Disclaimer: I do not own the 'Glee' world.
A/N So here we are guys; last chapter!
Lots of love to all those who reviewed/favourited/alerted this story : )
Well done to NeitherHaveIWings2Fly for being super clever and working out what Rachel was missing about Noah's behaviour. And special thanks to Vivilou for her kind words and support when I was a little blocked xXx
Anyway, on with the last chapter!
Chapter 14: Choices
Rachel Berry didn't sleep very well on Monday evening. All the thoughts that she could distract herself from in the daytime could not be so easily avoided when she was lying in bed. That doesn't mean that she didn't try to keep them out of her head though. First of all she attempted to name a Broadway musical from A to Z to try and wind down her mind and induce herself into sleep. And so the list went: Annie, Billy Elliot, Chicago, Dreamgirls, Evita, Funny Girl, Guys and Dolls, Hairspray, Into the Woods, Jersey Boys, Kiss Me, Kate, Les Misérables, My Fair Lady, Nine, Oklahoma, Phantom of the Opera, Rent, Sound of Music, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Victor/Victoria and West Side Story. And then she had to stop because she couldn't think of any Broadway musicals beginning with X, Y or Z (or Q or U for that matter). It was highly frustrating to be so close to completing her list and she determined to look up an A-Z of musicals on the internet the next day.
Next, she worked on the template for her acceptance speech. It was formatted so that it could be used in any winning situation. She would start by thanking her parents for their love and support, then she would thank the academy or organisation that had given her the award, next it was her friends and fans. It would normally be rounded off with a thank you to her boyfriend/husband/life partner depending on the time in her life. For the last few months she had always imagined that it would be Finn looking at her with pride and adoration but Rachel found that she was over that particular fantasy now. She'd probably have replaced Finn with Josh in her thoughts had the latter not revealed his true colours. Now? That spot was empty, although her mind was trying to thrust a new person there instead so she decided to try something else to make herself fall asleep.
She switched her bedside lamp on and opted to do a spot of reading. She recalled that the old-fashioned language in Shakespeare's plays always made her head feel slightly lethargic so she climbed out of her nice warm bed and headed over to her bookcase. She shivered as the cold seeped into her body and grabbed something to put over her nightdress. It was only as the hem of the sweatshirt fell to far beyond her waist that she realised that this was the one that she had borrowed from Noah. She would take it off but it was far too cold in her room to consider. She located 'The Complete Works of William Shakespeare' among her books and took the large tome down before scurrying back to her bed to get her toes warm again.
She scanned the contents, wondering which one to pick. She supposed she should read one of his histories because she didn't find them very interesting and they would most likely send her to sleep the quickest but she couldn't bring herself to read one. Nor was she particularly in the mood for a tragedy so she turned towards the comedy section and after a brief consideration decided upon 'Much Ado About Nothing'. It was one of her favourites and she knew she was probably making a mistake in choosing it because she'd want to keep reading but she had made up her mind already and she was too anxious to read the banter between Beatrice and Benedick.
Beatrice was one of her favourite literary characters; she was passionate, intelligent, witty and loving. She was also rather disdainful towards men (at least at first) and Rachel wished that she could be this way too. It would make her life a lot easier if she did not fall for people so quickly. However that was a subject that she didn't want to dwell on so she pressed on and started reading the play.
The minutes ticked by and Rachel discovered that reading 'Much Ado About Nothing' wasn't making her sleepy. In fact, she realised with horror that she had been imagining people from school in the place of the characters (Mr Schue as Leonato, Quinn as Hero, Finn as Claudio etc.). This in itself wasn't too bad, even if it was slightly strange, but what was was that she had imagined herself as Beatrice and her Benedick? Noah Puckerman. It was a ridiculous comparison, really, because Noah and Benedick weren't particularly similar. Yes, they were both womanisers and Noah had returned some of her banter over the past few weeks but none of it was to the standard of the intelligent wit that Benedick produced. And the fact that Benedick and Beatrice's animosity evolved into love was enough to make Rachel snap her book shut and turn off her lamp. She placed the book carefully on the floor and screwed her eyes up tight.
