A Whole 'Nother Language – Part One
Summary: He's not like a normal person. In fact, he speaks a whole 'nother language. PuckleBerry Three-Shot. Mostly AU.
Author's note: Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy!
They're not friends. And Rachel seriously doubts whether they ever can be.
It's been months since Puck joined Glee, and yet neither he nor she feels it's necessary to pretend to be nice to each other. Sure, she tolerates his presence for the good of the club, but after a year of weekly, sometimes daily, slushie facials she doesn't see the need to talk to him any more than absolutely necessary.
It's not like she expects an apology. Because she knows she's never going to get one.
But that doesn't mean she doesn't notice him.
He's talented. She'll give him that. He may even sing better than her leading man, Finn. But there's no emotion behind his notes. No feeling behind his words. So she mostly just ignores him, and pretends not to notice that he hasn't slushied her since he joined Glee. What would be the point?
That's why it's so shocking when she finds him in the music room after school one day, idly strumming out some melody she's never heard before on his guitar. It's a beautiful tune, in a sad, depressing sort of way, and she can't help the small little gasp that escapes her mouth when she realises that he's actually making it up on the spot.
When his eyes meet hers, he looks a bit like a deer caught in headlights; unsure whether to stay put or make a mad dash for freedom.
To both their surprise, Rachel is the first to move. She walks purposefully over to the piano and takes a seat before sounding out a soft harmony to match his melody. So he just shrugs his shoulders and joins in and they spend the better part of the afternoon composing a song that they know will probably never leave this room.
But it doesn't matter, because for a little while, it just works. And the mistakes of the past, and the unspoken tension is let go, and both Rachel and Puck are okay with pretending that the rest of high school just doesn't exist.
A few hours later, they're both brought back to reality when his phone starts buzzing, and he instantly begins packing up his guitar. So obviously, he has an elsewhere to be.
They both pack in silence, and as he's about to leave, Rachel finds herself breaking the unspoken rule of not speaking to each other, "Mr. Shuester allows me to use the music room to practice after school on a weekly basis. If you are amenable, I would like to continue the work we started next week."
Puck simply shrugs his shoulders and grunts in response as he walks out of the room, leaving her to puzzle over his actions.
He doesn't mention it for the rest of the week. So neither does she. And she takes his silence to mean an emphatic NO.
So, she's more than a little surprised to find him in the music room the following week plucking out a new tune on his guitar.
And that's how it starts.
On Monday and Thursday afternoons they have Glee rehearsal. On Tuesday and Friday afternoons, he has football practice and she goes to the local Community Centre for dance classes. But on Wednesdays, he's there, and she's there, and she's not quite sure what to call it. So she doesn't label the time they spend together as anything.
However, from then on, she learns that a grunt and a shrug from Puck, means (okay).
A few weeks later, she sees him walking towards her in the hallway holding a distinctive red and white cup, and she mentally kicks herself for believing that she could put the slushie facial days behind her. She's also panicking internally, because it's been weeks since she's kept an extra change of clothes in her locker.
As he approaches, the purple slushie looming ever closer, Rachel closes her eyes and tries to prepare herself for the inevitable cold, sticky solution and the utter humiliation she's going to feel walking down the halls in her gym clothes for the rest of the day.
However, the anticipated doom never comes. And when she opens her eyes, she finds herself staring at a lopsided smirk as he hands her the drink and straw. The look on her face must say it all, because he simply shrugs and continues off down the hall, as if this was the most normal of occurrences.
A short while later, as she's staring at the almost completely melted slushie liquid, what he's trying to say it suddenly hits her.
And despite this revelation, she finds herself getting more and more confused by the minute.
Rachel's setting up for Glee rehearsal one day, and for some unknown reason Mr. Shue, or one of the other music groups at William McKinley, has decided the best place to put the microphone equipment is on the top shelf of the cupboard, instead of the usual lower-middle shelf, which is completely empty.
She decides the best way to get them down is by climbing onto one of the chairs, so at least she won't accidentally drop everything on her head as her fingertips are reaching out. However, what she has failed to account for is the heavy weight of the equipment, and the fact that she can no longer see her feet as she tries to manoeuvre her way down.
