Chapter 5 – To Be a Friend
"Hey!" Rachel called when Kurt stopped home to grab a change of clothes before he brought Finn over to Puck's to finish hashing out the details of their plan. This sweater just wasn't working for him today. "Where did you run off to after class, Kurt? I thought we were going to do our homework together so we can spend more time at Puck's house tomorrow."
"Yeah, about that," Kurt said, turning away from his roommate and trying to come up with an excuse for why he was late and leaving again in a minute. "I've got a … date. Yeah, I've got a date tonight. So sorry. I'll have to work really hard on Sunday to get that done, so don't wait for me. We can't have me dragging you down, now can we?"
"Kurt!" Rachel squealed, jumping up and down behind him. "Who is the date with? Oh, I'm so happy for you!"
"Um," Kurt wanted to say it was with Puck, but they were trying to be friends, right? And Kurt knew if he even mentioned having slight romantic (lustful) feelings for the guy, Rachel would stop at nothing to set them up. Kurt suspected that being unable to date since her break up with Finn was making Rachel want to live vicariously through him.
Scrambling for an answer, Kurt finally blurted out, "Ben. Yep, going on a date with Ben."
"Puck's roommate, Ben?" Rachel asked, sounding surprised, worried and impressed all at once.
Kurt understood where she was coming from, because though Ben seemed nice and was really cute, they both knew he wasn't the kind of guy Kurt usually dated. Oh, well. For another twenty four hours at least, he was stuck in the lie. Not wanting to make Rachel suspicious, Kurt said, "Yeah. He called me yesterday and we're going out dancing."
Sounding tragically disappointed, Rachel sighed, "Oh, Kurt!"
"What?" Kurt replied, nodding as he decided the finishing touches on his outfit.
"You don't really get to know a person dancing. Why don't you two go out for a nice dinner? That way you'll get to talk and learn more about each other before you end up in bed with Puck's roommate."
"Rachel!" Kurt complained, actually offended. He'd gotten so good lately at just letting her comments roll off his back. It was good practice for the passive-aggressive jibes and other disappointments he was sure to face in his life as a performer. "There's nothing saying I'll wind up in bed with him!"
"And how did your relationship with Nick start again? I seem to remember there being dancing and illicit activities in your dorm room being involved."
"Rachel," Kurt sighed, taking her by the shoulders and pushing her out of his room, "that happened once. If I promise there will be no illicit activities, will you let it go? Besides, you're not my mother, or even my step-mother. How is this any of your business?"
"I'm your friend, Kurt," Rachel pouted, looking up at him through her lashes, as if that would work. "Even if I'm not yours, you're my best friend, and I don't want to see you get hurt. He doesn't seem like a good guy for you, Kurt. After what happened with Nick..."
"Sweetie," Kurt sighed, hugging Rachel for her apparently selfless concern. "It's just one date. And I'll tell you what..."
"Tonight, why don't you work on making a batch of your 'I told you so' cookies? After I make a colossal fool of myself on this date we can eat them and give each other facials. How does that sound?"
A slow smile spread across Rachel's face until it was a full-on grin and she nodded. "I'll get started right away!" She headed for the kitchen, leaving Kurt to change his outfit and pray that he knew what he was doing.
Puck forgot about Ben's invitation to go to that all-ages club until he was driving home. Crap. He'd much rather take Finn out to a sports bar or something, but getting past the bouncers without a really good fake ID for Finn would be practically impossible. Plus, this was one of Didi's publicity schemes, too. She'd be thrilled if Puck was seen by some of the low-level paparazzi out on the town with Ben. Dancing with Ben. Making out with Ben.
While all were some of Puck's usual go-to pastimes, after the day he'd had at work, Puck wanted just one person. Kurt.
Yeah, he said he wanted to be Kurt's friend, but how could he be friends with Kurt when all he wanted to do was tap that ass a million ways from Sunday, and then make him waffles? Without Ben's help cooking, thank you very much.
Maybe if Puck was seen out on the town with Kurt, dancing with Kurt, making out with Kurt, Didi would be just as satisfied. After a year in the business, Puck understood that keeping his agent happy meant getting better parts and a bigger paycheck, so this option seemed like the best of both worlds.
Smiling at the thought, Puck found his phone and dialed Kurt's number, which was quickly becoming one of his favorites.
Finn thought he might melt waiting out in Kurt's car with a dark jacket draped over his head and the sun beating down on Kurt's roof, but he didn't want to let Rachel see him and ruin the surprise. So he waited. And waited. It started getting dark out and finally Kurt came back to the car. "Dude! Where have you been?"
