A/N: Okay, so...naming Artie's physiotherapist Dr. Walker? Totally not intentional. Oops?
Puck's really not that much of a hardass.
There's actually a lot of things about him that kids at school don't know, and Finn only knows a few of them. For one, he's asthmatic and he needs to have an inhaler in his pocket at all times (Finn has no knowledge of this – the only people who do are his mom, his sister, and the school nurse). Second, he's a total Harry Potter nerd and he sort of fancies himself as a Sirius Black-type character (this, Finn does know). Third, he's an awesome babysitter – he has to be, since his sister is almost ten years younger than him and his mom's either too busy or too drunk to do her mom-duties – and he's good at cooking and that kind of shit. Fourth, he's a fantastic storyteller, and fifth, he's really sort of a mama's boy.
He's not all that sure how exactly he came to have a reputation for the school bad boy; it was really something that just sort of happened. He's not gonna lie, though – he likes it. He likes the attention and he likes that people tend to give him what he wants. He likes the fact that if he's ever in the mood to hit something (which is a mood he's in a lot, given that his mom's an alcoholic and his dad kind of doesn't exist), people aren't surprised when he goes and beats the crap out of someone at the bottom of the food chain.
It's more than a little convenient.
At home, with just his mom and sister in the house, Puck tends to lose a lot of who he is at school. Which is weird, because he doesn't usually like being home, especially since his mom has a new boyfriend. But because his mom's occupied with said boyfriend, it means that Puck needs to be home more often to take care of his sister. And this is where the awesome babysitting skills come in.
It's one of these afternoons when he's fallen asleep on the couch and is woken up by Sarah jumping on him. "Holy shit," he groans, still half-asleep. "You're like a sack of potatoes."
"Noah," she whines, prodding him. "Wake up."
He sighs, his eyes still closed. "What do you want?" he slurs.
"You fell asleep in the middle of Parcheesi," Sarah tells him matter-of-factly.
Through his sleepy daze, he remembers blacking out in the middle of the game. He's been exhausted by shit lately, but he's got no idea why. He also has no idea how he ended up horizontal if he's only been asleep for a minute or so. "How long've I been out?" he slurs.
He finally forces himself to open his eyes and look at her. "Three hours?" he repeats, a little more coherently.
Sarah nods, sitting on his hip. She's getting heavy. "Yeah, you looked tired so I didn't wake you up," she explains. "I made you a bracelet."
He raises his eyebrows. "Another one?"
"Uh-huh." She hands him a little circle of knotted thread. She's actually really good at making bracelets and stuff, and this one's no exception. It's green and blue and white and black, with a streak of yellow.
"Cool." It actually is.
"Put it on," she orders, grabbing his wrist and sliding the bracelet onto it. She's made him a ton of bracelets before so she knows his size exactly. She doesn't ask him if he likes it.
"You wanna finish Parcheesi?" he asks.
She shrugs. "Nah, I put it away."
"Upstairs with Rick. I think they're having sex."
Puck grimaces at that mental picture. "Ew, Sar. Don't talk about shit like that." He finally sits up, raking his fingers through his mohawk. "You hungry?"
He makes macaroni and cheese for the two of them and they're sitting at the table eating it when Rick wanders into the kitchen. "Hey, kid, where's the beer?" he asks Puck.
"In the fridge, dumbass."
"Watch it." Rick goes over to the fridge and pulls out a cold one, popping the cap off with his teeth. "So what have you and the squirt been up to?" He winks at Sarah and she sticks her tongue out at him.
"The usual," Puck says. He doesn't like talking to Rick. The guy rubs him the wrong way for some reason, but he's seventeen, so what say does he have?
"We played Parcheesi, but Noah fell asleep," Sarah says.
Rick nods disinterestedly. "You finish your homework?"
"Not yet. I didn't get the math homework so Noah's helping me with it later."
Rick chuckles, and Puck can feel his defenses go up immediately. "What are you, retarded?" he says to Sarah. "You're, what, third grade and you don't get your adding and shit?"
In the blink of an eye, Puck bristles and he's on his feet. "Don't call her that," he snarls.
"Oh, now who's retarded?"
Rick's eyes harden. He points a warning finger at Puck. "Watch it, kid."
Puck's nostrils flare in anger. "Get out."
"I said get out. You can't talk to my sister like that and get away with it, asshole."
Rick scoffs. "Yeah? And what are you gonna do? You're a fucking brat just like your sister."
Puck's lip curls and his fists clench. He may be a brat like his sister, but he's got muscles, damn it, and at the very least he can look intimidating. "Get. Out." he repeats.
"You can't just ask me to leave, kid."
"I ain't asking."
"Well, I ain't leaving," Rick says, taking a gulp of his beer like this is no big deal.
Puck debates his choices. He could punch Rick in the nose, like he really, really wants to do, or he could let it go. After all, it wasn't the first time Rick had called Sarah names. But damn it, he wanted it to be the last.
"Noah?" Sarah says, and he glances at her. She's crying a little and she's scared of what he'll do. Puck sighs and backs down.
"Thought so," smirks Rick.
When Mr. Schue calls on Puck to perform, Puck stands up with his guitar and sits on a stool. He's wearing the new bracelet Sarah made him in addition to his old one, but he doubts the Gleeks notice this. He takes a few moments to get comfortable, then begins to strum a smooth, rhythmic melody from the strings. He draws a breath and begins.
"Well, we had to pull on something, so we're grabbing at the threads," he sings, not letting himself look at his small audience and keeping his eyes on his fingers as they work. "And now the world's unraveling inside our very hands. Glasses smeared with lipstick, hungry eyes out in the street. Same old bodies moving to the same old beat – have to draw the line. Have to draw the line."
Puck's not really sure why he's performing this song, but it seemed right so he's just going with it.
"All this talk can hypnotize you, and we can ill afford to give ourselves to sentiment when our time is oh so short." He studies the tiny knots in his bracelet as his left hand holds down the strings on the guitar's neck. "Names beneath the lichen on these cemetery stones. Carnivals of silverfish waiting to dance upon our bones – have to draw the line! Help me draw the line!"
His voice grows stronger as he reaches the song's bridge, still keeping his eyes on his bracelet though he doesn't know why he's staring at it. "I've been doubting yours, baby. I've been doubting mine. I've been out of circulation where the sun don't shine. I've been doubting fame and wealth, charity, even love itself – draw the line."
For some reason, at that moment he remembers Rick's expression when he told Puck that he wasn't going anywhere. It curdles his blood and makes him sing with fury underlining his words. "I ain't saying he's bad, baby. I ain't saying he's good. Merely that he ain't so different, 'neath his executioner's hood. In the name of liberty, in the name of brotherhood – have to draw the line, have to draw the line."
He plays the strings with more force now, every name that Rick has called him and Sarah for the past year and a half flowing through his head and feeding his voice. "Need to take some pride, baby. Need to take some heart. Need to take evasive action when the rumpus starts. Here we are buck naked, yeah, but where do we begin when it's not the flesh we're after but the howling ghost within? Have to draw the line! Help me draw the line!"
The song ends abruptly and Puck barely registers that the class is applauding. He realizes he's decided that when he goes home this afternoon, he's kicking Rick out once and for all. He fiddles with his bracelet as he takes his seat again.
A/N: The song was "Draw The Line" by David Gray.
Quick sidenote: when I said in the first paragraph that Puck has asthma, that's because I posted a oneshot about this titled Inhale a while ago and now it's sort of part of my headcanon. I couldn't help including it... Leave a review!