Author's Note: I'll try not to babble too much (I tend to do that in these notes, so I won't be offended if you just down to the actual update), but I just want to thank everyone in advance for reading. I'm not going to be able to update as quick as I used to back in the good ol' days, but I promise not to leave y'all hanging. This story sprang out of a song I heard on the radio one day and then never heard again (don't you hate that?!). I was worried it was some stupid boy band, and then it oddly turned out to be a punk wannabe kind of thing, which was even weirder considering. The title is kind of a clue since it is some of the lyrics, but I don't want to tell the song because I plan to make it pretty vital to the story.
The story, as the summary mentions, is completely A/U but hopefully in character (with some added maturity since everyone is a bit older). Everything that you need to know about people's backgrounds will eventually be told. Right now, please just enjoy the web I have woven, and let me know what you think (even if you hate it)! Thanks so much!
Simple chords from an acoustic guitar echoed in the room, accompanied only by an occasional frustrated sigh from Sam as he scratched out the words he'd just jotted down. He'd looked up from his stack of crumbled pieces of paper a few times, staring at Puck like he could do something to help, but Puck really couldn't. He couldn't come up with a melody without any lyrical direction. And, even if he could, he didn't get paid enough to try. In fact, if Sam's writing block continued, Puck might not be getting paid ever again.
"That's not funny, Puck," Sam groaned at the sound of the Jeopardy theme coming from Puck's guitar. He raised his hands up high to stretch, exhausted from staring at the same fragmented half-sentence for the past twenty minutes. He sort of just fell into this line of work, and he'd just assumed it would always be that easy. "Why are you even here if you aren't going to help?"
"You're my only client," Puck said pointedly, his eyebrows raised. "Or don't you remember the diva trip you pulled on me last year?"
Sam mumbled something about friendship and loyalty before going back to writing (or trying to write). Puck simply rolled his eyes, but stopped playing on his guitar. He couldn't very well leave, and if Sam needed it quiet to write, then Puck would be quiet. After all, if Sam's block continued much longer, then Puck might have to hawk his guitar to pay rent. No one would hire him again, for sure, after failing to manage one career that seemed brighter than the sun a year ago.
"You know what you need?"
"I'm not getting drunk with you."
Puck frowned at the instant reply. "That's not what I was gonna say."
"Really?" Sam looked up skeptically.
"Ya need a good lay." Puck smirked at the blonde's exasperated sigh. "It will loosen ya up."
"I don't need to be loose." Sam continued talking before the obvious joke could fall from Puck's lips. "I need to finish a damn song before the label drops both of us!"
The room got eerily quiet, the words resting heavily on each of them. It was the truth, after all. Sam was the hottest name in the game last year, but his crazed fan base had the attention span of a gnat. Boy bands were coming back and the hip-hop scene was starting to take over in pop culture again. Sam needed to get back out there or his fifteen minutes of fame would be up and they'd both be out of a job.
"Look, just … take a break or whatever. Clear your head." Puck stood. "I'mma do somethin' real quick, then we'll work on it together."
Sam nodded pathetically, pushing away from the table and walking out of the room with slumped shoulders. Puck moved to the corner of the large office, sitting behind his desk and pulling up his contacts. Puck didn't go to school for his career like most others, but he wasn't stupid. He'd made connections and he knew exactly how he could buy Sam some time. Music wasn't the only way a performer stayed in the spotlight.
Puck quickly pulled up the name he'd been searching for, clearing his throat as the phone rang on speaker.
"Good afternoon, this is Valerie speaking. How might I assist you?"
"Hey, Val," Puck began smoothly, laying on the charm as best he could in such simple conversation. "Is Gabby in today or were you two girls out too late breaking hearts?"
Valerie giggled and participated in more back and forth than Puck had expected. He'd made a point not to sleep his way into a corner, but Valerie was definitely one of the chicks who always tried to get him to break that rule. It took some vague promising and faked enthusiasm before she finally transferred the call; it seemed like a small step, but in this business getting past the secretary was like crossing the last circle of Hell.
