Puck's favorite part about school was definitely not going to class. It wasn't lunch, gym, or hanging out and basking in the glow of popularity. It wasn't even football--or God forbid Glee. His favorite part was walking around the school when it was empty.
There was something about the magnitude of it, you know? Walking through the hallways when they're full is one thing--there's always a chance that someone will step up and overthrow the hierarchy--but empty hallways always gave Puck a sense of importance. He was the only one around, and he could strut as much as he liked. There was never anyone there to bother him.
That day, he was staying after for detention, when he accidentally walked into a hallway with a person in it. Not just a person--a crying person. Then he looked close enough to see the Marc Jacobs jacket. It was Kurt Hummel. Fuck.
Puck's first reaction was to back away, and fast, but then he stopped and sighed. A, they were in Glee together. B, Finn, his best friend in the whole world, had something to do with this, because he and Kurt had been working on their ballad after school. And C, most importantly, they were teammates. He had to at least pretend to care about Kurt… just to make sure he didn't blow the next game.
Kurt was sitting against the wall with his knees drawn up and his head buried in his arms. He looked up, saw Puck, rolled his eyes dramatically, and reburied himself. His face was red, blotchy, and covered in tears.
Puck sighed and shifted his backpack on his shoulder. He had tried, right? Well… no, not really. He walked forward and stopped about six inches from Kurt.
"Leave me alone."
"I was just--"
"Look, I'm not in the mood to be thrown in the dumpster, okay?"
Puck felt a twinge of annoyance. Who was Kurt to judge? He hadn't done that in like… ten days.
"Dude, I'm just trying to see if you're okay. You don't have to be so negative about it."
Kurt laughed, but it didn't really sound like a laugh. His voice sounded choked and squeaky and a little bit hysterical.
"What is there to be positive about?"
Puck dropped his backpack and sat down, determined to think of something. Yeah, it was a little too nice for him, but he was curious. Kurt's usual method of dealing with things he didn't like was to act disdainful and/or bitchy, not cry in deserted hallways. "What happened? There's got to be something good about it."
"I mean what's positive about you," Kurt snapped, "being here, getting in my face and making my life a living hell."
There was the bitchiness.
"Come on, man, we're in football and Glee, we should at least, y'know, not hate each other."
"We had every class together in eighth grade. You threw me in the county pool three times--"
"It doesn't smell as bad as the dumpster…"
"--in January alone. You locked me in the girl's bathroom and stuffed tampons in my backpack--"
"In my defense, you have voluntarily spent more time in a girl's bathroom than any guy I know."
"And all of the guys in football, baseball, and basketball addressed me as 'faggy' all year."
There was a pause.
"All right, I'm an asshole." It wasn't that hard to admit. "I'm sorry. But I really want to win Sectionals 'cause our chances of winning the football championship are pretty much zero now, and we sort of need you to win, so… just tell me."
Kurt glared at him, and put his head back in his arms. Puck sighed and was about to stand up when Kurt spoke.
"I did something stupid."
Kurt's voice was muffled by his arms, but Puck let him keep a little dignity and didn't ask him to repeat it. He had heard. I may have kissed Finn. The shock kept him from speaking for a minute.
"Why do you think?" Kurt snapped miserably.
Puck didn't answer that. Everyone knew that Rachel, Quinn, and Kurt were all in love with Finn, but they also knew what Puck was thinking now, what Kurt didn't want to hear: Finn's straight, you idiot.
"I got caught up, I suppose. We were doing Somebody To Love, and there was just so much emotion in his voice and I…" Kurt trailed off and sighed. "Obviously he was focused on someone else during the song, I don't know what I was thinking. I totally forgot about Quinn."
Puck was trying not to think about his best friend kissing a guy, so he wasn't listening that hard, but he did catch that last thing. He debated with himself for a minute, and then decided to tell Kurt the truth. Finn didn't deserve it that much.
"If it makes you feel any better," he said, "I'm pretty sure he wasn't thinking about Quinn. I mean, if it weren't for the baby, he would totally be with Rachel right now."
Instantly he realized it was the wrong thing to say. Kurt's threw his hands in the air. His voice was an exasperated wail.
"Great. Just what I needed--another loss to Rachel."
Puck tried to backpedal. "Don't take it personal, it's just--"
The rest of the words were drowned out as Kurt sobbed again, his face falling into his arms. Puck just sat there for a minute, wondering what the hell to do. He was never any good when it came to crying girls before, let alone a crying guy. He awkwardly tried to pat Kurt on the shoulder, but Kurt's arms were kind of flung around his shoulders, so it ended up as a back pat that didn't look remotely comforting. Finally, he stood and held out a hand.
"Come on." Kurt looked up, raising his eyebrow in a way that managed to convey every diva thought he didn't feel like voicing. "I know how to make you feel better," Puck insisted, even though he knew nothing of the sort. He had a hunch, that was all.
Reluctantly, Kurt took the proffered hand, and Puck yanked him up before he had time to change his mind. He didn't hold on to the hand--that was way too gay--but he threw an arm around Kurt's shoulders and dragged him into the auditorium. Finn was long gone.
