Title:What Might Have Been (1/?) (Sequel to Can't Fight This Feeling)
Spoilers: Seasons one and two.
Word Count: 4,738
Disclaimer: Not mine. The characters of Glee belong to Ryan Murphy and Fox Television.
Summary: Six years after graduating high school and leaving Lima for college in New York, Kurt finds himself returning home to escape the lime light of his career and publicized fight with his rock star fiancé and is reunited with Puck.
A/N: This story was originally written as an RPG, which explains any shifty POV's. A very special thanks goes to our beta,kapasso . Feedback is appreciated!
Puck had tried as hard as he could to get away for the weekend. When he heard that Burt was going all the way to New York City to drag Kurt back home to Lima to escape the media frenzy after a very public fight with his rock star fiancé, he knew he could not bear to see his ex again and he tried to use some of those vacation days he had been saving up to escape. Yet Burt insisted that he stay and watch the shop while he was gone and Puck had no choice but to do as the other man said. Besides, he had two mouths to feed now and he could not afford to just pick up and leave.
Apparently, Burt decided that Kurt needed to come home for some downtime after he hit rock bottom. Not that Puck paid attention to that kind of stuff, anyway. He avoided the news and television all together for that very reason. Sometimes, he would not even look at the magazines in the super market in case he saw Kurt's beautiful face looking straight back at him, or worse, into the eyes of that monster he had decided to marry.
He wondered if Kurt even thought of him anymore. He knew he would not have all this fame and glory if he had stayed with him. He probably left and never looked back, especially not when he had a handsome, famous rock star boyfriend and the life Puck knew he had always dreamed of.
Puck, on the other hand, spent the last few years in misery, haunted by dreams of Kurt and unable to let go of his ghost. No one knew this, but sometimes, after everything was done in the shop and he was sure Burt was asleep, he snuck in through the basement window of the Hummel's house and lay down on Kurt's bed.
Sometimes he would touch himself, pretending that Kurt was still there in bed with him, eager to please with pouty lips and shaky, lustful fingers. Sometimes, he would simply bury his face into the pillow and inhale, hoping to catch just the faintest scent from him. He remembered that Kurt used to love to use perfumes and colognes, but Puck's favorite smell on him was his own scent in the morning after a night of rough sex. He would try to imagine that smell there, but as always, there was nothing.
Although Burt left his son's bedroom exactly how Kurt left it, it had been too long, and Puck could not feel him or smell him there.
The Welcome to Lima! sign made Kurt feel like he was going to throw up all over the interior of his dad's new truck. He hated this town and had promised to never go back. In the past few years, he paid to fly his dad and Carol either out to his penthouse apartment in New York or to the house he owned with Jonah in Los Angles just to avoid his hometown.
Before Burt came for him, Kurt had barricaded himself in his apartment after The Incident. That's how he referred to the very public fight between him and his fiancé that eventually involved the police. When Burt came banging on the door, demanding to be let in, he had been so high at the time he had almost considered ignoring him. Eventually, however, he finally opened the door and let his dad take charge of the situation.
The alcohol was the first thing poured down the sink along with a wide variety of prescription drugs. Kurt didn't remember a lot about that first day. His dad just held him and supported him until he was sober enough to get on an airplane. They didn't talk much besides Burt giving orders and Kurt following them. For that, Kurt was thankful.
Yet when they entered Lima city limits, Burt expected answers.
"Are you going to tell me the truth about how you got those bruises?" Burt asked, and Kurt said nothing as he pulled his large, dark sunglasses over his eyes and ignored him completely. He had been drug back to this hell hole of a town against his will, after all.
It was not soon afterwards that Kurt realized his father wasn't heading straight home. He stiffened in his seat and finally broke the silence. "Why are we going this way?" he asked in a hoarse voice.
"I just need to stop by the shop for a second. It won't take long and you can wait in the car," Burt said as he pulled into the parking lot of Hummel's Tire and Lube. Burt got out of the car and Kurt watched him go and tried not to think about who might be working tonight.
Puck almost dropped his tool on the ground when he heard Burt's heavy footfall and was relieved when he turned around and found the older man alone. He remained calm as if he was not worried about a thing.
"Oh, hey, I'm just finishing up for the day," he explained nonchalantly.
