Title: To the Toppermost of the Poppermost
Spoilers: Up to and containing elements of "Original Song".
Word Count: 12,246
Disclaimer: Don't own Glee, or the music.
Author's Note: The title comes from an old saying the Beatles used to have. The song that Puck sings to Rachel is called Willing and Wonderful written by none other than Mark Salling. It's actually what inspired this whole story. I've had Mark's album pretty much on constant rotation for a few weeks and this song always reminded me of Puck and Rachel. Also while the events are set durring Orignial Song and after, in my world all of that is taking place in the Gleek's Senior Year.
Summary: Rachel knew she was always meant for more than Lima, Ohio. But when she finally realizes that Finn never really factored into those plans Puck will be there and maybe, just maybe she'll realize he's the one that's been there all along and he's the one that's gonna be there in the future.
Puck was surprised when he walked out of his last class of the day and saw her leaning up against the lockers across the hall. She was obviously waiting for him if the smile that lit up her face when he walked out of the classroom was any indication. He almost looked behind him, to make sure she wasn't making that face for Hudson when he remembered they didn't have History together this year. Nope that smile had been all for him. "Sup Berry?" He nodded at her stopping in the middle of the hall and forcing everyone to walk around him.
"I need a favor." She said direct and to the point and he took two steps forward until he was right in front of her, smirking down at her.
"Ok, but we've got Glee in like five minutes so it'll have to be a quickie." He said. "Then again, after Finnocent five minutes would probably seem like a lifetime. There's a Janitor's closet in C Hall that locks from the inside but there's not a lot of space so—" He was cut off when she slapped his arm. He was surprised she managed to hold out that long before pushing him away and calling him all sorts of names. Only she wasn't calling him names and she wasn't berating him for being crude and most surprisingly of all she wasn't pushing him away. She was actually blushing.
"Not that kind of favor Noah." She said, looking up at him from under her eyelashes and he thought Oh hell cause he knew that face, this was her serious face, this was the face that made him stand in front of the Glee club last year and belt out Sweet Caroline. Not that it wasn't badass as fuck or anything but seriously he would never have done it without that look. So he already knew he was gonna say yes, but because she wasn't playing fair and all he was at least gonna make her squirm. "This favor involves your guitar."
Puck tilted his head to the side and smirked. "Kind of kinky but I can go with it."
"Would you please be serious for a second?" She asked him but there was laughter in her voice.
"Fine, walk with me." He said holding out his arm for her to slip her hand into. He ignored the fact that the last tine he'd given her his arm it ended with the two of them rolling around on her bed and instead headed toward the choir room, the sound of the wheels on Rachel's silly pink trolley rolling behind them. "So this favor?" He prompted and she blushed again and nodded.
"Right. I want to start off by telling you how seriously impressed I've been with you over the past few days during the song writing sessions. While not necessarily Regional's material, the song that you wrote for Lauren was well fleshed out and the musical arrangement flowed beautifully. And the lyrics, while certainly not my personal cup of tea were…endearing in their own way."
"They were badass." Puck smirked, thinking about his kick ass song. "Puckerman doesn't do endearing." He made a face and she smiled up at him.
"Furthermore," she pressed on, ignoring his interruption. "The way that you've stepped up to take the lead in composing 'Loser Like Me' is really extraordinary."
"Not like anyone else was gonna do it." He mumbled, suddenly feeling a bit embarrassed by all the praise she was throwing his way.
"You're being modest." She said stopping in place to look up at him. Her voice sounded almost surprised and he stopped and turned to her.
"I can do modest." He said with a soft smile and she returned it with one of her own before his smile turned into a leer, "It's just when it comes to sex I believe in truth in advertising."
She rolled her eyes, their moment broken, and continued onto the choir room. "Regardless, this week you've sort of started to come into your own, pushed yourself into a leadership position in Glee, a position I'm sorry to say I've had to shoulder on my own ever since Finn and I…well you know."
Finn had sort of just faded into the background at Glee since the breakup with Rachel and Puck kind of thought that was pretty shitty of him. Rachel had just lost her boyfriend, she really didn't need to looser her co-captain too. "I like songwriting, it's cool. I'd never really tried it before but I think I might be good at it."
"You're great at it." Rachel beamed up at him. "Really, I mean that. Of course I knew you would be. I saw your potential as a songwriting long before this you know."
"You did huh?" Puck smiled at her. "When was this?"
"When we were dating." Rachel said nonchalantly. "Your mother was working a double shift and you had to babysit your sister so I came over." Rachel smiled at the memory. "She was having trouble with her math homework and when she asked you to help you got this panicked look on your face so I did it. I remember we were battling with quadratic equations and you got out your guitar and started strumming something. I couldn't place the song, I'd never heard it before and I asked you what it was called and you said that it didn't have a name, that it was just something you were messing around with."
It was Puck's turn to stop in the middle of the hallway and turn to Rachel in confusion. "You remember all that?" he asked her and she nodded. "That's kinda cool of you."
"Thank you." Rachel blushed. "Did you ever finish it?"
Puck swallowed hard, he knew exactly what song she was talking about. "Nah," he shook his head. "Forgot all about it until you mentioned it just now actually."
Rachel frowned a little saddened by that, "So anyway, the favor."
"Right." Puck nodded. "Ask away."
"You know that Quinn and I are working on our own song," Puck nodded, he still wasn't sure how that had all worked out and he didn't trust the fact that Quinn and Rachel were suddenly BFFs but whatever, not his business. "And while Quinn is very helpful, her real life experiences far outweigh my own, and I am more than proficient writing music for the piano, I don't feel that it lends the right tone for the song at all and I was hoping that you would be willing to help by offering us some insight and possibly some acoustical accompaniment."
"You want me to write the guitar part to your song?" Puck asked, cutting through all the Rachel speak to get to the heart of it.
"Yes, please." Rachel nodded.
"Sure." He shrugged.
"Really?" Rachel smiled up at him again and he could see tears threatening to fall. He's not really sure what the big deal is and he tells her this. "It's just…I find that I'm not very good at this." He frowned because that wasn't right, he was pretty sure there wasn't anything that Rachel Berry wasn't good at, except you know, being a normal teenager. "I'm not sure if Finn's told you anything about my first two attempts at songwriting but they apparently lack emotion and I just don't understand because if there's one thing I'm certainly not lacking in it's emotion." She said sounding frustrated.
Finn had told Puck about Rachel's attempts at songwriting actually and he's glad that all the guy told her was that they were lacking in emotion because he was a hell of a lot more brutal when he talked about them with Puck. "Look, they're not bad, they're just rough." Puck said. "And Brittney fucking loves Headband. I swear to god, it's her new fucking ringtone."
Rachel cracked a small smile at that. "She was rather fond of it wasn't she?"
