Why hello there! LONG TIME NO WRITE!

Die Alone by Ingrid Michaelson

Die Alone

Puck opened his eyes as his alarm went off. He sighed, and rolled out of bed. He looked at the clock. 4:30. He put clothes on, stretched, and was out the door for a run. This was one of the best parts of his day. Feet pounding on the pavement. He felt powerful. After this, he came home and did an ab workout with his usual pushups. He jumped in the shower, he ran his day through his head. He had finished his homework last night. So he was good there. He had football practice after school, then a glee rehearsal for Sectionals. As he finished with his shower, he started thinking about Rachel. They hadn't spoken since he'd dropped her off at her house after she'd slept over at his house. He texted her a bunch, asking if she was alright, or if she wanted to hang out, and he always got a short response saying she couldn't and that she was fine. He knew that was a lie. She was the exact opposite of fine. He'd talked to his mother, who had persuaded him to not go break down her door and kiss her until she couldn't remember her name. He rolled his eyes at himself as he pulled on his jeans. He just wanted to be there for her, but he didn't know how to get close without hurting her more.

He finished and checked the clock. It was six. He went downstairs and made coffee and then, hearing his mom move around upstairs, breakfast for his mom. She came down looking tired. She had worked a late shift at her second job as a waitress. Puck handed her a brown paper bag and a thermos full of coffee. She kissed his cheek, grabbed the food and her purse, and was off to go back to her other job as a dental assistant.

Just as Puck was wondering when the Berry men would get back to him about a possible job so that maybe his mother could stick to just one job, the clock chimed that it was six thirty. He ran upstairs and woke his sister. She smiled sleepily at her big brother.

"Noah, can I wear my blue dress today?" she asked, smiling.
"Yeah, Jules," he said. He helped her get dressed, and then steered her to breakfast, watching the time. While she ate he got his books together.

She cleaned up after herself, something Puck was very proud of. He came up behind her and slung her over his shoulder. She let out a high-pitched squeal followed by a fit of giggles. His sister's laugh was one of his favorite sounds in the world. This train of thought brought his brain to think of the sound of a certain girl's voice. Distracted, he brought Julia out to his truck and buckled her in the back seat. She pulled out her Barbies from her backpack and proceeded to marry three couples of Kens and Barbies at once. He laughed silently, wishing he could make Rachel as happy as his sister made him.

Rachel woke to the sound of a seagull. She slowly opened her eyes, the night coming flooding back. She shut her eyes as the memory passed over her. She opened her eyes again, thinking of nothing but the warmth and beauty of Caitlyn. She'd been so gentle and perfect, doing everything right. Rachel sighed contently. She slowly sat up, feeling like all of her senses were on fire. Everything was sharp. The sand felt smooth and satiny. The sky was starting to become pink and she knew sunrise wasn't far away. She looked down and her breath was taken away for what felt the hundredth time since she'd met Caitlyn. Caitlyn was lying on her back, smiling in her sleep. Rachel stood, unable to keep a smile off of her own face. She stretched out her tight muscles from sleeping on the sand. She bounced in place, unable to shake off the energy. In a moment of reckless abandon, she ran into the ocean, naked, and didn't care one bit.

Caitlyn had woken up and had joined her. The two made their way back to Lisa's, who had thankfully decided to not mention the night before, simply going into her studio. The girls were up in Rachel's room. Caitlyn asked Rachel to sing for her. Rachel looked up at Caitlyn, who was glowing with happiness.

"I know you've got something on your pretty little mind," Caitlyn said quietly. Rachel nodded, putting her iPod on the speaker. The music started and she joined Caitlyn on the bed.

I woke up this morning with a funny taste in my head.
Spackled some butter over my whole grain bread.
Something tastes different, maybe it's my tongue.

Rachel placed a hand on Caitlyn's tan shoulder, giving it an affectionate squeeze.

Something tastes different, suddenly I'm not so young.

She ran over and looked at herself in the mirror, a thoughtful expression on her face.

I'm just a stranger, even to myself.
A re-arranger of the proverbial bookshelf.
Don't be a fool girl, tell her you love her.
Don't be a fool girl, you're not above her.

