I'll Cover You
Written for amaxdear in the 2010 Chrismukkah Fic Exchange.
In McKinley High, Cheerios were both revered and pitied: on one hand, you were arguably the choicest piece of ass, the most popular of the school body, the envied and respected. But the downside, to put it in layman's terms…
"Honestly, what goes on in that bitch's head?" Mercedes asked no one in particular. She shook her head at Kurt and Quinn, both of whom twitched and shifted their eyes around the sleepy, half-full Starbucks. "Oh, take a chill pill. I highly doubt Coach Sylvester has spies planted in a café."
"You never know," Quinn murmured seriously, staring at Mercedes through her unfairly long, thick lashes. "Where Sue Sylvester is concerned, I've quickly learned anything is possible."
"I still can't believe she used a police-trained dog for cardio training last year." Kurt sounded both horrified and fascinated all at once. "I'm glad I missed out on that one."
Quinn shuddered. "I'll never look at German Shepherds the same way again…"
"Anyway… so Coach wants all of her cheer-minions to leech themselves onto unsuspecting jocks." Mercedes stated to no one in-. Kurt frowned. What was this? A sitcom recap? He really wondered who the hell his girl thought she was talking to.
Their order was called, and there was a lull in conversation as they took their drinks and snacks to a booth table off in a secluded corner. Kurt took to one side of the booth, watching with expertly-veiled amusement (and a spot of jealousy that made him feel guilty almost instantly) as Quinn all but yanked Mercedes into the space beside her. God, if the two of you don't stop crazy-flirting and get naked already… Kurt thought in consternation.
…Well, he thought he did, anyway.
"Excuse me?" Mercedes yelped. Her eyes were hilariously, comically wide. Like a chipmunk's. (Curse your sweet, sweet viral corruption, YouTube…)
"So, our crazy Coach!" He looked to Quinn.
The blonde's cheeks were flaming (pun not intended), but she kept her cool façade in place. "She said that, as Cheerios, we should expect nothing less than Rolls-Royce, even if the closest McKinley has to offer are junkyard clunkers." Quinn smirked. "And she's not making any exceptions… for any of us." She shot Kurt a significant look, and Mercedes' eyes widened.
"Oh my… Does that loon seriously think Kurt can bag himself a jock boyfriend without getting his ass kicked?"
"Jeez, Mercedes, no offense or anything…" Kurt huffed, irritation tugging his lips into a pout as he toyed with the swizzle stick in his drink.
"No offense," Mercedes insisted. "But really."
Kurt rolled his eyes. "Whatever. I tried reasoning with her, but-"
"You tried?" Quinn asked, both perfectly-tweezed eyebrows raised in surprised respect.
"Yes I did, but-"
"I'm surprised he's not hooked up to an iron lung." Mercedes chuckled and bumped shoulders with the girl beside her.
Quinn smirked, shooting Mercedes a highly amused sideways glance. "Forget that, I'm surprised he's still alive."
"Okay, can the two of you stop being so disgustingly in lesbian with each other and help me out here?" Kurt asked. His patience was dwindling just as fast as the whipped cream in his cup. "I've got nothing against your torrid ho-mance, or whatever it is you've got going on. But I've got a personally existential crisis on my hands here! If I don't have a jock-"
"'You'll be kicked off the squad and not even the bloodhounds will find your ashen remains,'" Mercedes recited with a bored look. (They'd had this conversation a couple times on the way to Starbucks.) "We know."
Quinn was still a bit pink around the cheeks, but she was the perfect picture of composure as she delicately bit into her vanilla bean scone. "I still don't see why you won't consider Puck…"
Mercedes butted in again with an unimpressed frown, which was strangely similar to her bored look. Weird, that. "If you're gonna say something along the lines of what I think you are, I might have to reach over the table and hit you-manicure be damned."
"Look-Kurt," Quinn said hastily, noting the angry tension radiating off her friends. "I agree with Mercedes." She benevolently ignored his muttered "Of course you do." "Puck might not be gay, but his sexuality definitely has some wiggle-room."
Kurt frowned at her like a particularly confusing algebraic equation, but he didn't immediately shoot her down like she expected him to. "How would you know that?" he asked suspiciously.
