WIN SOME, LOSE SOME
If the first week of July moves at warp speed, the second week feels like slow motion. Rachel falls quickly back into her habit of stopping by the garage every lunch break, big poofy pink skirt and all, but instead of meatless lunches she comes with trays of chocolate chip cookies, double fudge brownies and blondies. Her baked goods quickly put her in Vinnie’s good graces (well that and the fact that she asks after his daughter every time she sees him) so it never matters when Puck stumbles back a half hour late, his shirt inside out and hair a mess.
They start off spending their midday breaks in the park down the street, but by the third day she’s got a nasty case of roaming hands so they end up in his truck, his breath smelling like chocolate chip cookies as they make out in the back seat. Between kisses and peanut M&Ms, he complains about Vinnie’s fucktard new assistant and she bitches about her job. It’s one of those afternoons she’s lying on him, her hands laced together on his chest, her chin resting atop; she runs a her index finger along his jaw and he slides his hand up her bare thigh, bringing it to a stop at her hip.
“The children are awful.” She says, frowning.
He pinches her side lightly and peers down at her, mimicking her frown.
“You seriously need to quit that shit.”
“And do what exactly?”
His thumb traces lazy circles against her hip.
“Dump the brats and be our manager. Full time.”
He doesn't think she'll actually do what he says – when does she ever? – but the next day, she prances into band practice with an announcement.
“Attention, attention, I have fantastic news. Wolf Hunter now has a full-time manager.”
“I swear to God—” Bleek mutters, turning to Ethan, “if she says who I think she’s gonna say, bro…” Ethan shushes him and Rachel’s smile grows even wider.
“Why yes I am, Nathaniel. Yours truly has officially turned in her letter of resignation at Starlight Fun Zone on Eighth and Cedar and will now be dedicating all her energies to helping this merry band of misfits achieve the fame and fortune you so rightfully deserve.”
Bleeker groans. “How many times do I have to tell you? We don’t want you here, Yoko.” He throws his bass down and raises his arms in frustration. “Fuck this shit, man. You know what I said about chicks.” When he storms out of the room, Ethan rolls his eyes and chases after him.
“Listen, I think it’s a great idea,” Ethan says, walking backwards. “You and Bambino can tag-team the books.”
“Oh, good thought!” She turns to Bam-Bam. “Just to warn you, I am actually quite skilled at handling finances. If you could just give me a sense of what you guys have stashed away—”
Bam stands up and nods enthusiastically, “oh yeah, of course.” He walks to the kitchen, opens the fridge and pulls out a giant plastic container with a handful of change in it, the word BEERFUND written in sloppy permanent marker on the label.
“Here you go, boss!”
That night, Puck says they should celebrate, and he really does plan to pull a cruel joke on her and take her back to Starlight, but for reasons completely beyond his comprehension, they end up in her bedroom instead. He’s got her pinned under him over her comforters and lately, every time they end up like this, they’re both wearing progressively less clothes. He thinks maybe tonight will be the night, but as he stares down at her flushed face, her eyes wide and nervous, he brushes the hair out of her eyes and whispers, “Hey, you okay?”
“I’m fine, really,” she says, her hand on her forehead. “Honestly.”
He takes her word for it, because he knows too many questions will just spoil what they’ve got going right now. And what they’ve got going is pretty fucking good. When he gets her breath to hitch that way with a jerk of his wrist, he can’t help but thinking that shit is more than fine.
The next day, by the time it’s one o’clock, she still hasn’t come to the garage and Puck’s mind starts to drift back to the night before. He knows this little arrangement they have is just an excuse to mess around and have some fun this summer, but that look on her face…Something about it sticks with him. Taking girls’ virginity is nothing new, but when it comes to Rachel, he can’t help but feel a pang in the pit of his stomach. He doesn’t really know what guilt feels like, but he’s pretty sure that’s what it is, and he doesn’t like it. They both know exactly what they have and why they’re doing it – they’ve always been on the same page about that – but something about last night makes him unsure.
All he knows is the second feelings get involved is the second the shit hits the fan. He’s not worried about himself (although this strange guilt thing kind of fucking sucks) but he knows what kind of a chick Berry is, and weirdly enough, he doesn’t want to hurt her.