"Good, good," Burt said as he sat down heavily on a work bench and let out a tired sigh. It had been a long couple of days and he was psychically and mentally exhausted from dealing with Kurt. "I really appreciate you stepping up this past week," he said as he tried to rub a crick out of his neck from sleeping on the plane. "Listen Puck, I know you and Kurt didn't end things well and you will do your best to avoid him, and I understand. But I'm really going to need some help here and I don't just mean extra time in the shop."
The truth was that Burt was out of ideas on how to help his son. He hadn't even had time to talk to Carol about everything yet. When he heard the news broadcasted a week ago that police had been called to Kurt Hummel's apartment and his fiancé Jonah Lenox had been led away in handcuffs, Burt didn't even think things through before he packed and bought a plane ticket and called Puck to take care of the shop.
"I know you're thinking of skipping out on Friday night dinner tonight. I've gotten about fifteen phone calls from Naomi complaining about it. But I would appreciate it if you and the kids came anyway. It might make things go easier if the kids are there to distract Kurt. And you… you have always been able to get through to him."
Puck immediately panicked and backed up as if Burt was going to grab him and physically force him into this game. He knew Burt too well to not know what he was trying to do. He was trying to bring the two of them together again even though Puck was sure he could not even stand to see the sight of Kurt ever again.
"To distract him? No way. I- I can't go! I don't care what Naomi wants, I'll drop her off at the house tonight but then I'm goin' home!" Puck insisted.
Burt knew that he may have to play a little bit dirty to get what he wanted and he knew exactly what Puck's weak spots were. "Kurt has bruises all over him and he refuses to tell me what happened. If I can't convince him to press charges against that monster, he will go right back to him."
Puck nearly lost his head when he thought about someone abusing Kurt but he turned away from Burt anyway and pretended not to be worried about it. "I told you, I don't want to be involved. Maybe... maybe he fell or something and was embarrassed to admit it, you know how he is," Puck tried to brush it off like it was nothing. He did not know whether he was trying to convince himself or Burt.
Burt sighed. "Maybe," he said, although it was obvious he didn't believe it. "Well, at least drop the kids off tonight. They can spend the night if they want."
Burt had become like a grandfather to both Naomi and Beth. Shelby had died a year after Kurt left for college and she had left custody to Puck, who had stayed in Beth's life, despite Quinn trying to prevent it. Puck had a lot on his plate raising his teenage sister and Beth and Burt had been there for them since the beginning.
Puck was glad Burt was not pushing him into it, but he knew he was not giving up quite yet. "He doesn't want to see me, anyway," he muttered, pretending to be busy dusting off the car nearest to him.
"He doesn't want to see anybody," Burt did not argue, "It took me threatening to bust the door down to get him to open it. I know you think he hates you but the love you boys had for each other… that's not something that just goes away with time."
Puck did not want to hear that. It took all he had not to cover his ears. Burt knew what happened, of course. He knew that Puck had cheated on his son, and at first, Puck assumed that Burt would disown him in much the same manner that Kurt had. When he did not, Puck had always wondered why. "I'll drop the girls off but then I'm going home," Puck insisted again without looking at the other man.
Burt nodded and stood up. He had a feeling that in the end, fate wouldn't be able to keep his boys apart now that they were back in the same city. He never bought the rumor that Puck had cheated on Kurt. Burt always had a feeling that Puck had just wanted Kurt to go to college. And Kurt, being the stubborn boy that he was, wasn't about to leave him to chase his dreams. "You're a good kid," he said with a smile as he patted the boy on his shoulder as he left the garage. He didn't think Puck heard that phrase nearly enough while growing up because he always looked so surprised when he heard it from him.
Burt walked back out to his truck and opened the door. When he saw Kurt fast asleep, he sighed. These kids are going to be the death of me, he thought as he cranked the engine and headed home.
Puck sighed and quietly snuck up to the front of the shop to watch the older man hop into his truck. He saw only a glimpse of Kurt with his head against the window, sound asleep. Even with his eyes closed, he still looked restless, like he had just been through Hell and back.
Naomi's ride home from school dropped her off at the Garage and when she spotted her brother she gave him a glare. "I saw Burt's truck leaving, did he talk you into dinner tonight or are you still being a jack ass?"
