Author: Viscountess Hope
Summary: This wasn't supposed to be the reason they all gathered to honor him. It was supposed to be because he was rich and famous. Not because of this.
Pairing: Nurt that shall go nowhere… sad, I know.
Disclaimer: None of this is mine, I make no profit. Now, if you want to pay me for writing this? I'm all for it, but I doubt anyone really wants to pay me to write fanfiction.
Author's Notes: I am a Rascal Flatts fan… actually, I'm a country fan in general, but RF has a few that bring tears to my eyes almost every time I hear them. "Why" is one of those songs. Unbeta-ed except by me. I should be working on "I'll Be," but this idea just wouldn't leave me, and I kept getting distracted by this idea while writing the next chapter. There are actually two different versions of this story, and there could easily be a third… this is the more obvious one. If there is any interest in the other version, maybe I'll write it out as well. Some people are probably wondering when the hell this is supposed to have happened, since I say it's in October, but reference things in the show that happened after October/Halloween and "The Rocky Horror Glee Show." Yeah, well… I like those aspects, so I moved the timeline up a bit. Or maybe I squashed the earlier Season 2 episodes closer together to fit my timeline that I want. Storyline wise, it happens in "Furt," but before the wedding.
Warnings: Major character death.
The day was all wrong. Wasn't it supposed to be cold and raining? It wasn't supposed a sunny October day with just a hint of chill in the air and birds chirping cheerfully in the orange and red trees, was it? The entire situation was just wrong, because this wasn't why they were supposed to be gathered for this. It was supposed to be because he'd just found out that Ralph Lauren or Prada wanted to sell his designs. Or maybe it wasn't when they were supposed to be gathered. They were supposed to do this seventy-five years in the future after they'd all let eventful fulfilling lives, and high school was just a distant memory.
Similar thoughts were drifting throughout the small group clustered around a grave in Woodlawn Cemetery. There weren't many people in attendance. There was no minister to officiate the small funeral; just the Glee Club, Mr. Schuester, Ms. Pillsbury, a few other Cheerios and classmates, and surprisingly, Coaches Sylvester and Bieste (civil to each other for once) gathered around the grave. Carole Hudson-soon-to-be-Hummel stood clinging tightly to Burt's hand. Finn hung on to Rachel's hand, a confused and lost look in his face that was mirrored on most of the teens in attendance. The rest of the girls were huddled together with tears streaming down their faces, Mercedes in the center looking like she was about to collapse and Tina and Quinn on either side of her seemed to be the only reason she was still standing. Further away were a few reporters from local TV stations and one lone reporter from the Lima News.
For the past week the newspaper and local TV news had been awash with the headlines, "Homophobic Bullying Pushes Local Teen to Suicide," "Lima, Ohio Adds to Gay Teen Suicide Rate," and "Prejudice Leads to a Life Cut Short." Most of them hadn't turned on the TV or even looked at a newspaper in days because every time they did, it was plastered with pictures of a smiling boy they'd never see smiling again. He'd never sing with them again, never fix another car with his dad, never go to college, never get the chance to finish growing up. It tore at all their hearts, even the small group of jocks there, standing out in their bright red letterman jackets.
After the group was sure everyone who was coming was gathered, Burt stepped forward, his fingers still laced with Carole's as he took a shaky breath. "I—I want to thank you all for coming. For showing your support. For showing my boy your love, even if it can't…can't change what happened." A sob escaped the large man and he pressed his hand over his eyes, trying to regain control. He could fall apart when he was alone, not in front of everyone. He took another deep breath and lowered his hand, looking everywhere but at the ebony casket laid out in front of them as he started to speak again, "Kurt wasn't very religious; neither of us is. We kind of lost that after his mom passed. We… well, we believed in each other. Growing up, he believed that I was the one who could fix anything, and I believed he'd always be my little boy with the voice of an angel and the temper of a demon who took life head on laughed in the face of anyone who said he couldn't do something. I believed he'd always come to me with his problems…so I could fix them. But…" Burt choked up and Carole squeezed his hand, but he pulled his hand away from hers and walked closer to the casket, looking at it for the first time since everyone had gathered.
"You were supposed to talk to me. But you were stubborn and tried to take care of everything on your own. I'm not sure when we really stopped talking. I mean, I know teenagers don't want to tell their parents everything in their lives, but… but couldn't you have told me something? I know the hardest thing for you was telling me you're gay, and I guess I knew you were bullied, but I still thought you'd tell me if things got this bad."
