Title: Hot Chocolate Is The Key To Happiness
Summary: The Glee club arranges a Secret Santa. Puck and Kurt bond over gifts, snow and hot chocolate.
Rating: R for language
Warning(s): Discussions of bullying and homophobia.
Word Count: ~9,300
Author's Notes: This story is set somewhere after Grilled Cheesus, and was planned before Duets aired. So while it's the same Christmas, timewise, that we see on the show, Burt and Carole are not yet engaged, Karofsky doesn't do anything worse than slushie, Puck hasn't been to juvie, and Finn is still a bit uncomfortable around Kurt. No-one has been to Dalton or even knows that it exists. Basically it's AU after Grilled Cheesus.

This fic was written for the LJ Puckurt Comm Chrismukkah fest, for the very lovely Tamzinrose.

Any lines in italics are thoughts.


"Puck."

Puck looked apprehensively at the graceful teen, who was holding the piece of paper in his hand as though he had just pulled it out of the toilet. Kurt had just drawn the name of the person for whom he would be buying a Not-So-Secret Glee Club Secret Santa gift.

After an extremely faked smile, for the benefit of the group, Puck turned and muttered to Finn, who was sitting next to him, "That's just great; my present's being bought by the guy I used to throw in dumpsters every day. Do you think he might actually get me dog crap?"

Finn pondered for a moment, then answered seriously, "I don't think he'd be willing to touch it."

"He might use a shovel or something," was Puck's response.

Unfortunately for him, what he had thought was a barely audible whisper carried far enough to reach Kurt's ears. The pale teen swivelled in his seat to face the two jocks and spoke clearly.

"Excuse me, Puckerman, but I am not that vindictive. I fully plan on entering into this 'game' with every good will. It's Christmas, after all."

"But Kurt, you aren't a Christian," Rachel chipped in, still resentful of the fact that he had not joined her stance that having a Glee Club Secret Santa was exclusive of, and prejudiced against, all those of non-Christian beliefs.

"I still want to celebrate a day that encourages people to treat each other like civilised human beings. A day of goodwill, and cheer, and gift giving, and all that jazz. Saying you have to Christian to celebrate it is like saying you have to be pagan to celebrate Hallowe'en."

During this exchange, the rest of the club had drawn their giftees. Finn got up to draw his, not realising that with only one name left, there was only one person it could be.

"Kurt." Finn's tone was much the same as when he had drawn Kurt's name for the ballad assignment.

Puck looked at the expression on Kurt's face. It was a mix between shock (Kurt had clearly not been paying attention to who had drawn who either) and something else. Fear? No, not that strong. But he definitely looked nervous.

A week later, and Kurt had still turned up nothing in his search for Christmas gift for Puck. If he was completely honest, he had briefly considered the idea of exacting some sort of revenge on the jock for all of the bullying he had received at his hands, but in the end, the spirit of Christmas had won through.

However, having decided to try and find a good Secret Santa gift, one that would actually be appreciated, he then found absolutely nothing that would suit the elder teen. Clothes were not a viable option – Kurt did not know Puck's clothing size, and while he probably could guess it, he had no desire to cause offense by getting it wrong. The trouble was that other than Glee club (and Kurt's brief stint on the football team), the two boys seemed to have nothing in common. Kurt knew nothing of Puck's interests other than violence, football, and Jewish musicians.

He was walking through the mall, still pondering what he could get that would be the ideal gift for Puck. He thought about maybe getting him some nunchucks, as he had once heard the shaven-headed teen talk about them with such excitement that he knew the gift would be appreciated. Kurt, however, was not keen on the idea of inspiring any further violent behaviour in the young hoodlum.

Kurt was gazing through the window of Hot Topic when inspiration suddenly hit him like a bolt of lightening, and he hurried home.

He headed straight to his basement, and started to rummage in his accessories drawer. There, tucked neatly beneath a bright orange Hermes box, was the item he was looking for. Still nestled in its box (Kurt always kept his accessories in their original boxes. It was only sensible with such valuable items), sparkling in the light as he opened it, was his Alexander McQueen knuckleduster multi ring.

It was a cross between jewellery and weaponry – the four linked rings slid over the knuckles to rest like ordinary rings, only they were joined together by the decorative top section. The decoration of skulls and one large gemstone was perhaps a little ostentatious, but it was clearly a set of brass knuckles. He had bought it a year or so ago, but it had been too large for him and kept slipping off his hand. It would be the ideal gift for Puck, who would like the threatening abilities with which it would provide him, but it also satisfied Kurt's desire to not give a gift that he deemed too hideous for anyone to ever want to lay eyes on.

And while Kurt was unwilling to provide Puck with another means to inflict pain, he was sure that the burly teen would appreciate the intimidation effect of the piece. It had skulls on it, which Kurt was sure would satisfy Puck's 'badass' requirement, and was just about low key enough that Puck might actually wear it.

It was far more expensive than the budget for the Secret Santa allowed, but since Kurt had already owned it, it really was not costing him anything at all. And because he had taken such good care of it, the piece looked as good as new, so there were sure to be no offended remarks about second hand gifts. Kurt also doubted that any other member of Glee club (with the possible exceptions of Santana, who really loved her bling) would have any idea how much the designer accessory had cost.

The day for the giving of the Secret Santa gifts finally arrived. Kurt had carefully wrapped the plain black knuckleduster box (which contained the jewellery in the trademark black McQueen pouch) in silver paper, and tied a silky blue ribbon around it for added style.

He placed the gift under the small tree in the corner, next to a very large object which was wrapped in matt gold paper covered with glossy gold stars. No prizes for guessing who wrapped that, Kurt thought wryly. While he waited for the rest of Glee club to arrive, he climbed up on the seats at the back and peered out of the window; the soccer team were practicing squat thrusts again and he had a pretty good view from up there. What? If they are going to exercise in very short shorts in a public place, they can only expect to be observed doing it.

