Rachel stared at the clock on her nightstand. It was 2 a.m. and she was wide awake. Prom was over by now, he'd likely moved onto the after party at Mike's house. She wondered if he had fun with Lauren. She wondered if he'd spiked the punch. She wondered if he danced with anyone. She wondered if he'd kissed anyone. She screwed her eyes shut tight at that thought, a single tear falling down her cheek and splashing onto the pillow.

She rolled over, trying to see if a different position would help her finally fall asleep. She'd been in bed for four hours but she was still wide awake. She just couldn't seem to quiet her mind. It didn't take her long to realize that turning over wasn't going to help anything when she saw the garment bag hanging on the back of her closet door.

She couldn't help but picture the gold dress inside, the way it fit her perfectly, the way Noah's eyes had lit up when she'd modeled it for him. She could still remember the feel of his hands sliding along the silk material at her hip as he'd peeled it off of her.

She groaned and sat up, knowing that it was highly unlikely she'd get to sleep anytime soon. Turning her back on the dress and the memories that went along with it, she made her way down the stairs, navigating through the dark house without bothering to turn on any lights. When she got to the kitchen she grabbed a glass from the drying rack by the sink and opened the freezer for some ice when she stopped, spying the carton of her Daddy's favorite ice cream. She bit her lip and pulled the carton out, staring at it. It wasn't dairy free and it certainly wasn't fat free but it was exactly what she needed at the moment.

She dug in the drawer for a nice big spoon and peeled the lid off. Just as she was about to take her first bite a sound from outside made her freeze and drop the spoon. Her heart thudded in her chest as she set the ice cream on the counter and walked to the foyer. She heard a thump and then the sound of breaking glass and she jumped, terrified. Her father's weren't home, out of town on a business trip, she was completely alone in the house and her cell phone was sitting next to her bed upstairs.

Rachel backed away from the door when suddenly someone pounded on the door frantically. That gave her pause and she stopped in her tracks. Burglars and murders probably wouldn't knock, so she slowly made her way to the door and looked through the peephole. She sighed, taking a deep breath and unlocking the deadbolt before she pulled the door open.

"Noah?" Rachel squinted and opened the door wider. "What are you doing here?"

"You're a fucking bitch, you know that?" Puck asked, grabbing onto the edge of the door frame in an effort to keep himself upright. There was broken glass littering the porch. It looked like pieces of the green planter that they used to hide the spare key under, until Puck had told her she needed to find a better place for it. Puck's hand slid off the door frame causing him to stumble and she sighed. He was drunk.

"Please tell me you didn't drive here." She looked around, her shoulders slumping in relief when she didn't see his truck anywhere.

"Someone dropped me off," he shook his head and pushed past her into the house.

"Please come on in," Rachel mumbled under her breath and closed the door. Only when she turned around he wasn't behind her. He wasn't in the living room either and she closed her eyes when she heard a thump come from her bedroom. She walked up the stairs and saw him standing in front of her dresser, holding the picture of the two of them at the lake last summer.

"You ruined everything," he said, staring at the picture. "I had a plan." He turned around and scoffed. "No fuck that, I had plans, plural. Me, Noah fucking Puckerman had plans. We were going to go to Prom together, remember? You were so excited you bought your fucking dress last year, it's been hanging on the back of your closet door since like January." He cut his eyes to the garment bag and dropped the picture to the ground. "I was gonna do it right – dinner at Breadstix, a limo. We were even going to take that stupid fucking picture so one day we could show our kids—" he stopped himself. "And then there'd be Graduation and we'd have the whole fucking summer, just me and you and then it would be the two of us in New York," he turned around to face her and glared. "And you fucking ruined everything."

"I know," Rachel said, her voice low and shaky.

"I hate you," Puck breathed out, taking a step closer to her.

"I know," Rachel said again and he shook his head in frustration, stepping even closer until he was right in front of her.

"No, you don't." he said desperately. "I fucking hate you," he swallowed heavily,

"Noah, I kno—" Rachel started but he cut her off.

"I hate you because no matter how hard I try not to, I still fucking love you."

Rachel sucked in her breath, choking on the air as she closed her eyes. "I think you should go now." He turned to the door but he reached out and grabbed her wrist, pulling her back up against him and crashing his lips to here. It was messy and far from perfect, his jaw was clenched and his teeth bit angrily at her bottom lip but she didn't care. She drank it in, took it all as his fingers dug into her hips, pushing her up against the wall.

"I miss you," he whispered harshly against her mouth and then bit her lip again. "I miss you all the time. Fucking hate how much I miss you," he said, backing her up until she was pinned between him and her bedroom door. He pulled his lips from hers and trailed kisses down her neck. "I hate you," he whispered again, his teeth grazing along her collar bone. "Fucking hate you so much," he said and then rested his forehead on her shoulder. "I hate you," he panted again and again but now the anger was gone and all that was left was Noah.

Rachel brought her hand up to the back of his head, running her fingers softly through his hair, "I know, I know, I know," she repeated, tears falling down her cheeks as she clutched at his neck.

He shoved himself away suddenly and turned his back to her. Rachel could tell that he was trying to get his breathing back under control. He ran a hand over his face a few times before stilling, his eye catching on something perched on the edge of her desk. He took two steps forward and picked up the red notebook, his knuckles white he was clutching it so tightly as he read the cover - How to be Noah's Girlfriend – A Handy Guide by Rachel Barbara Berry*. His jaw clenched and he spun back around to face Rachel. "I'm taking this," he said suddenly, "You don't get to have this anymore."

"Okay," Rachel whispered and nodded. He stared at her for a second before walking out of her room, slamming the door behind him.

She winced when she heard the front door slam and she slid down the wall, collapsing to the ground as her whole body shook with sobs. She hadn't actually let herself cry yet and she didn't realize until this moment how much she'd been holding in. She cried until she just physically couldn't anymore and then she was just sitting there, staring at the garment bag. It was mocking her.

She pushed herself to her feet suddenly and walked over to the closet, tearing it down and storming out of the room. She practically took the steps two at a time throwing the garage door open and stuffing the garment bag into the trash can. She felt herself breathe a bit easier then noticed the empty file boxes stacked up in the corner. She grabbed one of them, went back up to her room and stood in the middle of the floor looking around.

Rachel picked the picture Puck had dropped off the ground and dumped it in into the box. Then she moved onto her vanity, pulling the ticket stub for Sherlock Holmes off of her mirror and tossing it on top of the picture. She went around the whole room, throwing anything and everything Puck had ever touched or given her into the box. In went the football jersey with his number on it that he'd given her and the worn Led Zeppelin t-shirt she'd stolen from him. Then she dug through the music on her stand until she found Need You Now and Sweet Caroline, stuffing them in next to the shirts. There was the bracelet that he bought her for Hanukah, the earrings he gave her for her birthday.

