I have NO IDEA why I'm posting this, because I haven't written in forever and this is a MESS. Except that Puck & Rachel kind of rock my world and I want everyone to know about it.
This is an unbeta'd rush job, so please forgive any mistakes. There's also no organic narrative flow, but that has less to do with editing and more to do with my skills as a storyteller, probs :)
The title is from the Coconut Records song of the same name.
Reviews are greatly appreciated!
An easy girl to love
An easy girl to kiss
An easy girl to miss when you're gone
I say girl
You say yeah
I love you
Regionals come and go quicker than Puck thinks possible.
Everything immediately after stepping onto the stage is a blur, but he assumes it must have gone well because the next thing he knows Finn and Rachel are hoisting an impressive trophy, and while everyone is jumping around clapping the only thought he can formulate in his head is that if Finn isn't careful, he's going to lift that thing too high and send Rachel flying over his head. He hopes everyone in the audience think he's laughing because he's just so happy to have won.
The after party is, in true Glee fashion, both embarrassingly fun and hilariously awkward. Puck feels almost fond of this ragtag bunch of misfits he now calls friends (in the privacy of his room.) Unfortunately, parents have been invited without his knowledge so now he's spending most of the party ignoring the look of shining adoration on his little sister's face (which he feels is undeserved), putting up with the guilt trip his mother is laying on him for not telling her about Glee, and making sure she does not come into contact with certain people. Certain people that he desperately wants to have contact with (every kind of contact) but he can't. Not right now, at least. Forget what he said, this party blows.
It's about 10 o'clock when the party starts to wind down. The adults have gotten through most of the wine bottles pretty quickly, and they even deign to let every Glee kid have one glass each before the last bottle is finished. All the Gleeks act the appropriate level of gracious, except for Kurt who gasps dramatically and gushes about his "first taste of an alcoholic beverage". A hard elbow from Mercedes and he tones it down, but even Puck can't keep the smirk off his face as they all sip their wine innocently and think about the bottle of Jack Daniels they annihilated backstage just after winning.
Everyone's off in little groups, talking and laughing and just gushing about the show. Ms. Pillsbury keeps fluttering around Mr. Schue like a demented hummingbird, and Tina's baby sister is crawling all over Artie's lap, demanding he make the "ride go faster!" Kurt and the kid who plays the trumpet in the jazz band are standing at opposite ends of the room but are giving each other surreptitious, shy looks every once in a while. Britney and Mike are full-on making out in the hallway passed the lockers but none of the adults are the wiser because Santana is standing guard. Quinn is handling everyone's questions about the baby like a trooper, although when Artie's mom asks if she can touch her belly the look Quinn gives her makes him snort into his glass. Puck is having a conversation about transmission fluid with Kurt's father, because he sort of understands the awkward way Mr. Hummel was standing off to the side of the group. He looks up, of course, every once in a while to make sure that she, his mother and her fathers remain on opposite sides of the room, just because tonight is about Glee and not about having to choose between dying and having to introduced his mother to her. He thinks it's cute when sees Finn hoisting his sister Deborah onto the little choir room stage.
Debbie, like every other woman in his life it seems, has always had a thing for Finn. Whenever he comes over she finds the dumbest reasons to interrupt them and ask Finn questions about football or high school or why blue whales are mostly gray. Finn thinks it's adorable (and is also now intrigued by the blue whale misnomer, "I mean, think about it! It makes no sense!") and because he's a single child, he's always happy to take the time to give her some attention. "Everyone wants the spotlight at least for a little while" he explains to Puck one day before letting Debbie recite her oral on bumblebees for them, and Puck knows that that is a direct Rachel Berry quote and so when he rolls his eyes, it's for a number of reasons.
At the moment, Debbie is holding court over Finn and most of the parents as she does her own version of their winning mashup. Her choreography involves a lot more arm flailing and twirling than the original, but Puck can't help but feel proud that she's got the balls to go up there and perform at all, especially when he considers how long it took him to man-up and fully invest himself in the Glee club. She finishes the song and blushes when everybody starts clapping and he's having too good a time to think anything could go wrong when she opens her mouth to acknowledge her audience.
"Thank you, thank you! It's not as good as when Rachel sings in Noah's room but I'm learning!" she beams, and all of a sudden any conversation that had been going on just stops dead. He doesn't look at Rachel because he knows she's not looking at him, as though if they pretend the other didn't exist it would somehow refute whatever Deborah was saying.
