A/N: My first ever Rachel and Puck fic. Hope you guys like it, because I really enjoyed writing it!
Reviews are treasured, and I will reply to them.
Oh yeah, and I don't own Glee. I don't own Mark Salling or Lea Michele, although I wish I did.
It doesn't seem like much when it first happens. They're practicing a dance routine and Finn turns the wrong way, elbowing Puck in the ribs. Puck pushes him out of the way, muttering that he's a clumsy idiot. They don't think any more of it: Finn's regained his balance and the rest of the group is laughing at them. Finn jokingly rubs his knuckles across Puck's head, and Puck once again pushes him away. It's supposed to be banter between two best friends but this time Finn trips over his own feet and knocks Rachel to the floor.
The room falls silent, expecting a Rachel Berry tantrum. Finn looks nervous: he's been crushing on Rachel for a long time and ever since Quinn gave up the baby, he's wanted to ask her out.
Everyone knows something's wrong when Rachel doesn't chuck a fit.
Her eyes widen in shock, and her hands flit down to her knee, hovering awkwardly over it. She's biting down on her bottom lip as a single tear rolls down her cheek. The room jumps into action.
Mr Schue rushes over to her, helping as Finn pulls her to her feet. Rachel's whimpering and being carried to a chair and Brittany's being told to fetch ice although it's obvious that she has no clue where it is. She keeps saying that there's no freezer in the choir room and eventually Santana and Quinn take pity on her; pulling her out of the room.
Everyone's reassuring Rachel that she'll be fine. Finn is still apologizing ad Kurt is trying to convince Rachel that this accident wouldn't have happened if she had just swapped places with him. Puck rolls his eyes; Beyonce just wants to stand next to Finn.
Practice continues once Rachel has ice on her knee. They manage to convince her to sing sitting down, but every now and then, they catch her trying to stand up. They all laugh a little that that: it's just like Berry. She's unable to take things sitting down. Puck's the only one who doesn't laugh. He can see tears welling up in Rachel's eyes as she tries to stand and sway with the music.
When practice finishes, and Finn finally leaves, after hanging around Rachel like a dog, Puck swoops in.
"Noah, what are you still doing here?" Rachel asks. She's sitting down in the chair, the ice pack still being held onto her knee although it's long since gone cold. Rachel's hand, the one that isn't holding the ice pack, is fiddling with the zips on her bag.
"I could ask you the same thing Berry", he replies, his eyes taking in her forlorn appearance, her body slumped in the chair.
"I'm waiting for my ride home", she explains, her eyes looking anywhere but him. Puck isn't a stalker but he knows for a fact that Rachel drove herself to school today. He saw her getting out of her car. He calls her on her lie and her face flushes, but she doesn't say anything.
"Your knee hurts, doesn't it?" he asks. Rachel bites her lip and nods. Puck doesn't know what to say to this silent Rachel: he's never seen one before.
Instead of talking, he picks her up and settles her carefully in his arms. They may not be the best of friends, but he's not going to leave her alone.
"Noah Puckerman, put me down this instant", Rachel squeals indignantly. He can practically feel the smirk spread across his face. He just tightens his arms around her, actually enjoying the feel of her in his arms.
That's the first time Noah Puckerman has ever taken a girl home without an ulterior motive.
They become friends. Rachel collects his homework for him when he skips class, and he jokingly carries her to his car when he knows that her knee has cramped up.
Everyone except Puck and Finn forgets about Rachel's fall. Finn's worried that Rachel is mad at him. He seems to think that she's been ignoring him or something, even though that's not the case. She's just finding it hard to get around these days, so she stays in one place.
Puck remembers the fall because every now and then when he looks at Rachel, he'll see the pain flicker across her face, and he'll make it his personal mission to cheer her up. He doesn't know why he cares so much about Rachel Berry, but he tells himself it's just because they're in Glee Club together.
One Friday night, about a month and a half after Rachel's fall, she finally invites him over. Kurt's been going on and on about the fact that Rachel doesn't watch enough television, so Rachel decides to have a marathon. She invites Noah (she refuses to call him Puck) because she thinks that he'll be the most understanding. Finn wouldn't understand why she was trying to get along with Kurt, even though he always tried to change himself to fit in, and the rest of the Glee club doesn't like her that much.
When she tells Noah that she wants him to come over on Friday night, his mind jumps straight into the gutter. The first time he went to Rachel's house, they made out. The last time he went to Rachel's house, they almost made out. Plus, Berry is hot.
