A/N: One of my Twitter friends gave me this prompt, and I loooved it. I finished this up recently, so here it is! It'll be six chapters total and it's totally AU.
... ... ...
He walks into the office without his usual swagger. It's Monday. He hates Mondays. Seriously. They're horseshit. Even if he works most weekends and...okay, well, every goddamn day. There's just something about a Monday that completely kills him. No amount of coffee can fix it, though he's on number two right now, jutting his chin towards his coworkers as he heads for his desk.
Shit, it's early. He also hates the days after he's come off assignment, because that means he has to go to this stupid building (which he rarely has to do; once every few weeks, usually) and sit in on a meeting and get his papers for a new assignment.
He checks his voicemail and shuffles some useless paperwork around on his desk until 8:30 when his boss calls he and his coworkers into the boardroom.
His boss is a total ballbuster. 30, arrogant, pretentious, holier-than-thou, and hot as fuck. Yeah, she's a woman. She wears power suits and walks around with her nose in the air and her dark hair spilling down her back. They used to fuck, but that was back when they were equals, before the stupid owner decided she was better suited as management and promoted her. Puck wasn't happy about that, since the two of them started working at the same time, and she got promoted over him. The money would have been nice, but he doesn't know that he'd like the actual job itself. Sucks that she called off their 'agreement' the minute she stepped behind the desk, though.
And it really sucks to have to call her Miss Lopez when he used to get to call her all sorts of nasty shit in bed, but whatever. Been there, done that, got off, got out.
"Could you at least pretend to be awake?" she asks him when he walks into the conference room. He rolls his eyes.
"'M'tired. Last assignment was a trip," he mumbles.
He sits down in one of the big leather chairs. He watches, sipping his coffee as his coworkers filter into the room. He bumps fists and does secret handshakes. These guys are his boys. Misfits and fucktards, all of them, but whatever. They're cool and they'd take a fucking bullet for him, so that's enough for him.
"Assignments," Santana says, passing out folders. "Big week."
Finn stares at his paper and rolls his eyes. "I hate this douchebag."
"He requested you. Deal with it," Santana snaps.
"Who's this chick?" Matt asks as he reads the information she's handed him in a thick folder.
"Teen star from Japan. She's huge." She doesn't usually allow much room for questions. Her paperwork is scary detailed (Puck doesn't need to know what kind of tampons the French ambassador's wife uses, thanks anyway). "Anything else?"
"Where have I heard this name?" Puck asks, searching through his folder.
"Rachel Berry?" she asks, and he nods. "She's everywhere. She practically owns New York theater right now."
Oh, great. Theater stars are the worst. Uppity bitches.
(Okay, so he's only ever had to deal with two, but they were both complete snots.)
"Why's she need a bodyguard?" he asks, narrowing his eyes at her. "What's anyone want with a fuckin' Broadway chick?"
"Read the file, Puckerman," she says over her shoulder as she walks from the room.
He rolls his eyes and flips through the pages, eyes skimming over words like single (don't care), first show at 18 (really don't care), Tony nominated (whatever), from Ohio (so's he; doesn't make her special), and stalker.
He takes the file home, reads about the things that lead her to believe she's got someone following her, and he thinks she's either delusional, or there's a really fucked up person out there who's all up in her shit.
He's going to be her bodyguard for the next three weeks, so he's pretty sure he'll learn one way or the other.
... ... ...
She doesn't think she should need a bodyguard in her own city. In fact, she hates it. She lives on the Upper West Side. She works basically non stop. She's practically never alone, and when she is, she's in her apartment, which has more security features than the freaking Pentagon, since her manager is paranoid.
But this month alone, she's appearing on Letterman and Jimmy Fallon, singing the anthem at a Mets/Yankees game, and she's attending the Tonys (nominated and crossing her fingers). This is along with her eight performances of Funny Girl. She's busy. Mike seems to think her public performances put her in a more vulnerable position and insisted she have a little extra protection for the next few weeks. (She's also got a couple days off with which she can do something on her own. Or now apparently with a bodyguard.)
She's known Mike since high school, and they came to New York together after their senior year. She was enrolled in NYU, but took an audition for Les Mis on a whim and got the part, a small supporting one, but still. NYU never happened. Mike, an incredible dancer, went to school for dance until blowing out his knee and transferring to business classes. When it came time for Rachel to require a manager, she drew up a contract and didn't give him much of a choice in the matter. She loves him like a brother. (They both laugh when people suggest they should be something more.)
She's just gotten dressed for the day - she's got to be at the theater in two hours for hair and makeup - when she hears the key turning in the lock. She doesn't even put down her coffee cup or bother to look up from the paper. Only one person has a key to her apartment.
"Rachel!" he calls out.
