Chapter 4

Puck pulled the F150 into what he was starting to consider "his" parking space at the park. He was man enough to admit, if only to himself, that he was looking for her without being prompted by someone else.

Shit I'm good, right where I thought she'd be, sitting on our bench…Our bench, what the fuck? Where the hell did that come from? Puck continued his mental tirade as he exited the truck and walked over to Rachel. His walk was all swagger and power, just in case she happened to hear the truck door slam and look up.

She didn't.

"Hey, I thought I'd find you here" He sat down on the bench, jean incased legs spread wide and arm thrown around the back of the bench behind Rachel, invading her space.

"Hello Noah, may I inquire as to why you are currently intruding on my personal space?" Her back was ram rod strait with her knees clamped together and her arms tightly wrapped around her.

"Shit Rach, that egg thing St. James pulled was totally uncalled for. Since Shue won't let us beat the crap out of him I thought maybe you could use a friend." He wrapped his arm around her and forced her into his side.

"Is that what we are Noah, friends?"

"I don't know. I mean usually girls fall into two categories, ones I've tapped and those I'd like to, and then there's you." He shrugged as he looked down into her big brown eyes.

"So because we have not had sexual intercourse and evidently you do not find me in anyway attractive, yet you still engage in conversation with me, then we must be friends by default?"

"Fuck, Berry, that's not what I meant. You're like the only person I can actually talk to about feelings and shit." Puck nervously rubbed his buzzed head. "Shit Rachel, you know I'm bad this kind of stuff, and you're totally spank bank material." His eyes pleaded with her to understand what he was trying to say.

"I think there was a complement in that deplorable speech somewhere." She shook her head and relaxed back into his side.

"Okay, so back to St. Douche, that was a shit ass thing to do. I mean, I thought he was a dick but you liked him and he took things too far, even Santana and I were never that bad to each other." He felt her relax into his side and lean her head on his shoulder as she exhaled a huge sigh.

"It pains me to admit, but apparently Kurt and Mercedes were accurate in their assessment of Jessie's character. I just wanted to be acknowledged so intensely that I was willing to overlook the warnings."

"Rach," Puck reached down and put his hand under her chin and gently tilted her face to look up at him. "You have always been wanted; remember I choose you over football and my team mates." Their lips were almost touching and he could feel her breath on his face.

"Then why did you break up with me?" Rachel asked in a breathless voice as Puck watched her watching his lips.

"I didn't break up with you, you choose Finn." With that he broke the tension around them and turned his face toward the playground. "Just like everyone else."

"But you said you would have broken up with me."

"Hell Berry, I lied. What did you expect me to say?"

"I didn't know." The silence surrounded them until Puck dropped his arm from around her and grabbed her hand forcing her to stand up with him.

"Come on we're leaving." He stated as her led them back to his truck.

"Where are we going?" She asked while trying to keep pace with his longer strides.

"It's Friday night and I need a fucking drink, hell so do you after the shitastic day you've had. We're going to a bar." Puck informed her as he opened the truck door for her and slammed it behind her.

"Noah Puckerman we cannot enter a drinking establishment!" He could hear her screeching as he climbed into the driver seat.

"Relax Berry, I know the owner." Fucker owns me a hell of a lot more than a couple of free drinks.

"How far is it?" Rachel spoke up as they passed the back of the "Welcome to Lima" sign.

"Findlay"

"Findlay? Noah that's 40 minutes away."

"So."

"I can't just tramps off to Findlay; my Dads will be extremely upset."

"Call them and tell them you're spending the night at Brit's or some crap."

"Why Britney's?" Rachel retrieved her phone from the back pocket of her jeans as she squirmed around in her seat.

"Because, she always has two or three people spending the night, easy cover."

"I can't believe I'm actually participating in this ridiculous scheme." Puck heard her hit speed dial and leave a message for her fathers. "Where exactly are we going to spend the night?"

"Relax, I have a place for us to stay and you don't even have to worry about drinking and driving later. Which I know is going to be the next thing you bitch about."

"Just because I am concerned about your welfare does not mean I am bitching as you so elegantly phrased it." Rachel huffed next to him.

