Kurt wondered how much things were going to change now that he and Puck had kissed; he wondered if they were going to pretend to be strangers like they had done for the last two years. However, at next glee rehearsal, Puck sat down next to him, even said "Hey," before starting to play on his guitar. It was impossible for Kurt to stop smiling after that, even when Rachel started yelling.
They showed their choreography to Mr. Schue at the end of the month, dancing and singing to You Get What You Give which left Mr. Schue speechless.
"We are using that for Nationals!" he said enthusiastically while clapping his hands.
New Directions started laughing together, hugging each other, and when Puck turned around and pulled Kurt into a tight embrace, Kurt held onto him a little longer. He pulled back without saying anything, still respecting Puck's wishes.
Nationals that year was in Los Angeles and even though they had spent the last nine months talking about Sunset Boulevard and going to Beverly Hills as soon as they stepped out of the plane, they stood there for a moment, as if just realizing that they were there.
Mercedes grabbed Kurt into a tight hug, screaming in his ear, and he couldn't help but do the same when he pulled Rachel into their embrace.
Mr. Schue had more money than when they had gone to New York the previous year, so they were divided into groups of three and then sent to their rooms. Kurt found himself sharing with Sam, Mike and Artie, while Puck, Finn and Matt got another room. The girls divided into Santana, Brittany and Quinn, and Mercedes, Tina and Rachel. They had their songs ready, their choreographies as perfect as choreography with Finn could be, and they were ready to win.
That year, Nationals had the same bittersweet taste that the last few months of school had, because it was the last chance they had to win together, the Original New Directions; come September, the only ones that would walk inside the choir room again were going to be Tina and Artie.
McKinley's glee club spent the first day in L.A. going around the city. Mercedes, Kurt and Rachel went on every tour they could, and to any VIPs' houses they could find.
For a while Kurt thought he would have been able to stop thinking about where he stood with Puck, just enjoy the city and be there with his friends without focusing on what was going on in his personal life. However, he soon realized that he should have known better. The questions about his break-up with Finn started during the party (all girls, plus Kurt) they had on the second night, in the Cheerios' room.
"Do you have a new boyfriend?" Santana asked.
Kurt shook his head, taking another gulp from his Diet Coke. "Of course not."
"Why did you break up with Finn anyway?" Tina asked sounding like she genuinely cared about what was wrong instead of just wanting some new gossip.
"I didn't," Kurt answered. He squeezed the bottle he was holding tightly and didn't meet anyone's eyes. "He broke up with me."
The girls looked surprised, much like Burt had looked when Kurt had told him that he was single once again. However, Rachel was frowning, staring at Kurt as if she was trying to figure something out. It was unnerving.
"What?" Kurt asked a bit rudely.
"I..." She shook her head getting up from the floor to go retrieve another bottle of coke from the mini-fridge. "Nothing important. I was just thinking."
"About what?" Mercedes asked. She sat down cross-legged on the bed, her eyes following Rachel's every move.
Rachel looked at Kurt again and her eyes narrowed a little, but after glancing around the room, she ended up excusing herself, saying that she had to go look for Mr. Schue to ask about tomorrow's performance. Everyone believed it because it was so Rachel. Everyone but Kurt.
"I left my phone in my room," he said, getting up and dusting off his black jeans. "And I have to call my dad. Goodnight girls."
Rachel was leaning against the wall at the end of the hall and when she spotted Kurt; she smiled nervously.
"What's going on, Rachel?"
"You know, as captain of our team, I take it upon myself to always pay attention to all of you because I need to know your weak points so I can make you improve."
Kurt raised an eyebrow confused. "I'm not following you."
"I may be wrong, but did you and Finn break up because of Puck?"
Kurt looked away, crossing his arms in front of his chest. "It's not what you think."
