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Day 25: Burning Low

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“Thanks, man,” Puck whispers gratefully to Sam, who nods and clasps Puck’s shoulder, silently opening the back door of the Hudson-Hummel house. Puck already spends a couple of nights a week there that the rest of the house knows about, but he usually spends one or two more that only Sam knows about, now that Sam’s back in town.

Sam’s the only person who understands, and one of only two people who know. Puck had thought about telling Quinn, and telling her about Shelby had been a test, to see if she could keep a secret of his. She couldn’t, so Puck didn’t tell her, but he’d been grateful for the night he’d been able to sleep at her house, whether she knew or not.

Puck knew his ma was overwhelmed in general and fed up with him, but he still hadn’t expected to be told a month after his birthday that he needed to pack up and move out. She’d given him three days, which he’d used to trash or sell about half of his stuff before stashing the rest of it in his truck. He’d used the proceeds from selling stuff to get a lockable toolbox used off Craigslist, so he could hide his stuff and hopefully not have it stolen, and then he’d set out to conceal his newly-homeless status from everyone he knew, too embarrassed to tell anyone or ask for help.

The first two weeks are surprisingly easy. He showers in the locker room and makes enough money from pool cleaning to get cheap fast food and enough gas. He moves his truck every couple of hours during the night and sleeps in it. It starts getting cold, though, and Puck is afraid he's going to have to spend a significant amount of money on some blankets.

Two mornings later, Puck wakes up in the parking lot at McKinley to the concerned face of Mike Chang peering in the window, and when Puck opens the door, Mike hands him a cup of coffee from the Lima Bean, explaining that he’d noticed Puck’s truck the past few mornings, and observed enough to guess at the situation.

Mike’s dad still isn’t speaking to Mike or his mom, so Mike doesn’t ask if Puck can move in, but he does let Puck store some of his stuff in his room, and Puck eats dinner with Mike three or four nights a week, sleeps there once or twice a week, and gets a hot breakfast from Mike in the parking lot every weekday. That would have been the only person to know if Sam hadn’t come back, but Sam understands. It’s not exactly the same, since Sam was never kicked out, but Sam understands the loss of a place to call home.

Puck looks at Sectionals as a decent marker of time for the school year. Two months after his mom kicked him out, no one’s guessed, and Puck’s not starving or freezing to death. He’s even managed to keep his grades more or less at the same level as they were before, which still isn’t very high. He thinks about telling Finn—and Sam keeps bugging him to tell Finn—but Finn seems so upbeat and happy lately, happy at home and happy with Rachel, and Puck doesn’t want to once again be the downer in Finn’s life, even if it’s more indirectly. Plus, Puck knows there’s a good chance Finn will tell his mom, and Puck’s not sure he’s ready for Carole, and then Burt, to know everything.

When Puck hears about Coach Sylvester and the homeless shelter, Puck wants to find a way out of it without looking like a complete d-bag. He’s headed in a few times for a hot meal as it’s gotten colder and, once, just that week, a warm bed for the night. Sunday nights are the hardest to find a place to crash, and after Puck stopped spending nights in his truck, he found he’d rather suck up his pride than shiver in the cramped space all night long. People at school have started to make fun of his growing-out mohawk, but he hates to spend the money on a haircut. Maintaining the sides is easy, because he already owned the clippers before his mom kicked him out, but he doesn’t trust himself with the middle.

Puck isn’t really feeling the holiday spirit, which he can least partially put off on being Jewish. He’s not feeling the Hanukkah spirit, either; he’s not exactly observant, but the lack of any menorah or latkes is, he’s pretty sure, going to suck. It’s probably because of his own mood that he notices the people who aren’t as enthused about the holidays or the special: Sam, Rory, and, weirdly, Finn all seem a little down. It isn’t hard to figure out why Sam and Rory are upset, but Puck decides to investigate Finn’s.

It doesn’t end up being that hard to figure out. He remembers the conversation in the locker room—and how no one even jokes about ‘maybe a boyfriend’ when he says he doesn’t have a girlfriend, and maybe that’s good or maybe it’s not—and a few more questions are enough to find out Rachel’s being a gold-digger and Finn was apparently muttering about dating Kim Kardashian.

