For Rachel and Marisa. I love you guys!

(All mistakes are mine.)


It's like he's been hit on the head with a metal fucking baseball bat. He's watching from the sidelines as she steps out on stage looking like a frightened kitten, or something. There's a tense silence where she looks in his direction, but it's not his eyes she meets, and he feels strangely disappointed about this. She's looking at Finn, who stands to the side of him, and then towards Mr Schue, who's standing with Finn. He watches her compose herself and turn towards the audience. There's a tense silence and then the music starts, and she's blowing everyone away within seconds, just like she always does. Including him.

So he knows she's written this song herself. He's even heard it briefly in passing, as he leaves football practice and passes the auditorium where she rehearses with Mr. Schue. He's never listened to the lyrics before though, but he is now, and his heart legit fucking breaks for her.

She's singing about Finn - even a moron could figure that out. She's standing there, alone, belting out lyrics about how she wants to fix it and get it right, and all he can think of how she's so fucking stupid sometimes.

She can try again all she wants, but it'll just end the way it has done for the last thousand times. And then she'll try again. Full circle.

But yeah, he realizes in a matter of fucking seconds, that even though she wants to fix her messed-up relationship with his best friend, he wants to be the one to fix her.

The thought comes from fucking nowhere, and he feels weirdly dizzy when it hits him. Swallowing thickly, he glances towards Lauren, who has a small half-smile on his face as she watches Rachel. She's eating a packet of M&Ms, and Puck knows that Rachel would totally bitch her out for that, since apparently chocolate sticks to your throat and you should never eat it before performing, and whatever.

Yeah, so sometimes he listens. No big deal.

Lauren is cool and all, and he loves the fact that she's badass and independent. But that's kinda the problem, y'know? He likes being the protective guy, and Lauren isn't ever gonna let him protect her. Sure, Rachel is a fucking fireball at times and can totally be all over that feminist stuff, but he knows that she loves feeling safe too. It's totally understandable, given that most of the students at McKinley kinda want to choke her.

Puck sinks into a chair behind him, looking back at Rachel as Brittany and Tina join her on stage for backup. She smiles st them with tears in her eyes, looking goddamn stunning as she does, and he feels like kicking himself. Yeah, he and Rachel are pretty much friends now, have been since their kick-ass duet. Shit, he's even been to her house a couple of times to watch a movie. But he's pretty sure that friends aren't supposed to think that if he could get away with it, he'd drag her off the stage and kiss her so hard that she'd forget all about her ex and his obliviousness.

He glances at the taller boy just as Quinn slips her hand into Finn's. Puck rolls his eyes. The guy has absolutely no fucking idea what he's done to the brunette on stage, does he? Yeah, he probably appreciates the lyrics and how surprisingly decent the song is, if he's into the whole emotional ballad thing. But does he have a clue how many times Puck has caught her crying in her car, the auditorium, even that time in her bedroom when she started crying as they watched The Hangover? She tried to pass it off as crying at the movie, but fuck, what is there to cry about in The Hangover? Seriously.

He's cleaned the girl up more times than he thinks is healthy.

What? He's not just gonna ignore her when he finds her crying, okay? He's cruel and all, but that's just hardcore. He hates seeing chicks all emotional. He lives in a house with two girls and it fucking sucks when they cry.

Rachel reaches the inevitable power notes in the bridge and he sees the crowd going wild. She looks so fucking proud of herself, and he lets out a soft groan. He's screwed. Totally screwed.

-/-

They win. They fucking win. They're going to Nationals.

And she's crying and jumping around, and he can't help but move to hug her. Mr. Schue meets his eyes over the top of his head and he somehow ends up in the hug too.

"I'm so proud of you kids," He's saying over the cheering and Rachel's crying harder, and Puck's so goddamn proud of everyone too, even if he'd never admit.

"We won!" Rachel is shouting into his shoulder, her arms squeezing him tightly. "We're going to Nationals, Noah! New York! We won! Noah, this is- unf!"

And he's laughing and cutting her off by wrapping her up tightly in his arms and spinning her around a little, and there's nothing like the relief that they all feel right now. It's incredible, until Finn happily tugs Rachel out of Puck's arms and into his own.

And then Lauren is high fiving him and Brittany has pretty much jumped into his arms and he's laughing, even though he hates how eagerly Rachel is burying her face into Finn's chest.

And then everything stops for a while, because Sylvester punches that chick in the face and knocks her out.

Shit was fucking hilarious, though.

-/-

He knows he's pulling away from Lauren, even though he doesn't even have any intention to go after Rachel. It just happens. The girl notices too, and pulls him up about it when she finishes her wrestling practice and takes a seat next to him in the stands.

