A/N: Something I wrote like an hour before tonight's episode, hoping that if we didn't get Quick, I'd at least be able to know I was able to write something for them. And lookie what happened. No Quick. But hey, I wrote something, right?


Summer was uneventful. Same shit all the time. Alcohol on Fridays, baby-sitting on Saturdays, and the rest of the days were spent with Santana or cleaning pools at some MILF's house. Business was slow – finding out your favorite lay is a teen dad somehow became a turn-off. Or a turn-on. It depended on the woman.

So he expects that since his summer was so nondescript, he'll come back into school and maybe things will get better. He won't have to make excuses to see her; no more drunk-dials and no more times hearing her say, "You're drunk. Go to sleep." No more waking up with his phone clutched in his hands and her number on the recently-made calls list fourteen fucking times.

He expects that something will change. Seeing her everyday, hearing her voice everyday – it would have to mean something. She wouldn't be able to avoid him anymore.

He's wrong. He's never prided himself on being smart or insightful, but he thought, just maybe it'd get better. But, he's wrong; she finds a way to avoid him. She cuts through shortcuts to classes that he never even thought of before. She sees him walking down the hall a mile away and scurries out of the area before he can even say, "Hey."

She's like a coward, but so is he. There had to have been some reason why he only dialed her number after a few shots of tequila.

It's Santana, predictably, that he's with the night he goes to juvie. Her hands are up his shirt and her legs are parted, and she's saying something foggily, but he doesn't think it's his name. And maybe she's drunk. Maybe he is.

He can't seem to get into it, and even her boob-job doesn't excite him, so she stops halfway through and huffs, "You need to get over her."

He doesn't pretend to not know what she's talking about so he instead says, "You need to get over Brittany."

"Fuck you." She shimmies her skirt back over her thighs and adjusts her ponytail, giving him an exasperated look, as if she's realizing just now that he has a dick and he doesn't have blonde hair and thinks the square-root of four is rainbows. "Don't pretend to care about me. Or Brittany."

He lays his head back. He doesn't care. She's right. She's right about a lot of things but no one gives her credit for it. "She doesn't love me, does she?" Puck is sad and pathetic when he drinks. Everyone expects him to be such a fun drunk, but all he does is reflect on how shitty is life is.

Santana sweeps her hair over her shoulder and picks up her purse to reapply her makeup. "I think," she starts carefully, grudgingly, as if she hates to be nice, "she doesn't want to love you."

Puck is too intoxicated to pretend to know what that means. He'll think it over in the morning. "Britt loves you," he tells her, kindly. Santana has a way of being real with him and sometimes he should return it. "You don't really need me."

Santana just looks at him, half-pitying. "Don't do anything stupid, Puck." And then she's gone.

He does something stupid anyway. Maybe it was just to spite her. He hates it when she's right. He hates it when she's nice. They aren't supposed to be nice, not even to each other.

"I don't have time for this, Noah." Lynn Puckerman's voice is loud and obnoxious and angry. As a kid, her voice used to scare him; all she had to do was say his name and he was cowering. Nowadays he's just annoyed with her and the pathetic way she cares for him and his sister; he barely even cares if she's angry.

He presses his forehead against the cool metal. "I know, ma." I know, I know, I know.

"I work two jobs to care for you and Liz," she goes on, "and you crash my fucking car into a 7-11? When did you become a drunk? When did you become just like your –"

She stops there but he knows what she was going to say and he almost wants to remind her that he's nothing like his fucking father – he's almost the total opposite. That's her fear, that he's just like his dad. And he thinks he might be scared, too; he's really done it this time, and everyone knows it.

His ma sighs on the other end, as if tired with dealing with him. "Get out on good behavior, Noah," she tells him. "Maybe this will teach you discipline."

Puck looks at the line of angry guys with tats all up and down their arms and thinks he's in over his head. This will hardly teach him discipline but maybe it'll toughen him up a bit, and he won't be left whining over Quinn Fabray while two drinks past drunk.