Her next method to induce sleep was to try and say the thirty-seven times table in her head. She started quite well: 37, 74, 111, 148 and185. Her brain was definitely starting to get tired with the math. But then she got to 296 and her mind automatically reminded her that that was Noah's house number.
She buried her head under her pillow with a groan. There was nothing else for it; she was going to have to think about him.
The reason she'd been so reluctant to think about Noah was that this whole new situation he'd presented to her scared her. Not in the way that she'd been terrified on Friday night, this was a different kind of scared and she didn't like it one bit.
If (as she still hoped) Noah just wanted to sleep with her then she believed that this was less worrying as he would get over his lust soon enough. However, if as he insisted, Noah had genuine feelings for her then she honestly didn't know what to think.
This was Noah Puckerman she was thinking about. Up until a few weeks ago he'd made her life miserable by publicly bullying her. If she'd seen Noah Puckerman in the corridor at the beginning of the year then she would purposefully turn in the other direction to avoid any unpleasantness.
He'd changed though. She knew he'd changed. This wasn't like with Josh where he'd cried 'peer pressure' and told her pretty stories about glee club making a difference. No, she knew that Noah wasn't the bully that he once was; he'd stopped picking on the other students once he'd joined glee and he'd only briefly resumed his ways to compensate for the way the dares had affected his reputation.
It was just strange to try and think of Noah in a romantic fashion. The concept just didn't make sense in her brain. She would've never predicted this in a million years. But there was the possibility that this was true and she should think her feelings through, however weird it felt.
Perhaps it would be best to answer the easiest question first; did she find Noah sexually appealing?
There was no need to really think about it; yes. She'd always thought that he was attractive but his personality had always negated this. She shivered as she remembered the way it had felt to perform with him earlier in the day, the way his touch had made her skin tingle, how it had felt to be wrapped in his arms. She also recalled their first kiss together; she'd tried to hide it at the time (because she'd refused to let him see how he'd affected her) but she had enjoyed that kiss immensely. It was still one of the best she'd ever received. Her ones with Finn felt quite trivial now and every one she'd experienced with Josh appeared tainted after what had happened. So yes, the kiss with Noah was pretty special to her, despite the fact that he'd paid for it. But sexual appeal was not the only factor in deciding whether Noah Puckerman was a suitable romantic interest.
Noah's personality, while majorly improved from a few months ago, still had a lot of room for improvement. He was quite rude and was prone to using foul language and insults. She believed that the best word to describe him was uncouth. But she was able to recall when she'd gone round his house to shave off his ghastly Mohawk. She'd enjoyed being around him and spending time with him. Yes, he was quite rough around the edges but she didn't abhor being near him by any stretch of the imagination.
But then there were Noah's previous romantic experiences to consider; the way that he treated women in the past should give her an idea of what to expect him to be like with her. And unfortunately for Noah, this was not something that made him look good. Rachel knew that he was very experienced with women despite being only in his mid-teens. A vast majority of these 'experiences' seemed to be nothing more than hook-ups and if Noah expected her to follow this pattern then he'd be very disappointed. However she knew that Noah had had one 'proper' relationship and that had been with Santana during summer until the beginning of the school year. Well, she said 'during' but the fact of the matter was that they had broken up at least half a dozen times during that period and shamelessly cheated on each other. It was a horror of a relationship for her to try and gauge Noah's dating potential and he probably couldn't have done a worse job if he'd tried.
It was true what she'd said to him in the girls' bathroom; he could be a complete jerk sometimes and if he was liable to act that way towards her then it was unlikely that anything could grow between them. But if he did completely change who he was then he just wouldn't be Noah Puckerman anymore and she didn't want to be responsible for completely altering someone's personality (even if it would make him a better person and other people would be very grateful) because she'd been trying to be someone that she wasn't and it hadn't been altogether enjoyable.
