The Untitled Wound
Spoilers: Set During Season 1; spoilers up until episode 20, Theatricality.
Summary: Kurt does everything he can do to survive the final moments of a shooting at McKinley.
Pairings: Kurt/Puck!Friendship, maybe more.
The Untitled Wound
Kurt's time line seems to happen in the forms of weeks now, again another one going by before he is done with funerals. He had only attended those of who had been close to him, mainly his few friends and a few teachers that had shown any act of kindness to him. Surprisingly, that had put him at least two funerals a day, going from one to another and not even caring that his tux came on and went off at the beginning and end of each day. He was sure his father was washing it while he slept, but he was sleeping too much like a rock to hear the older man moving through his bedroom. Each day had quickly become a blur, even when he had gone to the funerals of his best friends.
The only one that really affected him was Tina's funeral, maybe it was because he saw her die or the fact that her parents had pulled him into an extremely long hug. He was looked down upon for some reason for not crying, but he couldn't bring himself to. He was too busy observing other people, seeing the real people that cared about Tina Cohen-Chang, amongst the other people that he had attended funerals for. He was sad, but he was remembering his happy moments to an extent instead of her death and how she died.
It didn't help that people kept asking him who he was with, or what did he see, or what was his story. Some people were incredibly angry that he had happened to survive and was receiving looks from many people that normally would have made him shift uncomfortably in his seat and glare at them, but he just sat there with a small smile at all times. He almost got slapped at one point, but the husband was able to hold his wife back. Kurt wasn't even sure who they were parents to, but his sympathy was lowering for them especially when the woman tried attacking more people out of anger. He didn't want to come across as ungrateful for surviving, snobbish to be sitting at these funerals having survived, or appearing too sad when people thought that he had nothing to be sorry about . . . no one cared that he has a hole in his stomach. No one cares that he had seen friend after friend die.
He had only finally started sleeping on a regular basis instead of staring at a dark ceiling until morning when he would blink himself into doing something. Even though he was sleeping, he could still remember his dreams, the people in them somehow dying even more horribly or talking to him through corpses. Half the time it takes him a few minutes when he wakes up to even realize that everything wasn't actually normal. The more funerals he went to, the more people he saw in his dreams.
Another bad funeral was when he went to see Quinn. He wasn't particularly close to the girl, but he was still fond of her and had been thinking of her as a sister for a recent time before the shooting. To make things worse, Puck, his rock throughout this week, had broken down crying. His sobs were so loud and hear-wrenching that he had dropped to the ground by Quinn's casket as they had taken their turn to approach it and say their goodbyes. It was then that Kurt had noticed that there was an untitled headstone next to Quinn's, signifying where the unborn child was acknowledged. Kurt had never thought about being a father, particularly at such a young age, but the thought of even losing someone of blood was too much for him. It had taken minutes of soft words and reassurances before Puck had clamped onto him and Kurt had to hold him up as they made their way back to their car.
It was at that moment, when they were walking past his father and Puck's mother, that the two parents had seemed to understand what these two meant to each other. Ever since Puck had started staying the night, they had discovered that both parents were in contact with the other. It had started after the second time that Puck had stayed the night; his mother had wanted for him to stay away so they could grieve in solitude. Puck had chosen Kurt, Kurt had chosen Puck, and the parents were left to worry about the health and co-dependency that they had created with each other. The only reason Kurt was aware of it was because he woke up one morning, extra early for some odd reason, and found Ms. Puckerman in the kitchen talking to his father. He didn't intrude, just informed Puck before they decided to ignore it for now. They were both happy, but seeing them at Quinn's funeral was enough to put them both at a peaceful mind that this was actually healthy and necessary.
Puck had barely made it down the stairs, his fingers drained of blood as he holds onto Kurt for his life. Kurt understands to an extent about Puck's loss, but it's been far too long since he had experienced the loss of someone that close. Tina was a friend that he loved, but it was different than when he lost his mother; a different feeling. Puck may not have known his daughter or have seen her, but he loved her and had a tethered connection to her that when it snapped, he was lost and falling.
The bed was wear Puck's sound had returned to him, his crying and voice mute since Kurt had gotten him to become so at the funeral. Once collapsing on the bed though, Puck became a trembling mess on Kurt's chest and his sobs became more vocal. Kurt could only hold the boy and keep his eyes shut as he kept his own tears back; he wanted to be strong for the boy.
