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Darling, Everything’s on Fire

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Title: Darling, Everything’s on Fire
Author: gleek_inc
Rating: PG-13
Character(s)/Pairing(s): Puck/Kurt, Puck/Finn bromance, Finn/Kurt brothers, mentions of Mike/Tina, Sam/Mercedes, past Puck/Quinn
Genre: AU
Warning: Wrestling, talk of homophobia


Noah Puckerman stood in the middle of the ring, one arm wrapped around the shoulders of his best friend Finn Hudson and one raised in the air in victory. It was the biggest pay-per-view event of the year, the biggest match of their career, and they’d won. They were tag team champions and it felt great. He was on top of the world and from the huge grin on Finn’s face, he knew his friend felt the same way. Them standing in the middle of the ring, arms around each other, gold belts raised in the air, fans cheering their names, it had to make for great television and Puck knew it could only help their careers. The stronger the fan reaction, the better it was for them.

“Dude, this isn’t a dream, right?” Finn yelled in his ear.

“Definitely real,” Puck yelled back. The pain that would be burning through both their bodies after the adrenaline wore off would be proof enough that the moment was real.

All the pain, though, was worth it. He and Finn had been training together since they met in the development league when they were eighteen and when they were signed by Will Schuester to New Directions Wrestling, they were immediately placed as a tag team. They’d worked as a tag team before so it was easy for them to adapt their moves into something a little flashier that fit with the style Schuester wanted on his show. There were countless meetings with Artie Abrams, the head writer on staff, and plenty of dues to pay before they were accepted by the other wrestlers but they took the hazings, the losses, and the long wait, knowing one day it would pay off.

Puck could have stayed in the ring and basked in the fans’ love all night but they had to leave so the next match could start. The rest of their celebration would have to wait for the bar.

“Good job out there Noah,” Rachel Berry, one of the NDW’s veteran divas, greeted them as they walked through the curtains. “Finn, you should see the trainer. That fall when Jesse threw you over the rope looked pretty bad.”

Puck frowned and turned to his partner. He hadn’t noticed the fall, too focused on Jesse’s partner Blaine, but he wouldn’t put it passed Jesse St James to purposely throw Finn too hard for him to catch his weight. Jesse had a huge problem with the interest Rachel had in Finn, even though everyone else backstage knew the interest on both sides was nothing more than friendship. He and Finn taking the tag team titles from them tonight would just make Jesse’s jealousy worse. Puck would have to watch both their backs. Jesse’s partner, Blaine Anderson, seemed like an okay guy so hopefully he could keep his hot-headed partner calm.

“I will,” Finn promised her and Puck nodded to let her know he’d make sure Finn followed through on that promise. “Good luck tonight.”

“Thanks,” Rachel grinned at them as her music blared through the speakers. She was defending her divas’ title against Brittany, only one name necessary, and she was scheduled to keep her title. She was the company’s biggest female draw while Brittany’s character was the lackey for the company’s biggest female villain, Santana Lopez.

“Come on,” Puck gave Finn a gentle push toward the trainer’s area. “We can watch her match while Sue checks you over.”

Finn grumbled about being fine and over-protective partners but followed him to the trainer’s area and sat on one of the cots without protest. Puck sank into a chair next to the cot and they both turned their attention to the television and Rachel’s match. Sue Sylvester, in Puck’s opinion, was the perfect choice for the company’s trainer. She didn’t take any crap from the wrestlers and didn’t let anyone bully her into clearing someone to wrestle when they were injured.

Right now Sue was busy tending to the company’s newest solo wrestler, Rory Flanagan, who’d taken a pretty nasty looking hit during his opening match from Rick Nelsen. Rory tried to wave to them but Sue yanked his arm down and scolded him for moving when she‘d expressly told him to stay still. Finn waved back and Puck shot Rory a smile as they watched Rachel’s match and waited for Sue to finish.

While Finn’s attention stayed focused on the television, Puck’s wandered over to where their gold belts were lain on the bottom of the cot. It could be the only time in his career that he would be a champion. Tag teams didn’t last forever and there were no guarantees that both he and Finn would go on to have successful careers as solo wrestlers. He knew fan reactions and who they wanted to see played a factor in the creative team’s decision on who to place in which storyline and besides Finn, Puck barely interacted with any of the other wrestlers onscreen. Finn had gotten a few solo matches against Jesse and one mixed tag team match with Rachel against Jesse and Santana, the fans were eating up the jealous ex-boyfriend angle and Artie was pushing for an onscreen romance between Finn and Rachel. He swore he was working on something for Puck but a few of the other storylines had to run their course before they could start a new one.

“Oh shit,” Finn swore and Puck looked up to the TV to see the replay of Santana interfering in the match. It was planned, it always was, but sometimes Finn acted more like a fan than someone who knew the details of all the matches. He had to admit, though, the shot Santana gave Rachel while Brittany distracted the referee looked brutal.

“Alright Frankenteen, your turn,” Sue wheeled her chair over to Finn’s cot. “Ankle?”

“Yeah,” Finn nodded.

It didn’t take long for Sue to declare Finn’s ankle was just twisted and by that time, Rachel’s match had just ended. They went over to greet her as she came bouncing through the curtain with her own gold belt. With her win, she was the longest reigning female champion in the history of the company.

Rachel ran straight into their arms and Puck noticed the backstage camera crew hurry to get their hug filmed. It would end up in a video package on their next show, meant to make Jesse jealous even though it was completely spontaneous on Rachel’s part. She got excited and she liked to hug; they just happened to be the first bodies she found. There was nothing but friendship between Rachel and Finn but they both played their parts in the fake love triangle without complaint. Unlike Jesse, who couldn’t get over Rachel breaking up with him in both their fake and real relationships.

“Let’s find a place to watch the last match,” Rachel said, taking Finn’s hand and leading him away from the cameras. As soon as they rounded the corner, she grabbed Puck’s hand as well and lead them to her private locker room, a perk of being the diva’s champion. “Want anything to drink?”

“Shouldn’t you go see the trainer?” Finn asked as Puck got himself settled on Rachel’s couch.

“I’m fine,” Rachel brushed away his concern. “It looked worse than it was, I promise.”

Finn took a seat on the couch next to Puck and Rachel got them all bottles of water from her fridge before sitting on the other side of Finn. The last match of the night was for the ND championship belt, the biggest title in the company, and the current champion Sam Evans would be defending his title against Mike Chang. It was the only match of the night where neither wrestler played a villain character.

“So how do you boys plan on celebrating your big win?” Rachel asked as the ring announcer, Sugar, introduced Sam.

“Hard enough not to remember tomorrow morning,” Puck replied with a grin. He planned on getting drunk, or as drunk as the bar would allow before they kicked him out, then he’d go back to the hotel and drink until he passed out. He didn’t know if the tag team belt was going to be the highest moment in his career, but he was going to celebrate like it was. “How ‘bout you?”

“I’ll party tonight but not as hard as you,” Rachel laughed. “Mr Schuester’s scheduled Tina and I for a fan event in Buffalo so we have a flight to catch in the morning.”

Tina Cohen-Chang was Mike’s girlfriend onscreen and wife off-screen and had started wrestling with the company at the same time as Finn and Puck. She’d been with the company longer but had mostly worked behind the scenes with Mercedes Jones in wardrobe and Artie on the writing team. Puck hadn’t gotten a chance to know her well yet but the few times they had talked, she seemed like a sweet girl and it was clear how much she and Mike loved each other. As cute as they were together, they also reminded Puck that if he ever found someone he loved that much, he couldn’t be that open with them. It was a secret only Finn knew; Noah Puckerman was gay.<p>

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

No one was allowed in the bar that night unless affiliated with the NDW, much to the disappointment of the guys who were hoping to pick up some girls who’d have sex with them just because they were wrestlers. Puck preferred the closed bar. They weren’t huge celebrities but they had a lot of fans who enjoyed gossip and they didn’t need fans posting the details of the party on the internet forums. If any of the guys wanted to pick some a random girl, Puck knew there were more than a few stalking their hotel lobby.

He was sitting at a booth with Sam, who’d retained his championship, and his girlfriend Mercedes, waiting for Finn to return from taking a phone call from his brother. Puck had met Finn’s mom and stepfather but he’s never met his stepbrother, though Finn talked about him all the time. There was always a protectiveness to Finn’s voice when he talked about Kurt, about how the people in Hollywood who kept passing him over didn’t appreciate Kurt’s talent, about how Kurt’s ex-boyfriend who’d cheated on him would never find someone as special as Kurt, and it made Puck curious as to why Kurt never visited Finn. Their parents had been to a few shows but whenever they had a show close to Kurt, it was Finn who visited him.

When Finn returned looking angry, Puck knew it either had something to do with Kurt or he’d run into Jesse.

“Ready to go?” he asked before Sam or Mercedes could say anything. “Sue will kill you if you don’t put some ice on that ankle like she told you to.”

“Nah,” Finn shook his head even though Puck was already pulling him toward the door. “Okay, yes. I thought you wanted to party til you passed out.”

“The party was lame,” he lied. He could have easily gotten drunk for free with all his friends willing to pay for his celebration drinks but Finn was his tag team partner and best friend and something was obviously bothering him. Finn had turned down parties for him and Puck figured it was time to return the favour. “How’s Kurt?”

He heard Finn sigh as they headed to the elevator. They could still hear the party going on in the hotel bar and Puck hoped it didn’t get out of hand. Schue would have all their asses if someone hurt themselves because they got too drunk. Last month Karofsky had tripped over a street curb and sprained his ankle, resulting in him missing three shows, and Schuester had promised huge fines for anyone who repeated his mistake.

“Kurt got passed over for that role I told you about,” Finn sighed, jabbing the up arrow harder than necessary. “He thought it was his best audition ever and he still didn’t get the part.”

