A/N: Another one that was meant to be a oneshot. I get carried away. It's five chapters long. It's AU, so there's not much you need to know; it'll all be explained.
Enjoy? Let me know!
You'd think that a guy with a body like a god, a face women love, and a personality like sandpaper (someone told him that once, that at first, it's all abrasive, then once it rubs against you enough, it's all smooth and nice; he'll take it) would have a pretty sweet lot in life.
Okay, so it's not like he's got a lot to complain about. He's got a full ride to OSU for music, which is something he's just always been naturally good at. He's got his own place off campus, because when his deadbeat dad's way more awesome sister died, she left all her money and property to her only living relatives - Puck and his little sister - which gave him enough cash to live on his own. He's got a sweet part time job at the record store on campus (he gets paid to listen to new music and alphabetize). He can have any girl he wants, basically.
His life hasn't really been easy, though. Aforementioned deadbeat dad split when Puck was 9, which wasn't an easy thing. Try having your mom cry herself to sleep every night for a year and be too young and too naive to do anything about it. High school was a breeze, until his senior year when he realized he was way fucking behind in, oh, all his classes (what? he'd been slacking forever because high school is total bullshit). He'd had to literally work his ass off to even graduate, let alone get a scholarship, which was the only way he'd be able to go to college. (Awesome aunt hadn't kicked it yet at that point.)
And he'd joined the school's band of loser misfits just so he could have an extracurricular related to the field he wanted to study.
The fucking glee club.
And here's the thing; it wasn't terrible. Actually, when it wasn't busy sucking ass, it was pretty awesome. They were twelve loser kids (really, they were all losers, even himself some days) from all different 'walks of life,' as Mr. Schue used to say, who came together three days a week and sang. Puck's best friend was male lead, and Finn's girlfriend was female lead.
Likely story, huh?
When he graduated, he couldn't fucking wait to get out of Lima. The way he saw it, the people who stayed in Lima after high school were losers, destined for nothingness. He didn't roll that way. He was better than that place and always had been.
Finn and Quinn went off to North Carolina (NCSU, and Finn thought it was awesome that it was 'kinda like NCIS!') where Finn was recruited to play football and Quinn got an academic scholarship. The rest of their little club were off to god knows where. Puck didn't necessarily care about the people who weren't his friends before he joined that shit. Matt and Mike both went to school in California, and Brittany and Santana were off to New York for...whatever.
Now he's a junior, and he's 21, and his mom is absolutely riding his ass about finding a wife.
What. The. Fuck.
He's 21! He's supposed to be sleeping around. (And whatever. He sleeps around less now than he did in high school, but that's not the point.) The point is, he's too young for a goddamn ball and chain, and she doesn't seem to appreciate it when he tells her so.
He doesn't understand why she doesn't get that he doesn't want to settle down.
When she calls him one night, berating him about how he never comes home to visit anymore, he tells her he'll take a weekend in a couple weeks' time and drive out to Lima.
When she starts busting his balls about Jewish women and 'aren't there any nice young Jews at that school of yours?' he gets so fucking annoyed that he tells her that yeah, he's seeing a girl. A Jew.
She drops the phone.
He ends the call and thinks he might have to kick his own ass.
What the fuck has he just done?
As Rachel gathers her things, notebooks and texts for the day, she wonders how in the world she's living like this.
You see, most mornings, she's got to tiptoe out of the apartment or at least plug her ears so she doesn't hear whatever completely depraved acts are going on behind her roommate's door. As it turns out, the roommate you have in freshman year when you share one big room with two beds will completely change once she gets her own room. Or at least that's what happened in Rachel's case.
She still likes Brooke. She really does. The girl is sweet, smart, wouldn't hurt a fly. But she's, let's say, more extroverted than Rachel is. With men. Every weekend. Rachel doesn't think Brooke has gone more than two weeks without a boyfriend. And she'd be more worried about that and would definitely say more if that wasn't the case; at least the men Brooke has all this ridiculous sex with are her boyfriends (for the most part). She just happens to trade them in every month or so.