Puck sleeps on it, that night at the Hudson-Hummel house in Sam’s floor, the rest of the house’s occupants unaware of his presence. Sam lets him out fifteen minutes before Carole’s alarm, and Puck walks to where he left his truck overnight, three blocks away, and drives to school. He meets up with Mike and gets breakfast, goes into the locker room and takes a warm shower, and literally bumps into Rachel as he turns a corner towards his locker.

“Oh, Puck!” Rachel says, straightening her sweater. “I was looking for you, actually.”

“Needed a reminder that you were Jewish?” Puck asks with a snort.

“Not me,” Rachel says. “Everybody else. With Hanukkah songs being in short supply, I thought you and I could perform a song from Yentl, one of my favorite musicals starring Barbra Str—”

“Uh, no,” Puck says, shaking his head. “And since when did you even remember you weren’t Christian?” he continues. “I heard about your Kim Kardashian routine with Finn.”

Rachel sniffs and crosses her arms. “Noah! I really don’t think that it’s any of your business what Finn and I—”

“I’m just hearing rumors,” Puck says with a little shrug. “Something about four or five specific things you told him he had to get. If you’re gonna be mercenary, at least go for eight and pretend it’s about Hanukkah.”

“Noah!” Rachel says again, stomping her foot.

“Rachel!” Puck mimics her, raising an eyebrow.

“If you don’t want to sing with me, just say so!”

Puck shakes his head at her. “Adam Sandler’s Hanukkah song?” he offers.

“Will you please be serious?” Rachel asks.

“Uh, I am,” Puck says. “I was serious about no Yentl, I was serious about the Kardashian thing, and I like Adam Sandler. He’s funny.”

“There’s nothing funny about Hanukkah, Noah.”

“And yet, you’re the one requesting expensive presents,” Puck says under his breath, but loud enough for Rachel to hear. “Guess we’ll just skip acknowledging Hanukkah in New Directions again, then,” he adds, a little louder, then heads down the hall, leaving Rachel standing there behind him.

He’s still a little annoyed when he sits down in his first period class, even though he can’t put a finger on exactly why, and he jots down a list of traditional Hanukkah gifts almost without thinking about it, then folds it up and sticks it in his pocket. He doesn’t see Finn before or during second period, but on Puck’s way to third period, he exchanges fist bumps with Finn and then pulls out the list.

“Here,” he says somewhat wryly. “This might be more helpful.”

“Why did you give me this list?” Finn says.

“‘Cause your girlfriend forgot she was Jewish, except for Streisand,” Puck tries to explain. He’s not sure why Rachel’s offending him so much, but she is.

“Is that why I’m supposed to feel bad?” Finn asks, pointing at the list.

“Huh?” Puck leans forward, wondering if he wrote something else on there and didn’t realize it. “Oh, gelt, no, that’s like… chocolate coins, usually.”

“And if I buy her all this stuff, she’ll be happy?” Finn asks. “‘Cause I’m not sure she’s really gonna be happy if I buy her all this stuff.”

“Yeah, probably not,” Puck admits, falling into step with Finn. “I just started hearing some shit, rumors and all, and I figured someone was supposed to remember Hanukkah. I’m not observant or anything, but I don’t pretend.”

“Yeah, maybe I’ll try some of this stuff. Everybody likes chocolate, right?”

“I do,” Puck says almost wistfully. It’s been at least a month since Puck had any chocolate, though; he keeps hoarding his money, Mike’s parents don’t buy chocolate at all, and Puck feels guilty taking any from Sam. “Can’t go wrong with chocolate for Hanukkah.”

“Okay. I’ll remember that,” Finn says.

Puck nods at Finn, trying to make himself look at least somewhat upbeat, because for some reason Puck hadn’t put together the lack of Hanukkah celebration with the fact that no one would be buying Puck any Hanukkah presents this year. Puck figures maybe he’s getting too old for eight full nights of trinkets, but the idea of nothing is suddenly depressing.

“Yeah, good idea,” Puck finally says. “You singing anything in glee club today?”

“Not sure if I should,” Finn says. “I feel like I’m already messing up the holidays before they really even start.”

Puck frowns at Finn’s admission, because that’s some kind of wrong. “I just might sing Adam Sandler’s Hanukkah song,” Puck admits.

“Dude, that would be awesome!”

Puck grins a little. “You don’t think I’m crashing their Christmas spirit or anything?”

“If Adam Sandler crushes their spirit, their spirit was already lame,” Finn says.

