Come Over – Kenny Chesney

I turn the tv off, to turn it on again
Staring at the blades of the fan as it spins around
Counting every crack, the clock is wide awake
Talking to myself, anything to make a sound

Rachel's fingers tightened around the bottles she had just picked up when she felt her back pocket begin to vibrate. It was just minutes from two a.m. on a Tuesday night (Wednesday morning). She didn't need to look at the phone to know who was calling. She cradled the beer bottles in her right hand against her body so that she could manage to wrap the fingers of her left hand around their necks, in addition to the ones she already held with that hand. She fished the phone out of her pocket, knowing that she had only a couple seconds before the call went to voicemail. A voice inside her head said she should just let it go, but, because she felt guilty, or because she had no will power, or maybe because it would be an all-too-apt metaphor for actually letting go (which even she didn't believe she had done, despite her many protests to the contrary), she tapped the screen without even looking at it to answer the call. "Noah," she sighed, and she pushed down the flood of memories of the hundreds (thousands?) of other times she had sighed his name.

"I can't sleep."

"Noah," she sighed again, not quite exasperated, more sad than anything. "We can't … I mean I can't … We just can't keep doing this."

"I haven't slept in like, three days Rachel." Her heart clenched at the unspoken 'And I didn't call the last two.' "I gotta get some fuckin' sleep. Please." She sat in one of the chairs at the table she had just finished clearing, setting down the bottles she had been on the way to throw away and cringing when one of them clattered loudly to the floor.

"Noah …" She repeated his name. And she knew that she hadn't said much else so far, but it was two in the morning and she had been working since four that afternoon, and now he was calling and asking her to come over and she was exhausted. (And not just physically. She'd been emotionally drained for weeks. These phone calls certainly did nothing to help that.)

"Please." She could swear she heard his voice crack. And no one would believe her if she said it aloud, but then no one knew him quite like she did,

Rachel dropped her forehead into her free hand and pressed her thumb and middle finger into her temples. It was a bad idea. It was a horrible, awful, destructive idea. She should finish cleaning her tables, wrap up her sidework (salt and pepper shakers tonight, thank goodness, marrying ketchup bottles was just such a messy job) and go slip as quietly as possible into Laura's guest room.

"It'll be about 30 minutes," she finally breathed into the phone.

"Thank you." She squeezed her eyes tight and tried to ignore the way the whispered words sounded so coarse and raw.

Rachel jumped when a hip bumped her shoulder, pulling her back to earth. She tried not to look annoyed when she looked up into the grinning face of her co-worker. "Booty call, Broadway? Nice."

She didn't even bother to try to correct the other girl. It would take far too much time and energy, and honestly, probably wouldn't change her misconception anyway. (It didn't help that she wouldn't be able to convincingly assert that the night wouldn't end in sex, since it's hard to tell a lie you don't believe yourself.) To be honest, she wished it was a 'booty call.' It would be much simpler, far less painful for both of them, that way.

"Excuse me, Taylor," she bent under the table to retrieve the empty bottle from beside the girl's foot. When she came back up, she saw her co-worker and kinda-maybe-friend looking around the area, appraising Rachel's tables.

"You're 'bout done here, huh?"

"Well, yes, I just need to -,"

"What's your side tonight?"

"Umm, salt and pepper. Why?"

"Gimme that," Taylor took a step toward Rachel and grabbed for the bottles in her hands, easily gripping all five of them in the long fingers of one hand. "I got you." She shooed at Rachel with her free hand. "Sounds like you got someone waiting. Go on."

"Oh no," Rachel reached to take the bottles back, "that's not -,"

"You already cash out with John?"

"Yes. My last tab closed out about 15 minutes ago."

"Then out you go." The perky blonde turned Rachel with one hand on her shoulder then patted her butt. "I'll finish you up here." Rachel could feel the other girl right behind her. "Just make sure you have some fun for me." She was close enough for her breath to move Rachel's hair when she punctuated the statement with a giggle, but when Rachel spun on her heel to protest again, Taylor was halfway to the kitchen.

