A/N: Here is the last chapter. Thank you all so much for reading and giving feedback! I've got more PR stories coming...
It's selfish and horrible and totally, completely wrong to think it, but when Quinn calls him and tells him she's in labour and on her way to the hospital, he thinks she's set out to ruin his life.
It's a slight overreaction, because he's currently laying atop a half-naked Rachel, and she's just told him that she's ready.
Like, ready, ready.
And his phone rings, and it's the ringtone he has for Quinn, which Rachel insisted he make different from the rest (her own is Cinnamon Girl, which he set himself) so that if Quinn called and needed him, he'd know and not just ignore his phone.
He knows he has to take it, they both know that. It's just that it's March break, and Rachel's dads are away and the room is glowing with candles, and it's so, so perfect. He's been waiting for this for what feels like forever.
So of course, something is going to interrupt. Something huge that he really can't really complain about. Rachel overhears the whole conversation, complete with Quinn's cry of pain, and she has to push Noah off her, because he's frozen in place. (Talk about effective birth control.)
She starts putting clothes on, and he's just sitting there at the edge of her bed until she throws his shirt at him and shouts his name.
"Noah! Quinn is having the baby!" she says needlessly. He pulls his shirt over his head and stands up as she blows out candles and turns off her music. "Come on."
"Rachel, can you..." He sighs and reaches for her arm to stop her from rushing out of the room. He hasn't planned for this precise moment. He never thought he'd be with Rachel when he got this call. (Which might be stupid, now that he thinks about it, because they're together most of the time.) "I don't want you to come."
She can feel her throat tightening, and she hopes she can keep the tears out of her eyes. She knows this isn't about her. She just wishes that he wouldn't push her away any time he comes up against something that forces his emotions. He doesn't understand that having a girlfriend means that he doesn't have to go through everything alone.
"Rach, I just can't...I can't deal with you, and her, and...fuck. I don't know what the fuck I'm doing, and I'm freaking out here," he says honestly. "I can't handle you looking at me the way you're looking at me right now."
She takes a breath and straightens her posture. As much as it kills her, she'll give him what he needs. "Go, then."
"Go, Noah," she insists. "Drive safely. Please. And call me when you have news."
He smiles, and she thinks she might see something shimmering in his eyes just before he kisses her. God, she's just the most amazing girl in the world, even when he's a total fuck up with no clue what to do. Knowing she's there when he needs her is comforting. It makes him wonder why he never did this relationship thing before, but he knows that no other girl would be as good at it as she is. They're both smiling a little bit when they part, and he squeezes her hand before letting it go.
"I love you," he says quickly, right before he jogs out of her room.
It takes her a second to register the words (they've never said them before) and she doesn't get a chance to say them back.
He's in his truck before he realizes what he just told her, and he is just such a fuck up! It's not like he doesn't mean it. Of course he does. He's been in love with her since before they even started dating (pathetic as that is). And it's not even that he didn't plan on saying it tonight. What better night to tell your girl you love her than after you make love to her for the first time? (Not before, so she wouldn't think he didn't mean it.)
But telling her he can't deal with her (also the truth, right this second) and then blurting it out in passing was definitely not the way he saw it going. It's a big, huge deal, and he's got even bigger things to think about.
He sits in his truck for a few minutes before he gets out, because he just needs a second alone to think. He has no idea what to expect from all this, how Quinn's going to act around him and how long he's going to get with his daughter before her real parents come take her away.
When he gets to the maternity ward, he's more than a little surprised to see Finn sitting anxiously in the waiting room. Terri Schuester is there, sitting by the window and biting her thumbnail anxiously, but Puck doesn't really give a shit about her, because she's all kinds of crazy.
"Hey, man," Finn says when he sees Puck. "I just got here. She called me and I figured, you know, crazy, crying pregnant girl on the phone, I should probably do what she tells me."
As thick as Finn can be sometimes, Puck thinks that's probably the smartest thing the guy has ever said. And fuck it. He reaches out and they hug quickly, because if there's ever a day to hug your best friend, it's probably this one.
