A/N: Hyperventilating. Hyperventilating. These spoilers are making me so worried/excited. Thanks to sweydie for helping me with the plot and soo for being my wonderful muse. And to Awakening by Mae for being an awesome song. The lyrics will make their appearance fittingly at the end. Ignore the spelling errors. I wrote this late at night, all night, and all mistakes are my own. Cheers!
Momentum can be expressed as the force propelling an object.
And as an object must move on with its momentum,
so must people in this life.
It's about accepting the past - loving the past -
and not regretting the mistakes, trials, and tribulations of years before.
It's about moving on to another tomorrow,
and being okay with all your yesterdays.
There are many stories here, of past, present, and future.
Neither of them are very important, but he remembers them all in great detail. Each moment, each breath, each word. He can recite it to you, plain as day, as if it's only happened just hours before. He can spend years telling you the tales the way he remembers them - and he would, if someone would wait long enough for him to tell it. He has them forever embedded in his memory. And neither are significant or important - as you well know - but each means something to him, a little bit of a something; it's so tiny, that something, that it could be a nothing. But he remembers them all and he knows them all, and he dreams them all.
There are many, many stories here, each more bittersweet than the last.
Puck will gladly tell you each of them.
The first story starts with a little boy in the fourth grade. And he was this boy (but things change, and so has he). He was this young and sometimes misguided young boy, with short-cropped hair and a perpetual sneer perfectly placed on his face. He was far too young and far too rash and far too foolish.
The story truly begins with a little girl. She is the start to every tale, a means to the end. She is young, too, but not nearly as foolish and not nearly as rash - and she is certainly very guided.
He's kicking mulch and she's saving tiny lizards who have been left on the ground, methodically bending down to pick up the little creatures and place them gently on a branch. It might as well be a Discovery Channel special; she's acting as a rescuer to the weak and essentially defenseless animals, and he's the litterer that's destroying their habitat. They have not yet spoken but it's still like they're fighting a private battle.
He's kicking mulch and stomping on bugs and killing innocent life-forms when she stomps over (he says "stomp" in the most subjective way; she is carefully picking her way through the mulch, just in case she accidentally steps on a bug) to him with a lizard cradling gently in her palm.
"Look," she says. She's shy and has a limited vocabulary (he remembers this fondly) but there is little else she needs to stay. She uncups her hand and reveals the tiny little creature inside, his sides heaving with fear and his eyes wild. She doesn't appear to notice she's doing any harm.
He stops kicking the mulch and instead raises a questioning brow to her, and he is young, too, so he says nothing and continues to give her a look, as if wondering why she was even speaking to him. "It's a lizard." So what? It's a lizard. He's seen a lot of lizards.
Her eyes shine (he recalls this detail with a smile). "Isn't it so cute?" she sighs. "Like a puppy, or - or a baby." She cradles it again, like a mother nurturing its child.
He is young, and he is rude, and he is foolish, so he snorts and says, "Babies are ugly. Just like you and that stupid lizard."
And he thinks it'll make her cry, and that maybe she'll kick him in the shins, or she'll tell the teacher, but she simply looks at him, as if she is bored. She stares for a long time (she says nothing) and then, finally: "You're a mean boy." There is no hurt in her eyes or on her face or even in her words. She simply says it because it is so.
She walks off, still swaying the precious lizard in her palm.
Things have changed a little in his next story.
They're a little older but not by much, and he's still crass and rude and almost heartless. She's not. She's the same, she always will be - innocent and nice and nurturing. But she's not strong, not yet. He is.
In the eighth grade there's a dance for the end of the year, and they call it prom to make the "graduating" eighth graders feel special, but really it's just a lame dance in the school cafeteria. He's not that good of a dancer (this changed, too, he says with a smile) so he doesn't want to go, but he's dragged along by Santana Lopez, the girl he's currently trying to sleep with. At the front door, there are prom photos being taken, and he dodges them stealthily, because no one likes getting their picture taken.
But he sees her then.