"What do you mean, sweetheart?" his mother asks. "We've only met Rachel tonight."
"She comes over when you make Noah babysit me," she grins proudly. It must be such a rush for her to, for once, have a whole room's undivided attention and Puck's glad she got to experience this at least once in her life because now he's going to have to kill her once it's over. It doesn't even occur him to just stop her somehow, because do people run outside their homes and just ask the tornado to fucking quit it already, please?
Everyone just looks gobsmacked, even the parents who don't even really know who he and Rachel are, which he just thinks is kind of ridiculous. He's still avoiding looking at Rachel, but for some reason he decides to glance up at her fathers, probably so he knows when exactly he needs to start running for the door. They don't seem either upset or surprised, really, and they probably just assume that obviously Rachel just goes over to practice because they're teammates so it's understandable. Puck guesses that this ability to expect an innocent explanation is borne from having an innocent child, because while her fathers look on calmly, his mother is glaring daggers at him from the punch bowl. She knows him too well.
"So you pencil in a little extra practice with the Glee dreamboat, eh?" One of Rachel's fathers elbows her lightly as he teases her good-naturedly. "Understandable." Puck still hasn't looked at her.
"Do they ever kiss in there, Deborah?" the other father asks lightly, and everyone kind of chuckles. When Deb shakes her head no and makes a disgusted face, the chuckles turn to guffaws and Puck thinks that maybe the worst is over. Then his little sister opens her mouth. Again.
"But sometimes Noah puts his head between Rachel's legs."
And Puck figures he has about a minute before the shit hits the fan so he just grabs Kurt and picks him up like a shield and hopes everyone has enough sense to spare an innocent life.
It begins at the end, really.
Whatever Puck and Rachel have (or don't have) only really starts to develop once they break up.
He isn't too upset when she dumps him, because he was planning on breaking up with her. What they had lasts barely a week and neither can really explain it, so when it's over he thinks that they can both forget it ever really happened. Except now he can't go on pretending that Rachel Berry doesn't exist, and when he goes to Glee practice she always blushes and averts her gaze and he realizes it was stupid of him to think that an innocent non-fling wouldn't have some repercussions.
The worst of which are the pitying looks she sends him whenever she catches him looking at Quinn. He forgets sometimes that she has figured him out, so when he's reminded of it, it angers him all over again. It's not fair that she has this over him, when what he has over her is already public knowledge and therefore useless.
She comes up to him a few days after the breakup, and from the nervous way she's swinging her arms by her side, he knows she's still thinking about what he said about their nonexistent friendship. Hell, he still thinks about it, too. She also has that look in her eye that warns him she has a speech already planned so he leans against his locker and tries to get comfortable.
"Hello, Noah. How are you? I just want to say hi because I think it's important we maintain at least a civil rapport between each other for the benefit of the group. Not friendly, just civil. And I also want to discuss the terms of our separation. Things are awkward and I think that's unpleasant and I think we should just split the school down the middle and problem solved! It's great really because our lives are so separate anyway and besides Glee and infrequent religious celebrations that we both need to attend, we have hardly anything in common. You have can keep everything football-related and popular, I can keep everything that resembles culture in this town and we'll never have to see each other more than necessary."
Puck thinks this idea of hers sounds a lot like a divorce settlement. Before he can piss her off by asking about every inch of the school, person they know and extra-curricular activity they could possibly ever sign up for she opens her bag and whips out a sheet with everything (everything) jotted down into either a Rachel List or a Noah List. It annoys him to find out that he still is affected by the way she calls him Noah.
"Who gets Kurt?" It's the first thing he says during the whole conversation and he knows it's so out of left field that Rachel kind of just stares at him a little bug-eyed, her mouth opening and closing without any sound coming out. He doesn't know what it means when you find something equally amusing and arousing.
"What do you mean?" she finally spits out.
"Well, you said I can get the athletic and popular stuff, and Kurt is a vital member of the football team, so that means I get to keep him."
"You spent two years throwing him into a dumpster!" she stage-whispers.
"So?" He's not going to apologize for that. He threw Kurt into dumpsters when he felt like the little squirt deserved it. Just because that feeling hasn't crept up on him in a while, it doesn't mean he's changed or anything. Besides, the last (and only) time he gave someone a heartfelt apology, she dumped him the next day. The bitch.
