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It really isn't news. Not in the sense of the word. But before first period, everyone is sort of whispering about it, and Kurt's a little surprised at the nature of the conversation. "What's the big deal?" He'd sort of seen Puck earlier on, from the back, and noticed that yes, that washed out, low quality t-shirt really did stretch over his impressive muscles and cling to his shoulders. But really, that was all the opinion Kurt had taken the time to form.
"You mean you don't know?" Mercedes just looked at him, slightly stunned, and prompting Kurt to indicate for her to continue, because no, he did not know. "Puck's wearing some pro-gay shirt or something."
"Puck? Our Puck? As in Noah Puckerman Puck?" Since returning to McKinley, no one had really said anything about Kurt's sexuality, but then, it wasn't like Kurt was making out with boys in the hallways, so it was likely that people just ignored it. But a jock doing something as outspoken as flaunting pro-gay merchandise, well, Kurt couldn't really imagine it. "Where the hell is he?"
"You really didn't know? I mean, I thought maybe he'd like, run something by you, or it had been something you asked, y'know, since you helped him with the flash mob for Rachel." Ah, the flash mob. Kurt could openly admit to being very surprised when Puck had cornered him in the library after Rachel's little picture show of her possible new nose. He didn't realise that Puck felt so strongly about it, or that he wanted something as elaborate for Rachel to sway her mind. Although, Puck had said the magic words, 'Barbara Streisand' and 'flash mob' and Kurt was in. Noah knew the people, Kurt knew the location and the song and they went from there. Funnily enough, Kurt thought they made a good team.
"No, he never said anything, what does the shirt even say?"
"I have no idea, but apparently, it's getting a lot of attention." Trust Puck to do something like this -and on a Tuesday, couldn't he have waited until Friday and then everyone would have their weekends to forget?
Kurt didn't see Puck until lunch, and all the way through the day he just heard wilder and wilder stories about what Puck's shirt said. For a blind moment of panic, Kurt wondered if Puck had several and just kept changing them to mess with peoples heads or if the gossip in McKinley was really that hard up this week that no one was telling a straight story. No pun intended. When Kurt finally managed to locate Puck, just before heading into the cafeteria he had to act fast. Grabbing Puck's wrist and pulling him away from the lunch hall and down an empty hallway into the deserted choir room before turning to face the jock. And, wow, yes, that was one of the things he'd heard the shirt said.
"Seriously, Princess, if you wanted to get me alone, you just had to ask." Kurt was too busy staring at Puck's chest -for more than the usual reason- where, in pink writing, it stated 'Some dudes marry dudes' and then promptly instructed 'Get over it'. "You like it?" Puck looked far too proud of himself.
"What on earth do you think you're doing?"
"You're the one that pulled me in here for a private show, man. What's up with that?"
"Do you realise what you've done? They're going to think you're gay, they're going to blame me, like I gave you it or something."
"Kurt, dude, you can't catch gay." And really, Kurt knew that, Puck apparently knew that, but half their schoolmates weren't exactly bright enough to really believe it.
"Noah, would you just stop and think for two minutes." Puck sighed, crossing the distance and placing his hands on Kurt's shoulders.
"Kurt," and it was bad when Puck was using Kurt's first name, "chill out. I can handle it. I have more, they're pretty awesome. You should check them out." Puck took off a wristband that Kurt didn't even notice he was wearing, one of those tacky rubber ones with the charity or an inspirational message imprinted on them. It was pastel pink, the same colour as the writing on Puck's chest. FCKH8 . com. How true. "I'm a big boy, Kurt, I can make my own choices."
And Puck waltzed out of the room like he hadn't really just completely killed his whole school reputation with one t-shirt. Sometimes Kurt wondered if maybe Mrs Puckerman had dropped Noah on his head as a baby.
People were still gossiping the next day, although Puck came in with a plain shirt on he did still have one of the wrist bands on. Kurt noticed later that Brittany and Santana had matching purple versions of the bands and Rachel had a pink one to match Kurt's. Just what the hell was Puck playing at.
