The day after Mr. Schuester asks them all where they see themselves in 2030, Puck overhears Kurt talking to someone—Puck figures either Rachel or Blaine, unless he’s still on the Finn-advice kick—about some of kind of goal-setting exercise. Puck keeps getting dressed in the locker room, half-listening to the conversation taking place just outside the door.
“… so you pick something like your retirement party. Your spouse, your children, your grandchildren, maybe great-grandchildren are all there, all your colleagues from your successful career, all your friends. Who do you want to see? What do you want them to say?”
There’s a murmured response, which is low enough that Puck can’t tell who it is that Kurt’s talking to, and then Kurt continues as Puck puts on deodorant.
“No, no, you visualize it. It’s supposed to help you clarify your priorities, and…” Kurt’s voice fades, and Puck pulls on a clean t-shirt, thinking about what Kurt was saying.
Retirement implies a job, and Puck doesn’t really have any idea what kind of job he wants. The only things he’s ever been good at are singing, guitar, pool cleaning, sex, football, and, he likes to think, being a dad, even if that was pretty short-lived. People aren’t going to pay him well to sing and play guitar, though, and it’s pretty clear football won’t even get him to JC. No one’s supposed to pay for sex, and he’ll get old well before retirement. Pool cleaning is too seasonal. None of them are good jobs, except for being a dad and music, but the music won’t support the dad part, which sucks.
Puck keeps thinking about it as he drives home, and he decides it’s a pretty weird exercise, because the only two people he can imagine being at his retirement party are Finn and Beth. He doesn’t know what he’d be retiring from, because if he got lucky enough to get paid for music, he wouldn’t retire, and he’s pretty sure dads don’t get retirement parties. Football and pool cleaning and sex would all mean really depressingly young retirement parties.
Two days after Finn turns Puck down about going to L.A., Puck starts crying in bed and he can’t figure out why. He’s finally figured out a way to at least get paid year round for one of the few things he’s good at, but now Finn won’t come, and it gives Puck a bad feeling about the entire thing, which doesn’t make any damn sense even in Puck’s head, much less out loud, so he doesn’t mention the feeling to anyone or any of his doubts, just keeps planning for L.A. and hoping that Finn changes his mind.
The day that they get back from winning Nationals, Puck helps Finn collect on his bet, money that’s supposed to be for the wedding or the honeymoon or something, and Puck plays the perfect going-to-be best man, no matter how much he still thinks that the wedding’s a bad idea. He goes home and starts ranting to his mom and his little sister about it at dinner, and halfway through dessert, his mom finally cuts him off.
“Noah, why exactly are you so upset about this? I know what you’ve just said, but it seems like you’re overreacting.”
Puck frowns and starts in again, but they just ignore him, and he’s left talking to an empty room while he does the dishes. He’s back in his room before he starts thinking about his mom’s question, and then his brain reminds him that he wanted Finn at his retirement party, and he thinks that’s it, that he’s afraid Rachel will take Finn away. That settled, he starts to play Mario. Fifteen minutes into his game, he starts talking out loud about Finn again.
“And if I really thought Finn’d be happy with Rachel long-term, it’d be different,” he says to the game. “But he’ll be miserable. He doesn’t need someone like Rachel, and definitely not someone like Quinn. He needs someone like me, someone who really gets him.”
He keeps playing and then stops. Mario dies.
“Someone like me,” Puck repeats. “Well, shit.”
That isn’t the answer he expects, but as he restarts the game, Mario springing back to life, he’s self-aware enough to admit he has been acting jealous. For a long time, actually, and that’s a real kicker. If he’s right… he has the uncomfortable feeling that he is right, and he mulls it over while he keeps playing Mario.
By the time he’s ready to go to bed, he shakes his head as he checks his texts. “Well, fuck me, I guess,” he says to his phone after he’s responded to a few. “I’m in love with Finn and didn’t even realize it.”
Maybe it should bother him more, but after the April Rhodes and Matt Rutherford threesome sophomore year and all the cuddling with Mike junior year at Rachel’s party, Puck had shrugged and decided maybe he was bi, after all. It isn’t anything he was planning on acting on in high school, for sure, but L.A.? Why not?
For the most part, Puck doesn’t have any firm ideas about what life in L.A. will be like, so the idea of bringing home just as many guys as girls had been pretty exciting, actually. Puck remembers what it was like when he first started having sex with girls, and everything leading up to it, and it had been a hell of a lot of fun. Puck had been sort of thinking of L.A. as his chance to do the same thing, but with guys. So, no, being in love with Finn isn’t really that shocking, at least not because Finn is a guy.
Being in love with Finn is only surprising because he hadn’t realized it before, and the only way it’s a bad thing is that Finn is, as far as Puck can tell, completely straight, and definitely committed to Rachel.
It’s not even the first time Puck’s felt more for someone than they’ve felt for him. Almost anyone who’s watched him during high school would realize that Puck liked Quinn and Lauren a lot more than they liked him. Santana and Puck probably had about the same level of feeling and use for each other, but still Puck can’t really think of a time someone’s liked him more than he’s liked them.
By the time he gets to school the next morning, though, Puck’s re-evaluated what he felt for Quinn and Lauren in the light of the revelation about Finn. Maybe he wasn’t really in love with them at all, because he’s been acting jealous of Finn for years. It’s a little disturbing, even, so Puck doesn’t go too far down that road.
Anyway, the way he feels about Finn is totally different from how he felt about Quinn or Lauren. Even with Quinn, even with Beth in the mix, it didn’t feel like it does with Finn. His brain made the switch to thinking about wanting Finn pretty quickly, sure, but more than that, he just wants to be around Finn. There were times—a lot of times—with Quinn that Puck found himself wishing that she’d just shut up, or actually ask his opinion.
That’s not the way things are with Finn. The hard part about being in love with Finn is going to be watching him with Rachel, at least until they all leave Lima, and then hearing about Finn and Rachel together. It’s probably good that Puck’s not waiting much after graduation to head to L.A. There’s probably no good reason to hang around Lima, even if he and Finn seem to be in better sync than ever.
Two days after Finn puts Rachel on a train, Puck leaves for L.A., a week ahead of schedule, because if he goes to L.A., he’ll finish learning how not to do anything stupid, maybe. He does exactly what he had planned, once he’s in L.A. Because guys are more or less new, he’s probably skewing towards hooking up with two guys for every girl, but he’s trying something new and being pretty safe about it, too.
He works hard during the day cleaning pools and four or five nights out of the week, he goes to a club in the evening. At first he’s just making out with guys on the dance floor, same as he would girls, but eventually one guy pulls him into a smaller room and before Puck is totally sure what’s going on, the guy is on his knees, unzipping Puck’s jeans, and Puck starts to get the idea. Puck goes to a different club a week later and does his own version of that move, offering to blow the hot guy he’s dancing with. He doesn’t say anything about it being the first time he’s ever given a blow job, and the guy seems happy enough with how Puck does.
Going back to Lima to meet his brother is hard. It’s been not quite three months that he’s been living in L.A., but everyone assumes he’s the exact same Puck he always was. It’s pretty easy to act how he’s supposed to act, and maybe he’s not really that different. Maybe he’s just hoping that he’s different. He can’t really figure out any specific way that he is different, so he’s probably just imagining things and being dumb. He feels a little stifled in Lima, and Finn’s not there, which would be weird even if Puck weren’t aware of how he felt.
Puck finds out from Finn that Finn’s back in Lima not too long after Puck leaves again, and that’s just mostly bad luck, Puck figures. Puck picks up more or less where he left off with the clubs, and he adds some hours in L.A. dressed up to get more money. The pool money is pretty good, but if tourists want to give Puck more money, why not? His living expenses aren’t all that high, so he saves a lot of it. He’s not even sure what he’s saving it for, but he figures it might come in handy at some point. Something about L.A. still feels off, just like it has for months, but at least he can make sure he has enough money.
When Puck goes back to Lima at Thanksgiving, Finn’s there, looking pretty happy. Single, too, which makes Puck irrationally happy, because it’s not like he’s going to be the one who steps in as Finn’s next significant other. Still, there’s a good chance it’ll be someone better for Finn.
Puck’s pretty sure some other people would think it’s weird, that he has dates and hookups and generally lives like he’s not in love with Finn, at least in terms of his own sexual behavior. But he likes to think he’s not someone who pines, and he can be pretty realistic; the chance of Finn being bisexual and picking Puck to be bisexual with? Not very damn high. So he’ll keep trying to be an awesome best friend to Finn, at least when he’s in town, and stay in touch with him when he’s not in town.
Puck goes back and forth between Lima and L.A. again in December, trying to hang out with Jake and maintain the client list he’s built. L.A. is starting to feel lonely, which is almost a relief. Puck’s been waiting for whatever it was he was dreading since the spring, and now it’s finally shown up. Despite going out to clubs regularly, frequenting the same coffee and lunch spots, and trying to be as friendly as possible without being suspicious, Puck hasn’t really made many connections with anyone. His life is pretty devoid of close friendships, and most of his social outlet comes from online conversations with people from Lima or when he’s in Lima visiting. He doesn’t mind the town, either, but there’s a little bit of doubt at the back of his mind, that he would get fed up with L.A. long-term. The number of people and the busyness is great, but he isn’t sure what he’d think at 25 or 30.
Puck has a hard enough time picturing himself older as it is, and while his initial idea of being paid to clean pools year round had seemed like a good one, as January hits, Puck realizes that maybe part of what he liked about pool cleaning was the break from it each winter. He has enough money to get him through until the summer, and there are so many pools in L.A. that he could rebuild a client list from scratch, so when the invitation to Schue’s wedding in February arrives, Puck makes a decision.
He tells his landlord he’d like to move out, as soon as possible, and his landlord has a long enough waiting list that Puck’s out in two days. He has to spend the night in a crappy motel for two nights while he finishes the last of his commitments and lets his clients know he’s discontinuing service.
Puck has enough money to get him through at least May if he just hangs around Lima, and he could easily pick up his Lima pool clients if he wants to and doesn’t figure out anything else by then. Really, he has enough money to go anywhere until May, and he can work on his screenplay anywhere, so maybe that’s what he’ll do.
Everyone is in town for Schue’s wedding, and even though Schue doesn’t actually get married, everyone still goes to the reception. Puck notices Finn and Rachel talking, and he thinks about trying to head that off, but at some point, he loses track of Finn, and the next thing he knows, Finn’s gone and Rachel is, too, and the few people he can ask aren’t sure if they left at the same time or not.
Puck considers heading back to his mom’s, but he stops by the front desk of the hotel just to find out how much a room would be. The guy behind the desk looks tired and launches into a story about how the hotel had reserved an entire block for the wedding but not all of them got booked, and now they’re going to lose money. Puck interrupts him by waving three twenties in front of his face, and the guy hands him a key three minutes later.
The room is pretty nice, all things considered: two queen size beds, a couch, a refrigerator and a microwave, and Puck ditches most of his suit before going back to raid the reception leftovers and stow them in the refrigerator. He remembers that he has a t-shirt and a pair of sweatpants stowed with his bike, and he grabs those too, then locks the door and settles in for the night. He watches a movie on HBO before turning off the television and stripping the rest of his clothes off, climbing into the bed farthest from the door. Puck goes to sleep like he does most nights, jerking off to the thought of other hands on his dick, trying his best not to picture any particular person or gender doing the jerking off and kissing that his brain conjures, too. He wipes his hand and his dick, and falls asleep without thinking too much about where Finn might be, and what he might be doing.
He wakes up the next morning to his phone singing with the tone assigned to Finn’s texts and calls.
Rachel's side of the bed is already cold when Finn wakes up. She could have been gone for fifteen minutes or hours, but Finn has no way of knowing that. He lies still for a few minutes, listening for any signs she’s in the bathroom, or that she’s gone to get ice for the ice bucket. Maybe she headed down early for the continental breakfast and plans to come right back with a plate of danishes. The longer Finn waits, the stupider he feels, though, and he finally has to accept that she’s not coming back.
Finn sits up, still naked in the rumpled hotel bedding. His tuxedo is scattered across the room, tie on top of the television, coat across a chair, pants just a step away from the door, on top of his shoes. No one would be able to look at the room and guess anyone else had ever been there. Finn sighs, feeling his body slump, and drops his head into his hands.
His hands still smell like Rachel.
Suddenly, Finn feels like he can’t get enough air, no matter how deep a breath he takes. His chest tightens and his head starts pounding. What is he supposed to do now? How does he gather up the pieces of his rented tuxedo, put them back on, and walk out of that room? Nothing in his life so far has prepared him for the completely shitty feeling of waking up alone in a bed, without even a note, after having sex somebody that he loves, and who he really thought loved him.
Sitting naked in the bed until check-out is obviously not an option, but that’s the only thing Finn can really see himself doing in the foreseeable future. What he needs is somebody who knows what to do in this kind of situation, which means he needs somebody whose lifestyle has provided a few waking-up-alone opportunities, which means he needs Puck. Luckily, Finn’s phone is within arm’s reach, so he picks it up and calls Puck.
“Finn?” Puck says after three rings, sounding a little asleep still.
“I don’t have an exit plan,” Finn says. “What do you do when you wake up alone?”
There isn’t an immediate answer, and then Puck sighs. “Are you still at the hotel?”
“Yeah. I don’t know the room number.”
“I’m in room… 305,” Puck says.
“I can’t put on pants,” Finn says. “I know, it’s stupid, but I can’t— I don’t know what to do about it.”
“Okay. Can you go open the door for a few seconds and figure out the number?” Puck asks, and there’s the sound of a door closing a second later.
“No.” Finn tries to make himself stand up, but lying down actually sounds like a better idea, so he compromises by not moving. “No, I tried. I can’t do standing.”
“Getting in the room is going to be interesting, assuming I find it,” Puck says. “Okay, so, listen and see if you can hear me walking down the hall, I guess, and if you aren’t on this floor, I’ll go to the other floors. Please tell me you weren’t on the first floor, at least?”
“No. I think the room’s on the second floor,” Finn says.
“Downstairs. Okay. I’m assuming you don’t hear me right now?”
“No, I don’t hear you. I mean, I hear you on the phone, but…”
“Yeah, I got you.” There’s the sound of another door opening and closing, and Puck’s voice echoes when he starts talking again. “I’m going down to the second floor now.”
“Okay,” Finn says. He scans the room for his boxers, spotting them near the door to the bathroom, and forces himself to stand up and walk to them. Putting on a pair of boxers shouldn’t take as much effort as it does, but at least he’s not naked anymore, and since he’s up, he can open the door when he hears Puck’s voice coming down the hall.
“I think my brother was getting a room, so I really hope he doesn’t hear me,” Puck continues. “There are things I— oh.”
“Hey,” Finn says, using the phone in his hand to half-heartedly wave at Puck.
Puck is wearing sweatpants, not boxers, but otherwise isn’t any more dressed than Finn, and he stops in front of Finn, squinting a little as he looks into the room. “Come on, get your stuff and we’re going back upstairs,” he says.
“I don’t have any stuff,” Finn says.
“Okay, the tux, anyway,” Puck says, sliding past Finn and into the room. He moves around behind Finn for a minute or so, then comes up beside Finn again and puts one arm around Finn’s shoulders. “Come on.” He steers Finn down the hall, up the stairs, and then down the third floor hall to room 305.
“I know I’m pathetic,” Finn says, as soon as the door shuts behind them. “I know it, okay?”
“Sit down,” Puck says. “Not on that bed, the other one.” He points to the one that looks like no one’s touched it, then goes to the mini-fridge and pulls something out before sitting down on the bed and holding it out to Finn. “Water bottle, and chocolate mini-cake thing.”
“Thanks,” Finn says, taking the water bottle before sitting down. He waves away the cake.
Puck shrugs and eats the cake himself, wiping his hands on his sweatpants and watching Finn. “Rachel?” he asks after a minute or two passes.
“Go ahead and say it,” Finn says, surprising himself with how angry he sounds. “Go ahead and tell me how stupid I am.”
“You’re doing a pretty good job of beating yourself up,” Puck says. “You want to scream or cry?”
Finn shrugs. “Both. Maybe neither. I just feel kind of, I don’t know. Empty.”
“Maybe cry then.”
“I’m not gonna cry,” Finn says, taking a drink from the bottle of water without looking directly at Puck.
“Oh yeah?” Puck says.
“Yeah,” Finn insists. “Why should I cry? It’s my own fault. I shouldn’t have been so stupid, thinking it meant something when it didn’t.”
“Yeah? You never made yourself cry before?” Puck says, sounding skeptical.
“Not this time.”
“Okay. So what, then?” Puck says. “You’re not the first person to make that mistake.”
“Shut up! I thought it meant something,” Finn says. “I thought I meant something.”
“Yeah, so you thought you meant something to her, and now you think you don’t, and it sucks,” Puck says. “I’m not saying it doesn’t suck.”
“Why would she leave if it meant something to her? She didn’t even say goodbye. She didn’t even leave a note!” Finn takes another drink of water. “Why would she do that if she cared about me?”
Puck doesn’t say anything for a few seconds, and then he sounds almost apologetic. “She wouldn’t.”
“She wouldn’t,” Finn agrees. His face feels wet, and he wipes it with the back of his hand.
“I’m going to sound like one of those talk shows for a minute, but you deserve better than that,” Puck says.
“She just left. She didn’t even say goodbye. She left.”
Puck is silent for twenty or thirty seconds, then reaches for Finn and pulls Finn towards him, moving a little so Finn’s head lands on Puck’s shoulder. “Yeah,” Puck says quietly, both arms around Finn.
“She left. I think it’s over. I think it’s really over,” Finn says, letting his head rest on Puck’s shoulder and finally letting himself cry. “I love her. I love her, and she just left, she just left without saying anything.”
Puck keeps hugging Finn without saying anything else, and after a couple of minutes pass, he starts humming quietly. Finn cries into Puck’s shoulder for a while, without saying anything else, and Puck rubs his thumbs in a circle while he keeps humming.
After Finn has mostly stopped crying, Puck clears his throat. “You want more water, or just to sleep more?”
“I think sleep,” Finn says. “I feel so tired.”
“Okay,” Puck says, taking the water bottle from Finn and nudging him towards the middle of the bed. “Just sleep. Checkout’s not for awhile.”
“Thanks, Puck,” Finn says, lying down on his side.
“No problem,” Puck says, sliding off the bed and walking over to the other one. He’s quiet for a few seconds, then says very quietly, “I’m not going anywhere.”
After Finn falls asleep, Puck spends ten minutes trying to talk himself out of getting up and putting the bedspread over Finn like a fussy Jewish Nana, but in the end, the voice of Nana in his head wins, and Puck moves the blanket and bedspread over Finn. Puck lets another five minutes pass before he turns the television on, volume low, and he watches bad Sunday morning television for over an hour before grabbing the provided laundry bag and shoving their non-food stuff in it, leaving out a pair of pants and Puck’s t-shirt for Finn, and Puck’s undershirt for himself.
Finn is still sleeping when Puck finishes that, so Puck sets an alarm on his phone, turns the volume down, and sacks out on his bed with his phone right next to his ear. When it wakes him up, forty-five minutes before checkout, Finn is still asleep, and Puck sits up, leaving the television off and watching Finn sleep.
Ever since Puck has known Finn, Finn stretches as he starts to wake up, and Puck lets himself smile as he watches Finn’s arms move above his head. He didn’t badmouth Rachel or push Finn to conclusions Finn isn’t ready to make yet, so watching Finn wake up is his reward to himself. After his arms go above his head and back down, Puck watches the bedspread move with Finn’s legs, and then Finn rolls onto his back.
“Hey,” Puck says, knowing that Finn’s awake, even if his eyes aren’t open yet.
“Hey,” Finn says. “Not a weird dream then, huh?”
Puck shakes his head. “Sorry.”
Finn sighs loudly and opens his eyes. “This sucks.”
“Yeah,” Puck agrees. “You’ve got time to shower before checkout, and then we’ll go hit the breakfast buffet or something. Okay?”
“Yeah. That sounds good,” Finn says. “I don’t have clothes but the tux, though.”
“Okay, maybe we go find other clothes on the way to eat,” Puck says with a shrug. “You get the idea.”
“Yeah.” Finn rubs his eyes, then stands up and gives Puck a sort of sheepish-looking half-smile before going into the bathroom and shutting the door, the shower starting right away.
Puck pulls on his undershirt and his shoes, tossing his t-shirt next to Finn’s pants, and then realizes that not only did he not hook up with anyone, he didn’t really think about it, not even after Finn called. He shrugs and looks in the mirror, thinking that it’s probably better since he would have kicked someone out as soon as Finn did call.