And she's still young, and he's still young, and she's weak and he isn't. They're pretty opposite at the moment.
But what he does see is that she's alone. The way her shoulders slump miserably makes him feel pity, just a little, and he's not a nice guy but he thinks he should do something to help. They've never been friends and won't be now, but he ends up ditching Santana and hurrying over to her.
"What do you want?" She tries to come off strong but she isn't, and he doesn't blame her.
He grins at her, wide and fake and laughing. "Wanna dance?"
She scoffs and shrugs him off but her eyes give away her longing.
He drags her out onto the dance floor with him, despite her pleas, and they do dance. She's not very good and neither is he, but he gives an effort (he always tries for her, he remembers). She doesn't want to be there with him, and that's just fine; for the time being they are simply convenient to each other's presence.
"Thank you." She whispers this into his ear, but he barely hears it, and decides it would be better if he pretends he hadn't heard it at all.
His third story is much longer but it's all the more sweeter.
He's older (he's not wiser) and smarter (he's still not smart). He's still a boy and she's still a girl - they haven't quite reached the stage where it's okay to call themselves older than what they are. She's innocent and he's growing out of his, clutching on helplessly to the last of it, because he's scared to let go. He doesn't know what to do when it's all gone.
She's sober and he's tipsy. It's freshmen year (it's just high-school, they're just kids, he remembers). The story will always begin with her.
"Are you drunk?"
He grins at her. "Not yet."
This is the stage where they aren't friends but they aren't not friends. It takes a lot of effort to explain what they are. They're not friends (he recalls this with a frown), but they're acquaintances, and they can talk to each other, but neither has important things to say. They're just friends by default.
She rolls her eyes at him. And she's less shy now, and she's less nurturing, and she's a little meaner, but not much more. "Can't you go through one new years party without getting drunk?" (There isn't concern in her voice, he makes sure to tell the listener; she's just tired of him doing stupid things.)
He's still mean and he's still rude and he's still young. "Can't you go through one party without being a total prude?" It's unfair of him to say this (but he doesn't think that then) because he knows she's there for Santana and Brittany and Finn, and they're the ones who drag her along with them, whether she wants to or not.
"I'm not a prude." She rolls her shoulders as she says this (that's always how he knows she's lying) and her eyes dart to the side. There's an uneasiness in her expression - everyone else is outside in the snow, and he's practically got her cornered.
But he's not going to hurt her (the thought never crossed his mind then) and instead cocks his head to the side. "Not a prude?" He snorts and glances up; they're standing in the doorframe in between Michael Jacobson's kitchen and living room, and with a smirk of delight, he notices a tiny green shrubbery hanging from the mantle. What a perfect moment; a score for the hometeam.
Glancing back down, he adds, "Look up, princess."
She does, and upon recognition, her eyes darken and her cheeks flush simultaneously. He'll forever remember that look. It is perhaps the turning point of their "friendship," or what isn't a friendship for them at all.
Promptly, she leans up and kisses him full on the mouth, sliding her tongue underneath his. And it's so quick, so fleeting, that he can do nothing, and all he does is stand there dumbstruck when she pulls away.
And she smiles. "Not a prude," she sings triumphantly.
He simply stares.
"I'm going to find Finn." Her smile widens into a grin, as if she shares a secret no one knows. "Goodbye, Puck."
Just like that, she turns and walks away.
(It's the first time she surprises him but he doesn't know that it won't be the last.)
They are both reasonably sober in the fourth story in this collection (he is adamant on this; no one was drunk, especially not her). It's sophomore year and they're only a little older, except much less innocent.
She invites him over and he doesn't know why she does, so he brings wine-coolers out of habit. He's not expecting anything more but a rerun of the Christ Crusaders and total indifference from her for the rest of the night. What else would he think?
He'll skip past how he got there, but he ends up in her bed with his hands halfway up her skirt and his mouth attached to her neck. Her cheeks are red with the remnants of her tears and she wails into his ear, "I'm so fat," and he's simply a guy so he says, "Shut up, no, you aren't." And his lips are on hers again and she's saying nothing, just allowing him to do what he does best.
