Pairing: Puck/Sam (ish)
Rating/warnings: PG for violence
Word Count: 9340
Summary: Secrets are dredged up on a trip to an away game at Sam's old school.
Just a little note about the timeline of this fic... I started planning and writing it after "Audition" aired, and while I'm trying to keep the things we're learning about Sam's personality and stuff consistent, pretty much everything that's happened so far this season has not been incorporated into this story. So there's no Karofsky kissing Kurt and surprising everyone with his gayness, no Dalton, no Puck swooning after Lauren, no Sam/Quinn or Sam/Santana, etc. I already have the whole thing planned out, and I'd have to change pretty much everything if I wanted to include all the canon events. So this fic is pretty much AU after "Audition." :)
“So, you think we have a good chance of beating Darlington?” Puck asks, lounging in the bus seat next to Sam, an arm resting behind his head. Sam shrugs, picking at a fraying thread on his hoodie.
“How am I supposed to know?” He doesn’t really want to talk about the upcoming game. It’s bad enough they’re up against his old school—and of course it’d be an away game where they have to go to Darlington.
“Well, you used to be their QB, dude.” Puck turns his head, giving him a sidelong look. “Come on, spill, you’ve barely said anything about them. Tell me their dirty secrets.”
“They don’t have any secrets. They’re just a good team,” Sam says. He watches the dark highway pass through the windows, the car lights around them blending into a solid line. The chatter on the bus has died down since night has fallen, and most people are murmuring quietly to each other to not disturb their sleeping teammates.
“Good enough to beat us?” Puck asks.
Sam pauses, then gives Puck a faint smile. “Well, they don’t have me anymore.”
“That’s what I want to hear,” Puck laughs softly. “We’ll kick their asses. You can apologize to your friends later.”
“Yeah,” Sam grunts, his smile fading. He hopes they can just play the game tomorrow night without having to interact with his old teammates anywhere off the field. He knows nothing will have changed.
Puck slides his arm down, and Sam glances over as Puck nestles in his seat and shuts his eyes.
“Totally want some waffles when we reach Darlington,” Puck mutters, and Sam’s smile returns. “Hey, if you’re up, wake me when we get there.”
“Sure,” Sam says, pulling down the sleeves of his hoodie as he rests his foot on the back of the seat in front of him, leaning his head back. He absently listens to Puck’s steady breathing beside him as he tries to fall asleep.
“Run the route again,” Sam said, positioning himself behind the linemen. “Kyle, you missed my last pass. Try it again. Ready?”
“You can’t throw,” Kyle shot back, glowering from behind his helmet.
Sam’s eyes narrowed. “You’ve never had a problem catching my passes before. Just chill out and do it again.”
“Well, now you throw like a faggot,” Kyle said. “No one could catch any of your fucking passes.”
Sam exhaled slowly, closing his eyes and telling himself to ignore it. He gripped the ball and took a step backward.
“Get in position,” Sam ordered.
“What’d you do to get Coach to leave you in charge of practice today anyway?” Kyle asked, unmoving. “Did you suck his dick?”
Sam could feel his cheeks burning. “Shut up and get in position.”
“Did you bend over for him?”
“Quit fucking around!” Sam yelled, pushing his visor up. “Are you guys gonna practice or not? We’ve got a game on Friday.”
“I’m not practicing with you.” Kyle pulled his helmet off and threw it on the ground, landing close to Sam’s feet. “We’re done for today. Hit the showers, guys.”
Sam clenched his jaw as the rest of the team followed Kyle. Kyle turned after a second, meeting his eyes again.
“Oh, and if you try and shower with the rest of us again, be prepared for my fist to meet your face,” Kyle said, then grinned as he joined the others. Sam stayed put as he watched the rest of them go. Once the field was empty, he pulled off his helmet and let the breeze cool the sweat on his face.
It wasn’t that he was scared of Kyle, per se, but there was no point in causing even more trouble, so he stayed out on the field while the rest of his team took their time showering and changing. They’d left the equipment out, so Sam started dragging all their stuff back. Coach didn’t need to come back from his weekend away to find out that they’d left all their shit lying outside for two days.
It wasn’t so bad. He told himself this every time Kyle purposely messed up a play to spite him, threatened him in the locker room, and spread rumors about him to the rest of the school. It wasn’t until he was lying in a hospital bed with a concussion from Kyle slamming his head into a locker door after they’d lost a game did he realize he couldn’t stay on the team, or even at this school, any longer.
Sam opens his eyes suddenly, drawing in a quick breath as he’s startled awake. He shakes away the memories still clinging to his sleep-addled mind, rubbing his eyes softly. It takes him another minute to realize Puck is snoring quietly and he can feel his breath against his face.
Sam sits up, realizing he’d been nestled against Puck’s shoulder. He’s afraid his sudden movement has woken him, but Puck keeps his eyes closed as he shifts, turning his head to the other side as he continues to snore away. Sam lets out a breath of relief, then glances around to see if anyone had seen him practically sleeping on Puck. The bus is almost silent now, save for the deep, even breathing (and snoring) of his teammates.
Sam reaches for his pillow and sets it against the window, then makes sure he’s as far away from Puck as possible before he nestles down again. He’s glad to have Puck as a friend and the support of his teammates even though he’s still the new guy, but they might turn on him just like his old team had if they ever discover the truth.
- - - - -
“This place is a dump,” Puck remarks once they’ve reached Darlington and have settled into their school-approved motel. Sam yawns as he sits on his bed—it’s past one-thirty in the morning, and even though he’d gotten some sleep on the bus, he could still use a couple more hours.
“Dude, what are you doing?” Puck asks, fishing out his wallet and thumbing through the bills. “I want some waffles, I already told you. Get up.”
“Go get some yourself, there’s a Waffle House down the street,” Sam says, lying down, but Puck grabs his arm and jerks him up.
“You gotta come with me. I don’t know this place.”
“It’s down the street. Big yellow sign? You can’t miss it.”
“Don’t you want waffles?” Puck asks seriously. Sam stares at him, then sighs when his stomach growls.