He jumped down as the door opened and a gaggle of people walked in, depositing their gifts under the tree on their way to their seats.

Rachel's, unsurprisingly, was the first gift to be given. She had made Finn a CD of her singing a selection of love ballads, and gift wrapped it with a giant teddy bear that had a large gold star in the centre of its chest. The gold star itself contained pictures of both Finn and Rachel's smiling faces.

Finn, excitable as ever, wanted to give his gift next. As Kurt picked up the small box, he was more than a little anxious at the thought of what Finn may have bought him.

"I wanted to show how cool I am with the whole gay thing, Kurt, and I know how much you like musicals, so I got you that. I hope you like it."

Kurt exchanged a hopeful glance with Mercedes. Perhaps this won't be as bad as I feared, he thought as he unwrapped the present. He took in the contents of the box and schooled his expression so that it was vaguely grateful-looking. Then again, perhaps it will.. He rapidly closed the lid on the gift voucher for TLA Gay and the attached flyer for the film "Naked Boys Singing". Finn was looking at him so expectantly, like he had just found the greatest present ever… Kurt could see why Finn thought that he would love it, but still. Buying a gift voucher for softcore porn for the Glee Club Secret Santa? Really? He had hoped for something vaguely personal, something that would prove that Finn had really got to know him over the last few year. There's more to me than the just the gay kid who likes to sing, Kurt thought bitterly.

Kurt kept the artificial grin glued to his face throughout the entire gift-giving ceremony, hardly noticing Puck's apprehensive expression changing to one of glee as he had unwrapped his present.

"Dude, this is freakin' awesome!" Puck's joyful exclamation, as he peered into the pouch, cut through the expectant silence. The group looked at each other, puzzled. The chances of Puck being delighted at anything to come out of a designer jewellery box were somewhere between slim and zero. Various expressions of realisation and horror spread over faces as Puck pulled his hand out of the bag – the metal decoration now firmly fitted onto his fist.

Mr Schue was the one to finally attract Kurt's attention.

"Kurt. Kurt!"

The boy looked over at his teacher, who had a worried expression on his face.

"Aren't brass knuckles illegal in Ohio? Do you really think that's a… uh…. wise gift to give?"

"Those are not brass knuckles, Mr Schue." Not according to the website, at least. It's an Alexander McQueen multiring – a very unusual piece of jewellery that is designed to appeal to those with more…" Kurt paused here, trying to think of a good way to put it. "Those with more inelegant tastes."

"Whatever, dude, this is totally badass." Puck was still looking at his adorned hand with joy.

A slight smile returned to Kurt's face as he saw how well his gift had gone down with its recipient. At least something had gone right today after the disaster of Finn's gift (he was trying to ignore the weight of the box still in his lap).

They finished off Glee practice with groups renditions of some Christmas carols – traditional ones, like Hark The Herald Angels Sing and O Come All Ye Faithful. They were easy enough to sing straight off because everyone, even Puck and Rachel, had been dragged to church by well-meaning friends and relations most Christmases. There was minor tussle when Mr Schue announced Once In Royal David's City, but remarkably, Rachel conceded with fairly good grace that the solo was traditionally sung a boy, and allowed Kurt start off the carol. I suppose the spirit of Christmas really is contagious, Kurt mused as the group joined in for the second verse. They finished off with Unto Us A Boy Is Born – which was wonderful if only for the line "While the choir with peals of glee doth rend the air asunder", which led to a very intricate joke by Kurt involving the Glee club, orange peel and a rendering plant.

A brief moment of silence followed the joke, then a number of what Kurt hoped were not sympathy chuckles were heard. As the practice finished, everyone moved to gather up their belongings, and wrap up warmly against the cold. It had been snowing all day, and the white flakes had long since settled on the ground.

When Kurt looked up from adjusting his very fluffy green scarf, only Puck was left in the room. He was lounging against the grand piano, apparently very interested in the angel on top of the tree.

"What do you want, Puck?" Kurt asked warily. The two had been relatively civil with each other over the previous months, but Kurt was well aware that Puck still had the capability to mash him to a pulp should he want to. As the muscled teen stepped towards him, Kurt began to regret his Christmas gift. The last thing the boy needed was extra punching capabilities.

"I need a ride. My mom won't let my drive her car in the snow and you're the only Glee kid who lives near my house."

Kurt blinked at him. "I'm not going to ask how you know where I live, though I imagine it has something to do with lawn furniture?"

Puck shrugged nonchalantly.

"Anyway, I'm sorry to let you down, but my dad won't let me drive either in this weather. I'm walking home."

"He lets you walk?"

"He doesn't know half the stuff that happens to me in this school, so yes, he lets me walk. He's still recovering from his heart attack so he can't drive me himself, and none of the bus routes go in the right direction."

"Oh. 'Kay then." Puck glanced through the window at the falling snow. A discomforted look crossed his face. "I really don't wanna walk in this."

"Me either, Puck, but what can you do?" Kurt shrugged and picked up his bag.

The two boys looked uncertainly at each other. Neither was really sure what else there was to say, and Kurt did not particularly wish to walk past the bigger boy to leave the room. Puck dropped his arms to swing by his sides, and felt the unfamiliar weight of the knuckleduster on his hand.

"Hey, thanks again, dude. For the brass knuckles. They're pretty badass, even with the sparkly shit. The skulls kinda make up for it."

A tight smile appeared on Kurt's face. "You're welcome. Technically it's a knuckleduster. At least, that's what the website said. I think that's just a British term for them."

"Nice." Puck did not want the awkward silence to start again, so he asked Kurt, "You wanna walk together, then?"

