Title: The Path of Least Resistance
Characters (Pairings): Noah Puckerman (hint of Puckurt)
Genre: Um. Character focus?
Warnings: Some offensive language and sexual references (light)
Word Count: 2,021
Summary: 51% of the world’s population is women. That should give him plenty of options.
Disclaimer: I do not own Glee
Author’s Note: For M <3
51% of the world’s population is women. That’s about three and a half billion people around the globe, and maybe a hundred and sixty million in the US alone. Even if you take out the ones who’re too young or too old, the lesbians and the happily-marrieds, the ones who live tucked away in little towns too far away for a chance meeting, that still leaves a hell of a lot of options.
It gets him through high school.
Puck doesn’t freak out when he gets that hint, that first down-low tingle that tells him: hey! he might be bisexual! He doesn’t freak out at all– except, okay, maybe just for a few minutes sitting there in front of his computer and trying to convince himself that his reaction (now fading fast) must’ve been due to the woman with the big tits who’s been off-screen for the last twenty seconds’ worth of shots of the well-hung and heavily-muscled male star, and what the hell is this, women’s porn? Because he’s pretty sure they shouldn’t be lingering this long on the dude if it’s meant to be for straight guys.
It’s just the shock, is all, but he doesn’t freak out, not really, just double-checks the lock on his door and lies back on his bed and breathes. He’s fine.
He’s not gay.
He knows he isn’t, because he likes girls. He likes girls a lot. So if he maybe happens to kinda like boys too, well… It’s not like anyone has to know.
Because Puck isn’t Kurt Hummel (Kurt fucking Hummel who is queer as a three-dollar bill and thinks girls’ lips are gross and gets shoved into lockers every day and Puck’s seen the bruises, okay? They have a gym class together and Kurt doesn’t run away to change in the bathroom stalls now that they’re sort-of friends, or whatever it makes them to have Glee together three times a week). Puck has options.
He just has to take them.
Besides, there’s only one gay guy in the whole damn town. He can avoid shacking up with one guy when he’s got the Cheerios and the cougars and the repressed overachievers who will take any kind of stress relief from their grades and applications. Puck’s not so masochistic as to take the one option out of a thousand that’ll get him labeled a fag. He dates around, tries out the sound-proofing on every one of the janitors’ closets, even gets himself a girlfriend for a little while, and it’s easy to stick to girls.
And there’s only one gay guy for him to not get attached to.
And then there’s two. Three. Four.
But there’s always a perfectly good reason not to get involved: Kurt has Blaine. Blaine has Kurt. Sebastian has his ego, and a rock-salt slushie that sends Puck’s teammate to the hospital. Karofsky has… probably even less desire to find himself a boyfriend than Puck, actually. Everyone has something, and Puck has an excuse.
He graduates, makes it out.
Noah Puckerman: high school graduate, not gay.
College is a different world.
He gets in on a music scholarship, and he knows that everyone in New Directions goes on and on about New York, but after the first two weeks he’s gathered a whole list of reasons why Boston is number one in America. The city is so perfectly his speed, and he’s never felt more at home.
But it’s different; it’s so, so different from his old home, filled with people who don’t just expect him to try, they believe he will. Filled with girls who kick ass on the field and forty-somethings scrounging through the bookstore because they’re not old enough to be done learning and straight guys who major in musical theatre and gay guys who wouldn’t touch it with a fifty-foot pole.
Puck makes new friends. Two of them, Jake and Nick, are dating, and Puck spends two months just a little bit on edge before he realizes he’s waiting for a slushie or a dumpster dive that will never come.
More comfortable in his own skin than he’s ever, ever been in Lima, Ohio, Puck branches out, tries new things, makes out with the guy who played Collins in the bathroom at the cast party (he’s friends with the guy who played Angel, so he already knew this one was a great kisser, but geez). It’s February before anyone asks him right-out what his sexuality is, and he surprises himself with his own easy answer.
It’s a theoretical truth, not practical, because he still isn’t dating any guys, and he doesn’t have any more hook-ups with dudes in tiny bathrooms, or anywhere at all (‘Collins’ is hot, but Puck deletes his number the next morning– not worth it). But it is true, and it doesn’t bother him so much to tell people. He just doesn’t act on it again.
Jake and Nick have never had to wash slushie out of their hair, but that doesn’t mean they never get dirty looks, or people moving to another table, or slurred comments from drunken frat boys across the street when they’re seen holding hands.
College is a different world, but not that different.
Late-night rationalization is what keeps him going these days: it’s okay, it’s just easier with girls, he likes them more than enough, doesn’t need to go looking anywhere else, doesn’t need to test the boundaries of society’s acceptance. He’s not lying, he’s just making things easier on himself.
It works until he meets Kevin, sitting two desks over in the Intro to Astronomy class Puck’s taking to fill out a gen ed requirement that he’s left until fall of his senior year.
