Author's Note: I wrote this before Wheels actually aired, so it's based solely off of spoilers and doesn't correlate to what happened in canon following that episode. And I changed the title of this story—mainly because I wanted to use the title for a more fitting piece. Apologies if they sound out of character at all. Given that I wrote this when it was a new show that's bound to happen. Enjoy!
"Let us find perfection
And nonsense in all we are.
Save defects for later;
We're angels for now.
Hide my uniform pride,
Your arrogant side
—I'm aching already.
Hide your taciturn, mundane expressions.
Affection will carry us a little while more..."
—Getaways Turned Holidays - Meg & Dia
Angels For Now
Puck wasn't really sure what to think anymore. If someone had told him a few months ago he'd be part of this club, a dumpee of Rachel Berry, and the father of Quinn's child—let alone a willing father—he would've laughed in your face.
As much as he'd never admit looking forward to after school rehearsals before, he had to say that today he never dreaded anything more in his life. He could've stridden right on past the room, now that he thinks on it, but today wasn't the day to be a coward. Quickly exhaling the breath he wasn't aware he was holding, he grasped the familiar handle and pulled the door open.
He half expected this, to find the room completely empty and for practice to be canceled—after all, Finn was seething, Mr. Schuester was leaving his wife, and even Rachel Berry was shocked into silence. Maybe a day with nothing but this flimsy, momentary peace and his old guitar in tow would do him some good.
Walking into the fluorescent-lit room, he noticed he was wrong—he wasn't alone.
Sitting on the floor, with her back against the piano bench legs, was Tina. She was sitting with her legs tucked underneath her bottom, clutching a piece of white paper that bared the words PRACTICE CANCELED scribbled in haphazard sharpie. She was humming a tune of a song he could've sworn he heard Abrams play on his guitar the other day.
She didn't seem to notice him.
"Usually signs like that belong on the door," Puck pointed out lamely, shocking both him and her as he took a seat next to her on the tiled floor.
Her position of staring straight ahead remained unfazed as she replied, stutter-free and not all that happy.
"So you can talk properly," he commented, figuring that, at least, warranted a response.
She gave him a look. He wouldn't really mean it if he apologized, so he didn't.
"And Quinn Fabray is having your baby," she pointed out evenly, as if reminding herself she didn't have to pretend anymore.
"Touché," he sighed, leaning forward slightly with one elbow resting on a bended knee. "Well, what's the problem then, Rain Man?"
"I…" she faltered and thought of slushies and port-a-potties and duct taped wheels and wondered why was she speaking to him in the first place.
"Ah," he nodded, slouching as he leaned against the piano in thought-as if he just came to a revelation of sorts. "Wheelchair kid. I take it he's not too happy about you being normal?"
She stared. She frowned. And then she laughed.
He at least expected some sharp reprimand for not calling him by name, for all the shit he pulled on her and her friends, but instead she was giggling softly. Although he found he enjoyed the sound, he deemed it more unsettling than her stoic, blank-faced silence. Tina quieted her chuckles and ran an anxious hand through her long, blue strands.
"Normal—" she half chuckled, half scoffed, as if the word sounded quite foreign on her tongue. "What does that even mean, Puck?"
"Means you don't get a slushie in your face everyday," he breathed, mimicking her posture by leaning backwards and staring at the ceiling with her. "Means Mike Chang won't get teased for being attracted to you," he smiled slightly, knowing she was blushing without even sparing her a glance.
Old habits die hard, he guessed. And then he laughed too. As it settled into a slight silence, he noticed she had turned to look at him directly, and it was as if he just realized she was human. That she was beautiful and alone. Like he was.
He sat up and faced her, regarding her with a fervor that wasn't there a moment ago.
"Okay, I have to say—faking a disability is some freaky shit, Cohen. Weird, creepy, downright unsettling—something years of therapy won't make me understand," he remarked in a tone he hoped was light enough. And then he wondered when did he start sparing people's feelings?
"No worse than sleeping with your best friend's girlfriend, right?"
She heard a voice retort softly—not unkindly, but conversationally; it took Tina a moment to realize it was her who spoke and she was left wondering when did she gain the audacity to reply in such a calm way, to Puck no less. Was this what it meant to be social? To be normal?
She gave him a weak smile and a quick roll of her eyes in acknowledgment. And then her gaze was downcast in thought; downcast in the sadness of something she lost.
It didn't go unnoticed.
"But hey, you 'fessed up, and if Abrams can't see that—for whatever the reason—you want him anyway, wheelchair and all, then…" he cut off his lazy drawl and she arched an eyebrow, wondering why there was no conviction in either of their voices.
"Then what?" she found herself whispering. He looked directly in her eyes and she leant her chin atop a knee.
"Then that's pretty fucking tragic on his part, don't you think?"
The look she gave him in response was something else entirely. And there was that beautiful and unsettling laughter again.
"Why are you being even remotely nice to me, Puck?"
He took a moment to reply, asking himself the same question. He leant back against the piano for a second time, suddenly feeling exhausted with the day's events. He licked his lips quickly, and began to reply.
"Because my best friend hates me, my ex-girlfriend-of-the-week slapped me, and I look at you and think that maybe there are lies that deserve that type of punishment—and some that don't."
The look she gave him next was one he could only describe as a sheer blend of curiosity, astonishment, and perhaps a little gratitude. Maybe she wasn't the only mystery.
"Maybe you aren't as bad as everyone thinks…" she muttered under her breath. He let out a chuckle of his own.
"This may come as a surprise to you, gleek, but you're not the first to come to that conclusion," he regarded her with mock conviction and flashed her a trademark smirk as she cast a smile towards the floor.
"Can I ask you a question, though?" he asked as he turned back to staring at the ceiling. She looked up at him expectantly and nodded once.
"Why isn't that sign on the door?"
"Oh," she replied, glancing down at the paper in her hands as if she just remembered it was there. "Mr. Schue came by a few minutes ago and asked me to write it. I sat down and started thinking and just never stood back up to hang it."
He nodded, a specter of understanding stirring in his mind. He guessed they all had their own scars to revel in.
She smiled sadly at him, blue polished fingers fiddling with a shoelace on her combat boots. He shrugged noncommittally.
"Doubt anyone's gonna show up anyway."
As if on cue, the door swung open and the ghost of the smile she wore instantly faltered as her eyes fixated towards the doorway.
It was Artie.
He instantly slowed his wheels to a stop and looked back and forth between the two of them—his former-bully and his former-sun, someone he would've gone out of his way to avoid and the other he would've been immediately relieved to see. In another universe, at least.
Puck looked back at Tina, acknowledging her once before he stood, dusting his jeans off and picking up his guitar case and gym bag.
"It's your call, Abrams," he called out vaguely, hoisting the bag over his shoulder and simply strolling out the open door. He tossed Tina a quick, cocky grin as he waved the sign at her in some animated salute. She looked down and half chuckled, only just realizing he had snagged it. Appreciating the amusement she gained from staring at Artie's bewilderment, she found herself breathing a little easier.
Artie continued to stare with a look that wasn't quite a smile, wasn't quite a frown. He approached the girl in front of him—confusion, uncertainty, and all.
Let us be entertained.
Let me believe it ends this way...
Reviews are love!