He takes a deep breath, and Finn smiles and pats Puck's shoulder as he heads in the direction of Quinn's room.
Somewhere between hours one and four, he calls Rachel and tells her he needs her.
And he does. He was a moron for thinking otherwise.
Quinn's a mess, and he can't blame her. She switches between crying and bitching and being eerily quiet. He doesn't know what to do, so after a while, he tells her, very bluntly, that if she wants anything, she's just going to have to tell him flat out, because he's not a fucking mind reader, and he's never done this before. She actually laughs, and he thinks that maybe the two of them can get through this.
And then the doctor tells them they have about 10 hours to go, and he thinks that he'll kill her if she bitches at him about 'doing this' to her one more time. (Seriously? All this isn't solely his fault, but, you know, he values his life and his balls, so he keeps his mouth shut and doesn't mention that fact.) He slips out of the room and Finn stands, and Puck tells him to head in and keep the crazy bitch company for a minute. He doesn't mean it, and they both know it, and before the door is even closed, he's got Rachel's number dialed.
It's two in the morning, and she tells him she'll be over as soon as possible, and is there anything she can bring him? God, he loves this girl. He mentions that he's a little hungry, and that Finn's also there, and she says that she'll take care of it.
He feels better already.
It's not like she hasn't spent the last four hours thinking about him, smiling like an idiot and replaying that little kiss and those three words over and over and over again. Their night definitely hasn't gone as planned, to say the least, but she doesn't think there's any better feeling than the feeling she had just after he said those words.
Honestly, she never, ever, in a million years, expected that he'd be the first one to say them. He's the one who still makes lewd comments when she even starts a sentence with 'I feel'. And even if it was just that his emotions were running high and he didn't necessarily mean to tell her, she reasons that doesn't exactly mean that he doesn't feel that way.
He loves her. She loves him.
And she's so thrilled that he's called her so quickly and admitted that he wants her around him right now.
She walks into the maternity ward waiting room, and he and Finn are both sitting there with their heads in their hands. Mrs. Schuester (or whatever she's going by right now) is asleep in a chair near the window. Rachel walks over and sets the bag of food, drinks and snacks onto the chair next to Finn before taking Noah's face in her hands and kissing his forehead.
"Thanks for coming, baby," he says quietly, not even caring that Finn is sitting right there.
"Is everything okay? What's going on?" she asks, kneeling in front of him. He notices she's wearing a pair of those yoga pants that make him crazy, and a hoodie over a black tank top. Her hair is in a loose ponytail. She looks beautiful, and he doesn't care if it's a weird moment to recognize it.
"This is like, the slowest fucking labour ever," Noah grumbles. He glares when she laughs.
"My birth mother was 36 hours with me," Rachel says. Finn chokes on the sandwich he's eating, and Noah looks at her blankly. "Quinn is young and fit and ready for this. It shouldn't take that long."
"They're checking on her right now," Finn explains. "Thanks for the food."
"You're welcome," she says, smiling at him. She stands up and glances down at Noah, who's now got his head tipped back as he looks at the ceiling. "Do you mind if I go see her?"
"Go for it. She's being a bitch," Noah says. She gasps and drops his hand. "What?! She is!"
"She's having a child, Noah. You don't know what that's like. Neither do I. Cut her some slack. She deserves just a little patience right now," Rachel says sternly. He rolls his eyes, but she notices he's smiling.
"Go ahead," Noah says. "I need a break, and Finn's...devouring a sandwich."
"Really good," Finn says appreciatively, his mouth full.
Rachel laughs, then kisses Noah quickly before heading down the hall. He watches her go, and for what feels like the millionth time, he wonders what the hell he's done in his life to deserve her. He asked her out loud once. The look she gave him was terrifying.
That's the thing, though, isn't it? She honestly thinks he's the sweetest, best boyfriend in the world. It's fucked. He tries not to question it too much.
