"I need you to teach me something."
"Well, all right." Puck leans back against his truck and rubs his hands on his shirt.
"My eyes are up here."
"I know, but if I look at your eyes, it's hard to try and get a look down that shirt."
Quinn smacks him on the arm. "Why do you have to turn every conversation into this?"
"You started it. You want me to teach you something and I know how to do exactly three things: Drink, fuck, and steal. You can drink all you want at home and people give you whatever you want. So... it's cool that you want to get it back on with The Puckerman."
"This was a mistake. I'll just ask Sam." She shakes her head and turns to walk away.
"Whoa, hey. Okay, I'll dial it down." He puts his hand on her arm, but doesn't grab. If he grabs, she'll get even more defensive and then he'll never make any progress.
"I need to learn to play the guitar. But I'd like lessons from someone who's serious about it and won't try to cop a feel every five minutes."
Oh. Maybe he's good at four things. "What song?"
"It doesn't matter. I just want to learn to play."
"Yeah, but if you tell me what song I'll know what chords to teach you. Some are easier at first."
"It doesn't matter," she repeats.
"Okay, if you want me to be serious, I need you to be honest and tell me what song so I can know what to teach you."
She sighs, rolls her eyes, opens her purse, and he ends up with a notebook shoved in his face. "It doesn't have any, yet."
"What is this?"
"What does it look like?"
He grabs the book and holds it down so he can actually focus on it. "You wrote this?"
"Yes. Don't read it."
"You want me to teach you how to play a song that has no chords, but you don't want me to read it."
"Then why even play it?"
"This is stupid, forget it."
She reaches for the notebook, but he twists away from her, trying to read as much as he can before she inevitably knees him in the junk or something. He's not a genius, but he knows what good lyrics look like. "Q, this is actually really good."
"I said don't!"
She in the process of lunging at him, but he must sound sincere and she must actually be listening, because she stops, one hand on his arm. "You think so?"
"Yeah." He glances at the page, again. "What, uh, genre were you thinking?" But he already knows. The way it's written tells him everything. He also know what she listens to in her car when she's by herself.
She mumbles her answer.
"What was that?"
"Country." She crosses her arms over her chest. "Go ahead. Just do it now."
"Make fun of me."
"Why would I do that? Country singers are hot. Plus, you definitely give off that Carrie Underwood vibe."
"Sure. I'd never put it past you to slash up some guys car for cheating on you."
That's clearly not the comparison she was expecting, although the glare she gives him fully supports it. "Yeah, thanks."
"Look, Q, if you want to do this, I'm down to help you out. No funny stuff. I'll keep my hands on the guitar, I swear."
"You'd do that for me?"
"I'd do a lot for you, if you'd let me. I don't even mean that the way I normally do."
The small smile she manages tell him that she knows he's sincere. "Okay. You really think we can make this into a country song, though?"
"Babe, all you need is three chords and the truth."
Her fingertips already hurt fifteen minutes into the first lesson, but if Puck's willing to actually be serious for more than thirty seconds at a time, she can ignore a little pain. She already kind of knows a couple of chords from when she played Lucky with Sam, but that was more novelty than anything.
"So, that's G. And you remember D, right?" He's uncharacteristically patient with her. She wonders if that's just because this is the first lesson.
"Yeah, uh, like this, right?"
"Yep. But push down harder." His hand gently wraps over hers and presses her fingers against the neck of the guitar. When she strums the pick over the strings, it sounds good. "Now just go back and forth between those two and get used to it."
His other arm is stretched over the back of her chair, but the hand that was on hers drops away. He insisted it was necessary to sit like this because he taught himself to play, so he needs to see the guitar from this perspective to show her the chords. They're in the choir room, because it was agreed to be neutral ground. He's no longer dating Lauren (she doesn't know the details), but given their history, neither of them cares to deal with the parental inquisition that's bound to happen from either of their mothers.
She's about to tell him he can move for the time being, but before she even thinks about forming the words, he pulls back and digs his phone out of his pocket.
"If you can keep the sexting to a minimum while we're doing this, I'd appreciate it." She can't help it, these things just come out of her mouth.
Puck snorts and doesn't take his eyes off the phone. "It's Mike."
Quinn's sure he doesn't even remember that he fed her that same exact line before. "Wig problems?" She only remember the specifics because of the truth that had unfolded afterward.
"Huh?" His eyes flash up to her. "Why would he have a w-" Then it hits him. "No, it really is Mike. CoD stuff."
"Whatever." She doesn't actually care, but she's kind of impressed that he remembers. Her attention's on the chords, because that's why they're here. After another five minutes or so, though, the ache's a little much and Puck seems to pick up on it.
"Yeah, it sucks. You'll get tougher the more you practice and you'll get calluses."
"I once watched you push out a kid and you're grossed out about some skin?"
She laughs, not because it's particularly funny, but because no one ever seems to bring that particular even up, anymore. Then again, not everyone was there. That doesn't mean she wants to talk about it.
"Same time tomorrow?" She says, carefully passing him the guitar. Eventually, she'll need to get her own.
"Yeah, sure." He take the Gibson and pushes the case open with his foot. So far, he hasn't asked for anything in exchange for these lessons and Quinn's not sure what that means.
She decides to cut to the chase. "I'm not sleeping with you."
The guitar case slams shut with more force than was probably intended. "Um, I know. I'd notice if that was happening."
"I just don't want you to think that-"
"What, that you owe me? I agreed to do this because you asked. If I wanted anything else, I would have said so up front. You know that."
