Title: I see you.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended. I'm just using them for my own perverted sense of fun.
Feed back: Sure thing! Feedback is always helpful.
Author's note - Big thanks to Susan for betaing, and a big hanks to Pooh, Soft, Nat and Lisa for looking it over.
Summary: Told from Quinn's POV, as she watches the birth of a relationship.
I have done many things that I regret in my life. Getting pregnant at sixteen takes out the top position though. I hurt Finn in a way that I don't ever think he'll ever recover from. He's always had such an innocent out look on life, and in the time that it took for Rachel Berry to spill her guts, something inside Finn Hudson broke. I will never forgive myself for that - for seeing that pain in his eyes, and the heartbreak that was stamped all over his handsome face with crystal clarity. And even as Rachel offered up a less than convincing apology, I knew she was singing on the inside over her triumph. She had caused our break up - and in that single action, she revealed herself for what she was.
She might act all sweet and innocent, but Rachel Berry doesn't care who she has to step on to get what she wants. And she wanted Finn. Now that the truth was out, and the path was cleared, she was left facing the real reason why she had told him the truth; it bathed her in a less than flattering light. And when the dust cleared, she was left with shame in her eyes, and the boy she wanted walking away from her. She left me in tears and Puck with blood running from his mouth. And she was left to face the rest of the Glee club members, who all looked at her as if she was just as awful as Puck and I.
I hurt Puck, when it all blew up in our faces, and I refused his offer of help and support. He knew that I was with him because Finn had left me. No other reason - he was the consolation prize in the drama that was my life, and at the time, I thought he was ok with it. I thought he was happy, because he finally got what he wanted - me. I didn't realize how very wrong I was; I didn't know how much I had hurt him, until it was too late. I don't regret giving Beth up for adoption; I can barely take care of myself, let alone a baby who is completely dependent upon me. Nevertheless, I regret hurting him.
I asked him, as we watched over our daughter, if he loved me. He admitted that he did, even more so now, having watched me go through childbirth. And as I watched him watch Beth, I came to the painful realization, that while he loved me, and always would, he wasn't in lovewith me. And that there, is a major difference. I could see the pain on his face as he looked at Beth. I knew he didn't want to give her up, but the papers were signed, and it wasn't until months later, that I learned he'd never even gotten to hold her. And with that one mistake, any future I might have had with Puck was destroyed.
I went away with my Mom over the summer break, and when we returned for our Junior year, it took me several weeks to see the subtle changes in Puck. For one, he began to attend every class we had to together. And when I saw him hand in his homework for each class, it shocked me. Puck had cruised through Sophomore year on charm and athletic ability alone, yet here he was, working in class, and finishing each assignment handed to us. Don't get me wrong, he was still Puck under it all. He still ruled by fear and strength, but the changes I was seeing were making me regret calling him a loser.
I found myself watching him more often. He still slammed Jacob Israel into lockers, his penchant for profanity was rather disconcerting, and a small smirk still played across his lips most days. But more often than not, I saw him sitting out on the bleachers by himself during lunch. He still hooked up with girls at parties, and he still swaggered down the school halls as if he owned the place. But there was a lingering air of sadness that clung to him now, that warred with the 'talk to me, and you'll fucking die' aura that had coated him since middle school.
And when he strolled into the first Glee club practice and slumped down between Rachel and Matt, I could only stare at him. I hadn't thought he'd come back to Glee, yet here was, guitar in hand, and a scowl on his face as Rachel chattered away beside him. Finn still wasn't really talking to him over the lies we had told. As I watched, he nodded and chewed on his thumb while Rachel chattered: I felt the first real glimmer of guilt. Finn was finally talking to me, yet the friendship between the two boys was barely civil.
