A/N: Much thanks to carolinecrane for the beta
Kurt's sorting through his mail when he sees the large cream envelope. Well it's about time, thinks Kurt as he looks over the invitation to Will's wedding. Will's been dating Diane—Mademoiselle Lang—the school's French teacher for close to four years now, and Kurt was starting to wonder if he would ever work up the courage to try another shot at marriage.
In the almost five years since Kurt left the hallowed halls of McKinley High, he never imagined that the one person he would keep in regular contact with would be Mr. Schuester. He sees Finn whenever he's home-not that they talk a whole lot-and, sure, he still talks with Mercedes, but even that is mostly just the occasional text or Facebook message these days now that she's out in LA trying to make a music career for herself.
He doesn't see Will that often, not even every time he's in Lima, but hardly a week goes by that he doesn't receive or send out a letter to his former teacher. The fact that they mostly keep in touch through written correspondence is probably the reason this odd friendship even developed.
Kurt thinks that letter writing is almost a lost art, but he can still clearly remember his mother sitting at the dining room table each week with her stationary box reading letters from family and friends and sharing the goings on of the Hummel family in her flowing handwriting.
Letter writing was important to his mother, so when, in his first semester at Kent State, he received a card from Mr. Schuester with some sappy inspirational quote on the front and a brief note inside asking how Kurt was doing and was he enjoying college, he could practically hear his mother's voice telling him how the polite thing to do would be to respond. Will had sent similar cards to all of Glee club, but he later told Kurt that only three had ever written back.
The letters started off pretty brief and rather basic, but they continued and over time have grown to really mean something to Kurt. Will's letters are always full of encouragement and funny stories of the goings on in Lima and Kurt has come to really appreciate having someone other than just his Dad telling him that he was making good decisions about his life and that they are proud of the man Kurt is becoming.
Letter writing offers an honesty to their communication that Kurt's pretty sure would have never developed if, say, Will had sent a text that first time instead.
When Kurt had his first serious college relationship, it was writing to Will that helped ground him. And when that relationship ended in spectacular disaster, Kurt found comfort in Will's words explaining how he really understood and talked openly and straightforwardly about when his marriage to Teri fell apart. Not as student and teacher, but friend to friend.
After filling out the response card—Mr. Kurt Hummel, 1 will be attending—and running it out to the mailbox in front of his building, Kurt calls his dad to let him know when he'll be coming home, and can't help but smile at the joy he hears in his father's voice. It's not like Kurt's all that far away, but since starting his internship in Columbus, he puts in a lot of weekend hours and their visits have become farther apart than either would like.
His Dad tells him that Finn received his invitation as well, which Kurt knows Will sent mostly out of some misguided sense of obligation to Kurt, but he won't be able to make it. He's student teaching and getting ready for his state exams, and it would just be too much to get away now. Kurt hates to admit it to himself but he can't help but feel slightly relieved that his visit home will be Finn-free. Sure, they get along fine now, but spending every family holiday with your first big crush turned almost-brother is something he's not sure he'll every really get used to.
Kurt ponders what other, if any, classmates might be at the wedding, and he isn't quite sure if he should be nervous or excited. After graduation, Kurt was firmly focused on the future and leaving high school behind and he never looked back. He doesn't regret the decision, but he still sometimes thinks of friends like Rachel, Artie, and Tina and really hopes that they are happy. He doesn't suppose it will do any good to worry about it now; Kurt just has to focus on getting to spend some extra time with his Dad and being there for his friend on his big day.
Kurt arrives at the church at five minutes to two. There's no such thing as arriving fashionably late to a wedding, but he doesn't much feel like sitting there in an uncomfortable pew listening to poorly played organ music any longer that he has to, so he cuts it as close as he feels he can comfortably get away with.
He recognizes one of the ushers, Coach Beiste, who looks lovely in her tuxedo. She gives him a wave of recognition before making her way over to point out to Kurt that friends of the groom are being seated on the right side of the church.
The rows are pretty full, but as Kurt makes his way forward, he sees an opening in a pew near the front with a solitary figure sitting there. The man cuts an impressive form, from what Kurt can see, with broad shoulders and a head full of short black curls.
Kurt scoots into the pew and ends up sitting a few feet from his dark haired companion. He wants to get a better look, but he's never really been all that good at not being obvious, so Kurt tries glancing through his order of service and figures he'll take a minute before trying to sneak a peek at the man's face. And it's not that he thinks anything will happen, but Kurt's always had an active imagination and, if nothing else, creating an exciting fantasy will give his mind something to do during the duller moments of the ceremony.
Kurt's attempting to look relaxed and leans back when the man shifts in his seat, and Kurt can feel his stare. Kurt's about to look over as casually as he can muster when the man speaks, and Kurt instantly recognizes the voice.
"Hummel, is that you?"
Of all the classmates that Kurt thought he might see, Noah Puckerman is the very last one that he would expect. He didn't know Will even talked to Puck, which makes Kurt wonder if Will invited all of his former students, and if this is going to turn into some big reunion or something. Only, when Will's talked about the wedding plans, he's made it sound like it's not going to be that big, so that doesn't really make sense.
Kurt's still staring blankly at Puck, when Puck leans over and says, "It's Puck. Noah Puckerman, remember? Dude, I'm not that forgettable, am I?"
"Of course I remember you." Kurt rolls his eyes and shakes his head at the thought that he could ever forget Noah Puckerman, one time tormentor and long time Glee mate. "I'm just shocked to see you." Kurt looks around the church to see if there are any other faces he recognizes. What he wants to ask is What are you doing here? but instead settles on, "Is anyone else here?"
"You're the only person I've recognized except for a few teachers. Schue said that he invited Hudson too, is he coming?"
"No, he's still in Wadsworth doing his student teaching. Do you talk to Mr. Schuester a lot?" He knows he's being nosey, but Kurt's trying to wrap his head around the fact that Puck is here and that he apparently talks to Will enough to know who was invited.
"Yeah, well, more than I used to anyway. He's..." Puck's explanation is interrupted by Will walking to the front and the loud chords of the organ indicating the start of the ceremony. Will looks so happy that Kurt's mind is pulled away from his curiosity and they stand to watch some truly horrible bridesmaids dresses make their way down the aisle.
Apparently Mademoiselle Lang is a Gone With the Wind fan, and Kurt's mind is already picturing dozens of looks that would have looked better on those poor women, because, really, no one looks good in sunshine yellow, puff sleeves, and a hoop skirt. He just hopes no one asks him what he thinks, because he's not that good of a liar.
Puck nudges his arm and nods his head toward the bridesmaid passing them and raises a questioning eye, and Kurt's not really sure what that's supposed to mean. Perhaps Puck thinks she's hot, and he shouldn't be surprised that Puck is already scoping out prospects for the night.
Kurt rolls his eyes and doesn't bother trying to reply because what's he supposed to say? Yeah, you should go for it? Maybe it's Puck who's forgotten who Kurt is.
When Kurt doesn't answer, Puck just shrugs and turns his eyes back to the ceremony. With his focus off of Kurt for the moment, Kurt is free to enjoy the view uninterrupted. Puck certainly hasn't let himself go since they left school. Even in high school, Kurt could appreciate Puck's assets-he's not blind-even though he didn't care for his attitude or his recklessness. Granted, Puck was less of a threat and more of an annoyance by the time they graduated, but that doesn't mean he wants to play catch-up with him. He's perfectly happy just appreciating how nice Puck's ass looks in the noticeably inexpensive but nicely cut dark suit he's wearing.
He's cataloguing the movement of broad shoulders when Puck looks back over and catches him looking. Kurt flushes and waits for the slur he's sure is coming, but Puck just looks Kurt in the eye, smirks and turns back toward the ceremony, and Kurt can see he's still smiling as he watches the Pastor ramble on.
That is...unexpected. Kurt would think that Puck has maybe grown up a little, but it's more likely that even he has enough sense to not make a scene in a church.
By the time Kurt turns his attention back to the wedding, Will is starting on his vows, his emotions written all over his face. His words are sweet, if a little sappy, but it's Will so it fits. Diane certainly looks moved by them.
Kurt's never been much for weddings, seeing as if he ever does find Mr. Right, he can't even get married in the state he lives in, but he can't help but be touched by the scene before him.
Is that a microphone in Will's hand? Oh, dear god, he's going to sing. Kurt shouldn't be surprised, Will's never passed up an opportunity to break into song, but really-Wind Beneath My Wings?
Kurt does a quick look around and the other guests appear to be moved by the music, but it's taking everything Kurt has not to start laughing so he looks down at his hands and tries to not be noticed.
He feels Puck shift closer and for a second Kurt thinks that this is when Puck's going to tell him off for staring and that he's an ass for laughing at Mr. Schuester. But Puck's shoulders are shaking and his mouth is turned up like he's trying to keep a smile off of his face. When their eyes connect, Kurt can't help the soft snort that escapes when he hears the huffs of laughter coming from Puck.
