Author's Note: I heard "Arms of a Woman" by Amos Lee and for some reason couldn't stop picturing Puck (which, if you know me, is not something I typically do). It isn't my best work, but it had to come out, so I hope you all enjoy it and/or let me know what you think! Thanks everyone!

Puck turned to his side in frustration, willing desperately for sleep to overtake him despite the three-hour attempt that was currently failing miserably. Normally he would fall into bed and right to sleep, his face barely hitting the pillow before he dozed off. Sometimes it was because he was passed out after one too many drinks at a party and other times it was because he was utterly exhausted from running one too many laps after football practice for mouthing off. Or, if he wasn't coming in at a late hour like usual, then he'd lie in bed and crank one out, which was usually enough to relax him into a peaceful slumber.

But those weren't options tonight.

In fact, he'd tried to spank it about two hours ago, but despite a healthy sexual appetite and enough nudie magazines to cover the floor, he couldn't get his brain to turn off long enough to get turned on. Instead, it just kept replaying the entire scene in his head over and over, almost mocking him in the way the result never changed.

"I did this to Finn once before; I can't do it again. I'm sorry, I have to go."

It was the right thing to do, but that didn't make his decision any easier. Or, rather, it didn't make living with the consequences any easier. He did the right thing, played the noble card, and he still didn't end up with the girl. Instead, she took his hesitance as a form of rejection instead of the somewhat subtle compliment it was meant to be.

He didn't want to do something with her out of spite. He didn't want her to regret her decision, and he knew she would have. She was still over the moon in love with Finn Hudson, and the only reason she had ended up making out with him in the first place was because she wanted to get back at Finn.

Puck had done a lot of terrible things in his young life, but he drew the line at being a payback fuck.

But then why couldn't he get over it? Why was he still obsessing over every second of the time they'd been together, even though two weeks had gone by? It was winter break now and he should be able to just sleep in, hang out, and not worry about anything. He shouldn't be lying in bed at fucking eleven-thirty at night just trying to avoid her.

Puck groaned again, doing the math in his head. If it wasn't even midnight yet that meant he had gone to bed before nine. No wonder his mother was threatening to take him to the emergency room. He was actually surprised she didn't call the rabbi to come over and make sure he wasn't possessed or something. The last time Puck had been in bed this early was … well fuck if he remembered. Maybe never.


The sound of his mother's voice broke him out of his thoughts, his body unconsciously turning around to hide his face before she opened up his door a crack. It was easier to pretend to be sleeping than it was to pretend he wasn't moping around. For all her craziness, his mom knew him pretty well, and if she found out about half the shit that was on his mind, she'd spend as much time as it took for him to talk to get absolutely everything out of him.

Thinking he was in the clear once he heard the soft click of his door closing, Puck turned back around to lie on his back, his hands clasping together behind his head while he stared at the ceiling. He figured his mom was checking in to see if he was hungry, which he actually was since he'd skipped dinner in his haste to avoid talking about his feelings. But then he heard another voice, one equally familiar and from a person who was also capable of cutting through his bullshit.

Puck lifted his head, interested to hear the conversation right outside his door. To their defense, the two women tried to whisper, but soft-spoken wasn't exactly an adjective used in combination with either of their names. His mother explained that he was likely coming down with some terrible bug and had been in bed for much of the night. Normally the thought of illness would be enough to get anyone to stay away, but she wasn't exactly anyone.

"I won't be long, Mrs. Puckerman." Rachel entered the room and closed the door behind her, resting her hands on each of her hips as she turned to face him. Puck's bed was still rattling slightly from his less than suave move to turn back to his stomach, Rachel rolling her eyes in response. "Give it up, Noah. I know you are awake."

Puck opened his eyes, contemplating if he had any moves left in his diminishing hand. It was worth noting that when it came to Rachel, almost all his cards were on the table. He supposed she could think that it was all part of some elaborate bluff, but it was easier for Puck to believe that she just wasn't willing to bet on him again.