"Shh." Kurt's soothing voice helps Puck relax, but tears are still flowing. "Just let it out, Noah. I won't judge you here. Just let it all out."
Puck turns his head to hide his face in Kurt's chest, not letting Kurt see his face. "I-I . . . I-"
"It's okay, Noah." Kurt runs one hand up and down Puck's back while the other runs smoothly across his head.
Kurt presses a soft kiss to the shaved head before he lays his cheek on top, holding the shaking boy. He starts humming softly with the hopes that it will do the both of them some help. He lets out a shaky breath before opening his mouth for the quiet lyrics to flow.
Just yesterday morning they let me know you were gone
Puck tenses slightly at Kurt's voice but only for a second before he settles to listen to Kurt's lower register.
Susanne the plans they made put an end to you
Kurt stills his movements on Puck, just letting his words doing the comfort now.
I walked out this morning and I wrote down this song
Puck shifts so his cheek rests against Kurt's chest. Kurt waits a second before he returns his cheek to Puck's head.
I just can't remember who to send it to
Puck slowly brings a hand out from under Kurt's back, letting Kurt breathe now that he's not being squeezed to death, and reaches up to hold onto Kurt's shoulder. If they were standing, it'd look they were dancing, but only if Kurt was somehow taller than the boy.
I've seen fire and I've seen rain
Puck shuts his eyes and lets out a shuddery breath; his crying finally stops as he listens closely to Kurt's steady heartbeat that's only an inch away.
I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end
Kurt shuts his eyes and let's himself get lost in the lyrics that his father had once taught him, each word ringing with an importance.
I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
Kurt goes to continue singing, but he's caught when Puck takes lead on the lyrics.
But I always thought that I'd see you again
Puck stops at that point, realizing that Kurt himself had stopped. Puck moves his shaky hand down from Kurt's shoulder until he's able to grip on Kurt's arm, seeming to need something to hold on as he feels himself falling. He starts shaking as he starts breathing heavier.
"I can't . . . I can't believe . . . she's dead . . . my baby girl . . . my Beth . . ." Puck's crying starts turning into weak sobs as his breath starts leaving him along with his energy. "I . . .I . . ."
"Shh." Kurt wraps his arms tightly around the boy again. "Just rest, Noah."
Although Burt has been used to seeing Kurt and Puck sharing hugs and cuddling to what seemed to be almost too intimate for two people that just came together as friends, it still didn't stop him from stopping and taking a second to stare. Every time he saw one of those hugs, a part of him died inside because he wishes it was him that Kurt would hold onto for comfort. He wishes he had the courage to tell Kurt that he wants to hug him, as Kurt had barely let him do since he's been awake at the hospital. He just wants to have his son back, the one who would hug him every day before school, or who would talk his ears off at all hours while he pretended to ignore him to watch the game on TV, although they both knew that Burt was really listening. Now all he gets are one syllable monotone answers. He sighs before he continues his way down the stares, the papers in his hand weighing down heavily on his mind as he's unsure of how things will go.
Kurt breathes into Puck's neck, enjoying the quiet nature that they had been introduced to in the past hour. He had thought that Puck fell asleep after his crying cake to a steady silence, but that was before Puck had rolled off of Kurt and onto his side so he could spoon Kurt. Over the hour, it had become Puck holding Kurt close to his chest, his chin on Kurt's head. Kurt had felt guilty at first because he thought that Puck wanted to treat him like a child, his child, but then he realized that Puck was letting Kurt have his turn. This type of switch was becoming instinct to the both of them; the both of them needing to take care of someone while in turn being taken cared of.
Kurt eyebrows go up slightly, not having heard the door open, and he shifts away from Puck's body slightly so he can see his father. "Dad?" He tenses up slightly, but Puck's hand on the small of his back keeps him from jumping up and freaking out while Puck turns to lay on his back so he can see the older man as well. "Did you want something?"
"Just-" Burt stops with a sigh as he moves further into the room, brandishing the papers with an annoyed stance. "This came in the mail for me- well for you and me, and I've read some of it, so I know that this will be a tough conversation. Noah?" Burt addresses the other boy as well before Kurt can ask his dad what he's talking about. "You're mother called me and it seems that she received the same thing. She'll talk to you about it later, but I guess that you can hear what it's about now if you like."
