Puck pushed the last of his clothes into a duffel bag and brought it out to the trailer hooked onto the back of his truck. He patted the old girl's side, praying that she would make it all the way to California in one piece. If this pool cleaning empire of his was ever going to get off the ground, he had to conserve the money his investors had given him. Buying a new truck was so not in the budget he'd drawn up while he was supposed to be taking his English final. Well, whatever. He'd graduated, so it was all good.
Besides, he had an appointment at Hummel Tire and Lube for that morning, where he was hoping to use the "friends and family" discount to pay for a complete check of the engine and all related gizmos. Damn, he wished Finn would have agreed to come with him to L.A. Having a mechanic would have been a sweet deal out on the road. He should've brought it up at the goodbye party the night before, but to be honest, Puck's mind had been everywhere but the trip ahead. It was probably the last time he'd see some of his friends, in person anyway. Puck wanted to say goodbye with a bang. Too bad he was trying to keep a clean record and didn't want to chance scoring some alcohol, so the party had been a little tame. And Tina had cried the whole time, but whatever, it was fun enough.
As Puck shoved his bag into the trailer, he eyed the empty space amidst his clothes and guitars and even his bed and a few other pieces of furniture and hoped it was big enough for all Sam's shit. Renting the bigger trailer was so not in the budget either. It was cheaper than buying all new shit once he got to L.A. Puck knew. He'd run the numbers. Shrugging, he slammed the trailer door closed before hoofing it back up to the front door of his (well, now his ma's and sister's) house and yelling inside, "I'm leaving now! You'll never see me again!"
Elly Puckerman rolled her eyes as she came into the foyer from the kitchen and pulled her son into a tight hug. "We'll miss you, Noah," she whispered as she kissed his cheek. Pulling back, she added, "Well, mostly. I certainly won't miss that stupid haircut of yours."
"Ma!" Puck complained fondly, ruffling his hair self-consciously. He was convinced that half of his success as a pool-cleaning mogul was because of his haircut. It reminded people of sharks or whales or something. "Say goodbye to Sarah for me? I gotta pick up Sam so we can get the truck looked at and then hit the road. Otherwise we'll never make it to our first stop tonight, and we'll have to sleep in a truck stop."
Laughing, Elly pushed Puck toward the door and said, "Well, we wouldn't want that! I'll give her a kiss for you. Now get out of here. I've got my own shit to do."
Puck laughed as well and nodded before jogging out to his truck and hopping in. This trip was going to be epic.
All of Sam’s worldly possessions managed to cram into a single large duffle bag and his guitar case. Anything excess, Sam had sold off months ago when his family was strapped for cash, so packing for his new future across the country was an easy task.
Tucking the last of his clean laundry into the duffle bag, Sam paused for a moment to look around at the guest room he had been staying in for the past few months. The Hummel-Hudsons (Hudmels?) had been kind enough to give him a place to live while he finished up his senior year back at McKinley with his friends.
The past two years had been a whirlwind for Sam, but he was ready to move on to bigger, brighter things. When Puck had approached him with his pool cleaning idea, Sam had jumped on the chance immediately. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to go to college or move back home to help out his parents; he just wanted a new start, where he could make his own decisions. Of course, his parents were reluctant to let him go, but they agreed in the end, telling him he could always come home if things didn’t work out.
Hefting the bag onto his shoulder, Sam made his way out the front door, sitting himself down on the stoop to wait for his ride. He tried not to think about it, but Sam couldn't help but picture Mercedes at the goodbye party the night before. She'd looked so sad and part of him wanted to go talk to her, tell her a joke and cheer her up, but it was too soon after their break up. They weren't friends. Not yet. It was just, not being able to cheer her up bugged him. Of course then Puck had pulled him into a guitar duet as they accompanied most of the glee club in a round of loud song.
Puck had distracted Sam. He'd been doing a lot of that lately and really, Sam couldn't help but be grateful, since he really needed the distraction.
Puck pulled up to the Hummel-Hudson house about five minutes late, but he figured it was close enough. He saw Sam sitting on the stoop right away, so he put the truck in park. He didn't bother to kill the engine, just hopped out to go open the trailer. Waving Sam over, he called out, "That all you bringing, dude?"
“Well, it’s not like I’ve got much to bring,” Sam shrugged, grabbing his bags.
"Throw it all in there," Puck nodded, pointing into the little U-haul and thinking it was a shame someone as awesome as Sam didn't have much to his name. Not that Puck did either, but it seemed like Sam deserved more. At least Sam didn't seem to be an overly sentimental dude prone to hanging onto useless shit like old movie ticket stubs or pop can tabs or yearbooks. Non-sentimentality was a trait Puck really liked in a friend. Or a maybe more-than-friend. He wasn't really sure.
Things had gotten weird about a week ago, on the night he and Sam were commiserating about Sam's off-again status with Mercedes, now permanently off since she was already in L.A. meeting with that producer who’d found her on YouTube. Puck had supplied the booze and Sam had supplied the music, and there was drinking and singing and then there was kissing. The next morning, it should have felt awkward, but it didn't. Things were the same as always, and Puck figured that was cool, since they were about to embark on an adventure out west and the six-day trip they'd planned didn't include awkward glances or blushing or any of that crap. Though if it happened again, Puck figured he probably wouldn't mind much. Kissing was kissing and sex was sex and as long as no one he knew found out about it and told his mother before he told her first, it was awesome.
Once Sam's stuff was stowed and Puck made sure that the trailer was locked closed—yeah, he didn't need some dirtbag stealing all his worldly possessions the first time he and Sam stopped for waffles or something—he hopped back into the driver's seat and waited for Sam to take the passenger's side. "You ready for this, bro?" Puck asked with a grin, his excited grip tight on the steering wheel. "The future's all ahead of us and shit."
Sam dropped his voice and added a raspy quality as he replied, "I was born ready, mothafucka!"
Puck laughed, recognizing the line from Blade, which Sam had made him watch earlier in the year. Then he said, "We gotta stop and get the truck tuned up so we don't get stuck out on the road. It shouldn't take too long. I figured we'd run over to the grocery store and get us some road tripping necessities while we wait. I'm thinking Funyuns, Snickers, and Red Bull. Breakfast of frickin' champions!"
A few moments down the road, Puck said, "You and me, man. We're gonna take on the big city and kick its ass, you got it? Kick. Its. Ass." A few breaths later, some of his anxiety over the whole moving-across-the-country thing escaped and he asked in a softer voice, "Right?"
Sam's eyes softened, and he hesitated for just a moment before putting his hand on Puck's shoulder. "Totally, man. You and me and L.A.? It's going to be perfect."
"Perfect," Puck nodded, leaning into the touch maybe more than he should have, but whatever. They were getting out of this backward hellhole, so what did it matter, anyway?
Before long (because Lima was fucking tiny and Puck was really looking forward to living someplace that took more than ten minutes to drive all the way through) they reached Hummel Tire and Lube. He always thought the name of the shop sounded vaguely dirty, but figured Burt Hummel was bad-ass enough to get away with it. Puck pulled his truck right up to one of the open garage doors, but thought he should probably unhitch the trailer and pull it off to the side before handing the truck over, so it could be put up on one of those elevator things. He got this funny image in his head of the little uhaul hanging off the back, his and Sam's shit spilling out everywhere, and chuckled a little. Nodding at Sam, he asked, "Wanna gimme a hand pulling this over into a parking spot, bro?"
"Sure," Sam agreed and they set to work moving the trailer. Puck hoped they wouldn't have to do this every time they wanted to stop, because it was a big pain in the ass, but how else were they going to move their crap all the way out to L.A.? No, this was definitely the best option. Besides, it was kind of nice watching Sam's muscles work as they lifted the trailer and pulled it across the parking lot. Not that Puck was paying attention to that sort of thing. Not really.
Kurt’s phone buzzed for at least the twentieth time that morning. As he had the previous nineteen times, he pressed the Ignore button and shoved the phone back in his pocket. All twenty calls and texts had been some combination of Blaine, Rachel, and Finn and at the moment he didn’t want to talk to any of them. Especially Blaine. Even the thought of talking to Blaine felt like someone had reached into his chest and carved out his heart with a dull knife. Since all Finn wanted to talk about was boot camp and Rachel, and all Rachel wanted to talk about was how he was doing after the break-up or New York or Finn, he didn’t want to talk to them either. He knew he couldn’t avoid them forever, but even a few days would give him a chance to get his thoughts straight.
His last conversation with Blaine ran through his head over and over, but all he managed to remember was Blaine telling him not going to New York was for the best. Kurt hadn’t been sure Blaine had really said that, until it was followed up with Blaine’s excited monologue over how now they didn’t have to be apart, and Kurt would be better off in Lima with Blaine until they could move to New York together. The conversation had ended with Kurt breaking up with Blaine, and breaking both their hearts. He still couldn’t believe the words had left his throat, but even though it hurt more than anything he’d ever imagined, he didn’t regret them. That hurt most of all.
At the sound of a truck pulling in, Kurt looked up in relief. The garage had been slow that day, and Kurt was alone until Jason got back from lunch. He didn’t mind working at the garage—he liked cars and knew his way around an engine thank you very much—but on hot summer days with no work to do, it left too much time to think. And right this minute, thinking was the enemy. He recognized Puck’s truck, and sighed. This meant that Sam and Puck were on their way to LA. He had no idea what they planned to do in L.A. (he was sure that Sam's mention of "pool cleaning" was a joke and really they intended on breaking into Hollywood), but he didn’t think it had to do with Sam trying to get Mercedes back. At least, Mercedes hadn’t seemed to think so, even though she was already in L.A., meeting with the music producer who had seen her on YouTube. She’d tried to convince Kurt to come out with her, use the time away to figure out what to do, but he’d been too depressed to do anything but want to stay home curled up in his bed forever. A sliver of an idea began to worm its way through Kurt’s brain, but he pushed it aside.
He placed his hands at his hips, and arched a brow as Sam and Puck hopped out of the cab and began working on unhitching the trailer. When they had manhandled the thing to the side, Kurt finally walked over. “Good afternoon, gentlemen. I suppose you’ve come looking for some free advice on this death trap.” He patted the hood of the truck almost fondly. It was old, but not junk, and since Puck was a friend of sorts (and Sam was definitely a friend), Kurt planned to make sure the truck would get them to their destination safely. But that didn’t mean he couldn’t make Puck work for it just a little.
"Not free advice," Puck insisted as he shook out from his hands and arms the weight of pulling the trailer. Smiling at Kurt and squinting in the morning sun, Puck added, "But I was sorta counting on the friends and family discount. I made an appointment and everything. Gotta make sure we make it all the way out to L.A. and don't get stranded in like, New Mexico or something." Puck turned to Sam and said, "But you'd probably love it there, hey, bud? All them aliens runnin' around everywhere. You can be our translator, tell 'em not to probe us!" Puck laughed and lightly hit Sam's arm with the back of his hand.
"Dude, maybe the aliens would want to probe me, but they definitely wouldn't want your ugly ass," Sam laughed, hitting Puck back with a punch on the arm.
"Oh, yeah?" Puck replied, shoving Sam playfully, but roughly. "I'll have you know my ass is awesome. Aliens from all over the galaxy are duking it out right now, trying to get first dibs on my ass!"
Sam shook his head and pushed Puck back, but lighter,like he was giving up, even though he said, "You wish, dude. You freaking wish."
"Boys, boys!" Kurt cried, getting their attention. When both Puck and Sam had turned toward Kurt, he grinned and said, "Obviously the aliens are all calling dibs on my ass first. Now, what can I do for you?"
Laughing at Kurt's willingness to get in on the joke and agreeing with him that if there were aliens, they'd probably pick Kurt first (because who wouldn't?) Puck said, "I kinda figured Finn was gonna want to be the one to look the truck over, but I 'accidentally' decided to wait until his day off to bring Sheila in. I know your dad trusts him or whatever, but," Puck leaned in a little closer (How did Kurt work in a shop and still smell that good?) and whispered, "but I grew up with that kid and saw him break anything he ever owned that had moving parts. I've seen him break a hammer, dude. A hammer."
Kurt stepped back, looking a bit ... flustered with the way Puck had invaded his personal space, and Puck couldn't quite tell if that was fear on his face or something else. Probably fear, even though Puck seriously hadn't been a dick to Kurt in like two years. “Clever, Puckerman. It’ll be our little secret.”
