Characters: Kurt Hummel, Noah Puckerman, Finn Hudson
Pairings: Kurt/Finn, eventual Puck/Kurt
Beta: mavilous, chee17
Art: Drawing By: naryakiuxen
Word Count: 20,100
Notes: This was written for the second round of the kurtbigbang
Summary: The three of them used to be best friends until something changed and Puck pulled away. When Kurt asks for Puck's help, he gets his chance at finding out what happened.
Kurt bit down on his lower lip nervously, his hands tightening their hold around the strap of his shoulder bag. He took yet another deep breath before finally walking up to the boy standing at the locker a few feet away.
"Puck?" His voice sounded nervous even to his own ears and Kurt hated it. He hated every time he wasn't able to cover his emotions.
Puck's back tensed and his hand closed tightly around the metal of the locker door where it was resting before he slammed it shut. He turned around, fixing Kurt with a cold stare, trying to convey all his hatred for the boy in that one look. "What do you want, Hummel?"
Kurt found it almost funny how even something as simple as his last name could sound like an insult coming from the Puck's mouth. He gulped and willed himself to put on a tentative smile, to pretend that the cold tone wasn't affecting him. He slid back into his detached self. After all, not so long ago, Puck had been one of Kurt's bullies, and even now that they were in Glee together and Puck's bullying had stopped, he was still wary of the boy; they didn't suddenly become friends just because they were forced to sing together three times a week.
"It's mine and Finn's anniversary next month," he started. "And..."
"I don't care." Puck cut him off before turning around and starting to walk away.
Kurt quickly fell into step next to him. He wasn't going to let this go; it was important. So important to ask Puck for a favor, to start a conversation with the boy that had it made his mission to torment him for the last two years. "I need your help, Puck."
"Sorry. I'm a straight sex shark. I can't teach Hudson how to fuck your brains out."
Furrowing his brow in annoyance, Kurt reached out, placing a hand on Puck's arm to still him. Puck looked at Kurt's hand for a moment before shrugging it off and Kurt pretended not to feel hurt. He told himself that he was supposed to be used to it by now. After all, almost every boy at school didn't want to touch him, afraid of "catching the gay from his fairy dust." But no matter how much he tried to hide his hurt, there was a part of his brain that reminded him that Puck wasn't supposed to care about what the other students said, about what touching Kurt in public would make people say.
He took a step back and looked straight into Puck's hazel eyes, hoping that his own looked as cold as he was feeling in that moment. "I want to sing a song for him but I want it to be special because it's our two year anniversary. I want you to teach me how to play the song on the guitar."
Puck frowned before laughing coldly, like he thought Kurt had just gone crazy. "What?"
"I only know how to play the piano," Kurt told him, ignoring the derisory laugh. "And it would be predictable if I did that. So, could you..."
"Ask Artie or one of those losers in the jazz band." Puck looked at him with something akin to anger and Kurt couldn't understand why.
When Puck turned around and started walking down the hall, Kurt almost reached out again but stopped himself, closing his hands into tight fists at his sides.
"I can pay you," he said, thankful that the halls were already empty, the students having gone home. Kurt was only there because of Cheerios' practice and Puck because of detention. For some reason, he felt sad at having to resort to that. He almost wished Puck would keep walking away.
"How much?" Puck didn't even turn around when he asked.
Kurt swallowed around the lump that had formed in his throat and wondered, not for the first time, what had happened to them. "I pay my piano teacher 20$ per hour, would that be okay?"
There was a pause and Kurt wondered what was going through Puck's mind, if he was thinking about something else besides the money, if perhaps he was debating whether 20$ was worth having to spend time alone with Kurt.
Finally, he glanced back at Kurt from over his shoulder. "I need the music sheets so I can learn the song before teaching it to you."
"Sure." Kurt put on his best fake smile, and feigned cheerfulness at the idea of getting what he wanted and said, "I can give it to you at lunch tomorrow, in the choir room."
"Whatever." Puck started walking away again and this time, Kurt let him go.
Being with Finn was great and Kurt knew that he was probably the best boyfriend he could ever hope to get. Finn treated him like he was something precious. He wasn't afraid to hold his hand in public and even joined Glee Club just to spend more time with Kurt, despite the fact that being in the club meant that his reputation had crumpled down like a house of cards.
