disclaimer: not mine

omfg, I can't believe it, two chapters in ONE NIGHT. i just had the urge to get this out after posting the last chapter. this isn't really a flashback, more like a brief glimpse at what Rachel and puck's relationship was like. enjoy!

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The day that Rachel tries to break up with Noah turns out to be the day their relationship changes from something they fell into, becoming something they want. That day on the bleachers they realize the people they are both so desperately pining for are not available to them and might never be and they look at each other, really look at each other for the first time. Rachel sees a man, a good man, trying so hard to be a boy. She sees deeply buried pain and a desperate desire to be wanted. And she thinks about how he sang "Sweet Caroline" for her and decides that she can deal with a dirty mouth and a Mohawk and another boy who wants for Quinn Fabray if that same boy can sing to her like that. So she links her hand in his and they sit together, knowing that nothing will be the same after this and maybe that's not such a bad thing.

And despite the shocked expressions of everyone in glee, and the flack he gets from the football players and the stares they receive in the hallway, they work. They work in a very strange way. Noah doesn't talk much so it's easy for Rachel to fill his silences, and she overreacts easily and his no-bullshit approach to life mellows her out some. Her dads get over the bad boy image rather quickly and his mom's gaze goes immediately to her Star of David necklace the first time they meet and by the end of the night she is showing Rachel her old wedding dress and asking her what size she is.

When the news comes out that Finn's baby is really Puck's, Rachel slaps him and runs out of school crying. She doesn't talk to him for three weeks. But he slips notes into her locker and stands outside her window playing his guitar (which really doesn't help with the lawsuit) and then one day in glee he shocks her with a rendition of "Maria" form West Side Story but he sings he Maria's name with hers and even though there aren't enough syllables its so beautiful she cries. She doesn't forgive him on the spot, it takes a while before she really trusts him again, but she knows that he was scared and confused and hurt and they get there eventually.

She holds him while he cries the night his daughter's adoptive parents take her and get on a plane to the other side of the country. She strokes his hair and whisper sin his ear what a good life his daughter will have, how much she'll be loved and how he is doing the best thing he can for her. She cries with him, mourns that she will never know his daughter, never get to see him be the amazing father she knows he would have been.

They make love for the first time in their junior year, a couple weeks shy of their one year anniversary. It's a random Saturday night when her parents are out of town and she doesn't plan for it to happen. But he's napping and whispers that he love her in his sleep and she just can't herself because he has become her entire world in the span of a year and she wants to be with hi in every way she can. It is awkward and uncomfortable at the beginning but he knows what he's doing and soon she is panting his name and god, that things he does with his fingers is amazing and afterwards shyly asks if they can do it again and he laughs loudly and kisses her and they stay in her bed for the rest of the weekend. Her dads are not pleased when they arrive home early to surprise her.

Everything is perfect and she loves him so much she can't understand it, it makes no sense why all her happiness should be tied up in this one person, this stubborn, infuriating manboy who used to throw slushies in her face. But love isn't supposed to make sense. So she decides that he is worth delaying her dream a few years. And when she has her moment of doubt as she puts the envelope with the check in the mailbox she thinks, again, of "Sweet Caroline" and their clasped hands that day on the bleachers and knows, knows deep in her gut that this is right. And so she tells him they are going to college together and she is so happy and heā€¦isn't. And she doesn't know why but she pushes it out of her mind and less than two months later he's gone.