Every sound around Puck was amplified. The scuffing of his converse along the concrete echoed loudly. It bounced off the walls of the empty park structure. He glanced down at his watch and cringed. It was just before 2 am. His ma had to be up at 3 am for her shift at the diner. There was no way he was going to be able to sneak his knuckles by her. The dark red spot on his neck would definitely bloom into a full-out badass bruise but he figured that the dark lighting of their living room would hide it for now.

Pressing a probing finger into the tender area, he hissed loudly. That beefy guy from his fight club had gotten a few good hits in but in the end Puck was the one riding the wave of victory home that night. His ma's nagging would be stifled by the righteous victory.

The bounce in his step was interrupted when his left foot collided with a thin white headphone cord. He braced his fall against one of the nearest columns. Sweet! His day couldn't get better. Free ipod. The face was a bit scratched but other than that it looked okay. It was cold against the thin fabric of his jeans and it bounced happily in his pocket.

He turned the corner and exited onto the street. The soft sprawl of the street lights made the thin back alley glow. It was the kind of quiet that made you feel out of breath because your exhalations seemed so loud. He thrust his hands deep into his pockets and hunched his back against the cold, biting wind. He was almost through the alley when he heard the screech. The hair on the back of his neck prickled in fear and panic. The screech was followed by the sick whine that sounded like a cat taking its last breath.

He crept around the dumpster and closed his eyes. He took a few seconds to silently pray that he wouldn't have to be the one to put an animal out of its misery. The sound that broke out loudly made Puck's eyes snap open. The huddled mass was covered in blood. The clothing was caked in mud and a soft whimpering sounded horribly like please, not again, please. His hand hovered over the bracing back and before he could feel the dirty cotton against his palm the person flinched harshly. He softened his posture and crouched down.

"Hey, are you okay?"

The usually sharp blue eyes met Puck's. Puck scrambled back, falling over his feet and landing hard on the asphalt. His face was almost unrecognizable but Puck would know those eyes anywhere. A thick rush of anger mixed with the relief of Kurt not recoiling from him the second time.

"Kurt, buddy, we need to get you to a hospital."

It took three tries but Puck was finally able to get through to 911 and tell them what was happening. Puck watched as the relief made Kurt's fight leave him. His eyes dulled a bit and his breathing slowed. Puck saw a small smile on Kurt's lips before he reached toward him. The fingers were wet with blood and rough with the grit of the pavement. The lips that found the top of his hand soothed away the fight that always seemed to live under Puck's skin. His hand cupped Kurt's cheek and relished in the heavy press of his head lolling against it. They stayed that way until the sirens blared into the silence.

The paramedics worked quickly. They danced a macabre dance of the sickening blur of collars and having trouble finding a pulse. Soon they were pulling Puck towards the ambulance. He saw Kurt's eyes drift to the pavement and rest on Puck's midsection. Staring at the thin, white wire hanging loosely from his pocket. He shot up and flung the oxygen mask off his face. His voice was scream-roughened and hoarse.

"My ipod? My dad... tell my father."

Kurt's voice broke and he shook his head like he was trying to rearrange his thoughts. Puck saw the moment he gave up. In all his years of partying and generally fucking around, he had never seen someone actually lose consciousness in front of him. He could live the rest of his life never seeing anything like it again. Kurt's eyes violently rolled up and his body fell against the stretcher with a sickening crunch of stiff sheets. The thin green elastic of the oxygen mask went to rest against the already bluing bruises on his neck. The quiet rush of oxygen was overtaken by the loud bustle of activity.

He sat through the sounds of Kurt choking on his own blood. Sat through the sounds of Kurt's clothes being cut off of his body. Sat through the loud, steady pulse of a flatline and the shocked triple beep of a heart coming back to life. He sat though all this with his eyes fixed to the bottom edge of the ambulance door. Because of what he saw when he glanced over to watch the second paramedic close the door. Because of what he didn't see before.

From the dumpster back into the darkness of parkade he could retrace his steps. His thick footprints ran next to a thin broken trail. Both of them were painted in Kurt's blood.

.

The emergency room was practically deserted. The small television bolted to the wall droned out some infomercial about how you could get toned abs with just three easy payments of $29.95. A woman clutched a wheezing toddler to her chest. An old man was sleeping with his chin resting on his chest. The cracked orange chairs creaked with every anxious shift. The smell of stale coffee burned its way into his sinuses and stayed there. He was grateful for that because it erased the coppery, metallic tang of blood that sat in the back of his throat.

Sitting down roughly on the chair, Puck rested his head against the sea foam green wall. He closed his eyes, waiting for the blood to stop rushing in his ears and the panic to go away. His mind raced as he thought about the fact that Kurt's heart had stopped beating. The heart that fought every day, that carried all the memories of gentle mothers and loving fathers, the one that could make Defying Gravity into the most beautiful song Puck had ever heard. For two minutes, it had stopped. For two minutes, the world lost Kurt Hummel. For two minutes, Puck had lost him too. Bile rose in his throat as he thought about what could have happened if he hadn't been walking down that alley.

He was pulled out of his thoughts by a light tug on the hem of his pants. Looking down he saw the toddler had crawled across the room. He watched as the kid's face shifted from one of determination to one of victory as he pulled himself up to stand next to Puck's leg. His tiny hand clung desperately to the fabric and it felt nice. Puck liked the idea of someone needing him to keep upright. Wide, inquisitive eyes gazed up at him and he wondered for a minute if Kurt's eyes had ever been that blue.

The small, upturned mouth latched onto his own hand and managed to pull a tiny fist full of Puck's jeans in as well. He watched in awe as the boy's bottom teeth chewed against the denim. In the background he faintly heard the intake nurse call for the baby's mother and was pulled back to reality as two firm hands lift the boy away from him. Over his mother's shoulder, he waved goodbye to Puck. It wasn't until Puck raised his hand to wave back that he noticed the blood flaking off of it.

The cold water made the sink run pink. He watched as the swirls moved to lap against the ebb of water and he cringed as the sickly sweet smell of the hospital soap hit him. Most of it came off easily but he soon found himself struggling. The blood had etched itself deep into his nail beds and his cuticles were red. The floral soap soon overwhelmed him and he knew that he had done all he could do for the night.

Standing in the small bathroom he studied himself hard in the mirror, for the first time in a long time. It amazed him just how much you could change in one night. He saw the fine lines etched around his eyes. He saw the laugh lines that were fading from lack of use. He saw the deep red that tore across the whites of his eyes. He saw his shoulders sagging under the weight of a secret. He had always thought that his secret was the worst thing that could ever happen to him. Now in his reflection, he can see Kurt's blood on his neck and realizes how wrong he was.

When he made it back to the waiting room, it was completely empty. The light painted his skin green and he wished he could be at home. Waking his ma up for work and listening to her nag him about staying out so late on a school night. He thought about making Maggie breakfast and wished that was his biggest worry.

They make him wait a long time. They don't answer any of his questions, they don't even look at him until there's a loud rush of the door being slammed open followed by the frantic footsteps of heavily booted feet. The man smelled like motor oil and radiated warmth.

His large forearms braced themselves on the intake desk and Puck could see his knuckles were white. The tight line of his lips reminded Puck of Kurt and it hits him quickly that this is the famous Burt Hummel.

"My son, Kurt Hummel. Where is he? What the hell happened?"

"Mr. Hummel, calm down. He's in surgery right now and the doctor will be out to speak to you shortly."

Puck could see the defeated slump of Burt's shoulders. He was about to introduce himself when the nurse finally directed her attention to him.

"Mr. Puckerman?"

"Yeah?"

"You brought him in, correct?"

"Yeah. I was the one that found him."

"Did you touch the body?" The nurse's voice slowed and dropped an octave.

"What? Yeah, I touched him."

"And your knuckles are scrapped?"

"Yeah. I got into a fight before I found him." Puck was confused and not sure where she was going with this.

"Mr. Puckerman, I'm not sure how to say this, but we know about Mr. Hummel and we need to know if you want to get tested?"

"Tested? What the fuck for?"

"You had blood to blood contact with someone who is openly homosexual. We need to know if you want to be tested for blood-borne diseases."

"What the fuck does being gay have to do with it?"

Puck could see the nurse's mouth open to respond, but she was quickly cut off by Burt's fuming voice.

"This woman is trying to say something without saying it. She wants to know if you're worried Kurt might have given you HIV."

Puck watched as the nurse shrunk back from Burt's stare.

"Right? That's what you wanted to know. So ask him again."

The nurse could clearly see that Burt wasn't going to just let it lie there. When she finally did talk again, her voice quivered.

"Mr. Puckerman, do you want to be tested for HIV?"

"Why, because he got some blood on me? No. Fuck, man, I've gotten more dick than him."