“Everyone was kinda down on Sam for not being one-hundred-percent Christmas spirit,” Puck points out. It wasn’t everyone, but it definitely kept Puck even quieter.

“Jewish Christmas counts,” Finn says. “I promise.”

Puck snorts. “Yeah, well. Good luck with Jewish Christmas, dude,” he says, nodding towards the list still in Finn’s hand.

“You’re for real serious about this stuff?” Finn asks, gesturing with the list. “Like, for real these are real Hanukkah presents?”

“Yeah, that’s like, traditional shit,” Puck says. “I left off ‘toys’ ‘cause Rachel’s kinda old for toys and too young for toys.”

Finn’s cheeks turn bright red. “Yeah, I’ll just, uh. Yeah.” He jams the list into his pocket. “Thanks, though. For the list.”

“No problem,” Puck says, bumping Finn’s fist again before turning towards his third period class. His math grade is weirdly high, or high for him, so he figures he should keep going to that class, at least. He doesn’t see Rachel or Finn the rest of the day, not until he heads to glee club after school. Rachel and Blaine start off with this weird flirty duet about Christmas, which makes Puck shake his head.

Before Puck can say a word about his Hanukkah song, Coach Sylvester walks in and Puck realizes that they’re not going to be at the homeless shelter after all. Puck knows it’s a douchey move, and he can tell a few of the others think it’s douchey, too, but Puck isn’t going to say anything, because the result is what he was hoping for: they’re not performing for the homeless shelter.

Puck’s not sure what just performing was supposed to do, anyway, not for the people actually needing the hot meal and the place to sleep. Sure, Puck likes performing, and he’s never even thought about giving up glee club to work more, but if he were just sitting there eating? He wouldn’t care if someone was singing or not. It’d be more useful if they all donated food. Singing at the shelter’s not really about what’s useful in the end, Puck figures, but about the rest of New Directions feeling good about themselves.

 

“A pig?” Rachel says, her mouth hanging open before she stares up at Finn. “A pig?!?” she repeats, almost yelling.

“Well, it’s not an actual pig,” Finn tries to explain. “I mean, it’s an actual pig, like it’s a real pig or whatever, but it’s not coming to live with you or anything.”

“I gave you a very clear list of appropriate gifts, Finn, and a pig was not on the list. Where exactly is the pig going?”

“Yeah, but see, these pigs go to families who don’t, you know, have any pigs, or any food or something like that,” Finn says. “And they raise the pig and then it has little pig babies and then I guess they eat them.”

Rachel takes a loud deep breath and glares at Finn. “I didn’t want presents for other people, Finn, I wanted presents for me.”

“But Pu—but I read this thing about Hanukkah presents and it said on the list, it said ‘charitable donations’, so I donated a pig, charitably, in your name, just like the list said I should,” Finn says.

“But I gave you a list of what I wanted for Christmas, not Hanukkah,” Rachel says, shoving the picture of the pig back into Finn’s hand before wheeling around and stomping off down the hallway.

“But Rachel,” Finn shouts after her, “you’re Jewish!” Rachel doesn’t stop or answer him, though. She keeps storming down the hall until she rounds a corner.

Finn stands in the hall for a couple of minutes before he turns around and does his own stomp off in the opposite direction. He looks for Puck near the cafeteria and out in the courtyard, but he doesn’t find Puck there. After checking the choir room and a few classroom, Finn finally finds Puck in the locker room.

“Dude, what the hell?” Finn demands.

Puck looks up almost guiltily. “I only used it once!”

“What?” Finn asks. “Used what?”

“Oh, you weren’t talking about the sham—nevermind,” Puck says. “What’s up?”

“What’s up? What’s up is you gave me that stupid list of Hanukkah presents!” Finn says. “What’s up is that Rachel flipped out over me getting her something off the list! She says she doesn’t want Hanukkah presents, she wants Christmas presents!”

“Hey, hey,” Puck protests, putting his hands up in front of him. “That sounds like a problem with her, not me. That was a perfectly valid list of presents. Hell, except for the menorah, they aren’t bad Christmas presents. What’d you get her?”

“A pig,” Finn says.

“Huh?” Puck says, squinting and staring at him, then leaning back and nodding. “Ohh, like one of those feed the hungry people pigs?”

“Exactly! See, you know what I’m talking about. Rachel just got mad at me about it!”