Several weeks into school, Mr. Schue gave us an assignment, which would tear the image of 'Puck' apart in front of the whole Glee club. The assignment was simple - show your true self in a song. Tell us your story in words and music. No holds barred - be honest. Tell us how you really feel, tell us what you really think, and tell us what no one outside of Glee knows. Tell us what haunts you, what keeps you awake at night. In here, inside of Glee, no one will judge you. Let it be cathartic, so that when the last note dies, there are no longer any secrets within Glee club.
And in the afternoon session of Glee where we showed our true selves, he sat beside Rachel with a scowl on his face, and she spoke to him in hushed whispers while everyone else performed. Mr. Schue had to prod him into singing, and Puck shared one long, unreadable look with Rachel, before he stood up, guitar in hand, and sang Rest in Pieces by Saliva. He was an accomplished player, showing a musicality skill that shocked even Mr. Schue. But it was the choice of the song that first clued me into how much I had hurt him, and by the end of it, the silence in the room was deafening, and I was in tears.
And as I watched him, he looked at Rachel again, before he left the room as silently as he had entered it. Rachel took a deep breath before she stood up and levelled me with a single look, before she too, left the room. And I was left gasping softly as tears streamed down my face, because the look that she had levelled me with had spoken volumes. A scathing look, a look I had aimed her way daily for over two years. However, that look wasn't what caused the pain; it had been the look Puck had shared with Rachel after he'd finished that haunting song - he'd looked at Rachel, like he'd once looked at me. He had looked at her, as though her opinion mattered to him the most.
Watching Puck became my full time obsession. I knew his schedule backwards and forwards, and I made sure that we crossed paths as often as time would permit. I sat near him in the three classes we shared together, and tried to engage him in conversation. He'd grunt in reply, or answer in single words or curt sentences. I tried waiting for him after school, but he was always gone by the time I reached the parking lot, or he was running solitary laps on the football field. And as the hours turned to days turned to weeks, I fantasized about cracking his armour, and healing his heart.
That fantasy came crashing down, one brick at a time, when I began to notice the little things I'd ignored until now. I had been so focused on watching Puck, that I hadn't been watching who he socialized with. And that was another mistake I'd made. He sat with Rachel on the bleachers now to eat lunch, and they sat together in the three classes we shared. I had seen them leave Glee practice together more than a dozen times, but the significance of that never registered. I didn't know when it had happened, but it was obvious that they had become friends. And when I sat behind them in Glee practice one afternoon, I saw something that shook me to the very foundation, and made me question everything.
Puck was sprawled all long legs and casual indifference in his chair beside Rachel, who was chatting away at a mile a minute. What caught my attention wasn't the fact that his arm was resting along the back of her chair - he did that with every girl he sat beside. It was the fact that he was toying with the ends of her hair; he was winding those dark locks around his index finger slowly, before smoothing it out with his index finger and his thumb. I don't think he even realized that he was doing it, but I noticed.
His fingers are long - long, calloused, and talented no matter what he used them for. And when those long fingers had trailed over my body, it had been sensual. I spent hours dreaming about that night. Yes, he had bought me wine coolers, but I'd been no-where near drunk. I could remember every single moment of that night - how it felt when he touched me, how it felt when he kissed me, and how he had looked down at me in wonder when we'd made love. The look on his face was seared into my brain, as was the ghost of his touch.
But watching him toy with her hair, it was more intimate than anything he'd done to my body, and I felt the first slow furl of jealousy uncoil deep in my belly, where our child had grown. And in that very moment, it didn't matter that I'd made him lie, or that I'd hurt him as badly as I had. It didn't matter that I'd made him sign the adoption papers, or that I'd called him a Lima Loser. He had no right to touch Rachel Berry, when he had told me that he loved me only months ago. And she had no right to lead Puck on, when she had finally done what she had set out to do - Finn was finally beginning to persue her.
Fall was nearly over, and winter was promising to hit Lima with pouring rain and snow. I sat in the library, and stared across the room at Rachel and Puck as they worked on some sort of assignment. He'd left the Mohawk off after he'd shaved his head, and he had a habit of running his hand over the back of his skull when he was frustrated. His hands are as wide as his fingers are long; such talented fingers and hands. And as I watched them, I saw that Puck was writing with one hand, while the other tapped out a frantic staccato on the tabletop.
