|Tethers and Lead Weights
Author: Tarafina PM
And this was high school still; where tethers and lead weights and drama and bullshit reign. :Puckleberry:Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance - Puck & Rachel B. - Words: 2,463 - Reviews: 11 - Favs: 33 - Follows: 4 - Published: 04-23-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8054078
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Title: Tethers and Lead Weights
Rating: Teen – PG13
For: Puckleberry Week on Tumblr – Day 1 | Deleted Scenes
Spoiler(s): 2x21 - Funeral
Word Count: 2,315
Summary: And this was high school still; where tethers and lead weights and drama and bullshit reign.
Tethers and Lead Weights
Puck wasn't sure how he got stuck on Berry-duty, especially considering everything that'd gone down between them over the last year and a half, and especially in the last few months, but here he was, driving Rachel to and from Coach Sylvester's sister's funeral. The service was a little mushy for his tastes; he figured if he died, he didn't want sappy speeches or sweet music. Well, maybe some kick ass tunes… They could rock Neil Diamond in the background and all the cougars and chicks he'd been with over the years would weep in their hankies over what a loss it was that he'd kicked the button. Or hell, maybe nobody but the gleeks would show. Maybe his ma and sister too. Knowing his mom, she'd have a few choice words for him, getting himself killed before he could marry a nice Jewish girl and give her the grand kids she wanted. He guessed Beth didn't count, at least not to her. Not when he wasn't there raising her himself.
His mood soured then, wondering if maybe Rachel's mom might bring Beth back to say goodbye to her dad. If she'd point at the picture of him raised up for all to see and say, "That's your daddy, Beth. He died too young." Maybe she'd say he made a few mistakes but the one good thing he ever contributed to the world was her. Little Beth Corcoran. Or maybe she wouldn't. Hell, Rachel's mom didn't even know him. All she knew was two screwed up high school kids slept together, got preggo, couldn't handle the consequences, and signed over their baby to her.
His thoughts only brought him back to the girl sitting in the passenger seat next to him, her brow furrowed, perfect white teeth biting into her plump lower lip.
They'd been idling outside her house for a good ten minutes, so he turned the car off and sat back, keys jangling, the only sound left in an otherwise silent car.
He rested his head on his hand, elbow braced on the open window, a faint breeze rustling the grey sleeve of his button-up shirt, folded against his forearm. He reached up and tugged his tie loose, letting it hang crookedly against his chest, no longer too tight, like a noose, at his throat.
His eyes cut to the right, resting on her profile, her chin low, eyes cast unseeing at her lap, long dark lashes brushing her cheeks every odd time she'd remember to blink. Her hair was tied back in a loose knot at the nape of her neck, tendrils of dark hair wisping down. His eyes dipped, following a strand at it rested on the shoulder of her black shrug, and then led further, following the v-shaped path of lace that fringed her black dress, accenting her soft, tanned skin. She had her red purse tucked in her lap, hands twisting it tightly in her fingers. Even with grief and fear, worry and uncertainty, etched in the lines of her drawn face, in the stretched skin across her tight fists, she was beautiful. A sort of fragility hung around her, so opposite of everything he knew Rachel Berry to be.
"Noah," she finally murmured, her voice soft.
He cleared his throat, brows furrowed as he tried to shake off the weird feeling sitting heavy in his chest. "Yeah?"
She turned her head just slightly, lifting her eyes to meet his, her bangs catching on her lashes. "Do you think… I-I mean, what Coach Sylvester wrote, in her eulogy, about the—About strings… tying people to each other…" Her lips pursed. "People who… love one another… Do you think… she's right? That there are—are tethers that connect us all to each other?"
"You mean Finn?" he asked, his brow quirked.
"Sure, I…" She ducked her head slightly, as if embarrassed he'd found her out so quickly. But she took a deep breath and admitted, "Yes, I—I mean Finn. An-And you and Lauren…" She shook her head. "I just, I wonder sometimes…" She frowned. "I have these moments where I don't miss Finn. I—I even feel… I feel free without him, you know? And I—" She sighed. "I know that's—It's awful of me. After everything I did. How hard I tried to be with him, to have him love me…" She turned her eyes away, brow furrowed in frustration.
He snorted. "Y'ever think you tried too hard?"
She frowned, turning to look at him in confusion, her eyes darting over his face. "All I've ever done is try, Noah… I—I try to be a great performer, a—a great student and friend and—and girlfriend. But I always—I—I never quite make the cut…" She shook her head, dropping her eyes a long moment. Her hands were twisting her purse even tighter when she looked at him again. "I… I told you once that I want everything too much, do you remember?"
He turned his head to stare at the steering wheel and picked at the rubber. "Yeah, you were dumping me," he muttered.
"Right. Well… I still do. I—I still want Finn and New York and Broadway…" A smile vaguely touched her mouth before skirting away. "But there are… There are these moments where I wonder if I only love him because… I wanted him so badly…" She squeezed her eyes shut and scrunched up her face with the effort of her emotions. "It just—It pains me, the idea that after all I've done, how much I've changed, how hard I've tried to be everything he could want, that he would still… That I wouldn't get him…" She blew out a long breath, her shoulders slumping. "And I guess I just wondered if… If that tether between people we love… If maybe what I think is a tether between Finn and I is just a… a rope that I lassoed around him. Like… Like I caught him and tied him to my side somehow but he… He found something to cut it and I'm just… I don't know… Trying to tie the broken ends together, over and over again…"
He turned to look at her, at the confused and broken girl that didn't resemble the tough, no-nonsense, big dreams girl he'd once known. And truth was, she'd been falling apart since her and Finn got together, not since they broke up.