I told you I wouldn't call, I told you I wouldn't care
But baby climbing the walls gets me nowhere
I don't think that I can take this bed getting any colder
Come over, come over, come over, come over, come over

Rachel used the key she knew she needed to give back (and she had tried, but he had refused to take it – maybe this time she would just leave it on the table or something when she left) to let herself into thei- his apartment and heard him in the kitchen.

"I was makin' you some tea." He spoke to her without turning from the microwave as she stood in the doorway. "You prob'ly wanna let it cool a little." He lifted one shoulder as he pulled her mug from the microwave. "You're earlier than I expected." He spooned a scoop of sugar into the cup and poured in just a touch of soy milk from the small carton she hadn't noticed until just then before finally turning to face her. "You were workin'." She nodded and watched his eyes scan her body. She knew was noticing her jeans. When she had started at the sports bar where she now spent most of her nights, the service manager had simply answered, 'Look cute,' when Rachel asked about dress code. She had learned very quickly that she would have to amend her idea of 'cute' (and not for the reasons Kurt used to harass her about) to include far more pants and fewer (no) skirts. Noah had come in with a couple friends on her first night of work to support her, and she very nearly lost her job and had to bail her boyfriend out of jail because of one of those skirts. She went shopping the next day and invested in a few pairs of jeans especially for work.

"Don't usually work Tuesdays." It was a simple observation, not particularly emotional, and the contrast of the way the statement sounded compared to the way he had sounded on the phone was striking.

"I kind of need the money." She slid her palms over her jeans at her hips. She hated the way they always seemed to sweat when she was with him now. "And I didn't have anything else to do." She tucked just the ends of her fingers into her pockets and shrugged, hoping to pull off nonchalance but knowing she was probably failing miserably.

Puck's eyes widened and he took a step away from the counter, starting to reach for her. "B, if you need help-,"

"Don't." She shook her head and lowered her eyes to study the pattern of the linoleum – a pattern she was more than familiar with. "Please … just don't." She lifted her head when she heard him take a step back. He pulled the tea bag from her mug then dropped it into the sink and made his way to her, cradling the mug in both hands.

"Prob'ly good now." She knew his eyes were fixed on hers, even while they stared straight ahead and landed on his collarbone. She didn't think she could speak when he was that close to her, so she just nodded and accepted the cup from him, trying to ignore the tingling that started in her stomach and spread outward when he gently, deliberately ran his thumb over the inside of her wrist. "I'm just gonna go …" he jerked his thumb over his shoulder toward the living room and she nodded.

Rachel let him get a few steps away before she turned to follow him, carrying the mug carefully with both hands. When she got to the living room, she found him slouched on the couch, long legs stretched leisurely in front of him and hands folded on top of his stomach. The television was on what looked to be Nick-at-Nite with the volume so low she could hardly hear it. She tucked herself into the armchair that used to sit in his mother's living room in Lima, pulling one foot under herself and finally taking a careful sip of her tea. "It's good. Thank you." He only nodded and watched her set it on the end table after another small sip.

She played with her fingers for a moment before speaking again. It seemed like this should get easier over time, but if anything, it only got worse. "Noah, why did you call me?"

"Can't sleep." He wouldn't look at her.

"Yes. You said that when you called, but … We can't keep doing this Noah. You can't keep calling me like this. It's not good for either of us. It's … it's … it's not healthy, Noah."

"I don't sleep without you." His head stayed down but his eyes lifted to meet hers, and she had to swallow down the lump in her throat at the pain she saw there. "I can't sleep without you, Rachel."


"And I know I told ya just to go and that I'd be fine and I'd get over it. And I know you said me callin' just makes it worse and I know I told ya I'd stop, 'cause I don't wanna ever fuckin' hurt you. But – shit!"

She wrapped her arms around herself when his body hinged forward and he rested his elbows on his knees, dropping his head into his hands. She couldn't help but bite her lip at the way his fingers seemed to dig into his scalp.

