Disclaimer: I am a Puckleberry fan. Obviously, Glee does not belong to me.

Truefax: I started writing this fic shortly before Glee began to air again in April, as I was desperately in need of some Puck/Rachel. I only picked this baby up again this week, once finals were over and done with, and when I re-read it, I discovered something hilarious - I had picked out the name Bethany before they aired it on Glee. I must have psychic powers like Rachel.

Notes: there is a lot of swearing in this. And lots of sexy time mentions too. Just be aware of that. Also forgive any mistakes, as it almost three-thirty in the morning and I have to work tomorrow. I didn't think this thing would be over 8,000 words. You can all blame Mark Salling for being such a sexy beast because really, I intended to end this thing earlier but then I saw some pictures of him and that just made my imagination run rampant so honestly, this is all. his. fault.

Also I'm just pretty much pretending that the finale never happened. In this story, it pretty much doesn't exist. (Now if only the same could be said about real life. UGH.)

And for those that are confused - the beginning sequence takes place right before Rachel's discussion about Quinn.

Rachel Berry, he thinks, is the kind of girl who expects things. Flowers and candy and hand-holding (remembers when he walked around the halls with her, arm-in-arm while she smiled so happily that it made him smile) and fucking cuddling and feelings and shit.

"Noah," Rachel laughs, a hand running absentmindedly over the back of his head, and ridiculously, he feels himself growing hard. Why is it that she brings out the fourteen year-old virgin boy side of him with just the simplest of touches? "You're thinking too hard." She smiles, and while it lightens her face, it doesn't touch the darkness at the back of her eyes; but then Puck blinks and it's gone, replaced with a coy look that makes him want to take her until she loses her voice from screaming his name.

"How about I help you stop thinking?" Then her lips cover his own feverishly, and as his hands slide up Rachel's smooth legs to grip her ass and bring him closer to him, he forgets all about his nagging feeling over something not being right.

It would be raining the day he gives his daughter away.

He doesn't know how the fuck he wound up at Rachel Berry's house. He blames all of the alcohol currently running through his system. Alcohol is what put him in this situation.

"Fuck." Puck mumbles, feeling his stomach roil treacherously as unwanted memories drudge up. Even drunk out of his mind, he still remembers his baby girl. Dark hair and brown eyes tinted with hazel, and when he ran his finger over her hand, she gripped it with that tiny, tiny hand, eyes meeting his. In that one moment, that one singular moment, he belongs completely to this newborn little girl, part him and part Quinn. Bethany Alyssa is the name he picks, and he knows that his mother will approve of the totally-Jewish name. Except he doesn't plan on going home tonight. When he gives her over to the Smith's, watch as they smile and coo at his baby girl that is now their baby girl, no longer belonging to him, he knows he needs to get the fuck out of there. Immediately.

So driving to the hospital turned to driving to the liquor store turned to sitting in a darkened parking lot somewhere getting so drunk he knows he'll be hungover all day tomorrow turned into him pounding on Berry's door.

"Berry!" He bellows, like she can't hear him attempting to knock down her door. Just for good measure, he yells her name again, and when the door swings open he topples right onto one Rachel Berry. She squeaks as they hit the ground, and he obviously hadn't had enough time to look at her when she opened the door, but he can sure as hell feel her. His groin lines right up with her Land Down Under, and he knows she's not wearing anything under what feels like tiny pajama shorts. His dick tents his jeans and he knows she can feel it when her breathing hitches. He thinks she fucking wiggles a little, and he groans in her ear.

"Noah," she says softly, and wriggles a little more.

"Christ, Berry, you need to stop doing that." He hisses through clenched teeth. He's hard as stone right now, and there will seriously be some issues if she doesn't stop moving beneath him.

Then he gets harder at the thought of Rachel beneath him with absolutely nothing on and saying his name like she did a minute ago.

Rachel coughs a little and shifts. "Okay. Well. Since I am clearly the most sober one at the current moment, you need to roll off of me, Noah."

"Uh…not sure if I can do that without vomiting."

Rachel makes out an annoyed sound at his admittance. "Well, how about you try, then?" If Puck didn't know any better, he'd think the tone of her voice was dry and a little sarcastic. Still, he concedes, he's lucky he knows his ass from his elbow at the moment.

So he takes a deep breath and rolls over, groaning when the world tilts precariously. Then he shoots up and barely makes it to her sink, where he vomits spectacularly. He's dry-heaving into the metal basin when he feels her tiny hand rubbing small circles into his lower back. He tells himself that moving right now makes the walls spin, which is the only reason he doesn't move her hand right away.