Rachel was writing, and chewing on her lower lip as she bent over her books. But her eyes darted to his restless hand more than once, and when she finally dropped her pen in frustration, she reached out and put her hand over the top of his to still it. Puck's eyes jerked towards her at her touch, his eyes narrowing in annoyance as she spoke in hushed tones. Puck's jaw clenched as she spoke, before he seemed to relax into himself as she continued to look at him.
And as I watched them, as I stared at their hands, Puck twisted his slightly, so that his thumb skated across her knuckles. I had never seen Rachel stop talking and fall silent so effectively before. But he wasn't letting go of her hand, and she wasn't pulling hers away. They continued to stare at each other, as a faint blush began to stain Rachel's cheeks. And when she suddenly stood up and hurried towards the bookshelves, Puck ran his hand over the back of his head, and tilted his head back as he closed his eyes.
I stood up and silently made my way towards his table. But before I could reach him, he too stood up, and headed in the direction Rachel had taken. I followed him at a safe distance, and when he ducked down one of the aisles, I turned down the one before it, and silently made my way to where I could see their shadows through the books. They spoke in hushed tones, but I could clearly hear them as I lingered near the books on Ancient Greece, my finger trailing along the spines as I watched them through the spaces between the shelves.
"The fuck, Rachel?"
His voice was filled with frustration and confusion, and just the tiniest hint of real anger, and I watched as he stood at her side with a clenched jaw and glittering eyes. Her shoulders seemed to drop, and her hair slid across her cheek as she lowered her eyes.
"We agreed, Noah…"
It was a plea and a reprimand, and Puck snorted softly as he shook his head.
"No, I never agreed, Rach. You talked and talked and talked, and I didn't know what I was agreeing too when I said yes just to make you shut up. You talk and talk, and you never…. and you know I'm not one for words, that thoughts and actions are what I'm good at, and… and… fuck, Rach, it's never gonna work out with you and Finn. You know that!"
She shook her head and looked up at him, her mouth twisting wryly as she spoke.
"He said that he loved me, Noah."
Puck laughed bitterly, his mouth twisting into a sneer as he stared down at her.
"You never said it back," he said finally, and Rachel sucked in a breath as she paled.
His eyes glittered with some sort of twisted satisfaction, and he lowered his head slightly so that his breath brushed over her face.
"You might have kissed him, Rach, and he might have said it, but here we are, dancing around each other. Again. And where's Finn? Protecting his rep. Again. You'll always be the girl who knocked Quinn off her pedestal in Finn's eyes, and you fucking know it."
Rachel shook her head and glared up at him as she crossed her arms over her chest.
"No. We aren't dancing, Noah. How would we work? You're popular… I still get slushied. I dream of making it through the day without being accosted by a Cheerio. You've slept with their entire roster. We are ploar opposites, Noah. It's bad enough that Finn treats me like a dirty little secret - I couldn't let myself fall for you, only to have you roll off me and be out the door before my heart beat was back to normal."
Puck jerked back from her as if she'd slapped him, and Rachel shook her head as her lips pursed.
"Beside, you still have to resolve your feelings for Quinn," she said softly, and Puck laughed bitterly.
"Been there. Tapped that."
It was snarled out, and I slapped my hand over my mouth as Rachel's eyes widened, and she let out a brittle laugh.
"And that right there, Noah? That's why I won't let you back in as anything more than my friend. Because you were in love with her. You loved her…."
"….And she treated me like Finn treats you," Puck broke in coldly, cutting her words off with one simple sentence. "She treated me like an afterthought, Rachel, like a fucking consolation prize. Couldn't have the one she wanted, so she'd settle with the one who would have treated her like a fucking queen if she hadn't been so damn busy looking at me like I'd deliberately set out to destroy her life. I told her that night… it wasn't just another hook up for me. And she treated me like it hadn't happened."