Kevin is an English major just starting his sophomore year, as terrified as Puck is at the prospect of a college-level lab course and taking Astronomy because he heard the teacher went easy on the humanities kids. Kevin has dark-brown-almost-black hair left a little too long, an unhealthy love for the Pirates of the Caribbean movies (or maybe just for Johnny Depp), and neatly-written, color-coded notes for every one of his classes. Kevin is smart and funny and handsome and his eyes are dark and gorgeous, and he’s sitting in the seat right next to Puck by the third class.
And for the first time, Puck finds he can’t just wave this away.
It takes him a month and a half to figure out just how much he wants this: not the vague concept of a guy, but a very specific guy who sits next to him for almost an hour three times a week, and three more hours every Monday. It’s not a matter of options anymore, of all things being just about equal and taking the path of least resistance; it’s about one person looking much, much more appealing than anyone else right now, and not knowing how the hell that happened, because it definitely does not fit with his plan.
Kevin is also, by the way, very obvious and very bad at flirting. He invites Puck along with some friends to a bar two weeks before winter break, and Puck watches him down drink after (technically illegal) drink before he stands up, red in the face and unsteady on his feet and so fucking determined as he makes his way over. Before he can think what he’s doing, and before Kevin can make it all the way there, Puck leans over and gives the girl next to him the kiss she’s clearly been aiming for all night.
She seems happy enough about it, takes him home, and Puck pretends he doesn’t see the look on Kevin’s face. On Monday, Kevin responds by pretending nothing has changed.
Something pulls at the base of Puck’s chest, and he downs a full bottle of Gatorade to try to make it go away.
They don’t have a class together next semester. They keep up, but they don’t have any specific reason to see each other, and this is Puck’s last semester here while Kevin has two more years, so it isn’t hard to drift. He finishes, graduates, tells himself he didn’t miss out on anything at all.
Noah Puckerman: college graduate, bisexual. In theory.
He meets Claire at the bus stop; she lives a block away from him. He likes her more than a lot, but she’s quicker on the draw (which isn’t something he’s used to) and ends up being the one to ask him for his number.
They date for a year and a half.
‘See?’ he tells himself. ‘Just like you thought. You can be perfectly happy with a girl.’
And he is happy. Not that fake, denial crap happy, but honestly content. He likes her just as much as Kevin, and then more, until he loves her and tells her just that and gets some of the best sex of his life as a response (and then she says it back, when she’s stopped smiling too wide to get the words out).
They’re still young, though, and their life plans don’t match up, in the end. He just can’t follow her to California, he loves the East Coast too much. But it’s a kind, if slightly depressing, goodbye.
‘See? You loved her. It isn’t hard; just look in the right category.’
He doesn’t find.
It takes him an extra second to whip around, because he hasn’t been ‘Puck’ for a few years, now. At 27, the world takes him more seriously and he asks it to call him ‘Noah’. But he would recognize that voice no matter what name it was calling.
Kurt grins at him and makes a funny little movement forward that skitters to a halt halfway through, like he was going to lean in for a hug but then wasn’t sure they still knew each other well enough for that. So Noah takes the initiative instead. Four years isn’t that long.
“It’s so good to see you! I didn’t even know– what are you doing here? Do you live here?” Kurt steps a little closer to be heard over the grinding of subway trains on either side.
“For now,” Puck answers. “A few months, at least, for work. After that, I don’t know.” He’s been moving around lately, sticking to the East Coast, but without anything to glue him in place.
Kurt looks like he wants to ask more about that, about how long is a few months really and what sort of work it is (and wouldn’t that be a long story), but he’s also glancing at his watch and over to the empty platform where a new train could pull in any minute.
“I’m running kind of late,” is what Kurt finally lands on, “but do you want to grab some coffee later and catch up? I don’t know if you’ve been here long enough to find the good coffee shops, but there’s a really nice place that’s right around here, actually, and it’s worth knowing about.”
Kurt’s hand is on his arm, a sort of leftover from the hug, like he doesn’t want Noah to slip away when he’s not looking.
And Noah feels a familiar little tug in his chest. He remembers knowing Kurt in high school, joking around until he earned a brilliant smile and tucking the sight carefully away in his memories. He remembers seeing Kurt at the five-year reunion and thinking, wow, because boy did Kurt know how to fill out a suit. He remembers a moment ago and how warm Kurt’s arms were around him. And he remembers how people used to look at Kurt, and how Kurt used to look right back, unimpressed and unashamed.
Noah swallows hard against whatever is caught in his throat.
He thinks: ‘You’re not in that deep. You don’t have to need this.’
He thinks: ‘What if?’
He says: “Actually, I’m kinda off coffee lately. But yeah, I haven’t been here long. Do you know any place that’s good for dinner?”
- Current Location:Cafe
- Current Mood: working
- Current Music:Feel Again- OneRepublic