Author's Note: P/R popped my one shot cherry.
Well, it's certainly preferable to a slushie in the face (her first day of high school had been unsatisfying on many levels) but here it is, three years later and Noah Puckerman is still trying to ruin her life. Or make some sort of obscure fashion commentary, she's not sure which.
She's standing at her locker at the end of the day having a very pleasant conversation with Mike regarding this afternoon's Glee practice. She is totally determined to place in the top 10 nationally this year and she's glad to see that some people are up for the challenge. Some people did more than spend the summer playing video games and moaning about pre-season football, like Finn who even though they broke up in June, still insists on calling her and trying to get her to play Mario Kart when he's bored. Which, by the way, is not going to happen; he's Santana's problem now.
(Some people did also did more than driving around sweaty and half naked in an old truck, with a few sorry excuses for 'pool cleaning supplies' in the back, not that she had taken any notice.)
Mike, for example, is telling her all about the dance workshop he attended in Chicago and describing a particularly complicated partnered spin he had perfected. Naturally, she demands a demonstration, and after a few blown attempts that have her nearly hitting a locker or colliding with him, they execute it perfectly.
"Mike, that was wonderful! We'll have to present that to the club as a whole."
Mike agrees and then focuses somewhere over her shoulder, so she turns to find out what's attracting his attention.
Puck's watching them. He looks...well, he looks good, naturally, (Rachel prides herself on not blinding herself to the facts) but he also looks a little moody. Probably indigestion. Monday is corn-dog day at the cafeteria and goodness knows that's enough to interfere with anyone's digestion.
Mike smiles easily, "Hey Puck, How was your summer?"
"It was fine, Chang. Yours?" he replies, but his eyes don't leave Rachel and what? Does she have a smudge? She has to force herself not to touch her hair to see if it's still in place.
Mike just smiles oddly and shakes his head as he walks ahead of them into the chorus room.
When she turns to follow, he takes a step forward, blocking her path.
"Nice...spin," he says.
She ignores the smirk to say enthusiastically, "Oh you saw that! It's a terrific move, we could really make waves at Nationals with something like that!"
"Yeah, maybe if you put Hudson in the back."
Rachel nods because it's a valid point and already blocking out the choreography in her head she takes an abstracted step forward. She hits something hard, only to realize that it's his chest and she only manages to retain her balance by clutching at his (still lovely) arms.
"Sorry," he says lazily, forgetting to back up. "Anyway, I wasn't talking about the spin."
"No?" she asks, confused.
"In some kind of hurry this morning, Rach?"
Well, yes. She realized only last night that she hadn't completed this year's recommended reading list and woke up this morning thirty minutes before school started with her face pillowed in "A Farewell to Arms," and a perhaps irrevocable dislike for Ernest Hemingway. But how does he know?
"That move," he says, his voice so low that as close as she is (and why are they still so close?) she has to bend closer to hear him. "Let's just say that I got a look at more than your dancing skills."
"What do you mean?" she asks suspiciously, taking a step back.
He steps forward. "Lavender bra strap," he says, tracing the line on her shoulder, "but royal blue panties." His hand reaches out towards the hem of her skirt and but she slaps it away and frowns at him.
"And exactly what concern is it of yours, Noah?"
To her surprise, he flushes a little, opens his mouth like he wants to say something and then snaps it shut, turn and walks into the chorus room.
It's ridiculous anyway. In all the times she's heard of him focusing on some girl's underwear, it's never been to critique color choice. Honestly, who does he think he is, the fashion police? Oh lord, she hopes he isn't going to turn her in to Kurt. She rushes in the room behind him and proceeds to monopolize Kurt's time, so he doesn't get the chance.
