A/N: I don't own Ten Inch Hero, Glee, or any other known entity. I also don't own the song, 'Only the Good Die Young' by Billy Joel, mentioned in passing. I'm a fan of the movie, and because the show had given hints to Puck's future, I adapted it. As far as Glee is concerned, it's Puck-centric, with mentions of a few others and one cameo. This story starts in 2012, and stories are adapted since the movie was from 2007. I hope you guys enjoy the story, and please review. :)
Home Away From Home
Trucker always had a thing for strays.
He'd had several over the years, from the stray dog who hung around the shop to the stray cat he'd pretty much adopted at home. And, at times, the same applied to his kids.
He always called them his kids, never his employees. Because, to him, they were more of his family than anything else, which was why they were all a part of the hiring process. Same applied to his regular customers: family more than patrons, there day in and day out. He'd watched his kids, and their kids, grow before his eyes.
He began seeing life in a whole new light after his commitment to Zo.
His kids had figured out their own love lives: Piper and Noah were happy and raising Julia together. Jen and Jeff (also known around the shop as Fuzzy), though separated by a few towns, had worked things out for themselves. And Tish and Priestly… they were getting married in a few months, out on the beach.
Except they planned to keep their clothes on.
All and all, he and his kids had figured a lot out for themselves over the years, and he couldn't be happier that they were all happy. His strays had found their own version of home, making them all one big, happy, dysfunctional family.
That's how he knew this kid would fit in just nicely.
He couldn't have been more than eighteen years old the first time he walked into the sandwich shop. Hungry and tired, he made his way up to the counter, catching the attention of the four kids behind the desk. He ran his hand over his mohawk as he tried to decide what he wanted, and Priestly smiled.
"Nice 'do," he commented.
The young man looked at him. "Thanks," he replied.
"What can I get you?" Tish asked, pulling the pencil out from behind her ear.
"Uh, roast beef."
She slid the paper over to Jen as Piper began assembling the sandwich. The younger man backed up from the counter slightly.
"How about a drink?" Jen asked, looking up from the computer.
"Uh, sure," he replied.
She nodded, grabbing a cup and looking at him. "Anything in particular?"
She filled the cup up, handing it to him as Piper passed him the sandwich. He went to pull out his wallet when Trucker's voice stopped him.
"It's on the house," the older man said.
The kids glanced at him, but said nothing.
"You new in town?" Trucker continued.
"Uh, yeah," the younger man replied.
"Where are you from?"
The kid was hesitant to answer at first, but Trucker watched the reasoning cross his face. "Lima, Ohio," he said after a moment.
"You got a name?" Priestly asked.
"Puck," the kid answered.
"Welcome to Beach City Grill, Puck," Trucker said. "I'm Trucker. That's Priestly, Piper, Jen, and Tish." He pointed at each of them as he introduced his kids. He then turned to his customers. "That's Mr. Julius and Lucille."
"What brings you out here?" Lucille asked, petting the top of her dog's head.
Puck shrugged, sitting down at the counter. "Just graduated high school," he found himself explaining to the group of strangers. "Decided to move my business out here."
"You have a business?" Mr. Julius asked.
"You have a lot of customers out in Lima, Ohio?" Trucker asked.
Puck shrugged again. "Some," he said.
Trucker nodded. "Any customers out here yet?"
Puck shook his head.
"We see quite a few people during the day. If you want, you can advertise here."
Puck nodded. "Thanks," he said.
"No problem," Trucker replied. "Anything to help out another local business."
Puck started coming around a little more regularly after that, in between the few customers he was seeing. His business had been bigger in Lima with less competition, but he was still making something. It just wasn't enough to get by. So Puck ended up spending more nights sleeping on the floor of his van than in a bed.
He made his way into the shop one afternoon, his eyes tired. "Just water, Tish," he said softly as he sat on his stool at the counter.
"Rough night?" she asked, obliging to his request.
He shook his head while the others looked on.
"Business picking up?" Trucker asked.
Puck's silence was the only confirmation the older man needed.
"You know, I've been thinking about hiring someone to help out around the lunch and dinner rush," the older man mused. "If you're interested."
Puck stiffened. "I don't need charity," he said.
"It's not. And, it's yours if you change your mind."
Puck didn't say a word, drinking from his glass as his phone rang. "Puckerman," he answered it.
The kids looked at Tucker, who simply watched them. As the four of them nodded, almost in approval of the offer, he smiled.
Unlike Priestly's former mohawk, Puck's had been shaved into his head, but when he first jumped behind the counter for the lunch rush, the customers didn't even notice the difference. They had gotten used to the group of kids that seemed to have come from all corners of the world, so Puck was just another welcomed addition to Trucker's family. And though he'd never admit it, Puck was thankful for the easy opportunity to supplement his income.
His pool cleaning business hadn't taken off quite like he'd hoped.
Between the few hours at the sub shop and the few customers he had, Puck had managed to get a decent apartment, with enough room for his few things and a bed. Not much to write home about, but enough to make him comfortable.
And he fell into a rhythm with his newfound friends, trading barbs with the gang and inciting some of Priestly's now-famous philosophical debates. And though Priestly had toned down the hair, he still wore some of the crazy T-shirts.
"No one knows you're a lesbian, huh?" Puck started, gesturing at the shirt Priestly chose for the day as he and Tish made their way in one morning. "Does that mean Tish got a surprise the first night of the honeymoon?"
"In a manner of speaking," Priestly barbed back, catching the apron Jen tossed him.
