A/N: Last chapter! Thanks so much guys! You're awesome.

A few days later, Rachel is on top of him, literally fucking torturing him with the way she's moving her hips, and she pulls away abruptly.

They're still wearing all their clothes (what the fuck's that about?) and they're listening to the Dave Matthews Band (the girl loves that shit; who knew?) and they're on his bed alone in his house.

"What's wrong?" he asks. Shit. He's really been hoping that she'll just like, miraculously tell him that she wants to have sex. Yeah, he's pretty sure that's a pipe dream. She won't even let him unbutton her shorts. Ever.

"I heard something," she whispers.

"No you didn't," he says, leaning up to kiss her. She puts her hand over his mouth and literally pushes him back against his pillow. (It's pretty hot, really.)

Then he hears the front door open.


"Shit," he mumbles. He literally pushes her off him, and she lands on the mattress and lets out a squeak. "Open the door."

"Noah, we're here alone all the time."

"Rachel, my mom loves you. She'll fuckin' disown me if she thinks I'm corrupting you or something. Open the fucking door."

She smiles, then shakes her head and sighs dramatically as she crosses the room and pulls the door open. She briefly wonders why they had it shut in the first place, since they thought they had the whole evening alone.

Truth be told, she thinks the interruption might be for the best. They still haven't talked about what this is, and she's getting closer and closer to doing something that would make it very, very real. He knows that Quinn knows, and he's told Matt, but other than that it's just been between the two of them.

He sits up against his headboard, pulls a guitar magazine onto his lap, and glares at her when she giggles. She tries to sit next to him, but he pushes her away. She rolls her eyes and pushes the dirty clothes off his desk chair so she can sit down. She pulls it close to the bed and flips his magazine to the tablature pages. He briefly wonders what she's doing, then his mom appears in the doorway, and Rachel's off.

"You see? The tempo is perfect, and the lyrics, while the average listener might not think it, are quite poignant. I think It's some of Dylan's best work, which of course, isn't saying much, because I've never been that big of a Dylan fan. Daddy loves him, but I've always been more into James Taylor and Joni Mitchell and...Oh! Aviva!"

Puck doesn't know whether to be impressed or terrified.

"Hello, sweetie. How are you?" Aviva says sweetly, standing in the doorway.

"I'm doing well. Are you off work early?" Rachel asks.

"Our air conditioning unit broke, so they moved our patients to another wing, and didn't need all the staff. We were just getting in each others' way," Aviva explains. She looks at the mess on the floor (the mess Rachel created by throwing his shit off his chair.) "Noah, you should really tidy your room before you have company. I'm sure Rachel's room is spotless."

"You think Rachel is perfect," he mumbles.

"That's because she is, honey," Aviva says with a laugh. Rachel blushes and Puck rolls his eyes. Aviva turns to Rachel again, smiling at the way Rachel is idly stacking the magazines on Puck's desk. "You're staying for dinner, aren't you?"

"Oh, actually, I owe Noah a meal. I thought we might go out. Unless, of course, you were hoping on spending time with him, in which case he and I can reschedule," Rachel says.

Puck is trying hard not to laugh. Rachel doesn't owe him anything. He thinks it's pretty awesome that she's lying (fibbing, she'll say later) to his mom just so they can spend time together.

"No!" Aviva says far too quickly. Puck is suspicious. "No, don't you let me change your plans. I don't want to ruin your date." She sends Puck a look that is way too fucking transparent, and he groans and tips his head back, smacking it off his headboard. "You two have fun, then. I'll call Carole and see if she's free."

She leaves the room and Puck glares at Rachel.

"You hear that shit? She's fucking nuts, babe." Rachel waits until she can hear Aviva on the phone downstairs, then settles herself next to Puck on the bed and leans down, taking his face in her hands, and kisses him. Hard. "Whoa. What's that about?"

He wonders if she means for her forearm to brush against the front of his shorts. It does.

"Don't tell anyone, because I can't have people believing that this excessively masculine, possessive behaviour actually..."

"Rachel," he says, sounding exhausted. He's come to learn that if he just interrupts her rants like that, she'll make her point quicker.

"I like it when you call me babe," she admits.

He raises his brow and tugs her arm to pull her closer. "Yeah?" he asks, his voice low and his lips just inches from hers. She nods and moves to kiss him, but he won't let her. "Good. Now that my mom thinks we're fucking dating, I guess..."

She pulls away and looks at him. She's filled with nerves. He doesn't sound thrilled about this dating thing. "What?"

He stops himself just before he asks if she'll be his girlfriend. He is just not that kind of guy.

"I dunno. I guess we're dating."

She starts laughing. He doesn't look amused. "You guess?" He rolls his eyes. "Would you like more time to think about it?" She stands and straightens out her shirt. "Because I can go."

He grabs her wrist and pulls her back onto his lap, and she squeals. "Smart ass," he mumbles against her lips.

"You're ridiculous," she says quietly. "One of these days, you'll learn to deal with your emotions like a normal person."

He breathes out a laugh. "Yeah?" She nods and kisses him again. This time, she doesn't even care if his mother comes in. (He probably still does.) "Alright. You can teach me shit, and I can teach you shit."

"I beg your pardon?" she laughs. "Just what do you think you're going to teach me?"

He stares at her blankly for a moment, then pushes her away slightly. "Sex," he says, like it's just that obvious.

"Noah, I've...I've had sex," she tells him, like it's something he should have already assumed.

Well, no, he fucking hadn't.

He pushes her off him completely so she's sitting next to him, facing him. "What?"

"I was with Jesse for..."

"You slept with that douchebag?!"

She's a little taken aback with how angry he seems about this.

But he is pissed. It's weird, because it's not like he cared at the time. He never actually gave it a second thought, her relationship with Jesse. But now that she's his girl - now that he wants her like he does - the thought of her ever being touched by anyone else is really fucking brutal. He's never felt this with any other girl. Maybe that's because, with the exception of Quinn, he's never really cared at all.

