I suggest you go back and re-read at least the end of chapter 14, because I revised it. For those of you who checked out "Arise" (the expanded version of Chapters 13 and 14), I hope you enjoyed it. I know I enjoyed writing it.
Thanks to shezz05 and mns1988 for for naming me or my story a favorite. Thanks to liasonfan96706, beckg77 and SuzQQ for the reviews. You guys are the reason I do this!
"Berry, I need you to get over here yesterday, and bring clothes a tall girl could wear."
"What? Why am I clothing a tall girl, Noah?"
"Because that Megan kid is standing on my doorstep and she won't leave."
"That doesn't explain…"
"She's wearing red high heels and a trench coat, and it's not raining."
"Oh. Oh! I will be there in no time. Don't open the door."
"No shit, Babe! I mean, thanks."
After he hung up, the pounding began again. "Puck? I know you're home. I can hear the TV. You might as well open up. You'll be glad you did."
Puck had been back from California for a few days, and was adjusting back to his old life. Before the trip, he'd thought it would be dad-training-wheels, or a Dad-dress-rehearsal. Even without Drizzle around all the time, though, he kept thinking like a dad.
How many times had he fantasized a situation like this? Now that it was actually happening, it made him think of a guy his age trying something with Drizzle, which subsequently made him throw up in his mouth a little. He thought about telling Megan to go home, but sending a teenage girl in nothing but a trench coat out into NYC didn't seem right. He thought about calling her parents, but the situation could turn into a he-said-she-said, and he was so not in the mood to deal with any of that crap. He'd gotten his fill of sex scandals in high school. It was karma, he was sure, for all those cougars he banged. And now that he had Drizzle in his life, it was occurring to Puck how creepy those ladies had been for having sex with their kids' classmate.
Puck prayed Rachel would get there before his neighbors called the cops.
"Megan, is that you?"
Megan pivoted on her 3-inch-pumps and saw Rachel Berry, one of her idols, climbing the stairs to Puck's apartment. She tugged the belt of her trench to make sure it was securely fastened.
"How long have you been out here?" Rachel asked.
Megan shrugged. "A while."
"Oh, sweetie, you must be freezing. Bare legs in this weather? Let's get inside. You can borrow my yoga pants and one of Noah's sweatshirts," Rachel said, patting the duffle slung over her arm. She took out her keys and unlocked Puck's door. "I was just stopping by on my way to the gym. Don't worry, they're clean."
"You have his key? And his shirt?"
"He gave me the sweatshirt one day when I was cold and said I could keep it. Now let's get you inside," she said. "Noah, I'm home! Megan, go straight to the bathroom, first door on the left, and put these on. I must insist. I can't let Drizzle's best friend catch a cold, can I?"
The flustered girl tried to protest, but Rachel bustled her right into the bathroom and closed the door. Puck peeked out of the kitchen.
"Is it safe to come out?"
"Yes, you big coward."
"Hey, statutory is no joke, Rach. I have a strict rule: no random naked minors in my apartment."
"Even hot ones?"
"Especially hot ones. So, what now? Do we call her parents?"
"I think first we need to have a talk with her."
Megan emerged from the bathroom. Rachel's full-length yoga pants were capris on Megan, but between them and the sweatshirt, she was covered decently.
"Megan, we need to talk," Puck said
"Can we not?" she replied, trying to sound tough. "I just want to go."
"Look, you can't do stuff like this. It's dangerous," he said.
"Stuff like what? I didn't do anything."
"Megan, I'm serious. There are creepy men who would take advantage."
"I'm in charge of me, okay. No one can 'take advantage' of me."
"Noah, give us a moment," Rachel said. Puck threw up his hands in frustration, stalked off to his bedroom and closed the door. "Megan, I'm going to tell you what a wise girl once told me when I had a crush on an older man: you're attractive, but you come on so strong it can be grating. That makes love a challenge for women like us. So we look for guys we know we can't have. Noah can never reciprocate your feelings, which only reinforces your conviction that you're not worthy of being loved."
