Title: Not a Victim

Author: Spider

Pairing, Character(s): Puck/Kurt, with Burt playing a large role, and a few OCs and Mercedes and Finn thrown in there too. And a touch of Rachel.

Rating: R for violence, rape, and some mild smexing.

Genre: Angst

Warnings: Non-con. Repeated non-con (not graphic, though). Boy-sex. Violence.

Spoilers: Season 1

Disclaimer: DEFINITELY not mine.

Summary: Written for this kink_meme prompt: Puck/Kurt. Puck finds Kurt after or while he is raped. He freaks out and gets protective, worried, ect. while Kurt is (seemingly)non-caring because it has happened before.

Hurt/Comfort please!

Bonus points for asskicking!Puck

(h t t p : / / c o m m u n i t y . l i v e j o u r n a l . c o m / g l e e _ k i n k _ m e m e / 5 7 0 . h t m l ? t h r e a d = 1 4 0 5 7 5 4 # t 1 4 0 5 7 5 4 if you want the original prompt)

Word Count: 17143 (IT WOULD NOT END)

Notes: Yeah. This is why I should not be allowed to roam the memes unsupervised.






Noah Puckerman was one of the youngest members of the Lima Ohio Fight Club. He was one of just a handful of high schoolers, all of them jocks (except one AV kid who no one ever wanted to fight, because he was big and fat and greasy and could kick your ass in a totally disgusting way). Everyone else was older, twenties and thirties and up, coming by wherever the club was meeting for a good night of beating each other up.

Tonight had been a good night for the club, Puck thought to himself as he strolled toward his car in the almost-empty parking lot. They had broken into McKinley and held the club in the gymnasium—not the first time they gathered here—and Puck had been undefeated in the four fights he had participated in (though that fourth one was draining). He rotated his shoulder, swinging his arm in the cool night air, and grinned to himself at the ache of protesting muscles and bruises. Oh yeah. Great night.

As he unlocked his car, Puck happened to glance over toward the dumpsters, and he frowned. Was that a leg? Puck knew those dumpsters very well from all the times he'd thrown dweebs (and fags) in, and that one time he himself was dumped in the trash, but he was pretty sure there was nothing leg-shaped by them. Closing his door, Puck strolled over toward the dumpsters nonchalantly, trying to make out what it was. "Hey! Someone there?"

The leg didn't give him an answer, but as Puck turned around the dumpster, he could see that it definitely was a leg. A leg attached to a body, that body slumped against the side of the metal. Pale hands were splayed against the green paint, matching the pale skin of a bare ass—whoever this was, she had her pants pulled down around her knees, a fuzzy sweater on top, her face hidden between her arms, knee-high boots over skinny jeans. Nice ass, Puck thought, looking her over, before crouching down and touching her shoulder. "Hey there. You okay?"

Now, Puck liked chicks. And sex. And half-naked chicks with great asses. But he also knew half-naked chicks with great asses didn't slump against dumpsters because they wanted to be sexed up. This girl had almost certainly already been screwed over by another guy... and from her unresponsiveness, probably way too rough. Puck was a bad-ass, but he liked to think he wasn't a complete douche. He wouldn't fuck a girl who'd already been raped once that evening. He'd let her borrow his phone, if she needed, to call a ride, and then he'd go home, his good deed for the day done.

The girl's response was to groan, though, and shift, turning her face to the side, eyes all scrunched up, and holy shit, that was no girl. Puck choked on his spit at the sight of a very familiar profile—Kurt Hummel, his best friend's little step-brother (well, technically, Kurt was older than Finn, but he was also smaller, so they teased him about being Finn's little brother). "Hummel!" Puck reached out again, shaking Kurt's shoulder (and now that he was looking, he recognized that sweater as the fluffy baby animal Kurt had been wearing all day today).

Kurt flinched away with another groan, lifting one arm to hide his face again, a muffled-sounding "Just make it quick," escaping from beneath all the fuzz.

Puck scrambled to his feet and backed away, hands pressed against the sides of his head as he stared down at the boy sprawled against the dumpster, trying to make sense of the scene. Apparently, this wasn't the rape victim he had thought... it... was...

No. It was. Only it wasn't a girl. It was Kurt. And Kurt wasn't trying to get up, or even, at the very least, get his fancy clothes off the dirty asphalt. He was just lying there, not even trying to pull his pants up, apparently waiting for Puck to have a go. This wasn't right.

"Dude, get dressed," Puck said weakly. "Come on. Not funny. Pull your pants up, Kurt."

At the mention of his name, Kurt shifted again, letting his arm fall away from his face, one glassy eye cracking open to peer up at Puck. "Oh god," Kurt whispered. "Puck?"

"Come on." Puck took a deep breath, squared his shoulders, and stepped up to Kurt again, reaching down for his arm and hauling him to his feet. This wasn't gay, helping a friend who'd been attacked. Not gay at all. "Pull your pants up," he repeated. "Do you need a ride home?"

Kurt stumbled a little as Puck hauled him up, and Puck could see a dried track of blood on the right side of Kurt's face. He only seemed a little wobbly, though, as he drew his pants back up over pale thighs (and no, Puck was not going to look). "I... can walk..."

"You live, like, two miles from here."

Kurt shook his head a little, swayed, and pressed his hand to his right temple, looking a little green in the light from the parking lot lamps. "So? I always walk after Cheerios..."

Of course. Cheerios had met after school for practice today (like they did most days). That would explain why Kurt was still here instead of at home with Finn, but... Puck frowned. "You're not wearing your uniform."

Kurt gave Puck a withering glare (or what would be a withering glare, if he wasn't looking like he were about to puke all over Puck's shoes). "I don't wear polyester blends unless Coach Sylvester threatens me."

"You had practice..."

"I changed after," Kurt said, before pressing his lips shut tightly and closing his eyes.

"Dude, I'm taking you home," Puck said, hesitating before reaching out to clap his hand on Kurt's shoulder. "Your dad's probably worried sick about you..."

Kurt shook his head, gave a wobble, and wrapped his other arm around his stomach. "No... no, he's out of town. With Finn. Went to a Cavs game in Cleveland, probably won't be back until late..."

"Mrs. Hudson, then?" Puck wrapped his arm around Kurt's back, keeping the kid from falling over.

"Baby-sitting for a friend of hers."

"So no one was expecting you home?"

Kurt gave a tiny shake of his head, and Puck sighed. "Come on, dude. Want to call the police or stop by the hospital or something?"

"No," Kurt said, giving in to the inevitable and letting Puck lead him to his car. "I'll be fine."

"You sure?" Puck asked.

Kurt collapsed into the passenger's seat with a wince, but he sagged back gratefully and nodded at Puck. "'Sides," he said. "If you took me in someplace, looking like that, they might think you're the one who jumped me."

Puck frowned for a moment, then flipped down the visor to check his face in the mirror. Ah. Fight club had left him with a cut and swollen lip and a black eye. "Oh," he said. "Uh... who did jump you?"

Kurt rolled one shoulder, turning to stare out the window. "Doesn't matter. Thank you for the ride."

"Do you even know?"

"It doesn't matter," Kurt stressed. Puck scowled at him, and Kurt shot a glare back over his shoulder at the other boy. "If we're just going to sit here, I might as well get started on the walk home..."

"You're such a bitch," Puck muttered, starting his car. He heard Kurt buckle up, but he didn't so much as look at the other boy for the rest of the ride.

Once they arrived at the Hudmel home (Finn had started calling it that, and the rest of Glee took it up excitedly. Kurt had been the last to contract their last names, but even he would say 'Hudmel' with a bit of a smile now), Puck climbed out of the car and followed Kurt to the door. Kurt kept glancing over his shoulder at Puck with a bit of a frown. "What are you doing?"

"You're wobbly," Puck said. "And limping a bit." That actually brought a bit of color to Kurt's washed-out face, and Puck shifted awkwardly. Yeaahh... rape... "Just wanted to make sure you got home safely."

"I am home safely," Kurt said, his key in the lock, frowning at Puck. "Why do you even care?"

"You're Finn's little brother. I'd want him looking out for my little sister, so..." Puck shrugged and gestured at the door. "Gonna let me in?"

"Are you going to let me keep you out?" Kurt asked dryly. Puck shook his head and Kurt sighed, turning back to the door and pushing it open. "Make yourself at home," he grumbled.

Kurt seemed determined to ignore Puck, so Puck didn't let him. He followed the smaller boy into the kitchen, getting in his way as Kurt popped a handful of painkillers (wasn't five a bit much?) into his mouth and drank half a glass of water. Kurt eventually shoved the glass in Puck's hand (Puck automatically finished it and set it on the counter) before heading down into his basement lair. Puck trailed after him, watching Kurt grab things from his closet before heading into the bathroom, and he stood in the doorway, watching as Kurt soaked a washcloth and dabbed at the blood on his face.

"Why aren't you angry?" Puck finally asked, crossing his arms and leaning against the frame.

"How do you know I'm not?" Kurt asked.

"You're too calm to be angry."

Kurt rolled his eyes. "Not everyone gets angry like you, Puck."

"Are you angry?"

"Why should I be?" Kurt asked, wringing out the washcloth and dabbing at the sleeve of his sweater, frowning at the blood in the white fuzz.

"You got raped, dude."

Kurt froze for a moment, and Puck could see him close his eyes in the mirror. When Kurt opened them again, his face and his voice were both flat and emotionless. "So?"

Puck was floored by that, gesturing wildly with his hands. "That's just... wrong! More than slushies, or dumpster tosses, or having 'fag' written on your locker... that's just not cool, man! There's a line."

"But I am gay." Kurt resumed dabbing at the blood on his sweater. "I like taking it up the ass."

Puck opened and closed his mouth several times. "Is that... I mean, just because a girl's a chick doesn't mean she wants to have sex all the time. Is that... not true for gay dudes?"

Kurt flung the washcloth into the basin and glared at Puck. "What do you think, Puck? No one alive genuinely wants to be raped, straight or gay."

"Now you're getting angry," Puck said.

"I'm not angry," Kurt said, shoving his hands into his hair. "I'm insulted that you thought my standards were so low I would enjoy that."

"Anger's a good emotion," Puck said with a wise nod. "Work it out of your system."

"I'm not angry," Kurt repeated, leaning toward the mirror and turning his head to examine the injury that had been bleeding. "Annoyed. Not angry. Difference."

"Well, why aren't you? If I got raped, I'd be furious. Not that anyone would ever try to rape this." Puck ran his hand down his chest and smirked.