"What are we doing?"
"I'm doing nothing. You're singing."
Puck was feeling kind of sheepish, so he shoved Kurt onto the stage and acted exasperated.
"You can't cry if you're singing, dumbass. So choose a feel-good song and sing it."
Puck was going to sit in the audience, but Kurt touched his arm very briefly, and then drew back.
"Wait. Can you play piano?"
Puck sighed internally. He was sort of hoping this would be an easy 'Yeah I listened, you did great' kind of thing. He hadn't played the piano since his mom let him quit in seventh grade.
"Yeah, but I need sheet music."
"It's in my bag," Kurt gestured at his leather bag, sitting on the side of the stage. "The purple folder."
Puck ruffled through the bag, willing himself not to wonder what was in there, and found a magenta folder with 'Glee' written across the cover in curvy, sparkly turquoise letters. He flipped it open and found…
"Defying Gravity?" He looked up. Kurt was watching him, very calmly. "You sure?"
Kurt nodded, and faced the auditorium.
Whatever, Puck thought with a shrug. He sat down at the piano and skimmed the music, waiting for his cue. The first few opening notes were hesitant, but then he remembered hearing how the song was played at the diva-off, and the melody came easier.
For five bars Kurt waited, tapping one finger against his leg. Then he began, slow and soft.
"Something has changed within me…"
There was supposed to be a rest for one beat, but Kurt missed the cue. Puck's fingers stalled on the keys, and Kurt swallowed audibly. He rested one hand on his hip and pinched the bridge of his nose with the other.
"Sorry," he said abruptly. "Sorry, I…"
"'S fine," Puck shrugged. "Whenever."
He waited for a moment. Kurt took a deep breath and nodded.
"Okay," he said. "Okay, I'm good now."
His voice sounded stronger, and Puck started over. The first few bars went flawlessly.
Puck had been exposed to a lot of music in the past few months--much more than ever before--and he was starting to a get a knack for judging music. He wasn't as good as Mr. Schue or Rachel, but still. He had known that Rachel would win the diva-off before either of them sang a note, because there was no chance any girl in Glee, or any guy that sang like a girl, could beat her. Now, he really listened to Kurt, and he was impressed.
All right, he wasn't the best singer. His voice was too high for most guy parts and too weird for most girl parts. But when he hit the right notes… Kurt could sing.
"And you won't bring me down."
Puck watched unobtrusively as the song progressed, his fingers dancing easily over the keys. It was almost fascinating, watching Kurt sing. With each bar his voice should have gotten thinner (the notes got higher as the song progressed)--instead just the opposite happened. Kurt's voice was gentle, caressing the words, but he got steadily louder. During the audition he had stood impeccably still, and now he took a firm stance, walked forward, reached out with his arms. It was like watching a different person.
Puck's heart was in his throat. It was thrilling, Hummel's enthusiasm, but the high F was coming. He didn't want to break the moment.
"I think I'll try defying gravity, and you won't bring me down!"
Puck's fingers fumbled. The piano part stopped. Kurt didn't notice.
"Bring me down!"
He finished the song with one last wail, and stared around the auditorium, as if he was hearing applause. The silence was deafening, and Kurt turned back to the stage. He smiled gently.
"Thanks. That actually did help."
He picked up his bag and was about to exit stage left when Puck almost tripped over the piano bench in his haste to stand up.
"Dude--Kurt-- you hit it!"
Kurt barely turned around. He was back in full diva mode, dressed to impress, possessing perfect posture, and only a little bit interested.
"The note, the F--you nailed it!"
"Oh." Kurt had the decency to look modestly touched. "That."
"Come on, you have to show Mr. Schuester," Puck demanded. "That was perfect!" He grabbed Kurt's arm, but the other boy pulled away instantly.
"I don't want to."
Puck stared at him disbelievingly. "You were so sad about Rachel getting the solo last week, and now you're passing that up?"
Kurt turned completely around, glanced at the ground, and then looked up and stared Puck right in the eye.
"The highest note in my register is an A," he said quietly. It took Puck a moment to turn that over in his mind, and then it clicked.
"You blew the audition." Kurt nodded.
"I can't get my voice up all the time, and I've only reached an A once, but on a good day I only need five minutes of prep to get to a high G. I can make the F."
"Well--why'd you blow it, then?"
Kurt was about to answer, then he stopped himself, eyeing Puck suspiciously.
"Why do you care?" he asked. Puck shrugged. Conversation with Kurt was difficult, because he honestly had no clue how respond, so he just decided to wing it.
"I don't know."
There was a long pause as Kurt studied him. Then, in one swift movement, he shrugged, said "All right," and sat on the edge of the stage, feet dangling over. Puck sat down next to him and stared up at the control box where the lighting was fixed, neither demanding nor rejecting eye contact.
"It was for my dad," Kurt said simply. Puck couldn't help it; his eyes drifted over to watch him speak. He liked hearing about people's dads. It was a masochistic ritual. "He tries to be supportive, but on the day I hit the F for the first time he got a call from someone saying that his son was a fag, and it shook him up. If I took girls' solos every chance I got, there would be more calls, so I didn't. Bad for business," he said with a fleeting smile.