"Dude, this's messed up," Finn says after swallowing another bite. Puck narrows his eyes questioningly. "You and Rach. Me and Quinn, sorta, whatever. Me and you. Quinn and Rach, you and Quinn, me and..."
"I get it, dude," Puck says, rubbing his temples.
He gets it. It's fucked. And most of it is his fault. But none of them are holding it against him. Well, maybe Quinn is this very second, and he can't really fucking blame her for that. (He's seen the birthing videos. It's almost enough to turn a guy off that whole area forever. Almost...)
Finn hands him a sandwich, and they sip Gatorade. (Rachel's always talking about the importance of electrolytes and stuff, as if he hasn't been playing sports his whole life. He lets her talk because he thinks it's cute now, the way she goes on and on.) There's a little package of Oreos (Finn's favourite) and a package of Twinkies (Puck's favourite). Most thoughtful girl ever.
Puck reluctantly stands after he's done eating, because he figures he should go save Rachel before Quinn like, scares her half to death or scratches out her eyes.
He's surprised as hell when he walks into the room and the girls are laughing. Laughing! Rachel is french braiding Quinn's hair into two neat pigtails (seriously, braiding her hair) and Quinn looks comfortable for the first time since Puck got to the hospital.
He never should have doubted it, but Rachel Berry? She's a fucking champ in a crisis.
"How's it going?" he asks warily, because he's afraid that any minute, one or both of these girls is going to snap at him and remind him that he's the one who's brought them all here in the first place. "You okay?"
"I am," Quinn says, smiling at him. "Rachel is amazing, you know?"
He laughs and smiles at Rachel, who's blushing as she slips an elastic off her wrist to hold Quinn's braid in place. "I know," he says quietly.
"I was thinking..." Quinn stops talking and winces, hand coming to rest on her stomach. "Oh. Oh, ow!"
Rachel takes the blonde's hand and demonstrates the breathing Quinn should be doing, and Puck stands there, watching as Rachel takes more control of the situation than he's had all night. He's not surprised, really. If he didn't know that her middle name is Sophia, he'd think it was Control.
After a while, another nurse comes in to check on Quinn, and Rachel asks if it would be alright if Finn joined them. The nurse, a sweet woman of about 35 with little ABCs on her scrubs, smiles and says that would be just fine, so long as Quinn stays as calm as possible.
Finn walks into the room, and Rachel actually laughs when the blonde's blood pressure decreases just a little bit. Staying calm won't be a problem.
They sit, the four of them, in that room for a long time. They take turns holding Quinn's hand (except for Finn, who sits on her left side and holds her hand the entire time) through each contraction. Puck and Rachel are on one side of the bed, and she rubs his arm soothingly when she can see that he's feeling uneasy.
Sometime around 9:00 am, Quinn is sweating and exhausted, and her OB-GYN comes in and announces that it's time, that her contractions are close together and she's dilated (Puck thinks that's a really gross word, actually) and it's time to start pushing.
Quinn starts crying when the doctor asks everyone but the father to leave the room. Rachel tries to sooth her, saying she and Finn will be right outside, but Quinn's having none of it.
"Listen!" Quinn shouts, locking eyes with her doctor. "I am seventeen, and I have no family. These people are what I have. They are staying, or so help me God, I will make this whole experience more painful for you than it's going to be for me!"
Puck has never seen an adult look quite so terrified.
So Rachel and Finn stay.
It doesn't take long after that. An hour and a half, and then there's a baby girl crying in the room and Quinn's laying back against the pillows. Rachel's tearing up, and Finn is holding her hand from where they're standing, out of the way of the doctor and nurses. Puck is sitting there, looking between Quinn and his baby, and he doesn't give a fuck if he's got tears in his eyes, because this is crazy.
They place the baby, wrapped up in a flannel blanket, in Quinn's arms, and Puck watches as she talks to the little girl as though the baby will understand. She's crying, and the baby is calm and cooing, blinking lazily like babies do. Quinn's eyes lock with Puck's, and she actually smiles at him, then pushes the baby towards him. He knows how to hold a baby, since he's got a little sister and cousins and stuff, but this is way different.
