The next day at school Kurt looked for Sam in the hallways. He tried not to make it obvious, tried not to look like anything was wrong, but Mercedes could tell straight off the bat that things had gone badly. Mind you, she'd already suspected that it hadn't worked out when Kurt hadn't immediately messaged her with the details. Kurt just shook his head when she asked, clammed up tighter than a steep trap and refused to say a word about his night. Instead he started a bright and cheerful discussion about the latest fall fashions and his theory about the law of burnt umber.
His false cheer lasted through their shared Chemistry class, through lunch, and right up until glee practice. At which point he was called out on it from an unexpected source.
"What the hell is your deal today, Hummel?" Puck demanded, interrupting Kurt's happy anecdote about shopping in Columbus. "You're chirpier than a Chihuahua on crack."
"There's nothing wrong," Kurt replied, with only a tiny quiver from his bottom lip. The flat-voiced, disbelieving "bullshit" from Puck was the last straw. He had seen Sam twice, and both times the other boy had turned and walked in the other direction. He even seemed to have skipped the one class they shared just to keep avoiding him. "Fine," Kurt snapped, feeling his eyes sting and digging furiously in his bag for a packet of tissues, "Sam doesn't like the fact that I'm half-bear, ok?"
He found the tissues and tore one out of the pack to dab under his eyes as Mercedes wrapped an arm around him. "Oh, honey... Did he cancel your date last night?"
"He won't talk to me," Kurt confessed, somehow managing to keep his voice from wobbling, "and now he's avoiding me. But that's fine. It's his choice if he wants to be a racist asshole."
Kurt found himself in the middle of a cluster of mothering females telling him all about how much Sam really sucked and how they knew he could do better. It was both depressing (because he had sort of liked Sam) and yet at the same time it was good to know that he had friends who cared enough to insult the other boy on his behalf.
The cluster didn't disband when Will Schuester entered the room, and the girls sat or stood close by for the remainder of practice. They acted like his own personal buffer against the world until practice was over and the club disbanded to make their way to their various homes. Kurt sighed and trudged to his car. He was just about to climb into the car when he realised that he'd left his scarf back in the choir room.
He shut the car door, hit the central locking, and breezed back into the school. He was half expecting the choir room to be locked, but when he entered the hallway the sound of an acoustic guitar strumming the melody line of Alice Cooper's 'You and Me' was coming from the open choir room door.
Kurt hesitated only a moment, not sure he wanted to interrupt someone's practice, then squared his shoulders and walked through the door. "I'm just here to get my scarf," he said to the room, walking straight for the chair he'd been sitting in earlier.
The soft strumming didn't stop, and a familiar male voice replied; "Yeah, I know. I saw it."
Kurt picked up his scarf and turned to go, stopped when the boy playing the guitar added; "Sam's a douche."
"Thank you," Kurt said dryly, glancing at the other boy, "Puck. For that marvellous moment of insight."
"Want me to set his car on fire?" Puck suggested, not looking up from the strings of his guitar and watching his fingers when he changed notes. "I know where the janitor keeps all the chemicals and stuff."
"Only you would consider fire an appropriate response to someone being stood up," Kurt rolled his eyes. He ran the fabric of his scarf through his fingers, feeling the thin, soft material. "No. Thank you. I don't need any felonies performed in my honour."
Kurt turned to leave, but stopped again when Puck stopped strumming the guitar and asked; "So do you have bear feet?"
"Bear feet," Puck repeated, and shrugged. "You know, paw-shaped with claws?"
"No," Kurt answered, too shocked by the rudeness of the question to answer with anything more witty.
"What about a tail?"
Mortified, Kurt flushed a sudden and violent shade of red. He was so embarrassed he didn't stop to wonder how exactly Puck knew the term. "Oh my God! That's none of your business!"
"So what's his problem?" Puck grumbled, apparently unaware of the violent blush that had alighted on Kurt's face. "Anyway, he'd be lucky to have you even if you did."
"Bears don't exactly have a good reputation in some places," Kurt replied stiffly, winding his scarf between his fingers a little tighter than he really should.
