Lady Paperclip (paperclipbitch) wrote,
Lady Paperclip
paperclipbitch

"'Cause You've Got An Awfully Long Way To Go" [3a/3], Glee, Puck/Kurt

Title: ‘Cause You’ve Got An Awfully Long Way To Go [3/3]
Fandom: Glee[eeeeeeee]
Pairing: Puck/Kurt (Finn/Rachel) [other pairings implied/scattered]
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 14,000
Genre: Slash
Copyright: Title taken from Popular from Wicked.
Summary: When a guy doesn’t even want to beat you up anymore, that’s when you know you don’t stand a chance.
Author’s Notes: I’m going to be smug and say that I wrote the Quinn/Mercedes friendship before it became canon, back when I was writing this story in London because I was depressed and needed something to cheer me up. It was actually weirdly hard to let go of this story, since I’ve been writing it for about a month now, particularly when I had down and/or emotionally unstable moments, and I sort of never wanted to finish it! Hope the last part doesn’t fuck it all up (and I’m weirdly tempted to re-write this whole story from Puck’s POV one day... but I have actual essays to hand in first). Also, this story became 34,000 words at some point? Huh.

My eternal love and thanks to fakeplasticsnow, test_kard_girl and horopter for suggestions, reassurances and all-round fabulousness.

{part one} | {part two}



The next morning Kurt has lovely soft glowing skin but also a hangover, and Puck passes him in the corridor without even glancing at him once.

He wonders idly if Miss Pillsbury has a pamphlet entitled: Ten Steps To Stopping Repeatedly Crushing On Straight And Unattainable Jocks And Living A Much Happier Life As A Result.

If she doesn’t, someone should write one.

At glee that afternoon, Kurt calmly steals the lead for Rehab from under Rachel’s nose – because please, her fashion sense is nowhere near delicious enough for Rihanna – and rocks it hard because he’s had fucking enough of having hormones.

The only problem is that you was using me in a different way than I was using you, but now that I know it’s not meant to be – you’ve gotta go, I’ve gotta wean myself off of you...

He doesn’t look once at Puck while he sings because he doesn’t even know what he wants to see there, but he knows he won’t get it.

~

Pining after Finn was sort of fun, although it hurt in a poking-at-a-bruise kind of way. Pining after Puck is just plain depressing. It doesn’t feel sort of warm and hopeless and enjoyable, it just makes Kurt wander around thinking I hate my life most of the time. It is all very tragic. Also, it kind of makes Kurt feel a bit like he’s turning into Rachel, which is never ok.

What doesn’t help at all in the slightest is that, apart from the bit where Kurt has apparently decided that Puck has pretty eyes and very distracting arms, he just misses Puck’s company. Misses having conversations – even if they had to end in feigned disdain and staged physical attacks – misses having Puck smile at him once in a while. It had sort of felt there for a while like they were friends; weird, fucked-up friends, but friends nonetheless. Now, of course, Puck has got his best friend back, and he doesn’t need Kurt anymore. It couldn’t be more painfully obvious that Puck was just using him to get what he wanted if Puck banged his head repeatedly against a locker while yelling it. And the sad part about that, of course, is that Puck didn’t even pretend he was doing anything else. Kurt just let himself get distracted with the talking and the nose-breaking and the kissing and forgot all about what was actually going on. Now he’s thought that, of course, he can’t help but remember all the times when Puck’s smile didn’t ring quite true, where he seemed weirdly uncomfortable even while assuring Kurt that he was going to get him into Finn’s pants and, after some deep thinking that takes an entire biology class, Kurt comes to the conclusion that Puck is the same homophobic asshole he always was, he just got better at hiding it. Presumably to keep manipulating Kurt.

Kurt looks down at his notes for this class to find the only thing he’s written is: sweet Jesus I’m turning into a character from Grey’s Anatomy.

On the plus side, he’s getting along better with Finn than he ever has; he thinks it’s a combination of no longer feeling awkward on his side, and Finn now being super comfortable with his own sexuality, having experimented and realised that it definitely isn’t for him. Finn is finally looking happier; talking to both Quinn and Puck and being a lot less tortured and angry all the time, so at least something good came out of this whole mess.

The only thing really confusing Kurt is the way Puck has just stopped acknowledging him altogether. Prior to whatever made Puck decide joining glee was a sensible idea, he put Kurt in dumpsters and threw water (and worse) balloons at him and shouted fag at him in corridors and shoved him into lockers and locked him in closets and so forth. Now he’s acting like Kurt doesn’t even exist, like he’s not even worth bullying anymore. And that stings because, really, when a guy doesn’t even want to beat you up anymore, that’s when you know you don’t stand a chance. Kurt sort of wants to ask what he did wrong, but he’s afraid of the answer – or of not getting any answer at all – and so leaves it well alone.