"Yo, Puckerman," She says, popping a piece of gum in her mouth. "What's your problem?"

"What?" He asks, stuffing his hands in the pockets of his hoodie. "What'd I do?"

"You didn't even notice my full body slam on Davies. I totally crushed the guy. Where's the boner? Where's the 'please let me motorboat the twins'? Honestly, Puck, you need to man up if you wanna get all up on this."

He shrugs regretfully, leaning forward a little. "Whatever. I'm distracted."

"Well, don't be. So, tonight. We still going to set fire to the math books you stole? I'm in the mood for some s'mores."

He sighs. "I dunno, Zize. Might just stay home."

The larger girl draws her eyes off him in a disgusted expression. "God, you suck."

She gets up then and walks away, leaving him alone.

Whatever.

-/-

"Noah?" Rachel's voice on the phone is embarrassed and quiet, and he closes his laptop, concerned.

"Sup, Rach?"

"Um, about our plans tonight, could you maybe come over a little earlier?"

"Sure. When?"

"Well, right now would be good."

He laughs a little bit, reaching for his zipper. "Missing me?"

"Actually... I need you to do something for me, if you wouldn't mind... I mean, you're my friend, right?" She's practically whispering now, and he can almost feel the warmth of her cheeks through the goddamn phone.

"Uh, what's going on Rach?" He grabs his wallet and heads down the stairs.

"Well, my dads are in Columbus and they took my car since theirs broke down last week. They won't be home for hours and I need..." She talks quickly, stumbling over her words in an attempt to get them out as quick as possible, and she totally trails off at the last part. He's totally confused.

"Yeah, I barely got a word of that, Berry."

The girl whimpers, humiliated and frustrated, and he's kinda smiling as he grabs his car keys from the hall table and exits the house, heading for his beloved truck.

"Tampons, Noah. I need tampons."

He tenses as he opens the door truck before climbing in with a loud groan. All traces of an amused smile are gone. "Oh shit, Rachel. Fuck no."

"Please? This is embarrassing for me too," She says pathetically, and he knows that he's gonna end up doing this shit for her anyway, because he can never fucking say no to her. "I wouldn't ask, but I can't get them myself right now, and you're coming over anyway. I obviously miscalculated the timing of my menstrual-"

"Fuck! Stop! Stop talking!" He's practically yelling into the phone and he throws his head against the back of his seat, squeezing his eyes closed. "Shit, Rach. Do you have any idea how much of a pussy I'm gonna look buying you fucking girl stuff?"

There's a brief silence on the other end of the phone and he sighs loudly.

"Shit. What kind do I get?"

He's so fucking whipped for a girl who doesn't even want him.

-/-

One day, he walks in on Finn and Rachel in the auditorium. They're sitting on the edge of the stage, swinging their legs, and she's so close to him that she's practically on his lap. Finn doesn't look like he minds about that. His entire body is turned towards her, and their heads are close as they murmur intimately to each other. They don't even notice he's there, and he doesn't make his presence known. Instead, he turns and heads back out into the hallway. He'll get his guitar later.

He feels like punching Finn, especially when she sees Quinn humming happily away at her locker. He'd bet his life on the fact that Quinn probably has no idea where her boyfriend is right now.

God, and people call him an asshole. Finn's his boy and all, but he's a fucking idiot.

-/-

He breaks up with Lauren a week later. She's not the girl he wants anymore, and he's pretty sick of her insulting him all the time. He gets enough of that from his mom.

The heavier girl punches him in the face when he breaks the news to her, and Rachel can't help but giggle as she presses an ice pack to his eye in his kitchen just an hour later.

"Don't fucking laugh at me," He growls, which only makes her laugh harder.

"I'm sorry Noah," She hiccups. "It's just funny to see a self-proclaimed badass get his butt kicked by a girl."

"Woah!" He protests, wincing as she presses the ice against a particularly sensitive part of his eye. "Are you questioning my badassness? I totally could've destroyed her if she wasn't a girl."

Rachel throws her head back and laughs loudly again, and fuck. Even her goddamn laughter is musical.

"I'm sorry, Noah," She pants after a moment, trying hard to control herself. "But, no. You couldn't. Lauren could kill you."

There are genuine fucking tears of amusement streaming down her face, and he tries hard not to smile at the sight.

"I fucking hate you," He says instead.

She smiles and hands him his can of Coke. "Oh please. You do not," She says knowingly. "Not even a little bit."

S'true. He doesn't.

-/-

She leaves her history textbook in his truck one afternoon and he heads to her place to drop it off after dinner. It's her dad who opens the door (the one who likes him), and he looks both flustered and relieved to see him.

