Title: Always Shout Fire
Pairing: Kurt/Puck, mention of Sam/Blaine
Warnings: Adult themes, some violence and bad language and set in season 2
Spoilers: Spoilers for up to Duets
Summary: Kurt decides further investigation is needed regarding the Puckerman situation. He is both surprised and shocked to find his former nemesis brought low and how it changes them from team mates, to friends and perhaps...
Previous Chapters: ( Chapter 1 ) ( Chapter 2 ) ( Chapter 3 ) ( Chapter 4 ) ( Chapter 5 ) ( Chapter 6 ) ( Chapter 7 ) ( Chapter 8 ) ( Chapter 9 ) ( Chapter 10 ) ( Chapter 11 ) ( Chapter 12 ) ( Chapter 13 ) ( Chapter 14 ) ( Chapter 15 ) ( Chapter 16 ) ( Chapter 17 ) ( Chapter 18 ) ( Chapter 19 ) ( Chapter 20 )
Author's note: It took a while to put this one together so sorry for the delay. Also for the extra length (something Puck would say?) Enjoy, and yes the winter ball scene is very near...
"You want me to get with a girl Hudson," muttered Puck. "Then how about yours."
Kurt slipped his hand from Puck's and stood, pacing the room. Every time Puck tried to speak Kurt shushed him, trying to process the information.
Puck's animosity to everyone.
Sure, on an intellectual level Kurt knew all this already. He'd known Puck had come out to Finn and whatever had happened had put in motion all these things; but to hear it from Puck made it real. Had Puck tormented him because he was different or because he was gay? For some reason it was important that it was the former.
The fact that Puck could act in such a calculated manner to enact vengeance confused him; the boy he had come to know... could he still be capable of such things?
Those thoughts must have shown on his face because Puck sighed and stood, forcing Kurt to stop pacing. "Kurt," he spread his hands. "I'm not perfect, you knew that and I can be an asshole, you knew that too."
"What? Admitting it makes it okay?" Kurt huffed. "Its not what you did to Finn, he kind of deserved it – but what about Quinn?"
Puck hung his head. "I regretted it the moment it happened, probably before. Why do you think I never told anyone, well not at first anyway?"
That made a little more sense. If Puck had wanted to hurt Finn at any cost then he would have told him about the affair immediately, instead he never did and probably wouldn't have but then Quinn fell pregnant.
"I'm sorry," Kurt said softly. "I'm not angry exactly, just confused – I'm going to get ready upstairs."
"Kurt," Puck said uselessly to the retreating figure.
"You know, just when I think you've got it right you manage to screw things up," Finn said from behind him.
"How much did you hear?" sighed Puck, turning to face his friend.
Finn shrugged, wiping away the last of some water from his torso. "Enough to know I should be angry, but in some strange way I'm relieved you cheated on my girlfriend for revenge, instead of a whim."
"You're just weird Hudson."
Smiling as he towelled his hair Finn ignored the remark. "Kurt will be okay, he's big on the trust and being honourable and all that – but he's also very forgiving."
"Yeah, hope so." Puck moved to take a shower himself. "Hey Finn, you know I'm not that guy anymore right?"
Finn gave him a hard look then shrugged again. "Neither am I dude."
In the bathroom Puck quickly showered and leaned on the basin, deciding a shave was in order. Luckily he knew Finn kept spare blades and slipped one into the razor. He lathered up and inspected his face before swiping down one side. In was in these moments that Puck could properly think about things. It was like while his hands concentrated on one task his mind could mull over another and naturally it was all about Kurt. Telling him the story was risky but had he kept it from him it would have ruined them in the long run, and Puck knew that he was in this for however long Kurt could stand him. His hand shook a bit as he did his chin and he swore softly. Everyone might think he was back to normal but it was the little things that sometimes let him down. His treatments were now once a fortnight but they still exhausted him and then the constant check-ups and scans; still with no definitive result.
The doctors smiled a lot and said it looked good and 'there was every chance' but as for being given the all clear – none were willing to take that step. Had he told Kurt?
No, Puck was still a coward when it came to that.
He tried to finish shaving but his hand shook again and nicked his throat, eliciting another swear word.
He heard the door close behind him, though he had not heard it open and knew it was Kurt.
"Here," said his boyfriend softly and took the razor from his hand, Puck giving it up wordlessly and just staring at Kurt, not sure if he understand how much he felt for him in this one moment. Making short work of the remaining stubble Kurt washed off his face and smoothed his fingers across the delicate skin before leaning to press a kiss against his lips. Smiling into the kiss Puck wrapped an arm around Kurt's waist to bring him closer, clad only in a towel Puck was unsure how far this might go.
"We don't have time," whispered Kurt throatily.
Puck recognised lust when he heard it and knew it matched his own.
