A/N: I've missed all of you! Sorry to have been so busy this spring! (Real life...)
everything you need to know
Can you blame a guy for feeling used? He's not used to being someone's dirty little secret.
Okay, that's a total lie, he is. The cougars, obviously. And random Cheerios looking to perfect their skills or their big sisters home on break and wanting to scratch an itch without their college boyfriends finding out. They like that he knows what he's doing, knows all the little tricks and the right spots to get them off. And he likes...well shit, he likes pussy obviously. So if he ever wondered what the hell he's doing sneaking out the back door as Mr. Whoever strides in the front, or having some girl who wouldn't be caught dead in his neighborhood calling him up for a fuck, it always seemed like a fair trade-off.
But when he's sitting in his truck at 10:00 o'clock at night, parked half a block down from her house so that her daddies don't find out or who the fuck knows why, something doesn't seem right.
Truth is, he's just not used to being Rachel's dirty little secret. And anyone who thinks that's funny can just fuck right off.
As if on cue, his phone rings and if anything, Puck's expression grows surlier when he checks the display. It's Chang, who doesn't know shit except that some girl is holding out on him, which is true enough, though probably not in the way that Mike thinks. (Chances are the who would also shock the fuck out of him; sometimes Puck can't believe it himself.)
"What?" he grunts.
"Where the hell are you man? Hudson and Evans have been here for an hour. COD isn't going to play itself you know."
"Told you I was busy."
"Riiiight. If you're so busy,why are you still answering your phone?"
She chooses that moment to bounce into the truck with a bright, "Hi!" and an exaggerated look of horror spreads over her face when she sees he's on the phone. "Sorry," she whispers apologetically and he only keeps her from darting out the passenger door by linking his fingers around her wrist.
Mike's snickering because apparently it's hilarious when someone you've known since kindergarten wants to be more than a booty call for the first time in his life. Or maybe the second time, if you count that one week with her sophomore year. Looking back, he should have been clued in by the fact that he wasn't going to break up with her, even if her tits were off-limits for the foreseeable future.
Awesome, universe. Message received.
And Mike calling him a dumbass before hanging up isn't helping much, even if he deserves it.
He's off the phone for like five seconds before she's crawling into his lap and kissing him, nipping gently at his lower lip, and because his brain has never stood much of a chance of holding out against his dick, (and no chance of holding out against her) he opens his mouth and slides his tongue along hers slow and sweet, just the way she likes until they both break apart, panting.
"Can we go somewhere a little more private?" she asks quietly, running her fingertips lightly down his side and he shivers and brushes his lips along her jaw and noses her ear.
They've been doing this for a month now, so he knows what that means. 'Private' means the reservoir or the empty parking lot behind the bowling alley or some random turn-off where it's dark enough and secluded enough for them get each other off. Like he said, his territory, right? He knows how to do that, how to make it good for both of them, especially when it's quiet enough and there's time and he can spread her out on a blanket in the bed of his truck and make her fall apart.
Thing is, with Rachel he's pretty sure he could be good at the rest of it too, (the high-maintenance shit has never scared him off) if she gave him the chance.
He finds the gap between her tank-top and shorts and runs a finger along the small of her back, drawing squiggles and tiny circles and her initials until her hips rock against his just once, and he groans.
"Please?" she breathes.
He nods, not trusting his voice.
After he brings her to 7-11 and buys her a slushie. They stand in front of the bored cashier, and he watches the flush rise up on her neck as his hand finds the same spot on her back again. When he drops her off (half-way down the block again, and no, he's not leaving until he sees her slip in the side door, it's past midnight and he's not an asshole) she kisses him and thanks him for the drink. As he licks his suddenly grape flavored lips, he thinks that at least she's not thanking him for the fuck. And then he almost breaks his hand punching his dash.
He settles down later with an ice-pack and a couple of ibuprofen and tries to make himself comfortable on his bed, but instead he's just way too awake and thinking. Never a good idea.
Probably he shouldn't have done it (Rachel). Or hell yes, he should have done it (being with her is not the kind of shit you regret), only maybe it was just begging for bad karma to do it on Finn's bed. (Sorry, dude.) But it's not like it's some kind of major bro-code violation, Finn&Rachel are over, have been for ages. So when Kurt throws this party to celebrate the start of summer and she comes to find him and pulls him into an deserted hallway and attaches her lips to his, it's not like he's stopping things and asking what her intentions are or something.