He could see Burt smirk as he walked past him and Puck couldn't stop himself from turning around.

"By the way, that was a real dickhead thing to ask."

When he met Burt back in the waiting room, Burt gestured for him to sit beside him. After a few minutes, Puck felt the dig of sharp metal against his leg. It's only then he remembered about what Kurt asked him to do. He slid the ipod out of his pocket and chuckled at the picture Kurt used as his wallpaper.

Kurt's eyes were bright with laughter and Mercedes was pressing a sloppy kiss to his cheek. Puck remembered that night. It was after the Sectional win. Santana threw a party and everyone ended up a little bit tipsy. It was first time he let anyone know his secret. He remembered the rush of fear and courage that mixed in his veins. He thought that Santana remembered but she hadn't used it against him yet so he couldn't be quite sure.

Puck scrolled through the song list and saw the name John Barrowman. It sounds familiar and the title matched what Kurt said so it must be the right song. His picture flashed up with the album art and Puck knew him as the guy that fucks anything that moves on that alien show. Rachel made him watch it when they were going out. He pulled out the earbuds and handed one to Burt.

"Kurt wanted me to get you to listen to this. It was the last thing he said to me before..."

Burt just nodded and pushed the headphone in his ear. Puck did the same and pressed play.

Tell my father that his son,

Didn't run, or surrender,

That I bore his name with pride,

As I tried to remember,

You are judged by what you do,

While passing through

Burt's eyes locked with his and they both realized what this meant. With what he thought was his last breath, this was Kurt saying goodbye.

Tears fell down both their cheeks and Puck put the song on repeat. They sat like that for two hours. Their knees bouncing nervously against each others. Waiting for news.

.

The voice that chimed over their heads seemed too young and too cheery to be a doctor. His scrubs were blue and Puck could see the outlines of sweat that made the fabric darken. His hands seemed steady and firm enough to fix things. It's the first time during this whole thing Puck felt hope spark in his chest. The tight grip against his heart went lax for a second. This was the kind of man his mother always wanted him to be. The kind that got things done and fixed things when they were broken. The fist clenched fiercely as he glanced down and noticed the small spot of blood on the doctors white shoe.

Kurt's blood. The same stuff that clung to his cuticles and burned his skin. The same stuff that the nurse thought he was supposed to be afraid of. The same stuff that made Kurt flush a light pink when he was nervous or excited. Kurt was on his hands and on the doctor's shoes.

His eyes crossed as his intense focus pulled his gaze to the floor. While Puck thought about white sheets and stained hands, he heard the soft lilting voice explaining Kurt's condition. Bruised ribs, sprained wrist, contusions, swelling of his brain. They floated around him in a haze until Burt's pained gasp broke through the surface.

Severed ligaments in his left foot. With intensive rehab and a determined patient, he would heal. But the best they could hope for was a slightly visible limp. If Kurt did wake up, he would never really dance again.

The ICU was almost completely empty. Puck could feel the push of death and pain hanging over them. His breath caught in his throat when he saw Kurt. His injuries were more obvious when they weren't obscured by blood. Puck watched from the door as Burt collapsed in the chair next to Kurt. He watched as pain tore through Burt's back and settled in his neck. He rested his forehead against the top of Kurt's hand and let silent sobs wrack his shoulders.

Everything in Puck told him this was his out. He could leave now and just be the punk kid that found the gay kid from glee in the alley. He could be the man that his mother always told him he'd be. He could be his father's son. But then he thought about how beautiful Kurt looked when he was arguing with someone about something he loved. He thought about the few times one of his crude jokes forced a startled guffawing laugh and an open smile from the other boy. He thought about all that and knew what he had to do.

Walking further into the room, he watched as Burt's shoulders shook and Kurt's chest rose with every breath. Watching the thin line pulse in a steady beat, he sat down and laced his fingers through Kurt's still hand. The pale skin was marred by angry red scrapes but Puck covered them with the wide expanse of his thumb.

They both stayed that way until the sun painted the walls orange. Puck's hips protested as he sat up straight. His body screamed at him for sleeping in the hard-backed chair and for the three times he'd woken with a start during the night. Three times he dreamed of blood and thought he felt the comforting squeeze of Kurt's fingers. Three times he was disappointed and his father's blood told him to run.

Watching the orange glow play in Kurt's hair, he was glad he'd stayed. When the one you love needs you, you stay by their side. He doesn't remember any stipulations about that person needing to know how much you love them or for that person to even know that you were the kind of boy that could love them.

Friday morning was taken over by the bustle of doctors and tests. Saturday was lost in a whirl of bad weekend television. Sunday was football and more tests. Sunday night was a fitful sleep with Kurt's ipod playing in his ear.

Sunday night was the night Puck decided to let go of secrets and face the consequences of honesty.

Monday morning was looming and Puck was coming out.

.

Walking out into the bright sunlight, pain tore through Puck's chest. His stomach lurched and he heaved starchy cafeteria food into the bushes by the hospital entrance. His legs forced his body forward even though every inch of him ached to be back up in the sterile ICU room with Kurt.

Monday morning had come quick and Puck found himself reluctant to leave Kurt's side. It would be the first time since all this started. Burt gave him a look that showed that he meant business. Puck could stay with Kurt as long as he wanted but he sure as hell wasn't missing school. Puck pretended not to notice the way Burt's voice broke when he talked about Kurt needing his homework when he woke up.

When he woke up. They had both been clinging to that phrase since early Saturday morning, when the doctor took away the drugs keeping Kurt in a medically induced coma. They had spoken about the future. They talked about Kurt's rehabilitation and recovery. They had to talk in the when because every minute that passed without Kurt's fingers twitching or his eyelashes fluttering the if fought to claw its way in. The grim thought that maybe Puck had been too late. The crushing possibility that Burt failed to protect Kurt from the world. When Kurt woke up, Puck planned on being honest with him. Honest with everyone.

The resolution had come to him right after the midnight shift change had checked in for the first time, and Burt's snores cut through the tense silence. Puck curled himself deep into the soft chair his favorite nurse, Emily, had been able to sneak past the crotchety old bat that ran the desk. The soft glow of Kurt's ipod was the only light in the room and Kurt's steady heartbeat mixed with the music. The heavenly sound of life and Lisa Hannigan lulled Puck into a swimming sleep.

The next thing Puck heard was crackling cheering. His body flung forward and his eyes settled on Kurt's pale skin. He eased himself back into the chair and thanked God that he hadn't woken Burt with his strangled gasp.

The cheering mixed with chanting and Puck's brow furrowed as he realized what he was listening to, a rally of some kind. The screen told him it was some guy named Milk. Puck had to turn the volume up almost the entire way to hear the man's voice over the roaring crowd. Tears filled his eyes as the man's words hit him in the chest. He was talking about giving people hope and that electing gay people gave the us's the chance to dream.

He spent the next hour listening to all the speeches the guy had ever given. Harvey Milk talked about how people were less likely to take away the rights of gay people or sit back as gay people were attacked if they knew one of them. Knew that it could be their brother, their son, their family. Puck sat dumbstruck as the last recording resounded in his ears.

To be played only in the event of my assassination... If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door in the country.

Watching Kurt sleep made Puck think of the future. How long he would take to heal? Would he even want to be with Puck after he was awake? Would Puck be enough? He realized that wasn't what mattered right now. All that mattered was honesty and seeing the bright blue sparkle of Kurt's eyes again.

On the ride home, he fought the pull of a good night's sleep and his vision blurred as he pulled into his driveway. His ma was on the night shift every Sunday, so he had a good hour and a half before she got home. Maggie was sleeping on the couch, curled up with Mr. Hug 'n Stuff. A frown marred her face. Even in sleep, Puck could tell she was worried. Mr. Hug hadn't made an appearance since the great Return of Papa Puckerman that ended after a brief brush with sobriety was abandoned.

He grabbed a banana from the kitchen counter and ate it as he wandered around the empty house. He saw his childhood etched in the cheap Wal-Mart wallpaper. He saw first grade pictures that he had to dress up for even though they didn't have the money to buy them. At six years old, even he knew that the messily scrawled cheque was going to bounce. Remembers the sick feeling of having to accept the money to pay for them from Miss Goulden. He saw the drunken fist fights and the splattering of blood that always accompanied him getting in the way. He felt Maggie's muffled cries against his shoulder as they hid in the laundry room, listening to the curses in Hebrew and breaking dishes. Terrifying cracks of glass hitting the wall.

The shower door was covered in so much soap scum that you couldn't see through the frosted glass. But the water was hot enough to send the slight tingle of too much through his back. The deafening, relentless pound of water was loud enough to drown out the thoughts that raced. The sick musk of hospital clean and days spent sleeping in his clothes chased each other down the drain. After a solid half an hour, Puck emerged from the steam with loose shoulders and the kind of tired that rubbed against your bones.

