Put Me Back Together
Chapter 33: Freak Me Out
"What…" Kurt took a few steps forward, unsure if Puck was really there or just a dream. "How did you… my dad went to bed hours ago."
"The key." Puck held up a small, shining gold key. "The one you keep -"
"Under the mailbox for emergencies." Kurt cursed himself mentally. He'd totally forgotten that when he'd told Artie where the spare key was, he was sitting with Puck at the hospital. And not only that, but Kurt had forgotten to have his dad find a new home for it after they'd gotten home that night.
Kurt was just about to ask Puck for the key back (and this time he would make sure it was moved) when something else occurred to him…
"But what about your truck? And the neighbors?" Mrs. Denton and her busy body ways quickly filled Kurt's mind.
"I parked a couple of blocks away." Puck moved a little farther into the room and placed the key on the arm of the couch. "And… you probably don't want to know the rest."
Kurt narrowed his eyes at Puck but didn't press the matter further. If Puck said he didn't want to know, then Kurt was going to take his word for it. And anyways, he didn't care.
Because now that he knew how Puck had gotten into his house, Kurt felt his anger and embarrassment from that afternoon come flooding back.
But before he could ask Puck just what he thought he was doing, something hit Kurt like a ton of bricks. Puck had snuck into his house.
He'd snuck into his house.
In the middle of the night.
And Kurt had no clue how long he'd been there or what he'd been doing. Swallowing deeply, Kurt tried to keep himself from fidgeting. "How long have you been here?"
"I just got here. You were in the bathroom when I…." Puck gestured towards the staircase. "When I got here."
Relief washing over him, Kurt nodded a little. He still didn't like that Puck had snuck into his house, but knowing that he'd just gotten there calmed Kurt down a bit. However, that didn't stop him from feeling suddenly exposed in his dark red, white, and black striped pajama set and bare feet. In an attempt to cover himself up, Kurt crossed his arms defensively over his chest. "Now that that's settled… Why are you here, Puck?"
The question seemed to hang in the air between them, creating a palpable tension that Kurt could barely stand. But Kurt wasn't about to break the silence. After all, not only had Puck broke into his house in the middle of the night, but he'd done it after breaking his heart that afternoon. So as far as Kurt was concerned, it was Puck's turn to put himself on the line.
Across from him, Puck's mouth was pressed into a hard line, and his eyes were narrowed. But somehow…
He didn't look angry.
He looked like he was trying to work through something in his head.
Something that was causing him a lot of inner turmoil.
But rather than being moved by the confusion on Puck's face, Kurt didn't drop his guard. Instead, he continued to stand there, arms crossed, staring at Puck.
How long they stood there staring at one another, Kurt couldn't tell. But eventually the look on Puck's face changed. It was slight, nothing more than an un-furrowing of eyebrows, but Kurt had seen it.
"I…." Puck sounded as if it had taken all the strength he possessed to utter that one syllable.
When Puck didn't say anything else, Kurt felt his own mouth press into an irritated line. "You…" The word was dripping with sarcasm, but Kurt was past caring.
He watched as Puck's face seemed to close back down again.
"This was a mistake." Puck dropped his arms to his sides hopelessly. "I'm gonna go." Puck turned and walked back towards the steps.
"What?" The word came out as a half question, half accusation, but Kurt couldn't believe what he was hearing.
And apparently neither could Puck, because he slowly turned and studied Kurt incredulously.
"What?" He paused for a moment. "Was there something you didn't understand about that?" Puck held up his hands in mock question. "Do I need to explain something to you more carefully?"
Kurt felt his face flush red hot in anger. He wanted to bite back with some scathing retort, but his mouth refused to work. It was as he'd become so angry that his jaw had clamped itself shut.
Irritated with his inability to speak, Kurt wrapped his arms more tightly around his body.
"Well, look at that…." Puck dropped his hands and smiled sarcastically. "Kurt Hummel speechless. What a sight."
Kurt ground his teeth together, still unable to come up with the right thing to say. He wished that Puck would just turn around and leave like he was going to. Because this, the fighting, the bouncing back and forth, it was wearing him out.
No, it wasn't wearing him out. He was worn out. And Kurt couldn't take it anymore.
But of course, Puck didn't leave. Instead, he stood there staring at him.
