"Noah...?" I just stared at the hands grasping my shoulders. "What are you doing?" Puck loomed over me, wrinkling my pristinely ironed Alexander McQueen. His hazel eyes were locked on the fading bruise below my left eye. With my arms beginning to go numb from the pressure he was exerting on my shoulders, I shrugged out of his grip.
"Who did it?" The gruffness of his voice scared me.
"Noah, my life is none of your concern." Sweeping my bangs away from my face I began to prance away down the hall. Being cornered by Noah after Glee practice had not been part of plan for the evening. The Judy Garland/Liza Minneli marathon on TMC tonight provided the perfect opportunity for a relaxing night of face masks and perusing the Versace website. Humming "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" I was shocked by the yank I felt under my left arm. I stumbled as I was dragged into the closest classroom.
Gaining my footing, I glared at Noah.
"What do you think you are doing Noah!?" Noah stood blocking the only exit out of what appeared to be a Biology Classroom. Whatever bullshit Noah was getting at was being chaotic on my wardrobe. Looking at my progressively wrinkling outfit, I tried in vain to smooth out my lavender peacoat. Deciding to ignore the presence of Noah completely, I sat on the nearest desk and waited for whatever fate awaited me. Observing the room around me, I prayed that noah wasn't intending to utilize the lab supplies around us to ruin my outfit in any way.
"I asked who did it." The question in his voice had now been replaced by a demand.
Rolling my eyes, I began to watch the seconds drag by on the clock above the door, avoiding Puck who seemed to be getting progressively redder.
"Was it Smentowski? Johnson?" Seriously, the hypocrisy of Noah was annoying me substantially. Maybe placating Noah would prevent me from being any later getting home.
"No Noah, it was none of the football players. No reason to worry. Nothing is going to threaten the season. The football team is on track to an astounding 8th place finish." Giving him a small round of applause, I picked up my bag and stood in front of Noah expectantly. "Now Noah, I actually have plans this evening, so if you would move aside, you can get back to lowering the IQ score of Lima, and I will be on my way." Raising my eyebrow expectantly, I waited for Noah to move aside.
"Tell me who did it." He growled at me, once again grasping my shoulders, he flipped me around and pressed me to the door. Slumping my head, I stared at the floor. Noah was wearing a pair of chucks that were worn beyond being a fashion statement and approaching a toxic standard.
"Let me go Noah." The frustration in my voice was becoming more and more apparent.
"Why won't you tell me," His grip on my tightened, "Just fucking tell me."
"No Noah!" Now I was pissed. "What is this? Your out sick for a few days, you really didn't think anyone else was going to pick on poor little Hummel." The twitch of Noah's eyebrow was unmistakable. "OH, afraid that someone is encroaching on your territory? Is that what this is? I'm Puck's little punching bag, can't let anyone else make me miserable. Ah, the sentimentality is just delicious." The bite in my voice even surprised me. Eleven years of bullying seemed to finally be bubbling to the surface. Stoicism can only go so far, and maybe it was my turn to make a point to Noah, not the other way around.
"Thats not wha..." He started
"Come on Noah, its what you really want isn't it? Make the little fag want to cry. Make the fag wish he could just finally go away. Make him wish that he would just die..."
"DON'T... Don't say that." The terror that laced Noah's voice sobered me up instantly. Looking at Noah's face, I felt kinda guilty about my malicious words. I could feel my arms bruising from the grip that had become progressively tighter through my spiel.
"I'm sorry... just let me go. We will both forget this. Move on and I will see you bright and early at the dumpster." Giving Noah my most glorious fake smile, I tried once again to shrug out of his grip.
"Did I do that?" Noah muttered almost too low for me to hear.
"Do what?" I asked dumfounded.
"Make you want to die?" My blood froze at that statement.
"No, no, no, I was just angry and I don't know, I wanted to scare you."
"Oh," I could see that he didn't believe me. Noah then did the most surprising thing I had ever experienced in my life. Pulling me right up to his chest, Noah engulfed me in a near suffocating bear hug. Not knowing what to do, I went lax in Noah's arms. Breathing deeply, I memorized Noah's scent, not necessarily enjoying the scent, just filing the concept into my memory. Feeling Noah's breath grazing my hair, I lightly wrapped my arms around his back, lacing my fingers together. He began to rock me endearingly as I began pondering whether this event signified the beginning of the apocalypse or whether Mercedes' new foundation had been spiked with a potent hallucinogenic. Gaining my bearings, I pushed Noah away. Looking into his eyes, I could see that he was confused by my actions. Grabbing my bag which had fallen to the ground at some point during the exchange, I rushed out of the room.
With a quick look back to Noah, I muttered a meaningful, "That never happened," and rushed to my car. Walking with as much composure as I could, I stared determinedly ahead the entire way to my car and through the whole drive home.
