Word Count: 9337
Notes: This is set in the same 'verse as The Right Side of Reason and I'm Numbing My Feeling.
Summary: Sam lives by two simple rules: don't date anyone who disses Batman, and don't molest straight boys. Unfortunately, he's having trouble with the second one.
Sam rubs some mousse onto his hair and combs his bangs in an effort to look presentable, then checks his teeth in the mirror to make sure he doesn’t have anything stuck in them from the fruit and nut bar he’s just eaten. He would rather stay home and fall asleep to reruns of Fresh Prince, but Coach Beiste had made it very clear that attendance was mandatory tonight. The booster club is throwing a party for the athletic department at McKinley, and since more than half of the football team’s funding comes from the busybody booster parents, the team is required to show up and be on their best behavior.
He blows out a sigh as he adjusts his collar and grabs the silk tie he’s draped over a chair. Beiste had told them to look nice, so Sam figures a plaid shirt and tie would be okay paired with some dark jeans. His mind wanders as he knots the tie at his throat. He wonders if Puck will dress up, too.
Just thinking about him makes Sam’s face redden because he’s still embarrassed by how he’d acted while he was drunk at Eight Ball. It’s been a couple of weeks, but Sam doesn’t get over utter mortification very easily, and he’d woken up the morning after with a huge hangover and very clear memories of practically trying to grope Puck’s crotch.
Sam lives by two very simple rules. One, never date anyone who disses Batman, because clearly those people have no taste. This first sacred statute is followed by the almost equally important rule number two: don’t molest straight boys. And Puck? Straight. As an arrow. Despite the fact that he’s kind of pinged on Sam’s gaydar a couple times—just a little bit.
Sometimes he’ll catch Puck looking at him in a way that makes Sam waver a bit. Sam is no stranger to confusion; he knows how it feels to be completely baffled by your own feelings, and sometimes he swears he sees an inkling of that reflecting in Puck’s eyes. It always disappears in the same instant that he notices, though, and Puck isn’t acting that much different. Besides, Puck has rekindled whatever weirdness he had going on before with Santana, even though their relationship consists entirely of fucking and zero communication. If that doesn’t scream straightness, Sam doesn’t know what does.
Sam puts on his shoes and grabs his keys as he passes through the kitchen. His parents are both out, and he sighs again. He could have had the house to himself if he didn’t have to go to this stupid party. Still, Puck will be there, so at least he’ll have fun. Maybe. It depends. Santana will probably be there, too—all the Cheerios will—and lately Puck has been stuck on her like glue. Sam is not above jealousy, and he’s definitely jealous. He even gets jealous when he passes Puck’s car, parked down the street away from the driveway, presumably so he can bail quicker.
The party is being hosted at one of the wealthier Cheerios’ house, and when Sam gets out of his car, he spends a moment staring at how big the house is. They have a pool. He frowns and wonders if Puck has ever brought his pool-cleaning business here. He’s probably nailed the lady of the house more than once.
“Hey, Sam!” Finn crosses the lawn, a smile on his face, and Sam lifts his hand in a wave.
“You shouldn’t be walking on the lawn,” Sam says, pointing at a “keep off the grass” sign. Sam likes Finn just fine, though they don’t talk very much outside of casual chats in the locker room.
“Oh. Oops.” Finn glances at the house, then turns back with a shrug. “Come inside, man. How are you?”
“Good, thanks,” Sam says, grateful that he doesn’t have to walk in on his own. Even after all this time, he’s still the new kid, and he thinks he probably always will be unless someone else decides to transfer to McKinley.
There’s soft music playing inside the house, background noise for the chattering of excited voices. Sam is glad his parents aren’t members of the booster club. He’d be too embarrassed to even speak to a boy, knowing that they’d probably be wondering whether he had a crush on him or not. He’s glad he’s out to his parents, but he really doesn’t want to think of them imagining their only son as a sexual being. Not that Sam is a sexual being at the moment. The only loving he’s getting is from himself.
Speaking of loving, he spies Puck and Santana near the glass doors in the back, and he swears Puck just had his hand under Santana’s skirt. Sam fights the urge to roll his eyes, then tells himself he’s being silly. He should be happy for Puck. But he’s not, because Puck is his only real friend here and he kind of wants him all to himself.
“Whoa,” Sam says as Rachel suddenly appears out of nowhere, beaming in his face.
“Hello, Sam, it’s good to see you,” she says, latching herself onto Finn’s arm. Sam is a little bit scared of Rachel. He’s also starting to feel a little awkward because he thinks he might be the only one here without a date.
“Hi,” Sam says, trying to think of something nice to say to stay on Rachel’s good side. She has some kind of shiny headband resting in her curls. “I like your, um… thing. In your hair.”
“Really?” Rachel says, suddenly looking at him a little more closely, and Sam realizes what he just said sounded completely gay. Guys never comment on things like that. He should have stuck with a vague you look very nice.
“Yeah, I mean, it’s, um… shiny,” Sam stammers. Oh, God, shut up, shut up, shut up. He looks at Puck laughing with Santana and wills him to come across the room and save him.
“Thank you. That’s very sweet, Sam,” Rachel says, smiling. “I can’t believe you hang out with Noah. He’s such a barbarian and you seem the exact opposite.”
“Come on, Rach, Puck’s not that bad,” Finn says, nudging her with that little half-smile on his lips that he always has. Sam looks at him, wondering about the relationship he and Puck had before. Sam knows Finn used to be his best friend before Puck knocked his girlfriend up. In a way he’s glad he missed all the drama, but another part of him wonders about who helped Puck through all that, because he also knows that neither Finn nor Quinn were being friendly to him.
“Noah is that bad,” Rachel says. “I mean, look at him with Santana. Could he be putting on a bigger show? Everyone knows he’s never been in a real relationship in his entire life.”
Sam fidgets slightly, biting the inside of his lip. He doesn’t want to get into it with Rachel, but he also doesn’t want to stand there and let her trash Puck—but he also doesn’t want to look like an idiot because everyone here has known Puck way longer than him. He lets out a little sigh of relief when Puck catches his eye and walks over.