"Look, if there's anyone in this school that's gonna write a great song it's gonna be you ok, I know that for a fact so like quite stressing. We'll bang it out after Glee in the auditorium alright. You handle the lyrics and I'll handle the kick ass guitar licks and that shit will be awesome. And if you need a bit more emotion…we'll I'll handle that too." He said wiggling his eyebrows at her. "I'm fucking full of emotions over here babe."
"You're incorrigible you know that right?"
"If incorrigible means sexy the hell yeah." He nodded but stopped at the look on her face. "It doesn't mean sexy does it?" He frowned and she shook her head. "But you do think I'm sexy right?"
"Incorrigible," she shook her head and walked into the choir room laughing. He was gonna have to look that up.
Puck was running late to meet Rachel but he was sure he had a spare guitar string somewhere in his truck. One of his had snapped during the songwriting session for 'Loser Like Me' and he'd just used one of the school's guitars to finish up there but it didn't really feel right in his hands. If Rachel wanted him at his best for this song writing thing then she would have to just wait a few more minutes. His fingers brushed along the string that had somehow made its way underneath the seat and he pulled it out and hurried back toward the school.
Being late wasn't really that unusual for him but Berry'd been wound tighter than a librarian's bun lately and he really wasn't in the mood to listen to a forty-five minute lecture on the importance of time and how with Regional's so close they really didn't have any of it waste. To which he thought spending forty-five minutes to lecture him about wasting time was a pretty big fucking waste of time but whatever, that was just how Berry rolled and he'd sort of gotten used to it. Plus when she was mad she was like super hot, seriously she would talk so fast that she would actually run out of breath and she'd end up all panting and shit, her cheeks red from yelling and Puck could close his eyes and imagine that she was panting for a totally different reason.
Puck smirked then and slowed his pace to a brisk walk, maybe a ten minute lecture for being a few minutes late wouldn't waste that much time. He could always cut her off if it went on too long to remind her that he was giving up his personal time to do her a favor. Maybe she'd even fell bad for yelling, make him some of those kick ass 'I'm sorry' sugar cookies. For once, he thought, being late might actually work in his favor.
When he busted through the doors of the auditorium he expected Rachel to be standing right there, arms crossed over her chest, glaring at him but she wasn't. He checked his watch with a frown and sure enough he was almost ten minutes late, she should really be yelling already. He had a sudden panicked thought that the only thing that would keep Rachel Berry from yelling at him was if she and Quinn had actually snapped and killed each other. He relaxed when he heard their voices coming from the stage.
He headed for the steps, taking them two at a time and froze in his tracks when he was finally close enough to make out what they were saying.
"Are you and Finn together?" Rachel asked quietly. Puck really wanted to run in, to bust out with a comment so inappropriate it might catch Rachel off guard for a second, forget what she'd just asked, maybe he'd even get her to blush again, but at the same time he needed her to hear Quinn's answer.
He already knew. He'd gone over to Finn's last week to play COD for a little while and Finn's mom told him that he was in his room. She'd failed to tell him that Quinn was in there as well and considering the door had been closed when Puck burst in she was unaware of the new changes to their relationship. Finn and Quinn were obviously taking advantage of that ignorance because they hadn't just been studying or watching television, Quinn had been straddling Finn, her shirt tossed somewhere on the other side of the room. They'd frozen and Quinn had scrambled to get her shirt and he scoffed, reminding her that he'd already seen it all then made some comment about how much the celibacy club at McKinley sucked before heading back home.
It would be hard to hear the truth but it would much better to hear it coming from Quinn then to find out the way Puck had and though Rachel may not be stalker crazy anymore, enough to just show up at Finn's house unannounced, she was good friends with Kurt so the possibility wasn't exactly remote.
"Yes, it's been a couple of weeks. It's like Groundhogs Day with you Rachel, how many times do you have to make the same mistakes before you realize it's not gonna work out?" Quinn answered her and Puck hung his head. She couldn't just say yes or no?
"Well thank you for being honest with me Quinn and I'm happy for you and Finn but don't go and try to re-write history. It was real between us. He chose me over you," And that was true technically but he went back to Quinn, he always went back to Quinn.
"And how long did that last for?" Quinn snarled and Puck thought, Bitch.
"Why are you being so mean?" Rachel asked and Puck could hear the catch in her voice, knew that the tears were welling up in her eyes.
"Do you want to know how this story plays? I get Finn and you get heartbroken and then Finn and I stay here and start a family. I'll become a successful Real Estate Agent and Finn with take over Kurt's dad's tire shop. You don't belong here Rachel and you can't hate me for helping to send you on your way." And damn it if she wasn't right. A bitch yeah but she was still right. Finn was never gonna leave Lima, he was Lima born and bred and he'd be here until the day that he died. The thing was Finn liked being a big fish in a small pond, it was how he thrived.
But Rachel, she was destined for so much more than this stupid little town and everyone, even those who didn't want to admit it, knew that. This town barely managed to contain her now, by the time that she graduated it would bursting at the seams trying to keep her in.
"I'm not giving up on Finn, it's not over between us." Rachel protested but Puck could tell by the tone of her voice that she was grasping at straws.
"Yes it is! You're so frustrating." Quinn snapped. "And that is why you can't write a good song, because you live in this little school girl fantasy of life. Rachel if you keep looking for that happy ending then you're never gonna get it right. So were done with that and why don't we just return to our work ok?"
"No I'm gonna write this song on my own." Rachel whispered, turning around storming off, the tears that she refused to cry in front of Quinn, falling freely now that her back was turned. She rushed off the stage and stopped when she saw him standing by the steps.
"You're late." She said, the words practically a reflex and it didn't matter that she was leaving and she obviously didn't need him anymore, she was physically incapable of letting his lateness go uncommented on. "It doesn't matter. While I appreciate your willingness to help, it appears we'll no longer need your assistance." She brushed past him then, her head held high even as silent sobs rocked through her body.
He wanted nothing more than to chase after her but something was telling him to leave her alone for the moment so he walked up the steps instead and headed to the piano. "You're a fucking bitch you know that?"
"Yes." Quinn nodded, not looking up at him, her fingers randomly dancing over the piano keys. "But was anything I said wrong?" She looked up at him then and as much as he hated to agree with her he shook his head.
"You didn't have to be so harsh." Puck shrugged sitting next to her on the piano bench, knocking her hip with his to scoot her over a bit.
"This is Rachel Berry, you basically have to run her over with an eighteen wheeler to get her to see the truth. She does subtly about as well as you do celibacy." She nudged his shoulder with hers and he smiled slightly. "I thought you'd be happy. If she gets over Finn then it leaves her free to pursue other avenues."
"Why would I be happy to have her free to pursue other avenues?" Puck grumbled at the thought.