“That sucks, Man.” From the way Finn talked, Kurt was one of the best actors he’d ever seen. Puck knew there was probably was brotherly bias present but, knowing that Kurt taught Finn about cues and mic skills, Puck had to admit Finn was the better of their tag team at shooting promos or giving speeches. It still felt forced for Puck at times.

“He wants to visit,” Finn added as the elevator finally arrived. They stepped in and the doors closed behind them, leaving them alone. “I tried to talk him out of it but he really wants to meet everybody. I even told him I’d ask you and Rachel to come with me to visit him but he wants to come visit me this time.”

“Would it be so bad if your brother got to see what you’re doing with your life?” Puck asked as the elevator let them out on their floor. “How many people even know you have a brother?”

“I don’t tell people about Kurt unless I trust them,” Finn swiped his key card into the slot and opened the door. He stepped in and held the door for Puck. “It’s not like the people in our line of work are known for being accepting, open-minded people.”

Puck nodded at that. He played the part of a straight wrestler who hit on every female employee well but he’d never followed up with any of them. If anyone suspected it was all an act, they hadn’t let on to either him or Finn. And he was sure Finn would tell him if someone asked him.

“He survived Hollywood for the last three years,” Puck pointed out. Finn always talked about how strong Kurt was, how he put up with high school bullies, how Kurt took care of him when their mom couldn’t, how he worked two jobs just to pay his rent while auditioning for every acting job he found. It was clear they were close, even if they weren’t blood brothers.

Puck threw himself down on his bed while Finn sat on the couch. Since they were scheduled to win the tag team titles, and they had, they had a bigger room than they were usually assigned. It wasn’t much bigger, a couch plus the usual table and two chairs and a Jacuzzi in the bathroom, but neither of them were complaining. They’d been happy enough with the two beds and a shower rooms they’d had when they first started with the company.

“I took him once,” Finn’s voice was quiet. Puck sat up so he could listen. “I was seventeen and he was eighteen. I’d been doing backyard wrestling, remember I told you about it?” Puck nodded. He’d done the same thing as a teenager. A group of teenagers with a backyard wrestling ring where they learned as much as they could from each other. “They seemed like cool guys and when Kurt came to pick me up one day, they were really friendly to him. Kurt wanted to see what I was doing, probably make sure I wasn’t going to get myself killed even though he never said that, so I asked the guys if it was okay. They all said sure so Kurt came with me. And it was really good. The guys were talking to him and helping me explain stuff to him and they kept him calm when I was in the ring. I thought it was so cool that my friends were getting along with my brother. I left him with them so I could get changed. I was only in the house for like two minutes but when I came back out, they were in a circle around him, shoving him around and laughing at him. I thought they were going to hurt him before I got there.”

“But you did stop them?”

“I was yelling at them so Darren’s mom came out of the house,” Finn replied. “They had to let us both go. I never went back there and I almost quit wrestling but Kurt wouldn’t let me.”

“So he’s the reason I have to carry your ass in the ring?” Puck joked. It was the best and fastest way to cheer up Finn and, sure enough, his partner did laugh. Finn looked too close to crying over the memory and the guilt and Puck couldn’t allow that, not when they were supposed to be riding the high of winning the tag team titles. “So what if you introduced Kurt to me and Rachel first, at like a lunch or something, then if Kurt still wants to, the four of us could bring him to the arena. No one will mess with him if he’s hanging around us and Rachel. And if we can get either Sue or Mercedes involved, they’re really good at seeing through people if their acceptance is fake.”

“That doesn’t sound too bad,” Finn agreed. “I’ll tell Kurt tomorrow and see what he says.”

Puck grinned as he laid back down on his bed. He could hear Finn get up and start getting ready for bed but he didn’t move. He was comfortable and the adrenaline of their win was wearing off so he was tired and a little sore. But he didn’t care. He was a tag team champion and in a few days, he was finally going to meet the mysterious Kurt Hummel that Finn placed on such a high pedestal.

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

“He’s late,” Finn said after looking at his watch for what Puck swore had to be the thousandth time that hour. First Finn woke him up an hour earlier than planned so they’d both be ready, woke Rachel so she’d be ready, and insisted they get to the airport a half hour before Kurt’s flight landed. “You don’t think something happened to their plane, do you?”

“Finn, calm down,” Rachel took his hand and pulled him toward some empty seats. Puck followed them and sat on Finn’s other side. “Stay here with Puck and I’ll check with the information desk. I’m sure his flight’s just been delayed for a few minutes and the board’s not updated yet.”

Puck was sure Finn didn’t notice Rachel leaving, his eyes were locked on the arrival’s board that still wasn’t showing the updated information. He knew Finn was close to his brother, and after learning about their past Puck knew Finn was protective, but he never expected an everyday thing like a delayed flight to turn his partner into a nervous wreck. It was a good thing Kurt hadn’t found a love for wrestling like Finn had or else Finn would be a permanent bundle of nervousness.

“His flight’s landed,” Rachel was back and she stood to block Finn’s view of the board. “They just have a little backlog of planes on the runway but they should be letting them out soon.”

“Thanks Rach,” Finn managed a smile for her.

“So did Artie tell you what his plans for you are?” Puck asked her. All the talent had had meetings with Artie during the week after the pay-per-view so everyone would know what their storylines would be as they set up for the pay-per-view next month. Artie wanted him and Finn to have a feud with Jesse and Blaine that would result in a rematch for the belts next month.

“Feuding with Santana because of her interfering in my match with Brittany,” Rachel replied with a roll of her eyes. “Honestly, I was hoping for something a little less obvious but I trust Artie.”

Finn startled them by standing up and walking away without a word. Puck figured he must have spotted his missing brother and moved to follow, with Rachel right behind him. They found Finn not too far away, swinging a smaller man around and earning dirty looks from passer-byers who almost got hit.

“Finn, people are staring,” a muffled voice protested from somewhere in Finn’s arms. “That means let go,” it added when Finn didn’t move.

“This is Kurt,” Finn announced when he’d finally released his grip on his brother. “Kurt, this is Puck and Rachel. Everyone say hi.”

“Hey,” Puck laughed as Kurt rolled his eyes. Finn had described his brother before but Kurt was nothing like Puck had pictured. He’d expected a small, slight man who still looked like a child but Kurt was a strong, handsome man. He supposed having grown up with Kurt made it hard for Finn to see how much he’d changed over the years. Finn’s brother was hot, damn hot. “Need some help with your bags?”

Kurt nodded and smiled, extending a hand to him. “Nice to meet you.”

“You too.”

“We got a cot set up in our room,” Finn said as he helped Puck load Kurt’s suitcases. “You can take my bed.”

“But first this idiot is buying us all lunch because he dragged us out before we could eat breakfast,” Puck grinned, slamming the trunk. He slid into the backseat with Rachel, letting Kurt take the front with his brother.

“He likes to do that,” Kurt spun around in his seat so Puck could see his face while he spoke. “We’ve had plenty of four a.m. Christmas mornings and six a.m. camping trips. The only thing he’d never get out of bed for was school.”

“Dude,” Finn complained, “school sucked.”

Puck nodded in total agreement. He’d barely managed to graduate high school and he knew college wasn’t for him, on the slim chance one would accept him with his low grades and lousy attendance record. He’d been on the wrestling team in high school and even though he had a lot to learn in how to take a bump without getting hurt or being in position to catch his opponent, Shannon Beiste had recruited him to Titans Wrestling, one of NDW’s development leagues.

“I loved school,” Rachel piped up from beside him. That didn’t surprised Puck. “I was on the gymnastics team and the star of show choir.”

“Where do you guys want to eat?” Finn asked.

Puck shrugged, he wasn’t familiar with the area since it was his and Finn’s first time in Sacramento but as long as they kept driving, they’d pass a decent restaurant eventually. Every city had fast food places, though he wasn’t sure if Rachel could eat anything on their menu since she was a vegan. There had to be a place they could all agree on.

“A little café should be fine,” Rachel replied. “Most serve soup, sandwiches, and salads so we should all be able to find something we like.”

“Sounds good to me,” Puck agreed, glad the decision was made. And a place that served decent coffee would be great since Finn hadn’t let them stop for any on their way to the airport.

“So Puck,” Kurt turned around to face him again, “I told Finn when he called me but congratulations on winning the tag titles.”

Puck flashed him a grin. “Thanks. It was pretty awesome.”

“Yeah Dude,” Finn added.

“I guess this means you’ll be feuding with St James and Anderson?” Kurt looked pleased with himself that he’d figured out Artie’s plans but Puck just laughed. He knew they weren’t exactly breaking new ground with their story lines but he didn’t care. His job was to follow the scripts, not write them.

“They want to give us a manager too,” Finn told his brother. Puck had almost forgotten about that idea; he’d hated it when Artie suggested it and he hadn’t changed his mind. “If they do, it’ll have to be someone new. Everyone else has other story lines going on.”

Puck wasn’t a fan of having a manager. Most of the time it made a mockery of both the tag team and the female wrestler, and sometimes the manager was nothing more than a sex object to distract the opposing team. Puck had a younger sister and he didn’t approve of being used in that kind of a story line. If they insisted he and Finn have a manager, he wanted a manager the writers wouldn’t turn into a joke.

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

Lunch was uneventful, with Rachel and Puck getting to know Kurt and Kurt sharing a few childhood stories about Finn that caused Puck’s partner’s face to turn an deep red. Puck now had blackmail material on Finn for the rest of his life. He found Kurt to be everything Finn said, which Puck had thought to be impossible. No one was supposed to be able to live up to the stories Finn told but so far, Kurt definitely did.

“Ready to head to the hotel?” Finn asked as they got back into the car. They had a show later that night but they didn’t have to be at the arena until six so they had plenty of time to kill. Normally they’d watch a movie or hit the gym for an easy workout but Puck wasn’t sure what Kurt would want to do. He could still get in a workout if he wanted but he knew Finn would do whatever his brother wanted, and Puck kind of wanted to spend more time with Kurt.

