Author's Note: Hey everyone, this is my first journey into the world of Glee but it's become my new obsession and this one-shot has been stuck in my head for a while. This is my best shot at the characters and events on the show; so if things are non-canon please forgive me :)

I really liked the Puck/Rachel relationship in episode eight (even if I ship Rachel/Finn as well) so I thought I'd write this. Takes place sort of around a timeline I created. So I guess you could call it AU? But the shows events will be mentioned, no worries, and so will future ones, so that world is AU. I got this idea for a couple different stories I've read, and so I'm doing my own take on it. So I don't own the idea, characters, or show, obviously ;) Warnings for mild language and slight sexual content.

Please review and thanks for checking it out!

P.S.- Title is from a All-American Reject's song (which they should totally do on Glee!) so I don't own that either.


Say it's true…

I'll never ask for anyone but you


Halloween

Rachel Berry never went out for Halloween; well not since she was in sixth grade, at least. An abundance of sugary treats would do nothing for her figure, and if she wanted to star on Broadway someday, she couldn't afford that.

Although she had to admit, while she was passing out candy since her dads were at work, she had snuck a few chocolates.

No, the real reason she never went out was because she had alienated herself from the rest of her peers. When she was a little girl, she had friends like everyone else, but they had drifted away from her, just like every other person in her life, so it seemed. She had trained herself to become career-orientated by the time she was thirteen years old. Friends never really seemed to fit into the equation.

The kids in Glee liked her best out of everybody else at McKinley. After Mr. Schue took over, the club began to feel more and more like a family to Rachel; bound together by their mutual love of music. When Brittany, Quinn, and Santana joined she knew that the rest of the kids were worried that they would be cruel to them; but Rachel was surprised that aside from the occasional snarky comment, they were fitting in quite nicely.

Then the football players joined (she didn't count Finn- to her, it felt like he always belonged with them) and they fit in. At least Mike and Matt did. Puck was still the most aloof of the four, even though Rachel knew better. Puck enjoyed Glee just as much as the rest of them; he just put up a front. A defense mechanism, of course. Rachel had been able to see brief moments where Puck was just like the rest of them.

Kurt and Mercedes had invited her over to Kurt's for a party. Despite the fact that they had their moments, Kurt, Artie, Mercedes and Tina were her true friends and would defend her if she needed it. She always felt secure that that knowledge, even if she had tried to constantly be the star, she was happy that at heart, that the original Glee members liked her.

She denied the invitation, as graciously as she could as to not offend. It wasn't their fault that she never developed the ability to handle herself in social situations as well as she wanted to. They shot her a worried look, and she thought it was because they were worried about her pursuit of Finn. They thought it was hopeless. But she knew it wasn't. After Quinn had her baby, he would realize the error of his ways and finally understand that they were meant to be. He would realize it through their duets- just like she had. That hope kept her alive.

However, Kurt surprised her.

"Puck is an ass. Don't even worry about it. He is always making eyes at Quinn anyway."

"What?! Kurt, this has nothing to do with Puck…"

"Just come out with us tonight Rachel."

What the hell made him think of Puck? They had broken up a few weeks ago, neither of their hearts committed to the relationship. Both of them were in love with someone else, people that they just could not have. Quinn was pregnant with another man's child and Finn was going to be a father. Rachel knew that it would be wrong for Finn to leave Quinn and their daughter. She would never condone it.

She knew that Puck thought the same way; but there was no point of them dating anyway. It was just a way to make two people jealous who wouldn't notice them until the baby drama was finished. It was spiteful and wrong, Rachel didn't want to play a part in it.

"Trick or Treat!" a high-pitched voice pulled her out of her thoughts.

"Noah?" she questioned, turning around to face the boy that she had just gotten done thinking about. "What are you doing here?" she asked a bit too strongly and coldly than she wanted. She didn't even see the girl holding his hand, all she could see was his stoic face and all she could do was hold in her laughter at the sight of Puck, stony eyed, in a cowboy hat that she recognized from the April Rhodes fiasco.

She had told herself after they had broken up, that she wasn't going to be angry at him. Their relationship was built on a lie; she knew that. Yet, his parting words hurt her more than they should have.

"We weren't friends before."

His resentment was palpable, and Rachel was upset that she was losing yet another friend. She had hoped that she and Puck could stay friends after their brief fling (if she could even call it that) since she hadn't felt so connected to a person in her whole life. Well at least, in recent memory. Puck understood what she was going through, when she thought nobody else did. It made her feel just a little less alone in the world, and that was a rare feeling for her.

"My mom made me take my sister out," Puck explained, also surprised to see Rachel standing in her doorway with a pair of cat ears on her head. He had been over there once to work on mash-up ideas but he didn't even think to remember where the house was. If he had known, he would have gone out of his way to avoid it. Nevertheless, he had to admit that it was nice to see a familiar face, since his sister was irritating.

"Noah, I want my candy!" his sister tugged at his arm, indigent at having to wait. "Mom said you can't go over to any of your friends' houses!" she protested. "Not until I'm done!"

Rachel looked down at the little girl, dressed in a bright purple cowgirl outfit. Despite herself, she smiled. It was sweet of Puck to take his sister out for Halloween, even if hadn't really wanted to. It made her long for an older sibling- at least then she could count herself a friend stronger.

"Here, take your pick sweetheart," Rachel offered kindly. She hadn't been giving the other children a choice, but since she felt pity for Puck and his seeming demanding sister, she figured the least she could do was attempt to appease her.

Luckily, it worked like a charm and Puck's sister was happily digging her hand into the bowl and searching for her favorite candy. "Not going out tonight?" Puck's deep voice startled her, since he had been fairly silent the whole time.

"No. I… um, I have to get up early," Rachel lied. She never did anything on Saturdays. Or Sundays for that matter. Except for the occasional MySpace post, she was free and often took the time to perfect her Glee solos.

"For what?" he pried, not buying it.

"I… I have to work out on the elliptical every morning at six or else I'll lose my motivation and become complacent. Sectionals are coming up, Noah, and I have to keep my endurance to hit every note," Rachel explained, lying yet again. She did usually get up around six to work out, but on weekends she let herself slip. Or at least she would, if she ever had plans. However, her career was constantly in the back of her mind, and she was proud of her dedication. Being a star was worth the loneliness.

"Seriously Berry? Do you ever have fun?" Puck asked, almost mocking her. "There's a party later, you should come. Finn will be there," he invited. He was looking forward to ditching his lunatic sister and heading to Santana's for her annual Halloween party, even if Santana was a bitch. He didn't quite know why he invited Rachel; she would probably be leered at. Unless he made sure that didn't happen… Even if he didn't have feelings for Rachel, besides the fact that she was a smoking hot Jew like himself, he still had a taste of what it was like for the idiots of the school to throw a slushie in his face.

