Author's Note: Like the summary says, this story is dedicated to one of my reviewers on Beauty and the Beast and Finn, Kim-Anadrade32593. She gave me a small prompt, basically saying "smut" and a particular scene from the movie The Notebook and this is what happened. It was meant to be a oneshot, but I am learning that brevity isn't always key (as you might be able to tell from this lengthy note). I'm obsessed with finishing this so I can't imagine it is going to take me long to write the next two parts. But, as always, reviews make me write faster. So, just sayin'. Haha.
Disclaimer: Read profile. Don't sue.
Rachel Berry walked down the busy streets of New York, swinging her purse merrily even as she bumped into random strangers on her way home. She repressed the urge to skip only because she knew it would alarm her fellow commuters, though her 1,000-watt smile wasn't exactly branding her as the sanest person on the sidewalk. Mothers shooed their children away from Rachel's path as she walked, and the homeless guy on the corner actually waved to her as if they were the best of friends. Granted, she'd given him money before and sometimes some food, but they weren't exactly gossiping over their mutual friends by the water cooler or splitting a meal at the latest hot spot.
No, Rachel didn't work with the man with more teeth missing than he had. She worked on Broadway. She practically squealed at the thought, an extra bounce in her step when she swung open the apartment building's door and strolled into the stairwell. She'd gotten the call an hour earlier when she'd been at a dance class nearby, and aside from everyone without a two mile radius that likely heard her blood-curdling scream of joy, no one knew the goods news. Not yet, anyway, she thought happily when she reached the eighth floor and walked down the hallway to her and Kurt's apartment.
She pulled out her keys and unlocked all four locks, bounding through the door as best she could after such a trying process. The living room was completely vacant, only the sounds from the street below echoing through the open windows into the small apartment. Her and Kurt had lived together for the past three years, after her two-year housing requirement at Julliard was officially lifted. It wasn't much, and certainly not the dazzling living space she had imagined whenever she dreamed of living in the city, but it had certainly grown on her. It was quaint and pest free, the most amazing café was right downstairs across the street, and living with Kurt was like having the brother she never knew she wanted.
After Kurt had left McKinley in junior year, Rachel and him really started to get close. It took him going away for her to realize how much he meant to her, which was ironic because it turned out the opposite had been true of her and his stepbrother. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, but every day after her and Finn's terrible breakup right before Christmas, Rachel felt stronger. Junior year had been tough academically, but Rachel really rose to the occasion and really started to shine not just in the classroom and her extra-curricular activities but socially, as well. Maybe it was the regime change after Karofsky and Santana stopped all the bullying in order to get Kurt back, but the air around the school completely changed. There were still cliques and such, of course, but slowly everyone started to get along with everyone else at least in some capacity.
And then they went to Nationals and … well Rachel saw her future and making nice in Lima didn't really matter anymore. They'd placed twelfth that year after a rather inappropriate kiss shared between her and Finn shocked the audience and the judges enough that she was pretty sure they hadn't heard their second song. It wasn't fair, really, and she still wasn't over it, but at least New Directions had proved everyone wrong the next year. Rachel and Kurt sung a duet, so not only was there no kissing but they also spent their entire senior year practicing it. The group number, also an original song, was finally a group effort and it too had been prepared and perfected months prior to the competition in Chicago. All the hard word was worth it the second Mr. Schuester raised the first place trophy over his head, approximately one week before almost the entire original group graduated high school.
Graduation had been the epitome of their high school experience. More than homecoming, more than prom, even more than senior skip day. When each one of them walked across the stage to accept their diploma and Principal Figgins was drowned out by the cheers of the fellow glee clubbers … it really proved just how far the group had come in their three years together. Despite all the heartache and the drama and the ups and downs, they banded together and formed a bond that was still unbreakable for some. Then they went to the huge graduation party afterward and tested those bonds to their utmost degree.
Dinner later? Text me.
