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Fic: "Pretty Girl" 10/? [Mar. 28th, 2011|01:57 am]
Transgender Fiction


[mood |accomplished]
[music |Harry and the Potters - Save Ginny Weasley]

Title: Pretty Girl
Author: Joyful
Disclaimer: Glee doesn't belong to me and I make no money from this.
Summary: Kurt and Finn are becoming closer as step-brothers, and Kurt figured out Finn's darkest secret—the one Finn can't even quite put into words—Finn's transgender, MTF.
Rating: R
Pairings: Kurt/Blaine, Finn/Rachel, Finn/Puck
Spoilers: Up to “A Very Glee Christmas,” but AU after.
Notes: Based on This prompt on the angst meme
For theauthor2010 and nonexistantpup
All previous parts can be found Here on AO3

Okay, so, major props go out to DemonChildKyra who, in addition to making me this AWESOME banner, has been my cheerleader this whole chapter, pushing me to finish.

Notes: My plan was to put both Nationals and prom in the same chapter, but Nationals and the surrounding trip turned out a LOT longer than I anticipated, so you'll get prom in the next chappie. :D
RENT, “Fast Car” and Les Mis don't belong to me.

Chapter 10

They aren't dating, by any stretch of the imagination. But sometimes, in the hallway, Puck holds Vanessa's hand between classes. And when they sit in the choir room, Puck puts his arm around her shoulders. They're not dating, but it's still wonderful. He's her best friend, and he's got her back no matter what. They eat lunch together too, which isn't too different from normal, because their friends usually eat with them too, but sometimes it's just the two of them, and Vanessa doesn't mind all. Puck's always there for her at school, whenever he's not required to be somewhere else, and Vanessa feels safe. Even when Karofsky and Vaughn and Azimio leer at her from the other side of the room. They're eating lunch together when Quinn and Mercedes walk over to their table, just standing there.

“What do you want?” Puck asks, practically barking at them, but Vanessa sets her hand on his arm to calm him down.

“We're sorry, Fi—Vanessa,” Quinn says.

“We don't get it, “ Mercedes says, “And maybe we never will, but glee club used to be a family, and lately it's been kinda miserable, and I can't help but think I'm to blame for some of it, so I'm sorry for anything cruel or hurtful I said.”

“We've been talking about it a lot,” Quinn says. “About you a lot. And we don't get this trans thing. Our religion teaches us that it's bad, that you're bad.”

“But we've known you forever, and if what the books say is true,” Mercedes continues for Quinn, “Then you haven't really changed, you're just being more honest now. I know I'm prejudiced, and I'm sorry.”

“I'm sorry too,” Quinn says, glad that Finn and Puck aren't cutting them off, but are letting them talk. “We're trying really hard to reconcile what we've been taught in church and by our families with what we know to be true—that you're our friend and a good person. I hope you'll forgive us for being such heinous bitches before.”

“Yeah,” Mercedes says. And the two standing girls don't say anything else, waiting for Vanessa to speak.

“Thank you for apologizing,” Vanessa says slowly, then stops. “I forgive you. I'm not saying we're going to be best friends right away, because you guys really hurt my feelings, and I don't trust you right now. I'm not evil, and I'm not a bad person. I'm a girl, I just don't always look like one. And just because I'm going to dress like a boy at Nationals doesn't mean anything's changed. I'm a girl.”

“C'mon, Babe, let's go to history,” Puck says, taking Vanessa's cafeteria tray. It's clear that whatever Vanessa's said, he's not ready to forgive Quinn and Mercedes for the things they said about Vanessa. He knows, though, that he can't be actively hostile to them because, like they said, glee used to be like a family, but lately it's been like a war zone. So, for a second, Puck drops the attitude and nods to the girls before walking Vanessa to class.


“Alright,” Mr. Schue says at the end of practice. “Don't forget that you all need to be here, at school, at five-thirty in the morning tomorrow. We have a long drive to New York City. Since it's an overnight trip, I will not be your only chaperone. Kurt and Vanessa's parents have volunteered as chaperones, as well as Coach Bieste.”

“Did you know our parents were going to chaperone?” Kurt asks, surprised.

“No,” Vanessa says, looking just as embarrassed and uncomfortable with the idea as Kurt did.

