Chapter 16:

Puck blinked and shook his head lightly, trying to focus on the road before him. With all of the partying he did, he wasn't exactly a stranger to drunk driving. Right now he was tipsy, but he was pretty sure he had driven home in worse conditions before. Key words being "pretty sure". On numerous occasions he had awoken in his car which was parked safely outside his home—no recollection of how he'd gotten there. After one wild party where he got totally smashed, he had actually slept in the back of his truck after he went through the trouble of driving home.

Even so, Puck was running late so his feet pressed a little harder on the gas pedal.

In his hands was a piece of paper with directions to Kate's street and his eyes flickered down to it every split second as he tried to peer at the signs through the darkness. The world blurred for a second and Puck sighed, once more shaking his head.

He probably would have been better off not have having that second can of booze, but it had served its purpose. His nervousness had disappeared; all that remained behind being a vague flame of hopeful expectation.

After more driving and him searching helplessly through the darkness—Puck admitted it. He was perhaps a tad bit lost. He gazed at the street sign as he passed and groaned when he didn't recognize the name at all.

Apparently Kate lived near the ritzier part of town, and that was an area Puck had never explored. Just as he was about to give up and retrace his path, his phone buzzed lightly from inside his pants pocket.

He stopped at the stop sign at the end of the four way street and removed the phone from his pocket. A small smile appeared on his face as he made out the name on the phone. Kate had texted him, most likely to bitch him out for not arriving five minutes early or something.

Flipping open the phone, he snorted when he read Kate's message. It said exactly what he expected:

Puck, where are you? It's not good manners to keep a lady waiting!

Glancing up at the road briefly, Puck pressed on the gas pedal to move forward. However, instead of looking both ways, his attention was instead on the phone in his right hand as he used his left to drive.

Hold your horse's princess I'm on m

Puck never got a chance to finish his message as he his car was rammed suddenly from the passenger side, his world becoming a twisted mess of shock, confusion, noise, and pain.

And then—darkness.

It was early in the morning when Finn's mother got the call.

"Finn! Finn, honey, wake up!"

Mumbling under his breath, he swatted her away, trying to get back to sleep. He had been having an awesome dream that involved him and Kate… as space pilots as they explored the galaxy. If he tried hard enough, maybe he could continue it.

"Finn, you need to wake up!"

"Five more minutes… or hours…" he requested, still half asleep.

Fed up with it, she reared forward and yanked the thin blankets covering him away, a serious frown on her face. Finn was instantly awake and sitting straight up, a scandalized look on his face.

"Mom! What if I had been naked?!"

"Well luckily you decided to wear boxers," his mother sniffed before sobering. "Listen Finn, I have some bad news."

Now that the excitement had passed, Finn already had one leg back in dream land. He stared up at her blankly as he rubbed his eyes. With a glance at the clock, he saw that it was almost three AM and a glare formed on his face from being woken up at such an ungodly hour. Thickly, he asked, "Yeah? What?"

"I got a call from Puck's mom," she began, watching his sleepy face carefully, "your friend Pucks been hurt. He's in the hospital…"

At first, Finn just blinked up at her owlishly, not comprehending. "Pucks been… hurt?" Then, understanding dawning, he exploded, "Hospital?!"

Scrambling to his feet only to trip over the jumbled covers, he began pulling on anything he could find. His floor was littered with unwashed clothing, and his mother watched him with a small frown of concern. When he was fully dressed, Finn turned to her with a desperate look on his face.

"Was he hurt bad? Is he okay?"

"I don't know," she answered, shaking her head.

"We have to go see him!" Finn demanded.

"Okay, honey, I'll go get my keys."

His mom paused in the doorway and watched with a worried glace as Finn began to pace jerkily. As soon as she heard the news from Puck's own mother, her reaction had been the same. Mrs. Puckerman had been hysterical, however, so she hadn't been able to get much information besides "Puck", "accident", and "hospital".

With one final look of worry, she left to grab her things so they could leave.

A deep pain began to bloom in Finn's chest, and it was all he could do not to break down in hysterical sobs. His best friend was in the hospital. Just that single thought caused tears to cloud his vision. If it was anything serious, he didn't know what he'd do. If Puck...died, it would destroy him.

"Finn," his mother called, once more standing at the doorway with her purse strapped around her shoulders. He noted dimly that she had changed clothes as well.

He looked up at her, tears starting to stream down his face and her expression softened. "Come on, I've got the keys."

Nodding mutely, he followed her into the car.

Kurt was in a similar state of panic as he grasped the phone tightly in his hand, not knowing what to do. Puck had been in a car accident? If this had been one month prior, he may have whooped aloud in joy. But he wasn't the same Kurt and that wasn't the same Noah who was dying in a freaking hospital!

"Oh my god," Kurt breathed, terrified. "Is he…?"

