A/N: Posted at my livejournal on April 26, 2011, and was written for a prompt on the glee_angst_meme comm.
Lauren's never really held any sort of affection for Hummel, but even she can't help but smile when the kid flings his arms open and announces, "Kurt Hummel is back at McKinley!" He's wearing a freakin' top hat and fingerless gloves when he does it, and it's pretty ballsy, considering he's yelling his return to not only the glee club, but to dozens of his apathetic peers.
After he's done proclaiming his excellence, Hummel comes down to their little group, hugging and talking and tearing up. Mercedes keeps a firm hold on his hand, like she's afraid he'll dart if she doesn't keep a grip on him, and asks if he has plans on re-joining glee.
"Who are you kidding," Puckerman buts in, grinning. "I'm pretty sure he only came back so he could go to nationals with us."
As Kurt sputters, vehemently denying Puck's words, Brittany frowns and begins counting on her fingers. "Oh, no," she says with that lost little girl voice that sort of really grates after a while. "Now we have thirteen members in New Directions! Thirteen is, like, totally unlucky! We're gonna lose for sure."
Lauren shares an eye roll with Puckerman, but she notices Berry's intense gaze before she can truly disregard the blonde's words. She narrows her eyes, and that's sufficient enough to make Berry turn her attention back towards Hummel. Still, the attention makes Lauren a little uneasy. She's a smart broad; she realizes where Berry'll try to go with this. There's no way she's voluntarily leaving glee, though. Sure, it may still be loser central, and even her reign over the A/V club is suffering a bit over the split in attention, but glee's sort of fun.
"Yo," Puck says, knocking his shoulder into hers softly. "Bell rang, hot mama. You going to class? Or we gonna skip?"
She blinks, and, sure enough, everybody's slowly but surely making their way into the school. The glee club's almost at the doors, all revolving around Hummel with excitement, but Rachel, Quinn, and Santana are lagging a bit behind, talking seriously about something. Berry eyes her up once again.
"One: I have a name, and it's not 'yo' or 'hot mama.' It's Lauren—Ms. Zizes, if you're nasty—learn it, use it. And two…Well, take a seat, Puckerman, I've got something I need to talk to you about."
The boy raises an eyebrow and obviously gets too many ideas, looking too excited. "We're gonna do it right in the middle of the courtyard? Damn, you are badass."
"Sorry, but no." She leans against the metal railing behind her and absently holds on to the strap of her bag that lies across her chest. How does she put this without sounding like a complete wuss? But only a wuss wonders if they're being a wuss, she realizes, and just lays it out there. "Now that Hummel's back, what're my chances of staying in glee? God help me, but I'm sort of fond of you idiots, and I'm not really ready to get the boot."
Puckerman looks confused. It's sort of cute, in a little boy lost kind of way. "Why would you get the boot? Glee's always looking for new members. I mean, look at the hard-on everybody had to get that little Asian chick to join, or even how bad Finn wanted Sam to join in. You're not going to just be kicked out because we have twelve members."
Yeah, Lauren thinks, but Sunshine No-one-cares-on—and, okay, maybe she's still a little bit bitter about the girl screwing them over at the Night of Neglect benefit—and Mr. Trouty Mouth himself don't exactly break the mold on what a typical glee club member looks like, meaning hot, in a stereotypical, media-centric sort of way. She knows she's all sorts of attractive, but it's not in a conventional way. It would be cool to say the glee club and it's members were above such pettiness, but Lauren knows all of them.
And, well, she's only had one solo, and that was a song Rachel Berry was unlikely to approve of. She hasn't really shown what she can do with her voice, but she knows she's at the very least better than Brittany. She's pretty kick-ass at swaying in the background, but that's not really something a thirteenth member is necessary for. The odds are stacked against her in many, many ways.
"Besides, glee's sort of like the mafia: You're family once you join, and the only way you can get out of it is with a bullet between your eyes." He sighs, and it's obvious that he can tell she's not convinced. "Anyway, you're not the newbie anymore, are you? Kurt is. So, if they wanna keep it down to twelve, he's the one that's gotta go, and there ain't no way that'll happen. And, I mean, why would they even want to get rid of you? Your badass-ary has been proven."
Puck shrugs, smiles that smug smile again, and put his arm around her shoulders. "Now, Ms. Zizes—because I am nasty—what are we gonna do with the thirty five minutes we have left before next period?"
Lauren lets his arm stay where it is, but she's quick to tell him that she has no interest in a nooner.
She has third period geography with Puckerman, and that's the only fellow glee member she usually sees until after school practice. At lunch, though, as she leaves the cafeteria with a tray, heading towards the A/V room to grace her minions with her presence, she notices that Rachel and Santana give her a once over before turning towards each other with knowing nods.
