Puck's not sure when he starts noticing Hummel's pants.

Kurt doesn't recycle outfits. He recycles pieces, sure, but not whole outfits- the day Kurt Hummel wears the same ensemble two days in a week is the day everyone knows he's either running a fever or running out of town, because he must not care whether or not he's ever seen again. The thing is, the Grand Dame's wardrobe has too many fucking pieces and way too many of them are skirts (any number over "0" in a man's wardrobe is way too goddamn many). Kurt's got strappy suspenders with matching plucky bowties, he's got formal shorts like he's afraid he may have to wade into a river halfway through a business lunch so he'd better be dressed for the occasion, he's got that pleated skirt thing with all the loops and shit that looks like an outfit Janet Jackson rejected for being too fucking complicated, he's got pants in every pattern, every color- the only thing Kurt's got more of than pants are those supremely queer hats of his, and possibly Gaga costumes.

But Puck's starting to think that maybe he should stop getting on Hummel's case for being Coach Sylvester's prize Queerio, because sometime over the summer, when Kurt must have shot up a good three or four inches in height judging by his sudden case of supermodel legs, Puck must have breathed in some gay air and caught the homo. Because school starts and Quinn's back to Cheerbot Bitch 3000 and Santana's got a weird new set of knockers, so instead of peeking up their red pleated gateways to heaven, Puck's checking out Kurt's ass in all his many, many pants.

See, Puck's always been an ass man. Santana's boob job was her own issue- Puck thought her breasts were fine before, perfect little caramel handfuls- and Quinn wasn't exactly Tits McGee even when she was knocked up, but both of those extremely fine ladies are packing ass like no one's business. If swishing ass were a competitive sport, his girls were fucking champions, Olympic-level booty busters.

But now apparently Puck's scouting Kurt for the Derriere Decathlon, since every time Kurt struts down the hall with his head held high doing that gay little prancing stomp in his Doc Martens or whatever, Puck's focused on how good he looks walking away instead of processing whatever barb of the day Kurt's decided to fling in his direction or plotting Kurt's next intimate encounter with a garbage bag full of moldy tater-tots. Granted, Kurt's been doing a lot less of the sarcastic petty bullshit since Puck quit throwing him into things last year, but the point remains that Puck and Kurt don't exactly talk.

Puck doesn't need Kurt to talk. Just needs him to keep walking, just like that. Puck is a master of the hooded gaze, of looking without looking like he's looking. Kurt's caught up in his own shit a lot of the time, so he doesn't even notice, which is good. Puck doesn't know if he's exactly ready to be caught doing a Gold Standard Puckerpraisal of a dude's lower half.

For someone who's caught the homo, juvie's a fuck of a lot less inviting than countless lame jokes would have made Puck think. He figures maybe he's not as much of a homo as he'd initially reckoned, but when he comes back to McKinley, he realizes that either those orange jumpsuits don't do much for the glutes, or those orange jumpsuits needed a touch of Hummel swagger for Puck's homodar to activate (the homodar is his dick, which has been jumping regularly to attention the tighter Hummel's pants get). That, and checking out a dude's ass is the last thing on Puck's mind when he's woefully prodding his tortured nipple in the bathroom mirror, or regarding a syrup-splashed plate where a waffle once lay with all the pathos of the next-of-kin howling past the crime scene barrier.

By the time he gets back from juvie, shit's gotten real. Puck's hands are tied with stupid fucking probation, so he can't even gain the minimal satisfaction of shoving Karofsky's face in the dirt and has to let Sam take the glory, and just like that, Kurt's gone. Transferred. His plans of forming a protective perimeter and watching Kurt's back (all day, every day) disappear. Kurt's all white skin and shimmering sad eyes and lips pressed flat against tears, and Puck can't even take satisfaction from watching him leave because he knows his boy won't be back.