Finn whispered 'I love you' in his ear every time they slept together, he even waited patiently for more than a year before Kurt was finally ready to be with Finn in every sense. Being with Finn was perfect and Kurt hated himself whenever he thought about his future and didn't envision Finn in it. He didn't know why; he didn't do it consciously, it just happened that way. He would picture himself five years from now and he'd be living in New York like he had always dreamed, but Finn was never there with him. It was part of the reason why he wanted their two year anniversary to be perfect, because his heart told him that there wouldn't be a third one, and because he desperately wanted to make the best of the time they had together.
Truth to be told, sometimes Kurt was scared of the future, just like everyone else. He was scared of making the wrong choices, which was why he never told Finn that sometimes he doubted what they had. He was scared that leaving Finn would be a greater mistake than staying with him. He felt like a horrible person whenever he thought that, but it wasn't something he could really help.
He spent a long time thinking about what to do for their anniversary and singing a song to him while playing the guitar, looked like the perfect gift, because they both loved music and Finn had sung to Kurt more than once since they had joined the glee club. And he loved Finn, he really did, which was why he had decided that he could sit through hours spent alone with Puck, since it would be worth it in the end.
He just hoped that Puck wouldn't decide to suddenly go back at bullying him, because now that Puck had stopped throwing him in the dumpsters and giving him swirlies, the only thing he had to put up with was Karofsky and Azimio pushing him in the lockers and calling him names. But it wasn't so bad as when Puck had bullied him, because while the shoves in the lockers hurt physically, when it was Puck, it hurt emotionally.
Kurt went online and downloaded the music sheet for the song he had chosen. He stared at the paper in his hands for a while, his mind going from how Finn would react to the song, to how was he going to hide everything from his boyfriend for almost a month.
When his father's voice called him up for dinner, Kurt put every thought of Puck and the next morning out of his mind. He told himself that he had nothing to fear.
"Hey, Kurt, are you coming to lunch with us?"
Kurt shook his head at Mercedes, giving her an apologetic smile. "I have something to do, sorry."
Mercedes raised an eyebrow, a mischievous glint in her eyes. "Something to do, huh?"
Kurt blushed, his mind conjuring up images of him and Puck doing something and where did that thought come from? "No, God, no, I just have something I need to do for mine and Finn's anniversary!"
And now Mercedes was looking at him surprised. "Okay, calm down, I was just joking."
"I... I need to go. I'll see you later." He waved at her before quickly making his way to the choir room. He could still feel his cheeks burning when he closed the door behind him. He took a deep breath, glad to see that Puck wasn't there yet. He walked over to the piano bench and sat down, pulling out the music sheet for the song he wanted Puck to teach him from his bag. He glanced at the clock, seeing that they still had almost half an hour of lunch break left. He looked at the door for a moment, unable to stop himself from wondering if Puck was going to show up at all, then he turned around, pulled up the lid from the piano keys and started to press on the keys distractedly.
"Make it quick, Hummel."
Kurt jumped, startled, and looked at Puck standing in the doorway. "I didn't hear you coming inside."
"Make it quick," he repeated, glancing at the hall from the window in the door to check that no one would see him inside the choir room with Kurt.
"Of course," Kurt said bitterly and quickly got up and picked up the music sheet from over the piano. He walked up to Puck and extended his hand. "Here. It should be simple enough." He took a deep breath and relaxed a little when he saw Puck grabbing the sheet. "We can do it here if you want. After school, when I don't have Cheerios practice and you football."
Puck shook his head, glancing briefly at Kurt before folding the sheet and putting it away in the back pocket of his jeans. "No. I don't want people thinking we're hooking up or something."
"Of course." Kurt nodded and picked up his bag. "You can come over to mine after school then." He looked straight into Puck's eyes and couldn't stop himself from saying, "That is, if you're not too afraid of people seeing you drive by my house." He walked around Puck and out of the choir room, feeling suddenly angry.
He wondered why Puck had no problems with Finn being gay but had made his mission to hate Kurt for it.
If he had turned around, he would have seen Puck watching him walk away.
Kurt put his book in the locker with so much force that he practically threw it inside. The metal vibrated from the impact and some of his books slipped out and fell onto the floor. "Damn." He knelt down and started to pick them up.
