"Kill me," Kurt whispered to Puck. "Kill me right now. I can't wear this for another second."
Puck scoffed, throwing his arm over Kurt's shoulders. "Shut up, babe. You can't let Finn hear you talk like that. He worked really hard on that sweater." “I know,” Kurt wailed quietly, watching Finn help Carole put out the last of the Christmas cookies. “And I know that Finn had limited funds this year, because of trying to get his business off the ground, but it just clashes SO MUCH! If I didn’t know better, I would think Finn was colorblind.”
“Actually, I think he just used up the last of whatever yarn Ma had lying around the house.” Puck reached for his mug and took a long swing of eggnog. “And it sort of looks like a reindeer.”
Kurt sighed, pulling the sweater out in front of him and looking down at it. “I guess.”
“And didn’t you see his smile when you put it on?”
“I only put it on because Aunt Mildred is probably going to die soon.”
Puck laughed, and Kurt shared a tiny smile with him. Maybe Aunt Mildred wasn’t that old, but when she told you to do something, it was hard to say no.
Then Puck leaned in and whispered in Kurt’s ear. “Don’t worry, babe. Before much longer, I’m going to have an ‘allergy attack’ and you and Finn are going to have to take me back to the hotel.”
“No one believes you’re allergic to Benedict Cumberpaws, you know.” Kurt said, shaking his head over the ridiculous name Carole had given her “empty nest” cat.
Shrugging, Puck took another sip of his drink. “I’ll be real convincing. I can cry on command, you know.”
“Oscar-worthy talent, for sure.” Kurt frowned down at his sweater again, though he felt the edges of his lips twitch upward when Puck laughed again.
“You know it, baby.”
Kurt sat, trying not to be anxious about how itchy the sweater made the skin on his arms, or how the neon green seemed to follow his eyes wherever he pointed them. The torture went on for at least twenty minutes, punctuated only by the occasional funny family story. And then Puck sneezed so loudly, Kurt couldn't help but jump and give out a little shriek.
"'Scuse me," Puck mumbled, leaving the couch and heading for the hallway that led to the kitchen and the downstairs bathroom.
Finn scrambled up from the floor to sit in Puck's place, his arm heavy around Kurt's shoulders and pressing the wool of the sweater through Kurt's undershirt and against his skin. Kurt shifted uncomfortably, but he couldn't find his voice to object. "Puck okay?"
"Cat allergy," Kurt replied, shifting again, even though the friction of the sweater between his shoulders and Finn's arm felt like scratching his back against a wall made of jagged pieces of glass. "We might have to leave soon."
"Oh, already? It feels like we just got here!"
Kurt shrugged and bit back a hiss of discomfort. He vowed to set this sweater on fire as soon as humanly possible. "It's been hours."
Finn hugged Kurt closer and nuzzled his cheek. "Man, am I glad you're wearing that sweater. You have no idea how much time it took to make."
Bad mood dissipating at the tone in Finn's voice, Kurt let out the breath he'd been holding and smiled. "Thank you, Finn." Puck came back into the room then, eyes red and watery, a tissue held up to his nose. "Well, that's about as much cat as I can handle tonight. Thanks for the awesome Christmas, Mrs. H."
"Oh, Noah!" Carole cried, standing up from her chair and hurrying over to Puck. She put her hands on his cheeks and turned his face this way and that. Turning to Finn and Kurt, she cried, "Boys! Noah needs to go back to the hotel right now! And you should stop off for some allergy medicine on the way there. If he starts having trouble breathing, take him to the ER."
Kurt knew she was overreacting, but Finn jumped up, earnest in his desire to help. Kurt followed behind, gathering up their things, as Finn took over nursing duties from his mother and hurried Puck out of the house.
In the rental car Puck got sandwiched between the gearshift and Kurt, with Finn at the wheel. Finn pulled out into the street, the tires crunching on the new layer of snow that had fallen while they were inside. "Alright, you guys. First stop, the pharmacy. Oh, man! Do you think they're even open today?"
"Chill," Puck said, wiping his face with the tissue still in his hand. "I'm fine. You know I'm not allergic to cats."
"But your eyes, dude!"
Kurt laughed, his freedom from his sweater finally in sight. "Puck just wanted to go back to the hotel."
"Why?" Finn asked, glancing over at Kurt and then Puck in between keeping his eyes on the snowy road. "Christmas is fun!"
"So is being alone by ourselves in a hotel room," Puck replied, sniffling through a grin. "Preferably naked. We'll go back for breakfast in the morning. It'll be fine."
"Oh." Finn stopped at the light leading out of their parents' neighborhood. "Ohhhh. Right." He grinned at Puck as the light turned green. Easing the car up to speed, Finn nodded his head. "Naked is good."
Kurt sang the Hallelujah Chorus in his head.