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The Time We Do Have

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Between the day that Puck signs the paperwork and the day he has to report for basic training are two empty weeks, and he gets two-thirds of the way through those empty weeks before he decides to check in with the only person who wasn’t in Lima during Schuester’s memorial get-together. The first time he calls Quinn, she’s in class, and the second time, she’s about to go into a lab, but the third time is finally a success, and Puck props his feet up as he tells her everything that happened in Lima and what he’s doing.

Quinn listens, asking a few questions, and then when Puck’s finished, she starts talking, telling him how things look from her sort-of outside perspective. At first Puck scoffs at Quinn’s idea that Kurt lashed out at Puck because Puck was the safe person to lash out at, but he thinks about it during the six weeks of basic, and by the end, he can mentally admit that maybe he was the safest choice for Kurt.

Puck also knows that what Finn would have wanted Puck to do is keep an eye on Finn’s brother and his high school girlfriend, whether or not Finn would have ever really gotten back together with Rachel. Because of that, Puck goes into the first Walgreens he passes and buys two actual cards, one for Kurt’s birthday and one ‘just because’ for Rachel. If Quinn’s right about how they’re grieving—unhealthily—then Puck’s got to be the bigger person and kill ’em with kindness. He fills out Kurt’s card and mails it right away, then mails Rachel’s a week later.

Two weeks after that, Puck finds himself back at McKinley, and neither Kurt nor Rachel mention the cards, but Kurt’s definitely less of a dick. Quinn’s boyfriend is a dick, and Puck feels doubly obligated to run him off, but when Quinn hints around asking if Puck has feelings for her, Puck pretends like he doesn’t understand. It’s not that he couldn’t develop feelings for her again, but maybe just like how he was safe for Kurt to lash out at, Quinn’s almost a safe choice, and him for her, and Puck thinks that might not be the best for either of them.

Still, Puck keeps three people in the back of his head during his next assignment, and when he gets back stateside, he picks up three cards at the Walgreens and mails them staggered again. This time he gets a response from one of the recipients – Quinn sends him a text claiming she’s rolling her eyes, but Puck’s pretty sure she wouldn’t have bothered to send the text if she wasn’t actually appreciative.

Eight weeks after that, in the middle of November, Puck ends up with seventy-two hours of leave before he has to report back to McGuire in Trenton. He rents a car and drives up to New Haven first, having already warned Quinn he feels obligated to vet her new boyfriend. He gets another text about eye-rolling, but when he gets there, she really is glad to see him—or does a great job faking it—and he decides that her boyfriend is actually a decent guy, especially when he offers to let Puck crash in his dorm room.

Puck wakes up early on Saturday morning and feels like he’s slept in, but no one else in New Haven seems to be awake. He goes for a run, borrows Quinn’s boyfriend’s ID for the weight room like he’d offered, grabs breakfast, and takes a shower all before anyone else in the dorm makes any noise. It gives him enough time to decide that hanging out in New Haven for the remaining fifty-two hours of leave is not really what he wants to do, and probably it’s not what Quinn wants him to do, either, so he walks to the closest coffee place with her, buys her a cup of coffee, and gives her a hug before getting back in the car and driving towards New York.

He pulls off the road five miles later and sends a message to Kurt and Rachel. Passing through during leave. Dinner tonight my treat? U 2 pick nothing over $25 per.

It’s probably dumb, and Puck mostly expects a message back from one or both of them telling him to fuck off or, more politely, that they already have plans. He still feels like he should try and he wants to try, too. Weird or not, eighteen months earlier he would have said either of the two of them were his good friends, and despite everything else that’s changed, he’s not totally ready to give up on them.

His phone chimes with an incoming message around Fairfield, but he waits until he stops in Stamford to read it. It’s from Kurt, and all it says is an address. Puck opens the address up on the map app and decides it’s probably their apartment address. By the time he gets to Brooklyn it’s later than he expected, and he circles the couple of blocks near their apartment for longer than he expects before he snags a parking space.

It’s still a little early for dinner, but Puck isn’t going to take a chance of moving the rental car, and he isn’t going to take a chance of them changing their minds, either, so he goes to the address and, after looking at the mailboxes, up to the top floor before knocking on the door that, by process of elimination, must be theirs.

Kurt looks surprised when he rolls the door open, despite having sent Puck the address. He stands in the door for a long time staring. “Hi?” Puck finally says. “I found a parking spot three blocks over, so I went ahead and took it.”

“Hi. Sorry,” Kurt says, shaking his head. “It’s good to see you. Come in.”

“So this is the infamous loft?” Puck asks as he steps through the doorway and looks around. “Drafty?”

“We stuff towels around the windows and doors when it drops below forty,” Kurt says.

“Noah!” Rachel says, coming into the main room with a flutter of a curtain behind her. “It’s so good to see you! And you aren’t in uniform!”

“I’m on leave,” Puck says as Rachel darts forward and hugs him. He pats her back as he continues. “They do let me wear clothes they didn’t issue.”

“But you wore it when you were on leave back home,” Rachel says as she pulls back and smiles up at him.

That was to remind everyone in Lima that I don’t live in Lima anymore.”

“You’re enjoying the Air Force?” Kurt asks. “You look good.”

“As much as I work out, I’d better!” Puck says, laughing. “Air Force is decent. It’s a living. I’ve got 72 hours right now. Or, well, about 48 left before I have to report back to McGuire.”

“Ooh, what were you doing?” Rachel asks.

“I drove up to New Haven. Quinn’s new boyfriend isn’t a douchebag like the last one.”

“So you’ve stayed in touch with Quinn, too? How is she?” Kurt asks.

“I’ll probably always stay in touch with her, you know?” Puck says with a shrug. “As friends, but as friends go, she’s probably one of the best ones I could have. Someone’s got to look out for her though, ’cause she’s not got the best track record in picking guys.”

“She picked a few good ones!” Rachel says. “Look at you and—”

“Yeah, exactly,” Puck says after a second passes. “Look at me.”

“Noah!” Rachel says, sounding exasperated, but then she laughs.

“So, is pizza not fancy enough for you, or can we go out for a slice?” Kurt asks. “We’ll keep it under twenty-five.”

“I’m going to have to assume you mean New York pizza, not Pizza Hut or something, so sure,” Puck says.

“Naturally. You can’t come to the city and not have real pizza,” Kurt says.

“Deal, but you should also try the stuff they serve in Italy,” Puck counters.

“Italy!” Rachel almost freezes in place. “When were you in Italy?”

“Air Force has seven main bases in Europe. Only two of those are in Germany, despite what you’d think watching TV.”

“If you’ll follow me, I’ll lead us to dinner,” Kurt says.

Puck nods and gestures for Kurt to walk ahead of them, and once they’re on the stairs, Puck hangs back a little, nodding for Rachel to, too.

“What’s the Kurt-and-Blaine status?” he whispers. “I can’t keep up, even when I poke around on Facebook and shit.”

“Broken up. Blaine quit NYADA and went back to Ohio!” Rachel whispers back, sounding scandalized. “He said New York wasn’t the city for him. Considering it is Kurt’s city, I think it’s for good this time.”

“Okay, no Blaine conversations,” Puck says with a nod, then catches back up with Kurt. The pizza place is only a few blocks from their apartment, but in the opposite direction from where Puck parked his rental.

Puck orders three different slices, realizing as Rachel orders that she’s at least given up on the ‘vegan’ part of vegetarian, since she’s getting a veggie slice with regular cheese and not soy cheese or anything.

“So NYADA’s good?” Puck asks Kurt once they’re all sitting down.

“It’s hard work. Very competitive,” Kurt says. “I never realized how much my sophomore year rivalry with Rachel was preparing me.”

“Aww, that’s sweet,” Puck says, grinning at the two of them. “It sounds tiring.”

“It is. I stay busy, but that’s not a bad thing,” Kurt says.

“Yeah, I hear you there. Air Force’s the same way. Your show that way too, Rachel?”

“Yes. It sounds easier than it is, one or two shows a day, and you’d think we’d be done with rehearsals by six months into it, but it seems like there’s always something,” Rachel says. “Ooh, you two should come tomorrow afternoon! Please, Kurt?”

Kurt looks somewhat defeated until he suddenly brightens. “You know, I’m not even sure if Puck planned to stay the night in the city!”

“Now, Kurt, of course we can let Noah sleep on our sofa, especially if he’s coming to see me tomorrow!”

“Maybe he has plans to see other people while he’s on leave, Rachel,” Kurt says, giving Rachel a pointed look.

“No, sure, it sounds like fun,” Puck says, winking at Kurt where Rachel can’t see.

“Oh yes! Yay!” Rachel jumps up, waving her phone. “I’ll go call to have them set tickets aside! Be right back!”

“Just tell me what it’s about and everything,” Puck whispers before Kurt can say anything. “We’ll show up at the end with daisies or something.”

“Oh thank god,” Kurt says. “Of course I don’t mind you staying. It’ll be nice to catch up more, but if I have to sit through Funny Girl one more time, I will literally die.”

“Yeah, my mom used to have a couple of Streisand records, so if it’s anything like those, I figured I wasn’t going to have a great time,” Puck says. “I can read a summary on Wikipedia or something.”

“I’ll make sure you know all the relevant plot points,” Kurt says.

“Maybe we can go get some postcards or something, I can send one to Jake and one to Alyssa.”

“You’re not going to see them while you’re still on leave?”

“I’m not really up for a twelve-hour drive times two. I’ll probably get closer to a full week in February or March,” Puck explains. “I’ll ship them Hanukkah presents and cards in another week or so.”

Kurt nods. “Well, then I’m doubly flattered you’d spend your leave with us.”

Puck shrugs, not quite sure how to explain the particular combination of obligation and desire, and luckily for him, Rachel comes back to the table then, beaming.

“All set! I won’t be able to tell where you are, they aren’t that good, but they’re pretty good!”

“We’ll find you afterwards, right, Kurt?”

“Right!” Kurt says. “We can go out for drinks!”

“I just have one request when it comes to food the rest of the time,” Puck says.

“What is it?” Rachel asks.

Puck grins. “No sushi. No Japanese food, period, or Chinese or Korean or any other far eastern country’s cuisine.”

The three of them end up staying up late eating ice cream and looking up people from Lima on Facebook to see what they’re doing, and the next afternoon, Puck and Kurt’s ruse works perfectly. Puck manages to say enough that Rachel thinks he watched the entire thing, and while he would have been stuck in the theater, he got a couple of postcards each for Jake and Alyssa and a keychain for his mom. He stays at the loft again Sunday night, and when he leaves on Monday morning, Rachel hugs him again before Puck and Kurt awkwardly hug.

He gets back to McGuire in time to do a little laundry and then report before heading out to Japan. While he figures he’s going to be completely sick of rice before too long, it’s one of the assignments he was hoping for, with the U.S. Air Force Band of the Pacific-Asia. If Puck does well enough there, he figures he might get assigned to the band in Europe or stateside, eventually, which seems like a pretty good deal to him. He keeps up his single-handed propping up of the USPS, sending Hanukkah cards and Christmas cards and random other cards to a rotation of six people.

His projected week of leave in February or early March turns into ten days at the very end of March, and after four days in Lima, he’s more than ready to head to some other part of the country. He ends up in New Haven for a day and a half, then heads into the city. This time, he doesn’t text Kurt or Rachel ahead of time, and he finds a parking spot closer to their apartment, too. It’s late enough that they should be home, he figures, but not so late that they should be asleep, so if his knock is a little loud, it should be okay.

“I don’t remember or— Noah!” Rachel says as she slides open the loft door. “We didn’t know you were in town. Did we?” she asks over her shoulder.

“We didn’t!” Kurt calls out.

“I’ll leave again if you try to serve me rice,” Puck jokes. “I figured Kurt probably wasn’t too caught up in finals yet.”

“No, he’s got a few more weeks,” Rachel says as she steps back, and once Puck is inside, she hugs him tightly. “It’s good to see you!”

“Hello, Puck,” Kurt says, waiting until Rachel releases Puck to hug him, too. The hug is probably a little too long but it’s still somehow less awkward than when Puck was leaving back in November.

“So what’s new in New York?” Puck asks once they’re all sitting down.

“I’m leaving Funny Girl in June, once it’s been a full year,” Rachel says. “I’ve saved up enough I can audition for a few things over a couple of months, and then decide on something new.”

“And I’ve got a small role in an off-off-Broadway production over the summer,” Kurt says. “So how was the Phillipines? Or wherever it is you’ve been since the last card?”

“I didn’t even attempt to bring back coconuts as souvenirs,” Puck says, “but if you’re interested, I have coconut soap from the Marshall Islands. And something called a kili handbag. Also, the cigarette pack holders are kind of a cool shape, even though I don’t know anyone who smokes.”

“Ooh, I want a handbag!” Rachel says. “That is unique.”

“I don’t plan to take up smoking, but I do love fancy soap,” Kurt says.

Puck leans over and unzips his suitcase, handing a bag to Rachel and then starting to toss soaps out. “I think the cigarette case would almost hold an iPhone,” he says, handing Kurt one of them anyway. “We’ll be on base in Japan for at least five or six weeks when I get back.”

“I love it, Noah, thank you,” Rachel says, opening the bag up and peering inside.

“Thanks, Puck,” Kurt says. “So, how long can you stay this time?”

“I’ve got four and a half days left. I’d take away for travel, but they count me as back from leave as soon as I’m on base stateside, thankfully,” Puck says. “The date line confuses me.”

“Me too,” Rachel says, like she’s confiding a large secret.

“How do you feel about the Mets?” Kurt asks.

“I’m not a huge fan of orange with blue, but the team’s okay, why?”

“Thought we could catch a game while you’re in town, maybe eat at Hard Rock,” Kurt says. “If you’re interested.”

“Burgers at Hard Rock and you’re on,” Puck says.

Between the baseball game, the burgers, the art museum, and the various tourist stops, Puck decides that he’s having the very American four-day tour of New York City. On the third night, while Rachel’s at work, Puck and Kurt open some cheap wine and end up talking a lot about the Air Force and the band, including some of the places that Puck’s going to be traveling, and after a while, about some of his co-workers.

“It sounds like you’ve met some nice people,” Kurt says. “Anyone you really enjoy spending time with?”

“Spending time, or spending time?” Puck asks as he grins, then shakes his head. “Nah. This is kind of the… not the worst band assignment, but it’s either lifers who love Japan or people like me, waiting for an assignment they’ll like better. You know? Which makes it a little competitive, actually. Not as bad as NYADA, though.”

Kurt nods. “Nothing wrong with spending time with the competition, if you’re lonely, though.”

“Then it gets awkward, or so I’ve been warned. It’s being alone without being lonely, if you know what I mean.”

Kurt nods again. “I do. It’s not that different for me right now, to be honest.”

“Well, yeah, you’re trying to get your career going and all of that. That’s got to take a lot of time.”

“There’s that, too,” Kurt says. “It’s also that—and yes, I know how dramatic this sounds—everything just feels so… impermanent, I guess.”

“No, yeah, I get it.” Puck laughs a little. “Quinn likes to use her psychology electives on me, and she says most of us in high school put too much importance on not just having an SO, but having that SO be everything for us. She’s probably right.”

“Yes, I think she might be,” Kurt agrees.

“I told her that means that if Dale breaks up with her, I expect her to be single for at least a full year before looking for someone else. She asked if that included drunken hookups with women, and I told her I was going to go with yes on that.”

“Oh my!”

Puck laughs. “Oh, you don’t know that story?”

“No!” Kurt says. “I never would have thought Quinn of all people!”

“It was at Mr. Schuester’s not-an-actual-wedding, she hooked up with Santana. Santana really didn’t tell you?” Puck asks.

“Santana, believe it or not, never really shared much about her personal life with us,” Kurt says.

“Quinn decided she really was straight, though, so I don’t think she really wants even a drunken hookup. I told her she shouldn’t limit her options, but no dice.”

“Too bad.”

“Hey, you have no room to talk, Kurt. You limit your options, too,” Puck says, tsking a little.

“Oh?” Kurt asks, raising an eyebrow. “But you don’t?”

“I never have and never claimed otherwise.”

“And yet, still not spending time with anyone,” Kurt says.

Puck shrugs. “Personal growth and all that shit.”

“To personal growth and all that shit,” Kurt says, holding up his wine glass.

“Especially all that shit,” Puck agrees, touching his glass to Kurt’s.

Over the next eight months, Puck likes to think that he’s keeping the mail carriers in Lima, Brooklyn, and New Haven busy. He buys Hanukkah cards for everyone, deciding that Kurt and Quinn probably won’t care too much if they get Hanukkah cards and not Christmas ones. He doesn’t mail any of them, though, since his leave gets approved and he should be in the States for Hanukkah.

He spends the first night of Hanukkah with his mom and Alyssa, the second night with Jake, and then barely notes the third night as he drives east. He spends most of the day on his own in Manhattan, texting Quinn mid-morning to see if she can get a train into the city, and then texting Rachel and Kurt around four to meet him at Fifth Avenue and 59th.

You’re in town? Kurt texts back.

Since about nine this morning Puck sends, along with a sticking-out-his-tongue emoticon.

Why 5th & 59th?

Ask Rachel she’ll know. Puck grins to himself and stakes out a table in the Starbucks closest to 59th & Fifth Avenue. Just tell me your ETA.

20-25

After twenty minutes, Puck orders four coffees and then heads outside, scanning the crowd for Kurt, Rachel, and Quinn, before realizing that as short as Quinn and Rachel are, he might as well just look for Kurt. He finally spots what he’s almost certain is Kurt’s hair, next to a colorful hat that looks like something Rachel would wear.

“Kurt!” Puck calls in that direction.

“Puck!” Kurt calls back. “Hello!”

Puck pushes his way through the people mingling, trying not to spill any coffee, before ending up in front of Rachel and Kurt. “Hey!”

“Hi!” Kurt says, moving close to Puck and leaning in, then looking briefly startled before hugging Puck tightly and pulling away again, slightly pink-faced.

“Happy Hanukkah!” Rachel says, hugging Puck too. “What a great idea, Noah. Ooh, did you bring someone with you?” she asks as she looks at the four coffees.

Kurt has an odd expression on his face before Puck shakes his head. “No, the other one’s Quinn’s. I told her she could spare me the drive this time.”

“Oh, it’ll be nice to see her,” Rachel says. “We haven’t seen her in…” Rachel looks guilty as she glances at Kurt. “Over a year?”

“Yes, it’s been quite a while,” Kurt says.

“I have Hanukkah presents, too,” Puck says as he hands Rachel one of the coffees and then another one to Kurt. “Enough payment to put me up for about a week?”

“You don’t have to bribe us to let you stay with us,” Kurt says, “though I won’t say no to presents or coffee.”

“Good answer. Let’s see if we can find Quinn before they actually light the giant menorah.”

For the first few days, Kurt is still getting ready for and taking his finals, so Puck mostly sleeps, watches Netflix with earbuds in, and works out. When Kurt gets back from his last final, Puck takes out his earbuds, closes his laptop, and sits up with a grin.

“Great. Guess what we’re doing tonight?”

“Sleeping for two weeks?” Kurt says, dropping down onto the sofa with an exhausted sigh.

“Noooo, that’s tomorrow. Tonight we’re going out,” Puck says enthusiastically. “I Googled clubs.”

“What kind of clubs? I really can’t deal with a Rachel Berry karaoke night tonight.”

“Do I look like someone who Googles karaoke— you know what, don’t answer that,” Puck says with a wince. “Dancing clubs.”

“I don’t know, Puck. I get a lot of dancing in a day,” Kurt says.

Puck shakes his head. “Not the same kind of dancing, and you don’t get to go dancing with me most days, either.”

“That’s true,” Kurt concedes. “I guess I can have one more late night before I hibernate for the rest of the break.”

“Awesome. Go get changed,” Puck says as he stands up and starts rummaging through his suitcase. Once they’re both ready, Puck’s pretty sure they could each look more ready for a night out dancing, but since they’re eating dinner out first, it’s probably okay.

When they get to the club, Puck orders them each a pop, but after two songs, he turns to Kurt. “Ready?”

“After you,” Kurt says, gesturing towards the dance floor.

“Oh, no, I don’t trust you,” Puck says as he points. “Show me that shimmy.”

“Oh. This shimmy?” Kurt asks, starting to walk backwards towards the dance floor, doing the shimmy.

Puck laughs and follows him. “Yep, that shimmy!” Once he has Kurt out dancing, Kurt doesn’t stop, and as the songs continue, the two of them dance closer and closer. Eventually, Puck has to mentally concede that they’re approaching the line between ‘friendly dancing’ and ‘sexy dancing’, and after that line is well behind him, it’s closer to grinding against each other in time to the music.

If Kurt were almost anyone else, Puck would go with the music and the dim lights and turn the grinding into kissing and a hookup. It’s been longer than Puck wants to admit since he had even a one-night thing, and way longer since anything that wasn’t just one-night. It is Kurt, though, and there’s so much wrapped up in that fact.

Because they don’t talk about Finn that much, but he’s still there with them, all of them. Puck spends time in New York and New Haven because Quinn and Rachel and Kurt are his friends, but also because he’s absolutely certain Finn would want him to. Puck figures that similarly, they all like Puck well enough, but he’s a connection to Finn for them, too, a connection the rest of the people they all interact with don’t have at all.

And hooking up with Kurt would put that at risk for Kurt and Puck, yeah, but it’d also put it at risk for Rachel, and maybe even Quinn, which means there are too many people to think about and too much at stake for even a really great hookup, and that’s why the grinding doesn’t go beyond grinding, not during any of the songs, and eventually Puck can see that Kurt really is wearing out.

Puck throws an arm around Kurt’s shoulder as the song changes, steering him off the dance floor and towards the bar, ordering them two pops to go and settling the tab before steering Kurt out of the club.

“Happy end of finals, Kurt,” Puck says as they get on the subway.

“Thank you for making me go out,” Kurt says. “It was fun.”

Puck starts to almost joke it off, to say “what else are friends for?” but it doesn’t feel quite right, and he shrugs. “You’d do the same for me,” he finally says.

The rest of the visit is mostly Netflix marathons, breakfast for every meal, and pizza for breakfast once, and this time when Puck leaves the hug is definitely too long for friends, but no one says anything about it, not even Rachel.

Another six months pass before Puck is stateside, and even though he knows he should take the five days he’s got and spend them with his mom and Alyssa, he flies into Newark instead, meeting Quinn for lunch before heading out to Brooklyn with a couple of bottles of moderately good wine. When he gets to the loft, he knocks as much like the pizza delivery guy as he can.

“Rachel,” Kurt’s voice calls through the door as he starts to slide it open. “Did you forget your key aga—” He stops abruptly as the door opens and he sees Puck.

“I even brought enough wine for Rachel, too,” Puck says, grinning. “Hey.”

“Puck!” Kurt squeals, flinging his arms around Puck’s neck to hug him. As he pulls Puck in close, however, he presses his lips to Puck’s, not just lightly but a good solid kiss, and Puck almost drops his bags as he brings his arms up. A couple of beats pass before Kurt seems to realize what he’s doing, pulling away with a mumbled, “Sorry.”

“No apologies necessary,” Puck immediately says, then steps into the loft. “Just you and me tonight, then? Rachel’s out?”

“She’s out with Jesse,” Kurt says, closing the door behind Puck. “I think I mentioned in my last letter that they’ve been seeing each other again.” He doesn’t quite make eye contact with Puck as he waves him towards the sofa, walking towards the kitchen to pull down a pair of wine glasses.

“They always did make a weird sort of sense,” Puck says as he puts down his suitcase and then the wine. “He makes her happy?”

“He does. It’s not the same as—” Kurt cuts himself off, walking back in and setting the glasses down before handing a corkscrew to Puck.

“He would have wanted her happy more than he would have wanted her happy with him specifically,” Puck says softly as he starts to open the wine.

“It’ll never be that way again for any of us,” Kurt says. “We’re all finding new ways to be happy. I don’t know that they’re better or worse ways, but we’re managing it, at least.”

“I think they’re both at the same time, usually. Better and worse.” Puck shrugs and pours them each a glass, then hands one to Kurt. “To managing?”

