Nationals was coming up, so the group had to start practicing. They'd spent a lot of time with Sue perfecting their setlist and accompanying dances. This, of course, included round two of auditions.
The auditioning groups were Tina and Quinn; Lauren, Puck and Mercedes; Santana and Brittany; Finn, Sam and Artie. All were good, but the winners were Artie and Quinn and Finn, Sam and Artie. That meant a whole new round of groups would be performing at Nationals from Regionals.
In order to decide on songs, Sue suggested a battle to the death. Such an idea wasn't recieved very well, so they instead settled on listening to random playlists of Sue's approved songs. The ones they liked went into another playlist, then it would be narrowed down again and again until eventually, they had their choices.
Rehearsals now took place in the main hall, or the Hudmel residence when the Cheerios were practicing, and it was infinitely better than the choir room. They had so much space to choreograph new routines, all the while Sue shouted encouragements from the sidelines.
At the moment, the trio were rehearsing the first song 'Runaway Baby'. Sue wanted to open up their set with an upbeat song people could dance to. That way people would be hyped up for them and see their positive side, only to be later introduced to their sombre side with the duet. She actually had experience with major competitions, unlike Schue, so things became a lot easier for the group.
Their were no interruptions, no obnoxious remarks, no sudden arguments or intense bias. The only thing that ever ruined rehearsals was the fact Nationals was coming up. Their excitement would sometimes get in the way, Kurt randomly bursting into passionate speeches about the magic of New York. Don't worry, Santana would usually shut it down pretty quickly.
"That was nearly good enough to get 11th place." Sue claimed as the performance ended, shouting through her bullhorn. Sure, it sounded like an insult, but that was one of the nicest things a person like Sue could say to another person. "Good job."
Finn, Artie and Sam all high fived as the others breathed heavily, trying to regain their breath after such intense moves. It was worth it in the end because, my God, it looked amazing. But it was a hell of a lot of work and it was truly exhausting. After every run through they had to sit down for a minute or two just to regulate their breathing.
"One more run through and we're done." Tina smiled.
"One more week and we're in NYC!" Kurt cheered. "Oh my God I'm so excited, seriously-"
"We know, we know, you can talk about other things gay face." Santana teased as she threw a sweaty arm around Kurt's shoulders.
"We should let him off his leash now. I mean, it is only a week. That's sick, yo." Artie announced and everyone cheered.
"It actually is, I'm pretty excited." Quinn admitted.
"Sucks Rachel will be there, though." Finn muttered.
"Who cares? I wanna see the Empire tower." Brittany beamed.
"The Empire State Building?" Mercedes clarified, and Brittany shook her head in response. A mystery.
"Britt's right, we shouldn't focus on her." Sam agreed.
"Yeah, Nationals should be all about us." Mike nodded.
"And our awesomeness." Puck added as he flexed his biceps proudly.
"Awesomeness is not strong enough a word." Lauren stated. "I've only been with you for a few weeks and I gotta say, best club I'm in."
"Even with the slushy facials?"
"I won't lie, I like them. Refreshing."
"Lauren, we like you so much more than Rachel."
"Okay, nerds!" Sue blasted, getting all the attention back on her. "From the top!"
After rehearsals, the gang made their way to the Hudmel home. It was slowly becoming their main hang out spot, since Rachel and her new group took over the park out of spite and everyone else's parents would still be home. Burt and Carole would still be out for a while, so Kurt and Finn took advantage as they often did.
When they all arrived, the living room was immediately taken over and the xbox turned on for a mario kart marathon. Quinn always managed to come last while Kurt always came first, meaning it was really just a race for second place. Lauren and Santana were outrageously competitive and never failed to scream obscenities at each other during each match. Brittany just watched everything that went down as if it was the greatest form of entertainment she'd ever experienced. Maybe it was.
Actually, it almost certainly was, especially when Puck was involved. He was an animal at the game, but not in a good way. He got angry when someone beat him, borderlines depressed when he crashed and hysterically happy when he won. More than one of his glee teammates had suggested a strait jacket. All had agreed to such a suggestion.
Though they could hardly blame him for his aggression when it came to a game with Finn. Afterall, there was still some tension between the two over Kurt. Finding out your step brother is dating your best friend is a bit of a shock (especially when you're still dealing with some internalised homophobia, but you didn't hear that from me). Finding out your boyfriend's brother and your best friend is a stupid jerk is also quite the letdown. So yeah, excuse Puck if he screamed loud enough to shatter glass when he was beaten by Finn.
"You're worse than Berry when she didn't get a solo." Santana insulted when Puck slumped sadly in his seat, letting Kurt cuddle him in comfort.
"Shut up Lopez, I'm just passionate." Puck defended.
"Passionately stupid." Mike quipped, nearly overtaking first place. Not quite though.
"Pathetic." Kurt said as he won yet another round. "Anyone want to go again?"
Everyone groaned their objections as Sam threw a pillow at the xbox. Kurt took that as a no and instructed someone else to remove the disc, since he was still coiled around a disappointed Puck. Mercedes took it out and turned on the TV, which was playing that episode of 'Friends' where Joey likes pizza and Chandler makes a joke.