When she explains that she wants to have a television marathon, she promises to compensate him for his time. She promises dinner and popcorn. He jokingly asks if beer is included in the offer, just so he can see her reaction (it doesn't disappoint; her eyes widen in shock and steam practically comes out of her ears).
The only downside to the whole thing is that Rachel wants to watch Desperate Housewives, or Grey's Anatomy, because apparently, other television series don't allow women in positions of power, despite the feminist movements that have occurred over the years.
He turns her down, and then feels like a jerk when her face falls. He can see that she's trying not to cry.
"God Rach, it's not that I don't want to come over. It's just... the Puck-ster doesn't watch Desperate Housewives or Grey's Anatomy". He's never seen her smile this big before.
In the end, he convinces her to watch Supernatural. He also tries to make her watch Criminal Minds and Prison Break, but after an extensive search on Google, she decides Supernatural is the way to go. Apparently, Criminal Minds would scar her for life, and Prison Break, although aesthetically pleasing (he tries to ignore the sickening feeling in his stomach when she says that), doesn't seem to fit the tone for the night.
So he goes round to her house on Friday night. Her dad's are home, and it's all very respectable. They don't make out once, and although that's disappointing, he finds that overall, he still had a good time.
He tries to pretend that having Rachel cowering into his side wasn't the highlight of his evening, even though it was.
The second time Rachel falls is all Finn's fault.
It happens after Finn finally forgets all about the first fall. The guy has finally convinced himself that Rachel isn't mad at him, just waiting for him to make the first move. Seriously, snails move faster than Finn, although Puck refrains from saying anything. He's only just got his friend back, and he doesn't want to jeopardize that.
Rachel's leg seems to be healing. Her turns aren't as fast as the others, and Puck knows that she has trouble keeping up at her dancing lessons (she tells him during one of their hour long webcam sessions), but it doesn't seem to be giving her as much hassle anymore.
One afternoon at Glee practice, she's standing in the corner alone, and it's obvious that her knee is hurting her again. He walks over to her, wanting to keep her company.
"The knee playing up again?" he asks casually, making it seem like her injury is the only reason he's come over, although he knows that he would have come to stand next to her anyway.
"It's cramping up again. I'm waiting to regain feeling so that I'm able to move properly again", she explains, her hands gently massaging circles on the offending joint.
"It does indeed"
The pair fell into a comfortable silence, not needing words to communicate. Rachel knows that Noah is concerned about her, and Noah knows that Rachel is thankful for that.
But then Finn comes along and ruins the silence.
He starts blabbing on about how their dance routine still needs some work (yeah it does; Finn still hasn't perfected the whole left, right, left, left, right and turn thing), and how Mercedes is rocking out on that end note (the girl is still terrifying though), and that Rachel's singing is getting better and better with each song (of course it is, she's Rachel Berry and she thrives on improvement. Plus she looks amazing in the jeans they have to wear for the routine).
Puck rolls his eyes, and he thinks he sees Rachel biting back a giggle. That's new.
Then Finn grabs Rachel's hand and tries to pull her to the rest of the group. Puck steps forward, ready to tell Finn to just let her go because he knows her knee is still locked, but it's too late. Rachel's on the floor, and this time, there's a whole row of tears rolling down her cheek, one after the other.
Its three weeks before Rachel is able to dance again.
During those three weeks, Noah tries to convince Rachel to go to a doctor, while Puck is this close to punching Finn for being an idiot. He doesn't though, because Finn is tearing his own hair out.
Rachel refuses to go to a doctor, and when Noah asks her why she won't go for the fifteenth time, she admits that she's terrified of doctors. Plus, her knee is getting better, she lies, not realizing that Noah can see straight through her lies now.
She falls over more and more often. She thinks that Noah doesn't notice but his eyes are always on her. When he doesn't have class with her, he'll have someone else watching her, making sure that he knows just how many times she hurts herself in a day.
After a week of watching, he comes up with a way of forcing her to go to the doctors.
He convinces her that he wants another marathon. He doesn't have to say much: excitement quickly overwhelms her tiny frame.
"Can we watch Grey's Anatomy this time Noah? Dean and Sam Winchester, while good at their jobs, left their mark on me the last time we watched, and I'm not too keen on reliving it just yet", Rachel blurted, then clamped her hand over her mouth.
"Left their mark? God Berry, did you have a nightmare?" he teased, expecting her to get all high and mighty and deny the claims.
"Well, I didn't have you and your guns there to protect me", she retorted, her eyes flashing with amusement.
