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It's not hard to live like a ghost

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“Wake up, sleepyhead,” Puck says quietly from next to Finn’s ear. “If you get up now, we have time to get breakfast at the Waffle House or something.”

Finn smiles and stretches before opening his eyes. “Bribing me awake with food?”

“Nah, that was just information,” Puck says, then kisses Finn. “If I were bribing you, I would have mentioned a BJ.”

“That would work even better,” Finn says.

“There’s not actually time for that,” Puck admits, frowning. “Later today, maybe. Tonight definitely.”

“I could skip the waffles.”

Puck’s frown gets deeper. “Finn. You know how I feel about waffles.”

Finn runs his thumb across Puck’s cheek. “Please? It might be bad, later.”

“It won’t be. If it is, we’ll come back here, or we’ll go home,” Puck says firmly. “You’re just trying to get a twofer.”

“Puck,” Finn says, still touching Puck’s face. He’s not sure he really has the right to admit how scared he is, after everything, but Puck can usually figure those things out without Finn having to tell him.

“We’re more than good. You know that thing about New Year’s Eve? I’m going to come find you at work and make sure I’m there at midnight,” Puck says. “And I guess I could text Jake again and push it back another half hour.”

“Maybe we could just go back to Joliet now,” Finn says. “Maybe them not knowing is better.”

“Yeah, I know. But it’s like a damn BandAid or whatever. You’ll feel better all next month without it hanging over you.”

“Maybe…” Finn shakes his head, because Puck’s right. He sighs loudly. “Okay. Waffles.”

Puck nods and smiles a little, kissing Finn again. “Okay.”

They eat at Waffle House, but don’t take their time. Puck thinks they should get there ten minutes or so before Jake. Puck spends those ten minutes looking around the Lima Bean like he’s planning to rob it later. When Puck spots Jake outside, he jumps up to intercept him, talking very quietly before almost herding Jake towards the back corner table Finn’s sitting at.

“Just… just don’t freak out when you turn around,” Puck says as they get close. He steps to the side, sitting back down beside Finn, and Jake pivots slowly, looking confused for a few seconds before his eyes start getting wider and wider.

“Oh my fucking god,” Jake finally says in a whisper, and when he starts to sit down, Puck kicks a chair closer to him. “Holy shit. You’re… wow. Wow, okay.” He scratches his head a little and then nods. “Hey.”

“Hi,” Finn says. He shifts a little in his chair, drumming his fingertips on the table. “So, um. How have you been?”

“Probably better than you have,” Jake says with a shrug. “Uh, are you living near Puck, then?”

Finn run his hand through his hair and glances over at Puck. “Yeah, you could say that.”

“More like with, now,” Puck says. “Near in the sense of inches. You want some hot chocolate?”

“Yeah, thanks,” Finn says, trying to smile at Puck and maybe managing half a smile. “Do you think they have the Christmas kind, still?”

“I’ll ask,” Puck says, standing up and leaning over to kiss Finn before he walks up to order.

“Did I just…” Jake says, blinking twice and staring between Finn and Puck.

“Yeah. Like he said,” Finn says, actually smiling now. “Inches. Usually not even that far.”

“Well, okay. Good.” Jake stares at Finn without blinking this time. “Don’t make him that sad again.”

“I won’t,” Finn says, shaking his head.

Jake keeps staring, then nods and leans back in his chair. “I guess you’re probably going to surprise a few people.”

“I guess so,” Finn says.

“Yeah, just getting a couple of drinks,” Puck’s voice suddenly says a little too loudly and a little too fast. “See you two later. Around.”

Finn lifts his head and cranes his neck, trying to see who Puck is talking to. Jake turns around briefly, then looks back at Finn, his eyes wide again, and he winces. “I’m right about no one else knowing yet?”

Finn nods. “We thought it would be better if they found out in person.”

“Well, they’re here in person,” Jake says.

“No, really, I’ll call your dad or something, Kurt!” Puck says. “I’m sure you two have somewhere to be. Don’t worry about giving me your number.”

