Disclaimer: I own nothing but the plot to this story and my OCs. The rest all belongs to Ryan Murphy, Ian Brennan, Brad Falchuk, the various songwriters, and to the writers of any joke that may not be mine.
Timeframe: After The Break Up
Special Guest Stars: Demi Lovato (as Tess Harper) and Rory O'Malley (as Adam Wiley)
Puck never thought he'd actually be in Ithaca, New York. Then again, he never thought he'd be heading back to Lima after he told the town to suck his left nut and make the right one jealous, but he had been there one week and was now in Ithaca this week. He was starting to think that neither one of his brothers could stay out of trouble. And when Noah Puckerman thought someone was making too much trouble that was a sad comment on the state of affairs in the world.
Still, here he was in the dormitory at Cornell University, looking for the right room. The last room had been the wrong room on the wrong floor, but totally worth it.
Puck opened the door that lead onto the dorm's fourth floor, spotting two people, a young woman and a young man nursing a black eye, standing in front of a door. Both of them looked as though they had had the fear of God put in them by whoever was on the other side of the door, so they had to be the people he talked to on the phone.
He spotted the room number out of the corner of his eye and knew he was in the right place.
"Hey," he said to the man and woman standing in front of his stepbrother's dorm, "I'm Noah Puckerman. The sad sack in the room is my brother."
"I knew I recognized him," the girl spoke up, "You never forget a face on a dartboard."
'I thought we were past that phase,' was the first thought in Puck's head before he started talking again, "I just need to know two things."
"One, the hookers are gone," the man said, "and we were able to disarm him before he crescent kicked me in the face."
Puck nodded. "Thanks. I, uh, I can take it from here."
The man stuck his hand out to Puck, "Adam Wiley. Jack's roommate."
"Noah Puckerman," Puck shook Adam's hand.
"Yeah, you already said that," Adam quipped.
"I take it you're the nice one?" Puck counter-quipped.
Adam turned to the girl. "Feisty. I like him."
"Tess Harper," the girl said, extending her hand to Puck.
"I'd say my name but this guy…" Puck leveled a glare at Adam, who smirked, "…would probably act like an asshole."
"After awhile, you learn to ignore it," Tess commented.
"We'll leave you two alone," Adam took Tess' arm and led her away from the door, stopping when they heard Puck knock on it.
"Jack?" he called out.
"Christ!" the blonde tenor groaned. "They sent in the big guns, did they?"
"Let me it, Jack," Puck ordered, getting no response.
"All this trouble over a girl," Tess shook her head, following Adam down the hall, "Makes me grateful I like men."
"You and me both," Adam commented as they left the two brothers alone.
"How'd you get out here so fast?" Jack asked.
Puck reached into his back pocket and pulled out his lock pick. "Your dad. Turns out he will let me use the private jet if I ask."
"I knew that was going come back to bite me."
Puck forced the pick into the door, playing around with the springs and hoping to find the right configuration.
"What happened?" he asked, focusing on the lock.
"I don't want to talk about it."
"You know, I've known you long to know that when you start hiring hookers that look like Rachel, we've got serious issues."
"Leave me alone, Mohawk Jew!"
That was a name Puck hadn't heard in a while. He wasn't sure if he should smile or be pissed. He'd work that out later, though.
"Do you ever me alone when I've got a problem?"
"It's always against my better judgment, but no."
"Well then, bro, what makes you think I'd leave you alone?"
"Respect for my privacy?"
"I'm your big brother. As long as I'm around, you ain't gettin' privacy."
On those words, Puck finally got the door open. He pressed the door slowly, remembering that even if you did take the guns away from Jack, he still had the hunting knife he kept in his shoe.
"I'm coming in," he announced, moving into the darkened room, hoping his eyes would adjust quickly enough to spot Jack if the shorter young man was coming after him.
Instead, he found Jack stretched out on his bed, in much the same shape Quinn had found him in nearly a year earlier. His hair looked like something out of a David Lynch movie, the suit he had worn to New York had lay on the floor, the buttons off of the shirt and the jacket in disrepair, and then there was Jack, himself, lying on his back, staring at the ceiling.
Puck reached over and took the bottle of vodka his younger brother was nursing and took a swig of it. There was only one of two things that could put Jack in this state and since the first thing was in Ohio, it had to be the second, and it was going to need all the booze he could hold to get through this.
"What happened?" Puck finally asked, pulling up a chair and placing it beside the bed.
There was silence. Now, with a normal human being, Puck wouldn't have been concerned, but this was Jack Harmon, a guy who never closed his mouth, even when he was sleeping.
"I told her everything," Jack said at last. "I mean, everything."