She added the baseball cap he'd dropped on her head when they made it to the state championships last summer. It was smelly and drenched with sweat but he was so excited she didn't care, and she wore it every day after that until school started because he said she looked hot. She paused for just a second then grabbed the giant purple monkey from her bed before stuffing it into the box. She walked down the hall and shoved it on the top shelf of the closet in the guest room before going back to her own room and sitting on her bed.

She knew that she was to blame, that she created this situation but it was still hard to understand how she'd gotten here, to this place, crying her eyes out, alone on prom night. Last year at this time, she and Noah were happy, they were in the beginning stage of falling in love when everything is great and nothing else matters. Now he hated her; he had every right to and she certainly wasn't going to begrudge him that, not after everything she'd done.

Rachel turned and opened her bedside drawer. She pulled out a small red notebook and a pen, took a deep breath and then wrote How to be Noah's Ex-Girlfriend – A Survival Guide by Rachel Barbara Berry* on the cover. She flipped it open to the first page and started writing.

Get rid of everything that he ever gave you, everything that reminds you of him. Clean him out of your room and it will be easier to clean him out of your life.

She thought about what had happened the past two weeks and kept going.

When you see him in the hallway, turn and walk in the other direction.

Avoid being alone with him whenever possible.

She set the notebook on her bedside table and turned off the lamp, thinking maybe she'd be able to sleep but it wouldn't come. She could still feel his lips on hers, feel his teeth grazing her collarbone and she sat up, turning the lamp back on and grabbing the notebook. She flipped it open and starting writing again.

Stop kissing him.

She underlined this one about five times before biting her bottom lip and writing a bit more hesitantly this time.

Stop loving him.

Finally satisfied she slipped put the book away and closed her eyes, trying not to think about how he got into this mess in the first place, reminding herself that she was doing this for his own good.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

It Started Three Weeks AgoAgo…

"Noah," Rachel said and it was the warning tone in her voice that stopped him, froze him actually. He pulled his lips away from her neck and looked down at their position. She was lying under him on his bed. They were still on top of the covers, technically. He hadn't actually made the bed this morning but they weren't under the covers. Her shirt was still buttoned, her skirt was still on and neither of his hands were under either article of clothing.

"I'm not breaking any rules," he panted, confused. The rules had been Rachel's idea but he had to admit they worked so he followed them. On school nights, at their respective homes, with his mother and sister or her father's in the house, making out was allowed provided that they not venture under the covers, that neither party remove any article of clothing (except for shoes) and that all groping stay strictly above the clothes. It wasn't that Rachel was being uptight about sex. Oh, they had sex, they had sex a lot, like a lot-a lot, like legit after that fateful day at the beginning of last summer when they were chilling out on the bed of his truck by the lake and she'd straddled him and said she was ready. Hell, since then, they'd been going at it like freakin' bunnies.

Apparently once Rachel had gotten that first time out of her system, there was no turning back and she wanted it all the time. Which he wasn't fucking complaining about, not one bit. They did it everywhere, at anytime that whole summer – on her kitchen counter, on his kitchen counter, in her pool, in the shower, in the dugout at the baseball field, his truck, her car, once in the bathroom at Breadstix and somehow four times in the front hall closet at Mike's house. Seriously, the closet was freaking huge and Mike threw pretty much every party that summer and if you get a few drinks in Rachel, she gets pretty handsy.

Needless to say, the school year started up again but their libidos didn't really cool down any and when Rachel had gotten her first progress report and realized she was pulling straight B's and one C, she'd laid down the law. Sex only on the weekends, rules for fooling around on the weeknights and Puck only got fifteen minutes after lunch at school, what he chose to do with it was up to him. It had worked pretty well so far and had the added bonus of also bringing up his grades, which was just another thing his mom thanked Rachel for at every opportunity.

"I know you're not." Rachel said, lifting herself up on her elbows and cocking a head at the door.

Puck paused and listened, the faint strands of lame ass music floating up the stairs and he closed his eyes and groaned. "I'll be right back," he said pecking her quickly on the lips and throwing the door open, screaming down the steps as he took them two at a time. "You know the fucking rules Dani, no fucking Twilight until you finish your homework, Jesus Christ is like you want me to break the DVD in half, again."

"No!" Dani screamed and Rachel heard the television shut off. She waited for a minute but when Puck didn't come back, she sighed and sat up, straightening her clothes. That was when she noticed the state of his room for the first time. She shook her head and got off the bed to make it, then moved on, sorting his clothes into clean and dirty piles based on what she'd seen him wear the past few weeks, all of them were pretty much dirty, before she turned to his desk to straighten that up.

She was sorting through his notes, separating sheet music from biology worksheets when she saw the envelope, poking out from the bottom of the stack. The Ohio State logo was clearly visible in the top corner and she grabbed it, unable to contain her curiosity. It was already open so technically what she was doing was a felony, just sort of wrong but she'd pulled the paper out quickly before she had a chance to change her mind.

She read it twice before it actually sunk in and she felt her chest bloom with happiness and unmistakable pride as she read the words. Full athletic scholarship, four years, accepted. She checked the date at the top and frowned, it had been sent over two months ago, he'd known about this for two months and he hadn't said anything to her.

She tried not to overreact, took a few deep breaths to calm herself, thinking maybe he wanted to surprise her, maybe he was going to take her out for a nice dinner and tell her then. She shoved the letter back in its envelope and stuck it back under the papers on his desk before grabbing her bag and pulling out her own homework. This was his news and she would let him tell her in his own time.

He came back in the room twenty minutes later, "Sorry, Dani was having some trouble with math."

"And you helped her?" Rachel teased him.

"Hey, I had a good tutor," he pointed out, crawling across the bed to give her a soft kiss.

"Have you heard from any colleges?" Rachel asked when he pulled away, cringing slightly. So much for letting him tell her in his own time.

"Actually," he smiled. "I have. I was kind of waiting to tell you. I wanted to have everything sorted out first but—" he jumped off the bed and she smiled as he walked over to the desk. She waited for him to grab the OSU envelope out from under the other papers but he bent down instead and pulled something out his bag. "Here," he handed the new envelope to her and sat down on the bed.

Rachel stared at the front, an unfamiliar logo in the top left corner, the return address proclaiming the letter was from Queens College, City University of New York. "Queens College?" Rachel asked him, confused. She vaguely remembered hearing the name before somewhere.

