Quinn: Are you freaking mental? Rachel Berry? You hate her.
Puck: That's what's so weird, I don't think I do.
People think that he's always hated her. Always had it out for her. But really, that's not how it is. Not at all. When Rachel first moved here in 2nd grade, his family was the first family they met. Both families being Jewish and attending the only synagogue in the small town, and one of the few with kids, their families quickly bonded, spending dinners together through out the summer.
Summer ended and school began. Noah, Rachel, & Matt attended one elementary school, while the rest of the gleeks attended another one. They wouldn't all meet until junior high, some high school.
For the next four years, the three of them were inseparable. They all lived within a block radius of each other, so they would walk to and from together or car pool. They would go to a different house everyday, enjoying a snack and doing their home work together.
In sixth grade, when they had gone to a birthday party and heard a couple of kids talking about kissing, they had decided afterwards that it would be best if they kissed each other, that way when they finally had to kiss someone for real, they would know what they were doing. Noah and Rachel went first, and Noah thought it was the most amazing thing he had ever experienced. When it came time for Rachel to kiss Matt, he quickly came up with a reason for that to not happen, saying something along the lines of Matt basically kissing Noah and Matt freaking out and telling Rachel to forget it.
The summer after sixth grade, was their best summer yet. They spent it at the Berry's enjoying the pool in the back yard and the den full of activities for the kids.
Seventh grade brought them to junior high, and this is where they would have the first dent placed in their friendship. Santana Lopez, decided the first day of school, that she wanted Noah. He was the cutest boy in their grade, and what she wanted she got. She saw Rachel as a problem, always being around the two boys. Noah, thinking Santana was everything a seventh grade boy could ever ask for, started spending more and more time with the girl. Rachel tried to understand, knowing that her friend liked the girl. It just hurt, to see him forgetting her so easily. Yes, she still had Matt, but he wasn't Noah. Her Noah.
Towards the end of the year, Santana and Noah had sex, loosing their virginity to each other. For some reason this hurt Rachel more then she could even begin to describe. She felt betrayed.
"Hey Manhands. Heard about Puck and I?" Santana asked her one day in the lunch room.
"No Santana, I didn't hear about you and the hockey utensil's activities. Do tell?" Rachel spat back, her distaste for Noah's god awful nickname and Santana herself evident in her tone.
"God, you're such a freak. Puck and I had sex. That's right. He's not your little Noah anymore. He's a man, and he's all mine." As she finished the sentence, she let her tray tip, ever so slightly, spilling the contents of chicken noodle over mash potatoes over Rachel's head, spilling down the front of her shirt.
Gasping, Rachel jumped up, wiping the food from her face and shirt. As she opened her eyes, she saw Noah across the room, not moving, not doing anything. She threw him a glare, walking towards him. She saw Matt rushing over from the lunch line, having arrived late.
"Rachel, are you okay?" he asked, placing his hand on her arm.
"I am just fine Matthew, thank you very much," she said, continuing her walk to Noah's table.
"Let me help you clean up. I have an extra gym shirt in my locker. I haven't worn it yet. Its all yours," he said, following her, trying to get her to exit the room, instead of continuing to Noah.
"I would greatly appreciate that. Give me just a second and I will meet you at your locker."
She didn't give him a chance to argue, but he stuck by her side. She finally reached the table, Noah still sitting there in shock.
"Don't you dare, don't you ever speak my name again. I thought you were my friend. I thought you cared. But you just showed, how truly wrong I was. Enjoy your popularity, your horrible girlfriend or whatever she is, your great life. I want nothing to with you, Puck. You no longer exist to me."
Without letting him reply, she turned, flipping her hair and specks of food on to his table, and walked off. Matt shot a glare at Puck, then quickly followed Rachel, oblivious to the fact that he had picked his side.
The next year went by with nothing said between the two ex-friends. Matt and Puck interacted through sports, but Matt had lost all respect for the boy he had called his best friend. He stuck by Rachel, and he planned to continue with that.
Ninth grade brought them to high school, and with Puck used to ruling the school, he had decided that he was willing to do whatever it took to continue with that tradition. He quickly joined football, following in his best friend Finn's footsteps. Matt joined as well, quickly making friends with everyone, but still keeping his distance from Puck. Puck missed his friends, especially Berry, but he would never admit that. She had erased him, and he didn't need her. He had Santana and Finn.