"I think it is," Rachel said smiling. She put a hand on Kurt's forearm to make him look at her. "I don't think you cheated on Finn, Kurt, but I think that Finn caught onto Puck liking you and you liking Puck." She pulled her hand back and straightened her skirt, as if to look disinterested, though all the while she had some kind of self-satisfied grin on her face. "I saw him staring at you at school, I saw you staring at him, too. I was wondering what it was about. I mean, you and Puck are not a match you would think about, but you two strangely make sense."
Kurt huffed. "You don't really know what's going on Rachel, okay? It's complicated, and..."
"Are you two together now?" Rachel asked, cutting Kurt off as if he hadn't even been talking. She took a step forward and leaned in closer, a smile playing on her lips. "I think you should know that his mother is really serious about traditions..."
Rolling his eyes, Kurt took a step backwards. The last thing he wanted was to talk with Rachel about this. "I know Mrs. Puckerman better than you, Rachel, thank you."
Rachel recoiled, surprised. "You do?"
"Like I said, you don't really know what is going on. It's none of your business, but just so you know, we are not together."
"But you two look a lot closer, now," Rachel commented, not entirely convinced by Kurt's words.
"Because we are friends."
"Yes, Rachel and now, I'm going to go," Kurt answered, before turning around to walk back to his room.
Thinking about what had happened in the last month, Kurt realized that he had just gone from being confused about whether he still felt something for Puck, to being confused on what they were. True to his words, Puck hadn't tried to kiss Kurt again; he didn't even try to bring whatever they were up in a conversation. Every time Kurt found himself talking with Puck during glee club or at lunch, it was brief and about random things.
Puck asked about Burt, things like if he was seeing anyone new or how his health was, and in return, Kurt asked about Puck's sister, about Mrs. Puckerman. Kurt guessed that they were catching up, after all, you couldn't just go from two years of avoidance to being a couple, but he still would have liked to know exactly where they stood. Were they friends? Soon to be boyfriends? Or two people that just didn't have good timing when it came down to their relationship?
When Kurt reached his room, he told himself to stop thinking about it. It was like whatever had to happen between them was up to Puck, and Kurt wasn't entirely okay with it, but he knew that Puck had valid reasons for wanting to wait.
The sound of laughter and that annoying music that usually belonged to video games could be heard from the hallway, along with the clicking of bottles and swear words. Kurt opened the door, smiling and expecting to find only Artie, Mike and Sam playing. He stopped halfway inside when he saw Puck and Finn sitting cross-legged on the floor, each one holding a remote and laughing while they yelled things like "Loser!" and "You're so slow!" at each other.
Sam was the first one to spot him and he greeted Kurt with a smile and a, "Hey!"
Closing the door behind him, Kurt said, "I could hear you from down the hall."
"I'm handing Finn's ass to him," Puck answered, his eyes fixed on the game, his fingers flying over the control.
"They've been playing for the last two hours," Artie said. He grabbed another coke from the mini-fridge and handed it to Kurt, telling him to take a seat somewhere. "You'd think they are battling for world peace or something."
Without really thinking about it, Kurt sat down on the floor next to Puck, because that was where he used to sit once upon a time. He glanced at the two boys next to him and noticed how forcefully they were smashing the buttons. He realized that it was their way of fighting: better to kill a fictional character in a game than hit your best friend. When Kurt took a sip from his bottle, his arm brushed against Puck's, making the boy lose focus for a moment.
"Ah ha!" Finn yelled in triumph using Puck's distraction to kill off his character. "Who's a loser now, Puckerman?"
Puck threw the control down and called Finn a cheater, even though the smile on his face never faltered and he never moved his arm away from Kurt's.
As history would have it, New Directions had to perform against Vocal Adrenaline, but for the first time, they actually managed to beat them and go to the top 10. They had never been so close to winning Nationals, and they were so sure of themselves, had so much energy and cohesion, that when they performed for the last time, they knew they had won.
When they were proclaimed winners, they were proclaimed winners, there were tears, since their first Nationals win as a group was also their last time together.