“Hey, dudettes,” Puck says, propping his elbow on Sam’s shoulder. “What do you say we spice up this party?”
“Dude, there are tons of parents around,” Finn says in a stage whisper, and Sam’s lips quirk into a smile. “Plus, Coach Beiste will kill us if we do anything stupid.”
“I don’t mean we should all take our clothes off and run around,” Puck scoffs. “Most of us are just gonna hang in the rec room downstairs. We could play a game.”
“We could do karaoke,” Rachel suggests, and Puck boos loudly.
“This isn’t glee club, Berry.”
“Let’s play spin the bottle,” Santana suggests.
“That’s my girl,” Puck says, putting an arm around her shoulders as she grins at everyone with that sarcastically sweet yet terrifying smile of hers. Sam watches them with his hands in his pockets, then follows as the group heads toward the stairs. He snags a glass of punch on the way just to be doing something.
“What’s up?” Puck asks as they reach the bottom of the stairs. Santana goes off to sit with Brittany, leaving the two of them alone. Sam shrugs, looking at the expensively furnished rec room.
“You’re just being really quiet,” Puck says.
“Well, we’re gonna play spin the bottle. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to mack on Rachel.”
Sam shifts his gaze to Puck, his brows rising slightly. “Really, you think I want to kiss Rachel?”
“She’s a good kisser. We had a thing once. We had an obligation to hook up, being fellow hot Jews and all.”
“Oh.” Sam hadn’t known that. “So, what, you’ve hooked up with everyone here?”
“Well…” Puck looks around, pursing his lips. “Kind of. Yeah, I think so. Not the dudes, of course.”
Sam smiles faintly. “Yeah, of course. Rachel said you’ve never been in a real relationship before. Is that true?”
Puck shoots him a look, and Sam figures he shouldn’t have asked. There’s no reason for him to be grilling Puck anyway.
“Sorry, that’s none of my business,” Sam says, suddenly feeling isolated. Everyone here has so much history that he’s not a part of, and he feels like a tool trying to play catch-up just so he can understand. He looks around at the people clustered in a friendly group—Mercedes, Kurt, and Quinn have joined them downstairs, chatting with Santana and Brittany, and Finn and Rachel are sitting nearby, though enveloped in their own conversation. A bunch of other footballers and cheerios, including the two he likes the least—Karofsky and Azimio—are horsing around nearby. He sighs softly and starts to walk over, intending to sit and listen until he finds a way to ingratiate himself into someone’s group, but he stops when he feels Puck grab his arm.
“What?” Sam asks, turning around with a questioning glance.
“You mad at me, dude?” Puck arches an eyebrow.
“No. No, I’m not mad at you,” Sam says, relaxing. “I just feel weird. I don’t know—every time I’m around everyone here, I get completely lost. And… I don’t know what to think about the way Rachel talks about you.”
“Okay. One, never listen to anything Rachel says. Two, quit worrying so much.”
Sam can’t help smiling at him. “I hope you never consider a career in counseling because you really suck at it.”
“What I’m trying to say is that everyone already thinks you’re cool,” Puck says, shrugging. “You don’t have anything to prove.”
“I just want to know more,” Sam admits.
“You want to know about all my past non-relationships? We could be here for a while. And you have to spill on all yours, too.”
“You already know the thing I’m most ashamed of.”
Puck’s expression changes swiftly and he lowers his voice. “Wait, you’re… you’re ashamed of being gay?”
“No,” Sam says, taken aback. “No, I meant my whole friendship with Kyle and everything that happened at Darlington. The bullying. You know. I’m not ashamed of who I like, I’m just… a private person.”
“Oh.” Puck nods, but Sam thinks he’s looks a little tenser than before. “Right.”
“Why are you being so weird lately?” Sam asks bluntly, and Puck scowls.
“I’m not being weird. You’re being weird.”
“Look, if this has anything to do about what happened at Eight Ball—”
“—I’m sorry I acted like an asshole while I was drunk. I know you said it was okay, but I clearly freaked you out, and I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have… I should have just kept my hands off you.” Sam looks at him timidly, biting his lip. Puck just shakes his head, his eyes shifting to the group when Santana and Mercedes let out a particularly loud peal of laughter.
“It’s cool, Sam.”
“Are you sure? Because you’ve… things have just felt different between us,” Sam says quietly. “I know you’re dating Santana now, but I kind of miss when we just used to hang.”
“I know,” Puck mumbles, looking down at his shoes. “I’ve just been busy with her.”
“It’s cool, I don’t want to come between you guys, but I also don’t want to be the one who kind of… killed our friendship because of one bad night.”
Puck lifts his eyes, smirking. “Please. Don’t give yourself so much credit. If anyone ever wanted to kill our friendship, I would be the one doing the killing. That’s the kind of badassery that only I’m capable of.”
Sam smiles tentatively. “So we’re cool?”
“We’ve always been cool.” Puck gives his arm a friendly punch. “Stop over thinking things, Evans. Your brain can’t really handle it. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to find a bottle.”
Sam sits down with the rest of the group as Puck wanders off. He’s not really paying attention to the conversation, instead mulling on what Puck’s just said to him. He’s not entirely convinced everything is okay—he still has the distinct feeling that he’d been too gay with Puck and now Puck is just politely trying to forget it. The only thing he’s sure about is that he’s confused about where they stand. They’re just friends.
Sam swallows, his brow creasing slightly. They’re just friends, which means Sam is the one who’s over thinking this whole thing. Puck is being totally normal, spending time with his girl, hanging out with Sam when he can, and Sam has been reading too much into it. He likes Puck. He’s always liked him—Puck is a cool guy, a great friend, really fun to be around, and Sam likes hanging with him.
Christ. Does he have a crush on Puck?
He thinks about it. He misses Puck when he’s not around. He’s jealous whenever Puck is with Santana. He feels most comfortable when they’re just chilling in his room talking about inane things. He’s been spending an awful lot of time lately worrying about their relationship.
