It's funny how much becoming a director changes your outlook on people.
When Finn was just "one of the group", things were simpler. Sure, there were complicated relationships, and drama every three seconds. But he was also just part of the group. Just a single one of the cogs that kept this whole clock turning.
Now that he's the director, he has to observe the group as a whole. He has to keep track of everyone's comings and goings; how they react to each other; who's friends with who this week; who might need someone to keep an eye on them.
It's the first time he really sees Sam.
Sam. Finn's friend. Finn's bro. Hell, Finn's brother.
Because of course Finn remembers the goofy grin Sam always wears. The enthusiasm and the confidence he always projects.
But he doesn't remember seeing the air of insecurity beneath it all. The way Sam holds himself back sometimes or hides himself away
Finn hands out sheet music for their final number for the show, and for once he doesn't miss the fact that Sam doesn't look at it at all. He notices after practice when Sam immediately pulls out his phone and puts in his earphones. On his way out of the door, Finn hears the number they just rehearsed for over an hour thumping in Sam's ears.
A memory filters through his mind, and all-at-once Finn feels like a complete insensitive idiot for forgetting.
"My name's Sam Evans. I like comic books, sports... I'm dyslexic, so my grades aren't that good... but I'm working on it."
Finn turns the memory over in his mind a few more times, before another one filters through.
Sam's face, looking so defeated and broken, two weeks before Thanksgiving. Sam, hanging out down the hall from where Finn is waiting for Ryder. Sam, not fully paying attention to whatever Tina was saying to him. Sam, watching as Ryder got his diagnosis and started talking a mile-a-minute about all the help the school is going to give him.
It's probably a false memory. His mind playing tricks on him. Placing Sam into real memories, to make him feel guiltier than he already did.
But he definitely saw Sam take Ryder aside the next week, and how they worked together to learn the lyrics to Gangnam Style. And he never thought anything of it.
So maybe Finn still isn't so great at noticing.
He's working on it.
Once he tunes into Sam's frequency, really starts to try to get Sam, it's like everything he does is a sign.
Finn knows that's probably an exaggeration. Knows that, in truth, he's probably only noticing the things that are worth noticing, and forgets all the little meaningless moments, just like he does with all of the kids.
But he notices nonetheless.
He sees the way Sam's smile falters slightly as Blaine calls him his "straight best friend" for the third time that week.
He observes as Sam self-consciously runs a hand over his abs when Ryder and Jake start exchanging workout tips.
And he watches the way Sam recoils minutely at a homophobic slur thrown out by one of the football players.
It's not like Finn can point any of this out to him. Sam's still living in his house, and it would be incredibly awkward. But he resolves to keep an eye out for Sam, and to step in if he needs to.
It turns out stepping in may come sooner than he expected.
Kurt steps into the choir room, takes a deep breath, and flashes a smile: first at Finn, and then at the rest of the assembled group.
Sam bounces lightly on his heels as Kurt dishes out hugs and handshakes... Grins that trademark goofy grin as Kurt offers a hand for a shake and Sam pulls him in for a hug instead, eliciting a slight laugh.
When Finn gets home that evening, after hours of phonecalls to the Show Choir Board, it's to find Kurt and Sam on opposite sides of the living room couch, legs crossed, facing each other, with matching grins. He throws out a quick "hello", but they barely interrupt their conversation to acknowledge him, too busy catching up on all the gossip they've missed.
Finn leaves them to it.
It's when he wakes up the next morning to find them still on the couch, cuddled closer together, sleeping softly, that it hits him.
It's so blindingly obvious in hindsight.
All of those little moments, stretching back over two years. Sam's insistence on doing that duet. Sam going after Karofsky for hurting Kurt, when they hadn't even known each other a month. Kurt throwing out a casual thank you, and tacking on an "especially Sam" at the end. Kurt helping Sam out at the motel, and guarding his secret even when it meant people thought he was cheating on his boyfriend. The way they always sat elbow-to-elbow in Glee Kurt's senior year. The shared jokes huddled over Kurt's phone during Whitney week. The private smile Sam and Kurt exchanged during Kurt's final solo right before graduation.
Finn always thought of the three of them as a unit. Living together in the same house. Brothers. A family.
But it's always been Sam and Kurt. Even when they weren't obviously the closest friends in the club, there was always something there. Something that was just theirs.
How he missed that, he'll never know.
Sam catches Kurt's eye across the show circle, and they share that secret smile again.
Finn glances around the group to see if anyone else noticed, and his eyes linger on Blaine, looking between his best friend and his ex-boyfriend as if trying to figure something out, before his eyes lock onto Finn's. Finn gives a half-smile and a shrug, and Blaine looks away, as if scared to know any more.
But Sam and Kurt are still looking to each other. They walk together down the hallway until the very last moment, when Kurt has to leave to take his seat in the audience. Finn watches their hands bump together before Kurt walks away, and resolves to corner Sam backstage.
Of course, a situation like this could be delicate, and Finn has screwed it up for them before. He has to approach this with care and tact.
"How long have you been into my brother?"
Or he could stumble into it face-first and potentially make things worse.
To Finn's surprise, Sam doesn't go on the offensive. He doesn't throw Finn's clumsy words back into his face in any way. He just smiles sadly and shrugs.
"Why does it matter?"
And then Sam's turning towards the stage and building the mask back up again.
Finn finds his seat in the auditorium three seconds before the curtain opens, and the nerves rise up in him.
If they don't win, this is all on him. This group relied on him to guide them, and if it all falls apart, then there's no-one else to blame.
And yet, that's not what he's most nervous about. He casts a glance to the side, at his brother who is captivated by the display in front of him.
And then he goes for broke. Quietly tells Kurt the one thing he's been needing to hear for over two years. Just loudly enough to be heard over the show.
"Sam's into you too, you know."
"How did you--"
"It's my job to look after this club. I notice things."
Kurt falls silent again after that, though Finn sees his mouth open and close a few times. The New Directions' set ends and Finn is the first on his feet in applause, and then has to slip out of the auditorium again.
When he gets outside into the hall, he feels Kurt following behind him.
"He's never said anything," Kurt says sadly.
"I think you need to make the first move, little bro."
"And you're okay with this?"
Finn turns to face Kurt and pulls him into a hug against his objections.
"Of course I am. You're my brothers," he mumbles against Kurt's hair.
When Finn gets home that night, it's to find Kurt and Sam wrapped up in each other again, sharing soft kisses on the couch, and cuddling up against each other.
Finn doesn't say hello.
He doesn't interrupt their moment.
He feels like he's intruded enough.