Rating: R for swears and sexytimes
Pairings: Puck/Lauren, mentions of a lot of canon pairs as well as Kurt/Blaine and Brittany/Santana
Word Count: 2900+
Spoilers: Up through 2x10
Summary: Lauren doesn't care. Much. And screw you if you think she does.
Lauren knows what people say about her. That's because she's made it very easy to figure out.
"Heart on your sleeve" is such an easy cliche to throw around. Lauren wears her heart on her belly and her biceps and on the tip of her acid-barbed tongue, because if you're going to assume all kinds of shit when she walks around the corner anyway, then why shouldn't she fucking own it? High school's a jungle or a forest or whatever animal metaphor they're throwing around this week. There are predators with teeth, looking for weak baby deer who just want to be loved. Lauren's a goddamn rhino. They're never going to touch her.
And they're not going to ignore her. That'd be too easy, because if you don't mock girls like Lauren then you don't see them instead - they're invisible sweatstains among the beautiful people and all their stupid beautiful people drama. The best friend can be fat and ugly maybe, maybe, if she's funny and smiley enough. But she's never a leading lady. Except Lauren never does anything by halves, and she's not going to smile, fuck no, but she's not going to blend into the background. So like everyone else at McKinley, she'll be a cliche brought to life.
If she thinks Schue's abs are lickable, she'll shout it in the middle of a crowded assembly. She doesn't care who she makes uncomfortable. If she liked Twilight, the idea of sculpted, sparkling men with bedroom eyes overseeing her sleep, she will dive at Jacob Ben Israel in a goddamn cape and revel in the absurdity of it all. (When Jacob asks for a heavy petting session afterward, she'll look at him like the smug, sexually harassing little worm he is, because Lauren is also anything but desperate.)
If she wants to wrestle, to put this frame of hers to some fucking use, she'll take them to court if she has to. So much the better if it'll stop the questions from her doctor, the tape measure around her waist and the insistence they check her glucose just in case this one last time because obesity is an epidemic, Lauren, everything in moderation. If she likes food, she'll eat food and do favors for food and ask for food for goddamn Christmas because if they expect it anyway, she might as well enjoy it. And the bulk helps her win her next match, so screw moderation.
Lauren is tugging Puckerman into the closet by his collar, and he still smells a little bit like a porta-potty, but she doesn't care because the boy is fine. He's got this cocky little pout like he's got something to prove, like she didn't just find him about to wet himself from fear in a portable toilet on the edge of the football field. It's stupid, but it makes him smoking hot.
"Shouldn't I shower or something?" Puck mutters, and Lauren rolls her eyes and plunks his hands on her waist.
"Shut up and work your mouth. Clock's running, starting now."
She moves in to kiss him first, though, because that's what you do when you're proving you're in charge, and she's not unpleasantly surprised when her lips meet his halfway. They're warm, and softer than she expected; she opens her mouth and his tongue is right there to respond, slipping against hers, bumping against teeth. Puck makes this weird little groan in his throat, like he's surprised and maybe even kind of pleased, and she slides a hand down his chest as his grip tightens on her waist and he tugs her closer.
Lauren knows how to kiss - though she's only learned from practice with her cat, and Internet articles, and a brave girlfriend or two at sleepovers, but she's not afraid to say so because fuck boys, they've missed out on her. Still, kissing Puckerman's different. There's someone moving against her. There's someone kissing back, and she has to adjust for him, the way he's gasping for air when she wants to go faster, the way she feels heat pooling in her stomach when she realizes he's grabbing a handful of her ass.
He isn't making a joke about double-wides. He's muttering something about how curvy girls are awesome, how a Cheerios girl usually has no butt and he needs to bang MILFs to get the hips. Lauren takes a breath and slips her tongue back in his mouth to shut him up, and she's not nervous when she feels him hard against her thigh, or when she starts to grind slow up against him and feels him respond in kind.
She's not nervous. And she's not going to lose her virginity in a janitor's closet to a guy who smells like a toilet. So screw you, too, if you thought so.
After five minutes with New Directions, Lauren decides she hates them. Schuester is kind of a dweeb when he isn't grinding up on stage; he keeps welcoming her with this too-big smile like he's scared she'll step on him, and he's babbling a lot about teamwork and letting everyone shine, but all Lauren can hear is "I am really trying to impress someone with what a sensitive man I am." She'd put money on that someone being either Coach Sylvester or the guidance counselor who always looks like she swallowed those drugs that dilate your pupils - maybe both of them, because apparently Schue's kind of a slut like that.