Jesus. He likes Puck. Sam runs a hand through his hair, feeling his cheeks reddening. How can he have a crush on his straight best friend? This is horrible. This is going to make everything even weirder than before.
Puck returns with a triumphant smile, holding a glass bottle, and everyone cheers and starts making a circle to prepare for the game. Sam sits on the floor beside Rachel, his brain still moving too quickly. It comes to a screeching halt, however, when Puck plops down on his other side, grinning. Santana sits across from Puck, her lips curved into a devilish smile.
“I’m ready to get my mack on,” she announces, and Puck laughs. Sam smiles feebly, glancing at Puck from the corner of his eye.
One thing is for certain. Puck can never, ever know.
- - - - -
“Let’s spice this up a little,” Santana says about half an hour later. The game has been going strong and so far Sam has only had to kiss Quinn, which is probably the person he would have chosen to kiss anyway because she seems like one of the more sane people here. Rachel has just spun and kissed Kurt, which was one of the most awkward things Sam has ever seen in his life.
“What do you have in mind?” Mercedes asks, and Sam’s stomach tightens a little as he takes in the gleam in Santana’s eyes. He really wishes Santana had waited one more turn to speak, because now he’s up and he’s pretty sure he’s going to have to do something really crazy.
“Seven minutes in heaven,” Santana suggests. “The next person who spins won’t just have to kiss anyone, they’ll have to spend seven minutes in the closet with whoever. And they have to kiss. With tongue. We’ll be checking. Then the rest of us will play regular spin the bottle until they’re done, and then whoever’s turn it is will do seven minutes in heaven again.”
“I guess that means you’re up, Sam,” Quinn says, laughing. Sam reluctantly grasps the bottle and gives it a spin, then sits back and hopes desperately it’ll land on himself. Or at least a girl. But not Santana.
The bottle slows down as the neck approaches him, and Sam hopes it’ll at least land on Rachel, which would be bad but not terrible, but it passes her and slowly points at him. Sam holds his breath, not daring to hope at his good fortune, but his stomach sinks as it nudges a tiny bit to the left.
The room erupts in laughter as Sam and Puck sit with shocked expressions on their faces. Quinn is pointing and laughing, and Brittany and Santana are doubled over each other. Kurt is giving Sam a knowing smirk, and Sam averts his eyes and glares at the bottle. He can already hear Karofsky and Azimio guffawing loudly.
“You two have to make out in the closet for seven minutes,” Santana orders. “Up and at ‘em.”
“Couldn’t we just… pass?” Sam mumbles. “I don’t like the rule change.”
“We don’t care, Lady Lips, now get in the closet,” Santana retorts, giving Brittany a high five.
“Come on, let’s go,” Puck says, nudging him, and Sam stares in disbelief as Puck starts getting up.
“Really? Are you serious?”
“The Puckasaurus never backs down from a challenge.” Puck grabs his arm and Sam has no choice but to stand. They make their way to the closet amidst hoots and catcalls. Sam hears some shuffling behind him and glances back to see Rachel scrambling after them.
“I’ll keep watch,” she says, and Sam’s anxiety heightens. He’s terrified that she’s already well on her way to figuring him out.
“You can’t watch us the whole time,” Puck says with a scowl.
“I won’t,” Rachel shoots back. “I’ll just check periodically and report back to everyone else that you’re following the rules. You won’t even notice me peeking in.”
“I think I’ll notice,” Sam says as Puck opens the closet door. He steps inside, being mindful not to disturb the coats and sweaters hanging around him. He takes a deep breath and faces Puck, who’s still busy giving Rachel dirty looks.
“Look, we can’t start with you watching us,” Puck says. “It’s weird. Get lost, Berry.”
“Fine, but I’m going to check in another thirty seconds or so, and you two better have started by then,” Rachel says, then closes the door. The closet is suddenly silent, and Sam nervously meets Puck’s eyes.
“Are we really going to do this?” Sam asks finally, and Puck actually looks surprised.
“It’s not going to mean anything,” Puck says, chuckling. Sam thinks it sounds forced.
“But still…” Sam hesitates, chewing on his bottom lip.
“It’s just a stupid game,” Puck says in a softer voice. “You didn’t feel anything when you kissed Quinn, right? It’s just like that. It’s no big deal. We have to do this, dude, or else everyone’s going to think I’m a wuss.”
“So this is really just about you saving face?” Sam hates that the thought makes him feel a little dejected. “You don’t care that this is going to be really weird, for both of us?”
“The only thing making everything weird is how much you keep obsessing over things being weird.”
That shuts Sam up. He has been obsessing, and it’s probably making Puck uncomfortable. What if Puck is starting to think he likes him? Sam pushes the thought away, realizing he has to get himself under control before he completely scares Puck off.
“You’re right,” Sam mutters. Puck comes closer, and Sam’s stomach does a little flip as Puck backs him against the wall. Fake fur tickles his arm from a small pink coat hanging next to him.
“Rachel’s gonna check on us in a second,” Puck says, his breath ghosting across Sam’s skin. Sam nods, licking his lips.
“So go ahead. Kiss me,” Sam says. “It’s just a game, right?”
“Yeah, it’s just a stupid game,” Puck responds slowly. “It doesn’t mean anything.”
Sam nods again, swallowing nervously, and he lowers his eyelids as Puck brings his face closer. They’re less than an inch apart, but Puck doesn’t kiss him just yet. Sam tries to control his breathing, his fingers fidgeting by his sides, waiting.
Puck lifts one hand and brings it to Sam’s face, his fingers hovering over his cheek before moving up and touching his bangs. Sam feels Puck’s fingers slide gently through the side of his hair and come to rest at the back of his skull. Then Puck closes the space between them and presses their lips together.
Sam hasn’t kissed anyone since he transferred to McKinley, and Puck’s lips are warm and welcoming. Sam puts a hand on Puck’s hip, grasping his shirt softly as he moves against Puck’s mouth, and Puck pulls him closer, his hand still nestled in Sam’s hair. Sam lets himself go for a moment, enjoying the deep warmth he gets from kissing someone he likes.