Quinn took very obvious affront, tensing in her seat. "Well, considering we had a child together-" at Kurt's scoff, she conceded with a sigh. "Okay, fine. As hard as it is to believe, Santana doesn't keep her sexual prowess on the DL."
Mercedes snorted. "That's more like it."
Quinn frowned at the other girl. "And what is that supposed to mean?"
Kurt watched as his best friend smirked, rolling his eyes with no small amount of ire. Of course an strategizing meet would devolve into Quinn and Mercedes getting their ninja-lesbian on. It was just his luck.
Kurt sighed in defeat and pulled out his cell phone to give Puck a quick update. hey q & cedes flirtin… no plan yet. see you. He was as discreet as possible while he texted but with how obsessed Quinn and Mercedes were with each other, he could've read his text out loud without concern. Hell, he could've gone through all of his old messages to and from Puck last night and the girls would be none the wiser.
Presently, Mercedes patted the pale hand closest to her with something akin to sympathy. "It means, you're kind of ridiculously vanilla."
Quinn scrunched her nose. "Is this-are you being… racist?"
"Wha-no!" Mercedes threw her head back and laughed, squeezing Quinn's hand ever-so-slightly. "No. Vanilla, as in, you wouldn't know the first thing about sex that's kinkier than doing it with the lights on."
"Oh. I-um." Quinn flushed pink and she had to pull her hand away to clear her head. She fiddled with her cross necklace (a nervous gesture) while she went over the rapidly-diminishing list of the downsides of kissing Mercedes. (No matter how much she wanted to… and she wanted.)
Mercedes' smile dimmed a bit at the action; it was clear she was hurting. As if sensing the awkward teenage angst, Kurt glanced up from his phone. He opened his mouth to ask what was wrong, but Mercedes beat him to the punch.
"Who you texting, Kurt?" Mercedes asked with copious curiosity and deviousness. The sudden loudness made the old man at the next table flinch and spill his coffee all over his table. "Is it Blaine?"
Kurt rolled his eyes. "No, 'Cedes! Please tell me you're not insinuating what I think you are." he snapped. "I've told you time and time again: two gay men can have a healthy platonicrelationship."
"And I told you, that boy has feelings for you!" Mercedes retorted, taking another sip of her iced tea. "I mean, he texts you every day, he bought you the same exact Hermes scarf that was lost in last month's slushie massacre…"
God, how could he forget about that headache? He knew that Blaine meant well, but it opened up a can of jealousy-worms he hadn't been prepared for. "We're friends, Mercedes." Kurt said firmly. "Just friends."
"Anyway…" Quinn knew an impasse when she saw one. She figured the moving-right-along duty fell onto her shoulders since Mercedes and Kurt were both too stubborn to give up without getting into some huge, dramatic argument. "If it wasn't Blaine, then who were you texting?"
Kurt took his time answering, radiating reluctance. "…It's Puck." he said after taking a long sip of what was left of his cider. He glared warningly at the two girls before him. "All he wanted was to borrow my Bio notes, since he forgot to-and I quote-ask Terry-that's his girlfriend, remember?-for them when we totes swapped spit during free period." Kurt put his phone off to the side, giving Mercedes and Quinn a level, repulsed look. "And that is why I refuse to proposition Puck. He has a girlfriend, you guys. I'm not so cruel as to snatch Theresa's boyfriend right from underneath her nose."
Wisely, no one brought up Kurt's attempted seduction of Finn even when he was off the market.
"Wait-you guys," Quinn piped up, frowning a little. "Who's Theresa? Is she in our grade?"
Mercedes shrugged. "I dunno. I figure you'd know better than me." Both girls looked from each other to Kurt.
"I have absolutely no idea," Kurt shrugged. He stared down at his mug, his mouth set in a thin line.
Quinn leaned her chin on one hand, her eyes narrowed on Kurt in suspicion. She was picking up on something, but she wasn't sure what. "Weird," she finally said but filed Kurt's reaction away in her mind for later. "Okay, so Puck's out of the question. Who do you propose is the next possible candidate?"
Kurt threw his hands up as he glared at the two girls in turn. "I don't know! That's kind of the whole reason we're here in the first place, isn't it?"