"Noah." That's all she says, just his name, but he closes his eyes in defeat. Neither of them move from the sink. Her hand moves higher, still rubbing, getting closer to his tensed shoulders.

"I held her in my arms, Berry. She was so small, so tiny, so completely new and fragile." Jesus fuck, like he hasn't done enough spewing of his insides tonight. "And she was so fucking beautiful." He smirks. "Well, of course she is: I'm a fucking stud."

Berry huffs out a laugh behind him, and the smile fades from his lips like sap.

"Noah," she whispers, "you don't have to talk about it if you don't want to. I completely understand the devastation you're suffering through, and I know how you are about discussing emotions." Her voice has a teasing lilt to it, and he feels a grin tugging at the corner of his lips.

"There's a bathroom upstairs that you could clean yourself up in. Perhaps shower?"

"Tryna tell me I smell, B?"

"No offense, Noah, but you absolutely reek of liquor. Also, I'm sure your mother would not be too pleased to find you in such an inebriated state."

Puck sighs. He hadn't even considered what would happen when he went home.

"Nah. Ma would understand."

Rachel leans against the counter, considering him. She's biting her lip while doing it, and he clenches his fists to keep them from reaching out and stroking her supple-looking skin. (Supple? Is this shit for real? What the fuck is Berry turning him into?)

"Well," she sighs. "I would abhor it if you decided to operate a vehicle after consuming so much liquor." Rachel fixes him with a beady stare. "Despite the fact that you already got behind the wheel, I insist you do not attempt it again. The only logical answer, therefore, is for you to stay the night."

Puck stares at her. Then he bursts into laughter.

Rachel quirks an eyebrow at him, irritation plain as day on her face. "And what, pray tell, is so humorous over what I just orated?"

Jesus Christ. Even at a quarter to one in the morning, she still sounds like she swallowed an Encyclopedia.

"Sorry. I'm just drunk. Ignore me." Except he doesn't feel very drunk anymore. He just feels tired and worn out. The look on Rachel's face softens.

"Follow me." She says simply, and leads him up the stairs. The door to his right leads him to the bathroom she had been talking about, and she hands him a towel and a toothbrush. "My dads will not return for the next few days." She informs him. "I will go and collect some of Daddy's pajamas so that you may have something to sleep in other than your current attire."

"Berry, I know you can speak like a normal human being. It's just us. You don't need to talk like you're facing down a Harvard professor."

"I prefer to enunciate my words clearly and in an intelligent manner. Is this a problem?"

Puck sighs. "No, not a problem at all, B."

She studies him for a moment, eyes roving over his face. "I will leave Daddy's clothes on the top of the sink for you. Don't lock the door behind you."

Then she realizes what she's just said and her eyes widen, horrified. Puck can't stop laughing. "Damn, Berry, didn't know you had it in you. If you wanted me, all you had to do was say the words, babe."

She shoots him a vicious glare, but the high color in her cheeks suggests that she's not unaware of how hot he is. Puck hides a smile. Score.

"Shut up," she grumbles, and storms down the hallway. Puck smiles as he closes the door.

When he's done showering and his mouth no longer tastes like ass, Puck heads downstairs. Her father's pants are a little on the snug side, and the shirt was too tight, so he leaves it off. Totally worth it at the look on Berry's face when he walks into the kitchen.

"Noah!" She all but shrieks, and he grins.

"I'm a hot bitch, babe. It'd be cruel of me to deprive you of the gun show." For good measure, he flexes. Rachel takes a deep breath and closes her eyes, pinching the bridge of her nose.

"Noah, I would appreciate it if you put a proper article of clothing on your freakishly large chest."

Puck smirks. "I knew you were checking me out, Berry." Not, of course, that he blames her. "I would if I could, but your dad just doesn't have my crazy ass muscles, so it was too tight."

She groans. "Fine. Are you hungry?"

Puck considers this. His stomach is still full of alcohol, though he's feel less drunk after standing in the steaming hot shower (which then turned to cold at the thought of Rachel in just those tiny pair of short shorts and a tank top that clung to those kickin' curves of hers; he doesn't even feel the least guilty, rubbing one out in her shower) but then he remembers with a grimace that he hasn't eaten all day. He got the call from Quinn at 11 this morning, waking his ass up, and with all the adrenaline running through his body (and later his good friend, Jose Cuervo) he hadn't even thought of food.

So he shrugs. "Sure."

Rachel ends up making him the greatest omelet of his life. He moans at the first bite and, embarrassingly, he thinks his eyes roll back into his head. Rachel smirks at him over her tea cup. "Good?" She teases.

