Prompt fill over at the PR drabble meme for beckingham: "A blind Rachel. AU or not, after some accident or from birth. Don't care."
Hopefully this turned out good…
Rachel Berry has always lived in the dark. She lives in a world that is never in light, never filled with colour. She assumes that this is normal, that this is just the way its like for everyone else.
It is only when she starts at McKinley that she realizes she's different.
When she's sixteen Rachel insists she go to high school with people her age. Being homeschooled growing up, she'd never had the opportunity to interact with other children. Her fathers had decided it was for the best, that they were trying to protect her from what was out there. Rachel brushes aside this excuse, tells them firmly that they won't always be around to shield her from what's out there. So Hiram and Leroy give in to her request and move to a small town in Ohio, allowing Rachel a fresh start.
It isn't until she finds herself drenched in cherry slushie that she begins to understand her fathers' wish better.
Rachel's at her locker, fingers tracing the small bumps etched into the books so she can pick out the ones she'll need for the weekend. The teachers had all been surprised at her ability to pick up on their lesson plans, to excel and go further than the rest of her classmates. Apparently lacking the ability to see must equate to academic ineptitude. She's been at McKinley for a few months now and people have been indifferently polite, like they still aren't sure how to act around her. Of course there are whispers about how she's blind because she doesn't have a mother, that this is God's way of punishing her fathers for their life of sin, but really Rachel has learnt not to give Quinn Fabray the time of day.
Kurt Hummel, the boy the Guidance Office had tasked with showing her around, yells her name and Rachel immediately turns her head in response. When the stinging cold hits her square in the face she wants to scream, wants to cry.
'Freak,' a male voice says like that's justification enough. Laughter fills her ears and Rachel lifts a hand to wipe the ice off her face, only to feel the bank of lockers she's next to jolt violently.
'What the fuck is your problem Karofsky?' Someone growls.
'Rachel are you okay? I tried to warn you…' Kurt grasps her elbow and Rachel relaxes because Kurt is here now, and that means she's going to be okay. Kurt won't let something like this happen again.
'It's alright,' she tells him shakily and the sound of flesh hitting flesh reaches her. Kurt pulls her away from it. 'What's happening?'
'Puck!' Mr Schuester, her Spanish teacher calls out. The name niggles at the back of her head. Oh. Noah Puckerman. She's heard about him. Kurt told her that he had a mohawk, that he liked hauling Jacob Ben Israel up on the flagpole. He'd slept with Quinn and had given up his baby daughter.
'He's a bully with a conscience now,' Kurt informs her the days she asks who Puck is. 'And incredibly attractive when he's got a guitar in his hand and decides to serenade you.'
'This asshole just slushied her,' Puck tells Mr Schuester angrily.
'He did Mr Schue,' Kurt agrees and Rachel wonders if the black clothes she has on will stain.
'Are you okay Rachel?' Mr Schue asks and Rachel nods, says she just wants to get cleaned up. The cane she had at her feet isn't there and for a moment she panics, Kurt's grip on her suddenly constricting. She needs the cane to know where she's going, so she can move around without anyone to help her.
'Here,' Puck's low baritone echoes somewhere to her left. The familiar wooden cane, with the rubber star she had attached at the top, is pressed into her palm. Puck's touch is foreign and sends something skating up her arm.
'Thank you,' she whispers before he's lost somewhere in the darkness again as Kurt tugs her towards the ladies room, muttering about dressing her in some colour.
(She doesn't tell him it's the easiest colour to dress in when you can't see yourself in the mirror)
The next time she meets Puck, it's unexpected.
That cherry slushie she receives is the last and Rachel doesn't know whether its ironic that it takes her getting humiliated to show the rest of the school she's just like them. She gets paired up with a cheerleader named Santana Lopez for English the day after and is suddenly taken under the girl's wing.
'Not to sound rude Santana, but I barely know you,' Rachel remembers telling Santana bluntly as they walk down the halls, their arms looped together.
'Look when you first showed up no one knew what to do with you. You're like the only blind person I've ever known, period. But Kurt says you're kind of the shit in Glee and I guess that made me curious.'
'I'm not some kind of human exhibit.'
Santana scoffs. 'Trust me, I know that. So can we skip over the awkward after school special and just be, I don't know, discussing how we can make Juliet not sound like some kind of lame pushover? Because to me she's kind of an overdramatic little bitch.'
She's finally agreed to try out for Glee, knowing there was no way she could resist both Santana and Kurt. Rachel smiles a little, wishing she could actually bear witness to their faces when she performs for them for the first time.
