Candles

Kurt remembers that day like it was the worst day of his life, probably because it was. He'd been sitting, having a coffee with the slightly-delusional dwarfish lead female of New Directions, and the next minute she was rushing over to Blaine, his Blaine, and kissing him. She was insistent on proving to Kurt that even sober, there was a spark between them. Kurt wanted to believe she was wrong, but with the way Blaine had been acting, he wasn't sure. What's worse was his reaction. He liked it. Blaine liked kissing Rachel even when he was sober. He asked her out right there on the spot, actually. Before Rachel even had a chance to turn around and tell Kurt out of excitement, the boy was long gone.

Kurt cried the whole way home, even though he knew he shouldn't. The thing about love is that people only get together at the very end, right? That's what Love Actually had taught him, and that movie was romance gold. He tried to tell himself that it would all be okay. Blaine would come around eventually, right? Why else had he been flirting with Kurt so much?

Despite his depression, Kurt still managed to have a knockout audition and get a solo with the Warblers for Regionals. It was shared with Blaine, but he didn't mind much. Kurt had done his research on the song and it was rather appropriate for the situation.

Blaine would always raise his eyebrow at Kurt and his oddly cold demeanor since the coffee shop incident. Especially when Kurt would get so into the song when they were rehearsing it was unnerving for Blaine. Kurt was supposed to be there supporting Blaine through this confusing time. It couldn't be that confusing if he was making out with Rachel every weekend, though, Kurt figured. He was still bitter about the whole situation, and as Mercedes and Tina had told him numerous times, he deserved to be.

Then it's the day of Regionals. Kurt is gearing up to sing a duet with his once-upon-a-time love interest turned just-another-Warbler in front of a thousand people. A thousand people including a dozen students from McKinley (that know exactly what's going through Kurt's mind) watch and listen as he begins the song.

"The power lines went out
and I am all alone.
I don't really care at all;
I'm not answering my phone.

All the games you played,
the promises you made,
couldn't finish what you started,
only darkness still remains.

Lost sight; couldn't see
when it was you and me…"

Of all the members of New Directions to see and hear the pain behind Kurt's words, it wasn't whom he would expect. They all sat there, entranced by his performance. Mr. Schuester seemed surprised at Kurt's sullen emotions; he had been raving about Blaine when giving him Christmas gift advice for Ms. Sylvester.

Blaine's lower voice joined Kurt's upper range when they began the chorus,

"Blow the candles out,
looks like a solo tonight."

Blaine sent a meaningful glance across the stage to Kurt as he sang the next line alone, "I'm beginning to see the light."

Kurt ignored him as they joined in together to repeat the chorus,

"Blow the candles out,
looks like a solo tonight."

Sending a small glance and a shrug in Blaine's direction, Kurt finished the chorus with a solo, "But I think I'll be all right."

The curtains on stage were still closed; it was just Kurt and Blaine up on stage, singing their hearts out. To the practiced eye, Kurt looked on the brink of tears. Blaine looked oblivious (as always) and the hearts of New Directions ached for him as Blaine began the second verse. He walked towards center stage.

"Been black and blue before.
There's no need to explain."

Kurt replied, moving towards center stage as well, "I am not the jaded kind; payback's such a waste."

Blaine began sensing tension; his brow furrowed with his next lines.

"You're invisible,
Invisible to me."

Choking back tears, Kurt sang the next part of the verse, "My wish is coming true. Erase the memory of your face."

The impact of the song on Kurt hit Rachel like a ton of bricks as he sang the next lines on his own.

"Lost sight; couldn't see
when it was you and me…"

Now at center stage, Kurt and Blaine stood, angled away from each other at the audience. It was better this way; the pain in Kurt's eyes was multiplied tenfold compared to what Blaine usually saw in Warbler's practice. He probably wouldn't be able to handle it. They came together for the chorus again, their voices mingling in sweet, minor-chord harmonies.

"Blow the candles out,
looks like a solo tonight."

