A.N. I've never written fan fiction before. I just needed to get over the fact that the writers ended the Rachel and Puck pairing in one episode and all signs point to the rest of the season as Puckelberry-free. (Sorry, I couldn't help using one of the cheesy names.) I'm setting this story in Rachel's junior year, so that the writers can get everything out of their systems for the first season, and I can hope that Rachel and Puck can have some angsty, awkward, and romantic encounters with less subtle reactions (compared to "Mash-Up") from the other characters in the anticipated Season 2. Since I don't have creative writing experience (since high school), I'm not sure if this is up to par, and so if there's no interest, I won't post any more of my musings on this. This story has the potential to be extended to a few chapters to fill in the blanks, get into the romantic relationships and friendships, and explore the perspectives of multiple characters.

Disclaimer: I do not own Glee.

November, Junior Year

There he was, arguing with Rachel Berry, diva-wannabe, in the choir room. And right before Break. Lately he was actually putting forth some effort into being less of an ass than usual. Thanksgiving Break of Puck's junior year was supposed to drastically different from last year's. Despite everything that had happened, he was still the hot football stud whose exploits were the stuff of legends, right? Boy, does she know how to ruin a good thing. Maybe that's a bit much coming from him, Puck thought, as he is admittedly a master at ruining good things, ruining anything. His thoughts turn down depressing paths, but he stops them effectively. But hell, he thinks, she's always "a bit much" too and has been known to leave a wake of destruction behind her, even if she's this tiny thing so that her wake is smaller than his. She's still quite a force. (And he's not thinking of her this way with any hint of admiration. Never. He wouldn't even think the words "wake of destruction" except for the comic book stage that he had recently mostly grown out of but held onto because they'd obviously be worth money someday. So he could picture a comic book version of Rachel with a flattened stretch of New York City behind her as she clutched her Tony award. He could see a cartoon version of Puck with his awesome nunchucks. Women screaming, babies crying, bombs exploding, the works—in a much larger expanse of destruction that he left behind him as he followed Rachel's smaller path. Not that he would be chasing after her or anything. Everyone had gone through a lot of shit that started last year, so he wasn't happy to think about all of the damage he's caused. He just has to suck it up and deal with it.)

Most of the time, he actually enjoys their argumentative banter, but this was bordering on a real fight. Normally it's fun to tease her and watch her skin turn from that golden color to flushed red and see her eyes flashing with mischief as she counters back. Hey, he was thinking about verbal teasing, but it was fun to tease her in other ways too, and now his mind is following that path. His eyes must have glazed over or his expression must have changed in some way because suddenly tiny fingers were snapping in his face.

"Noah Puckerman! Are you even listening to me?!"

Before he could respond with an appropriately smooth and sarcastic retort, he heard Kurt's voice.

"And just what are we interrupting here?" Kurt said with the wide smile he gets when he hears some delicious gossip. Puck noticed that Mercedes was standing next to Kurt with her eyebrows raised. Artie was just rolling in with Tina not far behind.

Puck didn't say anything. He took a step back from Rachel because she had moved right up to him during her finger snapping moment. And maybe he had been leaning down into her a bit during his little daydream while she was yelling at him. Yeah, they must have been awkwardly close together in the eyes of the witnesses. He just turned away from Rachel and slouched into a seat in the back row. She liked to talk so much, he'd let her figure out what to say to the gleeks.

Rachel could tell that Puck would not be stepping up to answer Kurt, so she began, "I am sorry that we got so caught up in our argument. It's very unbecoming and unprofessional, and I very much regret it." She was hoping the apology would deflect attention from the fact that she didn't quite answer Kurt's question. It didn't.

"I asked what we interrupted," Kurt said pointedly.

Rachel shifted uncomfortably, and then she put on her usual act. As part of this act, she didn't call him Noah anymore. "As you can see, Puck and I had been having a heated argument." Then Rachel spoke slowly, like she was explaining something obvious, because she was. "An argument is what you interrupted, Kurt."