"Yeah, they're out in Queens, obviously, and it's like an hour from Manhattan and I'd have to take a bus and two trains to get to you but it's in New York. And they're giving me a scholarship," Puck said and Rachel looked down to read the letter.

"A partial one," she told him and squinted. "A really partial one," she looked up at him.

"I can figure out the rest," he shrugged.

She looked back down at the letter. "For baseball?"

"They're only Division II and they're not guaranteeing I'll start but it's something right?" Puck asked her hopefully. "I mean they didn't exactly rank last year but they were like 8th in their conference in '09."

"Right," Rachel nodded slowly. She didn't know much about sports but she was pretty sure being 8th in their conference four years ago didn't really compare to a team that had 9 undefeated seasons, won 7 National Championships and 35 Big Ten Conference Championships, she wasn't exactly sure what that meant, it's just her fathers had been telling her that her whole life and she got the feeling that it was pretty good.

She looked up at him to ask, but what about Ohio and she couldn't, the look on his face was so nervous, so worried and yet at the same time excited and hopeful that she leaned forward and kissed him. "I'm so proud of you, Noah." And it wasn't a lie, she really was, just probably not in the way he thought.

"It's gonna be so great," he said, lying down on the bed and pulling her with him. "The two of us in the city together. We can chill out in Central Park on the weekends when the weather's nice and maybe I'll even take you to a show or something on your birthday,"

"Hmmm," Rachel said noncommittally. The more he talked about their future, together, in New York, the more she got a sinking feeling that he wasn't even going to tell her about Ohio State because he wasn't even considering Ohio State. She had a feeling that she was the reason and she wasn't sure how she felt about that.

She went home early that night, telling Noah that she had a big test in the morning and she really needed her rest. In truth, she stayed up until 2 in the morning doing research, comparing Queens College to OSU, academically and financially and no matter how much she would have loved to have him New York with her, Ohio State was superior to Queens College in every way except one: proximity to her.

She tried to change his mind, subtly at first, talking about it at lunch with the other gleeks. Quinn, Finn, Mike and Artie had all been accepted to OSU. She expounded on how great it was going to be for all of them, going into college with a group of your closest friends, how much easier financially it would be between in-state tuition and being able to come home on the weekends but Noah didn't seem to care about any of those things.

She tried commenting on the high crime rate in New York, which just made him ask her if she as nervous to be moving to the big city and then assuring her she'd be fine because she was with him. She tried pointing out that Dani would probably start dating, like really dating, soon and asked him how he was going to properly terrify her potential boyfriends all the way from New York and he'd laughed and said his badassness traveled across state lines and he'd figured he would bring her to school on the first day and sufficiently scare any of the guys off her with the power of his guns.

She tried everything she could think of but he hadn't uttered a single word about OSU or his scholarship he just kept talking about how awesome New York was gonna be and how the two of them were gonna take the town by the balls and make it their bitch and she finally realized what she had to do. Break up with him. Then he wouldn't have a reason to go to New York and he could take the scholarship to OSU and everyone would be happy. Well everyone but her and that was ok, because life was all about sacrifice and it really was the best thing for Noah.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

They'd been broken up for four days, four of the longest days of her life. They were together for a little over a year but apparently all it had taken for him to move on was four days. She knew it was coming, she had to have. This was Puck after all. She just wasn't expecting it so soon and she certainly wasn't expecting it to be right in her face. She'd been heading to her locker and there he was. Pulled tightly up against his chest was a blonde Cheerio, a sophomore whose name Rachel had never bothered to learn. One of his hands was tangled in her hair, the other inching it's way up her thigh, his fingers tracing the edge of the red bloomers under her Cheerio uniform. He was practically devouring her, their lips never parting for even a second.

She couldn't breathe, she couldn't move. She felt like she was going to pass out, she knew she was going to be sick. She stood there in the middle of the hallway, staring at the two of them unable to look away and suddenly his eyes opened and stared straight at her.

He didn't break the kiss, didn't look away, just stared, his eyes boring a hole into her and she sucked in a breath. He was doing it on purpose. It was so obvious when she thought it about it, of course he was doing it on purpose. They'd dated for over a year, it was no coincidence that he chose the locker two down from hers for this impromptu make out session. He wanted her to see this, wanted to hurt her. And he'd succeeded.

But she took a step forward, and then another until she was at her locker. She could feel his eyes still on her as she spun the lock with shaky hands and flung the door open, hurriedly grabbing the books that she needed. She grabbed the door to shut it when she heard him moan, loudly and she felt her lunch threatening to crawl up her throat. "God babe, you feel so good," she heard him whisper and though she knew she deserved it, it was still too much for her to handle. She slammed the locker shut and hurried down the hall.

Puck watched as Rachel practically ran down the hall and around the corner. The blonde licked up his earlobe and he winced, he fucking hated that. She moved back to his mouth and moaned, "Noah," against his lips and he suddenly felt sick to his stomach. Before he even knew he was doing it, he'd shoved her away hard, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.

"Don't fucking call me that," he said.

"Whatever," the blonde said, flipping her hair over her shoulder and walking away from him.

He closed his eyes and banged his head against the lockers. He thought that it would make him feel better, making out with a random Cheerio right in front of Rachel's locker, right in front of Rachel. He wanted to hurt her, hurt her like she'd hurt him. And he had. He'd seen it in her eyes, could practically see her heart breaking right in front of his eyes. Which didn't make any fucking sense because she broke up with him, so where does she get off being hurt?

"You need to fucking stop this," a voice said calmly and far too close to his ear. He opened his eyes to see Sam standing over him.

"I need to stop what?" Puck scoffed, pushing himself away from the lockers and shoving Sam out of his personal space at the same time.

"Whatever this game is you're playing with Rachel."

"There's no game," Puck told him.

"Then what do you call practically fucking a cheerleader against her locker?" Sam took a step toward him.

"Fun," Puck smirked and Sam reared back and punched him in the jaw.

Puck's head flew to right and grabbed his knees, spitting a bit of blood out onto the floor. He stood up and looked at Sam. "I'm gonna give you that one." Puck said. "Cause Rachel's your friend and I get that you think I broke her heart and I'm the bad guy in this situation."

"Because you are," Sam said with his fists clenched.

"If that's what makes you feel better," Puck said turning around and walking away.

"Sam," Mike stepped up beside him. "Leave him alone."

"He-"

"She dumped him." Mike said.

Sam stared at Mike confused. "No, no that's not possible," Sam shook his head.

