Noah Puckerman clambered out of his beat-up old pickup truck and made his way wearily up the steps to the apartment block in front of him. He was dressed in well-worn blue jeans and a tight white vest top that showed off his guns. His hands were rough and calloused, stained with the evidence and exertion of a hard day's work. He leaned against the cool paintwork of the front door, waiting to be let in. The aluminium felt pleasant against his warm skin; it was a hot day in Lima, Ohio, and the back of his neck burned a little.

As he waited, a sigh fluttered through Puck's lips. He felt weary, and bored out of his skull. Lima was the same backwoods cow-town he had thought it to be in his youth, but despite all his claims aged sixteen that he would never be a 'Lima Loser', here he was. He had had all sorts of grand plans in high school- football scholarships, a record deal, you name it. But the truth of the matter was, Puck had never had much drive. In the end, contrary to everything he had professed, here he was. Twenty-seven years of age, still living with his mom, and working as a grease monkey in Hummel Tires and Lube. He wasn't sure that he was a typical Lima loser- one thing he had made certain of was that he wouldn't be a deadbeat like his dad- but he figured it was pretty close. The idea stung his pride a little.

He still thought back to high school sometimes, but more often than not it just made him realise all over again how he had never gone on to bigger and better things. He didn't really see any of the old crew that often anymore; they had all grown up and moved on, apart from him and Santana. Britt and Artie were living in Westerville- he'd been to the wedding two years ago, and that was the last time he had spoken to most of his former friends- but they were so busy with life that they didn't really have time to keep in touch. Artie was a computer programmer for some hi-spec firm and Britt was making a small fortune with that dance school of hers. The Brittany Pierce Puck had known could barely tie her own shoelaces without assistance, and while he knew she still maintained her childlike innocence, she was a natural with the kids. Parents from all over Ohio had their kids on waiting lists to get into her classes. Santana still spoke to their old friend pretty regularly, and she said that Britt and Artie were trying for a baby. Puck couldn't think of a couple who would make better parents.

His thoughts were interrupted by the brash buzzing that signalled he was being let up. Eager for company, he bounded up the stairs two at a time and hammered on the door of apartment 21. He waited for a moment, panting with a mixture of exertion and anticipation, until the door opened.

Santana Lopez stood before him, leaning against the doorframe with her trademark smirk in place. The years since McKinley had been kind to her, but although she swore it due to a careful diet and exercise regime, Puck was of the opinion that the boob job she had their junior year hadn't been the end of her cosmetic work. Having said that, her body was still to die for. He could feel his breath quicken just at the sight of her. She wore grey sweatpants and had on a red Adidas track top. Puck felt a smile rise on his lips at that; ever since Santana had taken over from Coach Sylvester as the Cheerios' coach, she had continued this aspect of her mentor's tradition. However, as Puck stared, she began to tug at the zipper and he realised that she was wearing nothing beneath the red fabric apart from a lacy black bra. His pulse quickened as she pulled him inside, still wearing that smirk of hers.

"Uh... can we... I mean..."

"Relax Puckerbutt," Santana teased playfully. She started to make her way towards her small bedroom, tugging her hair from its restricting ponytail as she went. "Carmen's on a sleepover at her friend's house."

A sigh of relief escaped Puck and he followed her hastily. Santana turned unexpectedly and he caught her, hoisting her up onto his hips with expertise and nipping at her exposed neck. Santana was good at this; they knew each other well and each could anticipate how the other would move. She pressed her lips to Puck's hungrily as they fell down onto the bed and began to scrabble at the zipper of his jeans as he shimmied her sweatpants over her thin hips. They moved as one and quickly she was left lying in only her bra and thong, barely-there wisps of lace that made Puck want her more than ever.

"I know you've got a thing for doing the bra yourself," Santana said silkily, arching herself so that they were flush to each other. Puck grinned wolfishly and turned her, quickly removing the bra with expertise. The pair slid their hands over each other fluidly, melting effortlessly into each other. Puck and Santana had been doing this since high school, and though it had never worked as a relationship they still found comfort and companionship in each other's touch. Both had had relationships after high school, the most notable of which being a six-month fling with a DJ from Carmel that left Santana with a baby and no financial support, but the only constants in their lives had become each other. It wasn't even about the sex so much anymore, although that was still the easiest part of what they had. It was more about afterwards, when they had gone long enough for even Puck to be exhausted, and they would just lie there and talk to each other in hushed, quiet voices. Above all, for Puck at least, and he was pretty sure Santana felt the same, it was about feeling that he wasn't the only one life had left behind.

"San, do you ever miss them?" was the question Puck posed today, rolling languidly onto his side to face her. Santana bit her lip for a moment in contemplation and then her expression cleared.

"Every day," she whispered huskily, and there was such undisguised pain in her eyes that Puck felt a sudden urge to hold her and make that hurt go away. Instead, however, he spoke in what he hoped was a comforting voice.

"Me too. Sometimes, I just wish we could go back to when we were still kids, you know, and the only things we had to worry about were English papers and who was hookin' up with who..."

For one moment, Santana looked at him with that same haunted expression, but then she jabbed him in the ribs with her bony elbow and the moment was gone.

"What the hell, Puckerman? Y'know, if I wanted to be with a girl, I could be," she smirked. Puck rolled his eyes and sat upright, pulling his boxers back on. Outside, he could hear the traffic rushing by. Languidly, he made his way across the room and pulled back the drapes to look out at the world ticking by down below. There was a rustle as Santana came to stand next to him, wrapped in her pale peach bed sheet with her hair hanging in a dark tangle around her face. The two of them stood in peaceful silence until, out of nowhere, Santana swore under her breath.

"Jeez, looks like something nasty just went down," she said in a hushed voice as they watched a caravan of ambulances and police cars tear down the street outside. Puck shivered and was secretly glad when Santana curled into his side. It felt pleasantly comfortable, having her hold him like this on those rare occasions when she allowed emotion to creep through her icy fa├žade.

"I wonder who the poor bastard is?" he mused.


A/N: I know it's started off slow, but please bear with me! The first few chapters will involve setting the scene, but once we get everyone back to Lima the pace will pick up, I promise. In the meantime, please review with your thoughts and/or ideas on what should be going on with the other former gleeks!