He wedged himself into the small space between Maggie and the thrift store couch. Her reed thin arm shot out and curled around his waist as she turned into him. His chin rested against the top of her head and he let himself doze beside his baby sister until he heard the lock slide in the door. The clock chimed loudly that it was 7 am and the bright light hurt Puck's eyes.

Pressing a firm kiss against Maggie's hair, Puck stood up to face his mother.

Eye to eye and face to face, Puck told her the truth. She reacted just like he thought she would.

.

The full weight of his backpack fought him while he tried to walk through the parking lot with his shoulders squared. He was carrying his life on his back and the only thing keeping him sane was the mission he had given himself. His eyes scanned the lot, desperately seeking thick framed glasses and an ill-kempt jewfro. He saw that little weasel crouched down behind the wall that led to one of the portables. He should have known that little creeper would be there. That was the place everyone would come to sneak a little sex into the day. After the Santana/Brittney debacle in the janitors closet, it was the only place left on campus that didn't have a lock on the door.

Jacob was so entranced by what he was watching that he didn't hear Puck approach him. Curiosity got the best of him and he peeked over Jacob's shoulder. There wasn't much in this world that could truly shock Puck anymore, but he felt his mouth fall open anyway. Finn was macking on a chick that wasn't Rachel. Finn's back was to the door and blocking most of the view but from his ill advised foray into dating Rachel Berry, he knew that her moans were like her singing. Loud, slightly shrill and clearly like she was trying too hard. Exaggerated for maximum effect.

This girl had soft breathy gasps that fell between deep-throated groans of pleasure. Light mumblings filled the room but they were too quiet to make out the conversation. It wasn't until brightly colored fingernails played along the back of Finn's neck that Puck realized who his boy was making time with. As soon as he did, he pulled Jacob up by the back of his shirt and forced him into the far corner. His protests were muffled against Puck's hand until he saw the pair leaving from the corner of his eye.

Jacob's eyes flashed with fear and his hand clenched wildly against his notebook. Puck let him go and straightened out his shirt.

"Listen up, you're gonna forget everything you saw in there. They'll talk about it when they're ready."

"Puck, you clearly can't expect me to overlook this truly epic scoop. I mean the quarterback with..."

Puck seized him by the collar again and glared.

"You can and you will. Besides I'm about to hand you an even better story."

"What could be better that a sordid sexual liaison between Finn Hudson and Mercedes Jones?"

Jacob flinched when the smirk broke out on Puck face.

"How about outing one of the studliest football players in McKinley history?"

Puck watched as the news hit Jacob and barely missed catching him when he fainted into Puck's arms. Perfect. By lunch, everyone would know. Walking into the school, Puck felt lighter than he ever had before. Despite the fact that he still needed to tell everyone about what happened to Kurt.

.

Word spread quickly and by third period he had been slushied eight times, hit on by three different guys and two girls offered to fuck the gay out of him. But surprisingly, the entire glee club had been silent. Santana threw him a small smile but other than that it was a day like any other day, to everyone else.

Puck could feel the void. The wide, gaping hole left by the fashionable soprano. Puck looked like he was walking through the thin, cruel halls of William McKinley High School but he was actually two miles away and four floors up. In the sterile white room, with Kurt's chest rising subtly with each breath and the reassuring beep of the heart monitor.

Puck spent his afternoon hiding in the nurses' office and finally getting the sleep that had been alluding him since early Friday morning. The nurse was sweet to him for the first time in a year and actually gave him a purple lollipop when he heard the final bell ring.

The comforting slide of sugar and grape rolled on his tongue as he walked into the music room and went to face the rest of the club. As he took his seat in the back, his eyes stayed fixed to the empty chair between Mercedes and Finn. From this angle he could usually see the quirk of a smile or the downturn of a grimace the moment before it broke across Kurt's usually stoic features. Now all he saw was empty space and was hit with the harsh fact that this was reality. Kurt was really hurt and he might not come back. He fought back shocked tears as Mr. Schue walked into the room with his head down and his chin shaking lightly.

"Guys, I have some bad news. Principal Figgin's just let me know that Mr. Hummel called. Kurt's in the hospital." Mr. Schue cleared his throat as the room erupted into a cacophony of noise, but soon Mercedes' shrill voice penetrated the din.

"Do you know what happened?" Her voice quaked and Puck saw Finn reach his hand out towards her before remembering his place and pulling his hand back to rest on his lap.

"All I know is that he was very badly hurt and it's all touch and go at the moment."

Puck saw Mr. Schue start to flip through the sheet music in his hands before nodding like that was the end of the discussion. Obviously, Mr. Figgin's hadn't passed on Burt's message. It was Puck's job to let the people Kurt cared about the most know about what had happened. It was the first time he was going to have to say it out loud. He cleared his throat lightly and raised a tentative hand.

"Uh, Mr. Schue, I think there are a few thing I should say." Puck was on his feet before Schue could stop him by spouting some bullshit about it not being the right time. The heat of the club's gaze burned at Puck's skin and made him feel the way he felt the first time one of his cougars made pool cleaning into a euphemism.

"If you want to know about what happened I can tell you guys what I know." Puck paused as he saw Mercedes consider just how he knew anything. Puck's eyes focused on the Hang In There poster at the back of the room and his gaze clouded as he remembered that night.

"I found him. Behind a dumpster off Market Street. They hurt him. They hurt him real bad." Tears welled behind his eyes, but once the floodgates had opened there was nothing he could do.

"Three days, man. It's been three fuckin' days and he still hasn't woken up. They keep saying that his brain is fine. That he'll wake up when he's ready. Some shit about instinctively withdrawing from trauma. But fuck, three goddamn days."

Puck started to pace. Running his hand furiously down the thin stripe and pulling lightly on the short hair by the base of his neck. His voice turned into a hurried ramble.

"His face... oh his face. With his eyes closed you can hardly even recognize him. So much blood. Too much to stay alive. Dirt on his white pants. His heart stopped. Just stopped and I let him go. He was gone and he had dirt on his white pants." Puck's voice took on a haunted tone as he completely missed the look of horror painted on everyone's face.

"The police said they can't do anything until he wakes up. He has to report the crime. Otherwise it could just be another faggot slip and fall. He has to wake up." Puck stopped suddenly like he'd just realized something important.

"They knew him. They had to. Cut his ankle so he can't dance. They had to know him. If they know him, he might know them. He has to wake up... just has to wake up." Puck started to shake his head wildly back and forth before his knees buckled and his legs send him falling to the floor.

Suddenly, violent sobs fill the silent room. The linoleum was hard under Puck's knees and he could feel the slight dig of dirt against his palms. He was on all fours, heaving wildly and staring directly at his hands. Even though he knew he got it all off during his shower that morning, he could swear he still saw Kurt's blood.

Warm arms wrap around his midsection and pull him up into a hug. The same bright fingernails that teased Finn a few hours before, now ran comforting stokes over his shoulders. When he pulled back from her embrace and his sobs were finally under control, he saw that her light pink capris were dusty from kneeling beside him. Puck ran his thumb along the light gray smudge softly before meeting Mercedes' glance with pained eyes. His voice was so low that only she can hear him and it made her face crumple as she lost her resolve to stay strong.

"He had dirt on his white pants."

Mercedes pulled him into a hard hug and he could feel her tears on his neck. He knew it shouldn't, but it comforted him. He liked the idea of someone else being in this with him and Burt. It's nice not to feel so alone. Puck had spent years thinking he was alone in this world. It only took three days for him to realize that alone was something he wasn't until Kurt didn't wake up. With Kurt in the world, he could never be alone. But with Kurt asleep, he was lonely.

Here in Mercedes' arms Puck had no idea how long he would be lonely. All he wanted now was the promise of not being alone. With every shallow steady breath and faint fluttering beep, Kurt was keeping a promise he didn't even know he'd made.

.

The first few days leave the room feeling claustrophobic with the number of people that showed up. The glee club practically sits vigil beside the bed and Britt locked herself around Kurt's immobile body for almost the entire time. Santana had to pry her fingers from Kurt's waist when an apologetic nurse told them that visiting hours are over. Santana spent most of the time with her hand resting on the wide space between Puck's shoulder blades. While most of him was thankful for the quiet show of support, part of Puck was confused about why she would show it.

Until at the last moment, when she pressed a soft kiss to Kurt's forehead. The look in her eyes made him realize that he was living her worst nightmare. He could see the way she saw Brittney in Kurt's place. The fear invading her eyes made him understand that for the first time in her life, she is in love. Despite the circumstances, he's happy that he knows that. For people like them love was a hard thing to find. As he watched Brittney jump into Santana's arms, he saw that she is loved back. He was ashamed to admit that part of him is jealous.