She was sixteen now and too much like her brother. Her goth look and bad attitude got her into trouble frequently at school, especially with her History teacher, Mr. Karofsky. He seemed to take out his hate for Puck on her, and it just wasn't fair.
Puck turned to glare at his little sister who was still very much his little sister despite how things have changed. "Oh, shut up, why would you think I'm bein' a jackass? You don't care if I'm there, anyway," he responded a little defensively.
Naomi shrugged. "I guess I just want to see how you handle the situation. I know your famous ex boyfriend is back in town. You know Beth has a crush on him, how hilarious is that?" she smirked. Beth had always been a Broadway fan.
Puck tried to distract himself and fiddled around with his tools. "She does not, she doesn't even know what a crush is, yet," he muttered angrily, "And stop talking about it, I'm sick of hearing about him."
"Fine then, can we talk about his hot ass fiancé? I heard he left a supermodel girlfriend after he met him, and Kurt and Jonah made a very racy music video together. There's lots of skin in it if you need something to get you through the lonely nights."
That caught Puck off guard and he stopped working on cleaning his tools to sport the kicked puppy look that he did more often than he realized. "That's not funny, Naomi, now shut the fuck up and watch your damn language. And stay out of other people's business. That's why you get into trouble." Puck was well aware that Kurt had found someone better than him, or at least better looking. He already knew that they made a good looking couple together. He did not need people to remind him.
Naomi smirked and grabbed her backpack. She intended to walk home since their house was only two blocks away from the garage. "I get into trouble because that homophobe history teacher hates your guts."
Puck wished that an instruction manual came with both girls. Then maybe he would know how to make Naomi respect him. "I told you not to let him treat you any differently than anyone else. Don't start any trouble and he won't have a reason to do anything to you," he told her for what felt like the hundredth time. He had tried to get Naomi out of the history class, but Karofsky was the only history teacher there and it would have set her back a year.
"That man looks for any reason. If I breathe too loudly, he sends me to the office," she said over her shoulder as a school bus pulled up and Beth came running into the garage. Puck turned around and smiled at his daughter who ran into his arms.
"Hey there, Monster," he greeted her with the familiar pet name.
"Daddy! I got A+ on my science project!" she said excitedly, "When are we going to dinner so I can show everybody?"
He scooped her up into the air and twirled her around as she squealed. "I'm gonna drop you off at dinner tonight, but Daddy has to work late," he explained to her.
"Awww, why?" Beth whined.
"Because he's scared of meeting a celebrity. Kurt Hummel will be at Burt's house tonight," Naomi cut in.
Puck glared down at his little sister. "Of course I'm not scared, I- I went to high school with Kurt. I just have extra work to do, and you're... you're just going to do what I say," he stuttered. He had been a father for a while now, but he was still learning how. It was hard, especially because he never had a father of his own.
"Kurt Hummel!" Beth squealed excitably, "Oh Daddy! I didn't know you knew him! You have to introduce me!"
"You can introduce yourself like a big girl, I have work to do," Puck tried not to act as though he were hiding anything. Beth was very good at picking up on these types of things.
Beth's hazel eyes narrowed in suspicion, and in that moment, she looked very much like her father. "But we always have Friday night dinner together."
Puck sighed. It was always strange going to the Hummel's house after he broke up with Kurt, never to see him again. Everywhere he looked, he found a painful reminder of what once was but will never be again. Yet he was drawn to that house at the same time as if he could not quite let it go. "You'll have so much fun you won't even miss me. Maybe Carol can try to braid that hair of yours again."
"Oh, come on, Noah," Naomi said, rolling her eyes. "You know how shy Beth gets around new people. You have to go." She smirked as she watched her niece give her brother puppy eyes.
"She has to learn how to act around new people sooner or later, and she likes him, so it shouldn't be a problem," Puck mumbled, trying to get Naomi to stop making this situation worse. It was too much to even speak or hear Kurt's name. "Besides, from what I hear, he needs all the peace and quiet he can get. I would just stress him out. I'm not going."
Kurt was sitting in the living room watching reality television with Carol. He wasn't happy about even being up. All he had wanted to do was sleep, but as soon as they were home, Carol took on the job of watching over Kurt until dinner was ready.