"Sup, Mr B?" He asks carefully, holding up Rachel's book. "Rachel left this in my truck."
"Noah, it's good to see you," He exclaims, quickly pulling the boy into the house and pushing him gently in the direction of the staircase. "Rae is in her room. She's been crying since she got home, do you know what's wrong? She won't tell us."

The concern hits him like he's been pushed into an ice cold swimming pool. "She's crying? Shit."

Her dad ignores the curse and shrugs helplessly. "Maybe you can get it out of her. Go on up."

Puck nods and heads up the staircase, dread flooding through him when he hears the more angstier songs of the Spring Awakening soundtrack coming from her room. This is not good.

And fuck, he hates that he knows which damn musical it is.

He doesn't bother knocking and simply enters, raising his eyebrows as he finds Rachel in full-on drama queen mode, sobbing loudly into a pillow.

"Sup with you?" He asks, and the girl spins around in surprise, her face soaking wet with tears.

"Noah! Wh-what are you d-doing here?" She sniffs pathetically and makes an effort to wipe away her tears, despite the fact that fresh ones spring to her eyes almost instantly.

He ignores her question and simply kicks off his shoes, collapsing onto the bed next to her. The textbook falls to the floor. She watches him as quietly as she can, sniffing occasionally.

"Seriously, Rachel. Spill." He demands, rolling onto his side to look at her. He fucking hates seeing her cry like this. He thinks he's been in this situation way more than he wants to.

"It's Finn," She says, and fuck. Of course it is. He rolls his eyes, but lets her tangle her legs with his.

"What about him?" His voice sounds strangely stiff.

Rachel's lower lip trembles and a single tear spills from her eye and slides slowly down her cheek. "Why doesn't he realize that I'm better for him than Quinn? That we had something special? Why did he give up on us so easily?"

He's heard all of this before. A hundred times. And he's fucking sick of it.

"He's not worth it," He says, and Rachel shuffles closer, wrapping her arms around him, obviously seeking comfort. His arms immediately snake around her and he rubs her back gently, enjoying the small silence.

"He is worth it though." Rachel says in a small, tired voice. He can feel the warmth of her breath against his neck. "I love him."

There's a pause in which Puck can't think of one single word to say to her, but his entire body stiffens. Rachel pulls her head away to look at him, and her expression is one of confusion.

Puck pulls away from her and sits up as though he's been burned, just as she opens her mouth to ask him what's wrong. He reaches for the shoes that he's just kicked off and pulls them back on again.

"Noah?" Rachel asks, her hand on his shoulder. "What-"

He cuts her off angrily, quickly tucking his shoelaces into his sneakers. "You don't fucking love him. You just think you do because you have some stupid little fantasy stuck in your head. You think if you have him everything will end up perfect, which is bullshit because he causes more fucking problems than he solves."

Rachel blinks, tears forgotten in her stunned silence. He stands up, but bends down to pick up her textbook, and her eyes follow his movements. He throws the book on the bed by her feet and heads for the door.

"Where are you going, Noah?"

"Home."

-/-

He texts her when he get's home, out of guilt and regret. He feels like an ass for leaving her to cry.

Sorry 4 bailing on u. U ok?

She doesn't reply, but she waits for him in the parking lot at school the following morning with a tired smile and a friendly hug. He'll take it.

-/-

He's ditching Spanish class a week later, when he hears angry yelling coming from the library. Amused and looking for some entertainment, he turns the corner, amusement rapidly disappearing as he finds a red-faced Quinn being escorted out of the room by an angry-looking librarian. When the blond sees him, she promptly bursts into tears and fuck, why does every chick he knows seem to be crying lately?

The librarian nudges her in his direction and Quinn clings to him tightly, and he's so fucking freaked out right now.

"Q?" He asks awkwardly, lightly patting her back. She says nothing but wails into his body, her hands clinging to his t-shirt.

God, this is like the return of the pregnancy hormones. She's not cried like this in front of him in over a year.

"Shit, Q? What the hell's going on?" He says, attempting to lead her into an empty classroom. She lets him, and it's only when he's closed the door behind him that she seems to get control of herself.

"I should have seen it coming," She growls, using the sleeves of her cardigan to wipe her face. There's mascara smudged all around her eyes and she looks a total mess. "I thought it was different this time. I guess I was wrong."

"The fuck are you talking about?"

"My boyfriend!" She seethes, and he can tell that she's using all of her self-control to resist from kicking at something. "Or my ex-boyfriend. I caught them."

And then he understands, and he rolls his eyes. Of course. Of fucking course. "Finn and Rachel?"

"Who else?" She says bitterly, her hands flying to her temples. She massages them slowly. "Making out in the back of the library. The library. Who even does that? It's pathetic. What does he even see in her? I'm prettier, I'm not half as annoying, and I don't force cat calenders upon him. He could have everything with me! God, we were supposed to be prom king and queen! She's such a bitch."

