You can owe me
A/N: So...some of you may notice that this really doesn't look like an epilogue to Rachel takes one for the team. I promise that it's still on the way, this is just sort of what happened when I opened google docs. (I blame MLB spring training and also the Puckrachel drabble meme at LJ.) Thank you so much for reading!
He's not spying on her because that's fucking bullshit.
Not the spying part because as far as career choices go, anyone who runs around shooting assholes and defusing bombs and getting laid is basically the shit. Hell, he and Finn spent most of seventh grade pretending they were secret agents and sneaking around places they shouldn't have, including the McKinley girls' locker room. Finn sucked ass at it, even though this was before Frankenteen got his growth spurt, but he was totally awesome which is how he got to see Allie Lambert's spanks and yeah, that sort of set up an unhealthy obsession with the Cheerios for a while, but whatever.
Point is, he's not spying on her because it's fucking lame to be spying on a girl who shoots you down over and over again, even though the two of you have this amazing chemistry. The kind of chemistry that makes your lips automatically gravitate towards each other whenever you're alone in a room together. The kind of chemistry that makes you do stupid shit for her just because she asks you to with those melting brown eyes or a little stomp of her foot. The kind of chemistry that means that you're still maybe kind of hung up on her even though she dumped your ass a year and a half ago.
Shit, it's not like he's waiting around for her to figure out that he's the better option than either of the two idiots she's been with in the meantime (he treated her like a fucking queen that week they were dating.) He keeps busy: Lauren, Satan, whoever. Only he kind of likes to keep an eye on her because whether her ideas are insane and sketchy (original songs for Regionals?) or insane and awesome (her ass in a football uniform kind of owns his life) someone has to make sure she doesn't get in over her head. And since Hudson voluntarily gave up that right (moron) it's going to be him.
So when Rachel starts pulling the male Gleeks aside after practice, or during lunch or between classes, he notices. It takes him about three minutes to decide that he's gonna brush off a few of those espionage skills and find out what the hell is going on. And you know, beat the shit out of people if it becomes necessary.
She corners Evans first. The two of them are sitting alone at a table in the lunch room, which makes it easy because all he has to do to get close is flirt with the lunch-lady. Not only does he hear most of their conversation, but he also gets an extra pudding cup. Bonus.
From his position, he can see Rachel staring soulfully into Sam's eyes. Poor fuck doesn't even know what he's letting himself in for with that.
"Please Sam? Just give it some thought."
"I don't know Rachel. I mean it seems like it would be awkward," Sam says hesitantly.
Heh. Whatever she's after, she's not going to give up that easily.
"I wish you'd consider it. I mean obviously I've done it myself dozens of times, but while this might seem like a horrible stereotype I just think that kind of thing works better with a male."
Funny. The way she's putting it almost sounds like...
"The thing is, I mean Rachel, you're nice and all, but I'm just not...wouldn't the two of us have to be dating for that to work?"
Fuck! He squeezed the cup too hard and now there's fucking chocolate pudding everywhere!
"No! Not at all. In fact if you're worried, I wouldn't even have to be at home. You could come over this Saturday afternoon while I'm at ballet practice. And there must be something you want in return? Something that I could help you with?"
None of his business of course. (So why are your fists still clenched, asshole?)
"Actually Rachel, there kinda is something. I've been wanting to sing something for Santana, but I don't know. I just need some help picking something good."
He could save them some time. ACDC's Ballbreaker. No-brainer.
"Oh Sam!" Rachel's clasping her hands together and he can hear how breathy her voice is. (He's heard that tone under different circumstances.) "That's wonderful! I've got several files that I keep in the choir room and I know we'll find something just perfect!"
The two of them walk past him to the exit and Rachel waves while he's still trying to mop up pudding with those stupid paper napkins. Shit. This is his favorite shirt too.
