Summary: A challenge from Mr. Schue is supposed to make all of them bond – but no one's too happy about it.

Disclaimer: A long time ago, I played poker with a man. His name was Ryan Murphy. I was feeling lucky – I had been winning up until then. But then he made the ultimate proposition: if I won that next round, not only would I have the rights to all those cheesy characters he had created for some TV show that promised to be a big hit, but I would also be proposed to by a very hot guy with a mohwak. If I lost, I would also loose the car I had won earlier that evening. Today, I am alone, writing Glee fanfiction, and I walk back home from school everyday. I think you can imagine how that last game went. I haven't played poker ever since.

A.N.:This is a multi-chaptered fic that just popped into my mind seven minutes ago. I'll need your guys help with this – I'm still too new at Glee fanfiction. Oh, and I tried my best with the "Rachel-talk", but I would love any advice on it. Puckleberry all the way, as always.

It was just another day at the Glee club rehearsal room. Kurt and Mercedes sat in the back, whispering, Santana and Brittany sat just beside them, but weren't paying attention on the conversation; Santana was patiently explaining to the other cheerio what 'annually' meant (It seems Brittany had been shocked that Mrs. Smith, the Geography teacher, would dare to say 'such a dirty word' in front of the students). Finn had Quinn by his side, but was choosing to ignore her as he pretended to read a book (It's Finn we are talking about. He once said he had never read the McKinley Yearbook because there were 'just too many hard words'). Tina and Artie sat together, in a comfortable silence. Matt and Mike were having a thumb war in the first row – Rachel seemed to be really amused by said war, but soon realized that the boys could do it for hours and never get bored, very much unlike her. Puck sat isolated from everyone else, lazily strumming his guitar. The whole babygate drama was long past them, and New Directions was now able to be what they once were: just a group of losers united by the love of music, and the need of a spotlight (that one would be Rachel).

Secretly, each member enjoyed the moments before Mr. Schue walked in and rehearsal started. In those few minutes, they would relax and let anything that could worry them slip away from their minds – and that's why everyone could feel the atmosphere in the room was always much lighter than in the rest of the school.

As soon as Mr. Schue walked in, all conversations stopped suddenly. That was a first – the teacher usually had to clap his hands several times to be able to get their attention, as well as calling their names over and over again, and even threatening to call Puck's mother once (that had been the only effective way to get the boy to stop fake wrestling with Matt). But this time, every single student in that room saw in Mr. Schuester one thing they did not like: a wide, brilliant smile plastered on his face. They knew that could either mean he had just been with Ms. Pillsbury (and knowing that the redhead had found out about Mr. Schue's 'encounter' with Shelby, the Vocal Adrenaline coach, they crossed that option out – how did they know these things, anyway?), or that he had had an idea. And 'idea' here can easily be translated into trouble.

"Hello, guys" Mr. Schuester said, and rubbed his hands together. That was the world signal for 'evil plan in the making'.

"Hello, Mr. Schuester" said Rachel. Everyone else just grunted. Rachel did not seem to understand that there was definitely something in store for them. How clueless can someone be?

"I've came up with an idea for your next week's assignment" His smile was wider now – Kurt seemed to be on the verge of tears already. "First, let me divide you in pairs"

The room let out a breath in relief, and Kurt even smiled as he held Mercedes' hand, letting her know they would be doing the assignment together. The motion did not go unnoticed by Mr. Schue, who said:

"No, no, no, no, no. Wouldn't it be too easy to do this with your best friend? Why don't we try working with someone we don't usually spend much time with?"

"Excuse me, Mr. Schue, but we tried that before, and it didn't really turn out that well" Surprisingly, it was Quinn, and not Rachel, who spoke first.

"Yeah" Puck started, and pointing to Mercedes, continued "Last time, I got stuck with Chocolate Thunder over there, and we all know how that worked out"

Mercedes just rolled her eyes.

"Guys, guys" Mr. Schue said, as everyone started losing their focus, too busy pointing out everything that could go wrong "I have everything planned out already, and nothing you say will change anything about it. So you can either just stay quiet and let me say who you'll be paired with, or you can complain for hours, and still hear it"

All the noise died down after a moment, and when Mr. Schue decided they were behaving properly, he pulled out a piece of paper from his pocket and started calling out their names.

"Alright. Tina and Finn, Mercedes and Mike, Rachel and Puck, Quinn and Matt, Santana and Artie, Brittany and Kurt"

Immediately after he was done speaking, Rachel Berry, who had been extremely quiet, shot up from her seat and opened her mouth (for those who were familiar with her, Rachel opening her mouth could also, in some situations, mean "run for your life and your mental health").