He knows she's just venting her frustration, but he can't stop himself from defending Rachel. He regrets speaking the second the words leave his lips. "Hey, she's not that bad."

"Oh no," Quinn's eyes narrow, and she sends him a look that could cut through steel. "Not you too, Puckerman."

"Shit. Course not," He says too quickly. "What the fuck? No."

Quinn doesn't reply, just closes her eyes and lets out a loud sigh, muttering something to herself under her breath. She seems to have calmed down a little, and she nods at him coldly before turning around and leaving the room, closing the door a little harder than necessary.

Well shit.

-/-

He heads over to Rachel's that night, and he's greeted by her other dad, who tells him that she's in her room, and to please leave the door open.

He hears the Mamma Mia soundtrack this time, and he knows that she plays this one when she's happy about something.

He's not wrong. He knows her way too well. He isn't even sure when that happened.

Rachel is sitting at her desk wearing that stupid reserved-for-Finn smile, and he groans in disgust when he notices that she's doodling hearts in her notebook like a child.

"Noah!" She beams when she sees him, and immediately stands up to wrap her arms around him. She smells like, fuck, he doesn't know, summer or something, and he thinks he holds on to her a little longer than he should. "What are you doing here?"

They break apart and he shoots her a look of confusion, holding up the guitar case he's brought with him. "Uh, we had plans? You wanted me to help you with a song?"

"Oh!" Realization dawns on her face and she bites her lip, embarrassed. "Oh, Noah, I'm sorry! I actually don't need help with that particular song any more. Not after today..." She trails off, biting her lip in a stupid effort to hide a dreamy smile. "I was going to sing to Finn to express my undying love for him, but he told me – today – that he still has feelings for me! Can you believe it?"

She giggles happily, and Puck can't help but resent Finn for this. Yeah, she's smiling now, but in a month or two she'll be sobbing all over again.

"Cool, Rach. M'happy for ya." He shrugs, managing to flash a smile in her direction. "You wanna just watch a movie then? Fight Club is on tonight."

Rachel opens her mouth to reply but she's cut off by the sound of the doorbell ringing downstairs. She tilts her head to the side and listens to the murmuring of voices, and then her dad shouts up to her.

"Rae, sweetheart, Finn's coming up! But no more friends over tonight, okay?"

Rachel's eyes widen in surprise and Puck stifles a groan, suddenly not wanting to stay any longer. Finn appears at the doorway, a look of confusion on his face.

"Puck? Hey. I saw your truck outside." The taller boy says, nodding at his friend. "What are you doing here?"

"S'cool, dude. I was just leaving." He pats Finn on the shoulder before reaching for Rachel, pulling her into a quick hug. He knows how uneasy it'll make Finn, and that's half the reason he does it, as opposed to just getting out of there as quickly as possible.

"See ya around, Rach."

"Bye, Noah. I'm sorry about... you know."

Puck nods, picks up his guitar case, and leaves the room.

He's halfway down the stairs when he hears Finn's voice. "You guys weren't like, making out or anything, were you? I mean, it's Puck..."

He laughs quietly, bitterly at Rachel's reply. "Of course not, Finn. Don't be silly."

Silly. Right.

-/-

He fucks Santana out of sheer frustration, and when he comes and his eyes are half-closed, he pretends the messy brown hair belongs to another girl in the glee club.

-/-

He's fucking desperate. Finn and Rachel are attached at the goddamn hip again, and it makes him sick to even look at them. Quinn seems to be having the same problem, and is back in bitch mode. Between her yelling, Lauren's constant kicking at his shins, and 'Finchel's' love sick stares, glee club has become his own personal hell. So he ditches a lot.

Nobody has even pulled him up about it. He doesn't think anyone actually notices he's not there, which is both good and kinda offensive.

Whatever. He gets more singing done when he's alone in his room, anyway. At least in his room there's no vest-wearing teacher who thinks the sun shines out of his best friend's ass.

Fucking story of his life, isn't it? Finn's the golden boy. He's just the back-up.

And he feels like a total ass for resenting his best friend so much.

-/-

12:03: Hi Noah! Do you want to hang out today? R*

13:49: Noah, have you forgotten to charge your phone again? Answer me, silly! R*

14:37: Okay, I've tried calling your cell and your house, but you're not answering. Where are you? R

15:13: Did I do something wrong? Please call me. I'm worried. :(

15:16: sup Rach? nah we're kl. just gnna hang w/Sam 2day. txt u later.

(He likes that she worries about him.)