“Let’s get something besides waffles,” Sam suggests, but Puck shakes his head adamantly.
“Nope. It has to be waffles.”
“There’s a Varsity a couple blocks down.”
“Waffles,” Puck repeats, enunciating slowly. Sam stands up and looks in the mirror, running his hands through his hair in an attempt to look like he hasn’t just spent the last few hours on a bus with his face mashed against a pillow.
“Does it have to be Waffle House?” Sam asks one last time, wrinkling his brow.
“What do you have against Waffle House?” Puck asks, sounding affronted.
Sam sighs again and grabs his wallet. “Nothing.”
“Then let’s go.” Puck gives him a saccharine smile and holds the door open for him. Sam feels more awake as they head outside and walk through the cool night air. He checks the time on his phone and bites the inside of his lip anxiously. Waffle House had been a tradition with his old team. A bunch of them would go at around two in the morning on the day of a game and eat tons of sugar and mess around. They used to see which of them could chug the most syrup. Sam never won those contests—he’d usually end up puking in the toilet before they all went home to sleep off their sugar highs until the game in the evening.
That had all been before everything went to hell, but Sam knows they still kept up the tradition. They’d just uninvited him.
“So, you used to live here? This place is the sticks,” Puck says as they cross an empty street.
“Small town.” Sam shrugs, his hands jammed into the pockets of his jeans. “I like Lima a lot better.”
“Really? Lima kinda sucks, too.”
“Well, McKinley’s pretty cool,” Sam says, smiling. Puck snorts as if Sam has said something ridiculous. Sam isn’t bothered, and he does actually like McKinley. It’s better than Darlington.
The Waffle House parking lot is mostly deserted. Sam follows Puck as he opens the door, the bell chiming above their heads. His stomach sinks when he sees the back of Kyle’s head—he’s there with only one other guy from the team, Daniel, their tight end. It’s a relief to see the usual rowdy bunch isn’t there, but it’s bad enough even seeing two of them.
Daniel spots him right away and immediately nudges Kyle, and Sam turns to the front when he sees Kyle swiveling in his seat. Puck is staring up at the menu posted above the registers, his mouth hanging open as he reads. Sam squints at the colorful letters, trying to set his anxiety aside long enough to make sense of the words while Puck starts talking.
“Buttermilk waffles… with bacon, eggs… hash browns… want coffee?” Puck glances at him.
“No coffee, I won’t be able to fall asleep when we get back,” Sam replies. “I’ll just have whatever you’re having.”
“’Kay.” Puck steps up to the sleepy-looking cashier and starts ordering. Sam grabs a wad of napkins and leans against the counter, discreetly peeking at Kyle’s table. He tenses when he sees them stand out of the corner of his eye, and for one terrible moment he thinks they’re going to come over and out him in front of Puck, but they head toward the door. Sam lets out a soft breath of relief when he hears the bell chime as they leave.
“Grab us a table, will you?” Puck says. Sam straightens, and Puck’s gaze lingers for a moment longer. “You okay?”
“I’m fine,” Sam says. “Just sleepy because someone dragged me out for waffles at two in the morning.”
“There’s no better time for waffles than at two in the morning,” Puck says wryly, then grins. Sam gives him a half-smile in return, then goes off to get a table underneath a painting of a rooster.
Puck joins him a few minutes later, setting down a tray with two plates of heaping waffles. Puck sits down and immediately starts shoveling hash browns into his mouth while Sam pours syrup over his food. He tries to relax, but he has a nagging suspicion in the back of his mind. Kyle and Daniel had left too quickly. Maybe they just hadn’t wanted to risk a fight. Both of their teams could be disqualified if they cause trouble before the game.
“Hey,” Puck says, talking around a mouthful of eggs. “I dare you to fit three waffles in your mouth at once. No chewing.”
“I want to see how many waffles you can fit in that giant mouth of yours.”
Sam’s lips quirk up into a smile. “So you can sit there and laugh at me? No way. You gotta do it, too.”
“Dude, no. I’m not stretching out my face like that. I have to maintain these killer looks.”
“All right, then.” Sam turns around and grabs a bottle of syrup from the table behind him. He sets it in front of Puck, then takes the original bottle from their table. “I dare you to chug that entire bottle.”
“That’s totally not fair. You haven’t even eaten anything yet,” Puck points out, gesturing at his plate. Sam picks up his fork and starts stabbing at his waffles.
“Okay, fine. We’ll both finish eating, then chug the syrup.”
Puck smirks, crunching on a strip of bacon. “Dude, I’m going to cream you. I’m a badass. You look like a softy.”
Sam glances at him sharply for a moment, then focuses on his plate again. Puck goes on eating, and Sam tries to relax, telling himself Puck hadn’t meant gay, and there’s no way he could know anyway.
“So you want to go out after the game tomorrow? Introduce me to your old friends?” Puck asks casually. “We’re not leaving until the morning after so we can totally get wasted and stuff.”
“I don’t know, they might already have plans,” Sam says uneasily. “When I was here we never really partied with the other team after a game.”
“But this is different. You’re here now. You can, like, transcend teams and stuff since you’ve been on both.”
“Maybe.” Sam smiles tightly, swirling his bacon into the pool of syrup on his plate. “I usually just crash after a game.”
“Yeah, just putting it out there,” Puck says. “I just didn’t want you to think that we’d haze you or anything for associating with the enemy. You can hang with the Darlington losers if you want.”
“Yeah, thanks,” Sam replies softly, putting a giant forkful of waffle and egg into his mouth so he won’t have to talk anymore. Puck scrapes his fork against his plate as he finishes, and Sam stacks their plates up when he’s done, then grasps the syrup. Puck grins at him, one eyebrow quirked as he picks up his own bottle.
“So, you think you can chug your syrup before me? I bet you won’t even make it through the half the bottle,” Puck says.
“I’ve had practice,” Sam informs him. “I used to do this with my old team all the time.”
“I’ll still wipe the floor with you. The Puckasaurus never loses at anything.”
Sam laughs at the nickname. “Wow. You actually call yourself that?”
“Dude, the Puckasaurus is an awesome name. Dinosaurs are badass.”