Of course, she doesn't give up easily.
"You can't have Kurt! I need him. He is my kindred spirit in all matters of musical theatre and divahood!"
"That is not a word!" Someone at some point in her life is going to have to put her in her place and just flat out tell her that she can't just go around expecting to get everything she wants. And if this also has to do with the fact that Kurt has really grown on him the last few months, well, that's not really important.
They continue to bicker in hushed tones until they finally decide to share Kurt in the end. It takes Kurt about three weeks to notice that on Mondays and Thursdays, Rachel usually asks him to go shopping or come over and on Tuesdays and Fridays after football practice, Puck gives him a lift home that usually ends with Puck and his father dragging him out to the backyard to toss a football around. Kurt wants to mention this bizarre cycle to someone but he feels crazy just thinking it.
And so that's how it goes for about a month. Rachel is still Rachel Berry, and he is still Noah Puckerman and if they've changed at all since that time they spent together, at least none of their friends will know why. Rachel hasn't said a word about it because she doesn't want Finn to think she's fickle enough to jump from his to his best friend and back again. Puck hasn't said anything because... well, because.
So he finds himself in an unenviable position. His best friend's girlfriend is pregnant with his child and his ex-girlfriend (sort of, but not really) is just plain retarded for said best friend. He thinks he can grow to not care about the first thing and he knows he doesn't give a shit about the second, so whenever either thought pops into his head he chases it away and tries to just focus on putting one foot in front of the other for the next ten minutes.
He also knows that he is lying to himself and he cares about both of these things. A lot. He's kind of happy, though, that he still cares about this unborn, unknown child because that means there has to be something inside of him that is worthy of loving and being loved in return. He's kind of scared to let himself think about what the thing with Rachel means.
One afternoon, Mr. Schue decides to partner everyone off to have a little friendly duet competition. He's happy to be paired with Tina, because a few weeks ago she wore a Rolling Stones T-shirt to practice and he happens to own the exact same one. He's never had the opportunity to tell her this, but now he can probably work it into the conversation without sounding crazy. For some reason, this makes his day.
What is Glee doing to him?
When they perform their duet of You Can't Always Get What You Want (in matching band T-shirts) they're not the best, but they have a blast.
"It's all thanks to Tina's killer voice," he concedes when Mr. S congratulates them. "And her superior taste in music, obviously."
Tina's blushing and Mr. Schuester looks kind of proud of him. He hopes Quinn sees this.
He hopes Rachel sees this, too.
This awkward dance they do around each other every day at school does not go completely unnoticed by the Glee club. But Rachel Berry is prone to insane behaviour. So they just shrug their shoulders and wonder idly how Puck is caught up in all the crazy.
They are not friends and not enemies. Just two people who have a shared interest in the relationship of two other people. That is all. So when he finds her crying in the choir room on day after practice, he leaves without saying anything.
He gets all the way to his pick-up before turning around and going back. She is still there. And still crying.
He's scared she'll push him away when he goes to sit by her but she just throws herself into his lap and keeps sobbing.
"Is, uh, this about Finn?" he asks tentatively.
She makes a messy gurgling noise against his chest and nods. He tries not to think about the state of his T-shirt.
When she finally pulls herself together, she looks up at him shyly.
"You can cry about Quinn now, if you want." The look he gives her makes her laugh so hard that she snorts, and then he starts laughing at her and he forgets why he decided he didn't want to be her friend.
Now they do things together, sometimes. Nothing important and nothing meaningful.
Pool season is over, so he starts raking leaves and doing other odd jobs to keep his business afloat. And if the house is far enough from everyone they know, he texts her the address and she shows up with hot cocoa and sings and prattles on while he works. It makes it go by faster. He pays her back by letting her jump into the huge piles of leaves he makes.
Rachel thinks it's glamorous to have a clandestine friendship. Puck thinks it's a lot of hard work.
Puck's mom works a double-shift every week on Sundays, which means he needs to stay home and watch his sister. He's pretty sure if left alone she'll set the house on fire, so he does it more for the roof over his head than anything.
It's on one of these days that he calls Rachel, out of boredom and asks her if she wants to maybe come over.
She shows up with DVDs and fresh baked cookies. When he goes to grab one, she smacks his hand away. Hard.
"These are for your sister," she explains primly.
