Just Wait and See
Written for maeby_sparrow in the 2010 Chrismukkah Fic Exchange.
It started in glee club, as many things in Kurt's life had.
The senior prom was coming up in December, and the glee club had decided to put their funds together for a limo so they could go as a group. It was barely the end of September, sure, but they needed all the time they could get to earn the cash.
There were a few couples within the club and half, if not most of the guys couldn't dance for their lives. Even Mike, who had a talent for spontaneous break-dancing and doing what he dubbed The Robotic Worm, had a barely-passable grip on ballroom dancing.
After all his girlfriends' begs and pleas (and borderline-intimidating threats), Kurt finally conceded and offered his services to those with two left feet. Kurt couldn't say he was all that surprised when Brittany shoved Santana into Kurt's personal space one afternoon, pleading for his guidance. ("I don't want a girlfriend with two left feet!" the blonde fretted, as the Latina rolled her eyes so fiercely Kurt worried she'd strain something.)
Kurt was still frustrated from a failed attempt with his monster of a stepbrother. He didn't think it was possible to unlearn dance routines, especially considering their parents' wedding hadn't been all that long ago but it was Finn they were talking about: that boy could make the impossible possible.
Stepbrother or not, Kurt had wanted to tell Finn to find himself another teacher (or a better pair of legs), and his foot still ached from earlier.
Surprisingly, Puck didn't look nearly as intimidated or John Coffey-esque when he walked into the vacant choir room for his session. He was all confidence as he sauntered up to Kurt, wearing a half-smirk Kurt wished he could sucker-punch right off that stupidly gorgeously-structured face. He grabbed Kurt's wrist, Puck's large, callused thumb and pointer finger easily wrapping around him like a bracelet… or a shackle. "Soo, figure a simple waltz right? And we can just pull a Pat and Chris or somethin', I guess."
Kurt didn't get a chance to comment, as Puck all but yanked him into an intermediate ballroom dance sequence. He felt like he was stuck in the Twilight Zone or something.
"Who taught you how to dance so well, Puck?" Kurt asked after a moment, impressed beyond belief. "Was it Nanette Himmelfarb, at the Scarsdale Jewish Community Center?" Kurt asked. At Puck's decidedly blank expression, he sighed and shook his head with a smile fighting its way onto his face. "Nevermind. I forgot you're a culturally inept jock. Musical references goright over your pretty little head."
Puck blinked at him for a couple seconds, eyeing him with suspicion before he shrugged it off. "My Nana always wanted her one and only grandson to be able to waltz and shit. She got me dance lessons at one of her friend's niece's school of dance or something. I-" he paused to twirl Kurt around in dizzying, perfectly-timed spins. "I sorta liked it. But don't tell anyone, alright? Or I'll put a hurtin' on you," he threatened, but there was little venom in his words.
Kurt rolled his eyes. "Don't worry, I won't try to ruin your big bad jock reputation, hotshot. Besides, I think you did a pretty good job of that yourself-honestly, a badass who bakes for a soup kitchen?"
"Hey!" Puck cried, letting Kurt hijack the lead and lead them into a whisk. "It's for a good cause, dude."
"I didn't say it wasn't," Kurt reasoned, "I only insinuated that a badass wouldn't do something as kind and selfless as that."
"I do what I want," Puck muttered.
They danced for a few more counts before Kurt stopped them, frowning. "Puck, why are we doing this if you can dance circles around me? No pun intended," he added when Puck snorted.
"I don't know? I'm bored," Puck shrugged. He tried to pick back up into a waltz, but Kurt remained still. He huffed. "What?"
"Why are we doing this?" Kurt repeated.
Puck dropped Kurt's hands with a scowl. "Fine, what the fuck ever."
"Pu-oh, for the love of… Puck!" He sprinted over and grabbed Puck's arm, yanking. Hard.
"Ow! Easy, fucker!" He rubbed his shoulder. "You wanna get my attention or dislocate my fuckin' arm? 'Cause I think you did both."
"Shut up." Kurt glared at him. He stood there and stared at Puck for a moment, thinking back to the past few months-no, the past year. To say Puck mellowed was a bit of an understatement; sure, he could still be a jackass when he wanted to be, and he hadn't magically transformed into a better, "Peace and love for all!" person. But as time passed, so did dumpster dives, slushie sneak-attacks… pretty much anything and everything of the violent persuasion. Kurt figured Puck's juvie stint back in junior year had something to do with the change in the jock who just wanted to dance with another guy. (Mind, this was the very same guy that said jock used to swing into dumpsters countless times in the past.)
He watched as the other boy awkwardly fidgeted in place before he declared, "I'm taking you bowling."
"Wha-what the fuck, Hummel?" Puck exclaimed. He looked at Kurt like he'd lost his mind. (Hey, maybe he had.) "How do you go from ballroom dancing to bowling?"
"Well," Kurt started with a frown of disdain, "It's clear you've got a lot of free time on your hands since football season's over and you've got, like, zero friends outside of glee. No offense," he said with some sincerity. "And-take this any way you'd like, I don't care-I don't think you're actually all that horrible to be around. I might even consider you an acquaintance."
Puck looked at him with a wholly unimpressed scowl. "So what, is this like a pity date or something?"