Her thoughts chased each other around and she eventually fell into an uneasy sleep. Her dreams were plagued by none other than, Noah Puckerman and there were many variations. There were dreams were he was romantic, dreams where they sang together, dreams where he was a jerk to her and even one that, when she recalled it in the morning, made her blush and bury her head under her pillow. Yes, that's correct; she'd had a sex dream about Noah Puckerman. From the little she could remember it hadn't been particularly graphic and she knew that it was natural to have those sorts of dreams at her age but it was still embarrassing. She wasn't sure she'd be able to look at Noah today without blushing.
She bypassed the elliptical that morning and instead sat at the kitchen counter nursing her first ever cup of coffee. It tasted horrible and she could practically feel her teeth rotting due to the amount of sugar she'd stirred into it to improve the taste but she needed something to try and get her through the day. Her fathers chattered around her as they ate breakfast and got ready for work and if they noticed her subdued mood then they didn't mention it. However, each gave her a slightly longer hug than usual when they left and she was silently grateful for it.
Rachel arrived at her locker still quite bleary-eyed and it took her a few seconds to realise that there was something stopping her from opening it. A couple of folded sheets of paper had been taped to the front of the locker. She frowned at the offending article, wondering what it was doing there. Had someone put it there by accident, thinking it was someone else's locker? Somehow she doubted it. With a feeling of foreboding she plucked the paper off her locker and unfolded the paper.
She blinked again, to make sure that her lack of sleep wasn't affecting her eyesight. But, no, it appeared that she was holding Noah's history midterm.
Quite honestly, she was concerned for the boy's sanity.
Why on earth would he have taped one of his midterms to her locker? It made absolutely no sense whatsoever and she was too tired to try and think about what his motives might be for showing her his abysmal effort in history. She sincerely hoped that her spurning of his advances hadn't unhinged him but she couldn't rule the possibility out.
So she kept an eye out for him as she moved between the first couple of lessons. Her concentration in said lessons was well below her average but she couldn't help it. She thought that it might actually make her feel better to see him – to see that he wasn't acting crazy, because she was feeling very jumpy at the prospect.
Her wish was granted in the changeover between third and fourth period because she spotted him further down the corridor. She was only able to catch a glimpse of him though because the area was quite busy with other students. She pushed herself through the throng until she came towards where Noah was. The sight that greeted her was reassuringly familiar (even if it wasn't particularly pleasant).
Noah was firmly holding Jacob Ben Israel against a row of lockers, the latter with a look of terror upon his face.
Perhaps someone else had taped Noah's midterm to her locker then (though goodness knew why) because Noah seemed to be back to his old self.
She was about to leave because she didn't particularly feel like seeing Noah bully Jacob but before she could, Noah seemed to sense her presence and he glanced at her. She wasn't too sure what to read from the expression on his face but he seemed to be pleased that she was there.
And then, before she could even blink, Noah did something that Rachel would have sworn would never happen in a million different universes.
Noah kissed Jacob Ben Israel.
Stunned. She was absolutely stunned, as was everyone else around her. She honestly could not believe what her eyes had just perceived.
So much for Noah going back to acting normally…
It had been a peck, Noah's lips touching Jacob's for the briefest of moments, but a kiss was still a kiss.
If anything, Jacob looked more terrified now than before but Noah let him go as soon as the 'incident' had occurred. Noah stalked away, wiping his mouth distastefully and he seemed to bump into Rachel's shoulder intentionally, making her stagger.
Rachel was at a complete loss as to what to think. None of Noah's behaviour made any sort of sense to her. She honestly couldn't think of why he'd want to kiss Jacob. He'd made so much fuss about having to kiss Finn as part of their kiss dares so why would he voluntarily kiss Jacob? Even she'd had to be dared to kiss him…oh.
It suddenly dawned on her. Her dares! Everything that Noah had been doing in the last twenty four hours had been the same as the dares he'd set her! He'd slushied a jock (Josh), he hadn't spoken to anyone (only sung) and he'd sung an incorrect note. Then this morning he'd stuck that midterm to her locker to show that he'd failed and now he'd just kissed Jacob Ben Israel.
She breathed a slight sigh of relief, glad that she'd found the pattern to Noah's behaviour but the big question was; why was he doing her dares?
