Pairing: Puck/Kurt (Finn/Kurt, kind of Puck/Santana) [other pairings implied/scattered]
Word Count: 9500
Genre: Slash [het]
Copyright: Title taken from Popular from Wicked.
Summary: Kurt strides the corridors with his head held high, and he has no idea what he does to Puck at all. Thank God.
Author’s Notes: So, this is the loosely-promised prequel/sequel/companion piece to ‘Cause You’ve Got An Awfully Long Way To Go, from Puck’s POV, mostly because I just wanted to make it happen and also because I kept writing this story in my head while I was writing the other one so at least I knew what was going on in Puck’s head even while Kurt didn’t. And you know what I realised during Laryngitis? I want Puck/Santana friendship. So guess what happened? ;) This won’t be updated as fast as the last one, I’m saying that now, but you all know how it ends anyway...
The whole Lusting After Kurt Fucking Hummel thing is just embarrassing. Really. Puck hates himself a little more for it every day, for every time Kurt bends over in rehearsals in distractingly tight jeans and his attention is caught when he really should be checking out Brittany or imagining what Rachel looks like out of those fugly sweaters, for every time he sings a solo and his eyes get all come hither and Puck’s cock perks up and says hey, ok. Because, you know, it really isn’t. At all.
It was just about possible to ignore it before sectionals; Puck allowed himself to get distracted with dating Rachel Berry, who gave that speech all about how girls want sex too and then wouldn’t even let him touch her tits – which someone should tell her are really not that awesome, she should totally be less uptight if she ever actually wants to date anyone ever again – and lying to Finn and trying to convince Quinn that he could raise their kid while also screwing around with Santana. It’s exhausting being a teenager, people really need to cut him more slack, or at least give him like a reprieve from homework or something.
Now all of those problems have gone away because the truth came out and now he’s toxic. No one wants to get near him and no one wants to speak to him and, a lot of the time, no one even looks at him. He sits glowering in the back row of glee rehearsal and mimes half the time because no one, not even Mr Schuester, is going to bitch at him for not singing, as that would involve actually having to talk to him. Everyone knows that Mr Schuester has this creepy father/son thing going on and so he’s automatically Team Finn; he’d probably kick Puck out if he wasn’t needed to make up the numbers. Puck sometimes debates intimidating a freshman into taking his spot, but then they’d just be crap and Berry would have some huge breakdown and start talking to him again just to scream at him, and, well, fuck all that shit.
Anyway, because no one looks at him, Puck spends most of his time looking at them. Well, by ‘them’ he kind of basically just means Kurt. Kurt Hummel, who wears ridiculous outfits and is basically as much of a diva as Rachel and in only a slightly lower pitch, who joined the football team apparently for shits and giggles, made them all look like idiots, and then strode away without looking back. Who is pretty and distracting and Puck wants to fuck him so badly that he’s more than a little ashamed of it. Kurt strides the corridors with his head held high and his prissy little attitude exuding confidence like he owns the school even as the slushies and verbal abuse fly around him to splash against the lockers, and he has no idea what he does to Puck at all. Thank God.
Puck is not an idiot and is also not really enthusiastic about being labelled a fag by the rest of the school so he’s subtle. He doesn’t try and talk to Kurt or get his attention or ask him for help with his dance moves – not that he needs help, ok, it’s not like he’s Finn or anything – or any of the other stuff he’d do if Kurt were a Cheerio or a sophomore with a slutty dress sense. He keeps his distance and keeps quiet and decides not to care that the only looks he ever gets from Kurt are either disapproving, pained – while aimed at some item of his clothing – or faintly concerned.
The concern is probably a result of the whole thing where Kurt decided to come out to the glee club, which, what the fuck, it wasn’t anything they didn’t all already know; two minutes in a room with Kurt is enough to tell you that the guy is gayer than that Adam Lambert guy, but whatever, he decided to come out and Puck wound up stealing a whole load of Lily’s marker pens and made Kurt a Congratulations On Being A Fag card. He wasn’t sure what he was trying to achieve so he wasn’t really sure what response he was expecting, and all Kurt really did was look really, really confused and then kind of worried, like Puck was going to give him the card and then punch him in the stomach, or maybe pull off his precious expensive coat and piss all over it. And he did not at any point offer to blow Puck as a thank you, which is just plain rude; if a guy makes you a slightly offensive card then the least you can do is offer him sexual favours in return. It’s like a universal law, and someone really needs to teach Kurt this at some point.
Anyway, basically, it all comes down to the fact that Puck is never going to get to fuck Kurt. And he knows this not just because he has been a dick to the guy for years, but also because, like everyone and everything else in the world, Kurt is apparently crazy about Finn. Puck has been friends with Finn since they were eight so it’s probably kind of mean to wonder what exactly it is that Finn has that no one else does other than being unnaturally tall, but still, it’s really depressing the way Puck can’t even have a stupid accidental gay crush without losing out to Finn. Sure, Kurt doesn’t seem to be an idiot so of course he wouldn’t be lusting after Puck – what with the way he’s spent most of his high school life finding new and different ways to make Kurt’s life as shitty as possible – but really, why does it always have to be Finn?
Maybe this is karmic payback for the whole Quinn thing, but Puck kind of feels like the accidental pregnancy is punishment enough, not that Finn seems to have noticed this. Neither has anyone else, actually; he and Quinn are apparently the Worst People To Have Ever Lived, freshmen giggle when he walks past instead of cowering with righteous fear, and Miss Pillsbury keeps insisting he has counselling in case he one day decides to go crazy and kill everyone in the school. Well, she doesn’t say that because she’s Miss P, who is actually ok in a twitchy kind of way, but the pity in her expression sort of stings more than the permanent fumes of her collection of fuck-off disinfecting products. And really, that’s when you know your life is over, when the freaking guidance counsellor is pitying you.