"Right, so I guess Sammy and me are gonna go scrounge up road trip supplies, yeah?" Puck looked over at Sam and when the blond nodded, Puck nodded in return. He loved having a friend he didn't have to actually really talk to in order to get his meaning. Turning back to Kurt, he asked, "You want us to grab you anything? I'm not talking a Christmas ham or somethin', but I bet there's a slice of cheesecake in the bakery aisle with your name on it. You've got our future in your hands, dude," he smirked, patting Sheila's side. "It's the least I can do."
“Do you feel like driving all the way to the Whole Foods in Westerville?” There was a moment of silence. “I didn’t think so. Thank you for the offer, but there is nothing I would eat where you’re going.”
Nodding, Puck figured it was good Kurt was getting out of this town where no one cared about organic food or free-range eggs or whatever the crap he liked. Then Puck jerked his head inviting Sam to follow him down the block to the grocery store. It was totally weird that he had to stop himself from brushing his hand against Sam's as they walked, wasn't it?
Well, that had been...weird, Kurt thought as Sam and Puck disappeared. For a second there he’d almost thought he and Puck had had a moment, but that was ridiculous. Sure, he realized Puck was hot (Kurt wasn’t blind) but he was also Puck. One hundred percent not Kurt’s type. Except...
He shook his to clear his mind of crazy thoughts and focused on the truck. It was old, but in surprisingly good shape. It appeared that Puck had taken care of her the way he should have. That didn’t mean there weren’t things he needed to fix, but they were relatively simple and Kurt could have done them with his eyes closed, which meant, unfortunately, that he had room to think while he worked.
The problem was that he’d been thinking too much since graduation, and none of the thoughts had led him to any answers. He hadn’t gotten into the school of his dreams, and he’d been so caught up in that one particular dream that he hadn’t even made any back-up plans. It was, he knew, completely foolish and he only had himself to blame. He didn’t know what he’d been thinking. He’d been planning for college since preschool practically. He’d had a list as long as his arm of potential schools in New York, not to mention Chicago, San Francisco, and L.A., and he’d applied to one of them. Idiotic, and the darker part of his brain told him that he deserved the mess he was in now.
It was salt in the wound to realize that Puck had a firmer life plan than he did. Sure, that life plan was to go to L.A. and start a pool business, and he’d somehow roped Sam into thinking it was a good idea, but at least it was a plan. Everyone else had a plan, too. Mercedes had LA. Santana had her cheerleading scholarship. Mike had his dance school. And Finn had the Army (not that Kurt agreed with that plan, but he had to admit that in the past few weeks since that decision had been made, Finn had seemed more grounded and grown up).
And Rachel...Rachel had New York. He knew, intellectually, that it wasn’t Rachel’s fault he hadn’t gotten into NYADA and she had. He knew it was selfish and mean to blame her, and he didn’t. Not really. He was beyond thrilled for her, and knew she was going to take that city by storm and make it hers, but he couldn’t be around her without wanting to cry, and New York had lost a lot of its shine. It was hard to explain why, but for at least right now New York couldn’t be part of his dream anymore.
He finished the last bit of work on the truck and stepped back. He heard Puck and Sam come back in, talking quietly. He wiped his hands on a rag, and then his eyes widened. “Oh my god,” he said, loudly enough for the other boys to look over at him with startled expressions. If he’d been paying attention, he would have said they looked almost scared.
“What’s up, dude?” Sam asked, moving away from Puck. He looked at Kurt with concerned eyes, and Kurt just grinned. “You’re starting to freak me out.”
Kurt looked at Puck, and then at Sam. Best to just blurt it out. Tear the band-aid off. Take the plunge. Right. “Can I come with you?” He asked the question fast, nerves bubbling up as he braced himself for rejection. “Just to L.A. I mean. I’m not exactly cut out for the pool cleaning business. But Mercedes is there, and...I don’t know. I don’t have anything else, and I need to get out of this town. Figure something out. L.A. could be the answer to that.”
“Dude, I don’t know...” Puck started to say, but Kurt held up a hand.
“Just...think about it? I'll pay for gas money." Kurt looked between the two of them and then pointed to Puck's ride. "I'd even offer the use of my car, so you wouldn't need the trailer, but … my dad already sort of sold it, thinking I'd get in and now that I haven't... Anyway, I’m going to finish up with your truck, change the tires. Think about it and let me know.” He really hoped they would say yes. The idea of going to L.A., even if it meant road-tripping with two boys who probably hadn’t even thought about a route to get there, was the first thing to make him feel excited in weeks.
He gave them each a smile, and then went back to the truck trying to pretend he didn’t notice when they left the garage again. “L.A.,” he murmured to himself as he got the tires into position. “This might just work.”
"So what do you think?" Sam asked as soon as they were out of earshot. He could tell Puck wasn't enthused about the idea, with his hands on his hips like that.
"I think that there's only three seats in the truck," Puck began, looking away from Sam and toward the vehicle.
When he looked back, Sam pointed out, "There's three of us."
Puck rolled his eyes and looked away again, mumbling something that Sam didn't catch.
"What?" Sam asked, taking a step closer to his friend. "What did you say? Because if it's something about Kurt being gay, I don't—"
"I don't give a fuck that Kurt's gay," Puck groaned, throwing out his arms and taking an intimidating step closer, though Sam was fairly certain he didn't mean for it to be intimidating. "Especially after—" He frowned and shook his head.
Sam wasn't sure what he meant for half a second, and then he got it. "After that thing we don't talk about happened."
Sam nodded. Puck was upset, but not because he was homophobic. Then why wouldn't he want Kurt to come along? Sam looked up and searched Puck's face, smiling a little at his petulant pout. Was it weird that Sam wanted to kiss that pout away? It was totally weird, wasn't it? Maybe all that weirdness was bugging Puck, too. "Did you want to talk about it?"
"No," Puck replied, jerking his head to the left toward the trailer. Nonplussed, Sam followed him around behind it. When they were out of sight, Puck grabbed Sam's head and kissed him on the lips. "I sorta thought there'd be more of that on this trip."
"Oh," Sam said, touching his lips and feeling a grin spread across them. Sam knew that even though he and Mercedes were moving to the same city, the chances that they would work out were pretty slim. She'd be busy doing her thing and meeting new people and he'd be busy … well, working with Puck. Shirtless. All year round. Oh, Jesus.
Clearing his throat, Sam nodded, "Uh, yeah. I mean shit yes, Puck, of course I want that, too." Sam didn't say anything about how he hoped there'd eventually be more to their relationship than just making out. Like, he didn't even mean in the physical way, because he really liked Puck and hanging out with him and if there was physical stuff involved too, that sounded really, really cool. "But you heard Kurt, man. He's desperate to get out of here. We both know what that's like."
Puck rolled his eyes, but nodded. "Yeah, I guess."
A warm feeling spread through Sam's chest when Puck agreed. See, he knew it. McKinley's bad-ass was really just a softie, and Sam wanted to be the one to uncover that soft inside. Ew. That sounded worse than it was, really. "So he can come?"
Puck sighed and leaned back against the trailer, letting his head hit it. "He's not gonna want to hang out with us all the time, is he? 'Cause I can live with him cockblocking us for like a week, but for every day from now on? I think I'd rather drown myself in a hot tub, thanks."
Puck had used the word 'cockblock'! Excited shivers ran down Sam's spine. Puck didn't just want to be friends who hung out and sometimes kissed. He wanted more than that right? It had been forever since Sam had lost his virginity and Mercedes, while an awesome high school girlfriend, just hadn't been ready for much of a physical relationship. To put it short, he was kinda dying to get laid. And what was better than getting laid with someone you really, really cared about, like your best bro? "We'll play Call of Duty for hours and hours until he gets bored and leaves. How does that sound?"
Smirking, Puck replied, "Perfect." Sam started to turn away to go tell Kurt the good news, but Puck stopped him with a hand around his wrist. "But maybe we don't tell him about..." Puck motioned back and forth between the two of them.
"You don't want him to know about us." Sam nodded. He got it. Just because there was something between them didn't mean that Puck was ready to actually tell people. Sam wasn't sure he was ready either. "Yeah, it might break his brain."
Puck grinned and clapped Sam on the shoulder. "Totally! And what good is bringing a mechanic on the trip if his brain is broke, even if he is paying for some of the gas? He finds out, he won't be able to tell a wrench from a screwdriver, dude."
Sam lifted one eyebrow and asked, "Was that a gay joke?"
Puck shook his head, ruffled Sam's hair, and said, "Sometimes your brain scares me, man. It really does."
It might have been less than ten minutes before Sam and Puck were back, but to Kurt it felt like a lifetime. He didn’t know why it seemed so important that they say yes. It wasn’t like he couldn’t buy a ticket and go to L.A. on his own, meet up with Mercedes. His father wouldn’t mind. He’d been mumbling about Kurt coming to D.C. when Congress was back in session, or doing something that didn’t involve chocolate chip cookie dough frozen yogurt and Sleepless in Seattle on repeat. He’d probably be happy to front the bill for a ticket to L.A., but for some reason, a road trip with Puck and Sam just had to work out.
He felt all jittery and sick to his stomach as he changed the tires, and when Puck and Sam came back he tried not to let on how much it would mean to him if they said yes. It wouldn’t be the end of the world if they decided they didn’t want him along, and even though the idea of rejection made his eyes burn, he wouldn’t cry or anything. He’d thank them for giving it some thought and wish them luck. It wouldn’t be the end of the world. Except how it totally would be.
Kurt looked at Sam and then Puck, biting his lip as he waited for what seemed like Judgment Day. Puck and Sam looked back at him, and then Puck groaned. “Oh my fucking god, Hummel, stop looking like we just stepped on your puppy. You can come with us. Jesus.”
Time seemed to stop for a minute, and Kurt looked at Sam for confirmation, and then let out the breath he hadn’t been aware he was holding. He beamed at them, then surprised them both by flinging his arms around them in an awkward three-way hug. “Thank you,” he breathed against Puck’s neck. His fist clenched in the back of Sam’s shirt. “Really, thank you.” He held on for a moment more before remembering where they were and who they were, and then he pulled back with a blush.
They were all silent for a moment, and then Kurt squealed. “Oh my god, I have to pack!” He started mentally going through his closet. There was no way he was going to be able to do this so quickly, but he’d have to or they might leave without him. “We have to go right now. Sam, put the closed sign up would you?” He scribbled out a note for Jason, apologizing for abandoning ship, but he thought the older mechanic would understand. He was pretty tired of Kurt moping around too. “Puck, get my phone. It’s behind the counter.” He would have to call his dad, who was in D.C. with Carole this week. He’d really rather have had this conversation in person, but that wasn’t to be. It would work out though. He knew it would.
It took an hour (okay, maybe closer to two, but who was counting?) for Kurt to pack (and he thought he’d been very conservative, no matter what Puck muttered under his breath). There were two suitcases with his clothes, his travel toiletry kit, laptop, several books and magazines, his collection of classic films, and a picture of his family at the wedding. Finn had come in while he was packing, looking torn between wounded and concerned. He hadn’t tried to talk Kurt out of it though, just hugged him for a long time as they were about to leave.
“Finn, I’ll talk to you soon, okay?” Kurt held on just as tight and tried to ignore the prickling in his eyes. This felt too much like good-bye, since the next time he’d see Finn was whenever he was done with boot camp...maybe longer. “Just be careful. There will be guns Finn. I will kill you if you get yourself hurt.”
Finn chuckled against his head and then backed off. He looked at Puck and Sam. “Can’t believe you two assholes were going to leave without saying goodbye. The party last night was fine enough for everyone else, but I'm your bro, bros.” Puck and Sam had the grace to look ashamed, and then there were a few minutes of very bro-worthy goodbye slaps and handshakes. Kurt had to roll his eyes at it, but soon enough they were ready to get on the road.
"Okay, dudes," Puck said, settling himself into the driver's seat and buckling in (damn, there was like no elbow room with the three of them jammed in like they were). "Let's get going. First stop: Chicago!"
"Puck," Kurt said, giving him a side-eyed glare and holding up his damn smart-ass phone. Oh, great. Here we go. But at least he didn’t look like he was going to cry anymore. "Chicago is too far north. We'll be going out of the way if we take that route. Plus, we'd have to go through Iowa."
Sam, who was sitting in the middle seat, his thigh pressed up against Puck's in a way that was awesome and uncomfortable at the same time, chuckled and asked, "What's wrong with Iowa? They have gay marriage there."
"And the Hawkeyes," Puck added helpfully.
Groaning, Kurt added, "And corn and absolutely nothing else! Boys, if you're going to live in L.A., you're going to have to learn some culture!"
"Football counts as culture," Sam supplied with a grin aimed at Puck.