Kurt just sighed, turning away from the sink to turn the shower on. "What's the point in getting angry? Nothing's going to change."

"You could stop this from happening again," Puck said.

For the second time that night, Kurt froze, and then he let his eyes slide around to look at Puck. "What makes you think this was the first time?"

Puck was speechless after that bombshell, and he could only watch as Kurt adjusted the temperature of the water and hung a towel over the curtain rod. Eventually, Kurt turned to face him, and after a moment of staring, said, "I am going to take a shower now."

Puck continued to stare until Kurt sighed and grabbed the hem of his sweater, pulling it off. "Whoa!" Puck cried out as Kurt whipped his undershirt off. "What the hell!"

"I'm taking a shower now," Kurt answered, sitting on the toilet so he could unlace his boots and set them aside. "One usually undresses for a shower."

"Dude, I'm still in the room!"

Kurt looked flatly up at Puck. "I did not invite you in, nor did I force you to stay."

"You're not kicking me out, either."

"Because, Puck, I know that to kick you out of somewhere when you don't want to leave takes far more strength and energy than I have at the moment." Kurt stood up barefoot and reached for the fly of his jeans. "And it also takes more energy than I have at the moment to even care. Stay, go, do what you want." Kurt unzipped his pants and pushed them down. "I am taking a shower."

Puck forced his eyes to stay well above Kurt's waist as the other boy folded his jeans and set them aside before stepping behind the curtain and into the shower. The patter of the water changed as it fell on Kurt's body instead of the hard tile, and Puck could just imagine the other boy, naked and wet, tilting his head up into the spray...

"If you're going to stay," Kurt's voice came a few minutes later, echoing oddly from the tile surrounding him, "at least have the decency to not bleed all over the place?"


"Use the cloth I was using. Wring it out when you're done."

It was so surreal, mopping up his fight club wounds in Kurt Hummel's pristine bathroom with Kurt himself showering just feet away. Puck dabbed at the cut on his lip, frowning. He really shouldn't be in here, he knew. It was really awfully gay to have just stood there, watching, as Lima's resident fag stripped down to soap up, but at the same time...

At the same time, he couldn't have just left. With just his luck, Kurt would have overdosed on the meds he took earlier, and then he'd collapse and drown in the shower or something like that. And then Puck would just feel guilty. So he washed his face and hands and arms as best he could and made sure there was no blood anywhere else on his clothes before heading out and sinking into one of Kurt's white sofas. Finn had his own room now, but Kurt's was still one of the best places in the house to hang out (Burt's tv was the best, but it didn't have any games hooked up).

It felt like forever before Puck heard the shower shut off, and a few minutes after that before the curtain shicked back and Puck could hear wet feet on the tile. He had left the bathroom door open, just in case Kurt fell, so he could hear and rush in.

Kurt didn't fall, though. Puck glanced up and saw him standing in the bathroom doorway, looking oddly vulnerable with his hair all wet and fluffy around his face, wearing nothing but a white bathrobe, his fingers tugging and twisting the sash. "You're still here," Kurt said softly.

"Well... yeah," Puck said. "Didn't want to leave you alone in the house. Just in case."

Kurt shifted from one bare foot to the other, tilting his head down and studying Puck through his damp bangs. "I'm not going to be attacked here," he said. "No one's stupid enough to piss off my dad that much."

"But they attacked you at school."

Kurt shrugged. "So? He doesn't know about that. And he's not going to." He shot Puck a glare oddly reminiscent of a doberman puppy Puck had seen once, something so small and powerless trying so hard to be a bad-ass.

Puck fought his smile down and just stood up, shoving his hands in his pockets. "So... uh... this isn't the first time it's happened?"

"No," Kurt said, looking down, tugging on his sash again before tying another knot in it. "Definitely not the first."

"Second?" Puck asked, his heart sinking when Kurt shook his head. "Third?" Another shake. Puck swore under his breath, scrubbing his hand over his sore face. "Damn, Hummel..."

"It's okay," Kurt said quietly, giving a half-shrug. "I'm used to it..."

"How do you..." Puck waved vaguely at Kurt. "You know, cope? I mean... I've met your dad. If he knew this was going on..."

"He doesn't," Kurt said. "None of them do. And none of them are going to. I just have to tough it out until I graduate, and then I'm gone."

"Yeah, but how do you... pick yourself up again?" Puck asked. "I mean, if no one knows... you gotta cheer yourself up, right?"

Kurt sighed. "You really want to know?"

Puck nodded and gave a shrug. "Yeah. And I'd like to... you know. Help. If I can. I mean... we're both in the same club. Gotta stick together, right?"

Kurt eyed him warily before giving another sigh. "I get home, first of all. Call it a rough day at Cheerios if anyone notices. Take a shower, drug myself up so I can't feel it anymore. And then... I bake."

"You bake?"

Kurt nodded. "Bake. Angel food cake."

"You bake a cake?"

"It's a very good cake," Kurt said, crossing his arms, a pout pulling at his lower lip. "My mom's recipe."

"Ah." Puck backed off the cake and tried for a smile. "I made cupcakes. Can I help with the cake?"

"Drugged cupcakes," Kurt muttered. "I ate three of those and broke out for a week."

"The money was for a good cause," Puck said with a grin. "Artie's bus."

Kurt just rolled his eyes and gave another sigh before going over to the bed to pull out his slippers. After tugging them on his feet, he gestured toward the stairs. "Kitchen," he said. "I don't bake down here."

"It's clean enough to..."

Kurt rolled his eyes. "Kitchen, Puck."

Once in the kitchen, Puck stood in the middle as Kurt pulled ingredients and set them on a counter. "So... uh... how can I help?"

Kurt eyed Puck warily from the fridge. "You know how to cut?"

"People or food?" Puck asked with a grin.

"Strawberries," Kurt answered, brandishing a plastic basket of the berries.


Kurt just grabbed a cutting board and set it next to the sink, pulling out a knife. "Wash them off, then cut the green leaves off, then... oh, what the hell. They don't have to be perfect. Cut them into bite-size pieces, like this." He demonstrated on one strawberry, and then pulled down another bowl, "and put the pieces in here. Do the whole basket." He handed the knife over to Puck, handle-first.

Puck grinned, taking the knife from Kurt and plunging a big berry under the faucet to rinse it off. "Awesome. I can do this."

Kurt just shook his head as he started cracking eggs.

Ten minutes later, Puck had found the Hudmel's stereo system in the kitchen and was trying to get Kurt to sing The Lady is a Tramp with him. Kurt was refusing to sing along, but Puck had him laughing as he tugged Kurt away from his bowl, spinning him across the kitchen before catching him, one arm around his waist, Kurt's back tucked up against his chest. "That is why the lady is a tramp!"


Kurt flew away from Puck as if he'd been scalded, retreating to his cake batter. Puck turned slowly to look up at the man (men, he realized, noticing Finn behind Burt Hummel) in the doorway. "What, exactly, is going on here?"

"Uh..." Puck straightened up, rubbing the back of his head as he glanced between Burt and Finn (and Kurt, who was steadily ignoring him in favor of the suddenly-fascinating batter). "It's not what it looks like?"

Burt stepped into the kitchen fully, clearing his throat again, and Kurt turned around slowly, holding the counter with both hands as he pressed his back against it. Puck realized, for the first time, that he had never actually seen Kurt and Burt Hummel in the same room together before. He had met Burt when coming over to hang out with Finn, and he had been shocked at how different father and son were, but he didn't really know if Kurt was going to be in trouble for letting another guy into the house while Burt wasn't home. Kurt certainly didn't look like he was going to be let off easily...

"What are you wearing?" Burt asked, looking Kurt over.

Kurt reached up with one hand to tug the top of his robe closed. "Um... my robe?"

Puck watched as both Finn and Burt checked out Kurt's robe, his bare legs beneath, wet hair, and then they both looked at Puck simultaneously. Burt's eyes were narrowed dangerously, but Finn just looked to be in shock. "Puck!"

"I didn't fuck him!" Puck blurted out, which made Kurt hiss his name sharply.

"But you were... uh... and he was..." Finn was fumbling for words.

"Puck was just... he gave me a ride back from Cheerios," Kurt said, his fingers twisted in the sash of his robe again. "And then... and then I took a shower, because the locker room showers are disgusting, and he was hungry, so... cake. It's not... anything else..."

Burt stepped up close to Kurt, reaching out to finger his damp hair. "How long ago was this?"


"About an hour ago," Puck said. "Or so. Dude takes long showers."

"Cheerios practice gets out at six," Burt said, narrowing his eyes. "It is very nearly midnight."

"Um..." Kurt fidgeted. "Coach Sylvester wasn't happy with our routine and redid all the choreography... we had to stay late..."

"Five hours late?"

"... yes?"

Burt frowned again, looking over at Puck. "And what were you doing while my son was in the shower?"

"TV," Puck said, after a minute. "I watched tv."

"What did you watch?"

"Uh... cartoons. Something with a rabbit." Puck shrugged. "I dunno. Whatever was on..."

"Why were you waiting for Kurt to get out of the shower?"

"He... um... promised me cake!" Puck pointed toward the bowl of batter. "And I cut the strawberries..."

"Dad, it's okay," Kurt said, stepping away from the counter finally to reach out for his father's arm, setting his small hand on Burt's wrist. "Nothing happened here. No sex."

Puck couldn't help it. He knew he should, but the sight of Kurt Hummel, Kurt Hummel, who was such a good boy that he thought singing in the library was the worst thing a student could do, blatantly lying to his father made him grin. You're such a bad liar...

Unfortunately, Burt saw his grin and turned on him. "You think it's funny?" he asked. "You disagree?"

"Dad, no!"

"Kurt." Burt turned his arm around, catching Kurt's wrist in his hand. "You-"

"Puck," Puck offered.


Ah, so Burt remembered his name.

"Was there, at all, any sex tonight?"

"Well, yeah," Puck said honestly. Kurt stared at him, horrified, and Puck quickly schooled his face into a contrite expression. "I mean, no sir, I did not fuck your son."

Kurt made a little whimper, hiding his face behind his free hand. "I'm going to kill you," he muttered.


"Dad, it's not..."

Burt grimaced, closing his eyes and pressing thumb and finger over his forehead. "Kurt, did you or did you not have sex with Puckerman, in this house, while we were gone?"

"I..." Kurt looked wildly over at Puck, his eyes pleading with the older boy to fix things. "It's not... I didn't want to tell you..."