"Come on, even you aren't that dense." Quinn snorted and pushed herself up off the piano bench. "I'm going to ask you something now and I want you to tell me the absolute truth." Puck nodded, knowing that he was stepping into potentially dangerous territory but unable to stop himself all the same. "If she hadn't dumped you last year, would you really have dumped her?"
"No," he answered, surprising even himself with the honestly.
"It's always been Rachel for you. Even when you were trying to convince me you were in love with me, even when you were trying to convince yourself you were in love with me it's been Rachel. You know why Lauren's been keeping you at arm's length? Because even she knows for you it's Rachel." Quinn shook her head.
They were both silent for a while and Puck fingers drifted absently over the keys playing a long forgotten melody with ease.
"Look, she was right when she said that we'd sort of bonded last year and as much as this was about me wanting my boyfriend back, I really was trying to help her you know." Quinn said. "Can you see Finn in New York?" She laughed. "He'd never be able to keep up with her there, you and I both know that. And I'm pretty sure if Rachel Berry were to stay in Lima and play the good little housewife to Finn Hudson it would cause a rift in the space time continuum." Puck laughed because she was right.
"But you…I can see you in New York. You could actually keep up with her. You're the only one that could keep up with her. Hell you might even surpass her, force her to try and keep up with you." She grabbed the cover and dropped it over the keys, almost catching his fingers. "Go. Be a shoulder for her to cry on, help her write her song."
He hadn't gone to Rachel's. He'd gone anywhere that he could think of instead of going to Rachel's. He spent a couple of hours at Mikes playing video games trying not to think about Rachel. He even went home for an hour or two and had dinner with his mom and sister, trying not to think about Rachel. Then he drove around town for a few more hours, trying not to think about Rachel. When he wouldn't let himself think about Rachel, all he could think about were Quinn's words, running in a loop over and over again, like a song that was stuck in his head.
The thing was, he could see himself in New York too. He could see himself waiting for Rachel outside of her dance class, her waltzing out to greet him in those tights and that thin little piece of fabric that they laughingly called a skirt, her face lighting up in the same smile that she'd given him that afternoon.
He could see the two of them walking down the streets of New York, her a few paces in front of him walking backwards, her arms waving wildly around as she talked excitedly about some roll that she was going out for.
He could see them, moving into a tiny little apartment after school, barely big enough for the two of them. They'd spend their first night christening every square inch of it and then sit on the floor half naked eating Chinese food straight out of the carton, excited simply to be on their own finally, out of the dorms, out of their parents house. Then they'd christen it all over again before finally falling asleep on a hastily made pallet of blankets and pillows.
It wouldn't always be perfect, he knew that. Between their cramped living arrangements, her need to plan and control everything, and his short temper there would be fights, epic fights, they would scream and throw things and one of them would leave for a few days but they'd always come back to each other because they always did.
And then she would finally get her big break and things would be a bit easier and maybe they'd find a bigger place and he'd get his break and things would get even easier still because it was them, because it had always been easy between them from the beginning. It was Rachel and Puck. No, he thought, Rachel and Noah.
And he wanted that, fuck he wanted that so badly that he could taste it and that's how he found himself sitting in his truck across the street from her house at 11:30 at night. "Fuck." He said banging his head on the steering wheel because that's exactly what he was, exactly what he was the second he saw her climb through his window in that dream.
He grabbed his guitar and headed around the back of the house, jumping up the trellis and climbing to the second floor. He really hoped that she still left her window open because it's be really lame to climb all the way up there only to have to climb back down and go through the front. That shit wasn't nearly as dramatic and it had been a really long time since he'd had to pick a lock, he was really rusty. He mentally gave himself a high five when the window slid silently open and he climbed into the room.
His foot knocked into her desk chair and it went crashing toward the ground but he reached out and caught it right before it hit. "Did you see that? Fucking ninja like reflexes." Puck smirked. When he didn't get an answer he set the chair to rights and turned around, stopping in his tracks. Rachel was curled up on her side on the bed, her hands nestled between her knees, her mascara smudged almost halfway down her cheeks with tear tracks running down her face, completely, soundly asleep.
He smiled at her softly and walked over to the bed, pulling off her shoes and lying them neatly by the closet door the way he'd seen her do it a hundred times before. He pulled the blanket at the foot the foot of bed over her, covering her up and moved to the bedside table to turn off the lamp when he saw here notebook, lying there open.
He couldn't stop himself from picking it up, from reading it. The handwriting was not her usual neat print it was hurried, almost desperate a lot of things scratched out and reworked. The ink was smudged in a few place with what Puck was positive were tear drops. And it was good, it was really good. He read it again, sitting down on the edge of the bed softly and then read it a third time and then a fourth. He looked around, finding a pen resting next to Rachel's head and grabbed it, scribbling a few quick notes next to the words.
When he'd gotten the basic's down he grabbed his guitar off his back and slowly started to strum, making a few changes here and there, humming along as worked. He was having trouble with the bridge, getting really frustrated because he just couldn't get it right when he felt the mattress shift. "You should try changing the key at the end of the second verse, it would flow into the bridge better." Rachel said softly next to him, her voice heavy with sleep.
"Hey." He whispered smiling down at her. "How long have you been awake?"
"Not too long." She shrugged sitting up all the way, letting the blanket fall down to pool at around her hips. "How long have you been here?"
Puck glanced at the clock by her bed and was surprised to see it was already 2:30 in the morning. "Too long," he said.
She didn't seem to be particularly worried that he was in her room, that he'd been in her room while she was sleeping and that stirred something deep in the pit of his stomach. "Try it," she said, "Changing the key."
He nodded and started over from the top of the second verse, this time in a different key and sure enough it flowed straight into the bridge. "Better." She smiled.
"Yeah." Puck nodded. "Are you ok?" he asked after a minute and she smiled.
"I'm fine," she said after taking a deep breath. "Really I am. I've never really been one to keep a journal but I can see the appeal. I didn't realize how cathartic putting pen to paper would be."
"I don't know what that means." Puck frowned at her.
"It means I'm fine, better than I have been in a while." Rachel admitted. "Except I'm extremely hungry. I believe I slept straight through dinner." She hopped off the bed and made her way into the bathroom. "Noah!" She cried out. "Why didn't you tell me I looked like a crazed raccoon?"
He smirked as the water turned on. "I think you look cute." He called back to her and her head popped around the corner of the door frame, a wet rag in one hand, wiping the makeup off her face as she glared at him. "Look, it's pretty late, I should probably...you know go." He made a move to get up and she stepped out of the bathroom.
"You don't have to," she offered. "If you don't want to that is. I mean I'm awake now and you've got a pretty good creative flow going I wouldn't want to put a damper on that. We could work on it together, just a little bit longer."
"Yeah ok." Puck nodded, sliding further back on the mattress, getting more comfortable. "Just a little bit longer."