The first week of school, the football team was coming in from an early morning practice, Santana giving Puck his morning slushee, when one of the seniors started to make fun of a girl down the hall. Once Puck saw who it was, his stomach turned. It was Berry. Standing there in a what should be illegally short black skirt, a white camisole, and a purple cardigan. She had her hair curled and on her legs, god damn. She seemed to have the longest legs of any girl he had ever seen, especially someone that was almost considered a midget. She had on a pair of white knee socks, with black Mary Jane's on. He couldn't remember a time that he had ever thought she looked better, though he had always secretly thought she was cute.
"Puck, throw it at her," he heard, looking at the senior player with a look of shock on his face.
"Come on man, prove you want to be a part of this team, prove you want to be top dog. Throw that slushee at her."
"Do it baby," Santana said, huskily into his ear. He looked at Finn, who had a look of shock on his face. This wasn't something Finn would ever do, cause Finn would never have to. Everyone loved Finn, he got to be the nice guy. Leaving Puck to be the bad guy, the one that everyone was scared of. Well, time to man up and show them who you are.
He walked the short distance to her, feeling like everything was going in slow motion. Whatever hope he had of ever being her friend again, was about to go out the window. He would pry get a pretty good ass kicking from Matt at next practice as well. Was it worth it? He turned to look back at the group, realizing that he couldn't go the next four years, at the bottom of the food chain. She would understand that, right?
The next thing he knows he's right beside her. She hasn't realized he's there yet, so he says her name, a sharp Berry, leaves his mouth, and as she places her book on the top shelf of her locker and turns to her, she can see the look of shock on her face, but she never expected the slushee to hit her right in the face. She gasps, the cold numbing her face, burning her eyes. She wipes the sticky substance out of her eyes, looking up at Noa- No, Puck, in shock, with a hint of disgust. She sees the shock on his face as well, the disbelief that he just did that. Before she can say anything, he is throw against the locker, to shocked to do anything. Its Matt. Of course its Matt. He's always saving her. She doesn't know where she would be without him. Before he can do anything, she placed a hand on his arm, forcing his attention to her.
"Please, don't. He's not worth it. Lets just go get me cleaned up and get to class. Please Matt."
Puck realizes that she's calling him Matt now. She always used to call him Matthew. They've gotten closer with Puck out of the picture. Matt loosens his grip on Puck, before shoving him back into the lockers for good measure.
"Leave Rae alone, fucker."
Rae, god, he even has a cute little nickname for her. Puck shoves him off, turning to walk down the hall. He turns to look back before he turns the corner, seeing Matts arm around her, Rachel leaning into his side. They stop at his locker, grabbing Matts jersey out and making their way to the bathroom.
The rest of the day, all he see's is Rachel walking around with another guys jersey on and it makes his stomach do a weird flip thing. That night, he has sex with his first cougar.
The next year is filled with slushees, pornographic drawings of her in the locker rooms and bathrooms, and horrible words written on her own locker. Its not just Puck anymore, its nearly the whole football team, including some hockey players as well. Girls say horrible things to her, bumping her as they walk down the hall. All she has is Matt, and she keeps as much from him as possible. He's made friends on the football team, but he's not high enough up on the food change to stop anything, so why put anymore stress on his shoulders. Freshman year ends and Matt and Rachel spend their summer together, along with his friend Mike Chang. One week towards the end, Rachel's parents invite the Puckermans over for dinner. Her parents know that Noah and her are no longer friends, but they have no idea about the torture at school. They think they simply grew apart, when she choose Matt over Noah. That's another thing, her parents won't accept that Matt and her are not dating. She has quit trying to change their mind. The less they know the better.
The Puckerman's arrive and Rachel puts on her show face. Playing nicely with Puck and Abby, helping Ava and her dads in the kitchen. Dinner goes by smoothly, Rachel talking about the lessons she has been taking over the summer, especially the dance class Matt, Mike, and her have been taking. Noah speaks of his pool cleaning job, but leaves out the cougars.
Once dinner is done, the parents tell the kids to go out back, light the fire pit while they clean up.