“To managing,” Kurt says, clinking his glass against Puck’s. The two of them sit quietly as they drink, and near the end of the first glass, Kurt starts to look sort of shifty.

“Uh-oh,” Puck says as he refills their glasses. “What’s that look for?”

“I owe you an apology,” Kurt says, staring down at his glass. He catches a drop running down the side on a fingertip, wiping it along the glass.

“For what?” Puck says. “You didn’t know I was coming, so there’s no way you committed me to seeing Rachel’s latest experimental theater thing.”

“I received a package in the mail a couple of months ago. It was from Will Schuester.”

“I’m still not getting the connection to me,” Puck admits.

“The package was Finn’s letter jacket, Puck, with a note from Mr. Schue, apologizing for having taken it,” Kurt says. “I’m so sorry that I blamed you for it.”

“Wait a second. Schue had it?”

Kurt nods. “He’s had it all this time. I don’t know why, or what he was thinking, but I never should have assumed it was you, and I’m sorry.”

Puck waves his hand dismissively. “I figured all that out years ago. Well, Quinn helped. But Schue? He got in my face about it! Told me I should give it back, and he had it!”

“That’s horrible. That never should’ve happened.”

“I wish I were more surprised,” Puck admits. “For someone who was supposed to be an advocate for all of us, he really wasn’t an advocate for most of us.”

“I know he took F— he took it hard, but it was hard on everyone,” Kurt says. “It was so hard on every one of us, and some of us handled it better than others.” He takes a large swallow of his wine before giving Puck a thin smile. “I don’t include myself on the list of people who handled it well.”

Puck studies his wine glass for a long time before taking a deep breath. “While I was waiting to ship out to basic, I called Quinn,” he says slowly. “I told her everything that happened, since she couldn’t make it. And she listened in that way she does, and then you know what she told me?” He looks up and half-smiles at Kurt. “She told me that it was hard to do, but I should take it as a compliment.”

“She’s probably not wrong,” Kurt says. “I’ve thought about those couple of days a lot. Obsessed about them, actually. I still don’t know why I acted how I did. You didn’t deserve it. You hadn’t done anything wrong. You missed him as much as I did.”

“Quinn said she thought you probably recognized I was safe, weirdly enough.” Puck shrugs. “I wasn’t going to do anything really, no matter how much you lashed out.”

“Sometimes I think… I think maybe I wanted you to do something. Getting punched would’ve been better, somehow. Pain that was visible to everybody else.”

“Yeah.” Puck nods. “Sometimes I wish there was a bar for the uniform or something. Some kind of visual sign, you know? There’s no, like, polite way to tell people, but if they don’t know… they’re missing something big.”

“And nobody else really understands,” Kurt says. “Even if they ask and you try to explain. I mean, I lost my mom, and that was hard and terrible, but it’s still not the same. It doesn’t leave the same hole.”

“I feel like people don’t take it seriously. ‘Best friend’ sounds like… someone you can go out and replace. Find someone else with that title or something,” Puck says. “But you can’t.”

“People think the ‘step’ makes it better somehow. Like at least it wasn’t your real brother. They don’t understand. They never met him.” Kurt empties the rest of his glass in one swallow, holding it out for Puck to refill it.

Puck pours more, opening the second bottle of wine and making their glasses a little more full than before. “Yeah. I shouldn’t have to tell my life story for people to understand why he was special.”

“They only would’ve had to meet him once to get it,” Kurt says. “If they’d spent just a few minutes with him, they’d understand.”

“I loved him.”

Kurt nods. “I know. I did, too.”

“I mean, I loved him,” Puck repeats.

Kurt nods again, looking away and tracing a fingertip around the rim of his wine glass. “I know what you meant.”

“There’s not even a word for that.”

“There should be,” Kurt says softly. “There should be a word like ‘orphan’ for people who lost their Finn.”

“Yeah. There should be,” Puck says. “Or at least a QR code we can make people scan.”

“Something. Something so we don’t have to explain. I hate meeting new people,” Kurt says.

“Yeah. Especially new people who want to date you.”

Kurt nods, his face still turned away from Puck. “Because they either don’t know about him, which I can’t stand, or I have to tell them about him, which I also can’t stand.”

“Yeah.” Puck snorts. “And how do you tell someone, hey, you’re great, but by the way… I’m also emotionally committed to someone else.”

“You know, Blaine had his faults, and nobody would call our relationship healthy, but he did at least understand that much,” Kurt says. “It made it easier to be with him.”

“Yeah. Quinn would have been the easy choice, you know? But easy and safe… it wouldn’t have been good for her. Probably not for me, either, but it was pretty clear for me to see it wasn’t for her.”

“So here we are. Alone, but not lonely, right?”

“Yeah, not lonely,” Puck says, going along with what he thinks that Kurt recognizes is a lie, even as drunk as they both are. He fills their glasses again and puts an arm around Kurt, tugging until Kurt’s head is resting on him. “I guess I didn’t really bring enough wine for Rachel after all.”

Kurt laughs, sniffling a little after, and moves his head against Puck’s shoulder. “She doesn’t really like red anyway.”

Puck grins. “I’ll get cabernet next time,” he says, and the two of them sit together on the couch until they fall asleep, waking up the next morning with a foul taste in their mouths and crusty eyes, or at least Puck has crusty eyes. He spends his three days in New York in what’s become his favorite ways: burgers, pizza, Netflix, a few touristy things, and at the last minute, a baseball game. When he gets back on base, a few of the guys ask him about his leave, and one guy even asks him about his ‘girl and guy in New York’.

“Nah, it’s not like that,” Puck says, because whatever it is, it’s definitely not what this guy thinks it is.

Three months later, in September, he gets his next orders, and three weeks after that, he lands at McGuire on his way to Germany. After he goes through medical and all his paperwork, the CO at McGuire tells him he has 30 hours of leave, and Puck ends up spending the first three hours doing laundry and looking up the train schedule, and another hour on the train and on the way to Brooklyn.

That only leaves him twenty-six hours, and he has to sleep and work out at least nine of those, so he skips the wine and goes straight for the pizza place near Kurt and Rachel’s, picking up two pies before heading up to the loft.

“Pizza!” he calls out as he knocks.

“Puck?” Kurt calls back, flinging the door open and then immediately flinging himself at Puck, hugging him hard. “I didn’t think I’d see you before you shipped out!”

“I didn’t either,” Puck admits, resisting the sudden urge to re-enact the kiss Kurt gave him the last time he was in New York. “I’ve got about twenty-five hours before I leave.”

“Then we should eat that pizza fast,” Kurt says, pulling Puck into the loft.

“That’s why I stopped to get it on the way,” Puck says, setting the pizza down and then looking around. “Something’s different.”

“Oh! I guess she hasn’t written you lately!” Kurt says. “Rachel moved out. She’s moved in with Jesse. It’s just me here now.”

“Yeah? You like living alone?” Puck asks.

“I haven’t gotten used to it yet. Maybe I’ll like it once I do,” Kurt says. He grabs a roll of paper towels and two cans of pop from the kitchen, setting them down on the coffee table. “Sit! Eat! Tell me all about everything.”

“I’m protected against pretty much every disease someone in the Air Force can get in Europe?” Puck says, opening one box. “No one can tell me when I’ll get leave again, either.”

“Oh. That’s unfortunate,” Kurt says.

“Yeah. I guess it’s the price I pay for Europe?” Puck says before taking a bite of pizza. “Some people apparently like it even better than the main band out of DC.”

“Oh,” Kurt says again, sounding like forced nonchalance. “Do you think you’ll want to stay indefinitely?”

“The only language I can really speak is English. Nana taught me some Yiddish, but that’s not going to get me very far in Europe,” Puck says, shaking his head. “If I stay in—which I don’t have a reason not to—I’d like to end up with the main band. Not Europe.”

“So, DC. That would be nice,” Kurt says. “That’s close enough for regular visits.”

“Yeah, I think there’s a train, even,” Puck says. “At least I can get some great souvenirs in Europe. You want some lederhosen?”

“You do know I’m not actually a character from The Sound of Music, right?”

“Of course you’re not. You’re a breakable collectible!”

Kurt gives Puck a thin-lipped smile. “That’s me. Breakable collectible.”

“I’m going to scratch ‘lederhosen’ off the list, then. Swiss chocolate?” Puck asks.

“Just don’t forget to write,” Kurt says, looking away.

“I’m not the one who stops writing. I’m the one who stops getting mail,” Puck says, trying to keep his voice light. The novelty of writing had worn off pretty quickly for Alyssa, and it hadn’t taken a lot longer for Jake and his mom to stop writing as frequently, either. Even Quinn and Rachel’s letters are less frequent now.

“I haven’t stopped writing,” Kurt says. “And I won’t stop.”

“I know.” Puck shrugs and then grins. “I seriously can’t believe I never made that joke about Hummel figurines before. How’d that happen?”

“You were probably afraid of me,” Kurt says.

“Or I had no idea what they were. Could go either way,” Puck says. “What are we going to do with the seventeen or so awake hours of leave I have?”

“We could go out to the Statue of Liberty, if you wanted.”

“Yeah, you look as excited about that as you would going out to Rikers, speaking of islands,” Puck says. “Next idea?”

“We could go clubbing again,” Kurt says.

“Yeah? You liked that?” Puck asks.

“It was fun.”

Puck nods, thinking, then grins. “Since we’re eating dinner first, we could dress more appropriately?”

“Oh? How would you define ‘appropriate’ for this venue?” Kurt asks.

“Tighter and sparklier?”

“I guess I’ll see what I can come up with,” Kurt says. “Do you even own anything sparkly?”

“Don’t you have any of that glittery lotion or anything?” Puck asks, already unzipping his suitcase. “Tight I have.”

“There might be some in the bathroom. Change and meet back out here?” Kurt asks.

Puck grins and nods as he grabs his clothes and heads to the bathroom. He rummages through the bottles of lotion and finds not one but two bottles of glitter lotion, and after some deliberation, settles on the red. Glitter lotion applied, he pulls his shirt back on and heads out of the bathroom.

“Ready?”

“Ready if you are,” Kurt says, coming out from behind the partitioned-off bedroom. His pants are definitely tighter than the last time they went out, and this time he has a sleeveless shirt on, which makes Puck realize that Kurt could easily compete with him when it comes to arms.

“Dancing time,” Puck agrees. When they get to the club, he doesn’t stop and order any pop, just walks out to the dance floor, pulling Kurt with him. Kurt puts one arm around Puck’s waist as they start dancing. Their dancing doesn’t really acknowledge ‘friendly dancing’ this time, going straight to ‘sexy’ and pretty quickly to grinding.

Puck’s not sure how long they’ve been there, just that it’s not been more than an hour or hour and a half, when he puts his mouth next to Kurt’s ear. “Don’t kick me in the balls here,” he says, loudly enough that he thinks Kurt can hear him, even over the music, and then he kisses Kurt, his arms pulling Kurt tight against him. Kurt responds by pushing his tongue into Puck’s mouth, hands on Puck’s back under his shirt.

Puck’s never actually done that much while in a club, but he knows that getting rid of his shirt is a good idea, and he uses one arm to pull his shirt off as much as he can while they’re still kissing before pulling away just enough to remove it completely. He kisses Kurt again, harder this time, and he presses his cock up against Kurt. Kurt’s cock is also really damn hard against Puck’s hip.

Kurt breaks the kiss, breathing heavily against Puck’s lips. “Take me home.”

“Not just take you?” Puck says, already pulling Kurt with him towards the exit.

“Take me at home,” Kurt answers.

Luckily, this time they picked a club in Brooklyn, which means they’re only frantically making out on the subway for ten minutes or so before they get off near the loft. “You have everything?” Puck asks as they hurry down the sidewalk.

“I’m lonely, not celibate,” Kurt says.

“Oh, good, we’re not pretending about not being lonely anymore,” Puck says, stopping in the middle of the sidewalk and kissing Kurt again before they keep going towards the loft. It takes too long for Kurt to get the door unlocked, and by the time he does, Puck has Kurt’s pants undone enough that he has one hand down them.

Kurt walks backwards into the loft, not flipping on the light. Puck slides the door shut behind them, using his free hand to pull Kurt closer again.

“Bed?” he mutters.

“Now,” Kurt says.

“Yeah, good,” Puck says, walking them slowly towards Kurt’s bed beyond the curtain. “We need to get your shirt off.”

“Easy fix,” Kurt says, pulling his shirt up and over his head, letting it drop.

“Yeah.” Puck goes back to kissing Kurt, one palm over Kurt’s cock and his other hand tugging at Kurt’s pants. “Why me?” he whispers.

“You know why,” Kurt says softly. “You know.”

“Yeah. I know.” Puck pulls them both onto the bed, his hands spread across Kurt’s lower back. “You loved him too.”

Kurt nods, his mouth on Puck’s again, pushing at Puck’s jeans. Puck reaches with one hand, unfastening them and starting to wiggle out of them, his other hand still running up and down Kurt’s back. Kurt grabs Puck’s ass and squeezes. He nips at Puck’s lower lip in between kisses.

“Time to get rid of all the clothes,” Puck says, rolling onto his back and kicking his jeans off completely. Kurt wriggles out of his pants, leaving just a pair of skimpy black briefs. “Those are clothes, too.”

“You don’t want to help?” Kurt asks.

Puck grins and slides his hand up Kurt’s leg and then under the briefs on the side. “I’ll make sure they don’t get ripped.”

“Not a priority, Puck.”

Puck laughs. “That’s good to know,” he says as he pulls them down and then off, tossing them in the floor before he leans over Kurt, kissing him and wrapping one hand around Kurt’s cock. Kurt grips Puck’s ass tighter, moaning as he thrusts up into Puck’s hand.

“You’re lonely, too?” Kurt asks, kneading the muscles of Puck’s ass. “It’s not just me?”

“Yeah. It’s not just you,” Puck says softly, kissing Kurt’s neck and then his ear. “We can be less lonely.”

Kurt nods. He slides a hand between them, stroking Puck’s cock with his fingertips. “I haven’t been less lonely in a long time.”

“Yeah. I can imagine.” Puck moves his hand slowly on Kurt’s cock. “I think this would make him happy.”

Kurt’s breath catches and he starts to tremble, though he doesn’t stop touching Puck’s cock, curling his fingers around and moving his hand. Puck realizes after a few more seconds that Kurt’s crying, slow and steady, and Puck kisses Kurt again.

He keeps his hand stroking Kurt’s cock, kissing him softly. “I want you to just let me touch you.”

“I thought you wanted to fuck me,” Kurt says, voice very quiet.

“Yeah, I do, but I think this is what we need right now.”

“Okay,” Kurt says. “Okay.” He keeps moving his hand on Puck’s cock, stroking him gently, running his thumb over the head.

Puck can’t help thinking about what Kurt said the one time, about impermanence, because now that they’re lying there, the streetlight coming in through the window, everything feels less frantic and less temporary, even with the knowledge that they’ve only got a few hours this time. Puck strokes Kurt steadily, his other hand holding him up, and he moves his mouth from Kurt’s neck to Kurt’s chest to Kurt’s lips, again and again.

“You should come whenever you feel like it,” Puck whispers.

“You should come with me,” Kurt says. “Puck.”

“Yeah. We will.” Puck moves his hand a little faster, kissing Kurt just a little bit harder. Kurt lets out soft whimpering sounds as he keeps stroking Puck. “Come with me,” Puck says, a little louder.

“Puck,” Kurt says again, then he starts rocking his hips forward harder, thrusting into Puck’s hand, coming a few seconds later. Puck’s hand stops moving as he starts to come, his other hand barely keeping him propped up above Kurt, and after another few seconds pass, he lowers himself, half on top of Kurt.

“See?” Puck says, not sure he could really explain what he means, but guessing that Kurt will understand anyway.

“Yes,” Kurt says. He presses his face against the side of Puck’s neck. His cheeks and eyelashes are still wet.

Puck kisses Kurt’s head softly. “He loved us too,” he says quietly.

Kurt makes a noise like a tiny hiccup, but then the side of Puck’s neck gets really wet, and he realizes that Kurt is barely holding back loud sobs. Puck runs his hands up and down Kurt’s back, suddenly wondering if Kurt’s let himself really cry at all.

“It’s okay,” Puck says. “It’s okay.”

Kurt buries his face against the spot where Puck’s neck and shoulder meet, and he does start to sob then. He clings to Puck, kissing his neck and shoulder anywhere he can reach without moving. Puck makes sure his hands are constantly touching Kurt, and he kisses the top of Kurt’s head again, leaving his lips there.

He feels suddenly and maybe inappropriately angry, that in the end, no one was there for Kurt, the same way no one was there for him. At the time, Puck had mistaken Kurt being there for Rachel as mutual support, and even though Puck should have known better, part of him had thought maybe Santana had been there for Kurt. And while Kurt’s dad is in Lima and DC, not New York, Puck really would have thought Burt would have made sure someone was there for Kurt, that Kurt was okay, but Puck is forced to conclude that’s not the case at all.

“I’ve got you, Kurt. It’s okay.”

Kurt mumbles something against Puck’s neck, clinging to him even harder.

“What?” Puck asks softly.

“I don’t— I don’t want you to go,” Kurt chokes out between gaspy sobs.

Puck tightens his arms around Kurt and doesn’t say anything for several seconds. “Yeah,” he finally says, his voice quiet. “I know.” Maybe what they’re doing is unfair to both of them, considering they each have their own commitments to honor, but Puck also feels like it’s a lot better than some things could be.

Eventually, Kurt’s sobs slow down and then stop, and Puck can feel him falling asleep. Puck doesn’t make a conscious decision to go ahead and fall asleep himself, but the next time his eyes open, the clock says it’s the middle of the night, fully dark outside and still an hour or two away from sunrise. Puck shifts to look at Kurt, who moves almost in response, and his eyelids start to move a few seconds later.

“Hey,” Puck whispers.

“Hi,” Kurt says. “What time is it?”

“A little after 4:30,” Puck says. “No sun yet.”

“How long?” Kurt asks.

“Eleven or twelve before I have to sign in, so… eight, probably,” Puck says.

“Okay,” Kurt says, rolling to face Puck. He runs his hand down Puck’s chest. “Do you want to sleep more?”

“No.”

Kurt’s hand trails lower. “What do you want, then?”

“The same thing you do,” Puck says, rolling them over until Kurt’s on his back and Puck’s propped up over him. Kurt’s hand moves even lower, until it’s loosely wrapped around Puck’s cock.

“Good,” Kurt says.

Puck leans down to kiss Kurt, then stops with his lips just above Kurt’s. “One thing first. Bedside table drawer? Or somewhere else?”

“Bedside table, condoms and lube,” Kurt says.

“Okay,” Puck says, then finishes leaning over, kissing slowly and open-mouthed as he runs one hand down Kurt’s side. He uses that hand on Kurt’s hip to pull Kurt a little closer, slowly lowering himself until their chests are almost touching. Kurt slides his free hand around to Puck’s lower back, rubbing a slow circle. Puck squeezes Kurt’s hip, bringing their cocks together for a moment before he releases Kurt and reaches towards the bedside table.

“How do you want to do this?” Kurt asks.

“Slow,” Puck says, then frowns a little. “Is like this not okay?” He gestures between them.

“I just meant, you’re on top?”

“Oh.” Puck grins as he picks up the bottle of lube. “I did ask you if you wanted me to take you, and you said yes…”

“I do,” Kurt says.

“Then we’re good.” Puck flips open the lube as he starts kissing Kurt again, just as slow and a little deeper. He runs his palm down Kurt’s side and then Kurt’s chest, holding his fingers up, then wraps his entire hand around Kurt’s cock and strokes it twice. He kisses Kurt harder as he slips one finger into him, pulling Kurt to him with his arm behind Kurt’s shoulders as he moves his hand and adds more fingers. Their kissing gets messier and harder while Puck slides his hand just a little faster, and he pulls back with a deep breath. “Okay?”

“Very okay,” Kurt says. “So good.” He arches his back and lifts his hips, moving with Puck.

“Good.” Puck kisses Kurt’s neck and chest as he rolls on a condom, stroking his lubed hand over it a few times, then nudges Kurt’s legs up. Everything that comes to mind to say feels too ridiculous or too practical, and finally Puck starts pushing inside Kurt so slowly that he has to imagine it’s excruciating for Kurt, too.

“Puck,” Kurt whines, pulling at Puck’s shoulder. “Faster. More.”

Puck suppresses the urge to smirk and instead goes just a little faster while he kisses Kurt again. “Better?” he asks once he’s stopped moving and is completely inside Kurt.

“Yes,” Kurt says, rocking his hips.

“Yeah,” Puck agrees, moving in and out of Kurt as slowly as he can without being too slow, and he runs his fingers over Kurt’s face and then down his chest. “It’s good.”

“God, yes, it’s good, it’s so good,” Kurt says. “Puck, Puck, you feel so good.” He pulls down on Puck’s shoulder again, lifting his head to kiss Puck.

Puck’s hand tugs up on Kurt’s hip as they kiss, and then he starts stroking Kurt’s cock just as slowly as he’s moving his own cock, kissing Kurt a little harder with each movement. He feels like he loves Kurt, loves him in a way that’s different from how he was as a teenager, but something in his brain says that saying it right then would make it all wrong, because the two of them in bed is enough on its own, and saying it is something that’s its own thing.

Puck pulls out of the kiss barely, his lips still nearly touching Kurt’s, and his hand tightens around Kurt at the same time. “Come with me?”

“Yes,” Kurt says. “Yes, oh god, Puck.” His back arches and relaxes, and he bucks his hips a few times, his nails digging into Puck’s back as he tightens around Puck’s cock.

“Beautiful,” Puck says as he pushes in harder than before and then comes, catching himself from falling on top of Kurt. Kurt’s arms wrap tightly around Puck, pulling him down.

“Thank you,” Kurt says quietly. “Thank you for understanding. For everything.”

Puck puts his arms around Kurt, rolling them sideways, and he can see the sun starting to rise. He holds Kurt for a long time, the sun getting higher and higher, and eventually he hears their stomachs rumbling.

“Europe’s just a stepping stone,” he says softly, not sure that Kurt can even make out his words, and even though their stomachs get more and more insistent, they don’t leave Kurt’s bed until Puck absolutely has to leave.

Puck has glitter on his hands and probably bags under his eyes when he gets on the transport, and he knows he probably reeks, too. Still, he’s in uniform and where he’s supposed to be, and he sinks back in his seat with a sigh, looking out the window to the northeast.

“Got someone in the city?” one of the guys asks after they get out over the Atlantic.

“Yeah, I guess I do,” Puck says slowly as he nods. “Someone in New York.”

Europe really is a different assignment, both more competitive and less. The people who want to stay in Europe are the friendliest to the people who want stateside eventually, and vice versa, plus there’s a lot of travel involved. Puck sends more souvenirs and postcards across the Atlantic than he ever expected to buy in his life.

It’s all good experience and amazing venues, but it comes at a cost Puck didn’t really expect: less leave time allotted, and the leave he is given, he’s expected to take mostly in smaller increments, not long enough to get to New York and back with more than five or six hours to really enjoy. Most of the time, he doesn’t take the leave, hoping that he can get a longer block later if not sooner.

Besides the postcards, they keep writing longhand, back and forth, and even though Puck knows he could still send Kurt a text or email, part of him likes saving it for when they’re about to actually see each other.

Kurt,

The first thing is that you have to change how you’re addressing my letters, now. No more ‘A1C Puckerman’, it’s ‘SrA Puckerman’. The promotion comes with an extra chevron, which meant changing out all my uniforms, and a little more pay, which I am not complaining about.

That was the good news: three years in and I’m E-4. The bad news: I’m not going to have any significant leave between now and the end of April, and on April 30, we’re starting a two and a half month long swing through Central and Eastern Europe, plus possibly some parts of Africa. That puts the earliest I could be back stateside at the beginning of August, and even that is looking unlikely. I’m sorry.