"He's fine," Finn assured strongly, although he still broke off into another fit of pathetic sniffling. "I hope… He's unconscious right now, but he should wake up. No, he will. He'll wake up."

"I know he will," Kurt said lowly, wanting to be there to comfort Finn. Yet, more than that, he wanted to be there for Puck as well.

He was a little calmer now, but the panic and fear still hadn't left him. "Should I come visit?" Kurt asked carefully. He didn't think he could get through the day knowing Puck was in the hospital.

Finn agreed immediately. "Yes. Please… Oh god, Puck..!"

The pain in Finn's voice almost hurt Kurt physically. He could practically feel the bond those two shared… And to think, once he had wanted to get between them and break them apart. The simple reminder made him feel like the lowest of scum.

"Okay, Finn," he said as calmly as he could. He was in a panic too, but he needed to be strong for Finn. Finn needed him.

'Me, not Quinn.'

For a terrible second, he allowed himself a small amount of satisfaction at that. Then, it was buried underneath a deep shame when he remembered the situation.

Now wasn't the time for things like that.


Kurt turned toward the sound, his mouth open.

"Are you going to get ready for work or not?"

Oh crap! He had completely forgotten! Right now, with Finn on the phone, there was no way he could go to work. His mind would be so preoccupied with thoughts of Puck he'd possibly hurt himself over something completely innocent.

Holding his hand over the speaker, he spoke to his father.

"Dad… My friend…"

His father was looking at him in concern, so Kurt barreled forward. "My friend's been in a car accident. I…"

"I understand," his father said immediately.


"I'll take you to the hospital."

A genuine smile of happiness began to settle on Kurt's face. Relief flooding him, he raced forward and embraced his father in a hug. When strong arms encircled him, his shoulders began to shake, and before he could stop them, hot tears began to flow down his face.

His father ran a hand through his hair, not talking.

When he finally had his emotions under control, Kurt stepped back and smiled the best smile he could. His father returned the smile before returning up the stairs.

Sighing, Kurt once more held the phone up to his ear. "Sorry, I'm on my way."

"Thank you… Please hurry."

Finn sat beside his unconscious best friend, his eyes glassy as he watched him. White gauze was wrapped around Puck's head, and various tools and instruments were attached to his body. If this had been in any less extreme circumstances, Finn would have found it cool—like Puck was some sort of high-tech android.

Instead, all those machines made him afraid. He was hooked up to so many things! Did that mean that the damage was worse than they said?!

Complicated emotions swirled within him as he studied Puck's face. He was happy that his friend was alive, but he was saddened at the state he was now in. Puck's mother and younger sister were in the room, and Finn could only watch in helplessness as the woman raved and shouted, shouting threats to no one and anyone.

Even though he and Puck were best friends, Puck wasn't exactly close with his family, and as a result, Finn wasn't very close to them either. When Mrs. Puckerman had finally worn herself out and collapsed on the floor in sobs, Finn didn't know what he should do to help.

Puck's younger sister hugged her mother and began shedding silent tears of her own.

Finn couldn't stay in the room a second longer. It was all just too much for him! Where was Kate? He wanted… needed Kate to be there.

He escaped into the hallway and pressed his back against the wall next to the open door. The sound of Mrs. Puckerman's quiet sobs could still be heard, and Finn just didn't know what to do.

He placed a hand over his eyes weakly, tears threatening to spill from him as well. His legs felt like jello and it took all of his willpower to remain standing.


He looked up at his mother who was coming down the hallway, a styrofoam tray loaded with coffee held in her hands.

"Mom," he called, his voice pained.

"What's wrong?" she asked, placing the warm cup of coffee into his hands.

He shook his head sadly and looked down, unable to even open his mouth.

"Hey," his mother said gently, making him look at her, "you can talk to me, you know that right?"

"I know."

A doctor walked down the hall and Finn watched him absentmindedly, lost in thought. A doctor had already informed them about Puck's condition, but knowing what was wrong didn't ease his mind at all.

It seems that Puck had been driving drunk, so he had missed completely the sight of the car speeding toward him. The driver of the other vehicle had been inebriated as well, so neither could press charges against the other, and for that Finn was grateful.

The doctor had said that Puck had hit his head during the crash and that he had a mild concussion, and that not only that, Puck's left arm was broken. They said that if Puck had only been wearing his seatbelt, a lot more damage could have been avoided.

When Finn heard that, despite himself, he had wanted to laugh morbidly. Puck never wore his seatbelt, so whenever Finn did, the mohawked boy would always call him a pansy. Puck didn't know about 'the mailman' and Finn didn't plan on telling him anytime soon.

But… if only Puck hadn't been so bullheaded.

Finn sighed. Thinking like that wouldn't change things. He should just be thankful that things weren't worst.

While the boy's injuries didn't sound bad, seeing Puck unconscious and hooked up to so many machines… it just made Finn's stomach roll.