Burt laid his hand on the coffin covered with white and dark red roses and the volume of his voice dropped as though he was sharing one last secret with his son. "Kurt, when I lost your mom, I thought it was going to break me because she took a piece of me with her. But you, you're my little boy; I helped bring you into this world. You're taking an even bigger part. I don't know if I'm strong enough for this Buddy, no matter what you said in that letter. 'You have Carole to look after you now, and Finn, the son you've always wanted. He'll appreciate your sports and fishing shows more than I can. You guys can be a happy family without me getting in the way. I'm sorry I was such a disappointment as a son.' Son, I was never disappointed in you, and the only son I've ever wanted was you. I don't care if you'd rather watch 'Project Runway' over 'Deadliest Catch.' The important thing was that we were watching together. And no matter what, Kurt Etienne Hummel, you are an important part of my happy family, and you were never in the way." Burt stopped, not knowing what else to say, not sure how much more he could say around the ever growing lump in his throat. Finally, he leaned over and placed a gently kiss on the casket, "I love you Buddy, and I'm sorry if I never said that to you enough. I've never loved anyone more than I love you and you'll always be my little Sparkplug. Just… be good for your Mom, I know you're up there with her. I love you both."
He walked back to stand beside Carole on shaky legs, looking more frail than any present had seen him look before and some had to wonder if he was truly strong enough to make it through the loss of both his wife and his son even though he now had Carole to lean on. She simply grasped the man she loved around the shoulders and pulled him into a hug, burying his face in her neck and whispering as soothingly as she could in his ear. Soon he pulled away and looked into her eyes, giving her a nod to say he was okay now. Once she was positive Burt was being truthful, Carole stepped forward and glanced at Finn before focusing on the casket while a tear fell down her face. "Kurt, I didn't get to know you as well as I would have liked, but the young man I did get to know was someone I'd be proud to have as a stepson and a friend. I wish…I wish you would have talked to someone. Finn, me, your father, one of your teachers…or even Mercedes. We could have helped, but now we can't. We're left with nothing but what-ifs and what-might-have-beens. I'll do my best to take care of your father, Kurt, but there will always be a hole in our little family where an incredibly sweet and fashionable boy ought to be. We'll miss you." She patted the casket much as she would have Kurt's shoulder and rejoined the boy's father, burying her face in his chest as she lost control over her own tears.
The group was silent for a long moment, each lost in their own thoughts, none wanting to be the one to break the solemn silence, but eventually, it was Artie who broke the quiet when he wheeled forward cautiously, helped by Brittany so that he was in front of the gathered group. "Kurt was one of my first friends, and one of my only after the accident that put me in the wheelchair. When the other kids were awkward around me, or treated me like I was some kind of freak, Kurt just walked up to me and told me that I needed to think about what clothes would go best with my new 'accessory.' I guess it was because he knew what it was like. We both were on the outside looking in; alone even in a crowd, but… but I thought we'd both found our way inside with Glee. I didn't know he still felt like an outsider." Artie looked at the casket and curled his gloved hands into fists. "I swear I didn't know Kurt. Or maybe we were all just blind and didn't want to know. But still… with all my own problems, you could have talked to me about what was going on. I knew we were the two most bullied kids in school, but I would have done something. Any of us would've." The wheelchair bound boy looked down and took a few shuddering breaths before murmuring, "I'm gonna miss you, man," and nodding to Brittany to roll him back with the group once again.
The next person to approach the coffin made everyone hold their breath in apprehension. Sue Sylvester was volatile on a good day, and there wasn't a single person in attendance who could dare call this a good day, especially when she marched up to the casket and stood glaring with her hands on her hips. "Alright Ladyface! You've got your whole bunch of fawners here going on about 'Oh, he was so wonderful,' and 'We're going to miss him so much,' but that's not what I'm here to tell you. You won Nationals for my team. Sure, you had hips like a pear, but you had a set of pipes on you that made Celine Dion jealous. I know; she called to complain that one Sue Sylvester found the voice to outsing hers on her own songs. You reminded me of myself when I met you. You had that same drive as me. The same outlook on the world that said, 'Take me as I am, or get trampled!' What the hell happened to you Porcelain? You were stronger than this. You were the type to kick them in the balls and make them lick your boots, not the type to take your own life. I have to say, I am disappointed in you."