"As fun as it would be to get slushied and verbally abused by the Cheerios and some of those vulgar football players, I think I'll pass tonight. Thanks Noah," she said. Not even the prospect of seeing Finn was enough to lure her, especially since the odds would be that he was with Quinn. If she was going anywhere, it was upstairs to take a shower and retire early.

"Suit yourself Berry. Come on Emily, let's go," Puck commanded, grabbing his sister's hand again and began to walk away. At the end of Rachel's driveway, he turned around and gave her a slightly friendly wave, which she returned.

With a bit more enthusiasm than it merited.


Thanksgiving

It was supposed to be a clear night.

She had busted her elliptical a few weeks ago and after having one too many helpings of her dads' stuffing, she was practically bursting out of her doors once her family had left, iPod in hand and a pink track suit on.

Not even twenty minutes into her run, however, she felt rain droplets on her forehead. She hoped it was only going to sprinkle, but within seconds, a downpour ensured.

"Damn," she cursed, not sure if it would be quicker to turn around or just to complete her intended route.

She didn't have time to think though, because she heard a car behind her, headlights blinding her. She muttered a few more choice words and began to run a bit faster way from the car, paranoid that it was following her. When she turned a corner and it whipped around her, she let out a scream.

"Berry, you look like you've just seen a ghost," Puck yelled from his truck, his voice muffled by the rain. Rachel's face was paler than he had ever seen it and her eyes were wide with terror. He thought he would be nice and offer the girl running the rain a ride home, and based on the shape of her body, he would have really liked to get her number or maybe just hook up in the car. He was a bit disappointed when he noticed it was Rachel Berry, but it was too late at that point to turn around.

"Sorry Noah, I thought you were some pervert following me," Rachel explained, breathing a sigh of relief, which still felt odd. A few months ago, before Puck joined Glee, running into him on the streets would have been terrifying. Despite the fact that she was soaking wet, Rachel managed a smile at this thought.

"Get in, Berry," Puck commanded roughly. The conversation had already lasted longer than he intended.

"Thanks," she murmured, climbing into his truck. "I appreciate your concern. I'm surprised you are out by yourself on Thanksgiving though. Don't you have family?" she asked, a sad look etched on her face at the thought of having no family gathering.

"We don't do much on Thanksgiving. We used to have my dad's family over," Puck sighed, and Rachel noticed his knuckles turned white from gripping the steering wheel too hard. "But obviously that doesn't happen anymore. Dad's a deadbeat; mom cannot get over it still."

"It's understandable. It's hard when someone abruptly leaves you. Lets you believe that you love them for a little while. It physically hurts when they don't return those feelings and you realize it too late, but you have already emotionally invested yourself in them."

They weren't talking about his parents anymore, Puck knew that right away. Nevertheless, the conversation was going somewhere uncomfortable, and he needed to keep it on his parents or else he would go insane. "Whatever. My mom never really had him anyway. He was there, but he wasn't really there."

"You understand how badly that hurts, don't you Noah? Thinking you have something when you really don't?" Rachel asks, hoping for an answer.

But she certainly doesn't judge him when she doesn't get one.


Christmas

Even if she was Jewish and therefore not entitled to enjoy Christmas like the rest of the kids (although her dads always assured her that Hanukkah was just as great) she did enjoy the atmosphere around the school days before Christmas break, especially at Glee club.

They did a secret Santa gift exchange, and she relished the thrill of getting a new gift everyday in her locker. It was always something fairly small, but today was the last day of their exchange, and as a result, her personal Santa was going to be revealed to her with an even larger gift.

Rachel Berry was not a greedy girl by any means, but it felt good to know that even if her Glee secret Santa was technically forced to buy her gifts the whole week, that she was receiving gifts from a friend. She couldn't remember the last time that happened. Once again, she was grateful for Mr. Schue and the fact that he had brought them together. They performed incredibly at Sectionals and as a result, she could feel them growing much closer, even if Quinn still disliked her for her passes at Finn.

She had already given her gift to Artie (a pair of brand new suspenders, as she had noticed the ones he usually wore were a bit tattered) and she sat in one of the chairs in the choir room, waiting for rehearsal to start and mostly just waiting for her present.

"Happy Hanukkah, fellow Jew," Puck wryly greeted her, sitting next to her and handing her a black box. She laughed and took the box from his outreached hand, feeling giddy at the prospect of a gift.

When she opened the box, she gasped in surprise and pleasure. It was a beautiful gold chain with a precious star hanging from the end. She felt tears well in her eyes- nobody had ever been so thoughtful and considerate in her whole entire life. Well, at least nobody at school had. "Oh, Noah, I don't even know what to say. I love it, thank you," she replied, sucking in the tears forming in her eyes. She didn't want anybody in the room to get the wrong impression, even though everyone else was pretty occupied.

Puck knew that she thought it was probably very expensive, and in hindsight, he probably should have avoided that impression. He had seen it on-sale at the grocery store while he wandered around one Saturday night, hoping that someone in the store would buy him beer. He had to get Rachel something, after all, and he thought it would be a nice gesture. He just didn't want Quinn to think he was spending money on Rachel instead of her. "I know how much you like gold stars, and I saw it and thought of you. Here, I'll help you," he offered, taking the necklace and wrapping it around her neck.

"Perfect," she whispered, still in awe at his kindness. She fingered the gold star a bit nervously, not really sure if it was a dream or not. Although, she cannot help but think… it would have been better if Finn had given it to her. She would never tell Puck that, even if in the back of her head, she isn't sure why she would protect his heart. They may be friends now, even if he doesn't say so, but they are nothing more. He loves Quinn, she loves Finn. Nevertheless, she felt the need to sincerely thank him, so she threw her arms around his neck and gave him a light peck on the cheek.

"Glad you like it, Berry," Puck replied, giving her one last smile before going over to talk to Quinn. Rachel hid her unexpected frown and focused more on the necklace.

But she couldn't help but notice how close Puck was standing to Quinn, and if she squinted a bit more (making a mental note to go to the eye doctor soon) she could almost see his hand resting on her growing baby bump. She was a bit surprised she didn't hit his hand away, but instead, placed her tiny one on top of his.

She pretended to ignore the fact that while Finn was preoccupied talking to Mr. Schue about their newest number in preparation for Regionals; Puck slipped a hefty amount of money into Quinn's hand. She turned to deny it, but Puck seemed firm in his conviction. Quinn smiled, and squeezed his hand once more before Finn turned around and smiled at his best friend and girlfriend, blissfully unaware of their flirty exchange.

