("I love you.")

They haven't even gone very far yet and already he wants to slam his head repeatedly against a wall.

Months of limits, of boundaries, of a strict three-feet zone of no contact between their bodies, of performance. He could take her hand sometimes on stage, small cool palm in his big rough one, and enjoy the irony that he acted a hell of a lot less here in the auditorium than he did around the rest of the school. Now he takes great greedy helpless gulps of her, like an addict, and with an addict's gnawing sense of unfilled guilt.

Twice he let his propping elbow drop and discovered, too late, that she was drawing shallow, laboured breaths, his full weight pressing on her tiny ribcage; he won't ever make that mistake again. She could tapdance on his chest without putting him to serious physical discomfort; yet he feels she is crushing the breath out of him, all the time. He wants to lose himself in soft eyes and hair that's always worn loose and bared summerlegs, hands that he can almost fit two of in his palm. He can lift her like she's weightless; she's pliant as a reed. When her shoe fell off he saw her toenails, painted coral. He wonders if that was for his benefit. She is almost too perfect to touch.

He has never hated his body, its lack of grace and proportion, its stupid, sticky, furtive, sordid needs, like he does right now.

Once, only once, Quinn let him pull her long hair loose; his hands full of it, tangled and beautiful. A button on his cuff caught near the roots, and she screamed and hit him, hard. It took a while for his girlsodden brain to put it together, the golden threads still attached to his sleeve, the tears of sudden pain in her eyes. He has never really managed to separate that impression from the rest of his time with Quinn; that he faintly disgusted her, that he was only ever one misstep from another ringing ear.

He never pushed her, because you don't. But apparently Quinn does have a sex drive; just not one that took much interest in him particularly.

He knows she has fire; it's one of the things that first drew him. Her mouth is eager and warm; she shifts her palm against his constantly, turning circles, tracing the underside of his thumb. She tastes of peppermint and wet heat and bitter chocolate, and when she falls silent and draws that hitching breath when he turns to her, he wants abruptly and helplessly to cry. When he kisses the base of her throat she goes boneless, her muscles liquid; the first time, he nearly dropped her.

He has no idea why she has come back. None. They haven't mentioned what he said to her at Regionals and in some ways he is glad.

He bored Santana; he knows it. Everything about her was filed to a point; her nails, her scorn. He could feel her withering disdain at his predictability, led around by his dick, like all the rest. Part of him still hates that he responded, that he let her roll over him like a tank, and that he only knew afterwards that something precious, something that mattered to him, had been ripped away.

He bets St. Jackass never had these problems.

("She's a keeper." A shark smile. It doesn't reach his eyes.)

He finds himself leading her anywhere the light can't find him, can't expose his wretchedness, where the words that he just doesn't have at present don't seem to be called for. If he doesn't have much time then he will memorise her, the patterns of her little skirts, the depthlessness of her eyes, the surging and releasing of her legs around his waist, the way she trembles sometimes when he touches her face. She wears a delicate gold necklace most days and before now he's found himself fascinated as it jumps, skips, accelerates into a rhythm that still trails behind his own. Holding hands chastely in the choir room, he feels like a fraud.

The girls look at Rachel sideways, like cats, sly and calculating. They want to know that she loves it, that she hates it. That they go all the way or that she fights him off. The boys look at him with what may or may not be pity or disdain. (Okay, in Kurt's case, it's definitely disdain.) He pretends he doesn't see.

He isn't telling Puck shit. Kurt, either. He never talked about Quinn much, out of embarrassment as much as what she wanted, and it's one of the few things he has to be grateful for now. He hopes like hell Rachel feels the same; the thought of the helpless, earnest offerings of his hands and eyes and mouth being laid before such a cool and critical audience makes him want to curl up and die.

(Puck on top of Quinn. Puck's hands on Quinn. Puck's hands on Rachel.)

Sometimes she seems on the brink of saying something; sometimes he has to bite back the words that are so close to spilling out, words that will only be the wrong ones. He wants her so badly and he's never been able to lie. She's growing a little braver, testing his control, making it ever-harder to back away, and he just sees nowhere good this can go.

("I bet Quinn is pretty freaky under all that chastity crap." His eyes are hidden by the helmet. His grin is evil and familiar.)

He wishes like hell he never lied in the first place. Now he has all of the guilt of the lie plus from losing it to a girl he didn't really care for and he still might as well be a virgin, for all the active part he played in the whole thing.

He tries to always make sure it's dark so she can't see his face and he doesn't have to see hers.

One day, soon, he's going to push it too far and she's going to pull away from him, and he will see that look on her face and he just doesn't think he can stand it. And yet he can't leave her alone.