“Sure,” Kurt replied.

He was seated in the front beside Finn again, with Puck and Rachel sharing the backseat. It was completely the opposite from the drive from the airport, where Kurt was engaged in their conversation. This time Kurt’s eyes were locked on the scenery outside and the three wrestlers talked to each other, trying not to draw Kurt’s focus away from absorbing the city. Puck suspected Kurt was listening to their conversation more than he let on. Every once in a while he’d notice the corners of Kurt’s mouth turn up when someone made a joke or a slight frown when Finn said something negative about himself.

“You guys will love this hotel,” Rachel said. “We stayed there last time we came here. The rooms are huge and the gym is amazing. And the arena is where I won my first diva’s championship. I love this city.”

“What are the plans for tonight’s show?” Kurt asked, turning away from the window.

“We don’t have a match but we have to film some stuff with Jesse and Blaine,” Finn answered him. Puck could hear the less than thrilled tone to Finn’s voice and wondered if he’d missed something that Jesse had done. The guy really needed to learn how to let things go instead of taking his misplaced anger out on them. With the upcoming story line Artie had planned, Puck worried that Jesse could end up hurting someone if he couldn’t keep real life separate from on screen life.

“Would you mind terribly if I skip watching that mediocre in every way human being try to act?” Puck actually snorted at Kurt’s question. It was well known that Jesse wasn’t the best at playing off another person and he often missed his cues and messed up his lines. If he wasn’t such technician in the ring, Puck was sure the guy would have been fired. “Seriously, the guy cannot act to save his life. Why are you guys stuck in a story line with him?”

“The fans eat up love triangles,” Puck rolled his eyes. He personally hated them, especially when it meant having to be around the likes of Jesse St James.

Rachel leaned forward in her seat to add her opinion. “I just worry that they’ll turn me into a villain by having me side with Jesse and interfere in your guys’ matches. I don’t mind playing a villain but just not that way. And I do prefer playing someone the fans cheer for.”

“It doesn’t help that the douche thinks your brother stole Rachel from him,” Puck explained, not knowing how much of the behind the scenes drama Finn told Kurt.

“Because apparently I’m incapable of figuring out he’s a jerk on my own,” Rachel giggled and rolled her eyes.

“And I thought Hollywood was bad for drama,” Puck noticed that Kurt was grinning right at him and he returned the smile. “So other than Jesse St James, is there anyone else I should avoid?”

Puck knew if Finn had it his way, Kurt would never leave their side during his visit. He also knew that would be impossible if Kurt planned on visiting for longer than a week, since eventually they would have a match and Kurt couldn’t accompany them down to the ring. They’d have to leave Kurt with Rachel, which probably wouldn’t be so bad. She had her private dressing room and they seemed to be getting along. And no one dared do anything to upset Rachel, who was by far Schuester’s favourite.

“Rick the Stick,” Finn replied to his brother’s question. “He’s pretty much exactly like you see on TV. A huge ass.”

“And Azimo and Karofsky,” Puck added. “Karofsky’s not a complete jerk but Azimo brings out the worst in him and they’re always trying to out-do each other. You don’t want to accidentally get caught in the middle.”

He had, his third week in the company, and he still avoided being alone in a room with the both of them. They’d pushed him into the tiny broom closet and locked him in there for five hours, hands tied and mouth gagged so he couldn’t yell for help when he heard Finn and Sam calling his name. They’d been suspended one week without pay and were made to drop their tag team titles to Jesse and Blaine, who’d held them until Finn and Puck won them. Schuester had pushed for a story line between the four of them but, thankfully, Artie had already planned the feud between Finn, Puck, Blaine, and Jesse so Azimo and Karofsky had moved on to another story line and Puck and Finn didn’t have to work with them.

“Good to know,” Kurt nodded.

“And Santana,” Puck said. He used to enjoy flirting with her when he’d first started but the more he got to know her, the more he realized that she was nothing but a bully. She enjoyed hurting people, it wasn’t just a character she played on TV, and she was more than willing to use her good looks and sex to get what she wanted. She wasn’t the kind of girl Puck would ever respect. It was a shame a sweet girl like Brittany was blind to Santana’s true nature. “And Quinn. She’s out with an injury but she still travels with the company for some shows,” he’d had the misfortune of being used by Quinn when he was still training with Beiste and Quinn had showed up to help during a time when she’s been written off television. She’d been bitter about being assigned development duty and he, worried about his co-workers finding out about his sexuality, was easy prey for her.

“So how long are you planning on staying with us Kurt?” Rachel asked. Puck was relieved someone finally asked; he’d been wanting to but he didn’t want Kurt to feel like he was unwanted.

“I haven’t decided yet,” Kurt sighed and the mood in the car suddenly dropped. “I have some things to figure out but right now, all I want is to forget about my problems for a while and travel.”

“Well, we definitely do a lot of that,” Puck said.

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

The first person they ran into when they walked into the arena was Tina. Puck and Finn hadn’t seen her since the pay-per-view but Rachel had had a few meet-and-greets with her.

“Hey guys,” she greeted them with a huge smile.

“Hey Tina,” Rachel grinned back.

“Tina,” Finn motioned to his brother, standing in between him and Puck, “this is my brother Kurt. Kurt, this is Tina.”

“Nice to meet you Kurt,” Tina said. Puck was impressed; she showed no surprise at finding out that Finn had a brother. It was possible that Rachel had mentioned Kurt’s visit during their meet-and-greets but Puck doubted it. Rachel knew that Finn was nervous about introducing Kurt around to their co-workers and Puck didn’t think she’d tell Tina about Kurt without Finn’s permission.

“You too,” Kurt held out his hand and Tina shook it. “Nice to see someone with fashion sense in this business.”

Tina giggled and blushed at his comment. Puck knew she didn’t typically get a lot of compliments or attention beyond being Mike’s wife or girlfriend and she was always paired up with a bigger star during any fan event. The main people she interacted with were Mike, Mercedes, and Finn and himself. Rachel would talk non-stop to her but Rachel did that with everyone. Tina was just often overlooked and shoved in the background by most people despite having worked so hard to prove herself in that ring. If she ever got out of that storyline with Mike, he wouldn’t mind being in a few mixed tag team matches with her.

“I have to go find Mike,” Tina said. “Artie’s changing something for tonight and we have to go over it a few times before the show starts. I’ll see you all later.”

“Bye Tina,” Finn waved.

“My dressing room’s just down this hall,” Rachel began to lead the way. They didn’t run into anyone else on the way, which was a little strange considering how packed the halls usually were the night of a show. They’d have to find Artie at some point to go over what he had planned for their scripted run-in with Jesse and Blaine.

“I have to go find Santana to go over our match tonight,” Rachel made a face to show her displeasure. Puck knew she hated her current feud with Santana, always having to worry about the other girl purposely hurting her, but Rachel was too professional to complain. “I’ll leave my door unlock in case you boys decide to go exploring while I’m gone.”

She left them in front of her dressing room door. Puck opened the door and stepped back to let Finn and Kurt walk through before him, closing the door as he stepped into the room.

“This is a champion’s dressing room,” Finn explained as Puck watched Kurt look around the room. “Most of the roster uses rooms that look more like a gym locker room.”

“So where’s your big, private dressing room?” Kurt asked. Puck couldn’t be sure, but he felt like Kurt was looking at him, almost teasing him, maybe even flirting with him.

“There’s not enough single rooms in this arena so we get shafted since we’re the newest champions,” Puck decided the flirting was all in his mind. “Next week we’ll have our own.”

“But Rachel let’s us hang out in hers whenever we want,” Finn added. “The writers love getting footage of us coming or going since it’s good for the whole love triangle story line and it makes Jesse really jealous.”

Puck nodded. “Which is why we try to stay away from him as much as possible. The guy’s a ticking time bomb.”

“His partner’s pretty cute though,” Kurt smiled, seeming to be watching for Puck’s reaction. Had Finn told his brother Puck’s secret? No. Puck knew Finn wouldn’t tell anyone without his permission. Maybe there was just something that Kurt picked up on about him that most of the roster hadn’t yet. Or maybe Kurt just liked to flirt.

Puck would just have to get to know Kurt a little better so he could figure out what Kurt was trying to do to him.

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

Puck liked Kurt. By the time they’d left the arena that evening, they’d introduced Kurt to Mercedes, Sue, and Mike, with Tina at his side again. Each person had been completely accepting and friendly, though none were told that Kurt was gay. If they suspected, they didn’t say anything and even though Mercedes and Tina were gossips, they gossiped to each other so Puck knew they wouldn’t be spreading around any suspicions they had of Kurt.

Kurt was easy to be around, and easy to be happy around. Finn seemed happier in Kurt’s presence than he did holding their tag team championship belts. Kurt could have been bitter and angry that he’d had so much trouble breaking into the acting business, and Puck would have understood, but instead Kurt was funny and friendly and hanging out with him was enjoyable. He was quickly becoming a good friend. The problem was that Puck wasn’t sure if he just wanted to be friends with Kurt.

And if he felt that way after spending just a day with Kurt, how would he feel by the end of Kurt’s visit?

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

“Do you know what this meeting’s about?” Puck asked as he and Finn walked toward Schuester’s office. A stage hand had found them almost as soon as they’d walked into the arena and told them their boss insisted on seeing them. They’d left Kurt in Rachel’s room with her and Tina.

“No clue,” Finn shrugged. “We haven’t done anything. Maybe it’s good news?”

Puck doubted that but he kept his mouth shut. No reason for them both to be freaking out over the surprise meeting. He did wonder if the meeting had anything to do with their guest but he couldn’t see why Schuester would call them to his office to talk about Kurt. Finn’s brother hadn’t bothered anyone and so far, everyone who’d met him had been friendly. It couldn’t be just having Kurt there with them; other wrestlers had guests travel with them for longer than the almost two weeks Kurt had been with them.