They wouldn't come up with any solid choice for runner-up possible-boyfriend. Every guy at McKinley was either a homophobic douche, taken or a creeper. (Either that, or Puck just didn't approve. "What? If we're secret-dating, then you obviously have standards, Kurt!")
As he drove to Puck's place from Starbucks, Kurt briefly considered running home and tearfully begging to be transferred out of McKinley. Sure, it would be weak and pathetic of him to run away from his problems-maybe even a bit selfish, what with how steep Dalton's tuition was-but least he wouldn't have to deal with the possibility of Coach going all Kill Bill on his ass.
Kurt got out of his Navigator and grabbed his messenger bag off the passenger seat before strutting up to the front door of the ranch home Puck lived in. It was sort of dismal-looking: the paint was more faded, wistful off-white than cheery sunshine-yellow, but at least the inside wasn't nearly as depressing.
Puck answered the door, dressed down in his comfortable clothes. He smirked at Kurt and reclined against the doorframe. "Hey babe, sup?"
Kurt had to admit that if there was anyone on the face of the planet who could make flannel work, it was Puck. God, he just wanted to crawl into those pants… or tear them off altogether. Puck probably knew it, too, the bastard.
He cleared his throat, emulating cool composure (until Puck closed the door, at least). "Hey, you're the one who asked me to stop by," he reminded coyly as he brushed past Puck into the foyer. He ignored the way Puck jutted his face forward, whipping his scarf off and giving the other boy a mouthful of wool.
"Dude, I wanted some tongue, not-!" The rest of Puck's complaint was muffled by Kurt's lips. Kurt pulled away after a moment, grinning when Puck-eyes half-closed and looking like a dope-tried following him. Puck blinked and cleared his throat, shoving his hands into the large pockets of his lounge pants. His cheeks were a little ruddy underneath the tan skin and stubble. "Asshole."
"Douchebag," Kurt retorted sweetly.
Puck rolled his eyes with a grin. "Take off your shoes and c'mon back to my room. I got something to show you," he said.
"Ooh, is this another one of your kinky games?" Kurt asked. "Like last Saturday?"
"Hell no. Saturday was, like, your Christmas present or something. That was a once-in-a-year fancy French dinner you gotta book months in advance." Puck paused and smirked at Kurt's wistful look of reminiscence. "Okay, maybe not once a year…"
Kurt grinned in triumph. "Alright, let's see what the big surprise is," he said slyly, dragging Puck down the narrow hall.
The pint-sized Cheerio hurried into Sue's office, clipboard at hand and headset in place. "Yes, Coach?"
"Give me a status update on one Porcelain Hummel," she commanded, leaning back in the ergonomic swivel chair she wheedled-okay, threatened-out of Figgins a week into the job.
Becky obediently rambled off little facts and observances, most of which Sue had already been made privy to courtesy of her school-wide surveillance cameras. (Up to and including Hummel's little locker room rendezvous with one Noah Puckerman. Loofahs still made her shudder.)
"And Noah Puckerman is dating Theresa," Becky finished with a proud, impatient-for-praise smile.
Sue frowned, stroking her powerful jaw as she went through a mental catalogue of all the students and staff of McKinley High. "Theresa, Theresa… Becky! I need you to hit the school directory, do a search of any and all Theresa's who go here. I don't care if they're a student or a geriatric teacher," Sue grimaced. "Run everyone."
"Got it, Coach!"
Sue returned Becky's enthusiastic salute with one of her own, smiling ever-so-slightly. (What? So Becky was a bit of a soft spot for her. even impenetrable steel walls had weak spots-she would know.)
She waited until Becky had skipped out of her office to spin around in her chair, draining the rest of her smoothie concoction of the day (flaxseed-chipotle, with just a hint of Creatine). Sue couldn't help wondering if she was getting too soft in her maturity.
"Get over yourself, Sly!" she growled not a moment later. She slapped herself across the face for good measure. "This isn't you going weak, this is you lining up your allies for when the time comes to dominate Allen Country. That is it."
Feeling resolved and self-assured, Sue opened the surveillance feeds on her Macbook only to scowl and punch the surface of her desk when LoserCam3 (the choir room) gave her a crystal-clear image of Porcelain's pathetic little mug as he gave a solo performance of some Broadway shit… to an empty room. "Oh, for the love of-Becky!" she shouted, slamming her laptop shut with jarring force.
