Puck really doesn't want to be here, he thinks. It isn't that he's so desperate for women that he'd need this in the first place. He's pretty sure the redhead who'd just given him her number could attest to the fact that he was still a bona fide stud. But as much as it pained him to admit it, Quinn had been right.
'Look Puckerman. You're practically thirty. Your mother is expecting grandchildren. So quit being such a slut and let me fix you up with someone who actually has a brain,' the now Mrs Quinn Hudson had sat him down last week, hands on her hips.
'I'm not "practically thirty" and the fuck have you been talking to my mother for?' Puck demands because seriously? He doesn't need Quinn and his mother teaming up and doing the whole Thelma and Louise shit. His heart can't take it.
'You're almost twenty-four Puck. Finn, tell him you agree with me,' Quinn tells her husband and his best friend (though now Puck wonders where his true allegiance lies) nods all sage like.
'Dude, you made my wife a teenage mother. The least you can do is this one little thing. Besides, she might not be ugly.'
How fucked up is it that the three of them can now joke about shit like that? After Quinn had had to give the baby up to some upper middle-class Martha Stewart clan from Columbus, Finn and him had looked at each other with tears in their eyes. Puck thinks that is when the road to recovery really begins. Because the three of them actually gets why nothing will ever be the same, and they figure it's one for all and all for one right?
Puck stands outside the small restaurant Quinn had told him to go to. The nightlife in New York filters in the background and Puck shoves his hands into his pockets, tugging at the tie that Quinn had made him wear. She'd made Finn drive all the way from their brownstone on the outskirts of the city and up to his apartment in SoHo. Being a songwriter in high demand had its benefits. The spacious two-bedroom he'd picked up for a sweet deal was home and Puck thanked the good Lord he'd listened to his mother and hit the books. She was right. Having a college degree from Ohio State helped in the real world.
(But like hell was he ever going to let her know that)
His phone buzzed and Puck rolled his eyes.
'Q, leave me alone,' he bites out the minute he hits send.
'Are you there yet? Because I texted her and she told me you aren't,' she scolds. This was the girl he'd almost considered marrying. Puck shuddered.
'Jeez woman I'm just outside. Now stop harassing me. Go fuck your husband like he wants you too.'
Quinn calls him a jackass and hangs up. Puck saunters up to the guy behind some pedestal thing and tells him he's here under Fabray.
(Under Fabray. Huh)
The man nods and tells him his date is already here and Puck decides he won't bother to correct him, just says okay and shuffles towards the table he was pointed towards. It's located somewhere in the back and Puck can only see the back of her head. It's nice, he decides. She's wearing this silky blouse and her hair falls to just at her chin. The neck cleavage he's getting is above average.
Shit, what was he supposed to say? You're hot, want to have my kids?
Puck straightens his posture and tugs at the tie, which is beginning to feel like a noose. For all he knew this broad could be fugly because Quinn had said she'd picked someone with a nice personality. Puck was more of a love em and leave em kind of guy, and truth be told he was too busy with his work to care that they didn't offer much outside the bedroom. His mother called it a poor excuse, his sister called him an imbecile and Finn just shakes his head like his eldest child has disappointed him.
Her fingers are playing with the ends of a napkin and Puck sees that they are nice and long enough to have at it at a piano. Puck sucks in a breath and decides to just suck it up. He quickly slips his phone out and puts it on vibrate, with an alarm set to go off in an hour. Perfect escape clause.
'Hey,' he says and the woman goes still. Her head is bowed down and Puck doesn't know whether she should shake her hand or something. What did you do on a blind date?
But then she lifts her head and Puck doesn't know whether to laugh or groan.
Because fuck if Rachel Berry isn't sitting there, staring up at him with her mouth open.
'Rachel Berry,' he says her name all incredulous because seriously, what were the chances? And how the hell did Quinn know her? And how had they kept their secret handshake friendship discrete? And how had Finn managed not to blurt it out?
(Puck decided that Finn was actually dumb enough not to know. He loved the guy like a brother but sometimes there was no denying fact)
'Noah Puckerman,' she mimics him and Puck takes a moment as he's sliding into his seat to take her in. He hasn't seen Rachel since she'd left Lima six years ago, when she'd announced to the rest of the Gleeks that of course she would remember the little people when she was this big Broadway star. The rest of them had scattered and Puck honestly didn't even consider the fact that Berry was this close to him, to the three of them actually when he took in Finn and Quinn. But then, he hadn't really realized Broadway was kind of a major thing around here until he'd moved here.
'So you're friends with Quinn huh?' He asks her, leaning back in his chair. She sways her head and her hair, cut into choppy layers, follows the movement. It frames her face nicely and draws attention to her big doe eyes. The red lipstick she has on does incredible things to her already full lips. She looks older, like she'd seen and done things since graduation. Puck considers that he probably looks different too, what with his mohawk gone and him in this Barney Stinson-esque suit.
'We made an effort to keep in touch yes,' Rachel answers.
'They send me joint e-mails. It's cheesy but then again, I'd expect nothing less from the both of them,' she tells him with a smile and he wonders when she'd gotten over Finn. Maybe after she found out that Finn had decided to stay by Quinn despite the fact the baby was his.
'Really? They never said anything,' he mumbles as he combs through his head to see if Finn or Quinn had said something about Berry.
'Well we were merely acquaintances during high school Noah. I did enquire about your welfare of course, since I knew you had moved here with the both of them.'
'Did you move here after graduation?'
She nods her head, slanting it sideways. 'Julliard was calling. Kurt and Mercedes are here as well. As are Mike and Matt.'
'Yeah, I know about Chang and Rutherford,' Puck says, recalling the Street Fighter marathon the three of them and Finn had had last weekend. 'You been to their dance studio?' He questions, remembering how close Rachel had been with the two jocks.
'I was there recently. I must say its impressive the way they've managed to incorporate so many dance styles under one-'
'How come I've never seen you around?' He presses her because fucking hell, was there some kind of conspiracy going on keeping him from Rachel? Sure she said they were acquaintances or whatever, but it seemed like she'd bothered to keep in touch with everyone but him.
Puck thinks he's offended.
'Oh,' she says really softly and shifts her eyes away from him. 'Well, I was out of town a lot. Doing shows.'
It sounds lame but Puck doesn't push her because she's gnawing on her bottom lip and playing with the thin silver chain around her neck. He recognizes when someone doesn't want to talk about something. Heck, Puck was pretty sure he'd perfected that technique.
'So how's life Noah?' She means it, he can tell, because she leans forward as her hand falls away from the chain. He wonders what's hiding underneath her top (mind out of gutter) and why that necklace means so much to her.
'Well I'm a song writer,' he admits and usually this is the part where the girl swoons and Puck smirks. Chicks dig that he's into his sensitive feminine side or whatever.
'Good. Your talent was always vastly underrated. I'm glad that you've put that potential to good use,' she replies and Puck stares at her because she'd said it without any hesitation. As if she didn't think Puck was going to end up in Lima. He probably looks like a fool gaping but Rachel continues speaking, either pretending not to notice or simply not noticing at all.
'Do you enjoy it?' She appears genuinely curious and Puck feels himself relax.
Because it turns out he kinda wants to be here.