Puck glowers through another glee club rehearsal where Quinn doesn’t look at anyone, folded in on herself, and Kurt stares after Finn with so much naked, desperate want in his expression that Puck can’t even watch after a while because it makes him both angry and uncomfortable.
Well, he thinks, eyes flicking back to the miserable little smile flickering over Kurt’s lips, at least things can’t get any worse.
“So, what’s it like being a total loser now?” Santana asks when they’ve been making out on her bed for about half an hour and it’s now ok to have a conversation. This is pretty much the way it always works between them, and that’s fine; Puck’s used to it and anyway it’s not like making out with Santana is ever a chore. She’s still hot even if she definitely doesn’t like him anymore and is, anyway, possibly having some kind of thing with Brittany, which is kind of sexy in his head but he knows Santana would go for his balls with a pair of her slut stilettos she wears when not in her Cheerios uniform if he ever even thought the word threesome.
“I’m not a loser,” Puck responds automatically, “I’m awesome.”
Santana nods thoughtfully. “Mmm, so awesome that no one in the school will talk to you anymore, not even the actual losers.”
“Fuck you, Lopez.”
She snickers. “Yeah, you don’t have the social currency to afford me.”
Puck rolls onto his back, scowling. “You are such a bitch.”
“Oh whine, whine, whine,” Santana responds, sounding faintly irritated and yet kind of fond of him at the same time. “Seriously, Puckerman, you are losing your freaking mojo in spades. You are actually making me pity you, and I never pity anyone.”
“That’s totally your best feature,” Puck agrees. Santana elbows him. “Well, that and your tits.”
She laughs. “And don’t you forget it.”
Puck stares up at her ceiling for a while longer. “You know, people should be, like, worshipping me for having super sperm or whatever, not treating me like I’ve done something really bad.”
Santana rolls onto her side, arching an eyebrow. “You got Little Miss Chastity pregnant behind your best friend’s back,” she says.
“And?” Santana shrugs. “Anyway, it’s really not my fault that Quinn is morally opposed to contraception,” Puck can’t help adding.
“Oh, right, ‘cause you’re the innocent in this situation,” Santana responds sarcastically, mouth curling. “Must be why you’re hiding at my place like a bitch instead of going home to your pregnant not-girlfriend and your mom.” Puck remains silent because, well, he actually doesn’t have anything to say to her about that – it’s depressingly true – and after a moment Santana raises an eyebrow at him. “By the way, how long do you think it’ll be before your mom finds out that you actually are the father of that kid and you aren’t just putting Quinn up out of the goodness of your heart because Finn freaked out and decided he didn’t want to be a father?”
“Hopefully she’ll never work it out,” Puck says. He sighs when Santana just looks incredulous. “I don’t know, like, a few weeks maybe.”
“I would say this has ‘bad plan’ written all over it, but it’s not really any worse than the ‘I’ll pretend I didn’t knock Quinn up’ plan,” Santana says. She’s silent for a long moment. “This is so not your year.”
Puck doesn’t come to Santana for sympathy, which is just as well; she fails at providing it. His life is in depressing tatters, and he’s sick of looking for someone to blame for it. It’s pretty much all his own fault, much as he doesn’t want to admit it because someone’s got to be Team Puck in this whole pathetic thing that got old about a month ago but which is still dragging on and on and on. No one else has any reason to be on his side, after all; Puck isn’t stupid enough to think that sex creates any sort of loyalty, and banging a significant number of the girls in the school doesn’t mean any of them actually like him. That’s fine though; Puck hasn’t ever liked them.
“Whoever told you brooding was sexy was lying,” Santana informs him, fingers curling around his arm, nails digging in a little too hard. “Also, your misery is no longer entertaining me.”
This is fair enough. Santana only let him into her house in the first place on the understanding that he wouldn’t be “boring and emo”.
“Wanna fuck?” he offers.
She thinks about it for about a minute, mouth pressed into a careful line as she clearly considers the pros and cons. “No. Go home and continue lying to your mom.”
Puck pushes himself upright because once Santana says ‘go’ she means it and if you don’t she finds dark and horrible ways to avenge herself. Puck’s fairly certain she’s still got a sex tape or two somewhere, just waiting to deploy at the right moment, and that is absolutely the last thing he needs right now. He gets to the door before Santana says, soft: “Puck.”
He turns, and she’s wearing that expression he’s only seen a few times; the one that implies there’s something other than spikes in her personality, the one she used to wear drunk at parties or curled up with him after sex, the little bits of Santana that she guards carefully and cautiously. Puck sometimes wonders if he’s still got something left other than anger, but he thinks that whatever it was vanished somewhere around the third time Finn punched him in the face and called him words that you’re not supposed to call your best friend, not ever, no matter what he’s done.
“Yeah?” he asks.
“Find some way to make it up to Finn,” Santana suggests. “Then you might get to claw some of it back.”
It’s a hopeless suggestion and they both know it, but he kind of likes that she’s trying. “Thanks for nothing,” he tells her, slamming the door behind him, because it can’t ever go any other way between them.
“Well, at least Rachel is being less shrill this week,” Kurt is saying to Mercedes. “I should do something nice for her. Like sign her up for What Not To Wear.”
Puck swallows a smile that’ll probably wind up being misinterpreted and goes back to glaring at nothing in particular, as the glee club continue their very careful charade where they all pretend he’s not there and he obediently doesn’t try to break into their lives. He and Finn have fucked each other up twice since sectionals; once sober, once not, and neither of them is exactly sure who’s winning right now. There’s a silent truce going on right now; everyone gets to take Finn’s side and Puck says nothing at all to anyone about anything and he doesn’t have to try and beat the crap out of his ex best friend over a stupid mistake he made once but can never let go of because no one wants him to.