Abby has fallen asleep on the couch inside so its just the two teens.
Its quiet, extremely awkward, and tense. Puck doesn't know what to say. Should he say anything?
Before he can think, words are spilling out of his mouth.
"Rutherford and you seem awfully cozy. You give it up to him yet or is he still pining for that first kiss?"
He doesn't need to look at her, to know she is pissed. She has dropped the sharp thing she had in her hand that she was using the tend the fire and he can hear her taking deep breaths, probably in an attempt to calm herself. He finally turns around, and she has fire in her eyes. Her face is beat red, and he's really glad she put the poker down, cause she looks like she might stab him.
"How dare you! How dare you accuse me of such things, or even ask me about my relationships. You have no right! You gave up that right, when you sat there and watched your horrid skank of a girlfriend pour her lunch all over me. You gave up that right, when you started throwing slushees in my face." He tries to interrupt her, but she quickly puts up a hand, silencing him with the look of pure anger and disgust on her face.
"You were my best friend. God, I was in love with you since 2nd grade. No one, has ever hurt me, the way you did. The way you still do every day. You put on this act, this front, of being this hard mean person. That's not the person I grew up with, and its not someone I want anything to do with. Your just a scared little boy, whose to afraid of what everyone else thinks of you, to do what you want. You would rather have an entire school be afraid of you, then a few people that really care about you, for who you really are. Not only do I feel sorry for you, you disgust me Puck." By the end of her speech, there are tears pouring down her face, and if you asked him, he would blame it on allergies but he's pretty sure he has some water on his face too. Before he can say anything, apologize, yell at her, call her names, she is forcefully pushing past him, rushing into the house. He doesn't hear what she tells the parents, but he sees her bedroom light come on, and knows she's not coming back.
For the next week, he goes over what she said to him. She had said she was in love with him, past tense. That caused an ache in his chest, and he didn't know why. She had told him that he disgusted her, and that she felt sorry for him. No one had ever talked to him, been honest with him, like her. Not even Finn who was supposed to be his best friend. He knew that Finn hated the way he treated people, tried to balance out his meanness with being nicer to the people that he picked on. He would take that lady fabulous boys expensive clothes before he threw him in the trash bin, he would stop him before he did anything to bad to the wheel chair kid, and he always made sure to smile at Rachel in the afternoon, after she had had to change thanks to him.
Was Rachel right? Was he just putting on an act, getting by in life. He shoved the thought to the back of his head, turning on the Nintendo and filling his head with Yoshi's and little men in plumber outfits.
School picked up again, and without even thinking about it, he was right back to slusheing Rachel. He made sure to never make eye contact with her, and to just keep walking after he did it.
Shortly after school started, a sign up for glee club popped up. He knew the first five names on the list, expected them. Then he saw Matt Rutherford, Michael Chang, and Finn Hudson. Well, that was a surprise. Then he saw Quinn Fabray, Finn's girlfriend and her band of merry sluts, Santana and Brittany. What the hell was going on? He quickly rushed down the hall, intent to find out what was going on.
Turns out Finn had gotten into some trouble with Mr. Schue and was forced to join. Thinking it would be cooler if some other footballers and cheerios joined, he quickly went to Matt, knowing he was Rachel's best friend and he would drag Mike along as well. Little did they all know, Mike would have joined either way, for the opportunity to dance, and Matt had already planned on it, due to Rachel. The Cheerios followed Quinn and Quinn followed Finn everywhere. Seeing no way around it, Puck joined as well. When they walked into their first rehearsal, Berry quickly jumped up, rushing over to Mr. Schue, demanding to know what they were doing there. This was supposed to be her safe place, a place where she didn't have to worry about the mean things people said out in the halls. Mr. Schue quickly shot down all her worries, reminding her that they needed 12 people to be eligible to compete. She huffed off, taking a seat between Mike and Matt. The next couple weeks go by with no problems. He's stopped slusheing her, since their team mates and all.
Their trying to decide on songs for sectionals, when Mr. Schue decides he wants to switch things up a bit. He wants Puck and Rachel to do a duet together. He says that they can pick the song, and work on it outside of school, but he wants something by the end of the week. He pairs everyone else up as well, but he is specifically expecting something from these two, cause he thinks their voices will blend well. Rachel stares at the teacher in shock, and Puck flashes a big smile.