He laughed and held his fist out for Sam to bump, which Kurt frowned at. "Totally."
"And we're going to Chicago tonight to see a game before we head down through St. Louis tomorrow," Puck told Kurt with a grin. "How's that for culture?"
"What? What sort of game? Football? I don't really think you can compare football to oper—" Kurt said, but Sam cut him off.
"No, man. Baseball! Wrigley Field! Gonna go see the Cubs play!" Sam looked really happy about the plan, and it made Puck smile as well. The Cubs weren't his favorite team, but he had to admit, Sam's enthusiasm about going to see Wrigley Field, which they'd missed out on during the trip to Nationals, was infectious.
Kurt seemed to notice too, because he said quietly, "My way's faster," and then dropped it, letting Puck turn northwest toward Fort Wayne.
After a few minutes, Sam spoke up, "It's not about getting there as quick as we can, you know? It's about having fun on the way and hoping we end up where we meant to."
Puck wasn't sure if Sam was trying to sound profound, or if he was quoting something, or if he was just saying shit like he did sometimes, but he hummed in agreement, then cracked a smile. "You could say it's all about the Journey!"
Puck's grin widened when Sam laughed and nudged his shoulder, but Kurt groaned loudly.
"Is this the way it's going to be all the way to California?" Kurt sighed, but Puck saw a hint of amusement in the corner of his eye. "You two obnoxiously chipper, telling corny jokes the whole time?"
"Would you expect anything less from us?" Sam asked, this time nudging Kurt's shoulder with his, which didn't make Puck jealous. Of course it didn't. Not at all.
"You know," Kurt drawled, setting his elbow on the door armrest and his chin in his hand as he looked out the window at the passing landscape, "I really wouldn't."
Half an hour down the road, Kurt's phone rang and he looked at the screen, frowning. He punched a button and it stopped ringing, but Sam got the distinct impression that Kurt wanted to strangle the phone, or maybe whoever was on the other end.
"Is that your dad?" he asked. Sam couldn't thank Burt and Carole Hummel enough for giving him a place to stay in Lima so he could finish up his senior year with his friends. Now he felt bad, whisking Burt's son away at a moment's notice, out to California with no idea when he'd be home again. He hoped Burt wasn't mad at him, but Kurt had looked so trapped or something that Sam couldn't help but want to bring his friend along.
"No," Kurt sighed. "It's Blaine. He's not taking the break up very well, to say the least."
"That sucks, bro," Puck said from Sam's other side. "Why'd you break up, anyway?"
Kurt sighed and seemed to think about the question for a moment before finally he said, "Blaine likes to think he's more of an adult than I am. It was holding me back."
Sam laughed. "Dude, you're the most adult eighteen-year-old I know."
"I'm nineteen," Kurt said, which made Sam share a surprised look with Puck. When Kurt saw them, he explained, "My birthday at the end of May? Was my nineteenth. I started kindergarten a year later than I could have because I was so small."
"Huh," Sam said, before he laughed and nudged Puck with his elbow. "We got ourselves an old man on this trip!"
"Hey, two years from now, you can totally buy us beer, no fake needed," Puck grinned, which made Kurt laugh and pointedly turn his phone on silent. As Kurt arched up to stow the phone in his back pocket, Sam noticed the way his thigh muscles bunched under his shorts.
Oookay, things Sam was not supposed to notice for five-hundred, Alex!
Sam pointed his eyes back toward the road and wished that Puck wasn't so touchy about… well, being touched. Because Sam really wanted to hold his boyfriend's hand and tell himself that he was a good, faithful, non-eyes-wandering person.
Chicago was awesome. Aside from Nationals, Sam had never been to the Windy City, and he sort of wanted to explore more than the game at Wrigley Field and the pizza joint they went to for pre-game dinner. They'd had to wait for Kurt to pack, so they'd lost the few hours he thought they'd have before the game and now it was almost midnight and everything was closed.
By the time Sam and his friends got to the hotel, he had never been as tired in his entire life. "Tell me," he begged Puck, leaning his head on Puck's shoulder as they rode up in the elevator, "that the rest of the days won't be as tiring as this one."
Chuckling softly, Puck replied, "I hate to break it to you, dude, but we've got more than two thousand miles left to go, not to mention all the shit you wanted to see on the way. Why do you think we had Kurt tune up the truck?"
Kurt mumbled, "Kurt's glad Kurt tuned up the truck. Otherwise we wouldn't have made it to our nice, comfy, cozy, clean beds tonight."
Sam laughed and pushed Kurt toward the opening elevator doors. "Room 508, dude."
Kurt carried one of his bags while Sam lugged the other of Kurt's bags and his own duffel. Puck carried the cooler and his overnight bag, which was much smaller than either of the others' bags. He followed Kurt into the room, and almost ran into him when he stopped short. Puck did run into Sam with the cooler, knocking into his back with one of the sharp edges. "Ow."
"What? Why we stopping?" Puck groaned. "I just want to sl—"
"There's only one bed," Kurt said. His tone was flat, but Sam knew that meant he actually had strong feelings about the situation. "Why is there only one bed?"
"Shit," Puck said from behind Sam, setting the cooler down practically on his heels. "I made the reservation yesterday, before we knew you were coming along, dude."
Sam sighed, looking over Kurt's shoulder at the perfectly good, inviting bed and knowing he wasn't getting anywhere near it anytime soon. "Should we go down to the desk and ask for a different room?"
"No, the dude said they're all booked up," Puck said, rolling his neck until it popped. "He said if we hadn't made a reservation, then we'd be shit outta luck."
"He said exactly that?" Sam asked with an exhausted smile at Puck's phrasing.
Puck shrugged. "More or less."
"I'm guessing less," Kurt said, taking a few steps into the room and falling belly first onto the mattress. "I call this side of the bed."
Sam looked back at Puck and saw a wild glint in his eye that meant if Sam didn't move his ass, Puck was going to beat him to claiming the other half of the bed for himself. He threw down his bags and was about to throw himself onto the bed when a strong arm wrapped around his trunk and yanked him backward.
"I don't think so, Evans! That bed is mine!" Puck growled in his ear and Sam knew that if he hadn't been drop-dead tired, his dick definitely would have taken notice.
"Fat chance, Puckerman," Sam cried, pulling himself out of Puck's arms and toward the bed. "That pillow is mine!"
"Oh, you can have the pillow," Puck replied, grabbing Sam and trying to swing him back toward the door. "You'll just be using it on the floor!" Sam turned into the move, intent on using it against Puck, but he only succeeded in tripping them both onto the bed.
"Ow," Kurt said, pulling one of his legs out from under them. "Why is there only one bed, anyway? You guys have been planning this trip for awhile, right? I would have thought you'd ask for two beds."
Sam looked at Puck, which was a little difficult, because the guy sort of had him in a headlock, and found Puck looking back at him. Puck shrugged, but his eyes were wide with nervousness. Well, he had been the one to insist they not tell Kurt about whatever this was. Sam lifted his eyebrows, telling Puck to come up with an excuse for why he might possibly want to share a bed with Sam.
Wait. Had this been Puck's plan to seduce Sam? Tire him out with a whole day of driving and then sleep in the same bed? Yeah, because being exhausted and smelling like the sweaty truck was super romantic. Sam rolled his eyes at Puck.
Puck cleared his throat and said, "You know. Cheaper."
Groaning, Kurt lifted his head. "And you're all about the budget." Looking them up and down, Kurt said, with suggestion heavy in his voice, "If I didn't know any better..."
Puck hopped away and Sam had to fight the urge to pout at the loss of body contact. Kurt scoffed, and Sam looked just in time to see him roll his eyes at Puck's eagerness to get away. Well wasn't that flattering?
After opening the closet, Puck took out an extra pillow and blanket and then lay down on the floor between the bed and the air conditioner under the window. Sam pushed off his shoes with his toes and asked, "You sure, Puck?"
"Yeah," he agreed. "The whole one bed thing was my bad. It's cool."
Kurt met Sam's eyes and opened his mouth like he was going to say something, but then he shut it quickly.
"Not gonna argue?" Sam whispered.
Kurt smiled and shook his head impishly. Well, as impish as he could, considering he looked like he was about to drop of exhaustion.
"Oh, I see how it is." Sam laughed and buried himself in his pillow, not even bothering to go pee, half out of fear that Puck would take his spot.
Halfway through the night, Sam woke up with a hot arm draped over his chest and a warm presence behind him, toward the edge of the bed rather than Kurt's side. Puck was snoring, so Sam didn't bother asking him why he was there, when Kurt was only about ten inches away from them, opting to fall back asleep instead. When he woke up in the morning, Puck was back on the floor, again snoring like a chainsaw.
It made Sam wonder if he'd dreamed the whole thing.
Kurt woke slowly, savoring the moment. He loved waking up with someone, curled against them, legs tangled. He sighed, pressing closer to the solid body next to him, and then in the next moment he was fully awake and aware of just whom he was spooning. Blushing, and grateful Sam was asleep, he carefully extracted himself and tiptoed to the bathroom to drown in the shower.
“Idiot,” he told his reflection. “Stop crushing on your friend and focus on The Plan.” He’d been formulating The Plan during the quiet moments of the drive, though at the moment it consisted solely of getting to L.A. It was a work in progress. He shook his head and pushed away from the sink. The hotel shower wasn’t as nice as the one at home, but it got the job done.
When he stepped out of the bathroom twenty minutes later, Sam and Puck were gone. Sam had scrawled an untidy note on hotel stationery that they’d gone down to breakfast. There was an additional note from Puck that read Dude, if you used all the hot water I’m going to kick your ass. It made Kurt smile, though he couldn’t really say why. Perhaps because he'd never been in a hotel that could run out of hot water and that Puck wouldn't know that really spoke to how out of his element Puck was away from Lima. And how brave he was for leaving in the first place.
Dressing quickly, he headed down to breakfast, to eat and to let the other two know the shower was free. There was no way he was riding in a car with two smelly boys. He would insist on proper hygienic routines for the entirety of the trip, even if he had to drag them into the shower. Which, considering the state in which he’d woken this morning, was not a good tangent to go down. Determined to force his mind away from that particular avenue of thought, he concentrated on finding his way to the breakfast area.
He spotted Sam and Puck right away, sitting on one side of a booth in the corner. Their heads were close together, and Sam had the brightest grin Kurt had ever seen. He felt…weird, watching them. It was almost as if… But then Sam looked over and gave Kurt that same bright grin and waved him over. Puck shifted so there was a little more room between him and Sam, and Kurt decided that whatever it was he thought he’d seen was just leftover from a dream.
“You’ll be happy to know I left you hot water, Puckerman,” Kurt said, sliding into the booth across from them. “Oh! And I thought we could stop and see this waterfall I came across on the Internet. It’s supposed to be gorgeous and surrounded by these natural hot springs. It might be interesting.” He described the state park and the supposed health benefits to be found in the hot springs. There was supposed to be a medicine woman there who sold restorative medicines that were good for the heart. She didn’t have a website, so the only way to get them was to visit her.
“No way, dude. It’s like a hundred miles out of our way, for a bunch of rocks and water. No thanks.” Puck’s voice was firm, his opinion clearly not about to budge, so Kurt turned his attention to Sam, and gave him his own bright smile.
“It was used as a filming site for that movie with the wolves you like,” he said teasingly. “And there have been more than a dozen Big Foot sightings in the last year alone.” He wasn’t even making any of this up, and…yes! He could see the moment Sam was on board from the way his grin grew wider and his eyes lit up.
They both turned to Puck, puppy dog eyes in full force, until Puck sighed. “Fine. Whatever. But I’m driving and choosing the music. And we're not staying that long. And we're leaving from here in less than an hour. It's a good thing I fucking planned on taking our time getting through Illinois today, dude.”
Kurt grinned. Victory! Even if he had to sit through three hours of what Puck considered music. “Okay, you two should go get ready and packed while I eat. If we hit the road now, we can be there just after lunch.” With that settled, Kurt signaled to the waitress, and then shooed Sam and Puck out of the booth to get ready.
The drive to the state park hadn’t been as bad as Sam had expected it to be. Kurt spent most of the time deleting messages from Blaine, though he had answered one or two. He’d always frowned after and his eyes had been glassy, but Sam got it. He still felt bad about Mercedes even though breaking up (again) had been the best way to go. The break up with Kurt and Blaine was even newer than that, and they’d been together much longer, but Kurt didn’t seem to want to talk about, so Sam didn’t pressure him.