Kurt gave her a look that showed he was not satisfied with her answer. "An argument about…?"

"Really, I think the reasons all started at the beginning of the school year…" Rachel's voice started trailing off as she tried to remember for herself what started this mess, and she tried to buy herself some time to think while she rambled in her typical style, hoping that Mr. Schuester would arrive soon to start rehearsals.

Puck was intrigued, wondering what she would say. But he decided no good could come of whatever she would say if she was starting her explanation by describing the beginning of the year. He couldn't use the most enjoyable method of shutting her up—kissing her. So he said, "Oh, shut up, Berry. Kurt, mind your own business. Don't make a big deal out of nothing. The resident diva was just having one of her usual tantrums."

Everyone who had been observing this exchange nodded knowingly, except for Rachel, who looked at him indignantly. But that was fine with Puck since it fit the story he just gave. Besides, it was actually mostly true. He smirked back at her, pleased with his quick thinking.

Luckily, Mr. Schuester did arrive to start rehearsals, and for the rest of the day, no one thought about the odd encounter between Puck and Rachel, except for Puck and Rachel.

Start of School, Junior Year

Sophomore year had been crazy. Some of it had been good, some of it literally insane. Rachel couldn't believe how much had happened to her, and well, everyone in glee club. Who would have ever guessed that her first boyfriend would be Noah Puckerman, the jerkoff "Puck" who threw slushies in face regularly? At the beginning of that year, she imagined (hoped, dreamed!) that Finn Hudson, the popular quarterback with the sweet (if dopey) smile would be her boyfriend. At least Finn was her first kiss. Because you can't count the fourth grade, even though she would use that fourth grade kiss to tell herself she wouldn't be lying if she said she'd been kissed before. Of course, nobody ever asked. For most of sophomore year (and several years prior) she was a social outcast, but she focused on her road to stardom and tried not to let it bother her.

Rachel shook her head as she attempted to clear her mind. It's the start of a new year, and it's time to count her blessing and look forward to her accomplishing her goals. Now she had a group of friends, although they didn't all get along all of time, and she wasn't quite sure how awkward things would be after everything that happened last year. And now she had new goals. In addition to her ever-present goal of launching her own star, she now had the goal of improving the glee club as a whole so that they could beat Vocal Adrenaline, win State, and win Nationals. That's what she would focus on: maintaining friendships and reaching her musical goals. She simply didn't have the time to waste on romantic notions that she would finally be in relationship for longer than a week.

In some ways, she was glad that she spent most of the summer away from Lima by going to show choir camp. Only she and Kurt attended from glee club, so they became better friends. And she didn't have to face Finn or Noah (no, Puck!) in the aftermath of everything that happened before school ended last year. She didn't have to deal with Quinn's baby drama. She didn't have to see Puck strutting around cleaning pools shirtless and wooing housewives.

She had arrived at WMHS and was walking through the parking lot when Kurt strode up beside her and linked his arm in hers. "So, are you ready to face the new year, Miss Rachel?" Kurt asked. He was wearing a subtle outfit compared to his usual fall and winter ensembles. Designer sunglasses covered his eyes, and he wore tight dark jeans, a dark fitted t-shirt, and leather sandals, complete with a matching shoulder bag. "Kurt!" Rachel squeaked, "You look fantastic! Have you been working out?" She could feel his bicep where their arms were linked.

He flushed a little. Rachel thought this was cute considering the confident and collected attitude Kurt usually maintains.

"Yeah, I thought it would help if I decide to try out for football again—and of course the choreography in glee with all of the lifting and spinning." Then he whispered slyly, "And maybe there was a certain boy at show choir camp I tried to impress." Rachel smiled conspiratorially. Then he spoke up at his usual volume, "But I didn't realize how long it would take for the effects to really show up. I started working out in the middle of the summer during camp, but it wasn't until I got home that I started lifting weights and seeing results, so I'm not surprised that you didn't notice sooner." Kurt's face then went blank. Rachel didn't know that Kurt was remembering how happy his dad was at first to see Kurt taking an interest in something as manly as lifting weights, and then how quiet and disturbed his dad seemed by it later.