Rachel smiled at the note Kurt left under a fresh glass of purified water. She was against bottled water because of its environmental ramifications and Kurt hated those attachments for the sink, so they settled for one of those Brita pitchers even though Rachel demanded room temperature water after any performance. She wasn't sure when Kurt left the apartment, but the water was the perfect drinking temperature, and she tipped the glass back to take a small drink even as she whipped out her cell phone and sprouted off a quick text.
You pick the place. I have big news!
Rachel giggled even as she hit send, knowing he hated it when she used multiple punctuation marks. It was the texting equivalent to skipping, though, and she didn't think twice about it when in the privacy of the digital world. Walking out of the kitchen and down the hall to her room, Rachel pushed the door open and was unsurprised when the familiar bars of Defying Gravity sprang from the phone still nestled in her right hand. She hummed along to the song for a few moments before answering with an equally nonverbal vibration of her voice.
"What do you mean you have big news?"
"I refuse to spoil the secret over the telephone, Kurt. This is important to me and I demand to see your reaction when I reveal my exciting news."
"So it's something good." She rolled her eyes when he ignored her wishes, still trying to figure out what she had to tell. "Can Blaine and Finn come to dinner? I'm over at their place waiting for the cable guy since they're both at work."
"Of course. The more the merrier."
"Mkay. Let's just meet at the usual spot since it's halfway. Eight good?"
Rachel looked to her bedside table at her alarm clock and saw that would give her two hours to get ready and go. She seriously needed to shower thanks to the stifling dance studio and she had to call her fathers and tell them the news, too. She agreed on a hum and they both hung up, Rachel heading to the bathroom first. It was dinnertime for her fathers anyway given their age and the time difference, so the shower thankfully was allowed to come first. She switched her iPhone to her iPod, turning the volume all the way up on her shower playlist and ignoring the itch she had to text Mercedes the news.
Her fathers needed to know first. Then Kurt and obviously Blaine and Finn. After that Rachel would tell Mercedes, and then it would basically spread like a brushfire after that. While some things had most definitely changed since high school, Mercedes being a gossip was not one of them. In fact, Rachel still wasn't sure how the full-figure girl had managed to keep her relationship with Sam back in high school a secret for as long as she did. Rachel was one of the firsts to know and she still hadn't found out until homecoming. She had planned on reviving their prom on a budget idea, approaching them early because Finn had been breathing down her neck about her plans far earlier than she expected. Rachel didn't want to hurt the tall teen's feelings, so she was trying desperately to make other plans. Then Mercedes admitted that her and Sam were going together, but not as friends.
Rachel had settled for going with Kurt and Blaine, which wasn't much of an excuse not to be with Finn on the surface but ended up being a blessing in disguise after Karofosky won homecoming king and in front of everyone asked for a redo from last year's prom and danced with Kurt. To say the school was in shock was an understatement, but none was less pleased with the development as Blaine, who had transferred schools just to be with Kurt. Rachel spent the entire night after that dance with Blaine, and managed to patch things up enough that the couple lasted until right before Christmas. She still thought there was something about that time of the year that just caused bad things to happen.
That was all in the past now, though. Kurt and Dave had become friends and secretly made out during the infamous graduation part, but that was it. Now, Klaine was officially back on and had been for almost two years. Kurt had been back in Lima during the summer between his junior and senior year at NYU and they'd bumped into each other at the same coffee shop they used to always go to. Four specialty drinks and eight hours later, they left the coffee shop and made plans to keep in touch even though Kurt lived in New York and Blaine was in Washington D.C. Keeping in touch was code for dating long distance, and a year later at Kurt's college graduation party back in Lima, Blaine announced that he was moving to New York.
It was the same party where Finn and Rachel ultimately got back together, after five years of carefully keeping each other in the friends zone. Her and Finn had stayed close through phone calls and email, but they spent much of their college years apart. They both needed that time to grow up separately, and she reasoned that the individual growth was vital to bringing them back together. It had nothing to do with the absence of a certain Mohawked boy. By that time, Rachel had given up on him, just like he'd given up on them long before.