A week after it happened, Karofsky brought flowers. Soft petaled tulips sat next to Kurt's bed and Puck pretended that he couldn't see the way they wilt as the days pass. Pretended that he didn't cry the moment he had to accept defeat and throw them away.

After a week and a half even the crotchety bitch that runs the front desk could see that visiting hours do not apply to him and pulled a second cot into the room. Him and Burt flanked Kurt while he slept. They both pretend that they don't catch the other one watching Kurt's chest rise and fall.

After two weeks Tina stopped coming because her sobs would always disturb the other patients. Once she stops coming, the others start to visit less too. Soon the only constants are Puck, Burt, Finn and Mercedes. Finn holds Mercedes' hand as she cries and tells Kurt about her day. Burt waits until Puck goes to the cafeteria to beg his son to wake up. Puck only leaves to go to school. He's finally managed to convince Burt to go home every other night to sleep in a warm bed and start to prepare the house for when Kurt wakes up.

Puck was helping Nurse Emily with Kurt's sponge bath when he noticed the angry marks on Kurt's chest were fading. He remembered the dark red and blue that used to paint the pale canvas. They were the reason he had to help with the bath in the first place. When Burt had seen them for the first time, his stomach had turned and he spent the next three hours curled up in a bathroom sobbing.

Emily's soft chatter was the only thing that made the entire process bearable. He was thankful that she was there. As his hands traced Kurt's torso he noticed the hard contrast of muscle and soft skin. Kurt was practically unmarked now and it made Puck remember covert peeks in the shower after football practice. Forced all the repressed fantasies to the surface. His hands shook and lust filled him for the first time in almost two weeks. Emily finished up as Puck hid in the bathroom.

Later that night, when Puck was finishing Kurt's nightly routine, he hears Burt's voice cut through the silence. The hand that was smoothing the unruly piece of hair down, froze. Burt voice was gruff.

"Do you love my son?"

Puck kept his eyes focused on Kurt's nearly healed face. Watching the soft flutter of eyelashes on the last of the yellowing bruises. He swept a thin layer of lip balm across Kurt's lips and finished fixing Kurt's hair. The entire time he could feel Burt's stare. He kept his voice at a whisper because it felt wrong to admit it to Burt before he's had a chance to say it to Kurt. But he answered the only way he can.

"Yes, sir."

Burt was silent until the sheets stop rustling and he thought Puck was asleep before he responded with a whisper of his own.

"Good."

Puck smiled in the darkness.

.

It's three weeks before Mercedes and Puck are alone together. Sitting across from Mercedes made Puck nervous. He saw the questions in her eyes. They've been there for almost a month and he always promised himself that when they finally get asked he would be honest with her. Her mouth was stained red from cherry slushie and her fingers were sticky from the cinnamon bun he just bought her.

"So how long have you been in love with my boy?"

"Since seventh grade."

Her eyes widened at both the answer and the speed at which it came.

"Say what?"

"You remember when Ms. Burton took us to that park for the year end picnic? Yeah, well that's when I knew for sure."

"Nothin' special happened that day though."

Puck's voice became wistful for a minute and he seemed to lose himself in the memory.

"I sat on the jungle gym the entire day watching him. He was trying to make friends with this runty little squirrel. I mean, the thing was skinny as hell and he was missing huge clumps of hair but for some reason Kurt wanted to pet him." Puck giggled, softly. "He sat under the oak tree all day, whispering to it. But by the end of the day, the squirrel was sitting next to him. Kurt kept feeding it his peanut butter sandwich. On the way back, his stomach kept growling because he hadn't eaten anything. I gave him my granola bar and when he took it from me, his hand touched mine. That was it." Puck ended with a slight shrug and a shy smile.

Mercedes looked like she wanted to cry, but instead she just nodded and leaned forward to kiss his cheeks. She smelled like cherries and acceptance.

It's been almost four weeks when Puck felt what he thought was the squeeze of Kurt fingers. He told the doctors and they said that involuntary muscle contractions are normal for someone in Kurt's condition. Burt left that night crestfallen and the slump of his shoulders almost made Puck lose faith. That night he prays for the first night since he was ten years old. He was watching Kurt sleep for two hours before he finally gives into the temptation that has been eating at him since Burt started leaving them alone in the night.

He carefully rearranged Kurt on the bed before crawling in beside him. His forearm rose with every one of Kurt's breaths and Puck could feel Kurt's heartbeat against his cheek. The thoughts that had been only his for so long came pouring out against Kurt's chest. He ran his fingers across Kurt's forearm as he spoke in quiet tones.

"Please Kurt, you have to wake up. We can't be here without you. I know you're scared but I promise I'll be here to protect you. Please, baby. Please wake up." Puck's voice broke as sobs take over his body and he cried himself to sleep. Curled protectively around Kurt.

Kurt's head felt heavy. Everything in him wanted to open his eyes. His body screamed against the ache in his bones. His limbs struggled through the thick, murky water he was floating in. His body felt something shaking against him but he couldn't reach the surface. It felt like hours before he could see the light above him. By then the shaking has stopped and his waist felt like it was on fire. Opening his eyes was the hardest thing he'd ever done but when he did he saw the dark strip of hair. His hand was heavy but he eventually managed to raise it to rest on wide shoulders. He smiled when he felt Puck's warmth. He fell asleep with that smile on his face and with a soft whisper escaping past his parched throat.

Puck was half asleep when he thought he heard Kurt whisper, My Noah, into his hair. He knew that was just wishful thinking.

.

Puck was in third period when his phone buzzed in his pocket. It wasn't until lunch that he got to check his text messages. His heart constricted when he saw it was from Burt. It wasn't like him to try and make contact before the lunch check-in call. But then, there in black and white. In bad parent-style text talk.

Kurt up... cops in now...

Puck spent the rest of his lunch period crying in the locker room and flinched when he heard the familiar squeak of sneakers on the wet floor. Karofsky found him sobbing. He read Burt's text and pulled Puck into a tight hug, letting him scream into his shoulder. Puck's fear painted Dave's clothing and Dave let him do it. If Karofsky felt tears prickle behind his own eyes he didn't let Puck know. His tears didn't matter now. Kurt was awake and right now even he knows that's all that matters.

Three hours later and Puck fought to keep the control of his two drink trays. He'd gotten pretty good at this little balancing act but his excited nerves belie the fact that it's something he's been doing for the past month. Like always, Emily's face lit up like Christmas when she saw him and the rest of the floor staff swarm when they smell the hint of decent coffee.

"Is it true? Is he awake?" The excited bounce of his voice surprised even him.

"You got it, babe. He woke up for good three hours ago and just finished talking to the police. They think they'll be able to catch the guys that did this. It's all good news today." Emily was ecstatic to finally have some good news for him.

Puck ran around the nurse's desk and grabbed Emily's round face between his palms. He pressed a joyful kiss on her lips before pulling her from her chair and spinning her around.

"Don't get him too excited. He still needs his rest."

Her voice followed him down the hall after he grabbed Burt's coffee out of one of the trays. Some of the hot liquid splashed through the tiny hole in the lid but it didn't make Puck slow his jog. He rounded the corner and saw the most miraculous sight he'd ever seen. Kurt was sitting up in bed and swatting away Burt's fussing hands.

"Burt, I got here as fast as I could..."

Puck's voice cuts off as Kurt's harsh gaze burrowed its way under his skin. Kurt's voice was snappy and even Puck could tell he was exhausted.

"What the hell are you doing here, Puck? Here to finish what they started?"

In the background, Puck could hear Burt's protests but all Puck knew was the pain that ripped through his chest. His body fell against the door frame like he just got punched. The shock weakened his grip and the coffee fell through his fingers, crashing to the floor. Time slowed and all Puck could see was the tight pull of Kurt's eyebrows, the defensive slant of his shoulder and the fury that burned in Kurt's blue eyes. All of them were directed at him. He thought he heard Emily's voice call after him but he didn't stop running until he felt the harsh press of the sunshine. He didn't know that this kind of pain existed.

.

After the pain of talking to the police, after the horror of realizing then reliving what happened to him, after his father's bone crushing hugs, the last thing he need was to see Noah Puckerman. His harsh tone had more to do with the circumstances and the confusion of seeing him there at all. His father's admonishment was nothing compared to the hurt he saw shining in Puck's eyes. He pressed the plunger of his morphine before he really needed it and fell asleep with Puck's face burning behind his eyes.

When he woke up again the sun was setting outside the room and flooding the room in pink. He heard light humming as gentle hands probed around his IV. The nurse jumped a little when he rested his hand on her forearm.

