Written for the npm_exchange community on livejournal, based off of Mary Elizabeth Coleridge's 'The Moment'. S2 compatible-thus-far. Lyric and title from Colbie Caillat's 'Realize'.

Disclaimer: I don't own 'Glee'. Would that I did.

Realize


He finds her holding his guitar.

When he first spotted that his guitar wasn't left lying in his open case when he went to the john, he was ready for some hardcore Puck-fu upon whoever stole Jolene. That was just the kind of badass he was.

But it was Quinn holding it. And that changed things.

She looked up when he entered the room.

"I know you mind. But if you could just not mind for a little longer..."

"Nah, I really don't mind." He grinned. "Never minded you holding my things."

Her head ducked low over the guitar again, fingers of the left hand tight against the bridge. He sat down beside her.

"...And now you're Finn's girl again, and Finn's girl doesn't respond to that. Al-right then."

Her grip on the pick was clumsy.

"The man who's man enough for Zises knows better than to say things like that," She replied, looking up at him for the first time.

"Hey, she is cool with me speaking to other people. Other girl-people." He could see her mouth shift slightly before she extended the guitar out to him.

"Well, Finn would not 'be cool' with my speaking to you." Puck crossed his arms.

"Maybe not. But that doesn't mean you can just stop."

"Excuse me?"

"Your practicing." He scooted his chair closer to her. "You're tucking your pinky under, and that's not gonna work for you."

"It's working-"

"It's working now. But when you're going to be trying to play a harder song, you're going to be all, 'Damn you, untrained pinky!' Bring it out." Her hand unfurled against the wood.

He felt himself smile when he saw her own—the corners of her mouth were the third softest part of her body.

"So you've got more to teach me?" That smile became a grin despite himself. And despite the ever present notion that Zises can hurt him in forty ways in thirty seconds.

"Sure do, Fabray." With that corny line, she stands up, and leaves his guitar behind. He plays a long time, that night, and thinks of the smile he saw her wear out the door.


But he does have more to teach her. He decides to start a few nights later. She's got her own guitar this time around.

Quinn's guitar is a cheap thing—Lima may have an abundance of talented singers, but musical instrument shops that cater to them are few. If she doesn't love it yet, she's at the very least dedicated to it, determined to make her fingers move as fluidly as her hips once did in her uniform.

Puck thought he would miss the uniforms more than he does. Quinn, Brittany and Santana are still smoking hot besides.

But he can tells Quinn misses it. She hasn't worn pants once all semester.

He shouldn't really be noticing it as much as he does, but the way her guitar is resting on her lap pushes her skirt up slightly. And her focus is on her instrument, not her looks.

She never did need to focus on those, come to think of it.

He's focusing on them too much—he's helping, though, encouraging her to pick the notes now. Pick them, and strum them later. She sends him a dirty look after that one—and her playing shifts into something closer to natural.

"Now how on earth is that happening," She murmurs, maintaining the eye contact.

"Looking at your guitar all the time's a rookie mistake. You look for the mistakes you're making, you find them. You don't look, you won't."

"That's pretty deep, coming from you."

"Puckerman's all about the depth." She lays the guitar down on her lap for a moment, and looks down at it now.

She's having one of those moments like all those months ago—he remembers the night, he remembers her thighs and her fingernails, but before all that he remembers the way she picked up that cooler like it was a Bowie knife.

"Is this some weird 'I'm with Finn and I miss Sam' thing? Because honestly, the guitar's too cool for that-"

"I started learning from him. Yes." She leans over for her case. "But only little things over his shoulder. But let's face it, with Schue all gung-ho for nationals there's no chance that I'm going to get a solo any time soon. So I wanted to be more.."

"Useful?"

She rests the guitar in the old red velvet.

"I was going to say diverse." Her smile is thin as the rest of her. "But you're right. I would like to be useful."

"I thought you just wanted to be prom queen." The shift in her features reveals that he might've landed a blow he didn't even mean to throw.

He looks away first. "I think you'll be a good prom queen." She looks away, arms crossed over her chest.

"And I think you're already useful." He stands now, feeling awkward in his chair.

She follows suit, follows the confusion that's on her face. "As what, an incubator?"

He's putting on his jacket. "No, not as an incubator. You were the best cheerleader-"

"And I threw it away because I couldn't let Brittany get shot out of a cannon."

"Dude, nobody should be shot out of cannons!"

"And nobody's future should be shot out of cannons!" The two of them are standing now, and the light of the sunset is coming through the windows. The red light surrounds her, makes her lips look dark as her voice.

"I was the best cheerleader on the squad! I could've gotten scholarships, Puck! I could've still gotten out and now-" He reaches and grabs her wrist as it moves from where she'd wiped furiously at her eyes.
"Quinn." She looks up at him—the tension's all through her body.

"I don't know why nobody tells you this. Seriously, I don't. But you are going to get out of here. If you want to, you are."

She stays in his grip, and she's suddenly capital Q-Quinn Fabray again, captain of the squad. She steps closer, and he can smell vanilla.

"And what makes you so sure about that." He might only be Noah Puckerman but she's looking at him again.

"You always do." The sunset's filled the room, and the two of them were very still.

Her other hand reaches to uncurl his grip.

"I don't, you know." Her voice is quiet and sad. "Always do what I want."

He leaned forward, and kissed her forehead.

"Only over wine coolers?" Her smile is somewhere between chiding and relieved. Puck feels a heat in his chest. Cheeks too. There's definitely a heat in her own.

"Too soon?"

"Too soon."

"Ah, well. You are going to make it out, Fabray." The two of them leave the choir room together.

"How do you think I'm going to make it out?"

"Well you're smart. You can get into a school somewhere. And then you're going to go on exchange, I think. Europe."

"I wouldn't mind that."

"Course you wouldn't. And then you're going to be a guitar master there, and teach the next-next Hendrix."

"Hold on, teach? And why the next-next?"

"Well, yeah. You're not going to be a Europop sensation forever. I'd say for three and a half years." She laughs, and the two stand at the doors of McKinley.

"And the next-next Hendrix?"

Puck leans in as close as he can dare, and he sees her eyes close and her head tilt down.

"'Cause the first next Hendrix is me, baby." She looks back up, and laughs in the depths of her throat.

He needs to get out of here. He starts heading off towards his car, but he walks backwards to send her the look of his despair. "Aww, you don't believe me?"

"No!" He puts a hand to his chest as he hurries. Not again, not again, not again.

"No, I mean, no, I do!" With the parking lot between them, he tilts his head up and opens his car door. She's standing on tiptoes to crane and see him better.

"Puck?"

"Yeah Quinn!"

"Will you teach me more guitar?" He smiles, shrugs, and gets into the car. There's not much sunset left to drive off into. But he takes it, and keeps one eye in the rear view mirror the whole way home.


Next week in Glee Club, she plays her own guitar while she sings.

"But I can't spell it out for you, no, it's never going to be that simple..." Her eyes sweep up to his before smoothly shifting over to Finn's.

He's not going to say a word about their lessons.
But he'll clap louder than them all.