Kurt’s spent a couple Thanksgivings away from home now. He went home that first year, when he was still living in New York and close enough that it didn’t cost a fortune to fly home for a long weekend. Once he moved to L.A. things got a little more complicated; the flight home took the better part of a day, for one thing, and there was no way he could justify a trip home for Thanksgiving and Christmas, so Kurt resigned himself to spending the holiday with Brittany in their apartment.
He didn’t mind, really, because while it was nice to see his dad and Carole, he’d left behind all his high school baggage when he left Ohio, and he wasn’t interested in revisiting it. So he and Brittany stayed in town, and Kurt cooked a more or less traditional meal – after all, models weren’t exactly going to splurge on mashed potatoes, even on Thanksgiving – for the rest of their friends who didn’t have anywhere else to go for the holiday.
It was…nice, if a little strange, and since Brittany only hung out with models and Kurt only hung out with aspiring fashion designers, everyone got along fine. There weren’t even any arguments about what movies to watch once dinner was over, because none of them ever got tired of The Devil Wears Prada and The September Issue.
This year, though…this year is different. This year Puck’s in his life, and Kurt’s having a hard time picturing him enjoying the prospect of spending his afternoon sipping white wine and watching Anna Wintour be awful to people.
“Babe, relax,” Puck says for at least the tenth time since Kurt climbed out of bed and started obsessing about making sure the menu for Thanksgiving dinner is perfect. He’s spent most of the day in the kitchen, chopping and stirring and baking, and Puck’s spent most of that time watching him work and wondering out loud what the big deal is.
“I am relaxed,” Kurt snaps, but as soon as he says it the buzzer rings, and he feels himself tense again. And he’s not even sure what he’s so tense about, because Puck’s met his friends before. Granted, they mostly don’t talk to him so much as stare and probably wonder what Puck’s doing with Kurt in the first place, but if it doesn’t bother Puck, it shouldn’t bother Kurt.
Except Brittany’s friends are coming to Thanksgiving too, and that means a roomful of models who are far less likely to ignore Puck than Kurt’s fashion school friends.
He takes a deep breath and tells himself it’s no different than watching tipsy older women – and sometimes men – hit on Puck at the bar when he’s working. He’s seen Puck turn on the charm for the sake of his tips more than once, and it’s not as though Kurt enjoys witnessing it, but he knows who Puck’s going home with at the end of the night.
Kurt knows where Puck’s sleeping tonight, too, but that doesn’t stop his heart from racing when he hears high-pitched laughter and then Brittany’s voice coming from the living room.
“Babe, seriously, what gives?”
“It’s nothing,” Kurt lies, but he lets Puck pull him close, arms sliding around Puck’s waist and leaning in for a kiss. “I’m fine; just a little stressed about making sure the turkey’s ready at the same time as everything else, that’s all.”
It’s not as though Puck’s never met any of Brittany’s friends. They show up at the apartment occasionally, and sometimes Brittany drags them to the bar when Puck’s working. But on Thanksgiving anyone without a place to go is invited, so Kurt can’t guarantee he’ll know everyone who turns up for dinner tonight.
He swallows a sigh at the thought and buries his face in Puck’s neck, breathing in deep before he lets go and takes a step backwards. “Speaking of which, if I don’t get started on the pies there won’t be any dessert at all.”
“You want some help?” Puck asks, and when Kurt raises an eyebrow Puck shrugs. “I can bake. Don’t you remember those cupcakes I made in sophomore year?”
“None of my recipes involve pot,” Kurt says, rolling his eyes when Puck smirks at him.
“Maybe they should. Might get some of your friends to loosen up for once.”
He has a point, so Kurt doesn’t argue. Instead he shakes his head and puts his hands on Puck’s shoulders to push him toward the door. “Go mingle. I’ve got everything under control in here.”
“I’m here to hang out with you, Kurt,” Puck says, and the thing is, Kurt knows he means it, just like he knows Puck’s not going to dump him for some model. Puck loves him, and Kurt still wants to pinch himself every time he thinks it, but he knows it’s true all the same.
“I’ll put in an appearance soon, I promise,” Kurt answers, then he flashes his most convincing smile. Puck shakes his head, but he turns and heads for the living room anyway, and Kurt lets out a deep breath and turns back to his pies.
An hour later most of the guests have arrived, and dinner is more or less right on schedule. When Kurt finally runs out of things to fuss over in the kitchen he heads for the dining room, scanning the table he’s set up buffet-style and making sure none of the hors d’oeuvres need refilling.
Once he’s sure the table’s perfect he glances toward the living room, scanning the crowd of mostly familiar faces until he spots Puck. He’s in the corner by the television, a beer in one hand and talking to a guy Kurt’s never seen before. He’s about their age, and judging by his cheekbones and his clothes, Kurt’s guessing he’s a model.
His stomach dips at the sight of some – admittedly handsome – stranger laughing at something Puck says, then leaning in and resting a hand on his arm. Flirting, and Kurt’s not going to throw up because some slutty male model’s coming onto his boyfriend.
Kurt starts to make his way across the room, stopping to say hello every time one of his friends calls out his name. He tries not to make it obvious that he’s watching Puck and his new admirer, but he can’t help stealing glances toward the corner of the room every few moments. Every time he does he catches a glimpse of Puck’s smile or his arm waving while he tells some story, and Kurt’s heart twists a little in his chest.
And he’s glad that Puck has someone to talk to, because usually he’d be in Kurt’s room on Facebook by now, talking to Kurt’s dad about football or explosions while Carole cooks dinner. Either that or he’d be following Kurt around, and fine, maybe Kurt misses that part a little, but not enough to ruin Puck’s Thanksgiving.