She does know. Now she feels bad. "You're right, I... that was rude of me."
"It's cool." Though his tone sounds like maybe it's uncool. He doesn't really give her much else to read when he stands and grabs the case handle. "See you tomorrow."
By the time she says, "Bye," she's the only one left in the room.
It takes a week for her to learn the chords to Faith Hill's Cry. Puck insisted she pick an actual song she knows, so she can practice.
It takes another week for her to be able to play it to the point where it's mildly recognizable. It's actually pretty impressive, considering she's only able to practice when they're together, but he knows she can play piano, so maybe that helps.
Their lesson time is comfortable. She's receptive enough that he's patient with her, unlike the time he tried to teach Santana and she kept getting pissed off that it didn't sound right, immediately.
After the first day, they don't talk about much other than music.
Until today, when he asks, "How come you didn't ask me to teach you when you were living with me?"
Quinn silences the strings and looks up at him. "Really?"
"I was," she pushes the guitar forward until it reaches her knees, "out to here."
"Right," he nods. "I forgot."
Both of her eyebrows go up. "You... forgot that I was pregnant with your child?"
"Not like that." He's not sure how to explain this without pissing her off. "I just sometimes forget that you didn't always look like this," he nods toward her.
"That's funny, because you felt the constant need to remind me about it, at the time."
"Well, I was a dick, back then."
"A whole seventeen months ago?"
"More than that. You're just counting from when she was born."
She's silent, maybe because she doesn't expect him to keep track of that kind of stuff. But he does because, dammit, he was there, too.
The lesson's kind of over after that. He doesn't push her, because all she'll do is push back. It's Friday, so their next meeting isn't until Monday. That's plenty of time for her to pretend to forget he even brought it up.
It's a small ritual, the passing over of the guitar so he can pack it up while she gathers her things.
"I think next week we can start on your song, if you want." He's already been playing around with some ideas, but he doesn't tell her that. Sometimes, the less Quinn knows, the less there's a threat that she's going to stab someone. Or at least glare at them like she's trying to mentally light their clothes on fire.
"Sure." She nods like she agreeing to pizza toppings and he knows she's still thinking about Beth.
He wants to say something to let her know he understands, but he's convinced she'll never believe that. "You're learning really fast. I think you'll be good at this."
"You think?" Her smile is too small and it disappears to quickly, but he catches it before she exits the room. It always seems like one of them is leaving the other behind.
She doesn't make it far.
It's been raining all day, which means she had her light on when she drove to school and apparently she never shut them off. The battery's dead and she's not sure if her mom renewed the auto club membership.
There's a knock on the window that almost sends her leaping into the passenger seat, but it's only Puck. She opens the door to talk to him, since the windows are automatic.
"Dead battery?" he asks.
"You have cables?"
She shakes her head. "No. I never got any." He'd told her at least twice while they were dating that she should always keep some in her car.
In a rare moment, he actually rolls his eyes at her. "And now you're stuck."
"Can't we just use yours and spare the lecture?"
That seems to shut him up.
"You do have jumper cables in your truck, right?"
"I loaned them to Finn," he admits.
"Look, just let me take you home and tomorrow morning we'll go get you some. I don't really want to jump it in the rain, anyway."
She considers insisting they call the auto club or even Finn, but then she realizes he's just standing there in the rain while she tries to make up her mind and that's not really fair. "Fine. But it needs to be before noon. I have stuff to do."
"Yeah, yeah. Come on, I'm soakin' here." He holds his jacket up over the edge of the door so she can get out without getting too wet.
Once they're in his truck, the guitar rides bitch on the seat between them, because he says there's no way he's putting it in the bed while it's pouring like this.
When he cranks the ignition, the radio picks up from wherever it left off when he was last behind the wheel, which is somewhere loud. Quickly, he lowers the volume.
She just shrugs, because it's not really a big deal. "It's your car." He looks at her like he's expecting something else to happen, like she should be mad, but she's fine. "Seriously, that's not even the worst. have you ever ridden in car with Santana?"
"Are you kidding? I've had to replace her speakers twice." Puck puts the truck in gear and backs out of the space.
The last time she rode in his truck was when she was still pregnant. Back then, she'd been convinced that the constant odor of engine grease combined with the occasional whiff of gasoline was either going to make her vomit (it never actually did) or cause the baby to have two heads (also never happened).
Actually, very specifically, the last time she'd ridden in this seat was while she was in labor. This is one of the reasons she's avoided hanging out with Puck up until this guitar endeavor: Everything about him reminds her of Beth.
He must read the silence as a cue that she doesn't want to talk, because he turns the radio back up a little and sings along with Kenny Chesney's You and Tequila. The music's a perfect escape and she finds herself joining him on the Grace Potter parts of the song. For a few minutes, it's just them and the song. It's the same thing she actually likes about Glee Club. When she's singing, she's not caring about anything else. But the song always ends and this time is no exception.
"We're not bad together," he says, looking past the guitar case at her.
"Yeah. Not bad." She can't help but wonder if they'd ever actually be legitimately good together. Singing or otherwise.
When he drops her off, everything moves entirely too quickly for it to be awkward. She thanks him, he says he'll call in the morning, she reminds him about her time frame, he replies in a way that makes her question his responsibility. It's their fluent language.
It's been a while and he's a little rusty.
But he thinks that means they're making some kind of progress.
Toward what, he doesn't know.
She doesn't either.