Puck had spent most of the ride singing along to the radio, and sometimes Sam would join in until Kurt glared at them both and they’d quiet down for awhile. Of course, a new song would start and the cycle would start all over again. Eventually Kurt had given up trying to shush them and joined in as well, and it was a pity they’d never done a group number for New Directions, because they sounded awesome, especially doing a Wayne’s World-style Bohemian Rhapsody number. Though Sam thought he remembered Rachel making them watch Vocal Adrenaline’s version before sectionals one year, so maybe it was good that they’d stayed away from that.
There was a fee to get into the park, but Kurt picked up the tab so Puck didn’t have anything to complain about. Sam was glad; it was exhausting playing mediator between the two of them at times. He didn’t mind, but it would be nice to pass through a day without a lot of bickering. Kurt made them wait after parking while he changed from “car clothes” into “outdoor appropriate clothes,” though Sam didn’t really see the difference. He thought Kurt looked good either way. And maybe that wasn’t a good thing to think about, how good Kurt looked in just a pair of shorts (and why was Kurt shirtless anyway? He wasn’t usually shirtless) because he should be thinking about how good Puck looked. Since Puck looked really good, it wasn’t that hard.
“Will you put sunscreen on my back?”
Oh. That explained why Kurt was shirtless. He was holding out a bottle of sunscreen to Sam, a questioning look on his face. Sam looked at Puck, who just rolled his eyes and headed towards the visitor center. Kurt waved the sunscreen at Sam until he took it automatically.
Kurt turned, and looked at Sam over his shoulder. “Well?” His eyes flashed with impatience, so Sam shook his head and popped the top. The lotion smelled vaguely of coconut and pineapple, which was nice. Wait, bad train of thought, focus on something else instead, he told himself. He warmed the lotion quickly, and then started rubbing it into Kurt’s shoulders. He tried to be quick but thorough, and not to notice how soft Kurt’s skin was. It wasn’t until he was giving Kurt more of a massage than anything else that he realized what he was doing and took a step back. He cleared his throat, and hoped he wasn’t blushing. “Uh, there you go.”
Kurt turned around and accepted the bottle back. He looked a little flushed, and gave Sam a weird look. Anything he might have said was cut off as Puck came bounding back over, a huge grin on his face.
“Dude! They have rock climbing here. We have got to try that shit out.” He was clearly addressing the comment to Sam, but it was Kurt who answered before Sam had a chance.
“No way, Puckerman. We’re going to the waterfall and to visit the local woman who sells the herbal remedies. We’re not going to do something as foolish as rock climbing.” He was sporting a pretty impressive bitch face, but while Sam was a bit intimidated by it, Puck didn’t appear to be.
“Fuck that shit. You can do what you want, me and Sammy are going rock climbing. I met some guys inside, they said they have gear and would show us what to do.” Puck turned to Sam at the same time Kurt did. Puck looked furious, and Kurt had his hands on his hips. They were both staring at Sam, expecting him to say something.
“Uh...” Sam looked between them, coming to the realization that nothing he did was going to be the right thing. Rock climbing sounded really cool, but he wanted to see the waterfall too. And the mysterious medicine woman, that sounded pretty awesome. It was Kurt’s resigned and pitiful eyes that decided it for him though. He sent Puck what he hoped was an apologetic look, mentally promising to make it up to him later, or as soon as they were alone together. “I think I’m gonna go with Kurt, dude.”
Puck glared, but his expression quickly smoothed out into something that made Sam’s stomach clench. “Whatever dude. Enjoy picking flowers or whatever the fuck Hummel’s going to have you doing.” Without waiting for a response, he stalked over to a group of college aged guys who had just coming out of the visitor center. Sam watched him go, fighting down the urge to call him back. That would be weird, and they were being incognito, right?
He turned back to Kurt, who beamed at him. Kurt tossed him back the sunscreen with some comment about proper skin care in the sun that Sam didn’t really understand. “Thanks.” Sam looked once more at Puck, before turning his attention to Kurt. “So, where’s this waterfall?”
While Kurt sat at a sticky table in the diner Sam just had to eat at, waiting for Sam to get back from the bathroom, he studied Puck. The boy sat across from Kurt with one hand on his opposite bicep and the other hand playing with the straw in his Mr. Pibb. If Kurt wasn't mistaken, it looked like Puck was sulking. Puck was sulking because Sam hadn't gone rock climbing with him, but had gone to the waterfall with Kurt instead. The waterfall had been beautiful, but Puck's lingering absence seemed to put a damper on things. Puck's sulking probably meant he'd had a similarly dampened experience rock climbing.
Kurt knew he couldn't let a similar situation happen again, and that he had to make peace with Puck, because they were only two days into their trip. Being squished together in Puck's truck would be hell if they couldn't all get along.
"You know," Kurt began carefully, making sure he had Puck's attention before he continued. "For the record? I'm glad you didn't break your neck rock climbing."
"Yeah?" Puck asked, his bottom lip still pushed out in an adorable pout. "Why's that? 'Cause I left Sheila to my sister in my will?"
"Because obviously a fifteen-year-old Ford is at the top of my must-have list," Kurt scoffed with a chuckle before his train of thought screeched to a halt. "Wait. You have a will?"
One corner of Puck's mouth twitched up in a tiny smirk. "Yeah, totally."
Kurt could tell that Puck was messing with him, but decided to play along. "So what did you leave me in the event of your tragic death?"
Cracking that shit-eating grin that Kurt knew for a fact Puck only used when he was joking, Puck replied, "My small but incredibly tasteful collection of gay porn."
Kurt choked on his tongue and his face flushed hot. What? After taking a couple breaths to compose himself, Kurt raised one eyebrow at Puck and said, "You're shitting me."
Puck smirked again and leaned away from the table, resting one arm along the back of the booth. "That's for me to know and you to find out, Cupcake."
Kurt's blush at the mention of porn deepened at the pet name, and before he could come up with a reply, Sam dropped down into the seat next to Puck, practically putting Puck's arm around his shoulders. That combined with Puck's joke about gay porn made Kurt wonder if there was something going on and that was why Puck had been in such a foul mood when Sam chose to spend time with Kurt. But no, that was impossible. Puck and Sam were just good friends and Kurt needed to stop reading gay subtext into everything.
"So," Sam asked with a tentative grin at first Puck and then Kurt, "What are we talking about?"
Kurt said, "Nothing," at the same time Puck said, "Porn," which apparently Sam found hilarious.
"Does this mean we're all cool?" Sam asked, giving Puck a nudge to the ribs with his elbow.
Puck agreed, "I'm cool. What about you, Kurt? You," he paused, rather dramatically in Kurt's opinion, to take a sip of his pop, "cool?"
"I'm cool," Kurt agreed. "I'm sorry I monopolized your best friend today, Puck. It was kind of you to loan him to a soul in need."
Puck pulled Sam into a loose headlock, which made Sam grin cheerfully, and replied, "Yeah, well, apology accepted. But that's the last time, alright? You used up your 'poor me I just broke up with my fucking asshole boyfriend' free pass."
Sam gave Puck a weird look, but Kurt said, "Alright. It's more fun when we can all appreciate an activity, anyway."
"Yeah, sure," Sam nodded, pushing away Puck's arm as the food arrived. "Don't worry, you guys. By the time we get to L.A. this will've been the best road trip ever!"
"You guys both saw The Avengers, right?" Sam asked when they were two hours out from St. Louis the next day. It had been rough getting everyone going that morning, all of them tired from hiking the day before, and Puck smirked as he drove. The other two looked bleary eyed as they clung desperately to their coffee cups, while Puck went sans caffeine and had been yelled at for whistling too cheerfully.
What? Who said the Puckasaurus couldn't be a morning person?
After Puck and Kurt both said that they had seen the movie, Sam asked, "So which Avenger do you think each of us is? Like Puck, you're totally the Hulk!"
"Uh, no, I'm not," Puck insisted, trying to come up with good reasons not to be associated with the asshole who lost his temper and all his smarts more often than not. Wanting to deflect the argument for a moment, he said, "You're totally Captain America."
"Definitely," Kurt chimed in from the passenger side, his eyes facing forward and zoned out.
Sam smiled broadly and said, "Yeah, okay! I'm the Captain! I do have the abs for it!"
Puck glanced down at Sam's stomach, remembering what it felt like to run his hand over those muscles while they made out. Before he turned his eyes back to the road, though, he caught Kurt giving him a strange look. What? A dude couldn't look at his best friend's abs if he wanted to?
Eyes on the road, Puck cleared his throat and asked, "So who's Kurt? Like that ninja chick? What's-her-boobs?"
"Puckerman, that's offensive," Kurt said in his lower-pitched, cut-the-shit voice.
Sam punched Puck's arm lightly and agreed, "Totally offensive. Besides, Kurt is totally a super-smart mechanic, like Tony Stark."
"Iron Man?" Puck asked. "I don't know about that. He doesn't exactly scream 'playboy' like yours truly."
"Yeah, but Tony Stark is smart," Kurt snapped before his mouth fell open and he brought his hand up to it. "God, I'm sorry, Puck. I didn't mean to—"
Puck laughed at the way Kurt floundered, all mortified and blushing. "It's cool, dude. The whole almost-not-graduating thing sorta works in your favor on this one. Don't be fooled, though. I fucking rock at math and shit."
"Okay, so I'm Captain America," Sam insisted. He clapped a hand on Puck's lower thigh. "Puck's Iron Man." Puck began humming the tune to Black Sabbath's "Iron Man," throwing in as much air guitar as he could while driving. "What does that make Kurt?"
"I choose Loki," Kurt said before balking at the incredulous looks Puck and Sam gave him. "What? He's handsome with good bone structure and has awesome fashion sense!"
"But he's evil," Sam cried, taking his hand off Puck's thigh—which totally didn't make him frown, shut up—and turning in his seat to better face Kurt. "You can't be evil!"
Pouting, Kurt replied, "I could be evil if I wanted to be."
"Kurt, you're about as evil as a baby duck." Sam gave him a knowing nod, like that was the end of the matter.
Kurt frowned and thought for a few moments before asking, "I can be anyone from the movie?"
Sam laughed and said, "Sure, buddy." Puck tried to think of who Kurt would pick. He was too scrawny to be Thor, even though his guns were bigger than they used to be. He couldn't be the Hulk, because aside from throwing a bitch fit now and then, Puck had never seen Kurt get so angry he just lost it. Maybe Hawkeye?
"Then I pick Pepper Potts."
"I thought you didn't want to be a chick," said Puck, shifting in his seat a little as he pictured Gwyneth Paltrow in those skimpy-ass cut off shorts, and then pictured Kurt in something similar. Puck quickly veered into thinking about Sam in that outfit, not because it was any less gay. At least it didn't make him feel quite so guilty, keeping in mind what this trip was supposed to have been about.
"I didn't want to be 'What's-her-boobs’," Kurt insisted. "She used her looks to trick guys into giving her things. Pepper Potts, on the other hand, is smart, fierce, knows how to look killer in a suit, and tells everyone what to do. I pick her."
"Oh, um. But Black Widow..." Sam looked over at Puck, meeting his eye like he was asking whether or not Kurt's choice was appropriate. Puck nodded, so Sam abandoned his argument and said, "Okay. You're sure you don't want to pick someone with powers?"
"Iron Man's only powers are being able to build a cool machine and being a jackass," Kurt pointed out. "And Captain America is just a guy on steroids who was given a cool shield."
"It's more than—" Sam started to protest, but Puck cut him off.
"Let it go, dude. Kurt's right. Let him be Pepper Potts if he wants."
Kurt smirked, Sam shrugged, and that was that.
"Ugh, we've been driving forever!" Puck said, squished in the middle seat with his thigh pressed more against Sam's on his left than Kurt's on his right. It was too freaking hot because the air conditioning wasn't keeping up and opening the windows just made it too loud to hear himself think. "Let's stop, okay?"
"I thought we were going to try for Texas tonight," Sam replied, his hair sticking to his temple with sweat that Puck could practically taste, sitting this close to him. "If we stop, there's no way we're going to make it."
"What the fuck ever, dude. It's not like we have a reservation for tonight." Puck shifted uncomfortably, accidentally knocking Kurt with his elbow.
"Hey, watch it!"
"Sorry!" Puck frowned and looked back out the windshield, praying for a lake or a water park or even just a place advertising soft-serve. Oh, and maybe they'd have sprinkles. That was one good thing about traveling with Sam and Kurt, no way they'd make fun of him for getting sprinkles on his ice cream. It wasn't about the rainbow colors, either; it was about the way they gave the ice cream this extra texture that was just interesting enough.