The despair in Kurt's face was obvious from where Puck was standing. He could either keep on lying to his father, which Burt was clearly in no mood to believe anyway, or he could admit that he'd been raped, or, option three, he could claim that he had had sex with Puck. At least option three was consensual, Puck mused, and something Burt Hummel might actually believe. But Kurt was a good boy and clearly couldn't lie about something like that in front of the subject of the lie.

Puck gave a heavy sigh, stepping forward and wrapping his arms around Kurt's waist. He would just have to do the lying for him. "Yes, Mr. H. I tapped this." He pressed a sloppy kiss to Kurt's cheek, trying not to smirk at the wide-eyed stare of panic Kurt gave him in return. "Your son's hot. Especially when wet..." He reached up, letting his fingers toy with the edge of Kurt's robe, but Kurt slapped his hand away.

Burt had opened his eyes again and was looking absolutely livid. "Get your hands off my son and get out of my house, Puckerman," he growled, releasing Kurt's arm to clench his hand into a fist.

"Later, Princess!" Puck said with a gulp, kissing Kurt's cheek again before escaping past Burt and out the door. Finn stared after him, still looking shell-shocked, mouthing Are you gay! in his wake.

Once in the safety of his car, several blocks from the Hudmel home, Puck breathed out for the first time, letting his fingers unclench from the wheel. Maybe he should have made Kurt tell his dad the truth... but what good would that have done? Kurt would have been humiliated further, Finn would have found out, and Burt would have... probably exploded. Messily. More messily than he'd do for just finding out that his son had been fucking around with a punk. "Good luck, Hummel," Puck muttered, glancing over his shoulder in the direction of the Hudmels' house. He'd see him on Monday, if Kurt survived the weekend.



Somehow, Kurt did survive the weekend. Burt had stared at him for a long time after Puck had fled the kitchen, while Kurt squirmed and held his robe closed all the way up to his neck, trying not to look guilty. Eventually, Burt had muttered something about condoms and being careful before he left the kitchen with a surprising quietness for such a large man.

Finn had lingered, staring at Kurt even longer, before asking "You and Puck!" Kurt could only shrug—he honestly didn't know why Puck had lied, but he wasn't about to set the record straight. The truth was so much worse, after all.

Kurt hadn't felt much like cake when Finn finally left the room. He picked up the whisk for a moment before dumping the whole mess into the garbage disposal and taking the mutilated strawberries that Puck had claimed were 'sliced' down to his room. He popped Titanic into his DVD player, curled up in the corner of his couch, the bowl of berries tucked against his chest, and sniffed. As the movie started, Kurt reached up to wipe tears away with the back of his hand. This was always the worst part of how he coped, when the pain meds were wearing off just enough that he couldn't ignore what had happened anymore, and when the reality of everything just washed over him.

There was no point getting angry, but Kurt had yet to figure out how to stop from getting miserable.



"You're kidding." Mercedes' voice was the first thing Kurt heard as he slipped into the choir room before class on Monday. "Kurt and Puck? No way."

"I swear!" Rachel was the one talking with her. "Finn said he walked in on them in the kitchen!"

Kurt cleared his throat, folding his arms and shooting Rachel a glare. "Gossiping about me behind my back?"

"Is it true?" Mercedes asked, looking up at Kurt. "You and Puck hooked up on Friday!"

"It isn't," Kurt answered with a sniff, crossing the room to drop into a seat away from both gossipers. "Please. I have higher standards than that."

"But Finn said he and your dad walked in on the two of you making out in the kitchen!" Rachel exclaimed. "I think it's so romantic, really, Kurt..."

"Finn wouldn't lie about you and his best friend," Mercedes pointed out. "Kurt... you would tell me if you hooked up with someone, right?"

Kurt massaged his temple and sighed. "Really, Finn didn't see what he thought he saw. I had had a bad day, Puck gave me a ride home, and he was trying to cheer me up with a song and dance number. There was absolutely no making out."

Mercedes was giving Kurt a sad look, and Kurt sighed, dropping his hand and patting the chair behind him. "'Cedes, if I ever hooked up with anyone, you'd be the first to know. Maybe even before this mysterious hook-up. I promise. If you don't hear it from me, it's not true."

"Aww, I should've known you better than that," Mercedes said, grinning and coming over to Kurt's side to hug him. "You'll tell me the moment you get a boyfriend?"

"The very moment," Kurt promised.

Of course, things couldn't possibly be that easy. Puck chose that moment to breeze into the choir room, making a beeline for Kurt. He caught the smaller boy under the chin, tipping his face up and giving him a kiss. Kurt froze. Mercedes squawked. Rachel squealed.

"What was that for!" Kurt demanded, shoving Puck away as soon as he came back to himself. "Puck!"

"You said you didn't!" Mercedes accused, punching Kurt in the arm.

"Just wanted to say hello to my boyfriend," Puck drawled, giving Kurt a wink.

Kurt colored, turning away from Puck. "I am not your boyfriend."

"That's not what the current rumors are saying." Puck dropped into one of the plastic chairs, kicking his feet up on the back of Kurt's. "I figured if the whole school thinks I'm gay, I might as well get some sugar out of it. Your lips taste like strawberries."

"Lip gloss," Kurt muttered, crossing his arms and turning his back on Puck.

"Hey." Puck nudged Kurt's shoulder with his toe. Kurt batted Puck's shoe away, twisting in the seat so his clothes weren't under assault from Puck's filthy shoes. "How'd the cake turn out?"

"It didn't," Kurt said. "I threw it out."

"You made a cake with him?" Mercedes asked. "Kurt! You promised you'd tell me, and now you're lying about this!"

"We aren't boyfriends!" Kurt protested. "I told you, he was just trying to cheer me up..."

"Oh, is that what you call it?" Puck asked, with a waggle of his brows. "Cheering up? Things certainly were up when I left-"

"You," Kurt hissed, whirling on Puck, "are not helping matters. So you can just shut up, okay? It's bad enough Finn and my dad think I've slept with you. I don't need you trying to convince the whole school that we're an item."

"So... are you, or aren't you?" Mercedes asked.

"Aren't," Kurt answered, sliding his hands over each other in a negative gesture, at the same time that Puck answered "Are," with a double thumbs-up.

"Oh dear," Rachel said, looking between the two boys.

Kurt gave a heavy sigh. "Mercedes, you know I'd tell you. We aren't. Puck's just finding this ridiculously amusing."

"So what if I am?" Puck asked with a grin. "Look, Hummel, I'll knock it off if you give me one thing."

"I'm not giving you anything," Kurt growled. Tried to growl. Even Mercedes was hiding a smile at how un-growling his voice was.

"Just a name."

Kurt sighed, rolling his eyes. "Whose name?"

"The guy who really fucked you last Friday."

Kurt stiffened again, biting hard on the inside of his cheek. For months, he'd worked so hard to not show a single crack, playing the role of himself with gusto so that no one, not even Mercedes or his father, would realize how the 'harmless' bullying had gone quite a few steps further. It had been exhausting and painful and lonely, but Kurt had shouldered all of the misery so his friends and family didn't have to worry, didn't have to look at him with pity or concern in their eyes. And now Puck came waltzing through the middle of things, unapologetically making a mess and throwing a wrench in all his careful designs. Kurt pushed himself to his feet, shaking off Mercedes' arm, leveling his darkest glare at the jock. "You can go fuck yourself, Noah Puckerman," he spat, twisting on his heel and storming out of the choir room, ignoring Mercedes' and Rachel's calls for him to come back.




Kurt scowled at the voice and drew his legs up closer to his chest. "Fuck off."

"I didn't think I'd actually find you here." Puck climbed onto the edge of the dumpster and jumped in, a dull clang echoing in the enclosed space. "It stinks."

Kurt shrugged one shoulder. "You get used to the smell."

"Yeah... uh... probably shouldn't have thrown you in so much before." Puck looked around, then grabbed a piece of cardboard and spread it out, sitting in front of Kurt. "Why are you hiding in here?"

Kurt shrugged the other shoulder. "It's safe here."

"It's a dumpster." Granted, the dumpster was mostly empty (trash must have been picked up this morning), save for some cardboard boxes and a couple tied up bags, and Kurt had made himself a little seat in the corner out of cardboard so his clothes weren't touching any of the filthy metal, but it still smelled like ancient garbage... and it was just the other side of a sheet of metal from where Puck had found Kurt on Friday night.

"Well, I couldn't exactly stay in the choir room, now could I?" Kurt asked, tucking his chin between his knees. "Thank you ever so much, Puck." The sarcasm nearly clogged his throat, it was so thick on his words.

Puck just frowned, though, brushing off the comment. "Look, dude, why haven't you told anyone?"

"Tell them what, exactly?" Kurt asked. "Sorry, Mercedes, the reason I never make plans with you on Friday nights is because I might be taking it up the ass from some muscle-bound neanderthal with more sex drive than personal hygiene?" Kurt dug his fingers into his legs and shook his head. "What good would that do?" His voice was bitter, because bitterness was better than defeat.

"We're... they're your friends, at least," Puck said. "They'd want to help."

"Like how you helped?"

"Hey!" Puck scowled at the other boy. "I got you home, didn't I? And made sure you didn't die in the shower. And I made you laugh..."

"And you have thoroughly convinced my father and Finn that I've been fucking his best friend behind everyone's back, and that rumor has somehow spread through school. Again, thank you, Puck. That is exactly how I want my dad to think of me. And Finn won't even look at me now. And they told Carole, and she went out and bought me condoms. Condoms, Puck!"

Puck had to grin at Kurt's outrage. "Never hurts to have some condoms. Should've used one with Quinn, but..." He shrugged.

Kurt cracked his eyes open to glare at Puck. "I am not you," he said. "I was hoping I could get out of Lima with at least a shred of dignity still intact, at the very least, in the eyes of my family."

"Dude, you've been raped at least four times," Puck pointed out. "And you're hiding in a dumpster."

Kurt didn't try to hide his sour expression. "But they didn't know that. They thought everything was fine, and they treated me as if nothing were wrong, and I liked that. I wanted that. Because as long as my dad still looked at me like that, I could pretend like nothing really was wrong. And Mercedes, and Glee... that's my escape, Puck. I need that to stay sane. But now that they know..."

"They don't know," Puck said. "I told 'em... I dunno. Made up some crap about how I thought I saw you with another guy on Friday, and I was just heckling you to find out who. Thought it was funny. But then I figured it was just a shadow or a Cheerio or something like that, and not actually a boyfriend, and maybe I had taken things too far." He shrugged. "Mercedes seemed to buy it, at least."