Rachel is not jealous. Let's establish that fact immediately.
Just because she doesn't have a boyfriend right now, doesn't mean she's never had one. She has. She's had three. And yes, for someone at age 20, that might make it seem like she's well behind the curve. But she's not.
You see, she dated the male lead from her glee club for two years during high school before they amicably split at the beginning of senior year. Then after that, she dated their rival glee club's male lead until March break of last year, when they realized that the distance was tearing them apart. L.A. is just too far away, and even with the periodic visits to one another, their relationship had just stopped working.
Oh, and before all this, she dated a boy her freshman year of high school for about a month and a half, but that was basically just making out and very little else.
So yes, she's had boyfriends.
But her life cannot be defined by the people she's dated, and for that she is happy. What kind of person measures their life in relationships? That's not what it's all about.
She's destined to be something. She's been told that her entire life. She's got more talent than most people could ever dream of, and she has every intention of doing as much with it as possible.
She declined admittance to NYU to take a full ride music scholarship at OSU. She always thought that, if given the choice, she'd take New York over anything. But OSU is closer to the small town she grew up in, closer to her family, and that was a big selling point. She can conquer New York after she's graduated. She'll be older and wiser and more qualified. It just makes sense.
As she settles into her pop culture elective for the day, she reminds herself that she's just got to finish this year, then two more, and she'll be in New York City, pursuing her dreams, making things happen.
That's all she's ever wanted, to make things happen for herself.
So here's the problem:
Puck cannot tell which girls are Jews and which aren't.
He wishes he'd inherited his mom's Jew-dar. Seriously. The woman can walk into a room of 3,000 people and somehow pick out all the single Jewish women. He knows this because any time they go anywhere, she points these women out to him. With commentary. ("Oh, it's too bad about her mustache." "I think she's a Goldman. You know, that family is no good." "Do you think your children would inherit her eyes or yours?" "Oh! She looks like a doctor. Doesn't she look like a doctor? I'm going to go ask. Hold my purse.")
So yeah, he'd love to have that trait right now.
He's sitting there in his pop culture class, looking around at the selection. (Read: women.) There's this smokin' hot blonde who, every day for the past two months, has been totally eye fucking him, but a, she's definitely not a Jew, and b, he has it on good authority that she fucked the entire tennis team within the span of a couple days. That's a dealbreaker.
There's this redhead who isn't entirely unfortunate looking. She sits in front of him, and she always smells really good, but he can always, always, always see her g-string poking out the back of her jeans. Now, this is nice for when he's tired of paying attention in class, because it gives him something to look at, but this isn't exactly the kind of girl you take home to mom. And who wears g-strings anymore? He hasn't encountered one of those since he was a senior in high school.
There's a brunette with a short haircut sitting a couple rows up from him, but he sees the cross tattoo at the back of her neck. (Which is equal parts hot and kinda creepy.)
He briefly glances at the class' young teacher, with her tight skirt, hair pulled back, pretty eyes. Her last name is Greenberg, so he's pretty sure she's a Jew. Then the light bouncing off her engagement ring blinds him, and he figures that's a no go.
Then, it's like the parting of the red sea when class lets out and this girl walks towards him (well, towards the door, but whatever...that's where he sits so he can make an easy getaway).
She's little. Like, tiny. Like, if he saw her from behind, he'd think she was 16. (You know, after checking out her ass, which he admits he's done before.) She's got this long, shiny brown hair, these huge chocolate brown eyes, smooth skin, tight little body, pouty lips. She's fucking gorgeous.
And there's a Star of David pendant hanging from the gold chain around her neck.
He smiles at her, but she completely ignores him, walks past him and heads for the door.
Well, that didn't garner the desired affect.
"Hey!" She doesn't turn around, so he reaches for her elbow before she can leave the class, pulls her into one of the aisles so they're not blocking the exit. "Hey."
"Yes?" she asks, gently tugging her arm from his hold.
"You're a Jew, right?"
"I beg your pardon?" she asks in surprise.