Puck’s tongue pokes at his lips, and Sam hesitates before opening his mouth and letting him in. He inhales deeply through his nose as Puck’s tongue roams across the roof of his mouth, sending a shiver through his body. Sam’s head is pressed against the wall now, and Puck’s hand has migrated again, now cradling his jaw as he kisses him. Sam’s breathing speeds up slightly as Puck licks at his mouth, and Sam tightens his grip on Puck’s hips as he thrusts his own tongue past Puck’s lips.
Never in a million years would Sam have imagined that he’d be kissing Puck in his lifetime. The kiss grows more heated, and Sam feels Puck hand move from his jaw to his throat, his fingers dragging down his skin as he reaches his collar, sliding down his tie until his hand is pressed lightly against Sam’s chest. Sam lets out a breath, still attached to Puck’s mouth, then moans softly when Puck’s fingers rub against his nipple through his shirt. Heat suddenly streaks through Sam’s groin, and he arches his back a little as Puck presses harder.
Puck growls softly, and Sam feels the vibration zip through his body. He slides one arm further around Puck’s waist, pulling him closer against him, and Puck starts biting at Sam’s lip, his teeth nipping at the soft flesh. Sam kisses back messily, tilting his head as he pushes his tongue into Puck’s mouth again, teeth clashing and spit mingling between them.
Puck suddenly places both hands tightly on Sam’s face, his fingers fitting perfectly against his jaw as he angles Sam’s head and kisses the side of his mouth, then moves his lips lower to his chin. Sam grunts, his hand sliding down Puck’s back as Puck ducks his head and starts sucking a bruise onto the skin of his throat. The pain abruptly snaps Sam back to reality, and he opens his eyes blearily as he realizes they’re going above and beyond what the game calls for.
“Puck,” Sam says, his voice coming out in a high-pitched whine. He’s breathing fast, and he can’t help the way his eyelids flutter shut again as Puck drags his lips across his throat, back to his chin, seeking out his mouth once more.
Sam kisses back even as his stomach churns uneasily. Puck is just such a good kisser, and it’s tempting to imagine what would come out of this if Puck weren’t straight. Sam sighs against his mouth, running his tongue over Puck’s lips before trying to withdraw as best as he can with his back already pressed against the wall.
“Puck,” Sam repeats breathlessly as Puck chases his mouth, their lips grazing against each other. “Puck!”
“Be quiet,” Puck insists, kissing him again. He pushes their bodies together, one hand splayed on the wall next to Sam’s head.
“What are you doing?” Sam asks in a strained voice, his arm still wrapped around Puck’s waist, his knuckles resting against the hard muscles in his back.
“I’m kissing you, idiot,” Puck responds swiftly.
“Just stop—stop talking, okay?” Puck blurts out, pressing his lips against Sam’s cheek, and Sam swears he hears a crack in Puck’s voice. “It doesn’t… doesn’t mean anything, it’s just a stupid game. Just let me kiss you, just… just let me—”
“Puck,” Sam whispers, his mouth trembling as Puck lips cover his. His face feels hot, his chest tight with confusion, but he draws his arms firmly around Puck’s body and kisses him hard. The wet sound of their mouths and their harsh breathing are the only things Sam can hear until Puck suddenly pushes him back, probably with more force than he intended to, because he looks sorry when Sam lets out a startled yelp as his head bangs into the wall.
He doesn’t say anything, though, because they’re both too busy staring at Rachel, who’s standing in the doorway with an unreadable expression on her face.
“I knocked,” she says finally. “It’s been almost ten minutes.”
Sam tries to steady his breathing as he wipes a hand across his mouth, and Puck backs away from him slowly, blinking like the closet is suddenly too bright. Rachel’s body is blocking the door so no one else can see inside.
“Um, we’ll be out,” Sam croaks, clearing his throat. “We’ll be out in a second.”
Rachel nods, then shuts the door on her way out. Sam can’t meet Puck’s eyes just yet, so he looks down at himself and smoothes out the wrinkles in his shirt, then adjusts his tie. Puck coughs, and Sam peeks at him through his bangs.
“Is your, um…” Puck gestures toward him vaguely. “Your head okay?”
“Oh, yeah,” Sam says stiffly, running a hand through the back of his hair. “Yeah, it’s fine.”
“Good.” Puck averts his gaze, looking at the door. “We should go back.”
“Look, just don’t say anything,” Puck says quickly. “I know what you’re thinking. It was just a game, so don’t start reading into things. We can… we can talk later, just not now. This isn’t the time or the place.”
Sam creases his brow as he looks at him, but he nods. Puck looks freaked out, but he takes a breath and composes himself, and in a second he puts a hand on the doorknob.
“Ready?” Puck asks.
“Yeah, sure,” Sam mumbles, and Puck opens the door. Sam follows Puck out, and there’s laughter and catcalling as they rejoin the party.
“You guys must have had a good time in there,” Santana remarks. Puck smirks, playing it off, but Sam can’t remember how to be charming and ends up plastering a smile on his face that looks more like a grimace.
Karofsky and a bunch of other guys are nudging each other and pointing, and Sam feels a chill run through him when he distinctly hears the word fag. He stares at the group, his eyes hard, then glances over as he sees Kurt excuse himself to get something to drink.
“Come on, the game’s still going,” Puck says, giving him a nudge. Sam doesn’t feel like continuing. He wants to leave, preferably with Puck so they can talk, but that’s out of the question. He’d be fueling the fire if he left with Puck now. Besides, Beiste would kill him if he left at all.
“I’m kinda hungry, I’m going upstairs to find some food,” Sam says. “I’ll see you later?”
“Sure,” Puck says, rejoining the circle, and Sam feels a little stung that Puck is apparently still up for more kissing with people that aren’t him. Sam turns and goes upstairs. He bumps into Kurt as soon as he’s back on the main floor.