Frowning, he sipped the coffee idly, not tasting it at all. His eyes began to drift again and he saw a brown-haired boy walking down the hall with a rather serious looking man. Suddenly, the boys eyes lit up and he sprinted down the hallway toward them.

"Finn!" the boy called. "I came as soon as I could!"

Finn raised an eyebrow before looking to his mother. She stared at him as well, the same question in her eyes that was in his.

Turning back to the boy, Finn asked the question that was on both of their minds.

"Um… Who are you?"

Kurt's heart froze and it was with dawning horror that he realized he had forgotten to dress up as Kate. He was a little insulted that Finn had forgotten all the pranks that had been pulled on him their freshman year, but right now, that didn't matter.

In his haste and fear, he hadn't even thought of coming down dressed as Kate! Besides, with his father offering to drive him, he wouldn't have been able to pull it off anyway.

What was worse, Finn's eyes suddenly lit up in recognition. "Oh, I remember you. You're—"

"Kate's brother!" Kurt declared quickly, almost desperately. Realizing what he said, he bit the inside of his cheek painfully. More lies…

Luckily, he had rushed ahead, so his father hadn't yet caught up to him. He couldn't get his father entangled in his twisted web, no matter what.

"Huh?" Finn looked at him carefully, as if searching for the resemblance. When he found it, his eyes began to widen in horror.

Kurt wanted to smile unpleasantly, but managed to refrain himself.

"W-Where's Kate?" Finn asked, not meeting his eyes.

His father had finally reached them, so Kurt had to play it safely. "She's… uh…" What was he supposed to say?! He didn't want to make Kate (himself) look bad, but he couldn't (nor did he want to) come up with a plausible lie in front of his father.

Thankfully, a relieved voice shouted from a nearby room, "He—he's awake!"

Finn's eyes widened and he rushed into the room. Kurt's eyes followed after him and then returned to his father. "Dad, can you wait outside?"

His father nodded, and hesitantly, Kurt entered the room as well. When his eyes landed on Puck, once more his eyes began to fill with tears and his hand found its way over his mouth.

Puck had white gauze wrapped around his head, and Kurt's stomach dropped when he saw a splotch of red through the bandages. His face was littered with cuts and small bruises, and despite the pained smile he wore for his family, he appeared okay. His left arm was propped up and covered in a cast, but those two seemed to be his only injuries. Through with the examination, Kurt once more looked at Puck's face only to find glassy brown eyes staring back at him.

"Kate?" Puck slurred in a heavy voice.

Kurt's eyes flickered around the room, and his eyes lowered to the floor when he saw that all eyes were on him.

Kurt bit his lip to keep from saying "I'm here" and backed up slightly less he run forward to hug Puck or something else out of character for 'Kurt'. Happiness surged through him that Puck was awake, but… he couldn't do anything.

"Kate," Puck repeated, a frown on his face.

Kurt gazed once more into Puck's eyes and was relieved to find a spark of something there. Kurt allowed a tender smile to cross his face and that seemed to be enough for the drugged up teen. He returned the smile brightly, despite how much pain he must have been in.

A quick peek at Finn showed that he was watching them interact with a thoughtful look on his face. Kurt knew Finn wasn't the brightest crayon in the box, but with his slipup today, it might be possible for him to connect the dots.

Who Kurt assumed to be Puck's family just stared at him in confusion. Puck's strained voice once more gained everyone's attention.

"Where am I?"

As if some sort of spell was broke, Finn and Puck's family rushed toward the bedridden teen, smiling and hugging and Kurt wanted to be among them, laughing and relived and happy—but instead, he felt like a complete outsider, standing awkwardly by the doorway as everyone interacted, their joy palpable.

What was he doing here…?

Suddenly, Finn looked up at him with his signature happy grin that was just so different from the morose boy in the hallway that Kurt couldn't help himself but smile back. When Finn returned his attention once more to Puck, Kurt slipped out of the room quietly, leaving them to their reunion.

He found his father debating on what to buy in front of a vending machine down the hall. Smiling lightly, Kurt stood beside him. "Dad? My friend's fine… I think we should go home."

Burt looked down at him, a frown of confusion on his face. "Are you sure? We just got here."

Looking back toward the room he exited, he nodded once. "Yeah, I'm sure."

As much as it pained him, he had realized something today that should have been obvious to him from the start. He could no longer keep this up. That was painfully clear to him now. Who was he? Kate, or Kurt?

Kate would have been laughing and joining in on the group hugs along with everyone else in that room had she been here.

But Kate didn't exist.

There was only Kurt, and he didn't belong.

A/N: *faints*

The later half of this chapter was so EASY to write, but the beginning kicked my ass all around the curb. I don't know why, but my inspiration decided it needed a vacation... so with that said, I can't set a date for the next chapter. Sorry! Hopefully the upcoming episodes of Glee will get my mojo going again. One can only hope...

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this chappie and I would love to hear what you think in a review.