Her face broke out into that huge grin again and she ducked her head. "Great, well I'm just going to run downstairs and get something to eat, we'll work on the problem with the introduction when I get back."
"What problem with the introduction?" he asked indignantly as she walked out of the room. Five minutes later Puck still didn't know what was wrong with the introduction when she came back in balancing two plates, both piled high with lasagna.
"I thought you might be hungry."
"I'm always hungry." Puck smiled, setting his guitar next to the bed to take the plate and the can of coke that she'd managed to produce from somewhere. He didn't wait for her to sit, merely started shoveling the food in his mouth.
"So do you like it?" She asked, settling in next to him with her noticeably smaller portion of lasagna.
"It's fucking delicious," he assured her, taking a large gulp of the coke and letting out a magnificent burp and Rachel rolled her eyes.
"Well, thanks, that's good to know." Rachel said. "Especially since it's made with tofu, I thought for sure you'd hate it." He looked down at the bite piled up high on his fork and though tofu? but just shrugged and ate it because it really was delicious. "But I was referring to the song."
"Oh." Puck said sheepishly. "It's good Rach, like really good."
"Thank you." She nodded, digging into her own plate of tofu lasagna with gusto.
They worked for another hour before Rachel started yawning and Puck called it a night. "But we're not finished yet," she pouted as he made his way to the window.
"Rach, great songs do not get written in a day," he told her with a laugh.
"That's not true, John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote many of their best songs in one day. Help! only took three hours."
"That may be but if you remember correctly it also took Paul almost five years to write Yesterday. Besides, you're no John Lennon and I'm definitely not Paul McCartney."
"Of course not," Rachel smirked. "Obviously I'd be Paul and you'd be John."
"Why do you get to be Paul? I'm the one who plays the guitar." Puck asked.
"Technically George played the guitar, Paul played the bass so I suppose you could be George if you don't want to be John."
"He did write Here Comes the Sun. And While My Guitar Gently Weeps was fucking kick ass, then there was Something. Ok, I'll be George, but I still don't get why you get to be Paul."
"Obviously, like Sir Paul McCartney, I'm the brains of this song writing collaboration."
"What does that make me?" Puck frowned, wondering how he managed to get in this very surreal conversation at 2:30 in the freaking morning.
"The talent," Rachel shrugged as if it were obvious.
"I'll totally take that," Puck smirked at her.
"Also because I'm the pretty one and everyone knows that Paul was the pretty one." Rachel beamed at him.
While normally he'd argue that his hotness at least equaled hers if not surpassed hers (she was smokin' but he got extra points for badassness), but he let her have this one because she'd called him the talent and Rachel Berry calling some else the talent happened like once in a fucking blue moon.
"Noah," she said when he had one foot out the window and something in the tone of her voice made him turn. "I assume that you heard my conversation with Quinn this afternoon." He nodded. "Do you think she's right?"
He took a deep breath and stepped back in the room. "Yeah I do, and you do too, you're just not ready to admit it," he told her and she sucked in a shaky breath. "Do you ever picture yourself out there, in New York, up on that stage taking Broadway by storm?" she nodded sheepishly. "When you're up there, and you look out into the crowd and the daddies Berry are out there, screaming and cheering you on, is Finn standing next to them?"
She closed her eyes and sucked in a long deep breath before shaking her head. "No." She said frowning. "No, he's not."
"There you go." Puck said. "Goodnight Paul," he winked at her and kissed her forehead.
"Night George," she chuckled and he climbed back out the window and down the trellis. He hopped the last few feet to the ground and started making his way back to the truck when she called out his name again. He turned around and looked up to see her hanging out of the window staring down at him.
"You're there," she said biting her lip nervously. "Sometimes when I picture it, you're out there, in the front row, screaming and clapping and cheering me on."
Puck's face split into a grin and he nodded. "Fucking right I am," he assured her. "And I'm going to be the loudest one up in that bitch."
She smiled down at him, that big brilliant smile that makes him do stupid shit just on the off chance that he might get to see it again. As he started up the truck he contemplated hitting up the 7-11 for a few Red Bull's to just push on through to the morning because it was pointless to try and sleep now. Then he thought back to that smile and realized maybe he wouldn't need the Red Bull.
The next month all they really did was work on Rachel's song. They sequester themselves in the choir room and worked through lunch. Some days they'd go back to her house and work until her dad's kick him out. It's become common place for them to come home only to find Puck and Rachel, head's bent together over his guitar, scribbling out notes on paper. They'd simply smile and set a fourth plate for dinner.
On the days that Puck's mom works a double shift they'd go to his house after school. Rachel would help his sister with her homework while he cooked dinner and after they managed to finally get her off to bed they'd spend a few hours working out the kinks until his mom got back and he took her home.
About twice a week he found himself standing underneath her window, his guitar slung over his shoulder as he climbed up her trellis after curfew. Every time he did it she was sitting up in bed waiting for him and sometimes they'd work on the song but sometimes they'd just sit there and talk about anything and everything, about school and New York and life. Sometimes they'd talk about Shelby and Beth and sometimes they didn't talk at all.
One time she greeted him at the window, her face flushed with excitement and said she'd finally found a musical that she thought he'd enjoy and he was nervous for a second until she pulled two DVD's from behind her back and held them out to him proudly. It was A Hard Day's Night and Help!.
He smiled because he actually did like them, his mom was huge Beatles fan and he remembered watching them with her when he was little and as she slid the first one into her DVD player she couldn't help but point out how they technically weren't musicals per say but there was singing involved.
When she fell asleep, he climbed back down the trellis and headed home, only to find his mom sitting on the couch knitting or some shit like that. She never yelled or even commented as he walked back in the house at two or three in the morning just offered him a soft smile as he headed up to bed and he didn't want to think to hard about that smile because he was pretty sure it meant, Thank you for finding a nice Jewish girl who will give me nice Jewish grandchildren, please don't screw this up.
He wanted to tell her he was trying his hardest not to but he didn't want to say anything out loud, didn't want to do anything that could ruin what he had because Rachel wasn't ready yet. He still remembered the panicked look on her face when his bratty little sister turned to her in the middle of her biology homework and asked if they were dating again.
He'd saved her the trouble of stuttering her way through what would have likely been a very long winded and incoherent explanation on the unusual status of their relationship by slapping Danielle in the head and telling her to wash up for dinner.
Then one day out of the blue, Rachel was standing at his locker, waiting for him before school and she announced that the song was ready and she wanted to perform it for the Glee club later that day. He shrugged and said, "Whatever" but inside something twisted because writing this song was her way of letting go of Finn and if it was finished and she was ready to play it for all the world to hear, then that had to mean something right?
She slid her hand in his arm, completely oblivious to the turmoil going on inside of him as she chattered on and on. She could have been telling him a story about how a unicorn flew in her window that morning on a rainbow but he wasn't paying attention. But he smiled and nodded whenever she paused and she didn't seem to notice as she dropped him off at his first class and carried onto hers.