“I've also come up with the room assignments for the hotel, and just in case you think that my usual obliviousness means you're going to be able to 'get lucky,' you should know that both Coach Bieste and Mrs. Pillsbury-Howell have gone over the list with me to make sure that nobody gets to room with their significant other,” Schue says, and the kids all groan and boo in response.

“Mr. Schue,” Vanessa asks on her way out of the room, “Who am I rooming with?”

“I put you with Kurt, is that okay?” Mr. Schue asks, hesitantly.

“Oh, that's fine,” Vanessa relaxes. Because rooming with her brother is a lot easier than sharing a hotel room with anyone else.

“Are you going to be okay singing the duet with Rachel at Nationals, now that you've broken up? Because I can give that part to Blaine,” Mr. Schue offers.

“No, it's okay. Rachel and I are friends, and we've sung lots of duets when we weren't dating. We all understand that the formula works, but sometimes it is good to give solos to the kids who aren't your 'stars,'” Vanessa reminds him,

“I know,” Will says. “No Cheerios practice today, right? Kurt's probably waiting for you to go home.”

“Kurt's probably making out with Blaine in the parking lot,” Vanessa corrects.

“Oh, well, hurry up,” Mr. Schue says, blushing, and she grins at him. She leaves the choir room, and sees Puck waiting for, as she expected, to walk her to the parking lot.

“What did you talk to Mr. Schue about?” Puck asks.

“Wanted to know who my roommate at Nationals would be. It's Kurt which is cool,” Vanessa answers.

“Aw, I was hoping he'd let us room together,” Puck says.

“Not if my parents are chaperoning,” Vanessa muses. “Mom's got her new open door policy going. Which is a little annoying. I mean, you slept over in my room for years, and now suddenly we can't play video games with the door closed?”

“Well, I'm fairly sure that if she had known back then that you were interested in guys, she wouldn't have let me sleep over in your bed,” Puck responds.

“Stop being so logical,” Vanessa huffs. “You want to come over for dinner tonight?”

“Gotta watch Sarah,” Puck says as he walks with Vanessa toward the parking lot, his arm settling in the small of her back instinctively. She likes his arm there, it makes her feel more like a girl. She knows she's never going to be little, but Puck makes her feel less like a monster. She's still taller than she'd like to be, but there's nothing she can really do about that. She's just glad she hasn't been getting any taller.

They walk out to the parking lot and Vanessa knocks lightly on the window of the Navigator where Kurt and Blaine are, indeed, making out. It takes them a minute or so to break it up and straighten their clothes out again.

“Dude,” Vanessa says, when Blaine steps out of the Navigator, “I get that you're two teenage boys with matching sex drives, but if you guys aren't more careful you're going to get caught, and not only will Kurt totally get grounded but you'll have to face the wrath of Burt Hummel.”

“Yeah, you may have a point,” Blaine says.

“Nessa, stop scaring my boyfriend and get in the car,” Kurt says.

“Kay,” she smiles, climbing in. The Navigator pulled out leaving Blaine and Puck in the parking lot.

“You look a little, unsatisfied there, Anderson,” Puck smirks.

“Not for lack of trying,” Blaine says. He sighs, frustrated. “I swear, life is constantly conspiring against me getting laid.”

“Hey, at least your boyfriend wants it as much as you do,” Puck observes. “It's just, like, scheduling and stuff that gets in the way. I'm flying solo right now.”

“You do realize that even if you and Vanessa start dating, she might not be ready for sex any time soon?” Blaine asks.

“Chill, Anderson. I'm not going to force her or anything. She's my best friend. Besides, my right hand is fully capable of taking care of business,” Puck retorts.

“I really didn't need to know that,” Blaine says, grimacing.

“You mean you don't think about me jacking off in your spare time? Why ever not?” Puck asks, a tone of fake innocence in his voice.

“In case you hadn't noticed, Puckerman, you're not exactly my type,” Blaine mock punches Puck in the arm and they both laugh. “You're too...tall for me.”

“I don't know if you noticed, Anderson, but Kurt and I are exactly the same height now. We also have the same hair color. I must just be too much man for you,” Puck teases as they walk across the parking lot toward their cars.

“You wish, Puckerman. I am perfectly happy with Kurt. I love him. I just wish that school, glee club, and our families weren't constantly cockblocking us.”