The chair where Kurt used to sit is now occupied by Lauren Zizes, who may have saved Puck's life and rocked his world, but whose ass does not compare to that of Puck's almighty fairy queen at the height of his royal princess stride. It's not because she's fat or anything, because Mercedes ain't exactly svelte but she's got grade-A ass for days, it's just that Lauren's not got that oh-so-sweet curve that makes Puck want to keep holdin' on. Hummel's fucking got it, though, and legs to carry it, and honestly, the rest of him isn't bad either, the catlike eyes and flawless skin and his come-at-me corona of don't-give-a-fuck that Kurt's perfected over years and years of the very best bullying McKinley's losing football team had to offer.

Except now the idea of all that bullying pisses Puck off, because his boy's done fucked off to Gay Hogwarts and joined up with the Dickton Gobblers and now the only gay bowties Puck ever sees are on Artie, who does not activate his homodar (that's his dick) at all.

Watching the Cockland Academy Ghhhglers perform at Sectionals, Puck is overcome with the urge to storm the stage and kidnap Kurt (Kurt may have gotten taller, but he's lost weight; Puck is reasonably confident he can throw Kurt on his back and book it before anyone realizes what's happening). Thing is, his boy isn't looking right. He looks small up there, and scared, and he's bopping along in the background like he belongs there when everyone knows that's not where Kurt's supposed to be, especially Kurt, who's been so squawkingly loud on this point that Puck is legitimately, genuinely shocked to see Kurt mutely accept second-tier status. It's wrong. It's so fucking wrong.

Even worse are the Daltongue Dicktuckers' uniforms. Those shapeless gray slacks are killing Puck. They're slaying him like a fucking kamehameha of sartorial failure, because those lumpen itchy-looking trousers and that overlong blazer conspire like a boss to hide the magnificent Hummel ass that has featured so roundly and prominently in Puck's fantasies of late. Puck has been looking forward to exactly one thing about Sectionals, and it wasn't watching the Wifely Wonder and Mr. Marvel take a gigantic shit all over Time of Our Life, nor scrambling around while Santana bleated about wanting Brittany's sweet scissors once more; Puck just wanted to see his boy again, but this thin pale kid looking sick and scared on stage, that's not him.

The tie's total bullshit, because as far as Puck's concerned the Hipsters should have won, but Puck takes off after the victory's announced before Kurt can pile into the Dalton limo for a celebratory gangbang or whatever those prep school fucks get up to. "Yo, Hummel," he calls, and Kurt's head swivels abruptly before he catches sight of Puck.

Incredibly, Kurt smiles, a real smile like he really means it. His eyes sparkle. Puck feels briefly dizzy with a kind of whiplash- checking out ass is all right, but getting that kind of reaction to a smile is like, professionally queer. "Puck! Hey."

"You got a minute?"

Kurt's smile fades slightly as he watches his compatriots skitter past him like a flow of roaches. Puck tries not to let his bloodlust show on his face. "A minute. I can't stay long, I don't want to miss the bus. How are you?"

"Oh, you know." Like shit, Puck doesn't say. "Listen, how's the Goggles or whatever?"

Kurt purses his lips, throwing Puck a sharp look. Puck almost laughs at the brief flash of the prissy little bitch he'd seriously feared had been consumed by that frilly embroidered "D" on his blazer pocket, but Kurt settles back on his heels with a little bounce, holding his hands in front of him. "The Warblers. And we're fine. Honestly, I'm glad we tied."

"Hipsters should have won it," Puck says with a shrug.

Kurt stares at him. "I thought you liked Glee."

"If I wanted to listen to some blondes squealing like stuck pigs, I'd pop in a DVD of-"

Kurt flings his hand up, his face a study in disgust. "Okay, please don't continue that sentence."

Puck grins at him. "I was going to say Sound of Music. Don't know what *you* were thinking."

Kurt crosses his arms, his cheeks as pink as one of Puck's Nana's collectible figurines. "Right. Like you've ever seen Sound of Music."