Quinn is watching him, chin cupped carefully in one hand, dignified and quiet because no one really wants to speak to her either. Puck thinks about feeling guilty about it all, but mostly he’s just angry. It isn’t Quinn’s fault, not really, and maybe by the time the kid is born he’ll have worked this out.
Kurt laughs at something Mercedes says, easy and happy, and Puck bites the inside of his lower lip because he has never made Kurt laugh and he probably never will; all he’s got are cheap insults and dumpsters, both of which have been done too many times before anyway. It’s ridiculous, this feeling of wanting to get close and eat that smile from Kurt’s mouth with his own, rip those weird clothes away and get his hands on skin. It has to stop because it’s not getting him anywhere and his life is fucked-up enough as it is without adding a possible sexual identity crisis on top of everything else. Puck scowls harder and pretends to be vaguely interested in whatever Mr Schue is choreographing with Rachel and Finn, watching as Kurt’s smile falls from his lips and his eyes slide miserably over Finn again.
In that moment, something unfolds in Puck’s mind. Fuck the sexual identity crisis; he doesn’t have time for it. Finn can have it instead. Puck knows from years of experience that it’s basically possible to talk Finn into anything at all if you give it enough time and act like he doesn’t have any other options. Kurt doesn’t know this because he probably wants to do something really lame like hope Finn magically wakes up gay, but if someone told him to push it and didn’t let him back down, Kurt could probably get himself into Finn’s pants.
By the time Finn and Rachel have finished wailing their way through whatever cheesy crap Mr Schuester has decided will win them regionals and finally noticed that Tina and Mercedes have been painting each other’s nails instead of paying attention, and has given them a whole speech on teamwork and caring or some other touchy-feely gay crap, Puck has the wavery edges of a plan in his head.
“So, like, do you have pamphlets on being a homo?” Puck asks, midway through his Friday afternoon counselling session with Miss Pillsbury.
She immediately looks like she’s having a heart attack; Puck waits patiently for her to stop making spluttery half-sentences.
“Well,” Miss P says eventually, “this is a breakthrough, I think, Noah, well, I mean-”
“It’s for a friend,” Puck interrupts, because he is not gay. At all. He just has some unfortunate lust for Kurt Hummel, probably as a result of those girl jeans he wears all the time. It’s very confusing and Puck is at an extremely complicated point in his life and so cannot trust anything his dick is saying to him. His dick is the reason he’s in this mess in the first place. When you stop and think about it, his dick is a dick.
“Oh,” Miss Pillsbury murmurs. She looks at her pamphlets and then back at him. “Are you sure this is a good idea, Noah?”
He’s been getting to know her pretty well over the last few weeks of sitting in her office and lying about everything because he might be all kinds of fail right now but he is not stooping to talking about his feelings, and he knows what she’s really asking.
“I promise that this is not a new form of psychological bullying, Miss Pillsbury,” he recites, recalling that whole thing they had last week about the difference between shouting abuse and throwing slushies at people. He didn’t entirely get it, but she looks weirdly happy when he quotes stuff she’s said back at her, so it didn’t work out too badly.
Miss Pillsbury continues to look anxious, but it’s possible that she’s just waiting for him to leave so she can scrub his chair with a toothbrush and some kind of acid, so he doesn’t let it bother him.
“Can I have a pamphlet please?” he asks, and attempts his most winning smile.
This gets him a sigh and also a bright pink booklet called Even Linoleum Turns Me On: A Guide To Teen Sexuality, which has a number of disturbing and hilarious illustrations in it and uses the phrase whatever you choose, make sure you are protected about ten million times. It’s a bit too late for that since apparently his kid has developed fingernails by now – which Puck cannot process because it literally makes his brain short-circuit – but, hey, it’s the thought that counts.
If he gets Finn into Kurt’s freakishly tight pants then Finn will have to forgive him. Kurt’s a totally nice present; he can sing and accessorise and when he forgets himself and smiles his smile lights up the whole room. And, even better, if Kurt starts dating Finn then there is no way in hell Puck will still be attracted to him because Finn might be his (maybe ex) bro, but Puck does not want to picture him having sex, ever. Kurt and Finn having sex is not hot at all.
It’s a perfect plan. Simple, easy and, even better, all to do with sex, which is Puck’s area of expertise.
What can possibly go wrong?
Puck plans a dignified conversation with Kurt; he’ll catch him casually by his locker and say something like I’ve got a proposition for you, Kurt will look wary but agree, and Puck will explain in careful, logical detail how it’s totally within his power to help Kurt seduce Finn.
But it’s Monday morning and Quinn spends the whole drive to school bitching about how much she misses non-kosher food while looking so tired he nearly thinks about feeling bad for her, and when he gets to Kurt’s locker Kurt is wearing these jeans that are so freaking clingy that they’re really distracting, and when he looks up at him with confusion, he’s so damn pretty that Puck’s careful suave plan disintegrates.
“So,” he says instead, “you want to bang Finn, right?”
Puck isn’t sure why he hasn’t noticed before now, but Mercedes is genuinely pretty scary. She makes Santana on a bad day look harmless with her acidic glares and impressive bitch faces, generally aimed in his direction whenever he looks at Kurt. Puck remembers some story Santana told him once, voice choked with laughter, something about convincing Mercedes that Kurt might be straight, and anyway it ended with Mercedes putting a rock through the window of Kurt’s shiny, expensive car. At the time, it was hilarious. Now, it makes him worry for the fate of his battered truck, which he can’t afford to look after now, with all the windows intact.
Kurt cracks up when Puck mentions this, in a roundabout don’t-let-your-fag-hag-smash-up-my-ride sort of way. It’s after glee practice; everyone else has gone, Mercedes sending him a glare as she went, and Kurt is lounging easily across the chairs in a way Puck doesn’t particularly want to look at. He’s wearing about twelve layers but his t-shirt and the shirt he’s wearing underneath it have ridden up enough to reveal a strip of distracting white skin that Puck is not looking at because he has, after all, given up on crushing on Kurt. He thought about it for a while and now he has moved on and is helping Kurt get the boy he wants. It’s very nearly noble, in a twisted and weird way.