The shower stops, and Puck picks up the pants and t-shirt and goes to the bathroom door, knocking once. “Clothes.”
“Thanks,” Finn calls out. The door cracks open, and Finn reaches through the space to grab his clothes. Puck steps back as soon as Finn takes them, and leans against the wall near the bathroom door.
“You still have that sweatshirt I left at your house last year?” Puck asks. “Then we only have to make one stop.”
“Yeah, probably,” Finn says. The bathroom door opens all the way, Finn walking out in the t-shirt and tuxedo pants.
“McKinley JV Football deserves to take one more victory lap, right?” Puck says, getting the last water bottle out of the mini-fridge and then heading towards the door.
“Yeah,” Finn says, sounding more like he’s just responding in the way he thinks he’s supposed to than like he’s really agreeing with Puck.
Puck waits for Finn to get his shoes on, then steers the two of them downstairs and outside. Puck starts to head towards his bike, then frowns. “Did you drive?” he asks Finn. Finn shakes his head. “Okay, you take the helmet,” Puck says, continuing towards his bike.
“I don’t think I can fit in your sidecar, dude.”
“You can sit behind me,” Puck says, then grins, trying his best to make it sound like a big joke. “You can be my old lady.”
“Sure,” Finn says, finally cracking a real smile.
Puck hands Finn the helmet and climbs on, waiting until he can tell Finn is at least somewhat settled before starting the bike. It doesn’t take long to drive to Finn’s, and Puck pulls up along the curb.
“Anybody else home?” Puck asks. “Just ’cause I’d rather go eat than play Twenty Questions with your mom right now.”
“I’ll just run in,” Finn says. He hops off the bike, handing the helmet to Puck. Puck shivers a little, propping the helmet on his leg as he watches Finn walk inside.
“Nice ass,” Puck mutters as the door shuts behind Finn, once he’s sure Finn can’t hear him. Puck doesn’t have anywhere he has to be, so he’ll stick around Lima for at least a few days and give Finn a chance to talk about it or not. He’s sure Rachel’s already left or leaving before the day is over, so at least Finn won’t have to run into her.
Finn comes back out before Puck can get too cold, and he holds his hand up for Finn to toss him the sweatshirt. Finn swaps the sweatshirt for the helmet and climbs back onto the bike behind Puck. Puck does his best not to think about the fact that he’s driving around with Finn behind him on the bike, and he heads towards the Golden Corral via the most direct route he can think of.
“Ready to eat everything?” Puck says as he parks.
“I guess so,” Finn says.
“There’s still, what? Six weeks of winter left? We need insulation,” Puck says as they walk inside. “How long do you have before the kids perform? Four or five weeks?”
“Yeah, four weeks.”
“Are you doing the setlist the day of, or a day before?” Puck jokes.
“I was thinking we’d have the kids work on it on the drive there,” Finn says.
“You’re ready to direct a group on your own.” Puck nudges Finn and smiles a little as they get in line for the main buffet. “Do you have enough teacher-clothes?”
“Not really. I’ve got a couple of decent-looking sweaters,” Finn says. “I kind of wanted to see if I was really any good at it before I got anything else.”
“No, I think you have to have the sweaters, and they make you better at it,” Puck says.
“Maybe. I’ll give it until Regionals,” Finn says.
Puck nods and makes a mental note to remind Jake to kick the rest of them into gear, because Finn needs a win somewhere. Puck never really thought about Finn teaching or anything, but he seems to like it, which means Puck’ll do his best to make sure the kids do their part.
After Puck and Finn eat as much as they can and head back to the bike, Puck realizes he needs to make sure Finn doesn’t mind being functionally kidnapped. “I was going to head back to my mom’s,” he tells Finn. “She’ll let us steal the television or something.”
“Yeah, sure, that’s cool,” Finn says. “Not like I’ve got anybody expecting me anywhere.”
“Once my mom sees you, she’ll expect you to stay for dinner,” Puck points out, handing the helmet to Finn again. Finn gives Puck the almost-genuine smile again as he straps the helmet on.
Puck swerves to avoid a pothole on the way to his mom’s, which means he hits a smaller bump, and as the bike rattles a little, Finn’s arms really tighten around Puck, like Finn is planning on singlehandedly holding Puck upright and possibly like he’s going to keep Puck from hitting the pavement. Puck grins to himself, and he knows it’s probably good they’re still driving and he’s not staring at Finn.
Puck is more or less right about his mom, the television, and dinner all, and after dinner, he and Finn sprawl out in the living room again. “You got to head to the school tomorrow?” Puck asks.
“Yeah, but not until the afternoon,” Finn says, frowning and looking sad again. “I’m not sure if Schue’ll even be there.”
“Well, you can crash here, then,” Puck says.
“You sure? I don’t want to put you or your mom out or anything.”
“You don’t want me to have to listen to her try to guilt me for letting you leave, do you?” Puck asks.
“I guess not,” Finn says. They keep watching the TV in silence for a while, then Finn says, softly, “Thank you.”
Puck reaches over and punches Finn’s shoulder without any force behind it. “Dude.” He wants to say it’s what you do for your best friend, no matter how old you are, but if he’s being completely honest, he knows it’s not just that.
Finn nods, and they keep watching television until Puck at least is having trouble keeping his eyes open. By the time they wake up the next morning, Puck’s mom and sister are gone for the day, and Puck decides not to push Finn to say anything or talk about anything until after he’s finished with the kids.
Puck drives Finn over to McKinley on the bike, letting Finn wear the helmet again. After Puck kills the engine, he tells Finn to text if he wants a ride after, and what time, and then Puck watches Finn head into the school. It’s just as nice of an ass as it was the previous morning, but the pants fit Finn even better, and that’s probably why Puck has to shake himself a little before putting on the helmet and starting the bike long after Finn goes through the door.
Can I still get a ride?
After sending the text to Puck, Finn sets his phone down on his leg and watches the last few students being picked up by their parents in front of McKinley. Puck doesn’t respond, but he pulls up on his bike five minutes later, taking off the helmet and whistling once.
“Hey,” Finn says, walking over to the bike. “Thanks.”
“No problem.” Puck hands Finn the helmet and waits for Finn to climb on. “Anywhere you don’t want to go?”
“Home,” Finn says. He sits behind Puck, putting his arms loosely around Puck’s waist. There may be some kind of acceptable two-dudes-on-a-motorcycle protocol about how to hold on, but all Finn can think about is one or both of them falling off.
“Got it,” Puck says over his shoulder, then starts the bike up again. He drives around the parking lot once, then pulls out and heads more or less straight for the Lima Bean. “Figured hot chocolate was good after being on the bike.”
“Yeah,” Finn says, leaning close to Puck’s head so they can hear each other over the engine. “Sounds good.”
Puck nods and turns back to the road, killing the engine before walking the bike up on the gravel next to the parking lot. “Kids behave?” he asks. “I could give my brother a lecture.”
“They were great. Jake’s great,” Finn says.
“Lies. He’s related to me,” Puck says as they walk inside. “Medium or large?”
“Large,” Finn says. “My hands are kind of numb. Guess I need to get some gloves if I’m gonna be sitting on the bike a lot, huh?”
“You need the fingerless kind so you don’t have to take ’em off all the time,” Puck says, ordering a large hot chocolate and a large coffee before paying for them. “I’ll be glad when it gets warmer out here, though.”
“Not planning on going back to L.A.?” Finn asks.
Puck shakes his head and takes a sip of his coffee. “No,” he says finally. “I can’t see myself there long-term, you know? And it turns out part of what I like about pool cleaning is the months off.”
“Yeah, I can see that,” Finn says. “That’s kind of the part I like about working with Mr. Schue, is knowing I don’t have to do it the whole year. I could do something completely different the rest of the time.”
“Exactly, yeah.” Puck hands Finn his hot chocolate and walks over to a table, watching Finn for several seconds. “You want to talk about it?”
Finn sits down at the table, looking down at the hot chocolate. “Not much to talk about,” he says. “Not really.”
“That doesn’t mean you don’t want to, though,” Puck says. Finn shrugs and shakes his head, sipping his hot chocolate. “That’s not a no.” Puck squints at Finn and drinks more coffee before setting his cup down. “Come on. Don’t let it fester and get infected.”
“Ew. That’s gross.”
“You’d better start talking or I’ll find an even grosser way to talk about it,” Puck says, looking proud of himself.
“Oh my god, fine,” Finn says. “It sucks and I’m miserable. Happy?”
“Dude, I could have figured that part out. What are you thinking?”
Finn shrugs again. “I don’t know. I guess I’m thinking I probably shouldn’t have hooked up with her at the wedding. The not-wedding. Whatever.”
“Okay.” Puck nods slowly. “But you know you didn’t, like… cause her to be….” Puck trails off and shrugs. “Rude, I guess.”
“I feel like I probably talked her into it or something, though,” Finn says. “Or she just assumed it would feel the same for me as for her, not something serious that meant much of anything.”
Puck nods again. “How do you, you know. Feel about her?”
“She’s Rachel. I was gonna marry her. I love her.”
“Look, you know that for the first two years of glee club, I probably was second behind you in terms of people liking Rachel,” Puck says. “I’m not trying to pull her down. But I want to make sure you’re not giving her a pass, is all.”
“I’m not. I’m just saying I shouldn’t have assumed she thought it meant what I thought it did,” Finn says. “We didn’t talk about it, and we probably should’ve, but we didn’t.”
“If she’s in town again, are you going to hook up again?”
Finn shakes his head. “I can’t do that again. God, that sucked. That sucked so freaking much, waking up and she was just— just gone.”
Puck winces and nods. “Yeah, I bet. But okay. So you’ve got to do one of two things.”
“Yeah?” Finn takes another sip of his hot chocolate, waiting for Puck to answer.
“Well, you can keep loving her, in that creepy-ex-from-afar way, or you can work on making it all past tense.” Puck studies Finn for a few seconds and shakes his head. “I don’t think you can really make the creepy ex thing work, dude. It doesn’t really suit you.”
“I don’t want to be the creepy ex,” Finn says. “So what do I do? What happens the next time she shows up?”
“Be busy doing something else. Or someone else. Or both,” Puck says, half-smiling. “Make a list of all the things she ever did that hurt you or irritated you. That might not work, but hey, it might. Just don’t let her think—or you—that you’re, I don’t know. Being the creepy ex waiting in the alley or something.”
Finn sighs and nods his head. “It just gets a little, you know. Lonely.”
“Yeah. That part sucks, too,” Puck agrees. “I mean, hooking up’s fun and all, but usually there’s no meal involved. Or a movie. Or talking.”
“And it’s not like a bunch of new people are showing up in Lima all the time. It’s pretty much the same dating pool as last year and the year before,” Finn says.
“Yeah.” Puck plays with the cardboard sleeve on his coffee cup for a few seconds, then shrugs. “Online dating?”
Finn grimaces. “I filled out a profile thing for one of those a couple of months ago, but I kept getting messages from all these women in their 40s, plus some guy who wanted to know if I was into the leather scene. I didn’t even know there was a leather scene. How is that even a thing?”
“There’s a leather scene in Lima?” Puck says, sounding grudgingly impressed. “Okay, maybe uh… concentrate on other parts of your life for now?”
“Technically, I think he was in Findlay. There's some kind of bar up there."
“Still,” Puck says. “I ended up in a leather club by accident one night in L.A.”
“Seriously? What was it like?” Finn sets his hot chocolate down.
“Well, I was confused at first,” Puck says a little sheepishly. “And people were looking at me pretty oddly, since I wasn’t really dressed for the leather club. Then a dude offered to let me blow him, but I didn’t really get a good vibe there, so I ducked back outside. Place I was looking for ended up being a block down and across the street.”
Finn can feel his eyes widening. “So it was a gay leather club?”
“Yeah, it was down in West Hollywood.”
“Did you know it was when you went there?” Finn asks.
“I just told you I didn’t mean to go to the leather club,” Puck says, half-smiling again and playing with his coffee cup more.
“I mean did you know it was a gay club,” Finn says.
“Yeah, most of the bars around there are.” Puck takes a drink of his coffee and doesn’t look directly at Finn. “Figure everyone deserves a chance at this, right?”
Finn knows his eyes are even wider now. “So, are you…” He waves his hand around a little to encourage Puck to fill in the blank.
“Bi? Yeah.” Puck shrugs. “L.A. was a good chance to fool around.”
If Finn’s eyes get any wider, or if his eyebrows go any higher, he’s probably going to run out of room on his face. “Well. Okay. Cool.”
Puck shrugs again. “It’s not a big deal. Or it doesn’t have to be.”
“Sorry. No, it’s not a big deal,” Finn says. “Seriously, it’s cool.”
“But yeah, leather’s not really my scene.”
“I think it’s probably not mine, either,” Finn says, trying to get his eyes and eyebrows back under control. It’s not entirely a surprise that Puck’s bi, but it is kind of a surprise that he’s actually hooking up with guys and telling Finn about it. It gives Finn a weird feeling, not bad, but like he’s not quite make some connection he should have made. Something about it bothers him, even if he can't put his finger on what. There's something there, though, and it feels important.
“Yeah, I don’t think so.” Puck shakes his head. “You crashing again tonight?”
“You don’t mind?”
“You should, before I float out of Lima again,” Puck says.
Finn nods. “Where to? Not back to L.A.”
“I don’t know. I’ll circle back through, probably. Maybe I’ll figure out what I want to be when I grow up, even,” Puck says with the same half-smile.
“You could always come co-co-run the glee club with me,” Finn says.
“Nah. You’re actually good at that,” Puck says, shaking his head. “It’s not something just anyone could do.”
Finn shrugs. “You’d be good at it, too.”
“My skill set’s pretty limited. I’ll find something sooner or later, I guess,” Puck says. “Should we—” He stops and laughs. “No, we should not stop and grab a pizza, ’cause there’s no way to hold onto it.”
“We could order one from your place, though,” Finn says. “My treat.”
Puck knows he’s doing the right thing as he gets on the interstate. He knows it’s the right thing because he doesn’t really want to leave. The minute Finn started talking on Monday afternoon at the Lima Bean, Puck knew it would be easy to stay and take advantage of Finn. Once upon a time, Puck would have done that, but it’s been years since that version of him, and he doesn’t want the temptation to go back. Even just a few weeks away will be enough, he thinks.
Two hours down the road and a couple of hours with free wifi gives Puck an idea of what direction he’s going to head, and thirty-six hours after leaving Lima, he’s in a different state with a job and a temporary place to stay. He’s in a tourist trap in Tennessee, and the job is weird, bringing more food to people watching a show, but it’s supposed to pay decently well, especially given his overall lack of experience. It’s also far enough away from Lima to keep him from doing something really stupid.
Forty-eight hours and two shifts later, Puck remembers that he technically didn’t need to get a job. He could just sit around the national park with his laptop and try to work on his screenplay, and he’ll still do that when he’s not at work, but most of him doesn’t want to hang out alone all day. He’s not sure why he thought he would, when he made the plan back in L.A. Puck has the suspicion that in the back of his head, he was thinking about hanging out all spring with Finn.
After his third shift, Puck decides to call Finn, walking down one of the side streets away from traffic noise before sitting down on a bench and calling Finn’s number.
“Hey!” Finn says when he answers. “Where’d you end up?”
“Tennessee,” Puck says. “Near the national park. How’s it going?”
“Same, pretty much. Takes more than five days for anything interesting to happen in Lima, remember?”
“That’s a bad attitude. You should go and make something interesting happen,” Puck says.
“Not sure I’m up for the leather bar in Findlay, dude,” Finn says, laughing a little.
“Hey, even I didn’t try that place,” Puck says. “Definitely make something different than that happen. Are you keeping my brother in line? I still say you were lying about him being a good kid.”
“Well, there was some trouble about a girl at one point. There was karate face-chopping. It wasn’t pretty.”
“I… okay, yeah, that sounds more like someone related to me,” Puck says, shrugging a little even though Finn can’t see him. “You want me to swing back through around Regionals?”
“Yeah, that’d be great!” Finn says, sounding so happy that it makes Puck want to pull up stakes and drive right back to Lima.
Puck lets himself grin for a few seconds, shifting on the bench so he can prop his arm on the back of it. “Cool. You want any souvenirs?”
“From Tennessee? What do they even have?”
“A lot of candy, stuff with bears on it, and airbrushing,” Puck admits. “You want a t-shirt with your name airbrushed on it?”
“Uh. Probably not,” Finn says. “I won’t turn down candy, though.”
“Got it. Some candy and a super-hot airbrushed t-shirt. Now some tourists are glaring at me for taking up the bench, so I guess I’m getting up and walking. Go have some fun or something.”
“Yeah. I’ll go find my leather and head up to Findlay, dude.”
“That’s the spirit. Later, dude.” Puck ends the call and stands up, nodding somewhat mockingly at the elderly tourists who were glaring at him. The next day before work, he leaves Pigeon Forge and heads into Gatlinburg, where he gets a huge box of assorted flavor taffy and a t-shirt airbrushed with a bear in front of a mountain on the front and Finn’s name on the back. That accomplished, he figures he can spend the rest of the three weeks before Regionals just working.
Puck works the early show on Tuesday, and when he gets off work, he calls Finn as he’s walking to his bike.
“Hey! How’s Tennessee?” Finn asks when he answer the phone.
“Smokey,” Puck says with a snort. “What’s new in Ohio?”
“Well, I didn’t go to the leather bar.”
“Yeah? Where did you go?” Puck asks curiously.
“We’re not going to discuss it,” Finn says.
“I’ll get it out of you one day. What else is new, then?”
“Oh, shit, did you get a tattoo?” Puck asks.
“Wha— no!” Finn says. “Yeah, I’m totally an impulse tattoo-getter.”
“Just checking. What did you actually do?”
“I might’ve signed up for college,” Finn says.
“That’s a good thing, right?” Puck says, feeling a little confused.
“I guess. Maybe.”
“In Lima, right? You didn’t sign up for any kind of study abroad or anything?”
“Yeah, Puck, I’m going to Belgium to study tattoos,” Finn says. “And yeah, in Lima.”
“Somebody probably does. Awesome. If you’re not studying tattoos, what are you studying? Leather bars?” Puck asks with a laugh.
“That wasn’t a no!”
“No, I’m not— teaching, dumbass. I’m going to school for teaching!” Finn says.
“I hope they teach you not to call the students dumbasses. Cool. Still working with the kids, too?” Puck asks.
“Yeah, kind of. Not so much. Or really very much at all.”
“Dude, what happened?”
“Maybe we’re not discussing that either,” Finn says.
Puck leans against his bike, frowning a little. “Should I still drive up for Regionals?”
“Yeah, if you still want to,” Finn says. “You can crash at my dorm or something.”
“Run out your roommate? Cool,” Puck says. “See you in a few weeks, then.” Puck stares at his phone after he ends the call, then turns around and heads back into work.
It takes him five minutes to find his manager and fifteen minutes to convince his manager that he’s serious, that he wants to get his last paycheck and walk away. The manager talks about how he’ll make sure Puck won’t work anywhere in Pigeon Forge again, but that wasn’t really a concern Puck had.
Puck spends one more night in Pigeon Forge and eats breakfast at the pancake place in Gatlinburg before heading north. His mom doesn’t even look surprised when he shows up for dinner. He spends a couple of hours online, finishing up finding the information he called about when he stopped for lunch, and his mom doesn’t look surprised when he tells her he’s moving right back out the next morning, either.
It only takes Puck ten minutes and a fifty-dollar bill to convince Finn’s old roommate to move into a different room, and thirty minutes later, Puck is mostly unpacked and talking to some other people who live on the same hall. Finn might be surprised, but Puck knows he’s definitely going to be a better roommate than whoever Finn was supposed to be living with.
Puck flops onto the top bunk after a bit, and not long after that, he hears Finn unlocking the door – or at least he assumes it’s Finn, since no one else should have a key.
“Hey,” Puck says without sitting up.
“Uh. Hey?” Finn says, sounding confused. “I thought you said a couple of weeks.”
“I didn’t like the dinner show business that well.” Puck rolls onto his side and looks down at Finn. “I did bring your souvenirs.”
“Do they have bears on them?” Finn asks. He sets his backpack on the ground near the bed, grinning at Puck. “I’m glad you’re here, dude.”
“Wait until you see your souvenirs then,” Puck says, grinning back. He hands Finn the huge box of taffy first. “There’s one more thing.”
“Yeah?” Finn unwraps a piece of taffy, stuffing it into his mouth, and offers the box to Puck.
Puck takes a piece but doesn’t unwrap it. “It’s a masterpiece,” he tells Finn. “You’re going to want to change right now.” He grabs the t-shirt and shakes it out, front facing Finn.
