"Kurt, honey, are you sure he's going to make it?" Carol's voice, filled with motherly concern, pulled Kurt's attention away from the window. He'd been staring out it for what felt like hours, watching anxiously as car after car drove by, never once stopping, or even slowing down. Each passing vehicle had caused him a little more anxiety and a little more disappointment. "I only ask because it's getting late and the turkey is…."
Carol's voice trailed off as Kurt bit down on his bottom lip. Taking a deep breath, he looked up toward the ceiling. Any other parent would have taken his expression as an exasperated eye roll. But, thankfully, Carol had come to know better. She'd learned early on that that particular expression meant that Kurt was upset, on the verge of tears. And that generally, a hug was in order. As she walked closer to him, Kurt tried to blink back the tears that were stinging his eyes.
"Oh, honey…." Once again, Carol's voice faded away. Without saying anything else, she reached out and pulled Kurt into a warm hug.
Still afraid of the tears that were threatening to fall, Kurt didn't say a word. Instead, he wrapped his arms around his step-mother and melted into her embrace. Carol was soft and round, which was what Kurt had come to believe mothers should be.
Over the years, he'd tried to remember what his mother's hugs had felt like many times. But no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't. The only things that he could recall were that she was soft and always smelled faintly of her favorite perfume. It was a light floral scent that reminded him of lilies. Carol, however, smelled of vanilla (with a dash of cranberry sauce from an earlier spill).
And even though she wasn't his mother, her hugs were perfect. They were the thing he'd been missing since his mom had died.
Kurt squeezed her a little tighter, drinking in her warmth and scent. Carol hugged him back and spoke so that no one else in the house could hear. "Kurt, he'll show up. When has Noah ever let you down?" Kurt snorted in response; it was all he could do as a tear slid down his cheek. "When it counts, anyway." There was a hint of amusement in Carol's voice, and Kurt couldn't help but smile slightly.
"When it counts?" Kurt pulled away and brushed at the single tear. Carol watched him as if making sure no more would follow. "Never." Oh, there had been many times when Puck had disappointed him over the past year. There'd been missed dates and lack of enthusiasm over new sweaters or shoulder bags, for instance. But when it mattered, when it counted, Puck had never once failed to come through.
And Kurt prayed that tonight wouldn't be the exception.
It was Christmas Eve, and since Puck was Jewish and he wasn't, they'd decided to share both of the holidays. They'd gotten together three years after graduating from McKinley, and they'd been together for almost a year now. So even though everyone technically knew everyone else in their families, they still wanted to make a big deal out of their first Christmas/Chanukah together. When they'd originally discussed the idea, it almost seemed like a special rite of passage for them as a couple. After all, it wasn't like they could do an official Meet the Family dinner or anything like that. But their first major holiday together? That they could totally do.
Kurt had spent the first night of Chanukah with Puck's family. Ms. Puckerman had doted over Kurt, squeezing his ribs and telling him that he was still too skinny. (Ever since she'd finally accepted that her son was bisexual and dating a male gentile, she'd made it her mission to fatten Kurt up.) Rebecca, Puck's little sister, had sat by with her quarterback boyfriend, giggling at Kurt's (obvious) discomfort. And together they'd shared a wonderful, if very large, meal that was full of laughter and love. Afterword they'd exchanged gifts and had dessert. It had been an amazing night.
Kurt had spent a couple of the other nights with his boyfriend, but for the rest of the holiday, Puck had been busy visiting various relatives.
But now, Chanukah was over, and it was time for Christmas Eve dinner at the Hummel house.
And Puck was late.
Earlier that afternoon, Kurt had spoken to his boyfriend, and everything had seemed fine and on schedule. Puck had said that he had to do something last minute shopping, but that he'd "totally" make it by seven.
But it was now eight forty-seven, and Kurt hadn't been able to get a hold of Puck since three thirty.