Blaine turned to face Kurt as he sang, "I'm beginning to see the light."

Kurt kept staring at the audience in the distance, the bright lights keeping him from actually making eye contact with anyone in particular. They sang together,

"Blow the candles out,
Looks like a solo tonight."

As per the choreography, Kurt turned to Blaine and sang, "But I think I'll be all right."

Their eyes met for the first time the whole performance and Blaine almost forgot the words. Kurt looked so unbelievably sad considering he was finally singing a solo at Regionals, with the Warblers nonetheless. The words were hitting home and Blaine, ever the slow teenage boy, was only now realizing that the lyrics were what made Kurt so sad all those days in rehearsal.

Kurt stepped away and into the spotlight, staring out at the audience as he sang on his own once again.

"One day you will wake up
with nothing but 'you're sorrys.'
And some day you will get back
everything you gave me."

Blaine stepped forward and took Kurt's hand in his. It wasn't part of the choreography, but he felt like it was the right thing to do. Kurt stared out at the audience, ignoring the gesture, as they sang the chorus together one last time.

"Blow the candles out,
looks like a solo tonight."

Squeezing the hand he was clutching, Blaine sang earnestly, "I'm beginning to see the light."

He looked almost eagerly at Kurt, who had turned to Blaine with a sad smile before looking down at their hands when he came back in.

"Blow the candles out,
looks like a solo tonight."

Blaine gave Kurt's hand one last squeeze. With the final notes of the song, Kurt looked at Blaine and sang, "But I think I'll be all right."

He walked away, disappearing behind the curtain before Blaine could register the situation. The audience was applauding their performance, but Blaine didn't hear a single clap. All he heard was that final line, playing over and over again in his brain. Kurt had given up on Blaine completely, leaving him to look like a fool in front of over a thousand people during a competition. Blaine was so caught up in his thoughts he forgot to run backstage, causing the Warblers to start their second song late and be given a timing penalty.

Out in the audience, Rachel couldn't decide whether to be angry at Kurt for embarrassing Blaine or angry at Blaine for hurting Kurt's feelings like that. New Directions sat in their seats, Kurt's performance rocking them at their very core. They had all been there at one time, having their crush stolen from them by somebody else. Kurt was no exception to situations like this, they realized, and instead of watching him sing up there, pretending to be happy next to Blaine, they wanted to drag him backstage and shower him with hugs.

There was a break after the Warblers in which several members of New Directions shirked away to do just that, but they were called into the green room to prepare for their performance and couldn't stay long. Sitting at the end of a row, safely distanced from Blaine, Kurt watched as New Directions took the stage.

They had tried something very risky that year; original music. Looking down at the program, Kurt learned that the ballad currently being sung had been the brain product of Finn and Rachel. No wonder it was so cheesy and featured them heavily on lead vocals. After their painstakingly long duet, the song gave way to a much more upbeat, slightly country sounding hip-hop piece that had been written by…no, that couldn't be right. Artie Abrams and Noah Puckerman!

Kurt tried not to be too taken aback by this strange collaboration and talent and instead watched the group on stage. Not only had Puck teamed up with Artie to write this surprisingly good song, but he had a solo. And not some lame solo like two lines in Don't Stop Believin' like he got last year; no, this was at least half the song. Kurt had heard the guy sing before, sure, but this was different. When he was up on stage, lit up under the bright colors, running on adrenaline and badassness, he was amazing.

Without even realizing it, Kurt was giving New Directions a standing ovation before they even cut off the final note of their song. Most of the audience joined him not long after, and Kurt beamed for the first time in days. He was so proud of New Directions; he knew they were going to win.

And win they did.

Kurt rode home with Finn that evening, glad to have some time away from Blaine. In the weeks before regionals, Kurt had reluctantly stayed with David in Westerville because additional weekend practices were scheduled. But now Kurt could finally go home to his new house (well, new to him – it was at least thirty years old in actuality) and sleep in his bed and relax.

Not so much.