“Sorry,” Sam says, reaching out and steadying the drink in Kurt’s hand as a few drops of punch hit the hardwood floor. “I’ll get that.”
“It’s not on my shoes. You’re good,” Kurt replies, and Sam manages a feeble smile. Kurt studies him for a moment, his eyes calculating, but not in the scary way that Santana does. Still, it’s unnerving. Sam feels like Kurt can see right through him.
“Are you coming back down?” Kurt asks.
Sam purses his lips to one side and shakes his head. “Um, probably not. I’m gonna… find some food or something. Beiste said we should at least attempt to talk to some of the boosters, too.”
“It’s because of what Karofsky said, isn’t it?”
Sam swallows audibly. “No. What did he say?”
“Please, Sam. I saw your face,” Kurt says flatly. “I heard him, too. I’m sure Puck did as well, he’s just not saying anything.”
“It was just a game,” Sam insists halfheartedly. “We only kissed because of the game, everyone knows that.”
“Okay,” Kurt says lightly, nodding. He seems to back off, and Sam starts chewing on his lip. Sometimes he wonders what it would be like to be friends with Kurt Hummel. It would be the coolest thing in the world to have another friend he could be honest with. Of course Puck has been nothing but supportive of him, but it’s not like he can discuss his confusing feelings with Puck when his feeling are about Puck.
“I’ll see you around, Sam,” Kurt says, then Sam is watching him walk by, disappearing downstairs. Sam sighs and makes his way to the kitchen. The refreshments are outside on an immaculate lawn furniture collection, but there are extras set out on the kitchen table, so Sam spends a moment popping miniature quiche in his mouth. He’s so busy mulling over what he should say to Puck the next time he sees him that he loses track of how many he eats, and then he gets annoyed with himself for not paying more attention. He picks up a glass of lemonade and wanders away from the food, then walks right into Coach Beiste.
“Watch where you’re going, Evans,” she says, not harshly, but not exactly pleasantly either. He looks up at her and watches her expression soften slightly.
“Sorry,” Sam mumbles. If there were one person in the world he could talk to about Puck, it would be Beiste. She’s known about him being gay ever since he tried to lie to her about his busted face in Darlington.
“I had an accident,” Sam said, trying not to think about how ridiculous his story sounded. “I hit a door and I fell and I hit my face on a chair and it was just really stupid and I promise I’ll be more careful from now on.”
Beiste looked at him, her light eyes both mesmerizing and terrifying. He knew how easily she’d kicked Finn off the team. Sam really didn’t want to be next.
“You don’t get those kind of bruises from a chair,” Beiste said.
“Who hit you?” she asked, and Sam’s stomach sank as he fumbled for words.
“Did you pick a fight with the Darlington team?” Beiste demanded. Sam shook his head quickly, then stopped because everything still hurt when he moved. Beiste kept talking. “Did you and Puckerman get into a fight?”
“No, Puck didn’t hit me, I swear,” Sam stammered. “It wasn’t him.”
“Then who was it?” Beiste narrowed her eyes at him. Sam wanted to crawl into a hole and die. This entire trip had been nothing but trouble for him, and he was tired of dealing with everything he’d tried so hard to leave behind. Sam bit his lip without thinking, which only caused him to let out a small sigh of pain.
“Sam, tell me what happened right now,” Beiste said, her voice still firm, but there was something else there as well. Or rather, it was the lack of something that Sam had always hated hearing since he was young—judgment. Her voice held no trace of it, and though she didn’t sound thrilled with him, Sam could also pick up the concern in her words.
“Tell me the truth,” Beiste said, and Sam lowered his eyes and started talking about Kyle and Daniel and Waffle House and being jumped and Puck saving him and, finally, the truth.
“I was bullied at Darlington because I was gay, and I transferred to McKinley because my parents were concerned about my safety,” Sam said, surprised that he’d kept his voice steady the entire time. He wasn’t really scared anymore. He was mostly just depressed.
“How bad is it?” Beiste asked.
Sam looked at her. “What?”
“Your face.” Beiste took a step closer, and Sam lifted his chin to give her a better view. He’d slept a couple hours since it happened, but it really didn’t look that much better. At least it wasn’t swelling too badly—he had Puck’s ice to thank for that. Beiste made him open his mouth to check out his teeth, then she stared into his eyes for a long moment.
“It doesn’t hurt that much anymore,” Sam said, trying to keep a straight face at the obvious lie. His face was killing him, but he didn’t want Beiste to take him out of the game. That is, if he was still even on the team at all anymore.
“You should call your parents,” Beiste said finally. “Tell them exactly what happened.”
“They’ll freak out,” Sam protested.
“They should. You should decide together whether you want to press charges.”
Sam was taken aback. “I’m not… I don’t want to press charges. This isn’t a big deal.”
“Not a big deal?” Beiste gave him a sour frown. “My QB shows up black and blue because of a gay bashing and says it’s not a big deal?”
“Okay, it is, I know,” Sam mumbled, swallowing nervously. “I just… I’ve been through this before. Kyle put me in the hospital once and there was this huge mess with the police and the school and his parents and my parents, and I just don’t want that again. I know it’s wrong of me to just let him get away with this, but… I don’t want to become an example. I don’t want anyone to know. I realize that makes me a huge coward, but… I don’t want to go through all that again, and I don’t want my parents to either.”
“Does Puckerman know?” Beiste asked. “You said he was there, right?”
“Yeah, he knows. He knows pretty much everything I just told you. He promised to keep it a secret, though. I trust him.” Sam lifted his eyes worriedly. “You won’t tell anyone… will you?”
“If you’re getting harassed—”
“I’m not,” Sam insisted. “I swear. But I will if everyone knows I’m gay. It’ll be exactly like what happened at my old school and if that happens again… I don’t know what I’ll do. I like it here, Coach. I just want a chance to make this work. Please.”
Beiste held his gaze steadily. “It’s your choice whether you want to come out or not. I wouldn’t take that away from you. But if anything else happens, I’m sorry, but this is going to come out in the open.”