Just as she steps down, her foot gets caught on a microphone cord that's dangling loosely from the box, and she trips, almost losing control before the side of her face slams straight into what feels like a brick wall, only more muscle-ly.
"Crap Berry, watch where you're going!" A harsh voice speaks in her ear, and she looks up to see an irritated Puck towering over her. Only his arms are wrapped around her and he's leaning forward, as if he actually tried to catch her.
(You should really be more careful.)
They stand still for a moment in this no- so-uncomfortable position. But a few seconds later, they hear voices approaching and he seems to realise that she's in his arms. He almost jumps back in shock, before taking the heavy box from her hands.
"Next time, wait till someone who isn't a midget to get the microphones down. Otherwise you'll fall flat on your face."
(Next time, just wait for someone who can reach to get the equipment. Otherwise you might get hurt.)
She tries to smile as she mumbles a "thank you" but she's sure that it's lost amongst the noise the other Glee members are making as they enter the choir room.
It's just her luck that the one day that she doesn't have her car (her Daddy needed it since his was getting serviced), the dependably inaccurate weatherman decides to get the forecast right for a change, because at that moment it's raining cats and dogs outside and it's a twenty-minute walk home.
The school bus is long gone by now since Rachel had Glee rehearsal after school, and since she stayed late back, as usual, to help pack up while all the other members dashed off to be elsewhere, she can't even get a sympathy ride from anyone.
Rachel lets out a deep sigh before pulling up the hood of her pink polka-dot rain coat and pushes open the large glass doors of the main building. Her coat proves to be completely useless as she's almost instantly soaked from head to foot. There's also no point getting out her umbrella because the strong winds will undoubtedly cause it to turn inside out.
She stares at the ground, because it's hopeless to try and look beyond the layers of heavy rain, and makes sure that she keeps her footing. No need to add falling in a mud puddle to this miserable afternoon. She's concentrating so hard on looking where she's going that she doesn't notice the beat-up old chevy pull up next to her, and it's not until the blaring horn sounds that she realizes someone is trying to get her attention.
Looking up, she walks over to the passenger side window just as it's being rolled down to see an annoyed looking Puck glaring at her.
"Get in!" he shouts over the pounding rain.
(I'll give you a lift home.)
Since she's almost numb from the cold, she doesn't hesitate to listen to him. "T-t-t-thanks," she somehow manages to say between chattering teeth as she climbs in.
"Damnit Berry, you're getting my car all wet!" he growls as he turns the heater up full and grabs her stuff before throwing it onto the back seat.
(Rachel, you're soaked!)
He starts rifling through his gym bag before pulling out a dry jersey and placing it in his lap. He turns back and a few seconds later he pulls out a large red towel. "Here," he says while leaning over and grabbing her by the jacket.
Her teeth are still chattering as he pulls off the pink plastic, and proceeds to wrap the towel around her, rubbing her shoulders to try and soak up most of the excess water. After he's satisfied that she's sufficiently dry, he releases her and chucks the jersey in her face.
(Put this on before you freeze to death.)
He starts fiddling around with all the air vents as she pulls the jersey over her head, trying to point them all towards her. He then leans over and grabs her hands, swearing under his breath as he literally pulls her towards the heat.
(You're hands are freezing.)
She remains silent the entire time, more from wonder than from the cold, because even though they've been getting along better than usual lately, she'd never expect Puck to be so caring towards her. But she doesn't want to offend him and get thrown back out into the cold, so stays quiet as he revs his engine, and starts to back up his car a little.
"Strathfield, right?" He asks as he turns a corner.
(You live on Strathfield street, right?)
She nods, once again surprised that he knows where she lives, but then she remembers that he's egged her house on more than one occasion before, so it really shouldn't be a surprise.
They sit in silence the rest of the way.
By the time they reach her house, the rain has died down a little bit, and it just figures that the weather decides to quit just as he pulls into the drive way. They sit idly for a few minutes before Rachel finally finds her voice again. "Thank you for your kindness, Noah."
"Don't mention it. Seriously." He barks, but then he turns to look her in the eye and there's a hint of smile on his lips.