Even less when he's found an empty room and their clothes are starting to come off and she's looking up at him with her brown eyes impossibly wide and saying shit like 'more' and 'I want you.' And then he's careful, so careful because he can't fucking believe that she chose him and he's slowly pressing into her and he'll die if he fucking hurts her any more than he has to and she just breathes 'Noah', like a little sigh.
He should be used to it by now, but he's fucking sick of things with Rachel coming back to bite him in the ass.
Not that it looks like it's going to at first. Right afterward, she curls up with him and trails her fingers along his chest while he plays with her hair and even when she murmurs something about curfew and kisses him softly before slipping away, he's too fucking happy or something stupid like that to notice that he's now got an armful of exactly nothing.
Hard to ignore when she doesn't answer his calls, though.
He texts her before she's out the door, asking her to let him know that she's made it home, but beyond the reply, 'Home and safe!', twenty minutes later, nothing. It kind of worries him when he's trying to get to sleep that night because while he doesn't expect a thank-you note for taking her cherry and getting her off twice, or some declaration of eternal love, he can't help thinking that anyone who talks as much as Rachel should have more to say.
It goes downhill from there. Not only is she not picking up, she's not on his doorstep the next morning, like he half expects (hopes), she doesn't change her facebook status (like an asshole, he checks) and she doesn't tell anyone about it. Not her dads anyway; they're still smiling at him at temple. And not Kurt and Mercedes either, or at least he assumes not since Kurt's fucking shrill about this kind of thing and Mercedes has never had a problem with getting up in his business, especially when she thinks he's going to fuck something up.
He recognizes the brush-off when he sees it, only usually he's on the other side of it, and yes, this is worse. Things change when she waves to him four days later at Sheets 'n Things when he's on a floor shift, but Schue's ex is laying into him about something (possibly towel folding?) and she's gone by the time he gets away. He follows a hunch and heads out back by the employee entrance and sure enough, she's there, digging the toe of her pink Keds into the asphalt.
"Hey," he says digging his hands into his pockets and leaning up against the wall.
She smiles nervously at him. "Noah. Hi. How have you been?"
Even knowing her, his jaw still drops a little because small talk? He doubts she's looking for 'feeling shitty actually Rachel, how about you?' Settling for a mumbled 'fine', half of him wishes she'd just whip out the index cards because this is kind of painfully awkward.
"I've been avoiding you," she admits.
No shit. Does she think he hasn't noticed?
"I needed a couple of days to think about what happened at Kurt's party," she continues. "The entire thing, it was unexpected and...I've just been confused."
Yeah, obviously too confused to answer her damn phone or return a message or anything. He opens his mouth to tell her just that, but she's picking at the hem of her blouse and she can't meet his eyes and he's frustrated, sure, but mostly his gut is churning with something, guilt probably. He's not stupid. At the party she was right there in the moment with him, but that means fuck-all if she's unhappy about it now. He should know.
"Look Rach, if that was something you didn't want, I didn't mean to..."
"No," she interrupts, shaking her head firmly. "Noah, it was my idea. And," she's blushing furiously here, "I really enjoyed myself."
It doesn't suck to hear that and despite himself some of his tension starts to fade. But he's known Rachel for a long time, and he can hear the hesitation in her voice.
"So what now?" he asks in exactly the same way that he ripped band-aids off when he was seven.
"We could spend more time together if you wanted to. Only maybe we should keep things simple," she offers cautiously.
Simple? What the fuck does that mean? Does she want to go out? Is it just an excuse to hook up?
Is he supposed to mind this much?
"Yeah, okay," he says hoarsely, reaching out and twisting a strand of her soft hair in between his fingers while she looks up at him through her eyelashes.
So two or three times a week he's got her all to himself, always alone, always at night. The rest of the time? She texts him sometimes, just friendly stuff, same as she's been doing for the last year or so. If he calls, she'll call him back, usually for about three minutes in between whatever lesson or class or recital she's got going. Whenever they meet up in a group (which for the record is all the time) she smiles at him exactly like she's always done and that's it.
It's fine, it's cool, it's whatever.
(You sure as fuck shouldn't ask questions if you don't want to know the answers.)
She's sitting next to Tina and Mercedes on the back of his open tail-gate at the beach parking lot, tanned legs swinging in little denim shorts that should be illegal, face unclouded and open, talking a mile a minute about something and he thinks he must be hallucinating it all. And then she looks at him with eyes so dark she's gotta be remembering two nights ago and the way she'd sat in that exact spot and let him kiss his way down her body, find his way to between her thighs and coax those tiny tremors and sweet noises from her. Her tongue darts out for the briefest second to wet her bottom lip and then she looks down at her feet.