Puck was able to get through fourth period without too much hassle but he knew that the rest of the day probably wouldn't be so easy. The gossip would be spread throughout the school during lunch and then the whispers and stares would follow him.
He honestly didn't give a fuck.
The bell rang for the end of the lesson and he grabbed his shit. He wasn't exactly eager to face the shitstorm that was likely to come his way but he wasn't gonna hide from it either.
He shoved his crap in his locker and slammed the door shut.
"I know what you're doing," Berry's voice said from behind him, nearly making him jump. Yeah, he was in major like with the girl but that didn't mean she still didn't scare him on occasion. He turned around to face her, noticing that she looked totally dishevelled which was probably because of his actions.
"Good." He said simply. "I didn't particularly want to have Coach Sylvester rip my fucking balls off if I asked to try out for the Cheerios and I don't think your gold hot pants would fit me, either. I just wish you'd figured it out before that Jewfro thing. Still, we can't all be intellectuals, Berry." She raised her eyebrows and he knew that the intellectual thing was going a bit far – he really wasn't that clever. What he didn't know was why he was giving her shit when he was trying to make a good point.
She cleared her throat and shook her head slightly. "Yes, well, I know that you're carrying out the dares you set for me but I don't really understand why."
He leant back against his locker and crossed his arms over his chest, just looking at her. She blushed under his gaze and a part of him felt very smug about that. "I'll let you in on a little secret, Berry." He beckoned her forward with his hand, "C'mere." She seemed to blush even more and she stared at him with wide eyes as she took a couple of tentative steps forward. "Closer," he said quietly and she moved so that she was standing right in front of him, barely an inch separating their bodies. He could see her chest rising and falling dramatically and he made himself concentrate before his dick overrode his brain. He leant his head down next to hers and brushed a few strands of her silky dark hair away from her ear. He could feel her breath on the side of his neck and he willed himself not to lose focus. "I don't give a fuck about my reputation," he whispered and he felt her shudder next to him.
He pulled back so that he could look at her and was damn fucking glad to see that she was totally hot for him. Her eyes were, like, black and she was breathing all heavy. He wanted to save the image in his memory forever so that if he never actually got things together with Berry then at least he had this proof here that she was attracted to him (It might seem stupid because, like, every girl wanted to fuck him but Berry had given him some major doubt in the past.).
"The fuckers in this school can think whatever the fuck they like about why I did the dares in the first place. I don't need to give them an excuse for my actions 'cause I don't give a shit what they think about me anymore. If I want to sing a song dressed as a chick then that's my fucking business, not theirs. I'm my own fucking person, Berry and I'm not gonna let these fuckers determine my life. So if you're using my 'concern' for my reputation as a reason for us not to be together then, I'm sorry to burst your bubble, but that's now utter bullshit." She opened her mouth to speak but he put his hand over her lips. "No, you need to listen to me now." Her eyes widened in shock and he could detect a little bit of outrage too but he ignored her. "You didn't give me a chance yesterday and that's not fucking fair.
"Look, when I said those things about you yesterday, you know, about how you're a bit crazy and stuff, well I was gonna say that that stuff didn't really bother me and shit. And I know this still isn't like a pansy declaration of love or some crap like that which you'd much prefer but I'm doing this my way. Now, I know you might not remember all that much of Friday night given how fucking wasted you were, but there are things I do like about you too and you're like, special to me and shit. I'm not the guy that's going to write poetry for you and I'm not gonna give you a fluffy teddy bear with my name on it – we both know that's not me. But I'd treat you proper," he winced, that didn't sound impressive. This shit was seriously hard, especially seeing as he'd never done it before. Her lips were hot against the palm of his hand and he was itching to replace it with his own lips but he was determined not to let her speak until he'd said all that he wanted to say. "I'm a bit of an asshole and my record with chicks probably looks like complete shit to you but you've gotta believe me when I say I'd never act that way with you. You matter to me. A lot. A helluva lot, and I don't ever want to be an asshole to you again."