(Don't worry about it.)
She's hesitant to get out of the car, but she figures it's her cue to leave when he leans back and collects her things before handing them to her.
Her hand is on the door handle but before she understands what she's doing, she turns back and asks, "Would you like to come in for a hot beverage?"
Puck studies her for a moment before responding. "I can't."
And suddenly she feels really stupid, so she looks away as she whispers, "Oh..." but just as she's about to leave he lets out a loud sigh.
"I've gotta pick up my sister from the baby sitter's."
(I would, but I actually can't.)
"Oh," She replies, but this time she's wearing a small smile. "Well, thanks again for driving me home." And her brain must have shut down for a moment, because she leans across the seat and presses a brief kiss on his cheek before scrambling out of the car.
She doesn't look back as she makes her way inside her house, not wanting to see the disgusted look on his face after her momentary lapse in cognitive function, but her smile brightens when she realises that his car doesn't roar back to life until two minutes after she's safely inside the house.
They rocked regionals.
It was pretty much a given after the star Vocal Adrenaline singer/athlete miscalculated the landing of his infamous triple back flip and ended up knocking over a third of the other performers.
Rachel might have almost felt bad for them, if it weren't for all the overconfident grins and leers the Carmel student's had been giving all the McKinley Gleeks since their arrival in Columbus for the competition.
It had been three days of performing and watching as the best schools from all over the state battled for the coveted regional trophy. Carmel had been so sure they would win, as they had every year for the past decade. But obviously, their heavy reliance on a flashy trick came back to bite them in the ass.
McKinley placed second. Carmel came sixth.
As a celebration for the end of regionals, rumour of a party swiftly spread throughout the hotel, and soon enough, Rachel finds herself being dragged down to the hotel lobby by Tina and Mercedes to meet the other members of Glee.
"Finally!" Mike whispers loudly as they approach, trying not to gain any extra attention from the hotel staff. "What took you guys so long?"
"Well, Miss. Diva over here was being boring and almost refused to come." Mercedes explains as they file out of the hotel and head towards the club. "Luckily, Tina and I managed to convince her."
"More like blackmailed." Rachel mutters under her breath, before speaking to the rest of the group. "Loud thumping music can cause irreparable damage to my ears. How am I supposed to become a world renowned singer/musician/performer if I can't hear? I recently read in an article on how..."
"Save it Grandma. I really don't wanna hear it again and I'm pretty sure nobody else does either. We're already almost there and you're looking smokin'. There's no point in fighting it anymore."
She huffs a little at Mercedes' interruption, but the rest of the Glee kids have already stopped listening anyway. Instead, they are all getting excited about going to their first big city night club.
Rachel still doesn't see how they're going to get in, a point which she brought up repeatedly as Mercedes and Tina had practically held her hostage while getting ready, but apparently 'they' have it covered.
As they're walking, Rachel takes a moment to look at the rest of the group. As always, Quinn and her mindless Cheerettes looked beautiful in a way that really shouldn't be appropriate for the three leading members of the Celibacy Club. Kurt has on this outrageous sequinned vest and fedora that just seemed to work, while the other boys are all wearing similar clothes to what they wore back home, except clean.
She is so busy examining the others that she almost misses the smirk Puck gives her as his eyes connect with hers. Almost. His smile widens as he lifts his eyebrows suggestively and winks.
(Nice going Berry. You look hot.)
Since Rachel can't stop the blush from colouring her cheeks she looks away, and concentrates on walking to the club in these ridiculously tall heels that, in Mercedes' words, 'make her legs look like every boy's fantasy'. Which is kind of true, but Rachel doesn't want to encourage this kind of rebellious behaviour, so she doesn't tell Mercedes that she agrees.
By the time they arrived at the club, the place is already overcrowded with members from all of the other show choirs. They get in without any problems, because apparently Kurt has gotten friendly with the guy whose friend's Uncle owns the place. They just have to wear one of those silly stamps that in no way can prove that they are underage. The rest of the Gleeks have already rubbed their stamps off by the time they reach the bar, and they're all going a little crazy with excitement.