Kurt frowned a little, dropping his gaze again. Puck sighed and shifted over on the cardboard until he was sitting on Kurt's, their sides pressed together. "Look, dude, Glee's my escape too. I'm not... not escaping from the same crap you are, but I get it. So... I'll knock it off in Glee, okay?"

Kurt gave a little nod, managing to not flinch as Puck's arm wrapped around his shoulders.

Puck rubbed Kurt's arm for several minutes of silence, just the two of them sitting there. Eventually, Kurt let himself slump over, his rigid posture deflating and his head resting on the side of Puck's chest. "If you tell me who it is," Puck said, his voice a quiet rumble in Kurt's ear, "I'll make sure he never fucks with you again."

"It's not one," Kurt whispered, hating how Puck's arm tensed around him, his hand stopping its soothing motion for a moment. "It's several. I don't know... don't know who they are. It's always at night. They're... they're men. Older guys. Not students here."

"What are you doing here at night?" Puck asked, starting to rub Kurt's shoulder again, trying to get him to relax.

"Cheerios practice," Kurt said. "Usually does go late. And I... I hate wearing my uniform, hate how it feels. So I change out of it before leaving. Makes me the last one out, and they're there..."

"Every Friday?" Puck asked. "Because if it's every Friday, then screw Coach Sylvester and just skip that practice."

Kurt shook his head. "I don't know how they do it... sometimes they're there, sometimes they aren't. There's a group. They must meet to do something. No pattern to when they're there. Most of them just go in the school, but a couple..." He sighed. "When they show up, the next couple of practices, I don't change. I endure the polyester and just go straight home, and everything's good, and I think 'maybe that was the last time' and so I start changing again, and then they come back..." He shuddered, and Puck slipped his other arm around Kurt's waist, hugging him properly. Kurt twisted in Puck's arms, tucking himself firmly against the larger boy's side. "I've never even seen their faces. I couldn't pick them out of a line-up. What's the point in reporting them?"

"If word gets out that there's a bunch of serial rapists around..."

"Who would care?" Kurt asked. "They only go after fags, and oh, look, I'm the only one here."

"How do you know that?" Puck asked. "That they only do fags?"

Kurt shrugged. "Okay, they only go after me. No one else has said anything..."

"Maybe there's a whole bunch of guys like you," Puck said. "And none of you are saying anything because you think you're the only one, and if you just said something, just one of you, then everyone else would realize they aren't alone and maybe then people would care, and they would be stopped."

"Or maybe I'd just be telling the whole city that I can't even defend myself against a guy hell-bent on fucking me against a dumpster." Kurt shook his head. "No thank you. My family gets enough harassing calls about my sexuality without needing to throw this into the mix."

"Nothing's going to change if you ignore it," Puck said, frowning down at the boy in his arms. This still was totally not gay. Even Karofsky would be able to see that Kurt was hurting and hurting bad. Puck was just being a good friend. Maybe it wasn't the most manly form of comfort, but hey, they were sitting in a dumpster. That had to count for something.

"I can handle it," Kurt whispered into Puck's side. Puck laughed, and he could feel Kurt's frown tickling even through his shirt. "I can. It's just... it's just an escalation of the harassment I already deal with. Dumpster-tossing 2.0."

"Dude, this is more than just dumpster-tossing," Puck said. "It's... it's sex. And violence. You couldn't even stand up straight when I found you. How the hell did you manage to get home all the other times?"

"I hit my head on the dumpster that time," Kurt mumbled. "That doesn't usually happen."

"What if it happens next time?" Puck asks. "Huh? Or what if worse happens?"

Kurt gave a heavy sigh. Puck could feel his chest rise and fall in his arms. "It's just my body, Puck," he said quietly. "They can do what they like to my body. It's just a thing. I won't let them into my head. As long as they don't have that... I can survive it."

"Since when," Puck asked quietly, "has your body, your body, been 'just a thing?' You're pickier about your body than Santana, with all your face goop and those soaps and stuff."

Kurt said nothing, remaining huddled against Puck's side. Puck sighed. "You wanna know what I think?"

"Not particularly," Kurt muttered.

"I think they're already in your head, Hummel." Kurt shook his head against Puck's side, but Puck just nodded. "You lied to your dad, got caught in your lie, and lied a different lie to cover up the first lie. When was the last time you ever did that, hmm? And you're keeping secrets from your best friend, and you're hiding in a dumpster of all places, because the only place you feel safe is with all this garbage." Puck looked around, surveying the contents of the dumpster, before looking down at Kurt. "It's because you feel like garbage, isn't it?"

Kurt curled in tighter on himself, refusing to answer that. Puck had sounded far too awe-filled for Kurt's liking, as if he were so pleased with himself for figuring it out. Well, congratulations, Kurt thought darkly. You've finally realized that the guy you've been throwing in the trash since middle school now identifies with that trash. Dirty. Used. Broken. Kurt tried to push the words out of his mind as fast as they came in, but once thought, they wouldn't go away. Nonono... Kurt's breath caught in his throat, transforming into a hitching sob when he finally forced it out, and then, to Kurt's utter mortification, he found himself sobbing, unable to stop, fingers clutching Puck's Wal-Mart brand t-shirt, face pressed into his surprisingly solid side.

Puck tensed around him once more, but then his hands were rubbing again, stroking over Kurt's shoulder and back, tugging him close. He didn't say anything, just turned Kurt's face so he was pressed against Puck's chest instead of under his arm and held him.

By the time Kurt was able to reign in his desperate sobs, his face was a clammy mess and there was an absolutely unmistakeable wet patch on Puck's shirt. Kurt was exhausted, though, his breath coming in little hiccuping sobs as he tried to surreptitiously wipe his face on Puck's shirt. First, though, he'd need to find a dry spot.

Above him, Puck sighed, squeezing his shoulder. "You done?" Kurt gave a meek nod and Puck pulled him up, dragging him away from his shirt. He caught Kurt's hands before Kurt could cover his face and grabbed the hem of his own shirt, dragging it up to wipe Kurt's cheeks dry with the cotton. "Okay. I've decided what we're gonna do. You are gonna text your girl so she knows you're not dead, and then we are going to skip the rest of classes today and get you out of the dumpster."


"Oh, and you don't get to complain," Puck said. "Because you totally just used my shirt as a snotrag, and I don't even let my sister do that anymore."

Kurt blushed a little and ducked his head as he nodded again. Puck patted him on the shoulder and withdrew his hands. "Okay. Text her. We've already missed two periods, so it's not like it'll be a surprise we've cut the rest..."

"My dad will go mental when he finds out," Kurt said, digging out his phone and wiping at his eyes again before sending Mercedes a text in reply to the fifteen she had already sent him.

So sorry bad weekend. Will explain all later. Not feeling well wont be in class today.

Almost immediately, Mercedes replied.

Feel better! Imma come over after school w/ ur work so b ready 2 explain!

Kurt sagged as he stared at the message on his phone's screen, and Puck leaned over to read it. "You really should just tell her," he said.

"She'll never look at me the same way," Kurt answered, closing his phone and returning it to his bag. "I don't want to lose her."

Puck snorted. "As if there's anything that can pry that girl off your arm."

"This could," Kurt whispered.

Puck just rolled his eyes and got to his feet, grabbing Kurt's arms and hauling him up as well. "Come on. First stop, I need a new shirt."

"Then what?"

"Then lunch. Breadstix. I'm starving."



It took Kurt a while to regain his mental footing, and by the time he had, he was sitting across from Puck at Breadstix, tapping a breadstick against his plate hard enough to crumble it. Somehow, he had made it through Puck's disaster-zone of a house (and his room) while Puck changed his shirt, and he hadn't even curled his lip (too much) at the state of Puck's closet.

Puck was slouched on the other side of the table, arms spread along the back of the booth, holding his glass of orange soda in one hand. "This the first time you've ever played hooky, Hummel?"

"No," Kurt said, with a shake of his head. "Though I try not to do it too often."

"Too much of a good boy."

Kurt sighed, dropping the breadstick on his plate and brushing his hands off before pushing it away. "I'm enough of a disappointment at home without needing to add a poor attendance record to the mix."

"Oooh, you love your daddy too much."

Kurt gave Puck a withering stare. "As if you wouldn't do anything for your mom. Or your sister."

Puck harrumphed and took a gulp of his soda. "Point. So. You don't skip school in order to keep your dad happy. But you've done it before."

"Last time was last year," Kurt said, folding his hands in his lap. "Just before Regionals. Finn was... being all weird. He didn't like us sharing a room. So I... redecorated. As an apology. A peace offering."

Puck was laughing before Kurt even finished. "Yeah, that went over well. That's when he crashed at my place, right?"

Kurt nodded. "I really didn't mean to get him thrown out..."

"Dude, your dad is scary."

Kurt nodded again, staring down at his fingers. "He just wants the best for me."

"Why don't you tell him? Hell, if he'd throw golden-boy Finn Hudson out of his house for saying 'faggy' to your blanket, he'd come roaring to your defense if he found out about this whole rape thing."

"Can you stop saying rape?" Kurt asked, hunching over slightly.

"Why? It's what happened, isn't it?"

"I don't like that word."

"Why not?"

Kurt gave a little shrug. "Rape implies there's a victim and an aggressor."

"And... you're not a victim?"

"I don't like being a victim."

Puck raised an eyebrow, and Kurt scowled at him, brushing his bangs into place and setting his shoulders back, lifting his chin, drawing his fabulous personality around him like practically-visible armor. "I am not a victim, Noah Puckerman. No matter what people do to me, whether it be the jocks at school, Vocal Adrenaline being idiots, or these anonymous strangers behind a dumpster, it cannot bring me down. In just a little over a year, I'm graduating, and I will be going to a college in a big city, and I will get out of this cowtown and never return. Because ultimately, Puck, the crap I'm dealing with here will only make life all the sweeter when I take over the world."

"Take over the world?"

Kurt shrugged dismissively. "I haven't yet decided if I'll be pursuing a fashion career or one of stardom, but before I die, the whole world will have heard of me."

Puck laughed, crunching on one of the stale breadsticks. "You know, Hummel, I think if anyone can get out of here, it'll be you. Even before Rachel."

