A/N: Sorry. This magical thing called 'sleep' that had been eluding me has finally caught up.
Also, homework is a bitch. And school, in general.
Daniverse and part two up tomorrow.
On Saturday night, Puck ditched plans with Rachel, Dani, and his mom for a party, simply because he couldn't remember the last time he'd been to one.
Sunday morning, he woke up with a hangover and a nameless girl with blonde hair in someone else's bed.
Puck quickly threw off the covers and looked down. He was still wearing his pants, but he was shirtless. He looked over at the girl, and saw that while she was topless, her skirt was still on, as was her bra. He sat up and reached for his red letter jacket and pulled out his wallet. There was still a condom in there and he knew he hadn't been drunk enough to forget protection, even if he couldn't exactly recall the happenings of the night before.
(He blamed it on countless nights with tons of different girls; memories and faces tended to blur together.)
With a relieved sigh that he didn't go all the way, he slapped the girl on the butt (who giggled in her sleep but didn't wake up), got up and threw on his clothes, leaving without a second glance.
It wasn't until he was in his truck, looking at the gold star sticker Rachel had playfully stuck onto his dashboard at some point, that he felt like he was going to throw up.
Monday morning, he drove Rachel to school like usual. He couldn't, however, look her in the eye. And he barely took two bites of the slice of toast she'd brought for him.
"Noah?" she asked quietly.
He froze before grunting in response.
She frowned. "Are you feeling unwell? You've barely said two words. And you didn't finish the breakfast I gave you like you usually do."
"Stop houndin' me, woman!" he snapped defensively, feeling the tiniest bit guilty.
She leaned away from him, blinking rapidly in surprise. "I beg your pardon?" she said, sounding unsure and completely confused.
"Sorry," he grumbled. "I'm just…Saturday night was crazy," he said lamely.
"Did you do anything idiotic?" she asked.
He froze once more and winced. "About that…"
"Oh, you drank too much and got hung over?" she suggested casually.
He nodded mechanically, not trusting himself to speak.
She laughed incredulously. "Noah! It's Monday morning, how are you still hung over?"
"I'm not!" he said irritably. "I just…I have a pounding headache," he lied, feeling something akin to guilt churn uncomfortably in his stomach.
"I've got some aspirin if you want," she offered, already beginning to rifle through her purse.
"Nah," he said gruffly, "It's okay. I'll finish off the toast and get something else to eat. I'll be fine."
"Are you sure?" she asked worriedly.
He nodded, pulling into a parking spot near the school. "I can handle it."
Rachel nodded. "Of course you can." She paused awkwardly. "Well, I sincerely hope you'll feel better soon," she said softly, smiling gently at him, big brown eyes boring into his.
Puck tore his gaze away and drummed his fingertips on the steering wheel nervously, nodding once in appreciation.
(He felt even sicker than before.)
Rachel walked into the girls' bathroom before lunch to freshen up and wash her hands. There was already someone else in there, reapplying lip gloss on her already too-glossy lips.
The blonde looked over at Rachel as she leaned over and turned one of the knobs. "Hey, Rachel," she said, full of faked friendliness and cheer.
"Um, hello," Rachel greeted back awkwardly.
The blonde (Rachel quickly remembered her as Kristi something-or-other) smacked her lips before turning to her, grinning triumphantly. "I fucked Noah Puckerman Saturday night."
Rachel froze, stopping her ministrations. She swallowed thickly and then slowly looked up at the cheery blonde gauging her reaction. Rachel forced an amused smile to her lips and said, "Congratulations."
You're merely another notch on his bedpost, you dim-witted blonde.
Kristi's pleasant demeanor fell and she frowned deeply. "What? Aren't you, like, upset or whatever?"
Rachel finished washing up and walked to the paper towel dispenser, giving Kristi an odd look. "Now why would you be upset?"
Kristi's eyebrows shot up, eyes following Rachel. "Aren't you fucking Puck?"
The pretty brunette blinked in confusion. "I'm sorry…could you…repeat that?"
"Aren't you his girlfriend?" Kristi restated, growing more and more confused.
Rachel felt her cheeks heating up slight and her mouth dropped open for a few seconds. "What on Earth made you think that?" she asked incredulously.