“Nothing else will happen,” Sam said softly. “This is the last time I’ll ever be in Darlington again anyway.”
“Have you been drinking?” Beiste demands suddenly, and Sam snaps back to attention, quickly shaking his head.
“No,” Sam says, holding his glass up. “It’s just lemonade.”
“Then why do you look so spaced out? You’re supposed to be making a good impression on the boosters so they’ll know they’re not wasting their money on the McKinley Titans. Where the hell is the rest of your team?”
“Um, downstairs,” Sam says sheepishly. “I just… have stuff on my mind. You want me to go get them?”
Beiste shakes her head, waving a hand dismissively. Sam studies her for a moment longer, realizing she’s wearing makeup and jewelry. She actually looks pretty, and Sam feels okay telling her because he doesn’t have to watch his every word with her since she knows he’s gay anyway.
“Those earrings are really nice,” Sam says, looking at her pearls.
“You shouldn’t have worn jeans,” is Beiste’s response, and Sam puts his free hand in his pocket and looks down at himself. “But at least you’re wearing a tie. I swear, teenage boys have no idea how to dress themselves for special occasions. Next time ask your mother for help.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Sam meets her eyes again, and this time she shakes the ice in her glass and waits.
“Something’s bothering you,” she states, then her face hardens. “Is it someone?”
It takes Sam a moment to catch on. “No, no one’s hurting me. It’s nothing like that.”
“Good. If it’s just regular high school heartbreak, then keep that crap off the field, you hear?”
“Yes, ma’am,” Sam repeats, nodding as he worries his lip.
“Do you have anyone to talk to?” Beiste asks, and Sam gives a little shrug, then shakes his head.
“Not really. It’s kind of stupid. I’m pretty sure I’m… the girl… in this situation.”
“And what’s wrong with that?” she asks sharply.
“Nothing,” Sam says quickly. God, Beiste is terrifying. “I just wouldn’t want to… bore you.”
“Listen, if you need someone to talk to, don’t hesitate to come to me,” Beiste practically barks at him. “You need to have a clear head in order to win. You can’t do that if you’re obsessing over your he-said-she-said nonsense.”
“I kissed someone I shouldn’t have,” Sam blurts out after he has a quick glance around to make sure no one’s within earshot. “I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.”
“If you shouldn’t have done it the first time, then don’t kiss that person again,” Beiste says plainly. Sam frowns. She makes it sound so simple. “Is the person interested? Available?”
“I don’t know. And no,” Sam says slowly, then reconsiders. “Actually, I think it might be no to both of those questions. I’m not sure.”
“Don’t do something stupid over someone you can’t have. I realize you’re sixteen and you’re practically required to act like a fool, but, Sam, use that head on your shoulders. Do you understand me?”
“Yeah. Yeah, I do,” he says softly, nodding. This is the second time he’s broken his all-important don’t molest straight boys rule. He really has to set things right with Puck, or he’s going to scare him off for good and Sam is certain his life at McKinley will suck if he loses his best friend.
“I have to go talk to P—someone,” Sam says. Beiste looks unsurprised and waves him off, and Sam turns around, flushing with embarrassment, and heads off to find Puck. He wanders to the stairs and takes out his phone to text him.
“Hello, Sam,” Rachel says suddenly, and Sam gives her a startled look.
“You really should stop doing that,” Sam says. “I scare easily.”
“Oh. Sorry,” she says lightly.
Sam nods, looking back down at his phone. “You haven’t seen Puck, have you? I thought you all were still playing spin the bottle or seven minutes in heaven or whatever.”
“We stopped a while ago. Noah went to the backyard, he said he’d be in the garden.”
“Oh, thanks.” Sam heads for the backdoor, but Rachel grabs his arm and wrenches him to a halt. She has a surprisingly strong grip for someone of her slight stature, and Sam blinks uncertainly at her. “Um, can you let go?”
“He’s out in the garden with Santana,” Rachel says, very pointedly lowering her voice. “What kind of friend would I be if I let you walk in on whatever sordid and inappropriate tryst they might be having?”
Sam hadn’t been aware that he and Rachel were friends, but that particular revelation takes a backseat to the sudden stinging feeling he gets at knowing that Puck and Santana are probably having sex right outside. He knows he can’t blame Puck. Santana’s his girlfriend-esque figure for the moment. But still, he’s just shared the most passionate kiss of his life with Puck, and he just wishes Puck would act more like it actually meant something.
Immediately alarm bells go off in his head, and he realizes his problem right then and there.
The kiss hadn’t meant anything to Puck, because Puck is straight and has a girlfriend. And no matter how many epiphanies Sam has about his mixed feelings for Puck, it’s not going to turn Puck gay. It was all part of a game, just like Puck told him before they kissed.
Sam lets out a heavy sigh and leans against the wall, next to where Rachel is standing on the bottom step, her hand resting on the banister.
“Awesome,” Sam says finally, jamming his hands in his pockets. He blows out another sigh, his bangs ruffling with his breath.
“I know you probably want to talk to Noah right now,” Rachel begins.
“No, actually, I don’t.”
“I know this is confusing for you, Sam, and I know it’s difficult. You probably feel very alone. I want you to know that I can understand that more than you think, and I sympathize, I really do.”
Sam looks at her, squinting slightly. “Um… I don’t really know what you’re talking about.”
Rachel smiles knowingly. “I’m adopted, did you know? I have two dads, and growing up with them has instilled in me an impeccable… intuition, if you will.”
Sam’s palms are starting to feel clammy. “I’m definitely not following… sorry.”
“Sam. You can tell me.”
“Tell you what?”
Rachel pauses, then leans in slightly, her voice dropping even lower. “You’re gay, right?”
Sam just stares at her, trying not to let out the choking sound rising in his throat. He swallows hard, blinks, looks away, then meets her eyes again, drawing in a panicky breath.
“No,” he says, his voice strained.