"I guess I lied." He shook his head in his hands. "I guess I'm just a big fuckin' liar, 'cause I can't stop callin' and I'm sure as hell not fine."

You can say we're done the way you always do
It's easier to lie to me than to yourself
Forget about your friends
You know they're gonna say
We're bad for each other
But we ain't good for anyone else

Rachel shifted in the chair, tucking both feet under herself and resting her weight on her heels. She watched him, unmoving, on the couch for several long minutes. She jumped when he finally moved, dropping his hands to his thighs and pushing himself up off the couch. He didn't say a word to her as he stepped around the chair she was in and moved back toward the kitchen. She studied her own hands until she heard him coming back, and then she turned to watch him over the back of the chair. He made his way back around her to his spot on the couch and took a long draw from the beer he now held before setting the bottle onto the end table next to her tea and locking his eyes on his own feet.

"You … you do understand why this is such a bad idea, right? Calling me like this to come over?"

"I know what you keep sayin'." She tightened her arms around her waist to control the shivering that was completely ridiculous, since the apartment was plenty warm enough.

"Noah, please don't do this. You know as well as I do that-,"


Rachel jumped when Puck's head snapped up and his eyes focused on hers. As much as she wanted to, she couldn't ignore the redness in them, or the way the skin under them was dark and tight. If she had thought for even a second when he called that he was lying to her about not sleeping (she hadn't – dishonesty was never a problem between them, she knew he never lied to her), she would have stopped doubting then.

"See, Rachel, that's the thing. I don't know." He pushed himself forward so that he was sitting on the very edge of the couch and leaning toward her, the weight of his upper body supported by his forearms resting on his knees. "You keep tellin' me I shouldn't call. We shouldn't talk. You shouldn't come over. But that doesn't make any fuckin' sense to me, 'cause what I do know is that," she felt the tears burning the backs of her eyes when he shook his head and chuckled darkly, standing up and pointing down at her, "when we're not talkin', when you're not here, I don't know what the hell I'm doin'." He turned away from her and made a complete circle around the coffee table before stopping just in front of her chair and pinching the bridge of his nose with a thumb and forefinger.

"What …" she cleared her throat and tried to compose herself a little before continuing, "what exactly are you doing, Noah? I mean," she glanced around the apartment. Honestly, she would have expected it to be messy, in a state of complete disarray, even, but if she hadn't seen him sitting in front of her, she would almost believe that the apartment had been uninhabited for the last few weeks. Everything looked exactly the same as the day she had left (and every day she had been back since), like he wasn't even living in his own home. "Have you talked to any of your friends? Or your agent maybe? Have you gotten out at all?

Puck scoffed. "I'm not exactly the most fun person to be around these days, Rach. But yeah, I had a meeting with the label guys Saturday. Real exciting stuff there." He shook his head and rolled his eyes.

"Oh, well, that's good. Your work is important." His work – his success and his happiness – was so important to her that she was willing to walk away to make sure she didn't get in the way of it. "And are you taking care of yourself? I mean, I hope you're not trying to survive on fast food and take-out. Do you remember which grocery store I shopped at? The one that carried those blueberry waffles you like so much?"

"Yeah, ya know what, why don'tcha go check out the kitchen for yourself. Won't find much more than five more 'a these," he picked up his beer and tilted it toward her before downing what was left in the bottle, "and enough 'a that" he used the bottle to point at her mug of no longer steaming tea before dropping it roughly back to the table, "to last me a lifetime."

"Oh Noah," she sighed and her face dropped, "you know how bad all that processed food is. The additives and the sodium, and even the hormones that are added. Proper nutrition and rest are so important."

"It's cool," he lifted both hands in front of his chest, palms facing her, almost waving her off, "'cause most 'a the time, I don't really think about eatin' anyway."

She shifted uncomfortably in the chair, letting her feet fall to the floor, both hands gripping the armrests. Of course she had never expected the break-up to be easy on him – it was killing her, and she was the one who left – but he had not been handling it well at all, and rather than getting better with time, it seemed to be getting worse. She barely recognized him as Noah anymore.