"What happened?" Finn bent down and retrieved the last of the fallen books, handing it to his boyfriend. "Did someone..."
"No, I knocked them down when I put away my English book." He put the books back in his locker and then looked up at Finn, smiling. "Thanks for helping me."
Finn gave him his dopey little grin before kissing him softly. "I missed you at lunch," he said, pulling back. He waited for Kurt to close his locker before sliding his arm around his shoulders and starting to walk towards the choir room for Glee. "Mercedes said you had to study for a test."
"Yeah, sorry." Kurt silently thanked his best friend for coming up with an excuse. If Finn got suspicious, he'd start snooping around and the last thing Kurt wanted was for him to find out about the surprise. "So, did I miss anything?"
Finn shrugged. "Puck had a fight with Rachel because she insists that he doesn't focus enough on glee and then Puck stormed out of the cafeteria calling her an annoying hobbit." He shook his head. "He looked a little angry to be honest, even before Rachel got on his case."
Kurt nodded absentmindedly, thinking that Puck was probably annoyed that he had to spend time with Kurt. "I'm sure it's nothing. Santana probably isn't putting out."
Finn chuckled kissing Kurt on his temple just as they arrived at the choir room. "I'm so glad you're not bitchy with me."
"Are you implying that I'm easy?" Kurt asked, laughing and pushing Finn inside the room. Finn grinned at him, shaking his head before grabbing his hand to lead him to one of the seats in the last row.
Everyone was there except for Mr. Schue, who walked in a few moments later smiling brightly at them.
"Okay guys, Nationals are just around the corner and we need to get ready. This year, we have to win."
"I can't wait to be in Los Angeles," Rachel said excitedly. "I've been dreaming about that city almost as much as I've dreamed about New York."
"Calm your tits, Berry," Santana told her. "We have to find a good number before going there."
"Santana's right," Mr. Schue said. "We need to work on being a team, so I want you guys to come up with a performance that you think may be good for Nationals, and I'm not talking about solos," he quickly added when Rachel's hand shot up in the air. "It needs to be a group number. You will have to work together on it. At the end of the month, you will show it to me and I will decide if it can be put on our list of performances for Nationals. You did great last year with your Theatricality numbers and the boys vs girls performances, so I'm sure you will come up with something that will amaze me."
Mr. Schue gathered his things and smiled encouragingly at New Directions. "I don't want to be spoiled, so I will just leave you guys to it. Don't let me down."
As soon as Mr. Schue was out the door, Rachel got up and walked to the center of the choir room. "I have so many ideas for this..."
"We have to decide together, Rachel," Kurt told her. "As much as I'd like to help you put up a school version of "Wicked," I really don't think it's what we need."
"No show tunes," Finn told his boyfriend and Rachel, looking completely uncomfortable.
"And no Kiss," the girls said all at the same time.
"We need something like Journey's medley last year. Something that's ours," Mercedes said. "That will get the audience to cheer and sing."
Rachel nodded and walked back to her seat. "We have so much work to do." She looked at Kurt then and said, "We need a great choreography. You came up with the whole "Single Ladies" and "Bad Romance" choreographies last year, so I think you should work on the dance part of our performance. With Brittany and Tina," she quickly added.
"We could come over at your place after school and..."
"I can't," he said quickly, cutting Tina off. He shot a nervous glance at Finn happy to notice that he had turned his attention onto something Mike was saying. "I'm busy after school."
"It doesn't need to be perfect, it's just an assignment," he said, cutting Rachel off, because he really had no intentions of wasting time on this when he had to learn how to play a song on the guitar in a little less than a month. "If Mr. Schue ends up liking it then we will have more time to work on it. I'm sure that our glee hours will do."
Once they had decided on a song, and it took them a while to get everyone to agree on the same thing, they gathered their things and left the choir room. Kurt hung back with Finn and Puck while the girls and the rest of the boys left.
"So, tonight we have our Halo marathon," Finn told his best friend while Puck was busy picking up his guitar. He got a small nod in return and his eyebrows knitted together into a frown. "What's going on with you today?"
"Nothing." Puck straightened his back and looked at Finn as if Kurt wasn't even in the room. "You can come over after dinner."
Puck quickly left the choir room and Finn sighed. "He's definitely in a bad mood. I wonder what happened."