Puck quickly nods as he uses his free arm to prop himself up, relieved that this seemed to apply to the both of them. "I'd rather know sooner than later."
Burt's grimace seems to make the unspoken message weigh heavier on the boys minds. As Burt takes his seat, the duo sit up, first Puck and then Kurt, before Puck replaces his arm around Kurt's waist and pulls the boy close to his chest from where they sit propped up against the wall. Burt glances at the two before looking back to the papers in his hands, unsure of what the outcome of this conversation will be.
"Dad." Kurt's soft voice rings everyone to attention. "What's this about? Is it anything that we need to worry about?"
"It's . . . it's a delicate matter to say the least." Burt starts slowly before he sets the group of papers down on the bed, giving them a slight push towards the boys. "It's from the school board. As you guys know, it's been a while since everything's happened. Life . . . life has to move on and that's what they want to do." He sighs before looking over to the boys. "They're setting up a meeting at the community center for this weekend . . . to discuss re-opening the school. According to that-" He gestures to the stack of papers that Kurt is now hesitantly picking up. "The school has been repaired for a while, cleaned up I guess you could say. The meeting will be only students and their families. No press so it'll be easier for everyone to talk without being watched the entire time. But they want to take in everyone's opinions, the students and parents, on how to go about this. I think that no matter what the school will be reopened, but the when and how many will return will be the bigger questions. In the packet there's a bunch of information about how the school will be different like they'll have more counselors and things like that."
"This . . ." Kurt shakes his head. "I honestly don't know what to think about this. I . . . U understand that things have to move on, but-" He looks up to his dad with a frown. "It's scary."
"I know, bud." Burt does his best to give the boy an encouraging smile. "But I think this might be good. You guys might be able to . . . life . . ."
It had become one of those moments for Kurt, kind of like the end of a TV episode where the dialogue fades out and music takes over. His own thoughts just take over as he looks down at the papers that more or less say that he'll have to return to school sooner than he had thought. Whether it is McKinley or one in a few towns over. Could he go back into the place where he had seen so many die? All of his friends in their puddles of blood, could he see that? Could he get through without becoming a sobbing mess? Would he still see them?
He withdraws on himself as he can only think of the negative outcomes of returning to that school. He wouldn't have Puck anymore; the boy would return to his jock friends that had survived. Kurt would literally have no one. He wasn't even sure which teachers had survived. What would he have to return to but a lonely school life that would sink him further and further into a depression that would either end his life or let him live a dysfunctional adult life? Could he survive? Surviving physical pain is much easier to survive emotional pain now that he's experienced a major event from each side of that.
"Dad." Kurt has no idea what he cut his dad off from saying, but he doesn't care. "Can I talk to Noah about this? No offense to you, but . . ."
"I understand." Burt smiles weakly before he stands up, but hesitates to move. "But really think about this. I'll follow you with whatever decision that you want, but be really sure. This is . . . probably one of the biggest decisions that you'll have in awhile and I want to know that you've made the best one for you."
Kurt doesn't get a chance to respond before Burt is crossing the room and making his way up the staircase, his silence ringing volumes on this decision. Kurt sets the papers back down on the bed in front of him and Puck, finally seeing that his hands are shaking like crazy. It only takes a second for Puck to take his hands and cup them in his larger ones. He holds them to his chest and waits for Kurt to look at him, both of their eyes full of worry and concern for what's to come. Puck lets go of Kurt's hands and spreads his arm out, welcoming Kurt. Kurt lets out a happy sigh before letting himself fall into Puck's awaiting arms, removing his hands from Puck's grip so he can wrap his arms around Puck's body, trapped on the other side by his bed, and laying his head on the strong chest.
"So." Puck is quick to ask, knowing that Kurt wants this issue done and over with as soon as possible just like he does. "What . . . what do you think?"
"I . . . I think that this is a good idea." Kurt starts off slowly. "Life needs to move on, right?"
"You sure?" Puck asks hesitantly. "You don't need to . . . think on it?"
Kurt sighs. "Going back to school is a way for me, for us, to move on with our lives. I don't want to be stuck in this endless route of being depressed or happy with you and me. I want us to be able to move on and know that life can change at any moment. I want us to be able to accomplish anything."