Carole and Burt were out at Burt's sister's house a few hours away; they would be gone until Sunday night. This also meant that I-need-a-backbone Finn had given in to Puck's insistence on a party to celebrate. Sighing, Kurt went upstairs to his room, leaving Finn and the others to make a mess of the living room in peace. After the whole April Rhodes debacle the previous year, Kurt hadn't really felt the need to drink. Plus, all it did was remind him of that kiss.

Upstairs Kurt sat at his desk, turned on his iPod, and started the playlist that had been his mantra the past few weeks; it consisted of mellow, angry songs (yes, they exist) that calmed his nerves and stopped his tears. Pulling out his journal, Kurt flipped through the pages, stopping at a particularly frustrating reminder of exactly what he was trying to forget.

Sickening red pen etched in a hundred times over spelled out 'Blaine + Kurt' and sat there surrounded in a terrible heart with an arrow through it. Kurt cursed himself for being so naïve and ripped the page out without a second thought. Crumpling it up, he tossed it in the trash and swore to never get so wrapped up in a guy again. It just hurt.

Flipping to an empty page, Kurt pulled a pen out of his desk organizer and began scribbling furiously at the page.

I hate Noah Puckerman. He's an insufferable asshat. Plodding around in those too-large boots of his, trying to be all badass with his stupid haircut and his cocky swagger. I just ... I can't stand him sometimes.

It's crazy how different he can be when he sings and dances. He acts so confident and macho all the time...but sometimes when he sings it's like I can see this different side of him; a side with all this heart and soul, with all the stuff he buries down deep inside of himself. When I see it, it's scary - not because of him, it's scary because when I see him in those moments I'm terrified of how much I feel myself wanting him. And now that I felt that way, it's like I can't help feeling that way ALL the time.

Finn is my first crush. I love him, I do, how could anyone not love him just a little? He's adorable, amazing and genuine. So why the hell would I ever want someone like Noah "Puck" Puckerman? He's everything that Finn's not and yet... no. He has this glimmer and gravitational sex appeal and I've never felt this way about anyone...ever.

When I go to sleep at night he's all I think about; Puck sweeping into glee club with his smartass-sexy grin...the way his hips swivel to a steady beat, those tight cotton shirts stretched around his biceps (sweet lord, his arms)...and those dark, shining eyes that can either have everything or nothing.

I think…well, no, I'm pretty sure I like

Kurt stopped and scribbled out the last two words. Ignoring the ugly black scribble on the page, he replaced it with a new word. Looking down at the paper, it read

I think…well, no, I'm pretty sure I like love

He bit his lip. It still didn't feel right. If he was going to bare his soul for this inanimate object, he was going to do it right. Scribbling on the page again, he fixed his word choice once more before continuing, satisfied.

I think…well, no, I'm pretty sure I like love I'm head over heels for Puck. And as much as it scares me – as much as I'll shiver to myself about it, alone at night in the dark of my bedroom, covers pulled up to my neck – I desperately

Well, that just made him sound desperate. Shaking his head and resolving to never call himself desperate, Kurt scribbled out that word and finished his statement.

I desperately want him to be my first.

Kurt let out a deep breath. The thoughts that had been swimming in his mind ever since Puck sang that amazing song he'd written himself were finally out there. Sure, no living person knew how Kurt felt, but he was learning that it was easier that way. If nobody knew, than nobody saw the rejection. It killed him that New Directions just kept sending him sympathetic looks. Nothing was more frustrating than sympathy from people that didn't even really get it.

At peace with himself and his thoughts, Kurt was startled by the rambunctious stomping up the stairs. Moments later, the very mohawked boy Kurt had been gushing about in his journal threw himself into Kurt's room, red cup in hand.

Kurt just sat at his desk, gaping up at Puck, surprised at the timing of it all. "There you are," Puck smiled stupidly.

He swayed on the spot and Kurt knew instantly that he was drunk. "I was lookin' for you," he smirked, shutting the door behind him as he walked into the room and sat down on Kurt's bed.