He stumbled through the rest of the day but surprisingly when it was actually time to perform the song he was pretty calm about the whole thing and Rachel was a basket case. "We don't have to do this if you're not ready," he told her.
"I'm ready I'm just nervous." She said twisting her fingers together.
"Rachel Berry doesn't get nervous." Puck said. "Rachel Berry jumps at the chance to sing in front of a crowd. Last week we were at the mall and you just burst into song, right there in the food court," she laughed at the memory.
"I know but this is different," she told him. "This is personal. It's my song. I've always been a confidant performer because I've never doubted my voice and I'm not doubting my voice now, I'm doubting the words that will be coming out of my voice."
"Ok, one it's our song," Puck smiled and she nodded in conceit. "And two, there's nothing wrong with the words, the worlds are fucking perfect alright. I mean it's no Headband," she laughed again. "The song is amazing and you'll be amazing."
"But what if I—" Rachel protested and Puck grabbed her shoulders.
"Look, I know it's hard, putting yourself out there like that, especially in front of those guys. So don't sing to them, sing to me ok. If you get nervous, just close your eyes and imagine yourself up on that stage and I'm out there in the audience, just me. Sing to me."
"Ok," Rachel nods, putting on her best show smile and pushing past him toward the door.
"Hey," Puck reached and grabbed her arm. "Whatever happens here, it doesn't matter. You know that right. You're going straight to the top." He reminded her. "And when you get there high school will just be a blimp on your radar."
"We're going to the top," she corrected him and then broke out in a genuine smile. "The toppermost of the poppermost."
He rolled his eyes at that but couldn't help and smile back as she walked into the room. They'd been flipping through the TV late one night and come across the Beatles Anthology on the history channel and Rachel had been saying that ever since. She'd been trying to get him to say it, just once but he wasn't going to give in because no way could he say that without losing a bit of his badassness.
When he followed her in she was standing in the front of the room, giving them all what sounded like a very boring history of songwriting as he double checked that the jazz band had the newest sheet music and that his guitar was tuned. He could have stopped her but it seemed to be calming her down a bit so he just let her keep going and when she stopped he took that a sign that she was ready so he started playing.
Her eyes closed, took a deep breath and started to sing.
What have I done,
Wish I could run
Away from this ship goin' under
Her eyes flew open he was standing there, right in front of her, strumming his guitar, mouthing the words along with her and her voice got stronger with every word. He'd heard her sing before and her voice never ceased to amaze him but this was like a whole new level of amazing, she was putting every last piece of herself out there and she was fucking rocking it and in that split second he just knew that they were going to fucking win.
And the smile on her face when she finished singing and the room actually broke out into fucking applause for her, well that was just gravy.
They won. They fucking won and it felt fantastic. It was better than fantastic because they won with songs that they wrote themselves, something that they created, that they put their time and energy into. It felt better than winning the championship game, better than the first time he and Finn snuck into his moms liqueur cabinet and got drunk off like two sips of vodka. "It's almost better than sex." He'd told Chang and the Asian laughed, clapping him on the back.
And then Rachel had launched herself at him, her arms flying around his neck as her legs wrapped around his waist and he grabbed onto her tightly just to keep them both upright and he amended that statement, it was so much better than sex. "We won George," she whispered in his ear, her soft tone in high contrast to the excitement from a minute ago.
"Bet your ass we did Paul," he smirked and then proceeded to smack said ass playfully. She just laughed and slid out of his embrace, grabbing his hand and giving it a small squeeze before turning around and running off to the other side of the stage, launching herself at Kurt this time but the other man didn't have the awesome reflexes that Puck had and the both of them fell to the stage floor taking Blaine down with them.
She surprised everyone by dissolving into laughter and when Tina and Mercedes walked over to help her to her feet she just pulled them down too. "You guys were amazing." Mr. Shue said, walking up and clapping a hand on Puck's shoulder. He was pretty sure the dude's smile couldn't get any bigger. "I mean all of you were great but you guys," he squeezed Puck's shoulder and nodded over at Rachel. "That song was really good Noah."
"Thanks," Puck said, clearing his throat. He was starting to get that unconformable feeling he always got when adults gave him praise.
"Have you thought about songwriting as a major?" Mr. Shue asked him and Puck turned to him confused.
He wanted to say he hadn't thought of anything as a major cause he hadn't really thought about college at all but he didn't. "I didn't know you could do that."
"There are some really great programs in New York." Mr. Shue said, not being as subtle as he probably thought was when he shot a look in Rachel's direction.
"You think I'm good enough for something like that? Good enough to make it to New York?" Puck asked, watching as Rachel pulled Mike and Sam down into the every growing pile of Glee members on the stage floor. He felt his breath catch in his throat because he'd pretty much decided that night with Quinn that he was going to follow Rachel to New York, he just didn't know how, but now Mr. Shue was giving him a way in.
"I'm not gonna lie, you'll have to really buckle down. It's gonna take some hard work but I'll help out however I can and with the right people on your side, there's no way you don't make it."
"Noah!" Rachel screamed through her laughter. "Save me!" she cried out as Sam and Chang came at her from either side, trying to tickle her into submission.
"Go." Mr. Shue clapped him on the back and smiled. "Save her."
"I always do." Puck smiled and headed across the stage. When he reached down to pull her up he was expecting her to pull him down but it still caught him a bit off guard and it didn't help that she was rolling around underneath him laughing with abandon. She caught his eye and her laughter suddenly stopped in her throat and she swallowed, hard. "You know," he said, trying to break the suddenly tension. "When I re-tell this story, and I will, many, many times, all of you are gonna be naked you know."
"In your dreams Puckerman." Santana scoffed.
"Even us?" Sam frowned and Puck rolled his eyes.
"Dude, I'm pretending you're not even here right now, no way you're making it into the retelling." Puck said.
"That hurts." Sam said, grabbing his chest. "Right here man."
"Fuck off." Puck shoved him away hard and Sam jumped on his back, the two of them rolling around wrestling for a while until he found himself right back where he started, practically on top of Rachel.
"Hey Noah?" Rachel asked looking up at him innocently.
"Yeah?" He asked breathing a bit harder.
"You're not ticklish are you?" she bit her lip and he narrowed his eyes.
"Don't even think about it." He warned her even as her hands slipped under his shirt and her fingers skirted over sides. "Not fucking cool Berry." He gritted out between laughs.
Four hours later he could still feel the ghost of her fingers trailing up and down his sides and he was still on some strange adrenaline high from the win at Regional's which was the only reason he could think as to why he was standing outside Rachel's bedroom window at two in the morning, his guitar slung over his shoulder.
It had absolutely nothing to do with what happened at Santana's party.