Now it was Kurt's turn to raise an eyebrow, and Puck nodded. "You've got more drive than she does. I mean, yeah, she natters on and on about becoming a star, but at the same time, she fits here. You?" He waved a breadstick at Kurt's outfit. "You don't. Just one look at you, and everyone here knows you're destined for something bigger than Lima. No one can mistake you for a Lima loser."

Kurt smiled a little, glancing down at his Alexander McQueen shirt and smoothing out an imaginary wrinkle. "I... do try..."

"You'll get out," Puck declared, popping the last of the breadstick in his mouth. "We'll read about you someday in the paper, Kurt Hummel, accepting this award or that one, one of 'Lima's own...'"

"Flattery will get you nowhere," Kurt declared, but he still had that tender little smile on his face. It wasn't very often someone other than his dad (or Carole, now) offered him praise.

"'S'not flattery if it's just a fact," Puck said, glancing around until he caught their waiter's eye. "You'll get out of here."

After lunch, Puck dragged Kurt to Lazer Quest, a laser tag court not far from the local community college, where they joined up with a group of co-eds not in class themselves. They still managed to hold their own—Puck came out with the second-most kills of the group, and Kurt managed to be hit the least ('A lifetime of running from bullies has finally paid off,' he had murmured to Puck when he saw his ranking). After laser tag, Puck made the mistake of taking Kurt to the mall for pretzels. Kurt ended up dragging him into fifteen different stores and buying him some 'sorely needed wardrobe updates.' Puck had born it all with a long-suffering grin pasted on his face—there was no denying that Kurt's happiness was genuine when he was surrounded by clothing and holding a credit card. And some of his new clothes actually were kinda bad-ass (though some would only be used in Glee costumes, if ever).

Eventually, finally, the pair ended up collapsed on Kurt's couch, one on either end, their legs tangled together in the middle, a bowl of popcorn (no butter, for Kurt, but salted, as a concession to Puck's tastes) balanced on their knees, watching Psycho Beach Party and making snarky comments toward the characters while throwing popcorn at each other.

"This cannot be Finn's," Kurt said, plucking popcorn from his collar.

"Why not?" Puck asked, tossing more popcorn, trying to get a piece down Kurt's shirt. "Finn's got horrible taste in movies, and he likes a good slasher flick..."

"This isn't a good slasher fic," Kurt said, flicking the popcorn back Puck's way. "And the homoerotic subtext is far too heavy-handed for even Finn to miss."

"You like it," Puck teased. "Look at all those half-naked-"

"Mostly-naked," Kurt corrected.

Puck just grinned. "Mostly-naked guys prancing around on the beach. All oiled up... glistening in the sun..."

"Shut up!" Kurt kicked at Puck, scrunching up his nose at the other boy.

Puck kicked back, still grinning. "You're totally gonna steal this from Finn's collection for wank material, aren't you? Or do you risk real gay porn?"

"I don't..." Kurt stilled on the couch, curling his legs toward him a little, eyes snapping back to the screen with far too much attention to be real. Puck frowned a little, pushing himself up.

"What, don't collect wank material? You're still a dude, even if you are gay..."

Kurt pressed his lips together tightly, worming his legs out from the mostly-empty bowl of popcorn and curling up on his half (more like his third: Puck was bigger) of the couch. "I don't... don't wank."

"What!" Kurt's careful withdrawal was rather pointless after all, as Puck suddenly sat upright, upending the bowl on the floor. Kurt spared it a glance and an even further thinning of his lips, but he didn't look Puck's way. "You are still a guy, though, right? I mean, being gay, that just means you get turned on by a dick instead of tits. It doesn't mean you don't get turned on... right?"

"It's not a gay thing," Kurt mumbled, looking away from Puck and crossing his arms over his chest.

"Then what sort of thing is it?" Puck demanded.

Kurt squeezed his eyes shut before admitting, "It's a... I haven't... since it started. Since they started..."

"They..." Puck frowned a little, looking at Kurt's extreme discomfort. "The dumpster guys?" Kurt gave a tight nod, and Puck whistled under his breath, rubbing his hand over his head. "How long's it been?"

Kurt was practically curled into a ball, his chin tucked against his chest. "... couple of months."

Puck was making no secret of his shock as he stared at Kurt, and Kurt really wished he could just be swallowed by the couch cushions. He could feel the weight of Puck's gaze on him, so he rolled a little, getting his knees between Puck and himself, a primitive line of defense.

"You haven't gotten off in months?"

"Why are we even having this conversation?" Kurt asked, desperately trying to change the topic.

"Because things are making a lot more sense now." Kurt's eyes flew open at the feel of Puck's hands settling on his knees. The other boy was in front of him on the couch now, looming over Kurt's legs. "Months?"

Kurt gave a heavy sigh as he glanced up at Puck. He wouldn't be allowed to avoid answering, so he let his gaze fall back to the movie still playing, shrugging one shoulder and hugging his arms tighter against his chest. "Aside from the rare dream... no."

"What do you do if you wake up with a boner?"

"I don't."

"Fuck, really?"

Kurt looked back at Puck with a scowl, uncrossing his arms to push himself more upright. "Yes, really, Puck. I have nightmares more often than wet dreams—more often than any dreams—and I have absolutely no desire to touch myself after... after that. So no, I haven't gotten off in several months, and I don't particularly want to."

"Because you feel like garbage."

Kurt turned away from Puck again, refusing to answer that. "If you're just going to mock me..."

"Hey." Puck's voice was quiet as he reached out, setting two fingers on Kurt's cheek and turning his head back. "I'm not mocking you, Kurt. I'm trying to figure out the best way to help you."

"I don't need help."

"Of course not," Puck said, with absolutely no trace of patronization in his voice. "But I bet you want it. Only you can't ask for it, because you're too prissy and stuck-up for that. So I'm gonna just have to help you anyway." He nodded. "You've made out with Brittany before, right?"

"What does that have to do with anything?" Kurt asked, narrowing his eyes.

"And even though she was a chick, that didn't make you straight, right?"

Kurt sighed. "Making out with another person does not change your sexuality, Puck. You are who you are. You can choose to act in agreement with your desires or contrary to them, but you can't change the origin of your attractions."

"Right," Puck said. "So that basically means, if I make out with you, that doesn't make me any gayer than you making out with Brittany made you straight."

Kurt's eyes widened. "Wha-what!"

"This doesn't count," Puck said, pushing Kurt's legs aside and crawling up over him. "Because I'm straight. I'm just going to help you feel less like garbage." He had his hands on the arm of the sofa now, on either side of Kurt, smiling down at him. "Someone needs to remind you that your body can do so much more than hurt, and seeing as how I'm the only one around..."

"Puck..." Kurt's fingers were digging into the white cushions of the couch, obvious alarm warring with shock on his face.

"Tell me to stop," Puck murmured, before leaning in close to brush his lips over Kurt's, "and I will."

Kurt didn't tell Puck to stop, just held his breath as Puck kissed him. Puck huffed a little laugh, sliding one hand over to rub the corner of Kurt's jaw with his thumb. "You know, it's more fun if you kiss back... but hey, whatever you want to do is fine." He pressed their mouths together again, running his tongue over Kurt's lower lip.

"Why?" Kurt breathed, his eyes fluttering closed as Puck took advantage of the opportunity of Kurt's open mouth to suck at his lip. "You're not..."

"Because." Puck was talking into the kiss, his voice barely loud enough for Kurt to hear. "You'll take over the world some day, and when that happens, I want you to remember me fondly." Kurt had to smile a little at that, feeling Puck's answering smile against the corner of his mouth. "Because," Puck repeated, "you're hurt, and I'm the only one who knows. And I... I've added to that hurt, in the past. It's only right that I try to take away from it now." Puck drew back a little, pressing a kiss to the tip of Kurt's nose. "If you'll let me."

Kurt drew in a shaky breath, studying Puck's face in the flickering light from the long-forgotten movie. He reached up, tracing his fingers along Puck's cheekbone, biting on his lip as he thought. "Promise," he whispered, hating how pathetic his voice sounded right now, "promise you won't... use this against me?"

"Promise," Puck said, rubbing his thumb along the shell of Kurt's ear. "Besides, if anyone finds out, it'll be bad for me too, right?"

Kurt gave a little nod, still staring up at Puck, before he slid his hand around the side of Puck's head, fingers running through the short hair at the base of his skull as he drew Puck down for another kiss.

They kissed as Chiclet surfed, and they kissed as people died, and they kissed throughout the exorcism and luau and the credits. They kissed as Puck rolled them over so Kurt wasn't looking so trapped beneath him, and they kissed as Puck slipped popcorn under Kurt's collar. They didn't kiss as Puck fished the popcorn out from Kurt's shirt, though. No, Kurt sat up for that, straddling Puck's waist, his head thrown back as he whined, Puck's fingers tracing lines of fire over his skin. They were soon kissing again when Kurt leaned forward, bracing his arms on the side of the couch as he rocked into Puck's hand pressed against his crotch, and Puck kissed Kurt's face and throat after he had come with a whimper, now curled up against Puck's side, pressed tight so neither of them would fall off the small couch. Puck rubbed circles over Kurt's heaving side, his other arm curled around Kurt's waist to keep him in place. Kurt just laid limply beside him, his face lax as Puck brushed kisses over his flushed cheeks.

Puck waited until Kurt opened his eyes again before offering him a smile and another kiss to his lips. "You okay?"

Kurt nodded weakly, a tired smile flickering briefly over his own mouth. "Thank you..."

"Don't mention it."

Puck didn't offer any complaints as Kurt nuzzled under his chin, one arm winding around Puck's own waist. Kurt was grateful for that. He just wanted to be held now, reassured that this wasn't like all those times against the dumpster when he was cold and scared and alone. He had Puck here beside him now, and while Puck wasn't the most loveable acquaintance Kurt had, Kurt did appreciate his directness (and his need to fix things with either violence or sex. Laser tag had been cathartic. Kurt had pretended he was shooting all of his abusers). Puck was warm and solid and very much here, even if the hard line against Kurt's thigh was making nervous butterflies in his stomach (and not in a good way). He should reciprocate. He really should. Puck got him off, so it would only be fair for Kurt to return the favor. All he had to do was just reach between them, press his fingers against Puck's erection...

Kurt's stomach roiled in protest, and Kurt swallowed quickly, rolling away from Puck and to his feet, dusting himself off, automatically tugging at his clothes to straighten them and make sure he was presentable. As Puck sat up, frowning, Kurt's fingers skimmed over damp denim and he hissed, shooting Puck a scowl.