-/-

"Dude, why are you ignoring my girlfriend?" Finn asks him after one evening after football practice. Puck shoots him a confused look, closing his locker and picking up his gym bag.

"What?"

"Rach says you're friends and stuff, but you've been like, blowing her off lately."

She's right. He has been blowing her off.

"Nah, dude. I haven't. I've just been busy."

"I call bullshit, Puck. All you've been doing is playing Halo and going to the gym." Finn glares his disapproval, and Puck pulls a face, stepping around the bench to the door. Finn finishes tying his shoelaces and follows him, and together they make their way out to the parking lot.

"Look, man, she thinks you're mad at her," Finn says. "I'm pretty sure she was crying about it when we watched Bride Wars the other day."

"What the fuck is Bride Wars?"

"It's a movie, dude. About these two hot chicks who get married on the same day and try and screw up each other's wedding."

"That's the stupidest shit I've ever heard. And you watched it. Fuck, dude. You planning on joining Kurt's team?"

Finn shoves him defensively, and Puck stumbles a little, laughing as he catches himself.

"Shut up, dude. It wasn't bad. But yeah, they become friends in the end and-"

"Holy fuck man, spoiler alert." He laughs harder, because yeah, like he'd ever watch that shit.

Finn snorts. "Stop interrupting me, dammit. But at the end when they're all crying and stuff, Rachel starts crying and she says something about you being mad at her and avoiding her. What's up with that?"

He stops laughing at the thought of Rachel crying over his stupid ass, and he shrugs his shoulders. "Nothing, dude. Seriously. But whatever, I'll fix it."

"Kay," There's a brief silence before Finn turns to Puck uncertainly. "What's going on with you and her, anyway?" Puck rolls his eyes at the question and Finn punches him on the arm. "Don't! You know you can't blame me for worrying. It's not like you've given me much of a reason to trust you."

Puck winces but shrugs it off, nudging Finn with his shoulder. "S'cool, dude. There's fuck all going on between me and Rach."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah." They reach Puck's truck, and he grins at his friend as he slides into the driver's seat. "So you want me to stop at Target you so can buy your own copy of Bride Wars?"

-/-

17:24: wnna help me babysit the brat?

17:25: Yes! I'd love to! When do you need me? :) *

17:26: now.

17:27: On my way! Bringing cookies! :) *

-/-

"Jesus Christ!"

He's barely opened the door before she's flinging herself into his arms squeezing him tightly. He hugs her back, chuckling amusedly into the top of her head.

"What was that?" He asks when she pulls back, grabbing the pink container full of cookies from her hands.

"Don't eat them all, some are for Sarah!" She smiles, shrugging out of her jacket and hanging it up next to his. "I just missed you, is all."

Those six words might just be the best thing he's ever heard in his life.

-/-

A week later, he kisses her.

It's a total accident, honestly. He's at her house bringing her icing sugar and flour, because the JCC is having a bake sale and his mom wouldn't stop bitching at him to help out. So he bought some ingredients to shut her up, and Rachel offered to do the baking for him.

He's sprawled lazily over her kitchen table on Saturday afternoon, playing Pokemon Blue on her old pink Gameboy out of boredom. Rachel is singing to herself as she dances around the kitchen. He doesn't think she even knows she's singing, and it makes him smile a little. Plus, she just totally blew him away with the acoustic version of Hey Ya. He played it for her on his guitar last week and now he's thinking they should perform it at Glee club or something.

"So you're not going to help me at all?" She sighs, stopping her rushing around to rest her hands on his shoulders, hovering over him. She eyes his game wearily. "Oh, watch out! Don't kill my Squirtle!"

He laughs and tilts his head back to look up at her after hitting the pause button. "Babe, I am helping. I'm supervisor in charge of this little factory we got goin' on."

She scoffs but smiles, hitting him lightly as she straightens up. "It's hardly a factory. Come and help me make brownies."

"Hell no."

Her eyes turn wide, pleading. "I'll let you lick the bowl after."

Yeah, okay. She wins. He grins easily and gets to his feet. "Okay. What's the plan?"

Rachel beams as if she's just won the damn lottery, her hand flying out to briefly squeeze his arm. "Measure out eighty-five grams of flour, please."

Her smile disappears when he carelessly reaches for the bag and manages to knock it over, sending a large cloud of white powder into the air. Rachel shrieks and he just manages to catch it as it moves to roll off the counter completely, but he's already totally wrecked the kitchen anyway.

And Rachel. She looks like a goddamn ghost or something. He probably doesn't look much better. S'funny though.