“Oh my God,” Kurt says, when he’s finally finished laughing, “I have to tell Mercedes that you’re afraid of her, this is brilliant.”
“You do that, and I’m chucking a slushie all over those Gucci pants you’re so attached to,” Puck replies swiftly.
Kurt looks down at his pants – which are not that tight today, thank God, because Puck may be over this whole temporarily-bi thing, but there are still fucking limits – and then back up at Puck, a frown spreading across his face.
“What?” Puck asks. “Have I got the wrong designer? ‘Cause not all of us have magical queer memories.”
Kurt continues to look disconcerted. “No,” he says, slowly, as though not sure what words he wants to say or how he’s going to use them. “You’ve got the right designer.”
Puck shrugs, wondering exactly how much of a big deal this is to Kurt and also trying to figure out why having a conversation with him is often so difficult.
“Well you went on and on about how they were Gucci when you wore them last week,” Puck mutters, turning his attention to his sneakers, “I’m not completely retarded, I can actually remember stuff sometimes.”
“Noted,” Kurt says, still sounding stunned. “But if you slushie these pants, I will wreak a great and terrible revenge and also feel really annoyed that I covered for you for so long.”
Puck’s head snaps up. “You what?”
Kurt shrugs. “You know, during Babygate? Well, before Babygate happened, technically, I suppose...”
It takes Puck a moment to figure it out but when he does something cold and stunned spreads through him. “You knew,” he says. “You knew before all that shit exploded.”
“Yes,” Kurt says, and doesn’t elaborate.
“Does being a fag give you superpowers?” he asks, only mostly joking.
Kurt arches an eyebrow in disdain. “Of course.” A smile quirks his lips, and it is not attractive at all. “Also Mercedes told me.”
Puck knew he was going to live to regret shooting his mouth off, but by that point staying silent was becoming increasingly difficult. Now, he just wishes that no one had found out, but naive, six-weeks-ago him couldn’t have predicted any of this.
“That bitch!” he mutters, and watches Kurt’s mouth thin. “I told her to keep it a secret.”
Kurt still looks pissed, but amusement is flickering over his face. “Yeah, that pretty much lasted until one Lean On Me rehearsal you decided to skip, and one minute it was all some times in our lives we all have pain, and the next it was so, Puck is Quinn’s babydaddy.” He grins, immediately fond, and Puck fleetingly wants Kurt to talk about him while smiling like that. “My girl is the best girl ever.”
“Your girl ruined my life,” Puck can’t help reminding him.
Kurt shakes his head quickly. “Oh, no, she didn’t tell Rachel. None of us told Rachel, we were trying to keep her from figuring it out.”
Puck pictures the whole glee club banding together to keep his secret safe, and it’s a strange feeling, given how none of them will even look at him now. “Why would you do that?” he asks.
Kurt tips his head to one side. “‘Cause Finn is ugly when he’s upset.”
That startles a laugh from him before he can stop it. “Dude, seriously?” Kurt just shrugs. “That’s the kind of thing I say, and then everyone announces I’m scum.”
“You are scum,” Kurt replies lightly.
Puck rolls his eyes. “I’m awesome,” he corrects. “And also not a walking cliché.”
“Oh, we’re going there, are we?” Kurt asks, mouth twisting. “Because you’re basically every high school jock cliché ever except with a bit more manwhore.”
“It’s the manwhore bit that counts,” Puck explains, standing up. “Also, tell your girl to stay the hell away from my truck.”
Kurt says nothing, just smirks, and the next morning Puck overhears a conversation between Kurt and Mercedes. Kurt explains, very clearly, that Puck does not have any redeeming features at all, and this should be a relief and it is a relief so Puck ignores the bit where it kind of stings.
Finn and Kurt are having a very intense conversation on the other side of the choir room, something that is probably not about whatever girly shit Kurt uses on his face because Finn is actually managing to contribute. Since this is what Puck has been trying to make happen for about a week and a half now, he decides that he’s not allowed to be jealous, just because he and Kurt are just starting to have actual conversations like normal people, rather than just spitting random insults and hoping it doesn’t all end in bloodshed. Most of the conversations in his life seem to end with people looking either angry or disappointed with him, and Santana has stopped returning his calls. Because she’s his girl, she does at least have the courage not to look remotely guilty about it, and of course he doesn’t miss her because Santana’s a bitch and the fact that they’ve known each other since they were nine years old doesn’t mean anything at all.
Kurt and Finn are discussing baseball. It’s just so stupid that Puck stops watching, spends a moment watching Quinn doodling flowers down the side of a page in her notebook before looking away, and his gaze finally lands on Artie. Glee rehearsals are basically full of people staring lustfully at other members of the club so the fact Artie is looking at Tina with some kind of remorseful want in his eyes is not unexpected. However, he seems to be out-pining Kurt right now, and that’s just not ok. Seriously, someone in this damn glee club needs to be getting some, they can’t all sit about miserable and celibate and pregnant, it’s just too fucking lame for words.
“Look, whatever you did, just apologise for it,” he says when they’ve all packed up and everyone else has rushed off to whatever it is you do with your evening when you have people willing to be in the same room as you.
Artie looks startled and for a moment Puck wonders if he’s just going to turn and wheel away, rejecting him like everyone else has. It wouldn’t surprise him if that did happen; it’s basically the blueprint of Puck’s life at the moment.
“Why do you assume it’s something I did?” Artie asks eventually.
So this is why no one in glee is getting any. It’s so tragic. “Ok, fine, whatever she did, apologise for it. Chicks like that.”