When I walked into the house, I shrugged off dad's concern to my late homecoming with a detailed explanation of my imaginary lesson to Tina on the toxic nature of inexpensive Hot Topic nail polish on a young woman's cuticles. Dad bought the farce and I retreated into my basement enclave.
Flipping on the television, I laid on my couch, letting "Meet Me in St. Louis" serenade my thoughts. I was dumbfounded by what Noah had done. From the initial confrontation to the hug, I was at a loss. Nothing about that situation seemed like it should have happened. And I was dreading what would happen in the morning.
Shouldering my bag the next morning, I looked in my full length mirror, admiring the immaculate pinstripe Armani outfit that fit me so snuggly. From the newsboy cap to the white patent loafers I couldn't deny that I looked damn good. I couldn't wait til I eventually escaped Lima to a place where people cherished me for what I wore. Skipping upstairs I gave my dad a peck on the cheek and strolled out the front door. Humming Cabaret, I dug through my bag for my keys. When I finally found the Wicked keychain I glanced up to get into my car and froze instantly. Leaning against his rusted old pickup truck was none other than Noah Puckerman. My first instinct was to cringe in terror, awaiting the pee balloon or whatever cruel joke was expected. Noticing my flinch, Noah tried to mask his disappointment as he strolled over to me with his cooler than cool swagger.
"Morning Hummel." He said nonchalantly as if his presence was a daily occurrence.
"Noah..." I stood rooted to the spot, waiting for the Candid Camera to appear. Looking back at the house I wondered if my father would get to me quick enough if I screamed. "Did I...."
Without letting me finish, Noah walked right up to me and tugged my messenger bag right off of my shoulder. Tossing it over his shoulder he shrugged for me to follow and headed back to his truck. "Come on dude, we're gonna be late."
"We are going to be late?" I enunciated each word more for my benefit than his. He opened the passenger door and then strolled around to the driver's seat and hopped into the seat, delicately placing my bag into the middle. I knew I must have looked like an idiot, standing there as if dancing nude clowns were singing Taylor Swift and doing the Macarena in front of me.
"Dude, really we are going to be late. God, and you say my IQ is low," I could tell the last part wasn't meant for me to hear. Not knowing what else to do, I walked over to the door of the truck. Intending to just grab my bag and make a break for it, I glanced up into Noah's face. Before I knew what I was doing, I was climbing into the truck. Damn Puck and his pouty lips. Noah sped off almost as soon as my door had closed. I instantly noticed the lack of seat belts, gripping onto the door for dear life.
"Noah, I have a car." Saying the first thing that came to my mind. I stared at Noah, hoping for some sort of clarification to the chaos that has overtook the world.
"Trust me I know Hummel. Do you have any idea how many pools I would have to clean to score that type of car? Damn, the cougars don't even love me that much. "
"Oh yeah, the cougars." I said for something to fill the void.
"Don't worry about the cougars babe, no worry." I nodded along thinking about how strange everything was getting. After a minute, Noah's statement finally sunk in and I did a double take.
"Babe!?" I shrieked in a completely feminine manner. "What the fuck Puck? Am I missing something, did the world end last night, cause hell sure seems to have shown up."
"Dude. Chill out. Just watching out for my bro. If you are with me no one can hurt you. And its Noah." He continued driving, barely acknowledging my presence. My mind was reeling. 'Call me Noah.' 'No one can hurt me.' What had I suddenly missed to inspire this. Oh, guilt, I was suddenly starting to get it, i had guilted Noah hardcore last night, and I guess it was just fair to let him off the hook.
"You don't have to feel guilty. I'm not going to kill myself." I laughed in mirth, he was just overreacting to a backhanded comment. "Haha, and no one is going to hurt me either."
"DON'T. Just don't Kurt. Blackeyes don't just disappear, no matter how much coverup you borrow from Mercedes. And comments like that mean shit. Even if you don't realize it." The force in his voice was shocking, along with everything else happening in my life apparently.
"Okay, just calm down Noah." I reached over and squeezed Noah's hand reassuringly, the same way I remembered my mom doing it before she died. Noah proceeded to lace his fingers with mine. Holding my hand firmly. Seeing the determination on Noah's face I suddenly felt safe, something I had never felt in the presence of Noah before.
"Aaron Moore." I mumbled.
Noah looked at me confusedly, not understanding what I was talking about.
"My name is Noah?" He asked confusedly. I giggled at that.
"No, Aaron... On the soccer team... he is the one who punched me. He was going to slushie me the other day, and I was fed up and I was wearing my new Gucci so i tried to deflect the slushie. It back splashed and got on his jersey and he was pissed so he punched me. No big deal really, not like it hasn't happened before." I answered nonchalantly.
I could tell that Noah's demeanor changed instantly. Jerking roughly, Noah dangerously pulled to the side of the road. I bounced against Noah as he slammed on his breaks.
