Pretend there's a disclaimer here.

This is my first Glee fanfic, so just keep that in mind.

As far as this story goes, I have the entire thing outlined already, and now it's just a matter of actually writing it. If I stick to the outline I've got, this story is going to be almost 30 chapters. (What can I say? I don't really like writing short stories.) I'm planning on updating this once a week until it's done, but I won't make any promises.

Other than that, enjoy - and feedback is loved! If you've got any questions, just message me and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.

Chapter 1: Rumors

"Did you hear?" a freshman asked her friend as the two girls collected their things and started on their way out of Spanish class. "He got kicked out of his house this summer."

Neither of them payed any attention to their teacher, who was watching them with a mildly interested look on his face. He'd seen them passing notes back and forth during class, and he'd let them get away with it this time. It was still just the first month of school, after all, and they hadn't started covering anything too complex. If their grades didn't pick up soon, though, he'd start putting his foot down about their lack of attention.

She nodded emphatically, clutching her books to her chest. "My cousin told me that he's keeping a sleeping bag in the back of that old blue truck he owns, and he sleeps in the bed of it most nights," she said in a hushed voice. That particular statement quickly caught Will Schuester's attention - there was only one student he knew who owned a blue truck - and he started listening more intently to their conversation. "And she said that he hasn't eaten in the cafeteria since school started, he's just been drinking from the same old water bottle."

The first girl cast a nervous glance up and down the hallway to make sure that the subject of their gossip wasn't within earshot. "Yeah. And he's sleeping with my mother and three of her book club friends again," she said. "She thinks I don't know, but she's even paying him for it again."

The second girl made a disgusted face, unable to hide her blush. "That's disgusting!" she said.

"She's just glad he's not desperate enough to start going after the closet cases for the extra cash, otherwise she'd be worried that he'd catch something," she said. She suddenly paled and elbowed her friend just as the other girl opened her mouth to say something else. "Shut up!" she hissed. "He's coming down the hall!"

The second freshman squeaked and the two of them scurried down the hall, away from whoever they'd been gossiping about.

Will frowned and glanced out the door to his classroom in time to see Noah Puckerman shuffling past with an irritated look on his face. He quickly looked down at his gradebook, frowning slightly as the conversation between the two freshmen came back to him. Had they really been talking about Puck? He waited just a few seconds later before making up his mind and closing the gradebook, making his way out of his classroom and into the throngs of students on their way to their next classes.

"Puck!" Will called as he stepped out of his classroom and started walking toward the Glee room. "I need to talk to you," he said.

The mohawked teen was standing in front of his open locker, staring almost angrily at his phone. When he noticed Will approaching him, he scowled and made to start walking away, but Will pinned him with an uncommonly stern look that kept him from taking more than a half-step back. "I don't have Spanish until fifth period, so I can't be in trouble for skipping it yet," Puck snapped, though his tone lacked any real bite. He had the start of dark circles under his eyes, and he looked far too exhausted for the first month of school, especially for a student who didn't invest that much effort in the academic part of school to begin with.

"That's not what I want to talk to you about," Will said. "But this conversation is best held in private. I don't have a class for third period, so my classroom will do for now," he said.

Puck sneered, putting his phone back in his pocket and pulling a notebook from his locker. "Yeah, well, I've got math class in three minutes," he said, slamming the locker shut.

"And you've been bragging since the beginning of Glee that you haven't seen the inside of that classroom since your first day," Will said, hoping that his attempt at humor would be well-received. Judging from the dirty look he got in response, that wasn't the case. "I'll write Ellen, ah, Mrs. Denoba," he said, correcting himself at the mildly curious look on Puck's face. "I'll write her a note excusing your tardy this time," he said. "This conversation shouldn't take too long."

Puck hesitated for a moment before nodding slowly. "Fine," he said, reluctantly following Will back into the Spanish classroom.

Once they were both inside the room, Will shut the door gently behind himself in the hopes that their privacy would be respected and turned to Puck.

The teen had perched on the top of the desk directly in front of Will's desk, and he was shoving his notebook into his backpack.

Will thought he saw a toothbrush in the bag and frowned, but he didn't say anything.

When he realized that he was being watched, though, Puck immediately fell still and glared back at Will, his expression practically daring the older man to say the wrong thing.

Will was the first to break the impromptu staring contest. He walked over to his desk, absently shuffling his papers around in an attempt to alleviate the awkward silence.

It didn't work.

"I've been hearing some disturbing rumors about you," he said quietly. "And I wanted to make sure that there wasn't any truth to them."

Puck scowled, though if Will didn't know any better, he'd say there was a slightly scared look coloring the younger man's otherwise intimidating expression. "Rumors are bullshit," he said. "If you believed some of them, then you'd have to believe all of them. Meaning you're a closet case and a power bottom, Karofsky's fucking his sister's best friend, Brittany's a genius and hiding it perfectly, Hummel's really a hermaphrodite, and Figgins is having an affair with Coach Sylvester and that swim coach at the same time," he said.