Kurt was now angry and upset, and he was also worried. He'd tried calling Ms. Puckerman, but Rebecca had said she was out on a date. And that anyway, neither of them had any clue where her "idiot brother" was. Kurt had made her promise to call if she heard anything. But she hadn't called once.
In the meantime, Kurt had tried to enjoy himself as the expanding Hummel clan celebrated. He'd helped Carol in the kitchen and adjusted the ornaments that Burt and Finn had placed on the tree. And though it had pained him, Kurt had gone out of his way to be cordial to Nina, Finn's Rachel-2.0-minus-the-talent-about-to-pop-pregnant girlfriend.
But after nibbling on a sugar cookie shaped like a mitten and sipping some of his gourmet, homemade eggnog, Kurt had drifted over to the picture window and began watching for Puck. Kurt had even tried calling his boyfriend a few more times and sent a few more texts, but he hadn't gotten a single response.
And now, people were hungry, and Kurt couldn't really blame them. They were supposed to have eaten an hour ago after all. But Kurt was still waiting for Puck, because he knew that Carol was right; Puck never failed to come through when it really mattered.
Once more, Kurt's gaze flickered toward the front window before moving back to Carol. "Why don't you get the food out on the table? We don't want a pregnant and starving Lady Godzilla to come stomping after us, do we?" Carol smirked, and even Kurt managed a small smile; she didn't care for Nina either. "I'll be right back." Kurt pointed towards the kitchen, letting Carol know he wanted to go that way. "I just want to step outside for a minute."
Carol smiled and nodded at him. "He'll be here." She reached out and squeezed Kurt's arm gently. "I've known Noah Puckerman for a long time. He may be a -"
"Irritating, inconsiderate pain." Kurt poured his irritation and worry into the abuse. He didn't really mean what he'd said. (Well… not totally anyway.) But it had made him feel better to relieve some of the tension none the less.
"He does have his moments." Carol laughed fondly, and Kurt knew that she was thinking back to when Finn and Puck were younger. He could only imagine the trouble those two must have gotten into.
"That he does." The words came out softly, as a meaningless comment more than anything else. He loved Carol, but he was ready for the conversation to be over. "Well…" Once again, Kurt pointed towards the kitchen. "I'm going to run outside for just a mo'."
Carol nodded. "Alright. I'll have your father help me get the food on the table." She smiled warmly. "Don't be out too long, ok? It's cold, and I can't promise that I'll be able to keep the hungry masses at bay."
Kurt chuckled as he thought of trying to keep Finn and his dad away from the turkey. (And that was to say nothing of Nina.) "Don't worry. I won't be long." He stepped around Carol and headed towards the backdoor in the kitchen. As he went, he grabbed his dad's heavy jacket off the hook and pulled it on. Normally, he wouldn't have worn something from Sears, but Kurt's coat was in his bedroom, and really, his dad's jacket was quite warm and cozy. (Not that he'd ever admit that out loud.)
Once Kurt stepped outside, he pulled the oversized coat more tightly around himself. Carol was right; it was a cold night, and the chilly temperature was already setting into his cheeks and nose.
For a moment, he just stood there, gazing out over the yard. It had been snowing non-stop for the past few days, large fluffy flakes that glided like feathers as they floated down around him. The snow fall had quickly turned into piles that blanketed Lima in glittering powered. Kurt could make out the sparkling mounds that were bushes near the house in the surprisingly bright light of the moon.
It was beautiful out.
So quiet and calm, like a scene frozen in one of his mother's favorite snow globes.
But despite the gorgeous night, Kurt was still filled with a burbling mixture of anger, disappointment, and worst of all… worry.
Suppressing a shiver, Kurt pulled out his cell phone and dialed Puck. It rang once, then twice, before going to voice mail again. Kurt didn't leave a message (he'd already left about twenty today). Instead, he tried sending him (another) text even though he'd sent waytoo many of those over the course of the day as well.