"Fine. Pretend to be sleeping." He heard her walk closer, the dip in the bottom right side of his bed indication that she'd taken a seat by his feet. "It's entirely possible that this conversation will go much more smoothly without your inane interruptions and crude commentary."

He scoffed quietly to himself, wanting desperately to point out that a conversation with Rachel Berry that went uninterrupted could span days. But, instead, he kept his mouth shut and his eyes forward. The paint on the wall by his bed was peeling and it reminded him that in less than two years his little sister would probably move into the space and transform the room into some pansy-ass ovary zone.

"I know things have been a little uncomfortable in our group of misfits for quite some time, but I thought we were starting to get back to where we used to be." She paused then, apparently thinking of exactly what she wanted to say. It was actually surprising, considering Rachel usually had about three-fourths of her speeches pre-thought out and well rehearsed enough that she barely had to stop for air. "We were all there, having a generally good time. But it wasn't the same." She gave an empty shrug. "Everyone kept asking where you were."

Inwardly, Puck smiled. He was normally the life of the party, the one whose attendance determined if was even worth it to go. And that was never truer than it was for the glee club. Even before the shit hit the fan before Sectionals, Mr. Schue had suggested they try to hang out more during non-school hours in an effort to create more of a team dynamic. He'd said the group was becoming entirely too cliquey, which no one could really deny. Despite no one actually being related, the way the entire club had basically coupled up was a bit incestuous. In fact, now that Finn and Rachel were on the outs, Puck wondered how quickly everything would unravel.

Before, Rachel had naturally been the one who took the lead planning the activities and guilting people into coming. They went bowling once, to the movies another time, and there was of course the trip to see Kurt and The Warblers perform. Tonight's gathering, however, had been Brittany's idea, spawned by the upcoming new year and her house's lack of parental units. For once in maybe the history of McKinley, the "non-cool" kids in glee club were invited to a major party.

"Finn said you seemed fine earlier today."

Puck didn't know if he was more upset that Finn had ratted him out or that Finn and Rachel had obviously spoke at the party. He and Finn had patched things up – they had a tendency to do that; Puck had given Finn plenty of reasons to hate his living, breathing guts for all eternity, but there weren't a lot of new options for best friends and something about wasting ten years of friendship didn't seem worth it – but they both avoided Rachel in conversation. Their friendship worked better if they just played video games or talked about sports and stuff, which is why when Puck had mentioned he wasn't going to the party tonight, Finn didn't ask.

The kid might be dumber than rocks, but you didn't have to be a rocket scientist to know why Puck might not be in the mood to ring in the new year in the same space as Rachel Berry.

"Noah!" Her voice grew more impatient, more insistent that he, at the very least, acknowledge her.

And, J-dawg help him, he couldn't deny her anymore. They went to the same school, the same synagogue, the same fucking everything because it was Lima, Ohio, and there weren't a lot of options for variety. And yet he somehow had managed to avoid her for the past two weeks. If she was going one way, he went the other. If she sat in the front, he picked the back. Two entire weeks of not saying a single word to her, and now the time had come.

"For fuck's sake, Berry." Puck rolled onto his back, his leg brushing against her before he slid it to the opposite side. The motion had been so quick that one might have thought she'd burned him. It wasn't necessarily far from the truth. "What the Hell do you want?"

"I … I …" She choked on her words, startled by his sudden abrasiveness. "I want to know why you've been avoiding me!"

"Don't flatter yourself, Rachel." She bowed her head at the acid dripping from his lips, and Puck hated himself at that moment just a little more than before. Maybe this was why he was avoiding her. Whenever she was around, the only thing he managed to do was hurt her. "It's winter break. I'm avoiding everybody."

"Oh really?" The second he saw her lift her one hand and use the index finger of her other to touch the index finger of the first hand, he knew he was in trouble. "You hung out with Finn this afternoon." She touched her middle finger. "Artie said you helped him find a Christmas present at the mall last week." She moved to her ring finger. "Tina said you and Mike had a pick-up game of basketball during the weekend."

When she went to count on her pinkie finger, he grabbed her hands to still the motion. The gesture conveniently halted her words, too, giving Puck a chance to think. Unfortunately, all he could think about was how soft her skin was, and how perfectly her hands fit into his.