They partied at the hotel and Mr. Schue broke his promise and bought them one bottle of champagne; they toasted in cheap plastic glasses and ate slightly stale chips.
The flight back home the next day was early, and they all stumbled out of bed to get ready, still half-asleep. Once the adrenaline from the victory subsided, the exhaustion of the week caught up with them and most of the glee club spent the flight back sleeping.
Mr. Schue, Puck, Kurt and Artie were awake, and while Artie spent his time talking with Mr. Schue about what they were going to do next year with the glee club, Puck and Kurt found themselves sitting next to each other in silence, Mercedes snoring on Kurt's shoulder.
"You were great," Puck suddenly said.
Kurt looked up at him with a frown. "What?"
"When you sang with Rachel, you were great." Puck turned around in his seat and his eyes found Kurt, a small smile curving his lips, and his hands gripping the armrests of his seat tightly. "I could actually see you two being in some musical on Broadway. I mean, I don't know anything about musicals, but that's what you two want to do, right?"
Kurt nodded. He could feel himself blushing a little, because usually it was Rachel who complimented him on his performances.
"Well, I think you'll make it, both of you." Puck chuckled, leaning forward a little, and didn't look away. "You have talent and you're stubborn. I can't wait to see you making it."
"Will you?" Kurt asked, and his voice sounded breathy, caught somewhere in his throat, and if they had been anywhere else, far away from their friends and their snoring, Kurt would have found everything really romantic. However, Mercedes' head resting heavily on his shoulder, Artie's loud laughter, and the sound coming from the PSP Finn had been playing before falling asleep, gave a sense of reality to everything, and that was a lot better.
"What do you mean?" Puck asked, and he sounded genuinely confused.
"Will you really see it?" Kurt slowly leaned closer to the other boy, trying not to disturb Mercedes. His eyes were determined when they locked with Puck's again. "I don't mean on the news, but will you be there to see it?"
Silence filled the next few moments, and Kurt's hands closed tightly around the armrest between his seat and Puck's. He didn't even try to hide his nervousness, he just waited until he felt fingers sliding through his and Puck leaned a little bit closer.
"I got accepted at NYU," he whispered.
Kurt's lips curved upwards into a little grin that quickly became a smile. "As in New York University?"
Puck rolled his eyes and didn't answer, but he was still holding Kurt's hand and he was still smiling.
It didn't mean a lot, just that they were going to be in the same city, that maybe Puck didn't want to lose contact. Kurt really didn't want to start making plans, to start imagining them sharing a little apartment they would hate because it was too small, and the neighbors were horrible, and the noises coming from the street too loud. He tried to stop himself but couldn't, and the way Puck was looking at him, the hope and fear that Kurt could see in his eyes, made it alright. In fact, it made it a lot more than alright.
"Okay," he said quietly, his fingers squeezing Puck's.
"It still isn't time, though," Puck pointed out.
Kurt sighed. "I know. It doesn't matter."
If Puck suddenly staying over every Friday dinner was unusual, Burt didn't say anything. He told Kurt that they could go on the roof or stay in the living room to do their homework, but that the bedroom was off limits. He treated Puck like he had always treated Finn, and never once asked what was going on.
The last month of school was spent studying together and "meeting at an appointed place at an appointed time" that they never called dating, and finally, about what they were going to do come September.
One afternoon while they were studying together, Puck asked, "Are you going to be living with Rachel?"
Kurt nodded distractedly while chewing on his pencil. "Yep. I wish you'd come to live with us, it would make everything easier."
Puck swallowed slowly, his eyes focused on the other boy. He was half waiting for Kurt to say that he had been joking, but he never did. What he did do, was turn around, a frown on his face, and say, "Would you like something to drink? It's too hot to keep studying."
"I'd like that," Puck answered, still shocked.
Kurt nodded and raised from his chair. "I'm in the mood for some iced tea, is that okay?"