Most days it was easy to forget that Kurt had only been with them for two weeks. He’d slid into their world effortlessly, soaking up all the information Puck or Finn told him about the business and proving he’d been listening in their next conversation. He knew their scripts just as well as Puck and Finn and eagerly helped them rehearse by playing both Jesse and Blaine’s characters. Kurt was a huge help and Puck thought that it showed in their recent work.

“Hello boys,” Schuester greeted them. “Take a seat.”

Puck did and Finn followed a moment later. They exchanged a quick look before turning their attention back to Schuester. Normally a sudden meeting with the boss meant someone’s titles were being taken away, or even worse that they’d done something so horrible that they were being taken off television altogether. Puck couldn’t think of anything they’d done and all the bloggers were praising their matches and their promos, not that it was hard to look good acting against Jesse St James and Blaine Anderson.

“You both have been working extremely hard,” Schuester began and Puck relaxed. It wasn’t going to be a negative, everything they were doing wrong, type of meeting. “It’s really showing, especially in the promos you’ve shot. Puck, your timing had gotten so much better and Finn, your off-script moments have been brilliant. I heard you’ve been getting some help?”

“My brother’s helping us while he’s visiting,” Finn explained. “Is that okay? He’s not going to go on some blog and ruin all the upcoming storylines, I swear. He just loves acting.”

“It’s fine,” Schuester was quick to reassure Finn. Puck inched forward on his seat. He could tell that Schuester had something planned, something involving Kurt, and if it was what he suspected, Finn wasn’t going to like it. Puck wasn’t sure he liked it. And he could guess that Kurt wasn’t going to like it.

“How would you guys feel about Finn’s brother, if he’s willing, signing on to be your team manager?” Schuester asked.

“But Kurt doesn’t wrestle,” Finn protested. There was no way to Kurt getting near the ring was going to be an easy sell to Finn, and Puck wasn’t in the mood to be particularly helpful on selling that idea to Finn. Kurt was about the same size and Rory, and Rory could handle himself in the ring, but Kurt was completely green.

Schuester nodded. “I know. There’s a lot of details to work out. Our idea is to have,” he glanced down at his notepad, “Kurt, cast as a real manager. The fans would think he was booking your matches, handling your wardrobe, scheduling your practices and fan events. He’d only accompany you out to the ring if he was comfortable with it and he wouldn’t interfere in your matches. No one would touch him.”

“Did you ask him yet?” Puck asked before Finn could say anything.

“Not yet,” Schuester replied. “I wanted to make sure you were both on board with the idea before I asked. I know the idea could cause you some problems backstage and with some fans. They don’t like when someone outside their small community gets hired over someone they like. They’ll say that we should have picked some new face wrestler from Shannon’s league but I don’t want to take a chance on the chemistry not working out. We have big plans for you both and after talking to Artie, we both think he’s the best option for your manager. You’re already comfortable working with him, you have chemistry with him, you listen to him, and fans won’t see him as a threat to break up your team like they do with female managers. We can deal with the backstage complaints and honestly, I don’t really care about the fan complaints. If you and Kurt all agree, you’ll have my full support.”

Puck looked over at Finn, seeing his partner still wasn’t convinced. After what had happened not that many years ago, he couldn’t blame Finn for being nervous at just the idea of his brother being so exposed to a world that was not accepting of him.

“Can we talk to Kurt first?”

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

Instead of finding Kurt, Puck steered Finn to one of the private work out rooms so they could talk. He could tell Finn was reeling from the meeting, truth was so was he, and taking a few minutes to sort themselves out before seeing Kurt couldn’t be a bad idea.

“You okay?” he asked.

“Not really,” Finn confessed. “I keep thinking that Kurt’s going to end up hurt. Guys like Jesse and Azimo, or even someone like Santana, will be more than happy to try to use him against us. We’re asking him to get involved with people who are trained fighters.”

“He could say no,” Puck pointed out. “And if he doesn’t, we’ll protect him. Between me, you, Rachel, and Mike, and maybe some of the others, no one will lay a hand on him. And we can teach Kurt some moves so if someone is stupid enough to try, he’ll be able to defend himself and get away.”

“Yeah, okay,” Finn nodded. Puck could tell his partner was still thrown. Nobody else had a family member currently in the business, Schuester didn’t like having family work together, and the fact that Kurt was completely untrained made Schuester’s plans shocking. It was another reason to worry how the rest of the wrestlers would react to the news. Some of them had brothers or sisters in the development leagues that had signed with other companies because of Schuster’s policy and they might resent Kurt and Finn for getting to work together.

What the Hell was Schuester thinking?

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

“Kurt, can we talk to you?” Finn asked as they walked into Rachel’s dressing room. They barely used their lockers in the main dressing room anymore, preferring the privacy of Rachel’s dressing room.

“Of course,” Kurt replied. “Rachel went to talk to Tina about their tag team match so she’ll be gone a while.”

“It’s about what happened in our meeting with Schuester,” Puck took a seat in one of the chairs while Kurt and Finn sat on the couch. “He’s noticed how much you’ve been helping us.”

Kurt’s eyes widened and he leaned forward toward Puck. “You’re not in trouble, are you? I was just trying to help. I didn’t think that you guys would get into trouble because of me.”

“Whoa,” Finn clamped a hand down on his brother’s shoulder. “We’re not in trouble. Schuester’s impressed at how much better we’ve been since you started helping us.”

“That’s good,” Kurt nodded as he sank back in relief. “You guys were good before but knowing about cues and timing helps a lot, especially if you have to shoot something live.”

“That would be why Schuester wants you to become our manager,” Puck told him, getting right to the point.

“Oh,” was all that came out of Kurt’s mouth. “What did you tell him?”

“That we’d talk to you,” Puck replied.

Kurt nodded slowly. Puck couldn’t read his expression but he could read Finn’s and Finn was nervous.

“Do I get to act?” Kurt asked.

“Schuester promised you wouldn’t have to do anything you don’t want to do,” Finn stated in a firm tone. Puck had no doubts he’d make sure Schuester stuck to his words. “It’s not going to be like the managers you see on TV right now. He wants to show more behind the scenes stuff of you actually managing us, like booking our matches and fan meetings and stuff. But yes, you’d be acting like our manager and working off a script just like we do. But you don’t have to do it if you don’t want to. They can figure out someone else for our manager.”

“Do you want me to be your manager?” Puck knew Kurt was asking his brother so he stayed quiet.

Finn shrugged. “I’m not going to say no because it would be cool to work with you every day,” he said. “But you should know that it’s not going to be easy. Some people in our world aren’t going to like it and if you decide to do it, we need to teach you how to defend yourself in case they go after you.”

“I’m gay,” Kurt said dryly. “I’m used to people hating me for no reason.”

“Not a lot of people get an offer like this,” Puck told him. “People are going to be resentful that you have no wrestling experience and haven’t put in years of training and waiting your turn. And you and Finn are going to be breaking one of Schuester’s rules. He doesn’t like siblings working together.”

“Why not?”

“He thinks no one can be objective when family’s involved,” Finn rolled his eyes and Puck did the same a moment later. Neither of them agreed on their boss’ stance on that particular issue. Other leagues had family members working on the same show, sometimes even as a tag team, and the fans loved it. “He thinks that if family works together and one gets hurt, the other will break character and run out to them.”

“So why is he changing his mind with me?” Kurt asked.

“He thinks that hiring you is a sure thing,” Puck explained. “Since you won’t be wrestling, there’s no worry about you being untrained. He knows you can act, that you’re effective, and that we all work well together. And the fans won’t think that you’re going to try to come between us like they do with a lot of the other tag team managers.”

Kurt nodded, looking at Finn then at Puck, then back at Finn. “How long do I have to think about it?”

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

“Are you sure about this?” Finn asked for the tenth time that hour. They had a meeting with Schuester in ten minutes so Kurt could give him his answer and for Schuester to either give him the rundown on his character or convince him to sign.

“I think so,” Kurt nodded. “I mean, they’ve treated you both right and there’s nothing wrong with a little exposure.”

There was that flirty look from Kurt that Puck was sure was directed at him. He couldn’t believe that Finn ‘blush at just the word sex’ Hudson had a brother who made more sexual innuendos than Puck. He loved it but it also drove him crazy. He couldn’t tell if Kurt was just a flirt, gay, straight, male, female, it didn’t matter he just liked to flirt, or if Kurt had figured out his secret and was interested.

“He’ll see you now,” Becky, Schue’s assistant gestured them into the office.

“Hello boys,” their boss said with a smile. Puck guessed he expected the meeting to go his way. “Kurt, I’m glad you decide to come visit and see what we’re all about. How’s your visit been?”

“Fine,” Kurt nodded. “It’s been nice getting to catch up with Finn and meet Puck. And helping them has been good for me too.”

“Glad to hear it,” Schue clapped his hands together. “How about we get down to business? I have all the information on what we plan to do with you boys right here.”

They all listened as Schuester talked excitedly about his plans. Kurt would be introduced in two weeks as their manager, giving them plenty of time to teach him more about the business and getting used to what would be expected of him. They would be featured in promos a lot more, would have more tag team matches and they would both have some singles matches, be attending more fan events. Schuester wanted a complete overwork of the tag team division and he wanted to us Finn and Puck to spearhead the change.

It was a huge shock to Puck and with a glance over to Finn, he knew it was a shock to him too. They’d just barely won the belts and already they were going to be the faces of the tag team division. St James was going to be pissed.