“How could you tell?” Sam hisses, his hands curling into fists in his pockets. He has to know so he can put a swift end to whatever tipped her off. “Was it because I commented on your headband? ‘Cause I only said that to be nice. And I didn’t even call it by the right name—I purposely said thing in your hair.”
“It wasn’t that,” Rachel says, chuckling lightly. The sound makes Sam nauseous. “It’s just… just you. I can tell. I always knew. Especially with the way you look at Noah.”
“That is not possible, Rachel, because I only figured out I had a crush on him, like, an hour ago,” Sam says, then realizes what he’s just confessed to, and he immediately wants to jam the words back into his mouth.
“Well, that’s not surprising. I’ve noticed you boys can be a little slow when it comes to realizing things—which is okay, I mean… no offense.”
“Oh, God, I’m gonna be sick,” Sam mutters, dragging his hands down his face.
“You do look a little green,” Rachel says. “Is it because you’re not exactly sure about your sexuality? I didn’t surprise you, did I?”
“No, I—I knew. I always knew.” Sam takes a deep breath and tries to muster every ounce of sincerity within him, which isn’t hard because he’s legitimately freaking out. “No one else is supposed to know, though.”
“Oh.” Rachel purses her lips. “So, Noah doesn’t know about your feelings?”
“No, Puck knows—no, wait, he doesn’t,” Sam stammers. “He knows I’m gay but he doesn’t know anything else. I’m begging you, Rachel, don’t tell him. Don’t tell anyone. Please.”
“Well, of course… I wouldn’t out you, Sam,” Rachel says softly.
“I’m serious.” Sam lowers his voice and tries to keep it steady. “I don’t want to go into everything that happened, but I don’t want anyone knowing about me. Not the football team, not Glee, not anyone. I never even planned to tell Puck—it just happened. I just… I can’t tell anyone. I can’t.”
“Sam, I’m not going to tell,” Rachel says, blinking her long lashes at him soberly. Sam’s stares back, fear settling like a hard stone in his stomach. He doesn’t know Rachel, not really, not outside of hanging out with Finn a few times. He doesn’t know if she’ll really keep his secret. He’s heard about her fierce temper and how she’ll stop at nearly nothing when it comes to singing, so he doesn’t actually have much faith in her.
Sam runs his hands quickly over his eyes and pushes his bangs back, then grips his phone tightly. He hopes Santana and Puck are done because he needs to speak with him right the fuck now.
“Listen… Sam?” Rachel’s voice is quieter now, and more serious. Maybe she’s realized he’s handling this whole thing really badly—he almost feels like he’s going to burst into tears right in front of her. “Your secret is safe with me. I won’t tell. But if you ever need someone to talk to, my dads would be more than happy to discuss any fears or misgivings you might have. I don’t know what happened to you, but you’re not alone. Really.”
“I really need to go,” Sam says hollowly, turning around and heading for the front door. He calls Puck as he walks, ignoring everyone he passes until he’s down the street. Suddenly he’s glad Puck always parks further away so he can leave quicker. Sam stops by Puck’s car as he reaches Puck’s voicemail.
“Puck? I realize you’re probably fucking Santana, but I need to talk to you. Now. Please. Not about what happened earlier. I just—I need to talk to someone and you’re literally the only person on the planet I can be honest with. I’m outside, by your car. Just meet me here, please. Please, Puck, I’m really, epically freak—”
“Sam?” Puck’s voice suddenly cuts him off, and Sam sucks in a deep breath.
“I thought you were busy with Santana,” Sam mumbles.
“We were just chilling. You’re by my car?”
Sam nods, then remembers Puck can’t see him. “Yeah.”
“I’ll be there in a minute.”
“Thanks,” Sam says, slight relief flowing through him, but then he remembers Rachel and it’s all he can do to not bite his lip bloody until he sees Puck jogging toward him.
“What’s the big emergency?” Puck asks as he approaches.
“Rachel knows,” Sam says tensely.
“About me! She knows I’m gay.”
“Did you tell her?”
“No, she just… she’s got some freaking sixth sense or something—did you know her dads are gay?”
“Yeah, I knew. I kind of met them when me and Rachel had a thing.”
Sam stops. “Oh, right. I forgot you two hooked up.”
“Yeah. It was sort of a cultural thing. Like, you know, we’re both Jews and I wanted to do something nice for my mom so I hooked up with her. My mom always wanted me to be with a nice Jewish girl. Rachel’s not really nice, though.”
Sam just stares at him for a long moment. “So, just tell me now. Is there anyone you haven’t hooked up with at McKinley?”
Puck purses his lips. “Well… I don’t know. Not the dudes.”
“Of course not,” Sam mutters. “Okay, I don’t care. Just tell me what to do about Rachel.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, is she going to tell everyone? Do you actually trust her?”
Puck pauses, looking thoughtful. “I don’t think she’ll tell anyone. Just don’t get on her bad side and give her a reason to hate you.”
“That doesn’t make me feel better.”
“Well, what do you want me to say?”
Sam turns around and fights the urge to slam his fist against Puck’s car. “I don’t know! But could you at least pretend to give a shit about the fact that this has me really, really scared?”
“What are you talking about?” Puck’s voice sounds softer now, and Sam hears the scuffle of his shoes on the road as he comes closer. Sam leans against the car and pinches the bridge of his nose, letting his hair fall into his eyes because he’s starting to feel embarrassed.
“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said that,” Sam mutters. “I didn’t mean it.”
“I get that you’re freaked out,” Puck says slowly. “It’s okay. But I really don’t think Rachel will tell.”
“Really?” Sam lifts his eyes and looks at Puck, and Puck nods. Sam lets out a long sigh, closing his eyes briefly.
“This sucks,’ Sam says finally. “I hate being scared all the time.”
“For what it’s worth, no one can tell,” Puck says, leaning beside him. Their shoulders brush softly, and Puck either doesn’t care or doesn’t notice, because he doesn’t move away.
“I’m pretty sure Rachel could tell,” Sam says, remembering how she’d talked to him like he was a wounded animal. “God, and Kurt… I get the feeling Kurt knows I’m gay, too. He keeps giving me these looks.”