Saturday afternoon he happens to be driving past Rachel's house. (Fuck you, it's almost Memorial Day and he's putting up some fliers for his pool business. You know, the legitimate one.) Sure enough, Evans' Ford is parked in front, along with the Lexus that Rachel's tall black dad drives. Rachel's Civic is nowhere in sight.
He thinks maybe he does see it in front of her dance studio, because really, how many minty-green Civic hybrids can there be in Lima? But since he was only downtown to get a not-too-horribly-old burrito at the Central Avenue 7-11 (he's got the distribution schedule memorized), he's not sure.
Two weeks later with Mike he's got to work backwards a little. The two of them are in math class, which is kind of unusual but he tries to make a point of going the day the quizzes are returned because it's so damn funny watching the teacher give Mike all these dirty looks, like she's personally disappointed that he's fucked up all her racist theories about Asians being good at math. (Seriously though, she doesn't know disappointment until she's seen Chang with nunchucks. All Asians have freaky ninja skills, his ass.)
So he's turning back to Mike with the usual B+ that he scores for being a total BAMF (and also because Artie's been tutoring him since he got out of juvie) and Mike? Mike's trying to cover his score up. Sorry, not going to happen.
"Hey dude, isn't that your mother chasing Tina down the hall with some incense and a chicken leg?"
"What? Crap! Tina hates that shit!"
Too easy. He snatches Mike's paper from his desk and what the fuck? A ninety-seven? Who'd Chang screw to get that grade? Not the teacher, that's for damn sure. He'd tried that last year.
"Shut up Puckerman!" Mike is shushing him desperately, trying to grab his paper back.
Oh right. He shouldn't have said that out loud. Still, it's a valid question.
He lowers his voice a little. "Come on Chang, spill? Since when are you going all Ivy League on me?"
"I've...I've been getting some extra help."
"Cool. No shame in that, man." At the same time, he can't help noticing that something's a little off with Chang's tone. His eyes narrow. "So, we missed you at Hudson's Saturday. Mario Kart wasn't the same without you. We had to let Evans be Bowser."
"Oh come on! I'm always Bowser! Now he's going to want to be Bowser all the time!" Mikes bitches.
"Yeah. Hard to believe he doesn't want to be Peach any more. You were helping your mom or something, right?"
Mike's suddenly very interested in his textbook...and the floor...and his fingernails. "Yeah...helping my mom."
"With what?" Puck follows up quickly.
"Stuff!" Mike squeals. "Stuff at home. Asian stuff!"
"Bullshit," he roars, ignoring his interested classmates. "You were at Rachel's weren't you! And now she's tutoring you! Admit it!"
"Don't kill me!" Mike begs.
Well hell. That's as good as an admission.
Suddenly Mike points over his shoulder. "Hey! Isn't that Rachel over there!"
When he looks back, Mike's gone. Sneaky bastard. Maybe there's something in that ninja stuff after all.
After that, he's gotta admit he's watching the rest of the Glee guys pretty carefully. Or really just Hudson. Rachel and Kurt have finally figured out that the only thing they don't have in common is a vagina and now they're inseparable, so if she wanted something from him, she could probably just get it. And Artie's his boy. Saint Finn on the other hand is just about due to make a reappearance. It's been a couple months and he's kind of waiting for (dreading) the two of them getting back together again, no matter how done Rachel says they are.
But he's not seeing much besides gassy baby (Santana's a bitch, but she's an accurate bitch) so probably Hudson's still trying to mack on Quinn backstage and make all her prom queen dreams come true and shit. Whatever. Puck still has his eye on him and Finn's starting to look all jumpy, so that's working.
He's so busy glaring at Finn in fact, that he totally misses the fact that Wheels isn't right behind him after Glee gets out on Friday afternoon. By the time Hudson disappears into the parking lot (almost at a run! Ha!) and he backtracks to the choir room, swearing under his breath, Rachel's almost finished her conversation with Artie.