It's pretty much official that there's some plot brewing. Lauren usually likes a good plot, but she can admit it's not so fun when she's the target. She's in a bad mood now, and she ignores Johnny, Scott, Tommy, Jeff, and Rosie, instead putting Eclipse in the DVD player and taking note of the kick-ass moves she can use if she has to take down any bitches.
Generally, Lauren doesn't wallow in angst, of the teen variety or otherwise, because that's just not something she's interested in, so she usually doesn't let snide comments get to her, because that would mean most of her life would be wasted on angst. So, really, it makes no sense why she's apprehensive when she walks into glee that afternoon.
She's one of the first in the room, and Mercedes and Tina absently smile at her when she walks in. She gives a sharp nod in return and moves to the back row. Soon enough, everybody else wanders in, and her stomach summersaults with the arrival of each member.
"Are you, like, worried or something?" Puckerman asks after he sits in the seat next to her. She ignores him, mostly because she's too anxious to respond civilly, but also because she doesn't want him to realize the full scope of her anxiety, not when he's so attracted by her usual 'tude.
Mr. Schuester enters, hands full of sheet music, and though nobody shuts up at his arrival, it gives Lauren an actual excuse to ignore Puck.
"Okay, guys," Schue says as he puts the pile of papers on the piano, "I think the first thing we need to do is to give our newest, and one of our oldest, members a big round of applause!"
Everybody claps enthusiastically when Hummel stands and takes a coquettish bow. He strides up to the piano, bounces once on his heels, and smiles widely. "I'd like to sing a little something to commemorate my long awaited return to New Directions. So, Brad, if you'd—"
"Wait!" Rachel exclaims, standing. "Kurt, as glad as we all are to have you back, and as much as I'd like to hear your song, I feel that we should discuss matters of a pivotal nature that relate to the very makeup of New Directions first."
Kurt frowns, as does practically everybody else in the room. Lauren notes that Santana is grinning viciously and Quinn is biting her lip, looking at her feet uncomfortably. Puck, though, is staring at Rachel with wide eyes, starting to realize that Lauren's claims weren't so unfounded after all. "You have got to be shitting me, Rachel," he says.
"Um, Rachel, what are you doing?" Mr. Schuester asks. He looks between Rachel and Kurt with a scrunched brow. "I hardly think this is the appropriate time."
"I actually think this is the perfect time. We wouldn't want to waste anyone's time, now, would we?" She strides up to the piano, shooing Kurt back to his seat, and then says, "As you all know, the Ohio Show Choir Rulebook dictates that we must have twelve members, and as we have now reached that quota with the return of Kurt, I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Ms. Lauren Zizes for filling in for him in our time of need. Lauren, your…work here has been a joy to us all, and you can now give your full attention back to the A/V and wrestling clubs."
She'd been imagining this for most of the day, and Rachel's words are far more diplomatic than she'd been expecting. Still, the dismissal hurts.
"Lauren," Tina starts timidly, "did you want to quit?"
"Hell no!" Puck shouts. He goes to stand, but Lauren pulls on his arm and keeps him in his seat. She doesn't need anybody to standup for her.
"No. No, I don't want to quit, and I have no intentions of doing so."
Sure, she'd been sort of sulking the whole day, waiting for this moment to happen, but now that it's here, she's ready to fight.
Santana, it seems, is ready to fight, too, especially with how she's got her narrowed eyes focused on the hand Lauren still has on Puck's forearm. She stays in her chair, but her words carry as much weight as a punch. "Listen up, Little Debbie, because I really only want to say this once: You don't fitin New Directions, literally or figuratively. We have our twelve members now, so you can just walk your fat ass out the door. I mean, assuming we don't need a forklift to wheel your extraordinarily large ass out."
"Santana! That's enough!" Schue yells. His face is red and his tone of voice should be startling, but Santana ignores him and keeps going on.
"You're really disgusting, Lauren. You were never here because anyone wanted you to be; you were here to be a seat warmer, that's it. And God knows you're big enough to warm up a few of them."
"Oh, fuck you, Santana!" Puckerman yells.
When Santana goes quiet at this, Lauren realizes she doesn't even have to say anything back, because Santana's outright aggression has nothing to do with Lauren's weight. It has to do with Lauren and Puck. So, with this knowledge, Lauren leans over and gives Puck a kiss like she hasn't ever before. It's tongues and lips and a bit of spit, and it makes Santana pale. Lauren leans back, smiles softly at Puck, and then turns to the other girl, saying, "The fat girl got your go-to, and you need deal with it."
"Santana, come with me," Schue orders, ignoring Lauren's display. After a roll of the eyes and a loud huff, Santana follows Schuester out the door, presumably to Figgins' office.
"So?" Lauren asks loudly. "Anybody else got something to say? Rachel? Quinn?"
Quinn looks startled at being singled out, but Lauren can't find it in herself to care right now. The blonde girl had been looking guilty at anything and everyone but Lauren, and she had been running her mouth with Rachel and Santana that morning.