Now that he's in this stupid club, he has started to remember why he had been best friends with Rachel, why he had liked her. Yeah, she can be super intense sometimes, and she thinks shes god's fucking gift to the world, but shes also one of the coolest girls he has pry ever met. He sits and watches her while she interacts with Chang and Shaft, and they are both in stitches laughing at whatever she is saying. Brittany joins them and shes soon laughing as well. He thinks Brittany and her could be really good friends. Brittany may seem like shes 11 beers short of a 12 pack, but shes actually really smart, incredibly talented, and a great person. Just like Berry. He decides that he is going to use this next week, to make up with Berry, remind her why they were friends in the first place. He owes it to her.
Class ends and he catches Chang and Rutherford, them sending Rachel out to the car, walking with Brittany, laughing as they go. Rutherford does not seem glad to be speaking with him, they've barely said ten sentences to each other outside of sports and school related activities over the years. Chang greets him like always, bumping fists.
"What do you want Puckerman?" Matt asks, arms crossed over his chest.
"Let me take Berry home. I need to talk to her," he says, nearly pleading with him.
"Why would I do that? You've made her life hell for the last four years Puck. I've done everything I could to make her life easier, but you just kept pushing. Even when I was being her best friend, I was still being a horrible friend, cause I couldn't stop you! What could you possibly have to say to her?"
He almost lies and says that he just wants to discuss the duet, but he doesn't think that will fly. He needs to lay his cards out, for them both to see.
"I want to apologize, I want my friend back. I've been a horrible person, and there's no excuse for the way I've acted. I ruined the best thing I ever had, and I need to make it better."
Matt and Mike look at each other, both with skeptic looks on their faces.
Mike speaks up before Matt can.
"Were taking her home. I don't think she would appreciate us just throwing her to the wolves. We'll tell her that you want to talk, and if she chooses to talk to you, well let you know." Matt gives Mike an appreciative glance and then just walks off, not waiting to hear what Puck has to say. Mike slaps him on the shoulder, and starts to walk off, but before he can Puck stops him.
"Please, tell her I just want to talk to her."
Mike stops for a second, but just keeps walking.
When Rachel hears this request, she is livid. She wants to scream, she wants to throw things. But she doesn't. Cause its Noah, and she want's to hear what he has to say. She knows it may be torture, but even after everything he's done to her, she knows that her Noah is still there, and she still loves him. If talking to him, can bring him back, bring him back to her, then she has to try.
She explains this to Matt and Mike, and she doesn't see it, but Mike can see the flash of pain that quickly appears across Matt's face. He's always been the best friend, waiting for the right time to tell her how he feels. Mike doesn't think there will ever be a right time, cause this girls heart has belonged to a man that hasn't deserved it, since she was 7 years old. She tells Mike to text Noah, and tell him that he can stop by tomorrow afternoon. He quickly responds, saying he was supposed to clean a pool at noon, but he cancelled and will be there at noon instead. Rachel doesn't realize the significance in this, but Mike and Matt do. He's cancelling plans with a cougar, a guaranteed lay, to come speak with Rachel. Maybe things won't end as badly as they think.
He rolls out of bed around ten, jumps in the shower and now he's standing in front of his closet, trying to decide what to wear. He can't even begin to explain why he's so nervous. He grabs a pair of dark jeans and throws them on, followed by a white wife beater, a white shirt, and a green and white plaid button up. He remembers her saying something one time about green being his best color.
By the time he's done cleaning himself up, its after 11:30. He grabs his keys and heads out to his truck. He gets to her house, with ten minutes to spare. Being late would have just gave him more things to apologize for. He notes that her dads cars are not in the driveway, before hopping out and walking to the door. He knocks and the door flies open. She looks surprised to see him, even though she's the one that told him to be here at noon.
"Said I would, didn't i?"
"You've said a lot of things that you never followed through with."
He can hear the hurt in her voice, and he thinks he may have a lot more to apologize for then just the slushees.
