-and now... the conclusion:
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way," he paused and took a breath, blinking his eyes quickly to avoid any tears.
"Kurt, are you okay?"
Kurt smiled down at the blonde haired girl, her concerned eyes peering at him over the copy of A Tale of Two Cities. "I'm fine Stacy – just haven't read this for a long time."
What he wanted to tell her was that memories were a bitch and cropped up at all the wrong times – painful memories that stabbed like a knife and reminded him of times that he'd wished the Earth would open up and swallow him into oblivion. But Stacy was just a kid and would learn as Kurt had that you had to take the good with the bad; in fact you needed them to know the difference.
Minding Sam's siblings had become almost a fortnightly event, one which he wasn't sure who looked forward to it more, him or them. "You know Stace," he said, closing the book. "I don't feel like reading today, how about a movie?"
She clapped her hands and went to pick a DVD and came up clutching one as if it were the ring of power.
He glanced at the cover. "Perfect," he sighed, wondering how she had known to pick that exact movie. As the opening intro of Aladdin played he let her climb into his lap and hugging her close he lost himself in his own memories as Stacy was lost to the wonder of Disney.
'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times'
The trip to the store was no trouble, although the roads were a little wet but as he glanced up there was no rain coming down any more. The weather app had said a cold front was moving in but Kurt figured he had time before it hit. Unfortunately a twenty minute wait at the shop, caused by an employee who thought her smoke break was more important than customer service, meant the cold front hit first. His clue was a gust of freezing air that almost tore the package out of his grip – he'd put too much time in to lose the pie however and almost dislocated a shoulder keeping the box upright. Once the box was secured on the back Kurt started the bike and carefully took off.
The shop assistant should have pissed him off and the weather would normally have him miserable but Kurt could not help but feel great. Life was good if having a boyfriend, a healthy Dad and sort-of full family was anything to go by. His marks were good, not top of the class like he would be at McKinley, but a B at Dalton was held in better stead than an A+ at McKinley. Sure he missed being in New Directions and seeing his friends everyday but he had to see the school year out before at least considering a return.
Half way home another gust made him run over the gutter and Kurt's father appeared in a bubble, saying to get off the pocket rocket and walk!
He figured his Dad would never say pocket rocket but Kurt was nothing if not a dutiful son.
The wind really picked up and he had to zip his collar up and left the helmet on with the visor lifted since he had no hat with him. It was a poorly lit part of Lima but Kurt knew the roads and the sparsely spaced streetlamps kept him on the footpath.
It was almost half-an-hour later that he smelt something on the air, a smell he recognised from years working in his father's shop – burnt rubber and smoking oil. He trotted along with the bike, a sickening feeling building in his guts.
His worst fears were confirmed when he saw a dark vehicle up against a tree, headlights flickering as the power went on and off; thankfully there was no fire but he would know that truck anywhere.
"Finn!" he yelled, almost dropping the bike as he rushed to the driver's door. The front was up against the tree, buckled in but not enough to intrude upon the cabin – thankfully. "Finn!" he yelled again, wrenching the door open and touching his step-brother on the shoulder. Finn flinched awake but looked very confused; he squinted at Kurt for a few seconds.
"Where's Puck?" they spoke at the same time. Kurt knew he had to look since the passenger seat was empty but he gave Finn a quick check first. The interior light was on and flickering so it was hard to see but there was no obvious blood and he was conscious. Somehow Kurt managed to form coherent thoughts and prioritized what he had to do.
Thrusting his phone into Finn's hand he told him to call an ambulance, mentally cursing himself for not calling them earlier, then they would not have been out looking for him. At least that's what he figured they were doing. Finn nodded and pressed numbers, bringing the phone up. Kurt waited no longer and left Finn to it.
"Puck!" he called this time, looking over the bonnet but the area was too dark and nothing showed in the flickering headlights.
"Puck! Noah!" he almost screamed as he ran around the tree and spotted an arm flung out from the very corner of the truck.
An arm with a hand that he could see was covered in blood in every flash of light.
Stacy giggled in his lap and Kurt noticed that it was the market scene, where Aladdin was being chased by the guards. He smiled too and fondly remembered Puck's rendition in the school cafeteria. Even though it had been brought on by the tumor Puck had done a very good job and the story had soon become a legend to be told to any new students. Of course Puck had become a legend to be talked about on his own with the success of the Rainbow Slushie movement, now global with sister sites in Europe and South America. The fact that Puck was a former bully who had made good and become a champion for the 'losers' only enhanced the very newsworthy and bittersweet story of one Noah Puckerman.