After rehearsal, Rachel approached him, still completely confused by his gift of money for Quinn. "Some strategy you have for winning Quinn away from Finn. Money, Noah? She's not a cheap prostitute, even if she did have a moment of weakness. I'm sure she still has Christian morals and that doesn't include being forced to take money from roguish boys," Rachel accused, walking fast just to keep up with him. She couldn't believe his audacity! And she was curious why Quinn had accepted it, and why he would think to give her money in the first place?

Her chiding touched a hidden anger in him. She had some nerve, considering he had just gotten her that stupid necklace. "It's none of your damn business Berry," Puck blew her off, coldly. He turned around to face her, for impact. "And if you breathe a word of it to anybody, I will rip that pretty chain from around your neck and you can forget about our slushie truce," he threatened in all seriousness, glaring down at Rachel with a stare that could only be described as intimidating.

"Noah… if you are hiding something from Finn…" she began, but she was cut off.

"It has nothing to do with Finn!" he denied, although Rachel could tell his voice wavered. "It has to do with me, and Quinn, and our daughter," he spat. He immediately regretted his word choice, though, and hoped that Rachel hadn't noticed.

She did.

Rachel gasped at his candid speech. "Your daughter? The father is Finn, what are you talking about?" Rachel asked, although her voice faded when the truth became clear to her. "You and Quinn? You're the father?"

"Yes!" he shouted, and then grabbed Rachel's arm in a sudden move of anger, pulling her into the first empty room he spotted, although he was careful not to squeeze too hard. "I'm the father of that baby and she won't even let me do anything about it. She told me she'd swear that it was Finn's, even on her dying day. I'm not good enough for her, and I'm trying to show her that I can do it. I can be a father to our baby," he explained, his voice softer now. Rachel could almost see tears forming in his eyes.

"You need to tell Finn," was all she managed to say. When he shook his head vehemently, she got upset. "Why? He is your best friend Noah! He has the right to know his girlfriend is lying to him, ruining his life. Did you know he pretends to be handicapped just so he can provide for the child he thinks is his? Or that Mrs. Hudson took Quinn in? Or that Finn was blamed by the Fabrays because they think he knocked their virginal daughter up?" Rachel harshly questioned, drawing her memory for any piece of information Finn chose to share with her.

When Puck refused to answer, only wearing a guilty look of shame instead, she yelled again. "Why have you been keeping this a secret for so long?!"

"Because she doesn't want me to tell anyone! She wants Finn to be the father; she wishes that it was him that slept with her during a drunken one-night stand, not me. What good would it do for me to tell Finn? He fell in love with that baby girl the first time he saw the damn sonogram, what kind of friend would I be if I broke his heart for no reason?" Puck questioned rhetorically, even though he the back of his head, he knew Rachel was right.

"What if Quinn doesn't end up giving her away for adoption? Then Finn is stuck with a problem that isn't even his…" she was cut off by Puck's angry voice.

"Finn is an idiot for believing that you can knock up a girl in a hot tub," Puck spat back. "Quinn was a virgin when we slept together. He really deserves this heartache if he cannot even look up on Wikipedia that you can't get a girl pregnant unless you have sex!"

"Noah, stop it. You are grasping at straws now. Finn is simple but he is a lovely kid. It's not fair that he has to suffer for Quinn's mistake. If she's not going to tell him, you should," Rachel replied, speaking a bit more softly that time. Puck's intentions were honorable, since she knew that he was only respecting her selfish wishes, but he still needed to do the right thing, even if it was hard for him. "I know that you think you are doing her a favor, but just think of the friend that you are hurting."

"Berry, you wouldn't understand. You've never had a problem like this. Your biggest issue is the fact that you are madly in love with Finn Hudson and that you would love it for me to ruin his relationship with Quinn," he accused.

"That's not even true! What if I care about your feelings?" Her own words surprised her, but she kept going. "You clearly seem to care about your daughter, and what Quinn is doing is wrong. She's placing the burden on Finn, who has tried to respect her wishes, and denying you the chance to support your child when you are readily accepting of the duties," Rachel explained. She didn't completely deny Puck's accusation, because it would be thrilling to her if Quinn left Finn for Puck. But in the back of her mind, a nagging voice told her that Puck deserved better, and she was touched by his feelings for his daughter and his desire to support her, even if he was still a libertine.

Despite what he thought, her motives weren't purely selfish.

"It's not my place to tell him," Puck finally whispered. "I would if she would let me. But I want to support her. If it means sneaking money to her so she can pay for her needs, that is okay with me. As long as I'm not doing nothing, I'm okay with it."

"Are you sure?" she asked, not entirely believing him. His voice told a different story than the look on his face.

"Yes. And don't you dare tell Finn either. Quinn will do what she wants," Puck begged. Rachel had a big mouth but he trusted her, for some strange and unknown reason.

"It's not even close to my place to tell," Rachel promised. She clasped a hand on his shoulder. "But you should reconsider. I respect your wishes though. You are a good guy Noah," Rachel said with a sad smile.

And she meant it.


New Years

"I convinced Quinn to tell Finn the truth. The shit is going to hit the fan very soon," Puck whispered in her ear while she was getting punch.

Mercedes invited everyone from Glee over to her house for a New Year's party. Rachel didn't expect all the members to come, especially the Cheerios and the football players. Especially Puck.

Nevertheless, they were all there, having a great time. It was the most fun Rachel had all year, even though it was ending.

"You are doing the right thing Noah," Rachel comforted, knowing it was the truth. Secrets hurt people, and they only had to be covered more times. An elaborate lie like Quinn's was surely difficult for her to keep, and Rachel knew that stress would not be good for her baby. And it just simply wasn't fair for her to pin it all on Finn, not when Finn was putting so much pressure on himself for something that wasn't even his problem. Especially when Puck was doing all he could to prove that he could be a good father to that baby- he wanted the responsibility and Quinn had not even given him the chance.

Rachel didn't even know which boy she was wronging more. She didn't even know which one she was sorrier for, either.

"I hope your right. It will ruin my friendship with Finn," Puck admitted. He couldn't imagine Finn forgiving him for this. Maybe if they had been outright about it, he could have been calmed. But he knew that it wasn't going to happen. Finn was going to hate him, and Quinn, for keeping him in the dark. But he stood by the fact that once the truth was revealed and Finn didn't have to worry about Quinn and their baby, he would be thanking Puck.

It would just be a long road until then, and Puck was sad to lose Finn as his friend for a while. They had known each other for years. Yet, he had to do it for his daughter, and he didn't want to disappoint Rachel. She was one of the few people she could count as a true friend, even if he didn't like to think about it often and hadn't admitted it to a living soul. He felt a connection to her, and something inside him made him think that it wasn't just because they had a love for two people they just couldn't have. But since he told her the secret before Christmas break, he had called her more often. More often than anybody else, and he began to ignore Santana's racy text messages. If he wanted to be a father, he needed to act like one.

