Word Count: 5,281
Characters: Noah Puckerman, Finn Hudson, Kurt Hummel
Warnings: mentioned canon character death
Summary: The boys deal with the death of one of their parents.
Note: Written for the glee_besties Gen Mini Bang. Much thanks to dani_elizabethx for being a fantastic cheerleader and to anodrethlluvine for his awesome beta! Also, it's not important, but it is worth mentioning that this Puck was held back a year in the eighth grade for his grades.
“What the fuck is it now?” Puck snarled into his phone after picking up before it got through the third Girl, look at that body of his LMFAO ringtone. “Seriously, dude, if you’re not going to break up with that crazy chick I don’t know what else to tell you, and this is the fifth fucking time I’ve been killed in this game because of you, so this better be good.”
There was silence for a moment once he finished ranting, and Puck was about half a second from hanging up and never talking to Dan again when the person on the other end finally spoke up. “I have no idea what you’re talking about, Noah, and if this weren’t important, I’d have hung up long ago.”
That definitely wasn’t Dan. Shit – “Hummel?”
“The one and only. Don’t you look at your phone before you answer?”
“Uh, no?” Puck replied, tossing the video game controller on the coffee table and leaning back into the couch. He figured the call was probably going to take a while, because he was pretty sure Hummel had never called him for anything ever. “Why would I do that?”
“So you would know who was calling before – never mind.” Even though they were on opposite sides of the country, he knew Hummel was shaking his head at him for something. God, he was so fucking judgmental sometimes that Puck wondered why they were friends.
“What’s this about?”
He heard a shaky exhale before Hummel answered. “Um,” he started, and that hesitation seemed really weird to Puck. “There was an accident last night. Carole – Finn’s mom – a drunk driver hit her. She… she didn’t make it.”
“Dude, that sucks,” Puck said, and he really wasn’t sure what else to say. Mrs. H. had always been really nice to him, especially when his mom was having one of her bad spells. She had let him stay at her house more times than he could remember, and she had been such a badass mom.
Apparently he had let the silence stretch on too long, because Hummel gave an awkward almost-laugh, like he caught himself in the middle of making the sound and realizing that it probably wasn’t appropriate. “Yeah. It does.”
They lapsed into silence again while Puck wracked his brain for something not totally insensitive to say. He wasn’t good with paying attention to what he was saying in the first place, but he knew he had to with such a serious topic. Death made him uncomfortable as it was.
Hummel cleared his throat. “Um, the funeral is on Monday. It… it would mean a lot to Finn if you were able to come. I know it’s short notice and flights are expensive, but-“
“No, I’ll be there,” Puck said, cutting him off. Even though they’d been through a lot, Finn was still his best bro. He wasn’t really sure what to do or how to not be an asshole, but he knew he had to go.
“Thank you, Noah,” he said, sounding a little less tense than he had the rest of the conversation.
“No problem, dude. Uh, is there anything I can do?”
Puck again found himself listening to silence. “Hummel?”
“Sorry,” he said quickly. “I just wasn’t expect… Anyhow, I don’t think so. We’ve got everything pretty much covered, but I’ll let you know if anything comes up.”
“Oh,” Puck said dumbly. “Okay. Yeah. Uh, I’m really sorry.”
“Thank you, Noah,” he said again. “I have some more calls to make, so-“
“No, go. See you soon,” he said, then almost immediately regretted it. Was it bad to say that? Like, he didn’t want to remind Hummel of the reason he’d be seeing him soon, so maybe he shouldn’t have said that. Shit.
“Bye,” he said and hung up.
Puck stared at his phone for a full five minutes before tossing it onto the table next to the controller. He looked up at the television screen, the Game Over screen flashing at him tauntingly. “Fuck,” he muttered, closing his eyes and rubbing at his eyelids.
He turned off the TV and opened up his laptop to order a last minute plane ticket back to Ohio using the emergency credit card his mom had given him before he moved to California. That shit was expensive.
The funeral was nice, from what Puck could tell. He hadn’t really been to many, and his mom was always yelling at him a lot because his idea of nice was not the same as hers (offering to let her know ahead of time when he was bringing a girl back was totally nice, and he still didn’t understand why she got angry at him for it). There were lots of flowers, though, including no less than six arrangements from Rachel Berry, which seemed kind of weird and over the top, but anything normal for Rachel Berry was weird to him, so maybe it was normal. He gave up trying to figure it out because he really didn’t care about Rachel Berry at all and he was supposed to be here for his bro, not lost in thought about Rachel Fucking Berry.