Noah isn't too surprised: ever since they started hanging out together, Rachel has started to relax and stop taking herself so seriously.
When he drags her into the doctor's surgery that afternoon though, she immediately erupts. In between her lecture on his lies ("Noah, you said we were going to watch Grey's Anatomy, which is clearly a lie. Lying is the first step on the path to criminal behaviour"), and his betrayal ("I told you I didn't like doctor's Noah, and you disrespected my wishes and went behind my back), her eyes fill with tears.
"Look Rachel, I get that you're upset but I'm worried about you. You've been falling more and more often, your knee keeps cramping up and your dancing is suffering. You need to see a doctor about this injury and get it fixed once and for all so that I don't have to tear my hair out with worrying", Noah says softly.
After his little speech, she doesn't argue anymore. In fact, she gets up when her name is called and walks into the small room with her head held high, Noah trailing behind her.
He's sitting next to her, holding her hand tightly and ignoring the sparks he can feel, when the doctor breaks the news.
"Rachel, if you had come to me when the injury first happened, we could have been able to fix it with intensive physiotherapy. However, the subsequent falls have caused irreversible damage to your knee"
The words sound terrifying. Irreversible damage doesn't sound too promising.
"Well, what can you do about it? When I graduate, I'm heading to New York: I'm going to be a Broadway star. I need to be able to dance; no one will hire someone that can't dance", Rachel stresses, and Noah squeezes her hand reassuringly.
"Rachel, you won't be able to dance like that again. You will have to stop your dancing lessons immediately, and although swaying on the spot is possible for brief periods of time, your skill level will never extend past that"
"But she's been dancing for the last few weeks and she's fine. Her knee just cramps up every now and then; can't we just put a compression bandage on it or something?" Noah asks. He can feel Rachel beside him, every bone in her body tense.
"Dancing on the injury is what has made it so bad. If she keeps dancing, the injury will overflow into her everyday life, and she'll struggle to walk normally. I'm sorry Rachel", the doctor says softly, his eyes melting at the sight of the broken-hearted young girl.
That's how Noah Puckerman came to be sitting next to Rachel Berry as her dreams were shattered and her heart was broken.
When they walked outside, Rachel was still surprisingly calm. It scared him.
"Rach, what are you thinking?"
"That this doctor is obviously a fraud who has no idea how to do his job. I strongly recommend that we seek another opinion from someone who has better qualifications", Rachel rambled, but Noah didn't have the heart to stop her.
"Rach... the doctor is qualified", he says once he's sure that she's finished talking. He's learned not to interrupt her.
"Noah, you don't understand. I've wanted to be a star since I was three months old. It's all I've ever known and this man wants to end my dreams. I'm not going to sit back and let him do that... I need a second opinion", she whispers, and he can actually feel his heart breaking. It hurts, even more than a slushy in his eyes, and he briefly wonders when he started caring about Rachel so much.
That's how Rachel Berry convinced him to get a second opinion. The second opinion turned into a third, which turned into a fourth, which turned into an eleventh.
All of the doctors said the same thing: Rachel Berry would never be able to dance again. After the eleventh doctor's appointment she finally broke down in his arms.
When Rachel tells the Glee club that she'll never dance again, Noah is standing by her side. Mr Schue stands by and says nothing: they broke the news to him earlier and he's still coming to terms with it.
Quinn's mouth falls open: she and Rachel have never been close, but she respects Rachel's dream of getting out of Lima. She understands that this means that Rachel will never be the star she always wanted to be.
Santana says nothing, but wraps an arm around Brittany and draws her to the side of the room. Brittany is near tears; the only reason she became a cheerleader was because of her love of dance, and it seems so unfair that someone else has that love snatched away from her.
Artie's heart breaks for her. It looks like another one of the Glee kids have become handicapped, and although Artie's disability is more obvious, Rachel's obviously doesn't hurt any less. She assumed that she'd have the use of her body for the rest of her life, and that's been snatched away from her. At least Artie has grown used to the loss of his body.
Tina and Mercedes pat Rachel reassuringly on the back. They don't know what to say to her: a Rachel Berry without dreams is a scary thing to be around.
Kurt offers to give her a makeover, to take her mind off of things. He even says that she can choose the music, and they'll have a real party, with lots of singing and dancing. He realizes that he's made it worse when Puck glares at him. Rachel understands though; no one knows who she is without singing and dancing.
Finn takes it the worst. His eyes well up with tears and he walks slowly towards Rachel. Puck wants to sling his arm around Rachel (after all this, he feels like she's his) but Noah knows that it'll make her uncomfortable, so he just holds her hand.
