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Bring My History Home

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The gate slams shut behind Finn with a loud metallic clang, and it's almost the sound of freedom. Almost, but not quite. He only has to stand on the curb outside Allen Oakwood Correctional Institution for a few minutes before he hears the familiar rumbling of engines in the distance, coming closer. He knows those engines, has gotten their grease under his nails during maintenance, knows the different pitches of each bike, a symphonic roar that sounds like, yeah, okay, freedom. That's what freedoms sounds like.

When Puck pulls up on his Softail Cross Bones, one of the prospects next to him on Finn's Dyna Wide-Glide, and the Hudson-Hummel Automotive van behind them, Finn has to smile.

“Took you long enough,” Finn says, over the engines’ smooth growl.

The prospect vacates Finn’s bike like his ass had never graced the seat, not even making eye contact as he bolts for the van’s passenger side door. Finn swings a leg over the Dyna, settling into the leather-covered seat that knows exactly how to hold him. Feels like freedom, too, come to think of it.

Puck picks up Finn’s cut from his lap and leans towards him, holding it out. Finn slips it on and resettles in his seat.

“Got my helmet?” Finn asks Puck.

“Pussy,” Puck says with a snicker, tossing Finn his helmet.

“Pussy that’s actually gonna live to see thirty,” Finn says, strapping on his helmet. “We good?”

“We good,” Puck says with a nod.

Finn starts his bike, revving the engine loudly a few times before he peels out, Puck’s bike just behind him. He looks over his shoulder to watch Puck flipping the prison off as they turn right onto Chapman, headed in the direction of the club. Puck pulls up level with Finn and the both of them grin at each other like idiots for a minute before they put their eyes back on the road. They ride back into town like that, side by side, all the way to the parking lot of Hudson-Hummel Automotive.

Puck keeps driving around to the back to park outside the clubhouse, but Finn stops out front of the shop. Unless something’s majorly changed in the last ten months, Carole should still be in the front office. He leaves his helmet on the bike and goes into the office. Sure enough, Carole’s bent over a binder on the desk, frowning at some kind of spreadsheet.

“Hey Mom,” Finn says.

Carole startles and then looks up to glare at Finn. “You should have knocked!” she says as she stands up, walking around the desk.

“I can’t walk into my own shop anymore?” Finn asks, holding his arms out for Carole. Carole steps into them, hugging him.

“Not if you scare your mother!”

“Yeah, I can tell you’re terrified,” Finn says. He keeps one arm around Carole as he continues. “How’s business? Burt’s not overworking you, is he?”

“Overworking himself, maybe,” Carole says. “Puck meet you?”

“Yeah, he headed back to the club, probably to tell them to get ready to crank the party up,” Finn says.

“What party?” Carole asks.

“Yeah, right, Mom.” Finn shakes his head. “Not my first rodeo, remember? I know there’s gonna be a party.”

“I don’t know anything about a party, I’m sure,” Carole says.

“Then I guess I’d better head back to the clubhouse and see if anybody’s there,” Finn says.

Carole shakes her head. “Give your mother another hug first.” Finn reels her back in and hugs her again tightly.

“I’ll definitely not see you back there for the party that’s not happening,” Finn says.

“That’s right, you won’t.”

“I just hope the cake you didn’t order’s the marble kind!” Finn calls out as he pushes the door open into the back of the shop. Big Paul’s under a minivan, the shop otherwise empty. “Hey, Big Paul!”

“Welcome back!” Big Paul calls back, still under the minivan.

“What’s wrong with the Schuester-mobile this time?”

“Mrs. Terri ran it over a curb, beat up the radiator.”

“You tell Schue, get her one of those hands-free things before she totals it,” Finn says. “I’m heading on back.”

“Later, Finn.”

“Later, Big Paul!”

Finn walks out the back bay towards the club. As he reaches for the door, he can hear some kind of scuffling around inside, and somebody shouting at somebody else to shush. He schools his face into a blank look so he can look appropriately surprised, then he swings the door open.

“Hey, look who’s back!” Puck says loudly.

“Hey everybody,” Finn says, lifting a hand in a wave, and then the room erupts in cheers and hoots, somebody cranks up the music, and somebody else shoves a shot glass into Finn’s hand. Finn tosses back the shot and someone hands him another one from his other side. Puck appears beside him and slings his arm across Finn’s shoulders before steering him towards the bar. Kurt’s on a stool near the end, next to Slick, and they both look up at Finn as he approaches.

“Welcome home!” Kurt says. He stands and grabs Finn into a hug.

“Hey! How’s it been, brother?” Finn asks, hugging Kurt back. “Everything good.”

“Oh yes, it’s been good. We’re just glad you’re back,” Kurt says. As he releases Finn and steps back, Slick catches Finn’s eye and nods. Finn nods back.

“C’mon,” Puck says, steering Finn away. “Don’t let Artie take you out to see his new bike tonight, right now we’re partying.”

“Shit, did he finally get the Conquest?” Finn asks.

“Yeah, last month.”

“Sweet. I’ll have to take a look at it. Did he get the red?”

Puck shakes his head. “The black.”

“Too bad. The red was nice,” Finn says. When he looks back towards the bar, Slick is still staring at him. Finn nods again, then turns back towards Puck. “Jack and Coke?”

“Aww, it’s so nice you want to bartend for your own party,” Puck says.

Finn rolls his eyes and reaches across the bar, grabbing a bottle of Jack. “Jackass,” he says, opening the bottle and taking a swig out of it.

“Just keep that bottle,” Puck says.

“Yeah, screw the Coke, right?”

“You deserve it. As long as you share.”

“No way, man. Get your own,” Finn says. “Ten months. This one’s all mine.”

“I don’t even like Jack that much, and you know it,” Puck says with a loud snort.

“Good. We agree, then,” Finn says. He takes another swig from the bottle and looks around the room, frowning a little before quietly asking, “She’s not here?”

Puck shakes his head. “She knows about it.”

“Okay,” Finn says, nodding a few times before tipping the bottle up and taking another big swallow.

“She might’ve slammed the door when she heard about it.”

Finn nods again. “So where’s Burt?”

“Conducting actual legitimate business for another hour or so. He’ll be back as soon as he can,” Puck says. “You see Mama Carole?”

“Yeah. I spooked her, and she tried to tell me you weren’t throwing a party, like I’d never seen somebody come home from County before,” Finn says.

“It’s the illusion of surprise that’s important. It’s good she gets that.”

“It’s all about keeping Mom happy,” Finn says, grinning at Puck. “Now find you a bottle, ’cause I’m already at least three shots ahead of you.”

“’Cause you need the head start,” Puck retorts.

“Yeah. Now catch me.”

Puck laughs and picks up a bottle, taking a drink. “Good plan. Better run.”

“Yeah. You know it,” Finn says quietly, taking another swig from his bottle. Puck’s next drink out of his bottle—probably vodka, but his hand is covering the label—is even longer, and he shrugs, looking like he’s about to say something else before drinking more instead.

They lean on the bar, drinking from their bottles and having a smoke, for a good long while until the club door swings open again with a whoosh of air that doesn’t smell like smoke and stripper, and Burt comes in, his arm around Carole’s waist. They make a beeline for Finn, Carole hugging him again before Burt can say anything.

Once Carole has disentangled herself from Finn, Burt gives him a quick hug-and-back-pat combo. “Nice to see you home, son,” Burt says.

“Yeah, it’s good to be here,” Finn says.

“Take a few days and then come by for dinner,” Carole says. “I’ll make your favorite.”

“Extra cheese, right?” Finn asks.

“And don’t forget to mix the green chilis in with the chicken,” Puck says. “He’ll cry if you forget the chilis.”

“Nah. I’ll cry if you accidentally buy those habañeros instead of the chilis,” Finn says.

Carole laughs. “I’ll only buy habañeros if it’s going to be April Fools’, I promise.”

“Hey, good idea. I’m gonna remember that,” Puck says.

“Jackass,” Finn says, then takes a swig from his bottle.

“Church Tuesday night,” Burt says, clapping Finn on the shoulder. “We’ll get you all caught up on business.”

“Yeah, good deal,” Finn says. “Now you two go get yourselves something to drink before the prospects get into it and finish it all.”

“And make themselves puke,” Puck agrees.

Burt chuckles and steers Carole by the waist to the other end of the bar to talk to Kurt and Slick. Puck takes a long drink, like he’s trying to catch up with Finn in a single swig, and then Artie rolls up with one of the girls from the Landing Strip in his lap, holding a bottle of tequila and a salt shaker. Artie has several discarded lime wedges around him, too.

“Good to see you, brother,” Artie says, reaching a hand up for Finn to grip, pulling Finn down into a one-armed hug across the stripper, who giggles.

“Heard you got some new wheels,” Finn says.

“Yeah! Let me find a place to drop Brittany and I’ll take you out and—”

“I told you not to get him started,” Puck says, rolling his eyes. “He’ll see it before the week’s over, Artie. Right now he’s got ten months of drinking to make up for, and I’m apparently going to do at least nine to catch him.”

“Chang and his old lady are in from Chicago. I think I saw them around the back,” Artie says. “Now, if you gentlemen’ll excuse me, my lady friend and I are looking for some fresh limes.”

Finn laughs as Artie rolls away. “How is it that Artie gets more action than anybody else in this club?” Finn asks.

“The ladies love a sweet ride, I guess,” Puck says.

“Yeah, I guess,” Finn agrees, shaking his head.

“Plus I think he still drives more recklessly than everyone else. Maybe they like the thrill.”

“Well, he does,” Finn says.

Puck shrugs. “Guess he can’t get paralyzed again.”

“Finn!” Chang calls from across the club, one arm around Tina and the other waving Finn over.

“I better go shake some hands and kiss some babes,” Finn says. “Getting out of County’s kinda like running for president.”

“Try shaking some babes. Find you later,” Puck says with a nod, taking another long swig.

Three boys on dirtbikes make tracks through a muddy cornfield. Two of them, obviously older than the third, pop wheelies and intentionally spin out across the slick mud. The smaller, younger boy’s bike is notably cleaner than the other two. All three boys have rifle-style bb guns slung across their backs on straps. All three boys wear black t-shirts with the same logo: a reaper holding a scythe made from an automatic rifle and a sphere with an anarchy “A” on it.

The tallest boy, Finn, is twelve. The smallest, his step-brother Kurt, is ten. The middle-sized boy, his head freshly shaved into a mohawk, is Finn's best friend Puck, who just turned thirteen. They should all be in class, but instead, they’re in a field a half-mile to the west of Lima, Ohio, just south of Elida, following Puck towards the Ottawa River.

“Screw those pussies at school,” Puck says, jumping off his bike. “Snow’s finally gone.”

“Mom said if she caught us skipping again, she’d lock up our bikes,” Kurt says.

Finn laughs as he rolls his bike up next to Puck’s, leaning it against a tree. “Puck’d just pick the locks again, like he did when we got suspended for the Jesse thing.”

“Mama Carole knows that, too,” Puck says.

“But she said,” Kurt insists.

“Yeah, she always says,” Finn says. “Burt won’t let her, anyway. He knows a man needs his bike.”

“Just tell ’em Finn made you,” Puck says to Kurt.

Kurt screws his face up into a scowl. “No way! I’m not a rat!”

“We know that,” Finn says, grabbing Kurt with one arm and giving him a rough hug. “You just worry too much. Come on, we can eat our lunch and then shoot at the fish for a while.”

“She’s gotta say that stuff,” Puck says to Kurt. “For the people that don’t get it. And we can do something else, too.”

“I don’t really like shooting the fish,” Kurt says.

Puck digs into his lunch. “The fish don’t have any feelings, Kurtie-boy. And I got the Jim Beam,” he says, lifting the bottle out of his lunch.

“Sweet!” Finn says, pulling Kurt towards the riverbank with him and making him sit, before doling out both their lunches. “It’s ’cause you’re finally old enough to drink with us. We couldn’t bring you before, since you were still just a little kid. Now you’re ten, though, almost eleven.”

“I don’t think we’re supposed to drink Jim Beam, Finn,” Kurt says. He takes a small bite of his PB&J. “Mr. Rusty says it’ll stunt our growth.” Finn busts out laughing, hard enough that he has to rest his head on his knees.

Puck laughs as he opens his chips. “You don’t have to call my dad Mister!”

“It stunted my growth!” Finn crows, still laughing into the torn knee of his jeans. “I’m totally stunted!”

“You don’t have to laugh at me!” Kurt says, crossing his arms and huffing.

“Aw, don’t get mad,” Finn says, slinging his arm around Kurt’s shoulders.

“Here, you can take the first sip,” Puck says. He opens the Jim Beam and offers it to Kurt.

Kurt wrinkles up his nose. “It smells.”

“Just try it,” Finn says, shaking Kurt by the shoulders a little. “Come on. It’ll be good for you.”

Kurt takes the bottle and sniffs it again. “You’re sure this is a good idea?” He glances at Puck, then back at Finn. “Mom’s going to be really mad.”

“Nah, not as long as you don’t come home puking-drunk,” Finn says.

“First time I came home smelling like it, my dad was proud of me,” Puck says. “Said so.”

Finn nods. “Yeah, and all Mom said to me was ‘Oh Finn’, and then she told me I had to take a shower so Burt didn’t smell how I smelled.”

“Yeah, and my mom? Didn’t even notice.”

“Okay,” Kurt says. He puts the bottle to his lips and tips it up, taking a swallow and coming away coughing and sputtering. “That’s awful!”

“You’ll get used it,” Finn says. “You can’t drink that fruity stuff like Tessie and some of them company girls do.”

“Drink it faster.” Puck takes the bottle and takes a big, fast gulp. “Like that.” He passes it back to Kurt and nods.

Kurt takes a longer swig this time, grimacing as he swallows, but not coughing this time. Finn slaps him on the back, laughing, before swiping the bottle from him and chugging a couple swallows himself. Finn hands the bottle back to Puck before picking up his bag of Cheetos.

“I can’t wait until we’re old enough to patch in,” Finn says, crunching a couple Cheetos before offering Puck the bag. “We’ll be like double-brothers then.”

Puck grabs a handful of Cheetos as he takes another gulp from the bottle. “And nobody can even try to lock our bikes up.”

“Yeah. Once we’re in the club for real, nobody can tell us what to do except ourselves. It’ll be like…” Finn trails off, looking at Puck expectantly to fill the blank in for him.

Puck nods. “Totally free.”

Finn’s picking up pieces of broken beer bottles from the night before when Puck comes in, half of a cigarette between his teeth. “We’ve got prospects for that,” Puck says, leaning against the bar counter.

“Those prospects?” Finn asks, tipping his head towards the pool table, where Ryder and Rick are both passed out, their arms wrapped around the fat woman from the Landing Strip who dances under the name La Luchadora Grande.

“I can get ’em up,” Puck says, and he starts to straighten, already glaring at them.

“Nah, let ’em sleep,” Finn says. “I think they earned it.”

Puck rolls his eyes but doesn’t head towards Ryder and Rick. “You could leave the bottles for them.”

“It’s gonna be my place, right? I’ve gotta look after it,” Finn says. He drops the glass in his hands into the can next to him.

“Sure, if you’re gonna be that hands on, go for it,” Puck says, and he leans over, picking up another broken bottle before walking it over to the same can. He lets the bottle fall in, standing in front of Finn and not moving.

“Staying to help?” Finn asks. He picks up another piece of glass, along with a wad of napkins and what looks like—and he hopes he’s wrong—a cigarette butt inside a used condom. “You might want to think twice.”

Puck shrugs. He looks around the club and back at Finn. “You don’t want the help?”

“I don’t mind it. Just wasn’t sure you wouldn’t mind it,” Finn says. He nudges the trash can in Puck’s direction.

“Hey, if you’re going hands-on,” Puck says with another shrug, and he picks up a couple of empty bottles from the bar, along with a wad of some kind of paper.

Finn laughs once, quietly and bitterly. “Yeah. Hands-on.”

Puck picks up more trash and stubs out his cigarette, tossing the trash and the butt in the can and standing too close to Finn. “Could always just run a hose over the floor.”

“Probably want to run a hose over the prospects and their friend, too,” Finn says.

“Hey, leave Lauren out of it,” Puck says with a frown.

“Lauren?”

“Yeah, Lauren,” Puck says, still frowning at Finn. “Let me guess, you only knew her stage name?”

“Yeah, she dances at the Landing Strip,” Finn says. “So?”

“So what’s your beef with her?”

“Huh? I don’t have a beef with her. She’s just another company girl.”

“Then don’t run a hose over her,” Puck says.

“Alright. Fine. No hose for Lauren,” Finn says. “I didn’t realize you two were so tight.”

“Guess you didn’t need to. Or didn’t care. Whichever,” Puck says. He picks up more trash from the floor and tosses it back and forth in his hands before tossing it in the can. He turns towards Finn and raises an eyebrow.

“Yeah. I’ve kinda been busy the last ten months or so,” Finn says. He drops the broken glass he just picked up into the can.

“Before that, too.”

“Somebody had to take care of shit while Burt was getting better,” Finn says.

Puck snorts. “Like I said, before that, too.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Finn asks. He stands up, throwing the last handful of trash into the can. “Have you got a problem?”

“You know exactly what it means,” Puck says, looking almost amused. “If I had a big ol’ problem, would I be picking up trash with you?”

“No, I don’t know what it means, or I wouldn’t be fucking asking you,” Finn says.

“You had your rumspringa, all that,” Puck says. “You weren’t exactly keeping in touch. And then you were taking care of shit. Too busy to look around.”

“And what would I look around at, Puck? You made it pretty clear how it was the night before I left. It was never gonna be more than our secret.”

“No, you made it clear when you left.”

“I asked you to come with me,” Finn says.

“After you lied to me. I didn’t know you had your great escape planned.” Puck rolls his eyes. “Like I said before, you don’t get it. You’re gonna take over. You can get away with shit I can’t.”

“I asked you to come with me,” Finn repeats. “We both could’ve gotten out. We could’ve stayed out, stayed together.”

“You didn’t want me to come with you, or you would have told me before then. You would have asked when you weren’t fucking me,” Puck says harshly.

“I wouldn’t have fucked you if I didn’t want you to come with me,” Finn says. He takes a step in Puck’s direction, crowding him.

Puck doesn’t move, staring at Finn. “It wasn’t even your idea.”

“What are you talking about? Of course it was,” Finn says.

“Oh, sure, yeah, you had the lube and everything,” Puck says, still staring at Finn, and he takes a half-step towards Finn, almost bringing them into contact.

“So maybe I’m not the one who planned to fuck in a van,” Finn says. “So what? I did it, didn’t I? I wanted to, and I did, and I asked you to come with me. I wanted you to come with me.”

“You want me to clap it out ’cause you fucked me? You didn’t. You hid it from me. Snuck out.”

“All I wanted was you, but what you wanted was to get off and pretend it didn’t happen,” Finn says. “So? You got what you wanted.”

“Is that what you tell yourself?”

“You want to know what I tell myself?” Finn asks. “Is this really what you’re even pissed about? Four fucking years later, I just got out of County, and this is the shit you wanna fight about?”

“Not like we ever had this fight,” Puck says. “We acted like it hadn’t really happened.”

“You didn’t seem to have a problem with your dick in my mouth when I got back. Didn’t seem like you really needed to talk about it. I was back, I stopped talking about leaving together, and I sure as shit figured out you were right about keeping shit a secret. Why would you need to talk about it?” Finn asks.

“Is that what you think? I’m just in it to get off?”

Finn sighs. “Dammit, Puck. I know you love me, but Jesus Christ, you are a stupid fuck sometimes.”

“Fuck you,” Puck says, half-heartedly shoving Finn’s shoulders. Finn grabs Puck by the front of his cut and yanks him up, slamming his mouth roughly against Puck’s. Puck immediately kisses back, his hand fisting in Finn’s shirt. It’s tongues and teeth for a full minute, then Finn abruptly lets go, shoving Puck away.

“Ready to make me some promises now, asshole?” Finn asks, his voice catching slightly.

“You’re still so fucking naïve,” Puck says. He pushes against Finn’s shoulders repeatedly, stepping closer each time, then grabs Finn’s neck and starts kissing him again. Finn wraps his arms around Puck, grabbing Puck’s shirt in his hands and feeling it bunch up, exposing Puck’s sides. Puck’s other hand is still on Finn’s shoulder, pushing him backwards as they kiss. Finn runs his hands along Puck’s side, and he presses his dick against Puck’s hip, grinding against him.

Puck shoves against Finn with his hand and his hip, his other hand pinching at Finn’s neck as he grinds on Finn, his body lifting up a little. Finn grabs at Puck’s hips, lifting him more, until Puck’s legs wrap around him. Finn steps forward, resting Puck’s ass on the bar without breaking the kiss.

Puck squirms a little, his dick pushing hard against Finn, and he mumbles something into Finn’s mouth. Finn pulls away.

“What?” he asks.

“You wanna get naked?” Puck asks, his mouth still on Finn, moving over Finn’s neck.

“Fuck, yes,” Finn says. “Bathroom?”

“Oh. Okay. Or my place, if you can wait for the three minutes it takes to cut through over to Richie.”

“Yeah, that’s good, too,” Finn says.

“Yeah?” Puck grins and grinds against Finn again. “C’mon, then.”

“I’ve probably gotta let you up for that to happen, huh?”

“Unless you’re carrying me out of here.”

“And I’m thinking you won’t let me do that,” Finn says. He lets go of Puck’s hips and takes a step back, breathing raggedly.

Puck slides off the bar and grabs Finn’s wrist, heading for the door. “Not down Richie, no.”

“Yeah, I guess not. Walking’s fine, too.”

“Yeah.” Puck doesn’t say anything else as they walk out of the club and then straight back through the few trees, across someone’s back yard to get to Richie, but he doesn’t let go of Finn’s wrist either, not until they’re crossing the road and jog a little when a car approaches. Finn trots along behind Puck until they get to Puck’s shitty apartment building. Puck unlocks the main door, then heads up the stairs without checking to see if Finn’s behind him, stopping four doors down on the back side of the building and unlocking that door, too.

The inside of Puck’s apartment is as sparsely furnished as ever, the only noticeable change since Finn went to jail the addition of a new, scratched-up-looking game console next to the old game consoles and the stacks of porn DVDs. Puck drops his keys on the counter and locks the door behind them, then grabs Finn’s neck like before and pulls Finn’s mouth to his. Finn immediately puts his hands on Puck’s sides, yanking up Puck’s shirt so Finn can put hands on Puck’s skin.

Puck grinds against Finn, then lifts up on his toes to press harder against Finn as they’re still kissing. Puck’s other hand is on Finn’s upper arm, squeezing progressively harder. “Now you can carry me. Or not let me up.”

“Yeah,” Finn says, sliding the heels of his hands to Puck’s hips, so his hands are curved around the sides of Puck’s ass. He lifts, Puck hops a little, and then Finn’s got Puck in his arms, Puck’s legs wrapped around his waist. Finn walks them towards the bedroom, both of Puck’s hands on Finn’s shoulders and his mouth on Finn’s neck.

“You want this,” Puck says, his voice slightly muffled. “You want me.”

“You know I do,” Finn says. “I always did. I always have.”

“Little less muddy than the river.”

“A little,” Finn agrees. He drops Puck onto the bed and pulls Puck’s cut off before shrugging out of his own.

“Bed’s softer than the ground, anyway,” Puck says, pulling Finn back down into a hard kiss. “I want you, too.”

Finn puts his hands between them to undo Puck’s jeans. Puck’s hips stutter up, pressing against Finn’s hand. Finn kisses Puck harder, biting at his lips and sucking on his tongue as he shoves Puck’s jeans down past his hips. Puck squirms a little, kicking his legs to work his jeans down more, and he holds onto Finn’s neck and head, keeping him in the same place as they kiss.

“Would’ve taken you with me if you’d said yes,” Finn says between kisses, while he unzips his own jeans.

“And maybe I would’ve if you’d told me sooner,” Puck says. “Better just to drop that for now.”

“Puck,” Finn says softly.

“Finn. We’re here right now.”

Finn nods. “Yeah. Yeah, we are. We’re here.” He lifts Puck’s shirt, and Puck leans up, letting Finn pull it over his head. Finn runs his hands down Puck’s chest, circling Puck’s nipples with his thumbs and then moving his fingers back to trace over the words tattooed across the top of Puck’s chest from shoulder to shoulder: free until they cut me down. “This one’s new.”

Puck grins as his shoulders hit the bed again, his back arching just slightly towards Finn’s hands. “Eight or nine months, yeah.”

“It’s good,” Finn says, tracing the ‘f’. “I like it.”

“Good. And you need to get more naked,” Puck adds.

“Yeah? I can do that.” Finn pulls back from Puck to tug his t-shirt over his head, letting it drop. Puck’s grin gets wider and he puts his hands back on Finn’s shoulders.

“Missed you,” Puck says quietly.

“You could’ve come to visit,” Finn says. “I looked pretty hot in my jumpsuit.”

Puck frowns at Finn for a second or two, then snorts. “I’ll just have to hope someone took a picture for posterity, I guess.”

“Let’s just get it out there. Odds ain’t bad that it won’t be the only time I serve,” Finn says.

Puck frowns again. “Maybe. Maybe not. Sometimes nothing happens.”

Finn shrugs. “Yeah, maybe.”

“Anyway, better if you don’t, once you take over,” Puck says, still frowning.

“Yeah,” Finn says. He works his own jeans down. “Gimme a hand?”

“Like this?” Puck says, immediately looking happier, and he wraps his fingers around Finn’s dick. “That kinda hand?”

“Not exactly, but sure, yeah,” Finn says, laughing a little as he kicks his jeans off.

Puck jerks Finn off roughly for a few strokes, then stops, leaving his hand there. “Yeah,” he says. “Good kinda hand.”

“Yeah. Shit. Don’t stop,” Finn says. He rocks his hips, thrusting down into Puck’s hand.

“Yeah?” Puck says, moving his hand again. “You wanna come twice? All over me and then inside me?”

“You want me to fuck you?” Finn asks. “You finally realize I’m not ever gonna leave you?”

“Yeah, I want you to fuck me. If you’re good with that.”

“Shit. Yeah, I want to. I’m good with it.”

Puck grins and his hand moves faster, his movements rougher than before. “Yeah, okay. Good.” He squeezes Finn’s dick a little, pulling on Finn’s hips with his other hand.

“Could be more than twice, for both of us,” Finn says. “We could stay here all day. All night.”

“Yeah.” Puck laughs. “Just woke up and already making plans for the next night.” He tugs on Finn, any pretext of gentleness gone, and his hand speeds up again. “Shit, yeah.”

“That’s so fucking good, Puck,” Finn says. He closes his eyes and keeps touching Puck’s chest and sides. Puck squeezes his hand around Finn again, pulling with each stroke.

“Yeah, come on, come on me,” Puck says, almost chanting. Finn’s breath catches, his body jerking as he starts to come, hard, on Puck’s stomach. Puck doesn’t stop moving his hand until Finn is completely still, and he runs his fingers slowly over Finn’s dick as he releases it. “Yeah, just like that,” Puck says. He looks and sounds pleased, pulling Finn down against him and kissing him hard.

Finn rolls onto his back, pulling Puck on top of him and reaching for Puck’s dick. Puck braces himself, holding his body just a few inches above Finn’s, and he pushes his hips forward, moving his dick into Finn’s hand. Finn tightens his hand around Puck’s dick, stroking him and kissing him.

“Yeah, good, good,” Puck says, shifting his weight and changing his position slightly until he’s still thrusting into Finn’s hand and one leg is between Finn’s leg, pressing against Finn’s still-limp dick. Finn whines quietly, still sensitive, but he doesn’t move away. Puck kisses Finn harder, bringing their chests together as he lets more of his weight drop onto Finn.

“Want me to keep doing this?” Finn murmurs against Puck’s mouth. He starts getting hard again, pressing up against Puck’s thigh. “You want to come like this?”

“I sure as hell don’t want you to stop,” Puck says, and he slides his leg along Finn’s dick. “Or maybe you mean versus in your mouth?”

“Yeah, if you want. It’s been a long ten months.”

“I remember your mouth.”

“Yeah?” Finn asks, rolling them back over and slowly sliding down Puck’s body, until his lips are near the head of Puck’s dick, Finn’s breath puffing against it.

“Yeah.” Puck’s hands grab at Finn’s head, pulling at his hair. “Hot and wet and awesome.”

Finn lets his lips slide around the head, sucking and licking as he takes Puck’s dick into his mouth. He grabs Puck’s hips with his hands to hold him down. Puck whines, trying to move his hips a little before they go still, and his hands jerk in Finn’s hair again.

“Fuck, yeah, that mouth,” Puck says.

Finn works his mouth around Puck’s dick, taking him in deeper and pressing down on Puck’s hips, his fingers digging into Puck’s skin. Puck whines again, louder than before, but his body stays still under Finn. Finn sucks and licks and slides his lips up and down Puck’s shaft. He keeps his eyes closed for most of it, but occasionally opens them and looks at Puck’s face, watching his expression. Puck is half-smiling, watching Finn and letting out whines and other noises that get increasingly louder the longer Finn’s mouth is on Puck’s dick.

“Definitely all day and all night, those whore lips you’ve got,” Puck says.

Finn would smile if he could, but instead he just pulls back slightly to lap at the head of Puck’s dick before taking him in deep again. Puck releases a series of moans and yells, his hips barely trying to move. He doesn’t warn Finn, pulling Finn’s head down and then almost immediately coming hard with a final indistinct yell.

Finn swallows and slowly pulls back, lightly licking a few times as Puck’s dick slides out of his mouth. “Good?” he asks Puck.

“So good,” Puck says, leaning up to kiss Finn. As they kiss, Puck presses his leg against Finn’s dick, rock-hard again, and Puck puts one hand on Finn’s ass, pulling him closer to grind against Puck’s leg.

“Missed you, too, you know,” Finn says.

“You’d better’ve, jackass” Puck says with a wide grin. He pulls Finn against him repeatedly. “This is good,” he adds, voice quieter.

“Yeah,” Finn says. He drops his forehead against Puck’s as he moves against Puck’s leg.

“Not just this,” Puck says, his leg pushing more insistently. “It’s really good, too, though. You still want to fuck me?”

“Unless you’re taking back the offer, then yeah… jackass,” Finn says, grinning at Puck, their mouths close together, but not quite touching.

Puck laughs. “Hell no.” He leans up enough for them to kiss, his other leg folding around Finn’s legs. Finn laughs, too, even while they’re kissing, and he puts one arm around Puck to press their bodies closer. Puck squirms a little, squeezing Finn’s ass with his hand and then rolling them onto their sides. “How’d you want me?” he asks, one word between each time he kisses Finn’s chest.

“On your back,” Finn says. “This time, at least.”

“Yeah?” Puck says, still between kisses. “You got other plans for later?” He runs his hand up Finn’s back and down his side before putting it on Finn’s ass and rolling onto his back again, pulling Finn with him.

“Not like I’m needed at home. Thought I’d stay and we could tire each other out.”

“Yeah, you can tire me out,” Puck agrees, grinning and nodding. “Closest drawer, by the way.” He inclines his head towards the chest of drawers standing next to one side of the bed.

“Be right back.” Finn kisses Puck one more time before standing up and opening the drawer. He sits back down with the lube and kisses Puck again.

Puck twists towards him, one hand on Finn’s chest, and he grins again. “Thought about it,” he says.

“Yeah? What’d you think about?” Finn asks. He dumps lube onto his fingers, knocking Puck’s legs apart with his knees.

“Besides just your dick?” Puck says, spreading his legs wider. “Other than you fucking me open?”

“Nothing more specific? No way you liked to think about more?” Finn asks. He touches the tips of his index and middle fingers to Puck’s asshole, pushing in slowly.

“I didn’t say that. Thought about sitting down on top of you. Thought about doing that and trying to act like your dick wasn’t up my ass if someone tried to talk to either of us.”

“On the phone or with somebody actually in the room?” Finn pushes his fingers in deeper, putting his other hand on Puck’s dick.

“In the room. Figured you’d like that idea better. Fucking me slowly and someone either not getting it or too scared to say anything if they guess,” Puck says. He lifts his hips off the bed, rocking them towards Finn.

“’Cause nobody would think it was weird that you were sitting on me, huh?” Finn asks. “Nobody would say anything?”

“’Cause you’d be in charge, and ’cause the last jackass who tried to say anything, I would have made ’em regret it,” Puck says. “I would’ve made sure the fuckers didn’t say anything else.”

“That’s how it’s gonna be?” Finn asks, pushing his fingers in completely, curling them up and pressing as he slides them out and back in.

“You want it that way?” Puck says. “You in charge, me shutting people up?”

“What I want is to be able to do this any time we want,” Finn says. He moves his hand faster, fucking Puck’s ass with his fingers.

“Anywhere, too?” Puck asks.

“It’s not safe, remember? You’re the one who’s always told me that, that I’d get us both hurt, doing something stupid like wanting to do this anywhere,” Finn says, feeling his face tighten into a frown.

“Yeah, when we were seventeen. Not when you’re in charge, but you never wanted to wait,” Puck says. “You wanted it all right then. You think motherfuckin’ Burt would have our back?”

“He might. We never gave him a chance.”

“You want to ask him now?” Puck says, shaking his head. “We’re almost there.”

“No, I want to fuck you and make you come,” Finn says. “That’s all I want to do right now.”

Puck laughs. “Good answer.” He lifts his hips again, his legs even further apart.

“Yeah? That what you want, too?”

“Yeah, I want you coming inside me,” Puck says.

“Good,” Finn says. He pulls his fingers out of Puck, adding more lube to his hand before running it over his dick and lining it up with Puck’s hole. He watches Puck’s face as he starts to push inside.

Puck’s eyes half-close as he nods, rocking his hips towards Finn. “Yeah, like that.”

“Fuck, you’re so hot and tight,” Finn says. “Can I just stay here forever?”

“Yeah, I'll get you hard again every time after you come,” Puck says with a nod. “Just like this.”

“Think I’ll wear out first, or you?” Finn asks.

“You,” Puck says, laughing before cutting off with a gasp as he moves his hips. “Nah, maybe me.”

“Don’t run out of steam too early!”

“Have I let you down yet, jackass?” Puck asks with a grin. “You asked first, not too fast.”

“You’ve never left me hanging,” Finn says. He pushes Puck’s legs up, bending him almost in half as he starts to fuck Puck hard and fast.

Puck nods, holding onto Finn’s arms with his hands and rocking up with each of Finn’s thrusts. “Yeah, like that, like this,” Puck says, his eyes fully open again and staring up at Finn.

“You like it hard like this?”

“Yeah,” Puck says, nodding and then whining a little. “Like feeling you.”

“Good, ’cause I like it hard like this, too, and you’re the only one I want,” Finn says, holding onto Puck’s calves, keeping his legs back. He pounds into Puck harder, rocking the bed, so it bangs against the wall.

Puck whines again, moving his hands slowly up Finn’s arms and to his shoulders, pulling Finn down as he leans up as much as he can. “Like some kind of puzzle. Remember those when we were kids? The metal ones at the Cracker Barrel and the plastic versions at the dollar store?”

“That what we are? A puzzle?”

“That only we know how to solve, right?”

Finn bends Puck’s legs back more, his ankles next to his ears, and thrusts into him harder. “You could always figure me out.”

“Lot of worse things,” Puck says, gasping after each word. “Shit, Finn.”

“Yeah. I know. Shit, you feel so good, didn’t realize how much I missed it,” Finn says. He closes his eyes, lets himself focus on the way Puck feels around him, the way he smells, the little whines and grunts he makes as Finn slams into him.

“Don’t have to now. Shit. Just like this, Finn,” Puck says, another grunt at the end of his sentences. “You close?”

“Yeah. Jerk yourself off.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Puck says, and his whining and grunting gets louder and faster.

“Yeah. That’s right, just like that, keep going,” Finn says, moving faster, too. “I want to feel you. I’ll come when I feel you.”

“Okay,” Puck says quietly, then groans loudly, his hips coming off the bed completely as he moves under Finn. A few seconds later, Puck yells out and starts to come. Finn slides his hands up Puck’s calves, wrapping them around Puck’s ankles, and thrusts wildly into Puck, hard and fast, until he comes hard, shaking and crying out.

Puck’s legs go limp, and one hand rests on Finn’s hip, not really grasping at it. He’s quiet for a few minutes, not really moving, and then his hand starts slowly stroking Finn’s side.

“That was awesome,” Puck murmurs.

Finn laughs softly. “Yeah. You want to go again?”

“You said you didn’t have anywhere to be, so I already made plans you were going to be here in bed. Problem?”

“Nope,” Finn says, rolling off Puck and lying down next to him. He reaches for the pack of cigarettes on the table next to the bed, handing a cigarette to Puck. He lights one for himself before lighting Puck’s too. “So you’re telling me you need a few minutes?”

“Jackass.” Puck shoves Finn’s shoulder half-heartedly. “Only figured we should wash off before I start sucking you off.”

“Yeah, that’s probably a good idea,” Finn concedes.

Puck looks over and grins at Finn. “Shower’s big enough, we can do it there.”

“Finn. Finn.” Kurt’s frantic whispered voice, combined with him shaking Finn’s arm, wakes Finn enough for him to lift his head and look at Kurt.

“What’s going on, Kurtie-boy?” Finn says. “It’s the middle of the night.”

“I crashed the car!” Kurt says.

Puck sits up, rubbing his eyes. “What’s going on?”

“I think Kurtie-boy had a nightmare about crashing a car,” Finn says. “It’s okay, Kurtie-boy, just go back to sleep.”

“It wasn’t a nightmare! I for real crashed a car!” Kurt says. “I snuck one of the cars from the shop and I ran it into a mailbox!”

“You’re eleven,” Puck says. “You aren’t tall enough to drive.”

“I stacked up the Harley-Davidson repair manuals!” Kurt whispers.

“Which ones?” Finn asks.

“The ’88, the ’89, and the ’92.”

“Which ones doesn’t matter! Where’d you leave it?” Puck asks.

“It’s still against the mailbox on Brice. I ran back to get you guys,” Kurt says. He sounds even more frantic now, and his eyes are starting to tear up. “Dad’s gonna tan my ass! He’s probably gonna lock me up for real. I’m never gonna patch in, ever!”

“I guess we’d better go get it,” Puck says to Finn.

“Don’t worry, Kurtie-boy,” Finn says as he starts to climb down from the top bunk. “We’ll fix it. Burt won’t even know you took it.”

“But how?” Kurt asks.

“Don’t worry about it. You get into bed and act like you were there all night, okay?” Finn says.

“Okay,” Kurt says. “Thanks, Finn.”

“You’re my brother, right? I got your back, always,” Finn says. “Ain’t that right, Puck?”

“Yep,” Puck agrees, following Finn down.

“Now go to sleep. If Mom or Burt comes in here for some reason, you don’t know where we went. You were sleeping and thought we were up in the bunk asleep, too,” Finn says.

“Okay, Finn.”

Finn and Puck tiptoe down the hall to the bathroom, where Finn helps lower Puck out of the bathroom window before dropping down from it himself. “So how are we gonna do this?” Finn asks.

Puck walks a little bit away from the house. “We get the keys, put ’em back, make it look like someone hotwired it. So we just need a hammer, some wire strippers, an empty bottle of booze, and some titty magazines.”

Finn nods. “That’ll work. What are the magazines for?”

“For Kurtie-boy. So he’ll feel better and forget to be upset. He finally did his first crime,” Puck says.

Finn grins at Puck. “That’s our boy!”

Finn quietly drops his keys on the hall table and hangs his cut on the coat rack by the front door. He also pulls off his boots, setting them on the little shoe shelf under the hall table, before he empties his pockets into the small basket on the tabletop next to his keys. He walks carefully down the hall, so the loose board doesn’t squeak, opening the door to the guest bathroom so he can grab a quick shower and wash off the smell of Puck and cigarettes before Rachel wakes up.

“Finn!” Rachel says from behind him, her voice loud in the otherwise-quiet house. Finn turns around to look at her. Her arms are crossed, and she’s scowling.

“Hey, Rachel,” Finn says.