"Hi there, Kurt. My name's Emily. It's nice to finally meet you. I don't think I need to tell you, but you stirred up quite a fuss around here."

"Hi, Emily. Um... can you tell me why my mouth tastes like stale mint and cherry?"

"Oh well I think the mint is from these." She dug into one of her pockets and pulled out a star-shaped sponge clinging to a short wooden stick. "We soak them in water and run them in your mouth. So it doesn't get too dry."

"And the cherry?"

"I think that's from the lip balm Noah bought you. After about a week, your lips got really dry and he said that cherry was your favorite. Come to think of it, it seems really weird without him here. It's amazing how attached you get to people after a month in here. But I suppose it's a good thing you sent him to get some real sleep. You're really lucky to have such a great boyfriend." Her voice was light, but everything she said confused Kurt.

"He's not my boyfriend."

"Oh, I'm sorry. I just assumed. I mean who else is gonna spend every night in a place like this?"

"Every night? He was here every single night?"

"He got here at 3:45 every afternoon and didn't leave until 7:30 the next morning. Like clockwork."

Kurt watched dumbfounded as she pushed her cart out of the room and waved to the elderly guy that was walking past. He watched as the sun faded to black and his thoughts swam. He pretended to sleep through his dad wishing him a good nights sleep, and Emily coming to check on him for the last round of her shift. It took him almost an hour to pull himself into a sitting position, and at least half an hour to grab the small travel bag his dad had gotten for him. His muscles strained but he felt the warm rush of victory when his finger brushed against his phone.

His message was short and to the point. The only thing that gave him the courage to send it was the inner monologue running through his head, the one that was mixed with the slow music of his phone powering down in his hand.

Every single night. He was here every single night.

.

The sounds of the forest were the only thing Puck could hear. He had driven aimlessly around Lima until he couldn't stand the sight of the place. He drove to the small campground his dad used to take him to before everything went so wrong. He laid in the bed of his pickup and watched the stars from huddled under his sleeping bag.

His whole body ached to be back at the hospital. He should have known. For everyone else, him loving Kurt made sense. He'd proven it with his actions. He'd fluffed his pillows and helped with his therapy exercises. He'd made sure Burt kept eating right and got enough sleep. He'd had a month to prove himself. But to Kurt it was just yesterday that Puck had given him a light shove into a locker and told him that his pink sweater made him look queer.

His eyes burned and he really didn't think he had any tears left to cry. A falling star danced above him as his phone vibrated against his thigh. The message was short and to the point but it was enough.

Enough to send Puck flying over the side of the truck and pulling out of the campground. Enough to make Puck forgive Kurt for the way he'd hurt him. Enough to send him flying past the Welcome To Lima sign thirty miles over the speed limit.

Noah, I'm sorry. I need you here.

.

The night duty nurse gave him a strange look as he passed her but she didn't try to stop him. The only light in the room was the overhead reading light and it kept Kurt in the shadows. His arms braced on either side of him. Puck looked down to the ground and saw the small splatter of coffee on the door frame. The sight made him stay by the door.

"Okay, Kurt. You wanted me here and I'm here. What do you want?"

"I'm so sorry, Noah. I didn't know. I didn't know any of it. Mercedes filled most of the holes. Damn, this isn't coming out right... I'm just really sorry. Can we start again?"

Puck was quiet for a long time. So long that Kurt tried to stand and walk toward him. He got up on shaky feet and tried to take a small step forward. The pressure on his bad ankle made him lose his footing and he started to fall forward. He screwed his eyes shut in anticipation of falling on the floor and clenched his jaw as he braced for impact. His face collided with Puck's firm chest and Puck's strong arms caught him.

He tried to catch his breath as Puck's arms pulled him upright. They stood inches from each other and stared. Kurt's face crumbled under Puck's gaze. The first tears he's cried since he woke up welled in his eyes and his voice broke.

"I'm so sorry."

Puck just nodded and pressed a hard kiss against his cheek before pulling him into a tight hug. They stayed like that until Kurt's foot gave out and his knees buckled. This time, Puck was there to catch him. Kurt tried to muffle his laughter as Puck told him really inappropriate jokes. Puck was sitting in the chair to the left of his bed and his long fingers were playing with the bedspread. Kurt took a deep breath.

"So you're gay?" His voice was timid.

Puck just nodded.

"Did you really come out? Like to everyone?"

Puck just nodded again.

"Why?"

"I was listening to your ipod and I heard that Milk guy. I kept thinking that if I was out before this, we probably would have been together and everyone would have like, known not to mess with you."

"We would have been together?"

Puck blushed lightly and averted his eyes back to the bedspread. "Aw, shit. I mean I know that just because you're gay and I'm gay that doesn't mean that we automatically would have gotten together. Just like it doesn't necessarily mean we're together now. But I mean, we would have been, right?" Puck raised his glance to meet Kurt's eyes and asked bashfully.

Kurt looked down at Puck's fumbling hand and took in the slight quiver in his voice before sliding his fingers between Puck's. His voice was an awed whisper as he watched Puck's hand tighten in his.

"Yeah, I think we would have. I think we could be."

Kurt giggled at Puck's surprised expression and gestured for Puck to join him in bed. Puck curled into Kurt like he had the night before and just before he fell asleep he heard Kurt's soft whisper.

My Noah.

.

The next few days flew in a whirl of tests, conversations and arguments about getting Kurt up and walking. They both fought to hide their guilt when Burt bubbled over with excitement as Kurt took the first few steps the morning after Puck came back. They spent hours with the doctor. Carefully planning Kurt's recovery plan. Watching as Kurt nodded sadly when the doctor told him that there was almost no chance that he would regain full mobility. That even with extensive work with a physical therapist he would probably always walk with a slight limp and that all of his glee choreography would have to be modified. Of course, he was also quick to throw in the fact that when you're dealing with individuals you have to disregard the percentages.

Yes. All in all they were all ready for Kurt to be at home. The house was prepped, Puck and Burt had worked out a schedule that seemed to leave Kurt with constant support, all the teachers had been told by Burt that they were supposed to do everything they could to accommodate the boys or face death/maiming by flamethrower. Kurt hadn't had a proper shower in a month and none of them had gotten a halfway decent night sleep in just as long.

Yes they were all very ready to wave goodbye and good riddance to Lima Memorial. There was just one slight problem. They all had to wait for a very specific event to happen. Kurt had been put under when they looked at his foot to control the blood loss. That meant anesthesia and that paired with the intravenous nutrient diet he was on while he was asleep meant that his digestive tract could have been fucked with. So to be blunt, two men, one of them held a PhD, and one seventeen year old boy were twiddling their thumbs by his bedside waiting for Kurt to fart. A fact that had him blushing red and wishing for a quick death.

It was one day shy of being a month since the attack when Kurt used his crutches to hobble to the bathroom. Burt was dozing in the chair by the window. Puck was curled up on the cot. Apparently his left thumb was tasty because it was currently firmly pressed to the roof of his mouth.

Everything in Kurt wanted to find his phone and use it as blackmail material but the crushing pressure of his bladder forced him away. It was almost lost in the wash of relief that always happens when you just make it in time to pee. But it had happened. It was real and it had Kurt doing a little jig in the enclosed bathroom. He cursed to himself when he bumped his foot on the door in his excitement.

The loud thump of his overnight bag on the bed made them both wake with start. Puck's eyes crossed as he stared at his wet thumb and shook his head at Kurt's antics.

"Kurt, what the hell are you doing? It's 5:30 in the morning." Burt's voice was rough and groggy.

Kurt's smile beamed as he forced more of his clothes into the bag.

"We get to go home now."

The nurses had to come in and tell them to keep it down.

.

Once Kurt had been properly settled in at home, Burt decided that it was time to stop putting off all the important work at the shop. Puck heard the rumble of Burt truck pulling out of the driveway as he watched Kurt hobble around the room with his crutches. He flopped down on the down covered bed and felt himself drifting.

"Gahhh, I could sleep for a week." Puck was currently on his way to doing just that.

"Have fun with that. I'm going to wash this hospital stench off of me. God, I haven't even looked in the mirror. I must look atrocious." Kurt's snappy snark was back in full force.

Puck giggled to himself until he remembered what his face had looked like that night. Yes, now he was very much awake.

"Kurt, do you need help in there?"

"I'm a big boy, Noah. I'm sure I can handle the menial task of washing myself."

"Fine then. Suit yourself. Then I guess you won't get to ogle all of this." His hand swept down his torso even though he was pretty sure that Kurt couldn't see him from the bathroom door, and flopped down against the bed again. He fell back into the warmth of Kurt's bed as started to slip into sleep.

The crash resounded loudly as did the sharp, frustrated cry. When Puck pushed his way through the door, he found Kurt huddled on the toilet. His shirt was flung across the small room and everything was knocked off the vanity. Puck put his hands up and slowly approached a visibly shaken Kurt.

