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It's the way it happens that throws Kurt for a loop first. The way that Puck just walks into glee late, Mr Schue looking for a reason -and they all know that Puck's not been in class since third that day- and Puck just shrugs, "Had to go to the morgue." Schue is instantly comforting, the hand on Puck's shoulder, trying to direct him to a seat, everyone else sitting up and taking note and Quinn actually moving to Puck's side.
"Are you okay? What happened?" Rachel has her hand over her mouth, "Not Nana Connie?" Kurt has come to know that Rachel -and probably all the Jewish kids in Lima (all twelve of them) call Puck's Nana 'Nana', because she's that older Jewish woman that comforts everyone and bakes for them and acts like she's everyone's grandmother. Kurt wonders if Puck is about to break down if his Nana just died.
"No, she's fine. he's going to Vegas next month." Rachel sighs in relief and Puck just shrugs, "My Dad was killed in a car crash in Columbus. They needed an ID on the body." It's the tone, Puck's just so casual about it and clearly it's something they all think is not a casual thing. Kurt understands that Puck isn't one to show his feelings; he doesn't do 'girly shit' like that. But his Dad has just died and he's acting like his sister just ate the last waffle -actually, Sarah eating the last waffle would probably get more of a response from him.
"Are you okay? Are you sure you want to be here? Someone could take you home." Mr Schue is trying to be understanding without making it out that Puck is weak -really, it's admirable, but Puck raises an eyebrow at him.
"I came to practice. Why don't we practice?"
Now, Kurt doesn't know Noah Puckerman all that well. He knows little bits; jock since Freshman year, pretty great player despite how bad their team sucked to begin with, not overly academic since he doesn't actually attend more than half his classes, older brother, a little troubled, former bully, really likes waffles, really hates his dad. But Kurt would've expected a little more than this apparent melancholia about the death of a parent. Kurt remembers crying for a week when his mother died. He doesn't expect that from Puck, but something more than a shrug and a question about the second lift in the routine would be a little more socially acceptable.
But maybe Puck really does hate his father that much. Maybe the reality of seeing the man, dead on a cold grey table, hasn't sunk in yet and Puck is still processing the fact that the man is gone forever now. Not just walked out, but dead. Then again, it's not like Puck has anything to look to and wonder about -he's been without his father for almost ten years, surely it makes sense that it'll take a while to understand the finality of the situation.
They work through the routine though, and everyone is sort of on eggshells with Puck until he makes a comment to Finn and Finn snaps back and they all sort of shrug it off. Three days later, Puck still hasn't shown any signs of dealing with the death of his father and Rachel, apparently, is taking it upon herself to assist Noah in understanding his feelings. She actually has an intervention; Kurt isn't sure what she abbreviates it to, but it's something to do with getting Noah to address his feelings, and really, Kurt cannot abbreviate that in his head at all.
They do it in the choir room, because apparently Quinn and Finn and Sam and Mike all agree that Noah is keeping things in and it's not good for him. "We understand that you have mixed feelings towards your father, Noah, but it isn't healthy to internalise all these emotions. You're in a safe place; you can express yourself fully without fear of your fellow peers judging your condition as a weakness when really it's just human nature."
"Are you high?" Kurt can see where Puck gets the impression. "I don't give a shit about him. It's not like he was around when he was alive, so who the hell cares?"
"Puck, man, we get it, okay. But c'mon, you can talk to us." Finn and Puck's relationship still isn't what it was, but they are both trying and Kurt can see that Finn wants to be the friend he was right then. Puck probably sees it too.
"There's nothing to talk about. Seriously. I'm fine." There was frustration in Puck's voice, something that Kurt could understand. He knew that their friends meant well, they were trying to help in their own, uniformed and bumbling way. But they were helping Puck deal in a way they thought he should be dealing. And really, when it came to Noah Puckerman, who the hell knew how his head worked?
"We're worried, you should talk about it." Quinn and Rachel are standing in front of Puck, he's sat in one of the seats while Mike, Sam and Finn are to the side -Kurt and Mercedes are the only ones sitting, the only ones not taking part in this intervention that feels a little more like an inquisition. It's almost like they're cornering a skittish animal. And Puck isn't the sort of guy you want to make skittish. "It's like the whole thing with Beth, Puck. You can't hold that all in, we don't want you doing something stupid." Like crashing a car while drunk and letting people think you're stealing an ATM rather than being depressed and angry at the world. Kurt gets that part of it, really.
"Listen up and listen good, I am fine. I am not holding on to any sort of feelings like you all assume. There is nothing to talk about. If you keep pushing this we'll be talking about why my fist ends up in your face," he's talking directly to Finn there, "or why you all get a morning slushy for the rest of the week." Puck doesn't stick around for rehearsal that day. He just leaves.
Rachel is foolish enough to try again the next day and Kurt just can't take it anymore. "Would you just stop?" Everyone stares at him, Puck had turned around the second Rachel had taken his hand and said his name in that annoyingly calm way, "He's going to handle this in his own way, and if it's not by singing Kumbaya and hugging it out, that's his choice, so leave him the hell alone." He hates that they do this, that they forget that everyone is different, that Puck doesn't see this death the way they do. If it had been his mother, yes, if it had been his Nana, yes. But Puck probably doesn't remember very much about his father to feel the grief. What they're doing is superimposing their own hang ups about death and loss and trying to get Puck to deal with those issues when it's unlikely he's suffering that way at all.
Kurt hated it when they tried to impose their religious beliefs on him while his father was in a coma. He understands that they're pushing Puck away more than making him feel any better. Mercedes understands how Kurt felt, they talked about it. But everyone else seemed to hold something against him about it all. Mr Schue tries to hand out assignments, they're about finding songs with meaning, and Kurt actually volunteers to be Puck's partner for this, since he's not there to argue and he might be the only one Puck isn't willing to punch right then -girls included.