“That sucks, dude,” Puck says, turning back to his locker and pulling on a t-shirt. “I dunno, I thought it wasn’t a bad list. What’d she say she wants?”

“Well, she had stuff like diamond earrings on her list,” Finn says.

“Diamond earrings,” Puck repeats, turning to stare at Finn again, sweatshirt in hand. “She’s barely seventeen and you aren’t much older, and she wants freakin’ diamond earrings? That’s crazy, dude. You don’t buy diamond earrings for your high school girlfriend.”

“Yeah, I can’t afford fake diamond earrings, even,” Finn says.

“Yeah, so that’s her problem,” Puck pronounces, pulling out a coat and putting it on before shutting his locker and picking up his backpack. “Even if you could, that’d be nuts, dude.”

“So it’s not just me?”

“Uh, no. I bet if you asked Tina or Quinn or somebody, they’d agree with us, even,” Puck says. “I’d say take her out to dinner, but Lima doesn’t have vegan restaurants.”

“I feel like I’ve gotta go buy her some kind of jewelry just to get her to talk to me again, dude,” Finn confesses. “What am I gonna do?”

Puck’s quiet for a long time, studying Finn and then looking away before he shrugs. “I guess you gotta decide if you want that,” he says finally. “‘Cause that’s a ransom or extortion or one of those crimes with money.”

“Blackmail?”

“Yeah, maybe that one,” Puck agrees, shoving his hands in his pockets. “You eat lunch yet?”

“No. I was too busy being yelled at about the pig,” Finn says. “Now I kind of want some ham or some bacon or something.”

Puck laughs and heads towards the cafeteria. “The thing about mystery meat is that I think there’s a 95% chance there’s pork in it on any given day.”

“You’ve got a point, I guess,” Finn says.

“That might be the only thing mystery meat has going for it,” Puck says, but when they get to the cafeteria, he gets a serving of everything on his tray, including the mystery meat and the carrots-and-peas, even though Puck’s always complained about messing up peas with the carrots.

“So, do you think I could make get her, I don’t know. Some earrings without diamonds in them?” Finn asks as he sits down at the table across from Puck. “If you were Rachel, you’d understand I can’t really buy diamonds, right?”

“If I were Rachel,” Puck repeats, looking down at himself and shrugging. “Well, for starters, I’d feel funny standing on tiptoe all the time, but other than that, I don’t think I would have asked for diamonds, you know?” Puck shrugs again, looking almost sad, and takes a big bite of mystery meat.

“I guess I’ll just do my best. Maybe something on both lists’ll match up,” Finn says.

“Yeah, maybe so,” Puck says, nodding a little and eating some of the pea-and-carrot combination. “That’d be the best case, I guess.” Puck finishes everything on his tray and then stands up, clapping Finn on one shoulder. “Good luck, man.”

“Thanks,” Finn says.

After school, Finn goes to the same little jewelry store where he bought Rachel the gold star necklace the previous Christmas. He doesn’t really have much left after the pig, definitely not enough for a gold anything, but he finds a pair of sterling silver earrings shaped liked hearts that he can afford. The jewelry store lady even wraps them for Finn, so by the time he gets to school the next morning, he’s feeling a little better about the whole thing.

When Finn finds Rachel by her locker, he catches her by one arm. “Look,” he says. “I thought about it, and you were probably totally right about the pig.”

Rachel smiles widely at him. “I knew you’d understand how important it is to get a gift for me, not someone else,” she says, bouncing once and giving Finn a hug before holding her hand out expectantly and closing her eyes. Finn sets the small wrapped box on Rachel’s palm, then steps back, grinning as he waits for her to open the box. “Sparkly things come in small packages!” she says, opening her eyes.

She opens the package very slowly, like she’s worried about ripping the gift wrap, and she looks up at him with the same smile when she sees it’s a jewelry box. When she opens the box, though, her face falls, and she looks up at him with a frown.

“Finn, are these sterling silver?” she asks. “And there’s no diamonds on them at all!”

“Yeah, they’re real sterling silver,” Finn says proudly.

Rachel closes the box with an audible click, then puts the box in Finn’s hand. “Take them back,” she instructs. “Take them back and get me something better, Finn. This isn’t acceptable.”

“I can’t afford to buy diamonds, Rachel,” Finn says, holding the box out to her again. “Those were really pretty. I think they’d look pretty on you.”