When Puck says she rocked his world, the dark-haired Cheerio in the back makes this motion like she needs a shower, except Lauren knows the expression she's got on her face, that "please come near me so I can punch you for getting too near me" expression. The only person she doesn't wear that look for is that other Cheerio, the dumb one, and the dumb one's currently playing a very one-sided game of footsie with the wheelchair kid, so she wonders what that's all about.
Then there's these two blondes that look like a GAP ad cuddling in the back - one of which is another cheerleader, of course - and she may actually want to hit them both in the face, because she didn't know two people could look totally in love and completely choreographed at the exact same time.
When that Berry girl Jacob's always staring at starts making these little pointed comments in the quarterback's direction, New Directions gets upgraded to moderately amusing and a good source of candy. (Puck just passed her the Cadbury creme eggs.) But she still doesn't care about this stuff. And she doesn't care about this bunch of jocks, and their inexplicable outcasthood just because they like to sing shower karaoke, and their stupid problems like every other teenager's stupid problems except for how they sing about them.
Lauren's curious, so she asks Puck what happened with the football team and he tells her about Springsteen.
He tells her about wanting to cut an album like The Boss and get famous and get out of this place. He tells her about money, how he saw that ATM and his palms itched and suddenly he didn't care what happened. He tells her about that first night in juvie, watching people who were bigger and angrier looming up all around him, and how he wanted his guitar more than anything, something real to hold in his hands.
Puckerman tells her about Kurt, who doesn't need to knock over an ATM to get out of Lima, and how Kurt's at this place for rich people now, and how the jock who shoved him out of McKinley has these dead eyes like he doesn't even care. And how Puck used to be one of those guys, but Kurt and Mercedes and even Rachel are like a hundred times more awesome so he's just kind of angry these days, angry and not able to hit anyone for it.
None of that actually answers her question, but she has the feeling that he needed someone to tell. She passes him a Cadbury egg, begrudgingly, because he didn't get all pissy when he realized he'd said too much, and when they make out again she palms him off through his jeans.
She's not some stupid, lovesick little girl. She knows that Puckerman sleeps around almost as much as Dumb Cheerio Brittany, and it's a miracle there's only one pregnancy scandal between the two of them. But Puck can find forty year olds and big girls and Coach Beiste hot, all in their own ways, and it's not because he's trying to be something, he just does. It's almost kind of nice.
So it's not that she's jealous when she sees Berry all hugging up on him, clinging to his biceps. It's seriously not. It's just that Berry is pretty, even though she pretends she isn't, and she's got that voice, and she's got that guy she's been dating - the quarterback. And even though the quarterback is on some weird break with her right now because he did some of the stupid bullshit guys do, even though they might even split up, they're still gonna get back together in like five minutes after Berry sings a billion sad songs about it. And even when they're broken up or fighting they're gonna be some dumb safe thing together all the time, and Puckerman's too good for that.
And Lauren's too good for it, too, so she refuses to watch.
The story most of the jocks tell is that Hummel had this thing for the quarterback, and made him super uncomfortable, but they had to get along because their parents were married now or something. So Hummel switched his affections to another big dumb guy, except this big dumb guy wasn't so nice about it, and he got expelled for like a week, but then he came back and Kurt left instead.
Lauren doesn't know about that. Watching the Wibblers perform - or whatever they're called - Kurt looks way more into the little preppy guy who keeps glancing back over at him during all the romantic parts of the song. The guy looks like he's not sure if he wants to kiss Hummel or hold his hand through the choreography so he stops fucking it up, but Lauren doesn't care if he ever figures it out because it's kind of hot to watch.
Puckerman looks like he just stepped in dog shit. She wants to tease him about whether the lead singer stole his man or something, but it'd just piss him off more and she knows that's not the point anyway.
Backstage before the performance, everyone's breaking up and New Directions gets upgraded to the Best Green Room Ever. Brittany and Wheelchair Kid are actually kind of sweet even when they're fighting, though Brittany's Ex looks like she needs some serious anger management, and the GAP Twins look like they need to pose for a postcard along with Asian Fusion, who are just as photogenic but less nauseating, maybe because they're quieter about it and they actually get angry at each other sometimes.
Berry's still angry at pretty much everyone, which is good because pretty much everyone hates her, except Puck. Puck kind of likes her, apparently.