"First off," Kurt snapped, "It's not a date, so calm your homophobic self down. Secondly, I'm not so pathetically deranged as to pity the jerk who once assaulted me with his banana in front of our entire sixth grade class."
Puck smirked. "That was pretty fucked up, wasn't it?" he asked with a laugh. Of course, a traumatic experience from Kurt's preteen days would be the stuff of nostalgia for the jock.
"I couldn't eat peanut butter and banana sandwiches for weeks," Kurt agreed. "So is that a yes? I don't have all day, you know."
"But you can make time for this jerk?" Puck pressed. He didn't give Kurt a moment to even begin to answer, which Kurt took that as a sign that Puck really was that desperate. "I guess. I'm pretty sure today's Free Nachos Day, so I'm in. Even if it means dealing with you, Hummel," he retorted, but it sounded more like an afterthought, as if Puck forgot he wasn't supposed to want to go out with someone like Kurt.
What Kurt felt wasn't pity, he decided. He just-he'd been in Puck's shoes before, and he understood how tough the lonely road could be. (He wasn't too sure if sharing an understanding with Puck was more screwy than pitying Puck. He wasn't too keen on trying to find out.)
"Sounds like a date," Kurt said, smirking when Puck spun around to gape at him. He laughed. "Just kidding!"
Puck scowled, but Kurt could see the hint of a smile in Puck's features. "Fuck you, Hummel."
"No thanks," he sang as he picked up his things. "Now come along, I have to be home in a couple hours."
Bowling with Puck was surprisingly not that bad. In fact, even with his scores rolling in the gutter right along with his bowling ball and despite the stain marring his Alexander Wang sweater (a battle scar from when Puck tried forcing a disgustingly congealed cheese-covered tortilla chip upon him), Kurt would go so far as to say he was having a good time.
Sue was probably off writing ballads in Mr. Schue's name while the Devil had fun doing figure-eights in Hell.
"You know," Puck said later on, as Kurt dropped him off at his house, "I kinda had fun tonight."
"Yeah, me too." He sounded just as surprised as Puck.
Puck smiled for a brief, fleeting moment before unbuckling himself with what could've been reluctance. "Guess I'll see you around."
"Yeah…" Kurt murmured, biting his lip as he watched Puck get out. "Take care."
Puck glanced over at him with a smirk. "Sure," he said. "Thanks for the charity work."
Kurt glared. "I told you, it wasn't-"
"I know," Puck snickered. "Chillax, Hummel. 'Sides, it's kinda obvious you wanted to hang with me. I mean, you do think I'm pretty," he smirked.
Kurt sputtered for a witty comeback, but all he ended up with was, "When did I say that, you delusional ape?"
Puck just laughed and laughed. His breath formed a misty 'o' in the cold winter air. "Night, Kurt."
"Jerk," Kurt called right before Puck slammed the passenger door shut. He said it again, just for good measure.
"…" He watched Puck slip into his home with a puzzled frown on his face, trying to recount something. "I didn't really call him pretty, did I?"
Once the vocal practices and choreography fine-tuning for the upcoming Sectionals competition were out of the way, glee club devolved into gossiping. That day's topic, as it had been for the better part of the month, was senior prom. By now, most of the boys were sort of uninterested in the subject as a whole-they'd been excited the first few times everyone got together to talk couples and corsages, but there was only so much that interested them about prom.
Kurt wanted to make it clear that he wasn't an exception because he was any less of a man, but because all the color-coordinating and hair styling was up to him and Mercedes. He was sort of entitled to gushing over dress catalogues with the other girls in the front row while the boys talked dirt and Call of Duty in the bleachers.
Today was one of those group-discussion days, and today also happened to be one of those Finn-Rachel "Oh, aren't we so perfectly perfect and in love?" days. How lucky was he?
Kurt's left eye twitched for the umpteenth time as he tried in vain to choose dress cuts for the girls' dresses. Try as he might, he just couldn't nix all the irritating noise Rachel was making-not that that was anything new, but familiarity did not make it any less grating on the nerves.
"And we'll dance along to all of the slow, tastefully romantic songs, won't we, Finn?" Rachel cooed. Finn nodded along with a dopey smile of his own, although he probably didn't know what Rachel was even talking about.
"Sure babe," he agreed immediately. "Of course."
Kurt rolled his eyes; case: rested.
"God, gag me," Santana snapped, hair whipping side to side as she shook her head in very obvious disgust. "Please, put me out of my misery!"
"But I thought you liked being gagged," Brittany frowned. "At least, that's what you said the other night…"
"Oh, I do," Santana shared a perverse but strangely affectionate secretive smirk with the blonde, before grimacing at Finn and Rachel. "Which is why I'd rather be choking on something than listening to this crap."
"You know where to find me if you need something to choke on," Puck leered, but other than a bit of scoffing from some gleeks, no one made a big fuss. Puck was Puck, after all: you couldn't change a leopard's stripes, or whatever.
"So… I don't know about the rest of you guys, but I'm totally psyched about couples' pictures," Quinn piped up, smiling as Sam's arm tightened around her small waist.
"We're totally gonna strike a pose right before the camera goes off," Mike said excitedly, one hand on his jutted hip as he flashed a peace sign with the other. Tina grinned and slapped a thumb-and-forefinger loser sign over her forehead.
"I was thinking we could do something classier for ours," Kurt mused to Mercedes as he flipped the page of that month's Vogue.