“If I were truly important to you, Finn, you’d do what you had to do in order to buy me what I want,” Rachel says. “You’d sell something, if you had to.”

“Well, if I was important to you, you’d appreciate that I tried to pick out stuff you’d really like and would be something meaningful,” Finn counters.

Rachel exhales loudly and looks up at Finn incredulously. “I’m not making an unreasonable request here, Finn.”

“Yeah, you kinda are,” Finn says. “You’re my high school girlfriend and you’re telling me to do whatever I had to do to buy you diamond earrings. That’s definitely in the neighborhood of unreasonable.”

Rachel lifts her chin. “Well? What are you going to do about it?”

“I guess the first thing I’m gonna do is tell you no,” Finn says. “And the next thing is probably returning these earrings.”

“Finn!” Rachel gasps. “That is—are you breaking up with me?”

“Well, I didn’t think I was, but I guess if not buying you diamonds is the same as breaking up with you then yeah, I guess so,” Finn says.

“I—I never!” Rachel says, tossing her head and spinning around. “Fine!” she tosses over her shoulder. “It’s clear you didn’t value me anyway!”

“Fine,” Finn snaps back.

“Fine!” Rachel repeats just before she goes around a corner.

“Fine!” Finn shouts after her.

A final “Fine!” comes from around the corner, far enough away to lose some of the anger in it.

“Fine,” Finn grumbles to himself. “I’ll return these earrings and then spend all the money on pizzas.”

 

After two months, Puck knows the rhythm of the week. Sunday night might be the hardest to find a place to crash, but it’s easy to find dinner on Sunday nights, and pretty hard to find dinner on Friday nights. The Evans-Hudson-Hummel household has family dinner night on Friday nights, which means that Puck can’t crash their dinner, and that takes three people out of the equation right there. Mike and Tina usually go out on a date, and Puck’s only finagled an invitation out of Artie once. Mostly, because Friday nights are date nights and football games, Puck can’t find a dinner invitation. But Friday nights do usually end with sleepovers of some kind, which means Puck can not only crash, he usually manages to get all of his meals for Saturday covered, too. It’s Sunday morning, when he’s been somewhere two nights and eaten four meals, that he takes his leave.

The Friday night of the Christmas special, Puck doesn’t find a place for dinner, and he hates to spend the money on dinner, even on a cheap dinner at Taco Bell or something. He figures that there might be food at the special. There is, but it’s just crappy snack food, and by the time they do all land at the homeless shelter, Puck’s pretty damn hungry. The crackers didn’t do much, and the day’s lunch at McKinley was hours earlier by then.

He knows it’s a little foolhardy when he’s trying to keep his situation from everyone, but the smell of the food hits him hard, and he can’t help asking.

“Would it be weird if I made myself a plate?”

He doesn’t really get a response immediately, not that he expects one, but Sam shoots him a sharp look and then shakes his head twice, before everyone starts gathering up to sing. They sing, the people there to eat and sleep look appreciative enough, and then they help serve food for a little longer. After ten or so minutes, Puck quietly grabs a plate, fills it, and then heads to a corner to eat it, figuring most of the glee club won’t even notice.

Of course, he’s barely started eating before Finn drops down next to him, with a, “Dude, why are you eating?”

“‘Cause I’m hungry?” Puck offers, purposely not answering the question he knows Finn is actually asking.

“Yeah, but this food’s supposed to be for the, you know.” Finn waves his hand around. “People who need to come here.”

“The poor, pitiful homeless people?” Puck says a little bitterly.

“I wasn’t gonna say that,” Finn says, frowning. “That isn’t what I meant.”

Puck sets his spoon down and sighs. “Look. You know Ma. I turned eighteen three months ago. You figure it out.”

“You turned eighteen?” Finn says, his face scrunching up. “What does—dude. Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I didn’t want to be Debbie Downer, you know? Or whoever the dude version is. Doug Downer or something.” Puck shrugs. “It’s not a huge deal. Friday nights are just the hardest to find dinner, you know?”

“You should have told me. You could’ve stayed with me,” Finn insists.

“Uh.” Puck looks over at Sam guiltily. “I kinda do stay at your place a lot.”

“You could’ve stayed for good,” Finn says. “Mom and Burt would be fine with that. You’re coming home with us tonight, okay?”