There were a lot of people who talked or read things, like Finn and Hummel and Hummel’s dad, and there was also a lot of weird kneeling and Latin stuff that was probably really cool if you grew up Catholic but it made very little sense to him. Puck mostly sat there and tried to do whatever everyone else was doing, and he was glad that he was sitting – and kneeling and standing – next to Santana, because he remembered her saying once that she was raised Catholic, so she at least understood everything that was going on better than he did. She even told him not to get in line when everyone got up for that bread and wine thing, which was good, because he had no idea what to do and didn’t want to accidentally be really disrespectful or anything.
At the end of the service, Finn and Hummel went up in front of everyone again and sang a song he didn’t recognize. Hummel introduced it as a song originally by some boy band, which explained why Puck had never heard it before. It was a good song choice, though, since it was all about everything a mom did. Finn sang most of it, with Hummel joining in on the chorus. It was kind of weird, since Mrs. H. hadn’t actually been Hummel’s real mom, but he guessed that they must have gotten close so maybe it wasn’t so weird after all. Their voices sounded pretty cool together, though, and even though they were both crying by the end (which Finn totally got a pass on this time, because, dude, his mom was dead), he thought it was a good ending for the service or mass or whatever the hell it was called.
There had been a meal thing afterward but that seemed more like a close family sort of thing and Puck didn’t want to intrude, so he waited until the next day to go over and see how Finn was doing. He hadn’t really gotten a chance to talk to him yet because he had been too busy with the funeral stuff and trying not to cry and shit.
He rang the doorbell at Finn’s place and the wait for someone to answer the door was so long that he almost decided to leave and try texting or something, but there was a car in the driveway so he figured that someone was probably home so he waited. After a minute passed with no answer, he raised his fist to knock, in case the doorbell wasn’t actually working or something. Just as he was about to make contact, the door swung open.
“Noah,” Hummel said, stepping back to avoid getting hit in the face.
Puck lowered his hand to his side and shrugged. How was he supposed to know Hummel was going to open the door that very instant? He wasn’t a mind reader. “Hummel,” he said, nodding in greeting. “Uh, how are you doing?”
Hummel narrowed his eyes at him like he thought that was the stupidest question in the world. He looked kind of weird, still in pajama pants and a plain t-shirt. It wasn’t even still morning. Had it been anyone else but Hummel, he wouldn’t have even noticed, but that kid wore like a dozen different shirts at once and he’d never seen him in anything so loose before, not that Puck was complaining about the change. “Would you like to come in, Noah?”
“Sure,” he said, stepping into the hallway as Hummel stepped back to let him pass. He looked around; no lights were on, and the house was eerily quiet. “Uh, is Finn here? No offense, dude, but I was sort of coming to see him, not you.”
Hummel rolled his eyes. “I’ll go see if he’s up for seeing anybody. Make yourself at home,” he said, waving with his hand at the furniture in the living room before making his way upstairs.
Puck flicked on the light switch and plopped down on his usual end of the couch. He started to look around for the TV remote, but the coffee table was covered in dirty plates and silverware, along with junk mail and bills stacked haphazardly along the edges. It kinda looked like his apartment did, except his plates were all paper and there wasn’t as much green stuff on them, but it felt out of place in this home.
He gave up on his search for the remote because he didn’t want to have to pick up any of the mess if he knocked it to the floor, but it didn’t really matter because a minute later, Finn was coming down the stairs, his feet dragging so much that Puck was surprised he didn’t trip and fall the rest of the way. He was wearing black sweatpants and an old McKinley Football t-shirt, he had a serious case of bed-head, and the stubble on his chin made it obvious that it had been a while since he’d shaved.
“Hey, dude, how’s it going?” Puck asked.
Finn shrugged and threw a grunt in for good measure, but he found his way to the other end of the couch and practically fell onto it.
They sat there in silence for a few minutes that had Puck seriously reconsidering his decision to come see how his bro was doing. He clearly wasn’t doing well, and Puck had no idea how to act. He wasn’t good with this shit, and he really wasn’t used to this sort of awkwardness.