"Well, sucks for her because I locked her in her room." What did Rachel think babysitting meant, exactly? Deborah is in her room. The matches are in the kitchen. His job is done.
He grabs the plate of cookies before she can protest and marches her upstairs to his bedroom.
She looks around a little bit, and he sort of feels like an animal on display at the zoo. He sits on the bed and waits for her to join him but she just stands there awkwardly.
"Last time we were on a bed things got..." she trails off. "Things got, you know... weird."
Except he says "hot" at the same time she says "weird," so now things are weird. And not hot. Much.
She sits down at the foot of the bed and plays with a loose thread on his comforter.
"It was pretty hot, too," she grins shyly.
"Shut up, Berry." And Puck thwacks her with a pillow, but he's smiling when he does it.
So in addition to their random time together when he works, Rachel spends almost every Sunday at his house. She stops complaining about what he does to his sister, but she always shows up with treats and books and her favourite CDs that he shoves into Deborah's room.
They hang out almost exclusively in his room, which is weird because they theoretically have the whole house to themselves. But he is not going to complain about having Rachel in his bed. Except when she starts fidgeting and arranging pillows and he has to hit her with one to get her to stop.
She tries getting him to talk about Quinn but besides not wanting to he doesn't really know what to say. She loves talking about Finn, though. Some days she thinks she might love him. Other days she really doesn't understand what she ever saw in him. She makes Puck help her dissect every sentence Finn utters that week, and sometimes she even re-enacts a few scenes. He refuses to play Finn when she does this so she always uses his old giant Teddy bear Mr. Wiggles. He brings him out every Sunday before Rachel gets there in case she needs her co-star to help her explain the latest drama, but he doesn't tell her that ever since the bear became their "Finn", Puck keeps him in the back of the closet the rest of the week.
It's all very confusing and sometimes he finds himself wording the perfect break-up in his head when she's talking away, even though they aren't actually together. It's too much to handle and he wants it to stop.
And then she says something like "How does it feel to have a best friend?" all innocently, as if she truly just wants to know and thinks she never will and it would break his heart if he thought he had one.
Except he does know he has one because it is breaking.
The first time he kisses her since the last time he kissed her is in his truck, parked in front of her house. He's driven her home and he doesn't really understand the nervous feeling in his gut because logic dictates that this just shouldn't be happening.
It is not normal that he feels this way about someone he has already dated.
"Well, here we are," he mutters.
"Yeah," she responds quietly. Her hand is playing with the hem of her short skirt, and she's showing more and more thigh. She sounds kind of nervous, which means he's either projecting his thoughts a little too clearly or she's having some thoughts of her own too.
"I should... go, I guess."
"Fuck it," he exclaims. He puts his hand behind her head and kisses her. Just like that. And much like the first time (second, third, fourth) she's right there with him, just giving it her all.
"This is crazy," she whispers against his lips.
No, this is illogical.
But if anyone can bend logic to her will, it's Rachel Berry.
The next day at school, he doesn't know if she's going to pretend that it didn't happen. Or worse, assume they're back together. (That's worse, right?) She does neither. She gives him the same hello as she does the rest of the Glee kids, but when everyone's not looking she gives him a little smile and then licks her lips. Instant boner.
They don't get a moment alone together all practice, but she's waiting for him at his truck and she hops in before he actually offers her a ride.
"We kissed yesterday." He doesn't know if that's a question or not, so he nods.
"I enjoyed it. Immensely. I think we should do it again. Frequently."
So they do. Sneaking by her fathers is easy because they are so trusting. Sneaking past his mother is easy because she's always busy.
They start by making out. It's hot and heavy and he doesn't want to stop and one day she just... doesn't stop him. They don't have sex but they do cover all the bases and it's just as, if not more, erotic than most of his actual sexual escapades.
It's so different from the Cheerios who made him bend over backwards just to feel worthy of them and the cougars who did anything and everything to please him. And that's a good thing, he knows, because after a while both worshipping and being worshipped get pretty boring.
When Rachel Berry is in his bed, it is never boring.
One afternoon, she comes in sniping and sarcastic and he makes a crack about PMS that just sends her through the roof so they spend about an hour arguing and it gets uglier and nastier until he finally throws her onto the bed to prevent the both of them from saying something that could possibly lead to a homicide. But he's still so upset at her that when he pulls her panties down he decides he's going to give her the biggest orgasm of her life, just because. He is unrelenting and unmerciful. Near the end of it, her head is thrashing from one side of the bed to the other and he thinks she might actually rip one of his ears off so he slides back up her body and puts his fingers to work, which works out well 'cause now he can smirk down at her as he watches her fall apart. Once she stops trembling, she's too drained and out of it to even try to see to his needs but that's alright. For the first time in three years, Puck has come in his pants.