This baby is his, and she's only a couple minutes old. She's red and splotchy and her fine hair is matted to her head.
He feels a hand on his back, and when he turns, he's looking straight into Rachel's eyes. She's crying, too, and he loves her for that.
They take turns holding the little girl, then her adoptive parents come into the room, and everyone's crying, and Quinn hands her baby to her new parents. Puck watches as the guy who's just barely 10 years older than him holds this little girl, his (their?) little girl, and he can't just stand here and watch this.
He really, really wants to be alone, to get pissed and hit something and probably cry some more and act like...not this, not calm. But Rachel's hand is in his, her thumb stroking his intermittently, and so when he walks from the room, he pulls her along with him.
They find a quiet hallway, and the first thing she does is wrap her arms around his waist and rest her head against his chest, and he folds her into this big hug, because he needs her, and he has her, and she's there for him without him even having to ask. He doesn't know how to thank her for any of that, so he doesn't try.
"Tell me I'm doing the right thing," he says quietly. He hears her sniffle a little bit, then pull away, and he knows she notices the tears in his eyes, but she doesn't say anything. "Just...tell me she'll be better off with them."
"Noah," Rachel says, her voice hoarse, "you're giving her a chance at a life that you can't provide her. This is the best thing for her."
His throat gets tight and he looks down, only to see her hands clutching the front of his shirt at his stomach. "I love her," he admits. "And...dammit, I want to be a dad."
"You will be," Rachel insists. "When the time is right, you will be. And you'll be amazing."
He shakes his head, not because he doesn't believe her, but because she believes herself. She says the words with such confidence, like it's all just fact. "Thank you," he mumbles into her hair as he hugs her again.
She pulls away again, leans up to kiss him quickly, and he wipes the tears from her cheeks. "I love you, too," she says, smiling at him. It makes him laugh a little bit and rest his forehead against hers.
He doesn't say anything, because she knows how he feels. He loves that she's not questioning it, asking him if he meant it.
They stay at the hospital for the rest of the day, the six of them (Puck, Rachel, Quinn, Finn and the baby - Eva's - adoptive parents) in Quinn's room, fawning over the baby. Puck watches as Rachel holds his little girl.
And all he can think is that she looks really good with a baby in her arms.
When it finally happens, when they finally sleep together, it's not planned. There are no candles, or flowers, or perfect playlist. She's not wearing matching underthings, and her hair is a mess from the hat she's been wearing. The bottoms of her pants are wet, and her cheeks are red from the cold.
It's a snow day, a freak April storm blew through their town the night before and covered everything in white. She tells him to come over and waits for him on the front step. When he gets out of his truck, he's wearing a scarf (he's never worn one before, and she thinks he looks cute) and has his hands stuck in his pockets.
His jaw drops when she throws a snowball that hits him in the shoulder, and when he shakes his head and scowls, she squeals and stands up. He runs towards her and catches her around the waist and spins her around, and he thinks she looks really, really adorable with snowflakes sticking to the ends of her hair and laughter in her throat.
They mess around outside for a while, until he tells her, ever so eloquently, that he's freezing his nuts off and needs to get inside.
She's making them hot cocoa, standing there in her jeans and one of his sweatshirts. She looks so sexy that he can't help himself, and he walks up behind her and wraps his arms around her, telling her so.
She turns in his arms, and drapes her arms over his shoulders, pulling him into a kiss.
They're alone, and she's got this look in her eyes that's making him feel...a lot. He reaches over and shuts off the stove, never breaking eye contact, and then kisses her again and starts walking them towards the stairs.
She doesn't get nervous, not even when he lays her down on her bed and pulls the sweatshirt from her body. There's no uncertainty in her eyes when he runs his hands over her bare skin, and she almost begs him when he asks her if she's sure. All he can do is smile in response. This has never felt like this for him before.