"We do tonight," he whispered back and lifted Kurt onto the basin, making him yelp and cling to Puck even harder.
At a guess Puck figured he was forgiven.
"This is the stupidest thing I've ever done," muttered Sam in the limo.
Puck coughed "Bieber" under his breath to the giggles of the vehicle's other occupants.
Sam glared but didn't pursue it, instead fingering his bow-tie. "I mean sure, we've talked on the phone and been IMing each other but I've really only met him once and I was kind of concussed."
"So this is just the first date, no biggie," Finn said.
Putting his head in his hands Sam groaned loudly. "Exactly! A first date at a ball, how can we make small talk in that scenario?"
Finn scratched his head. "That's why you're worried? I thought its because everyone will be looking at you since… you know, two guys?"
Four sets of eyes stared him down, including Quinn's.
"Honey," she said softly. "We're gonna work on that foot and mouth thing okay?"
"Anyway," said Puck. "All eyes will be on the hottest couple." He puffed himself up and flexed an arm to the eye-rolls of everyone.
"I don't know," said Kurt slowly, turning his head to the side. "The blonde brunette mix will be hard to beat."
"Thank you," said Finn, nodding and putting an arm around Quinn.
"So not talking about you," smiled Kurt.
There was nothing said as everyone chuckled at Finn's expression of mock hurt until Sam sighed again.
"Do you think Blaine has abs… I bet he does – he looks like he has abs."
"Oh my god," Quinn laughed. "I was going out with a twelve year old girl and never knew it."
Sam stared at her without really looking, or listening. Would Blaine sing to him tonight, as a fellow Glee clubber it was something he would probably do? In that case he would have to have a song ready to respond. Maybe even he could initiate the serenade. Rubbing his still tender jaw Sam went through a mental list of possibilities and completely ignored whatever conversations were going on around him. Luckily Kurt had put something on his face to cover the still visible bruises but the pain remained and the stitches could not be hidden. That combined with his never having been out with a guy before did almost overload his already overburdened insecurities. Thank goodness he was surrounded by such a good support group.
"And I think we've lost him," said Kurt, clicking his fingers in front of Sam's unresponsive eyes. "Not that he was allocated any duties, for what is now an obvious reason."
He pulled out his phone to go through the list.
"Food and nibbles for the after party."
"Check," Finn said proudly, as if that had been the hardest duty.
"Exclusive invites sent and RSVPs received for the after-party?"
"Check, although Santana's post-it with just a lip print may or not be a yes for attendance." Quinn's eyes narrowed for a second mentioning Santana's name but Kurt noticed she shook it off after a touch from Finn; not as stupid as he often seemed.
"Alcohol?" Kurt asked flatly, looking at his boyfriend. Puck simply gave a toothy grin.
"A volunteer to distract Rachel so she doesn't start singing… oh that's me." Kurt smirked and put the phone away. "Then the only thing is to have an exit strategy – I do assume we want to stay long enough to enjoy the dancing but not long enough to see teachers dancing with each other?" What he really meant was the longer they remained the more chance of a confrontation between them and either the hockey team goons or some intoxicated jerk intent on having a fight.
"How 'bout when Mr Shue drunk texts his ex-wife?" asked Puck.
"Or sings a sappy 'I want you' love song to a certain guidance counsellor?" suggested Quinn.
Kurt rolled his eyes. "That man has to get his house in order, perhaps we should give Miss Holliday a call; I detected a certain spark between them last time."
"Schue can't handle a woman like that," said Puck, earning him a sharp glance from Kurt. "Oh, we're here," he continued instead of explaining his comment.
The group piled out of the limo and the driver sped off without a word; Kurt figured that's what you get for a discount price – also it was one way, no pick up later. He lingered, allowing the others to go ahead and thankfully Puck was observant enough to stay with him.
Will Shuester was not a stupid man. He knew that sometimes the best thing a teacher could do is let students make their own mistakes. How many times had he seen what was going down in the Glee club and done nothing? Too often? Not enough?
He could admit he was far from perfect but was confident he'd done the best possible.
That is until Puck, of all people, had called him on it. Then again should he be surprised that Puck was the only one brave enough to call him a hypocrite – scratch that, only current student.
Kurt would not have hesitated either. Any shock that they had got together should have been alleviated by that common fact.
Since Puck had made it clear Will was just as guilty as other teachers for ignoring the bullying he had tried his best to change that. Now he never walked past anything even remotely suspicious. He had sponsored the start of several clubs designed to help students suffering from anything from bullying to harassment to just being isolated. He had even gone to the last two school board meetings to champion the site Puck and the others had created (never admitting of course that he knew who was involved). That support had earned him a warning and some off-the-record threats from half the board. It was hard to understand what they feared the most – McKinley being in the national spotlight for all the wrong reasons or actually having to admit there was a problem. Their interest still seemed to be shutting down the students who wanted to stop the bullying instead of dealing with problem of bullying.