She moves so he can walk in, and that's when he notices what she's wearing. Tight white yoga pants, from Texas University, and a matching black tank top. Her feet are bare, as is her face, and her hair is pulled up in a messy bun with several strands of hair hanging loosely to frame her face. Its another one of those times when he can't remember when he's ever thought she looked more beautiful. She directs him to the living room, before she heads to the kitchen, asking if he wants anything. He asks for water and she comes back with two bottles, before sitting on the other end of the couch, curling her legs up under herself. She sits there, messing with the bottle, waiting for him to speak. When he doesn't she finally breaks the silence.
"Right. Listen, I know that I have been horrible to you these last few years, and really there's no excuse for the way I acted. You were my best friend and I should have stood up for you when Santana did those things to you, I should have said no when they told me to slushee you, and I definitely shouldn't have continued to do it every damn week. I should never have picked those people, that don't even really know me, or care to know the real me, over you. I"
He goes to say more, but he is thrown back, engulfed in a fierce hug. He squeezes her back, and he can hear her crying.
"Hey, what's with the water works midge." She pulls back a little, and he can see that she is really crying, tears pouring down her face.
"I have been waiting for you to say that for four years, Puck. All I ever wanted was for you to tell me you were sorry. I understood that you wanted to be popular, I did. If you would have just told me you were sorry, I would have helped you keep your social standing. I know it's important to you."
"First of all, it's Noah. I really hate when you call me Puck. Second, I mean it. I really am sorry. I promised I would always be there for you, and then I go and just turn my back on you, helped make your life hell."
"It's ok Noah. I forgive you."
"You know, you really shouldn't but I am going to take it, cause I really miss you."
They spend the next four hours, talking and catching up. He teases her about Matt, ignoring the funny feeling in his gut, and she explains that she's never felt like that for him. He admits that its relief he feels when he hears that. She teases him about his reputation, especially the sexual part. He confides that most of it isn't true. He really hasn't been with as many cougars as they say, and Santana is the only Cheerio he's been with. He leaves around 6, saying he has to pick up his sister from a friends since his mom is working the night shift. As he goes to leave, he stops her.
"Noah, I understand if you can't be my friend at school. I wouldn't want to do anything that would destroy your popularity. Please, do what you have to do."
He stares at her, amazed that he ever let her out of his life. This girl is willing to continue living in hell, letting him act as if he hates her, to spare him. He gives a quiet laugh, tells her she's crazy, places a kiss on top of her head, and leaves, shutting the door behind himself.
Monday morning, Noah is trying to think of a big huge see it from the sky gesture that he can use to show Berry that he's serious about this whole thing. He realizes what he needs to do, rushing out of the house, to take care of everything.
He shows up at school, a white shirt on and two slushees in his hands. He walks directly to her locker, and as she turns and sees him, she freezes, clenching her eyes and mouth shut. He flinches at that, hating that he has done this to her. He stops in front of her, waiting for her to open her eyes. Once she does, she quickly looks around, asking him what the heck he's doing.
"This is for you," he says, handing her the grape slushee. "I remember they were your favorite, they were the only kind you would get during the summer."
She shows a small smile, and takes a small sip. "Much better that way, huh?"
She lets out a small laugh, and continues to drink it. She then realizes that he's holding a bright pink slushee in his other hand.
"Noah, what is that slushee for. The pink is strawberry and you hate strawberry."
He laughs, amazed that she still remembers that.
"True, I do hate strawberry, but it's the brightest color they have. I figured it would show the most."
She looks at him like he's crazy, until he holds that one out to her as well. She takes it, not really understanding, until he takes two steps back, holds his hands out at his side, and says, "Give me your best shot Berry."
She stands there, thinking he's lost his mind. "Noah, I can't do that. Its not nice."
He opens his eyes, looking at her. God, she really is beautiful, and way to damn nice. "Berry, I totally deserve this. Just do it." As he finishes his sentence, he sees all the Gleeks push to the front of the group that has gathered around them, Matt and Mike pushing to be by Rachel's side. She looks at the two of them, and when Mike shakes his head yes, she closes her eyes, and throws it. She hears the sharp intake of breath, and opens her eyes.
Noah is standing there, drenched from head to toe, in bright pink slushee. She instantly drops the cop, covering her mouth. "Oh my god, Noah, I am so sorry. I shouldn't have done that."
