A/N: Finished! Thank you all so much for the wonderful support and encouragement, especially to all of you wonderful reviewers, and I do hope you enjoy the last chapter!
In case you are interested, I've started outlining a new P/R story, so watch this space!
She's staring wide-eyed at the door wondering if she really heard that or if she's just trying to re-write her personal narrative again.
Who is she kidding? Even on her best day, that's not really something she could make up.
Because she never would have expected...maybe in a future sometime. (And when did she start thinking that his future and hers might intertwine? Before last night anyway.) And then of course he's out the door like a shot. Shirtless. In retrospect, perhaps not her best idea; she hopes he doesn't cause a riot crossing campus like that.
She's moving automatically, pulling a brush through her hair, selecting a pair of yoga pants, tying a loose knot in one corner of his t-shirt, so it doesn't look too ridiculously over sized. All familiar actions, tasks that do nothing to slow the rapid beat of her heart, or conversely, contradict the languor she still feels in her limbs, something relaxed, even loose, in the way she's carrying herself.
She's tugging the comforter into order, trying to ignore the tangle of sheets, when she hears Dad's quick knock, Daddy's voice in the hallway. Casting a final glance over the room, she sweeps the pair of lacy panties under the bed with one foot. Noah's gorgeous, talented hands sliding them tantalizingly slowly down her thighs, his mouth moving to the places his hands leave behind, while she arches up against him...and no! For heaven's sake, not now!
Opening the door, "Dad! Daddy! You're here! I didn't expect you..." quite so early "...until the conference was over!"
"Pumpkin! Dad rescheduled his morning seminar. We just couldn't wait to see you! Surprised?"
"So surprised!" she manages.
As it turns out, the entire morning is a testament to her skills as an actress. She beams, offers hugs, talks excitedly (and she hopes coherently) of the program in general and the concert in particular. However, she's essentially in another world, functioning with a level of abstraction which is probably for the best, as when Dad asks teasingly if she's missed Noah.
She blinks twice, chasing away visions of her own hands eliciting moans, making him crazy, making him hers.
Then, biting her lip, she admits to it.
As happy as she is to see them (really, she is), it's a relief to send them out on a tour of campus. She needs to finish packing. A shower is most definitely on the agenda as well. But she gives herself a moment to collapse back on her bed. She's exhausted. Also a little horrified to find that the grounds for that exhaustion causes a Puck-like smirk to slide over her features.
Or at least she should be horrified. Instead, she's burying her head into the pillow, trying to capture his spicy scent. Breathing in, she closes her eyes, and inevitably memories from the last 24 hours start bursting in rapid succession behind her eyelids.
The emotional high of seeing him waiting for her, the way his arms wrap around her tightly, the corner of his mouth tugged up in a smile. Looking out at him as he leans back in his seat through dress rehearsal and then again at the performance; peeking from the wings, scanning the rows until she sees him and wondering at the strange mix of serenity and excitement flowing through her veins, like she's breathing a richer kind of air.
Her voice soaring out across the stage and to the audience, singing her heart out for everyone and for him.
His song just for her, and for a moment all she can see are his hands, familiar and sure on the guitar. Later, his whispered promises hot in her ear, telling her what she's doing to him, how she's making him feel, exactly what he wants to do to her when he spreads her out on that little twin bed.
This morning, his voice calling her beautiful, the way he looks at her letting her know it.
Events she'll never be able to separate out into their individual components after this.
Finally, his hand on the door, eyes uncertain, making a move closer and just as quickly stepping away. Classic Puckerman. But this? She can't even blame him for freaking out. This was a big move.
He loves her.
And part of the five year plan or not, she loves him too. Has loved him to know it since she saw him on the steps of the arts center yesterday and ran to him, her feet telling her what her head wasn't. Except it's been longer than that. She's beginning to think that maybe she started out liking the boy who became her friend despite himself and along the way found the man who ached to do his best for his daughter, who defended her and looked out for her and who let her do just the same for him.
Obviously, it's a lot to take in. Still, her next move seems clear-and with growing confidence she realizes that she doesn't even need chart paper to figure it out.
Pushing herself upright, she crosses to the closet, hauls out her suitcase and resumes packing, making a special note not to forget the panties under the bed. What is she going to do about the entire situation? Well, she's going to get through whatever she has to today and then she's going to go home and get her man. (Maybe she'll get Daddy to play some Blondie on the way home.)
Brave words aside, even with Debbie Harry for back-up it's a little nerve racking.
She eats a light dinner, puts on her favorite (his favorite) skirt and waves to dad and daddy who smile back indulgently and tell her not to stay out too late. She decides not to mention that they haven't set a specific definition for 'too late.'
She drives past his house twice. Reconnaissance is a key part of any mission, although pretty much all she gleans is that his truck is in the driveway. It is a tiny relief to see that he hasn't fled the state. (It's also possible that she's over-dramatizing the situation, but two texts during the day, one of which was 'hey' and the other 'cu l8tr?' don't tell her much about his state of mind.)
