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It was you breathless and tall

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The next morning, Puck stares at Finn sleeping for at least ten minutes before he starts using his phone to look up psychiatrists in Joliet. He finds three that don’t look too far away, which is important, since there could be times Finn needs to walk or take the bus. While he waits for the clock to hit eight am, he googles ‘supplements’ because if Finn’s not been eating food that anyone cooked, he’s probably deficient on something. After Puck makes a list of things to buy, he slips out of bed at five before eight, whispering to a still-sleeping Finn that he’s going to start breakfast.

The first psychiatrist’s answering machine says she’s not in the office until ten am, and she’s the farthest away, so Puck marks her off the list as he gets eggs out. The second one says that they don’t have any appointments for at least a week, but when he calls the third one one, he gets lucky. He has to give a little bit of details and promise to pay upfront rather than after the appointment, but he still manages to get Finn an appointment at three in the afternoon at a place on Jefferson Street. The office manager gives Puck a website for them to download the forms and fill them out, and Puck writes that down before starting to cook the eggs.

Finn wakes up just before breakfast is ready, and they spend most of the day talking about random things, like funny stories from their jobs and movies they want to go see. Around two, they go print out the forms and at three, Puck drops Finn off at the psychiatrist’s office, kissing him in the parking lot.

Once Finn’s inside, Puck goes over to Jewel-Osco and wanders up and down the aisles. He gets more vegetables than he usually does, and double the amount of fruit. He throws in extra yogurt and fish, because they’re supposed to be good for you, plus steak, because they both like steak, and then goes over to the supplements stuff.

Puck crumples up the receipt and tosses it as soon as he gets out of Jewel-Osco, because if Finn doesn’t know how much it all cost, he can’t act as horrified as Puck almost feels. All of it fits in the sidecar, though, and he drives back to the psychiatrist’s office to wait in the parking lot just before an hour’s passed.

It’s about an hour and ten minutes before Finn opens the door, and Puck whistles to get his attention. Finn responds with the same huge, almost dopey smile he’s had on his face every time he looks at Puck. “Do we need to hit the Walgreens?” Puck asks after he kisses Finn.

Finn nods. “Yeah. I have some prescriptions. One’s an everyday thing, one’s for, you know. If I get really upset about something.”

“Okay. Cool.” Puck takes them through the Walgreens with the drive-through, even though it’s a few more blocks west, and then back to the apartment. He grabs the bags out of the sidecar and waits until they’ve put away the food to pull out the supplement. “I got you some other stuff,” he says, pushing the bag on the counter towards Finn.

“That’s a lot of bottles,” Finn says. “What’s all that stuff for?”

“Well, the site said everyone has to take the multivitamin and fish oil and probiotics,” Puck says. “That’s why those bottles are twice as big. And the glucosamine and chondroitin is supposed to be for joints, so I figured it’d be good for your hand, right? I got vitamin D because it’s winter and you’re inside at work, and the site said B6 was good for like, six different things.” Puck picks up the last bottle and frowns at it. “This one might not be good with the meds you’re on, we’ll have to check, ‘cause it said something about serotonin online.”

“Oh. Okay. Thanks, for all of this,” Finn says.

“You said you hadn’t really had anything cooked outside a restaurant in a while,” Puck says with a shrug. “I figure it can’t hurt, right?” He leans on the counter and studies Finn’s face.

“What?” Finn asks. “What is it?”

“Just your face,” Puck says, smiling a little.

Finn puts his hand to his cheek. “What’s wrong with my face?”

“Nothing. Nothing’s wrong with it,” Puck says, standing up straight and then kissing Finn. “I like it.”

Finn smiles again. “I like yours, too.”

“Good.” Puck’s smile gets wider. “Does your face want steak for dinner?”

“My face hasn’t had steak in a long time,” Finn says.

“Then I think we definitely should have steak for dinner.” Puck doesn’t move, though, leaning on Finn’s shoulder. “I didn’t ask what hours you have to work.”

“Sometimes I’m on ten to six, sometimes I’m on two to ten.” He puts his arm around Puck, leaning his head on of Puck’s. “I’m like my mom used to say. A night owl.”

“Yeah.” Puck frowns against Finn’s neck, because ten to six especially means they’d hardly be home at the same time, and not at all if Puck has to work any overtime. “I’m usually six am to six pm, or seven am to seven pm, during the week. Mostly the same on the weekends for now, but it can be more like four or five in the morning until eight or ten at night, when we get even more snow.”

“I could switch,” Finn says. “I don’t mind. I’d rather be home with you when you’re home, anyway.”