“Oh,” Finn says softly. “Oh shit. Oh shit, I’m not— we weren’t—” He stands up, pushing in his chair, back towards Puck and Kurt and whoever else might be with Kurt, Blaine maybe.

Finn?” Rachel’s voice says, carrying over the rest of the sounds in the room. Finn feels himself slowly turning without making a decision to do so. As he faces Rachel, who has Kurt on one side and Puck next to Kurt, looking freaked out, Kurt lets out a high-pitched scream.

“Oh my god, Finn!”

“Oh shit,” Finn says. Rachel goes pale and crumples to the ground, Kurt immediately kneeling beside her, still staring at Finn.

“How?” Kurt asks. He puts his hand on Rachel’s shoulder and gently shakes her. “How—”

“I can explain,” Finn says, “if you’ll just—”

“How could you?” Kurt finally blurts out. “How could you, Finn? How could you do this?”

Finn looks at Puck, who glares at Kurt. “I didn’t— It wasn’t something that I—”

“Stop badgering him!” Puck finally says. “We’ll all sit down.”

“No!” Kurt says, stepping towards Finn. For a second, Finn thinks maybe Kurt is going to hug him, but then Kurt’s fists start beating at Finn’s chest. Finn just stands there and lets Kurt hit him and scream at him. “How could you do this to us? To me? To Carole? How could you do this to Rachel, you son of a bitch!”

“He didn’t know!” Puck pulls Kurt away enough to slide between Kurt and Finn, his back against Finn’s chest. “He didn’t fucking know. And shut up about Rachel.”

“He faked his own death!” Kurt shrieks. “How— and you. You.” He points his finger at Puck. “You knew! Did you help him? Did you know all this time and not tell us?”

“I knew the same things your dad and Carole knew!” Puck yells back at Kurt. “That they didn’t find a body. That’s all I knew. He didn’t mean to fake it. He thought he texted me. Okay? He didn’t mean to!”

“Liar! You’re both liars,” Kurt say. He’s started to cry at some point, and his eyes are wet and red. “She got your name tattooed on her side, Finn, and you were faking it.”

“I wasn’t,” Finn whispers. “I didn’t mean for anyone to think that.”

“He didn’t ask for that,” Puck says, almost growling.

“Finn,” Rachel says, walking up to Kurt and holding one hand on her cheek. “You’re back! I had dreams about this, that you came back for me!”

“I didn’t— Rach, I wasn’t dead,” Finn says. “I’m so sorry that you thought I was. I didn’t know, not until I found Puck.”

“But you are back! When did you find Noah? Was it yesterday, or did it take you longer to get to Lima?”

“Yeah, Lima totally first priority,” Puck mutters, but probably not loudly enough for Rachel or Kurt to hear.

“I, uh. It was, well.” Finn puts his hand on Puck’s shoulder to help steady himself. “It’s been a few weeks now. We thought, or, well, Puck thought— I thought that maybe I should see somebody, before I came here. So I was ready and wouldn’t…” He sighs, shrugging slightly.

“Oh.” Rachel frowns a little, then brightens again. “You can come back to New York with us!”

Finn shakes his head. “No. No, I can’t do that.”

“You can’t even do that for her?” Kurt asks. “You really are a monster.”

“Why exactly does he owe his high school ex that much?” Puck counters.

“They were alway going to end up together,” Kurt says, putting his arm around Rachel’s shoulders.

“We weren’t together,” Finn says. “Not then.”

“It was just a matter of time, though, right?” Rachel says. “After you’ve seen your mom and Burt, you can come to New York. It’s good you found him for us, Noah.”

“Excuse me?” Puck says incredulously.

“Rachel,” Finn says softly. “I’m not coming to New York. Not now. Not later.”

“Oh my god,” Kurt says, putting his free hand up to his mouth. “No. No! You have got to be kidding me!”

“What? What is it, Kurt?” Rachel asks.

“They’re together, Rachel,” Kurt says.