Schuester kept talking about how he planned for Kurt to make an immediately impact. Finn and Puck would be relaxing backstage when confronted by Jesse and Blaine. A shoving match would start but before it could escalate, Kurt would come walking right up them to them and declare if Jesse and Blaine had a problem with his clients, it needed to be settled in the ring and if by some miracle they managed to beat his clients, they would get to chance to win the tag team belts back at the next pay-per-view.

Finn and Puck were already playing characters that were childhood best friends, and the idea was that Kurt would still be Finn’s brother and someone Puck had known for years. Kurt would have final say over his own wardrobe but Schuester had asked Mercedes to be available to him if he needed help or when he was ready to order his clothes. Most of Kurt’s role in the company would involve acting, and never going near the ring.

Kurt signed the contract, making him their manager for a year.

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

Working with Kurt was making Puck’s life difficult. He didn’t mind the extra work he and Finn had to put it during Kurt’s training period but the more time he spent around Kurt, the more Kurt seemed to flirt with him, and Puck was terrible at picking up on any signals. He couldn’t tell if Kurt was just a flirty person, the guy had flirted with Blaine one day in the lunch room and flirted with Rachel all the time, or if Kurt could tell that he was gay and Kurt was interested.

He couldn’t ask Finn. Finn was too protective of Kurt and was immediately suspicious of any guy who talked to his brother. Puck knew it was because Kurt had had his heart broken so many times but it meant Finn wasn’t an option for his questions and no one else knew Kurt well enough to ask.

He thought about coming out to Kurt. He hated keeping such a big secret, always thinking he was going to slip up one day, but the more people who knew, the bigger the possibility that someone would expose him. Not that he thought Kurt ever would, but telling people always made him fear the possibility.

Kurt was a quick learner. He was picking up the business faster than Puck had when he’d first started and he had some really good ideas he planned on discussing with Artie and the writers. If Kurt got his way, they would be the top tag team in the company for a long, long time.

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

“Hey Kurt,” Puck greeted as he walked into the hotel room. Since Kurt had signed, they’d gotten bigger rooms at each hotel, with two beds and a pull out couch so no one was relegated to sleeping on a cot. “Where’s Finn?”

“He’s helping Rachel and Tina with something,” Kurt replied. It was his turn to sleep on the pull out but he was happily snuggled under the covers of Finn’s bed, watching some TV show Puck didn’t recognize. “I used to date him,” he said, motioning to the character on the screen.

“You can do better,” Puck assured him automatically.

“It’s not like I have people lining up at my door,” Kurt sighed. “And being your manager is great for my acting resume but not a safe environment to meet the man of my dreams.”

Puck had no idea how to respond to that so he changed the subject. “So how is being our manager better for your career? Finn said you were getting some small parts. You don’t think you’d eventually get a bigger one?”

“All the parts I’ve gotten, I’ve basically been playing myself,” Kurt sighed again and he looked so miserable that Puck regretted asking. “I’m always the stereotypical gay kid and I do appreciate them giving me those roles but I want to prove that I can act. Playing those characters doesn’t feel like acting and it doesn’t get me noticed by the right people. I just need a drastic change. And, spending time with Finn will be cool. We never get to spend much time together anymore.”

“Man, that sucks.”

“Yeah,” that comment startled a laugh out of Kurt. He wasn’t used to people putting his struggles so bluntly and yes, it sucked.

“Finn’s probably going to be a while if he’s with Rachel and Tina,” Puck said. “Tina’s easy-going but Rachel’s a huge perfectionist. She won’t let him leave until she’s happy with whatever she’s making him do, and it takes forever for her to be happy.”

“I did pick up on that about her,” Kurt nodded, having been subjected to more than one of Rachel’s readiness routines since he’d arrived. “She doesn’t take advantage of him though, does she?”

That was something Kurt always worried about: Finn’s way too trusting nature. He took things and people at face value and didn’t ask questions even when a person’s story was unbelievable. When they were younger, it had been so easy to blame Finn for every little mess or thing he broke when he was pretending to be a Broadway singer on stage and practicing the high kicks that should be in every performers repertoire. He would convince Finn that he did it and forgot. That lasted until the day their mother overheard him and he’d been grounded for two weeks, the most he’d ever been punished. Finn had forgiven him almost immediately and he’d still worshipped the ground Kurt walked on, and in a lot of ways it made Kurt even more protective of his younger brother.

“Nah,” Puck shook his head. “She’s just kinda oblivious sometimes but she usually means well.”

“Okay,” Kurt wasn’t too reassured by Puck’s words but he let the subject drop. He’d just have to keep a close eye on his brother, especially if Finn was going to end up in some twisted affair story line with her.

“Hey, want to grab something to eat?” Puck asked.

“What?” He’d been thinking about the fake triangle between Finn, Rachel, and Jesse and missed what Puck had said.

Puck gave him a confused look. “Eat. You know, food? It’s supper time. And I’m hungry.”

“Oh!” Kurt looked at the clock and, sure enough, it was half past six. And now that he thought about it, he was hungry too. “Sure. Where do you want to go?”

“Out of this hotel,” Puck replied.

“Sounds good to me,” Kurt agreed.

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

They ended up walking through the streets until the found a restaurant they both agreed on, some place that wasn’t too fancy so Puck’s jeans weren’t out of place but they served more than just deep-fried foods for Kurt. Puck always felt out of place the few times he’d eaten at an upscale restaurant, like everyone was looking at him and judging him, like they expected his credit card to be declined when the bill arrived at the table. He hated that feeling.

The restaurant wasn’t busy so they were seated right away, in a booth in the back, and they were given water and menus. Normally Puck would have a beer with dinner but when their waiter came to take their drink order, he decided on soda. Kurt stuck with water.

“So, you feel ready?” Puck asked. Kurt was going to debut on their next show in two days and they had yet to rehearse with Jesse and Blaine. It made Puck nervous that the other tag team kept making excuses to not practice but all they could do was make sure they had their part of the script perfect. If the promo ended up being botched, it wouldn’t be their fault.

“I’m nervous,” Kurt admitted. “It’s been a while since I’ve actually been on TV and this is live. If I screw up, that’s it. People will think I can’t handle it.”

“You know the script better than me or Finn,” Puck said before taking a long sip of his drink. “You’ll be the best out of all of us.”

Kurt laughed. “Thanks for the confidence.”

“Are you gentlemen all set to order?” their young waiter whose name tag read Travis asked them.

“I am,” Puck nodded then looked at Kurt.

“Yes,” Kurt smiled at Travis. “I’ll have the Greek salad with grilled chicken and a baked potato, no butter, please.”

“And for you Sir?” Travis asked Puck but Puck noticed the kid was still staring at Kurt.

“I’ll have the chicken and ribs with mashed potatoes,” he glared at the boy but neither he not Kurt noticed. For all the kid knew, they were out on a date and flirting with someone’s date wasn’t a good way to get a big tip. “Thanks.”

The boy nodded, at Kurt not at him, then walked away.

“So,” Kurt’s attention was back on him now that the waiter disappeared. “Anything else I should know about my new co-workers?”

“I think we’ve told you everything,” Puck replied. “Quinn should be coming back soon but hopefully we won’t have to work with her at all. She’s really good at manipulating and making you feel horrible about yourself just so she gets what she wants.”

“I take it you’ve had the displeasure of her company,” Kurt mussed, taking a sip of his water.

“Not something I want to relive,” Puck told him and thankfully, Kurt left it alone. The subject of Quinn had the ability to put him in a bad mood at just the mention of her name. Yes, he’d been using her too to help convince his co-workers that he was straight but he’d been under the impression that she was looking for a quick hook-up, nothing beyond a few nights. That was what she’d told him and that was the reason he did sleep with her. He didn’t want to hook up with someone looking for something meaningful when he was looking for a cover. But Quinn, she played him so hard it had taken him months to recover. He’d almost thrown away all his hard work but Beiste and Finn had refused to let him.

“So,” Kurt said in the awkward silence that followed. “Subject change?”

“Yeah.”

More awkward silence. Finally their waiter arrived with their food and Puck watched as the kid brushed Kurt’s hand as he placed the plate in front of Kurt. The kid apologized but Puck tightened his fingers around his fork and glared. It was on purpose. He’d made the same move enough times to recognize it. He spent so much time worrying about whether or not his co-workers suspected that he was gay and now here he was, out with another guy, and jealous that their waiter didn’t assume they were on a date. What the Hell was Finn’s brother doing to him?

“Can you get you anything else?” Travis asked, leaving when Kurt assured him that they did not need anything.

“I can’t remember that last time I got to do this,” Kurt smiled at him and Puck found himself returning the smile. “Most of the guys I dated were in the business on the same level as me. They wanted to go placed where we’d be seen. It’s nice having a quiet meal. Not that this is a date,” he was quick to add.

“I know what you meant,” Puck was equally quick to tell him.

“Okay,” Kurt said quietly. Puck could tell he was embarrassed and part of him wanted to confess, to tell Kurt that he would love for them to be on a date, but he couldn’t do it. He’d worked so hard and it terrified him that his sexuality could have it taken all away, all that respect he’d bleed for, and it wasn’t fair. Maybe it made him a coward but he knew he wasn’t the only closeted athlete in the world. And it was already hard for Kurt, there’d already been comments about how he’d landed the manager role of the current champions with no wrestling experience, and nothing they or Schue had said so far had calmed those offended. Jesse, Azimo, and Santana were the worst but when Quinn came back, if she suspected anything between him and Kurt, she’d be the worst.

The rest of dinner was filled with uncomfortable moments. They’d start talking at the same time then both stop and wait for the other person to start again, only for them both to start talking again at the same time. It was nowhere near as nice a moment as the movies made it seem. It was just awkward and Puck wanted it to stop.

“Will that be all this evening?” Travis, the flirty waiter, was back and Puck was actually relieved to see him.

“You want dessert?” Puck asked but Kurt shook his head. “Yeah, we’re done.”

“Separate bills?”