It's not until later, much later, when Puck is sitting on Kurt's floor with his guitar, strumming aimlessly and Kurt's going through his iTunes to find something they'll both agree on that still has some kind of 'meaning'. "What do you think Schue meant when he said 'meaning'." Kurt is actually finding Puck's company to be somewhat easy -it's calm and comfortable, strangely enough. Especially with the near constant accompaniment of notes.
"Maybe he's looking for hints on how to tell Miss P. that he's not really a whore and wants to get with that." Puck isn't exactly helpful though. "Oh, hey, one Coach S. would like." Kurt can't help but laugh as Puck starts strumming out Bigmouth Strikes Again. He's a little surprised when Puck sings the first verse, because he sounds really good. He stops after the first verse though and Kurt gets a little serious.
"You know the Stones, right?" Puck gives him a look as if he's just called Rachel hard work. "Of course you do. Can you play Wild Horses?" Puck just nods, looking down at his guitar. It's a powerful song; Kurt understands that, he figures it might mean something too, more than just being meaningful, at least to Puck. Kurt gets to 'no sweeping exits' before Puck actually breaks and the tears start rolling down his face.
He feels a little useless, when the guitar drops to the floor and Noah folds in on himself, sobbing and his shoulders shaking and Kurt has no idea what the hell to do. Shaking himself out of it, Kurt squats down beside Noah, wrapping his arms around his shoulders to pull him closer, there's no fight or pull away from it and Noah just carries on crying and leaning against Kurt and, trying to be comforting, Kurt pets at the mohawk, hoping it calm the hiccupping sobs and choking gasps to a manageable level so that Noah can talk around them if he wants. When he does, the words just seem to tumble out, "It's so stupid, y'know cause he's such a piece of shit and it wasn't like he ever gave us anything, but fuck, even now I'd always sort of hoped he'd come back. I didn't even know why but just if he'd come back maybe we could fix things and Ma wouldn't always be sad and Sarah wouldn't ask why she didn't have a Dad and we could be better or something. He had to care right? At one point we had to matter, they got married so he must've loved her and he taught me how to play, he used to just sit around sometimes and show me how and I used to think he was this awesome guy or whatever, and then he's just gone one day and," Puck sniffed, leaning a little against Kurt as his breath caught, "it must've been me, y'know, I did something or wasn't good enough. I thought it was the guitar thing, cause I wasn't good enough or something and I kept playin' and playin' 'til my fingers bled one time, cause I thought if I was good enough he'd come back. But he never did.
Fuckin' Columbus, he stayed in fucking Columbus. Never called or anything, he just lived there and pretended we didn't exist or something and got on with his life and," the sobs start back up, and Kurt can't help but start rocking Noah a little, running his hand over his hair and trying to shush him, "why weren't we enough for him?" It's painful, watching this supposedly strong, untouchable boy break apart on his bedroom floor, in his arms, and Kurt hates Mr Puckerman right then, because he put his family through this, and Noah grew up thinking he wasn't enough for his own father to stay.
Noah continues crying against Kurt until there's nothing left but tired gasps and dry tears. Kurt doesn't move though, he just holds on and lets Noah lie against him and calm down. "I got snot on your fancy shirt." Kurt can't help the laugh, even though Noah's voice is hoarse and raw and soft, he laughs.
"I don't care." Because Puck must've needed that, he needed something to break apart so that he could just get it out, and Rachel wasn't doing the right thing, but apparently Kurt did.
"Yeah, you do," okay, maybe a little, "but thanks for lying." Kurt wonders why Noah hasn't moved away, both of them leaning back against the bed, Kurt with his arm around Noah's shoulders and his other hand stroking at the back of his head, over his surprisingly soft hair. Noah's still got his head on Kurt's shoulder, still angling his body in towards Kurt and breathing slow and shallow. "That was the first song he taught me. He was a Stones man. I learned Wild Horses, and Can't Get What You Want, and Paint it Black before I even knew the words to Twinkle Twinkle. Ma always complained, said I'd turn into some punk brat." Noah snorts on a laugh, "Kinda proved her right there. He always said that it worked for them, he used to play stupid band nights in some dive bar, he met her there, played She Smiled Sweetly and asked her out in front everyone. Ma hates it whenever she hears a Stones song. I'm pretty sure she hates Mick Jagger too."
It's the most Kurt's actually heard out of Noah, ever. Even though he once talked about his Dad when he sang Beth for Quinn, Kurt didn't put a lot of stock in how Noah might've felt about his father. What Noah said was usually what Noah meant. "I really hate that I miss him when he was never there in the first place."
"Sometimes, these things don't make sense. I mean, I love my Dad, he's amazing. But sometimes, I just want my Mom." He feels like maybe, for once, he can understand this boy. That they have some kind of common ground and it's not just that Puck used to throw Kurt in dumpsters. "We don't have to do that song, we'll find something else."
"I'd kinda like to do that one." Kurt's not sure if it's a good idea, but then, every time he listens to the Beatles, he gets a little twinge of something that doesn't hurt. "I'm pretty sure I won't go all Lifetime movie on you again."
"I'd appreciate that." Noah slowly starts to pull away, sitting upright and wiping his face with the sleeve of his shirt. "Nice as it is to see you are human, I'd like to minimise the ruined shirts to one." He's glad that Noah manages a small laugh at that, nodding slightly.
It's a little weird, but at the same time, Kurt's glad that it happened here. Because Kurt understands needing to deal with things in his own way, sometimes you just can't expect people to grieve the same way as everyone else and at least there was no hand holding and 'this little light of mine' going on.