There Now, Steady Love
Rating: PG-13 for Puck's mouth.
Disclaimer: Don't own.
Summary: All the scenes that RM taketh, I giveth back. These are the missing PR scenes from "A Very Glee Christmas." Thank you very much to goingvintage for the hand-holding and encouragement. I can only hope to write like you one day. Title is taking from "Look After You," by The Fray.
"I wish I were with you," Rachel sang to no one as the jazz band finished playing the last few bars of the song before she crooned mournfully on the last word.
Before the band members could see, she deftly wiped away a tear that had had been able to escape her eye. A perfectly good gift had gone to waste and all because Finn was not ready to forgive her for kissing Noah two weeks ago.
The boys in the band didn't say anything as they began to pack up their instruments. The fake snow machine that the A/V club had hooked up was still whirring away as the white powder continued to fall onto the faux trees and stage.
"Nice song Berry," she heard a deep voice comment from the back of the stage, Rachel could see the object of her infidelity enter from the shadows.
With his hands shoved in the pockets of his jeans and navy blue button up on, Rachel mused for a moment on how they oddly matched. He knocked some of the fake snow off his shoulders and before shooting her a smirk.
"Thank you Noah, I'm glad you think so."
Puck shot a glare towards the remaining band members and even menacingly took a steps towards them, which sent them all scurrying off the stage. It made him grin in success before he turning his attention back on the soprano.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
Rachel shrugged unhappily, wrapping her arms around herself and Puck had a momentary thought that this girl never deserves to look as sad as she does right now.
"Nothing," she adds, "Absolutely nothing."
With those words, she walks off the stage leaving Puck to stare after the red beret that covered her dark hair.
It's cold and she's doing her best not to cry. Crying will only make the situation that much worse and with the way she feels right now, she's not sure that she can handle that. Rachel honestly cannot believe that Finn left her. Understandably, he was upset by what they were talking about and rightfully so but she can't believe he got into his car and left her in the tree lot.
Pulling her pink sequined phone from her pocket, she removed one of her white gloves to dial one of her fathers to come pick her up. But just as Rachel is about to press the call button, the assumption that they would want to know what happened to Finn driving her home make her quickly rescind that idea.
She finds him in her contacts and presses send before she has a chance to over think the decision. Mainly because she's getting colder by the minute and there is no adequate shelter at this godforsaken place. No wonder she appreciates being a Jew so much. There's no ridiculous need to go buy a live tree that exists mainly to exhaust families in their assembly and also pose as a fire hazard. An electric menorah has never caused her fathers any issues and it's set up has never left her out in the cold.
"Yeah?" he answers and Rachel is taken back by his lack of a proper greeting, stunning her into silence. He quickly gets exasperated by her lack of response and starts up again. "Berry, seriously, did you need something? You're kinda killing my game of COD."
"I'm sorry," she automatically responds. "It's just…can you pick me up?"
"Where are you?"
"The Christmas tree lot off 75."
"Fucking a, how'd you get there in the first place?" he responds and she hears the creak of his bed.
"Noah, I'd rather not discuss that. Can you provide me with a ride or not? It's rather cold and if I need to call my fathers, I'd like to call them before I lose functionality of my fingers."
"I'll be there in 20 minutes," he responds and she hears him slam the door to his house.
She puts her glove back on and waits because there is nothing else to do. The only form of shelter is the little shack that the owner is standing in to take payment for the trees and to her estimate it's barely four feet by five feet. Rachel's efforts to keep her mind off the cold allows her to get through softly singing the first four songs that Madonna is featured in on the Evita soundtrack before she sees Puck's truck rumble the edge of the farm and the mohawked boy exit in search of her.
Rachel shuffled over to him and he eyes her outfit with annoyance. "You come to pick out a fucking Christmas tree dressed like that?"
"It was not on my agenda to stand out in the cold when I chose my outfit," Rachel states defending the choice of her darling red pea coat, white tights and chic white knit beret. As she defends herself, he notes that her teeth are chattering and he honestly doesn't want to see her lips turn blue, so he guides her to the warm cab of his truck.
He starts the car up and aims the vents at her to give her a faster chance at getting warm because even he'll admit that it's cold enough out to freeze his nuts off.
"So you gonna tell me what the hell caused you to come out and buy a Christmas tree alone?" he questions as he merges onto the highway for the short ride back to Lima.
She mumbles something that he doesn't hear, which he then asks her to say again and she repeats what he missed. He honestly wished he had gone on not knowing.
"I was with Finn but he had to go."
"He left you?" Puck asks incredulously, his grip tightening on the steering wheel.