Artie studies him for a long moment, and Puck reminds himself that those glasses are not x-ray ones that can see through to his soul and all the places that are a bit torn or sticky or otherwise fucked-up.
“Why are you-”
“Because your miserable pining about not dating Hot Asian Chick is really getting in the way of my internal monologue about how hard my life sucks right now.”
Artie does not look sympathetic, but it’s ok, because Puck wasn’t expecting it. “What, so your life automatically sucks harder than everyone else’s in this room?”
Puck gestures around him. “Where are your bastard offspring and burned bridges?”
Artie’s expression says, basically: bitch, please. He shrugs and points out: “I can’t walk.”
Puck is having a kid and no one wants to talk to him and his mother is going to hate him when she finds out and also, worst of all, this sexual identity crisis thing is not going away.
He knows it’s insensitive, but he says it anyway. He thinks Artie can take it. “Yeah, but that’s not a new development.”
Artie laughs. “Ok, fine. In terms of recent things that suck, you win.”
Puck nods. “Just so we’re clear. And now you can get back into Hot Asian Chick’s pants and I can continue to win.” He looks at the wheelchair, and a new, disturbing thought occurs to him. “That can still happen, right?”
Artie looks kind of incredulous. “Yes, getting into her pants can still happen.”
“Good,” Puck says. “‘Cause, you know, I might have had to start feeling bad for you.”
A smirk slides across Artie’s mouth. “No, that’s ok, you can hang onto your self pity, Whore of Ohio.” He looks momentarily worried, and quickly adds: “Coach Sylvester’s words, not mine.”
Oh, Puck knows. Sue came and said a number of things about venereal diseases and his mohawk when she found out he was the one who cost her her head cheerleader in the run-up to nationals. It had come just after he and Finn had got into another fight and Puck seriously wasn’t in the fucking mood, and he’d gone outside and punched a wall until his knuckles were bloody, and from the windows above him came Kurt’s voice, floating clear and steady and carrying the words fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, I gotta love one man til I die while Puck rested his face against the cool bricks and wondered what the point of any of it was.
He forces a smile onto his face and says: “Go apologise to Hot Asian Chick.” Artie smirks, and Puck remembers the time when Artie was too afraid to even look him in the eye. It’s probably better now, he decides, even with something like scorn in Artie’s expression that has him sighing: “and yes, I am aware that her name is Tina.”
Artie shrugs, amusement still spread across his face. “I kind of wish you weren’t.”
He’s wheeling himself away across the choir room when Puck says: “It’s ok, I’ve already got one kid on the way. You’re safe for a few more months at least.”
Artie turns to throw a smile over his shoulder at Puck. “You know,” he says, “I’m actually strangely reassured.”
Puck stands alone in the choir room for a long moment after he’s gone. “This is fucking ridiculous,” he says into the silence.
This is his own fault, of course. He might have said something about having no idea what the point of musicals is, and now Kurt is all crazed and a man on a mission and is scrolling through his ipod trying to find a musical that Puck might be able to put up with.
“You might like Les Mis,” Kurt muses. “There’s fighting and lots of people die and also there are prostitutes.”
“Why do people always assume that’ll be a selling point?” Puck asks, despite the fact his brain is already thinking that a musical with hookers in might at least be kind of interesting.
Kurt laughs. “‘Cause you’re you.”
Puck can’t let this one slide. “Just so you know, I’ve never had to pay for it.”
Kurt continues scrolling through his ipod, eyes on the screen. “No, I mean you’re the one who gets paid. You can probably identify.”
For a long moment, all Puck can think is Kurt Hummel actually just called me a prostitute. What the actual fuck.
“Have I gone too far?” Kurt’s eyes flick up to him, something faintly concerned in them. Puck uncurls his fingers from where they’ve been curled up into his palm, because he’s trying out this thing where he doesn’t attack people. It doesn’t stop them from writing shit about him on their blogs or sneering at him in the halls, but Quinn smiles at him more often and his mom likes not being called into the school all the time.
“You haven’t said anything that isn’t true,” Puck shrugs. Kurt continues looking up at him, eyes very wide and very blue, and Puck is the one who looks away first.
Boys should not be allowed to have pretty eyes. It’s a total biological waste.
“You’ll like Avenue Q as well,” Kurt says, after a moment, like whatever just happened didn’t. That’s really absolutely fine with Puck.
He winds up googling the various musicals anyway; you never known when a girl might confess to a love of musicals and faking some knowledge might just get him pussy at some point. Or maybe he could give Finn some advice, if Finn ever decided to ask Puck for random relationship advice. There’s a momentary mental slip where Puck isn’t paying attention and he pictures Finn asking him for help with Kurt, and then he pictures punching Finn in the face until they both agree that Puck would be best for Kurt, actually, but that’s a total accident and not in any way what Puck wants to happen.
It’s kind of fucked-up how satisfying that mental image is, considering how he’s only doing this to get Finn to talk to him again.
Puck is not good at guilt.
He can feel temporarily bad about things and sometimes there’s this feeling down in his guts that glowers, low and dark, when his mom looks at him and asks why he doesn’t have a Jewish girlfriend yet, or when Quinn’s mouth goes all thin and no one in the halls will even glance at her. That’s probably guilt, but then he tends to go punch the shit out of something – or someone – until all of it goes away. He’s decided that no one needs to feel like that, ever, so Puck just doesn’t. It’s too much hassle, and he’s never been big on hassle.
So it’s weird, because he’s never, ever felt like this. Not even Quinn when she’s desperate and angry and resentful, not even Santana on her most PMS-bitch days have ever torn Puck’s internal organs out and spat on them like this. No one has ever made Puck feel like this much shit, and he doesn’t like it. And he tries not to think about it because this isn’t fun and if it isn’t fun then Puck doesn’t want it. But it isn’t working; all through the drive home, he can see the hard, angered look in Kurt’s blue eyes, the tight set of his jaw and the misery that he wouldn’t allow to break the surface but which hung around him like a cloud anyway. Puck can hear the way his voice didn’t tremble when he was speaking; the ugly, carefully-considered words spilling out of his mouth.