Rachel reached out for him, only to have him jerk back from her with a sound akin to a hiss; it was almost as if he was scared her touch would scald. Rachel's hand hung in the air, and her lips trembled once, as Puck began to back away from her.
"Finn Hudson, hmm? He had Quinn, yet she gave into me. Now he has you…. How long do you really think it'd take me, Rach, if you were nothin' more to me, than a piece of ass?"
He continued to back away, and when Rachel took a step towards him, he froze her in place with nothing more than a single look.
"You asked me once, why I continue to hook up with random girls, if I had feelings for you."
The bitterness in his voice cut through the air, and Rachel flinched at the same time as I did.
"Why?" she whispered, and he snorted.
"Sure as shit beats being alone, and watching you and Finn do the fucking mating dance around one another. You're just like Quinn, Berry. I know how I make you feel. You know how I make you feel. But you're too fucking scared to do anything about it, because of what others might think."
"Nuh… Stay the fuck away from me, Berry. You're better at head games than Quinn is, and I don't need to be skull fucked again."
"We're meant to be friends, Noah!" she cried, and Puck shrugged as he walked away.
"We weren't friends before. We aren't friends now."
Rachel litterally caved into herself at his words, her arms wrapping around herself as she slid down the bookshelves and sat in a crumpled little heap on the floor. And on the other side of the bookshelves, I mirrored her position. The bitterness in his voice when he'd spoken about me echoed in my mind, and when I could finally breathe again, I pushed myself up and did something I'd sworn I'd never do again - I fled.
The forlorn sound of the piano echoed through out the auditorium, as I sat huddled in the shadows above her, where I had once stood with Ms. Sylvester and Santana. Rachel looked shattered as she sat on the bench seat, and for the first time in my life, I felt bad for her. I knew just how magnetic Puck could be, especially when he focused his whole attention on you. I'd missed it somehow - I'd missed the moment he'd decided that Rachel was the one he wanted. And while I wanted to hate her for hurting him, I was in no position to judge, when what I'd done was so much worse.
I wanted to go to her; to talk to her, and maybe offer some kind of advice, but I knew that it would be unwelcome. Rachel was still abrasive and annoying, but there was an air of isolation to her now, that had come about after Vocal Adrenalin had egged her right before Regional's. That's when Rachel had stopped being a robot for me, and had become human. And as that thought filtered through my mind, it hit me. Puck's reaction back then hadn't only been concern. He'd been angry. And as I thought about it, I remembered that I'd heard he'd also removed the Glist of mine from Rachel's locker.
Nursing that new knowledge, I continue to watch Rachel play. And as I watched her, I saw Puck step slowly out of the shadows, and cross the stage. When he reached her side, he turned around and sat beside her at the piano. They remained silent, as the notes continued to play. And when the song started over again, Rachel began to sing. She sang clearly and strongly, and as his voice joined hers mid-song, I felt the tears that choked Rachel's voice begin to slide down my own face.
When the last note died, Puck turned towards her, his gaze steady on her until she finally lifted her eyes to his. And as they stared at each other, I began to realize something myself. This wasn't just attraction between them, or the fear of being hurt, or hurting others. It was real, and it was thick in the air, and when Puck slowly leaned towards her, Rachel closed her eyes as a soft sob slipped from her lips and echoed between them.
The kiss they shared was sweet and chaste, and it spoke volumes. It wasn't designed to entice lust or desire - it was an apology, and a plea, and words unspoken as his hand came up to slide over her hair. And when it ended, when Puck lifted his mouth from hers, he pulled her across the seat and into his arms as Rachel covered her face and began to cry. And I was left feeling like a voyeur - like I had witnessed something pure, and it left me feeling like if I spoke or breathed, the moment would be tainted, and something within them would shatter.
Rest in Pieces - Saliva ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ I see you - Mika.