This does nothing, of course, to help the situation he is in. Quinn is still pregnant. But, and he doesn't know when exactly this has happened, that's sort of the extent of it where she's concerned. He's relieved to not be into his best friend's girlfriend anymore. But now that he can admit to himself that's he's into Rachel, it just means the object of his affection is, once again, in love with Finn Hudson. Sometimes it's hard not to hate the guy.
He doesn't remember when they start playing The Honesty Game, but he does remember the day Rachel names it that, because that's also the day he vows he'll never play again.
(This lasts a week and a half.)
In between making out and singing, they realize they don't have much else in common to talk about. She prattles on about musicals and Broadway stars while he fixates on how the different ways she positions herself on the bed alter the appearance of her breasts. He describes, in detail, his perfect car as she discovers new ways to plait her hair. It's in this empty conversational void that they slowly start talking about the things you aren't supposed to talk about. Their bedrooms become these makeshift confessionals and Puck likes to pretend that he doesn't enjoy it as much as the physical stuff and Rachel likes letting him even though she knows better.
There's an unspoken understanding that they won't judge each other, but Rachel breaks it every time she feels as though his thoughts and opinions are questionable at best and how does she expect him to open up if she just plain tells him he's wrong for feeling a certain way and who is she to say that Ms. Pillsbury is probably not a freak in bed? There's also an unspoken understanding that everything discussed must be 100% true. Puck breaks this rule about 50% of the time, but he doesn't really feel bad because he knows Rachel can tell when he's lying, and the thought both comforts and frightens him at the same time.
Sometimes they talk about the other Glee kids, and Puck is the only person in the world who knows that sometimes Rachel hates Mercedes. Most of the time she loves her, but when Mercedes starts going on about going in new directions and mixing things up, a small part of Rachel wants to just tell her to shut up. When it all comes out, Rachel puts her hands to her mouth and her eyes tear up and she looks as though she's just murdered a kitten. Puck feels that it takes an inordinate amount of time to try to explain to her that this is normal. There are tons of people that Puck hates for no reason and Rachel just bawls into her hands when he tells her this and says "Well yes, but I don't want to be like you." He lets her get away with it because 1) no judgement and 2) can you blame her?
They once spend a whole afternoon discussing their parents. Rachel loves her fathers dearly, but she's always wanted to know what it would feel like to have a mother. She feels that these thoughts are a horrible betrayal to her parents so she only shares them with him. Puck, in turn, is envious of her doting dads, and would gladly share the sentiment with his own father if ever given the opportunity.
He doesn't think it's crazy to assume The Honesty Game will give him the perfect opportunity to discuss the paternity of Quinn's baby. Except once again he underestimates Rachel Berry (he wonders when he'll stop doing that) and she shows up at his locker one day and simply tells him it won't be long before Finn tells another person about the Fabrays' Miracle Fertility Jacuzzi before walking off.
He jogs after her, and tries to make her stop and talk to him but she is stubborn in her avoidance of him. So waits for them to reach the parking lot, takes a deep breath, puts one hand over balls and wraps the other one around Rachel's knees and hoists her over his shoulder.
"You put me down this instant, Noah Puckerman!" She concludes her demand with a swift kick to his groin and he's glad he had the foresight to protect his manhood because Rachel Berry can spot a weakness a mile away and she never hesitates to go for the jugular, so to speak.
She struggles the whole way to his pickup but he gets her in and locks the doors and does his best to explain himself.
"I'm not mad that you slept with Quinn. I just don't understand lying about it."
"It's Quinn's idea," he mumbles. He knows it sounds like a cop-out but he figures the truth is probably his best bet right now. "She thinks Finn will be a better father so she told me that I won't have anything to do with the baby, even though I offered to help."
Rachel gets her sad puppy dog face, and he hopes that it means she feels bad enough for him that she's no longer mad, but he's wrong. She pats him on the thigh and then gets out of his truck.