“I knew this was gonna happen,” Puck says, shaking his head. “Do I at least get to tell Sam ‘I told you so’?”

“What? What did you tell him?”

“That, you know. As soon you found out, you’d have to try to fix it.” Puck shrugs. “It’s not a bad thing, I guess. But seriously I’m doing okay. It’s not perfect, but I’m not sleeping on the streets or anything.”

“I’m not trying to fix anything. I’m trying to be your best friend,” Finn says. “I mean, I’m supposed to be, right?”

“Yeah. I just didn’t want to drag you down, you know?”

“Drag me down by... what, exactly? Staying at my house?” Finn shakes his head.

“Being kicked out isn’t exactly cheery,” Puck points out with a snort. “You’ve been having a good year.”

“Dude,” Finn says.

“What?”

Dude,” Finn repeats, raising his eyebrows.

Puck rolls his eyes. “Dude.”

“Dude, you know exactly what I mean.”

“Dude,” Puck says, shaking his head and bumping against Finn’s shoulder.

“Good, then we’re done talking about it,” Finn says, bumping Puck back.

“Sure,” Puck agrees, because Finn’s totally being the knight-in-shining-armor, even if he’s denying it. “Let me guess, though. You want me to get the rest of my shit tonight, too.”

“Yeah. Duh.”

Puck snorts and shakes his head. “I’m gonna finish my dinner now,” he announces, picking his spoon back up.

“Yeah, you do that, and we’ll have some hot chocolate and cookies when we get back to my house,” Finn says.

Which is exactly what happens, after they make a detour to Mike’s, and Sam just looks smug about the entire thing once they’re sitting in the kitchen, and Puck’s pretty sure they’re going to have to find a new way to identify the place, because Puckerman-Evans-Hudson-Hummel residence is too much of a mouthful. Finn tells his mom, which makes her fuss over Puck for a bit, and then Puck ends up in Finn’s room, which is bigger than Sam’s but, if Puck’s honest, smells about the same.

“You sure I shouldn’t throw in grocery money or something at least?” Puck asks Finn.

“Uh, no.”

Puck shakes his head and goes to sleep, unconvinced, but it’s not like Carole or Burt either one let him so much as buy pizza for the household. Everything goes pretty normally for a week or so until school lets out for break, and Puck realizes while they’re playing on the Wii that later that day, Hanukkah starts. He doesn’t say anything to anyone else, but as soon as dinner’s over, he goes up to Finn’s room and stares out the window. Puck never really thought of himself as religious, but it hurts, thinking about his mom and sister celebrating without him. He has the same cell phone number that he had before, so they could have called, but they didn’t.

The door to Finn’s room opens, and Finn quietly says, “Hey, Puck?”

“Hey, sorry, you need in here?” Puck says, turning away from the window.

“No, I just, I have a thing for you.”

“What is it?” Puck asks, puzzled.

“It’s a—oh, here, just open it,” Finn says, handing Puck a box, badly wrapped in blue paper with way too much tape.

Puck frowns, still puzzled, but takes the box and opens it slowly, blinking at the contents. “You got me a menorah?”

“Yeah, ‘cause of Hanukkah,” Finn says. “It was on the list.”

“I didn’t give you that list for me,” Puck feels obligated to point out, but he pulls out the menorah and sets it in Finn’s window anyway. “You have a lighter or something?”

“Yeah, I’ve got matches for it,” Finn says, reaching into his pocket and handing a book of matches to Puck.

“Thanks,” Puck says quietly, lighting the shamash and then the first of the other candles. “Now we just need latkes,” he jokes.

“We can have some latkes. What day do you want to do latkes? I bet Mom can make them,” Finn says.

“Any night’s fine,” Puck assures him. “Wouldn’t want to mess up Christmas dinner or whatever.”

“Okay, cool,” Finn says. “You need me to leave you alone now or something? Is there some kind of Jewish praying you need to do?”

“I don’t remember it,” Puck admits. “Maybe I’ll Google before tomorrow night. Weird how I didn’t know it mattered to me, you know?”

“Yeah,” Finn agrees. “It’s weird how stuff works like that.”

Puck sits on the edge of Finn’s bed, watching the menorah quietly for a bit until he stands up and blows out the candles, turning back to Finn. “Want to go steal the Wii back from Sam and Kurt?”