"I'm so sorry Rach", Finn whispers. "This is all my fault"
"Don't you dare blame yourself; it's my fault for not going to the doctor's straight away, and I will live with the repercussions of my actions", Rachel says fiercely, and turns on her heel, preparing to storm out.
Her knee, however, has other ideas, and causes her to fall to the floor, her body sprawled awkwardly. There's something awfully degrading about watching Rachel Berry lay on the floor.
Noah walks to her side and picks her up, letting her weep into his shirt.
Glee adapts for Rachel. She's not allowed to sing lead for most of the songs now, because that would involve dancing, and Noah knows that it breaks her heart. She's used to being the star, and it's all been snatched away from her.
Mr Schue makes sure that they perform a ballad as often as possible, and the solo always goes to Rachel. No one complains. They all know that she misses twirling around with the rest of them, and the least they can do is not fight her for the thing she can actually do.
When it's time for a ballad, the group sways around her stool. Noah rests his hand on her shoulder, and always squeezes gently when it's time for the rest of the group to move away. He knows that her eyes always fill with tears when they walk away: it's just another way of showing how different she has become.
No one knows how to act around her anymore, so they choose to leave her alone. One lunchtime, when she's sitting in the bathroom, she can hear the three cheerleaders talking about her.
"Her outfit choices are still criminal", Santana says harshly.
"Yeah, but we can't even tease her for it anymore. She's like... broken", Brittany says eloquently.
"I feel sorry for her", Quinn says softly.
"I wonder if she'd want me to buy her a duck. They're so soft and cuddly, and they'll make her feel better", Brittany asked the other two girls, who just laughed softly, before leaving the bathroom.
Noah rarely leaves her side anymore. She thinks it should annoy her, but she can't get mad at him anymore. He's the only one who is still by her side after everything that has happened.
One lunch, he goes to get her a grape slushy because her knee is playing up again. She watches him walk away, and her heart breaks a little bit.
She wonders when she was stupid enough to fall for Noah Puckerman, and she curses herself for not stopping it.
The rest of her life is going to consist of watching him walk away and she can't deal with it, so she smothers her feelings and asks Finn if he wants to see a movie.
The date with Finn is pretty good. He buys her ticket, and offers to buy her a drink and popcorn but she declines. She's already lost the ability to dance, and she can't lose the ability to sing as well. She can't lose everything.
When she comes home, Noah is sitting on her front porch.
"What are you doing here?" she asks, her eyes trailing his frame in concern.
"We usually watch TV together on Friday nights", he says duly, "but you obviously had other plans"
"I went out with Finn"
"I know, I saw him drop you off"
For the first time in a long time, the silence is uncomfortable. Rachel wants to tell him the truth, tell him that she has feelings for him, but she's too scared of being rejected.
"I thought I meant something to you Rachel. I thought you'd at least tell me that you had other plans", Noah said softly.
"You do. You really do Noah. You're my best friend", Rachel insists.
"Whatever", he hisses, standing up and walking away, a glimpse of the old Puck shining through.
Rachel dissolves into tears and the sound of her sobs cover up Noah's words as he walks away.
"If I had known you were ready to date, I'd have been the first person knocking at your door"
They don't talk for weeks.
Rachel tries to find him, but her knee hinders her ability to run after him. Noah is a master of avoidance and he takes to hiding from her.
He wants to talk to her, but he knows that if he sees her, he'll break down and show her how much she hurt him.
She needs to talk to him, because she misses her best friend. She misses Noah. She wants to undo her date with Finn and stay at home for their Friday night plans.
She eventually stumbles across him when she stumbles out of the bathroom. He's supposed to be in Glee, but she can't judge. She hasn't been to Glee rehearsal in a few days because it's just too hard.
Rachel is so surprised to finally see him that she falls over her own feet. Her knee has been playing up recently, and Noah hasn't been there to help.
He picks her up off the floor, and she feels like she belongs in his arms.
They finally talk. Well, they actually yell.
"Why didn't you just tell me Rach?" he yells. "I understand if you want to go out with Finn. You two have been laying the groundwork for almost a year"
"Because I didn't really want to go out with Finn; I wanted you!" she screams back.
"I was scared Noah. I hated watching you walk away, and I realized that I'd just be holding you back. I have no dreams anymore, I have nothing, and you... you are going to get out of this town and make something for yourself. I don't want to be the one that forces you to give up your dreams, because I know how much it hurts", she whispers, her eyes filling with tears (it's becoming a common occurrence whenever Noah is around).