"I was there, dude, she did it at my house, came in screaming at him about not picking her up from dance and not answering his phone then said a whole bunch of other shit that basically ended with her saying she didn't need him weighing her down in New York so they should just end it. It was pretty fucking brutal actually. And I know it looks like he doesn't care, but he barely holding it together. The guy's a fucking mess so just back off."

"I…I didn't know," Sam sighed and hurried in the direction he'd seen Puck go in. "Hey, Puckerman," he called out when he got to the parking lot and saw Puck at his truck. He didn't stop so Sam ran over to him. "I'm sorry, man," Sam said, grabbing the driver's side door to keep Puck from closing it. "I didn't know." Puck didn't say anything, just stared. "She doesn't talk about it, she just cries all the fucking time and you're the only person I have to blame for that."

"I get it, dude," Puck sighed.

"I don't understand though," Sam said. "If she's so upset, why did she break up with you in the first place?"

"If you find out, let me know." Puck grabbed the door and pulled it shut, starting up the car and driving off.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Temple was the last place that Rachel wanted to be. The service itself wasn't so bad, it actually made her feel a bit better, which is why she'd come in the first place. It was what happened after service that she forgot about. Her dads were in a very intense conversation with Daddy's business partner and Rachel had literally talked to everyone else she could think of just to make herself look busy, even Jacob which hadn't been so bad because his mother was right there, but now there was no else to talk to so she had no reason not to answer when Dani screamed her name from across the room.

She turned, hoping that the girl was by herself but Rachel couldn't be that lucky,.Ms. Puckerman was standing right next to her talking to the Grossmans. At least Noah hadn't come this week. She put on her biggest stage smile and walked over. It faltered just a bit when Dani flung her arms around Rachel's middle and held on tightly.

"You weren't at dance this week," Dani said, frowning up at her.

"I've been feeling a bit under the weather," Rachel offered, which was a polite way of saying that she hadn't had the energy to pull herself out bed after crying for hours.

"Yes, well you know Prom is coming up," Ms. Puckerman said, her voice suddenly louder now and Rachel just knew it was because she wanted Rachel to hear her. "Noah's going with a lovely girl, Lauren. He's so excited, has his tux all picked out."

"Wait, Noah's going to prom with Lauren?" Dani looked between her mom and Rachel, confused. "Why isn't he going with you?"

"Dani…" Rachel started but Ms. Puckerman chose that moment to turn around.

"Rachel, I didn't see you there. So are you excited about Prom? Who are you going with?" Ms. Puckerman leveled her with a glare and if Rachel wasn't sure before, she knew now that Puck had told her everything.

"I'm…I'm not going actually," Rachel said.

"Oh honey, that's too bad." Aviva patted her hand but it was clear that she wasn't too upset over it.

"Why aren't you going to prom with my brother? What did he do?" Dani asked.

"We really should be going, Dani." Aviva grabbed her daughters hand and started to pull her away, only to stop and turn back around. "Rachel, I've been thinking and seeing as you and Noah are no longer together, I think it would be best for everyone involved if I were to go back to picking Dani up from dance class."

"Oh," Rachel said, swallowing hard. She hadn't even thought of that, hadn't realize until this moment that she would lose Dani too. "Yes, of course. I understand."

"Good," Aviva nodded and walked away.

"Rachel and Noah broke up?" Dani said. "What happened? Why can't she bring me home from dance anymore? I don't understand!"

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

It took two whole days but Rachel wasn't surprised at all when she opened her door and found Dani standing on her front porch one night. She pushed past Rachel into the house and flopped dramatically on the living room couch. "So what did my stupid brother do? He won't tell me anything, he says it's none of my business. I mean it couldn't have been that bad, right? You guys are going to fix this and get back together aren't you?"

"Dani," Rachel sighed and sat next to the girl. "We're not going to fix this, there's nothing to fix. We're just…not together anymore."

"But why?" Dani sat up. "I don't understand. You guys loved each other."

"It's not that simple." Rachel sighed.

"It is that simple. Look, Noah can be an idiot and he says and does a lot of stupid stuff, like all the time, but you knew that so whatever he did or said he's sorry."

"He didn't do anything. I broke up with him," Rachel told her.

"Why?" Dani asked.

Rachel closed her eyes thinking back to the fight that broke them up.

"Look, I didn't know I was supposed to pick you up, okay? It's not the end of the freaking world. Stop being such a drama queen." Noah at her.

"I'm not being a drama queen," Rachel said. "And it's not just about forgetting to pick me up. It's everything. It's the fact that I do everything for you, Noah. I have a three-hundred page notebook filled with all the things I do for you and you do nothing for me."

"I do nothing for you?" Puck took a step back.

"Yes, in fact the only thing you've done for me is drag me down." Rachel snapped him. "Ever since we've been together it's like I've lost track of what I've wanted. I've let my dream be pushed to the side for you."

"Pushed to the side? Are you fucking serious with this shit?" Puck asked her. "I hardly ever see you because you're either at a dance class or a vocal lesson or preparing for this audition or that audition..."

"That's a part of my dream, Noah, and if you can't handle that—"

"Hold on, I didn't fucking say that," Puck held out a hand.

"—then maybe you don't understand me and if you don't understand me then how can possibly hope to make this thing work."

"Stop putting words in my mouth," Puck said, wondering how this spiraled out of control so quickly.

"No, I think this is for the best. Next year I'm going to be even more focused on my career and I won't have time for things like boyfriends." Rachel turned and walked away.

"Wait, Rachel, just stop," Puck grabbed her arm and spun her around.

"I can't keep carrying you, Noah. At some point, I have to think about what's best for me." She pulled her arm from his grip and walked away.

It was the hardest thing she'd ever had to say and she didn't mean a single word of it. The last thing she wanted to do was say it again but Dani needed something and lies were all Rachel had to give her right now. "Look, I'm going off to college next year in New York and I need to focus on my career, that's the most important thing if I want to win my first Tony by the time I'm twenty five. That's my plan, that's always been my plan and your brother just doesn't fit into that plan."

Dani sat up straighter and backed away from Rachel. "So wait, what? My brother's not good enough for you?"

"No, that's not what I said," Rachel shook her head.

"You're going to run off to New York and be a big star and just leave us all behind?" Dani stood up. "You promised you'd always be there for me, was that just a lie?"

"No," Rachel stood up.

"You were like a sister to me and I liked having a sister," Dani said, tears springing to her eyes.

"Dani," Rachel grabbed for her and Dani jerked her arm away. "You were like a sister to me too."