“You’re coming to the movies tonight, right?” Finn asks, as they’re on their way out of glee practice one afternoon. It’s a group trip to see something Kurt is undoubtedly going to hate, but the main actor is pretty hot and he’s sure there will be enough lamentable wardrobe choices to keep him happy, so it’ll probably be ok.

“I am,” Kurt agrees with a smile. He’s giving Mercedes a ride – she’s still wary of being in cars with him since he nearly killed them that time, but since she doesn’t have a car of her own she doesn’t really have much choice – and in any case, she’s worried about his state of mind at the moment, not that she’s said anything. Still, staying at home would just make her try and stage some kind of intervention, and Kurt cannot have that. For one thing, she’d probably make him admit that he’s somehow accidentally decided to fall for Noah Freaking Puckerman and he hasn’t reached a point where he can say that out loud yet.

“Great.” Finn grins that sunny grin at him, claps him on the shoulder, and hurries off after Matt and Mike.

Kurt knows Puck is still sitting down, packing away his guitar, but he doesn’t turn around as he leaves because he’s not a masochist. And maybe if he keeps saying that enough times it might just about become true.

He realises he’s left his hat behind as he gets to the parking lot – Mr Schue’s dance routine was a bit too energetic and it kept falling off – and hurries back to reclaim it.

As he approaches the music room, he can hear singing coming from inside it. Soft, slow, male singing. He frowns, slowing down and unconsciously walking more lightly so his boots won’t sound on the hallway floor, creeping closer.

Kurt knows the song. Of course he knows the song. Wicked is, after all, his favourite musical, and the songs are practically imprinted on his soul. And he knows this song in particular because, maybe, occasionally, he may have shut himself in his room in the dark with it playing loudly on his ipod dock, though he didn’t cry along because he is, after all, still not Rachel.

Really, the more he looks at it, the whole no-longer-being-in-love-with-Finn thing actually gets better and better.


Anyway, maybe he just has some kind of internal Wicked satnav, maybe it’s just weird coincidence, but spilling from the room is: “Don’t dream too far, don’t lose sight of who you are...

And although Kurt has known for at least the last half-minute, something in him is still startled when he edges close enough to discover that Puck, of all people, is alone in the music room playing I’m Not That Girl on his guitar.

One of these days, he’s going to figure out how Puck manages to sing girl songs without sounding the slightest bit emasculated. It’s quite the skill.

Mostly, Kurt is just trying desperately not to melt at the combination of Puck and Wicked, because that way will just end in endless misery and his life is fail enough at the moment as it is. And part of him wants to walk in and find out what the hell Puck thinks he’s doing, but he swallows the urge down, choosing instead to stand and watch and try not to hyperventilate or wonder how the hell his life took this very strange turn.

Don’t wish; don’t start, wishing only wounds the heart...

Whoever Puck is trying to win back – whether it’s Quinn or Rachel or Santana or some other girl Kurt doesn’t even know about – he’s going to succeed. Kurt doesn’t see how anyone could even try to resist. And maybe that thought makes something break inside him, but he survived Finn and the whole ballad fiasco, so he can do this too. He can.

Puck finishes the song and Kurt must be breathing too loud or he must be standing a little too close to the door because Puck whirls around and sees him before he can hide. The expression on Puck’s face is momentarily very strange – a mixture of fear and vulnerability and something else Kurt can’t name – before it shuts down and there’s nothing but anger there.

Jesus, Hummel,” he spits, “stalk much?”

Kurt isn’t sure he’s ever seen Puck this angry; he looks like he’s really considering throwing his guitar or a chair or something at Kurt, raw and uncontrolled and Kurt doesn’t know how the hell they got to this moment, but he’d really appreciate it if someone stopped and exposited for a while. He wants to stammer that he’s just trying to reclaim his hat when he realises that maybe he doesn’t like that hat that much after all.

Well?” Puck demands, all flashing eyes and bared teeth, and part of Kurt is genuinely scared.

Part of him is angry back. “Don’t worry,” he spits, calm and cool, “the fag’s already gone.”

He takes off down the corridor as fast as he can without actually running. Behind him, he hears a crash, like the chair Puck was sitting on has fallen over, but he’s already rounded the corner by the time the halls ring with the yell of: “Kurt!” He doesn’t go back.

Kurt fakes a smile all evening so hard it hurts, but if asked, he wouldn’t be able to say a single damn thing about the movie.

