Author's Notes: GLEE.
I know this isn't your usual pairing, but … I can't help it. I've got a Puck/Rachel! kink. Why? Because it's HILARIOUS.
Title translates roughly to: Without Tits, There Is No Paradise.
Sin Tetas, No Hay Paraíso
Mr. Schuester pulls him aside on a Wednesday and hands him a test with A+ written across the top; when he asks where Puck learned his near-fluent Spanish he says, "I watch a lot of Telenovelas." (That's true, more or less; Puck's always been good at observing, at becoming whatever environment he's in because that's how you survive in a town like this. So when he set his eyes on María Marquez, single mother of sophomores Alma and Polo Marquez, he spends three months watching soap operas and listening to a Rosetta Stone that he steals from the local library.)
Three seconds later he's got this tiny, terrifying brunette person tugging on his shirt and gasping, "Puck, oh my God, you've got to help me."
He sort of tries to shake her off, but the girl has the grip of a damn bear-trap and she's not letting him go. He sighs. "What do you want, Crazy?"
She glares, straightening up and shaking her head so that her hair does this dainty, almost flirty little flip over her right shoulder, and if she weren't still clutching his shirt like it was an Emmy, he might have found her—just for a second—almost . . . cute. "First of all, I will choose to ignore your jibe because I know that it comes from a deep-rooted jealousy of my talent and drive, neither of which you possess. And secondly, I couldn't help but notice that you received a one-hundred percent on our most recent Spanish test, and I received a deplorable sixty-six percent, which is by far the lowest grade I've ever received, so I need you to tutor me so that I don't flunk Spanish, by extension Glee, by extension school, by extension all my dreams of wining a Tony/Emmy/Grammy/Teen's Choice Award, and by extension life."
When she's finished, she stands there panting, wide-eyed, her mouth open just a little bit and her hair flopping over her face as she frantically smoothes her skirt. He opens his mouth to say, "Dream on," when she looks up at him, from under her eyelashes, and good God she's actually crying, so he does the first thing he can think of to keep her from just losing her shit right there. "Sure. When works best for you?"
And that's . . . pretty much how it starts.
He goes to her house first, because no way in hell is he going to get caught bringing her to his, and he doesn't even get a chance to knock before she's flinging open the door and dragging him into the living room like he's a VMA and she's Kanye West. Her Dads are sitting in the kitchen and look up at him with raised eyebrows, probably frowning on his hairdo, but in Puck's opinion, if you choose to live your life making out with other dudes than you have no right to comment on an awesome Mohawk.
Rachel's room is pink, terrifyingly pink, but other than that it's surprisingly normal; she has a picture of her two Dads and her at the piano (surprise, surprise), a few stuffed animals, and a bookshelf with gems like Oscar Fashion through the Centuries and Julie Andrews: Defining a Generation.
He isn't sure where to sit; everything's in such perfect order that he's afraid to mess it up.
"I cleaned before you got here," Rachel says breathlessly, like she says everything. "I mean, I know that you might think that that defeats the point of cleaning, because now you know that I'm actually a messy person by nature, but I didn't want to misrepresent myself."
"Um, yeah, okay," he says. "Let's just get this over with, all right?"
She nods, pulling out a notebook and a pencil. She squirms a bit on her bed and then looks up at him blankly. "Okay. I'm ready." There's a long, awkward pause, and she prods gently, "Aren't you going to teach me?"
Puck wishes he'd thought this through a bit more; he'd really only gotten as far as actually getting to her house before his plan had ended. He'd figured she'd have questions that he could just answer and then get the hell out, but from the way she's sitting (really, terrifyingly still, like she's a statue or something, how does she even do that and not blink?) he doesn't really see that happening.
He casts around for something to say and then notices a little TV on her dresser. He breathes a sigh of relief. "Yeah, so, I was thinking that obviously this way of, uh, learning wasn't doing it for you," he says, faking confidence because Rachel's like a hyena who prays on weakness. As soon as she sees the vulnerable spot she moves in and the next thing you know you actually like her—take Finn, for example.