And this is ridiculous-he should be telling Puck that they are being rude and that he should move back over- but just then Puck leans in and says, "At least it's not Endless Love." And that sets them off all over again. And once it starts, he can't stop. He can only hope that no one-that Will- doesn't see them huddled together laughing inappropriately at his musical gift to his bride.
Thankfully, by the time he's done singing, they have both managed to get themselves under control, because the room is quiet as Will and Diane exchange rings and no one can mistake the looks of absolute commitment they are sharing, like they are the only two people in the room-in the universe--and it actually takes Kurt's breath away.
Puck's still sitting right next to him, legs brushing together, so he doesn't have to lean very far to whisper in Kurt's ear, "He looks really happy."
"They both do," Kurt manages to reply as he tries to hide the shiver that runs through him from Puck's breath ghosting across his cheek.
This is surreal, thinks Kurt, because never would he have imagined that Puck would act this comfortable sitting so close to McKinley's resident homo, sharing a laugh and a tender moment at a wedding. Perhaps Noah Puckerman isn't the same guy he was back in high school. Kurt would like to think he's changed for the better since then, maybe Puck has too.
He's startled out of his revelry by loud applause as Will leans in to kiss his new bride. Puck lets out a wolf whistle, and Kurt is glad to know at least not everything about Puck is different.
As Kurt heads over to the reception, he can't help replaying his interaction with Puck at the wedding. If he had known Puck would be there beforehand, he probably would have gone to great lengths to try to avoid him. He wouldn't have missed the wedding—he wouldn't hurt Will like that—but he knows he'd have been nervous knowing Puck was there.
Maybe it's good that he didn't know, because it's not often that he's pleasantly surprised. In fact, that might be why Will didn't mention that Puck would be there. He's going to have to ask Will about that when he sees him.
For now, he just keeps replaying Puck putting a hand on his shoulder as they stood to make their way out of the sanctuary and saying, "I'm glad I ran into you, Hummel. You going to the reception?" Like they're old friends or something. Like he's looking forward to seeing Kurt at the reception. That's weird enough, but what's even stranger is the idea that Kurt-possibly-is looking forward to seeing Puck.
As if the universe is trying to tell Kurt that you can never really escape high school, he passes McKinley High on his way over to the hotel where the reception is. Kurt slows down and takes the first long look he has bothered with since he left. It looks smaller than Kurt remembers, but still very much the same.
There are still the concrete benches in the courtyard, and the "Welcome to Titan Territory" sign looks a little worse for wear, but the old broken fountain that used to sit in the middle is gone. In its place is a large metal abstract sculpture and it's something that he would expect to see in a big city like Chicago, not Lima, Ohio. It's beautiful enough that Kurt actually slows to a stop to get a better look. It has an aggressive feel, but also a fluidity to it that draws Kurt in. He can just make out the words Donated by the Class of 2015 on the plaque at the base, and if he had more time, he'd actually get out of the car to see if it says anything more about the artist or the work itself. But he's got someplace to be. Maybe he'll come back before he heads back to Columbus.
Kurt gets a clear view of the reception room as he hangs up his coat. It's already filling up and Kurt realizes he must have spent more time sitting in front of the high school than he thought. He heads over to the welcome table to add his name to the wedding book and look for his place card so he can see where he's sitting. By the looks of it, half of his table is already here and he doesn't recognize the other names on the cards for Table Eight. A quick look through the other names lets him know that Puck is already here.
As Kurt makes his way toward his table, he finds himself wondering if Puck will be sitting nearby. Apparently the answer is really nearby, because when he reaches Table Eight, Puck is already seated along with a few of Will's coworkers.
The chair next to Puck is open, and when Puck motions for him to have a seat, well, it would be rude not to sit there, right? Kurt takes a minute to give polite hellos to the others sitting at the table before he pulls his chair out to sit down.
"I was starting to think that you'd decided to bail."
"I drove through town to get here. Guess I got caught up reminiscing."
Puck nods in understanding. "Yeah, I drove around before the wedding. I've only been back once since Ma moved to Cincinnati, and that was, like, a year ago."
"You don't live here?" And seriously, how is he so far out of the loop that he doesn't know anything about what Puck has been doing?
"Not anymore. After Sarah graduated, Ma sold the house and moved in with my aunt. Her health's not great and, well, it's just easier for her."
Now this Kurt does know about. And he remembered because it hit so close to home.
A few years back Mrs. Puckerman had been diagnosed with cancer. Finn had told him, and even Carole talked about it and Kurt was under the impression that she was doing better, but—
"I'd heard about your mom. Is she not doing well?" Kurt can't hide the concern in his voice, nor does he want to. He knows all too well how it feels to have a sick parent, and knows that it doesn't always have a happy ending.
"She's doing OK, thanks. But she still gets tired really easy and she can't work as much as she used to, so the house was a real burden. I offered to come home, but she didn't want me giving up school for her."
"You went to college?" Kurt knows he sounds shocked, but, hell, there is no way he can hide it.
Puck snorts out a laugh before answering, "I know. Unbelievable, right? Everybody says the same thing when they hear that. Truth is, I think I might be the most shocked of all. My Nana had her heart set on me at least giving college a shot, and it really worked out so I'm glad she made me stay."
Puck pauses to say hello to the couple that has just sat down at the table—like he has manners—and when he holds out his hand and adds, "I'm Noah," Kurt thinks that this is starting to feel like an episode of the Twilight Zone, where the High School Bully has been replaced with a decent guy and he's the only one who thinks it's strange.
Kurt at least has enough sense to introduce himself and is thankful when the table goes around for introductions, because Kurt might recognize the faces, but with the exception of Mr. Horton, his junior year math teacher, he doesn't remember the names of any of the other teachers.
And he's pretty sure he's not going to remember them now either, as his mind is filled with questions wanting to know more about Noah Puckerman.
"Hey, I'm going to grab a beer. Can I bring you back anything?"
"A white wine, thanks." Kurt picks something simple, even though the idea of watching Puck order a pomegranate martini makes him smile.
Puck no sooner steps away from the table when Mrs. Borck?--Burke?-the schools art teacher, if Kurt remembers correctly, turns to talk to him. "It's so nice of you boys to come today. We're all so happy for Will and Diane. Of course I know what Noah's been doing, but how about you?"
Kurt's starting to feel like everyone knows about Puck's life except him, and it takes a fair amount of effort to not just pump Mrs. Banks? for the information before Puck comes back.
"I'm in Columbus for now. I'm interning with Limited Brands as a buyer for a few of their chains, but my hope is that they'll like me enough to hire me on when I'm done."
Mrs.-Bates, Kurt's almost positive-nods politely and Kurt's about to steer the conversation to what she knows about Puck when the DJ announces the arrival of the wedding party at the same time Puck slides back into his seat.
Puck slides Kurt's wine glass over and Kurt tries to say thank you over the booming voice of the DJ. Puck nods before he puts his hand on Kurt's arm and leans in close to tell Kurt, "The guy at the bar said it's chardonnay. I hope that's OK."
Kurt shivers at Puck's closeness and blushes at his body's reaction. He shouldn't enjoy having Puck near him; if anything he should be wary, seeing as how the last time Kurt can recall being this close to Puck, he was being tossed in a dumpster.
"That's fine, thank you." He knows his voice sounds strained, and Puck must notice, because he gives Kurt an odd look before nodding again and turning back to watch Will and Diane take their seats.
Coach Beiste gives a wonderful toast about friendship and finding love right under your nose, and it's funny and touching, and by the end when everyone has their glasses raised, Will has tears in his eyes and both he and Diane are hugging her.
When Kurt dares to look back over, Puck's looking fondly at his former coach and looks visibly moved by her words. When he sees Kurt looking at him, he rolls his eyes and says, "What? It was a cool speech. The Beiste is pretty awesome, you know."
Kurt doesn't know how to say that he's not making fun of Puck being emotional at her words. But he can't say he's shocked that Puck is capable of feeling that way in the first place without sounding like a jerk, so instead Kurt clears his throat and says, "It was lovely. She's a good friend to Will."
"Yeah, Schue talks about her all the time."
Finally seeing the in he's been waiting for Kurt says, "I didn't realize you and Will had kept in touch after school."
Puck huffs a laugh and takes a drink from his beer. "We didn't. I mean, I got this lame note from him when I first got to school, but that was it. When Ma got sick, Mr. Schue was really great helping Sarah out with school stuff. I was coming home a lot then, and you know how Schue is-he's pretty easy to talk to. I was kind of a mess back then, and, well, he really helped me out."
Puck looks away from Kurt to look over to where Will is sitting and smiles unconsciously before he continues, "Anyway, we've kept up even after my mom got better, and Mr. Schue's the one who helped me get the deal at the school."