Maybe now would be a good time to change out of his sweatpants into a pretty little dress.

"I pride myself on being a very observant individual, Noah, but the difference between the truth and your fabrications of the truth is material for amateurs."

Puck finally removed her hands from his, pushing his fists into the mattress to prop himself up to a sitting position. She was completely serious and had a valid point, but he couldn't help the smirk that had emerged on his face. In Rachel speak, she had just said, "Liar liar, pants on fire."

"You want the truth?" Puck ran his eyes up and down her silhouette, pausing an extra second on the bare skin of her thighs. Winter in Ohio was nothing to joke about, but leave it to Rachel to keep wearing the shortest skirts known to man regardless of the weather. "You look good tonight."

"Thank you." Rachel rolled her eyes, pulling down on the hem of her skirt but failing to move the fabric enough to cover the area Puck seemed fixated on. "But that doesn't explain why you have been avoiding me."

"Doesn't it?"

He leaned forward, his eyes slowly grazing up before pushing her long hair back behind her right shoulder, noting the new expanse of bare skin. Rachel had obviously taken off her coat when she'd arrived, her top suitable for a high school party in a warm house but not for a cold December evening. However, it wasn't the bare shoulders or even the subtle view of cleavage to which Puck paid most attention; rather, it was the unobstructed view of her slender neck that caught his attention most.

Without his best friend's name branded on the smooth skin, Rachel never looked hotter.


Her voice was strangled, affected. He knew the sound anywhere, his ear trained for it like Rachel's ears were trained to hone out a flat singer. But he had never heard it from her. She was a passionate person, but she was rarely thwarted in her attempts to overanalyze a situation to death. Research was her middle name, and he got some sick pleasure out of being the one who could strip her of that quality.

Dipping into the sensitive spot where her neck and shoulder met, Puck touched his lips to her skin. A cocky grin slipped onto his face when he felt her shudder at the contact, his lips pecking at Rachel's neckline until he found himself at the same sensitive spot on the other side. Her mouth was millimeters from Puck's ear and he groaned at the breathy whimper she let out.

This might also have something to do with why he was avoiding her.

I am at ease in the arms of a woman

Although now most of my days are spent alone

A thousand miles from the place I was born

When she wakes me, she takes me back home

She set him on fire. Not the dull, burning ache that he often felt with girls; that type of pain could be healed with a quickie or even a string of sexts. With Rachel, it was like a scorching, fiery path of destruction. Every moment he seized to extinguish the flames just made them spread, his yearning for her growing more and more with each passing encounter. It didn't matter how much experience he'd had or how much of a stud he was. When he was with Rachel, everything got flipped on his head. It all felt new and exciting and unbearably hot that he wanted it to last forever and yet couldn't wait for it all to be over with so he could assess the damage and rebuild.

His desire for her coursed through his veins as thick as his blood, and no amount of bro code or honor was going to stop him this time.

"Lie down," he instructed, lifting to his knees and moving to the foot of the bed while Rachel obliged his request. Her hair was sprawled out all over his pillow and her chest was rising and falling so quickly that he wondered if she would pass out. "Relax."

Rachel nodded her head, inhaling a deep breath and letting it out loudly while her hands moved to clasp in front of her stomach. Puck grinned down at her, surprised at how obedient she was being. Rachel Berry never took orders, and she rarely listened to suggestions either. This was something he'd probably point out, except he knew his good luck couldn't last forever with Rachel. Even the slightest joke right then would no doubt lead to her slapping him in the face before storming out in her usual diva fashion, leaving Puck all alone in his room, horny as all Hell.

Very slowly, Puck unclasped the buckles on Rachel's Mary Janes, undoing the small straps that secured the shoes to her feet and setting them down on the floor as quietly as he could so he didn't earn his mother's attention. She learned long ago not to come into his room without knocking, but he didn't even want her to do that. The last thing he needed was an interruption that brought Rachel back to reality when she was obviously so far gone that she was not only allowing things to go this far, but aiding in the forward progression of things.