“Yeah.” Puck rubs his face back and forth against Finn’s neck, then kisses it. “If the times work out, I could drop you off or pick you up. Or both, I guess, if you had something to do while you waited.”

“That would be nice. It’s no fun walking when it’s cold out.”

“Yeah, I didn’t think it would be. I’ll try to get a second helmet after work tom—well, no, not tomorrow night,” Puck says, frowning again. “I’ll be a little later tomorrow night.”

“That’s okay. I can walk until we get a second one,” Finn says. “I don’t want either of us not wearing one.”

“It’s like three minutes. You don’t need to walk. Maybe there’ll be a place open late, though.” Puck shrugs. “I’ve been going to temple most weeks. And see, good things, right?”

“Oh.” Finn seems to think about it for a moment. “Do you want me to go, too?”

“You’d probably be pretty bored. I mean, if you want to come sit in the back with me, that’s cool, but don’t feel like you have to,” Puck says with a shrug.

“I wouldn’t mind.”

“Okay, but you’re wearing the helmet,” Puck says, pulling back and grinning.

“Okay. If that’ll make you happy,” Finn says.

Puck nods and then kisses Finn. “Yeah, that’ll make me happy.”

He probably overdoes it on Friday while Finn’s at work and then when Puck goes in, calling the desk at Harrah’s too many times just to check in with Finn. As he drives back from the salt barn, he decides that he should probably add a line to his cell phone plan or something, and maybe buy Finn a prepaid phone in the meantime, so that Puck doesn’t drive the people at Harrah’s crazy.

There’s just enough time before temple to swing by the place on Plainfield and get a second helmet, which makes both of them happy, and afterwards, Puck stops at Walgreens for the second time in two days, this time getting a prepaid phone so he can at least text Finn while they’re both at work.

On Saturday as Puck unlocks the door, he starts to grin to himself. Yeah, he and Finn were roommates before, for what ended up being just a few short weeks, but it had felt different than this. In retrospect, it had felt temporary, and Puck knows he shouldn’t be too euphoric this quickly, but it already feels less temporary, and he carries that feeling into the apartment and through their late dinner, leaning against each other on the couch.

Puck tries to get off a little earlier on Sunday, closer to a thirteen hour shift, but it’s more like fifteen hours before he finally leaves. He walks down the hall, tired and cold, and when he stops in front of the door, he can hear Finn inside the apartment. The sound of Finn makes him start to smile, and just as quickly, his brain takes him back to a week earlier, to the previous Sunday, when he came home and there was no one inside the apartment, when Puck was alone, and he freezes there in front of the door, suddenly angry.

Puck doesn’t put his key into the lock, and he moves as silently as he can to the side of the door before sinking down against the wall, his fists clenched. He wants to punch Finn again, he wants to yell at Finn, he wants to know why Finn didn’t at least call once, and he wants to know why Finn didn’t Google himself or do something other than try to log in to Facebook. Why didn’t his Facebook being locked down not make Finn realize something was going on?

Puck keeps sitting in the hall, shaking a little with his hands still balled up, and he loses track of time while he calms down. He puts his legs straight out before stretching his hands out, forcing them to relax, and then he slowly stands up, one hand on the wall while he takes a few deep breaths. He’s not sure how he can be so glad to see Finn and still be so angry with him at the same time, but he is sure that storming in pissed off wouldn’t really do either of them any good.

He’s equally sure that if Finn saw how sad or lost Puck was or how angry he is, it wouldn’t really serve as any deterrent to it happening again. If Finn had been thinking rationally, it wouldn’t have happened in the first place. There’s nothing to be gained by going in mad, just an evening or at least part of one lost to shouting. Puck takes a few more deep breaths, then finally puts his key in the door as quietly as he can.

Puck is still mostly silent as he opens and closes the door, locking it behind him as he sets his bag down. He strips off his boots and outer layer of clothes there at the door, then starts walking down the hall. He keeps shedding clothes as he walks towards the living room and Finn, and by the time he reaches the doorway, he’s down to a single pair of socks, jeans, and underwear, and he drops his shirt behind him as he crosses the room.

“Hey,” he says, not giving Finn a chance to respond before he leans over and kisses him hard. Puck puts one hand on Finn’s head and the other on Finn’s shoulder, and he keeps kissing him as he swings his leg over and straddles Finn’s lap.