"Excuse me?" Puck could not tell if Kurt's expression was one of offence or fear. "Why would I want to be seen with a Neanderthal like you?"

"Our houses are like a couple of blocks apart, man. It's frickin' freezing out there, at least if we walk together we'll be distracted from the cold. You wanna get going or not?"

Kurt contemplated for a moment, then nodded curtly. "Alright then."

The two made their way to the front entrance and stepped outside. Puck shivered – he was only wearing a hoodie over his t-shirt.

They made their way across the parking lot, Kurt delicately sidestepping and leaping around and over the piles of slush and snow, Puck just ploughing straight through, hands thrust deep into his pocket.

Kurt kept his gaze trained on the ground as the mismatched pair walked onto the main sidewalk. There were very few other people around – no-one wanted to be out in the freezing snow.
"Hey, Kurt."

Kurt looked up from the patch of ground at which he was glaring. He had been resisting the urge to kick the snow lying there. Only the fact that he would have scuffed his Doc Martens was stopping him. "Yes, Puck?"

"Why've you been looking so down since got your Secret Santa gift? What did Finn get you that was so bad?"

Kurt had been careful to not allow any of the other Glee clubbers to see Finn's present to him.

The depth of Kurt's annoyance was obvious at he spoke. "He got me a gift card… for TLA Gay." He enunciated the last part with great distaste.

"What the hell is that?"

"It's a site that sells… videos. Aimed at gay men, mostly," Kurt explained.

"Porn?" Finn got him gay porn? Woah. I mean there's making an effort and then there's just plain weird.

"Some of it. It's just a website that sells films for gay guys," Kurt sighed.

"So why's that making you look like someone just stabbed your grandmother with her own carving knife?"

"I'd hoped that maybe, over the last year or so, Finn just might have another side to me than 'the gay one'. I don't know why I got my hopes up. He's so useless!" Kurt's frustration with the tall teen was evident. "It's almost worse than if he'd forgotten; at least that would've been less offensive."

"Yeah, I can see that. Least he's trying, dude. A year back he wouldn't have even gone to the website. He'd've been scared of the gay cooties or some shit like that," Puck reasoned.

"I guess. Still sucks." Kurt looked away. Puck got the message and left the subject alone.

A momentary lull in the snowfall let through a sudden ray of sunshine. Kurt turned his face up to the light, which was valiantly battling its way through the clouds, and a blissful expression spread across his face. He loved the cold; it was so refreshing. He forgot about Puck, who was striding alongside him. The only downside Kurt was thinking of was the terrible effect the temperature had on his skin, but it was worth it for the few moments of bracing, revitalising cold.

Puck looked at him in disbelief. He was shivering as he walked – how could anyone enjoy weather like this? He realised it probably had something to do with Kurt's eighty six thousand layers of clothing compared to his meagre two.

"Dude, this is the only time I'm ever gonna to say this: I am so jealous of your clothes right now."

Kurt snapped out of his reverie and turned to face his companion, "I knew you'd been suppressing your fashionable urges, Puck. Your Christmas gift is a good start if you want to take a more active interest in fashion."

"It's not that, dude. You just look fucking cosy in all those layers. Normally you look like you're gonna melt. This is like, the only temperature that your clothes are right for."

"Aw, is poor Pucky all cold?" Kurt had no idea where he had found the balls to mock Puck, but he looked so forlorn that he simply could not resist the urge.

"No way, man. The Puckatron does not get cold."

"Puckerman, it's twenty five degrees out here. You're allowed to feel the cold if all you're wearing is a hoodie."

Puck made a harrumphing noise, and the pair walked along the icy ground in silence, the only sound that of their feet on the freshly fallen snow.

"Hey Kurt?"

"Mm-hm?" Kurt was distracted by a large patch of ice that he was attempting to skirt around.

"Any of those jackets going spare?" The guy's wearing at least three, Puck reasoned to himself. He can't possibly need all of them.

Kurt smiled and looked sideways at the shivering boy. "You really don't like the cold, do you?"

Puck looked down, embarrassed.

"Don't worry, I'm not going to laugh at you." Kurt glanced downwards at his outfit. All of his coats were thin, close-fitting layers. They were not likely to fit Puck's muscled physique. He deftly unwound the scarf from his neck, then reached up and removed one of his two hats (technically, one was the lining of the other, but they separated for colour co-ordination purposes). He held the two woolly items out to Puck. "Here. These'll help, at least."

Puck took them gratefully, not even caring that he was wearing something of Kurt's. The hat still held residual warmth from Kurt's head as Puck tugged it down over his own (he had swept the snowflakes off his stubbled head first).

"You must have been freezing," Kurt commented. "I never thought I'd see the day when you would voluntarily wear Gucci."

"I never thought I'd see the day when you would let me," Puck remarked as he wrapped the scarf around his neck.

"Sometimes people surp-… what are you doing?" Kurt's exclamation of horror startled Puck.

"I'm wrapping your scarf around my neck because it's cold." Puck had decided a while ago that, when asked a question to which the answer was obvious, the safest thing was usually to answer it honestly. Sure, people might think you're thick, but it's better than the bitching that'll come your way if you're sarcastic at them.

"That's Dolce and-!" Kurt shook his head in despair. "You can't just throw it round your neck like those polyester monstrosities Mr Schue calls ties! Come here."

The instruction was issued with such authority that Puck did as he was told. Besides, it's Kurt's scarf. If I don't let him do it himself there's no way he'll let me wear it… and it's fucking freezing out here, Kurt deftly twined the scarf into a neat knot, settling it in the hollow of Puck's throat. He kept a tight grip on the knot and pulled Puck slightly closer, bringing him to face height and locking his eyes with Puck's. The look in his eyes could only be described as threatening.