Rachel, however, feels unsure about following this particular action. Sure, she's here ready to dance and have fun, but she doesn't really feel like getting drunk in a strange city surrounded by people she doesn't know. In fact she doubts that she'd even do so back home with people she does know.
So instead, she politely declines the vodka and coke that Mike tries to hand her, and orders a bottle of water. She's heard too many stories about mysterious drugs being dropped into drinks. At least this way she can ensure that she's not getting slipped anything weird by the pulsing crowd around her.
Before she knows it, Rachel is being pulled onto the dance floor by Kurt and Mercedes, followed closely behind by Tina and Artie, and she allows herself to get lost in the music with her friends. She spends hours dancing with most of the other members of Glee.
She even laughs hysterically as the Finn, Mike and Matt openly drool over her and Quinn as they get a bit silly and grind together for one song. The WMHS golden couple quickly disappear after that and are not seen again for the rest of the night.
After dancing several dances with Matt, Mike, and she even spins around with Artie a few times, she looks up to find herself dancing with a guy she doesn't know and that's when things are start to get a little out of control.
Actually, 'a lot' out of control.
She doesn't really know how, but somehow she's separated herself from her friends and is dancing with a boy she recognises from the Carmel team. Since she's not one to hold grudges, she obliges, and decides that she'll take a break and find the others after the song ends.
The boy in front of her sends her a smile, which is leaning more towards a leer than a smile, but since she's never been in this kind of social situation before, she doesn't know how to respond. So, Rachel politely returns his smile and continues dancing.
Apparently this was the wrong move, because the guy starts to move forward and places his hands on her hips, bringing his face inches from hers. She can smell the alcohol on his breath, and now notices the drunken glint in his eye as his eyes trail up and down her body.
Feeling immensely uncomfortable, she decides she no longer wants to wait, and she starts to back away, only to feel his grip tighten as he starts to grind his hips into hers.
Disgusted, Rachel tries to push him away. "Let go!" She shouts in protest, but her voice is lost in the loud overbearing music.
"Oh come on," he leers forward and speaks into her ear, totally oblivious to her effort to push him away. "You know you want it."
"I most certainly do not." She replies indignantly, and starts to panic as he pulls her forward again with more force, and her arms collapse against his chest. "Let me go this instant!"
"No tease, I don't think I will. I've been watching you all night, and you've just been begging for someone like me to come along and take care of you."
She brings her arm up to slap him away, but he's surprisingly quick for someone who appears to be drunk, and he catches her wrist before she makes contact.
"Stop it! Let go of me!"
In that moment, a blur comes out of nowhere, and she shrieks as she covers her face trying to block whatever it is.
The next thing she knows, Rachel looks out from behind her hands to see the nameless guy on the floor cradling his face. Someone beside her grabs her wrist and starts pulling her towards the exit. It all happens so fast that it's not until a few moments later that the shock wears off and she realises she's being pulled along by a very angry looking Puck as they rush past a sea of curious onlookers.
Once they're out of the building, Puck drops her hand like it burns and storms off up the street without looking at her. He gets about ten metres away before he turns back and yells, "Well, what are you waiting for?"
(Come on. Let's get back.)
Feeling a little unsure of herself, Rachel cautiously makes her way up to him. She's seen Puck in various states of moodiness before, but he's never been this angry. Once she reaches him, he grabs her wrist once more, but this time he's gentler as he peers at it before dropping it again.
He turns his gaze to her face and examines her in a way that makes her shiver with anticipation.
(Are you okay?)
He shrugs of his jacket and hands it to her.
(Are you cold?)
He doesn't slip it on her shoulders like they do in the movies, but the message is clear. She accepts it and slips her arms into the sleeves, wrapping it around her. She's not cold, but it's filled with Puck's warmth, so she's sure there's a metaphor in there that could express what she's feeling at that moment. Well, that and confusion.
He examines her for another moment.
She feels herself getting lost in his eyes that are no longer filled with anger, but something more akin to concern, and possibly desire. But she knows that has to be a mistake.
Then suddenly it's like he remembers why they're here and his face clouds over in anger once more. So she watches as he turns away and starts storming back to the hotel.
