Disclaimer: Glee belongs to Ryan Murphy and Fox, not me.
He slumped in his choir room chair, his long legs stretched out in front of him. It was weird, because he was never the first one there. But somehow he didn't feel like being anywhere else.
Someone else walked in and flicked on the lights. "Well, well, well," Quinn said softly. "What are you up to, Puck?"
"Nothing," he said. "Where's your boyfriend? Thought you guys were surgically attached to each other."
Quinn walked towards him, hugging her binder to her chest, her skirt swishing around her hips. "I heard you were upset, but really, sulking in the dark?" she said. "Next you'll start wearing eyeliner and listening to Fall Out Boy."
"Fall Out Boy isn't that bad," he defended.
"All right, so just the eyeliner," she quipped. But she looked him up and down, her pretty eyes taking in his slumped shoulders and turned-down mouth, and she softened. "Why are you so upset?"
"It's just getting to me," he grumbled. "This whole Kurt thing."
"Of all the times to grow a heart, Noah Puckerman," she sighed. "Of course you would choose now."
Despite her words, she sat down beside him and placed her hand gently on his kneecap. He rubbed his hand over his mohawk. "Do you think we could have stopped this?" he asked before he could stop himself.
Quinn squeezed his knee. "I'm not sure," she said honestly. "We could have done better, though. We all could have done so much better."
Artie rolled into the classroom, and she stood up, hastily dropping her hand. "Hey, guys," Artie said.
"Hey, Wheels," Puck said half-heartedly.
The other members of New Directions filtered in for rehearsal- Tina and Mike holding hands, Brittany with her eyes red-rimmed and her pinky laced in Santana's, Sam flashing a forced smile. Puck kept his eyes trained on the piano, glowering at no one in particular.
Finn loped into the rehearsal room, Rachel at his side. "Hey, guys," he said. "What's wrong?"
"I miss Kurt," Brittany said.
"You guys, I know it's awful that he's gone, and glee club won't be the same without him, and we should all feel tremendously sad that there was nothing we could do to help him, but this is a good thing for him," Rachel said, putting her hands on her hips.
Tina quirked an eyebrow. "He got bullied out of school," she said. "How is this a good thing?"
"It's good because he feels safer," Finn said. He stuck his hands in his pockets and shrugged. "And I guess we should be happy because of that."
Mercedes popped into the rehearsal room, holding her phone to her ear and beaming broadly. "Hey, hey, I'm in the choir room and everybody's here," she said. She held up her phone. "Who wants to talk to Kurt?"
Brittany nearly knocked over her chair in her haste. Mercedes hit speakerphone and set her phone on the piano as everyone crowded around. "Kurt, you're on speaker," she said.
Puck could hear Kurt's cheerful voice from his seat on the front row, although it was quickly drowned out by everyone calling out their hellos. "Have you had a good day so far?" Rachel asked.
"It's been amazing," Kurt said. "Everyone's been so nice, and the classes are great, and this uniform is fantastic."
"And is Blaine fantastic?" Mercedes teased.
"Mercedes! We're not talking about him!"
Santana straightened. "Hold up," she said. "Blaine? Is this a guy we're talking about? Kurt's already gotten into someone else's private school pants?"
"We're not talking about this!"
Puck could practically see the blush creeping up to Kurt's ears. He used to make fun of him for it, that he looked like a tomato every time he got excited. Kurt usually rolled his eyes or shot back some kind of retort. But did that actually hurt his feelings?
(Really, was he thinking about people's feelings now?)
Brittany put her mouth close to the phone. "Kurt, I miss you," she said.
"Oh, I miss you too, boo," he said. "I miss all of you."
"Even me?" Finn said.
"Finn, I don't miss you. I will see you tonight when I get home," Kurt said. "And if you haven't cleaned up your half of our room by the time I get there, then I am going to cut you."
Tina laughed. "Has private school made you vicious?" she teased.
"Oh, no, I'm always like this," he teased right back.
He sounded freaking happy. Kurt was never happy like this. He had that…that bitchface smile all the time, the really smug one that always made him want to punch him in the nose. He'd seen Kurt really happy a few times, like at the wedding, and that was totally different. His eyes scrunched up at the corners and he smiled really wide. But he didn't smile like that a lot.
"Kurt, have you been asked to join the Warblers yet?" Rachel asked.
Kurt cleared his throat. "Well, they've asked me to audition, but I don't know…"
"You need to audition," Rachel interrupted. "A voice like yours can't be neglected, even if you're using it to compete against us."
Everyone stared at Rachel, who glanced around at their dumbfounded faces and shrugged. "Well, thank you," Kurt stuttered. "I didn't give them a yes or no for an audition, but I suppose I can let the director know."
"You'll kill it," Sam assured him.
"Yeah, we'll totally see you at sectionals," Artie added.
Another voice echoed from Kurt's end. "Kurt, are you talking to Mercedes?" the voice said. "Hi, Mercedes! Don't worry, I'm taking good care of him."