"Sorry," Kurt replied with a grimace and Finn thought he might have blushed a little bit. "I was just going to change my sweater and then Puck called to say he wants to take you out to dinner and then a club, to 'loosen you up' before the big day tomorrow. But then he invited me to come along and the outfit I had on just would not work for a night out dancing and... What, Finn?"
Finn hadn't really noticed Kurt's clothes until he started talking about changing and now he saw that his brother was wearing really tight black pants and a v-neck t-shirt under a fitted vest, with a loose scarf around the neck. "Those aren't 'go out with your friends' clothes, bro. Those are like 'looking to get laid' clothes!"
Blushing, Kurt started the car and took off. "Also, I may have told Rachel I was going on a date with Ben. I had to look the part."
"But ..." Finn said, thinking about his plans to get Kurt and Puck together, "you can't date Ben. He's like ... look, I really like the dude, but he's kinda sketchy. This morning, while Puck was in the shower, he actually asked me what might be the quickest way to get you into bed. Like you were a conquest or something. And like I would even know!"
One eyebrow screaming annoyance in Finn's direction, Kurt explained with a tight jaw, "As enlightening as that is, I'm not going on a damn date with Ben! It's just a cover. God, you and Rachel may have broken up a year ago, but you're still thinking like the freaking Wonder Twins."
Finn didn't know what that meant, because the Wonder Twins, as far as he could remember, were brother and sister, like twins. They didn't do things like dating and sleeping together like he and Rachel had been before the break-up, because that would be gross.
"Dude, is this about running into Nick earlier? My offer to punch him still stands," Finn insisted, pulling the jacket off his head now that they were out of sight and rolling down his window to help cool off.
Kurt pursed his lips in annoyance as he rolled the window back up and flipped on the air with a quiet, "Hair, Finn. My hair."
Finn noticed how Kurt didn't reply to his question about Nick. That must be it. Kurt was sad about his ex being such a douche and, just like Finn's friend Tyler, who went out and banged three random chicks in three nights after his girlfriend dumped him, Kurt was doing the same thing. Only, with guys. And Finn was totally okay with the guy part, just not with the bad-coping-strategy part. Really.
Kurt was supposed to be getting with Puck, not hook up with some stranger at a dance club! Maybe this evening wouldn't be as relaxed for Finn as his friends were planning. Instead, he was going to have to cockblock his brother all night to keep Kurt's chances of ending up with Puck good, and what could be more stressful than that?
The club Ben brought Puck and his friends to, all crammed in Kurt's little car, had a long-ass line curling all around the building. If it hadn't been for the publicity, Puck would have suggested they go somewhere else a little quieter. Who knows how much this place would make Hudson freak out. He was used to Lima and then Austin, not the freakishness that was the LA club scene. Hell, Puck didn't even know if Kurt knew what he was getting into here, but he would have felt bad leaving the two stepbrothers alone in his apartment all night.
Especially since this way he had a much better chance of getting Kurt to see him as something other than a friend.
"Just pull up to the valet," Ben instructed Kurt from the passenger seat, giving those flirty little smiles and touches that Puck recognized so well. Yeah, okay. Puck was not losing this contest either. The thought of Ben getting Kurt at all, not just first, made Puck want to grind his teeth in frustration. And who the fuck didn't respect a call of dibs, anyway?
Then, for the cameras and the show, Ben left off paying attention to Kurt and met Puck as he got out of the car, throwing his arm around Puck's waist. "You have the most interesting friends, babe," Ben whispered in Puck's ear. "Do you see what he's wearing?"
"Yeah, dude," Puck smirked, putting one arm around Ben's shoulder and waving when someone called his name. "I saw. Don't for one fucking second think that was for you or some shit, because it's not."
"Kurt told you this?" Ben asked, nuzzling Puck's ear as the approached the bouncer and got all four of them waved through the rope.
"Yeah," Puck lied. "Dude said it was all for me."
As the doors to the club opened for them and Puck walked, arm-in-arm with Ben, into the entrance way, the dark beat of the music thudded through his chest. Ben leaned in and said loud enough that Puck could hear him but Kurt couldn't, standing right behind them with Finn, "We'll see about that." He flashed Puck a grin at the challenge and kissed him hard. Damn it. It wasn't like Puck normally would have minded, but Kurt was like, right the fuck there.
