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Dalton isn't everything that Kurt thought it could be. It's safe, and Kurt doesn't worry about the looks or being bullied. He knows that everyone will accept him for who he is and not who he falls in love with. And that is all great, obviously, but Kurt can't help but miss the sea of colour at McKinley, the noise and the life. Dalton is so controlled and calm, everyone is composed and in their smart uniforms and Kurt just wants to see Cheerio uniforms and Mercedes' colourful wardrobe and Tina's dark look and Rachel's silly animal sweaters. Most of all, he misses the God awful mohawk. Which is stupid, because he only started to even get to know Noah a few days ago, he can't possibly miss that ridiculous hair cut already.
But he does. As much as he misses his girl 'Cedes, he's finding himself missing the hours at Noah's house more. It doesn't help that he keeps thinking back to that kiss every time his mind goes a little blank, or that he can't stop wondering what it meant. He understood what Noah meant, his reason why. Noah would forever wonder 'what if' about several things; what if his dad never left, what if he'd gotten to keep Beth, what if he'd never gone to juvie, what if he'd never kissed Kurt? That was the point of it, wasn't it? He'd wanted to kiss Kurt, so he did, so that he wouldn't wonder later if it made a difference.
"Don't worry, Kurt," Blaine gives him a blinding smile, full of optimism and support, "you'll get used to the change, things are so much better here." Three days into things and Kurt isn't sure if that's the case. Things aren't better, they're just different. His first Warblers meeting is an eye opener to that and Kurt finds himself typing out a text message before he even knows who he's sending it to.
'Remember when New Directions was so much hard work because we all half hated each other? Well, turning that around to being best friends is just as much hard work. OMG all the Warblers agree with each other on everything. :|'
He's sent it off, half wondering what the hell he's doing while ignoring the chemistry homework he should be working on. It takes three minutes for the reply to come in and it makes him laugh.
'Disagree on principle. No, the sky is orange, what are you talking about. Srsly. They seem so uptight.'
Kurt has no idea when he decides to turn Noah into his new Mercedes, probably around the time when Mercedes started to think of food before everything else and stopped seeing him as her friend and just some stand in for what she really needed in her life. He still loves her dearly, of course he does, but it's just difficult sometimes.
'Not uptight. Just traditional.'
'Boring u mean? They should let u do single ladies. We pulled in Zizes. Least its not JBI.'
Kurt isn't sure how much he should let Noah tell him, not that he's planning on passing any information all along to his current team, but there are probably things that he shouldn't know about the new line up for New Directions. Although Noah doesn't share a lot. The have a few conversations directly before Sectionals and Noah doesn't seem overly enthused.
"Honestly, I'm all for Schue getting over his fangirl phase, but could he pick something and deal with it? Rachel is freaking the hell out for so many reasons and it's going right through me." While not all of Puck's complaining is legitimate, there are certain times when Kurt can see that things are definitely getting to the point where Noah will just call time on the bullshit and stop taking it. These times are few, because he rarely actually cares enough to do such things, but the few times they are pretty serious.
"He's changing your routine, huh? Worried I'd spill the beans?" Kurt doesn't know if he should be offended by that or not.
"No, he's changing everything because Miss P. called him predictable. I'm going to lose my mind." It's not even what either of them called to talk about, Kurt had called to ask about Noah's performance, because Mercedes had sent him a text that basically said that Noah was damn good -'Cedes said something about panty dropping and Puck being on top form, and Kurt knew that Noah would be amazing at the song.
"I heard your performance of 'Stellar' was rather steamy."
"You have been talking to Aretha, haven't you. Yeah, it was good. Probably would've been better with you but whatever, I muddled through." This modesty is false, Kurt knows it, but he just shakes his head and smiles any way. They spend two hours on the phone, talking about school and Puck's new job, about Ruth's appointment with Carole at the little spa place that Kurt suggested, about Kurt's dorm room and his uniform. It's like they've always had this easy friendship and that one kiss doesn't mess anything up. In fact, if anything, that one perfect kiss seems to be what makes it so easy to slip into these comfortable conversations, because Kurt knows that Noah feels something towards him. Whatever it might be.