“Maybe you guys can sneak away for an hour or two while we're in New York. Or,” Puck is wearing a conspiratorial look. “You know, Mr. Schue is having V room with Kurt, so she's not uncomfortable, or having to share a room with anyone she's attracted to or anything. I can probably distract V for a couple of hours so you and Kurt can have some alone time in the hotel room.”

“You're a godsend,” Blaine answers. “What would you want in return?”

“You'd owe me a favor of equal weight in the future,” Puck answers.

“That sounds like a pretty good deal,” Blaine grins, and the two shake on it. Operation get-Blaine-laid-in-New-York-City is now in effect.


The bus ride is long. They all showed up at school at 5:30 in the morning, half asleep, and climbed onto the bus. It's still dark when the bus leaves Lima, with Coach Bieste as the bus driver. Apparently, Mr. Schue is very intrigued by the fact that Coach Bieste can drive a school bus. In fact, the New Directions kids have started making a list of things about Shannon Bieste that Will Schuester finds intriguing. They've been watching the tentative flirting between their choir director and their athletics coach with interest for a while now.

On the bus, Vanessa and Puck sit together in the farthest back seat instinctively. It's the seat they always sat in on football trips, and none of the glee jocks even think about sitting there, knowing automatically that the double seat in the back is taken. They throw their bags on the half seat in the back, and sit down. It's still dark out and everybody's subdued. Vanessa's really been enjoying glee club again lately. Ever since she made peace with Quinn and Mercedes, things are becoming more comfortable again. Mike's been going out of his way to be nice to her lately, out of fear of Tina's wrath, and even Artie is trying. In fact, when Artie called her 'Woman' the other day, as if it were her name, she was torn between smacking him for being a misogynist and hugging him for calling her a woman.

It's dark, and kind of quiet, and Vanessa doesn't even notice that she's rested her head on Puck's shoulder, and neither of them react when his arms slips around her instinctively. Bieste has tuned the radio to an adult contemporary station, which is playing quietly over the tinny bus speakers. Vanessa leans into Puck further, and they're cuddling. He's idly running his thumb over the back of her hand as he lets his mind wander. She's falling asleep in his arms, and he's paying no attention to his surroundings. He doesn't notice the adults watching them.

Will is still standing in the aisle as he surveys the kids. The dating ones have mostly chosen seats in pairs so they can cuddle or make out, but most of them are dozing off all ready. He can't help but smile when he sees Santana's head in Brittany's lap, and Brittany is just running her fingers through Santana's dark hair. Shielded the way she is, between the wall of the bus and Brittany, safe in Brittany's lap, Santana has let her walls down. Will smiles as he sees the genuine girl behind the facade. He wishes she would let that part of her out more often. Kurt and Blaine are kissing and cuddling in the seat in front of Puck and Vanessa, but they haven't crossed any really inappropriate lines, so Will decides not to bother them. As long as their clothes stay on he's not too worried. Artie and Lauren are sitting together at the front of the bus talking about...something. Will knows they're both in the AV club, but he wasn't aware that they were actually friends.

Mercedes and Rachel are being surprisingly quiet as well, as they debate the validity of the cinematic interpretation of Dreamgirls. Rachel's point of contention is that in adding new material to the production, the film changed the nature of the story instead of being true to the original Broadway artistic vision. Mercedes is insisting that none of that matters when you take into account how hot Jamie Foxx is.

Will smiles at his students. He knows that there were some serious issues earlier in the semester, when Vanessa came out at school, and the club divided amongst themselves, but everything seems to have settled down and he's exceedingly grateful for that. He sees Quinn leaning on Sam's shoulder and smiles, he hadn't known they'd gotten back together, but they are definitely an aesthetically pleasing couple. They complemented one another well. Mike and Tina are still together as well, which Will hadn't expected at the beginning of the school year, but he was pleasantly surprised to see how well his too shyest students were helping each other grow and change, and emerge from their protective shells. His eyes drift to the back of the bus and his head tilts to the side slightly as he considers Vanessa and Puck. They are, and there is no other word for it, snuggling. Vanessa appears to be asleep and Noah looks to be daydreaming or just zoning out. And they're cuddled together in a way Will wasn't expecting to see. Because part of him still thinks of her as Finn, the slightly clueless but well-meaning masculine boy. The boy who at several points in his life reminded Will of himself. And Puck is still the abrasive, rough, gruff, dishonest boy who needs to be reigned it, as far as Will is concerned. He has a hard time believing Puck would be okay with cuddling his buddy Finn, transgender or no, because Puck has always aggressively asserted his heterosexuality, and being so kind and gentle to a boy dressed as a girl isn't a side of him Will had ever believed existed. But this glimpse of them together makes Will wonder what else he's missed.