"And well," he lifted his arms and looked around the room almost desperately, "I think we both know I'm not sleepin', so …"

"I'm so sorry, Noah. Really, it hurts me so much to see you like this," he looked like he didn't believe her, and she wished she could make him understand the pain she felt in her chest every time he called and said he needed her, every time she showed up to find him like this (though, this definitely seemed to be the worst case; she found herself fighting back tears every time she looked up at those eyes that used to be her whole world to find them so … broken) only to know that she wasn't really helping him. He couldn't see that she wasn't good for him. "But, I don't think this is helping. I mean ma-maybe what you need, what we need, is a clean break." She had to close her eyes for a few extra seconds when his eyes widened and his jaw dropped. "Just yesterday Laura and I were talking and -,"

"Look, I like Laura, okay?" She hadn't expected him to interrupt, and she stared up at him as he spoke. "I mean, she's a cool enough chick and I'm really glad she's givin' you a place to stay – well, no, I'm not actually." His jaw tensed and he shook his head, "'Cause maybe if she hadn't jumped in there and gave ya a room right away, you'da had to stay long enough to figure out how fucked this is, but still, I don't got a problem with Laura."

Rachel shouldn't have been surprised by his comment. And she wasn't, really. But that didn't mean it hurt any less. And did he really think she didn't know how 'fucked' it was, all of it? What did he think, that she enjoyed leaving work every night to go toss and turn in her friend's guest room? That when she woke every morning after a fitful night's sleep, at best, she was relieved to roll over and find the other side of the bed cold and empty? Yet, that didn't change the facts. No matter how much she continued to hurt, and no matter how much he was hurting at the moment, she couldn't come back, not really. She wasn't good for him. She wasn't good enough for him. And the only way he would figure that out was if he stopped calling, stopped having her come over, just stopped trying to make her a part of his life and actually moved on.

"But baby," Rachel's eyes, which she hadn't realized had been closed, flew open when she heard his voice much closer to her and felt his hands gripping the outsides of her thighs. She stared down at him where he knelt between her knees, his face open and honest and nearly pleading up at her. "I don't give a fuck what Laura said. Laura's not you, and she's sure as shit not me." His grip on her legs tightened, his fingers digging into the flesh through the denim of her jeans. "She don't get it, Rachel. Nobody gets it – gets us." He inched forward on his knees, nudging her legs a little farther apart until he could fit fully between them, his chest flush with the front of the chair and his hands sliding up her legs to wrap around her at her hips. "And I know, Rach, I know we don't always make sense, from the outside lookin' in or whatever, but from where I stand, shit baby, this is the only Goddamn thing that makes sense."

It was things like that, moments like that when he said words like those, when Rachel thought she might break. Because for so long she had felt the exact same way. When everything was falling apart and she was losing role after role and he was the only part of her dream she had left to hold onto, she would have said those exact words (albeit with far less profanity). If she were to be perfectly honest with herself (something she desperately avoided lately), she would have to say that she still felt that way. The difference was, she had since realized that while maybe he was the only thing that made sense for her, she wasn't the only thing that made sense for him – she wasn't even the thing that made the most sense – and it wasn't fair for her to cling to him so selfishly. He deserved more than that. He deserved more than her.

I told you I wouldn't call, I told you I wouldn't care
But baby climbing the walls gets me nowhere
I don't think that I can take this bed getting any colder
Come over, come over, come over, come over, come over

"Have you tried anything else?"

"Hmm?" Rachel felt Puck's sides vibrate against her legs when he hummed in question. It had been several minutes, but he hadn't moved other than to drop his head to her lap and relax his arms a little, letting his hands slide down once again to rest beside her legs, his thumbs moving in circles over the outsides of her thighs.

"To sleep. Have you tried anything?" She let her hand slide through his hair absent-mindedly. The mohawk was long gone, replaced by a much more modest style that was nearly all the same length, just a little longer on the top than the sides and back. At that moment, it was longer than she'd ever seen it, and she could tell that he'd missed his normal haircut by a week or more, but she had to admit that she liked the way the ends curled over her fingers as her nails traced lightly over his scalp.