The funny news: we started goofing off after rehearsal today, and our CO apparently watched us for a good ten or fifteen minutes, scribbling down fake ‘awards’ to give each of us at dinner tonight. He gave me ‘Best Dancer’, and I doubled over laughing. Remember booty camp? I guess I should look up Mike and send him a thank you note? Or maybe just a copy of a picture of me with the award?

It’s weird to say I miss that, because I never would have thought that, but it’s some great memories. Remember how excited Finn was when he finally got that one turn down? It doesn’t really seem fair that he wasn’t even the worst dancer, not senior year, but by then that was just what everyone had decided. But think about our Sectionals performance – Finn wasn’t the weak link there.

Or you could do what I did in the middle of writing this, go to YouTube and look up show choir performances. I didn’t realize so many of ours were on there. I guess we’re lucky – we’re never going to have to worry about forgetting what his smile looked like or how his voice sounded or even how tall he was compared to us.

A couple of the guys came in while I was watching the videos and started watching too, standing behind me. They wanted to guess which one was you. Well, that’s not how they put it, they wanted to guess who my ‘someone in the city’ was—like I said, never mutter while half-asleep. The two of them picked out two different people. They were both right.

I’ll try to ship some olive oil or something so you can throw a dinner party and impress people with your genuine European olive oil. I sent Rachel a card but give her and Jesse a congratulatory hug for me anyway.

Miss you,
Puck

Most of the time, Puck works on a letter for at least a few days before he mails it, which means that it’s usually two to four weeks between each letter as they go back and forth, postcards interspersed more or less frequently. He has a feeling that the good news/bad news letter will get a quicker response, though, and it’s exactly thirteen days later that he gets an envelope with Kurt’s handwriting on it.

Dear Puck

Congratulations on your promotion! That is good news. As for the bad news, we both knew what your next few years could look like. I won’t pretend I’m not disappointed or that I don’t miss you, because I am and I do, but I am trying to focus on remembering that you’re there, that I can see your words written in your handwriting, and that however long it may be until I see you, I will see you.

Ah, booty camp. Mike never could quite get rid of my shimmy, though I don’t think you mind that overly much. You were always a better dancer than you were given credit for, and so was Finn by senior year. I don’t think either of you was given enough credit for your hard work or improvement, or for the areas where you had natural talent. I think “underappreciated” could have been the watchword for New Directions, or at least for most of us.

I don’t watch those videos anymore. I can’t. I’m too afraid that they’ll take the place of the actual memories I have of him. It’s bad enough forgetting the things I’ve already forgotten. I don’t remember how he smelled. I remember it was good, other than that one awful month junior year when he was practically bathing in that horrible Axe body spray Carole bought him.

Do you remember that? Nobody else would say or do anything about it. I finally snuck into his locker and threw the can away, and forbade Carole from buying him another one. I actually went through that section at the drugstore not that long ago to see if I could find it, but either it’s been discontinued or they all smell the same out of the can.

I always wanted to pick out a nice cologne for him. That and buy him a pair of jeans that fit the right way. What was it with you two and your stubborn need to disguise your asses with baggy denim and oversized flannel shirts? At the time, I suspected it was a straight boy thing, but I think we’ve suitably disproved that theory.

Play well and let me know if there’s even a chance of seeing you, even briefly.

Miss you too,
Kurt

The tour of Central and Eastern Europe and Northern Africa ends up being three months and a week long, and Puck waits until they’ve been back a week to talk to his CO about leave again. It takes ten minutes for his CO to get to the point, but it boils down to the fact that they want him ready to go to Airman Leadership School, back at Langley in Virginia, so they won’t authorize any extended leave until at least past the start of 2017.

Puck doesn’t tell Kurt about that in his letters, because maybe he’ll get sent over for ALS and have a few days or even a week on either side of it. If he doesn’t, there’s no point in Kurt feeling as hopeless about the leave situation as Puck does.

On the last Friday in September, though, Puck gets called into his CO’s office, along with one other guy in the band.

“Pack up. At 2100, you’re going over to Ramstein, and you’ll fly out of Frankfurt at 1055 with a group from Ramstein.” Their CO hands them each six boarding passes along with some other paperwork, and once they’re dismissed, Puck realizes he has two hours to pack up everything and make sure he’s at the right gate to get to Ramstein. That doesn’t leave him any time to do anything, and it’s too dark on the twenty minute drive to Ramstein to look at his boarding passes and the other information.

The shuttle to Frankfurt International leaves at 0730, and Puck looks through the information enough to realize there’s a nearly four hour layover at Heathrow the next afternoon, which should give him enough time to figure out if he’ll have any time for a side trip to New York.

Forty-five minutes into the layover, Puck realizes that he doesn’t really have the time for the side trip, but he does have an afternoon and an evening between when they land at Dulles and when he has to pull up at Langley, which means maybe Kurt could manage to get down to DC.

It takes him another thirty minutes to figure out when he could be at a recognizable meeting place in DC, and then he sends Kurt a text.

Suddenly I’m doing ALS at Langley starting Monday morning. Tomorrow afternoon evening in DC. I know it’s last last minute but if you can get to the Mall near the Smithsonian I should be there by 1130 Sun.

Yes! I will be there! Kurt texts back immediately.

Puck grins at his phone for a good five minutes before everyone decides that they’re going to eat, and he puts his phone away somewhat reluctantly. When Puck’s back on American soil, he understands why their connecting flight from Atlanta leaves twelve hours after they were supposed to land from Heathrow. The flight from London ends up being delayed, and by the time they’ve gotten their checked bags and eaten dinner, it’s past midnight, and there aren’t many flights going in and out at all.

The eight of them all waiting for the morning split into two groups of four and take a free shuttle to the Motel 6, where one room with four people, half a bed each, ends up running less than twenty dollars. They’re all up at 0500 and in workout clothes before they realize that the Motel 6 doesn’t have any equipment, so they all run for twenty-five minutes and take three minute showers so they can all be in the lobby drinking free coffee when the first shuttle to the airport pulls up at 0600.

The flight to Dulles is on time, thankfully, and somehow luck is with Puck: the shuttle to the Metro is waiting even after they collect their bags, there’s a train at the Metro station within just a few minutes, and there’s no delays on the way, which means Puck emerges from the Metro station and is standing on the Mall by 1045. Even though Puck told Kurt 1130, he still looks up and down the Mall several times, enough that one of the guys from Ramstein notices.

“Looking for someone?”

“Yeah, actually,” Puck says, still glancing to either side as they all walk slowly up the Mall towards the Capitol. “Even though it’s forty-five minutes early.”

“The mysterious someone in the city,” the other band guy says. “You know I’m practically obligated to get a picture or something.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Puck says dismissively, feeling both distracted and like he’s got some heightened awareness going on. All of them stop and take pictures of the Capitol, because generally, being enlisted means that most of them didn’t take family vacations. While Puck’s still holding his phone, it chimes with the tone he has assigned to Kurt.

A little early. Are you available?

Puck resists the temptation to look around before responding, and he types quickly. If you came out at the Smithsonian Metro look towards the Capitol.

I didn’t realize you’d be in uniform.

Puck laughs and turns around. Kurt waves. “Didn’t expect the uniform?” Puck asks as he starts walking towards Kurt.

“No,” Kurt says. “Luckily, even dressed alike, you’re easy to distinguish from the other men in uniform.”

“Yeah?” Puck asks, then decides the answer isn’t really all that important once Kurt’s within hugging and then kissing range, and he kisses Kurt hard. Kurt puts his arms around Puck’s neck and leans into him. Puck hears a couple of whistles and then applause from behind him, which must catch on, since it sounds like more than seven people clapping. Kurt seems oblivious to it, though, deepening the kiss.

Eventually Puck pulls back, running his hands through Kurt’s hair and over Kurt’s face, smiling at him. Kurt’s hands slide down Puck’s back, stopping at his belt.

“Hi,” Kurt says, smiling widely at Puck.

“Damn, I missed you.” Puck lets his hands rest on Kurt’s shoulders. “Sorry I don’t have more than today.”

“Today’s better than nothing. I’m not wasting the time we do have wishing we had more,” Kurt says. “You’re here. That’s what matters.”

“Hang on,” Puck says, turning to call over his shoulder without letting go of Kurt. “I’ll meet you guys at the barracks for the bus,” he says, and once they nod, he looks back at Kurt. “Okay. Where to?”

“There’s a Holiday Inn just a few blocks from here,” Kurt says.

“Sounds good,” Puck says, shouldering his bag and putting his other arm around Kurt’s shoulders as they start walking. “You think you’re up for a trip to Virginia in about five weeks?”

“If you’ll be there? Absolutely,” Kurt says, putting his arm around Puck’s waist.

“Apparently there’s a graduation of sorts, but the point of that is it says we can invite guests,” Puck explains. “We’ll have to sit through some kind of boring speech from a politician, but there’s free food.”

“You don’t mind bringing me to an event where your co-workers will see me?” Kurt asks.

“Okay, first of all, that’s pretty crazy to ask considering five minutes ago,” Puck says, grinning at Kurt as they wait for the light to change. “And second, I guess we do need… a term, I guess. I can’t introduce you as my someone from the city.”

“I just talk about you often enough that I guess everyone I know filled in their own terms,” Kurt says. “What do you want to call us?”

“I actually like calling you my someone from the city,” Puck admits, “it’s just not something most people understand right away.” He laughs. “I could call you my SO, but that could be bad if I mixed up SO and CO.”

“I admit that I don’t really like ‘boyfriend’,” Kurt says.

“Why? Too high school?”

“Too… temporary? Or too simple, if that makes sense.”

“Yeah, I think it does.” Puck thinks about it as they walk the last block towards the hotel, and as they get to the door, he shrugs a little. “What do you think about SO?”

“I think you’re about as significant to me as anyone could be,” Kurt say. “More than anyone else could be.”

“SO, then. Do we have reservations?”

“Under my name,” Kurt says.

“It’s probably cheaper if I use my military ID. Might as well take advantage of it, right?”

“If you want. I did get us a king room.”

Puck grins. “Good idea.” He has them swap the name the reservation’s under so they get the military discount, and after listening to the desk clerk rattle off a list of all the amenities they won’t be using, they take their keys and head to the elevator. Puck kisses Kurt again when the doors slide shut, not quite as frantically as before, but by the time the elevator reaches their floor, Puck says, “I hope our room’s close to the elevator and not on the other side of the building.”

“I hope I can get that uniform off of you without damaging anything,” Kurt says.

“I have a spare, and the base has a laundry service and everything,” Puck says as they head down the hall. “Except the shoes. No spares there. Here.” He unlocks the door, starting to reach for his tie to loosen it, then looks at Kurt. “Unless you wanted to do it all?”

“Take off the shoes. I’ll do the rest,” Kurt says.

“Got it,” Puck says, dropping his bag and taking off his shoes before moving a little closer to the bed, and he grins. “Do your worst. Or your best.”

Kurt smiles and starts carefully unknotting Puck’s tie. He slides it out from under Puck’s collar and sets it on the dresser. Next, Kurt unbuttons the jacket, slowly lowering it from Puck’s shoulders and down his arms. He drapes the jacket over the back of the chair near the dresser. Kurt unbuckles Puck’s belt, pulling it out of the loops and dropping it next to the tie on the dresser top.

“Am I doing my best so far?” Kurt asks.

“Oh yeah,” Puck says, feeling almost like he couldn’t stop grinning if he tried. “I had no idea how much I wanted you to do this.”

“I didn’t either, but apparently I really wanted to,” Kurt says. He runs his hands up Puck’s chest to his shirt collar, then begins working on the buttons, taking his time with each one. He presses his body against Puck’s while he undoes the buttons, his cock hard and pushing against Puck’s through their pants.

“I forgot you hadn’t seen me in uniform in years,” Puck says, putting his hands on Kurt’s ass. “Oh yeah and what did you mean you could still tell which one I was?”

“Puck, I’d know your ass in a bathrobe at two hundred yards,” Kurt says.

Puck laughs and squeezes his hands. “Why would I be two hundred yards away if all I had on was a bathrobe?”

“Maybe we’d be on a cruise ship or some secluded island resort,” Kurt says, untucking Puck’s shirt from his pants to get the last buttons. “A villa in the US Virgin Islands, maybe. Something with an infinity pool and frozen drinks.”

“I’m really going to have to save up my leave,” Puck says. “I used to think an infinity pool was a sideways ‘8’, you know.”

Kurt laughs, pushing Puck’s shirt off his shoulders. “Of course, if we’re in a secluded villa, there’s probably no need for a bathrobe, anyway.”

“That was my point,” Puck says, moving his hands long enough for his shirt to fall off. “Maybe frozen drinks around a pool need a bathrobe, though.”

“In the pool, then.” Kurt slips his hands into the waist of Puck’s pants to snag the hem of his undershirt. He slowly draws the shirt up, letting his fingers drag against Puck’s stomach and abs. When he has the undershirt up to Puck’s chest, he leans forward and kisses Puck, rubbing his face against Puck’s stomach as he slowly lowers himself to his knees in front of Puck. Kurt kisses Puck’s stomach again, dropping his hands back down to Puck’s pants. He undoes the fly, laughing a little.

“What?” Puck asks, pulling off his undershirt and dropping it on top of his shirt.

“It’s funny that military dress is the time you can’t go commando,” Kurt says. He pulls on the waistband of Puck’s pants, until the pants drop and Puck can step out of them, and he presses his lips to Puck’s cock through his underwear, his breath warm.

“Let’s just say I decided being denied leave at any point because of being written up for uniform violations was an irony I wanted to avoid,” Puck says, running his fingers through Kurt’s hair. “Shit, Kurt.”

Kurt looks up at Puck and smiles, lips still against Puck’s cock through the fabric, then he starts to slowly pull Puck’s underwear down. His lips brush against the head of Puck’s cock.

“Also I’m technically already in violation.” Puck puts his other hand on Kurt’s head, too. “No garters or whatever they call them.”

Kurt mock-frowns. “So bad,” he says, touching his lips to Puck’s cock again and licking the very tip.

“I think this is where the cliche goes, but let’s skip that,” Puck says.

“Yes,” Kurt says, then takes the head of Puck’s cock in his mouth, his tongue swirling around it. Puck’s hands stop moving and he catches his breath for a moment.

“Shit, Kurt, it’s… I… shit, I missed you.”

Kurt’s eyes meet Puck’s as his mouth slowly slides down Puck’s cock, taking him deeper and deeper. He wraps one hand loosely around the base, and cups Puck’s balls with the other hand.

Puck starts running his fingers through Kurt’s hair again, staring down at Kurt, and he bites down on his lip briefly. “Let’s lose track of time,” he says softly.

Kurt nods, still looking into Puck’s eyes as he starts to bob his head slightly, tongue swirling around the head and shaft of Puck’s cock. Puck maintains their eye contact even when he wants to close his eyes, watching Kurt’s face, and he forces himself to hold almost completely still as Kurt moves.

“When we’re at that villa, can we skinny dip in the infinity pool?”

Kurt nods again, pulling back a little before taking Puck even deeper into his mouth, so deep that Puck hits the back of Kurt’s throat. He rolls Puck’s balls gently on his palm, applying light pressure behind them.

“If we get a chill, we can use the bathrobes like blankets.” Puck presses his lips together and his hips rock forward a little. Kurt pulls back and then down again, his nose nudging Puck’s lower stomach. Puck opens his mouth again, then cries out instead as he starts to come, and it takes him a little by surprise. “Fuck, Kurt,” he almost whines.

Kurt swallows around him, running his tongue lightly up Puck’s cock as he pulls back, letting Puck slide from his mouth. He looks up at Puck and smiles.

“Hi,” Kurt says.

Puck grins back down at Kurt. “Hey. Can I take you to bed?”

“Oh yes,” Kurt says. “Take me there, keep me there.”

“Good idea,” Puck says, starting to walk them over to the bed and undress Kurt at the same time. They do stay in the bed for hours, through the sun setting and one pizza delivery that requires Puck to get out of the bed for approximately forty-five seconds, and it isn’t until it’s nearly midnight that Puck even starts to think about the fact that he has to leave sooner than later.

He wraps his arms around Kurt, pulling him close, and turns on one of the lamps near the bed. “Are you flying back in the morning?” he asks quietly.

“I’m staying another day to see my dad,” Kurt says. “I don’t see much of him lately.”

“Oh, yeah, I guess he would be down here. I guess sometimes I imagine… like that we’re the only ones out here, and everything else’s bronzed. Like baby shoes.”

“I know what you mean. It’s different with you. Everything else seems like it’s standing still, and we’re the only things still moving.”

“Yeah. Like it’s the boring version of Disney World. You can always go ride It’s a Small World or whatever.” Puck shrugs and kisses Kurt. “Hey,” he says, his brain jumping to a new idea. “What are you doing at the end of December?”

“Nothing special. We haven’t really done anything for Christmas since Finn,” Kurt says.

“I bet I could get a visitor’s pass and 48 hours or so, especially if it’s one of the nights of Hanukkah that’s not Christmas or Christmas Eve.”

“You don’t need to see your mother or Alyssa?” Kurt asks, but the tone of his voice makes it sound more like he’s trying to make a point of remembering other people exist than it does anything else.

“Alyssa loves my ability to use Amazon Prime and her wishlist,” Puck says with a snort. “Even if I did want to see my mom, she hates flying.” Puck laughs. “Pretty funny I joined the Air Force when you think about it.”

“I never did ask. Why the Air Force?” Kurt asks, moving his head to rest against Puck’s chest.

“Bad memory, partially,” Puck admits sheepishly. “I would have sworn the Top Gun guys were Air Force. We used to watch it a lot.”

“You and Finn,” Kurt says softly. “I remember how much he loved it. He’d watch it any time it was on TBS.”

“Yeah. So… it seemed like the right choice. I had to get out of there, and I didn’t actually want to end up in jail.”

“It seems like the right choice to me, even if I wish you didn’t have to go back to Europe,” Kurt says. He runs his fingers down Puck’s chest and back up again.

“I mean it, come over at the end of December. There’s only forty-five of us, including my CO, in our little division.”

“Okay. I’d love to,” Kurt says. “It’s not like I have to worry about finding someone to water my plants. I can go anywhere, any time.”

“I’ll send back that Chia Pet I was going to get you for Halloween, then,” Puck says. He pulls Kurt closer and kisses him slowly. “You want to get dressed and come with me to get the bus, or you want me to leave you tucked in this bed?”

“Option C, you miss the bus and we both go on the run from the Air Force,” Kurt says.

“I don’t think being on the run includes that villa, though.”

Kurt sighs and nods. “Okay. Option A, then. Even if it’s only an extra thirty minutes with you, I want it.”

“Yeah. It’s only five weeks this time, at least. I’ll send you all the info, you can find us a place near the base?”

“Yes. Anything special you want me to bring?”

“You. No bathrobes.”

“Mmm. I can arrange that,” Kurt says, lifting his head and kissing Puck again.

Puck is not one of the five people who claim to have already been waiting when the bus pulled up, but he’s still there before—just before—the time marked on their paperwork. Once his bag is put away, Puck doesn’t see any reason to get on the bus until absolutely required, so he stands on the sidewalk with Kurt, mostly silent, before kissing him a final time and both of them saying it’s only five weeks.

The ride to Langley takes four hours, which Puck assumes is the only sleep he’ll get in the next thirty-three to thirty-six hours, so once it starts, he drops off almost immediately, like almost everyone else, and sure enough, after they’re checked in and assigned sleeping quarters, they’re all informed there’s only thirty minutes before breakfast is served and seventy-five minutes before the first class convenes. The guy who’s also at Sembach, Davis, asks Puck over breakfast if he wishes he’d slept instead of ‘whatever’ he was doing.

“Nah, I’ll catch up on sleep within a week.” He shrugs. “It’d been almost a full year.”

Davis and a couple of the others whistle, and Davis shakes his head. “Damn. Say no more.”

Puck never thought about the Air Force requiring him to go back to school of any type, and at twenty-three, he’s definitely out of practice when it comes to schoolwork, but it’s not hard, and by halfway through the five week course, Puck feels like he’s at least found his groove.

“You should get married.”

Puck looks up from his lunch at Davis blankly. “Uh. What?”

“You and your Kurt. You should get married. That’d solve your almost-a-year problem,” Davis says, looking pleased with himself as he sits down across from Puck.

“I’m not going to just club him over the head and drag him back to Germany,” Puck says slowly. “He’s got a career and everything.”

Davis laughs. “Yeah, I’d like to see you try that, I think. No, it seems like if you’ve got immediate family, you’re more likely to get a big block of leave approved, right? Or visitor passes on base.”

“There’s nothing in the regs about that.”

“There’s nothing in the regs about a lot of things that we know to be true,” Davis says with a snort. “Just something to think about.”

Puck changes the subject after nodding, and over the next week or so he glares at Davis a few times when Davis isn’t paying attention. In his own head, Puck can admit that when Kurt mentioned a fancy vacation spot, his first thought hadn’t actually been saving up money and leave, but that it sounded like a honeymoon plan.

Of course, that had been about thirty minutes after they’d actually established a term for their relationship, so Puck’d made the comment about leave and put it in the back of his head. Davis’s comment, though, makes Puck think about it again. If they’re not headed that way, Puck doesn’t know what they are doing, and if they are, like Puck thinks, Puck realizes he has no actual idea of what time frame or frames Kurt would like best – or what Puck himself would pick.

A day and a half before graduation, the Commandant calls Puck into her office and informs him that for whatever reason, he’s been approved for an additional eleven days of leave, beginning as soon as graduation concludes. He has to find his own way back to Germany, or at least to the Frankfurt airport, but eleven days minus travel means ten days of actual leave. Puck’s phone is in his hand, message half-typed out, before he decides that he’d actually like to see Kurt’s face when he tells him, and it’s only thirty or so hours before he can.

They aren’t given a chance to see any of their guests before the graduation, which means all that’s left is pushing past some proud parents and spouses to get to Kurt, then sitting through a formal meal.

“Hey,” Puck says, grinning widely and pulling Kurt into a hug, because it’s possible the Commandant and other officers might not applaud the way everyone on the Mall did.

“Hi! Congratulations,” Kurt says, hugging Puck back. “I missed you, which sounds crazy, since it’s only been five weeks this time.”

“Nah, I missed you pretty much as soon as I woke up on the bus when it got here,” Puck says, turning them towards the door to the dining area. “But guess what?”

“What?”

“As of yesterday, I’ve got ten extra days before I have to head back. Starting as soon as we finish eating.”

“Really?” Kurt asks. “Can you come back to New York with me?”

“Anywhere you want to go,” Puck says, still grinning. “Ten full days.”

“Maybe we’ll start at my loft and find somewhere to go from there, since I only have a few things with me,” Kurt says, putting his arm around Puck’s waist.

“The only non-uniform stuff I have in this entire country is a pair of jeans and two t-shirts,” Puck says. “So we either have to go shopping or do laundry or…”

“I actually can vote for Option C this time!” Kurt says. “I vote strongly for Option C.”

“Me too. We can start that tonight? You found a place?”

“Yes, and tomorrow we’ll get ourselves up to the city, and then we won’t worry about clothes.”

Puck grins as they sit down at one of the tables. “That sounds perfect.”

By dinnertime on day four, they haven’t gone shopping or done laundry, though Puck guesses he cheated a little by traveling in uniform. They eat more takeout for dinner, mostly because neither of them wants to take the time to run to buy groceries than that they can’t or won’t cook. After they eat and put the leftovers away, Puck sits down on the sofa, pulling Kurt against his side.

“So Davis had an interesting suggestion for me a couple of weeks ago. For us, actually.”

“Oh? And what was Davis’s suggestion?” Kurt asks, leaning his head on Puck.

“He says we should get married.”

“Oh,” Kurt says softly. He’s silent for a few minutes, and Puck shifts a little as he waits. “What do you think about that?” Kurt finally asks.

“I think that when you mentioned that villa where we were going to go skinny dipping, my first thought was actually that it sounds like something to save for the honeymoon.”

“Oh,” Kurt repeats.

“Oh?” Puck asks.

“I thought the same thing,” Kurt says. “When I said it, that’s what I was thinking.”