"And here I thought you were dead."
"Me or my career?"
Puck chuckled, pushing down the actual lump of fear he could feel forming in his chest. Had word of Sam's writing block spread to other agencies already? Was it in the media? He really needed to roam the Internet more. "I need a favor."
"Funny thing," she began, in that same fast-talking, attractive way she always spoke.
Gabby was a lot like Puck in that she used her appearance to push her way through a lot of the business' barriers, but she also had the brains to back up everything else. It was frustrating as hell because she could talk him into doing shit without him even realizing it, and he could never figure out if it was because she was that good at her job or because she looked that good in her outfits. Probably a little of both.
"I was actually going to call you about a favor."
"I thought we talked about this. Let's just stay friends," Puck joked, mostly because he didn't want to seem desperate. Anything Gabby had for him would buy him/Sam at least a month. "What's up?"
"Got this girl. Super amazing, super hot, super new."
"Broadway, but …"
Puck sighed. This wasn't his first rodeo. Gabby's hard sell couldn't hide the fact that this super amazing, super hot, super new vocalist was also a super snob. Broadway folks never made it mainstream, mostly because they all had diva attitudes and terrible personalities. If you sound like shit in the media, it won't matter how amazing you sound in the studio.
"She's incredible, Puck. An easy sell."
"Then why do you need a favor?"
"I don't need anything."
Puck closed his eyes, forgetting he'd been the one to call her. There weren't many allies in this business and even less when there was a target on your back. Sam's empire was seconds away from collapsing and everyone knew it. And no one was dumb enough to willingly board a sinking ship. Not without the hope of a life preserver.
"I was going to call you for your benefit. Your Ken doll is one reality show away from falling off the face of the earth completely, and I just thought I'd help you out so I'm not interviewed on one of those Behind the Music specials when one or both of you die of depression."
"Sunny picture, Gabs." Puck quickly considered his options, and then realized he didn't have any. "What's the plan?"
"I need her name in a different scene. The musical nerds are not the demographic we're going for. She needs to hit a younger, hipper audience."
"Right. I figure we start small, have them meet at a public place somewhere for coffee. Let the tabs dip their toes in the dating rumors before we up the ante however we see fit."
"How long?" There was a pause, so Puck changed his question. "When does her record drop?"
Puck sighed heavily, figuring it was a month better than he thought. Sam wasn't going to like it – he hated the politics of the business and Puck would probably have to listen to yet another long-winded speech about the integrity of Sam's music – but this would give Puck time to think of something more long term. Or, pray to Jesus, enough time for Sam to pen a few songs and get his ass into the studio and on tour again.
"Let's do it," he finally agreed. "What's her name?"
"For real?" It sounded made up. And kind of hot. "She single?"
"What happened to your rules?"
Puck grinned. "Ain't nothing in the book about singers, babe."
"She's not a singer, Puckerman. She's a star."
"Is she in the room or what?" He scoffed.
"She's not available." Each word was punctuated purposefully. "She's seeing Sam."
"Right." Puck rolled his eyes. "Later, Gabs."
Puck clicked the off button in frustration, tossing the phone onto his desk haphazardly before leaning back in his chair with his hands covering his face. When Sam had approached him about needing a manager and wanting Puck to do the job, he'd thought it would be easy. Hang out with his friend all the time, tour awesome places and sleep with groupies. If he'd known there was going to be so much work involved, he might have stuck with his pool cleaning business.
Puck dropped his hands, eyeing his blonde friend. Sam looked refreshed, courtesy of either the fresh spring air or the iced coffee drink gripped in his left hand, but Puck knew better than to assume the good mood would last much longer.
"When's the last time you were in New York?"
"October?" Sam guessed. "Why?"
"Did you happen to see any shows?"
Sam started to frown, fed up with questions that he knew all too well were leading to something he wasn't going to like. "Get to your point, Puck."
"Have you ever heard of Rachel Berry?"
"Well ... you're dating her."