“Together,” Puck said before Kurt could speak. “My treat,” he added when he waiter left. It just might be the closest he’d ever get to a real date with a guy during his wrestling career so he was going to be a gentleman and pay. “You can pay next time.”
Puck didn’t think there would be a chance to have a next time.

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

By the time they got back to their hotel room, Finn was back and lying face down on Puck’s bed and half asleep. Kurt went straight for his brother and nudged him until Finn rolled on to his back, then Kurt felt Finn’s forehead with a worried frown on his face.

“Not sick,” Finn murmured. “Just tired. Time for sleep.”

“Dude, not your bed,” Puck pointed out but he didn’t really care. He could take the pull out and Finn and Kurt could have the beds.

“Sorry,” Finn tried to sit up but Kurt pushed him back down.

“You feel warm,” Kurt said and Puck smiled as he watched Kurt fuss over his little brother. He was protective of his baby sister but she hated when he tried to take care of her, even when she was just a baby. She wanted their mom and only their mom.

“Worked hard,” Finn told them. “Tired now.”

Kurt laughed and finally allowed Finn to sit up. Finn stumbled the few feet to his own bed and collapsed again, not bothering with the blankets. It was Kurt who tugged and pulled until he freed them then he covered his brother, but resisted tucking him into bed.

“Thanks,” Finn sounded on the verge of falling asleep. “Love you.”

“Love you too,” Kurt replied. He waited a few minutes until Finn was asleep before he turned to Puck. “He gets like this when he gets overtired.”

“I know,” Puck assured him. “We pulled a couple of late nights over studying our scripts the first couple of weeks we signed with the NDW and he wouldn’t stop talking about my hands.”

“They are pretty nice hands,” Kurt was back to using that flirty tone that confused Puck. Kurt hadn’t been flirty with the waiter earlier but maybe he hadn’t thought the kid was cute or he’d been too young. Either way it was confusing. “I’m taking a shower. Do you need in there first because I need a long one?”

“Go ahead,” Puck replied, doing his best not to let his voice betray that he liked the image of Kurt in the shower invading his mind. “I can wait til you’re done.”

Kurt nodded and grabbed a change of clothes before ducking into the bathroom. Puck heard the click of the lock behind him. He and Finn never locked the door and they would just walk out of the bathroom with a towel around their waist but Kurt always changed in the bathroom with the door locked. Puck had asked Finn about it but Finn didn’t tell him anything useful. If he wanted to know, it was up to Kurt to tell him.

With Finn asleep, Puck found the remote, somehow it had fallen underneath the desk, and muted it. He didn’t think the sound would wake Finn, the guy was dead to the world, but he didn’t want to deal with an angry Kurt if he did wake Finn.

He found sports highlights and settled on to his own bed. He probably should have used the bathroom before Kurt but he was still adjusting to having Kurt travelling with them. When it was just him and Finn, if one of them was in the shower, the other would just walk in and do whatever he needed to do. He couldn’t do that with Kurt, and not only because Kurt locked the door, but Puck didn’t feel comfortable walking in on Kurt the way he did with Finn.

“Puck,” he was being shaken and he opened his eyes under protest. He found Kurt standing beside his bed, looking down at him with a smile.

“Kurt?” he must be dreaming. Kurt was standing there within an arm’s reach, hair mussed and damp, and Puck wanted nothing more than to grab him and pull him into bed with him.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to take so long,” Kurt was saying. Puck was having trouble concentrating on anything but Kurt’s lips. “The bathroom’s free.”

“I was asleep,” Puck blinked and shook his head, trying to regain his focus. He’d been watching television while Kurt was taking a shower, then he must have fallen asleep and when Kurt was finished in the bathroom, he woke Puck up.

“Yes, you were,” Kurt sounded way too amused by his confusion. “Go get ready for bed. As your manager, I cannot approve of you sleeping in your clothes. You’ll wrinkle them.”

Puck laughed as he rolled himself out of bed. “Can’t have you looking bad, can we?”

“I’ll whip your ass into shape.”

“I bet you will,” Puck grinned at the surprise on Kurt’s face. If Kurt was going to flirt with him, Puck was going to flirt back. He just had to be careful about where and when he did it or else he could ruin his career.

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

The next morning was the most chaotic since the morning of his and Finn’s debut. Not even the morning of the pay-per-view when they were taking the tag titles away from Jesse and Blaine was so out of control. It had very little to do with Kurt making his debut as their manager, but instead they were making plans for a last minute return: Quinn Fabray.

Her return, a huge surprise to everyone on the roster and a bigger one for the fans, took the pressure off Kurt. Quinn had been the top villain before her injury and that had given Santana the chance to step into her shoes. The fans had been anticipating her return after her second injury, the first coming when Puck was still in the development league and the second only a few months ago, and it was Quinn’s big chance to prove she hadn’t lost anything after missing so much time. Puck had been fortunate enough never to have a serious injury, same with Finn, that caused him to miss a significant amount of time but he knew there was always the concern that fans would move on to someone else.

He caught of glimpse of blonde hair and paled.

“Dude, you alright?” Finn asked as they took refuge in Rachel’s private room.

“Yeah,” Puck took a deep breath and felt a hand on his back, rubbing gently in a soothing motion. He assumed it was Finn but his tag partner was standing in front of him. It was Kurt’s hand that was calming him, helping him focus on breathing.

“Take a minute,” Kurt told him even though his new manager had no idea what was wrong.

“I’m good,” Puck assured them. He was a professional. He couldn’t let anything distract him from shooting his scene with Finn, Kurt, and Jesse and Blaine, not even the surprise return of the woman who almost broke him. “We should find St James and Anderson. They’re going to have to run through the scene once before we shoot it.”

He walked out of the room with his head held high, missing the look that was exchanged between Kurt and Finn behind him. He didn’t have to see it to know they were worried about him, but there was nothing he could do. Quinn was a major draw for the company and her return would be talked about for weeks. He was just going to have to deal with her being there and do his best to ignore her.

“You sure?” Kurt asked.

“Yeah.”

Kurt didn’t look convinced but he let it slide. They had to find Jesse and Blaine and go over their scene for tonight. He was beginning to think they were avoiding them so if something went wrong with the promo, they would blame him and Finn. That wasn’t going to happen, not with how Schue and the company wanted to make him and Finn, with Kurt leading them, as the main tag team, but to be successful, everyone had to play their parts and that meant Jesse and Blaine showing up to rehearse before they had to go on camera.

“Anderson!” he spotted Blaine coming out of one of the main locker rooms. “Where’s your partner?”

“He’s around,” Blaine shrugged. “Probably looking for Rachel.”

“Of course he is,” Puck didn’t have to see him to know Finn was rolling his eyes. “We need to run through the script.”

“I’ll find him,” Blaine sighed and walked away. Some days Puck really pitied the guy for having Jesse St James as his partner.

“Let’s find somewhere quiet,” Finn suggested as he took the lead down the hall. “I’ll send Blaine a text to let him know where we are. Hopefully he’ll find St Jackass.”

They found an empty hall and Finn sent Blaine a text. Puck thought the hall looked like a place people avoided if at all possible. It was the hall a horror movie victim ran down to try to get away from the psycho killer, only to find the killer waiting for them at the end of the deserted hallway.

“You losers seriously need to run lines?” Puck heard Jesse’s voice before the guy walked around the corner. Blaine was right behind him. “Working with second-rate talent like you is going to ruin my reputation of never needing a second take.”

“Yeah, right,” Puck snorted. He didn’t mention how many times Jesse botched a line and Blaine or their opponents would have to cover for him. From the pressed lip smile Kurt was trying to hide and the grin Finn didn’t bother to hide, Puck knew they felt the same way about Jesse’s acting skills.

“Let’s get this over with,” Jesse huffed. “I have better things to do than help you losers learn your lines.”

“Jesse,” Blaine sounded like he was in pain. Puck guessed the ‘we need to practice’ argument was one they’d had multiple times and Puck didn’t envy Blaine’s position. He and Finn were almost always on the same page, especially when it came to their need to practice. “Let’s just start.”

They only got to run through the scene twice before Jesse declared he was done and dragged Blaine away from them. Puck, Finn, and Kurt did their best to rehearse without them a few more times until Kurt felt comfortable. Then all they had to do was wait until it was time for them to shoot their scene.

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

Because of Quinn’s unexpected return, their scene was pushed back until one hour before the show was scheduled to go live. It meant they’d have only a few chances to get the scene right if they were going to leave enough time for it to go to editing so it could be fit into the show. Some times they shot backstage scenes live but most of the time, they were pre-shot and edited in so the wrestlers could concentrate on their matches.

Finally, with an hour and fifteen minutes before show time, they were called to shoot their scene. The location had been moved a few times, from the cafeteria to the locker room to Rachel’s private dressing room, until they were back at the locker room. They were told to open two lockers and appear as though they had just finished a hard work out and wait for Jesse and Blaine to interrupt them.

“And we’re ready,” Artie said from behind the cameraman.

“Dude, that was killer,” Puck stretched his arms over his head as he tossed his shirt into the locker.

“I’m not going to be able to move for days,” Finn agreed.

“Well that’s disappointing,” Jesse walked in, shoving his shoulder against Finn and causing him to stumble into Puck. “Taking our championship belts back won’t be as much fun if it’s too easy.”

“Not that we expect much of a fight from you,” Blaine added. “You guys got lucky last time but we’re ready for your tricks now.”

Puck laughed and nudged Finn. “We can beat you again. Just tell us when.”

“Hold it right there,” Kurt’s voice was heard before he stepped into the frame, making it look like he’d just walked through the door. He was dressed in an expensive black suit with a crisp blue tie and his hair was styled away from his face. He looked like an absolute professional. “Any matches will be approved by me. If you want to fight Finn and Puck for the belts, you’ll have to schedule it with me.”