"Kitchen." She waits for him to enter, and she almost rolls her eyes when she sees the walking cliché of a man trailing behind him. She doesn't understand why this bodyguard has to come into her apartment at all. Can't he just stand outside the door? "Good morning," she greets politely.
(She's nothing if not polite. And she's an actress, so she's excellent at faking it if need be.)
Puck doesn't know what he was expecting, he just knows that the little black and white photo in the folder Santana (no way is he calling her Miss Lopez when he's not around her) gave him didn't do this woman justice. She's gorgeous. Like, he's actually pretty surprised. And she's tiny. Because of his job and the things he has to do, he notes that she'll fit behind him easily, and he can lift her up with ease (girl looks like she weighs about 100 pounds). But yeah...really hot. He's a professional, so whatever, he's not going to do anything, obviously. That doesn't mean he can't think it.
He extends his hand. "Noah Puckerman. You can call me Puck."
She barks out a laugh and looks at him doubtfully. Shit, he doesn't think he's going to like this woman. "I think I'll call you Noah."
"Your call," he mumbles. He glances around, peering down the hall. The place is big, decorated nicely. "How big is this place?"
"2,000 square feet," she answers, casting a look at Mike. "Why?"
"Any fire escapes? Way anyone could get in other than the front door?" Puck walks over to the living room and looks out the windows, her view straight out over the park.
"No," Rachel says. "Why are you asking these questions?"
Puck looks back at her, and he thinks that if she's going to question everything he does for the next three weeks he's not going to make it. "'S'my job. Anyone else have keys?"
Now she's getting irritated. She understands this is his job, that he needs to understand, but all she knows his his name and he's been here five minutes. She doesn't know why she expected small talk or at least an exchange of pleasantries. Maybe because any other time she's had a bodyguard (a few times in L.A. for events), they've been polite, cordial and sweet.
This man is not sweet, and as far as she can tell he has no manners to speak of. Just because he looks the way he does doesn't mean he can get away with being rude. She's almost considering having Mike call the security agency back and having them send someone else.
But then she watches this man, Noah (the name seems too nice for what she's seen from him), walk through her apartment, checking the locks on the windows and door. He's clearly no stranger to the gym. His arms are gorgeous, toned, tanned muscle. He's wearing a khaki green tee shirt that seems to drape between his shoulders. His thighs fill out his jeans and she can't help the way her eyes roam over his backside. She's...
Mike's looking at her like he's completely amused. She's blushing, because she knows she just got caught.
"Shut up," she whispers.
"I didn't say a word," Mike laughs. He shakes his head while she grabs her coffee cup again. "I've gotta run. I'm meeting Brittany for brunch so we can talk about her new gig."
"Okay," Rachel says.
"You two okay alone here?" he asks.
Puck walks back over and almost begs this dude to stay. He doesn't know what the hell to say to this woman once they're alone. This is the part of the job he hates, the first couple days before they're comfortable with one another. Mike told him she's got to go to work soon, so Puck knows that at least it won't be long before she's out of his way. He's got to scope out the theater's security systems and talk to the security guards. He's actually got a lot of shit to do.
"Yeah. We're good," Puck says, because it appears this chick wasn't going to say anything.
Rachel walks Mike to the door, and Puck watches her. She's totally gorgeous. It's kind of unreal. Her hair is long and silky, spilling down her back, and the denim shorts she's wearing are giving him a stellar view of her ass and her legs. Goddamn, she's got a pair of legs on her. He's a professional, but shit. That doesn't mean he can't look.
She doesn't say anything to him, just nods when he asks if he can look around and get a feel for the place. What is she supposed to say? It's not like he's going to be staying at her apartment or anything - thank goodness - but she figures he needs to know what he's dealing with.
And this whole stalker thing has kind of shaken her. It's not crazy and she's not necessarily scared. Well, she's not that scared. It's just unnerving. She's gotten letters and photos of herself that are not paparazzi-quality (thankfully, her fan mail address is simply a PO box). She's received flowers to her dressing room and a necklace, which Mike promptly took from her. That was the last straw that led to him hiring a bodyguard. She doesn't know if this person would ever do her any harm, but it's not exactly a risk she wants to take. Mike tends to be a little overprotective of her, since they're friends first and their working relationship tends to come second, but she figures it's not the worst thing in the world to have this man watching out for her.
"Are you done?" she asks after a while, when Noah is walking around her spare bedroom checking the windows. "I have to be at the theater, so..."
"Yeah. Right," he says. "Lead the way."
He follows her out of the apartment, watches as she turns her keys in all three locks. He looks either way down the hall (force of habit, okay?) and hits the button for the elevator.
"I usually take the stairs," she tells him, hand on hip.
She lets out a huff and glares at him. "Why not?"
"Are you capable of saying more than two words at a time?"