Eyeing the red cup in Puck's hand warily, Kurt just replied, "Don't spill that on my bed."

Looking down into his cup, Puck shrugged and chugged the rest. Then he tossed the cup at Kurt's garbage can and missed. At that, Kurt couldn't help but laugh. "So why were you looking for me?" he asked, trying not to sound like he was talking to a five year old.

"I was…I was talkin' to Mercedes," he explained slowly, focusing on each and every word. "She said you were sad and that you're cuddly."

Kurt raised an eyebrow. Yes, he was cuddly with Mercedes; she was his best fag hag! That didn't explain why Puck was sitting on his bed, though. "I'm okay," Kurt shrugged. "And why would you care if I was cuddly?"

"'cause cuddles cheer people up and I need a cuddle and so do you," Puck shrugged.

Exasperated, Kurt asked, "Why on earth would you need…a cuddle?"

He winced at the strange childlike phrase being used by the so-called "badass" but let it pass. Frowning, Puck said, "The song I wrote for regionals was shit."

Kurt looked appalled. "Are you kidding me right now, Puckerman!"

Puck just watched, his eyes looking shocked and innocent, reminiscent of a baby. "Your song was so amazing!" Kurt gushed. "Seriously, it was way better than that thing Finn and Rachel wrote. Plus, your solo was mind-blowing." He was suffering from word-vomit now, but Puck wouldn't remember in the morning, so he didn't bother stopping. "Seriously, Noah, you have talent. I don't know why you're being so hard on yourself. You're a good singer and as we found out tonight, you're an even better song writer."

Jaw dropped, Puck just stared at Kurt for a moment. "You really think so?" he asked, one corner of his mouth turned up in a smile.

Kurt nodded. "Can we still cuddle?" Puck asked hopefully.

Puck was drunk, Kurt kept telling himself. That's the only reason why he was asking. Puck was a very straight guy and he was very much into women. Then he felt strong hands tugging on his arms and Kurt found himself being dragged onto his bed. He fell upon the taller boy with an "oomph" and started giggling. Puck laughed and held Kurt close. Kurt was surprised to find that Puck didn't really reek of alcohol considering how drunk he was. Their eyes locked and the butterflies in Kurt's stomach went into overdrive. "Okay, Casanova, if we're doing this, we're doing this the right way," Kurt said, a smile still on his face.

He knew it was wrong, doing this with Puck when the guy was obviously drunk. It was just harmless cuddling though, right? Kurt pulled back the blankets on his bed before climbing up and crawling underneath them. Puck followed eagerly. "I've never cuddled with a guy before," Puck said happily, crawling under the covers next to Kurt.

It was all Kurt had not to burst out laughing at that statement. Instead he managed a weak chuckle and asked, "How much have you had to drink tonight?"

"Just…" Puck trailed off, looking deep in thought. He settled on, "A lot."

Kurt just laughed. Puck reached over and tugged Kurt to his chest unceremoniously. It caught the other boy off guard but he just went with it. "You smell good," Puck pointed out. "And your room is really clean. Mine's not clean. But yours is."

Kurt would have never pegged Puck as a cuddly drunk, but he was apparently very much mistaken. The guy was like a human pillow once he put a few drinks down. He couldn't figure out why he hadn't noticed it before, but maybe it was because he was busy staring enviously at Blaine and Rachel when Puck was using Lauren's chest as his own personal pillow. Whatever the reason, he didn't dwell on it. All he could think about was that Puck was holding him close, cuddling with him, and he wasn't repulsed.

Puck's strong arms were now wrapped around Kurt's torso, his face buried in Kurt's hair. Trying not to giggle, Kurt was faced with Puck's neck and shoulders, which were surprisingly comfortable considering the harsh angles of his body and the fact that he was all muscle and bone. His cologne was nice and Kurt didn't smell alcohol on him at all. It was glorious. But then he felt a rough hand tipping his face up and Kurt panicked. He looked up into Puck's eyes and he suddenly seemed like a whole new person, not just some guy that tossed him into dumpsters and slushied him every other day. Kurt was savoring the moment, but then Puck was leaning down, and his eyes were closing slightly, and Kurt freaked out.