"If that hat, or this scarf, has so much as a pulled thread when I get it back, you will be murdered in cold blood, and parts of your body stuck up in various places around the school as a warning to others."

Puck grinned at him. "Which body parts exactly do you mean, Kurt? 'Cos there's one or two that I'm kind of attached to."

Kurt hastily dropped the scarf and started walking again. "Oh no, we are not doing this. I'm not one of your locker room buddies."

"Trust me, I would never talk to any of the guys like I'm talking to you."

"Well, I'm not one of your Cheerios or pool moms, either."

"That's pretty much everyone I know. You've gotta be one of them, man, that or a teacher. So which d'you wanna be?"

Kurt looked over at him, his planned response of 'Locker room buddy, of course. Just without the locker room talk' sticking in his throat.

Puck was looking at him with frank curiosity, Kurt's hat perched ridiculously over his shaven head, scarf twisted neatly around his neck. He looked strangely vulnerable as he trudged through the snow. Instead of his usual confident strut, his head was bowed and he seemed genuinely unsure of himself. It was as though he was unused to asking someone how they wanted him to treat them. Which, Kurt mused, is probably the case. He supposed Puck usually just assigned people to a group and then did not bother any further than that. He noted that Puck had left one important group out his list, the one to which he had previously belonged. And he was not about to let Puck forget it.

"As long as I'm not one of dweebs you throw in the dumpster, pick whichever you like."

Puck's open expression closed off again. "Dude, I'm not gonna 'pologise for that. You know how high school works."

"Yes."

A stony silence spread over the two, Kurt gazing straight ahead as he stalked through the snow.

This conversation crap is harder than it looks, Puck thought. Still. I've got to make an effort. You're not that guy any more, the douchey one who throws them in dumpsters. Mercedes was right; you don't like yourself when you're like that. You just like the way they all listen to you when they're shit scared of you, because it makes you feel like you matter.

Puck's train of thought was interrupted when Kurt skidded on a patch of ice, flailing his arms wildly in an attempt to regain his balance. Puck grabbed Kurt's torso by his coat, one hand on his back, one on his waist. The fabric was damp under his palms where the fallen snow had melted.

"Woah there, Kurt. Watch where you're walking."

Kurt's frosty tone remained as he said, "Yes, thank you for that advice, Puck. But in case you hadn't noticed, a patchy of slippery snow is identical to a patch of regular snow."

"Dude, I just stopped you from landing on your ass. You could at least say thank you without bitching me out."

Kurt's expression softened somewhat. "You're right, Puck. Sorry… and thank you."

"Welcome, dude."

A small smile appeared on Kurt's face as he spoke again. "And in answer to your earlier question, I would rather be in the 'locker room buddy' category. I'd like to have guy friend."

"Sure thing, dude," Puck responded, grateful that whatever his earlier transgression had been, it appeared to have been forgiven. He smirked as he leaned closer. "You sure you wouldn't rather be a Cheerio?"

"N-no, thank you."

"You don't sound sure. Are you tempted by the guns of Puckerone?" While Puck was using his usual leery tone as he leaned forward and flexed his bicep, there was still a hint of his earlier frank curiosity. The hat perched bizarrely on his head made him a lot less intimidating than usual.

"I was just startled, that's all. Guys don't normally… um… flirt with me, even just messing around."

"What makes you think I was messing around?" Puck asked, catching Kurt's eye with an intense look.

Kurt stared at him for a moment, then started laughing derisively. "Yeah, right, Puck. Pull the other one."

Puck grinned, unabashed. "Hey, I gotta know if my guns work on guys as well as girls. I'm a stud; what would it do for my rep if I got turned down by the only queer in town?"

Kurt flinched slightly at his choice of language.

Puck, in an unusual display of sensitivity, noticed. "Oh, sorry, dude. I forgot."

"S'alright." Kurt sniffed, then after a pause, continued, "Thank you for apologising."

"No worries."

The trudged along for a few more minutes, but this time the silence was a much more amicable one.

It was Puck who was first to speak, after a large amount of internal struggling. "Dude, I've seriously gotta know. What do you think of my guns? I mean, do gay guys like the same things girls like?"

Kurt smiled internally at the Puck's desperation to know his opinion of his arms, though outwardly he showed no signs of amusement. "Not having this conversation, Puck. I might be talking to you, but I don't trust you enough yet that I'll talk to you about stuff like that. I don't know that you won't just throw it back in face when we go back to school."

"I wouldn't do that. Sure, I might chuck a guy in a dumpster, but I don't tell people's secrets. I'm a badass, not a sneak."

"Be that as it may, I'm not giving you my opinion on your 'guns'."

"Why?" Puck's cheeky smirk was back. "You think I'm hot?"

"Drop it, Puck." Kurt's voice was suddenly as glacial as the weather.

He'd make one hell of an Ice Queen. That voice could make hell freeze over, Puck thought.

Puck knew when a battle was lost, but he determined that he would ask again later, when Kurt was feeling a bit more genial towards him. He thrust his hands back deep into his hoodie pocket and shivered. He looked at his surroundings, and realised with a jolt that they were walking down Kurt's street. The walk had never passed so quickly before.

Kurt turned towards his house, taking a step down the driveway, before turning back to face Puck.

"Did you want to come in? We've got coffee, tea, cocoa. You could do with a hot drink; your house is still five blocks away."

Previously, Puck would have been less than willing to go into Kurt's house for any reason other than vandalism. But now, he'd turned over a new leaf – he was making friends with the guy. And hot chocolate sounds damn good right now…

"And then you could switch my very expensive scarf and hat for some of my dad's things from Walmart."

Puck knew there had to have been an ulterior motive. "Don't trust me with your designer stuff, Kurt?"