“Um, maybe if you’re five.”
Puck gives him a long look. “I underestimated you, Evans. I didn’t think you had any bite in you.”
“There’s a difference between being an asshole, like you, and being a pushover, like you seem to think I am,” Sam says. “I’m neither.”
“You’re something in-between, huh?”
“Exactly. I’m a mystery.”
“Well, the Puckasaurus never backs down from a challenge. I’m gonna figure you out,” Puck states. Sam’s stomach sinks a little. They’re just messing around, but what if Puck does actually figure him out? What if he finds out he’s gay? Sam clenches his hand around the syrup bottle, taking a slow breath and telling himself he’s overreacting.
“First, I’ll tackle the challenge at hand,” Puck goes on, lifting his bottle. “You ready for some serious chugging?”
“I’m ready.” Sam unwinds slowly, then grins. “All right. On the count of three, start guzzling.”
“One,” Puck says, his eyes glinting.
Sam picks up his bottle. “Two.”
Sam dips his head back and starts pouring syrup into his mouth. The sweet liquid tastes good on his tongue at first, but the more he pours, the heavier it starts to feel. He glances at Puck, watching his Adam’s apple bob as he swallows.
“Getting distracted by my killer good looks?” Puck asks with a smirk, taking the bottle from his mouth as he swallows loudly. Sam nearly chokes on his syrup and starts coughing, color rising in his cheeks.
“Dude, no time-outs allowed,” Puck says. “Not unless you’re actually about to die. In that case, say uncle or something.”
“I’m fine,” Sam rasps. He clears his throat and grabs the bottle again. “You’re giving up that easily?”
“Not a chance.” Puck starts chugging again, and Sam squirts more syrup into his mouth. The sugar overload is starting to leave a burning sensation in his throat, but he keeps swallowing until he has to take another breather before he pukes.
Puck’s cheeks are flushed as he keeps drinking, his eyes glittering with laughter as he catches Sam’s gaze. Sam can’t help grinning, suddenly feeling more at ease with Puck than he’s felt with anyone in a long time. Even though there’s always the underlying fear that the truth will come out and Puck won’t want anything to do with him anymore, right now, just the two of them guzzling syrup at a Waffle House at two in the morning, is perfect.
“I’m smoking you, man,” Puck laughs, wiping his mouth as he holds up his bottle. “Already half done. You suck.”
“No. I’m the tortoise. Slow and steady wins the race,” Sam shoots back, smiling widely.
“I refuse that metaphor. I’m not the hare. Rabbits are not badass.”
“Hares aren’t the same as rabbits. They can be pretty cool. They’re, like, the cooler version of rabbits.”
“Dude.” Puck stares at him. “You’re totally a geek in the body of a football player.”
“It’s called not being dumb,” Sam retorts, lifting his bottle again. Puck snorts, and they both chug down more syrup. Sam is feeling more than a little queasy as he holds in a mouthful of sticky liquid, trying to get himself to swallow. A golden drop runs down Puck’s chin as he gets closer to draining the bottle.
“I’m winning,” Puck says, running his tongue over his teeth. “You look sick.”
Sam waves him off, grimacing as he forces himself to swallow. “I’m just getting started.”
Puck shakes his head and laughs. “You’re so done.”
Sam shuts his eyes and takes another gulp, then claps a hand over his mouth and slams the bottle on the table. He can hear Puck laughing loudly, and Sam would have joined in if it wouldn’t have meant spraying the table with syrup.
“I win!” Puck announces. Sam finally gulps the syrup down and groans, chuckling weakly.
“Say it.” Puck points a finger at him. “Say I win.”
“Jesus. You win,” Sam says with a broad smile. “Are you happy? You’re the syrup king, which, may I inform you, is a completely non-badass title.”
“Dude, don’t be a sore loser.” Puck grins, sitting back. “It doesn’t matter what I’m king of. Puckasaurus is the king. Now how badly do you wanna puke?”
“I’m not going to puke.”
“Sure.” Puck grabs a bunch of jelly packets and tears them open. For a moment Sam thinks Puck’s actually going to eat the jelly, even after nearly draining an entire bottle of syrup.
“You’re like a human trash disposal,” Sam remarks. Puck arches a brow, his smirk firmly in place as he places three open packets of jelly on the table, then slaps his palm down on top of them.
“Puck!” Sam yells as jelly squirts onto his chin and t-shirt. Puck lets out a maniacal peal of laughter while Sam stares in disbelief.
“You lost. That was the price of losing,” Puck says.
“I’m covered in jelly!”
“Okay, seriously? It’s, like, less than an ounce.”
Sam’s lips slowly curve upwards into a grin as he takes in Puck’s best impression of looking innocent. He looks absolutely ridiculous, considering there’s nothing innocent about Puck. Sam starts to laugh, and Puck joins in, and Sam swears if he laughs any harder he’s going to vomit right on the table.
“Get me some napkins,” Sam manages to say between giggles. Puck throws a wad across the table, and Sam wipes the jelly off his face.
“You missed a spot,” Puck says, leaning over to reach Sam’s face. Sam holds still for Puck, then yelps when Puck smears more jelly onto his cheek.
“Puck, seriously, you’re not five years old!”
“It’s too easy, man,” Puck says, dissolving into laughter again. “You’re so gullible.”
“Only because I constantly overestimate your intelligence,” Sam says. He catches the cashier staring daggers at them from behind the register, and Sam sobers slightly, clearing his throat. He points to Puck. “He’s going to clean this up.”
“I am?” Puck asks, looking at the streaks of jelly on the table. Sam stifles another laugh, sliding out from his chair.
“Yes. Clean it up. I’m gonna go wash this shit off me,” Sam says, standing.
“Yeah, okay, princess,” Puck says, retrieving more napkins as Sam heads to the back. “I’ll be there in a sec.”
Sam makes his way to the restrooms near the back exit, still grinning softly. Puck is crazy, but it’s been so long since Sam’s had an actual friend at school—and on the team, even—that he hardly cares that he’s just been attacked with jelly. Puck is so easy to be around, and he’s different because he’s in Glee, too. Sam isn’t about to go confessing his love of boys to anyone if he can help it, but he feels like maybe, maybe Puck won’t turn his back like his old teammates had. Maybe things at McKinley could be different.