“How long has that been going on?” Will asks Burt and Carole quietly, before sitting down across from the. The married couple glance up at the large bus rear-view mirror to see Vanessa and Puck cuddling, completely oblivious to their surroundings.

“Not long,” Carole says. “Well, they started to get close again after Vanessa came out, but the random cuddling hasn't been happening long. A few weeks, maybe.”

“Puckerman should keep his hands to himself,” Burt grumbles. Then he looks in the mirror again. “And so should Anderson.”

“Excuse Burt,” Carole whispers conspiratorially, “He's refusing to admit that our kids have grown up.”

“I understand it's something every parent goes through,” Will smiles.

“Yeah, wait until you have kids and see how you feel about it,” Burt says.

Will nods. He's been teaching for a while, and he's used to parents telling him this. They always say he'll understand things better when he's a father, though he's not sure why. He supposed if he ever does marry again he'll find out if they're right. Will and Carole make small talk for a while, the Will moves up to the front seat next to Shannon. His kids are off their own little worlds


The bus stops at a rest stop so they can eat, use the bathroom, stretch their legs and fill the bus up with diesel fuel. Vanessa walks with Rachel, Brittany, Santana and Lauren to the ladies' room and goes inside with the girls. She often feels uncomfortable using public restrooms. Not because she doesn't think of herself as a woman, but because she's afraid of other people. She's read on the internet that in big cities, there are lots of places now that have gender-neutral bathrooms and locker rooms, but a small town like Lima isn't one of them. And this small service station definitely isn't one of them either. But surrounded by her girlfriends, Vanessa is okay. She uses the bathroom, washes her hands, straightens her wig and fixes her make-up while chatting idly to the other girls here and there.

She walks out with the girls to the rest area's food court. It has a coffee and donuts place, a chicken and hamburgers place, and a pizza place. She buys some pizza and a coke and sits down with her friends in the eating area. She's between Puck and Kurt with Blaine, Brittany and Santana across from the. Brittany's trying to get Santana to eat some actual food—since Coach Sue isn't there to monitor their eating habits, and keeps trying to stick french fries in Santana's mouth. Blaine and Kurt are having a very energetic conversation about...something. Vanessa can't really follow it, but they're both gesturing wildly. She's just eating her pizza quickly, but carefully, as not to smudge her lipstick too badly.

“Freaks,” a voice says as three or four college-age guys walk past them. Vanessa has her hand on Puck's arm before he has a chance to stand.

“Look, faggots, lezzies and a tranny all at one table. Must be the freak brigade,” one of the guys says, and the other laugh like mules.

Before any of them get a chance to retort, Burt, Will and Coach Bieste are there, in between them and the homophobes, chasing them away. Carole, meanwhile, has gone to find a security guard, just in case. The whole situation is diffused in a couple of minutes, and Vanessa finds herself less bothered by the words than she used to be. Because she might be a freak, but at least she has all her freak friends to keep her company. After lunch they duck back into the bathroom again before getting back on the bus and back on the road.

The next leg of the trip is more active, with people singing songs on the bus, and everyone joining in. They work on their vocals for the competition. They aren't able to practice their choreography, of course, but they work on their vocals. Vanessa practices her parts, full of energy. Puck has his arm around her shoulder and she feels invigorated. Her parents grin as they listen to her sing and watch her smile, and even Mr. Schue is really impressed by their practicing. She used to be bothered by her voice, but seeing Kurt so comfortable with his range made her feel a little better. If Kurt could be a boy who sang like a girl but was still a boy, then Vanessa could be a girl who sang like a boy but was still a girl.


Everyone is nervous at Nationals. There are a lot of glee clubs all competing for one national title. Vanessa looks at Finn in the mirror. She straightens his tie and smooths his black slacks. Objectively, she could see that Finn looked pretty good. He matches the other six boys in the glee club. When it's time for them to go on she lines up with the boys.