And apparently that's just the start. Unlike junior year, when he apparently had been content to to completely ignore her existence, treating her as if she was some kind of deaf-mute appendage to Finn, this year, every time she turns around he's there, but whether it's chance or he's purposely trying to annoy her, she has no idea. (Even more annoying is the amount of time she's spending trying to figure it out. It's seriously cutting into her study regimen, and her myspace schedule. And her quiet meditation time? Forget it.)
On Tuesday, he plops his tray down next to her at lunch. The rest of the Gleeks look at him in silent amazement because unlike the rest of the Glee jocks who make an occasional appearance at their table, he tends to sit exclusively at the football table. In fact, looking over, she can see Mike, Matt and Finn there now, almost bent over double laughing at something. Still, as Glee captain, it's her duty to make everyone feel included, so she does her best to incorporate him into the general conversation.
Not unexpectedly, he seems uninterested in Kurt's preview of the upcoming New York Fashion week, but instead of leaving, he picks at the food on her plate which is easy for him because he's sitting extremely close to her, so close that she can feel the heat of his body all along her side. She keeps trying to slide over, but it she shifts any more, she's going to end up on the floor.
"Really Noah, you have your own food," she scolds after he purloins a rice cake, takes a bite and then gives it back.
"I'm a growing boy, Rach. Need to keep my strength up." All the while that he's saying this, he's looking her up and down, which for some reason makes Mercedes' mouth drop open and Tina giggle. "Hey, what's this?" he asks, grabbing at one of her containers.
"It's my pudding cup, but..."
He scoops up a big spoonful and shoves it in his mouth. Immediately, his face contorts and he swallows with an obvious effort before gulping down his entire carton of milk in one go. "Fuck Rachel, that tastes like ass! What the hell is it?"
"My soy pudding," she says stiffly, distracted by the howls of laughter coming from the football table. She looks back to see what they're laughing about, but the joke have been short-lived because they're all staring hard at their trays. When she turns back to Noah, he's gone. She shrugs. Maybe he went to get more milk.
On Wednesday, he shows up at her third period math class. She didn't know he had math third period and what's really odd is apparently, neither did her teacher, Mr. Martin. By the time Noah is finished arguing the point, the only desk left was three seats behind her. Of course, she's happy to see him make an effort in his classes; she knows he's intelligent, he just doesn't always apply himself. But by the end of class, she secretly wishes that he was still napping in the nurses office.
He keeps throwing notes to Matt, who sits in front of her and irritatingly enough, they keep landing on her desk. She sighs as yet another one lands, this time directly on her binder. With aim like this, no wonder their football team is so terrible. She taps Matt on the shoulder and passes him yet another note and he thanks her sweetly, just like he did the first five times. She wonders what is so important that it couldn't wait until class was over, but she supposes it must have been critical because as soon as class is over, Matt rushes over to share whatever it is with Brittany and Santana.
As she approaches the door, she feels Noah's hand on her arm and she shivers a little bit, although the day is quite warm. "Hey Rach, wait up."
She smiles brightly at him, because really, she is glad he's trying and he seems to lose his train of thought for a moment.
"Noah?" she asks, trying to regain full control of the arm he's still holding.
"Uh, yeah. Look, Rach, those notes..."
Just then, Mr. Martin interrupts. "Ah, Mr. Puckerman. I just got off the phone with the registrar and it seems that you are indeed in my fourth period class rather than my third. So if you'll just have a seat, we'll get started momentarily."
Poor Noah, Rachel thinks. It must be awful to have to sit through the same class two times in a row. No wonder he looks so frustrated.
Thursday is the worst day yet, although to be fair, that isn't entirely Noah's fault. Jacob Ben Israel somehow finds out her gym locker combination and at some point during the morning, he sneaks in the girls locker room, rifles through her change of clothes and absconds with her underwear. In retrospect, it was probably a mistake sophomore year to give in to his demands regarding panties, even new ones with tags on, because it's given him ideas, but there's not much she can do about it now.