"Yes," she answers, because she doesn't know what else to say.

"And you didn't think you might want to fucking tell me that?" he asks, eyes locked with hers.

"It never came up!" she reminds him. "This has only been...it hasn't even been a week! We've been just kissing, and you never pushed me."

"That's because I thought you were a virgin. Hell, if I'd known you already gave it up, I wouldn't have been holding back."

She stands up and crosses her arms over her chest. "That's a terrible thing to say," she tells him, doing her best not to cry. She grabs her purse and slips her feet back into her flip flops. "You're being a complete jerk, and you have no right."

"Uh, pretty sure I do." He stands, too, crosses his arms and tries to look as pissed as possible.

"No, you don't," she says seriously, heading for the door. He reaches for her elbow and tries to hold her, but he doesn't know why, doesn't know what he's going to say. "I'm leaving."

She wants so badly for him to just apologize, to realize that he's wrong and give her a reason to stay.

He doesn't. He doesn't say anything.

So she walks out of his room, and he doesn't even hear her say goodbye to his mom. When he looks out his window to see her getting into her car, he watches her wipe a tear.


It takes about 45 seconds for his mom to barge into his room and ask him what's going on.

"Nothing," he mumbles.

"Noah, what did you do?"

"Nothing! Christ!"

"You made her cry!" she argues. "That's not nothing. Whatever you did, you apologize. I know I bother you about her being your future wife..."

"Mom! Fuck!" he barks, running his hand over his face.

"But Rachel is just a sweet girl and a wonderful friend. I hope that you realize that before it's too late."

He sighs and grabs his keys and wallet, stuffing his phone into his pocket.

He doesn't say anything to his mom as he passes her and jogs down the stairs.

For all the shit that woman talks, every once in a while she actually says something that makes sense.

As he's driving through town towards Rachel's place, he tries her cell, but she doesn't answer. He dials again two minutes later, but gets the same result.

He curses and throws his phone across the cab of his truck, mostly because he still can't figure out if this whole thing is his fault or hers.

Rachel can't believe that they became a couple and broke up within the span of five minutes. She can't believe his overreaction to her past. (Really? He's judging her?) She can't believe she's so upset over this. She shouldn't be, really. He was barely her boyfriend. She doesn't think she was this upset over she and Jesse breaking up, and they dated for months.

What is it about Noah Puckerman that makes her so crazy?

She finds herself at Brittany's place, because she knows that if she went home he'd just show up eventually, and she doesn't want to speak to him. He's said enough already.

Brittany answers the door and Rachel is ushered into the house, and she actually laughs - really laughs - because she realizes how ridiculous she's being, crying to her girlfriends over something her boyfriend did.

She tells them the whole story, and Brittany is totally shocked to learn that Rachel and Puck have been making out. After about five minutes, she just shrugs her shoulder. "I guess I've seen it coming," she says, and that's her final word on that matter.

Rachel's phone rings no less than five times in a half hour, and Quinn begs her to answer, but Rachel refuses.

So Quinn excuses herself and texts Puck, letting him know where Rachel is, that she's really upset. Quinn figures that if Rachel won't help herself, she'll do it. It's clear Rachel is crazy about Puck and vice versa, though neither is ready to admit it yet.

When Puck shows up 10 minutes later, standing on the front steps of Brittany's house with his hands in his pockets, Rachel rolls her eyes and scowls at Quinn.

"Would you just go?" Quinn asks, not caring that it's the four of them standing there together. "You two obviously need to talk."

"No," Rachel says stubbornly. She actually crosses her arms. Puck thinks it's cute, the way she's trying to ignore him, but he noticed the way she looked at him when she saw him.

"Rach, come on," he says, turning towards her, boxing the other two girls out. "Come to the lake with me."

"Noah, I..."

Quinn interrupts by literally pushing the couple out the door. It opens a couple seconds later and she thrusts Rachel's purse into Puck's hands. He quickly gives it to Rachel.

"I have nothing to say to you," Rachel states.

"Why do I find that hard to believe?" he asks. She scowls at him. "Rachel, just...just come with me."

"Why should I?"

"Because I'm sorry," he says sincerely. "And I'll use the whole drive to come up with the best fucking apology you've ever heard."

She lets out a huff and stomps off towards his truck. He figures that's something.

She changes the radio to the station she always listens to, and a few minutes into the drive, when a shitty Celine Dion song comes on, she cranks the volume. He knows it's just to piss him off, but he figures he deserves it.

She doesn't know what kind of apology he's going to give her, but she hopes it's a freaking good one. She's mad at him, and she's mad at Quinn for telling him where she was, and she's mad that he obviously used the lake to lure her with him, like this is their sacred place or something and she can't say no to him if he wants to bring her here. And she's mad at him for knowing that would work.

He parks in the same spot he did that night, but it's light out this time. There still isn't anyone around, and when he switches off the ignition, she still refuses to look at him.

He hops out of the truck and hopes that she'll follow. She does, after a few minutes. She walks over to where he's sitting on top of a picnic table and sits down next to him.

"So where's this apology, then?" she asks coldly, hands folded neatly in her lap.

"Look, I'm sorry I said what I said," he says. She wonders if he means to sound like having to apologize physically hurts him. "I just...fuck. I thought about that asshole touching you, and I fucking lost it, okay? I don't want..."

"You and I were barely even speaking at the time, Noah," she reminds him, turning toward him a little bit. "You can't possibly hold that against me. And you can't act like you're some saint."


"It's true," she says curtly. His head is hung. She wonders if he really understands why she's so upset. "You made me feel like...like a slut."

He looks over at her quickly, turning so their knees are pressed together. "What? Rachel, no."

"That's how I felt. You just assume that since I'm not a virgin that I would have automatically slept with you if you'd tried. Well, I hate to tell you, but that's not how it works with me, Noah. I'm not one of those girls. I'm not like the girls you usually date."

