Adrift and Alone
The alcohol did little to help the pain that burned in his chest. The sounds of the party thundered around him, but Puck was not having a good time, not even close. Many familiar female faces wandered past, some offered flirty smiles but he couldn't bring himself to reciprocate. He knew that if he wanted he could find a willing female body to cozy up to tonight, hell Santana had flat out told him that she was his for the using whenever the need arose. A couple months ago that kind of statement would have been exactly what he wanted to hear, a no strings arrangement that he could take or leave, no emotions, no baggage, just fun.
Things were different now, this past year had changed everything, including how he regarded his former bedfellows. Now and then he toyed with the idea of taking Santana up on her offer, but she was so devoid of any kind of connection, or even pleasantries that it left an acrid taste in his mouth. His eye had wandered toward Brittany, but despite her pretty face and figure, he wasn't into going where so many others had gone before. Other Cheerios sauntered by and despite a vague appreciation for pretty faces, or sultry curves, Puck felt nothing. He downed the beer in his hand and reached for another. He was numb, and it was killing him.
The night stilted on, and Puck barely realized how drunk he was becoming as he worked his way through almost an entire six pack. He finally decided to move away from the sink that was serving as a makeshift cooler for the booze, but as he stumbled out of the kitchen and into the living room he instantly regretted it. His balance was off a little and he leaned against the doorframe, his eyes sweeping the crowd that milled about. Something caught his eye, something he didn't want to see. A flash of golden blond hair, pulled up high in cheerio ponytail. His chest constricted.
The very person he was trying to escape from. He narrowed his eyes to look closer. She was perched on the arm of the sofa, smiling coyly at someone. He knew that smile, it was the one she used to flash at Finn, the one that got the quarterback completely smitten with her, the one that she'd given him that night….the night they'd been together. His stomach flipped over, rolling dangerously. He watched as the person she talked to rose from the couch and came into his line of vision. It was the new kid on the football team, the one who had recently joined Glee club during his absence, with the blond pretty-boy haircut. He hadn't thought much about Sam one way or the other, until that moment…when, as Puck watched, Quinn willingly went into his arms for a dance.
Like driving by the scene of a car accident, Puck couldn't bring himself to look away, despite the rolling nausea that gripped him at the sight. Quinn had never looked at him that way, not once. He'd fallen so hard for her last year, not at first….she'd been more of a conquest challenge when they'd been together that one night. But her unwillingness to fall for his charms had intrigued him, and the more she pushed him away, the more he wanted her. Once he'd discovered her pregnancy he'd all but chased her affections the entire year, wanting for once to have the love that so many seemed to cherish. The idea of a baby had seemed so insane, yet Puck hadn't been able to help the fantasies that he'd created around the three of them becoming a family. He'd built her up so much in his head that it had blocked out all the others. He'd put her up on a pedestal, only it had been too high. Even after the birth of their daughter, she'd remained out of his reach. His feelings for Quinn Fabray had begun as a blow to his ego, and had ended with his broken heart.
But as he watched, she smiled and laughed with Sam, allowing him liberties that she'd have slapped him if he'd tried. When he, Puck, had tried to dance with her, she'd walked away, i Sam held her tightly against him as the pair swayed to the music, and she rested her head against his chest, looking completely content.
Puck lurched out of the room, unable to watch anymore. The pain in his chest was all consuming and as his stomach lurched again he suddenly needed to get out of that house, away from the loud music and laughter, away from Quinn, ,…..away from all of it.
Somehow he made it outside onto the sidewalk and began to walk. The cold night air burned his lungs but the pain seemed fitting as on the inside that's all there was anymore. Puck jammed his hands into his pockets and walked faster. The noise of the party fell away behind him as he put more distance between himself and the house. He regretted leaving his jacket behind as his worn t-shirt did little to keep him warm.
Puck barely even noticed as the rain began to fall. He just kept walking, turning right here, and left there. The ache in his chest threatened to suffocate him. He tried to sort it out in his head as he wandered. It wasn't so much that he wanted Quinn back now, he'd never really had her in the first place. He'd fallen in love with the idea of her, and while she'd been carrying their child he'd tried so damn hard to make her see. In the end she'd admitted that while his efforts had changed her perception of him slightly, she felt nothing for him other than the small connection that he was the father of her daughter.
Oh God…..Beth… That did him in. The piercing sense of loss he felt whenever he allowed himself to think about his daughter was crippling. He felt the sobs building up in his chest, and the weight of it all, combined with his drunken state nearly knocked him to the sidewalk. He staggered away from the light of the street lamp toward the closest house with dark windows.
"I'm sorry,…." He choked out. "I'm so fuckin sorry…" His balance gave out and he stumbled into the mud at the side of the house. He didn't bother to get up.
Kurt quietly let himself back into the house, being careful to set down his shopping bags in the entryway so the rustling didn't wake his dad up. The evening spent at the mall with Mercedes had been fun, he'd needed that little bit of bonding time with his best friend. Not to mention, he'd found yet another awesome leather jacket to go with his designer jeans. He carefully removed his shoes and left them beside the bags. Normally he would have just darted down into his room to immediately fold and catalog his purchases, but it was late and with his dad's health scare, he wasn't taking any chances.