When she saunters through the door a half hour later with a plate of warm brownies, the guys cheer and he braces himself. As they make their way out, he confronts her.
“Listen, B. I know it’s hard not to fall for me and shit, but this thing we've got...I don't wanna keep going on with it if you think something's actually gonna happen between us."
The second the words come out, he knows something got lost in translation between his brain and mouth because she’s staring at him with such disgust he could almost mistake her for Quinn.
“Wait, no—” he fumbles for the words, not quite sure how to say what he means without seeming like a giant dick. “I didn’t mean it like that, I just meant—” He looks back up at her but she still looks angry as fuck, so he runs a hand through his hair and stares at his feet. “I don’t wanna be the douche that popped your cherry, you know?”
Even though he knows she knows he’s lying (about not wanting to pop her cherry; he was dead serious about not wanting to be a douche), he half-expects this to turn into some Lifetime movie, cry on my shoulder drama. When her laughter echoes through the quiet sidewalk, he whips his head towards her with a scowl.
“Noah, don’t doubt it for a second…I’m an intelligent woman, fully cognizant of the consequences of our little arrangement. And honestly, I don’t intend to have you rob me of my virginity.” She laughs again and as her smile fades, she bites her lip and looks down. “I only plan to fully…give myself…to a boy that I actually love and who loves me back.” Her voice is quiet and distant and he can tell she’s thinking of someone, he just doesn’t know who. When she looks back up at him, she’s laughing again, her eyes soft. “And while what we have here is quite enjoyable, I don’t forsee us taking that step any time soon.”
She fully expects him to end what they have right there and then (no shoes, no sex, no service) but he just shrugs his shoulders. “Okay, cool. You’re the boss, B.”
After Bleeker’s unexpected outburst the week before, Ethan decides to institute a new band policy: one day a week would be declared Mandatory Band Bonding Day. He decides on a DVD night and Puck thinks it’s a shit idea (anything that takes him away from sneaking into Berry’s bedroom is clearly not worth the time and energy), Bam-Bam thinks it’s brilliant (anything to strengthen their eternal bond is always worth the time and energy), and Bleek’s pretty whatever about it (as long as Rachel doesn’t come). That Friday is their first official night, and naturally Puck doesn’t give a fuck what Bleeker says and decides to bring Berry along anyway.
Rachel smiles merrily at Bleek whose jaw drops as she waltzes into the room and takes a seat on the couch next to Bam-Bam, immediately launching into a heated conversation about Baz Luhrmann’s current masterpiece in production. When Puck notices Ethan and Bleek bickering in the corner, he dives on the couch and squeezes himself between Bam and Berry.
“Listen dudes, we seriously gotta get Bleek laid,” he grumbles, slinging an arm over Rachel’s shoulders.
She turns to Bam-Bam and shares a knowing glance. “Uh huh, okay.” She says dismissively, quickly changing the subject. “You know, I understand his reason for concern, but really it’s completely unnecessary.”
“Rachel, it’s not that he doesn’t like you—” Bam says sweetly, leaning his neck back on the couch to look over at her. “It’s just that—”
“–He doesn’t like you. At all.” Puck butts in, before giving her knee a comforting pat. “Good thing I like you, babe.”
Bam-Bam rolls his eyes and sighs. “Come on, this is ridiculous.” He pulls Puck up by the arm who drags Rachel up after him, and the three of them head over to Ethan and Bleek in the kitchen. “You guys, these fools just volunteered to get us the movies and snacks. You up for a quick round of Modern Warfare before they get back?”
Puck and Rachel both know that they’ve been sent away to give Bam and Ethan a chance to intervene with Bleek and on the car ride to Blockbuster, Puck’s straight with her.
“I’m not kidding, we just gotta bet Bleek laid. Dude’s wound so fucking tight.”
“I really don’t think that’s what he wants…”
“Of course it is. Who doesn’t want some skanky ho all up in his business? Nobody, that’s who.”
She rolls her eyes as they pull into a spot and he cuts the engine.
“Listen, I don’t know who this Yoko Ono chick is, but from the sound of it, when she broke up with him it must’ve been really fucking bad. He won’t shut up about her.”