"I'm not thirsty."
Puck sounded annoyed, as if it was Kurt's fault he didn't get what he meant and it made Kurt frown in confusion. "I asked you..."
"I meant that I'd like to live with you two. I mean, we're all going in the same place, and we're only going to know each other at first. It makes sense, right?" He looked sheepishly up at Kurt and when he didn't get an answer, he ran a hand through his mohawk.
Kurt grinned, a little surprised at first, and then he broke into a big smile and had to stop himself from saying something embarrassing like, "Hell yes!"
"We are leaving in August and we are still looking for a place we will actually be able to afford. Me and Rachel have a sort of weekly meeting where we discuss school and apartments. You could join us next time, if you want."
Puck grinned. "Cool."
After that day, Rachel became the only one besides Kurt to know that Puck was going to college, that he was going to leave with them, that they were moving into their new lives together, and Kurt was surprised to see how supportive she was.
Rachel made sure to include Puck in every conversation about New York she had with Kurt, whether it was about an apartment they had seen online or what musical they were going to see first. It all became natural and by the time graduation rolled around, Kurt had stopped feeling anxious and was more than ready to move on.
New Directions sang one last time (at graduation), right after Figgins' speech and before Rachel's. They stood next to each other, Artie and Tina's white gowns setting them apart from the others' blue ones, and sang Graduation (Friends Forever) by Vitamin C.
Later, after the caps had been thrown up in the air and the pictures taken, Kurt and Puck found themselves sitting on the back of Puck's old pick-up, sharing a comfortable silence.
After a while, Finn joined them, sitting down between them.
"Can't believe it's over," he said.
Kurt nodded. "And now you are going to Ohio State. I bet you will become quarterback there too."
Finn smiled, happy to hear that Kurt still believed in him. He twisted his gown in his hands and shrugged. "It's going to be harder."
"I'm sure you'll make it," Puck said. He slid his arm around Finn's shoulders and squeezed him into a half embrace. Kurt hesitated a moment before sliding his arm around Finn's waist; it still felt familiar.
Finn slid an arm around Puck's shoulders and the other around Kurt's. "And you guys are off to New York."
"Yeah, with Rachel," Kurt said, with a tone that was supposed to sound annoyed, but that only ended up making Finn laugh.
"Dude, I wish I could see you three together. I wonder how long it's going to take before you end up wanting to kill each other."
"We'll be two against one, anyway," Puck commented. "We're going to win every argument."
"Yeah, you two." Finn sounded wistful and Kurt hugged him tighter, wanting to keep the bad feelings at bay.
"When we come back for Christmas, we will have to hang out together," Kurt said softly. He looked at Finn and at Puck, trying to smile. "Right?"
Finn shrugged. "Maybe. We're going to change a lot," he added, "We could stop being friends and lose track of each other."
"Nope." Puck smirked before looking ahead, as if he could see into the future. "It's going to be us together for the rest of our lives."
"Puck, dude, you're turning this into a chick-flick moment," Finn said, but he was grinning and Kurt could feel him relaxing against him.
"We even made an oath with blood and spit and all the rest," Kurt added. He scrunched up his nose a little, thinking about the summer back when they were nine and used to sleep in Kurt's three house.
"We made you do some disgusting things," Puck said, laughing. He looked at Kurt, his eyes shining and full of laughter.
"And he made you do girl's things," Finn cut in. He turned to look at Puck and laughed. "I saw the pictures. You made a nice looking wife."
"Shut up, dude!" Puck pushed Finn playfully and stood up. "I'm going to go find Ma."
Finn and Kurt watched him walk away before Finn turned around and said, "I'm glad you're going to be with him."
"Are we okay?" Kurt asked tentatively.