"Or we can part the seas with our usual divas-in-crime routine," 'Cedes said with a grin.
As everyone buzzed about the photos, the slow-dances and such, Kurt couldn't help but notice Puck's commentary… or considerable lack thereof. He took a covert peek over at the other boy, and noticed how stormy and glum Puck looked.
It wasn't pity, it really wasn't. And while he could get the whole feeling like an outcast among couples, what he was feeling wasn't "I've been there" understanding, either.
Kurt bit his lip and looked back down at the glossy article on the it-colors of the season. Even choosing between frosted mint and that divine-looking mauve was easier than even attempting to wrap his mind around the irritating matter of Noah Puckerman, but he vowed to do something about that irksome pall hanging over Puck's features when he got the chance.
What were not-quite-friends for, after all?
He didn't need to wait long for his opening: the club disbanded pretty quickly after prom talk died down for the day. He waved the girls farewell and told Finn he'd be home soon, fussing over his messenger bag while everyone else filtered out. Puck didn't seem in any rush at all, only getting up when nearly all of the others were out the door. Even then, he moved at a more-than-leisurely pace, trying to look casual as Kurt watched from the corner of his eye. The other boy swaggered up to him, not-so-subtly eyeing Kurt with a confused frown.
Kurt turned and faced Puck with a surprised gasp, as if being the last two to leave was sheer coincidence. "Hey, Puck. What's up?"
The other boy shrugged, grunting out something noncommittal.
Kurt rolled his eyes. "Eloquent as always, I see." He took his opening. "Actually, you seemed a bit off today. What's up?"
Puck's gaze sharpened with suspicion, and he took a half-step back. "Nothin's wrong. What gave you that idea?"
"I noticed how much more peaceful things were without your constant innuendo, was all," Kurt said (and definitely did not tease). "I wasn't sure if-"
"…If you were alright."
"What would give you that idea?" Puck repeated with a glare, heavy with the defensiveness. "Besides, it's not like you care."
Kurt glared right back, unafraid to stand his ground. "You're right, I don't," he snapped. "I could care less about whatever teen emoting you're going through." He wisely didn't mention the looks he caught Puck shooting at Quinn and Sam, the couple who cuddled so much it was like borderline voyeurism, nor did he bring up Puck's stare-off with Santana and Brittany's laced pinkies. He was self-assured, sure, but he wasn't suicidal.
He draped his bag over one shoulder, gripping the strap with a death grip as he readjusted his bangs with one practiced flick of his wrist. "Well, I'd say it's been lovely, but…"
Just as Kurt began his totally-better-than-Rachel's dramatic storm-out, a hand latched onto his forearm. He froze, staring at the thick fingers bunching his cardigan with detached irritation. "Please, kindly unhand me. I don't know where you've been, and I don't want to catch anything."
Puck surprisingly didn't rise to the bait, which was probably a good thing for Kurt. He didn't need a crooked nose in his prom pictures, after all. The other boy looked down at the floor for a moment before muttering, "Wanna go hit up the bowling alley?"
Still pretty peeved, Kurt snapped back with a, "No thank you." He immediately sort of regretted when Puck looked slightly taken aback, and more than a little hurt, before he could hide behind his default scowl.
Puck retaliated with a casually brutal "What the fuck ever, Hummel." Kurt softened slightly, biting his lip with a wince. While Puck was being his usual self (read: so much of an ass that Kurt was tempted to tap that-bitch-slap that stupid expression off of Puck's unfairly chiseled mug, that is) Kurt wasn't one hundred percent innocent, either.
After all, it was common knowledge that Puck had the emotional range of a teaspoon (why yes, he was going through yet another one of his Harry Potter binges, why do you ask?) and for Kurt to expect something other than blatant denial, harshness and horrible covering-up from the jock was nothing short of ridiculous.
…Once a badass, always a badass, right? Kurt had to sigh at himself in disbelief, because really? Did he really just think that?
It was his turn to stop Puck in his tracks, placing his hand in the center of Puck's chest.
"I don't feel like bowling today, and my arm still hurts from Finn's failed attempt at an elementary partner-spin," he explained with a rueful smile. "But… would you like to come back to my place and watch a movie or something?"
Puck was speechlessly awkward, looking like he was trying to balance himself on a see-saw. Kurt didn't know why, but he helped the poor guy out. "Come on," he insisted. "It can be fun! Even if it doesn't involve bad-talking me into getting gutter-balls or disgusting nacho cheese. And you can even choose the movie." Kurt grinned when he saw the other boy's reservations begin to weaken. "I've got junk food and soda."
Puck's expression told Kurt that he already gave in, but for the sake of his badass image, or whatever crap Puck was trying to prove to himself or Kurt, he said, "I dunno… you got Hostess cakes?"
Kurt nodded. "I pretend to be oblivious to my dad's Debbie Cakes stashes around the house. He's got enough Ding-Dongs to kill the Wicked Witch twice over."
Puck smirked. "You're so fuckin' weird, but…" he dragged it out a bit, "I guess I'll come chill with you." The sigh that followed sounded like Puck was being asked to clean up after circus elephants or something, but Kurt graciously didn't take it to heart.
"Do you need directions to-"
"I know where you live," Puck interrupted.
Kurt blinked at him. The only thing keeping his eyebrows from hitting his hairline was the threat of wrinkle lines. "Well, that didn't sound like it belonged in a slasher film."
