(Author's note: After a whole year of enjoying his comments on stories, amy invited GleekShip to collaborate on a Puckurt story. It's taken us exactly one month to make it this far, and we hope you enjoy our first effort. There will be more, when we have time to complete it. Warnings for excessive angst and suicidal thoughts, and some mild dubcon among friends. -amy and GleekShip)

Out of Tune

Author: GleekShip, Nubianamy

Spoilers: Season 1, part of Season 2

Summary: No one knows the real Kurt, but maybe there's a chance for someone to know.

Pairings: Kurt/Puck

Out of Tune

No one knows the real Kurt, but maybe there's a chance for someone to know. Puck/Kurt.

Finn's head appears around the edge of the refrigerator. "So, are you going to do it?"

Kurt scowls at him as he grabs the container of orange juice. He's still not used to having Finn there in his house every morning. "Do what?"

"Have the slumber party."

Kurt rolls his eyes. "God, not you, too? I think Mr. Schue must have been smoking something rare the day he suggested that."

"No, come on, man. He's right." Finn's eyes cast an appeal as he reaches around Kurt to grab the quart of milk. "It'd be a good team building activity. You don't want to go to Rachel's instead, do you?"

He shudders. "No. Definitely not sitting through a whole night of enforced bonding with Rachel in charge."

Finn pours an enormous bowl of cereal, grinning expectantly. "Great. So I can invite everybody?"

"Whatever." Kurt makes a dismissive gesture. "Knock yourself out. No food on my bed; nobody messes with my moisturizers. And no alcohol."

"No problem." Finn is already halfway through his cereal; Kurt can't imagine what it would be like to have to fuel a body that large. He watches Finn pull his phone out of his pocket and fire off texts to his friends with a sense of futility.

This is going to be awful, he thinks, but trying to stop it would be way too much work. Better just to go along with it.

Mercedes and Tina are far too excited by the idea. He watches them chatter about what they're going to wear and bring with mild distaste.

"It's not going to be fun," says Kurt. "It's going to be awful. Since when is lack of sleep, poor nutrition and listening to a bunch of Neanderthal teenagers tell fart jokes a pleasure?" He sighs. "Can't it just be the three of us and Rent and makeovers?"

"Mr. Schue said we need to learn to depend on one another," Tina says with a sympathetic smile. "All of us. I don't know, Kurt. He might be right."

Kurt can't deal with the idea that Mr. Schue might be right about something like this, so he just scowls and ignores them.

ooo

Carole and his dad seem happy enough to have everyone over. His dad even hands him two twenties and smiles at Finn, saying, "Get yourselves some pizzas, okay?"

Kurt tries to make himself scarce while Finn waits by the door for the first partygoers to arrive. Everything's so easy for him, Kurt thinks, trying not to let his envy show on his face. Even losing his position as quarterback didn't really faze him. He's always so confident. I could never be like that.

Rachel helps Artie through the door, smiling at Finn. Kurt eyes them as Finn and Sam awkwardly carry Artie's chair down the staircase. Rachel's even more confident than Finn. And Artie's got it the hardest of all of us, but he never seems to have a problem dealing with his situation. Why do I have such a hard time fitting in? It's like there's something about me that's broken.

"Thanks for having us over, Kurt," says Tina, the next through the door. She hugs him, but quickly loses herself again in Mike's lovestruck gaze. Kurt watches as they descend, holding hands, and struggles to contain his jealousy. What kind of cards were they dealt that let them be so happy?

Brittany and Santana don't even bother to pretend to be interested in Kurt when they arrive. In a way, he appreciates their honesty. He gives Mercedes a hug, though, admiring her new handbag. She's a minority in this town, but she still doesn't get bullied like I do, he thinks.

He gives Quinn a barely cordial smile as she edges past him down the stairs, Puck following her with two six-packs in his hands. Of course, he thinks grimly, sighing to himself. The perfect girls always get the hottest guys.

"I said no alcohol, Noah," he says severely. Puck just shrugs.

"So don't drink it. Free country and all that." He gives Kurt an easy grin, and Kurt finds himself feeling inexplicably calmed.

"Well, at least don't let my dad see the empty cans," He mutters. "He'd send everybody home in a heartbeat."

"No problem. I can take the heat."

Kurt tries to keep his eyes off Puck's rear end as he follows him down the stairs to the basement. It isn't like he never thinks about him, but mostly he's trying to avoid him, avoid being noticed. Puck is... dangerous. Kurt knows he can't deal with dangerous.

He gazes around the room at the eleven other students, sitting in a loose circle on the floor. He's been singing with them for over a year, and they're still all strangers.

"Truth or dare!" Santana shouts out, holding up a can of beer. "Let's get this party started."

Kurt just rolls his eyes and sits back. Even though he thought they'd be hesitant, everyone is quickly on board, ready to have a good time. Even Rachel - but that's only because Finn opened a can of beer and put it in her hand. Puck apparently brought a second case, offering them out once the first was depleted.

Kurt quickly declines when Puck offers him one. He shrugs and tosses the box down before taking the only available spot in the circle, next to Kurt.

"You first," Puck nods to Santana. Her eyes narrow.

"All right, Puckerman... truth or dare?"

Puck scoffs. "Dare, of course."

Santana smirks. "Lick my . . . shoe."

Puck's face turns to disgust. "Seriously. How many random bedroom floors has that shoe touched?"

"So many more than you can count." She slides her shoe off and holds it out for Puck to take. "Come on. Unless you're too afraid."

"Give me that." Puck snatches the shoe from her, brandishing it in front of himself as everyone else shares a look of amusement and disgust.

