when i said i wanted to be your dog
i wasn't coming on to you
i just wanted to lick your face
lick those raindrops from the rainy days
The spring formal is less than a week away and she has everything planned out to a tee. Her dress is a vision, her shoes: to die for. The only thing missing is a dashing gentleman to parade on her arm. As much as she wants him to be the one, she’s not naïve enough to expect something as grandiose and extravagant as him sweeping her off her feet. In fact, “dashing” and “gentleman” are the last two words she would ever use to describe the miscreant she’s currently entangled with. Still, she’s pretty sure what’s growing between them is more than broom closet booty calls and late afternoon trysts in the back of his truck, and that has to mean something.
She may spend most of her time focusing on herself and her career, but she knows a mess when she sees it, and Noah Puckerman was a mess before she came along. He was drowning (she was too, emotionally, but that’s another story) and though things began out of convenience and a dash of guilt, it didn’t take long for her to see that she was the only one who could save him. It isn’t her narcissism that makes her come to that conclusion either, it’s just a fact: he lost all his friends to Babygate – every last one – and she was quite possibly the only person other than his mom who knew how screwed up he really was on the inside. He may have wanted the world to think he was some badass punk, but really he was just a lost puppy, barking at the wind, kicked so many times by life he stopped feeling altogether. She was well aware of what a mess he was, showing up at her house bloody and reeking of booze, getting booted from the basketball team for coming to practice stoned out of his mind one too many times, and quitting Glee not too long after, but that didn’t stop her. He was a sorry mess of a boy, self-destructing, and no one cared, and she shouldn’t have either, but he had no one and she had a hard time believing that anyone really deserved going through life with no one.
They never talk about their feelings or what this is, but somewhere between him coming back and the New Directions taking Regionals, he becomes someone who slashes tires to defend her honor, who sneaks into her bedroom when her dads are asleep, who sits next to her on the short bus and slides his hand up her skirt when no one’s looking. And now, here she is, all Finn who? because somehow, this awful boy is the only person she’s ever known who can literally make every cell in her body blush with just an arch of his eyebrow.
They are an unlikely pair, yes, but she prefers it that way, and he’s taking her to the spring formal whether he likes it or not.
“Fuck that shit, man. School dances are whack.”
“Interesting assessment considering I vaguely recall seeing you at every single dance I’ve been to since middle school. And newsflash, mister: I’ve been to them all.”
He’s not in the mood for this and she knows it, but there are only two days left and if Rachel Berry’s anything, she’s a woman of action.
“Dude, what do you want me to do? Rent a fucking tux and do the Soulja Boy dance with you?”
“Is that too much to ask?”
He laughs bitterly and falls back on her bed. “What are we in, the third grade?”
He sits up quickly, his face dark. “No, just stop with the Noahs, okay? I’m not your boyfriend, Berry, I’m just a dude who likes the way your tits feel in my hands.”
With that, she kicks him out of her bedroom and out of her life.
The thing is, he knows he’s a giant asshat. He knows it and most of the time it’s what he likes best about himself. But sometimes? Sometimes it just makes him feel like shit.
He really doesn’t know what inspires him to be such a mammoth douche to the only person who was there for him when no one else was, but the idea of actually caring about a girl (oh god, a girl named Rachel Berry, at that) scares the fuck out of him. The way he sees it, it’s only a matter of time before he’s back at the top of the high school food chain, and while what he has with her is nice (nice is an understatement, actually; it’s more like fucking oxygen) he’s not entirely convinced it’s worth it. He tries to make his new mantra “fuck McKinley, fuck the world” but the fact of the matter is he sucks at being a loser. And can you blame him? Being hot shit is all he’s ever known.
Sometimes though, when he’s lying in bed with her and she’s actually talking like a normal person – usually about New York City and graduation and all these dreams she has for herself – he finds himself thinking popularity’s fucked up because this chick is pretty decent under all that crazy. That feeling never lasts long though because the second he’s not in her bedroom, and his mind isn’t clouded by her skin on his, reality hits him: Slushees in faces and MySpace messages that make her cry so hard he wishes Santana was a dude so he could beat the living shit out of her himself. See, the truth is, he doesn’t want to end up like Berry. He tells himself it’s impossible for the Puckerone to fall that low, but the fear is always there. And shit man, that’s not how he wants to go out.