Kurt knows exactly how easy it is to talk to Will, and in the back of his mind he registers the thought that Will probably never mentioned Puck because their conversations were personal. But most of his mind is caught in trying to figure out what deal Puck has with the school.
He's about to ask, when their table gets dismissed to head up to the buffet table. Noah stands immediately, and puts a hand on Kurt's shoulder before asking, "You coming? I'm starving." Like he's waiting so he can walk up with Kurt. Like they're here together, and the very thought does weird things to Kurt's stomach.
And that's crazy, because the last time Kurt checked Puck was straight, and even if he's gotten a little more-flexible-since high school, Kurt can't imagine that Puck would be the least bit interested in him.
If anything, Kurt's a familiar face; they certainly have a long-if rocky-history, which is probably the reason Puck's even bothering with him. But it doesn't feel that way when Puck brushes his hand across the small of Kurt's back as they make their way to stand in the rather long buffet line, or when he leans in and asks Kurt to hold his place in line and he'll run and get them another drink while they're waiting.
"Do you want another glass of wine?" Puck asks.
Kurt thinks that what he really needs is a shot of straight alcohol, but the need to keep his faculties about him outweighs his desire to drink away the craziness of the situation.
"I'd love one, thank you."
As Puck turns away, Kurt can't help but watch as he heads toward the bar. He watches as Puck casually leans against the bar to wait for the bartender, suit jacket off, sleeves rolled up, a hand in his pocket, and, even in his off-the-rack outfit, he looks like he could have walked out of the pages of a fashion magazine.
But it's more than that. Gone is the cocky smirk that seemed to be a permanent fixture on Puck's face in high school, the same Puck who always looked like he was ready for a fight at any moment.
As Kurt watches him talk to the bartender, he notices how relaxed Puck seems, confident instead of arrogant, and Kurt realizes he doesn't really know this Puck at all.
But he thinks he'd like to.
Puck makes it back to the line just before they reach the table and Kurt wants to ask a million questions, but before he gets the chance, Puck turns to him and hands him a plate and asks, "So what have you been doing? You still in Columbus? Schue said you were doing something in fashion."
Kurt thinks that he should be embarrassed that Puck seems to know about him, but he pushes that aside in the hope that by willingly volunteering information, Puck might return the favor when he asks the same question.
"Well, I'm not a designer or anything. I studied Fashion Merchandising at Kent State. I'll be in Columbus for at least the next six months, that's when my internship at Limited ends. If they hire me on, I could be there longer."
"I figured you'd be in New York or someplace like that." Puck loads up his plate, and he was apparently serious when he said he was starving. "If any of us were going to make it big, I would have put my money on you."
Kurt feels the flush creep up his neck at the compliment. "Thanks. After high school I think I would have willingly gone to school in Alaska just to get out of Ohio. But Dad and Carole had both Finn and I to think about, so if I wanted their help, I had to stick to a state school. I really liked the school and they have a great fashion program. I'll admit it was a surprise to find I didn't have to leave Ohio to get a degree in fashion, let alone find a job, but I'm happy with it. It's nice to not be so far away from Dad."
Puck nods in understanding. "Yeah, Sarah's at the University of Cincinnati now, so I try to get over to visit her and Ma as often as I can. How is your Dad, by the way? No more heart attacks?"
Kurt would think that Puck's trying to be an ass, but he sounds so serious when he asks that Kurt just smiles and says, "He's been great, thanks for asking. He's not always happy about having to give up greasy burgers for grilled chicken, but Carole has a real knack for guilting him into eating healthy."
Puck's standing next to him waiting while Kurt dresses his salad, so Kurt finally gets to ask, "How about you? I'm embarrassed to admit I really don't know much about what you've been doing since high school."
If you'd asked Kurt yesterday what he thought Noah Puckerman was doing these days, he would have guessed serving time at Mansfield State Penitentiary. But Puck's already mentioned college, so maybe Puck is capable of more than Kurt's given him credit for.
"Well, like I said, my Nana wanted me to give college a shot, and thanks to Artie, my grades were decent enough when I graduated that I didn't have to go to Lima Community. I'd heard they can get pretty rowdy at Ohio University, so I figured even if college sucked, I'd still have a good time, you know?"
Kurt snorts as they make their way back to the table. It just figures Noah Puckerman would be drawn to an institution of higher learning because of their reputation as a party school.
"I didn't think I'd make it past the first quarter, I just took a bunch of general electives since I didn't know what the hell I was doing, but I met this guy in my visual arts class who made this totally awesome pottery, and he showed me around the arts building. I saw all the cool shit people were working on, and they were getting a degree, and it just clicked, you know? I took a few more classes, figured out what I liked, and by the end of the year I got accepted into the Fine Arts Program."
Kurt's mouth is hanging open in shock and it takes him a minute to remember how to close it. "Are you saying you make pottery?" he asks, an image of Puck sitting behind a potter's wheel stuck in his head.
"No, not really my thing. I had to take a few ceramics classes to graduate, but they look like something a third grader would make. I usually work with metals; my degree's in Sculpture."
As soon as he says it, Kurt's reminded of the piece he saw in front of the school, and how he didn't have time to stop and see who the artist was.
"...and Mr. Schue's the one who helped me get the deal at the school."
Kurt nearly drops his fork at the revelation. Puck is an artist. "You made the piece in the courtyard at the school." Not a question, a fact. Kurt knows it's true because he remembers how he felt when he looked at it, and it's an awful lot like how he's felt talking to Puck today.
"You saw it? What'd you think?" Puck's nervous expression looks out of place on his face.
Kurt is rewarded with the most genuine smile he's ever seen. "In fact, I was disappointed that I didn't have time to get a closer look. I was actually considering going back over tomorrow to take a better look. You're really talented."
Puck reaches out and puts a hand on Kurt's forearm. "Thanks, Kurt. That means a lot to me, coming from you." Puck seems to wrestle with something for a moment before he adds, "Listen, I know I was a total asshole to you back in school, especially before Glee. I know it doesn't mean much now, but I'm sorry. You're a really cool guy; it took me a long time to figure that out."
Kurt spent a long time thinking about how much he deserved an apology from guys like Puck; but as soon as Puck says the words I'm sorry, Kurt realizes that it's not all that important anymore. It doesn't change the past, and it doesn't change who Kurt is now. If anything, it drives home the fact that the man sitting in front of him is no longer the guy for whom he is apologizing. It's that understanding that lets Kurt be able to look Puck straight in the eye and say, "Thank you. I appreciate that," as Kurt places his hand over the one of Puck's resting on his arm and gives it a gentle squeeze.
Puck takes a deep breath and nods before he looks down at their hands. Kurt's about to pull his hand away in embarrassment when Puck looks back up and smiles at Kurt. After a moment he clears his throat and turns back to face his plate, taking his hand with him.
They eat in silence for a few minutes when Puck leans over and says, "Do you think Schue sat us together on purpose?"
Kurt laughs at Puck's apparent ability to read minds. "I was just thinking of asking him that."
Actually he was thinking about why Will had sat them together. So Kurt would have the chance to see how much Puck has changed? So Puck could apologize? Or-Kurt blushes at the thought-is Will trying to set them up?
As if knowing they were talking about him, a moment later Will and Diane stop by the table to say hi and thank everyone for coming.
"Hey guys," Will says has he pulls them both into a hug. "I'm so glad you made it. I know you both have a lot going on, it means a lot to me that you're here."
Kurt pulls back to smile at Will. "I wouldn't have missed it." Turning to Diane he adds, "You look beautiful Mademoiselle Schuester. I'm so happy for you both."
"Merci, Kurt. Vous amusez-vous ?" The new Mrs. Schuester asks and Kurt smiles as he realizes by her look that she is seeing if he remembers what he learned in her class.
"Oui, j'ai un temps grand. Merci pour la demande," Kurt replies in his best accent and doesn't miss the fact that Puck is watching him.
"Très bon, Je suis impressionné que vous vous souvenez." Diane laughs delightedly that Kurt can still speak so fluently. When she notices her new husband and Puck laughing at their exchange, she turns to them to explain, "Just checking to see if one of my brightest students remembers anything I taught him." Looking at Will, she adds, "Kurt assures me he is having a lovely time."
Before Kurt gets the chance to thank her for the compliment, Puck looks at Will and says, "No offense, Mr. Schue, but I hope you're not going to ask me anything in Spanish. I think Hola might be the only thing I remember."
Will laughs and pulls Puck in for another quick hug. "Well, then I'll ask in English. Are you having a good time?"
"Yeah, I'm having a great time." Puck's eyes flick toward Kurt as he answers, and Kurt can feel the flush bloom high on his cheeks. "The wedding was really nice, too."
"How did you like the song?" Will looks at both of them.