"Not remotely."

But there was a twinkle in his eye as he said it, and a small smile tugging at the corner of his mouth. Puck was not quite sure how he had done it, but somehow he had managed to start to win over McKinley's resident male diva fashionista. Being his usual brash self, of course, he had to ask. Once they were inside. What? It's cold outside. And there's hot chocolate inside.

Once he was perched on one of the Hummels' kitchen chairs (the hat and scarf having been whisked safely away almost as soon as he had walked in the door), hot mug of cocoa in hand, he asked.

"Why'd you ask me in?"

"Puck, there's…" Kurt paused as he peered out of the window through the swirling white. "There's six inches of snow on the ground. And if I want this 'us being friends' thing to work, I'm not going to let you wander off into a snowstorm without so much as a hot drink."

"Yeah, but… I used to throw in dumpsters. I shoved you into lockers, gave you swirlies. And you invited me into your home. For the hot chocolate. Which is totally awesome, by the way."

Kurt shrugged as he washed up the spout from the milk steamer. "You've changed since you joined Glee. You haven't done any of that since you joined. Not to me, at least," he amended. "You're still a dick to other people, but you've been acting like a decent human being to me. Why is that, by the way? And thank you, about the cocoa."

"There was no point causing any more trouble inside Glee club by messing with you guys. And since I actually have a pretty awesome time busting out tunes with you, I didn't really want to screw with any of you. And Aretha's fuckin' scary, man. She'd have torn me limb from limb if I'd messed you up."

Puck took another sip as he finished speaking.

"Seriously dude, what's in this? It's like liquid sex in a cup." Puck drank some more, savouring the myriad flavours hidden beneath the whipped cream.

Kurt blushed slightly. "It's cocoa. Real cocoa, made with steamed Jersey milk. There's some cinnamon and things in there as well."

"I am definitely staying your friend if I get this kind of drink regularly."

"Well, hopefully I'll be entertaining enough that I won't have to resort to beverage blackmail to keep your friendship."

"You're doing all right so far."

"Thank you," Kurt said primly. "You won't get it on a regular basis, though; I'm warning you now. We don't get the whipping cream often 'cause of my dad." He finished clearing up and picked up his own mug of steaming chocolate. "Do you want to sit in the living room? The couch is a lot more comfortable than these." He gestured at the kitchen stools.

"Sure thing, dude."

The pair moved through to the living room, sitting at opposite ends of the couch. Kurt was curled up into a ball around his cocoa, Puck lounging on the seat, limbs splayed as he relaxed into the cushions.

"Man, this is so comfy. I could stay here forever."

"You could stay tonight, if you wanted." Kurt looked shocked at himself even as the words left his mouth. He cleared his throat. "If you didn't want to walk home. With the cold. In the snow, I mean," Kurt stumbled over the words in his attempt to explain himself. "My dad won't mind. He's staying at Carole's tonight." Another look of shock as Kurt realised he had just invited Puck to stay the night in his empty house. "I don't mean-! It's just-"

"Hold up, Kurt. You're talking way too fast for a normal person."

Kurt took a breath and tried to repeat his main points. "You're welcome to stay over tonight if you didn't want to go out in the snow again." There's no point repeating the bit about Dad being away.

"Won't your dad mind?"

Or maybe there's no avoiding it, Kurt sighed internally. "He won't mind if you're a friend from Glee. And he's out tonight anyway."

"So you're inviting me to stay over, and your dad's out?" Puck leered over at him.

"No! I didn't mean-! That's not what I-!"

Puck chuckled at him. "Relax Kurt, I know you didn't. Are you serious, though? I can stay the night? 'Cos it's fucking freezing outside… and I really hate the cold."

Kurt played it safe and just nodded, not allowing any more words to slip out of his traitorous mouth.

"Thanks, man." A genuinely grateful smile (a thing rarely seen on Puck's face) was beamed over at Kurt.

"You're welcome."

They both slurped their drinks, then Puck asked, in an enquiring tone, "Your old man's at Finn's?"

"Yes. He and Carole have been dating for a while now."

"You like her?"

Kurt smiled. "She's really nice. And she let me make her over, so we're pretty much besties for life now."

"Yeah, Carole's pretty awesome. Her and my mom used to work out their hours so they could babysit for each other when we were kids. She makes great peanut butter cookies."

Kurt smiled at that. "I know. They're so bad for my figure I only have them once a month, but they're pretty good. My dad hates that he can't have them any more."

"How come?"

Kurt's smile dimmed. "The heart attack."

"Oh, right." Puck could have slapped himself. Kurt had already mentioned it once that evening, after all. "That was kinda dumb of me to say that."

"Don't worry about it."

"Is he doing okay now? I know you were kinda bummed about it."

Understatement of the century there, Puckerman, Kurt thought. But he knew that the jock meant well, so he answered. "He's much better than he was."

"Cool." Puck seemed actually relieved at Kurt's response. "I know you don't really like the whole religion thing, but I was praying for him."

Kurt was surprised by this. He had never thought that Puck cared, even a little bit. That he had cared enough to go to temple just for that was remarkable. "Thank you." He really meant it.

Kurt returned his attention to his cocoa, trying to drink from the cup without getting whipped cream on his nose. He failed.

Puck chuckled into his drink – the sight of the usually pristine Kurt with a white blob on the end of his nose was too funny for him not to laugh.

Kurt looked at him with a mix of worry and annoyance. "What?"

Puck pointed at his own nose. "You've got cream. Right there."

Kurt's eyes widened as he tried to focus on the end of his nose. Seeing that Puck was not joking, he put down the mug and hastily reached for a tissue. He delicately tried to clean the dairy product from his face, but struggled without a mirror.