Rachel and Finn's reunion was received with mixed reviews. Most of the former glee clubbers sighed in general disinterest or muttered something about third time's a charm or how they'd waited long enough. Mr. and Mrs. Hummel were thrilled, even more so when Finn tacked himself onto Blaine's moving arrangements and the two partnered up as roommates. Kurt and Mercedes were skeptical, and Rachel's fathers were more than a little concerned.
It wasn't that Leroy or Hiram didn't like Finn. They thought he was a good man with a big heart. He'd graduated with an education degree from Ohio University and he landed a job teaching P.E. at an elementary school in Brooklyn almost a month after deciding to move to New York. He wasn't the same scared, unfocused young man he was back in high school, and for that they were thankful. They also knew how much Finn cared for their daughter, as they witnessed plenty of pining during that senior year and then never really seeing it go away during those years apart in college. However, their argument wasn't necessarily that Finn was wrong for their little girl. It was more that he wasn't right.
He wasn't Noah.
Rachel stepped out of the shower, blaming her sudden shortness of breath on the steam locked in the small room. She wrapped a towel around herself and then rested both of her palms flat on the surface of the sink, her head sagging low and her eyes closing in meditation. It was easier said than done when Lady Gaga's Edge of Glory was blaring from her phone. Not only was it a fast, upbeat song that didn't exactly scream relaxing, but it was also basically the anthem of the summer before college – the summer of Puckleberry.
The small device cut the loud song short, replacing it with the theme song to the late 80s sitcom My Two Dads. It had started out as a joke in glee club, one day the group daring each other to find the most obscure ringtone they could apply to an individual on their contact list. Artie had Brittany's ringtone set as the Gummi Bears theme song, Santana had a clip of squirrels having sex for Finn, and Puck had almost won with a crazy clipped ringtone he used for Lauren of Shrek demanding the receiver to pick up the phone. The group ruled him to be ineligible after Lauren grabbed the phone and threw it against the choir room wall, effectively ending their relationship and the new record he'd been working on regarding how long it had been since he had to replace his phone or his phone number. After that joke gone terribly wrong, he had to do both.
"I was just about to call you!"
"That's what they all say," Hiram joked softly, taking her immediate protests in stride. "How are you, baby girl?"
"I'm fabulous, Daddy. I have wonderful news!"
"We have news, too." He cleared his throat, his tone lower the second time out. "And, um, you might not think it is wonderful."
"What is it, Daddy? Is everything alright? Is it you? Father? Do I need to come home?"
"No, no, everything's fine, dear. We're fine."
Rachel heard some rustling on the other side of the phone and then somehow understood that Leroy had picked up the other house phone and was now in on the conversation. She quickly calculated how long it would take her to get to the airport and fly into Toledo, wondering how it would look for the new girl to already demand time off. Like she didn't already have a reputation for being a diva. She rushed to her room, scouring the area for her carryon bag before her father's voice penetrating her ears.
"Rachel, honey," Leroy began, "Noah is back."
Her knees instantly gave out, her body landing heavily onto her mattress. She had gasped in response to her fathers' news and it was the last breath she took for a good two minutes. In that two minutes, though - as her fathers spoke in tandem about the circumstances up until their phone call - that entire summer before college flashed through Rachel's mind. She had to shut her eyes just to stop the onslaught of the powerful memories from turning into a full-fledged aneurysm, forcing herself to focus on the present and not the past.
"I-I'm glad he's safe."
"Right, well …" Even in the silence she could hear her fathers debate who should be the one to tell her the next part. Clearly Hiram drew the short straw, a heavy breath escaping as he continued. "The reason we called was not just because he stopped by here, but … he's on his way there."
"Excuse me?" She had to have an aneurysm because she just swore she heard her dad say that Noah was coming to New York. "Please tell me there means Afghanistan or … or … wherever Marines end up going these days!"