Rachel stares at him, truly awed by his stupidity. When he stares back waiting for her reply, she shakes her head and pretends like he didn’t just say what she thought he said.
The video store is surprisingly empty for a Friday night, so as the two of them peruse the aisles, he quickly stops paying attention to their task at hand and starts taking more interest in her miniskirt. What starts as an obnoxious game of grabby hands quickly devolves into him pulling her hips towards his and burying his face in her hair, pressing his lips against the warm base of her neck. She laughs and pushes his head away, but no matter how many times she says, “No, boy! Sit!” he doesn’t stop.
In the middle of the action section, she gives in to his not-quite-charm. Giggling, she turns around and pokes at him, with equal, if not more, obnoxious fervor than he did to her.
“Hardy har har,” he mutters sarcastically, grabbing her wrists with a grin. As he catches her, she closes the gap between them and he lets go, his hands opting instead for her waist. He looks down at her, one eyebrow arched, his face contorted in his trademark Puckerman smarmy grin. She reaches up and with a wicked smile, traces his eyebrow with her index finger, then pushes it down. He actually laughs (she rarely gets him to do anything other than complain endlessly or groan her name, so moments like these are cherished) and she laughs too before wrapping her arms around his neck and standing on her tiptoes. Her shirt rides up and quickly his hands work their way under the back of it as she kisses him.
Suddenly, he pulls back. “—Oh wait, we should totally get Showgirls!”
She pulls away and punches him in the arm. He laughs again, rubbing the spot where her tiny fist connected. As she zips ahead and out of the aisle, he turns around and scans it quickly. When his eyes settle on 2012, he grabs it and catches up with her.
“Yo Berry, how about this?” He hands her the DVD case and she scans it for a second before laughing heartily.
“Only if you promise to watch Funny Girl with me tomorrow.” He groans but doesn’t say anything in protest: an unspoken victory for her.
As they head towards the musical section, he’s walking close behind her, mumbling dirty jokes in her ear, his hands everywhere. They’re not really paying attention as they round the corner, but when their eyes focus on two familiar faces holding Nine, they freeze. It takes a couple seconds for Rachel’s mind to finally register it: yes, that’s Kurt and Mercedes standing within feet of them, and yes, Puck is currently wrapped around her.
“GOD, BERRY, I WILL NOT HAVE SEX WITH YOU.” She has absolutely no idea what’s going on when he shoves her aside and charges out the aisle and out of the store.
She turns back to her two fellow Glee Club members, flabbergasted. Mercedes is trying hard not to burst into laughter and Kurt is staring at her, his jaw agape, clearly shocked and vaguely disturbed. “Are you two…?” He makes indecipherable gestures with his hands and though Rachel’s never been one to let her nerves get the best of her, her palms start to sweat and her heart races.
“What? No.” When she starts laughing crazily, her friends’ expressions clearly change from surprise to skepticism. They turn to each other and share a pointed look. She figures diversion might be a wise way to approach this God awful situation, but knowing the people standing before her, she’s sure it won’t work. Nevertheless, she tries it anyway. “So, how has your summer been?”
“Clearly not as good as the one you’re having.” Rachel fully intends to roll her eyes and in grand dramatic fashion, give Mercedes a piece of her mind, but suddenly her brain is blank and she swears the heat rising on her face is from the intense blush washing over her cheeks. So instead, she ducks her head, snatches Funny Girl from the rack and scurries away.
When she comes out of the store, Puck grabs her by the shoulders.
“Did they buy it?!”
She grinds her teeth and stares at him in shocked disapproval. “Oh my God, you really are mentally challenged, aren’t you?”
She looks over her shoulder and Kurt and Mercedes are peering out of video store’s glass doors, clearly amused and clearly ready to spread the word like wildfire. Rachel groans, turns back to Puck, and yanks him by the arm towards his truck.
When they get back to the guys’ apartment, things appear to have settled down (mostly because Puck’s pretty sure Bam-Bam and Ethan got a couple of beers in Bleek) so Puck and Rachel plop down onto the couch, her with the movies and him with an assorted armful of Sour Patch Kids, Snowcaps, and Bite Size Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.