“Oh my god,” Finn says, staring at the t-shirt. “Oh. Wow.”
“It gets better!” Puck flips the shirt around and laughs. “See?”
Finn starts to laugh, too. “Oh my god. That’s amazing, dude. That’s fucking amazing.” He keeps laughing, shaking his head as he starts to pull his shirt off. Once his shirt hits the ground, he says, “Well, give it to me, so I can wear this masterpiece to dinner.”
“The fine rednecks of Gatlinburg send their compliments or whatever,” Puck says as he hands Finn the shirt. “What’s for dinner?”
Finn pulls the bear shirt on. “Someplace where I can show off my new shirt, obviously.”
“And somewhere you feel comfortable telling me about all this stuff you claim we’re not discussing,” Puck says, climbing down from the bed. “Your old roommate was kind of stuffy.”
“He wasn’t so bad,” Finn says.
“Dude, he dressed like the old men in your mom’s LL Bean catalogs, and he didn’t get my music references or superhero references.” Puck shakes his head. “I paid him fifty to change rooms.”
“I thought you’d rather have me in here than him.”
“Well, yeah, of course,” Finn says. “So you’re sticking around a while?”
“I’ve got enough cash for awhile. If you’re game,” Puck says with a shrug.
“I missed having you around,” Finn says, putting his arm across Puck’s shoulders and giving him one of those sideways dude-hugs.
Puck grins at him. “Well, you don’t have to now.”
“Get off my back, dude. I’ll get the paper done,” Finn says. Puck’s only been there for four days, and he’s already started nagging Finn about getting his work done, which is pretty big talk from somebody who almost didn’t graduate. Not that Finn would ever say that out loud to him, because it would be a shitty thing to say, but he does think it at Puck pretty hard every time Puck asks him about his Lit paper.
“Yeah, but if you get it done now, we can go out tomorrow night and you don’t have to get up the next morning,” Puck says, sounding like he thinks it’s the most reasonable thing he’s ever said.
“It’s not due until next Tuesday. I could go out tonight and still not have to get up,” Finn says.
“You’ve got that sociology exam on Tuesday, and you’ve got an essay for your education class to write either Monday or Tuesday for Wednesday’s class,” Puck says, shaking his head. “You won’t have time unless you get the paper done now.”
“Are you my mom or my secretary?” Finn grumbles, flopping down onto his bed and opening his laptop, pulling up his Lit paper, even though he hates giving Puck the satisfaction.
“Live-in motivational speaker,” Puck says, hanging over his bunk and grinning at Finn. “Also your mom never made you do all your homework after, like, fifth or sixth grade.”
“Whatever. I’m working on it, okay?”
“Awesome.” Puck pulls himself back up out of sight. “I’m just making sure you do great.”
“Yeah, yeah, lucky me,” Finn mutters. He does spend the next three hours working on his paper, Puck occasionally asking him how it’s going, to which he just glares, mostly, though one time he flips Puck off. He gets the paper finished, at least, so that’s one less thing to worry about. He shuts his laptop and stands up, stretching.
“We’re walking over to the Chinese place now,” Puck announces, jumping down from his bunk like he was just waiting for Finn to stand up.
“Yeah, but you’re buying,” Finn says.
“I’m buying, you’re talking,” Puck says. He throws one arm around Finn and starts steering him from the room. “Not about the kids yet, that’s later. The other thing you said you weren’t discussing.”
“Nope,” Finn says. “I said we weren’t discussing it ’cause we’re not discussing it.”
“Who’s your very best friend in the world?”
“You, but we’re still not discussing it.”
“We totally are, dude. It’s Lima, and you didn’t get a tattoo, so it can’t be that weird,” Puck says.
“I didn’t say it was weird,” Finn says. “I didn’t actually say anything about it at all.”
“Okay, so it was something awesome, and you still don’t want to talk about it?” Puck says skeptically.
“Yeaaah, ‘awesome’ isn’t the word I’d use,” Finn says.
“What was it? Come on, give me a hint at least,” Puck whines.
“No. Maybe when we get to the Chinese place.”
Puck frowns. “Is it embarrassing?”
“A little,” Finn admits.
“Like went to the wrong class embarrassing? Someone pantsed you in front of the kids embarrassing? Is that what happened?”
“No!” Finn says. “It was, I don’t know. A little embarrassing. Mostly just pathetic.”
“I just figured Sam or Artie might’ve. What was it? Dude, I worked at a dinner show in Pigeon Forge for a week.”
“Yeah, I think they would, and yeah. I brought out more fried chicken. Pretty good tips.”
“Huh. Cool, I guess,” Finn says. “But nobody pantsed me. It’s not that kind of embarrassing. It’s not like anybody I know saw me, as far as I can tell.”
“Did you go to a tattoo place?”
“Why are you so obsessed with tattoos?” Finn asks.
“No idea,” Puck admits. “So just tell me. See, there’s the Chinese place already down there.”
“So, I kind of went to this bar,” Finn says.
“You went to a bar. Did you get kicked out? Do you need a fake ID?”
“No, they didn’t even card me. And, uh, not a regular bar.”
Puck gives him a funny look. “I thought you said you didn’t go to the leather bar.”
“Then where’d you go?” Puck opens the door to the Chinese place, half-bowing and gesturing for Finn to go in first. Finn shakes his head at Puck as he walks in, and he doesn’t answer Puck’s question until they’re seated.
Finn leans across the table and says in a low voice, “I went to… Scandals.”
“You went to the crappy gay bar?” Puck asks. “Why?”
“Because it’s the only one I know of anywhere around here,” Finn says.
“Okay…” Puck trails off. “Then why the gay bar, period?”
“I don’t know,” Finn says. He leans back in his seat, arms crossing over his chest.
“You just, what? Wanted to try it out?”
“I shouldn’t have said anything,” Finn says. “See? This is why I didn’t want to discuss it.”
“I’m just trying to understand why. That’s all,” Puck says.
“It probably wouldn’t make sense. You’ll just think it’s stupid.”
“Dude.” Puck gives Finn a look, frowning at the same time. “Try me.”
“It’s just, we have so much stuff in common, you know? We like so much of the same stuff. Movies, music, ice cream flavor. I just thought—” He cut himself off, shaking his head. “I thought if you liked it, maybe I should try it, too, so we’d have that stuff be the same, too.”
Puck doesn’t say anything for a long time, looking down at the table and then over Finn’s shoulder. “And?” he finally says.
“It was just sad,” Finn says. “Everybody there was way older than me, and they all just looked really pathetic and sad, so I had a beer and I left.”
Puck keeps frowning, drinking some of his pop and then digging into the food as soon as it arrives, but he doesn’t say anything, not even to ask Finn to pass the soy sauce. He nods or shakes his head when the server comes by, and he reaches for the check, still quiet, after they finish eating.
“Will you just say something?” Finn finally says.
“Everything’s the wrong thing to say,” Puck says as he puts cash with the check and then stands up.
“No it’s not. If I can tell you that, you can at least say something,” Finn says. “Are you mad at me or something?”
Puck laughs, but it’s short and bitter. “Maybe at me. Trust me. None of it needs said.”
“What? Do you think I’m stupid? Is that what it is?” Finn asks, starting to feel a little panicked. “Because I just wanted to see?”
“Not you,” Puck says grimly. “I don’t think you’re stupid.” He walks with his arms crossed for a few feet, then drops them.
“Then what? I told you I was embarrassed about it, and now I really feel dumb,” Finn says.
Puck doesn’t immediately respond, just keeps walking for at least a minute. “And that’s how you’re going to figure it out?” he finally says, snapping at Finn. “Go to a crappy gay bar in the middle of rural Ohio, like you don’t know anyone in the damn world?”
“What am I supposed to do, Puck? Call up Kurt? Be all ‘hey, can I come crash with you and my ex, oh and by the way, can you take me to a really not crappy gay bar while I’m there?’ or something?” Finn says, his voice getting louder and louder. “Maybe I should go to the leather bar and see if somebody offers to blow me, huh?”
“I guess so, if that’s what you think of,” Puck says, throwing his hands up in the air. “Have fun with that, then,” he adds, and now his voice is just cold.
“If I’d known you were just gonna act like a jerk about it, I wouldn’t have told you!” Finn yells. “I guess you’re the only one who gets to go to gay clubs, huh, or are the ones you go to just better because they’re not in Lima?”
“Yeah, Finn, that’s it. That’s why I’m mad. Totally.” Puck rolls his eyes and shoves his hands in the pockets of his jeans. “I mean, that’s the only reason you can think of why I would be? Really?”
“I don’t know why you’re mad! I also don’t even care anymore,” Finn says. He turns around and starts storming off in the other direction, away from Puck and the dorm.
“You fucking know me!” Puck yells after him.
“Right now I wish I didn’t!” Finn yells back over his shoulder.
“Where the hell are you going?”
“Fuck off!” Finn shouts, walking faster. Puck keeps shouting, but Finn keeps walking, and Puck must decide not to follow him, because by the time Finn reaches the end of the street, he doesn’t hear Puck’s voice anymore. By the time he’s walked a little over a mile, Finn has decided on a plan, so when he gets to the next corner he sticks his thumb out.
Hitching a ride is harder than it looks on television, but after Finn’s had his thumb up for about twenty minutes, an SUV pulls up, the window rolling down. The SUV is full of vaguely familiar-looking guys.
“Hey, you go to U of Lima, right?” the driver asks.
“Yeah. I’m trying to get up to Findlay,” Finn says.
“Cool, no problem,” the driver says, and the guys in the back seat slide over so Finn can get in.
Finn doesn’t have the guys drop him off at the leather bar, just in the general vicinity of it, and he waits until they’ve driven away to start walking in the direction the map on his phone had indicated. By the time he gets there, it’s dark out. The parking lot of the club has a lot of motorcycles in it, and Finn almost laughs to himself at the thought of Puck probably fitting in better at a leather bar than he thought he did.
The bouncer doesn’t ask Finn for ID, just like the guy at Scandals didn’t, and Finn walks into the bar. It’s smoky and loud, and smells like leather, sweat, and beer. Pretty much everyone in the bar but Finn is in a similar outfit, jeans or leather pants, leather vests or weird strappy things, and leather hats. A couple of guys have leather jackets and one has on a pair of leather chaps with nothing under them but a little tiny pair of leather underwear.
“Let me get you a drink,” one of the guys in leather pants and a leather hat says to Finn. “Let me get you two, actually.”
“Oh. Thanks,” Finn says, trying not to stare at anybody or look like he doesn’t belong, even if his jeans and t-shirt kind of make him stand out. He smiles at the guy who offered him the drink. “That’s really cool.”
The guy orders Finn two different drinks and tells the bartender to add them to his bill before nodding at Finn and walking over to a few other people. Finn drinks both drinks, and before he can talk to the bartender himself, the bartender sets another drink in front of him.
“From that guy,” the bartender says, nodding his head in the direction of a bald guy in a leather vest at the end of the bar.
“Cool. Tell him thanks, I guess?” Finn says, but the bartender just shakes his head and turns away. Finn drinks that drink, too, looking around the bar at all the men there. None of them look like anyone he has a burning need to get a blowjob from, but since that’s apparently the thing to do in leather bars, he tries to find somebody who isn’t too terrifying. When he looks back at the bar, there’s another drink in front of him, so he drinks it for luck.
Finn has been in the bar for about a half-hour and has polished off a fifth drink—some sort of fizzy and fruity thing this time, which seems kind of out of place in a leather bar—when he sees a man in a leather vest, no hat or leather pants or chaps or anything, who looks less scary than most of the other people the bar. His eyes seem nice, kind even, so Finn thinks he’ll go try the whole picking-someone-up thing on that guy.
He’s a little unsteady when he starts to walk in the man’s direction, but he gets his balance back fairly fast, and he tries to make eye contact and smile. He’s not sure he really managed it, since the guy in the leather vest looks more amused than anything else.
“Hi,” Finn says to the man. “So, um. Hi.”
“Hello,” the man says, still looking amused.
“So, uh. Do you, uh.” Finn looks around the bar, feeling a little dizzy and increasingly panicky. “You know. Do you want to, I don’t know.” He waves one hand around a little. “Whatever people say to make stuff happen.”
“What’s your name, son?”
“Finn,” Finn says. “My name’s Finn.” He squints at a patch sewn onto the front of the man’s vest. “And your name is… Big Al. Hi, Big Al.”
“Are you old enough to be in here?” Big Al asks.
Finn’s forced smile falters slightly. “Well, they, uh, let me in, so I guess I must be?”
“And why did you decide to come here tonight?”
“Because Scandals is a crappy bar,” Finn says. “And, and, and I told Puck I was going to go here. Or should have gone here.” He scrunches up his face while he tries to remember. “One of those. There was yelling. We yelled.”
“That place in Lima?” Big Al shakes his head. “So you had a fight with your boyfriend, huh? And decided to get shitfaced here.”
“What? Huh? You asked a lot of questions all at the same time,” Finn says. “So, did you want to do something? Whatever people do? At bars?”
“I think we should call that boyfriend of yours,” Big Al says.
“No! And he’s not my boyfriend. And no,” Finn says. “He’ll yell at me. All I wanted to do, I told him that all I wanted to— oh hey, you’re really tall. That’s funny, ’cause usually I’m really tall, but I guess I’m not right now. Really tall.”
“Fights always feel bigger than they are the next morning,” Big Al says. “But we need to call, because you can’t drive home.”
“I didn’t drive. I hitchhiked. I was just gonna hitchhike back later, after I did leather bar stuff,” Finn says.
“What did you say his name was, again? Puck?”
When Big Al says Puck’s name, Finn suddenly feels extremely sad. As he nods, his eyes start to tear up a little. “Yeah. He’s Puck, and he’s mad at me, and all I did was try to go to a bar like him.”
“Let me see your phone,” Big Al says, holding out his hand. “I’ll talk to Puck for you.”
Finn gets his phone out and hands it to Big Al. “He’ll probably tell you I didn’t do it right or something, but I did, because I can meet people at bars, too, not just him!”
Big Al chuckles. “Yeah, that’s probably what he’s afraid of.”
“But he went to bars and clubs and stuff, like all kinds of places, when he was in L.A., and I just wanted to see if I was like him, ’cause then we’d have that, too, you know?” Finn explains, still crying a little. “I wanted to have that, too, ’cause I don’t have anybody else but him, it’s just him and me, and nobody else.”
Big Al nods and starts a call, presumably to Puck, and after a few more seconds, he says, “No, this is Alvin Taylor, and I’m here with Finn up at the Doghouse.”
Before Big Al can say anything else, Finn can hear Puck say “The fuck?!?” really loudly. When Finn hears how angry Puck sounds, he really starts to cry, loudly sobbing as tears run down his face.
“No, no, he’s just pretty drunk, and he says he hitchhiked up here,” Big Al says. He’s quiet for a minute, then repeats “The Doghouse” and an address before hanging up.
“I’m sorry,” Finn sobs. “I’m sorry. Is he mad? He’s mad. I’m sorry, Big Al.”
“Let’s get you some fresh air,” Big Al says, gesturing for Finn to head outside. He gets a glass of water from the bartender and follows Finn outside. “I told him you weren’t hooking up with anyone or anything. You can leave out how you approached me, if you want to,” Big Al says.
Finn sits down on the curb in front of the bar, still crying pretty hard. “I’m not even gay,” Finn says, in between sob. “I just wanted to see. Then we’d have that the same, too.”
Big Al hands Finn the glass of water. “Drink that. So Puck is gay?”
Finn drinks the water, coughing when he gets some down the wrong way, and he nods. “No, he’s bi. He went to lots of clubs in L.A. He goes to clubs, so I don’t know why I can’t. It’s not my fault Scandals is crappy. Everybody there is old and they’re all so sad and they all have on polo shirts.”
“I hope he’s not still in L.A., or we’re going to be waiting a long time,” Big Al says.
“No, he’s in Lima,” Finn says. “Why did he get so mad? I didn’t make him go to the crappy gay bar.”
Big Al gives him an even more amused version of the original amused look. “Not so mad to leave you stranded in Findlay.”
“But why was he mad?”
“I think you’re going to have to ask him that,” Big Al says.
“I couldn’t even find somebody to do stuff with me. I wasn’t even good at going to the bar,” Finn says. “But guys bought me drinks! But now I’m outside and Puck’s mad at me and nobody wanted to do stuff with me.”
“And did you want to do stuff with some of the gentlemen here?”
“No, they all looked scary,” Finn says.
“Then that worked out fine,” Big Al says. “I think leather’s not your scene, Finn.”
“I don’t have a scene. I’m just lonely,” Finn says, which makes him start crying harder again. He cries until he hears the rumble of a motorcycle that sounds familiar, then he wipes his face on the back of his hand. “That’s Puck.”
The motorcycle stops close to Finn, the engine turning off, and Puck says quietly, “Fucking hell, Finn.”
“I think he’ll be okay to ride,” Big Al says. “Some of the guys were buying him drinks.”
“I didn’t ask them. They just did,” Finn says to Puck.
“Yeah, everyone just volunteers to buy you drinks,” Puck mutters. “Here.” He pulls out a second helmet and hands it to Finn.
“That’s Big Al,” Finn says.
“We’ve talked,” Puck says. “Put your damn helmet on.”
“I put my number in your phone,” Big Al says, handing Finn’s phone back to him. “In case you ever need to talk.”
“Thanks, Big Al.” Finn puts his phone back in his pocket, then he glares at Puck. “Don’t yell at me!”
“You’re the only one yelling,” Puck says. “But we can’t leave until you put it on.”
“I didn’t do anything wrong!”
Puck doesn’t answer. He just sits on his bike, looking grumpily at Finn. Finn crams the helmet onto his head and buckles it.
“Happy?” Finn asks.
“You’re welcome,” Puck says over his shoulder as he revs the engine.
Finn doesn’t put his arms around Puck. He grabs the edge of the seat with both hands, gripping it tightly.
“You’re going to fall off, dickhead,” Puck says as he gets to the edge of the parking lot.
“So then I have to deal with your mother, and I don’t get paid enough for that,” Puck snaps.
“You can bring her fried chicken,” Finn says.
“The fuck is your problem?” Puck demands. “Just fucking hold on so we can get back. You’re not five.”
Finn huffs, but he puts his arms around Puck, holding on even tighter than he usually would. Once Finn’s arms are in place, Puck speeds up, going faster than he’s ever gone with Finn riding on the back. Everything is moving too fast for Finn, so he closes his eyes and leans his head forward, so the unhelmeted part of his forehead rests on Puck’s shoulder.
Puck doesn’t say anything to Finn on the drive. He parks in a space in front of the dorm and turns off the bike, but Finn doesn’t move his head off Puck’s shoulder or let go of him.
“I want to go to bed,” Puck finally says with a sigh. “Can we go inside?”
“Are you still mad at me?” Finn asks.
“No, I’m super-excited you propositioned a leather daddy or whatever you were doing there,” Puck says flatly.
“I didn’t do anything,” Finn says, letting go of Puck and standing up. As soon as he swings his leg over the bike, though, he promptly falls over, landing on his knees and palms on the blacktop. “Ow.”
“Good fucking—” Puck stops and climbs off the bike, then offers Finn one hand. “And probably not for lack of trying.”
“So it’s okay for you, but it’s not okay for me,” Finn says, ignoring Puck’s hand and pushing himself unsteadily back up onto his feet. “I see how it is.”
“I really don’t think you do. Come on. I have a first aid kit.”
“Fine,” Finn says. He starts to walk towards the door, tripping over the curb and falling over again. “Ow!”
“Dammit, Finn,” Puck says, pulling Finn’s arm over his shoulders. “So you are into leather. Great.”
“Huh? No I’m not!”
“You’re the one that went there.”
“Because Scandals is crappy,” Finn says. He lets Puck haul him towards the dorm. “You said it was a crappy gay bar.”
“It is a crappy gay bar,” Puck argues as they head inside the door. “What the fuck do you want me to do, drive you to Cincy and fake-smile while you hook up in the back room?”
“I don’t want to hook up! I want you to take me serious!”
“Yeah, right. You don’t want to hook up, you just keep insisting on going to gay bars,” Puck says.
“You go to gay bars,” Finn says.
“Yeah. To hook up.”
“So what’s your problem, then?” Finn asks. “Why’re you being how you’re being? And why can’t I go to bars, too?”
“Because you’re probably not anything even close to bi, because you’ve never been someone that hooked up, because even if you were looking for a hookup, really? That’s how you’re going to fucking do it?”
“Maybe I want to try something different!” Finn says. “That’s how you do it! It works for you!”
Puck unlocks the door, scowling at it, and almost pushes Finn towards the bed. “Yeah, and you’d rather do that with some fucking stranger. Fine.”
