The Blackout Stroll

Part 1 - The First Stage of Joy: Discovery.

Summary: It's the year 1940 in war-time Britain, and Rachel Berry meets the enchanting green-eyed Noah Puckerman. But joy comes in three stages: the discovery, the departure and the return.

A small sphere of light slid onto the pavement, the lamp above covered tightly with material to prevent this beacon from turning deadly. Rachel Berry pulled her velvet coat over her shoulders, the white material stark against the imminent darkness - yet another procedure to halt Hitler's advance.

The hall in front of her permitted no light to escape, but her ears strained to pick up the slight hum of music - of course, she could notice music anywhere, being the renowned singer she was, even in these unstable times. A door was pulled back for her, and she lifted her skirts as she climbed the one step, two steps, onto the polished wooden floors. Inside, the room was dim, although one could argue that it was mood lighting, for such an occasion as this. The band struck up a melodious tune and she could almost imagine herself singing along... Stop it! Rachel internally argued, You are here tonight to meet up with Quinn and Santana, and to have fun. Just as she turned to make her way to the bar, the two girls in question came towards her, Santana sauntering and Quinn bouncing joyfully, smiles illuminating their faces.

"Well there you are, and about time too," Santana laughed, before eyeing up her outfit, "Lovely choice. Maybe the Hudson boy will finally notice you."

Rachel rolled her eyes, and shrugged nonchalantly, "Quinn can have him. I need a man who is both emotionally and intelligently challenging."

Quinn gave her a surprised look, "What's with the sudden change, Rachel? You've been pining over him for a long time now, and suddenly you're over him?"

"Like I said, not intelligently challenging. And his lack of musical talent bores me."

Santana frowned, but decided not to breach the subject any further as she lead her friends up to the dance floor, their coats already hung up and their eyes automatically searching the crowd of eligible men.

Rachel walked confidently, although masking her hesistancy. There was no doubt in her mind that she had finally moved on from Finn Hudson, but it has been so long since she was unattached - both physically and mentally. The band seemed to come to a crescendo as someone announced the start of the dancing, but Rachel found herself content in watching the pairs come together joyously and begun to watch.

Joy... it was an illustrious feeling for her; the feeling of pure joy - mixed with love - was something that she had never experienced with a passion. Of course, she had believed that Finn was her one and only, but she had come to understand that sometimes... dreams could feel just as sincere as reality.

She watched Finn offer Quinn his hand and in the corner of her eye Santana sauntered up to a blonde hair, tall man she knew to be Samuel Evans. The music lulled her into a calmness, and the night went on...

Across the room, a pair of green eyes met hers. He was alone, his olive skin looking warm into the light and he tilted his head; an invitation. Before she could second guess herself, her dainty hand gestured to the seat beside her as she sent a smile to him. His hands slipped into his pockets as he made his way towards her, looking more appealing every second.

Rachel wasn't wanton, not at all, but her mother had made it clear that at the age of twenty-five, it was perfectly acceptable that she should be looking for an elligible husband. Suddenly, this thought flew into her mind, but she brushed it away, it was certainly jumping to conclusions if her thoughts turned to this even before they had spoken to each other.

He was halfway towards her when he was interrupted by another girl, at whom he smiled and whirled onto the dance floor, not giving her another glance. Rachel turned away, unable to watch him anymore. She knew that it was silly, but she felt disappointed. Rachel wished she knew his name.

Barely ten minutes later, Quinn and Santana retired from the dance floor and came to sit by Rachel, their faces flushed with excitement.

"Got your eyes on a fine piece of man yet?" Santana asked, straight off the bat. Subtlety was not one of her gifts.

Rachel laughed, but shook her head, ignoring the pulse in the back of her head. The green eyed man.

"Shame," Quinn sighed.

Rachel turned to Santana, "And what about this Samuel boy?"

Santana just winked, which sent the three of them into peals of laughter.

When the time began to creep towards 10 o' clock, an announcer invited them all to the dance floor for the latest dance, rightly named The Blackout Stroll. The instructions were simple: Take four steps forward, and then three short steps. After this, the lights would flick out, and you would find another partner in the blackout.

The dance is simple enough, and Rachel came upon many men that she could comfortably pursue, but she cursed the green eyed man, because all the men seemed to pale comparison to him and she found herself disinterested. He was merely... a life ruiner. He's a life ruiner.

The music continues, and all the colours seem to spin around her as she takes one, two three, four steps forward, laughs and footsteps echoing in her ears, they taunt her happiness. Her heels tap the floor, three quick steps, coming closer and closer to the edge of her night; to what seems like the edge of her happiness. The lights flick off, plunging the hall into darkness, her arm coming up to reach out in front of her.

She feels a warmth on her palm and a calloused grip as the lights come on again, bringing her to face a pair of green eyes... the green eyed man.

"Hi," she whispers.

She expects the music to continue but it slows down; the last dance. Rachel can't take it and she turns around to leave, but a hand on her arm stops her in her tracks.

"I'm sorry," he says, every letter fluttering up her spine. Her head drops and she sucks in a breath.

"One dance?" he pleads, his lips suddenly at her ear, sending a shiver coursing through her veins.

She gives in.

His hand finds hers and his other hand slides down her body to rest on her hip, finding the intimate curve of her waist and one smouldering look from him begins a pulsing deep in her stomach; igniting a fire. He's drawn her in, her body curved up against his, and suddenly the music and noise around them fades away and she can feel the electricity crackling between them.

"My name's Noah, Noah Puckerman."

"I'm Rachel Berry," she says, finding her resolve melting under his gaze.

"I'm sorry about before," he starts, his voice coming quicker, "I was coming over to sit with you, and I was excited about it, but that's my sister, Danielle, and I haven't seen her in two years. She took a trip abroad to America, but now she's back... I had plans of coming to find you but I didn't want to interrupt you and your friends. Can you forgive me?"

Rachel lets out a breath she didn't know she was holding, and her lips curve up into a brief smile, "Okay?"

Noah sighs, understanding her hesitation, "Can we start again?"

Rachel relents, "I'm sure you're better than I was lead to believe. It's a pleasure to meet you."

Noah laughs, his voice lowering, "The pleasure is all mine."

And so they spin.

Outside, a chill bites at her neck, so she tugs her cloak closer, with her free hand. Her other is tightly gripped in Noah's.

As her small house looms before her, she regrets that she hasn't walked slower.

"I'll have to see you again," he promises.

She nods, eager.

His cologne spins around her small frame as his lips brush hers, her heart pounding so hard she thinks he should be able to hear it.

As his silhouette recedes into the darkness, she smiles. And joy? She's finally discovering it.

To Be Continued!

Facts: The Blackout Stroll is an actual dance, which was from the time of the Blitz. Women wore their coats, which had white lining so when walking out at night, they could turn them inside out to aid cars because both headlights and streetlights (as pointed out in the story) were reduced to tiny slits to stop the possiblity of the German bombers to see the lights and begin their attack.

If there are any mistakes or you have any constructive critiscm for me, then go ahead and tell me (: A link to the banner for this part will be on my profile.

Go on, flame me, I dare you!

Zoe. x