You know the one.
Despite a couple of haters, the lovers of the sitcom reigned victorious and it continued to play. Eventually everyone was enjoying it just as much as Santana and Brittany, who watched it together every weekend apparently. Cute.
"Who would you guys be?" Sam asked. "Which character? I'm totally Joey."
For a while nobody really paid any attention to him, and he kinda forgot about it too. Until Quinn finally realised what he said and slowly turned to face him with a raised eyebrow. She cocked her head to the side to get a better look and tutted.
"It's just..." She started. "You really are like Joey, it's strange."
"Yeah, everyone is, in some way, similar to at least one 'Friends' character. All of you guys are too." Sam elaborated, looking around the room and pointing at Brittany. "She's like Phoebe."
"Yes." Brittany agreed. "I like cats, magic and I can read all your minds."
"Okay, I see that." Santana nodded. "Who would I be?"
"Monica." Mike answered, getting a few confused looks in return. "What? She's controlling, competitive and easily angered."
"Remove the neat freak compulsions and yep, that's you, Santana." Kurt smiled and waited for his turn. He turned to look at Puck, who scanned his boyfriend up and down and calculated.
"You'd be Rachel." Puck laughed. "Green, obviously, not Berry."
"Agreed, you're materialistic, goofy and ambitious."
"Goofy? I am not goofy."
"Babe, it's a compliment." Puck assured, chuckling at the word slightly as Kurt flicked him on the ear as punishment.
"Yes well... You're Ross!" Kurt shot back. Everyone gasped as if offended and instantly went to defend Puck, but Kurt just scoffed and crossed his arms. "Come on! He gets angry, jealous, bit of a smartass but at his core he's just a sweetheart who has some walls up." Kurt grinned.
Puck's defensive scowl morphed into a flattered smile and he pulled Kurt in closer, smashing their lips together in the process. Finn looked away out of what he convinced himself was 'politness' before Artie smacked his arm in warning.
"Dude." Sam said. "You're reading way too much into 'Friends'."
"It's not like his description was far fetched, like, wouldn't you have some walls up if your wife was a lesbian?" Lauren inquired.
Sam's eyes widened. "I have a wife!?"
Before the group could really dig into that particular question, they heard the sound of the front door opening and feet padding in. They were home pretty early, which meant the others would probably have to leave soon too. Finn left the room to greet his mother and explain the situation.
A few of the New Directions had already stood up to leave, though some stayed in their seats as if making some kind of statement. Puck just didn't move because he was too comfortable wrapped up in Kurt's arms, and Santana didn't wanna leave because that meant she'd have to stop mocking the couple's PDA.
Burt was slightly surprised to see so many uninvited teenagers walk past him and flood out the front door, though he wasn't surprised when Finn explained it all. Of course the glee club was there again, they'd basically set up camp in the living room. Carole just asked if any of them wanted dinner, to which Finn obviously nodded vigorously. Even if the didn't want to eat, more food meant more to eat, Finn wouldn't object to that.
"Some didn't leave, who's still here?" Carole asked after a sixth group member waved goodbye and nobody else followed.
"Uh, Santana, Quinn, Tina and Puck." Finn informed.
"Oh, so the girl that took your virginity, the girl that cheated on you, the girl she's now dating and the guy that knocked her up, who is now tryna screw my son?" Burt scoffed. "What a fun little gang."
"Burt, be more accommodating, you remember how you were when you were their age." Carole scalded.
"Yeah, I do, which is why I know what they're thinking and it's all filth."
"I think they wanna stay round for the night." Finn stated, not really listening to anything previously said.
"Well, Santana brought them all here and she's too drunk to drive."
"She's drunk? She's underage!"
"She's hot so people buy her things."
"Oh my-" Burt looked at his wife in shock, but she just shrugged and smirked.
"She is quite attractive, honey." Carole said, which just made Burt drop his head into his hands as Finn went back to the living room. "I'm just kidding." She placed a hand on Burt's shoulder and chuckled at his reaction to such a minor gathering. "Come on, relax, let them stay."
"Let the sex fiend of Ohio stay the night in the same house as his new boyfriend?" Burt shook his head. "I don't think so." Carole sighed in disappointment. "No, don't sigh like that, I have every right to be skeptical."
"Noah's changed a lot since Beth."
"He's 17, he shouldn't have a daughter that can change him."
"Well he does and she did and Kurt likes him so just lighten up." Carole demanded. "Talk to him and you'll see. Trust your son." And with that, she gathered her things and moved up to her bedroom, ready to change out of her work clothes for the night.
Burt groaned and slumped against the kitchen counter. He heard a roar of laughter erupt from the living room and checked inside, just to make sure they weren't laughing at dead bodies or cocaine. Shut up, that's a totally reasonable concern.
Turned out, they were just laughing at the TV. They were watching 'Friends' and saying something about Quinn being Chandler. Honestly, Burt couldn't see it, but at least they were watching some wholesome family television and not hardcore pornography. Though he wouldn't put it past Santana or Puck... Or Tina, that girl seemed weirdly suggestive.