“You do it with strangers. You go to bars. I just wanna be like you!” Finn insists. “I wanna be like you are. I like being like you.” He lies back on the bed, closing his eyes. “I like it when we like the same stuff. It makes me happy.”
“Yeah, you’ve made it crystal clear this is one time we don’t.” Puck’s voice is flat. “Don’t be like me. I’m not good at anything and I don’t have what I want.”
“But you could go anywhere you wanted and you came here to me,” Finn says. He keeps his eyes closed, hoping the room will stop spinning and his hand will stop hurting and Puck will stop being mad.
“Yeah, I did, so what does that tell you?”
“I just wanna be like you,” Finn says softly. “I want you to want to stay.”
“Don’t. Don’t say that. You don’t want to be like me. You’re better than that. I fucking know it, okay?” Puck pauses and the desk chair creaks. “Wanting to stay isn’t the issue.”
“I drank too much drinks.”
“I’m sorry,” Finn whispers.
“For what?” Puck says, and now he just sounds weary. “You can’t help what you like.”
“I dunno what I like.”
“Can’t help what you don’t like, then.”
“I don’t like the leather bar. It’s scary. But not Big Al. Big Al is nice. He called you on the phone.”
“Yeah. He did,” Puck says with a sigh.
“I didn’t wanna do stuff with the leather guys,” Finn says. “I just wanted to see.”
“See what?” The desk chair squeaks again. “You’re not making any sense. Either you wanted to do stuff or not.”
“I wanted to see if I wanted to.”
Puck is quiet for a long time, and then he opens a drawer and walks over to Finn. “Well, now you know,” he says in a weird voice. “You’ve got a whole list of people you don’t want to do stuff with.”
“Nobody wants to do stuff with me,” Finn says. “People just want to leave me.”
“Or the people who want to do stuff with you are on your list of people you don’t want to do stuff with. Hold out your hand so I can clean the dirt off.”
Finn holds out his hand. “If I did stuff with people I wanted to do stuff with, they’d probably leave, too.”
Puck wipes Finn’s hand methodically, then puts a bandaid on it. “Other hand. I guess I could beat them up for you,” he says sadly.
Finn holds out his other hand, and even though Puck sounds sad, Finn starts giggling. “Stop hitting yourself,” he says. He rolls a little, eyes still closed, and reaches out with his already-bandaided hand to grab Puck’s arm, flopping Puck’s arm towards his own body. “Stop hitting yourself.”
Puck jerks his arm away and then walks across the room. “Yeah, you’re funny,” he says, starting to pace back and forth.
“It’s funny ’cause you said you’d beat them up, and— remember when you used to make me punch myself in the head? That was funny. Mom didn’t think it was funny, but it was funny.” Finn opens his eyes to watch Puck pace. “And I made you hit yourself, ’cause you said you’d beat ’em up, so I made you beat you up, see? It is funny. I’m very funny.”
“Yeah, I remember. Glad it’s amusing,” Puck says. “Since you already made it pretty clear that wasn’t likely to be necessary.”
Finn doesn’t feel like any of it is very funny anymore. In fact, he feels like maybe he wants to cry again. “What if you left?” he says.
“That requires the ‘doing stuff’ beforehand to fit your scenario,” Puck says. “So I don’t know why you’re worried about it.”
“Yeah. What if you left?” Finn repeats. “What if we did and you left?”
“Why would that happen?” Puck says roughly. “You’ve got all of Scandals and Kurt and New York City and the Doghouse to go through.”
Finn’s eyes start to tear up again, so he rolls away from Puck, facing the wall. “Yeah,” he says in a quiet voice. “I’m just being stupid. Sorry.” He holds very still, even when he starts really crying again, and he doesn’t make any noise either.
“Why’re you crying? Sorry if I don’t want to be your last choice,” Puck says after a minute or two passes.
“I’m not crying,” Finn says, still crying and holding very still.
“You’re definitely crying.”
“No I’m not. Shut up.”
Puck starts pacing again. “For real, what’s your problem? You were hoping I’d be around for backup?”
“Shut up,” Finn says again. “This is why I didn’t want to tell you about Scandals, ’cause you’re mean, you’re being mean, and you’re saying all this stuff, and it’s mean, and it’s not even right, it’s just mean.”
“Oh, yeah, that’s great. I’m mean. You run all around western Ohio, but I’m mean.”
“Leave me alone,” Finn says. He shuts his eyes tightly and curls up on his side.
“First I’m not supposed to leave, now you want me to leave you alone,” Puck mutters. “First you’d rather go to Scandals and New York and a leather bar, and then I’m mean for not being okay with being after all of that.”
Finn doesn’t answer, because none of that even makes sense, and he curls up more, tears still running down his face. He must fall asleep like that, because when he opens his eyes again, the room is quieter, and he doesn’t feel so dizzy anymore. He slowly rolls onto his back, looking around the room. Puck is still in the desk chair, asleep sitting up.
Finn sits up and grabs a blanket, because Puck should at least have a cover, but as soon as he starts to stand, he has to drop the blanket and bolt for the trashcan, where he barfs until he dry heaves.
“Shit,” Puck says sleepily, the chair scraping and Puck’s feet hitting the floor. “Are you— oh. You made it to the trashcan.”
“I tried to get you a blanket,” Finn says, dry heaving over the trashcan again. “I dropped it.”
“Yeah, you were drunk. Needed to keep an eye on you,” Puck says. He takes two or three steps towards Finn, then stops abruptly. “I’ll just…”
“I’m okay. I’m okay.” Finn dry heaves over the can again. “Sorry.”
“Water?” Puck says after another minute passes. Finn nods. Puck crosses the room, opens the mini-fridge, and then walks over to Finn, handing him a water bottle.
“Thanks,” Finn says, taking the bottle from Puck.
“No problem,” Puck says quietly, sitting back down in the desk chair.
Once Finn is sure he’s not going to barf again, he ties up the top of the trash bag, then sits up, his back pressed against the door. He stares at Puck for a few minutes, wishing Puck would say something, but he doesn’t.
“Are you gonna leave now?” Finn asks. “I don’t want you to.”
“I’m not going anywhere,” Puck says quietly.
“Please don’t, okay? I know you’re mad. I don’t understand why, but I know you are. Just don’t leave.”
“Some things don’t change. I might as well be here as anywhere else with them.” Puck shrugs. “I’m not going anywhere.”
“I need to brush my teeth,” Finn says.
“I’m not going to leave while you’re brushing your teeth.”
“I’ll be right back,” Finn says. He gets to his feet a little unsteadily, but manages to get his toothbrush and toothpaste. He grabs the trash bag, too, on the way out, and drops it into the larger can in the bathroom before quickly brushing his teeth.
When he gets back into the room, Puck is asleep again, still in the chair and facing the door this time. Finn puts a hand on Puck’s shoulder.
Puck grunts and turns towards Finn’s hand, but he doesn’t open his eyes. Finn slips his arm between Puck’s back and the chair, pulling him up onto his feet. “Finn?” Puck mutters confusedly.
“Can’t sleep in the chair,” Finn says. He guides Puck to the bottom bunk, helping him lie down, then pushing him towards the wall. He lies down on the bed next to Puck, partially because he wants to make sure Puck can’t just wake up and leave, but partially because everything else that night had been crazy, but Puck’s still here, and he’s something solid Finn can rely on, because at least he hasn’t totally messed it up yet.
Finn drapes one arm over Puck and moves so his head is on the pillow and Puck’s head is under Finn’s chin. A few seconds pass, and then Puck snuggles back against Finn, pressing against him.
Finn sighs and rests his chin on the top of Puck’s head. “Please don’t be gone when I wake up,” he whispers to Puck.
The first thing Puck registers when he wakes up is that he’s being thoroughly and comfortably spooned, and he keeps his eyes closed and his breathing even, because it feels good. When who it is—Finn—and why come rushing back into his brain, he feels guilty for enjoying it so much, but he still doesn’t move.
He’s been telling himself for a year that he wasn’t going to react this way. That if Finn ever showed any sign of bisexuality, that he wouldn’t be surprised if Finn liked people who weren’t Puck. That he wouldn’t expect Finn to pick him. He just didn’t expect it to hurt quite so much, and reviewing the night in his head, it still hurts. Scandals. Kurt and New York City bars. Big Al and the Doghouse.
Puck knows he shouldn’t have gotten so mad, but he was so surprised and then hurt, he started lashing out. He goes back over the last part of the evening, with Finn laughing and then crying before falling asleep. Puck had tried to stay awake, in case Finn threw up, but he’d woken up to the sound of Finn retching, and then Puck had fallen asleep again while Finn was brushing his teeth.
Puck only barely remembers Finn insisting that Puck lie down, and he hadn’t had the energy to fight it. He does remember Finn whispering for Puck not to be gone when he wakes up, which doesn’t completely make sense to Puck.
It makes sense in that Puck knows Finn is afraid of people leaving, of being quietly gone, which is part of why Puck had been so open about the fact that he wasn’t in Lima for good, back at the failed wedding. But Finn had been talking about people he was “doing stuff” with leaving, and Puck isn’t one of those people. Puck goes back over everything Finn said after they got back to the dorm, and maybe he could make a case that Finn actually was implying he would want to “do stuff” with Puck, but that’s a little crazy-making.
Puck decides maybe the best thing to do is to ask Finn, once Finn has some water and ibuprofen in him. Getting an outright no, which seems the most likely result, will hurt like hell, but he doesn’t want to fight anymore, either. He can’t tell if Finn is still awake, so he keeps lying there with his eyes closed. Finn wanted Puck to be there when he woke up, so that’s where Puck will be.
Puck isn’t sure how long he lies there, and it’s possible he dozes a few more times before Finn’s arms start to move, stretching above his head, and then Puck hears him groan a little.
“Morning,” Puck says quietly.
“I feel like I died,” Finn says, sounding pitiful. “I died and got brought back and I’m a zombie now, and my arms and legs are falling off.”
“You need ibuprofen and a lot of water,” Puck says.
“I need you to bury me so my spirit can move on,” Finn says, with another extra-pathetic groan.
Puck snorts in an attempt not to laugh. “No, you need ibuprofen. Which I’ll get you in a minute or two.”
“I feel awful.”
“Yeah, I know.” Puck sighs. “I promise you’ll feel better in about an hour, if not before.”
“Can we just go back to sleep?” Finn asks. “Try again later?”
“You’ll still need water and painkillers. I’ve got the liquigels in the first aid kit. They work faster.”
“Okay,” Finn says, curling up around Puck again.
“I can’t go get them like this, though,” Puck points out.
“Okay,” Finn repeats, shifting so the back of Puck’s head is tucked under Finn’s chin.
“Or like this, either.”
Puck sighs when he realizes about thirty seconds later that Finn is asleep again. “Dude,” he says softly. “I told you I’m not going anywhere.”
Another hour or so passes before Finn starts stretching a second time, and Puck says “Morning” again, even though it’s possibly afternoon already.
“Hey,” Finn says. He sounds a little less pitiful this time, at least. “What time is it?”
“Probably closer to one o’clock than morning,” Puck admits. “How’s your head?”
“I can get you that ibuprofen?”
“Yeah, that sounds good,” Finn says. He rolls away from Puck, and Puck manages to climb over Finn without hitting his head more than once. Puck shakes out four of the liquigels and gets a bottle of water out of the mini-fridge before walking back over to Finn.
“Sit up just a little,” Puck says. “Not too fast or too far.”
Finn nods, wincing, and then slowly sits up until he’s propped to a roughly forty-five-degree angle on his pillows.
“Here,” Puck says quietly, putting the ibuprofen in Finn’s hand before opening the water bottle and offering it to him. “Drink all of the water.”
“Thanks,” Finn says, downing the pills and the water. When the bottle is empty, he sits up a little more. “And, you know. Thanks.”
Puck shrugs and goes back to the mini-fridge, pulling out what looks like the last water bottle and handing it to Finn, too. Then he walks over to the desk chair and sits down. “Drink that one too. Let me know when the ibuprofen kicks in.”
“Okay,” Finn says. He drinks the second bottle of water more slowly, closing his eyes after he’s finished it.
Even before Finn says anything, Puck suspects that the ibuprofen has kicked in, because Finn looks a little less pasty and his face looks like it relaxes a little. “Better?”
“Yeah,” Finn says. “I think it’s working. My head doesn’t feel like it’s imploding anymore.” He opens his eyes and gives Puck a small, sheepish smile. “Thanks.”
“I told you I’d still be here,” Puck says, shrugging again. “Maybe don’t mix your liquor again, though.”
“Yeah, that was dumb. The whole thing was dumb. I feel really stupid,” Finn says.
Puck nods slowly. “Yeah?”
“Yeah. I can’t believe I did that. I’m sorry you had to go drag my stupid ass home,” Finn says. “That was just so stupid.”
“Big Al could have turned out to be a criminal or something,” Puck says, mainly because he doesn’t want Finn to think all forays into random bars are going to go so well – if the night before can be said to have gone well.
“Oh, shit, you’re right,” Finn says. “I could’ve been murdered or robbed or something!”
“Yeah, I don’t think that was how you wanted the evening to end.” Puck’s not completely sure how Finn did want the evening to end, but he’s pretty sure how he didn’t want it to end.
“Big Al was cool, though. He was really nice. I’m glad he called you. I mean, I’m sorry he called you, because then you had to drive all the way up to Findlay, but I’m glad, too.”
“Well, yeah, better than the alternative,” Puck says with a sigh, shaking his head a little. “Dammit, Finn.”
Finn’s face falls. “What?”
“I don’t even know where to start,” Puck admits.
“Start with what? What are you starting?”
“What conversation?” Finn asks. “Puck, I’m really confused.”
“You’re confused?” Puck mutters. “You’re the confusing one.”
“Huh? How am I confusing?”
“You go out looking to hook up with someone or whatever, but you don’t want people to leave afterwards, and you spend the whole night talking about places to go and meet random people, and then you drag me into bed and tell me not to leave. That’s confusing.” Puck shrugs and doesn’t look at Finn, suddenly wishing he’d eaten something before they started talking.
“Oh,” Finn says, his voice quiet. “Is that— it happened like that?”
“The whole fucking night,” Puck repeats. “You went to the fucking leather bar, because apparently that’s a better choice, but what? I’m a good consolation prize?” Puck doesn’t really feel angry anymore, just vaguely sad on top of the hurt.
“What? No! Puck, no, that’s not— I didn’t mean for you to—” Finn breaks off, frowning, his eyebrows drawn together.
“What did you mean, then?”
“I just thought, you know, maybe…” Finn shrugs.
“Maybe what? No, I don’t know,” Puck says. “I just— you know, you were straight, and that’s cool, but now you’re experimenting or whatever, and I never thought I’d be your last choice.”
“Puck, that’s not what it was,” Finn says. “It’s not like that.”
“No, I’m pretty sure it was that.” Puck sighs and walks over to the mini-fridge, trying to find something to eat. “Pretty sure there’s not a lot else you could have done to make it clearer.”
“But that wasn’t it,” Finn insists.
“And I wouldn’t even say anything. I’d forget about it or whatever, except then you pull that bullshit about not leaving.” Puck pulls out the Chinese leftovers that he doesn’t really remember bringing back and stands up again. “So that was pretty crappy.”
“I didn’t want to be wrong,” Finn says. “I couldn’t take a chance if I could be wrong.”
“Wrong about what?”
“About me!” Finn says.
“What about you?” Puck asks, nearly flinging Chinese food around the room. “You aren’t making any sense.”
“I know! Everything is very confusing,” Finn says. “But you weren’t my whatever-you-said. Concession prize.”
“Then what was I?” Puck asks. “Convenient? Here? I can’t figure this out.”
“No! Puck, no, it’s not like that. It’s like the complete opposite of that! I couldn’t just— I mean, not with you, not if I didn’t know, you know?” Finn’s eyebrows squish together even more. “I had to see if I really was, ’cause I couldn’t have done that to you, and I couldn’t have stood it if— aaargh! I can’t make it sound like it makes sense! But it, does, I swear it does, Puck, it makes sense to me.”
Puck stares at Finn as he chews, trying to figure out exactly what Finn is saying. He’s got years of figuring out what Finn’s trying to get across, which helps, but he keeps eating for another minute or so before he puts the Chinese food down. “And you thought, hey, I’ll figure this out, but make sure to tell Puck alllll about these other people? That made sense to you?”
“Hey! You’re the one who made me tell you about Scandals!” Finn says. “And it’s not like I went there to have sex or something! I just wanted to see if, you know, I liked guys, or if it was just you, or if I was confused because of the Rachel stuff, or what. I wasn’t there to hook up.”
“Okay, there’s like fifty things in there, but I sure as hell didn’t make you tell me about New York gay bars, or make you go to the Doghouse, and again, you thought it made sense to tell me all of that?”
“Well, you were mad at me, and then I was mad at you, and since it didn’t seem like you wanted me to see if I liked guys, I figured that meant, you know. You didn’t want me to.” Finn shrugs. “So I was mad.”
“Finn. Think really hard about why I might not want that. Why I might be mad.”
Finn huffs loudly. “But if I didn’t like guys, then me and you couldn’t ever get together, and then everything would be ruined, so I had to make sure, so I wouldn’t ruin everything!”
“And I got a phone call from Big Al that he was with you, which by the way was really fantastic wording, especially after you’d told me you were going clubbing in New York,” Puck says. “Yeah, that doesn’t sound bad at all.”
“Don’t be mean about Big Al! He’s nice!” Finn says. “He made me give him my phone so he could call you to come get me, and he kept calling you my boyfriend. Big Al is really nice!”
“I don’t know what you want me to say. ‘Great, go hang out with Big Al more’? ‘Let me drive you to a different gay bar’? Dammit, Finn, you’re killing me here.”
“I don’t need to go to a different gay bar, because I figured it out already!” Finn says, voice raised.
Puck throws his hands up. “Figured out what?”
“That it doesn’t matter if I’m bi enough to like any other guys if I like you!” Finn yells at him.
“Don’t. Don’t play with me.”
“I’m not. I’m not! That’s why I wanted to be sure, because I wouldn’t do that to you, and I couldn’t handle it if— I’m not, okay?” Finn says. “It just, I never thought about it, that somebody could be your best friend and you like them like that, but when you were talking about the clubs in L.A., I felt weird. The more I thought about it, the weirder I felt, and then I thought, well crap, I think I’m jealous. I didn’t want you to be with the random club guys, but I couldn’t just tell you that.”
Puck blinks a few times. “Okay,” he says slowly. “You couldn’t?”
Finn shakes his head vigorously. “Because if I was wrong, and it was something else, I didn’t want to do to you what Rachel did to me, but also…” His eyebrows squish together so hard they look like they’re going to pop off, and he looks like he’s on the verge of just bolting out of the room all together.
“If it was just a hookup for you, and in the morning you were gone, like Rachel… Puck, I think I would just die,” Finn says. “It would be worse than Rachel, so much worse.”
“I’m not going anywhere,” Puck says. “I told you that.”
“You told me that as my best friend. Things are different when it’s, you know, this.”
“Not exactly. You interpreted it that way,” Puck says.
“I didn’t ever think people got to have all of it with one person,” Finn says. “I didn’t realize people could be with their best friend, and then I didn’t want you to think that just ’cause you’re bi that I expected you to want to be with me, and I didn’t want you to think I was rebounding on you or something like that. I didn’t want to mess it up, but I messed it up anyway, because I’m just too stupid.”
“Stop that. You’re not stupid.” Puck stands up and paces around the room a few times before stopping and looking at Finn. “I didn’t realize until right after Nationals, last year,” he says quietly.
“I didn’t realize until after you’d left for Tennessee and I couldn’t stop thinking about you going to clubs,” Finn says. “I really didn’t want you to go to any more clubs.”
Puck half-smiles. “But you thought I wouldn’t mind you going?”
“Yeah. I thought that since you went to clubs, and you hooked up with people, that was probably what you wanted,” Finn says. “But you could’ve gone anywhere. You could’ve gone back to L.A. or up to New York or to some other place, but you came back here, and you moved into my dorm.”
“Yeah. I did. Back to Lima.”
“Back to me?” Finn asks.
“Yeah,” Puck says, his smile getting a little wider. “Back to you, you enormous leather bar–crashing dork.”
“Hey! I didn’t crash! The bouncer guy let me right in!”
“No, you kind of did,” Puck says. He walks over and sits down the edge of Finn’s bed. “Jealous, huh?”
“Yeah,” Finn says. “And it sucked.”
“Yeah. It really does.” Puck makes a face at Finn. “We maybe won’t talk about some of the things I’ve done because I was jealous?”