Rachel frowns. "So what did you have in mind, by way of change? Because I can't afford a trip to a Spanish-speaking country right now, I mean, I have way too much going on here. And we couldn't leave Glee, anyway, because they need us—well, actually just me, mostly, but you're very tall and strong and useful when it comes to the dances. Plus, you play guitar pretty well and I know that Mercedes at least thinks you're funny, so they'd probably miss you, too; I don't want you to think that no one likes you, it's just that you're needed on a purely social level, while my talent is really the backbone of the club's performance."
Puck takes a moment to let his mind catch up with her and then says, "Um, sure. Okay. Anyway, my plan wasn't to take a trip to a Spanish-speaking country. It was to watch TV."
Rachel frowns. "I'm afraid I don't understand."
Puck goes to her TV and flicks it on. It's a Thursday, so there's a new episode of his personal favorite telenovela, Sin Tetas No Hay Paraíso, but he figures that Rachel might not be quite ready for that type of A-game entertainment. Instead he settles on something easier, something that she'll be able to relate to: Floricienta.
Rachel frowns at the T.V. "I still don't get it," she says, as he settles beside her on the bed. He can see her frowning at his sneakers on her quilt but he doesn't take them off. "How is this going to help me pass Spanish, and by extension Glee and by extension—"
"Look," he interrupts, before she can get going on one of her tangents, "the best way to learn a language is just to submerse yourself in it, okay? So watch the damn show. If you don't understand something, I'll tell you what it means."
She looks at him skeptically, but without a word leans cautiously back against her pillows, purses her lips, and watches.
The next day Mr. Schuester takes Rachel to the side and tells her quietly that if she doesn't pull her grade up in Spanish, she'll have to drop Glee. Her eyes meet Puck's over the Shust-man's shoulders and she says quietly, "I know, Mr. Schuester. I've got a great tutor; I'll be fine."
The next Thursday Finn invites him to go out and get pizza with the rest of the guys, and but when he tries to tell Rachel that he can't make it, she gets this frenzied, out-of-control look in her eye that terrorizes him into changing his mind. So at 3:30 he dutifully rings her doorbell. This time one of her dads answers and looks him up and down once, judging, and then says in a light voice, "Rachel, your lawnboy is here!"
She takes the steps by twos and frowns at Dad Number One. "I told you, Daddy, he's a pool boy, not a lawn boy. Don't be rude." Then she takes his hand—it's little, much littler than he expected, for some reason—and drags him up the stairs. She gets herself settled on the bed while he fusses with the TV, focusing on finding the channel and ignoring her as she prattles on about, seriously, nothing. "…but it was an okay day, I mean, overall. I don't know. Don't you ever have those days when nothing good happens but nothing bad happens, so you don't want to label it as a bad day? Daddy says that any day that's not a good day is a bad day, but I don't feel bad, so . . . of course, I guess you could say it was a bad day because I in no way advanced my career as an award winning actress/dancer/singer, but I did eat with people at lunch and I made Finn laugh twice. I think I might have caught Quinn smiling when I told the joke about the koala bear shooting the waiter but it's hard to tell with her, because sometimes when she smiles she's actually angry. I imagine it's because of the baby, since it messes up her hormones so badly. Also, Quinn isn't the nicest girl on the best of days, so I can't imagine it's that much of a change for her. Anyway, I had my weekly voice lesson yesterday and Mr. Gordon says I'm going to be able to add another octave to my range by February. Dad and Daddy are really impressed, as well they should be because it's actually a really huge accomplishment, especially since I'm naturally an alto."
"Um, yeah, cool," Puck says, as the opening strains of the title song comes out of the TV. And then, abruptly, Rachel shuts up and pins her eyes to the TV. For a second he's worried that she's actually not even breathing.
She watches Floricienta and he watches her, amazed by her ability to be completely sucked into whatever it is she's doing. She's like a robot the way she gets into the zone. She doesn't move, isn't distracted by anything. As a little social experiment, Puck reaches out and puts a hand on her ankle. She doesn't even notice it, just keeps watching like it's announcing the coming of the Messiah.
He moves his hand up, casually, not even looking at her anymore, and when he gets to her knee she starts and looks down at it and then over at him, eyes wide like a terrified rabbit. "What are you doing?" she squeaks.
He grins. "Experimenting," he says, removes his hand, and settles back to watch Floricienta. Rachel frowns at him, and though he feels her eyes on him he doesn't turn to meet them. Let her be the confused, for once.