See, being blind doesn't mean she's not talented. And if there's one thing Rachel Berry is extremely confident in, it's her voice. Before moving to Ohio, she'd performed at various functions for the synagogue and at Leroy's firm's Christmas parties. The applause she would hear, after loosing herself in words that can paint a world she can see for herself, makes her feel alive. That applause has been driving her, letting her forget that she's not just someone who can't see, allowing her to brush aside the label of being that poor blind girl because she was in fact something extraordinary.
'Rachel?' She recognizes the voice and her fingers still on the piano. She only hears one set of footsteps and Puck has this peculiar shuffle, she notes, filing that away for future reference. Kurt glides across the floor while Santana walks with determination. People who can see identify their friend's through seeing their faces. Rachel just does that with the way they move.
'Hello Noah,' she greets him neutrally. Aside from the brief slushie encounter, they haven't really interacted. But Rachel figures if she's willing to stick up for her, he must at least not think she's too weird.
'How can you play the piano if you can't see shit?' His question is blunt and for some reason makes Rachel smile wider. She doesn't know if he listens when he explains how each piano is laid out the same, how she's been taking piano lessons since she was four.
'S'cool,' he mumbles when she's done. His breathing changes, like he's about to say something more but then the rest of the Glee club filter in. He moves away and Rachel's disappointed for reasons beyond her comprehension.
Puck listens to Rachel sing On My Own from some musical and knock it out of the park. Schuester's looking at this girl like she's his ticket out of Lima, and Santana and Kurt look accomplished.
'She wasn't that great,' Quinn tells Finn and Puck rolls his eyes. Whatever. Quinn and him had been civil since Beth. While Puck saw the entire pregnancy as a wake up call, Quinn still seemed determined to be HBIC. It was weird seeing this girl, this woman really, regress back into the petty blonde she was before. A part of Puck wasn't surprised, but a larger part wondered how Quinn couldn't change.
Rachel becomes the lead female soloist in Glee and suddenly becomes a more frequent presence in his life.
Puck's been curious about Rachel since she first got here. He'd watched her walk around with that star bobbing along on the top of her walking stick, at first with Hummel and then these days with Santana at her side. Sometimes, when he knew no one was looking, he'd just watch her. He'd figure since she couldn't see him, there was no chance of him getting caught. Sometimes she would swing her head in his direction and her brow would wrinkle, like she knew he was being creepy.
Okay so he hadn't spoken to her because, well, what do you say to someone who was blind? Add in the fact she was a girl and Puck knew one way or another he would stick his foot in his fucking mouth no matter what. Best avoid getting on Lopez's bad side (again) and appreciate Rachel's tight little body from afar.
But now Schue's assigned him as Rachel's official dance partner (mostly because Finn's a complete klutz and he's pretty sure Quinn's bribed the New Directions chair somehow) and Puck can't get away from how Rachel she is.
The first time Schue has them work out the choreography, Rachel's not down with it. Puck can't blame her so he's trying to be patient and shit, which anyone can tell you isn't the easiest thing for him to do. Two hours in his temper starts to get the best of him.
'Berry, you have to chillax,' he hisses through his teeth when Rachel refuses to turn when he tells her to.
(He reverts to her surname to put a little distance between them, which becomes often when he suddenly finds her centerstage in his dreams)
'I'm sorry but this is difficult for me Noah,' she whispers right back and he can pick up the slight inflection in her tone.
'I'm not gonna, like, make you fall on your ass or anything.'
She relaxes a little at that. 'I know. But imagine never being able to open your eyes when you dance. It's scary and disconcerting. When I sing I'm stationary. This…' Rachel trails off and bites her lip. Her eyes are brown and unfocused. This had freaked him out until he realized she had really long eyelashes. Which led to him thinking her eyes looked like a Cadbury chocolate bar and espresso mixed together. Which meant he now liked looking at her eyes.
(If she's blind, he thinks to himself often, shouldn't they be white?)
'I've got some pretty badass guns babe. I'll catch you when you need me to,' he tells her sincerely. Rachel looks about as surprised as he is but gradually begins to relinquish her control over to him.
The next thing he knows Rachel's his friend. Not like a girl he fucks on the side and then gets high with. Rachel Berry is the furthest thing from Santana Lopez or any of those other girls and cougars he's been with. She genuinely seems okay that he swears too much and that he has an unhealthy attachment to violent video games. They hang out together in between classes and he lets her walk around with her tiny hand curled around his bicep.
'What are you going to do when you graduate?' Rachel asks him one day on the bleachers.
'Dunno. Whatever I guess. Can't disappoint anyone too much when everyone thinks you're a deadbeat.'
Rachel actually gasps and whacks him on the shoulder. The next thing he knows he's parked in front of a computer in the library, looking up scholarships and financial aid for songwriting courses.