Speaking of which, she and Quinn were sat on the floor with a fork each, taking huge bites of Burt's pie. He wasn't too pleased about that. He also wasn't too pleased by Santana and Finn resting their feet on his newly crafted coffee table. He was least pleased, however, by the state his son was in.
Upon the couch, he and Puck were nestled together. Kurt's legs were thrown over his while Puck's arms were tightly wrapped around his smaller body. Their hands were all over each other and they seemed to be whispering in each other's ears. Not what Burt wanted to see.
If - and that was HUGE if - Puck was to be allowed to sleep round that night, Burt would have to make a few things very clear. He'd already had a talk or two to Kurt about relationships and sex, all of which made both parties uncomfortable. Now it was time for a new victim.
"Puckerman." Burt's voice boomed. Puck immediately looked up with fear in his eyes and nodded at his name. "I gotta talk to you."
"Dad." Kurt hissed. Burt simply brushed him off and gestured for Puck to follow him into the kitchen.
Obediently, Puck uncoiled himself from his boyfriend and walked into the adjoining room, closing the door when instructed. Great, now he was trapped in close quarters with a man who stared him down with what appeared to be homocidal rage.
"So, you're dating my kid?" Burt started, and Puck shyly nodded as he stood opposite the man. Kitchen island between them, gotta make sure there's a barrier. "You uh, you wanna tell me a bit about yourself. Other than the fact you're a pretty well known man about town who knocked up my step son's girlfriend."
"Mhm, yeah, that whole thing was like..." Puck gulped. "Bad."
"That's definitely one word for it."
"But I'm totally different now. And Kurt's different from the other girls, and Quinn."
"Well he's a dude, never been with one of those before so it's gotta mean something, come on." Puck explained. "Plus, I actually like him. A lot. He's perfect."
"Don't give me any crap." Burt leaned over the island and further intimidated Puck. Not necessary, he was already considering jumping out the window just to escape.
"I- I'm not." Puck defended shakily. "I like him. I'm not in this for anything like... You know... Sexual." He whispered the last word. Burt scowled, so Puck tried to make things better. "Not that he's not sexy!" That did not make things better. "He totally is." Digging his own grave here. "It's just like, I want more. I've never wanted more before."
"I find out you're lying to me, I'll hurt you. But if I find out you've upset him in any way at all, I'll do a hell of a lot worse that." Burt threatened. "Kurt's sensitive, he's a good kid, I don't want him to end up with someone who can't appreciate that."
"And I totally do." Puck nodded. "He's amazing."
"Okay..." Burt nodded back. "Okay." He sighed and leant back, letting Puck breathe a breath of relief. "Okay, you and the others can stay round the night if you need to." He pointed in Puck's direction when the kids face lit up. "No funny business."
"Of course not." Puck smiled.
"Good." Burt crossed his arms. "Because I still have my shotgun."
"That is awesome." Puck praised. Burt raised an eyebrow in questioning as Puck stepped forward. "What make you got?"
The overnight quests were all issued sleeping bags so they could sleep in the living room together, though they probably wouldn't get up to much sleeping. Their 'Friends' marathon was still going strong and their intermittent conversations were too. Plus, the sleeping bags didn't end up being of much use to many of them anyway.
Quinn discarded hers and slipped in with Tina, both sat upright in it to continue eating the stolen pie and watching the TV. Finn just cuddled up on the armchair with a huge, fluffy hoodie on for warmth. Santana, of course, made her claim on the couch and laid horizontally on it to ensure nobody tried to impeach upon her territory. She was covered by all the blankets she could locate in the house. There were a lot.
Kurt was sat on his sleeping bag on the floor with his back pressed against the couch. Santanta's legs sometimes pressed into the back of his head, but he would just give her a warning slap so she'd laugh and roll away. He was too busy worrying about Burt's little conversation with Puck to really worry about anything else anyway.
As the credits rolled for another 'Friends' episode, midnight was rolling around and Puck had officially been held captive in that kitchen for a full hour. It was starting to become a real concern when Puck finally came in, smile plastered on his face. He walked over to Kurt and sat beside him, wrapping an arm around his waist.
"Uh, hello?" Kurt asked as he stared at Puck. "You're in one piece."
"Yeah, I love your dad, he's such a badass." Puck beamed.
"Yes, he is."
"Plus, he totally loves me."
"Really?" Finn looked over at Puck and tsked. "No way."
"Yes way, we're like friends now."
"That's insane, you impressed the big man." Santana smirked. "I never expected you to be a people pleaser."
"What about his reputation made you think he didn't enjoy pleasing people?" Tina laughed.
"Maybe Burt just took pity on him." Quinn suggested.
"No, we just hit it off."
"It was bribery."
"What? Is it so hard to believe someone actually likes me?"
"Must've been a lot of money."
"Well I'm proud of you." Kurt smiled up at Puck, who smiled back. "It isn't often he actually likes people that don't sell him nice things and feed him."
Puck smiled even wider and leant down to press a kiss to Kurt's lips. It felt like he'd overcome such a huge hurdle. If he could get through meeting Burt Hummel and live to tell the tale, then Nationals was gonna be a breeze.