The cheerleading coach shook her head with the saddest expression on her face any there had ever seen. "By doing this, you let them win. You let every single one of those scum-sucking bottomfeeders trying to pass as evolved simians that bullied you and called you names win. And here I'd started to develop a modicum of something that could be construed as respect for you even though you used almost as much hair gel as that viscous mass of toxins and care bear sentiments that you call a teacher," she shot a glance at where Schuester was standing, and the younger man, even with the solemnity of the event, rolled his eyes. "I ought to drag you back from whichever version of an afterlife you believe in and knock some sense into you. Because Cheerios aren't quitters, and that's what you did Ladyface! You quit, you gave up, and you are a disappointment to the title of Cheerio! You don't deserve—"
"That's enough Sue!" Mr. Schuester finally stepped forward and grabbed the caustic cheerleading coach's arm, a frown marring his face. "This is a time for mourning and to remember an incredible young man. This is not the time for one of your sanctimonious tirades!" Will's cheeks were flushed as his grip on the woman's wrist tightened, not enough to hurt, but enough to get his point across. Sue looked at the faces of those gathered and saw every single one of them frowning deeply at her and Burt looked like he was perfectly willing to put her in her own grave by rending her limb from limb with his bare hands. Her eyes widened slightly before she regained her composure and sneered at the mechanic. With one final glare at the group, she turned on her heel and walked away, pushing past the small gathering of reporters and leaving everyone else gawking.
Will shook his head, unable to believe how callous that woman could be, even after all this time. He looked over the group gathered together, his eyes lingering on his Glee kids as Mercedes sobbed on Tina's shoulder and Quinn squeezed her hand in attempt to comfort the black girl while ignoring the tears streaming down her own cheeks. Finn had a dazed look on his face as though he were having trouble that everything was really happening while Rachel held his hand clasped between both of hers and most of the other guys were huddled around their quarterback. Puck though, he was staying on the outskirts of the group, his hands buried in the pockets of his coat while he scowled at the ground, only glancing at the casket they were all surrounding before focusing on the ground again. The Spanish teacher wondered at his behavior, but this really wasn't the place or time to comment on it.
"Well," Will sighed, "since I'm already standing here, I might as well say a few words." He paused to collect his thoughts. "When I started teaching, I wanted to be the 'cool teacher.' The one that could relate with the kids and that my students felt they could come to with the problems they weren't comfortable telling to their parents. But for all my good intentions, I was blind. I'm not perfect. The kids had told me about the slushies, the body checks into the lockers… They even told me about the dumpster dives, but I never realized it was happening every day to Kurt. And every time I ever tried to talk to Kurt, he would put up a wall. And it was my mistake that I let him. In the letter he wrote me, he said that I'd made quite a good effort in attempting to care, but that I never really did. Part of that was true, but it was also wrong. I did care; I do care about every one of my kids. I just didn't show it as well as I could have. Kurt thought I could never understand what he was going through, that I could never understand what it was like to be him and deal with what he did on a daily basis. In that, he was right. I don't understand what it's like to be a gay teenager, but I do know what it's like to be a teenager who's bullied, who constantly thinks he's alone in the world. But I had people I could talk to, and so did you Kurt. I know everyone keeps saying that, for all the good it does you now, but we all feel as though we failed you. We didn't see what was happening. Maybe we all forgot just how good of an actor you can be because we think of the times where your heart was worn on your sleeve. And I guess I let you pull the wool over my eyes, and for that, I'm sorry." Will looked up and locked eyes with Burt, "I don't know that there's anything I can do to atone for my neglect, and I'll carry that guilt with me for a very long time." He let his gaze fall to the ground as he made his way back to where he'd been standing and felt Emma squeeze his arm slightly.