"Who are you?" Quinn asked.
"Is that Blaine?" Santana demanded. "He sounds hot. Is he gay? Oh, it doesn't matter, I can probably turn him straight for me..."
"Um…" Blaine said slowly. "Am I on speakerphone with everyone in New Directions?"
"Yes," Kurt said. "That was Santana."
Brittany leaned close to the phone again. "I am Brittany S. Pierce," she declared.
"And I'm Rachel Berry," Rachel added, not to be outdone.
"Artie Abrams," Artie chimed in.
"Sam Evans, but you kinda knew that."
"Wow," Blaine said. "Well, hello, everyone."
"Wait, wait, wait," Kurt said. "Someone's missing. Noah?"
Puck rolled his eyes. "Yeah, Hummel, I'm here," he said.
"All right, now you've met everyone," Kurt said, satisfied.
"Nice to meet you all," Blaine offered.
Rachel stood on tiptoe and leaned over the piano. "Blaine, I understand that you've asked Kurt to audition for the Warblers," she said, enunciating carefully.
"Well, I haven't, but it's gotten around that Kurt can sing down Celine Dion, so everyone's been begging him to try out," Blaine said.
Of course the private school brats wanted him to sing. And of course they thought he was some kind of damn star. It just figured.
"We got him to agree to audition for you," Rachel said.
"So you'd better make him do it before he talks himself out of it," Mercedes said.
"Ask him to sing 'I Wanna Hold Your Hand' by the Beatles," Quinn said. "You have no idea how good he is."
"Yeah, but don't let him near the Mellencamp," Finn grinned. "Or flannel. Or overalls. Or anything that involves plaid."
"Finn Hudson!" Kurt shrieked. "That is the phase that shall not be named!"
"All right, someone's going to have to tell me about this," Blaine said.
Brittany smiled broadly. "I can," she said. "See, I usually thought Kurt was a capital-G gay, but-"
Santana clamped a hand over Brittany's mouth. "It's a long story," she said.
"Well, someone is going to have to tell me about it at some point," Blaine said. "But we've got to go to Warblers rehearsal, especially if a certain someone is going to audition."
"When will you be home, Kurt?" Finn asked. "Mom'll worry if you're late."
"Probably five or five-thirty," Kurt said. "Definitely home in time for dinner. Tell Mom I'll call if I'm running late, though."
"Sure," Finn said. "See ya later. Bye, Blaine."
Everyone crowded around the phone to say goodbye. Mercedes finished the call by saying "bye, babe, talk to you tomorrow" and blowing a kiss through the receiver.
The choir room door swung open. "Okay, you guys, we have a lot of work to do if we're going to rework our sectionals performance," Mr. Schue said. He paused at the sight of them gathered around the piano. "What's up?"
Brittany looked up. "Ceiling tiles," she said flatly. "And lights. And dead bugs in the lights. And..."
"We talked to Kurt," Mercedes said, beaming brightly.
Mr. Schue set his briefcase down. "How's he doing?" he asked. "Does he like Dalton?"
"He sounds really happy," Quinn said.
"Yeah, since that prep boy probably had his hand down Kurt's pants…" Santana said. Quinn elbowed her sharply in the ribs.
Mr. Schue gave her a strange look, but he just shook his head and pulled a sheaf of sheet music out of his briefcase. "Take your seats, everybody," he said. "We've got a lot of work to do."
Puck grabbed the music. If he had his way- and he usually did- he would get out of there. But he knew there would be too many questions if he did, so he just stayed in his seat, mouthing the lyrics half-heartedly.
No one else seemed upset. They were all happy, still buzzed over their conversation with Kurt. Even Finn was grinning while he sang, one arm slung over his midget girlfriend's shoulders. That wasn't right. There was no way that could be right.
Rehearsal seemed to last forever, but eventually Mr. Schue gave them permission to leave. He pushed himself up, dumping his music on his vacated chair and catching Finn by the arm before he could saunter away with his stupid girlfriend.
"Hey, man," Finn said. "What's up?"
Puck dragged him into the nearest guy's bathroom, despite Rachel's squealing protests. "You guys are kidding me, right?" he said.
"Kidding you about what?" Finn asked, shaking his hands away. "Are you having some kind of meltdown?"
Puck leaned the small of his back against the sink. "Nah, dude, that's chick stuff," he said. "It's this whole Kurt thing. Is he really okay?"
Finn frowned. "He's going to be," he said firmly. "I mean, he was kind of a wreck yesterday, but he was just upset, and he was really excited this morning. And he sounded good on the phone, really good. And he's not as good at lying as he thinks he is, so...I don't think he was acting."
Puck gritted his teeth. "That's not what I meant," he said. "I mean…is this bullying crap really as bad as everyone thinks it is?"
"Yes," Finn said flatly. "Yes, it is."
"Bad enough to make him leave?" Puck demanded.
"Yes," Finn said, crossing his arms over his chest.
"I doubt it," Puck scoffed.
"Why?" Finn shot back.