It surprises her that she's not scared. He's always been delicate with her, sweet and understanding, but this is different. She grows impatient with him, this time, and it makes him smile at her.
She learns very quickly why people call it making love. She's never felt anything more amazing.
And she tells him after that she now understands why he loves sex so much.
(Try to tell him he doesn't have the best girlfriend ever. Just try.)
They break up.
For exactly 6 hours and 22 minutes, and it fucking sucks.
It's totally not his fault, and it's not really Rachel's fault, either, which makes the whole situation even worse, because the only person he can blame is a fucking stupid bitch whose name he doesn't even know.
And okay, he can understand why Rachel's pissed. She thinks she saw something that she didn't see. But you know what? She talks and talks and talks, and he doesn't get a word in, and when he tries to explain, she doesn't fucking listen, which, frankly, pisses him off.
He's sitting in his truck, driving around and going absolutely nowhere, because the only place he wants to go (her house) is off limits. Or so he assumes, judging by the way she she shouted at him, 'don't even think of coming to my house!' She's talked a lot of shit in the last couple hours, but he's pretty sure that's one thing she actually meant.
He didn't even want to go to the party. Why the hell would he want to go to a lame house party in a shady neighbourhood and hang out with stupid kids who can't hold their alcohol? Why would he want to do that when he could just hang out with his girl? (Yeah, he's the kind of guy who'd rather sit on the couch at her place while her dads talk in the next room, rather than go to a stupid party. Whatever.)
But Rachel thought it was rude if they didn't go, since it was one of his teammates who was throwing the party, and Puck didn't go to the last two parties thrown by his friends. Honestly? He doesn't care. What's another party? The same shit always happens.
He and Rachel have been together for months. School's out now, and he's cleaning pools and playing baseball, and Rachel's babysitting and doing all sorts of crazy performance stuff, like dance and voice lessons. She goes to all his games wearing a baseball jersey with his name and number on the back, and he goes to her recitals and gives her flowers when they're alone after.
It's never been a secret that they're together. They're together all the time. Everyone knows.
So why that girl came up to him at the party and started talking like she was trying to seduce him, he honestly has no fucking clue. He was clearly not interested, reminding her that he has a girlfriend, but she just wouldn't fuck off. He tried to push her away (literally), his hand on her shoulder, but she leaned forward and kissed him.
And of course, that was the exact moment Rachel walked into the room. To her, it just looked like her boyfriend had his hand on another girl and was kissing said girl. Apparently, she didn't notice that his eyes were open in shock (and anger) and he pushed the chick away immediately.
The real reason he's pissed? When he tried to explain to Rachel, she implied that the only reason he stopped the kiss was because Rachel walked into the room. Which is a pretty shitty thing to say, if you ask him.
Well, that was 11:00, and now it's 2:30, and he doesn't know what the fuck to do, because the last thing she said to him was "We're through," and if this is what heartbreak feels like, it's the worst thing in the world. He knows he needs to get her back. He doesn't know how.
Rachel's laying on her side on her bed, curled up into a ball with tears on her cheeks. Why does her life have to be so difficult? Why can't things just continue going well? She's been having the best summer with Noah. They've gotten to an amazing place in their relationship, where he doesn't hide his emotions and she feels calm around him, changing for the better and thinking more about other people where she used to just think about herself.
They have the kind of relationship where she doesn't get offended if he points out that a stranger is attractive. It doesn't bother her, because at the end of the day, he'll tell her he loves her and that he thinks she's the sexiest girl he knows. (He's slightly less understanding when she points out an attractive guy. His response is usually a scoff, and a "Please. Have you fucking seen me?" and she'll just laugh and kiss his cheek, because, okay, he has a point.)
Seeing him with that other girl just made all her old insecurities return. She knows she's an attractive girl. That's not her being conceited, it's just a fact. (And she's had someone telling her almost every day for the last five months.) But that girl was everything Rachel isn't. Tall and blonde, big breasts and low rise jeans with her shirt baring her midriff.