(What? So Rachel knows he likes to pen words of lyrical awesomeness. She'd asked her to sing the song he'd been messing around with and he couldn't, like, tell her no)
She mutters under her breath about he's an idiot, about how he has all this untapped potential that she absolutely refuses to let go to waste. Something inside his chest squeezes at the fact that Rachel isn't forcing herself to say those things, that she actually believes them wholeheartedly.
That feeling begins to intensify and Puck doesn't know what to make of it. Now Rachel's hair looks like it has gold threads, her laugh is fucking adorable and he does stupid things to make her smile sometimes. Santana watches him but Puck tries to ignore her eyes and focuses on Rachel.
It isn't until they're at Rachel's house one weekend that things come to a head.
The Berry family live in a neat one-storey house with roses spilling out the front porch. The first time Puck goes over Leroy scares the shit out of him because the guy is huge. Hiram, on the other hand, positively adores him because his daughter does (Hiram's words, not his). He discovers that at home Rachel doesn't use her walking stick because the layout is familiar to her. One time she gets him a soda and its kind of hard not to be in awe when she casually takes a glass out of a cabinet and then a Coke from the fridge, dumps some ice inside and hands a nicely chilled beverage to him like it isn't a big deal.
'I do things like this everyday Noah,' she sounds irritated. 'I'm not incompetent. This is my home.'
So their watching some lame chick flick that Santana insisted they see, and considering Puck, Artie and Mike are outnumbered they let Kurt put in The Princess Diaries without complaint. Rachel's sitting next to him in an oversized shirt and tights, and Puck tells himself to ignore the thigh pressing against his jeans. The first half of the movie is spent listening to Santana's running commentary and Kurt's remarks about the wardrobe. Rachel excuses herself and Puck leans back in his seat, decides Anne Hathaway is pretty hot when she isn't talking about Genovan pears.
Rachel's cry of pain has him out of his seat and he finds her sprawled on the ground clutching her shin.
'Who moved the ottoman?' Rachel gasps out and Santana clucks her tongue.
'Shit I just wanted to make a little-'
'What the fuck Lopez. She could have died or something,' Puck barks out, hand cupping Rachel's elbow and the other resting over her leg.
'I'm sorry okay! It's not like I wanted her to hurt herself,' Santana shoots back and sounds kind of teary.
'Noah it was an accident,' Rachel assures him and Santana at the same time. The rest of the movie is spent in a tense, awkward silence that Rachel breaks when she tells Santana that they need to talk. Puck watches them head towards Rachel's room and Kurt watches Puck watch Rachel.
'Santana wouldn't do anything to Rachel,' Kurt tells him seriously and Puck fidgets.
'Yeah man, everyone knows not to mess with your girl,' Mike says as he claps Puck on the shoulder.
'She's not my girl,' Puck protests weakly when Santana glares at him as she comes back into the living room.
'Ray wants to talk to you asshole.'
Puck rolls his eyes but gives Santana a look, one that says he's sorry, and the Latina waves him on with a nod. Not before saying something low in his ear.
'Be careful with her Puckerman.'
Rachel's on the bed when he comes in, the afternoon sun hitting her in the face. She's got her eyes closed and turned towards the warmth, features serene.
'Come in Noah,' she says after a beat and Puck closes the door.
'How'd you know it was me?'
'Oh,' he replies, sinking down onto the bed beside her. Rachel turns to face him, tilts her head to the side.
'Can I see you?' She finally asks and Puck blinks at her like she's insane.
'What?' He says hoarsely. She wiggles her fingers in his face, narrowly missing his nose.
'It's only fair because you already know how I look like,' Rachel jokes and Puck doesn't think its funny at all.
He wants to say something witty and badass. 'Fine,' is what he manages instead.
Rachel stretches out her finger tentatively and Puck doesn't move to help her, knows that she'd rather do it on her own. He holds his breath when her skin comes into contact with his face, skates over his features tenderly. She traces the lids of his eyes, the arch of his eyebrows, the high bones of his cheek.
'Your head's scratchy,' she giggles when her fingers pull against the short bristles of his mohawk. 'Your haircut even feels ridiculous.'
Puck snorts, let's her continue her exploration.
'You have a mole,' Rachel's voice gets soft as her touch lingers near his mouth. Puck's heart speeds up and he notices Rachel has a beauty mark on her cheek as well. She traces his lips and his heartbeat accelerates and he wonders if she can hear it. Rachel leans in and he holds her wrists, jerks away.
'What are you doing?'
'I was going to kiss you,' she tells him matter-of-factly. Puck gapes.
'The fuck for?'
'Because I want to. And because I know you want me to as well.'