The elevator dings and opens in front of them, and he sticks his arm out so the door won't close until she's inside. "Nope."
She rolls her eyes, hits the button for the ground floor, and decides that Mike is trying to pay her back for any time she's acted even remotely like a diva.
It's the only reason she can think of to explain why he'd pick this man to protect her.
Noah practically barbaric. She doesn't say a word to him the entire way to the theater. She knows Mike won't believe her when she says it later, because she talks all the time, wants to know as much about as many people as possible.
She doesn't care to know a single thing about this man whose fingers are drumming on his leg as he wanders around her dressing room. With any amount of luck, he'll just blend into the background.
She steals a glance at him and wonders if it's even possible for a man who looks like that to ever blend in.
... ... ...
It's two days before he starts driving her crazy.
Two days before she starts driving him crazy, too.
He's less discrete about it.
"Are you kidding me? No."
"Noah, I need to shop. I have to get a dress for this event. Do you own a suit? You should get one. If you're coming..."
"I own a damn suit," he cuts her off. "I'm sure you own dresses. I'm not going fucking shopping."
"Well I am, and you're getting paid to follow me around, so..."
Oh, hell no.
"I'm getting paid to make sure you don't get kidnapped by your crazy ass stalker."
She narrows her eyes. It's not the first time he's talked about the stalker. She doesn't like to think about it. She doesn't like anyone bringing it up. She told him that the other day, but he doesn't seem to care about what she wants at all.
"So, you're coming with me. I'm sorry, but my life doesn't get put on hold just because I've got a shadow," she finishes.
She's walking down the sidewalk with her chin in the air and he groans and follows after her.
He doesn't want to be her goddamn shadow.
... ... ...
He kicks off his shoes somewhere in the hall of his apartment (which seems really damn small compared to her 2,000 square feet and park view) and grabs a beer before sitting down on his couch and turning on ESPN.
Shopping? Not only is it stupid, but exhausting, too. How many stores does one woman need to go in to find a dress? Isn't it a fairly simple process? Find something you like, put it on, buy it. Done.
And he can't believe he let her talk him into buying a new tie. His ties are just fine, thank you very much. But apparently this $80 Ralph Lauren or whoeverthefuck is "Infinitely better than anything you currently own, I'm sure."
God, could she be more of a stuck up bitch?
Okay, so he doesn't know her very well. They haven't spent a ton of time actually talking or anything. She's on stage like, 70 per cent of the time he's supposed to be watching her. So he stands in the wings and listens to her sing the same songs over and over again. (Well, it's been two days, but he's seen the show four fucking times, which is more than he's ever seen any show ever. He's not what you'd call a Broadway enthusiast. There was that one time he dated a dancer, but that was more 'cause she could lift her legs up over her head than because he really appreciated her talent.
He really wants to ignore his phone when it starts to ring, and he does the first time. But then it rings again and he's forced to fish it out of his pocket and actually deal with the a-hole who's calling him twice in the span of three minutes.
Finn. Of course.
"Come for a beer," Finn says. No room for argument.
Fuck that rule.
"C'mon, man. We're going to Joe's."
Puck rolls his eyes. That's where they always go. If he didn't know any better, he'd think it's the only bar in Manhattan. And yeah, the beer is cheap and the owner loves them, but Puck slept with the only hot waitress like, three weeks ago, and he doesn't want to deal with all that 'Why didn't you call me' stuff.
Or 'Why did you leave in the middle of the night' stuff, as the case may be.
"I'm good, man. Tired as fuck."
"Broadway chick taking a lot out of you?" Finn asks.
Puck does not know why he suddenly think of Rachel naked and on top of him. Weird.
"She's a piece of work," Puck says, because it sounds appropriate.
Even if the image in his head isn't.
"Alright, well listen, that's where we'll be tonight if you change your mind," Finn says. Puck sips his beer. He's not going anywhere. "And you're still coming on Friday, right?"
Puck groans. Fucking work interfering in his fucking life. The guys were supposed to go see a kick ass AC-DC (shut up) cover band on Friday. Now he's going to some fucking stupid arts gala or...whatever.
"Can't," he grumbles.
"Dude! It's Thunderstruck!"
"I know," Puck says. He's almost laughing, because it's kind of hilarious how excited Finn is. "I gotta work. There's this thing."
"She really got a stalker?" Finn asks.
Puck shrugs his shoulder. "Dunno yet. I'd rather not find out the hard way on my watch."
"Totally," Finn says. As much as they like to fuck around in their time off, they both take their jobs way seriously. "Good luck, man. Have fun."
"Fun," Puck scoffs. "$1,000 a plate dinner with a bunch of douchey rich fuckers. I'm sure I'll have a blast."