As his chilly fingers flew over the keys, Kurt heard another car pass by his house. The sound of it was faint, and Kurt couldn't help but wonder if the snow had muffled the engine. It was a silly thought, but then again, he did feel like he was trapped inside his own private snow globe. (Which was a ridiculous thought in and of itself.)
Forgetting about the car and its quiet motor, Kurt hit "send." The little electronic screen glowed for a second with the word "sent" before going black. Shoving the cell back into his pocket, Kurt looked out over the snow-covered lawn again.
But instead of feeling like he was in some perfectly painted winter wonderland, Kurt felt like he was trapped with fake snow mounds and little bits of plastic masquerading as snow. He was miserable. Looking up into the night sky, Kurt whispered, "Where are you, Noah?"
"I'm right here, babe." The sound of Puck's voice caused Kurt to spin around so fast that he almost slipped. Puck was standing outside the patio door, and Kurt could just make out Carol beaming at him from the kitchen.
"Noah!" Kurt's voice was a soft whisper as he felt himself fill with relief. Puck was finally there (albeit two hours late), and he was fine. He hadn't been run over by any reindeer or impaled on any rouge Christmas trees. He was totally and completely ok….
Which made Kurt's relief melt like snow that had just been peed on by a dog.
Instantly, Kurt felt just as icy as the night around him. "Noah." Kurt repeated Puck's name, but this time it wasn't said in wonder. "You're here." He glared daggers at his boyfriend. "Finally."
"Uh…." Puck looked confused, like he hadn't expected Kurt to be upset. Which, knowing Puck, he probably hadn't. In fact, he had probably thought that Kurt would fling himself into his arms in relief. And that was something that totallywasn't going to happen.
"Uh?" Kurt parroted Puck's response, making sure that it was appropriately sarcastic. "That's all you've got to say for yourself? I've been calling and texting you all day. To which, I got no response. And -"
"I know." Puck walked towards him with his hands raised in surrender. "I'm sorry, babe."
"Don't you dare babe me." Kurt took a step backwards. He wasn't about to give into Puck. "You knewhow important tonight was to me."
Again, Puck said, "I know," as he took a few more steps forward.
And just like before, Kurt took a few more steps back. "I spent Chanukah with you. I made sure to go out of my way to… to…." There was muchmore that Kurt wanted to say. But before he could get out the rest of his sentence, the back of his legs collided with something very hard. The next thing Kurt knew, he was falling backwards into the snow. Before he crashed down, Kurt had a quick flash of a cement goose dressed in a Santa suit go through his mind.
The goose, cleverly named Goosey, had been a Mother's Day gift from Finn to his mom. When he'd given it to her, it had been outfitted in a little dress covered in sunflowers. Ever since then, Carol had taken to dressing it according to season and holiday. She'd put it on the patio, next to a pot of geraniums so that it could be seen from the kitchen. It was tacky and ugly, and of course, Carol loved it.
Kurt, obviously, hated it.
And now, as his tailbone crashed into the frozen ground, sending a shock of pain through his backside, he disliked it even more. (That was something that he wouldn't have thought possible.)
"Kurt!" From his place on the ground, Kurt could hear Puck's footsteps crunching in the snow as he ran towards him. Still riled up and angry, Kurt really didn't want to be sprawled on his back in the snow with Puck standing over him laughing. It was just too humiliating.
So, even though his tailbone was still aching, Kurt pushed himself up. As he did, Puck dropped down into the snow next to him. "Are you ok?" Puck looked concerned but also slightly amused, which didn't help how Kurt was feeling.
"I -" Kurt lifted his chin in a dignified way as he brushed snow off his chest. "Am fine. Thank you verymuch." Kurt continued to wipe at the flecks as they landed on his dad's jacket. He was fighting a losing battle, and he knew it, but Kurt needed to do something with his hands.
Puck was kneeling in the snow and still staring at Kurt. But now that he knew Kurt was fine, the concern was leaving his face and making way for the amusement to flood in. "What did you trip over?"