Next to go, at an equally methodical pace, were Rachel's knee-high socks, Puck's fingers skimming down the smooth skin of her leg until both garments were placed down with her shoes. She shuddered again, her eyes closing tightly in response. With her one leg up in his grip, Puck kissed her ankle, looking back down at her face for her reaction. When he saw her eyes were still closed, Puck repeated the action, this time ending the embrace with a slight nip.

Rachel's eyes shot open, Puck meeting her gaze with a small smirk. Surprisingly, she smiled back, moving up to lean on her elbows and then into a sitting position. Her knees were still high enough that he could see a small view of the kind of underwear she was wearing under her skirt, but oddly enough the look in her eyes compelled him to only look back at her.

"It's almost midnight," she whispered, her head turning just slightly to face his bedside table. The green LED lights of his alarm clock shone the time, precisely two minutes before the new year. He wondered briefly if this was how she envisioned 2011 starting, but then he felt her fingers brush against his bare skin as she grabbed at the hem of his wife beater and started bringing it up over his head. He let her toss it to the floor, let her eyes scan his toned chest and abs without any mockery.

Typically he'd say something asinine like, "Yea, I know I'm a stud," but he honestly couldn't find any words to make that moment any better for him. Her eyes on him - with something foreign paired with a flash of lust ripping across the chocolate orbs - was more powerful than he expected. Why had he been avoiding her again?

"Kiss me," she pleaded softly. "Before we do anything else, please just … kiss me."

At that moment, the air in the room changed. It was like the smoke from the fire wasn't suffocating Puck anymore, but rather it was creating a cloak of invisibility for him and Rachel. The rest of the world outside his room couldn't look in and see what was happening, and the two people inside didn't have to worry about admitting to anyone else that what was happening was real. It wasn't about avoiding her or proving a point or even sticking it to Finn. It was about two people together at the beginning of the new year, and silently wishing it would be different. Two people who maybe shouldn't be together for whatever reasons, but who couldn't help but want to explore what could happen if they were.

So he kissed her.

And then really everything changed. Because that fire he'd been avoiding, watching from a distance as it spread throughout his body, overtook his entire being. When Rachel's lips hit his, he burst into flames. Her hands came up to cradle his cheeks between her hands, and it was the closest he'd ever been to internal combustion. That kiss, that moment, wasn't about conquering what could possibly be the holy grail of McKinley High or even about adding another notch on his bedpost. What was happening that night was no longer dirty or taboo. It was passionate. Intimidate. It was Rachel's first time and she wanted it to be with him. She trusted him enough to share that moment with her, and suddenly that was the only thing that mattered.

As Rachel led them down back to the mattress, her hands drifting from his cheeks to his broad shoulders and then down the contours of his back, their tongues continued to explore the moist caverns of each other's mouth. They'd kissed before, but this was different. Neither of them were in any hurry, each languid plunge of the other's tongue somehow having more emotion to it than the previous one.

Puck wasn't sure what emotion was trying to get out and even if he did and wasn't admitting it to himself, he wasn't going to waste perfectly good boner time thinking about it. Instead, he left her juicy, pouty lips and moved slowly down her jaw line. Rachel tilted her head back and exposed more perfect, smooth skin. He didn't know what possessed him to do it, but Puck couldn't help but press a soft kiss to her pulse point, licking the tiny area in fascination of feeling it seemingly respond to his touch.

He felt her nails skim across the planes of his stomach, surprised when she dipped both hands into his sweat pants. She was obviously unsure about what exactly to do (he knew Finnessa was a pussy), but grew more confident when Puck let out a long, strangled groan, his head slacking to her shoulder. He tried to continue his assault on the sensitive areas of her neck, but much of his focus was being used to keep from blowing his wad.

Seriously, was there anything Rachel Berry wasn't great at?

"Touch me, Noah." Holy. Fuck. Seriously? "Please?"