They'd all gotten back to the school, standing around the parking lot not really wanting to go home, not wanting this feeling to end so Santana had simply said, "Party at my house."
They didn't even change out of their costumes, just got back into their cars and drove straight over to her place. They didn't even pull out the booze cause they didn't need it and it was still one of the most kick ass parties he'd been to in a while.
At one point Santana had jumped up on the table and looked around the room and said, "Fuck do you guys realize we're going to Nationals?" and everyone just laughed at her until Rachel jumped up beside her.
"Where are we going fellas?" Rachel cried out.
"To the top Johnny!" Everyone called back in answer.
"And where is that?" Rachel asked them.
"To the toppermost of the poppermost!" They said, dissolving into laughter.
The day before Regional's everyone had sort of ended up at Rachel's house too burnt out to sit through another rehearsal but too keyed up to sit at home and do nothing. And then Sam had found Hard Days Night and popped it in the DVD player which led to watching Help! which led to watching almost all ten hours of the Beatles: Anthology that Rachel had bought, and they'd all pretty much been quoting the Fab Four ever since. Somewhere along the way they'd sort of adopted Rachel's saying as the Glee club mantra.
He'd been lounging in one of the overstuffed chairs in San's living room watching Mike and Brittney engaged in hour two of the most epic Dance Dance Revolution battle in history when Rachel walked over to him, took the bottle of water out of his hand and set it on the side table without a word. Then she slid her hand into his and tugged gently. He got up and followed her because he'd pretty much resigned himself to always following her.
She pulled him through the sliding glass door and out onto the porch. They wound their way around the pool and down the path that led out to the lake and then down the dock to sit on the edge. Rachel pulled off her boots and dangled her feet in the water and Puck followed her lead. They sat like that for a minute in complete silence and Puck liked to think that he was the only person that got to sit in complete silence with Rachel like this.
"I've been trying to come up with a way to thank you."
"For what?" Puck grunted, confused by her announcement.
"For…everything," she said taking a deep breath. "For helping me with the song, for putting up with me and my crazy for the past month."
"You don't have to thank me for that," Puck shrugged. "I did it because I wanted to."
"I know," Rachel said. "I thought about baking you a batch of "Thank You" cookies because I know you like my "I'm Sorry" cookies and the "Thank You" cookies are essentially just "I'm Sorry" cookies with "Thank You" written on them."
"Those cookies are fucking awesome," Puck agreed.
"I'm not going to bake you cookies," she said and his face fell. "I mean I'll bake you cookies if you want some but not to thank you because they're just…not enough."
"So what are you gonna do?" he asked.
"I don't know," Rachel shrugged. "I'm still thinking about it. I just wanted to let you know that I was thinking about it and that you should expect something big in the near future."
"I'll keep my eyes peeled," he turned to her and smiled.
"Good, you do that." Rachel nodded pleased and then before he knew what was happening she leaned over and kissed him softly. His hand came up and rested on her cheek, cupping her chin softly as she leaned closer to him, sliding her tongue along his bottom lip and he opened his mouth for her, his hand moving back to cradle her neck.
"Rach!" Tina screamed out into the dark.
She pulled away from him abruptly, a soft blush rising up on her cheeks as she turned to the shoreline. "Over here." She called, pulling herself to her feet.
"Come on, your gonna miss it." Tina called out to her. "Mike and Brittney got tired and Finn said that he didn't understand what the fuss was about, that the game didn't look that hard so Kurt challenged him."
"Finn's gonna play Dance Dance Revolution?" Rachel asked her eyes wide. "This I gotta see." She reached down and grabbed her shoes, hurrying back up the dock.
"Santana's making Sam remove anything within a twenty foot radius of the television which is like everything in the room. Please tell me your phone takes video. There's no way this isn't going up on Facebook the second I get home." She pulled Rachel toward the house and turned around. "Puckerman you coming?"
"Yeah, right behind you," Puck pulled himself up and grabbed his shoes, hurrying up to Rachel's other side as Tina recounted Mike's winning dance move that sent him spiraling backward over Santana's couch. The second they walked in the back door Sam dropped a box in his arms and grunted.
"Help me haul this crap to the back room?" He asked and Puck nodded. Rachel grabbed his sleeve as he walked past her and smiled sheepishly.
"Just so you know, that wasn't my Thank you," she told him.
"It wasn't?" Puck raised his eyebrows.
"Nope, that was just because." Rachel admitted.
He picked up a handful of pebbles and tossed them at her window, wincing when they hit the glass with a bit more force than he was expecting. He was just lucky her dad's were out of town. He picked up another handful of pebbles and threw them just as she opened the window.
"Shit, sorry," he called up to her as one of the pebbles bounced off the top of her head.
"Noah?" she squinted down at him confused. "What are you doing down there? You didn't have to… you could have just come up."
"I don't want to come up." He told her. "I just wanted to talk."
"Talk to me up here." She said confused.
"I'm good down here." He assured her, easier to make a break for it if he didn't have to climb down that stupid trellis.
"Ok," she frowned.
"I lied to you," he admitted. "I did finish that song, the one from last year."
"Oh," Rachel said. "Then why did you say you didn't?"
"Because I wrote it for you." He told her, rubbing his hands on his jeans. He hadn't been this nervous at Regional's.
"For me?" Rachel smiled slightly.
"Yeah, that week we were dating. I wrote it for you and then you dumped me so I just kind of forgot about it but I wanted you to hear it."
"Now?" she asked and he nodded. "Ok."
He coughed, tugging on the strap of his guitar a bit before he started playing.
On the first day of our
Champaign Super Nova consummation
Who knows you again
I was sent by Solomon you said
Now tell me your dreams
Suddenly it seems
Gonna take away this thing we got goin'
Ain't no one
Is changing my mind cause I know we got it
All I gotta do is believe in you
And all the world becomes, possibilities
If you're willing , I'll be wonderful.
Wasting away is so much weight
On the shoulders of just one phone call
Don't you get lonely at the end of the year
But I will always be there
Living on a prayer cause
Gonna take away this thing we got goin'
Ain't no one
Is changing my mind cause I know we got it
All I gotta do is believe in you
And all the world becomes, possibilities
If you're willing , I'll be wonderful, I'll be wonderful.
"Noah," Rachel said when he finished.
"I wrote that because when I was with you, for the first time I didn't feel like a Lima loser, I felt like as long as I was with you I could do anything because you actually believed that I could do anything." He knew he was babbling but he had to get all of this out now or he wasn't sure he ever would.
"Look, you said you could see me, out there in the crowd cheering you on and I will be there, you can count on that. But I can see so much more than that. I can see us taking a walk through Central Park on a lazy Sunday afternoons. I can see us living off of Ramen noodles for a month just to pay the rent on our far too small apartment. I can see us splurging on ice cream those times you don't get a part and I can see us splurging on a nice restaurant for those times you do get a part," she laughed. "I can see all that Rachel but I need to know if you can see it too because your gonna make it, with or without me but I'm not sure if I'm gonna make it without you."