Ordinarily, he’d just man up, hang the chick out to dry and forget about it, but with her, he can’t get himself to do it. So instead, he does shit like this; desperate to convince himself that this thing between them isn’t as big of a deal as he thinks it might be and to convince her that he’s just not worth the trouble. Usually she sees through his stupid games, but this time it doesn’t matter if she knows he didn’t actually mean it because the girl’s only human and there’s a limit to how much one person can take. And the worst fucking part of all? He knows she doesn’t deserve this. He’s a dick, yeah, but he’s not stupid. He’s well aware he’d probably be drowning in his own puke in an alley outside some shady-ass bar downtown if it wasn’t for her.
And maybe it’s that realization that inspires him to do something very, well, not Puck.
He busts through the doors of the gym forty-five minutes late, sporting a rented tux, shiny shoes and everything. He feels like he’s in one of those stupid fucking romantic comedies chicks love and almost hurls in his mouth. Its official: he’s a giant pussy and it’s all her fault.
(She’s not at the dance. When she peers out her bedroom window though and sees him with a bowtie and cummerbund, her ice melts. She sneaks him up, slips his jacket off his shoulders, and loosens the tie around his neck. She’s grinning at him like a Berry Victorious and he knows he has the goofiest expression plastered on his face but the weird thing is…He doesn’t care. She unbuttons his shirt and slides it off his shoulders, he settles his hands on her waist and they sway together to some sappy love song he’s pretty sure his mom has on vinyl. I know I’m a fuck up, he tells her in a low rumble, his chin resting against her temple. She stops and takes his face in her hands, the faintest trace of a smile on her lips, and she kisses him.)
Huddled under a mess of comforters, the endless drone of Regis and Kelly is busy keeping her company when the doorbell rings. She considers ignoring it, but when the person rings again – this time, more urgently – she pulls herself up. Her head feels like lead, but suddenly, she’s struck by this intense fear that maybe the talent agent she’s been haranguing for the past six months has finally got around to giving her a chance. Isn’t it a well known fact that opportunity comes when you least expect it?
So against her better judgment, she pulls herself up from the couch, runs her fingers haphazardly through her hair, and heads to the door. As she passes by the mirror in the hall she glances over at herself and confirms it: yes, she definitely looks like she was hit by a truck. But alas…The show must go on.
She grabs the doorknob and pauses, taking a deep breath before plastering a bright smile on her face.
“What the fuck, Berry?”
A scowl takes the place of her smile as she moves to shut the door in his face, but he’s too quick. He pushes back and she’s too weak to put up a fight.
“Noah,” she groans, her voice clearly congested. “Why aren’t you at school?”
“Don’t give me that shit, okay? Why haven’t you answered any of my fucking texts?”
“I’ve been texting you all morning, Berry, and seeing as you wouldn’t respond to a single fucking one, I was kinda convinced you were lying dead on the side of the road. So I repeat: why haven’t you answered any of my fucking texts?”
If she was in even a remotely competent state of mind, she would have found his little outburst to be endearing, but she’s not. She’s hopped up on cold meds and unbelievably cranky, and for the love of God, why does he always have to be so loud?
She’s incredulous, her hair slightly resembling a robin’s nest and her pajama bottoms completely askew, and he just stares back, waiting for an answer. (How she ever got involved with such a horrendously inept boy, she’ll never understand.)
“What does it look like?” She turns around and pads back to her makeshift bed on the couch and plops down. “Its 10:30 AM, I’m still in my pajamas, and I look like the bride of Frankenstein.”
“What, are you having your period or something?”
She buries her face in her pillow and groans. “I’m sick, okay? I’ve been running a fever since last night and I want nothing more than to recuperate in peace, and preferably not get you infected in the process. So if you could please go—”
“Dude, where’s the Ambiguously Gay Duo? Shouldn’t they be here taking care of you?”
She glares at him stonily. “My fathers are at a conference in Dayton. They won’t be back until late tonight.”
He’s never seen Rachel sick, but he can already tell she doesn’t handle it well. She looks so tiny, engulfed by a sea of blankets with her little red nose sniffling and her shoulders shivering, and for a second he contemplates getting the fuck out of there because he’s got a game Friday that he can’t afford to miss. But she’s looking up at him with those pitiful eyes, her face contorted in a grimace he didn’t think the girl was even capable of, and he knows right then where the rest of his day is going.
With his best dramatic sigh, he tosses his keys onto the coffee table and throws her a playful frown that’s probably more of a mischievous grin than anything else.
She rolls her eyes and rests her head back down on the pillow.