Puck rolled his eyes, looking a bit embarrassed. "I dropped Finn off once or twice before," he corrected. "So… be there by four?" Puck asked. "I gotta stop home and tell my ma where I'm goin', just in case she needed me to babysit or something."
Kurt nodded. "I'll see you."
When Puck found his stash of all released Harry Potter films, including one decent bootleg of The Deathly Hallows, they put the rather obvious issue of their non-friendship aside to fan boy over the series, from naming their favorite characters (from each book, that is) to comparing the movies to their written counterparts: the books were always better. Surprisingly, Puck agreed.
Kurt prided himself in concealing his surprise. Hey! This was the same guy who assumed women had prostates. (An embarrassed Finn told him about it one night over dinner, much to the amusement of Kurt and their parents.) Was it so bold of him to automatically jump to the conclusion that the only page-turners Puck owned were Playboys and Maxims?
They were in the middle of arguing over whether Remus and Sirius was a canon pairing or not (it so was!) when Kurt realized he'd gone more than five minutes without a) marveling over the fact that he was hanging out with Puck, his ex-tormentor, or b) wondering what the hell he thought he was doing, trying to make nice with someone like Puck.
Kurt kept the mini-freak-out at bay by reassuring himself that stranger things had happened. Besides, he had his OTP to defend.
"Draco and Harry, now that's canon," Puck insisted.
Kurt flailed. "So they can be snogging in the broom closet, but Remus and Sirius-both of whom never tried intentionally harming the other!-can't be having a secret love affair behind closed classroom doors?"
Puck laughed and chucked some popcorn at Kurt. "Dude, you just said snogging!"
Kurt shrieked in disbelief before taking some popcorn out of his hair and reaching over to stuff it down the front of Puck's shirt. Finn chose that moment to come barreling down the staircase, saying something about dinner being later before he sputtered to a halt halfway down.
Stranger things, indeed.
Kurt was stunned at the genuine disappointment he felt when Puck turned down a second movie night the following week.
"It's not that I don't want to," Puck said quickly, eyes shifting around the hall as if someone were spying on them. "It's just-I have Geometry shit I have to study for, and since Artie caught pneumonia I've been doing overtime trying to do it on my own."
"Why didn't you say so?" Kurt asked, smirking a bit when Puck looked relieved. He was looking at the textbook in Puck's hands when an idea caught him by surprise. "You know, I could help you study. If you want," he added.
Puck blinked at him. "No offense, but you don't look like a math genius-type."
Kurt scoffed. "While I'm no prodigy like Artie, I've got a good grip on the basics."
"A good grip, huh?" Puck waggled his eyebrows. Kurt prided himself in keeping his amusement reigned in, settling for an unimpressed frown. "I didn't know you knew math stuff."
"Yeah, well, there's a reason why I'm an honor roll student." Kurt sniffed. "So do you want my help or not? I'm not going to wait around all day for you to-"
"Sure," Puck agreed, grinning at Kurt's indignant glare. "Dude, you use way too much words, y'know that?"
Kurt rolled his eyes at Puck's atrocious grammar, but he found himself in light spirits. "That's my AP English speaking, I'm afraid. Can you keep up with me and my SAT vocabulary?" He teased, and-oh dear lord, was he flirting?
If Puck was surprised, he didn't show it. "Is that a challenge?" he smirked.
"Does a metaphor use direct comparison?" Kurt came back. He waited a beat and said, "I have study hall fifth period. We can study then, if you want."
Puck nodded. "I got lunch."
"You have lunch," Kurt corrected.
"I ain't askin' for an English tutor," Puck retorted. "'s what Spell Check's for."
Kurt shook his head. America.
Prom was every bit as overrated as Kurt expected it to be. He sat at the gleeks' delegated table, stirring his Shirley Temple with the plastic stirrer the maraschino cherry came impaled on (tackily shaped like a trident-this year's theme was Under the Sea) while he assessed and criticized everyone's outfits. Seriously, Karofsky? Coattails didn't work on everyone, much less on that bonehead.
He was just thinking of calling it an early night when someone plopped into the chair beside him. "Hey Kurt," Puck greeted with a nod. Kurt silently tipped his head in Puck's direction before he went back to the seriously depressing pastime of people-watching. Here he was, watching everyone else have fun while he stewed in bitterness.
Puck was quick to pick up on Kurt's mood. "Sup, Cinderella?" Puck teased. "Didn't find your Prince Charming?"
"What Prince Charming?" Kurt snapped. He really wasn't in the mood for Puck's playful jibes at the moment. No, he'd rather wallow in self-pity while sipping enough syrupy sweetness to rot all his teeth out. "In case you haven't noticed, my date is my girl best friend and my glass slippers are really uncomfortable wing-tipped shoes. If you find my fairy godmother, please let her know I want a full refund."
"You better hurry-I hear you got till midnight, satisfaction not guaranteed." Puck grinned and prodded Kurt's cheek with a pretzel. "What's up with you?"
"What's up with you?" Kurt countered. "Why are you so freaking cheery? Did you suddenly get a date I don't know about?"
"Jealous?" Puck quipped.
Kurt scoffed. "You wish."
"I swear I read this in a Drarry fan fic once," Puck joked, leaning on the back legs of his chair. "Seriously, though. What's got you so pissed?"
