Late Night Snack
Kurt tossed restlessly in his sleep, his dreams flitting from that afternoon's performance at Sectionals to the glee club's faces when he'd announced he was leaving. He missed his friends from WHMS, and those looks of… hurt and betrayal still haunted him during the day (as well as at night). Of course, he knew he was better off, safer at Dalton, but Kurt still didn't feel totally comfortable there.
Or at home.
When Kurt had first invaded Dalton in an act of poorly disguised subterfuge, he'd been blown away by the sense of community there. Everyone had seemed so cool and comfortable with one another, like they were all friends. But now that he was a student there, he realized that he'd been wrong. He'd only seen what he wanted to see, what he didn't have. And now, Kurt was learning that Dalton had its own cliques, just like McKinley. Worse yet was that the school (Blaine included) seemed to expect him to blend in, to fade into the mass of navy blue blazers.
In many ways, he felt like just as much of an outsider as he did at WMHS. He knew that that would fade in time, but for now, he still felt like the odd kid out.
As Kurt continued to toss, his dreams shuffled as randomly as an iPod. But as Mercedes' face flashed before him for a third time that night, this time with a buzzing sound, Kurt found himself suddenly and completely awake.
Finally free of his dreams, Kurt stared up at the ceiling of his dorm. In the dark, it looked haunted and full of shadows. Granted, Kurt knew that it was just the moon casting its light over the objects in his room. But it left him feeling unsettled and alone nonetheless.
He thought about turning onto his side to escape the sinister puppet show on his ceiling. But before he had a chance, he heard the same buzzing that he'd just heard in his dream. This time, however, he recognized the sound as his cell phone alerting him to a text.
Sighing to himself, Kurt sat up and pulled his phone off the bedside table. When he looked at the tiny fluorescent screen, he was surprised to find that, not only did he have two texts, but that they were both from Puck.
The sight of Puck's name on his phone boggled Kurt. Because not only was it two thirty-seven in the morning, but for the life of him, he couldn't remember putting Puck's number into his address book. But even though Kurt couldn't quite believe what he was seeing, he couldn't help but smile at seeing a familiar name on his phone.
Still smiling, he opened the first message.
If he'd though seeing Puck's name on his phone was odd, it was nothing compared to what he saw on the screen. It read: "Dude, meet me in the cafeteria kitchen." The next one was just as strange. "Are you coming? This won't be any good cold." That was it, nothing more. Not even an explanation of what this was.
For a second, Kurt thought about texting Puck back and telling him that he wasn't interested. But as he placed his thumb on the buttons, Kurt felt his stomach clench painfully. At first, he'd told himself that he had a stomach ache, that he'd eaten too much frozen yogurt at dinner, but he knew better. He was desperate for the company of a familiar face, of someone from WMHS. And Puck was definitely both of those.
Even if they weren't friends and had been, at one time, just shy of enemies.
Bending his thumb, Kurt moved to the C and quickly typed in, "Coming." After hitting send, he got out of bed and grabbed his housecoat (black with a sleek silver trim). Once he'd slipped his arms into it, Kurt slid on his slippers and moved towards the door.
Trying to be as stealthy as possible, Kurt crept through the halls of Dalton Academy. Terrified of being seen, Kurt tried to stay in the shadows, slunk along as close to the walls as he possibly could. Every once in a while, he would hear a noise that would freeze him in his spot, but otherwise, the journey was uneventful, save for the couple of time he'd bumped his knees on chairs and oversized plant stands. (He was positive that his kneecaps would be black and blue in the morning.)
When Kurt padded into the school's cafeteria fifteen minutes later, he was more shocked than when he'd read Puck's texts. Because standing in front of one of the large stainless steel stoves, a large frying pan in his hand, was Puck. He had a loaf of bread, a large pack of cheese, and a tub of butter on the counter next to him. And it was obvious that he was trying to make sure that the flame on the burner was just right.
"Puck?" Kurt's voice was low, hesitant as he took a few more steps into the large room. Every inch of it was covered in long, silvery appliances or countertops, and it gave Kurt the impression of walking down a large, metal cave.
"Dude, finally." Puck placed the pan over the burner and pulled a slice of bread out of the bag. "What took you so long?" Dipping a knife into the butter, Puck covered one side of the bread with a thick layer of the yellow cream before placing it in the pan.
Kurt's first instinct was to tell Puck off for calling him 'dude.' His second was to sarcastically explain about his journey down the darkened hallways of Dalton. But instead of going with either of those, Kurt opted for instinct number three. "Puck, why are you here? In the middle of the night. Westerville is a ninety minute drive from Lima." He thought about adding on something along the lines of, 'And how did you get in here?' but thought better of it. He didn't want to know.