~

Five things happen the next day:

1. The hockey team put Kurt in the dumpster.

2. By lunchtime, every single boy on the team has a black eye on the left hand side.

3. Puck misses glee practice because he’s being yelled at by half the adults working at the school, including Mr Schuester.

4. Kurt fakes a migraine and goes home early.


5. He no longer has any fucking idea what he’s supposed to think any more.

~

“Hey, Kurt,” Mr Schue says after the next glee practice – a fun-filled affair where Kurt doesn’t look anyone in the eye, Puck casually sexually harasses Santana until she punches him, and Tina and Artie spend equal amounts of time making out and bickering in whispers – “can I speak to you for a minute?”

Well, it’s not like the day can get much worse. “Sure,” Kurt shrugs, feeling everyone’s curious eyes on him as they trail out, presumably to continue arguing away from Mr Schuester and his you’ve-kicked-my-puppy expression that he gets every time they’re less than all smiles.

He studies his nails – his cuticles are a mess, a horrible mixture of stress and dumpster diving – and patiently waits for whatever bit of wisdom Mr Schue feels he needs to impart. He’s a nice guy, he’s a good teacher, and he’s got all their backs which is always good to know, but really, the amount of things he doesn’t see are just plain hilarious. Still, Kurt decides he’d better humour him as best he can, since Mr Schue’s wife faked being pregnant and stuff and that’s probably really depressing and psychologically disturbing, no matter how Mr Schuester is trying to paste smiles and showtunes over his pain.

“What happened, Kurt?” Mr Schue asks, just as Kurt finds a tiny white fleck on his left pinkie nail, attained while climbing out of the dumpster yesterday morning, and is having a quiet panic attack over it. “I know there’s something happening between you and Puck-”

Oh God. Really, Kurt gets that Mr Schue is sort of Finn’s father figure, Finn not having one of his own, and that’s sweet and all, but seriously, he already has a dad he isn’t talking to about this; he doesn’t need another one.

“There’s nothing happening between me and Puck,” he interrupts sharply. Too sharply, he realises a moment later, as Mr Schuester looks a little surprised and then almost amused. Fuck him. Kurt wants to burn all his ties anyway. All of them.

“I thought you were friends,” Mr Schue begins carefully.

Kurt ignores the treacherous little part of his brain that whispers so did I and instead channels his very best Cheerfully Obnoxious Rachel Berry. “Are you a trained therapist, Mr Schue?” he asks. “Because if I start talking to you, you might undo all the work of my already existing therapist.”

His already existing therapist is basically Mercedes, but Mr Schuester doesn’t need to know that.

Mr Schuester ignores him. “You were getting along great,” he says, and he looks sort of saddened. Kurt feels like telling him he really shouldn’t take it all so personally; not that trying to be impersonal is helping him a whole lot. “I thought that was another one of glee club’s successes; how you’re all becoming friends in spite of your differences.”

Kurt swallows a very bitter laugh. “Mr Schue, most of glee club hate each other or are trying to steal each other’s boy-stroke-girlfriends or have gotten each other pregnant – or haven’t gotten each other pregnant – or they’re struggling under the weight of unrequited crushes or are trying to avoid acknowledging how much they want to sleep with each other. You included, by the way.” Mr Schuester looks kind of stunned, and Kurt rewinds back through what he’s just said. “Not that you’re trying to sleep with us,” he adds quickly, flushing. “I just mean that at any given point at least one member of the club is crushing on you. That’s all.”

Mr Schue continues to say nothing.

“It’s ok,” Kurt offers. “I mean, we slap on smiles and go out and sing together like none of it matters, that’s showbiz and everything. And we are going to take regionals like an incredibly inappropriate sexual metaphor that I’m not going to say in front of my teacher.”

Finally, Mr Schue cracks a small smile. “As far as I can tell, Puck beat up the entire hockey team for you yesterday,” he says at last.

“But he won’t actually look at or speak to me,” Kurt shrugs. “Still, it’s better than when he was putting me in the dumpster every morning. It’s progress.”

Mr Schuester looks like he wants to ask about the dumpster thing – the dumpster thing that he didn’t notice every single damn morning for nearly two years – but Kurt pushes himself off the desk he’s been perched on because this has gone on long enough and he’s developing a headache to go with his fucked-up cuticles and sudden reliance on calorie-filled dairy products, and actually, on further reflection, pining over Finn was much more fun than this.

“I don’t know what’s going on,” he says, “maybe you should ask Puck.”

Mr Schue smiles like this isn’t a totally insane and stupid suggestion. “Oh, I will.” He pats Kurt on the arm, and Kurt is almost about to shriek at him for touching his precious Alexander McQueen sweater when he recalls that Mr Schue is having that weird thing with Miss Pillsbury at the moment so he’s probably sanitised to the point of physical pain. It’s a wonder he still has skin left. “You know you can talk to me, Kurt? Any time.”