"Holy fuck, B." He wishes he had known she was this good of a cook when they were dating, hot damn. The mental image of Rachel cooking for him in nothing but an apron flits across his mind, and he grins into his fork. Thankfully, Rachel isn't looking at him. She's tracing the rim of her mug with her pointer finger, all light and shit, her gaze focused on it while her teeth worry at her bottom lip, and he feels himself harden.

Then he recalls that he's getting turned on in her gay dad's sweats, which just deflates his shit faster than if the man himself walked into the kitchen right then and there.

He finally finishes his food (in record time - the only time he chomps down food that fast is when he's high) and sighs, leaning back and closing his eyes. He hears the clatter of plates, but not the sound of water, so he assumes she's putting it in the dishwasher.


Her voice sounds close by. He turns his head towards the sound of it and opens his eyes, gaze focusing on her silky smooth thighs and climbing higher. He watches the flush rise from her chest to pool on her cheeks, and he bites back a smile when he remembers the conversation in her bedroom, about how she was ironically turned on by his bad boy image.

Fuck yeah she is, he thinks proudly. He's the one who makes Rachel Berry wet, not her golden boy, Finn.

His hand wraps around the back of her thigh, skin soft and warm, and her breath hitches. She whispers his name, but all he can think about is the pounding in his head (and other places); when he looks up her eyes are dilated, chest heaving. His fingers travel up, feeling the goosebumps that rise along her skin, and his own breathing becomes a little uneven. When he stands, he purposely slides against her, and they both moan.

Then her lips are on his, and it's not gentle, but then, it never has been when they kissed. It's hard and it's heated and then her hand is on him, cupping him, and he's grinding into her palm, groaning.

"Fuck, Berry." She giggles as she tugs on his lip with her teeth. His hands crawl up her sides, slowly sliding her tank top up and then over her head. She doesn't stop him.

Even though he just ate, he's feeling oddly…hungry again.

He goes down on her, right there, with her flat on her back on her kitchen table, yelling his name so loud he's surprised the neighbors don't hear.

When it's over, she won't look at him. "Rachel." It's her name that does it - he rarely ever calls it that. "Don't be embarrassed."

"I just had almost-sex with you. In the middle of my kitchen." She says, mortified. He stifles the urge to make a Puck comment, because right now, she needs Noah. See? He's not a complete dickhead. Sometimes.

She just brings out that side of him, the side that makes him want to fucking protect her or something.

The side of him that wants to be better, wants to be the man she dated that week, the one she's so proud of, despite everything; her faith in him baffles him to no end, but he tries. For her.

"Don't hide away from me." He takes her wrist in his hand, rubbing circles on the inside of it, and she shivers, eyes meeting his. She bites back a smile, but from the grin that spreads across his face, she knows she fails.

"I want that to happen again. Is that wrong of me?"

Holy shit. "Holy shit." He mutters. "Baby, I have no problem with that."

"But - but Quinn just gave birth! To your daughter!" He flinches at the mention of Beth, now in someone else's crib, or maybe in someone else's arms. Not his. He wasn't motherfucking good enough to be the man that his fucking daughter deserves.

"Noah," Rachel whispers, mortified this time for another reason. "Noah, I'm sorry."

He shrugs. "S'okay."

But it's not, she knows. Wonders if he has a large scar across his heart with his daughter's name on it, the same way she has one of Finn's.

She slides her hand down until it's intertwined with his, while her other hand comes up and smoothes away the lines of tension that mar his forehead. He leans into her gentle touch, sighing into her skin.

"Come on." She says, tugging a little on his hand, and he follows her out as she flips off the light in the kitchen and living room, follows her in the darkness as she walks up the stairs, when they arrive in her bedroom. It looks just like he remembers it.

She shifts her weight from foot to foot, and he watches her from the bench by her bed (remembering their two near-kisses and almost smirks) and thinks that he's never seen Rachel Berry so unsure of herself.

"I know how absolutely bizarre and absurd this is; we have a perfectly compatible guest room for your needs, but I just…I just thought you might need the warmth of another human being."

The perverted retort dies on his tongue. He is sixteen years old, but he has never felt older in his life.

"Come to bed, Berry." He tells her quietly.

It is the first time he's ever slept in a female's bed without having fucked her beforehand. It doesn't surprise him that Rachel Berry is the exception to this.

She wakes up to the smell of him wrapped around her. His fingers are brushing against her stomach, his breath tickling the hairs on the back of her neck.

Rachel is frightened by how much she enjoys this. Enjoys having her here, in her home, in her bed. In her life.

She is terrified that when she wakes up, this domestic bubble of theirs will burst. Last night was a fluke - he had just given up his daughter and was looking for a little comfort.

What will happen when dawn breaks?