"Baby, are you okay?"

Kurt tugged at his pajama pants and pouted.

"I can't. I tried to stand without the crutches and I just buckled."

Angry tears fell and Kurt brought his closed fists down on his thighs.

"Fuck, I should be able to do this."

"Remember what Dr. Morris said? It's better to need the help and take it then try and do it yourself and make it worse. The last thing we need is you ripping your stitches."

Kurt nodded softly and pressed his chin into his chest. Puck walked around him to turn on the water and find the right temperature. Kurt gasped as Puck went to his knees to pull the dressing off of his ankle. Puck helped him get his pants off and Kurt gave him a questioning look when he left his boxers on.

"I know you're not ready for that yet. That isn't what this is about."

Kurt gave him a grateful smile and pressed his forehead into Puck's shoulder. Puck stripped down to his boxers and carefully lifted Kurt into the shower. Kurt hissed as the warm water hit his dirty skin. He rolled his neck and tilted his head back into the spray. Puck kept a steady hand on Kurt's waist and giggled as Kurt balanced on one foot. He grabbed the small bottle of pomegranate body wash and the checkered flannel hanging over the tap. Kurt moaned in pleasure as Puck soaped his torso and he felt the rough drag of the cloth. When Puck went to his knees to scrub Kurt's lower half, Kurt braced himself with the tips of his fingers on Puck's shoulders. He hissed when the soap slid over the cut on his ankle. Puck pressed a light kiss to the inside of his knee to distract him.

The scent of citrus shampoo exploded as Puck flipped the cap open and lathered it between his hands. Strong, nimble fingers massaged the shampoo through Kurt's wet hair and his head fell forward to rest on Puck's chest. Sinful moans mixed with the hot water and Puck choked back a grunt as Kurt's head tilted back to rinse the soap from his hair. After the last traces of it were gone he stared at Puck through heavy-lidded lashes. His wet bangs clinging to his forehead. His voice was so low that Puck had to strain to hear it over the rushing water and the heartbeat in his ears.

"Noah... what if I'm always broken?"

Puck's voice was fierce and his grip tightened on Kurt's shoulders.

"You're not broken. You're hurt and you're healing."

His hands slid up to cup Kurt's face and after holding his eyes for a long moment, he brought their lips together. Pressing wet, open mouth kisses to Kurt's lips. The heat of their mouths mixed with the warm stream of water and they traded kisses until the water ran cool.

Puck bundled Kurt into his robe and carried him back into the bedroom. Kurt lay face down on the bed as Puck put a new dressing on his ankle. Sleep clawed at him and he felt himself fall. He let himself forget about the fact that he'd felt the hard press of Puck's arousal against his hip, and he also let himself forget about the fact that he didn't have the same response, despite the fact he felt it so much. So instead he said the only other thing he was thinking before he finally surrendered to sleep.

"Mmmmm...Noah...love you."

When he woke up four hours later, the room was hot, his hair was standing on end and Puck was spooned against his back. He can feel the same hard press against his ass and reaches down to give himself a few soft tugs through his boxers. Tears prickled behind his eyes as nothing happened and he spent the next two hours trying to remember what Puck told him.

He's not broken. Not broken. He's healing. He's healing. He's healing.

He's healing?

.

Soon they lose themselves in homework handouts and rehab sessions. Talking about everything and nothing. Family dinners that pass without the mention of either mother. Boxer clad showers and soft underwater kisses. Cuddling while watching movies and desperately clutching each other after one of them has a nightmare. Nights spent with Kurt not making a move and Puck being a gentleman. Kurt's really not sure how long they would have stayed like that. The holding pattern of healing. The peace that was disturbed by the 6 o'clock news.

It had been two months since coming home from the hospital and three months since the attack. The police had talked to him two more times but they told him it didn't look good. He'd given them their names. Described every inch of each of their faces. But that wasn't enough for them. They needed confessions or physical evidence. Something told Kurt that they were not entirely invested in finding them either. After the first month, Kurt had begun to make peace with the fact they were going to get away with it. But then Lima got its first female district attorney and she just happened to be a PFLAG mom.

His dad had heard about them bragging to everyone who would listen about what they did to the little fag. He promised that it was only a matter of time before they spilled to the wrong person. Still it was a surprise to see them on the news.

Arnold Darren Lee, 23. Scott Lowell Peterson, 26. Daniel Dameon Clark, 19.

Each of their pictures screamed through the screen. They looked exactly as he remembered them. Kurt's name was withheld because he was a minor but it wouldn't take long for the town to figure out who it was. Especially since they mentioned that they were all being charged with the hate crime enhancers. It was the first story on the news that night, and by 6:15 pm his dad was bursting through the front door and down the stairs.

He found Kurt curled into a ball on Puck's lap. Silent wails were forcing their way past his throat. Hot, angry tears landed on the thin fabric of Puck's t-shirt. Burt just backed his way up the stairs and ordered the greasiest cheese pizza you could find in a town as small as Lima. When he heard the crash of the remote being thrown at the wall, he added wings and cheesy bread. Because despite the creams and moisturizers, the treadmill and the crunches, his boy was still a stress eater.

.

The stale smell of mothballs sat on the back of Kurt's tongue. The hard varnished wood made him ache for the warmth of his bed. His crisp suit seemed like a mistake now. Noah had helped him pick it out. The purple pocket square was a subtle fuck you to the entire process. But seeing as how he had to explain it to Puck he really didn't think that most people would get it. Everything seemed to echo under the wide roof of the Lima District Courthouse. His fingers were raw from the wringing them. He was about to break the skin of one of his cuticles when strong fingers wrapped around his own.

He looked up at Puck and saw that he looked just as nervous. He also looked equally uncomfortable in the new wool suit he'd insisted on getting. Over the phone Ms. Gill told them that they didn't have to dress up if they didn't want to. In fact, they didn't even have to come at all if they were more comfortable with that.

One sleepless night and three glasses of warm cinnamon milk helped Kurt decide that he didn't have a choice. The three men that hurt him were entering their guilty pleas and having to say exactly why they did it. The evidence and the mountain of malice they'd managed to write with their own tongues was enough to ensure they were going away for a long time. Kurt had to be there to watch them turned into the ones with their hands behind their backs and fear written all over their faces.

Ms Gill had only ever talked to him over the phone, so the smartly dressed woman walking towards them didn't match the soft spoken kind voice that actually listened to his entire story. In his mind he saw a thick woman with light curly, red hair and long fingernails. The loud click of her stilettos and the harsh cut of her blonde bob rebuilt the image in his head. But when she saw him, her face seemed to light up and she wrapped him a strong hug.

His bulky crutches had long been replaced by the elegant black cane and the noise the silver tip made reverberated off the walls, getting lost in the creak of the double doors opening. Noah made sure that his shoulder was pressed firmly against Kurt's as they sat behind the wooden gate. She gave them a quick nod and watched as Kurt held his breath.

The three men were led in single file. Their faces looked so different when they weren't twisted in hate. Kurt almost couldn't recognize them. He couldn't really follow the proceedings. He was too distracted by the anti-gay groups there to offer these heroes the support they deserved. He faintly heard three whispered guilty's. He heard the low growl that seemed to come from Puck's throat and felt the power of Puck's strong arm wrapping around his shoulder in defiance.

In the end, he couldn't bring himself to watch them being led away. Instead he locked his fingers tightly with Puck's and made them watch him walk out of the otherwise silent room. Noah ended up fielding most of the press questions and leading him outside.

His world didn't slide back into place until they were both under the steady stream of hot water. Their kisses had been getting more desperate, needy. More filled with the urgency of passion and they had both stopped wearing their boxers. Puck's strong hand traced along the slight indent in Kurt's abdomen before sliding down to his thighs. Kurt felt his breath hitch and he pulled away from Puck's grasp.

"Kurt, what did I do?" Worry filled his whisper.

"Nothing. Just, I can't yet."

Puck nodded and finished helping Kurt wash. They fell asleep wrapped around each other.

Like so many night before, Kurt woke up with the firm press of Puck against him and tears threatening to fall. It had been four months since the attack and he was back in almost every way that mattered. His progress in rehab was astonishing, the nightmares had completely stopped after the first month of being home. He didn't even feel scared when he was left alone anymore, and for the first time in his life he was in love.

Puck had been so important to his recovery. Kurt fought for him every single day and it hurt him that he couldn't share this part of himself with Puck. He felt the thrill of arousal and the thick bite of lust as it flew through his veins every day but for some reason his body wasn't responding. The fear that it never would quickly began to claw at his throat. Flinging the covers back he stumbled into the bathroom. He was done waiting for something to happen.