“I have dealt with the embarrassment of walking around Lima for the past ten months, the heartache of lying to my family about where you were, the infuriating fact that I knew you would be going to that damn club as soon as you were released, but I still expected you home yesterday morning!” Rachel says, her teeth almost clenched, and her foot taps three times while she talks. “You were released, and you didn’t come home for over thirty-six hours!”

“I was at the club,” Finn says. “I know you know that.”

“Oh, I know where you were, but that doesn’t make it any more tolerable!” Rachel says, and she uncrosses her arms to point at Finn. “You didn’t even call me once!”

“You told me not to. Figured you’d visit me if you changed your mind and wanted to hear from me,” Finn says.

“So you stayed at the club since you were released to punish me?”

“I stayed at the club because they threw me a release party, just like they do anytime somebody gets out of County,” Finn says, “and I know you got told about it. Mom would’ve made sure you knew. You weren’t there, so didn’t seem like I needed to rush to get back.”

“You know I prefer not to socialize with your… business associates,” Rachel says, making a face. “That club is the reason you were in jail to begin with!”

“If you ever change your mind, you’d be welcome there. They’re family, just like you are. And I went to jail because I made a mistake. Nobody’s fault but mine.”

“You wouldn’t have been in a position to make a mistake if you weren’t all mixed up with those criminals. They kept coming by at first,” Rachel says with a huff. “They said they were checking on me.”

“Of course they were. Like I said, Rachel, family,” Finn says.

“I told them to stop. I didn’t need anyone poking around in our business. If I had known about this, this lifestyle, I would never have married you!” Rachel says. “Regardless of how sweet and mysterious you were!”

“Thought I wasn’t coming back to it, or I probably wouldn’t have gone along with you wanting to get married,” Finn admits. “I never would’ve dragged you into this life on purpose.”

“It was a beautiful day,” Rachel says, looking off beyond Finn in the hall almost wistfully.

Finn nods. “Yeah, and you were pretty and smart and normal. You were the opposite of everything I’d left back in Lima. I thought I could be somebody else with you, if I could just try hard enough, you know?”

Rachel sighs. “Which is probably why I’m so out of place.” She steps closer to Finn and then stops, making another, different face. “Have you been smoking again?”

“I was just about to get into the shower,” Finn says. “Can we talk when I’m out? I want to hear how you’ve been, what’s been going on the past ten months.”

Rachel seems to shake a little before she huffs loudly again. “Fine,” she says in a clipped tone. “I’ll go have another cup of coffee while you shower.”

“Okay.” Finn walks into the bathroom and locks the door, starting the shower. He opens the drawers in the bathroom, looking for a spare toothbrush, and when he finds one, he brushes his teeth, waiting for the water to heat up. Now that he’s out, he should really replace that water heater.

Finn takes his time in the shower, remembering Puck’s hands and mouth on him as he washes himself. He thinks about jerking off, but it seems wrong with Rachel just in the other room, more because it’s uncomfortable to think about Puck like that with Rachel in the house than because he feels guilty over cheating on Rachel. If it were anybody but Puck, he’d feel guilty, but it’s not, so he doesn’t.

Once he’s done in the shower and dried off, he wraps a towel around his waist and heads to the bedroom for clothes. He pulls on boxers, jeans, and his SONS t-shirt before walking back to the kitchen, where Rachel is sitting at the table, drinking her coffee. She looks up and frowns at him after seeing his t-shirt, then points behind her.

“There’s at least a cup left in the pot if you wanted some,” she says in a clipped tone, then takes another sip from her mug.

“Thanks.” Finn pours himself a cup and sits down across the table from Rachel. “So, how are you? How have you been?”

“Oh, I’ve been just fine, dealing with the way people look at me!” Rachel says. “All of those people’s pitying looks whenever I left the house. And like I said, when I was here, people were always stopping by. The… prospects, they called themselves, your mother, Puck’s mother, Puck himself.” Rachel makes a face and shakes her head. “Don’t ever put me through that again.”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t think it was going to go down like that. I’ll be more careful,” Finn says.

“I mean it, Finn. Ever,” Rachel says. “I almost went home.”

Finn sighs and takes a sip of his coffee. “Maybe… maybe you should have. Maybe it would have been better for you. You hate it here. You always have.”

“Maybe I still will,” Rachel says, tossing her head. “I didn’t want you to be released only to find nothing left here.”

“I appreciate it,” Finn says.

“You’ll at least be home for a day or two? And no illegal activities?”

“Yeah, sure, no trouble.”

“Your club got along without you for the last several months, after all,” Rachel continues, as if Finn hadn’t responded. “Surely you could at least give me twenty-four hours or so.”

“Yeah, sure, Rachel, I can do that,” Finn says. “Hey, is everything around the house taken care of? You need me to do any repairs? All the bills are caught up?”

“There’s some light bulbs I couldn’t reach easily. And the garbage disposal is making a weird noise.”

“I’ll take care of it today,” Finn says.

“And some of the doors are squeaking,” Rachel adds.

“Just make me a list of what needs fixed, and I’ll take care of all of it.”

“I will,” Rachel says, her tone still somewhat clipped, and she stands up immediately, getting a piece of paper and starting to write.

“Hey, Rachel?”

“Yes, Finn?” Rachel replies without looking up.

“You didn’t have to stay, but I really do appreciate it,” Finn says.

“I do try to honor my commitments.”

“And I’ll do my best to honor mine,” Finn says. “If you move back to New York, I’ll probably sell the house.”

“You wouldn’t want to keep it? I’m sure you could entertain here, especially once you take over.”

“The house was for you.”

Rachel looks up, seemingly darkly amused. “So you’d move back home? I’m sure your mother would love her son around again.”

Finn shakes his head. “I might get a place with one of the guys.”

“Well, I suppose we’ll both just have to see how things go, won’t we?” Rachel says. She writes something else on the list, then caps the pen and slides the list across the table to Finn.

“Yeah,” Finn says. He drinks the last of his coffee and stands up, picking up the list before setting his empty mug in the sink. “I’ll go get started on this.”

“Hmmm.” Rachel stands up too, going over to the coffeemaker and not looking directly at Finn.

Finn spends the rest of the morning and the early afternoon working through the list, making it about two-thirds of the way through before his phone rings with Burt’s tone. He has the parts to the garbage disposal spread across the kitchen table and grease on his hands, so he holds the phone between his shoulder and ear after he answers the call.

“Hey Burt,” Finn says.

“Hate to ask, since you’ve only had a day back home, but we need an extra hand down here,” Burt says. “Sent Big Paul and Little Dave off last night, and Bad Road's helping Artie out with a few things.”

“Can it wait an hour? I’m in the middle of something,” Finn asks.

“No,” Burt says. “It’s the Figgins’ car, and you’re one of the best I’ve got on those higher-end foreign cars.”

Finn sighs quietly, hopefully too quietly for Burt to hear, and stands up to grab the GoJo and get the grease off his hands. “Okay. I’ll be about 15.”

“See you then,” Burt says, then ends the call.

“Who was that?” Rachel calls from the living room.

“Burt,” Finn calls back.

“Didn’t you just see him before you got here this morning?” Rachel asks, her tone too sweet.

“Nah, he had already gone in to the shop, and I was at the club, cleaning up and taking care of some business,” Finn says. “I was with Puck yesterday, mostly.”

“So Burt was just calling to say hello? That was nice of him,” Rachel says, and she comes to the doorway to watch Finn.

“No, they need me at the shop. Big Paul and Little Dave aren’t available, and Burt needs me to take care of a high-end import,” Finn says.

“Finn!” Rachel says. “I am a high-end ‘import’. And you promised!”

“Yeah, but you haven’t indicated that you want me under your hood,” Finn says.

“You are infuriating!” Rachel says, and she flings her arms up before turning on her heel and stalking away down the hall towards the bedroom. The door doesn’t slam, though, and after another few seconds pass, she yells again. “I bet you haven’t even finished that list! You’re going to leave me here with parts of something all over the floor and no working closet light!”

“I’m almost done with everything, Rachel,” Finn says. “I’ve just got the disposal and the air filters left. Don’t use the disposal until I’m back. Everything else is taken care of.”

“What am I supposed to do when it’s time for dinner?” Rachel calls down the hall.

“I’ll move the disposal parts out of the way. Just put whatever you’re cutting up into the trash!”

“Fine!” Rachel yells, and this time the door does slam.

Finn sighs again before moving the disposal parts to the far side of the table. He pulls on his boots, then his cut, and he hollers “back later!” before leaving the house and hopping on his bike. The house is only a few blocks away from the shop and the club, so Finn’s there before the fifteen minutes he promised Burt. Tugboat is in the other bay, under a Dodge pickup when Finn walks into the shop, and Figgins’ Mercedes is already in the front bay.

“How’s it going, Tug?” Finn asks as he takes off his cut and puts on a pair of work gloves.

“Radiator,” Tug says. “Prez says yours is probably camshaft adjuster. Fucking German pussies.”

“Yeah. How’d he even keep this piece of shit running while I was in County, anyway?” Finn asks. He pops the hood on the Mercedes and peers under it, frowning.

“Who said he did? He’s been driving a rental for awhile,” Tugboat says with a short laugh. “Had to go to Cincy to get some faggy luxury rental, I heard.”

“Well, shit. Who the fuck knows what all’s really wrong with it, then,” Finn says.

“Not me. Maybe you will later.” Tugboat slides out from under the pickup just enough to grin at Finn, then disappears under again.

Finn spends several hours under the hood of the Mercedes, making a few minor repairs, then he goes into the office to fill out the form and order a new camshaft adjuster. Carole’s on a call, so he waits by her desk until she finishes, then slides the clipboard with the forms in front of her.

“Figgins again. No place like home,” Finn says.

“I’ve been expecting these,” Carole says, shaking her head. “Burt tried to convince him to sell it again. Failed again.”

“I don’t know why these assholes won’t just buy American,” Finn says, grinning at Carole. “Except I think we could stay in business off Figgins and the Schuesters alone.”

“Not quite. Not legitimately, anyway,” Carole says. She returns Finn’s smile. “Maybe if Terri’s sister really did move out here like Terri’s always telling me she will.”

“Bet Will’d love that,” Finn says, laughing as he shakes his head. “Bad enough Terri’s still pining for the old lady life.”

“You aren’t going to sponsor Will as a prospect? Make Terri happy at last?”

“If I thought he could hack it, sure, but I think the language alone would make him cry.”

Carole clucks her tongue and shakes her head. “Well, it’s nice to have my foul-mouthed baby home again.”

“Yeah, yeah, that’s just ’cause you haven’t had to feed me again yet,” Finn says, leaning across the desk to kiss Carole on the cheek. “Speaking of, I’d better get home. Rachel was worried about being able to cook with the disposal taken apart.”

“Rachel learned how to cook? You really were gone a long time!” Carole says. She widens her eyes exaggeratedly and raises her eyebrows.

“Okay, microwave, probably,” Finn says.

“Microwaving leftover take-out maybe,” Carole mutters, loud enough that Finn can hear it but quietly enough that he can ignore it if he wants to.

“Everybody’s gotta start somewhere, right?” Finn asks. “Anyway, I’d better head out bef—”

“Excuse me, Mama Carole,” Puck says from behind Finn. “Finn. Church.” Puck steps up beside Finn and jerks his head to the side.

“Of course,” Carole says. “I’ll see you boys later.”

“Love you, Mom!” Finn says, following Puck out the door. “What’s up? Burt doesn’t usually spring church on us without any warning.”

“I don’t know, but I can guess. Bad Road got back while I was working on that old Civic, went in and talked to motherfuckin’ Burt for ten or fifteen minutes, and then— church.”

Finn sighs. “You know I hate it when you remind me of that, asshole.”

“It’s a factual statement. He’s a motherfucker,” Puck says with a wide grin.

“Oh yeah? So’s half of Lima, ’cause everybody looooooves Tessie,” Finn says, giving Puck a one-handed shove.

“That’s alright, Tessie loves them too.” Puck’s grin doesn’t falter until they’re sitting down, and he looks around then at Finn before frowning.

“What?” Finn asks. “Got something on my face?”

“Thinking,” Puck says with a shrug, but he keeps frowning as the others sit down. Finn nods, sitting quietly as the table slowly fills.

Burt sits down at the head and bangs the gavel. “First thing, let’s officially welcome my son Finn back to this table.” Everyone claps, and Puck looks less serious for a moment as he joins in. Burt’s face slowly slides into a frown as the clapping trails off. “Unfortunately, that’s not the main reason we’re here today. Bad Road brought me a piece of news about an hour ago.” He nods in Bad Road’s direction.

“Yeah,” Bad Road begins, looking around the table. “I was leaving Bowling Green when I saw a car with government plates, black sedan. I was curious, so I followed it, and it kept heading right into Lima. Driver stopped at the Landing Strip. I waited, watched her go inside—nice suit and shoes, by the way—and after she left, I went in.”

“Rough job,” Tugboat says with a wink at Bad Road.

“Shut your mouth, Tug, and let the kid talk,” Big Paul says.

“I talked with Pinky and Luch, and they said she was asking about Westerville and an arms deal,” Bad Road says. “Said she didn’t flat-out ask about the MC, but she hinted, made some vague promises that they’d be protected if they gave a statement.”

“Fucking Quinn,” Finn murmurs to himself, and Puck stiffens slightly, just enough for Finn to notice.

“Luch said not to worry, nobody at the Strip’s a rat,” Bad Road adds.

“Did she tell ’em who she was with?” Puck asks.

“She flashed a badge. Luch said it was ATF.”

Puck leans back, the frown back on his face and deeper than before. He opens his mouth and starts to say something, then closes it and shakes his head, looking towards Burt.

“So you can see why this has got me concerned,” Burt says. “After what happened last October, getting on ATF’s radar isn’t exactly a situation I was hoping for. I was hoping we’d keep all that shit local.”

“If ATF really had anything, they wouldn’t be sniffing around the girls at the Strip,” Tugboat says.

“If they didn’t have anything, they wouldn’t be in Lima at all,” Little Dave says, looking worried.

“We know Luchadora wouldn’t say anything, even if she had something, but did Pinky have anything to share with the ATF agent?” Kurt asks.

“Pinky’ll probably try to get something out of the club, hint like she’s going to talk to ATF,” Beast says.

“We’ll worry about that if it actually becomes a problem,” Burt says. “What we need to find out is how much they already have, if anything. Slick,” he continues, nodding at Slick, “you talk to our guy in Westerville, find out who on his crew’s been running their damn mouths.”

Slick nods, as eagerly as he always does, and Puck looks somewhat concerned, though not nearly as worried as Little Dave. He turns to Finn after a few more seconds, one eyebrow slightly raised. Finn nods.

“Should we think about putting off the deal?” Finn asks.

“That seems like a good idea to me,” Little Dave says, now looking relieved.

“Maybe put out two different sets of plans,” Puck says, “and see if our wanna-be stripper friend shows at either?”

“Maybe we could feed Pinky some information,” Kurt suggests. “Make her think it’s accurate.”

“Or we can just see what happens if we keep it inside the club,” Finn says, studiously not looking in Slick’s direction.

“I think K-boy’s right, though,” Slick says. “We can see if Pinky talks that way.”

“I really think we need to keep it in-house,” Finn says firmly.

“I agree,” Puck says, nodding in Finn’s direction.

Burt nods. “We’ll take a vote. Yeas to keep it in-house, nays to feed the false information to the girl.”

The vote starts counter clockwise from Burt, with Tugboat. The Sergeant-at-Arms answers, “Nay.”

Big Paul, then Little Dave, then Beast vote their “Yea”s. Artie votes “Nay.” Bad Road looks conflicted, but finally gives a “Nay” vote, bringing the vote around to Kurt. Kurt exchanges a quick look with Slick, almost too fleeting to notice, if someone didn’t know what Finn knows. Finn isn’t surprised at Kurt’s “Nay,” and is even less surprised at Slick’s. Puck says “Yea” quickly without looking at anyone.

“Yea,” Finn says.

Burt nods slowly. “Split vote,” he says, looking around the circle. “I value the opinion of my Sergeant-at-Arms, but I trust my son, and I trust his judgement as vice president of this club, and I want to make it clear that nothing’s changed in the ten months he was away. I vote ‘Yea’.”

Finn glances around the table. Puck looks pleased; Slick looks like he’s barely containing his annoyance.

“Good. If there’s no other business,” Burt says, holding up the gavel and waiting for everyone to shake his head. He bangs the gavel. “Everybody get out of here.”

It’s August, and now Finn is thirteen and Puck’s not yet fourteen. Most days, they have Kurt tagging along after them, but today, Kurt’s out in Columbus with Burt, visiting his dead mom’s family and putting flowers on her grave. The track along the Ottawa that they’ve worn with their bikes is dusty, the river itself receded far back from its usual banks, leaving cracked sheets of dry clay and the stinking bodies of fish too stupid to keep up with the shrinking river.

Finn and Puck shoot at some trees, make bets on who can put bbs into what ear of corn from how far, and then take turns shooting at squirrels. The squirrels are way less stupid than the fish, though, and they don’t manage to hit any of them, so instead they sit on the bank of the river, smoking cigarettes from the pack Puck swiped from Tessie.

“Fuck, it’s hot,” Finn complains, pulling up the edge of his SONS-stamped t-shirt to wipe his sweaty face. “Sucks that the river’s gross.”

“Sucks it’s full of snakes, you mean. We could try to sneak into Schoonover Pool.”

“That’s not funny, about the snakes,” Finn says, giving Puck a shove.

“Not my fault you’re scared of ’em,” Puck says, shoving Finn back.

“I’m not scared. I’m just not stupid,” Finn says, giving Puck another shove. “Anyway, we can’t sneak into Schoonover Pool, remember? That fat lady with the big hair said if she caught me there again, she was gonna whip me with a stick and then call the cops and tell ’em I was peeking in the girls’ changing room. And I wasn’t even! I don’t care about girls putting on their stupid swimsuits. If I wanna look at boobs, I’ll just look at some of the company girls’. Theirs are way bigger, anyhow.”

“That’s why it’s called sneaking. And anyway, I can shoot her in the ass with my bb gun before she can call the cops,” Puck says.

“And then go look at the company girls, right?” Finn prompts, watching Puck’s face, probably a little too closely.

“Sure,” Puck says. “Or we can steal my mom’s key to the back door at the Landing Strip, if that’s what you wanna do.”

“Yeah, I guess we could,” Finn says. He kicks at one of the sheets of dried clay, shattering it into bits. “Did you bring the booze?”

“Only about a third full, but yeah,” Puck says, pulling out a bottle. “Better’n nothing, right?”

“Right,” Finn says, grabbing the bottle out of Puck’s hand and opening it, taking a big swig.

“Hey! Booze thief!” Puck says, punching Finn’s upper arm. Finn puts his arm out, his hand on Puck’s chest to keep him from getting closer, and takes another swallow from the bottle.

Now you can have it back,” Finn says, releasing Puck and handing him the bottle simultaneously.

Puck glares and takes a long gulp. “You didn’t have to grab it!”

“Yeah, I did,” Finn says. He holds out his hand for the bottle.

“No, you didn’t.” Puck takes a second gulp before handing the bottle over. Finn takes it and chugs probably a good third or so of what’s left. He doesn’t immediately hand the bottle back to Puck when he finishes, just keeps holding it, deciding if he needs another sip now or if he should wait another couple minutes.

“I don’t really want to look at boobs today,” Finn admits, looking down at the bottle in his hand and picking at the corner of the label with his thumbnail.

“You were the one that brought ’em up, but okay,” Puck says with a shrug. “We don’t have to look at boobs.”

“Just, you said we could get the key from Tessie, but I don’t really want to go to the Landing Strip,” Finn says.

“Okay,” Puck repeats.

Finn takes a deep breath, then exhales, then takes another quick swallow from the bottle. He looks at Puck again without saying anything. Puck turns and gives him a funny look, his eyebrows raised up. Finn holds out the bottle. “Here.”

Puck grabs it and takes a drink, wiping his mouth on the back of his hand as he sets the bottle down beside him. “Something weird in this bottle.”

“Yeah?” Finn says. He steps a little closer to Puck, too close, really.

“Seems like.”

“Yeah,” Finn repeats, then he leans in closer, even closer, and presses his lips to Puck’s. For just a second, it feels like Puck might almost be kissing back, or might be thinking about it, then Puck pulls back abruptly, his fist connecting with Finn’s jaw. Finn isn’t expecting it, and he goes flying back, rolling a little on the embankment and landing face-first in the dirt in front of Puck.

Finn spits dirt out of his mouth, tasting blood on his lip, before he pushes himself up and starts to stand, looking warily at Puck. “Stupid,” Puck hisses, then grabs Finn and kisses him for what feels like at least ten seconds before he pushes Finn away. “You’re gonna get us killed.”

Instead of answering, Finn nods. He reaches for the bottle at Puck’s feet and picks it up, tipping it up and chugging the rest. They don’t talk after that, not until Finn starts puking his guts up about twenty minutes later.

“Idiot,” Puck says, pulling a bandana out of his pocket and wiping off Finn’s nose, mouth, and chin. “Make sure you remember that’s what happened.”

Finn nods weakly. “Yeah, okay. Thanks, Puck.”

Puck pulls him up and folds the bandana over, wiping Finn’s mouth again. “Don’t mention it. We’ll throw rocks at the fish until you sober up.”

“You want to talk about it?” Finn asks, after everybody’s dispersed to the bar or the shop.

Puck raises one eyebrow. “Which part?”

“Your vote. What you were thinking,” Finn says.

“I was thinking that you were pretty damn certain, and I was thinking that if anything happens with this deal, we’d have a smaller pool of people to look at,” Puck says.

Finn nods. “I think it’s a good idea to keep it inside the club right now. I want to know more about that fed before we do anything else.” He looks around before continuing in a lowered voice, “The number of people I trust right now’s not real big.”

“Still probably bigger than mine. We could ask Tessie if she saw the fed.”

“Tessie’s on the short list,” Finn says. “You feel like taking a ride to the Strip?”

Puck grins. “I’m as excited for T&A as you are, so sure, why not?”

Finn laughs and shakes his head. “Yeah, you know it. Maybe we can make it over in time for the buffet.”

“I am excited for the buffet,” Puck says, straightening and heading for the door. “I think it’s ribeye night, unless they changed the schedule again.”

They drive over to the Strip, where the marquee declares that it is, in fact, ribeye night. It smells just like Finn remembers it, like Tessie’s perfume, thick waxy lipstick, guilt-sweat, and old cigars. The girl on stage has short pink hair.

“Really, Finn?” Puck says, looking at Finn, the stage, and then back at Finn.

“What?” Finn says.

“You’d think Pinky was the fed with that look.”

“I don’t have to like her,” Finn says, realizing now that he’s scowling. “I don’t ever have to like her.”

“Yeah, but you’re probably spending a hell of a lot of energy on her right now,” Puck says. “Let’s get a ribeye and ask ’em to tell Tessie we’re out here.”

“Don’t care why it happened, don’t have to like it,” Finn grumbles, but he does follow Puck to a table. Puck flags down the first waitress who comes by, sending her back for Tessie, who’s probably back in her office wallowing in piles of tit-scented money.

“Yeah, I know,” Puck says after they sit down. “Tessie doesn’t like people interfering with the Strip.”

“I don’t know why anybody would try to interfere with this pillar of the community,” Finn says.

“We’ll organize a letter-writing campaign to the feds,” Puck says with a grin. Finn nods his agreement as Tessie comes out of the back, her eyebrows raised as she sees them.

“My boys!” she says, approaching the table and giving Puck, then Finn a big hug and a waxy-lipstick kiss to the cheek.

“Hey, Mom. You got a few minutes to sit with us?” Puck asks.

“Sure, baby. What’s going on?” Tessie asks, sitting down in the chair across from Puck. “You here for a ribeye?”

“You know it. You hear anything from the girls about a fed in here earlier?” Puck says, lowering his voice.

“Oh yeah,” Tessie says, her lips shaping into a pout. “A real dyke bitch, that one. Bothering my girls like that. I almost had to ask Luch to give her the toss.”

“Did any of them talk to her? Pinky, maybe?” Finn asks.

“Finn, honey, now you know my girls ain’t rats, not a one of ’em,” Tessie says.

“Did any of them tell you what she asked about?” Puck says. “General talk, or something specific?”

“She was asking about the club. Not straight up at first, mind you. Little stuff, at first. Luch told me everything. They were asking who’d been in the joint, who was still in, who talks to the girls, who doesn’t,” Tessie says. She shakes her head. “Let that high-heeled bitch go out to Terre Haute to talk to Rusty. He can’t tell her shit. I hope she wastes the gas.”

“Do Slick or K-boy ever come in to watch the girls?” Finn asks.

“Slick’s the little one, right? The greasy one?”

“Yeah, the one with the eyebrows like Rattigan,” Puck says.

Tessie pats Puck’s cheek. “Oh, you did love that movie, didn’t you baby? But yeah, he’s in here sometimes. Not K-boy, though. Mama Carole raised her one sweet one, didn’t she? No offense, Finny.”

“None taken,” Finn says.

“You’re a good boy, too, but not sweet like that brother of yours,” Tessie says. “He’s just the cutest thing.”

“Mom. Focus,” Puck says. “Anything else Lau—Luch said?”

“Well, she did mention some names, but I didn’t know them. A Dwayne or Blaine or something like that? I don’t know. We don’t get anybody like that in here.”

“Mom,” Puck says, shaking his head.

“What?” Tessie says. “Those are queer-sounding names if you ask me. What kinda name’s Dwayne for a full-grown man?”

“Just let us know if you hear anything else, I guess,” Puck says. “Who’s up next?”

“Oooh, you’re right on time to see Luch, honey! Finny, sweetheart, have you ever seen our Luch dance?”

“Nope. I haven’t,” Finn says.

“Well, it sure is something to see,” Tessie says. “I’ll send you over some ribeye, and you watch our girl, alright?”

Puck nods. “It really is something.”

“Yes ma’am,” Finn says. “I’ll watch.”

Tessie seems pleased, and she gives Finn and Puck each a pat on the cheek before she heads back towards the office. The music changes, Pinky skipping off the stage, replaced by the opening vocals of “Fat Bottomed Girls.”

“Seriously?” Finn whispers to Puck.

“Seriously.” Puck gestures towards the stage. “It works.”

La Luchadora Grande dances onto the stage, dressed in a luchador-style half-mask and matching satin bra and panties. At first, she seems like a novelty act, somebody for the men watching to have a little fun with. Then she starts working the pole, and Finn’s mouth drops open as Luch spins herself around with her body parallel to the stage, holding herself up at angles that would be impressive no matter who managed them. By the time the song is over, Finn has snagged a twenty from his wallet to stick in her garter, because it’s the best stage show he’s ever seen.

“That was fucking amazing,” Finn says to Puck.

“I told you,” Puck says with a wide grin.

“I owe you and Luch an apology,” Finn says. “Though I’m hoping a twenty goes a long way.”

“She doesn’t have expensive tastes, so it probably will. You think we should flag her down, or give it a day or two?”

“Snag her if you can, and we’ll see when she’s available to talk,” Finn says.

Puck nods and stands up, coming back within a couple of minutes. “She’s got another set in thirty minutes. Said maybe after that, or maybe in the next couple of days she’d drop by. If we hear about the fed poking around more, we can move it up?”

“Sounds good,” Finn says. “Wait for the ribeye or get out of here?”

“You gotta be anywhere?”

Finn shakes his head. “Rachel’s probably leaving at some point. She said she was thinking about it.”

“Then we can probably skip ribeye and get out of here.”

“Tessie’ll be heartbroken,” Finn says.

“Oh, did you want to stick around for the ribeye?” Puck asks.

“Nah, not if we’re heading back to your place,” Finn says. “I don’t really need ribeye.”

Puck nods. “Yeah. Me either.”

“Then let’s get out of here.”

Breaking into the Family Video to steal the Playstation games had been Puck’s idea, but he’d roped the rest of them into it, so it’s just past midnight on a Thursday, and Puck, Finn, Kurt, and Artie are trying to pry open a vent panel on the side of the building away from the street while Little Dave keeps watch. The plan is to put Kurt—the youngest, and still the smallest by far—into the vent so he can crawl in and unlock the door.

“You’re being too loud!” Artie loud-whispers. “You’ve got to pry it more quietly.”

“Nah, you need more of that what’s-it-called,” Finn says, making a wrench-turning motion with his hand. “You know.”

“Handjobs?” Artie guesses. Puck busts out laughing, while Kurt looks slightly shocked, and Finn can feel his own face turning red.

“No, dumbass! Like, the twist on it!” Finn says.

“Torque?” Kurt says.

“Yeah, torque. Like torque wrenches. He needs more torque,” Finn says.

“And WD-40.” Puck brandishes a can of it and sprays more on the screws.

“Which might also work for handjobs,” Artie says. Kurt looks less shocked this time and laughs a little.

“Nah,” Puck says with a shake of his head, and then he looks startled right after, like he can’t quite believe he just said that. “Okay, try it again.”

Finn grabs the back end of the crowbar, Puck grabs the front end, and they both twist it as they press down. This time, the grate flies off and clatters loudly to the ground with an echoing metallic sound. All four boys freeze and look around. From up by the street, Little Dave waves placidly back at them.

“Uh-oh,” Kurt says, getting down on his hands and knees to peer up the vent. “This isn’t going to work.”

“What’s the problem, Kurtie-boy?” Finn asks, also getting down to look in the vent. Instead of turning towards the building past the initial bend, the vent appear to go straight up the building’s side, with nothing for Kurt to hold onto. “Oh. Yeah, that’s not gonna work, Puck.”

“Dammit,” Puck says, and he peers in the vent before shaking his head. “Shit.”

“See? This is why I said you’ve got to get blueprints,” Artie says, starting into his lecturing voice. “My dad says you always start with the blueprints. No blueprints, no job.”

“Yeah, and if your dad was great at busting into places, he wouldn’t be serving five to ten,” Finn says.

Artie frowns. “Rude.”

“We’ll bust the door with the crowbar and stop arguing,” Puck says. “We’ll just have to be faster.”

“I think Little Dave was right. I think this is a bad idea, and I want to go home,” Kurt says.

“Go up and keep watch with Little Dave, then,” Finn says. “Don’t let him sit on my bike. He’ll bust up the shocks again.”

Kurt nods, and he gives the three of them one more worried look before trotting up to the sidewalk to stand next to Little Dave.

Puck swings the crowbar and gestures for Artie and Finn to follow him up to the door. “Remember, get the new games first, they’ll sell for more. Ready?”

“On three?” Artie asks.

“No, we aren’t in elementary school,” Puck says, smashing the glass in the door as he says school, then knocking the shards out of the sides. “Go, go.”

Finn reaches through the broken glass and unlocks the door. As he pulls his arm back, his elbow catches one of the shards still sticking out of the side. “Ow! Shit!”

Puck reaches into his pocket and pulls out a handkerchief, handing it to Finn without saying anything, then pushes the door open and points towards the games. Finn presses the handkerchief to his bleeding elbow as he follows Artie into the Family Video, heading towards the games. Artie drops the empty duffel back on the ground in front of the shelf, and the three of them start pulling games off the shelf and dropping them into the duffel bag.

When the games are almost all in the bag, Artie stands up and heads towards the register. “I’m gonna grab the cash,” he says.

“Not part of the plan!” Finn hisses at him.

“Leave the damn cash!” Puck says as Artie keeps going, walking around the counter.

“My mom needs it,” Artie says. He presses some buttons on the register. “They’re gonna turn the water off again. Hand me the crowbar.”

“Shit,” Puck says, passing Artie the crowbar before picking up a final stack of games. Artie gives the register a solid whack with the crowbar, and suddenly, all hell breaks loose as an alarm starts blaring, with a white light spinning around.

“Oh, fuck!” Finn says. “Fuck, we’ve gotta get out of here!”

“No, I need the cash,” Artie says, whacking the register again.

“Miss Nancy’ll really need money if you go to jail, too!” Finn says. He reaches over the counter and grabs Artie by the back of his shirt, hauling him towards the door.

Puck zips up the duffel bag and sprints out of the store, heading towards Little Dave. “Take ’em and hide ’em,” Puck says, then tosses the bag to Little Dave, who looks confused. “Go!”

Little Dave hops onto his three-wheeler, putting the duffel bag across the back, and drives off with one more baffled look over his shoulder at Puck. Finn, Puck, Kurt, and Artie all get on their dirt bikes and zip off towards Finn and Kurt’s house. When they get close, they turn off their bikes, waving at Artie to keep going, then wheel the bikes silently up to the back of the house. Finn gives Kurt a boost up through the bathroom window, then Puck after him, before finally climbing up himself.

“Finn!” Kurt whispers, once they’ve all tiptoed down the hall to Finn and Kurt’s room. “You’re bleeding!”

Puck pulls off his jacket. “Cut my arm, we’ll tell ’em we were wrestling or something.”

“I don’t want to cut your arm!” Kurt says.

“My elbow’s dripping on the floor,” Finn announces, because it is, leaving little blood-splatters across the wood.

“Go get some bandages and shit,” Puck says to Kurt. “I’ll get Finn to cut my arm.”

Kurt nods at Puck, wide-eyed, before scurrying out of the room, pulling the door shut behind him. Finn grins at Puck and holds up his bleeding elbow.

“How bad’s it look?” Finn asks.

“It’s gonna scar.” Puck pulls out his pocketknife and opens it before handing it to Finn. “We’ll tell ’em it was the bedframe. Or we were practicing knife-fighting.”

“Okay. Where d’you want it?” Finn asks, brandishing the pocketknife. “Want me to get you on your arm? I don’t want to cut you too bad.”

Puck pulls off his t-shirt and nods. “Yeah, on my arm. Bicep maybe.”

“Okay. Take a deep breath, I guess.” Finn braces the back of the pocketknife’s blade with his thumb, leaning forward. Puck nods and inhales, and when Finn starts to break the skin, he leans forward and kisses Finn. Finn startles a little, pressing the knife into Puck a little harder than he meant to before dropping it altogether. He kisses back then, hard and pushing his tongue into Puck’s mouth, both of them bleeding all over themselves and the floor.

Puck doesn’t pull away until the hall floor creaks with Kurt’s footsteps, and he grins at Finn as he sits on the edge of the bed. “Ow, dammit.”

“I got the bandaids and some rubbing alcohol,” Kurt whispers as he quietly opens the door. “How’d you get blood everywhere like that? I wasn’t even gone five minutes.”

“Making the knife fight look believable, just in case,” Finn says.

“Yeah, you can say you missed most of it.” Puck shrugs and grabs some of the bandaids from Kurt, opening a big one and handing it to Finn. “We’ll cover these up and pretend like we’ve been asleep.”

“Yeah. I hope Little Dave remembered to hide those games,” Finn says, opening up a bandaid and slapping it over the cut on his elbow. He climbs up to the top bunk of the bunk beds. “You coming up?”

“Yeah, just a second,” Puck says, putting on a couple of bandaids before climbing up. “Hit the lights, Kurtie-boy.”

“Don’t call me that,” Kurt grumbles, but he does hit the lights off.

“Night, Kurtie-boy,” Finn says. He rolls onto his side, his back against the wall, and waits for Puck to wiggle back against him before draping his arm over Puck. He rests his head close to Puck’s, whispering into Puck’s ear, “That was fun.”

Puck snickers quietly. “Yeah, it was.”

It’s still dark outside when Carole throws the bedroom door open, flipping on the lights as she announces, “You have visitors, boys. Lima’s finest are here to see you.”

“Mommm,” Finn whines, burying his face against the back of Puck’s neck. “I’m sleeping.”

“The police, Finn,” Carole says firmly.

“Why,” Puck says. “It’s dark.”

Finn sits up, as much as he can on the top bunk, and rubs his eyes. “Kurt wasn’t there.”

“Shut up,” Puck says, elbowing Finn as he pushes himself up. “We were just fucking around here all night.”

“Language.”

“Sorry, Mama Carole.”

“We’ll be right there, Mom,” Finn says, and as soon as Carole leaves the doorway, he whispers, “But Kurt wasn’t there, okay?”

If they know we were there.”

“Even if it’s something else,” Finn says, nudging Puck to get him to climb down so Finn can, too.

“What’s going on?” Kurt asks quietly.

“It’s okay, Kurtie-boy,” Finn says. “You can go back to sleep.” He climbs down after Puck, and the two of them walk down the hall to the living room, where Carole is sitting in her chair, two cops on the sofa across from her.

“What’s this about?” Puck says, sitting down in the floor near Carole’s chair.

“Can you boys account for your whereabouts from midnight to one this morning?” one of the cops asks.

“Uh. Probably sleeping,” Finn says. “I don’t have a clock up on my bed or anything.”

“Stop being fresh with the officer, Finn,” Carole says.

“We could’ve still been practicing,” Puck says.

“Practicing?” the same cop asks.

“Yeah, we were practicing knife-fighting,” Finn says. “In case we ever have to defend ourselfs. Sometimes the neighborhood’s kinda, uh.”

“Rough,” Puck says. Carole turns to look at Finn, glaring at him and then Puck.

“So you weren’t at the Family Video on Robb?” the cop says, looking dubious.

“Why would we have been at the Family Video?” Puck asks. “I’m pretty sure it closes at 11 on weeknights.”

“That’s cute. Real cute,” the other cop says. “We have video footage of the two of you and a friend, looked like possibly the Abrams boy, breaking into that Family Video at around midnight.”

“Was anything stolen?” Finn asks.

“Shut up, boys,” Carole says. “I’m going to have to wake up Burt now.”

“Oh shit,” Finn says under his breath.

“I’m going to need to search your sons’ rooms, Mrs. Hummel,” the first cop says.

“And I’m going to need to see a warrant before that happens,” Carole replies, sounding as angry with the cops as she does with Finn and Puck.

“It’s your lucky day, then,” the second cop says, pulling out folded stack of paper and holding it out for Carole to look at it. “A warrant to search the premises.”

Carole reads the papers, then looks up with a scowl. “Fine.”

Finn and Puck stand in the living room with the second officer staring at them while the first follows Carole back to the bedroom. A few seconds later, Kurt stumbles sleepily into the living room.

“There’s a cop dumping out the dresser drawers,” Kurt says to Finn.

“Don’t say anything to anybody until Mom says you can, okay?” Finn says. “Even if there was something to say anything about, which there isn’t.” He glares at the cop. Kurt nods his head faintly.

“Do you boys want to explain to me exactly what’s going on here?” Burt asks loudly, his voice entering the room before he does. “Cops waking us up at five in the morning!”

“That’s the cops’ fault,” Puck says. “My dad always says they don’t have no manners.”

“I wouldn’t go taking any advice from your daddy if I were you, you little snot,” the cop says to Puck.

“Don’t speak to a child in my house like that,” Burt says to the cop, but before Finn and Puck can share a smug smile, Burt turns to them and says, “And you two, shut your mouths.”

Puck doesn’t say anything, but he does glare at the cop still in the living room. The search of the bedroom doesn’t take too long, and of course, the cop doesn’t come back with anything but a half-empty bottle of Jim Beam, a pack of cigarettes, and a bowie knife that belonged to Finn’s dead dad. Burt doesn’t even blink at the booze or the cigarettes.

“There a reason you’re taking stuff from my sons’ room that doesn’t have anything to do with a video store?” Burt asks the officers.

“Don’t you want to be aware of the kind of behavior your sons are up to?” the first cop asks.

“Kurt didn’t do anything!” Finn insists. “Whatever it is you think we did, Kurtie-boy wouldn’t have.”

“Anyway, the cigarettes are a Mother’s Day gift for Tessie,” Puck says. “She always says I’m a thoughtful son.”

Even though the cops don’t find anything incriminating in Finn and Kurt’s room, they still put Finn and Puck in the back of the squad car and take them in, where they find out that Artie’s been arrested, too. None of the three of them admit to any of it, none of the three will admit to Kurt being there, and none of the three of them so much as mention Little Dave at all, so in the end, the cops aren’t able to find the video games or charge them with anything but B&E. Finn and Artie spend all of spring break, plus the weekends before and after, in juvie. Puck serves that time plus an additional 48 hours for breaking a kid’s nose after the kid shoved Finn.

Artie complains that the whole thing could’ve been avoided if they’d just done what he said, and gotten blueprints. Finn and Puck ignore him. Burt hangs all three of their mugshots on the Wall of Fame, and Finn feels proud and part of something bigger than himself. It wasn’t even that bad of a spring break, all things considered.