Beside him, Kurt wiggled a little and then leaned forward to look over at him. "Are you drooling?"
"What?" Puck asked, wiping his chin with one hand to find that he was, in fact, drooling a little. "No! It's … sweat." He pointed to a billboard off in the distance. "Hey, what's that?"
"Looks like there's a car show going on this week," Sam said, and Puck was relieved because the whole him-drooling-over-theoretical-ice-cream thing seemed to be forgotten.
Kurt watched the billboard as it passed before turning to the others and asking, "Oh, can we go to that? For a little while? It looks like so much fun!"
"You get to see cars all the time at work," Sam pointed out, looking over his shoulder and then changing lanes to pass a Cadillac whose driver looked like he was about a hundred years old.
"Not antique cars," Kurt replied in his defense. "That billboard said they had a working Model T! That's a hundred-year-old car! One of the earliest monobloc engines..." He trailed off wistfully, which Puck had never seen him do unless he was talking about clothes or the Gershwin, whatever that was.
It might be kinda fun to see Hummel geek out over cars, Puck thought, and he could really use the entertainment (and the air conditioning) at this point, so he chuckled a little, elbowed Kurt's ribs, and said, "Now who's drooling? We should totally go!"
"But, Texas?" Sam said weakly, and Puck knew the argument was all but won.
"Fuck Texas, this sounds cooler. I bet they even have those Vanna White babes standing around some of the cars."
Sam nodded thoughtfully and quickly looked over to meet Puck's eye for half a second before bringing his gaze back to the road. "I guess that would be kinda cool."
"For some of us," Kurt said, rolling his eyes with a slight scoff. "Anyway, I think it's the next exit, up here."
"Alright," Sam acquiesced, turning the car onto the off ramp and following Kurt's directions to the convention center, which he read off his phone. It wasn't the first time Kurt had navigated them somewhere cool, and Puck was starting to warm up to the device. He even went so far as to decide that once his pool cleaning business took off, he was totally going to get himself a kick-ass phone like Kurt's. It would probably come in handy when he had to schedule clients and shit. Up until now, he'd kept all that info in his head. It was no wonder he barely remembered enough to graduate, with all that other, more important shit going on in his brain.
But he'd done it, and that was what mattered.
As they entered the convention center, Kurt hurried up to one of the cars, practically purring over it. "This is a late-thirties Chevy Master DeLuxe," he told them. "It's gorgeous!" Puck thought the car looked like it belonged in an old-school gangster movie. Or Gotham City.
"Thank you, young man," the guy standing next to the car said. He looked older than Puck's mom, but not as old as his nana. "It's nice to see an appreciation for the classics hasn't been completely lost."
"How did you do the restoration?" Kurt asked, and he and the guy got into a long discussion about rust and paint and reupholstering that Puck only half paid attention to. Mostly he just admired the car and imagined himself riding around in it, which was lots of fun.
But then he got to watching Kurt's face as he talked, all excited with that blush on his cheeks and his lips rosy red. It was no wonder Blaine kept calling. And calling. And calling. What did he think? That the more times he called, the more likely Kurt was going to convince him and Sam to turn around and drive him back to Lima? Fat chance. If Puck could help it, he was never setting foot in that town again.
When the old guy turned away to talk to someone else, Puck wanted to turn Kurt's attention onto him, so he pointed at another car and asked Kurt, "What's that funny-looking one?"
"Oh… my… god!" Kurt cried, his voice dipping lower with each syllable. Puck wondered off-handedly if the tone was anything like Kurt's sex voice, but then he felt a little guilty for thinking that and looked for his boyfriend. Before Puck could find Sam, Kurt grabbed Puck's arm and pulled him to the funny looking car. "This is a Stanley Steamer!"
"Like the carpet cleaning guys?"
"NO!" Kurt hissed, hitting Puck's arm. Okay, ow. "It's a steam-powered car. See? This boiler back here heats water into steam, which runs the engine. Like in a train."
"Or the Titanic?" Puck asked, remembering all the times his nana had made him watch the movie with her, and he always identified with those dudes shoveling coal into the engines, rather than Leo DiCaprio. Leo didn't have guns. He was more of a pretty guy, like Kurt.
"Exactly!" Kurt beamed, and Puck grinned back. What? He couldn't help it. Kurt's smile was kind of infectious, as was his enthusiasm over the next car, a 1960s Ford that had this bench seat the guy was letting people sit on so they could admire the dashboard or whatever. Puck crawled in after Kurt, and while they sat he pretended he was driving this beauty around California, Kurt right next to him, fiddling with the dash. The sunset would be just perfect over the ocean and light up Kurt's face, highlighting his cheeks as he turned and beamed at Puck.
"Puck?" Kurt asked softly, his brows knit up in confusion. Shit. Puck had been staring while he was lost in his daydream, hadn't he? "Are you o—?"
Puck cut Kurt off by clearing his throat and saying, "Yeah. I'm good. Just thinkin'."
Kurt gave him a half smile and nodded before looking away again. Was Puck blushing? He felt like he was blushing. The Puckasaurus did not fucking blush.
Anyway, where the fuck was Sam?
When Puck didn't see his friend right away, he put a hand on Kurt's shoulder to get his attention and said, "I'm gonna go find the Captain." He wasn't sure Kurt actually understood what he'd said, but the dude nodded, and Puck figured he still had his smart-ass phone. He could call them if he got lost.
Speaking of, Puck pulled out his phone and called Sam's number. It took a bunch of rings, and Puck was sure he was going to get punted to voicemail when Sam finally answered. "Hey."
"Hey! Where'd you go?"
There was some shuffling on the other end before Sam replied, "Dunno. I got bored, so I kinda wandered off. I'm sitting in this red convertible, sorta near the middle, I think?"
Puck looked around until he saw a red convertible with a blond sitting in it. "Oh, I see you," he said before hanging up and making his way over. He almost jumped over the side to take the passenger seat beside Sam, but he figured the old guy who looked like a Vietnam vet would probably kill him. He carefully opened the door and slid in beside Sam. "Hey."
"Hey," Sam grunted back, focusing on the steering wheel and not looking up at Puck.
"What's got you so pissy, dude?" he asked, shoving Sam's shoulder a little bit and then looking around for a second before folding his hand around Sam's. L.A. was one thing, but they were still in Oklahoma, and Puck didn't need trouble just because he felt like touching his friend. "Seriously, lay it on me."
"No, it's okay," Sam insisted, looking Puck in the eye for half a second before he looked away again and laced their fingers together. "I'm just a little bored is all. Who knew you and Kurt would have something in common, huh?"
"Yeah," Puck agreed carefully. He took a long moment to really look at Sam, who fidgeted under his gaze, still looking away. Was that a blush creeping up Sam's neck? "Wait, are you jealous?"
"No!" Sam insisted, though his blush got even worse. "I mean … I guess not. I just—" Sam sighed. "This trip was about the two of us, wasn't it? I know I practically begged you to let Kurt come, but..."
Puck nodded for a moment and squeezed Sam's hand before saying, "L.A.'s about the two of us, man. This trip is just Point A to Point B."
A slow smile spreading across his face, Sam looked over at Puck and asked, "Yeah?"
"Yeah, dude," Puck agreed, running his thumb back and forth over Sam's instead of ballsing up and kissing him. "C'mon. Let's go get Elton Ford before he jizzes all over one of the antiques."
Sam laughed and punched Puck's arm, saying, "Gross, dude!" Then he got out of the convertible and nodded for Puck to lead the way.
"Here it is, boys," Kurt said from the driver's seat. "The Grand Canyon!"
Puck looked out his window and shook Sam awake from where he was leaning against Puck's shoulder. They'd been driving for an hour since leaving their last motel and Puck was pretty sure Sam hadn't even woke up when they ushered him out to the truck. "Look, dude. That is a big-ass crack."
Sam snorted, but otherwise kept his comments to himself until the road turned away from the canyon and behind some rocks. Some of the sleep left Sam's voice as he yawned and then asked, "So what are we gonna do here? Climb down into the canyon? Throw shit off the side? Oh, can we go see the Hoover Dam?"
"All those things," Puck agreed, reaching up and wiping away some of the dried drool on Sam's face with his thumb. "Whatever you want, dude."
Heaving a giant-ass sigh that Puck thought was totally unnecessary, Kurt said, "We can't do all those things. We've got reservations in Las Vegas tomorrow night and it's at least six hours away."
"Dude, that dam thing is totally on the way to Las Vegas. We can do shit here today, do whatever that is in the morning, and be to Vegas in time for the sweet buffets!"
"I think the buffets are always open," Sam said, frowning when both Kurt and Puck glared at him. "What? All I'm saying is that it doesn't matter when we get to Vegas!"
Kurt clenched his jaw and kept driving until they reached some sort of information center, where he pulled the truck into one of those double-long parking spaces for RVs and buses and boats and trailers and shit. He got out without a word and left Puck and Sam in the truck as he stomped toward the center in his tight-ass short pants.
"Dude," Sam said on Puck's right, "quit checking out Kurt's ass."
Puck screwed up his brows in confusion and maybe a little guilt, and turned to look at Sam. "I was just wondering what crawled up there and died. I wasn't checking him out."
Sam shrugged like he didn't believe Puck but he wasn't going to argue.
"Why? Are you still jealous?" asked Puck, putting his hand on Sam's thigh and leaning over to kiss his jaw. Sam smelled great, and Puck couldn't help but lean in again and kiss Sam's neck this time.
Sam groaned, "Puck!"
"Yeah, babe?" Puck kissed near the base of Sam's neck, adding in a little bit of tongue. God, his skin tasted good, all salty and sweet and a little musky since Sam hadn't showered that morning. Puck kissed Sam's throat next and let his hand wander up toward his crotch.
Grabbing Puck's wrist tightly and pulling his hand away, Sam asked, "What the hell do you think you're doing?"
"I think," Puck replied, twisting his wrist in Sam's grip and really liking the way it stung, "that this is the first time we've been alone for more than two minutes this whole week."
"Yeah, but we're not exactly alone, are we?" Sam said, grabbing Puck's other hand when he tried to reach for him. He nodded out the windshield to the group of tourists walking by. One of them looked over, so Sam slammed Puck's arms against the seat above his head. "See? Not gonna happen."
Puck knew Sam was trying to get him to back off, but he was hovering so close above him that Puck could feel Sam's body heat. Not to mention the fact that having his hands held down always did a little something for him. Ignoring Sam's argument (the Puckmeister excelled at seduction), Puck arched upward and kissed Sam fervently, pressing their chests together.
Sam groaned into the kiss and let his hips drop down, giving Puck the room to arch his hips up against Sam (which was technically the furthest they'd gotten, base-wise), then the driver's door just behind him opened.
"Oh, my god!"
Kurt slammed the door after his exclamation, and Sam scrambled up and out the door after him, leaving Puck disoriented and confused about what the fuck had just happened.
"Kurt!" Sam cried as he ran after his friend, very glad he was wearing loose cargo shorts that hid the state he was in. "Kurt, wait!"
Kurt kept walking, arms straight down at his sides and fists clenched, until he was in the shade of the information building. He sat down heavily on one end of the bench that was there. An older Asian-looking woman wearing a bright pink Disneyland visor sat on the other end. As Kurt crossed his legs and folded his hands between them, Sam decided he'd rather crouch on the ground than try to squeeze onto the bench between those two.
Before Sam could say anything, though, Kurt began speaking. Tears welling in his eyes, he said, "I should have known I never had a chance. I mean, I saw something this week, I just thought, maybe, you were really close best friends and I just hadn't noticed when it happened because of my NYADA audition and everything. I mean, you are moving out to L.A. together. That implies some level of intimacy."
"Sure?" Sam replied. He wasn't quite sure how Kurt had missed the fact that he and Puck had been spending a lot of their free time together. Even Mercedes had noticed.
"Why didn't you just tell me?" Kurt asked, looking over at Puck as he joined them.
Trying to ignore Puck hovering over his shoulder and the Disneyland woman giving all three of them a suspicious look, Sam replied, "I don't know. I mean, we're just figuring it out for ourselves and—"
"And it's none of your freaking business," Puck added, which earned him a glare from Sam.
Kurt scoffed. "It's not my business? It's not my business when two of my close friends—the friends I've been traveling with all week—are in a relationship?"
"Not when you'd go and text everyone you know!" Puck argued back and Sam felt himself pale. He hadn't even thought of that! What if it got back to his parents before he had a chance to tell them he wasn't dating a girl this time around? They'd be so angry for keeping things from them. And yet he wasn't ready to tell them. What if this thing with Puck was just a phase or something? What if they got to L.A. and decided they'd rather just be friends? Sam didn't want to bother his family about that.