Kurt absentmindedly fiddled with his engagement ring as the show progressed. It was a gaudy thing and it was obvious Kurt hadn't picked it out. It was silver and the diamonds were 2.5 carets. The ring looked huge on his dainty finger and every time Kurt looked at it he couldn't help but think of a simple silver band that had had two words on it and had looked better on his hand than this ridiculously expensive ring. He still had the ring Puck gave him.
Just then, the door bell rang and Carol didn't move to get it. Kurt stood up slowly, trying to not aggravate any of his injuries, and opened the door.
Puck was currently trying to fix the mess of blonde hair on top of Beth's head to something somewhat presentable when the front door suddenly opened. When he lifted his head to look straight into the eyes of Kurt, he nearly died right then and there. At first, his body froze up until it practically shut down and all he could do was stare. He knew that while Kurt was home it was likely that he would run into him, but he never realized until now how hard that moment would be.
It was so surreal for Kurt to see Puck after all these years that he was just as speechless. He did not even notice teenage Naomi and Beth. Kurt only saw Puck. It was a good thing his dad came up when he did, because Kurt would have just stayed there staring all day.
Burt popped up behind Kurt and grinned when he saw Puck. "I'm glad you decided to come, son," he gently took hold of the boy's arm and brought him into the house before Puck could even think to escape.
When Puck realized he was being skillfully tricked into coming inside for dinner, he resisted and tried to pull away and back out the door. "No, wait, I wasn't gonna stay... I, uh... I have stuff to do at home," he stammered to Burt.
"Nonsense, you are already here and Carol's just finished cooking," Burt argued as he led Puck to the dining room. Kurt slowly and quietly followed behind.
Puck still tried to resist, not looking over at Kurt a second time, afraid of what he would see in his eyes if he did. Would he find hatred? Betrayal? Hurt? It was not right for him to be here. It hurt him too much to see him after all those years of living with his ghost. "I already ate, and I'm tryin' to watch my diet..." he tried to make up another excuse.
"No you're not, Daddy!" Beth interrupted excitedly, "I want you to eat dinner with us!"
It was a weak excuse and Kurt wondered if whatever had caused Puck to push him away was still there. If it was, it shouldn't be. It had been years, after all. They were adults now. "You should stay, Puck," Kurt said softly, his voice still hoarse to his own ears.
Puck almost thought he heard wrong at first. When it registered what he said, he wanted to melt by his feet right then and there, and he had to keep his knees from buckling. Avoiding eye contact completely, he opened his mouth as if to say something in response, but nothing came out.
"Come on, Daddy!" Puck heard Beth's voice stir him out of his daze as he felt her soft, small hand reach for his and pull.
The dinner was an unusual quiet affair after that. Kurt wasn't feeling very hungry but he ate as much as he could in the uncomfortable circumstances. Carol had left the TV on in the living room and that along with the sound of silverware against the plates were the only noises in the room. Puck was silent and avoided eye contact with everyone around him. When Kurt only picked at his food, Puck scarfed his own down as if he had been starving. Maybe if he ate fast he could get out of here.
"I like your ring," Naomi said suddenly as if she could not stand the silence any longer. It took Kurt a second to realize she was talking to him.
"Oh, thank you," he told her. He held his hand out so she could get a better look.
"It's beautiful! When are you getting married? Can I come?" she asked Kurt eagerly.
"Um, we haven't actually set a date yet," Kurt told the little girl, and Burt mumbled something angrily under his breath.
It finally registered to Puck that Beth was annoying Kurt and he nudged her gently. "Beth, mind your manners," he hushed her, because he could not bear any more. "And finish your dinner."
Beth made an annoyed huff, but dove back into her meal regardless. "I think I need to go lay down," Kurt said after another few minutes of silence as he gathered up his plate to take it into the kitchen. He ignored his father's worried look as he did so.
Worry for Kurt consumed him, and after a little hesitation, Puck also stood. "Uh, excuse me a minute, I'm gonna grab a beer." He always kept his own stock of beers at the Hummel house and it was an easy excuse to escape, even if the thought of being in the same room with Kurt, especially alone, scared the hell out of him.
Puck stepped quietly into the kitchen and out of sight from the others. Kurt was washing his dishes with his back to him and he knew that if he turned around to look at him he would not be able to stare back into those baby blue eyes. "Need help?" he asked without confidence.