When he awakes, she is not there.

But the smell of waffles permeates the air, and he is immediately awake. He fucking loves waffles. Throwing off her soft comforter, he quickly pads down the hall and down the stairs, reaching the kitchen quickly. Puck leans against the wall, appreciating the image of the woman standing in the kitchen, in those shorts and that tank top. Her hair is, he notices, braided haphazardly. Is it crazy that even barely awake, this woman manages to make shit stir within him?

"Mmm." Rachel hums in appreciation when she feels arms wrap around her. "Morning."

"This is almost better than if you woke me up for round two, baby." Puck smirks into her neck when she elbows him in the stomach. It's cute that she thinks that's supposed to hurt him. "Waffles, huh?"

He sees the corner of her mouth lift from his vantage point. "Yes, waffles. Perhaps not the most nutritious, and despite you eating breakfast last night - or early this morning - I felt the urge to make them."

He laughs lowly into her shoulder, skimming his lips over the smooth, unblemished skin, feeling her twitch in his arms. "Baby, I am in no way complaining. You keep cooking and I'll keep eating."

She rolls her eyes at him. "Do not think this will become a habit, Noah Puckerman."

Puck smirks. "Whatever you say. Where's your coffee pot?"

"Sit down and I'll make you some. There's a newspaper on the table if you wish to peruse through it."

"…if that means go ahead and read it, then okay."

He feels her chuckle vibrate through his chest - the fact that it makes him smile worries him - before taking a seat at her table.

A guy could get used to this.

He doesn't see her again until Monday morning. He wishes he could lie and say he didn't think about her since he left her house Saturday evening, but when he gets home (to a tearful lecture from his mother about how he could have been lying in a ditch for all she knew and why didn't he call her to let her know he was safe? Then she holds him, running a hand absentmindedly over his 'hawk, and he apologizes; his mother is shocked, but pats him on the cheek and tells him that she loves him, and if anyone ever calls him a mama's boy he'll rearrange their goddamn face. He just doesn't want his ma to hurt anymore, okay?) to a bed that smells like him and not like Rachel's soap…

…it just feels wrong.

Then he spends the rest of the weekend wondering about just what in the everloving fuck that means.

By Monday he still doesn't know - he just knows he wants to see more of her.

Puck thinks he may have to track Rachel down, convince that what happened Friday night and Saturday morning wasn't a mistake, that he's never reacted that way to anyone else and that he doesn't want anyone else to touch her, taste her, the way he has.

Then he reminds himself to kindly back the fuck up, because that thought right there? Not cool.

He goes in early (see the shit he does for her?) and goes to where he knows she'll be - the choir room. She's there, of course, tinkering around on the piano, playing a soft medley that makes him want to close his eyes and be right back with her in her bedroom.

"Hello, Noah."

It somehow doesn't surprise him that she knows he's there - Rachel Berry is an oddly perceptive woman.

"I was thinking, this weekend, after you left -" He stops her right fucking there because he gets the ugliest feeling that she's about to tell him how it was a mistake, how she will not be his crutch.

"I want this weekend to happen again. Repeatedly. And I know you fucking want it, too, Berry, so don't you dare try and fucking fight it, with those big words of yours that you know confuse the hell out of me."

The music stops when Rachel stands. He's still standing in the doorway, chest heaving, watching her a little anxiously as she walks over to him, the expression on her face unreadable, for the first time ever.

Then she stands on her toes and kisses him, pressing her lips against him so hard it almost makes him breathless. He reaches up and cups the back of her head, fingers sliding into her hair while his other arm brings her harder against him. He feels her gasp so he takes advantage, naturally, slipping his tongue in; he nearly comes undone when she moans.

Rachel finally has the good sense to pull away, something he's thankful for, because if not he's going to wind up fucking her right here against this wall, the possibility of them getting caught be damned.

"I thought I told you Friday night how much I want you, Noah. Not just that one night."

He almost kicks his own ass when he recalls that particular fact. He could have just avoided looking like a total asshole if his memory hadn't fucking failed him. Still, Rachel's giggling lightly against his chest, and not as in laughing at him, so he guesses it doesn't completely suck.

"Somethin' funny, B?" He breathes into her ear, licking the shell of it, and is rewarded with another moan. He is so the man.

"Noah." He shifts away from her so he can see her face, a smirk arising on his features at her glassy eyes and flushed cheeks. "My house. 7 o'clock tonight."

Giving him a coy little smile that has him shifting uncomfortably around his constricting jeans, Rachel breaks his hold on her and leaves the room.