Her words hit him like a flash fire, the patience from before completely lost from his next actions. He ripped her blouse apart at the middle, his lips and teeth assaulting the exposed skin of her chest while his hands moved under her body to unclasp her bra. The speed at which he accomplished the task was unmatched by many, but Puck didn't take time to gloat or even savor the moment of a bare-breasted Rachel below him for the first time. Instead, he paid the soft mounds the rightful attention they deserved, his mouth and hand working in tandem to bring Rachel as much pleasure as possible.

After Puck flicked his tongue over her nipple, her attention to his groin tempered off to nonexistent. Her head shot up, and Rachel's chin rested on his shoulder before slowly sliding down. Just when he let her think she was in the clear, Puck moved to the other breast and paid it an equal amount of adoring attention, eliciting a high-pitched gasp and then a drawn out groan from Rachel. She moved her mouth closer to Puck's ear, tracing the outer shell with her tongue in the same pattern he was using on his trail up her chest back to her neck before biting softly on his earlobe and letting out a breathy whisper that was either "Fuck" or "Puck."

Considering the rarity he'd heard either word, it had the same sexy effect.

"More?" He questioned, his cocky tone so well practiced that it couldn't be avoided. And Rachel being Rachel, with her own traits that couldn't be ignored, didn't just answer but took control, lifting her legs up and using her toes to pull down his sweat pants. It certainly wasn't the first time it had been done to him, but her confidence in this situation, when he knew she was scared and new at everything, was astounding.

It wasn't just about trusting him, but about Puck being able to provoke her to act a certain way, and visa versa. He could slip his hand under her skirt and tease her most private area, and instead of some melodramatic speech or insane freak out, Rachel urged him forward by arching into his touch. She could manage to push his boxers down and gasp at his size in almost the same breath, but instead of his standard arrogance he looked into her eyes to reassure himself that she wasn't using her acting skills.

They weren't just hormone-crazed teenagers, but also two competitive people; for every swipe or flick of his fingers, she countered with an equally enticing stroke or pull.

"Puckasaurus, indeed," she grinned lightly, his own smile breaking before he bent down to kiss her again. It had been too long since he'd kissed her, his lips having regained feeling far too long ago. Rachel sighed into the embrace, her hands abandoning his member and trailing up his torso tantalizing slow until she reached the back of his head. Her fingers wove through the short strands of his Mohawk, and Puck felt that urgency from before flood his body.

Within seconds, he removed Rachel's skirt and panties in one swift motion, moving the garments down her lean legs while coming to a stand by his bed so he could fully remove his own clothes. He basked in the vision of her sprawled out naked on his bed - no matter what happened after tonight, this memory would always be position number one in his spank bank. He could see her blush even from the slight distance, but her eyes stayed opened and trained on his.

"Last chance to bail, Berry." He gave her the option even though he knew it might have actually killed him if she backed out now. Luckily, her response was simply sitting up and grabbing a condom from his nightstand, extending it toward him. Puck nodded once and grabbed the prophylactic from her grip, ripping the foil package open with his teeth while coming back to kneel on the bed.

With the condom secure and both of them more than ready, Puck took a deep breath and made one, strong thrust. The second he broke through her barrier, all motion stilled. The fire wasn't even close to burned out yet, but it was like they both had to stop and marvel at its beauty for a moment even while it was destroying everything around them. He didn't move, she didn't move … and it felt like the Earth had stopped moving, too.

His forehead rested against hers while he watched her eyes slowly open. She seemed lost but utterly focused, looking so deep into his eyes that he wondered for what she was looking. Or, rather, what she was able to see. It felt like she could see into his soul, and for the first time in his life, he wanted to be the man he saw in the reflection of her eyes. It was a new year, and this was a new opportunity for him.

He could be the one who put that look in her eyes, but he could also be the one who made her dig her nails deep into his back. He could meet her beat for beat in the choir room, and thrust for thrust in the bedroom. In fact, the way their hips rocked together was a different kind of music, but a tune to which he had no trouble finding him rhythm. He had no problem being the one she released her anger on, and he really had no problems being the one who helped her find her release (just as long as he found his right after, and it was as powerful as it was just then).

