Disclaimer: Not mine.
Summary: Mercedes makes matches. ;P
Mercedes has resigned herself to the fact that she’s going to spend the rest of her life a little in love with Kurt Hummel. It’s different, of course, from when she thought he was straight, but it’s love all the same. How could she help it, really? He’s the strongest person she knows, the only one who has a crystal clear sense of who he is. So when he shows up looking like a strung out trucker and growling a fucking Mellencamp song (really? Mellencamp? Like, she gets the pain of the working class and all, but she’s never understood his romanticism of small towns and slutty teenagers. At least Springsteen has soul.) it’s like a knife to the heart.
It takes longer than it should to pin her boy down and offer a shoulder to cry on because she has Puck dogging her every move, which is irritating as hell. Puck, who wants to use her to increase his own popularity and, oh, when did her life become such a strange place? Puck is chasing her and Kurt is making out with Brittany and somehow she’s cat-fighting Santana over someone she doesn’t even really want. Mercedes blames Glee. Maybe Sue Sylvester has pumped mind altering drugs into the air system in the choir room.
Luckily the madness blows over pretty quickly and Kurt is back to being fabulous and Puck is back to throwing members of the McKinley lower echelon into the dumpster. Things have returned to status quo and it should be a relief, except she finds herself sort of missing the not-entirely-irredeemable geeky side of Puck. Plus, she kind of liked hanging out and playing video games with him, although she will deny all knowledge of such behavior should anyone ask. There’s also the way Kurt’s smile gets kind of shaky whenever Finn’s around, like everything just hurts. Thus, a plan is hatched. A brilliant, insane plan that she is totally awesome enough to pull off and will make everyone a better, happier person in the long run. There is some groundwork to lay out first, though. She starts with Kurt.
“He’s a reprobate,” Kurt dismisses, biting neatly through a celery stick.
“Mmm,” Mercedes hums noncommittally. “Hot, though.”
Kurt clearly disapproves. “Are you telling me that you actually have a thing for Noah Puckerman?”
“Of course not!” If Kurt thinks she does this will never work. “But tell me you’ve never even looked.
Kurt smirks. “Okay. I may have, in the depths of my depression and identity crisis, wanted to undress him with my teeth. You know how I feel about suit vests. And hats. And tight black pants…” He sort of wanders off into reminiscence and Mercedes tries not to squirm because, okay, hot. “But then he opened his mouth for something other than singing and I got over it.”
Mercedes sighs. This is in no way going to be easy.
“Kurt?” Puck frowns for a second. “Oh! You mean Hummel?”
Mercedes scowls at him and swerves her car to run over a pedestrian. Vice City is therapeutic, okay? “He has a first name, asshole. It wouldn’t kill you to use it once in a while.”
“Okay, but. Why?”
“Consider this your first lesson in how to be a real boy,” she snarks sweetly.
“Remind me why we’re hanging out in my room and not making out?” Puck seems genuinely confused.
“Because I am far too much woman for you.” Mercedes tosses her head just a little. Kurt would be proud. “Also, I’m not interested in you like that and I’m pretty much the only person who wants to hang out with you at the moment.”
“Your loss,” Puck mutters with a pout. “So what are you doing here, other than insulting me and hogging my X-Box?”
“Rehabilitating you,” she replies honestly. “You can’t flirt and bully your way through life.”
Puck preens and flexes his, admittedly nice, muscles. “It’s worked so far.”
Mercedes rolls her eyes. “Because we’re in high school, which is a microcosm of hormones and stupidity. Real life isn’t like that. And if you want to get out of this crappy little town you need to get over yourself. Like, yesterday.”
“So, what, you’re my life coach now?”
“Something like that. And unless you want to be another Lima Loser working graveyard at Walmart, you should pay attention.”
Puck flops back on the bed. “Fuck everything about my life.”
Mercedes smiles and guns her car into a Pay ‘n’ Spray to shake the cops. Phase one accomplished.