"It may not. Honesty goes a long way. He may even forgive Quinn," Rachel theorized, trying hard not to sound upset about the prospect. But she kept telling herself that even if the truth was revealed and he stayed with Quinn, that she had done the right thing. Puck wanted to help with his daughter- and that was far more important than her harbored and hopeless romantic feelings, right? Still, she didn't see the harm in getting her hopes up.

"Let's hope not," Puck replied, winking at Rachel. For both of their sakes, he hoped that Quinn and Finn broke up for good.

Rachel returned his wink in the form of a weak smile. She didn't like the idea of wishing harm on a couple, but Quinn's relationship with Finn was built on a lie. For both of their health and well-being, the truth needed to come out and the relationship either needed to be purged or discarded. Hopefully, the truth about the paternity of Quinn's daughter would do just that.

Rachel settled herself comfortably next to Puck on Mercedes' couch. It was odd that over a course of a few months, more and more phone calls, and a few chance encounters later, she found herself feeling the most comfortable with Puck than any of the other Glee members (besides Finn, she adds as an afterthought). He knew what she was going through, and she knew that he also appreciated the company, even if he didn't say so out loud.

Rachel noticed that they made conversation readily, almost easily. They could have been the only two people in the house. What disturbed her the most was even though she just knew she had no romantic feelings for Puck (right? Of course); she felt the same way around him as she did around Finn. She didn't even know what her heart was trying to tell her anymore.

The feelings in her stomach intensified when she felt his arm snake around her shoulder. She settled comfortably into his embrace. They were just friends- she knew that. This was just something friends did occasionally. She knew it was the truth, even if she had never truly had a friend before Puck came around. She couldn't second guess herself, she knew that. She had to keep her eye on Finn- she knew that he was her soul mate as soon as they sang together. Puck was a sweet, caring guy (once she was able to push past his rough exterior) but he wasn't Finn and he never would be.

It wasn't fair for her to compare them, anyway. She wouldn't have wanted Puck to become something he wasn't. And even if she did harbor feelings for Puck (which was NOT the case) he loved Quinn, which was clear to her. They already dated once, and it didn't work then. What made her think it would work again? Besides, her career was too important to waste it on a changeable boy like Noah Puckerman.

She just wanted to enjoy his friendship.

"It's almost 2010!" Finn announced from the other side of the room, his arm snaked firmly around Quinn's waste, but Rachel noticed that he shot her that look he always gave her.

Longing. Lust. Want. Love. She returned his stare with an equally intense one. She was silly to ever believe that she and Puck even had as close of a connection as she and Finn. Once the truth was out, he would be free. He would be free, and he would run to her. Then she would know that she made the right decision and that these fleeting feelings she felt for Puck were simply because she was lonely and impatient for Finn.

Everyone began to count down as Mercedes' T.V. showed a close up on the ball in Times Square. She didn't even notice that Puck was moving closer. She was fixated on the glowing orb- the end of 2009. She wasn't sure if she would miss it or wish it good riddance. She often took the time at the end of the year to reflect on her accomplishments and defeats, making resolutions and come up with strategies on how to meet her goals and target dates for them. She had already accomplished getting Puck to admit the truth, now all she needed…

Later, she would realize that she should have seen it coming by the way he was acting the whole night; close to her constantly and giving her more than just a friendly embrace when she walked in, or even on the couch. But at the moment, she was simply shocked that Puck placed a long, steamy (she had to admit) wonderful kiss once the ball dropped on Time Square. She didn't even think twice about their friends in the room, about Finn, about Quinn.

It felt damn good to kiss him. Natural, even.

"It's for good luck," he smugly said as soon as their kiss ended. Only a few people had noticed, and they didn't think much of it. Thankfully, Finn didn't notice and neither did Quinn. They had both worked too hard for that to happen. "Didn't want you to go without a New Years kiss," he explained, not even knowing where he got the courage to kiss her. He just had the urge- she had helped him so much that year, and he cared for her. He just wasn't sure to what extent.

"I think it'll be a fabulous year," Rachel replied once her initial shock had worn off. It certainly had gotten off on an interesting start… and she didn't even know if she wished it was Finn who had welcomed her into the New Year. It felt right that it was Puck.

She needed to sort out her feelings.

Things wrapped up around one, and Puck surprised her yet again when he snapped her cell phone shut when she had opened it to call home for a ride. "Don't wake your dads up; I'll give you a lift home," Puck offered, taking her hand in his. He didn't even know if he was doing this to make Quinn jealous or if he just felt extremely connected to Rachel that night.

Rachel gave Puck a muffled and shocked thank you and walked hand in hand with him out of the house, thanking Mercedes and ignoring her confused look. Once again, they had escaped the notice of Finn and Quinn, who had already left (Quinn was exhausted because of her baby, and nobody blamed her) but others did catch on that time. Santana looked like she wanted to slap her ex-boyfriend but she held her tongue and kept her hands to herself.

Once they got to his car, Rachel's silence had worn off. "Noah, what's going on?" she asked. They had started the party as simply friends and she was pretty sure that they had crossed the boundaries. She didn't think friends usually kissed each other- even if she hadn't had many.

He ran his fingers through his Mohawk and his face was full of duress. Rachel immediately regretted stressing him out and opened her mouth to apologize but Puck stopped her. "I don't know, Rachel. I like Quinn, a lot, and she's the mother of my child. But you… you are such a great person. You make me feel comfortable," he finally admitted. Rachel talked too much for her own good and was far too conceited for his liking (even though it was an act to some extent- she knew she was a great singer but her self-esteem wasn't the greatest); but she wasn't like the rest of the girls at their school. She had ambition to get out of their hellhole town. She didn't bring others down to make herself feel better.

She had forgiven him easily despite the fact that he had done so many terrible things to her. She trusted him despite the fact that months ago, he would have exploited it just so he could hurt her. He had never quite met a girl like her, and it was a refreshing change of pace from the rest of the sluts, teases, and idiots of their school. She had her faults but she knew who she was.

"You are too Noah. I really like spending time with you. You are not only a talented performer but the only friend I've ever truly had since middle school," she admitted, feeling embarrassed. Puck and the rest of the people in the school like him had a surplus of friends- she counted herself blessed just to have Puck and a few of the kids on Glee that she could count on.

But ever since they had dated, she never hesitated to call him when she had a problem. He made her feel safe, she completely trusted him. And he always listened. He always found time for her.

She didn't even know what she was doing, but as soon as he pulled into her driveway, she unbuckled and reached across her seat, pulling him into a kiss, which soon turned into a full on make out session. And it just built in intensity as the minutes went on. It was similar to the one they had in her bed.