"Bears are fucking awesome." Puck emphasised the point with a short, loud three chords. He stopped the strings by slapping his hand against the flat of the guitar beneath the neck and looked at Kurt. "You're fucking awesome. You'd be awesome even if you were deformed and had a tail or sharp teeth or paws."
"Um..." Kurt wasn't entirely sure what the other boy was trying to get at. "Ok?"
"So I think we should get together some time."
"Excuse me?" Kurt blinked rapidly at the other boy, a pink flush across his cheeks as he wondered whether he hadn't accidentally stumbled into some bizarre alternate reality. One where Puck had maybe just asked him out. "Do you mean as friends?"
Puck shrugged, tapping his fingers idly against this guitar. He was staring at the floor intently, and when he finally managed to drag his eyes up to lock with Kurt's the pale boy's breath caught in his throat. "I mean," Puck told him, "a date. If you want. Because you're awesome, and I'm awesome, and together we'd be pretty fucking awesome."
Kurt was vaguely aware that he was twisting his scarf so tightly that it would need to be very carefully ironed to get all the wrinkles out. He stared at Puck, swallowed, and tried to find his voice. "You're serious? This isn't just some kind of awful joke, or a prank?"
The guitar was slung over one of Puck's shoulders, resting against his back with the strap crossed over his chest. He jumped up from the chair he'd been perched on and crossed the room, crowding into Kurt's personal space. It was shocking to realise that they were pretty much the exact same height, but somehow Puck always managed to make himself seem taller. It was the shoulders, Kurt decided, the broad shoulders and the air of 'I don't give a fuck'. This time he knew what was going to happen before the fact, but he was still surprised when the other boy's lips pressed against his.
Puck did not kiss like Sam did, Kurt noted. Puck had an air of intensity even with the pressure of his lips only soft and cautious. He didn't pull away quickly either; just kept kissing, stroking his fingers against Kurt's cheekbones and jaw until somehow Kurt's mouth was open and their tongues were touching.
"You have to meet my dad," Kurt informed him, a touch breathless, once the kiss was broken. "Before I go out with you, before we start dating if that's what you want to do."
"Dude," Puck stated, holding Kurt in place with just his gaze. "I'm prepared to meet your whole fuzzy family."
"Well you won't have to do that," Kurt said and laughed a little, feeling giddy. "My mother's side of the family practically disowned us after she died, and most of dad's family doesn't approve of his 'life choices'. You may have to meet Aunt Mildred, but only if you somehow manage to stick around until the annual family Christmas party. Which is really just the three of us. Plus Carole and Finn now I suppose..."
"You babble." Puck grinned.
"You're a jerk."
"I know how to shut you up."
Kurt saw it coming again and didn't protest. He just closed his eyes, parted his lips, and melted against Puck's chest. He wasn't aware that he'd dropped his scarf and slid his hands around the other boy until he bumped the guitar resting against Puck's back.
"Tomorrow's Saturday," Puck said afterwards. "I can come over in the morning to meet your dad, about ten."
"Ok," Kurt agreed, suddenly having forgotten all about being upset over Sam's surprise bigotry. Instead his mind was whirling with the issue of how he was going to explain to his dad that he had another potential date in such a short time, and also the fact that Puck was very good at kissing.
Sam showed up on the Hummel's doorstep armed with internet research and a jar of 100% natural honey as a peace offering. It was just after lunch on Saturday, and he was pretty confident that the right kind of apology would let him sneak back into Kurt's good graces. After all, how was he supposed to know that bears mixed freely with the human population in a handful of smaller towns across the US? He came from the city, where bears were regarded as wildlife, not from a small town where Bearglish (which he hadn't even known was a language) was taught in grade school and it wasn't wholly uncommon for at least one bear to be found in each area code.
Sure he'd freaked out at first, but he thought that was pretty understandable. He'd shown up at his date's house and a bear in a trucker cap had answered the door. He hadn't understood a single growl because he'd never learned even the basics of Bearglish. What was he supposed to have done when he found out that Kurt was literally half-bear?