"I know that."

"So why can't you respect it?"

"Hey!" he says, offended. "I do respect it. Have I pushed you? Fuck, I like to think I'm a pretty good gauge of if a girl's ready or not. You didn't seem like you were ready."

"But then you said..."

"I know what I said. I was pissed."

"You can't use that excuse on me, Noah," she tells him. "You're going to have to explain yourself better than that, because that's not reason enough to act the way you acted."

Well, shit. He seriously wants to ask if she hangs out with his mom when he's not around or something.

"Can I get a free pass this one time?" he asks, smirking at her. He sees the smile she's trying to hide. "Look, Rachel, the thing is...I actually...I fucking like, care about you or whatever, and thinking about someone else doing that...being with you that way was just..."

"You care about me?" she asks quietly, looking at her hands.

He looks at her in confusion. "Was it a fucking secret?"

She laughs and looks over at him. No, it wasn't a secret. It's nice to hear it, though. "You never really told me."

"Well, I'm telling you now."

She sighs and tips her head back. "You know, you make it very difficult to stay angry with you."

"I know," he says, draping his arm around her. "I'm kinda awesome that way."

She leans against him and he kisses her hair, then he's pulling away from her and tugging his tee shirt over his head.

"What are you doing?" she asks, laughing when he tosses his shirt at her.


She watches as he kicks off his shoes, winks at her, then heads for the water. She gets the impression that even if he wasn't wearing board shorts, he'd still be hell bent on swimming.

He calls to her once he's out about 20 feet, treading water. He tells her to come in, and she looks around, noticing that there's not a soul around.

She's not wearing a bathing suit. She doesn't care.

She pulls her shirt off, then unbuttons her shorts, and her teal underwear and matching bra look really good against her tanned skin, she thinks. She heads for the water, and she knows he's watching her intently, but she doesn't care about that either. He pulls her against him as soon as she's in front of him, and she drapes her arms over his shoulders.

"So, we good?" he asks. He figures that since her legs are locked around his waist and she's trusting him to keep them both afloat (how is he even doing that?) she's probably accepted his apology.

"I forgive you, if that's what you mean."

"Good," he says, just before he kisses her.

He feels kinda badass. They've made it through their first fight.

"Noah and I have an announcement to make," Rachel states, standing at the front of the garage with her hands at her sides.

Artie starts laughing. "Finally."

"Cool," Finn says.

So yeah, that's how Finn and Artie find out.

They don't so much tell his mom as they just sit on the sofa watching a movie, then get carried away making out and she comes home and flicks on the light.

Puck thinks she's going to cry or something. It's stupid.

"Oh, I knew this was going to happen!" she says happily, buzzing around the room, picking up the empty glasses Puck had every intention (no, he really didn't) of cleaning up later.

Then she flicks off the light, tells them she's going upstairs, and Puck shrugs his shoulder, then pins Rachel to the sofa again. She laughs and tries to tell him that they can't make out when his mom's home, but he shuts her up with a kiss, then does that thing with his tongue that makes her moan, and apparently she stops caring.

At their next show, Finn brings some girl from Carmel he met at work, and Artie has Tina come, and Matt and Mike show up with Brittany and Santana (and no one really understands how all that works.) Quinn comes, but she's pouting about being the only single person there, so she calls this guy she met, and he meets her at the bar.

During their break between sets, this 30-something couple walks up and asks Rachel if the band is really busy, or if they could potentially play a wedding in two weeks' time. Of course, Rachel takes the job on the spot. Puck immediately asks how much it'd pay.


Four. Thousand. Dollars.

Sure, they'll have to learn some new tunes so they have enough to fill an entire night of people getting hammered and dancing, but fuck. He can think of worse things he'd do for a grand in his pocket, tax free.

So yeah, that makes playing their second set in this shitty bar a lot easier.

"What are you going to wear?" Rachel asks him one day, laying on his bed as he lazily strums his acoustic next to her.


"To this wedding," she clarifies, glancing around.

His room is much, much cleaner now that she bugs him every time she's in there about how he's such a slob that she might have to break up with him. Empty threats, he knows, but still. It's just easier to pick up his shit than to have her nagging him all the time. And yeah, it's kinda nice, having room to move, and clothes put away that he knows are clean.

His mother says Rachel's a good influence. She's probably right.

"I dunno. Playing guitar in a suit would suck."

"You know," she says, straddling his legs, his guitar between them, "this feels like before our first show, when you were worried about what I was going to wear."

"That's because most of your clothes? Babe, they aren't good," he says. He's grinning at her, and he totally expects her to smack his chest, which is exactly what she does. "C'mon. I'm kidding. You know I love all that argyle."

"You're such a jerk," she laughs. She gets up and flounces over to his closet, looking through his stuff until she gasps and spins around. "We should go shopping!"



"No," he says, smiling at her. "I've got shit to wear. And I look good in a shirt and tie, baby, you know that."

She pouts, but rushes back over to the bed. "You do."

He kisses her and never stops playing the song he's playing. He knows she loves that shit too.

They've been doing this for a few weeks now. It's the beginning of August, which kind of sucks, because summer is almost over, really, and that just means that he has to go back to fucking school, which he hates more than anything in life.

"What are you gonna wear?" he asks.

The little smile she gives him right before she licks her lips tells him that he's going to like whatever she wears to this thing.

"I bought something special."

He hopes to god there's something special for underneath it, too.

You see, they haven't slept together, and that's fine. he's not pushing the issue, because he doesn't really care, with Rachel. Weird, right? Sure, he wants to sleep with her, and yeah, he thinks about it pretty much all the time, but he doesn't want to fuck up what they have. At all. And besides, it's not like they haven't done...other stuff. That's all kinda new, but it's still fucking amazing. Girl is multi-talented, let's put it that way.

"I bet you did," he says.

His guitar is quickly forgotten.

So is the fact that they have food on the way. Puck is not impressed when the doorbell rings just as Rachel's bra has hit the floor.