“Sure,” Finn says. They head downstairs and neither of them mention Hanukkah again that night or the next day, until the sun sets and Puck goes upstairs quietly, lighting the candles again. He sits on the bed cross-legged and doesn’t even turn when he hears Finn enter the room.

“Hey,” he says quietly, still studying the candles.

“Hey,” Finn replies. “You okay?”

“Yeah,” Puck says with a little nod. “Forgot to Google. I’ll have to do that tomorrow.”

“Here,” Finn says, holding out another package, smaller than the day before’s. This one is slightly better wrapped, which makes Puck suspect Finn might have had some help.

Puck shoots Finn a grin, then unwraps what ends up being a giant chocolate Santa. “Chocolate,” Puck says happily, tearing into the box.

“I didn’t know where to look for the gelt things, so, sorry it’s a Santa,” Finn says. “I got the biggest one I could find to make up for it.”

“It’ll taste the same,” Puck assures him. “Or possibly better, because some of that kosher chocolate is weird-tasting.”

“Cool. So, uh, happy second night of Hanukkah.”

Puck breaks off a piece of Santa’s hat and pops it in his mouth, grinning around it. “Thanks, dude.”

The next night, before Puck can head upstairs to light the menorah, he hears the food processor in the kitchen, followed by the sound of oil sizzling, and he grins. “Latkes?” he asks Finn.

Finn shrugs. “Maybe.”

Puck snorts and bumps his shoulder against Finn’s. “Dude.”

“Yeah,” Finn says, grinning at Puck.

“Awesome,” Puck says, and the latkes are awesome, especially considering Carole’s never made latkes as far as Puck knows. After dinner, he uses his phone to find the prayers and lights the menorah again, sitting on the bed and half-anticipating Finn coming into the room.

“So,” Finn says, appearing in the doorway, “this one’s kinda dumb, but the internet says it’s important.”

Puck looks at Finn skeptically. “You didn’t buy me a yarmulke, did you?”

“Nope.” Finn tosses a very small wrapped package to Puck. This one is even more badly wrapped than the menorah was.

“Okay, good,” Puck says with a smirk, tearing into the package and pulling out a dreidel. “Okay, now we’ve gotta play,” he tells Finn. “We need pennies or something, and the other two.”

“You want to play now?” Finn asks.

“Yeah, why not?” Puck says, standing up.

“‘Cause it’s just you, me, Kurt, and Sam.”

“I don’t think they’ll mind spending fifteen or twenty minutes playing,” Puck points out. “We can sit in the floor here.”

“I don’t know. Sam might mind,” Finn says, looking kind of cagey. “Kurt might, but that’s mainly because of the brother thing.”

“Okay, Sam’s not, like, douchey crazy Christian,” Puck points out, “and what does that have to do with dreidel?”

“Well, like, he’s not into dudes at all, so...”

“Dude.” Puck looks at Finn and shakes his head slowly. “We’re not gonna touch the implications of that right now. I’m guessing you think this is some kind of spin the bottle thing, but it’s a game kids play. You spin it and either get the gelt—or, well, pennies—in the pot, or you pay into the pot.”

“Oh, so it’s not really Jewish spin the bottle? I guess that makes a little more sense,” Finn says, his face turning a little red. “So, yeah, I’ll just go and get Kurt and Sam now.”

“Jewish spin the bottle,” Puck repeats to himself quietly as Finn leaves, and he shakes his head as he pokes around on the furniture and in the floor, gathering up loose coins. Finn wasn’t wrong about Puck, but Puck still finds it interesting that Finn only mentioned Sam as not being into dudes at all. Puck shrugs and sits in the floor with one of Finn’s textbooks in the middle of it, so they have something to spin the dreidel on.

“I’ve never gotten to play dreidel,” Sam announces enthusiastically when he arrives in Finn’s room. “I brought some pennies, though.”

“I’m only doing this for ten minutes,” Kurt informs them.

“Aww, c’mon, do I have to pull the homeless guy card?” Puck asks with a smirk.

“Oh my god,” Kurt huffs. “Fine. Fifteen.”

“You’ll dreidel as long as the man wants to dreidel,” Finn says, pointing a menacing finger in Kurt’s direction.

“I’m convinced!” Sam says, sitting down and dumping his change next to the textbook. “Hey, and we’ll even learn some Hebrew.”