"So Saturday at 1:00 will work for you, Artie?" she asks hopefully.
"Sure Rachel. Brittany has motocross all day, so I'm at your disposal," Artie smiles.
She hands him a slip of paper and bends down to kiss his cheek. "Here's my address. Thank you so much! And I promise you, you'll have your reward bright and early on Monday morning, all warm and gooey, just the way you like!"
Smooth fucking bastard!
She bounces out of the room with a cheerful, "Hi Noah!" and all he can say is that Artie is damned lucky that he's finally learned what a cold, harsh bitch karma is.
Artie is staring at him, tenting his fingers thoughtfully. "You want to ask me something Puck?"
"What the hell are you doing for her? And crap, what are you getting out of her?" He means it to come out as a bark, but honestly it's a little more like a whine.
Artie nods, like this is exactly what he expected and Puck wants to shove his Yoda persona up his ass, only he's hoping to get a few answers first.
"I'm getting cookies. Warm, delicious chocolate chip cookies. I'm sure you remember how delicious Rachel's cookies are."
Puck growls, but Artie just ignores him. "I, of course, get plenty of sugar from my sugar. But for someone who has a Rachel Berry kind of sweet-tooth? Really it would be worth going to a lot of trouble to get regular access to those cookies."
"Yeah, like it's that easy," he mutters and Artie just stares a little harder at him and it's exactly the same look his mother gives him right before she slaps him upside the head.
"You want to know what I'm doing for her? Talk to her." And then he rolls away.
His mother is fucking thrilled when he volunteers to do pick-up on Saturday for the Temple jumble sale It keeps her off his ass about shit like his room and babysitting the brat and anyway, it's not like it's hard because she's got a list of people who have donated and he just rings the doorbell and throws their crap in the back of his truck. By the time he gets around to the Berry house to pick up that that truly hideous wall-hanging (by rights, shit like that should have no chance of selling, but fuck, his mother's got an almost identical one at home, so what does he know?) it's like 1:30.
Quite a coincidence, right?
Rachel's little Jewish dad answers the door in a tee-shirt and jeans which shocks the shit out of him because the guy's an accountant and Puck's doesn't think he's ever even seen him out of a tie. He offers to come inside and grab the thing, but they've got it leaning right up next to the door, so no-go there. Just then there's a roar from the den where Puck knows they've got this awesome flat-screen/surround-sound set-up and little Jewish dad excuses himself in a hurry.
This spy shit was a lot easier when all he was after was a look at Allie Lambert's goodies.
Luckily she comes in early on Mondays to do extra-credit or alphabetize her sheet music or terrorize Figgins, or whatever her normal shit is and he finds her at her locker.
"Hello, Noah. How was your weekend? Daddy told me you stopped by...Hey! Hold on! Where are you taking me?" she squeaks, as he grabs her hand and leads her through the hallway.
"We're going to have a little conference, Rach," he says firmly, opening a door and pulling them both inside.
"In the janitor's closet?"
"I get a lot of my best work done here," he grumbles, pacing back and forth, nearly braining himself on the overhanging shelves.
"There is a rumor to that effect, however I have a very full schedule this morning and I do need to find Artie."
"Yeah! About that! I know you've got something going on, so what gives? I mean, shit, did Sam look totally hot, but kind of idiotic for you in Run Joey Run? Did Mike sneak a case of liquor back into your house at 3 AM because your dads came home from their cruise two days early? Did Artie pants Ben Israel for you at the JCC picnic when he offered up an opening prayer dedicated to you giving it up to him in his 'big boy bed'?
"No, Noah," Rachel says mildly, "You did all those things for me."
"Then what the hell, Rachel! If you're asking someone to do something stupid for you, it should damn well be me! I'm your go-to guy for stupid!"
"Stupid?" Rachel frowns, "I certainly wouldn't characterize what been going on as stupid. Just complicated."