If he isn't careful, Rachel freaking Berry (no, seriously, what kind of alternate reality is he living in? Puck doesn't chase the tail, the tail chases him; not only that, but he is chasing after Rachel fucking Berry. He feels that that fact is important enough to be repeated twice.) is going to make him pull a Finn in his pants.

His badass rep has already been shot to hell after the whole Whoops, Sorry Finn, the Baby is Actually Puck's! - he thinks if his sex god status becomes questionable next, he may just shoot himself and get it over with.

Rachel doesn't let him into her pants until a month later. He likes to think he just wore her down, but really, they both knew he didn't want to force her into giving up her virginity. (After all, he really hadn't expected Quinn to still be a virgin when he gave her all those wine coolers. He will not make the same mistake twice.)

"That," he breathes into Rachel's hair, "was fucking amazing, babe."

She laughs lightly, snuggling deeper into his warmth. "I guess those rumors were not at all simply rumors." Rachel jokes, feeling Puck inflate.

"Fuck no, I'm a stud and I do not leave my women unsatisfied."

At this, Rachel laughs out loud. "Of this I have no doubt, Noah." She groans. "I don't even know if I can move right now." She rolls her eyes and smacks Puck's chest at his leer.

"Honestly, Noah." Whatever Rachel was about to say was cut off by a yawn. Puck buries his nose further into her hair and yawns himself. Fuckin' things are contagious.

"Go to sleep, B. You can get a little more taste of my stamina tomorrow morning."

Rachel hits him anyway just because she's sure a wink accompanied that last statement.


Puck is in his room playing Halo 3 when his door opens. "Noah."

"Hold on a sec, ma, busying making these douchebags my bitches."

Puck smirks at the aggravated sigh from his mother. Then he swivels around at her next words. "Honestly, Rachel, I don't understand where he got his manners from."

Rachel laughs freely. "Don't fret, Mrs. Puckerman, Noah has a heart of gold, he's just a little rough around the edges."

His mother beams at Rachel like the sun shines out of her ass. Which, as he watches his mother's eyes flit to the Star of David necklace, she may just think it might.

'Jewish!' his mother mouths to him with delight. Puck can't tell whether to laugh or debate over whether or not throwing himself out the window will kill him - she will never let him live down this Rachel thing now. Never.

Then he's hit with a terrifying thought. What if his mother finds out he and Rachel dated? Man, not even those awesome fuckers on CSI (that show is badass, and Puck should know, since he practically wrote the fucking book) would be able to find his body once his mother is done with him.

Aw, hell.

"I need to go to work, Noah. There's leftovers in the fridge if you want them." Puck bites back on the urge to roll his eyes - he knows there's leftovers in the fridge. Damn woman. "I'll see you when I get home." She blows him a kiss and closes the door. When she's gone, Puck focuses on the other female now in his room, quirking an eyebrow at her jean clad legs. She looks sexy as hell in them, of course (and really, when does Rachel not look hot? Even in the morning, she's adorablely rumpled - totally fuckable, he means. His dictionary does not include any other words to describe women besides sexy and hot) but jeans are a rarity.

He drops his controller when she takes her coat off and she's wearing his jersey.

Rachel. In his red jersey, with the number 20 emblazoned on the back.

She's naked and writhing beneath him not even two minutes later.

Later on he fucks her while she's still wearing the jersey. The sight of Rachel wearing his number makes him harder than a 13 year old discovering his first porno.

(He discovers that actually Rachel wearing any of his things makes him totally hot, but he refuses to explore what this may mean.)

They're laying there after a particularly intense sex session, tired and sated, when Rachel opens her mouth. "Do you think you'll ever talk to Quinn again?" She feels Noah stiffen beside her and would feel guilty at his obvious discomfort…but her curiosity wins out.

"What the fuck would I have to say to her?" Puck asks bitterly. "Thanks for being an incubator for my demon spawn, you're free to go?"

Rachel winces but plows on regardless. "It's…it's been three months since Beth, Noah, and the tension between you two is so thick one could slice it with a sharp-edged tool. Don't you believe you should…should try to forgive her?"

Puck gives her such an incredulous look one would think she suggested he went to school the next day in a Barney costume.

"Are you out of your fucking mind, Berry?" He yells, getting out of her bed and standing up. Rachel stands as well, looking at warily. "Shit, man, I always knew you were crazy, but I never thought you were stupid."

Rachel sucks in a deep breath, refusing to let his words hurt her. Right now, he is not her Noah, he is Puck. "Quinn is human as well, Noah." She says slowly. "She was doing what she believed to be right."

"Why are you in such a rush with me forgiving Quinn, huh?" He sneers, changing the topic. "You want her and I to get back together so you can hop into bed with your golden boy? So Hudson can make you scream like I can?"