She's pliant and quiet then, and it's a surprise to him (it's not the first time she's surprised him).
He's not good at comforting girls (who would expect him to be?) but he sleeps with her and, hey, it stops her from crying, doesn't it? It's not the best solution but it's a solution, and it's effective. And he doesn't even think about Finn and what he's doing, because all he knows is that she's crying and he has to stop it, so he does.
(She stops crying and instead starts crying his name, and the room will be forever stained with the smell of his cologne and the sound of his name.)
Surprise. She's pregnant.
But this isn't the fifth story, this is simply an interlude into what is to come.
She moves in with him.
But this is far along in the future, after she told Finn and after Finn told him, and after glee club found out the truth and after Finn found out the truth. All the secrets are out now and Finn has likely kicked her out of his house (can't blame him, really). So she sits in his truck after school and he says nothing, just drives her to his house and quietly lets his mother know she'll be staying there.
Everything happens rather simply.
They aren't together (not yet) but they bicker enough to be a married couple. Somewhere along the line, one of them decides it was a bad idea for her to move in, and they both decide she should move out. But she doesn't, because he doesn't quite want her to leave and she has nowhere to go.
They sleep in separate beds and they dress in separate rooms and it's almost like living with a new, adopted sister.
(Except one that he desperately wants to bone if it weren't for the fact that she is already carrying his child.)
The night she moves out, he tries desperately to get her to stay. This is the sixth story.
They might as well call themselves divorced, keep up the charade of a couple even when they aren't.
He sees the bags during dinner and is itching to say something about it, but she won't look at him and he doesn't want to cause a scene in front of his mother. It's only afterwards, when she is combing her hair rhythmically in the mirror in his room, does he say something.
"So," and his eyes are dark and won't look at her, "you're leaving?"
He leaves out a lot of things. He should continue on with his thought process, let her know that he doesn't want her to leave, that things are better when she's around, that he just... wants her to stay. He'll promise not to curse around her and he'll do whatever she needs for the baby and he'll -
But he doesn't say any of that. He's not good with words, he never has been; it'll all come out a jumbled mess and it would probably make her even angrier.
She stops combing her hair and gently places the brush on the table beside her. For a long moment, she doesn't answer. Then, finally: "Mercedes offered me a place at her house. I'm going there." It's a simple response, a plausible answer to an honest question. "I really can't take it here much longer." She stands then, rising from the chair to tie her hair in a knot. (He recalls that she doesn't quite look at him right away.)
He frowns. "What did I do?"
"Nothing." She still isn't looking at him, which means she's lying, because he always knows when she's lying. Her shoulders shrug just a little, her eyes avert his, and she fidgets uncomfortably with her hands. "I just don't think I should stay here any longer."
She doesn't answer this time and swiftly shrugs her bags onto her shoulders, brushing past him to the door. She seems unconcerned with leaving, as if, perhaps, it's just another day in the life of being her. But he can't let her go (that was his mistake the first time) so he follows her just as quickly.
He stops her at the door. "Wait."
She holds in a breath (he can see it in her eyes: she's afraid) and attempts to push past him, and he doesn't know what else to do to make her stay, so he leans down to kiss her. He's not someone who knows how to express what he wants in words, so he instead conveys it through physical touch.
Her bags drop to the floor. "You can't just do that," she sighs quietly, jerking her head away. "Don't just kiss me if you want to tell me something."
"Stay." It's all he needed to say, anyway.
But she contradicts herself plainly by shrugging her shoulders slowly and picking her bags up again. Outside, he sees a car parked in the driveway, its lights gleaming through the shrubbery. "I'm sorry, Puck."
She isn't. He can read it in her eyes, hear it in her voice, see it in the way she walks away.
(He's never promised these stories to be nice.)
Long story short, she gives their baby up.