"Shit, Rachel," he didn't look up at her, instead burying his face between her lower thighs so that his voice was muffled, but still easily discernible to her, "I told ya it's been three days, and I was really tryin' not to call, cause ya asked me not to." She didn't mean to flinch, and she hoped that he didn't feel the slight jerk of her hand on his head. "Yeah. I tried shit. I been in the bed – although I learned real fast that ain't gonna work, can't stay there more than five minutes – on the couch, tv on, tv off, music on, music off, hell, I even read a book." She fought the urge to ask him what book. She was curious if it had been the Springsteen biography she had given him for his birthday – she really believed he would be able to relate to the way the musician had translated his own life's hardships into world-renowned music. "I worked out for like, three hours this morning thinkin' maybe I'd wear myself out till I'd have to fall asleep. Finally gave in and took some 'a those sleeping pills you got when you were havin' all that anxiety about auditions and stuff."

"Oh." She brightened a little at the mention of the sleeping pills. It wasn't that she encouraged the use of pharmaceuticals to induce sleep (that's why there were still some left for him to take, she had all but refused to take them when they were prescribed to her), but he was obviously suffering, and at that point, she was happy for anything that would bring him relief. "When did you take those?" She had been in the apartment for about 30 minutes, and she didn't think he'd taken them since she arrived, so they should be kicking in any time.

Puck snorted. "'Bout four hours ago."

"Oh." She didn't know what to say to that.

After several minutes, Rachel began to think that maybe he'd fallen asleep right there on the floor. It would have been difficult, she imagined, to sleep while sitting up on his knees like that, but much of his upper body was propped against the chair, and she'd heard of people sleeping standing up, after all. Surely it wouldn't be any more difficult than that, and he was truly exhausted. But just as she let her fingers trail down out of his hair and gently over the strong set of his jaw, he moved, propping his chin on her leg just above her knee.

"Nothin' happened with her Rachel, I swear. I mean, I get that it prob'ly didn't look so great or whatever, but ya gotta know that nothin' at all went down."

"God, Noah!" She jerked her hands away from him so abruptly that he jumped a little and fell back onto his heels. She buried her hands in her own hair and tugged in frustration. "I know that!" She lifted one foot over his knees so she could stand out of the chair and turned her back to him, starting to pace as she yelled. "Do you really think I don't know that? Do you think I don't know you well enough to know that you didn't cheat on me? That you wouldn't cheat on me?" She stopped in front of the window that used to provide her favorite view of the city and spun to face him, her hands coming up to cover her face for a second until they slid away to hang limply at her sides. The fire that had consumed her almost instantly when he felt the need to assure her, yet again, that he hadn't been unfaithful died out almost as quickly as it had started, and her voice was left soft and broken. "That's the point."

Puck gaped at her from where she had left him on the floor. "Okay, you know what, I know I've always joked about all your crazy or whatever, but that shit right there," he stabbed a finger in her direction, "that's fuckin' certifiable." He shook his head then let it drop when she didn't move. "You're seriously standin' here right now tellin' me you broke up with me 'cause you know I wouldn't cheat on you? What the hell, Rachel?"

"Well, no, Noah, I mean," she wrung her hands in front of her stomach, shaking her head desperately. "Of course that's not it exactly. You're right, that would be crazy. But," she stopped to wrap her arms around her now trembling body, tilting her head back and blinking furiously to fight back the tears that burned her eyes. "I walked in, and I saw you there with her, and I didn't feel angry or jealous or anything like that, because like I already said, I've never doubted your faithfulness to me. The one thing I did feel, and it probably broke my heart even more than the thought of you cheating would have, was that that was what you deserved, that gorgeous girl who was just as talented as you and will be out there on the road with you proving it to everyone. She was good enough for you, she was what you needed, and I wasn't, even if you were too loyal to me to admit it." Rachel finally lost the battle and hiccupped a little around the sob that forced its way out of her throat, swiping at the tears that streaked down her cheeks with the tips of her fingers. "And that nearly killed me."