"Why do you have to make this harder than it is?" Puck took a few steps forward. And the closer he got, the more worn out he looked. "Isn't it hard enough?"
"You haven't exactly made this easy yourself, you know?" Kurt was surprised to find that his voice was barely above a whisper. And as he waited for Puck to say something, anything, he rubbed his arms. He told himself that it was because he'd never really gotten warm after leaving the field, but Kurt knew he was trying to comfort himself.
Instead of speaking right away, Puck dropped his head and nodded a little. "I know. I just…" He lifted his head and looked towards the ceiling. "You really freak me out."
"I… What?" Kurt stopped rubbing his arms and held himself again. Of all the things Puck could have said, Kurt never once thought it would be anything like that. And to be honest, he didn't understand what Puck meant.
Puck took another step forward, looking Kurt directly in the eyes. "I'm so afraid of you."
"You're afraid of me?" Even as the words came out of his mouth, Kurt could barely believe what he was saying. How could Puck possibly be scared of him? Sure, he appeared nervous at times, but for the most part, Puck always seemed so sure of himself. And because of that, there was only one explanation he could think of…
"Is…" Kurt took a few steps backward, needing to put some more distance between himself and Puck. He hadn't even said the words, and he already hated them. "Is this some kind of big gay freak out thing?"
"No." Puck didn't hesitate to answer. And that one word, spoken with such vehemence, convinced Kurt that Puck wasn't lying.
"I mean, yeah, ok, at first…." When Kurt's eyes widened in shock, Puck took another step towards him. "But that was a long time ago. Like, before your party. And I got over it pretty quickly." Puck smiled just a little, but it didn't help Kurt feel better.
For a few seconds, Kurt stood there, feeling totally stunned. There was so much to say, so much that needed to be said, but he couldn't seem to remember any of it. Puck's confession had rendered him completely speechless. (And not in an angry way like before either.) Never once, since Puck had kissed him at Sectionals, had Kurt considered Puck's sexuality. And now, he realized that he'd taken it for granted.
Kurt had just assumed that since Puck hadn't turned around and retaliated somehow after their kiss that he was totally fine with it. And therefore, that he was into guys as well as girls.
But now, with it staring him in the face, Kurt not only felt stupid, but he felt embarrassed and exposed.
Keeping his eyes on Puck, Kurt took a couple of more steps backwards. "Was I… was I some kind of experiment then?" Kurt swallowed deeply, terrified of what he was saying and of what he might hear in return. "I mean, you said you'd only kissed me because -"
"No!" Puck shouted, obviously irritated with Kurt. "Yes, that first kiss…." He paused, his chest heaving in anger. They'd been down this conversational road before, and the results had been disastrous. Kurt could tell that Puck was trying to get away from that topic as best he could. "But everything after…." Puck's voice trailed off as if he couldn't bring himself to say the words.
Kurt watched as Puck picked up his foot to take another step forward. But when Kurt's body tensed in response, Puck set his foot back down. "Look, at first, I was freaked out, but -"
"Kurt?" Burt's sleepy voice echoed down the steps, causing Kurt to jump. If his dad knew that Puck was in his room in the middle of the night… well, Kurt didn't really know what Burt would do. But he knew it wouldn't get good.
For any of them.
"I heard a noise down there. Everything ok?"
"I…." Kurt looked up at the ceiling frantically as if he could see his dad through it. When he finally decided that he couldn't see through the floor, Kurt looked back at Puck. "Yeah, I got up to go to the bathroom."
"I heard a yell." Burt sounded confused.
"I know…." Kurt gave Puck a dirty look as he tried to come up with an explanation. "I stubbed my toe. It's dark down here." Kurt prayed that his dad couldn't see the light from the bathroom or the lamp he'd turned on when he'd gotten up. Kurt wasn't sure just how far the light carried.
For a painfully long minute, there was nothing but silence, and Kurt was terrified that his dad would come downstairs.
When Burt finally spoke, Kurt let out a long breath he hadn't realized he been holding. "You ok?"
"Yeah. Yeah, I'm fine." Kurt fought to keep the relief out of his voice. Across from him, Puck was smiling softly.
"Ok, well…." Burt's voice trailed off in a yawn. "Get back to bed. It's late."