He can't argue with that logic because now all he can think about is what Rachel tastes like. Puck places her hands back on his face and grips the back of her neck, rubs a soothing circle on the top of her spine. Everything around fades away as he bumps his nose against hers, gives her time to pull away if she wants to. Instead she presses her lips clumsily against his own.
'Sorry,' she mumbles, embarrassed as she turns away. Puck doesn't let her, feathers his fingers across her cheeks and slants his mouth over hers gently, sweetly. She's like a wine that needs to be sampled, something that's been sitting there to mature and age until the time was right to get a taste.
He nips at her bottom lip, feels her mould gently against his upper one. His tongue traces the outline of her lips and Rachel's hands are on his shoulders now, hold light and hesitant. She can feel his large palm stroking up her side, settling at her waits to pull her closer as he nudges against her lips.
She grants him access tentatively. Rachel's never kissed a boy before and Noah's incredibly strong under her fingertips, the quiet strength that she has found so comforting these past few months. His voice never failed to make her stomach dance, and she was sure if he spoke in a crowd of a thousand she could pick him out without fail.
His tongue kind of strokes hers, glides and curls before flicking the inside of her cheek. She lets out a moan, something breathy and uncontained, and Puck's grip on her tightens in response. Rachel lets her hands rest against his back, fascinated as they undulate underneath her palms when she feels his knee against the juncture of her thighs.
'Fuck Rach,' he groans when they come up for air, Puck resting his forehead against hers.
'Was I not good enough? I'm not sure if they sell a book on kissing techniques in Braille-'
'Shut up,' he tells her, teasing. 'Just…never thought you'd want to make out with someone like me.
'Well,' she counters lightly, playing with his hair. 'I suppose I could say the same thing to you. I've heard what people say about me-'
'Fuck that noise,' he cuts her off, presses his knee firmly into her core and eliciting a sharp hitch of breath from Rachel. 'Sometimes I think you see things that all of us can't see.'
'So it doesn't bother you that I'm blind?'
'No,' he shakes his head, bites his tongue when Rachel rubs against his knee and presses her fingernails into his back. 'Swear to cow I don't even notice it. You're just Rachel.'
'Really?' She's beaming at him like he's handed her a Tony. Puck shifts them so he's got her pressed onto the mattress underneath him, leans himself on his elbows to look down at her. Her eyes jump, never really looking at him, but Puck thinks there's no one who has seen him more clearly.
'Can we make out some more?'
Rachel giggles at his request and nods.
He presses his lips to hers and Rachel's a bit more confident now, hums into his mouth as she runs her foot up the back of his calf. He rests a knee in the middle of her legs, holds her hips to push down against the denim because he likes that little moan she made before. Rachel wraps her legs around him, pushes up against the front of his pants. He runs his hand along her knee and finds a spot behind it that makes her arch against him.
'You like that huh?' He grunts out when she kisses his jaw, small open-mouthed smacks that are slowly driving him insane.
Puck thinks the day Rachel let him lead her during a glee number is the day he handed over a part of himself for her to direct.
A pounding at the door breaks them apart.
'You better not be defiling her when I'm in the next fucking room jackass!' Santana's voice filters through the door. Puck groans into the spot next to Rachel's head, Rachel's hands fluttering to the small of his back.
'Come on Noah,' Rachel laughs. 'We can do this later.'
'Yeah?' He doesn't care how hopeful he sounds.
'Of course. But only after you've taken me to dinner. I'm not some floozy.'
'Damn straight,' he agrees with her. 'Let's just…wait a minute.'
Rachel smiles wickedly as she wraps her legs a bit tighter around him before letting them fall onto the bed.
'Shit you're evil.'
'I'm a teenage girl who knows what she wants. That's an entirely different thing,' she informs him primly, brushing hair off her face.
They walk into the living room and Puck immediately pulls Rachel into his lap, ignores the knowing smirk Mike throws his way and the shocked expression on Kurt's face.
'Urgh. This is gonna become a thing now, isn't it?' Santana gripes though she looks somewhat satisfied.
'Noah and I have mutually decided to embark on a romantic endeavour, yes,' Rachel says.
'She's mine now,' Puck answers, holding Rachel tighter.
'I'm not a possession Noah!' Rachel protests.
'Might as well have Property of Puck tattooed across your ass Ray,' Santana pats her consolingly on the arm. 'But if he ever fucks you over, know that I'll cut his dick off with a rusty knife just for you,' the Latina continued meaningfully.
Yeah, he kind of expected that.
'Don't worry San. Noah's always done his best when it comes to things that he cares about,' Rachel tells the dark-haired girl.
Puck couldn't have said it better himself.