"Why didn't you just tell me Rach?" he repeats, "you're supposed to be the smart one. Wasn't it obvious that I want you?"
"Want... as in the present tense of the word?"
"Yes, as in the present tense of the word"
That's how Noah Puckerman enters into his first real relationship with Rachel Berry of all people.
Their relationship isn't perfect. They fight: he yells, she cries and then they makeup.
The first fight happens when Noah goes over to her house and she's dancing in her room. Dancing. He yells (something along the lines of how could she? Is she trying to screw up her knee forever? Why can't she just accept what's happening?), she cries (I can't give up dancing, it's all I've ever known. Why can't you understand why it's so hard for me to give this up?) and after an hour of silence, she throws herself at him, and plasters him in kisses.
Their last fight happens when Rachel walks in on Puck kissing Santana. This time, she yells, and he sits there, his eyes welling with tears. He thinks that this time, their relationship might just be over. Rachel swears to herself that he's dead to her, that they'll never talk again and it's time for her to move in. This time, it's Quinn that fixes it. She walks up to Rachel, pulls her to the side and tells Rachel the whole story (Santana is jealous of Rachel and Puck's relationship so she gets Puck drunk and kisses him when she knows that Rachel will come over. Quinn knows that Rachel has forgiven him when she reminds Quinn that his name is Noah, not Puck).
There are times when Noah feels like a consolation prize. Like Rachel wouldn't really want him if she was able to go to Julliard and become a famous Broadway star.
There are times when Rachel feels like Noah is only with her because he feels sorry for her, that he thinks she's unable to amount to anything.
Whenever Noah voices his fears, Rachel pulls out the Supernatural box set (which she bought after renting it so many times) and tries to show him through her actions. In the scary parts, she'll cuddle closer to him ("I need you to protect me"), and in the brotherly love moments she'll look up at him with wide, affectionate eyes ("I love you more than Dean loves Sam, even though we haven't said those three words to each other"). When the music plays, Rachel doesn't sing along ("Being here with you is more than I ever dreamed of").
When Rachel voices her fears, Noah puts on Grey's Anatomy. He doesn't express anything through his actions. He keeps his arm around her, which is now a custom whenever they watch anything, but that's it. She knows that he cares because he's actually watching Grey's Anatomy, something that he wouldn't do for just anybody. She means something to him.
On the day they graduate, Noah is about a hundred people away from Rachel, and he actually misses her, even though she's in the same room.
They've both grown up a lot. Rachel has quit Glee because it just makes her upset, and she's undergoing intense therapy on her knee in the hopes that it will stop cramping all the time. She's finally accepted that she won't be a Broadway star and she realizes that the injury may have been a blessing in disguise. Without the injury, she wouldn't have Noah by her side. She's going to be a lawyer, the exact opposite of Broadway, because she can't have a little without wanting a lot. Plus, Noah says that she'll be good at it... after all, she is way too argumentative.
Noah quit Glee even though Rachel told him to stay. The group kind of floundered without Rachel, and he realized that if he put his mind to it, he could achieve anything: he didn't need a music scholarship to get out of the town. He dropped football too, and concentrated on his studies. He managed to get an academic scholarship, just like Rachel, for the same school. He was training to be a physiotherapist, so that he could fix the type of injuries that ended Rachel's dreams.
When Rachel's name is called, she nervously climbs up the stairs like she did when she first performed in the auditorium. Her knee, however, screws everything up.
She falls up the stairs, and flat on her face. Everyone laughs, because to them, Rachel Berry is still a freak. Everyone but the Glee kids laugh at her misfortune.
Even though the group has long since split ways (Finn and Quinn got back together after working through all their issues, and decided to drop off the social radar altogether – no Glee, no cheerleading, no football. Brittany dropped out of cheerleading and created a dancing group, with the help of Santana. Mercedes and Kurt became full time cheerio's after Sue allowed them to keep their bodies the same way. Artie and Tina decided to stay in Glee and help others reach their potential) they all climb the stairs together, Noah leading the way.
Noah carefully stops in front of Rachel, and gently picks her up, cradling her delicately in his arms. She's the most important thing in his world, and his heart breaks when he sees her tears.
"I love you", he whispers, and her responding beam makes his world a much better place.
"I love you too Noah Puckerman"
And that's how Noah Puckerman and Rachel Berry declared their love for each other, with the Glee club standing behind them, as always.