Finn stays over at Puck’s, at least remembering to send Rachel a text this time. They sleep late, awakened by banging on Puck’s front door.

“Puck,” Finn says, nudging Puck. “Puck. Your door.”

“Why,” Puck says, burying his face in his pillow.

“’Cause I don’t live here.”

Puck groans, but climbs out of bed, pulling on a pair of jeans before walking out of the bedroom. “Hold your shit!” he yells. The banging doesn’t stop while he unlocks the door, then groans a second time. “It’s early, Lauren.”

“Thought you said you wanted me to stop by, Puckerman,” says a woman’s voice. Luch, Finn’s brain fills in. Lauren.

“Did you expect me to have the Playstation on already?” Puck says. “Fine. I haven’t had any coffee or booze yet.”

“I’ll put on a pot. You go shower. You smell like a whorehouse,” Lauren says.

“No whores.” Puck closes the door and doesn’t say anything for a few seconds. “Three mugs.”

“I know how to count,” Lauren calls back. “Two bikes.”

“Your stripper buddy’s loud,” Finn says.

Puck walks back to the bedroom door and stretches. “Yeah, but she’s making us coffee. Shower?”

“Yeah. Whorehouse, huh?”

“I think she mixed up whorehouse and cumshots.”

“Get the water warmed up, fuckhead,” Finn says. “I’ll meet you in there.”

Puck snorts once and then disappears from the bedroom doorway, the water starting to run a few seconds later. Finn gives it a few minutes, letting the water warm and Puck have a couple minutes of privacy, if he wants it, before going into the bathroom. He opens the curtain enough to step into the shower.

“Hey,” Finn says.

“Hey. Shut the curtain back,” Puck says, shivering exaggeratedly.

Finn laughs as he pulls the curtain back into place, then he drops onto his knees in the shower, grabbing Puck’s hips in both hands. “Want me to?”

“Well, good morning,” Puck says, nodding.

Finn mouths at the head of Puck’s dick before taking it into his mouth, immediately sliding his mouth as far down as it can go. Puck puts one hand on Finn’s head, using the other one to brace himself against the wall. Finn holds Puck’s hips tightly, bobbing his head as he sucks Puck’s dick, letting his tongue curl around the head every time he pulls back.

“Very good, even,” Puck says, his hips stuttering forward a little bit.

Finn moves his mouth and tongue on Puck for another few strokes, before he pulls away and bites at Puck’s hip. “I fucking love you,” Finn says.

“Yeah, I know,” Puck says. He runs his hand over Finn’s head, shaking the water off. “I fucking love you, too.”

Finn smiles widely at Puck before taking Puck’s dick into his mouth again, sucking and licking as he bobs his head. Puck keeps himself braced against the wall, moving his hips a little more as Finn continues. Finn moves his mouth faster, looking up at Puck.

“Yeah, that’s awesome,” Puck says, gripping Finn’s hair tightly as they both move. Puck watches Finn, too, until he closes his eyes and his head tilts a little to one side. His hips push forward, his dick going deeper in Finn’s mouth, and then Puck starts to cry out as he comes. Finn swallows around him a few times before standing and pulling Puck to him, kissing him deeply with the taste of Puck’s come still on his tongue. Puck doesn’t let him pull away.

Instead, he presses Finn’s back against the wall and kisses him harder, and as they kiss, Puck puts his hand around Finn’s dick, holding it tightly and moving his hand fast. It only takes about thirty seconds of Puck’s hand on Finn before he comes, slumping back against the wall.

“Coffee?” Finn asks, still breathing hard.

Puck laughs a little and ducks his head under the shower briefly. “Yeah, coffee’s good,” he says, stepping out of the shower and reaching back in to turn off the water and hand Finn a towel. Puck wraps a towel around his waist and opens the bathroom door, walking over to the counter where there are three mugs waiting. He leans across and kisses Lauren on the cheek. “Thanks.”

Finn pulls his jeans on, not really worrying about keeping his naked self out of Lauren’s line of sight, then he follows Puck into the kitchen to get his own mug of coffee. “Hey,” Finn says to Lauren.

“Hey,” Lauren says, looking amused. “Sorry if I interrupted.”

“No you aren’t,” Puck says. “You were probably hoping to get an eyeful.”

“I’m sorry I interrupted him. Not you. You probably deserve it,” Lauren says.

“Maybe. When’d you figure it out?” Puck asks.

“Made an educated guess a few years ago, but figured it out for sure when Finn went in.”

Puck shakes his head and takes a drink of his coffee. “Only you. Was it the porn?”

“Well, you did fall asleep in the middle of a Saffron Sisters movie,” Lauren says.

Finn laughs. “Yeah, I think she’s got you there.”

“I was tired!”

“But the one with the chick and the two dudes? You were all about that one, buddy,” Lauren says. “Just calling it like I see it. You appreciate my refreshing honesty. Admit it.”

“Yeah, yeah, you’re insightful or whatever,” Puck says. “You want to give us some of that refreshing honesty about the ATF bitch?”

“For starters, she’s way too hot to work for the government,” Lauren says. “I told Tessie she oughta offer her a job.”

“Tessie probably can’t afford her if she’s that hot. It’s still Lima,” Puck says. “What else?”

“She was definitely interested in the club. She started out asking these vague questions, but once she figured out that Pinky recognized some names she mentioned, she starting asking about K-boy, Little Dave, the prospects, and K-boy’s friend, the one with the hair.” Lauren runs her hand backwards over her hair to mimic Slick’s slicked-back look. “She was really interested in him, it sounded like.”

“He didn’t grow up here, so Pinky probably doesn’t know a damn thing about him. Hell, we hardly do,” Puck admits, looking at Finn. “Do you?”

Finn shakes his head. “No. He was already a prospect when I moved back, so it’s not like I was part of any kind of vetting process or anything. I haven’t really spent much time with him. Kurtie-boy might know.” He shrugs. “I don’t think they’d get anything out of Kurt, though.”

“Yeah, the fed didn’t seem happy with what she got from Pinky,” Lauren says.

“Good. Pinky’d be out of a job if Tessie thought she’d made the fed happy,” Puck says. “Did she mention specifically if she was here for the ‘F’ in ATF?”

Lauren shakes her head. “Not where I heard, but she was there for a while, and I heard from some of the other girls after that they’d heard her talking about guns, a shipment or a deal maybe.”

“Shit,” Puck says. “We definitely voted right yesterday.”

“Yeah, kinda learned my lesson about voting against you,” Finn says. “Seems like you’ve got the right way of looking at things.”

“Nah, it’s just I only trust like three people, and two of ’em are in my apartment,” Puck says. “The only two people who’ve been in my apartment, come to think of it.”

“Aww, you haven’t subjected the rest of the club to this palace?” Lauren asks.

Finn laughs. “You were right about the smell, by the way.”

“Three hundred a month is an incentive to ignore a lot of things,” Puck says. “You need anything, Lauren?”

“Tips have been good,” Lauren says. “Next time you drive up to Findlay, snag me more of those thongs. They’re the only one that can really hold up to a workout.”

“You only love me for my adult store connections,” Puck says, shaking his head. “Get outta here, we all gotta go to work.”

“Yeah. ‘Work’. I totally get it,” Lauren says.

“Aww, fuck you,” Puck says with a grin.

Lauren laughs. “Whatever. We already know you can’t keep up with me.”

Everybody else is passed out drunk after Rusty’s sentencing party. With two consecutive twenty-year sentences, he’s not getting out soon, maybe ever, which Finn knows has to be kind of weird for Puck. Burt usually doesn’t let Finn, Puck, or Kurt stay much past midnight when there’s drinking, but in light of the Rusty thing, he’d let Puck and Finn stay. They’d been drinking a little, mostly a couple of beers at the bar or sneaking a bottle back and forth when Burt isn’t looking their way.

Burt and Carole are curled up together in one of the big chairs, and anybody who’s got an old lady is with her, or with one or two of the company girls, or both, in the case of Artie's recently-released old man. Nobody’s so much as twitched or puked since at least two.

Finn leans over the sink in the clubhouse bathroom, splashing cold water on his face. At some point, he’ll have to make a decision whether to find a square of floor to sack out on, or if he’s walking next door to the house to crash there, or what. The door bangs open and Puck walks in.

“I gotta piss,” he announces.

“Yeah, okay,” Finn says. He doesn’t leave the bathroom, because what’s the point? Not like he and Puck haven’t taken a piss in front of each other hundreds of times since they were old enough to be out of diapers. Puck unzips and starts to piss, leaning on the wall and letting out a loud sigh as he finishes.

“How drunk are you?” Puck asks.

“Not so much,” Finn says. “I stopped after Big Paul started doing shots off those twins from the Landing Strip. You?”

“Not as drunk as I wanted to be. Burt took the half a bottle I had left, said last thing my mom needed was me doing something stupid.” Puck snorts. “Still gonna do something stupid.”

“Yeah? What are you gonna do?”

“This, shithead.” Puck shoves Finn against the door and then kisses him. Finn kisses back, opening his mouth so Puck can push his tongue into it, and he grabs the back of Puck’s head in one hand. His other hand goes to Puck’s hip, holding it tight. As Puck presses his body against Finn’s, Finn realizes Puck never zipped up, so his dick is pushing against the front of Finn’s jeans. Puck starts grinding against Finn as they kiss, and he bites at Finn’s lips.

Finn groans softly, still holding onto Puck’s hip but moving his hand a little, so the tip of his thumb brushes against Puck’s dick. Puck is very hard. Puck bites down harder between kisses, his hand in Finn’s hair pulling Finn’s head down at an angle. Finn can taste blood, but he isn’t sure if it’s his or Puck’s. It makes him feel braver than he has before, and without pulling his mouth away from Puck’s, Finn moves his hand from Puck’s hip, shoving it between them, and curling his whole hand around Puck’s dick.

Puck startles, his body jerking, and the movement pushes his dick into Finn’s hand. Puck doesn’t pull away. He keeps kissing and biting Finn. Finn starts moving his hand, jerking Puck off between them, rough and fast. A half of a minute or so passes before Puck tries to shove his hand down Finn’s jeans, his fingers barely touching Finn’s dick. He scrabbles at Finn’s zipper with both hands, finally getting it down and pulling Finn’s dick out.

Finn gasps and digs his fingertips into Puck’s scalp, kissing him so hard their teeth clack together. Puck’s hand is so hot, the texture of his fingers rough, and the feeling of Puck’s fingers wrapping around him is only barely sexier than the way Puck’s dick feels in Finn’s hand.

Puck grabs and tugs at Finn’s head again, moving closer somehow like he’s raised up on his toes, and his hand moves faster on Finn’s dick. Finn’s hand moves faster, too, without him consciously telling it to do so, and he can feel the soft slickness of Puck’s skin, taste Puck’s whiskey-flavored mouth on his. Before Finn’s really ready or aware it’s happening, he’s thrusting up into Puck’s hand, coming all over it as he lets out short, sharp cries.

Puck’s hand goes still, but he doesn’t pull it away, and he continues kissing Finn hard. His dick twitches in Finn’s hand. Finn takes that as a sign to move his hand faster, biting at Puck’s mouth as he keeps jerking him off. Puck yelps once, and then he comes, his hand pulling Finn’s hair sharply. Finn kisses Puck through coming, sucking his tongue and moving fingers across the back of Puck’s hand. When Puck is still, Finn gently lets go of his dick, sliding his hand out from between them and wiping it on the roll of paper towels on the edge of the sink.

“Puck,” Finn says quietly.

“Stupid,” Puck says with a grunt, and it’s not really clear if he’s avoiding eye contact or if he’s looking in the direction of the rest of the club.

“I don’t care,” Finn whispers fiercely. “I don’t care if it’s stupid.”

“Which is why I have to!” Puck snaps back quietly. “Don’t be stupid. You should care. You gotta care.”

Finn shakes his head rapidly. “No. I care about you.”

“You gotta care about the club, and… and.” Puck stops, frowning. “And your mom!”

“I care about the club. Of course I care about the club,” Finn says. “But I lo— I mean, I care about you, too. I want to do this again. Say we can do this again.”

“You know we shouldn’t!”

“Fuck that. I want to. I think you want to, too. You liked it. I know you did. I could feel that you did, so why can’t you just say it?”

“’Cause it doesn’t matter. We shouldn’t,” Puck insists.

“Well, then fuck ‘shouldn’t’, too,” Finn says. “I want to do it again. I want you to want me to. Just tell me I can, and I won’t ever talk about it again, okay? Just let me, let me touch you, okay? I don’t have to talk about it, if you’ll just let me.”

“We don’t always get to do everything we want,” Puck says, but then he shoves Finn against the door and kisses him again.

Just before lunch the next day, Puck comes up to Finn at the back of the shop. “I think we should snag Burt, tell him what Tessie and Lauren passed along to us.”

“Yeah,” Finn says. “He’s not gonna be happy.”

“Better than not knowing, I guess,” Puck says. “Meet you over at the club?”

“Yeah.”

Puck nods and heads over to put a few tools away, then walks out of the shop in the direction of the club. Finn finishes up the brake job he’s doing, washes his hands, then also heads over to the clubhouse. When he gets in, Puck’s already with Burt, sitting in the cluster of leather chairs in the back corner of the room.

“Hey,” Finn says. “Puck bringing you up to speed?”

“I gave him the rundown on what Tessie knew, just getting to Lauren,” Puck says, then turns back to Burt. “The ATF bitch had a specific list of people to ask about.”

“She give any sort of hint of where she got the names?” Burt asks.

Finn looks at Puck for a second, making eye contact before he looks away, shaking his head. “Nah. It was a weird list, anyway. The prospects. Slick.”

“Don’t forget Little Dave,” Puck says with a laugh. “Like he’d ever rat.”

Burt laughs, too. “What do you mean? He’s our greatest criminal mind, and you can barely ever get that guy to shut up.”

“Anyway, it’s obviously a concern that she’s got names, but Lauren didn’t think she really had any details about the deal, just a hint or two,” Finn says.

“Seems like being a little extra careful couldn’t hurt for this deal, is all,” Puck adds.

“We’ll keep the information at the table. Keep the prospects out of it,” Burt says. “Nobody talks to anybody outside of that room.”

Puck nods. “Speaking of Little Dave, he was going already, right?”

“Best lookout we’ve got,” Burt says.

“No cut. He needs to be with the van, too, no bike,” Finn says. “We’ll need to buy as much time as possible if the feds show. If they see him sporting club colors, they’ll run right into it.”

“Yeah, I agree. You want one of us to check for alternate routes out?” Puck asks.

Burt nods. “You do that, and don’t show it to anybody else. Just you and me’ll know it, just in case.”

Puck looks at Finn. “I can go after work?”

“Yeah, that’s good,” Finn says. “I’ve got something I need to handle.”

“Alright. It’s settled, then. We’ll go over the details tonight at church,” Burt says.

“Thanks, Burt,” Puck says with a quick nod. Burt nods back before getting up and leaving the clubhouse, probably heading back up to the shop.

“I’m gonna have a talk with Kurtie-boy before we get in there,” Finn says.

“Yeah, probably a good idea,” Puck says, lighting a cigarette. “Meet me outside before church?”

“Yeah,” Finn says.

“Okay.” Puck thumps Finn’s shoulder a couple of times. “Back to work.”

“You been out to see your dad at all?” Finn asks Puck. The three of them—Finn, Puck, and Kurt—are all down by the Ottawa. They’ve built a campfire, Puck brought the Jim Beam and smokes, and they’ve all been sitting in the quiet, smoky dark together.

“Tessie says maybe around Thanksgiving, ’cause it’s a haul out to Terre Haute,” Puck says, flicking ash off the end of his cigarette.

“You write to him?” Finn asks. He passes the bottle to Kurt, who takes a swig and then passes it to Puck.

“Couple of times, I guess? Mostly he wants more money for the commissary. He doesn’t ask much about what’s going on out here.”

Finn nods. “Yeah. Tessie hanging in there?”

“She’s never lonely,” Puck says with a snort. “She says we’re fine on money, since she can still dance just as much. Probably more, since Rusty isn’t calling asking when she’s gonna be home or why she hasn’t cooked a hot dinner in a week.”

“Mom usually cooks for everybody, anyway,” Kurt says. “Tessie doesn’t have to cook. She’s good at other stuff.”

“Like dancing,” Finn says.

Puck laughs. “Yeah, my mom’s a first-class stripper. And I probably cook better than she does. At least I don’t burn Kraft mac ’n cheese.”

“Yeah, she’s not a good cook,” Finn agrees. “At least she’s around, though. That’s gotta count for something. She didn’t run off like Little Dave’s mom did.”

“Or die,” Kurt adds.

“Yeah,” Finn says. “So you’re luckier than some people. Plus she’s good at getting us out of trouble.”

Puck laughs again and takes a drink of the Jim Beam. “Yeah, and I guess Rusty still being just a state over’s not the worst thing.”

“You’re practically a two-parent home,” Finn says. “That’s why you’re so well-adjusted.”

Puck throws his head back, laughing even harder, and while he’s still laughing he passes Finn the Jim Beam. They drink and stare at the fire for a while, until Finn realizes that Kurt’s either sacked out or passed out with his head against a log on the other side of the fire.

“Kurtie-boy’s out,” Finn says.

“He’s holding his liquor better these days,” Puck says, sounding proud.

“Yeah,” Finn says, smiling at Kurt, whose mouth is open, drooling down the side of his face into the dirt. “He’s a good kid.”

Puck lights a fresh cigarette and shifts sideways, leaning against Finn. “It’s weird, knowing he’s not getting out,” Puck says quietly. “Not going to come back.”

“Yeah. Yeah, that’s rough. I mean, he’s alive, but it’s still almost the same as with my dad,” Finn says.

“You ever wish you could remember him better? Not as Kit, but as your dad, I mean,” Puck says.

Finn nods. “Yeah. It would’ve been nice to know him for real. Like, I know all about Kit Hudson, MC President, but I don’t really remember anything about Christopher Hudson, the guy on my birth certificate. Mom says it’s better off that I don’t remember, ’cause shit was so rough at the end, but I dunno. I still wish I did.”

“Yeah. Sometimes I wish Rusty’d been a little less of a MC member when we were kids, you know?”

“Yeah, like Burt was,” Finn says. “He’s been a real good dad, and Kurt’s lucky. He was still so little when Mom and Burt got married, so he almost always had both of them. It’s sad what happened with his mom, but at least it’s not, you know. Like with Kit.”

“Yeah, I know.” Puck nods and tosses his cigarette butt into the fire. “Hell, Kurt could almost pass for normal, if you guys had a picket fence.”

Finn laughs. “Yeah, he kinda is the normal kid out of all of us, isn’t he?”

“Definitely more than the other MC kids.”

“Little Dave can’t help how he is. It’s not his fault he was born to be fat and nice,” Finn says.

Puck shakes his head. “It’s just not a good combination.”

“Least he’s big enough, most people don’t try to find out if he’s nice or mean, they just leave him alone.”

“Maybe it works out at home, since Big Paul’s fat and nice, too,” Puck says.

“Yeah, but he ain’t big,” Finn says.

Puck shrugs and drinks more of the Jim Beam. “Dads are just weird.”

“Yeah,” Finn says. He waits for Puck to pass him the bottle, taking a drink before talking again. “I guess I just wish people would talk to me more about what my dad was like as a person, instead of what a great president he was, and how good he was with bikes, and shit like that. Like, he left me all this money for college. Why’d he think I oughta go to college? I tried asking Mom about it, but she just started crying. What’d my dad leave me all that college money for?”

“Maybe you’re supposed to get one of those business degrees they advertise on the radio, so you can expand your automotive empire across all of western Ohio,” Puck says grandly.

“Maybe,” Finn says. He tosses his cigarette butt into the fire and exhales loudly.

“What is it, shithead?” Puck asks.

“I dunno. It just never sat right, what my mom says happened.”

“Yeah? The OD?”

“Yeah. Like, he was falling apart at the end, right? Left his cut with Burt and ran off to Cincy to get high, but somehow in there he takes the time to set up a college fund for me? He was too fucked up to tell good junk from bad junk, but he could do that?” Finn says. “Doesn’t that sound kinda weird to you?”

“Yeah. Yeah, I dunno. Maybe he set up the college fund before Cincy? Or even while Mama Carole was pregnant?” Puck guesses.

“Maybe, but he didn’t ever tell Mom about it. She didn’t know until after he died,” Finn says.

“I dunno. Like I said, dads are weird,” Puck says, shaking his head. “Maybe they’re not supposed to make sense.”

“Yeah, maybe not,” Finn says. “I guess you’d know better than me.”

“Yeah. Guess so.” Puck leans his head over and sits silently as the fire starts to die down. “Think Kurtie-boy’s out for the night?”

“I think so, yeah.”

Puck takes another drink and lifts his head to grin at Finn. “’Bout as safe as it gets, then.”

Slick’s in the front office at Kurt’s bike shop, like he always seems to be lately, and Finn gives him a polite nod.

“Kurtie-boy around?”

Slick frowns at Finn as if his disapproval matters. “K-boy is in the back,” Slick says. He gestures over his shoulder with one thumb.

“Thanks.” Finn walks past the counter and back into the shop. Kurt’s working on a frame, welding together two long pieces of steel. When he sees Finn, he pushes his welding mask up.

“Hi. What’s up?” Kurt asks.

“You got a minute to talk?” Finn says. “It’s about tonight. Well, tonight and what’s coming up.”

“Sure. Let me drop this over on the bench,” Kurt says. He puts his mask and gloves on his workbench. “So what about tonight?”

“So I know you know about the fed. I just wanted to ask you to keep an eye out for anything that seems off. Don’t talk to anybody about what’s going down this week, even another brother, unless you’re in the clubhouse,” Finn says. “That’s on Burt’s orders.”

Kurt nods. “Why? Does he think we’ve got a rat?”

“Not sure, but I think he thinks it’s something to consider at least,” Finn says.

“Okay. I won’t talk to anybody.”

Finn looks Kurt directly in the eyes. “That means Slick, too. You understand that, right?”

“Alright. Only in the clubhouse,” Kurt says.

“Okay. Good,” Finn says. “I’ll see you tonight, okay?”

“Sure, Finn. I’ll see you later.”

Finn nods his head once then walks back up to the front office. “See you at the table,” he says to Slick as he passes.

“See you,” Slick says, not making eye contact and staring at some papers on the desk.

Finn walks back over to the clubhouse to meet Puck out front. “I talked to Kurtie-boy. Told him Burt says not to discuss any of this outside the clubhouse.”

“Good. He won’t.” Puck lights a cigarette and offers Finn one. “I found two different ways to get the hell out of the place the deal’s going down. I’ll give one to Burt. You ’n me, though, we’re keeping the other one.”

Finn frowns. “You sure that’s a good idea?”

“Like I said yesterday, I trust about three people. If we have to use it, story is we got lucky. Didn’t know about it ahead of time.” Puck shrugs. “You’ve got priors now. Seems smart. We know neither of us is talking to ATF.”

“Okay. If you think that’s what we should do,” Finn says.

“If shit goes down, stick with me. Okay?”

“You got it,” Finn says. “If I get popped, I’m taking you down with me this time.”

“Shithead.”

“Yeah, you fucking love it.”

Puck laughs. “You know it.”

“Want to head on in?” Finn asks.

“Yeah. Time for church I guess.”

When Finn, Puck, and Kurt get into the club that afternoon after school, Tugboat’s at the bar nursing a bottle of Jack, his right-hand knuckles wrapped in bloody, grubby bandages. Artie’s old man, RT Senior, is seated next to him, asking Tug questions, while Burt and Big Paul are on Tug’s other side, listening quietly.

“And instead of thankin’ me, that bitch just grabs the little shit and walks out on me!” Tug says, shaking his head. “What kind of world is that?”

“World full of bullshit,” RT Senior says.

“I mean, you shoulda seen the shit he was reading. Had some kind of crossdresser in it, bunch of magical faggots running around in it, and the kid told his fucking mom that he thought one of ’em was cute! Can you believe that shit? Cute.” Tug sounds disgusted by the whole situation.

“Maybe he didn’t mean anything by it,” Burt says. “Just a mis-speak.”

“No, he knew what he was saying. I always suspected. This is his mom’s fault, letting him get away with acting like he does, babying him all those years. No wonder he turned out to be a little faggot,” Tug says. He takes another swig from the bottle of Jack. “Here she kept telling me I shouldn’t hit him so much, and it turns out I needed to beat the shit out of him more often!”

“What happened?” Kurt asks Finn in a low whisper. “Who did Tug beat?”

“His kid, I think,” Finn whispers back. “Now be quiet so we can listen, okay?” Kurt nods his head rapidly, the three of them standing silently at the front of the club, still unnoticed by the men at the bar.

“I think a good talk sometimes works better than a beating,” Big Paul says. “When they’re still kids, I mean.”

“Twelve’s old enough to know better,” Tug says.

Finn frowns, thinking about Tug’s kid, who he remembers from MC cookouts as a tiny thing with messy red hair, usually hiding from the other kids behind his mom. He and Kurt have had their share of whoopings, but it was always their fault for doing something stupid or dangerous, and a whooping’s not the same as a beating, anyway. A smack on your kid’s ass doesn’t leave you with busted knuckles.

“But why’d he do that?” Kurt whispers.

“Shut it, K-boy,” Puck hisses, not even looking at Kurt. He keeps staring at Tugboat and the others intently. Kurt, on the other hand, just looks vaguely pleased by the new version of his nickname.

“Anyway, they’re gone,” Tug says morosely. “Bitch picked that crybaby little faggot over her own husband, is what happened. Hell, I hope she doesn’t come back! If she does, then I’ve got two of ’em I’d have to deal with, ’cause you know that shit don’t come from my side of the family.”

“Well, you won’t be lonely. Plenty of girls down at the Strip to keep you company,” RT Senior says.

“Oughta just start over from scratch with a young one. Get a couple kids off her, raise ’em better,” Tug says.

“Let’s get out of here,” Puck says quietly, already taking a step backwards. Finn nods, following Puck out of the clubhouse, with Kurt right on their heels.

Once they’re outside, Finn exhales, a loud shaky breath. “Shit. That’s fucked up.”

“But I don’t understand. Why did Tugboat beat up his son so badly?” Kurt asks.

“Dammit, K-boy,” Puck says angrily. “’Cause he thinks his son’s gay. You can be such a fucking kid sometimes.”

“Hey, lay off Kurtie-boy,” Finn says, putting a hand on Puck’s arm. “None of this’s got anything to do with him.”

Puck scowls at Finn. “You know I’m right.”

“Yeah, but Tug is Tug. Tug ain’t Burt or Rusty,” Finn says.

“Close enough. Just a matter of degree, not attitude,” Puck says.

“Dad doesn’t even use a belt,” Kurt says. “He’d never punch either of us, no matter what we did.”

“Once you’re sixteen, it’d be a beatdown, not a belt, and anyway, it’s not about what you do,” Puck says, still scowling. “It’s just about who Tug’s kid is. Weren’t you listening? Kid didn’t do shit.”

“You don’t know that any of the rest of them’d do the same, though,” Finn says. “You can’t know that. Big Paul didn’t even think Tug should hit his kid at all.”

“Because he was still young. Not because Big Paul’s got something against violence,” Puck says, gesturing around them.

“Dad wouldn’t,” Kurt insists, sounding like he’s about to work himself up over it.

“Don’t matter if he would or wouldn’t, since it’s not an issue, right?” Finn says, looking at Puck and giving him a ‘drop it’ face. “You’re fine. Nobody’s gonna touch you with me n’ Puck around, right?”

“Yeah, we wouldn’t let anyone hurt you, K-boy,” Puck says. He stares at Finn, though, as he says it.

“See? Don’t freak out about it,” Finn says, patting Kurt on the back. “Everything’s fine. Tugboat’s just an asshole most of the time, anyway.”

“Almost all of the time, even,” Puck says, finally looking a little less angry. “Nothing to worry about.”

“Kurtie-boy, you head over to the house, okay?” Finn says. “Do your homework so at least one of us doesn’t get his ass chewed tonight.” Kurt nods.

“Don’t upset Mama Carole, okay?” Puck adds.

“Alright,” Kurt says. He heads off in the direction of the house, and Finn exhales loudly again.

“Well shit,” Finn says. “Shit, Puck.”

“Yeah. I know,” Puck says. “Rusty would have agreed with all of that, too, except maybe the beating up a twelve-year-old. Me? I’d be fair game.”

“Burt wouldn’t,” Finn says, though he’s not 100% sure he believes it. He shakes his head hard. “No, he definitely wouldn’t.”

“Okay, sure, we’ll go with that,” Puck says. “But does he patch you in? Give you the veep patch?”

“Maybe not. If you had to choose, though?” Finn asks. “If you had to choose, we could stop, I guess, if that’s what you wanted.”

“I choose not to have to choose. We don’t have to stop, but we don’t have to make a choice, either,” Puck says.

“Okay,” Finn says, because that’s a better option, one he can actually tell Puck, better than the option where he’d choose Puck over the club if he had to. Even though he would.

“C’mon. Let’s go into the shop,” Puck says. “We’ll go down by the Ottawa this weekend or something.”

“Yeah. I’ll see if I can steal us some of Mom’s coconut rum and we can pretend we’re on the beach,” Finn says.

Puck cracks a smile for the first time since they walked into the club and heard Tug. “Okay, shithead. Beach it is.”

The deal is set to go down on Thursday, just before dark, so everybody but Big Paul and the prospects heads out to the meet point by the ethanol plant on the south end of Lima. Little Dave, dressed in a plain t-shirt and jeans, stations himself at the entrance to one of the parking lots, far enough off the road to not immediately be seen, but not too far in for the rest of the MC to scatter if the feds or cops show up.

Los Santos are already waiting. Burt and Soto, Los Santos’s president, talk for a few minutes while Bad Road backs the van up to the old SUV driven by one of the Los Santos prospects. Finn, Puck, Slick, Beast, and Tug start transferring the guns from the van to the SUV. Kurt and Artie handle the money. Everything goes smoothly, and the transaction only takes about twenty minutes.

Burt and Soto talk terms for future deals while the other guys shoot the shit for a while, but then they hear the sound of cars on gravel, followed by Little Dave’s calm shout of “Go Buckeyes!”

“Shit, that’s the signal!” Finn says. “Everybody get out of here!”

Los Santos hop on their bikes and leave to the north, while the Sons split towards the south. The van and most of the Sons on bikes turn right out of the parking lot, but Finn keeps his eyes on Puck, turning left when Puck sharply turns his bike in that direction.

Puck guns it around a curve, then slows down abruptly as he crosses over a pair of railroad tracks before swinging north. They ride beside the tracks, sometimes hidden by freight cars, and take a turn to the west when the tracks do. Then Puck waves his arm and points before heading across hard-packed dirt to a narrow paved trail heading north. At the end of the trail, there’s what looks like an abandoned freight yard turned motocross track, and Puck waves again, heading further north in a zig-zag fashion before making a right turn onto Fourth Street. After they cross I–75, Puck makes another turn, left on Greely Chapel, and they go about a mile up to Harding before Puck pulls into the Bob Evans parking lot, letting his engine idle.

Finn pulls up beside Puck. “We good to stop here?”

“Either we go in, sit down, have a nice dinner, or we head straight back to the shop from here. You think we’re good to head back?” Puck asks.

“Let me call Burt first,” Finn says. He grabs his phone out of his back pocket and punches in Burt’s number. The phone rings several times, then goes into voicemail, so he tries Big Paul.

“Hello?” Big Paul says. “Finn?”

“Hey. Did Burt and the guys make it back?”

“The van and everyone but you, Puck, and Little Dave made it back about two minutes ago, no tail.”

“We got separated,” Puck whispers.

“We got separated,” Finn says to Big Paul. “Little Dave’s probably been picked up again. Sorry.”

“Another mugshot for the Wall of Fame, I guess,” Big Paul says, sighing a little. “I’ll talk to Burt then head over to the station to pick him up. Not like they ever hold him for long.”

“Alright. Tell Burt we’ll be there in—” Finn puts his hand over the phone for a second, looking at Puck and mouthing “ten? fifteen?”

“Fifteen,” Puck mouths back.

“In fifteen,” Finn says to Big Paul.

“Okay, Finn. I’ll tell him. You boys keep your eyes open on the way back, just in case!”

“Thanks, Big Paul. We will,” Finn says. He ends the call and shoves his phone back in his pocket. “Everybody’s accounted for but Little Dave,” he says to Puck.

“They’ll cut him loose soon.” Puck scowls. “It wasn’t the prospects.”

“Nope. Shit.” Finn sighs as he reaches into the inside pocket of his cut, pulling out a pack of cigarettes. He holds the pack out to Puck to take one, and they both sit on their bikes in silence until they finish those cigarettes.

“I’m gonna find out who it was,” Puck says. He tosses his butt down on the ground and shakes his head. “Have to.”

“Burt’ll be knocking heads together, so we should probably get back over to the clubhouse.”

“Yeah. Time to at least start the questions.”

The summer that Finn turns sixteen is hotter than usual. Puck’s place doesn’t have central air, and by late June, the little window unit in the living room can’t keep up. They jerk each other off in Puck’s room, on top of the sheets with the fan on high, and they’re still both soaked in sweat by the time they come. They roll away from each other quickly, because the added body heat makes it that much hotter and stickier.

Puck is silent for a minute or two, lazily smoking a cigarette, before he exhales heavily. “Quinn’s knocked up.”

Finn can’t respond at first, lying there on his back and watching the fan wobble as it spins. Finally, he says, “What?”

“Knocked up. Preggers. In the ‘family’ way.”

“Yeah, I get what it means,” Finn says. “Why are you telling me? Why do you care, even?”

“’Cause she says it’s mine, and I guess it could be,” Puck says.

“What?” Finn asks, rolling onto his side to stare at Puck. “It could be? What do you mean, it fucking could be?”

“Like you haven’t noticed her hanging around?”

“Yeah, that’s what company girls do, even baby company girls,” Finn says. “Are you telling me you fucked her?”

“Yeah,” Puck says, drawing the word out. “Did you want me to explain why I might even consider saying no to everyone in the club? Tug, maybe?”

“And she’s pregnant? You fucked her and she’s pregnant?” Finn says. He sits up, grabbing the first shirt he finds and using it to mop the sweat and come off his stomach. “The fuck, Puck!”

“I didn’t have a condom with me,” Puck says defensively. “It could come out looking like Big Paul!”

“Yeah, I don’t think Little Dave and Quinn have ever been in the same room together alone,” Finn says. He grabs his jeans up off the floor and pulls them on, snatching up another shirt that might be his, even if it’s not the one he wore over today.

“It’s not like she’s my old lady or anything, Finn,” Puck says. “Jesus Christ.”

“You could have told me!” Finn puts his shirt on and then his shoes, before he turns and heads for the door.

“I am telling you. Right now. And I figured you’d found some company girl at the same party,” Puck says. “Didn’t exactly see you around after the first few shots.”

“The one three weeks ago? I went back to the house with Kurt,” Finn says. “He was puking all over his shoes, ’cause Tugboat thought it would be funny to give him tequila and loosen him up.”

“Kurt’s gotta learn to stop puking up his liquor,” Puck says, shaking his head. “You know I don’t look for you at your house.”

“Who’s fault is that?” Finn says. He turns his back on Puck and continues towards the door.

“Uh, motherfuckin’ Burt’s fault. ’Cause of how you live with him?” Puck says.

“Yeah, well, Burt’s not the one who knocked up some little pink-haired bitch ’cause he couldn’t walk a hundred feet to look for me,” Finn says. “Fuck you, Puck. I’m out of here.”

Finn shoves the door open and then slams it behind himself before Puck can follow, if he would follow, which Finn thinks he probably wouldn’t. He’s on his dirt bike and halfway down the road before he shouts “Fuck!” and lets his eyes actually start to tear up. He’s done crying before he gets back to the house, at least, and he doesn’t speak to Kurt on his way through to his room, grateful that Carole finally cleared all the old shit out of the spare so he and Kurt could both have their own space.

He’s glad they don’t have a ‘talk about your feelings’ kind of family, because Carole and Burt leave him alone through dinner. He hears a quiet tap on his door just after midnight, which usually means Kurt, but when he opens the door, Kurt isn’t there, just a cup of warm milk by the door. Finn dumps the rest of a bottle of vodka into it before he drinks it. It's absolutely disgusting.

Finn doesn’t get up until just before noon, and at a little after one, he hears the buzz of Puck’s bike’s engine. He makes sure the door is locked before going back to his room again. A minute or so later, he hears Puck knocking on the door, followed by the sound of Kurt letting him in.

“Shit,” Finn mutters to himself. He tosses a towel across his bed and plunks the alternator and the tool box near the door onto the bed, sitting down and picking up a socket wrench, just to have something in his hand. It might come in handy if he has to hit Puck with something.

Puck opens Finn’s bedroom door without even knocking, and he takes one look at the bed and snorts. “Making good progress on that alternator, huh?”

“Fuck off,” Finn says. “Why don’t you go fuck your pregnant girlfriend or something?”

“Fuck you. I don’t have a girlfriend.” Puck sits down on the edge of the bed, shoving the alternator to the side.

“Your baby-mama. Whatever.”

“Maybe baby-mama, and not the same thing,” Puck says, shrugging.

“Doesn’t matter,” Finn says. “Why are you even here?”

“Why are you so pissed off?”

“Because you fucked her,” Finn says. “Jesus, I thought I was supposed to be the stupid one.”

“Like I’m going to get away with being a fucking nun with the rest of the club?” Puck says incredulously.

“Nobody bothers me about it,” Finn says.

“’Cause of Burt and how you’re going to take over the club,” Puck says with a snort. “You can get away with shit that I can’t.”

“Nobody’ll think you’re anything but a great big stud now. You must be happy,” Finn says.

“Yeah, I’m fucking jumping for joy, asshole,” Puck says. He rolls his eyes and shoves the alternator the rest of the way off the bed.

“Hey! I was working on that, fucker!”

“Now you get to work on it even more, shithead.”

“Fuck you!” Finn says loudly. “Get the fuck out of my house!”

“Fuck you,” Puck retorts, shoving Finn towards the wall and then kissing him hard. Finn shoves Puck off of him with both hands.

“Get off of me,” Finn says.

Puck pushes Finn’s shoulder with his right hand. “Get off with you, you mean.”

“No, I mean fuck off,” Finn says, shoving Puck harder, so he stumbles back.

“Yeah, you want me to fuck you?” Puck asks as he shoulders Finn.

“No, I want you to leave,” Finn says. He swings a fist at Puck, who ducks and then lunges at Finn, tackling him around the middle. Finn only barely manages to stay on his feet, pummeling Puck’s shoulders and upper back with both fists. “Get off me, you son of a bitch!”

“You wanna be on top, is that it?”

“Shut up!”

“Thought so,” Puck says, driving his shoulder into Finn’s gut, knocking the breath out of him, so that he can’t shout. Finn brings his knee up instead, kneeing Puck in the chest. “Shit!” Puck says, pulling Finn down to the floor on top of him.

Neither one of them can really throw a punch without letting go of the other, so they roll around on the floor, swearing at each other, until Finn elbows Puck in the head.

“Ow! Motherfucker!” Puck yells, sounding younger.

You’re the motherfucker!” Finn shouts.

“You hurt me!”

“You started it!”

“You told me to leave!”

“Yeah, and you didn’t!” Finn says. “’Cause you don’t give a shit what I want!”

“You’re pissed about something that was gonna happen sooner or later!”

“Bullshit! It didn’t have to happen. You made it happen! You did it!”

“What did you think was gonna happen?” Puck asks. “Huh? What did you think?”

“I don’t know! I thought—” Finn cuts himself off and shakes his head.

“No, really! What did you fucking think was gonna happen?”

“I thought this meant something!” Finn blurts out.

Puck stares at him. “Of course it fucking does, but what did you think we were gonna do?”

“Like you said, one of these days, I’ll be in charge,” Finn says. “I thought it wouldn’t matter then! Who’s gonna say something when I’m the president and you’re the VP?”

“It’s a damn long time until then! What are we supposed to do before then? You know how things work!”

