Well, this is the last chapter! I want to thank everybody who has stuck with this fic, through my incredible lack of updates and endless amounts apologies. I am sorry it has taken so long to get through it, but it is finally finished, and I'm pleased with the conclusion - I hope you are too! Thankyou so much for all your reviews, favourites and story alerts, it really means a lot :) I hope you enjoy the final instalment, review if you want to! Just, thankyou. I can't say it enough :)

Chapter 14

The silence in the choir room was deafening. A few students exchanged confused glances, frowning at each other, not understanding the situation that had unfolded before them. Kurt continued to stare at Puck, who could not stand the contact anymore and had lowered his eyes to floor. A sparse tear trickled down Kurt's cheek.

It was Mr Schuester who broke the silence, his lips pressed into a thin line.

"Would you two like to talk alone for minute?" He said quietly, glancing between the two broken boys in front of him.

"Thankyou," Kurt's voice faltered a little, but he rose from his chair and made directly for Puck. Slowly, he reached for Puck's hand, gently brushing their fingertips together until Puck looked up, a heart-wrenching hope pooling in the dark depths of his eyes. Kurt closed his fingers around Puck's and led him out of the classroom in silence.

Mr Schue exhaled deeply, staring at the floor.

Kurt led Puck out of the room and into the boys' bathroom. After checking under the stall doors and making sure they were alone, Kurt turned to Puck, his eyes welling up again.

"Puck..." Kurt began, but words escaped him; he stared at the silently crying boy in front of him, opening and closing his mouth but not a sound came out.

Puck gave him a long, heartbroken look, before launching himself at the smaller boy and enveloping him in a tight hug. Puck knew that maybe it wasn't welcome, maybe he was forcing himself upon Kurt, but at that moment he didn't care. He needed this; he needed the contact he had craved ever since he'd left Kurt lying in the gravel. The memory cut through his heart like a cold knife, and he sobbed into Kurt's shoulder.

"I- I'm... I'm so s-sorry Kurt," he choked out between the tears, "I n-never meant it to be this way. It started as a stupid prank I'll admit it, but I promise you... I p-promise I never did anything out of pity. I l-love you, Kurt. I meant every word I said."

Kurt couldn't help but wrap his arms around Puck, tough-guy Puck who had just poured his heart out in front of him. He'd never seen him so vulnerable; the tears soaking into his Marc Jacobs sweater were testament to that.

Puck pulled back, gently holding on to Kurt's upper arm as he stared him in the face. He held him so gently, as if he was afraid of breaking him again, afraid of his own strength.

"Look at me," Puck whispered, "I am truly so sorry. Please... I love you..." His expression became desperate as Kurt continued to just look at him, conflict flickering behind his sparkling blue-green eyes.

Kurt took a deep breath as he reached up and brushed a tear from Puck's cheek, his own tears falling now.

Puck softened into the touch, closing his eyes. Why couldn't he just live this moment, with Kurt's hand on his face and his breath on his skin, forever?

"Look, Puck..." Kurt began, dropping his hand from Puck's face and watching the pain return to his face as soon as he broke the contact, "I... I love you too, but-"

"No... No 'but.' Please..." Puck dropped his gaze to the floor and a tear slid off the end of his nose.

"Listen, Noah," Kurt's voice softened, "I love you, but you have to understand that I can't just get over what happened just like that... I need... I need some time... to sort my thoughts out... get back on track..."

Puck's face crumpled, but Kurt shook his head.

"It's not the end, Noah... I just wish we could start again..." Kurt rested his forehead against Puck's in despair and for the longest moment they stood like that, silent, sharing space and breath and tears.

"We- We can start again, K-Kurt..." Puck's eyes gleamed with hope and yet more unshed tears, "please..."

"Not yet, Noah, I'm sorry..." Kurt pulled away, dropping Puck's hand and watching it swing lifelessly by his side, "Not yet..."

And with that, Kurt turned and left the bathroom without looking back...

It had been two weeks since their confrontation in the bathroom, and they hadn't talked since.

Life went on. The sun went down, and came up again the next morning, but that was all there was. Puck's days had become bland, events fading into grey, a smile never gracing his lips. He longed for the sweet release of sleep, but found himself dreaming of Kurt who always danced some way out of his reach. Every morning he would wake feeling a little more empty than the previous day...

Kurt lived in a state of nervous tension and guilt. He knew he'd made the right decision, but the image of Puck's face, crumpled and heartbroken was ingrained on his memory, flashing up whenever he closed his eyes. By the end of the two weeks, however, he had started to come to terms with what had happened. He could replay the events over and over in his mind, right back to when his Dad took the ill-fated phone call to his and Puck's conversation in the boys' bathroom.

It was slowly starting to come together and rational thought returned...

Puck was mindlessly flicking through channels on the small TV in his bedroom when his phone vibrated, notifying him of a text message. He turned his blank gaze to the phone beside him, no emotion registering on his face, and opened the message.

I think I'm ready to start again...

It was from Kurt.

Puck leapt to his feet, holding the screen an inch from his face to make sure he'd read correctly. Did this mean what he thought it meant? He grabbed his beaten old jacket and pulled it on as he thundered down the stairs and out into his front yard.

"Noah!" his mother called out of the kitchen window, alarmed, "Noah? Where are you going?" But he paid her no attention, fiddling with the key in the lock of his truck until the door swung open violently and he scrambled to get inside. He sped off down the road, the first ghost of a smile to return to his face in weeks...

Kurt waited anxiously for Puck's reply, his phone slick with sweat as he clutched it feverishly in his palm. But none came, and Kurt started to panic. Maybe Puck had gotten over it? Maybe he didn't care for Kurt anymore? Had he taken too long over the decision? Had he missed his chance? Fear and disappointment started to pool together in his stomach, and Kurt bit his lip. He flipped open his phone and was about to tap in an apologetic "forget about it" follow-up text, but then the doorbell rang.

Kurt's heart leapt for a moment – could it be? He tried not to get his hopes up, but there was a certain urgency in which he made his way to the front door. He wasn't quite sure why, but he took a deep breath before opening it.

Puck stood outside, framed by the doorway like a portrait in a painting. He smiled, but there was still a question in his eyes. Kurt broke into a grin, bringing a hand to his mouth in surprise. Puck composed himself, looking at the floor before bringing his eyes up again to meet Kurt's.

"...Start again?" he breathed, looking hopeful.

Kurt wrapped his arms around Puck's neck, standing on his tiptoes to look him right in the eye.

"Start again," he smiled, before closing the small distance between them, and bringing their lips together in a kiss that said everything they needed to.

The taste, the scent, the touch of Puck's lips came flooding back to Kurt as he kissed him deeply, slowly. They finally had all the time in the world. Puck's hands came to rest on Kurt's hips, and they broke apart slowly; they stared into each other's eyes, drinking each other up, making up for all those missed moments.

They stayed like that for a long while, before breaking into identical, ecstatic grins.

They giggled softly, revelling in their new beginning...