Puck laughs for a second and kisses the side of Kurt’s head. “I bet of all the things you imagined when you were younger, being a military spouse wasn’t one of them.”

“That’s true. It doesn’t seem so strange now, though,” Kurt says.

“Any thoughts on when?”

“When would you be able to get leave?”

“Before ALS, they were telling me it’d be 2017,” Puck admits. “I didn’t tell you ’cause it was bad enough hearing it without writing it. I wasn’t expecting this leave right now, but I think if I put in dates and said why, I’d probably get it.” He stops and snorts. “Of course, it’s only, what, seven weeks until 2017 now?”

“How would this all work? Would I move to Europe? Would it make them more likely to station you in DC?” Kurt asks.

“I told Davis I wasn’t clubbing you over the head and dragging you by the hair to Germany,” Puck says. “I feel like most of the spouses over there are mostly miserable, you know? I think it does make a stateside assignment more likely. A little easier to get leave, visitor’s passes, that kind of thing.”

“Maybe we should do it soon, then,” Kurt says. “If it means I could see you for more than a few days, maybe twice a year if we’re lucky.”

“Yeah, I’d definitely like that.” Puck kisses Kurt slowly, his hands on either side of Kurt’s face. “What’s your definition of ‘soon’?”

“I don’t need it to be big, but we’ll need a place to do it, and enough time to make sure you can get leave,” Kurt says.

“You want me in uniform? We could go all patriotic and do it somewhere in DC.”

“Definitely in uniform. Tux for me,” Kurt says. “I think DC makes the most sense.”

“As long as I get leave, we could let your dad pull a string or two and find a place, maybe,” Puck says.

“I’m sure he could do that. So, we should make this formal. Will you marry me?” Kurt asks.

Puck grins and kisses Kurt again before responding. “Yeah, I’ll marry you.”

“Just one thing, though.”

“The villa has to wait for an anniversary?”

Kurt shakes his head. “No. I’m not buying one of those tacky ‘Property of an Airman’ sweatshirts. I draw the line there.”

Puck laughs. “You could just steal one of my old PT t-shirts as workout clothes.” He runs his hand over Kurt’s shoulder and arm a few times. “I have one thing, too.”

“I won’t make you wear a ‘Broadway Widower’ sweater, either,” Kurt says.

“Do they make those? Because I think that’s funny,” Puck admits. “But no, I think… I think we should skip the whole attendants thing. Best man thing. We’d want the same one, anyway, if things were different.”

“If things were different…” Kurt sighs and snuggles closer to Puck.

“I know.” Puck holds Kurt there, pressed against him, for a long time. “I’ll put in a request as soon as I land, and actually email the dates to you.”

“Good. Now, can we go back to our regularly scheduled week of no clothes?”

“Absolutely.”

Things go incredibly smoothly for the next few weeks, including all of Puck’s flights back to Germany, his request for leave approved for the beginning of April, and all of the details of Kurt’s visit, too. Puck borrows Wilson’s car and drives to the airport to pick Kurt up the day after Christmas, not really trusting the shuttle that’s supposed to run. He gets there just before Kurt’s flight lands, despite his best efforts to be early, so he plants himself in the arrivals area.

“Puck!” Kurt’s voice calls out across the room. Puck turns and grins, watching Kurt walk towards him. Kurt walks faster, then breaks into a sprint, running to Puck and almost colliding into a kiss.

Puck wraps his arms around Kurt and resists the urge to try to pick him up a little, even though he’s more than ninety-nine percent sure he could. “Hi,” he says, still grinning. “Welcome to Germany?”

“I missed you,” Kurt says. “April’s too far away!”

“Missed you, too. Only one bag?”

“Do I really need more than one bag of clothes on this trip?” Kurt asks.

“I still have to rehearse tomorrow during the day, but the rest of the time, I’m technically excused from duty until you leave,” Puck says, taking Kurt’s suitcase and keeping one arm around him. “And I think the other forty-four in my group all want to meet you. Including Davis, even though he technically met you.”

“As long as I have a chance to freshen up first,” Kurt says. “I don’t want to meet forty-four people looking like I just got off an eight hour flight!”

“Or maybe you should wait for lunch tomorrow, or you’re going to meet forty-four people looking like I just had you naked in bed,” Puck says as they head for the exit.

“I think they’ll all figure out that’s where you had me, whether I look like it or not,” Kurt teases.

“Nah, I could have had you naked in a shower.”

“Not both?”

“Not at the same time.”

Except for not mixing the mattress and the water from the shower, within a few hours Puck feels like they’ve taken care of ‘both’, and he rolls onto his side, arms around Kurt. “We can do that every night you’re here.”

“Sounds perfect,” Kurt says. “Maybe one day we’ll be able to do that every night, period.”

“I don’t get to slack off on PT, that’s for sure then,” Puck says. “And I used to think I put my arms through hell.”

“Can’t argue with the results, though,” Kurt says, running his hand lightly over one of Puck’s biceps.

“Oh yeah? But not so good before?” Puck jokes.

“You’ve always had great arms and you know it,” Kurt says.

“Appreciation never hurts, either.” Puck slides his hand down Kurt’s back and leaves it on Kurt’s ass. “You’ve always had a great shimmy, too.”

“Mmm, but not always greatly appreciated,” Kurt says, “whereas your arms…”

“Oh, I was always aware it was a great shimmy.” Puck laughs suddenly. “Did I ever tell you about what Finn and I spent a day doing, winter break senior year?”

“I don’t think so. Is it a dirty story?” Kurt asks, waggling his eyebrows.

“Is the two of us spending the day shaking our asses a dirty story?”

“It could be,” Kurt says. “Especially if you tell it right.”

“Disappointingly, we were dressed the whole time. Though… we might have had on workout shorts, now that I think about it. You were out somewhere, and Burt and Carole were at work, and we were watching the Sectionals performance, and somehow we got the idea we should try to imitate everyone else’s dancing. Not Mike’s, we didn’t want to sprain anything, but everyone else.” Puck pauses. “Sam was a really bad dancer, by the way.”

“Oh yes, he really was,” Kurt says. “And wait, did you imitate my dancing, too?”

“Well, that’s where we got stuck,” Puck admits, grinning at Kurt. “Neither one of us could quite master that shimmy of yours, and trust me, we were analyzing it. And each other.”

“You were analyzing me, hmm?”

“Appreciating, analyzing, all of it.” Puck stops for a moment, then shrugs. “I always felt like we had this unspoken understanding, like summer before senior year onward, that either one of us would have taken the opportunity with you, if it were offered.”

“No, I don’t think so,” Kurt says, shaking his head. “I think that whatever we felt—feel—about Finn, I’m sure he was probably straight as a board.”

“Umm…” Puck says. “That’s… not exactly true.”

“Did he ever say anything?”

“There actually wasn’t very much talking involved,” Puck says a little sheepishly.

“Wait. Are you trying to tell me—” Kurt sits up slightly. “Puck!”

“Hey, I told you years ago that I loved him,” Puck says. “It just wasn’t entirely theoretical.”

“But you never told me anything had really happened between you. Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Well, I mean, I didn’t tell anyone, obviously, and then I thought maybe it sounded too much like…” Puck shrugs. “Too much like something you hadn’t been able to have.”

“Puck,” Kurt says softly. “No. I would’ve been happy for you, for both of you. I’m glad you had that with him. I hope that means he knew how you felt. I could never resent something between the two of you or be envious. I love you. Both.”

“I know. I love you, too. I like to think that he’d be glad, you know?”

“I think so, too,” Kurt says. “And he’s always been a part of this. Sometimes I think it’s a little strange, us marrying each other and both of us also loving someone who’s been gone for so long. Nearly four years.” He leans against Puck, sighing quietly. “It’s hard to think about it being almost four years.”

“It feels like yesterday. And a lot longer.” Puck runs his fingers over Kurt’s cheek and into his hair. “A little strange, yeah, and probably most people wouldn’t understand, but also really normal at the same time.”

“When I think about us, I think about him. It’s probably not healthy. There’s probably something wrong with me,” Kurt says.

“What’s ‘healthy’?” Puck says skeptically. “We have a relationship, we have careers, we can feed and dress ourselves, and I even finally learned how to get sweat stains out of my t-shirts. That’s pretty healthy, all things considered.”

“I don’t want you to feel like this isn’t enough for me, though,” Kurt says. “I’m not pining away over some idealized fantasy of Finn Hudson. I just… miss him. And when we’re together, when we remember him together, it makes it a little better.”

“I know.” Puck kisses Kurt softly. “Anyway, the goofy, non-ideal parts were kind of the best parts.”

“They were. Like the time he tried to cook a chicken for family dinner night, but he waited too late to put it in, so he cranked the oven temperature up to four-fifty, thinking it would cut the cooking time in half,” Kurt says. “The house stank like burned chicken for days.”

Puck laughs. “He never did learn about cooking. When we were sophomores, or maybe freshmen, we tried making everything high-protein for a month or two. Except, well, we still wanted to eat a lot of sandwiches, right? So Finn decided that the answer was to make our own bread. Substituting protein shakes for all the liquid ingredients.”

“Oh no! That sounds horrible!”

“Chocolate protein sandwich bread is pretty much as awful-tasting as it sounds,” Puck says, shaking his head. “But he tried it again in the dorm kitchen. Protein powder substituted for some of the flour.”

“Oh dear,” Kurt says, pressing his face against Puck as he laughs. “Was it a bread brick?”

Puck nods. “Looked perfectly normal on the outside. Even the slices just looked a little denser than usual, until you tried to actually chew it.”

“But he ate it anyway, didn’t he?” Kurt asks.

“Yeah. I may have, too.”

“God, he would eat anything,” Kurt says, still shaking with quiet laughter. “He had a stomach like a goat’s. When he and Carole were packing up to move to the new house, he found a bag of chips under his bed that had expired three years earlier. And he ate them!”

“Did he say something about them being a little stale, but that was no reason to let them go to waste?”

“Yes! Exactly that!”

Puck laughs, shaking his head a little. “I swear, you could have handed him sour milk, and that would have been what he would have said, between sips.”

“I don’t know how he didn’t get sick. Iron constitution, I suppose,” Kurt says.

“Yeah, had to be.” Puck pulls Kurt closer to him. “It’s always going to feel like this, isn’t it? Still sharp, I mean.”

“I thought it would get better,” Kurt says. “It hasn’t. Now I think that maybe it won’t. Maybe what we’re doing, the way we talk about him… maybe it keeps it sharp.”

“I don’t know. Maybe we were all too young and too old at the same time, and he was too important.”

Kurt nods. “I would rather it be too sharp, if it means we can remember everything. Even forgetting little things makes me feel sick. I was thinking about the weird way he tied his shoes the other day, but I forgot how he did it. I started crying in the middle of the bodega.”

“See, now that? I remember,” Puck admits. “Mainly because I was ten before my mom trained me out of copying how Finn did it.”

“Will you show me? Not right now, obviously, because you’re not allowed out of this bed.”

Puck laughs. “Yeah, next time I’m allowed out of bed, I’ll show you.”

“But not right now,” Kurt says.

“No,” Puck agrees, pulling the blanket up a little higher and rolling them again until Kurt is mostly on top of Puck. “Not right now.”

Puck doesn’t actually drag Kurt out to meet all forty-four other members of the European band until dinner the next night, after rehearsal and a chance to take Kurt on a very abbreviated tour.

“Ignore anything Sanchez says about himself, he’s convinced he’s a genius whose talent is wasted here, but everyone else is pretty cool,” Puck says to Kurt just before opening the door to the mess.

“Okay. Noted,” Kurt says. “Here we go.”

“We meet again!” Davis calls across the room as soon as Puck and Kurt are both in the room, which makes everyone turn towards them.

“Think junior prom,” Puck whispers. “Wave and get ’em eating out of your hand.”

“You owe me a crown,” Kurt says out of the corner of his mouth, then smiles brightly. “Hello, everyone!”

There’s a lot of waving and a chorus of hellos, and Puck shakes his head, whispering into Kurt’s ear. “No, I was just going to put a ring on it.”

Kurt laughs. “Acceptable.”

After Puck and Kurt actually sit down with food, the seats in front of them end up being the hot seat, people sitting down and introducing themselves and talking for a moment before getting up, and Puck estimates they’re only about fifty-five percent done when Padowski sits down in front of them.

“Benjamin Padowski,” he says, offering his hand to Kurt. Kurt takes his hand and shakes it.

“Nice to meet you, Benjamin,” Kurt says. “So, what instrument do you play?”

“Trumpet,” Padowski says. “Did I hear correctly that your last name is Hummel?” Kurt nods. “I know this is a crazy long shot, but you aren’t related to Congressman Hummel of Ohio in any way, are you?”

Kurt looks startled. “I’m his son. Are you from his district?”

“Get out!” Padowski looks pleased with himself. “Town called Wapakoneta, right off I–75.”

“Seriously?” Puck says. “You’re from Wapakoneta?”

“We’re both from Lima,” Kurt says. “How did the two of you not realize this earlier?”

“I don’t think anyone in the room had any idea Puckerman was even from Ohio,” Padowski says, and Puck shrugs. “Or that his Kurt was a Congressman’s son.”

“It’s just the Ohio 4th,” Kurt says.

“Ohio’s an important state, and I’m not just saying that because of home state pride,” Padowski says. “And hey, no wonder you got that extra leave.”

Puck blinks and looks at Kurt. “Why would your dad care about my leave?”

“He never said anything about your leave,” Kurt says. “I told him we’d been seeing each other, when I stayed with him in DC last September. He reacted a little strangely at first, but I had chalked it up to, well.” He tilts his head in the way they both use to indicate they’re talking about Finn, without actually talking about him.

“Maybe he was trying to figure out how to convince you to wear one of those sweaters you won’t wear,” Puck says after nodding twice.

“Well, it was great meeting you, Kurt,” Padowski says. “I can tell by the look on Sanchez’s face that it’s his turn. Tell your dad I’m a big fan.”

“I’ll do that. Thank you. Very nice to meet you.”

Padowski shakes Kurt’s hand again and gets up, the parade continuing, and Puck waits until they’re walking out of the mess alone to bring it up again. “Do you really think your dad could have pulled some strings? That was weird, getting leave right after ALS.”

“Maybe he did. If so, it was very sweet,” Kurt says. “I guess he could see how happy I am with you.”

“I’m definitely not complaining if he did,” Puck agrees. “We probably deserve a few strings being pulled.” Walking around base with Kurt, Puck can admit to himself that there would only be upsides for him if Kurt were to move, but he equally can’t see Kurt being happy in Germany for more than a few weeks. “Oh, so… remember months ago, how you mentioned cologne in that letter?”

“Yes. I tried looking, but I got too sad,” Kurt says.

“Oh, well, when we were in Austria a couple of weeks ago, I found this store, and I couldn’t decide, so I brought four of them back.”

“Oh. Well… you should let me try them,” Kurt says. “We’ll pick out the one we like best for him.”

“Yeah.” Puck nods, realizing how odd it probably would sound to someone else at the same time it feels completely normal for them. They stop by Puck’s bunk and he gets a few things, including the cologne, before they head to the room where Kurt’s staying. Puck locks the door behind them when they get inside, and pulls off Kurt’s sweater and his own shirt before sitting down on the bed with Kurt and silently putting the four bottles on the bed in front of them.

“So, are we going to try them on?” Kurt asks, staring at the bottles. “Or should we do like they do at the mall, with the little strips of paper?”

“Paper’s probably not accurate. Between the two of us maybe it’d be closer,” Puck says. “The guy in the store kept talking about how men’s cologne in the US doesn’t have a lot of lemony notes or something, but European ones do.”

“We’ll do one on each wrist, then, two apiece? Or maybe we should try one at a time, both of us try it, and we’ll wash off in between,” Kurt says.

“Yeah, the second one,” Puck says. “Which one first?”

Kurt puts his hand out, hovering over the bottles for a long moment before he picks one up. “This one.”

“Okay.” Puck holds out his wrist.

Kurt spritzes a small amount onto Puck’s wrist, then his own, rubbing his wrists together. He sniffs his own wrist and frowns slightly. “Hmm.”

Puck sniffs at his wrist, then picks up Kurt’s and sniffs again, then shakes his head. “It’s not quite right.”

“It’s too sweet. He wouldn’t wear it,” Kurt says. “Smells too much like perfume.”

“I was going to say it smelled too much like BO, but yeah, definitely too sweet,” Puck agrees. “Wash our wrists off?”

“Yes. This one isn’t right at all,” Kurt says. He stands up and takes Puck’s hand, leading him to the sink, where they wash their wrists with soap and water.

“I’ll give it to Sanchez anonymously,” Puck says. “And then watch people think he’s got a problem with showering regularly.”

“Poor Sanchez.”

“You obviously didn’t talk to him long enough to fully appreciate his personality,” Puck says as they sit back down on the bed.

“Number two?” Kurt asks, picking up another bottle of cologne and gesturing at Puck’s wrist.

“Let’s give it a go,” Puck says, holding out his wrist again. Before Kurt finishes putting it on himself, Puck is already sniffing at his, and he shakes his head. “I don’t think this is it at all.”

“It’s too musky,” Kurt says. “I don’t think I want to smell it anymore.”

Puck shakes his head again, and this time he walks towards the sink first. “No. You think third time’s the charm?”

“Maybe,” Kurt says, though he doesn’t sound too hopeful. Puck sits on the edge of the bed, wrist turned up. Kurt picks up the third bottle and sprays Puck’s wrists, then his own. This time, Puck doesn’t smell his own wrists first, instead lifting one towards Kurt while he bends towards Kurt’s wrists. Kurt sniffs Puck’s wrist. “Oh,” he says quietly.

“Yeah,” Puck says equally quietly. “It’s like him with just a little bit of something else.”

“I didn’t think…” Kurt trails off, closing his eyes as he smells Puck’s wrist again.

“I know. Me either. It’s uncanny.”

“Should we— maybe we should go wash off,” Kurt says. He doesn’t make any movement towards standing, though, just presses his nose to Puck’s wrist.

“Or we could not wash it off, instead.”

Kurt nods. “Yes,” he says.

“I don’t care how weird it is if you don’t,” Puck says, running his other hand across Kurt’s shoulder and down his arm before picking up his hand and bringing Kurt’s wrist up.

“I don’t, either,” Kurt says. He rubs his face against Puck’s wrist and arm, moving up to Puck’s shoulder, which he kisses. “It’s right. It smells right.”

“It hasn’t for a long time,” Puck whispers. “I love you. I love him.”

“Yes. I love you. I love him.” Kurt kisses the side of Puck’s neck, nuzzling behind his ear.

Puck moves the bottles off the bed, then puts his hand on Kurt’s waist and lies back, pulling Kurt with him. “Tell me what you want, Kurt.”

“I want you inside me,” Kurt says. “Please.”

Puck nods, sliding both of his hands to Kurt’s ass and squeezing it as they kiss. He puts one hand between them, slowly working on unfastening Kurt’s pants, and he moves his mouth to Kurt’s jaw and neck as he does. Kurt gasps softly, putting one hand on the back of Puck’s neck.

“Here is good,” Puck mumbles against Kurt’s neck, finally finishing with Kurt’s pants and starting to push them down. He runs his hand over Kurt’s bare skin, squeezing again. “Help me get my pants down.”

“Yes,” Kurt says, reaching between them and undoing Puck’s pants. When he’s unfastened them, he cups Puck’s cock through his underwear. “God. You’re so hard.”

Puck squeezes Kurt’s ass, pulling Kurt even closer. “So’re you.”

“Maybe there’s something wrong with us,” Kurt says. He takes Puck’s earlobe gently between his teeth as he strokes Puck’s cock.

Puck wraps his arms tightly around Kurt and rolls them over. “Then I like having something wrong with me, and with you.”

“So do I,” Kurt murmurs into Puck’s ear. “I don’t want to forget.” He pushes down on Puck’s pants and underwear, pushing them past Puck’s ass before returning his hand to Puck’s cock.

“We won’t. I promise,” Puck says quietly. He puts his hand between them again, running his fingers up and down Kurt’s cock. Kurt whimpers and squirms under him, stroking Puck’s cock a little more roughly.

Puck reaches to the side for the bottle of lube, flipping it open with one hand while his other hand keeps moving on Kurt. He kisses down Kurt’s chest, then slides one slick finger inside Kurt at the same time that he runs his tongue across the tip of Kurt’s cock. Kurt cries out, grabbing Puck’s head in both hands.

“Oh please, oh please,” Kurt says. “Please.”

Puck looks up and grins briefly before taking Kurt into his mouth, putting a second finger inside Kurt at the same time, and he moves his head and his hand at the same slow, steady speed. Kurt makes a long, low whining noise, thrusting up into Puck’s mouth.

Please,” Kurt repeats.

“Yeah,” Puck agrees as he pulls his mouth off Kurt, his hand moving from inside Kurt to around his own cock, stroking it quickly. He nudges his head against Kurt’s legs, then lifts one with his other hand. “I love you.”

“I know. I love you.”

Puck pushes inside Kurt, bending Kurt’s leg more as he moves, and he puts his other hand on Kurt’s cock, fingers loosely wrapped around it. “Like this?”

“More,” Kurt says.

“Don’t take my time?”

“We don’t have enough time,” Kurt says. “Please.”

“Oh, Kurt,” Puck says, pushing in faster and bending down to kiss Kurt. Kurt always insists that they have time, even on the day they only had hours in DC, and Puck doesn’t really know what it means—Kurt probably doesn’t either—just that it means something. He strokes Kurt’s cock and kisses Kurt harder.

Kurt tosses his head side to side, eyes closed. “Puck, oh god, Puck.”

“I know,” Puck says. He lifts Kurt’s leg, almost bending Kurt in half, and puts his hand on the bed, bracing himself as he pushes into Kurt faster.

Kurt’s face turns towards Puck’s arm. Kurt breathes in deeply, then his breath catches, hitches, and he lets out a tiny, choked sob of “Finn!”

“I know,” Puck repeats, his movements slowing a little as he kisses Kurt’s face. “I know, Kurt.”

Kurt puts his arms around Puck’s neck, pulling him into a kiss as he rocks and bucks his hips under Puck. Puck slides his arm under Kurt’s shoulders, bringing their chests together as he keeps stroking Kurt’s cock and thrusting into him. He moves faster again, then speeds up even more.

“Love you,” Puck mutters against Kurt’s lips. “Love you, love him, Kurt, Finn, love you.”

Kurt cries out loudly, pulling Puck down against him and into him as he starts to come, spurting all over Puck’s hand and both their stomachs. Puck thrusts into Kurt hard another time, then feels himself coming and hears himself calling out a name. Kurt holds Puck close, trembling under him.

“I love you, I love you,” Kurt whispers.

“I love you,” Puck says, kissing all over Kurt’s face. “I love you so much.”

“I don’t want to leave. I don’t want to go home,” Kurt says, tears starting to roll down his face. “I don’t want to go home without you.”

“I know. I know,” Puck says helplessly, kissing the teartracks. “It won’t be too much longer. It won’t be like this year.”

“I miss you so much. I hate it. I hate it.”

“I know. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”

“I could stay,” Kurt says. “I could stay in Germany.”

“I don’t want you to be unhappy. I don’t want you to look like some of the people here and at Ramstein,” Puck says. “I’ll start asking about a new assignment. We’ll see where everything is in June. Okay?”

“Okay,” Kurt says, sniffling a little as he presses his wet face to Puck’s cheek. “I’m sorry. I didn’t want to cry.”

“It’s okay.” Puck drops half to Kurt’s side, half still draped on top of Kurt. “It’s okay. I get it.”

“I try really hard. I try to focus on the time we do have. It’s so much more time—” Kurt cuts off abruptly, sniffling again.

“Yeah,” Puck says softly, running his fingers across Kurt’s cheek and down to his shoulder. “I know.”

“I’m sorry,” Kurt says.

“Don’t be sorry. It does suck. It’ll be better, though.”