Puck seems to shove his pride far down as throat as he holds the heel of the shoe near his lips. He looks around. Seeing that he's become the center of attention, he makes the most of it and lets his tongue trace a seductive path down the back of the leather. A mixture of groans and laughter fill their ears.

"All right, Satan," Puck sneers as he tosses her shoe back. "It's your turn. Truth or dare?"

"Bring on the dare," Santana says, making a lewd gesture. "Who or what are you going to make me kiss?"

"Kiss . . ." Puck goes quiet to think before he grins wide. "... the hottest guy here." He smirks and puckers his own lips for emphasis.

Santana's face goes blank for a brief moment. Kurt could almost swear she's angry, her eyes flickering around the room. Then she relaxes into a satisfied smile, moving toward Puck on her hands and knees. She draws nearer, her nose almost touching Puck's - before swiveling around to face Kurt, pressing their lips together.

The whole room bursts into gasps and catcalls as Kurt freezes, unable to respond. Santana releases him, smirking at his expression. Kurt's mouth stays in that position, not moving, just letting his eyes dart around. All of the girls are in fits of giggles while the boys look on with disbelief.

"The hell, San!" Puck all but yells. "I said hottest, not-" He looks to Kurt and gives the boy a half-nod. "No offense, dude, but... San?"

Santana just smirks. "I did pick the hottest guy. You may have the best guns, but Kurt wins at everything else. Plus, if you saw him in the changing room? Let me just say, while we were in the Cheerios.." Santana breaks off with a dirty chuckle.

That snaps Kurt out of his daze. "Don't Santana. Just... don't."

Santana smirks and slowly retreats to her seat. "Think it's your turn, Hummel," she purrs.

"D-dare," he blurts, and immediately regrets it.

"I've heard the legend of the Beyoncé dance that you did with Brittany and Tina," Mike says thoughtfully. "How about you show us?" There's a loud clamor of approval at this idea.

"Seriously, girls," Kurt groans as Brittany and Tina grab his arms to pull him up. "I'm not going to do that dance."

"You have to, Kurtie," Brittany announces in a sing-song voice. "It's the rules. You have to do your dare, or you lose."

"Damn you, Mr. Schue," he mutters under his breath.

Kurt realizes he's been feeling nervous about this whole sleepover since the beginning. It isn't as if he doesn't love everyone in the Glee club. He just thinks spending roughly twelve hours with the same people, with only a two hour break after school, sounds more like torture than fun. He doesn't want to be around them, with the way his life had been going. Not like this. Not now.

Brittany adjusts his position so he's between her and Tina. She points to Santana. Santana holds up her phone and presses play, and the familiar beat of Single Ladies begins. Kurt can feel his body going through the motions, almost on instinct, but he knows he's not really there. He puts on the movements, the lip-synching, the flashy and overdone smile - and they're all fake. None of it is anything that he really feels or wants.

Kurt glances around the room as his body moves to memory. The girls seem to be enjoying the show, while the boys only have eyes for Tina and Brittany, watching them contort and twist. He sighs internally as he hides behind his mask. Even the girls don't want to look at me, he thinks. I'm not attractive enough to attract any gender.

Once they hit their final pose, Kurt's bedroom is flooded with applause, but it just washes over him like so much stale, humid air. He has no appreciation for it, just as he no longer has appreciation for anything else in life. Kurt lets his breath out through his pasted-on smile and makes his way back to his space in the circle.

He's about to sit down when he's yanked back up. For the second time that night, someone's lips are pressed to his, and once again, they belong to a girl. There's a chorus of ooohs.

"Brittany." Kurt pulls back, frowning. "What do you think you're doing?"

"Well, San got to kiss you." Brittany smiles. "And I haven't got to kiss you in forever. I missed you."

Kurt sighs and rolls his eyes. "You can't just go around kissing people, Brit. Especially me."

"Why not you?" Santana cuts in. "You're a heck of a kisser, even if you weren't really kissing back. Just imagine what it'd be like if you did." She shivers in drunken anticipation.

Kurt just shakes his head. "No . . . no." He sits back down, flinching away from the curious gaze of the rest of the crowd. "Not kissing anybody else. I mean, hello - gay, right?"

"It's just for fun." Tina puts a placating hand on his arm. "Nobody's going to make you do anything you don't want to do."

Mercedes grins at Tina conspiratorially. "I've wanted to before."

"But - but -" Kurt shuts his mouth, looking wildly over at Mike, who shrugs uneasily. Dang it, Kurt. Talk them out of it. "You have boyfriends!"

"They're busy," Tina says with a smile. He feels the rest of the girls lean in, surrounding him like a pack of wolves. "Or they won't care. After all, it is part of the game."

"It is not." Kurt stresses. "Kissing me is not the game."

Quinn smirks. "Oh, yeah? I dare you to kiss all of the girls in this room. A real kiss."

Kurt's jaw drops. "What?"

"Didn't he just do a dare?" Artie asks, looking confused.

"There's no rule that says he can't do another one." She sniffs, crossing her arms. "He's just afraid."

"It's up to you, Kurt." Tina is still all smiles. "But you know that Santana and Brittany won't stop pressuring you."

"She's right Kurt." Mercedes adds in. "And Tina and I are just here, you know, in case you want to kiss us. We won't object."

"Not at all." Tina adds with a smile.

Kurt groans and frowns, but Puck just shrugs.

"Well, if it's all the action that you'll get in Lima, I say go for it."

"But I'm gay," Kurt stresses. "Don't you get that means I don't want any action from any girls?"