"What's wrong?" Puck asked, his legs spread, the bulge in his own pants obvious even in the dim light of the room.

"These jeans cost more than your entire wardrobe!" Kurt snapped, refusing to even look between Puck's legs.

"Really?" Puck asked. "Because you just dropped, like, two-fifty on new clothes for me today."

"$265.32," Kurt retorted, stalking toward his closet. "And yes, I'm taking that into consideration." He tensed as Puck came up behind him, fingers clenching on the edge of his closet door. "No, stop, back up, right now..."

As Puck backed away, Kurt turned around slowly to look at him, his arms once again folded across his chest defensively. "You okay?" Puck asked, standing about four feet away.

Kurt gave a curt nod, biting his lip. "I just... don't like people behind me. Especially not..." He let his eyes flick briefly to Puck's crotch before back to his face.

Puck actually softened a little, stepping up to Kurt and reaching out to brush his disheveled bangs aside. "It's okay, dude. You've done enough for one day, I think. I'll just..." He jerked his thumb over his shoulder with a shrug. "I'll use the upstairs bathroom, if you wanna use yours. Get cleaned up before your girl shows up and demands to know what we've been up to."

Right. Right. Mercedes was coming over after school, which would be... Kurt glanced at his clock and frowned. Very soon. He gave another nod. "You know where it is?"

"I've been over before," Puck answered with a smirk, heading for the stairs.

Kurt ended up deciding on a very quick shower just to refresh himself before he pulled on his new outfit—black pants, black shirt, black jacket, and black boots. He just felt like black today. Kurt caught a glimpse of his reflection in the mirror as he styled his hair and sighed. Mercedes would be able to tell immediately that something was wrong... but he still didn't want to tell her the truth. He didn't even know if he should tell her about Puck. On the one hand, he had promised, the moment he hooked up with a boy, she would know, but on the other...

On the other, Puck wasn't gay, and he was very adamant about not being gay. Did it even count? Kurt groaned, setting down his brush and throwing open the bathroom door. He was as ready for Mercedes as he'd ever be.

"'Bout time you finished," Puck said from his sprawl on Kurt's couch, Scrubs playing on the tv. "Feeling better?"

Kurt nodded, pushing Puck's feet off the couch before taking a seat at the other end. "Much better. Thank you."

Puck smirked, putting his feet in Kurt's lap after the smaller boy was settled. Kurt shot Puck a dry look, but he ended up resting one hand on Puck's foot, rubbing absently. "So... what just happened?"

"Well, the janitor just tripped J.D., and now-"

Kurt shook his head. "Not the show. With... with us. What... you aren't gay. You're very insistent that you aren't gay..."

"Still not."

"But... we made out." Kurt glanced sideways at Puck. "You started it."

"You haven't gotten off in months," Puck replied calmly. "Sexual tension can kill you, you know." Kurt frowned, and Puck smirked. "Can kill me, at least."

"I believe we have established, several times, actually, that I am not like you."

"Do you regret it?"

Kurt sighed, resting one elbow on the arm of the couch and his head on that hand. "No... it was... nice."

"Just nice?" Puck looked affronted. "I'll have you know, the Cheerios have voted me best male kisser six months in a row."

Kurt smiled a little, shaking his head. "Ah, but Brit's won best female kisser eight times, and I made out with her.."

"You enjoyed kissing Brittany more than you enjoyed kissing me?"

"I didn't say that..."

"Damn straight you didn't," Puck said, crossing his arms and giving a nod. "Because I got you off."

"And we're never going to talk about that again."

"Why not?"

"Puck..." Kurt sighed, twisting to look at the other boy. "Do you want to be my boyfriend?"

Puck scowled. "One makeout session does not tie me down, Hummel."

"Precisely," Kurt replied. "You don't want. And I... I don't want." He shook his head, looking down at Puck's feet in his lap. "I'm getting enough stress from Cheerios and Glee and school and... and the dumpster guys. The last thing I need is to add relationship stress to that. Let's just agree not to talk about this again, okay? It was... nice. Very nice. And I thank you. But now... let's just leave it."

"Yeah... okay," Puck said. "Fine. But you'll owe me. Dunno what yet, but it'll be something."

"I bought you clothes..."

"Yeah, but I didn't ask for them, so it doesn't count." Puck smirked at Kurt. "You'll still owe me."

"Worth a try," Kurt said, patting Puck's feet as he heard the doorbell ring. "That'll be Mercedes. Let me up."

Mercedes greeted Kurt with a big hug, squeezing him tight. "Sweetie, I was so worried when you ran out this morning! Where'd you go?"

"Had to get away from Puck's idiocy," Kurt said, squeezing Mercedes back before stepping aside to let her in. "Sadly, he chased me down and made me skip school with him."

"You said you weren't feeling well," Mercedes said, looking skeptically at Kurt.

"I wasn't," Kurt answered honestly. "Which is why he made me skip school. We went shopping. I feel better now."

Mercedes laughed, though she socked Kurt in the arm. "Shopping without me! Shame on you!"

"'Sup, 'Cedes." Puck had apparently grown bored of being left in the basement, so he had wandered upstairs and was now leaning against a doorframe, giving Mercedes a nod. "I didn't get him killed."

"Good job, Puck," Mercedes said with a roll of her eyes. "I'm more impressed you didn't die. A Kurt Hummel Shopping Spree is no place for a novice shopper."

"I went easy on him," Kurt assured Mercedes. "Didn't even break three hundred today."

"Honey, you are depressed!" Mercedes exclaimed, pressing a hand to Kurt's forehead. "Is that a fever? Your hair's damp..."

"I... took a shower." Kurt batted Mercedes' hand away and offered her a thin smile. "Are you hungry? Want something to eat?"

"I am," Puck said. "You didn't offer me anything..."

Mercedes let Kurt distract her with small talk for about an hour in Kurt's room (during which time Finn poked his head in to say he was home, and Rachel was too, and they'll be in his room and please don't need anything (to which all three of them snickered)) before she set her glass down and crossed her legs, looking expectantly at Kurt. "So. Kurt. What's with all the running lately?"

"What do you mean?" Kurt asked, his face carefully blank, though he knew she wouldn't buy it for a minute. He'd have to tell her. Have to tell her something, at least.

"You ran out of the choir room today," Mercedes said. "And you ran out of school. And now you're trying to distract me with your new scarves—which are gorgeous, by the way—but why so much running? Did it have to do with that Cheerio after practice on Friday? Was he heckling you? Just because Coach Sylvester is showing blatant favoritism doesn't mean you should suffer for it..."

"It's..." Kurt found his eyes sliding over to Puck before he forced himself to look back at Mercedes. "It... wasn't a Cheerio, Mercedes."

"Oh?" She looked intrigued at that admission. "Who was it, then?"

"I... have no idea," Kurt said, letting his gaze drop before he took a deep breath. "I... I don't know who any of them are, 'Cedes, but there's two or three guys who seem to meet up at the school for some reason or another, usually on Fridays, but not every Friday. And they... they catch me coming out of Cheerios practice and think it's funny to..."

"To what?" Mercedes leaned toward Kurt, resting her hand on his tightly clenched ones, the worry obvious in her voice.

To rape me. But Kurt couldn't say it. He couldn't admit that to Mercedes. So he just offered another tight smile and a shrug. "To rough me up. Last Friday..." He reached up, brushing his hair back, showing Mercedes the healing cut just above his hairline that had bled all over his face when Puck found him. "They shoved me into the side of the dumpster. I must have blacked out, because next thing I knew, Puck was standing over me and I'd lost a couple hours."

"Oh boo..." Mercedes' fingers brushed just above the cut, and she leaned in to press a kiss to the injury. Kurt smiled, twisting around to rest his head on her shoulder before she could pull away. "Why didn't you say anything?"

"Have to prove I'm a horribly macho stud," Kurt answered, just barely managing to keep a straight face. Puck snorted while Mercedes rolled her eyes and thwapped Kurt on the un-injured side of his head. "Really, 'Cedes, I just didn't want anyone to worry. It's just an escalation of the bullying. Nothing I can't handle..."

"Well, you shouldn't have to handle it," Mercedes insisted.

"Exactly what I've been saying," Puck said. "But he won't listen to me."

"He'll listen to me." Mercedes caught Kurt's face in her hands, making him look at her. "You? Are far too fabulous to be knocked out against dumpsters. That's scary bullying, Kurt. That's dangerous bullying. That's, like, first step to turning up dead in one of those dumpsters..."

"And you can't die until you've taken over the world," Puck added.

"Exactly. Kurt..."

Kurt reached up, covering Mercedes' hands on his cheeks with his own. "Mercedes, there's not much I can do about this. I don't know who they are, except that they're older than students. They always go after me from behind; I never see their faces. And I never know when they'll be lying in wait. Their presence seems completely random. I can't do much of anything except endure it. But I am very good at enduring..."

"There has to be something," Mercedes said, looking despairingly at Kurt. "Maybe talk to Coach Sylvester? If it's after Cheerios... maybe she could give you a ride home or something?"

Kurt laughed. "As if Coach Sylvester would coddle any of her Cheerios!"

"I could give you a ride home," Puck said. "I've usually got an open schedule when Cheerios lets out for the day, so just give me a call." He nodded slowly, smiling a little. "Yeah. Give me a call. I'd rather give you a ride home every day, Hummel, then hear you got yourself killed. I'd have to live with that guilt for the rest of my life, you know..."

"I'd offer rides myself, if I had a car," Mercedes said with a shrug. "Do it, Kurt. Get Puck's number and call him if you think those guys are there. Avoidance is a key strategy in surviving bullies."

"Avoidance and non-reaction," Kurt said. "I know."

"Promise us you'll call for rides." Mercedes shook Kurt's head back and forth gently. "Promise, or I won't let go!"

"I promise," Kurt said with a little laugh. "I promise, I'll give Puck a call for a ride if I think I'm in any danger. Promise, promise, promise."

"Good boy," Mercedes said, releasing Kurt and giving him a hug before she turned on Puck, pointing her finger at him. "And you! You'd better pick him up if he calls you, because if he winds up dead, I'm putting full blame on your big shoulders. You got me?"

"Yeah, yeah, I promise," Puck said, stepping up to clap his hand on Kurt's shoulder. "Not like anyone else in Glee'd be able to cover his parts if he gets deadified."




Kurt hesitated in the kitchen, hearing his father call to him from the living room. It had been almost a week and a half since the last attack, and Burt hadn't said more than fifty words to Kurt in that time (Kurt counted. 43. 44 now.), and all in response to things Kurt had said. Kurt took his glass of water with him as he moved to the doorway of the living room. "Yes, Dad?"