“Dude, no Twizzlers?” Bam-Bam laments as he sifts through the pile of candy Puck dumps on the coffee table. “That’s just cold.”
As the five of them settle down to watch 2012, Rachel nestles herself comfortably on Puck’s lap. It's only a half hour into it before Bam-Bam's waxing academic about the real functions of the Mayan calendar and Ethan's making Bleeker swear they'd make it through the end of the world together. For their part, Rachel is laughing derisively at the acting and Bleeker keeps shouting, "Whatever, Lloyd Dobler!"
It's enough to make Puck want to put his own head through the fucking wall.
When they find out that their next gig isn’t at some bar they have to sneak Puck in, the three oldest Wolf Hunters breathe a sigh of relief while Puck mournfully fiddles with the edges of Juan Puckerone Hernandez’s driver’s license. It’s not even the fifty bucks he dropped on it that he regrets, it’s just that the thing’s a legit masterpiece and it deserves to be used. The rest of them disagree.
When Rachel found out the three of them are “scholars” at Ohio State during the year, she had hmmmm’d in that excited, creepy way of hers and disappeared for the rest of that practice, which inevitably devolved into Bam-Bam trying to get Puck to eat alfalfa sprouts and Ethan talking Bleek out of changing the locks on her. She came back the next practice with a grin that split her face in half. When she announced they’d be playing at some frat house on campus, the band exploded in an excited buzz. Ethan leapt up over the couch, babbling on about, "finally going home," and Bam-Bam clapped Puck hard on the shoulder, who after hearing the words frat house, breathed, “Animal House,” before knocking Rachel over in a bear hug.
The night of the show, they agree to meet up at the school gates two hours before they’re set to go on stage. Puck doesn’t really give a second thought to how the rest of his people are getting up there, just trusts that they’ll magically turn up (whatever, if they don’t he’s ready to go fucking solo on these college blowhards, one-man band style). It’s only when he and Rach pull up the meeting place and she starts checking names off a clipboard that he realizes she basically organized a fucking exodus to this place.
Bam’s drumkit is loaded out of the van as their regular groupies pile out of Ethan’s Carolla, and once again, Puck’s stuck by the force of nature currently burrowing herself under one of his arms to fight off the unusual summer night chill.
Their set isn’t long but it goes off without a hitch. Most of the students that have crammed into the basement to watch them are tanked by the time they set up and they sing along to even their original shit so Puck doesn’t bother trying to remember the words to The Erudite Heart (Bam-Bam’s opus, which includes a minute-long drum solo, right smack in the middle) and focuses instead on pursing his lips and unleashing his sex pout on the drunk chicks in the crowd. That is, until Bleeker keeps kicking him in the shins, mouthing “sing, you motherfucker.” Puck tries to ignore him, but when he has no other option but to acknowledge it, Ethan’s already wailing into the mic and doing his Jagger bit, so no one even notices.
When the show ends and the basement erupts in cheers, Puck knows he’s getting some serious action tonight. Two bleach blondes with orange fake tans (but smokin’ racks) have been giving him the sex eyes all set long from the front row, so it’s no surprise when they sidle up next to him as he’s helping the guys take down their equipment. As he chats it up, he spots Bam-Bam sitting in some beat-up armchair in the corner of the room like a king on his fucking throne. He has at least a dozen chicks sitting around (and on) him as he goes on about the decline of rock journalism, and when Puck turns towards the back, he sees Ethan and Bleek taking on two girls in a game of strip ping-pong.
When he turns his attention back to the two in front of him, he crosses his arms and cranks up his game. He’s having a pretty good time debating the merits of edible panties with them until Rachel’s bobbing mess of brown wavy hair catches his eye from across the room.
She’s sitting on a table – her bare legs crossed at the knee and hanging over the edge – and she’s surrounded by a group of what had to be five or six dudes who Puck swears he’s seen on one of those awful CW shows Santana used to make him watch. He wouldn’t have thought much about it, but these fools are all up in the girl’s business and he knows: it’s always the pretty ones you gotta look out for.