"Dude." Finn jumps in the heated argument, one of the remaining few left able to comment from within their drunken haze. "Don't make him do something he doesn't want to do. This is Kurt, after all. You know it'd make him uncomfortable."

Kurt turns his heated glare on the boy. Part of him knows Finn is just trying to be helpful, but all Kurt wants to do is tell him to disappear.

"Well, if Kurt doesn't want in, then I'm game, ladies. I've still yet to make out with Tina. You in, babe?" Puck throws his best smirk at the girl.

"No way, dude," Mike protests. "She's my girlfriend."

Puck scoffs. "You'll let her kiss the gay guy, but not me?"

"Thank you." Kurt throws his hands up. "That's what I've been wondering."

"Well, Kurt won't get any satisfaction out of it." Mike explains. "Plus, there's no chance that any of the girls could choose him over us."

"What he said." Santana smiles. "That's actually a good explanation. I like that one."

"Hey, thanks," Mike says, buffing his nails on his shirt.

"You see, Kurt?" Santana returns her focus to him. "You might as well just kiss us and we'll stop bothering you. We'll move onto Berry-"

"Hey!"

"-and we'll let you help us torture her." Santana suggest with a smile. "So what do you say, Hummel? Are you gonna get your mack on?"

I hate you. I hate you. I hate you. So much. Kurt glowers at her, at everyone. "Fine. Fine. What . . . what all do I have to do?"

"Just kiss back." She worms her way across the close circle of bodies until she's flush against Kurt, practically sitting in his lap. "You don't have to touch us anywhere else, but we can touch you if we want. Only above the waist," she quickly adds when Kurt attempts to protest. "And it has to be for at least ten seconds." She leans closer until her lips are a mere inch from Kurt's. "Does that... work for you?"

Kurt gulps, eyes flickering around the circle, not wanting to move his body from its position. All of the girls are watching with eager and drunken eyes. Half the guys are watching, while the other half just keep drinking and talking to each other. Kurt glances left and spots Puck looking at him. The boy has his eyes on Kurt and Santana's lips, waiting for the dare to commence.

Kurt sighs before looking back up into Santana's glittering eyes. "Why are you making me do this?" he whispers.

"Because," Santana mutters, just before pressing her lips against Kurt's. "No matter how gay you are, I know I can make you like it."

Kurt reluctantly allows the kiss. She reaches up and threads one hand through his hair while his hands remain on the ground. Several times, Santana lets her tongue lash out, desperately wanting for Kurt to open his mouth, but he denies her each time. Kurt's eyes widen, but he lets Santana move to straddle his lap, all too aware of the catcalls that he's getting.

As soon as Kurt's mental clock reaches the ten second mark in his head, he turns his head away from Santana, breaking the connection. Suddenly he feels Santana's breath, heavy in his ear. He can feel a wet spot against his thigh, right where Santana's crotch is pressed.

"Damn, Hummel." Santana lets out a soft moan as she pulls back, trembling slightly.

"Even without tongue - damn."

"Um..." Kurt glances around, unsure of what to do with the compliment. He can see that Brittany and Quinn are the most into the quick make-out session. Although Tina and Mercedes had definitely suggested that they wanted to kiss Kurt, at the moment they're both leaning on each other with glazed looks, the alcohol clearly taking its toll. The only boys that look at all interested are Puck and Artie. Kurt suspects it's because Artie is currently single, and seeing girl make-out with anyone is good enough to keep him going for a while.

Puck's eyes are fixed on their lips, which is surprising to Kurt. He figured he'd have all his attention on Santana's heaving breasts as her arousal subsides.

"Thanks." Kurt mutters softly as he looks back to Santana. "Can you get off of me now?" He glances down at the wet spot that's quickly drying on his pant leg.

Santana nods and smirks as she slides off of the slender boys lap, a finger running across her wet red lips. "Sure, Hummel, but trust me, this won't be the last time I get a piece of you. I'm very interested in what else you can do with those lips."

Kurt shakes his head and gives her a look of disgust. "Never again."

Santana smirks before looking down. She carefully lifts up her cheerio skirt and reveals her stained red panties underneath. She looks back up at Kurt. "Definitely again."

Kurt has to look away, disgusted by the sight, and meets Puck's dark eyes, directed at him. Wow, he's not looking at Santana and how she's flashing the world. Must be the alcohol.

Kurt looks away from Puck and back to Santana. "So . . . who's next?"

ooo

The round of Truth or Dare finally moves on to the rest of Glee, and Kurt finally gets a break from being in the spotlight for a while. Eventually the group's energy begins to ebb.

"Let's be serious for a second, guys," Quinn suggests, her voice only slightly slurred compared to Santana's. "Just for a second." She looks around defensively as she receives a few glares. "Come on. You can't tell me that there's nothing you really don't want to know about anyone here."

"I have something." Everyone is surprised at how small Santana's voice sounds. The normally loud drunk has apparently entered the depressed stage as she looks up at Kurt. "Hummel . . . if there was a pill that would make you straight, exclusively straight . . . would you take it?"

Kurt feels his heart race as he struggles to maintain his mask. I can't let it slip. I can't. I won't. I-

"And be honest, Kurt." Santana's voice cuts through his thoughts so easily.