“Thanks,” Kurt says vaguely, and adds Mr Schuester to the increasingly long list of people that he’s not talking to about his crush on Puck. Other people on this list include Mercedes, Quinn, his dad, Finn, Puck, oh, and everyone else in the world ever. He pushes together a real smile for Mr Schue’s sake, though he’ll deny it if asked later.

Kurt waits until he’s safely out of the practice room to sigh theatrically and mutter: “fuck my life. In the face. With a sharp object.”

He’s also aware, now, that if Mr “Oh, Hey Kurt, Are You Just Making Friends Over By That Dumpster?” Schuester has noticed that something’s really up, then it’s probably only a matter of time before everyone else picks up on it too.

~

Kurt has an afterschool appointment with Mercedes to come clean and wail pathetically at her about how he has no idea what’s good for him, and also to bitch about why there don’t seem to be any gay guys in Lima at all, what the hell, no wonder he has to keep falling for the unattainable, and also maybe to buy some new shoes because there are few things that new shoes can’t fix. However, Quinn catches him after biology, looking all wide-eyed and helpless, and asks if he can drive her to her doctor’s appointment. Kurt contemplates asking whether she can get Finn or Puck to do it, then supposes that things with both of them are still awkward and complicated for Quinn too.

“Sure,” he says, and then adds: “can I bring Mercedes?”

Quinn looks faintly bemused, but agrees.

Mercedes is actually quite excited to see the source of all the gossip and doesn’t mind skipping retail therapy.

“You do realise that it doesn’t have a mohawk, don’t you?” Kurt can’t help saying.

Mercedes rolls her eyes. It’s “the baby,” she says. “Shoot me for being curious.”

Quinn is far more relaxed today and so the drive over to the clinic is kind of fun, the three of them singing along to the radio and harmonising together to the point of actively ruining the songs. It’s like a very screwed-up girls hanging out kind of time, only instead of the mall they’re going to go make sure Quinn’s accidental baby is ok.

“So,” Kurt begins while they’re waiting and the receptionist is once again eyeing Kurt’s Louis Vuitton purse with a mixture of disdain and envy while clearly trying to work out if he’s just the right side of metro to get Quinn pregnant. Kurt rolls his eyes at her and turns back to Quinn, who has arched an eyebrow. “Do you have... plans?”

Quinn is absently flicking through a parenting magazine. Mercedes shoots Kurt a you’re going to make her cry and then we’re going to have to do something other than splash smugly about in our Schadenfreude, but Kurt shrugs because if he’s going to make her cry, it might as well be in Doctor Wu’s waiting room rather than, say, in Spanish class.

“Well, I’m not going to get married to Puck and live in a freaking trailer,” she says, turning the page. She smiles slightly at Kurt. “I don’t know yet. I mean, both Puck and Finn want to be involved if I-” she hesitates for the first time, but continues: “if I do decide to keep the baby. Which I’m sure will be very confusing for her, but...”

“Just don’t let them help her with her homework,” Kurt says, which earns him a smile.

“We’ll all help you,” Mercedes cuts in. “You know we will.”

There’s a silence as they contemplate how exactly a baby brought up by the collective efforts of the glee club will turn out. Well, Kurt reflects after a moment, at least she’ll have a fabulous fashion sense. And they can probably talk Rachel into not putting her into the toddler pageant circuit.

“Thank you,” Quinn says, smile a little tremble-y.

“I’m not babysitting though,” Kurt cuts in before the sentimentality of the moment can suffocate them all. “She’ll only puke on my Versace and that would be terribly depressing.”

“We’ll go shopping for babysitting clothes,” Mercedes assures him, patting his arm, and sometimes Kurt wishes he weren’t so damn easy.

Doctor Wu arches a sarcastic eyebrow when both Kurt and Mercedes trail in with Quinn. Noting this, Quinn smiles angelically and says: “oh, this is my lesbian girlfriend who I’ll be raising the baby with,” as she sits up on the examining table.

Mercedes looks like she wants to protest this but Kurt pokes her and she keeps her mouth shut.

Quinn doesn’t panic so much this time, when faced with the little person growing inside her – there’s something kind of unsettling about that, Kurt can’t help but think, but since he’s just about the only guy in their glee club who definitely hasn’t fathered this kid, it’s not really his problem – and Mercedes has an uncharacteristically misty-eyed expression on her face, so Kurt just holds both of their hands and looks at the little lump on the screen and thinks oh baby girl, you have no idea what you’re letting yourself in for.

