The night before was a Sunday in the middle of winter, and he distinctly remembers it as such because the moon was new and low in the sky, a sliver of a crescent that shed no light upon the snow-caked grounds. She curled a mitten-covered hand into his shirt and begged him to fuck her out there, in the back of his truck, behind the trailer he lived in with his mom. It was midnight and she was begging him for something she only never had to ask for.
She pressed butterfly kisses to his cheeks — flushed in the cold, he remembers — and her eyelashes fluttered against his lips, streaking them with tears that froze as they dribbled down his chin.
Why are you crying?, he didn't ask her, because he wasn't so good at words. She never smoked but there was the certain smell of cigarettes in her hair, as the little flakes drifted from the sky, the yellow clouds obscuring the stars they used to count together.
"We don't do this stuff anymore," he said fuzzily, his tongue thick with booze. "We haven't done this stuff in so long." He should've said something about the cold, the diseases, that getting naked in the snow was a disaster. But they were disasters, they were waiting bombs, so maybe it fit that way, like they would only ever explode together.
On that last night, with the snow and the cold and her mittens and flushed cheeks, she said, "We used to do this stuff all the time."
They used to hurt other people just because they could, just because it suited them so. Back when it was Finn and Puck and Quinn, she used to call him in the middle of the night and they'd cheat on Finn together, and in the next morning they'd pretend they were good and honest people but the world didn't believe them. They used to do it because it was fun. Because it worked.
But he said, "That's not us anymore," and she drove home in her mom's Camrey, after telling him to go fuck himself, and at around 3:42 am, she swerved on the snow-slicked road and tumbled a few times, her head hitting the steering wheel as her car rolled to a stop at the trees.
Dead on arrival. 4:18 am. He woke three and a half hours later to sixteen missed calls from Finn and the snow stopped falling, the sun came out, and shit, it was a beautiful day to die. He was almost annoyed he didn't get to die first.
"Do you hate her?" Finn asked at his doorstep an hour and fifteen minutes later. He wore mittens and a stupid hat and a sweater his mom probably knitted him, and Puck had the sudden urge to punch his face in. Shit, he was a shitty boyfriend who didn't love her. God, of all the people in the fucking world, Finn was the one that deserved her least.
Finn blinked and tilted his head and Puck wanted to protect him now, because Finn was that kind of guy, the one you wanted to protect and covet from the world. There was a distinct hurt in his eyes, hurt and confusion and loss, and he didn't hate him so much, now. "You told me you hated her."
Puck thought of blonde hair and mittens and butterfly kisses in the back of his truck, and yeah, maybe he hated her a little. Maybe he hated her because she had to go die on him. God, that bitch, had to go and get herself killed. So fucking stupid. She was so fucking stupid and he hated her, hated her for being such an idiot, hated her for dying, hated her for moving to Lima in the first place. Shit.
Finn didn't say anything more but he kind of stood there, awkwardly, eyes darting back and forth. Jiggle. Like he wants to lie about something but his mouth isn't even moving. He looked like he was too sad to open it.
But that wasn't even fair, not really, because Finn got to stay with Rachel for the rest of his life. That was love. Love wasn't brushing cheeks in the snow and go-fuck-yourself's. That was something else entirely. He hated her and she was too dead to hate him.
Too dead to do anything.
"Ms. Fabray doesn't want you at the funeral," Finn blurted instead, and Puck suddenly moved forward quickly and punched him square in the face.
"You didn't deserve her." And he slammed the door in his face.
Puck had a big thing for numbers.
He remembered numbers, because numbers were easy, they were simple. They went on forever and never had to end. He liked that. He liked the simplicity of knowing it would never change.
Quinn pressed eight butterfly kisses to his cheeks and there were two tears gathering on her lashes when they brushed his lips. She said "please" four times. Her car tumbled at least thrice, and it took exactly 17 minutes for the ambulance to get there, but by then she would already have bled half to death. Dead on arrival. Died at 4:18 am on a Monday.
He'll remember that for the rest of his life.
He hated everyone in this fucking school.
What would you say to Quinn if she were here today? is written on the board in at least three of his classes, and people he'd never even noticed before would raise their hand and deliver some heartfelt eulogy. They didn't know her. They didn't see the smile she wore when she needed him to stop playing video games and come fuck her instead. They didn't see the look in her eyes when she held their baby in her arms. They didn't see anything. Fuck, they didn't know anything about her. They knew what she was, not who she was, and he hated them for it.
"Noah? What would you say to her?"
Without skipping a beat. "I'd tell her to go fuck herself."
They send him home immediately, not even wondering how he was doing, not even caring to ask. It was piteous looks and, "We know this is hard for you, Noah," but no one once said to him, "How are you feeling?"
What would he have told them?
Shit, it felt like his fucking heart had been ripped out and his lungs had been punched in with brass knuckles. How the fuck are they expecting him to feel? He hated her. God, he hated her so much he might even have loved her. The funeral was over and he didn't even get to see her face in the open casket, or watch her being lowered into the ground. He didn't get to say anything about her. What would he have said?
She was everything. How are you supposed to describe the feeling when everything dies?
It hadn't snowed in days since her car tumbled three times and she died at 4:18 am, and he would almost welcome the biting cold.
"Tell me," she giggled into his chest, her legs wrapped around his waist.
"Tell you what?"
She lifted her head and pressed kisses to his neck, sending shivers up and down his spine. "You know what."
"I love you," he tried.
She shook her head. "Wrong answer."
He could never remember what she wanted him to say.