We don't have to miss each other,
Come over
We don't have to fix each other,
Come over
You don't have to say forever,
Come over
You don't have to stay forever,
Come over

Puck shot up from his spot on the floor and flew across the room, taking advantage of one of the first moments since she had broken up with him that he had managed to catch Rachel with her guard completely down, and enveloped her in his arms. He cradled her head to his chest with one hand and wrapped the other around her waist, clinging to her hip in case she tried to pull away. "Jesus baby, I don't even know where to start with how many levels of wrong that is." He let his cheek fall to the top of her head as he continued. "So I guess first I just gotta say that I'm not loyal to you, Rachel. I'm fuckin' in love with you. Big difference, B. And then second," he brushed his lips over the top of her head before pulling back and lifting both hands to her cheeks to force her head up so that he could see her eyes, "what is this shit about not bein' good enough or whatever? Come on, baby, you know better."

Rachel shook her head almost violently, grabbing at his wrists to pull his hands away from her. She turned away from him so she could ignore the way his shoulders fell when she backed away. "Please don't do that, Noah. Please."

"Don't do what, Rachel? Tell you the truth? Or is it the fact that I'm actually fighting for us that you don't like?" She heard anger in his voice, and she thought maybe that was for the best. "'Cause the way I see it, you're the one fuckin' everything up. And over what? Some little wannabe rock princess?"

"No!" She stomped her foot and threw her arms up in exasperation when she spun to face him again. "See, Noah, that's what you don't get."

"Then fill me in, for fucksakes!"

"She's not the wannabe, Noah, I am!" His mouth snapped shut nearly as quickly as it had opened and she watched him deflate as his anger seemed to melt out of him.


"I was supposed to be a star, you know? Lessons and recitals and competitions and glee club and NYADA – all of it was supposed to be leading up to me being a star on Broadway. I saw my name in lights and standing ovations and Tonys." She took a deep, shuddering breath and backed a little farther away from him when he looked like he wanted to reach out for her again. "But all it really led to was a useless degree and a waitressing job at a place I can barely stand to look at and one rejection after another because I'm too short, or not blonde enough, or too loud, or not loud enough, or, what it really comes down to in the long run, not good enough." She took another step back when she recognized the softness in his eyes and he took a step forward.

"Even if all that were true, B, and it ain't, your role just hasn't come along yet, I don't see what that has to do with us. I mean," he brought one hand up to rub at the back of his neck, "I never said you weren't good enough, right? I mean, I guess there was maybe something I coulda done to help, but ya never asked me to help, and I don't really know what I woulda done. I-," he cleared his throat and Rachel hated, hated, that it sounded like he might have a lump in his throat almost as big as the one in hers, "I never made ya feel like you weren't good enough, did I?"

Rachel shook her head, ignoring the tears that had now become too much for her to fight. "No," she whispered. "No," she said again, louder, "but it's true. And it wasn't fair to you. You deserve someone more like her, more like you. I mean, you just recorded an album Noah, that's incredible."

"Yeah," he crossed his arms over his chest and shook his head sadly, "and I wrote every one 'a those songs 'cause 'a you."

"And," she ignored him, "your shows here in the city have been tremendously successful. So you deserve to be with someone who is going to be as successful as you are. Someone like her – with talent and potential and that rising star factor, just like what you have."

"You're the most talented person I ever met, Rachel. Been sayin' that since I was 16." He took a step toward her, and she couldn't back up any farther without pressing her back into the glass of the window. If she couldn't avoid him physically, she would avoid what he was saying.

"You deserve someone who's beautiful -,"

"You're gorgeous." Another step closer.

"- and who's going to make something of herself."

"You're gonna be on Broadway. In a few years, that shelf's" he nodded toward the bookshelf in the corner, the one holding the pictures from every glee club performance and all of Rachel's NYADA performances and the show that had gotten Puck 'discovered' by his agent, as he took another step closer to her, "gonna be filled with Tonys."

