Author's Note: Yeah. I know. Been a while. This had started out with the intent to be yet another Puck/Rachel, but … I don't know, I sort of feel like at the moment I've expended all my P/R energy, so instead this is just Puck/the world.

Set anywhere in season one, although I guess probably it should be after Sectionals because, um, well, because.

if you know you can't beat them, then

I.

Like with most problems in his life, Puck blames Rachel.

Of course, it probably is her fault, this time. Rachel, with those big eyes and tiny skirts and the way she smiles this wide when she mistakes his heavy sarcasm for deep sincerity. He blames the way that she washed the slushy out of his face and then was so absolutely calm when he told her he was leaving Glee.

Rachel's never calm, not even when things are going well. It's like asking the sun not to be hot or his guns not to be huge.

The point is, it's not like he chose Glee over football because he likes it or anything (or her, he might add) but just because he measured the homosexuality of having to stand face-to-butt with another dude with your hands this close to his balls versus . . . uh, singing. And the last time Puck checked, musicians get more ass than football players ever do, so really that was the only factor in his decision.

It was fairly straightforward math.

Anyway, let's get one thing straight, just right off the bat. Noah Puckerman is not a good guy. He is not a sweetheart deep down. He's not even sure he likes these people.

In short, he is not Finn Hudson.

Choosing Glee was not his way of campaigning for the position of Defender of the Weak. But somehow, someone (Rachel)has been spreading this nasty rumor that he's like, Mr. Marshmallow-On-The-Inside.

Which, Noah Puckerman would like to make abundantly clear, he is not.

He doesn't understand it, and he doesn't like it, because Puck has spent a lot of time making sure that everyone understands just how much of an asshole he is, and you can't let people down if they don't expect anything of you.

"You're like Narnia," Artie tells him one day, trying to look all pathetic just because he's in a wheelchair. "On the outside you're this big, scary cupboard but once you go inside—wham. It's a dream-world of magic."

Puck considers just walking away, but, on second thought, better to quash this nonsense right now. "One: don't ever, ever talk about going inside of me again. Ever. And two: the next time you compare me to a movie with a talking lion, I will end you."

Artie shrugs. "You say that now, but you've been pushing my wheelchair for a solid ten minutes uphill."

Damn it.

--

II.

Kurt's uniform gets the word homo written across the back in angry permanent marker, and as like a single entity everyone turns to look at Puck (including Finn, the traitor), like this is supposed to be his job or something.

"What?" he snaps, settling his guitar strap over his shoulder.

Rachel leans in and murmurs into his ear, "They're looking at you because they want to know what you're going to do about it, Noah. And I say 'they', but of course I'm including myself in that number. You probably knew that but I just wanted to make sure there were no misunderstandings."

He raises an eyebrow at them. "I mean, you are a homo," he says nastily, and if everything thinks he's an asshole then good.

But the next thing he knows everyone is nodding their heads and Mercedes is patting his knee and suddenly what was supposed to be an insult has somehow been turned into like a statement about having moral fiber or some shit, and no matter what Puck says to change their minds, they won't have it.

"You're right," Kurt says, proudly pulling the jersey over his head. He wears it for the rest of the week and by Friday Finn's written the word Gleek across the back of his, Rachel's wearing a T-shirt that says Control Freak and even Quinn has the word pregnant written in tiny letters on the underside of a LiveStrong bracelet.

And Puck is like: shit.

III.

Two weeks after the homo debacle, Puck figures it out. The answer seems stupidly obvious, now that he's found it: kool-aid. Since the kids in the glee club are apparently immune to the social requirements of being cool (i.e., slushies), and instead have this crazy capacity to, like . . . accept people and shit, they just naturally assume that everyone else does, too. Like glee club is their own special brand of kool-aid that makes everyone want to join hands and start singing Kumbayah.

Well, Puck is onto their game.

He's midway through thinking of some evil trick to pull to prove just how not nice he really is when he runs into Tina, literally. She looks up at him and her eyes are kind of weird and bright and the second he realizes that she's crying he spins on his heel and tries really really hard to walk away.

But then a voice says, "…believe that Tina girl actually started crying. That's why she'll never get a boyfriend, I mean, my God do you see that shit she does with her hair? I'll bet she's never even been kissed. What a bunch of freaks."

By 'freaks', the voices from the girls' bathroom are obviously referring to glee, and Puck frowns. He doesn't give a shit what they say about the other glee losers (yes, really) but when mentioned as a group… that included him, and, man, that is just not cool.

So he turns back around and grabs Tina's wrist and when the girls' room door opens and Julianne Howard and her squeaky-voiced friends spill out, he presses Tina against the lockers and kisses her.

She makes a terrified, startled sound and goes very very still, and he rolls his eyes because seriously, only a fucking glee freak would be afraid of getting kissed.

"…Oh, my God!" Julianne hisses once they've rounded the corner. "Noah Puckerman? That's—that's so unfair!"

Well. She has that right, at least.

When they've gone, he pulls away. Tina stares up at him and then splutters, "What-what-what the fuck?"

He shrugs. "Don't mention it," he says, and then adds, darkly, "Seriously. Don't mention it."

She claims that she won't, but at when he walks into glee that afternoon they all pat his shoulders and offer him cookies, and no amount of protest will convince them that he didn't do it to be nice.

--

IV.

Puck takes to following Mercedes around like a lovesick puppy, because he's fairly confident that nothing bad could ever happen with her there, on account of how everyone's afraid of her. Even Quinn, who pretty much eats babies for breakfast when she's pissed enough, never dares to fuck with those two hundred pounds of terrifying sass. And Puck's like, hey, if nothing bad happens, no one can think it's my job to fix it.