Puck laughs. “Yeah, I guess you will.”

They end up playing for forty-five minutes or so, getting increasingly competitive, and even Kurt goes at it with gusto, cursing nun as much as the rest of them. After they finish, Puck sets the dreidel on the windowsill next to the menorah and grins at Finn.

“Thanks, dude.”

Finn shrugs. “It was nothing.”

“Dude.” Puck rolls his eyes. “Let’s see if there’s any of the ice cream left.”

“Sure!”

Over the next four nights, Finn gives Puck a comic book, a note that he made a donation of canned goods, a dozen doughnuts with a few jelly doughnuts among them, and a pair of socks with Stars of David all over them, which makes Puck laugh and Finn protest that he was running out of ideas. With that in his mind, Puck lights the menorah for the last night, all nine candles burning and he sits on Finn’s bed expectantly.

Like he has the previous seven nights, Finn enters the room with, “Hey.”

“Hey,” Puck responds, then holds up his feet, since he pulled on the Star of David socks for fun.

“So, I had Hanukkah fail,” Finn says, his shoulders slumping. “I ran out of stuff on the list.”

“Yeah, I guess it was short a few days,” Puck says. “It’s cool.”

“I feel bad. I tried to do a good Hanukkah for you,” Finn says. “I guess I’m just not good at Hanukkah-ing. Rachel sure thought so.”

“Dude, I had like, a 750% better Hanukkah than I expected,” Puck admits.

“That’s a lot of percents.”

“Hey, I had to dock you a little for no gift tonight,” Puck teases, smirking at Finn.

“Sorry,” Finn says. “I just couldn’t think of anything else, and I was also kind of out of money. I spent a lot on that stupid pig.”

“It’s cool,” Puck repeats. “Don’t worry about it.”

“We could play dreidel again and you could win all my pennies,” Finn offers.

“You know, speaking of dreidel,” Puck says, shifting on the bed and turning to face Finn. “You seriously thought it was like spin the bottle? ‘Cause you didn’t seem to mind the idea of playing until I mentioned Sam and Kurt.”

“Well, I mean, it was on the list, so I figured...” Finn shrugs. “You know, I wanted you to have a good Hanukkah.”

“Uh-huh,” Puck says skeptically. “So what’re the rules?” he asks, grabbing the dreidel off the windowsill. “I spin it, and no matter what side it lands on, you have to kiss me?”

“I don’t think it—that doesn’t really sound—okay, probably not if it lands on nun,” Finn rattles off.

“Yeah, okay, fair enough,” Puck concedes. “But I think if it lands on gimel it should be more than just one kiss, right?”

“Um. You’re sure you want to play this with me?”

“Dude, I’m the one that should be asking that question,” Puck says.

“Dude, I’m the one who bought you the dreidel!” Finn says, his face reddening. “So, so, so yeah. Let’s just play.”

Puck laughs and spins the dreidel, then flips it over so gimel’s on top. “There you go,” he says with a grin.

“That’s cheating,” Finn points out.

“Do you want me to spin it again?” Puck asks, raising an eyebrow.

“If you don’t want to be a cheater.”

“Fine, fine,” Puck grumbles, spinning the dreidel again and then grinning triumphantly when it lands on gimel. “See? Jewish God wants us to make out.”

“Oh. I guess so,” Finn says. After a second or two of looking conflicted, Finn closes his eyes and leans forward. Puck puts one hand on the back of Finn’s neck and then leans in himself, bringing their lips together. He kisses Finn softly at first, not sure Finn really thought everything through, and then runs his tongue over Finn’s bottom lip. Finn’s lips part with a little gasp, like he’s surprised, and Puck takes advantage of it to push his tongue into Finn’s mouth.

Finn kisses back, a little bit tentative, but more like he’s not sure how to kiss a dude than out of any reluctance, and Puck reaches with his free hand for Finn’s wrist, moving Finn’s hand to the back of Puck’s head. After just a few seconds, Finn’s hand curve around the back of Puck’s head, pulling him a little more firmly into the kiss.

Puck continues the kiss until he has to pull away, but he doesn’t move all the way back, still leaning towards Finn. “You think you could spin gimel again?” he asks with a grin.

Finn still looks kind of surprised, but he grins back at Puck. “Yeah, I think I’ve actually got this whole Hanukkah thing down, dude.”