While Sam thought about the implications of Puck's accusation, Kurt's mouth had fallen open. "I would never out someone like that!" he cried. "That you could even think that of me..." Kurt scoffed and then looked past them at the throng of tourists. "You never wanted me to come with you, did you?"
"Of course we—" Sam began, but Puck cut him off.
"Hell no. You've been cockblocking us this whole time. Every second I think I've got my boy alone, you show up out of nowhere feeling fucking sorry for yourself just because you didn't get into some lame-ass school. It's getting a little old."
Kurt made a noise of disgust as he stood up and cried, "Well, at least I can think about more than sex at every waking moment! Like the fact that my life is over? The only thing I have going for me is a trip across country with two guys who think they're going to start a pool cleaning business right out of high school, which everyone knows is just going to fail."
Sam stood up, feeling like he'd just jumped in a pool of ice water. This couldn't be happening! "Why would you say something like that?" he asked, putting a hand on Puck's chest to hold him back, since he really looked about two seconds away from punching Kurt. "And even if it doesn't go as well as we hope, shouldn't we at least try? Why would you get down on us for trying?"
"Because it's pointless," Kurt spat, stomping past them, toward the truck. Sam let Puck follow, but kept between him and Kurt just in case. "You try and you try," Kurt said as he reached the truck and held out his hand, obviously wanting the keys, since he grabbed the trailer padlock. "You try your damn heart out and all it gets you is failure and disappointment. We were stupid to think we could ever leave Lima for long."
Puck made another move and Sam was afraid the violence was about to start, but then he realized Puck was just pulling his keys out of his pocket and holding them out to Kurt. "Well, at least we're giving it a fucking shot."
Kurt snatched the keys and quickly found the one for the trailer, cursing his shaking hands as he unlocked it. He knew he shouldn't criticize Puck and Sam for following their "dream," but he just couldn't pretend any longer that he thought it was a good idea. Not when all the hopes and dreams he'd been clinging to not only the last year, but the last few days, had dissolved into smoke.
He pulled his bags out of the trailer and loaded himself up with all of them, clucking at Sam when he tried to help.
"What are you doing?" Sam asked.
As Kurt returned the keys to Puck, he drawled, "Do you want to tell him, or should I?"
"He's bailing on us," Puck said, holding Kurt's gaze for a moment before looking away. Kurt swore he saw a hint of disappointment on Puck's face, but knowing how obsessed Puck was with the travel budget, he was probably just lamenting the loss of all that gas money.
Sam, unsurprisingly, looked shocked. "You can't!" he cried, moving around to block Kurt's path back to the information center. "How're you gonna get anywhere from here?"
Pointing toward the building, Kurt said, "I can buy a bus ticket from here to Flagstaff. I saw it on a sign."
Sam shook his head, even as Puck was pulling him out of the way. "But you can't!"
Kurt frowned and tried not to wince at how high-pitched his voice got when he barked, "Yes I can! I know very well when I'm not wanted, Samuel! You and Puck go have your fantastic gay adventure out in California together. I'm sure I'll see you permanently back in Lima before Christmas!!"
"Fuck you, Kurt!" Puck called after him when Kurt's back was turned. "We're getting in the truck and leaving! You're never gonna see us again!"
"Fine by me!" Kurt called over his shoulder, stomping into the building and over to a bench, where he sat down heavily. He tried to hold the tears back, he really did, but soon enough he was sobbing almost uncontrollably. What the hell was he thinking, even coming on this trip in the first place? He didn't belong in L.A. He couldn't. There was too much sun and not enough theater and everyone drove everywhere.
Kurt belonged in New York! Not in L.A. with stupid boys who would rather kiss each other than kiss him.
It wasn't that Puck couldn't believe Kurt had abandoned them. People had been abandoning him his whole life. Puck wasn't even surprised that Kurt had done it after finding out that he and Sam were macking on each other. What surprised Puck was the fact that Kurt hated them so much, he didn't even ask for help with his ridiculous luggage.
That fucking stung.
"C'mon," he said, grabbing Sam by the hand and pulling him a few feet toward the truck before letting go so he could lock up the trailer. It was bad enough having Kurt abandon them; Puck didn't want to lose his damn boxers, too. When he looked back up and Sam was still staring at the tourist building, this dumb-ass bewildered look on his face, Puck got all up in Sam's face. "We're leaving, man. Come on!"
"But Kurt's all alone in there!" Sam said. Puck was half afraid that Sam was about to fucking leave him too, but he put a hand on Puck's shoulder and said, "We can't just leave, can we?"
"Sure as fuck we can," Puck replied, steering Sam by the shoulders around to the passenger side of the truck and shoving him in. Sam didn't resist, but he didn't seem happy about the situation either. "You heard what he said. He thinks we're dumb fucks, dreaming about a better life where we make our own way and don't just wait around for everything to fall into place because we're precious fucking snowflakes. We don't need that shit."
Sam shook his head, but didn't protest when Puck started the engine and drove out of the parking lot. "Why was he so mean? Does he really hate the thought that I got to you first that much?"
Puck shrugged and said, "You didn't know him before glee. He used to have the sharpest tongue. I mean, half the reason the jocks used to slushie him so often was because he used to insult the crap out of us at every opportunity." Then Puck realized what Sam had meant by "got to you first." "Dude, Kurt's been trying to get with you this whole time. Not me."
"Like, really Kurt's a bitch or really Kurt's in love with you?" Puck asked, pulling into traffic.
"The-the second one," Sam insisted with a slight stutter. "I could have sworn he was making goo-goo eyes at you."
Puck looked over at Sam like he was crazy, because the dude was clearly delusional. Puck hadn't noticed anything besides Kurt either being in the room when Puck wanted to mack on his boy, or giving Sam these long, soulful looks, like he was the answer to all Kurt's problems.
Okay, and maybe Puck had also sort of noticed that Kurt was funny and pretty and had a nice ass and those fucking eyes, but that was beside the point. Ever since falling in love with Lauren, Puck suddenly got why people were all hot for exclusive relationships, why jealousy was such a big thing. And Puck was jealous as fuck over Sam, who wasn't just his funny best friend, but an awesome make-out partner with lips that wouldn't quit and a sick body. Kurt couldn't have him. Not now. Not ever, if Puck had his way. So yeah, they left Kurt behind. Boo-fucking-hoo.
"He wanted to leave," Puck finally replied, debating with himself over whether he should honk at the slow-ass RV in front of them to pull the fuck over already. "We're just giving him what he wanted."
"Are we, though?" Sam crossed his arms over his chest and Puck tried really hard to ignore the way it made Sam's biceps look freaking hot. "'Cause it kinda feels like we're leaving him high and dry."
"He's the one who took all his stuff and abandoned us," Puck shot back. God, he wished this stupid motherfucking RV would just pull the fuck over already!
"But..." Sam said, laying a hand on Puck's arm and making him notice that he was white-knuckling the wheel. "What if the bus to Flagstaff is full? What if there's nowhere for him to sleep and no one to call and he has to camp out until morning?"
Puck blanched. If Kurt Hummel knew the first thing about camping, Puck was Mother Theresa. "He's gonna freeze to death. The desert gets fucking cold at night!"
"I didn't even think about that!" Sam cried, his eyes wide with panic. "I was just worried about him having to sleep on the ground. Oh, god! What if he gets robbed?"
Puck shook his head. Kurt fucking sucked. He'd abandoned them because he couldn't get over the fact that some things were personal, even from your friends. But that didn't mean he deserved to get hurt, or even die! Puck made an executive decision.
Making a somewhat-less-than-safe U-turn, Puck said, "We're going back for him. If he wants a ride to the Las Vegas airport, fine. That's what we'll do, but he's getting in the damn truck."
Sam sighed heavily and slumped back into his seat, one of his hands landing palm up between them. "Okay. Good. This is good."
Puck took Sam's hand in his and nodded. "It's good."
Kurt knew he had to buy a bus ticket before it was too late and they were all booked up for the day. He knew it. He just couldn't quite make himself do it. Everything got so screwed up so quickly. How could he have said those things to his friends? Friends who had been good enough to let him come with them on their trip, even though it was apparent now that it was meant to be a romantic trip.
One bed that first night, after all. Confirmed gay, according to an enlightening conversation Kurt had with Finn before Finn decided to join the army.
Kurt was so stupid. No wonder NYADA rejected him. Sure, he could sing and dance, but he knew next to nothing about what a burgeoning relationship looked like. All the information he had was gleaned either from romance movies or his relationship with Blaine. And to be honest? The way his relationship with Blaine had begun was more than a little confusing.
He hadn't even known Mercedes and Sam were thinking about getting back together until Mercedes told him outright. He wondered if ultimately they didn't work out because Sam was gay. And here Kurt had spent the past two years thinking his gaydar was completely broken. Well, it wasn't like he'd seen whatever was going on with Puckerman.
Kurt didn't want to go to Flagstaff. He didn't want to go home. He'd just wanted to get the hell away from Sam and Puck. Maybe he was barking up the wrong continent. Paris. That's where he would go.
Just as soon as he saved up enough money for the transatlantic flight and a few weeks room and board until he found a job. As far as plans went, running away to Paris wasn't the worst idea, was it?
Oh, who was Kurt kidding? It was totally the worst idea ever. He was going to be stuck in Lima forever, probably die in obscurity doing community theater. He wanted to vomit at the thought.
Maybe he should just walk out into the desert until he succombed to the elements. The landscape was beautiful, and it had to be better than several other ways he could think of to die. It would certainly be dramatic.
Kurt sat outside the visitor's center, still thinking about what he was going to do, when he heard the rumble of a familiar engine. Puck's truck. Kurt looked up, but he refused to appear happy with the fact that his friends had returned for him.
Wait, they had returned for him, right?
No, he didn't care. Not at all. They could both rot in hell.
The truck stopped right in front of him, Puck in the driver's seat and Sam hopping down out of the passenger side and coming straight for Kurt. "Hey," Sam said warily. "I'm glad you haven't left yet."
"It's been forty-five minutes, Evans," Kurt scoffed, looking away and wishing he could find his sunglasses so they could help him keep his poker face. "The bus doesn't leave for another three hours."
Kurt had no idea when the next bus left.
"Oh," Sam nodded, sitting down beside Kurt. He jerked his chin toward Puck, who turned away as soon as Kurt looked up at him, like he didn't want to be caught watching. "We figured we'd at least make sure you didn't have to spend the night here."
Chin to his chest and picking at his nails, Kurt replied, "Oh. That was thoughtful of you. Your idea, I suppose?"
That surprised Kurt, and he looked up at Puck, again catching him watching. It wasn't really that hard to believe that Puck cared what happened to him. He'd grown up a lot since being the bully Kurt had first encountered. In fact, he seemed to take on the role of protector for the glee club more often than not. Was that what he was doing now? Protecting Kurt out of some sense of duty? "Oh."
After a silent few seconds, Sam turned more toward Kurt and said, "Come on. Why don't you at least come to Vegas with us? We'll have one more cool day, and then we'll take you to the airport, and you can go back home, and we can forget this fight ever happened."
It sounded like a good idea to Kurt, but his pride kept him from agreeing immediately. "Can I ask some questions first?"
Sam's brows shot up in surprise. He opened and closed his mouth a couple times before nodding. "Sure."
Kurt decided to start out with the question that had been bothering him the most. "How long have you and Puck been dating?"
Sam shrugged. "I don't really know. I mean, we made out once, like two weeks ago. We've sort of been something since then."
"But, you've been talking about this trip since before you and Mercedes broke up," Kurt pointed out. "Were you stepping out on my girl?"
Even though Kurt's tone was indignant, Sam laughed. "No, man! No! It happened after we broke up, I swear. This trip was beside the point. The night we kissed, Puck was helping me get over her."
Kurt raised an eyebrow and quipped, "Is that what they call it these days?"
Sam laughed again, blushing, and clapped a hand on Kurt's shoulder. "So you satisfied? You'll get back in the truck?"
Kurt hesitated. He did want to go with them. He didn't want to travel alone. He didn't want to be alone, but he didn't want to be a third wheel, either. Sam and Puck were a couple now and Kurt had no chance with either of them, but, it was just a day or two, right? "I call the window seat."
"Alright!" Sam crowed, sending a thumbs-up over to Puck, who nodded and got out of the truck to open the trailer.
As Puck helped Kurt finish loading his things, after Sam had jumped into the cab of the truck, Puck growled, "My idea isn't stupid. And even if it is, Sam and I ain't limping back to Lima with our fucking tails between our legs."