"Stop lying!" Dani said before turning and running down the hall. Rachel heard the bathroom door slam and winced.

An hour laterm she opened the door and saw Puck standing on her porch. "Thanks for coming. I know you probably hate me but I didn't know who else to call." Rachel moved aside and let him in the house.

"Where is she?" Puck asked brushing past her.

"She locked herself in the hall bathroom." Rachel stuffed her hands in her pockets sheepishly.

Puck walked down the hall and knocked on the door. "Dani, open the door, it's time to go home."

"Just go away," Dani screamed.

"Dani, seriously I will break the fucking door down."

"Then break the fucking door down because I'm not going anywhere," Dani screamed back.

Puck sighed and turned to Rachel. "What the fuck happened?"

"She came over, asking me what happened between us. She thought you had done something or that you had broken up with me so I just told her the truth."

"Well, that was fucking stupid," Puck rolled his eyes and turned back to the door.

"Why didn't you tell her?"

"I'm used to Dani hating me," he shrugged. "I didn't want her to hate you."

"Yeah well, it's a little too late for that now," Rachel sighed. "Although you always complained that you guys had nothing in common, now you have this. You both hate me."

"Yeah," Puck said and dropped down to his knees and Rachel felt her stomach lurch because she'd kind of assumed that he would be mad at her but to hate her… "You got a bobby pin?"

Rachel reached up into her hair and pulled out a bobby pin then handed it to him. He picked the lock on the bathroom door easily and pushed it open. "Get in the car," he said to Dani who was sitting on top of the closed toilet seat, her eyes puffy from crying. She glared at Rachel then jumped up and tore out of the house.

Rachel winced again when the front door slammed. "She likes slamming doors huh?"

"She's a Puckerman," Puck shrugged, a small smile on his face.

"So I hear you're taking Lauren to prom." Rachel said and his smile dropped instantly.

"We're not going to do this Rachel," Puck shook his head.

"Do what?" Rachel frowned.

"We're not going to pretend like we're friends. That's not how this is going to work."

"How is this going to work?" she asked quietly.

"Fuck if I know. But we're not going to make small talk and pretend like we didn't spend the past year of our lives practically attached at the fucking hip. And we're not gonna pretend like you didn't tear my fucking heart out two weeks ago."

"Right," Rachel whispered as Puck dropped the twisted bobby pin in her hand and stormed off, slamming the door behind him.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Prom came and found sitting cross legged on her bed, staring at the garment back hanging on the back of her closet. There was a knock on the door and she turned around, "Enter."

"Hey," Sam said sheepishly stepping into the room.

"Wow, look at you," Rachel stood up and climbed off the bed.

"I'm rockin' the tux right?" Sam did a little spin and Rachel laughed.

"You are most certainly rocking the tux," she assured him, bringing her hand up to wipe imaginary dust off his shoulders. "You look very handsome, Sam."

"Thanks," Sam smiled sadly at her. "So you probably know why I'm here but I have to ask. You sure I can't convince you to come?"

"No, I'm afraid you can't," Rachel grabbed his tie and pretended to straighten it.

"Look, it's your prom too. I'd be there the whole night. I wouldn't leave your side," Sam promised.

"I'm sure your date would love that," Rachel shook her head. "Go on. Have fun, dance the night away, take a stupid picture and just don't think about me, okay?"

"I can't promise that last one but I'll try really hard on the others." Sam said, kissing her cheek. "Oh and just in case you change your mind," he something out of his pocket and set it on the corner of her dresser. "I got you an extra ticket."

She sat on her bed staring at the garment bag for a good thirty minutes before she finally broke down and opened it up. The gold dress looked exactly as she remembered it and she pulled it from the hanger and laid it on the bed. She stepped out of her pajamas and slid the dress over her head, staring at herself in the mirror. Sam was right, this was her prom too. She could go and dance and have really bad punch and take a really stupid picture. But standing now in the dress that Noah had picked out for her almost six months before all she could think was that she wouldn't be going with him, she wouldn't be dancing with him. So she took the dress off and stuffed it back into the garment bag before climbing into bed and trying to sleep.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Back to the Present

Before Rachel knew it, school was over. She stood on stage with the other glee club members as they sang a final farewell to the school that never really appreciated them while they were there. She walked across the stage in her cap and gown and got her diploma, flipping the little tassel as she went and that was that. She was officially a high school graduate.

And then her dads were taking picture after picture and gushing about how their little girl was all grown up. All she could see was Noah standing just a few rows away from her, his mother laughing and crying all at the same time, her pride threatening to bubble over in the most embarrassing manner possible because there was probably a time when she really didn't think he'd ever graduate. And Rachel was right there with her. She was so proud of him and she wanted nothing more than to tell him how proud she was of him but she was pretty sure he didn't care.

They hadn't spoken since prom night, since he showed up at her house and told her that he hated her because he loved her and she really didn't know what to do with that so she just left him alone, avoided him at all costs and went out of her way to stay out of his way. She thought that would make it easier and maybe it did for him, but she was pretty sure by now nothing would make this easier for her.

She'd practically filled her new notebook since that night, with any tip or trick she could manage to find from magazine articles and internet research on how to get over someone, but nothing had worked. She wasn't sure if anything would ever work. In fact, she was resigned to being in love with Noah Puckerman for the rest of her life and she was pretty sure the he was going to hate her for the rest of his.

"Rachel?" her dad asked and she turned her attention back to her fathers.

"I'm sorry, did you say something?" Rachel smiled at them.

"I said I'm sure there are going to be a bunch of parties tonight."

"Yes, there will be," Rachel said. "In fact, I think Mike is have one at his house. Someone mentioned a bonfire."

"Will you be attending?" her daddy asked, his tone worried and hopeful all at the same time.

"I don't think so," Rachel shook her head and she could see their faces fall. "I'm sure Noah will be there and I wouldn't want to ruin his evening. He graduated today."

"You graduated today," her dad said.

She knew they were worried about her. They didn't understand what happened between her and Noah and she wasn't really sure what to tell them so she didn't tell them anything. "It's fine, I was never much for parties anyway. If you'll excuse me I need to go to the bathroom and then we can get out of here."

"Sure," her daddy nodded and Rachel walked away. She hurried down the hall and into the bathroom to splash some water on her face. She heard the toilet flush and looked up to see Ms. Puckerman walk out of the stall behind her.

"Oh, Rachel," she looked surprised and uncomfortable all at the same time. "The song was lovely," Mrs. Puckerman offered her a tight smiled.