Puck pushed himself away from the sink and started pacing back and forth in the cramped bathroom like a caged animal. "It's just teasing, dude," he said. "Everybody gets teased. The slushies and junk. It's just part of school, right?"
"You do realize it was more than just 'slushies and junk'," Finn retorted. "Way more."
"Yeah, I know," Puck relented. "But still, I mean all of the guys took Karofsky down. So what if he's back. We could take him. We could protect Kurt."
Finn watched him pace. "It's more than that," he said. "It's a lot more. More than what we know, even."
Puck shot him a sharp look. "What's that supposed to mean, Hudson?" he said.
Finn leaned against the dirty tiled wall. "Last night, he…" His voice trailed off; he swallowed hard and started again. "He went to bed before me, and I went downstairs 'cause it was late and all, and he…he was freaking out. Screaming, but he was asleep. I tried to wake him up, and he started hitting me."
Puck raised an eyebrow. "He hit you?" he repeated skeptically.
Unconsciously Finn touched his cheekbone. It did look sort of red. "He thought I was Karofsky," he whispered. "He dreamed that Karofsky was beating him, or…"
"Or what?" Puck pressed.
"I don't know," Finn said helplessly. "I tried to wake him up, and it took forever, but he opened his eyes and he just…he just started crying."
Puck took a deep breath. "So it's that bad?" he said. Finn nodded wordlessly. Puck took another deep breath and slammed his fist into the stall wall, the doors shaking and the locks rattling.
"Dude, what's the matter with you?" Finn demanded. "Usually you don't even act like Kurt exists. Why're you freaking out?"
"You wouldn't understand," Puck said through his teeth.
"Try me," Finn challenged.
Puck whirled around. "I was one of them!" he shouted, jabbing his thumb against his chest. "I used to toss Kurt in dumpsters, and throw slushies on his stupid hair. And I called him names, and made fun of his voice, and now he's gone! Gone because of people like me!"
"Puck, it wasn't you," Finn said, raising his voice. "It was Karofsky. All of it, it was just Karofsky. This isn't your fault!"
"I feel like it's my fault," Puck said in a low, awful voice. "I made his life miserable too, just the same. I'm not any better than Karofsky."
Finn put his hand on his shoulder. "Dude, you're miles better than Karofsky," he said. "You look out for him. And Kurt trusts you."
"I doubt it," Puck snorted.
"He does," Finn said. "He really does." He shifted his weight from one foot to the other. "Y'know, I told him about how you went to your temple to pray for his dad. It meant a lot to him."
"You're kidding me."
"Nope. He said something about how you were actually a huge softy under that mohawk," Finn grinned. He punched him lightly on the shoulder. "And see, that's what separates you from Karofsky. Think he would ever put on one of those funny hats and pray for somebody else's dad to get better?"
"Dude, for the millionth time, they're not funny hats, they're yarmulkes," Puck said, one side of his mouth tugging up in a smile.
"Whatever," Finn shrugged. "Listen, we should probably get out of this bathroom, or else Rachel's going to freak. But we're going to my house to wait for Kurt to get home. Wanna come with?"
"Sure," Puck said. He cleared his throat. "Sorry for…freaking out like that."
"No problem," Finn said.
Puck stuck his hands in his back pockets. "Think Kurt'll come back?" he asked.
Finn shrugged. "I don't know," he said. "I really don't know."
First off, I just got to say it- love me some Fall Out Boy. And I hate Celine Dion. I judge celebrities based on how they treat cast members when they come to the parks, and she is not a pleasant lady to deal with. She refused to walk through the park and had to be escorted through the tunnels under MK, and she also refused to share her train on Big thunder Mountain Railroad. Seriously? Diva.
But I digress.
This is just a short drabbly sort of thing. See, I was watching the "Furt" episode, and dude, Puck was pissed. And then I watched the promos, and he and Will are talking and Will was all like "HE ISN'T COMING BACK" and Puck was really pissed. Then I watched the "Hey, Soul Sister" clip, and DUDE PUCK IS MEGA PISSED.
And I didn't know why. So I wrote this. It sucks, but oh, well.
Also, I don't like thinking that the rest of New Directions is mad at Kurt. Because really, if they really care about him, his safety ought to be more important than anything else.
Also also, Brittany is a delight to write.
Oh, anyone else see ho this ties in to the "Furt" chapter of "Someday You Will Be Loved"? Because it totally does.
The "Furt" episode gave me some seriously awesome new material to work with. So far I've written this and the Furt chapter of SYWBL, plus I'm writing a oneshot that shows Rachel's thought process into her intervention, a Karofsky oneshot about his expulsion and how his family takes it, a oneshot about Kurt dragging Finn along to pick out Carole's wedding dress, and a deleted scene oneshot. Because DID ANYONE ELSE CATCH THE SCENE THAT WAS IN THE PROMO AND NOT IN THE EPISODE? I kept waiting for it and it DIDN'T HAPPEN and now I am devastated.
Anyways, I hope you liked this!