Seeing Noah kissing that girl made her question everything, and his explanation was laden with curses, and he didn't have a very likely story, if you ask her.
The fact that he called her a crazy bitch? That was the last straw. He didn't say it like he usually does. There was no teasing tone, no smile on his face or shake of his head. He said it like he meant it, and it broke her heart.
She hadn't really meant to tell him that they're through, she still doesn't know if she means it, even if it turns out that he did kiss that other girl willingly.
She doesn't know how things went from so amazing to so terrible, all in a matter of minutes.
She's thankful that Tina was able to drive her home, because there was no way she was going anywhere with Noah.
He hasn't tried to call her in an hour. She cries a little harder when she starts thinking that maybe this is the end.
It hurts her heart to think about what he could be doing right now, and with who.
Little does she know that he's just driving around aimlessly, trying to figure out how to get them back on track. This whole night has been such a shitstorm. Honestly, he doesn't know how this even happened. Once in five months, a girl doesn't take no for an answer, and he ends up dumped on the front lawn of a shitty little house at the edge of town. (Okay, he can admit that he should not have called her a crazy bitch. He definitely crossed a line with that.)
And he thinks that for a girl who loves to talk so much, she's been like, weirdly refusing to have a conversation. He eventually stops calling, because he gets a little more pissed every time she doesn't answer.
And you know what? He thinks that he's not going to let her get away with giving up on them so easily, not after everything. He's gonna make her listen to him, even if it takes a PA system and a piece of duct tape over her damn mouth.
So when he pulls up at her house at 4:00 in the morning, he gets out of his truck with a kind of determination that he probably has no business possessing right now. Her bedroom light is on, and her dad's car is in the driveway, and fuck, she's not going to turn him into the kind of guy who throws pebbles at her window and shit. He observes the house for a moment. There's nothing secure enough to climb up (and does he really want to be that guy?) He could just knock and wake up her whole family, because this seems pretty fucking important, actually, but then he runs the risk of her saying she doesn't want to see him and her dads telling him to leave, and he respects them and their home enough that he'd do as they asked.
So he's going old school.
Don't ask him how he knows so much about picking locks. Just don't. It's a whole big thing, and he's not proud of it. But yeah, he's got a little device in his glove box (he just never threw it away) that he inserts into the lock, and with a few jiggles, he feels the mechanism click, and he feels like such a dick for doing this. But that's on one hand. On the other hand, he's happy they don't have an alarm system, because when he walks inside (and yeah, he locks the door behind him) he heads quietly towards the stairs undetected.
She's got her back to the door, but she turns quickly and sits up when she hears someone push it open.
And the only time in his life that he's ever felt worse than he feels right now was when he heard those two harsh words from her mouth hours earlier. There are tears on her cheeks, her face free of makeup, and it's clear she hasn't gone to sleep. She's just been here crying. It's heartbreaking.
"How'd you get in?" she asks quietly. Her voice is all hoarse, and she raises her hand to her throat. He notices a bottle of water on her desk, and he hands it to her.
"Don't ask," he says, and it's like a warning. She sighs and lays down on her side again, her back to him. "Will you listen to me?"
"I've heard what you had to say."
"No, you didn't. You didn't listen, Rachel," he tells her. He knows he's right, whether she wants to admit it or not.
"You know," she says, rolling onto her back, "I never really think about your reputation before us. I don't consider who you used to be, because that's not who you are when you're with me."
"I know," he says urgently. "Exactly."
"But then, tonight, I was reminded that...people don't really change, do they? At the core, they're still the way they've always been, no matter how much they may fool you." She doesn't wipe the tears that fall from her eyes.
"So, what?" he asks, his brow furrowed. "You're saying you expected this of me?"
She shakes her head. "I'm saying I should have."
He scoffs and looks away from her. "That a really shitty thing to say, you know that?"
"You kissed another girl."