Puck is surprisingly easy to order around. He grumbles a lot with his usual crassness, but generally does what she wants anyway. It’s probably because the first time she met his mom he got the, “Don’t give this girl any grief, Noah, her people have suffered as we have,” lecture, which, awkward. It’s not like she’s unaware of history, but her family doesn’t sit around watching Roots every weekend or anything. Still, the secret knowledge that McKinley’s resident badass is a total mama’s boy delights her in untold ways.
Kurt is the one throwing a wrench in her plans, actually. Every time Puck comes around he gives amazing bitchface. Of course, it probably doesn’t help that Puck has increased his running commentary on how very gay Kurt is, like maybe everyone’s forgotten or something. It’s stupid male posturing and ruining her plans and, clearly, drastic measures must be taken.
“You know, Puck,” Mercedes begins innocently while they’re being forced to watch some WWII documentary on PBS with Mrs. Puckerman. “You should probably quit giving Kurt such a hard time about being gay. You know what they did to gay people during the Holocaust, don’t you?”
She beats a hasty retreat when Puck’s mom turns to him and begins the teary chastisement: “Oh, Noah, you didn’t.”
Quinn follows her out of the room, arms folded over her growing belly. “What are you doing?” Amusement threads her tone.
Mercedes tilts her chin defensively. She still sort of feels about Quinn the way Kurt obviously feels about Puck, like this personality change is some sort of cruel joke that will end in torment. Only without all the sexual tension. Obviously. “Arranging a social coup.”
“Are you matchmaking?”
“Uh. A little. Maybe.” It seems sort of ludicrous when said out loud.
Quinn’s smile turns sly. “Count me in.”
“What?” Mercedes’ hearing must be going. “You want to help me hook your baby daddy up with Kurt?”
“Please.” Quinn hand waves the incredulity. “Like I haven’t seen the way Puck stares at Kurt’s ass in the Cheerios’ uniform. He’s the easy part. Kurt’s going to be a little harder to convince.”
Mercedes sighs. “You’re telling me. Even after the thing with his dad, he’s still all hung up on Finn. I don’t get it.”
“Finn’s the safe option,” Quinn explains. “Kurt can work out his jock lust and Finn won’t beat him up for it. If Finn were to magically turn gay and want him back, Kurt would be bored in a week.”
Mercedes studies her for a moment. “When did you get so observant?” What she really wants to ask is, ‘When did you start caring about anybody but yourself,” but that seems kind of rude.
Quinn shrugs. “I have a lot of time on my hands now. And Figgins makes me see Ms. Pillsbury once a week to make sure I’m not going to have some sort of pregnant meltdown at school or something.”
For the first time ever, Mercedes sees Quinn as someone she could be friends with. Now that the Queen Bee status has been ripped away from her and the annoying martyr routine appears to be over, Mercedes can see an actual person emerging from the rubble of popularity. This is the girl who talked her out of an eating disorder and warned her about Santana and she appears to be genuine. Huh.
“So. Puck is going to be experiencing Jewish guilt for at least an hour. Call up Kurt and make him take us to the mall. I need a pedicure and a bacon cheeseburger.”
Kurt is much more receptive to the addition of Quinn to their daily hangouts. He keeps treating her like a pregnant Barbie doll and ordering designer maternity wear for her because, “being pregnant is no excuse for bad fashion.” Quinn mostly seems amused by it. She draws the line at the unitard, though, no matter how amazing Heidi Klum looked in it.
Occasionally Mercedes and Quinn drag Puck to lunch with them, but Kurt always runs off early when they do. Puck and Kurt still sneer at each other and trade barbs, but Puck hasn’t mocked Kurt’s blinding gayness once. In fact, he’s mostly been sticking to the ‘What the fuck are you wearing’ vein of mockery. Mercedes decides that she’ll have to consider that progress. Quinn, however, is less satisfied.
“This is stupid,” she announces after the boys have stormed off in opposite directions. “It’s not like the chemistry isn’t there.”