She's about to knock when the door flies open and she's almost run over by Noah's sister, closely followed by his mother. Sarah stares widely for a moment, tugs on her mother's sleeve and then squeals, "That's her! The one I was telling you about!"
Mrs. Puckerman's eyes widen. "The one you were telling me about? Rachel? Rachel Berry from Noah's glee club? Rachel Berry from temple?"
"Rachel! Noah's girlfriend," Sarah hisses in confirmation and blushing a little, Rachel opens her mouth to introduce herself but gets no further than, "Hello..." before she's pulled into a hug.
"Rachel, so nice to meet you! Your father Ben serves on the capital fund committee at the synagogue, doesn't he? He's always talking about his beautiful daughter. And I can certainly see why. Such a nice girl and so talented!"
"Thank you Mrs. Puckerman, that's..." Rachel says into the older woman's shoulder.
"Call me Leah, dear," she says, releasing Rachel from the hug, but maintaining a (firm) grip on Rachel's arm. "I can't imagine why Noah's been keeping you hidden away. But now that we've met, we can sit down to a nice dinner. In fact, let's get the families together. Next Friday? Do your fathers keep kosher? If so, we can do kosher. I'll tell you what, sweetheart, I'll call them tomorrow and set it all up!"
"Yes, I'm sure that would be...," Rachel manages to get out, but apparently no answer is required, because Mrs. Puckerman, Leah, pulls her into another quick hug before rolling on.
"Now Rachel, I'm so sorry but I have to run out to bring Sarah to a sleepover. You can run right upstairs to Noah's room. Second door on the left."
(Actually, Rachel's been there before, but she's not about to mention it.)
Mrs. Puckerman pauses, looks at Rachel thoughtfully. "You could do one other thing for me, dear. Please let Noah know that I have several errands to run. Shopping, the dry cleaning..."
Dry cleaning on a Saturday night?
"...a number of things. I don't expect to be back until 10 or 10:30. In fact, I'll probably give him a call when I'm on my way home." Pulling Sarah out the door, she smiles again and Rachel smiles back weakly because it seems quite possible, (and granted she doesn't always read people correctly, but here it seems embarrassingly clear), that she's being sent upstairs to defile Mrs. Puckerman's little boy. Or something like that.
She briefly considers chasing the woman down the walkway to assure her that Rachel Berry is not that kind of girl. Only after last night, Noah's hands, his mouth, and god, she's dying to do it all again, she is a little.
Just butterflies, she tells herself as she walks up the stairs. The door's open a crack, so she knocks twice and when there's no response, she takes a deep breath and pushes the door completely open.
He's asleep when she goes in, stretched out along his bed, totally relaxed, eyelashes a smudge along his face, his mouth a gentle curve. She steps closer, then hesitates, crumpling the hem of her skirt in her fist before catching herself and smoothing it down. Her eyes drift downward to where his shirt has ridden up and almost unconsciously she tracks the line of hair from his belly button to where it disappears at the top of his jeans. Something curls low in her belly and she has a sudden urge to trace it with her tongue. Blushing, she forces her eyes back upwards only to find him blinking sleepily at her.
He reaches for her, eyes still half closed. She lets him pull her close, until she has one knee on the bed, his hand on the curve of her hip.
"You're here," he says, his voice rusty with sleep, "wait, do you have shoes on?"
"What?" she asks, looking down at her feet. Strappy sandals, very cute. Huh?
He shakes his head, grips tighter. "Never mind, just a dream."
"About shoes?" Her brow knits in confusion.
"About you," he says, watching his hand with careful concentration as it slides from her hip to dip under her blouse, fingers brushing her skin, and something about, his words or his touch or all of it makes her lose her head completely.
"I missed you," she says with a hitch in her voice, feeling the heat of his hand on her rib-cage, moving higher, his thumb tracing the lacy side of her bra and her eyes flutter shut.
(Naturally, it does almost nothing to curb her loquacity.)
"Noah. After you left this morning, I mean and certainly I knew that you'd have to go at some point, but it was very sudden and then I was thinking of you while I was packing-well day-dreaming might be a better description, and again on the drive back and..."
And then she's not saying anything because he lets out a noise something like a growl (only it doesn't sound angry at all, she likes it) and he yanks her down of top of him. His other hand, the one not moving to her ass, twists in her hair and carefully tugs her hair back so his lips can find her mouth, her face, her neck.
"Fuck, Rachel, fuck..." he groans out as he nuzzles her, nipping at her ear.
Is that a request? She'd clear away a little space in her head to think about that, but he's already gripping her forearms, pushing her up and away gently, sucking in a sharp breath as she balances on his hips, straddling him.