“We won’t discuss it,” Finn agrees.
“So… just so we’re clear, I’m pretty much stupid in love with you.”
Finn’s face relaxes into a huge smile. “Yeah?”
“Yeah.” Puck grins back. “Like I keep telling you, I’m not going anywhere.” Puck might get tired of saying it, and Finn might even get tired of hearing it, but Puck’s going to keep repeating it anyway, to make sure Finn gets it.
Finn’s smile widens. “I believe you,” he says.
“You’d better,” Puck says, then leans in to kiss Finn. He barely brings their lips together, pulls back a little, and then kisses Finn again, with a lot more pressure and his lips slightly parted. Finn’s eyes widen in surprise, but he kisses back enthusiastically. Puck smiles against Finn’s lips and puts one hand on Finn’s shoulder before wrapping the other around Finn’s neck, fingers spread wide. He tilts his head a little more and then runs his tongue very lightly over Finn’s lips.
Finn’s lips part, the tip of his tongue flickering against Puck’s. Puck’s hand moves a little over Finn’s shoulder, one finger of his other hand barely touching Finn’s hair and almost playing with it, and he slides his tongue into Finn’s mouth. Finn puts his arms around Puck’s waist, pulling him closer and holding him tightly, like he does when he’s behind Puck on the bike.
Puck kisses Finn a little harder, his lips still moving slowly on Finn’s, and he runs his hand down Finn’s shoulder and upper arm to his forearm, then back up, rubbing his thumb along Finn’s collarbone. Finn squirms, not exactly twisting away, and he laughs against Puck’s mouth.
“Ticklish?” Puck asks, his lips still against Finn’s, and he runs one finger along the same part of Finn’s collarbone. Finn squirms again, laughing louder. “I guess so!” Puck moves his head enough to lick the same path before he grins at Finn. Finn moans softly this time instead of laughing. Puck grins and briefly kisses Finn’s neck before putting his tongue back on Finn’s collarbone, dragging it slowly up. Finn moans again, pulling Puck even closer.
Puck keeps running his tongue along the same part of Finn’s collarbone, both hands on Finn’s upper arms, then slowly moves to Finn’s other side, licking that part of Finn’s collarbone equally slowly. He slides one hand down Finn’s arm and back up, over Finn’s neck and into his hair. Finn runs his hands down Puck’s back, sliding them up under Puck’s shirt, stroking along his skin.
“So collarbone, huh?” Puck says, his voice muffled by his lips pressing repeatedly along Finn’s collarbone and neck.
“Yeah, I guess so,” Finn says. “I didn’t realize that.”
“Cool.” Puck keeps his mouth on Finn’s collarbone a little longer, then brings their lips together again, his hands both in Finn’s hair. He kisses Finn as slowly as he can stand to, moving his lips and tongue against Finn’s and paying attention to every movement Finn makes. Finn’s hands slide farther up Puck’s back, tracing along his shoulder blades and then down his spine.
Puck moves as close as he can to Finn, one hand dropping from Finn’s head to his neck before Puck rubs it across Finn’s shoulders repeatedly. He kisses Finn harder and lets his other hand almost drift forward, resting on Finn’s cheek. Finn’s hands keep stroking Puck’s back.
“Holy shit, I love you,” Puck says softly after a few more minutes pass with the two of them touching and kissing.
Finn pulls away slightly, his eyes shiny. “You do?” he asks, voice soft. “Really?”
“Yeah. Really,” Puck confirms, nodding a little. “A little scary everything love.”
“Too scary?” Finn asks.
“No. Not too scary.”
“Good,” Finn says. “You know I love you too, right?”
Puck half-smiles. “I figure you’d have to, as much as you like me around.”
“Yeah, I like you around,” Finn says.
“Good.” Puck kisses Finn again, then laughs. “Aren’t you glad you finished your lit paper yesterday?”
Finn grins at Puck. “Yeah. Guess it’s a good thing I listen to you, huh?”
Finn closes the dorm room door behind them and leans back on it, laughing. “Well, I guess we’re more obvious than I thought we were.”
“I wasn’t even touching you,” Puck says, smiling widely as he drops onto Finn’s bed. “You know what it means, though.”
“We can make out in public?” Finn guesses. He sits down on the bed next to Puck.
“Not only that, we should definitely join, since they’re not going to care if we take up an entire sofa while making out,” Puck says. He scoots up against Finn’s side, his arm going behind Finn’s back. Finn takes that as a sign to kiss Puck, which is probably the right thing to take it as, since everything is a sign to kiss Puck. He puts one hand on the back of Puck’s head and pulls him in, and Puck leans in, kissing back enthusiastically.
Puck uses the hand behind Finn to pull Finn closer as they continue kissing, his other hand going up the front of Finn’s shirt. He moves his hand in slow circles, then pulls back and laughs a little.
“Maybe not when we go watch the kids at Regionals tomorrow, though,” Puck says.
“Yeah, I don’t think that would help them with the judges,” Finn says.
“Plus…” Puck trails off and frowns a little.
“Like, people here are cool, but can’t you see some of the people we’ve known a long time saying shit?” Puck says after a few seconds pass.
“Oh yeah,” Finn says. “What about Jake, though? Or Kurt? They’re probably gonna find out eventually.”
“Jake’ll probably throw us a party. I mean, of course they will, just maybe not yet, you know?” Puck says. “And it’s kind of nice being away from some of them, I’ve realized.”
“Yeah. It is. And I kind of like having you to myself,” Finn says, leaning forward to kiss the side of Puck’s neck.
“We can slip in, slip out, and we can each call our brothers later in the week for more details?” Puck suggests as he tilts his head to the side.
“Mmhmm,” Finn hums against Puck’s neck, making little swirls with his tongue along Puck’s skin. “Next week. Next month.”
“You got some plans for tomorrow evening and Sunday?” Puck asks.
“Other than this?” Finn asks. “Nope.”
Puck runs his hand up Finn’s back. “Awesome.”
All the making out and the cuddling that follows it—they’re taking things surprisingly and pleasantly slow—means it’s more like ten days, nine days after Regionals, before Finn gets around to actually talking to Kurt, and that only happens because Kurt calls Finn. Even then, Kurt has to call Finn’s phone twice for Finn to work up the effort to stop kissing Puck and answer.
“Hey Kurt,” Finn says, sitting up so the phone isn’t smushed against Puck.
“Hello, invisible brother,” Kurt says. “I’ve been in town for several days, and I haven’t seen you at all.”
“Yeah, I haven’t been very public, uh, visible,” Finn says. “What’s up? You sound happy.”
“Well,” Kurt drawls. “You owe me congratulations!”
“Yeah? Did you win something?”
“I’m engaged!” Kurt blurts.
“Oh. Oh! Hey, that’s— oh, wait. To who?” Finn asks.
“Blaine, of course. I was surprised I didn’t see you at the proposal, actually. Almost everyone else was there. Did you have an exam?”
“Everyone was at your proposal? You threw a proposal party and didn’t invite us?” Finn asks.
“No, no, Blaine proposed at Dalton, with everyone there,” Kurt says. “And he gave a beautiful speech and got down on one knee and— us?”
“Yeah, me and Puck,” Finn says. “And Blaine threw a proposal and invited everybody, and didn’t invite us? That’s kind of harsh. I mean, congrats and everything, but still.”
“Oh, that’s right, I heard Puck was back in town. I— I just assumed you had an exam or something,” Kurt says, sounding confused. “Dad even drove me over to Dalton.”
“Nobody told me. I guess they could’ve tried and I just didn’t answer my phone, but I don’t remember missing a call from Blaine or Burt or anybody,” Finn says.
“Oh, well, maybe it was just an oversight. Blaine probably thought Dad would call you, and Dad probably assumed Blaine already had,” Kurt says with a short laugh. “That makes me feel even better. I’d say that we should get together, but I’m flying out in the morning. Maybe the next time I’m in town, you could have dinner with Blaine and I?”
“Yeah, me and Puck could probably swing that,” Finn says. “When’ll you be back, do you think?”
“Oh, I meant— I don’t know. Maybe in May, but it might be August, since I’ll be taking classes this summer,” Kurt answers.
“Yeah, probably me, too, since I’m a couple quarters behind. I guess me and Puck’ll stay in the dorm for now, but maybe we’ll get a real apartment for next year.”
“Oh? Puck’s actually taking classes?”
“Not yet,” Finn says. “He’s really motivating for me to get my stuff done, though, and I think he might start in the fall.”
“Well, good for him. And you, of course. Good luck with the rest of your quarter.”
“Yeah, you too,” Finn says. He ends the call and sets the phone down, rolling towards Puck. “I don’t think he gets it.”
“Probably not. Why are we congratulating him?” Puck asks.
“He and Blaine got engaged! Blaine planned some big thing and didn’t invite us,” Finn say, putting an arm around Puck and pulling him close.
“Like a… performance proposal? And I thought they broke up.”
“I don’t know. I thought so, too, since Blaine cheated and everything, but I guess they worked it out,” Finn says. “Kurt said everybody was there, but nobody bothered to let us know.”
Puck snorts. “That’s not how you propose, anyway.”
“No? What’s the right way to do it?”
“Just like, you know, hey, want to take a roadtrip?” Puck says. “Have to save up some money and let a few people tag along, but there’s even handy maps of which states to pick from.”
“That sounds more like a surprise wedding than a proposal,” Finn says.
“Nah,” Puck says with a laugh. “Because of the saving up money part.”
“I think it sounds nicer than whatever they did, anyway,” Finn says. “It’s better we weren’t there. I think it was probably more fun doing whatever we were doing.”
“Well, yeah. And it’s weird to get engaged to someone you aren’t even dating.” Puck shrugs and then smiles widely. “Hey, you want to take a roadtrip?”
Finn grins and pulls Puck against his chest. “Do you mean that kind of roadtrip?”
“Mostly I was thinking about the break between quarters.”
“Aw. Too bad,” Finn says.
“Why too bad?”
“I would’ve gone on that kind of roadtrip,” Finn says. “Just, you know. For the record and everything.”
“Good,” Puck says, kissing Finn. “But money, remember.”
“We’ll figure the money part out,” Finn says. “Money’s just details. We’re big picture people.”
Puck knows he should have expected the call from his mom, since it’s been at least six weeks since the one night he spent with her before moving into the dorm. She knows he’s alive, because he’s liked a couple of her Facebook statuses, but he hasn’t actually talked to her, so the phone call one morning, that happens to fall while Finn’s at class, isn’t a huge surprise.
Once he reassures her that he’s fine, and also that he’s not planning on crashing at her place for any length of time, she starts in on a combination of her two favorite topics: temple, and settling down.
“You should come to dinner Friday night, and to temple on Saturday morning,” she says. “And maybe you could bring someone with you?”
Puck laughs. “You know how you’ve said you want me to settle down with a nice Jewish girl?”
“Yes?” she says, sounding a little too excited.
“Only got one of the three. Will that do?”
“What?” Puck almost laughs at the disappointment in her voice. “She’s not even nice?”
“Nice, yes. Jewish, no. Girl, no.”
“Noah!” Puck waits for more, and after a few minutes of silence, she starts laughing. “That was clever.”
“Uh… thanks?” Puck shrugs. “I mean, I guess I could bring him.”
“Where did you meet? What’s his name? Yes, bring him!”
Puck laughs again. “Mom, it’s Finn.”
“Oh. Oh. Well, of course you should bring him. I’ll see the two of you Friday night, Noah.”
She hangs up before Puck can respond, and he stares at the phone for a minute. “Of course you did it that way,” he says to the empty room. “Now I have to break the news to Finn that he’s expected at Shabbos dinner and temple on Saturday morning.”
Puck doesn’t say anything until after Finn’s back from classes and has studied for a couple of hours, but while they’re eating granola bars—dinner’s still a few hours away—Puck glances sideways at Finn.
“So… we have plans Friday night and Saturday morning now.”
“Okay. What plans?” Finn asks.
“Mom wants us to come to dinner. And temple. She did the sneaky hanging up before I could argue thing,” Puck explains.
“So you told her about you and me?”
“I told her out of her ideal ‘nice Jewish girl’, at least you were nice, yeah,” Puck says, grinning around the last of his granola bar. “She sounded a little surprised but not a lot surprised.”
“It kind of makes sense, if you stop and think about it,” Finn says. “I mean, I think we make sense.”
“Yeah, we do. But we can’t stay up too late Friday if we have to show up at temple.” Puck leans to the side and picks up the box of granola bars. “Want another one?”
“Nah, I’m good. Do I even have clothes I can wear to temple?” Finn asks.
“Probably. I can go buy you another sweater or something. I promise nothing with weird designs on it. Like the triangles and snowflakes, none of those.”
“You really want to buy me a sweater?”
“I figured you’d rather wear sweaters than ties,” Puck says. “Right?”
“Yeah, probably,” Finn says. “I don’t like ties that much. I’ve got a few of them, though.”
“Yeah, a few’s enough. So I’ll go to KMart or Walmart or something while you’re in class.”
Finn nods. “Have you thought about maybe taking some classes, since you’re living on campus anyway?”
Puck laughs. “You can take that up with the big guy during temple on Saturday.”
“I’ll get you signed up one way or another,” Finn says. “Wait and see.”
Puck doesn’t respond, just grins and gestures for Finn to start studying again. He does need to figure out something to do, but since he’s living in Finn’s dorm, his saved-up money is more than enough to get through the summer, even if they really do take a trip during the break between quarters, and by the end of summer, Finn’ll have two good quarters finished.
Puck and Finn don’t dress nicely for Friday night dinner, really, but they do put on clean t-shirts, and Puck doesn’t bother knocking when they get there, just uses his key to let them in.
“Hi, Mom!” he calls, then nudges Finn. “Say hi,” he whispers. “Maybe she won’t make us wash the dishes.”
“Hi, uh… Mom?” Finn call out, looking at Puck with a slightly panicked look on his face.
“Oh, you’re here on time,” Theresa says. “I thought you were Annie and Jake.”
“Jake like my brother Jake?” Puck asks, and Theresa nods.
Finn elbows Puck. “You didn’t say anything about Jake!” he whispers.
“Nobody told me about Jake!” Puck whispers back. “I don’t even know who Annie is. Is Jake dating someone named Annie?”
“No, I think he’s still with Marley, maybe?” Finn says. “I didn’t know there was gonna be a quiz on it!”
“You met Annie around the holidays. Remember, Noah? Jake’s mother?”
“Oh, I didn’t know her name.” Puck shrugs. “You didn’t tell me this was a big dinner. Where’s Katie? Is she bringing someone too?”
“Katie’s not old enough to bring someone!” Finn says.
“Of course she’s not, and she’s in her room until the last possible minute, because she’s almost twelve,” Theresa says just as there’s a knock. “And there’s Jake and Annie.”
“I’ll get it,” Puck volunteers, but Finn comes with him since they’re still holding hands and have been since they got off the bike. Puck opens the door and looks at Jake first. “Hey, little bro.”
“Hey, Puck!” Jake says, holding his arms out. Puck gives him a quick hug, complete with pat on the back, which means he has to drop Finn’s hand for a moment. Once Jake lets go of Puck, he looks at Finn, his head tilting to the side. “Finn? I didn’t know you’d be here.”
“Yeah, we’re kind of a buy one, get one free now,” Finn says.
“We didn’t know you’d be here, so that probably makes it even?” Puck says, stepping back from the door so Jake and his mom—Annie—can step in, and in the process takes Finn’s hand again. Jake’s eyes widen as he looks at Puck and Finn’s joined hands, then up at Puck again.
“Theresa’s invited us over several Fridays,” Annie says with a smile. “She did mention she was going to try to make you show up.”
Jake looks down at Puck and Finn’s hands again, before looking back up at Puck. “Wait, so are you and Finn…”
“Yeah. We’ve not been, you know, broadcasting it, I guess?” Puck says with a glance at Finn.
“Yeah,” Finn agrees, nodding. “It’s not like I don’t want people to know. I just don’t really want to have conversations about it with the people I went to high school with, and kind of still glee-coach a little.”
“You know enough of them,” Puck says to Jake. “You know what some of them would be like.”
“Yeah. I get it. I won’t say anything,” Jake says. “I think it’s cool, though. Good for you guys.”
“We think it’s pretty cool, too. I told Mom that I got the ‘nice’ part of the nice Jewish girl thing, at least.”
“I could be Jewish if it’s really important to you,” Finn says, which is a little surprising, since Finn’s never mentioned it before and they haven’t really talked about that kind of thing. Then again, Finn’s never been particularly religious of the Christian variety, except for that one weird week at the beginning of junior year.
“I just didn’t know I needed to be saying ‘girl or boy’ is all,” Theresa calls out.
“What she means is ‘don’t let that one get away’,” Puck says. “Right, Mom?”
“I didn’t say it that way!”
“She likes me,” Finn says, grinning widely.
Puck snorts. “People that don’t like you are stupid.” Finn’s smile gets even sappier, and he squeezes Puck’s hand.
“Oh god, is it going to be like this all night?” Jake asks.
Annie swats at Jake’s arm. “Aren’t you happy for your brother?”
“Oh, yeah, it’s great,” Jake says, turning his head so he can roll his eyes without his mother seeing him.
“Time to eat! Katie!” Theresa calls, and as they go to sit down, Puck leans towards Jake and grins.
“We will find your next date, and we will crash it,” he promises in a whisper.
“Oh, I dare you to try it,” Jake hisses back. “Just try it.”
“When you least expect it.”
Dinner passes without too much eye-rolling from Jake and Katie, who seem to be competing for most exasperated younger sibling, and Theresa even packs up two plates of leftovers for Finn and Puck to take with them, even though Puck’s not really sure Finn can hold onto the food and Puck’s waist.
“Remember, ten in the morning,” Theresa says as Puck and Finn are leaving.
“It’s been ten my whole life, Mom,” Puck points out, and then turns to Finn as soon as the door shuts. “I have no idea if it’s always been ten.”
“I won’t tell if you won’t,” Finn says.
“That’s another reason I love you. Are we going to totally lose the food all over the road?”
“I’m just sticking it in the sidecar.”
“Good, if it spills, the last person in it was Jake, so the next person’ll probably be Jake, too.”
“So, are we really gonna crash his next date?” Finn asks.
“It’d be pretty easy to figure out when it is. We can just drive past Breadstix until we catch him there,” Puck says. “Then we just go in and pull up a chair.”
The food more or less survives the trip back to the dorm, and Puck sticks it in the mini-fridge where it can wait to be either breakfast or a really late night snack. They get up with plenty of time to get to temple, which should make Puck’s mom happy, and while they’re getting dressed, Puck tosses a bag at Finn.
“Told you I would,” Puck says.
“It doesn’t have animals on it, does it?” Finn asks, looking warily down at the bag.
“No animals, no diamonds, no weather things, and no stripes, even,” Puck says.
Finn pulls the sweater out of the bag. “Oh. This is really nice, actually. Thanks!”
“I’m awesome,” Puck says, grinning at Finn. “I was going to find you an extra yarmulke but then I couldn’t find a not-extra one, either.”
“Oh my god, I’m gonna have to get my own yarmulke if I’m gonna be Jewish,” Finn says.
“If you’re serious about that, my mom will probably give you at least ten,” Puck says. “Were you serious about that?”
Finn shrugs. “If you want me to be.”
“You think the yarmulke’s hot, huh?” Puck asks, grabbing Finn’s hand.
“You’re hot, yarmulke or not,” Finn says.
Puck puts his other hand on Finn’s head, pulling him down to kiss him. “Yeah, that’d be cool.”
After they kiss for a minute or two, Finn pulls away and smiles at Puck. “Then I guess we’d better get there on time,” he says.
“Yeah, probably so,” Puck says with a laugh. They do get to temple on time, sitting down with Theresa, Katie, and Jake, which probably makes it the weirdest family grouping there, Puck decides. Near the end, Puck leans towards his mom and whispers “No Berrys at the front?”
Theresa shakes her head slowly. “I heard they’re having ‘problems’,” she whispers back.
“Oh. Too bad,” Puck says, because he feels like it probably is too bad, but it also means that Finn’s not going to get a phone call from Rachel because her dads saw Finn and Puck together at temple.
“Would you two like to join us for lunch?” Theresa asks when it’s over. “House of Hunan, just like we used to, Noah.”
Puck shrugs and looks at Finn. “You want to?”
“Sure. Thanks, Mrs. Puckerman,” Finn says.
“She’s trying to get us to do this every week,” Puck stage-whispers to Finn, and Theresa doesn’t argue with him, just smiles.
“We can, if you want,” Finn says. “I don’t mind. I’ll get really good at being Jewish.”