“Don’t give me that look, Puckerman.” She pulls her blanket around her shoulders and turns away from him. “There’s absolutely zero chance of you getting lucky today so you better go back to school right this instant.”
“Fuck school.” He crosses the living room and takes a seat next her before reaching for the remote and fiddling around until he finds a Fresh Prince re-run and leaves it.
“Don’t you dare say—” she sneezes and he looks over at her, his frown genuine this time. When she starts talking again, her voice is weak. “You’ve been doing so well lately, and the second you fall back into truancy—”
“Listen, have you even had breakfast yet?” She groans again, buries her face deeper in her pillow, and he places a comforting hand on her head.
“Just mentioning food makes me want to vomit.” She looks up at him pathetically and he laughs a little because, honest to god, he’s not mocking her, it’s just that she looks exactly like a sad little kitten.
“Let’s get you some food, B.”
After a moment, she drags herself up and suddenly realizes that there’s a boy sitting in her living room, asking her if she’s had breakfast. She takes his face in her hands, and his first thought is, bitch better not try to kiss me, swine flu’s totally not worth it, but then she slides them down to his chest and his hands circle her wrists without him even realizing it. She’s staring at him like they’re having some really serious, relationship-defining moment and all he’s thinking is he’d rather be here than go back to McKinley without someone to poke with his pencil and whisper dirty things to when Mr. Tims isn’t paying attention.
“You want me to eat.”
Tears are welling up in her eyes and she has that dazed, euphoric expression that only Funny Girl can bring out of her (don’t ask how he knew this). The girl is clearly certifiably insane, but these days he finds it more entertaining than anything else, so he indulges her and reaches over to push some hair out of her face before hooking his finger around her chin and tilting it up to him.
“Berry, you’re trippin’.”
Before she realizes what’s happening, he’s in the kitchen rummaging through cabinets and slamming drawers. He’s rattling on and on about how his mom is a nurse and how he’s pretty sure he read somewhere (“If you expect me to believe you’ve ever read anything, you’re absolutely delusional.”) about the magical healing powers of kitchen table sex. She rolls her eyes and plops back down, very congested but very content.
As they watch The Price is Right together, she curls herself into a little ball and scoots next to him. He puts his arm around her tiny frame, pulls her close, and she settles comfortably on his chest. He tries not to think about the way her fingers, clutched around a nasty used Kleenex, are unconsciously creeping across his torso (maybe it’s knowing her dads aren’t around that makes her snotty nose and kiddie pajamas suddenly the sexiest thing ever) and instead, he focuses on slinging insults at contestants and rubbing her back periodically.
When the afternoon rolls around, he finds a marathon of Man vs. Wild on Discovery (“Rach, are you watching this shit? Dude’s about to drink his own piss!”) and gets so into it he doesn’t realize she’s fallen asleep on his lap, her hand entwined with his under the blanket. It’s almost three and he should really be leaving because he was supposed to lift before batting practice, but her chest is rising and falling against his thigh and every now and then she turns and mutters things in her sleep (he swears he hears his name at some point), so he decides: fuck baseball.
It’s not like anyone expects him to show up to practice anyway.
A week before her birthday, Rachel’s venting at the dinner table about the latest way Mr. Schuester is destroying her life when her dad throws her for a loop and asks how Puck is doing.
“Noah? Oh, he’s fine. Why do you ask?” Suspicious doesn’t even begin to describe how she feels about her fathers’ sudden interest in her love life. Up until three weeks ago, they hated everything Noah Puckerman chose to be, but at some point it was like someone flicked a switch and they decided to give him a second chance. Naturally, she assumed it was because they devised a new, ingenious way of driving a wedge between her and the boy who has increasingly co-starred in her daydreams of brunches overlooking the Brooklyn Bridge and chic galleries in Chelsea. She wouldn’t put anything past her fathers; she didn’t get her drive from just anywhere. The second those two put their heads together they could make anything happen, and she was certain they were determined to put an end to the budding romance between their precious daughter and such an inconsiderate hooligan.
(What she didn’t know was that her fathers came home early that day he skipped school to keep her company. While their first instinct was outrage, their poor daughter looked awful, and it didn’t matter that she was passed out on her boyfriend’s lap in their living room because she was surrounded by a sea of Kleenex and two bowls of cold, half-eaten soup.
“Oh hey, Mr. B, what’s crackin’?”
“How’s she doing?”