Kurt nods, curling up against Puck’s side. “I know,” he says. Puck adjusts his arms around Kurt, and Kurt doesn’t move again as Puck watches him fall asleep. The last thing on his mind when he had enlisted had been even the possibility of the situation they’re in, with each of them on a different continent entirely. He sighs and kisses Kurt’s cheek, letting his own eyes close with the lamp still on.

By the next morning, and throughout the rest of his visit, Kurt is back to focusing on the time they do have. Puck quietly gets rid of the other three bottles of cologne, but leaves the one in a drawer, and after he has to put Kurt back on a plane to New York, he makes a note to himself to take one day of leave and go back to that shop to get a few more bottles of that scent.

The first three months of 2017 are monotonous, rehearsals and one- and two-day trips to perform. At the very end of February, Puck gets promoted to Staff Sergeant. He starts to include that news in the next letter he sends to Kurt, but then decides to just wait until April and see what Kurt does when he notices.

The fourth of April finally arrives, which is the day Puck’s leave starts, and he falls asleep before the plane out of Frankfurt even takes off. Sleep, he figures, is for before he gets to Kurt. He has to connect through Atlanta but not Heathrow, and in a first for Puck’s transatlantic travel experiences, all of his flights are on time. He heads towards the Dulles baggage claim, looking around for Kurt even before he knows he could realistically see him.

“Puck!”

Puck ducks around the group of people in front of him, heading towards Kurt’s voice, then speeding up once he spots Kurt walking towards him. “Hi,” he says when they’re still at least twenty feet apart.

“Hi!” Kurt says, rushing towards Puck.

Puck grins and grabs Kurt, lifting him off the floor just a little as he kisses him. Kurt squeals against Puck’s lips, but he kisses back hard, arms around Puck’s neck. “Missed you,” Puck says as he sets Kurt back down, cupping one hand on Kurt’s face and kissing him again.

“Missed you!” Kurt says, once the kiss ends. “You look so good. You look— you got promoted!”

“I wanted to see your face. Probably the last one for a few years,” Puck says.

“It’s wonderful. Congratulations!” Kurt kisses Puck again.

“Thanks.” Puck puts his arm around Kurt, pulling him close against his side. “Where are we going?”

“For now? Hotel,” Kurt says. “We have things to do tomorrow, but tonight you’re all mine.”

“I already know what I’m wearing, we know where and when to show up on Friday, what’s left to do tomorrow?” Puck asks.

“Rings and marriage license. Important things.”

“Yeah, okay, those are important,” Puck admits. “At least they involve both of us, at the same time. We don’t have anything we have to do separately, do we?”

“No. I can’t think of any reason you can’t be with me the whole time,” Kurt says.

“Good.” Puck stops just before a doorway and pulls Kurt to the side, kissing him again. “Everyone that’s coming is still coming?”

“Yes. I spoke with your mother two nights ago and confirmed her flight. Rachel and Jesse aren’t coming down until very early Friday. Carole is picking up the flowers, so we won’t have to worry about that.”

“And we’ve got everything ready for after the wedding?”

“Our villa awaits us,” Kurt says. “I double checked about the pool. Dad’s paying for all of it! He wouldn’t let me cover anything.”

“But no bathrobes packed,” Puck jokes.

“No bathrobes,” Kurt promises. “We do need bathing suits, though. Do you have one, or should we try to find one before we go?”

“I have exactly one, but if you’re wanting to take me shopping, I suppose I could handle modeling some suits for you.”

“I’m sure it’ll be torture for both of us,” Kurt says, giving Puck a kiss on the cheek.

“‘Torture’ only if we’re not going back to the hotel after we shop,” Puck says. “I have one serious question for you, though.”

“Okay.”

“You want your wedding present a little early? Like… when we get to the hotel?”

“Yes!” Kurt says.

“It’s not wrapped or anything,” Puck warns as they get in a car that Puck assumes is courtesy of Burt, too.

“That’s fine. I don’t need wrapping.”

You’re fun to unwrap,” Puck says, moving as close to Kurt as he can with both of them buckled in.

“You know what I mean,” Kurt says. He tells the driver to go, leaning towards Puck and clasping his hand.

“Yeah, and so do you,” Puck says. “Does the driver care what we do as long as we’re both dressed at the end?”

“He might report back to my father on us.”

“I’m pretty sure your father knows I like to kiss you.”

“I think that’s probably true,” Kurt says, tilting his head to kiss Puck.

The driver ends up clearing his throat when they get to the hotel, and Puck grins at Kurt as they climb out of the car. “I think that since you get to undress me Friday, we should go for ‘as quickly as possible’ today,” Puck says as they walk into their room.

“Yes. Naked! Now!” Kurt says, snapping his fingers at Puck.

Puck laughs and drops his bag, starting to take off his uniform. “You want your present while I’m undressing?”

“Yes!”

“I don’t know anything definite,” Puck warns as he takes off his shoes, leaning against the wall. “It could be June or July before I do. But I put in for three possible assignments. Lackland in Texas, Langley, and here in DC out of Anacostia-Bolling.”

“Oh. Oh my god, Puck!” Kurt flings himself at Puck, kissing him while starting to undo his own clothing.

Puck laughs and puts his hands on Kurt’s waist to stop both of them from falling over. “No more eight or ten hour flights, at least.”

“I’ll move to Texas if I have to. DC or Langley are definitely fine. How long? You said June or July?” Kurt continues frantically unbuttoning his own shirt. “Can I move to Germany until then? I can suffer through a few months there!”

“Orders could come as early as May. Everything moves at the speed of paperwork,” Puck says, moving his hands to finish undressing. “Honestly, though, someone has to be stateside so we have a place to sleep when I get here.”

“Okay. I’ll be in charge of apartment-hunting, then. I’ll email pictures.”

“You can buy us some Ikea furniture to curse at while we put it together or something,” Puck says, stepping out of his pants. “And a new mattress.”

“Plus sheets, towels, curtains,” Kurt says. “At least I’ll be busy.”

“You might be bored when I get here, then,” Puck says, taking off his underwear and lying down on the bed.

“No. That won’t happen.” Kurt crawls up the bed on top of Puck.

“Are you sure?” Puck asks, putting his hands on Kurt’s hips. “Nothing to hunt down, nothing else to buy…”

“Getting to eat meals with you and watch movies with you and rub your feet while we sit on the sofa and drink coffee,” Kurt says. “Sleeping in the same bed every night. Not having to wait months to have you inside me again.”

“Oh, I’m going to keep you busy in bed?” Puck grins and runs his hand up Kurt’s back to his neck, pulling Kurt down to kiss him. “Maybe you should show me exactly what you’re expecting.”

“I don’t think we have enough hours in this night for everything I’m expecting,” Kurt says.

“At least we can get a good start.”

Puck had never considered how long it could take to get a marriage license, but by the time they make it out of the clerk’s office on Wednesday to go pick up the rings, he decides it’s even better that they only have to do that once ever. Burt and Carole take them to dinner on Wednesday evening, and Thursday ends up being a series of small tasks and errands. They don’t have to get up as early on Friday, and after the wakeup call, Puck rolls towards Kurt and smiles at him.

“Morning.”

“Good morning,” Kurt says, smiling back at Puck. “Last chance to back out.”

“Oh, and here I was just thinking it’s your last chance to get coffee anywhere and flirt with the barista,” Puck says, pretending to be offended.

“Please. Like I’d flirt with the barista when I’m about to marry a handsome man in uniform,” Kurt scoffs.

“You might, if you were trying to get more coffee to bring to me,” Puck says. “Besides, I thought the part you were looking forward to was getting me out of the uniform.”

“But you start off in the uniform. Removing the uniform is one of my favorite things,” Kurt says.

“Is that a hint that I should get up and start getting ready?”

“Oh yes.”

Puck leans over and kisses Kurt before sitting up. “Any special requests?” Kurt’s eyes flick down to Puck’s wrists and then back up again. “Yeah,” Puck says softly, putting his hand on Kurt’s shoulder and kissing him again. “I’ll go shower first.”

“Okay. I love you,” Kurt says.

“You’d better!” Puck says over his shoulder as he goes into the bathroom. Even though Puck knows they’ve been asked at least four times if they were sure they wanted to get ready in the same hotel room, they manage just fine and head down to the lobby for the car to come pick them up. In the car, Kurt leans over and presses his nose to Puck’s neck, breathing deeply.

“Smells like both of you,” Kurt says.

“Good,” Puck says, taking Kurt’s hand and squeezing it. Luckily for them, it’s not raining, and once everyone is there, including the justice of the peace, there’s exactly eleven people standing near the Washington Monument. When the justice of the peace gestures for Puck and Kurt to stand in front of her, Puck whispers “Now it’s too late for you to back out.”

“Good,” Kurt says.

They have the most non-religious service available, despite Puck knowing his mom wishes they’d figured out something more Jewish to include, and when the justice of the peace says they can kiss, Puck almost laughs because they’ve put on more of a show in airports.

“How long do we have to sit at the restaurant before we can leave?” Puck whispers when they stop kissing.

“If we can make it through the entree, I think that’s enough,” Kurt whispers back. “Nobody could fault us for having dessert privately.”

“Lots of dessert, not much sleep,” Puck says. They get back in the same car to head to the restaurant, and this time it’s Puck’s turn to lean into Kurt and sniff. While they’d been standing outside in front of the justice of the peace, with their very small group of guests behind them, Puck had made sure not to let himself think too much about Finn, about how they both smelled like him and how he wasn’t there. He’s not sure he could have made it through if he had, and he knows Kurt wouldn’t have then, either.

The food is good, and it is good to see Rachel and Jesse and Quinn and Jake, but when the server comes to clear their plates, Puck nudges Kurt. “You want to go?” he whispers.

“Oh god, yes!” Kurt says. “Time to get you out of that uniform.”

“You know,” Puck says casually as he folds up his napkin and puts it on the table, “I’m fully in regulation today.”

“I’ll be sure to take my time and make sure I don’t misplace any of the pieces.”

“We’re going to go,” Puck says, raising his voice. “Flights to catch. All of that.”

“We love you all. So happy to have you here for our special day,” Kurt say, standing and taking Puck’s hand.

“Have a safe flight, son,” Burt says. Jake and Quinn have near-identical looks of disbelief, but no one says anything, even though Puck’s pretty sure at least some of them know their flight’s early in the morning.

The same car takes them back to the hotel, with the same driver, and Puck’s pretty sure that he’s got to be tired of looking in the rearview mirror and seeing Puck and Kurt kissing, especially since he has to clear his throat at the hotel again.

“So. Uniform removal. Taking your time. Hours before our flight. Have I got that right?”

“Sounds perfect to me,” Kurt says.

“Maybe after you get me undressed, I should take you against the wall,” Puck says as they step into the elevator. “Hold you up.”

“I don’t know, Puck. Do you think your guns can handle it?” Kurt asks.

Puck shakes his head, frowning exaggeratedly. “I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear that.”

“My apologies to your more-than-capable guns.”

“That’s better.” Puck doesn’t say anything else while Kurt really does take his time removing Puck’s uniform, carefully putting every piece in a pile in a chair. As he takes each piece off, he lets his fingers brush against Puck’s skin, like it’s accidental, and they lean towards each other, sniffing almost constantly. When Puck is finally naked, and Kurt’s tuxedo is off, too, Puck picks Kurt up, propping him against the wall and leaning in to smell him again.

He kisses Kurt slowly, shifting their weight until they’re both comfortable, and Puck kisses Kurt’s neck as he slides inside him. Kurt’s face is buried against Puck’s neck too, and even though neither one of them says anything out loud, Puck knows that Kurt can smell it, can tell how the air in the room smells like all three of them, and when they fall on the bed, Puck wipes a tear from the corner of both their eyes.

“I love you.”

Kurt presses his face to Puck’s neck, kissing it. “I love you.”

Their honeymoon planning to maximize the time at the villa had seemed reasonable and even smart, but getting on a plane alone at the end of it is horrible, and he can’t imagine Kurt will feel any better getting on his plane two hours later. Once Puck is back in Germany, he keeps rehearsing and performing, waiting on news about any of the duty assignments.

Despite what he told Kurt, he doesn’t really expect any news until June, so when his CO calls him into a meeting mid-May, he isn’t prepared for any news, much less the news he gets, and he takes a good ten minutes before he walks outside and calls Kurt.

“Puck!” Kurt says when he answers. “I wasn’t expecting to hear from you until later.”

“I got orders.”

Kurt gasps. “Where? Do I have to buy a pair of boots?”

“No cowboy boots. Maybe something for the fireworks on the Mall on July Fourth?”

“You’re going to DC?” Kurt says. “Really? Oh my god!”

“Not just DC, I’m serious about the fourth, too. My flight from here leaves on June thirteenth.”

“I guess I need to move quickly on the apartment, then! I’m so glad I decided to sublet here,” Kurt says.

“All we really need is that mattress and sheets, right?” Puck says. “I’ll send you all the flight information and stuff.” He pauses, looking up for minute before continuing. “I miss you.”

“I miss you! But you’ll be home soon.”

“I can’t wait. Last call for anything you want from Europe.”

“No. Just come home!” Kurt says. “You’re the only thing I want from Europe.”

“I’ll see you in less than a month,” Puck promises. “I love you.”

“I love you,” Kurt says.

“Thirteenth,” Puck says before ending the call. He spends the next month taking two days of leave, despite what Kurt said, to collect a few things, then going through all of his things and packing them up or discarding them.

His duty assignment in Europe technically ends on the twelfth, and since he doesn’t actually report in to Anacostia-Bolling until the fifteenth, Puck decides to do himself a favor and travel in civvies. He’s at the airport way too early for his flight, but it does leave on time, and Puck thinks it’s weird that this is the only time he’s been routed to DC through New York instead of Atlanta. It’s also the only time he lands at National instead of Dulles, which means he’s looking around even more than usual, trying to figure out which way to go and looking for Kurt at the same time.

An arm snakes around Puck’s waist, and then Kurt murmurs in his ear, “It’s a good thing I can always recognize you from behind, because you’re harder to find without the uniform.”

“I could’ve been testing that,” Puck says as he turns toward Kurt, putting one hand on Kurt’s face. “Guess what?”

“What?”

“I’m home,” Puck says as he smiles.

“Yes, you are,” Kurt says, leaning in and pressing his lips to Puck’s. “Do you want to see what ‘home’ looks like?”

“I know what you look like.”

“Then let’s go to our new apartment and you can look at me up close in great detail.”

“That sounds perfect.” The building isn’t far from a Metro stop, and Puck thinks it’s probably better it’s a controlled access building, given that Burt is still in Congress. “You were okay with the tiny bathroom?” Puck asks when they squeeze into it.

“There’s a Stroga nearby and a gym about three or four blocks,” Kurt says, “and I’m willing to sacrifice bathroom size if it means we’re in the same city.”

“Stroga?” Puck shakes his head as he follows Kurt up to the rooftop patio. “Yoga with free weights?”

“See? You’ll love it here!” Kurt says.

“It is a pretty good view,” Puck says once they get on the roof, wrapping his arm around Kurt’s shoulders. “In multiple ways. What are you going to do, though? Did you figure anything out yet?”

“I’ve found a theatre troupe that I think I’ll be very happy with. It’s not Broadway, but it’s a little less competitive and it’s in the same city as my husband,” Kurt says.

“The same hot, muggy city as your husband,” Puck says. “I guess I’ll have to make sure you don’t get too sweaty?”

“Hope you’re not too disappointed,” Kurt says.

“Disappointed that I’m probably going to get you very sweaty anyway?” Puck shakes his head and grins. “I think I can handle that.”

Especially compared to the eighteen months or so that Puck was in Europe, the next sixteen months are calm and settled. The band mostly performs in DC, with only two short trips, still within the continental US. Kurt seems to like his troupe, and neither one of them really minds the tiny bathroom compared to the alternative.

They also don’t discuss the bottle of cologne in the medicine cabinet, or the extra bottles squeezed between the clean towels and extra sheets, but periodically, they’ll both spray a little on, and it feels like Finn is almost there with them. They never use it on a night they’re going somewhere, and not too frequently, but neither one of them would suggest that they stop.

Puck does find it a little odd that they don’t see Burt more often than they do, considering they’re in the same town, but it could be a combination of events Burt has to attend and performances Puck’s a part of. It’s still five months shy of Puck’s six year mark when he gets the paperwork to re-enlist, and he brings it home, setting it down on the coffee table.

“They don’t mess around with some paperwork,” Puck says as he sits on the sofa.

Kurt picks up the stack of papers, thumbing through it with a slight frown. “Already?”

“I guess they have to know so people that don’t stay in get their discharge papers, and people that do get their bonus checks,” Puck says. “And they know if they have to shuffle other people around.”

Kurt nods. “You’re going to re-up?”

“Hey, I can get full retirement benefits at thirty-nine if I stay in for twenty years,” Puck says. “And look on the fifth page.”

Kurt flips through to the fifth page, his mouth falling open. “This is the bonus?”

“We could take a second honeymoon,” Puck says, laughing. “And a third, and a fourth, and a fifth…”

“Or we could put a sizeable down payment on a townhouse!” Kurt says. “And a second honeymoon.”

“You know where else I’ve never been? Disney World,” Puck says. “We could probably do that, too.”

“We could… or you could get out, and we could move wherever we want and start over. Just putting that out there as an option I’d support,” Kurt says.

“I’m actually good at this, though,” Puck says. “I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t re-up.”

“I know. I’m just afraid something’ll happen and you’ll end up on the other side of the world again,” Kurt says. He sets the paperwork down and leans against Puck, his hand on Puck’s thigh. “I don’t want you to go anywhere.”

“Remember I mentioned Mullinax? He’s been stationed here for sixteen years. And Peterson for twenty-two. I’d have to really screw up for them to send me somewhere else now,” Puck says, putting his hand over Kurt’s.

“What if there’s a war and they need all the guitarists?”

“They’re not going to outfit our guitars to shoot out bullets,” Puck says. “If it’s really bad, we can run to Canada.”

“We’ll own a small B&B with a working maple syrup orchard,” Kurt says. “Maple syrup comes from orchards, right? Maple syrup tree farm?”

“I think I’ll buy you a botany book for Hanukkah this year. Practical botany, not theoretical,” Puck says. “And cross-country skis.”

“Romantic,” Kurt says.

“I have six other nights to be romantic, I’m allowed to give you two practical gifts.”

“Fiiiiine,” Kurt sighs, flopping across Puck’s lap. “I’m giving you handkerchiefs.”

Puck runs his hand through Kurt’s hair. “Will you not give me handkerchiefs if I admit I like those you bought a few months ago?”

“Yes.”

“Then I hate ’em.”

“Poor baby, all those terrible handkerchiefs your terrible husband bought you. How you must suffer,” Kurt says, rubbing his head against Puck’s hand.

“It’s very hard to be me, yeah. Good thing. No one wants to trade with me that way.”

“Good thing,” Kurt says, hooking a hand behind Puck’s neck and pulling him down into an awkwardly-angled kiss.

Puck laughs against Kurt’s lips. “Yeah, I’d have to fight them on that.”

It does take until almost right at six years for the bonus to come through, and by then, it’s a seller’s market, so they put the money back and just use a small amount of it to go on a second honeymoon. Everything seems just as calm and normal, though, and Puck doesn’t really anticipate any big changes for at least another year or so, when the housing market might shift.

Most Thursdays in the fall of 2019, they perform around lunchtime on the Capitol steps. Some Congressmen and Congresswomen and Senators come out to listen sometimes, though Puck notes that Burt is never one of them, and mostly the crowd is pages, interns, and tourists. On the first Thursday in November, they have to move for paramedics rushing in, and Puck can hear the crowd whispering about a Congressman collapsing during a committee meeting.

The paramedics leave much more slowly than they arrived, and it’s while they’re packing up five or ten minutes later that Puck first hears a name mentioned by the crowd. He frowns and closes the guitar case, then turns towards the group of what he thinks are interns.

“Did you say Hummel?”

“Yeah, it was Congressman Hummel that collapsed.” One of the interns shakes her head. “He didn’t make it.”

“Are you sure?” Puck asks. When she nods, Puck looks over at his CO, who also nods. Puck hands off his equipment to the others, then heads inside, looking for someone who might know anything.

He can’t get anyone to officially release him information, but after fifteen minutes of asking questions, poking around, and swinging by Burt’s office, he feels certain enough that he pulls out his phone to call Kurt. “Don’t be rehearsing,” he mutters as he listens to it ring.

“Finished already?” Kurt asks when he answers the phone.

“How close are you to the Capitol?” Puck blurts out, trying to figure out if he should be telling Kurt in person or as soon as possible.

“Why? Puck, what’s wrong, you sound like something’s wrong.”

“Just… are you close?”

“Yes. Puck, please tell me what's wrong. Are you okay?” Kurt asks.

“I’m fine. I promise. Can you meet me outside on the north side?”

“Okay. I can be there in about five to ten,” Kurt says. “You’re sure you’re fine?”

“I’m sure. I love you.”

“I love you, too. I’m on my way.”

Puck paces on the stairs on the north side while he waits for Kurt, realizing he did a better job than he intended, keeping Kurt away from the ongoing commotion at other entrances. Puck finally spots Kurt after about eight minutes, and Kurt seems to speed up when he sees Puck. Puck doesn’t say anything immediately, pulling Kurt into a hug instead.

“Puck?” Kurt says. “What? What is it?”

“I’m so sorry,” Puck says. “It’s your dad.”

“What happened? Was it another heart attack? Which hospital did they take him to?”

Puck shakes his head. “I don’t know anything official, just enough to know I needed to call you. But I think it must have been. He didn’t… I don’t think there was anything they could do.”

“I don’t understand,” Kurt says, one hand coming up to his mouth. “No. I don’t— I don’t understand, Puck.”

“Let’s go see what they can tell you, okay?” Puck says. “But everyone’s pretty sure it was more or less immediate.” Kurt nods his head silently, his hand over his mouth, and Puck puts his arm around Kurt’s shoulders as they head into the building. Most of the people don’t know who Kurt is, but as they get closer to all of the commotion, Puck thinks he sees a few people recognize Kurt, and then they see some of Burt’s staff.

“Oh, they called you,” Stephen says, walking over to Kurt. “I didn’t know they’d called you.”

Kurt shakes his head. He still has his hand over his mouth and his eyes look unfocused and shiny. “I was here and heard some rumors,” Puck says. “Asked around enough to know I needed to call him. Is it as bad as I think it is?”

“Oh. Oh.” Stephen turns to Kurt again and shakes his head. “Congressman Hummel—your dad—he didn’t… he was already gone when the paramedics got here. I’m so sorry, Kurt.”

Kurt turns his face against Puck’s chest, his body shaking. “I’ll handle notifying Carole,” Puck says to Stephen, who hesitates and then nods. “Thanks,” Puck adds, turning away from Stephen and wrapping both arms around Kurt. “Let me take you home. Okay?” Kurt nods faintly. Puck has to glare at a few people who are staring as he steers them out of the Capitol and to the Metro, but by the time they get close to home, they’re just two regular people looking upset.

Puck walks Kurt straight into the bedroom and lies down beside him on the bed. “You want me to bring you something to drink?” he asks quietly.

Kurt shakes his head. “Just stay. Just stay with me.”

“I need to let Carole know,” Puck says apologetically. “You want me to call her from here?”

Kurt nods. “Just stay.”

“Okay.” Puck puts his arm over Kurt, holding him there for another five or ten minutes before Puck decides he can’t put it off any longer, and he calls Carole’s number, already feeling almost sick at what he has to tell her.

“Hello? Noah, is that you?” Carole asks.

“Hi, Carole,” Puck says. “Are you at work right now?”

“I am. Is everything alright with you and Kurt?”

“Kurt’s fine. He’s right here. After I talk to you, hand the phone to one of your co-workers, okay?” Puck takes a deep breath and doesn’t wait for her response. “It’s Burt.”

“Burt? What about Burt? He’s not back in Lima yet.”

“He collapsed during a committee meeting,” Puck says. “I’m sorry, Carole.”

“Was it his heart?” Carole asks, her voice quavering. “Is he—”

“Yeah,” Puck says gently. “He’s gone.”

“Oh. Oh no. Oh, Puck. Does Kurt kn— oh no.”