"Thank you," Rachel nodded as she started washing her hands. "So I'm sure Noah's excited for college. He's probably packed already." Rachel cringed. As if this wasn't already awkward enough she had to bring up the woman's son, the son whose heart Rachel tore into little pieces.

To Rachel's surprise, she just smiled. "He was packed last week."

"When does he leave?" Rachel asked even as the little voice in her head was screaming at her to change the subject.

"Well he was going to wait until August but after the other month he signed up for this early enrollment thing so he'll be leaving in July."

"Oh," Rachel said, knowing what 'after the other month' meant. "I'm sure that's going to be hard for you."

"Yes, well he was pretty anxious to get out of town," Aviva said and there it was, the awkwardness was back.

"I guess it makes it a bit easier on you that he'll be so close." Rachel offered. "Close enough to come home on the weekends. Though I suppose that just means more laundry for you, huh?"

"I'd hardly say that 600 miles is close enough to come home every weekend." Aviva shook her head.

"600 miles?" Rachel paused. "But Ohio State's campus is only an hour and half away."

"Yeah, I'm sure it is, but Queens College is 9 hours away." Aviva told Rachel.

"Wait, he's not going to Ohio State?" Rachel asked.

"He was never going to Ohio State. He got a partial scholarship to Queens." Aviva asked.

"But he got a full ride to Ohio State." Rachel sputtered, confused.

"No, I think you're mistaken," Aviva said before walking away.

Rachel walked out of the bathroom and stopped in her tracks, staring as Noah pulled Santana into a headlock, a smile on his face and suddenly she was angry. She'd put herself through hell, cried more in the past month than she had in all four years of high school and for what? For nothing. He'd still turned down the scholarship; he was still going to New York. Everything she'd done was for nothing.

She was fuming now, that old Rachel Berry spirit boiling up in her and she found herself stomping across the auditorium toward him. "Noah Eli Puckerman!" she called, catching him off guard for a second as he spun around to look at her. "Are you still planning on attending Queens College in the fall?"

He narrowed his eyes and crossed his arms over his chest, "Yeah, what the fuck does it matter to you?" She glared at him and he rolled his eyes. "Geez Berry is this were you tell me the city isn't big enough for the both of us because you can just fuck off. I swear I plan on going out of my way to make sure we never bump into each other. How about this, we can just split the city in half. You can take everything North of 58th street and I'll take everything South.

"I'm not talking about…wait, everything's south of 58th Street? Broadway issouth of 58th!" she narrowed her eyes at him.

"Is it?" Puck pretended to be shocked. "Well, that sucks for you then huh. Hey, at least I'm giving you Central Park."

"That's not what I…what happened to Ohio State?" she asked him.

"The fuck are you talking about?" He shook his head at her.

"You got a full athletic scholarship to Ohio State, Noah, that's what I'm talking about," she told him as if he didn't know.

"How did you know about that?" He stood up straighter and glared down at her.

"I saw the letter in your room." Rachel stomped her foot. "I don't understand why you're still going to New York! There is no reason for you to go now. OSU has a full four year scholarship and all you have to do is play football."

"Maybe I didn't want the fucking scholarship and I sure as hell didn't want to play fucking football." He told her. "I want to play baseball, I want to get the fuck out of Ohio, I want to go to New York and I wanted to do all those things with you but you fucking ruined that. And you know what? You lost the right to worry about what fucking college I go to when you broke up with me," he snapped, walking away from her.

Rachel just stood there, staring at the spot where he had been, his words playing over and over in her mind. "Hey," Sam said walking up beside her.

"Hey," she turned to him.

"I don't suppose I can convince you to come to Mike's—"

"Yes," Rachel turned to Sam.

"Yes?" Sam asked surprised. "Really?"

"I graduated today, Sam, and I deserve to party,"

"Hell yeah you do," Sam smiled.

"Let me just go tell my dads," Rachel said.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

If she thought the party would magically make everything better, she was wrong. It was fun catching up with her old friends, she hadn't realized how isolated she made herself after the break up, but that was taken care of in little under an hour. She knew that Sam would have stuck around if she'd asked him too but he was talking to a brunette that Rachel thought was in her English class and he looked like he was having fun.

She turned and saw Puck standing in the doorway, staring at her and she couldn't deal with that at the moment so she turned around and, grabbed one of the red plastic cups from the kitchen that Brittany told her tasted 'happy' and walked out into the back yard and down to the bon fire.

"I'm out," Puck said, turning and walking back outside to his truck. Santana rolled her eyes and followed him.

"Really, you're gonna be a little bitch and run away? Again?" she called after him and he stopped and turned around.

"I'm not running away," he growled. "And I'm not being a little bitch."

Santana laughed. "You could have fooled me."

"What do you want me to do? You want me to go in there and have a drink with her and pretend like nothing happened? She fucking dumped me."

"Yeah, about that. Look, I'm not really sure that's what happened," Santana said.

"What? You think she didn't break up with me? That I'm just confused?" Puck said. "Because I was there, I remember what she said vividly."

"Yeah, I'm not saying it didn't happen. I'm just saying I'm not sure she actually meant it," Santana offered.

"And how do you even know anything about it, Satan?"

"Cause I'm pretty sure I helped her break up with you."

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Santana was walking down the hall minding her own business when she felt someone grab her ponytail and pull her into the bathroom. "What the fuck, Man-hands?" Santana growled when she saw Rachel.

"I need your help," Rachel stuttered.

"Funny fucking way of asking," Santana glared and turned to the mirror, fixing her ponytail. "What the hell makes you think I'd help you with anything?"

"Because you hate me and you've been trying to break Noah and I up since the moment we got together, which I completely don't understand given the fact that you've openly expressed your love for another person who also happens to be of the opposite sex of Noah."

"It's easy, Puck's my boy and you're Berry," Santana said. "It's like I couldn't not try and break you up," she paused and looked more closely at Rachel. "Wait, you and Puck are breaking up?"

"If you'll agree to help me," Rachel said.

Santana looked at her skeptically but nodded. "Whatever, what do you want me to do? Seduce him? Seduce you in front of him?"

"What?" Rachel balked. "No, of course not. No one will be seducing anyone. I simply need you to invite yourself over to Mike's this afternoon. The boys will be enjoying an evening of video games and junk food and as the night wears on, most likely alcohol, as Mike's parents are out of town. You just need to turn his phone off. Can you do that?"

"Turn his phone off?" Santana asked. "Yeah, I can do that."

"Great. Thank you," Rachel said, the reality of what she was about to do suddenly setting in. "I appreciate your help in this matter." She pushed past the Latina to the doorway when Santana called after her.

