Finn’s face is still puffy and tender, but he isn't having to take the prescription pain pills anymore, just regular ibuprofen. He spent most of the preceding two days marathoning Veronica Mars and eating all the ice cream Puck bought him. Today, he’s making himself actually try to get caught up on a few things, like homework and buying some instant oatmeal cups from the tiny food selection in the student bookstore and going by the mail center to pick up the package that they’re holding for him. Finn doesn't remember having ordered anything, but getting a package from his mom or even Kurt isn't completely unheard of.
The package turns out to be a long tube, which he carries back to the dorm along with his oatmeal cups and a couple of 20oz bottles of pop. Once Finn is in the dorm, he pours water into an oatmeal cup and pops it in the microwave to cook while he opens the end of the tube. When he tilts the tube up to tump out its contents, a rolled-up tube of heavy paper slides out. The tube itself feels like nice-quality poster paper. Finn confirms this when he unrolls the tube to reveal a high-resolution photographic print of a two flamingos dressed in Victorian clothing. The flamingos have hands instead of wings. The hands are flamingo-colored.
“What the…” Finn starts to ask the room, but runs out of juice before making it through the whole question. His mouth really hurts, plus his oatmeal is done, and a Victorian-flamingos-with-hands poster seems like too huge a mystery to unravel at two in the afternoon when he hasn't even taken a real pain pill. He takes one, chasing it with the pop, then slowly and carefully eats his oatmeal with one of the disposable plastic spoons Puck hoards from various take-out places.
Finn works on homework until the hydrocodone kicks in, then he lies down to take a nap until Puck gets back from wherever he went. Finn wakes up to the sound of the door opening and someone—Puck, presumably—closing it again, louder than Finn thinks is precisely necessary.
“Hey,” Puck says cheerfully. “Oh, good, your poster came!”
Finn lifts his head from the pillow. “What poster?” Then he remembers. “Oh. That weird thing.”
“You don’t remember your love of flamingos?”
“What?” Finn asks.
“Amazon Prime got it here as fast as it could. I didn’t want to drive to Cincinnati for the zoo,” Puck says.
Finn squints at Puck, because he can’t tell if Puck is just messing with him or what. “I don’t understand what you’re saying.”
“You don’t remember that you really, really love flamingos? That was about fifty percent of what you talked about right after you had your teeth out.”
“I mean, flamingos are okay, I guess,” Finn says, sitting up and frowning at the unpleasantness of being vertical.
“No, dude, you really loved flamingos. Like I said, about half of what you were talking about,” Puck says, looking amused. “That’s how we ended up with strawberry ice cream, too. You needed pink.”
“I needed… what?” Finn says. “None of that makes any sense. I don’t think I even like strawberry ice cream.”
“I know,” Puck says. “But you really loved flamingos, and I wouldn’t take you to the zoo, so… poster!”
“So you ordered the poster?”
“You have your flamingos now, right?” Puck says. “What kind of, uh, best friend would I be otherwise? If it was that important to you…”
“You ordered me flamingos because you thought it was important to me?” Finn asks. “Aw. That’s kinda sweet. Weird, but sweet.”
Puck doesn’t say anything for a few seconds. “Do you remember anything that you said?”
Finn shakes his head carefully, since his face still hurts. “I remember being in the truck, I think.”
“You weren’t sure who I was at first, and then you sort of remembered.”
“I was still nice to you, right?”
“Yeah, that wasn’t really a problem,” Puck says. “You don’t remember any stories about rolls?”
“Rolls? Like dinner rolls?” Finn asks.
“Like the kind they used to give us at lunch in elementary school?” Puck asks, looking almost hopeful.
“Roll from lunch at elem— oh.” Finn turns a little red as he lies back down on his bed. “I was— was I talking about elementary school lunch rolls?”
Puck nods. “Ring any bells?”
Finn shrugs and turns his face away from Puck, sure he’s getting even redder. “Dunno.”
“Fourth grade, the year Azimio was in our class,” Puck says.
“Yeah, I dunno,” Finn says, intentionally playing up the post-oral-surgery mumble.
Puck walks over to the mini-fridge and opens it. “Hmm. Too bad.”
“Why? What did I say?” Finn asks. “Did I say something embarrassing?”
“I wasn’t embarrassed,” Puck says.
“Should I be embarrassed?”
“I don’t think so?” The mini-fridge closes. “You don’t remember?”
“I dunno. Maybe a little?” Finn says.
“Yeah?” Puck says, his voice a little quieter. “You were pretty confident the other day about what you were saying.”
“What exactly was I saying?” Finn asks. “Specific wording.”
“You told me a story about once in fourth grade when you dropped your roll, and I gave you mine,” Puck says slowly.
“Oh, man, I remembered that? I haven’t thought about that in a long time,” Finn says.
“Really?” Puck says, now sounding skeptical. “You haven’t thought about that in a long time?”
“No?” Finn answers, though he’s not sure how convincing he actually sounds.
“You remembered a lot of specifics about what we all said. And what it meant,” Puck says.
“Oh?” Finn asks, definitely-but-probably-not-actually nonchalantly.
“Mmmhmm,” Puck says as the mattress dips and he sits down near Finn’s feet. “It seemed pretty important to you.”