“I’m sorry,” Puck repeats. “I don’t know more details. Let me talk to your co-worker now?”

Carole doesn’t answer, but she must hand the phone to her co-worker, because a male voice responds. “Hello?”

“Carole’s husband died,” Puck tells the man on the other end. “Can you make sure someone stays with her?”

“Of course. Is this her son?”

Puck feels like he could laugh and cry at the same time when he hears that question, but what comes out is a muted snort. “Son-in-law,” he says. “Someone from DC’ll call her again later, if you can let her know that.”

“Okay. Thank you,” the man says. “I’m sorry for your loss.”

“Thank you,” Puck says, then ends the call, putting his phone on silent before setting it down and wrapping both arms around Kurt again. “Do you want anything?” he asks Kurt.

“I want this to not be real,” Kurt says.

Puck sighs and kisses the back of Kurt’s neck. “I know. Anything I can do, though. Just tell me.”

Kurt doesn’t really respond, other than pressing back against Puck. Puck runs his hand gently down Kurt’s arm over and over, petting him. After fifteen or twenty minutes, Kurt stirs slightly.

“Will you put some on?” Kurt asks, his voice barely above a whisper.

“Yeah,” Puck says equally softly, nodding and kissing the back of Kurt’s neck again before sliding out of bed. It’s what he thought Kurt would want, but he had needed some definite cue from Kurt, because the last thing he wants is Kurt hurting more. After he puts some of the cologne on, he slides back into bed behind Kurt. “I’ll be right here.”

“Love you,” Kurt says.

“Love you too.” They lie there for a long time, completely quiet, before Kurt starts to fall asleep, and Puck watches him sleep for another ten or so minutes before he picks up his phone again.

He calls Burt’s office first, and while he doesn’t know how most of the government side of things works, he knows that they should send all of Burt’s stuff to the condo in Georgetown, and he tells every staffer he talks to that they need to call him, not Kurt or Carole. Eventually he finds out that one of the staffers, Angela, will be handling most of the funeral arrangements, and he gets all of his contact information to her. Another person gives him a bunch of contact information for the state and national Democratic party, even though Puck’s not really sure why, and after all of that phone tag, Puck sends a quick message to Rachel and Quinn, asking them to let anyone else know that they can think of and have the information for.

Puck realizes it’s probably on the news, now that time has passed, but he still feels like it’s probably nicer to try to tell people personally, so he sends his mom and Jake each a message, too. All of that done, he checks back in with Burt’s office, makes arrangements to meet with Angela and Stephen in the morning at the condo, and finally sets up his own leave for the next few days.

He’s only been done for five or ten minutes when Kurt starts to stir, and Puck pulls him close, kissing his ear and neck before turning Kurt towards him. “Hi,” he says softly.

“It’s just a bad dream, right?” Kurt asks.

“I wish it were,” Puck says, shaking his head.

“Promise me that nothing’s ever going to happen to you,” Kurt says. “Promise me you’ll live to be one hundred.”

“I was thinking one hundred two, so I could get more than one news story out of it,” Puck says. “But after I turn ninety, I get to shave the mohawk again.”

“Okay,” Kurt says.

“My mom’s dad still had all his hair when he was eighty, so I should be fine,” Puck says before kissing Kurt. Kurt kisses back, putting one arm around Puck. They spend most the evening like that, Kurt falling asleep for the night still wrapped up in Puck’s arms.

One of Kurt’s friends from his troupe comes over in the morning to stay with Kurt while Puck goes to meet Stephen and Angela, and on his way, he talks to another one of Burt’s staffers to make sure someone’s meeting Carole at the airport and taking her to their apartment, not the condo. There’s another guy in a suit that Puck’s never met with Angela and Stephen, and he looks surprised when he sees Puck, though Puck figures that could be because he more or less instinctively decided ‘in uniform’ was a good plan. Puck goes into Burt’s office in the condo and gets a few files, and along with Angela and Stephen, they come up with a plan for at least the next week: personal effects moved immediately, funeral on Monday, and other paperwork following. Then the guy in the suit clears his throat.

“Yes?” Puck says.

“I’d like to talk to you about Congressman Hummel’s seat,” the guys says, offering his hand. “I’m Will Bailey with the DNC.”

“Staff Sergeant Noah Puckerman,” says as he takes Will Bailey’s hand. “What about his seat, exactly?”

“Who’s going to fill it. They’ll hold a special election, probably with the presidential primary, but it’s traditional to ask a member of the deceased Congressman’s family to fill the seat until then,” Bailey says. “It’s usually the widow, but in light of your military service, we thought we’d feel out your interest level.”

My interest level?” Puck says, trying not to laugh. “I have a job.”

“We thought you’d play the best in the district. Are you very familiar with the Ohio 4th?”

“Only if by ‘familiar’ you mean ‘grew up there’,” Puck says.

“Excellent. That wasn’t in the file,” Bailey says.

“I really don’t think I’m cut out for Congress,” Puck says. “I actually like my ‘military service’, too.”

“What about your husband, the Congressman’s son?”

“I…” Puck trails off and shakes his head. “I have no idea. If it’s between Carole and Kurt, I’m sure Kurt would want to handle anything necessary, but you’d need to talk to him yourself.”

Bailey nods. “And the Congressman’s other son is deceased, correct? Passed away in 2013?”

Puck starts a little, pressing his lips together as he nods. “Yeah. Finn died almost seven years ago.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. Were you acquainted with Finn?”

“Your files apparently don’t have everything, or you would have realized I’m the same Noah Puckerman that graduated from McKinley High School the same year as Finn and Kurt, who was living with Finn in 2013,” Puck says, raising an eyebrow and holding Bailey’s gaze.

“So you were all close?” Bailey asks. “That could help Kurt in the special election.”

“If Kurt wants to do this—If—then you need to run your probing shit by me,” Puck says firmly. “I’ve known Kurt since we were fourteen, and I’ve known Carole since I was six. You don’t need to bother them right now.”

“Okay, I understand completely,” Bailey says, though his tone suggests he still feels the Ohio 4th is the most important issue.

Puck nods and offers his hand again. “I’ll see you Monday at the funeral, then.”

Bailey shakes Puck’s hand. “Let us know if the DNC can do anything for your family.”

Bailey leaves before Angela and Stephen, and Puck stays another ten or fifteen minutes after they leave, tossing out most of the refrigerator’s contents. Considering the amount of half-eaten takeout containers in it, and that most of it is from burger places and steakhouses, it’s not all that surprising that Burt had another heart attack at a relatively young age, and the last thing Kurt and Carole need is realizing that. He tosses all of Burt’s half-used toiletries, too, then bags up Burt’s laundry. He doesn’t find any prescriptions, so he assumes they must be at Burt’s office.

On his way home, Puck drops off the laundry at a nearby cleaners, because whatever they do with Burt’s personal things, they at least need to be clean. While he’s at the cleaners, his phone buzzes with a text from Kurt.

Carole with me at the apartment. Meet for early lunch before dad’s townhouse?

I’ll bring some. Need to tell you about DNC guy Bailey.

He picks up enough lunch for Kurt, Carole, the friend of Kurt’s, and himself, but ushers Kurt’s friend out the door as quickly as he can and still be polite.

“There was a guy from the DNC with Stephen and Angela,” Puck says. “Will Bailey. You should probably know what he’s talking about.”

“I’m assuming it’s about Burt’s seat,” Carole says, dabbing at her eyes with a handkerchief, probably provided by Kurt.

“They’re anticipating a special election at the same time as the presidential primary next year, yeah,” Puck says, nodding at Carole. “But they want to suggest someone for the governor to appoint until then, and for that person to run in the special election.”

“When Bobby Sanders from the Indiana 1st passed away, his wife Evelyn served the rest of his term. Does this Bailey man want me to do that for Burt?” Carole asks.

“They do want a family member, but no, not you,” Puck says to Carole.

“Oh. Well, who would they ask? Neither of you boys have lived in Ohio for years now.”

“They want you, don’t they?” Kurt says. “You’d be a good choice.”

“He asked. I told him no, I have a job that I like fine,” Puck says. “But he still wants to talk to you. I guess they have some way around the residency thing.”

“But I don’t know anything about being a Congressman,” Kurt says.

“Oh, Kurt,” Carole says, patting Kurt’s leg. “I’m sure you’d do a fine job, and it would only be until the special election. Your dad would be so proud of you.” She starts sniffling again.

“I tried to let him know that asking you about it before Monday wasn’t acceptable, but you still need to know he will,” Puck says, using the arm around Kurt’s shoulders to pull him closer.

“Okay. I’m not sure I want to be a congressman,” Kurt says. “Can I say no?”

“Of course you can. I did,” Puck says, kissing Kurt’s cheek. “I guess if you ever thought about politics at all, though, it’s the time or whatever.”

The weekend is slow hours that combine to make Puck startled when he realizes it’s already Monday morning. Carole had asked them on Friday to stay at the townhouse with her through at least Tuesday, and Puck had started going through some of Burt’s personal files, starting with life insurance and any outstanding debt. He’d been the last one awake in the townhouse on Sunday night by several hours, and he groans when he hears the alarm go off.

“Perfectly nice townhouse and still no coffeemaker beside our bed,” Puck mumbles into Kurt’s neck.

“Can we just sleep through today?” Kurt asks.

“We could coffee through it, maybe,” Puck says. “I’ll end up getting there before you.”

Kurt grumbles and puts his arm around Puck, pulling him closer. “I’m sure I’m going to end up forgetting something.”

“Just make sure you have on pants and a warm hat, and you’ll be fine,” Puck says. “Do you want me to tell you a few things before you have to deal with Will Bailey and the others, or should I wait for tonight?”

“Tonight, please.”

“Okay. Remember, you’re smarter than all of them. And a lot nicer to look at.”

“I love you, Puck. I couldn’t do this without you,” Kurt says.

“I love you too. And you don’t have to.” Puck kisses Kurt softly. “I’m going to get ready. It’ll be over in a few hours.”

Puck has to be at the National Cathedral ninety minutes before the service starts, because someone in Burt’s office or Puck’s CO’s office or both had decided that the most appropriate thing was for the Air Force Band to provide the music for the funeral. Kurt arrives with Carole forty-five minutes later, and what stands out to Puck is how flat Kurt looks. Once the band performs twice, Puck sits down beside Kurt, taking his hand for the rest of the service. They’re shepherded out to a waiting car afterwards, which takes them to a ‘private’ reception hosted by the DNC. As they head up in an elevator, Puck puts both arms around Kurt, blocking them from everyone else.

“I’ll get us out of here in ninety minutes,” Puck promises quietly. “In two hours we’ll be alone. Okay?”

“Okay,” Kurt says. “It just feels like a nightmare. I keep having to do this. Why do I have to do this?”

“I don’t know,” Puck admits. “It’s not fair. I’m sorry.”

“Please don’t let anything happen to you,” Kurt says, clinging to Puck.

“I won’t,” Puck says, even though they both know he can’t really promise that. He kisses Kurt as the elevator comes to a stop, then walks them both out of the elevator with his arm around Kurt’s shoulders, glaring at most people who try to approach them. When it’s been eighty-five minutes, Puck notes Will Bailey making his way towards them, and he tenses.

“Are you up for the DNC’s Bailey right now?” Puck whispers to Kurt.

“I guess it has to happen eventually, so it may as well be now,” Kurt says, sounding resigned.

“Staff Sergeant,” Bailey says, holding his hand out to Puck. Puck shakes his hand, nodding. “And you must be Kurt?”

Kurt shakes Bailey’s hand, too. “We may as well get right to it,” he says to Bailey. “You want me to fill my father’s seat until the special election.”

“Well, yes, in a sense, but that’s not exactly what the DNC is hoping for,” Bailey says.

“No?” Kurt asks.

“We’re also hoping you’d consider running in the special election,” Bailey explains. “You’d have the name recognition. Your father was well-liked by his constituents. You’re married to a decorated member of the military. You’re young and well-spoken. We think you’d make a perfect candidate.”

“I love you,” Puck whispers into Kurt’s ear.

“Do I have to decide right away?” Kurt asks.

“Not about the special election,” Bailey says, “but we were hoping to get your agreement to fill the seat until then, at least.”

Kurt sighs, his posture stiffening. “Okay. I can agree to that for now. Dad would want me to do it, and I owe him that.”

“Great. Thank you, Kurt,” Bailey says, shaking Kurt’s hand again. Kurt musters up a weak smile in return, which Bailey at least seems to understand is his sign to leave them alone. He gives Puck a quick nod before turning and walking towards a group that Puck recognizes as some of Burt’s fellow congressmen.

“Ready to go?” Puck says.

“Please,” Kurt says. “I think Angela was making sure Carole got back. She wanted to speak to someone about paperwork.”

“There’s a ton of that,” Puck admits as they head towards the elevator. “I’ve gone through about a third of his personal papers that were at the condo.”

“We’ll need to figure out what to do about the condo and the tire shop. I can’t imagine Carole wanting to move out here or managing the shop.”

“I’ve actually figured out the answer to half of that already.” Puck waits for the elevator doors to close before continuing. “There’s enough insurance money to pay off all outstanding debts, including mortgages, and the gist of it is, he wanted us to have the condo.”

“What? Really?” Kurt asks.

“Yeah. There’s a note in the file about how he knew we couldn’t just assume the mortgage payment, so the insurance is supposed to pay everything off before it’s dispersed or whatever. We’ll definitely need to get a good lawyer to help us and Carole do the details of everything. And I think… the tire shop and the place in Lima, one of them is in your name already? Probably tax reasons.”

“Oh. I don’t know what to say about any of that,” Kurt says. “I feel like this is too much.”

“The good part of it is that we don’t have to hurry. We can take our time going through stuff and making decisions. Okay?”

“Okay. I just didn’t think I’d have to be doing this all again so soon.”

“I’ll do as much of it as I can. Sort and shred and take things to the lawyer and the accountant.” Puck kisses Kurt before they get off the elevator. “Did you decide about Wednesday?”

“If you’re okay handling things here, I think Carole really does need me for a few days, at least,” Kurt says. “I don’t want to, but I feel like I have to.”

“Okay. While you’re there, see if she wants to join us in Baltimore for Thanksgiving, since I’ve got those performances up there?”

“I think that would be nice.”

“I love you.”

Kurt leans his head against Puck’s shoulder. “I love you, too.”

Puck stays up too late the week Kurt’s gone, going through as many of Burt’s papers as he can and nearly burning out a shredder. On the third night, he finds a credit card statement misfiled, not with the others, and the more he looks at it, the odder it seems. All of the charges are in Germany, during spring eighteen months earlier, in 2018, and Puck recognizes enough of the names to know that the charges are for groceries, clothes, and other basics, along with a fair amount to Apple, Inc. via iTunes. Puck frowns at the statement for a long time, and the only conclusion he can come to is that Burt has another kid out there, not with Kurt’s mom, and that the credit card is for the kid to use.

An hour’s worth of searching turns up two more statements for the same credit card, one with charges in Germany in 2015, and another with charges in both Germany and Portugal in early 2017. Puck stares at the three statements and their charges for a long time, and he comes to the uncomfortable conclusion that he could have seen Burt’s other kid at any point while he was stationed in Germany, and that Burt would have definitely had motivation to help Puck’s career along by getting him back out of Europe.

Puck calls the credit card company as early as he can the next morning, cancelling the card and paying off the small outstanding balance. He shreds the two earlier statements, then hides the third and most recent one, in case he ever needs to access the account number again.

The rest of the week Kurt’s gone, Puck spends beginning to sort papers into three general categories: to be handled by the end of November, to be handled by the end of the year, and to be handled before the special election, whatever Kurt decides.

Considering the months-long separations they had while Puck was stationed overseas, he thinks it’s almost strange how much he misses Kurt after just a week, but he does, and he heads towards the airport as soon as he can that afternoon, hoping Kurt’s plane isn’t late at all. It isn’t, but the Metro is slow, and Puck barely gets inside the airport before the board announces Kurt’s flight is already disembarking. It only takes about five minutes before Puck spots Kurt, looking weary as he walks through the airport, and Puck pushes past a few people to get to Kurt quicker.

“I missed you,” Puck says as he grabs Kurt in a hug.

“God, I missed you so much,” Kurt says, kissing the side of Puck’s neck. “How are you? How’s everything here? Did Sullivan’s wife have the baby yet?”

“Not yet, everything’s fine, and a lot better,” Puck says, leaving one arm around Kurt’s shoulders. “Let me take you home?”

“Yes. We’re going to the apartment, right? You didn’t move us without me.”

“All of our stuff’s still in one place. There’s a truck and some movers coming tomorrow to box up your dad and Carole’s stuff, and take most of it to Ohio to put it in storage. I’ve separated out the paperwork we need to keep. Then we can figure out when we’re moving,” Puck says. “I wouldn’t move us without you.”

“I know you wouldn’t,” Kurt says. “I’m just tired. I hate being in Lima. Why would I want to be their congressman?”

“I always figured that was why people wanted to be in Congress. So they didn’t have to stay in their district,” Puck admits. “You being their congressional representative is a little bit like the ultimate fuck-you though.”

“Maybe. I haven’t said no yet. Maybe I’ll accept.”

“Better you than me.”

Two days after Thanksgiving, just before November ends, Puck finishes going through the first pile of paperwork. December means a new pile of paperwork and Kurt doing mostly ceremonial things once the official appointment goes through. Puck spends longer than he probably should and definitely more money than he should on Hanukkah presents, but at least buying gifts is something he can do.

If he’d been more consistent about the paperwork, he would have found the reference sooner, but instead it’s almost the first night of Hanukkah when Puck finds a misfiled memo in Burt’s handwriting, dated February 2015. That isn’t the odd part, because a lot of Burt’s papers are handwritten, and the fact that it’s a to-do list isn’t that odd, either, but what is odd are two of the entries.

- remind Finn
- schedule call to Finn for April

Puck stares at the paper for at least ten minutes, trying to make the ‘5’ in the date into a ‘3’, but the rest of the list helps place it firmly in 2015. There’s no sign that Burt was senile, and both lines are checked off, like Burt had satisfactorily completed both of them. Puck knows he’s too quiet that night with Kurt, turning it over in his mind, and by lunchtime the next day, Puck’s come up with three possibilities: that Burt was senile and no one knew it; that Burt knew someone else named Finn and never mentioned him to anyone else; or that somehow Burt was keeping Finn hidden, like some kind of bizarre fairytale. Puck knows that it’s mostly hoping and wishing that makes him even include that possibility on this list, but since there’s no way to definitively say that any of the three are false or true right away, Puck leaves it to investigate.

Nothing Puck finds in all of Burt’s medical records indicates any sign of senility, and careful conversation with several of his staffers, all of whom stayed on to help Kurt, doesn’t indicate that any senile behavior was ever noted. It’s not one hundred percent, but Puck mentally draws a line through that possibility. A search of Burt’s computer files doesn’t turn up any references to anyone else named Finn; Puck doesn’t feel comfortable asking anyone directly, so he leaves that open as a remote chance.

The last thing he does is the worst, and the thing he hides completely from Kurt. He calls up every news article and obituary citation from 2013, searching for any indication that someone could have hidden Finn away instead. What he finds doesn’t make his mind rest any easier: there was no autopsy performed, Burt was the sole person to ID the body, and it, or something, was immediately cremated. Puck has trouble even figuring out who actually found Finn, something he’d never known, and all his searching seems to suggest it was Burt who found him. Burt who identified him. Burt who took care of all the arrangements for Carole.

Puck would be lying if he were to say there weren’t times that he’d been angry with Burt, mainly for how he seemed to have almost abandoned Kurt, except financially, after Finn’s death. The idea of Burt hiding something, even potentially minor, from everyone is another strike against him, and Puck shakes his head. He has to put on his best face, because there’s no reason to tell Kurt that his father hid something about Finn’s death from them, in addition to having an illegitimate child in Europe.

The next file Puck looks at, though, in the middle of Hanukkah, makes Puck realize that he has to tell Kurt at least one thing – that his dad had made a lot of backroom deals, deals that they might be expecting Kurt to honor or continue. He waits until the night before New Year’s Eve, most of their stuff moved into the condo, to say anything.

“I have a question,” Puck says as they sit on their sofa.

“Okay,” Kurt says.

“Did you make a decision about the special election yet? I know Bailey wants to know on Thursday, but that’s not really why I’m asking.”

“I never really wanted to be a politician,” Kurt says, “but I feel like I owe it to Dad, to uphold the work he was doing.”

“You’ll be better at it than he was,” Puck says, a little sadly. “There’s a few things you need to know.”

“What? What’s wrong?”

“There… there were some deals your dad made. That people probably will assume are void, but there’s the possibility some of them will want them honored. Or that they’ll approach you to continue with the same deals.”

“What kind of deals, Puck?” Kurt asks.

“Some of them seem pretty standard. Votes for votes, that kind of thing. Some things, though, I’m pretty sure involved money and other favors,” Puck admits slowly.

“Is there— Puck, you’re not trying to say Dad was involved in something illegal?”

“I didn’t look up the exact statutes. Maybe it was all within the letter of the law. It’s like they say about regs, though. Sometimes things are technically within regs but you know the regs would prevent them if they could. I’m pretty sure if this stuff was legal, it’s because it was an oversight or some kind of bending over sideways and backwards to make it legal.”

“But my dad isn’t like that! He wouldn’t do things like that!” Kurt insists. “He was honest. He was good.”

“Good people do illegal things sometimes, Kurt. And I think he probably thought the cost was okay, to get the results he wanted. I could be tempted by the idea of getting good things for you at seemingly no harm, you know?”

“No. I won’t accept that,” Kurt says. “You’re wrong. You’re wrong about him.”

“I can show you the paperwork,” Puck says.

“Then you’re confused about what you read. There’s probably all kinds of terminology and rules that we don’t know, that just makes it look shady,” Kurt insists.

“So you’d rather just call me stupid?” Puck says. “Thanks. I think I can read, though. I’m just trying to give you a heads-up before people start approaching you.”

“I’m not calling you stupid. I said confused, and I said we both don’t know the rules,” Kurt says. “Maybe you don’t want me to run. Is that it?”

“If I didn’t want you to run, I’d just tell you that. You should know that. I’m not expecting you to be happy about this!”

“You just want me to believe my father was doing something wrong!”

“Yeah, it was top on my list of goals for 2020,” Puck says sarcastically. “‘Tell my husband crappy things about his father’.”

“Then why are you telling me crappy things about him?” Kurt shouts. “Don’t you think it’s been hard enough, doing this? Trying to fill his shoes?”

“Because maybe you don’t need to try to fill his shoes! Maybe you’re better that that!”

“Quit talking about my father like that!”

“I don’t want you hearing it from somone else!”

“I don’t want to hear it from you!” Kurt yells at Puck, standing up and storming across the room, back turned to Puck and his arms wrapped around himself. Puck sighs and stands, walking towards Kurt and putting his hand on Kurt’s shoulder.

“I’m—”

“Don’t touch me!” Kurt says, jerking away from Puck.

Puck stares at Kurt’s back, not knowing what to do, and he keeps standing there, hand half-raised. Kurt’s shoulders shakes and he making choking noises, like he’s holding back sobs. After maybe a minute, Kurt sinks to the floor, resting his head on his knees and wrapping his arms around his legs.

“It wasn’t supposed to be me,” Kurt says, between more choked-sounding sobs. “It wasn’t supposed to be me doing this. I’m not the one who was supposed to have to fill Dad’s shoes.” He shakes harder as the choked sobs become loud, gaspy sobs. “Finn would be so good at it. Finn’s the son who should be doing it.”

Puck isn’t sure that Kurt’s right. The ideal combination would have probably been the two of them somehow working together, because Kurt has strengths Finn never had, even if Kurt hasn’t considered that. It doesn’t matter, though, if Kurt thinks it’s true. Puck doesn’t say anything or try to touch Kurt again. He stands behind Kurt for a long time, then sits down behind him, close enough that he could stretch out his arm and touch him.

“It’s not fair. It’s not fair,” Kurt says, barely audible. “I’m not supposed to have to do this without him.”