Sam pushes open the bathroom door and heads for the sink, wetting a paper towel and cleaning the jelly off his shirt. He’ll have to bleach the stains out if he ever wants to wear it again. His mother will be pissed. It might be better to accidentally lose the shirt during the trip.
He bends over the basin and runs the tap until it’s warm, then splashes water on his face, washing away the sticky purple streaks. He hears the door open as he’s drying off his face.
“Remind me to leave this shirt in our hotel room,” Sam says, wiping off his forehead and squeezing his bangs dry. He turns around, expecting to see Puck, but his heart thuds in his chest when he comes face to face with Kyle.
“Sorry, you were expecting your boyfriend, right?” Kyle asks, his voice dripping his sarcasm. Sam is about to head past him without a word when Kyle pushes a hand against his chest, keeping him in place.
“You’re going to leave without even a hello?” Kyle asks. “Fuck, Sam, I thought we were buddies.”
“I need to head back,” Sam says. “We can talk tomorrow at the game if you want.”
“You’d feel safer there, huh? There’d be so many people around to protect you.”
“Are you threatening me?” Sam asks, narrowing his eyes.
Kyle smirks. “I believe I am. Daniel?”
Sam swivels around, but not quickly enough to stop Daniel from coming up behind him and grabbing his arms. Sam struggles to break his hold, fear and disbelief rising in him as Kyle comes forward.
The feelings are replaced by pain when Kyle rams his fist into his jaw so hard that Sam’s head snaps to one side. Kyle hits him again, and Sam tastes blood in his mouth, and when he hits him a third time, Sam’s mind momentarily goes black.
He can feel Daniel dragging him out of the bathroom, and he revives a bit when cool air hits his face. Sam groans as Daniel throws him down on the pavement, and Sam realizes they’re outside, behind the restaurant where the dumpsters are.
Sam shivers with pain when he touches his face and his fingers come away wet with blood. His nose is leaking blood and he’s pretty sure the inside of his mouth is bleeding, too.
“You deserve this,” Kyle spits, and Sam cries out in pain when Kyle kicks him right in the stomach. Sam falls heavily against the ground, squeezing his eyes shut. “You have the nerve to come here with your fucking boyfriend? The sight of you two makes me sick.”
“He’s not my fucking boyfriend,” Sam gasps out. “He’s my teammate. Kyle, what the hell is wrong with you? Picking a fight before the game could get us both disqualified.”
“That’s the least of my worries,” Kyle says, dropping to his knees beside Sam. He grabs Sam’s shirt and hauls him up while Sam lets out a soft whimper. “I’m more concerned about fags like you being allowed to stare at people like me in the locker rooms and out on the field. It’s disgusting, just like you.”
“If you could just hear yourself talk, you’d realize what a fucking idiot you sound like,” Sam hisses. Kyle snarls, drawing his hand back, and Sam feels pain explode against his face again. He tries to lift his arms to block the blows, but Kyle has the advantage of not being completely disoriented by pain, and in a second Daniel appears to hold him down, giving Kyle free reign.
“I never want to see your ass out here again,” Kyle says. He pauses his attack long enough for Sam to moan loudly and crack his eyes open, hazy with tears of pain. His vision swims for a moment, but he can see blood on Kyle’s fist.
“I didn’t do anything to you,” Sam grates out. “We used to be friends. Kyle, you used to be my best friend.”
“That was before you became a faggot.” Kyle stares down at him with hard eyes. Sam’s head drops to one side, panting as he feels blood slowly trickle around his mouth. He has to do something, but he can’t get up and fight back, and his mouth is so full of blood that he can hardly yell.
Sam is about to speak again when Kyle suddenly turns, and he catches a glimpse of someone before Kyle disappears from his side. He hears the thud of flesh hitting flesh, and Sam tries to crane his neck to see what’s happening.
“Puck,” Sam whispers as Daniel leaves his side to help Kyle. Sam struggles to sit up, managing to prop himself up on his side as he lifts his head. Puck punches Daniel with the force of a sledgehammer, and he crumples to the ground, then Puck returns his attention to Kyle, who’s putting up a better fight. The boys scuffle as Sam groans harshly, pushing himself onto his elbows.
Puck is letting loose on Kyle. Sam spits out blood as Puck knocks him to the ground, straddling him as he draws his fist back to hit him. Sam fights back a wave of pain, watching blurrily as Kyle starts yelling at Puck to stop. Even after everything that’s happened, a part of him still hurts when he hears Kyle’s voice. They used to be inseparable, and Sam never thought twice about sticking up for him before his secret had come out.
“Puck,” Sam calls, his voice hoarse. He coughs, wincing at the pain that spreads over his face, and tries again. “Puck!”
Puck hesitates as he glances quickly at Sam. Kyle groans, his hands moving to cover his face.
“Stop,” Sam says, spitting again before he continues. “If you hurt him too bad, our teams are both gonna be sacked.”
Puck clenches his jaw, then turns back to Kyle. Sam waits tensely until Puck leans down and stares at him.
“If you don’t leave right now, I’m gonna tell our coach that you jumped our QB for no reason,” Puck snarls. “And trust me—you don’t want her on your back.”
Kyle hesitates for a long moment while Puck’s expression grows more violent, then nods. Puck climbs off him and Kyle gets up, then drags Daniel to his feet as they both head out to the parking lot. They disappear to the other side of the building, and Sam hears a car start and pull out of the lot.
“Sam?” Puck asks, kneeling beside him. Sam lets out a breath, relief suddenly flooding through him, and Puck scoots closer as Sam sinks against him, closing his eyes. Puck draws an arm around his back, helping him sit up as he tilts Sam’s face into the glow of the streetlight.
“Shit,” Puck says under his breath.
“I’m all right,” Sam says finally. “I think it looks worse than it actually is.”
“I hope so,” Puck mutters. “Can you stand?”
