Pairing: Finn Hudson/Noah Puckerman
Warnings: Het, slash, drug abuse, language, prostitution, you know.
Summary: It's 2011 and Finn and Puck have high hopes; New York is just around the corner. It's 2018 and New York is rainy. It's been a year and a half since Finn's heard Puck's voice.
Disclaimer: Don't own, don't sue. (Read full disclaimer here.)
Notes: First and foremost... I was incredibly fucking high when I wrote this. I make no further excuses. Based not-so-subtly on "Your Name Here (Sunrise Highway)" by Straylight Run, and the Jesse Lacey/John Nolan feud that spawned it. It's incredibly angsty. I don't know what just happened.
Finn's skin feels too tight, too hot, too sticky as he drives his car through the streets of New York, taking in the familiar sights he'd grown sick of years ago, but subjected himself to anyhow. Who would have thought it, back in 2011, in Lima, Ohio, when all he and Puck had really wanted to do was get out of dodge and cross this state border, that seven years in the future, they'd be itching to leave New York behind them.
"We can make it there, Finn," Puck had sworn, and Finn had believed him, having every ounce of faith in the world that his best friend could become the badass rockstar he'd tried to emulate since he was eleven. "We can start a band, man, you're such a kickass drummer."
You're such a kickass drummer, yeah. And Finn had been, when he was seventeen. And it'd been all that he cared about, the sticks and the skins, hard beats and Puck's chords, and they would sing until their lungs gave out. Their mothers would roll their eyes when they'd practice; they just didn't get it, not like Finn did, not like Puck did. It was about the music, and nothing else.
And then they'd packed.
And crossed this here border.
And New York had been a dream for a time that spanned forever; all bright lights and tall buildings and local bands that kicked some ass. And it wasn't Ohio, they learned, as they met a drag queen on their very first day, followed by an an endless parade of men in makeup and girls in fishnets, and people who just didn't give a fuck who looked at them.
And sometime between Puck getting a tranny's number, and Finn landing a job at a strip club, they realized they weren't the McKinley High football jocks anymore.
They were in New York.
They could be whatever the fuck they wanted.
And things had gotten scary after that, slowly but surely, as Puck started coming home to their shared apartment with bruises on his skin, never telling Finn where they'd come from when he'd asked, just fucking grinning at him like they were some kind of goddamn trophy.
And Finn had started smoking, just regular tobacco, just to fit in with the punk ass bands he'd hit beats for in the bars downtown. And he hadn't even realized he'd gotten himself addicted until he added up receipts, heart heavy in his chest as he did.
And sometime after that, Puck started red taping their bank accounts, withdrawing hundreds every week. For fucking what, Finn never did know. But once he realized Puck hadn't offered anyone a ticket to The Gun Show since he'd started wearing long sleeves, his mind had been filled with some sickening suspicions.
And after that, Finn got himself some groupies, some cheap, desperate cheerleaders who always hung around the back door of the bar he played at. He hadn't mean to do it; music had never been about that for him. But once he realized that playing the right songs could get girls to spread wide open for him, well... he hooked himself up a pretty goddamn solid setlist.
And then things got really twitchy, and New York's skies seemed just a little more gray. But Puck saved them, for just a while, figuring out that the MILF's in New York City were willing to pay for a lot more than just pool cleaning. And then there'd been more bruises, more long sleeves, more debts 'til Puck could clear them. And sometimes, Puck would disappear for a week, coming back home at three in the morning on a Tuesday, dropping stacks of sticky cash on Finn's chest just to wake him, just to annoy him, just to be a dick.
Because by the time they were twenty-two, that was all Puck was really good for anymore.
And Finn had lost himself after that, feeling more alone that he ever had before. And Puck was around, sure; still slept one door away from him, still ate Finn's food from the fridge, still sat through entire six-band lineups at the bar behind their apartment, just to see Finn fill in for some drummer who was too busy overdosing to pick up his goddamn sticks.
But it wasn't Puck, not really. Just the shell of what Puck had once been.
And on Finn's twenty-third birthday, Puck hadn't shown up to celebrate. It wasn't until three days later that he found out where his best friend had been.
Dear god; the girl had meant so much to Finn.
He hated knowing what her voice sounded like, wrapped around Puck's name as she came.
And a week after that, Finn had punched Puck goodbye.
He'd lived on his own for a few months, trying to straighten himself out. He hadn't even realized how many issues he'd acquired, until he sat on his torn denim couch, facing himself for the first time in two years.
He was smoking tobacco, and licking up tabs. His music wasn't music, it was foreplay, on a good night. And vodka didn't get him drunk anymore, with his body being too tolerant of the alcohol he'd been inhaling like oxygen. But the worst part of it all, was that Puck wasn't around to help him.
And he stayed not around for the next year and a half, and Finn missed him all the time. Until he'd let himself think back to the nights when Puck would come home bleeding, laughing like he loved it. Rambling on about Portuguese dictionaries and a taxi driver who took alternate funds from pretty dudes who were short on cash.
And Finn broke down at the memories, more than once, more than twice, sobbing into his hands as he sat on the floor, trying to remember his old McKinley locker combo. Things had been so easy back then, it was pathetic that he'd ever called them hard. The colors were brighter there, and the sun was much warmer. And the girls were way nicer, and the boys weren't total dicks. And getting a bad grade was the epitome of awful, and pissing off Rachel was the low point of Finn's life.
He'd give anything now to hear her whining voice, bitching at him about being too fucking tall.
Ohio, he missed it.
He missed his fucking friend.