“If you say so,” Mercedes replies skeptically. “Puck just seems extra pissy. He’s been stomping around a lot and this morning he threatened the entire A/V club by growling at them. I think we’ve taken a step backward.”
Quinn’s smile is downright evil. “Oh, that’s sexual frustration.”
“What did you do?” Mercedes asks cautiously.
“I told him that our daughter deserved a father who didn’t behave like a slutty extra from Desperate Housewives. Then I explained to Brittany that in order for Kurt and Puck to admit their secret love, Puck needs to stop hooking up with Santana. I’m pretty sure he’s cut off again. If Britt asks Santana to stop fucking someone, she usually does it.”
Mercedes is a little in awe. “You’re an evil mastermind, girl.”
Quinn looks pleased with herself. “I’ve done my part, but you’re slacking. Kurt’s been looking a little out there lately. Make him tone it back some. Or at least wear something that isn’t five layers of crazy.” She shrugs. “We need a week of him being sexy instead of just strange.”
Mercedes wants to defend her boy, but Quinn has a point. Kurt’s outfits lately have been edging toward bizarre. Hell, yesterday he wore jodhpurs. Sparkly ones. She knows that she’s made some fashion faux pas herself and Kurt always looks amazing, but Puck needs to see something other than the clothes when he looks at him. This is a challenge and she is not backing down.
She shows up to Kurt’s house three hours before school bearing caramel macchiatos. Mr. Hummel doesn’t even look surprised to see her, just grunts into his coffee cup and waves her downstairs. Kurt is up but not dressed yet, staring owlishly into his gigantic closet when she arrives.
“Good morning!” Mercedes chirps, setting the coffee down.
Kurt’s lips tilt slightly. “To what do I owe the pleasure?”
“You need help dressing today,” she announces, taking a seat on the couch.
“Well, I’ve only been dressing myself for thirteen years. I can see how you might feel I need help now.” It’s not his best effort at snark, but he hasn’t been up long so she’ll let it slide.
“I don’t want to offend you or anything, and I don’t know if it’s you overcompensating for allowing a trucker hat and flannel on your person or what, but lately? You’ve been looking extra crazy, baby.”
Kurt purses his lips. “And you have chosen this morning to care, why?”
“Because I have a plan that involves you toning it down for a few days and you are just going to have to trust me here.”
Kurt looks like he’s going to protest for a moment, then his shoulders slump dejectedly. “Okay.”
Mercedes almost sprints across the room to gather him in a fierce hug. “Oh, baby, what’s going on?”
“I can’t even care about my clothes right now. I just want things to go back to normal. I want to rewind and not set Dad up with Carol. It was so stupid! And I know he loves me and I come first, but he’s always going to have more in common with Finn.”
Mercedes rubs his back soothingly. “It’ll be okay. Give it time. The novelty will wear off soon enough.”
Kurt pulls back and gives her a wobbly smile. “Thank you.” He visibly pulls himself together with a deep breath. “Now, you had a plan for my look?”
“Today we’re going with the ‘less is more’ theory.”
He looks skeptical, but allows her to throw skintight jeans and a white v-neck T-shirt at him. After much pouting and sighing and longing looks cast toward his barrage of hair products, she talks him into a more natural, tousled look. The barely there eyeliner and Juicy Tubes lip gloss are a much easier sell. When she finally spins him around to face the mirror, Mercedes is entirely pleased with herself. Kurt’s eyes are wide and his lips are glossy pink and his hair looks like someone’s been running their fingers through it in a dark closet somewhere. Overall, he looks vulnerable.
Kurt flushes high on his perfect cheekbones. “I look debauched,” he hisses.
“That’s sort of the point. Do what I say today and you can wear the corset and bitch boots on Friday.”
Kurt’s pout is suddenly much more distracting than usual. Damn, she’s good. “Figgins sent me home to change last time.”
“Yeah, well, that was before your dad threatened to sue the school over a solo. He won’t say anything if you threaten a discrimination lawsuit.”