“Yeah.” Sam groans softly as Puck helps him to his feet. Thankfully Kyle hadn’t kicked him hard enough to leave any damage—if he’d broken a rib, he’d be out of the season for a while. Sam follows meekly as Puck leads him back into the Waffle House and to the bathroom. Sam finally catches a glimpse of his face in the mirror, and he inhales sharply when he sees blood everywhere, even splattered on his shirt among the jelly stains.
Puck pulls out some paper towels and runs them under the tap, then carefully starts wiping the blood from Sam’s face, starting with his cheek. Sam winces and grabs his wrist, breathing slowly through the pain until he can open his eyes again.
“I’ll do it,” Sam says, taking the wet tissue. He leans closer to the mirror, slowly wiping away the red smears until he can finally see enough to inspect the damage to his face. He sees Puck’s reflection in the mirror as he stands back and bites his lip, his brow furrowed as he watches Sam.
Sam’s lip is split on one side and his nose is still tender and bleeding, but even though there’s dizzying pain when he touches it, he doesn’t think it’s broken. His skin is red from taking Kyle’s fist so many times, and he’s going to have some impressive bruises tomorrow, but at least all his bones are intact. Sam cups his hands together and fills them with water, then rinses out his mouth. The water stings against his cuts, and when he spits it comes out pink, though Sam is just satisfied that he still has all his teeth.
“Should we go to the ER?” Puck asks suspiciously, looking concerned. Sam turns off the water and dries his hands, then turns to Puck as he holds a wad of tissues against his bleeding nose.
“I’m fine. Let’s go back to the hotel,” Sam says.
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah.” Sam heads for the door, his head throbbing with every step. He must look unsteady on his feet because Puck hovers so close that Sam can feel the heat of his body.
They walk most of the way in silence. Sam’s stomach is churning with nerves, his face hot with embarrassment. He’s pretty sure Puck had come out just in time to hear Kyle call him a faggot. Puck’s probably wondering about him now, and Sam’s going to have to say goodbye to his love of football because apparently it’s not going to work out here, either.
His foot hits the curb and he stumbles, and before he can smack his already aching face into the pavement, Puck grabs him around the waist. Sam lets out a short grunt of pain because his stomach is still sore from Kyle’s kick, and Puck loosens his grip slightly but doesn’t let go.
“Careful, dude,” Puck says, steadying him. “You know, I think you should go to the hospital.”
“I’m fine,” Sam says.
“You look dizzy.”
“My head just hurts. I’ll be okay, I just need to lie down.” Sam pauses, one hand resting on Puck’s arm around his waist. “You can let go now.”
“Oh. My bad,” Puck mumbles, stepping back. Sam takes a deep breath, dabbing at his bloody nose. There’s no way to make this less awkward. It just sucks because Sam really enjoyed being Puck’s friend.
“You’re probably wondering why my old friends hate me so much,” Sam says softly as they enter the hotel. They head for the elevators, and Puck waits until the doors swoosh open before speaking.
“Two guys ganged up on you at a fucking Waffle House,” Puck says, hitting the button for the fourth floor. “That’s so not badass. The Darlington team is made of a bunch of cowards.”
Sam leans against the wall, looking at Puck from beneath his lowered lashes. “They’re okay.”
“No, they’re not okay,” Puck says suddenly, his eyes bright with anger. “I don’t care if you used to be buddies with them. I come out there and see them pounding in your fucking face—how am I supposed to react? And if you’re defending them, then you’re an idiot, too.”
The doors open and Sam pushes himself off the wall, then nearly stumbles again. He feels Puck’s hand on his arm, and when the wave of dizziness passes, he looks up into Puck’s concerned face.
“I’m okay,” Sam says for what he feels like is the hundredth time. “Sorry.”
“You don’t have to apologize to me,” Puck says, leading Sam forward with one hand while holding the elevator doors open with the other. “I just want to know what the hell is going on and if we have to worry about what those guys are going to do during the game tonight.”
Sam stays silent as they head to their room. Puck unlocks the door and gestures Sam inside, and Sam goes to the bathroom to inspect his face again. He tosses away his bloody tissue, then flinches when the door swings open and Puck comes in.
“What?” Puck asks, his brow furrowing.
“Nothing,” Sam replies. “You just startled me.”
Puck gives him a long look. “You know, I heard what Kyle called you.”
“Oh,” Sam says, his hand shaking lightly as he runs a finger down his bruised cheek. At least his nose has stopped bleeding. “So you heard him call me a faggot about ten times in a row.”
Sam grips the edge of the sink. “I’m fine. You don’t have to stay.”
“What do you mean? Do you want some privacy?” Puck asks, backing out of the doorway.
“I mean, if you’re uncomfortable sharing a room with me, I get it. I’m not going to cry over it. You can go if you want,” Sam says. He looks in the mirror again, absently thinking he could use some ice.
“Go where?” Puck raises a brow when Sam glances at him.
“I don’t know. Somewhere you don’t have to spend the night with a fag.” Sam swallows, holding himself completely still. There, he said it. He can’t put himself back in the closet now. Puck can take it or leave it—Sam just hopes he doesn’t get his face bashed in again.
Puck doesn’t speak for a long moment. Sam sighs, closing his eyes as his head throbs painfully.
“Sorry,” Sam mumbles. “I guess I could get a different room.”
“What are you talking about?” Puck says finally. “I feel like Finn right now. Confused as fuck.”
“I’m gay, Puck. I’m gay, and that’s why Kyle and Daniel jumped me. Because it’s gross to have a gay dude on the football team where he can ogle all the other players in the locker room.”
“Um… Hummel was on the football team.”
“Kurt?” Sam asks, surprised.
Puck nods. “Yeah, he was on the team. Dude’s a pretty rad kicker. He did this gay little dance before every kick—no offense—but he got the job done.”
Sam blinks as he looks at Puck suspiciously. He can’t tell if Puck is being serious or if he’s just pulling his leg before he goes running to tell the rest of the team to shun Sam.