“Uh,” he said, unable to take the quiet any longer and trying to figure out something not totally stupid or insensitive to say. His eyes glanced around the room, finally settling on the Wii console hidden next to the big high def TV. “Call of Duty? What d’you say?”
“No,” Finn said, his voice hoarse from disuse. “No shooters.”
Duh, Puck, he thought to himself. Of course he won’t want to play something that involves someone dying. What kind of idiot are you?
“Guitar Hero then?”
Finn shrugged, which was probably the closest thing Puck was going to get to a yes. He went over to the console, dug around until he found one of the discs, popped it in and set everything up, and then took a guitar over to the couch for himself and for Finn.
He put himself as player one and selected the option that let them choose their own set list. “What do you want to play?”
Again, Finn shrugged. “Whatever, dude.”
Puck rolled his eyes. This was going to be impossible. He doubted they’d even make it through one song without failing out because there was no way Finn was actually going to hit any notes. Anything was better than that awkward silence, though, so he went ahead and chose a bunch of songs, making sure they were all more upbeat ones.
“Guitar or bass?” he asked, not even surprised by the shrug he got in response. He pushed the button for guitar for himself and waited for Finn to strum down to bass, like they usually played. Finn actually moved a lot faster than Puck had expected, so maybe this wasn’t a complete loss.
They each chose their difficulties – Puck went for his usual Expert, but Finn only went for Medium. He had to bite back a comment about how Finn must be turning into a pussy to be playing that low, but he was too happy that Finn seemed to be making some sort of effort to actually say anything.
They actually made it through Band on the Run without too much difficulty. Puck had noticed that Finn wasn’t using the whammy bar at all, but he hit 90% of the notes, so that had to be good. Right?
The rest of the songs in that set list went just as smoothly, as did the ones in the next three that Puck chose. Finn never made it above 93% notes hit, and he was playing on Medium for fuck’s sake, but he was playing and that was all that mattered. The weird I-don’t-talk routine was kind of freaking Puck out a little bit.
As they finished their fourth set list, Hummel returned from wherever he had been for the past few hours – upstairs maybe? Puck didn’t know and he didn’t really care. He waited for them to finish up the last few notes before speaking. “It’s a little after six. I’m going to heat up some of the food people’ve been bringing over. Noah, you’re welcome to stay for dinner if you’d like.”
“Sure,” Puck said with a shrug. He didn’t have any other plans and free food was always awesome.
Hummel nodded to himself. “Finn, what do you want? There’s-“
“I don’t want anything,” Finn said, cutting him off. It was the most he’d spoken since Puck had gotten there that afternoon.
“Finn, you have to eat something.”
“I don’t want any of that.”
“Well, it’s all we have, and you need to eat,” Hummel argued, crossing his arms over his chest. He was kind of scary like this, but Puck figured it was probably a good thing that Finn had someone to look after him like this.
“I said I don’t want it, Kurt!” Finn snapped back, throwing the plastic guitar to the floor for emphasis. “They made it because of Mom,” he added, quieter. “I don’t want it.”
He and Hummel both stared at the guitar in shock for a moment before the other boy spoke up again. “I know you haven’t had anything to eat since lunch yesterday. You need to eat something.”
Finn looked murderous, and Puck decided to say something before things got really out of hand. “Hey, how about I order some pizza? My treat.”
“That’s nice of you, Noah, but it’s really not necessary. We’ve got more than enough food here.”
“Finn,” Puck said, turning to face his friend. “Will you eat pizza if I order some?”
His friend shrugged, but Puck heard him mumble something that sounded like, “Yeah, sure, whatever,” so he dug his phone out of his pocket to make the order. It wouldn’t be free food, but it was pizza, and pizza was always awesome. “What do you want on ‘em?”
“Meat,” Finn said with a sigh, leaning back into the corner of the couch.
“No shit, dude. You always want meat. I wasn’t asking you.”
“Oh,” Hummel said, uncrossing his arms and deflating a little. “I like sausage-“
Puck snickered. “I thought you only liked Anderson’s saus-“
“Noah,” he huffed, his face reddening just a bit. “I’ll take whatever and mushrooms. Thank you.”