Puck could be the one who could take care of her in every aspect of her life if she just said the word.

"I love you," she whispered, her breathing labored as she wrapped her arms tightly around his neck. Puck let all his weight rest on her small frame for a moment, his mind so completely occupied with what she'd said that he could barely fathom sending the correct signal to push himself off her. Those weren't exactly the words he had meant. But, then again, when he moved to the side and she snuggled into him, her arm resting on his chest before falling asleep almost instantly from exhaustion., he couldn't find any fault in them either.


He loved her back.

Now most days I spend like a child

Who's afraid of ghosts in the night

I know there ain't nothing out there

But I'm still afraid to turn on the light

An hour later, Puck was still trying to figure out when it might have happened. How in the fuck did it happen again? Finn and him were finally on their way to getting things back to normal, and now Puck didn't just sleep with another one of his ex-girlfriends, but he … made love to her? He groaned, running his free hand over his face in frustration. The other hand was trapped under Rachel's small frame, the appendage seemingly having a mind of its own as his fingers danced softly over the soft skin of her back in a soothing, rhythmic motion.

Puck knew he was a screw-up. Last year he slept with his best friend's girl and got her pregnant and then couldn't even keep it in his pants long enough to convince said girl that they could be a family. Quinn wasn't a screw up. She was smart; she knew exactly what would have happened if they had kept Beth. They would be living the same sad, pathetic life almost everyone else in the stupid town was, and their poor baby girl would probably repeat the cycle.

Now Beth had a chance, they all did. Quinn was back on the Cheerios and back on top, which was just where she felt most comfortable. She cared less about popularity than she let on, and she'd started paying more attention to her grades. In a quiet conversation during the summer – back when they were the only two people who could understand what the other was going through – she'd told him that she hoped to be a pediatric nurse one day. She wanted to be the one in that room full of babies, comforting them and displaying them for their waiting families pressed against the window.

Puck, similarly, kept his reputation in order simply by what he'd done. He was a junior in high school and managed to bang his best friend's girlfriend and lie about it for months. Then they had a kid and he didn't even have to care for it, but rather could go right back to doing it all over again. Even if he never had any intention of putting himself anywhere near that same position again, to everyone else he was a god.

But he had bigger dreams, too. He wanted to get out of Lima, and he wanted to do something with his life. He wanted to prove everyone wrong, and do it on his own terms. His grades weren't the best, but now that the football team was actually winning the chance of a scholarship went up considerably. And even if it hadn't, there was always the chance that he'd get one for glee. With Rachel's help, he was sure he could at least get enough to impress a state school.


She was going places. That girl probably came out of her mom's vagina singing and dancing. And in perfect key, no doubt. She was incredible, and all the jokes and teasing that claimed otherwise really were just spawned from jealousy. Rachel had dreams of being a big Broadway star and winning a Grammy and living in New York, and they were all going to come true. Everyone who knew her now would be sitting in their doublewide trailers or shitty single-family homes with their bratty-ass kids and bitch of a wife or dick of a husband and they'd go, "I used to know her."

And no matter what might have happened between them – Puck still wasn't convinced it all wasn't some elaborate dream – he knew he would be one of them. Even if he did manage to turn his life around and make something of himself, he knew one day he'd turn on the TV and see her performing the national anthem at the Super Bowl or being interviewed by some anorexic TV host about what dress she was wearing and whether she was excited to be nominated for such and such award. And that's when he'd know that he hadn't done anything with his life that mattered, because she was there and he was wherever he was.

I am at ease in the arms of a woman

Although now most of my days are spent alone

A thousand miles from the place I was born

When she wakes me, she takes me back home

Puck closed his eyes tighter and moaned, wishing the pain would go away. He woke up like this many times, and he instantly knew this was different. The throbbing, pins-and-needles feeling wasn't in his head, but instead it seemed more centered on his arm. He knew if he opened his eyes he would have to wake up, and since it felt like he'd only just gone to bed he kept them closed while trying to bring some life back into his right arm. There was a strong weight on the appendage that kept it secure, and suddenly the entire night came flashing back.