"You look sad," said Stacy, staring at him instead of the movie.
"No I'm not," answered Kurt. "See, I'm smiling."
She shook her head. "Uh uh, that's a Sammy unsmile."
She pointed at Kurt's face. "Sam used to look like that a lot, when we moved to the motel – he'd say everything was okay and that we'd have lots of fun sharing one room together." She pouted as only small girls and Rachel Berry could do. "But we knew he didn't mean it… he was really sad but wouldn't let us know."
Thankfully the Evans hadn't been homeless for too long. Sam's Dad had found another job, long hours and not as good money but it made enough for renting a house and Burt had given his Mom a part-time job taking care of the workshop's accounts. She had also got some shift work at the hospital which meant they needed a babysitter sometimes, because Sam had a social life now he had Blaine. Kurt probably would have helped out anyway but the Evans's young kids were such a delight he actually enjoyed hanging out with them.
"And you called it the Sammy unsmile," Kurt shook his head at child logic. "Well Stace, I am not unhappy… just melancholy."
She gave him a stink eye. "I don't know what that means." She sounded just like Sam sometimes.
"It means I'm a little gloomy," he pouted himself and she giggled again. "A little down but not upset – get it?"
"Not really," she said slowly. "But Sam always sings when he gets unsmiley." She looked at Kurt expectantly. He pretended to be confused until she nudged him.
"Fine," he said in diva mode. "What is the lady's request?"
She looked back at the TV screen and grinned, making Kurt gulp.
Stacy grabbed the remote and flicked through the chapters, finding the one she wanted.
"Ready?" she almost shouted. "You do the boy part."
He frowned, knowing he'd promised himself never to sing this, but she was so excited his refusal crumbled as the first bars started up.
"I can show you the world
Shining, shimmering, splendid
Tell me, princess, now when did
you last let your heart decide."
As he sang Kurt felt the memories flood back in again.
"Noah!" he felt like the entire world slowed down as he ran and knelt next to his boyfriend. "Noah," he said more softly and put a hand to Puck's face, his eyes were closed but Kurt felt breath coming from his lips. He gave a short sigh in relief and checked Puck for injuries. The bloodied hand was a result of a deep laceration on his wrist which Kurt did not hesitate to clamp a hand over. It was hard to see much else given the bad light; it was like trying to read in a lightning storm. The next flash made Kurt gasp as it revealed a dark stain spreading across Puck's abdomen.
["I can open your eyes
Take you wonder by wonder"]
"No," he whispered. "No no no." He pulled up Puck's shirt and winced at the ugly wound. All he could see was torn skin and black inside. "Finn!" he yelled. "Get over here now!"
"Take off your jacket," Kurt ordered and bunched it up then pressed it to the wound. Puck groaned as he put pressure on and hoped that was a good sign – at least he was partially conscious.
"Oh God," Finn muttered, putting his hand over Kurt's to help. "This is all my fault."
"Accidents happen," muttered Kurt, not wanting to deal with a Finn guilt spiral right now. "Noah, can you hear me?" he spoke with what he hoped was a strong tone but in his head he was screaming and crying. This could not be happening.
"Hey princess," Puck's voice rasped out and a finger touched Kurt's cheek. "You're okay," Puck continued and sighed happily, his eyes glinting in the low light as he tried to focus on Kurt.
"I'm just great," snarked Kurt. "What the hell were you doing?"
His boyfriend smiled, Kurt couldn't see clearly but it looked like there was blood on his teeth. "Saving you."
"Dude stop talking, save your energy," said Finn, grimacing as he kept pressing on the jacket.
"Oh Finessa," said Puck, his smile almost becoming a laugh. "Don't you get it – she was showing me my death, not Kurt's."
"Stop it," hissed Kurt. "No-one's dying today."
Puck grabbed his hand and turned serious. "I was sent back to save you… job done."
Kurt wanted to cry as he felt icy cold drops on his back – it was starting to rain again and wasn't that just perfect?
"No-one sent you back Noah – you survived because you had good doctors."
Shaking his head groggily Puck talked as his breath got shorter. "No, she sent me back… for you, the hand in blood, I thought… but it was me not you."
["Over, sideways, and under
On a magic carpet ride"]
This was ridiculous thought Kurt. Puck would wear himself out with this nonsense but how could he shut him up? There was blood but he couldn't tell how much but probably too much. To be safe they had to keep Puck calm and still, not something he was currently as he wanted to keep talking.
How could you ever shut Puck up?
Sex was out.
Kurt shook his head internally at the inappropriate thought – he really had been around Noah Puckerman long enough to think like him.