Puck slowly smiles. "That sounds . . . alright." Puck's full on grinning now. "I'm in. Let's go back to school. It beats not having nothing to do all day besides being stuck in the house."
Kurt's smile starts to falter. "So is that all you need? You don't need to think on it?" Kurt repeats Puck's previous question.
Puck nods. "That's all I've thought on since everything happened. I've been thinking 'how do I move my life forward?'. This is the answer right? Going back to school, graduating, and then joining the world. I want to get over this." Puck sighs. "I want to be able to forget about this whole thing. I don't want to remember what I saw, or who I saw."
Kurt bites his lip as he looks to the boy, choosing his next words carefully so he doesn't offend that boy. As Puck had mentioned, they both have had a long time to think on this, which he has. But now as he thinks of actually returning to the school, his nerves are shot, but it's just the McKinley school. He doesn't want to have to see the lockers repainted, or to see the floors polished and shined for the first time in a decade. He doesn't want to see the water fountain where he remembers hiding, knowing that he might drink from the same spot where he had let so much blood drain.
"What is it?" Puck asks when Kurt sits back and turns his body to face Puck, his body posture much more tense than Puck had seen it since their first night together. "I thought we were happy with this."
"It's . . . the 'we' part." Kurt starts slowly as he glances down. "Now I don't want you to take this wrong because I absolutely adore you, Noah, and I don't want this to be misinterpreted, but I think that I should go to a new school." Kurt hesitates for a second before he glances up at the unmoving boy. "What do you thi-"
Kurt is cut off when the boy roars with laughter, either not believing in Kurt's words or choosing to find them so unfathomable after everything and that Kurt might be delusional. Most likely the latter because he knows that Puck would rather Kurt me insane or unstable over wanting the former option to happen. Kurt just keeps his jaw locked and his eyes glued to Puck as he waits for the boy to glance at Kurt, the laughter dying out quickly as he takes in Kurt.
"Hold on a second." Puck holds his hand up and takes the time to clear his throat. "Are you actually serious about this? Tell me you're not. You can't be serious about such a stupid idea."
"It's not like I haven't thought about it, Noah." Kurt snaps before he sighs. "Just hear me out." He waits for the reluctant headline from Puck before the boy folds in on himself and Kurt is left to explain. "This-us-isn't the healthiest thing. If it wasn't for the shooting, then we wouldn't even be friends . . . probably ever. Now as much as I love what we have, I'm just not used to it so I'm trying to be cautious, in a sense, about it. I want to be sure that we're not co-dependant on each other so much to where it's unhealthy. So . . . I think that if I went to another school, we'd be able to see where we stand on our friendship. Now we'll still hang out." He's quick to reassure the boy. "But I don't want . . . I don't want . . ." Kurt stops as he tries to think of the right words.
"You don't want this to be fake." Puck finishes Kurt's sentence, not happy to do so. "And I get that. I really do. Everything you said is true, but . . . I'm here because I like you Kurt. I like hanging out with you. This entire time I could have been wallowing in a hellhole feeling sorry for myself, but you make that better. You make me laugh, and smile, and feel cared for. None of my other friends have ever done that for me. We like the same music, the same movies, even the same video games." Puck chuckles. "I'm like you for you, not because I want a pillow that will listen to me cry."
Kurt lets out a shaky sigh. "So you're not angry?"
"No." Puck shakes his head as a small smile forms on his face. "A bit upset that you think our friendship is fake, but I do understand your reasons. I just want you to know that we are friends because of who we are, not because of the shooting. That does not define who we are or who we are to each other. Okay?"
Kurt watches as Puck reaches over for his hand, finally smiling after the disaster that he thought would happen. "Thank you. I'm just never sure with these things, or understanding situations.
Puck opens his arms again with a smile. "Come here. We're going to lie down and put a movie on. Sleep, or don't sleep, but I'm setting my phone for five and then we'll go up and talk to your dad. And I might need to go home for the night."
"You don't have to." Kurt quickly states as he settles himself down next to Puck, propping his body up on his elbow. "You can just ignore everything I said."
Puck chuckles. "Well besides from your obvious co-dependent issues with me leaving-" Puck teases. "My ma probably got the same stuff in the mail and is waiting to talk to me about it. So don't worry about that. We're both-" He stresses as he looks at Kurt. "Going back to McKinley. Okay?"