She splutters, her lips white with flour, and her eyes wide in surprise. He barks out a laugh and moves closer to her to wipe the flour from Rachel's lips with the pad of his thumb. He doesn't mean it to be a romantic gesture, or whatever. Shit, of course not. It's just, when he touches her lips, the mood instantly changes, and she looks up at him with brown eyes that seem to be searching for something that she's not sure of. He can't help but lick his own lips a little awkwardly, and he doesn't miss the way that her eyes quickly fall to his mouth, following the movement of his tongue.

He wants to kiss her, and he's almost positive that she wants to kiss him too.

So he does.

He leans down, slowly backing her into the counter, before he slides one of his hands into her hair, messy with white powder. Rachel's eyes stay on his face the whole time, and as his lips meet hers, she lets out a small whimper against his lips before she kisses back.

His free hand reaches for her own and he holds it against her waist as they kiss, much too recklessly. Her other hand moves to grip his shoulder tightly, the way it always does when this happens.

They kiss easily for ten minutes, starting out eager and passionate, and eventually easing their way into lazy and familiar. They only jump apart when they hear her dad's car pull up in the driveway, and she looks around with unfocused eyes, obviously trying to figure out what just happened.

"We just... I just... Oh no," Her hand flies to cover her mouth, quickly snapping out of the haze that she's been in. Puck can only watch her uncertainly, his lips wet and swollen. "You... You go out and get more flour, I'll clean up here."

She sounds frantic, panicky and Puck steps toward her, unsure. "Rach-"

Rachel shakes her head. "Just go, Noah. Please."

He does as he's told.

-/-

"Noah, please, please, don't tell Finn," She says seriously, desperately, when they're done putting a batch of oatmeal raisin cookies in the oven. They haven't talked about what happened earlier, but it's obvious what she's referring to, and he only nods in response. "It was a mistake. It won't happen again, right?"

"Right."

-/-

It happens the next day at the bake sale.

-/-

And on Tuesday, when she comes over to play with his sister.

-/-

And on Thursday, when they rehearse their upcoming duet.

-/-

And on Friday, when they give up on excuses and reasons, and simply want to make out.

He'd love it, if Rachel didn't seem so tense and worried at school when they were both around Finn. S'understandable though.

-/-

She has a date with Finn on Saturday, and it makes Puck insanely jealous to think about it, but it's not as if he can't do anything to stop them. Rachel comes over on Sunday afternoon, when his mom takes the brat to visit his Nana Connie, and they end up lying on his bed, legs tangled as they share infrequent, relaxed kisses.

They're listening to Guns 'n Roses when she breaks down.

"I'm such a terrible person," She says, her voice cracking. "I don't... I don't know what I'm doing. I love Finn and he treats me right, but..."

She trails off as she starts to lose control a little, and he automatically rubs at her hip with his thumb, his other hand stroking through her hair. It's fucking instinct, okay?

"But what?" He says hoarsely, because yeah, he kind of knows how he feels. He's the crappiest excuse for a best friend that ever existed, but he really doesn't want to stop hanging out with Rachel.

She sniffs a little. "But I really like spending time with you, Noah. You're my b-best friend, and it feels... It feels... Different? A good different."

He nods slowly and presses a light kiss to her lips. "I don't know what to tell you."

Rachel laughs dryly, but rests her arm over his stomach. "I don't know what this is. Me and you."

"Babe, I don't either."

She takes a deep shaky breath, nudging his foot with her own.

"I like it though," He says suddenly, and he feels like a pussy saying it, but it's so fucking true. "Me. You. Us. I dunno."

She smiles. "Yes. Me too. And you've only tried to touch my breasts twice. You've learned some respect for boundaries since the last time."

He winks. "I learned fast. The last time you almost scratched my fucking arm off when I tried to take off your shirt."
She blushes a little, hiding her face in his shoulder. He laughs and she does too, and he feels her press her lips against him.

This is... Fuck. It's fucking nice. He could do this all the time.

-/-

"Come over tonight," He leans over to whisper in her ear at the start of glee. She's sitting in the seat in front of him and she stiffens at the feeling of his breath on her skin.

Finn hasn't arrived yet. They're safe for now.

"I can't," She hisses, still noticeably tense. "Finn and I are going to a movie."

The familiar feeling of jealous begins to take over and he touches her shoulder. She shrugs his hand away quickly and he rolls his eyes. She's being paranoid.

"Ditch him."

She spins around to glare at him, speaking in an angry whisper. "I can't, Noah. I've seen you more than I've seen him this week."

"That's a good thing, baby."

"Not to him!" Her eyes flash dangerously. "He doesn't know about Wednesday or Monday, but he's getting suspicious that we've been hanging out more than usual, and he has every right to be. He's my boyfriend!"

He scowls at her angrily. "And so what the fuck am I?"

He doesn't know where the words came from.