"A Jew. Jewish." Fuck. He didn't think the question was that complicated.
Her hand goes to her neck and she toys with the little Star of David on her necklace. "Yes. Why?"
"Look, I uh...I got a proposition for you," he says, giving her his most convincing smile.
She actually laughs and looks at him in complete disbelief. "No thank you," she says. "And it's 'I have' not 'I got.'"
He rolls his eyes. Fuck. He picked the wrong girl. He panicked and picked too soon. But then he glances at her lips and thinks briefly about what she might be able to do with them, and no, that's not the point of all this, but he's a dude, okay? This is the shit he deems important.
"You're not even going to hear me out?" he asks, leaning back against the desk behind him, crossing his arms. (What? It shows off the guns. Can't hurt.)
"No," she says, straightening her posture. "I'm sure I have absolutely no interest in anything you could possibly propose."
"C'mon, baby, you don't know that," he says with a sly smile. Yeah, he's going to have to seduce her into this.
"Don't call me baby, and I do know that."
"You had sex with my roommate in the bathroom of a bar and never called her again."
She speaks so evenly that it makes him wince. Okay, so that was kinda douchey. And he doesn't even know what girl she's talking about. Yeah, that could pose a problem.
"Right. Well, look, I just need a favour from a Jewish girl." She sputters and he laughs, watching her mouth open and close a couple times. "Not that kind of favour, but good to know where your head is, babe."
"Stop calling me that. My name is Rachel, if you must know," she says hotly, turning away from him again.
"Wait!" he says quickly, catching up to her outside the classroom door. Damn. For such a little chick, she sure moves fast.
"What?" she barks. "I have work to do."
"Listen, will you at least hear me out? Please?" He watches her, and he can tell she's mulling it over. She looks away from him and sighs, then when she meets his eyes again, she nods once and puts her hand on her hip, as if to remind him that she's not doing this because she wants to. "Okay, so you know about guilt trips. You've got a crazy Jewish mom, right?"
"No, I don't."
"No, I mean I don't have a mother."
"Oh," he says quietly. "Sorry."
"It's fine," she mumbles.
"Well, she thinks I'm at the age where I need to be in a serious relationship. And she's like, nuts about me only dating Jews," he explains. He watches her brow furrow in confusion.
"So what is this favour?" she asks, shaking her head.
"I need..." He stops, takes a breath and lets it out slowly. "I need you to...to pretend."
She narrows her eyes and laughs humourlessly. "Pretend what, exactly?"
He knows she knows.
"To be my girlfriend."
"No," she says firmly, shaking her head. She turns and starts walking away.
"No!" she shouts over her shoulder. He's struggling to keep up with her, and he looks down at her legs. He wonders, for a moment, if he should have picked someone with better fashion sense. Knee socks? Really?
"Rachel," he says softly, grabbing her hand. He's going to have to lay it on thick, without letting her know. "Look, I know this is insane, alright? I know how fucking nuts this is."
"I don't think you do," she says. She tries to take her hand from his, but he weaves their fingers together and she finds herself looking down at her tiny hand engulfed in his.
"It's one weekend. We'll drive home, she can fawn over you and tell you how gorgeous you are and how happy she is that I'm dating a nice Jewish girl, then we'll leave. I'll get points for dating someone like you, and you'll get a free break from school," he explains softly, his thumb idly running over hers. "After, however much time later, I'll tell her we broke up."
"This is...I don't...I'm not a liar. I don't do that. And I don't even know your name," she says, shaking her head. "And I'm sure your mother would just be happy if you dated anyone, rather than sleeping around."
"Hey," he says, offended. "That's not fair. You don't know me."
"No, I don't. Exactly. And you don't know me."
"Alright," he says, smiling at her. "Name's Noah Puckerman, from Lima. Lettered in football all four years, and I woulda gotten a scholarship, but I busted my knee up senior year. I'm a Junior here, but I'm taking this class because I'm short an elective. I've got a music scholarship because I'm fucking awesome. My dad split when I was eight, and I have a younger sister and a crazy, but awesome single mom who wants me to get married within the next two years and have a bunch of kids." She clenches her jaw in an effort to hide a smile. He sees it anyway. "So yeah. That's me, the abridged version, and yes, I know what abridged means. I'm fucking full of surprises. You'll learn that."