It was simply cheaper and easier to ignore a problem.
Or in this case muddy the waters.
"William," Figgins explained as he adjusted his suit jacket in his small office mirror. "I know your concerns but these students have a right to protest, just as your students have."
"This is not a protest," said Will in exasperation. He held up the shirt he had confiscated; on it were two male figures like on bathroom doors, except they were holding hands and across this image were a circle and diagonal cross. "This is persecution."
"They are just expressing their views according to their faith," Figgins spread his hands. "There is nothing I can do, the board majority voted that this kind of non-violent protest was acceptable."
"Saying no to gay people being in school cannot be acceptable," countered Will.
"As I understand it they are just asking not to be exposed to something that offends them, we do not discriminate at this school but displays of affection or inappropriate behaviour that offends others is something I must take very seriously."
"You're kidding right," Will laughed without humour. "Just yesterday a footballer was caught naked with a Cheerio in the study hall – you did nothing about it."
Figgins went to answer when the office door slammed open and an enraged Sue walked in; Will took a step back thinking she was here to attack him but instead she raised a shaking finger to the principle.
"You are in big trouble mister!"
"Sue! I am in a private meeting."
"Oh keep your flight stockings on," she retaliated. "There hasn't been a private meeting in here since I had maintenance re-divert the air-ducts so I can hear every word – by the way, if you ever sing Madonna's Like a Virgin again I will call amnesty international and report you for crimes against humanity."
Serious as this was Will couldn't hide a smirk.
"Now for the equally heinous but probably lesser crime I believe you are allowing religious views to once again permeate our secular halls?"
"No no no," Figgins tried to say soothingly. "No-one is promoting religion; there is simply a board directive to allow non-violent protest by students who believe they are being marginalised due to their faith."
"Marginalised?" Sue snorted. "Try being this white and marching for women's rights in the Sudan. May I remind you Figgins that we, as educators, have the sacred duty to ensure our students are not misused or taken advantage of while under our care."
"Exactly Sue, and this Rainbow website is making some of our students the targets of the leftist liberal agenda."
"Oh please, the only people suffering are the ones refusing to accept responsibility for their own actions – they hurt others and now cannot stand being held to account."
Will was impressed; Sue was using words direct from Puck's website.
"These shirts," continued Sue, pointing at the offending garment. "Were not made by students and I guarantee they didn't come up with the idea to wear them to this school or tonight's ball – it is those students who are being used as pawns and so are you."
Figgins probably should have lost his temper but instead Will noticed the man visibly deflate. "There is nothing I can do; the board has made the decision."
Sue shook her head and her anger also disappeared as she took a seat and crossed her hands patiently. "There is a lot you can do, and so can we. I may be guilty of pushing these kids around and yes, possibly I have used them for my own agenda by pitting them against each other, but if there is something Sue Silvester is capable of it is admitting her mistakes and learning from them. I might despise being in the same room as the two of you but now and then I am reminded that we do have one inherently good thing in common – we're obviously not here just for the money, which leaves either a penchant for self harm in Williams case, or the possibility that we are actually here for the kids." She gave that half smile which Will had yet to decipher meant she was joking or was enjoying tormenting him. "And as someone said 'If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children'."
Shaking his head Figgins gave a smile of his own. "Using Mohandas against me Sue, you are being very devious."
"Not against you, just bringing it into perspective – I never thought I'd be the one to say it but why the hell don't we institute a zero tolerance on bullying or any kind of intolerant behaviour?"
"Because for every student that is suspended there are parents going straight to the board, and then to court if their suspension is upheld – we can't afford the legal battle."
"Maybe I can help with that," said Sue smugly. "I have some contacts in a few law firms, I'm sure they have some juniors needing to do some pro-bono work."
"We would still have the board to deal with," added Will. "They'll fire us all before holding up suspensions that will mean forfeiting most of our sports games – especially since some of the kids are their own."
"Not if the kids themselves agree to the suspensions," said Sue, inspecting her fingernails.
"How are we going to do that?" asked Figgins in disbelief.
"Well," said Sue, her eyes twinkling in what usually implied an impending strike. "What use are the Cheerios and Glee club if they can't inspire some good old fashioned school spirit?"
Will winced inside; he just knew it would come down to him and his kids.
Figgins, wrapping a silk scarf around his neck smiled again. "What about it William, if you get the kids to agree to the punishments I will see what I can do about convincing the board to trial zero-tolerance."
He sighed, but then knew if he didn't at least try he was not just letting himself down. "Fine."
"Excellent, now – don't we have a dance to supervise."
There may have been only a dozen steps to the entry but Kurt continued to hold Puck back, his boyfriend giving him a puzzled look.
"Last chance Noah," Kurt said in explanation.