Kurt can feel Puck looking at him but he is not going to look back or he won't be able to answer. "Your voice is as good as ever. It obviously meant a great deal to your bride," Kurt answers diplomatically.
"I'm glad you liked it," Will sounds relieved and Kurt isn't going to point out the fact that that's not really what he said. "It's Diane's favorite. How about you, Noah-did you think it was OK?"
Puck's eyes go wide for a second, before he clears his throat and says, "Oh, um...yeah. What Kurt said. Great."
Thankfully, Will's attention isn't on him so he doesn't see Kurt look at Puck and roll his eyes.
"Good, good. Hey, I hope you guys are planning on sticking around after dinner. The band is fantastic. It's going to be a fun night." Will pulls them in for another hug before he and Diane head off to the next table.
As he and Puck sit back down sit down to finish their meal, Puck turns to Kurt and murmurs, "That was a pretty smooth answer there, Hummel."
"It was certainly better than yours, Puckerman. At least he didn't see us laughing at the ceremony," Kurt whispers back, and he remembers the feeling of Puck leaning against him shaking with laughter.
Puck snorts in agreement before he asks, "So are you going to stick around for a while? Hear the band, at least?"
Kurt wants to ask, are you? before he replies, but even though Puck's tone is casual, Kurt hears his hesitation, like he's...nervous to hear Kurt's answer, and the thought that Puck might want him to stay sends a flutter through Kurt's stomach.
"Well, like Diane said, I am having a lovely time, and I told my dad I'd probably be home late, so, yes, I plan to stay for a while." Kurt is pleased to see the smile that crosses Puck's face at his answer.
"Good. Me too. Let's just hope the band isn't a Journey tribute or we might have to find something else to do."
Kurt hopes his blush isn't as noticeable as he thinks it is as he imagines the many, many other things they could do together.
"You're telling me that you are going to have something you made at the Museum of Modern Art? That's...that is unbelievable!" Kurt shakes his head in shock at this news that Puck just slipped into their conversation like it's no big deal.
The reception is in full swing now, with most of the guests out on the dance floor enjoying the music. Kurt and Puck are the only two still sitting at the table where they have been since dinner finished. They haven't even left their seats, they've been talking so much, and never would Kurt have expected to be having such a good time talking with Puck.
They talk about where they live and how they spend their days. They talk about what they want to be doing and how hard it seems to get there. Kurt hears about how Puck ended up making the piece for the school, about how it helped pay for him to stay for grad school and how surprised he is that he's still in school-by choice. He gets to hear the pride in Puck's voice as he talks about the work he does, and the shock at how much he likes helping the younger students as part of his graduate work.
And Puck seems really interested when Kurt talks about how he finally made it to New York in the fall when he got to go to Fashion Week and how, if he plays his cards right, he might get to go to Paris in the spring. And Puck doesn't laugh when Kurt admits how surprised he was to find that he actually likes still living in Ohio.
They tell each other what they know about their classmates. Kurt fills Puck in on how Mercedes is doing and how Finn is freaking out because his girlfriend wants to get engaged, and he's surprised to hear that Puck still keeps in touch with Artie, who just completed his music degree at Oberlin. He also learns that Puck had planned to stay with Artie this weekend but instead is staying at the hotel because Artie has a job interview in Chicago.
And Kurt's willing to admit that, sure, the two glasses of wine have probably made him chattier than he might normally be, but it certainly isn't the reason he's enjoying the conversation so much. It feels familiar and comfortable but brand new at the same time. He's getting to know who Noah Puckerman is now, and it seems like Puck is just as interested in knowing about Kurt as Kurt is in learning about him. And the more Puck talks, the more interested Kurt gets.
"I just said maybe. I submitted a piece for a show they're putting together and it's been accepted for consideration. Which pretty much means that they're their willing to look at it long enough to tell me why it sucks. My advisor's the one who told me to submit it. He's kind of an ass; I think he's hoping they'll tell me to go fuck myself. Like it'll teach me a lesson or something."
"Puck, you have to know what a big deal it is to even get considered, right? Who cares how it came about." Kurt thinks he's making an excellent point, so when Puck huffs out a laugh, Kurt replies with, "What? You know I'm right."
"It's not that. I get that it's a big deal, I just don't want to get my hopes up. But that's not why I laughed. I'm just not used to being called Puck anymore."
"Really?" Kurt had never considered the possibility that Puck might not still use a nickname he picked up in high school, but he supposes it makes sense. "I'm not calling you Puckzilla, no matter how well we're getting along," Kurt answers with as straight a face as he can manage until Puck rolls his eyes.
"Very funny, but everybody just calls me Noah now. You know, when I got to school, nobody knew me, and it sounded kind of stupid to introduce myself as Puck."
It takes Kurt a moment before he tries it out. Noah. It somehow feels more personal-more intimate-to call Puck by his given name. Like by calling him Noah, Kurt can't hold on to the excuse to not be attracted to the man in front of him because it's Puck, arrogant bully and former tormentor.
"All right then-Noah-I am going to head up to the bar. Can I bring you anything?"
"I'll come with you. We've been sitting so long I need to stretch my legs."
When they get up to the bar there's a bit of a wait, but while they're talking, Kurt can't help but notice how the bartender keeps looking their way-how he keeps looking at Puck- and Kurt feels a pang of jealousy that surprises him.
He certainly has no claim on Puck, and doesn't even know if Puck would be interested in him trying to stake one. Reading people has never been Kurt's strong suit, so he tends to err on the side of caution and not make assumptions; but if nothing else, Puck definitely seems to be enjoying Kurt's company. He could have made an excuse to get away from Kurt a dozen times tonight, but they've spent the entire evening together. And if it were anyone other than Puck, Kurt would say he's flirting; it feels like he's flirting anyhow.
When they get up to the bar, the bartender gives Puck a bright smile. "Couldn't stay away, huh?" and leans in closer to say, "What can I do for you?"
He's laying it on kind of thick, and Kurt would roll his eyes if it wasn't making him kind of pissed. Thankfully, Puck doesn't seem to take the bait and just answers, "I'll take another draft." But just as Toothy Bartender's about to try again, Puck turns and winds an arm around Kurt's waist to pull him up beside him and asks, "Do you want another glass of wine?" Puck keeps his body turned toward Kurt and doesn't pull his arm away, and Kurt gets it. He supposes that it's a nice way for Puck to shoot down an advance, but Kurt's certainly not one to waste an opportunity.
Pressing himself against Puck's side, he looks in Puck's eyes for a moment before pasting a sweet smile on his face and answering, "I think I'll just have a club soda this time. I have a feeling I should keep a clear head tonight," before turning to look directly at the bartender and narrowing his eyes.
The bartender steps back quickly and hurries off to get their drinks, and even though he can feel Puck trying to suppress his laughter, Kurt doesn't bother to move until he returns with their order. Kurt makes a point of taking Puck's drink first and handing it to him himself and Kurt wills his blush away when Puck winks at him.
As he turns to head back toward the table he only gets a few steps away when he feels Puck's arm snake around his waist again and he leans in to say, "That was quite a show back there."
"Hey, you started it. You didn't seem too interested in what he was offering."
"I made the mistake of talking to him when I first got here. I bar-tend at one of the college bars sometimes for extra cash, so I waited at the bar for a bit before going over to the table. I think he's hoping to take one of the guests home tonight."
Kurt can't help his petulant tone when he says, "I think he wanted to take you home tonight."
Puck doesn't respond until they're almost to the table. Puck stops and sets his drink down and turns to look at Kurt, hand still on Kurt's waist, and says, "He wishes. Let's just say he's not my type," then lightly runs his hand up Kurt's side before he turns back and sits down.
Kurt just stares at the back of Puck's head for a moment before he pulls himself together enough to sit down, and, for the first time all evening, Kurt doesn't know what to say. He wants to ask Puck just what his type is, but if Kurt's being honest, he's terrified of any answer Puck might give.
Thankfully the awkward silence is quickly interrupted by the announcement that they're going to cut the cake. Many of the guests have crowded around to watch and since he can't really see anyway, Kurt tells Puck he's going to use the restroom and will be right back.
Away from the music and the crowd, Kurt uses the opportunity to try to figure out what is happening between he and Puck. And it sounds crazy, but the truth is, if Kurt had just met him tonight, he wouldn't even second guess his interest.
He's having a wonderful time with an attractive man who's talented, funny, nice, and who Kurt feels really comfortable around. He'd be a fool to pass up the opportunity.
It's been over a year since he split up with his boyfriend and Kurt's finally over all the drama and feels ready to date again. And he has gone out, he's been on a few dates, has even had a rather embarrassing drunken hook-up that he hasn't even told Mercedes about, but he's been so busy trying to get his career going, it hasn't been a priority.