"Whatever! He's just a hot guy I want to fuck."
Rachel winced at the teen's crass language. "And there are no hot guys your age to have sex with in your town? You had to come all the way to New York? He's just so hot that you're willing to lose your best friend over it? Do you really think Drizzle could ever look at you the same way after you slept with her father?"
"Puck's not really her father! Josh is."
"Whatever he is to her, my question stands: would Drizzle feel the same way about you if you slept with Noah? Would she see him the same way? Do you honestly believe it wouldn't hurt her?"
Megan's shoulders slumped. Her face crumpled, and she started to cry.
"I'm going to hug you now, okay?" The diminutive brunette did her best to wrap her arms around the sobbing 5'9" redhead, who was 6' in her pumps.
"High school boys suck!"
Rachel sighed. "They do. Most of them, even the good ones, do terrible things in high school. Though as I recall, high school girls can be terrible, too."
"Thanks a lot."
"Actually, I was thinking about me. I once sent a girl to a crack house. Inactive, but still…"
"Okay, remind me never to get on your bad side."
"Oh, that girl wasn't even on my bad side. I was just afraid I'd have to compete with her for solos."
Megan's eyes bugged out of her head. She straightened and cleared her throat. "Are you going to tell Drizzle and my parents?"
"Depends. Is this an ongoing plan, or a one-time lapse in judgment?" Rachel asked, grabbing a tissue from the box on the table and handing it to Megan.
"One-time lapse!" Megan swore while dabbing at her tears, deftly managing not to smear her mascara.
"Okay, but you should consider therapy to work on your self esteem. I know I've found it very helpful. And remember, you're almost out of high school. One more year, then you'll be off to college or wherever life takes you. How are you getting home, Megan?"
"I have a MetroCard to get to 125th. I'll catch the Metro North to Stamford." She shrugged on her trench coat and tied it around her waist.
"Do you need help?"
"No, I've got it. What about your clothes?"
"They don't matter. Just…be safe, Megan. You know the older guy I had a thing for? He told me that someday I'd find a guy who would love me for all that I was, and the things I didn't like and wanted to change about myself would be the things he liked most."
"Was he right?"
"Yes and no. There were parts of me that I was right to want to change. I used to be so focused on my dreams that I couldn't even see anyone or anything else. But there were other things I wanted to change that were part of who I really am—who I'm supposed to be. And the right guy…Well, take my nose, for example. When I wanted to get a nose job, he begged me not to. He got my best friend to throw an anti-nose-job flash mob."
"Puck did that? You know, that doesn't exactly help me shake this crush."
"Well, as you said, you're in charge of you."
Megan nodded, then looked mortified. "Oh, God! We're all going to see your play this weekend. How am I going to face Puck in front of everyone?"
"Megan, one good thing about Puck: he's made enough hormone-driven bad choices that he's not going to judge you for this. You'll see. Just be a good friend to Drizzle. When I was your age, I was just starting to make friends. For years, I didn't have anyone I could confide in and rely on. You're lucky to have each other."
"Thanks, Rachel." Megan stood up tall and straightened her shoulders. She called out a loud, face-saving, "Bye, Puck! See you around!" and strode out of the apartment.
Noah eased out of his bedroom. "God bless you, Berry. Seriously. That would have been so much messier without you. What do we do now?"
"Now we wait and hope our talk worked."
"What did you tell her?"
"Basically that going after unattainable men demonstrates low self esteem; that the right person will love her for who she truly is, even the parts she doesn't like; and even if she could get with you, it would really hurt Drizzle."
"Ouch, Rach! Don't sugar coat it. Anything else?"
"I may have alluded to the time I sent Sunshine to the crack den."
"Okay, I'm going to go ahead and declare Operation Evade the Jailbait a success. She won't be back after that. I'm surprised she didn't run out screaming."
"She's so embarrassed. She's nervous about seeing you this weekend, so be nice. Well, nice, but not encouraging."
"You know you're not her, right? The diva who sent a little girl from the Philippines to a crack house? You've changed."
"Oh, I know that. But Megan doesn't."