Puck takes Vanessa's hand in his and squeezes it gently. She's surprised at the action, because Puck's never touched her like this while she's been in “boy mode” before. He usually only holds her hand in “girl mode.” But, still, Puck squeezes her hand in comfort.

“Break a leg,” he whispers behind her.

“Ditto,” she whispers back. And then they start. She sings the ballad as a duet with Rachel. She's uncomfortable playing the male romantic lead against Rachel again—after months of really being herself—but she does the best. Her smile fades temporarily, but then she catches Puck's eye and pretends she's singing to him, and it gets a little better. She can do this.

In the audience, Will sits between Carole and Shannon with Burt on the other side of Carole, as the kids perform. Finn does a good job, but didn't seem as comfortable on the stage as she had, the day before, when they were practicing on the bus. Finn doesn't look comfortable in his own skin, and his exchanges with Rachel lack passion. Finally, Will gets it. He understands at once what his student has been trying to tell him for weeks. The dresses and wigs and make-up aren't a costume, aren't a case of a boy in drag. No, this is the drag. This is the costume, the mask that Vanessa wears. And it drags her down. Will looks over at Carole who, with a sad look on her face has clearly just noticed the same thing Will had.

“I'm sorry,” Will whispers. “I shouldn't have asked this of her. I won't do it again. I thought it would be easier this way, that we'd be more likely to win. I never expected her to look so...miserable.”

“Apology accepted,” Carole says. “Just make sure you apologize to her yourself later.”

“I will,” Will promises, and he sits back to enjoy the rest of the performance.


“Alright,” Will announces after the competition, “It's time for the third best glee club in America to go out and celebrate!”

The kids all cheer. They didn't come in first, but there were more than twenty glee clubs competing, so third place isn't bad. He can't seem to get rid of the niggling feeling that had he let Vanessa perform as herself they might have done better. Of course, they also might have done worse if the judges were prejudiced, there's no way to know for sure. But he had promised the kids he'd take them out after the competition. They'd raised enough money to take in a Broadway show, but first they're all going out to eat. Vanessa had changed into her girl clothes after the competition was over, and now they're going out. Coach Bieste doesn't want to try and maneuver the school bus through the city, so they take the subway as a group.

On the subway, Blaine and Kurt start singing “Santa Fe” from Rent. They've all watched the movie enough at their movie nights that Puck's able to pick up Roger's part, and Sam picks up Mark's part. Blaine gets really into it, singing Collins' lead on the song, not caring that they're not alone on the subway.

“You teach?” Kurt asks.

“I teach,” Blaine responds, “Computer-age philosophy. But my students would rather TV.”

“Ha, America,” Kurt says with disdain. The two of them really get into it, and the others can't help but join in. Before long they're dancing in the subway car. Everyone's laughing and enjoying themselves. Eventually the subway reaches its destination and they make their way out of the train station and up to a restaurant not far from the theater they're going to.

“Hey, look, karaoke!” Rachel says excitedly while they're eating. “The show's not for a while, we should do some karaoke.”

“Vanessa, you should sing a song,” Will suggests.

“We should all sing songs!” Rachel says, and goes to look up the songs they have. She calls over Vanessa when she spots a song she thinks Vanessa should sing. “It's for a female tenor,” Rachel says, and cues the song up on the karaoke machine.

“You got a fast car
I want a ticket to anywhere
Maybe we make a deal
Maybe together we can get somewhere
Anyplace is better
Starting from zero got nothing to lose
Maybe we'll make something
But me myself I got nothing to prove

You got a fast car
I got a plan to get us out of here
been working at the convenience store
Managed to save just a little bit of money
We won't have to drive too far
Just 'cross the border and into the city
You and I can both get jobs
And finally see what it means to be living

You see my old man's got a problem
He live with the bottle that's the way it is
He says his body's too old for working
I say his body's too young to look like his
but mama went off and left him
She wanted more from life than he could give
I said somebody's got to take care of him
So I quit school and that's what I did

You got a fast car
is it fast enough so we can fly away
We gotta make a decision
We leave tonight or live and die this way

So remember when we were driving driving in your car
The speed so fast felt like I was drunk
City lights lay out before us
And your arm felt nice wrapped 'round my shoulder
I had a feeling that I belonged
I had a feeling I could be someone
be someone