His hand covered her lower face so he didn't exactly how she was reacting to his little speech. All he could see was that she was staring back at him with wide eyes and that didn't exactly tell him a lot. Maybe a change of strategy was in order – the last couple of minutes had been rather fucking girly so he needed to man up a little bit and tell Berry what the world could be like for them.
"We'd be fucking awesome together, babe and you know it. Whether you want to admit it or not, you're a total badass when you want to be and if we got together then us badassess could fucking rule this school. Forgot Finn and Quinn, we'd have the rest of the school eating out of the palm of our hands, you know, if we wanted them to or we can make our own popularity and screw all the rest of them. D'you really think that anyone's gonna mess with you when you've got this stud on your arm?" He asked, motioning to himself. He could see a spark of amusement in her eyes and it made him feel a little bit more optimistic. "I guess I've kinda said all that I wanted to," he mumbled and took his hand off of her mouth. His heart started beating even more furiously than it already had been. He wasn't really sure if he wanted to hear what she had to say – he'd never exactly put himself out there to get hurt this way before.
"Um, I don't really know what to say," Berry murmured.
"That's a first," he joked, weakly, already feeling like there were a dozen stones in his stomach.
She indulged him with a small smile. "Noah, I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel anything for you." That was a good start and yet he couldn't help feel that there was going to be a 'but' coming soon. "And you've become a quite important person in my life but," he winced, "this isn't something that I can instantaneously answer. Our history, particularly recently, is quite muddled and I'd be doing you a disservice if I rushed into an answer. Things have only just ended with Josh, after all."
Puck nodded, his throat feeling constricted. "Course, I don't want you to do anything you're not ready for." He rubbed the back of his neck nervously. "But, you know, if you could give me some sort of sign of what you're feeling soon. I'm not exactly a patience sorta guy."
She nodded. "Yes of course, Noah, I'll do my best." The silence that followed was kinda awkward and Puck figured that he needed to go do something manly to make up for this whole conversation (and, you know, 'cause people were gonna think he was gay after the Jacob kiss).
"Later, Berry," he muttered as he walked off down the corridor.
"Goodbye, Noah," he heard her whisper softly and he tried to tell himself that not getting an answer didn't mean that she was going to say no.
Rachel rang the doorbell with a feeling of dread. This was one of the last places she wanted to be right now. There was the sound of approaching footsteps and then the door was opened to reveal a rather dishevelled looking Hannah Puckerman.
"Oh, Rachel, thank goodness, come on in." Noah's mother said as she ushered Rachel inside the house. "Sorry again about having to ask you to babysit – I wouldn't have done it if there was another alternative. Noah probably would've agreed to skip practice but it's important for him to keep his attendance up if he doesn't want to get kicked off the team. He should be back in a couple of hours so feel free to leave once he arrives. It's only a short shift so I won't be away for too long." This was all said very quickly and Hannah Puckerman was soon stepping out of the door, car keys in hand. "I'll talk to you soon, Rachel love." She promised, giving her a kiss on the cheek before calling, "Bye Sarah!" and closing the front door.
Rachel sighed and hung up her coat. Part of her wished that she was able to turn people down when they asked favours of her but really, it wasn't going to hurt her to watch over Sarah for a couple of hours. It would be awkward when Noah got home though, seeing as she hadn't given him an answer to his unasked question from yesterday.
She'd been avoiding him ever since that conversation because she didn't know what to say to him. She was still undecided.
"Hey Rachel!" Sarah cried, running forwards to wrap her arms around Rachel's waist.
"Hello, Sarah," she replied fondly, giving the girl a gentle squeeze back. Sarah peered around her.
"Is your boyfriend coming today?" she asked and Rachel felt the familiar chill run through her that she experienced whenever Josh was mentioned.
"No, he's not my boyfriend anymore," she told Sarah and the little girl grinned.
"Oh, good. I didn't really like him." Sarah informed her as she walked back through the house to where the television was.
"Well, anyway," Rachel said, changing the topic, "what did you want to do until Noah gets home?"
"Can we watch Beauty and the Beast?" Sarah asked. "I wanted to watch it with Noah the other day but he wouldn't let me."