"In his defense, I kind of forced his hand."
"Fuck that noise…he left you alone, somewhere off a major highway with a cell phone and some luck? He's a dead man," Puck nearly growled.
Puck was the first one to admit his badass status. He had survived hours in a turned over Porta Potty, had hooked up with enough hot chicks to make any other dude jealous and he had studly good looks. But even he knew that the stunt Finn had pulled tonight was beyond wrong, whether he was pissed at Rachel or not. Rachel was tiny – although he was sure that she could sing loud enough to irritate an attacker, he wasn't confident in her being able to fight someone off.
"Noah, I must request that you leave this alone. It's between Finn and I."
"Like hell. That line got blurred when he left you alone."
He glances over at her and although there is a lack of light in the cab of the truck, he can see the tears glistening and Puck knows that she's upset enough about the situation and his talk of taking matters into his own hands will only make both of their evenings worse.
"All right, I've got a better idea," he said and without any more detail, he directed his car to The Caffeine Cave, a little hole in the wall coffee place that didn't suck and wasn't ruined in the way that chain places tended to be. He parked and quickly ended any of her possible arguments. "None of that shit about how dairy or caffeine is bad for your vocal cords. Hot chocolate is perfect for this situation."
Rachel clamped her mouth shut and slid out of his car. Her mood had not really improved since he had picked her up and Puck wanted to understand what had gone down at the Christmas tree lot and he was hoping that by letting her talk, that she would actually take the opportunity. Puck watched as the diminutive brunette walked with her head down and her arms crossed protectively her chest. Too bad the heart underneath was clearly already in pieces. He held open the door and barely heard Rachel's thank you.
"Go. Sit," he ordered and although she looked like she might argue, she went and took a seat in the corner at a small table.
He ordered two mugs of hot chocolate and brought them over to the table, sliding one across the tabletop to Rachel. She held it between her hands and didn't say much.
"Berry, talk. I know you've got enough fucking words for a novel and I'm willing to listen so don't waste the chance."
"I tried to get him to forgive me but I think I made it worse."
She gave him a play by play and he smirked a little at her mentioning the pine scented car freshener and tried not to let the anger show too much when she mentioned Finn leaving.
"I don't want to make you more upset Rach, but that was a dick move. Which says a lot coming from me."
"I know," she responds sadly. Puck can almost see the wheels turning her head as she's starting to realize that Finn is not this perfect picture that she painted in her head. He's spent years in Finn's shadow when really they're pretty much on even playing field. Sure, his fuck ups are a little more in your face but he's actually worked to fix himself and that should count for more. He doesn't want to be the one to completely tear down the last eight months that she dated him so he lets the words die on his tongue and empties his mug. "I think I need to leave him alone," she finally adds.
He's proud that the girl has come to a solution without any assistance from him. Rachel bites her lips so hard that he thinks she might draw blood so he does the first thing he can think of. He grabs her hand and gives it a squeeze, encouraging her to talk to him.
"I just don't want to be alone," she says sadly, her big brown eyes filling with tears. "I've felt alone in that club until Finn and I started dating then I had someone who…who cared. Now, I have no one."
"That's bullshit and you fucking know it, Rachel. You've got me." She looks down at their hands and back up at him but she doesn't say anything. "You wouldn't have called me tonight if you didn't believe that."
"Of course I'm right," he replies easily with a smirk.
Puck wants to tell her that he's sorry he gave in temptation and kissed her last week. It was a fucking good set of kisses but he could have guessed the outcome when they moved to the bed and she had nipped at his lips. But he's not sorry and if he knew that she would go for it, he would attempt to lean across the small table of the coffee shop and comfort her in the best way he knew how.
But her sad, soft smile stops him. He's thinks he's helped enough that night and he doesn't want to screw it up. Puck silently promises himself to continue to keep an eye out for her. She deserves that much from him.
He keeps an eye on her while they are at Mr. Schuester's apartment decorating the tree and prepping the presents for the homeless kids. Puck has to stop himself from throwing Finn up against a wall when he sees Finn shrug her off and this kicked puppy dog look crosses Rachel's face. He's been keeping up appearances that everything is cool between him and his bro, but ever since he found out that Frankenteen left her at that tree lot, he's been looking for a reason to reintroduce his fist to the quarterback's jaw
Puck knows he was forced here by Ms. Sylvester's crazy threats and although it's totally killing the beginning of his Christmas vacation (legit, Jews get screwed out of everything), he's glad to be there and intervene to save her from like slitting her wrists with the shiny tin Star of David ornament that she snuck onto the tree when no one was looking.