He laughs, wiping the stick crap off his face. "Damn, I can honestly say, I will never do that to another person again. That sticky shit is fucking cold! Come on Berry, help me clean up."
She carefully walks to his side, careful not to slip, and when she feels his hand on her lower back, she can't help but smile up at him.
When Noah walks into the choir room, all he sees is two Cheerios & Finn. He thinks about going and sitting on the other side of the room, but figures there's no better time to handle this then now. He knows Finn won't be a problem, but Santana and Quinn have been Rachel's second biggest tormentors. Their not going to understand.
"What the hell is going on with you today? You let the freak of the school, slushee you in front of everyone, then willing walked off with her, like you were friends," Quinn yells. He looks at Santana, knowing shes thinking of junior high. He wonders if she will say anything about that. She quickly looks away, not saying anything.
"I acted like we were friends, cause we are. Used to be best friends, before drama and bitches happened. Before I got stupid."
"Are you freaking mental? This is Rachel Berry! You hate her!" she nearly screams at him.
"That's what's so weird, I don't think I do. I don't think I ever did. She used to be my best friend, hell the first girl I pry ever loved, fuck, the only one," At this, you can see Santana visibly flinch. He's not trying to hurt her, but he feels like they need to understand what this is. "Yeah, I did a lot of horrible things, but that's because I was more worried about my reputation then the people in my life. I'm tired of being like that, always wondering why people are my friends, wondering if a girls with me for me, or because of what she thinks my rep can do for her. I like Rachel, and if you guys have a problem with it, fuck off." He turns to go sit on the other side of the room, but instead is met with Rachel's shocked face. Once their eyes meet, the shock turns to a smile, and he walks over to her. He pulls her in for a hug, squeezing her tightly.
"Can I sit with you today?" She shakes her head yes, and they take a seat with Mike and Matt.
The rest of the week flies by and suddenly, its Friday and its time for them to do their solo. They had planned on doing some musical song, but when Noah comes in, he hands Brad some sheet music, and gives Rachel some as well. He doesn't give her a chance to look at the music, before he tells Brad to start playing, since his part is first.
Everybody keeps telling me I'm such a lucky man
Lookin at you standin there I know I am
Barefooted beauty with eyes that brown
The sun shine sure looks good on you
Oh I can't believe I finally found you baby
Happy ever after, after all this time
Oh there's gonna be some ups and downs
but with you to wrap my arms around
At this part, Noah grabbed Rachel's hand spinning her out and bring her back tightly to his chest, wrapping his arms around her.
So baby, hold on tight
Don't let go
Hold onto the love we're making
Cause baby when the ground starts shaking
You gotta know when you've got a good thing
You know you keep on bringing out the best of me
And I need you now even more than the air I breathe
You can make me laugh when I wanna cry
This will last forever I just know, I knowHe repeated the spin again, adding a small dip.
So baby, hold on tight
Don't let go
Hold onto the love we're making
Cause baby when the ground starts shaking
You gotta know when you've gotta good thing
We got a good thing, baby, woah
So hold on tight
Baby, don't let go
Hold onto the love we're making
Cause baby when the ground starts shaking
You gotta know, oh you gotta know
Oh you gotta know, you gotta know
When you got a good thing
We got a good thing baby
Woah, woah, woah, woah
At the end of the song, they ended up facing each other, both their faces slightly red. As he stared at her, he couldn't help what he did next. He leaned down, gently placing his lips on hers. He kept it short, sweet, before grabbing her hand and pulling her out of the room. Once they reached the hallway, she stopped him.
"Noah, what is going on?"
"I love you! I think I always have, and I was so stupid, not to see it. You're everything I have ever wanted, no matter how many times I tried to deny it. I know I haven't been the best person, but I am really trying to right that wrong. I am so sorry for wasting so much time. Do you think, you could ever love me again," he asked, holding both her hands in his own.
"Noah, I have loved you since I was 7 years old. Even when you were being a horrible person, I loved you. I still love you. Always will," she said, smiling up at him. A huge smile spread across his face, before he pulled her into his arms, spinning them around.
"Say it again." she says.
"I Noah Puckerman, am madly in love with you, Rachel Berry."