They say goodbye and hang up, and Puck turns his phone to silent. No one ever calls him anyway, except his boys and his mom. Santana used to, sometimes. Apparently actual sex was against the rules, but phone sex was totally still on the table. That shit was hot for a while, but then they both got bored and she didn't seem to agree with his assessment that they just needed to do it for real again. Bitch.
And yeah, he's got women he could call, but he really is exhausted and the last thing he wants is to have to go out (because hello, he tends not to bring women to his place, since they get all needy and shit and he's all, "okay thanks bye," as soon as the condom's in the trash). So basically, he's going to finish his beer, have a quick shower, and get his ass into bed.
Then his phone lights up again, just as he's contemplating checking out a little porn (what? he's a dude and he lives alone; guy has needs, you know?). He picks it up and sees RB on the screen next to the little mailbox telling him he has a text. What the hell could she possibly want right now, and why did he agree to let her put her number in his phone?
But then when the annoyance wears off he panics for a second, wondering if there's something wrong or whatever. It's his job. He takes it seriously.
Don't forget I have an interview tomorrow morning. Pls be here at 7:30. No later.
He tries really hard not to throw his phone against the wall.
Seven. Fucking. Thirty.
... ... ...
When they get to the theater the next day, there are daisies in her dressing room, and Rachel doesn't seem to think anything of it. She goes about dropping her bag where she always drops it and getting her costume all organized. Puck walks over to the table all her flowers and cards and teddy bears (seriously) are left, and he grabs the card from the bouquet of daisies. It's the only one he's interested in, because it wasn't there last night and the theater should have been closed until just before they arrived today.
He reads the piece of paper, and there must be something different about his face because Rachel's standing in front of him now.
"What?" she asks.
"This is from Richard." She snatches the card out of his hand and reads it. "Rachel, who would have brought these in here?"
"I...I don't know," she stutters, handing the card back to him. "Janie knows not to...I don't know."
"Think," he says seriously. Maybe this stalker thing wasn't something he should have joked about with Finn the other day. "Is there a...I dunno, a stage hand or..."
"No." She shakes her head. "No, they don't handle this kind of thing." She meets his eyes, and for the first time she actually thinks he cares about her at least a little bit. Not that he has to, he just has to do his job, but it's nice to know he's not just doing it because there's a paycheck waiting for him. "Does this mean...Was he here?"
"There's a chance," he admits. She closes her eyes and takes a breath. "Come on. We're going."
"Noah! I can't just go! I have a responsibility to the people who have paid money to see this show!" she protests.
"It's also your life, and you've got some freak writing you notes about how you looked outside your place after your show last night. You're not fucking staying here," he tells her. He grabs her arm in one hand and her bag in another.
She wrenches her arm from his hand. "Listen!" she shouts, far louder than she has to. "This person hasn't done anything to harm me, or to indicate that he would. It's just infatuation. I have a show to perform. And I'm not going to let this guy take over my life."
"Rachel, if something happens, I lose my fucking job," he says.
Shit. That sounds really selfish now that it's out in the open.
She starts unbuttoning her shirt. This is about the time he usually goes outside and stands by her door. He's going to do that, and then when she's in makeup, he's going to the security office to tear a strip off them for obviously fucking up. He's going to review security footage and see if he can catch a glimpse of whoever brought those flowers in. Maybe he's overreacting, but he doesn't really want to take the chance. If this chick wasn't so fucking stubborn, maybe it'd work out.
"I'm going on that stage, Noah," she says defiantly. She's wearing this little white tank top under her button down shirt, and he only looks, like, once. "Kindly leave so I can prepare."
"You're fucking crazy," he tells her, and he makes sure he slams the door hard behind him.
... ... ...
The show goes off without incident, and Puck most certainly is not whistling the title track of the musical while he waits outside Rachel's dressing room. He does, however, smirk and wink at the cast member (read: hot girl) who notices.
And he checked with security and probably pissed them off by calling them 'a bunch of amateur fucking rent-a-cops with no sense', but whatever, because those douches obviously weren't doing their jobs. There was nothing suspicious on the security footage from the night before or this morning, but there are also no cameras in the hallway with the dressing rooms, which Puck has the head of security make note to change.
Rachel decides she wants to just hang around at the theater instead of going out between shows, so Puck makes himself comfortable on the couch in her dressing room, and she sends one of her minions (she doesn't call them that, but Puck does) to pick up some food. She gets some ridiculous salad, and he orders a burger from this amazing place he knows. And fries. And a Coke. And when Rachel asks him if he knows what he's doing to his body by eating that 'stuff', he lifts up his shirt, takes a look at his abs, and tells her he doesn't think there's anything to worry about.
He doesn't really know what it means that she's blushing.
(He thinks she looks pretty hot with that colour in her face.)