Resolutions
(or four songs Rachel and Puck hear each other sing and one song they sing together)

A.N.: Multi-chap fic, in the four and one formula. Not sure that it'll happen in that many chapters though. ;) Also, due to popular demand, I think I'm going to do Noah's POV for "The End", and maybe a happier ending. Don't know if I can help myself. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: I own nothing. Not even my car.


The lights are on? Damn it, I was hoping to have the auditorium to myself, Rachel groaned inwardly. I signed up for it with Mr. Schue...

She turned to leave, but stopped in her tracks as she heard the music. It was the guitar that drew her the rest of the way in, minor harmonics and melancholy wrapping around her like a serpent.

"Broken skies, heartaches that flowers won't mend...
Say goodbye, knowing that this is the end
Tender dreams, shadows fall
Love too sweet to recall

Dry your eyes, face the dawn
Life will go on, life will go on..."

Are you kidding me? She walked further in, holding the door so it shut softly behind her as she sat in the back row of the auditorium. She listened attentively. He must be trying to find his ballad. Poor Noah...Mercedes is not an ideal partner. Not just because she calls me a diva and wants my solos. Rachel sighed. Okay, maybe because of that.

She watched Noah as he played. That broken-hearted soul is most definitely Noah, not Puck, she decided. He caressed the strings gently, coaxing rich, wistful tones from them to echo through the auditorium. For a public school that has not focused on music, the acoustics here are superb.

"All day long thought that we still had a chance
Letting go, this is the end of romance
Broken heart, find your way
Make it through just this day
Face the world on your own
Life will go on, life will go on..."

He glanced out in the direction of the football field for just a moment as Rachel watched. Hmm. She pushed a strand of hair behind her ear as she considered. Poor Noah, he must be thinking about Quinn. She tuned out the lyrics then, ignoring the uneasy feeling in her stomach, the jealous heat rising in her face, focusing solely on the performance.Good posture, good breath control...slightly flat but perhaps that's the delivery. Lots of slides and scoops. She frowned as she considered his expression. He looks so sad...She swallowed. I shouldn't be here. She looked behind her at the door. I should go. Before he notices...

"Broken heart, find your way
Make it through just this day
Face the world on your own
Life will go on, life will go on...
Life will go on, life will go on...
Life will go on, life will go on..."

He strummed the last chord and exhaled harshly, grabbing his guitar and the stool and leaving the room.

That was...She looked in the direction he'd gone. For once, I don't know what that was, Rachel frowned to herself.

Before she consciously registered what she was doing, she was on her feet and following. Where could he have gone? "Noah?" she called tentatively into the hall. Maybe he left? She looked down at her watch. Well, it's too late really to practice...She ran to her locker, grabbed her coat and bag, and exited to the parking lot.

***

He put his guitar in the passenger seat carefully, shutting the car door behind it. He leaned on it for a moment, head resting on his arm.

"Noah?" a familiar voice called. Rachel wheeled the pink backpack next to his truck. "I...are you all right?"

"What's it to you?" he asked bitterly, straightening and rounding the truck to the drivers' side.

Undeterred, she wheeled around to follow. "I...I wanted to use the auditorium, and in fact, I'd signed up to-"

"That sign in sheet is just so the janitors know when they can clean, considering you live there," he mocked. Shit, there's a sign in?

Rachel took a deep breath. There's something going on here and he's trying to push me away. "I'm your friend, Noah, I want to help. There's something going on, I can tell."

"Well keep guessing. We were never friends, Berry. Don't flatter yourself. Dating a Jewish girl made my mom happy, that's all. Now can you back away from the car? I've got enough roadkill on the windshield," he smirked.

Rachel sighed and backed up, moving slowly to her car as Puck sped away.

***

Puck slammed a hand down on the steering wheel. Can't I get a single moment of peace? He glanced in the rear view and watched Rachel watching him. Can't she just leave it alone? He sighed, banging his head against the headrest as he came to a stop sign. I'm never good enough. Not for Quinn, not for Rachel, or Glee...He frowned. Well screw them. Screw Finn and his high B, screw Quinn for thinking I'm a loser and blaming me when she came on to me, and screw Berry for (caring about me- making me feel- making me think- making me want to talk to her) stalking me, he sneered, refusing to acknowledge those other thoughts. He'd succeeded in working himself into angry righteousness by the time he walked in the door to his house, when he heard his mother's voice.

"Noah?" she called from the kitchen. "How was your day?"

Damn, can't be angry, can't let her know anything's wrong. "Fine, Ma, just got out late from Glee." Haven't gotten anyone pregnant or been told to back off my child or been sexting or blew off someone trying to give a shit about me...