And it's not always easy for Kurt to meet new people. He knows his nervousness often makes him awkward-he's never been that great at flirting-and he's not often willing to open himself up for new people to get to know him. But maybe it's because they do already know each other that Kurt has felt so comfortable with Puck and has just been himself. He hasn't felt nervous all evening. Until now, that is.
But he's not going to let that stop him. He may not know where this is going, but he definitely plans on enjoying the ride.
When he gets back to the table Puck's seat is empty, but there are two pieces of cake at his place. He looks around the room and finally spots him on the dance floor with Coach Bieste.
She's several inches taller than Puck, even wearing flats, and with her height and broad shoulders she stands out on the dance floor. But she is quite graceful, and she and Puck make a captivating sight dancing together, and Kurt can tell by the smile on Puck's face and by how she's laughing that they're enjoying catching up with each other.
Kurt's so busy watching that he doesn't notice when Will steps up beside him until he says, "You two seem to be having a pretty good time together. I think this is the first time I've seen you apart all evening."
Kurt can't help his blush at the truth in Will's statement. He's still watching the dance floor when he says, "Believe me, no one is more surprised than I am."
He looks at Will, who's grinning at him, and says, "Why didn't you tell me about him?"
"Would you have believed me?" Will's grin fades a little when he asks, because he knows what the answer is.
And Kurt knows it too. He knows he wouldn't have believed anything that Will might have said that tried to change what Kurt thought he knew about Puck. He still wouldn't if he hadn't seen it firsthand.
So he doesn't even bother to answer Will's question. Instead he says, "I didn't even know you'd stayed in touch with him. I was shocked when I saw him at the church."
Will at least has the decency to look apologetic as he says, "Well, he was going through a pretty rough time with his mom when we first started talking. It wouldn't have been appropriate to talk about. But I'm glad I got to know him; he's a great guy. I figured I'd let you see for yourself."
"Is that why you sat us together?"
"I've watched you both grow up a lot over the past few years. I thought it'd be nice for you guys to have the chance get to know each other."
"He seems to already know about me." Kurt replies, his irritation at being the one who didn't know Puck and Will were friends coloring his tone. "He knew I'm in Columbus, and that I'm working in fashion. He even knew I'd been invited to the wedding. I felt like an idiot that I didn't even know you two were friends, or that he was in college or that I hadn't at least heard about how he made that amazing sculpture at the school. You'd think that between you and Finn, someone would have said something to me."
"You never seemed all that interested in what was happening with the other kids from Glee once you left. You rarely even ask what I know about the kids you actually got along with, Kurt," Will admonishes in that knowing teacher tone that makes Kurt feel like he's back in high school. "And Puck knows how you've been because he asks. He happened to call one night after I'd just talked to you. You'd just gotten word on your internship and were so surprised and excited, I mentioned it. You know what he said? 'Of course he got it. Hummel's the smartest one of us all.' Since then he almost always asks how you're doing."
Kurt blushes at the compliment and the fact that Puck thought that even before tonight. "He certainly isn't what I expected. You're not holding back any information on anybody else, are you? Is Tina running for Congress? Did Rachel win a Tony?"
Will laughs. "No, but I did hear that Mike's playing in the Minor Leagues now, so that's something." He steps a little closer and looks at Kurt thoughtfully for a moment before he says, "I'm glad you and Noah are getting along. He didn't say anything, but I think he was hoping to see you tonight."
Kurt's been wondering all evening if Puck's interest in him is anything more than friendly. And Will would tell him, because he knows how careful Kurt is about that and doesn't want to embarrass himself. Or Puck. He gets out, "Will, is Pu..." when Diane sweeps up next to them to tell Will that his parents are getting ready to leave.
As Will is led away, he looks at Kurt and says quickly, as if he knows what Kurt was about to ask, "Have fun tonight. You and Noah have more in common now than you used to."
Kurt chokes back a laugh at Will's covert answer, but he's thankful for it nonetheless. When he turns back to look at the dance floor Puck's still standing near Coach Beiste, as well as Mrs. what-is-her-name?, the art teacher, but he's looking right at Kurt. When their eyes meet, Puck smiles and turns to say something to Coach. Kurt sees her throw her head back in a laugh and ruffles Puck's hair before she cuffs him on the shoulder and gives him a shove in Kurt's direction. Puck looks embarrassed as he runs a hand over his hair, but it doesn't stop the way he practically swaggers over to Kurt and steps close enough that Kurt can feel the heat from dancing pouring off of Puck's body.
Will's voice ringing in his ear, Kurt leans in to say, "You're quite the dancer. You two looked great out there."
"Yeah? You want to take a spin out on the dance floor?" Puck closes the distance between them to wrap an arm around Kurt's waist and slides his free hand down Kurt's arm to press their hands together. "I remember you used to have some pretty good moves yourself."
He doesn't give Kurt a chance to answer before he takes the lead and begins moving them in a circle. They don't move toward the dance floor; the song playing is nearly over, but Kurt's not sure he could get his feet to cooperate anyway, he's so focused on the feeling of being pressed up against Puck's body, so warm and solid, and Kurt's heart is beating so hard he's certain that Puck can feel it.
"I'm not sure Lima is ready to see two men dancing together," Kurt manages to whisper, but he doesn't try to pull away, because he's not stupid.
Puck pulls back just enough to look at Kurt. "Hey, we look hot. Who wouldn't want to watch us together?"
"You think so?" Kurt looks around, and, sure, a few people are watching, but no one looks repulsed or even bothered for that matter. Of course most people are busy with their own conversations, so they're not even looking, but it's still nice to know that not all of Lima is as narrow-minded as Kurt once thought. When Kurt looks back at Puck he adds, "I'm still trying to wrap my head around the fact that you'd want to dance with me at all."
Puck gives Kurt a sly smile that Kurt hasn't seen in years, before he presses himself back up against Kurt and whispers into his ear, "Kurt, I've been trying to figure out a way to get this close to you all night."
A flash of heat runs through Kurt at his words and the feeling of Puck's lips brushing against his cheek as he talks, and it takes all of Kurt's effort not to turn his head and press a kiss against Puck's neck even though he really, really wants to. But they are standing in a room full of people, and dancing together is one thing, but making out in full view of everyone might be a bit much. Besides, Kurt doesn't want to start anything he can't follow through on. So instead Kurt runs his hand up Puck's back until it's resting at the base of his neck and runs his fingers through the soft fuzz of hair that he feels there to let Puck know that he is very okay with the idea of Puck being this close.
It takes Kurt a moment to realize that the music has stopped. Apparently Puck wasn't aware either, because he looks a little confused when Kurt steps back until Kurt nods toward the stage where Will is now talking and thanking everyone for coming.
They take their seats as Will calls for Diane to join him and as the band begins to play they watch as Will serenades his bride with "The Way You Look Tonight."
"You know, when I saw there was a band, I figured it was only a matter of time before Schue started singing." Puck says quietly as he pulls his chair closer to Kurt and slides a piece of cake toward him. "Here. I grabbed you a piece since you were gone when they came around."
"Thanks." Kurt smiles at Puck's thoughtfulness and notices that Puck waited for him to eat as well. "Well, at least it's not Air Supply. After some of the songs he made us sing in glee, nothing would surprise me."
As they eat their cake and remember Will's more interesting song choices, Kurt realizes that the reception is almost over, but he doesn't want the evening to end. Most of the people who sat at their table are gone, and Will and Diane look like they are getting ready to leave themselves.
Puck catches Kurt looking around and before he has a chance to think of a way to extend their evening, Puck leans in and says, "I noticed a little bar off the lobby when I checked in. It's still pretty early, do you want to head over, or do you have to get going?"
Kurt almost laughs at the thought that Puck would even think that there is anything he would rather be doing than going wherever Puck wants to take him, whether it's to the hotel bar, or straight up to his room. Because he's pretty sure he knows where this is headed, and he thinks Puck knows it too. But the fact that he also likes the idea of spending more time just talking and getting to know each other is what scares him.
It's crazy and unexpected, and a small part of Kurt knows that nothing can ever come from this, because after tonight they're still going to live over an hour apart and they each have lives to go back to. So he should say that he really does need to get going, that his Dad is waiting to see him, but what comes out is, "I'd love to. I just have to go get my jacket from the coat room."
"Great," Puck says and he looks so relieved that this time Kurt actually does let out a small laugh, and Puck's mouth curves into a smile. "I'm going to use the john while you get your coat."
As Kurt goes to stand, Puck does as well, and Kurt is acutely aware of just how close they're standing. He can feel the memory of Puck's body pressed against his, and he can't stop the flush he knows is blossoming on his cheeks. And he knows Puck sees it, because his hand comes up to press against Kurt's cheek for just a second, like he can't stop himself from wanting to feel the heat of Kurt's skin.