“Yeah?” Finn says, internally oh shit shit shit-ing. “It did?”
“Yeah. I hadn’t realized you’d remembered that so well.”
“I guess it was, you know. That thing that means it does something to your personality. Formative?”
“But you don’t remember what you said the other day?” Puck says persistently.
“I was on the anesthesia stuff!” Finn says. “If I said something weird, you can just ignore, and it’ll all be fine.”
“You want me to forget about it?” Puck says, sounding almost sad.
“You know what my mom always say, that just because you think something, you don’t have to say it out loud,” Finn says.
“Yeah, but you already did say it out loud, in this case.”
“Well, yeah, but I wasn’t supposed to! I just couldn’t make the brain-mouth filter thing work!”
“I didn’t say it was a bad thing to say.”
“Wait, you don’t?” Finn asks. “I thought that you did.”
“When did I say it was bad? I just wanted to know if you remembered.”
“I don’t know. You sounded, like, cagey or something! And you ordered me weird flamingos!”
“You really liked flamingos! I figured if you still liked flamingos two days later, then, you know…” Puck trails off.
“Okay!” Finn says, turning red all over again. “So maybe I really do like flamingos! Maybe I think they’re a really pretty color, okay?”
“Hey, I’m not judging you for liking flamingos!”
“What kind of grown man likes flamingos?” Finn asks.
“The kind who remembers fourth grade?”
“Well, obviously!” Finn says, a little shoutier than he actually intended.
“I didn’t say either of those was a bad thing!” Puck says.
“My mouth really hurts!” Finn says.
“Okay, that’s a bad thing, but temporary,” Puck says. “Are the other two temporary?”
“I just said I for real like flamingos!” Finn says. “And, yeah, I like strawberry ice cream, too, okay? So that’s two.”
“No, you don’t,” Puck says, lying down next to Finn. “Do you want the other thing to be true?”
“Dude. I wanted it to be true since fourth grade,” Finn admits.
“Your understanding of what it meant has probably changed since then,” Puck says. “Not just in a fourth grade way?”
“Yeah,” Finn says. “I never meant to say it out loud to you, though.”
“I didn’t want to make things weird.”
“But… if you wanted it to be true, and you never said anything, then how would it have been?”
“What if I did say something and you were like, ew, gross! And then you didn’t even want to be friends!” Finn counters.
“Have I ever done either of those things?”
“Not to me, because I never said anything!”
“Finn.” Puck exhales loudly, shaking his head a little. He reaches for Finn’s hand and wraps his fingers through Finn’s. “Have I ever done either of those things to you about anything?”
“But this isn’t the same as any other thing,” Finn says.
“But I bought you flamingos. And pink ice cream.”
“Yeah, I know, and that’s awesome,” Finn says. “I don’t want to make you feel bad about that other thing, okay?”
“But you want me to forget it?” Puck says, sounding confused.
Finn sighs. “I just don’t want to have to say it again and have you say no.”
“But what if I wasn’t going to say no?”
“No?” Finn asks. “But… I mean, you never did anything, so I figured you would.”
“I so did!” Puck says. “How many times did I ask you if you were coming out?”
“That was just you messing with me!”
“It’s not like either of us was in a position to say much, right?” Puck says.
“Yeah, I guess not,” Finn says. He squeezes Puck’s hand. “You know you’re holding my hand, right?”
“Your face is still swollen.”
“Because you’d… hold my face otherwise?” Finn asks.
“Shut up. I knew you were going to say that,” Puck says. “Yes. I know I’m holding your hand. It was a deliberate act.”
“So you’re holding my hand because…?”
“Because I want to.” Puck squeezes gently with his hand. “Because I don’t want to forget what you said.”
“Even if I said it at the same time as the flamingo stuff?” Finn asks.
“You said you meant it.”
“I meant the flamingo stuff, too.”
“Does that mean you want like… a flamingo for the yard for Valentine’s Day?” Puck asks. “The theoretical yard.”
“There’s gonna be a yard?” Finn asks.
“Do you want a yard?”
“I like a yard,” Finn says. “I like lots of stuff.”
“We could have a yard,” Puck says. “What other stuff do you like?”
“Flamingos. Ice cream.”
“Yeah, I knew that.” Puck turns his head to look at Finn. “Me?”
“Yeah,” Finn says. “You.”
“You can have me, too.”
Puck grins as he squeezes Finn’s hand again. “Yeah.”
“There’s a problem, though,” Finn says.
Finn nods. “Yeah. I can’t even kiss you right now.”
“Gives you something to look forward to,” Puck says jokingly, then props himself up enough to very gently peck Finn on the lips. Finn smiles as much as he can, his cheeks still being puffy.
“But I can keep the flamingo picture, right?” Finn asks.
“I’ll hang it up the next time you nap,” Puck promises.
“I was kind of having my next time I napped when you got here.”
“Do you want me to get up so you can finish?”
Finn shakes his head slightly, then closes his eyes. “Nah. You can stay so I can finish.”
Puck squeezes Finn’s hand again. “Okay. Sleep. The flamingos and I’ll still be here when you wake up.”
“Sounds good,” Finn says.
“But no more pink ice cream until at least tomorrow.”