Suddenly, he wants to push it. He does that a lot even if it almost never works out the way he wants.
He peels off his t-shirt (it's hot, okay) before he reaches into the cooler behind the girls, making sure to brush against her, only he's the one who has to work to keep his shit together, because her perfume's enough to get him half-hard. And she flinches away from him. Just the tiniest bit, and then there's a slight inhale, her fingers clutching onto the tailgate. His gut tightens in response and it's an effort to force his face into a neutral expression.
"Fuck Puckerman, who did a number on your shoulders?" Santana calls out, laughing. "Must have been a hell of a little wildcat. Or should I say cougar?"
Shit, he forgot about the marks. She'd really liked it when he went down on her, even if she was embarrassed as fuck when she noticed the way she'd dug her nails into him.
Mike looks confused and the rest of them look either bored or mildly disgusted. She still won't look at him at all and that, all of it really, pisses him off. He says stupid stuff when he's pissed. She's gotta know that.
"Wildcat? Wild for my cock anyway," he smirks. "Make whatever assumptions you want and then double it, assholes, I'm just that good."
He's got the satisfaction of feeling like a complete prick and also of seeing her lips press into a thin line before she slips off the tailgate and heads down to the water. (It's not very satisfying.)
Over the next hour, she swims with the Tina and Mike and flips through magazines under a huge beach umbrella with Kurt and smilingly offers a plate of cookies to the group. (She fails at subtlety; he gets the broken one.) He doesn't try to get her alone; even if he wanted to, he wouldn't be able to get anywhere near her. Which in a screwed up way is sort of the entire problem, even if he has seen her naked.
And yeah, it's probably the answer he's been avoiding for weeks. Not the one he's been hoping for, but he gets it. Nodding a goodbye to Mike, he leaves the rest of them on the beach arguing over the merits of a bonfire versus heading into town to hit up Dairy Queen. She probably doesn't see him leave, but then the only view he's had of her for a while is the back of her head while she's giggling with Kurt.
When he pulls out of the parking lot, he doesn't look back.
Some other guy would probably be surprised when she keeps trying to call him that night. Not him. She needs the last word like she needs oxygen and shit, he should probably just get it over with and let her yell at him or dance around him in a circle singing something about how he's a dickhead.
Should has never been a big motivator for him, honestly.
Instead he turns off his phone and flops down on the bed with the volume on his ipod all the way up and decides not to think about her. The first hint he gets that this isn't going to work is when he has to skip every third song because she liked it or she sang it or even just mentioned it.) The second is when she starts throwing shit at him. All right, it's just his dirty t-shirt from the floor, but he pushes himself up on one elbow and glares at her as she stands in his doorway distastefully nudging aside his cargo shorts with one foot.
So what? It's hot up here, even with the fan going and at least he's in his boxers. Anyway, it's not like it's anything she hasn't seen before. Her lips are moving, and he yanks out the ear buds.
"I did knock," she says stiffly.
He shrugs, sits up and pulls on the t-shirt. Just because he wants to, not because she looks uncomfortable.
"What are you doing here?" he asks.
"Your mother let me in."
No shit his mother let her in, even at 10:30 at night. Probably handed her a box of condoms on the way up, too. His mother has been bringing Rachel up in 'casual' conversation since 7th grade.
She frowns at the floor and then bursts out, "Why did you say it? Is that what this is about? Showing off for our friends?"
He can work with this. Just keep things simple, give her the apology that he definitely owes her and then she'll leave and they can ignore each other for the rest of the summer. Instead, his mind floods with images: him sitting in his truck and waiting down the street for her and pretending for their friends, and the way she pulled away from him and he can't hold it in any more.
"Me? What is this to you? Let's keep things simple?I've heard that kind of bullshit before, Rachel. We both know you're slumming," he bites out.
He's still sitting on his bed, so he doesn't really have any place to go, but if he did he might be backing away from the fury on her face. Her hands are clenching into fists and he thinks that if she was the kind of person who slapped people, she'd slap him now.
"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" she hisses.
He pushes off the bed and crosses the room to close the door, because he doesn't need an audience for this. "Oh come on!" he begs. "Don't play dumb. We've been fucking for over a month now. So when's the big introduction to your dads? Finn was talking about that one for weeks."