“You know, I really think you should lie down,” Puck says. Sam takes a deep breath, putting a hand against his head as the room tilts slightly. He sees Puck come forward and feels him place a hand on his back as he leads him toward his bed. Sam gingerly lies down with a soft sigh, staring blearily at the ceiling.
“I’ll be right back. I’m going to get some ice for your face,” Puck says. The door clicks shut as Puck leaves. Sam lets out a groan once he’s gone, wishing he could just bury his head beneath the pillow and never speak to anyone again. He can’t believe he’s just come out to Puck. He’s not ready for everyone in the world to know, especially not the football team.
Puck returns after a moment, sliding onto the bed with him as he hands over an ice pack. Sam takes the bag and hisses as he gently places it against his jaw.
“The lady at the desk said if you need alcohol wipes or anything, it’s a buck for a pack of ten,” Puck says. “I could get some if you want.”
“If you say so.” Puck purses his lips, looking around. “So, like… how bad is it?”
“What? My face?” Sam looks up at him, wondering why he’s still even here.
“Well, it hurts.”
“I know that,” Puck scoffs. “I’m just wondering if you’re gonna be able to play tonight.”
Sam sighs, looking away. He’s sure he can play. It’ll hurt, but it’s just a little pain. Nothing’s broken, and he’s taken worse out on the field anyway.
“I don’t really want to see Kyle and Daniel again,” Sam says quietly. “Or anyone from Darlington, really.”
Puck nods, fidgeting with the sheets. “Yeah, I get that.”
“We used to be friends,” Sam says. “I got careless at a party at Kyle’s house once and he caught me… kissing a guy. In his room. He kind of… reacted badly.”
“Did he do worse than what he did to you tonight?”
“No, he didn’t hit me. He went downstairs and told everyone I was a faggot.” Sam furrows his brow as he remembers how it had felt, like being torn open and having everyone prodding at his insides. “I wish he’d hit me instead.”
“That’s low,” Puck says, shaking his head. “You don’t do that to your buddies. You don’t air out their shit like that.”
“What would you do if you found your best friend making out with a guy?” Sam asks. Puck raises his eyebrows as he ponders the question.
“Finn? Kissing a dude? Well, you know, I’d have to mock him for a while. And maybe be angry that he didn’t tell me before.” Puck pauses, drumming his fingers against the bedspread. “Then I’d have to make sure that the dude he was kissing wasn’t a loser. If you date someone cool and hot, then you can kind of mooch off their status, you know? Ever since Finn started dating Berry he’s been a total loser. He’d probably be better off with a dude.”
Sam can barely believe what he’s hearing. “Wouldn’t you be grossed out?”
“Well… not really,” Puck says, shrugging. “You’re gay, right? You’re still cool. I mean, you’re not Hummel, anyway. You’re, like, a regular dude. I think your friend Kyle’s a douche. It’s never cool to smash your friend’s face in unless he’s kissed your girl or something. Or guy, I guess.”
Sam struggles to sit up, his ice pack falling onto the bed, and Puck looks surprised but he reaches out to support him. Sam stifles a groan, but he doggedly props himself up. He doesn’t want to be lying down when he asks his next question.
“Puck?” Sam bites his lip softly, then winces when his tongue touches the salty taste of blood. “Can you please… please not tell anyone I’m gay? I know you probably want me off the team now, but it killed me how things ended up at Darlington. I don’t want that to happen at McKinley. I’m just not ready for everyone to know. I wasn’t ready before and I’m not ready now.”
“I don’t want you off the team,” Puck blurts out. “Dude, no way. You’re an awesome player. Why I would want you off the team?”
“Because…” Sam pauses, startled. “I’m… gay.”
“So… Kyle thought it was gross to have a gay guy around a bunch of other dudes on the football team.”
“I already said Kyle was a douche. Do you, like, rape people for fun?”
“No,” Sam says, pulling a face. “What the f—”
“Then I don’t understand how you being gay equates to you not being able to play football,” Puck continues. “I mean, if you don’t want to play, then that’s different. But… no one cares if you’re gay.”
Sam stares at him, and Puck rolls his eyes.
“Okay, yeah, you’re gonna get a slushie facial everyday if you come out,” Puck says. “But I don’t care if you’re gay. And we’ve already established that you’re not telling anyone. So I’m not really seeing the problem here, unless you really want to quit the team.”
“I don’t want to quit,” Sam says earnestly, swallowing. His throat suddenly feels tight. “I just… I thought you’d react… differently.”
“Like, how?” Puck asks slowly.
“Like Kyle.” Sam looks down, his face feeling hot. He doesn’t want Puck to know how awkward it is to even be having this conversation, how exposed it makes him feel.
“You thought I’d go running out and telling everyone on the team that you’re into dudes, and then… beat you up?” Puck arches a brow. “Okay, I know I’m kind of a douche, but that I’m not that kind of a douche. You’re on the team. You’re QB. You’re… you know.”
“I’m what?” Sam asks uncertainly.
Puck hesitates, then clears his throat. “You know, you’re… we’re friends.”
“I thought Kyle was my friend, too,” Sam says in a quiet voice. “Then when he found out I was gay, he suddenly thought I wanted to get on every dick within a ten-mile radius.”
“Well, you were wrong about him. Not all of us can be right all the time,” Puck says, the corner of his mouth quirking up. “Not all of us can be awesome like the Puckasaurus.”
Sam blinks quickly, then watches as Puck grabs the fallen ice pack. Puck puts a hand on Sam’s shoulder and gives him a gentle push.
“Lie down,” Puck says, and Sam obeys silently. Puck holds the ice pack over his face, hovering uncertainly. “I don’t want to hurt you.”
“Just put it somewhere bruised,” Sam says thickly. He closes his eyes as Puck presses it softly against his cheek. The mixture of cold and pain makes him let out a little grunt, prickly warmth stinging his eyes.
“Dude—” Puck starts in concern.
“It’s fine,” Sam responds, drawing in a sharp breath. “I just don’t want it to swell up too bad.”
“Sam.” Puck’s voice sobers, and Sam opens his eyes, swallowing down his embarrassment when he feels moisture in them. Puck’s brow is furrowed slightly as he gazes down at Sam.