“We’d figure something out! Nobody’s said anything so far. Maybe they never would,” Finn says. “You didn’t have to fuck her. We don’t even do that.”

“She didn’t have a dick to jerk off. You want to?”

“She probably gave you, like, herpes or something,” Finn says.

“You can check for me,” Puck says.

“Fuck you,” Finn says, letting his shoulders slump as he exhales. “I thought this meant something for real.”

“It does, shithead. In here, and at my place, and down by the river, but it can’t out there. Not now. Not for a long time. You know that,” Puck says.

“Well, that sucks, and now you’re gonna have a kid. That’s so fucked up,” Finn says.

“Maybe. Maybe mine. If she keeps it,” Puck says. “I kinda hope she gives it up.”

“She’s not gonna get rid of it?” Finn asks. “I bet Tessie would pay for it.”

“I already asked her. She said no. Probably hopes I’ll change my mind.”

“Yeah?” Finn asks.

Puck snorts. “I think she thought she’d get a repeat performance or something. I told her to let me know what I needed to sign when the kid’s born.”

“You don’t want to be a dad?” Finn asks. “You could get a sidecar for your bike. You know, when you’re old enough to ride a real bike.”

“Shithead.” Puck rolls his eyes. “If it’s a girl, Quinn’d raise her to be another company girl, and if it’s a boy, I’d have to start teaching him a lot of shit,” Puck says with a shrug. “I never really wanted kids.”

“What if she doesn’t give it up?”

“I dunno. I’ll get Tessie to talk to her. Maybe Mama Carole.”

“Yeah,” Finn says. “Shit, Puck.”

“Yeah. Yeah. I know. You weren’t totally wrong, though.”

“About what?” Finn asks.

Puck shrugs. “Won’t have to worry about anyone talking for awhile. Years maybe.”

“Yeah. Great.” Finn sighs and sits on the floor, arms propped on his knees. “So now what?”

“So now nothing really changes?”

“Yeah. I guess so,” Finn says.

Puck nods and then grabs Finn by the neck, pulling him in for a kiss. Finn doesn’t shove him away this time. Puck rolls onto his back and tugs Finn over on top of him, still kissing. Finn puts one hand into Puck’s mohawk and grips it while they kiss, grinding down against Puck’s leg. Puck thrusts his leg up, pressing on Finn’s dick, and his fingers squeeze at the back of Finn’s neck, scruffing him.

Finn braces his free arm on the floor next to Puck’s head. The kiss gets rougher, their teeth clacking together a few times. Puck works his other hand between them, pulling at the button on Finn’s cutoffs. Finn lifts his hips to give Puck more room. Puck unfastens Finn’s shorts enough to shove his hand between Finn’s boxers and his skin, grabbing Finn’s dick. Finn grunts against Puck’s mouth, thrusting into Puck’s hand.

“Just the same,” Puck says, moving his hand faster and more roughly. Finn shakes his head, closing his eyes. “Yeah? You wanna do something different?”

“No. I don’t know. It’s just different,” Finn says.

“Different’s not always bad,” Puck insists.

“Doesn’t feel good,” Finn says. “I mean, you feel good. This feels good.”

“Want me to suck you off instead?”

Finn startles and pulls away, so he can look down at Puck’s face. Puck doesn’t look like he’s joking or anything, only like he’s waiting for an answer. Finn nods slowly.

“You’re sure you want to?” Finn asks.

“Why would I offer if I didn’t?”

“’Cause you feel bad you fucked Quinn and got her pregnant?”

“If it were that I’d do something else,” Puck says.

“So you don’t feel bad?” Finn asks. “Or you’re not offering because you feel bad?”

“The second one, shithead.”

“Well, but what would you do if it was because you felt bad?” Finn asks.

“Focus,” Puck says. “Blowjob?”

“Yeah. Cool,” Finn says.

Right.” Puck jerks Finn off for a few more strokes, then uses both hands to yank Finn’s cutoffs and boxers down to his knees. “Lie down.”

“On the floor?”

“Floor, bed, either way.”

“Okay.” Finn rolls off of Puck, so he’s on his back on the floor, propped up on his elbows. Puck doesn’t say anything, getting onto his knees and moving closer to Finn. He puts his hand around Finn’s dick again, holding it by the base, and as he leans over, he looks up at Finn and grins for just a few seconds. He looks happier than Finn has seen him since their days by the Ottawa. Another few seconds later, and he puts his mouth around the head of Finn’s dick and immediately sucks in, his cheeks hollowing slightly.

Finn immediately grabs Puck’s mohawk and thrusts up into his mouth. Puck gags a little, then seems to recover, moving his head up and down Finn’s dick on his own. His hand slides up from the base partway each time, and his other hand grabs at Finn’s thigh, his fingers digging in. It kind of hurts, but not really in a bad way, so Finn tugs on Puck’s hair a little to get him to do it again. Puck does, his mouth sliding down farther with more of Finn’s dick in it, and when he gags again, his fingers dig in a third time.

“Yeah,” Finn says softly. He watches Puck’s mouth, the way his lips stretch around Finn’s dick. “Yeah, that’s good. That’s really good.”

Puck glances up, making eye contact with Finn for a few seconds before he closes them again. His mouth moves faster, the speed of his hand on Finn’s dick lagging. Finn puts his free hand on Puck’s face, cupping his cheek and touching Puck’s eyelashes with his thumb. Puck lets go of Finn’s dick and puts his hand over Finn’s. Finn’s chest tightens, watching Puck and feeling his mouth, and all he really wants to do is tell Puck he loves him, though he knows that’s not the kind of thing he’s supposed to actually say out loud.

“Yeah,” Finn repeats. “Like that. That’s so good. That’s so awesome.” He lifts his hips, shoving his dick deeper into Puck’s mouth. This time, Puck doesn’t gag, and he presses his hand harder over Finn’s as his head keeps moving. Finn can actually feel his dick in Puck’s mouth through Puck’s cheek, which makes everything hotter, and before Finn really realizes it, he feels his balls drawing up, and then he’s coming in Puck’s mouth, biting down on his own lip to stay quiet.

Puck mostly swallows, but there’s a little bit of come around his mouth when he drops Finn’s dick from his mouth. “Yeah?”

“Yeah,” Finn says, using the hand on Puck’s face to tug him up Finn’s body. When Puck’s face is near Finn’s, Finn kisses him, licking the drop of come up in the process. It’s less gross than the idea of it sounds.

“You could’ve yelled,” Puck says after a few more seconds pass. “I told Kurt to beat it when I got here.”

“Oh. You didn’t say. I didn’t want him to hear,” Finn says. “That was fucking awesome, though.”

“Yeah,” Puck agrees. “Yeah, it was.”

“You liked doing it?” Puck doesn’t say anything for over a minute, then he nods, his mohawk scraping across Finn’s cheek. “Did you… I could do it to you, if you wanted,” Finn continues softly.

“You wanna?” Puck mutters.

“Yeah. Kurt’s not here, so you can yell, right?”

Puck laughs a little. “Yeah. I guess I can.”

“See? Then I wanna,” Finn says. He rolls, flipping Puck onto his back, and starts pulling Puck’s shirt up over his head. Puck lifts his arms and shoulders, and the shirt comes off easily. Once that’s off, Finn undoes Puck’s jeans and tugs them down his hips, not even getting them past Puck’s knees before lightly biting at the little lucky horseshoe tattoo at the bottom of Puck’s ribs and then immediately wrapping his lips around the head of Puck’s dick.

“Oh, shit!” Puck says, his body jumping as he startles, and his hands land mostly on top of Finn’s head. He moves them enough to grasp Finn’s hair on either side of his head, and his hips thrust up a second time, more deliberately. Finn takes Puck’s dick in deeper, sucking on it as he tries to slide his lips farther down.

Puck tugs on Finn’s head, pulling it down as his hips move. “Yeah, that’s awesome, Finn.”

Finn tries to smile—it doesn’t really work with a dick in his mouth—and sucks harder, moving his hand to the base of Puck’s dick to hold it. He flicks his tongue along the slit at the tip, then sucks more, trying to move his lips and tongue in a way that Puck likes. Puck groans a little as he squirms under Finn, his fingers pulling Finn’s hair.

“Fuck, yeah, keep doing that,” Puck says with another groan.

Finn does the tongue-flick thing again, using his hand to stroke Puck’s shaft. Puck thrusts up deep into Finn’s mouth, the groans and other noises he’s making getting louder with each stroke. It’s so fucking awesome, Finn realizes he’s starting to get hard again while he keeps sucking on Puck’s dick. He reaches out for Puck’s hand with the hand not wrapped around Puck’s dick already, squeezing Puck’s hand.

Puck flips his hand and grabs onto Finn’s, his other hand still pulling on Finn’s hair to bring Finn’s head even farther down, and Puck keeps groaning. “Shit, yeah, shit this is awesome.”

Finn would smile if he could. He sucks and licks Puck’s cock, working his hand along the shaft, and he squeezes Puck’s hand again to let him know it’s okay, he can come whenever he needs to. Puck thrusts into Finn’s mouth only a few more times before he does start to come, yelling Finn’s name as he does. It’s hot and bitter and salty, and Finn swallows, so Puck knows how much he wanted this, running his tongue along Puck’s dick before letting it fall away from his mouth.

“Get up here,” Puck says, his hand still in Finn’s hair. Finn crawls up Puck’s body, collapsing on top of him once his head is level with Puck’s. “Oh, I need to take care of you again?” Puck asks with a laugh, pushing his leg against Finn’s dick as he kisses Finn.

“I liked it,” Finn says, after their kiss ends. “It was hot.”

“Yeah, I know.” Puck moves his leg up and down Finn’s dick. “C’mon, you want me to?”

“Can we make out a little first?” Finn asks, putting his arms around Puck.

“Yeah, we can,” Puck says, then snorts. “Does this make us both company girls?”

Finn laughs loudly, pressing his face to Puck’s neck. “Yeah. I’m not getting one of those cut-off shirts, though.”

Puck laughs too, running his hand back and forth across Finn’s stomach a few times. “Too bad.”

“Yeah, ’cause you’d be the first person to point and laugh,” Finn says.

“First person to rip it off.”

“Jerk! You’d rip my cool cut-off shirt?”

“Make up your damn mind!” Puck says, starting to laugh.

“Maybe I could get one, and just wear it for you,” Finn says. “I could get some of those really tight jeans, too, with the rips, since company girls do it for you.”

“Shithead,” Puck says, punching Finn’s upper arm. “You gonna dance for me?”

“You think Tessie would teach me some moves?”

“I think Tessie’d think you’d been drinking, and then she’d give me a lecture, ’cause she forgets I’m almost sixteen.”

“She’d probably still show me,” Finn says. “You know she would. Tessie likes me.”

“Yeah, yeah, you’re beloved by all the Puckermans.”

“Yeah?” Finn asks, pressing his face against Puck’s neck again. “By all of you?”

“You want to fucking go to Indiana to check with Rusty to make sure or something?” Puck asks.

“Nah. I’m good with the ones in Ohio,” Finn says. He presses his face harder against Puck’s neck, so when he talks again, his speech is all garbled. “Love you, too, you know.”

Puck is silent for a few extra seconds. “I know.”

“Okay,” Finn says softly.

Everything does feel like it’s back to normal for a while, despite Finn insisting that things are different now. They fall back into the same pattern they’ve had for years, just with added blowjobs now, and they don’t talk about Quinn or the pregnancy again for weeks. In fact, Finn actually sets eyes on Quinn, already starting to show a little bit of a round belly, before he and Puck discuss her again.

Puck is acting like he already has a couple of shots in him, walking slowly along one wall. Quinn comes up to him and tries to put her arm around him, looking like she’s whispering something into his ear. Puck sidesteps her, shaking his head, and then taking another step backwards. His hands are up in front of him, and he shakes his head again as he says something to her. Quinn suddenly looks seriously pissed, and she turns and storms off, over to her sister and a group of other dancers from the Landing Strip. Puck rolls his eyes, then turns to walk in the other direction, towards the bar.

Once Finn’s sure Quinn isn’t coming back over, he walks up to the bar, leaning against it next to Puck. “What’d you tell her?” Finn asks.

“That she didn’t mean anything, she’d just been willing and there,” Puck says. “She didn’t like that.”

“Too bad,” Finn says, not sounding like he means it any more than he actually means it.

Puck snorts. “Yeah, I’m crying for her. You drinking yet?”

Finn shakes his head. “Was waiting for you. You want to grab a bottle and go somewhere?”

Puck looks around, at Finn, then back around the room again before nodding. “Yeah. No one’s going to be looking too hard for us.”

“Cool,” Finn says. He reaches over the bar and grabs a bottle without looking. When he pulls it up, it’s Jim Beam, which makes him laugh. “We oughta go down by the river.”

Puck laughs. “Save it, and we’ll go tomorrow. Cut third and fourth.”

“Yeah. Want me to grab something else for tonight, then?” Finn asks.

“Yeah. Try for some vodka.”

Finn feels around until he finds a smooth, round bottle. He lifts it up. “Score!”

“Awesome.” Puck looks around a final time, then turns back to Finn. “Let’s go.”

They walk into the clubhouse in time to see a chair flying across the room, apparently thrown by Burt. Burt has veins standing out in his neck and forehead, his face is red, and he’s shouting at the rest of the club, who are standing around the room with looks on their faces ranging from royally pissed to slightly terrified, which Finn thinks is probably the correct response.

“Who ran their fucking mouth, huh?” Burt shouts. “Who thought the rules didn’t apply to him, and opened his big, stupid fucking mouth, and told somebody about the deal? I swear to Christ I am gonna drag you down Elida tied to the back of my fucking bike, and then I’m gonna have the rest of the club take a piss on your road rash!”

“Wow. Burt’s rocking some language,” Finn whispers to Puck.

“He ain’t wrong,” Puck whispers back.

Burt wheels on Finn and Puck. “And you!” he shouts, pointing two fingers at them. “Where were you?”

“We got separated,” Finn says.

“Followed the railroad tracks out,” Puck says. “Got lucky that it wasn’t a dead-end.”

“Somebody talked, and I want to know who, and I want to know now,” Burt says.

Puck gestures to Rick and Ryder, who are behind the bar, trying to look like they aren’t cowering. “We know who it wasn’t, at least.”

“Everybody but Little Dave got out, right?” Finn asks.

“Yeah, Big Paul was heading over to the station to get him. You know they never keep him long,” Burt says.

“Yeah, ’cause they think he’s got something wrong with him and can’t understand their questions,” Finn says. “That’s why he’s such a good lookout. Nobody ever thinks Little Dave’s as smart as he is.”

“If Los Santos hadn’t been early, we wouldn’t have gotten the deal done before they showed up,” Puck says.

“We’ve definitely got a rat,” Beast says.

“I’m gonna figure this out, and whoever it is, they’re gonna wish their daddy had worn a rubber,” Burt says. “Now everybody get the hell out of here. We’re not celebrating.”

“Grab Kurt,” Puck says under his breath. “Tell him to show up at my place in an hour.”

Finn nods, and he waits for most of the Sons to filter out before snagging Kurt by the arm. “Hey. We need to talk to you about some shit. Meet us over at Puck’s place in an hour?”

“Sure. I can do that,” Kurt says.

“Just you,” Finn says. Kurt nods, and Finn gives him a quick one-armed hug before gently shoving him towards the door. When the club is empty except for Burt, Puck, and Finn, Puck goes behind the bar, grabs a bottle of Jim Beam, and jerks his head towards the back room. Finn nods and follows him back, patting Burt on the shoulder as he passes. “We’ll find ’em.”

“We’d better,” Burt says.

Finn releases Burt’s shoulder and heads to the back room, sitting down on the sofa next to Puck. Puck offers him the open bottle of Jim Beam, and waits for Finn to take a drink before starting to talk.

“If it was ATF tonight, Lauren only mentioned a few names, and two of ’em are ruled out now,” Puck says. “Leaves K-boy and Slick.”

“Could be somebody else. Fed might’ve said some names where Lauren didn’t hear it, or she could’ve been trying throw us off the real rat,” Finn says. “Can’t be Kurtie-boy. He’d never rat.”

Puck frowns, now looking more sad than angry. “I never thought he’d be borrowing money for god knows what, either.”

“That’s not even close to the same thing!” Finn says.

“He’s got secrets, is what I’m saying,” Puck says. “What if ATF offered to pay off whatever debt he racked up?”

“It’s not like that, is what I’m telling you. It’s not like that, and he’d never do it. He wouldn’t ever rat,” Finn insists. “So just stop trying to pin it on him, okay? It’s not Kurtie-boy.”

“So it’s Slick?” Puck says. “There’s no reason they’d pick up Little Dave if it were him. Big Paul didn’t even have all the details. If you say it’s not K-boy as a member and not as his brother, that leaves Slick.”

“Shit,” Finn says, heaving a sigh. “What do we do about him, then? We’ve gotta get some proof, either way, and it’s not like we can just ask Kurt to turn it over.”

“Why not?”

“Well, ’cause nobody wants the prospect he sponsored to turn out to be a rat, right?” Finn says.

“You’re asking me to put a lot of faith in what you’re saying and not ask questions when it comes to K-boy right now,” Puck says levelly. “Are you 100% sure you’re not talking as his brother?”

“I’m talking as both. I know some stuff as his brother that makes me sure as a member that it isn’t him. Sure he’s got secrets. All of us got secrets, Puck,” Finn says. “Just ’cause I know a couple of his, doesn’t mean I have to share ’em with everybody.”

“Difference is, you know all of mine,” Puck says.

“Yeah, and you know mine, but neither of us’d share them with Kurt or anybody else.”

“I don’t like this.” Puck shakes his head. “I don’t know what K-boy’s gotten himself into, or why he didn’t come to us, but it’s not like him.”

“Yeah,” Finn has to begrudgingly agree. “Still, I don’t think interrogating him’s the right approach. If it’s him, sure, he’d probably break and tell us, but if it’s Slick and he figures out we’re asking Kurt questions, he might just split. Maybe we talk to each of them separate, give ’em the same story, that the ATF was naming some names and we think those are people that fed bitch was planning on scooping up and putting pressure on.”

“Tell ’em they’re watching each other’s backs, not to tell each other, and get the information under the idea we’re just keeping ’em safe?” Puck says, nodding a little. “Yeah. It’s a good start.” He takes another swig of the Jim Beam. “Do you need to talk to K-boy without me there?”

“I think it’ll be fine for the both of us,” Finn says. “We should probably get over to your place soon, though.”

“Yeah.” Puck stands and screws the cap on the Jim Beam. “Guess I probably should turn some of the porn cases over before he gets there, too.”

“I don’t think he’s gonna judge your porn.”

“Some of it’s just a little fucking gay,” Puck stage-whispers.

Finn laughs. “I just don’t think he’d notice the porn cases, but do what you gotta do.”

They ride over to Puck’s place, beating Kurt there by about ten minutes, which gives Puck enough time to shuffle his porn around. “You should watch this one,” Puck says, holding up one of the DVD cases. “Stagecoach robbery.”

“Probably not gonna happen right now, though. Pretty sure you don’t want Kurtie-boy showing up in the middle of stagecoach porn,” Finn says.

“Poor Sheriff Wyatt Woody,” Puck says, flipping the case over on top of one pile as there’s a knock at the door. Finn opens the door, and Kurt walks in.

“You’ll get used to the smell,” Finn says to Kurt.

“Oh. Okay,” Kurt says. “So what’s going on?”

“We gotta tell you a couple of things. About the ATF bitch,” Puck says. “Have a seat. Sofa does not smell like mold or piss.”

Kurt sits, and Finn sits down next to him. “So, we need you to do something for us, keep your eyes open so you can watch somebody’s back.”

Kurt nods slowly. “Okay. Who?”

“Lauren—Luch—said the fed mentioned a few names, members she was going to put some pressure on. That’s why we kept tonight’s deal from the prospects,” Puck says. “We don’t know who the rat is, but we don’t want anyone the fed mentioned to get pressured because of the rat. Fed asked Pinky about Slick, though.”

“Slick’s not the rat,” Kurt says quickly.

“We’re not saying he is,” Finn says. “We’re saying we don’t want him in a situation where the fed can get him alone, maybe use some information not everybody has access to to try to put pressure on him to talk. We thought you could help us out with that. He works at the custom bike shop with you, and the two of you pal around a lot, right?” He pointedly doesn’t look too hard at Kurt when he describes it that way.

Kurt nods. “So you want me to spy on him?”

“No, protect him,” Puck says, shaking his head. “You’ve got both of us watching your back, always have. But Slick doesn’t have that. Just keep an eye on him, make sure he’s not having to go off alone a lot where the fed could approach him.”

“It’s the same thing we’d do for any brother,” Finn says.

“Okay,” Kurt says. “If I see the fed, or if Slick says anything about seeing her, I’ll talk to you first.”

“Exactly. We just want to make sure everybody’s got a pair of eyes on ’em, so that fed can’t snatch ’em up,” Finn says.

“If he’s out of contact for too long, let us know. She could pick him up and hold him for twenty-four hours, so we’d want to send Perkins down right away,” Puck adds. “Feds play dirty.”

“Yeah, they do,” Finn agrees. “Gotta keep the MC safe.”

“Okay,” Kurt says again. “I can do that.”

“Good. Not everybody’s got a badass big brother like me to watch out for ’em,” Finn says, ruffling Kurt’s hair. Kurt smacks Finn’s hand, but he laughs.

“Want a beer?” Puck offers, standing up. “We were gonna put on some porn. Just got a new one in the mail a couple of days ago. Fat Ass series.”

“No, no, I’m fine. I’ve got some things I need to do,” Kurt says.

“Your loss,” Puck says, getting two beers out of the fridge and opening them before handing one to Finn.

“We’ll see you later, Kurtie-boy,” Finn says. “Just keep what we said in mind, okay?”

“Okay,” Kurt says. Puck unlocks the door and holds it open for Kurt to leave, thumping him twice on the back before shutting the door behind him and locking it again.

Puck sits down on the sofa next to Finn. “We’re getting a little heavy on the ‘we’,” Puck says, sounding more amused than upset.

“Yeah, well,” Finn says, shrugging.

“You staying here tonight?”

“I want to, but I need to go back to the house,” Finn says. “If shit’s really about to hit the fan, it’s probably better for Rachel to go back to New York sooner than later. She was never a part of any of this, anyway.”

Puck nods. “Yeah. Seems like she’ll be happier that way.”

“Yeah, if I’d been thinking clearly, I never would’ve brought her back to Lima with me. This isn’t her kind of life, and she’s never been happy about it.” Finn sighs and looks over at the door. “Alright. I’m gonna head out. See you tomorrow?”

“Bright and early.”

Going to school feels like they’re playing at being kids, when they’ve been adults in the eyes of the MC from the first day they got their motorcycle licenses. Sometimes Finn’s sure that the only reason Puck hasn’t dropped out is that Finn’s still going, and the reason Finn’s still going, still making an actual effort even, is Christopher’s money and the way Carole cries about it. Kurt, though – Kurt actually seems to enjoy school, but he’s always been the one who actually thought things through, even when he was tiny.

Kurt enjoys school even though there’s a group of kids from the hockey team that bother him constantly. Nobody ever fucked with Finn or Puck, or even Little Dave, because they look like they’re in the MC, but tough as Kurt actually is, he looks like a soft, small kid who can’t defend himself. He doesn’t take Puck’s tactic of finding the biggest guy in his grade on the first day of school and beating the shit out of him, and he can’t rely on sheer size like Finn and Little Dave can, so he keeps his head down and goes about his business, mostly.

Which is why Finn is surprised when, between third and fourth period, he hears that Kurt Hummel is in a fistfight with the hockey player that Puck calls Shitstick.

“Shitstick jumped him?” Finn asks Chang.

“I think Kurt did,” Chang says, “but now it’s like three of the hockey guys against Kurt.”

“Okay. Fuck. Snag Puck, send him down there,” Finn says, turning to sprint in the direction of the fight.

When he gets there, it’s obviously that Kurt’s gotten several good hits in, because Shitstick and one of his buddies have cuts on their face, but Kurt’s also clearly outmatched with the third guy from the hockey team in the mix now. Finn doesn’t try to break up the fight; he just flings himself into it, punching and kicking the big guy who’s got Kurt on the ground.

“Stay the fuck off my brother!” Finn shouts at the guy, bloodying the guy’s nose and his own knuckles as he repeatedly bashes the dude in the face.

The rest of the hockey team seems to take Finn’s involvement as the cue to jump in, because suddenly the five-man-fight turns into a ten-man-brawl, with fists and feet flying everywhere. It’s bloody and loud and involves as much bodyslamming onto the floor and into lockers as it does punching, without the finesse and coordination of the fights the MC’s been in. Finn has somebody’s neck in one hand, the dude against a locker, another dude’s head in his hand, slamming that guy’s face into Finn’s raised knee, when Puck finally shows up.

“Little help here, brother?” Finn shouts at Puck.

“Just waiting to get asked!” Puck yells back, grabbing one of the hockey players and throwing him away from most of the fight and into some lockers. Finn grins at Puck and tosses the guy whose face he was smashing in Puck’s direction. Puck slams that guy into a locker twice and then tosses him towards the first one he threw, and the two hockey players end up half on top of each other.

Finn looks through the mass of flailing limbs for Kurt, and sees that a hockey player has one arm around Kurt’s waist, trying to pull Kurt off the hockey player on the floor, which Kurt is violently boot-stomping. Kurt’s nose is bleeding and he looks like he has two black eyes, but he’s still upright and still pissed. Finn drops the neck he was holding, letting that guy slump to the the floor, and shoves his way through the fray to pluck the hockey player off Kurt.

“You okay?” Finn asks Kurt.

“I’m gonna be late for English!” Kurt says, stomping the guy under his foot again.

“We’ll try to wrap this up!” Finn says, spinning to punch the guy behind him.

“Break it up! Break it up!” The school resource officer suddenly wades into the fight, which more or less stops as he steps into the middle of it, except for Puck, who walks over to Shitstick and deliberately punches him while smiling.

“There,” Puck says.

“I said break it up,” the resource officer says, pointing at Puck. “You! Front office now. The rest of you need to take a step back so I can figure out who started this.”

“It was me,” Finn says, glaring at Kurt when he tries to argue. Kurt shuts up fast.

“Fuck that! It was Hummel!” Shitstick says. “He came up and hit me for no fucking reason!”

“Yeah, ’cause the kid who’s five-foot-six is gonna pick a fight with the whole hockey team,” Finn says. “It was me. I started it because I can’t stand the look on Shitstick’s face.”

“Nobody can,” Puck says. “Finn started it and I jumped in with him.”

“Yeah. Kurtie-boy wasn’t even involved until some dick shoved him into the fight!” Finn insists.

“Fine. You two can both go to the office,” the resource officer says. “The rest of you involved can come with me. The rest of you go to class.”

The crowd starts to disperse, but Kurt stays behind. “Go to class,” Finn whispers to him.

“I was in the fight,” Kurt whispers back.

“Dammit, Kurtie-boy, get your ass to your class before I kick it,” Finn hisses. “And stop hitting people at school. Were you raised in a fucking barn?”

Kurt smiles, a little painful-looking due to the blood and the bruises. “Maybe.”

“Go already,” Puck says to Kurt, jerking his head towards a side hall. “If you wanna hit people, we can figure something out after school.”

Kurt nods, wincing as he nods, and turns to hurry off towards his class. When the resource officer turns back around, he doesn’t even seem to notice Kurt’s left, which is how Finn wants it. The officer makes a shooing motion at Finn and Puck, pointing in the direction of the front office, so Finn shrugs and starts walking that way.

“That was more fun than I planned on having today,” Finn says to Puck.

“Any day I get to hit Shitstick is a good day,” Puck agrees. “What do you think? It’s early in the year, we might only get a day or two.”

“Yeah. I hope so, or my mom’ll flip. I don’t know what Kurtie-boy was thinking.”

“Who knows. Anyway, at least he finally went to class. He’s still not a great liar sometimes,” Puck says.

“Yeah,” Finn says.

They go into the front office and inform the clerk of why they’re there, in case she can’t guess from the blood on their clothes and faces, and she goes ahead and starts calling their parents. She doesn’t bother to tell them which one she reaches, but Finn isn’t surprised when it’s Tessie that comes walking through the door, dressed in a skin-tight hot pink dress, a white fur vest, and 4-inch pink stilettos.

“Sorry you got called away from work, Mom,” Puck says immediately, sounding very contrite.

“Oh, boys,” Tessie says, pursing her very-pink-lipsticked lips. “Have the two of you been bad?”

“We were naughty,” Puck says, nodding.

“We’re real sorry, ma’am,” Finn adds.

Tessie sighs. “What am I going to do with you two?” She turns to the clerk. “So, can I take them home now, or do I have to wait for their sentencing?”

“Mom, it’s not court!”

“The principal and Officer Ryerson will need to speak with you first,” the clerk says. She looks down at her desk the whole time she’s talking to Tessie, like she’s afraid to make eye contact.

“Can we do that now? I’ve got a shift starting in thirty minutes,” Tessie says.

The clerk makes a quick call back to the principal’s office, then tells Tessie, “You can go in now, ma’am.”

As soon as Tessie is in the principal’s office, Puck whispers “We could just leave now. What’re they going to do, suspend us more?”

“We should probably wait for Tessie, though. I bet she’d let us follow her to the Strip so we can eat off the buffet,” Finn says.

“Fighting makes me hungry,” Puck says. “And horny.”

“Yeah. Maybe buffet first, your place after?”

Puck nods. “Thank you, Tessie’s shift.”

Only around twenty minutes pass before the principal’s door opens and Tessie comes out. Her lipstick is slightly smudged. “Okay, boys. We can go.”

“How long until we have to come back?” Puck asks.

“After a little discussion, your principal agreed that two days was probably enough, what with there being only two of you and all those hockey boys,” Tessie says.

“Yeah, jock culture is so horrible,” Puck says earnestly.

“Hey Tessie?” Finn asks. “Can we follow you out to the Strip for some crab legs? You know they’re my favorite.”

“Sure you can,” Tessie says, smiling brightly at the clerk as the boys stands and start to follow her out of the front office, towards the parking lot. “Should I call Mama Carole and explain, or did you want to do that?”

“I think it’s probably better if it comes from you,” Finn says.

“Yeah, she’ll be more understanding about the hockey players that way,” Puck agrees.

“Alrighty then! I’ll see you boys over at the Landing Strip!” Tessie says. She gets into her Cadillac and drives off as the boys walk to their bikes.

“I’m proud of Kurtie-boy, though,” Finn says to Puck. “I didn’t know he had it in him to start a fight with Shitstick.”

“Yeah. Now we just gotta teach him to wait for after the final bell, and to wait for you to get there.”

The automotive shop is always slammed on Saturdays, so Finn doesn’t get a chance to talk to Puck until around 11, when they both slip out behind the clubhouse to grab a smoke break. Puck looks around a little and takes a few drags off his cigarette in silence.

“I talked to Slick. Used my best acting skills,” Puck says. “He very earnestly assured me he has K-boy’s back.”

Finn nods. “That’s good. He doesn’t know we suspect it could be him?”

“I don’t think so. We talked about the ATF tail on Little Dave and how we all knew he wasn’t the rat anyway.” Puck shrugs. “He says all the right things. Everybody does, though.”

“He say Kurt had done anything suspicious?”

“No, just that he wished we’d had a chance to talk before lunch yesterday instead of after, because he wouldn’t have volunteered to go pick up their lunch from Ruby Tuesday,” Puck says, shaking his head a little. “Said he would have insisted they go eat at the restaurant.”

“So he’s saying the two of them weren’t together for a while yesterday?” Finn asks.

Puck nods. “Yeah. Didn’t really say how long it took him, either. Implication was of course he was fine.” Puck takes a long drag from his cigarette. “K-boy tell you anything yet?”

Finn shakes his head. “We haven’t had a chance to catch up today. I’ve been under that Jag since we opened, and as far as I know, he’s been over at the bike shop.”

“Okay. I’ll keep poking around, see what I hear people saying.” Puck pauses and lights a new cigarette. “You talked to Rachel?”

“Yeah. She took it really well. Agreed that she hadn’t ever liked it here, and that she wasn’t up to the ‘biker lifestyle’, as she called it,” Finn says. “She’s packing whatever she wants from the house today, and I’ll have it shipped out to her. Her flight back is tonight.”

“Selling the house?”

“Probably.”

“Need a place to crash?” Puck asks with a grin.

“Once I get it on the market, for sure, but you know I don’t crash with you because I need to,” Finn says. “It’s ’cause I want to.”

“There’s some kind of philosophical question in there, but yeah. I know.” Puck puts out his second cigarette. “Still fun to ask.”

“Yeah.”

Puck pulls him into a one-armed hug. “Back to work, shithead.”

Everybody else is filing out of the room after church, but Big Paul holds up a hand to stop Finn from leaving. “Can we talk for a minute, son?” Big Paul asks.

“Sure, Big Paul,” Finn says. He waits until everyone else is out, closing the door behind them. “What can I do for you?”

Big Paul pulls out an envelope from under his cut and holds it in front of him for a moment, studying the worn edges. “Your father left this with me to give to you,” he says finally. “I know you aren’t eighteen yet, but you’re Veep now, and I think it’s a good time to give it to you.”

Finn slowly reaches for the envelope. “He left it with you?”

“Yes,” Big Paul says, moving his hand closer to Finn’s.

“When?” Finn asks. His fingers close on the envelope, but he doesn’t pull it out of Big Paul’s hand.

“Just before he left for Cincy.”

Finn frowns, his brows drawing together as he look at the envelope. “Why would he leave you something for me before Cincy?” he asks. “He was gonna come back.”

“I hope that whatever is in that envelope can explain that, too,” Big Paul says.

Finn finally takes the envelope, immediately shoving it in the back pocket of his jeans. “Well… well, thanks, I guess.”

“You’re welcome, son. If you have any questions—well, I can’t promise I can answer them, but you can try me.”

Finn nods, manages another “thanks” before pushing open the doors and walking quickly away from Big Paul. He walks out of the clubhouse, jumping on his bike and riding off in the direction of the Ottawa. He doesn’t take the envelope out until he’s sitting at their spot along the banks, by the burned-out dip where they build their fires. He takes the letter out of his back pocket then and reads it.

Dear Finn,

By the time you read this, I’ll have been gone for a long time. You’re a grown man now, hopefully one with big dreams. You’ll be going off to college soon. You probably don’t remember me. Trust me when I say that’s a good thing.

Your mom and I were young when we had you. We didn’t have much time together. It never got to be about the two of us. It was always the MC. The club comes first. Sometimes I think your mom handled that better than I did. I don’t think being a Son and being a father really go that well together. There’s always somewhere else I have to be. There’s alway another risk I have to take for the good of the club, more blood to spill for blood. I tried for too long to tell myself that what benefits the club benefits you and your mom, too, but I know now that’s a lie.

I wasn’t there when you were born. Did your mom tell you that story? I was picked up by the Allen County Sheriff’s Department. By the time they let me go, you were already in this world, and you and your mom were doing just fine without me. If I had been a smarter or better man, I would have walked away then, but instead I brought your mom a bottle of champagne and told her I was held up on club business. I was. Men died while you were being born.

I’ve been in fights, too many to count. I’ve killed. I’ve issued beatings so brutal that death might have been kinder. I dream about it at night, the dull hollow sound of a crowbar on a skull, the smell a bullet makes when it tunnels through flesh, the surprising heat of blood when skin splits under my knuckles, and instead of myself, I see you there, and I know that could come to pass for you as easily as it did for me. If I bring you up in this, that’s the life I’m making for you, but I can’t just walk away. I don’t know how to do that. I’ve been at this life too long to walk away and make something honest. I can barely keep up with the shop because my hands are too wet with blood. There are things I have done for this club that I can’t even put a pen to.

That’s why I’m leaving like this, Finn. Without me there to tie her to the club, your mom can take you and go. She can go back to Indiana with her people and you’ll never sit on a bike, you’ll never take up a weapon. You’ll use the money I saved for you to go to college. I made sure your mom would get it when I was gone. Maybe you can be a doctor or a teacher. You can find someone you love and not worry about what this life does to them. You won’t have to see them be afraid, or see that point when the fear finally leaves them and all the violence and the lies become normal. I don’t want you to harden your heart or theirs. I never want that kind of violence for you or the one you love. I don’t want blood on your hands, like it is on mine.

I’m doing this for you, but it’s not your fault. You gave me the vision to see a way out, the only way left for somebody like me. I want better for you than blood and lies. I want better for you than this brotherhood. What I want for you is only this: freedom. Don’t let this life be the anchor that sinks you. Let this bullet set you free. Be free, Finn.

All my love,
Your father Christopher “Kit” Hudson

Finn wipes his face, not realizing until his hand comes away wet that he’s crying. Blood and lies, Christopher had said, and now Finn knows about the biggest lie of all.

He stands up, shoving the letter in his pocket, goes to his bike, and races home, driving too fast and too recklessly. He’s barely parked before he’s off the bike, running to the house. He calls for Carole, looking in the kitchen, back in her bedroom, before remembering she was at the shop when he left the clubhouse. Finn runs from the house to the shop’s front office, flinging the door open so it bangs against the wall. Carole, seated at the desk, startles.

“Finn!” Carole says after gasping. “Who’s hurt?”

“You told me he OD’d!” Finn shouts at her. “You told me he was a junkie!”

Carole doesn’t respond for a few seconds. “And why are you accusing me of lying now?” she asks, standing up. “Shut the door.”

Finn doesn’t shut the door. “Did he even use at all? Did you make that part up, too?”

“You don’t know what you’re talking about.” Carole walks past Finn and shuts the door herself. “Keep your voice down.”

“He shot himself, didn’t he?” Finn demands. “He killed himself. It wasn’t an accident.”

“And where did you come up with that idea?” Carole says almost coldly.

“He told me himself. He wrote me a letter. I read it in his own handwriting,” Finn says.

“Give me the letter,” Carole says, hand outstretched.

“No. It’s mine,” Finn says. “Tell me why you lied to me. Tell me why you lied to me about my dad.”

“Who gave it to you?” Carole asks. “I know Burt wouldn’t do anything that foolish.”

“I’m not telling you. Just tell me why. Please, Mom, explain to me why you’d do that. Why would you do that?” Finn’s crying again, too angry to be embarrassed about it.

Carole is silent for about thirty seconds. “We told you and the club what was best for the club and everyone involved.”

“But why? Why? Dad wanted you to leave. He wanted us both to leave. Why did you stay? Why did you care what the club thought? You could’ve left.”

“Your father was a coward,” Carole says. “He wasn’t in his right mind.”

“No, you’re just a liar,” Finn says. “Why would I believe anything you said?”

“Don’t you talk to me that way!”

“Fuck you!” Finn screams. Carole presses her lips together in a thin line and steps forward, slapping Finn across the face. Finn reels back from the blow, blinking back his tears.

“Keep your mouth shut,” Carole says coldly.

Finn stares at Carole with his face wet and his teeth clenched, breathing heavily for a few second, before he finally says, “He was right about you.”

Before Carole can say anything else, Finn pulls the door open again and runs out. He runs to his bike, then he rides to Puck’s as fast as he can, blowing through red lights and weaving between cars. When he gets there and parks, he runs up to Puck’s door, pounding on it and hoping like hell that Tessie is at work or slept over with somebody.

Puck is already talking through the door as he turns the locks. “You okay?” he says, then swings the door open and shakes his head. “Not so much.”

“No. I don’t know,” Finn says. “Can I crash here?”

“Duh.” Puck holds the door open wider. “Tessie’s got the late shift.”

“Okay. Thanks.” Finn walks into Puck’s house, standing awkwardly in the living room while Puck locks the door again.

“My room?” Puck says. “Or kitchen?”

“Your room,” Finn says. He feels like it’s more work than he can muster to keep standing. He just wants to sit, lie down maybe, and for everything to go away. Puck throws his arm over Finn’s shoulders and steers him down the hall, keeping his arm in place while he closes the door to his room and locks it, too.

“I just saw you, what, two hours ago?” Puck says, now guiding Finn towards the edge of the bed. “What the fuck happened?”

“I can’t, I can’t,” Finn says, shaking his head rapidly. He paws at his face with one hand, trying to wipe it.