So when the couple who hired them decides that they're going to spring for hotel rooms so the band doesn't have to drive from the resort back to Lima after the reception, Puck actually starts getting nervous.

Let's be honest. There's no way he and Rachel are sleeping in separate rooms. And if they're in a room together, alone, no interruptions...well, with the way things have been going lately (and they've been going good) he's fairly certain that they aren't just going to be sleeping.

So why's he nervous? Because this is Rachel. And this is a fucking...relationship, or whatever. Neither of them are virgins, sure, and they both know this is an inevitable thing, them sleeping together. But the thing is, there are feelings and shit now, and Puck isn't really sure how to do all that.

So he asks for help.

He regrets it immediately.

After she stops laughing in his face, Quinn actually gives him some good advice.

"Look," she says, "a girl like Rachel expects things, okay? Like romance, and sweetness, and she's definitely not going to want to feel like you're just assuming it's going to happen."

"Yeah. Got that," he says, remembering that first fight, the one that almost broke them up before they even started.

"So just relax about it!" Quinn laughs. He rolls his eyes at her. "Don't have a box of condoms in your guitar case or anything." He raises his brow at her. "Well, have some."

He sighs and flops back on her bed in this weird mint green room she lives in at Brittany's house. "It's just different with her, you know?"

"Aww," Quinn coos, laying next to him, linking her arm through his. "You're a feelings virgin."

"Fuck you."

She starts laughing again.


The wedding is pretty awesome, he has to admit. The crowd is all over the band's blend of hits from the 80's and 90's. Puck thinks one woman is absolutely going to lose her mind when they start playing Del Amitri's Roll To Me. The newlyweds dance along to Jewel's You Were Meant For Me, which Puck rolls his eyes about, because it's the one song Rachel sings lead on, and everyone fucking loves it, of course. (He still kisses her after, leans across her keyboard and lays one on her, and the crowd seems to love that, too.)

It's fun, though. This is definitely the most responsive crowd they've had (not that they're veterans, by any means) and it's nice to have an audience that actually looks like they're having fun and it's not just the alcohol. (Except for that one guy who's been doing Jager shots all night long...)

This walking cliché of a bridesmaid hits on Puck between sets when he's getting a bottle of water, and he makes no mistake, telling her very quickly that he's off the market. (He sends her in the direction of Jager Guy.)

They're all exhausted when the night ends and they start tearing down their stuff. Rachel finishes first, since she has the least amount of gear, and when she tries to start helping Artie, Puck grabs her hand and pulls her away from the group.

"Why don't you go up to bed?" he suggests, slipping their room key into her hand.

"But there's more stuff, and..."

"Go," he insists. "I'll be up in a bit."

She's nervous. She knows what's going to happen tonight. She thinks that maybe a little time alone with help relax her. She can go up, calm herself down, and then be ready for him when he comes into the room. Thinking about that sends a wave of something through her body.

She leans forward to kiss him, since she's in heels and it's a little easier (she doesn't have to go so far) and says goodnight to the guys.

When she gets to the room, she reaches for her suitcase. She feels bad not using the other room, since this couple so generously paid for the band to stay at the resort. But then she sees the king sized bed in the room, and thinks about spending the whole night alone with Noah, sleeping in his arms, and the guilt ebbs away.

She unzips her black strapless dress and lets it fall to the floor, then steps into the bathroom and dabs some water onto her face, careful not to smudge her makeup. She pulls her hair from its elaborate updo, and combs her fingers through the ends. It's a little messy, curled wildly from being up all day, but she thinks it looks kind of sexy, too.

Stepping back into the room, she pulls off her strapless bra and reaches for the deep purple satin thigh-length nightgown she brought. Noah is going to love this. She folds her dress and sets it in her suitcase, then checks the time and tries to guess how long it'll take Noah to get through tearing down their equipment.

She doesn't really know what to do until then.

She sits back on the bed and crosses her legs, attempting a few 'sexy' poses before she realizes how ridiculous that is and rolls her eyes at herself. She's like one of those girls in those terrible teen movies, and she refuses to be. She tells herself to relax, that she's got nothing to prove to him anyway.

Noah takes longer than she thought.

When he steps into the room it's almost completely dark, and he smiles. He wonders how much she messed with the lighting in the last half hour to get it just right.

Then he sees her laying on the bed in this amazing slip thing. God, she looks beautiful.

Too bad she's fucking sleeping.

He actually laughs. Maybe he should have expected that if they planned anything, things wouldn't work out. He should have known.

He loosens his tie and tosses it onto the table in the room, then unbuttons his shirt as he watches her sleep. Walking over to the bed, he pulls down the sheets on the side she's not sleeping on, then lifts her up easily and lays her down again, covering her over. It's just not happening tonight. He's not upset or mad or anything. Disappointed, maybe, but not mad. If he's being honest, he's exhausted too.

He strips down to his boxers and switches off the light before climbing into bed next to her and pulling her back against him. Her nightgown is smooth against his skin, and her warm body feels amazing pressed up against his.

It happens one night, completely unexpectedly (she should have known it would.)

He takes her to the lake, and she teases him for being a romantic, always bringing her back to that spot, but he scoffs at her and tells her it's just quiet and he's trying to wear her down and convince her to skinnydip.

That's not really a lie.

She's laying on the sand at the shore on a blanket, and he's got his guitar in his hands as he sits next to her.

"What is that?" she asks when he starts picking a quiet song.

"You've never heard it?" She shakes her head and watches his hands move. "'S'called Nightswimming." He watches her, just staring at him, then she licks her lips subtly. (Shit, he should have thought of this sooner.) "It's an REM song. Original is on piano, but I like it on guitar."

She wonders if he really is a romantic. She's seen enough of it that she could certainly make a case. He won't say it, but the way he just explained all that basically said, 'I learned this song for you because I knew you'd like it.' She's pretty fluent in the absurd language he speaks by now.