Kurt nodded walking over to him and sliding his fingers through Finn's. "I don't know."
"Do you want to tag along tonight? You can play with me and Puck."
Kurt shook his head while they made their way out of the choir room and down the halls. "You know I don't like Halo."
"We can play something else."
"It's okay. We spend so much time together and I don't want you to neglect your friendship with him."
"Have I ever told you that you're like, the best boyfriend ever?"
Kurt laughed. "A few times."
Whenever Finn had a night with Puck and wouldn't be around, Kurt would take the chance to do a longer moisturizing routine and spend some time with his father. What he wasn't expecting was for the doorbell to ring around eleven.
"Can you get that, Kurt?" Burt asked his son without looking away from the TV screen.
Kurt got up from the couch huffing, and when he opened the door he barely got the "What can..." out before he stopped and stared at the boy standing on his front porch, his hands shoved deep into the pockets of his worn out jeans and his head hanging low as if he didn't even want to look Kurt in the eyes.
"I learned your stupid song."
"Already?" Kurt asked, recovering from the shock. "And what are you doing here?"
"I wanted to let you know that I'm coming over tomorrow." Puck raised his eyes, finally looking straight at Kurt. "It's not complicated, I learned it in an afternoon, so it shouldn't take you long even though you have no idea of what to do with a guitar."
Kurt nodded and smiled tightly at the other boy. "Okay." He glanced back over his shoulder to see if his father was listening in, but Burt was laughing at something that was happening in the movie they were watching. Kurt looked back up at Puck and asked, "Why did you come over?"
"I don't have your number and I didn't want to talk to you tomorrow at school."
"Of course." He didn't try to hide the bitterness in his tone. "You could have called here, we never changed our number." He stopped for a moment."Not that I think you still have it, but your mother..."
"Look, Kurt, Finn left and my mom was sleeping so I didn't want to wake her up and ask for your number. I came here and I told you what I needed to tell you, so I'm just going to go."
Kurt studied the boy standing in front of him, how he'd divert his gaze from Kurt's every few seconds and how he kept taking a step forward and one backward. He almost asked what was wrong before catching himself. He stepped further inside the house and said, "Well, thank you then. I really appreciate your help."
"Whatever." Puck used that tone he always used whenever he wanted to show how much he didn't care. He turned around and jogged down the steps leading up the porch before Kurt could say anything else, and he just stood there, watching Puck walk up to his truck, get inside and drive away. He didn't even know why he was doing it.
When he closed the door he heard his father turning off the TV, looking at him from the couch.
"Was that Puck? It sounded like him, or at least like I remember him sounding."
"Yeah, it was him." He walked over to the couch and sat down next to his father. "Were you eavesdropping?"
"Just when I heard a guy's voice." Burt looked at his son curiously trying to stop himself from asking what it was all about. In the end, he settled for feigned indifference and said, "So, it's been a while since I last saw him around."
Kurt snorted. "Yeah, ever since he nailed our lawn furniture to the roof."
Burt rolled his eyes. "I meant since the last time he came here and actually talked to you."
With a shrug, Kurt got up from the couch, ready to go to bed. "Before you ask, I don't know what happened. Believe me, I wish I did so I could just move on, but every time I see him, all I want to do is punch him in the face and ask what the hell happened." He took a deep breath to calm himself down. "Anyway, it doesn't matter anymore. He's helping me out with a gift for Finn so he'll be around for the next few weeks."
"Okay. And I'm sorry if I upset you."
"It's okay, Dad." Kurt kissed him on the cheek and bid him good night before going down to his room. He was tired of Puck getting to him. He hated being ignored by him without even knowing what the hell had happened between them, and he was tired of caring. It had been two whole years since they had last been friendly with each other and he knew it was time to let it go, but he wanted to know, he needed to know.
He threw himself down on his bed and a second later his phone buzzed on the night stand signaling an incoming message. He turned on his side and reached for it, blinking against the brightness of the screen. The message was from Finn and it was a simple,
'Hey, I got home earlier because Puck was grumpy. I'll see you tomorrow at school. Love you.'