What he forgets, of course, is that Mercedes likes gossip the way that Kurt likes Beyoncé, so when his little sister Sarah marches up to him with tears in her eyes, he forgets to remember that he doesn't give a shit when she asks if it was her fault Dad left.

"Listen, turd bucket," he tells her flatly, tugging on one of her ponytails just hard enough to make her annoyed and not sad. "Next time someone says that to you, you take those freaky gnome feet of yours and kick ass, you got it?"

She nods once and salutes before sprinting back across the street to the middle school. He waits a few beats before hearing a loud, surprised shout of pain and smiles.

When he notices Mercedes looking at him with wide saucer eyes, he hastily tries to look annoyed. "Man, isn't she … short…" he says, aiming valiantly for 'vicious' and only barely grazing 'cute'.

Not really his best work, as far as insults go.

Puck gives up. "I know what that looked like," he begins, but she cuts him off by raising a hand and shifting her weight onto one leg.

"Oh, no, honey," she tells him flatly. "You are just a puddle of brotherly love and affection, and I'm gonna tell everyone that has ears, so you might as well accept it and move on."

"But," he tries.

"Not another word, white boy," she says without looking up.

Puck hates Mercedes.

She's… um … fat.

Yeah.

V.

Santana corners him outside the locker room. "Yo, Captain Planet."

He glowers at her, one-fifth and annoyed and four-fifths hoping for sex.

"What do you want?" he snaps, brushing by her because he's found that with Santana, the worse you treat her the more interested she is. He figures it's probably because she gets that sweet, dumb, puppy love from Brittany so she doesn't need it anywhere else (and he's still bitter that she won't let him have any part of that girl-on-girl action, because, seriously, it's about the only dirty thing that's going on in this damn town).

"I've got a problem," she says, straight to the point like always. "I need it handled."

He raises his eyebrows and is, okay, kind of interested, because since when does Santana not handle her own shit?

When he asks her as much her mouth tightens at the end, which is about as close as Santana ever gets to a smile, and says, "I can't. I leant my ladder to Brittany and she lost it."

"How the fuck do you lose a ladder?"

"Who the fuck knows. She probably brought it onto whatever fucking rainbow she lives on and left it there." She rolls her eyes as she adds fondly, "Dumb bitch."

From Santana, that's just about a profession of love, so out of asshole solidarity he shrugs out of his football uniform and accepts. "What do you need?"

She reaches into her bag and pulls out two cans of spray paint. "There's a double-sided billboard off Milton street, between McArthur and Dougal. I need them both … redesigned."

She hands him a slip of paper with the assigned message, and he grins at her. She's so evil that it fills his heart and makes him want to ruffle her hair or give her free weed. "You're such a bitch," he marvels, and when she steps toward him with her hands on her waistband, ready to pay up, he shakes his head. "Fuck, I'm too proud of you to charge. This one's free."

She tightens her mouth again at him and shrugs, leaving him there. He redecorates the billboard that night, and the next day at glee he sees Quinn pull Santana aside. She's got tears in her eyes. "The billboard," she breathes. "That was … your best work."

"Fucking bitches had it coming," Santana says with a shrug. "Teach those whores to fuck with us."

The McArthur glee squad drops out of Regionals. And Puck's like, seriously, they think that I'm the soft one?

VI.

He gets his chance to clear the air of all this good guy crap on the 25th of February. It's Rachel's birthday, and everyone from glee gets invited, and he's like, perfect. One little demonstration of public humiliation and they'll be back to fleeing from him and bringing a spare change of clothes to school in no time.

He has it all planned out, buys four dozen eggs and three packs of toilet paper, and seriously, it's the most epic thing he's ever put together. Like seriously, a work of fucking art.

He puts the eggs in the fridge and leaves the toilet paper in the bathroom so his car doesn't smell like rotten eggs and there's still enough room to have sex in the backseat, but the morning of Rachel's party he wakes up ready to completely fuck some shit up.

He hasn't been in this good of a mood in a long time, like really, this is just what he needs to bounce back from whatever glee-induced funk he's been in. Maybe afterwards he'll get in a fight or something. Yeah. He hasn't done that in a while.

But when he goes downstairs, there's … someone that doesn't belong.

"What the fuck?"

Rachel turns to look at him. She's holding a spatula and Sarah is sitting at the kitchen table with her cheeks stuffed. His little sister narrows her eyes at him in disapproval over his choice of words, but he ignores her, because whatever, she's like eleven, what the fuck does she know about the complexities of language.

Rachel smiles blindingly at him, like this isn't totally stalkerish, and seriously, who let her in? "Hello, Noah," she greets cheerfully. "Your mother called me this morning and asked if I wouldn't mind watching Sarah for a bit because you had errands to do. Are you hungry? I made Sarah some pancakes but maybe you don't like pancakes. I don't know, as I haven't spent much time dedicated to the learning of your eating habits."

"Where did my mother get your number?" he asks dumbly, instead of addressing the fact that at this point she was throwing in words just to fuck with him.

"Oh, I called her last night to confirm your attendance at my party," she says, like this isn't weird, like people fucking confirm attendance for birthday parties all the time.

"You're a freak," he breathes, because this is like a whole new level of weird.

She hums nonchalantly, and he sort of suspects that she's actually laughing at him, and fuck her, fuck her right to her party and back.

"The thing I can't figure out," she says cheerfully as he drops helplessly into the chair next to Sarah, "is why you have four dozen eggs in your refrigerator."

It strikes him, then, looking at her, that he really can't escape these people, ever. They're going to haunt him for the rest of his high school career and then afterwards and then afterwards until he's old and can't even have sex anymore and they'll be there, all sitting on the same goddamn porch or some other gay shit, probably singing or at least grunting in harmony.

And he's like, fuck that shit, might as well get free food out of it. "I like eggs," he says with a shrug. "Now make me some pancakes."