I can hardly believe it, but this is it! The final chapter!! I've had a blast writing this story, and I hope you guys have enjoyed it too. Please, please drop me a note and let me know what you think. The good, the bad, the whatever. You guys have been so great and so encouraging! Thanks for helping me dab my toes back in the land of writing fan fic!

Also, I wanted to be sure and mention that I have put my services up for the Support Stacie fic auction they are having. If you need more details, send me a message and I'll be happy to give them to you!

Chapter Twelve

The thing about relationships is that sometimes they sneak up on you. One minute you're happily boning some chick, the next she's asking you to meet her parents and hold her hand at school. (And we're not talking the stupid minor league elbow holding shit he let Rachel get away with during that week. We're talking the full on, possessive Back Off You Other Bitches hand holding that chicks just love.)

Noah Puckerman has always been an expert at watching for that crucial moment when a fling threatens to become something more. Something lame. That's when he splits.

But this thing with Rachel. That snuck up on him.

Not only has he not boned her (not even fucking close), but he's pretty damn sure Rachel would sell a kidney before allowing him (and his mohawk) anywhere near her dads. (Thank the lord) But the weird thing? He kind of wants to hold her hand. At school. In front of people.

What. The. Fuck.

Don't misunderstand. He wants to bone her. Badly. But somehow it's become about more than that. And that shit? That's what snuck up on him. (His badass card is totally going to get revoked)

Sighing, he looks over Rachel walking next to him across the school parking lot. She's talking a mile a minute about some new musical or some other shit. He rubs the back of his neck before shoving both hands in his jacket pocket. Rachel abruptly stops to make a dramatic point (all he hears is something about some dude named Tony who apparently ripped off some other dude named Neil and someone gave someone else some stupid award) but Puck can't stop looking around the parking lot.

Just how many dudes go to this fucking school, anyway? And how has he never noticed them all before?

Rachel grabs his arm and shakes it until he looks down at her.

"Noah, why aren't you listening to me? I really think that is important for you to know the history of...."

But Puck can't listen because all of a sudden he notices Rachel's skirt (which appears to be the size of a large belt). To be honest, he noticed all that bare thigh she was rockin the minute he picked her up this morning, but it is occurring to him that he's not the only guy who can see her legs. He hears a catcall and shoots a suspicious glare across the parking lot before he realizes that it is just some lame asshole trying to say good morning to a group of Cheerios walking in the front door of the school.

"....music can truly bring you and Finn back together if you would just...."

The hand in Puck's right pocket twitches as he sees some freshman dick he doesn't know catch sight of Rachel. The idiot's expression doesn't change, but Puck knows what he's thinking. He's about to go spell a few things out for the little punk when he feels a hand on his arm and realizes that Rachel is still talking.

"....maybe the two of you should learn a duet for when you do your volunteer work...."

Fuck. He'd been hoping she would forget about Finn's stupid ass singing volunteer story. He should have known better. The crazy in this chick just never lets up.

It's majorly annoying, and yet.....Puck's realizing that maybe there's something to be said for knowing what you want and doing something about it.

Giving one last dirty look to the still-staring freshman douche, Puck takes a deep breath and pulls one hand free of his jacket.

"...though I think we've established that you should really keep clear of any songs from Mary Poppins..."

Rachel's voice comes to an abrupt stop as Puck grabs her hand. Her brow scrunches and she frowns as she stares down at their hands and then quickly looks back up at him. Puck just grins as he winks, twines his fingers with hers and pulls a totally silent (yet no longer frowning) Rachel Berry into the front hall of the school.

(She doesn't catch the smug look he shoots back at any freshmen who might be watching.)

*******

This is how it starts

*******

Rachel's not sure what she was expecting when she answers her door, but she doesn't think anyone could fault her for being struck dumb by the sight of Noah Puckerman on her front porch holding a bouquet of half dead carnations. She's silent for a few minutes as he squirms uncomfortably under the porch light. Finally, she softly shuts the front door behind her and says the first thing that pops into her head.

"Did you steal those?"