"Here, let me." Puck put down his own hot chocolate and took the tissue from Kurt's hand. Kurt froze as Puck gently cleaned his nose. Surprisingly gently, in fact. I didn't realise he had it in him, Kurt thought as Puck concentrated his whole attention on cleaning the last scrap of white from his face.

"Hey, relax, I'm just cleaning you off. You don't have to do the statue thing."

Kurt remained sitting stock still as Puck finished and sat back into his seat. He had never known a guy, other than his dad, who was actually willing to touch him. And for something as minor as that? Definitely out of the ordinary. He looked over to Puck, who was reclining in his seat with a serious expression on his face. Kurt directed a questioning look his way, suppressing the urge to ask 'Why so serious?'.

Puck sighed and spoke again, "Dude, I gotta confess something. I kinda had an ulterior motive in making friends with you."

Kurt sat up immediately, retreating behind his usual McKinley veneer as he shrank back into his seat, anticipating some violent outburst.

"No, dude, nothing like that! I'm not about to prank you or some shit like that."

Kurt relaxed slightly, though his posture was still rigid as he looked over at the skinhead teen, mistrusting and apprehensive. "What then? You wanted to mend your bridges with Finn now he's my sort-of might-be-going-to-be step-brother?"

Puck shook his head and looked at his feet. "It's sorta two things. You see, the thing is…" he tailed off, took a breath, then sighed, his resolve lost, and took another sip of cocoa.

Kurt looked at him curiously. "Go on."

"I've kind of got this… thing… and I just need to talk to someone about it. I can't talk to my mom, she won't understand. Mr Schue doesn't care about me, and Miss Pillsbury would just give me some damn leaflet."

Kurt nodded slowly. "And you picked me of all the Glee kids because…?"

"You get it, man. I mean, I think you do. I hope."

"Okay, then. So what's this thing?" Kurt was not used to people coming to him with their problems. Heck, he couldn't remember a time when he had not had too many of his own to care about other people's.

"The thing is… I think I'm bi. I mean, I know I am." Puck's eyes remained firmly fixed on his toes as he spoke.

Kurt's eyebrows slowly rose in shock. "Oh… kaaaay…" He blinked a few times. "Bisexual?"

"Yeah."

"Okay…" Kurt's brain appeared to have stopped functioning. After all, this was one heck of a piece of news for it take in all of a sudden.

Puck peeked over at Kurt. "So?"

"So… what?" Kurt responded, an uncertain expression on his face.

"What am I supposed to do?"

Kurt blinked at Puck's pleading face. "I don't… what do you mean?"

"How am I supposed to deal with this? Out in the open, I mean. I'm Puck, the Puckmeister, Puckzilla, Puckatron. I'm a badass, I throw kids in dumpsters. I'm not supposed to get turned on by dick!"

Well, that's putting it bluntly, thought Kurt. Aloud, he said, "And you're sure that you do? It's not just some passing thing? Because everyone gets confused at some point during their teenage years, Puck."

"I'm sure. Ever since I first started watching porn, I got off to the dude as much as I did to the chicks."

"Okay then."

There was a moment's silence as Kurt turned his attention to his cuticles. Outwardly perfectly composed, but inside, he was in turmoil.

"So?" Puck exclaimed.

Kurt looked back at the burly teen sitting on his couch with a strange look on his face. When he spoke, his voice seemed half infinitely patient, as one would speak to a small child, and half icily irritated. "I don't understand what you want from me."

"I just need to talk to someone. I need you to tell I'm not a freak for wanting both."

Kurt looked at Puck's distressed face and softened slightly, but only slightly. "You're not a freak. What you are is a jerk."

Puck looked more hurt than he had anticipated.

"Why are you being like this, Kurt?

The dam broke.

"For all those years you bullied me, you threw me around – you punished me for liking guys! And it turns out that all along you liked guys too!" Kurt stood up as he continued to shout, "You think you can just waltz along and say, 'Oh, I'm sorry, Kurt. It turns out that I was going through the same thoughts as you. Only I can hide it, so I'm just gonna pretend I'm normal while I chuck you in the dumpster along with all the other freaks and weirdos.' It doesn't work like that! You can't do that to me and expect me to suddenly sympathise with you for what you spent years - years - bullying me for!"

"But ten minutes ago you were being all forgi-" Puck's expression was one of utter bewilderment.

"Ten minutes ago I didn't know that you'd been hiding this!" Kurt gesticulated wildly. "So many nights I cried myself to sleep because I was so alone. I thought I was the only guy in that school who liked guys. It wasn't even about having a boyfriend, it was just being so, so lonely that I wanted to scream from the pain of it. You were fine, at least you had friends you could talk about girls with." Kurt turned away, not wanting to see the look on Puck's face. He was the one with the secrets, he was the one making my life a hell. Why should I have to try and make him feel better? Why should he get to be the one who's hurting?

Kurt slowly turned back as Puck began to speak. "Woah, dude, that's not fair. You were so gay you couldn't hide it. I could, and I wasn't about to jump down from the top of the pyramid just to make you feel better. I ruled the school! And anyway, you had Mercedes, and the other chicks."

"They don't know what it's like to be a teenage boy, they can't relate." Kurt gestured dismissively as he spoke. "You could have done." He glared at him accusingly.

"No, I couldn't."

The accusing stare turned to a blank expression. "Of course you could. You were the only other guy in school who could!"

"No, Kurt, I couldn't. We were nothing alike. Our issues were completely different. You knew you didn't like girls, but you were even more than that. You knew that you didn't deserve what we were putting you through, you were stronger. I couldn't have dealt with that. I'm a badass because that way I'm safe." Puck explained angrily. "People don't hassle you if you fit the mould. But you?" He waved his hand at the slender teen, "Dude, you're into fashion, you're into musicals. People expect you to be gay. That's your mould. I wasn't like that. I'm into rock music and metal. I was dealing with my dad running out, I had different friends. It just… it wasn't the same."