"I'm not doing this," she reminds him.
"I'll pay you. Just say yes."
"You most certainly will not pay me! I'm not some kind of common whore!" she says, glaring at him.
But her hand is still in his. She hasn't tried to pull it away again.
"Look, Rachel, I know this is fuckin'...extreme. And I can't blame you for thinking I'm nuts. But I'll pay for everything. And Lima is really nice in the fall. And we'll meet up before we leave so we can get some kind of story. You know, how we met and how long we've been together and whatever." He takes a breath. "Just...just say yes."
She takes her bottom lip between her teeth and looks up at him through her eyelashes as she thinks it over. She's insane, she knows, and she should just say no and walk away and hopefully never talk to him again. But she thinks that if she had a crazy Jewish mother, she might be driven to do the same thing.
And what harm could it do? If she meets with him a couple times and deems him safe and...well, less crazy than he seems right now, then maybe a weekend away wouldn't be the worst idea. She could use a break from school, from her roommate.
"You think I'm gorgeous?" she asks, smiling softly as she locks eyes with him.
"Fuck. I mean...Look, you're hot, okay? You really think I'd have an ugly fake girlfriend?" he asks, and he smiles when she laughs.
She takes a deep breath and he squeezes her hand. "Fine. I'll do it."
When he calls her to meet up and talk, work out a story or whatever, she tells him she's at work but it's a slow night, so he can come in and they'll talk. He doesn't expect her to work at this little coffee shop off campus. He doesn't know what he expected, maybe a library or something (maybe that was just the knee socks tipping him off.)
It's been a few days since she agreed to help him out, and he'd honestly been waiting for her to call him and tell him she's changed her mind. He really couldn't blame her if she did. If some chick walked up to him and asked him to do this shit for her, he'd laugh in her face, no matter how hot she might be.
She's smiling when he walks into the place, and she's talking with an Asian girl at the counter. Her cheeks are pink and her hair is in a neat ponytail. She looks good when she laughs. She sees him, and gestures for the stool a few away from the girl she's talking to. Reaching for a cup, she sets it in front of him and fills it with coffee as Asian Girl keeps talking.
Rachel walks back over to the girl he thinks might be her friend or something. She completely ignores him, basically.
"So yeah, I think I'm going to have to break up with him."
"Really?" Rachel laughs. "You mean you don't like it when guys dance around in their underwear, pretending to be Tom Cruise?"
This makes both girls laugh hysterically, and since Puck is literally the only other person in the place, he feels really fucking uncomfortable, for some reason.
Asian Girl turns to him. "Would you ever do that?"
He nearly chokes on his coffee, and he notices how Rachel's face pales.
"Would you ever reenact that scene from Risky Business?" Asian Girl asks.
He scoffs, then smiles. "Hell no."
"See!" she laughs. "Normal guys don't do that stuff!"
Rachel rolls her eyes and takes the empty mug from in front of Asian Girl, places it in a plastic bin behind the counter. "How do you know he's normal?" Rachel asks.
Well, shit. He shouldn't find that hot. But she gives him this sly little look and she's almost smiling at him, and yeah, it's hot.
"Well, hopefully he is, because I have to go and you're stuck alone with him. I have so much chem-lab stuff to do," Asian Girl announces, standing from her place and slinging her bag over her arm.
"Call me tomorrow," Rachel insists. "Bye, Tina."
The bell over the door chimes and Tina leaves the coffee shop as Rachel leans over and wipes down the counter. Puck watches her. She's wearing this low-cut shirt, so her rack looks pretty awesome when she moves. He can see that she's wearing jeans and that they hug her ass. She looks totally different than she did the other day, but equally as hot.
"Hi," she says when she's standing in front of him.