Rachel sighs. "Fine. As I'm sure you know, Finn and I started dating last year after Regionals. So obviously he spent a lot of time at my house and he got to know my dads really well. And somehow he just got into the habit of watching baseball games with them. It was actually kind of adorable. The three of them would complain about the referee's decisions,..."
"Umpire," he mutters, but she just keeps going.
"...discuss statistics, and honestly, I didn't even know that Finn knew what a percentage was, much less how it relates to being 'on-base'. Anyway, while I've never managed to fully understand the game, Dad and Daddy are both huge fans. And while I've never doubted for a second that my dads love me, I could tell that they were really enjoying that experience, having a sort of son-figure to do manly things with. So when opening day rolled around this year, well, I decided to take steps."
"You paid the male Gleeks to watch baseball with your dads?" he asks blankly.
"I didn't pay them so much as exchange goods and services with them, but yes, essentially that's it."
Well shit. Now he's even more pissed.
"Again, what the hell? I like baseball! I play baseball. Why the hell didn't you ask me?"
"Noah, I did consider it, but I couldn't think of anything you would want. Artie already tutors you and your Nana is a wonderful baker. And you certainly don't need my help serenading girls," she says, flushing a little bit.
Damn right. But fuck there are other things and...god, he's a genius.
"I want in."
She looks at him suspiciously. "I won't do anything criminal, Noah, so if you're thinking about that soda machine again, just put it out of your mind. And if you're thinking about anything else...well, just don't. So what exactly would you want in exchange?"
He smirks at her. "Not that." Not like that anyway. "You can owe me one."
She tilts her head and studies him for a moment before nodding. "Fine. You can come this Saturday." She pulls a little MLB schedule card out of her binder and it's so fucking cute he wants to die. "It's a one o'clock game."
During her ballet class? Not going to work.
"Thing is I can't come on Saturday afternoons. I've got...fight club."
"Oh Noah! I thought you gave up fight club after Lauren dumped you. You said it was too painful to try and do the things you used to do together."
Oh fuck, he remembers that now. That was when he trying to work the 'feel sorry for me' angle.
"Yeah. It got better."
"I suppose it is important to keep up with your normal activities after a break-up. Very well, let's make it Sunday at 4:00. I'll actually be there, but I promise to stay out of the way."
Not if he has anything to say about it.
"Suit yourself, Rach. See you around." He throws her a wink and heads out the door. This is going to be awesome.
And truthfully, it kind of is.
For starters, the Berry dads are Red Sox fans, (apparently tall black dad went to M.I.T.) which is good because he's been pissed at the Indians ever since they traded Victor Martinez away. The set-up in the den is just as incredible as he remembered it and they've got all the premium sports channels. Rachel even leaves a couple trays of really fucking delicious snacks, these crispy cheese straws and black bean dip with sour cream which he knows she made just for them because she doesn't do dairy.
And if her dads look a little confused when he shows up on their doorstep with a lame excuse about his cable being out, they're actually pretty cool about the whole thing. Little Jewish dad (Ben) is straight-out hilarious, especially when he's pissed at the home plate umpire's strike zone, tall black dad (Michael) is like a freaking baseball encyclopedia, and the two of them remind him of Rachel so much it kind of blows his mind.
Best of all, they don't seem to hold any of his fuckheadedness against him, either regarding Rach (which he hopes to god they don't actually know about) or about Quinn (which everybody else in the universe seems to both know about and have an opinion on.) At least they seem to trust him enough not to blink an eye when he heads upstairs during the 7th inning stretch with an obviously bogus excuse about asking about homework.
He knocks lightly and then pushes her door open and she's sitting up on her bed painting her nails, rocking out with her ear-buds in. And yeah, he can think of a thousand things he'd rather do (or help her do, or hell, even watch her do) on her bed, but damn it, he doesn't even care. He leans on the doorframe to watch her for a while and then she finally notices him in mid-hair toss.