"I'm…." Puck pulled two slices of cheese out of the package and placed them on top of the bread in the pan. "Cooking." The words were said with an air that clearly implied an unspoken "obviously." Flashing Kurt a cheeky grin, Puck pulled another slice of bread out of the bag and began to butter it. As he slathered it on, Kurt watched in shock, wondering just how much butter was required for whatever Puck was making.
"I can see that." Kurt walked a little further into the room, watching Puck as he continued to spread copious amounts of butter onto the bread. "But why?"
The smile that had just been on Puck's face slipped as he placed the bread, buttered side up, on top of the cheese. "Because." He grabbed a spatula and pressed down on the cooking sandwich. "I saw you today. And you looked… miserable."
"I did not." He knew he had, but the desire to deny it was automatic, making the lie sound weak even to his own ears.
That afternoon, he'd been upset. And seeing all of his friends from WMHS had only served to make him feel worse, lonelier. But watching them perform had been the worst. It wasn't their performance was so spectacular that he was driven to jealousy or anything like that. No, he'd had a hard time watching them because he wanted to be up there with them. It had been so difficult to just sit back while the danced and sang.
"Yeah, you did." Puck slid the spatula under the sandwich and flipped it over. "Trust me. I was watching you."
Kurt wasn't sure if Puck had truly meant what he'd said or if he was using some kind of Puck-code, but either way… it seemed that tonight, Puck was full of surprises. "You were?"
"Well… Yeah." For just a second, Puck's gaze flickered up to Kurt before returning to the frying pan. "You're the competition now. Gotta keep an eye on you. And…." He pressed the spatula into the bread again.
"And?" For some reason, Kurt felt his heart begin to beat painfully in his chest. He didn't know why, but he was desperate to find out what followed that "and."
"And… this is ready. Hand me that plate?" Puck gestured to a large white plate that Kurt hadn't noticed before.
Kurt grabbed the dish and handed it to Puck, trying to hide the disappointment he knew was written all over his face. The emotion, so odd considering that this was Puck, made Kurt feel suddenly guilty. As stupid as it sounded, caring about something Puck had to say almost made Kurt feel like he was cheating on Blaine (even though they weren't together). Because… he loved Blaine. He wanted to spend time with him, hold hands with him, kiss him…
But as Kurt stood there with Puck, those desires, those feelings… they didn't seem as strong as before.
"Almost done…." Puck's voice cut through Kurt's thoughts.
He had the grilled cheese sandwich on the plate and was spreading even more butter over the bread. "There we go." He cut the sandwich in half and slid it over to Kurt, a pleased look on his face.
Feeling both confused and amused, Kurt looked down at the plate. The grilled cheese was practically flat, the bread reduced to a thin layer that was cracked and showed the melted cheese underneath. And the butter that Puck had spread over the top was melting quickly.
Still thinking about Puck and Blaine, Kurt wanted to say something, but he didn't know what. So he settled for the only thing that came to mind. "Wow, did you leave any butter for morning?"
"Dude, don't judge me." Puck pointed the knife at Kurt, nonthreateningly. "That's how my nanny makes them." He threw the knife in the sink with a clatter.
Kurt didn't know why, but he felt the sudden desire to be as difficult as possible.
"Eat." Puck quickly cut him off, leaving no room for argument. He'd placed his hands down on the counter top and was staring at Kurt with one of his most menacing glares. Tonight, however, it merely looked comical.
Kurt wanted to laugh, but he didn't. Instead, he did as he was told and picked up half of the grilled cheese. Under his fingertips, the bread felt even thinner than it looked. And Kurt couldn't help but wonder if this really counted as a grilled cheese, because it certainly didn't look like one.
Thinking about butter and calories, Kurt opened his mouth and bit down on the sandwich. It was only a small bite, a corner, but it was enough. The bread, flattened by the spatula and covered in butter was crispy, and the melted cheese seemed to flow out of it. And it was, surprisingly enough, delicious. So delicious that he didn't even bother to finish chewing before saying, "Wow."
"Good, right?" Puck smiled, obviously pleased with himself. "It's better if you use cheddar instead of American. But all I could find in the fridge was American and Swiss."
Kurt swallowed and looked up at Puck. "No, it's great."
"It's the butter." Puck shrugged as if to say, "I told you so."
Chuckling softly, Kurt took another bite of the sandwich. As he chewed, Puck eyed him thoughtfully. It was a little unnerving, but Kurt found that he didn't really mind.
After a few minutes of comfortable silence, Puck spoke out of the blue.
"You ok here? At this place, I mean." Puck leaned on the counter next to Kurt and continued to watch him eat.
Still chewing, Kurt thought about Puck's question.