"I'll meet you there in a few minutes," Puck says as he pulls his hand away quickly and turns to head off in the direction of the restrooms. Like if he stands there another second, he's not going to be able to control his actions.
Still feeling Puck's hand on his cheek, Kurt makes his way to the coat room and pulls out his phone. His dad is expecting him to come home tonight, and Kurt needs to find a way to say that he's going to be home later than he expected without blurting, "I might hook up with Puck".
Just thinking it makes Kurt laugh out loud, and he's still smiling when Carole -thankfully- picks up the phone. Kurt knows it'll be much easier to pass off an excuse to her as to why he will be out late. He's never been very good at getting anything past his dad.
"Sorry I'm calling so late. I didn't wake you, did I?"
"No, your Dad just crawled into bed. Do you need me to get him?"
"No," Kurt says loudly, trying to keep the panic out of his voice. "You don't need to bother him," he adds more quietly. "I just wanted to let you both know that I'm going to go out with some friends after the reception. I might be home pretty late. I just didn't want you guys to worry."
"That's wonderful, Kurt. I'm glad you're having a good time."
Kurt knows he's blushing as he replies, "Oh, I am." Hedging his bets, Kurt adds, "If it gets too late, I'll probably just crash at one of their houses. I know Dad wouldn't want me driving if I'm exhausted or if I've been drinking."
He knows he's laying it on a little thick, and when Carole doesn't answer for a few seconds, Kurt thinks he's busted, but she just says, "You're so responsible, Kurt. I wish Finn would..."she trails off and Kurt actually feels a little bad that he has lied so successfully. But it's not his fault his step-brother is an idiot. "I'll tell your Dad, dear. Have a good night."
"I will." Kurt's certain of it.
He's still jittery from the phone call as he makes his way across the lobby, but stops short when he sees Puck standing outside the bar. He's leaning against the wall, his suit jacket slung casually over his shoulder with a small smile playing on his lips. Kurt almost can't believe that that man is waiting for him and he can't help the feeling that the universe is just waiting to pull a joke on him. Like he'll blink his eyes and none of this will be real.
Puck hasn't seen him yet, so Kurt waits and watches as Puck rubs a hand over the back of his neck and shifts his weight. The gesture floods Kurt with relief, and knowing that Puck is just as nervous as Kurt gives him what he needs to continue across the lobby.
As soon as Puck sees him, his smile widens and his eyes light up in a way that practically pulls Kurt to him, and Kurt doesn't stop until he's standing right beside him.
"You keep standing here looking like a GQ model and someone is bound to try and pick you up."
Puck just laughs and rolls his eyes. "I'm pretty happy with my current company, so they'd be wasting their time." Putting his arm around Kurt's waist, he turns toward the bar entrance.
Absolutely, thinks Kurt. "Lead the way."
"Did you know in high school?"
They've been at the bar a little over an hour, Kurt nursing his pomegranate martini -that Puck ordered like a pro- and their conversation has certainly taken a more personal turn, but Puck hasn't seemed to mind and, surprisingly, Kurt hasn't either.
He's been able to talk about his break-up with Aaron with shocking ease, about finding out about the affair and how he blamed himself for a long time. He tells Puck about how helpful Will was in getting him through that and as they talk, Kurt realizes he really is over it. Puck doesn't mock or laugh, and Kurt is filled with warmth when Puck says, "That guy was an idiot."
Kurt finally gets the confirmation he's been hoping to hear when Puck talks about the guy he'd been seeing off and on for a couple of years before deciding to break things off when he graduated, telling Puck he needed a 'clean break' now that he was heading out into the real world.
"Whatever that means," Puck had added with a snort.
And the funny thing is, Kurt knows that there was a time that if he'd heard what had happened to Puck he would have thought he deserved it, after the string of broken hearts he left at McKinley. But he's older now and understands some lessons you just have to learn the hard way.
But thinking about Puck in high school is what leads him to asking Puck if he knew back then. He doesn't have to elaborate on what he means and Puck doesn't even look surprised that Kurt asked. In fact, he almost looks like he's been expecting the question.
"Yeah, I knew. Even I couldn't deny what all those dreams about Sam's mouth meant."
"Really? Sam? Did you guys ever..." Kurt can't finish his sentence through his shock, but he would like to know if his first instincts were correct. He's doubted his gaydar ever since Sam told him he wasn't gay.
"No. I don't think Sam swings that way. But I doubt I would have done anything about it even if he did."
"Why not? I'm starting to think the entire McKinley football team was hiding in the closet." Kurt can't help the disappointment that seeps into his voice as he thinks how nice it would have been to not be the only one out at school.
"We're not all as brave as you, Kurt."
That isn't what Kurt was expecting to hear, and is even more surprised when Puck continues, "Seeing everything you went through... God Kurt, you even had to switch schools. It was just easier to keep my mouth shut."
"You could have talked to me, you know. When I came back...we got along okay...you were always over hanging out with Finn..." Kurt says, and as soon as the words are out of his mouth, he realizes the truth in them. They did get along all right. Sure, they were never friends, but it seemed like Puck was always hanging around their house senior year.
Puck stares at him for a second before he answers, "I figured you'd laugh in my face or think I was making fun of you. Besides, I wasn't really ready to deal with it, you know?"
"I wouldn't have, you know. Laughed." Kurt remembers how hard it was back then. The only thing that had been harder was pretending to be something he wasn't. He can't imagine not being able to tell anyone. As hard as it was with his dad for awhile, Kurt is still thankful for how much Burt supported him then, and now.
"It doesn't matter now. Seeing that you weren't going to let anybody tell you who you were made it a lot easier for me when I finally got away from McKinley. I realized I could just be me. You had a lot to do with that." Puck reaches across the table and lays his hand over Kurt's.
Touched by the fact that he had been an example to anyone, let alone Puck, Kurt lifts his hand to thread his fingers through Puck's and gives a squeeze. "It means a lot to me to hear that. I'm glad you worked it out"
Kurt is so caught up in the feeling of Puck's hand in his that he doesn't see the waitress come up to the table until she says, "Last round, gentleman. Can I bring you anything?" She is looking at their hands as she talks, and Kurt feels the urge to pull his hand away, but Puck just tightens his grip and answers, "I'm good, thanks. Do you want another one?" He asks as he looks at Kurt and nods at his near-empty glass.
Kurt looks at the waitress, who is blushing, but smiling, as she looks at them. "Nothing for me either," he tells her.
The waitress looks for a second longer before she nods, "You gentlemen have a good evening," and walks over to the only other table that is still occupied.
Faced with the fact that the bar is getting ready to close, Kurt isn't sure what to say. This has become so much more than just a pick-up with a good looking guy or even catching up with a former classmate. He's connected with Puck in a way he hasn't with anyone in a long time. He doesn't want just one night, but he can't stand the thought of walking away now.
Kurt is pulled from his thoughts by the feeling of Puck's thumb rubbing across the pulse point on his wrist. When he looks up he has to stifle a gasp at seeing the emotions that are coursing through him reflected in Puck's eyes.
"Noah," Kurt says at the same time Puck says, "Kurt."
Kurt doesn't get the chance to continue as Puck pulls on his hand and draws Kurt towards him. "Kurt," Puck says again in almost a whisper. "Come upstairs with me. Please."
Kurt is so close now that he can feel Puck's breath ghosting across his cheek, almost burning him.
There are a thousand things that Kurt should think about before he answers; but, pushing all that aside, Kurt takes the chance and for once just goes with what feels right and leans in to brush his lips over the soft skin under Puck's ear.
A rush of pure want floods through Kurt at the sharp breath Puck takes at his answer. Puck pulls back and for a second he thinks Puck's going to kiss him right here. But Puck's eyes dart quickly to the side of the room and when Kurt's eyes follow he sees the occupants of the other table staring at them. Instead, Puck turns his head and places a tender kiss to the underside of Kurt's jaw, and Kurt knows Puck is looking right at the group staring at them.
"Come on, then," Puck murmurs as he pulls Kurt up, mouth still pressed against Kurt's neck. "I don't want you distracted by an audience."
And Kurt is pretty distracted, more by the feeling of Puck's hand moving up his spine than anything, but Kurt pauses for a moment to pull out his wallet and, remembering the waitress's smile, leaves a twenty on the table.
Puck barely gets a chance to raise an eyebrow before Kurt is sliding his hand around Puck's waist to pull him close and press their lips together. It feels like he's been waiting all night to kiss Puck, and he'll be damned if he's going to wait another second. He certainly doesn't want Puck to think he's at all embarrassed by their being together. It's quick and not nearly enough, but he thinks he gets his point across.
By the look on Puck's face it's not enough for him either so he's not surprised when Puck's hand lands on his back and he quickly guides Kurt towards the elevators.