It takes him a while to realise he’s grinning like an idiot at Puck’s little girl on the screen, and he really is in no way wondering if she’ll have his eyes.

Mercedes waits for the cloud of mushiness to dissipate and for them all to be safely back in Kurt’s car before she says: “ok, talk.”

Kurt makes a face. “Can we wait until I’m not driving?”

Quinn is looking all intrigued in the back seat, hands spread protectively over her stomach. Mercedes glances at her and says: “ok, yeah, let’s not drive into a tree while we’ve got a pregnant lady onboard. But the minute our lives aren’t in your hands, you are going to ‘fess up and stop holding out on me.”

She’s looking all stern and terrifying so Kurt obediently nods and reminds himself that saying it all out loud might make it sound ridiculous and then he might realise that this stupid infatuation with Puck is actually much less of a big deal than it currently seems.

Quinn leans forward. “What’s he ‘fessing up to?” she asks.

“I don’t know,” Mercedes shrugs, “but since he’s currently looking like a damn tomato, I bet it’s good.”

Oh God. Kurt just knows what’s coming next, and telling Quinn: oh, by the way, I’ve fallen for your babydaddy cannot end well. Before she can say anything, he sighs and says: “all right, manicures at my house, but you two have got to be sympathetic. You have to bleed sympathy. You have to act like my problems are so much more important than yours for at least five minutes.”

They both solemnly swear to.

With no more get-out clauses, Kurt drives them back to his house and they disappear into his basement. Quinn expresses great love for his decorating scheme and also gives him tips on how to make his nailbeds all soft and gorgeous rather than flaky and broken from stress, causing Kurt to reflect that maybe he will babysit for her, puke or not. Whoever said flattery got you nowhere clearly wasn’t doing it right.

In the end, with his nails all pretty and gleaming, Kurt finds both Mercedes and Quinn looking expectant and terrifying and so looks down at his feet and talks to his loafers rather than make eye contact. And he tells them everything, from the first “so you want to bang Finn, right?” all the way through Puck breaking Karofsky’s nose (“Holy shit,” Mercedes breathes) to his first kiss in the sunshine to taking emotional advantage of Finn to Puck refusing to acknowledge him (apart from yelling at him and beating on the hockey team).

There is a very, very long silence after he’s finished.

“This is why you should talk to me,” Mercedes says after a while, “you stupid damn fool.” She hugs him anyway, all warm and sympathetic. Kurt risks a tentative look at Quinn, who is looking thoughtful but not angry with Kurt for hitting on not one but both of her exes. Sort of exes. However she’s referring to them.

“Anyway,” Kurt says, “to summarise: I’m terribly, terribly fucked. Any ideas?”

Quinn smiles. “You need to make over Rachel Berry,” she says.

Kurt frowns, but Mercedes beats him to the: “um, what?”

“Just trust me,” Quinn says, and she’s smirking like she knows something they don’t, but not in a mean way. “Make over Rachel.”

“Yeah,” Kurt says, “‘cause she’s really going to let me get near her with an eye pencil after what I did to her last time. Which is all your fault, by the way.”

“Well, she’s even less likely to let me make her over,” Quinn points out. “And I’m hardly responsible for your need to sabotage Rachel’s chances with Finn.”

Mercedes is looking between them with open incredulity. “Seriously, Kurt,” she says, “you need to call me before you do anything ever. You have to stop letting all these screwed-up popular kids manipulate you.” She glances at Quinn. “No offence.”

“None taken,” Quinn shrugs. “I’ve said worse things about you behind your back.” She considers this. “And to your face.”

“Actually, since they joined glee, they’re considerably less popular,” Kurt protests, ignoring Mercedes’ advice, before realising that this isn’t really a valid argument. He shrugs, smile a little lopsided. “Hater.”

Mercedes rolls her eyes. “Some days, I’m the only one on your side,” she says.

Kurt pouts. “I’m not Rachel!”

“Seriously,” Quinn cuts in, “make her the most wholesome girl-next-door type you can – well, don’t make her me – and it’ll all work out fine.”

Really, Kurt has had enough of plans and schemes and lying and if his little experiment with Puck taught him nothing else, it at least showed him that these things have a tendency of going horribly wrong and not at all the way they’re supposed to. But he’s tired and being proactive will at least stop him from digging out his Congratulations On Being A Fag card and looking for completely nonexistent hidden meanings in it.

“If you’re screwing with me,” he says sombrely, “I sincerely hope your baby is ugly.”

Mercedes and Quinn attempt to look sympathetic towards his man-pain, before both bursting into laughter.

“Oh my God, worst friends ever,” Kurt mutters.