"I..." She's momentarily stunned by the question, though she's saved from answering when Finn chooses that moment to enter the room, waving happily as he catches sight of the two. He moves to join them and Rachel's hard expression softens slightly as she meets Puck's eyes, before she turns to peck her boyfriend on the lips. Puck pointedly looks away, catching sight of Quinn across the room, who's obviously been watching the whole scene.

She raises one eyebrow and he scoffs, looking away again.

This is some fucking messed up shit.

-/-

"Don't be mad at me," Rachel says quickly, catching up with him in the parking lot after glee rehearsal. She slips her small hand into his, squeezing it quickly and pulling away before Tina or Mike can notice as they walk past.

"I'm not," He says, and it's not a lie. "Look, I know things are messed up and shit, and I know you and Finn are... It doesn't even matter. We're cool, baby."

She smiles a little, nudging her waist against his as they walk slowly towards his truck. He laughs. She's fucking cute, okay?

"Lemme drive you home?" He asks, but she shakes her head.

"Finn offered already. He's in the bathroom."

"Right," Puck says, limiting himself to just a sigh. "I'll text you later then."

"Come over tomorrow," She says quietly, reaching up to give him a quick hug when they reach his truck. "Two o'clock. Don't be late, okay?"

"Sure thing," He murmurs, his thumb tracing circles on the small of her back as he breathes in the smell of her perfume. He's really getting sick of this creeping around shit, but he likes her too much to end it.

-/-

She's giggling underneath him as he lazily slides his finger from her ankle to the inside of her lower thigh. His lips nip playfully at her ear. He smiles against her skin, listening to the sound of the rain hit her window almost to the rhythm of her stupid Ingrid Whatshername CD that's playing in the background.

He runs his fingers over her neck and she squirms.

Rachel giggles again. "I'm tickly."

"Like I didn't already know that shit," He rolls his eyes and she laughs freely, before moving her head to press kisses to his jaw line.

He's fucking stunned when she takes his hand next, and guides it underneath her t-shirt, letting him rest it on her bare stomach. Her skin is warm against his, and he raises his eyebrows, a faint smirk playing on her lips.

She doesn't say anything, but she keeps her eyes on his as he moves his hand up to brush over her boobs. His own eyes go dark with lust as he watches her bite her already-swollen lip.

"Fuck," He breathes. This is new.

She lets him take the shirt off, and he trails kisses from her navel upwards, until he reaches her pink bra.

"Has Finn ever..." There's a part of him that needs to know.

She shakes her head shyly. "Only over the shirt," She whispers. "The last time we dated."

He hates the thought of his friend touching her in any way, but it's pretty much the best answer he could've hoped for, and he drops the subject. He pushes himself up a little, pressing an open-mouthed kiss to her nipple through the light material of her lace bra, and he breathes out a hushed laugh as Rachel's head lolls to the side, her back arching into him.

And then suddenly she's pushing him off of her frantically, and he's really goddamn confused about it. "Noah, the time!"
He looks up to the pink clock hanging on her wall, seeing that it's five o'clock already. He doesn't know what the big deal is. Her dads don't get home until six.

"Yeah, what about it?"

She sits up, reaching for her t-shirt and quickly pulling it over her head. "Finn will be here in thirty minutes! We're going out for dinner!"

He groans loudly, pulling her back down beside him. "Don't."

"Stop it," She breathes, though she lets herself rest against him for a few seconds. "Don't do this."

"Rachel," He places a light kiss to her neck before sucking lightly on the skin. "Don't go. Stay with me, okay?"

He watches her eyes flutter closed, and the thinks he's won, but when she opens them again seconds later, they're full of tears. "Please don't."

"I'm sick of you fucking ditching me for him," He says with a fierce sort of honestly, letting her go and sitting up quickly.

"He's my boyfriend," She says sadly, and he looks down at her.

"Yeah, so am I."

She can't even deny it, and she nods slowly, scrambling onto her knees. She takes his face in her hands and kisses him softly on the lips. "I'm sorry, but I have to see him..."

"No, you don't," He says firmly, his hands snaking around your best. "Stay with me. I'm better."

She smiles a watery smile. "Noah..."

"I mean it, Rach. Stay with me. Don't go out with him. Ever."

"You mean..."

"Break up with him. Be with me."

He doesn't know where the words are coming from but it feels good to say them, and he brushes her hair out of her face confidently. She looks stunned. Her eyes are wide and there are faint worry lines across her forehead. He uses his thumb to smooth them out gently. "Baby..."

"I... I don't..." She takes a deep breath. "Do you even want to be with me like that?"

He laughs bitterly, tightening his grip on her. "Rachel... Fuck. You know that I'm crazy about you."