You got a fast car
We go cruising to entertain ourselves
You still ain't got a job
And I work in a market as a checkout girl
I know things will get better
You'll find work and I'll get promoted
We'll move out of the shelter
Buy a bigger house and live in the suburbs

So remember when we were driving driving in your car
The speed so fast felt like I was drunk
City lights lay out before us
And your arm felt nice wrapped 'round my shoulder
I had a feeling that I belonged
I had a feeling I could be someone
be someone

be someone

You got fast car
And I got a job that pays all our bills
You stay out drinking late at the bar
See more of your friends than you do of your kids
I'd always hoped for a better
Thought maybe together you and me would find it
I got no plans I ain't going nowhere
So take your fast car and keep on driving

So remember when we were driving driving in your car
The speed so fast felt like I was drunk
City lights lay out before us
And your arm felt nice wrapped 'round my shoulder
I had a feeling that I belonged
I had a feeling I could be someone
be someone

be someone

You got a fast car
But is it fast enough so you can fly away
You gotta make a decision
You leave tonight or live and die this way ”

Vanessa sings slowly, getting really into the song and everyone looks at her. She really works the song, putting a lot of emotion into it and her friends are flabbergasted.

“If she had sang this instead of the duet with Rachel, if she'd sung this, as a girl, we totally would have won,” Puck says, his eyes wide.

“I think you're right,” Will says, “And I think we just picked the ballad for next year's Sectionals.”

“Oh yeah,” Rachel nods. “She killed that song.”

Vanessa smooths some wrinkles out of her dress as she walks over to her friends who are applauding her. Kurt and Blaine get up and sing an awesome duet with each other, that's romantic and beautiful, and get applauded by everyone around them. It's an interesting experience for everyone. Usually, when Blaine and Kurt sing duets, their family and friends are impressed, but it's not uncommon for somebody to make some sort of rude comment. But here, in the restaurant so close to Broadway, they're applauded by a whole crowd of strangers. There's been a young boy, maybe twelve or thirteen, who's been staring at them the whole time, especially Vanessa, Kurt and Blaine. Vanessa catches his eyes, and the boy looks her over, then looks away.

After dinner, Vanessa looks at Brittany and Santana.

“Go to the bathroom with me?” she asks.

“Duh,” Brittany replies, getting up, and Santana comes with them. Vanessa uses the bathroom, fixes her hair and make-up, and then leaves the bathroom. The boy from earlier is standing there, outside the door when she leaves the women's room.

“Hi,” he says shyly.

“Hi,” Vanessa says. He looks so nervous, uncomfortable in his own skin. She has an odd desire to hug him.

“You're really brave,” he says.

“Thank you,” Vanessa answers. Brittany and Santana stand behind her, pinkies linked, waiting for her. She sees something in the boy's eyes and knows he wants to talk to her alone. “Go back to the table, I'll be there in a minute.”

“You sure, V?” Santana asks.

“I'm sure,” Vanessa says, and the two cheerleaders skip back out to the group, their pinkies still linked. Vanessa looks at the kid standing in front of her. He's small, thin, built kind of like Kurt when they were that age. “What's your name?”

“Jeremy,” the kid answers, saying the name with a bit of distaste.

“What's your real name?” Vanessa asked quietly. “The one you call yourself in your head”

Jeremy looked shocked at Vanessa's question, but looked around both ways before answering in a whisper.

“Mandy,” the name is whispered so quietly Vanessa barely catches it.

“Nice to meet you, Mandy,” Vanessa says, offering her hand to the younger teenager. “I'm Vanessa.”

“You were...” Mandy looks like she doesn't have the words to ask the questions she wants to ask. “You were born a boy?”

“Yeah,” Vanessa says quietly.

“But now you live like a girl, and your parents and your friends still like you?” the jealousy and awe in Mandy's voice are palpable.

“It's hard, but worth it,” Vanessa says. “Does your mom know that you're a girl?”

Mandy shook her head. “Not really. She thinks it's a phase.”

“You need to make her understand,” Vanessa said. “You're, what, twelve, thirteen?”

“Thirteen,” Mandy says. “Next week.”

“You could go on hormone blockers, if your parents understand. Before your voice changes and you get really manly. But you have to talk to them,” Vanessa says.

“I'm scared,” Mandy confesses.

“Nessa, it's time to go or we're going to be late,” Kurt says running back to get her. He sees Nessa talking to the kid who was watching them earlier, and understands what's going on.

