Author's Note: I am SO sorry for having made you guys wait so long for this chapter. I'm kind of at a standstill w/ this story, where I know what I want to happen but I just can't write it out. So...this chapter may be crap or forced or something. But I tried. I really tried. Please let me know what you think. :)
Puck's usual dating routine consisted of either picking a girl up in his truck and heading to the Point or just going to her house and "hanging" out with her, neither of which could really be considered a real date. With Rachel, he knew things had to be different.
Because she was different and special. And he didn't want to mess things up.
Not with her, not this time.
With one hand gripping the steering wheel and the other twitching nervously in his lap, Puck drove, faster than he should've, to Rachel's house, where he would exit his vehicle, knock on her door, escort her back to the truck and, of course, open the truck door for her.
It was all so…Saved By The Bell, or something. He'd have to deal with it, though, if he wanted her to stick around until desert.
And he really wanted her to stick around a lot longer than that.
- - - - - -
As Noah drove, to an as of yet undisclosed location, Rachel stared silently out the window while absent mindedly skimming her fingers over the material of her lucky pink skirt. She was very curious about what Noah had planned for their first date but he had not said above two words since helping her into his truck, grunting "Watch your step," as he did so. Glancing at him out of corner of her eye, she noticed the way his fingers were drumming on the seat.
Could it be? Was he…nervous?
The thought made her giddy and, before she could stop it, she giggled.
Furrowing his brow, Puck cast his eyes in her direction for a moment. "What's so funny?"
Stifling the laughter with a hand, she realized what her indiscretion might cost her. Her brain quickly scanned possible answers she might relay to him and, in the end, she decided that being honest, if not completely, was best. "I was just thinking about what our previous selves might have thought upon learning that we were going on a date. I don't think we would believe us."
Snorting and shaking his head, Puck said, "That's some weird logic, Berry."
Before she could protest and argue that what she had said made perfect sense, Noah brought the truck to a halt, parking it under a lamp in a parking lot. Her train of thought gone, she twisted her head from side to side as it dawned on her where they were. Tears, the happy kind, welled in her eyes at Noah's thoughtfulness. Turning to him, she whispered, "I…this is…perfect." Reaching across the seat, she captured his hand with hers, giving him a small squeeze to let him know what it meant to her that he had brought her there. When his eyes met hers, she believed that she maybe she saw the sheen of wetness on his lovely hazel eyes but he blinked once and his eyes looked as they always did again.
"It's just Denny's," he grumbled.
But they both knew perfectly well the significance of the diner chain.
"I know exactly what I'm going to order," Rachel told him, closing her menu after they had been seated (at the same table where they had sat all those months ago when they had first agreed to be friends, which made her wonder if Noah had called ahead and requested the spot?). When he laced his fingers with hers, a shiver ran down her spine.
"Cool. I'm going to get something meaty."
Rolling her eyes, Rachel propped her wrist on the table just as the waitress came. After she left, Rachel's salad and Noah's meaty cheeseburger recorded on her order pad, Rachel smiled at Noah encouragingly. "I'm so glad that we're here, together, on a date, Noah. It took us long enough." He didn't respond but for a slight arch of one eyebrow and she felt her heart rate increase. Was he not as glad as she? "I've been contemplating our…tempestuous relationship and have come to the conclusion that I really don't know that much about you. You may not know much about me either, although during the course of our friendship I did ramble on about even the smallest details of my life. I'm sure you don't remember where my Uncle Lars' just in case money is-"
"Top drawer," Noah interrupted, his expression not changing. "Of his dresser. Probably shouldn't give out that kind of info, Rach."
A glowing, happy feeling scurried it's way up her back. He had been listening to her words, even the most insignificant. "That just proves that you know me. I want to know you."
Something flickered across his face and she found herself growing anxious, the burden of knowing him weighing heavily on her. "I…live with my mom and sister," he said, turning his eyes downward and concentrating on the hard surface of the table. "I'm on the football team and in Glee. What else do you need to know?"
Frowning, Rachel chose to ignore the bluntness of his question, noting the absence of a father figure in his mention of housemates. "What about your father?" she asked softly.
Rather abruptly, he yanked his hand away from hers, placing it under the table. "He's not around."
Clearly, it was a sensitive subject and Rachel knew that it was one to be avoided if she wanted their date to go well.
And she did.
Because she still wanted to be Noah's girl and she wasn't quite there yet.
- - - - - - -
Though Puck had reacted defensively over Rachel's question about his dad, he soon found himself letting his guard down, more or less, and he was talking about his grandma. How she always knew when he had done something wrong. How she had baked him snicker doodles every Saturday afternoon since he was five. How she had attended all of his Junior League football games. How she had sewn him that embarrassing red and gray sweater but had told him she understood if he chose not to wear it. He had, once, on Christmas, the year he was 14.
He felt stupid for blathering on but, really, she was the one asking all the long drawn out questions while his answers were much more succinct. Still, he had opened up to her in a way he never had to anyone else. It was too easy with her, to reveal more than he intended. Her wide eyes were lacking in any type of judgment and lit up with each story.
It meant a lot to him.
She meant a lot to him.
With an inward sigh, he decided, just this once, not to punish himself for being such a girl and instead center all his energies on making it through the date without being a total idiot.
So far, he hadn't blown it but the night was not over.
- - - - - -
Their next destination was the Point but Rachel knew he hadn't parked there simply because he wanted to make out with her (though she hoped he wanted to do that as well) but because the place had meaning to the two of them, just like the Denny's had. Placing a hand on his thigh, eliciting a startled reaction out of him, she leaned over and murmured, "What are you thinking about, Noah?"
He was quiet a moment before wrapping an arm around her shoulders, pulling her to his chest. "About…this. This date."
"It's going well, don't you think?"
When the question hung in the air, she felt queasy. What if he wasn't having a good time? Sure, he had participated in the conversation at dinner and had smiled at her several times (he was beyond gorgeous when he smiled, and after each time she had to resist melting into a puddle of Rachel-goo) but he didn't emote quite the same way as she did, which meant that she was mostly blind to his opinion on their date.
At long last, he spoke. "Yeah."
Nestling her head against his chest, she was surprised that she understood what the one, small word meant. "I'm having a good time too."
Both lapsed into silence, of the comfortable kind. Outside of the cab, they could hear grasshoppers and frogs.
"Thank you," she whispered, breaking the quiet. "For tonight." She glanced up at his face to see the barest hint of a smile.
"Hey, Rach?" He moved so that he was gazing into her eyes, a seriousness behind them that took her breath away. "Do you…want to make out?"
Biting her lip, Rachel held back her laughter. "Sure, Noah. I would love to."
- - - - - -
The night had gone by rather quickly, in Puck's estimation, but at least it had gone well. She had even told him so. Plus, he had gotten some alone time in his truck with her at the Point. Over an hour of alone time.
Really, he had no complaints.
Like a true gentleman, he walked her to her front door, after he had driven her home, their arms linked at the elbow. Once at her door, he shoved his hands in his pockets and teetered in front of her. "So…we should do this again sometime."
Beaming at him, she nodded eagerly. "We better do this again some time Puckerman." Then, standing on her tiptoes, she pulled his forehead to her lips, planting a light kiss against his skin. "Good night, Noah." With that, she entered her house.
He stared into the air where she had been standing, a half smile on his face, both eyebrows arched, for a minute before slowly ambling to his truck.
Good night, she had said.
Yeah, it had been that.