She looked up at him, her eyes round and filled with tears, begging him for all the answers. And it was times like these that he wished he was smarter; better with words. Times when someone like Rachel, with all her ambition and her grades and the drive and talent to do anything, go anywhere, looked at him and expected more of him. Expected him to be better than what he'd always been. Times when he wished she was right.
"Y'know, one day… That tether's just gonna be there on it's own, y'know…?" He shrugged his shoulder. "It's just gonna build itself up and pull you together with somebody who suits you and likes you, for all your crazy…"
She half-smiled, rolling her eyes at him.
"No, I'm serious." He reached out, taking her small hand in his, rubbing the pad of his thumb over her fingers. "He's not gonna make you feel like this, y'know? He's just… He won't." He focused on her hands, her cute, small hands, because he wasn't sure he could look at her. "'Cause he'll love you more than that. He's not gonna lie to you about stupid shit or—or abandon you in tree lots or dump you to date a couple hot chicks…" He glared, brow knotting tightly, and wondered not for the first time what the hell was so great about Finn Hudson anyway. But then he shook it off, because hell, who was he to talk?
He raised his eyes to meet Rachel's then. "One day you're gonna be number one on somebody's list and all this bull about trying so hard and wanting shit too much, it's not gonna matter… 'Cause the right guy is gonna want you just as much as you want him and he's gonna know how awesome you are…"
Rachel stared at him a long moment before finally a shaky smile turned up her lips. "Really?"
He gave a short nod. "Yeah."
Her cheeks flushed pink and she bit her lip, this time to hide a smile. She stared down at their entwined hands and rubbed her thumb over his knuckles. But when she looked up, her smile was far away. "Lauren is… a very lucky girl, Noah."
He paused, his face falling suddenly, rapidly. Lauren. His badass girlfriend. He'd forgotten all about her.
He cleared his throat and untangled his hand from Rachel's, turning his eyes forward once more. "Yeah, well, Puckzilla's a stud."
Rachel half-smiled at him, before reaching out to squeeze his bicep. She looked him straight in the eyes as she said sincerely, "You're much more than that."
Without adding anymore, she reached for the handle and opened her door, stepping out onto the curb in front of her lawn. She leaned back down - and he congratulated himself on not catching a peek down her top when she did - to say, "Thank you. For driving me and for being such a wonderful companion." She nodded. "I appreciate it and I hope you know that if you ever need anything, I fully and completely offer my services."
Slowly, Puck smirked at her, his brow raised.
She scoffed. "You know what I mean…" Pursing her lips at him, she shook her head. "You were just waiting for the opportunity, weren't you?"
His smile faded as a faint bitter sigh left him. "I got patience, babe… With a girl like you, a guy like me's gotta have that."
Her brows furrowed.
"I'll see ya at school, Rach."
Nodding, she closed the door and took a step back.
She knelt to see him through his open passenger side window.
"That guy…" He shifted slightly in his seat. "Who, uh, is gonna see how great you are…?"
She nodded. "Yes…?"
"I think he's closer than you think…" He stared at her seriously. "And maybe you haven't figured it out or whatever. Hell, maybe you never will, but…" He shrugged, reaching a hand back to scrub through his 'hawk. "He's there… and he knows you're worth it."
She shook her head slowly. "Worth what?"
"Waiting for." He half-smiled crookedly. "It's high school, Rach… Bullshit and drama; that's all this is…" His brows hiked. "It's not until we're in the real world, and we gotta make those big decisions, those life-changing choices, that we know who we really are and what we really want, right?"
She stared at him a long moment. "Is that all this is, Noah…? Irrelevant?"
"Doesn't feel like it when it's happening," he admitted. "But when you're on that big stage and you got the whole room standing up and cheering you on…" He scoffed. "Finn Hudson and all that time you spent changing for him or wanting him… It's not gonna matter." He shook his head. "'Cause he was just high school..." He licked his lips, muttering, "It was all just high school."
Her eyes dropped, brows furrowed. "You make a good point, Noah."
"Yeah, sometimes…" He turned the ignition. "We've got another year to go and you're probably gonna waste it playing all these Finchel games…" He shook his head. "Might as well get it out of your system though, right?"
She stared at him, a smile tugging at her lips. "While I'm still in high school, you mean?"
He winked at her. "You're catchin' on, babe."
"And if…" She bit her lip. "If for some unexpected," She widened her eyes and smiled softly, "even unrealistic reason, Finn and I reach beyond high school…?"
He frowned. "Long as you get the stage, Berry… 's all that matters."
She smiled at him then, bright and brilliant. "Absolutely," she told him. And if to seal her fate, she added, "I promise!"
He nodded. "See ya," he told her. And with that, he pulled away from the curb and onto the street, headed for home.
He knew what would happen. Maybe he wasn't smart in some things, but he was pretty sure had these two figured out; he'd known Finn most of his life and Rachel, well… He didn't know when he started, but somewhere along the line, she started playing a bigger part in his life and took notice. So what he knew for sure was they would get back together, because they always did. And maybe they'd last through senior year, hell maybe they'd even last longer. But eventually, one day, Rachel was gonna wake up and know for a fact that it wasn't a tether between her and Finn. It was two lead weights that somehow got tangled together and they were both sinking because they were too stubborn to get that they were dragging each other down, over and over again.
To remind himself that he wasn't on that sinking ship, even if he felt a tether of his own knotted around Rachel, dragging him along with her and Finn as they bobbed helplessly, fighting a current that would never stop pulling them down, Puck grabbed his phone up and called Lauren as he headed home. Because he had a girlfriend, a pretty damn badass one. And this was high school still; where tethers and lead weights and drama and bullshit reign. But when he got that diploma in hand, it was hello highway, goodbye Lima; he just hoped Rachel would untie herself in time to leave it all behind and start city, new guy, new life; same old dream. It sounded pretty damn good to him.