Puck laughs and takes Finn’s hand as they head to the bike. “Definitely have to give up on the loaner yarmulkes, then.”
After they eat at House of Hunan, avoiding pork after Theresa raises her eyebrows at Puck’s joking about it, they head back to the dorm, and Puck starts to take off his shirt. “That’s probably the weirdest family configuration,” he says.
“It’s nice, though. I’m happy for Jake, having all of you guys,” Finn says, pulling off the sweater Puck gave him and grabbing a t-shirt from his dresser.
“You know why I used to hate temple?” Puck asks, grabbing a t-shirt of his own, then flopping down on Finn’s bed before he pulls it on.
“All the old ladies telling you how cute you are?” Finn asks.
Puck waves his hand. “I actually secretly liked that. Of course I’m cute. Guess again.”
“Having to sit still?”
“That did suck, but no. The timing. Think about how many times your mom had to meet us at temple to pick you up after a sleepover, or my mom came to get me almost before your mom had the pancakes ready.”
“Yeah, that sucked,” Finn says. “But hey, now we can go from temple right back to the sleepover!” He lies down on the bed next to Puck. “See? Sleepover time.”
“I wasn’t planning on doing any sleeping, though,” Puck says, frowning as dramatically as he can. “I had some other plans.”
“When did we ever actually sleep at sleepovers?” Finn asks.
“True.” Puck rolls towards Finn and puts one hand up Finn’s t-shirt. “We didn’t do this at sleepovers either, though.”
“Yeah, that’s too bad, huh? ’Cause we’d be really, really good at it by now,” Finn says.
“Oh yeah? You don’t think we are?” Puck grins and leans in enough to lick at Finn’s collarbone.
Finn closes his eyes and sighs softly. “We’d be good at all of the stuff. We’d have been doing it all for ages.”
“Do you want to be doing more?” Puck asks, kissing the same spot before licking it again.
“Mmm. No, I’m happy with how fast stuff is going,” Finn says. He slides his hand under Puck’s shirt, running it down his side. “I just wish we’d gotten started a few years ago.”
“Yeah.” Puck lifts his head and kisses Finn slowly, sliding closer as they kiss. “This is a pretty damn good way to spend a Saturday afternoon.”
“Yeah. I can’t think of anything else I’d want to be doing,” Finn says. Puck kisses Finn again, just as slowly, and he can’t think of anything else he’d rather be doing, either. They’re taking things at a very unhurried pace, even though this is the first time they’ve actually discussed it. Puck’s sure the people that do know about them would assume otherwise, but he feels like there will be a day or days when both of them will just know that it’s time to go a little further.
Puck hasn’t forgotten, either, what Finn said about people leaving, and even though he’s almost always been there right with Finn, he knows it’s probably not that easy to feel reassured. Not racing along, Puck thinks, probably helps.
“Not going anywhere,” Puck murmurs against Finn’s lips. “I love you.”
“Yeah. I love you, too,” Finn says.
Puck presses closer to Finn. “Maybe a good way to spend a Saturday night, too.”
Finn stuffs their shared duffel bag into the sidecar next to Puck’s guitar, then he climbs onto the back of the bike, wrapping his arms tightly around Puck.
“Okay, I’m ready if you are,” Finn says.
“Traverse City or bust,” Puck agrees. “Helmet strapped on?”
“I said I was ready!”
“Just double-checking. Safety first or whatever,” Puck says, then starts the engine and pulls out, heading north on Main.
“Such a grown-up,” Finn says, pressing his chest against Puck’s back so he can talk close enough to Puck’s ear that he can hear it.
Puck nods a little, then turns when they stop at a red light. “You like it.”
“I love it,” Finn says.
Puck grins. “Hold that thought until we get there, then.”
“I’ll hold you until we get there. How’s that?”
“Also good,” Puck says before turning back to the road as the light changes.
They ride for about an hour and a half before they stop in Bryan at the Debbie’s Dairy Freeze. They sit in the grass next to the Dairy Freeze, where Puck eats a fifty cent chocolate ice cream cone and Finn eats a blue raspberry snowcone. They also take advantage of the stop to make out for a few minutes. The chocolate-raspberry flavor combo is kind of weird, but not weird enough to make them stop kissing. Puck ends up with a little smudge of bright blue on the left corner of his mouth by the time they get back on the bike to head north again.
The next stretch of the drive is pretty boring, and Finn rests his head on Puck’s shoulder and closes his eyes, listening to the sound of the engine and just being generally glad to be alive and in this exact time and place. It’s been another hour and a half when they stop in Mason, nearly an hour past the Michigan border. They eat lunch at Darb’s Tavern before getting on the road again, making a final pit-stop in Clare to get a pop and a snack at the McDonald’s.
“I should make you take this last leg,” Puck says as they sit down in a booth and he stretches.
“Sure, if you want us to crash and die instead of having a nice vacation,” Finn says.
Puck just grins for a few seconds. “So you should get your motorcycle license, then.”
“Probably not right now, in the middle of Michigan, though.”
“When we get back?”
“Okay. I should probably take some kind of motorcycle class, right?” Finn asks. “Like a driver’s ed class.”
“Yeah, maybe? Or I could just take you out to an empty parking lot.”
“Maybe that’s better. I’m already gonna be taking a lot of classes. College classes, Jewish classes, and if I add motorcycle classes, I’m not sure we’ll have enough time left for making out,” Finn says.
“Jewish classes? And I’ll make out with you in between circles of the parking lot.”
“Yeah, I looked it up online a couple of weeks ago, and there’s classes to learn how to be Jewish, so I called the rabbi at our temple and he was really excited I wanted to sign up for those,” Finn explains. “He said nobody in Lima ever wants to convert, so I’ll get a lot of personal attention. I guess I’ll be extra-good at being Jewish when I’m done.”
Puck grins around the straw in his pop, looking about as happy as Finn’s ever seen him look. “Yeah, I guess you will,” he says after a few more seconds.
“You’ll probably have to help me practice the talking parts. It still sounds like a lot of spitting to me,” Finn says.
“Yeah, don’t try to remember which word means what. Just memorize each prayer or whatever,” Puck says. “The Jewish thing’ll be the only thing you don’t get a license for at the end.”
“They don’t give me a card at the end of that or something? I figured I’d at least get a certificate or get my name on some fancy list.”
“I think we throw you a party,” Puck says. “I could make you a license on the computer.”
“Let’s just see how I do first. If I fail at Jewishness, I don’t want you to have gone to too much trouble,” Finn says.
“They haven’t kicked me out,” Puck says, still looking extremely happy. “I think you’ll be fine.”
“Rabbi Greenberg is nice. He said he likes it that we go every Saturday now.”
“My mom really likes it, so everyone’s happy,” Puck says. “You should watch my hands on this last part.”
Finn laughs and shakes his head. “You couldn’t tell I’ve been watching your hands for most of the drive already?”
“Watch me drive, not think about where you want my hands,” Puck says, his smile getting wider.
“I can do both at the same time!”
“Oh yeah?” Puck slides his feet to the floor and starts to scoot out of the booth. “So I guess you’re ready to get to the hotel?”
“Yeah. We can do sightseeing tomorrow,” Finn says.
Puck stands up and offers Finn his hand. “Hotel room’s supposed to have a ‘private terrace’, so we can look at the bay and make out, too.”
“Awesome.” Finn takes Puck’s hand and stands, and they toss their trash into the can on the way out. They both strap their helmets on, and Finn climbs on behind Puck, arms around Puck’s waist again as they start the final leg of their trip. Puck drives straight through the next hour and forty minutes, not stopping until he pulls into a space at Pointes North Beachfront Resort Hotel in Traverse City.
“Wow, this looks really fancy,” Finn says. “This is nice.”
“It’s got those huge tubs,” Puck says, looking pretty proud of himself. “And we’ve got four nights.”
“Can we afford this?” Finn asks.
“It’s not as much as you’d think. But I am going to have to get a job again by the end of August for sure, if not before,” Puck admits. “I was able to save a lot while I was in L.A.”
“Yeah, we’ll both look for something,” Finn says. “I’m sure I could pick some hours up with Burt again, if I need to.”
“You’ll be taking classes full-time,” Puck says, picking up his guitar and handing the duffel bag to Finn before taking Finn’s hand and walking towards the lobby.
“I could still work twenty hours or something. That wouldn’t be too much,” Finn says. “Or maybe I can see if Mr. Schue can make them pay me for helping out with the glee club, if I decide to do that again next year.”
“It seems like they should pay you for that,” Puck says, shrugging a little. He heads up to the front desk and gets them checked in, then hands Finn one of the keycards. “We’re on the second floor. Queen size bed.”
“Oh wow,” Finn says. “That much bed, just for us?”
“I guess we shouldn’t get too used to it,” Puck says as they reach the elevator. “Unless… well, at some point we have to figure out dorm or apartment for fall quarter.”
“If we can afford to get an apartment, we should do that, so we could have a queen size bed every night,” Finn says. He lets go of Puck’s hand and put his arm around Puck’s waist instead.
Puck leans against Finn and waits for the door to close, then kisses him until the elevator stops again. “Yeah, or even a full size. The twin bed’s not really very wide.”
“If we do stay in the dorm, though, we should figure out how to push the beds together instead of bunking them,” Finn says. “A real bathroom would be cool, though.”
“Yeah, we don’t need a big place. Just our own space,” Puck says. He stops in front of their door and unlocks it, heading inside. “Oh, cool. We can actually see out the balcony from the tub.”
“Nobody can see us, though, right?”
“I think we can see over the bed, but they wouldn’t be able to, unless they were floating in mid-air or something,” Puck says, putting down his guitar and kicking off his boots. “Want to try it out?”
“Yeah. This is already an awesome vacation!” Finn says.
Summer quarter starts right after they get back from Traverse City, which means Finn has classes during the week, Friday evenings and Saturday mornings are dinner and temple, and usually Puck and Finn spend the rest of Saturday alone, especially since campus is a lot more deserted over the summer. Three weeks into the quarter, Puck realizes they’ve probably lulled Jake into enough complacency, and after Finn spends most of the day on a Sunday studying, Puck grins at him. “You want to go for a ride?”
“You think it’s a date night?” Finn asks.
“Sunday night in the summer, no school or work the next day, I bet it is,” Puck says, already starting to stand up.
Finn smiles and stands up. “We never did get a chance to show him our vacation pictures, did we?”
“It’d be sad if we had to wait any longer, and this way we can show Marley, too,” Puck says. “Any point checking anywhere but Breadstix?”
“Jake doesn’t really seem like a creative dater to me,” Finn says.
“Yeah, good point,” Puck says, locking the door behind them and heading towards the bike. “If we’re lucky, we’ll get there either right before they order or while they’re eating dessert.” When Puck drives slowly past Breadstix, he does see Jake inside, and he parks on the side of the building. As they get off the bike, Finn cranes his neck to look in the window.
“Score! I see empty dinner plates, no dessert yet, but the waitress is talking to them,” Finn says. “I bet they’ll have a dessert order in before we get to the table.”
“Excellent timing,” Puck says, and when they head inside, they shake their heads at the hostess and point to Jake and Marley’s table instead. Considering they’re wearing motorcycle boots, Jake doesn’t hear them coming, not until they’re pulling chairs out to sit on either side of Marley. “Hey, little brother!”
“Why are you here?” Jake asks. “Why are either of you here?”
“We hadn’t gotten a chance to show you our vacation pictures yet,” Finn says. “Hey Marley.”
“Hi,” Marley says, looking between Puck and Finn. “It’s good to see you. Both of you.”
“I warned you back in the spring,” Puck says with a grin at Jake.
“Yeah, that’s great, so can you leave now?” Jake says.
Finn holds up his phone. “Who wants to see pictures?”
“Not me,” Jake says.
Finn turns to Marley, holding out the phone. “That’s Puck in front of the Sleeping Bear dunes,” he says. “Jake, do you want to see?”
“Wait, let me get the picture of you there up,” Puck says, pulling out his own phone. Finn holds his phone up in front of Jake’s face, and when he lowers it, Puck puts his phone there for a few seconds before showing it to Marley. “See? That dune is huge.”
“Where is that?” Marley asks.
“Traverse City,” Puck answers her. “We went up there during the break between quarters.”
“Oh, here’s both of us in front of the dune,” Finn says, holding his phone up again. He scrolls to the next picture. “That’s us kissing in front of the dune. Jake, did you want to see that one, too? I think Puck has one like it.”
“Already on it,” Puck says cheerfully, holding it up for Jake.
“These are on the beach, on the actual lake side. Puck has the pictures from the bay side,” Finn says.
“Yeah, we got these old people to take these pictures,” Puck says, scrolling through the pictures and showing them to Marley.
“I had no idea you two were… dating?” Marley says.
“Aww, Jake really did keep it to himself!” Finn says. “That’s awesome, Jake!”
“I said I wouldn’t tell anybody. Now we’ve looked at your pictures, so can you go?” Jake says.
Finn frowns, but it’s that huge, ridiculous frown that means he’s not really disappointed. “But we haven’t shown you any of the picture from the U-pick cherry place.”
“Those cherries were so good,” Puck says. “Even if I didn’t exactly succeed on the jam thing.”
“We just need a bigger kitchen, like I said,” Finn says.
“You tried to make jam?” Marley asks. “That’s so cute!”
“Don’t encourage them!” Jake says.
The waitress approaches the table with a slice of cheesecake on a plate with two forks. “Oh,” she says. “Are you joining them?”
“No, no they’re not,” Jake says.
“You know, Marley, you should join us at temple some Saturday,” Puck says, almost smirking at Jake.
“Yeah, that would be really nice,” Finn says, turning slightly to tell the waitress, “Yeah, thanks, can you bring us a menu?”
“Why haven’t you brought her yet, Jake?” Puck asks.
“She could come to my classes,” Finn says.
“What classes? What are you talking about?” Jake says.
“Finn’s Jewish classes. I’m going to make him a license at the end. License to Jew,” Puck says. “We could split some tiramisu, Finn.”
“Finn’s taking— you know what, I don’t even want to know,” Jake says. “Are you seriously staying through dessert?”
“Yeah, I think the tiramisu sounds great, Puck,” Finn says.
“Of course we’re staying,” Puck says. “And while we’re waiting on the tiramisu, Marley can tell us what you’ve been up to this summer so far.”
Finn spent a lot of the summer trying to convince Puck that he needs to sign up for classes, but now the deadline is looming, and Puck still isn’t enrolled. Usually Puck starts kissing him when the conversation comes up, but occasionally he insists that he has errands that suddenly have to be run, and at least twice he makes the excuse that he can work more hours and Finn can study more.
Today, though, Finn isn’t letting Puck get away with it, so he prepares himself for the unthinkable—not kissing Puck until he forces him to have a conversation—and clears his throat loudly.
“Need some water?” Puck asks without looking up.
“The deadline to sign up for classes is in two days,” Finn says.
“Your schedule’s set, right?” Puck says, closing his laptop and leaning towards Finn.
“Yep. I even printed it out for you. It’s on the desk, literally right in front of you, with the times highlighted in blue highlighter,” Finn says. “I thought it might remind you that you needed to actually sign up.”
“It’s not a big deal,” Puck says, then goes to kiss Finn. Finn takes a step back and holds his hand up like a cop stopping traffic.
“Puck. You need to sign up for classes today,” Finn says.
“Hey,” Puck says, frowning. “Now you’re playing dirty.”
“You said you were thinking about it, and we’ve got the money, so why won’t you just do it?” Finn asks. “If it’s studying stuff, I’ll help you like you helped me.”
Puck keeps frowning, then huffs a little. “And what exactly would you have me taking classes for?”
“Whatever you want to do. What do you want to do?”
“You know, I’m not good at anything that you take classes for. I mean, the stuff I’m good at, you don’t take classes in. Or make a career out of it, either,” Puck says.
“Maybe there’s classes that you don’t even realize, though,” Finn says. “What’s the stuff you’re good at that you don’t think there’s classes for?”
“Uh, pool cleaning, sex stuff, and music, but not good enough at the music to do anything with it,” Puck says. “I think I was probably pretty good at the dad thing, but that was only a couple of weeks, really, so who knows?”
“Maybe you could be a little kid teacher,” Finn says.
Puck snorts. “Yeah, I’m so patient, watch me teach kids to read.”
“Okay, so maybe not,” Finn says. “Maybe you could work in an office. You were always really good at math, right?”
“I guess. Like accounting or something?”
“Maybe. Maybe you could just sign up for the gen ed classes now and see if you really like any of the classes you take,” Finn suggests.
“I can’t take a full schedule of classes, work, help you keep track of everything, and still have any energy left,” Puck says.
“Start half time. If it’s too much, don’t take any classes next quarter.”
“So if I take two classes, that’ll make you happy?” Puck asks skeptically.
“Yes,” Finn says. “Very happy.”
“Did you have a preference on which two classes?”
“You want to see if I’m in anything you want to take?” Finn asks. “I can walk you to class.”
Puck grins. “Yeah? You want to carry my books, too?”
“If you’ll let me,” Finn says.
“That’s a pretty good deal,” Puck concedes. “Okay. Two classes.” He opens his laptop again. “I could take math with you.”
“You could help me with my homework.”
“So I should take…” Puck squints as his laptop and then at Finn’s schedule. “This political science course you’re taking. And you can help me with that homework.”
“Sounds fair, swapping like that,” Finn says.
“And I’ll keep working twenty hours,” Puck says firmly. “If we need more money, I’ll add some more.”
“I’ll keep working, too,” Finn says.
“Not too much, you have fifteen hours of classes.”
“So if I keep working twenty hours, that’s still plenty of time,” Finn says. “I’m not letting you keep adding hours.”
“You don’t need to work that many hours. I won’t let you, either,” Puck says stubbornly.
“Do you want to fight about it or something?” Finn asks, frowning at Puck.
“I don’t want to fight, but you don’t need to work as many hours as I am. That’s why I’m not going to take that many classes.”
“Or you could take one more class, and we could both keep working twenty hours,” Finn counters. “It’s not that much!”
“Fifteen hours of classes and twenty hours of work and studying is more than a full-time job. You should just do ten or fifteen. I can do twenty-five or thirty,” Puck says.
“And thirty hours of work plus two classes isn’t too much?” Finn asks.
“You have a real major and everything,” Puck insists. “If I get a B and a C or two Cs, it’s fine.”
“Not to me. You might find a real major, too, and I don’t want you to have already screwed up your grades. I love you. I want you to do a good job,” Finn says.
“And I love you.” Puck frowns at Finn. “What if… you worked fifteen hours, and I worked twenty-five?”
“And you consider taking a third class the quarter after this one?”
Puck sighs and nods. “I’ll think about it.”
“Okay. That’s all I’m asking,” Finn says. “Hey, you know I think you’re awesome, right?”
“And good at sex stuff?”
“The best at sex stuff.”
Puck grins. “Does that mean you want to take a break?”
“Yeah,” Finn says. “It means I want to take a nice, long break.”
“Oh, Noah, I didn’t realize you were coming,” is the first thing Carole says to Puck when they arrive at the Hudson-Hummel house for Thanksgiving, which is confusing. Confusing because Puck was in the room when Finn was on the phone with Carole talking about Thanksgiving a few weeks earlier, and while Puck didn’t listen closely, he didn’t completely tune it out, either. He definitely remembers Finn sheepishly fudging ‘a few months’ as how long they’d been together.
Puck and Finn haven’t explicitly discussed it or anything, but Puck’s sure that not telling Carole before was a combination of not wanting Kurt to know yet and plain old inertia, but Puck really wonders how in the world Carole misunderstood “We have to be at Theresa’s at five” for Thanksgivukkuh. Maybe she thought Finn was dating someone named Theresa.
Puck looks at Finn and shrugs. “I’m pretty sure I remember you telling her.”
“I did tell her,” Finn says. “Mom, remember, I said I was bringing someone.”
“I assumed you meant someone you were dating. It’s not a problem, of course, Noah,” Carole says. “I just thought—”
“Yes, Mom. Someone I’m dating. Puck is the someone I’m dating. I’m dating Puck.”
Puck watches Carole’s eyes look to their hands, then up at Finn. “You’re dating Puck?”
“Surprise?” Finn offers. “And yeah, kind of a lot. It’s pretty serious, even.”
“Not just the living together part,” Puck says.
“When?” Carole asks. “And who— oh. Theresa your mother.”
“Yeah. I’m also kind of converting,” Finn says. “I hope that’s cool. I mean, I’m doing it even if it’s not, but I hope you’re cool with it.”
Carole looks a little fish-like, in Puck’s opinion, staring at Finn with the occasional look at their hands or Puck. “You’re dating Puck and you’re converting to… Judaism, I assume. All of this in just a few months?”