"I know. I will." Relief coursing though his body, Kurt felt like relaxing his arms. But when he thought of Puck still staring at him, the desire faded. Kurt dropped his eyes to the floor, wishing that Puck would look anywhere but at him.
As Burt's footsteps moved around upstairs, Kurt and Puck stood in silence. From the location of the sounds above him, Kurt could tell that his dad was rummaging around in the kitchen. Just knowing that his dad was still awake and moving around the house bothered Kurt. Simply because there was no telling what Puck was going to do or how he would react.
"Look…" When Puck spoke, his voice was just above a whisper. For some reason, the fact that Puck had lowered his tone helped Kurt relax a little. Granted, Kurt knew that it was, because Puck didn't want to get caught either. But it was touching anyway.
However, it wasn't enough to make Kurt lift his head. "Kurt, look at me." Puck was still whispering, but he sounded upset. "Kurt, please."
At the sound of the word "please," Kurt lifted his head tentatively. "Ok." Puck raised one of his hands like he hoped it would help. "When I was all freaked out about everything, I tried checking out other dudes. Like… Mike and Matt and even Mr. Sch-"
"Stop." Kurt put as much strength into that one whispered word as he possibly could. Hearing that Puck had tried to check out other boys, as if to compare… Kurt didn't know if he should be flattered or offended. But either way, Kurt did not want to hear about Puck checking out Mr. Schuester. No way. No how.
Thankfully Puck listened and stopped speaking, but there was a familiar look of mischief in his eyes. "Hey, have you ever checked out Schue's-"
"This reallyisn't the time." Kurt felt his irritating slowly seeping back in. "Tell me, what exactly did you figure out when you were checking out the entire school."
Instantly, the twinkle left Puck's eyes, and he became serious once again. "I wasn't checking out the whole school." Puck dropped his outstretched hand. "And what I figured out was that… was that…." The words faded away again.
Puck's eyes locked on Kurt's with such seriousness and intensity that Kurt felt every muscle in his body freeze up. He didn't know what Puck was trying to say, but the way his eyes had become so focused… the way he seemed to be fighting for his words… Kurt knew what was coming, and it made his flesh crawl.
"Don't you dare tell me you love me. Not now. Not after today."
Kurt's whispered growl seemed to hang in the air between them, highlighting just how much they'd gone through together. The silence was so heavy and painful that Kurt could barely stand it. But he knew that if Puck were to have said he loved him, that that would have been it.
Blinking slowly and purposely, Puck sighed deeply. And instead of saying anything, he ran his hands over his hair. As Kurt waited for him to speak, he felt his heart begin to thud painfully in his chest.
This was it.
And it would make or break them.
"I realized that…" Puck rubbed at the base of his skull. "That I don't… I'm not…." He dropped his hand to his side. "That things aren't right when you're not around. I'm not all right when you aren't around."
When Puck's words sunk in, Kurt felt his mouth fall open slightly.
"I mean…" Puck dropped his head back and looked up at the ceiling as if it was hard for him to say whatever was on his mind. "I loved Quinn. I really did. And I tried for her. But we don't… and she's not you… and…."
"But then why?" The words were out of Kurt's mouth before he could stop them. "Why did you…." Kurt fought to find the right words. "Today…."
Puck turned away from Kurt and walked over to the couch. Kurt watched as he dropped down onto the soft cushion. And even though Kurt wanted to stay near the safety of the bathroom doorway, he needed to see Puck's face when he responded. Tentatively, he padded across the room to stand in front of Puck.
"I'm sorry." Puck looked up at him, his eyes full of sadness and anger.
The apology, so simple, broke Kurt's heart.
"I've never felt this way, not even about Quinn." Puck looked up at him, his eyes pleading. "I told you… you terrify me." He said it with a small laugh that didn't quite meet his eyes.
At a loss for what to say, Kurt reached out and placed his hand on Puck's cheek. In response Puck's eyes fell shut as he turned into the touch.
For a while, neither of them spoke. Kurt watched in fascination as Puck's chest rose and fell with his labored breaths. Puck had laid the truth out there before him, and he looked absolutely exhausted because of it.
And now, it was Kurt's turn.
Kurt knew he needed to say something, but he just didn't know how he could do justice to what Puck had just confessed to him. Because of all the possible explanations he'd come up with for Puck's behavior, this was not one of them.