Apparently Noah can though, and she only pieces this together later, but apparently Tina who has gym with her and finds her fuming in front of her locker tells Quinn, who tells Mercedes who tells Matt who tells Noah. She's not even going to pretend to be upset that Jacob ends up with a black eye and a bloody nose, because her non-violent ideals have developed a lot of flexibility where he's concerned.
So it's safe to say that she's definitely in charity with Noah Puckerman at the moment and when she sees him in crowded hallway just before dismissal she's hard pressed not to throw her arms around him (and kiss him and kiss him and hold on just a darn minute, what?).
He's stalking down the hall towards her with a determined step and a certain something in his eye that she may not recognize, but she certainly likes. Unfortunately, before she can politely thank him (read: throw herself at him), a chain of events unfurls that leads to if not social disaster, then at least embarrassment.
Sue Sylvester barrels out of Principal Figgins' office at top speed with Mr. Schuester following in her wake and Karofsky, who apparently is not as stupid as he looks, dives to get out of her way. Unfortunately, his trajectory intersects with Rachel who goes crashing towards the nearest locker bank. Noah, who's only a step away by this point, somehow manages to catch her, but not before inadvertently releasing the underwear that he was about to surreptitiously pass her. Not even the warm and secure feeling she gets from being cradled in Noah's arms can make up for the sight of her panties spinning up into the air before slowly coming to rest on the tip of Mr. Schuester's outstretched finger.
The teacher looks incredulously at the two of them and then says in noisy and expressive shock, "Puck? Why in the world do you have Rachel's underwear?"
Rachel manages to slip away at some point when Sue Sylvester starts shouting about Glee being a den of vice and asking Mr. Schuester how many of his students have to end up pregnant before the school board finally accepts enforced sterilization.
Friday morning her phone rings during breakfast and she can't even find it in herself to be surprised when her display reads, 'Puckasaurus.'
"How did you get this number?"
"Stole your phone Wednesday in Glee."
"Why? Why would you...never mind. What is it I can do for you? No. Let me guess. You want to insult my lunch or make me your messenger girl or I don't know, strip me naked in the hallway!"
There's a long pause. Then: "actually, that last one has potential."
"Goodbye Noah," she huffs.
"No, shit, wait. I was just kidding."
Is he mumbling 'mostly' under his breath?
"Then what do you want?"
"I...I thought you might need a ride to school."
"My Dad is giving me a ride."
And just then, because the universe hates her, Dad darts in, grabs his briefcase and says apologetically, "Sorry sweetie, early meeting. Can you take the bus?"
There's another long pause and then Noah says, "I heard that, you know."
"Of course you did," she grumbles. "Be here in ten minutes. I don't want to be late."
The ride is quiet because he's frowning over the steering wheel and she feels that as the injured party, she shouldn't have to be the first one to speak. (Then she thinks guiltily about the fact that if he hadn't caught her, it would have been a lot more than her pride that got hurt.)
She should have known something was up when he parked in the very back corner of the parking lot and sure enough, when she goes to open the door, he reaches out and stops her. "Hold on. We're going to talk. Without teachers or the fucking Gleeks laughing at every word I say and hey! Why are you crying?"
"I'm not crying!" she hisses. "Some idiot left a bouquet of goldenrod on our front steps and my allergies are acting up. His eyes shift to the left just for a second and she knows. "You. You left those flowers. Why me? Isn't there someone else you can torture?"
"Probably," he grits out, "but I choose you."
"What does that even mean?"
"Oh for fuck's sake Rachel! This!" And he yanks her into his arms and kisses her hard and a warm glow starts wherever their bodies touch and the entire world is suddenly just the size of the two of them.
Finally, he pulls away and at some point, she's able to focus enough to see him looking at her expectantly.
"Well why didn't you just say so," she grumbles and then throws herself into his arms again, kissing him back.
A/N: Written for the PuchRachel drabble meme on LJ
Prompt: "Isn't there someone else you can torture?"
"Probably, but I choose you."