Puck looks down at the flowers and gives a strange little half shrug before shoving them at her. He cocks an eyebrow.

"Does it matter?"

Rachel's jaw drops (but her eyebrows stay put, so Puck's pretty damn sure she's faking her outrage). She really wants to tell him that Yes, it certainly DOES matter, but she knows that would be a lie. The truth is, no one has ever given her flowers before. (Dads don't count)

She's standing on her front porch in the dark and a boy just brought her flowers. And not just any boy.

Noah I'm romantically stunted beyond hope Puckerman just brought her flowers. He could have stolen them from his grandmother for all she cares.

She reaches out and takes the bouquet from him as he give her his best you know you want a piece of this look.

"I believe the ... correct thing to, to....well, do in this situation is to graciously take the....the gift that has been....well, offered and to, to.... offer my t-t-thanks in return."

Rachel clears her throat. She knows she sounds stiff and ridiculous and she's never really stuttered like this in her entire life. But he just brought her flowers. She doesn't know what to do. (Sometimes she really wishes she had the instincts of a normal girl.)

Puck rolls his eyes at her tone. He's feeling more and more like an idiot, and he really wishes she's get on with the being grateful part of this whole scene. Acting like a pussy was supposed to make Rachel jump him (or at the very least show him her bra). Instead, all he's managed to do so far is make her stutter and blink at him like a nervous owl. He's about to say something stupid when a word slips through Rachel's lips so softly he barely hears it.

"Why?"

She cringes after she says it and he can tell she wants the question back. And Puck would love nothing better than to act like he didn't hear her. But for some reason he can't do anything but say the first thing that pops into his head.

"Cause you bring out the fucking girl in me, Berry."

Rachel blinks rapidly at him but says nothing. She has no idea what that means. That can't be a good thing to do to a boy, can it? Is he saying she makes him feel emasculated? And if so, why on earth would that make him want to bring her half dead carnations? (She never knew just talking to someone could be quite so hard and so very confusing.) Tilting her head, she looks at him and decides to continue with the truth.

"I have no idea what that means."

He sighs.

"Neither do I."

******

Confused confessions are how it started. This is how it continued......

*******

They're sitting in silence on the steps of her front porch. Her flowers are lying next to her and Rachel's thinking about all of those ridiculous balls of butter that he helped her pick up which makes her think about wearing his Flaming Lips t-shirt which makes her think about how good Noah smells which makes her think about the Thoughts and Meditations room.

Rachel shudders and her abrupt movement catches Puck's attention. The night air has gotten kind of cold but he's been so uncomfortable he hasn't really noticed. He doesn't want her to go back inside, though, so he shrugs off his jacket and tosses it on her lap even though she's only sitting about 6 inches to his right. (Laying the jacket gently on her lap just seems like something Finn would do and he doesn't want to do anymore stupid Finn Gestures tonight.)

"Here. Put it on before your midget body freezes."

She glances at him in surprise, but doesn't argue as she slips it on. Puck watches her give a weird little smile as she wraps herself up in his jacket (and he swears she just sniffed the collar). The whole thing is disturbingly hot, so he distracts himself by standing up and cracking his knuckles. Loudly.

"So."

Looking oddly relaxed in his jacket, Rachel finally smiles at him.

"So....what are you doing here, Noah?"

Puck shoves his hands in his pockets and paces in front of her. (She's afraid if he pushes his hands any deeper into those jeans there will be a problem. He still wears them ridiculously baggy.) He shrugs as he glances at her.

"Can't a guy just come say congratulations?" (And sound like a total ass while he's at it? This was so stupid. Puck cannot figure out what possessed him to come.)

Rachel stands up and crosses her arms (as well as she can while wearing a jacket that is twice her size.

"Not a guy who has been a total ass for most of the day."

Puck shoots her an impressed look and Rachel can't help but grin.

"What? I believe that is the technically correct word for your behavior today." Her grin falls a little bit. "Sometimes jerk just doesn't cut it."

Puck pulls his hands out of his pocket to cross them across his chest (Rachel can't help but breather a sigh of relief on behalf of his jeans), and glares at her.