No one commented at all to Kurt, in fact, most people didn't even talk to him. It meant the jocks weren't pushing him around but it felt like they were accusing him of something either way. Although, Kurt was pretty sure he saw Puck take a shoulder check in the hallway from a JV footballer before Puck growled something and the JV player scurried off, almost wetting himself. Maybe Puck was right, sure, he couldn't get into full blown fist fights or he'd end up back in juvie, but Puck was still fairly intimidating -mostly because everyone knew he'd been in juvie and there were plenty of rumours about just what happened there. Maybe Kurt was just worrying about nothing.
Glee was fairly uneventful, although Rachel kept toying with her little wristband and smiling at Puck which apparently Finn didn't like too much even though he was dating Quinn -Kurt gave that another month. Mr Schue seemed oblivious as usual.
"So was that it? One shirt and a few bands?" Mercedes seemed to think that Kurt had all the answers.
"I don't know. I think so, maybe?" He wasn't sure, because Puck hinted at there being more, but Kurt couldn't tell for sure. His own little wristband was sitting at home, on his bedside table, where he'd taken it off last night and just stared at it. Technically, it was the first thing Puck had ever given him that wasn't a bruise. "Did you check out the website?"
"No, did you?" Kurt just shook his head, he wasn't sure if he wanted to. "Come over to mine tonight? We'll see together." And that, right there, was why he loved Mercedes so much. The girl just knew when he needed that little extra support.
So they sit in Mercedes' room, laptop on her desk, both of them squeezed onto her chair to click on the videos linked there. It's amusing, it's fun, it's something Kurt feels bad for not already knowing about and having to find out from Puck of all people. But the fact that it's Puck, and he's supporting rights that Kurt will have to fight for one day, one day very soon it feels like, well that makes Kurt feel more grateful than shocked.
He wears his band to school the next day and gets a grin from Puck.
It's a whole week before Puck pulls it again. This time his shirt is purple with grey and the fact that Puck is wearing what he'd once called 'fruity girly shit' when Rachel had declared their costume colours one week is more of a surprise to Kurt than Puck's 'Don't go hatin' on the homos' shirt.
Except this time, people aren't stunned speechless and by lunch time everyone is talking about the fight that broke out in the locker room. Santana is the one that sends out the mass call to the choir room. Mercedes and Kurt walk in together to see Mike sitting with ice on his fist and Tina fretting over him while Artie looks a little pale and-
"Where's Puck?" Kurt knew that he was going to get into trouble over everything. It wasn't like their classmates were accepting, and while the bullying had sort of fallen by the wayside while Karofsky was playing nice, it wasn't over completely. And Puck couldn't fight back, unless he did and they'd just lost their 'bad boy stage persona' to juvie and that was why Artie looked so lost.
"He's been in Principal Figgins' office for the last hour and a half with Schue, Beiste and Sylvester." That was a long time to have a meeting with four teachers. Finn shrugged slightly. "What the hell is he playing at with this?" Almost everyone in glee has a wrist band, Brittany has a little button on her shirt as well and Kurt's pretty sure Lauren has the sunglasses. Whatever Puck's doing, he seems to be getting support from his friends.
"He's trying to educate people." Rachel bites out at Finn, and Kurt knows that she's as grateful as he is that Puck brought their attention to a cause that both of them are affected by. "Now what happened?"
"Azimio took offence to the latest shirt. Said something to Puck about switching teams. I dunno what Puck said back but, Azimio just lost it." Sam is a bit dazed, and possibly rightfully so. Karofsky can throw a punch, he's a big guy with some muscle behind it, but Azimio is a beast, Kurt's seen the way the guy tackles and frankly he's surprised there wasn't an ambulance called. "Puck didn't hit back once."
"He can't." Santana was actually biting her nails, "He throws one punch and his probation is scrapped and he's back in the slammer for four to six months." Brittany shuffles closer to the Latina, taking the hand away from her mouth and pulling her to rest her head on Britt's shoulder.
"It'll be okay." They spend lunch waiting for word, but by the start of the next period, the four and Puck are still in Figgins' office.
Santana shows up at Kurt's door that night.