Puck nods. “I love you,” he whispers after a few more seconds pass.

“I love you, too,” Kurt says, turning towards Puck and leaning towards him. Puck stretches his arm out halfway to Kurt, and Kurt puts out both his arms, practically falling into Puck’s lap. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry,” he sobs. “I’m sorry, Puck.”

“I love you,” Puck repeats, tightening his arms around Kurt. “I wish I could fix it all for you.”

“Just be here, just be here with me.”

“I’ll be right here. Glaring at everyone else,” Puck promises. He sits there in the floor holding Kurt for a long time, and eventually they fall asleep, right there in the middle of the floor, which isn’t the most comfortable thing, but Puck is pretty sure it’s a lot better to fall asleep together in the floor than whatever would have happened if they’d kept fighting.

Puck ignores Burt’s papers for the rest of the week, but on the first Sunday of 2020, he starts digging into them again, setting aside anything that appears to reference anything even slightly shady. He still can’t figure out what the to-do list that mentioned Finn means, either, but he keeps hoping he’ll find some reference somewhere in the files.

When Puck does find a reference, one evening in mid-January when Kurt’s actually in Ohio, he wishes he hadn’t. The letter is long, in Burt’s handwriting, and on the last page, Puck can feel a notary’s seal. He sees Finn’s name twice on the front page, and Puck has to put the letter down and walk around the condo twice before he can pick it up again.

Soon after I first took office in early 2012, I made a series of deals to accomplish specific goals legislatively as well as personally. As time went on, things grew more complicated, and even though I knew I was no longer operating within the law, I continued as I was now accustomed to. The details and records are included in the body of this letter.

Unfortunately, I also needed someone to occasionally meet people and run errands back in my district, and I turned to my stepson Finn. His unwitting involvement, also detailed in the body of this letter, led to him being put in danger. In addition to the danger he was personally in, his involvement meant I ran a real risk of having my illegal activities exposed. I threatened Finn and forced him to leave the country, and with the help of a single county official, faked his death.

This letter contains enough information to clear Finn of all wrongdoing and, hopefully, have him declared alive so he can resume his previous identity. I’m sure many people, including my wife and son, wonder why I did this. I’ve wondered it as well, but I’ve gone too far for me to undo it during my lifetime.

Finn is in hiding in Europe, using a credit card which I pay. I only hope having Finn return will help Kurt and Carole, and

Puck drops the letter, thoroughly disgusted with Burt, and he paces the condo a few more times, suddenly glad that he knows where the insurance money came from, at least. He skims the rest of the letter, growing increasingly angry at the level of corruption Burt had quickly sunk to, as well as how easily Burt had found involving Finn in his schemes. It’s near the end of the letter before Puck realizes that the credit card he cut off was Finn’s.

“Oh shit,” Puck whispers. “Oh shit, you’re in fucking Germany or something with no money!”

Puck doesn’t get any sleep that night, making a list of the places in the 2018 credit card statement and what he can remember from the other two now-shredded statements. He hides Burt’s letter and the statement in a small safe in what had been Burt’s office in the condo, and he uses incognito windows for his searching online. When he realizes the sun is coming up, and Kurt’s going to be home at four in the afternoon, Puck calls in to work, and it’s not even that big of a lie, because he still feels sick thinking about what Burt did, and his eyes hurt, and his throat is dry and scratchy. He falls into bed at 8:30 in the morning, and even though he has an alarm set on his phone to wake him up so he can try to meet Kurt at the airport, the next thing he hears is Kurt coming home.

“Puck?” Kurt calls out. “Puck, are you home?”

“Shit,” Puck groans softly as he sits up, clearing his throat, which is at least less scratchy. “Sorry!” he manages to call down the stairs. He can hear Kurt hurrying up the steps before he appears in the door to the bedroom, looking pale and frazzled.

“Oh, thank god!” Kurt says. “You weren’t at the airport and you didn’t answer your phone, and I thought— I thought—” He puts his hand to his mouth, muffling the little sob that escapes.

“Oh, shit, I’m sorry,” Puck says, getting out of bed and walking over to Kurt to put his arms around him. “I called out this morning and fell asleep. I guess I slept through my alarm and you calling, too.”

Kurt nods as he presses his face to Puck’s chest. “I was so worried,” he says. “Are you sick? You look terrible.”

“I must’ve picked up something,” Puck says, and it’s not even a lie, because he did pick up something – Burt’s letter. How is he supposed to tell Kurt that as of two years ago, Finn was still alive, hidden somewhere in Germany? He needs to find Finn before he says anything to Kurt.

“Have you eaten anything? Do you need some soup? Some tea?” Kurt puts his hand to Puck’s forehead.

“We could order some soup for dinner. I’m so sorry, Kurt.” Puck tightens his arms around Kurt. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s fine. I was just worried. Of course you shouldn’t have come to the airport if you’re sick,” Kurt says into Puck’s chest. “I love you.”

“I love you, too. I should have let you know. It won’t happen again,” Puck promises.

“Okay. Thank you,” Kurt says. “Can I make you some tea now, and you can tell me how you kept yourself busy while I was in Ohio?”

“Sure.” Puck kisses Kurt’s cheek, keeping up the pretext of being contagious. “Tea sounds good.”

Puck waits a few more days before doing any more searching, and he waits until Kurt is busy, telling Kurt he’s just going to go through more of Burt’s paperwork. Three nights of paperwork and another time Kurt heads to Ohio result in Puck realizing he’s gotten as far as he can without making some serious international phone calls and getting some good luck, or spending three or four days in Germany, preferably with some pictures of Finn to help him out.

When Kurt is gone one Saturday, Puck calls up Sembach, hoping he still knows some of the guys there and that they can at least help him narrow things down before he commits to flying over to Germany, because he has no idea how to explain that one to Kurt. Sanchez and Davis are both still there, and even though they sound a little disbelieving, both of them agree to ask around off-base in the areas the credit card statement suggests. Puck has to wait ten days to call them back, and he can tell that Kurt realizes he’s distracted. He’s not sure if Kurt knows that Puck’s hiding something, but he wouldn’t be surprised if Kurt did.

Sanchez, as annoying as he still is, reports to Puck that he found two clerks at the grocery store who remember seeing Finn on a regular basis for over two years, right up until December. “Shit!” Puck says. “I really did cut him off.”

“I would have cancelled the card, too,” Sanchez says. “I would have thought mistress, not lovechild, though.”

“Yeah, well, I was closer to right, wasn’t I? Burt did have another kid. It was just the one I already knew about.” Puck sighs. “Okay. Put Davis on.”

Davis has a copy of a lease that ended on January first, which gives Puck another name but no current location or contact information, and Puck thanks them both before hanging up. He nearly runs into people twice the rest of the afternoon at work, and he’s even more distracted than usual while he and Kurt are eating dinner.

“How are rehearsals going?” Kurt asks. “Is everyone ready for the President’s Day performance?”

“Yeah.” Puck frowns at his plate and stabs at his food.

“How’s Sullivan’s baby? Has she grown into that little cardigan we sent yet?”

“Probably. I think so.”

Kurt sighs softly and doesn’t try to make any more conversation, clearing the table silently when they’re both done eating. Puck doesn’t try to make himself go through any paperwork, and he doesn’t look up anything else about Finn, because he feels like now he has to go actually look for him, and there’s nothing the computer can tell him. After feeling aimless and restless for a couple of hours, Puck goes ahead and lies down in bed.

Kurt doesn’t come in until fifteen minutes later, sliding into bed with nothing on. Puck realizes a few seconds later that he’s wearing the cologne, and Puck’s stomach turns over when he thinks about Finn out there somewhere in Europe, and he can feel his fists clenching as he gets mad at Burt all over again. He pulls away from Kurt slightly, hoping Kurt doesn’t notice.

“Puck?” Kurt says, sounding confused. He runs his hand over Puck’s shoulder, and Puck shudders.

“I can’t,” he says, closing his eyes and shaking his head. “I can’t.”

Kurt pulls his hand back, lying very still next to Puck for a moment before getting up again. He walks into the bathroom and shuts the door. Puck can hear the faint click of the lock turning before the shower starts. A moment later, Puck can hear Kurt crying, and Puck feels frozen, getting angrier at Burt as he listens to Kurt in the bathroom. If it were just that Finn is probably still alive, somewhere, Puck might be able to tell Kurt without Finn right there, but the fact that it was Burt who engineered it, Burt who let them all grieve for seven years, Burt who was more corrupt than Puck could have imagined when he first brought it up with Kurt – Puck doesn’t know how he could do that to Kurt, even though what’s happening is bad enough on its own.

Kurt’s louder crying and the shower almost completely conceal the sound of Puck’s own eventual tears, and he wipes at his eyes when the shower eventually stops. He closes his eyes before Kurt opens the door, but he can hear Kurt crossing the room and the sound of Kurt climbing back into bed makes Puck crack his eyes open enough to confirm that Kurt is now completely dressed, lying with his back to Puck on the opposite side of the bed. Puck presses his lips together and closes his eyes again, going to sleep trying to think of ways he could possibly make it up to Kurt.

Even by lunch the next day, Puck doesn’t know what to do, because they’ve never had anything like this happen. He submits a leave request so he can go to Germany, and when his CO signs it before he leaves, he buys a ticket to fly over. He’ll figure out something to tell Kurt, and then when he gets back, maybe he’ll be able to start telling Kurt everything.

“I have to travel at the end of next week,” Puck says as they finish dinner that night. “I think you were going to be in Ohio at least two of those days?”

Kurt nods. “Baltimore again?” he asks, though his tone suggests it doesn’t really matter.

“And Dover,” Puck says, in case Kurt tries to call one or both. Hopefully he’ll find something definite in Germany. The days before Puck leaves are strained and uncomfortable, and twice Puck comes close to breaking down and tell Kurt everything before realizing that his reasons for not telling Kurt are still just as valid.

Puck lands in Germany feeling hopeful, but the hope runs out even faster than the short amount of time he has. He follows up every lead he has, every lead those leads give him, and all the trails run cold either in November or December, just after Puck cancelled the credit card. Finn isn’t in any of the places he was before that, and no one has any idea where he could be. Puck asks around as many agencies and stores as he can, but nothing turns up, and a few hours before he flies back, he goes to the American consulate closest to Finn’s last known address.

No one at the consulate tells him anything definitive, but all of them urge Puck to consider that the best place to find an American citizen is in the United States. He hears the line enough that he decides they must have seen Finn, or heard something about him, and that somehow, Finn’s managed to get back stateside. It doesn’t help Puck know what name he’s under or where he might be, but at least he doesn’t have to lie to Kurt again while he’s on a wild goose chase across Europe, and for that, he feels a little relieved when he gets on the plane to go home.

By the time he lands at Dulles, though, he just feels helpless and sad. He’d tried to fake plane information for Kurt, just in case Kurt was looking, but like Puck knew, Kurt isn’t at the airport, and he rides on the Metro home, walking the last blocks slowly. Even though he’d known it was a long shot, he’d wanted to bring something back to Kurt, Finn or some definitive information.

When he gets home and Kurt is sitting in the dark in the living room, Puck starts crying, and he sits down on the floor in front of Kurt, resting his forehead on Kurt’s thigh as he cries. “I tried,” he whispers.

Kurt doesn’t say anything, but he begins stroking Puck’s hair, and they sit like that for hours. Eventually Puck’s legs cramp so much that he stands, running his hand over Kurt’s hair and kissing his forehead.

“I love you,” he says softly, then heads up the stairs, unsurprised when Kurt doesn’t follow him. The next morning, Kurt is already awake and downstairs, and the only thing different in the entire condo is the empty wine bottle in the recycling. When Puck goes back upstairs, though, he can smell just a hint of cologne, and he has to steady himself against the wall.

The special election is only a week away, and Puck and Kurt are scheduled at several events over the last four days before the election, leave Puck already had arranged, which gives Puck even fewer days to start asking around in DC about Finn. It’s harder in DC, because everyone knows who Kurt is and who Burt was, and the best he can do before they leave for Ohio is a suggestion that he talk to the FBI.

The campaigning is almost painful, just like being back in Lima in general is, and on the morning of the special election, both of them back in DC, Puck makes copies of Burt’s letter, locks all but one of them away, and heads to the FBI. It takes hours to get to the right person who will also give him any information, and even then the information is sparse: they will confirm that Finn is alive.

Puck asks if they know where he is, and while they won’t confirm it, Puck suspects they do by the looks on their faces. The SAC tells Puck to come back the next afternoon, and Puck suspects that they need time to go over the copy of the letter and discuss what they’re willing to tell Puck.

He goes straight from there to Kurt’s end-of-campaign event, and in the exhilaration of the confirmation that Finn’s alive, that he can find Finn for both of them, he forgets how things have been, giving Kurt a tight hug. “Hi,” Puck says, not able to completely stop smiling.

“Hi,” Kurt says warily.

“Did you eat yet?” Puck asks.

Kurt shakes his head. “I’m not hungry, really.”

“Let me get you something. Even something small,” Puck insists. Kurt nods his assent, sighing quietly as Puck goes to find a small sandwich or some fruit.

The returns start coming back as soon as the polls close, and from the beginning, Kurt is behind. Kurt doesn’t look particularly upset, though he also doesn’t eat the food Puck brings him, carrying it around for at least an hour before he trades it for a glass of wine. When MSNBC announces that they’re calling the race, Puck puts his arm around Kurt’s shoulders and Kurt stiffens, but doesn’t shrug him off. Kurt’s opponent wins, and as it’s announced, Puck can feel the relief in Kurt’s body.

“Ready to get back to normal?” Puck whispers, then wants to cringe, because finding Finn is not their normal. The long, sad look Kurt gives him suggests that Kurt is certain nothing will ever be normal again, and it breaks Puck’s heart a little. Before he can say anything else, though, one of the campaign staffers walks up, asking Kurt if he’d like to go ahead and call his opponent and congratulate him before giving his concession speech.

“Yes, I think now is good for that,” Kurt says to the staffer, following her without a backwards look at Puck.

Puck sighs and watches Kurt leave, mentally deciding that he’ll be at the FBI even a little earlier than they told him, because he has to get answers. The only answer he gets on Wednesday, though, is a confirmation that the FBI knows exactly where Finn is, plus a demand from the FBI that he turn over the original letter immediately. Puck leaves, turning that demand over and over, and on Thursday, he spends an hour before work, his lunch hour, and an hour after work walking around three different DC neighborhoods, as if he’ll luck into tripping over Finn, when he didn’t even manage that in Germany.

On Friday morning, he calls his CO and says he has a family matter to take care of, which his CO seems to think means something related to Kurt’s campaign, and Puck goes straight to the FBI office and the SAC he’s been speaking to. “Before we go any further with this, I need to see him,” Puck says. “Otherwise, I could be handing over everything I have for nothing. I’ll blindfold myself or whatever, I don’t care, but you’re taking me to him.”

The SAC hems and haws for over thirty minutes before Puck threatens to walk out and start using other means to find Finn, even though Puck has no idea what those other means are. They seem to think that Puck has an idea, because they take him down to the garage and Puck ends up in the passenger seat, being driven out to a house in Hillcrest, almost outside DC proper. The car pulls up in front of a small brick house across from some trees, and Puck takes a deep breath.

“He’s in there?” Puck asks, and the SAC nods, leading the way up to the door. The SAC knocks, not waiting for an answer before he unlocks the door and holds it open for Puck.

“You’ve got a visitor,” the SAC calls, and Puck stops just inside the house, letting the door close as his stomach knots up suddenly. He hears feet on the wood floor, and then someone steps into the hallway from a room on the right.

It’s Finn.

“Oh my god,” Puck whispers. “You really are here.” Finn’s hair is shorter than Puck can ever remember seeing it, and he’s got a full beard, and he’s seven years older, but Puck still knows it’s him, and he puts a hand on the wall behind him. “Finn.”

Finn’s mouth shapes the word “Puck,” but no sound comes out. He swallows, touches his tongue to his lower lip, and his eyes sweep from Puck’s head down to his feet and back up. He swallows again.

“I’m sorry you got cut off,” Puck blurts out. “I thought you were Burt’s lovechild.”

Finn looks stunned and confused, and he mouths “What?” He keeps looking at Puck and shaking his head.

“You’ve seen him,” the SAC says. “Can we go?”

“No,” Puck says, giving the SAC a weird look. “It’s been seven years!”

“Don’t go!” Finn blurts out.

“I didn’t know,” Puck says, stepping closer to Finn. “Not until last month. I tried to find you in Germany.”

“I know you didn’t know,” Finn says. “How— what are you wearing?”

“My uniform? Air Force. I was stationed in Germany for a while, that’s the crazy part.”

“Oh. That’s why I had to go to Portugal.”

“He really did move you to Portugal?” Puck says, sighing and feeling disgusted with Burt all over again. “I’m going to get you out of here, okay? We’ll bring you home.”

“Home?” Finn repeats. “Lima?”

“No, not Lima, in Georgetown. Perk of having an evil father-in-law, I guess,” Puck says.

“Burt isn’t evil. Wasn’t evil,” Finn says. “You mean Burt, right? You and Kurt really did get married? They said you did.”

“Yeah, we really did. Almost three years ago.” Puck lifts his left hand briefly. “And really? You’re going to defend him, too? After you ended up in Europe for seven years?”

“He was trying to protect me. There were bad people after me.”

“No, that’s just— I’ll just wait and argue with both of you at the same time.” Puck glances at the SAC and then closes the distance between him and Finn, giving him a quick hug. “I’m going to— shit, you really do smell like it.”

“Like what?” Finn says, wrapping his arms around Puck and squeezing, not letting go even when Puck does. “Holy shit, it’s you.”

“Yeah, it’s me, and there’s this cologne… we thought it was pretty close to how you smelled, but you really do smell just like it,” Puck says.

“I’m not wearing any cologne right now, though. I don’t have any of my personal stuff here, except a few clothes,” Finn says. “Could be in the hoodie, I guess.”

“Well, I found it in Austria. Maybe it just really smells like you. I’m going to get this guy to let me get you out of here, okay?”

Finn nods. “Is Mom okay? Is Kurt okay?”

“Carole’s hanging in there. It’s been kind of rough on Kurt. I didn’t have any proof you were really alive until a few days ago, so how was I supposed to tell him all the bad stuff?” Puck shakes his head. “We missed you.”

“I missed you, too,” Finn says, tightening the hug a little more.

The SAC clears his throat. “This is very touching, gentlemen, but clearly Staff Sergeant Puckerman and I have some talking to do.”

Finn tightens the hug a little more, then releases Puck, stepping back. “Yeah,” he says.

“I’ll see you soon, okay?” Puck says.

“Yeah,” Finn says. The look on his face is like a less-sad version of the look on Kurt’s face on Tuesday night. “I’m really happy you and Kurt are together.”

Puck stops at the door and studies Finn for a moment. “You know, we said that a few times. More than a few times. That it would have made you happy. We just… I never expected any sort of confirmation of that.” He glances at the SAC, already outside and looking even more impatient, and he lowers his voice a little. “We love you. I’ll see you soon.”

“Love you,” Finn says quietly.

The SAC comes back up the stairs, closing and locking the door, and Puck looks steadily at him. “Are we discussing terms today or Monday morning?”

The SAC motions for Puck to get back in the car, then says, “Tell me what you’re thinking, and come back Monday morning. I have to discuss it with my superiors.”

“Finn’s released from custody and granted full immunity for any illegal acts he may have perpetuated at Burt’s behest, and in exchange, you get the full notarized letter,” Puck says. “And if you could just take me home instead of back to the FBI.”

“I’ll see you Monday morning, then,” the SAC says, not saying anything else after asking for Puck’s address, but when he pulls up near the condo, he pauses before unlocking the doors. “Unofficially, I’d bring the letter, just in case.”

Puck smiles at him. “Thanks. See you Monday.”

It’s not even noon, but all Puck can do is pace around the condo, waiting for Kurt to get home, and even though he knows it’ll be at least 1530 before Kurt gets home, he can’t make himself leave at all, not even for food. When he finally hears the door open, Puck jumps up.

“Kurt!”

“Puck?” Kurt answers, sounding tired.

“I have to tell you something. Most of something. Part of something,” Puck says, walking over to Kurt and giving him a fast kiss. Kurt sighs and somehow looks even more exhausted and defeated.

“Can it wait until I pour myself a glass of wine?” Kurt asks.

“No,” Puck says, shaking his head and taking Kurt’s hand to pull him towards the sofa. “I know I’ve been acting kinda crazy, working on something, but I found h— I found the answer today. I can’t tell you all of it until Monday, but it’s so good, Kurt.”

Kurt gives Puck a thin, forced-looking smile. “Okay. I’m glad you found what you were looking for,” he says. “I had a long day. I’d like a glass of wine and a hot bath.”

Puck shakes his head again. “You don’t understand. It sounds crazy, I’m going to have to show you, but I need you to be here on Monday. Can you do that? Please?”

“Okay, Puck. I’ll be here,” Kurt says. “Can I go now?”

“Yeah,” Puck says softly, dropping Kurt’s hands and stepping away. “I love you.”

“I love you, too,” Kurt says, his shoulders sagging even more as he turns away from Puck and towards the kitchen.

Puck watches Kurt take a glass of wine up to the tub, not knowing what else to say, because there’s no way that he wants to spend the weekend arguing, either. Instead, he goes out and spends way more than he’s used to on groceries, catches up all of the laundry, and paces around the condo looking for things to do, which he’s sure is hard for Kurt to deal with. Kurt looks sad the entire weekend, even when Puck brings home his favorites for dinner Saturday and Sunday nights, and takes at least four showers.

On Monday morning, Puck decides he’s probably past the point of the uniform helping, and he puts on civvies before getting out the notarized letter and zipping it in an inside pocket. He’s ready an hour before he needs to leave, and he drinks too much coffee before deciding he should go.

“Hopefully it’ll only be an hour or two,” Puck says to Kurt. “I love you.”

“I love you,” Kurt says. He catches Puck’s hand before he can turn away, looking up into Puck’s eyes. “I love you, Puck.”

Puck smiles and kisses Kurt. “I love you too. Think of this as an early anniversary present, okay?”

Kurt’s smile barely reaches his eyes, but it does, at least. “Okay. See you soon.”

Puck squeezes Kurt’s hand before dropping it, then heads out the door. The FBI gives him a little trouble, but it feels almost perfunctory before they show Puck the documents that grant Finn immunity, Finn's signature already on them.

“Let’s go get him, and you’ll get this,” Puck says, patting his pocket.

“We’ll still need you, Mr. Hummel, and Mr. Hudson available for depositions and appearing at any hearings that result,” the SAC says.

“That’s fine. We’ll be happy to assist,” Puck says as he stands.

The drive out to Hillcrest feels like it takes even longer, and Puck frowns as they pull up.

“Did you tell him we were coming today?”

“He signed the documents, as you saw, and he got his personal effects back,” the SAC says. “That’s all.”

Puck nods and climbs out of the car as soon as it stops rolling, walking ahead of the SAC to knock on the door. The door swings open, and Finn is standing there, looking rumpled and freshly clean-shaven, with a wide, surprised smile on his face.

“Puck,” Finn says. “You came back.”

“SAC said you had your stuff?” Puck asks. “C’mon, let’s get out of here.”

“I can go already?” Finn asks, looking at the SAC for confirmation.

The SAC nods. "You're free to go. We have the evidence we need thanks to Staff Sergeant Puckerman."

“What evidence, other than the stuff I told you?” Finn asks

“Burt left a notarized letter. I’m handing it to them when we get out of the car at home,” Puck says. "We traded it and your testimony for your immunity. Didn't you read the paperwork you signed?"

“Yeah, kinda.” Finn just shrugs as he keeps looking suspiciously at the SAC, like he’s worried it’s a trick of some kind. “So after seven years, I can just— I can go? Just like that?”

“You’re free to go. As I told Staff Sergeant Puckerman, we’ll need the three of you to be available for deposition, but he assured me that wouldn’t be a problem, that you’d still be in the District.”

“See?” Puck says. “They’re just giving us a ride to Georgetown.”