She sits up and leans over to kiss him as he plays, and he doesn't even mess up (that's how awesome he is.)

He fumbles a little bit when she stands up and takes her shirt off, though. She isn't wearing a bra beneath her tank top. Her hands go to the button of her shorts and he stops playing all together. She pushes them down her legs along with her underwear and his guitar ends up next to him. He's never seen all of her naked before. Certain parts, yes, and he's not complaining about that, but she's always been a little nervous or shy or modest or whatever the fuck. This, her naked and standing in front of him, is new.


"I'm convinced," she says, pulling her hair from its ponytail, slipping the elastic onto her wrist. "Come swimming?"

He stands up super-fast, and she giggles when he tries to reach for her, then squeals and takes off towards the water. He's not even out of his shorts when he sees her dive beneath the surface.

How amazing is his life right now?

She's got her back to him when he gets to her in the water, and he knows she hasn't looked. Apparently, some of that modesty is still kicking around. She's standing up to her shoulders in water, and he wraps his arms around her from behind, knowing that he's already half hard, and it's not going to take much (anything) to get him all the way there, all the way ready for her.

He pushes her wet hair off her shoulder with one hand, the other settled on her stomach as they stand there in the dark. As he kisses her shoulder, she lifts one arm and brings her hand up to rest on the back of his neck.

"That was a mean trick," he says softly. He feels her laugh.

"Me? You played that song."

"You got naked and ran away," he tells her, tightening his hold. And no, he can't stop thinking about the fact that she is completely bare, not too shy to show all of herself to him anymore.

"You've got me now," she says in this voice he's never heard before.

He's hard against her back and she likes it. It's been a week since the wedding, since they woke up tangled together and she laughed and apologized and they ordered room service for breakfast and ate in bed, squeezing out every last possible second until checkout. She remembers the way he looked at her when she stood from the bed in her slip, and when she apologized again, told him she wished their night had gone differently, he'd been so sweet about it. ("Babe, it was perfect," he'd said, then cleared his throat, looked away and told her to 'pack her shit.')

So yes, she wants him, and she wants him right now, and in this lake, while it's kind of 'their' spot, is not the spot to do this.

His hand slips down her stomach and between her legs as he kisses her neck, but the stupid water is messing everything up. He can tell she's wet, but the water is washing it away, so he turns her in his arms and presses himself against her stomach.

"Yeah, I've got you," he says. She leans up and kisses him, tongue tracing the seam of his lips, and for once, it's him moaning first. It doesn't help that somehow, her hand has managed to wrap around him and holy shit he needs dry land. Stupid lake! "Rachel, I want..."

"What?" she asks, peppering kisses to his jaw as she teases him with her fingertips. "Tell me."

It's like their roles are reversed. She's playing the aggressor now, and he's so turned on by it that it's hard to speak.

"I wanna be inside you so bad," he says, groaning again when she removes her hand. Catch-22. He doesn't want to come yet, but damn, the girl gives a grade A hand job.

She kisses him hard, both arms coming up around his neck, and her legs locking around his waist. Despite the water that's completely destroying this moment (as if he's going to take her for the first time in a goddamn lake) he can still feel her, hot against him, and her heels are digging into the small of his back, chest pressing against his as she tries to get as close as possible.

It's not close enough for either of them.

"The truck," she breathes out, trying to detach from him. He's having none of it, holding onto her thighs. "Noah, please."

"Rachel." She shifts her hips, smiles when he curses. "Rachel, I can't...not in my truck. Not with you. It's too...this is..."

She giggles and runs her hand through his mohawk, leans in and kisses him quickly. "You're being such a girl right now."

"You're acting like me," he says, totally surprised. "It's freaking me out."

"You want me to play the blushing virgin?" she asks, and she arches her back a little, pushing her lower half closer to his.

"Oh, my god," he grounds out. She looks far too accomplished. "Rachel, stop that. You can't fucking...I'll come right now." She doesn't even blush. Who the fuck is this girl? "I can't fuck you in my truck. I can't."

She rests her hands on his shoulders and regards him seriously. That freaks him out too.

"Noah, I swear to god, this side of you...it's...it's beautiful, and don't scoff and roll your eyes at my use of the word. It's sweet, and I love that you want this to be perfect, but I am telling you right now that this, you and me at this spot, it is perfect, and I want you so badly." He's just staring into her eyes (they look black on account of the darkness and the fact that she's all turned on.) He fucking loves it when she takes charge of anything. He's realized that much. "So please, please will you get the condom you think I don't know you keep in your guitar case, and just..." His hand moves from her shoulder down her back, and her eyes flutter closed. "God, would you just make love to me?"

He's kissing her as he walks them towards the shore.

Because fuck yeah, he'll make love to her.

(Make love? He'll go with it. He's not about to correct her. Besides, 'fucking' doesn't sound right either. He thinks it's somewhere in the middle between the two, and he doesn't know of a word for that.)

It's basically pitch black now, no source of light other than a sliver of a moon, and she works on gathering their clothes as he reaches into his guitar case, then puts the instrument away while holding that essential in his hand. He tries really hard not to stare at her as she opens the door of his truck and and sets their clothes on the floorboards of the passenger seat. But he figures he's allowed to stare, given that she's his girl and she's telling him to have sex with her.

He sets his guitar in the bed of the truck, then walks up behind her and wraps the blanket around her shoulders to dry her off a bit. She leans back against him, and he needs her immediately. Like, yesterday or last month or last fall when he dated her. Right fucking now will have to do.

He gets in first, moves across to the drivers seat and turns the key, and there's a mix CD she made him playing from the speakers. She's shivering a little bit next to him, and he doesn't know if she's cold, or just anticipating what's going to happen next.

She can't believe she's about to make love to Noah in his truck with this mix of sweet little acoustic songs playing. If this is just a summer fling, she wouldn't have this night any other way.

(She's way too far gone for this to just be a fling.)