Most of the others had just a few words to say, sharing pleasant memories with the group. Even a couple stories of Kurt's less than shining moments were told with a rather fond exasperation rather than any anger or resentment the person might have felt at the time, and everyone realized with some amusement that Rachel had the most of those stories. And soon in reached the point that very few people hadn't said anything yet. Finn, Mercedes, Puck, and surprisingly Brittany had yet to say anything. The silence stretched out, and the gathered group fidgeted somewhat nervously until the blond cheerleader finally stepped around Artie's wheelchair and toward the center of the gathering. She poked at the casket before muttering to herself, "Don't know why we have to talk to a box. But Santana and Quinn said to just say something nice about Kurt… something about memories. Like the song from that kitty musical he showed me…"
Brittany shook her head, reminding herself to stay focused on what she was supposed to do. The other Glee Cheerios had drilled it into her over and over just to say a few nice memories about Kurt and what she thought of the boy. "I remember when I first met Kurt when we were in sixth grade. He was already there in our first class when I walked in with Santana. We were talking about wanting to be cheerleaders. Remember Sanny?" The Latina girl smiled softly at the blond and nodded. "I thought he was a doll. Like one of those My-Size Barbies, only cooler because he could move on his own. And he was so pretty. And he was really nice too. He never treated me like I was dumb. He always told me that I just had never lost my—my 'air of innocence and whimsy.' I don't know what he meant, but he always smiled when he told me, so I think it was a good thing. His hands were so soft too and strong. And his lips too. He was a really good kisser. Like really! I knew he was gay, but that didn't matter. He treated me nice, like I was more than a toy for the guys to play with, and he made me believe it too." She looked at her wheelchair bound boyfriend and gave him a beautiful but sad smile that Artie returned with his hands folded in his lap. "You know Artie, we need to thank Kurt. He taught me about real relationships. I wish he could still teach me more." The cheerleader turned back to the casket and idly played with the flowers atop as a few tears fell down her face, "It wasn't very nice of you to leave us all here. Now who is going to make my hair look all pretty or help me with the perfect outfit for my dates with Artie? I—I really wish you could come back." The girl turned around and went back to join her boyfriend who pulled her down into his lap and let her bury her now sobbing face in his shoulder while he rubbed her back, ignoring his own tears the slowly dripped down his face.
Everyone gave the couple a soft smile, but the smiles fell away as a shaking Mercedes stepped to the front of the group. She looked pale; her normally rich chocolate colored skin a rather washed out grey color, and even the best makeup couldn't hide the bruise-like circles under her eyes that told of several sleepless nights. Her hands were clasped together tightly at her waist, and if any looked closely, they'd see her nails digging into the back of the opposite hand with how tightly she was clenching them. Her breath came in gasping sobs which got harsher the closer to the casket she got. She stopped a few feet away from it and just stared for a long time until she turned and looked at everyone gathered, her eyes locking on her best friend's father, feeling like she had somehow failed the man because she hadn't seen what was going to happen. "I think I was the last person to see or talk to Kurt before he—he…" she gulped, not able to say the words. "We'd gone and had a spa day with the whole works. We'd gone to Starbucks and had lunch at our favorite restaurant. We went to the mall and shopped our hearts out… Now—now that I think about it, I guess he wanted to do all his favorite things one last time before… before he…because we never did all of them in one day. It was always a weekend here or there, and never everything the same weekend. So to do all his favorite things in one weekend…" A harsh sob escaped the girl as she covered her face with her hands. Tina and Quinn both looked like they wanted to comfort their friend, but something held them back. They knew this was something the diva had to do on her own.
"Kurt is…was… no, is. He is my best friend," she finally said as she pulled her hands away from her face. "No one can ever replace that. We told each other everything! I knew about the crushes, he knew about mine. He told me all the gossip, about Blaine and Dalton, and about the crap with Karofsky. He told me about the—the kiss… how terrified and angry he was that Karofsky had stolen that from him. I knew the shoving was getting worse, but I had no idea it was pushing him to… to ki—k—do this." Mercedes gulped down another sob.
She was almost ashamed that she couldn't actually say that her best friend had committed suicide, or that he'd killed himself. It was almost as though if she actually said the words, it would break the little bit of control she had left, and she'd never quit crying. She smoothed down the dress that he'd talked her into buying that day. You never know when you'll need a chic little black number, Cedes! Besides, it looks absolutely divine on you! "I should have known! He had 'Defying Gravity', 'Put a Ring on It', and 'Bad Romance' on repeat in the car. His three favorites, over and over again. And when…when he dropped me off at home, he told me to always remember that I was his number one girl, and nothing would ever change that. And he told me that he loved me. Not the usual, 'I love ya,' but the honest emotional type of 'I love you.' Then he hugged me so tight. It was like he thought I was going to disappear, but… it wasn't that at all was it, Kurt? You were the one slipping away. The one who was going to disappear." Mercedes looked at the ebony box her best friend was laid out in and hated it. She hated everything it represented, and her voice began to shake even more as anger mixed with sorrow. "Part of me wants to hate you for this; for being such a damned coward and hypocrite. For all your preaching not to let them get you down, not to let the bullies see they hurt you, you couldn't listen to your own advice. I hate to say it, but Coach Sylvester was right. You let the bullies and everyone who said you were wrong win!"