"In case you haven't noticed, I've been sitting and watching everyone else have the time of their lives while I stuff my face with second-rate hors d'œuvres and ruminate in my own angst!"
Puck stayed silent for a while, and he looked sort of nervous. "Jewfro got some guacamole stuffed down his Rent-A-Tux," he offered.
Kurt snorted, but said nothing.
A few tense minutes passed where neither boy said anything. Puck cleared his throat when the DJ picked the first slow song of the night. "Here we go," he said.
They watched the couples awkwardly spin around and collide into each other, like human bumper cars. "It seems I've wasted my time," Kurt sighed dramatically, watching as Mike spun so far out of control he ended up landing in-between another couple.
"Pity," Puck murmured, but he sounded more dazed than sympathetic.
Kurt turned and found the other boy staring at him. "…What?" He fixed his hair self-consciously.
Puck shook his head quickly, as if waking up from a dream. "Uh, nothin'," he said shortly. "Um… Do… uh, d'you want to d-"
"Kurt!" Mercedes called from the dance floor. "Bring your fine tush over here and dance with me!"
Kurt shook his head with a small smile. "I think I'm just gonna go home," he said over the music. He ignored her disappointed "C'mon!" and turned back to Puck. "Sorry, what were you saying?"
Puck winced, shaking his head. "Nothing, I… never mind."
"Alright," Kurt said, shrugging in confusion. "Hey, did you want to hang out or something? Unless you have a Cinderella no one else knows about," he jibed.
Puck smiled a little at that. "No," he said softly as he got up from his seat, "Cinderella's not for me."
Later, Kurt would end up staying awake half the night wondering what Puck meant by that.
Glee had a little winter holiday party-slash-present exchange a day before the actual last day of school, complete with festively-themed music numbers, wrapped presents tucked under the glam-ified baby grand, and vegan fruitcake (ew).
Kurt idly sucked on one end of a candy cane, admiring the respectable pile of gifts he'd gotten. He still didn't know what the hell Brittany's gift was-a back massager? A paperweight? He didn't think she'd actually give him a prostate stimulator in front of everyone else…
A tap on his shoulder stirred him from his thoughts, and he looked over to see Puck's smirking face. "Hi, Puck."
"So… I totally got you something."
Kurt chuckled at Puck's excited shuffling from foot to foot. "Oh yeah? Well, where is it? I didn't see it under the piano."
"I figured it'd be…" Puck licked his lips a little. "Sorta inappropriate to give you what I planned on." There was no mistaking the gleam in his eyes, and yet Kurt still found himself second-guessing all the dirty-flirty signals. (What did Cosmo know anyway?)
Kurt cleared his throat with a blush. "Um, so… then what'd you get me?"
Puck pulled a wrapped present from behind his back, small enough to fit in one hand. It was wrapped crooked, and the patches of Scotch tape made it look like a Frankenstein creation but it was the thought that counted, right? It wasn't like Kurt expected Puck to be Martha Stewart in disguise.
"It's nothin' too extreme," Puck explained awkwardly, scratching the back of his neck as Kurt carefully peeled the paper off of the package. The tacky red-and-green wrapping parted to reveal a Harry Potter video game. "I don't know if you even like this sorta stuff, but I saw your Wii when we watched that one musical that had Obi-Wan in it, and… I, um, figured we could maybe play it sometime? Together?" Puck asked in a rush, face pink.
Kurt felt like cooing, but he contained himself-only barely. Some of the gleeks were already watching them in curiosity; no need to add fuel to the flames, especially with that gossip-starved look Mercedes was shooting between the two of them when she thought Kurt wasn't watching.
"I-thank you, Puck," he said sincerely. A rush of warmth flowed through his veins and into his cheeks, leaving him tipsy on giddiness which was quickly quashed when he compared Puck's present to his own. (He'd gotten Puck one of those fur-lined hats with the earmuffs in Slytherin emerald: the other boy had always been whining about how cold his shaved head and his exposed ears got.)
He looked up from the plastic-coated game to shoot Puck a wide smile. "Thank you," he repeated. "I'd love to Expelliarmus and own your ass sometime."
"Psh, you sound pretty sure of yourself, Hummel."
"Scared, Potter?" Kurt countered.
Puck snorted in amused disbelief before countering with a, "You wish, Malfoy!"
Kurt smiled when Puck shuffled over to his locker during passing time the next day. "Hey Puck," Kurt greeted with maybe a bit too much enthusiasm. He still felt bad about the whole present fiasco-every time he looked at Puck, all he could see was a carefully happy smile that barely covered disappointment Kurt might've imagined. He shook himself out of his guilty musings, closing the locker door after checking his hair a final time. "What's up?"
Puck muttered something, as if giving himself a pep talk, before taking a deep breath and meeting Kurt's eyes. "You're coming to my Nana's house with me," he declared.
Kurt gaped at him for a moment, before he realized the ridiculous picture he must've made. "Um… excuse me? That wasn't a question," he said slowly.
Puck scratched the back of his neck and blew out a hiss of air. "Look, my Nana wants to meet you and I can't tell her no and-look, just come with me. Please? I'll be your man-slave when we come back from winter break," he sing-songed.
Kurt laughed, hoping the blush on his face wasn't as obvious as it felt. "Don't make a promise you can't keep," he warned playfully. "Wait-how does your Nana know about me?"