Rolling his eyes, Puck swiped his thumb over his phone’s screen a few times until he found the number for his favorite pizza place. He hesitated before pressing the call button. “What about Burt?” He hadn’t seen Hummel’s dad all day, but he was probably coming home from work soon. Then again, maybe he was willing to eat the food everyone had been giving them.
“He’s not here,” Hummel said, and Finn tensed up slightly beside him. Weird.
“Won’t he be home soon though?”
“No,” he said, shaking his head like Puck was stupid. “He’s not here. In Lima. He took a late night flight down to DC yesterday after making sure everything was taken care of.”
“Oh. He just left you here by yourselves?”
Hummel narrowed his eyes at him. “You may be a year older than us, Noah, but we are both legally adults here.”
“Dude, I know that. Chill,” Puck said, holding up his hands in surrender. “I just meant, like, it’s weird for him to leave so soon, isn’t it?”
“He wanted to get back to work,” Hummel explained with a half shrug. “It’s a good distraction.”
“Yeah,” Puck said, glancing over at Finn. He looked really out of it. “Uh, I guess I’ll order that pizza then.”
“No sweat.” He unlocked his phone again and dialed the number, ordering one meat lover’s pizza and one with sausage and mushrooms, just to see if Hummel’s face would turn red again when he said it.
He was given an estimate of twenty-five minutes, and there was an awkward moment after he hung up when no one said anything and they all just kind of stared at each other. After what seemed like forever, Hummel finally spoke up.
“Mind if I join you on vocals?”
Puck blinked, not expecting that. Hummel had never really played with them before, but he guessed they usually played action game that Hummel wouldn’t like so maybe this wasn’t as weird as it seemed. Then again, everything about today seemed weird, so who knew?
“Sure,” he said, picking up his guitar and pushing buttons until he got to a screen that let him add another instrument. He noticed out of the corner of his eye that Finn picked up his own guitar from where it had landed on the floor, and Hummel worked on setting up the microphone. “Any song requests?” he asked once they were both set up.
Finn, of course, shrugged. Puck didn’t expect anything different. He strummed through some of the different song choices, trying to decide what to pick if someone else didn’t say something soon.
“Hm,” Hummel said, perching on the armchair next to Finn. “Sweet Home Alabama? I don’t really care.”
Puck added the song to the set list and chose a few more, since these two were totally useless. He smirked to himself as he added in Crazy Train – hearing Hummel try to sing Ozzy Osbourne was going to be hilarious.
They played, Finn still sticking determinedly to his Medium difficulty, until the doorbell rang announcing the arrival of their food. Hummel (whom Puck had to grudgingly admit rocked every song they’d played) stood immediately to answer the door, but Puck yelled at him to sit back down before he even took a step.
“Dude, I told you I’ve got this. Relax.”
He received a bemused look in return, but Hummel actually listened and stayed put. Good. It wasn’t often that Puck actively tried to do something like this, and he was not going to stand for Hummel stealing all of his glory.
Puck paid for the pizzas with the twenty his mom had given him before he’d come over, brought them into the living room and set them precariously on top of all of the envelopes and dirty plates on the coffee table. Hummel walked in a few seconds later, holding a stack of napkins. He handed one to him and one to Finn, then raised the right side of his mouth in a grimace. “Sorry,” he said, “we’re sort of out of clean plates.”
“Who cares?” Puck asked, flipping open the lids of the pizza boxes and pulling out a slice of meat lover’s. Finn and Kurt both grabbed slices, but then they lapsed into another awkward silence, broken only by occasional loud chewing sounds.
Normally, Puck and Finn would shoot the breeze and Hummel would sit there, not able to get a word in edgewise if he even deigned to sit in their presence in the first place, but with Finn’s silent act going on, that obviously wasn’t going to happen.
“Do you want something to drink?” Hummel asked after he finished his slice of sausage and mushroom.
“Sure,” Puck answered around a mouthful of food.
Hummel stood and started to walk toward the kitchen. “What do you want? Pop?”
“Yeah,” he replied, swallowing. “Whatever’s cool.”
Hummel returned a minute later holding three cans of Coke and handed them out. He sat back down and grabbed another slice before the silence returned full force, only broken by the occasional shift of pizza against the cardboard box as someone pulled off another slice.