"No, don't say anything, not right now. It's late and it's been a long day and if your gonna turn me down I'm not sure I could take it right now and if you're not, well I'm half delirious already from sleep deprivation so I'm not sure I'd actually believe it. Just think about it ok."
"Yeah sure." Rachel frowned.
"Goodnight Paul." Puck offered her a small smile.
"Goodnight George," he heard her call confused as he walked away. He refused to look back.
Puck laid back in bed, staring at the ceiling. For all his talk of sleep deprivation he was lying there wide awake, not even the least bit tired. He heard a noise coming from outside and then a small black ballet flat flew through the open window, landing softly on the carpet by his bed, followed soon after by its mate.
Puck frowned and sat up confused staring at window, thinking for a second maybe he'd imagined it, maybe he was so delirious that he was seeing things when a small slender hand gripped the window ledge followed by another and then Rachel's head poked through, a determined look on her face. She pulled herself all the way into the room, her bare feet dropping to the carpet soundlessly.
"I told you I could do it," Rachel told him triumphantly. "I told you that I could totally climb that wall barefoot. I can't believe you ever doubted me. I'm a classically trained ballet dancer, you think a two story brick wall was too much for me?"
"Am I dreaming?" Puck asked as she picked up her shoes and placed them neatly by the window. "Because the last time this happened I was dreaming." Rachel glared at him, stormed over and smacked him hard in the back of the head. "So not dreaming then?" Puck muttered rubbing his head.
She glared at him for a few more seconds before climbing into the bed next to him, shoving him over with her hip until he'd made enough room for her. "What are you doing here?" He asked as she settled herself against his headboard. She turned to him again, an unreadable expression on her face before she smacked him in the back of his head again. "What the hell, would you stop hitting me please?" Puck glared at her.
"You just left!" Rachel huffed. "You don't get to show up at my house and sing me that amazing song and then just leave, that's not how things work."
He smiled sheepishly over at her. "You think my song was amazing."
"Of course it was amazing you idiot." She crossed her arms over her chest. "It was probably the most beautiful think I've ever heard in my life but you didn't give me a change to tell you that because you ran away like a scared little girl."
"Hey!" Puck said indignantly. "I was not scared, I wanted to give you time to think."
"I didn't need time to think." Rachel scowled at him. "What the hell do you think I've been doing for the past month?"
"Well I didn't know that did I?" Puck said.
They sat there side by side in the bed for a few minutes, neither of them saying anything but she wasn't leaving so that was something at least.
"You wrote that song when we were dating?" Rachel asked and he nodded. "You said you were going to break up with me. You don't write a song like that for someone your about to break up with."
"That seems to be a running theme with you," she said a smile on her lips.
"Yeah well," he shrugged. "You were dumping me, I was hurt."
"Can you really see all that? Me and you in New York City, the Ramen noodles and the ice cream?"
"Yeah I can." Puck said. "The question is can you?"
"I want to be honest with you here."
"Honesty is good." Puck swallowed nervously. That was another lie, honestly fucking sucked ass.
"When I pictured myself in New York, it was never with you," she told him and his heart sunk to the pit of his stomach. "But it was never with Finn either, you were right about that. I saw myself doing all of those things that you talked about but I always saw myself doing them alone. I guess until last night I didn't really see that there was any other option. I think I always say myself alone because there was never anyone else it could have been but you and I just didn't think you were an option."
"I've always been an option."
"I know that now." Rachel said. "So it's settled then. You and me we're gonna take New York by storm." She smiled over at him and he sunk down in the bed, pulling Rachel with him.
"Ok, but tomorrow." Puck mumbled into her hair as he pulled her back against his chest. "Cause I'm fucking exhausted babe." And he was, now that he knew he had Rachel he wasn't sure if he'd be able to keep his eyes open for another second.
"Sure." Rachel turned and placed a soft kiss on his lips. "Tomorrow."
Puck groaned when the banging started up again downstairs. When he'd had heard it five minutes ago he'd grabbed his pillow and covered his head, figuring they'd give up at some point. But they hadn't and he was starting to get fucking pissed off. He threw the pillow across the room and sat up.
The first thing he noticed was that he was alone and for a brief second he thought maybe he'd dreamed everything that had happened the night before but then he saw Rachel's shoes, lined up neatly under his window and he smiled softly to himself. It hadn't been a dream after all, but then where had she gone.
The knocking started again and he groaned, getting out of bed and taking the stairs two at a time. "Can no one in this house answer a fucking door?" he grumbled under his breath. It was probably a Jehova's witness and while he's normally pretty nice to them, well not nice really he just likes to fuck with them for a while, he's not in the mood to be civil this morning.
"Look, dude it's cool that you want to spread the good word and all but we're fucking Jewish, we don't do Messiah's it's like the cornerstone of our religion." He snapped when he swung the door open.
"Noah," Rachel shook her head at him. "Honestly is that how you open the door?"
"Sorry, but it's ass fuck o'clock in the morning," he grumbled.
"It's 8:30," she laughed. "I've been up for two hours already. I've gone home and showered and exercised."
"Why?" he asked confused, it was Saturday, there was no school and they'd just won fucking Regional's. Not to mention that she'd climbed through his window at 3 in the morning so he knew she hadn't gotten a lot of sleep, if there was any day it was ok to sleep in today was that day.
"I figured out how to thank you," she smiled even bigger.
"Oh yeah?" Puck smirked at her. "What did you have in mind?"
"If your coming with me to New York then you're going to school, that is not up for negotiation." Rachel smiled. "Mr. Shue mentioned something about songwriting which I think is an excellent idea so I did a little research," she dumped a very large stack of papers in his hands, "And came up with a few programs that I like and a few that I think you'll like and I've organized them by the percentage of graduates who go on to have successful musical careers and then by proximity to Juliard." She dumped another large stack of papers in his hands and continued, "I also took the liberty of looking into some grant and scholarship programs that cater specifically to musical studies."
"Rach, slow down ok." Puck laughed, dumping the papers on the kitchen counter.
"I gotta get in somewhere before I can even think about how I'm gonna pay for it," he ran a hand through his 'hawk tiredly.
"You'll get in," she brushed him off as if there wasn't any question and to her there wasn't. She believed in him so there was no way he wasn't getting in. "I mean we'll have to start working on building up your portfolio right away, we really should have started this months ago but with Mr. Shue's help we'll be ok. Hi Ms. Puckerman," she smiled and waved behind Puck and he turned to see his mom standing there, an amused expression on her face.
"Rachel." She nodded. "Noah are you going to let her in the house or are you going to stand there all day with the door open and air condition the neighborhood?"