"Line the band geeks up in front of my office, pronto." she said. Sue cracked her knuckles, a grim smirk on her face. "I'm in need of some serious target practice."
Mercedes was just getting into the newest issue of Rolling Stone when someone knocked at the front door. Figuring it was just the UPS guy, she snuggled deeper into the couch cushions and went back to the Q and A with Will..
The person on the other side of the door didn't seem to get the memo, knocking louder and harder. Mercedes scowled until she heard "Sadie, open the freaking door!"
She shoved a nail file in the magazine to hold her place and hurried to the door. "What the hell, Q? There better be some zombie apocalypse or someth-"
Quinn stopped her with a hand on her chest-a bit too close to Mercedes' boobs, but if Quinn could pretend it was cool… well, two could play that game.
"There is no Theresa," Quinn cried.
Sue paused mid-throw and turned to assess her protégé with a half-nod. "Any updates on that cafeteria lady situation, Becky?"
Becky shook her head, eyes wide. "I did like you said, Coach," the girl said excitedly, "But the computer couldn't find Theresa!"
Sue smirked, tossing and catching the water balloon filled with Aunt Jemima's finest butter-flavored maple syrup substitute. "Just as I suspected," she announced to the football field full of cowering, whimpering percussion players. "An ass-backwards case of Where's Waldo."
"What do you want me to do, Coach?"
"Nothing yet, Beckster." Sue hefted the balloon with her throwing arm one more time before getting into her fatal pitcher's position. "I want you to go back to my office and get that meatloaf and E. Coli surprise scandal taken care of."
"Roger that, Coach!"
Sue pegged Shrimpy Tuba Player in the chin with sadistic glee.
Puck stopped Kurt in the hall before second period the following morning, biting his bottom lip. "Yo Kurt, have you noticed something… weird with the football team today?"
Kurt frowned. "Weird how?" he asked. "Maybe they're sick? The local news just did a segment on an E. Coli outbreak…"
"What? Nah, I meant…" Puck shook his head. "You know what? I'm being paranoid, it's probably nothing."
Kurt gave Puck an assessing, confused look. "Okay… Well, I've got to go to class. I'll catch you later."
"Wait, I'll walk ya."
"You sure?" Kurt asked softly, shooting a covert glance around the busy hall. "I mean, you don't have to-"
"I'm walking you to class." Puck said firmly. Kurt shrugged and let Puck fall into step beside him as he went to third period Chem, ignoring whatever odd looks others shot them. (And there was the faint urge to hold Puck's hand but if the other boy's magnetic fingers were any indication, he wasn't the only one struggling to keep their cover.)
A hallway down from Mrs. Henderson's classroom, Puck and Kurt caught sight of Azimio. They tensed but kept walking like nothing was amiss but then the gargantuan jock halted right in front of them. Kurt froze to a standstill, but Puck sauntered up to the other jock with his usual confident swagger. "Sup?" he asked, somehow managing a cordially threatening tone.
Azimio went to say something, but he obviously thought better of it because he just shook his head and walked around the both of them without a second glance.
Kurt met Puck's wide-eyed gaze with one of his own. They suddenly felt every single pair of eyes watching them, and every mumbled conversation when people passed made them on-edge with suspicion.
"I told you!" Puck stage-whispered. "I fuckin' told you!"
"What the actual fuck is going on?" Kurt hissed.
They got their answer later on that day.
Artie was struggling with Puck to get the law of cosines down when the loudspeaker crackled to life. No one thought anything of it until the booming voice of one Sue Sylvester commanded their attention.
"McKinley High, I am making this announcement once and once only. If I find myself having to repeat the following message, potater tots won't be the only thing to mysteriously go missing and students may or may not find themselves being… encouraged to hurry to class by frenzied, dung-flinging chimp hall monitors."
Puck shared a disturbed look with Artie, who scribbled WTF? in the margin of Puck's scrap paper. "I don't know, dude," Puck muttered, ignoring the teacher's lame attempts to shush him.