~

Mercedes and Quinn’s sudden new friendship utterly baffles the glee club. Kurt settles for being entertained by it and being not at all jealous that they’re suddenly joined at the hip. They’re only supposed to be attached to his – deliciously well-formed – hips, after all (“if you think you’re stealing the role of Fairy Godmother away from me, you can think again,” Kurt informs Mercedes). Still, within a couple of days, Mercedes’ handiwork can clearly be spotted in Quinn’s clothing choices. Kurt has to give his girl snaps because she’s managed to do in a matter of days what he couldn’t do with weeks at his disposal: get Quinn to ditch all the virginal babydoll dresses and chastity ball wannabe floaty tops. The braids have gone too; one day Quinn has a scarf Kurt recognises as belonging to Mercedes tied around her head, and later on in the week it becomes evident that Mercedes is introducing her to the joyous world of hats.

Kurt looks at Quinn genuinely laughing at something Tina’s saying, white trilby tilted over one eye, and honestly can’t see the captain of the Cheerios in her at all anymore. He wonders if Quinn misses that girl, especially when the rest of them so clearly don’t.

Mr Schue looks somewhat confused but nonetheless pleased when Quinn and Mercedes kick off the next glee rehearsal with a beautifully harmonised version of Why Do Fools Fall In Love? Everyone else claps along with bemused expressions; Puck clearly forgets that he can’t stand Kurt because he turns around and mouths what the fuck? at him before he seems to remember himself and his expression shuts down as he turns away.

For the first time in his life, Kurt actually contemplates biting his fingernails. Not that he does, of course, because that way lies tragedy and self-hatred, but he needs something to take his frustration out on.

“You could sing I Won’t Say (I’m In Love),” Mercedes suggests cheerily after practice.

“We’ll sing back-up,” Quinn offers, faux-innocence writ large across her face.

“I can and will cut you both,” Kurt responds. In any case, contrary to what Mr Schue is trying to teach them and what Kurt spent all that time telling Finn, there are actually some things in life that cannot be solved through song. There are also things that can’t be solved with Disney either, which is sort of sad, but Kurt has enough things to mope about without adding that to the list. After all, becoming emo is this whole other thing and he really doesn’t think he could rock that look, though after a moment’s consideration he decides that eyeliner needs to factor much more in his life.

Rachel is currently talking Mr Schuester’s ear off about whatever crazed notion she’s had today, with appropriate annotated diagrams that she’s waving around, a glaring vision in plaid that kind of makes Kurt want to blind himself so he doesn’t have to look at it ever again. He turns away, wincing, to find Mercedes and Quinn looking expectant.

“I still don’t see how making over Rachel is going to help anything at all,” he can’t help pointing out.

Their matching bitch, please looks are kind of disturbing, and Kurt regrets ever giving them the opportunity to actually hang out together.

“I hate you both,” he says.

Rachel’s obnoxiously bright voice drifts over: “and if we can persuade Principal Figgins to buy new spotlights for the auditorium I really think if would boost morale for the club. I really need to be better lit from my left-hand side, you see, in order to emphasize-”

Hate,” Kurt repeats, hitching his messenger bag further up on his shoulder and gliding over to grab Rachel’s arm, cutting her off mid-flow. “Hi Rachel I need to talk to you for a moment well actually for the next few hours but anyway we have to go now ok? Great we’ll see you tomorrow Mr Schue.”

He doesn’t miss the grateful look Mr Schue throws him as he hustles Rachel towards the door. She makes protesting noises, but Kurt digs in his fingers just a little and continues to propel her out of the room.

Puck, for some unknown reason, is hanging around in the corridor, like he’s waiting for something. Kurt assumes he’s waiting for Quinn – maybe her performance with Mercedes was enough to convince Puck that he really wants his babymama back again – and ignores the immediate raging jealousy that rushes through him because Quinn is his friend now, however weird it is to think that. Puck looks confusedly from Rachel to Kurt but two can play at this game and Kurt doesn’t even glance at him as he half-drags Rachel along with him.

“What’s going on?” Rachel practically squeaks.

“You’ll thank me for this later,” Kurt tells her. “Well, either that or you’ll cry, one of the two.”

He decides he must’ve hallucinated the stifled laugh from behind them.

Rachel’s room hasn’t gotten any less hideous, and Kurt briefly wonders if Rachel’s personality would render her disadvantaged enough to be eligible for Extreme Makeover: Home Edition so they could come knock her house down and build her a new one from scratch; it kind of seems like the only option now. Then he reminds himself that he’s no longer in competition with Rachel – unless she accidentally winds up dating Puck again, and really, considering how fucked-up this year has been so far, that’s not actually an impossibility – and so he could try being nice. Slightly nice. Maybe.