Puck leaned to Jack, trying to get a clear visual of his face. He looked terrible. He hadn't shaved in what seemed like three or four days and he had been crying: Two things an on-the-ball Jack would never let happen.
Puck reached out, placing his hand on Jack's forehead. "It didn't go well?"
Though it was to see him, Puck could feel Jack's "can you be kidding me" look baring down on him.
"No. It didn't," Jack said, annoyance in his voice.
"What did she say?"
"Nothing. I kinda left when I found out she was going to look for Finn."
This brought Puck's hand down on Jack's forehead, causing the blonde to shoot up from his bed.
"Dumbass," Puck shot.
"Asshole," Jack fired back
"Why'd you leave?"
"Because she was going after him," this seemed to pull Jack out of his bed, "She always goes after him. Never mind that he hasn't called in four months because he was ashamed she'd think less of him. As if that were possible even after all the crap he's done. Does that make sense to you?"
Puck was silent, watching Jack circle the room.
"On top of all that, even after he sneaks out again," his tone was bitter, "she still goes after him. What is about him? You're his best friend. You must have some insight?"
Puck opened his mouth to speak, but Jack cut him off.
"I mean, I've seen his good side, but he's got no direction, nothing to offer her except for love. And I don't have that? Cause, from where I stand, I'm just as good as him, if not better."
Puck started to speak again, but Jack again silenced him.
"I'm better and I put it out there and she goes after –"
"Oh, shut up!" Puck finally snapped.
This had the desired effect, though Jack's mouth now gaped opened, looking at his stepbrother, no sound coming out it.
"Wow," Puck stood up, "if I'd have known it was that easy, I'd have told you to do that years ago."
Jack leveled a glare at Puck, who smirked arrogantly.
"I'm seriously sick of your bellyaching," Puck continued, "You told her. Ya' finally nutted the hell up and told her how you felt and then what'd ya' do? Ya' ran away." Jack turned away from Puck. "Look at me," Puck grabbed his arm and spun him around, "Since when do you run away?" No answer. "I'm waiting."
There was silence.
"I guess you really aren't the badass I thought you were," Puck said. "Sorry I even came here."
He turned to leave.
"Noah," Jack said, stopping Puck. "I've got no more energy. I had to walk away because I need to recharge, I need to get some perspective. I can't be the man she deserves if I'm always second guessing my choices. I know that doesn't make sense to you…I can't even explain it myself, but it's just something I need to do. Just, get away, see how it works out."
Puck studied Jack's features, he could understand. Jack had told him, only months earlier, that telling Rachel how he really felt would completely undermine their friendship. It was something Jack could never take back. And now, it was out there and he couldn't take it back. It made sense that he wanted to put some distance between him and Rachel.
"No, man, I get it," Puck said, moving in closer to Jack. "You need space."
"Exactly," Jack said.
"You know, after Shelby and Beth left town, I…"
"I was there. Don't have to remind me."
"And you let me punch you," Puck continued. "Said since I was your safe place, you could be mine. Do you wanna hit…"
Puck was cut off as Jack slugged him in the mouth, knocking him on his ass.
"Okay," Puck muffled, "okay. You got that out of your system." He stood up, "You feel better?"
"A little," Jack answered. "I'm not at that mad at myself anymore. You okay?"
Puck rubbed his jaw. "I'll live. So, do you need anything else?"
"No," Jack said. "I just need to clean this room and take a shower."
"I wasn't going to say anything about that."
Jack chuckled. "Yeah. You should've."
"No, I like all my teeth in my mouth," he swirled his tongue around his mouth, "I think you may have loosened a couple."
"You got me to laugh, so shut up now," Jack commanded, pulling out a clean pair of underwear from his dresser. "I'll be back in a couple of minutes."
"I'd stay there for a couple of hours if I were you."
"And I would be out of this room by the time I come back if I were you."
Jack tossed a towel over his shoulder before walking up to Puck, standing well within reach.
"Thanks," he said.
"No problem, bro."
"I'm not gonna hug you while I'm dressed like this."
"I'm not gonna hug you while you smell like that."
Jack slapped his brother on shoulder and walked off, muttering under his breath, "Asshole."
"Dumbass," Puck muttered back as Jack disappeared from the room.
Puck followed Jack out of the room, watching him make his way up the hallway and into the bathroom. He sighed, turning on the light and making himself comfortable as he knew that when Jack came back, the two would probably go on a chaotic pranking spree that ended with them almost getting arrested. To be honest, he kind of missed these moments.
A/N: And there we have it. Another PACK one-shot for the books. I hope you all enjoyed this one because I wasn't sure how this story would work out. And it's worked wonderfully. I hope this shows how far these two have come since their parents' first date to present day. I think it has, but I'm leaving the whole choice to you, the readers.