"Honey, calm down." Leroy was the less emotional of her two fathers – the enforcer, as he became known among Rachel's friends. He cared about Rachel just as much as Hiram and had seen the aftermath of that summer just the same, but he always approached situations from a logical standpoint. If she had to guess, she would assume he was the better lawyer. Hiram knew the value of a pint of ice cream and crying things out, which was probably why he'd grown suddenly quiet. He knew how much pain Rachel would be in, as he'd seen the heartache a bit more closely than his partner. "It might be good for you two to see each other again. It's been five years."
Like she didn't know. It was almost five years to the date, one that she remembered more because of how it had ended and not because two weeks after had been the start of her new beginning. She often wondered, especially now, how things might have been different if she'd just accepted Finn's original offer back at Nationals instead of deciding to continue to focus on herself and her career. Would she and Noah still have become such good friends during senior year? Would they still have ended up alone at that graduation party? Would they have hurt each other so badly that neither of them talked to one another since both left Lima five years ago?
"You need some closure, sweetie," Hiram finally chimed in, his voice soothing. "Especially now that you've decided to commit yourself entirely to Finn, it's time to put the past to bed."
Rachel nodded, inhaling a shaky breath. "You're right, Daddy. Of course, you're right." She pushed aside all her anxiety for approximately thirty seconds, telling her fathers that she would call them tomorrow and tell them all the news but she had plans to meet Kurt for dinner and needed to get in touch with him so they could re-arrange the plans to accommodate Noah's arrival. They seemed hesitant but receptive to the thought that she wouldn't be alone, ending the call by telling her that given Noah's departure time and his lead foot, he'd probably arrive at her doorstep in approximately one hour, give or take.
Cancel dinner. Come home. Don't tell anyone.
The text was a bit dramatic, but Rachel didn't have time to think about properly wording her request. She needed Kurt, and she needed him not to give away his urgency to Blaine or Finn. She wasn't sure which was more important. Much like the first time, she knew she wouldn't be able to get through this situation without Kurt, and she was just happy to know that even though he was Finn's brother that she was her friend first. He'd told her that once, anyway, and she was pretty sure she was about to test that theory.
He was being optimistic given it was a nearly twenty minute walk from Finn and Blaine's apartment and just as long if not longer by cab, but then again Rachel knew better than to doubt him. Kurt was like a superhero when it came to high-drama situations and she wouldn't be surprised if he donned a cape and flew home. She let the towel fall from her body and quickly changed, convincing herself to dress as normally as she ever would and not pay extra attention to the fact that it might be the first outfit Noah has seen on her for five years. She went back into the bathroom and piled her damp hair high on her head, flinching when she heard the apartment door slam shut and Kurt's high-pitched yell echo through the walls.
His steps were as loud and urgent as his voice, Kurt walking past the bathroom and almost falling when he tried to stop too quickly after seeing her in his periphery. He squared his shoulders and looked at her up and down, his eyebrows knitting together when she physically looked fine. No broken limbs, no bleeding, no tear stains. This was serious.
"My fathers called. Noah is back, and apparently he is on his way here." She was surprised by how calmly the sentence came out because inside her mind was screaming. It was telling her that it only became a big deal if she made it one, but then her heart butted in and started screaming, too. Pretty soon her entire body was in knots while the two vastly different sides dealt with the turmoil being created, and she felt lightheaded again now without the steam the blame.
"I'm assuming by the 911 text that we don't have a lot of time to weigh the pros and cons?" Rachel shook her head, breathing in through her nose and out through her mouth as they moved from the bathroom/hallway to the living room. "Wh-what does he want?"
"I don't know." Her voice was so low, so unsteady that she hated herself. She hated that five years later he could do this to her. "He visited my dad's early this morning and asked about me. They told him I was here and then, I guess, he left."