"I'm pretty sure you were the one that was surprised," Tish commented, looking at Priestly.
"Actually, your shirt reminds me of a friend of mine," Puck said. "Well, I should say an ex-girl of mine. She didn't come out until senior year. After she'd slept with most of the guys in our class."
"So no one knew she was a lesbian, huh?" Priestly asked, walking around the counter.
"Well, her girlfriend… actually, yeah, no one knew."
Jen furrowed her eyebrows. "How exactly did her girlfriend not know she was a lesbian?" she asked.
Puck smiled slightly. "You'd have to meet Brittany to understand," he replied.
A night at the pad had started with dinner with Zo and Jeff, and ended with the group out on the balcony drinking beer and soda. The conversation drifted to origins, and how Trucker and Zo both met in high school. Yearbook produced as evidence was used for a slight smile on Puck's face. Trucker watched the youngest and newest member of the family as he listened to the stories of those around him.
"So, who started at the shop first?" Jeff asked. While he and Jen had been together for years, Jeff himself hadn't quite spent much time with the group.
"Jen and Priestly came around the same time," Trucker replied.
"But really, I was there first," Priestly said.
"You walked through the door about five minutes before me," Jen replied, looking at him.
"But I was already behind the counter by the time you got in there."
"You'd just walked back there."
"Either way, you both started the same day," Trucker said, squashing the dispute for the moment. "Then came Tish. Then Piper. And now Puck."
"Where are you from, Puck?" Jeff asked the younger man.
"Ohio," he replied.
"This may seem like a random question, but did you sing in high school?"
Puck narrowed his eyes slightly.
Jeff smiled. "I thought you looked familiar," he explained. "I went with my kid sister out to her National Glee Club Championship this past spring. You were a part of the New Directions, right?"
The group looked over at Puck while he kept his stare on Jeff. A slight nod came from the youngest man in response to the question.
"You should sing sometime," Tish said.
Puck shrugged. "Maybe someday."
It had been almost a year at the sub shop by the time Puck sat down on his stool with his guitar. Having settled into a comfortable rhythm of hours at the shop and hours cleaning pools, he had begun to open up more to his friends at the shop. On the slow days, the kids, Trucker, Lucille, and Mr. Julius all talked about different topics.
Today, however, was different.
Puck started by strumming his guitar, tuning it as the others pretended not to listen, discussing some inane topic Priestly had come up with. After tuning the instrument, he began to just play, tapping his foot along with the beat of the song. As he finished the song, Piper smiled.
"Do you take requests?" she asked.
"Maybe if I know the song," he replied. "And if it's someone Jewish."
Piper gave him a strange look.
"I'm a proud Jew," he explained.
"Billy Joel," Mr. Julius piped up.
Puck began playing and singing 'Only the Good Die Young' as a new man entered into the sub shop. Puck was too busy playing the song and moving around the shop with his guitar to recognize him, though Trucker noticed his attention was on the young musician. Tish took his order while Priestly cooked, Piper assembled, and Jen typed the order into the computer.
It didn't take long for Trucker to realize that this man was someone who knew Puck from home. He was too old to be his friend, but too young to be his father, so Trucker guessed he was a teacher Puck had bonded with at school. When the song ended, he watched his youngest kid turn around to the applauding group.
"Mr. Schue?" the kid asked, shocked.
"Hey Puck," the man addressed.
"What're you doing out here?"
"I came out here for vacation. Emma- Ms. Pillsbury- couldn't make it. I thought you were heading to L.A. when you graduated."
Puck shrugged. "I got a little detoured."
Will smiled. "Ended up somewhere good, huh?"
Puck smiled with a slight nod. "His order's on me," he informed Jen.
Trucker shook his head. "No, it's not," he said. "It's on the house."
"Thank you," Will said, placing a good-sized tip in the jar.
"So, you were his teacher?" Trucker asked.
With a nod, Will extended his hand to Trucker. "Will Schuester."
Will sat at the counter and ate while Puck continued to play the guitar, though the two were talking over the music. And after Will had left and Puck went back to work, Trucker had noticed that his youngest kid was no longer the newest stray to wander in off the street. He was a great addition to the dysfunctional family in the shop.
Though it had never been his original intention when he started the place, Beach City Grill had become a refuge, of sorts, for the kindred spirits of the world. A place where anyone could crash in and be accepted for who they are. Regardless of their beliefs.
"Elvis is still alive!" Priestly insisted, pounding his fist into the counter.
Trucker shook his head. For those people in the world who didn't seem to fit in anywhere, they could easily find a place here. A home for those who'd left theirs looking for something new. A family who cared for one another, bonded more by life than by blood.
"You know, I've been meaning to ask, what does a beaver taste like?" Puck asked, gesturing at Priestly's shirt. "And, if cat is the other white meat, is beaver the other red meat?"
Trucker smiled, listening to the silly conversation between the two boys while the girls rolled their eyes and went off into their own discussion. Noah had proposed to Piper, so the girls were now discussing her wedding plans. Jeff would be moving up the coast in a few months, finally relocating to Santa Cruz after a discussion with Jen, who refused to leave. And Puck himself had met a girl, though he wasn't ready to get serious with her just yet.
His strays had always settled in, made themselves comfortable, and started a new life. Through the chaos involved in the process, his place had come to be a calming, peaceful, accepting location. His strays came in alone, but by the time they left (if they ever did), they were family.
And they were always welcomed home.