It's only fair that it's her decision, though his throat burns and his heart aches at the thought. He hadn't been attached to the creature until he'd seen it - her, Beth- in her arms, all perfect and pink and beautiful. And he's always heard of that crazy feeling fathers get, that warmth that seeps into their heart when they see their child - he'd never thought it'd happen to him. But he feels warm when he looks at her. He feels... protective.
But, it's her decision, and she decides not to keep a baby. They can't raise a baby (he wants to but he knows they can't). They'll break it and hurt it and they'd be terrible parents, enough to warrant their child a spot on Maury in fifteen years. They aren't going to be good parents and at least they accept it.
So they won't keep their baby.
"I'm sorry," she tells him later. There's enough emotion in her voice for him to know she means it (and this is the beginning of this seventh story).
He's uneasy about answering, because he could hurt her, and now that everything's in the open - "Did you love me?" - he doesn't want to ruin anything. He's far too good at ruining things, and he'd only do worse with her. He contemplates his words heavily, and then decides to go with a simple, "It's okay."
She tries a smile (he recalls it being a blatant fake) but says nothing more, her sad and dull eyes staring past him into the window where Beth resides, curled in her downy blanket. She forces herself to turn around and keep walking (he watches, he knows).
When they're walking that dark corridor, he takes her hand.
You're not alone, he says imploringly, urging her to see the promise in his eyes, the truth in his heart.
But he doesn't say a thing.
This is his favorite story.
It's graduation (perfect). She's his (even better). It's them against the world, facing the future head-on. They've both made their applications together and they're headed to a university upstate; it's as if everything is working for them. Their luck won't seem to run out.
They call her name for valedictorian speech (if anyone has handled struggles in high school, it's her).
She shares a smile with him - so tiny, so little, it could be missed if he had not been looking for it. Their future is a mysterious place, an unknown world, but they'll make it through together. And that's their hope. That's their dream.
It's sweltering hot outside but he meets her gaze and it's as if he's drowning in cool water.
But all good things must come to an end.
(He doesn't remember this story too well.)
He remembers it vaguely, in a smoky haze; he is at a party of some sorts. It must be a fraternity party. There's booze and weed and more booze, and he's drunk, he's totally smashed. He can't go back to the apartment because he's too drunk to drive. That's what he remembers.
He vaguely remembers calling her up, slurring his words and not making complete sense. He says something like, "Come get me," and it's late, it's too late for her to have to drive there. But she does because she's done it before, she's done it far too many times. She's willing to take that risk.
He remembers staggering into the car. He doesn't remember what she says, or if she says anything at all. Perhaps the ride is silent. He doesn't have an inkling of knowing.
He remembers dropping onto the bed with a muffled groan; he remembers the silence of the room.
He doesn't remember exactly what's going on, but he recalls warm breath against his forehead and the smell of magnolias and coconut (her favorite perfume). He recalls, in short detail, a kiss to his forehead and words whispered into his ear.
He thinks she could have said something beautiful, but he'd never know.
He only fully remembers waking up to an empty bed, an empty closet, an empty dresser. Everything is so empty and cold and lifeless. He stays in that day, nursing his hangover and silently wishing she'd come back.
(She doesn't come back.)
He writes her letters.
The thing is, about letters, is you don't know if they actually reach the person or if they simply aren't writing back.
You don't know if they're replying and those replies are lost in the mail; you don't know.
But to pretend that the mail system is faulty - and there is no other reason - is to be in denial. He writes her exactly seven letters and sends them under a course of seven weeks to her parent's home in Lima. He figures that even if he doesn't know where she is, her parents will be sure to deliver those letters.
But the letters are never replied to. She never writes back.
And after seven letters, he quietly moves out of town and drops out of college, starting an endless roadtrip across the nation (he's not searching for her; he's rather searching for a way to be himself when she's not around).
Just seven letters.
(One for each thing he'd done wrong everyday of the week. One for each thing that drove her away.)
He begins doing gigs in different parts of America for the rest of his life.
It's the one thing that keeps him sane.