“Who’s tog—Noah?” Rachel says. Puck shrugs and must do something else to indicate ‘yes’, because Rachel gasps and then stares at Finn again. "You're like Patty Hearst! You're just confused and you have Stockholm Syndrome! Maybe Noah knew all along and planned this, took advantage of your loneliness and confusion and didn't even get you any help! He should have called us, your family."

“You’re his ex-girlfriend, not his family!” Puck yells.

“It’s okay,” Finn says, leaning close to Puck’s ear. “They’re allowed to be mad. It’s okay.”

“They’re allowed to be mad, they’re not allowed to be like this,” Puck says, folding his arms across his chest. “She just accused me of… I don’t even know what it is, and she’s not your family.”

“I was going to be!”

“Rachel—” Finn begins, but Kurt cuts him off.

“I never thought you of all people would turn out to be so cruel,” Kurt says, pulling Rachel a little closer. “It’s not enough to fake your death? You have to come back with him and rub our faces in it?”

“Hey! That’s enough,” Finn says. “Don’t talk about him like that. You can be mad at me, but Puck didn’t do anything but help me and make sure I was safe. He’s so good to me! Of course I love him. Of course I’m in love with him!”

Puck turns his head towards Finn. “I love you, too,” he says quietly, but loud enough Rachel and Kurt can hear it. “It’s more than good, right, like I said?” He turns back toward Kurt and Rachel and his voice gets louder again. “No one’s rubbing your face in anything, and if you want to settle whatever your problem is with me, leave it to later.”

“Look, I’m sorry,” Finn says to Kurt and Rachel. “I’m so, so sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you, either of you. I didn’t mean to make you think I died. I didn’t mean for any of this to happen.”

Rachel sniffs and lifts her chin. “But you’re… with him? And you’re not coming to New York?”

“Yes, I’m with him, and no, I’m not going to New York,” Finn says.

“You’re really not going to be with me?”

Finn shakes his head, tightening his hand on Puck’s shoulder. “No. I’m sorry, Rach, but I’m not. I’m going to be with Puck.”

Rachel’s face falls, and she turns towards Kurt, dropping her face against his chest. “Can we go?”

“Yes, I think we should,” Kurt says, giving Finn and Puck one last hateful look before steering Rachel towards the exit.

Once they’ve left, Finn lets his shoulders droop and rests his forehead against the back of Puck’s head, trying not to cry. “I’m sorry,” he whispers into Puck’s hair. “I’m so sorry.”

“It’s okay,” Puck says, turning and wrapping his arms around Finn. “That… wasn’t really in the plan, but it’s okay.”

“Can I post this somewhere in a few days? Edited down?” Jake asks suddenly.

“What?” Finn asks, not turning to look at Jake.

“Mainly the part where he was beating on your chest. I can make sure there’s no faces showing,” Jake says.

“I forgot you were still here,” Puck says. “Sorry, bro.”

“Huh?” Finn turns towards Jake, who has his phone up, like he’s showing it to them. “You took a video?”

“I thought it’d be interesting!” Jake says. “I didn’t realize it’d be that interesting. So can I? Like a Vine.”

“Dude,” Puck says, lifting his head up and glaring at Jake. “Dude, no.”

“Finn?” Jake says pleadingly.

“What’s a Vine?” Finn asks.

“It’s a looping video clip,” Jake says. “Really short.”

“I said no!” Puck says. “Finn, tell him no. United front.”

“No faces?” Finn asks.

“Finn!” Puck says, pouting at him. Finn leans in and kisses Puck, gently nipping Puck’s pouty lip. Puck doesn’t kiss back right away, but after a few seconds he does.

“I’ll text you later, bro!” Jake says while they’re still kissing.

“That sneak,” Puck says when they pull apart, but he looks almost impressed before he looks horror-struck. “Oh shit.”

“What? What’s wrong?” Finn asks.

“We need to call Carole and Burt like, now, and get over there,” Puck says. “Otherwise, who knows what they’re going to tell them.”

“Oh,” Finn says. “Oh shit.”