Schue says something about going up there and singing together, even if they hate each other, and Lauren just wants to ask why. These people have done nothing but snip and whine and play Relationship Musical Chairs since the second she walked into the choir room. They're like anyone else stepped off of a teen movie, saying platitudes about being yourself while hoping for the same cookie-cutter magic prom night. High School Musical for Lima Losers. So ordinary it's extraordinary.
She never wanted to be a part of this, to care about any of these people or whatever pretense they have at a group. She just wanted her damn candy and to make out with a hot guy, and to maybe kill some time watching these idiots with their soap opera excuses for problems.
Berry passes her the Raisinettes. Well, there's something, at least.
She goes into pushups right there on the backstage floor, because as far as she's concerned you're doing it wrong if you haven't worked up a good sweat. It helps her put all that brain-numbing irritation into something real, something she can feel through her whole body. It's solid. It belongs to her, and only her.
So why is Puckerman standing over her, asking what she's doing?
"I'm a wrestler," Lauren deadpans. "This is how I get psyched up for competition."
"Hey, you don't have to be nervous." Puck is smiling at her, and his face is way too gentle for someone who's taken her to second base. "You saved my life out there. I've got your back."
She wonders what would happen if she hadn't. If someone else had saved him, would he be leading them down this pathetic rabbit hole too? Would he have looked twice at her, if she hadn't won the title for World's Snarkiest Guardian Angel? Probably not. Definitely not.
"Aww, I'm not nervous," she purrs. "You know why? Because show choir is stupid."
He looks a bit like a kicked puppy as she walks away. It's kind of adorable - well, or it would be. If she cared.
She isn't sure what she's expecting.
To phone it in from the back, pretty much, to try and blend in for once. To not let it matter. She's a wrestler - she knows the energy from the crowd, sure, but it's nothing compared to the energy of pinning a guy beneath you and hissing in his dumb, dazed face. She belongs on the gym floor, not here, not in a million years. And when Barbie and Ken start their twee little duet, she rolls her eyes and braces herself for three whole songs of this.
Then the curtain lifts. Then eleven people who've sung together all year push forward and take their reluctant replacement with them, and they're - what did Schue say, that one time? They're a wall of sound. They're giddy and ridiculous, but not in some theme park jukebox musical kind of way; they mean it too much. Suddenly they're not in Lima, Ohio anymore, and they're not in some low-budget excuse for an auditorium, either. They're in a bubble of glitter and energy, mismatched puzzle pieces fitting together in this weird patchwork tableau, letting the music carry them up and up.
Lauren's not pretty and she's not a performer, she's not a part of this. She doesn't even need showbiz to get her out of Lima. But as Brittany's Ex growls into another song that may be better than anger management, she watches two of these losers dancing their asses off up front and thinks they may actually be kind of good.
She's thrown off the choreography for a second but Puck's right next to her, letting her watch him to follow the moves. She nails her part of the harmony and realizes that yeah, there's more than one way to get psyched up. It's biological, maybe, but music does something to you. Puckerman's smiling, and for once she kind of understands why.
They get a standing ovation. Lauren bows with the rest of them.
Coach Sylvester looks personally affronted when she finds Lauren walking around in a Santa hat. She actually asks why, like you need a reason.
"Because it's Christmas," Lauren says, unblinking, "and it's fun."
Fun. She's having fun. Not as much fun as when she's wrestling, or when she blows a kiss at Puck and he actually laughs and smiles back at her. But it's fun, sure, and what's wrong with that?
She gets how they're a family now, but sometimes Lauren thinks these show choir nerds are a little too eager to welcome the whole stupid world into the fold. They keep dragging her to things: tree trimming. Caroling from class to class - until a teacher throws a shoe, which is hilarious. Raising money for something-or-other.
She's forced to sit on Santa's lap one day because, apparently, Wheelchair Kid Artie isn't dating Brittany so much as babysitting her. "I want Puckerman to love me," she tells Santa, not caring who hears. "He's a fox. Also, I want sweet potato fries."
Because if they want her in their stupid family, they'd better want her pound for pound. Or they can find someone else to rescue them for Regionals.
Lauren knows what people think of her. She knows she doesn't join things, and she doesn't make many friends, and that she doesn't smile because she doesn't want to, thank you very fucking much. And it's not like she's some big convert to glee-hood, even though she's sure she'll be wearing a green slushie at least once before Christmas break. But it's not completely horrible, so maybe she'll waste her time with these people for a little while.
At least until they get a few more auditions. What's the harm?
And screw anyone who has a problem with it.