"I hope you didn't have too much trouble finding the place."
"No, I got a sense of direction like a fucking compass," he says. She rolls her eyes, and he laughs. He can tell she's nervous. "I live on Oakcrest, so I drive past this place every day on my way to class."
"Oh," she says quietly. She reaches for a mug and a tea bag, then pours in hot water.
"You don't have to be shy, Rachel. We are dating, after all," he tells her. She glares at him.
"Not yet, we aren't. And I am a little unnerved, yes, given the reason you're even here. I've spent the last two days wondering what on earth I've gotten myself into. I'm not the kind of girl who misleads people like this, I'll have you know. I don't want you to think I'm some kind of liar, though it appears you wouldn't have a problem if I was. I've always lived honestly, and I despise those who don't. Lying is completely reprehensible, and I..."
He holds up his hand between them and she shuts up. "Are they paying you by the word? Jesus."
"I'm rather long winded. You'll need to get used to it." She crosses her arms and stares at him, like if he doesn't agree to try, she'll back out.
And that's the moment he realizes that he's completely at her mercy.
He's got one week, just barely, to make it seem like they're actually in a relationship, and at any moment, she could tell him she's not doing it, and there's nothing he can do to change that.
Except there totally is.
He grabs a napkin, then leans forward over the bar, and pulls a pen from her cute little apron.
"What are you doing?" she asks.
"I beg your pardon?"
"I'm writing up a contract. This way you can't just leave me high and dry," he explains as he starts to write.
"Well, what about me?" she asks, hand on hip.
"What about you?"
"I have criteria as well," she says, leaning over to read what he's writing.
He quickly covers his napkin with his hand. "Write your own!" he says with a smirk. She almost, almost laughs.
She grabs the notepad from her apron and starts writing something in purple pen. After a few minutes, he's done and shoving his napkin towards her, and she's reading over her piece of paper before handing it to him.
She starts laughing immediately, reading out loud.
"I, Rachel Berry, do solemnly swear not to leave Puck after already agreeing to be his fake girlfriend with the sole purpose of deceiving his mother into thinking he's banging a Jew." She stops reading and glares at him. "Noah, that's disgusting."
"Keep reading, princess."
"At any time, should I want to back out of this agreement, too fucking bad." She gasps. "Noah!"
He laughs so hard his side starts to hurt. Something about this girl, this proper girl with all her flowery language, saying 'fuck' is totally awesome. And sexy.
"Sign," he insists.
"Not until you read mine!"
He sighs and rolls his eyes. "I hereby agree to the following terms regarding the arrangement started..." There's a date, and he looks up at her. "Seriously? Were you raised by lawyers or something?"
She smiles. "Yes, actually."
"Oh. Well, shit," he says, turning his eyes back to the paper. "One, this arrangement must be kept solely between the two parties, Rachel M. Berry, and Noah Puckerman. Two, Noah must treat Rachel with the utmost respect at all times, including, but not limited to, keeping his hands to himself, not offering monetary gain to Rachel for services rendered, keeping his distance when necessary. Three..." He looks up at her. "Rachel, this is ridiculous."
"Keep reading," she orders. He rolls his eyes.
"Three, no sexual relations of any kind will take place, and should Noah try, Rachel is given carte blanche to use whatever force necessary in order to get him to stop."
She smirks smugly and hands him the pen. "Sign."
He sighs and does as he's told. "You know, I'm not that kind of dude. You're hot, but I wouldn't fucking...I don't roll that way, alright?"
"Roll what way?"
He shrugs, hands her the pen. "No means no."
She actually cracks a smile before signing the napkin. "Good to know. Here."
He takes the napkin from her, then hands her back her piece of paper.
It's ridiculous, he knows, but he actually feels better. She can't back out now. And he kind of feels like he knows more about her after that little exercise.
"So, raised by lawyers, huh?"
And so they spend the next hour and a half, until Rachel is relieved of her shift, talking about their lives, hers, mostly. Puck feels like he knows all the basics. It's a relief.