“She’s been out since 4:30. Those cold meds you left her must really be working their magic.”
“Did she eat anything? I told her she needed to eat something but she wouldn’t listen.”
“Yeah, she wouldn’t listen to me either, but don’t worry I forced her to. She woke up in the afternoon sweating like crazy but freezing so I called my mom and she said I had to keep her hydrated. I tried, but girl’s a pain when she’s sick.”
“You’re tellin’ me.”
They had him carry her up to her bedroom and before he left they shook his hand and thanked him: a first.)
“So we were thinking: why don’t you invite Noah to come along for your birthday dinner and the show? It’s the least we could do for our baby girl’s Sweet Sixteen.”
Months ago, they decided on dinner at the best French restaurant in Columbus and a Broadway Across America performance of Chicago. She knows her birthday plans are the complete antithesis of anything Noah would ever agree to, but as the date has drawn nearer, she can’t help but find herself thinking that it would be nice to have him tag along as well…
“Are you sure, Daddy?”
“We already bought him a ticket, darling.”
“Okay, you know what? I don’t care how many blowjobs you give me, there is no chance in hell you are getting me to do this.”
“Noah! It’s my Sweet Sixteen, and since when do I ever ask you for anything?”
“Just yesterday you made me be the fucking Neil Diamond to your Barbara Streisand. That shit hurt, B. That shit really hurt.”
“Well no one forced you to do anything!”
“You said you’d never let me touch your boobs again. And don’t say you weren’t serious because I saw that fucking look in your eye and you were not bullshitting.”
“Noah, just hear me out—” He shoves a hand in her face then takes her by the shoulders and forces her into his chair. He sits on the edge of his bed across from her and rests his elbows on his knees.
“Okay fine, let’s just review what exactly you’re asking me to do here.”
“You want me to,” he puts his hand out and starts counting on his fingers, “one: go to dinner with you and your two gay dads who I’m pretty sure know that you’re not a virgin and that I’m the one who popped your cherry. Two: ride in a car with them for two fucking hours to go this dinner that’s, three: at a French restaurant. As if that wasn’t enough…Four: go to a fucking Broadway show with you and your two gay dads. Then, to top it all off, five: you want me to wear a tie while I’m doing all this gay-ass shit.” He sits back and laughs. “I love you, babe, but not that much.”
“Seriously, Rach, I’m suffocating in the estrogen. You can’t actually expect me to do this.”
She sighs and thinks for a moment before crossing over to him. She rests her arm across the back of his shoulders and settles down on his lap. His hand immediately finds her bare knee and drifts lazily up her thigh.
“I know this is a lot to ask, okay?” All of a sudden, her voice is soft and warm and he thinks, fuck, I never should have told her I thought it was sexy when she got all girly. She curls her arm around his neck, grazing his cheek with the back of her hand, just barely. Bracing himself, his hand stills on her thigh and he takes a deep breath, determined to not let her get the best of him. Resisting the urge to pussy out and ignore her growing nearness altogether, he turns his face up and looks her straight in the eye.
She’s smiling, but not the sultry, sexpot smile he expects. No, it’s a melancholy smile that reminds him of their early days, when it was him and her sneaking around pretending like this thing between them was nothing, when in reality, it was everything.
“I know, I know, I know, this is the last thing you would ever want to do, but six months ago, my dads asked me if I wanted a party and I said no because who would ever come to Rachel Berry’s Sweet Sixteen?” She looks down and laughs sadly. “But now…Now there is someone.” She puts her free hand on his chin and keeps it there.
He’s quiet for a long moment before smile creeps on his lips.
“Man, Berry, you've legit got me pussy whipped.”
“It’s not everyday such a beautiful girl swings by these parts.”
Puck knows that tone; it’s what kept his pool cleaning business so, shall we say, fruitful back in the day. Yeah, Puck definitely knows that tone, and he doesn’t like the fucking sound of it. He peers up from the candy aisle (Twix or Three Musketeers? Harder decision than you might expect) and glances toward the back of the store where Rachel is perusing a refrigerator full of VitaminWater.
“Oh that’s so kind of you to say…” She looks down the boy’s name tag, then back up at him, her smile bright, “Gerry with a G. Y’ know, I actually have an uncle named Gerry. Sweet guy, but horribly misogynistic, unfortunately.”