"Carol's ridiculous cement goose." Feeling stupid and angry, Kurt kicked at Goosey with enough force to dislodge a chunk of snow from its beak. It fell onto Kurt's ankle and instantly began to soak into his sock. "I hate that thing." He mumbled the words under his breath more to himself that Puck.
Puck snorted but managed to not laugh.
Kurt only just managed not to kick him too.
For a few tense seconds, they both sat there in silence. Kurt was still upset, but his anger had faded into disappointment. Finally, giving up on brushing off his sleeves, Kurt dropped his hands into the cold snow on the ground. "Where were you today?" He watched his boyfriend, hoping for an answer that would make everything alright.
Puck, however, didn't have one.
Tired of kneeling, Puck sat back on the ground. "I'm sorry. I…" His voice trailed off as he looked into Kurt's eyes. "I had something that I had to take care of. It was really important."
"This something was really important?" Kurt clenched his fists in the snow, feeling uneven snow balls form in his hands. "This is what was important, Noah." As Kurt spat out the words, he felt his anger rise up again. "You promised… And you said… And you know…." A million different thoughts fought for dominance in Kurt's mind and ended up coming out as fragmented sentences. And before Kurt knew what he was doing, he threw one of the misshapen balls of snow at Puck.
It hit him in the chest and splattered over his black jacket.
For a second, Puck sat there looking confused. But the next moment, he recovered. "Dude! Wha'd you do -"
The look of indignation on Puck's face sent a thrill of excitement through Kurt. He'd finally, finally gotten through to his boyfriend. Before Puck could say anything else, Kurt sent the other angry snowball flying his way. The physical release of anger felt amazing, and Kurt wanted more of it.
When the second snowball struck Puck on the shoulder, Kurt smirked in wicked satisfaction.
It was a look that Puck did notfail to notice.
"Huh." Puck eyed Kurt as if he was appraising him. "So that's how you want it…" He was half-whispering to himself, but Kurt heard him loud and clear. And if he hadn't, the way Puck was reaching purposely into the snow would have filled him in instantly.
"Wait, I…" Watching Puck form a snowball of his own, Kurt felt his anger quickly become dread. He hadn't thought of Puck fighting back. Puck, after all, was supposed to be explaining and apologizing. Not retaliating. "Noah, I…" But before Kurt could say anything else, a large snowball collided with the side of his head. Kurt sat there shocked and frozen in confusion.
Puck smirked just as Kurt had before. "That oughta cool you off." As Puck laughed, a large gob of snow dripped out of Kurt's hair and slid down the back of his neck. It melted instantly, leaving him colder than before. "Well, is that all you got?"
Still smiling deviously, Puck was already readying another soon-to-be-flying-projectile. With another chunk of snow sliding down his neck, Kurt made a decision:
He wasn't about to do down without a fight.
Eyes glued on Puck's hands and the mound of snow he was gathering, Kurt quickly began to make his own. It was much smaller than Puck's and not nearly as well shaped, but time was of the essence. And before Puck could set loose with his ammunition, Kurt sent his own flying.
Just like before, the snowy projectile struck Puck on the shoulder. But rather than acknowledge the affront, Puck continued to work furiously on his (still growing) snowball. Now though, it seemed to be with a renewed sense of vigor and purpose that terrified Kurt.
Pressing his freezing hands back into the snow, Kurt tried to scoot backwards, away from Puck. In retrospect, Kurt realized that it would have made more sense to get up and run. But at the time, all of his focus was on the boulder Puck was putting his finishing touches on.
His eyes still glued on Puck, Kurt had managed to scoot back two feet when Puck hefted up his snowball and sent it flying. Kurt had just enough time to turn sideways before it made contact with his shoulder and back. He squeezed his eyes tightly shut, expecting a burst of pain that never came. Instead, the monster ball exploded against him, sending smaller, misshapen globs of snow to falling around him.
Kurt's first thought was to snatch them up and send them flying back at Puck. But before he could, something much larger and much harder collided with him, effectively tackling him.