Rachel smiled. "Yes, I don't think it's exactly Noah's cup of tea. Of course we can watch it."
Sarah brought out the DVD along with a manicure set and Rachel dutifully treated Sarah's nails as the film got underway.
"Do you hate, Noah?" Sarah bluntly asked her about twenty minutes into the film and Rachel nearly dropped the bottle of nail polish in shock.
"What? No, of course I don't hate, Noah. What on earth made you think that?" Rachel asked.
"Noah said he thinks you hate him." Sarah shrugged.
"Oh," Rachel frowned as something twisted her stomach. "When did he say that?"
"Last week after you babysat me with your boyfriend." Sarah explained. "Why did he think you hated him?"
"Um, well, Noah and I had had a disagreement." Rachel explained and she internally cringed as she remembered telling Noah that she hated him. Why did she have to be so dramatic all the time? And to think that Noah'd had feelings for her at that time – it just made her feel even worse. "It was just a silly argument."
Sarah nodded, "Yeah, he's a bit of a jerkface sometimes but he's not that bad all the time."
Rachel smiled. "I know."
They watched the film in comfortable silence again until the part where Belle and the Beast start to fall in love.
"You and Noah are like Beauty and the Beast," Sarah said and Rachel laughed.
"While I'm glad you think I'm like Belle, I don't think Noah would appreciate you calling him a Beast!"
Sarah giggled. "No, I mean you're a bit like the characters. You're pretty and nice and you've got brown hair and you can sing really good. But Noah's all grumpy and can be mean." The little girl frowned. "Or maybe he's more like Gaston because his character's mean too and he thinks all the girls love him." Sarah sighed. "I suppose it doesn't really make much difference because both of them love Belle."
Rachel froze, her heart beating strongly in her chest. She stared at Sarah. "What do you mean?"
Sarah had that look on her face like she knew she shouldn't really be talking about this but she said, "I think Noah loves you."
Rachel knew she shouldn't get carried away with the words of an eight year old – she was pretty sure that Noah would never admit his feelings to his kid sister so it was most probably not true.
"He's been having dreams about you," Sarah continued. "I think they were nightmares because I heard him kicking around in his sheets when I went to the bathroom and I heard him say your name and he sounded really upset. And on Saturday we drove round all morning looking for you but I don't really know why."
Rachel opened her mouth to make some sort of response and then closed it again because she didn't know what to say. A part of her was horrified that she was discussing her love life with Noah Puckerman's eight year old sister but another part was almost pleased that she had some proof of Noah's feelings from another person. The slight part of her that had been suspicious that he'd been sweet talking her to purely make her want to sleep with him all but died. She felt slightly bad for thinking that way in the first place but Noah's previous attitude to women was enough for her to question his sincerity.
"Do you love him?" Sarah asked and Rachel sighed.
"Let's not talk about Noah, sweetie. Look, they're about to dance together."
Sarah reluctantly turned back to the film and Rachel was left alone with her thoughts. These thoughts had been chasing each other around for the last couple of days and it seemed they weren't going to be stopping soon.
She tried to focus purely on the film because she was sick of thinking things through. Beauty and the Beast was one of her favourite Disney films so she should be able to enjoy it. But as things came to a climax she couldn't help but compare the characters of Gaston and the Beast because, as Sarah had said, Noah had similar traits to both of them. The worst of Noah was most definitely more like Gaston – the cruel man who liked to bully those he considered weaker than himself and the womaniser who had a string of female conquests (and was quite full of himself). But the best of Noah was more like the Beast – the way he'd come to her rescue to fend off Josh, how he'd tried to protect her from Josh by attempting to dare her to keep away from him and how he'd sacrificed his reputation to show that he wanted to be with her no matter what other people might think.
"He's the beast," she whispered quietly but Sarah must have heard her because she grinned at Rachel and cuddled up next to her.
The front door was opened and then slammed shut and Rachel tensed. "I won't tell Noah what we talked about if you don't," she whispered to Sarah and the other girl nodded quickly, obviously fearing Noah's wrath if he found out that she'd been talking about him to Rachel.