“Uh. Eight.” Finn looks guilty, his eyes cutting over to Puck. “Right? Eight?”
“Yeah, eight,” Puck agrees.
“Am I the last one to know, Finn?” Carole asks.
“Well, I haven’t told Kurt or anybody,” Finn says.
Puck nods. “Yeah, except for people at U of Lima, it’s just a few people.”
“Eight months,” Carole repeats. “Well, are you happy?”
“Yeah. I’m really happy, Mom. I didn’t think I could be this happy,” Finn says. “It’s really good.”
“Really good,” Puck repeats, looking at Finn and grinning at him.
“I’m glad you’re happy, then,” Carole says, then pauses. “Wait. If your brother had been coming home for Thanksgiving, would I still not know?”
“I guess you and Kurt would’ve found out at the same time,” Finn says.
“We probably should tell him at some point,” Puck says. “Since Jake’s known for awhile.”
“You should have told me sooner,” Carole says, shaking her head.
“It was nice having him to myself for a while,” Finn says with a shrug. Puck grins at Finn again and drops Finn’s hand, sliding his arm around Finn instead.
“Well, tell me how everything else is going. Classes, work, all of that,” Carole says.
“Everything’s great, Mom,” Finn says. “Everything’s pretty much perfect.”
Fall quarter goes well for both of them, though Finn’s best grades are in the classes he shares with Puck. He ends up actually convincing Puck to register for a third class for winter quarter, too, which makes Finn happy, and Finn being happy makes Puck happy. Finn celebrates his first Hanukkah as almost-Jewish. It doesn’t stop them from going to the Hudson-Hummel house for Christmas dinner and presents, though.
At the end of March, Rabbi Greenberg decides Finn’s Jewish enough to actually be Jewish now, even if Finn’s pronunciation of most of the prayers still sounds a little like he’s choking to death on something. There’s a thing at temple, with a potluck after. Finn and Puck bring a chicken casserole thing and don’t talk about the sandwich ham they have in the fridge back at the dorm.
Puck decides Finn needs a ‘Finn’s License to Jew’ party, and that they should do it over NYADA’s spring break, so Kurt can come. Since Finn still hasn’t talked to Kurt about the whole Puck thing, let alone the Jewish conversion part, he figures he should probably invite Kurt by phone instead of with an email. Finn waits until Puck is at work to call Kurt.
Kurt answers on the second ring, sounding surprised. “Finn? Is everything alright?”
“Yeah, everything’s great,” Finn says. “I’m just calling to invite you to a party. Well, to explain why there’s a party and then invite you to it.”
“You’re throwing a party?” Kurt says, not sounding any less surprised or confused.
“Not technically,” Finn says.
“Then who is throwing the party, and why are you inviting me? Shouldn’t whomever is throwing the party be inviting me?”
“Puck, and that’s why I called, so I could explain why I’m inviting you. Or what the party’s about, so that’s why it’s me,” Finn says.
“I’m getting even more confused,” Kurt says. “Let’s start with the basics. When is this party?”
“It’s the Friday of your spring break. We wanted you to be able to be there.”
“That was… very thoughtful,” Kurt says. “Okay, then, what is the party for? I know it’s not the right time for your birthday. Or for Puck’s, for that matter.”
“I converted,” Finn says.
Kurt is silent for a few seconds, then asks “Currency?”
“Jewish,” Finn says. “Also me and Puck have been dating for the past year. So, can you come?”
“Jewish? And you— what?” Kurt says. “A year? What? Are you serious?” Kurt doesn’t sound very happy for Finn, but it might just be that he’s surprised.
“Yeah. Mom and Burt know, but you haven’t really been around to tell, and I guess I didn’t think about calling you until now,” Finn says.
“You started dating Puck, and then decided to become religious? Change religions? Whichever it is,” Kurt says.
“It seemed important to him, and if it’s important to him, it’s important to me.”
“I… so you’re Jewish now, and you’re having a party to celebrate that? Is that basically what’s happening?” Kurt asks, sounding a little less appalled.
“Yeah, pretty much,” Finn says. “So, will you come? Please?”
“I was planning to be in Lima, so yes, I suppose I will,” Kurt says.
“Great! You can bring Blaine, too, if you want.”
“Do you not talk to anyone?” Kurt exclaims. “We broke up. Again.”
“Oh. That sucks,” Finn says. “But I talk to people. I talk to Puck, and Jake and Marley, and people at U of Lima.”
“It gets worse. Or weirder, anyway, I don’t know if it’s worse,” Kurt says. “But he’s dating David Karofsky.”
“Yeah, that’s really weird,” Finn agrees.
“I’ll just do my best to avoid them while I’m in Lima. It won’t be a big deal,” Kurt says, but it sounds more like he’s trying to convince himself, not Finn.
“Well, they’re not invited to my party, so you’re safe there, at least,” Finn says.
“What exactly is a conversion party like? Should I bring a gift?” Kurt asks.
“I don’t think you have to bring a gift or anything, but if you want to, we could use a waffle maker,” Finn says, “since we’re getting an apartment for the next school year.”
“Oh, that’s nice,” Kurt says, almost automatically. “How are your classes going?”
“Great! Puck’s a big help with math, and I’m helping him with some of his classes, too.”
“And you’re still planning on teaching? Do you know what you’re thinking about teaching, yet?” Kurt asks.
“I’m not totally sure yet, but I know I want to teach high school,” Finn says. “Maybe history or one of the lit classes.”
“Oh. Well, I’m sure you’ll be better than any of the teachers we had for those classes,” Kurt says somewhat wryly. “It’s good to know things are going so well for you.”
“Yeah, I’m really happy right now,” Finn says. “But what’s up with you, other than the Blaine thing? You like your classes and stuff?”
“Classes are good, yes. After summer term, I’ll be completely caught up with the rest of my class,” Kurt says. “I moved into the dorms at the beginning of spring semester, and my roommate could be better, but I’ll be able to figure out something else for next school year.”
“Cool. Sorry your roommate isn’t great. My original one was okay, but Puck paid him off, so now Puck’s my roommate.”
“He paid him off? That’s almost bizarrely romantic,” Kurt says.
“Yeah, isn’t it?” Finn says, grinning to himself. “Look, he’ll probably be back soon, so I’m gonna go, okay? See you in a couple of weeks?”
“Yes, I’ll see you then. Uh, congratulations?”
“Thanks, Kurt.” Finn ends the call, just as he hears Puck’s key in the lock. “Hey!”
Puck grins and tosses his backpack down on the floor. “Hey. Just for the record, I’m not taking four classes next quarter.”
“Okay, I won’t even mention it,” Finn promises. “I talked to Kurt.”
“Yeah? Is he coming?”
“He said he is. He and Blaine broke up again, and get this, Blaine’s apparently dating Karofsky now!”
Puck stops and makes a face. “Seriously?” He shrugs. “I can’t imagine dating either one of them, so maybe that means they’re suited for each other or something.”
“Yeah, I can’t either, but, uh, good for them, I guess?” Finn says, shaking his head. “Not as good for Kurt, but maybe he’ll meet somebody nice.”
“There’s got to be a lot of guys in New York, right?” Puck says, toeing off his shoes and then sitting down on the edge of the bed and tugging on Finn’s hand. “Not everyone gets lucky.”
“Not this lucky, anyway,” Finn says.
Puck’s smile gets bigger. “Nah, nobody else gets this lucky.”
When they leave, the day after the last exam of spring quarter, Puck steers the bike up Ohio Route 18 to Sandusky. After some pizza near a park, they take US–6 east along the lake, and Puck tunes out everything but the road, the scenery, and Finn wrapped around him. They stay at a motel on the western side of Cleveland overnight, hit the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame the next morning, and then keep driving east. They stop four hours into the drive, at Don’s Motel in Dunkirk, New York. It’s not the greatest place, but it’s cheap, and it puts them with just a little under two hours to drive the next morning.
“We need to do that boat cruise to the Falls,” Puck says as they pull up in front of the Holiday Inn where he made reservations. “And we have an indoor pool here.”
“Awesome,” Finn says. “That’ll be nice.”
“And,” Puck adds, “I got us a suite, so we could have one of those tubs again.”
“That’s why you’re the best boyfriend ever!”
Puck laughs. “Only that?” he asks as they walk up to the desk. It’s a little early to check in, but he figures it can’t hurt to check.
“Okay, that’s one reason why you’re the best boyfriend ever,” Finn says, putting his arm around Puck’s waist as they wait for the desk clerk.
“Better,” Puck says. The desk clerk does let them check in, and as they wait for the elevator to the third floor, he turns to Finn. “Go do anything this afternoon, or stay in this afternoon and hit the tourist spots tomorrow?”
“That boat thing. We could do that today, right?” Finn asks.
“Yeah, it’s open until five or six. We could probably get there by three or four,” Puck says.
“We should do that,” Finn says. “That’s the one that goes right up to the waterfall, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, they even give you ponchos.”
“Yeah. Let’s go!”
The boat place is close enough that they almost could have walked, but Puck figures they won’t want to walk when they get done, plus they’ll probably want some dinner. They get their tickets and their blue ponchos, then get on the boat.
“They’re already loud,” Puck says, leaning against Finn. Finn nods his agreement, but doesn’t say anything. He’s not said that much since they left the hotel, actually, and Puck nudges Finn’s side. “You okay?”
“Huh? Yeah. I’m great,” Finn says.
“You didn’t realize you were afraid of boats, did you?” Puck asks. “And remember, I already said we don’t have to go up in that observation tower thing.”
“I’m great, really,” Finn insists. “I’m just looking at the falls.”
Puck shrugs. “Okay.” He shifts his weight a little, leaning more on the railing but still touching Finn. The boat gets closer and closer to the falls, which means it gets louder and louder, and Puck pulls the hood on his poncho up. Finn does the same, but as they get right up to the falls, Finn suddenly lets go of Puck. Puck turns, thinking maybe Finn’s getting seasick, but Finn’s kneeling, the hood on his poncho pushed back again.
Finn holds up a Rubik’s Cube-sized box, opened so that Puck can see what he’s pretty sure is a cuff-style bracelet, and Finn is just grinning up at Puck, ridiculously hugely. Puck grins back and mouths “a bracelet?”, which makes Finn shrug but not stop grinning.
“Yes,” Puck says, because “duh” probably isn’t the appropriate response, even if it would make both of them laugh. Finn’s grin somehow widens as he stands up and grabs Puck, kissing him hard, and even with the roar of the waterfall, Puck can hear the other people on the boat applauding them. When they stop kissing, Puck holds out his left wrist expectantly. Finn puts the bracelet around Puck’s wrist, looking down at it and then back up at Puck, nodding his head downward at the bracelet.
The engraving on it has their initials and the date, which means Finn planned ahead, and Puck runs his finger over it before kissing Finn again. When they get far enough away from the falls that they can hear again, Puck leans his head on Finn’s shoulder.
“You planned ahead,” Puck says. “Now I have to find you something.”
“I can get a matching one if you want. We’ll get rings eventually, though.”
“Not until the actual wedding. Unless you were planning on us eloping while we were here, which is cool, except you have to be the one to tell our moms,” Puck says.
“Well, we’ll have to do it some place legal, but it doesn’t have to be on this trip,” Finn says. “I just wanted you to know that I wanted to.”
“Yeah, we’ll plan it all out,” Puck says, and even though they’re not usually huge on PDA, he kisses Finn again, because when else should they be? As the boat gets closer to the dock, he looks down at the bracelet again and then at Finn. “Oh, but one thing we’ll have to decide before anyone asks.”
“What one thing?” Finn asks.
“Uh. I kind of went and converted, Puck,” Finn says, grinning at Puck again. “Don’t you think that sort of tells you something?”
“It could just mean you really, really like latkes. And matzoh.”
“And pretending we aren’t gonna eat bacon with breakfast in the morning,” Finn says. “Even though I wouldn’t eat bacon if you wanted us to be kosher-er. Or kosher at all.”
“What Rabbi Greenberg doesn’t know about our breakfasts doesn’t hurt him. And I wouldn’t eat a bacon cheeseburger. Bacon burger, sure. Cheeseburger, yes. But bacon cheeseburger’s just bad form,” Puck says, grinning at Finn. “So you really want to marry me, huh?”
“Of course I do,” Finn says.
Puck nods, trying to look serious. “Yeah, I think that’ll be pretty cool.”
“Good, ’cause it’s too late to back out now. You put the bracelet on.”
“Yeah, and you put it on me, so I guess that’s that. Good thing we’re both good with it.”
Finn and Puck don’t tell anyone right away that they’ve gotten engaged. Puck doesn’t not wear his bracelet or anything, but nobody seems to notice it, or at least, nobody asks any questions about it. Every time Finn looks at it, though, he feels happy all over again.
They decide that, being engaged, it’s time to move off campus and get a real apartment, which leads to the conversation of telling their moms, and that’s how they end up with both their moms—plus Jake, since he’s got the Puckerman arms—helping them move into the new apartment on August first. Carole and Theresa do most of the packing and unpacking organization, and they set up the kitchen at the new apartment while Puck and Finn assemble the living room furniture.
Once everything’s pretty much unpacked and put away, Finn orders pizza and pop for all of them. He and Puck don’t have a dinner table yet, and they don’t have tabs for the dishwasher, so when the pizza comes, they eat it right out of the box, over paper towels, at the coffee table in the living room.
“So, Mom, Mrs. Puckerman,” Finn begins.
“I’ve been telling you for years to call me Theresa.”
Finn smiles at Theresa. “Well, I was actually thinking I could start calling you Other Mom.”
Theresa looks startled. “What?”
“Finn, what are you talking about?” Carole asks.
Finn glances at Puck. “You want to tell them?”
“Sure,” Puck says, grinning and lifting his left wrist a little. “We got engaged.”
“Oh!” Theresa smiles hugely at them pretty much immediately, then puts her pizza down and reaches to give Puck a hug and then Finn a slightly longer one. “Congratulations!”
Carole looks slightly stunned, staring at Finn. “You’re getting married? You’re still so young! I mean, you’re older now, but still young.”
Once Theresa lets got of Puck, Jake hugs him. “That’s great, man. I’m happy for both of you!”
“We’re not that young,” Finn says. “And anyway, why wait? We know what we want.”
“Yeah, the end result’s the same whether it’s now or three years from now,” Puck says. “We haven’t officially set a date or anything, though.”
“Spring is nice, don’t you think?” Theresa says, but she says it more to Carole than the rest of them.
“Once the rainy weeks are over, definitely,” Carole says, looking less stunned and more enthusiastic. “I’m sure they’ll need help planning everything.”
“Uh-oh,” Puck whispers to Finn.
“Oh crap,” Finn whispers back.
“I’m your best man, right?” Jake asks. “You have to pick me. I’m your only brother.”
“Oh, they’ll all look so handsome up there,” Theresa says. “Do you know a good photographer?”
“There’s a few people at work that know people. I’ll make sure and ask them. It’s good to know a good portrait photographer for kids, too,” Carole says, nodding at Theresa.
“If it’s spring, the wedding photos can be outside, and the photographer could shoot at the same place!” Theresa says.
“Oh help,” Puck says. “We haven’t even set a date!”
“Well, you’ll need to check with Rabbi Greenberg of course,” Theresa says.
“And how are you going to handle, you know. The legal aspect?” Carole asks.
“We were thinking we’d just go to the closest state and get it done there,” Finn says. “We hadn’t really talked about any kind of actual wedding-wedding.”
“Clearly because we didn’t have to,” Puck says wryly. “But yeah, we figured we’d go to Illinois or Pennsylvania.”
“Well, you can do that a few days ahead of the wedding,” Theresa says. “You should take your school calendar when you talk to Rabbi Greenberg.”
“I kind of don’t want anything big,” Finn says.
“Finn, you should at least have something formal here in town so your families can celebrate with you,” Carole says, looking disappointed. “Theresa and I can work out most of the financial details, I’m sure.” Theresa nods.
“Nothing big,” Finn insists. “If it’s formal, it’s got to be small.”
“And I’m obviously still the best man,” Jake says. “One of the best men. You’ll probably get Kurt, right?”
Finn nods. “Yeah. If I weren’t marrying Puck, I’d pick Puck, but I am, so I can’t.”
“No weird colors,” Puck says. “Maybe suits and not tuxes. And we get to pick the food.”
“Burger bar,” Finn says.
“Oh, yeah, good idea!” Puck grins. “Maybe a sundae bar, too.”
“Yeah, that’s perfect!” Finn says, beaming at Puck. “You’re so smart.”
“We’ll make sure the guest list is small,” Puck says, returning the grin.
“We should put Big Al on the list, though,” Finn adds. Puck shakes his head a little, but grins and doesn’t argue.
Carole and Theresa sort of tune Finn and Puck out for the rest of the pizza-eating, talking about venues and names for grandchildren. When everyone’s done eating, the moms leave, and Jake helps clean up before he leaves, too. Finn locks the door behind Jake, then flops down on the sofa next to Puck.
“Well, now they know,” Finn says, putting an arm around Puck and pulling him close.
“Enthusiastically, even,” Puck says, leaning more of his weight against Finn. “They had some definite ideas about how things should go.”
“Do you think they forgot that we didn’t actually say anything about having kids?” Finn asks.
“Yeah, they seemed to forget about that around the time pictures got mentioned again.” Puck nudges his head against Finn’s shoulder. “Do you? Want kids, I mean?”
“Yeah, but it’s complicated,” Finn says. “I figured we’d have to get the how all figured out first.”
“Yeah, we have a great sex life, but it’s not really the procreative kind,” Puck says wryly. “Not just complicated, but expensive, probably.”
“We’d have to save up a lot of money,” Finn agrees.
“Yeah. It’s not that whole we have to have twenty years with just the two of us thing or anything, but it’s not that quick or easy,” Puck says, shrugging a little. “And anyway, first we have to get married and get you graduated.”
“And then I can work for a year while you finish, too, and then we’ll be able to save more,” Finn says. “And then we could have a kid.”
“House,” Puck says. “We should have a house.”
“And a pet. Kids need pets.”
“Yeah.” Puck looks up and grins. “So they can get at least one of the pictures taken with a pet.”
“Maybe one of us could stay home with the kids for a while, too,” Finn says. “You said being a dad was one of the things you were best at. You could be a stay-at-home dad for a couple years, if you wanted.”
“That could be cool,” Puck says softly. “Probably scare all the moms, but cool.”
“Yeah, it would be really cool,” Finn says.
“So we can tell our moms to wait a few years on the kids discussion. Won’t stop the wedding planning, though.”
Finn laughs. “Nothing’ll stop the wedding planning. We’re doomed.”
The amount of planning that Finn and Puck have to contribute to their own wedding does turn out to be minimal. They cross off about half of the names on the initial guest list, they approve of the food, and they go to get clothes as instructed. Early on, Finn and Puck have to assert themselves when Theresa and Carole try to plan the wedding for May. May is still in the middle of spring quarter, which seems dumb to them, especially when they can wait and get married right after spring quarter ends and still go on a trip.
Puck does promise to pay Jake if he keeps people from decorating the bike. Jake pretends to agree, but Puck’s pretty sure he won’t follow through, which is why he’s withholding payment until afterwards. After looking at the requirements in Illinois and Pennsylvania, Puck starts to think they’re going to have to go to New York. Then Indiana gets marriage equality, which at least will be easier to do in a single day.
The Thursday before the formal wedding on Sunday afternoon, they go over to Fort Wayne and get officially married, even though everyone thinks they’re doing it on Friday or Saturday. Their concession is not using their actual rings, but even with that, Puck grins at Finn as they get back on the bike.
“We could just start our trip early, you know.”
“Yeah, until our moms show up at the hotel and murder us in our sleep,” Finn says. “Or cry. You know they’d cry so much.”
“They’d probably rope Kurt and Jake into faking some tears, even,” Puck agrees. “But we are official.”
“Finn Puckerman is a pretty cool name,” Finn says. He wraps his arms around Puck’s chest and rests his chin on Puck’s shoulder.
“Yeah, it is.” Puck grins a little. “I guess we have to wait for Sunday for the rings, anyway.”
“That’s okay,” Finn says.
“Just wait,” Puck says, then starts up the bike to head back to Lima. The next two days involve a lot of picking things up when Theresa or Carole tell them to, plus packing so they really can leave after the reception. On Saturday afternoon, Carole ends up at their apartment, and after telling them about the flowers or something, she starts in on a brand-new topic.
“You know, you two could spend tonight apart,” she says. “I know it’s a silly tradition, but it could be nice.”
Puck looks at Finn with his eyebrows up. “Mommmmm,” Finn whines.