“It doesn’t bother me, it never bothers me when even people who loosely claim to be my friends or my teammates use ugly, hurtful, prejudiced words without even thinking. Why would it?”
Right now, at this moment, Puck fucking hates him.
Quinn is watching the TV, some girly shit with way too much giggling in it, but Puck isn’t even in the mood to complain at her until she changes the channel. He slumps down in a chair, eyes on the girls onscreen, and doesn’t even care about the fact their skirts make the Cheerios’ uniform look like a nun’s habit. No, no matter what he tries to distract himself with, all he can do is picture the disappointment etched across Kurt’s face, the brittle way he spat the word ‘fag’ and the world-class way he laid a complete guilt-trip on Puck with an ease no girl ever has.
“I’m not the bad guy,” Puck mutters eventually, after his stupid brain has decided to replay every single time he called Kurt anything other than ‘Hummel’.
Quinn arches an eyebrow. “Tell that to your unborn child.” She says it softly, the cruel edge usually in her voice absent today.
Puck doesn’t reply. He can’t. Part of him is wondering what it would be like to be called a Lima Loser every single day, to have it spat at him in halls, to have it be an accepted nickname that even his friends called him. Quinn said it once and it chewed at his insides for weeks; Kurt is strong, stronger than Puck thinks most people will ever be, but he wonders how much psychological damage he’s managed to cause along the line.
“Are you ok?” Quinn asks, and when he shoots a look at her, he can see her question is genuine.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” he says. Shakes his head to clear it. “You shouldn’t mention that the kid is mine, you know.”
“Your mom isn’t here,” Quinn assures him. “She went to pick up Lily.” A smirk flicks the corner of her mouth. “Don’t worry, I don’t particularly want her to find out I’m having your baby. I don’t think she’ll take it well.” Quinn hesitates, folding one hand over her stomach, where she’s finally really starting to show. She does it a lot at school, protecting their kid from the shitstorm flying around them at the moment, but it’s the first time it’s happened in Puck’s house. “I have an appointment,” Quinn explains quietly. “In just over a week.”
“And you want me to...”
“If you want,” Quinn says quickly. “I mean, you know, you came to one with me just before Rachel decided it would be a really good idea to ruin our lives, so...”
Puck thinks about it, about clinics and sonograms and doctors and fingernails, his daughter has fingernails now and eyelids and-
“You’re hyperventilating,” Quinn says, voice a little too calm. “It’s fine. It’s really fine. You don’t have to, I won’t make you.”
“I’m not...” Puck trails off, realising he doesn’t even know what he wants to say.
“I know,” Quinn tells him. “Believe me, I wish I could just sit here and blame you and hate you but I understand. I won’t understand if you’re still doing this in a few months, but right now I get it. I mean, it sucks, I got through sixteen years of my life without needing empathy and now I’m basically surrounded by other people’s emotions, which is screwed up and so not what I need right now, but whatever, I get what you’re going through. So. Don’t worry about it.”
Puck moves to come and sit beside her on the couch, sliding an arm around her shoulders. Quinn stiffens and then leans into him, sighing softly. They sit and stare at the TV and don’t say anything at all, and after a while Puck realises that he has no idea how to fix things with Kurt.
Just over a week later, Quinn throws a print-out and a DVD at him and disappears into the guest room. She doesn’t appear for the rest of the evening.
Lily gets out her markers and makes a Get Well Soon card, sliding it under the door. Puck can hear Quinn crying over it through the wall, but he doesn’t know what to say and so he looks at the printout of his daughter for a long time before hiding it and the DVD underneath his unused algebra textbook and going downstairs to play Mario Kart with Lily. Because it’s been that sort of day, he even lets her win.
The next morning, he learns that Kurt took Quinn to the clinic, and Puck is just working out how to feel about all of this when Karofsky throws a cherry slushie in Kurt’s face, spitting stupid little fag as an accompaniment.
Puck has thrown his fair share of slushies in his time and been with people who’ve thrown them, but the trick is not to look back, just keep going while feeling smug as hell ‘cause you’ve just ruined someone’s whole day with the minimum of effort. So while he was chief slushie thrower up until the school year decided to become screwed-up Bizarro World, Puck’s never actually seen Kurt take a slushie before.
The way Kurt doesn’t even flinch, just looks calmly resigned, makes something deep inside him crack.
Because they used to be friends or teammates or whatever, Puck knows that Karofsky never attends last period, so he skips class too and goes to track him down.
He finds him in the parking lot, making out with some random Cheerio in the backseat of his car. Puck squints through the window and spends a moment trying to work out whether he fucked her or not, and if he did if he’s going to be expected to remember her name, and then he recalls why he’s here. The white rage sweeps through him again and he pulls the door open. Random Cheerio squeaks, struggling to pull her skirt back down over her ass; Puck could tell her that she’s fighting a losing battle there, but his gaze is fixed on Karofsky.
“What the fuck, Puckerman? You can’t get any so you’re trying to start some kind of threesome? ‘Cause unlike your little queer friend I don’t swing that way and I don’t think that Cassie here will-”
“Cassie, whatever the hell your name is, go away,” Puck snaps, and she obeys, tugging her skirt back down as she runs away across the empty parking lot.
Karofsky is still sprawled across the backseat, lazy and smug, and jagged lines of warm fury are still pulsing through Puck.
“Get out,” he says, low and hard.
Karofsky doesn’t move. “Dude, you are so fucked up,” he begins, but Puck really isn’t interested in hearing any more. That isn’t why he’s here.