Kurt sighed, putting the phone back down on the nightstand before lying on his back and staring up at the ceiling. Try as he might, his mind wouldn't stop going back to Puck and he felt that long forgotten knot tightening in his chest. For the first time since he thought about asking for Puck's help, Kurt regretted his decision. He wasn't supposed to feel anything at the thought of spending time alone with Puck for the first time in years.
The next day at school everything was normal. Finn was waiting for him like always; to make sure that the jocks wouldn't try to throw Kurt in the dumpster again. Kurt laced his fingers with his boyfriend's and felt that sense of normality and calm come back. He smiled up at Finn before kissing him good morning and when he pulled back, the little grin Finn had on his face made Kurt feel okay.
Throughout the day, Puck and Kurt ignored each other, and by the time school was over, Kurt wasn't even feeling anxious anymore.
"You said that you're working at the garage today?" Finn asked on their way out.
Kurt nodded while they crossed the parking lot. He guessed that a little lie didn't really matter since he was lying because of something he was doing for Finn. "You can come over for dinner if you want."
"I can't. My mom has her new boyfriend over tonight and I need to be there." Finn scrunched up his nose in distaste and Kurt got on his tiptoes, his hand curling around the back of his boyfriend's neck to bring him down for a kiss. He took his time exploring Finn's mouth, lazily stroking his tongue against Finn's, resting a hand right over Finn's heart, feeling it beat underneath his palm.
When Finn slid his arms around Kurt's waist and pulled him in closer, Kurt pulled back, laughing. "I better go."
Finn smiled at him pecking him on the lips before releasing his hold. "I'll call you later, okay?"
"Yes. Let me know if the boyfriend is okay."
"I doubt it."
"Hey," Kurt called after him while Finn was starting to walk away. He waited for his boyfriend to turn around before saying, "Give him a chance, you may actually like him."
"I'll try," Finn told him with a shrug.
Kurt watched him walk away for a moment before turning around and getting inside his Navigator to drive home.
Kurt was nervous, though he didn't want to admit it. He had kidded himself into thinking that everything was okay, but as soon as he was home, the anxiousness had come back again. Burt wasn't home and that actually made it a little bit better because it was going to be awkward enough having Puck over for the first time in two years without his father being there to make it worse.
He pulled a few cans of 7 Up out of the fridge because he remembered that Puck used to like to drink it. He stopped with the cans in his hands and looked at them as if they were something completely foreign. He realized in that moment, just how much time they had spent not being friends; he didn't even know if Puck had changed his tastes. He almost threw the cans he had bought just for this occasion in the trash, out of frustration, but before he could, the doorbell rang.
He put the cans down on the table of the kitchen and sighed before going to open the door. "Hey, Puck," he greeted.
Puck barely nodded at him before walking inside. "Are you ready?" he asked right away.
Kurt nodded, waving towards the kitchen. "I made us a few snacks if you are hungry and..."
"I'm okay. We should start working on your song." He didn't wait for Kurt to answer him but chose to walk towards Kurt's bedroom. He stopped when he realized what he was doing and glanced at Kurt who was looking at him surprised. "Is your room still in the basement?"
"Yeah." Kurt felt something he thought long forgotten starting to stir inside him when he saw that Puck still remembered where his bedroom was. It wasn't so surprising, it had only been two years after all, but he couldn't help but feel almost content for a moment. "Do you still drink 7 Up?" he asked.
Puck seemed taken aback by the question, but nodded. "Yes."
"I'll be down in a minute, then." Kurt turned around and walked back inside the kitchen and picked up the cans and the sandwiches he had made before going down to his room.
He found Puck standing at the edge of his bed, the guitar case laid down on the mattress and opened. Puck had his back to the stairs and so Kurt cleared his throat to announce his presence. He walked over to his desk and put everything down before nervously looking at Puck.
"If you get hungry..."
"Okay, thanks." Puck ran a hand over his mohawk and seemed to be trying to calm himself down. "It's a simple song so it won't take us long. I can teach you the first chords today and then I can come over on Friday."
"Alright," Kurt said nodding. He walked closer to Puck and looked down at the guitar. "I always liked it when you played with Finn. He was never really good, though," he said fondly and he missed the look of resentment that crossed Puck's eyes. "Let's get to work, alright?" He picked up the guitar and turned towards Kurt, sliding the strap over Kurt's shoulders. "Sit down on the floor, it will be easier."