Except, she didn't stop him when he took off her shirt. Or bra. Or any other item of clothing. And she certainly didn't stop him from taking off his clothes. Or from kissing her neck. Or from slowly moving their heated session to the backseat.

And she didn't mind when they ended up in the backseat of his truck a half hour later, panting from exhaustion. She didn't mind lying back there for at least twenty minutes after as he placed light, feathery post-sex kisses all over her body. She didn't mind when he continued to run his hand up and down her unclothed body. She didn't mind at all. He could do no wrong that night.

But when she sat up and saw the blood on his seat, she panicked for the first time during the obscure night she had. It didn't sink in that she had unprotected sex with Puck in the back of his truck, in front of her house, where anybody could have seen them, until she saw her own blood and noticed that she was in pain for the first time. Sure, it had hurt during the act, but she didn't even think about it.

She didn't even think at all. She could have hit herself at that very moment.

Puck noticed her panic. "I won't tell anyone, if you want," he offered, feeling guilty. She had obviously not been thinking in her usual Rachel Berry fashion, or else Puck knew he wouldn't have gotten lucky. But it wasn't like with another girl- like everything she did, it was different. It was always different with her. She wasn't just another notch on the bedpost (or car door) but he didn't blame her for probably thinking that way.

"I would appreciate that Noah. Thanks for the ride, and the…err… great night. See you around," she hastily said, running out of his car without even giving him a kiss and without properly putting her clothes back on. She knew her dads were asleep, and she was grateful.

She wouldn't have wanted them to know what kind of woman their daughter had become- leading on two different boys and even going as far to forfeit her virginity in the back of the first guy's truck that showed her even the slightest bit of kindness. She thought she was better than that. She felt so ashamed that she had been so easy- so willing to sleep with Noah in the most unthinkable of places. She had been taught since she entered high school that she needed to protect herself from STDs and pregnancy. Ignorance would only cause tragic mistakes and one only needed to look at Quinn to know that.

She had forsaken whatever morals she had that night in the back seat of that truck. And she probably made Puck feel bad- she thought in hindsight. She had probably hurt him and would succeed in pushing him out of her life; just like she did every other person that entered her life. Because she was lonely, because he was attractive, because she had finally found a friend, because he was sweet and tough in the same breath- she lost her virginity in the least romantic situation that she could have conjured.

She used to have fantasies of her first time being in a luxurious hotel room, once she had Finn all to herself, and they had been dating for a while. He would be gentle and sweet and she would be the best he ever had.

She felt furious hot tears form in her eyes when she realized that would never be. She was a ruined woman now; she had given up her dream of being with Finn for the first time just because she felt some kind of animalistic lust towards his best friend. She was no better than Quinn. She didn't deserve Finn, and neither did Rachel.

Hell, she didn't even deserve Puck.

She couldn't sleep that night. Despite her earlier ruling, 2010 was not off to a good start, considering that instead of getting up at six for her usual workout, she would be getting up a bit later to drive herself to the drug story to get the morning after pill- and have to tell some elaborate lie to her dads, again. And when she got together with Finn (she was more steadfast in that ruling after all of this crap had happened) she would have to lie about her first time and pretend that when they got together that it was for real.

Who had she become?


Sometime between New Years and Valentine's Day, the truth gets out about Quinn and Puck's baby.

Rachel hadn't talked much to Puck since their night together, and he hadn't made much of an effort either. She was far too embarrassed. And when she did speak to him, it usually just upset her more. He told her that even if their hearts were in different places, that it wasn't a mistake. That they had a real connection, real feelings towards one and another. Rachel disagreed as firmly as she could. She couldn't start a relationship with Puck. She knew it wasn't going to happen. Not when she was so close to having Finn- and he so close to Quinn.

How could she do that to him? He clearly did love Quinn, and they finally had their shot at their family. She still loved Finn, even if it was more difficult to reconcile herself to her feelings as the weeks ticked by and the night she had with Puck continued to play through her mind. What scared her is that she didn't regret it. Not even a little bit.

The day the truth came out, Rachel just knew that she was the first person that Finn talked to. He came to school that day with bloodshot eyes and a hunched back. He approached her, told her the truth, and they cried together in the choir room. She skipped her first three hours to comfort him, and to lie to him. Lie about the fact that she had known the truth for over a month. Lie about her relationship with Puck. She felt sick to her stomach afterwards (since her period had come, she could be thankful it wasn't because she was pregnant). She promptly headed to the girls' bathroom to vomit, and it wasn't because she was forcing herself too. She was a liar, and it made her sick.

Finn had already had a girl lie to him that he loved. Rachel was doing the same thing.

She drove him home from school that day. He claimed that he was too shaken up to drive, and that his mother was working. Rachel didn't mind at all, this was the moment she had been waiting for- time alone with Finn outside of school and without Quinn in the equation. She should have been ecstatic.

Instead, she couldn't stop thinking about how much Puck was probably enjoying it- finally able to touch Quinn's belly and know that the truth was out. She didn't even realize that there was a smile forming on her face at the idea of Puck being happy until Finn spoke- and she immediately wiped it off of her face. She had no right to think of others happiness while the boy she cared the most about in this world (Finn- not Puck. It never was) was hurting so badly.

"I'm such a fool," he said, and the tone of his voice made Rachel's heart break. "I should have known she was lying to me- a hot tub?" he questioned rhetorically.

Rachel, without taking her eyes off the road, placed her hand over his. "Don't beat yourself up about it. Quinn can be a very persuasive girl when she wants to be, and you were just being a gallant boyfriend by not questioning her. How could you have known she was lying? You always felt like you could trust her, it's certainly not your fault that she betrayed that trust," Rachel attempted, but it was no use. Finn still asserted that it was his fault just as much as it was Quinn's.

By the time they arrived at her house and in her room, Finn was a heaping mess of tears. "I loved her Rachel, her and our daughter. Their daughter," he cried, laying his head on Rachel's shoulder.

She gingerly rubbed his hair, and for once, held her tongue. She felt like the only thing Finn needed at that moment was to cry. Rachel wanted to cry for what he was going through, and she was glad that he didn't notice the few tears escape from her eyes while he berated himself for being a fool. She needed to be strong for him.

"She just wanted to keep you," she finally said, after a moment of prolonged silence.

"What?" Finn questioned, looking up, his eyes tired and red from crying for hours.

"She clearly loves you, Finn, and she just wanted to hide the fact that she slept with your best friend," Rachel explained, not entirely sure why she was defending Quinn. She still WANTED Finn, badly, but she couldn't stop the words from flowing. "She wanted you to be the father of her daughter, even if you weren't. I can understand that, you are one of the most caring people I know, and would have been a great father. You WILL be, once the time is right."