Pulling himself out of his reverie, Kurt said, "By the way, you look great today too, Rachel. I'm glad to see you're listening to some of my fashion advice."

In the past, such a comment in Kurt's typical, slightly condescending tone would have irritated Rachel. She liked her sense of style, with her cute tops, skirts, and knee socks. But Kurt, along with some animated comments from Mercedes, had convinced her that many of her outfits were too juvenile, and others were a combination of grandma's sweater with a naughty school girl's skirt that were "just off". So she had been trying to add a few fashionable pieces into her wardrobe without getting too caught up in the latest trends. She was going for classic. For the first day of school, she had chosen one of her best sundresses in a shade of emerald with a lightweight white cardigan sweater and white strappy sandals. She thanked Kurt politely, but sincerely.

Kurt spotted Mercedes and rushed over to say hello. He and Rachel parted and wished each other good luck for the first day of school, promising to catch up with each other again soon. It's not that Rachel didn't want to see Mercedes, she just realized that she needed to head to first period. And it was true that she and Mercedes did not always get along as well with each other as each girl did with Kurt. It seemed to Rachel that everyone got along with Kurt once they got to know him.

She made it to her locker in the junior hallway and hoped that this year would be better than the last. Unfortunately, Rachel's locker was near Jacob Ben-Israel's, and he hadn't given up blogging or his infatuation with Rachel. But she was relieved when all that he did today was look over at her, wiggle his eyebrows suggestively, and say, "So, Rachel, will you be my girlfriend this year, now that we're both maturing into our adult bodies?" Then he mumbled something about the independent polling company in his Dockers. Apparently he found this line very clever because he used it a lot.

All that Rachel had to say in response was, "Gross. No." and he let her walk away without further harassment. She shuddered at the way he had looked her up and down like he could see the "Rachel Berry panties" he had blackmailed her into giving him last year.

She must have closed her eyes involuntarily while she was shuddering at her memories because she walked right into the chest of a boy who had been turning the corner. A bit dazed, she looked up and began apologizing. When she realized she had just bumped into Noah (Puck!), she gasped and couldn't seem to form words.

"Did I take your breath away, Berry?" he smirked. His usual, sexy (annoying!) smirk. Rachel looked away from his well-muscled chest and beautiful (annoying!) face as she felt herself blushing. Everywhere.

"I-I'm very sorry that I ran into you." (Rachel couldn't bring herself to call him Noah or Puck, so she purposefully did not call him anything.) "If you'll excuse me, I'm heading to my first class." She began to step aside to continue on her way down the hall.

"And what class is that?" Puck asked. His tone sounded flirtatious to Rachel, but that didn't mean much because it was Puck.

"Considering that you and I are going in opposite directions, I am sure that it is a class we don't have together, and as such I am grateful for the scheduling genius of Miss Pillsbury." Rachel huffed.

"Whatever, Berry. See you in glee." He said, sounding disinterested as he started to walk past her.

"You're still in glee club this year?" Rachel couldn't hide her surprise as she whirled around. Hopefully she could hide other feelings.

He shrugged, his back was already toward her and he continued walking away.

For some reason, Rachel was torn between complete dread and eager anticipation for glee club today. As an aspiring Broadway star, she decided to give in to both feelings as they washed over her. In reality, she couldn't control them even if she wanted to, but that is not what Rachel Berry told herself as she went through her first day of junior year.

A.N. If anyone was wondering, the "Wheels" episode 9 spoiler info I used was related to "nunchucks". If the glee writers hadn't put the lines in Puck's mouth, I never would have made him channel an inner geek like that. But I couldn't resist.