"What do you mean it has happened before!? We did a lot of shit but we never hit you." This wasn't good. Noah looked livid and confused.
"Well.... I don't know. Things happen. No big deal." Trying to diffuse Noah, I offered him a genuine smile.
"No Kurt. It is a big deal. Fuck. Why didn't you tell me?" What the hell did that mean? And once again I was pissed. It's like Noah thinks he owns me. That just wasn't going to fly.
"Hmmm... lets see Noah. Who picked on me worse than anyone? Who was more cruel than the rest combined? Lets see, oh right, that was you. You have tortured me since we were five. Remember that. Kindergarden. Show and tell, I brought a Barbie and you brought a football. From that day forward it was dumpster dives and slushies. I mean, come on, I go on about how stupid you are but i know thats not true, you mastered psychological warfare at age six. Osama Bin laden would be proud. And the funny thing is that a lot of the time I think that, 'Hey, Noah is in Glee now, maybe one day he will get it, tone it down, be nice,' but you know what, you just sunk to a whole new level. This whole thing. Oh god, thats what this is isn't it? You are manipulating me, making me think you care. Oh god, oh god, oh god." In a near panic by this point in the rant, I launched myself out of the car. Not even caring about my bag, I ran. Forgetting school, forgetting dad, I just ran. I needed to escape. I couldn't handle the fact that I kept doing this to myself , dad has always said that my trust in people was an admirable quality but that is just parent bullshit. After a good ten minute sprint my lungs gave out on me.
Dropping to the ground leaning against a random factory wall I began to hyperventilate. Feeling completely lost, I closed my eyes and let my mind go blank.
I didn't notice the sound of someone catching up with me or the sound of someone sitting on the ground next me. Feeling completely overwhelmed I slumped down onto the ground, curling into a fetal position.
After a few minutes I began to regain my breath, the relaxing circles being rubbed into my back allowing my lungs to open up and get the air they were needing. As I began to comprehend the world around me, I realized that I was cuddled into someone's chest and they were soothingly massaging my head and back.
"Calm down babe. I'm so sorry" The mantra was being repeated over and over. Suddenly jolting with comprehension, I looked into Noah's face. Surprising both myself and Noah, I began to laugh. Not believing the situation, I realized that Kurt Hummel and Noah Puckerman were cuddled in some factory alley.
"Hey Noah." I tilted my head to the side and just looked at Noah, smiling the whole time.
"Hey?" Noah looked at me as if I had just sprouted horns. Obviously concerned that I had finally snapped, Noah looked abrasive about my state of mind.
Hopping up, i pulled Noah up along with me, "Come on, we are SOOOO late!" Looking down at my appearance, I cringed at the state of my clothes. Trying to brush the dust and dirt off my clothes, i realized that my hat was missing. "Shit, my hat" I muttered sadly.
"Its back aways, I passed while chasing you..." Puck muttered concernedly. I gave Puck a smile.
"I am fine Noah. Temporary madness. A common occurrence for the brilliantly artistic." Flashing my brilliant smile, I grinned at Noah and watched as he gave me a reserved smile in return.
"Are you okay?" I could tell that he was worried about me, which boosted my confidence. I had no idea what was going on, but I felt reassured my Noah's concern.
"I feel encouraged." Smiling, I matched Noah's actions from the previous night and engulfed Noah in a bear hug. Unlike last night though, Noah tensed instantly at the beginning of the hug. "uh, sorry I didn't mean to freak you out." Looking into Noah's eyes I saw an emotion that I didn't recognize.
"Not freaked out." Noah whispered lifting his hand and beginning to slowly trace my jaw line. The tickling feeling immediately started to affect my whole body. Noah began lowering his face down to mine at which point I panicked. Jerking backwards, I looked at Noah with a shocked expression.
"Not that, don't you ever do that." I muttered softly. "I won't be that guy, the guy who lets others ruin him and then allows them to take advantage of him at his weakest."
"I'm sorry." Noah muttered defeatedly.
"It is fine, smile Noah, the world is just reestablishing itself to how it should be." Pulling Noah along with me, I began the trek back to Noah's truck. Scooping my hat up along the way. "Damn hat, going to have to get this dry cleaned now." I muttered to myself as we walked back. When we arrived at the truck, I plopped into the passenger seat and stared determinedly out of the window. Insisting that Noah drop me off a block away from school, I walked the remainder of the journey and slipped quietly into second period, knowing that Ms. Cline wouldn't say anything due to my perfect attendance and 'A' average in the class.
Over the rest of the day, I took care to avoid anywhere that I thought I may run into Noah. At the end of the day I secured a ride home from Mercedes, who seemed overly concerned about my late arrival to school.
Chatting about the upcoming regionals, Mercedes surprised me by throwing out a not subtle allusion to this morning.