"Stop it, Noah." Rachel whispers.

"Or maybe he already does. Maybe you just led me to believe you were a virgin, laughing at me while privately fucking him on the side."

The moonlight shining in from her window illuminates her glassy eyes, and it's like a punch to the stomach.

"Please leave." Her voice is nothing but a whisper, yet it carries throughout the empty room. She has never said those kinds of words to him - then again, he's never insinuated that she's a whore before.

Rachel stares at the floor while Puck shrugs on his jeans. He doesn't say anything, doesn't even make a move to apologize, merely puts on his clothes and leaves, slamming both her bedroom and front door.

Rachel waits until she hears the sound of his truck rumbling away from her house before she sinks to the ground and cries.

She won't look at him the next day. She refuses to hide from him, refuses to let him see how much he's hurt her, so she marches past him in the hallways, eyes focused straight ahead.

He wants to tell her those two words, but they're stuck to the roof of his mouth, oozing back in this throat, choking him. He had once told her that he was sorry; why can't he do it again?

'Because this time, dude, you majorly fucked up. This time, you broke her heart.' He thinks to himself venomously.

He stops dead at the sight of Finn at Rachel's locker. They're talking, but not standing close to each other. Finn says something and smiles, and Puck knows instantaneously that Rachel gives him an answering smile. Finn glances down at his watch, sees the time, and he must excuse himself, because he gives Rachel a wave and jogs away.

Puck watches as Rachel's fingers go up to clinch her nose, then tiredly rub at her eyes. She doesn't notice he's there, feet away from her, because her class is right by her locker, so he's given this chance to simply…look at her. (Fuck, dude, may as well hand in your man card right now, cause this chick has got you by your balls, bro.)

Rachel closes her locker and heads to class. Puck closes his locker and heads to his truck.

He's got some thinking to do.

It's like a scene from Puck's worst nightmare.

His ex-girlfriend and his baby momma living in the same house? Fuuuuuck his life.

He almost digs in the back of his truck for his cup, cause he knows Mercedes won't go soft on him and will go for the jugular, so to speak.

Puck takes a deep breath, mans the fuck up, and gets out of his truck. Moses must be smiling down at him, because Mercedes' mom opens the door. "Hi." She greets, smiling faintly, though she looks confused. "Can I help you?"

"Hi, ma'am. Is Quinn home?" He goes the polite approach, which must work, because her mom smiles wider.

"Why yes, she is. I can go and get her for you. Would you like to come in?"

"Oh no, no thank you, I'll just wait here." Her mom merely nods and calls Quinn's name. A few moments later the female herself comes bounding down the stairs.

"Puck?" Quinn asks incredulously. He can see Mercedes' mom surveying him out of his peripheral vision (the woman is obviously up-to-date on his and Quinn's baby drama) but she doesn't intervene.

"Can we, uh, can we go somewhere?" Puck doesn't think he's ever heard himself be so unsure. Neither has Quinn, because she's searching his eyes.

"Okay." She says after a beat of silence. "Mathilda, I'll be okay." She smiles back at the woman behind them. Mercedes' mom nods and closes the door.

They wind up driving over to the park, where Puck parks his truck and they sit in there, staring out at the scenery in front of them. Puck is watching a little girl with hair the color of sunlight climb the steps of the jungle gym, giggling, when Quinn breaks the silence.

"I wanted her too, you know." She says quietly. There is heartbreak in her voice, and Puck flinches. "I felt her move inside of me for nine months, felt her kick inside of me. She was a part of me for nine months. I wish I could tell you that they were the longest months of my life, but…I had her with me. As she grew in me, she grew on me. I didn't want to let her go."

"Then why did you." Puck's voice is emotionless, his eyes following a dark-haired little boy who is just learning how to swing; his father is teaching him how to push himself.

"We are sixteen years old, Puck. We haven't even finished high school yet; we're not even friends. We're not financially ready for a baby; not even close." Quinn inhales shakily. "I love her just as much as you. I want her to always be happy, to have everything she's ever wanted. That's why I had to let her go. We could love her as much as humanly possible, Puck, but we would never have enough money to take care of her. Eventually we'd begin to fight over it. Big, ugly fights. Do you really want her to be witness to that?"

Her voice breaks at the end of her sentence and Puck can tell she's crying. He stares out the driver's seat window so Quinn doesn't see his tears.

"I miss her." He says gruffly. He's still staring out the window when Quinn leans her head against his shoulder; he feels her tears soaking into his shirt.