Kurt backed out of Puck's arms and shook his head, quickly retreating. Clutching his knees to his chest, Kurt just said, "We can't do this."

"Why not?" Puck asked simply.

Kurt looked at him incredulously before realizing the whole premise of Puck in his bed in the first place. "You're drunk," he said simply. Sighing, he just shook his head and said, "You're drunk and I'm not going to take advantage of you."

"I'm not."

Puck shook his head and just sat there for a minute. Kurt looked at him disbelievingly. "Seriously, Kurt, I was just pretending," he shrugged.

"You lied to me!" Kurt asked, suddenly very angry.

"How else was I going to get you to actually talk to me?" Puck countered. "Besides, if I was drunk you'd smell it. Seriously."

Kurt looked at him skeptically. "Go smell the cup, even," Puck added. "I'll bet you anything it smells like root beer, not actual beer."

All of a sudden it was hitting Kurt. Puck wasn't drunk, meaning he wanted to cuddle for the hell of it? That couldn't be right. "Why are you here?" Kurt asked curiously.

None of it made sense; it's not like Puck was a mind-reader or anything – his grades would be much better if he was. Kurt laughed at the thought of somebody like Puck having super-powers. "You seemed sad so I came to talk to you," he shrugged. "Finn wouldn't shut up about you down there. When he's drunk he's just as weepy as Santana, I swear."

Kurt laughed at the image, and was a little touched by his step-brother's sentiments. "So, now that you know I'm sober, will you let me kiss you?" Puck asked suddenly.

Eyes wide, Kurt just sputtered before asking, "What?"

"You couldn't keep your eyes off of me after you saw us perform at regionals," Puck shrugged. "Plus, you were like, wetting your pants over how awesome and badass I was for writing a song. I know you have the hots for me, dude."

Kurt wanted to snap at Puck for calling him dude, but it sounded oddly endearing. Especially when Puck's preferred term of endearment had previously been 'Princess' and he would do anything to shed that nickname. His brain was screaming at him to accept, but the only words that came out of his mouth were scathing and rough. "I don't want your sympathy."

"No sympathy, I promise," Puck replied simply. "I had this planned before I even saw you guys perform together. Which was super sad, by the way, dude, and it sucks that he's such an ass. Rachel's not even that good of a kisser – he'll regret it eventually."

"Like I'm any better at it?" Kurt rolled his eyes.

Smirking devilishly, Puck said, "Let's find out."

"Does that line work on all the girls?" Kurt asked, laughing.

Laughing along with him, Puck admitted, "Never tried it."

Kurt's eyes bore into Puck and even though he was sure he'd regret it in the morning, Kurt nodded. "Fine," he said, his voice shaking a little. "Fine, I'll give you a chance Puckerman. But if you break my heart you know they'll all get pissed at you. Especially Finn. I'll get him drunk and send him after you to cry all over you and yell at you."

Puck looked absolutely horrified at the image and said, "Fine. Promise."

His lips lingered dangerously to Kurt's again, but this time they were both okay with it. "I didn't think you were gay," Kurt admitted softly.

"Bisexual," Puck said, as though it explained everything.

Kurt bit back a remark and just smiled. Of course Puck was bisexual. It would explain so much – like how he was always having sex. The population in McKinley that would actually put out for him had drastically diminished since Quinn and babygate. "Lauren didn't work out?" Kurt whispered.

"She said it was fun leading me on," he explained with a frustrated expression.

With a soft chuckle, Kurt told him, "I've been there."

Puck's expression turned to amusement just seconds before Kurt's eyes fluttered shut. The feeling of Puck's breath on his lips was heavenly. Then the other boy connected his lips to Kurt's and the world disappeared completely. Kissing a boy is nice, it turns out. Kurt's breath hitched in his throat as Puck's lips moved against his softly. It was everything he wished his first real kiss would be, and so much more. After a few seconds, he pulled away to breathe. "You okay?" Puck asked.