"She kissed me! And I stopped it! I told her I have a girlfriend," he says, not bothering to use the word 'had' instead, because fuck that. He loves her, even when, like now, she's hell bent on ripping his heart out of his chest. "What happened to trusting me? The benefit of the doubt or whatever?"
"What happened to me being enough for you?" she asks in a small voice, finally reaching up to wipe her eyes. "I can't..."
"You are enough for me," he says seriously. God, he just wants to touch her, to reach out and rest his hand on her stomach or something.
"Noah, you're twice her size. You're athletic and muscular, and if you really didn't want her around you, you could have done something about it. Maybe you told her that you had a girlfriend, but clearly that wasn't enough. You could have pushed her away. You could have forced her to leave you alone. Instead, you just stood there, letting her talk to you and bat her lashes, and..." She stops to compose herself, take a deep breath. She can't look him in the eye, for fear of what she might see and what it'll do to her. "You made a fool of me."
"I did push her away! You dumped me in front of a dozen people," he counters. He actually feels like he has a point.
And he's still reeling from her saying she should have expected this of him. Does she seriously think of him like that?
"You called me a bitch."
He winces. Her voice is almost a whisper, and he fucking hates himself. He reaches out and rests his hand on her upper arm, and he's more than a little surprised when she doesn't pull it away.
"I'm so sorry about that," he says. She can tell he's being sincere. "Rachel, this is..." (Do not use the word crazy, you idiot!) "This isn't right. I didn't do anything wrong. This is all just fucking...out of hand."
"Are you saying this is my fault?" she asks, sitting up to face him. It's then that he notices that she's wearing one of his tee shirts.
"No!" he answers quickly. "No, it's not your fault. It's...fuck, it's probably mine, somehow, but...I don't want anyone else, Rachel. Don't you know that by now? I just want you." She's biting the inside of her lip, which he knows she only does when she's trying not to cry or smile. It might be both right now. "We can't fucking break up, Rach. We can't."
She looks down for a second, and she doesn't know when he took her hand. She has no clue when that happened. He's running his thumb over her knuckles, and she knows they're not breaking up. She thinks she's an idiot for ever saying they were done in the first place. How could she ever think it?
She doesn't say anything for a while, and he thinks that he's going to have to break into song or fucking get down on his knees and beg her, and he'll do it if he has to. He doesn't care. He's not too proud to admit that he needs her.
But then she moves closer to him, shuffling on her knees until she's straddling his lap, and he's totally shocked and all he can do is rest his hands on her sides to steady her as she takes his face in her hands.
"Stop being an idiot," she says. It's half-teasing, but half-warning, and he sighs in relief. He just nods. "And I'll stop being a bitch."
"You're not a bitch," he says seriously. "I'm sorry I said that."
"I'm sorry I didn't hear you out," she says quietly. But he's finding it really, really hard to concentrate, because now he sees that his tee shirt is all she's wearing, and her hands are running through his 'hawk. "I do trust you, I do. I just...I got all insecure, and that's not your fault. You've really changed, and it's not fair of me to imply otherwise."
His heart is beating in his ears. He makes a promise to himself to never make her doubt him again.
"I love you, Rachel. So fucking much." She just kisses him, and as amazing as that is, her pressed against him, he can't let it go. "I really, really need you to say it back right now."
She grins and runs her nails over his scalp. "I love you too, Noah. So fucking much."
He doesn't think he's ever smiled so wide. He's never, ever heard her say that word before. He remembers that day, when he promised he'd make her say it someday. He didn't really think it'd actually happen, and he's tried.
This seems really fitting, her saying it right now.
"You should go," she says against his lips. "My dads'll kill you."
His hands slip beneath her shirt and she sucks in a breath when they travel up her back. "I'll leave before they're up."
"Noah," she says, smiling as she pulls away from him. He looks at her questioningly, as if to ask if she's really going to kick him out and deprive them both of what he knows is going to be amazing make up sex. "We have to be quiet."