"Me too." She whispers brokenly. "But at least we know that wherever she is, she's loved. That someone's taking care of her, providing her all the things we couldn't. And…I asked the Smiths if…when they tell her that she's adopted, they'll tell her all about us, how much we love her and how it hurt to give her up, but that what we did was for the best."

Quinn sniffles and Puck wipes his eyes discreetly. "I also asked the Smiths if…if Beth ever wanted to contact us, if that would be okay."

Puck's head turns towards Quinn so fast he's sure he gets whiplash. He had no idea she had done that. She offers him a weak smile. "It happened after you left. I knew you were going to go drink yourself into oblivion -"

"Which I did." he interjects, and she gives a watery laugh.

"Yes, well, I had a feeling you would. I knew then that I couldn't just leave things like that. She's our daughter, too."

"What did they say?"

"They agreed."

Puck almost can't believe his ears. He almost doesn't want to hope that he may one day talk to Beth, maybe even see her again. That'll he'll be able to explain in person how his life is connected to hers. How her very existence has irrevocably changed him forever. How no matter how far apart they are, and how much time passes, he loves her.

Quinn holds Puck as his chest vibrates with the tears he later won't admit to shedding.

They sit there until the sun begins to dip below the horizon. "Quinn?"


"Thank you." Thank you for our daughter. Thank you for coming here. Thank you for giving Beth a chance at knowing me.

"You're welcome." Quinn doesn't acknowledge the weight of the thank you, but they both know it's there.

Just like that, the poison between he and Quinn is gone.

Now he just has to clear the air with another important female in his life.

Puck is still debating what to do over the Rachel issue while he takes his daily nap in the nurse's office. She hasn't looked at him for the past three days, hasn't even acknowledged his existence. He knows he deserves it, after everything he said to her.

He still hasn't figured it out by the time Glee rolls around. Before, watching Finn and Rachel practice choreography hadn't bothered him (much) because he knew who she was going home with, whose name she would be moaning out later.

Not, of course, that he thinks her and Finn will just jump right into the sack now that their (what? They hadn't been dating, so he can't say that they broke up) mutually beneficial relationship has been pushed to the backburner, but watching Finn and Rachel circle each other, smiling as the song choreography dictates makes him want to put his fist through the nearest wall.

Through the entire practice, Rachel doesn't look him in the eye; if she must, she stares at a point over his shoulder. He mentally begs her to look at him (which is fucking embarrassing; he feels like a damn woman) but not once do those doe-brown eyes flit to his.

She hauls ass out of the practice room like a bat out of hell once practice is over. Mr. Schue is frowning at the door, everyone else raises their eyebrows at her erratic behavior, but he can feel Quinn's eyes piercing his back. Damn that woman and her Spidey-senses.

He doesn't look back at her, merely follows after Rachel (what? Practice is over). He goes to her house, where he's pleased to realize that not only is she home, there's no other car in the driveway but hers.

'Where r u?'


'Im outside.'

'I fail to see how this is relevant, Noah.'

'Come outside.'

'Why should I?'

'Plz, Rach.'

He waits anxiously for a few minutes. Finally he watches her front door swing open and Rachel comes out. She walks over to the driver's side of his truck, where his window is rolled down, and crosses her arms, staring him down. "Well? What was your purpose in calling me down here? I am very busy and must start warming my vocal cords for my MySpace video."

"Will you go somewhere with me?" He asks her quietly. It feels like it's been forever since he last looked her in the eyes.

There is a very pregnant pause of silence. Rachel swivels her eyes on his face, but her expression is completely neutral. For once he cannot tell what she's thinking.

"Fine." She finally agrees. "Let me just go collect some of my belongings and then we will be on our way."

He can tell Rachel's anxious and feeling out of her element because she's reverted back to using big words. Not as large as the words she used when Puck went to her house after Beth's birth, of course (orated? Who the hell even uses that word anymore?) but tension lines every part of her body and that is truly telling. Maybe there's hope.

When she comes back (after carefully locking her front door) she now has a purse with her. "I want to be prepared for any unexpected happenings that get thrown my way." She says by way of explanation when she gets in the car. He can't help it when he mentally wonders if she's got condoms in that little purse of hers, or if that's just his wild imagination. (Probably. He's lucky she agreed to even this - it'd be too much to hope that he could get any sexin' from her so soon.)

He takes her to a little Mediterranean restaurant and when she orders an organic salad, he orders one as well. Her eyebrows nearly meet her hairline; he thinks they even go up higher, if possible, when their food arrives not too soon afterward and she watches him choke it down.

"Noah…why would you order it if you do not enjoy it?" She almost hates herself for her curiosity (painfully remembers the last time she was curious about the inner workings of his mind - she must be a masochist) but can't help herself.