Moving closer to her, he kisses her, his hand sliding down her back, pushing the blanket from around her shoulders.

Then she's beneath him and he's inside her for the first time and it's better than anything has ever felt to him in his entire life.

Their blissful post-sex bubble lasts two days.

Which is pretty good, as far as blissful post-sex bubbles go.

The fight happens at practice, when Rachel stands in front of the three boys, hands on her hips, and insists that she's had enough of this background singing nonsense, that she wants a lead, and no, that one song at that one show does not count.

Finn is completely indifferent, says that whatever they tell him to play, he'll play. Artie says nothing, just tunes his bass, even though it was already tuned, and practically breathes a sigh of relief when his phone rings, wheels out of the garage to take the call.

No, those two aren't the problem.

"Rachel, from the start, you know you were backup. I don't understand what the fucking problem is all of a sudden," Puck says, throwing his hands in the air in frustration.

"I want to sing a song, Noah! My talent is squandered just singing thirds and fifths and you know it."

"I shoulda told you to check your ego at the door," he mumbles. She takes a step closer and even Finn winces, and he's 15 feet away.

She points at him sharply with her index finger. "My ego is not the one causing problems, Noah. Yours is. I want one song. One song! I haven't gotten to perform anything all summer. It's been your spotlight, and...yes, I agreed to that, but...I want things to change!"

He rolls his eyes. (Finn bows his head at that.) Rachel is not impressed. Artie comes back into the garage and his eyes flick over to Finn, as if to ask if it's really this tense.

"Whatever. School starts soon, and then you'll be lead again, and we'll all be fucking forced to listen to you sing every damn song anyway," he says. Both Finn and Artie look at him like he's lost his fucking mind.

That is not the right thing to say to Rachel. And maybe the point is valid, but the wording? Shit. Finn looks anywhere but at her, and Artie carefully covers his lap with his bass, as though he's the one she'll freak out at.

To their surprise, she doesn't really freak out at all.

Well, not as bad as they assumed.

She shoves the sheet music she's been holding into Noah's chest so hard that he stumbles back a bit, catching the papers before they fall to the floor. She balls her little fists at her sides, turns on a dime, and marches into the house, hair swishing around her like it does every fucking time she storms out of anywhere.

"Dude," Finn says, shaking his head as the door slams behind her.

"Whatever," Puck says. "Summer of '69. And don't fucking rush it this time, alright? Some of us got lines to sing, here."

Rachel is nowhere close to tears. Not even an option.

She's shaking with anger instead.

And she's forgotten that Noah's mother is home.

"Rachel?" Aviva says quietly, stepping into the kitchen, where Rachel is standing and taking a long drink from a bottle of water.

"Your son," Rachel says. She takes a deep breath and shakes her head at herself. "No offense, but he is the most hard-headed, stubborn, egoistical megalomaniac I've ever met. And I've met me!"

Aviva chuckles a little bit, sits down at the table and pulls out the chair next to her. "Come have a chat."

Rachel thinks that sounds like just about the best thing she could do. She takes a seat, then toys with the corner of the placemat in front of her.

"He makes it sound like it's torture to hear me sing," she says quietly.

"Oh, that can't possibly be true," Aviva says, dismissing the notion completely. "He told me you've got the most amazing voice he's ever heard."

Rachel blushes. She doesn't know why. She's been getting compliments on her talent and performances since she was a baby (no, really, she has) and this should not affect her. But Noah has never said those words to her. She shouldn't need him to.

"I don't even know why I care so much," Rachel admits. Now she's in the neighbourhood of tears. "It's just a silly band. Right?" She looks up at Aviva, who's wearing this sympathetic expression, as if to ask Rachel if she really believes those words. "I just thought...I don't know what I thought."

"Rachel, might this have something to do with the fact that school is starting soon?"

She's confused now. "I love school."

Aviva laughs again. "I'm sure you do, but this summer...I feel like this has been a big summer, for both you and Noah," she says. Rachel thinks the woman sounds like she knows far too much, knows things Rachel herself doesn't know. "I wouldn't want you to throw away your last days of summer because you're angry over a song."

And that's probably the moment Rachel realizes she's not angry over a song. It's not about the song at all.

She stands abruptly and smoothes out her summer dress. "Thank you for the talk, Aviva. I really appreciate it. I think I'll just head home now."

"The boys are still practicing."

"I know," Rachel says. She can hear Noah singing, the pulse of the bass seeping into the house. "I'm not really feeling up to it."

She's out the door before Aviva can say anything else.

And because Rachel is never one to back down from anything, she walks through the garage and right out the door without looking at Noah at all, backs out of the driveway while the boys play Little Miss Can't Be Wrong.

Puck pulls off his sweaty shirt and throws it into his hamper as hard as he can, but it doesn't make him feel any better. Lesson of the day? Rachel can be a cold bitch when she's mad.

And look, it's not even that he really cares all that much if she sings one song. Whatever. The song was kind of lame and not like anything in the rest of their repertoire, but he doesn't really care that much.

He just cares that she feels like she's fucking entitled to sing lead, especially since the deal from the beginning was that she wouldn't.

He grabs his cell phone and types out a text, then grabs a clean shirt and heads for his truck with his angriest CD in his hand, because that mix Rachel made just is not going to work for him right now.

He's already sitting on the swings at the local park when she walks up with two milkshakes in her hand. Finally, a woman who can take a damn order.

(That makes it sound like he gives a lot of them. He really doesn't. He just really fucking wants this chocolate shake.)

"What's going on?" Quinn asks, her white skirt flowing around her as she sits on the swing next to him, slips her feet out of her flip flops, and starts pushing herself back and forth a little. "You're not hanging out with Rachel?" she asks, and he can fucking hear her smirking, and he doesn't appreciate it.

"I'm not with her all the time," he grumbles, twisting the swing's chain around his free hand.

"You pretty much have been." She's teasing him. He doesn't appreciate it.

"Don't fucking start with me, Q."

