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Before: Thirteen

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Doug puts down his beer and raises an eyebrow at Finn. “Isaac, you got a stalker-ex we need to know about or something?”

“Huh?” Finn asks. He tucks a piece of hair behind his ears to keep it from falling forward into his drink as he takes another sip and waits for Doug to explain.

Doug nods his head in the direction of the bar, saying, “That hipster-looking guy. I don’t think he’s blinked in the last few minutes.”

Finn glances in the direction Doug nods, and for half a beat, he doesn’t notice anything out of the ordinary, because the guy he’s looking at is so much a part of Finn’s life that he doesn’t ping any warning bells. Before Finn even blinks, though, the lack of warning bells sets off warning bells, because the person at the bar shouldn’t be there. He shouldn’t be anywhere near there, not in this bar, this town, this state, this half of the country. Puck is supposed to be in Lima, moving on with his life without Finn in it, safe and out of any potential harm’s way. Puck is supposed to think Finn is dead, not be sitting at a bar staring at Finn and reminding him that he’s just a ghost now, nothing but a ghost, and Finn’s not ready to be a ghost.

Finn’s chair is screeching across the floor before he registers he’s standing, reeling on his feet, and muttering a quick, “Think I’m gonna be sick.” He sprints out of the bar, hand over his mouth, and he goes around the corner of the building, where he does get sick against the wall butting up against the parking lot.

“Whoa, Isaac, you okay?” Doug asks, suddenly appearing behind Finn, putting his hand awkwardly on Finn’s shoulder as he dry heaves a few times. “What happened?”

Finn shakes his head. “Nothing,” he manages. “It’s nothing.”

“Sure as heck doesn’t look like nothing,” Doug counters.

“It’s nothing. It’s nobody. I must’ve been confused,” Finn says.

Doug nods. “Look, if that guy back there is somebody we need to know about—”

“No, he’s nobody,” Finn insists. “He’s not who I thought he was. He can’t be. I think I must’ve had one too many. I think I need to just get out of here.”

“If you say so,” Doug says, though he doesn’t sound like he really believes Finn. “I’ll give you a lift home. I can drop you by here to get your truck tomorrow.”

“Thanks. Yeah, I think I just need some water and some sleep,” Finn says, hoping it’s true, because he’s not really ready to be a ghost, and that’s all he can be to Puck now, a ghost.