Kurt murmured, "I know," and put a hand on Puck's arm in apology. "I'm sorry I said that. I'm sure you'll do splendidly."
A slow smile spread across Puck's face as he locked up the trailer, and Kurt was sure he wasn't supposed to have seen it, because when he and Puck got into the cab of the truck from opposite sides, that smile was gone.
"Okay, bitches," Puck leered. "Grand Canyon. Let's burn this mother down!"
"So, Vegas," Sam said as they arrived. Again, he sat between Puck, who was in the driver's seat, and Kurt, who'd been staring out the window all day. The night before, in the desert motel halfway between the fateful visitor's center and the Hoover Dam, had been tense, but it helped that Kurt had given Sam and Puck a good hour and a half alone in the hotel room. Sam shivered at the memory of making out with Puck and grinding together in their underwear until they both came. He sort of wished there'd been more, but he'd realized that he wasn't ready for it. Not yet. Sometime soon, though.
As they pulled toward the Strip, which Sam thought was an awesome name for a road, he finished his thought by asking Kurt, "We don't have to go to the airport right away, do we?"
Kurt looked up, his eyes wide. "No! I mean, no we don't have to. I mean, we're so close to L.A., anyway. I might as well come with, right?"
"Right." Sam nodded before looking over at Puck. "We only reserved one room for tonight."
"It's cool," Puck insisted with a disinterested sniff. "I mean, it's Vegas. We'll probably just stuff ourselves on buffet food, get wasted, and lose a few bucks on blackjack before passing out at dawn."
"But how are we going to do that?" Sam asked as Puck pulled into the driveway of their hotel, someplace with these really awesome replicas of New York landmarks. Sam lowered his voice, even though it was just the three of them in the still-closed truck, "We're all underage."
"I got it covered," Puck grinned, but then he looked past Sam and his face fell. "Well, I got it covered for me and Sammy. Sorry, bro."
Kurt leaned forward so he could see Puck (making Sam feel very stuck in the middle, which was giving him ideas he'd really rather not have about his close friend, thank you very much) and asked, "What do you mean by 'covered'?"
"I got, like, super-legit fakes for me and Sam. I mean, this place doesn't even let you check in if you're under 21. I guess we could bring you drinks and shi—"
"I've got a fake ID," Kurt cut in, making Sam whip his head around to look at him in surprise.
"You have a fake ID?" Sam asked. "I never would have guessed."
Puck agreed. "Yeah, I always thought you were this big goodie-two-shoes, Hummel."
Kurt sniffed and said, "Blaine and I used to go dancing at Scandals. You know, Lima's only gay bar."
Surprisingly, it worked. Even though Kurt's fake ID was really bad, they got into the casino. A few drinks in, a few hands of blackjack and rounds of roulette, and it was like the fight never happened. Sam ran out of gambling money within half an hour (he only had thirty bucks to spare and spent most of it on a few hands of five-dollar poker), but then Kurt loaned him a cup of quarters for the slot machines, and he got like three limes in a row. He only won twenty bucks, but twenty bucks in quarters was a shit-ton of quarters and it felt like winning a million.
"Bye, bye Miss American Pie!" Puck half-sang, half-shouted as leaned heavily on Kurt. Puck knew they were walking somewhere, but he wasn't sure where. There'd been lots and lots of free drinks on the casino floor. "Drove my Chevy to the—"
"Dude," Sam cut in. "Dude, dude, dude. Dude. Sheila's a Ford."
"What the fuck?"
"Oooh!" Kurt cried, pulling Puck with him to the side of the walkway. "Couture! I can't believe these shops are still open! It's the middle of the night!"
"It's like, nine-thirty, dude," Puck insisted, surprised he could still focus on the fancy clock attached to the building.
"Still!" Kurt sighed, pouting at a display of boots in the window. "Someday, when I become rich and famous, I'll be able to buy anything I want, including those gorgeous Pradas."
Sam shouted all of a sudden and grabbed one of Puck's hands and one of Kurt's, pulling them around the corner, "It's that crazy wax museum!"
"Madame Tussauds! Come on!"
Puck wasn't quite steady on his feet, so they were at the ticket window before Puck thought to ask, "Do we have enough money for this shit?"
"Relax, Puck," Kurt replied, patting the arm that still rested on his shoulders. "I won 120 dollars playing blackjack. This is on me."
"Thanks, Kurt!" Sam kissed Kurt on the cheek, which Puck thought was hilarious because who the heck kisses a dude on the cheek? His boyfriend was hilarious.
Giggling, Puck parroted Sam. "Thanks, Kurt." He tried kissing Kurt on his cheek, but sort of missed and ended up kissing under his jaw instead.
Kurt shied away a little, giving Puck a surprised look, which Puck completely didn't understand, because he was just being grateful for the ticket. Before either of them could say anything, Sam pulled Puck's arm across his shoulders instead and said, "C'mon. I wanna go hit on Angelina Jolie."
The whole Kurt thing forgotten, Puck let Sam lead him wherever, saying, "Dude, we're moving to L.A. What if we run into the real Angelina Jolie? We should bone up on our flirting skills here, that way she won't be able to resist when we do it in person."
"Wait, like you and me and Angelina?" Sam asked with a little bit of a groan. "How does that work?"
Picturing the scene very clearly in his head, Puck nipped at Sam's ear and murmured, "If you can't figure out how that threesome would work, we gotta work on your sexual imagination, Sammy boy."
"My imagination works just fine, thank you," Sam whispered back with this stupid, cute grin that Puck couldn't help but kiss, capturing those big lips in his own. Sam responded right away, practically climbing Puck, even though he definitely wasn't the steadier of the two.
"Okay, okay," Kurt said from beside them. "Break it up before we get kicked out of here, you guys!"
"Shit." Puck had forgotten they were in public. Up ahead he saw the first wax figure and suddenly sucking Sam's face off wasn't his first priority. "Dude, that's so freaking cool!"
Twenty minutes later, Puck saw Simon Cowell sitting on a sofa. He wasn't sure what Simon was doing in Vegas, but decided that he had to give that fucker a piece of his mind. "Hey, asshole," Puck said, leaning down to get in his smug fucking face. "Chris Daughtry was robbed!" He stared into the man's eyes, unblinking so Simon would know he was dead serious and not above kicking some ass. Except Simon wasn't blinking either. "Blink, you bastard!"
"Noah," Kurt said, running a hand up Puck's back and putting a gentle hand on his shoulder. "That's one of the wax figures."
Puck looked up at Kurt, then back at Simon and noticed that Kurt was right. Breaking into guffaws of laughter that wouldn't let him fucking breathe, Puck explained, "He looks … just like … on TV! Sad … fucking state of … affairs when you can't tell … the fucking difference!"
A smile spread across Kurt's face until he barked a loud laugh and fell against Puck, giggling into his shoulder. Puck pulled Kurt close with one arm and decided that that this was way better than Kurt being a morose bitch. Maybe he'd have to get the kid drunk more often.
"I think," Sam said, pulling away from Puck, which was totally not fair because Puck was just getting into the groove of things. And by groove of things, he meant humping Sam's leg into next week right here against the wall. "...that we have to stop."
"No way," Puck replied, holding onto Sam's waist so he couldn't get away.
"But Kurt's right there."
Puck wasn't sure why he hadn't noticed Kurt lying with his head hanging upside down off the bed, because he looked pretty ridiculous with his bow tie strapped around his head, one of his feet bare, and a straw stretching almost three feet from his fruity cocktail on the ground up to his mouth.
Smacking his lips around the straw, Kurt mumbled, "Kurt doesn't mind. Kurt really doesn't mind. You guys are hot."
Like ninety-percent sure that Kurt would be way more uptight if he wasn't wasted out of his mind, Puck smirked. He liked it when people thought he was hot, and no one could say his boy Sam wasn't smoking. Pushing Sam back up against the wall, Puck bit at his neck and shoulder, keeping his eyes on Kurt as best he could.
Fuck, okay. Maybe Puck liked the fact that Kurt was watching, that he was so entranced by the sight of them he flipped over so he wasn't upside down anymore. Kurt laced his fingers together in front of him and bit his thumb like he couldn't help it, which made Puck's dick twitch at the thought of those lips and that tongue elsewhere.
"I think he likes watching us," Sam whispered, which made Puck laugh.
"Yeah, babe. I think you're right." He looked over at Sam, trying to gauge how far he was willing to take this. Holding Sam's eyes with his, Puck brought his hands around to Sam's fly and popped the button. Maybe it was because they were all drunk, but Sam didn't protest. In fact, he groaned deep in his throat and let his eyes slide shut.
God, Puck loved that noise. He wanted to do anything he could to get Sam to keep making it. Dude, he bet a blowjob would totally do it. It couldn't be that difficult, right? Like, okay maybe Puck hadn't been on the receiving end of that many blowjobs, because Santana hated doing them (Jesus, he should have seen the lesbo thing coming) and the older women he'd banged just wanted to get to the banging, do not pass Go. Brittany, though. Brit was the best at blowjobs. Puck just had to remember what she'd done and this would be totally bitchin'.
He dropped down to his knees, not sure whether or not his fall had been too hard, because he was drunk and he could barely feel his face, much less his knees. Puck got Sam's pants down and looked up at him. Sam's eyes were still closed, and Puck didn't want to get punched for surprising him, so he said, "Babe? I'm gonna suck you, okay?"
Sam opened his eyes slightly, meeting Puck's, and groaned as he nodded eagerly. "Yes. Puck, yeah. God!"
So Puck just got to it. He pulled out Sam's cock, which he'd seen in the showers but not up close and hard, and decided he wanted it. Sam's cock felt hot and heavy in Puck's hand, and his crotch smelled musky, but mostly just like Sam and Sam's sweat. Leaning forward, Puck licked at one side of Sam's dick from mid-shaft up to the head. He tasted salty and tangy, with a hint of bitter and it was totally different from going down on a chick, but Puck figured if Sam kept making those awesome noises, Puck could be just as into this.
He licked Sam a few times before deciding that as awesome as this felt for Sam, being surrounded by a hot mouth felt even better. So, hands braced on Sam's hips, Puck sucked Sam's cock into his mouth.
Only instead of Sam making one of those porn-worthy groans, he yelped, "Ow!"
"What?" Puck asked as he jumped back. He'd never had a sex partner say, "Ow," before. Well, except for that one time he and Santana were doing it in her car and he accidentally fucked her so hard she hit her head on the window.
"Teeth, dude," Sam complained, gasping a little as Puck gave his cock an apologetic caress. Well, maybe he'd meant it to be a caress, but he was drunk enough that it probably turned into something else.
"Sorry!" Puck cried, leaning his head against Sam's thigh. Was it weird to miss the feel of a cock in your mouth? It was, wasn't it? Looking up at Sam, Puck asked, "Can I keep going? I promise no teeth this time."
Before Sam could answer, Kurt kneeled down next to Puck and told him, "You're hopeless. Teeth, Puck? How could that ever be a good idea?"
"I didn't mean t—" Puck started to say, but Kurt cut him off.
Grabbing Sam's cock in one hand, Kurt said, "Here, watch me." And then he just went to town on that dick, making Sam groan and his knees falter as Kurt licked and jerked and sucked all at the same time.
"Dude!" Puck protested, because that was his boyfriend Kurt was sucking off, like, really fucking well. "Dude, how are you doing that?"
Kurt actually grinned around Sam's cock as he looked Puck in the eye and replied, "Practice." Then he went right back to it.
Above them, Sam coughed and said, "Um, god, Kurt … like, shit, maybe this isn't—oh, sweet Jesus—guys?"
"Shush," Kurt said to Sam, giving him one last lick before turning to Puck. "You wanna give it a try?"
Puck tried to get mad at Kurt for touching Sam, but what came out of his mouth instead was, "That was so fucking hot."
Sam whimpered. "Guys? Someone? A little help?"
Stroking Sam slowly, Kurt looked up and asked, "Getting close?"
"So close!" he breathed.
Then Kurt grabbed Puck's hand and put it on Sam's cock, which was really fucking wet with spit. "Just," he instructed, his hand moving over Puck's, "stroke him like this and lick a lot, especially around this ridge," Kurt's thumb brushed just under the head of Sam's cock, making the blond gurgle. "And if you feel up to it, cover your teeth with your lips and suck lightly."
Puck shook his head as the instructions settled into his inebriated brain and looked over at Kurt, shivering at the brush of skin over skin as he took his hand away. "Why are you doing this?"
