Author's note: I came across this challenge and I just had to write something. And the same night, as I went to bed, it started coming to me. It took me so long to post it because I kept nitpicking the details. Here's the beginning.

Music suggestions: 'No surprise' by Daughtry, 'Cold' by Crossfade, 'Amanda' by Boston.

Disclaimer: I don't own Glee. Or any of the music. Not even the challenge idea.

"A knight in shining armor" challenge: to write a story (oneshot or multi, your choice) about Rachel being bullied (you may choose the extent of bullying), and Puck somehow saving her from the situation and them being all fluffy together. Author challenging: kaycedilla2011

Protecting Berry: The Request

"So for what exactly do I owe the pleasure today, Berry?" Puck asked nonchalantly when she purposefully strode up before him as he waited for glee practice to start. This was the first time they'd directly confronted each other since that day on the bleachers, other than for glee purposes, a direct deviation from the routine they had adhered to for weeks now. He liked to think it was working rather well.

He also thought that his life had been kind of boring since she'd segued out of it.

"Puck, make them stop." Rachel commanded in a pitiful, childlike tone that tugged at Puck's heartstrings.

Well things that passed as heartstrings. He still liked to deny that he had one of those.

It was part of the reason why he dived back in with Santana and her sexting. Between Rachel and Quinn, he was letting himself get too attached to high school women again. He may want to take responsibility for the baby he put in Quinn, but that didn't mean he wanted to give up his current lifestyle while trying to bed every decent-looking chick in Lima.

Her hand latched onto one hip as she stared down her nose at his uninterested attitude.

"I'm afraid that I have no idea what you're talking about." Puck returned monotonously, setting his guitar on the floor beside his seat and leaning back in his chair, affecting an entirely disinterested air.

The whole "hand to hip" Rachel mannerism meant she had something to complain about in big, serious, dictionary-sized words. He might as well be comfortable.

"Oh please." Rachel sputtered disbelievingly, her one hand resting on her hip as she glared down at him. "As if you didn't put out the order to have your football friends arm up and slushy me practically every day since we broke up."

"What're you talking about?" Puck asked, his tone darkening. He hadn't put a slushy in her face for months, and didn't ask anyone to take over the position, either. He now understood the repercussions of such an act, and he'd meant what he said in that bathroom as she sat on his knee.

There were very few women in his life that he was willing to straighten out for. Even less than that he gave his word to with every intent on keeping it. One of them was standing before him accusing him of otherwise.

He couldn't really blame her for having such little confidence in him, but it still kind of pissed him off.

She actually scoffed, drawing the attention of Mercedes and Tina, who were sitting on the other side of the room comparing notes for an upcoming biology test. Puck's face remained impassive and slightly questioning.

"You mean to say that you seriously haven't noticed that the days we have practice after school I'm wearing a different outfit from the one I'm wearing in the morning?" Rachel asked sarcastically, now with both hands on her hips as she leaned down towards him slightly to appear more threatening.

Though, if someone had asked Mercedes or Tina, they'd say Puck looked more pissed than frightened.

"You're kidding right?" Puck returned gruffly, forcing her to take a few steps back as he stood from his seat. "You honestly think that after all that's happened, I'd consider doing something like that to anyone. Great. That's just great. And really? You think I pay any attention to what you wear everyday? It's one stuck-up schoolgirl shirt and skirt after the other. The only thing I pay attention to is the height and airlift potential of the skirt, dollface." Puck finished depreciatively, narrowing his eyes into a lecherous sneer.

Rachel then did something that no one had ever heard from her before: she growled. Even Puck's eyes widened fractionally in surprise.

"I have been taking this all in stride, thinking 'oh maybe they just need to get it out of their system'." Rachel began in an aggravated tone, poking him in the chest with a finger. "It's been close to three weeks, Noah! Do I ever complain? Have I ever complained about how unfair it is to have my dry-cleaner's number on speed dial because I get slushied so often? Do you have any idea how many clothes I've had to throw away and replace in the past year? Probably more clothes than you've bought in your entire life. My dads don't understand why I go through so many clothes. I haven't bought brand new clothes since junior high. I don't even bother. All the clothes I have now are from resale shops. So I don't really care that you have nothing to do with this recent string of attacks. I just want them to stop. Can't you wave your "popular guy" attitude around a little and make them quit? Other popular boys listen to you, don't they?" Rachel finished resolutely, desperation and hopefulness creeping into her tone.

It was his turn to snort derisively. What did she really expect him to do? As if he had any kind of authority around here anymore. Now those were the days.

"In case you haven't noticed, Berry, my popularity stock has dropped considerably since I joined this band of merry misfits." Puck said depreciatively, looking down into her expectant gaze. "People don't just drop to worship me in my wake like they used to."

"At least he isn't in denial anymore." Quinn inserted in a snarky tone, having walked through the door under Finn's arm at the tail-end of Puck's reply. She pulled a cookie from the bag of mini fudge-striped clutched tightly in her right hand as she stepped from Finn's embrace and plopped into a seat behind Mike and Matt.

His eyes momentarily shifted and locked with Quinn's warningly before returning to Rachel's, which had morphed into a forlorn, lost gaze. Had she really put that much faith in his being able to help her? But then again, who else was going to help her? Finn?

Yeah, right. Finn couldn't fight his way out of a shopping bag. Even if he tried. Finn wasn't born to fight or negotiate underhanded compromises.

He, on the other hand, had been. He had sold all those hash cupcakes for the bake sale, after all.

Besides, like it wouldn't totally rock to be someone's knight in shining armor. Aside from his baby sister's, that is.

What the hell? Quinn had permanently slotted him in the "runner-up gets nothing, so back off" category, so why not try and help out his other girl? It's not like he had anything better to do anyway.

"Relax, Caroline." Puck said in a placating hushed tone, touching her left arm and squeezing it once gently before dropping his hand to his side. He hoped the endearment he let slip accidentally went unnoticed by the now full classroom. "I'll take care of it."

oooooouooo*oooooowooo*oooooozooo

This all started out as a one-shot, but it mutated into something all its own, forcing me to break it up. I tried to incorporate the newer episodes since 'Mash up' (which is my absolute fav), just not the "Mattress" episode because I already had this written when it aired. How's it sounding so far?