The diva's hand was laid on the cool lacquered wood of the casket and slowly curled into a fist as her anger grew before she pulled it away and turned back to the group, her hands still curled into fists, but at her sides. "In his letter, he told me I made him wish he weren't gay sometimes because we would have rocked as a couple, but he couldn't change who he was, no matter how hard he tried or how much the world wanted him to. And I hate to say it, but I wished he were straight at times too. Like when we'd cuddle on the couch watching movies, just like I always imagined doing with a boyfriend. But he'd still cry at the end of Titanic with me just like a best girlfriend. He was all that rolled into one fashionable divo package who always made an effort to make me feel beautiful. I—I don't know… I don't know what I'm going to do… how I'm going to make it w-without him." Quinn finally gave into her desires and rushed to her friend's side, pulling the black her into a tight hug and guiding her back to the group of girls while Mercedes sobbed on the cheerleader's shoulder.
Now it was down to two people who had yet to say anything about the boy they were all there to remember. One, the former crush turned soon-to-be brother; the other, the former tormenter turned kinda friend. One stood near his mother, clutching his girlfriend's hand; the other stood awkwardly alone even when standing with the rest of the group. Carole was nudging Finn, speaking with him quietly while he shook his head, the negative gesture gaining force with each moment until he ripped his hand away from Rachel and turned on his mother. "No Mom! I can't!"
"Honey, just say a little something. You were friends and going to be brothers."
Finn's chest was heaving with each breath he took as though Coach Bieste had just made him run a hundred laps as he looked at his mom with wide eyes. "That's just it; he was going to be my brother! I was supposed to look after him! Don't you get it?" he yelled as he gesticulated wildly around himself and at the casket where Kurt lay, "This is my fault. I didn't look after him, I didn't protect him. Everyone else told me I needed to help, but I was too much of a chicken shit. I let tiny little Kurt go up against the likes of Karofsky and all his stupid friends and I was too scared of my losing my popularity or whatever to stand up for my step-brother!"
Carole tried to lay her hand on her son's arm in an attempt to calm him down. "Finn, Sweetie, it's not your fault."
The tall boy laughed, a hollow sound that made the rest of those gathered cringe. "Yeah, it really is. I saw that he was getting bullied more, I saw the bruises from the lockers, the flinches whenever one of the guys got too close, even if Artie managed to get behind Kurt without him noticing, he'd jump like a cat trying to get away from bath water. The girls tried to get me to step in, and I wouldn't. I let Artie and Mike and even Sam get their asses handed to them instead of standing up for my brother. So yeah, Mom. It is completely my fault that Kurt killed himself. That you lost your shopping buddy, that Mercedes lost her best friend, and that Burt lost his son and his last link to Kurt's mom. It's because I didn't do anything that my brother committed suicide!" He roared the last with tears streaming down his face before he collapsed into a sobbing heap and Burt, Carole, and Rachel all surrounded him trying to calm the tall boy down.
Puck just watched everything happening around him feeling as though he shouldn't be there but something inside the jock told him he needed to be there. He knew he was supposed to say a few nice things about Hummel and then all of this would be over, and they could try to move on with their lives. The jock looked at Finn. The tall teen blamed himself, but really, Puck figured a good portion of the blame probably laid with him. He'd been the one to start the dumpster diving, the slushie facials, the body checks into lockers. The name calling had already been going on, but the rest of the torments continued to be visited upon Kurt even after Puck himself had stopped. And he'd never done anything to stop the other bullying jocks even after he'd been slushied and dumpster dived himself. The realization sank into the hazel eyed boy as well as guilt. He looked around at those assembled and wondered if any of them realized what he'd done, how he was to blame. Maybe he should leave before anyone did realize.
"I—I can't do this… I shouldn't be here," he finally muttered and turned to leave, feeling the confused gaze on Mike on his back as he fled the small funeral. He really didn't want anyone else to hear what he had to say to the dead boy anyway. He'd just have to come back later. Puck nodded to himself once he'd made his decision and climbed into his truck, the engine roaring to live as he pulled away from the group still staring at him while gathered around the star of the gathering. The mohawked jock couldn't resist a bitter snort of laughter as he drove out of the cemetery. Yeah, Kurt had definitely grabbed everyone's attention, but none of them had ever thought it would be for a reason like the fashionable countertenor committing suicide.