In the locker room on Monday the boys are talking shop and Kurt says, "Okay, Puck. Do dump or marry: Mercedes, Tina, Rachel."
Frankly, Puck's still a little uncomfortable with sharing a locker room with Kurt, but everyone else seems to forget that he's very clearly checking out Finn's ass in the shower so he goes with it. "Umm. Is this one of those games you picked up at ballet?"
Kurt glares at him, and Finn casts him one of those disparaging looks that he's become basically immune to. Finn says, "Hey, Kurt. I'll answer. Um, do Mercedes, dump Tina, and marry Rachel."
Everyone stares at him, because who in their right mind would marry Rachel?!
Finn shrugs. "Underneath her psycho exterior she's actually pretty cool."
"Dude," Puck says, not thinking, "she has pink sheets."
And now everyone is staring at him, and Finn's voice is high-pitched and alarmed as he asks, "How do you know what her sheets look like?!"
By Monday everybody knows, and he expects Rachel to come storming up to him with one of her hour-long rants about how he's evil and she's the next Idina Menzel and he doesn't get to ever look at her ever again and how dare he tell people that they were having sex?!
But actually what happens is she approaches him right after Spanish and wordlessly ands him a Spanish test with a C written on the top. "It's up a full seven points from the last one, which, while still far, far below average for me, is certainly better than I was doing. So since you helped me, I'm willing to overlook the fact that you completely objectified me and embarrassed me in front of the entire student body and allow you to continue tutoring me."
He frowns. "Allow me? Listen, Crazy—"
"You told everyone that you'd 'bagged and tagged' me, Puck. In most school districts that's considered sexual harassment. I don't think either of us wants to get involved in one of those sticky complaints, because it goes on your permanent record and I believe you're hoping to get a football scholarship and I don't need any of that drama to potentially be uncovered when I'm famous. And the way I see it, this is a mutually beneficial set-up: you get to show your friends how cool you think you are and I pass Spanish, with the added bonus of having Quinn Febray not hate me for harboring romantic feelings for Finn."
As a general rule, Puck doesn't use words like pragmatic, but it's the first one that pops into his head as she stands there looking at him, so when she sticks out a hand, he takes it.
They start meeting twice a week, instead of just once, because Rachel's grade isn't "going up fast enough". They finish the first season of Floricienta and Rachel actually cries during the finale, which is awkward enough for Puck without the added stress of her wanting to … like … talk about it.
After the credits roll she hurls herself at him, crying and loudly, and he has absolutely no idea what to do so he sort of tries to push her away, but she's got a hold on him like his mom's around a wineglass so he gives up and awkwardly pats her on the head. "Um, listen, I think you have the wrong idea about this relationship," he says, because no chance in hell is he letting this get to a place where she's actually coming to him with, like, problems and shit, because he's not a) Finn or b) a fucking girl.
"¡No es justo!" she wails, and in spite of himself he starts laughing, because, seriously? She's going to cry in Spanish now?
"Easy, killer," he says, and then they sort of just lay there, Rachel crying softly and Puck realizing that her hair smells like apples.
They don't watch the second season of Floricienta because Rachel is too loyal to the dead Federico to bear watching Flor with any other love interest. And both because Rachel is scary and because he doesn't care what they watch, Puck doesn't push.
But she liked Floricienta so much that he decides to keep it in the same vein and they start Lola … Erase Una Vez, which is basically the same story with more rock songs and shorter skirts, both of which Puck figures can't possibly be bad things.
Of course Rachel over-identifies with the outcast Lola, who just wants to sing her songs and get the guy, so Puck spends most of the week fending of Rachel's insatiable desire to talk about it.
He's bored on a Wednesday, so he calls and asks if maybe she wants to come over and watch Lola. He figures this way he can free himself up for Thursday and not have Rachel read him the riot act. She shows up wearing yoga pants and a tight t-shirt and he's so thrown by the sight of heractually relaxed that he nearly chokes on his popcorn. She brings a plate of cookies that her Dads sent over and of course his mom loves her, with her big words and big dreams and he realizes very quickly that this was a mistake.
His kid brother walks into the kitchen and his eyes go big and bug-eyed and before Puck can control the situation it's like they've adopted her and she's everybody's best friend and seriously, when did Rachel become good at making friends?!