“I’m fine,” Sam repeats shakily. “I just…”
“You know, you got your ass handed to you today,” Puck says. “And then you came out with this big old secret. It’s okay to be a little rattled, you know. I mean, under the circumstances, you’re exempt from being a wuss.”
Sam sniffles, gritting his teeth. Heat rushes to his face despite the ice, and he waits for one horrified second as he feels a tear slide down the side of his cheek. Puck doesn’t say anything as Sam pushes his hand away, then inhales deeply, scrubbing at his eyes.
“I shouldn’t have chugged the goddamn syrup,” Sam groans.
“What?” Puck asks.
“The syrup. I feel sick.” Sam wipes his eyes again, looking at Puck blearily. “And my head hurts. And you…”
Puck frowns. “What did I do?”
“You’re just sitting there like an asshole.” Sam gulps in a breath, meeting Puck’s eyes. “And I just, I can’t wrap my head around the fact that you’re…”
Puck looks at him, waiting for him to go on. Sam sees Kyle in his mind, and then Puck who was willing to fight for him even after he heard Kyle call him a faggot. Now Puck is sitting before him, the truth lying bare between them, and he’s not running away or running Sam away.
“I guess I’ve just never had a friend like you before,” Sam says, almost mumbling. “I thought things would fall apart if anyone found out I was gay. But you’re… you’re being really, really cool about it.”
“I’m a cool dude,” Puck says, shrugging.
“Thanks,” Sam says softly, and Puck shrugs again. “No, I mean it. You have no idea how much I mean it. I’m out to my parents, but I’ve never come out to anyone my own age. By choice, I mean.”
“You’re welcome. Are you still gonna puke?”
Sam lets out a sudden chuckle, wiping his eyes again. He shakes his head, and Puck holds out the ice pack. Sam guides it onto his face, and he’s a little surprised when Puck doesn’t let go. He holds it gently to Sam’s warm cheek.
“I’ll hold it,” Puck offers. “Just close your eyes. No offense, but you look pretty bad. You could use the sleep.”
“None taken,” Sam says, grinning softly. Puck snaps off the bedside lamp, then settles down beside him. Sam doesn’t comment on Puck’s empty bed. Instead he closes his eyes and lets out a slow, calming breath as it sinks in that his entire existence at McKinley hasn’t been wrecked after all.
“Sam?” Puck asks softly after they’ve lain in silence for a moment.
“I get it if you don’t want to play against Kyle and Daniel tonight. But it would really suck if you pulled out of the game.”
“You guys would do fine without me,” Sam replies. “Finn can lead you.”
“It would be a pretty cool fuck you to Kyle and Daniel if you went out there and kicked their asses fair and square, though,” Puck says, and Sam smiles in the darkness.
“Yeah, it would,” Sam admits. “That would feel pretty cool.”
“You shouldn’t give them the satisfaction of knowing they took you out, either.”
“I don’t want to, believe me.” Sam reaches up and touches Puck’s hand, moving the ice pack higher onto his cheekbone. “I don’t want to let the team down, either.”
“You should take it easy on the face, but I’m pretty sure you could beat them,” Puck says confidently.
“We could. I don’t want the whole team gunning for Kyle and Daniel, though, so if I’m gonna play, you’ve got to help me come up with an excuse as to why it looks like I went ten rounds with a block of cement.”
Puck pauses as he thinks. “You walked into a door.”
“Um… exactly how many times did I walk into this door?”
“Okay, okay, I got it. You tripped and you smacked your face against a door, then also hit a table on your way down.”
“I think more people would believe that I got mauled by a wild dog than that,” Sam says.
“You got any better suggestions?” Puck asks.
Sam smiles again. “Not really. Maybe if you sleep on it, you can come up with something that isn’t completely stupid.”
“Will do. Don’t worry, I won’t be totally gay and spend the whole night in your bed. I’ll just ice your face a little longer.”
“Thanks, Puck.” Sam feels like he should say more, but the silence between them is comfortable, and he thinks Puck understands. He glances at the green letters of the alarm clock on the nightstand. It’s nearly three in the morning, and if he wants to be functional by the time the game begins tonight, he needs some rest. They both do.
Sam wakes with a start as faint rays of light start filtering in through the blinds. His eyelids still feel heavy and he barely remembers falling asleep. The coldness is gone from his face and he realizes Puck must have gone to bed after he’d fallen asleep. Sam shifts sleepily, then stops when he feels a weight on his body.
Puck is snoring right into his ear. Sam turns in alarm, realizing that Puck is still in his bed—and not only that, but he’s touching him. Puck’s hand is resting lightly on Sam’s hip, like he’d considered wrapping an arm around him but didn’t make it all the way across his waist.
Sam’s gut instinct is to shove Puck out of his bed and onto the floor. Sam wouldn’t fool around with Puck in a million years—not because the attraction isn’t there, because Puck is definitely a good-looking guy with a great body, but because Puck is just a friend. Plus, he’s straight. And he’s a player. Sam is the opposite of both of those things.
Puck is fast asleep. Sam sighs softly, moving slightly so that Puck’s warm breath isn’t tickling his ear. He could always get up and go to Puck’s empty bed, but Sam stays where he is. Puck’s hand is a comforting weight against his hip, a promise that Puck’s not going to ditch him like his old teammates had.
Sam reaches down and carefully slides his fingers beneath Puck’s hand, lifting it gently. He holds on for a moment longer than he means to; Puck has large, strong hands, a little rough and callused from endless hours of football and guitar playing. Sam places Puck’s hand lightly on the bed, his thumb skimming over Puck’s knuckles before he pulls away.
Sam turns away from Puck and closes his eyes again.
- - - - -
The bus ride back is a little different. Sam is trying to fight off the inevitable post-game crash he always gets where the adrenaline finally wears off and he’s just left feeling exhausted. His mouth guard had been downright painful to shove in and wear for the whole game, and now his entire jaw is sore, so he’s downed some mild painkillers to take the edge off.
He looks blearily at the empty seat beside him from where he’s nestled on two spare pillows resting against the window. He knows he’s just tired and the medicine is messing with his head, but it makes him feel a little sad.