Mercedes is only about 80% sure of this, but it pulls a dazzling smile from Kurt that makes her breath catch and something deep in her chest hurt. Her boy is the prettiest boy in the entire world and if this doesn’t make a sex-deprived Puck want to pin him against something and ravish him, then he’s a lost cause.
“Now we can discuss your attitude,” Mercedes continues once she can breathe again.
Oh, bitchface is back. Crap. “My attitude?”
Mercedes sighs. “I love the Ice Queen thing you’ve been rocking lately, I do, but give it a rest today. Consider this an acting exercise. Today you walk around like you know the best secret ever. And flirt with everyone. But in a subtle way. Not in that creepy way you sometimes do with Finn.”
“Okay, first of all, I am not ‘creepy’ with Finn. And second, have you been reading Seventeen again? Because we’ve talked about this ‘Cedes.”
“Just do it, okay? Mock me later.”
Kurt rolls his eyes. “Fine.”
“Hey! Mercedes!” Puck is flagging her down at her locker, which is an interesting development. “I don’t want you to think I miss you coming around telling me what a douche I am, ‘cause I don’t, okay? But I got Fallout 3 expansions and…uh. Um. Hi. Kurt.”
Kurt, bless his little heart, straps on a soft flirty smile and brushes Puck’s arm with his fingertips, invading his personal space like whoa. “Hello, Noah. Would you mind letting me get to my locker?”
“Oh. Um, uh. Sure. I guess.” Puck backs away quickly, like he’s been burned, but gives Kurt a slow once-over before disappearing back down the hallway.
Kurt stares after him, bemused. “Huh.”
“Mmmhmm.” Mercedes does not squeal or do a victory dance but, oh, it is difficult to resist. She settles for a smug smile and links arms with Kurt to head to first period.
“So, what’s a ‘Fallout 3’?” Kurt asks curiously. “And when did you start hanging out with Puck outside of school?”
“It’s a video game. Don’t worry about it.” Mercedes isn’t entirely sure how the Puck friendship thing happened herself, actually. It has something to do with missing her big brother and Puck being too impressed that she games to try getting into her pants.
Puck isn’t the only one to give Kurt a second look throughout the day. Of course, he keeps “accidentally” dropping things and bending over to retrieve them in jeans that could stop traffic, so, not surprising. Still, every appraising glance as they walk down the halls feels like a win.
They eat lunch with most of Glee and Quinn gives her a subtle thumbs up and mouths, “Nice job.”
“Mercedes,” Kurt hisses halfway through the lunch hour. “Why is Puck looking at me like I’m the last Krispy Kreme in the police station?”
Mercedes glances over at the jock table and has to fight down the urge to laugh. Sure enough, Puck looks like he wants to devour Kurt. The intensity is way hot. She’s pretty sure Kurt thinks so too, despite the horrified expression on his face. Maybe it’s disconcerting feeling like you’re prey. She wouldn’t know; no one’s ever looked at her like that.
“Hmm. Maybe he finally figured out how hot you are.” Mercedes tries for nonchalance and fails utterly.
Kurt’s eyes narrow dangerously. “You have something to do with this.”
Mercedes glares right back. “Without any help from you, I might add. Puck is actually trying to be a decent guy for once in his life and he’s hot. Now stop acting like a virgin with the vapors clutching her pearls and start eye-fucking him back.”
He blinks at her a few times in shock, but pulls it together. After a brief second of studied blankness, Kurt launches a come-hither look across the room that she knows he must have practiced in the mirror. It’s too perfect to be off-the-cuff. Puck’s eyes get wide and then settle back into heated appraisal, accompanied by a slow dirty smirk.
“If this gets me killed, I am haunting you forever,” Kurt mutters under his breath.
“Shut up and enjoy the moment.” She certainly is.
“What the fuck?” Puck looks at his controller like he thinks it might be broken. “How are you this good? You’ve never even played this before!”
Mercedes is currently kicking his ass at old school Mortal Kombat. “Shut up and take it like a man, bitch!” she crows as his heart gets ripped out.
“You have severely fucked up my life, you know,” Puck accuses as he sets up a re-match.