When he looks over at her, she can tell something's wrong. She's only ever seen him like this once, and that was last summer when Santana threatened to cut him off and he was so mad he'd thrown a pitch so hard during his ball game that he knocked the breath out of his catcher when it hit his chest.

(What kind of fucking catcher isn't set to catch a pitch when he knows it's coming?)

"What'd you do?" she asks.

"Why do you just assume that I'm the one who fucked things up?" he asks, a little too loudly. "She's the one who threw the fucking fit in the first place. I swear to god, that chick has a diva attitude the size of...of...you, four months ago. Probably bigger, if that's even fucking possible." Quinn, he can tell, is trying really hard not to punch him or get up and leave. Or laugh, maybe. "And you know what the fucking worst thing is? I didn't even do anything wrong! I told her from the beginning that it's my fucking band, and I'm lead. She agreed to play with us on those terms. What's the big fucking deal?"

Quinn furrows her brow, laughs humourlessly as the pieces fall into place. "You have met Rachel Berry, haven't you?" He looks confused. "That's the big deal! I have a pretty good feeling that she didn't just join that band for the love of music, like she's been trying to tell everyone all summer long. You ever think she just wanted to be around you?"

"That's not what's..."

"Think about it," she tells him. "She agreed to sing backup so that she could spend time with you, and this is how you repay her? Not to mention, you're seeing each other now, so everything's different by default."

"I don't want it to be different," he says.

"Do you want to break up with her?"

"What?!" he asks quickly. "No!"

She laughs softly and sips her shake. "You see, there's this thing people do in relationships sometimes. It's called a compromise."

"So I gotta let her sing just so I can keep getting laid? That's fucking bullshit!"

She blinks at him.

He realizes she was not aware that he was getting laid. (And so it's only happened once, but c'mon, he fully intended on that being a regular thing.)

"Well, that's...certainly one way of putting it," she says quietly, a smirk on her lips.

"Look, don't fucking tell Rachel I told you. She probably already wants to castrate me. I don't need to give her any more reason."

"So you admit you did something wrong."

"Hell no." He's stoic, smug, and she doesn't believe him for a second.

"Uh huh."

He rolls his eyes and tips his head back, then looks over at her as she swings back and forth.

"You know, this conversation woulda been more fun if you still hated her."

She laughs and doesn't say anything about the time when he hated Rachel, too. They both know she's thinking it.

They sit there for a while, and he realizes he's going to have to do something big to apologize to Rachel.

But he kinda thinks she should apologize to him, too.

He's up until 3:00 am playing guitar. He's not gonna go all Say Anything (he's not a pansy.)

(Thing is, he's pretty sure that a simple apology would work with Rachel. She's not going to make him jump through hoops to get back on level ground. She's cool that way.)

But still...this better fucking work.

You see, Quinn had casually mentioned to him the night before that Rachel was going to be spending the day with the girls at Brittany's house.

It's a Monday, and he's supposed to be working all day long, but a phone call and a little white lie ("Sorry, Mr. Scott, I'm pretty sick today. Can't come by.") and here he is, walking around the side of Brittany's house with nothing but his board shorts on. He hears Rachel's laugh before he sees her, and it makes him smile, but fuck, they're still fighting, so he wipes that off his face and takes a deep breath before walking up the steps onto the deck.

Santana sees him first. "Hey, loser."

Rachel turns her head to look at him. She's laying on a lounge chair, wearing a pair of aviators that she stole from him that, admittedly, look amazing on her, and she has that black bikini from the beginning of the summer on.

"Noah," she says. She sees the guitar in his hand and looks at him like he's nuts. "What are you doing?"

He sits down on the chair next to her, nudging her over a little as she sits up. "Make some room, Berry. Christ."

She sits up a little more, bends her knees. "What are you doing?" she repeats.

There are four girls looking at him when he strums the first chord. Three of those girls have no idea what song he's playing.

One looks like she's about to either cry, or break her face from smiling. (You know, if that last thing is even possible.)

"I was thinkin'," he says as he picks through the intro. He pulls a tattered stack of sheet music from his back pocket and lays the pages out so they can both see. "If we sped up the tempo a notch and had Finn come in here - " He points to a spot he's marked. " - This might not be so bad."

Rachel pulls him towards her by the back of the neck and kisses him in front of everyone. He flips Santana off when he hears her mumble something obscene. Rachel doesn't see that, on account of her eyes being closed.

"Thank you," Rachel breathes out. "But you don't have to do this. It's your band, and I..."

"Fuck that. You're awesome, and I'm gonna show you off at our show this weekend."

She kisses him again. This time, his hand slips into her hair and there's tongue, and like all their kisses, it's pretty awesome.

Until Santana throws a handful of ice cubes at them. "Either play something, or go somewhere else to make out," she says. Totally not joking.

Puck starts playing guitar.

Rachel shakes her head, leans over and speaks into his ear. "Let's get out of here."

He and Quinn share a quick smile as Rachel drags him out of the yard, her clothes in her free hand.

They get back to his place and his mom's still at work, and Rachel's still in just her bikini.

But not for long.

They work on the song after, and when Finn and Artie show up, Rachel's in her denim shorts and one of Noah's tee shirts, sleeves rolled up and the bottom tied in a knot at the back, showing her stomach.

When she runs inside to get them all some water halfway through their practice, Artie casually asks what's happened to Rachel this summer.

Puck's answer is very smug and, as far as he's concerned, the truth.

"I did."

Rachel absolutely brings the house down at their last show of the summer. She sings two songs (Stay by Lisa Loeb, and Fast Car by Tracy Chapman) and everyone in the damn room (all their friends are there, so that helps) goes nuts for her.

When she sings the last verse of Stay, she catches his eye and gives him this private little smile, and he realizes for the first time that this has been the best summer he's ever had. Mostly because of this girl who's standing there, eyes closed, holding a microphone, singing a song that he's pretty sure she picked because it reminds her of him.