Totally shocked, Kurt gasped as Puck pushed him back into the snow and straddled his waist. And before Kurt could fight back, Puck was dropping a deluge of loose, powdery snow on Kurt's exposed face.
The flakes drifted down on Kurt's freezing face, just like it was falling from the sky again. As they tickled his cheeks and nose, Kurt desperately tried to come up with a way to fight back or a way to get free. But all Kurt could think about was how coldhe was.
It was as a shiver racked through Kurt's body that he came up with a new plan of attack….
The snowflakes still fluttering down from Puck's hands, Kurt acted. With reflexes a cat would be jealous of, Kurt reached out and stuck his icy hands under Puck's jacket and sweater, making contact with his warm skin.
Puck gasped at the sudden cold on his waist and scrambled off of Kurt. Finally free of Puck's weight and the anger that had filled him, Kurt giggled breathlessly. He'd been so angry before, so worried and hurt. And now Kurt almost felt… drained - drained of all that emotion and stress, like it just didn't matter now. It was almost impossible for him to believe, but the impromptu snowball fight had sapped him of all his anger. Now he was just relieved that Puck was ok.
Still laughing, Kurt grabbed a handful of loose snow and tossed it at Puck. Kurt was just about to sit up and get out of the snow when Puck laid down on top of him, pinning him down. Once again crushed between Puck and the frozen ground, Kurt tried to squirm away.
Puck, however, wouldn't let him move.
Instead, Puck held him still and pressed his freezing cold lips and nose into Kurt's cheeks. He alternated between small kisses and rubbing his nose over Kurt's exposed skin.
At first, Puck's touches were like frozen brushes, but the more the two touched, the warmer Puck's lips and nose became. Kurt, laughing breathlessly, managed to wriggle his arms out from under his boyfriend. The next time Puck went to kiss Kurt, Kurt wrapped them around Puck's neck and captured his lips in a real kiss.
It was sweet and soft, nothing more than the brushing of lips together in perfect harmony. But it was filled with love and trust, comfort and contentment. And most of all…
After a moment that felt like a lifetime, Puck pulled back a little bit. Adjusting himself, Puck freed one of his hands. Kurt could easily have taken the opportunity to wriggle out from under Puck, but he didn't. Instead, he stayed put, his arms still around his boyfriend. Kurt was still cold, but now, all of a sudden, that didn't seem to matter.
"Noah…." Kurt pressed his lips together as Puck clumsily brushed a hair out of Kurt's face. "What really happened today?" His voice was lacking all of the anger from before. Now, he was as quiet as the falling snow.
Puck looked down at him and sighed in resignation. "Well," he pulled his hand back and reached into his pocket. Kurt watched him, waiting with anxious curiosity. "I wasn't going to do this until later, but…." He pulled a small black box out of his pocket and placed it on Kurt's chest.
At the sight of if, Kurt's eyes went wide, and he felt his breath hitch. It looked like… like a jewelry box.
Kurt felt his heart begin to thud in his chest as he slid his arms away from Puck's neck. And as he placed his hands on the box, he felt a million thoughts race through his mind….
They hadn't been together that long.
They hadn't discussed what they wanted in life.
And worst of all, they didn't even live in the same state, let alone city.
Eleven months ago they'd both come home to Lima. McKinley High was dedicating a new orchestra pit in the April Rhodes Civic Pavilion, and Schu had invited back all of the original members of New Directions to do a special performance.
Most of the group had made it, but sadly, a few hadn't, which had left a very obvious hole in their get together. It was almost like there were glowing spots that pointed out the missing members. It had been oddly nice to see everyone. And Kurt, who'd always thought he'd hate school reunions, had gotten caught up in the excitement. The group had shared one rehearsal, voting instantly on "Don't Stop" as the song they'd perform. Then, after pulling up a video of it from Sectionals on YouTube, the choreography had come flooding back.
The next night, after an excellent performance, the group had gone out for dinner at BreadstiX. Somehow, in the midst of pasta, breadsticks, and laughter, Kurt and Puck had connected in a way they never had before.