Puck was woken by the strangled sob and the clattering coming from the bathroom. He pushed open the door to see Kurt hunched over the sink. His knuckles were white as he clung to the counter's edge with one hand. The other was thrust down the front of his pajama pants. His face was an angry red color and his own tears were falling on his clenching forearm.

"Kurt... baby... what's wrong?"

Kurt jumped but still didn't stop his stroking. His voice was frantic and his words ran together.

"It doesn't work, Noah. I'm trying but it doesn't work. It has to. If it doesn't, they win and I can't... I can't let those fuckers win." Kurt's eyes caught Puck's in his reflection. "Please, you have to help me."

Puck pulled both of Kurt's wrists together and pulled him back toward the bed. He felt Kurt tremble against him and fought the urge to break into the lockup at the courthouse and commit three cases of capital murder. Instead, he soothed Kurt with whispered words of love and collected Kurt's shuddered gasps against his chest. When Kurt's breathing evened out, Puck was sure he'd fallen asleep.

"God, I'm sorry for being such a basket case. Maybe I really do need that shrink." Kurt laughed bitterly.

"Kurt, you don't have to apologize for anything, but you gotta talk to me about stuff like this. I mean I don't entirely get what that was all about, but I can tell it's been bugging you for awhile. Can you please just talk to me?"

The silence stretched between them until Kurt let out a shuddering breath and burst out with, "I can't get hard, Noah."

"Wha...?"

"I can't get a hard-on. Like nothing. I keep trying but it's just not working. It pisses me off because it's like they took it away from me. Right? I can't be a fag if I can't fuck anyone. It feels like they're winning. Even now and it's just..."

"Just what, Kurt? It's just what?"

"I iwant/i you so bad." Kurt whispered hotly.

Naked lust shone in Kurt's eyes and took Puck's breath away. Puck's pulled Kurt into frantic, bruising kisses. They fought for dominance and Puck hardened when he felt Kurt give into him. They broke apart panting and Puck leaned his forehead against Kurt's.

"Fuck, me too. Want you so fuckin' bad." Puck panted against Kurt's lips. Kurt smiled.

"Show me. Oh god, Noah. Show me and let me watch. iPlease?/i"

Puck nodded and rolled over on his back. His erection bounced as he pulled himself out of his boxers. Kurt groaned as Puck rested his hand against his cheek.

"Lick my palm."

Kurt pressed a kiss into Puck's hand before his tentative tongue licked in long steady strokes. Kurt rolled the salty taste of Puck's skin in his mouth as he watched Puck grip the base of his own cock. They locked eyes Puck pulled up into his first stroke and Kurt felt the pleasure that seemed to roll off of Puck's shivering body.

Kurt watched as Puck's hand collected the wetness that clung to his tip. His forearm strained and Kurt was mesmerized by the rough rhythm Puck had set for himself. He started slightly when his own fingers were pulled into the wet heat of Puck's mouth. His eyes crossed as he felt the warm swirl of Puck's tongue.

Puck guided his spit-slicked fingers to the cool metal on his chest. His hips gave a sharp jerk as Kurt's fingernail caught on the tender skin of his nipple before he gave the ring a light tug. Kurt shifted closer. The slick slide of cotton against his bare skin made his entire body shiver. Kurt's light breath skimmed across his neck and the cool tip of his nose glided along his jaw.

Puck's breath sped up. Rapid exhalations forced their way past his parched lips and Kurt's breathy moans made his thighs clench. He felt his orgasm rushing faster than he'd expected and was about to whisper his apologies to Kurt, but then he heard Kurt's voice play in his ear.

"My god, Noah. You're so beautiful."

The awed lust in Kurt's voice was like a vice on his cock and there was no way he could stop himself now. A deep, guttural moan broke the silence and Kurt gasped as some of Puck's cum landed beside the finger that was still playing with Puck's nipple ring.

He used his index finger to collect it on the tip and trace it around the ring. Kurt's eyes sparkled with mischief before he lowered his head and caught the ring between his teeth. His tongue swirled around the nub in the same way Puck's had on his fingers.

Once the taste of Puck was on his tongue, he couldn't get enough. His lips followed the trail that lead down Puck's torso and smirked when Puck's stomach contracted as the flat of this tongue licked it clean. Sliding down Puck's body, Kurt placed a chaste kiss on Puck's hipbone before curling into his side.

Puck's eyes were drooping and his movements became lethargic. He hummed his good night to Kurt before giving into the warmth of Kurt's embrace and the release of finally.

Kurt's head fell into the dip of Puck's belly and he fell asleep trying to build his courage. Because if tonight proved anything, it was that he needed to have an embarrassing conversation with his doctor.

.

The warm sun was making her dress stick to her back. Her new slip-ons were dragging on the back of her foot and leaving tiny new blisters on her ankle. Sweat dripped down the back of her neck and curled the hair that clung there. She smoothed her hair down with a frustrated gasp. She'd spent hours straightening it. She had even managed to sneak her nice summer dress past her mama. It really wasn't fair. She wanted everything to be perfect and when Laurie told her that it was only a two mile walk she didn't think that sounded too bad. She was very wrong.

She dug her teeth into the small cut on her lip and kept walking even after the gravel found its way into her shoes. The shop itself seemed like something out of the movies. With faded blue shirts that had names stitched on the pockets and the thick smell of metal mixing with oil. Everything there made her feel small but that was nothing compared to the feeling that she got when a man crouched down beside her.

"Sweetie, are you lost?" His voice sounded like the dads she used to wish were her's when they would watch them on TV.

She screwed up her courage and thrust her hand forward.

"Mr. Hummel, my name is Magdalena Puckerman, and I think you can help me find my brother."

He ushered her into a small office that smelled of chocolate and stale coffee. The rough fabric of the chair rubbed against the back of her bare thighs but his warm smile made her feel less self-conscious about her wrinkled dress.

"So, you want me to help you find your brother? I didn't know he was lost."

"It's been over six months since I've seen him. I woke up and he was gone. Mama said I wasn't supposed to ask about him anymore and left it there. But then I saw him on the news. He was at the courthouse and talking about his boyfriend being attacked. So, yeah. Here I am. Where the hell is Noah?"

"He's at my house. He's been helping us get Kurt back on his feet. He told us his mom knew where he was."

"After I found out about Noah being gay, I made Mama talk about it. She said that she wouldn't have scum like that under her roof. Threw him out over six months ago."

Burt stood up and walked to the mini-fridge in the back corner. He sat in the chair beside her and plopped a can of Dr. Pepper in front of her. Before leaning back and studying her with questions dancing in his eyes.

"Drink up, kid. When I'm done here we're gonna go see your mom, then I'll take you to see Noah. Deal?"

He extended his hand to her and his large hand practically swallowed her's whole. But her grip was strong and she shook his hand just the way Noah taught her to. He gave her an impressed nod and smiled to himself.

"Looks like we got ourselves a plan."

He pulled something out from under the desk and slid it to her feet. She looked at him confused. Thin black shoes were at her feet.

"Put these on. They're Kurt's old ballet slippers. Those kind of flats will ruin your ankles."

He left her there, with a cold can warming in her hand, shoes that don't make her want to die and the promise that she's going to see Noah today. The soda was sweet against her teeth and the hum of the shop makes her head loll forward. She closed her eyes and wondered what it's like to have a father that saves your ballet slippers.

.

Puck was just starting to wash the vegetables for the salad when he heard Kurt's key in the door. He laughed to himself as he heard Kurt struggling with bags by the door. Leave it to Kurt to go on a shopping spree after his last therapy session. He wondered to himself if Kurt got him anything cute.

When Kurt didn't immediately head for the kitchen, Puck felt dread well in the pit of his stomach. The cool blade of the knife missed his knuckle by centimeters and the carrot in his hand rolled off the counter. He peeked his head around the corner before walking into the family room. Kurt was standing by the door, bouncing on his heels, with bags strewn haphazardly around his feet.

"Look Noah,' Kurt said, waggling his fingers in excited jazz hands, " no more cane. Isn't it cool?"

"What did Dr Morris say?"

"I'm at 90%. Probably as good as it's gonna get but now I can hardly even notice the limp anymore. But that's not the best part." Kurt was practically vibrating with excitement.

"The suspense is terrible. I hope it lasts." Puck said, smiling.

"Noah Puckerman, don't you dare try to derail my good news by throwing Gene Wilder at me. This is serious business. I talked to him about my little problem. He said it was half in my head and half the pain meds."

"So...does that mean...?"

Kurt pulled out a small bag from the heap and Puck could see the twelve pack of iDurex/i condoms through the plastic. Kurt smirked at him before breaking into a trotting kind of run that in different circumstances might make Puck giggle. He collided with Puck at full speed and jumped up into his arms. Locking his long legs around Puck's waist while swooping down for a long kiss. When he pulled away, Puck felt the long, hard ridge of Kurt's cock against his stomach. Kurt smiled again and leaned down to press small kisses to the length of Puck's neck.