He makes his way across the room anyway, stopping next to Puck and forcing a smile he hopes looks sincere. Puck’s new friend is in mid-sentence, but as soon as Puck looks over and spots Kurt he grins and slides an arm around Kurt’s waist.
“Babe, there you are,” Puck says, his hand sliding into Kurt’s back pocket as he speaks, and Kurt feels himself blush. Puck turns back to the slutty model long enough to nod, and the jolt in Kurt’s stomach is definitely not triumph. “Good to meet you, man. See you around.”
A second later Kurt’s being pulled away without so much as an introduction, and he glances back over his shoulder to watch the model watching them go. “You might at least have introduced me to your new friend.”
“Yeah, I would have if I remembered his name,” Puck answers. “I think he worked with Brittany or something.”
“You two seem to have hit it off,” Kurt says, and he’s not jealous of some model, but Puck raises an eyebrow at him anyway.
“He’s the first dude you or Brittany knows who’s even heard of the Lakers. We were talking about basketball.” Puck stops walking, his arm tightening on Kurt’s waist to drag him to a halt too. “Wait, you’re not jealous, are you?”
“No, of course not,” Kurt lies, but he feels himself flush and curses his complexion for the millionth time. “I’m glad you found someone who speaks your language. Even if he looks a bit like Eurotrash.”
Puck huffs a laugh and sways closer, leaning in to press a soft kiss to Kurt’s neck, then another to his jaw. “You’re kind of hot when you’re jealous, babe. Anyway, he’s not even into dudes. He’s got some girlfriend who’s on a shoot in Mexico or something, so Brit took pity on him and invited him to your orphan dinner.”
Kurt flushes even harder when Puck’s hand curves around his ass, because they’re still standing right in the middle of the living room in full view of all their guests. He hisses a sharp, “Noah,” that gets him another laugh, but Puck lets him pull away to smooth his hands down the front of his sweater.
He shoots a warning glare in Puck’s direction, then he turns toward the rest of his guests and does his best to look as though his boyfriend wasn’t just feeling him up in front of the entire room. He can feel his cheeks burning, but he raises his voice anyway and calls for attention.
“Dinner’s ready, and there’s plenty of it, so I hope you brought your appetites. Please help yourselves,” Kurt says, gesturing toward the dining room where the buffet is arranged.
Right away their guests begin moving toward the food, but before anyone gets close enough to grab a plate, Brittany’s voice rises over the rest of them. “Toast,” she calls, chanting the word and pumping her fist in the air as though she’s at some kind of sporting event.
Kurt frowns and blushes even harder, turning his glare on Brittany. “Brit, I don’t really…”
“It’s Puck’s first year,” she says, talking over Kurt as though he hadn’t said anything. “He should do it.”
And he wasn’t really expecting that, but calling this Puck’s ‘first year’ implies that Brittany assumes he’ll still be here next year, and the thought is distracting enough to keep him from trying to talk Brittany out of it. Instead he turns back to Puck, and when Puck raises an eyebrow at him Kurt shrugs and allows himself a small smile.
Kurt can feel all eyes in the room on them, but he ignores it as well as he can and waits for Puck to make his decision. Finally Puck shrugs and glances around at their audience, then he looks back at Kurt and smiles.
“So I’ve known Kurt and Brit longer than pretty much everybody here,” he begins, his gaze sliding toward Brittany for a second before he looks back at Kurt. “We went our separate ways for awhile, and that kind of sucked, but I didn’t know why until I ran into Kurt again. Turns out I kind of missed him, even if he kind of hated me through most of high school.”
Puck pauses to let everyone laugh, gaze still locked on Kurt, and Kurt doesn’t bother trying to deny it. Because he didn’t hate Puck, but he didn’t think much of him, either, and they both know he had good reason. Once the noise in the room dies down Puck clears his throat and glances around at the people looking back at him.
“But then he showed up again, and for some reason he was willing to give me another shot. So I guess what I’m saying is that this year I’m thankful for second chances.”
Kurt feels his eyes start to burn and reaches up to pinch the bridge of his nose. He’s not looking at anyone else, because he can feel their eyes on him and he doesn’t really want to start crying in front of his classmates. What he wants to do is grab Puck and drag him forward, kiss him breathless and then drag Puck down the hall to lock them both in his room for the rest of the weekend.
“Kiss, kiss, kiss,” Brittany chants, and Kurt’s cheeks are burning so hot now that he’s sure his entire face is bright red. He still wants to drag Puck to his room where they can be alone, but now he sort of wants to kill Brittany too, and he’s not sure which is more appealing.
He’s saved the trouble of deciding when Puck’s arm slides around his waist, and when Kurt realizes the whole room is chanting he rolls his eyes and tilts his head up for a kiss. Puck grins against his mouth and Kurt can’t help laughing, and it’s not much of a kiss, but it seems to appease their audience.
The clapping dies down after a few moments, at any rate, and when Kurt pulls back to venture a glance over Puck’s shoulder their guests are filing toward the buffet again. He takes a breath and turns his attention back to Puck, arms sliding around his shoulders and leaning in to press their foreheads together.
“That was quite a speech.”
“Meant every word, babe,” Puck says, brushing another kiss against Kurt’s lips. “Thanks for giving me a shot.”
There are a lot of things Kurt could say to that. He could point out that it wasn’t so much Kurt giving Puck a chance as it was Kurt taking a gamble and hoping Puck felt even a fraction of what Kurt did. Or he could tell Puck that he’d never hated him, not really. He could even say that he’d missed Puck too when they weren’t in each other’s lives, even though he’d had no idea at the time that Puck was what he was missing.
“I’m thankful you’re here,” he says instead, his grip tightening on Puck’s shoulders.
“Good, because I’m not going anywhere,” Puck answers, and Kurt’s fairly confident he means it.