It occurs to him that Rachel’s five-year-old pink and yellow room really coordinates kind of wonderfully with Finn’s cowboy wallpaper in terms of Interior Design Choices That Make Kurt Throw Up In His Mouth A Little Bit, and that maybe they’ll make an adorable and kind of brain-damaged couple, if only he can push things a little bit so they’ll stop looking awkwardly at each other and actually do something.

Rachel is sat on her bed looking cowed as Kurt goes through her wardrobe, dividing her clothes into ‘keep’ and ‘burn’ piles. The ‘keep’ pile has one pair of shoes, two skirts and a jacket on it. The ‘burn’ pile has everything else Rachel owns on it. Kurt tosses a frilled pinafore dress onto the heap and wonders if Rachel’s two dads are actually gay, because surely they wouldn’t allow these fashion travesties to take place in their house if they were. Behind him, Rachel makes a small ‘eep’ of a sound and Kurt remembers that Finn seems to like Rachel’s clothes despite the fact most of the fabrics make them look like they’ve been made out of damn drapes, á la The Sound Of Music. And those are the most tolerable of her outfits. He sighs, flicking through the burn pile to extract two dresses, a skirt and the dreaded turquoise pantsuit, bundling them up in his arms.

“Right,” he says, “you can keep everything that’s on the floor.”

Rachel looks doubtfully at the clothes in his arms. Kurt doesn’t even want to be holding them anymore; he feels like he’s breaking out in a rash just from touching them. “What are you going to do with those?”

“They’re coming home with me,” Kurt tells her, “because you won’t burn them if I leave them here and really, they cannot be allowed to exist anymore.”

“Oh.” Rachel frowns as Kurt dumps the clothes on the bed and steers her towards her mirror. “Why are you doing this, Kurt? Because if you’re trying to sabotage my chances with Finn again-”

“Two things,” Kurt interrupts. “One: I’m so over Finn. Two: when I next decide to screw with you – and there will be a next time, because you irritate the shit out of me most of the time – I will come up with something new and creative. I will not do the same thing all over again. Ok?”

“Ok,” Rachel says meekly, and then smiles a little slyly up at him. “I irritate you less than I used to though, don’t I?”

“Yes,” Kurt allows, because he hasn’t said one nice thing to Rachel since he got here and there’s a certain degree of meanness he doesn’t want to sink to, “but if you tell anyone I said that I’ll tell Jacob you’re a lesbian and make sure he does a nice long blog entry all about it.”

Rachel sits obediently still while Kurt does her make-up – keeping it light and fresh because, amusing as ho-ing her up was, that isn’t the objective this time – and moves the parting in her hair and eventually finishes the look by draping the lilac scarf from around his own neck around hers.

“There,” he says, “girl-next-door eat your heart out.”

For once in her life, Rachel appears to have been rendered speechless. Eventually, her lips curl into a smile.

“I’m going to hug you now.”

Kurt sighs. “Ok. But just this once.”

He’ll never confess to hugging her back.

~

Mercedes comes over to help him burn Rachel’s clothes in an empty oil drum in front of the garage. Kurt’s dad does come out to ask him what he’s doing, but walks back inside again when Kurt uses the words fashion travesty, a fond smile on his lips.

Kurt stares morosely into the flames. “I want him, even though he has a fucking mohawk and he makes Rachel look emotionally well-adjusted and he would probably break my face if he knew.”

Mercedes wraps a warm arm around his waist and Kurt leans into her. “I know, honey. I know.”

~

Rachel doesn’t turn the head of every boy in school when she walks in the next morning, all tiny pleated skirt and v-neck t-shirt, but the scarf accessorises the outfit perfectly and her hair is all loose and wavy and pretty, and the touches of make-up Kurt painstakingly drilled her in applying have made her positively glow.

Finn walks into a door. Kurt takes this to mean they’re on the right track.

“Isn’t it kind of weird, setting your ex-boyfriend up with someone else?” Kurt asks Quinn later as they’re walking to English.

“Very,” Quinn agrees, “but I’m knocked up and I hang out with losers and I’m wearing second-hand leggings right now so, you know, it’s not any more weird than everything else.” She sighs. “This school year is fucked up.”

“Word,” Kurt agrees.

He catches sight of Puck staring after Rachel with a faintly mystified expression, and his teeth clench. If he’s prettied Rachel up just to make Puck lust after her again, he might actually have to indulge in some incredibly shameful weeping at some point. In a dark room. Listening to Judy Garland. It will be very tragic.

Well, either that or he’ll have to wax Rachel’s fucking eyebrows right off.