And that was how he came to be here, driving along Sunrise Highway, face in a scowl as everything was sore. And he winces at the memories of himself falling into that ditch, laughing hard and harder, until Puck fell right in after him. And he's sick as he passes that billboard, the one he tried to climb when he was high on E, getting himself arrested for the first, but not last time.
And he's crying as he turns left at Carmen's Avenue, hands gripping the steering wheel tightly as he tries not to get sick at the memory of what he did with that girl and her friend behind that newsstand.
Not even Puck had approved of that one.
And he doesn't know how he became that person, but he knows that he's ready to kill him off for good. He's got a mom back home who needs him, and a step brother planning to be married. And he's got lyrics in his head, with beats and chords and he wants to write them, and it's why he's at the stoplight now, staring down at his old apartment.
His name was Sharpie'd onto the side of the building, dark and thick, in a loopy, obnoxious scrawl. He'd inked it there on their first night as official tenants, wanting to leave his mark on the city he'd worked so hard to get to.
And Puck had simply laughed, grabbing at the marker with a grin on his face, arm moving in broad motions as he penned their stupid old band name over the rusty brick wall, marking their legend where they'd always see it.
Finn cuts the engine slowly as he looks up at the building, wondering how the hell he'd ever been able to call it home. And he can't find himself an answer, but he knows he doesn't need to. He's here for one reason, and it doesn't take much brain power.
The pavement of the parking lot feels sticky under his feet, and he knows he should have expected it, but can't keep the grimace off his face he walks over tar and gum and condoms so old they had probably been on Puck. But he pushes it from his mind, not looking up at the window he knows is now boarded shut.
He's emotional for a moment as he stands under the hot and steady sun, arms crossed over his chest as he looks at the crooked smiley face Puck drew under his own name. He wonders then how long it's been since Puck has really smiled.
"Hudson," a voice breaks through behind him, and Finn doesn't turn as his heart attacks his throat, closing off his airway 'til he feels like he's drowning.
And he doesn't want to turn, and he doesn't want to breathe, and he doesn't want to see the face that's been starring in his dreams.
"Puck," he gasps out, feeling like he's been punched, or kicked, or slipped some bad acid.
And there's silence, never ending, like the itchingly quiet drone before a band walks on the stage, anticipation mounting until the lights flash purple.
And Finn's crying, can't help it, as he shakes the can in his hand, hard and desperate, almost violent, as Puck's eyes are on him; he can't see it, but he can feel it.
And the sound of the air compressing makes a venomous sort of hiss, as the bright red paint sprays out from the nozzle, sticking to the wall in haphazard patterns, eating away at the solid black D in Hudson.
And Puck's arm is against his suddenly, hand over Finn's on the spray can, finger pressing down the nozzle as they wipe away their history, clearing their names from the building that had broke them. And Finn's not seeing now, eyes shut against the backspray, holding his breath as Puck's hand guides his in wide, arching scribbles, and he can't catch his breath as he feels himself double over.
He's hurting, in every way, can't stand the way Mister Schue's voice is telling him to never stop believing, Kurt Hummel's instant echo; 'You're a wonderful man, Finn Hudson'. Rachel's kissing him, and he's kissing her back, because he's a good person, goddamnit, kneeling on the pavement as he shakes against the sunlight, needs it to be night now, can't stand this city any more.
Puck's finishing the wall, standing straight and defiant, like he's got something to prove, like he's got something to win. And Finn's not watching, can't see him in that sweater, as he hears himself cry out in the silence, and all he wants is to sing a goddamn Journey song. And all he wants is an overpriced pizza at Breadstix, and all he wants is Puck's hands to help him up.
But they're not there there to help him, not like they used to be, when Finn would get tackled in the middle of a game, sprawled out flat on his back, until Puck was right there with him. His hands aren't there.
But his arms most certainly are.
And Finn's sobbing now as he melts against Puck's body, feeling his arms around him, holding him tight, too tight, not tight enough. And it's them walking to school when they were seven, Puck's arm around Finn's shoulder. And Finn can't remember why New York had sounded beautiful.
And Puck doesn't speak as he kisses Finn's forehead, and Finn doesn't speak as he falls backward on his ass, pulling Puck down with him as he cries himself sick. And Puck doesn't question when Finn fists a hand in his shirt, pulling him in, closer, tighter, needs to breathe in his air, and Finn doesn't panic as their lips finally connect.
And it's guitar strings and a mohawk, and kicking the school's vending machine until it gives them what they want. And it's Puck gassing up Finn's car, and Finn doing Puck's laundry when his mom left town that one week. And it's easy, and it's colorful, and for the first time, the sun is more than just heat. And Finn's tongue is in Puck's mouth now, trying to connect them until he's sure they'll never break apart. And he's shaking, he's aware, but it's okay, it's okay.
Because Puck is shaking with him.
And as Puck pulls Finn to his feet, eyes wide and emotional, like they hadn't been for half a decade, Finn's eyes trail off to the wall, bleeding bright red splotches over dark black letters, illegible now as Finn's heart skips a beat.
There they are, two bright, bold numbers, numbers Finn hasn't thought about since he and Puck were wearing them on their jerseys. And they're all crooked and scribbled, half-assed and incomplete. But Finn thinks that they look pretty. And for the first time in a long time, pretty isn't coming with a price tag.
His legs are shaking as he gets into his car, unsurprised as Puck climbs into the passenger seat next to him, buckling his belt like he goddamn belongs there. And Puck's never been in this car before, but Finn can't really care now. Because Puck's here, right there, and he's staying.
And it's a long damn drive to Lima.