Quinn turns to face her from her spot in the first row. "I had no idea Santana was going to go off like that, Lauren, and I'm so sorry. But…I just honestly don't think you're right for New Directions. I really love this group, and I want us to win at nationals so bad. You won't help us do that."
"And why's that?"
"Some of it does have to do with your weight. We're a diverse group, but you just don't fit in. I mean, we saw that at regionals, when you had to get a dress different than everybody else's because of your size. All the girls had straps, but you had sleeves. You just…You stand out, Lauren, and it doesn't help us."
Her chest feels tight. It's not even like she's going to cry or something; she's just overwhelmingly disappointed. She'd felt comfortable with all of them, even if she didn't really know them, and Quinn's subdued words feel like more of an attack than Santana's jealousy based vitriol.
Lauren knows she's a badass, but she's still human. This attack feels more personal than the muttered 'lardass' she gets on a day to day basis in the hallways.
All of a sudden, the tears begin to well up in her eyes. She knows that's her cue to leave, because she'd rather die than cry in front of these people.
"This is so messed up," Mercedes whispers as Lauren starts to walk out of the room. "What do you guys think of me?"
"This has nothing to do with weight!" Rachel exclaims, looking between Lauren, who's walking out of the room, and Mercedes, who's now openly crying. "It was supposed to be about talent! She can't sing, that was all I meant!"
"I can't sing," Mike says quietly. "Am I being kicked out, too?"
Lauren leaves the room before she can hear what Rachel says to him.
She makes it to the nearest girls' bathroom before she starts to cry.
Usually, she's fine with her weight. She likes cupcakes too much to ever be skinny, and that's fine with her. She can look in the mirror and appreciate what she sees, but sometimes the revulsion everyone else seems to feel gets to her. She's fat, yeah, but to think people don't want to even be seen with her…
"Lauren? Hey, it's okay," Puck says as he wraps his arms around her.
"This is the girls' bathroom, you freak," she replies, voice thick with snot. Still, she buries her face in his shoulder and sobs for a few minutes. She feels horrible, but the tears are cathartic.
Once Lauren's stopped crying, Puck says, "They were being jackasses. Schue came back—Santana got two weeks' worth of detention and a call to her dad—and it was pretty much chaos. Mercedes was crying and Kurt was yelling at everybody and Rachel and Quinn were trying to explain themselves and Finn looked confused and Mike looked like he wanted to jump off a bridge and Brittany was rocking in her seat. Rachel and Quinn got detention, and Schue said he was 'seriously disappointed in everybody' and he'd have to think if we were all adult enough to go to New York for nationals."
"As if. Everybody'll sing him an apologetic song and all will be forgotten," she replies, bitter and knowing it's the truth. Puck doesn't reply, just keeps his hold on her tight, and she can't help but to say, "I didn't know my dress was different until the day of regionals. I gave Rachel my size and that was all the input I had. I don't care about showing off my arms—people are gonna know I'm fat whether I hide them or not—but I just didn't think it was a battle worth fighting. I was given that shrug to wear at sectionals, too."
"You should totally tell them to fuck off next time."
"Sometimes it's just not worth it."
"Ah, Zizes, don't punk out on me now."
She takes a step away from him and shrugs. "I'm not ultra sensitive about my body, but I'm not desensitized about it, either."
"Listen, all I know is that you're fat, and I think you're hot."
Lauren smiles, because it's refreshing to hear it put so straightforward, spoken as a fact but not a slight. It's nice to hear him say and I think you're hot, not but, as if her weight is something he has to overcome before he can find her attractive.
Because she's feeling significantly better, she gives him a chaste kiss.
He grins at her, lopsidedly and pretty attractive, and then suddenly frowns, like he's just remembering something. "Oh, and next time you want to mack? Don't do it prove a point. The Puckster is not a hooker."
"Yeah, well, the Puckster doesn't have to worry about that that, because he's not getting macked on anytime soon. Such a lame nickname, Puckerman. I can't even believe I talk to you."
She turns around and groans when she sees Rachel Berry running across the parking lot towards her. "Berry, I am sonot in the mood to deal with you right now."
"I can understand that. I just wanted to apologize. My actions were rash and horrible. I didn't realize what Santana was going to say, and I promiseI don't agree with her at all!"
"I don't have much to say to you," Lauren says. "But I do have something to say."
Rachel nods, and her face is scrunched, preparing herself for some sort of verbal attack.
Lauren smiles, and then she sings. She sings lyrics she's just made up to a tune she's just created. It's not elegant or polished, but it's as good as anything any of the other girls do during a jam session. It serves to get both of her points across.
"Fuck you, fuck you, you idiot, you loser, you ass, fuck you."
She stops when Puck pulls up, leaning out of his window and glaring at the smaller girl.
"See you next glee practice!" she shouts and then gets in Puck's beat up little car, ready to go home.