"Because I couldn't stand to see you do it wrong," Kurt smirked, picking a piece of lint or confetti or something off Puck's shoulder. "And it feels awesome being able to teach the sex shark of McKinley High a thing or two about the subject."
Puck smiled at Kurt, wondering how it had taken him so long to see how awesome Kurt was. "That's cool. That you know how to do this, I mean."
Shrugging one shoulder, Kurt replied, "I kinda think Blaine and I would have been over a lot sooner if I hadn't learned."
Puck opened his mouth to ask how things with Blaine had ended, since he'd never gotten the whole story out of Kurt, but Sam sighed, "Guys? Someone? Anyone? Help!"
"Oh, right," Puck said, moving his hand again. "Sorry, babe."
"So fucking close..."
Putting his mouth back over Sam's dick, Puck tried to think about whether he wanted to spit or swallow or whatever, but before he could decide, Sam groaned, "Puck!" and he was swallowing jizz. It was kinda gross and kinda cool at the same time.
Kurt dreaded the moment he sobered up and started to feel guilty about what was easily the most hedonistic night of his life. He knew that his life wasn't going to have many moments where one of his friends would look at him and ask, in a post-orgasmic haze, "Will you help me suck off my boyfriend?"
Or who knew, maybe it would happen, but there was no way anyone's boyfriend could be hotter than a Noah Puckerman who willingly swallowed. Could. Not. Happen.
So Kurt looked at Sam, smiled, and said, "Sure. Why not?"
And then the two of them tugged on Kurt's clothes, offering to help him out, and Kurt felt so desperate for just some friction that he agreed. The way Puck looked at him when he came in their hands made Kurt feel special, cherished, loved, and beautiful. Kurt fell asleep before he could tell himself that it wasn't real.
When Kurt woke up the next morning to a phone ringing he was pinned down by a sweaty arm covered in blond hair, his head felt like it was splitting in two, his mouth felt like a family of cotton balls had moved in, and the skin on his stomach pulled, covered in something crusty. Someone, Puck he thought, answered the phone.
"Shit, um, yeah. We're checking out... But—! Fine, whatever. We'll be out ASAP." There was a bit of shuffling from Puck's side of the bed and Kurt turned over as Puck said, "C'mon, dudes. We gotta go. Time's up."
Kurt wondered if Puck was just being literal, that it was time to vacate their hotel room, or if he was also saying it was time for Kurt to get the hell out of his and Sam's relationship. It felt like there were a few blank spots in his night—getting from the last casino to the hotel, for one—but Kurt remembered every second of going to bed with Sam and Puck. It was the single craziest thing he'd ever done. and he hoped like hell he wouldn't end up regretting it.
But Kurt knew, he knew that it was a limited time offer, so he got out of bed, grabbed his things, and locked himself in the bathroom without a word. He knew they had to leave post haste, but the very least everyone could give him was a moment to wash the previous night from his skin and pull his composure together.
Ten minutes later, he left the bathroom, dressed and with his head held high. Puck wasn't there and neither was the cooler, while Sam was shoving things into his bag. When he saw Kurt, he looked up and breathed, "Hey."
"Hey," Kurt replied with a tentative smile.
Sam opened his mouth a few times before finally saying, "About last n—"
"Don't," Kurt cut him off with what he hoped was a kind smile. "It's over now. That's fine; it was fun while it lasted. I just want to go to L.A., meet up with Mercedes, and figure out the rest of my life. I don't want to ruin this thing between you and Puck."
Sam nodded. "Yeah, okay. Thanks, man."
Even if some part of Kurt had been hoping that Sam wouldn't accept being brushed off so easily, he clamped down on that feeling and pushed it away. Sam was Puck's and Puck was Sam's and Kurt was only in the way. "Let's go."
Kurt walked out of the room before Sam could even think about arguing.
Sam decided halfway between Las Vegas and L.A. that enough was enough. It was like all the goodwill and camaraderie of the night before had been erased by the morning light. It sucked.
He'd thought that maybe everything that had been said was water under the bridge and that the sex the night before might have meant something to someone else as well as to him. It had only been the second time he'd been more intimate with someone than making out and it was with two someones that he cared deeply about. Puck was Sam's best friend, business partner, and boyfriend. Kurt was his good friend, the one who'd known something was wrong when his family's house had just been foreclosed on. Sam felt privileged to have been with either of them.
But both? At the same time?
It still boggled his mind. And maybe Sam's feelings about the whole thing were unrealistic and selfish and wrong, but he didn't want to get to L.A. and have to watch Kurt meet new people and start dating again. On the other hand, there was no way he'd give up Puck. Puck gave Sam feelings like every girlfriend Sam had ever had, but times ten because Puck secretly liked most of the silly stuff Sam was into. And on the other hand, there was always something so mesmerizing and compelling about everything Kurt said and did that Sam couldn't imagine giving Kurt up either.
So, dilemma. Wrapped in awkwardness. On Sam's left, Puck sat in the driver's seat, his knuckles, if not white, then lighter colored than usual. On Sam's left, Kurt sat with his chin in his hand, staring out the window. When Sam nudged at Kurt's leg with his knee, Kurt smiled for half a second before flinching away like he'd been burned.
Sam frowned in frustration. Again, this sucked and if no one else was going to fix it, then he sure as hell was.
Leaning toward Puck, Sam mumbled, "Stop at the next exit, hey?"
"Why?" Puck asked, looking at Sam with his eyebrows tilted in suspicion. "You gotta take a piss?"
Kurt scoffed and rolled his eyes, probably at Puck's language, but Sam had a feeling Kurt was being overdramatic about his disapproval on purpose. Sam scoffed right back and said, "Yeah, I gotta take a piss. Anyone have a problem with that?"
Sam did not, in fact, need to use the bathroom. He'd been too upset, his stomach filled with wriggling snakes of awkwardness and fear, to be able to stomach much to eat or drink. He should be feeling warm fuzzies and afterglow, not this damn it!
"No problem, babe," Puck replied, clamping a hand down on Sam's knee that felt possessive.
Jesus Christ. Oops. See, now Sam felt bad about taking the lord's name in vain, even if it was just in his head. Something had to change here, so as Puck drove toward the next exit and got off the freeway, pulling into a gas station parking lot, Sam formulated his words. He even went and took an unproductive piss to buy himself more time.
When he got back to the truck, Puck was just finishing gassing her up and Kurt leaned against the opposite side, looking at his phone. Sam wondered if the only reason he was playing with his phone was so he'd have a good reason not to talk to Puck.
Without a word, Sam leaned into the truck, took the keys from the ignition, and walked into the restaurant attached to the gas station. Up at the hostess stand, he told the lady, "Yeah, table for three, please?"
It took maybe two minutes for Puck to storm into the restaurant and loom over Sam, asking, "What the fuck are you doing?"
"I'm sitting here," Sam replied, "until we talk about this. Where's Kurt?"
"He's guarding the truck because we couldn't lock it." It looked like Puck wanted to call Sam a name, but was biting his tongue instead. Good. Sam didn't want to mess up what he had with Puck, but he had a feeling that if they couldn't even talk about what happened, then they were already boned. Puck held out his hand in a silent request for the keys.
Realizing that his stuff was in the truck, too, and they really didn't want it stolen (oh, shit and Sam had left it parked next to the pump, too), Sam handed over the keys. "I'm not leaving," he insisted.
Puck pursed his lips and stuck out his jaw, snatching the keys from Sam's hand and just standing there, glaring at Sam's hands for a moment. Finally he barked, "Fine! Fine. We'll fucking talk, but you're buying me waffles."
Sam sat tight and ordered a Mello Yello when the waitress came by, but it was almost ten minutes before Puck came back, dragging a sulking Kurt by his wrist. Sam didn't want to find the sight of his boyfriend's hands on someone else hot, but he totally did. And it reaffirmed everything he wanted to say.
"We're here," Puck said, nudging Kurt into the seat across from Sam and then sitting down next to Kurt. "So talk. Just wrap that motherfucking band-aid off and put me out of my misery."
Before he could speak, the waitress came by to take the others' drink orders and when she finally skedaddled, Sam asked, "What misery?" Puck's question totally confused him, which wasn't that hard to do, but usually Puck was really blunt about everything. It was something Sam really loved about him.
"I don't know why Kurt had to be here to see you break up with me. Unless, like, so you didn't have to tell the story again later when you're trying to get into his pants."
Kurt gave Puck a surprised look and Sam couldn't help but laugh. He put his hand over his mouth, trying to stop it and said, "I'm sorry, dude. I'm sorry. I'm not fucking breaking up with you!"
"So, what?" Kurt asked, while Puck glared at Sam and kicked him under the table. "Why are we here, in public, talking about last night?"
Sam shrugged. "So there's witnesses when one or both of you try to kill me for what I'm about to suggest?"
"I thought you said you weren't breaking up with me." Puck kicked Sam again, but Sam could tell it was more about the gesture than causing actual pain.
"I'm wondering if maybe, since Kurt's going to live in L.A. too, if we could make what happened last night an all-the-time sort of thing."
Kurt reached across the table and laid his hand on Sam's with a sad smile. "Sam... That's not… I mean, I want romance. I don't want to be someone's experiment. Or their reason for breaking up. I don't want to be anything but someone's one and only."
Puck nodded once before turning toward Kurt and asking, "You think me and my boy Sam can't be romantic? We'd be way more fucking romantic than Mr. Alpha Gay. I know. I wooed the fuck out of Lauren Zizes. I can romance anyone after that."
Sam grinned at Puck. "Are you saying what I think you're saying?"
"That threesomes are awesome? That's totally what I'm saying." Puck grinned back at Sam and Sam just about jumped over the table to kiss him right then and there. Just like always, it didn't take long for Puck to get onto the same wavelength as Sam. He'd always heard that it was better to be friends first, and then romantic partners, but Sam never really understood why on more than a philosophical level until that moment.
Kurt looked back and forth between the two of them and sighed. "Why do you have to be so adorable?"
Sam turned his hand over so that he could hold Kurt's hand in his and replied, "Because we were born this way, baby."
Kurt snorted a laugh and nodded before chewing his lip for a moment, his thumb tracing the outer edge of Sam's hand. After a moment, he took a sharp breath and said, "Ever since I can remember, I've wanted to be on Broadway. It's the whole reason I stepped out of the McKinley shadows and auditioned for glee club in the first place. It's the only reason I ever made friends. But I didn't get into NYADA. I probably never will, because I'm just not what they're looking for. I'm never going to Broadway."
"Kurt—" Puck began softly, but Kurt cut him off.
"And that's okay." He shrugged one shoulder. "Dreams change. Maybe being someone's one and only is the same thing. A dream that can change. I mean, it didn't work out so well with Blaine, who I thought was my one and only soulmate. Can I..."
After a moment of letting Kurt's words hang, waiting for him to continue, Sam asked, "Can you what?"
Kurt met Sam's eyes and then Puck's. "Can I make no promises? Can I just do what makes me happy in the moment? Just for now?"
That sounded good to Sam, so he smiled and nodded, but Puck asked, "Just to be clear, does that include sleeping with us?"
Kurt laughed and took one of Puck's hands, putting it on top of his and Sam's. "Sure. Besides, I have a feeling if I don't, one of you is going to end up in the hospital due to pure ignorance about how gay sex should be done."
Sam caught Puck's eyes, which widened and then squished together as Puck started laughing, which set off Sam's laughter as well. He watched with a grin as Puck pressed a quick kiss to Kurt's temple and said, "You're probably right, dude. You're probably right."
"So is all that romance crap off the table, or..." Puck asked as the waitress came back with Puck's chocolate milkshake and Kurt's iced tea.
"Hell, no!" Kurt smirked, letting go of Sam's hand so he could take a sip of his drink and open his menu. He looked at Sam over the top of it and added, "I may be having fun at this point in my life, but that doesn't mean I deserve anything less than the best. I'd think you boys would know what a healthy sense of self-respect I have."
"Oh, we know," Sam agreed, thinking about all the fancy lotions and soaps and creams and clothes Kurt had been carting around all week, not to mention the complaints about the food not being organic and the saturated fat content of Cheetos, all of which just made Sam that much more eager to convince Kurt that he should be with him and Puck all the time. Plus, the way his tongue curled around his straw made Sam extra sure that he wanted a romantic (well, sexual and if romance was required so be it) relationship with Kurt, too.
Sam saw the same fondness he was feeling on Puck's face as he put his arm around Kurt's shoulder, slumped down in his seat to set his foot next to Sam's hip on the opposite bench, and said, "We definitely know, babe. And I'm sure you won't let us forget it."