“Ya don’t say.” Gerry’s probably their age, has shaggy, dirty blond hair that hangs in his face and a flannel shirt that screams dreamboat, and Puck’s not an idiot, he knows the kid’s basically a teenage girl’s wet dream. And it’s not that he feels threatened or anything, but there’s just something about the way he’s leaning against that glass door and looking at Rachel with that smug hundred fucking watt smile that leaves a bad taste in his mouth. (Probably because he practically invented that move.)
“So where you from, sweetheart?”
“Funny you should ask—” When he laughs at something Rachel says and casually puts his hand on her forearm, Puck turns his back to the cashier, shoves the candy he’s holding in his pants, and makes his way to the back of the store.
“Yo, easy there, James Van Der Beek.” She barely registers what’s happening when Puck’s arm slides around her waist and he pulls her close. He puffs his chest up and flexes the guns of Puckerone. “Pretty sure you’re not her type, dude.”
Suddenly, Gerry’s standing straight and getting up in Puck’s face, and much to her surprise, Rachel finds herself strangely enjoying the outward display teenage testosterone playing out before of her. (This was totally going in her journal.)
“Yeah? Why don’t we let the girl decide.”
“Oh, no need, I choose him.” Rachel slides her arm around Puck’s back and he grins like the douchebag he is. Gerry just scoffs. “Come on, Ger, can you blame me? Look at his eyes! I could practically swim in them!”
“Well played, babe. And thanks.”
As Gerry stalks away, Puck calls out after him. “Seriously, dude, maybe once you hit puberty you won’t have to hit on chicks in a gas station mini-mart to get some ass! Just sayin’!”
When they get back in the car, their tank is full, Rachel is prattling on about how thrilling it is to have two boys vying for her affection (“I know I’m setting women’s liberation back like fifty years for saying so, but I can’t help it!”) and Puck’s checking out the map on his dash. Forty-five more minutes until they hit Chicago city limits and he’s that much closer to getting her stupid American Idol audition over with.
Don’t take things the wrong way, just because he laughs every now and then and occasionally sings along to songs on the radio with her (Ohhhhhhhh we’re half way theeeeeere, whoa-oh! Livin’ on a praaaayer!) doesn’t mean he’s doing this by choice. Up until two days ago, he had every intention of having nothing to do with this. He thought it was cool and all that she wanted to try out and that her dads were willing to take her, but he’d rather punch himself in the balls than spend four hours in a car with her practicing that shit awful Elton John song Ewan McGregor sings in Moulin Rouge (again: don’t ask how he knows these things).
He had everything worked out perfectly. He took on an extra shift at Joey’s Pizza because lying was never an option with her (he didn’t know how, but she always knew) and he told Joey to give her some ridiculous shit about how June 23rd was this crazy day in Lima where all the camps in the area had pizza parties for their kids (she could never say no to children) and that there was no way he could possibly get out of work. Puck gave her this whole sob story in his bedroom as he peeled her tank top off and tossed it away, and as he trailed kisses down her abdomen, he told her wished he could be there to watch his baby slap that dick Cowell back to pansy-ass England. Her face was flushed and she was out of breath, No, no, I understand, I understand. (She may have been immune to his lies, but the sex card was always his ace in the hole. So to speak.)
That was all before Mr. B got sick and Mrs. B (one of them had to be the chick, right?) got called away on some emergency business trip in Cleveland. Suddenly, she was standing at his doorstep in tears on a day that his mom just happened to be home. His mom, who thought Rachel was God’s gift to her lost son, listened to the girl’s whole story as she sobbed into his T-shirt, and of course the second his mom tells him to do shit he really has choice but to do it.
So here he is, taking his girlfriend to Chicago.
The audition? Is a fucking disaster. First of all, the second they get there, she spends the first three hours harassing him for not bringing his guitar or preparing a song of his own. He tells her eighty fucking times that he has absolutely no plan to try out for this hot mess of a show, but she never listens.
“You think you’re so rock and roll, don’t you?” She pauses for a second then, starts slapping his arm excitedly and he looks at her like bitch, that actually hurts. “Ooh ooh, Noah! Noah! You could be Chris Daughtry! Oh my god, you could be Chris Daughtry!”
He rolls his eyes into the back of his head and acts like he’s dead.
“Just listen, okay? I have a good feeling about this! We could be the next Ryan Adams and Mandy Moore!” How does she fucking know who Ryan Adams is? “As long as we don’t let Hollywood Week drive us apart…”
She stares at him for a long moment then and he looks back at her, feigning innocence.