The next day, Rachel asks Quinn to wait as they're exiting the choir room because she has to speak with her. Nobody cares enough to eavesdrop but Puck. Rachel, however, isn't stupid and has picked the sound-proof room for a reason. He can't tell what they're saying but at one point Rachel's arms just start going everywhere and he can tell she is just letting Quinn have it.
He's feeling a lot of things right now. He's worried that Quinn will get stressed out and it'll hurt the baby. He's scared that Quinn will be mad at him for telling Rachel about the secret (even though he didn't). He feels kind of tingly when he considers the possibility that Rachel is telling the cheerleader to stay away from her man. He gets excited thinking about them getting so worked up and then kissing each other.
Just like that, Rachel stops berating Quinn and just walks toward the door. Puck doesn't have time to hide, but she walks out of the classroom and just gives him a Look and then looks pointedly at the door.
He gets the message, and is too scared to question it so he waits for her to walk away and then walks into the choir room. Quinn is standing in the middle of the room, biting her lip. Puck takes a seat on the piano bench and just waits. She looks like she's having some sort of internal debate and after about a minute she stiffens her shoulders and walks toward him purposefully.
"Quinn..." he begins, but now he realizes what Rachel was yelling at her about because she just grabs his right hand and gently places it on her stomach and whatever he planned on saying just gets lost in the moment he feels his daughter poking from inside there and he breaks down then and there. He wraps his arms around her waist and pulls her to him so he can sob against her distended stomach and he feels her crying softly and it's a while before either of them even tries to stop.
He drives her home, and when he pulls up to the driveway she shyly pulls out a sonogram picture that he later tapes to the inside of his wallet where he knows it can't fall out.
"Are you dating Rachel Berry?" There's no accusation or judgement in her voice. Still, he decides to choose his words carefully.
"We're not dating." And they aren't. Dating implies things he can't even bring himself to say out loud, let alone act on.
"Rachel Berry is a crazy person," she says, opening the passenger door to get out.
"I know," he responds simply. Because he does know.
"And you're even crazier if you don't go fix this with her." She has her arms crossed, her hip tilted and her face set on Bitch and even though she's no longer what he wants, his heart bursts a little with happiness to know that no amount of impending motherhood or Glee has changed the flinty essence of Quinn Fabray.
"I know." And he drives off. And goes straight home.
He spends a week avoiding her. Not really, but it makes him feel better to tell himself so. The truth is she is avoiding him.
She surrounds herself with friends at all times and she signs up for a tutoring program so that every spare minute she has is scheduled.
He corners her one day in the cafeteria. He walks up behind and just whispers into her ear.
"I guess plans for fame and Broadway don't usually include sexy single dads," he says in the most self-deprecating way possible. He wants to sound pathetic, not judgmental.
He knows this is a cheap shot but, well, he is honest enough with himself to admit that he is not above this sort of thing. He leaves before he can see her reaction and he's more than a little surprised to find her waiting by his truck after school.
"Every plan should feature a sexy single dad," she assures him before kissing him.
He calls her the night he tells his mother that she is going to be a grandmother.
It goes... not well. But it's done, and he wins points with his vehement oath to do everything he can for the baby. His mom sobs through most of it and alternates between hugging him and running her hands over her face. It's probably one of the worst nights in his young life.
He goes up to his room to give his mother some time to think and he calls Rachel from there. He tells her everything, and she offers to come over.
"Thank you for offering, but I just really want to go to sleep." He hopes she isn't offended but he's too drained to really care that much.
"Totally understandable," she assures him. "I can sing you to sleep for you if you like," she adds shyly.
"Yeah, I'd like that," he says, laying himself down with the phone cradled on the side of his face.
She sings him a lullaby and, like everything else she sings, it's impossibly beautiful. When he starts crying she just sings louder and he thinks he might love her.
He goes to see her after the ordeal of having to tell Finn the truth.
Quinn does most of the talking, and crying. Puck just waits for the punches to start flying. And they do. But Finn cries more than he hits and at one point Puck just hates himself. Finn kicks them both out of the house and when he makes sure Quinn is safely home he heads over to the Berry household.
She holds him and tells him soothing things. Her fathers will be home soon so she kisses him goodbye and it galvanizes him even though he distinctly remembers hating her, once.
She walks him to his car, and as he drives off he pretends not to see her car back out of her driveway and head toward Finn's house in his rear-view mirror.