"You deserve someone who's strong enough not to fail."

"You're the strongest person I know." He took the final step necessary to close the gap between them and Rachel dropped her head. "And you didn't fail."

She shivered when both of his hands came up to rest on the sides of her neck, his fingertips tickling the hairs at the nape of her neck and his thumbs pushing her chin up so that her nose brushed his along the way and his breath flowed smoothly and evenly out of his parted lips and across her own.

I told you I wouldn't call, I told you I wouldn't care
But baby climbing the walls gets me nowhere
I don't think that I can take this bed getting any colder
Come over, come over, come over, come over, come over

Puck's forehead came to rest against hers and Rachel's eyelids fluttered closed, and for a second she forgot that three weeks earlier she had packed up all her things to move into a guest bedroom 14 blocks away in an attempt to do what she knew was best for him. But then his thumbs started to push her chin just a little bit higher, and she realized that her own hands were moving to rest on his shoulders, and she remembered. She forced her hands to change direction, balling them into fists and shoving them against his chest. "No." She pulled her head back and away from him. "No, Noah. You've got to just stop this, okay?" She pushed against his chest again, but he only slid his hands down over her shoulders and held her against him by her arms.

"What's with the insecure shit, huh Rachel?" He shook her a little – not enough to hurt, but enough to get her attention when she tried to look away from him. "'Cause we already covered that you know I wasn't gonna cheat on ya, and I'm pretty fuckin' sure you've known for a while that I love you, right?" He waited a second for her to respond, and she could practically feel his eyes jumping over her face. "Right?"

"Of course, Noah." She watched the little bit of panic recede from his features.

"Then what's up?" As she opened her mouth to respond, he cut her off. "And I want the truth, Rachel, not some line. Bonus points if you can tell me without bringin' her up, 'cause I'm pretty damn sure it don't really got anything to do with her."

Puck's grip on her arms loosened and she took the opportunity to try to take a step back, but before she could put any actual distance between them, his hands had simply moved to her back, still holding her there. His persistence in holding onto her only angered her. It was a living metaphor for what was going on in their relationship and it needed to end. She took a deep breath, and he must have thought that she was calming herself, because his grip on her loosened. When it did, she used the fists that were still pressed to his chest to shove herself away from him, stumbling a little as she moved sideways to try to avoid the window but steadying herself and stopping when there were no less than four feet between them. For his part, Puck only gaped back at her, mouth wide and eyes unblinking as his hands fell to his sides.

"One thing, Noah!" He looked confused and hurt and she turned away from him so she could talk without having to see that look. "One thing in my life I've always had confidence in, thought I was really and truly good at, and that was performing. But it turns out," she shook her head and laughed a little, though there was no humor in it, "apparently I'm not very good at that either."

"Rach-," she lifted a hand without looking back at him and he stopped.

"And if I'm not good enough at that, the one thing I always thought made me special, then who the hell am I to think I'm good enough for you?" She turned to face him with something like a challenge on her face. "Because it's one thing for you to go off and become a rock star with a talented, successful Broadway star – Broadway bound, even – girlfriend back home waiting for you. It's another thing entirely," she forced herself to look straight into his eyes. He had to get it now. He had to, "For you to go off and share your amazing talent with the world, all while being tied down to a cocktail waitress with a musical theater degree collecting dust on a shelf."

Puck shrugged. "So come with me."

"Noah, I," she shook her head at the simple, matter-of-fact way he said it, like it was just that easy. "That's not … It's not that simple."

"Sure it is." He began moving toward her again, and she just couldn't dig up the energy to continue avoiding him. "Those Broadway fuckers don't want you." The words felt almost like a slap in the face, but he didn't give her a second to respond. "I do. I got lotsa songs that can be duets. You know how incredible we are together." That was one thing she couldn't argue with, even if her recent failures had given her reason to believe it had much more to do with his talent, and even their raw chemistry, than with her own abilities. "One night on the stage with me and you'll remember how fuckin' amazing you are." He stopped just in front of her and ran his fingertips so lightly up her arms that she felt goosebumps popping up all over her skin. "So come with me."