“You know what, actually…Forget I said anything.” (It’s hard enough to get him to keep it in his pants in Lima, plop this boy in Hollywood and she’s pretty sure she’ll be kissing his butt goodbye before the end of the first day.)
After waiting for six hours with a bunch of fucking lunatics that make him want to gouge his ears out with a dull fork, she finally gets her chance. She’s bubbly and delightful as she banters with Seacrest, and Puck kisses her long and hard before she goes in (“Knock ‘em dead, babe,” he whispers in her ear and she grins).
While he’s waiting, he’s surprised by how nervous he gets. He doesn’t know why though because if there’s one thing he’s sure of, it’s that Rachel Berry was born to be a star. But, shit, she’s been in there for so long…Much longer than anyone else they saw go in…
When he starts hearing shouting behind the double doors she left through, he knows something’s not right, and his feeling is more than confirmed when he watches his tiny girlfriend get escorted out by two massive bouncers. They plop her down in front of him, and she straightens her clothes before pulling out a yellow sheet of paper from behind her back in a fury.
“Oh my god…Fuck, Berry, you did it!” He’s about to pick her up and swing her around, but before he can do anything, she tears the sheet up.
“Wha—WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?”
“They called me the next Idina Menzel, Noah.”
“What the—You love that chick.” He looks around frantically, but all he sees are the two bouncers, waiting to escort them out. “Can someone get us some fucking scotch tape?!”
“I am an independent spirit with creativity that refuses to be molded by what the entertainment industry thinks will sell, and certainly not by the likes of some British hack who thinks he’s God’s gift to humanity! I am not the next Idina Menzel, Noah, I am the first Rachel Berry.”
She spews her angry bullshit for almost an hour after they leave, but by the time they get to the motel her dads arranged for them to stay at (Puck laughs when he sees two beds) the reality of her outburst suddenly hits her and she can’t stop crying.
“Noah, I had it in my hands.” She’s sprawled out over the bed, her face planted firmly in the pillows.
“...That's what she said."
Rachel looks up like she's going to kill him, but instead, just bursts into tears again.
"I know," he says with a sigh, "and then you went apeshit.”
“And then I went apeshit.”
He sits on the end of the bed and rests his hand on her ankle. He tries not to be one of those punk-ass boyfriends who always try to cheer their girlfriends up when they’re feeling shitty, but the girl never cries (ever) so on the rare occasions when she does he just…
“Listen, Rachel,” he’s serious, so she lifts her face from the pillow and looks down towards him. “If you really think you need this shitfest of a show to make all those stupid dreams you never shut up about come true, you’re crazy.”
She sniffles and frowns down at him, and he just rolls his eyes and slides up on the bed next to her. He rests a hand on her hip and wipes her tears.
“Man up, Berry,” he whispers with a grin, and she laughs softly. “LA’s for losers, everyone knows New York’s where it’s at. “
They’re lying in the hammock in her backyard, watching the sun melt the sky into inky purples and blues. Her head rests lightly on his chest and her legs are tangled with his as she traces lazy patterns against his T-shirt. They have more of these moments than she’d expect; moments so serene and perfect that she wishes she could tattoo them to her mind and take comfort in them when things…Aren’t so serene and perfect.
He sighs and she shifts against him, resting her chin on his collarbone. His palm is pressed firmly against her back, moving lower still, and she watches him watch the sky.
“It’s rude to stare.” His words are directed at her, but his gaze doesn’t shift, and neither does hers.
“What are you thinking about?” He hates playing this game and she knows it. He used to snap back at her and say things like Santana Lopez’s perfect tits, knowing full well she was self-conscious of her own, but his tricks don’t work on her anymore, so he doesn’t bother. It didn’t take long for her to get in the habit of ignoring his asshole comments altogether, so he usually keeps his mouth shut, hoping his unresponsiveness will drive her crazy. His silence never deters her though, and though he generally stands his ground in moments like this, something about this time is different. Maybe it’s the late summer humidity still hanging in the air, maybe it’s the way he knows the warmth of his body against hers is making her eyelids heavy. Or maybe it’s the comfort he secretly finds in her immunity to his bullshit (she never runs, never argues, just fights fire with fire).
Her voice is quiet, gentle. “You’re thinking about your father, aren’t you?” His jaw clenches almost instinctively (father? what father? he has no father) and she smoothes the tension with her warm fingertips.