"He was suspended." Kurt's stomach feels like lead at that. "Wear this tomorrow." She's handing over one of the shirts, and Kurt frowns slightly. "I don't care if it's not some organic blend shit. You wear it. He got his face broke and suspended for this, for us. You wear it."
So Kurt walks into McKinley the next day, proudly telling people to 'FCKH8' in big bold letters. What he doesn't expect is there to be a sea of shirts just like his. He finds Mercedes with Tina, Mike and Sam and all of them are wearing the exact same shirt.
"She got you too, Boo?"
"What the hell?" Kurt had thought, maybe, Santana had just got the glee club to show their support. He didn't expect the AV club and the chess club and the damn Cheerio's to be strutting around McKinley in the shirts. "How did she do this?"
"I have no idea, I didn't think even Quinn had this pulling power."
"Santana is super crazy, she's like very persuasive." Kurt can see Sue standing at the far end of the hall way, he thinks she might be about to blow her top, but instead she's got this little smirk on the face, like she knows exactly what's going on and who orchestrated it. Kurt wouldn't be surprised, Santana and Quinn had been learning at the knee of the master for years.
It's not even third period and anyone who came to school without a shirt has been cornered and given a shirt, save for three Cheerio's who fancy themselves the new 'Unholy Trio' and some of the jocks. Figgins calls an emergency meeting with the faculty and Santana is smug the remainder of the day.
"Sandbags," Coach Sylvester appears beside Santana's locker just before their last class, Brittany, Kurt and Quinn are sort of loitering nearby when they see her. "A very empowering movement you've got here."
"Puck started it, I'm just finishing it." Santana crosses her arms over her chest, and Kurt is impressed by that alone, because she's standing with her back ramrod straight in front of Sylvester.
"Duly noted. You should know that your friend will be returning to school tomorrow. And next time, you should save the pulling power for something more worthwhile." Santana's eyes narrow.
"My ability to marry the person I love when I want to, to have the right to have children with that person and to have health insurance whatever my sexual preference is entirely worthwhile, Ms Sylvester." In a storm off that would make Rachel proud, Santana slams her locker, twists on her heel to send her ponytail twirling out and marches off, leaving Sylvester standing, shocked but looking mildly impressed.
Puck's back in school the following morning, even with his bruised face. Everyone is in their own clothes, although there are stickers and wristbands everywhere.
"What was it all about?"
"Hmm?" Kurt sat at the back of glee with Puck, talking quietly while Rachel and Finn worked through another duet under the close scrutiny of Quinn.
"The shirts, what was it all about?"
"Santana." Kurt glanced over, noticing that Brittany and Santana were holding hands again, their fingers interlaced and a smile on Brittany's face that hadn't been there since she and Artie broke up. He doesn't get to ask any other questions until after glee, when everyone is leaving and Kurt just waves Mercedes off for now.
"So, what, she wanted to come out with a big show?"
"No, she wanted to get Britt back, but Britt didn't want to hide." Puck shrugs his shoulders while putting his guitar away. "Santana likes to think she's a hardass, but she's pretty caught up in what people think about her too."
"And you're not?" Although, Puck wasn't really. He just claimed to be something and anyone who disagreed usually got an up close demonstration. "What did you say to Azimio? Sam said you said something to him and then he attacked you."
For a moment it looked like Puck wasn't going to answer. He just stood up and looked at Kurt, sighing slightly. Looking at him straight on, Kurt could really see the full extent of the bruise on Puck's face, the swelling around his eye and jaw, the purple and black bruising over the bone, the small cut just in the corner of Puck's eye. Whatever he'd said, Azimio hadn't held back.
"He asked if I'd switched teams." Kurt knew that part, "I asked so what, I still wouldn't fuck him so what did it matter?" Kurt isn't sure if his jaw is on the floor or not.
"You- you- What-" Puck laughs lightly, shaking his head. "You can't insinuate to someone like him that you're gay!"
"I'm not gay." Puck shrugs one shoulder, picking up his bag and guitar, "I'm equal opportunity." Before Kurt really knows what's going on, there's a kiss placed against his lips and Kurt is leaning forward and into it before he realises. "I'll call you later, okay."
Kurt can only nod dumbly as Puck walks out of the choir room while he wonders what the hell is going on.