That's it! He just had to think like him.
"Noah," he soothed. "I am safe, you did it."
"You're-safe?" Puck was sounding more confused.
"But you're not," Kurt put his cheek against Puck's. "I need you with me Noah, if you go I won't be safe anymore."
"Finn-said-time's-up," Puck said breathlessly.
"No," whispered Kurt and kissed Puck on the lips. "Our time is just beginning, maybe you weren't just sent back to save me," he locked eyes with his boyfriend. "You were sent back so we could save each other."
Tears leaked from Puck's eyes and Kurt kissed him again. "You don't want to leave me do you?"
Puck shook his head, lips trembling.
["A whole new world
A new fantastic point of view"]
"Then calm down," Kurt put his free hand over Puck's heart. "The ambulance will be here soon and I need you to hold on until then."
He put his head back into Puck's neck. "Please don't leave me."
["No one to tell us no
Or where to go
Or say we're only dreaming"]
Stacy's eyes were closed so Kurt let the song play without singing the next part; Stacy would have made him sing the female part too but she'd never know.
A sudden hot breath against his ear let Kurt know they weren't alone and a very male voice sang the Princess' part.
"A whole new world
A dazzling place I never knew."
Kurt smiled and reached up and behind, not needing to see him to be able to wrap an arm around Puck's head.
Puck gently put Stevie down next to his sister and brought an arm around Kurt's chest.
"But when I'm way up here
It's crystal clear
That now i'm in a whole new world
He took Kurt's hand and brought him around so they were facing each other, Kurt leaning on the back of the couch and Puck kneeling down so they were face to face. Puck was wriggling those adorable bloody eyebrows so Kurt had no choice but to continue the duet.
"Now I'm in a whole new world with you."
Although Kurt swore singing Disney with his boyfriend would have been height of ridiculousness – it was kind of hot and definitely sexy for Puck to be singing the girl part.
Soaring, tumbling, freewheeling
Through an endless diamond sky"
"A whole new world"
Puck pecked his lips and gave him that smile that said things would be getting on later.
Kurt playfully put his hand over Puck's face.
"Don't you dare close your eyes"
"A hundred thousand things to see"
"Hold your breath- it gets better"
Puck laughed softly at Kurt's own eyebrow wriggle as he sang 'it gets better'.
"I'm like a shooting star, I've come so far I can't go back to where I used to be"
"A whole new world"
"Every turn a surprise"
"With new horizons to pursue"
"Every moment gets better"
(together:) "I'll chase them anywhere, there's time to spare, let me share this whole new world with you"
"A whole new world"
"A whole new world"
"That's where we'll be"
"That's where we'll be"
"A thrilling chase"
"A wonderous place"
"For you and me"
Puck stood and pulled Kurt up over the couch to join him. Wrapped in his boyfriend's arms Kurt wanted to giggle like a six year old, then glanced at the sleeping children and thought better of it.
"You're not meant to be lifting anything heavy," he whispered.
Puck chuckled and flexed a bicep. "Nothing the Puckosaur can't handle."
"Neanderthal," Kurt muttered with tenderness.
Shrugging Puck smiled and looked at the children. "I wore him out with Super Mario Cart, works every time."
"Disney worked for the young lady, obviously," countered Kurt.
"Works for me too."
"Great Gucci, could you be any more naff… and don't pretend you don't know what that means."
Puck hung his head but his grin remained. "I know if I quote poetry you'll forgive me anything."
"Almost anything," argued Kurt and traced a finger over Puck's surgical head scar and then lightly over his abdomen that was still healing. "No more wounds okay."
"I promise," said Puck easily. "because 'I love thee to the depth and breadth and height; My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight; For the ends of Being and ideal Grace'."
"Now you're just being cocky," Kurt replied but knew he was blushing. "I think I really like this Noah who no longer knows what fate has in store for him."
Puck pulled him closer, if that was at all possible and brought their noses almost touching. "I know what my future is," he said huskily.
Looking into those deep brown eyes, so full of love, Kurt felt as if a weight was finally lifting and put his lips to Pucks.
It was just as well the children were sleeping.
Can I just say… Phew! and then a disappointed sigh – because its over and this has been so much fun. I am sorry to those whom I worried but it was never my intention to have Puck pass on – well not permanently. Of course putting him through the wringer – well a hurt Puck is just so huggable (and damn you Shue for getting that absolutely awesome hug from Puck in the finale). To everyone who has made it thus far, thank you for the feedback, thank you for the praise and much thanks for just indulging my imagination.