Rachel’s laughing and smiling and he knows she’s probably telling them about the cat booties she’s been knitting for the past week, but they’re fawning over her, pretending to be all interested and shit. Of course, she’s completely oblivious to the fact that they’re totally eyeing her non-existent boobs and midget legs that deceptively go for miles. Puck’s expression sours as he recognizes the look on their faces: the predatory glint in their eyes is far too familiar.
So he looks down at the chick hanging on his arm, still yammering on about God knows what, and then back up at Rachel, now shrugging her shoulders playfully and swinging her legs back and forth like a little girl. He swears, if he’s not going to be the douche who gets first dibs on Berry's Promised Land, it sure as shit isn't going to be some asshole in a lilac Lacoste polo.
Puck sighs, exasperated, and tosses his head back.
God, the sacrifices I make, he thinks to himself as he pushes Mystic Tan off him and charges through the crowd, shoving his way through Rachel’s new fan club.
“Berry, you should let them know about your crabs.”
The crowd around her scatters in about half a second, and Puck grins triumphantly. Rachel just smiles, waves after them dorkily and calls out, “It was nice to meet you all!”
Puck places both of his hands on her shoulders, ready to give her an impromptu lesson on the ways of the dude until Rachel holds onto his arms excitedly.
“Noah! I think I’m really going to like college when I go…I made friends!”
Her eyes are wide and starry and he wants to make some douchebag comment about her being so fucking rookie, but she’s so genuinely happy—
He ducks his head and laughs before peering back up at her.
“Shit, you’re cute.”
It’s a Friday night towards the end of the month when Puck calls Rachel after work. She’s a little surprised that she’s actually speaking with him on the phone (indecipherable text message is usually his correspondence of choice) and she expects it to be something band-related, but it’s not.
His voice is tired and heavy, so she asks him how work was.
“It fucking blows, man.”
She sighs into the phone then breathes a sympathetic, “I’m sorry to hear that.”
“Whatever.” He’s quiet for a beat and takes a deep breath. She can practically feel the exhaustion in the silence. “Yo, wanna come over tonight?”
“Noah—” They rarely turn down each other’s offers of secret, window-climbing rendezvous, but last time he kicked her out before his mom came up, she was left with a bruise the size of Russia down her left side. She made a point to tell him how unacceptable his behavior had been.
“No, I mean literally just come over and chill. My mom’s on call tonight and Sarah’s staying at that perv Sandy’s house—fuck man, no chance in hell I’d let that little—”
“Oh wow, isn’t that convenient?” He can hear her smile into her phone and he laughs back.
“Dude, scout’s honor. I’m fucking beat.”
She thinks for a minute.
When she rings the doorbell, he’s lounging on the couch in a pair of baggy sweatpants and a wifebeater. He doesn’t budge, just calls out a gruff, “Door’s open!” and listens as it opens, closes, and the bolt lock clicks.
“What if I were an incarcerated criminal on the run? What would you have done then?”
“Wait, you mean you aren’t?”
She grumbles under her breath as she makes her way to the couch and plops down next to him. She eyes his clothes and frowns. “I see you’re channeling your eternal desire to be featured on COPS.”
“Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do when they come for you?” His eyes are still glued to the TV and she pulls a pillow out from behind her and hits him in the head. He snatches it away and shoves it under his neck before crossing his arms. “You want something to eat?”
“Thank you for offering, but I already had dinner with my fathers.”
“Oh yeah? How’re the Mr. and Mrs.?”
She ignores his question, snatches the remote from under his leg and switches the channel from some baseball game on ESPN to The Wedding Planner on TNT. “Oh, I love this movie!”
Puck rolls his eyes and finally turns towards her. “You would, Berry.”
When Rachel shushes him, he mumbles something under his breath before he gets up and goes to the kitchen for a snack. He returns with a bowl of Cheetos and sets it down on the coffee table before sitting back down.
“J. Lo is such an inspiration.”
“J. Lo’s ass is an inspiration. J. Lo herself is kinda useless.”