“Stop,” Puck says, pulling Finn’s hand down and shoving a handkerchief in it before releasing it. “There. Yeah, you can. You’re not bleeding or anything, so it’s not that. Right?”

Finn scrubs at his face with the handkerchief. “It’s my dad,” he says.

“Your dad,” Puck says slowly. “Something about Christopher?”

Finn nods and croaks out a “Yeah” before he really starts crying, hard shaking sobs.

Puck grabs Finn by the shoulders again and pulls him into a hug, pressing Finn’s face against his shoulder. “Okay. Okay,” Puck says, his voice softer. “Let it out, then you’re going to tell me.”

Finn barely shakes his head against Puck’s shoulder, letting himself cry like he’s wanted to for the last hour or so. Puck is quiet for a couple of minutes, then starts muttering softly, too quiet to understand, and he keeps patting Finn’s shoulder a few times now and then. Finn cries for a good long while before finally his sobs start to taper off, until he’s just sniffling and rubbing his face against Puck’s shoulder.

“Talk to me,” Puck says, his voice still quiet. “Tell me what about your dad made you upset.”

“He didn’t— he didn’t OD,” Finn says, turning his head so his lips are against Puck’s neck. “My mom lied. That’s not what happened.”

“Oh, shit,” Puck whispers. “Oh, shit, Finn.” He pats Finn’s shoulder again. “You want to tell me what really happened?”

Finn shakes his head. “It’s bad. It’s bad, Puck.”

“Okay. You don’t have to. It’s okay.”

“She told me he was a junkie. She let me think that. She let me think that.”

“I’m sorry,” Puck says. “I’m sorry.”

“It wasn’t an accident,” Finn says quietly against Puck’s neck. “It wasn’t drugs.”

“Okay.” Puck nods slowly. “Okay.” He stops nodding, his body going almost stiff. “Uh, I hate to ask this, but… did someone we know kill him?”

Finn shakes his head. “No. I mean, yeah, but not— he did it. He did it to himself.”

“Oh, shit,” Puck says. “Aww, shit, I’m sorry.”

“Mom and Burt knew. They lied. Mom said my dad was a coward,” Finn says.

“I’m sorry,” Puck says again, rubbing Finn’s shoulder. “Shit, Finn.”

“Yeah,” Finn says.

Puck’s hand keeps moving on Finn’s shoulder, pulling Finn a little closer. “I love you.”

“I wish we could run away,” Finn says. “I wish we could just go.”

“You know we can’t talk like that,” Puck says softly.

“I just want us to be free.”

“I know.” Puck’s hand goes still, and both arms tighten around Finn. “I know. You’re my shithead.”

“Yeah,” Finn agrees. “Yours and nobody else’s.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Puck walks past the car Finn’s working on and leans over next to him for a moment. “Come over as soon as your shift’s over.” Finn nods, and Puck straightens up without saying anything else, continuing towards the back of the shop.

Finn works until the shop closes at six, cleans up after himself, then heads over to Puck’s. The door’s unlocked, so Finn lets himself. Puck is on the sofa, a pizza box in front of him on the coffee table.

“Dinner?” Finn asks, kicking off his boots and hanging his cut on the coat tree by the door.

Puck lifts one hand, holding a bottle. “And beer. Lock the door?”

Finn nods, locking the door behind him. “Meat party?”

“You bet,” Puck says with a wide grin.

Finn sits down next to Puck and grabs a slice from the box. “How’s everything going?”

I’m good.” Puck drinks almost half of his beer in one gulp. “I think I know what you couldn’t tell me. About K-boy.”

Finn almost chokes on his bite of pizza. “Yeah?”

“Last night and night before last, I rode home and then walked back over. Decided to see what Slick was up to, since I didn’t see his bike at the club. The ‘closed’ sign was out at K-boy’s shop, but the door was unlocked, so I slipped inside.” Puck shrugs. “Unless you know something else beside K-boy and Slick making out and grabbing each other’s ass, in which case I think K-boy’s really in over his head.”

Finn shakes his head. “No, that’s it. You understand, right? Why I couldn’t tell you?”

“Yeah, I get it,” Puck says with a nod. “The money was for Slick?”

Finn shakes his head again. “Yeah,” he says, sighing. “Yeah, it was.”

“Shit.” Puck drinks most of the rest of his beer. “What’re we going to do for K-boy?” he asks sadly. “The odds are really good Slick’s the rat.”

“Yeah. Shit,” Finn agrees. “Maybe it’s not him. Could be he’s shifty because of the thing with Kurtie-boy. Hell, maybe that’s what the money was about. Maybe somebody’s blackmailing him or something.”

“No one in the club would blackmail him, they’d either tell everyone or not,” Puck says. He sets his beer down and throws that arm over Finn’s shoulders. “I’m gonna ask you something, and I just want a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’. I won’t ask for an explanation, but I need to know. Okay?”

“Okay.”

“When the warehouse went up on Slick’s deal, did you see anything shifty on Slick’s part?” Puck asks slowly.

Finn sighs and leans against Puck. “Yeah.”

“Okay.” Puck sighs, too. “I wish we could have kept K-boy clear of this shit.”

“Yeah. I tried, Puck. I really tried,” Finn says. “Thought if I helped him out with the money, whatever Slick had hanging over him would go away, and that would keep Kurt out of trouble.”

“I must’ve missed something, back when K-boy first brought Slick around. Shit. We still have to find some proof about Slick. Either that he is or he isn’t.”

“Yeah. Fuck, I hate this. This shit’s hard enough as it is,” Finn says.

“Yeah.” Puck lifts his hand from Finn’s shoulder, nudging him to turn his head toward Puck, and Puck kisses him hard. “We’re going to need to look at every deal Slick’s known about, especially any he helped set up.”

Finn nods, then rests his forehead against Puck’s. “Yeah. The deal at the warehouse, it wasn’t with the Folk. It was AB. Maybe we need to start there.”

“AB?” Puck makes a face. “What would Slick want with those fucking neo-Nazis?”

“I think he’d been buying from them. Not sure what.”

“Buying…? Oh.” Puck exhales heavily. “Fuck. Kurtie-boy’s all mixed up in the wrong shit.”

“I don’t think he knew that deal was gonna go down like that either. He wouldn’t have put anybody from the MC in danger on purpose. He wouldn’t have had me walk into it if he knew it would go bad.”

“People do stupid shit for love. I just hate to see him be one of ’em, you know? We always took care of him,” Puck says.

“Not good enough, I guess,” Finn says. “Shit. I never should’ve left, Puck. If I’d stayed, I could’ve kept him out of trouble. This is my fault.”

“What were you going to notice I didn’t? If it’s your fault, it’s mine, too. I was here and didn’t see it,” Puck says.

“Yeah, but we always worked stuff out faster when it was the two of us together.”

“And it still took us too damn long.” Puck shifts even closer to Finn. “Too long to put all the pieces together. What do we do now? Prove it’s Slick at the same time we prove K-boy didn’t know a damn thing?”

“We have to. If it’s Slick, we can’t let Kurtie-boy take the fall for him or with him,” Finn says.

Puck is quiet for a long time, picking up a piece of pizza and eating a couple of bites. “What if K-boy wants to take the fall with him?” he asks quietly.

“We can’t let that happen.”

“I’m saying, though… he could want to. It’s not impossible.”

Finn is quiet for a minute before he nods. “Yeah. Sometimes we let stuff happen to protect someone else, you know?”

“I know.” Puck tightens his arm around Finn’s shoulders. “We won’t let it happen to K-boy.”

“Okay. Thanks, Puck. You did a good job watching his back while I was gone. I wouldn’t have seen it, either,” Finn says.

“Always figured we were the only ones,” Puck says, his lips next to Finn’s ear. “What’re the odds?”

“Yeah. Wish we’d known then,” Finn says.

Puck nods, then kisses Finn just in front of his ear. “Love you, shithead.”

“Love you, too, asshole.”

Finn is an angry, seething 18, watching Puck and the company girl straddling him on the other side of the clubhouse. He would put his fist through the wall if it wouldn’t lead to too many questions, and if it weren’t the MC's house, full of Sons who would as soon put somebody through a wall as let their clubhouse be disrespected. The air is full of smoke and the stink of beer, hard liquor, and the cheap perfume Tessie and the other dancers from the Landing Strip wear. Finn feels like he’s choking on it, like the smell is curling up his nose and down his throat to strangle him. This is everything he’s ever known, but he knows that if it weren’t for Puck, he’d probably have run away from it months ago, when he got Christopher’s letter and found out about the lies Burt and Carole had told him.

Puck lets the company girl kiss him a few times, then gestures for her to get up. As she unstraddles him, he slaps her ass, making her jump. After she walks a few feet away, Puck climbs to his feet and stands there looking at her while Little Dave says something to him. Puck laughs at whatever it is and shakes his head, then says something back to Little Dave before walking toward Finn.

Finn turns away from Puck, propping his elbows on the bar, his hand curled around his drink. “Any vodka?” Puck says, leaning on the bar next to Finn. Finn shrugs. “Fucker, don’t tell me you’re— shit, Finn.”

“What?” Finn says. “I’m what?”

Puck looks around them, then hisses in Finn’s ear. “Fucking jealous of that bitch.”

Finn shrugs again. “Yeah. Doesn’t mean anything. Appearances. Got it.” He tosses back his drink, setting the glass down a little too hard.

“What do you want me to do?” Puck demands. “Kiss you right there, get us both thrown outside right now?”

“And what if I did, huh? What if that’s what I wanted?”

“That’s what you want to do to your mom? My mom? Give up the club completely, be homeless, be hated?” Puck says. “Shit, Finn. We’re not in one of those movies Tessie watches.”

“What if I didn’t give a shit about that?” Finn asks. “What if I’d be willing to give it all up, if it meant I didn’t have to watch you with some company girl from the Landing Strip rubbing herself all over you, and act like I don’t give a shit, like I don’t wish it was me who got to sit in your lap in front of everybody?”

Finn. You know we can’t. You know you wouldn’t.”

“I would!” Finn insists.

“You might when you’re four shots in, but you’d regret it the next morning,” Puck says, reaching over the bar and pulling up a bottle. He takes a long drink, then puts the bottle down. “Come on. Let’s get out of here.”

“Time to sneak a blowjob, huh?” Finn asks.

Puck rolls his eyes. “My mouth’s not good enough for you now?”

“Your mouth’s great. The sneaking’s shit.”

“You don’t actually want to get a blowjob with an audience, do you?” Puck asks. “For fuck’s sake. We can walk out brazenly. How’s that?”

“Yeah. It’s fucking great,” Finn says. He stands, putting his drink down on the bar. “Are we going or what?”

“We’re fucking going,” Puck says, but he takes another drink from the bottle before leaving it on the bar. Finn starts walking towards the exit. He nods at Kurt on the way out; Kurt and his tall, too-pretty new friend he met at the shop up in Westerville that’ll customize bikes are tucked away in a corner near the front of the club. “Other door,” Puck says from behind him.

“Huh?”

“Unless you wanted to fuck under Schuester’s recalled Pinto, ’cause you’re walking towards the shop,” Puck says.

“Is that what we’re doing?” Finn asks.

“Isn’t that what you want? Fucking me? Fucking you?”

“You’re not worried we’ll be gone too long, and somebody’ll start asking questions?” Finn asks, more bitterly than he really intended.

“Would you stop acting like I like it this way?” Puck says, shoving Finn towards the door he apparently wants them to use.

“It’s not how I fucking like it,” Finn says. “I’m not the one with company girls grinding all over him.”

“Yeah, ’cause you’re apparently the fucking scholar, our future leader,” Puck says, and now he sounds as bitter as Finn. “I don’t have an out like that.”

“You could come with me. We could go together,” Finn says.

“Go where?” Puck asks blankly, reaching past Finn to yank the door open.

“Away. Away from here, is what I mean,” Finn says. “Anywhere.”

“Yeah, sure, someday,” Puck says. He grabs Finn’s neck and steers them behind the club, then keeps walking towards the conversion van that’s been parked in the lot for the past week while they wait on a part.

“Tonight,” Finn says. “Or tomorrow. We can just get on the bikes and go.” Puck doesn’t know about the acceptance letter from New York City College of Technology. He doesn’t know that Kurt helped Finn fill out applications and write essays, or that Finn’s already written back and said yes, he’ll be starting in the fall, or that Carole and Burt know about it but have been asked not to say anything. He doesn’t know about the letter from Christopher. Finn keeps holding out hope he’ll be able to make things between him and Puck different, but it hasn’t worked, which just goes to show how right Christopher was.

“Tonight we’re going in here,” Puck says, opening the back door of the van and crawling inside.

“Are we stealing the shitty conversion van?” Finn asks. “If so, I should go back for the vodka.”

Puck laughs. “No, we’re just going to fuck in it.” He reaches up under the front seat and pulls out a full bottle of Jim Beam. “See?”

“Just like old times, huh?” Finn says.

“Not just like old times,” Puck says. He unscrews the lid and takes a swig, passing the bottle to Finn before reaching under the front seat again. “See?”

This time, Finn does start to laugh a little, since what Puck pulled out from under the seat is a big bottle of lube. “Yeah, that’s not exactly like old times,” Finn agrees.

“Little more naked, too.” Puck pulls off his shirt and tosses it into the front seat. “I was making sure we had plenty of time tonight, shithead.”

“We could’ve gone back to your place and had hours,” Finn says.

“Takes too long to get there.”

“We could go ahead and leave tonight, get a motel somewhere,” Finn says.

“If you don’t want to fuck, just tell me.”

“I do,” Finn says. “I swear to god, I do, so fucking much. I’m just thinking about after, and tomorrow and shit like that, acting like we didn’t fuck in this stupid van tonight.”

“Yeah? How would you act if we did act like we fucked tonight?” Puck asks, reaching for the bottom of Finn’s shirt.

“I’d stay the whole fucking night with you for starters,” Finn says. He holds up his arms as Puck draws his shirt up. “And I’d kiss you at the fucking bar if one of those skanky company girls came near you.”

“Yeah?” Puck throws Finn’s t-shirt to the side. “That all?”

Finn shakes his head, tugging up on Puck’s shirt. “Nah. I’d do all kinds of stupid shit, too. I’d hold your hand. Put my chin on your shoulder while you’re working on your bike, so you feel a little less pissed off about that stupid lugnut that always sticks.”

“It is stupid,” Puck agrees. “Would that make us both old ladies?”

“Maybe. I’d be the old lady if one of us had to be.” Finn sighs, tossing Puck’s shirt to the side. He runs both hands down Puck’s chest. “I wouldn’t look around the club first, to make sure nobody’s looking before I touch you or lean in too close.”

“I still wouldn’t get naked in front of ’em.”

“Would you kiss me in front of ’em?” Finn asks.

“Yeah. Sit on top of you,” Puck says.

“Like this?” Finn asks, sitting down on the folded-out seat and pulling Puck close enough to straddle Finn’s legs, then putting his hands on Puck’s hips to pull him down onto Finn’s lap.

“Yeah, like this.” Puck nods and shifts a little. “You gonna run the meetings like this?”

“Why not? You know how many times Burt’s made decisions with Mom sitting on him?” Finn asks. “Like, a lot. Only time that ain’t cool is Church.”

“So now I’d be the old lady, huh?” Puck says. He lifts his hips a little and drops them back down, pressing against Finn’s dick.

“You’re the one in my lap right now, but we can take turns if you want,” Finn says. He leans forward to kiss Puck’s chest. “Just come with me. We can come back. Let’s just get away for a little while.”

“Pack a picnic?” Puck says. “We’d starve after the first day.” He pulls Finn’s head up and kisses him. “You gonna fuck me or not?”

“Yeah,” Finn says. He scoots back on the seat, which is already folded out into a bed, rolling to the side to put Puck down on his back next to Finn. His hands go straight to Puck’s jeans, undoing the button and zipper before yanking them down.

“Yeah, okay, yeah,” Puck says, kicking them off the rest of the way. Finn leans down to kiss Puck’s chest again, moving his lips across Puck’s left collarbone, then back to the center and down to his stomach. Puck squirms and grabs Finn’s hair, tugging on it. “That’s a pre-blowjob move.”

“What do you want, then? Want me to just flip you over and fuck you?” Finn asks, frowning a little.

“What do you want?”

“I want it to be real,” Finn says. He runs his hands down Puck’s chest, over his hips, and across his thighs.

“I’m pretty sure we’re fucking real. Only I don’t want to come until you’re fucking me,” Puck says.

“Okay,” Finn says. He doesn’t want to feel the heavy sadness settling onto him, but it’s there, and he can’t shake it. He wraps a hand around Puck’s dick, slowly stroking it a few times, and bending over to lick the head once before kissing Puck’s chest again. “Tell me how you want it.”

“I looked it up. I woulda gone to Scandals, but then I found out it’s not that kind of club anyway,” Puck says. “I want to feel it tomorrow, like when we’re kissing and the next day I can run my tongue over where your teeth caught.”

“You want me to be rough? Not slow and gentle?” Finn asks.

“We’re always rough. Wouldn’t be us.”

“So I should just roll you over and fuck you? No fingers or anything first?”

Puck rolls his eyes. “I’m pretty sure there’s plenty of other rough shit. What do you want?”

“I do want you to roll over,” Finn says. “Get on your hands and knees.”

“Okay,” Puck says, and he sounds like he’s breathing a little faster as he flips over and then pushes himself onto his hands and knees, his ass pointing towards Finn. Finn’s breath catches momentarily, looking at him, then he reaches for the lube, flipping the cap open and dumping a bunch onto his fingers.

“Okay,” Finn says. He touches one fingertip to Puck’s asshole, feeling the texture and the heat, and how slick Puck’s ass feels as he pushes the finger in slowly. He pauses at the first knuckle, letting both of them breathe, then slides it in deeper.

“Fuck, you’re in me,” Puck says, and his ass moves slightly, like he’s trying to reorient.

“Yeah,” Finn says. “It’s pretty hot. I mean, like it’s temperature-hot, but it’s also just hot. Really fucking hot.” He pushes his finger in all the way, then slides it in and out just a little. “Cool.”

“Cool?” Puck repeats. “Fucking me with your finger is ‘cool’?”

“Yeah. It is,” Finn says. He fucks Puck a little more intently with the one finger, then starts to push a second one in, too.

“Okay, yeah,” Puck says, and he rocks his hip backwards toward Finn just an inch or two. “You wanted to stretch me out.”

“Yeah,” Finn admits. He pushes both fingers in completely. “Like that?”

“Yeah. Like that,” Puck agrees.

“Or more like this?” Finn asks, sliding his fingers out and then pushing them back in with a slight downward angle.

“Or that, yeah,” Puck says, almost breathlessly. “Either one.”

Finn repeats the downward thrusting motion with his fingers a few times, watching Puck squirm. Puck’s ass is still hot and tight and slick around Finn’s fingers, so Finn dumps a little more lube on his fingers as he draws them out again, then slowly presses three fingers back inside of Puck.

“Yeah?” Finn asks.

“Yeah,” Puck says, and now his voice is definitely breathless and a little higher. “Play with my balls or something, too.”

“Yeah,” Finn agrees. He shifts so he’s more directly behind Puck, reaching between Puck’s legs to cup his balls, rolling them on his palm. Finn keeps fucking Puck’s ass with his fingers while he alternates between stroking and rolling Puck’s balls and lightly jerking his dick.

“You can, you know. Rougher.”

“Which part?” Finn asks. He wraps his hand firmly around Puck’s dick, though, not waiting for Puck to answer him, and he pushes his fingers harder into Puck’s ass. “You want to feel it tomorrow, right?”

“Yeah. Yeah. All of it,” Puck says.

“Keep doing this?”

“Yeah. I want to feel it.”

“Okay.” Finn does keep fucking Puck with his fingers and jerking him off roughly, occasionally pausing to caress Puck’s balls. He could do this, just this, all night if it’s what Puck wanted, especially if Puck would leave with him in the morning.

“It’s good,” Puck says after a few more minutes pass. “You should fuck me now, so you can come closer.”

“I could keep doing this if you really like it,” Finn says.

“I like it, but you’re far away.”

“Yeah,” Finn says. “Okay. I’ll fuck you.” He reluctantly slides his fingers out of Puck’s ass, giving Puck’s dick one more squeeze, before he reaches for the bottle of lube again. He dumps even more of it into his hand this time, stroking his own dick with his slicked hand and then lining the head up with Puck’s asshole. “Tell me you want me.”

“Fuck, of course I want you. I want you fucking me right now,” Puck says.

“Me, not some fucking company girl,” Finn says. He pushes just the head in, holding Puck’s hip with one hand. “Tell me again.”

“Just you, fucking me,” Puck says. “I want you.”

“I want you. Just you,” Finn says, rocking his hips forward and sliding in slowly and steadily. At first, Puck’s ass is like a hot silk vice around him, and it’s so painfully good that Finn has to grit his teeth together to keep from coming right away. When he’s fully inside Puck, he leans forward, resting his chest against Puck’s back and just feeling how their breathing syncs up.

“Shit. Yeah. Fuck, Finn,” Puck says. “You can fuck me now.”

“Just want to stay like this,” Finn says, panting against Puck’s neck. “Can we just stay like this?”

Puck lets out a noise that sounds more like a puppy whining than anything else. “Finn. Move.”

“Would you come with me?” Finn asks.

“You didn’t even move yet!” Puck says.

“I mean leave with me,” Finn says. “Would you leave with me, if I left?” He keeps as much of his chest against Puck’s back as he can while rocking his hips backwards, sliding out of Puck’s ass slightly and then shoving back in fast and hard.

“You’re not going anywhere,” Puck says, shaking a little under Finn. “Fuck, yeah, like that, fuck me like that.”

Finn does fuck him like that, rhythmically rocking back and forward, thrusting in a little harder. “If I was, would you come with me? If I was going?”

“Sure, we can leave one day, shithead. Retire young,” Puck gasps out, saying one word with each thrust of Finn’s hips.

“Not one day, goddammit,” Finn says, picking up speed as he and Puck find their rhythm. “Tomorrow. If I fucking leave tomorrow, come with me, tell me you’ll come with me.”

“No. We’re not going anywhere,” Puck says.

Finn lets his forehead drop against Puck’s back for a moment before he makes himself sit up again, grabbing Puck’s hips in both hands. If this is the only time, it’ll be the best time either of them could have, so Finn fucks him hard and fast, his nails cutting into Puck’s skin over his hip bones.

Puck hisses a little, pushing back into Finn’s hands, and his body shakes more than before. “Fuck, Finn.”

“Just come with me,” Finn says, begging now. “Just come with me, Puck.”

“Soon,” Puck says. “Almost there.”

Finn doesn’t correct Puck this time, because Puck already said it: they’re not going anywhere. Instead, Finn reaches around with one hand, wrapping it a little too tightly around Puck’s dick and stroking him hard, just as hard as Finn starts slamming into Puck’s ass. Puck shudders and tightens around Finn’s dick, and then he’s coming in Finn’s hand, yelling at the same time. Finn’s shouts join Puck’s as he thrusts into Puck again and again, not stilling even as he starts to come, fucking Puck all the way through his orgasm. Only when he’s completely spent does he drape himself across Puck’s back again, kissing the back of his neck and wrapping his arms around Puck’s chest.

“I love you, you stupid piece of shit,” Finn murmurs into Puck’s neck. “I fucking love you.”

Puck snorts. “I know. Love you too, shithead. Sleep now.”

Finn rolls them both onto their sides without unwrapping his arms from around Puck’s chest, sliding out of Puck’s ass. He holds Puck against him tightly, kissing his neck again.

“’Night, Finn,” Puck whispers after a minute.

“Yeah,” Finn says quietly. “’Night, Puck.” He waits until Puck’s breathing slows and his body relaxes, then he barely whispers, “I’ll miss you.”

The sun isn’t even up yet when Finn wakes up, pulls on his clothes, and quietly lets himself out of the van. His bag’s already packed in his bedroom at the house, so all he has to do is grab it and sling it onto his back, leaving a note in his kitchen for his mom. He points his bike east, into the rising sun that paints him red as he drives away from Lima, from the club, from Puck.

About a week passes without any discussion of the rat, and Finn assumes Burt is doing whatever Burt does to track down information. Puck’s a little more pensive than usual, not that Finn could blame him, since Finn’s aware that he’s also coming down on the somber side of thoughtful. The MC as a whole has a weird air about it. It feels like everybody’s waiting.

Puck disappears during lunch break twice that week. The second time, he comes back looking like somebody who’s found something. He pulls one of the prospects aside briefly, just outside the bay, and then comes inside, somehow pleased and pissed off at the same time.

“I think it’s time to put the jigsaw puzzle together,” Puck says quietly to Finn. “Check in with K-boy, and we’ll look at everything after your shift?”

“Okay,” Finn says. “I’m ready to get this over with.”

“Back room here or apartment?”

“I don’t know. On the one hand, it’s club business, but on the other hand, I don’t want to risk anybody overhearing until we’re a hundred percent on this,” Finn says.

Puck nods. “Okay. Not here, then. I’ll grab dinner while you close up.”

“Cool. Thanks. I’ll go by the bike shop on my way out,” Finn says. “Hopefully Kurtie-boy’s got something for us.”

“Yeah.” Puck shakes his head slightly. “I really do hope so.”

Puck ducks out a few minutes before his shift is technically over, while Finn finishes up and gets the shop closed up for the night. Finn walks over to Kurt’s bike shop, bypassing the front desk and Slick and heading straight into the workshop. He shuts the door between the workshop and the office.

“Give me something I can take to Puck,” Finn says to Kurt. “Even if it seems small.”

Kurt shuffles some tools around, not looking directly at Finn. “I don’t think Slick’s involved with the feds at all,” he says.

“I’m not saying he is, remember? I’m just trying to piece together what happened and make sure nobody gets themselves into any shit they can’t get out of,” Finn says.

“I mean that I don’t think you need to necessarily read too much into any specific behavior,” Kurt says.

“Ohkaaaay,” Finn says slowly. “What behavior are we talking about?”

“I found another phone,” Kurt says. “It doesn’t have any names in it.” Finn nods at Kurt to get him to continue. “And it has outgoing calls at the same time to the same number. I tried the number on my phone. It just rings and rings, no voicemail.”

“Shit. Okay. Slick’s been involved in some other shit, though. We both know that,” Finn says.

Kurt nods, still not meeting Finn’s eyes. “He disappeared on Tuesday, then again on Thursday. Didn’t say he was going anywhere. He was gone for about a half-hour the first time, over an hour the second time. When I asked him about it, he said he had some errands to run and didn’t want to bother me with them.”

“He bring anything back?”

“No,” Kurt says, shaking his head. “But he’s not the rat, Finn. He wouldn’t do that.”

“I don’t wanna think anybody in the MC’d rat, Kurtie-boy, but the fact is, somebody had to’ve or there’s no way the feds would’ve known to show up at that deal,” Finn says. “We’re not going to Burt with anything until we know for sure, though, okay? If you find anything else, something that proves it’s not Slick, you let me know right away.”

Kurt nods slowly. “Okay.”

Finn gives Kurt a hug, patting his back a few times. “It’ll all work out. Nobody’s accusing anybody of anything. We just have to look at the evidence.”

“I know,” Kurt says quietly. “I also know this doesn’t look good.”

“I don’t know what it looks like. We’ve got a lot of pieces to put together first,” Finn says. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Kurt nods again, and Finn leaves out the workshop door, so he doesn’t have to pass by Slick again. He gets on his bike and rides over to Puck’s, letting himself in and then locking the door behind himself.

“Hey,” Finn says. “Dinner?”

“Burgers,” Puck calls from the kitchen, his head half-inside the refrigerator. “Pop, beer, or Jack and Coke?”

“Jack, Coke optional,” Finn says.

“Nothing good?” Puck guesses, straightening up and setting a glass on the counter.

“Not really, no,” Finn says. “Kurtie-boy found a burner phone in Slick’s shit. Only one outgoing number.”

“Shit. Either he’s back into buying from AB, then, or it’s feds?” Puck shakes his head and pours a Jack and Coke for Finn that’s pretty light on the Coke, sliding it across the counter to Finn.

“Yeah. Kurt said the outgoing calls are all at about the same time every night. He tried the number and it just rings, no answer and no voicemail.”

Puck picks up a beer before walking out of the kitchen and sitting on the sofa. “Most dealers wouldn’t want to miss a buyer, you’d think.”

Finn nods. “Yeah, plus he’s got two blocks of time Kurt can’t account for. He said Slick cut out without telling him, claimed later it was errands.”

“That’s a pretty damning picture altogether,” Puck says. “I told the prospects someone was looking to hurt Burt through K-boy. They’ve been keeping an eye on him, so if Slick tries to pin anything on K-boy, we’ve got them to counter.”

“Good. I don’t want any of this shit to stick to him.”

“No.” Puck unwraps his burger and takes a couple of bites. “I have most of the file from Troyer, and some of Lima PD’s file from out at the ethanol plant. Troyer… someone called it in ahead of time.”

“Fuck,” Finn says, shaking his head and tossing back most of his Jack and Coke in a single swallow to calm the sick-feeling twisting in his gut. “Could it’ve been the AB?”

“Guess it could’ve been, but they had more details about the MC than the AB would have. Plus, I can’t figure out how the AB would benefit, you know?”

“Why would Slick call it in, though? What’s he get out of it?” Finn asks.

“I don’t know. Scene report lists no sign of guns or money either one. When they interviewed everyone afterwards, Slick was held the longest.” Puck takes another bite of his hamburger and chews it slowly, then looks at Finn apologetically. “I gotta ask.”

“Slick had a duffel bag. I never saw any money,” Finn says. “When the place blew, he didn’t stop for the bag.”

“If it hadn’t blown, and Allen County broke it up, then a lack of money wouldn’t get noticed?” Puck asks.

“I guess,” Finn says.

“Put everything together, and it’s pretty clear. I want to know for sure, though,” Puck says.

“Fuck. This is gonna hurt Kurtie-boy.”

“I know. I mean, shit, if it weren’t for K-boy, I’d take what we have right now to Burt. Or drag Slick out of town and take care of it myself, which sounds more appealing.”

“We can’t do anything without taking it to the table. We’ve gotta have the proof,” Finn says.

“He’s a fucking rat and he’s pulled K-boy into his shit.”

“So we’ve gotta do this the right way, for Kurtie-boy’s sake.”

Puck sighs, putting down the last part of his burger and turning sideways on the sofa to lean against Finn. “Yeah. Okay. We need to give Slick some fake information. Tell him it’s not being talked about at church because of the rat.”

“Okay. That’s one way to know for sure,” Finn says. “Should we let Burt in on it first?”

“I don’t know. Maybe not who. Maybe he knows about K-boy and Slick.”

“Fuck. This is so fucked up,” Finn says.

“I’m gonna kill him,” Puck says. “How much about the shop do you think Slick’s picked up on? Deliveries and shit?”

“For HH Automotive? Probably not much.”

“He might believe that one of the ordinary deliveries of parts was really a small gun deal. We get motherfuckin’ Burt to put the two of us on one of them, maybe down to Ahl Under 10 on Shawnee, and tell Slick we need an extra pair of hands,” Puck says. “If ATF shows up to seize a bunch of timing belts, we’d know.”

Finn nods. “Yeah. Then we’d know,” he agrees.

“You talk to motherfuckin’ Burt, I’ll talk to Slick?”

“Yeah. This needs to be over and done,” Finn says. “I’m getting pretty damn tired of it.”

“Talk to motherfuckin’ Burt tomorrow, and we’ll get this done on Monday.”

“You know it’s not necessary to call him that every time, right?” Finn asks.

Puck grins. “Yeah, it really kinda is.”

Finn picks up the loudly-ringing phone before it can wake up Rachel. “Hello?”

“Hi, Finn,” Kurt says.

“Oh, hey! Hang on a second.” Finn gets out of bed and walks into the bathroom, shutting the door. “Okay, I can talk now. Rachel’s sleeping.”

“You’re still dating her?” Kurt asks.

“Well. I mean, kinda,” Finn says. “Not exactly dating.”

“So is it a friend with benefits thing?”

“No. I, uh. We kinda got married, Kurtie-boy,” Finn admits.

“Oh my god! Oh my god, Finn!” Kurt squeals into the phone. “Mom is going to flip out! You got married? That’s so crazy!”

“Yeah, it seemed like a good idea at the time, okay?” Finn says. “And my mom and dad got married really young, so maybe it’ll all be cool and work out.”

“Are you going to bring her back to Lima?”

Finn sighs. “I don’t know. Not yet, anyway. She doesn’t know about the MC or anything. I think she might freak out. That’s kinda nice, though. I get to feel normal. It’s good, having somebody who doesn’t know about any of that stuff.”

“I guess,” Kurt says.

“It’s cool, really. Mom’ll be happy when she hears I’ve finally got an old lady.”

“Maybe,” Kurt says again. “Oh, so, I was at the custom bike shop in Westerville, and anyway, this guy Slick I met there? I was showing him the bike I’m building, and he said he thought I should open my own custom bike shop.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah. I talked to Dad, and he said he might be able to front me the money, or that the club might, even, for a share! He said he thought it sounded like a good investment!”

“That’s great, Kurtie-boy,” Finn says. “I’m proud of you.”

“Once I’ve got it open, you can come back and see it,” Kurt says.

“Maybe.”

“You ever planning on coming back?” Kurt asks.

“I don’t know,” Finn says. “We’ll just have to see. I’ve still got over two years left of school. I don’t even have a bike right now.” Kurt gasps loudly, which makes Finn laugh. “Parking it was too expensive, and I kept worrying it was gonna get stolen. Made sense to sell to it.”

“Wow,” Kurt says. “I guess when you’re done with school and move back, you’ll have to buy a new one.”

“Yeah, I guess so,” Finn says. “But how are you? Keeping out of trouble?”

“I’m fine. Everything’s about the same. You know how it is.”

“Yeah, I do. Everybody’s good? Tug? Big Paul?” Finn pauses for a second before adding, “Puck?”

“Oh yeah, everybody’s cool. I got into it with this guy from Los Santos a couple weeks ago. He pulled a knife on me, but Puck pulled his knife, so that cooled it off pretty fast,” Kurt says. “He’s still got my back, don’t worry.”

Finn sighs. “Kurtie-boy, you ever gonna stop getting mixed up with people you got no business being mixed up with?”

“I don’t know,” Kurt says. “I’m working on it, I swear!”

“Yeah, yeah. So tell me if they’ve picked up Little Dave again. That story last time about them interrogating him was fucking hilarious!”

Burt’s not overeager to intentionally involve the automotive shop in an ATF-drawout scheme, but he agrees to it because Puck and Finn are sure this could reveal the identity of the rat. Just after lunch on Monday, Finn and Puck load the timing belts into the van, along with some larger, unmarked empty boxes. They pick up Slick in front of the bike shop. Slick glances over his shoulder at the boxes a little too eagerly, like he’s counting them or trying to spot which ones might be holding the guns.

They swing through the Burger King drive-through on the way, and as they continue south along Cable, Finn starts wondering if maybe they were wrong about Slick, who seems to be eating his Whopper without any concern for what’s around them, and without any long looks at any of the cars they pass. The farther they drive without being stopped, the more Finn thinks that they all might have misinterpreted Slick’s actions. Maybe Slick’s just a dishonest junkie, not a rat.

Then they turn onto Shawnee, almost at the Ahl Under 10, and a plain grey sedan pulls up behind them, red and blue lights flashing from the dashboard. A large delivery van pulls across the road in front of them, stopping, and motions for Finn to pull the van over into the IPS parking lot.

“Shit,” Finn says.

“We’ve got the order slip for Ahl Under 10. No reason to panic,” Puck says, but he looks somewhat smug in the rearview mirror.

“But we have the guns in the back!” Slick says. “They’re never going to believe that Mr. Ahl orders guns from the automotive shop!”

“Calm down, Slick. We can handle this. It’s probably a routine stop. Remember how there’s been talk about a chop shop around Allen County the last few months? They probably want to make sure our timing belts are legit.”

Several armed men, wearing ballistic vests, get out of the delivery van as a woman in a black pants suit walks up along the driver’s side door, badge and gun out. The lead officer from the van shouts at them to get out of the van, hands behind their necks, and Finn immediately complies. As soon as he’s out, another officer pushes him against the van and starts patting him down. He can hear the same happening to Slick and Puck on the other side of the van.

“Hudson, Finn, recently of Allen County Correctional,” the ATF agent says to him. “No weapon on you today? I’m surprised.”

“It’d be a violation of my parole to carry a weapon, ma’am,” Finn says.

“And your friend didn’t carry for you? Puckerman, Noah, who somehow has avoided any charges above misdemeanor. No weapon on him, either.” She motions to the officer to turn Finn around. “What brings you down to this part of the county today, Finn Hudson?”

“We’re making a work-related delivery,” Finn says. “Timing belts. Paperwork’s in the console.”

“I have paperwork, too. A search warrant for this vehicle,” she says. She unfolds a search warrant and holds it in front of Finn for a moment. One of the officers comes around the van and whispers something to the ATF agent, who nods, looking unsurprised.

“You go right ahead. Try to keep the belts with the right boxes. Those thing are a pain in the ass to sort out,” Finn says.

She nods at the officers, who open the back doors of the van and start pulling out boxes, then she turns to Finn again. “You had your other friend carry for you. Anderson, Blaine. Not a local address.”

“I don’t know anything about that,” Finn says. “He just came along ’cause we needed another set of hands.”

“And yet he doesn’t work for Hudson-Hummel Automotive. I know that.”

“He works for my brother, next door at Hummel Custom Bikes. They get a little less traffic than the automotive shop, so we figured they could spare him for an hour.”

“All four of you are members of the same MC. I know that, too. Run by your stepfather.”

“Four of us? You find somebody else in the back of that van I didn’t know about?” Finn asks.

“Oh, good, a smartass. Like I didn’t have enough of those around me already. We’re going to have to take your friend in for carrying a concealed weapon without a permit. That’s assuming we don’t find anything in this van of yours, which is highly unlikely.”

“Ma’am, we run a clean business at Hudson-Hummel automotive,” Finn says. “Just ask Puck over there. He’ll tell you. It’s all by the book. File our taxes on time and everything. None of that Hoffa shit.”

“Take a seat on the curb,” the ATF agent says, then calls for the officers to bring Puck and Slick around to sit next to him while the others continue unloading the van, holding up timing belts before opening the large empty boxes.

“Nothing in here, ma’am!” one of them calls, which makes her scowl. A few moments later, a second and then a third officer report the same about the boxes they’ve opened.

“What?” Slick blurts.

“Like I said, it’s just a work-related delivery of some timing belts,” Finn says. “Are we free to go?”

For the first time, the ATF agent looks actually angry, but all of her anger seems to be directed toward Slick. “The two of you are. Mr. Anderson, you’re going to have to come with me.” One of the officers puts cuffs on Slick and leads him towards the grey sedan.

“Hey!” Finn protests loudly. “I’m sure he’s got a permit for that. He probably left it at home or at the bike shop or something.”

“We’ll look it up in our computer system, then,” she says, then orders the officers back into the delivery van, leaving the timing belts on the asphalt behind the van. “Thank you for your time, gentlemen.”

“No, thank you, ma’am,” Puck says, smiling widely at her. The ATF agent’s expression changes immediately, and she looks over her shoulder at Slick in the sedan before staring at Puck again, walking backwards as she does. Puck waits until she’s in the sedan before standing up, still smiling. “I don’t think it gets much more definite than that.”

“Yeah. Shit,” Finn says. Once the sedan is out of sight, he begins picking up the timing belts and putting them back into the correct boxes. “We’ll drop these off and go talk to Burt, I guess.”

“Orrr we can go meet Slick when he gets released in all of fifteen or twenty minutes, and take care of it then,” Puck says.

“No, we’ve got to take it to the table,” Finn says. “He’s a brother. He’s entitled to a vote, rat or not.”

“After everything that he’s caused? He tried to—” Puck cuts himself off. “Fuck.”

“What?” Finn asks.

“You wouldn’t have fucking gone inside at all if he weren’t a greasy little shitstain. Let me take him out to the reservoir,” Puck says, looking angrier than Finn’s ever seen him. “I’ll make sure that ATF bitch can’t recognize her little rat when they find him.”

