake himself out of a daze.
“Yeah?” Kurt asks with uncertainty lacing his voice.
“How was it for you?” Blaine gets up and joins them on the bed, his fingers immediately tangling with Kurt’s.
“It was great, I mean—you’re still my favourite, but Artie—Artie’s good. What about you?”
Artie’s eyebrows shoot up when they turn to look at him. “It was good?” His voice is once again too high and he clears his throat. The tension is unbearable. “You know, if Puck was here he’d say the only way to get rid of the tension is to have sex,” he jokes.
Blaine’s breath hitches and he flushes before looking down. Kurt gapes at him, tugging on his hand until he looks up. “What?”
“You’re turned on,” Kurt breathes out. “This turns you on.”
Blaine smiles sheepishly. “I don’t know. It was really hot to watch you with him. It’s weird.”
“It’s not.” Kurt kisses him. He pulls away and stare at the wall behind Artie with a frown for a second or two. “We could—”
“We could—?” Blaine repeats.
“Number twenty-one on my bucket list.”
Artie watches them in silence. He can guess what they’re talking about and his head reels from it. This cannot really be happening. He doesn’t even know if he wants it to happen.
“Can Artie even—?” Blaine asks cautiously, glancing at him.
“My penis works,” Artie snaps before he can stop it.
Kurt lets out a strangled noise and puts his hand over his mouth, his giggles coming out muffled. With a glare to Kurt and a deep breath, Blaine turns his attention to Artie.
“Are you freaking out?”
“I don’t even know what you’re talking about. I have a rough idea, but—”
“A—huh. A threesome. With us.” Kurt’s voice is deeper and breathier, the sound of it making Artie’s skin tingle. His brows are furrowed and he’s drumming his fingers on his knee, but apart from that he looks confident in what he’s said.
Artie opens his mouth before clamping it shut quickly. He was about to question Kurt on their motives, but he’s pretty sure it’s the wrong thing to do in that instant so instead he nods his approval.
Kurt nods, too, and then he’s kissing Blaine. This is Artie’s definitive hint that they’re doing this and he’s not dreaming; the kiss he’s witnessing has nothing to do with the scarce ones he’s ever seen them share. It’s slow and dirty and he watches, captivated, as their tongues meet and curl together. It occurs to him that they might be giving a show and getting off on it, which makes him groan.