I'm slipping. Kurt sighs and bites his lip. Every nervous twitch of that night is threatening to come loose, so he goes with the truth, the easiest to control. "Yes." He keeps his head down as he hears the gasps escape the many mouths of the room. He nods to himself and pushes forward. "It would just be so goddamn easy. To be straight . . . to be free. I wouldn't have to deal with all of this crap that life keeps throwing at me. I wouldn't have to deal with the bullying, or the exclusion." Kurt's voice goes quiet as he pulls his knees up to his chest and lets his head fall onto them. "I wouldn't have to feel all alone, like my life is in sh-shambles." His voice breaks as he just lets his fears and insecurities flow through his honest words. "I just want to be normal, and to not seem like some . . . some freak." He lets out a shaky breath as he looks up.

Everyone is staring at Kurt, many of them shocked. He suppresses the panic that threatens to overtake him, realizing how vulnerable he's let himself become. He looks around and sees Puck first. He grabs the can of beer from the tan hand and quickly takes a chug; anything to distract himself from all the eyes fixed on him.

He smiles bravely. "So . . . who's next?"

He doesn't hear the next question. His ears are too busy dealing with the pounding of his heart, the adrenaline flowing through his veins uncontrollably. He risks a glance up again and finds that almost everyone has continued on, the alcohol in their systems preventing them from keeping a coherent thought for too long.

All but one. Puck is still watching him, silent and a little perplexed, gazing at Kurt over his beer can. Kurt barely meets his eyes before flicking them back to to the edge of the can in front of his eyes. He forces a smile for his one-man audience and takes a sip. Control yourself Kurt. You can't let anyone see you slip more.

"I'm surprised to hear you say that, Kurt," Rachel says, leaning back against Finn's arm. "I would have expected more from you. My dads are proud to be who they are, and you should be, too."

"Relax, Berry." Puck speaks before Kurt can. "Your dads probably didn't come out until they were adults. Kurt's got a while before he grows up. He still has time to prove that he's better than your dads."

"I'm plenty grown up, thank you," Kurt snaps, his anger almost boiling over as he rises to his feet and making a beeline for the bathroom.

He closes the door behind him, feeling his heart racing. He just needed to get some distance between him and all the people there. Watching him, expecting things from him. He rests one shaking hand on the sink, trying to steady himself.

"Get a grip," he whispers, glaring at himself in the mirror. "Why do you have to be such a loser?"

He opens the medicine cabinet, almost idly taking the bottle of pills from the shelf, contemplating it for several long moments. He could imagine exactly what would happen - the rest of the crowd knocking on the door, eventually having to break it down to get in and find him, slumped unconscious against the tub. Would they even care? Probably not, he thinks, closing his eyes and taking a long, deep breath before replacing the bottle of pills.

The loud knock on the door jars him out of his reverie. "Pizza's here," Finn calls. "Where'd your dad put the money?"

Kurt closes the medicine cabinet and runs water in the sink, trying to make it sound like he's doing something reasonably ordinary in a bathroom without completely embarrassing himself. "It's on my nightstand," he calls back.

He splashes water onto his face, chanting under his breath, Get a grip. Get it together. But he stays there, sitting alone on the edge of the toilet, for another fifteen minutes before he feels ready to return to the tumult of the slumber party.

ooo

Kurt gazes out the kitchen window into the rainy night. For once, the house isn't warm enough to make the window fog over. The only sound he can hear is the timer on the microwave, and the last few kernels of the popcorn exploding in the bag. The party downstairs is settling down to something more sedate now that they're all focused on watching a movie.

Jesus, Kurt. He closes his eyes, shaking his head. You can't let that happen again. Noah was coherent enough to know something else was wrong. It appears he's learned how to hold his liquor.

Kurt jumps and almost falls off the counter when the microwave goes off. He shifts so his legs are dangling off the edge, retrieving the bag of popcorn just as he hears someone approaching. He looks up, then quickly away again when he sees who appears in the door to the kitchen.

"So you think you're a freak, huh?" Puck is the first to speak.

Kurt locks his jaw. "No."

"Because that's what you said, down-"

"It was the alcohol talking," Kurt growls. "Nothing more. Don't let your head get wrapped up in nothing." He jumps off the counter and goes to leave, but Puck blocks his exit.

"You hadn't had any beer when you said that, Kurt." Puck's voice is soft. "You were as sober as a nun."

"Nuns are known to drink on occasion," Kurt is quick to say.

Puck chuckles, holding up his hands in defeat. "Fine. I'm not going to push you to talk, but you really should know that you're not the only freak at McKinley. You have an entire basement full."

Kurt tries not to think about all the people downstairs waiting for him to return. "I guess that's just it. I don't really want to be a freak."

"You don't get to choose how you were born, Kurt." Puck's voice is soft again. "You just choose if you want to ignore it or not."

He grits his teeth. "I can't ignore it. It's my whole life, all the time. You have no idea what I deal with every day -"

"I don't know how it is to be gay, Kurt, but I do know how to be different. You think it's easy with everyone thinking that I'm just a Lima loser, or a manwhore like my dad?" Puck's voice goes from soft to hard. "Life is full of people judging you, Kurt. No matter where you look. Everyone has their problems . . . but only a few people can actually fix them."

Kurt can't meet Puck's eyes. He's just this side of crying as it is. He just focuses on Puck's knees and tries to keep it together. "Yeah. I'm pretty sure I'm not one of those people. All I can do is get to the next moment, the next day. And even that feels impossible sometimes."

"You really think so?" Puck's voice is full of disbelief. "What happened to the boy that would yell at us when we were tossing you into dumpsters? What happened to the boy who wore a corset to school? Dude, you even wore that dress for the Lady Gaga assignment." Puck chuckles. "You've been going day by day so far. I . . . I just don't see how you don't think you're strong enough to go further than just a moment or day. Out of all of us . . . you are one of the very few that will ever do anything in life that you can be proud of."