"You wouldn't have done this to me. You've always been honest with me," Finn whispered, looking up at her with admiration. "You always do the right thing. You aren't a lying bitch who would sleep around with the only guy I fully trusted."

She almost told him what happened with Puck, she was so close, but she decided against it. That was certainly not something that he needed to hear. Instead, like she always wanted to do when she was around Finn, she pressed her lips to his and any doubt she had about where her feelings lay was squashed when she felt his lips on hers. The intensity of the kiss was enough to know that this was right for her.

"I love you," she whispered against his mouth once they had broken away from their kiss. "I always have," she explained.

"I love you too, Rachel. Never change," he kissed her again, this time with more confidence than any of their other kisses. It was possessive. Firm. Loving. Everything she had always dreamed of.

She stopped him before he went too far, before she ended up making another mistake (it was a mistake, she affirms once again) and cited that it was too soon after his falling out with Quinn. "I just don't want you to rush into something that you aren't sure about. If it's me you truly love, and not Quinn, we can be together. Take all the time you need, resolve your anger and feelings, and I'll be waiting. I'll be here," she explained, and he smiled, nodded, and agreed.

She ignores the phone that night when "Noah" flashes on the screen. She couldn't look back- not when everything she wanted was finally in her sights.


Valentine's Day

She wasn't expecting to run into Puck, since it was a day shared between two lovers and they didn't even have school. She fought off her urge to call him but it didn't feel right. She wanted to talk to him like they used to- see how he was doing. He and Quinn were close at Glee practices but it didn't look like they were dating. At least not yet. She hoped that they were just doing it because they wanted to respect Finn's feelings, but she didn't know if that was the truth.

In any case, he was supposed to be with Quinn that day, just like she was supposed to be with Finn.

But he was late.

She had bought him a box of chocolates- as cliché as it was it seemed right. They weren't official but after Glee everyday they were together, either at his house or hers. They had met parents, held hands in public, gone on dates, but they didn't call each other boyfriend and girlfriend. It had only been about a month since the secret came out, so Rachel was trying to be patient. She really was.

But she just couldn't help but think that if it was Puck, he would have been a man and held her hand at school, not just at the mall or the movies.

But Finn wasn't Puck, and he never would be. He was sweet, simple, caring, adorable Finn; the leading man of the Glee club- and of her life. But she couldn't help but get impatient. However, with each new delay, she met it with a steely resolve, knowing that good things came to those who waited and that since she had waited so long for Finn, a few more weeks (or months, or years?) wouldn't be that bad. She would wait as long as it took for him to fully commit himself to her.

He still talked to Quinn.

Despite the fact that his cliché of a blonde cheerleader girlfriend (EX-girlfriend, she adds) cheated on him and lied to him for months about a child who wasn't even his, Rachel had a terrible feeling that Finn still harbored some love towards Quinn. She had expected it, she had to. She couldn't leave all of her defenses down. Finn loved Quinn before it happened, and as terrible as the lie was, feelings didn't just evaporate. Especially when Finn thought that Quinn was carrying his child- which connected them deeper than a normal relationship would have.

But Rachel couldn't help but feel like a hypocrite when she got mad about Finn's "friendship" with Quinn (if she could even call it that) because even if she didn't call Puck as often as she once did, since their parlay in the backseat of his truck, she still talked to him. She still felt safe when he was near her, when he walked with her in the hallways. He was still her friend, the only person she could always count on. She wondered if Finn knew? And if he did, did he care? Was that what the delay was about? If it was, Rachel would have to stop, even if that hurt.

When the doorbell rang that night, Rachel was going to be prepared. She held the chocolates in her hands and the house was completely covered in candles (she had kicked her dads out for the night). She had stopped by the mall that afternoon and picked up a new bra and panty set and was wearing it underneath her dress. It made her feel confident. Even if Finn couldn't see them, she could feel them. And if things got heated…

She stopped herself. She wasn't ready for that again. Just because she did it once, she reminded herself, she didn't need to do it again. She wanted her relationship with Finn to reach a new compatibility than her relationship with Puck had. Her relationship with Puck was full of superficial feelings and pure lust. She truly wanted to make it work with Finn, and that meant not rushing into sex.

So when the doorbell rang, she was ready.

Except it wasn't Finn. It was Puck. The one guy she was trying so hard to forget. But it wasn't Puck in all of his bravado. He looked weaker, defenseless, morose even.

"Noah?" she questioned, pulling him inside from the snow.

"She left me. She said I can be there for the birth but she doesn't want to be with me. She doesn't want to be with anybody, and she's giving our daughter up for adoption," Puck explained after Rachel had served him hot chocolate and settled down on the couch with him. Finn was at least an hour late… she didn't even want to think about it.

"I'm so sorry Noah." It was the only words her voice could find. She didn't even know what else to say, but she surprised herself because a few minutes later, she found a voice. "It's going to be alright. You deserve better," she said, before she even realized what she was saying. Better than Quinn Fabray? That thought probably hadn't even crossed Puck's mind. But she knew it was true. Quinn wasn't as bad as she originally thought; she was human, just like everyone else. But she lied. Multiple times. And lead Puck on. And Finn. The two boys she cared the most about. Puck did truly deserve better than that.

"I didn't really love her. I thought I did, because she was hot, hottest girl in the school, well at least in the top ten. When I slept with her, it was because I felt like I needed to. She was Finn's girlfriend and I know that he didn't treat her right. She was too much for him, she was too needy, too much of a bitch. Their relationship wasn't real, Rachel, it was just because she was the head cheerleader and he was the quarterback. I wanted to show her that Finn wasn't the only guy out there," Puck explained.

"But you must have had feelings for her? She must have not been another notch on your bedpost, not after all the hell you went through to get your daughter recognized?" Rachel asked, feeling a pit forming on the bottom of her stomach. If Puck never loved Quinn… No, she wouldn't even allow herself to think about it. He was mistaken. He was hurt, but she knew that he had legitimate feelings for her.

"Sure I did. I have feelings for every girl, though. She was special because she was the mother of my child. We were both drunk out of our minds when we did it. She felt bad about herself, and Finn sure wasn't there to make her feel better," Puck replied, his voice raising a few octaves. "Finn got EVERYTHING I ever wanted. Every girl I ever liked, they seemed to always like Finn better. Even my sister likes Finn better than me. You… you think that he is the greatest thing since sliced bread," he said, a bit more quietly. Rachel sensed resentment in his voice.

"Someday, Noah, you will find a girl who loves you for you. For your amazing combination of testosterone and sweetness. She won't resent you for not being like Finn. She won't deny you the chance to raise your child. You will be happy. We all will," Rachel explained, heartfelt. She didn't want Puck to think that he was worthless, because she knew he wasn't. He was great. Any girl would be lucky to have him- not Puck, the tough football player who discarded girls like days of the week- but Noah, the sweet, loving, gentle boy that she knew and adored.