"He cares ya know," she sneakily slipped into an elaborate explanation of the need for a nice R&B power ballad at regionals.
"Mr. Schuester? Seriously M, not to reaffirm Coach Sylvester or anything, but Mr. Schue is less than thrilled to broach the subject of diversity in the setlist," I laughed in mirth at my declaration.
"Not Mr. Schue Kurt, Puck, he cares." I was left dumbfounded by her statement. Outside of the baby confession I hadn't know Mercedes and Noah to have ever spoken outside of Glee, a.k.a., my supervision.
"I have no idea what you are talking about." I stated bluntly.
"Yes you do Kurt, he told me about earlier. He was worried about your spaz out. And what is that white boy? You ain't trippin on me are you? Cause I am not down with that. If you have issues you need to tell me. No bottling shit up." The fear in her face surprised me, though I felt reaffirmed by how much she apparently cared about me.
Lowering my eyes, I talked at my feet, not willing to look into her eyes. "It sucks Mercedes, sometimes it really sucks. I don't want to be gay. And some days getting tortured just grates on me. And with Noah being all weirdly affectionate I think I just snapped. I mean, come on, Noah hugging me, trying to kiss me, what is that!?" Looking over at Mercedes I saw the shocked expression on her face 'ah fuck,' "He didn't tell you about that part did he?" I stuttered out, sounding a lot like Tina used to.
"No he did not!" She shrieked, "Oh my god! Oh my god!" She was at a loss for words for the first time since we had become friends. Just staring ahead at the road, he mouth kept opening and closing. As we neared my house, she once again broached the subject. "Did you kiss him back?"
"I kinda freaked out before the physical contact part," I spoke reservedly.
"Why!?" She exclaimed. I laughed at her enthusiasm.
"Haha, should I be excited to have Noah trying to kiss me" By this point we were walking into my house, heading into my basement.
"Well, I know he is creep and all, but really Kurt. He is PUCK, the ladies man, the love master of Lima, the cougar slayer. Even you have to have wondered about his talents. And his arms, you have seen his arms, they are so.... toned."
"Wow.... Mercedes.... do I need to leave you alone for a minute?" I reclined onto my couch, avoinding the pillow Mercedes launched at me. Dropping the subject at that point, Mercedes and I proceeded to coordinate our outfits for the remainder of the week. Around 7:30, Mercedes left, and I began to conquer the horrors of English. Completing my English essay around ten, I began to prepare my nightly beauty return when I was drawn to the buzzing of my cell phone. Tapping my iPhone to turn on the screen, i was shocked to see a text from a phone number I didn't recognize
Hey sexy, what are you doing?
I didn't know how to respond exactly. Filing through recent history, I assumed that the person who was texting me was Puck. Deciding the best option was to fuck with him, I responded in the most wholesome manner.
God Finn, where are you? I should be screaming by now!
I was a little shocked that I didn't get an immediate response. Noah had been weirdly possessive and protective as of late. After about ten minutes of anticipating a response I gave up and slipped into my silk pajamas. As I was setting my alarm clock I was jolted by a pounding at the front door. Looking up to the ceiling, I was initially horrified to think what that pounding might be. I sprinted up the stairs towards the front door. If this was Puck I was going to freak out, I felt guilty hoping it was the mob here to 'lynch the fag.' Popping open the door while thanking the Lord that dad could sleep through a hurricane, I was less than surprised to see a fuming Noah on my porch.
Pushing through the door, I could see Noah eyeing my basement door with daggers in his eyes. "Where is he!? TELL ME KURT! Where is he?"
"Jesus Puck, shut the fuck up," I dragged Noah into the basement, hoping that dad had fallen asleep to the 'Deadliest Catch' marathon and wasn't in the process of loading the double-barrel.
I pushed Noah into my room, closing the door, hoping that placing Noah in the furthest room from dad would prevent a scene.
"What the hell Noah?" I could see that Noah was seething, he was looking around trying to find the imaginary Finn.
"Is he hiding, i will kill him." Thinking of no better solution, I slapped Noah, obviously shocking him out of his rant.
"HUMOR Noah, humor. I knew it was you, I was teasing you. Thats, called humor." Realization dawning on his face, I could tell that Noah was embarrassed.
"I know man, I was just fucking with you." Noah got up hanging his head and began heading to the door. " I will just take off." Laughing, I grasped onto Noah and pushed him down onto the bed. With Noah laying flat on the bed, I cuddled up to his chest, half holding him down and half enjoying the feeling.
"You need to calm down Noah. You say I am being bi polar, but so are you. the emotions in this situation are both making us bonkers I think. Haha, just relax." As I spoke up I cuddled myself further into Noah, resting my face below his neck.
Within minutes I had fallen asleep in Noah;s arms, wondering wether this was the start of something, or simply a weird fluke of confusion. Didn't matter though, we would figure it out in the morning.