“I could make up the sofa bed for you if you don’t want to sleep in your old bedroom,” Carole offers. “And I’m sure Theresa has room for Noah.”
“You know, technically we’re already married,” Finn says. “I don’t want to sleep on the sofa bed or my old bedroom. I want to sleep at my apartment with Puck.”
“You could leave everything all clean and ready for when you get back from your trip, though,” Carole tries.
Carole sighs. “Fine. You can’t say I didn’t try. Aren’t you excited?”
“Yeah, Mom,” Finn says. “We’re both excited.”
Puck waits until Carole leaves—and the door is locked—before grinning at Finn. “I’m excited about three things about tomorrow, anyway.”
“Yeah?” Finn asks.
“The food. Our actual rings. And our trip.”
Finn smiles. “Yeah. Same three things for me, too.”
“We’re good sons. Letting them have the rest of it, I mean.”
“We are getting a burger bar and sundae bar out of it,” Finn says. “So it’s a pretty good trade-off.”
Puck laughs. “Yeah, that’s true.”
If Puck is being completely honest, he doesn’t notice too many details about getting ready or the wedding itself, just that they seem to have done everything right, because everyone around them is smiling and happy, and they’re happy too.
After the actual wedding part with Rabbi Greenberg, they have a few minutes before the reception starts, and Puck nudges Finn. “Read your ring now.”
Finn looks at the ring, spinning it around his finger to read aloud, “‘Not going anywhere’. Aww, Puck!”
“See, that was worth waiting for today, I guess,” Puck says with a smile.
“Yeah, it was,” Finn says, grabbing Puck around the waist and dragging him closer so they can kiss. “We can skip the reception, if you want.”
“After all this, we deserve that burger bar,” Puck says. “Then we can leave.”
“Okay, okay. You’re right,” Finn says, sighing loudly.
Puck kisses Finn again before they pose for more pictures, which seems to make their moms happy, and then they finally get to both the burger bar and the sundae bar. Not too long before they’re planning to leave, Puck looks around and realizes that both of their brothers have disappeared, and he sighs a little.
“I think they’re decorating the bike anyway,” he says quietly to Finn.
“I guess we have two choices, then,” Finn says. “We can punch ’em or just take the cans off at the first gas station we pass.”
“It’s probably better if we don’t punch them, since we’re related to them. Gas station before we get on the interstate it is,” Puck says.
After they change clothes, they take in the sight of the bike with some ribbons and cans, and Puck decides just to act like he doesn’t even notice, especially when Jake and Kurt look like they’re waiting for a reaction. They drive off and get close to the interstate, and then Puck stops at the gas station, pulling it off the bike.
“You want to know where we’re going now?” he asks Finn.
“Nah. I’m just along for the ride,” Finn says.
Puck laughs. “Well, yeah, that’s kind of the point. Going for a ride.” He climbs back on the bike and waits for Finn’s arms to wrap around him. “Tonight we’re just going south of Cincy, though, ’cause we can’t see very much at night.”
“We staying someplace nice?”
“Someplace with a ‘double whirlpool’,” Puck answers. “Sound good?”
“Sounds perfect,” Finn says, leaning against Puck’s back and resting his chin on Puck’s shoulder.
Puck smiles as he starts the bike. “Good, ’cause we’re staying for two nights,” he calls over his shoulder. “Double the double whirlpool.”
The arguing starts on the next-to-last day of their trip, when they’re eating dinner in Rockford, Illinois. Finn knows they’re both tired and a little sore from so many hours on the bike, and they’d both been a little short with each other at breakfast, too, but things had been better by lunch, when Puck started doing the goofy-smiling at his ring again. As they sit down with their sandwiches at Quiznos, Puck shakes his head a little.
“We’re legal for one more night,” he says. “We’ve still got a couple of months before you start your last year. It’s not too late to transfer or something.”
“Transfer where?” Finn asks, frowning at his sandwich. “I’ll have to get licensed in any state I teach in.”
“Right, so you should get licensed in a state we want to live in. If you finish at U of Lima, you’ll be licensed in Ohio.”
“Which is where we live,” Finn says.
“But do we want to keep living in Ohio?” Puck asks. “Wouldn’t it make sense to pick a state we want to live in, and you get licensed there?”
“So we’ll just move blind to a place where we don’t know anybody, and where we have no idea if I’ll be able to get a job?”
“There’s no guarantee you’ll be able to get a job in Ohio, either. We’re not in debt, we’re young, if we’re going to move somewhere else, now’s the time, right?” Puck asks. “I mean, seriously, do you want to stay in Allen County?”
“We’ve got family here, at least. You’ve got Jake and Katie,” Finn says. “I don’t know that I want to stay here forever or anything, but how do you just choose a new place to go?”
“Jake’s starting college in the fall, remember? No guarantee he’ll be in Lima forever, either. I figure… you know, we pick a couple of states and a size of a town and some stuff we want, and we just see what we find,” Puck says. “I’m not saying move to California, or some place the size of Chicago.”
“What if something happens? We won’t know anybody!” Finn says. He puts his sandwich down and scowls at his bag of chips instead.
“We could meet new people. It’d be fun. Like an adventure.”
“What if we don’t want to go to the same kind of town?” Finn asks.
“Then… we compromise?” Puck says. “Why, where you do want to go?”
“I don’t know! I didn’t know I was going to have make a decision about my whole life in the middle of a Quiznos!”
“We’re not deciding here. We just should decide,” Puck says. “We talked about stuff like pets and a house. You want that in Lima?”
“Yes! Or, no, I don’t know! I want that stuff, but I don’t know if I want it in Lima or not,” Finn says. “What if we pick the wrong place?”
“What if Lima’s the wrong place? Or, I don’t know. So what if we do? We either try again, or we make it the right place. We can’t go that wrong.”
“I like things how they are,” Finn says. “I’m happy. I don’t want to mess anything up.”
“But Lima? You want to stay in Lima?”
“What if we move and you aren’t happy there?” Finn asks quietly, still staring down at his bag of chips.
Puck sighs. “I know it sounds like an oxymoron or whatever, but it’d still be us. I’d be happy. I just… Lima’s Lima. There’s a lot of junk there.”
Finn nods his head slightly. “Okay. If you think you’d be happier in some other town, we’ll start looking when we get back,” he says. “Okay?”
“Okay.” Puck chews for a moment, then nudges Finn’s foot with his. “You like any of the states we’ve been through? This year or before?”
“I like medium-small towns,” Finn says.
Puck smiles, a little wryly. “Yeah. I spent years thinking I wanted to go to a big city, but not really.”
“Yeah, I don’t think I do, either,” Finn says. “I actually kind of like the size of the one we’re in now.”
“We can always look at it, then.”
“Okay. As long as you’d be happy here.”
Puck nods and finishes his sandwich, then grabs Finn’s hand. “Yeah. I’m happy.”
“I’m happy, too,” Finn says. “Sorry for being pissy.” He puts his other hand on top of Puck’s. “I love you.”
“We’re achey. It’s okay. We’ll go soak in that heated pool before we go to bed,” Puck says. “I love you, too.”
“I don’t really want the trip to be over,” Finn says.
“Me either,” Puck says. “We could go another trip between summer and fall quarter, maybe? Something a little shorter and a little cheaper.” He grins a little. “Maybe we can make a list of places to check out.”
Finn smiles. “Yeah. Sounds like fun.”
Even though Puck rationally knows it shouldn’t have really changed that much, since they were already planning on being together and everything, being actually married does feel different, in an awesome way. He spends a lot of summer quarter being distracted while he’s supposed to be studying, usually because he ends up staring at his ring and then thinking about being married, and that’s just if Finn’s not around.
Finn does find out that most states have some kind of reciprocity agreements about teaching licenses, so even if he graduates from U of Lima, he can get his license in almost any other state. That means they don’t have to decide as quickly where they want to go, at least, and instead of checking out places to live during the break, they head towards West Virginia for three nights of roughing it—no whirlpool—and three days of riding.
Overall, Puck knows their life is pretty awesome, and they’re only twenty-one, which means they have plenty of time for even more awesomeness. A couple of weeks into fall quarter, though, Puck starts making a long list of possible towns, and that makes him think about pets.
“We should get a pet now,” Puck says that night while they’re lying in bed.
“Yeah?” Finn says. “Cat or dog?”
“Hmm.” Puck runs his hand down Finn’s side and lets it rest on his hip. “Maybe we should see what they have at one of those rescue places. Get an older one, so it’s already using the bathroom in the right place.”
“Yeah, that would be good. We should go this weekend,” Finn says.
“Yeah. Maybe an indoor pet, since we don’t have a fenced area here.”
“So cat or small dog, I guess.”
“Yeah, but not one of them that needs a sweater. I draw the line at sweaters on animals,” Puck says, closing his eyes and putting his head on Finn’s chest. “Sweaters on Finn.”
“Or no sweaters on me, since I think we both like no-sweater time, too,” Finn says. He runs his fingers through Puck’s hair and sighs happily.
“Sweaters on Finn when we’re not at home, anyway.” Puck tightens his arm around Finn a little and falls asleep with Finn’s fingers running through his hair again.
On Saturday after temple and Chinese food, they head up past the mall to the Humane Society. The person at the front desk has them fill out an application, and then someone else comes to take them back to see the available animals.
The first set of cages have four small dogs in them, and Puck frowns at them. “At least three of them look like they need sweaters,” he whispers to Finn.
“Yeah, I don’t think I like tiny dogs,” Finn says.
“Can we see the cats?” Puck asks the Humane Society person, and they go into a different room. The first two cages have kittens in them, and then Puck comes to a halt in front of the third cage. “Holy shit.”
“Is that a bobcat or a baby mountain lion or something?” Finn asks, peering at the enormous orange, black, and white spotted cat in the third cage.
“We think she’s part Maine Coon cat,” the Humane Society man says. “She has excellent hunting instincts.”
“I guess that’s good, right?” Puck says. “She’s gorgeous. Definitely doesn’t need a sweater.”
“She’s huge. Are we even allowed to have a cat that big in an apartment?” Finn asks.
“We can have a dog up to forty or fifty pounds, I think. She can’t be bigger than that.”
“Would you like me to get her out so you can meet her?” the Humane Society man says, sounding excited. “Her name’s Jackie O.”
“That’s a weird name,” Finn says to Puck, out of the corner of his mouth.
Puck nods, then says “Sure” to the man, who starts getting the cat out. “Yeah it is,” Puck whispers back to Finn.
The Humane Society man leads them and Jackie O the cat to a room, then puts her down on a chair. Jackie O looks at Puck and Finn suspiciously, so Puck starts to try to pet her. She still doesn’t look particularly impressed until Finn starts petting her, too.
“She’s litter-trained, spayed, and up to date on all of her shots,” the man says.
“I just can’t get over how huge she is. Her paws are giant,” Finn says.
“I like how fluffy she is.” Puck squats down in front of the chair she’s in and looks at her more closely. “You’re a big cat. You like us?” Jackie O purrs briefly, like she’s humoring Puck. “I like her,” Puck says to Finn.
“Yeah, me too,” Finn says. “It’s almost like getting a dog and a cat at the same time. I bet we could walk her on a leash.”
“She’s almost like a guard-cat, too.” Puck drops his voice. “Maybe we can change her name.”
“Yeah, Jackie O is a weird name for a cat. We should give her a better name.”
“We’ll come up with something good.” Puck looks over at the Humane Society man and nods, which makes him look even more excited, and when they leave twenty minutes later, soon-to-be-something-other-than-Jackie-O is in a cardboard carrier, and Finn and Puck have a folder with some veterinary records and a gift card to Pet Supplies Plus, in addition to the four cans of UTI-prevention food.
They put everything, including the carrier, in the sidecar, and Puck shrugs, looking at Finn slightly dubiously. Finn sits behind Puck on the bike, but only wraps one arm around him, putting the other one on the cardboard handle at the top of the carrier.
“Drive really slow?” Finn suggests.
“Yeah, we’ll take her home and then go back to use that gift card, I guess,” Puck says with a nod. “I’ll go down to Elm, less traffic and people drive slower there.”
Only a few people honk as they drive back, and Puck figures it’s possible they were more worried than the cat. They take her inside, watch her walk around the apartment for a few minutes, and then she jumps on a chair and curls up.
“Guess she’s fine,” Puck says with a laugh.
“I don’t think she’ll have a hard time adjusting,” Finn says.
“What should we call her?”
“We should give her a name from a book,” Finn says. “Like Ramona Quimby or something.”
“Not Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle.” Puck frowns and starts naming what he can think of. “There’s Amelia and Madeline and Meg and— oh, yeah, and Beth and Amy and Jo. Any of those?”
“I like Amelia,” Finn says.
“Cool. Hey, Amelia!” Puck says. One of her ears moves, and Puck shrugs. “Guess that’s close enough to approval. Should we go buy her the other stuff she needs?”
“Yeah,” Finn says. “Don’t tear up the house while we’re gone, Amelia!”
They finish their fall quarter classes and are well into winter quarter before Puck sits Finn down with a list of potential cities. Along with information on the size and demographics of the city, Puck also has job listings for one city each in Pennsylvania, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin. Finn votes down the Wisconsin city before they even get to the job listings, because the average temperature is another ten degrees colder than Lima, which means less bike weather.
“How do you feel about Pennsylvania?” Puck asks next. “I think that’s probably my least favorite.”
“I don’t feel strongly enough about it to make you live there if it’s your least favorite,” Finn says, so the city in Pennsylvania goes into the discard pile, too.
“Okay, so that leaves Elkhart in Indiana, and Rockford in Illinois. I started to look at Missouri, too, but I didn’t find anywhere that looked that great,” Puck says.
Finn nods. “Sell me on Elkhart. What’s it got going for it?”
“It’s not too far from the lake, so some nice drives. Close to South Bend without being in South Bend,” Puck says. “Lots of parks. There’s three different school districts, and there’s job listings you might like in two of them.”
Finn nods again. “What’s the downside?”
“Only three hours from Lima,” Puck jokes. “Well, close to South Bend’s a downside, too. Two of those school districts only have one school at each level. And we’d have to go into South Bend for temple.”
“Now tell me about Rockford,” Finn says.
“Former home of the Rockford Peaches, first of all. One school district with four high schools, two synagogues, and six hours from Lima,” Puck says.
“It’s got to have a down side,” Finn says. “So what’s wrong with Rockford?”
“Heavy snow in January, and for some things, we might have to go into Chicago.”
“Yeah, but Chicago’s pretty cool, as far as big cities go,” Finn says. He slides his hand across the table, smiling at Puck as he taps one finger on the paper with the Rockford information.
“Yeah,” Finn says. “That one.”
By early March, Puck knows they have to tell their moms that they’re moving eventually, since Finn’s applied for several openings in Rockford, but it seems like something to wait on until they have definite news, no matter how often either of them get distracted looking up things online. Over spring break, they’ll ride over and spend a few days, but on Friday afternoon, Puck is mostly thinking about getting his homework done before Finn gets back from classes. When his phone rings, and it’s not one of his assigned ringtones, he picks it up and answers, figuring it’s going to be a wrong number.
What he isn’t expecting is Rabbi Greenberg’s voice on the other end. “Noah, how are you?”
“Uh, good. Is everything okay?”
“Oh, yes, everything’s fine. I was just wondering if you and Finn had time to chat tomorrow afternoon?” Rabbi Greenberg asks.
“Sure,” Puck says without really considering it, because if the rabbi asks, usually you do. “Should we talk right away or come back after lunch?”
“After lunch is fine. I’ll see you then,” Rabbi Greenberg says, and the call ends. Puck stares at the phone, still feeling a little confused, for the five or ten minutes before he hears Finn unlocking the door.
“Rabbi Greenberg wants to talk with us after lunch tomorrow,” Puck calls.
“Am I in trouble? Is he taking my Jewishness?” Finn calls back. “’Cause he can’t have it!”
“He said everything’s fine. I don’t think he’s allowed to take your Jewishness back, anyway.” Puck shrugs and turns around. “Maybe it’s a bacon-intervention.”
“Maybe. That’s weird,” Finn says. He sets his bag down as he walks towards Puck, giving him a kiss.
“Yeah. Guess we’ll find out tomorrow.” Puck shrugs and stands, grabbing Finn’s hand. “And maybe have bacon for breakfast, just in case.”
Rabbi Greenberg doesn’t say anything before they leave for lunch, though, so Puck and Finn don’t say anything to Theresa or Katie when they leave House of Hunan and drive back to meet Rabbi Greenberg. No one else is there, which Puck is starting to suspect might be by design, and he grabs Finn’s hand as they knock on the door to Rabbi Greenberg’s study.
“Are you nervous?” Puck whispers.
“Yeah,” Finn whispers back. “I’m kind of freaking out!”
“Come in!” Rabbi Greenberg calls, and Puck opens the door, stepping through without dropping Finn’s hand. He gestures for them to sit down, and then smiles at them. “Don’t look so worried.”
“Are we about to be asked to join some kind of secret Jewish spy ring?” Puck can’t resist asking.
“No, no. There’s a young lady in our congregation who has asked me to help her, and I think that the two of you are exactly what we’re looking for.”
“Uh… we are?” Puck says.
“This is all confidential of course, at least for now,” Rabbi Greenberg begins, and Puck exchanges a glance with Finn, wondering if ‘spy ring’ was closer than he thought it was. “You probably know who Miriam is. She and her parents came to meet with me late last week. She’s a junior this year, and several weeks after she and her ex-boyfriend decided to break up, she discovered she was pregnant. Now, she doesn’t intend to keep the baby, but she does want her to go to a young Jewish couple. I admit, I thought of the two of you at that point, but as she continued to share some of her concerns, I realized that the two of you were truly unique. Unlike any other potential adoptive couple, you have relatives who are biracial, as this baby will be.” Rabbi Greenberg settles in his chair, looking proud of himself.
“Adoptive huh— what, now?” Finn asks, his mouth hanging open slightly. “You want us to— what?”
“Neither Miriam nor Russell wants to keep the baby, and Russell is fine with Miriam being the primary decision maker on who adopts the baby. As I said, she’d like the baby to be adopted by a young couple who will raise her Jewish, and she and her parents asked for my assistance with that. I thought of the two of you.”
“A real baby? Us?” Puck says. “Did— I mean, Miriam and her family might not want us to.”
“Oh, no, I mentioned you right away, and all three of them thought it was an excellent idea. She’s already about five months along, I think.”
“You want us to have a baby in four months?” Finn asks. His eyes are wide and his mouth is still slightly opening in shock. “A real human baby that’s ours, like, to keep?”
Puck frowns a little. “Does it make a difference if we tell you that we’re probably not going to be living in Lima after this summer?”
“No, not at all, and yes, Finn, to adopt. I believe Miriam is due around the end of June, and I’m equally certain that you have family members who would love to help you prepare,” Rabbi Greenberg says.
“Yeah, our moms are both baby-crazy,” Finn says. He looks at Puck, raising his eyebrows.
“Can we wait and give you an answer like, next week?” Puck asks. “Or even Monday. Monday would be good.”
Rabbi Greenberg laughs a little. “Of course. Why don’t you give me a call by Thursday, and if you’re at all interested, I can set up a meeting with Miriam and her family.”
“Yeah, okay,” Puck says. “That sound good to you, Finn?”
Finn nods. “Yeah.”
Rabbi Greenberg says a few other things before they leave the office and head back to the bike, and Puck stands beside it for few seconds. “Home?”
“Yes, please,” Finn says. He waits for Puck to get onto the bike before climbing on, too, but as he wraps his arms around Puck, he said, “Where do we put the baby?”
“Probably not on our backs,” Puck says, then starts the bike and drives them back home probably just a little faster than he should. When they get inside, Puck flops onto the sofa and pulls Finn with him. “A baby.”
“We’d have to have a dad-car,” Finn says, then he stiffens and sits up straight. “Puck! A dad-car, because we’d be dads!”
“What if I’m wrong, and I suck at being a dad? And I don’t even know how we get ready for a baby.”
“No, you’re great at being a dad,” Finn insists. He leans back against the sofa, pulling Puck against his chest.
“What if we say yes and then Miriam changes her mind?” Puck says after a few more seconds.
“Then we don’t get a baby in June,” Finn says, “and we get a different baby later.”
“Do you want a baby in June?”
“I hadn’t really thought about when. I wanted a baby, but I think I’d kind of like to get a baby in June,” Finn say.
“I think it’s a girl. He kept saying ‘her’.” Puck pauses, gathering his thoughts, and then nods. “I think we should tell Rabbi Greenberg yes.”
“Oh my god, Puck. We’re gonna be dads in June!” Finn says.
“Yeah.” Puck grins. “It’ll make the perfect follow-up announcement to ‘we’re moving in July’.”