"Mr. Schuester, while I do find it extremely thoughtful of you to constantly remind us to not only refrain ourselves from judging other people but also to always be open to embrace and accept diversity, I don't think it's necessary for us to work with someone we are not acquainted with, especially when we are talking about something as intimate as music" Her speech left Finn staring at her with dull eyes. He really did try hard, but the poor boy simply could not understand Rachel.

"What she's saying, or I think that's what she said, is that is just so much easier to work with our friends" said Kurt, a hint of desperation in his voice. He really didn't think he could put up with Brittany for a whole week. The girl was very sweet, but, in Kurt's opinion, she was the blonde that all blonde jokes were based on.

"You don't even know what your assignment is!" Some students started wondering what it would take to wipe that smile off Mr. Schue's face "Ok, here's what you're going to do. First, each one of you will select a song, any song at all, no restrictions. But it has to be a song you like, one of your favorites. Your partner will have to perform that song, alone"

Groans could be heard through the room. Puck suddenly realized what it meant to be Rachel's partner: Broadway.

"But please, keep in mind that you do not want to embarrass your partner, and, of course, you have to take in consideration each other's vocal ranges" Mr. Schue looked pointedly at Rachel and then at Mercedes "Your partner is free to arrange the song as they want. That was step one. Step two is why I paired you all up in couples" That little detail had gone unnoticed by them until now "You'll also have to perform, together this time, a love song. Not necessarily a ballad, if that's not your style, but a song that can be sung by both of you, and that speaks of love, obviously"

It took a moment for them to snap out of their shock. It was Finn who spoke first "Mr. Schue… why does it have to be a love song?"

But it was not Mr. Schue who answered.

"Love songs are always a crowd pleaser, Finn, no matter what genre they are.

Besides, having a love duet will give the public the idea that the performers are romantically involved – which results in a bigger emotion connection to what's happening on stage. I, for one, Mr. Schue, think your idea couldn't have been better"

Mercedes smirked and turned to Puck "Bet you want my Thunder now"

"Alright, now that you all know what to do, I advise you start working on it. Direct each other through the first step – you want your partner to feel the song as much as you do, and understand why it's one of your favorites. In two weeks, we will meet in the auditorium for our little show. Have fun!"

Rachel turned to Puck, a bright smile on her face. He stared at her, and he hoped his eyes showed that he rather eat his foot than sing Rachel's favorite Broadway show tune in front of everyone else.

Slowly, everyone else started making their way toward their partners, uncomfortably talking about the assignment.

"Hello, Noah. How are you today? Let me just say I think we are going to work greatly together; we have just enough differences to make this quite the entertaining performance. I can't wait to see what you'll choose for me, and I think I already have the perfect song for you in mind. Of course, I can't say that for sure just yet, since I plan on doing an extensive research of all my songbooks, just to be sure I didn't miss anything that your limited but beautiful vocal abilities can cover. And, well, it also has to be something you would enjoy singing, for we all know there's probably nothing worse than to perform something we don't feel comfortable with. Have you started thinking about what I'll be singing?" she blinked her brown eyes at him, and he just stared. He didn't answer her straight away, because he was too busy trying to remember what could he have possible done to deserve this. And then, his mind started swimming through all the things he could get Rachel to sing… He could have some fun with that assignment.

"Nah… I'll just think about it for a while" he muttered.

Her smile didn't falter "Very well, and I think we should start working on this immediately. After all, we only have two weeks, and though studies have shown that the average teenager at times can feel as if one week is as long as one year, you will quickly understand that it's too little time to do everything we have to do – we are talking about three different performances here, therefore I strongly advise you to begin thinking about song choices as soon as possible. You don't have any plans later today, have you? Meet me in my house at 4 – I trust you still know the way?"

He had forgotten just how weird Rachel Berry could be.

It had been a while since the last time Puck had thrown a slushie at her. That didn't mean they were friends, though; just not enemies anymore. Seriously, it was not like he hated the chick or anything like that. He owed it to her not to hate her – after everything he had done to her the past few years she had been by his side when the whole baby drama had blown up. She was the one that had talked everyone else into not blaming everything on him. So, he had made an effort to like her. And it was pretty easy to like Rachel – until she started talking and you remember how much easier it is to just ignore her. And, well, two weeks of her talking like that? He would be surprised if they didn't decide on canonizing him after that.

As Puck tried to figure out if he could be canonized, since he was Jewish and all, Mr. Schue told them to go home to work on their numbers.

"See you later, Noah" Rachel waved as he passed her on his way out of the classroom.

"See ya, Berry" he said, not paying attention to her.

Well, he thought as he got into his truck and headed home before going to Rachel's, if he made it out alive, those two weeks would be a hell of a story to tell his grandkids about.

A.N.: Reviews are love.