Puck should have known that any sort of criticism of this shit-awful movie would set her off, but in all honesty, he kind of does it on purpose. Their stupid little arguments about useless shit are way more entertaining than he’d ever admit and he’s pretty sure the way her nose crinkles up when he says something “repugnant” is his favorite thing about her (aside from her ass… and tongue…and hands). To his surprise, what starts as a fight slowly devolves into her making fun of him: a totally new experience for Puck, but kind of hilarious.
“Fuck man, you can really dish it, B. I gotta admit, this side of you is really hot.”
Her legs are under her and she laughs as she turns towards him, edging closer. He pretends like he doesn’t notice his eyes drooping, just tilts his head and laughs at her stupidly as she claps her hands like a kid in a candy shop.
“I just find it hilarious though! After all this tough guy crap you pulled in Glee, here you are writing songs about love and redemption.”
“What was that line you wrote?” She’s cracking up and slapping his arm over and over. “What was it?”
He hangs his head in shame, an unapologetic grin plastered on his face. “Girl, I swear I'll be your main man, Do you nice and good whenever I can.”
She throws her head back starts giggling like crazy, and he looks over at her, more amused at her reaction than anything else.
“Oh God, Noah please promise me when you guys get famous you’ll leave the writing to Bam-Bam.”
“What!” He throws his arms up, feigning outrage, then shakes his head in defeat. “Man, B-Cup ain’t got nothin’ on this.”
When her laugher settles down, she runs a hand through her hair and she sighs. “Really though, it’s so great that you have such a wonderful friend in Robert. He’s such an incredible individual.”
Puck’s eyebrow perks up and he peers over at her suspiciously. She gives him a what? look, then starts lecturing him on the importance of being well-read, having manners and being able to use words other than “stuff” and “fuck” in his everyday speech.
“Okay Berry, we all know how perfect the dude is in every way. Hell, if I were a chick, my panties would be melted, too.”
“It’s just so refreshing to see someone so young with such a well-rounded personality!”
“Fuck, it should be well-rounded with all the ass he gets.”
She smacks him in the arm and gives him a dirty glare.
“Honestly, the conversations I have with him when we get our weekly lattes are always the highlight of my day.”
Puck looks at her suspiciously for a moment. “…You guys get weekly lattes? What the fuck do you talk about?”
She flips her hair and looks around the room, thinking for a moment. “Oh, you know...Life.”
Puck’s stomach lurches with an unfamiliar feeling (jealousy?) until he tells himself, whatever, Bam gets the annoying as fuck Rachel, I get the good one. He rolls his eyes and drops his head onto her lap.
“Okay can we please stop talking about Bammer’s hairy ass?”
She grunts in disgust and shoves his head. He laughs to himself then peers up at her, his hands inching up her legs. She looks up at the ceiling (what a fucking tease) but when his hands slide over her knees, she looks down at him with a silly grin.
“What happened to just chill?”
“Changed my mind. Let’s make out.”
After a few minutes, they end up moving to his bedroom; he says the couch is too small and uncomfortable but she disagrees, so he just picks her up and throws her over his shoulder, her little fists pounding playfully against his back. When he drops her onto the bed, her face is red but he’s pretty sure her smile is the most real thing he’s seen all week.
He’s the first to admit that it’s a weird night (even for them) and his mind is hazy from lack of sleep and excessive Berry, so he’s not entirely sure how their make-out session turns into them sharing his pillow, her hand on his side as she asks him about Quinn and the baby. He blinks lazily and focuses on her collarbone before he speaks. His hand runs smooth circles over her thigh as he tells her about a white house with blue shutters in Louisiana. A tire swing and white picket fences.
Rachel frowns and reaches for his hand on her hip. She pulls it up between them and laces her fingers with his. She doesn’t know what to say, so she brings their hands to her face and rests her chin on them. She knows he doesn’t do this well, so she tries changing the conversation.
“What about the college search? How’s that going?”
“He shakes his head and rolls his eyes.”
“Fuck college, man. The second I’m done, I’m peacing. Maybe move to Columbus and live with the guys until they’re done with school.”
She frowns again.
“Don’t give me that shit,” he says softly, his voice thick with guilt. “You know I’m not built to go to college.”
“It just seems to me—” her lips move against his hand and he blinks again tiredly. She pauses for a second and thinks. “It just seems like if you really want to get out, the smartest thing to do is to go to school somewhere else. Move away— a thousand miles away if you want. But don’t ruin your chances for the future.”