“I refuse to believe that. I only bring awesome.”
“You made me gay!”
Mercedes hits pause. “Look, you can’t ‘make’ someone gay and you know it. And don’t even pretend like you haven’t messed around with a dude before.”
Puck squirms. “Quinn needs to keep her fucking mouth shut,” he growls. “It was just once.”
Mercedes raises an eyebrow.
“Okay. Twice. Shut up. I am not gay for Kurt Hummel.”
“You don’t have to be. You can go back to chasing skirts and we can all forget this ever happened.” She means it. The last thing Mercedes wants to do is make anyone miserable. She just thinks they could be good together. Kurt can refine some of the rough edges and Puck can loosen Kurt up a bit and make him smile more.
“If it were that easy I would have done it already.”
Mercedes smiles sympathetically. “He gets under your skin, right?”
Puck snorts. “Like a fucking splinter. He’s even bitchier than Santana. And even after all the bullying, he walks around like he owns the damn place. And, god, his ass.”
“Okay, now we’re getting to the parts I’m uncomfortable hearing about. Go ask him out already.”
“Soon. Just. Let me figure this shit out.”
Two days later she has Puck banging on her door. He’s never been to her house before. In fact, she’s not even sure how he knows where she lives. It’s a good thing no one is home, though, because Puck just barges in and starts pacing the length of her living room. He’s like a big, scary cat in a cage. Except there are no bars between her and barely-suppressed rage. Super.
“He thinks I’m fucking with him,” Puck snarls. “And, you know, not in the way I want to be.”
Mercedes just stares. She’s sort of afraid he’s going to start breaking things and nothing in this room belongs to her. “Um. You asked Kurt out?”
“Yes! I don’t even usually ask girls out. Most of the time I just tell them we’re dating.”
“And we just fall all over ourselves with gratitude,” Mercedes retorts dryly. “Besides, you don’t even date most of the time. You just hook up.”
“You went out with me,” he points out.
Mercedes inspects her nails. “Mostly I just wanted the free Mochaccinos. Those things will eat your budget.”
“I don’t know why I keep coming back for the abuse.”
“Because you love it.” Puck has calmed down enough that she doesn’t feel like she has to keep hovering. “Now, how did you ask?”
Puck actually flushes. And here she thought he had no shame. “I told him I liked his outfit and asked him if he’d go to dinner with me.”
That’s…not bad, actually. Certainly it’s better than Puck’s standard, ‘Nice shoes - wanna fuck?’ approach. “It’s a good start. Now you just have to prove you’re serious.”
“Yeah, no thanks.” Puck’s fists start clenching again.
“Your loss.” Mercedes heads for the door.
“No, wait.” Puck stops her, looking a little lost. “I just. I’m trying, okay? I hate it, but you were right. I kind of like myself more when I’m not being an asshole. And it’s not like I’ve thrown Kurt in the dumpster since I joined Glee, but I sort of get why he doesn’t trust me. I want him to know I’m not messing with him. How do I do that?”
“You could try singing to him.”
Puck’s expression is pained. “My track record? Not so great with that.”
Mercedes gives him a fond look. “Serenading worked just fine for you. Twice. It was what you followed it up with that was the problem. So, you know, be better this time. It’ll work, I swear.” She gently moves Puck out the door. “Now go pick a song to work on. We’ll discuss details later.”
The second the door is closed she returns one of the twenty-three missed calls from Kurt. “Mercedes!” he wails. “Puck just asked me out and I said no. I called him a cretin! What the hell is the matter with me?”
Well, that explains the Puckrage. “Shh, it’s okay,” she soothes. “I can fix this. I’ll be there in ten minutes and we can pick your outfit for tomorrow.”
Mercedes has never been so stressed in her life. She has had to remind Puck no less than three times that he’s a stud no matter what he does and validate his song choice at least six times and it’s not even noon yet. She’s also had to keep Kurt from drinking his weight in Diet Coke. By the time Glee rolls around she’s exhausted.