Soon, though, the quiet pervaded everything. No one was getting themselves more food. No one was lifting cans of pop to their mouth and drinking down the liquid inside. No one was moving. Everything was completely silent.
A napkin slid off a sweatpants-clad leg to the floor, and Puck turned to look up at Finn. He was staring at nothing in front of him, but tears were streaming steadily down his face. He was so calm otherwise that there was no way to tell how long he’d been crying.
Puck looked over at Hummel in panic to see if he had noticed yet (he had) and if he had any clue what to do (from the look on his face, he probably didn’t). What were they supposed to do? He had no idea how to handle grieving people. That was, like, the thing he was least prepared to do. Except maybe look at another dude’s junk. He had no idea how Hummel did it.
He flicked his eyes back and forth between Finn and Hummel a few times, and he was so worried about what to do that he almost missed it when Finn actually said something. It was quiet, and Puck had to think for a second to get everything to register properly, but at least it gave him something to work with.
“We were fighting.”
“You and your mom?” Hummel asked softly, now sitting on the edge of his chair, leaning forward toward Finn. Puck was glad that he had picked up on what was going on, even if he looked like he was debating touching him on the arm or thigh or something.
Finn nodded. “It…” He sniffed, the only sound he’d yet made to indicate that he was crying. “It was something stupid. I don’t even remember what it was now.”
Hummel’s hand finally settled on Finn’s shoulder. “It was just one fight.”
Finn was quiet for a long time, Hummel rubbing gentle circles into his shoulder. Puck tried to think of something to say, but he was coming up blank.
“’I hate you.’ That’s the last thing I said to her. ‘I hate you.’”
“Dude,” Puck said, turning to face him more. “She’s your mom. She totally knew you don’t hate her.”
Finn shook his head. “Why did I have to yell that at her?” he asked neither of them in particular, and his voice was so choked with agony that Puck felt like crying, and that was just not cool.
“We all say things we don’t mean when we’re mad.”
“Yeah,” Hummel agreed. “You and I, Finn, we’ve both said a lot of things to each other in anger, but we both know that’s all it is. It’s something said in the heat of the moment that doesn’t really mean anything.”
“I should have told her I love her more,” Finn said. “What kind of person tells his mom he hates her?”
“A person who’s upset. You know she didn’t believe you.”
“Seriously, dude,” Puck added. “You had such an awesome relationship with her. There’s no way she thought you actually meant that.”
Finn fell silent again, and Puck and Hummel alternated between staring at each other and staring at Finn. He remembered how Hummel had gotten so upset at all of the religious stuff back when his dad was in the hospital, but he had never really talked to Finn about religion.
“Look, Finn,” he started, trying hard to think about his words before they came out wrong. “I don’t know if you believe in God or not or whatever, but I do and I think she’s up there right now and she knows you didn’t mean it and that you love her. She doesn’t want you to beat yourself up over it.”
Hummel sat up straighter, looking kind of stiff, but he nodded when Puck was finished. “I… if Puck’s right and she’s up there, Finn, you know that’s exactly what she’s thinking. It’s okay to miss her, and it’s okay to grieve, but she knows that was something stupid said in the heat of the moment.”
Puck looked back over at Finn, and surprisingly, his tears had stopped. It relieved Puck more than he would ever admit; all the silent crying was kind of starting to really freak him out a bit.
“I think I’m going to bed,” Finn said suddenly, standing up and shuffling toward the staircase.
“Good night?” Puck half-asked, momentarily confused.
Finn grunted something as he climbed the stairs, slowly but methodically.
“What just happened?” Puck asked quietly once he heard Finn’s bedroom door close.
Hummel shrugged as he stood and grabbed the pizza boxes to put in the fridge. “I think we helped,” he said, sounding uncertain.
While Hummel took care of the food in the kitchen, Puck took it upon himself to put away all of the video game stuff. They finished at around the same time, Hummel nearly walking into him on his way back into the living room.
“Thank you for dinner, Noah,” he said, shoving his hands into the pockets of the jeans he was wearing. (Did he change? Puck asked himself. He could have sworn he had been wearing pajama pants earlier.) “That was very kind of you.”
“Yeah, no problem, man,” he said, feeling kind of awkward about it. “I’ll just head out then.”