He glances down at her and he wants to say something awful, he really does, but the second his gaze meet hers, her cool calm dampens his fiery rebellion. Suddenly, his eyes are soft. Tired.
He looks away and feels her toes brush against his shins as she hooks a leg across his and rests her chin on his shoulder. The faint murmur of buzzing insects and laughing children fills the silence between them before he looks back down at her.
She doesn’t press him further (this is the one thing she lets him keep to himself) and instead tilts her head up to place a warm, open-mouthed kiss under his jaw. She shifts up further still and plants another on the corner of his mouth before burrowing her face in the crook of his neck.
As his eyes return to the sky above, he pulls her closer to him.
So it turns out pre-gaming Chang’s New Year’s Eve party with some kids from East Lima was the worst idea he’s ever had, and he totally should have known better, but sometimes she’s just so fucking sure of herself he forgets. They’re closing in on eight months of actually having a label for what they are (“I just want to hear you say it. That’s all I ask!” “I don’t understand how fucking you on a regular basis isn’t enough.” “Noah Puckerman, I swear if you don’t just say it—” “You’re my girl, okay? Shit.”) and despite him doing everything in his power to get her boozed up as often as possible, she still can’t hold her liquor to save her life. He generally doesn’t mind because it usually just means she’s all hands and things almost always end with sex, but tonight? She’s puking.
No, like, seriously retching.
“Oh God, Noah, I’m so sorry,”
“Shit happens, babe. Trust me, it’s not a big deal.”
They’re standing in Chang’s backyard, his jacket slung around her shoulders, his hand firmly planted on the base of her back. She’s holding her hair out of her face and leaning against the brick of the house as she gives one last heave. He rubs her back soothingly.
“If this shit’s anyone’s fault, it’s probably mine anyway. I shoulda put a plug on you at Dave’s.”
“I guess my body’s just not…Quite…Accustomed—” Another heave. He makes a face at this one; he’s pretty sure he can see bits of the burgers they had for dinner in there.
“Baby, lets just get you home, okay? New Year’s Eve’s always a let down anyway.”
“No! No, no, no, no.” She grasps for his arm, and he steadies her. “I know how much you wanted to go out and this is the first New Year’s Eve I’ve ever spent out of my pajamas—we can’t just waste it.” Her speech is slurring and her voice is weak, and though she’s pretty sure she’s done puking, everything is still kind of spinning.
“Yeah I did, but whatever, dude. Your face is still green and I’m not totally convinced you won’t blow chunks in my face right now.”
She gives him her best stony glare, and he just raises his eyebrows at her before motioning for her to wipe her face.
“You’ve got some…”
“Come on, let’s just go to my truck, no one will even notice we bounced.”
“No, wait, let me at least get myself cleaned up first.” She tries to head back to the house, but stumbles over her feet, and he catches her.
“Whoa there, you need some help?”
When they finally say their goodbyes and get in his truck she’s still very drunk, but at least she doesn’t smell like puke or have chunks on her coat.
He reaches into the glove compartment and pulls out a bottle of Listerine. “You better swish and sober up, Mama Puckerman thinks you’re a good influence and I’d like to keep it that way.”
She takes the bottle from him as she leans across the armrest and into his side.
“Mmm, you’re warm.” She leans her face into his sweater and takes a whiff. “And you smell like boy.”
“Man, babe. I smell like man.” He lifts his arm and pats her back. “Thanks.”
She giggles and nuzzles her face against him as he puts his key in the ignition. The engine makes a loud clunk before roaring to life, and her head perks up.
“Don’t worry, its fine.”
It isn’t fine.
They end up ringing in the New Year freezing their asses off on the side of the road, him under the hood, muttering about why it was such a fucking mistake to be a “good boyfriend.” He should have just stuck with the original plan: get her trashed, make out at midnight, then shack up in Chang’s guest room and start the New Year off with a fresh month of grounding. At least then he wouldn’t be standing on the side of the road trying to fix this fucking hunk of metal when everyone in the stupid fucking town was partying—
“Hey,” he looks out from behind the hood, and she’s standing there, clutching his Listerine bottle in her hands, her eyes twinkling and her smile brighter than it should be for a girl who spent the last thirty minutes puking. “It’s 2011.”
Snow is lightly falling as she closes the gap between them. She places the Listerine gingerly on the ground, and miraculously, the second she rests her hands on his hips, he forgets why he was so pissed. He takes her face in his grease-smeared hands and brings her lips to his.
“Happy New Year, baby.”