But now the shock of what happened has completely worn off, and Rachel finally finds her voice again.
"Noah?" She calls after him as she attempts to keep up with his long strides. But the feeling has come back to her feet and she realises that the ridiculously tall shoes really were a bad idea for dancing, so it's more difficult than normal for her to continue the pace. "Noah, why are you mad at me?"
He turns his head to the side and grunts in response.
But she can see his face still holds that stormy expression, so she knows he's lying.
"Noah, I'm sorry. I didn't realise..."
"You should've..." He grunts out, never breaking his stride.
"How could I have known..." She starts, but again, he interrupts her.
"Just look at you, Berry." He's still looking ahead, but at least he's talking. "Any guy with, you know, eyes is gonna take one look at what you're wearing and think you're easy."
(You look good, Rachel. But you have to know that any guy with eyes is going to want to make a move on you.)
She lets out a dignified gasp and asks heatedly. "And what precisely is wrong with how I'm dressed?"
He stops so abruptly, that she almost walks straight into his back. "You're kidding right?" he asks, as he turns around to face her.
(Don't you see?)
"I happen to believe that what I am wearing is perfectly appropriate for attending a club." She replies calmly, trying to understand why he's so upset with her.
He snorts derisively. "Yeah, a strip club!"
(No, it's not. Not if anyone but me is looking.)
"Did you just imply that I'm dressed like a stripper?" She shrieks her temper rising as she gains a few questioning looks from other pedestrians.
"Well, come to think of it, yeah. Some punk takes one look at you and he's gonna think that he's gonna get into your pants because, well, just because of what you're wearing and, because you're smiling at them like you do!"
(It doesn't matter that I think you look good. It's about what they see when you're looking so good. And any teenage punk is going to take one look at you, and want to have sex with you. You have to be more careful. If you're too nice, then they're going to think that you're okay with that. And sometimes even when it's not okay, they'll still do it anyway. And you have a pretty smile. )
"Why are you getting angry me?" Her voice is getting louder and shriller with each syllable. "I didn't ask him to maul me, Noah!"
"Well that's not what it looked like from where I was standing!"
(Yeah I know. But dancing with him didn't help anything.)
"Are you implying that I purposefully lead him on just so I could get manhandled?"
"Huh?" he replies incredulously.
(What? Of course not.)
"Then what are you trying to say?" she yells impatiently.
She waits for an answer, but one never comes. Puck just continues to stare at her with his stormy expression on his face.
After a minute of silence, he sighs and runs a hand through his Mohawk, before turning away to head back to the hotel.
But there is no way she is going to let that happen.
"Don't you walk away from me, Noah Puckerman!" She grabs his arm to swing him around with surprising force for such a petite young woman. "What are you – "
But she never gets to finish repeating her question, because the next thing she knows, he's holding her face between his hands as he presses his mouth against hers with such earnest that she thinks her lips burn from the heat.
She blinks in surprise as she tries to comprehend what's happening, but before she can, he's running his tongue against her bottom lip and she finds herself closing her eyes and sinking into his kiss.
It's fiery and explosive, and now she finally understands what all those damn writers and poets are always going on about.
She doesn't care that they're standing in the middle of the sidewalk, or that people are coughing loudly for them to get out of the way. She doesn't care that somewhere in the background there are cars honking and idiots wolf-whistling. All she cares about is the warmth of his lips on hers, the smell of his after shave, the bristle of his chin and that she can feel his heart thudding fast when she places her hands on his chest to keep from falling over.
An eternity later, he pulls back slightly and rests his forehead on hers. Her eyes flutter open, and she finds herself once again staring into his eyes.
(Now do you see?)
"Oh," she breathes out, as she licks her tender lips and his eyes drop down in desire, focusing on the tip of her tongue.
The spell is broken when they hear the drunken singing of Matt, Mike and Brittany coming up the street, and once again Puck drops his hands like he's being burnt, as if he's only just realised what he's done.
He silently steps back and shakes his head, before shoving his hands in his pockets as he turns and resumes stalking back towards the hotel, only this time he doesn't stop to wait for her.
Rachel simply stands there as she stares after him, feeling confusion wash over her once again.