“And who the Hell are you?” Jesse sneered, taking a step toward Kurt but Finn and Puck quickly blocked him.

“I’m Kurt Hummel,” Kurt smiled from his place in between Puck and Finn. “And I’m their manager.”

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

“You guys were amazing!” Rachel squealed the second they walked into her dressing room. She threw her arms around Finn first, then Kurt, then Puck last. That segment had been the only thing they were scheduled to do for the night but they’d decided to stick around and watch the show.

“Thanks,” Finn collapsed on the couch and Puck followed. “Is there anything on the blogs yet?”

“The show’s not on yet,” Kurt pointed out.

Rachel stared at Kurt like he was from another planet. “They always put clips online to get a pre-show reaction. The clip they put on the show will be better edited and longer but they need to gage a reaction from the fans who go online. That was if something doesn’t work, they know and can make adjustments.”

“Rach, Kurt’s never done this before,” Finn reminded her, much more politely than Puck could have managed.

“So what are they saying?” Puck asked.

“Everyone’s wanting to know more about Kurt,” Rachel told them with a grin. She had her laptop on the table to one of the most popular wrestling chat sites. “And a lot of people are saying it’s about time you guys got a manager. They think Jesse and Blaine need one too and want to see Kurt arguing with whoever they choose. They’ve even found youtube clips of Kurt’s acting roles.”

“That was fast,” Kurt sounded unnerved and Puck couldn’t blame him. Their fans tended to be very passionate. It had taken less than a week for his and Finn’s story of meeting each other at Beiste’s training center and instantly clicking in the ring to be known after their debut at NDW. Their fans moved fast. They’d even managed to find some of their matches that had been caught from cell phone cameras and posted online from their time in the independent circuits before they’d joined and met at Beiste’s center.

“Better get used to it,” Rachel spoke up from her bathroom, where she’d moved to start getting dressed for her match against Santana. She’d left the door open partway so she could still hear their conversation. “With the fans’ help, you can create such a buzz that every director who passed you up for a role will regret it. It’s a great feeling.”

Rachel finished changing and joined them, sliding on to the arm of the couch. A TV was set up for her so she could watch the show when she wasn’t needed. Puck knew it actually caused some problems between Rachel and the rest of the roster, with some of them believing that she thought she was too good to spend time with them and watch the show from the areas set up backstage for them. He and Finn really should be spending more time out with the others and they would, as soon as Kurt felt comfortable.

The next few arenas they were scheduled for shows at were bigger so they would have their own dressing room. Kurt’s role would be bigger next week, with him scheduled for a solo scene with Blaine to set up a match between him, Jesse, Finn, and Puck, a scene where he told Finn and Puck about the match, and a smug celebration scene after their scheduled win. He also had the option of walking down to the ring with them and sitting with the announcers as the match was going on but Kurt hadn’t decided if he was ready for that. He was still learning about wrestling and the fans would expect him to be able to keep up with the moves being called by the announcers, and when he couldn’t, they’d tear him apart on the blogs.

Puck didn’t want that for Kurt. That would result in the fans booing him whenever they saw him and, though it was a part of the business, it was easier to break in with the fans cheering and chanting than booing. He’d played a villain while he was on the Indie circuit and it was fun, most of the time, but night after night of getting booed sometimes affected him and he’d lie in bed at night wishing he could hear them cheering for him instead.

“I have to go,” Rachel bounced up from the arm of the couch and was across the room before Puck could blink. “Artie wants to talk to me and Santana about our match tonight.”

“Good luck out there,” Puck said and was echoed by Finn and Kurt. Her match was the second segment of the show so she wouldn’t have time to come back to the dressing room and tell them what changes had been made.

They settled in to watch the show, with Kurt in the middle of Finn and Puck. Kurt almost always seemed to be in the middle of them but Kurt never seemed to mind. In fact, Puck thought Kurt liked being in the middle.

Puck was completely biased, he could admit it, but he thought their segment was the best part of the show. The tension between their two tag teams was clear and Kurt’s voice was ice cold, protective, and professional as he spoke to Jesse and Blaine. The editing was done really well and Puck could see why everyone online was raving over Kurt. Kurt was NDW’s first male manager and once their fans either discovered he was Finn’s brother, or they found out next week when Kurt told Blaine in their promo, there would be an even bigger reaction.

The rest of the show flew by. Rachel came back not too long after her match with Santana, another victory for NDW’s diva’s champion, and she showered and chanced while they continued to watch the show. It wasn’t until they were back at the hotel that Puck realized Rachel never told them what change Artie had made to her storyline with Santana.

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

Puck groaned as the sun woke him. Finn must have forgotten to close the curtains last night before they all collapsed in bed. Instead of getting out of his warm bed to shut the curtains, Puck just rolled over and pulled his blankets over his head. He wasn’t ready to be awake yet. The last thing he expected was to roll over and on to a warm body.

“I’m trying to sleep,” Kurt’s voice complained.

“You’re in my bed,” Puck pointed out.

“You invited me,” Kurt retorted.

“Why?”

“I was cold,” Kurt replied as he inched closer to Puck. “You promised to warm me up.”

Puck spun around to look at the other bed but it was empty. Finn was gone. At least his partner wasn’t going to kill him for being in bed with his brother.

“Finn spent the night with Sam,” Kurt cupped his cheek and ran his thumb along Puck’s lip. “We stayed in and talked. I never would have guessed that you’re gay. I’m a huge flirt but I never expected you to start flirting back. You surprised me Noah Puck Puck Puck…”

Puck opened his eyes again to find Finn staring down at him. “Dude, sleeping.”

“You’re late,” Finn told him. “Your alarm’s been beeping for the last ten minutes.”

“Huh?” Puck didn’t remember even setting his alarm. They had a free day and their only plans had been to do some sight-seeing after they checked out, which wasn‘t for another three hours. He wanted to sleep and go back to his dream.

“Oh good, you’re finally awake,” Kurt’s voice wasn’t helping Puck’s desire to go back to his dream, his place where Kurt knew the truth and maybe they could be in a relationship without any worries about the fans or the other wrestlers. “Better get dressed or you’re going to be late.”

“Late for what?” Puck pushed himself up and his warm blankets fell to his lap. He didn’t miss that Kurt’s eyes were openly fixed on his chest.

“Kurt’s taking us out for breakfast,” Finn was practically bouncing in place and Puck just thought it was too early to be so energetic.

Puck threw the covers off himself, revealing that he’d slept in his boxers last night. He was sure he heard Kurt gasp but the other man was now avoiding looking at him. Last night’s dream was still firmly on his mind and Puck wanted to reach out, grab Kurt by the wrist, and drag him into bed with him. But he couldn’t, not with Finn in the room and not without having a long talk with Kurt. Maybe last night’s dream was a sign that he should tell Kurt his secret.

“Where are we going?” he asked.

“Just downstairs,” Kurt replied with a smile.

“You’re taking us to the continental breakfast in the hotel ballroom, aren’t you?” Puck laughed.

“Hey, poor struggling actor here,” Kurt protested. “I’ll take you guys out for a real breakfast after I get a pay check. I do want to thank you both for all the extra work you guys have to do because of me.”

Finn grabbed his brother from behind and hugged him. Hard. “You don’t have to buy us stuff to thank us. You’re part of our team”

“Thank you,” Kurt said. Puck may have been imagining it, but he thought Kurt’s eyes flicked over to him as he spoke. He supposed it would make sense; Finn was Kurt’s brother and would be helping him no matter what but Kurt could think that Puck was only helping because Kurt was their manager and Finn’s brother, instead of the truth: that Puck really liked Kurt.

“Do I have time to shower?” he asked.

“If you’re quick,” Kurt replied.

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

Breakfast consisted of a table full of bagels, toast, and pastries with juice, coffee, and tea. The three of them filled their plates and found a table away from the crowd of people surrounding the food.

“So Schue wants to see us in his hotel room before we check out,” Finn said in between bites of his bagel.

“When did you find that out?” Puck asked.

“He called the room but you slept through it,” Finn replied. That surprised Puck, he wasn’t a light sleeper but he’d normally wake up at a ringing phone. “He wants to talk about the show and he has some new ideas already. Think we should be scared?”

“Probably,” Puck snorted. Artie was the head writer and idea man for a reason. He was the one who made Schue’s wild ideas into a good storyline. Hiring Kurt as their manager was probably the one smart idea Schue had ever had, and Puck still suspected it was Artie who’d been whispering in their boss’ ear about Kurt helping them.

That was how Puck found himself in Schue’s massive suite, sitting on the couch with Kurt and Finn in their usual positions: him then Kurt then Finn, staring at their boss. Puck swore he could almost see the dollar signs in Schuester’s eyes when he looked at them and that made him nervous. It probably meant good things for all of their careers, that their boss thought they could make him money, but it could mean problems for them backstage if they were shown any more favoritism. Finn’s brother as their manager had already caused some grumbling from their co-workers but no one had approached them directly yet.

“I’m guessing you’ve all seen some of the fan reaction over last night’s debut by now,” Schue said as he paced in front of them. Puck hated when his boss paced, it meant he thought his idea was amazing but it would end up giving Artie a headache as he tried to make it work without destroying anyone’s character or storyline, or without offending their fans.

“Yeah,” Finn nodded.

“It’s better than I ever expected,” their boss grinned at them, with the intention of looking like a proud father but Puck just thought he looked creepy. “There’s a surprising number of people who are completely fine with you, Kurt, being gay so I was thinking that instead of waiting, we could shoot a scene for next week where you, with Finn’s support, tell Puck. If you’re comfortable with that.”

“Well, I’ve never hidden who I am before,” Kurt told him. “Why should I start now?”

Puck could think of many reasons. There was a reason they had decided to ease into revealing Kurt’s sexuality but now it seemed Schue was willing to take a huge risk and move up the reveal based on one night of positive comments.