On socked feet he padded silently to his Dad's bedroom, peeked through the cracked door and smiled to see his dad snoring peacefully. Then he moved back through the house and moved to gently grab his things. He quickly and quietly tiptoed through the house and through the door that led to his staircase. Once he eased his door shut, he felt free to move normally and knowing that now the crinkling shopping bags wouldn't wake his father he trotted down into his room to sort through his bounty.
20 minutes later as he lay in the darkness, trying to get comfortable enough to sleep….Kurt heard something. At first he dismissed it as part of the rain. He sat up and strained to listen. It sounded like someone outside the house. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up as he instantly thought about a prowler. His first thoughts were torn between running upstairs to wake up his dad, and/or calling the cops. He didn't want to alarm his dad, after the heart attack, and he knew that if he called the cops they would come banging on the door and if he was wrong…but the sound changed then.
It was muffled and far off…but it sounded like someone crying.
He swung his legs over the edge of the bed and silently found his sneakers, the ratty converse ones that he saved for whenever his dad made him work at the shop. He crept up his stairway back into the main house and paused in the kitchen. He could hear it better now…it was definitely someone crying. Not just crying…but sobbing. Kurt bit his lip and moved toward the backdoor. He grimaced as he saw that it was raining outside, normally he would have scrapped the whole investigation at this point…but he was too curious to go back now.
He quickly ran to grab one of his dad's rain slickers from the front closet and then moved back to the backdoor. Flipping up the oversized hood he slowly opened the door and crept around to the side of the house where he'd heard the crying.
He peered into the rainy darkness, his neighbors porch light cast just enough light into his yard for him to make out the figure huddled up on the ground. Kurt froze for a moment, scared that whoever it was would see him there. His panic reaction inwardly screamed for him to run back in the house and call the cops. But the soft sound of the man crying touched his tender heart and he stood still, staring. The man sat in the mud, his knees pulled up tight against his chest, his forehead resting on them. He was soaked to the skin, his thin tee shirt plastered against his skin. Kurt clutched at his dad's slicker, pulling it tighter around him as a gust of cold wind whipped rain against his face. He was mostly dry and shivering, he couldn't imagine how this man could stand to be that wet out here, the guy had to be freezing. Kurt risked a few more steps closer as the man's sobs slowed, until only his shoulders shook slightly.
The man took no notice of him moving closer, but when Kurt was only a few feet away, his eyes registered something familiar about him. The man's head was down, and Kurt saw now that his head was shaved, except for a thick stripe of hair…..a Mohawk….
What in the holy hell…
"Puck?" Kurt heard the squeak in his voice, but he couldn't help it.
The other boy's shoulders stilled, but he didn't lift his head. No longer terrified, Kurt advanced on him, looking down at where one of the biggest bullies at his school was cowering in the mud against his wall. As he approached, he could see a little better, it was definitely Puck. Between the Mohawk and the bulging muscles that were strained against the wet fabric there was no mistake.
Kurt was unsure what to say or do next. Sure he'd fantasized about seeing his former tormentor laid low before, he'd envisioned many humiliating scenarios he'd have liked to see the football player in as revenge. But none of them were as sad as this one, alone and crying in the dark and the cold was not something he was vindictive enough to imagine.
"Puck? Hello?" He called, louder this time.
The larger teen slowly lifted his head up. It was hard to see in the darkness but his face was twisted into a pained expression. This was not the same jock who had happily tossed him into a dumpster so many times, nor was it the same confidant bad boy who sauntered through McKinley's halls, charming women with a grin. This Puck was a mere shadow of that person. Two words fluttered into Kurt's mind as he stared, broken….and alone.
Kurt instantly felt any smugness drain from him. He knew what that kind of sadness felt like, he remembered the horrible pain of losing his mother, the loneliness of being the only individual in a crowd of clones, the only gay kid in town…he of all people knew.
"Come on…" Kurt said simply, bending down to grab a hold of Puck's arm.
Puck's reactions were dulled, and as close as he now was Kurt could smell the bitter aroma of cheap beer. Puck's confusion suddenly made more sense, he was drunk. But for whatever reason Puck let Kurt pull him up to his feet where he swayed uneasily.
"What are you doing here Puck?" He said, loud enough to make himself heard over the rain.
Puck shook his head slowly, water dripping down his face. "Don't know….just had to ….walk…" he mumbled.
Kurt nodded, knowing that trying to get answers out of a drunk Puck was probably not the best way to proceed. The wind blew through again, wetting his face and he decided that whatever he was going to do …he wanted to get out of this rain. He reached out for Puck's arm again, and turned to lead him around to the back door. He felt Puck move his arm out of reach and Kurt sighed, knowing that the larger teen had probably just recoiled from his touch, like any other homophobic person. Kurt sighed and thought maybe he should just leave Puck there and go back to bed.
But then he felt it…a cold wet hand grabbed his and held tightly.
Kurt snapped around to peer out from his coat hood at Puck. Standing, the dim glow of neighbors light illuminated Pucks' face better and Kurt saw that he was staring right at him, at their joined hands. His eyes were red from crying, his clothing soaked. He expected Puck to let go immediately, but he didn't, if anything he held tighter.