“Here, what's your facebook?” Nessa asks.

“Jeremy S. Tyler,” Mandy answers. She watches Vanessa search her Facebook app and then points to the right contact.

“Friend me back when you get home. You can talk to me whenever you want, okay?” Vanessa said. “We live in Ohio, but if your mom needs to talk to my parents, I can give her their number.”

“Thank you,” Mandy says. Vanessa leans over and gives the younger teenager a hug. Mandy hugs her back and when they pull away, Vanessa sees tears in the younger girl's eyes.

“Stay strong,” Vanessa says. “It gets easier. Just be yourself, and ignore what people say.”

“Feel free to friend me too, if you want,” Kurt says, “You'll find me in Nessa's family section, I'm her brother.”

“Thanks,” Mandy says. The two older teens walk out and leave the restaurant, staying with their friends and family. Vanessa can't help but hope that Mandy friends her when she gets hope. She looked like she could use a friend.


Vanessa loves Les Miserables. Everyone gets into it, even Puck and Santana and Lauren. Vanessa sits between Puck and Kurt, who sits next to Blaine, and can't help but lose herself in the play. She finds herself drawn to Eponine. Rachel is mouthing along to all of Cosette's lines, as is Kurt, and Blaine seems to be, as far as Vanessa can tell, fixated on Marius. But Eponine fascinates Vanessa. She sees so many parallels of herself in the woman, and when she dies, Vanessa starts crying. Puck slips his arm around her, and she rests her head on his shoulder for the rest of the show. She understands why Rachel loves this show so much.

“It was so sad,” Brittany says as they walk out of the theater after the show is over. “The policeman and John-John could have been friends, they could have helped each other, but the policeman couldn't let go of his...” she pauses, trying to remember the word she wants. “Prejudice. He was prejudiced. He wasn't a bad guy at first, but he became one because he couldn't change, or learn.”

“I've never heard it stated so well, Brittany,” Schue says. “That was a very good analysis.”

Brittany beams at her teacher's praise, and then the whole group takes the subway back to the hotel. Burt, Carole, Schue and Bieste do a quick check to make sure that the kids are all in their own rooms in the hotel, and then disappear to their own rooms. Well, Burt and Carole return to their own room, Shannon and Will go down to the hotel's bar for a while.

Kurt and Vanessa are about to change into their pajamas when there's a knock on their door. Vanessa opens it and Puck's standing there.

“Wanna go for a little walk?” Puck asks. “I heard a rumor that it's pretty nice up on the roof.”

“Um, okay,” Vanessa says. “Let me grab a sweater and my room key.” She grabs her purse, and shoves her room key and her cell phone into it, and pulls a sweater off a chair. She leaves the room and her hand slips naturally into Puck's as they walk down the hall toward a staircase. Puck shows her the door he's found to the roof access, and they push it open, stepping out into the night. It's very different in the city than it is back home in the Lima suburbs. The light pollution swallows the stars, so they can't really make out any of the constellations, but from their spot on the roof they can see the whole city all lit up with lights. Vanessa feels the wind on her face, and everything feels so nice. There's a picnic table where the hotel employees obviously come for their smoke breaks, and the sit side by side on the bench, looking out over the city.

“You were really good today,” Vanessa says. “You nailed your solo perfectly.”

“Thanks,” Puck says. “You were pretty awesome at yours too.”

“Mr. Schue apologized to me, did you know that? He says he's sorry he asked me to perform in boy mode, and says that next year he wants me to dress like the rest of the girls for performances, consequences be damned,” Vanessa says.

“That's awesome. I'll admit, when you sang karaoke, I couldn't take my eyes off you,” Puck admits.

“It was kind of a sad song that I sang. It kinda made me think of you.”

“It always makes me think of my Mom,” Puck admits. “I feel so bad for her. She has to work so hard just to keep food on the table, and I certainly haven't done anything to help her out. She'd be better off without me.”

“Never say that,” Vanessa says, firmly. “Nobody would be better off without you. You're so important Puck. Yeah, you used to be a major asshole, but you've changed a lot over the past year, and you've really stepped up. I'm proud to call you my friend.”

“You're amazing, you know that?” Puck says. “I've screwed you over so many times, and you're always ready to forgive me eventually. And you're so brave.”