It feels like an eternity just waiting there, Puck's hand still on his back, fingers flexing as though he needs an outlet for his anticipation. And Kurt can relate. The air around him feels charged, like if he leaned back and pressed himself into Puck, it would set off an explosion.
A few hotel guests walk by and Kurt wills them not to stop at the elevators, and thankfully they keep walking. One guest is drunkenly singing as he passes and that's when Kurt registers the soft music playing overhead and Tom Jones singing about flowers and lots of hours, so go and powder your little pussycat nose.
As soon as he hears Puck's snort of laughter, Kurt feels something snap in him and he doesn't even try to hold back the rush of laughter that escapes him. He leans back to revel in the rumbling of laughter in Puck's chest as he laughs unreservedly. And the anticipation isn't gone, far from, but it feels warmer and more playful now. Kurt feels a twinge in his chest when Puck draws his arms around Kurt's waist and sings into the back of Kurt's head, you're delicious and if my wishes can all come true, and Kurt knows he'll never hear that song again without remembering this moment.
By the time the elevator doors-finally-open, Kurt's thankful it's empty because he doesn't even wait until the doors have closed before he turns and presses himself flush against Puck and captures his mouth for the kiss he's been thinking about all night.
Puck's hand slides into Kurt's hair to tilt his head, and when he feels Puck's tongue trace his bottom lip he gasps at the sensation and presses in for more. He feels like he's on fire, heat radiating out from where Puck's touching him, one hand sliding up and down his back, the other still tangled in his hair like Puck can't get close enough.
When the doors open, Kurt doesn't even bother to look to see if there is anyone waiting to get on, and he hopes that they're at Puck's floor because Kurt is too busy enjoying the hot kisses Puck's pressing to his jaw and the feeling of Puck's teeth scraping down his neck to pay attention.
Puck seems to know where they're going, though, because before Kurt has time to register why Puck is pulling away, he's already fumbling with the key card to get the door open.
And Puck has already pulled his jacket off before Kurt is even fully in the room, then Puck's pushing him up against the wall and kissing Kurt like he needs it to live.
Kurt spreads his legs further apart and pulls Puck even closer, his hands fumbling to get Puck's shirt untucked from his pants, and when his hand connects with Puck's skin, hot and smooth, Puck murmurs Kurt against his lips before diving back in to kiss him, hard and desperate.
Kurt feels like he's racing to catch up; his lungs burning and his mind can't focus, he's trying so hard to take in the feel of Puck's tongue in his mouth and the way Puck's hands are flexing on his chest, and the-oh, god-feeling of Puck's erection pressing against his.
With a gasp, Kurt pulls his mouth away to refill his lungs and Puck uses the opportunity to run his tongue down Kurt's neck and try to pull Kurt's tie open.
"Let me," Kurt says breathlessly and pulls at the knot on his tie. Puck pulls back enough to pull his own tie off and unbutton his shirt, and Kurt is mesmerized watching as Puck's chest is slowly revealed to him.
As soon as his shirt is off, Puck turns his attention back to Kurt's neck and chest as Puck works open each of Kurt's buttons. Kurt can barely concentrate enough to get his suit jacket off before Puck's tugging Kurt's shirt off his shoulders and dropping it next to the suit jacket on the floor.
And Kurt doesn't even care about the rumpled heap of clothes; he's too busy running his hands over the well defined muscles of Puck's chest and across his stomach, around to his back where he can finally pull Puck up flush against him and capture his mouth again.
This kiss is slow and warm and so full of passion Kurt feels like he's melting from the inside and burning where Puck's hands touch him. Strong hands grip his hips and it takes Kurt a moment to realize that Puck is backing up towards the bed, which is a fantastic idea, so Kurt makes the effort to get his legs to cooperate and move even though he has to borrow a little of the focus he is using to enjoy the way Puck is sucking on his tongue.
Then Puck's hands are everywhere, dragging across Kurt's shoulders and down his arms, lingering on the soft skin at the inside of his elbow; exploring his chest and feeling every rib, like he's trying to memorize every inch of Kurt and it's so unexpectedly hot Kurt just stands there and lets Puck explore.
Puck's mouth follows the path of his hands, and he lifts Kurt's hand to circle his tongue over the pulse point of his wrist. Kurt can't hold back the embarrassingly loud moan he releases as Puck slowly drags his tongue up Kurt's arm and sucks on the tender flesh where his arm meets his chest.
And Puck is murmuring, the words vibrating against Kurt's skin, and Kurt is so caught up in the moment it takes a minute to realize what Puck's saying.
"...used to dream about this...fuck, Kurt, you're so hot..."
When the words finally penetrate the lust-fueled haze of Kurt's brain, he can't help the gasp that escapes when he realizes that Puck used to picture this back in high school.
"What did you say?" Kurt asks, and the last thing his dick wants right now is for Kurt to start a conversation, but Kurt needs to know.
"Mmmm...say what?" Is Puck's reply before he presses his mouth back against Kurt's.
It's almost enough to distract Kurt from the question, but he pulls back and runs his thumb over Puck's bottom lip and says, "You said you used to dream about this. Did you mean that?"
Puck's eyes widen like he hadn't realized that he'd said that out loud, and Kurt reaches down and grabs Puck's hips in case he's thinking of pulling away. But he needn't have worried, because even though Puck looks sort of embarrassed, he gives Kurt a filthy smile and leans in and whispers, lips brushing against Kurt's ear, "Babe, you have no idea. I used to wake up early when I'd stay over with Finn just so I could see you when you first woke up, wearing those ratty plaid pants, your skin all flushed from sleep and your hair sticking up, and you looked so fucking sexy all I could think about was how you'd look after you got laid."
Puck licks a hot stripe up Kurt's neck before he continues, "I'd listen to you fucking moan after taking your first sip of coffee and I'd wonder what you'd do if I just walked up and took that mug out your hands and dropped to my knees right there and made you moan like that for me."
If Kurt weren't all ready so flushed from arousal, he knows he'd be blushing clear up to his ears. Puck had stayed over so often back then, Kurt didn't bother keeping up appearances with his fancy pajamas, opting instead for comfort, never realizing that Puck was watching him...that he was fantasizing about them together.
Kurt can remember stumbling into the kitchen practically every Saturday morning his senior year to find Puck sitting at the table nursing a cup of coffee from the pot he'd made. He remembers feeling grateful for it at the same time waiting for Puck to make some rude comment about how he looked, which never came.
It was an odd routine they developed as the only two up that early in the house; Kurt would pour himself a mug and take a deep drink before walking the pot over to refill Puck's mug and sitting down across from him. Puck rarely spoke outside of a nod or a grunt in thanks for the refill, and back then Kurt just figured it was because Puck had nothing to say.
Turns out Puck just had a lot on his mind, and Kurt can't help but wonder what might have happened back then if he had ever bothered to try and strike up a conversation, or if he'd realized that he might be the reason Puck stayed over so often.
He doesn't think long on that, though, as Kurt is pulled from his thoughts by Puck dropping to his knees and looking straight into Kurt's eyes and saying, "I still want to hear you moan like that."
Puck never breaks eye contact as he unfastens Kurt's belt and works open the button on his pants, then hooks his thumbs into Kurt's waistband to pull down his pants and underwear in one swift motion.
Puck leans in and buries his nose in the crease of Kurt's leg, inhaling his scent, and it shoots a wave of desire through Kurt so hard it almost knocks him off balance. When Puck leans back to huff a hot breath over the tip of Kurt's cock, Kurt doesn't even try to hold back the moan he knows Puck wants to hear.
It's all Kurt can do to stay standing as Puck's mouth closes over the head and sucks hard to pull all of Kurt's dick into his mouth. Puck's hands are gripping Kurt's thighs so hard Kurt's sure it's going to leave bruises, but he's thankful for it, because it's distracting enough that he doesn't come just as they're getting started.
Kurt can't stop the thrust of his hips into that warm, wet mouth, and when Puck doesn't pull back Kurt runs his fingers into Puck's hair and fucks Puck's mouth.
Kurt's knees feel weak and he can feel the heat curling at the base of his spine when Puck pulls off with a pop and pushes Kurt's hips until Kurt lands on the bed with bounce.
Puck presses a hot kiss to the inside of Kurt's thigh before he stands to pull off his own pants and kick his shoes off. Kurt doesn't waste any time removing the last of his clothes, so that when Puck climbs over Kurt to stretch out beside him, Kurt can enjoy the feeling of having their entire bodies pressed skin to skin.
With Puck stretched out on the bed, Kurt uses the opportunity to do a little exploring of his own, loving the feeling of hardened muscles under his finger tips and smooth skin against his tongue. He wants to catalog every sound Puck makes, from the breathy pants when Kurt licks the hollow of Puck's throat to the sharp gasp and deep groan he lets out when Kurt sinks his teeth into the soft flesh right below Puck's navel. Kurt doesn't know if he'll ever have the chance to do this again, but he wants to learn all he can about Puck when he's like this, so open and wanting.