"As you may know, I issued yet another standard for the elite of McKinley High: all cheerleaders are to date jocks and jocks only. However, it seems that even the great Sue Sylvester is prone to mistakes." She paused for dramatic (terrorizing) effect. "Therefore, I am making this public announcement to amend the aforementioned ruling: All Cheerios must date either jocks or other Cheerios, regardless of sexual preference… with one specific, baby-faced exception."
Puck's heart sank in trepidation. Artie yelped when the pencil in Puck's tight fist snapped clean in half.
"As the Cheerios Coach of McKinley High, it is my right to mandate that one Kurt Hummel will be strutting about in his bedazzled wardrobe with Noah Puckerman as his boy-toy."
Coach Sylvester kept talking, but the blood rushing in Puck's ears made it impossible to hear anything else. All he could think was Oh dear fucking Lord, I'm toast, over and over and over again.
Now, everyone stared at them like the jocks had been.
"Maybe Coach got to the jocks first?" Kurt squeaked. His face had been stuck in a permanent state of fire engine-red ever since Sylvester's announcement. "That's the only explanation I can come up with…"
Puck shrugged. He was too busy scoping the halls for peoples' reactions. While most looked shocked-some even downright disturbed-no one bugged them about it. Karofsky was the most threatening-looking of them all, but he just clenched his jaw and turned in the other direction whenever Puck would happen to see him. Odd, that.
"Are you-you're not checking hot girls out already, are you?" Kurt snapped.
Puck rolled his eyes. "No, actually, I wasn't. I'm just wondering what crawled up Karofsky's ass," he said, nodding toward Dave who was quickly backtracking his way down the next hall.
He didn't catch Kurt's reaction until he said, in a cold, deadpan voice, "Don't. That jerk is not worth a moment of my time."
Puck was going to ask what Kurt's issue was, but he knew a lost cause when he saw one and he'd rather not get into an argument over Karofsky and miss out on some mack time later on.
"So, I guess you're kinda stuck with me," Puck stated.
Kurt raised an eyebrow. "And you seem strangely okay with that."
Puck shrugged. "Make the best of it, I figure."
"So… wanna make out?"
Kurt just laughed like Puck just told a really good joke. Meanwhile, Puck frowned and wondered what the hell was so freakin' funny.
"Can you believe it?" Mercedes asked for the thousandth time.
Quinn watched as the other girl painted her nails. "Puck and Kurt? Yeah… I can." Mercedes paused to give her a dubious look. "I'm serious! They're sort of good for each other, you know?"
Mercedes watched her for an uncomfortably long time. "…Yeah," she finally said, "I know."
Quinn felt the urge to squeeze her cross necklace, but she resisted. If God loved everyone, He could find it in His Heart to love her too-no matter who she loved.
Taking a steeling breath, Quinn tugged her hand out of Mercedes' warm, electrifying grip. "So, I was thinking…"
Mercedes frowned, but put the bottle of nail polish aside. "Yeah?"
"You know how Coach made that new rule?" Quinn asked softly. "About the-the whole preference thing?"
"Well, I…" Quinn squeezed her hands together in her lap, uncaring whether she smeared her Pink-O-Gallo polish or not. Anything was better than her necklace, if only because it looked like Mercedes wanted to cry each and every time she did it. Don't touch it, don't touch it…!
Quinn looked up through the fan of her eyelashes and gasped when Mercedes was closer than Quinn had realized. She could smell the other girl's perfume-it was something by Baby Phat, but Quinn couldn't be bothered to remember the actual name. "Q?" she asked softly, clasping her hands in Quinn's.
"If you wouldn't mind…" she squeaked. "I, um…"
Mercedes smiled softly. "Quinn Fabray, you and Kurt better start begging to get me back on the team," she said before leaning forward and pressing their lips together.
"Be my lover and I'll cover you, yeah…"
His teeth rattled in his jaw when he slammed the choir room's piano keys in surprise. Kurt flushed and played it off, brushing his bangs away from his forehead. "Hey, 'Cedes. What's up?"
She rushed forward and squeezed him into an impromptu hug. He flailed for a second, making weak protests, before saying "Screw it!" and wrapping his arms around his girl.
"Thank you," she whispered. "Just… thanks."
Kurt didn't bother telling Mercedes she wouldn't be so thankful when she found out Coach's new training regimen. He just smiled and ran his fingers through Mercedes' hair.