She stares at his downcast eyes and his jaw clenches.
When he finally looks up at her, he changes the subject. “So Glee Club, huh? Why are you always so fucking apeshit over it?”
She raises her chin and he can already feel the performer veil go up. “It’s nice to be a part of something special that allows me to exercise my exquisite vocal range. Don’t you agree?”
He chuckles and rolls his eyes. “Whatever, that’s a cop out answer.”
He stares at her for a second then purses his lips like he’s about to bestow some serious wisdom on her misguided ass. “I mean, I’m no fucking Bam-Bam, but it’s pretty obvious that all this Glee crap…It has nothing to do what you dweebs always say about the group and fitting in.” She shifts her head back and stares at him skeptically. “You’re a chick who knows what you want. Glee’s just the start.”
“I’ve made no bones about the fact that the Glee Club is simply the first step on my path towards fame and fortune. I don’t understand your point.”
He looks at her for a long second then laughs to himself. Rachel swears she hears a hint of self pity in his chuckle.
“God, Berry, I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but I kinda wish I was more like you.” He untangles his hand from hers and rests it on her side again. “All fuck the man and focused on getting yourself to where you wanna be.”
“Are you saying I’m selfish?”
“No.” He thinks for a second then amends his answer. “Well, yeah.” When she scowls, he keeps going. “I just mean—Okay, you? You’re a one-chick show. You don’t need anyone else to do anything. And when you do, like with Glee, you just get shit done.” He takes a deep breath and focuses on his hand on her hip. “All I’ve ever known is being on a team. Football, basketball, baseball, even fucking Glee Club. Being a piece of something so much bigger than me, it didn’t matter if I didn’t show up or got drunk before practice, ‘cause my boys always had my back.”
Rachel feels the shift in the air and knows what he’s saying now he’s never said to anyone else. Hell, he’s maybe never even realized he’s thought it. She holds her breath when he starts speaking again.
“I wanna get the fuck out of this place but I don’t know if I can do this shit on my own.”
When he finally meets her gaze, she’s taken aback by how miserable he clearly feels. She tries not to make matters worse, but it’s hard not to frown yet again when he’s staring back at her with such dark, sad eyes.
“Who ever said you had to be alone?”
Puck knows she’s talking about the guys, but the warmth of her hand on his face and the look in her eye—
He’s not used to actually feeling things beyond raging boners for chicks as they lie in his bed, so as she closes the space between them, her lips moving agonizingly slow to meet his, all he can think is, Oh fuck.
It’s not long before they’re past that point of no return but Puck knows whatever has gotten into them tonight might not last until morning, and he knows things will go sour if they don’t do it properly.
“Berry,” he says, pulling away from her. He can’t help the smirk when she follows him. “Hey, Berry,” he repeats, softly, brushing her hair from her eyes with his thumbs. “God knows why I’m bringing this up now but you said you didn’t—”
“Forget what I said,” she murmurs against his shoulder, before letting her head fall back onto his pillow, her hair spread out, eyes blown wide with a feverish delight. “Just forget—”
They’re breathing hard and staring intently into each other’s faces and he knows this is probably the worst possible time to crack a joke. “Will you still respect me in the morning?”
“I hardly respect you now, Noah...” She giggles when he arches an eyebrow and clucks his tongue. (You’d think they were still downstairs watching a shitty romantic comedy and not about to go where no man has ever gone before.)
The laughter dies down soon enough and they’re back to that breathy intensity from before.
“Berry,” he mutters, halfway between a warning and a groan. “Rachel.”
“It’s alright,” she rambles mindlessly. “We’re alright.”
A part of him wants to believe her because fuck it, he wants this, fuck the consequences. Another part of him actually does believe her because...Shit, he can count the people he actually trusts on one hand and he’ll be damned if she isn’t one of them.
He has one hand on her hip and the other pulling her thigh up to his waist, eyes on the bottom lip she’s gnawing in concentration, and all he can let himself think about at this point is that he feels good. Like, really fucking good.
He could totally write a song about this.
A/N: Thanks for reading! August to come