"You don't look really happy about this whole thing," Santana frowned.

"There are some things you just have to do, regardless of what you want. It's a life lesson I think everyone would do well to learn early on." Rachel offered.

"And you have to break up with Puck?" Santana asked. "What the fuck for?"

"For his own good." Rachel shrugged and walked out of the bathroom.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

"She said she was doing it for my own good?" Puck asked Santana, confused.

"Yeah and then she said all that shit at graduation about Ohio State and how now you didn't have a reason to go to New York so I was thinking…"

"She broke up with me so I'd take the OSU scholarship?" Puck asked and Santana nodded. "She wouldn't do that. Would she?" he asked, unsure and Santana raised her eyebrow.

"This is Rachel Berry we're talking about here, a girl whose crazy knows no bounds. She would totally do that." Santana said.

"Right," Puck groaned. "I need a drink." He pushed past the Latina and back into the house. He was grabbing for his second beer when Puck figured that the alcohol probably wasn't going to help him think. Then he saw Rachel fill up her fourth cup of Brittany's 'happy' drink and he sighed and put the beer back in the fridge. He was pretty sure she had come with Sam but Puck didn't see him anywhere.

"Son of a bitch," he groaned, walking into the front room where he knew Rachel liked to hide her bag at Mike's parties. He found it behind the bookshelf on the far wall where it always was and reached in to pull out her keys, only to find a familiar red notebook. He pulled it out confused and stared at the front cover.

How to be Noah's Ex-Girlfriend

A Survival Guide

By Rachel Barbara Berry*

He shook his head thinking maybe Santana wasn't that far off after all and he flipped it open.

*The most important thing to remember is that you're doing this for his own good. He may never understand, he may never forgive you but you just have to trust that you're doing the right thing and maybe one day he won't hate you.

"Jesus, she's fucking insane," Puck shook his head, a small smile on his face as he flipped through and read all the tips and tricks she'd come up with in an attempt to get over him. Some of them were ridiculous.

79. Take a lock of his hair and burn it along with some sage, inhaling the fumes until you feel that he's been

cleansed from your body and soul.

Some of them he'd tried himself.

17. Consider a rebound relationship just to get yourself out of the mindset that he's the only person you can see yourself with.

His chest tightened at the thought of Rachel rebounding with anyone. He knew it was hypocritical, considering the blonde Cheerio at her locker but he couldn't help it. The pain eased slightly when he saw a small handwritten note scribbled in the margin. I'm not sure I'm ready for this step just yet. I'm not sure I want to get myself out of the mindset that he's the only person I can see myself with.

He wanted to be mad at her, he really did but he couldn't. He was sure if he ever could so he closed the notebook and walked down to the bonfire.

"Any of these things actually help?" Puck asked plopping down on the log beside her, dropping the red notebook in her lap. She stared down at it and sighed, turning to him. "Cause I tried a lot of shit to get over you and none of them fucking worked."

"Where did you get this?" Rachel asked.

"Out of your bag," Puck shrugged.

"What were you doing in my bag?" Rachel frowned at him.

"Confiscating your keys," he told her matter-of-factly and she scoffed.

"I've only had three drinks," she said, setting the red plastic cup on the ground at her feet.

"You've had four," Puck corrected her, "And Britt makes that shit strong."

"I didn't even drive, I rode with Sam." Rachel told him. "And why do you care how much I've had to drink?" she whispered.

"Why do you care that I'm not going to Ohio State?" Puck asked her and he could see the blush rise up her cheeks. "So it's true then, you broke up with me so that I would take the scholarship?"

"I thought it was because of me." Rachel finally looked up at him. "I thought you turned down the scholarship because of me. They were offering you a free ride for four years, Noah. But you didn't even think about it. You took a crappy scholarship to play Division II Baseball in Queens that will probably barely pay for your books.

You would have spent four years working two jobs just to pay the rest of your tuition or worse taken out massive student loans which meant you would have had to take what ever job you could get the second you graduated just to pay them back and you would have been stuck there for the rest of your life instead of going after your dream. And I didn't want you to wake up in fifteen years and wonder what could have been and hate me for it."

"So instead you break up with me so I can wake up in fifteen years and hate you for that?" Puck nudged her shoulder a soft smile on his face. She laughed and wiped away the tears she hadn't realized were falling.

"I just…I thought it was about me." Rachel whispered.

Puck sighed and ran his hand over his Mohawk. "It was a little about you but fuck Rach, no offense, this is my future here. I love you but in the end I've gotta do what's right for me." Puck said. "Going to OSU would have been easier, there's no denying that. They would have paid for everything but I knew if it took it, if I joined the team, I knew that I'd be that guy – the one partying on the weekends, probably on the weekdays. I'd declare some bullshit major, take the easy courses, which I'd probably barely skate by in, make the minimum requirement to stay on the team and keep my scholarship. What the hell good would that have done me? I would have graduated and come right back to Lima because it would have been the easiest thing to do. And none of that is taking into account that I fucking hate football." He shook his head.

"You love football," Rachel countered.

"God, for a girl has a five hundred page notebook filled with things about me sometimes I'm not sure how well you really know me." Puck sighed. "I like football well enough. It was fun in pee-wee leagues when it was about tossing the ball around a field with your friends, when it was a way to get out of the house and away from my old man after school. I joined in high school because Finn joined and that's just what you do if you're a guy and you don't want to get thrown in a dumpster. I liked winning that championship game junior year because winning always feels good and because you were there on the field with me and that was fucking awesome, but I don't love football."

"We watched it all the time," Rachel said, wondering how she could have missed something so blatantly obvious about him. "You made me watch it every weekend," she insisted.

"Well yeah," Puck smirked. "I loved how intense you got about it because you thought it mattered to me. How you would put on my jersey and pair of shorts and sit on the couch with your feet in my lap, insisting that I explain to you everything that was happening on the screen. I love that by the next weekend, you'd forgotten everything I told you the week before."

"It's confusing," Rachel pouted. "Their own rules are quite arbitrary sometimes and there is a whole different set for college football and the NFL and that doesn't make any sense."

"I love that you made cookies shaped like little footballs. I loved that you sent 'Get Well Soon' cards to every guy who got injured, no matter what team they were playing for."

"I got a Thank You card back for every one I sent out, too." Rachel huffed. "I told you it would be appreciated."

"The point is, the thing I liked most about football was being with you. And no way was I gonna spend four years playing a game I didn't particularly like, especially if you weren't gonna be up in the stands cheering me on."

"Oh," Rachel said softly.