“No, fuckwit,” Finn says. He takes Puck by the shoulders and gently pushes him against the van. “We take it to the table. We do it the right way. Nothing that comes back to shit on you.”

“But I want to kill him.”

“And I don’t want you doing something stupid and getting yourself killed or arrested,” Finn says. “We take it to Burt. We take it to a vote. That’s how it’s going down.”

Puck scowls at Finn for at least a moment. “And then I kill him?”

“If that’s the way the vote goes, then I guess you do,” Finn says. He leans in and gives Puck a slow, soft kiss.

Puck pushes him back, shaking his head. “Being stupid,” he says. “If K-boy doesn’t want to, I’ve got more right than anyone else.”

“We’ll see how the vote goes. And so what if I’m being stupid? Fuck it. Fuck everybody,” Finn says. He presses himself against Puck and kisses him again.

“But we’re still in Lima,” Puck says, not pushing him away this time.

“Yeah,” Finn says, “but maybe it’s time I finally make peace with that.”

Finn has the window unit from his and Rachel’s apartment in Queens on the floor, half the pieces next to him as he looks at the motor. He has a Phillips-head in hand when his phone starts ringing with Carole’s tone. He reaches for it with his other hand, putting it to his ear.

“Mom?” Finn asks.

“Playtime’s over,” Puck’s voice says.

“Puck?” Finn shifts the phone slightly, pinning it between his ear and shoulder. “Hey.”

“Burt had a heart attack. Hey. Time to come home.”

“What? Is he okay? Did he— my mom. Is Mom okay?”

“He didn’t die, no, but he can’t run the fucking club from Lima Memorial,” Puck says. “Your mom’s going to be busy enough with him, and we can’t let Tug run everything, either.”

“Shit. Shit, okay,” Finn says. “Kurt, though. Kurt’s the new Veep, right? He’s got Kurtie-boy there to—”

“Did you hit your head in the last three years?” Puck asks, interrupting Finn. “K-boy couldn’t be Veep even if you were dead or serving life. What would he do?”

“Burt’s his father. Kurt’s not useless. He can take over the shop, he could—”

“Bullshit. You know it’s your job.”

“I’ve got a life here, Puck,” Finn says. “I’ve got a year left in school. I have— I’m married.”

“Good, she can take care of shit at the shop while your mom’s with Burt,” Puck says, only a couple of seconds of silence stretching too long before he responds. “You’ve got a fuckton of responsibilities back here, and you know it.”

“But I’ve got a life,” Finn says softly.

“It’s not Burt’s problem that you were fucking around. Not Mama Carole’s fault. You’ve got an entire life here, too,” Puck says harshly.

“Just two more semesters.”

“Two weeks is pushing it.”

“Shit,” Finn whispers. “Puck. Please.”

“You want me to tell you about Mama Carole crying?” Puck sounds almost disgusted. “You know where you belong. You know who you are. You can tell me all you want about school and wherever you are, but I know you miss it.”

Finn doesn’t answer at first, taking a few long slow breaths. “Okay. I’ll find a flight. We’ll be home tomorrow, maybe the day after if we can’t get something,” he says.

“Let somebody know, someone’ll bring the van to pick you up,” Puck says approvingly.

“I don’t have a bike anymore,” Finn says apologetically, even though he isn’t entirely sure why he’s apologizing.

“Then whoever picks you up’ll plan on at least one more stop.” Puck sighs. “Unless you want to try to squeeze on Burt’s, but you’d look ridiculous.”

“Will— can you pick us up?”

“I’ll be there.” Puck hangs up without saying anything else.

“Shit,” Finn says. He looks around the apartment, taking it all in, and wondering what he’s going to tell Rachel to convince her they need to move back to Lima in the next 24 hours.

“Who was that on the phone, Finn?” Rachel says from the kitchen. “Was that your mom?”

“It was Puck, my friend from back home, remember?” Finn waits for Rachel’s nod. “My step-dad, Burt, had a heart attack.”

“Oh, no! I hope it’s not serious. Should we send some flowers to the hospital?” Rachel asks, sitting down on the sofa.

“No. No, we don’t need to send flowers. We need— I’ve gotta go home,” Finn says.

“Your mom needs help until Burt’s back on his feet again?” Rachel says. “What about your brother?”

“No, Rachel. I need to move home,” Finn says. “I have… my family needs me. The— everybody needs me.”

Move?” Rachel repeats. “When? Next year? That’s not very long from now!”

“They need me home tomorrow, day after at the latest.”

“And you told this Puck that you were very sorry, but you just couldn’t do that. Right?”

Finn shakes his head. “They need me, Rachel.”

“Oh my God,” Rachel says, looking stricken. “You want me to start packing.”

“I have to go,” Finn says.

“Oh my God,” Rachel repeats. “Tell me when we’re leaving, I suppose.”

“I’m looking for flights. Tomorrow, if I can get us a flight,” Finn says. “We’ll have our stuff shipped.”

Rachel stands up, holding out one hand in front of her. “I’m going to go pack a bag and then lie down.”

“I’m sorry, Rachel. I have to. I have to. It’s family,” Finn says. Rachel nods, walking to the bedroom without saying anything else.

“Shit,” Finn says again. He looks around the apartment, taking the whole small space in in just a glance. He mentally starts planning how to pack, what to pack, going through the steps of how to get it all to Lima. After a few calls, he has a moving company able to pack them up in the morning, and another couple of calls after that, he has a late-night flight back to Toledo.

Rachel is uncharacteristically quiet the next morning as she begins mechanically sorting her clothes out into piles. She volunteers herself as the official director of the moving company. Finn thinks they pack up even faster than usual, just to get away from Rachel and her directions. By six, the apartment is empty except for the bag they’re bringing, so they head to the airport. Finn leaves Puck a voicemail letting him know they’re taking off. Rachel is quiet on the flight, too, but she does squeeze his hand and give him a reassuring smile a few times.

The flight is on time, and they make their way towards baggage claim, Finn on the lookout for Puck. He spots him by the baggage carousel. As Finn gets closer, he can see that Puck looks almost exactly the same, just a little older, though his cut has a new patch sewn on the front. Once he’s within arm’s reach, Finn puts one arm out, pulling Puck into a one-armed hug.

“Men of Mayhem?” Finn asks quietly, while his face is near Puck’s ear.

“Gotta do what’s gotta be done. Welcome back,” Puck says. Finn grips Puck even tighter for a second, taking a deep breath before releasing him.

“Yeah,” Finn says. “Puck, this is my wife, Rachel. Rachel, this is my best friend, Puck.”

“Your old lady,” Puck says, nodding at Rachel. “Bad Road’s got the van for her and your bags.” Rachel startles and looks up at Finn with her eyebrows furrowed.

“It’s a compliment,” Finn says. Rachel looks like she’s not sure if she believes Finn, but she returns Puck’s nod. “Just let me grab the bag.”

They only have to wait two minutes before the baggage carousel spits out Finn and Rachel’s single large bag, and Finn holds it in one hand, Rachel clinging to his other arm on the way out of the airport. The van is easy to spot in the nearly-empty parking lot, so Finn directs Rachel to it.

“Who are these people?” Rachel asks. “I don’t understand.”

“Well, you met Puck and… didn’t he go to school with us?” Finn asks Puck, tilting his head at the prospect standing by the van. “Something Brown?”

“Yeah. Little Dave’s sponsoring him. Other prospect right now’s Slick. Guy K-boy met,” Puck says.

“Huh. Guess I’ll have a lot of people to meet,” Finn says. Bad Road opens the van’s side door, taking the bag from Finn with a wide grin.

“Nice to have the prince home,” Bad Road says, giving Finn a wink as he tosses the bag into the van.

“The prince? The prince of what? Finn, I’m so confused!” Rachel says.

Puck scowls at Bad Road. “Stop sucking up, Bad Road. You’re confusing Finn’s old lady. Remember, he needs to go to the dealer first.”

“Dealer?” Finn asks.

“Told you we’d get you a bike. Tommy’s coming in after hours. Unless you wanted one of Kurtie-boy’s customs, instead.”

Finn shakes his head. “Customs are a little too fancy for me.”

“Finn?” Rachel asks. “What’s going on? Custom what?”

“Bikes. You remember I had one when you met me,” Finn explains. “You’ll ride in the van with Bad Road. I’ll just ride bitch over with Puck. Bad Road, can you take her to my mom’s?”

“Bikes? Bitch?” Rachel looks bewildered, but she climbs into the van and starts to buckle up.

“You got it, boss,” Bad Road says, with another smug-looking grin. He starts the van and begins to drive out of the parking lot.

“Didn’t fill her in completely?” Puck asks, walking over his bike. “Gotta say, you saying you were gonna ride bitch with me isn’t something I ever really expected.”

“Amazing things are happening, apparently,” Finn says. “I just didn’t feel like being cooped up in the van after squeezing myself into an airplane seat.”

“Sure,” Puck says, swinging his leg over his bike and settling onto the seat. Finn squeezes on behind him, most of him overhanging the seat, but it’s not far to Tommy’s dealership, at least. He puts his arms loosely around Puck’s waist.

“Let’s get a move on,” Finn says.

Puck turns his head and grins widely at Finn as he starts the engine. “Hold on tight.” Finn tightens his arms around Puck, and Puck pulls out of the lot.

They get to the dealership in about twenty, a lone light on inside the building. Twenty minutes later, Finn’s the owner of a 2008 105th anniversary model Dyna Wide-Glide and a black half-helmet. Before Finn can get on the bike, though, Puck stops him.

“Not quite done,” Puck says. He grins and then produces Finn’s cut, shaking it out before he offers it to Finn. Finn reaches for it, feeling almost nervous for some reason.

“Shit, man,” Finn says softly. “Thank you.” Puck pulls it back suddenly, still grinning.

“On second thought,” he says, and then holds it up to help Finn into it.

Finn lets the vest settle onto his shoulders, its weight and smell still familiar, and he looks down at it. “Oh. Shit, you got your knife?”

“We’re not practicing knife-fighting,” Puck says.

Finn shakes his head. “Nah, it’s got the VP patch on the front, still. Need to cut it off.”

“Let’s not worry about that right now,” Puck says as he climbs back on his bike. “It’ll all get sorted.”

“Alright,” Finn says. He climbs onto the bike and revs the engine, turning towards Puck to grin at him. “Damn, that feels good.”

“Only a few things as good,” Puck agrees.

“Yeah,” Finn says. He looks at Puck for another couple of breaths, then he revs the engine again and tears out of the dealership’s lot, Puck right behind him where he belongs.

As soon as they deliver the timing belts and get back in the van, Puck pulls out his phone and calls Burt. Burt answers, and Puck immediately says “Get the club together. We got the rat bastard.” There’s a pause for Burt to reply, then Puck says. “Okay. Ten minutes, tops. Yeah, mayhem.” Puck nods once, says a final “okay,” and then ends the call. “Okay, we’re doing it your way, Finn.”

“This is gonna crush Kurtie-boy,” Finn says quietly.

“I know. But what can we do about it?” Puck asks. “If we’d given K-boy any warning, he might’ve warned Slick.”

“We don’t know that he’d do that.”

“People do stupid things for the people they love,” Puck says. “You and I know that.”

Finn sighs. “Yeah. I know.”

“Is it too obvious if we sit K-boy between us?”

“Everybody knows they’re close, even if they don’t know how close,” Finn says. “I think it’d be fine. Better for him, anyway.”

“Okay.” Puck shakes his head, still looking incredibly pissed off. “Slick messed with the MC, he messed with K-boy, and he messed with you. He can’t come back from that.”

Burt doesn’t die. He doesn’t get better instantly, either, so Puck’s right that somebody has to run things. Kurt is at Lima Memorial more than he’s at the club, and he has the new prospect Slick handling most of the business at the custom bike shop Kurt opened about a year ago, in the next building down from Hudson-Hummel Automotive. Carole is barely able to stay on top of the books, and while Tug’s a good mechanic, he’s also a drinker whose work needs to be looked-over, and he definitely can’t be trusted to manage books or interact with people.

Finn puts in a brief daily visit at Lima Memorial to check in on Burt, who was thankfully awake and alert by day two, then he heads in to the shop, changing his routine to stopping by the house first once Burt’s home after day five. Most of Finn’s first two weeks back in Lima are spent managing the shop. He’s also quickly thrust into the position of de facto presidency of the club, with Tug more than happy to turn the VP spot back over to Finn—after a quick, unanimous vote—and resume the role of Sergeant-at-Arms. Puck’s face says the “I told you so” that he’s nice enough not to speak out loud.

Rachel does offer to help at the shop, but she doesn’t have any experience with automotive repair or officework. She also acts uncomfortable and overly-polite around other members of the MC, except for Slick, who she seems to take to. As a result, Slick gets assigned any Rachel-related tasks or errands, and the peace gets kept, at least marginally.

Finn has been back in Lima for over a month when he realizes he hasn’t stopped to think about what he’s doing or what his long-term plans might be. Rachel seems to view the whole situation as temporary, which is why she’s okay with the little apartment they’re currently staying in, but Finn has to admit to himself that he’s already thinking of himself as a permanent Lima resident again. Being back with the club, being around Puck again, is too comfortable and familiar after the past three years, and he can’t imagine walking away again – from the MC, maybe, but not from Puck.

One afternoon when the shop isn’t very busy, Puck walks up beside Finn and puts his hand on Finn’s shoulder. “Okay, you’ve been here six weeks, jackass, and you haven’t even asked where I’m sleeping these days.”

“I just figured you were still with Tessie, I guess,” Finn says. “Sorry, man. Feels like my head hasn’t been on straight since I got back.”

“If I needed the sound of sex to fall asleep, I could just put on one of my award-winning porn DVDs,” Puck says. “You should come by and see my shithole. Three hundred a month and no one else to bother me.”

Finn laughs. “Alright. Let me close up the shop.”

Puck nods. “You can leave your bike here, if you want. It’s just on the other side of Richie.”

“Okay,” Finn says. He locks up the office, stops off in the back to let Big Paul and Tug know that he’s closing up for the day. Puck leads Finn through one of the alleys behind the club and then stops before they cross Richie.

“Right over there,” he says, pointing to the long building sandwiched in between the small houses on either side of it. “Second floor. Like I said, a shithole, but my shithole.” He heads across the street and up some stairs to an apartment on the back side of the building.

Finn follows Puck inside. “No it’s… nice. It’s nice.”

Puck laughs. “There’s barely enough room for one person in the kitchen, it smells like either mold or piss depending on the season, and the carpet looks like it’s from the ’70s. It’s not nice.” He shuts the door behind them and locks it. “But I bought the sofa new.”

“Fine, fine, it’s not nice,” Finn says, laughing, too. “But that’s a – wow. That’s an impressive stack of porn.”

“Award-winning porn. To the Last Man cleaned up in a lot of categories,” Puck says.

“Yeah I think I missed that one,” Finn says.

“Probably depends on what section you shop in,” Puck says with a small grin. He crosses the living room and opens one of the two doors off it. “Bathroom.” He opens the other one. “Bedroom. All eight hundred square feet.”

“Ni— uh, cool,” Finn says. “Probably nice to have the space all to yourself.”

“Yeah.” Puck closes the doors again and leans against the wall between them. He turns to look at Finn, more considering than amused now. “It has a few perks.”

“Yeah?” Finn asks.

“Quiet. Eat whenever I want.” Puck pauses and shrugs, still gazing at Finn. “Privacy.”

“Yeah, I had that for… not very long,” Finn says. “Roommate for a while, then I met Rachel, and I moved in pretty fast, and…” He sighs. “Hey. We haven’t really, you know. Talked.”

“We can talk,” Puck says almost gently. “If that’s really what you want to do.”

Finn nods faintly. “I mean… are you seeing anybody? Are you, I don’t know. How are you? You’re okay? You look good. Okay, I mean.” He shakes his head hard. “No. I mean good. You look good.”

“You too,” Puck says with a half-grin. “I’m good, and no. I’m not.”

“Sweet pad like this?” Finn asks.

Puck’s grin gets a little bigger and he spreads his hands in front of him. “I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s true.”

“Too busy keeping the club together?” Finn asks. “Or too busy with your award-winning porn collection?”

“Does one have to rule out the other?”

“I guess not.”

Puck straightens and walks towards the sofa. “We can play a few games, if you want. If you’ve got time, and…”

“And?” Finn prompts.

“And if there’s not anything else you’d rather do.”

“Like?”

“I don’t have video equipment, so we wouldn’t know how it stacked up to anything award-winning.”

Finn starts to laugh. He keeps laughing, hard, until he sits down on the sofa, doubled-over. Puck sits down next to him and mutters something just before he leans over and kisses Finn hard. Finn doesn’t act surprised, because he’s not, not really. He wraps an arm around Puck and pulls him closer, deepens the kiss.

Puck puts one hand on the back of Finn’s head as they kiss, and his other hand finds its way under Finn’s shirt on his side. Finn’s fingers bunch up the back of Puck’s shirt, raising it enough for him to feel Puck’s bare skin. Puck leans in more, enough that some of his weight is on Finn, and he kisses up Finn’s jaw.

“Didn’t think you’d worry too much about the lack of video,” Puck says.

“No. Not really, no,” Finn says. “I’m not really into video, anyway.”

Puck laughs. “One day I’ll find just the right movie to change your mind,” he says before kissing Finn again. He slides both hands to Finn’s face for a few seconds, then starts pulling up on Finn’s shirt. Finn shifts in place so Puck can draw his shirt up, finally moving away from Puck just long enough for the shirt to go over his head, then uses the opportunity to do the same to Puck’s shirt.

Finn runs his hand down Puck’s chest, touching the ink on his stomach and sides. He traces the double loop of barbed wire on the right side of Puck’s stomach with one fingertip. “Nice.”

“You got new ink, too,” Puck says. “I’ll have to turn over if you want to see the big one, though.”

“Yeah. I got one that took a while,” Finn says. “You, too?” He nudges Puck, getting him to turn. Puck nods and flips enough to bare his back towards Finn. Puck’s back ink is the MC patch, full-sized reaper with the Sons of Anarchy top rocker. Finn puts his hand palm-down on top of the reaper.

“A long time,” Puck says. “Worth it, though.”

“It’s nice work,” Finn says. He doesn’t move his hand from Puck’s back, just moves closer, so there’s barely any space between his chest and Puck’s back.

“What’d you get that took a long time?” Puck asks after a few more seconds pass.

“You can look, if you want.”

“Is it near your dick, since you’re giving permission and all?” Puck asks.

Finn laughs softly. “Well, you can check, if you want.”

“Yeah?” Puck flips back over, his hands going to the front of Finn’s jeans. “I might get distracted.”

“Yeah? How distracted?”

Puck pulls the zipper down, button already undone, and pushes Finn’s jeans and boxers down as much as he can before answering. “Pretty distracted. Probably something like your dick in my mouth level of distraction.”

“Yeah,” Finn breathes. “Yeah, that’s distracted, really distracted.”

“You’re the one with the distraction-inducing dick,” Puck says. He pushes at Finn’s shoulders. “Lie back.”

“Okay.” Finn lies back against the arm of the sofa.

“Good.” Puck shifts onto his knees and leans forward, immediately putting his lips around Finn’s dick and sliding them down. Finn moans, both his hands going to Puck’s head to hold it in place.

“Shit. Shit, Puck. Oh fuck.”

Puck grabs the base of Finn’s dick with one hand, stroking roughly upwards each time his mouth slides down. His tongue flicks over the tip, and the fingers of his other hand twitch against Finn’s hip, trapped between it and the back of the sofa. Finn moves, but not to free Puck’s hand. He lifts his hips up off the sofa, pushing his dick into Puck’s mouth. Puck opens his mouth a little wider, swallowing around Finn’s dick before flicking his tongue across it a second time.

“Wow. Okay. Shit. Wow, you got really awesome at that,” Finn says, gripping Puck’s head. “Fucking hell, Puck.”

Puck makes a noise like he forgot and tried to talk, his mouth moving faster on Finn’s dick. He pushes his head up against Finn’s hands, and as he slides down farther than before, he moves his untrapped hand to Finn’s balls. Finn grabs Puck’s mohawk with one hand, tugging on it as he arches his back. Puck nods a tiny bit, then tugs on Finn’s balls gently.

Finn doesn’t warn Puck that he’s going to come. He just shouts and thrusts up into Puck’s mouth, coming hard. Puck keeps sucking and swallowing until Finn is completely still, his hand still on Finn’s balls.

“Yeah?” Puck says as he pulls back, grinning at Finn.

“Yeah,” Finn says, grinning back and feeling giddy. “Did you lure me here for a blowjob, you asshole?”

Puck laughs. “Blowjob was just a bonus. If I were going to lure you here solely to get off, you think I’d still be hurting?”

“Aw, are you hurting?” Finn asks. He sits up, too, putting his hands high on Puck’s thighs.

“And when I say yes, you’re going to insist I look at those tats first, aren’t you, you shithead?”

Finn shrugs. “Not like they’re going anywhere. You got any more you wanted to show me?”

“No, you want to make me wait, is all,” Puck says. “Did you see the coyote?”

Finn shakes his head. “Show me.”

Puck shifts enough to lift the arm against the back of the sofa, revealing a geometric coyote head, the bottom of it barely touching the tip of the scar on his bicep. “He was more of a whim, but I like him.”

“Yeah. That’s good work.” Finn brushes his thumb over the tat. “Pretty new, huh?”

“Yeah, that’s the newest one. Was over in Columbus and saw the artist’s work.” Puck snorts. “Okay, okay, show me the rest of yours.”

“I oughta make you find ’em,” Finn says.

“You know I always hated being ‘it’ during hide ’n’ seek,” Puck says, running his hand over the tattoo on Finn’s side, the one Finn had before he left. “Fine, turn over for me.”

“You don’t like the ones on the front?”

“I was planning to study them while you were getting me off, jackass.”

“Sure you were, you whiny little bitch,” Finn says, bumping Puck with his knee.

“Yeah, yeah, you’re a comedian,” Puck says as he grins at Finn. “With a little piece of Ohio everywhere you go.”

“Hey, I wouldn’t call it ‘little’,” Finn says.

“I wasn’t referring to your dick, shithead.”

“Neither was I! Do you know how much that fucking thing hurt to get?”

“I can guess,” Puck says, snickering a little. “You’re acting like you’re the only one with ink on his chest.”

“I’m just saying don’t make fun of my Ohio,” Finn says. “I’ve got mad love for Ohio.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Puck says. He runs his finger around the outside of the tattoo, tracing out Ohio. “Turn over.”

Finn turns over, propping his head on the sofa’s arm. Puck runs his hands over Finn’s back, then starts kissing Finn’s left shoulder blade, soft and short kisses. Finn shifts so his shoulder blades move against Puck’s lips. Puck laughs for a second, then moves to Finn’s right shoulder blade, kissing him the same way.

“They’re gorgeous,” Puck says. “Hours of sitting still?”

“Yeah, more than one trip, even,” Finn says. “God, it got ink all over everything I owned. I thought Rachel was gonna have a heart attack when she saw. Lots of screaming.”

“Why’d you pick ’em?” Puck asks, running his fingers over them between kisses.

Finn shrugs. “You know. They’re crows.”

“Just crows? That’s it?” Puck says skeptically.

“They’re…” Finn sighs. “They’re you ’n’ me.”

“Yeah? Which one’s me?” Puck asks.

“Doesn’t matter. They’re the same.”

“Yeah.” Puck kisses both shoulder blades again. “I think this one’s you,” he says after a few more seconds, kissing just Finn’s left shoulder blade.

“Okay. Then the other one’s you,” Finn says. “I like it.”

“Me too.” Puck pulls away, his hands still on Finn’s back. “I think I’ve found them all now?”

“Yeah,” Finn says. He starts to roll over, reaching for Puck and pulling him down at the same time, so Puck is lying on top of Finn, their chests together.

“Harder to surprise you with new ink after this. I’ll work on that,” Puck says, lifting his head to grin.

“Yeah, you do that,” Finn says. He puts a hand on the back of Puck’s head to tug it down so they can kiss, his other hand grabbing Puck’s ass and holding him tight. Puck grinds against Finn, kissing him harder. Finn rocks his hips up, giving Puck more contact and pressure to grind against.

Puck whines a little as they kiss, moving faster. “Hope you didn’t have a craving.”

“Hmm?” Finn pulls down on Puck’s head again to kiss him, not giving Puck a chance to answer Finn’s almost-a-question. Puck doesn’t try to, either, just kisses Finn back and grinds down harder and faster until he starts to shake, crying out while they’re still kissing. Finn can feel Puck coming on his stomach, hot and sticky.

Puck drops all of his weight on Finn, his face pressed into Finn’s neck. “Yeah,” he says quietly.

“Yeah,” Finn agrees, wrapping both arms around Puck. “Yeah.”

Burt already has almost everyone at the clubhouse by the time they get back. Their timing is lucky, though, as they catch Kurt before he goes in. Puck throws an arm around Kurt’s shoulder and doesn’t let go, steering him into the clubhouse and back to the table. Kurt seems surprised, then worried, when Puck plunks him down in the seat between Finn’s and Puck’s usual seats.

“What’s happening?” Kurt asks Puck in a low voice. “What’s going on?”

“You gotta keep it together in here, Kurtie-boy,” Puck says softly. “Can you do that for us?”

“Keep it together for what?” Kurt asks, his voice rising.

Finn pats Kurt’s other shoulder, leaving his hand resting there. “We didn’t want it to go this way. We didn’t have any other choice.”

Burt sits at the head of the table, looking solemn as he bangs the gavel. “I’m not gonna mince any words. We’ve found the rat responsible for turning information about the MC over to the feds.”

Some grumbled noise and a few exclamations come from around the table. Kurt’s shoulder tenses up under Finn’s hand. “What’re the details?” Tug asks. Burt nods at Puck.

“Finn and I started digging after the Los Santos deal nearly got interrupted. I bought off a deputy with Allen County and got most of the file on Troyer, plus some of the information on the ethanol plant. Not everything, because ATF was controlling access. There’s some other evidence we can go into that’s mostly circumstantial, but last week, we told a member we needed help with a small deal this afternoon. We were delivering the timing belts for Ahl Under 10, along with a few empty boxes, but ATF stopped the van and searched it.” Puck pauses and grimaces, not looking at Kurt. “The ATF bitch knew who we were and was looking for the guns we’d told Slick we’d have.”

Kurt’s shoulder jerks out of Finn’s grip. “That doesn’t mean it was him,” Kurt says, his voice thin and angry-sounding. “They could’ve been following him, tapping his phone. You told me yourself, his name was on a list of names the ATF agent had.”

“The prospects, who didn’t know details for Los Santos. Slick. And you,” Puck says apologetically. “We know it wasn’t you. And there’s no way you tipped off Allen County before Troyer.”

“That doesn’t prove they didn’t have him under surveillance!” Kurt insists. “His phone could’ve been tapped. They could’ve bugged his place, maybe even the bike shop or the automotive shop. You’re making a big jump here.”

“Tapped phones don’t make calls on their own,” Puck says almost gently.

“I know you sponsored him as a prospect, and that the two of you are close,” Big Paul says to Kurt, “but tapping phones and planting cameras or microphones doesn’t make much sense, given what’s happened. It’s just much more likely it was someone sharing secrets, and Puck’s making a strong case that it’s Slick.”

“And when it comes to Troyer, there’s other discrepancies,” Puck says. “You know that, Kurtie-boy.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Kurt says. His body-language says otherwise, though, as he slumps in his seat, the fight gone out of him.

“We know he’s got a burner that only calls one number, same time every day, and he’s disappeared with no explanation for where he was,” Finn says. “Plus if you’d seen him today… I’m sorry, but he knew. He was waiting for it, and when the cops didn’t find anything but timing belts in the back, he was surprised, but he was also pissed. So was the ATF agent.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised if he showed up here within another thirty minutes,” Puck says, nodding at Finn’s account. “No way was he getting charged with anything.”

“Turning on the club means a Mayhem vote,” Burt says, “but as a member of the charter, Slick’s got a right to speak his piece.”

Kurt pales and looks like he might be sick. Puck pats Kurt’s shoulder, and while other members are mumbling to each other, Puck whispers, “It’s okay.”

“How is it okay?” Kurt asks quietly.

“We’ve got your back,” Puck says. “Stay calm.”

“You don’t have my back!” Kurt says, still keeping his voice down. “You’re the one doing this.”

“Slick did it to himself, Kurtie-boy,” Finn says. “Nobody did this to him. He did it to us.”

“We’re not letting him drag you down with him. Your back, not his,” Puck says firmly. “Stay calm.”

“If he’s got an explanation, he can give it to us,” Finn says.

Only another minute or two passes before the door opens and Slick peers in. “I didn’t know we were having church! No worries, they already released me. Charges dropped.”

“Have a seat, Slick,” Burt says, nodding to the seat at the far end of the table. Slick glances at Kurt, then rapidly between Finn and Puck, and he trips on his way to the seat, looking like he’s sweating as he rubs his hands across his pants.

“What’s going on?” Slick asks, his voice too casual.

“It’s come to our attention that you’ve been passing sensitive club information to the ATF and the cops,” Burt says. “Puck and Finn have given us all a run-down of the proof against you. You’re entitled to a chance to explain yourself.”

Slick looks at Kurt again, his expression shifting to desperation. “What proof? There can’t be proof! They must be lying.”

“We can start with Troyer,” Puck offers.

“Puck’s got the file from the Allen County Sheriff,” Burt says. “It says they had a call before the deal you set up was happening. Apparently there are some other… we’ll call them discrepancies.”

“The Sheriff’s office probably altered the file to protect the real rat!” Slick says and his voice gets higher as he speaks. “Maybe Puck’s the rat! Or Finn!”

“You already put him in jail once, now you’re trying to pin all your shit on him?” Puck yells at Slick, half-out of his seat.

“Son, the evidence against you is pretty convincing. That gun deal you thought you were on this afternoon, well…” Burt sighs and shakes his head. “Nobody knew about that but me, Finn, Puck, and you, and you were the only one who didn’t know there weren’t any guns in that van. Nobody else could’ve given the ATF that information. Nobody but you.”

Slick’s eyes widen as he stares at Puck and Finn before looking at Kurt. “Kurt! Tell them I wouldn’t.”

Puck looks at Finn, raising one eyebrow. Finn nods. “You want to tell the club who you were calling at the same time every day on a burner phone?” Puck asks Slick. “Maybe you want to call that number right now and let us hear who answers?”

“It’s, it’s nothing!” Slick says. “That’s none of your business!”

“Then call it and prove it’s nothing,” Burt says.

“It’s not my phone! It’s Kurt’s!” Slick blurts out. “I just wanted to protect him. He’s been disappearing a lot lately!”

Kurt’s face flushes, but his only other response to that is a slight shake of his head. Finn narrows his eyes at Slick.

“Get the damn phone out right now. Put it on the table,” Finn says.

“It’s my dealer!” Slick says, looking around the table.

“Your dealer’d hate to miss a call, I’m sure,” Puck says. “Get it out.”

Slick looks around again before slowly putting the phone on the table and pushing it away from him slightly. Puck reaches for it and pushes three buttons before the room can hear the sound of a number being dialed on speaker.

“Only number on there,” Puck says, setting the phone back down.

The phone stops ringing as someone answers, and then the ATF agent’s voice is coming through. “Mr. Anderson. I trust things have gone well with your club?” Slick goes completely white.

Burt nods, and Puck ends the call before turning the phone off completely, dropping it back down on the table. Most of the faces around the table are grim, Beast and Artie nodding slowly. Kurt looks even paler, if possible, but he sits up in his seat, his jaw set.

“I don’t think there’s anything else to say about that,” Kurt says. He doesn’t look directly at Slick, or turn his head to look at Finn, Puck, or Burt. He stares at a fixed point on the wall behind Slick’s head. “I think a Mayhem vote is the only course of action here.”

Slick starts wailing and bawling like a toddler, falling out of the seat onto the floor as he screams. He tries to scramble to his feet to run, but Beast clocks him in the chin, sending him back down to the floor.

“Grab the prospects,” Burt says to Bad Road. “They can keep him from running while we vote.”

Bad Road nods, opening the door to wave the prospects over. “Prez says to watch this piece of shit and make sure he doesn’t go anywhere,” he says to Ryder. “Keep him away from the door and the phones, don’t let him near your cells.” Bad Road pauses for a minute, then drags Slick up onto his feet, immediately patting him down. He takes Slick’s primary cell phone and tosses it onto the table, along with his wallet and his gun, which he obviously got right back from ATF. Bad Road shoves Slick towards the door, where Ryder and Rick grab hold of him. Bad Road nods at them and shuts the door again.

“Mayhem vote’s a serious thing, so if everybody wants to take a minute here and think over the evidence, I think that’d be the right thing to do. Being a rat’s a serious crime, but killing a brother isn’t something to take lightly, no matter what he did,” Burt says.

“I’ll do it,” Puck says grimly. “I’ll take it on.”

“Let’s wait for the vote before we talk about that, son,” Burt says.

Puck nods once and then turns to Kurt. “Hanging in there, Kurtie-boy?” he whispers. Kurt nods his head, barely moving it.

“Sorry about this, brother,” Finn says quietly, leaning close to Kurt.

“Let’s get it over with,” Puck says, sitting back a little and nodding at Burt.

“Alright,” Burt says, nodding back at Puck. “All those in favor of Slick Anderson meeting Mr. Mayhem.”

The vote starts going around the table, starting with Tug’s angry “Yea,” and slowly moving to Big Paul, Little Dave, Beast, Bad Road, Artie, all yea votes. When the vote gets to Puck, he nods. “Yea.”

The room is silent, other than everyone’s breathing. Kurt nods his head. “Yea,” he says, just loud enough to hear.

“Yea,” Finn says.

Then the vote is to Burt, who gives his “yea.” He bangs his gavel. “The vote’s unanimous, which means it carries. Slick meets Mr. Mayhem.”

“I should do it,” Kurt says. His chin trembles a little, but he’s otherwise keeping it together. “I sponsored him. I brought him into the club. I trusted him. This is my mistake, and I should be the one— the one—”

“No, brother,” Finn says. “No, that’s not on you. This isn’t on you, Kurtie-boy.”

“You stay here. You don’t have to do this,” Puck says.

“Me and Puck’ll take care of it,” Finn says.

Kurt nods. “Okay.”

“We’ll go out west of town. They won’t find anything to connect the MC to him,” Puck says.

Burt nods. “Puck, Finn, thanks for your work on this. I don’t know what this club would do without you.”

Puck stands and nods at Burt. “At least they weren’t able to put anyone else away for any length of time.”

As the rest of the club begins leaving the room, Burt reaches his hand out for Puck to shake, then does the same to Finn. He looks at Kurt a little strangely. “Kurt? Son? You doin’ alright?”

Kurt barely nods again, giving Burt a faint smile. Puck leans over, putting his arm around Kurt again. “Go work on a bike or go see Mama Carole. Okay?” he says softly.

“Okay,” Kurt says.

“You ready?” Finn asks Puck.

Puck nods. “Ready.”

Finn pats Kurt’s shoulder one more time before he and Puck walk into the main room of the clubhouse, where Slick is huddled in a sniveling ball in one of the chairs. “Get up, Slick,” Finn says to him. Slick whines but doesn’t immediately move, and Puck kicks the leg of the chair. Slick startles, then stands slowly.

“Time to take a ride,” Puck says to Slick. He pulls Slick’s arms behind his back, then looks at Finn. “Get his cut.”

Finn nods, pulling the cut off Slick’s shoulders. When Puck releases Slick’s hands, Slick twists out of the cut, bolting for the door. Puck chases after him, tackling him down to the floor, then punching him a couple of times before hauling Slick back to his feet. Finn looks back at the doorway they just came through. Kurt is standing in it, ghost-pale, with sad, hollow eyes.

“Let’s get out of here,” Finn says. He drapes Slick’s cut over one arm, following Puck out of the clubhouse. Puck directs Slick to one of the shop’s loaner cars, an older, non-descript tan Ford Taurus. He pulls some tape out of his pocket, taping Slick’s wrists together before shoving him in the backseat. Puck climbs in beside him, piece out and pointing at the floorboard near Slick’s feet.

“Bresler, I think,” Puck says to Finn.

“Yeah,” Finn says. “Makes sense. We’ll swing by your place so you can get what you need?”

Puck nods. “That works.”

Finn drives to Puck’s apartment, leaving the car running while Puck runs up. “I never meant for you to get in any trouble,” Slick says. “We can work something out, right?”

“We voted, Slick,” Finn says. “You’re already dead, far as the MC’s concerned.”

“Please, Finn. For Kurt, if not for me,” Slick says with a whine.

“We’re doing this for Kurt. We’re doing it so you don’t drag him down into the shit with you,” Finn says.

“But I—” Slick stops talking when Puck reappears, dumping a bag in the passenger seat before sitting down next to Slick again.

“Let’s get this done,” Puck says to Finn.

“Yeah,” Finn says. Puck unzips the bag and pulls out two bandanas, stuffing one in Slick’s mouth and then tying the other one over it. “Thanks.”

“He’ll still probably cry, but at least he’s shut up,” Puck says.

“Yeah. Kinda don’t want to hear any more out of him.” Finn puts the car onto Allentown, driving a little ways before asking, “You got a specific spot in mind?”

“Maybe those trees off Grubb. We can park in the lot where no one ever is, walk him into the trees.”

“Okay,” Finn says.

“You can wait at the edge of the trees, if you want to,” Puck says quietly.

“No,” Finn says. “I can’t.”

“Okay.”

The rest of the drive is quiet, except for Slick’s occasional groaning through his gag. Finn turns onto Grubb, and then into the empty lot by the reservoir. He backs into a spot so the car’s plates are facing away from the road.

“Grab the bag?” Puck says, opening the door and yanking Slick out after him. He pulls out his knife, pressing the point against Slick’s side. “Time to take a walk, Slick.” Slick sobs through his gag, and Puck shoves him from behind, forcing him to start walking. Finn gets the bag and follows, keeping an eye out to make sure nobody else is around.

Puck walks Slick about fifteen feet into the trees, looking around before stopping and nodding. He takes the bag from Finn and unzips it, leaving it open in Slick’s line of sight, then forces him to look inside. Slick shakes and cries, and then Puck makes a face, jerking Slick up and pointing him towards Finn.

“Christ, he pissed himself,” Puck says. “He’s almost not worth the energy of making him hurt.”

“It’s not about making him hurt. He broke the rules, and he has to pay for that,” Finn says.

“He hurt K-boy, and he’s the reason you did time,” Puck says. “That’s a lot of hurt.”

Finn nods. “Yeah, and he’s meeting Mr. Mayhem for it. And you and me and Kurtie-boy, we get to keep on living. Everybody’s gotta pay a price.”

“Put out that plastic for me?” Puck says, jerking his head towards the bag. “Want to know something, Slick?” He forces Slick’s head to move in a nod. “You ain’t the only queer in the MC.”

Finn pulls out the clear plastic sheeting, spreading it out on the ground. “Is here good?”

“Yeah, that’s good.” Puck forces Slick to kneel near the edge, one hand yanking Slick’s head back. “See, you may have been K-boy’s boy, but you sent my Finn inside to take the fall for you.”

Finn nods. “Like I said. Everybody’s gotta pay a price.”

Puck unties the bandana around Slick’s head, then pulls the one of Slick’s mouth before tossing both of them on the plastic sheeting. “Never asked anyone if they have any last words before,” Puck says. “You got anything you want to say?”

Slick starts sobbing, but he nods. “It was just so hard,” he says as he cries. “Keeping up all the lies about me and Kurt. I was so tired of lying!”

“Yeah, when I’m tired of lying, I like to add more lies on top of them,” Puck says with a laugh. “You’re a joke. Anything you want to tell the rat before I shoot him, Finn?” Puck pulls out his piece, pressing the muzzle against the back of Slick’s head.

“If you didn’t like lying, you picked the wrong MC,” Finn says. “That’s what we’re good at, blood and lies.”

Puck nods, then pulls the trigger. Blood and brain matter spray the plastic sheeting, then Slick topples forward onto his face, not even twitching. The blood pools under his head. Finn watches a thin stream of blood trickle off the plastic to soak into the gritty dirt. Puck folds the sheeting up around Slick’s body, kicking the dirt around with one foot.