The sun was just starting to set, painting the sky with vivid reds, oranges, and purples, when Puck's beat up old Ford Truck pulled into the cemetery. The teen cut the engine and opened the heavy door, getting out with his old guitar in tow. He shivered slightly, going from the warmth of the truck's cab to the chill of the evening, but didn't let it bother him. The jock just looked over the neatly lined graves before focusing on the fresh grave covered in a blanket of flowers about pine boughs. He walked closer to Kurt's final resting place slowly, each step heavy, every moment certain that he was going to throw up, or maybe the better idea would be to leave. It wasn't like dead people could actually hear you, right? But Puck knew there were things he needed to get off his chest, and hell, he was Puckzilla! He wasn't going to chicken out on this.
When he reached the foot of the brunette's final resting place, he simply stared for a few minutes. There were flowers everywhere, and he could just imagine Kurt bitching about how they didn't form a complementary color palate and none of the shades complimented his skin tone or his clothes. The football player had heard similar arguments enough times that, if he closed his eyes, he could see Kurt with his hand on his hip, the other gesturing to emphasize his point, his cheeks flushed, and his eyes flashing as he argued why his design was better than anything others might come up with. Last year, it would have annoyed the hell out of him and made him want to toss the smaller boy into a dumpster. A few months ago, Kurt's tirades started making him smile because it was kind of cute to watch the countertenor, which freaked the jock out since he was, you know, straight. Now though, thinking of Kurt's rants make Noah's eyes burn and his vision blur since he would never see another one. Now he was left wondering what might have happened had he actually told the other boy that the "diva-bitch-fits" were cute, that he was cute. Would the past week have happened if Puck had?
The mohawked boy sighed as he folded his legs to sit Indian style at the foot of the grave with his guitar in his lap, his arms curled around the body as though he were hugging it. He looked at the dark grey marble headstone with its laser etched portrait of a smiling Kurt and text below.
A shining star with the voice of an Angel who left us all too soon.
Kurt E. Hummel
July 12, 1993-October 19, 2010
Beloved Son, Brother, and Friend
Puck strummed random chords on his guitar as he just stared at the grave marker, lost in his thoughts and memories of his fellow gleek. He thought of the dumpsters, the body checks into the lockers, the slushies, the name calling, insults from Kurt. Then it was Glee, the boy's fight for solos, that damned Cheerios number, regionals, glee continuing, losing Matt because his dad got a new job, new members coming and going, Burt Hummel's heart attack and how it had broken his son.
He thought about what Mercedes had said in regards to Karofsky kissing the small brunette. She said he'd been disgusted and terrified. Hell, the thought of the big jock kissing anyone was enough to disgust and terrify a person, let alone the one it happened to. Finn had mentioned something about Dave threatening to kill Kurt if he'd told. Kurt had claimed it was if he told anyone about the bullying, but now, Puck was starting to think it might have been if he'd told anyone about the kiss. What was it he'd overheard Quinn tell the Glee girls a couple days ago? Karofsky is so far in the closet, he's having tea with Mr. Tumnus. Puck snorted, yeah, that sounded about right. Though, thanks to the girls' gossip mill after Kurt had died, everyone in the school, and probably the whole town knew what had happened between the large jock and the tiny gleek. All he knew was that the linebacker was going to be in for a world of hurt tomorrow when Noah went back to school. Everyone was blaming themselves, even Puck was to an extent, but right now, he was placing every ounce of blame he could at the feet of one David Karofsky, closeted jackass extraordinaire. And he was going to make damn sure the asshat either understood what he'd done to the most amazing boy in the world or was drinking his dinner through a straw for a couple months. The risk of ending up in juvie again was worth avenging the countertenor.
Another sigh escaped the jock as he finally started to speak while picking out melodies on his guitar. "Hey Hummel. I'm sure, wherever you are, you'd sitting there saying, 'What the hell do you want, Puckerman?' I can just imagine you with your hands on your hips and that expression that just screams that you're more important than anyone in the world. The thing is man… you were right. You were probably the most important person in Glee. You were worth ten of Rachel and probably about fifty of Finn." He ran his hand through his Mohawk and growled, glad no one was around to hear him. "You really did get the most shit of anyone. And I'm really sorry. It was my fault. You were kinda intimidating when we were all like, 10, and you already had who you were figured out and didn't give a flying fuck about trying to fit in with everyone. The most important thing to you was being true to yourself. I get that now, for all the good it does either of us." He frowned as he hit a sour note on the strings of his guitar and turned the tuning key to adjust the slipped string as he collected his thoughts.