Puck grabs his ankles and drags. Eventually Karofsky pulls himself free, struggling to his feet. “What-”
Puck punches him, sending him stumbling back against the hood of his car. He doesn’t trust himself to speak because he doesn’t know what will come out of his mouth if he does, things he really shouldn’t put into words because it’s not like the whole school doesn’t have enough blackmail material on him as it is. It’s dangerous and he shouldn’t be doing this because the tension is coiled up beneath his skin and if he lets it out he might not be able to pull it all back in again.
Karofsky spits a mouthful of blood. “Is this about your boyfriend? Because, really, I would’ve thought he’d like a big, wet facial-”
Puck’s next punch floors Karofsky, sending him crashing to the tarmac. “Shut the fuck up,” he snarls, kneeling over him to pin him down. The other guy hits him back and Puck feels his nose start bleeding, hot and thick in the moment, and the sting is perfect. The next blow he lands comes with the crunching of nasal cartilage and Karofsky screams, though it doesn’t stop him from hitting Puck wherever he can reach, grabbing a handful of Puck’s shirt collar and pulling. Puck jerks back and his shirt tears and they’re rolling around on the ground shouting incoherently at each other, strings of swear words and insults, and Puck has done this often enough with Finn but it’s not like this with Finn. With Finn, part of him kind of feels like he deserves it.
Right now, he’s proving a point, even if one of his knuckles is bleeding where he caught it on one of Karofsky’s teeth.
“You call him a fag again and I swear to God I will kill you,” he shouts, head ringing, teeth tasting like blood, body thrumming with adrenalin.
Karofsky is a mess. “Ok,” he spits, “Jesus Christ, Puckerman, ok.”
Puck forces himself to pull away, leaning his back against one of the wheels of a nearby car. He swipes a hand across his face, trying to clean himself up a little, and finds that at least his nose has stopped bleeding. When he next looks at Karofsky he finds he’s pulled himself upright as well, leaning against the car opposite. Puck looks at the bruising and the blood and thinks there’s a broken nose in there and probably some cracked ribs and fuck knows what else. He’s probably overdone it, and then thinks of Kurt somewhere with his ruined clothes and smashed pride and isn’t sorry at all.
“Do you need a ride to the hospital?” he asks, because there’s fucking a guy up for being a dick and then there’s just being an asshole.
Karosfky shakes his head. “I’ll get one of the guys on the team to take me.” His voice is thick, nasal, barely coherent.
Puck nods, the roar of fury and adrenalin sliding away a little bit. Maybe he and Finn should go back to kicking the crap out of each other; maybe then they’d be less angry all the damn time.
They sit there for a long time, saying nothing, until something other than triumph takes over in Puck’s brain and he remembers that he’s meant to be in glee club right now. He gets up and holds his hand out until Karofsky takes it, pulling him to his feet.
“If you ever tell anyone-”
“Yeah yeah, I know, you’ll fuck my shit up.”
Karofsky tries to roll his eyes but they’re swelling closed, so Puck leaves him to it, running through the emptying halls to the choir room.
He pushes the door open, panting: “Sorry, Mr Schue, I was helping...”
That’s as far as he gets. Kurt is standing with his back against the piano, body tensed and defensive, and Finn is towering over him looking like he’d either like to hit Kurt or back away and kick some furniture, and Mr Schue is watching the two of them with open silenct horror all over his face.
Well, this is a fucked-up new development.
The silence continues, tight and angry, and Kurt finally looks over his shoulder at him. Puck remembers that he looks a total mess right now and something in Kurt’s eyes flinches, but he turns away before Puck can try and say something or even change his expression of stunned confusion. Puck watches as Kurt straightens himself up, that haughty expression that resulted in Puck wanting to dumpster toss him more than once flooding his face.
It’s a defence mechanism, Puck realises for the first time, and then feels stupid for not working this out earlier.
“Mr Schuester, I promised my dad I’d help with some stuff this afternoon, I’ve got to leave practice early.”
Mr Schue looks stunned for about another minute and then nods quickly. “Right, Kurt, of course.”
Everyone watches Kurt leave. He doesn’t look behind him, back straight and hips swaying. Puck doesn’t move, doesn’t want to move until someone explains what the hell is going on right now.
Finn looks at Puck and then at Mr Schue and then kicks the piano. “Fuck all of this,” he mutters, and walks out.
No one says anything for a very long time, and Puck wants to go hey, look, it wasn’t me that wrecked glee rehearsal this week, this is kind of awesome but decides to have a go at tact instead. Eventually, Mercedes searches through her bag and walks up to him. Puck decides that since he just beat the crap out of a guy whose guns may not be as awesome as his but who is pretty much just bigger than him, he is not going to afraid of Mercedes. At all. So he doesn’t back away, even though Kurt has told him that Mercedes has mace and is not afraid to use it and really, he does not need to be maced right now.
“Here,” she says, and holds out a Kleenex. Puck frowns. “Your nose is bleeding,” Mercedes adds. “And my boy just went to bat for you so I figure you can have a tissue.”
...what? Puck’s mind goes blank so he presses the tissue to his face and feels it stick immediately to his upper lip so, hey, apparently she wasn’t lying.
“Is it ok to say I have no idea what’s going on?” he says to the room at large. They’re glaring at him and this seems unfair because he didn’t even make the drama happen today. He was off making different drama that the glee club doesn’t even know about.
“Ok.” Mr Schuester seems to suddenly remember that he’s a teacher because he strides into the centre of the room. “It’s at times like this that we need to pull together more than ever. So I’m not going to dissolve practice and send you all home, we’re going to stay here and rehearse.”
Puck remembers that he has the solo with Rachel this week and makes an effort to clean his face up, seeing as how she will probably try to kill him with her eyes if he screws this up for her. Maybe Quinn will tell him what the hell is going on when they finally get out of here.