“Neither of them are gonna do anything. Trust me.”
“Yeah,” Sam sighs. “I don’t need them to do anything, I keep screwing things up all on my own.”
Puck arches a brow, glancing at him, and Sam steels his nerve and takes the plunge.
“I shouldn’t have kissed you,” Sam says.
Puck’s forehead creases lightly. “You didn’t… really kiss me, you know. It was just—”
“I know, it was just a game. But I’ve been making things weird between us for no reason, and I just… I want things to go back to normal. We shouldn’t have kissed. I should never have touched you. You’re my friend, my straight friend, and you have a girlfriend.”
“Santana’s not my girlfriend,” Puck says after a pause. “And it’s not like you forced me into kissing you.”
Sam swallows, tapping his blunt nails against the car. “Why do you do that? You always give me an out. You try to pretend that I’m not making you uncomfortable—”
“You don’t make me uncomfortable, Sam. If you did, I wouldn’t still be hanging out with you. You ever thought of that?”
Sam quiets for a moment, trying to calm himself while he thinks about Puck’s words. “Um…”
“I’ve never had a friend like you,” Puck says. “I don’t know, it’s just weird, and it’s not because you’re gay. It’s just you. You’re like some creature from outer space sometimes because I’ve just never hung out with guys… like you.”
“Should I be insulted?” Sam says, squinting.
“No. No, I… I mean, I dig you.” Puck pauses again, letting out a soft sigh. “I’ve just been doing some thinking lately.”
“About what?” Sam glances over when Puck falls silent. “Puck?”
“You’re really scared about coming out, aren’t you?” Puck asks. This time Sam falls silent. Why would Puck ask that? He knows why.
“Only because the last time everyone found out, I was bullied until I landed in the hospital and had to change schools,” Sam says, trying to keep the edge out of his voice. “I can’t imagine why I’d be reluctant to do it a second time.”
“Maybe it’s not worth it.” Puck absently grinds his heel into the concrete, crushing a weed growing through the cracks of the curb. “Not in this town. People wouldn’t get it. I mean, look at how much shit Hummel goes through.”
“I guess,” Sam says softly. “It’s not that I don’t want to. At the same time, what difference will it even make? The only other openly gay guy here is Kurt. My life is still going to be the same… as in, I’m still not going to date anyone. If I come out, things can only change for the worse anyway.”
“So you don’t think it’s worth it either,” Puck says.
Sam feels unnerved, like Puck is trying to ask him something without actually asking it. “I don’t know. It’s different for everyone. Kurt certainly doesn’t think it’s not worth it.”
Puck crosses his arms and looks at him. “Yeah, I guess. Are you feeling okay now?”
Sam nods without even thinking. He doesn’t have to—Puck always manages to make him feel better just by being around. Sam reminds himself of his rule and puts his hands in his pockets, trying to squish down his crush.
“I panicked,” Sam admits. “Sorry.”
Sam looks at the ground for a moment. Puck is being usually quiet, and Sam feels like he knows why. No matter what Puck says, Sam knows things are awkward between them now.
“Kissing you wasn’t terrible,” Puck says suddenly. Sam looks at him in surprise as he goes on. “I’ve never kissed a dude before, but… it wasn’t gross.”
“Um… thanks,” Sam says.
Puck scratches his head and lets out a quick chuckle. “I mean, when we were at Eight Ball, you were totally drunk and you came to sit with me after Sleaze ditched you, and you got really offended because I said I’d rather lick the floor than kiss a dude. You were all like, is my mouth lower than feces to you, and it was funny. It was funny to me. You were, like, legitimately mad at me because I didn’t want to kiss you.”
Sam feels heat rushing to his face. “Dude… I was drunk. Gimme a break.”
“I know. I just wanted to say that now I’ve kissed you and it wasn’t… that bad.”
Sam fidgets for a moment, then looks at Puck again. “No?”
“No. It was okay.” Puck holds his gaze for a moment before looking away. Sam ponders his words, then holds up a finger.
“Who the fuck is Sleaze?” Sam asks, and Puck breaks out into a grin.
“The dude you were dancing with.”
“His name is Joshua.”
“I know, but he looked so sleazy up there with you. Seriously, I wanted to punch him.”
Sam smiles. “Okay, Mom.”
“Fuck you,” Puck says, punching his arm playfully. Sam catches his fist and throws it back, and Puck smirks as he bats Sam’s arm away easily. Sam arches a brow, taking in the challenge in Puck’s eyes, and the two of them instantly engage in a friendly scuffle. Sam can’t help grinning even as Puck blocks his blows. He hadn’t realized how tense he’d been until right now as he feels the pressure drain from his body.
Sam manages to get a hold of Puck’s wrists, and he lets out a triumphant laugh as he slams them beside Puck’s head, pushing him against the car.
“Gotcha,” Sam says, his eyes glinting.
“I let you win,” Puck shoots back automatically, and Sam grins widely, holding Puck in place, and then he realizes how close their bodies are, how he can feel Puck’s pulse from where he’s holding his wrists. Puck’s breath tickles his face; they’re both breathing fast, standing completely still.
Sam releases his grip and steps back quickly, clenching his jaw. Just a little push of his mouth and they could have been kissing, and the scary thing is that Sam wanted to. He almost did.
“Shit,” Sam mutters, swallowing. “Puck, I should… I should go.”
Puck blinks swiftly and nods, his brow furrowed. He’s still leaning against his car, his eyes wide and cautious. Sam turns around without another word and starts jogging back to the house to retrieve his car. He runs his fingers through his hair and realizes his hands are shaking, and he doesn’t bother saying goodbye to anyone in the driveway—he just yanks the driver’s door open and gets in.
His rules for life are so simple, and yet he can’t seem to get it together. He can’t kiss Puck; he can’t touch Puck. He can’t ruin the best thing that’s happened to him since he transferred here.
He has to put an end to his feelings or he’s afraid he will.
This 'verse is continued in Soon We'll Fall to Pieces