"Juvie really did a number on me. I know; what the fuck does that have to do with you, right? Don't worry, I'll get there. Anyway, juvie fucked me up, but it also woke me up. When I got out, I was so busy trying to stay out of there and get my head on straight that I didn't see what was happening to you… I mean, I knew Dave was an asshole, but I didn't think he'd push you this far. Or that you'd let him push you this far. 'Cuz after I had everything figured out in my head, me and you were going to sit down and have a long talk." Puck stopped strumming and folded his arms on the curve of his instrument's body before laying his chin on his folded hands, talking to the portrait of the boy who had changed the lives of everyone in Glee. "My counselor said there were a bunch of people I needed to have a heart to heart with. Santana, Finn, Quinn, my sister, my mom… you. You were the last one… not because you were least important or anything. Actually, you were probably the most important conversation I had to have. I sure as hell know talking to you was going to going to be the single most fucking difficult conversation I've ever had. It's almost worse doing it this way though. Because now I'll never know what your answers would be." Puck chuckled and smirked at the etched portrait, "Yeah, I know, 'Get to the point, Puck,' right?" he said, pitching his voice higher to imitate the fashionista's timbre. "The point is, I'm every bit as stupid as you always said I am. 'Puck' is a mask, just like you always used the 'Ice Queen Bitch' to hide how much we hurt you; I used my mask to hide who I really am. I hid 'Noah' away because he isn't what people think I should be. I do know that you were everything I wished I could be though. I was a dickhead and an asshole and even an ignorant Neanderthal, as you loved to call me, to hide the fact that I was shit scared every time I walked out my door."
Noah turned his gaze to some of the other headstones nearby, almost all of them belonging to people who had lived full lives and died of old age, except for the ones marking the grave of the boy he was talking to and Kurt's mother who the boy had been buried beside. The jock sighed, "You know, I have to wonder if things would have been different if I hadn't been such a chicken shit about talking to you. I hope it would have been, but then that means this would be my fault, and that's a shit ton of guilt to deal with, man. So, I guess, I hope what I had to say wasn't going to change things between us even though I really wanted it to. And that didn't make any sense at all." Puck ran his hand through his Mohawk again. "My counselor keeps telling me to stop talking around shit and just spit it out. Easy for him to say, he doesn't have to face the people and say this shit. Well, not shit, but you know what I mean… and here I go again talking around what I need to say."
He shook his head, a small, wry, smile making its way onto his face. "Man up, Puckerman," he muttered to himself with a sigh. "Some of what I'm going to say is going to sound like I'm insulting you, but just hear me out before you try to strike me with lightning or anything because I can so see Ghost or Angel Kurt doing something like that when you throw a bitch fit. You were always a grade A bitch to be around. You always looked at everyone like they were dog shit to be scraped off your shoes. It amazed me how you could be on the complete fucking bottom rung of the social ladder and yet you acted like everyone should bow down to you, even when you had slushie dripping down your face or you were climbing out of a dumpster. It used to piss me off so bad. All I wanted to do was knock you off that pedestal. But then I joined Glee, and got to know you a bit… and I started to respect you. I mean, you put up with so much shit Dude, even more than I gave you, but you kept your head high. You acted like there was something wrong with everyone else when they treated you like you were the one with some kind of disease. And then your rants and tirades and everything else about you became cute. It freaked me out! Like seriously freaked the fuck out!"
Puck let out a sound that crossed a laugh and a dry sob, and he swiped roughly at his eyes to rid them of the tears threatening to fall as he continued, his voice thick with held back emotion. "And I started to fall. Yeah me, Puck, Puckzilla, the biggest badass of McKinley High, fell in love with you, the Fairy, the Ice Queen, the Fashionista Diva. I, Noah David Puckerman fell for one Kurt Etienne Hummel. It was all the little things about you… the way your face lit up when you'd sing… the way your nose would wrinkle when Rachel was annoying you… the way you'd fix your bangs… your eyes, your smile, your voice…the way your eyes got teary when you sang 'I Want to Hold Your Hand' while your dad was in the hospital. That was the hardest time for me. I know it was way worse for you though. I mean, you already lost one parent, and then thinking you were going to lose the other? I can't even imagine how hard that was. And all I wanted to do was wrap you up in my arms and hold you. I wanted to give you the faith you needed so badly, but couldn't find in any of the places the rest of us could. And could I possibly sound like more of a pussy?" The jock could just imagine Kurt's eye roll, complete with a flip of the bangs. "But I guess that doesn't really matter now… it's just you and me here, and you aren't going to tell anyone," he chuckled sadly.