Jumping up with a pretty pink color, she blurts out, "Is everything going okay? Do you need more food? Or is Daddy trying to take out the photos again? I told him that nobody is interested in seeing pictures of my Little Miss Lima 2001 win, but he just won't believe it. Anyway, the video is much better, you can see my tap footwork much more clearly."
"No pictures yet, Rach. No video either, but hey, there's time," he laughs as she covers her face with her hands. "No, everything's cool. I just figured I'd make sure you don't feel trapped in your room. I mean you don't have to hide up here, just because I'm around."
She smiles brightly. "That's very thoughtful of you Noah. I've just been finishing up a few things, but I'm planning on coming down and starting dinner in a little while."
"Great!" he says with relief, "What are we having?"
She looks at him strangely. "You...you want to stay for dinner?"
"Shit, Rach. It's past six already. I should fucking hope you're going to feed me. I'm starving!" he whines.
"I fed you! I fed you veggies and dip and gruyere-crusted cheese straws!"
"That was hours ago!"
"All right, you can stay for dinner then," she says, with a tiny pleased smile.
Excellent. "Okay. Hey, next week can we have burgers? You can do those veggie-things and I'll bring the meat."
Yeah, next week. This is like a multi-week plan. And he's got game, so it's not like Rachel is hiding upstairs next time.
She totally can't resist him.
Or, all right, he just asks her a question every ten minutes (drinks, napkins, the Embargo Act of 1807, Schue's latest glee assignment) until she gives up and just brings her books downstairs to settle in the big armchair in the den. It's cool because he can kind of talk to her between innings. (And at this point, her dads are looking a lot less confused.) Of course he can't flirt with her (much) with her dads right there, or as least not his version of flirting with Rachel which has always been to get their lips as close together as possible and see how far 'come on baby, it's natural' will get him.
Honestly, he's had mixed success with that.
So instead he just talks to her about baseball, mostly little stories about the players, because he knows she's got a thing for a compelling dramatic narrative. And also a thing for the center-fielder's ass. Don't think he doesn't notice the way she looks up whenever the guy is up at bat. (And yes, he's a little jealous.)
When she walks him to the door, she asks him again, "I really appreciate this, Noah. But there must be something I can do in return. I could...knit you a scarf. I've been meaning to take up knitting, it's meant to be very relaxing while waiting backstage for your stage call."
He laughs. "No, let it ride a little longer. Sox are playing the Rays next Saturday night."
She looks cute with her face all scrunched up trying to figure it all out. He is so fucked.
Tuesday night the Titans are playing Central and when he jogs out to take center field at the top of the second inning he sees Rachel with Kurt and Mercedes in the stands. Ten minutes later, he makes a diving catch that robs Central of at least two runs and over the course of the night goes three for four with a stand-up triple. When he heads over to the backstop after the game, she's explaining to Kurt that even though he did fly out in the fifth, it's still a decent showing. He'd explain to her that it's a hell of a lot better than decent (Bieste clapped him on the shoulder so hard, she almost broke something) but Rachel's rubbing his bicep comfortingly, so he lets it go.
She picks him up for school on Thursday because his truck is at Hummel's getting some exhaust work done. (Mike lives a lot closer and was about to offer, but he shuts up damn fast when Puck glares at him.) She spend the entire trip trying to convince him to let her get him a pet because Brittany told her he wants something to take care of. He turns down a gerbil, a beta-fish, and gecko, but when he walks into school with a friendly arm slung around Rachel's shoulder, he's got to admit that Brittany's probably right.
Saturday's game is hilarious. Both teams are playing aggressively and when the Rays' pitcher starts with the brushback pitches to try and move the Sox hitters off the plate, she starts getting pissy. When Jacoby Ellsbury, her favorite player/major league boyfriend, gets hit, she's shouting at the television and both her dads are in hysterics watching her. Ellsbury takes the base and the first baseman starts talking shit and then takes a swing so both benches clear and it's a total brawl.