It must be his freak family, he decides, resigning himself to an evening of family bonding, and when his mother begs Rachel to stay for dinner her eyes skitter over to his as if asking for permission.
He shrugs, because fuck if he cares, he gets fed either way, and anyway he sort of likes the way she looks in this light. Sort of.
So she stays and gives them a concert (kill him, please) and makes him accompany her on guitar and it's almost the worst evening of his life except that there are parts where he's laughing so hard at her that he actually chokes, and parts where for a second his bewildered, dazzled family is smiling all together and it's totally normal, and even parts where Rachel relaxes and isn't a complete psychopath and actually listens instead of talking, for once.
After dinner he walks her to her car and shoves his hands in his pockets and, to keep this feeling like a date, says, "Well, okay, bye."
There's a pause, and then she actually snorts, and when he looks at her in surprise she says, "You have a really nice family, Puck." Then she grins. "Can't imagine what happened to you."
It's an old joke, probably one she heard on TV or something, but he humors her with a smile that doesn't fade until her headlights have.
She makes him come over on Thursday even though they saw each other on Wednesday, because, she points out, they didn't actually watch Lola, so it doesn't count. Which kind of screws with Puck's plan to call Wednesday night's freak-show tutoring.
On Thursday they don't get much done, either; they watch one episode of Lola and then it quickly devolves into a verbal sparring match which quickly becomes a pillow fight which ends with Rachel victorious (of course, but she cheated). He doesn't want to think that they might be becoming friends, but he sort of can't help it.
Afterward, he's raiding her fridge for beer and cookies and she asks in a dreamy little voice, "Do you think Quinn's going to keep the baby?"
His hand freezes mid-grab and he doesn't answer, because the last person he wants to talk about his baby with is Rachel. For once, she seems to get the hint, because she coughs and then chirps, "If you want pizza, it's in the freezer."
His car breaks down on Monday and Rachel offers to shuttle him around as payment for the tutoring, which he's beginning to suspect she doesn't even need anymore, since he overhears her talking to one of the exchange students with only a few grammar mistakes and vocabulary holes. Still, he lets her, because she doesn't make him pay for gas and it's quicker than the bus.
He makes a point to act like its no big deal when they arrive at school together and everyone is like OMGWTFBBQ. He figures if he ignores it than it will go away, maybe.
Finn drags him into the locker room before class and demands, "So, what, you guys are like, dating now?"
"No," Puck says, trying to laugh it off. "Dude. It's Rachel. No way."
"Don't hurt her, Puck," Finn mutters, and he sounds actually serious, like he'd do something about it, and the irony is so bitter that Puck spits out, "That's funny, coming from you."
Finn frowns. "What are you talking about?"
Puck can't believe that he somehow got suckered into this moment, right out of some chick flick, but he grumbles, "Dude. All you do is hurt her," and then shoves past and back into the hall.
At Glee Mr. Schuester gives Quinn the lead, and Rachel takes it with surprising grace; since Quinn got kicked off the Cheerios, she's been taking a lot of Quinn's shit with surprising grace. Of course, afterwards he finds her in the parking lot bawling and he tells himself he'd leave her there if he didn't need a ride. As it is, he gets suckered into letting her hug him as she cries about it's so unfair and her voice is better than Quinn's and why does Quinn get everything she wants?
"Look," he says awkwardly, "it's okay."
She looks up at him and rests her chin on his chest and this feels like something it shouldn't be so he tries not to meet her eyes, but seriously, when Rachel wants something she gets it. "You're not a bad guy, Finn," she murmurs, and then tips onto her toes and kisses him.
He kisses her back, because she's hot and because somehow she found his weak spot and wormed her way in, the way she always does, and he doesn't let it hurt when he realizes she called him Finn.
He goes to her house on Tuesdays and Thursdays and they watch Lola; she comes to his on Mondays and Wednesdays and they have dinner with his family and make out. She drags him with her on Saturdays to a movie or some equally awful date-like activity, but he goes with it because who knew she was such a babe under those sweaters?
Either way, it's a nice system. She's less of a prude than Quinn ever was, and he likes that she openly admits to liking and wanting sex as badly as he does.
He realizes that he's coming dangerously close to like-liking her when she dresses up like the scandalous Catalina from his favorite telenovela, Sin Tetas No Hay Paraíso, for his birthday and sings him Lola's theme song Masoquismo in that low voice she sometimes whips out when she's feeling sexy.
