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Kurt honestly had no idea what in the world possessed him to agree to this. Yes, they were to work on some kind of project, yes, there was the possibility of a feature at Sectionals, yes, Kurt wanted that, badly. But did he want it this badly?
He was sitting outside the house -if it could be called that- debating with himself about going inside or not. Kurt had wanted to work on things at school, he'd wanted to keep things neutral. If they had to work together -Schue and his damn hat of fate- then Kurt wanted it to be on even footing and not in any biased setting. But Puck had a younger sister, and he couldn't stay late at school on days that he didn't have football practice or Glee. So Puck's house it was.
And Kurt really wanted to nail this thing.
Getting out of his car, locking the Navigator and setting the alarm and hoping it wasn't on bricks when he came back, Kurt wandered up the path towards the door. It wasn't like the house was falling apart -just the guttering coming off the side of the house and the wooden panels around the ground were rotting away and the grass was dried and dead and the paving stones cracked- it just looked like it'd seen better days. Better days decades ago.
Bracing himself for what might be the most painful few hours of his life, Kurt knocks on the door, waiting for an answer. There's a few noises from inside, then the lock clicks back and the door opens. "Hey, c'mon in." Puck doesn't seem all that bothered with the state of his house -or the fact that it's probably clear on Kurt's face what he thinks about the house, but Kurt tries to curb that, smiling stiffly as he slips into the house so that Puck can close the door. "Watch your feet there." Puck mutters, flipping the lock again, getting a raised eyebrow from Kurt but no actual question. "Sarah, come on kiddo, toys away."
The 'watch your feet' comment was only because of the few dolls littering the floor -a blond and a brunette, dressed in pretty little gowns like they were going to their own Prom. From the outside of the house Kurt expected the inside to be mostly the same -peeling wall paper, water stained floors, maybe dirty dishes or a tattered sofa, just something that mirrored the disrepair of the outside. Instead it was fairly well kept. A single seat and a three seat sofa sat in the front room, a battered looking television sitting by the wall and a coffee table in the middle taking up the most space. The walls were light blue, painted and fresh looking -open, bright, clean. The carpet -although not exactly top of the line- was clean and dry and not curling anywhere.
It was just your average living room and hall. Excluding the scattered little girls toys around the floor. "We're in the kitchen, Hummel. Sarah, living room, get the homework done before Ma gets home." Sarah was a petite brunette, with a wide, gapped smile, bright brown eyes and this spark to her.
"I'm Kurt. I'm here to work on a project with Puck."
She frowned slightly at Kurt before looking towards the kitchen and then shrugging. "Are you staying for dinner?"
"Sarah! Homework!" It was odd. Noah Puckerman demanding his younger sister complete her homework. Kurt couldn't remember the last time Puck handed in homework. But Sarah wanders into the living room, tidying her dolls as she goes and Kurt makes his way to the kitchen. Much like the front room, the kitchen is a surprise.
There's a little table pushed into the corner -there isn't a lot of space and it's pretty clear that the house is just as small as it looks. But the counters are clean and there's food cooking in the old looking oven and, sweet Iman, Puckerman's doing the washing up. "I set out some stuff, it's not a lot but hey, you've probably got more ideas than me."
The 'stuff' that Puck's looked out are music book, five or six books full of sheet music for the guitar and Kurt's a little surprised. They vary in style, there's even a Disney music book and one that looks like it's mostly country, but they're all well used and just a little dog-eared.
"You play from these?" Kurt takes a seat, placing his bag on one of the other seats, flipping a few pages in the first book sitting there.
"Mostly, although if you've got a song in mind I'm pretty good at picking up the chords by ear." And Kurt had seen that, when it came to music, Puck was a fast learner, it was part of the reason why Kurt hadn't flat out refused to be partnered with Puck for the project.
"Do you have anything you want to do?"
"Not really," Puck gave a shrug, made a vaguely non-committal noise and turned to the over, opening the door to poke at the dish inside before closing it again and turning to face Kurt. "I figured you'd have a million ideas and I'd spend most of the time trying to convince you not to do something that would make me feel like a total idiot in front of everyone." Kurt had already figured that showtune was out of the window, he wasn't even sure if he'd be able to find a musical that Puck would give the time of day never mind a proper Broadway number he'd be willing to perform.
"Considering I want this to prove that my vocal range is just as good as Rachel or even Mercedes' you don't have to worry about looking stupid." Because this is serious business, and as much at Kurt loves Mercedes, he's not about to lose out on this.
They spend an hour or two going through the sheets, finding a few that they can work, finding a few more that they could probably, maybe make fit. Kurt's actually surprised to find that, while working on their assignment, Puck's also dealing with the dinner and making sure his sisters homework is finished. It's weirdly domesticated.
"You know, with what I've heard at school, I wouldn't have expected this," he waves a hand towards the kitchen and indicating out to the main room as well. He doesn't mean it offensively, but Puck's frowning at him and Kurt can sort of feel the tension, so he thinks he might've worded that poorly. "I mean, you, like, cooking or cleaning or whatever."
It takes a minute or two, but Puck slowly nods, apparently happy that Kurt wasn't insulting his living condition or anything.