He nodded. Puck waited a few seconds before lowering them in the bed so they were lying down. Kurt's hair looked disheveled and sexy against the pillows and Puck rested on one elbow, lingering above him, their faces inches apart at the most. Kurt's breathing was still ragged and his cheeks were flushed. "Oh, shit, was that your first kiss?" Puck asked, panicked.

Kurt wasn't sure why that would be a cause of panic in the first place, but he didn't question it. He just shook his head and said, "No, not technically."

Puck raised his eyebrow and Kurt corrected, "Well, it's the only one that counts as a 'kiss,' how's that?"

For reasons Kurt couldn't figure out, that seemed to intimidate Puck. Feeling like he ruined the mood, Kurt tried to fix it. He reached up and placed his hand gently on the back of Puck's neck. Tugging gently, Puck followed and their lips connected again. They fell together perfectly right away this time, Puck's lips hesitant against Kurt's.

His heart was beating in his chest, and when Puck brought his body down to connect with Kurt's, he thought the other boy would be able to feel it. Puck's lips were firmer against his own; the intimidation of being Kurt's first completely gone from his mind. Puck rested gently to Kurt's side, either too stupid or too scared to obey Kurt's tugs and roll onto him. "You're not going to break me," Kurt muttered, his lips touching Puck's with every word.

Puck smiled and said, "If you say so."

He connected their lips again, this time a little rougher. The contact was unexpected and it sent a new thrill through Kurt's body. His senses were in overload and when Puck finally moved closer to Kurt, it was heavenly. His leg draped over Kurt's, his thigh lying dangerously close to the growing hardness in Kurt's pants. Puck's arm held Kurt's body close to his own and their lips remained in a heated kiss. Kurt arms were wrapped around his neck, keeping him down in the kiss.

The smell of Puck mixed with his kisses and his strong touch was doing things for Kurt that he would have never imagined. It was so different to be touched by someone other than himself. Kurt sighed into the kiss, content with the moment. Puck must have felt the same – he wasn't even pushing for anything more than kissing. His lips moved against Kurt's, his tongue occasionally exploring Kurt's mouth. He'd probably never admit it out loud, but Kurt was way better at kissing than Rachel. Like, exponentially better, and Puck didn't even know what that meant.

He was losing himself to Puck's touch – those strong, calloused hands were being put to good use for once. Puck ran his hand up and down Kurt's side, sending chills down the boy's spine. Kurt was getting really into it and almost ready for more.

"Kurt!"

They could recognize that voice anywhere. Finn was slowly (if the thuds were anything to go by) making his way upstairs. The two boys had enough time to pull away from each other and compose themselves before Finn burst in, his eyes wild. "What's up, Finn?" Kurt asked, trying not to sound annoyed. It was scary to think that Finn's feelings were a fickle thing when drunk.

"What're you guys doin'?" he asked, standing in the doorway stupidly.

Upon further inspection, Kurt could tell that Finn was, in fact, a weepy drunk. The tear tracks and red eyes were a dead giveaway along with the unbecoming sniffles. If Kurt hadn't known that the tears were shed for him, he'd be amused. Unsure of exactly what to tell Finn, Kurt just let Puck take it away.

"Making out," Puck shrugged simply.

Finn just looked confused. He looked between the two of them, apparently trying to figure out if they were lying or not. Kurt's heart was pounding in his chest – this could end very badly. Without a word, Finn just shrugged and left the room. "I should make sure he doesn't fall down the stairs," Kurt said guiltily.

Puck nodded. "I'll just be here, babe," he said simply.

Kurt rolled his eyes at the second (and not unwelcome) term of endearment. He could safely say that even though the Warblers lost regionals, it was still probably one of the best days of his life.

For the first time in a while, Kurt Hummel was happy, and nobody was going to ruin it this time.