“You’re welcome to stay if you want.”
“Nah,” he said, because it was obvious Hummel was only saying that to be polite, and besides, he didn’t think hanging out with Hummel by himself would end well. He liked the kid, but they were never really that close. “I’ve got some stuff to do.”
“Alright,” Hummel said, walking over to the door to open it for him. “Drive safe.”
“Uh huh,” Puck said, waving him off the same way he always waves off his mom and his grandma when they say the same thing. “Bye.”
“Goodbye, Noah,” he replied, standing in the doorway behind the screen door until after Puck pulled away.
At ten o’clock the next morning, Puck’s cell phone rang, a picture of Kurt Hummel in a ridiculous outfit popping up on the screen. He couldn’t remember what the picture was from, but a bunch of them had taken pictures of him because of the clothes and he figured he might as well attach it to Hummel’s name in his phone.
“Hummel?” he answered groggily, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes.
“You actually looked at your phone before answering this time?” he asked. “I’m impressed.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Puck grumbled, already annoyed from being woken up and getting more annoyed by Hummel’s sarcasm. “What’s the matter?”
“Who said anything was the matter?”
“Why the hell would you be calling me at the crack of dawn if something wasn’t the matter?”
“The crack of-?” Hummel cut himself off, and Puck pictured him shaking his head with that weirdly fond look he reserved for himself, Finn, and Brittany. “Noah, it’s ten in the morning. If we were still at McKinley, we’d be in the middle of third period. Are you seriously still in bed?”
“Yeah, I am, dude, and I was in the middle of a really hot dream with Jessica Alba and-“
“Okay, okay!” he said loudly, and Puck grinned. He had a feeling that would work in getting Hummel to make his point. “I just wanted to thank you for yesterday. I think it really helped Finn. He’s actually awake right now, and he took a shower and got himself cereal and everything. If you hadn’t been here yesterday, we would have kept arguing about food and he’d probably have never left his room again. So thank you.”
“Dude, it was no problem. I’m always up for Guitar Hero, and you helped just as much as I did.”
“You were the one to think of ordering pizza,” he countered, “and you were the one to bring up religion. I wouldn’t have thought of that. I don’t believe any of it, but if it helps him, that’s all that matters.”
Puck shrugged, even though he knew Hummel couldn’t see him over the phone.
Hummel cleared his throat. “Anyway, thank you, Noah. I don’t want to know what he’d be like if you hadn’t come over yesterday.”
“Like I said, no problem, man. Now if you don’t mind, I’m gonna get back to that dream.”
“I’ll leave you to that,” Hummel said quickly. “Bye.”
“Bye,” Puck said, hanging up and tossing the phone onto his nightstand.
As days wore into weeks and weeks wore into months, Puck noticed gradual changes that meant Finn was getting better, even from California. The first sign was when Finn actually returned a text (ya in response to Puck’s query if he were okay). Then, slowly but surely, he started responding to more texts, sending some of his own, liking and then posting things on Facebook, and eventually it was like Finn was back to normal.
One day, he got an email from Finn. That confused him, because they never sent emails, but when he opened it he realized it was some automated thing sent by a newspaper website and that Finn must have entered his email address. He shrugged and clicked on the link.
It opened up a news article with the headline Drunk Driver Sentenced to Five Years for Involuntary Manslaughter of Lima Nurse. Instantly, he realized that this had to be about the asshole who killed Mrs. H. Five years, though? That seemed like nothing, especially seeing how hard her death had hit Finn.
He read through the rest of the article, which mentioned that five years was the maximum sentence for the crime. That didn’t sound right at all, but he figured it was better than nothing. He wasn’t sure how Finn would react, but he had sent him the link to the article, so he definitely knew about it. The only way to find out was to call.
“Hey, what’s up?” Finn answered a moment later.
“Hey. I just saw the article you sent…”
“Yeah,” Finn said, his voice resigned. “It’s not much, but it’s something.”
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah,” he said again. “I just thought you might want to know. I’ve actually got to go to a dentist appointment right now, but we need to catch up. Skype this weekend?”
“Awesome. See you then!” he said, the click of him hanging up following half a second later.
Puck hung up the phone, knowing that while Finn would never be exactly the same as he used to be, he was definitely going to be all right.