When he finally did think of something though, Kurt took a deep breath. "I can't keep doing this, Noah." It didn't really address anything Puck had said, but Kurt knew he'd said the right thing.
Slowly, Puck opened his eyes and looked up at Kurt, his face an open book. "I know."
Kurt pressed his lips together and nodded. Slowly, he reached out his other free hand and placed it on the other side of Puck's face. And very gently, he tiled Puck's face up just a little more. Puck didn't resist or try to pull away; instead he kept his eyes locked on Kurt's. When Kurt could no longer stand it, he let his eye life fall shut as he gently pressed his lips into Puck's forehead.
He let the soft kiss linger, relishing the feel of Puck's warm skin against his own. But after a moment he pulled back. And still holding Puck's face between his hands, Kurt looked directly into his eyes, feeling as if he could see straight into his soul.
After taking a deep breath, he said, "If we're going to do this, we're going to do this, ok?" Kurt's voice was completely serious. "No more Finn…" He'd gotten over Finn long ago, but Kurt wanted Puck to understand exactly what he was saying. "No more Quinn." Kurt pressed his lips together as a tiny breath hitched in his throat. "Just us."
Puck slowly reached out and slid his hands around Kurt's back. The touch was gentle, tentative, almost as if he couldn't quite believe what he was doing. And though Kurt wanted an answer to what he'd just said, he was also content to feel for a moment.
However, when Puck tried to pull Kurt down onto his lap, Kurt held his ground. "No, Noah." Gently but firmly, he gave Puck's face a little squeeze. "You need to answer me first."
Kurt swallowed. Deep down, he already knew the answer to the question, but he was still afraid to ask for it. "So, are we going to do this or not?"
Puck didn't wait or pause or even think before answering. Instead, he just smiled a bit before responding. "Yeah, we are."
Kurt didn't know why, but even though he'd gotten the response he wanted, he still wasn't jumping for joy. "It's not going to be easy."
At Kurt's proclamation, Puck's eyed widened in mock shock. "Cause it's been a walk in the park so far?" Relaxing his face, Puck pulled at Kurt's waist again. This time, Kurt didn't resist.
"That's not what I meant." Rather than sit on Puck's lap, Kurt angled himself so that he was on the cushion. And despite the look of disappointment on Puck's face, Kurt curled his legs up underneath himself.
"I know what you meant, Kurt." Puck wrapped one of his arms around Kurt's shoulders and the other over his waist. And very gently, Puck pulled Kurt as close as he possible could (without pulling him onto his lap). "We'll deal with… whatever as it comes."
Kurt nodded his head and leaned into Puck's side. Thinking about what Puck had said, he hoped that Puck was right. And he also hoped that they would be able to deal with anything and everything that came their way. Because Kurt was sure that there would be plenty to bumps in the road for them.
But before he could say that, he felt Puck lay his cheek on the top his head, and all of his worry disappeared. "We'll be fine, Kurt." Puck's voice was a low whisper that ruffled Kurt's hair.
"Promise?" The word came out low and sleepy. For the first time since Puck had arrived, Kurt realized just how sleepy he really was. It was as if all of the excitement and stress and happiness and heartache had just caught up to him and he was exhausted.
"Promise." Unsurprisingly, Puck sounded just as tired. And when he scooted down into the couch, pulling Kurt more closely to him, Kurt didn't object. He was warm and comfortable, but most of all…
He was happy.
Squeeka Cuomo's Notes
- The title and opening quote for this fic come from the beautiful Weezer song, "Put Me Back Together." You can find it here.
- This chapter was inspired by the beautiful Weezer song "Freak Me Out." You can find it here.
- So… this is it. The end. The very end. And I am just… Beyond amazed by all of the love and support you've given me. Whether you've reviewed one chapter or all - or even if you've just read… Thank you. Thank you SO much. This has been an incredible journey and I want all of you to know just how much I appreciate your taking it with me. You've been awesome and you've all made this experience that much more amazing. Ducks and kisses.
- Quack: I don't really know how to thank you properly. You are such an amazing person and awesome friend. And I wouldn't want to have anyone else as my beta. You're comments and suggestions are invaluable and you've helped to make this process even more enjoyable. So thank you. Can we go to France, Italy now?
- Disclaimer: Not mine.
- Reviews are love.