Kurt nodded doing as he was told. He sat down on the floor with his legs crossed, the guitar resting comfortably on his thighs. "So, what do I do now?"
Puck sat down behind him and Kurt was startled for a moment. He wasn't used to being so close to Puck, not anymore. When the jock used to throw him into dumpsters, he usually held Kurt by his chest, but that was different, it wasn't something that was supposed to be intimate or even friendly. But now, with Puck settled behind him, his legs on either side of Kurt's waist, he couldn't help but feel like this was something different, something more.
For a moment, he felt himself tensing and judging by Puck's next words, he noticed.
"Relax. I'm not going to beat you up. If I stand behind you, I can guide your fingers over the chords in the right away. If I stood in front of you, you wouldn't understand what to do and we don't exactly have a lot of time."
Kurt nodded, trying to stir his thoughts away from Puck's hot breath ghosting over his neck. "I promise to try and learn as quickly as I can, so you won't have to spend any more time with me than necessary."
Puck shrugged behind him and Kurt saw Puck's hands coming to rest on his own, guiding his fingers over the strings of the guitar. He let Puck guide him through the first verse of the song.
"It's not that hard," he said after half an hour. Puck chuckled behind him.
"That's because I'm playing with you. Here, do it yourself," he said letting go of Kurt's hands.
Kurt furrowed his brow in concentration and tried to remember all the chords, but he didn't get more than a few right. "Damn. I suck."
Puck slid his hands over Kurt's again and shook his head. "It just takes time. No one learns to play a song, on an instrument they don't know how to play, in half an hour."
Kurt sighed heavily and moved his fingers under Puck's, trying to memorize everything, but the more Puck leaned into him to look from over his shoulder where their fingers were, the more Kurt started to lose focus. Finally, Kurt stilled his fingers over the strings.
He exhaled slowly, feeling his back press harder against Puck's chest and he couldn't bring himself to feel guilty if in that moment he found himself wanting more of that contact, those feelings he had tried to forget and push away for years, surging right back to the surface.
He wanted to turn around and look at Puck, but he found himself lowering his head, his gaze fixed on where Puck's hands were still resting over his. He wondered in that moment why Puck hadn't pulled away already since he always seemed to be going out of his way to avoid touching Kurt.
Even knowing that his next words were likely going to break the moment, he found he couldn't stop himself from voicing that one question that had been plaguing him for years now.
"What happened to us?" His voice was grave, unabashedly carrying all those emotions that he had always repressed.
Kurt sighed, disappointed, when Puck tensed behind him.
Kurt dared to glance at Puck and found himself staring into wary hazel eyes. "We used to be friends," he said, trying to turn around completely, but Puck's legs were still around him, trapping him. "The three of us," he added in almost a whisper.
Puck shrugged, looking away. "Nothing happened."
Kurt chuckled humorlessly. "One day you were my best friend and the next day you were ignoring me."
Puck pulled away quickly after that. He got up and started gathering his things. "Keep the guitar to practice with, you can give it back when we're done."
"I have to go."
"Wait. Just tell me what the hell happened," he said, frustrated. His right hand tightened around the neck of the guitar while his eyes followed Puck across the room.
"I didn't want to be picked on anymore just because I was your friend," Puck said, his hand on the handrail of the stairs and one of his feet awkwardly resting on the first step.
It sounded so shallow that Kurt didn't want to believe it. He told himself that it couldn't be the real reason.
"I don't believe you."
"That's your problem." And Puck was back at using that cold tone, the one that was full of indifference.
"We were best friends, Puck, and you want me to believe that you threw it all away in the span of a day because they picked on you?" Kurt glared at the jock's back. "They never even picked on you. Find a better excuse. And what about Finn..."
"It's different. Finn liked sports and was the quarterback. But you..."
"I'm not man enough," he finished for him bitterly. "Of course. It's always the same, isn't it? You got your reputation and everyone but Finn left you because you may have thought that the football team were your friends, but truth is, you were alone. You still are."
Kurt wanted Puck to hurt even just for one moment. He was sure that Puck was going to hit him or insult him, but all Puck did was start going up the stairs. "I'll see you on Friday," he said, just before closing the door of the bedroom behind him.
Kurt remained sitting on the floor, holding the guitar long after the front door had been slammed shut.