“Hey, Mr. Shue, before we get started I have something I’d like to sing.” Puck doesn’t even sound nervous.
Mr. Shuester always seems just this side of gob smacked whenever Puck shows an interest. It’s kind of hilarious how pleased he gets, like he really feels he’s making a difference. In a way he kind of is, she supposes. If it weren’t for his renovation of Glee, half the people in the room would still be doing their level best to crush the other half into loser dust.
“The floor is yours, Puck.”
Puck saunters to the front of the room, ‘can’t touch me’ smirk firmly in place. “All right, so, this song was written by a famous gay Jew,” he announces.
Mercedes wants to laugh because Puck is just so damn predictable. She straightens in her chair and eyes Kurt, who looks like he’s going to faint. Puck’s fingers slide over the strings and she can tell the second Kurt figures out what song it is because he stops breathing.
“The sun comes up, I think about you…” Puck’s throaty voice wraps around the lyrics and he sings like Kurt is the only person in the room. This isn’t a show, this is a seduction and it is blazing hot. She can practically see the little hearts in Kurt’s eyes. Regardless of whether or not she’s attracted to Puck, she remembers the overwhelming rush of having someone sing just for her and knows there is no way on God’s green earth Kurt can resist this.
Mercedes sneaks a glance over at Quinn, who is swaying in her chair and seems to be on the verge of happy tears. Pregnancy hormones must be a bitch, but Mercedes agrees with the sentiment. The rest of Glee just looks like they’ve been hit over the head with a 2x4 of surprise gay. Except Santana and Brittany, who are cuddling in the back of the room.
Mr. Shue clears his throat when Puck is finished, obviously uncomfortable. “That was…really well done, Puck. Thank you.”
Puck smirks and slides into the seat next to Kurt, sprawling all over his personal space. Kurt leans over and whispers something that makes Puck grin broadly and drape an arm behind Kurt’s shoulders. It’s sweet, the way Kurt kind of melts into it. Mercedes has a feeling that her plans for an evening of film noir with her boy have just been cancelled and, really, she couldn’t be happier about it.
She doesn’t hear from Kurt until the next morning at school and he is the picture of what Mercedes’ mom would call, ‘bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.’ It’s a good look for him. Puck, on the other hand, is down the hall looking more than a little haggard. Mercedes keeps eyeing them both until her curiosity finally gets the better of her.
“What the hell happened last night?”
Kurt hums happily as he inspects his hair in the mirror pasted to the inside of his locker. “I wore him out.”
“You wore out Noah ‘I’m a sex shark’ Puckerman?” she hisses incredulously.
“Mmmhmm.” Kurt closes his locker and sashays down the hall to stand in front of Puck. His eyes rake over Puck’s frame and he licks his lips provocatively. “Good morning, Noah,” he purrs in a tone she has never heard from him ever.
Puck makes a choked little whining noise in the back of his throat. “Hey.”
“I assume you received my text this morning?”
“Um.” Puck flicks an inscrutable glance at Mercedes. “Yeah.”
“Good. Don’t be late.”
Puck looks offended. “Of course not.”
“I know,” Kurt replies confidently. He relents with the attitude long enough to give Puck a brilliant smile, which has the fascinating effect of turning Puck into a stammering, shuffling mess. Mercedes has never been so entertained.
Puck exhales loudly and rakes a hand over his still-shaved head. “So, um, I have to get to class. I’ll see you later.”
“Count on it.” Kurt wiggles his fingers in farewell.
There’s something off about Puck’s stride as he walks away from them - a sort of ginger hitch in his step and ohgod. Suddenly all the pieces slam together with the force of a freight train and Mercedes stops dead in the middle of the hall to gape at her best friend. He did not top Puck last night. Except the smug smile and extra confidence and the way he is freaking glowing say he totally did. Well damn, boy, get some.
Mercedes throws her head back and laughs so hard her eyes tear up. “I love you,” she tells Kurt, sliding her arm through his.
Kurt gives a happy shimmy and rests his head on her shoulder. “You are the best friend ever.”