"Do you resent me for not being Finn?" he asked, his voice still quiet.

She didn't even need time to think. "No, never. You are you. I wouldn't expect you to change, and certainly not for me," Rachel answered. "Why me though? I'm not the girl you want and we both know it," she added. She didn't want to be his rebound. She had Finn. He would find someone new- someone who wouldn't lead him on like Quinn had done. And to some extent, she had led him on as well and she felt terrible about it.

"Yes you are," Puck said simply, his eyes full of hope and longing.

Before Rachel could respond, Finn arrived, not even knocking. Rachel had remembered telling him not to, and one of the things she loved most about him was that he listened to her every word- but this time, she was cursing him for ruining this moment (even if she isn't sure why).

"Sorry I'm late… what the hell is going on here?" he asked as soon as he crossed the doorway and saw Rachel and Puck sitting together on the couch, sitting close and clearly in the middle of an intimate conversation, since there was a baffled expression on both of their faces. It reminded him of a time when he walked in on Puck and Quinn… covered in flour… they claimed that they were baking. He should have known then that something was up between them, but he never caught on.

"Sorry, dude, I was just leaving," Puck said, hastily rising and giving Rachel one last longing look, as if he was saying don't leave me for Finn. She wanted to run into his arms, she really did, but Finn was there. Finn was hers. She wasn't going to give it up. It took him a second, but the look on her face was enough of a letdown for him. He took the hint. "Have a good night Rachel, Finn," he said on his way out, trying to ignore the cold hard glare Finn shot him.

Rachel rose quickly and handed him his coat. "Don't forget it," she reminded him, the sad smile still on her face. She wanted him to understand, even if she couldn't bring herself to apologize for the real offense, she still wanted him to know that she cared. She would never stop caring about the boy who met so much to her. "I'm sorry about you and Quinn," she whispered, but she knew Finn heard.

"I forgive you… forgive me for not being him too, please," Puck whispered back, giving Finn one more curt nod and Rachel one more longing look before leaving.

"Noah…" she began, reaching her hand out, but he was gone. She felt like shit all the sudden, like she had just broken his heart for good. Two disappointments in one night. She couldn't imagine how bad he felt, and she was the cause of his pain. What kind of friend was she, if she could even still call herself a friend?

"Hi Finn, thanks for coming over," she said, doing a full turn in personality and in body. "Do you want something to drink?" she asked, ignoring his confused look.

"Is something going on between you and Puck that I should know about? Because God knows he certainly seems to go after the girls that I love," Finn asked, the anger palpable in his voice. "You can be honest with me," he added.

"We have a very close friendship. We both bonded over the fact that… that we loved two people who we thought we'd never have," Rachel admitted, keeping her eyes downcast as she handed Finn a glass of Coke. "He and Quinn had a falling out, he probably didn't even realize that we were seeing each other tonight," Rachel explained, trying to sound nonchalant, even though she knew it was much more than that. "It's nothing for you to be worried about," she added after the silence became unbearable.

"Please don't lie to me. I've had enough of it for one lifetime," Finn begged. He looked pathetic, Rachel thought, like a person who had truly fallen from grace and away from the trusting, naïve bubble he once lived his life in. She had never felt so much pity- and so little love- for Finn in her life. This wasn't the confident, yet misguided, boy she fell in love with. This was a scared, weak, afraid shell of his former self. And it was all of her fault- so she had to fix it.

She had to tell him the truth. If she really wanted to be better than Quinn, like truly above moral reproach, she had to tell him the truth about her and Puck. "You best sit down then," she advised. He listened, like he always did. Rachel almost wanted to lie again, but she pressed on. "Well, we were both so lonely on New Years. He really wanted Quinn, I really wanted you, but we both felt like we were chasing a fantasy because she was pregnant with your child." She took a breath because she realized she lied again- she knew the truth why Puck really wanted to be close to Quinn, but she wasn't going to tell him that much. That would ruin ANY chance she had with him.

"I had no idea you felt that way…" Finn interrupted, feeling a renewed sense of guilt for leading Rachel on for so long while he thought Quinn's daughter was still his. When Drizzle Hudson was still his little girl.

"Its okay, Finn, really. I understand. Anyway, he drove me home that night and things got heated in his truck… I made a really reproachable mistake." Tears were flowing now, readily, without shame, but she got herself together. "I lost my virginity… to Noah," she admitted, breaking down as soon as the words came out of her mouth.

She had truly expected him to leave. She really did. But instead, she felt warm arms encompass her body and she was pressed into a strong, defined chest. Hands ran through her hair and kisses were placed on the top of her head, the nape of her neck. "Rachel… it's alright. I… I forgive you," Finn stuttered, continuing to comfort her.

"Really?" she asked, looking up at him with hope through her tear stained eyes. "But I lied… I am just as bad as Quinn."

"Rachel! Not even close. We weren't together, we weren't attached. While I think you could have made a better decision, as long as you realize it's a mistake, it's alright. As long as you aren't tempted while we are in a relationship…" he began, but he trailed, the pain of Quinn's betrayal still too fresh.

"We are in a relationship? Really?" Rachel asked. It was the first time he referred to them as boyfriend and girlfriend, and despite the events of the night (it had started off so well too!) she still wanted to achieve the main goal. She still wanted Finn to be her boyfriend. She really did…

"Of course. I need to stop putting this off. I really love you Rachel. I want to be with you. And I want everyone to know it," Finn announced.

She didn't think about Puck at all that night, because for the first time, she felt like an honest woman. She threw her arms around Finn's neck and thought she would never let go. She had finally gotten everything she wanted. Finn Hudson loved her, he was hers. She won.

Even now, she considers it one of her favorite nights of her life. But she knew it would have been better if it was a different guy, even if she didn't quite realize it yet.


Easter

Rachel thinks it's fitting that Quinn gave birth on Easter Sunday.

She was healthy; Puck told her and Finn as soon as she was born, his face still glowing from the idea that he had created a life with Quinn, even if they weren't dating. She promised that he would allow him to be there when his daughter was born, and he was glad that she didn't break her promise.

Finn had to leave shortly after, getting one peak at the baby before he went. "Hello Drizzle," he greeted, favoring the little girl with a smile. Rachel could see the tears in his eyes as he asked the nurse if he could hold her. "You are just as beautiful as I imagined," he whispered, and Rachel stood next to him, her heart filled to the brim with love (as corny as it sounded, it was the only way she could describe it). Finn gave her one quick kiss as he headed out, telling her that he would see her later.