"Whatever, Berry. You were the one ignoring Me. I can't help it if there are other chicks out there that want some of this."

Rachel's jaw drops in outrage (her eyebrows hit her hairline, so Puck knows it is real this time), but he's started pacing on the front lawn and doesn't stop talking.

"And besides, you're one to talk. Flirting with Finn one minute, sharing candy with the enemy the next! How is a guy supposed to have a chance when you're just off flittering around..." (His hands give a strange little shake in the air) "...with any dude that looks at you twice!"

"Noah..."

"And another thing!" Puck stops pacing and looks down at her, "I fucking watched Harry Potter with you, Berry. But does that count for anything? Noooo. I sang you songs from Mary Fucking Poppins! But I talk to one blonde and you're just jumping back into it with that asshole who insulted your team." He raises both eyebrows at her "Whatever happened to team loyalty, huh? Nice leadership, Team Captain!"

Raising an eyebrow, Rachel uncrosses her arms and puts her hands on her hips. "Noah Puckerman!"

"What!"

Rachel frowns at him (she really thinks that glare on his face is hostile and unnecessary) "Stop having a hissy fit and just tell me why you really brought me flowers!"

"Because I don't want those other assholes to get to second base before I do!"

Puck's pretty sure he must have yelled that loud enough for the neighbors to hear. Oops. Also? It seems to have insulted Rachel because he has to gently grab her by the arm to keep her from storming back in the house.

"Rach. Wait. I didn't mean that." (Uh, yeah. He TOTALLY meant that). "I just meant -- well, I don't like it when you ignore me. And....and.....well, I think we should keep hooking up."

This time she makes it all the way to the front door.

"Just you and me!" Desperation makes Puck spit out the words quickly.

Rachel stops with her hand on the door knob but doesn't turn around.

"I....I mean.....we just hook up with each other. No big deal."

Rachel turns around with a frown, "No other girls?"

(He can't decide if he's flattered or insulted by the look of disbelief on her face)

Puck nods. "No other chicks. But more importantly, no other dudes."

Rachel starts to smile, and Puck feels a panicked need in his chest to clarify. "Don't get me wrong. This isn't like, some retarded relationship. Other people don't need to, like, know anything." He's afraid he's pissed her off again but Puck's surprised when Rachel gives a thoughtful nod.

"I think that is probably a good idea."

"It is?" (He tries not to sound so surprised, but doesn't think it works)

Nodding, Rachel bites her lower lip (Puck tries not to groan). "Well, clearly we have shown that we are very compatible from a chemistry standpoint. I think it could be a good learning experience for us both. And there's no need to get the gossips in the school talking and making something of it that it clearly isn't." (She thinks she is successful at masking any bitterness that may have snuck in that last sentence).

Puck doesn't know why he's getting so annoyed. She's just agreeing with him. "Well, good, then." He resists the urge to shake her hand. "So.....wanna start now?"

Rachel rolls her eyes as she bends down to pick up her carnations from the floor of the porch. "No. My fathers are due home anytime now. You really should be going."

Feeling weird, but having no idea why, Puck just nods and starts to back down the steps. "Ok. Well, I'll talk to you later."

He's two steps into the yard when he stops and silently curses himself. He just left a girl on the front porch (a girl he now has the official right to make out with whenever he wants -- at least that's how he's interpreting their agreement...) and is just leaving without any action. When did this whole night turn into a fucking Finn impersonation? Puck spins back around, jogs up the steps and grabs Rachel before she can really even process what he's doing.

"Noah, what...."

Her questions are cut off by the press of his lips against hers and the warm slide of his hands under his jacket (that she's still wearing). Soon he has her pressed up against the front door as she nibbles on his lower lip. His hands are on her ass and her hands are up his shirt (the flowers are back on the floor somewhere) and Puck thinks he's never made a better deal in his life.

Rachel eventually pulls back, leans her head against the door and gives him a shy grin.

"Give me a ride to school on Monday?"

******

And all that shit? That's how Noah Puckerman and Rachel Berry started the most dysfunctional (and hot) non-relationship of their young lives.

~The End~