Kurt jumped at the sound of Puck's voice. His nerves were still fried from these last couple of days. "No I got it," he said, feeling awkward and praying that the makeup he had put on the bruise under his eye was still holding up. "Beth is beautiful," he said after a few more awkward moments of silence. "You've done a good job with her. With Naomi, too."
The small talk was killing Puck. He was never very good at it and it was far too strange to talk to Kurt like this as if they did not know each other inside and out. He knew Kurt was only saying these things to be nice and they had been through too much together to do that.
He noticed right away that Kurt was far too skinny as if he did not eat nearly enough. He had bruises on his wrist and under his eye, and for the first time, Puck noticed them. He narrowed his eyes at the angry marks on his ex boyfriend.
"So you let him hit you or something?" he burst out.
Kurt looked away from Puck and busied himself with putting his now clean plates away. "It's more complicated than that." He didn't bother to deny it, considering he knew it had been blown up over the news stations and radio the last couple of days. "He was drunk and angry at something I had done. I hit him first." He didn't really know why he was telling Puck all of this while his Father has been trying to get him to talk for days now.
"I don't doubt that you did," Puck almost laughed at that. There were two occasions where Kurt had smacked Puck pretty hard during their relationship. But he would never have dreamed of hitting him back. "But that didn't give him a reason to beat the shit out of you. What were you thinking?" he accused.
"I suppose I was thinking that I finally have someone to put up with my craziness and actually marry me!" Kurt finally snapped, done with his calm facade.
"You're not crazy, he is!" Puck snapped right back, but tried to calm himself down when he realized how loud it was. "You can't go back to someone who's just gonna' push you around and give you bruises. That's not who you're meant to be!"
"You know nothing about me, Puckerman," Kurt growled with a hard poke to Puck's chest. "It's my life and what I do with it is none of your business anymore."
Puck was visibly startled by the poke and he stepped back, but not far. "Oh, so you've become a completely different person since high school? I don't buy it." Just the thought of someone touching Kurt the wrong way enraged him.
"I havechanged. Getting cheated on by the love of your life puts a lot of things in perspective," he admitted angrily, looking Puck in the eyes as he said it.
It took Puck off guard and for a moment he could only stare back. "Oh, come on, don't give me that. I did it so you could plan your own life, and you did! Don't blame me for this," he said defensively.
"I don't blame you for this. But I do blame you for every fucked up relationship I've had since," Kurt accused him. "I have this inability to stay faithful to anyone. I always assumed they were cheating so I cheated first. You might have thought you were doing what was best but you should have just dumped me!"
"You wouldn't let me just dump you!" Puck exclaimed. "I kept trying and trying but you're just so damn stubborn. And you should have just been happy to get rid of me. If I didn't dump you where would you be right now? Huh? You would never have been successful."
"Fame isn't all it's cracked up to be," Kurt corrected him. Success had been fun in the beginning. He had gone to design school and wanted to one day be a famous designer. However, one day he ended up joining a small theater group and was quickly discovered by a Broadway director. "And it wasn't worth losing you."
Puck did not know how to respond to that. It was the last thing he expected to hear from him now. Although he had just denied it moments ago, he still felt consumed with guilt. Was this really all his fault? Suddenly, Puck could not stop staring at his ring."You shouldn't be saying that while you're engaged. What would your finance think?"
Kurt scoffed at that. "He wouldn't be surprised. He caught me fooling around with one of his backup dancers. That's what started the fight. Jonah thought putting a ring on my finger would stop me from wandering. And it doesn't really matter, anyway. You and I are way in the past," he said, moving to walk around Puck so he could go to his room and forget all about this conversation.
Puck felt his hands ball into fists. Did Kurt really sleep around that much? Was he that damaged? Was it really all his fault? "I'm not the one that made you a slut, you only have yourself to blame," he accused before he could even think.
Puck's words stopped Kurt dead, but instead of getting mad and putting Puck in his place, he just seemed to deflate as he quickly turned around and made his way to his basement bedroom and left Puck alone in the kitchen. He was determined to take some pills and forget all about this.
Puck had braced himself for the worst, but it broke his already damaged heart into pieces when Kurt did not answer back with the same fire. He could only stand there as Kurt walked away bruised, lost in his own thoughts.