This thing between Finn and Quinn and himself is tearing the group apart. Santana is always looking for reasons so hate him, so she is all over this recently divulged indiscretion. Britney is angry at both him and Finn for making Quinn so sad. Mike and Matt refuse to take sides, and the original Gleeks say the same thing but he know if forced they will chose their leading man. He doesn't blame them.
Rachel tries to keep it all together. She offers him a ride home one day, because his truck is in the shop. Instead of taking him to his place, however, she drives him to Finn's house and just tells him to text her when he's made up with his best friend.
It doesn't take long for them to hash out their problems. Finn has had years to learn how to interpret Puck's sparse words.
"I'm sorry." Finn cries and hugs him. But Puck just doesn't want Finn to forgive him, he wants him to understand.
"You're the father, too, you know." And Finn understands what Puck is trying to say, and it's fitting that these two boys who never really had fathers to look up are going to learn how to do it together.
This is already getting uncomfortably cheesy for Puck but there's one last thing he needs to clear up.
"Quinn misses you."
"You mean you two aren't... you know," Finn trails off.
"No!" He realizes he might have been a little too intense in his denial but Quinn has been bugging him for days to help her get Finn back, and well, he did swear to help her any way he could. "She loves you, man. She fucked up. We both did. But you're her first choice. Always were."
"She cheated on me."
"Well, how do you explain your whole thing with Rachel?" His skin crawls just thinking about Finn and Rachel's thing, let alone speaking about it out loud. But he gets his point across because Finn has that pensive look on his face, the one that makes him look constipated, and he knows it's only a matter of time before his Baby Mama gets her man back.
They celebrate their rekindled friendship by drinking beers in Finn's garage and coming up with great baby names. They eventually reach the drunken stage where they feel that their genius deserves to be shared with the world, so they run (stumble) over to Quinn's house with a list that basically amounts to random household items and funny sounding words.
First Quinn yells. And then she laughs. And then she starts crying.
"I'm... not... naming... my... baby... Spatula," she hiccups. But there's a fondness in her voice when she says it. Finn rubs her back slowly, and his voice says "Ok," but his eyes say "We have months to change your mind."
Puck starts feeling uncomfortable watching them. It must be awkward enough for them to try to find their way back to each other without him standing right there, so he quietly grabs his jacket and walks toward the door as Finn wipes a tear from Quinn's face with his thumb.
He looks over his shoulder before stepping out, and Quinn looks at him and gives him a little nod. He doesn't know if it's a thank you for getting Finn there, or an acknowledgement that she knows who he's going to meet and that she approves.
He calls Rachel and asks her to come pick him up at Quinn's house and when all he gets in response is "fine" he knows she's going to blow this out of proportion.
"How's the love of your life and mother of your unborn child?" she asks when he gets in. Ah, there it is.
Her hands are gripping the steering wheel so hard her knuckles are white.
"She's probably making out with Finn Hudson at this very moment."
"Oh," she answers.
"Oh. Is that an 'I'm sorry I jumped up your ass for going to see someone who, whether I like it or not, is now an important part of your life, despite knowing, because I've been told a million times, that you harbour no romantic feelings for her' kind of oh?"
Her grip on the steering wheel loosens, but she doesn't answer or even look him in the eye.
"Or it's one of those 'The guy I'm still hung up on is back with his pregnant girlfriend' ohs," he says quietly. "Right. Later."
He gets out of the car before she says anything and starts walking down the street. The alcohol is helping against the cold but doing nothing for the pain. And then it starts to rain. Obviously.
He hears her car following slowly behind him. And then he hears her voice yelling at him through the open passenger window.
"Please get back in the car! Noah, it's raining!" As if he didn't notice. "Think of what this will do to your vocal chords!"
And then her car stops, and he keeps walking. She had to stop following him eventually; he just didn't think she would stop so soon. No use chasing after a disappointment, he guesses.
And then she tackles him from behind. She's so small that all she does is jump and cling onto his back but she refuses to let go.
"Rachel, get off me!"
He knows if he tries he can get her off easily but he's not upset enough to actually risk hurting her. So he stops struggling and promises to get in the car and she climbs down him like a monkey.
He asks her to drive him home but she doesn't listen. She drags him up to her room and starts towelling him off. And then she starts peeling her clothes off. And when she's done she starts on his.
"What are you doing?"
"We'll catch a cold in these wet clothes and then we can't perform." She's unbuckling his belt and he has to keep reminding himself that he is very upset with her. "Besides, you're always much more agreeable when we're unclothed."
