Author's Notes: This is a 'missing scene' from the Glee episode 'Props' S3E20, so possible spoilers for everything up to that point. If you haven't seen the episode, you might not get the story, because I'm diving right into the scene. On a personal note, I do not advocate corporal punishment in schools in real life, but I love reading and writing about it happening to fictional characters. The first line of this story is straight from the show.
Disclaimer: I don't own any of these characters, I'm not making any money from this story.
Warning: Non-consensual disciplinary spanking of a teen by an authority figure.FAILURE
"You and me, we're badasses. Nobody thinks anything hurts us, but it does." Shannon held Puck tight while he cried. She found herself crying too when she thought about her husband.
She wasn't crying over Cooter socking her one. She'd done her share of contact sports, and she could take a hit. She wasn't crying because someone she loved had hit her. She used to fight with her sister all the time. They'd come to blows more than once, and her parents had been staunch believers in corporal punishment for misbehavior.
She was crying because Cooter's hateful and demeaning words had soaked into every fiber of their marriage. The things he'd been screaming when he punched her had left bruises on her self-esteem that refused to fade. The way he lost control and yelled at her every time he was angry made her question her own self-worth.
That switchblade in Noah's hand today had been a wake up call for her. She could see herself so clearly in his actions. A caged animal will only cower for so long before viscously fighting back. She needed to step out of the cage her marriage had become, and the kid she was holding needed to realize he wasn't even in one.
Puck finally got his crying under control, after an embarrassing length of time, and let his arms drop from around Coach Beiste. She squeezed him tight once, and let go as well.
"Sorry," Puck mumbled. He brushed the tears off his face, unable to make eye contact.
Shannon wiped at her own eyes, and said. "Sorry for what?"
He shrugged, and gestured towards her damp shoulder and said, "For that." He gestured to the fake switchblade on the ground, "For that. For everything. For messing up all the time. For being a failure."
"Hey." When he didn't look at her, she took his chin in her fingers and forced his eyes up to hers. "Don't say that. You're not a failure."
"You're joking right?" He glared at her.
"No I'm not," she said. He tried to pull his chin out of her grasp, but she held tight, and put her other hand on his shoulder to keep him there while she was speaking. "I don't see you as a failure. Your friends in glee club, Mr. Schue, and Ms. Pillsbury don't see you that way either. We all see a good kid with the potential to be a great man. Sure you've made some bad decisions, but all of us have. That doesn't make you a failure."
Normally Puck wouldn't argue. Normally he'd accept whatever platitude one of his teachers wanted to give him, so he could get away from their nonsense as quickly as possible. But he couldn't do it today. "Flunking Geography and not graduating does make me failure. Pretty soon I'll even have a piece of paper to make it official."
Shannon let go of him, and shook her head. "Stop that. You've got to get your head on straight Puckerman. What do I always say to you boys before a game?"
He thought about it for a second. "Let's go out there and win this?"
"What do I say about the other team?"
"Oh that. Don't let the other team psych you out."
"That's right. You can't let those negative thoughts get inside here." She tapped the tip of a finger to his forehead. "That goes for a game, and it goes for life too. You need to start listening to the people who genuinely care about you, and stop listening to the people who don't."
"What if no one genuinely cares?"
Her heart went out to the boy. She said softly, "You can't seriously believe that Noah. I care, Mr. Sch…"
He shook his head, and cut her off. "You guys get paid to care."
She glared at him. "No, actually we don't. Do you think I'd fake my concern for you? You think I could even if I wanted to?"
He fidgeted under her glare for a few seconds before muttering, "No. Sorry."
"Do you need me to prove it to you?" she asked.
"That I care."
He shrugged. He didn't know how to answer that question. Sure proof would be nice. But he doubted proof was possible.
"Okay," she said softly, taking the shrug as a yes. She looked around the room, and spotted her clipboard hanging on the wall. She grabbed it, unclipped the papers, and set them on the bench. She walked up to a confused Puck, grabbed his upper arm and smacked the back of the clipboard across the seat of his pants twice.
"What… Hey!" He covered his butt with his hand, palm facing out in case she hit it again, and tried to pull his arm out of her grip. She held him tight, and waited for him to stop struggling. When he couldn't easily get away, he hissed, "What the hell do you think you're doing?"
"I'm paddling you. Move your hand."
"Are you shitting me? You're my teacher, you can't paddle me!"
Shannon gave him a look of sympathy. "I'm not being your teacher right now, Punkin, I'm being your stand in parent, your friend, and your mentor. I'm being the person who doesn't let you call yourself a failure and get away with it."
The softly spoken words sucked most of the anger out of him, and Puck found himself unable to speak around the sudden lump in his throat. He searched her eyes for any hint of dishonesty, and when he didn't find any, he focused his confused glare towards the ground. He balled his hand into a fist, took a deep breath, and moved it away from his butt.
"Come here," she said, and gently led him to the bench a couple of feet away. She put one foot on the bench, and pulled on him until he was slightly bent over leaning against her thigh. She started whacking his behind with the clipboard while keeping her hand on his upper arm to hold him in place.
She felt his body jump, and heard him grunt with the first whack, and then he fell silent. She nodded to herself. She'd picked the clipboard, because she knew it wouldn't do the kid any real damage. The flimsy piece of wood would break before it actually hurt him, and she had no intention of hitting him that hard. She'd seen him walk away from a football game with bruising all up and down his torso, and a smile on his face. The boy was no wimp. The clipboard would make a lot of noise, sting a tiny bit, and hopefully leave a lasting impression.
Puck's mind raced. He had no idea why he was letting her do this to him. He told himself he should try to get away, but his body refused to move. He told himself he should be pissed, but his emotions refused to cooperate.
After the first ten smacks, she started to lecture while she spanked. "I never want to hear you call yourself a failure again. You can say that you made a mistake. You can say that you made a bad choice. But you don't say that you're a failure."
Fresh tears slipped down his face when he realized that he didn't actually want to run away from this. Part of him was relieved to have an adult he could lean on who didn't think he was worthless, even if she was slapping a clipboard against his ass repeatedly.
"You also don't get to say that no one cares about you," she continued, "because that's not true. I care, Will and Emma care, and everyone in glee cares, especially Finn. And because I care, if you ever pull another stunt like the one you pulled today with the switchblade, I'll paddle you again." She stopped swatting him and said, "Have I made my point, or do I need to make it more clear to you?"
His voice wavered when he answered. "No, I get it."
"What do you get?" she asked, keeping him in place for now.
Noah wiped the tears off his face, took a deep breath, and said, "No calling myself a failure, you guys care about me, and no more switchblades."
"No more doing anything that could get you expelled or worse," she said, and followed it up with one more swat.
The extra swat caught him off guard and a surprised grunt came out of his throat. "Okay," he answered quickly, "no more of that. I got it. I swear."
Hearing sincerity in his voice, she pulled on his arm until he was standing up straight, put her foot back on the floor, dropped the clipboard onto the bench, and took a good look at the boy. To her surprise he was staring straight at her. The naked hope she saw in his eyes gave her hope as well. "I'm holding you to it, Noah."
"Okay." He nodded.
"No more talk about failure."
"Then I'd say we're done for now." She pulled him into a hug.
He held her tight and vowed to start believing the people who said good things about him.