And Kurt sees why Noah was starting to lose the plot with the Sectionals drama -because Rachel has so much drama bubbling out, between her Finn drama and her no solo drama and her no real number drama, Kurt understands. But they perform well enough, and while they are competition, Kurt has his fingers half crossed for New Directions to go through. Having it be a tie just works out slightly better.
"Are you shitting me? Listening to Rachel talk about how the altering in our usual format undoubtedly worked against us and then listing all the reasons why is five hours of my life that I am never getting back." Kurt doesn't ask why Noah was talking or listening to Rachel for five hours, but he finds out later from Mercedes that Puck and Rachel made out and Finn dumped Rachel because he thought that was worse than him lying about sleeping with Santana because him and Rachel weren't together when he had sex with Santana even though he spent his whole relationship with Rachel lying about it. Kurt is fed up listening to Finn's reasons but he can't exactly come out and say that he's siding with Rachel on the matter because Finn is supposed to be his step-brother now.
"Well, at least we're all continuing."
"You mean so that one of us will have all our hopes shattered at the precipice of success? Yeah, that's totally way better." Kurt doesn't know if he should be more surprised at Noah using 'precipice' correctly or that he actually sees it that way. Although it's not exactly surprising, because Kurt's found that Noah is a bit of a pessimist when it really comes down to the wire. "Either you're going to be devastated and feel bad about losing while we go through, or we're going to be upset and bitter while trying to be supportive of you going through. It's not exactly a great situation."
Kurt knows that Puck really wants Kurt back at McKinley, he hasn't exactly been subtle about it either. And it's sort of nice, because Mercedes and Rachel sort of accepted that he had to leave in order to be safe, while Puck's been sort of mentioning ways to be at McKinley and still be safe -one of them included Karofsky having an unfortunate incident with blue dye in the Cheerio's locker room and Coach Sylvester just happening to be there.
"I really hate to bail on you but I'm gonna be late if I don't leave now."
"Late for what?"
"Just, something." Kurt doesn't know what it is that Puck is being evasive about, but there are a few things that Puck just doesn't talk about and Kurt has come to accept that because really, it's sort of nice to just get to talk to Puck about himself -Mercedes and Rachel are great, but they are just as self-involved as he is, so it's far more give and take. And it's not like Kurt isn't interesting in what Noah has to say, but most of the time he's not exactly looking to share things beyond what's been going on -he doesn't talk about his school work, or his family (except from how both his mother and sister want Kurt to come visit again), he doesn't talk about work, doesn't mention his community service other than to say it's gruelling and he's considering doubling his hours a week just to get it done faster. Kurt and Puck talk about Kurt, how Kurt is doing, what Kurt is doing, how Kurt is handling things and music. That's the only subject that Noah really goes into detail about.
And Kurt is fine with that. Because when he does get to see Noah, when he goes home for the weekend and makes a night to go over to the Puckerman house, he knows that he'll be seeing Noah and hearing him talk then.
Kurt sends Noah a 'Happy Hanukkah' text and Noah sends him a 'Merry Xmas' text, they talk possibly more than they've ever actually talked in the years they've really known each other, hell Kurt's sure he talks to Noah more than anyone else. While Friday nights are family night, Kurt always manages to make Saturday night 'Puckerman night' when he goes over to their house when they come in from Temple; Sarah decided that Kurt was an honorary Puckerman because he knew how to plait her hair, Ruth always welcomes him with open arms and Noah just seems like his usual self -at least the usual self Kurt has come to realise is Noah and not Puck.
"Ma got her makeover thing," it's the week before Regionals and they're trying to keep the conversation as far away from glee and singing as possible, which does narrow things down a fair bit. "She got her hair coloured, I'm not sure if I'm meant to tell her my honest opinion or let her know she looks great regardless."
"What is your honest opinion?"
"That my Ma doesn't need her hair coloured to look pretty? Also, if she's doing this for some guy I'm gonna have to tear his balls off, cause she doesn't need to change and I'll be pointing that out too." Noah has never made secret of just how much he adores his mother; Kurt understands just how torn up Noah was after juvie because of the disappointment his mother directed at him, that it all stemmed from Quinn getting pregnant and giving up Beth and Puck just not handling it well at all. So if Ruth does have a boyfriend, God help him.