The first thing he does when he gets back into school is slam his fist into the face of some new kid named Sam Evans.

He's hardly learned discipline at juvie. Why would anyone expect him to?

Santana's watching him like he's the riot of the school, and there's a crowd forming around him and blondie; they all saw it coming from a mile away, and most know the kid's got no chance, but it's still fun to pretend he might win. People are taking bets. It's almost funny.

"Puck!"

That's when it stops getting funny.

He rewinds time to when he fought for Quinn with his best friend. He rewinds time to when he bruised Finn's face for a week just because he wasn't treating her the way Puck wanted to – and a part of him thinks this is history repeating itself. Quinn goes for the guys that are never going to push her buttons. It's the safe route. He wants to scream at her for it.

But he stops, and he lets go of Sam's Holister shirt (really? Can you say gay?) before she reaches them. "Puck what are you – why are – oh my God, Sam, are you bleeding?"

Seriously?

"This guy?" Puck didn't have a problem with fish-lips before he saw him all over Quinn, but now he thinks he might hate him. "But why?" He tries to laugh. It should be funny, but she's looking at him like he's done something disgusting and awful and now he realizes why his ma hates him so much.

Sam's nose is bleeding. "Dude –"

Quinn stops him with a warning glare. "Puck, leave him alone."

It's a sight to see, isn't it; a crowd of kids surrounded a little blonde girl in a cheerleading outfit on her tiptoes, poking Puck's chest like she isn't afraid of him. She isn't. He hasn't given her reason to be scared of him.

"Your actual problem is with me," she goes on. "I'm the one who ignored you all summer and has been avoiding you all month so stop blaming it on him."

She marches away like she's all that and he's starting to realize that she is. She always has been. Sam follows her obediently, like a puppy-dog.

History repeating itself. He's calling it from day one.

Santana offers him a pity-fuck and he turns it down. His ma has been ignoring him a lot less lately, and maybe that's something. Maybe people are starting to realize that he's there.

Sam doesn't hate him but he doesn't exactly like him either, and Puck realizes he feels the same way. He ignores Quinn altogether. She ignores him. Welcome to paradise.

It's like the baby never even happened.

(Oh, God, now he's remembering again.)

She's waiting for him at his house when he gets off work at McDonald's (they finally gave him a second chance after he peed in the fry-a-lator). He doesn't ask and she doesn't explain, just smiles at him and holds up a pack of wine-coolers. The inside of his mouth tastes like nostalgia.

It's starting to freeze in November, but the cold air feels good, so they sit outside in the bed of his truck, saying nothing at all. It'd almost be romantic if Puck believed in romance.

She breaks the silence by commenting, "I always make questionable decisions on these." She holds up the cheap strawberry liquor and laughs. He tries to remember how to breathe.

"Yeah?" He leans back. "And what kind of decision are you making now?"

She frowns. "I'm here, aren't I?"

Puck's eyes close. "Yeah." Suddenly, he's tired as all hell, and he wishes he could sleep forever. Close his eyes and go into a week-long coma. Never have to deal with anything.

Quinn leans back with him, so close that their arms are touching, and she feels so warm he has to remind himself that she's with someone else. She sighs a bit and blinks lazily at the stars. It's starting to get pitch black now. He can hardly see her face.

"We can't forget she happened," she says at last. "We can't forget about Beth."

Puck nods. "I know."

"We're not like other people." She turns to look at him. "So we can't ignore each other, either." It's too dark to see if she's smiling or not. He's going to forever pretend that she was smiling.

He nods again, like a good little boy. "We're better than the rest," he tells her, willing her to believe it. "So let's not be like them."

She doesn't answer him right away, simply leaves a chaste kiss on his cheek and rests her chin on his shoulder. "We could never be like them."

They clink their wine-coolers lazily. The air tastes like rain but there's not a cloud in the sky, and Puck thinks this could mean something but he'd never actually know. There's something new, though. Wind of change. He can feel it.

Quinn's eyes flutter closed, her lashes brushing against his cheek, and he thinks this is what forever should be like.