Their parents have abolished their curfews for the night (Puck doesn't really have one, and Rachel's dads understand that this is the last big night of her summer.) After the show, after Puck threatens to kick the ass of a drunk college guy who's blatantly hitting on Rachel, they find themselves at the lake.

Of course they do.

It's a cooler night than most, probably the coolest one all summer, and Rachel's dark denim shorts and black halter aren't exactly warm. They're sitting in the cab of his truck listening to music, and he's got his back to the drivers side door, one leg up on the seat and her leaning back against his chest as he toys with the gold leaf attached to her long necklace.

He's no sucker, but this feels really fucking good, just the two of them and Dave Matthews, which has become the soundtrack to their summer.

He's just about to start singing along to Crash when she tells him she loves this song, and so he nixes that idea, because he just doesn't do that shit.

(But maybe he'll learn to play it on guitar, and randomly bust it out some day when she's trying not to make out with him or something. Genius plan.)


"Hmm?" He kisses her temple, and no, he won't admit to anyone else that he's this sweet when they're alone together. He knows she won't either. She's always telling him she likes that it's their secret.

That's what you call a fucking gold ticket, right there.

"What happens when school starts?" Her voice is a little too quiet for his liking.

"No more sleeping in, no more three hour band practices, no more skinny dipping at the lake..."

"I'm serious," she says, laughing softly. "I mean with you and me."

"What the fuck do you think happens, Rachel?" He's a little pissed that she's even entertaining the idea that things won't stay the same as they are, just in a different season.

"I don't know. You're always saying you hate relationships." She pulls away and sits on her knees on the seat, facing him.

"Well, I've never really had one other than this. I usually just say that to get you to stop like, trying to sign me up for couples' pottery classes."

She laughs and shoves at his chest. "When have I ever..."

"Matter of time, babe." He's smirking and she rolls her eyes, still smiling. "Look, I'm gonna suck at this. You're probably gonna be pissed at me a lot of the time, but that doesn't mean I'm not gonna try. Or whatever."

She leans in to kiss him. "You're better at this than you think," she says sweetly. "And as long as you're trying, I'm...I'm in."

He grins and pulls her closer. "Yeah?"

"Yes. I think we're good together, Noah."

He's playing with (untying) the string holding her top together at the back of her neck when he kisses her. "We are," he says.

And so that little shred of uncertainty Rachel was feeling completely disappears when he kisses her.

This is very much not a summer fling.

The first day of school, Rachel realizes they're in the same English class.

As far as Puck is concerned, she is way too fucking excited about this.

They grab seats next to one another, and he laughs at the way she sits ramrod straight with her pen in her hand and the date written neatly at the top right hand corner of the first page of her new notebook.

He's reminded of all the reasons he used to call her a loser. But it's cute, how she's got this 'first day of school' outfit on. (Surprisingly, it's a pair of jeans, sensible flats, and a light pink button down shirt. Seriously. Jeans. "I'm a changed woman, Noah," she said when he commented. Then she gave him this flirty look over her shoulder that made him stop staring at her ass. That's one powerful look, for the record.)

(But yeah, he made her promise that the skirts would still be a staple of her wardrobe.)

"What is man's purpose in life?" the teacher asks. "What is our main job, or the thing we work hardest to attain?"

Rachel's hand shoots straight up in the air.

"To procreate," Puck says at the exact moment Rachel says, "Happiness."

She sends him a dirty look, but whatever. "Those two are pretty much the same thing, right?" he asks. Everyone laughs, but he's not entirely joking.

"Well, Noah, you aren't entirely wrong, I suppose," the teacher concedes. Rachel looks disgusted. He laughs and rubs her shoulder. "And what would you say is the best feeling in the world?"


"Love." They speak at the same time, and again, Rachel's glaring at him. "Noah, that is highly inappropriate, and most certainly not what Ms. Anders is getting at."

"'S'a matter of opinion, though," he states, and his brow is furrowed like he thinks he might be onto something. He looks to the front of the class to see the teacher watching he and Rachel. "Right?"

She chuckles a little bit. The rest of the class seems to be actually paying attention to the lesson.

"Yes, Noah, you are correct," Ms. Anders says.

She turns toward the board and starts in on the real lesson, how all these questions relate to the Shakespeare book. ("Play," Rachel will later correct him, as if that's gonna help Puck understand this shit any better. What the fuck is iambic pentameter anyway? The only reason he even knows what it's called is because he makes Rachel say it 10 times fast, and she does.)

Rachel is legitimately pouting. He doesn't know if it's because he's somehow embarrassed her (how many people shout out the word 'orgasm' on the first day of school with their girlfriends sitting next to them?) or if she's just pissed that she was wrong.

And because of their last night at the lake (not that cold one, a really hot one when they actually both wore bathing suits and swam properly and Rachel ended up screaming and running to the shore when she swore an eel touched her ankle) and the words they said, he knows he can make her smile.

(It's not easy to forget the way she said it, clear as anything he'd ever heard. "I love you." And it was really weird, how he wasn't scared to say it back to her. Kinda. "Yeah. Me too." And he wasn't even bullshitting. Lord help him, he loves this girl. He can't even blame the summer heat anymore.)

He reaches over and, with his black pen that she'll probably really hate anywhere near her notebook, since it's not a part of her 'colour wheel' or whatever, he writes something in the margin of her page.

(This is either going to pay off huge, or really make her mad. It's always a gamble with her.)

Orgasm + Love = best ever.

She gasps softly, then looks at him with wide eyes, and he just winks back at her. She shakes her head, reaches for a pink pen, and surprises the hell out of him.

She draws a heart around what he's written.

When the teacher turns her back on the class again, Puck leans over and kisses his girl just below her ear, murmurs something about her being sexy as hell right now, and Rachel just smiles and shrugs him off.

She takes her pink pen and writes in his notebook; My place. 4:00?

His hand is on her thigh under the table for the rest of class.

Best first day of school ever.