Will flushed red at the rumors concerning himself, hoping to hide it quickly.

Puck's knowing look told him he'd been at least partially unsuccessful, but the teen didn't say anything about it, which was slightly reassuring, but still odd. He would have at least expected a halfway homophobic joke, not the stony silence and the uncomfortably intelligent look he was currently getting from Lima's resident sex shark.

"Is there," he started before falling silent suddenly. This wasn't going to end well, and he knew it already. Despite knowing that, he gathered his confidence and asked the question anyway. "Is there anything you'd like to tell me?" he asked. Fortunately, his voice hadn't broken or trembled, but the question had sparked a sudden change in Puck.

The teen immediately shut down. Puck stood up, jerking his backpack over his shoulder. He was glaring at Will, his eyes practically glowing with anger. "Yeah," he said, sounding more like a feral animal than an angry teenage boy. "Mind your own fucking business. You're worse than Hummel when it comes to sticking your nose where it doesn't fucking belong," he snapped, making his way for the door.

"Stop, Puck," Will said, his tone sharper than he'd intended. He stepped toward the door, but stopped when he realized just how angry Puck was at the moment. The boy had shown incredible restraint when he was angry before, but he'd never seen Puck physically tremble with anger before and he had no inclination whatsoever to test the teen's restraint at the moment.

The teen didn't even slow his pace. If anything, when he saw Will start to approach him, Puck walked faster, yanking the door open and letting it slam shut behind him as he headed toward the locker room.

Seconds later, the bell rang, signaling the start of third period.

Will made his way out to the hallway again, looking for Puck to continue their conversation, though hopefully with a better outcome this time. As he'd half expected, he was nowhere to be seen. Will sighed and started heading toward the locker room. He didn't particularly want to get so close to encroaching on Sue's territory, but he had a deep, nagging feeling in his gut that the rumors he'd just heard were truer than he wanted them to be, especially with Puck's reaction to his one question.

Rachel appeared out of nowhere as Will rounded a corner, talking excitedly about the song theme that he'd assigned that for the first week of Glee club, and how they needed to streamline the Glee curriculum for Regionals. She was speaking so quickly that Will was unable to understand everything that she was saying, but he still tried to pay attention.

He did his best to appear interested, but he kept scanning the hallway for any signs of Puck.

"Mr. Schuester?" Rachel asked after a moment, falling silent when she realized that she didn't have Will's full attention.

"Yes, Rachel?" he asked, his gaze immediately returning to her.

"Is something wrong? You seem distracted." She frowned. "It's not Coach Sylvester, is it? My fathers told me that they'd talk to Principal Figgins if she kept trying to interfere with important Glee Club matters," she said.

Will almost laughed, shaking his head. Pushing Noah Puckerman to the back of his mind, he smiled at Rachel. "Sue's not a problem yet," he said. "Don't you have class?" he asked.

She shook her head. "I have a study block for third period and I told the new librarian that I needed to talk to you about Glee Club. She let me come find you," she said

Will nodded, doing a final scan of the otherwise deserted hallway. He silently promised himself that he would find Puck and get answers out of him later before looking back over at Rachel and offering her a small smile. "Let's go back to my classroom and start working out some ideas," he said.

Rachel beamed up at him and started walking with him down the hallway, chattering on about the importance of continuing to use themes that demanded the range of talent be fully exhibited this year.

He continued listening and made a few suggestions of his own, jotting quick notes on a piece of scrap paper on his desk about the theme possibilities. His mind, however, kept going back to the freshman conversation he'd overheard at the end of the period.

...

Meanwhile, Noah had left the school entirely, using one of the side doors to get out undetected, and was sitting in the driver's seat of his truck, blasting Lamb of God and ignoring his phone, which occasionally buzzed, alerting him to a new text message.

After almost an hour of silently venting, when he heard the bell ringing that signaled the end of third period, he looked over at his phone and scrolled through the 6 new text messages. One in particular, from a private number, had him scowling.

Tom left for an out of state meeting ten minutes ago. If you get here before noon, I'll pay you triple the usual. - Jess

"Fucking hate cougars," he growled to himself as he started his truck. He typed a quick response, letting Jess know that he'd be over in a few minutes, and pulled out of the school parking lot.

He'd just need to make it back in time to use the locker room shower, and he had to remember to leave his letter jacket in the truck so she wouldn't ruin it. The first game of the football season was tonight, after all.

He glanced over at his phone when it buzzed, alerting him to Jess' response. After reading it, he scowled again and turned around, heading for the nearest gas station to pick up extra condoms. This was going to take a while.

Fortunately, no one would notice his absence from school for a few hours.

Or so he thought.