"Puck," Sam whined loudly, stomping closer to Puck's desk. "I'm getting so sick of this kind of crap! What did you do?"
"I'm buying us time, dude!" Puck snapped. "This chick is the next hot thing and your name attached to hers will give us at least two months to come up with something else. Or, I don't know, maybe write a fuckin' song!"
Sam bowed his head, burrowing his foot into the ground bashfully before looking back up. "You're right. I'm sorry." He laughed at the way Puck blinked in surprise. "What does she look like?"
Puck winced, realizing he'd just won a pretty big battle and now was going to be knocked out cold in the next round. "I don't know."
"Well find out," Sam demanded, moving back to his spot at the leather couch. "I'll just be over here writing a fuckin' song."
"Maybe," Puck joked right back, glad he and Sam had managed to somehow learn to stay friends while still working together (especially during these tough times). It had honestly been one of Puck's biggest concerns two years ago. He'd heard and seen too many stories about friends forming bands and then breaking up and never speaking to one another again. Puck had been popular in high school, but Sam had been his only real friend. They'd both used the other to hide their shitty home lives from the rest of the school, and in doing so bonded in a way that probably would never break.
And so far, it hadn't.
Puck moved his chair closer to his computer and pulled up a search engine. He typed in the new girl's name, surprised by the number of hits that were generated so quickly. The broad already had a ton of unofficial fan sites, and the chatter about her upcoming release was insane. She was apparently a huge tweeter, which Puck noted as a great way to exploit her and Sam's meetings. Hashtag cutest couple ever. Hashtag pop prince and princess.
The possibilities were endless.
The obscenity slipped out before he could even try to censor it. His eyes were glued to the screen the second he'd clicked on the images tab, so he didn't even notice Sam move from across the room to directly behind him. Rachel Berry didn't just have a hot name, but a hot body. She was apparently well known for her red carpet style choices, and was on the cover of enough magazines recently that Puck wondered how he'd missed her for so long.
She had huge brown eyes, soulful in most pictures but completely sexy in others. Her hair was long and wavy, a deep chestnut that was the perfect contrast to her sun-kissed and seemingly smooth skin. Broadway had given her a tight, little frame that was so ridiculous when paired with her full, pouty lips that Puck legit couldn't help the impure thoughts that immediately coursed through his mind.
"My girlfriend is hot!"
Puck clicked through a few more photos, groaning low in his throat at one particularly risqué photo shoot that had her in high heels and low everything else. "She's way too hot for you."
"You're just jealous," Sam insisted, again moving back to his spot on the couch, but this time picking up his phone instead of the pen. "I'm going to follow her on Twitter."
"Don't be too obvious. We have to ease into this or people are gonna know it's bogus."
Sam smirked, his eyes lifting to look at Puck but his thumbs still poised on the mobile device. "Sure you don't want to stand behind me and tell me what to type?"
"Nah." Puck rolled his eyes, sliding back behind his desk and slumping down toward his laptop. "I'mma see if I can find any titty shots."
Sam laughed out loud, shaking his head. "Classy."
"Hey, it's for your benefit. You don't want your girlfriend to be a slut, right?"
"No, that's your type," Sam shot back, the two men chuckling at the comfortable conversation. It had been so tense lately with everything going on that it was nice to have moments when things didn't seem so dire. "Uh, she just tweeted about our date." Sam paused. "Apparently it is tomorrow."
"The fuck?" Puck pushed out of his seat, taking long strides to reach Sam quicker. He read the tweet, complete with cutesy smiley face and more exclamation points than necessary. "Chick's a freak."
"She called me a dreamboat."
Puck could hear the pride in Sam's voice. "You're pathetic."
"It's already being retweeted." Sam tilted his phone to show Puck the screen. "They're trying to get hashtag Samchel trending."
Puck rolled his eyes, pushing himself off the couch and walking back to his desk. He was torn between whether this was the worst idea he'd ever had or the best. And, once again – as he looked at the picture of Rachel spread out on a locker room bench with a sucker in her mouth and her eyes somehow staring right through him – he figured it was probably a little of both.