He missed his friends and seeing his dad and Carol. He missed his basement and the freedom of not having to wear a uniform. But he wasn't being threatened or shoved into lockers on a daily basis. And that was definitely an improvement.
Then there was Blaine, who he'd already become close with. Granted, they were just friends. But Kurt had fallen head over heels for him a matter of weeks. He loved being able to see him on a daily basis, to eat lunch with him. Most of all though, Kurt loved that he didn't have to hide who he was from Blaine.
"Yeah, I'm good." Even as he said the words, Kurt knew that they weren't completely true. As he swallowed, Kurt prayed that Puck couldn't tell.
If Puck had picked up on his discomfort, Kurt couldn't tell. His face was the same as before, and he seemed more interested in watching Kurt eat than anything else. "Cool."
Kurt looked down at the partially eaten sandwich in his hands. It was cooling down, but it was still gooey. "Yeah." The word came out as a soft whisper, and Kurt quickly took another bite to try and cover it up.
After swallowing, Kurt asked, "How is everyone?" He knew he'd seen the members of New Directions that afternoon and that they'd performed really well. But that wasn't the same as really knowing how they were. Or of knowing about what kind of drama Rachel was causing now, or if Sam had admitted that his hair color came from a bottle.
"Mercedes is good. She misses you though." Puck dropped his eyes to the plate where the rest of the grilled cheese sat.
"That's not what I -" Kurt stared at Puck, his snack temporarily forgotten.
Even as he denied it, Kurt knew he was lying. Of all his friends, he missed Mercedes the most. He knew that things had been strained between them since his dad's heart attack, but he still loved her. And now that she wasn't around, Kurt realized just how bad a friend he'd been to her as of late.
"Yeah, it is." Puck smiled at him knowingly. "But really, man, we all miss you. It's not the same without you around."
Unsure of what to say, Kurt looked down at the sandwich he was holding. Puck had said that they all missed him. Yet, Puck was the only one who had driven ninety miles to see him. Not Finn, who had, so recently, made a big deal about them being brothers. And not Mercedes, who was his best friend. No, it was Puck. Which, for some reason, made Kurt's heart clench painfully. "You too?" The words were out before Kurt even knew he was thinking them.
"Well…." Puck's voice was hesitant, and Kurt dipped his head to take another bite of the grilled cheese. "Yeah. You're my boy." He nodded an air of bravado and finality that hadn't been in his voice a moment before.
But even though Puck seemed to think that should have been obvious, Kurt did not. "Since when?" Kurt sounded shocked, of that he was certain, but he didn't care. Never once in all the time he'd known Puck had Puck referred to him as his boy.
"Since…." Puck's expression faltered little. "Since, umh…." Kurt watched in amusement as Puck floundered around for an explanation. "Well, uh… I…"
He pushed himself away from the counter and stood up straight. "I should probably go. Gotta drive all the way back to Lima, you know?"
The proclamation, so abrupt, so out of the blue, caused Kurt to choke on the bite he'd just taken. "Wait, what? Already?" Kurt knew that he sounded needy and that he was borderline pleading, but that didn't matter. He wasn't ready for Puck to leave; he wasn't ready to be alone with the shadows.
At Kurt's question, Puck's eyebrows rose in shock. "You want me to stay, Hummel?" Kurt knew Puck was trying to play it cool, but there was still a note of hope in his voice.
"Yeah. I mean, yes." Kurt quickly tried to think up an explanation for why he didn't want Puck to leave.
An explanation other than the truth that was.
"I don't want to eat alone." His eyes flickered down to the other half a sandwich still on the plate before looking back up at Puck.
"You…" Puck paused awkwardly as if he didn't know how to proceed. "You sure?"
Kurt nodded, trying to smile a little. And as he looked up as Puck, Kurt felt a blush tingeing the tips of his ears with red. He didn't know why, but he was desperate to keep Puck there with him. Kurt tried to tell himself that it was because he missed home and New Directions so much that he was even willing to put up with Puck. But, deep down, he knew that that wasn't totally true.
When Puck nodded and picked up the other half of the grilled cheese, Kurt smiled in earnest. And as Puck bit into his half of the sandwich, Kurt did the same, enjoying the company.
The next morning, when Kurt woke up in his dorm, feeling safer and happier than he had since arriving at Dalton, he thought about Puck. All they'd done was share a (very buttery) grilled cheese, but it had felt like so much more. Before rolling out of bed Kurt decided that instead of over thinking things, he was going to blame his sense of contentment on the butter.
Squeeka Cuomo's Notes
- This fic was written for lieueitak who wanted to see Puck cooking. I hope you like it. :)
- This is how my grandma makes a grilled cheese. And let me tell you… They are the BEST. :D
- Quack: Thanks so much for being always being an awesome beta.
- Reviews are love.