The first tear spills from her eyes and she kisses his eyes, his nose, his chin, his cheeks and his lips. He feels like the fucking weight of the world has been lifted from his shoulders, or something lame like that. It's a good feeling though.

"Be with me," He says again, and she covers her face with her hands.

"I don't know," Her voice cracks and he feels like he's been punched in the stomach. So fucking close. "Finn..."

"Forget about him."

"It-It's not that easy, Noah."

"It is." His voice is firm, controlled. Rachel, on the other hand is falling apart in front of him. The tears are flowing steadily now. "C'mon, Rach. You like me too. I fucking know it."

"I do! I do!" She insists quickly, her hand reaching out for his. "I always have! I'm so comfortable with you, Noah. But Finn... He's my first love. I like him too."

He sighs, pulls away from her. He should've kept quiet, because the floodgates are open, and there's no fucking way he's holding back. He gets to his feet, pacing the floor of her bedroom.

"I can make you happier than he can."

"Noah, please don't-"

"You don't think that in a month you'll be crying over his stupid ass again, when you find him making out with Q or Santana, or whatever? It'll happen again, Rachel. Just like it always does."

She lets out a sob and he thinks he's being too harsh, but he can't stop.

"It's fucking crazy, the way you let him treat you. You think you love him? Bullshit. I've told you that before and I'll tell you again. You love the way he fits into your perfect-guy list. Popular, male lead, whatever. It's pathetic, Rachel. It's all fucking fantasy and you're letting that stop you from seeing that he's a total dick."

"Stop!" She's sobbing freely, tears streaming down her face and he feels the guilt hit him. He stops.

"You need to choose," He says quietly, calmly, sliding his feet into his sneakers. "You need to choose between him and me, and I'm asking you right fucking now to choose me. I won't mess you around. You can handle my bullshit. I can deal with yours. We're good together, Rachel."

There's a silence, and they can only stare at each other, neither of them saying a word. It seems to last forever.

Her hesitation is all the answer he needs.

"Right," He says, defeated, reaching for his jacket. "Right. Have fun with Finn."

He walks out of her house and doesn't look back, ignoring the sound of her calling after him.

-/-

He goes home. He wants to drive around, clear his head, but the rain is falling hard and fast, and he can barely see out of the windshield, even with the help of the wipers.

The house is empty. He's glad about that. He grabs a can of Red Bull and goes straight to his room, grabbing his laptop and forcing himself not to think about her.

It doesn't work.

He punches a wall and cuts his fist open.

There's a lot of swearing.

-/-

There's a knock on the front door three hours later. He knows who it is instantly, and he hesitates before he moves to answer it. But fuck, it's raining and cold, and he can't just leave her outside. So he goes downstairs and opens the damn door.

Even in the short walk from her car to his porch, she's still managed to get herself soaking wet.

"What do you want?" He says emotionlessly, and he can't tell if it's raindrops or tears that are sliding down her face.

"I broke up with Finn," She says, her voice cracking with nearly every syllable. Yeah, she's crying. He doesn't reply, and she stares up at him, her eyes wide and honest. "I'm yours. If you'll have me."

He lets out a breath and pulls her inside, and she doesn't even let him take her jacket off before her arms are around his neck and she's sobbing into his chest.

He holds her back just as tightly, and she's getting him soaking wet, but he doesn't really give a fuck about that.

"Did you mean it?" She sobs, clinging to him. "Because I really like you too, and I broke Finn's heart, and please, please don't make me regret this, Noah. But I want to try. I want to be with you."

God, he feels like the worst damn person in the world and at the same time it's the best feeling, having her in his arms. He kisses the top of her head.

"Meant every word, Rach."

"G-Good." She stands on her tiptoes to kiss him properly, and he responds eagerly, sliding her wet jacket off her arms before running his hands all over her in an attempt to warm her up. He feels the goosebumps break out on her skin and he laughs into the kiss, because God, he's so fucking happy right now.

Rachel's smiling too when they finally break apart, and she blushes, biting her lip with a quiet giggle. Puck smirks and uses his index finder to wipe away the tear tracks on her cheeks before quickly pressing his lips to the wet patch of skin.

"What did he say?" He asks, and Rachel shakes her head.

"It doesn't matter," She smiles tiredly but confidently, and fuck, he likes her like this. "I don't need his approval anymore, do I? You were right Noah."

"I was an ass." He mumbles, shaking his head, but he smiles sheepishly and absent-mindedly takes a hold of her hand, running his rough fingers over her smoother ones. She bites her lip, stepping closer to him.

"You always are," She giggles like she's made the world best joke, and quickly kisses him before he can get mad. It works.

Besides, he can never stay mad at her anyway.


Review? :)