“The fish’ll start eating him,” Puck says. “We’ll tape a couple of those big rocks to him, as long as no one’s on top of the reservoir.”

Finn nods, watching Puck wrap the plastic around Slick’s body. “Yeah.”

Puck picks up Slick’s plastic-wrapped body, heading out of the trees towards the water with a cautious look around. There’s no one walking on top of the reservoir, and Puck pulls out the tape to attach several rocks to the outside of the sheeting. He lifts Slick’s body again and tosses it out as far as he can, watching it sink down.

“That’s done,” Puck says, but he doesn’t move. Finn steps close to Puck, putting an arm around Puck’s waist.

“Yeah,” Finn says. “It’s done.”

Puck leans against Finn, one hand on Finn’s shoulder. “I guess we need to let Burt know,” Puck says quietly. “Then home?”

“Yeah. I’ll call Burt,” Finn says.

“Okay.” Puck shifts just enough to kiss Finn, softly at first, then harder. Finn turns towards Puck and puts his other arm around Puck’s waist. Puck keeps kissing him, sloppier and harder, for at least a full minute before pulling back. “Okay.”

“Yeah,” Finn says. “Let’s go home.”

He's been home a year, and to commemorate the day, Rachel throws a coffee mug at him during breakfast. It shatters against the wall just to the left of Finn’s head, spraying him with coffee and ceramic shards that Puck’ll end up picking out of Finn’s neck and shoulders later that day. Finn’s only reaction in the moment is to get up, pull on a clean t-shirt, put on his cut, and leave on his bike. No way is Puck up yet, since he isn’t working that day, and the quiet of the empty clubhouse sounds like the best second choice.

Finn makes a fresh pot of coffee in the clubhouse’s little kitchen, drinking a cup with a generous splash of Kahlua. The fans whir overhead, circulating the stale air in a soft ripple without making any change to the already-chilly temperature. Because Finn didn’t turn on any lights but the one in the kitchen, the only light at the bar is what filters in dimly between the wooden blinds covering the high windows. It feels safe and peaceful, like being in a womb that smells like old beer and stripper pussy.

He’s into his second cup of coffee when he hears a muffled noise coming from the back of the club, like someone crying into a pillow or something. Finn stands and walks towards the back, listening. He hears it again, this time recognizing it as Kurt’s voice, like the sound of him crying while trying not to cry, like he did when he was little and got hurt. The sound is coming from the back room, where they keep a fold-out couch if somebody has to crash.

Finn walks down the short hallway, past the bathroom. The back room’s door is slightly cracked, the lights in the room off, and Finn can see that Kurt is in there, but he’s definitely not crying. Slick, newly patched-in, is face down on the not-folded-out fold-out, his face pressed down into a pillow, some of the fabric between his teeth. His jeans are around his ankles. Kurt is behind Slick, moving his lower body, his teeth buried in his own bottom lip, his jeans and belt discarded on the floor.

It takes a few seconds for what Finn is seeing to come together in way that makes sense, but then it does, making Finn take a shocked step back. They’re fucking. Suddenly Slick releases the pillow and yells out once, his eyes closed.

Finn quickly turns and walks back to the bar, sitting down in front of his cup of coffee again, feeling slightly dizzy. All the shit he’s gone through with Puck, since they were just kids, and now Kurt’s walking the same road, but without Kurt or Slick having the sense to keep it out of the clubhouse or lock the doors.

Puck always talked about how dangerous it was, how they had to be smart, but it never really hit Finn before, how dangerous it really was. What if Burt had found them? What if it were Tugboat, who beat his own kid so badly that the kid’s mom left town with him, over a suspicion based on nothing more than some comics the kid was reading?

Finn feels sick as he finishes his coffee, and he leaves the mug sitting on the counter as he walks out of the club, leaving his bike parked and walking over to Puck’s. He bangs on Puck’s apartment door with his fist. It takes a little longer than usual for Puck to answer the door, still shirtless and rubbing his eyes.

“What’s wrong?” Puck asks, squinting at Finn. “You look like you’ve seen a real-life horror flick or something.”

Finn shakes his head. “Lemme in, okay?”

“Yeah, okay,” Puck says, stepping back and holding the door open. “Nobody’s sick?”

Finn shakes his head again. “Nah. Rachel threw a coffee cup at me, though. I think I’ve still got pieces in my neck and back.”

Puck rolls his eyes as he shuts the door. “Sit down, I’ll get ’em out,” he says. “Did you get any coffee?”

“Yeah, but I can wait if you need some. I could actually use a drink, if you’ve got one.”

“Yeah, you know me, got rid of all the booze,” Puck says with a snort, walking around the counter into the kitchen. “You’re not that shaken up over a coffee cup, though.”

“Well the little pieces stabbing me in the neck don’t feel so great, either,” Finn says.

“Uh-huh.” Puck doesn’t say anything else until he comes back around the counter with a glass of bourbon in one hand and his coffee mug in the other. “Here,” he says, handing Finn the bourbon and sitting down behind him. “Hope it wasn’t a favorite mug.”

“Thanks,” Finn says, taking the glass. “Nah, just a plain mug.”

“I’d be pissed if someone threw one of mine, but none of mine are plain,” Puck says. He sets down his mug on the coffee table and gingerly touches the back of Finn’s neck. “Ready?”

“Yeah.” Finn grits his teeth while Puck quickly plucks out the shards of mug, one after the other, dropping them on the coffee table.

“A couple of them are bleeding,” Puck says when he finishes. “Not a lot. Bandaid or no?”

“Nah.”

Puck kisses a few places on Finn’s neck instead, very lightly, and runs his tongue over one. “There. Bourbon help with the rest of it?”

Finn nods. “Yeah. Thanks.”

“Sure you don’t want to let go of a little of it?” Puck persists.

Finn huffs a sigh and leans back against Puck. “It’s just… I’m just seeing more and more how you were right.”

Puck slides one hand down Finn’s chest, holding him against him, and eventually, he nods. “You know I love you, right?” he says softly.

“Yeah, I know,” Finn says. He tips his head back to rest it on Puck’s shoulder. “I love you.”

Puck nods again. “I know.” He moves his hand lower on Finn’s chest, then over Finn’s stomach before pressing his hand against Finn’s dick. Finn moans quietly, leaning back against Puck for a moment.

“Puck?” Finn asks in a soft voice.

“Yeah?” Puck says, moving his palm up and down a few times before sliding his hand under Finn’s waistband.

“Why don’t we fuck?”

“What’re you talking about?”

“Since I’ve been back, we haven’t fucked,” Finn says. “I’ve been back for a year, and you haven’t let me fuck you, and you’ve haven’t fucked me, even when I ask.”

Puck doesn’t answer immediately, stroking his hand slowly over Finn’s dick. “My mouth’s not good enough for you now?” he says evenly.

“Don’t do that,” Finn says. “You know it’s not like that. I just want to know why you don’t want to.”

Puck sighs, his hand moving a little faster. “It didn’t end so great the last time, did it?”

“You think I’m gonna leave again?” Finn asks, closing his eyes and lifting his hips to press against Puck’s hand. “Shit, yeah, like that.”

“I think it means something that I’m not sure we can promise right now.”

Finn moans again, quietly. “I would make promises.”

Puck kisses the side of Finn’s head, pressing down harder on Finn’s dick. “So impatient,” he says softly. “So naïve.”

“It’s a promise whether you want it or not,” Finn says. “I mean it. I’m not leaving you again.”

Finn puts his arm around Puck’s shoulders, leaning them both back against the sofa. “You okay?”

“Yeah.” Puck relaxes against Finn. “I guess I thought it’d be a little more satisfying, you know? But it didn’t erase anything.”

“Nope. All it did was get rid of the rat,” Finn says.

Puck takes a drink of his beer as he nods, silent for a few moments. “You’ve said that before,” he says. “About blood and lies.”

Finn nods. “Yeah. It’s something I read. Pretty true, I’ve found.”

“Where’d you read it?”

“My dad wrote it. He— hang on.” Finn stands and walks over to the coat tree, pulling his dad’s letter out of one of the inside pockets of his cut. He sits back down next to Puck and hands him the letter. “Here.”

“You sure?” Puck asks as he unfolds it.

“Yeah. Go on.”

“Okay,” Puck says softly, looking down at the letter and starting to read.

“You never asked me why I left,” Finn says. “Big Paul gave me this, a little before I turned eighteen. My dad gave it to him. It’s how I knew he hadn’t OD’d.” He watches Puck’s eyes moving across the paper. “I guess I got it in my head that I could do what he couldn’t do, get out, be free. It was stupid. Of course I couldn’t get out. I was always gonna end up back here in Lima, in the MC.”

“Your mom didn’t leave,” Puck says slowly. “I can’t exactly be sorry for that, but… she didn’t leave.”

“No. She just made up a lie to explain where Kit’d gone. Guess she didn’t want to be free, either. She said he was a coward. Guess I ain’t that much better.”

Puck frowns, looking at the letter again. “Or she was. Too scared to leave what she knew.” Puck refolds the letter, handing it to Finn. “Your heart’s not hard.”

“Hard enough,” Finn says. He walks back to his cut and tucks the letter inside, before returning to the sofa.

“Is it?”

“I left you, didn’t talk to you for years. I married a woman I didn’t love, made her miserable for years. And I was just a party to killing my brother’s lover,” Finn says. “I’d say it’s pretty hard.”

Puck stares at Finn’s face for a long time. “Interesting choices,” he finally says. “Almost like you picked things you feel bad about.”

“Yeah, but I still did them.”

“And me?” Puck asks quietly. “Mine too hard?”

“Maybe. This is what we are. Our hearts are the same,” Finn says.

“So what would you change?”

“It’s too late to change anything. I’m back here where I belong. I’m with you,” Finn says. “That’s enough.”

“You weren’t ever okay with the secret before,” Puck says.

Finn shrugs. “You’re the one who told me I was naïve and impatient.”

“’Cause we were seventeen, yeah.”

“Yeah, and now we’re everything we always wanted to be, and I’m telling you, it’s enough. It’s not what I wanted when I was seventeen, and it’s not perfect, but what fucking is? At least we’re honest with each other. We’ve got the club.”

Puck frowns. “How did patience become giving up?”

“I’m not giving up,” Finn says. “Burt’ll hand the club over to me eventually. We can do things differently then. Until that happens, I’m not gonna make myself crazy wanting it to be different, and I’m not going to put either of us in a situation where somebody else can fuck us over.”

Puck kisses Finn, pushing him back and straddling him. “But I don’t know what you do want.”

“I just want you,” Finn says.

“You got me.” Puck kisses Finn again, then pulls back with an odd expression on his face. “All you gotta do is ask.”

“Yeah?” Finn says. “I can ask for anything?”

“Anything except castration.”

Finn laughs. “Nah. Kinda the opposite. I want you to fuck me.”

“Yeah? Right now?”

“Yeah. I want you. I want you to fuck me right now, in your shithole apartment,” Finn says.

Puck laughs and grabs Finn’s hand, standing up. “Okay, but on the bed in the shithole apartment, yeah?”

“Yeah. This sofa’s a piece of shit.”

“Too short,” Puck says, pulling Finn with him to the bedroom. “When are you going to just move in already?”

“I haven’t sold the house yet. You could move in there,” Finn says.

“Never know where we want to be in a couple of years. Apartment’s flexible,” Puck says. He stops in the middle of the floor, pulling Finn’s t-shirt over his head and throwing it in the floor. “I should get some more ink.”

“Yeah?” Finn asks, reaching for the front of Puck’s jeans. “What this time?”

“I don’t know yet. Maybe a shark. Or a killer whale.”

“Why?” Finn unzips Puck’s jeans and shoves them down his hips.

“Ever think about how big the ocean is? Killer whales swim something like thousands of miles. That’s gotta be cool,” Puck says. He runs his hands over Finn’s chest a few times and then starts to unfasten Finn’s jeans.

“Yeah, that is cool.” Finn pulls Puck’s shirt over his head. “You want to swim thousands of miles? I thought you liked it here.”

“Maybe no swimming for me personally. More of a land mammal,” Puck says, tugging Finn’s jeans and underwear down. “You still sure?”

“Sure about what? That I want you to fuck me? Yeah.”

Puck pulls Finn against him, kissing him hard before moving his mouth to Finn’s neck and chest. “How do you want it?” Puck asks, putting his lips against Finn’s ear. “Do you want me looking at you, watching your face? Or do you want me behind you, fucking you even harder?”

“Just want you in me,” Finn says. He reaches down and takes Puck’s dick in his hand, stroking him roughly. “Don’t care how.”

“You trying to tell me you never thought about it?” Puck says disbelievingly, walking them slowly toward the bed before pushing Finn down.

“Oh, I thought about it, but I thought about it every way.”

“Sure.” Puck keeps moving them until Finn’s on his back in the middle of the bed, Puck above him. “And never had any favorites?”

“All of ’em,” Finn says. He pulls Puck down with a hand on the back of his neck, kissing him hard. Puck kisses back just as hard, putting one hand in Finn’s hair, and he pulls back with a gasp.

“Flip over,” Puck says.

“Yeah, that one’s one of my favorites, too,” Finn says, flipping over onto his stomach, his dick hard and pressing against the bed.

“Yeah.” Puck slides his hands over Finn’s ass before he kisses one side, then the other. He nips at Finn’s skin, barely biting down and pulling up a little.

Finn yelps. “Hey!”

“You don’t like that?” Puck asks, doing it a second time.

“You’re biting my ass!”

“That wasn’t actually an answer.” Puck licks the same spot he just bit.

“Nope,” Finn says. “Sure wasn’t.”

“Now I just don’t know what to do,” Puck says, moving his mouth to the other side of Finn’s ass and licking before nipping at the skin there.

Finn yelps again, then laughs. “Yeah, I think you know what to do.”

“Yeah?” Puck squeezes Finn’s hips with his hand, biting down and pulling up with a little shake of his head. “You think so?”

“I know so,” Finn says. “You know what I want.”

“Yep.” Puck nips at Finn’s ass a few more times, then licks up Finn’s back, pressing his weight down on Finn and his dick against Finn’s ass. “Is your dick hurting, like it’s gonna explode?”

“If I say yes, are you gonna be a fuckhead about it and make me wait?”

“I’m a fuckhead either way, but if you say no, I guess I’ll have to go back to biting your ass or something,” Puck says, talking with his lips hovering over Finn’s neck.

“Then yeah, it is. You want to do something about it?” Finn asks. He lifts his hips off the bed a little, pressing his ass against Puck’s dick.

“That’s the plan.” Puck’s weight shifts as he leans to the side, and the lid on the lube clicks. “We should get a pump or something, this thing’s sticky as hell.”

“We can drive up to Findlay and buy a couple different ones, see which works the best.”

“Yeah, good idea.” Puck kisses the back of Finn’s neck for a few seconds before slowly pushing one finger into Finn’s asshole. “You good?”

“Uh-huh.” Finn rocks back onto Puck’s finger. “More’s good, too.”

“Aww, d’you forget the part where I’m a fuckhead?” Puck asks with a laugh. He moves his finger deeper, still slowly. “Don’t want to rush.”

Finn closes his eyes and concentrates on the way Puck’s finger feels inside him, a little intrusive, but good at the same time. “You could rush a little.”

“Yeah, there’s my impatient Finn,” Puck says, almost tenderly, and he pushes a second finger into Finn. Finn breathes in sharply, gathering up some of Puck’s blanket in his hand to grip.

“Yeah. That’s me,” Finn says.

“Most of the time.” Puck slides his fingers almost completely out of Finn before pushing them back in again, moving faster than he had with just one. “How impatient are you feeling?”

“A lot impatient right now,” Finn says. “So, you know, any time now is good.”

Puck laughs, and he kisses the back of Finn’s neck again before the lube bottle lid clicks again and he removes his fingers. “Pull your legs up.”

Finn moves on bed, bringing his knees closer to his chest and raising his ass. Puck squeezes his ass, almost pinching, then nudges his dick against Finn’s asshole for a few seconds before grabbing Finn’s hips and starting to push inside.

“Okay?”

“Yeah,” Finn says, his voice breathy and a little thin. “Fuck.”

“That’s the idea.” Puck pushes in deeper, his fingers digging into Finn’s skin. “You want it hard and fast, or hard and slow?”

“Fast, I think. I want a lot. I want all of it,” Finn says.

“Yeah? Like this?” Puck’s hips jerk forward and his dick pushes completely inside Finn.

“Oh, fuck!” Finn grips the blanket with both hands. “Yeah. Fuck. That.”

Puck doesn’t ask again, immediately starting to fuck Finn just like he said, hard and fast, his hands holding Finn in place. “Shit, you’re so tight,” Puck says, a little breathlessly.

“Yeah, well, your dick’s in my ass,” Finn says.

“I must not be fucking you hard enough,” Puck says, moving faster. “Jackass.”

Finn lets out a yelpy moan and rocks back towards Puck. “Fuck, yeah, like that, just like that, that’s good.”

“Yeah, you like it,” Puck says. He moves one hand under Finn, grabbing Finn’s dick almost too tightly and stroking up and down fast. Finn yelps again, bucking under Puck so that he’s slamming himself back onto Puck’s dick. After a few rough strokes from Puck, Finn comes so hard it almost hurts.

Puck thrusts into Finn hard for a few more moments, then comes, yelling out and collapsing on top of Finn’s back. Finn lets Puck’s weight press him flat against the bed. Puck lies there for several minutes before slowly rolling off Finn, still pressed against his side.

“Hey, shithead?” Puck mumbles.

“Yeah?”

“I mean it.” Puck is quiet for a few seconds. “Just gotta ask.”

“Gotta ask what?” Finn says. He closes his eyes, resting his head against the mattress.

Puck kisses Finn’s cheek. “Anything.”

“Mmhmm.” Finn rolls, grabbing Puck around the waist and hauling him onto the bed next to Finn so their arms and legs are tangled together. “Already got what I really want.”

Puck squirms a little, like he’s trying to burrow in against Finn. “When you think of something else, just let me know.”

Finn sighs and wraps his arms around Puck, feeling peaceful, calm. “What else is there?”

“Just you and me.”

“I hate to ask you this, but would it possible to borrow some money,” Kurt asks. He looks embarrassed, shifting foot to foot uncomfortably.

“Probably, how much you need?” Finn asks. “The bike shop not doing well?”

“No, it’s fine. It’s just that most of my money is tied up in the shop, and I can’t get cash in hand quickly. I’ll pay it back as quickly as I can,” Kurt says.

“So you need, what, couple hundred?” Finn asks.

Kurt’s face reddens and he presses his lips together for a moment before sighing softly. “More like a thousand. If that’s too much, I can talk to Dad and—”

“Nah, don’t worry about it. I can swing that. Give me an hour or so, and I’ll bring it by your shop?” Finn says.

“Thank you!” Kurt says. “I really appreciate it.”

“No problem, Kurtie-boy,” Finn says, grinning because Kurt can’t exactly tell him not to call him that in the same conversation Finn agreed to loan him a thousand bucks.

Finn breaks for lunch, lets Carole know he’ll be back in a few, then rides to the bank to pull out the cash for Kurt. When he walks into the bike shop, though, Slick is the one at the counter, and Kurt is nowhere in sight.

“Hey, Slick. Kurtie-boy around?” Finn asks.

“You know he doesn’t like that,” Slick says. “He’s in the back working on a bike. You can head back there.”

“Thanks,” Finn says, walking past the counter and into the back of the shop, where Kurt is assembling an engine next to the frame of a bike. “Sweet. Indian Chief?”

Kurt nods. “Yeah, ’47. Combo of original and replica parts.”

“Looks good,” Finn says. He pulls the envelope of cash out of his pocket and hands it to Kurt. “Here.”

“Thank you,” Kurt says, putting down his tools to take the cash and then give Finn a hard one-armed hug.

“Like I said, not a problem. Is everything okay?” Finn asks.

Kurt nods. “It will be. It will all be fine. Just a little bump in the road.”

“Yeah, I know how that is,” Finn says. “I have to head back over, so I’ll see you at the club tonight?”

“We’ll be there,” Kurt says, apparently not realizing that he uses ‘we’ way too much, when talking about himself and Slick. Puck always told Finn, go easy on the ‘we’.

When Finn walks back in through the first bay door of the automotive shop, Puck is standing near the tool chest. “Everything okay with K-boy?” Puck asks relatively quietly.

“Yeah, it’s all cool,” Finn says. “He needed me to front him a little cash, is all.”

“His shop doing okay?” Puck asks.

“Yeah, he just doesn’t have a lot of freed-up cash, I guess.”

Puck nods. “Yeah, I guess that makes sense. Everything else good?”

“Yeah, everything’s fine,” Finn says.

“Okay, cool,” Puck says. “Let me know if I need to do anything.”

“Okay. He didn’t say what he needed it for or anything.”

Puck laughs a little. “Maybe he knocked someone else’s girl up, needs her to take care of it off the books.”

Finn doesn’t laugh. “No. Pretty sure that’s not it.”

Puck gives Finn a weird look. “You seem really sure about that.”

“Yeah,” Finn says. “I’m sure.”

“Ooookay,” Puck says with a small shrug. “Back to work?”

“Yeah. We’ve got a shipment coming in between two and four, so I want to get this truck out of here before then,” Finn says.

Puck grins. “And if the shipment comes in early, we can have a drink even earlier.”

Finn and Puck are drinking their coffee in the morning when Finn’s phone rings. Finn recognizes Kurt’s number and puts the phone to his ear. “Hey, Kurt.”

“Finn, honey, this is Tessie,” Tessie’s voice says. “K-boy’s out here at the Strip and he’s… well, I just think you’d better get over here. He’s not doing so hot.”

“Okay, Tessie. Thanks. We’ll head over in a minute,” Finn says. He shoves his phone into his pocket before turning to Puck. “Kurtie-boy’s at the Landing Strip.”

Puck winces. “We can bring him back here.”

“Yeah. She said he’s not doing great,” Finn says. He stands, pulling on his boots and his cut.

“Wouldn’t expect otherwise,” Puck admits, taking their mugs into the kitchen. “Knowing it has to be done and living with it aren’t always the same thing.”

“Yeah.”

They get on their bikes and ride over to the Strip. Kurt’s bike is parked in a spot out front, along with only two cars. The dancer on stage when they walk in is a small redhead dressed like a French maid. Exactly three men, split between two tables, watch her gyrating. Kurt isn’t in the main room.

Tessie must see them come in, because she’s next to Finn before he even realized she was walking to them. “Hi, Finn. Hi, baby. Luch has K-boy in the back in her dressing room. He’s in a real bad way.” She shakes her head sadly. “If I’d’ve realized, I woulda had Tisha cut him off, but the girls are all so used to the club, none of ’em even thought to tell him he’d had enough.”

“Maybe it’s better you didn’t,” Puck says. “Thanks, Mom. We’ll get him out of here.”

“Yeah, thanks, Tessie.” Finn gives her a kiss on the cheek. “You’re the best.”

“Oh, you!” Tessie says, swatting Finn on the butt. Finn gives her the best smile he can muster, then he and Puck follow her into the backstage area, walking towards the door Tessie points out to them. Finn taps lightly on the door. It opens just a crack, Lauren’s face visible in the space.

“Oh thank fuck,” she says, opening the door wider. Kurt is sprawled across an old floral-print sofa against one wall, a mostly-empty bottle of gin in one hand. He doesn’t look up when Finn and Puck come in, but Finn can hear him mumbling something, so he’s alive and at least quasi-awake, at least.

“He puked yet?” Puck asks Lauren quietly.

“Yeah, when he started the bottle,” Lauren says. “I got him a bag and then let him keep going. Figured it might be better if he drank until he passed out. He was saying some stuff.”

“Come on, Kurtie-boy,” Finn says. He reaches down to loop an arm around Kurt’s ribs, under his arms, and tries to pull Kurt up onto his feet. Kurt’s only response is to grip the bottle of gin tighter and continue mumbling.

“Yeah, probably so,” Puck says to Lauren. “Thanks.” He steps to Kurt’s other side, pushing him at least somewhat upright. “On three?”

“Yeah,” Finn says. They count to three and successfully pull Kurt onto his feet. He’s noodly and staggering, but they’re able to keep him moving towards the door, walking him out of the backstage area and through the Strip. Finn gives Tessie a nod as they pass her. Once they have Kurt out to the bikes, Finn frowns. “How are we getting him back?”

“Prop him up behind you and I can grab some rope, tie him on. It’s not far. No one’s going to touch his bike,” Puck says. “Maybe it’s better if people think he’s here.”

“Yeah. Okay, see if you can get him to stay on behind me,” Finn says. First, he takes the bottle of gin out of Kurt’s hand, setting it on the ground, then he sits on his bike, helping Puck maneuver Kurt onto the seat. “Kurt. You might wanna hang on to me.” Kurt mumbles again and flops forward, his face smooshed against Finn’s back and his arms sort of wrapped around Finn’s waist. “Yeah, rope for sure.”

Puck frowns. “Yeah.” He moves Kurt’s arms and then steps over to his bike, pulling out some rope. “Legs and chest, you think?”

“Yeah. Just get him on there good,” Finns ays.

“Okay.” Puck ties their left legs together first, then the right legs before wrapping rope under Kurt’s arms and across Finn’s chest. When he finishes, he tugs on Kurt a little and nods. “Okay. We’re not going far so it should be okay. You want me to clear the way or spot behind you?”

“Clear. If you see a cop, you can take us a different route. I don’t feel like explaining.”

“Yeah, not even to a friendly one,” Puck agrees. He steps over to his bike and starts it up, pulling out of the Landing Strip parking lot slowly before stopping at Baxter. They go the wrong way one block down Baxter before turning onto Richie, still going slowly as they pull up in front of the apartment building. “Okay, I’m going to cut his legs free first.”

Finn holds Kurt by the arms wrapped around Finn’s waist as Puck cuts the rope on Kurt’s legs, then around his middle. Once Kurt is loose, Finn gets off the bike, and he and Puck pull Kurt onto his feet again.

“Uh-uh. Don’ wanna,” Kurt mumbles.

“Sorry, Kurtie-boy, but you gotta,” Finn says. “Come on, up the stairs, brother.” Together, Finn and Puck mostly-drag Kurt up the stairs, where Puck unlocks the door and swings it open. Finn hauls Kurt to the sofa and drops him carefully on the end, so he can flop over the arm.

“He’s dead,” Kurt says, his throat constricting around the words. “He’s dead.” He rubs his face against the sofa’s arm, moaning pitifully.

“I’ll get him some water,” Puck says quietly to Finn. “If he can drink a little and then pass out again, it might be best.”

“Grab the trash can or a fresh trash bag, too. Place smells bad enough without Kurtie-boy puking all over it,” Finn says.

“Yeah.” Puck goes into the kitchen, getting out three glasses, but he only fills one with water. The other two each get about a shot of vodka, and Puck carries all three to the coffee table. “Kurtie-boy, we need you to drink some water.”

Kurt shakes his head, scrubbing his face against the sofa’s arm. “Uh-uh.”

“Yeah, sit up,” Finn says. He sits next to Kurt and positions him into a mostly-upright position. Kurt’s face is red and wet. When Puck holds the glass’s mouth, he does at least swallow the water, coughing a little when the glass is nearly empty.

“’M tired,” Kurt mutters. “So tired.”

“You can sleep now. One of us’ll be here,” Puck says.

Kurt slumps over the sofa arm again, sniffling quietly. “You killed him.”

Finn looks up at Puck, then back down at Kurt. He pats Kurt’s back in a small circle. “Had to be done, Kurtie-boy. That’s just how it works.” Kurt doesn’t respond, and Finn realizes he’s either fallen asleep or passed out, drooling against the sofa. Finn exhales loudly. “Shit. Just shit, Puck.”

“This is fucked up,” Puck says, grabbing one of the glasses with vodka and drinking it fast. “From the moment Slick opened his mouth, this was going to happen, and he doesn’t have to deal with the fallout.”

“We should’ve taken better care of Kurtie-boy,” Finn says. He ruffles Kurt’s hair, then smoothes it down again, stroking it a few times.

“Lot of things we didn’t know soon enough.” Puck pulls out a pack of cigarettes and takes one, offering the pack to Finn. Finn takes it and gets himself a cigarette, lighting it and then holding the lit lighter out for Puck to light his. Puck does, taking a long drag. “Maybe your dad was right.”

Finn keeps stroking Kurt’s hair as he smokes his cigarette. “Yeah. Maybe so.”

“They’re gonna figure out about K-boy and Slick.”

Finn nods. “Don’t know how they wouldn’t, at this point. K-boy can’t handle it.”

“Why does it feel more precarious than before we knew who the rat was?”

“’Cause we didn’t know then how much it was all gonna fall apart when we found out,” Finn says. “We didn’t think it through to its natural end. Now we’re staring it in the face.”

Puck smokes his cigarette in silence, lighting a second one as he puts out the first. “Do you want that patch?”

Finn exhales slowly, watching the smoke spiral up to the waterstained ceiling. “Feels like the only choice at this point. Only choice for me and you, only choice for Kurtie-boy.”

“Not the same as wanting it.”

“You’re what I want,” Finn says. “Prez patch is the best way to keep that safe.”

“Maybe. Maybe so,” Puck says. He stands up and walks into the kitchen, opening one of the cabinets and pulling out a basket that he rifles through before walking back to sit beside Finn. “One more piece of information you should have.”

“Yeah?” Finn asks. He stubs out his cigarette and picks up the glass of vodka, drinking it.

Puck unfolds the paper in his hand. “If we need it for whatever reason,” he says, setting it down on the coffee table and tapping his finger on a number at the top. Finn’s eyes widen as he looks at the bank statement and the six-figure balance.

“Shit. That’s yours?” Finn asks.

“All my legitimate money. Landlord likes when I pay him cash.”

“Damn. You could get a nice place, pay for it outright,” Finn says. “Why are you still in this shithole?”

Puck snorts and raises an eyebrow. “I could ask you the same thing.”

“I’m in this shithole ’cause you’re in this shithole,” Finn says.

“Right back at you, shithead,” Puck says, shaking his head.

Finn’s about to lean forward to kiss Puck when Kurt groans and then starts to dry-heave. “Shit, hand me the can!” Finn says. Puck hands it to him, and he holds it in front of Kurt, helping Kurt sit up so he can start violently puking into the can. Finn pats Kurt’s back with his free hand while Kurt keeps puking.

“Get it out, K-boy,” Puck says, standing up and refilling Kurt’s water glass.

Kurt continues to retch into the can, letting out broken-sounding sobs in between rounds. Finn keeps holding the can and patting Kurt until the puking stops, though Kurt continues crying. His voice sounds like it’s been raked across shattered glass.

“He dead,” Kurt sobs. “He’s dead. You killed him. You killed him and he’s dead.”

“Drink some water, Kurtie-boy,” Finn says. Puck hands the glass to Kurt, who takes it and obediently drinks the water. Finn takes the empty glass from Kurt’s hands and puts it on the table.

“It hurts,” Puck says. “He hurt the club, and he hurt you the worst. Just sleep, Kurtie-boy.”

Finn lowers Kurt back against the sofa, where his eyes flutter closed almost immediately. Finn keeps a hand on Kurt’s shoulder until his breathing becomes slow and deep.

“We’re going to have to get him up to make an appearance later,” Puck says quietly.

“I don’t know if that’s a good idea,” Finn says. “I’m not sure he’s gonna be able to keep his mouth shut, Puck. He’s gonna end up saying something stupid.”

“Damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t. One of us needs to go to work, too.”

“You go. I’ll watch over him,” Finn says.

“Okay.” Puck stands up and refills Kurt’s water glass, then puts the bottle of vodka on the coffee table, too. “Call me if you need me.”

“We’ll be fine.”

“You can still call me.” Puck leans over and kisses Finn. “I’ll see you at lunch.”

“Yeah,” Finn says. “I love you.”

“Love you too.”

It’s gotten to where, if he sees Kurt and Slick’s bikes parked outside the club, Finn’ll sit at the bar, an unofficial lookout with a bottle of Jack at 8am. By the time it’s been going on for at least a year, he actually kind of enjoys the quiet mornings alone—well, “alone”—in the club, especially since whatever sounds they make back there are muffled, if he hears anything at all. Finn keeps a few paperbacks stashed under the bar to read while he drinks and makes sure nobody’s going to surprise Kurt or cause any trouble.

One morning, though, as Finn is reading through a sci-fi book he got for fifty cents at the Goodwill, he does hear loud noises from the back, though thankfully, it sounds more like fighting than fucking. The voices get louder as Kurt and Slick move from the back room into the main clubhouse, apparently not noting Finn with his book and drink, parked at the end of the bar.

“I just need a little more!” Slick yells.

“Well, I can’t give you more,” Kurt says. “There isn’t any more!”

“You could sell the Knucklehead!”

Finn’s eyes widen. Being in the MC means you’d do anything for a brother, but selling your bike, especially when you’ve rebuilt it from the ground up like Kurt did with his ’36 Knucklehead, isn’t something a brother would ever ask another brother to do. Finn wouldn’t ask Puck to sell his bike if he needed a kidney replacement.

“You’re crazy. I’m not selling my bike!” Kurt says, sounding furious now.

“But there isn’t enough!” Slick yells, his voice a combination of anger and desperation.

“I thought all you needed was another few hundred. I gave you that. How do you still owe them anything?”

Slick clenches his jaw and thrusts out his chin. “I needed more.”

“Well, I can’t give you any more. I’ve already had to ask Finn and my dad, and that’s on top of borrowing against the shop,” Kurt says. “There isn’t anything else to give you. You’ve got to stop. You have to tell them you don’t have anything else.”

“I can’t do that! They need the money,” Slick says even more desperately. “I have to pay them.”

“I don’t understand how you got in so deep,” Kurt says. “I don’t—”

Finn clears his throat, because he’s already full-up on personal information about Kurt and Slick. Kurt jumps and turns around, looking startled to see Finn sitting there. Slick freezes and his face turns almost white.

“Just reading a book,” Finn says, lifting his paperback.

“You didn’t hear any of this. Right?” Slick says, his words coming out too fast.

“Nope,” Finn says, looking back down at his book. “Didn’t even realize you guys were here.”

“Finn,” Kurt begins.

“Don’t worry about it. Lost in my book and morning Jack,” Finn says.

“We’ll go,” Slick says. “Go to work. Time to go to work.”

“Just shut up,” Kurt hisses at him. Slick looks wounded, but he stops talking and stops looking pleadingly at Finn.

“Yeah, I’ll be heading over to the shop in just a minute,” Finn says. “Nice seeing you guys.”

“You, too,” Kurt says, heading towards the door without looking over at Slick. Slick follows him, staring at the ground.

Finn doesn’t immediately get up and head to the shop, though. He puts down his book and drinks his Jack, and tries to somehow both forget and make sense of what he’s heard. At least he knows now where the money he loaned Kurt had gone.

Five minutes after Finn should have been in the shop, the door opens and Puck walks in. “What’s going on?” Puck says, leaning on the bar opposite Finn.

“Money shit,” Finn says. “Not my money. Kurtie-boy and Slick, something about the bike shop. I don’t know.”

“That why you come in here some mornings?”

“Kinda.”

“Need me to do anything?” Puck asks.

“Loan me some money?” Finn asks. “You know I’ll get it back to you quick. I thought I’d slide Kurt a little, help him get through the rough patch, you know?”

“You know I’d loan you money, but you already gave K-boy some cash before,” Puck says. “Now you’re telling me that didn’t help.”

“Not enough, I guess. I’m just worried about him. I don’t want him getting in any trouble,” Finn says.

“Yeah. Okay. I’ll go by the credit union at lunch. How much?”

“Few hundred? I’ve got a couple hundred in cash on me, but that’s all I can get out right now.”

“Sure, yeah, I can do that easy,” Puck says. “Wanna tell me the rest of the reason you’re in here sometimes?”

Finn shakes his head. “Not entirely my business to tell.”

Puck raises an eyebrow and then shakes his head a few times. “Okay. You know where to find me. Ready to take on a series of Japanese imports?”

“Ready as I’m gonna be.”

Puck laughs and picks up Finn’s bottle of Jack to take a swig, then puts it down and thumps Finn’s shoulder. “I hear you on that.”

Kurt sleeps for several hours, sometimes crying or mumbling in his sleep, and Finn sits next to him on the sofa, smoking cigarette after cigarette, keeping vigil. Puck shows up at around noon with a burger for Finn, but he doesn’t stay. Kurt continues his fitful sleeping until close to four, when he finally sits up, licking his dry lips and squinting at the light.

“Hey, Kurtie-boy,” Finn says quietly. “You feel a little better now?”

“I feel like shit,” Kurt says.

“Yeah, figured you might. Hang on and I’ll get you some water.”

Kurt nods, wincing, and Finn takes Kurt’s water glass into the kitchen, filling it up. He also grabs the bottle of ibuprofen out of the cabinet, bringing the glass and the bottle back to the living room for Kurt. Finn doles out four of the ibuprofen, which Kurt swallows without complaint.

“We probably need to head over to the clubhouse,” Finn says.

“You go. I don’t want to see anybody.”

Finn shakes his head. “Kurtie-boy, you know it can’t go like that. You’ve gotta put in some face time, before people start getting the wrong idea.”

Kurt stares down into the empty glass in his hands. “The wrong idea?” he repeats. “I think you mean the right idea.”

“No, I don’t mean that,” Finn says. “First thing they’re gonna wonder isn’t were you and Slick fucking. The first thing they’re gonna ask is were you working with Slick and do they need to be suspicious of you, too. Finding out about you and Slick like that, that’s not gonna make ’em any less suspicious.”

“What if I don’t care?” Kurt asks.

“I think you do care,” Finn says. He takes the glass from Kurt and sets it on the table. “Go wash your face and swish a little toothpaste around in your mouth or something, alright?” He waits for Kurt to nod before helping Kurt to his feet and giving him a gentle shove in the direction of the bathroom.

Once Kurt comes out, looking a little less like a dead man walking, Finn tugs him towards the door. “Come on. We’ll go by the Strip to get your bike.”

Kurt follows without argument, sitting behind Finn on the bike as they ride to the Strip. There, Kurt starts his own bike and follows Finn back over to the clubhouse, parking his bike next to Finn’s. Puck steps outside just a few seconds later, walking over to them.

“There’s some mumbling,” Puck says quietly to Finn. “It’s good he’s here.”

“Anything specific?” Finn asks.

“Not too much. Big Paul was saying maybe prospects and sponsors shouldn’t work together.”

“So they’re thinking too close, but not too close?”

Puck nods. “Not where anyone’s thoughts go first thing, I guess.” He turns to Kurt. “You can do this, K-boy.”

“Yeah,” Kurt says. His nod is almost automatic, more like he’s doing what he’s supposed to than like he’s actually putting thought into it.

“Let’s get you sat down, at least,” Finn says. He steers Kurt into the clubhouse with a hand on one of Kurt’s shoulders, Puck right behind them. When they walk in, everybody but Burt and Tug are in the main room, either seated at the bar with a drink or in the leather chairs towards the back. They all look up at Finn, Kurt, and Puck, the room going quiet.

“You a’ight, K-boy?” Bad Road asks, breaking the silence. Kurt nods his robot-nod.

“Mayhem vote’s not something K-boy expected to come up,” Puck says. “Me either, really.”

“Vote like that’s never easy, not that it should be,” Big Paul says. “Of course there’s bound to be some hard feelings surrounding it.” Another robot-nod from Kurt.

“Don’t blame yourself, K-boy. We all voted to patch him in,” Artie say.

“I don’t,” Kurt says quietly.

“Whatcha say, K-boy?” Bad Road asks.

“I don’t blame myself,” Kurt says, more loudly. “I blame the person who put the bullet in him.”

Puck barely flinches, probably not enough for most of the club to notice it, and there’s a few exclamations, most of them shaking their heads. “He put it in himself,” Little Dave says calmly.

“Let’s get you a drink,” Finn says, probably a little too loudly. He steers Kurt to a seat at the bar and sits him down on it, then goes behind the bar to start pouring things into a cup for Kurt, some pop and a couple shots of rum, plus some lime juice. He puts the cup in front of Kurt. “Drink it and shut your mouth,” Finn whispers to him. “You’re gonna get yourself in trouble.”