"No, you look Noah Puckerman," she interrupts, poking him in his bare chest. "You left without giving me a chance to explain!"
She starts walking from one side of the room to the other, and he's having a difficult time focusing on what she's saying as he's watching he strut around in her wet underwear.
"...and then I just kind of panicked because do you know what this means? This means that Finn and Quinn are back together and probably for good and there was a time that this would have killed me but it hasn't."
Wait, what? He's missed something. Focus!
"I find myself ok with Finn being with her. And helping her raise the baby. Helping you raise that baby."
He tries to keep the big grin off his face at these words, but he can't so he just stares down at the floor.
"But..." Rachel stops to stand in front of him, and wrings her hands looking worried. Here it comes.
"But even though I'm so happy that you and Quinn and Finn have all worked things out, I wonder where I fit into all of this. And I know that's probably the creepiest thing I can possibly say, you know, hi can I help raise your child? But you three have known each other for years and you know how to make this work. I believe in you, all of you. And you're going to be great and this child is going to be star, I can feel it."
Now he gets it. She's worried there's no place for her in his new little dysfunctional family. He can't blame her really. It must be hard having a secret boyfriend who's an expecting father. But she must be stupid if she assumes the three of them are going to make it without her. Who's going to make sure the baby eats all four different food groups? He's pretty sure Finn doesn't even know what they are. And come to think of it, what are they? Who's going to make him feel as though he can actually take care of another human being? Who is he going to kiss and touch and be with? But he doesn't say any of this to her.
"Will you teach my daughter how to sing?" he asks quietly. Rachel eyes tear up and she launches herself into his lap, and he smirks as she peppers kisses all over his face and neck.
Being with Rachel may be like navigating a minefield, but he feels like he's got a pretty good map.
They toy with the idea of coming out to their friends, but ultimately decide against it. What is there to say really?
"Hey guys. Rachel and I are kind of in a thing. She's not my girlfriend or anything. But it's something and it's important and no one else gets to touch her, especially the way I get to touch her. And I'm off limits, too. But this isn't a relationship."
"You're off-limits too?" she asks lightly, after he delivers his hypothetical monologue.
"Hmmm, you're right," he concedes, crawling down next to her on his bed. "I'll take that part out. No point causing mass suicide among McKinley's female population."
"No. I like that part. Keep it in."
"I'm not actually going to say this, you realize that right?'
"I know. But I like that you think it." She turns onto her side and throws her leg over his. "They're smart. They'll figure it out on their own, eventually."
And so there they are. Standing in a room of friends, family and strangers and everyone's just waiting for something that he isn't sure is coming. An explanation, probably.
For the first time since Debbie opened her big, fat mouth, he lets himself look at Rachel's face. She has that furrowed look on her face and he lets out a breath he didn't know he had been holding. It's the same look she gets when she's about to tackle some sort of problem, Rachel Berry-style. It works about half the time.
But he guesses that her way of solving problems did manage to get him a daughter. And now that he thinks about it, he got Rachel Berry because of it, too. So he decides that he's going to let her handle any other life crisis that comes along in the near (and far) future. She is his Ms. Fix-It (Break-It, Fix-It Again.)
She puts down her wineglass, and walks toward him. Everyone between them sort of jumps out of the way, and when she finally gets to his side she turns to face the room. He hates to admit it but a part of him is waiting for her to blame this all on him.
She takes a deep breath and he swears everyone just leans forward in anticipation. Kurt's practically clutching at his pant leg like a puppy. The whole room is just waiting for Rachel to speak (Well, Quinn is cutting herself a second piece of chocolate cake but cravings wait for no man)
And then Rachel brings the back of her hand to her forehead, sways lightly from side to side and then literally fucking swoons backwards. It's so over the top and so Rachel Berry that he's already laughing when he catches her. Nobody interrupts her performance because they she'd just cut them or something
"I guess she's not feeling well, I'd better get her out of here, great party guys," he rushes. He wobbles a little as he carries her toward the door because she is a dead weight in his arms ("You always have to commit to a role, Noah") but he pays her back by making sure her head lightly bangs into a cymbal on Finn's drum kit.
Nobody stops them and tomorrow will probably suck but right now he's feeling pretty perfect.
But he hopes she isn't too mad about the cymbal thing.