"I'm sure she just wanted a little change, Noah. Sometimes, women just need to feel pampered and change their hair colour and have a few massages just to feel relaxed and content. What does it look like though?"
"I dunno. It's brown. What else do you want from me?" Kurt just rolls his eyes.
"Is it warm brown, chestnut, mahogany, auburn brown, dark brown, blonde-brown, hazel brown,"
"Dude, it's brown. How can you have shades of brown? Her hair was light brown, and now it's darker brown. It's just brown." Kurt decides to get Puck to take a picture with his phone and text it to Kurt so that he can offer his opinion. Puck decides not to hang up and do it, but to use Sarah's phone instead. Kurt doesn't point out that this will give Sarah the ability to text Kurt as well, because really, he wouldn't mind too much.
In the week running up to Regionals, they don't talk as much; Puck sends Kurt text messages about Rachel's horrific rehearsals schedule and updates him on the state of his impending death by exhaustion, and Kurt texts back his support. Until Blaine kisses him. He isn't sure if he's been giving out the signals that make Blaine think it would be okay to kiss him, doesn't know if Blaine has been trying to give him hints that he wants to kiss him, doesn't actually know where it all came from at all. One minute Kurt's singing for Pavarotti, the next he has a duet at Regionals and then he has a Warbler attached to his lips.
It's not terrible, not really. It's nice, sort of. Chaste in a way, because Kurt's a little stunned so he just sits there while Blaine presses his lips against Kurt's. Blaine's lips are soft, not as soft as Noah's strangely enough, but soft against Kurt's. There's this slight spark, maybe a tingle, just from the touch of their lips and Kurt almost leans into it, except he remembers there being more to it. Remembers his body heating and his heart slamming to his chest and his whole being just falling into that moment. This is like a very watered down version of that. As Blaine draws back, half apologising and half flirting, Kurt finds himself just sitting there, thinking.
It was so much more when Noah kissed him.
He wonders if maybe it's just Noah, obviously, Puck has a lot of experience kissing people, but when Kurt and Noah kissed, it didn't feel like just another kiss, and Noah had been honest, he'd been open about why. Noah didn't kiss him for the sake of kissing him, Noah didn't kiss him on a spur of the moment 'I just had to do that' sort of thing; Noah kissed him because Kurt was leaving and Noah would regret not having done it. That meant something, that wasn't just some impulse that came over him. It was something he could do or could not do and he'd decided he didn't want to live with another 'what if'.
It spurned Kurt on, pushing him to finally take action.
"Noah," the night before Regionals, he calls Noah. "Whatever happens tomorrow, whoever wins, will you go out with me for coffee?"
"After the competition?"
"Yeah, after the trophy's been given to whomever, just, come out for coffee, you and me."
"Sure, I'd like that." Kurt goes to sleep that night with butterflies in his stomach and his nerves all over the place, and it has nothing to do with the show choir competition. He can't believe he actually asked Noah Puckerman out on a pseudo-date. Coffee is a good starting point for dates though, right? Kurt can't tell for sure because he's only seen dates on television or listening to Rachel talk about the dates she went on. He's never been on one himself, he's never asked someone on one. Holy crap he asked Noah out.
And while they're all there at Regionals, he's trying so hard to just catch a glimpse of Noah -it's probably hard for him right now, Beth turns one in two days, and this is probably not the best place for Noah's head, but Kurt really wants to see him just to be sure he's okay. He ends up having to settle for a text message since Puck is nowhere to be found. 'Are you okay? Where are you?'
And Kurt can ask that, because he knows how Noah feels, he understands how Noah misses his daughter and this brutal reminder will just throw him for a small loop. 'Holding San's hair. In girls loo. Not fun but doing fine.' Well, the explained why Kurt hadn't been able to see Puck anywhere. The Warblers were due on stage in a few minutes and then New Directions would be getting ready, so Kurt had no time to hang around to make sure Puck wasn't lying about being fine.
'Give my best to Santana. Hope she's okay. See you after awards.'
The competition is a bit of a blur for Kurt; he doesn't really think too much about it. The Warblers perform, Kurt's adrenaline spikes from that alone and he feels the ever present thrill of being on the stage, of singing out his heart, of the attention. He catches sight of where New Directions sit, he's pretty sure he sees Noah but he can't tell for sure, and it's over too fast for Kurt's liking. The switch over is just chaos, because as the Warblers are coming off, Aural Intensity are going on and New Directions are getting ready, Kurt still has no chance to see Noah.