New year.



Suddenly the pain in his arm didn't matter anymore, the one he felt in his chest taking precedent. He must have fallen asleep before figuring out what the hell he was going to do about everything that had happened. The last thing he remembered was thinking he should wake her up and tell her to leave, but when he looked down at her peaceful face he couldn't bring himself to do it. He'd just silently relented to the fact that she'd wake up and run back to Finn, and that last night was all the time he was going to have. So he put both arms around her and fell asleep, basking in the feeling that had been so new and so real that it completely caught him off guard.

Even though he knew it wasn't, as he could feel her still pressed against him, Puck almost wished it were all just a dream. Then he wouldn't have to deal with all the emotions, all the confusion. It would just be easier if it were a dream. A terrific, once-in-a-lifetime dream that he'd never tell anyone about, but would go to sleep every night wishing it happened again.

"You seem a million miles away."

Her voice cut through his thoughts like a knife, effectively halting any illusion he was under that their time together had just been imaginary. She didn't sound upset or unhappy, but he did detect a bit of anxiousness in her tone. He was anxious too, worried that when he opened his eyes she'd have that expression on her face that told him she thought what they did was a mistake. And fuck, he spent a good portion of the night while she was sleeping thinking the same thing.

But when he was thinking it, it was because Rachel deserved better. She deserved better than him, better than losing her virginity on his shitty twin bed with his mother and little sister down the hall. She deserved the fairytale first-time experience, with the candles and the rose petals and the soft music playing in the background. And he'd tried to make it good for her, make the whole thing as pain free and pleasurable as possible, but it wasn't enough.

He wasn't enough.

"Noah, once again I know you are awake, so will you please talk to me?"

Puck sighed, dragging his eyelids open. The sun that peaked through the window was blinding, low enough in the frame that he knew it could only be six or seven in the morning. The towel he used as a curtain didn't quite cover the whole window, and he could see at least four inches of snow had fallen during the course of the night. Didn't it always seem to snow the most on days when you didn't have school to begin with and therefore it couldn't be cancelled?

Slowly he turned his head to face her, his breath actually catching in his throat. She was beautiful. Her hair was tousled and her eye makeup was faded and smudged, and she was clinging the sheet to her olive chest like a lifeline. And even though Puck had slept with plenty of girls (and women, too), he had never seen anyone more breathtaking than her at that moment. Then again, he didn't usually let them stay the night, so maybe that had something to do with it.

"You're still here," he stated rather gruffly, his voice unfamiliar with the hour. Even when he did have to wake up early (for school or during the summer for his pool cleaning business), he didn't normally talk until at least having a cup of coffee.

"I-Is that … OK?" She stuttered, gripping the sheet even more tightly. "I-I could go."

"I'm just surprised," he finally responded, his tone a little gentler. He wanted to keep acting hard, to pretend like it didn't matter either way, but he couldn't help but like her like this. Rachel was normally so confident and sure of herself that it was annoying. But he liked that he made her nervous. And, in a way, he liked that she made him nervous. Both their egos could certainly afford to be lowered a notch, and in a weird way they balanced each other out. He could keep it real when she started wigging out, and she could push him to be better when he strayed.

"Why?" She breathed.

Puck turned away from her penetrating stare. He really didn't want to talk about this. He didn't want to explain all the reasons he knew she was going to regret this decision, and he certainly didn't want to talk about them while they were still naked. She'd moved away from him slightly after her question, but her leg was still tangled between his, and he felt the embers of the fire start to warm up.

"Because of Finn?"

Puck let out a breath, one he hadn't realized he'd been holding. The fact that it was her first thought actually pissed him off, his expression cold when he turned his head back to face her. When he'd thought she deserved better, he didn't mean Finn. Finn couldn't take care of her the way Puck could. He didn't understand her the way Puck did.

"You're even now," he said gravely. "He slept with Santana and you slept with me. Now you guys can start fresh."