Rachel jumps out of her chair and all he can think of is the time she almost got killed trying to take out Azimio after their duet, so he grabs her hand and pulls her down next to him and whispering, "Settle down, killer," into her ear. She rolls her eyes at him, but tucks her feet under his leg and he's conscious that and of her arm brushing against his for the rest of the game.
He spends Sunday going to every sports store in town looking for an Ellsbury jersey in her size.
She wears it next week, along with the teeniest tiniest pair of denim shorts that it's ever been his pleasure to see. Like seriously, her dads are looking at her sideways, and him? He doesn't even know where to look because Ben and Michael are going to tolerate him a whole hell of a lot less if he's trying to fuck her into the sofa. The only one who seems unaffected is her. She hops up and down off the couch to get more snacks, some ice water (shit, he needs it), and to jump up and down when a long fly ball gets caught on the warning track. Then she flops down next to him and lets her hand rest on his thigh.
After the game, they're on her back deck polishing off the last of the lemon sorbet. Or really, she's eating the last of the sorbet and he's just watching those tanned legs propped up on the chair next to his. He's not really thinking about anything other than how gorgeous she looks in a baseball jersey, and how smooth her skin was when he touched it last year and how much of it is currently on display. And also how since he can still hear her dads voices through the open windows, he can't do shit about it, even if he's halfway to being hard.
But at the same time, even with all those thoughts swirling around, it's good just hanging around with her too. Dusk is falling and it's relaxing listening to her talk quietly about their finals and glee and the extra dance classes she's taking this week to prepare for a dance recital she's got going on.
"You coming to my game this week?" he asks idly (only not really, because the playoffs are coming up and he could definitely use his little good-luck charm).
She pauses for a long beat. "I thought I might," she says finally. "Maybe we can make a deal. I'll go to your game if you tell me what your motivations for all this are. Because I'm beginning to wonder if there's more here than the abstract idea of me owing you a favor sometime in the future.
He licks his lips nervously and oh fuck, are her eyes tracking his tongue?
"This," he blurts out. "I want this."
She looks at him wide-eyed and pushes the nearly empty sorbet carton at him.
"No," he says, a little impatiently. "I want us. I want another chance with you. A real chance. I mean shit, a week isn't very long, is it?"
He's sliding his hand up her leg as he says this last past cajolingly and maybe it's that that makes her voice waver when she says his name, but he doesn't really want to take the chance.
"No, hear me out," he interrupts. "We can go on dates, I'm actually really good at that shit. And stuff like this, hanging out, is good too. This isn't all about getting in your pants or shorts or whatever although I'm totally willing to follow your lead there. I mean, I'm hot, you're hot..."
"Noah," she says again, louder.
"We're good together, Rach."
"I agree," she almost bellows. Whoops. Maybe he should let her get a word in edgewise.
Flushing, she says quietly, "Noah, spending all this time with you over the last few weeks has really made me think that we should see where this goes."
"It has?" he asks, trying to fight down the weird swooping sensation in the pit of his stomach.
She nods and bites her bottom lip.
Well shit. That's really fucking awesome. Almost as awesome as her slipping out of her chair, climbing onto his lap and kissing him until he's seeing stars. Honest-to-god Rachel Berry stars.
She comes to his game on Tuesday and all the games for the rest of the season. And by the time the Titans bring home the state championship a month later, she's wearing his jersey when she runs out onto the field and jumps into his arms.
Suck on that Ellsbury.
A/N: Again, thanks for reading! I'd love to know what you think! :)
Original Prompt: While Rachel knows she is loved by her fathers, she knows they'd of liked to have a son to do 'manly' things with. Rachel recruits the boys to spend a afternoon doing guy things with her dads. She's recruiting them by offering each of them something they want (help in math, hooking them up with a girl etc.) Puck doesn't want anything Rachel is offering, he wants another chance.