"So he asked you to give it up?" Puck said slowly. That was kind of shitty parenting. Understandable, but shitty.
"No. He was pissed off when I did."
"My mom died when I was four. Dad's all I've got; I don't want to hurt him through some stupid song."
Puck looked back at the control box. He could respect that.
"It's not stupid," he said after a long moment.
"Hm?" Kurt said, distracted. Puck looked back, and wasn't surprised when they locked eyes.
"It's not stupid. The song. You're really good. And it was fun seeing you diss Rachel in the middle of it," he said, grinning.
"I did not!" Kurt laughed.
"Yeah you did," Puck insisted. "That line--'you won't bring me down' or whatever it is--you looked right at her when you sang it."
"I don't remember that. I was kind of out of it."
Kurt's voice was really quiet, and he stared at his designer shoes. "Thanks for playing. I needed it."
"No problem. Just… don't go after straight guys, next time, all right?"
A smile flickered on Puck's face as he said it, and then puffed out. That was a really, really, really stupid thing to say. Kurt chuckled a little bit.
"Yeah, because there are so many gay guys to pick from at McKinley," he scoffed. Puck considered that.
"Well… there's you."
"That's a good start."
Puck trailed off, because he really had no idea what to say, and he wasn't sure if he could wing it on this. Kurt looked up again, questioning. It was funny--he had spent so much time making fun of Kurt for how he looked, but he had never really looked at him.
There was something… oddly beautiful about his face. Not in the traditional sense, of course; he knew Kurt looked kind of weird, even for a guy. His face was kind of doughy and stretched. But he liked the combination of Kurt's dark hair, pale-pink skin, and green eyes. He liked it so much, in fact, that he was actually considering kissing Kurt Hummel. Which was totally weird.
But was it, really? When you think about it, there wasn't really much difference between kissing a dude and kissing a girl, right? Lips are lips. Kurt really deserved a good kiss, after being turned down by Finn. It was an act of compassion, really. Finn was such an idiot, he should have seen this coming and shot it down a long time ago. Then he wouldn't have forced Puck into the awkward position of wondering if kissing a guy (who was practically a girl) just once made you gay.
"And?" Kurt prompted.
This was a really bad decision to think through, so instead Puck just screwed up his courage and kissed Kurt, right there on the mouth.
It was kind of weird, but part of that was because Kurt was totally not expecting it and obviously had never really been kissed before. His lips were a bit thicker than a girl's, which Puck had never considered. Other than that, though…
Kurt tasted like strawberry chapstick, with a little bit of lip-gloss still clinging on, which Puck was grateful for. Too much lip-gloss was just sticky and nasty. For a full eleven seconds Kurt didn't react, but then, magically, his lips opened just a little bit. And hot damn, it was a good kiss. Hr let Puck take the lead, which was more than all right, but he pressed back just as hard, and the tiny noises he made in the back of his throat were seriously hot. The kiss got faster.
Puck's heart was pounding in his chest, but he was willfully refusing to think about kissing a guy. It was like, what the hell, a kiss is a kiss, right? Then Kurt did something with his tongue that no first-time kisser had a right to know, and Puck couldn't help himself from reaching out and cupping Kurt's cheek in a move that always drove girls crazy. Sure enough, Kurt let out a soft, breathy moan that was so in-character Puck almost laughed, and rested one hand on his chest, right above the letter on his letterman's jacket.
Unfortunately, they had forgotten that they were sitting on the edge of the stage. So when Kurt tried to turn a bit and really really kiss back, he let out a very unsexy 'Waf' and almost fell off.
They sat there for a moment, Kurt's legs dangling off the stage with his face in Puck's abs, staring at each other.
Then they just laughed. Kurt slipped off the stage and landed perfectly, swinging his bag onto his shoulder. He cleared his throat self-consciously, and rummaged in his pockets. Before Puck realized what was going on (there was a little Puck screaming You just fucking kissed a guy! in the back of his head, and it was getting kind of hard to ignore), Kurt scrawled a number onto an index card and pressed it into his hands.
"Here's my number. You're under no obligation to use it."
With a flirty wave, Kurt sauntered towards the door.
"Hey, Hummel," Puck called out. Kurt paused. He lifted the index card in a little salute. "I'll see you."
Kurt grinned and exited, and Puck sat alone on the empty stage, deep in thought. He liked the school best when it was empty… but the auditorium was just big enough to make him feel a little bit lonely.
What the hell was going on?
Howdy, y'all, my name is Ama and this is my first Glee fanfic! Yay… if anyone here's a fan of CSI, RENT, or Harry Potter, check out some of my other stuff. If not, feel free to leave a review for this. I love reviews! And if anyone could suggest a better title? I would prefer that you actually review the work if you suggest a title, but whatever works.
Oh, and by the way, Kurt's line when he gives Puck his number isn't mine; it's from the movie Soldier's Girl, which you should all go see, and the movie's based on a true story, so credit may actually go to Calpernia Addams. Whatever. It fits, doesn't it?