"I don't … want to start fresh." She shook her head slightly from side to side, letting one hand hold the sheet to her chest while the other pressed into the skin of the pectoral above his heart. It was like blowing on the embers, the heat radiating off her touch and moving through his body. It was hard to ignore the watery reflection of himself when now he could also hear it in her voice. "Not with him."

They both opened their eyes then, looking back at each other in almost the same exact fashion as they had last night. Puck now knew the foreign flash of feeling that was mixed with the lust had been love, and he wondered if Rachel was able to see the same thing shining back in his. And if so, could others tell as well?

"Finn is a wonderful person with a great heart, and I know we'll be friends for a very long time. But … when we kissed before break," she shrugged emptily, "something happened. Something changed."

Puck nodded his head in understanding. That kiss had changed a lot more than just what everyone else could see. Yes, it made Puck and Finn have to hash out all the Quinn/Beth stuff finally. And yes, Rachel and Finn had broken up. But no one could see the rest of what had happened. No one could see Puck fail to notice all the other girls swooning over him. They couldn't tell that Rachel had been more upset that Puck was avoiding her than she was that she was single again.

"You're the most popular boy in school and you could have any girl you want, so I figured you would never feel the same way." Rachel sucked her bottom lip between her teeth, worrying the soft flesh for a few seconds as she thought of how much of herself she wanted to put out there. "But, after last night …" She trailed off, clearly hoping that was enough.

And it was, for Puck anyway, because he knew what she couldn't say just like he hoped she knew what he wasn't saying.

"We should go back to bed." He took a second to smirk. "Every year, my mom and little sister help out at the synagogue today."

"That's very admirable. Do you join …"

He silenced her with a fiery kiss, the action like throwing a match onto lighter fluid. It consumed him, Puck derailed from his original plan for a few minutes longer than intended. He felt like an arsonist (which actually made sense considering how everyone expected him to end up a criminal), each new fire like another shot of adrenaline. Instead of stopping and realizing the damage he was doing (mostly to his psyche), Puck wanted more. He wanted to know how much hotter things could get, whether the heat would ever die down between them.

"When they're gone, I want to see just how vocal you are, Berry." He leered, adding the "in all aspects of your life" line with his smoldering look.

"I suppose there could be some benefits to sleeping in a few more hours." Rachel bit her lip, though he wasn't sure if the expression meant she was trying to hide the smile that was forming because Puck had persuaded her to stay or if she trying to hide the embarrassment that it didn't take much convincing. "And even though I didn't follow my typical workout routine, I think I like your way of burning calories better."

Puck chuckled low in his throat, nodding his head once while each of them scooted back down into the mattress. He casually threw his right arm around her, pulling her shoulder closer so her body nestled into his frame. Rachel sighed and slid her right arm across his stomach, the sensation it stirred an odd mix of erotic and peaceful. He didn't know why, especially since it definitely hadn't been the case with anyone else, but Puck felt at ease like this.

He didn't really have ADD or ADHD or anything like that, but he had convinced his mom and the doctors that he did back in elementary school. They'd given him a prescription for Ritalin and he kept it all the way until last year when his mom found out he was selling the pills to classmates. Now he sometimes used it as an excuse to get out of doing boring shit, but it wasn't why he hated keeping still.

He just didn't like to feel trapped. It was the ultimate joke for why he stayed away from relationships, women so often having such a stronghold on their mates that Puck thought he'd choke in the same scenario. Quinn had been absolutely suffocating, and Santana was bat-shit crazy even if they just fooled around. But Rachel … she was different.

Puck's left hand moved from its spot behind his head to intertwine her fingers with his. He felt her smile against his chest, her eyelash skimming across his skin as she closed her eyes. He felt her soft, comforting breath dance around him and pressed a kiss to the top of her head. He wasn't tired in the least anymore, but was more than willing to spend the rest of the day with his arms wrapped around her and hers around him.

Because with Rachel, it just felt … natural.

I am at ease in the arms of a woman

Although now most of my days are spent alone

A thousand miles from the place I was born

When she wakes me, she takes me

Yeah when she wakes me, she takes me

Yeah when she wakes me, she takes me back home

When she wakes me, she takes me back home