"I, uh… I might've told her you were, like, my friend. Or something." Kurt watched as Puck visibly melted into a puddle of embarrassment before his eyes.
This time he actually did sort of pity the poor, adorable doofus. So, with a What the hell mindset pushing him forward, Kurt said, "Fine. When?"
"And then he got down on one knee-right there in front of all my girlfriends!-and whipped out this stunning jewel," the elderly woman gushed, proudly displaying the obviously old but well-cared for ring perched on her left hand. "It's a family heirloom, but from my side of the family. When Joe came over to ask my Abba for his blessing, he had the engagement ring he'dgotten with the money he'd saved up from the pawn store in town. It was nice-Joe gave it to me for a Hanukkah present one year, but-"
"Nana," Puck whined from his spot on the couch, where he'd been banging the back of his head against the headrest for the past few minutes. "Please, can me and Kurt go now?"
"Noah, don't you dare take that tone with me!" she scolded with a fierce frown. "It's anyone's guess what manners your mother taught you, but you know better with me, young man!" Kurt hid his smile behind one hand, leaning back in his seat beside Puck. Puck's grandmother cleared her throat, adjusting the nosepiece of her oxygen machine while she offered Kurt a conspiratorially friendly grin. "Now, dear, where were we?"
"You were telling me about your engagement ring, Mrs. Puckerman," Kurt supplied with a polite smile of his own. Puck muttered something under his breath, but he obviously knew better than to interrupt again.
"Please, boychik, I told you-call me Miriam! It's only fair to be on familiar terms, considering how much Noah has told me about you," she teased, laughing herself into a coughing fit at Puck's reaction (sputtering and blushing until he was beet-red) and Kurt's expression (deer-in-headlights, wide-eyed shocked).
"Miss-Miriam," Kurt exclaimed, "Are you alright?"
She waved a hand at Kurt, struggling to catch her breath even as she chuckled. She daintily covered her mouth with a tissue as her hacking eased.
"Don't listen to her," Puck insisted, shooting a betrayed glare at his Nana. "She's just an old woman who needs a bit of drama in her life. She's always lying and shit when-"
"Noah Isaac Puckerman!" Miriam cried. "I would throw you over my knee and give you a spanking if I could! How dare you disrespect your elder! Don't you know how upset that makes me?" She asked, her large blue eyes wide and imploring, shining with the barest hint of tears.
Puck scowled down at his lap, cheeks pinking in embarrassment. "Sorry, Nana," he mumbled, "I didn't mean anything by it."
"Good," Miriam said with a sniff. "Now be the good boy I raised you to be and get your Nana a cup of tea."
She watched and waited until Puck turned the corner, spinning back around to smile at Kurt. All of a sudden, Kurt discovered where Puck got his shark-like smile from. "Now, Kurt. I don't mean to embarrass you boys-well, I didn't mean to embarrass you," she corrected, surprising Kurt into laughter. "But on a more serious note... I'm under the impression that my little Noah cares about you." Kurt flushed, opening his mouth to speak only to have Miriam beat him to the punch. "While my grandson doesn't tell me everything-because that's just how teenagers are-he tells me enough. I'm not a moron, Kurt. I realize you boys are young, your lives and the world ahead of you, and there's nothing more appealing than a chance at love."
"Wai-what? Love?" Kurt scoffed it off. "Miss-I mean, Miriam!-We don't-Puck's just a friend," he insisted desperately. "We're… we're just friends. Nothing more-if anything, we're lessthan that."
Miriam gave him a greatly unimpressed frown. "Don't try to pull a fast one on me. I wasn't born yesterday. Obviously," she grinned self-depreciatingly.
"You don't look a day over fifty," Kurt reassured.
Miriam blinked at him, frowning a bit. "I sure hope not, since I am fifty."
Kurt floundered, cheeks rapidly turning red. "I-"
"I'm kidding, Kurt!" she cried, slapping her knees with a grin. "Goodness, Puck was right-you are too easy."
She didn't say it rudely, but it made Kurt freeze nonetheless. "Um… if you don't mind my asking M… Miriam," he stuttered, "But-what has Puck told you about me, exactly?" Probably about how girly and sparkly he was, knowing the other boy. Kurt frowned, because what Miriam had been told would've probably cast him a bad light.
"Oh, nothing much," Miriam said breezily, her hand waving around like a falling leaf. "Just how freaking awesome you are, and how you're still pretty awesome despite all the crap you spew. That's heavily censored and edited, mind you," she chuckled. "Congratulations on getting first honor roll, by the way!"
Kurt could only gape. "Puck told you-"
"What about me?" Puck asked as he walked back in with a saucy grin. "My awesome guns, or my ridiculous hotness?"
"Oh, you're ridiculous alright," Kurt quipped in an effort to cover up the pink flush to his cheeks. "Don't you know it's rude to listen in on others' conversations?"
"Sorry, just wanted to make sure my crazy Nana hasn't tried choking you with her breathing rope," Puck retorted, reaching over to tousle Kurt's hair.
"Jerk!" Kurt screeched, fingers running through his stuck-up locks. "You big… stupid… jerk!"
Puck grinned and made to pull Kurt into a noogie, but the tea kettle whistled from the kitchen. He huffed, backing off when his Nana slapped his side. "You're a lucky man, Hummel. This isn't over!" he threatened dramatically as he backed out of the room.