Mady Puckerman stuck her head out around the kitchen door. "I have to say, Noah, I'm thrilled you're putting all those guitar lessons to use. Have you played any piano yet?"

Not a chance. "No, Ma, no piano. I..."

She sighed, gesturing him closer with a spatula.

Oh hell...I should just go to my room...With a theatrical sigh, he approached.

As expected, she laid a kiss on his cheek. "I know, my heart. I just hope -"

Noah shook her off. "No way, Ma. No piano."

Mady sighed and rolled her eyes. "All right, all right. There'll be dinner if you want."

She looks so hopeful..."Yeah, I'll be down in a few."

"Really?" The question slipped out before Mady could stop herself. She clapped a hand over her mouth and laughed. "Noah Puckerman, I think this is the first day off in three years we're going to have dinner together."

He rolled his eyes. "All right, whatever, sure. Hey, where's Lily?"

"Girl Scouts, she'll be back around 8."

Maybe I should've picked another day to have dinner...Now she's just going to give me the third degree..."Uh...actually, Ma..."

Mady shook the spatula in his face. "Don't even think about it. I expect you down in 15 minutes, young man."

Aw crap. He trudged up the stairs, quickly showered, changed and returned to the table. Wow, really? "Blintzes, Ma? Special occasion?"

She smiled as she put the strawberry syrup down on the table. "I was hoping you'd be home. I remember these are your favorite, and I haven't made them since..." Mady sighed.

I hate when she thinks about him. Noah placed his hand over hers. "Thanks, Ma."

She looked at him with a tearful smile. "Oh, Noah...I just hope I've done right by you. I know I give you grief about finding a nice Jewish girl, but it's only because I love you."

"I found one, but she's nuts," he muttered absently around a mouthful of blintz. Oh crap. He shoveled another forkful into his mouth. Please don't let her –

"You did?" Her eyes wide with interest, Mady leaned forward and slid his plate out from under his fork.

"Hey!" That is so not cool, Rachel Berry messes up everything! He grabbed for the plate, only to relinquish his grip at his mother's challenge. I am not risking blintzes falling on the floor. "She's no one, Ma, I tried and –"

"You tried? You dated a Jewish girl and never told me?" Mady narrowed her eyes at her son. "Were you an idiot, Noah?"

"Hey!" he protested. Geez, thanks for the support, Ma. "What makes you think it was me?"

Mady sighed fondly, sliding the blintzes back to him. "Oh, Noah...I love you, you're my son, but when it comes to the women...you tend to pick ones that are no good for you." She narrowed her eyes at him again with a frown. "Don't think I don't notice how many different lipsticks end up on your collars. It's nearly impossible to get Tuesday afternoon's out of your shirt."

Mrs. Norman, that deep ruby red...Noah shook his head. Don't think about that. He swallowed and met his mother's gaze briefly. "Sorry."

She sighed again, sadly this time, and placed her hand over the one of his not busily stuffing his face. "Noah, I want what's best for you. All I can say is, if she really is a nice girl, then maybe that might be an improvement. Does she care about you? Does she seem to want what's best for you? Do you feel like a better man with her? That's what I want for you, not those panthers –"

"Cougars," Noah said, his speech bypassing his brain again. Oh, dude, seriously? Did I just correct my mom about the term cougars? Not cool...

"-- or whatever!" Mady concluded. "I want you to be with someone close to your own age, who makes you feel like you can be a better person." Her eyes went vague as she added softly, "Definitely not one who makes you feel like less of yourself."

Aw shit...Noah sighed, putting his fork down reluctantly and rising to round the table and give his mother a hug. "I know, Ma, and I swear, someday, I will. It's just...right now..."

She lifted her head to kiss his cheek. "I know, right now it's not so important to you, you have your whole life ahead of you. I know, Noah. I just want you to know that you deserve that. Fair?"

He kissed the top of her head and sat back down. "Fair," he answered.

They finished their blintzes in peace.

***

Rachel sighed, setting her hairbrush down after her requisite hundred strokes. Why is it every time I try to help that boy, I end up messing it up worse? She slathered moisturizer on her face, twisting back and forth in the mirror to scrutinize every pore. She stopped and stared herself down in the mirror. What are you trying to prove, Rachel? Whether or not he's second best to you, you're second best to him.

She crossed to her laptop, determined. Four simple words, every morning. She printed out the page with a satisfied sigh.

The Sectionals sign in front of her elliptical was momentarily eclipsed by the words, LEAVE NOAH PUCKERMAN ALONE.


Musical note: Noah is singing "Life Will Go On" by Chris Isaak.

A.N: Well, that's one song down. :) Let me know what you think! I had never intended on writing anything with Puck's mom, but she kind of just showed up. Hope you didn't mind. :)