“You screwed Finn over,” Vanessa corrects. “You and me? We've been close since we were four.” She shivers in the cold night air and he puts his arm around her reflexively.

“That is a very good point,” Puck says, smiling. He turns to look at her. She's smiling, and Puck can't help but see how pretty she is in this light. She hasn't started on any hormones yet, but she's learned different make-up techniques to make herself seem more feminine, and they definitely accentuate her natural beauty. But what gets Puck is the natural radiance that shines out of her at moments like these. Moments when she's let all her walls down, and it's just the two of them, Noah and Nessa. Like they were four years old again.

Puck reaches out with one hand and catches her chin in his hand. He moves his head towards her and she tilts her face up expectantly. Gently, he presses his lips against hers. He moves his arm from around her shoulders to around her waist and pulls her closer to him. The kiss lasts about ten seconds before they break apart, and in those ten seconds, Noah knows that this is where he's supposed to be.

“Was that okay?” he asks Vanessa. “Did I move too fast?”

“It was perfect,” Vanessa answers, blushing.

“I know we said we were going to take this slow, 'cause we don't want this to be some sort of rebound thing, but I think,” Puck pauses, “I think I just figured out that part of me has loved you since we were four, I just didn't realize it, because you were hiding the girl I cared about, like, deep inside you. And I think...I think that I was such a dick, because I resented you for changing. I mean, I understand now that you tried to be a guy because that was what everyone expected of you. But I liked you when you weren't wearing so many masks.”

“Puck,” Vanessa starts, then she stops. “Noah,” she corrects herself. “Part of me has loved you since I was four. Even when you were an ass. But you're right, I hid Vanessa deep inside because people didn't want her around. I pretended to be the super masculine guy because that's what people, like, needed from me. I buried that part of me deep inside, and I buried my feelings for you with it. I'm, like, still not used to the idea that these feelings are allowed. A part of me totally keeps expecting you to slug me and tell me to man up.”

Noah takes a deep breath, and guilt is evident on his face. “I'm so sorry I ever did that. I'm so sorry I was such an asshole for so long.”

“I forgive you. And I know Kurt's forgiven you. Noah, you're my best friend. As much as I really, really want to be your girlfriend, the idea of dating you terrifies me. What if we break up and I lose my best friend? And then there's the fact that you're a self-proclaimed sex shark, and even if it was possible for you to be attracted to me, I am so totally not anywhere near ready for that. And how long until you get bored and start, like, sexting Santana or making out with Lauren in closets?” Vanessa asks.

“Hey, hey, hey,” Noah interjects. “First of all, no matter what happens, I will always be your best friend. If we can recover from me knocking up Quinn, we can come back from anything. Second, you're gorgeous and amazing. I'm totally into you, and that includes physically, so don't even start that crap about not being pretty. I think you're beautiful. And third, my right hand is perfectly capable of keeping me satisfied. I can wait as long as you need to. Yeah, it might be frustrating, but did you miss the part, a few minutes ago, when I just told you I'm in love with you? When you love somebody, you make sacrifices, and you wait until you're ready. And that's something I didn't get before. But I'm not that fifteen-year-old jackass who gets cheerleaders drunk on wine coolers just to get in their pants. I can wait.” Noah sets a hand on Vanessa's shoulder, and stares right into her eyes, making sure she hears what he's saying.

“You really love me?” Vanessa asks. “That's so weird.”

“It really is,” Noah agrees. “I don't get it either, but I love you.”

“I love you too,” Vanessa says, and she leans forward to kiss him again. This kiss is longer, and Vanessa parts her lips slightly to let Puck run his tongue over them, but she doesn't fully open her mouth yet. His teeth ever so lightly graze her lower lip as they pull apart.

“So, what do you say, want to give this dating thing a shot?” Puck asks.

“Alright,” Vanessa agrees, smiling. “We should go back to our rooms soon, before we get in trouble.”

“Actually, Blaine and Kurt are having a bit of a booty call,” Puck admits. “Blaine said he'd text me when they're done.”

“So this was all a diversion?” Vanessa asks.

“Kinda,” Puck admits. “But I meant every word I said.”

“I know,” Vanessa agrees. “Still, you misled me.”

“How can I make it up to you?” Puck asks.

“Hmm,” Vanessa pretended to mull it over. “You could always kiss me again.”

So he does.

*End Chapter 10*