Long story short… they'd been together ever since.
And somehow, despite Kurt's living in New York and Puck's living in Boston, they'd made it work. Over the months they'd taken turns traveling back and forth, stealing weekends together and sharing long phone calls that went on into the wee hours of the morning.
Until recently, that had been enough. But the distance between them had suddenly become too much. So, on Puck's last trip to New York they'd started looking at apartments. They'd toured a couple of dumps, but there had been one place that they'd both loved. It was small, with brick walls and a tiny, claw-footed bathtub.
Without taking time to discuss rent or the logistics of moving in together, they'd put in an offer.
That had been two weeks ago, and they still hadn't heard back from the realtor. And though it broke Kurt's heart to admit it, he was sure that they'd lost it.
Thinking of what he'd decided was the perfect place for them to call home together, Kurt ran his hands over the small velvet box. If it was what he thought it was, Kurt didn't know what he'd do. He might have been ready to live with a boyfriend, but he wasn't ready to marry one. "Noah, I…."
"Just open it." Puck looked down at him with shining, expectant eyes. Eyes that Kurt couldn't refuse.
"I, umh…." Kurt pressed his lips together as he tried to push down his fears. But as Puck continued to stare at him, he realized that he couldn't put it off any longer. After taking a deep breath, Kurt opened the small box. Its hinges squeaked ominously. The sound ripped through the silent night and made Kurt shiver involuntarily.
When the box finally snapped open, Kurt found that he was holding his breath. Forcing himself to exhale, Kurt summoned up the nerve to look inside the box. What he found there totally surprised him.
Instead of finding an engagement ring shining up at him, Kurt saw…
"A key?" Totally confused, Kurt picked up the small object. "I don't get…." His voice trailed off as he considered what it meant. He'd been so worried about the box containing an engagement ring that the obvious answer didn't come to mine.
Puck was still staring down at him, barely contained excitement all over his face. He looked like he was about to burst. "We got it."
Kurt, however, still didn't get what it was. "I still don't under-"
"We got the apartment." Puck's face split into an even wider (if that was possible) smile.
"We… We got it?" The small key in Kurt's hand seemed to take on a new weight. "The one with the exposed brick walls?" He stared at Puck, scarcely able to believe it.
"Yep." Puck nodded smugly. "The realtor called me this afternoon. She needed me to sign a bunch of stuff, and it all had to be done today. So I've been at Kinko's all day faxing tons of forms and stuff back and forth. I mean… the realtor said she wasn't supposed to do it like that. But that she liked us, so you can sign the forms yourself as soon as you get back to New York." He managed to look apologetic for all of two seconds. "I wanted to surprise you."
Kurt clasped the key to his chest and he smiled at Puck. "When do we move in?" Kurt's mind was off and running, mentally decorating theirnew home. As far as he was concerned, the move couldn't come fast enough. "Well?"
Puck looked like he wanted to draw the moment out, but he didn't. "January first."
"Noah!" Kurt's exclamation rang through the night. Filled with excitement, Kurt could barely believe he'd been so upset earlier.
"I know." Puck kissed the key and Kurt's fingers.
Unable to say anything else, Kurt pressed his palm against Puck's cheek, the key caught between them. There was so much he wanted to say, but nothing would come.
Inside the house, Burt, Finn, and Nina were tearing hungrily into homemade mashed potatoes and gravy, turkey, and green bean casserole. Carol, however, was standing in the kitchen and looking out the patio window at the scene in the snow. A small smile spread across her face as she thought to herself, "Noah Puckerman always comes through when it matters."
Squeeka Cuomo's Notes
- This fic was written for "puckurt"'s Chrismukkah Fest.
- Happy Holidays, greenglowsgold! I tried to include as much as I could from your list of wants and likes. I really hope you like it. :D
- Quack: Thank you for always being an amazing beta and friend.
- Reviews are love.