He's still traveling, still searching, but he doesn't know what he's looking for. She's nowhere to be found. And even if he spent the rest of his years looking for her all over the country, he wouldn't find her. If she wanted him to find her, she'd leave him clues, give him something to go after. But every last trace of her is gone. She could be dead, rotting away under the ground, and he wouldn't know.
He travels across the nation in his truck, never staying in a town for too long; just long enough to scrounge up some money and be off on his merry way again.
One night, when he's giving an impromptu show at some country club somewhere, he's discovered by a record dealer.
One night, he goes from virtually homeless to a man with a future.
(The first thought that flits through his head is not that he could be rich, or he could be famous. The first thought that rises in his mind is that perhaps, one day, she'd come and see him. See what he'd become. Know that he had changed.)
(But he's simply a dreamer.)
When I close my eyes
To this paradox place
I'll fly away
Far away from here
I get away and dream
Dream of you
Each day is more hectic than the last. He travels even more now, but rather than his rusty truck and a McDonalds bag, he rather flies international under the name of Noah Puckerman (there is no more Puck, not anymore) and with his guitar. He's had a few hit singles; an album or two with critic reviews; he's done well for himself, becoming an international one-man-band. It only took him a couple years.
He flies frequently now, carrying nothing with him except for his guitar, his agent, and a passport when needed.
It is on a February night in 2018 that he's sitting in a New York airport, waiting in line for a terminal, when he sees her.
It's a quick, fleeting view of her. Blonde hair, green eyes, and carrying suitcases in her hands. For a moment, all he can do is stare, his heart skipping several beats, his eyes wide and incredulous, his very body numb with realization that he's found her. He's found her.
He's spent nearly six years looking for her, searching for her in the crowd, searching her name in Google, anywhere, for a glimpse at her. He's been looking for her for too long, far too long, and suddenly she presents herself to him, looking no different than she had when they were nineteen.
For the tiniest second, her eyes meet his. For the smallest sliver of a moment, she registers his face, understands who he is.
He doesn't move. His entire body is so cold. He fears he'd break into a million shards of ice if he merely twitched at all, so all he can do is stare, and watch, and wait, breathless, for what she does.
In a moment, a terminal opens up and a crowd of returning passengers swallow her up in their tide, monotonously moving on as if they are unaware they've stolen something precious from him. He abandons all logic, all thoughts of his upcoming flight, and chases after the crowd, watching the endless sea for her face, her hair, her eyes.
The crowd is gone and so is she.
Within a moment, everything is taken from him.
(He will tell you many things, but he will never be able to explain to you the depths of his disappointment in that moment.)
When it's all said and done
And the night has come
Take flight on the wind of wishing you were here
Like a star whose life has been gone for years
It's not long afterwards that he receives a letter in the mail. He doesn't want to know how she got his address; he doesn't care to know. Truthfully, the only thought in his head is that she knew where he had lived all those years. Never called, never wrote. It leaves a sour, angry taste in his mouth.
Carefully, he unfolds the envelope, delicately smoothing the edges of the letter with his forearm, scanning over the words intensely. It's a simple, straightforward letter; it's blunt and truthful. Written in her neat, polite print, are the following words:
Please stop searching for me.
His breath stops, his heart thumps insistently. He reads on.
The past is over, Noah.
(She's never called him Noah before.)
(And there's an ache in his chest, an insistent tug to his heart; the breath is kicked out of his lungs, for how long has he searched for her? How long has he waited for her? How long has he looked for her face in the crowd, desperately read each face for the hope that one of them was her, coming to see him? How long has he agonized?)
He burns the letter, watches her neat script being devoured by greedy flames, watches each painful letter disappear into ashes.
And I'll fly
Fly across the sky
And I'll leave
Leave it all behind
If you'll be here
Here with me tonight
I'll be fine
It's been almost a decade since she methodically removed herself from his life, nearly a decade since he began his search for her.
He's found her (at last).