Kurt sighed dreamily and Rachel groaned in response. "Sorry!" He amended quickly. "Got caught up." He beat his thumbs against his knees nervously and offhandedly she observed that it was something he'd picked up from Finn. "So what's the plan?"
"That's what I need you for, Kurt!" She shouted as she sprung from the couch, her arms flailing out as she did so. Clearly she was past the point of remaining calm. "I'm sorry if this puts you in a terrible position, but I have less than an hour to figure out what I'm going to say or do when he shows up on our doorstep and frankly I don't think I could have been prepared if we'd set up the date and time five years ago before he left."
Kurt bowed his head on a nod, not wanting her to see the pity that she knew filtered into his eyes when her voice turned desperate. They were both back to that first year at college. Kurt was at NYU and Rachel was at Julliard, but they still talked to each other every day and saw each other at least twice a week if not more like four or five times. Junior year of high school they had sang together on the Wicked stage and dreamed of coming back, but less than two years later their dreams had come true and yet hadn't at the same time. Kurt no longer had Blaine, and Rachel no longer had the blind determination she had earlier. In three short months she had changed her dreams from revolving around New York to dreaming of sharing her dreams in New York with the man she loved. And then, the magic carpet was ripped out from under her and it took her a whole year to really get her footing back.
Kurt's ringing phone cut through both of their trips down memory lane, Rachel watching his face and seeing it contort just so that she knew it was Finn. He used the same We Are Family ringtone for anyone who fit into that category, which he'd once told her included her but For Good was their song for him and he wasn't going to change it. Kurt looked up at her and she nodded for him to answer. She trusted him to handle the situation with care, and definitely knew he could pull it off better than she could.
"Hey, Finn," Kurt answered cheerily. "Yep. Cable's all fixed. You and Blaine have your precious sports package."
She rolled her eyes and continued listening to the one-sided conversation. He left out all the original plans about meeting for dinner as a group and instead changed it to a guy's night of sorts. Kurt had big plans for their parents' anniversary this year, and Finn knew better than to point out the fact that it was still months away and he didn't care in the first place. Plus, since it was all centered on a trip back to Lima for Thanksgiving – Finn's favorite holiday after Christmas - he did care.
"No, she's not back yet. I'm sure she'll text you when she has a break. Her dance class usually wraps up a little late, and then I think she said she was going to hang out with a few of the girls tonight." Kurt nodded a few more times to let Rachel know she was in the clear. "Yep. Meet you there in a few."
Rachel frowned deeply as Kurt ended the phone call, slowly dragging his eyes back up to her. "I'm sorry to make you do this, Kurt."
"You're my girl." He shrugged emptily, easing her mind at least in regards to being a terrible friend. The terrible fiancé label was another story. "Even if you are about to ruin what was going to be the easiest transition from boyfriend to roommate ever."
"Nothing has changed, Kurt." For the first time since she first talked to him, her voice held some power, some strength. "Blaine and I will still switch apartments at the beginning of the year."
"Then why are you so upset?"
Rachel sagged her head, wishing she had an answer that was acceptable. Maybe if she had the whole night to go over every single reason Noah made her nervous, but she didn't. The ticking of the wall clock indicated she quite possibly only had another half hour. Besides, what she deemed an acceptable answer wouldn't exactly sound favorable out loud. In a word, she was upset because it was Noah.
"Make sure to text Finn. I'm going to head out. I'll stay over there tonight and make sure Finn does, too." Kurt stood from the couch and walked back to his room. He went into the bathroom for a moment and then came back into the living room. He placed his hands over hers that were wringing in front of her and waited until she lifted her eyes to meet his. "And promise me one thing?" She immediately nodded her head and he smiled. "Don't have sex in my room."
"Kurt!" She chastised loudly, ripping her hands out of his grip so she could swat at him. "That's an absolutely appalling thought. I love Finn."
"You love Puck, too."