"Mom?" Noah called before walking into their vicinity and then he stopped abruptly.
"Your mother had to go into work, Noah and she asked me to watch over Sarah so that you wouldn't have to miss football." Rachel explained. Seeing him again after steadfastly avoiding him reminded her of the way he had whispered into her ear during their last conversation and she could feel herself blushing already.
"Oh, right." He replied and Rachel hated the awkwardness that there was between them.
"The film will be over in a few minutes and then I'll go," she said.
"Um, okay. I'll just be up in my room," he muttered and left.
Rachel leant her head back against the couch and closed her eyes. She needed to hurry up and make up her mind. It really wasn't fair to keep Noah waiting like this.
She wished there was a way that they could just be friends for a while because everything felt like it was moving so fast. But she knew that was unlikely to happen; Noah didn't really 'do' being friends with girls.
She sighed. She was just so unsure of everything. Thanks to Josh she would probably never go into a relationship feeling completely sure about someone. But, maybe that was a good thing? Flinging yourself completely into a relationship without any caution only invited disaster and heartbreak.
Rachel could hear the floorboards creaking above her head as Noah moved around. She felt like she knew Noah Puckerman quite well – he was who he was and as he'd proven to her on numerous occasions he wasn't afraid to live life how he wanted to. She thought back on what had stopped her from considering Noah as a viable romantic partner. Firstly there was the personality. Yes, he wasn't perfect, but after the disasters of her infatuations with Finn and Josh, she realised that there wasn't such a thing as perfect. Her relationship with Josh had been built on a complete lie and Finn's unwillingness to leave Quinn for her meant that he wasn't good enough. So maybe a change of scene was needed. Noah was Noah and she knew who she was. She didn't have an overly pleasing personality either and if Noah could get past hers than Rachel could get past his. Someone was offering her the opportunity to be loved and how often was that likely to happen to her?
The film ended and Sarah sat up to stretch her arms. "So, I guess you're going now, huh?"
"Yes, I suppose so." Rachel rose to her feet. "Do you want me to put another film on for you?"
Following Sarah's request, Rachel popped Lady and the Tramp into the DVD player.
"You're a bit like Lady and Noah's like the Tramp," Sarah told her and Rachel laughed. While she was more than happy to be called 'Beauty' and 'Lady' she highly doubted that Noah would like being compared to a 'Beast' and now a 'Tramp'.
Rachel was about to think through the compatibility between herself and Noah and that of Lady and the Tramp before she realised that she was being utterly ridiculous. First it had been Beatrice and Benedick, then Belle and the Beast and now Lady and the Tramp. She shouldn't make comparisons between herself and fictional characters. Their love stories were works of fiction and shouldn't been compared to real life. She and Noah were completely different people – their lives wouldn't follow some fairy tale, even if Noah had been her knight in shining armour.
"I'm just going to pop to the bathroom, okay?" Rachel said but Sarah was already engrossed in the movie and paid her no attention.
Rachel climbed the stairs as quietly as possible so that Noah wouldn't know she was there. She knew she was a coward for leaving without saying anything to him but she didn't feel ready to give him an answer yet.
She was about to descend the stairs again, having completed her visit to the bathroom when the sound of music came from Noah's door. It sounded like a guitar and, her curiosity piqued, she tiptoed over to his door to see what he was doing. His door was slightly ajar and she pushed it gently to give her a clearer view.
He was sitting on his bed with his back to her, strumming on a guitar. She didn't know that Noah could play the guitar and she watched silently as his hand expertly moved up and down the neck to create the different chords. She was transfixed already and then he started to sing.
I'm not a perfect person
There's many things I wish I didn't do
But I continue learning
I never meant to do those things to you
And so I have to say before I go
That I just want you to knowI've found a reason for me
To change who I used to be
A reason to start over new
and the reason is youRachel's heart was beating so hard and fast that she thought that it was going to break right through her chest. She had never heard Noah sing so beautifully before and the anguish in his voice was making her stomach turn over. She took a breath and stepped into the room.