When he settles between Puck's legs to run his hands up Puck's thighs and trace light fingers over Puck's hipbones he can't help but watch Puck's face, flushed with want, eyes closed like he wants to focus completely on the feeling of Kurt's hands on him. And Kurt is happy to oblige, smiling at the way Puck throws his head back when Kurt finally wraps a loose fist around his cock and begins to slowly stroke.
Puck's dick twitches every time Kurt runs his thumb over the slick head, and when Puck draws his leg up, exposing himself completely, Kurt is so aroused by the sight, he has to take a deep breath and squeeze the base of his cock to keep from coming right then and there.
"Noah..." Kurt whispers. He's not even sure what he wants to say. I can't believe this happening, maybe, or, I've never wanted anything this much. In the end he doesn't continue because there are no words to describe this feeling.
Kurt runs his thumb once more over the tip of Puck's cock to collect the bead of moisture there before leaning over to take Puck into his mouth and press his thumb against Puck's opening.
Puck makes the most obscene sound Kurt thinks he's ever heard as he pushes his thumb inside, and when Kurt spares a second to let the shock sink in that he is actually doing this-that it's Noah Puckerman thrusting into his mouth and moaning his name-he doesn't notice the hand in his hair until he feels the tug to pull him up.
When Kurt lifts his head, Puck's looking at him, like he's staring right into him, and Kurt surges up to kiss Puck, timing the push of his tongue into his mouth with the thrusting of his thumb still inside Puck.
"Kurt, please," Puck says as he pulls back with a gasp, his tone full of need.
Kurt leans in for another kiss, tender and conveying just how much he wants this before he says, "Do you have supplies?" And, fuck, does he hope the answer is yes.
Puck answers with a breathy, "Yeah," followed by, "I'm pretty sure," before he pushes lightly on Kurt's chest so he can get up and get what they need.
Kurt's eyes follow Puck as he heads over to his duffel and begins to root around in it, then pulls out his shaving kit to look through it. Kurt's busy looking at every inch of Puck's gorgeous, naked body, but he still registers that Puck's not sure where or if he has what they need.
That actually makes Kurt feel a little better, because, if he's being honest with himself, in the back of his mind he's been telling himself that none of this is real, that Puck's just been doing what he needed to do to get laid tonight. Granted, it's been a lot of effort, but it's easier than believing that it's true, that Puck wants Kurt, and maybe has for a long time.
It's easier to believe when Puck turns around and smiles at Kurt, eyes dark with want, and his hand—thankfully—holding what they need, before he walks back over and drops a half empty tube of slick and a condom that looks like it's spent a fair amount of time rattling around in Puck's shaving kit on the bed.
Kurt can't hold back the snort of laughter as he realizes his fears of this being an elaborate seduction are unfounded. Puck quirks an eyebrow in question, but Kurt just shakes his head and says, "Just glad you found it," before he reaches out to pull Puck back down onto the bed and press a soft kiss to Puck's mouth. Puck's hands tangle in Kurt's hair and his hips thrust up, making Kurt moan at the contact as their cocks rub together.
But Kurt knows it can be so much better, so with considerable effort he pulls back enough to kiss down Puck's neck to his chest, slowly working his way back down Puck's body to get back to where he was before they had to stop to get what they needed. And there is no stopping now as Kurt licks a hot stripe up Puck's cock and wraps his mouth around the head while he fumbles to flip the cap of the slick open.
Puck draws his legs up as Kurt squeezes the slippery liquid over his fingers before pushing two inside Puck, and shudders at the thought of his dick being surrounded by the tight heat. But as much as he wants that, he doesn't want to rush this. He wants to memorize Puck's taste, his scent, the weight of his cock, the feel of Puck bearing down on Kurt's fingers. It's too much and not enough at the same time.
And Puck is talking; things like, so good, and right there as Kurt hits just the right spot inside. Soon his words turn to come on, and fuck Kurt, need you, and when Kurt pulls off of Puck's dick to look up, Puck is staring right at him, eyes wide and dark.
Kurt pulls away to reach for the condom and he has to hold back a moan as he rolls it down and he notices that his hands are shaking as he reaches for the lube to pour some into his palm and runs a slick hand down his length.
As soon as he's done, Puck reaches out to pull him into a desperate kiss and wrap his legs around Kurt's waist. Kurt lifts up enough to line himself up and push inside in one slow stroke, watching Puck's face as his mouth drops open and he lets out a deep groan, sending a shiver through Kurt.
The sound is almost enough to make Kurt lose it; he's already so close. Kurt pauses and takes a deep breath before he can continue, which earns him a breathless laugh from Puck.
When Kurt shifts a little and begins thrusting, Puck's laugh turns into a moan. Puck reaches between them to grip his erection, moving in time with the thrusts of Kurt's hips and using his legs to pull Kurt in as far as he can go.
Kurt knows this won't last long; he's so far gone already. He's caught up in being connected, of feeling surrounded by Puck—in Puck—feeling claimed as Puck whispers his name, in a way he can't remember having felt before. Pulling his gaze from Puck's hand as it flies over his cock, Kurt looks up only to be caught in an intense stare that inflames him and fuels him forward into a hard, messy kiss.
"Noah," he murmurs against Puck's mouth as his thrusts become faster and more erratic, the heat curling around his spine threatening to explode at any moment.
When he feels the shudder of Puck's orgasm, Kurt thrusts one more time before tensing and coming hard. Breathless and panting, Kurt slumps against Puck's sweat-slick chest and he feels Puck's arms wrap around him.
They lay there for a moment and Kurt listens to the pounding of Puck's heartbeat slow before he feels more than hears Puck say, "Fuck, that was hot."
"Hmm," is all Kurt is able to reply, he can't even open his eyes, but he manages to tilt his head up enough to press a kiss to Puck's jaw.
Puck shifts under him to roll them over, pressing Kurt's back to the mattress and pressing a gentle kiss to his lips before he moves away, and Kurt is far to boneless to even reach out in protest at the loss of contact.
He manages to open his eyes long enough to watch Puck pull off the condom, but he still can't quite summon the energy to follow Puck into the bathroom to clean himself up.
Perhaps it is the thought that, if he gets up, he'll have to figure out what to do next. The idea of getting up and leaving now is enough to make Kurt feel a little sick, but he's not entirely sure how Puck feels about it. And no matter how ridiculous the idea is of them trying to make something of this, Kurt cannot imagine not seeing Puck again after tonight.
He feels the bed dip down as Puck climbs back on, but he's unprepared for the warm cloth that Puck uses to wipe Kurt up. It's sweet and unexpected, and Kurt can't remember the last time he had so thoughtful a lover. He opens his eyes to see Puck smiling down at him just before he leans down to brush his lips across Kurt's.
"Can you stay?" Puck asks, but Kurt hears the question, Do you want to stay? in his voice.
"Of course," Kurt answers, finally able to summon enough energy to reach out to pull Puck back down beside him. Settling around Kurt, Puck leans in for a slow, intense kiss that feels full of promise and a passion that, even in his exhausted state, makes Kurt's dick twitch in expectation.
Kurt curls himself into Puck's side and revels in the feeling of Puck's body against his and his arm wrapping around his waist to pull him even closer as they settle in for sleep. It's been a long time since Kurt has slept this way with anyone, the memory of how he would always gravitate to the edge of the bed when he was with Aaron pushing its way in, and Kurt is struck with the thought that he feels more comfortable with Puck after one night than he did in two years with his former boyfriend.
"Are you okay?" Puck asks, and Kurt realizes he has tensed up while he was thinking.
"Mmm. This is nice," Kurt answers as he reaches up to thread his fingers through Puck's hair. Puck purrs at the contact, so Kurt does it a few more times before resting his hand at the base of Puck's head.
They lie there quietly for a few moments before Kurt says, "Noah, are you still awake?" He feels Puck nod in response before he continues, "I was wondering if, maybe tomorrow, you would come over to the school with me to look at the piece you have there. I'd love for you to show it to me."
Puck brushes his lips across Kurt's temple before he answers, "I'd like that." He pauses for a moment and adds hesitantly, "Maybe sometime you could come to Athens and see some of the other stuff I've done. You know, if you wanted to. It's only a little over an hour from Columbus."
"I'd like that," Kurt echoes Puck's answer, thrilled with the knowledge that Puck wants to see him again. Feeling like he's standing at the edge of something bigger than he's ever known, Kurt turns his head and presses his lips to Puck's neck to anchor himself in this moment.
The slow, steady rise of Puck's chest starts to lull Kurt into sleep, and Kurt doesn't mind because he's wrapped in the comfort of knowing that tonight is just a beginning.
He's just about to drift off when the last thing he hears is Puck whispering, "I used to dream about this, too."