That night, the only name she says is his.
When she finally gets an A in Spanish, they celebrate by making out on the bleachers just before Glee. As the bell rings she climbs off of him, hair dripping down over her shoulder, breathe coming in little tufts in the cold air. "Thanks," she says, in that small, sincere voice she sometimes has, and in an involuntarily tender moment he brushes her hair out of her face and murmurs, "Yeah. No problem."
He gets Finn to drive him home because Rachel stays to hang out with the other girls and neither of them speak in the car. Finally Puck says, "You don't really have a right to be angry at me, you know."
"You could have had her, dude. You probably still could. But you've got Quinn."
"And what am I supposed to do? Dump her? She's carrying my baby, Puck. I know you don't know anything about responsibility, but I do."
Puck bites his tongue. "I guess you're right," he says. "Either way, I got the girl."
Rachel doesn't show up that night and doesn't answer her phone. She doesn't speak to him at school the next day, and when he goes to her house her Dads tell him she's not home although he can clearly see her standing on the stairs.
Since he assumes she isn't going to pick him up for school he takes the bus and waits for her in the music room, where he knows she always goes before class to warm up her vocal chords, just in case.
When she spots him she turns to leave, but he blocks the door. "What the hell is wrong with you?"
She doesn't meet his eyes. "Nothing. I don't think that we should see each other anymore. Thank you for helping me with Spanish."
His jaw drops, because of all the things he had expected, this wasn't one of them. "Seriously? You used me for Spanish? Is this a joke?"
"I used you?" she yells back crossing her arms over her chest. "You're the father of Quinn's baby!"
He freezes. "How did you . . . who told you?"
Her jaw is stiff and angry, and she doesn't wipe away the tears gather in her eyes like a normal person would. "Who do you think told me?"
He swears softly, rubbing his hands over his face, because he really does not understand Quinn Febray and probably never will. "Look, Rachel, it wasn't my business to tell you."
"What about Finn? He's your best friend!"
"So this is about Finn?"
"Of course it's about Finn! What else would it be about?"
He leaves. He doesn't want to hear the words it would be about us come out of his own mouth.
He finds Quinn at her locker and drags her into an empty classroom. "So, what?" he spits at her. "You changed your mind?"
She glares at him, ripping her arm out of his grip. "What are you talking about?"
"You told Rachel about the baby!"
Quinn frowns. "What does that have to do with you? She figured it out when Finn told her how he thinks he got me pregnant. She's not going to tell anyone, Puck. You're still off the hook."
He runs a hand over his scalp. "God, Quinn, that's not the point."
"Then what is the . . ." she trails off, before her eyes go wide and she lets out a laugh. "No. Really? Rachel? God, what is it about that girl?"
"Shut up," he snarls, and leaves her there, still laughing.
She won't meet his eye at Glee and he tells his mother that she hasn't been around because she's sick. She's getting straight As in Spanish and when Mr. Schuester asks her who her tutor was she mumbles quickly, "I just studied a lot, I guess."
María Marquez tells him he speaks like a native and for his part he tries to act like her lemonade doesn't taste like acid. He makes out with her for a while, but when she puts her hand on his knee he jerks away and swears, loudly, before getting up and leaving the house.
He is not this guy.
He goes to Finn, because where else do you go when you're suddenly having, like, feelings and shit?
"She's in my fucking head, man," he moans, falling into Finn's bean chair and dropping his face in his hands. "She's everywhere. I couldn't even have sex with María Marquez, and you know how hard I worked for that shit!"
Finn crosses his arms over his chest and spins himself in his desk chair. "So, what, do you . . . like her?"
"Look," Puck says flatly, "we both know that you're going to choose Quinn, because you're not the guy that walks away from a baby."
Finn hesitates. "Do you . . . I mean . . . she's a really cool girl, Puck."
"No," he says, "she's a really crazy girl. Crazy with a capital C. She's the single most tunnel-visioned person I've ever met in my entire life, and she does insane things like iron her underwear and floss her tongue. She's, like . . . I mean, she's totally nuts. But sometimes she . . . says things, you know, just like totally out of the blue, just the funniest shit and then gets all mad when you laugh at her, like she isn't completely aware of how ridiculous she sounds. And seriously, dude, she never. shuts. up. I have to kiss her just to make her take a freaking breath sometimes, like what do I care what she wants to wear when she accepts her Emmy? But she's going to win it, like it's just a fact in her life, I've never been surer of anything, because when Rachel wants something she gets it, and I don't know, man. I've sort of learned to like letting her win."