He lays her on her back, but not before pulling the shirt up over her head. "Baby, I plan on making that as difficult as possible."
The first glee rehearsal of junior year, Puck walks into the room and sees that everyone else is already there. They all look at him like he's some kind of saviour or something, and he doesn't know what's going on.
Until he sees that Rachel is standing next to the piano, in front of Mr. Schuester. A quick glance to Kurt and it's very clear that they all think Puck is going to reign Rachel in and calm her down or something.
The truth is, he's come to find this whole diva act really fucking hot. What's sexier than seeing his girl fighting for what she wants?
"Mr. Schuester," she says in that tone she always uses when she completely disagrees with him. "Don't roll your eyes at me. I saw that."
"I'm not finished," she points out sternly. Puck smiles. "I understand that last year, the bulk of our male soloing was done by Finn, with the exception of a few numbers during which Artie displayed his impeccable vocal talent."
"Thank you, Rachel," Artie says, smiling from his place. She grins back at him. Puck just crosses his arms. He's got no idea what she's up to.
"However, I have spent all summer working on a few numbers with Noah that I truly believe we could, and should, fold into our repertoire. The more members we showcase, the better. You know that. And Noah has a beautiful singing voice. He could blow people away with his vocals. I should know. I've helped him excel."
"Rachel, you're talking like I said no to this. I never did. Frankly, I barely thought about glee club all summer, until about two weeks ago," Mr. Schuester says.
Puck grimaces. Not the right thing to say. Rachel gasps, like, gasps, and takes a step backwards like this is the absolute worst thing she's ever heard.
"Hey, Rach," Puck says. When she spins around and looks at him, it's clear she didn't know he was there until he spoke up. "Let's just show them what we've been working on."
She smiles all wide and he winks at her, reaching for the acoustic guitar in the room. She turns back to Mr. Schue with a smug look on her face, and he just shakes his head and gestures for her to take the floor.
She glances at Noah, who's sitting next to her with his guitar on his lap, and she thinks that it's so nice to have someone on your side, no matter what.
"I honestly thought you'd like, calm her down or something," Santana says, trying to make herself seem completely disinterested. "Not encourage her."
"It's true," Artie chimes in. "On occasion, I fear for my life when she gets like this."
Puck laughs and shakes his head. "She looks pretty calm to me." Her jaw drops (everyone else laughs) when he smacks her behind as she walks past where he sits. "Let's do this, babe."
It's not that she can't believe he did it (honestly, she's rarely ever really surprised by anything he does anymore) but there's a teacher in the room, not to mention almost all their friends. She shoots him a glare for good measure.
But then he starts playing guitar, and her heart does this crazy thing in her chest, and she almost misses her cue because she's thinking about how much she loves him.
He listens to her sing the first verse, and he thinks it's funny that no one's realized that the reason he and Rachel work together is because he doesn't tell her not to be crazy. He doesn't try to reign her in, and yeah, sometimes he does encourage her. But he doesn't ever ask her to change, because she's never asked that of him. If he changes, it's on his own. He might do it because of her, but not because she tells him to. He does it because it makes him a better boyfriend. And a better person, or whatever.
And besides, she gets this little smile on her face when they harmonize together, and he thinks that no matter what, they just work well together.
Later that night, when she's laying on her stomach on his bed, flipping through her history text, and he's lazily strumming his guitar and occasionally humming a melody, she looks up at him and can't help but smile. She sits up, closing her text before tossing it on the floor. He looks at her like she's nuts when she takes the guitar from his hands and leans it against the chair in the room.
But the look on her face is the one she always gets when she wants to make out. So he grins back, and when she moves towards him, he lays back on his pillows.
Maybe it's a Wednesday, and maybe they should both be studying, but he's not about to complain when she kisses him.
"Hmm." His lips brush against her cheek and he tucks a piece of her hair behind her ear.
"Thank you for sticking up for me today," she says quietly.
He laughs softly and shakes his head at her. "Any time, babe."
She kisses him because she knows he's telling her the truth.