"For what," replied Puck with a leer as he pulled Kurt close. "To ravish you in privacy?"
"Hardly private," muttered Kurt, glancing at a couple that seemingly ignored them as they walked past. "And no, I mean you can back out now – your reputation will remain intact."
Puck remained quiet for several seconds, his expression hardening and Kurt wondered if maybe he was considering the offer.
"You embarrassed to be seen with me Hummel?" Puck asked instead.
"Of course not," scoffed Kurt. "We can to all the dances you like at my school, and wherever else we can be us – without the Neanderthals at this school knowing."
Puck suddenly pushed him back and turned away. "Not too long ago I was one of those thugs Kurt – you think I would be afraid of those losers?"
"I think," Kurt whispered, putting a hand on his shoulder. "That you've done enough for now – the website, the whole movement, and all the time you spend with me... you don't have anything to prove, not if you don't need to and I don't want you getting sick again from the stress."
He could see Puck tilt his head to the sky and sigh loudly, saying just loudly enough for Kurt to hear, "Survival is not enough."
Those words again made the blood in Kurt's veins run cold. Puck had said them before but he thought it a fluke, to hear them again from his mouth when he knew they came from someone long dead meant something else entirely. "What did you say?" said Kurt flatly, even though he knew.
Puck turned to him, his eyes sad yet defiant in the low light. "I think you know."
Kurt gulped and felt tears spring to his eyes. "You can't... she's dead Puck, she died when I was a kid."
"Yes," said Puck softly, grabbing Kurt's hand with his own and bringing them both to Kurt's chest. "But she's still here with you – you know that." He used his other hand to lift Kurt's chin to make him keep eye contact. "And I died too Kurt, not for long but enough to meet this beautiful and smart woman who helped me see things I knew but refused to face."
"That's impossible," Kurt almost cried. "There is no heaven Puck."
"Maybe not, I didn't meet any angels or speak with God, but I saw what I needed and I met your mother."
"Yes," Puck hissed. "And you know its true, you know because you feel her around you all the time. She's there every time you cry, in your laughter and when you're in pain." His face softened and he kissed Kurt lightly on the lips. "You're the strongest person I know Kurt, but no-one could put up with what's been thrown at you and be okay, not without help. You know she's been there for you if you want to admit it or not. You accused me often enough of refusing to show what I know to be true, of saying one thing but meaning another – but it doesn't have to make sense to be true. Your Mom loves you Kurt, more than anything, more than her need to move on." Puck tapped the scar on his head. "You told me once about calling fire because its tangible... real, that even though you say it when other shit is going down people will listen and that's what's important. Kurt, it doesn't matter how your Mom died, or if she didn't fight hard enough – she never left you, she's been shouting fire all these years so you would know she is there... you have to admit that, and then let her go."
"What?" asked Kurt.
"I'm sorry," Puck let his concern show. "It took me a while to see it but she didn't meet me just so I could save your life – it was to let you live it."
"The dumpster?" Kurt frowned. They'd mentioned some dream or vision of Puck's but so much was going on he had forgotten.
"Yeah, she showed me a possibility and then the fact I could change it. Maybe I could have done it differently so Sam didn't have to get hurt but that's just it – we can't hope to make everything perfect, we just have to do what we can to live... and not just survive."
"And to do that I have to let her go?"
"You have to forgive her Kurt. There is no doubt your Mom loved you but fighting something she couldn't beat, just to exist – it was never going to be enough. I think she gave up because she loved you so much, not because she didn't."
"I... I've always known she was with me," Kurt finally admitted, the tears flowing down his cheeks. "Even at her funeral I could feel her hand grab mine, her whisper in my ear and her perfume on the wind – but I could never say anything, they'd say I was mad." He smiled and wiped away the tears. "Whenever I'm at my lowest she's there, a presence to comfort me." He looked hard at Puck. "I think I forgave her a long time ago but I've never said the words, and I will," he said quickly. "But not yet, just for tonight I still need her."
Puck grinned and pulled him close. "She'll be here tonight Kurt, to watch you dance with your first boyfriend... to show everyone that you have a right to be happy – and to see that someone can love you without having to hide it."
Kurt's eyes widened at the admission and he knew a goofy grin had spread across his own face. "Love?"
"Yeah," Puck tilted his head. "I love you Kurt Hummel, and you're going to walk in there on my arm and everyone is going to know it."
Kurt felt his stomach do that whole flip-flop thing he'd only read about in silly romance stories and his heart beat too fast against his ribcage.
Noah Puckerman was in love with him!
How the heck could he respond? He didn't even have a song prepared and simple words were inadequate.
"Come on," Puck tugged him towards the doors, taking any chance to talk away. In a daze Kurt grabbed his boyfriend's arm and together they walked through the entry, the bright lights of the dance enveloping them.
Yes, next chapter... the Winter Ball at last!