"Whatever." Puck dismissed her as he reached over and turned on the radio picking some crap that he knew Rachel would sing along to.

Twenty minutes later Puck parked his truck behind a seedy looking bar on the out skirts of Findlay. It was a nondescript building with a neon sign stating "Jake's" above the door. Rachel reached over and grabbed Puck's hand before he could exit the F150.

"Noah are you sure this establishment is safe?"

"Yeah." Puck laugh at her as he jerked her towards him and out the driver's side door. Puck threw his arm around her shoulders as they stopped inside the door and let their eyes adjust to the dim enterer.

He watched her face as she took in the room, booths to their left along the side wall, pool table and juke box on the back wall along with a hall leading to a staircase and restrooms. There were tables and chairs in the main area with the bar next to them on the right completing the room. It was when she noticed the bartender he saw the confusion. He watched as Rachel recognizes the hazel eyes, dark hair and familiar build.

"Noah?" She turned back and looked up in to his matching set of hazel eyes. He just nodded his head and led her over to an empty table between the bar and pool table.

"I said he left, not that I didn't know where he was." He informed her as he looked around and assessed the other people in the bar, mostly blue collar folks with a few seemingly required old men sitting at the bar. He watched the bartender finish pouring a beer and move from behind the bar toward their table.

"Noah, it's good to see you. How's your mom?"

"Hannah and mom are fine." Puck watched his father glance down to the table as Rachel put her hand over his that was clinched into a fist and give it a gentle squeeze.

"Who's your friend?" His father turned the Puckerman smirk onto Rachel.

"Rachel this is Jake." Puck looked into her eyes and nodded his head toward his father by way of introduction.

"It's nice to meet you Mr. Puckerman." Puck let out a small breath as he realized that Rachel didn't seem to be affected by the charm his father was laying on.

"So, what can I get you both?"

"Bring us a couple of Buds." Puck answered for both of them.

"So you'll be staying tonight?" Just about the only parental thing the ass has ever said. Puck fished the truck keys out of his pocket and handed them over to Jake before he left to fill their order.

"Exactly where will we be staying tonight, Noah?" Rachel asked in that tone of voice that was like nails on a chalk board.

"Don't get you panties in a knot; I have a room upstairs that he keeps open for me."

"What makes you think I'm going to spend the night with you?" Rachel asked him and for the first time all night he wasn't sure if she was outraged or intrigued by the idea. Oh fuck it.

"Because, Rachel Barbara Berry, tonight I am going to teach you how to drink and not get a hangover. I'll have you know this is a very valuable skill, not to be taken lightly."

"Exactly how is this lesson valuable?" Rachel returned his smirk with one of her own.

"When you're a huge Broadway star and have all those after parties to attend, you'll better understand the value of not worshipping the porcelain god the next morning before your matinee performances." Puck smiled as he watched Rachel contemplate his declaration as Jake returned to their table with two bottles of beer, a pitcher of water and a couple glasses.

"Let me know if you need anything from the grill." Jake spoke before turning and catching the eye of a woman in a very short skirt as she bent over the pool table.

"For the sake of furthering my experiences and my future performance ability…" Whatever Rachel continued to say was completely lost on Puck as the phase performance ability and visions of Rachel naked slammed though his brain.

"Noah…PUCK are you listening to me?" Rachel asked as she reached over and hit him in the shoulder.

"Sorry," Puck said shaking his head and shifting in his seat. "What were we talking about, oh yeah, teaching you to drink." He mumbled to himself trying to buy a little time to get his body back under control. "OK, so the thing about a hangover is it is really just dehydration. All you need to do is keep you water intake up to counter act your kidneys trying to clean out the alcohol."

Rachel lifted the beer bottle to her lips and suddenly the lyrics to Brad Paisley's Ticks blared from the juke box.

'Every time you take a sip

In this smoky atmosphere

You press that bottle to your lips

And I wish I was your beer'

Never before had a song made more sense to him.

Author Note – I feel like I should finish this story but I have no idea where it is going, any and all suggestions are completely welcomed and begged for. This chapter has not had the benefit of a beta so all mistakes are mine alone.