They waited for the sound of footfalls on linoleum before Miriam grinned at Kurt, reaching over to hold his hands in her own wizened, wrinkled ones. He looked down at their conjoined hands-his baby-smooth and pale; hers like delicately plated velvet, emblazoned with spidery veins.
"Listen boychik, one day... whether you and Noah are together as friends or family, whatever God decides, I hope you'll look back and realize that this old girl knew what she was talking about."
Miriam interrupted him with an impatient shake of her head. "Just wait and see."
Kurt hesitated, opening his mouth but not knowing what he was supposed to say to that. He settled for a small smile. "Yes Miriam," he agreed, for the simple sake of agreeing. "I will."
Kurt nodded, giggling. "Yes! I promise."
"Good." She squeezed his hands once with a tearful laugh before letting go.
She was dabbing at her eyes with a Kleenex when Puck walked back into the living room. He looked from her to Kurt, frowning. "...What's up?" he asked cautiously.
"Oh, nothing! Come give your Nana a kiss, Puck. You boys had better get a move on. I hear Lima's expecting a heck of a snowstorm this evening, and I don't want you to get caught in a blizzard!"
Puck slowly walked over and set a mug of steaming tea on the coffee table, kissing his Nana on the cheeks and the lips and letting her fuss over him for a moment.
"Nana, enough!" Puck complained, but there was an indulgent half-smile on his face when his grandmother finally set him free. "Crap, woman-you coulda smothered me."
"Oh stop being such a child, Noah. Kurt!" She gestured for him to walk over to her chair, making an impatient noise when Kurt went to argue. "Come on, humor this woman, would you? It's not every day I have such lovely young men in my house," she said fondly, before a smirk tugged at her coral-pink lips. "…It was nice of you to come along too, Noah."
Kurt laughed at Puck's indignant scoff, walking over and bending down to give Miriam a quick hug-and-kiss goodbye. "It was nice meeting you."
"Noah, weak heart be damned, if you don't bring Kurt over again-and soon!-I will chase you down and beat you with my oxygen tank!"
"Yes, Nana," Puck huffed, slipping into his jacket. He turned to Kurt. "I'm gonna go warm up the truck while you get into your frilly little windbreaker and lace up your hooker-boots."
"Peacoat!"Kurt rolled his eyes as the door slammed shut behind him. "It's a peacoat, not a windbreaker! I only told you fifty times." He sighed and sat on the edge of the sofa to tie up his boots. When he glanced up, he found Miriam staring at him with a wicked glint in her eye. "...What?"
"Nothing, Kurt. Nothing at all," she said, giggling to herself as she pulled a basket full of yarn and knitting supplies out from underneath the coffee table. Kurt felt left out of an inside joke, but he shrugged it off. Maybe Miriam was getting a bit senile or something.
He went back to his boots as Miriam cried, "Oh! Before you leave, pack up some Tupperwares with my soup. Ah, ah, ah!" She waved her finger at Kurt when he went to politely decline. "I'm not asking you, I'm telling you. Take enough for your family and Noah and the girls. Heaven knows he needs all the sustenance he can get," she muttered. "My daughter can cook about as well as Noah can keep out of trouble."
He smiled in understanding as he got up. "Thank you, Miriam."
She nodded as she pushed a pair of ridiculously large reading glasses onto her nose before working on what Kurt assumed was an afghan. "Get a move on, Kurt! Don't want Noah to get impatient," she laughed.
Kurt left Puck's Nana's home with a smile on his face, rolling his eyes when Puck greeted him with five honks of his horn. "I'm not going to sprint, you cretin!" he shouted as he maneuvered down the driveway. "There's ice!"
Puck greeted him with a "finally" and didn't even wait for Kurt to slam his door shut before he took off down the street like a bat out of hell. Kurt shot him a glare as he buckled up, shoving the plastic shopping bag onto the seat between them. Puck glanced over at it, smirking slightly. "Awesome, Nana's chicken-turkey soup! I almost forgot. Thanks," he said to Kurt, smiling a bit.
Kurt snorted, warming his hands in front of one of the vents. "Thank your Nana. She practically threatened me to take some with me."
Puck laughed. "You'll be glad when you try some. It's fuckin' awesome."
"I was wondering how long it'd take you to start dropping the f-bomb again," Kurt mused out loud. "I still can't believe you forced me into meeting your grandmother. You're going to lose your badass rep if you're not careful," Kurt warned with a grin.
Puck snorted. "Like. Hell." He turned a corner, glancing at Kurt for a split second. "She said I'd changed since school started.
They hit a red light at the intersection, and as they waited for the light to change Puck turned his head towards Kurt. "So... what were you talking about? Before, I mean."
Kurt gave Puck a long, assessing look, smirking as Puck frowned at him in annoyance. "What?" Puck snapped. "Do I got somethin' on my face?"
Kurt shook his head, laughing. "It was just some adult-talk you couldn't even begin to comprehend."
They spent the entire drive home arguing over it-well, until Kurt turned on the radio; then they argued over what station to put on. Either way, when Puck pulled up to the Hudmel home, Kurt felt like the thirty-minute drive took five minutes, if that. He didn't know what to say to Puck as he let himself out of the car, and Puck looked just as lost for words.