Once he’s settled, he moves the hand on Finn’s shoulder down to Finn’s waist, tugging on his t-shirt, and then he slides the hand on Finn’s head down Finn’s side to help pull up on Finn’s shirt. Puck trails his fingers over Finn’s skin as he works the fabric up, and he waits as long as he can before pulling Finn’s t-shirt over his head, putting his lips right back against Finn’s.

“I missed you,” Puck mutters, meaning both the nine months he missed Finn but also, more immediately, the sixteen hours he was at work and not with Finn.

“Missed you, too,” Finn says. “Is everything okay?”

“Like I said, I missed you,” Puck says, and he runs his hands down Finn’s chest, palms flat. “I missed you and I walked inside the building tired and cold and you’re in here warm.”

“I was warm until you put your ice cold hands on me,” Finn says. He puts his arms around Puck’s waist and pulls him down harder.

“You still feel warm to me. Maybe we should get under some blankets.”

“Sounds like a good idea to me,” Finn says. “Or we could just stay here on the sofa.”

“I guess that depends on if we want to lie down or not. This thing’s pretty short. It was the cheapest,” Puck says somewhat apologetically.

“Lying down sounds better,” Finn says.

Puck nods. “Yeah, me too,” he says, standing up and grabbing Finn’s hands in the process. “And you won’t get as cold as I did today.”

“I’ll have blankets and you.”

Even though Puck gets less sleep than he probably should on Sunday night, when he gets off work, he and Finn go up to Bolingbrook and the Ikea, because otherwise it won’t get delivered the next day while Puck’s at the apartment. The chest of drawers—which ends up matching the bed and the table beside the bed—and the table and chairs for the dining area are pretty easy, but when they get downstairs, they spent what might be too long debating what would be good art for the wall.

“I like the ducks, but the rooster’s cool too,” Puck says, staring at both of them.

“It’s… a black rooster,” Finn says. “A big black rooster.” He starts to laugh, doubling over and resting his hands on his thighs as he keeps laughing. “Puck! It’s a big black c—”

“Shut up,” Puck says, elbowing Finn in the side. “So what you’re saying is, we should get it for the bedroom, and leave the ducks in the living room?”

“Yeah,” Finn says, still laughing.

“Hey, you think we could find a reprint of those colorful soup cans and put it beside the ducks?” Puck asks. “We could find a nice red rooster to go in the bedroom, too.”

“Why red?”

Puck grins as widely as he can. “I figure they probably don’t have any art of pink roosters.”

Finn starts laughing harder again. “Oww, I can’t breathe!” he wheezes in between laughs.

“We could try to find a local artist willing to do a custom piece?”

“I don’t know. Do you think you should go looking on the internet for a picture of a big pink cock?” Finn asks.

“That depends on what kind of results we’re looking for,” Puck says, putting both the ducks and the black rooster in the cart next to the lightbulbs and extra plates. “Do we need anything else?”

“They have food, right?”

“Yeah, there’s a whole little shop after you pay for the furniture. You can get frozen meatballs.” After they check out and arrange the delivery stuff, Puck gestures to the food area. “And some other stuff.”

“Okay. I’ll get some stuff!” Finn says.

“I’ll get the chocolate,” Puck says, picking up a basket and putting several chocolate bars in it. After he finds the chocolate, he goes looking for Finn. “What is it?”

“Here. I think it’s for bagels,” Finn says, holding out what looks like a metal toothpaste tube with a picture of a fish. “Lax. That goes on bagels, right?”

“Lox.” Puck squints at it. “Uh, it is salmon, but… it’s in a tube.”

“So you can put it on bagels easy, I think.”

Puck shrugs. “Yeah, I guess so,” he agrees, holding out the basket for Finn to put the tube of salmon in. “Anything else you want to get?”

“Meatballs. Oh, and the gravy.” Finn puts those things into the basket. “Oh! And the potatoes!”

“Lingonberries, too?”

“We can get those?” Finn asks.

“Yep,” Puck says, picking up a jar. “So is this what I’m cooking for dinner tomorrow night?”

“Or I can. Either way. There’s instructions, right, ‘cause I kind of don’t know how to cook.”

“Yeah, but I’m off tomorrow, so I might as well figure out meatballs, right?”

“Sure. If you want. I want to help with stuff, though,” Finn says. “You should assign me some chores or something. Whatever stuff you don’t like to do, I can do.”

Puck laughs as they go pay for the meatballs and the rest of the stuff in the basket. “I’m not going to assign you chores like I’m some kind of authority figure, but if you suddenly develop a desire to clean the bathroom, I’m not going to stop you. Deal?”

“Deal.”