Kurt eagerly nods. "Yeah. It'll be nice to get back to something a little normal."
Puck smirks before he lets his head fall to the pillow, a deep breath leaving him. "I'm just happy that I can actually move on. Hopefully we won't be reminded to many times of everything. I just want to pretend that everything was a bad dream. Even today."
Kurt brings a hand up to rest on Puck's chest, right over his heart. "How are you dealing with that? I mean, it was only a few hours ago that we . . . were saying goodbye to Quinn."
"And Beth." Puck mutters before he shrugs. "I've had a month now to know about it. I've . . . I-I've said my goodbyes and made peace with it. It'll still be sad, but I'll try not to dwell on that."
"But if you do," Kurt continues on. "I'll be here for you."
Puck smiles before turning his head so he can kiss Kurt's forehead. "Thank you."
The meeting was the most awkward thing that Kurt has ever experienced, and he spent a good while trying to think of a more awkward time. Almost all of their fellow students were there, at least the ones that survived, along with the surviving staff. Up in the front of the room were the school board, the ones that Kurt didn't hold on a high level of respect due to their past habits of doing nothing, and Principal Figgins.
Kurt was surprised to find that he had missed the man; while he was oblivious he did help in the best way that he saw fit. The man however was no longer the same man that they knew, but was completely changed into a more subdued and quiet manner that had Kurt shaking. The man had simply expressed a slight happiness that Kurt and Puck were alive before he made his way back to the front table.
Kurt dozed off during the first set of speeches, mainly recapping what the news had done as well by repeating everything that happened, the losses, the victims, and the culprits. He found himself looking around the room. A person that he never thought would sit together, such as a bullying jock, was now whispering an apology to a frail looking freshmen for the harm that they had caused. Those apologies had been going on since before they arrived, but Kurt still found himself alone with receiving one. Maybe it was because he had Puck, Puck's mother, and his dad at his side, but he wasn't approached with an apology. He had received a few sympathizing glances, but that was all. He understood though because it's hard to admit when you're wrong, especially in a situation like this.
Seeing his former teachers did little for him accept fuel a stirring anger at the teachers who let this happen because they never believed in the students that went to them for help with all of the bullying. The students he wasn't quite as angry at, but it was still there because many of them had watched him be pushed and shoved yet they had done nothing to help or defend him. He at least helped others back to their feet and made a report for them. By the looks of it, most had made it out of the school without more than a scratch. He had wanted to approach the other two that were in the hospital with him due to more severe injuries, but he held himself back when he saw them surrounded by their large families. It seemed a bit too rude to intrude, especially at a time like this.
Kurt finally started tuning in when Puck nudged him gently with his elbow, nodding up at the front where the president of the board, a Ryan Brennan, had stood up. "We know that this is a very hard and troubling time for everyone here, but you wouldn't be here if you didn't have an interest in letting your children return to the school. Out in the main hall we have set up several tables for you to fill out some forms if you'd like your child to return. Unfortunately due to the law, you either have to enroll them back with us or transfer them to another school within the next week as a month is all we're allowed to give in these dire circumstances. Hopefully with the cooperation of our parents and students, we'll be able to meet the requirement of the number of students needed to keep the school open instead of transferring everyone elsewhere. I hope that we rise up as a community and show everyone that we are not weak, but a strong group of people. We can overcome this if we work together. Thank you."
Kurt lets out a shaky breath as the man sits back down, letting the other representatives take over with informing them of how things will work. Kurt's happy that they're able to choose their own lockers and schedules now, as long as they get their credits of course. He's hoping that he'll be able to get a locker close to Puck and a schedule that lets them share a good amount of classes. He has a feeling that having Puck nearby would be helpful in the long-run, for both of them in fact. It would make the transfer back to a life with school so much easier.
Kurt clears his throat and looks to the boy, a small smile on his face. "I never thought that any authority figure at McKinley High would ever be able to impress me."
Puck has to hold back a snort as to not draw attention to them. "Play nice, Kurt."
So sorry for the late chapter. A new job and other obligations have gotten in the way. I'm hoping to have another one up soon to make up for the large gap between this and the prior chapter, so fingers crossed. Let me know what you think.
The brief song was Fire and Rain by James Taylor.