It’s weird, going from being the guy no one looks at to being the one everyone is staring at. Puck used to attract a load of attention due to being a badass and being fucking hot with it, but now it just makes him uncomfortable. Santana’s stare is viciously calculating, though when no one else is looking she winks. Puck really doesn’t know what to do with that and his head is starting to hurt so he just focuses on singing with Rachel, while Mr Schue does a crap job of not looking traumatised by the whole thing.
Artie catches his arm when Mike and Matt are demonstrating their latest ideas for dance routines.
“Just so you know, the whole club basically thinks you’ve brainwashed Kurt.”
Puck processes this. “Oh good. ‘Cause it’s not like my life wasn’t shitty enough or anything.”
Artie smiles slightly. “I still can’t walk.”
Puck manages a smile back. “This is still old news.”
Rachel comes and accosts him at the end of rehearsals, just as Puck is beginning to look forward to going home and having a hot shower and trying to work out if maybe someone somewhere has a little Puck voodoo doll and right now they are pissing on it.
“We’re good, Noah,” she says, “but I know we can be better. Do you want to come over and practice?”
I would rather eat broken glass, Puck thinks uncharitably. “Uh... I’m kind of bleeding all over the place, you know. Also, Finn is not gonna be happy if he finds out we were hanging out.”
Rachel shrugs. “Finn is displaying a remarkable lack of emotional maturity at the moment.”
Puck raises an eyebrow. “I got my best friend’s girlfriend drunk and then pregnant and then lied to him about it for months. How much emotional maturity does that display?”
Rachel just smiles like she knows something he doesn’t, but before Puck can say anything Quinn comes over. Since she sold the Chastitymobile to pay some of her medical bills, Puck has become her private taxi service on top of everything else.
“Can we go home?” she demands. “I’m starving.”
“I have to take Quinn home,” Puck says quickly. “But, you know, thanks for the offer.”
Rachel turns her attention to Quinn. “You can come too.”
Quinn arches an eyebrow. “You’re inviting me to your house?”
Quinn takes a step closer to Rachel. “You read Jacob’s blog, don’t you?” Rachel nods warily. “This means,” Quinn continues, “that you know that when Jacob came to me and asked for a quote to go with his entry all about how I was knocked up and homeless and boyfriendless and friendless and also getting fat, I said: well, yes, but at least I’m not Rachel.”
Rachel doesn’t even crumple. You have to give the girl points for that. “Maybe I’m willing to forget that, Quinn, because I’m actually a good person?”
“You ruined our lives in the hope you could date Finn,” Quinn replies, though there’s less venom than usual in her voice. “And look how well that’s going.” She seems to be thinking. “Do you have bacon?”
Rachel frowns, but catches up quickly. “Jewish,” she reminds her.
Quinn sighs. “Oh my God, I need to know fewer Jews.”
Puck tries to smile and then finds that it hurts. “Ok,” he says. “What the hell. I’ll come rehearse with you. Why not.”
“I’m going to sit in your kitchen and eat all the food you have and explain to your dads all the reasons why they should have given you back,” Quinn explains lightly, and it’s weird how Rachel just smiles instead of looking hurt. Maybe she’s on drugs, Puck thinks, as they all trail out to the parking lot. Karofsky is gone, which is good, because Puck has no intention of getting caught and shouted at for what he’s done.
“You know,” he says, with Quinn and Rachel in the back seat, “I didn’t want to talk to you when we were dating. How do I get rid of you?”
Rachel just laughs, and the girls use the drive over to Rachel’s to explain to him that Kurt decided to yell at Finn in front of everyone else about how he’s being unfair to Puck and Quinn. Puck listens and wonders what exactly Kurt thought he was doing.
He texts Kurt later, when there has been singing and Quinn has made friends with Rachel’s infamous Two Gay Dads – “they’re kind of awesome,” she says, “and recommended moisturiser to minimise the stretch marks. They’re like Kurt, but old. How did Rachel come from them?” – and he has cleaned himself up. Just a simple message, just in case.
Kurt doesn’t reply. Puck isn’t really surprised.
“Please,” Kurt says, his eyes all big and horrified-looking, “please tell me you didn’t beat up Karofsky because he threw a slushie at me.”
Puck’s come to understand that getting corn syrup out of your underwear is a bitch, but he thinks Kurt must have realised that that would be petty, even for him, and he’s beaten people up on the thinnest of excuses because, well, it’s something he is at least good at.
“I didn’t,” he says, awkward because he knows what’s coming next.
“Fine.” Kurt sighs, glancing around the empty hallway like he doesn’t even want to look at him right now. “Then please tell me you didn’t beat him up because he called me a fag.”
Puck could lie. He kind of likes lying, although lying has not got him anywhere good lately. He pulls together a smile and tries to make it sound like it doesn’t matter. “Only if you can tell me you didn’t whale on Finn in front of the entire glee club because of me.”
When Kurt has finished flailing in a way that isn’t in any way endearing and is just really very gay, Puck walks him to class. The corridors are crowded and Kurt’s a little guy and he might get squashed and it’s really not because Puck doesn’t want to leave his side because that’s just plain fucking dumb. He refuses to be whipped when he isn’t even getting any. Santana brushes past him, expression both amused and judgemental, and Puck wonders if this means she’ll start talking to him again now.
“It didn’t even bother me,” Kurt says, hesitating outside his classroom.
Well, that’s bullshit and they both know it. Puck thinks he’d know it even if Kurt hadn’t explained it all to him, and it’s a stupid lie.
“Yeah, it did,” he shrugs, and smiles slightly at him. “Catch you later, Hummel.”
He leaves Kurt staring after him and doesn’t look back, doesn’t look back even though he desperately wants to, and thinks that maybe somewhere along the line he has screwed up. After all, Kurt has gotten close to him with the expectation that he’s going to get Finn at the end of all this. And Puck... Puck isn’t sure he can do this after all.
It’s kind of sad how this latest fucked-up twist in his life is, once again, all his own fault.