She inhaled a ragged breath, making sure her eyes stayed true even if she felt them fill up with tears. "That's in the past. I'm focused on the future now."
Kurt nodded solemnly and then vanished, the apartment eerily quiet as she stood in the middle of the living room just waiting. It reminded her exactly of how she felt seconds after the last time her and Noah spoke, the memory surprisingly clear. She had done a lot in an effort to erase all those memories, or at least push them far enough back that she could keep on living her life, but now that he was at the forefront of her mind again, it seemed the memories flashed back, too.
Puck's tongue slid across Rachel's as they kissed passionately on her bed, half-filled boxes all around them. He'd come over to help her pack and, as per usual, they just ended up making out in her room. His hand was dangerously high on her thigh and hers were hidden underneath his shirt, running up and down his toned chest. Her door was open as required, but the difference between that night and all the others was that her fathers were out of town, so there was no chance at the two teens being caught.
Her legs spread on their own accord and Puck instantly nestled himself between them, ripping his lips from hers to breathe. She gasped when he started trailing kisses down her jaw and neck, her hands moving to explore the contours of his back. She pulled him closer and he rocked his hips into her in response. Her breath hitched and she lifted her hips up in reflex, her legs lifting and securing themselves around his waist. He rolled into her again and they matched one another thrust for thrust for a minute or so before it became too much.
"W-we can't, Noah."
"Why the fuck not?" He growled, pulling his torso away from her so he could look into her eyes but keeping his lower body pressed against her. He knew she had trouble thinking clearly when they were like this, and she was fairly certain he was keeping contact on purpose.
"Two weeks, Noah. Two weeks and I'll be in New York and we can be together and …"
"I'm not going to New York with you."
"I know that, but you can visit and we can communicate long distance until you pick your grades up at the community college and then transfer to a school in New York and …"
His words made no sense to her, nor did the way he detached himself from her. He was all the way on the opposite end of the bed now, Rachel knitting her eyebrows together in confusion as she lifted onto her elbows. Her hands moved to her stomach to move her shirt back in place, her knees closing so he couldn't see under her skirt like she imagined he could from his new spot.
"What does that mean?"
"It means I ship out Monday." He didn't look at her, just pushed a box off her bed so he could scoot a little further away. "I joined the Marine Corps."
She stared blankly, still unsure. "What … I mean … how … where …. When did you do this?"
"A few weeks ago."
She gasped. "How could you do that without telling me?"
"I knew if I told you you'd just freak out, like you're doing."
She scoffed as she moved off the bed, needing the space to pace around. Why did everyone she knew refuse to understand that an omission of the truth was the same as lying? Rachel had plans for her and Noah, plans that had been unexpected but completely welcome after the summer they had together. She had fallen in love with him, probably during the course of their senior year, and they threw caution to the wind to be together and now … now he was just giving it all up.
"I can't just follow you to New York, B. And … well I think I could do the military thing. Ma says it will be good for me."
His mother knew about this? Who else knew? What she again the last to find out? It was all so much like the Finn/Santana thing that she couldn't breathe. Their were a million little images flashing in her mind of their magical summer together and she like they were fading away with each passing second.
"What about us?" He shrugged helplessly and Rachel felt her resolve break. Tears cascaded down her cheek, and she finally understood what Finn meant last year when he'd told her that he never thought she'd hurt him like she did. "Please leave. Just … leave."
Rachel flinched, the loud knocking startling her out of the flashback. She whirled around to face the back wall and she saw that she'd wasted all her time thinking about the past that the future had become the present. She took one tentative step and then another, slowly making her way to the door at the exact moment the person on the other side started knocking again, this time louder. Her hands lifted to smooth her hair down and away from her face, and she took a deep breath before unlocking the four locks and turning the doorknob counterclockwise. She used the frame as support when he came into view, looking past the muscles and the modernly vintage T-shirt and focusing on his face. He looked completely the same but strikingly different, his name falling off her lips in a mix between a sigh and a sob.