"Nobody believes this babysitting thing," she said flatly, giving her a look. She eventually sighed and fluffed her hair irritably, turning back to the mirror. "Well, this sure takes all the delicious drama out of sleeping with him. But if I'd known he wasn't with you, I'd've tried earlier; that guy's an amazing kisser…"
Rachel felt her stomach churning as a brief image of their chaste kiss flashed in her mind's eye. "I bet he is," she said conversationally.
"Hm…great body, too," she murmured absent-mindedly. "Well, I've gotta run. Bye, Rachel!" she said over her shoulder while flouncing out of the bathroom.
Rachel watched her go silently; ignoring the feeling of nausea in her belly to the best of abilities.
(She ended up skipping lunch all together.)
"Puck, dude, is it true?" Mike asked angrily before the last period of the day started.
"Is what true?" Puck asked.
"That you slept with Kristi Spinner!"
Puck frowned and his eyebrows knitted in confusion. "Who?"
"I dunno," Puck muttered with a casual shrug, "Is she a hot chick? We might've fucked."
"Dude!" Mike yelled as he punched him in the shoulder while making sure Puck couldn't duck out of the way. "How could you do that to Rachel, man?" he asked angrily, glaring at him.
Puck's eyes widened and he ignored the punch due to the sudden feeling of dread from hearing Rachel's name thrown into the mix. "Wait. What are you talking about? And what's it got to do with her?"
"I'm talking about the rumors of you banging Kristi Saturday night!"
"Saturday night?" Puck repeated dumbly.
"Wait," Mike paused, looking at him. "I'm talking about Saturday night," he paused once again, giving his friend an odd look, "What are you talking about?"
"I thought you were talking about 'at all'. If Kristi's her name, we didn't get that far on Saturday," Puck mumbled.
Mike raised an eyebrow. "Then…how far did you guys get? ...Did you guys, like…fondle?" He wrinkled his nose.
Puck stared at him flatly. "Yeah. Sure. Two horny teenagers in a bed. 'Fondling', if that's what you wanna call it."
"Argh. My mind just went to dark places." Mike sighed. "Okay, whatever. The thing is, this rumor's been going around and Rachel's been getting a lot of shit for it and she's been looking more and more upset throughout the day."
"What?" Puck said dumbly. "Why's she been getting shit?"
"People think you're secretly dating. And that you just cheated on her, thus sending her into a spiral of humiliation."
"Dude, why you always gotta be so damn dramatic?" Puck raised an eyebrow. "And that dating rumor is totally whack and you know it."
Mike fixed his friend with a cold, hurt glare. "So not the point. You've got to fix this with Rachel. She thinks…I dunno what she thinks, okay? But she definitely feels cheated."
"Why would she even care about this? It's not like we've been dating or whatever." Puck grumbled uncomfortably, rolling his eyes. "Girls, man. Jeeze."
Mike gestured wildly and vaguely at Puck, eyes widening to the size of saucers. "Dude! You think that I wouldknow? I don't know what goes on in their heads! Girls are crazy, and you picked the craziest one out there!" He paused, before quickly tacking on, "Rachel's nice, though."
"Okay, I agree with you on the crazy comment, but what the fuck did you mean by 'you picked the craziest one out there'?" Puck asked suspiciously, eyes narrowing into slits.
Mike's eyes remained in their widened state, but Puck could definitely see the fear creeping into them as they darted about. He froze, spine becoming rigid, as he awkwardly said, "Did you shave your head again? Your Mohawk looks great! Well, good luck with Rachel, man!" and spun on his heel, sprinting down the hallway.
"Chang! Chang! Imma kick your ass!" Puck shouted furiously after him.
"Hey, Rachel, are you feeling okay?"
Rachel shook her head, snapping out of her stupor to look at Finn. "I'm sorry?" she said with a forced smile.
Finn frowned at her and tilted his head to the side. "You seem…out of it."
"Oh, I'm fine!" Rachel replied, waving a hand dismissively at him, flashing him a brilliant smile.
"Rach?" he said softly, "I don't believe you."
"I just...I found out about something I would've been better off not knowing," she finally sighed.