"Proud of what?" Kurt's voice comes out broken and bitter. "I don't see anything to be proud of here."

"That's because you don't want to, Kurt." Puck lets out a shaky breath. "Sometimes you seem like this . . . this high and mighty person that is on such a high pedestal. But then there are other times, where you just let people walk all over you. It seems like if there's ever a moment of doubt in your life, you let in every single lie and piece of filth that everyone says about you into your head. You're letting them control you." Puck takes in a deep breath and shuts his eyes. "Don't you think that you should be controlling yourself?" He doesn't open his eyes until he hears Kurt speak.

"What do you think I've been trying to do, Noah?" Kurt's voice is weak. "I do try and control myself. I try so hard and nothing ever changes. I don't even get a chance to change. I don't . . . I don't have a chance to change. Not here, at least." His voice trails off.

"That's because you've lost some of your strength because you care what people think of you." Puck's low voice carries through the kitchen. "You've lost your Kurtness."

Kurt had to smile. "You think I should stop caring what other people think of me? I'm not sure I know how to do that."

"Dude . . . you really don't need to care what they think. Just do what you want. It's what I do." Puck grins back. "And I don't regret most of the things that I do."

Kurt shakes his head. "I live my whole life feeling regret. I think you're the strong one."

"Physically, yes. Mentally, yes. But emotionally - dude." Puck's chuckle is low and rueful. "You know I can't control my emotions. Things usually end up either screwed or broken when my feelings are involved."

Kurt blinks away the tears that threaten to fall, smiling. "Yes, you get angry and throw things. I just tend to punish myself."

"Maybe we both need a better outlet," Puck suggests. "Something a little easier on each of us."

Kurt purses his lips and holds back another smile. "Well, I guess we'll have to work on that."

ooo

Kurt descends the staircase with popcorn at hand, all too aware of the pair of eyes on him. He hears Puck shut the basement door with a loud thud before they're surrounded in darkness. The only source of light comes from Kurt's flatscreen, down in his room.

When they return downstairs, the girls are engrossed in Fight Club, while most of the guys are clustered around Artie's Nintendo DS. Puck rolls his eyes.

"I thought this was a bonding thing," Puck comments.

Kurt can't help but smile, glancing between the divided groups. Once again, life proves that no one changes. Kurt makes his way to the couch and drops the bowl of popcorn into Tina's lap.

"Are you sober yet?" Kurt asks as he sits on the arm of the couch, looking down at the now calm Asian girl. "Or do you need more water?"

"I'm fine." Tina digs her hand into the bowl in her lap. "Just a bit tired."

"Well, we can go to sleep at any time." Kurt wraps his arm over the top of the couch to keep himself propped up.

"No." Quinn leans across Mercedes to grab some popcorn. "The whole point of this excursion of Mr. Schue's is that we bond for as long as possible. That means we have to stay up and enjoy the nice thick pieces of meat that Hollywood gave us."

All right, she's still a little bit drunk. The guys on the screen are only of limited interest to Kurt. When he dreams of romance, it's not at the hand of Neanderthals like those - or, if it is, he's never going to admit it. He lets out a long sigh and takes a handful of popcorn from the bowl in Tina's lap.

He's arrested by another hand, reaching in to take a handful at nearly the same time: it's Puck, reaching over Tina's shoulder. Their hands collide under the surface of the popcorn, and Kurt nearly makes a noise of protest at the buttery-slippery feel of Puck's fingers twining through his. He thinks he imagines Puck giving his hand a squeeze before letting go and taking the popcorn instead.

Kurt returns his oily hand back to his lap, careful to hover the hand above his jeans. He keeps his eyes fixed on some point of the screen, not even seeing what he was watching. His mind was still on that sque - no, the possible squeeze. He carefully slides his arm off of the top of the couch and uses that hand to pick up a few pieces of popcorn and tossing them into his mouth. Suddenly, behind him, he can hear Puck moving along the couch before his head comes down between Kurt and Tina.

"I am so hotter than any of those guys," Puck mutters.

The drunken slumber of the girls is still apparently alive because normally they would just let this comment go, but not now. Quinn leads a round of scoffs and snorts that come from every girl except for Brittany.

"s'truth," Brittany slurs, and grins at Puck, who grins back.

"Yeah. And I'm way dirtier. I'd do things - have done things - that those guys never even dreamed of." Everyone can smell the confidence running off Puck.

"Oh shut up, Puck." The alcohol is apparently still fueling Quinn's anger from the previous year. "The only thing you have done that no one else will are the disgusting cougars of Lima. They love them some Lima Loser."

Kurt risks a glance up and watches a muscle twitch in his smile, now forced. Puck notices his small movement and stares back at Kurt, looking him up and down before the muscle in his lip twitches up. Kurt can't help but smile back as Puck looks away.

"Well, those cougars love a guy with experience, babe. It's because I can do all these dirty raunchy things." He moves along the couch, past Tina, and leans down by Quinn. "And you loved all of my moves."

"Your so called moves got me pregnant with a bastard child," Quinn hisses.

Kurt looks at Puck, his eyes wide. The boy's jaw is tense, but he clearly isn't going to give in.

"Then why'd you get with me? You must have wanted some of this." Puck gives her a snide chuckle as he leans back from the couch. "You girls just don't want to admit you've got needs, just like us dudes."

"Knock it off Puck." Mercedes cuts him off. "This isn't the time for that."