“That’s what I like to hear,” Schue clapped his hands. “I’ll have Artie draw up a script before the show Wednesday so you can look it over. If there’s anything that makes you uncomfortable, just let him know.”

With that, they were dismissed. They had a match on Wednesday’s house show, a small non-televised show in a town on their way to the next televised show. Normally the champions didn’t make appearances on house shows but neither Finn nor Puck complained about the extra work. They loved to perform and working the house shows gave them the chance to work with wrestlers they normally didn’t get to work with, wrestlers who weren’t big names yet. There wasn’t a lot of storyline to sell and the atmosphere backstage was so relaxed compared to a live show or especially a pay-per-view. There was another house show on Monday but they weren’t scheduled to perform. Then they’d film the live show on Friday.

“Are you sure about this Kurt?” Puck asked once they were back in the room. Finn had left to find Sam, who was catching a ride with them even though he didn’t have any house shows scheduled, so it was just them in the room. “You don’t have to do it just because Schue gave you a job.”

“It has nothing to do with Mr Schuester,” Kurt insisted as he packed the few belongings he hadn’t last night. “I’m proud of who I am. Is it my dream to make this my career, of course not, but it is a chance to show the world what I can do. And if I can show kids like me that their sexuality shouldn’t stop them from going after what they want in life, then that’s a good thing.”

He didn’t know, Puck had to remind himself that Kurt didn’t know, that his comments weren’t directed at him, but he still felt the guilt, heavy in his stomach. Kurt was so honest with him and he couldn’t return the favor by telling Kurt that he was gay. Or that he was pretty sure he was falling in love with him.

“Are you going to finish packing?” Kurt asked, bringing him out of his thoughts. “We have to leave when Finn gets back.”

“Yeah,” Puck nodded and began searching the room for anything he might have forgotten.

Finn came back, with Sam right behind him, just as Puck zipped his suitcase. Some wrestlers, especially if they didn’t have to perform at the house shows in between the Friday live shows, flew home then would fly to the next town on the Thursday. Some would fly directly from live show town to live shown town and spend the week in the hotel. Puck and Finn preferred to drive when the towns were close, especially when they did have a house show scheduled. Sam, though, rarely performed house shows and usually went home with Mercedes during the week.

“’Sup Evans?” Puck said.

“Hey guys,” Sam gave them a half-smile. “Thanks for letting me bum a ride.”

“Why aren’t you going home with your girl?” Puck had to ask but regretted it when he saw Finn shake his head behind Sam.

“Had a fight,” Sam shrugged. “Didn’t feel like being alone and we never get to hang out anymore.”

That was true. He and Finn had been busy teaching Kurt about the business and teaching him some easy moves, plus worrying about how the roster would react to Kurt, that they’d been a little cut off from everyone else. The house show would be a good time for them to start interacting with the other wrestlers again, and a good chance to really introduce Kurt.

“Got that,” Puck slung his bag over his shoulder and, without thinking, grabbed Kurt’s as well. “Let’s get out of here.”

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

The four of them agreed that it would be fun to check out the house show on Monday. They had to pass right by the town anyway, on their way Wednesday’s show, and watching Monday’s show from backstage would give Kurt an idea of what they’d be doing two days later. Schue was ecstatic to hear their plans, fans would go crazy for a random appearance of the company’s male champion and tag team champions, and he’d told them not to worry about getting hotel rooms, that he would take care of everything and all they had to do was show up.

Finn and Sam, sharing the backseat while Puck drove the first leg and Kurt claimed the passenger’s seat, fell asleep soon after they hit the highway and slept until Kurt woke them for lunch. Kurt and Puck didn’t talk much during the drive, instead enjoying the scenery and the quiet music that had Kurt singing along to most of the songs.

After they ate lunch, Sam offered to drive but Puck declined. With the time they were making, it would only take another four hours to reach the arena and, if they were in the same hotel as the other wrestlers, their hotel was right across the street. They could check in, drop their stuff in their rooms, and head straight for the arena where the wrestlers scheduled to perform had been flown in on the company plane.

This time everyone was awake for the entire drive and they talked about random things, from work to movies to past experiences and it made the drive fly by. Before they knew it, Puck was pulling the rental car into the parking garage of the arena. Puck was the first out of the car, stretching his muscles, then quickly unloading everyone’s bags from the trunk. They never carried much, just normally a small suitcase or a duffle bag, and they’d either do laundry on the road or head home in between shows. The company provided them with a ton of clothing as well.

“Let’s go check in,” Sam had his bag in hand and was already heading for the street. The others followed after grabbing their own bags, with Kurt being too quick for Puck to grab both of theirs again.

Sam and Puck went up to the check in desk while Finn and Kurt waited by the elevator with all the bags. Neither of them noticed Kurt talking to Finn and Finn nodding in agreement.

“Alright,” Puck said as he and Sam rejoined the brothers. “Schue booked us two double rooms since it was last minute. I’ll crash with Sam so here’s your keys. Schue managed to get us rooms on the same floor.”

“Cool,” Finn took the keys and gave one to Kurt. A look passed between the brothers that Puck missed. “I’m gonna head over to the arena after we drop off our bags. Rory’s there and I promised him I’d watch some new moves he’s been working on.”

“I’ll go with you,” Sam offered. Puck knew Sam had a huge soft spot for Rory so it wasn’t a surprise.

“I’m going to try to take a nap,” Kurt said. “I’ll see you for dinner. Finn, keep your cell with you.”

That made Puck laugh and Finn roll his eyes. His tag partner had a bad habit of putting his phone down and walking away without it.

“I guess I’ll go with you guys,” Puck decided. He wanted to stay with Kurt but not if the other man was going to try to sleep.

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

Puck lasted less than an hour at the arena. He let Finn know he was heading back to the hotel, insisting he and Sam stay to help Rory. Rory was a great kid and Puck liked him, but there was little he could do to help Rory with his new moves that Finn and Sam weren’t already doing. And for some reason Quinn was hanging around, stealing little glances at him then laughing with some of the younger wrestlers, even though she didn’t work house shows. He didn’t want to stick around to see what evil plan she had going so he left.

“What happened to the arena?” Kurt’s voice asked as he stepped off the elevator.

“Quinn’s there and she found some new minions,” he replied. “Thought you were taking a nap.”

“Gave up after fifteen minutes of staring at the ceiling,” Kurt told him. “I was just getting some ice and water,” he held up the empty ice bucket and a bottle of water. “I was going to watch a movie until you guys got back. Unless you need to talk.”

“You don’t have to waste time hearing about my problems,” Puck was set to go to his own room and wait for Finn and Sam to return.

“Puck,” Kurt stopped him. “Come watch the movie with me. If we end up talking, then we talk.”

That was how Puck found himself alone with Kurt in a hotel room.

“I really don’t like her,” the admission slipped out of his mouth not even halfway through the movie. He tried not to think about the lies Quinn was spreading around across the street but he knew her game and it worried him. Her favorite hobby seemed to be trying to ruin his focus.

“Who?” Kurt asked. “Quinn?”

Puck nodded. “She just know how to get to me.”

“I know people like that,” Kurt told him, turning off the movie since neither of them was paying attention. “The best way to deal with them is not to let them see they’re getting to you. But if you figure out how to do that, let me know.”

“I know I did something to upset her,” Puck sighed. “But I never thought she’d make me pay for it every time I see her. I’m pretty sure she wants to ruin my career.”

“Your career?” Kurt sounded like he thought Puck was being a little over-dramatic but he didn’t know the truth.

“I don’t know if she knows or if she just suspects,” Puck began, “Maybe I should have told you this sooner. Kurt, I’m gay.”

He watched Kurt’s face carefully for his reaction. He was positive Kurt wouldn’t have a problem with him being gay, but people had surprised him before.

“Okay. I‘m glad you feel you can trust me,” Kurt said calmly. “No one else knows?”

“Finn knows,” Puck admitted. “But only him. And it took me years and finding out about you to feel safe enough to tell him. Quinn just, I don’t know, she seems to be able to read my mind sometimes and if she knows, she’s just waiting for the best time to use it against me.”

“Do you think she’d really out you?”

“If she thought it would help her, she’d do it,” he replied. Of that, he was sure. Quinn and Santana pretended to hate each other since they were always competing for the number one women’s villain spot, but they would both happily walk over anyone or use anyone they had to, to get that position. “I’ve been terrified since the day I made the mistake of having sex with her that she would figure it out and tell the world. I’ve never been in a position where I felt safe enough with my job that I could tell people. We need the fans to like us to keep our jobs.”

He felt Kurt place a hand on his knee and he relaxed despite the situation. “We’ll deal with whatever happens.”

“I always kind of thought you knew,” he laughed. “All that flirting.”

“I just like to flirt,” Kurt shrugged but he had a smile on his face. “But it’s a lot more fun when people flirt back like you do.”

“Glad I could amuse you,” Puck returned the smile. Just talking to Kurt made him feel so much better. “So,” he grinned, “what’s your type?”

“What if I say you?”

Part of Puck knew he was walking a dangerous line. He couldn’t date Kurt right now. He wasn’t ready, they’d be hiding their relationship, Quinn was out for his blood. There were so many reasons why it was a horrible idea. But another part of him, the part that had been lonely for so long, wanted to throw everything away and just take a chance with Kurt. Maybe one day the world of wrestling entertainment would be ready for a gay wrestler, but that wasn’t today and Puck wasn’t ready to listen to the reckless part of his brain that wanted to run away with Kurt.

Flirting in private was fine and fun, but Kurt deserved someone who was ready to be his public boyfriend, not someone who was still in the closet.

“I’d say you deserve someone better,” he said.

“I don’t give up when I want something,” Kurt’s hand moved from his knee to Puck’s cheek for a moment before he pulled away. “I can wait.”