The words were whispered in her ear and it made her so dizzy she had to reach for him to steady herself. He seemed to take the movement as an invitation and pressed his lips to her jaw just below her ear.

"We shouldn't …" his tongue followed her pulse down to her collarbone.

"Noah, this isn't …" he nipped his way across her collarbone before working his way back up the other side of her neck with a series of open-mouth kisses.

"It's not a good idea …" his hands trailed down her sides and his lips closed around her earlobe.

She knew what he was doing; it was the same thing he did every time he got her to come over. He was a man, Noah Puckerman at that, so she knew that the physical pleasure was certainly a factor, but she also knew that wasn't really why he was running his tongue just right over that spot on her neck and inching her shirt up just enough to let his fingers play over the bare skin of her stomach. He was doing it because he thought that he could make her remember just how good they were together. And she didn't want to remember, she shouldn't remember, because that might mean forgetting how bad she was for him. But then his tongue was sliding across hers, and his hands were working the button of her jeans, and he was walking her toward the bedroom, and she was letting him.

Moments later, Rachel was tumbling backward onto the bed that for so long had been hers, and Puck's hands were sliding inside her jeans and her panties and dragging them both down her legs, all while she was tugging at the hem of the wife beater he wore with his low-slung flannel pajama pants. Once her pants and underwear were below her knees, she took over kicking them off and he lifted his arms over his head to let her peel the thin cotton shirt off his body. In the next second, she was sitting up to let him remove her own shirt and bra, then his arms were around her waist and he was lifting and turning and laying her out on the bed until her hair fanned behind her on the pillows. He kissed her so hard she thought he might bruise her lips while she clung to his back and shoulders and used her feet to hook in the elastic of his pants and shove them over his hips and down to his calves. Puck grabbed both of her legs behind her knees and hiked them high on his hips, and when he pressed his forehead to hers and buried himself inside her, Rachel watched his eyes squeeze closed then felt the two small teardrops that dropped off his eyelashes and fell to her cheeks. By the time they rolled off her cheeks and onto the pillow, she knew, the tears were no longer his, but a mixture of both of theirs.

It wasn't long, just a handful of minutes, before she was sobbing his name, squeezing her thighs around his hips, and digging her nails into his back. It was always like that, those last few weeks. He'd always known how to touch her and satisfy her; he was an expert at reading and playing her body. But since she'd ended their relationship, since she'd tried desperately to shut him out, it was like the second she finally gave in and let him inside (and yes, she meant that both literally and figuratively) he set her on fire from the inside out. And he was never far behind, gathering her even more tightly into his arms and burying his head in her neck as he let her orgasm pull his own out of him.

Afterward, once he'd gone to the adjoining bathroom and returned with a warm cloth that he used on both of them then tossed into the hamper in the corner, she laid on her side, one hand propping her head up so she could watch his face finally transform into a sort of calm and peace and the other running through his soft curls then down his back and all the way up again. She always stayed until she helped him fall asleep. It was, after all, why he called.

She watched him – the rhythmic rise and fall of his back, the way one hand curled under his pillow and the other hung off the opposite side of the bed, his eyelashes fluttering as his eyes moved behind closed lids – until she was sure she would cry again at any second. She ran her fingers once more through his hair, tracing around his ear and following the hairline down to the back of his neck, then pushed the blankets gently off herself and sat up as slowly as possible so as not to disturb him.

"Stay." Rachel jumped and her fingers clenched around the sheet beneath her hands. The word came out as a command, but when she turned to look at him over her shoulder, she saw the question in his eyes. She wasn't sure if he was asking her to stay the night or just to stay. And when she nodded wordlessly and sunk back into the mattress, letting him pull the covers up over her and wrap an arm around her to pull her close, she wasn't sure which she was agreeing to.

Just come over, come over, come over, come over, come over.