"It's the one with those singing Children-of-the-Corn-looking blonde kids in it, right?"

Kurt sighs- loudly, his chest actually heaving underneath that heavy-looking blazer- and one hand comes up to brush his hair back, a familiar little nicety. "I am not defending the *numerous* cultural and critical merits of The Sound of Music to you. Puck, it was really nice seeing you, and believe me, I find it as bizarre to say that as it must be for you to hear it, but I really must be going, they aren't going to wait forever for me-"

"They ought to," Puck interrupts him, scowling now. This isn't the way he'd meant to say it, but fuck it. Kurt wants to speed it up, fine, Puck isn't gonna tiptoe around the point like he's trying to give Kurt a run for his light-on-the-loafers money. "They ought to wait till you fucking feel like going, 'cause without you they ain't shit. Listen, I saw you up there. I saw you *hating* it. This uniform and shit-" Kurt looks down at himself, then up at Puck, his brow furrowed, his lips pressed shut as Puck forges on ahead. "It ain't you, bro. It's so not you. I saw you up there playing second fiddle to Richie Rich and I wanted to charge the fucking stage, man, it wasn't right. Don't let them change you, Kurt."

"What- Puck," and Kurt sounds both incredibly touched and a little angry, "since when do you know me so well that you can tell me who I am and am not?"

"Because those slacks don't fucking fit you right!" Puck explodes, flinging his hands out. "Fucking look at them! They make you wear that shit, how the hell haven't you called in a revolution yet?"

"What do you mean, they don't fit me right?" Kurt looks taken by utter surprise, his head actually recoiling back with the strength of his sudden bewilderment. Helooks down again at his uniform once more, smoothing his hands over his blazer in a strangely vulnerable way. "They're in my size, they're-"

"They're not your size," Puck grits out. "You wear your pants like two sizes smaller than this pajama-looking bullshit. Or you wear those little sailor shorts with the pulled up socks so you can flash your kneecaps like you're trying to win a prize for exposing the least scandalous body part possible. Look, I'm sorry I ever suggested you go check out the Gargoyles or whatever. Seriously. I would have rocked your stupid goddamn Bob Mackie feather boa if it'd meant we'd had you on stage with us today. That's it."

Kurt's eyes are doing that shiny-shimmery thing again before Kurt squeezes them shut and brings his hand up in a supremely feminine gesture of overwrought emotion that looks like he ripped it straight from Days of Our Lives. When he opens them after a moment, he draws himself up with all the immense carriage and dignity that Puck has been fucking missing from the music room, from the McKinley school hallways, from Glee. "I appreciate that," he says, and his high, girlish voice is remarkably level. "I truly do. I wish you'd mentioned something along those lines before I had to leave, of course-"

"I do too," Puck grouses. His hands are shoved in his pockets, shoulders hunched. "You think I don't fucking regret that? Should have been me pounding Karofsky's face in, too. I would have done it. I would have-"

Kurt shakes his head immediately. "No. I couldn't stand watching anyone get hurt for me." He sniffs sharply, taking in a shaky breath. "It doesn't matter at this late date anyway."

"It matters, Kurt." Puck eyes him seriously. "Wear your gay shit. I swear I'll torch your Barbie Academy Dream House if I hear you're doing frigging Mellencamp."

The laugh that comes out of Kurt's throat sounds choked. Puck notices Kurt's fingers shake when they come up to brush his hair needlessly back again. "I didn't know you cared."

"Yeah, well." Puck rolls his eyes up to the ceiling, innocently. "You got a nice ass. Your uniform's a fucking crime." He grins nice and slow at Kurt, who looks as wide-eyed as Pinocchio in his prime. "Keep it in mind, yeah?"

When Puck turns and strolls away, it's to the extremely satisfying sound of Kurt's utterly boggled laughter, a freer, lighter sound than anything Kurt produced on stage today. Puck's heart feels freer and lighter for hearing it.