Sam had eventually calmed down enough to break out the google-fu and do some research. He had been shocked when the first relevant site he came across was a news article (that had clearly never made the front page) about the city of Lodz in Poland electing a bear to be Mayor, for the first time in the country's history. The article had been accompanied by a small photo of the bear in question, standing on two legs behind a podium and clearly speaking into a microphone.
Further research indicated that the largest population density of bears was, unsurprisingly, in Holland - which had granted bears full equal rights in the seventies, a full decade before the US had even allowed bears to vote.
So here he was, ringing the doorbell with one hand while holding a jar of very expensive honey in the other and hoping he didn't get kicked off the front step. He could hear footsteps coming towards the door, human-sounding footsteps, and took a deep breath.
The door swung inwards to reveal the person he wanted to see, Kurt, standing barefoot in the entryway. He did not look impressed to see Sam there. "What do you want?"
"I wanted to apologise," Sam explained earnestly. "I was just surprised. They don't teach kids about stuff like that in the city. I know I made an ass of myself and I'm sorry. I'd like to try again, if that's ok."
Kurt frowned at him and opened his mouth to speak, but was interrupted by a call from further inside; "Is it the pizza guy?" There was a pause, a deeper rumble, and then a boy that Sam recognised from school rounded a corner. "Your dad says he doesn't smell anchovies."
Kurt rolled his eyes and shook his head. "Because Carole is out," he explained to Sam, who got the feeling he was missing something, "the boys deemed it perfectly acceptable to order pizza for lunch. I was outvoted, or we would be having salad."
Sam watched as the boy from school came up behind Kurt and wrapped an arm around his waist. "Want me to kick his ass?" he asked, practically purring the words right into Kurt's ear.
Kurt swatted him. "Puck. Please. He came to apologise."
"So?" Puck asked, clearly marking territory as he kissed the side of Kurt's neck.
"The least we can do is be civilised. And look, he brought honey."
"It's organic," Sam said, frowning at the other two boys. "So you're with him now?" he asked, looking at Puck.
"Yes," the reply was short, and somehow not diminished by the fact that Kurt shoved his elbow into Puck's stomach when the other boy's hands showed signs of wandering. "It would appear so. Unlike you," Kurt said, "Puck is surprisingly open minded, and has somehow actually managed to impress my father."
"I'm awesome," Puck added, smirking. "It's a true fact."
"You also have an ego," Kurt said, looking over his shoulder. "It's not very charming."
Sam backed up a step. He could see when he wasn't wanted. "Ok. So. I'll just go then."
"Hold on," Kurt stopped him. He stepped forward, and for a moment Sam almost imagined that he was going to get the 'we can be friends' speech. Then Kurt took the jar of honey from his hand. "I'll take that, thank you."
Two seconds later the front door was shut and Sam was left on his own outside to ponder just exactly how the education system in his old school had screwed him. Kurt was still gorgeous, still confident, still picture perfect and Sam's first crush that wasn't a girl. Only Kurt had moved on, leaving Sam to replay his damning freak-out over and over again as he trudged back to his car.
"It wasn't the pizza guy," Kurt informed Finn and his father as he and Puck re-entered the living room. There was a sports game of some sort playing on the TV, Kurt hadn't been paying attention to what it was - he'd been flicking through fashion magazines and paying attention only to the conversation going on around him.
"Why have you got a jar of honey?" Finn asked, frowning.
Kurt sat back down on the couch and tucked his legs up underneath himself. He unscrewed the lid to the jar while Puck took the seat next to him. "I was visited by the honey-fairy," Kurt replied. He dipped the tip of a finger into the honey and stuck it into his mouth.
'That Sam came by,' Burt growled, face still turned towards the TV.
"He came," Kurt nodded, licking honey from his bottom lip, "then he went."
"Sam's weasel-shit," Puck stated bluntly, and Burt whuffed in agreement.
Kurt just shook his head and went back to flicking through his magazines. A moment later something significant or other happened on screen and all three of his companions protested loudly, yelling (or growling) at the TV as if it would do any good. Kurt rolled his eyes. "Why on earth do I consistently find myself surrounded by cavemen?"
"Because we like you," Puck answered, leaning over to kiss his cheek. In full view of Kurt's father.
Kurt thought that was a pretty good answer.