"I kinda screwed my Ma over," and it's the first time Kurt's seen Puck look at all guilty in an ashamed manner, "me going to juvie. I didn't even stop to consider her and Sarah." Kurt's not stupid enough to believe that Puck 'liked' juvie or whatever he tried to pass it off as, he wasn't blind, he saw just how hard Puck worked to stay out of trouble to avoid going back to juvie, even when he just wanted to lash out. "So, helping out is probably the least I can do."
It's another glimpse of this boy that Kurt didn't know existed, it's another hint of just who Noah Puckerman is, without Puck getting in the way. It's strange to think of them as two different people, but they are. Puck isn't Noah and Noah isn't who he was two years ago. It's slightly startling that Kurt had to see Noah's home to figure that out.
"Noah, Mama's home." Noah pushed away from the oven, flicking it off and giving Kurt a small smirk with a "be right back," before leaving the kitchen, presumably to help his mother.
Kurt can't help but start packing away the books, tidying up the table the best he can when he hears the voices carry into the room, "-of course I told Sheila that if she thought you would be joining her no good shiksa of a daughter on that preposterous camp trip, she had another thing coming."
"I can't anyway Ma, no matter what," Noah comes into the kitchen with two large brown paper bags in his arms, placing them on the counters as a petite woman with brown hair like Sarah's follows in. "That's Sectionals weekend."
Kurt tries not to draw attention, but it's not a big kitchen and the table is literally swamped with books, even as Mrs Puckerman -does she still go by her married name? Did Noah's mother ever divorce her husband? Does she even know where he is to do it? Is there a reason why Kurt is wondering these things?- sits down at the table. "We have company?"
"Oh, this is Kurt, Kurt my Ma." As far as introductions go it's pretty poor, but there are some things that are just Puck, through and through.
"Kurt Hummel, it's nice to meet you Mrs Puckerman." Kurt knows that most parents like him; he's polite, he does well in school, he's well dressed, he has impeccable taste. But he's still strangely nervous.
"Hummel? Where do I know that name?"
"Mrs H. married Kurt's Dad. Kurt's Finn's step-brother, Ma." Kurt can't remember rightly if Mrs Puckerman attended the wedding, he thinks she didn't, which would make sense since someone would have needed to watch Sarah surely. "We're in Glee together. I told you we got paired up for a project this week." Kurt just sits there, smiling somewhat awkwardly.
"Oh, that's right. Carole mentioned a step-son." Puck shoots his mother a look over his shoulder that Kurt sees, but apparently, Mrs Puckerman doesn't. "Sweetie, do all gay boys have the magic touch for make-overs, or is it just a personal thing?"
"Ma, lay off."
"Shush Noah, I just want to know who I need to bribe to get one of those make-overs. Look at the good it's done for Carole." Kurt realises then that Mrs Puckerman isn't being disparaging, she's not even being negative about his sexuality, she's actually trying to find a way to ask about Carole's transformation that Kurt orchestrated. He's not sure what it says about him that he thought the worst was coming.
"Ma, you're perfect the way you are." Kurt wonders if this is some alternate world where Noah Puckerman has a heart or something, because it's just a little daunting how wildly different he's behaving. "But if you're set on it, maybe you should do one of those spa-beauty-sissy crap things that chicks do."
"There's this fabulous place in the mall that does the full works," Kurt interjects, "it's great for just feeling relaxed and de-stressing." Mrs Puckerman grins at him, even if she does look a little tired and worn.
"Would you like to stay for dinner, Kurt?" He's pretty sure this means that Mrs Puckerman likes him, and he shouldn't be looking into just how pleased that makes him.
"I would love to, but my Dad's expecting me home. Maybe another night?" And he genuinely means it. "We can work on this some more tomorrow?" Puck nods as Kurt stands.
"Sure, c'mon, I'll walk you out."
"It was a pleasure meeting you, Mrs Puckerman."
"Oh please, it's Ruth. You tell Carole that I'll call her later, maybe she'll want to come on that spa day with me?" Kurt just nods, beaming brightly.
Sarah bolts past Kurt halfway down the hall, she's heading into the kitchen and really, she's almost just this blur, "Bye Kurt." Kurt doesn't get to return the phrase before Sarah's already launched into a loud regaling of her day for her mother.
"You don't mind coming over tomorrow?"
"No, of course not. We can narrow down our short list and then work on what we have left. What're you doing this weekend?" Normally, Kurt would be shopping with Mercedes or trying to maintain a friendship with Blaine by grabbing coffee and having a talk. But oddly, he'd rather work on the assignment.
"Well, Sarah has peewee on Saturday morning and I have work on Sunday night, but other than that," Puck just shrugs, "I'm gonna assume I'm working on my glee project with you though." And if Puck doesn't mind, Kurt's fine with that.
"Great, I'll see you tomorrow."
"Yeah, later," Kurt's out the door, completely ignoring the outside of the house, because really, appearances aren't everything it seems. "Tell your dad your staying for dinner tomorrow, Kurt. Ma'll kill me if you don't."
"Sure thing, Noah." The lack of protest at the name makes Kurt believe this could be the start of the oddest friendship of his High School career.