She's sitting so close to him, he could reach out and touch her if he wants to. She looks no different; older, wiser, meaner, perhaps. Her eyes watch him carefully, calculating his next move as she sips her coffee. She looks so indifferent, so totally without care, that he wants to break down and cry right there, right in the middle of public, in front of everyone.
"Noah," she begins.
It infuriates him to no end that she won't call him by the only name she's ever known him by. "You can still call me Puck, you know." It's such a rude and crass way to correct her; regret drips down his tongue, but he refuses to say a thing.
She pauses. "Puck..." A hesitation. He breathes in the sweet air around him, welcoming its cleansing powers. "You need to... let it go." She appears to choose each word slowly, precisely, exact. Her eyes don't meet his (a lie, a blatant lie, he wants to call her out on it).
But he doesn't. "Why?" he whispers. It's a challenge. He's daring her to tell him it meant nothing to her; he's provoking her into telling the truth, revealing the only truth she's been living by. But she's not honest, and he's not intimidating enough for her. "Quinn, I've searched for you for -"
"Too long," she interrupts. "It's unhealthy." She purses her lips. "You need to find a wife, Puck. You need to settle down, stop -"
"Are you married?" He feels as if the mere words could cut him to bits.
But her eyes are honest and truthful and, though they seem full of regret, they are firm, they are determined. "Yes, Puck," she tells him carefully. "I'm married." Absently, she slides her hand underneath the table, unwilling for him to see the wedding band glistening on her finger.
His lungs are crumpling now; it's hard to breathe. "Okay." Breathe in, breathe out. As long as he can still breathe...
She looks away uneasily. "I should go." She glances down at the ground, the ceiling, the wall, everything and anywhere but at him, as if she can't bear to see what she's done. "I-I really need to go." She rises to her feet, slinging her bag over her shoulder.
"No," he breathes. "No, wait." And before she can leave him again, he grasps her hand.
She doesn't move. It's not fair, he wants to wail. It's not fair. They were the ones that were supposed to get married. They were the ones with the future together. They were the ones that have the history, the love, the past, the everything. It was always supposed to be them.
In a swift movement, before he can react, she leans down to press a soft kiss to his forehead, a nurturing, kind gesture. Out of habit, he inhales her scent - magnolia and coconut, just as he's always remembered.
He doesn't say anything more (neither does she).
He simply watches as she walks away.
Take flight on the wind of wishing you were here
Like a star whose life has been gone for years
There are many stories Puck will tell you, and in great detail.
He will tell you the story of a young, misguided boy with a perpetual sneer and a hatred even for the tiniest creatures. He will tell you the story of a little girl who loves everything, including those who don't love her. He will gladly and fondly tell you the story of a crying teenager and a boy who attempts to put the pieces back together, but only succeeds in making the mess bigger. He will sourly tell you the story of a girl who gives up a baby wrapped in pink. He will tell you the story of a love gained and a love lost. He will tell you the story of a search that took a decade. He will tell you the story of how he loved a girl, lost a girl, and lost her again.
But there is one story he will not tell you.
He will not tell you that their story ends here.
He will not tell you that the last time he sees her really is the last time he sees her. He won't tell you that he catches a glimpse of her in an airport in London; he won't tell you that his heart stops just from seeing her.
He will not tell you that her arms were wrapped around another man.
There are many things Puck has told you. There are few things he's left out. And even more, there are the littler stories that he's forgotten himself. He will not tell you this, though. He will not tell you the end of their story.
But I will gladly tell you how it ends.
The end of their story is here:
He sees an angel with blonde hair and green eyes with a laugh and a smile shining on her face. He sees a love lost and a love gained and a love lost all over again, arms wrapped around the neck of a tall man in a suit. There is a ring on her finger and a future in her eyes.
He walks away from the past, the present, and the future that doesn't belong to them.
The hands of time never shift as he goes on, traveling on his endless flights, spending his days in the sky and onstage. Ah, such a thing, time is; never stop moving, never stop breathing, and find your perfect momentum.
I'll be fine
I'll be fine
I'll be fine
I'll be fine.