“To your place in Georgetown. Where Kurt is.” Finn’s suspicious look starts to fade, replaced with one of childlike excitement, a look Puck remembers well. “Let’s go!”

Puck grins and heads back towards the car, taking one of Finn’s two rolling suitcases. This time, he climbs in the back behind the driver’s seat, Finn behind the now-empty passenger seat, and Puck doesn’t really know what to do with himself, so he makes himself fold his hands together.

“Kurt’s at home. He doesn’t know it’s you, though,” Puck says as they ride across DC.

“Oh shit, he still doesn’t know?” Finn asks. “What if he’s pissed? Will he be pissed? Shit, have you told Mom? Shit.”

“Why would he be pissed? No, I— he was going to think I was a little bit crazy, or a lot crazy, and I’ve already had to run off to Germany the one time,” Puck says with a sigh. “We’ll tell Carole soon. It’s going to piss a lot of people off. Not you being alive, but everything Burt did.”

“I still don’t understand what it is he did, other than try to protect me,” Finn says.

“Yeah, he was the whole reason you were in ‘danger’,” Puck says, making air quotes with his fingers. “He was in pretty damn deep with some corrupt behind the scenes stuff, and they threatened to expose him and, I guess, you, so instead he faked your death and sent you to Europe.”

“Shit, Puck,” Finn says. “And all this time, he let you guys think I was dead. He never told you it wasn’t true. Not even Mom or Kurt.”

“Yeah. Guess it explains the no-limits spending on a few things. And it’s possible or even probable he pulled strings to get me extra leave, plus I guess I’ll never know about getting DC instead of Langley or Lackland,” Puck says. “It doesn’t make up for it, though.”

“But you and Kurt got together,” Finn says. “And you’re happy?”

“Yeah,” Puck says, nodding slowly, because he doesn’t really know that there’s any way to explain how present Finn’s always felt for the two of them, much less how candidly he and Kurt have always acknowledged that they were both in love with Finn. “There are some things that Kurt and I were the only ones who understood.”

Finn nods, too. “Yeah. I guess— I mean, I kind of feel like a stranger now. I don’t know anything about your lives. I don’t know what happened to everybody else. All of you went on with your lives and I’ve just been stuck.”

“That’s kinda true and kinda not true,” Puck says, staring out the window and collecting his thoughts. “You’ll have to remind Kurt and I if we assume you know something, because for us, you were here. Between the two of us, we felt like we were the ones who didn’t move on.”

“I’m so sorry,” Finn says. He grabs Puck’s hand, his own larger hand engulfing it.

“In a day or two, ask us about exactly how hard it is to find wedding bands that really are three strands in a braid,” Puck says. “It’s harder than you’d think.”

“Okay,” Finn says, sounding confused. It’s been seven years, almost, since Puck felt Finn’s hand around his, and it was one of the things Puck never let himself think about. What good did it do, had been his thought process, but now with Finn sitting beside him, he suddenly feels like crying.

“We’re almost there,” Puck says, clearing his throat. “You can drop us off right in front, there,” he tells the SAC, pointing. “Ready?”

“I don’t know. I hope so,” Finn says.

“Yeah, I hope Kurt is, too,” Puck admits as the car stops. They climb out, Puck reaches back in to hand the SAC the letter, and after the SAC looks at the notary's seal and counts the pages, he nods at them. They walk up to the door, where Puck unlocks the door and steps in, carrying one of Finn’s suitcases, and putting it down to the side, gesturing for Finn to stand there, too. “Kurt?”

“I’m in here,” Kurt calls back from the living room. “Did you find what you were looking for?”

“Yeah.” Puck steps towards the living room, watching Kurt pace, red wine in hand. “I’m sorry I couldn’t tell you, but everything that led up to this was… well, horrible, if I didn’t find him, but I did, and… he’s home.”

Kurt’s eyebrows raise when Puck says ‘him’, like he knows exactly who Puck means. “What are you saying?” he asks. The glass in Kurt’s hand trembles. “Puck, what do you mean, he’s home?”

“He’s here,” Puck says, looking back to where he left Finn and nodding his head. “That’s what I mean.” Finn nods back and steps forward into Kurt’s line of site.

“Hey, Kurt,” Finn says.

Kurt’s wine glass hits the floor, shattering on the wood and spraying glass and red wine all over the wall, the rug, and Kurt’s pants leg. “No,” Kurt whispers. “No, it can’t be you. It can’t really be you.” He brings both shaking hands to cover his mouth, his eyes brimming with tears.

“It’s really me,” Finn says. “I swear it’s really me.”

“He smells right, Kurt,” Puck says, stepping a little closer and offering Kurt his hand. “And he’s like… FBI verified. Fingerprints, full physical, I think they even mentioned DNA.”

“Oh my god,” Kurt says behind his hands. He lets his hands drop and reaches for Puck’s outstretched hand. Puck pulls him closer, reaching for Finn at the same time and pulling him in, too. Kurt puts out his other hand, and as soon as it touches Finn’s chest, it’s like the tension suddenly breaks. Kurt bursts into tears and starts running his hand all over Finn’s chest and arm, clinging tightly to Puck with his other hand. Finn smiles down at Kurt, then Kurt puts his hand behind Finn’s neck, pulling his head down and kissing all over his face, on his cheeks, his eyelids, his lips, his chin. After every few kisses, Kurt turns to Puck and kisses him hard on the mouth, before returning to peppering Finn’s face with frantic kisses.

“I’m so sorry I couldn’t tell you,” Puck says. “I know it was awful. I had to find him for you. For us.”

“I know, I know, I love you,” Kurt says, letting go of Puck’s hand to put that hand on the back of Puck’s neck, so both Finn and Puck’s heads are close to Kurt’s. He kisses Puck again, then kisses Finn on the lips, with what looks like the same fierceness as how he kissed Puck. “You found him. He found you!”

Puck looks at Finn, who looks pleasantly stunned, and he smiles at him. “I told you. We love you.”

“Yes, we love you,” Kurt says, finally taking a break from the frantic kissing to alternate between beaming—still teary-eyed—at Finn and beaming at Puck. He leans forward to press his face to Finn’s chest and inhales deeply. “Ohhh.”

“Yeah,” Puck says, nodding. “I know.”

“I worried that we remembered wrong. I worried we made it up.”

“But we didn’t.”

“We didn’t,” Kurt agrees, his fingers stroking the back of Puck’s neck. “Oh, Puck. I thought— I thought maybe you had found somebody else. I didn’t know.”

“I wouldn’t— okay, I sort of did,” Puck says with a laugh. “Just the same someone else.”

“I see. I understand now,” Kurt says, also starting to laugh.

“I’m so sorry,” Finn says softly. “I didn’t mean to hurt you. I didn’t want to leave you.” He looks at Puck over Kurt’s head, but his words seem to encompass both of them.

“It doesn’t matter. You’re here,” Kurt says. “You’re here.”

“He is, and—” Puck stops. “Kurt, your foot.”

“Hmm?” Kurt looks down at his foot, and the dark red spots all over the white rug beneath it. “Oh. I think I cut it on the glass.”

“Can I get you a band-aid or something? Does it hurt? Maybe you should sit down,” Finn says.

“We can take him upstairs to—” Puck stops. “To lie down. Oops?”

“What? What’s wrong?” Finn asks.

“There’s, um.” Puck starts laughing. “There’s only one bed.”

“Oops,” Kurt says, giggling and hopping on one foot.

Finn gives Kurt a strange look. “I can sleep on the couch. It’s fine. I’m just glad to—”

“You are not sleeping on the sofa,” Puck says. “What’s the best way to put it, Kurt?”

“You can show him the cologne?” Kurt suggests.

“Uh, guys, Kurt’s foot is really bleeding.”

“Okay, let’s go upstairs,” Puck says, scooping Kurt up and heading towards the stairs. “Finn, the bathroom’s right at the top of the stairs, and the medicine cabinet’s set up like you’d expect.”

Finn follows Puck up the stairs and diverts into the bathroom once he gets to the top. Kurt giggles again, kissing Puck before he sets him on the bed.

“I love you so much,” Kurt says. “I love you, Puck. I love you.”

“I love you, too. Happy anniversary?”

“Oh god, yes,” Kurt says.

“I got everything,” Finn says from the bedroom doorway. He has a washcloth, a box of large band-aids, a pack of gauze, a roll of medical tape, and a tube of Neosporin all in his hands. “So, the weirdest thing. You guys have a bottle of my cologne in your medicine cabinet!”

“That’s probably not the weirdest thing,” Puck says, taking the washcloth and putting it under Kurt’s foot. “The weirdest thing is probably what we do with it.” Kurt starts to giggle again, sounding more light-headed now.

“What do you do with it?” Finn asks.

“Hang on, this is going to hurt,” Puck says to Kurt before he starts picking out small pieces of glass from Kurt’s foot. “And we, well. Put it on sometimes, so it’d feel like you were here.”

Kurt makes a little whimper as Puck pulls out another piece of glass. “We couldn’t let you go, so we pretended,” he says.

“Pretended… when?” Finn asks.

“In bed,” Puck answers.

“Oh,” Finn says.

Puck shrugs and smiles. “Hand me the gauze?” Finn hands Puck the gauze.

“We wanted you there,” Kurt says. His face is flushed and his eyes are very bright.

“You did?” Finn asks. “For— how long?”

“I think we’re doing a bad job at explaining this,” Puck says as he starts to wrap up Kurt’s foot. “There’s a fundamental misunderstanding here.”

“Mmm, yes, I think so,” Kurt says.

“Is there? What don’t I understand?” Finn asks.

“It was always the three of us. You just weren’t here,” Puck says.

Kurt nods. “From the very beginning. Every day. We were waiting on someone we didn’t think could come home, so we pretended you did.”

“We weren’t settling or anything. I love Kurt, and Kurt loves me, but we both acknowledged we were two out of three,” Puck adds. “It was years before we really fought at all, even. You’re still part of this.”

“I was happy for you, when I heard,” Finn says. “I swear I was. But I also felt like I’d lost something. Like I missed out on something I really wanted.”

“I told Kurt about that day winter break senior year we were analyzing his, uh. Shimmy,” Puck says, grinning at Finn. “Remember?”

Finn gives Puck the crooked grin that Puck has missed for seven years. “I remember,” he says. “I don’t think either of us would’ve said no if he’d asked.”

“See?” Puck says triumphantly, looking at Kurt. “I told you. Unspoken understanding. Hand me the tape?” he asks Finn.

As Finn hands Puck the tape, Kurt’s smile widens. “Would you say no now?” he asks Finn. “If I asked.”

Finn looks at Puck first, and Puck grins. “Don’t make him ask twice. He gets whiny.”

“No, I don’t!” Kurt insists. “But you have to answer the question, Finn. Would you? To both of us?”

Finn’s face gets a little red as he shakes his head. “I wouldn’t tell either of you no. I couldn’t. I love you, and I’ve wanted you both for a long time.”

“Finish my foot,” Kurt whines at Puck.

“He whines,” Puck says to Finn, pulling off a piece of the tape and starting to apply it. “You need to ask him one more question, Kurt.” He leans up towards Kurt’s head and whispers, “Are you going to have to have help taking off the uniform?”

“You know I will,” Kurt says, “but we can ask him about that later. Right now I just want help with what you’re currently wearing.”

“This? Should be easy,” Puck says, putting on another piece of tape and then gathering the washcloth carefully and setting it on the dresser. “All done.”

“Good,” Kurt says, reaching for Finn and pulling him down to the bed, then holding out his other hand for Puck. Puck takes Kurt’s hand and lets Kurt guide him back to the bed. Kurt sits up, putting his lips to Puck’s ear. “Between us?” he whispers.

“Like usual, really,” Puck says, nodding and smiling before kissing Kurt. “Remember how we said we love you?” he asks Finn.

“Yes,” Finn says.

“We’re going to show you now,” Puck says, leaning in to kiss Finn with one hand on the back of Finn’s neck. Kurt makes the happiest little noise before Puck feels Kurt’s lips on his fingers and against Finn’s neck. Seven years later, and Finn still kisses the same, like he’s trying to get everything from Puck all at once and might devour him in the process. Kurt’s hand rests on Puck’s arm as Kurt continues kissing Finn’s neck, breathing in deeply. Puck keeps kissing Finn until he can barely get enough oxygen, and he pulls back enough to stare at Finn and smile again.

“Hey,” Finn says, smiling back. “I remember you.”

“Yeah, I remember you, too. I missed you.”

“We both missed you,” Kurt says. He puts a hand on the side of Finn’s face, turning him so they can kiss. Puck would be lying if he claimed he’d never thought about watching the two of them, even years before, but there’s something about the way that Kurt’s face loses most of the tension it’s carried for the past seven years that makes Puck want to just laugh happily.

Kurt’s hand moves from Finn’s face, reaching for Puck’s hand and pulling it, moving against Finn until they’ve all resettled, with Finn flat on his back in the middle, and Kurt and Puck both half on top of him, one on each side. Finn’s arms wrap around both of them, holding them tight and close as he kisses Kurt for several minutes, before turning back to Puck.

Puck knows in the back of his mind that every phrase in his mind is cliché or cheesy, but he can’t stop smiling, even while he and Finn are kissing, and then Finn starts making noises while they’re still kissing, straight into Puck’s mouth. Puck reaches across Finn, putting his hand on Kurt’s arm and running his hand down it. When Puck’s hand reaches Kurt’s, Kurt lifts his hand, moving it on top of Puck’s and then running their joined hands down Finn’s chest, lingering over his stomach, and then finally down to cup Finn’s cock through his jeans.

Finn moans into Puck’s mouth, lifting his hips off the bed. Puck presses down a little harder with their hands, opening his mouth wider. When Finn moans even louder, Kurt laughs, curling his fingers on top of Puck’s.

“Maybe you should show Finn your skills in undressing,” Puck says, moving their hands up Finn’s cock a little. “Undressing him, I mean.”

Kurt laughs again. “I’m very good at undressing,” he says, sliding his hand from on top of Puck’s and up under Finn’s shirt. “Can you sit up a little?”

Finn sits up enough for Kurt to lift Finn’s shirt, slowly drawing it up. He plants little kisses across Finn’s chest, flicking his tongue lightly over Finn’s nipples to make him moan again, and finally pulls the shirt up over Finn’s head and off. After the shirt hits the ground, Kurt kisses all over Finn’s shoulder, pressing his palm to Finn’s chest to lay him back down.

“Kiss him while I finish?” Kurt asks Puck.

“I think I can manage that.” Puck kisses Finn again, anticipating some kind of reaction along the way, though he’s not sure what exactly Kurt will do. He can hear Kurt unzipping Finn’s jeans several seconds before Finn lifts up off the bed, whimpering into Puck’s mouth as they kiss. Puck reaches down with his hand, opening his eyes long enough to see Finn’s cock in Kurt’s mouth, and he puts his hand on top of Kurt’s head. Kurt looks up at Puck and smiles, the corners of his eyes crinkling and the corners of his mouth just barely lifting.

Puck moves his mouth to where Finn’s neck and shoulder meets, taking a deep breath of his own before kissing across Finn’s shoulders and down his chest. Finn’s left hand rests on the back of Puck’s head, while his right hand covers Puck’s on top of Kurt’s head.

“Oh, oh that’s so good,” Finn breathes. “Oh shit that’s so good, so good.”

“Yeah, he’s good at that,” Puck says, lifting his head to smile at Finn.

“Yeah, he is,” Finn says, moaning again. He bucks his hips a little, his hand heavy on Puck’s.

“Don’t be too good, Kurt,” Puck jokes, kissing Finn’s chest. “We’ve still got to get undressed.”

Kurt lifts his head. “I can always be too good later,” he says.

“I think we’d all enjoy that.” Puck sits up enough to pull off his shirt, then lies back down, half on top of Finn again. Kurt does the same, wriggling out of his shirt before climbing back up Finn, leaning across his chest to kiss Puck deeply, his hand on the back of Puck’s head. Puck puts his hand flat on Finn’s chest, rubbing up and down while he kisses Kurt.

Puck feels a hand on his fly, popping open the button and sliding down the zipper, then the hand—Finn's hand, still huge and warm—reaches inside to palm Puck's cock. Puck is the one whimpering into their kiss this time, pushing against Finn’s hand.

"I always loved how you felt in my hand," Finn says.

“I remember. Even a couple of times when other people were around,” Puck says, moving his hips again.

"Once I realized I wanted you and you wanted me, I couldn't keep my hands off you," Finn says. He turns his head towards Kurt. "And we both wanted you."

"If you'd told me, how could I have said no to you?" Kurt asks. He wriggles again, and this time his pants and underwear slide off, the naked length of his body pressed against Finn's side.

“I’m behind,” Puck jokes, pushing his jeans down and then kicking them off. “And now we all know.”

"We missed you, Finn," Kurt says. "We knew where you should be, but you weren't there, and we missed you so much."

"I missed you. I was so alone for so long," Finn says.

"There was never anybody else?" Kurt asks.

"Warm bodies. Nobody who stayed. Nobody I wanted to stay."

“We want you to stay,” Puck says.

"We want you here between us, not just us pretending," Kurt says. "We'd put on the cologne that smells like you, and Puck would slide into me, and we'd both imagine you between us."

Puck nods. “And now you’re here. Between us.”

"I want to be," Finn says. "Just like that, like you pretended."

“We can definitely do that.” Puck kisses Finn’s shoulder again, holding out one hand towards Kurt. Kurt rolls away from Finn briefly, coming back with the bottle of lube from beside the bed. He leans across Finn and kisses Puck as he hands him the bottle, then he moves again, tilting his face up so he can kiss Finn again.

Puck flips open the lube, getting the fingers of one hand slick before handing the bottle back to Kurt, and he laughs a little as he moves his hand towards Finn’s ass.

"What's funny?" Finn asks, rolling more toward Kurt and rocking his hips as Kurt starts jerking him off with a slicked-up hand.

“So many hands. It’s almost like an obstacle course,” Puck says, sliding one finger inside Finn. “Really fun prize, though.”

Finn laughs, too. "Okay, yeah, I can't argue with that."

Kurt whines on the other side of Finn, pouring more lube into his hand and spreading it along Finn's cock. "I don't need fingers. I just need you."

"Puck?" Finn says.

“I told you he’d whine,” Puck says as he pushes a second finger into Finn. “But he’s probably right.”

"Of course I'm right," Kurt says, rolling away from Finn and then backing up until his back is just against Finn's chest. "Please, Finn. I've been waiting for you for so long."

"Yeah," Finn says, kissing the back of Kurt's neck and shoulder. He shifts slightly, running a hand up Kurt’s leg and bringing it forward, then Kurt lets out a long, quavering moan as Finn must be sliding into him.

"Oh. Oh, Finn. Oh, Puck, please, be with us now, be in him," Kurt says, little moans between his words.

“I know, Kurt.” Puck moves his hand from Finn’s ass to his own cock, sliding his fingers down it before positioning himself just behind Finn and slowly starting to push in. “Right where we’re supposed to be.”

"Shit, this is amazing," Finn says. He rocks back onto Puck's cock, then forward, making Kurt cry out in a way Puck knows well.

“You feel so good, Finn,” Puck says.

“This is like a dream,” Kurt says. “I can hear you both. I can feel you both.”

“I don’t want to close my eyes,” Puck says, one hand on Finn’s back and the other arm stretched across Finn, his fingers touching Kurt.

“It is like a dream,” Finn says. “I’m afraid I’m going to wake up in Germany and I’ll be alone again.”

Puck presses his face against Finn as he keeps thrusting into him. “Can we all agree to never go back to Germany?”

“Yes. Can we all agree to stay in this bed forever?” Kurt says.

Finn’s arm is draped over Kurt, resting against Puck’s hand on Kurt’s waist, and Puck can feel Finn moving, his hand dropping lower. Kurt whimpers and bucks his hips, pushing Finn back against Puck again.

“I vote yes.” Puck thrusts into Finn faster. “Finn?”

“Yeah, that sounds—oh, oh fuck, oh fuck that’s—good.”

“I love you. I love you. I love both of you,” Puck says.

Kurt cries out softly. Puck can see Finn kissing the side of Kurt’s neck. Puck brushes his fingers over Kurt’s skin, his other hand grabbing at Finn’s shoulders, and each movement he makes is more forceful than the one before it. All of the noises Kurt’s making are so familiar, suggesting he’s very close to coming, and Puck grins against Finn’s skin, knowing Finn’s causing that.

“Oh god, oh god, Finn,” Kurt whines. “Oh god, Puck. Oh god, yes, don’t stop, don’t—” He breaks off into a high-pitched wordless cry, and Puck can feel Kurt shaking under his hand.

“That’s because of you,” Puck says to Finn, getting his mouth as close to Finn’s ear as he can. “Look at him, what you do to him.”

“Yeah, yeah, fuck, that’s hot, so beautiful,” Finn says, voice breathy as he rocks back onto Puck’s cock. “Puck, that’s so good.”

“We’re all here, we’re all right here,” Puck says, moving his hand from Kurt onto Finn’s hip, using it to pull Finn even closer. “Let us hear you.”

“We love you so much. We’re so happy you’re here. We’re never letting you leave,” Kurt says.

Finn puts his hand on top of Puck’s, mouthing at the back of Kurt’s neck as he moans and bucks his hips, finally coming with a loud, rough cry. Puck keeps thrusting as he watches Finn, listening to him, and then he lets himself go completely, thrusting faster into Finn until he comes, yelling.

Kurt is crying softly on the other side of Finn, and after a few moments of lying there with Puck inside him, Finn shifts and lets him slide out, then rolls onto his back and pulls Kurt against him. He puts his other arm around Puck and drags him close, too, tucking Puck’s head between Finn’s neck and shoulder.

“You okay?” Finn asks. “Kurt?”

Kurt nods against Finn’s chest. “It’s happy crying. Relieved crying.”

“Just accept it and get used to it,” Puck says. “Kurt’s a sex crier.”

“No, I’m not,” Kurt says.

“Have you ever had sex with you?” Puck says. “’Cause I have, and I say you are a sex crier.”

“It’s only been a few times!”

“A few times that you haven’t? It’s been more than that when you haven’t,” Puck says, lifting his head a little and grinning at Kurt. “Don’t listen to him, Finn. I know what I’m talking about.”

“I believe you,” Finn says, smiling at both of them. “I love you.”

Kurt presses his still tear-wet face to Finn’s chest, breathing in. “I love you. We both do. Everything feels so right.”

“Yeah,” Finn says. “It does.”

“Oh. Except my foot is wet,” Kurt says. “Um. Puck?”

Puck half-sits, looking down at Kurt’s foot, and he winces. “The stay-in-bed forever plan is going to have to take a number, right after the number we’re going to have to take at the George Washington ER.”

“Oh, shit, yeah. Ouch,” Finn says, also sitting up enough to look at Kurt’s foot and its bled-through gauze-and-tape wrapping. “I think you probably need stitches.”

“I guess that means someone has to carry me back down the stairs,” Kurt says with a dramatic sigh.

“I’m never telling you what I do for PT again,” Puck says, sitting up fully and getting out fresh clothes for Kurt, which he and Finn pull on him. After the ER, they’ll come back home and probably end up in bed again, and Puck is fine with putting off their discussion about Burt until Tuesday morning. He’s sure that the truth of everything Burt did, even written in Burt’s own handwriting, will be hard to accept. Puck isn’t sure he’ll ever be able to forgive Burt for it, and he wouldn’t be surprised if Carole ends up feeling the same way. He knows it’s more complex for Finn and especially Kurt, though, so the hard part can wait one more day.

Once they’re all dressed, Puck scoops Kurt up and carries him down the stairs and out the front door, stepping carefully over the grey slush on the sidewalk. “You know, it’s a really nice day,” Puck says, even though it’s grey and he’s pretty sure they’re supposed to get more snow or at least sleet during the afternoon.

“It is. It’s beautiful,” Kurt says.

Finn nods. “Prettiest day I’ve seen in years.”

“I hope the ER isn’t crowded,” Puck says as they stop a taxi. “We need to get back home.”