Ikea, or the sub-contractor for Ikea, brings the furniture on Tuesday, and they get it put together, and along with hanging the art, it makes the apartment look even more like a place where people live and less like a temporary landing pad. Puck also realizes that they’re each having to think about someone besides just themselves, which is new at least for Puck. If someone had asked him about it in the past, he would’ve said that at best it sounded like a drag. It’s not, though, not now that he’s actually living it. Puck hadn’t realized that he’d been a little bit lonely until he wasn’t anymore.

They’re doing really well, all things considered, and given it’s only been a week, but Puck knows that they need to let other people know that Finn’s alive. He also knows that before he takes Finn anywhere near Lima and the people there, a few things need to happen. He needs to feel like they’re stable enough, and they probably need a plan. Not just a plan for visiting, but a plan for the two of them, longer-term than just the end of December or the end of the snow season.

Saturday’s weather is unbelievably clear, and before seven, Puck and Finn are at home, dinner already eaten, leaning against each other on the sofa. “We need to make a plan,” Puck says after a few minutes pass peacefully.

“What for?” Finn asks.

“Us. ‘The future’. Telling people. All of those,” Puck says. “Like, I was planning on maybe taking classes every summer at the JC, and maybe an online class each fall. It’ll take me four years to get a two year degree, but that’s something, right?”

“Right. Is it okay for me to keep working at Harrah’s?” Finn asks, his eyes widening. “I don’t have to go back to school, right?”

Puck shakes his head. “No, but like… maybe after you get an ID again, there’s a job there you might want to apply for?” Puck nods towards Finn’s right hand. “Like if you could work any job at Harrah’s, which one would it be?”

“I don’t know. I’d like to work in the casino. Probably can’t do the fancy card dealing stuff, but maybe like a floor manager or something.”

“Cool. And like… I don’t know, we should probably get an older car. I can’t drive the motorcycle to work all winter, not when the roads get really bad. Maybe we could get something for a thousand or so.”

“Like a Volkswagen Beetle,” Finn suggests.

“Would you fit in a Beetle?” Puck asks.

“I wouldn’t not fit.”

Puck snorts. “Maybe not a Beetle. Anything else like that you can think of, long-term?”

“How are we telling people?” Finn asks. “Like, how do we make sure Burt doesn’t have another heart attack or somebody doesn’t try to hit me in the head with an ax.”

“I wasn’t worried about axes,” Puck says, shaking his head a little. “But I do think we have to do it in person. Maybe in a public place. I know it’s probably cruel to wait, but… there’s no way I can get the time off before Christmas.”

“Oh man,” Finn says softly, his shoulders slumping.

“Right after, maybe?” Puck offers, rubbing his hand across Finn’s forearm.

“My mom’s gonna have to do Christmas thinking I’m dead,” Finn says. “I’m the worst person who ever lived, ever.”

“No,” Puck says. “No, you aren’t. And yeah, it sucks, but we’ll go out right after Christmas, okay? She’ll be so glad to see you. Just like I was.”

“She’s gonna be so mad. She’s gonna be so upset,” Finn says, shaking his head and starting to sound a little frantic.

“She’s going to be happy.” Puck puts both hands on Finn’s face and turns it towards him. “She’s going to be confused and maybe a little mad, but she’s going to be so fucking happy, okay? You know how I know?”

“How?”

“‘Cause I was. And am.” Puck kisses Finn slowly. “Okay? Don’t worry about it. And I’ll make sure there’s no axes, either. Okay?”

“Okay,” Finn says. “I’m still so sorry.”

“I know. I know. I love you.” Puck drops his hands and leans against Finn’s shoulder. “I have another question. About here, not there.”

“Okay.”

“No, two,” Puck says, a second thought occurring to him. “One, maybe we should plan on buying a little house in a few years?”

“That would be kinda nice,” Finn says.

“Just something big enough for the two of us, but that’s ours,” Puck says, nodding. “And maybe… maybe after you have ID again…”

“Maybe?”

“Maybe one day we’re both off work we could just, you know. Make it official.”

Finn’s arm wraps around Puck, holding him close. “You… you’d want to?”

“Yeah. If you want to, I mean,” Puck says.

“Yeah. Yeah, I do want to,” Finn says. He presses his hand against Puck’s chest. “I want to.”

Puck lifts his head and smiles. “Awesome. See, those are all pretty good plans.”

“Yeah. Those are,” Finn says.

Puck kisses Finn once, then nods a little. “I’ll ask tomorrow about some days off the schedule, and you do the same, and we’ll work everything out back in Lima, and then come back home. Good?”

“Okay,” Finn says. “Good.”