He figures he'll do what he does best and that's fucking flirt his ass off. He's pretty sure Rachel will blush as well as attempt to verbally castrate him and Finn will see red, but if the dude picks a fight, he has no problem with partaking. Nabbing one of the extra candy canes from the decoration pile, he sauntered to where she stood fluffing the branches on the tree and gently ran the wrapped candy up her arm suggestively. She looked up, her brown eyes fiery and impatient, as if his advances were preventing her from putting the finishing touches on the cure for a cancer.
"Wanna lick?" he asked and she blushed deep crimson. Puck held up the candy cane and Rachel quickly went from embarrassed before looking like she might smack the shit out of him.
"Noah, that is absolutely deplorable that you would sexualize holiday themed candy," she reprimands.
"Shit doesn't have to be holiday themed," Puck replied, "Babe, I'm like M&Ms, I melt in your mouth, not in your hand." Again more blushing but this time, there was no lecture attached. Her little pink tongue darted out to wet her lips automatically renewing Puck's desire to kiss her. She was a great kisser – eager, into perfection and shit, so it was pleasure to kiss her. He had to stop himself from the current train of thought before he started to think of other stuff that would most definitely embarrass him.
"What are you thinking about?" she asks straightening a nativity ornament that Quinn had lent to the evening of decorating.
"That I want to kiss you right now," Puck leveled honestly stepping closer to her. She didn't move away so he took that as a good sign. "But I know I can't so don't worry."
She didn't say anything before Finn came over and interrupted whatever moment they were having.
"Is he bothering you Rachel?" Finn asked, the 'oh shucks look' pissing Puck off to no end and before he could apply his brain to mouth filter he's said something he can't take back.
"Like you give a shit," he snaps angrily.
Everyone immediately stilled in his or her decorating efforts. Even Ms. Sylvester looked up from her act of lounging on Mr. Schuester's couch to enjoy the latest McKinley student drama.
"Noah, don't…" he hears Rachel say but Finn heard him loud and clear and wants to know what he means by that.
"Just sayin' that if you care…care all the way because leaving her alone in a Christmas tree lot by herself with no way home is the fucking opposite."
"Finn…" Quinn says appalled, that her one time boyfriend would act in such a way.
"Is this true Finn?" Mr. Schuester asks, the disappointment already written across his face if it is.
Instead of copping to his mistake, Finn went into defensive mode.
"Why do you care? Why do you always have to go after the girls I love?"
Puck rolls his eyes at Finn once again playing the victim card. And he's fucking tired of it. It was time for someone other than Puck to have to own up to his mistakes. Rachel is nearly in tears next to him but she too is taking in the exchange.
"I care because this girl deserves none of the shit you've been feeding her for the last year." He shoves Finn before the giant can take a swing at him. He doesn't want to take a punch but he would love to land one against Frankenteen's face in defense of Rachel.
"Whoa, guys…break it up!" Mr. Schue says getting in between them.
Puck backs off out of respect for their teacher. "Whatever, I'm out. Either you want her or you don't. Enough of this middle of the road bullshit," he says pushing his arms into the sleeves his coat. He's nearly at the door before he bestows one more piece of information to all the members of the glee club. "Oh and Q, Finn kissed Rachel twice last year. Once while knowing full well that you were pregnant."
The members not so affected by this information kind of smirk at the shock factor while Quinn gapes at her ex. Finn lunges at Puck but Mike and Sam catch him before he gains even a step.
With a parting smirk, he heads out of the apartment. He knows it was a low blow but he's glad to have said his piece on the matter. Now everyone can stop looking at Finn like he's the victim when he's no better than the rest of them. He doesn't expect to hear someone running down the steps behind him but it's not Lurch looking for payback. It's Rachel and she wants a ride home. He readily agrees and she follows him to his truck.
She's quiet until they pull up to the curb in front of her house. What comes out of her mouth is a little shocking but it definitely makes him fucking happy that he went to Schuester's that night.
"About what you said by the tree…I'm not ready… I mean, Finn just broke up with me."
"We're not getting hitched tomorrow, babe. Let's just take some time as friends, no plans."
It's as non-committal as he can be while still giving her some reassurance. He's not in the market to be a rebound but he doesn't want to lose her as a friend.
"Do you want to come inside? I'm sure there's some leftover Chinese food in the fridge."
"Fuck yeah babe. And you can turn on the Streisand shit you missed watching with your dads."
Her smile is at full wattage when he says that. Puck quickly realizes that he likes being a different guy. But only for the brunette that is currently sitting shotgun.