"Well…you're a vegan, babe." He notices the way she stiffens slightly at the term of endearment and frowns, but it's miniscule and gone in a few seconds; he doesn't think she notices. "And if that's important to you, then it's important to me. Besides, it…wasn't half-bad."

Rachel knows he's fibbing. Still, she thinks with a private, inner smile that she wishes she could crush, he's trying.

"Do…d'you have to be home soon?" He's rubbing the back of his neck, and she'd forgotten how adorable she found that move on him. She doesn't want to remember, but there it is. There he is, trying to squirm his way back into her life again. Trying to get back into her good graces by doing things he normally wouldn't do just because she likes them.

"No." She tells him softly. "Dad and Daddy took today and tomorrow off and went to go see the Indians game tonight; they're staying overnight in a hotel and returning home tomorrow evening."

He wants to file that information back into the recesses of his mind but refuses to. 'Don't even fucking go there, Puckerman. Don't fuck this up.'

"Would you like to go see a movie with me?" He is leaving this entirely up to her. She is free to say no and he would take her home. His consideration makes something warm blossom in her chest, and against her wishes, she smiles at him.

"Alright." She agrees.

He drives out of the city limits and takes her to a drive-in, where they are showing The Wizard of Oz.

"Oh, Noah." Rachel whispers. Both of them are stunned when she kisses him on the cheek, but she doesn't regret it. This whole day has been undeniably sweet of him; a side rarely ever seen. He's pulling out all the stops for her.

"Just so we're clear," Puck grumbles as he pulls his body back into the car, two waters and some candy in his hand from the concession stand, "I'm still a badass."

But he still holds her hand throughout the entire movie. He doesn't even try anything, just interlaces their fingers and runs his thumb over her knuckles occasionally. His hand is still in hers when the movie is over and they're driving home.

"Noah?" He grunts to show he's listening. "Thank you for today. I had a wonderful time." He glances over at her, her face highlight by the headlights of the cars on the other side of the road as well as the road lamps, and can't imagine his life without this girl. It's almost frightening how well she blends into it, how effortlessly she's wedged herself into his everyday thoughts.

"It's no problem, Rach." He isn't looking at her, but when she squeezes his hand a little, he squeezes back.

Rachel feels almost sad when he pulls up to her house. "Goodnight, Noah."

"Night." He echoes back, watching as she slides off her seat and lands gently on the curb. She turns and waves, waiting until his taillights have turned the corner before heading inside.

Puck is home for approximately ten minutes before his phone buzzes.

'Come over.'

He needs no further pushing. He makes it to her house in five minutes, breaking a few speeding laws, but he's been without her for far too long. The door swings open when he's on the doorstep and Rachel's pulling him inside, her lips mashing against his. He fists her hair in his fingers and kicks the door behind him, both of them stumbling over to her living room couch.

"Oh god, Noah." She moans, arching against him. Puck is reminded of the last time they were in this position - and more acutely, how it ended - and he slows down. The look Rachel shoots him when he does this would make a lesser man fall at her feet, but Puck can't continue before he says his piece.

Noah Puckerman, interrupting some seriously hot (and way overdue) makeup sex to talk about his feelings? Good god, it's like he doesn't even know who he is anymore.

Then he looks down at Rachel, half-naked and beautiful and waiting for him, and remembers just how worth it this is.

"Wait, Rachel." Her hand stops crawling up his thigh - it's rare that he calls her by her full name. Normally it's B or Berry (or, more recently, Rach) but hardly ever Rachel.

"What is it, Noah? This had better be important, because -"

"I just…I fucking want to be with you. Like, I wanna fucking hold your goddamn books for you and walk you to class and have you on my arm again and have you wear my number out in public and at our shit-awful football games and see you in my fucking sweatshirt around school and I definitely do not want the freaking Gentle Giant sticking it in you, because that shit? Is my job and my job alone." Holy freaking word vomit, Batman.

A smile spreads slow like molasses across Rachel's face. "Noah Puckerman," she teases, "are you saying you want to be my boyfriend?"

Puck rolls his eyes. "Don't make a big deal out of this, woman. Like I said before, I'm still a badass. Just because I want you to be my girl doesn't mean I won't continue to rule this school with an iron fist."

Rachel laughs, hands sliding up and removing Puck of his shirt. He nearly loses all train of thought when her fingers begin to play with his nipple ring. "Naturally." She tells him. "Now…can we make up for our lost time?"

And make up he does. Several times that night, and the next day. Both of them call in sick to school, as they're feeling, cough cough, unwell.

Needing to crawl down Rachel's trellis that afternoon because her dads arrive home early?

Totally worth it.