Before he knew what was going on, Ben had released Puck and turned to ask Kurt for a dance. Knowing he just had to let Ben do his thing and trust that Kurt wouldn't fall for it, Puck didn't protest. At this point, the possibility that Ben would be successful wasn't big enough to lose at least two of his three total friends over. When Finn didn't protest either, because he was staring at some chick who was dancing on the bar, Kurt shrugged and accepted the invitation.
"Dude?" Finn asked when he pulled his eyes back into their sockets. "Where did Kurt and Ben go?"
Wordlessly, Puck pointed out to the dance floor and then stalked toward the bar to get a fucking drink.
After dancing with Ben for just one song, Kurt knew he was in trouble. Ben had this way of saying just the right things and getting his touches to send goosebumps up and down Kurt's arms. "Is your vest designer?" he asked as he handed Kurt a drink, their fingers brushing, which Kurt pretended to sip. He did not want to be impaired around this boy who reminded him way too much of all of Nick's best qualities. "Because that cut makes you look absolutely divine."
"Thanks," Kurt nodded, trying to hold onto that uneasy feeling he'd had when he first met Ben and failing fantastically. "Yes, it is. Oliver Graham."
"I thought so," Ben replied, grinning as he downed a shot of tequila and took Kurt's hand. "C'mon, I love this one!"
After the second song, when Ben pressed a short kiss to Kurt's lips before heading off to get another drink, Kurt knew he had to do something drastic. And not because he was uncomfortable. The way Ben danced with him and touched him and the way his kiss lingered far too long after it ended had Kurt entirely comfortable. He'd promised Rachel and Finn that nothing would happen, and for some very good reasons that he had to try and remember. Needing to ground himself, Kurt went looking for Finn, but found Puck first.
He was next to the bar, drink in hand, and smiling at and talking to a girl, but she moved away while Kurt was trying to decide whether or not to interrupt. That decided that. Quickly taking the girl's spot, Kurt told Puck, "I am very close to making a slew of unwise decisions. You have to help me."
"You sure about that?" Puck asked, leaning in so Kurt could hear him. God, he smelled good.
"You said you wanted to be my friend, right, Puck?" Kurt asked. "Well, this is a friendship defining moment."
Puck rolled his eyes, but asked, "What's the problem?"
Kurt held up his index finger and thumb less than an inch apart. "I'm this close to making out with Ben. I know it's a bad idea, especially now that I've spent some time with him but..." Kurt gave a frustrated huff. "I don't know how to get him to back off without actually talking to him."
"So?" Puck asked, confusion in his screwed up eyebrows. "Talk to the dude."
"I'm fairly certain," Kurt sighed, scanning the crowd, "that if I end up within ten feet of the guy, I'm going to jump him. Maybe I should just leave..."
"Here he comes," Puck nodded over Kurt's shoulder, so he looked over, spying Ben's curly mop approaching. Crap. What was Kurt going to do? "I got a solution, Hummel," Puck said close to Kurt's ear. "I'm doing this as your friend, so just go with it."
"Go with what?" Kurt asked as he turned around, only to find Puck's arms around him and his lips attached to Kurt's like both their lives depended on it. Then there was tongue involved and as long as Puck's lips kept doing what they were doing, Kurt forgot to breathe. Oxygen was nothing compared to the feel and, oh god, the taste!
Wait...as friends. Puck was doing this to be a friend, to get Ben to look elsewhere for company. Before long it would be over and Kurt and Puck would go back to not kissing, an event that Kurt was sure would be life-threatening. Even though Puck's body was warm and solid next to Kurt's and even though every kiss and little brush of Puck's hand on his jaw and neck went straight to Kurt's groin, it was an illusion. Not real. Couldn't be.
Puck was just being a god damn friend.
Never let it be said that Noah Puckerman ever passed up a good opportunity when he saw it. And letting his roommate unknowingly push Kurt right into his arms was the best opportunity he'd found in a long time. As soon as Puck's lips brushed his, Kurt turned from this shy, mostly polite person into a fighter. But Kurt didn't push Puck away - Kurt pulled him closer and latched onto him, at least at first.
If Puck wasn't such a badass, he would have whimpered as Kurt started and pulled away. Despite the kiss being a seized opportunity, it was also the most real-feeling kiss Puck had experienced in a long time. Most of his kisses these days were staged, and those that weren't were either from people who just wanted him for the night, or from Ben, who couldn't really mean it the way Puck wanted a kiss to mean something more.
Kurt kissed with everything he had, and then some, but then he broke the kiss, as if they were doing something wrong. Breathing harshly and looking down, Kurt asked, "Did he notice?"