Burt was sitting on the couch, staring at the blank tv screen, rubbing his forehead. "Have a seat." He gestured to the nearby recliner, not looking over at his son. "We need to talk."

51 words. Kurt swallowed and nodded, sitting slowly in the recliner and setting his glass on the table beside him. "About what?"

"Your boyfriend. You. Sex." Burt rubbed his hand over his face, then let it drop, looking over at Kurt. He looked tired and more than a bit uneasy. Kurt squirmed inwardly, feeling responsible for the malease on his father's face. He had to be honest. He had to. His dad deserved that much from him, at the very least.

"Dad, Puck's not-"

"Shush." Burt held up his hand. "Me first." He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Kurt... you're seventeen now. You're not my little boy any more. Growing up. I... I get that. Don't want to accept it, but... you're practically an adult. And you're... you're a teenager. You want sex. I get that too. And in your case... you want sex with other boys. Again, I know that. Here." He tapped his fingers against the side of his head. "That doesn't mean I know that here." Burt tapped his chest, over his heart. "That other Friday, when we walked in on you and Puck... it surprised me. You've... I know you have your share of secrets, but you don't usually keep them from me. I thought... figured, if there was a boy, you'd at least drop hints and I could get ready for it."


"Interruptin's rude, Kurt." Burt sighed again. "Look. Noah Puckerman—Puck—he's Finn's best friend, and Finn's got a good judge of character, and so do you, so if you like him... I can't tell you who to love or not love. I don't necessarily like him myself—I think he's a cheeky punk and you can do a lot better—but if he's the guy you love... I just want you to be careful. Don't let him force you to do things you don't want. Use protection and stuff. Just because neither of you's a girl and pregnancy isn't a problem doesn't mean you can't get sick. And that, Kurt... You are who you are, and who you are is gay. And that's fine. I can be fine with you being gay. But I can't be fine with you being gay and sick, Kurt. I don't want you to get AIDS or syphilis or anything like that. I'll still love you—I'll always love you—but your health is something you can change, and I'd rather you stayed healthy instead of risked things. So... use those condoms Carole said she got you and just be careful."

"Oh my god." It was like watching a train wreck. Kurt was absolutely mortified, but he couldn't take his eyes away from his father's ruddy face, sure his own was a matching shade of pink. "Dad..."

"And... you know, if you need any testing or anything like that, you know I'll pay for it..."

Testing. Kurt hadn't seen a doctor since his yearly check-up last summer, certainly not since the attacks started. They never used a condom, and from what Kurt could smell, they were about as clean as the dumpster. He hadn't noticed any symptoms, but that didn't mean he hadn't come down with something. "Oh god..."

"So... what I'm trying to say, I guess, is I'm sorry. I overreacted. I shouldn't have shut you out this past week. I just... wasn't ready to be faced with my boy growing up." Burt nodded, looking over at Kurt. "What did you have to say?"

"Puck's not my boyfriend, Dad," Kurt said, pressing a hand to his mouth. "I'm not... he lied, that Friday. I'm not dating anyone, and I've never slept with him. I would tell you if I ever got a boyfriend..."

"Oh." Burt frowned at Kurt. "Then what the hell was going on? You don't usually entertain guests in just your robe... too much of a peacock for that."

"I... it had been a bad day, Dad." Kurt dropped his hand to his lap, staring at his knees. "A very bad day. Ridiculously bad. I... Puck helped me get home, because I was such a mess, and he stuck around to make sure I didn't drown in the shower or something. He was trying to cheer me up, not trying to get in my robe."

"How bad?" Burt asked, still frowning. "You never said anything..."

"You weren't exactly in a listening mood," Kurt whispered, squeezing his eyes shut.

"Kurt?" There was worry now in his dad's voice, a trace of panic that Kurt hated hearing. Largely because he was the only one who could put that panic in his dad. It never failed to make him feel guilty. "How bad? I'm listening now..."

Kurt could feel his dad's hand, large and warm, rest on his knee, and he hunched forward. Tell him, I should just tell him, tell him and let it be out... His arms were wrapped around his stomach, a familiar defensive gesture by now, and he was working around a lump in his throat. He couldn't open his eyes, not even as his dad's fingers curled around his knee, squeezing lightly; he couldn't bear to look right now. "I... Daddy..."

"Kurt." The hand lifted off his knee, and a moment later, Kurt felt his dad's arms around him, man-handling him until Burt was sitting in the chair and Kurt was in his father's lap, as if he were a child again. Kurt immediately sank against his dad's chest, pressing his hands flat against the muscle. Burt wrapped his arms around Kurt, holding him close. "What happened, Kurt? What the hell happened?"

"I haven't slept with Puck," Kurt whispered. "But I... may... I may need to get tested anyway..."

Kurt couldn't breathe as he felt his father still around him, and he couldn't lift his head as Burt drew back, probably to get a better look at him. Kurt lifted his hands to his face, a futile attempt to hide.

"You..." Burt was clearly trying to puzzle out what Kurt meant. "You'd tell me if you had a boyfriend." Kurt nodded. "And you're not sleeping with Puck." Kurt shook his head. "And you haven't told me anything." Kurt shook his head again. "But you want to be tested. For STDs." Kurt hesitated before giving a tiny nod.

"You've been having sex. Just fooling around, or...?"

Kurt gave a strangled sob at the dawning horror in his father's voice, shuddering. Burt was suddenly crushing Kurt against his chest, his arms holding him so tightly. Kurt could hear his father's heart pounding in his ear.

"Tell me you wanted it," Burt eventually said, his voice barely audible. "Tell me it was something you agreed to. Tell me you weren't forced..."

Kurt managed to shake his head against his father's chest. "I'm sorr-"

"No, shh," Burt cut Kurt off quickly, pressing him even closer. His grip actually hurt a little, it was so tight, but Kurt wasn't about to ask him to let him go. "It's not your fault, Kurt. This sort of thing is never your fault..."

"I lied..."

Kurt felt Burt's cheek pressing against the top of his head and he bit back another sob, fisting his father's shirt in his hands.

"Why did you lie?" Burt asked quietly.

"I didn't... didn't want you to find out. Didn't want you to know I couldn't even... didn't want to think about it. If I just... denied it, it didn't happen..."

Burt was silent as he held Kurt. Kurt maintained the silence as long as he could, but it was uncomfortable, almost awkward, to be huddling in his dad's lap without saying anything. "Are you mad?"

"Of course I'm mad," Burt answered. "Someone hurt you." He gave Kurt one more squeeze before loosening his hold. "We're going to the police about this."

"No." Kurt shook his head very emphatically. "No, Dad, we're not."


"No," Kurt repeated. "Dad... what good would it do? It was over a week ago. There's no evidence left on my... on my body, almost certainly nothing at the scene. I didn't even see who it was—they got me from behind and-"

"They!" Burt's voice sounded strangled, and Kurt ducked his head again. He hadn't meant to let that slip out. He'd just have to be careful to make sure he didn't let his dad know it had happened multiple times.

"At least two," he confessed. "Probably three."


"No, Dad." Kurt shook his head again. "I couldn't even recognize them in a lineup, or if they passed me on the street. The police'll have nothing to go on. All that'll happen is they'll make a report, and it'll become public knowledge... there's at least three kids at school who fancy themselves as reporters and sniff around places like that. If we file a report, by this time tomorrow, half the school will know what happened. And I... it's hard enough just getting through the day there as it is. No. I don't want to get the police involved."

Burt sighed, rubbing his hand over Kurt's bowed back. "I don't like that."

"Well... it's not your life you're talking about ruining," Kurt muttered.

"No," Burt agreed. "It's not. It's your life already fucked up. But... okay. I'll make a deal with you. We won't get the police involved. This time. But if it... if it happens again, if anything of this caliber happens again, you're going straight to the police while there's still evidence. No more letting them get away with hurting you."

It won't happen again, Kurt hoped, but he nodded. "Okay."

"You promise me that, Kurt."

"I promise."

Burt nodded, lifting his hand to squeeze Kurt's shoulder. "Okay. Tomorrow, I'll see about getting you an appointment with your doctor. Are you... do you think...?"

Kurt shrugged one shoulder. "Haven't noticed any symptoms, but that doesn't mean anything..."

Burt nodded again, thumb rubbing Kurt's shoulder before he grabbed him in another hug. "I love you, Kurt. Thank you... thank you for telling me."



It happened again.

Three weeks since the last attack, Kurt froze in the doorway to the gymnasium branch of the school, staring out at the parking lot. He was the last one here, but there were more cars in the lot. Some guys were milling around, some headed for the school. Over by the dumpster, Kurt could just make out shadowy figures in the fading light. They were waiting for him. He would have to walk around the entire building if he wanted to avoid them. Kurt backed inside quickly, pulling the door closed (it would lock automatically) and fleeing to the locker room. He slipped inside a stall and locked the door there as well before sitting on the edge of the toilet and digging out his phone, scrolling through his list of contacts until he found Puck's number.

Puck answered on the second ring. "Yo, Hummel, s'up?"

"They're here," Kurt said. "The... the dumpster guys. I need a ride."

"You're at the school?" Puck asked, his voice sharper now. "I was already heading over. They seen you?"

"I don't think so," Kurt said. "I'm inside, in the locker room. The parking lot was filling up."

"Course it is," Puck said. "We've got..."

"What?" Kurt asked, as Puck trailed off. "What is it?"

"Fight club," Puck answered. "Fight club's meeting at the school tonight. And last time, when I found you, that was the last time we met there."

"I thought the first rule of fight club was that you didn't talk about fight club."

"How'd you know that? You're not in the club."

"I do watch movies." Kurt pressed his hand to his forehead. "You mean to say that your fight club is what keeps attacking me?"

"Yeah... seems that way," Puck said. "Hey, but that's a good thing. Means I can warn you when we're gonna meet at school, so you know not to change and can get out first."

"It would be easier than calling you for rides..."

"Yeah. Not that it'll matter—if it's fight club guys doing this, I'll always be heading over whenever you're in danger anyway. Right. I'm in the lot, I'll be in soon. You stay put until I'm there, okay?"

"The outside door's locked," Kurt pointed out, but Puck just laughed.

"Locks ain't a problem. See you in a few."

Kurt slipped his phone back into his pocket after Puck had hung up, drawing his legs up and balancing on the toilet seat, just waiting. A few minutes later, the locker room door slammed open and Kurt jumped.