Later, Kurt is distracted from these thoughts because the hockey team is apparently offended by his existence again and decide to spend a chunk of their lunch hour putting him into the dumpster. Part of Kurt longs for some creativity on their side – after all, dumpsters and slushie facials are getting really old – but he knows that creativity would end in far more physical pain and he’s not good with physical pain unless it’s from waxing.

“Point proven, boys,” he says, sprawled atop the garbage bags as they all stand there looking menacing and so pleased with themselves. It occurs to Kurt that maybe the brightest part of their day is putting perceived losers like himself into dumpsters, and that’s just plain fucking sad. He makes a mental note to pity them. “Now, are any of you going to hit me or hit on me? No? Then you’re all dismissed.”

Half the team actually leave. It’s kind of depressing. The other half linger long enough to spit some unimaginative insults at him before they wander off, high-fiving each other and laughing. Kurt sniffs disdainfully and then sort of wishes he hadn’t because, you know, garbage.

“Oh, you’ve got to be fucking kidding me.”

Puck has appeared from... somewhere, and is staring at Kurt sitting in the dumpster, expression impossible to interpret.

“Sorry they got there first?” Kurt asks, and is a little shocked by the acid in his tone.

“Who was it?” Puck demands. “Because I’ll go and-”

“Oh my God, just stop,” Kurt says. “Seriously, you have to stop attacking people because sooner or later you’re going to get kicked out and then you won’t be able to compete at regionals so we won’t be able to compete at regionals and then Rachel will go mad and probably go on some insane killing spree and really, I’m far too pretty to die this young.”

Puck smirks at that, just slightly. “Seriously, Hummel-” he cuts himself off, frowning. “Are you wearing eyeliner?”

Kurt shifts. “Maybe.” He scowls as Puck’s smirk broadens just a little. “What? It makes my eyes pop.”

“It does,” Puck agrees disarmingly.

Kurt pictures leaping out of the dumpster and kissing Puck. He then pictures his head smacking off the tarmac. He can’t really imagine that having to get his skull sewn back together will do anything for his hair.

“Look-” Puck begins, but Kurt doesn’t want to have this conversation.

“You don’t have to defend my honour,” he interrupts. “In fact, I don’t even know why you’re bothering, seeing as how you don’t actually want to be anywhere near me or acknowledge my existence at all.” He should stop speaking, but he doesn’t. “If all you got out of hanging out with me those weeks was to stop casually using ‘fag’ then that’s great, it is, but I’m sick of you using me as an excuse to beat on people because you’re frustrated because Quinn or Rachel or Santana or whoever won’t fuck you anymore, ok?”

Puck looks kind of startled. “You think that’s what I’m doing?”

Kurt shrugs. “You gonna tell me that I’m wrong?”

Puck opens his mouth, closes it again. Swallows. “Seriously, Hummel, who put you in the damn dumpster?”

“I don’t need to you beat people up for me,” Kurt snaps, because this conversation is making his head hurt and he would actually prefer it if Puck went back to acting like he didn’t exist because it’s hard to be around him now he’s no longer oblivious to his – impractical, traitorous – feelings.

Something that looks almost upset flashes across Puck’s face before his expression becomes cold and distant. “I guess you don’t,” he says.

Kurt sighs, resting his hands on the edge of the dumpster. “Just... stop,” he says quietly. “Please.”

Puck nods, sharp and abrupt, and then offers Kurt a hand. Kurt ignores it. “I can do it myself,” he points out. “I’ve had plenty of practice.”

Puck doesn’t wince, but his eyes narrow a little. He withdraws his hand and Kurt pulls himself out of the dumpster, landing on the tarmac, picking up his bag. He’s got a while before class, enough time to clean himself up and change.

They walk back to school in silence, not looking at each other. Finn almost runs into them at the door.

“Hey,” he says to Kurt, “I heard the hockey team got their hands on you, I was just coming to see if you were ok.”

Say what you like about Finn, but he is sweet. And really pretty, Kurt can’t help thinking. He may not be the be-all and end-all now, but he’s still ridiculously good-looking, and it’s kind of a pity that it doesn’t matter anymore.

“I’m fine,” Kurt says, and turns to maybe say goodbye to Puck or smile at him kind of wistfully or something equally lame, but the other boy has already disappeared.

Kurt isn’t disappointed. Honestly.

~

{continued here because of lj's post limits and my own inability to be succinct}
Tags: character: finn hudson, character: kurt hummel, character: mercedes jones, character: noah puckerman, character: quinn fabray, character: rachel berry, character: will schuester, pairing: finn/rachel, pairing: noah puckerman/kurt hummel, tv show: glee, type: het, type: slash
Subscribe

  • 11 comments
  • 11 comments

Comments for this post were locked by the author