Title: One Moment in Childhood (When the Door Opens and Lets the Future In)
Characters: Noah "Puck" Puckerman, Rachel Berry
Summary: It sounds corny, even in his head, but he thinks maybe this is the first time in months she's actually seen him, Noah.
Spoilers: 1x20 - Theatricality.
Warning(s): Bad language (Puck has a potty mouth)
Word Count: 1173
Disclaimer: These characters belong to Ryan Murphy. I am not him.
So, Puck's not the sharpest tool in the shed. He knows this, accepts it, because at the end of the day he's a badass, and badasses don't need brains to score with chicks. Plus, he still manages to be smarter than Finn and that has to count for something.
Anyway, so he's kinda shocked when he realises he's the only one who picked up on Rachel saying her dads want her therapist to move into their spare bedroom. He's even more shocked when he realises this means she had a shrink in the first place because, yeah, girl is crazy, but she's not Crazy, like with a capital C and shit.
It bugs him all day, usually when he should be thinking about other things, like the baby, or picking his little sister up from school, or figuring out a secret code for his Fight Club (because if Quinn finds out he's still going to those meetings, she'll beat his ass, and not in a fun way; those pregnancy hormones are a bitch).
So when he steps out of the main doors at the end of the day and sees Rachel standing at the bottom of the stairs, gripping her phone and shuffling from foot to foot, naturally the first thing he wonders about is those sessions. How often does she see the good doctor? What does she talk about?
He approaches slowly; she's wearing a long, bulky coat thing over the toy dress so no one can see, but she's still got that lamb on her head.
Funny, he thinks as he stops beside her. Without the rest of the costume, that lamb makes her look kinda cute.
Fuck. Did he seriously just think that?
She glances at him and then away, tapping her foot on the ground. "Hello, Noah."
He should get to his car. There's a grocery list stuffed in his wallet and his mom will be pissed if he doesn't get what she says they need.
He doesn't move, though, can't move, because it's just them in the parking lot and she looks kinda small and lonely.
He zeroes in on her phone, clutched in a death grip.
"Your cell dead?" he asks, already reaching for his own. "You wanna use mine to call someone?"
She looks at him again, properly this time, and the left side of her mouth curls into a tiny smile.
"No, thank you." She chews on her lip but in a completely innocent, non-sexual way. This is new for him.
"Actually," she continues, "I just called my dads and told them I'm going to the mall with Mercedes, Kurt and Tina."
He double checks the lot, sees again they're alone. For some reason this makes him scowl.
"They ditch you?"
She sighs, sounding just like his mom after a double shift. He can't help but wonder how much sleep Rachel's been getting since she learned who her mom is. That week they dated, she enforced a "No phone calls and/or text messages after seven thirty" rule, because she had to be in bed by eight thirty to get her required sleep time.
Something tells him her hours have been different lately.
"No, Noah," she says in reply to his question. "No one ditched me. I lied."
His eyebrows shoot up. "To your dads?"
Lying to the parentals: another Rachel Berry first.
Puck shifts his weight and stuffs a hand into a pocket. "How come?"
"I want to go back to Carmel but…"
"But they were pissed you went behind their backs?"
She shakes her head; the lamb wiggles dangerously.
"They thought it might be best for myself and Mo—Miss Cor—Shel—" She stops, takes a deep breath. "It might be best for myself and everyone concerned if I just give them…her…some time. It's just…"
"You think sixteen years is long enough?"
Rachel tilts her head, frowning a little. It sounds corny, even in his head, but he thinks maybe this is the first time in months she's actually seen him, Noah.
"Yes," she says slowly. "How did you know?"
He lowers his head, scuffs a shoe on the ground. Shoulda kept his mouth shut. But what is it about Rachel Berry that makes him open up for deep and meaningful conversation? Even more importantly, why doesn't he care as much as he should?
Maybe it's because he and Rachel have always been more alike than people realise.
That thought gets pushed away as soon as it registers, not because being like her is repulsive, but because the memories of all those Slushee facials make him nauseous.
Part of him doesn't want to answer her, part of him does. In the end he gives in, although it doesn't really feel like a decision; it's more like an inevitability.
"My dad," he says, and it's all he has to say because he sees understanding darken her eyes. He continues anyway.
"Mom tells me he wasn't mature enough to be a father when I was born. She says with enough time he'll come around, want to know me and shit like that." He shrugs. "But he's been bumming around for eight years, longer if you count all those birthdays and holidays he missed. And I'm sixteen now, having a baby of my own, as fucked up as all that is. If he ever comes back, what am I gonna need him for?"
Rachel watches him for a long time; it should make him uncomfortable but it doesn't. It never does.
Finally, she says, "Sometimes I wish I could be as hard as you, Noah."
It's the perfect opening for some pervy comment, some sexual innuendo that will turn her from this sad, lost creature into the self-righteous and driven girl he knows.
Instead, he shakes his head and hitches his bag higher on his shoulder. "No, you don't."
She sighs again and Puck takes her in from head to toe.
"So," he says, "you going to Carmel or what?"
She fiddles with one of the buttons on her coat and then gives a short, quick nod.
"All right then." He picks up her bag and heads towards his car. Her shoes clack on the ground as she hurries to catch up. "Let's go."
"What are you talking about?"
He throws both their bags in the trunk. "I'll drive you. And I'll even stick around to drive you home."
"Oh." She looks all flustered. "That's not necessary."
"How else are you gonna get there? Walk?"
"I can get a cab." Even he can tell she's reluctant. "Besides, I'm sure you have other things to do this afternoon."
His mind goes to the grocery list and how pissed his mom will be. But he could deal with that, he thinks, if he knew Rachel hadn't had to take a cab by herself all the way to the other side of town.
So he unlocks the passenger side door and holds it open for her. "Nothing that can't wait."
Rachel hesitates, smiles and slips inside.
A/N: This was supposed to be completely different from what it turned out to be. Never mind! I quite like it. :) Thoughts? Also, the title is part of a quote by Deepak Chopra.