"...Well," Kurt finally said, "I guess I'll see you...?" He blushed at the questioning lilt in his voice.
"Yeah, sure." Puck blinked, frowning at Kurt like he was a Rubik's cube to be solved. Kurt went to slam the door shut when Puck held out his hand, shouting, "Wait!" Kurt barely saved the other boy's arm from being crushed, raising an eyebrow in irritation. Puck floundered for a moment before pulling one of the containers of soup out of the Sam's Club grocery bag. "You-um, you forgot this."
Kurt made a soft "oh" of realization and reached out to grab the Tupperware from Puck. When the tips of their fingers touched Kurt slowed to a stop, watching as Puck made a small noise in the back of his throat. They stayed like that for a tense moment before Puck muttered, "Screw it!" He leaned forward to give Kurt a quick peck on the cheek.
Kurt blinked at the embarrassed-looking jock, his jaw slack. He set the soup on the car seat before it fell out of his clammy hands. "Puck… what was that?"
Puck made a face, scratching the back of his neck. "I dunno, I just-you were definitely giving off some vibes, man! You-"
Kurt smirked, hefting himself back into the cab of the truck. "You missed," he said simply before pressing their lips together.
Burt walked into the den with a can of beer (hey, what Kurt or Carole didn't know wouldn't hurt 'em), starting when he noticed Finn standing frozen in front of the window. "Finn, what the heck're ya doin'?"
Finn turned from where he was watching Puck drag Kurt back into the truck, eyes wide as the passenger door was slammed shut again-with Kurt inside. "Uh-um, n-nothing!" he stuttered, clearing his throat. "Nah, I thought I saw Patches peeing on the lawn again, but... false alarm," he laughed weakly.
Burt shook his head in annoyance. "I keep tellin' the cops to get that guy to a homeless shelter, or even the loony-bin, but do they listen? No!" He sighed and plopped back into his trusty recliner. "C'mon Finn, we got another hour of Deadliest Catch before your mom comes home from work. Let's enjoy it while we can, yeah?"
Finn returned the playful grin with a happy, dopey smile of his own. Still, he couldn't un-see Puck playing tonsil-hockey with his stepbrother. He shuddered as he drew the blinds closed.Someone was gonna get a "Hurt my brother, die a slow, painful death" talk after winter break was up.
"'Ey babe," Puck greeted as he walked into the kitchenette. He kissed the shell of Kurt's ear as he hugged the man from behind, looking down into the pot of soup Kurt was patiently stirring.
Kurt smiled and leaned back against Puck's chest. "Hello. How was-"
"The same," he muttered into the crook of Kurt's neck. "I tried to do my job, and Mr. Bigshot Boss-Man did everything under the sun to make it a miracle I closed up before midnight."
"Well, at least you're home now." Kurt glanced over at the cardboard box in Puck's hands, letting out an exasperated groan. "Oh my god Puck, how many times do I have to tell you, I donot need anymore pie!"
Puck grinned as he opened the box behind Kurt's back. "Well, it ain't pie," he said, holding a macaron to Kurt's pursed lips. "C'mon, open up! It's your favorite. Denise gave 'em to me just for you!"
Kurt heaved a put-upon sigh, but the smile on his face belied him. He wrapped his lips around the tiny pastry and, consequentially (accidentally-honestly!), Puck's fingers as well. "Mmm," he hummed, tickling the side of Puck's finger with his tongue before pulling away to crunch into the chocolaty meringue. "Well, it's one of my favorites."
Puck kissed the side of Kurt's lips, catching a bit of chocolate at the seam of Kurt's mouth. He hugged the other man close as he peered into the bubbling depths of the pot. "Soo... whatcha makin'?"
"What does it look like?" Kurt asked with amusement. "Grab some bowls, it's already done."
Puck did as he was told, washing up a bit at the kitchen sink before he took a knife to the sourdough he'd brought home (from the bakery next door). He set a few slices in the middle of the set table, grabbing the empty glasses and pouring cola into one and Kurt's foofy mineral water into the other.
Kurt ladled steaming chicken-turkey soup into the bowls Puck passed him before covering the large pot and wiping his hands off on a dish towel. After a beat, he glanced over at Puck. "Well?"
Puck took a slurp of the soup that was identical to his Nana's… not that he'd tell Kurt that. He took his time answering, smacking his lips together with a pensive look on his face. "Almostperfect," was his verdict. He laughed as Kurt playfully thwacked him over the head with the handle of a spoon. "Ow-you wench!"
"I'll show you a wench, you ass," Kurt teased, pulling out his chair. He reached for the bowl Puck offered him, "hmm?"-ing when Puck's grip tightened.
Puck reached over the small dining table to peck Kurt's lips, smiling as he did so. The other man gave him a slow smile as Puck leaned back in his chair, letting go of the bowl. "Did I get it right this time?" he asked.
Kurt laughed and set his bowl down on the table. "I don't know," he said slowly. He was watching Puck from under his lashes as he blew on a spoonful of hot broth, a suggestive pucker to his lips. "I think we might have to… evaluate after dinner."
Puck grinned the Patent Puckerman Grin, which really was part-shark-Kurt was sure of it. "Yeah?"
Kurt smiled down at his bowl of soup as a foot tickled his calf under the table. "We'll just have to wait and see. Now," he said, "Tell me all about what Big, Bad Boss-Man did to baby today."