Looking over Kurt's shoulder, Puck couldn't see Ben at all. "He must've," Puck replied, almost sighing with relief. Now that he'd marked his territory, Puck was sure that Ben would give up. Hell, he was probably already picking up someone else as a consolation prize. Wanting to get Kurt someplace quieter and definitely away from any comeback Hail Mary moves that Ben might still have up his sleeve, Puck asked, "Wanna find Finn and ditch?"
"Won't Ben get mad?" Kurt asked. "We can't just leave him here."
Rolling his eyes, Puck replied, "He knows how to find his way home, Kurt. He'll be fine. We split up at clubs like this almost every time."
With a small smile, Puck took Kurt's hand, hoping he would recognize the gesture as more than friendly. "Let's find Frankenteen and blow this joint."
Kurt nodded, almost sadly, so Puck leaned over and said, "If you really want to get Ben to leave you alone, you should stay over tonight. Let him think we fucked."
Puck would have had to be blind not to notice the way Kurt shivered and clenched his hand more tightly. He almost leaned over and asked Kurt if he wanted to make the show they were putting on a reality, but he didn't. On the one hand, Puck couldn't remember much of anything he wanted as fiercely as he wanted Kurt in his bed; but on the other, sex always messed things up. How many times had Puck's mother blamed his lack of friends on his supposed inability to keep it in his pants?
And she was right, like always.
Tugging on his hand, Kurt pointed to a corner of the club, where Finn was surrounded by a gaggle of gays and looking so uncomfortable, Puck couldn't help but laugh. Kurt smiled as well, his eyes twinkling back at Puck as he led the way toward Finn.
It hurt when Kurt pulled his hand away, but Puck didn't try to hold on too hard. He knew better than that. Kurt made his way through the crowd, chuckling and pushing until he was standing in front of Finn. "Alright, everyone," Kurt said, using his stage projection voice that Puck remembered from glee, "back away from the straight boy! He has a girlfriend!"
Finn tapped Kurt on the shoulder and complained into his ear, probably about how Rachel wasn't technically his girlfriend, which made Puck laugh again.
The crowd around them dispersed, though Kurt got not a few dirty looks, and Puck pushed his way forward. "Ready to get out of here, dude?"
"Yeah," Finn nodded gratefully. "I swear, all I did was get that one guy's scarf down from the light fixture!"
"Ah, the knight in shining armor," Kurt nodded, smiling at Puck again to bring him into the joke. "No wonder they all started fawning over you, Finn."
"You've got to teach me how to get out of that by myself," Finn said, pointing back toward the place where he'd been trapped, "I was supposed to be looking out for you, Kurt, and how was I supposed to do that with all those guys all over me? C'mon there's got to be a magic word or something."
Puck clapped Finn on the shoulder to distract him from Kurt's pissed off glare and laughed, "Yeah, there's a magic word. It's 'fuck off'. That one works like a charm."
"But it's so mean," Finn insisted, and Puck watched as Kurt sighed and then schooled his face back into a neutral expression. Usually Puck was pretty good at reading people, especially his friends, but this was one instance where he had no idea what Kurt was thinking. Had he liked their impromptu make-out session? Was it going to happen again? Or was he mad at Puck for pushing it in the first place?
Or was he just mad at Finn and his ignorance about gay guys, as usual?
When Kurt dropped Puck and Finn back at the former's apartment, Puck asked once Finn was out of earshot, "You sure you don't want to stay over?"
"And make Ben think we slept together?" Kurt sighed, wondering what the hell he had gotten himself into and how many "I told you so" cookies he would have to eat before he felt better about this. Puck wanted a friend, he needed a friend, and all Kurt wanted to do was take him up on the offer to sleep over and maneuver his way into Puck's pants from there. "Tell him whatever you want, Puck. I'm gonna go sleep in my own bed."
"Okay," Puck nodded, waving at Finn who was dancing around on the stoop of the apartment building and gesturing for him to hurry up. "Yeah, that makes sense. I'll see you tomorrow for the big show?"
"Sure," Kurt nodded, trying not to show how desperately it hurt to let Puck get out of his car and leave.
Shit, Kurt was in trouble. He wanted Puck to be his friend, because he liked this more grown-up version of the boy much better than he had in high school, but how long before he slipped up and tried something on the guy? Why couldn't Puck be just as straight as he had supposedly been in high school? That would make it so much easier for Kurt to be his friend and only his friend. Damn it.
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