Puck moved aside and let Rachel into the house. "I was just about to start breakfast, come sit, tell me all about Regional's. All I managed to get out of Noah last night was that you won but he won't elaborate."
"Well the other schools didn't stand a chance." Rachel said, gathering up all the papers and following his mom into the kitchen. "Dalton was ok but really a good show choir has to have some female vocals, just to round things out you know."
His mom nodded and listened intently as Rachel told her every detail about the competition. His sister trudged down the stairs a half an hour later, grunting her good mornings and collapsing in a chair at the kitchen table, shoving all of Rachel's papers aside to lay her head down. "What is all this crap?"
"Danielle, don't curse. We have a guest." His mom scolded her and she rolled her eyes as a plate of pancakes was set in front of her.
"It's just Rachel," she grumbled, soaking the pancakes with butter.
"It's fine Mrs. Puckerman." Rachel said. "And to answer your question these are college applications."
"You're applying to all those schools?" His mom asked, clearly impressed as she set pancakes down in front of Puck and Rachel.
"Oh no, these aren't mine. I finished my applications months ago. These are for Noah." Rachel told her with a smile.
"Those are for Noah?" She asked freezing. "You've been looking at colleges?" This question was directed at Puck and he squirmed in his seat.
"I mean, I've been thinking about it."
"He's been quite lax about the whole process to be perfectly honest so I took it up on myself to get it started for him." Rachel turned to Danielle. "Can you pass the butter please?"
His mom sat down at the table staring at Rachel in a way that Puck knew meant she was picturing her in a wedding dress and he had to concentrate on his breakfast so that he didn't start to do the same because it was really too fucking soon for that kind of shit.
Rachel talked about a few of the music programs she'd researched and then asked his sister about her soccer game later that day, promising that the both of them would be there to cheer for her if Puck would be so kind as to explain the rules of the game. He tried to say that no way was he spending his Saturday afternoon watching eighth graders attempt to play soccer when all three of the woman turned on him and really he never had a chance.
His sister got such a huge smile on his face when he said he'd go that Puck knew she was already a little bit in love with Rachel. He could just see it now, the rest of his life would be spent with the three woman at this table ganging up on him and he knew he was really fucked when he thought maybe it wouldn't be so bad.
Rachel volunteered them to do the breakfast dishes and as he grabbed all the plates up from the table he could swear he saw tears in his mom's eyes.
"God mom, it's just dishes." He grumbled and she grabbed his face, placing a soft kiss on his cheek.
"It's not just dishes," she said. "She's got you looking at colleges and going to your sister's game. Do it right this time huh?" She squeezed his face one last time before he ducked out of her grip. He dropped the plates in the sink and Rachel threw a towel at him.
"I'll wash you dry." She said and he nodded, trying to ignore the sound of his mom planning his wedding in the other room.
If Puck thought winning Regional's felt good, it was nothing compared to what winning National's felt like. Puck wasn't really sure anything could feel better until Rachel grabbed his hand and pulled him back stage and kissed him long and hard and whispered breathlessly in his ear. "Quinn's gonna stay with Finn tonight, are you up for a sleepover?" She bit her lip nervously and he smiled at her and nodded.
He'd taken his mom's words to heart, wanting to do it right this time, so they'd been taking it slow. Eventually he'd gotten to touch her boobs this time and they'd done quite a bit more since then but even after Rachel said she was ready he put her off, wanting to be absolutely sure because even if she thought she was ready, he wanted them to be ready but this taking it slow thing was hard and now, after their big win it just seemed right.
She kissed him again before rushing back on stage to celebrate some more. He caught up with his mom who was talking to Rachel's dad about how they couldn't wait to go back home and brag to all the women at Temple about their talented children. His mom tugged him into a very large, very embarrassing hug and then both of Rachel's dads patted him on the back, telling him how very proud they were and as they were leaving one of Rachel's dads slipped two hundreds in his hands and told him to go out on the town and celebrate. Somehow the fact that they trusted him enough with Rachel and two hundred dollars meant more than their pride at their Nationals win.
Then his mom pulled him to the side and pulled an envelope out of her purse and for a second he thought she was going to give him money too but then he saw the return address at the top. "Julliard?" He asked, his breath catching, his mouth suddenly dry. "What does it say?"
"I didn't open it." She said. "I thought maybe you'd want to do that with Rachel."
"Thanks," he folded the envelope and stuffed it into his back pocket trying to put it all out of his mind because he didn't want anything to ruin this moment and for as much faith that Rachel and Mr. Shue had in him, he still had his doubts.
He didn't think about envelope again until he was lying in bed that night. Rachel's head was resting on his chest, her hair tickling the underside of his chin and he was too exhausted to do anything but draw lazy circles on her naked hip as she purred in her sleep and snuggled closer to him. He couldn't sleep, still on a high from the win earlier and with the knowledge that he'd finally had sex with Rachel Berry when he saw the edge of it poking out of his pants pocket.
He gently slid Rachel's head off of his chest and onto a pillow before moving to the edge of the bed, pulling the envelope free from his pants pocket and ripping it open. He stared at the first sentence for five minutes straight until the words stopped making sense and everything on the page sort of blurred together. "Noah?" Rachel asked and he turned around. She was kneeling on the bed behind him, her hair sleep and sex tousled, holding the bed sheet up against her chest and she was giving him a worried look. He didn't say anything and she looked past him to the paper in his hands.
Without saying a word she scooted closer to him and pulled the paper from his hands, tearing her eyes away from his only long enough to read the first line. She stopped and then read it again and then a third time before her face finally split into what had to be the biggest smile he'd ever seen from her. "You got into Julliard?" she asked him in a whisper.
"Apparently," he said, the news not really sinking in until she'd said it out loud.
"You got into Julliard!" she screamed louder and tackling him down to the mattress in a tangle of arms and legs and delirious laughter as they rolled around on the mattress. At some point the laughter died and he kissed her softly. He knew if he pushed it, he could turn it into more but he was content to just kiss her for the time being.
"It's sort of real now huh?" She asked when he pulled away, trailing her finger tips up and down his arm as he loomed over her. "We're going to New York."
"We're in New York." He said with a smirk and she smacked him lightly.
"You know what I mean," she rolled her eyes at him
"Yeah I do." He nodded and kissed her nose.
"We're gonna make it Noah." She told him, seriously. "All the way to the top."
He rolled his eyes and she chuckled. "I'm not gonna say it." He told her.
"Where are we going Noah?" She asked him.
"I'm not gonna say it Rach."
"Noah," she whispered, looking up at him through her lashes and he thought, fuck.
"Just this once," he warned her and she nodded. "And if I do this, you never ask me again?"
"Cross my heart," she said, actually crossing her heart with her fingertip. "Where are we going Noah?"
"To the toppermost of the poppermost," he told her and this time he actually believed it.