"I'm just saying that I'm so hot," Puck smirks as he returns to his spot between Tina and Kurt. "Totally bangable and s-m-o-kin. And Aretha, I bet you'd like to f-u-"

"Puck!" This time it's Rachel that interrupts. "Just stop. You're being really cruel and-"

"Sexy. Desirable." Puck suggests as he turns his smirk on her.

"Dead meat," Mercedes chimes in as she turns from her spot on the floor. "That is, if you don't shut your face. It's talking too much."

If Puck feels any of the girls' sharp retorts, he hides it well. He circles the couch and stops by the arm of the couch that Kurt's leaning against. "I'm just saying that I'm the hottest piece of body in this . . . house. And the entire town."

"That is it." Santana jumps up from Quinn's side, a little unstable on her feet. "You're not any hotter than Kurt is."

Puck sneers at her. "I resent that."

"I concur." Kurt raises a finger to agree with Puck. "I am tons hotter."

"Yeah, exac - hey." Puck looks down at Kurt, grinning.

Kurt shrugs it off and looks to the girls. The only ones not fuming from Puck's slight taunting are Brittany and Tina. Santana looks livid as she takes a step towards Puck, her fists clenching and relaxing rapidly, her fingernails painfully digging into her skin. As Kurt keeps his wary eyes on the other rising girls, he can feel the tension spreading off of the boy beside him.

Without notice, Santana lunges at Puck, her balance a little off, and stumbles towards the TV. Kurt's eyes widen at the movement, but get impossibly bigger when Santana tries to keep moving towards Puck.

"Watch out for the TV," Kurt warns.

"It's fine, Kurtie," Puck pats Kurt's shoulder with a teasing smile. "I can volunteer your hot entertainment. Hell, according to Santana you can join in."

"We're warning you, Puck," Rachel all but growls.

"Ze kitties are getting angry," Brittany says sleepily before raising her closed fist into the air. "Feline Power Hour."

"That's nice, Brittany." Kurt looks up at a swaying Santana. "Do you need something more to drink?"

"I'm fine, Hummel." Santana looks like she glances at Kurt, but the glazed over look makes it hard to tell if she even looks away from Puck. "Just help me hurt him."

"I'm too hot to die," Puck boasts, posting his hands on his hips and looking to the ceiling with a sense of heroism. "Too . . . hot." He looks at Santana and snaps his teeth in her direction.

"That's it." Rachel's alcohol-fueled personality makes her stand up in a repeat of Santana, her anger directed at Puck. "You're going down, Puckerman."

Brittany giggles as she shifts sleepily on the couch. "Didn't know Rachel was into that."

Kurt snorts and brings his hand to his mouth just as Tina finally gives in to the alcohol and falls over onto him, her head landing on his shoulder. Kurt smiles down at the sleeping girl before looking up at the others, failing in their attempt to look fierce. Santana lunges forward again and suddenly, Kurt is yanked up. Two strong arms slide under his armpits and wrapping around the front of his body as he's lifted up, and Kurt's butt is abruptly on the arm of the chair and his back is pressed against a firm chest. Tina slips down, her face becoming wedged between Kurt's thigh and and the corner of the couch.

"Don't anybody move." Puck's teasing voice growls above him. "Or the boy gets it."

Kurt narrows his eyes as he looks up at a smirking Puck. Why are you touching me? No one touches me. Puck looks down at Kurt and his smile falters a little, becoming something less confrontational and more reassuring, before returning his gaze to the girls.

Quinn is already up and has joined the ranks of Santana and Rachel. "Put. The boy. Down." Quinn's voice is low, thick with beer and food, as she and the two other girls take a few daring steps forward.

"Never." Puck mimics Batman before stepping back and bodily hauling Kurt over the couch with him.

Kurt's eyes widen slightly; being held by Puck like this is a nearly overwhelming experience. He swings his feet off the edge of the couch so he can stand up properly. Puck quickly fixes his grip on the boy so he's holding him around the stomach and not the chest anymore. When Kurt turns his head, his eyes are level with Puck's nose.

You're not supposed to be touching me, he thinks again, close to panic. No one touches me. No one. Just . . . you can't touch me. Kurt's jaw locks as he looks away from Puck's amused grin. Once again, nobody's noticing that he's not having a good time.

Santana takes the lead this time. "We're not afraid of him getting hurt too. It'll be on your conscience."

"Bring i-" Puck cuts himself off as Santana lunges forward again.

Puck quickly runs to the side, pulling Kurt with him, and Santana runs into the wall. Kurt can't help but laugh at the sight of the drunk girl. He can feel Puck's shaking body laugh with him. I'm . . . I'm laughing. Actually laughing. Puck shifts his arms again on Kurt's body, one over his chest and the other wrapped around his stomach; his fingers keep twitching against Kurt's side, tickling him. It's genuine laughter. From me. Kurt giggles helplessly as Puck continues to pull him away from the girls.

"S-stand still," Santana slurs as she goes for another lunge.

Puck backs up again and ends up bumping into Finn. The drunk boy falls forward on Artie and his chair from where he had been watching the gameplay on the DS.

"Hey!" Artie yelps as his chair rolls forward and onto Mike's leg.

The Asian boy, who had been laying on the floor, stares blankly at the ceiling before pulling his leg to his chest, howling with pain. Sam is sober enough to jump onto Kurt's bed as Finn rolls off of Artie and onto the floor.

"Let him go, Puck." Rachel glares at him. "Let him go so you can suffer. You will never be the hottest guy."

Puck tightens his grip on Kurt. "You're going to have to go through Kurt to get to me."

"They aren't allowed to touch my boy," Mercedes calls out from the couch.

"Plus," Quinn adds, "Kurt's not a big like you. Now put him down."