I'm sorry that I hurt you
It's something I must live with everyday
And all the pain I put you through
I wish that I could take it all away
And be the one who catches all your tears
Thats why i need you to hearPuck heard the footsteps before he saw her but he carried on playing, not at all embarrassed that she had caught him singing. Singing about her. He didn't know what to make of the expression on her face – she was staring at him with wide eyes again so he just continued.
I've found a reason for me
To change who I used to be
A reason to start over new
and the reason is youHer eyes held him captive as she came to a stop in front of him; he couldn't blink or look away. He could only stare and sing.
And the reason is you.
The note eventually faded from his throat but neither of them moved for a few seconds. Puck didn't know what was going on but he had a feeling that it was important. Berry took a couple of steps forward and he put his guitar against his bed, all without breaking eye contact. She was looking into his eyes as though she was searching for something and he didn't want to be found wanting.
Berry moved forward a bit more and she was practically standing between his legs. He wanted her to say or do something because a silent Rachel Berry was just unnatural but another part of him didn't want this moment to end. It was super intense and unlike anything he'd ever felt with anyone else.
Berry placed her left hand on his shoulder and ran her other hand over the left side of his head, leaving a trail of goosebumps. And then she leant forwards and kissed him.
It was like her lips had flicked an internal switch within him because one minute he was pretty cold and now it was like he was on fire. He tried not to get his hopes up though – this didn't necessarily mean anything. Sometimes a kiss was just a kiss. But if this was a pity kiss then he was going to make the most of it. He placed one of his hands at the small of her back and pushed her gently and she complied so that they could like back on the bed. Her hair tickled against his face and he used his other hand to brush some of the silky strands away. She tasted just as good as the first time they had kissed and he hoped that he would never forget this moment.
After a few more heavenly seconds Berry pulled her mouth away but still lay over him, her weight supported by her hands either side of his head. Puck's stomach filled with nerves at the anticipation of what was to happen next. This was it.
"I thought I said that I didn't want you to change," Berry said softly, her eyes searching his face again.
"I'm not gonna change much, Berry, but I thought you'd rather I stopped acting like a dick to women, if that's okay with you." She kissed him chastely in response and he was trying so fucking hard not to think about how positive things were looking. Life could still kick him in the nads if it wanted to.
Despite his fears he asked her, "So, um, Berry, what does this mean?"
She smiled at him and kissed along his jaw towards his ear. "What do you think it means?" she whispered and he full on shivered liking a fucking virgin before she kissed him full on. With tongue. Hells, yeah.
"You're sure?" he panted when they came apart for some air, as he casually stroked her lower back.
"No," she replied, brutally honest as always, but she smiled and shrugged. "But that's okay."
And that was good enough for him.
They carried on making out for a while until they heard a car door slam shut.
"Shit, I think that's my mom," Puck said, groaning as Rachel clambered off of him. He was fucking glad that he had stamina and a lot of self-control because that session with Rachel had been one of the hottest of his life.
"Oh, goodness, I told Sarah I was going to leave forty-five minutes ago!" Rachel cried, running her fingers through her hair to detangle any knots his fingers may have created. "What on earth is she going to think when she sees me?"
"Hey, that little squirt's nothing compared to what Mom'll say if she sees us coming down the stairs together." Puck said as he stood behind her and bent down to kiss her cheek. "She'll totally get overexcited."
Rachel laughed and turned her head to kiss him. "I dare you to tell her that we're engaged."
Puck pulled back from her. "Rach, as happy as I am that that game has brought us together, I'd prefer it if I never heard those three words ever again."
She grinned. "Deal."
And then he kissed her some more.
A/N So that's that! Many thanks for your support throughout this fic. Your suggestions really did shape this story for me and it wouldn't have been the same without you.
The song that Puck sings is 'The Reason' by Hoobastank. I think that the lyrics sum up their history ridiculously well.
Although this is the end of this story, I do have other ones on the go which will be getting updated now that 'I Dare You' is finished so I encourage you to check them out.
Thanks for reading!
Lots of love,
Lil Drop of Magic