She's sweet, despite the fact that she talks way too much and uses words he has to really think about in order to understand. And she's funny, though he's pretty sure that she doesn't really mean to be most of the time. And she's cute. Like, she's got this little laugh, and when he swears too much or makes a gross joke, she lets out a little huff, or rolls her eyes.
Basically, his mom is going to adore this girl. This is going to get him off the hook for years.
They meet up for lunch after class one day to come up with a story. Now that he knows the basics about her, and then some (she is a talker) he feels confident that he can bullshit his way through a weekend with his mom without her catching on that the whole thing is a sham.
When Rachel walks into the restaurant, he's a little bit blown away with how she looks. He's glad that he never denied that she's hot, because that means he can tell her any time he wants and it won't be weird.
Her black v-neck sweater, denim skirt, and black leather boots? Definitely hot.
She sits down across from him, spouting off about class running late and having to park far away from campus and can you forgive me? And all he can think of is how he wants to tell her that she looks good.
He's a dude. Come on.
So when he tells her she looks hot as hell, she blushes and says thank you, tucking her hair behind her ear as she reaches for a menu.
They've gotten all the small talk out of the way by the time their food arrives, and between the two of them, by the end of the meal they've come up with a believable story of how they got together and started dating.
The way they're going to tell it, Rachel and Noah are in the same pop culture class (true) and Noah always forgets a pen (not-so-true) and one day, he tapped Rachel's shoulder and asked to borrow one (not true at all). She handed him a pen, then promptly ignored him for two weeks, until one day she got to class and her pen was sitting on the desk next to him and he was asking her to sit beside him (so not true it's ridiculous.) This became a habit, her sitting next to him, until he insisted she let him buy her a coffee after class, which lead to dinner, which lead to 'other stuff.'
Rachel wasn't so on board for that part, but the way he sees it, there has to be something like that in there, or his mom'll never believe it. Rachel just rolled her eyes and said 'fine.'
"So, text me your address and I'll pick you up Friday morning at 10:00," he says as they settle the bill (she won't let him pay for her.)
"Okay," she says, still nervous. At least a dozen times a day, she wonders what she's gotten herself into. "Is there anything I should bring?"
He smirks and looks her up and down. "These boots."
She can feel her cheeks heating up. She hates that. "I'm serious."
"Oh, so am I," he says, voice low.
She turns her back to him, hair swishing around her shoulders, and says goodbye.
He watches her go with a smile on his face.
Don't forget to forget panties.
She gets the text while she's packing, and she wants to scream. He just doesn't get it. She is not actually interested in him. She keys in a response as she shakes her head.
I warned you about this.
She makes a point of making sure she actually has extra underwear (you never know!) in her suitcase, then goes back to choosing which jeans to bring, a couple skirts, and shirts.
Can't blame a guy for trying.
She doesn't know what he means by that. Part of their agreement is that he doesn't 'try.' He knows she's not interested in him that way, and she doesn't need any sexual tension making any of this more awkward than it inevitably will be. She's glad she can blame the nerves on meeting her boyfriend's family for the first time.
There's a reason she hasn't told a soul about this.
It's absolutely certifiable. This plan is so absurd.
So why is she actually kind of looking forward to it?
It's not just that it gives her a few days away from school, or that from what she's heard, Noah's family is actually quite sweet.
There's something exciting about this, about the lie (yes, she knows how terrible that sounds.) There's something about Noah, something that she actually likes.
And it's not just that he's probably the most gorgeous man she's ever seen. No, that's not it. She's a woman and she's got a pulse, and he's got these beautiful features, excellent bone structure, lovely eyes. She noticed him before that day when he approached her about all this. Actually, she spent a lot of time in her pop culture class watching him, and that's why she eventually moved from the back of the class to the front, so she wouldn't be distracted by him.
Does she plan on ever telling him how attracted she is to him?
No. Most certainly not. She's really not interested. At all. Really.
See you in the morning, babe.
And despite herself, she can't say she hates that he calls her babe.
(Sometimes she can still remember the way her hand felt, held by his.)