"Babe...baby," he hisses, "wait, wait a minute." His hands tighten and she lets out a squeak. "Shit, sorry!" He rubs her arms and then loosely clasps his fingers around her wrists. "Rach, fuck, we should probably...I really wanna...but hell, my mother and sister are downstairs and that introduction is going to be complicated enough as it is, so..."
She frowns a little, "Do you think your mother isn't going to like me, because I should tell you..."
His eyes widen, "What? No, babe, that's definitely not it."
"And you do realize that I've already met your mother, don't you? How do you think I got in here?" She follows his gaze to the window. "The window, Noah? What kind of dream did you have?"
Is he blushing? And twitching against her inner thigh? She hops off and settles on the bed next to him, smoothing down her skirt against her legs. (She can pursue that line of questioning later.)
When she chances a look back at him, he seems to have recovered his sangfroid. He's leaning back with his hands under his head and what can only be described as a smirk on his face. "So you met Mama P.? I was going to run interference for you against all that crazy, but then again you can probably hold your own."
Really? He wants to play? Because she can play.
Sweetly. "Oh Noah, that reminds me! Your mother did ask me to let you know that she would be out for a few hours. Something about meeting with Rabbi Wiseman? She seemed quite enthusiastic about it."
He pales and sits up and she takes pity on him almost immediately.
"I'm sorry Noah, I couldn't help myself. Rabbi Wiseman didn't come up at all. She is out though, and will be for quite some time. She mentioned errands, and dry-cleaning and the like. She'll call you."
"She's going where?"
When she repeats herself, he rubs a hand along the back of his head and mutters "That woman. Errands my ass. You realize that she's basically giving us permission to screw around?"
"I did suspect that might be true," she says, trying to keep her composure, her lips curling up at the corners despite herself.
"You think it's funny now, wait a few weeks until she actually is trying to plan our wedding."
"I'm sure it won't come to that."
He makes a face at her and she laughs and turns her face up towards him and he kisses her briefly and then stands, pulling her to her feet behind him. Grabbing his keys off the desk, he grins. "Come on. Let's get out of here."
"Hold on Noah, are we going to the golf course again? Because there's a little bit of a chill in the air tonight."
"Baby, I've got other places to take my girl."
"The parking lot of the 7-11? Oooh, actually I've been craving a slushie!"
"Hell, no. Someplace quiet. I've got three fucking weeks without you to make up for. Or, you know, two weeks and six days." He looks around his room. "Besides, we can't stay here. Permission? Shit's off-putting."
He stops off to buy her a slushie anyway, smiling at her when he hands her the straw tucked over his ear.
They park in the darkest corner of the McKinley parking lot and he leads her to the padlocked gate to the bleachers. Somehow, she's not surprised when one of the keys on his chain opens the lock.
They sit by side, his arm around her her hand on his knee, not saying anything, and it is quiet, almost dreamlike, the only light coming from a solitary streetlight.
"You know, bringing you here, this is meant to be symbolic and shit," he says finally, awkwardly.
Her heart dips and she flashes a look up at him, but he's staring out onto the field. "Symbolic?" she asks, "Noah, we broke up here."
He hauls her in a little closer to his side. "No. Fuck. I mean after everything exploded-Quinn and Finn and the baby. You came and found me out here. Everyone fucking hated me. I hated myself. And then for whatever reason, there was you, every Tuesday and Thursday with your twinkies."
"I wanted to be your friend," she whispers.
He laughs. "Yeah, no matter what I had to say about it. You just care about everyone and you're stubborn as fuck and you never give up and I really like that about you." He pauses, links their fingers together and says carefully, "Actually, I love that about you."
It's easy. It's so so so simple to smile at him and say it back and the words taste sweet on her lips and then on his when she says it on his mouth and he seems to like it so she says it a few more times until she can't say anything at all.
There's something sweet in that as well, and they take their time with each other, tongues gentle, sharing breaths, before finally pulling away.
She sighs happily looking around at the empty bleachers. "This absolutely trumps our break-up in terms of unforgettable moments associated with this place."
"I wasn't going to break up with you, anyway," he shrugs.
"I knew it!" she jumps up and squeals. "Even if I wouldn't let you touch my breasts."
"Yeah, well you made up for that later." He wraps his arms around her, one hand sliding to her backside. "Anyway, if I remember right, I did get a nice handful of your ass that afternoon. Fucking perfect."
"What? No seriously, you've got no fucking clue. You only get to see it all twisted around and backwards in the mirror. Probably looks a little strange from that angle."
"I'll have you know that I've seen my a...my bottom frequently. I tape all my performances to see how I can improve and naturally my posture, my carriage is an important component, so..."
"Whatever." He pulls her back down next to him, tugs her in to his side again, exactly where she wants to be and she leans into him. "My point it that it's pretty fucking lovable close up."
"You love me," she says softly.
"Oh baby, you have no fucking idea."