He looks up to find Finn laughing at him. "Dude," he chokes out, "you sound like Kurt at the end the end of Mean Girls. That guy loves Lindsay Lohan."
Puck says, ". . . you and Kurt watched Mean Girls together? Who are you?"
He decides to go big for the biscuit, so when Shuester announces tryouts for the lead in the semi-finals, he knows what song he'll choose. Finn does "Can't Fight This Feeling" and Quinn sings "You Just Keep Me Hangin' On" and Rachel whips out "You Belong with Me" and somehow it sounds catchy and doesn't make his ears bleed. Mercedes makes Kurt cry with her rendition of "I'd Rather Go Blind" and there is something oddly poignant about Artie's "Runnin'".
Puck sings Masoquismo, the theme song from Lola. He looks at Rachel even when she doesn't look at him.
He's waiting for the bus when she pulls up. She doesn't look at him, but she says, "I'll drive you home."
He spends the weekend wondering when she became this important person in his life, and how the fuck he can reverse the process.
On Monday she drives him to and from school, but the radio's on in the car and she sings along with every song, even when she doesn't know the lyrics or the tune. He's learned to block it out and watch the scenery roll by, and he can't believe that he's actually wishing for her to start talking about something, anything, something he couldn't actually care less about if she has to.
At Glee Shuester announces that Finn and Rachel are still the leads, to nobody's great surprise.
On Tuesday she shows up on his door. She's got the full DVD set of Sin Tetas No Hay Paraíso and his mother greets her with such enthusiasm that it's embarrassing. He freezes when she asks if she's feeling better, but Rachel just smiles and lies easily, "Oh, much better, Mrs. Puckerman, thank you. I think it must have been the flu."
They go up to his room and he is reaching for the DVDs when she stops him. "Okay, I have to say this now or I'm never going to, and I'm not by nature a shy person, because you can't be if you want to be famous, but I find it very difficult to talk to you sometimes" (seriously? he thinks. This has been you finding it difficult to talk?) "because you're a man of so few words yourself, but it just has to be said. I was really hurt when I found out that you were the actual father of Quinn's baby, because, well, you know my feelings on her in that she has absolutely everything that I've ever wanted, except of course that I have a better home life and far more talent. But jealousy aside, I guess I sort of got it into my head that you and I had something that was new for the both of us, but I guess I should have known better because you are quite vocal about your previous conquests and I knew that, I just chose to ignore it. Also, whatever you and Quinn had was way before whatever you and I had, so I guess I didn't have a right to be angry in the first place. I guess I was just freaked out, you know, because you were my first . . . whatever you were, and I just felt a little . . . I don't know, possessive. And then of course I got confused, because I thought that I was supposed to like Finn, I mean, he's got this incredible voice and he's very sweet and good-looking and everything, and that's how it always happens in the movies, after all, I mean, I'm the talented outsider and he's the rebellious popular guy, and that just makes mathematical sense, doesn't it? Only in the movies there's never a pregnancy, and . . . and then my feelings just got all mixed up because I really liked you, too, even though you aren't half as nice as Finn and you have that terrible haircut. But there's something about you, Puck, you have this, like, sweetness underneath that you never show anybody but me, sometimes, and your family. And I just—when you were singing on Friday, I just—God, I realized that I don't even like Finn anymore, that maybe I never really liked him at all, only the idea of him, you know? I just—I like you, even though you always make fun of me and never really gave any indication that you—"
He cuts her off with a kiss that she sinks into without hesitation, and when she pulls away he murmurs, "Rachel. You have got to stop talking so much."
She giggles, rests her head against him, and then murmurs, "Do you want to know a secret?"
She'll tell him even if he says no, and he's learned to like letting her win. "What?"
"Remember when I showed you the test that I got a C on? It had been an A. I changed the grade so you'd have to keep tutoring me. I just like hanging out with you."
He laughs, shaking his head and looking down at her with a raised eyebrow. "Dude. That's creepy as hell," he tells her, but he's grinning.