Kurt does drink, lifting the cup mechanically. His eyes have a glassy look to them. Finn glances over at Puck, who is frowning, glancing between Kurt and the bottle of rum. “I don’t know what we do,” Puck whispers.

“I don’t either,” Finn says. “If he keeps talking like that, he may as well go dig himself a hole.”

“I’m worried that’s what he wants,” Puck admits, grabbing two glasses and then raising the bottle of rum questioningly. Finn nods. Puck pours them each some rum, skipping the pop, and slides one glass to Finn. Finn takes his glass and walks back around the bar, standing next to Puck.

“Maybe making him come to the clubhouse was a bad idea,” Finn says quietly, looking around the room at the guarded expressions on the faces.

“Maybe I should have taken Slick out without a vote,” Puck counters. “I could have made it look like armed robbery or something.”

“So you could be the one on the wrong end of a Mayhem vote? No.”

Puck sighs. “I think that—” He stops, cutting himself off and looking surprised. “Maybe we just get him drunk again and let him sleep more?”

“Yeah, if that’ll stop him from running his fool mouth,” Finn says. “He’s gonna end up—”

“Where’s his cut?” Kurt suddenly says, his voice raised and rough.

“What, Kurtie-boy?” Finn asks.

“Where’s Slick’s cut? Who took his cut?” Kurt says, getting louder and louder. “Where’d it go?”

Puck looks at Finn and shakes his head a little. “Burt took it, right?” he whispers to Finn.

“I don’t know. I carried it when we took him, but I think I left it in the loaner,” Finn whispers back. “Burt’s probably got it.”

“I want to talk to my dad. I want to talk to the president of this charter,” Kurt demands, his words slurring a little.

“I swear to god I didn’t mix his drink that strong,” Finn says.

“Did he drink anything else before you came over here?”

“Nothing I gave him. Maybe he had something on him,” Finn says. “I didn’t see him take anything but the ibuprofen I gave him, though. You think he’s just, I dunno. Broken?”

Kurt keeps demanding to talk to Burt, getting louder, until Burt and Tug come out of the back room. Tug looks mildly disgusted by Kurt’s behavior, his lip curled up slightly. Burt just looks concerned, his brow furrowed as he walks over to Kurt.

“I’m here. What’s going on with you, son?” Burt asks.

“Where’s Slick’s cut?” Kurt asks. “Do you know where it is? Who took it? Somebody had to take it, so who took it?”

“I gave it to Tug. He burned it,” Burt says. “Not like anybody would want his patches, not after what he did.”

Kurt’s face goes pale, his eyes still glassy. “I wish I’d said I was in on it,” he says, standing. He sways on his feet. “Would you’ve burned mine too, Dad? Would you’ve had Puck put a bullet in me?”

“Shit,” Finn says.

“Son, you need to be real careful about what you’re saying right now,” Burt says. “I understand you’re shocked and upset. We all are, but you—”

“No, you don’t, you don’t know!” Kurt says. “You should’ve at least let me have his cut. You could’ve given me that. I gave you your vote, you could’ve given me that.”

“Shit,” Puck whispers, stepping away from the bar and pulling on Finn’s shoulder. “There’s no way this ends well.”

“Burt, maybe he needs to step outside or into the back room,” Tug says, looking more disgusted than before.

“I think he’s had a little too much,” Finn says. “I’ll take him home or something.”

Burt doesn’t acknowledge Tug or Finn, his frown deepening. “Son, are you saying what it sounds like you’re saying? About you and Slick?”

“Time to go, K-boy,” Puck says suddenly, stepping between Burt and Kurt to throw his arm around Kurt. He pushes them towards Finn, eyes wide. Finn also puts an arm around Kurt and they start walking him towards the door.

“Uh, Puck? I was talking to K-boy,” Burt says.

“You can talk to him later, once we sober him up. I think he ate something bad or something,” Finn says, still walking. “He doesn’t know what he’s saying. We’ll get him taken care of, don’t worry.”

“You don’t really want the answer anyway, Burt,” Puck says under his breath as they reach the door.

“What’re you thinking, Kurtie-boy, huh? What’re you doing?” Finn asks.

“They could’ve let me keep it,” Kurt says.

“No, K-boy,” Puck says almost patiently. “He was a rat. We all voted. You don’t need his cut around.”

“I should’ve said it was me, I should’ve gone down for it, too,” Kurt says. “I shouldn’t have voted for it.”

Finn sighs. “You did the right thing, Kurtie-boy. I know it doesn’t feel like it, but—”

“You can’t possibly understand how this feels,” Kurt says, his tone venomous. “You don’t get to be the executioner and then come tell me it’s all okay, that I did the right thing and that everything’s going to be okay. How can any of this ever be okay? You shot my lover. You shot him. We sat at that fucking table and voted to kill the man I love. Don’t you dare tell me this will ever be okay.”

“You’d be surprised,” Puck says, turning towards Kurt. “We’ve always known the rules the MC goes by, K-boy. All of us.”

“Did you ever think about how insane those rules are? Rules that say it’s okay to murder someone? Someone who’s supposed to be a brother to you?” Kurt asks.

Puck laughs humorlessly. “Yeah, about fifteen minutes ago. We’re not saying it doesn’t suck, that it doesn’t hurt. We’re just trying to keep you alive.”

“Why? Do you think they’re going to hold a vote to put a bullet in my head now?” Kurt asks. “Go on. You can kill me, too.”

“I don’t fucking know what the rest of the club would do. That’s the point,” Puck says.

“Quit talking to Puck like you weren’t at that table, too,” Finn says. “Quit talking to him like you didn’t vote ‘yea’, same as him, same as me, same as everybody. You could’ve said ‘nay’ and, bam, no Mayhem.”

“You know why I couldn’t say no,” Kurt says.

“Same reason as us, I guess, ’cause you know yes was the right way to vote,” Finn says. “We’ve all gotta make shitty choices sometimes. This is just one in a hundred hard fucking choices.”

“Are you coming back with us?” Puck asks bluntly. “Or should we give Luch some cash to compensate her for watching your drunk ass again?”

“I’m not ten anymore. I don’t need you to look out for me,” Kurt says.

“That’s the whole fucking point, though, Kurt. You’re my brother. I’ve got your back, no matter what,” Finn says, “and so does Puck.”

“Puck isn’t my brother, not like you are,” Kurt says, shaking his head.

“No, but you’re Finn’s brother,” Puck says. “And yeah, that’s the point.”

“That’s not enough for me anymore,” Kurt says. He pulls away from Finn and Puck, getting on his bike and starting it. He pauses for a moment, like maybe he’s thinking it over, then he speeds off out of the lot, only weaving a little.

“Shit,” Finn says. “He’s gonna get his stupid ass killed.”

“Maybe he’ll have enough sense to come back sooner rather than later,” Puck says, pulling out cigarettes and lighting both of them before handing one to Finn. “We’ll wait out here. And talk.”

“You sure?” Finn asks. “Seems like maybe we should either go back in or just get out of here.”

“I can’t go back in right now,” Puck says.

“Yeah,” Finn says. He smokes his cigarette, staring down the road where Kurt disappeared, feeling the cool, damp air as the sun starts to sink.

“You know what I thought in there? That there was no good way for the MC to handle the situation,” Puck says. “And fuck, Finn. I was right. There’s not. I don’t remember ever questioning the charter before.”

Finn laughs bitterly, ashing his cigarette. “Yeah. Welcome to my world.”

“You know why Chang was in town?” Puck asks abruptly.

Finn shakes his head. “At my release party, you mean? Figured he was just visiting family or something.”

“He and Miss T are relocating. Trying to get some advice about either transferring back here or going Nomad,” Puck says.

“You thinking about going Nomad?” Finn asks. “I didn’t think they were even active right now.”

“You were inside.” Puck tosses his cigarette down on the ground. “We could tell ’em we’re giving K-boy some space. Not making him look at us for awhile.”

“Really?” Finn says. “You’d really leave?”

“Weren’t you listening last night?”

“Yeah, but like I said, maybe it’s too late. Maybe it was always too late,” Finn says.

“Would you want to?”

“Get out of here, just me and you?” Finn asks. “Yeah. Yeah, I want to.”

Puck nods. “Okay.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah,” Puck says. “Let’s do it.”

“Okay,” Finn says. “Make the request tonight?”

Puck nods. “Neither of us would ever rat, but I don’t want either of us to feel like K-boy. We go ahead, make the request, maybe it seems rushed to them, but at this point, who gives a fuck?”

“Maybe we should hit the bathroom first,” Finn says.

“Oh?”

“Unless you want me to kiss you right here.”

Puck laughs. “Probably should hit the bathroom, yeah.”

The bang of Burt’s gavel snaps Finn out of his drifting thoughts, back to attention. Everyone’s at the table but Artie, who’s off at the Two Wheels for Warriors charity ride up in Detroit. Burt quickly goes over some general business, mostly financials and plans for the big Labor Day cookout for the MC and their families.

After that’s all sorted, though, Burt says, “And Slick has a business proposal he wanted to float to the club, so I’ll let him explain all of that, then we’ll take a vote. Slick?”

“I have an acquaintance who put some Folk in touch with me. They’re interested in a small gun deal. There’s a possibility it could get bigger, but for now it’s low volume and, I think, low risk,” Slick says. “They want some M16s, and the meet point isn’t far outside city limits.”

“How many’s ‘some’ and how much are they looking to spend?” Bad Road asks.

“Thirty at a thousand each, so a nice even thirty k, and it probably wouldn’t require many of us,” Slick says.

“You’re handling the logistics?” Finn asks.

Slick nods, not quite meeting Finn’s eyes. “Assuming the club agrees.”

“K-boy, you know these guys, too? You can vouch?” Puck asks, looking at Kurt. Kurt hesitates for a second, not looking over at Slick as he nods.

“Okay,” Burt says. “We vote, straight up or down. I’ve already talked to Artie about this, so I’ve got his proxy. In favor of this deal, yea, against, nay.”

Puck turns to look at Finn, the rest of his face not moving. As the vote moves around the table, it’s almost all yeas, until it gets to Puck. Puck shakes his head a little as he speaks. “Nay.”

Then the vote is to Finn. Puck is probably right; it’s a sketchy-sounding deal, and he doesn’t think Slick’s got it in him to pull it off, but Kurt and Slick obviously have some kind of money-related problem, and it’s on Finn to have Kurt’s back, since Kurt doesn’t have his own Puck to keep him from doing something stupid.

“Yea,” Finn says. Puck frowns at Finn, looking like he’s struggling not to raise his eyebrows or make more of a face.

“Vote passes,” Burt says. “Anybody else got any business for the club?” Puck keeps frowning at Finn, shaking his head as if he’s responding to Burt’s question. “Alright. Everybody get out of here.” Burt brings the gavel down, and everyone but Finn and Puck stands.

When everyone else has filed out, Puck starts shaking his head again. “The fuck, Finn?”

“What?” Finn asks. “What’s your problem?”

Puck gives him a look with his eyebrows raised. “You know exactly what the problem is, and you’re not stupid. Why’d you vote ‘yea’?”

“Because Kurt needed me to,” Finn says.

“Just like K-boy’s needed you to float him how much in cash?” Puck asks. “I ain’t doing that anymore for sure, ’cause I know it’s not him paying me back through you.”

“He’s good for it. He’ll make it square with me when he can,” Finn says. “I’ve gotta have his back on this one, Puck, okay? If you can’t trust him, trust me.”

“You don’t trust Slick. Hell, I’m not sure you trust K-boy right now. I trust you, but you’re making a mistake,” Puck says quietly, looking towards the closed door. “It feels like— no. It feels like they’re actually paying more and Slick’s going to pocket the difference. That’s what it feels like. If Burt asks me to work the job, I’m telling him no, and you should, too.”

“If Kurtie-boy’s going out there, I’m going, too,” Finn says.

Puck shakes his head. “If he takes any money, you gotta tell Burt right away. Even if K-boy helps him. I dunno why K-boy’s protecting him so much. Sure, he was his prospect, but that’s not how it works usually.”

Finn wants to tell Puck, but like he’s told Puck before, it’s not his information to tell. Instead, he just shrugs. “Yeah, I dunno either,” he says.

“Okay.” Puck stands up and thumps Finn’s shoulder. “I mean it though. You’ll have to.”

“Yeah. Yeah, of course,” Finn says. “Don’t worry about me, okay? It’ll all be fine.”

Puck grins suddenly, pausing at the door. “Someone’s got to.”

“What for? Not like I ever get into any trouble,” Finn says, returning Puck’s grin.

“If that were true, that’d also be boring.”

The reaction from Burt and the club was about what Finn would’ve expected, but there’s no good reason for Burt not to sign off on them going Nomad. Finn and Puck spend the next few days getting the last of the shit out of Finn’s place, either bring it to Goodwill, giving it to other members or their old ladies, or sticking it in storage. Finn’s able to get the house listed on the market the same day Puck puts his award-winning porn collection up on eBay.

Nobody’s seen Kurt for a few days, but Carole checked in with him a few times, so they know he’s alive. She said he didn’t sound so good, though it could just be once he found a place to settle, he kept drinking. Finn can’t say that’s the worst plan, if it keeps him out of the clubhouse until he’s come to his senses. Hummel Custom Bikes stays closed.

Packing up to hit the road makes Finn feel light, in a way he hasn’t felt light since they were young. He reads and rereads the letter from Christopher just to run his eyes over “be free.” He will be soon, and so will Puck.

“Did Lauren say she wanted any of this stuff?” Finn asks, as he’s boxing up the kitchen shit in Puck’s apartment. “Maybe your Betty Page titty mug?”

“I told her we were bringing her a box of stuff whether she thought she wanted it or not,” Puck says.

“Then she for sure gets the titty mug,” Finn says, setting it aside on the counter with another few items.

“I’m leaving her the juicer, too. Why’d Tessie even give me a juicer?”

“I figure she thought you’d be doing a lot of juicing,” Finn says. “Does she want your blender?”

“No, she has one of those Ninja things. The sales pitch at the Costco in Toledo drew her in,” Puck says.

“How about a— yeah, okay, I don’t even know what this is.” Finn holds up the weird plastic contraption.

“It’s a Garlic Pro! Give it to Lauren. If we need garlic, we’ll find an Italian restaurant.”

“Garlic Pro,” Finn mutters to himself, setting it next to the Betty Page mug and the juicer.

“I’m taking my coffee mug. And we should take two shot glasses. That’s all the kitchen stuff we need, right?”

“We can always buy shot glasses at the first truck stop we come to.”

Puck shrugs. “Just the mug, then.”

“I’m gonna get a new to-go cup. Maybe a chrome one, or one that matches my bike,” Finn says. “Think we’ll be ready to hit the road tomorrow.”

“Yeah. Landlord said anything we leave, he’ll get one of those donation trucks to take it away.”

“Cool. What do you think? Head out around lunch? I don’t think Mom’s expecting us to work a shift before we go,” Finn says.

“Yeah, sounds good. Which way do you want to head first?”

“Well, I’ve never been west of Indiana.”

“Illinois? Nebraska? Grand Canyon?”

“Yeah. Let’s go to all of them. Maybe we can go to California, even,” Finn says. “Stay on the road until we need a break, land wherever we land.”

Puck grins and puts his arms around Finn. “Sounds like a good idea to me.” He laughs. “We’ve got the money.”

“Yeah we do,” Finn says. He kisses Puck slowly, putting his hand on the back of Puck’s neck to hold him still. Puck presses against Finn, sliding his hands under Finn’s shirt. Finn holds Puck in place for a few minutes while they kiss, but then pulls away. “We should get over to the clubhouse. I’m pretty sure there’s another one of those not-a-party parties happening.”

“And then we’ll have our own party tomorrow night?” Puck asks, still grinning.

“Yeah,” Finn says. “C’mon. I’m tired of packing up your novelty coffee mugs. How does a guy who lives alone end up with thirty coffee mugs?”

“They’re funny,” Puck says. “But yeah, we’ll leave the rest of them for the Salvation Army or whoever. I bet they’ll like the one that says ‘my balls itch’.”

Finn, Slick, Kurt, and Little Dave meet at Sugar Street Bar & Grill, a tiny, windowless shithole that Little Dave insists has the best burgers in Lima. Not that that’s even relevant, since they aren’t there to eat and just meet in the parking lot. Slick is twitchy and a little too hyped, Kurt looks wary and guarded, and Little Dave is as placid as ever. Little Dave drove the van with the guns, the rest of them on their bikes.

“So what’s the contact’s name again, Slick?” Finn asks.

“Eddie,” Slick says. “Little Dave, you’re going to stay outside, keep a lookout, right?” Slick doesn’t wait for a response. “Then the three of us will head in.”

“Maybe Little Dave should come in with us,” Finn says. “Extra pair of hands, extra cover if things go down the wrong way.”

“No, we’ll be fine,” Slick insists. “It’ll only take us two trips to take all of the guns in. We need him to stay outside.”

“Kurtie-boy? You’re good with that?” Finn asks.

“Slick knows the contact. If he says Little Dave should stay with the van, he should stay with the van,” Kurt says.

“Okay, K-boy. Doesn’t really matter to me either way,” Little Dave says.

“Alright. Fine,” Finn says. “Let’s drive out there, then. Get this over with.”

“Great,” Slick says, a little too eagerly, and he immediately gets back on his bike.

Finn gives Kurt a long look before Kurt gets on his bike, too, not looking back at Finn as he follows Slick out of the parking lot. Finn follows close behind them, the van behind the bikes, as they drive to the Troyer Warehouse just outside the Lima city limits. Finn doesn’t see any other vehicles around the warehouse.

“This it?” he asks Slick as he pulls up beside him, idling just outside the fence around the warehouse.

“There’s a door near a smaller gate just down here,” Slick says, pointing before riding another thirty yards and killing his engine. “Van’ll have to wait outside the fence, of course,” Slick adds once they’re all near the gate.

“Looks like a great place for an ambush,” Finn says, frowning. “You sure these guys are on the level?”

“I’m sure. Let’s get the guns inside,” Slick says.

Finn nods once. Slick immediately goes to the van to get bolt cutters for the gate, leaving Finn alone with Kurt.

“You’re sure about this, Kurtie-boy?” Finn asks. “I’ve got a bad feeling.”

Kurt gives Finn a look that’s somehow sad and hopeful at the same time. “He needs this. Everybody’ll be square after this, everything’ll be fine with the club.”

“Just be careful in there, alright? Something doesn’t feel right.”

“Of course. I’ll be careful. I’m sure it will all go smoothly, once we get in there,” Kurt says.

“I hope so, brother,” Finn says, shaking his head. Slick has the gate open, so he, Kurt, and Finn start loading up with armfuls of M16s, carrying them through the gate. “Which entrance?”

“It’s just around the corner from that awning,” Slick says, pointing to the lefthand side of the building in front of them.

“Talk a little louder, why don’t you,” Finn says. He readjusts the guns in his arms, following Slick around the building, but then Slick walks up the side to a loading dock before climbing the stairs. The door opens without Slick having to pick the lock, just between the closest loading dock and a wide hallway towards what probably used to be the warehouse offices.

“I don’t see anybody,” Kurt says.

“I wanted us to be early,” Slick says. “That way we’d have the advantage. No surprises.” He walks towards the loading dock area and sets down the guns he’s been carrying.

“Right,” Finn says. “Second load?”

Slick nods. “That should get it.”

As they’re heading back towards the van, Kurt steps close to Finn. “You’ll have his back in there, right?”

“Of course,” Finn says. “Same as I would for any brother.”

“Just like you would for me?” Kurt asks.

“Sure.”

“Promise,” Kurt says. “Promise you’ll have his back in there.”

“I’ve got his back, Kurtie-boy. I understand how it is, okay?” Finn says.

Kurt looks a little startled, but doesn’t have time for any other reaction as they reach the gate again. “Okay. Thank you, Finn.”

“No problem, brother,” Finn says.

Slick leads them back once they have all the guns, but this time he stops at the top of the concrete stairs. “After you put those down, Finn, I think you should come back and wait here.”

“Sorry, brother, but I promised I’d keep an eye on both of you,” Finn says. Slick looks immediately concerned, then shoots Kurt a look that could almost be considered panicky. Finn’s gut twists up when he sees it.

Slick doesn’t say anything in response, turning and walking to where they left the first load of guns, arranging them in groups of five on the turned-over shelves in the floor. He looks at Kurt again, then whispers something under his breath.

“We good?” Finn asks.

“We’re fine,” Kurt says.

“Everything’s good,” Slick adds, starting to look around them, even though there’s been no sounds echoing of doors or people walking. After only another minute or two, a group of five guys walks around a corner, all armed, all white with shaved-heads, two with visible Aryan Brotherhood ink on their necks and hands.

“Slick,” Finn says, drawing his own gun. “Those guys don’t look like Folk.”

“Well,” Slick says, at least looking somewhat embarrassed. “They aren’t exactly.” He nods at the one in front.

“You wanna tell me why AB are here?” Finn asks.

“Finn,” Kurt says quietly. “Just let him handle it.”

Finn frowns and doesn’t lower his gun. “The fuck? Did you know about this?”

“You promised you’d watch his back!” Kurt says.

“They’re all here,” Slick says too loudly to the AB. “All thirty, just as promised.” He gestures to the laid-out guns.

“Just get the money so we can get the fuck out of here,” Finn hisses at Slick.

The Aryan Brother in charge directs two of the others to the guns, where they take a minute to count and check each one before nodding. The AB-in-charge says, “Okay. Looks like we’re good here.”

“Slick?” Finn says. “The money?”

The AB-in-charge laughs. “What’d the little junkie tell you was happening here?”

“You’ve got your guns. We just need our money, and we’ll go,” Finn says, starting to back towards Kurt, who has pulled out his own gun now.

“You can tell the club the deal went bad, right?” Slick says to Finn.

“What’s the fuck, Slick?” Finn says.

“Finn, please,” Kurt says. “Let’s go before somebody gets hurt.”

“I think you oughta listen to him,” the AB-in-charge says.

“We’re not leaving those guns,” Finn says to Kurt. “Those belong to the MC.”

“Those are our guns,” one of the other Aryan Brothers says, jerking his gun up and to the side. “We’re taking them out of here.” His gun jerks again, and this time, he sprays some bullets just to Kurt’s right. That opens the floodgates, and suddenly all the AB are firing, and so are Finn and Kurt, Slick looking too stunned to draw. Finn shoves Kurt out of the way and grabs for Slick.

“Get down, dumbass!” Finn barks at Slick. He ducks behind a stack of pallets, firing in the direction of boss Whitey. “Shit!”

Slick finally crouches down, his gun still not out, looking around him bewildered until he gasps. “Kurt! You’re bleeding!”

“Shit,” Finn says, grabbing at Kurt, whose sleeve is soaked with blood. “We’ve gotta get out of here. Slick, you get Kurt out of here, and I’ll cover you. Get him to Little Dave.”

“Okay,” Slick says, but all he does is put his arm around Kurt.

“Get the fuck out of here!” Finn says, leaning around the pallets to fire again. He’s answered with a spray of bullets. Suddenly, it feels like the air has been sucked out of the room, then Finn, Slick, and Kurt are all thrown back as something explodes, raining debris down around them. The air is immediately filled with a smell like burning piss, acrid and strong, and flames begin rapidly spreading along another row of pallets, heading towards a grouping of barrels.

“Shit. Shit! Run! Fucking run!” Finn screams at Slick.

The flames seem to wake Slick up, because he starts moving towards the door, pulling Kurt with him as a second explosion rocks the warehouse. Finn steps out from behind the pallets, gun up, but the Aryan Brothers are running towards the far exit, carrying armfuls of the M16s. Finn makes sure Kurt and Slick are out before he runs, too.

He makes it outside the warehouse before another series of explosions goes off inside, blowing part of the warehouse roof off and knocking Finn to his knees. Slick and Kurt are about ten yards ahead of Finn, Kurt also on his knees with Slick trying to pull him up to his feet, half-dragging him towards the gate. Beyond the gate, Little Dave is in the van, watching them with concern.

“Go! Go!” Finn shouts at Little Dave, waving the van away. “Go!”

Little Dave nods, starting the van and peeling out. In the distance, Finn hears multiple sirens.

“Shit,” Finn says, getting to his feet and running to Kurt. He helps Slick pull him to his feet. “Can you ride? Kurt, can you ride?” Kurt nods weakly. “Good. Slick, get him to the fucking clubhouse. Don’t take him to the hospital. Burt’ll know what to do.”

“What about you?” Kurt asks.

“I told you I’d get you both out of here safe,” Finn says. “I promised I’d have your backs. Now go!”

“You heard him,” Slick says, starting his engine. “Let’s go, Kurt!”

Finn waits for Slick and Kurt to drive away from the warehouse before getting on his bike and driving in the other direction. He turns a block down, stair-stepping through the blocks. The smoke from the warehouse is a huge plume in the sky and the sirens are louder, coming from multiple directions. He makes it almost down to Robb where it crosses the tracks when a police cruiser whips in front of him off Kent, blocking the road.

Finn brakes hard, and the bike fishtails violently before Finn is thrown, tumbling across the blacktop. He greys out, losing his sense of up or down, but he can feel the cop yanking his arms behind him and cuffing him, shouting down at Finn the whole time. He’s thrown into the back of the cruiser, bleeding and disoriented, hoping like hell that Slick and Kurt made it out of there.

“Probably want to get out of here if we’re gonna get on the road by lunch tomorrow,” Finn says.

Puck nods. “Yeah. It’s late.”

“Kinda thought Kurtie-boy would show up, but maybe it’s better he didn’t. Artie says they haven’t seen him, either.”

“Probably better, yeah.” Puck leans against the bar and looks around. “Gonna miss it?”

“Sure, parts of it. Not all of it,” Finn says.

Puck laughs for a moment. “I just meant this room.”

“Yeah, if I need to smell stale beer and pussy, we can hit up any stripclub,” Finn says.

“We can send my mom postcards from them.” Puck straightens. “Let’s get going.”

“Yeah,” Finn says. They head towards the door, Big Paul stops them.

“You boys heading out already?” Big Paul asks.

“Still got some shit to pack, if we want to get on the road by lunch tomorrow,” Finn says.

“We’re gonna miss you around here. Hopefully things’ll settle down soon and you can come back to the charter,” Big Paul says. “I understand why you feel like Nomad’s the way to go right now.”

“We’ll keep in touch,” Puck says.

“Let me walk you out at least.” He nods his head at Little Dave, who nods back and follows them to the door, holding it open for Finn, Puck, and Big Paul to walk through. The door has only just swung closed behind them when a gun fires, the bullet ricocheting off the side of the clubhouse to the right of Puck.

“Shit!” Finn shouts, drawing his gun and scanning the dark lot. Kurt steps forward out of the shadow, into the yellow of the club’s outside lights. He has a gun in his hand, pointed at Puck, and his eyes are wild and glassy. His hand shakes like he’s been on a three-day bender of more than just booze. Maybe, Finn thinks, he found the rest of Slick’s stash somewhere.

“Kurtie-boy, put the gun down,” Finn says. “Just put it down, brother.”

Kurt fires again, missing Puck once again, the bullet pinging off the blacktop. Big Paul and Little Dave scramble backwards, Big Paul also drawing on Kurt. “Son, you don’t want to do this,” Big Paul says.

“Yes, I do,” Kurt says. His voice is raw and hoarse. He holds the gun up in his shaking hand again, pointing it at Puck. “That’s how this works, right? You do something I don’t like, I get to put a bullet in you. Everybody in favor? Yea. Unanimous.”

“Shit, Kurtie-boy, please, put it down,” Finn says. “It’s not Puck’s fault. We all voted.”

“But Puck did it! Puck was the one who killed him!” Kurt says.

“K-boy,” Puck says, his hands in front of him. “You were there. You know what happened. We’re leaving tomorrow. Just put it down, go get some sleep.”

“Put it down, brother!” Finn says.

Kurt looks at Finn, and for a second, Finn thinks Kurt’s about to lower the gun. Instead, Kurt fires again, hitting Puck this time. Finn sees blood as Puck staggers back, and without hesitating, he pulls the trigger. Kurt crumples on the blacktop, and the gun falls from his hand.

Finn rushes to Puck, who has blood pouring from his shoulder. “Shit! I need something to use to put pressure on this!” Finn shouts. He presses his palm against the wound to slow the blood flow. “Shit, Puck, talk to me!”

“I didn’t think Kurtie-boy’d actually shoot me,” Puck says, sounding dazed. “Hurts more than I would have thought.”

“Just stay awake. Stay with me, okay? Don’t go anywhere,” Finn says. He has to focus on Puck’s injury. He can’t think about Kurt lying on the pavement a few feet away. He can’t think about that yet.

People start pouring out of the clubhouse. Finn can hear gasps and shouts. He dimly processes Burt rushing to Kurt, kneeling beside him and pulling Kurt’s head onto his knee. The wet, red stain slowly spreads across Burt’s jeans. Carole kneels next to Burt, sobbing. Finn turns his attention back to Puck as Little Dave shoves a big pack of gauze into his hand. Finn presses the gauze to Puck’s shoulder.

“You still with me?” Finn asks.

“I’m wherever we are,” Puck says, sounding spacey.

“I’m here, too,” Finn says. “We’re both here. You’re gonna be okay. I think it went all the way through.”

“Okay. He didn’t shoot me again. Where’d K-boy go?”

“Shh. Don’t worry about it, don’t worry,” Finn says. He keeps pressing the gauze to Puck’s shoulder. His face is wet. He’s not sure if it’s blood or tears.

“Don’t cry. We’re leaving,” Puck says. “You ’n me.”

“Yeah. We’re leaving.” Finn leans forward and kisses Puck’s forehead.

Sirens start wailing in the distance, slowly getting closer until the parking lot is filled with the spinning glare of white and blue and red lights. Police and EMTs start running all over the place, and as a pair of EMTs start to load Puck onto a backboard, Finn can hear Little Dave saying, his voice sounding calm and somehow still sad, “I had no choice. He’d already fired three times and put one shot in Puck. I don’t think he was in his right mind.”

It’s the longest Finn has ever heard Little Dave talk before, but it doesn’t make any sense. Finn’s the one who shot Kurt. Nobody comes to arrest him, though, and nobody seems to be arresting Little Dave. The EMTs load Puck into the back of the ambulance and Finn gets in beside him.

“Where’re we going?” Puck asks.

“Hospital. They’re gonna patch you up. We can still go, just need another day or so,” Finn says. He takes Puck’s hand in his, trying to stay out of the way so the EMTs can work on Puck’s shoulder. Once the IV is in, they must put some kind of pain meds into it, because Puck starts shaking his head.

“Stay awake,” Puck mutters. “I gotta stay awake.”

“It’s okay. It’s okay, Puck. You can sleep now. I’ll keep you safe,” Finn says. He strokes the back of Puck’s hand until Puck starts to relax, closing his eyes.

Booking and questioning go about like Finn figured they would, with Perkins, the MC’s lawyer, showing up about a half-hour into questioning and telling Finn to shut up. The earliest they can get him arraigned is the next morning, so Finn spends his night sleeping upright in an over-crowded holding cell.

He still looks and feels rough when they do get him in front of a judge for his arraignment. Rachel and Puck are both in the courtroom, sitting on opposite sides, but with matching angry looks on their faces. After Finn answers a few questions and his lawyer and the prosecutor talk with the judge, the judge sets bond, and Finn is shuffled off to the holding area again.

Finn sits in the holding pen for over an hour, before one of the deputies gets him and brings him up to the front to get his personal belongings. Puck is waiting just outside the lobby with a cigarette in his mouth, looking as pissed as he did in the courtroom.

“Criminal mischief,” Puck says with an exaggerated flip of his hand.

“Yeah, I guess so,” Finn says, pulling on his cut and squinting at the bright sun.

“I told you that deal was no good. Charges for you, profit up in smoke,” Puck says, tossing his cigarette butt over the stair railing. “Picked up Slick, too, but they let him go last night, and K-boy hurt?”

“He okay? I couldn't get anybody to tell me,” Finn says. “Shit, I gotta get some ibuprofen or something. My bike here?”

“At the shop. It’s in almost as bad a shape as you are, except no judge,” Puck says. “Brought one of the cars from the shop. We’ll stop at Walgreens for your stupid idiot self.”

“Just take me home. I want a shower and a change, couple hours of sleep,” Finn says.

“You said ibuprofen,” Puck says as they walk towards the car he points out. “The fuck were you thinking?”

“I was thinking I smell like the drunk tank and my jeans are tore up,” Finn says. “Any more questions?”

Puck doesn’t answer until they’re in the car and he starts it. “Yeah, starting with ‘are you protecting Slick?’, ’cause it’s real funny how the worst fuck up we’ve seen in awhile just happens to start on his brand-new ‘opportunity’.”

“I’m not protecting Slick. I’m protecting Kurt,” Finn says.

“Oh, it was Kurt’s idea now?”

“If Slick goes down, Kurt goes down,” Finn says. “As far as the cops are concerned, I was the only one there, and that’s how it’s gonna be.”

Puck flips his hand again. “As far as the club is concerned?”

“As far as the club’s concerned, would you rather have three Sons serving time or one?”

“None. Now you’re avoiding the question completely,” Puck says angrily, pulling into the Walgreens lot. “Do you still want ibuprofen?”

“I want to know what it is you think I’m gonna say?” Finn says. “Somebody’s going down for this, and I’d rather it be me.”

“And I’d rather you not lie to me again,” Puck says.

“I’m not lying to you. Shit went south, Slick’s contacts screwed us, shit blew up, and I’m the one they caught,” Finn says.

“Lying to my fucking face, talking so fucking vague you can pretend you aren’t. Guess it’s a different kind of lying?”

“I’m not gonna tell ’em anybody else was there,” Finn says. “I promised Kurt I’d have his back, and that’s what I’m doing. I don’t have any priors. Worst case, I’m in for two, best case I’m back in a few months.”

“I’m not talking about them,” Puck says, his teeth clenched. “I’m talking about what you tell me, and you’re fucking protecting Slick and lying to me about it. Fuck you.”

“Fuck you! I’m keeping a fucking promise!”

“What about what you promised me? You promised me you wouldn’t leave again!”

Finn sighs. “I’m not leaving you, Puck. I love you. You fucking know I love you, but you’ve gotta let it go. Things went to shit, and somebody has to take it. I’m not letting Kurt be the guy. The club needs me to do this.”

Puck starts the car again and pulls out of the Walgreens lot, this time turning towards the shop. “And because I love you, I can’t let it go.”

“Then I don’t know what I’m supposed to tell you,” Finn says.

Puck shakes his head a few times. “I guess you aren’t exactly telling me shit, are you? A shitload of nothing.”

“Some secrets just gotta keep, I guess,” Finn says. “Blood and lies, baby. Blood and lies.”

The hospital releases Puck two days later, just in time for Kurt’s funeral. Finn spent the past two days in a chair by Puck’s bed, even when Puck insisted he was fine for Finn to go home and take a shower or eat a real meal. Big Paul came by to check on Puck and bring some food and clean clothes for them, letting them know that Little Dave wasn’t being charged for shooting Kurt. Self defense.

Bad Road is supposed to have the van waiting for them, so Finn helps Puck into a clean shirt, then into his cut, then helps him adjust his arm in the sling he’s supposed to wear to keep from pulling his stitches open. Finn’s pretty sure that’ll last for all of a day, day and a half, but for now at least, Puck’s wearing the thing without complaint.

“I figured we’d get dropped off at your apartment,” Finn says as they’re walking down to the front entrance. Puck refused the wheel chair ride. Nobody argued. “I’ll walk over and drive the bikes back one at a time. We’ll give your arm a couple more days, then we’ll hit the road, just like we planned.”

“Only got three more days left on the rent, so it’d better be fine by then,” Puck says. “When’s it start?”

“Two,” Finn says. “Nobody’ll be at the clubhouse, which is why I figured it’s a good time to go pick up the bikes.”

“We should be there.”

“Didn’t think you’d want to go. Not so sure I should, either.”

“Can’t let a few fucked-up weeks erase the rest of our lives, you know? Even if we’re not there for K-boy, we should be for Kurtie-boy,” Puck says.

“I shot him,” Finn says softly. The van pulls up in front of the hospital’s doors. “I killed him. I killed him.”

“Little Dave told PD the truth, he just doesn’t have any priors.” Puck sighs. “It’s on Slick, too.”

“I told him I’d always look out for him. I was supposed to have his back. I fucked it up, Puck,” Finn says. His eyes start to tear up, and he blinks hard to hold back the crying he knows he’s going to do eventually. “There’s the van. We should go.”

“Like you said, blood and lies. Don’t take more than’s yours,” Puck says, then heads to the van. “Hey, Bad Road.”

The drive back to Puck’s is quiet. Bad Road drops them off at Puck’s apartment, and Finn and Puck clean up a little. Finn feels like they don’t ever stop touching, the whole time they’re washing their faces and putting on clean socks. The backs of Finn’s fingers are against the backs of Puck’s, or his hand’s on Puck’s neck or good shoulder, or Puck’s fingers are under the edge of Finn’s shirt, barely touching his skin.

“Ready?” Finn asks. He brushes a few flecks of dried blood from the shoulder seam of Puck’s cut.

“Yeah,” Puck says softly.

Their hands meet as they walk down the stairs from Puck’s apartment, fingers tangling together, and they stay that way on the walk to the clubhouse. Puck sits behind Finn on the Dyna, his good arm around Finn’s waist, as they ride out to the graveyard. The bike procession has already arrived, so Finn parks at the end of it, his hand going back to Puck’s as they walk up the slight slope to the grave circled by Sons from all over the midwest. Even though it all went down like it did, Kurt was still a charter president’s son. He was still a brother. He was still a Son.

The pastor is in the middle of a short eulogy when Puck and Finn reach the grave. Burt doesn’t even look at them, but Carole immediately steps closer to Finn, pressing her wet face to the front of Finn’s cut. Finn puts that arm around her, still holding Puck’s hand in his other hand. He can see a few Sons from other charters giving them curious looks from the other side of the glossy black coffin, and Tug looks like he’d bore a hole through both of them with the hate in his eyes if he could, but Finn doesn’t let go of Puck’s hand. They paid dearly for this. They paid for it with blood and lies, and maybe it was too much to pay, but Finn’s not giving it up.

When the funeral comes to a close, several members of the Lima charter pat Finn on the back or arm, nodding at Puck. Burt goes to talk to the pastor for a moment, leaving Carole with Finn and Puck while everyone else starts to walk back down to their bikes.

“You’ll change those patches back out now, of course,” Carole says.

“No. We’re leaving as soon as Puck can ride,” Finn says. “His lease is up in three, so probably by then.”

“But you were just going to give K— give some space. You don’t have to. You can stay.”

“That’s not the only reason we were going, Mom. It wasn’t even the main reason,” Finn says. He looks down at his and Puck’s joined hands. “It’s been coming for a long time. New York was just a false start.”

“Your father needs you here, in Lima, with the club,” Carole says.

“Burt doesn’t need me here, and he isn’t gonna want me here, and even if he did, I don’t wanna stay. Dad, my dad, wanted me to get out before my hands were too wet with blood for me to do anything else. If I don’t go now—” Finn cuts himself off, shaking his head.

“We’ll wash off the blood,” Puck says very quietly, “and leave the lie behind.”

Carole wipes at her eyes. “Finn, this is your home.”

Finn shakes his head. “No. It’s not.” He touches the pads of his fingers to his lips, then leans over to press them to the glossy black coffin in a silent goodbye to his brother. After he straightens, he starts walking towards the bike, Puck’s hand in his, then he turns to look at Carole. “Dad wrote in his letter that he hoped a bullet would set me free. It did. It wasn’t the bullet he meant, but it did.” He turns away again, and he and Puck walk down the gentle grade towards the bike.

Puck stops next to the bike, standing close to Finn. “Day after tomorrow. We don’t really want anyone to know until we’re already gone.”

“Day after tomorrow,” Finn agrees. He sits on the bike, waiting for Puck to slide on behind him and put his arm around Finn’s waist. Finn watches the other bikes exit the cemetery, black leather backs emblazoned with the reaper driving away. Finn starts his bike. “Let’s start with the Grand Canyon.”