Rachel decided to head down to where Puck was, as Quinn was entertaining her mother and father (who finally admitted that they would speak to her again). "She's beautiful," she complimented, handing him a coffee.

"Thank you. She has my eyes," he remarked.

"Don't you want to spend time with her, before you know, she is taken? Doesn't Quinn?" Rachel questioned, confused. She knew that the baby was being given up for adoption, and she figured since they only had a few hours before little Drizzle (after spending a few months dating Finn, it had stuck) was taken into by her family. She heard that Mrs. Schue was originally going to take it, to pass off as her own, but Mr. Schue caught her in a lie. Rachel felt bad, knowing that at least Quinn and Puck could have known where their daughter was going and that she was in good hands (at least with Mr. Schue as the father) but they instead had to oblige themselves with a closed adoption. Quinn didn't want to know who her daughter was going to become, and so, Puck didn't get to know either.

"She isn't mine, not really, at least. I love her so much, Rachel, I don't want to fall more in love and never get to see her again. She belongs to that family, who we met. They are nice people, they will treat her right. But I know that as long as I live, I won't forget those tiny eyes staring back at me. I will never forget her," Puck explained, placing his head into his hands and just simply crying.

"Oh Noah, I'm so sorry. I don't even know what to say, except, you will have the chance to be a real father someday. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. It hurts, I know, but it'll be okay in the end. It always is," Rachel comforted, not wanting him to be too upset. He got to prove to Quinn that he could take care of her, maybe she would realize that she made a terrible mistake by giving up such a great guy like Puck.

He didn't answer. She didn't expect him too. Just like in the car on Thanksgiving, she doesn't expect a response. She's content with just holding him, letting him release his tears, and vowing that she won't tell anybody.

When the baby was taken by the family, Quinn and Puck gave each other one last kiss, as chaste as a kiss between two of the flirtiest people could be. It's their way of letting go of a part of their life that they will never get back, the daughter they loved but will never know. "Come on, I'll give you a ride home," Rachel offered, taking his hand as a means of support.

He murmured a thank you and squeezed her hand tightly, not wanting to ever let go.

The car ride was fairly silent, with only the distant sound of one of Rachel's Broadway tapes playing in the background. She didn't go to his house though, and surprisingly, he didn't say a word about it when they pulled into her driveway. He just followed her, like a hurt puppy. "I didn't think you wanted to be alone right now," she explained as soon as they reached her room. Puck just nodded.

"Thank you. For everything," he finally said after an awkward silence.

"It's nothing, Noah. You were there when I needed you the most, now it's my turn to return the favor," she explained.

They were silent for a few more moments, until, as a mutual understanding of how their bodies work, they were lunging at each other with a series of desperate kisses. Neither of them knew why, but it just seemed natural. It always seemed natural for them to be intimate with each other. Rachel couldn't help but think that when she made out with Finn, it wasn't this natural. It was enjoyable, yes, but it was nothing like when she kissed Puck. He awoke a part of her that she didn't even realize existed.

Before things went too far though, Rachel put a stop to it. "No, not this time," she asserted, placing her hand on his chest. "I need to get things work out with Finn. I will not cheat on him. He doesn't deserve it. If we are going to be together, it needs to be honestly. And not because you are just grieving about your daughter and Quinn, but because you want me. I don't want to be your rebound, Noah, if this is going to work at all it needs to be because you have honest, not confused, feelings for me," Rachel explained, pulling her shirt over head and adjusting herself.

"Do you love him?" he asked.

Rachel couldn't help but think back to the first time she and Puck had made out. It was earlier that school year, the beginning of her friendship with Puck; even if it had been off to a rocky start, even when he first denied it. When she kissed Puck for the first time, she pictured Finn, easily, without effort.

However, now, the two boys couldn't have been more different. Finn was great, and she enjoyed her time with him. She had always wanted to date him, even if she forgot why sometimes. But she didn't feel the same with him as she felt with Puck, she knew that now. When she kissed Puck now, when she had slept with Puck on that cold January night, she didn't see Finn. She saw Noah Puckerman. She didn't just see him as a replacement for the boy she, at the time, couldn't have.

Even if she wanted to picture Finn, she couldn't.

Puck wasn't Finn, but she was okay with it. Finn was great, but he wasn't the boy she loved. Maybe he had been, when she didn't know what love was. But now that she had experienced it, with Puck of all people, she knew that it was a false sense of reality with Finn. Puck made her feel like a cocktail of emotions, Finn just made her feel good, not giddy, not impulsive, not like she could fall off a cloud or out of a dream at any moment.

Puck did that. Puck made her feel alive. And all of those glances she had used to shot Finn, they were lustful in nature. The ones she gave Puck were true, they were from the heart. She had once thought that she had loved them both, but it became very clear to her that she only loved Puck, and that being with Finn had made her realize it.

"No," she answered finally. "No I don't. I love you, Noah. Maybe it took me a while to realize that, but I do," she admitted.

"Really?" he asked, in disbelief. He had known of his feelings for a while, even before Quinn decided that he wasn't good enough for her. He wasn't afraid of them anymore. Rachel may have been a loser, in the traditional sense, but she was everything he ever wanted, ever needed, even if he didn't know what that was before he met her. He hated the idea of her with Finn- not for the reason he hated Quinn with Finn though. Finn made her happy, but Puck knew he made her ecstatic.

And as for his own feelings, he didn't know what love was until he met her. But as corny as he sounded, and how much shit he would take if he ever said it out loud, he did know what love was, at last, when he realized that he hadn't felt the same way about a girl until he started hanging out with Rachel. That must have meant it was love, he predicted, and when she said it back, the feeling in his stomach was new. He knew he was right.

"Yes, Noah, I love you. I won't deny it any longer," Rachel admitted, feeling free. He had broken her defenses. He had revealed the girl underneath. She loved who she was when she was with him. He didn't just make her feel good (like Finn); he made her feel beautiful, wanted, and most importantly, perfect. Like she didn't have a flaw in the world. Like Mr. Schue had promised- she had finally found a boy who loved her flaws and just loved her. Loved her for her. Didn't see her as a big mouth, didn't see her as obnoxious, conceited, ambitious, weird, a meaningless loser. Puck just saw her as the girl he loved- the girl he wanted to be with.

What else did she need?

She didn't get that much sleep that night, thanks to Puck. They would figure out what to do with Finn the morning (she hated the idea of hurting him again) but for that night, she was a girl without worries. She was a girl in complete bliss. She knew who she was and who she needed to be with.

And she was in love for the very first time.

Wow, this was totally not supposed to be this long. The ending is a bit weak, and the whole story is a bit corny (I admit) but I hope you all liked it. Please Review, they make my day :D Thanks for reading!