"You think it's not the same? My mom died when I was eight. We both had to deal with the same loss. How much easier would it have been if we'd been going through it together?"

"No disrespect, man, but your mom died. She didn't choose to leave. My dad did, and that screwed me up. I thought I wasn't good enough for him, so I wasn't good enough for anybody. I would have been no good to you then."

Kurt nodded grudgingly. "You still bullied me for being just the same as you." He was not willing to let it go just yet.

"Not the same, Kurt. You were way more different than I ever was."

"You don't need to remind me of that." Kurt commented drily.

"Yeah, but that was the thing; it wasn't about you being gay."

"Yes, it was, Puckerman." Kurt sounded almost bored at this point as he slumped back onto the couch.

"No, not for me, not for most of the guys. They just thought you were stuck up and prissy, you had really fancy clothes and it was fun to mess with you. You weren't big enough to stand up to us, so you were an easy target."

"Oh, well that's not so bad then." Kurt's voice was heavily layered with biting sarcasm.

"Please, Kurt, don't do this."

Disdain still clearly in evidence, Kurt replied, "Oh, I'm sorry, do what, exactly?"

"Be all… bitchy about it. I need a friend right now, dude. That's why I came to you."

Kurt nose twitched as he contemplated the boy sitting beside him. He's right, but I'm damned if I'm going to tell him that. He jerked his chin noncommittally.

Puck knew that what he really meant was 'Alright then, maybe so. But I don't often admit when I'm wrong so we'll just look past this and move on.' Hold on… when the hell did I get so good at reading his face? Maybe he's just too damn expressive for his own good.

"So then," Kurt said. "Why did you finally decide the time was right to tell me? Or tell anyone?"

Puck was silent. Kurt looked up at him. Puck was never lost for words. Yet here he was, eyes fixed, staring determinedly at his knees as through hoping he might develop x-ray vision. He seemed to be frozen in place. This is new, Kurt thought as he looked at the anxious teen with a mixture of curiosity and annoyance. After all, he couldn't just drop a bombshell like that and expect not to explain why.

"Puck." Kurt spoke in a wearied tone. "Why?" He was sick of people leaving things unsaid around him, leaving him to figure out what was going on in their heads.

"I… er, I…" Puck stuttered to a halt. "Fuck!" He leapt to his feet and strode across the room as he swore loudly. "This is… I don't know how to do this!"

"Do what?" Kurt's voice was vaguely panicked as he responded to Puck's slamming his hand down hard on the mantelpiece.

"I don't know how to do the… the liking thing! I'm a stud, I take what I want and that's it. I don't know how to like people. I just do 'em and move on. And then Qu-"

He cut himself off, not wanting to bring the painful memory to the front of his mind.

Kurt's expression relaxed. This was, at least, familiar territory. He stood and walked over to Puck, standing a few feet away from the boy who was scowling at the mantel clock as though it had given his mother rabies. "You liked her and you didn't know how to handle it. And then Beth came along…"

Kurt could not finish the sentence.

"And everything went to shit," Puck supplied, the bitterness in voice clear as day.

Kurt waited for a few moments to give Puck a chance to expand further, but nothing was forthcoming. He knew that there must be some guy that Puck had got it into his head that he liked, he just could not figure out who. Fingers crossed for Finn, Kurt thought. The irony would be just too delicious.

"So… what does this have to do with your big bisexual revelation?"

Puck answered quietly, still gazing at the mantel clock, "Because I don't want to screw things up with you the way I did with Quinn."

"But I- ohhh…" A wave of realisation rushed over Kurt. "You… you like me?" he questioned uncertainly. Kurt kept his voice reasonably steady, but inside all he could think was, What? Me? Him? Me? What?

Puck nodded, hand still clenched on the mantelpiece, eyes still refusing to meet Kurt's.

"Oh… kay," Kurt's voice sounded breathless, as though the air had been knocked out of him by some great shock.

Which, Puck reasoned, it probably had.

Kurt took a few steps and dropped into the nearest armchair. It was as though all the strength had been sapped from his body and he no longer had the energy or the willpower to remain vertical.

Puck grimaced to himself then turned to face the seated teen, a sheepish expression on his face.

"So…" Kurt began, gazing at his hands. "You're bi. And you like me. In a gay way."

"Yeah."

Kurt took a deep breath. "And what do you expect me to do?"

"I want… I told you, Kurt, I don't know how to do this!"

Kurt looked up at him for the first time, his tone weary. "Yes, you do. You're a badass, Puck, remember? You tell me what you want and I tell why you can't have it, and then you take it anyway."

"That's not fair, dude. I don't take from someone who's not willing to give. I don't roll that way."

"Qu-"

"Quinn was into it just as much as I was." Kurt could hear in Puck's voice just how much the suggestion hurt him. "She just… wasn't into me like I was into her." If Kurt had not known Puck better, he would have said that the boy standing in front of him was close to tears.

It's strange how fast someone can go from hateful to pitiful, Kurt thought. "You're right, that was too far. I'm sorry."

Puck nodded his forgiveness.

"So what do you want from me?" Kurt looked at him expectantly, if apprehensively, from his seated position.

After an interminable silence, Puck said, "I wanna date you."

Kurt was silent for a minute, mainly trying to ensure that he was actually conscious and lucid. Then he wrinkled his nose slightly as he asked, "Date me like you dated Santana or date me like you dated Mercedes?"

"Neither, dude. I wanna date properly. Like you want to be dated."

"How would you know how I want to be dated?"