Kurt lets out a quick sigh when Puck's arms go loose around him, but that's quickly gone when the arms tighten again. "I guess that means he's staying with me tonight. Sleep well ladies."

ooo

"You know-" Kurt's voice is strained as he tries for the twentieth time to get out of the tight arms around his waist. "I'd really rather sleep by myself."

"Nope." Puck chuckles, adjusting himself so his back is against the wall on Kurt's bed. "Not gonna happen."

"Dude." Finn butts in before Kurt can retort. "Just let him go. You're making it worse than it is."

"If having Kurt in my arms will save me from the incestuous dogs over there," Puck nods his head in the direction of said girls, "then he's staying right here."

"They were drunk." Finn argues. "It's been, what? An hour?"

"Two," Artie cuts in.

"Yeah." Finn nods. "Two hours. No one is drunk anymore."

"Well, being drunk brings out one's true feelings. And having eyes allows you to see them." Puck again nods to the girls.

In unison, all of the boys around the crowded bed look over to the girls. Tina and Brittany seem to be the only calm ones, the two happy in their little cuddle on the couch watching the credits roll on their last movie of the night. Rachel has calmed down somewhat and is now helping Mercedes finish up the food, but she's still shooting intense little glances at the boys. Santana and Quinn are still glaring at Puck, their anger persisting even after the alcohol was flushed out of their systems.

"I guess you're right," Finn says, surprised.

"He's not right," Kurt insists. "I don't want to do this."

"But think about it, Kurt," Artie jumps in. "You're saving Puck."

"And why would I want to do that?" Kurt's voice is dry.

"He's your teammate." Mike offers with a shrug. "And we're all family."

"And sometimes we have to protect the more sane members of our family from the crazies." Puck adds with chuckle before nodding to Santana and Quinn. "Exhibit A."

Kurt wasn't at all sure if he was the one being protected or the one doing the protecting, but he found himself strangely incapable of protesting any further. He sighed silently to himself and closed his eyes, feeling suddenly exhausted. "I have to shut off the lights," he tries.

"Finn can take care of that stuff." Puck doesn't even look at Finn for confirmation. Kurt can hear his light, humorous tone, but he's not laughing.

"I have to pee," Kurt says weakly, his last plea.

"Can you bring me a empty beer can, Finn?" Puck calls out.

"Sure. There you-"

"NO!" Kurt cuts Finn off before sighing loudly. "Just let me go to sleep then."

"Bonus," says Puck, and lifts him effortlessly in his arms onto Kurt's bed. "You're the host; you've got the most comfortable bed. Win-win. Well, for me."

Kurt feels oddly anxious about Puck resting his head beside him on his own pillow. Nobody's ever used that pillow but him. He shifts one leg, bumping against Puck's, and shifts it back, trying to minimize contact. He can already imagine how long this night will seem.

"Can I at least have Mercedes up here with us?" Kurt requests. "For some familiarity?"

Puck smirks. "I don't think so. I have a feeling that your bed might hold a few people tonight. It's going to get uncomfortable really fast."

"No," Kurt groans. "This isn't the kind of bonding that Schue would approve of."

Kurt's almost too close to see Puck's eyebrow-waggle. "I guess you don't know my type of bonding that well."

"I always knew you and Finn had something going on," Kurt mutters aloud.

Puck's head snaps up and glares at all of the chuckling friends, nix a frowning and confused Finn. Kurt finds himself being shifted so that now Puck's arm separates his back from the bed, the tan boy now able to look down at Kurt with his frown.

"You're not funny," Puck says with narrowed eyes.

"And you're not my ideal sleeping partner. A win-win, right?" Kurt gives him a sarcastic smile before looking to Finn. "Shut the lights off. I think this situation would be a lot easier to take if I didn't have to look at it."

Finn chuckles before standing up. Everyone quickly scrambles to get to their spots to sleep, knowing that Finn will do as Kurt says just because he knows Kurt's temper. Once the lights are out, Kurt lets himself relax into the improbable shelter of Puck's arms. Tina and Brittany climb onto the bed, Tina having to pull the sleeping Brittany, before they collapse into a sleeping pile on the edge.

Kurt wants to shut his eyes along with the light going out, but he can't do it. His head is spinning with unspoken questions. How can everyone here think that I'm comfortable with this? When was the last time I ever let anyone touch me except for a few of the girls? Why would I want a guy to touch me? Why would I want Puck to touch me, to hold me? Puck? This . . . this isn't what should be happening. This was supposed to be just a normal sleepover. I keep my smile on then go sleep in my corner. It's supposed to be that way. Not . . . not this.

Puck shifts his bicep under Kurt's head, tucking his foot between Kurt's ankles. "You cold?" His voice comes out a bit slurry, drowsy-like.

Puck's body is something like a personal furnace, and Kurt can only shake his head and hope Puck will understand. Why did this happen anyway? Puck's not one to cuddle with anyone according to Santana. Especially a guy. Puck shifts slightly again, forcing Kurt to turn on his side. Puck takes the opportunity to nestle Kurt's back close to his chest, mumbling nonsense as he does.

"Go to sleep," Puck mumbles as he leans his face into the back of Kurt's neck.

All right. Maybe Puck's still drunk. Kurt turns his head slightly and sniffs his breath. No. Not drunk. Maybe he's just sleepy and delirious. Yeah. That works. But that doesn't explain why he started this earlier.

"Just relax, du-" Puck cuts off with a yawn. "I'm not going to hurt you. And if you're not relaxed, then I won't be."

"Then let me go," Kurt mutters.