“Finn says hey,” Puck announces as he appears in the aisle, sliding into his seat. Sam tries to raise his eyebrows, but decides that moving his face involves too much effort. His spirits lighten considerably now that Puck is back, though.
“Yeah. I mean, he said you were awesome tonight, too, but whatever.” Puck rummages beneath his seat and tears open a bag of Doritos. “He also said to take it easy because he knows what it feels like to have walked into a door.”
“God, I can’t believe he actually bought that,” Sam mutters with a chuckle. The whole team had been really nice to him when he’d showed up with his bruised face. Sam hadn’t been able to lie to Coach Beiste, though, but she’s keeping his secret to herself. Sam likes her a lot.
“It’s Finn. Believe it,” Puck says. Sam can’t help smiling. He likes Puck a lot, too—and Finn. And the whole team, really. Even though he’s not out to most of them, at least he knows Puck will support him. Puck told him earlier that Finn would definitely have his back, too.
“Feeling loopy yet?” Puck asks, opening a bottle of Coke and taking a swig. He offers Sam the bottle and Sam reaches out to take it, sitting up gingerly.
“I’ve been feeling loopy since I heard the final score,” Sam says, drinking. He grimaces as the fizzy liquid stings the cuts in his mouth.
“Forty-one to seven.” Puck grins. “We kicked ass.”
“Major ass,” Sam says. He remembers when they were announced as the winners and how Puck had grabbed him in excitement as the entire team stormed the field in celebration. He smiles again when he remembers how Puck had immediately pulled him out of the crowd and apologized worriedly for hurting his face (“Shit, Sam, I totally forgot you took a beat down earlier! Are you okay?”).
“Felt pretty awesome to beat those smug Darlington bitches, too,” Puck says, and Sam sighs as he nods. Puck glances at him. “What?”
“Nothing.” Sam hands him his Coke with a shrug. “I guess I just wish things were different.”
“Oh.” Puck blinks slowly, like it’s just occurred to him that Sam might not be thinking only of how they scored a victory against Darlington, but how he’s also lost his friends tonight.
“It’s okay.” Sam leans against the window again, adjusting his pillows. “I know they weren’t friends worth having. It just sucks, you know?”
“Yeah, you’re right.” Puck suddenly makes a fist and thrusts his hand out, his knuckles facing Sam. “But trust me, you’ve got better friends now.”
“I hardly know anyone here,” Sam points out.
“Well, you’ve got a better friend now. Yours truly,” Puck corrects himself, a smirk on his lips. Sam feels a tug at his mouth and grins sheepishly as he bumps fists with Puck.
“I guess I do,” Sam says softly, holding his pale knuckles against Puck’s tanned ones for a moment longer than necessary. It’s the pain meds; they’re making him slow. “God, I’m sleepy.”
“Sleep. Your face still looks like shit.”
“Wow, thanks,” Sam laughs. “Some friend you are.”
“You can always trust me to tell you the truth.” Puck waves a dismissive hand at him. “Now sleep. Seriously. You look tired.”
Sam closes his eyes with a dopey smile still playing on his lips, and it’s not from the medicine this time. He falls asleep to the sound of Puck crunching on Doritos, the bus humming rhythmically beneath them.
He wakes up later with a crick in his neck. The bus is silent and dark as they slip down the highway, and Sam grimaces as he slowly sits up, rubbing his aching neck. He’s been sleeping too long on one side.
He glances over and finds Puck fast asleep, his mouth hanging open as he snores quietly. Most everyone has crashed by now, sleeping off the post-game euphoria. Sam stifles a yawn, wincing as his jaw gives a painful twinge.
Sam looks at Puck, studying him carefully in the darkness. Puck has really nice features. Sam especially appreciates that Puck’s mouth is actually in proportion to his face. He scratches his head and sighs, bushing his bangs back. He really wishes he wasn’t on a bus right now. He needs a bed, and possibly some more ice. The game had been awesome, but now he feels absolutely battered.
Sam picks up his pillows from the window and tries to position them on the other side of his seat without touching Puck, but the armrest is too far down. There’s nothing else separating their seats. Sam hesitates, glancing at Puck again for a long moment to make sure he’s really asleep, then slowly rests one pillow against the slope of Puck’s arm.
Whatever. Puck had practically slept on him back at the hotel anyway.
Sam settles down against the pillow, reveling in how much softer it feels now that it’s not resting against the hard window. There’s no one looking. The whole team is asleep. Sam shuts his eyes and tries not to put too much weight on Puck as he gets comfortable.
Sam’s eyes fly open as he cringes at the sound of Puck’s quiet voice.
“Hm?” Sam mumbles anxiously. Fuck, he really thought Puck had been asleep.
“Uh-huh…” Sam swallows. “Um, sorry, I’ll—”
“Nah, it’s okay. You can stay where you are, I don’t mind.”
Sam pauses, then attempts some feeble humor. “This isn’t, like, too gay for you, is it?”
“Dude, hanging out with Hummel isn’t even too gay for me anymore,” Puck snorts. “He’s desensitized me to gayness.”
Sam bites back a grin.
“Um, no offense,” Puck says uncertainly, and Sam chuckles.
“It’s fine,” Sam says. He knows Puck means no harm. From the look in his eyes last night, Sam trusts Puck when he says he doesn’t care if he’s gay. He’d never seen that look on Kyle’s face.
“So, you totally owe me for this,” Puck continues, keeping his voice soft. “I’m kinda craving some more waffles…”
“You’d drag me to another Waffle House after what happened in Darlington?” Sam teases. “Fucking insensitive, dude.”
“Well, next time I’ll make sure I scope out the bathrooms for you first. Or maybe I’ll just come with you and hold your hand while you pee.”
“This is getting too gay even for me.”
Puck laughs quietly. “Puckasaurus, one. Evans, zero.”
“Shut up,” Sam says, slipping his eyes closed. “Ask me to go any other night. I’m totally up for waffles with you.”
This verse is continued in I'm Numbing My Feeling (I Know I'm Better in Denial).