Watching them perform, Rachel's solo being so powerful and her original song being so great, Kurt feels the pang of longing for his old team. It's just the way of New Directions when they perform their group number and everyone just gets into it; being lively, being joyous, the theme behind the song isn't lost on Kurt at all. He can honestly say, as he's standing with the Warblers, waiting for the winners to be announced he's hoping that New Directions get it. He's not even saying that to be nice, he genuinely wants to see them go on, to see them hit Nationals and realise their dream.
When the actual words are spoken, he's a little dejected yes, but seeing Rachel and Mr Schue with those grins, Santana and Brittany and Noah in a three way huddle, Mercedes and Lauren of all people hugging while they grin, Kurt knows that it's well deserved.
After everything has calmed down -and Coach Sylvester is escorted from the building rather than charged for assault- Kurt feels those butterflies again. Because Noah is just getting changed and then they're going out, Noah is taking off his suit from performing and he and Kurt are going for coffee. It's a pre-date date, Kurt knows it is. Kurt cannot believe he is as nervous about it as he is.
"Blaine, hi." There had been a few moments of awkwardness with Blaine, mostly due to Kurt's inability to figure out if he'd been leading the other boy on or not. But neither of them had spoken about the kiss that happened, although Kurt wondered if he should thank Blaine for making him realise that it wasn't every day that someone kissed him like Noah Puckerman kissed him.
"I uh, are you busy, right now?" Blaine looks just as hopeful as he was when he asked the boy from Gap out; the wide eyes, the half-smile, the unsure hand gestures. Kurt realises that even if he hasn't been leading Blaine on, he really needs to make it clear that Kurt is interested in someone else.
"Oh, my God, Kurt you have to save me like right the fuck now." Noah appears as if out of nowhere. "Seriously, what is the big deal with first dates? Rachel and Mercedes have not shut up for the past twenty minutes and I'm losing my mind. Hey Blake." Noah barely gives Blaine a look, sort of shielding himself behind Kurt. And Kurt feels a small smirk pull at his lips because he knows that Noah knows Blaine's name, and that he's just being an ass by not using it.
"It's Blaine, and, first dates?"
"Yeah," Noah nods, shooting a look at Kurt. "Where are my flowers? And chocolate? You asked me out so I think I should toss you in there and make you listen to the protocol on first dates with best friends. And what is a Burberry?"
"It's a brand of fabulous clothes."
"I was to get you one. Mercedes said so."
"Oh, Noah, darling, your mother would flip out if you spent that much on me in one go."
"I'm pretty sure, from the way they were talking, my card would be declined." It's definitely not the way that Kurt would've told Blaine that he was in the process of trying to see someone, but Noah just sort of makes things happen around him and Kurt finds himself trailing along in the wake of destruction. It's almost fun. "Well, are you ready? We should go, before Rachel comes at me with a colour coded note book on what to do and what not to do." Noah slips his hand into Kurt's as if it's completely natural, "See ya, Blair."
"I'll see you on Monday, Blaine. Have a nice weekend." Kurt gets out of the building with his hand still in Noah's before he mentions it. "You know he was trying to ask me something."
"Yeah, and you think now that you've finally acknowledged that kiss I'm letting some hobbit with curly hair change your mind? I don't think so Peaches." Noah just grins at him, and Kurt really does wonder what the hell took him so long to realise what that kiss really meant.
"I think you'll have to kiss me a few more times, you know, so that when I'm at school and you're not there, I won't be forgetting."
"Hmm," they stop outside the coffee shop, Noah twisting until he's facing Kurt, their hands still together and Noah's other hand sliding around Kurt's waist. "Maybe I should, maybe I should just kiss you until you transfer back to McKinley?" Kurt doesn't get to respond as Noah leans down, lips just brushing over Kurt's in a soft kiss, right there in the middle of the street. Kurt isn't one for public displays, but being kissed like he's something precious, in front of anyone who might see them, but this complex but wonderful boy? Kurt really doesn't care beyond leaning up to make it more than just the touch of their lips.
And it's exactly like he remembered it.