"And you know what? I love baseball." Puck continued. "I don't care that it's Division II, I don't care that the money they're giving me probably won't even cover my books. It's the field, the smell of the grass and the sun beating down on your shoulders. It's being out there, on your own, and yet surrounded by your teammates. It's that there's no game clock, no countdown, it's playing the game until it's done no matter how long it takes. It's about looking up in the stands and seeing my girl wearing my jersey with my cap on her head."

"Noah," Rachel said to him.

"I had a plan. I applied for grants, tons of them and surprisingly I got some. Not enough to pay for everything but enough to make it doable. My scholarship qualifies me for student housing so I get a tuition break for living on campus. I talked to a guy in the athletic department. He said they were always looking for people to work there part time, equipment managers and stuff. Said if I was interested in Sports Medicine they had work study programs and I never was before but when he talked about it, I don't know, it seemed kind of cool. And they have a music school, a really good one so if I wanted to do that, I could. And yeah, it didn't hurt that it was forty five minutes from your dorm, which was more than I really wanted but was still better than nine hours. I had a plan, Rachel. I just wish you would have trusted me enough."

"I'm sorry," Rachel said and he shrugged in a sort of what's done is done way. "None of them helped," she said suddenly, lifting the red notebook off her lap.

"You didn't actually burn my hair did you?" Puck looked over at her and she wrinkled her nose.

"No," she shook her head. "I did burn the sage though, all it did was make my room smell funny for a few days." Puck laughed. "None of them make it any easier, and they certainly didn't stop me from loving you."

"Yeah, I saw number 4." Puck laughed. "You're an idiot you know that?"

Rachel looked over at him and smiled slightly. "I thought I was a bitch."

"You can be both." Puck shrugged and Rachel smacked his arm. "You are never going to win another fight. Ever." She looked over at him. "I'm serious here. Years from now, when you start screaming at me about leaving my dirty dishes in the sink or wet towels on the floor, all I'm gonna have to say is, 'remember that time in high school when you dumped me?' and that'll be it, fight over."

"Years from now?" Rachel asked him hopefully and he leaned forward and kissed her.

It was tender and tentative, like they were testing out the waters, afraid to jump right into the deep end. But it was full of hope and promise and she couldn't help but think back to prom night and that kiss and how it was so full of anger and regret. And suddenly she was crying because she had screwed up everything. Prom was a memory they would never be able to get back and she could tell in the way he hesitated just a bit, the way his lips stuttered against hers that there was still a long way to go to repair the trust that she'd broken with him.

"Hey," he pulled away, wiping the tears from her cheeks.

"I'm sorry," she whispered, "I'm so sorry. For everything."

"It's ok," Puck pulled her close. "I forgive you."

"But you shouldn't," Rachel shook her head. "You shouldn't forgive me and I shouldn't let you but I just missed you so much," she sobbed into his shirt.

He was quiet for a minute until he saw the red notebook in her lap and he pulled it from her slowly. "Survival guide, huh?" he asked her. "That sounds pretty accurate. That's all I was doing without you, you know – just trying to survive. I'm tired of just surviving, Rachel; I want to live and I want to do it with you."

"Me too," Rachel agreed.

"I don't want to spend the next four years in the same city as you, going out of my way to avoid you. I mean splitting New York down the middle was a pretty good idea but it would suck never being to be able to go to Central Park, you know."

"Yes, and it will be quite hard to achieve my dream of being the youngest person to win a Tony if I'm forbidden from stepping foot below 58th Street." Rachel humored him.

"Or we pretend we're just friends and meet up for coffee every now and then and eventually you'd start dating some lame theater guy and you'd tell me about it and I'd have to go punch him in the face and you'd get all mad at me so really the only option is to get back together."

"It really is the only thing that makes sense," Rachel smiled and nodded. "Logically."

"Look, I'm not saying that we just go back to the way we were before. We'll take it slow," Puck shook his head. "Obviously there are things that we have to work on. You need to learn that we're in this thing together and things that affect the both of us are things that we need to decide together. But you need to trust that I can make my own decisions when it comes down to it."

"I can work on that," Rachel assured him.

"And I need to remember that you're crazy and you try to do stupid stuff like break up with me for my own good and I need to just, you know, not let you do that."

"So what? You're just going to refuse to let me break up with you?" Rachel asked him, amused.

"Pretty much. From now on when you get in a mood and try to break things off, I'm just not going to accept it."

"You're not going to accept my break up?" Rachel smirked.

"Nope," Puck shook his head.

"Can you do that?" Rachel furrowed her brow at him.

"Why the hell not?" Puck grabbed her face. "I love you and you're just going to have to come to terms with the fact that you're fucking stuck with me. Cause I'm not going anywhere."

"I think I can handle that." Rachel said before closing the distance between them and pressing her lips against his. This time she was more sure of it, more sure of them and she put everything she had into it, everything she was feeling, everything she wanted to say. He understood, grabbing her hips and pulling her closer and closer, afraid he'd never be able to get her close enough because she'd been too far away for far too long. At some point, she'd ended up in his lap and his brain must have turned off because he would have kept going, right there in front of the fire, in front of all of their friends, if Santana hadn't smacked him in the back of the head and told them to get a room.

"Shit," he said, pulling his lips away from Rachel's to glare at the Latina who was just smirking down at him. He was about to tear into her when Rachel shifted on his lap and he turned back to her. Her hair was wild and messy, her lips red and swollen and she was looking at him in a sort of daze.

"Noah?" Rachel asked questioningly and he took it mean, 'Why did you stop kissing me?'.

"Fuck," he whispered again against her lips, kissing her softly this time. "My sister's having a slumber party, we can't go there."

Rachel pulled away from him, a coy smile on her lips. "I thought we were taking it slow?"

"Emotionally," Puck corrected her. "We're taking it slow emotionally but fuck baby, I haven't touched you in over a month," he said sliding his hand along her butt.

"My dads are home," Rachel groaned and leaned her head against his chest. Almost at the same time, they looked at each other, slow smiles spreading across their faces.

"The closet," they said together and Puck stood up, tossing her on his shoulder in a fireman's carry as he headed for the house.

"Hey," Santana called after him, holding out the small red notebook she'd picked up off the ground. "She dropped this,"

Puck stared at the notebook and shook his head. "Toss it in the fire, she doesn't fucking need it anymore," he said and kept walking.

"Puckleberry's back bitches!" They heard Santana scream as they hit the back deck.

As the back door closed behind them Mike's voice carried across the lawn. "Puckerman, stay the hell away from my closet!"