Noah started to strum his guitar again, picking out a melody as he thought things out. "A few days ago, my sister, Becca, finally asked me why your death was bothering me so much. And suddenly, I was bawling my eyes out and our entire history came pouring out. I told her everything. The way I'd treated you since we were kids, how things had changed, how your… your suicide meant I'd never find out if things between us could have changed even more. She made me listen to this song. She's a big country fan, and I'm really not, but it wasn't too bad. I didn't really listen to the words at first, but Becca made me listen to it again… and wow…" Puck ran his hand through his Mohawk as he thought of how the song had affected him. "I've listen to that song constantly for the past three days. I even taught myself to play it. It sounds better on piano, like the song was done by Rascal Flatts, but it kinda works this way. Anyway, it's called 'Why,' and I was thinking… maybe if you don't strike me down with lightning or something for singing it to you, maybe I'll sing it for Glee this week. Maybe it can help those you left behind start to heal…"
He looked down at his guitar as he started to pick out the opening melody in the twilight, but looked up and locked his gaze on the portrait of the most beautiful boy he'd ever seen as he started to sing.
"There must have been a place so dark,
You couldn't feel the light
Reaching for you
Through that stormy cloud
Now here we are gathered
In our little home town
This can't be the way you meant to draw a crowd
That's what I keep asking
Was there anything I could have said or done
Had no clue you were masking
A troubled soul
God only knows
What went wrong
And why you would leave the stage in the middle of a song
Now in my mind I keep you frozen as a sixteen year old
Kicking high to score the winning goal"
A watery chuckle escaped as he thought of the boy's lone football game, and Kurt making all the jocks dance to that damned Beyonce song. He'd wanted to kill the smaller boy for that, but it was also the first time he'd ever noticed Kurt's ass as he'd shook it on the football field. Damn the boy knew how to work it.
"You always played with passion
No matter what the game
When you took the stage
You shined just like the sun
That's what I keep asking
Was there anything I could have said or done
Had no clue you were masking
A troubled soul
God only knows
What went wrong
And why you would leave the stage in the middle of a song
Puck ignored the tears that streamed down his face as he continued. He voice was shaking as he moved between his normal voice and falsetto and wished he'd done so many things differently so maybe Kurt would still be with them. None of them would be going through this pain, and just maybe Kurt would have been "his boy" in the sense that he really wanted him to be.
Now the oak trees are swaying
In the early autumn breeze
The golden sun is shining on my face
With tangled thoughts I hear a mocking bird sing
This old world really ain't that bad a place
There's no comprehending
And who am I
To try to judge or explain
Oh but I
Do have one burning question
Who told you life (Who told you life)
Wasn't worth the fight
They were wrong
Now you're gone
And we cried
Cuz it's not like you to walk away in the middle of a song
Your beautiful song
Your absolutely beautiful song.
The last notes of the song drifted away and Noah blinked, trying to clear his eyes of the tears that were still falling unchecked down his face. "Your absolutely beautiful song…" he whispered and thought of that angelic voice he'd never hear perform live again and the heights it used to soar to. He wiped his tears away with one hand as he stood and looked down at the gravestone. He clutched the guitar by the neck as he moved to stand beside the stone memorial and kissed his fingertips before pressing them against the top of the cold marble. "Alav hashalom, meineh Bashert. Ikh vil libn`du oyf eybik." Darkness had almost completely fallen as Puck carefully picked his way through the cemetery to get back to where he'd parked his truck. He pulled his letterman jacket closer around him to ward off the chill and sighed as he reached the old Ford.
Noah opened the door and set his guitar on the passenger side before turning back and looking at the grave he'd just left one last time. "I really do love you," he murmured and looked up at the sky as rain started to fall. But not the cold rain one usually expected for an October night, no, it was a warm, gentle rain. Kind of what you'd expect during the summer. The kind of rain that you wanted to run outside and play in when you were a kid. Puck definitely believed in God and signs from heaven, and that's what he took the rain as. It was a sign that Kurt had liked the song and he should perform it for the Glee Club. And as he drove away, he couldn't help but hope that maybe it was also an "I love you too."
A/N Part 2: I've changed a few of the lyrics to suit the story better, primarily the age, and swapped the baseball reference for football. I hope you all appreciate this story and what it stands for.