Finn stared at him, taking in the way the sun was making Kurt's skin look paler than usual and his eyes look brighter. He looked worried, a small frown creasing his forehead, and Finn decided that it was really time to let it go. "Yeah," he finally answered, nodding a couple of times, and he was glad that Kurt didn't comment on his voice sounding higher than usual. "Yeah, we're okay."
The smile Kurt gave him made it worth it.
The door leading from the kitchen to the backyard squeaked a few times when it was pushed open. The usual green grass was covered in snow and Finn's steps left footprints on the soft white blanket. He tightened his jacket around himself and put his hands under his armpits. Whenever he inhaled, the cold air burned his throat, and every exhale was met with a little white cloud.
He had left his gloves in the living room, so when he put his hands on the wood of the little staircase that led up to the old tree house, he shivered. "Couldn't they wait for me in the living room?" Finn mumbled to himself.
He reached the trap-door and pushed, but he was unable to open it. He heard giggling and then the trapdoor was opened and Puck's smiling face looked down at him. "Fucking finally, Hudson."
"Get out of the way," Finn said, pushing his way up. It was definitely harder to get through the little entrance at nineteen, and being as tall as he was didn't help. Once he was inside, he quickly closed the trap-door to keep some of the cold out, even though it didn't really help.
When Finn looked up, he found Puck and Kurt sitting on an old quilt, huddled together under a spare one.
"Couldn't we meet inside?"
"No way, Finn. Have you seen your mother and my dad?" Kurt asked, sounding a little disgusted. "They're kissing all the time."
"What if they were waiting for you two to break up so they could get it on?" Puck asked, laughing. Kurt hit him on the shoulder and Finn threw a packet of chips at him.
"Don't hit me all the time," Puck told Kurt, but he was smiling, and he leaned forward, his lips finding Kurt's automatically. Kurt's skin was almost freezing but his lips were stretched into a smile against Puck's, and Puck found himself not caring about Kurt's lips being cold and chapped.
"Can you save it for later?" Finn asked, annoyed. He sat down next to Kurt and tugged on the quilt until it was covering his legs as well.
"Did you find a boyfriend?" Puck asked. He slid an arm around Kurt, bringing him closer. Kurt relaxed against his side and reached for the bag of chips Finn had thrown at Puck.
"I've been busy with football," Finn answered shrugging. He got a handful of chips and put them all in his mouth before reaching for one of the cokes lying next to them.
"That's disgusting," Kurt said.
"You should see you and Rachel whenever you're watching one of those stupid movies. You two start crying all over the place and you get snot on my shirt all the time. That's disgusting."
Kurt pushed him playfully but Puck laughed, reaching for his hand and entwining their fingers together, getting Kurt to lean against him once again.
"How's the big city?" Finn asked around a mouthful of chips.
"Great. Chaotic but funny. We have met really nice people, and by that I mean that Puck's friends are cool. Me and Rachel are stuck with annoying egocentric snobs."
Puck rolled his eyes, reaching for a beer he had snuck out of the fridge while Burt was busy with Carole. "You two are annoying egocentric snobs too. Believe me, I have to live with you two."
Finn kept his eyes fixed on the couple. The ease they had with each other surprised him. Kurt had never really been this open when they were together. He wondered what else was different about the boy now, but he shook his head to chase the thought away. "You guys okay?" He heard himself asking.
Kurt nodded, a big smile on his face. He grabbed Puck's arm and wounded it around his shoulders before reaching for the bag of chips Puck had stolen.
Puck kept the bag up above his head, laughing until Kurt pinched his side. He handed the bag of chips over and stole a kiss, and then looked up at Finn, his eyes full of something Finn had never seen there before: love and joy and fullness. "We are great," he finally answered.
Finn was happy to realize that they had all moved on from the past, that now, looking at Kurt, it didn't seem like something was missing anymore. He looked just as whole as Puck did. For the first time, when Finn told himself that he was happy for them, he actually meant it. After all, he had always felt like Puck and Kurt were something inevitable, and it finally felt okay to admit it.