"I was kinda hoping you'd tell me…" Puck said, shamefaced. "Look, Kurt, in my entire life, I've only ever really liked two people. Quinn, and you. And now that I might have this chance with you, I'm not gonna blow it. Not this time. You're worth coming out of the closet over."

"Coming out? You've told one person."

"Hell, I'll tell the whole world if I get to have you on my arm."

Kurt had glossed over the first part of Puck's most recent speech, but now he went back to it. "You really… like me? As in, like like? And me, as in, me, Kurt Hummel?"

"Yeah, dude."

A smile began to spread across Kurt's face. I can't say I've never thought about it – Noah Puckerman turning out to like me. He's hot, after all. But it seems so surreal, it can't really be happening. Oh no… that's it: this is a dream. His face dropped. Yeah, he's hot, but he's not dateable. He's Puck, for crying out loud! That's why I never entertained the idea for longer than a shower. This can't be happening, ergo, it isn't.

Kurt shook his head and sat back, sighing. "I'm dreaming. That's the only explanation."

"What?" Puck looked at him like he'd gone mad.

"Puck, there is no earthly way you could be offering to date me. Normal dating, proper dating. So I must be dreaming."

"You're not, Kurt." Puck glanced around and, seeing no other chairs near enough to Kurt's, knelt on the floor by Kurt's armchair. He leaned forward and took hold of Kurt's hand in both of his own.

Kurt's first reaction was to flinch away from the contact. Physical contact with a bigger guy than him was almost always the precursor to pain, after all. Then he felt the gentle insistence of Puck's grip on his hand – not tight enough to hurt, but not so loose as to let his hand just fall away, either.

"Kurt, I'm asking to date you because you're smart, you're bitchy, you can sing like the girl in that Meat Loaf song about doing anything for love, and you're about the only guy at school as badass as me."

Well, that part's true, at least. Out of all the guys at McKinley, I'm the only one who can rock Gaga. In heels.

But Kurt could still not wrap his head around the idea. "But you're… you're Puck! I've never even thought about dating you. You were that unattainable that even I, king of the straight boy crush, never seriously considered it."

There was something akin to a hungry puppy in the pleading look Puck gave the smaller boy. "Give me a chance?"

Kurt gazed at the burly teen for a long moment. Could I see myself with him? Could he do it? Could he make me happy?

All he's asking for is a chance to prove himself. You can give him that much at least. And you never know. A miracle could happen. He might just turn out to be the guy for you. And anyway, look at his guns! It's worth a try, for the arm candy at least.

Kurt nodded slowly, a smile creeping across his face as he did so. "Alright then."

Puck looked at him, a broadening grin spreading across his face.

"Really?" Puck asked, his eyes alight.

"It's worth a shot. No," Kurt corrected himself. "You're worth a shot. You're a good guy, Puck. And you need someone who can see that. And right now, that person is me."

After a brief moment of Puck just grinning like a Cheshire cat, Puck leaned forward slightly. "Can I kiss you?"

"You'd better," Kurt answered with a wicked grin, leaning forward himself to bring his lips against Puck's, their hands still tightly clasped.

Puck's lips did not taste like root beer. Not like burgers, either. They tasted like chocolate and cinnamon. Unsurprising, really. I suppose mine taste the same.

Then Kurt stopped thinking and felt. He felt the warm press of lips against his, the strong hands finding his waist, the hard body colliding with his own, the stubble under his fingers. How did my hands end up here? The thought briefly flashed through his mind as he caressed the back of Puck's head. Their bodies were tangled together in the easy chair.

Puck pulled back momentarily, taking a moment to gaze into Kurt's eyes, then moved in for another kiss. Kurt spoke before their lips met. "Puck…" he whispered softly.

"Yeah?" Puck replied, his lips barely an inch from Kurt's own.

"Not that this isn't wonderful but… could we move to the couch? This armchair is not designed for two." He wiggled his hips against the arm to prove it.

Puck grinned again. "Sure thing."

The bigger boy slipped his arms around Kurt and picked him up, bridal style, getting to his feet in one swift motion.

"Wha- Puck!" Kurt clung to his neck.

"It's the easiest way, babe."

"Babe? I thought we agreed that I wasn't one of your Cheerios?" Kurt pulled back as far as he could with his arms still securely around Puck's neck and his legs looped over Puck's left arm.

"I can't call you 'dude' now you're my boyfriend." Puck settled himself down on the couch, Kurt positioned squarely in his lap.

"I should think not. If you do this with all of the guys..." Kurt paused. "Just no. So what groups are left for me to fit into?"

"Dunno… I've never known anyone like you before, Kurt." Somehow Puck managed to make an incredibly corny line sound completely frank and sincere. "How about you get a whole group of your own?"

"I'd like that."

"Me too." On anyone else, that smile would be sappy, Kurt thought. Somehow, he makes it the heartstoppingly wonderful thing to see. "You're Kurt."

Kurt grinned at him. "The one and only."

"My Kurt?" There was just enough of a question inflection to let Kurt know that, whatever his answer, Puck already considered him his, and that he was just asking Kurt's permission to voice it aloud.

Kurt nodded and reached up to gently cup the side of Puck's face. "My Puck?" Kurt's was far more questioning – he was asking if it really could be true that Puck was his now, for the time being at least.

"Yours."

The old fear flashed across Kurt's eyes as he asked, "But for how long?"

"For however long you'll have me." Again, the sincerity in Puck's voice surprised him.

Kurt was reassured enough to joke, "Well, if you want to earn your keep, a good way would be by kissing me. Lots."

"I plan to, Kurt."

Kurt's hands curled around the back of Puck's neck. "More kissing, less talking."

So Puck obliged.

And so it turned out that Kurt had a very good day that day after all.

And the night which followed?

It was even better.


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