"You let go," Puck mutters back, his voice and breath suddenly closer to Kurt's ear. "Let go and trust that you'll be fine with me."

Somehow it's the last remark that makes it possible for him to close his eyes. The last thing that goes through Kurt's mind before he goes to sleep is what his dad would say if he walked into his room at this moment. The plethora of beer cans alone would get him grounded for months. As he surrenders to unconsciousness, he briefly hopes Finn will take some of the heat for the situation.

ooo

The basement room stays dark long after sunrise, so when Kurt opens his eyes, he's not sure what time it is. The rest of Glee is still asleep, a dozen quietly snoring heaps scattered on the floor around his room. His neck is sore from being elevated on Puck's arm all night. In light of the soreness, the side of his neck facing the room is nice and warm. Kurt turns his neck slightly and is met with the tan lips of one Noah Puckerman. He eyes the lips and his eyebrows furrow. They look awfully soft. He figured someone buff like Puck would have rough lips. Or at least chapped. Kurt purses his lips and shrugs internally before looking away and facing the room. Hello, weekend. Goodbye, another day with the group that doesn't know me.

Kurt stretches his limbs - and freezes, feeling something poke into his back. Logically he knows exactly what it is, but the more he thinks about it, the less sense it makes. Puck has girls coming out of his pores. He's probably having sex every day. How -? Why -?

Kurt attempts to break from Puck's loose hold, but his movement causes Puck to buck his hips and let out a soft moan. Ahh. No. No, no, no.

He scoots forward toward the edge of the bed, and nearly slides off onto the floor. One questing hand reveals the form of Mike Chang on the rug beside his bed. It would be bad form to crush his guest. He decides the only solution is to escape off the foot and pretend this never, ever happened. With utmost care, he rolls toward Puck to give himself enough leverage to sit up.

Kurt can't see much, but Puck's breathing changes enough that Kurt suspects he's woken up. He takes a determined breath. "Puck," he whispers. "You can let go now."

Puck hears his sigh. "What's wrong, dude?"

Kurt clenches his jaw. It's too early for an argument. "It's time for me to get up and start my day. I have to clean up before my dad sees this room."

"Are Santana and Quinn still here?" Puck asks with a yawn.

Kurt glances across the dark room at the spot where the two girls had been the night before. "I think so?"

"Then you're not starting anything today. They're not going to give up." Puck pulls Kurt back down against his chest. "You're my buddy for the day. Think of it as doing community service."

Kurt struggles to make sense of the situation. "But I've done nothing wrong."

"Yet," Puck clarifies. "Nothing wrong yet."

Kurt rolls his eyes before shifting in Puck's arms, onto his side. He hears Puck's breath catch and feels his body stiffen when he feels the boys rotating body drag against his morning hard-on. Kurt closes his eyes as his cheeks burn with embarrassment, thankful for the darkness.

"I have to use the bathroom," Kurt says slowly.

"Don't tell me you're freaking out about this. It's normal, dude."

"Please, let me go, Puck." Kurt tries to control his nervousness, pushing through his hesitation. "I promise I'll come back. Do you think you can . . . handle yourself for that long?"

Puck's arms release him and withdraw as Puck shifts back toward Brittany on the bed. "Dude." His voice is cold. "I'm fine."

Kurt climbs off the end of the bed with a stinging sense of regret, but it's overwhelmed by the relief at finally being independent in his skin again. He wonders how ordinary people handle all that touching.

Kurt shuts the bathroom door as quickly and as quietly as possible once in the small room. He braces himself as his fingers fumble against the wall before the light shines on. He blinks his eyes a few times before staggering over to the sink, falling forward and letting his arms catch him on the glass edge. He meets the same face in the mirror he's seen every day for the past fifteen years, which is a surprise. Somehow he was sure he'd be different, after last night.

He saw something, he thinks, touching his jaw, his neck. Something nobody sees. He touched me. Kurt still has no idea why Puck did that. His eyes drift down so examine his own face: the bags under his eyes, no treads of any smile from his face since he only smiles when needed. What did he see with this? With me? No one's ever noticed anything below my skin. Kurt looks down at his clenched hands. How come someone decides to get close to me now? To see me now? Why Puck? What's changed? What did he see? Kurt lets out a shaky breath as he pushes himself away from the sink, tired of these puzzling questions.

He manages to shed some light into the bedroom, enough to see by, and steps carefully around the sleeping bodies, picking up beer cans and emptying them into the sink. He can see Puck watching him from the bed, but he doesn't say anything, and Kurt doesn't engage him. It's time for him to get on with his ordinary life.

ooo

www. youtube watch?v=u812Gz05MGg

Wake up to sun,

cause morning does come.

If all you can rely on is the feel of your feet on the wood floor,

if all you can depend on is a movement that gives you some direction,

then..

Begin again.

You're no calendar, you're no concrete plan.

Begin again.

Don't waste your time for someone to tell you when.

Wake up to sun,

the morning still comes.

So move around your furniture,

or put it all out on the curve,

and drive away to something new.

Yeah, watch the skylight sink behind you and..

Begin again.

You're no calendar, you're no concrete plan.

Begin again.

Don't waste your time for someone to tell you when.

Begin again,

cause walking outdoors only works if you shut them.

Begin again.

And quit looking backwards, you know where you have been.

Begin again,

You're no calendar, you're no concrete plan.

Begin again.

Don't waste your time 'cause no one's gonna tell you when.

Wake up..

- Measure, "Begin Again"


I just wanted to say that I've had a blast working on this with nubianamy. A dream come true to write with her. So I hope you enjoy and leave a review for us. :)