Her eyes widen. "You already know my fathers. Anyway..."
"And how many dates have we been on?" he interrupts.
"Dates? We had dinner together at Breadstix last week!"
"Are you shitting me, Rachel? Along with Kurt and Mercedes and Mike and everyone else! Hey, what about Kurt and Mercedes? Told your besties about us yet?"
"I...," she shakes her head. "Noah..."
"No? That's what I thought."
She reaches out towards him, but her hand falls away before it reaches him. "Is that really what you think? That I'm ashamed of you? That I'm ashamed of us?" she demands. "Noah, I'm not. It's just..." She trails away and he nods.
"You got another explanation?" he asks quietly.
He waits...fuck, it feels like he waits for a long time.
"What do you want from me?" she asks and he can hear her voice getting all thick and emotional and he'd feel guilty about it if he didn't feel like such shit himself.
What does he want? The same damn thing everyone wants. The chance to be with someone who knows you, who really knows you, the good and the bad, and still wants to be with you.
"I want you to want to hang out with me at 1pm, not 1am," he says finally, scrubbing his hand along his scalp.
She dips her head briefly and then looks up at him about to say something (his stupid heart starts pounding) when her phone sounds. She hits ignore without looking at it, but the moment is gone.
"Curfew?" he asks.
She sighs. "Yes. Noah, I don't want to leave it like this. Will you be at Mike's on Friday?" she asks.
Her phone sounds again and she makes a face, but answers and tells her dads that she's on her way. He walks her to the front door and watches her drive off. When he turns to head back up the stairs, his mother pops out of the kitchen and catches his eye.
"Don't get your hopes up," he warns.
(Like that's worked so well for him.)
He's at Mike's for maybe ten minutes before she grabs him, hauls him into a bedroom and pushes him down into a chair, and it kind of feels like deja-vu only it doesn't look like she's trying to sex him up and despite everything he's totally got mixed feelings about that.
"You wanted to know why I wanted to keep things simple," she says, pacing nervously. "The thing is, I didn't really understand it myself. I haven't spent a lot of time analyzing this, which I'm sure you'll recognize is in marked contrast to my last two relationships. And I have to admit, Noah, I liked that about us. Jesse made all sort of assumptions about our relationship and his convictions were so strong that I bought into those assumptions when I shouldn't have. And with Finn, I was always working so hard to be the person I thought he wanted."
"Rach," he shifts uncomfortably on the chair, and she perches on the bed opposite and kind of pins him into place with her eyes.
"With you, I've just been enjoying myself, and it's been fun and easy and natural, and I let that ease fool me into thinking that we didn't have to talk about anything. And we did...we do. That was my mistake, but you made mistakes too."
His gut twists. That apology is way overdue. "Rachel, shit, I'm sorry about what I said at the beach. About embarrassing you. And about making you think that this was some stupid game."
She smiles a little. "I appreciate that. Next time though, I hope you'll talk to me before you reach that level of frustration."
"Next time?" he asks, but he's not really waiting for an answer, instead he slides over to join her on the bed and he can feel her all along the side of his body. Feels good.
Biting her lip, she looks up at him through her lashes. "If you want. I thought maybe we could debut our relationship with everyone tonight. And then if you like, Daddy always makes blueberry pancakes on Saturday mornings. It's kind of a big production because it's literally the only thing he knows how to cook. You could come over and meet them again." She takes his hand and links his fingers with hers. "And I'm not sure if you know this, but when I stopped by your house your mother invited me over for dinner on Sunday night. She's making potato knishes."
He laughs outright at that, and she makes a cute little face. "Too much?"
Lifting his hand up to her face, he traces his thumb along her cheek bone. "No. Perfect. I'm in and we're totally going to do all of that." She slides a hand to his thigh and he has to bite back a groan. "It's just I was thinking...and don't kill me for this...I was thinking we could wait another five minutes to tell everyone. Since we've got this empty room and it's been days since I kissed you and all."
She giggles and tilts his face up to his. "We could do that. Only are you sure you aren't going to want ten?"
Yeah, she's pretty awesome that way. And when she walks out of the bedroom twenty minutes later, all flushed and sparkling and holding his hand, he's not inclined to let her go.
A/N: Based on a prompt from the PuckRachel Drabble meme: "I want you to want to hang out with me at 1pm, not 1am." Thank you so much for reading. I hope you enjoyed it and I'd love to know what you think!