"Kurt? You still in here?"

It was just Puck. Kurt climbed off the toilet, relieved, and unlocked the door, stepping out of the stall. "Hi..."

Puck nodded at Kurt. "Hey. You okay?"

"I'm fine," Kurt said, adjusting his bag on his shoulder. "Although I do believe my nose has shut off from the stench of this place."

"Of course, Princess. Come on. Allow me to escort you to your carriage."

Kurt rolled his eyes, but he let Puck hold the door for him, and he didn't complain when Puck's arm fell around his shoulders, keeping him close at hand.

"Here, take these." Puck pressed his keys into Kurt's hand. "We'll have to walk near the dumpsters. If they come out, you run to the car and lock yourself in. I'll handle them."

"It'll be three on one," Kurt said, glancing up at Puck, but Puck just smirked.

"Yeah, and I can beat any one of them single-handedly. Three-on-one'll just even the odds a bit. But if they get me down, you take the car and get out, okay? You can grab Finn and come back for me, if you'd like, but you make sure you get yourself safe first. We already know those three can overpower you."

Kurt nodded reluctantly, slipping the keys in his pocket. Puck gave him a nod before they stepped into the parking lot, looking at his car instead of over at the dumpsters. He used his arm around Kurt's shoulders to make sure his body was always between Kurt and the three men gathered there.

"Puckerman!" As they passed by the dumpsters, one of the men there called out to Puck, stepping into the light. Kurt looked over at him, intently studying his face. He didn't recognize the man, but that voice sent a shiver down his spine. He'd want to be able to identify him later, though, just in case this plan didn't work (or in case Puck got hurt trying to defend him). "Where you think you're going with that pansy-ass?"

"Come on, Puckerman," a second said, joining the first. Kurt clenched his hand around the strap of his bag, grateful for Puck standing as a shield beside him. "Kid's the appetizer before a good fight. You wanna join in, have a piece?"

"It's just greedy, claiming him all for yourself." The third stepped out, and Kurt's eyes flicked from one face to another, committing every detail to memory.

"Travers, Milton, and McCarnay," Puck said, scowling at all three. Kurt made a mental note of the names. "Should've known." Puck was still moving, though his steps were slower, and his arm around Kurt's shoulders was tense. "Fuck off. He's not yours."

"We can take you too, Puckerman," McCarnay said, stepping forward and cracking his knuckles. McCarnay was the biggest of the three, built like Puck but closer to Finn's height, solid and intimidating. Kurt swallowed thickly, glancing toward the car.

Puck took his arm off Kurt's shoulders, giving him just a slight push in that direction as he turned to face the three men head on. "You can just try."

Kurt took a few steps away, looking between the car and the growing altercation. If he started running now, he could get to the car. He might not be able to get inside the car, though, if Puck had it locked and if one of the men tried to come after him... but he couldn't just leave Puck. Even as he weighed his options, Milton threw a punch Puck easily dodged, and the boy, roaring out a challenge, swung back. And Travers was leaping to Milton's aid, but McCarnay...

Kurt stumbled back a few steps as McCarnay came after him, massive hands clenched into fists, a dirty leer on his face. "You know it'll be easier if you just play along, baby."

Baby. Kurt hated that name. He hated being reminded that he looked younger than even the freshmen, hated that anyone calling him 'baby' was implying he was harmless and defenseless. Well. There were two things McCarnay certainly didn't know about him.

The Alexander McQueen combat boots he was wearing? They were almost as hard as steel-toed boots.

And Kurt could kick his leg over his head.

"Hi-yah!" Coach Sylvester frowned on sound effects during cheerleading routines, but Brittany and Santana had taught him this move and assured him that it had more use as an ass-kicking move if you threw in an appropriate martial arts shout. Your voice gives your leg power, Brittany had said, and Santana had just given a shrug of assent.

McCarnay howled in pain as the toe of Kurt's designer boot caught him square in the nose, stumbling back with his hands clutching at his nose. Kurt gasped in shock at the smear of blood on McCarnay's face. He had put that there. Finally. He had fought back. The shock was quickly turning into a rush of wicked delight, and Kurt didn't let McCarnay get away with just a bloody nose. With a howl of his own, Kurt dropped his bag and charged the bigger man, bending over to ram his head into McCarnay's substantial gut. McCarnay fell under him and they both went down, Kurt snarling like an animal as he hit and scratched his assailant.

McCarnay managed to get a few blows in, and Kurt tasted blood in his mouth, but he was soon sitting on McCarnay's chest, pummeling his fists into the man's head, McCarnay's bloody hands scrabbling at his clothes. Arms wrapped around his waist from behind and Kurt yowled, thrashing in the grip as he was pulled off his victim, but the voice, the voice was familiar.

"Shhh, calm down, Hummel, you've won! You've won. Leave him alone now, he won't be getting up for a while..." Kurt slowly stilled, panting heavily, hanging from Puck's arms as Puck held him against his chest, soothing him with his voice. "That's right, Kurt, you kicked his ass." There was definitely a trace of amusement in Puck's voice now as he held Kurt. "You kicked his ass good."

"D-did I?" The adrenaline pumping through Kurt's body was making him tremble, his voice shaking as much as his hands. He blinked a few times, then looked up at Puck. "Are you..."

"Three-on-one might have been a bit much for me," Puck admitted, offering Kurt a lopsided grin. The left side of his face, right below his eye, was already darkening in a bruise. "But you handled the worst of the lot, so two-on-one was a cakewalk."

"Did I?" Kurt looked back at McCarnay, still lying on the asphalt. He looked awful, bloody and battered, his nose clearly broken. Travers and Milton were no where to be seen. "Oh. Oh. Is he..."

Puck laughed, shaking his head. "Nah. Just too sore to move. Probably can't even see straight. But don't worry. He won't be telling anyone. Getting your ass kicked by the gay cheerleader is not something you ever want to brag about. Didn't know you had it in you, Hummel."

Kurt flushed, squirming a little in Puck's arms. "He called me 'baby...'"

"Remind me to never make that mistake." Puck slowly started to unfold his arms. "'Princess' won't earn me an ass-whooping, will it?"

"'Princess' means you see me as royalty," Kurt answered, testing his ability to stand on his own feet. "I like being royalty."

Puck laughed, heading over to unlock his car. "Well, hop in then, Princess. I'll see you get home... though your dad'll probably flip."

"Why?" Kurt asked, picking up his bag and making his way carefully to the passenger's side, sliding into Puck's car. Puck just gestured at Kurt's body. Kurt looked down and gasped—his clothes were a mess. They were filthy and rumpled, one sleeve even torn, and there were some bloody handprints on the pale blue fabric. "Oh my god..." Kurt said weakly. "I just ruined five hundred dollars worth of clothes... these stains will never come out!"

Puck threw back his head and laughed uproariously. Kurt tried to be affronted, but he was soon smiling along with Puck. By the time they reached the Hudmel home, both boys were in tears from their laughter, stumbling up to the front door wiping at their eyes, trying not to look at each other for fear of being set off again.

Burt flung the door open, not even trying to hide the horror on his face at the sight of his son. That snapped all the laughter out of Kurt as he shifted awkwardly in front of his dad. He knew what it must look like—his clothes and hair a mess, fresh tears on his face, a split and puffy lip from one of McCarnay's lucky punches... "It's not what it looks like, Dad..."

"They attacked you again," Burt said, ignoring Puck's presence to step out and take Kurt's arm, pulling him closer to the light from the house. "That's it, we're going to the police. Right now."

"Uh, Mr. Hummel, that's probably not a good idea," Puck said, shaking his head. "Kurt really did a number on one of the guys... he might get in trouble. Even if it was self-defense."

"What?" Burt looked at Kurt again, and Kurt had to start grinning.

"I kicked his ass! Well, technically, his nose..."

"We turned the tables on 'em, Mr. H," Puck said, slapping Kurt on the back. "Kurt here single-handedly took down the big guy, while I beat up his two toadies. I don't think any of 'em'll be bothering Kurt again."

"This is the worst of my injuries, Dad," Kurt said, reaching up to touch his swollen lip. "Really. I'm okay. I mean, I totally destroyed my outfit..." he spread his arms, giving the ruined clothes a mournful look, "but most of the blood's his."

Burt nodded slowly, looking between the two boys. "Well... um... well. Good job, Kurt. I'm... surprised. Impressed, but surprised. I... I hope you don't make a habit of getting into fights, but... but I'm proud of you, for giving those bastards a piece of what they deserve. No one gets to push a Hummel around." Kurt practically glowed at the praise, and Burt had to return his son's smile. "Now... now why don't you get cleaned up. You too, Puckerman. You're welcome to join us for dinner, if you'd like. Least I can do, after you helped Kurt out..."

"Uh..." Puck glanced over at Kurt, but Kurt just shrugged.

"You can if you want, or you can go back to your club..."

"Nah," Puck said. "You know, I'll stay. Thanks, Mr. H. Is Mrs. Hudson cooking? She makes a mean meatloaf..."

"She is," Burt confirmed, letting both boys into the house. Kurt immediately started unlacing his boots—if he had any blood from his nose-kicking on the soles, he didn't want to track it through the house. "Finn can probably lend you a clean shirt, Puck. I think he's in his room. I'll let Carole know we're having a fifth for dinner."

"Thanks, Mr. H.," Puck repeated. He waited for Kurt to finish pulling his boots off after Burt left, offering the smaller boy a smile. "Hey, Princess?"

"Yes?" Kurt asked, automatically running his fingers along his bangs, brushing them aside (though his hair was enough of a mess to know it wouldn't matter).

"You did good today." Puck punched Kurt lightly in the shoulder, making Kurt smile. "Thanks for helping me out there. You probably saved my ass."

"My pleasure," Kurt said. "It actually, really was. Does this mean we're even now?"

"Huh? Oh, for the, uh, beach party thing you don't want me talking about?" Puck grinned. "Yeah. We're even. But you've got my number now. Feel free to call any time you want a ride. Or a 'ride.'" Puck winked at Kurt, and Kurt colored faintly, waving Puck off.

"Oh, go get changed!" He was laughing again, though, as he picked up his boots. "Puck!"

"Yeah?" The other boy glanced back at Kurt, and Kurt smirked. He was not about to be a victim any longer in his life. From now on, he would be in control, not just reacting to things.

"You've got my number too." Kurt blew Puck a kiss. "Any time."