Finn nodded understandingly and said, "Yeah. I know how that feels. When I was seven, I found out that all those superheroes weren't real. Like, the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers? They weren't even real Americans! They totally jacked the footage from Japan and cut it up and stuck white people in."
Rachel blinked slowly at him, before saying in soft voice, "Yes, Finn. It's just like that."
(She didn't think she was humoring him, either.)
During Glee rehearsal, Rachel made sure to appear completely fine and unbothered when she was around Puck. But maybe she was putting forth a lot more effort than necessary; she was so annoyingly grating and cheerful that Puck immediately knew she was faking it; because if she legit was like that all the goddamn time?
Her body would have been found buried somewhere ages ago.
He waited until after Glee to confront her as everyone filtered out.
Mike took his two fingers, pointed at his own eyes and then at Puck, in the universal 'I'm watching you' gesture. Somehow, he managed to also convey 'Don't fuck it up or I'll go ninja on your ass'. Puck rolled his eyes and saluted mockingly at him as he watched his friend leave.
"Hey, Berry," he said gruffly, putting a hand on her shoulder as she straightened from picking up her things.
She gave a startled cry and jumped. Puck quickly retracted his hand as she spun around, her music folder clutched to her chest. "Oh, Noah," she murmured breathlessly, "It's merely you…"
He eyed her carefully for a few moments and then sighed, losing his resolve to 'confront' her. "C'mon, I'll take you home."
She hesitated for a second before answering with low, "Alright, I suppose."
He frowned but didn't say anything else.
The trip to his truck was silent and by the time he'd gotten into the driver's seat, he was feeling more than a little anxious.
As he left the parking lot, he quickly glanced over at Rachel, who was playing with the hem of her skirt, studiously looking at her hands.
"Why so down, Berry? You were perkier than Miss Pillsbury's boo—"
She turned to him and snapped, "I'm going to stop you right there."
"I mean, they're barely there, but you kn—"
His eyebrows furrowed in confusion. "What?"
She glared at him irritably before sighing and turning away. "Just take me home, Noah."
"Why?" he asked loudly, sending her a glare of his own, before diverting his eyes back to the road. "Berry, you're not acting all bent outta shape because of some rumor, are you?"
"Kirsti Spinner came up to me to gleefully declare about you two fornicating Saturday night!"
"I don't even know what that means!" he shouted.
She closed her eyes and leaned her head back against her seat. "It means you two had sexual intercourse," she muttered flatly.
"Whoa, whoa! Hold up. That crazy bitch totally enlarged the story!"
Rachel whipped her head around to look at him. "Excuse me?" She paused before adding, "And I think you may have meant 'embellished'."
"Whatever," he said, rolling his eyes. "I didn't bone her, trust me."
Rachel's eyes narrowed. "Then why would she say such a thing?"
"Hell if I know," he snorted. "Maybe she thought we got that far; she was wasted that night. Or she wanted a piece of Puck Pie so bad—"
"That's disgusting," she interjected under her breath.
"—that she had to lie about it," he finished.
"I don't believe you," she stated simply.
He gaped at her. "The hell, Berry! I'm telling you the fucking truth here!"
She faltered momentarily. "Well, then what on Earth could have possibly led her to believe that you two engaged in sexual—"
"You've gotta stop calling it that, Berry," Puck said in a pained voice, "It's such a boner-kill."
"Noah! My turn is coming up! You need to—you missed it," she finished flatly, glaring at him once more, "On purpose."
"Oops," he said falsely, with a casual shrug. "Berry, I'm telling you, nothing happened." He winced as the words left his mouth and as her glare hardened. "Okay, so something did happened. But we...we just fondled…" he finished lamely.
Her eyebrow arched at him and she looked up at him in disbelief. "'Fondled'?" she repeated and they could both practically hear the finger quotes.
He shifted in his seat uncomfortably. "Yeah."
She pursed her lips. "I see," she said calmly, crossing her arms and looking out her window as he pulled into his driveway.
The second he stopped, she stepped out of the truck and slammed the door closed. He winced and stepped followed suit. She then proceeded to stomp over to the Rosenberg's. "Go ahead and wait inside. I'll pick up Dani on my own," she called harshly over her shoulder.
Puck grumbled obscenities under his breath and jogged up the steps to the front door.