"It means...that we have... an hour before... the celebratory food I ordered and my dad come... barging through that door...and I want you so bad right now."

Puck shifted Kurt in his arms and pressed him even harder into his stomach. Turning, he carried both of them towards the basement. He was halfway down the stairs before Kurt whispered in his ear again.

"Oh yeah, and Noah, I got myself ready for you before I got home."

When Puck stumbled over his feet, he felt Kurt's smile against his neck. The smile was replaced by slightly parted lips bitten red. Puck peeled the last of Kurt's layered shirts over his head and loved the way the static made the tips of his hair stand straight up.

He pushed Kurt to lay down against the white down comforter and ran his hand reverently down the pale unmarked skin of Kurt's chest. In long sweeping strokes, he cataloged all the ways Kurt had come back. Soon, his mouth replaced his hand and he could taste the thin layer of salt water on Kurt's skin. They must have finished the day with the weight resistance exercises in the pool. Those were always his favorite days. Kurt would come home tasting like the sea and promise.

His thumbs skimmed over Kurt's hip bones before meeting Kurt's eyes for the first time since they got to the bed. "His eyes were asking, 'Is this okay?' and 'Is this really happening?" Kurt just answered by running his fingers down Puck's forearms and pushing them down until his thumbs caught the top of his waistband.

Puck settled between Kurt's thighs and sat back in awe as he watched the blush run down to Kurt chest. Kurt's chest was heaving, was rising with practiced ease, his hands were flailing as he fought to keep a clear head and his cock sat heavy against his belly. Puck wrapped his hand around Kurt and watched as his body arched up. His slow pace brought tiny drops of sweat beading along Kurt's hairline, and he could feel Kurt's toes curling against his lower back. Suddenly, he remembered that little whispered bit of teasing and decided to see if Kurt was telling the truth. With fingers slick with precum, his hand slipped down to tease Kurt's entrance. It fluttered wildly as Puck's fingers slid in easily. His eyes crossed and he fell forward. Collapsing against Kurt and resting his head against his collarbone.

"Oh god. Fuck. You were telling the truth?"

"I'll have you know that the handicapped washroom at Denny's is quite roomy." Kurt's voice broke off in a gasp as Puck's fingers brushed that spot inside of him. Sending sparks shooting up his spine.

Puck pulled back slightly to kick his jeans off the end of the bed. Once they were skin to skin he pushed himself hard into the soft skin against Kurt's hip. Kurt brought his hand down between them and pressed both of them into his hand. Puck started to thrust wildly and Kurt's moans only served to push his closer to the edge. He felt Kurt's free hand moving towards him and was startled to feel the cool press of plastic against his chest.

"Please, Noah? Oh god, please?"

Puck just nodded and grabbed the condom out of Kurt's fingers. Sitting back, he felt the tension that was thick in his thighs. His hands shook as his fingers fumbled with the plastic. Kurt took it out of his hand and opened it for him before smiling and leaning up on his elbows. As the latex slid down his length, he was hit by the enormity of this.

He'd never done this before. He'd never had sex with a guy. He'd never had sex with someone who wouldn't judge him for shaky hands. He never had sex with someone that looked at him like he was the whole world and that he was going to be the only thing on that person's mind. He'd never had sex with someone who didn't have one ear on the door at all times. He'd never had sex with someone that was his. He'd never belonged to anyone before. He'd never made love.

Kurt's legs tightened around his hips and Puck ran his hand down his side to pull Kurt's left leg over to rest on his shoulder. Kurt's calf twitched under his palm and his thumb grazed the thin pink line on Kurt's ankle. Kurt gasped and threw his head back into the pillow. Puck ran his tongue down Kurt's calf and up to meet his fingers, wrapped around Kurt's ankle. His lips pressed a heavy kiss to the raised pink scar on Kurt's ankle and felt tears spring to his eyes.

Kurt raised up onto his elbows and held one of his hands out to Puck.

"Baby, are you okay? We don't have to do this now. It's okay."

Puck shook his head and closed his eyes.

"No. I want this. I want you."

He opened his eyes and Kurt's next sentence caught in his throat. Puck's eyes were shining with unshed tears and he thought that he'd never seen anyone so happy before in his life.

"You're here. Fuck, man. You're really here." Puck's whisper sent shivers down his spine.

"Yes Noah. I'm here. Gonna be here for...ever...ahhhh"

Kurt's voice was stolen by the powerful thrust of Puck entering him. He arched up into Puck and let a scream of pleasure. Puck stayed very still. Relishing in the feeling of Kurt twitching around him and Kurt's uneven breath hitting his chest. He was so distracted by the pleasure coursing through him that he didn't notice the way Kurt's hips snapped or the shift of powerful thighs until he was forced on his back. With Kurt sitting astride and with him still buried inside.

Kurt braced himself with his hands in Puck's chest and pulled off of him slowly before forcing himself down. Their hips colliding roughly and echoing in the stinging slap of skin on skin. His body took over. His hip rotated with speed and with each cant of his own hips his vision began to swim and pleasure started to overtake him.

He felt the firm grip of Puck's hand curling around him and jerk violently as the tip of Puck's cock grazed his prostate again. He looked down and watched as Puck's eyes went black and his face twisted into an open mouthed shout. They locked eyes and Kurt felt himself seize. His body arched back between Puck's legs until his thighs screamed and the back of his head grazed the soft bedspread underneath them. A month of unfulfilled lust painted both of their chests and stomachs.

Watching Kurt lose himself so completely pushed Puck over the edge as well and his toes curled as he lost himself in Kurt. He stayed there even after he started to soften. They were lost in the haze until the door bell rang above them.

"Oh my god, Noah. That's the food. Can you get it?"

"'Course, babe. Go jump in the shower. I'll meet you there."

Puck pulled on his jeans walked up the stair watching as Kurt lay sleepily on the bed. Smirking to himself and wondering how he got so damn lucky. After leaving the blushing delivery man at the front door, Puck raced down the stairs to join Kurt in the shower. The whole time his hand was resting over the small patch of his stomach that was still covered in Kurt's come.

Puck felt lightheaded from the heat of the shower and the power of what just happened. His hand shook slightly as he helped Kurt unpack the food and wipe off the condensation off the containers. Kurt's head turned to the door when he heard Burt's key slide into the lock, and Puck used the distraction as an opportunity to sneak one of the spring rolls from its container by Kurt's hand.

Kurt wasn't sufficiently distracted because he pulled back in a squeal and went to grab for Puck's hand. Puck ran towards the family room and Kurt jumped on his back.

"I don't think so, Noah. I always ask you if you want me to order extra and you always say no. Give it."

"If you want it you gotta come get it." Puck clenched the spring roll between his teeth and turned his face towards Kurt.

"Dream another dream, cowboy. I'm mad at you."

Burt voice broke the silence.

"Boys."

"No, Dad. He does this every time."

"Boys." Burt voice was sharp and made both of them look at him.

That was when Puck's mouth fell open and Kurt felt him go rigid against his chest.

He slid down and stepped protectively in front of Puck. He could tell just by looking at her that she was Puck's mom. They had the same haunted brown eyes and the same wide shoulders. He fixed her with a cold stare because for some reason her presence was threatening Puck.

"Kurt, did you order as much as you usually do?"

Kurt's eyes left the woman and noticed the young girl behind her before he locked eyes with his father.

"Of course."

"Good, well set two more places. These ladies are joining us for dinner tonight."

"Ma?" Puck's voice sounded too wounded for Kurt to move away.

Puck took everything in. The way Kurt has stepped in front of him, Maggie's excited/anxious expression, Burt's insistent tone. But most importantly he noticed his mother's eyes. He had no idea what had happened in the last six months or what Burt had said to get her to come but he knew that the teary sad look was a far cry from the burning hate he saw there the last time he saw her.

His steeled himself before stepping in front of Kurt and resting his hand on the small of his back.

"Ma, I'd like you to meet Kurt... My boyfriend." Puck tried to ignore the quiver in his voice.

She takes a tentative step forward and reaches her hand out. Kurt pulled her into a tight handshake.

"It's to meet you, Kurt. I'm Norah."

.

Now five years later, Noah thinks Harvey Milk had the right idea. When the question of banning gay marriage is asked in Ohio, Norah Puckerman pulls out the Jackie O inspired suit that Kurt bought her. She marches down to the voting booth wearing a No H8 button pinned to its lapel. Because, even though everything in her body and her beliefs tell her to say yes, a vote for banning gay marriage was a vote against her son.

And she would never vote against her son.