I never thought I could love anyone but myself.

She turned and looked at Caitlyn.

Now I know I can't love anyone but you.
You make me think that maybe I won't die alone.
Maybe I won't die alone.

She slowly walked to Caitlyn, continuing the song.

Kiss the boys as they walk by, call me their baby.
But little do they know, I'm just a maybe.
Maybe my baby will be the one to leave me sore.

Rachel sang the next part and placed a quick kiss on Caitlyn's cheek.

Maybe my baby will settle the score.

I never thought I could love anyone but myself.
Now I know I can't love anyone but you.
You make me think that maybe I won't die alone.
Maybe I won't die alone.

She fell back on the bed, laying flat, placing her hands over her face.

What have I become?
Something soft and really quite dumb.
Because I've fallen, oh, 'cuz I've fall-fallen, oh 'cuz I've fall-fall-fallen
So far away from the place where I started from.

She sat up and took both of Caitlyn's hands, looking her straight in the eyes.

I never thought I could love anyone.
I never thought I could love anyone.
I never thought I could love anyone,
But you, but you, but you, but you, but you
But you make me think that maybe I won't die alone.
Maybe I won't die alone.

"Rachel, I think you're the last person who would ever die alone," Caitlyn said earnestly. Rachel smiled, thinking for a moment.

"Thank you. But back home all the relationships I've taken part in haven't worked out well. After each one I built a wall of sorts. I learned to protect my heart. Then I come here, and you beat it all down. And I love you. I love you so much," Rachel said, meaning every word. Caitlyn smiled.

"I love you too, you silly, beautiful, dramatic star," Caitlyn said sweetly, leaning forward and capturing Rachel's lips in a kiss.

Rachel woke with a start. She sat up, pushing the laptop off of her chest. She'd fallen asleep listening to a mix CD Caitlyn had put in the box. She checked the clock. It was five in the morning. She sighed, wishing she could actually start sleeping for extended periods of time. She didn't like waking up this early. But her subconscious had other ideas.

She sighed and sat up, already feeling a headache coming on. She rubbed her temples and then stretched. With more effort than should have been necessary, she put her legs over the side and stood up. She yawned and went to wash her face and brush her teeth. Then she jumped in the shower. She went downstairs to make herself some tea. And bumped into Aunt Lisa.

Aunt Lisa, Joe, and Nate, had all been there for three days. Today was Tuesday. After Joe had given Rachel Caitlyn's box, he had left her alone. Whenever she looked at him he sent her a sympathetic glance. Nate was hardly ever there. He came home late at night and left early in the morning. When Aunt Lisa asked him where he went, he nonchalantly said that he had friends he was visiting. This only confused Rachel. Why would he have friends in Lima of all places, and why did he even come in the first place. She couldn't help but feel like she had disappointed him, but he was never around to talk to. Looking at him was painful enough.

Aunt Lisa had taken it upon herself to cook for an army, stocking the refrigerator with tons of food, believing Rachel was too thin.

Rachel smiled at Lisa as she walked into the kitchen.

"How are you sweetheart?" Lisa asked, watching her niece fill a teakettle with water to put on the stove.

"I'm alright," Rachel lied. She could feel the skeptical look on Lisa's face behind her.

"Alright. I'm not. I had a beautiful dream," Rachel said slowly, turning to face her aunt.

They held each other's eyes and then Lisa opened her arms for a hug. Rachel fell into them, breathing in her aunts now familiar smell. She smelled like the ocean. This brought back memories. She felt tears in the corner of her eyes and let out an shaky breath.

"Lisa, I miss her so much," she breathed.

"I know. I know," Lisa said, rubbing circles onto Rachel's back.

"I know it sounds silly, but my heart physically hurts," Rachel said, voice breaking, looking at the ground.

"That's not silly, honey," Lisa said. She stepped back and grabbed a tissue. She dabbed at Rachel's eyes and then dropped a kiss on her forehead.

"I brought you some things from home," Lisa said, turning off the burner behind Rachel and picking up a shopping bag. She pulled out a zip lock bag full of different kinds of tea. She felt her heart give a squeeze when this actually got a smile out of Rachel.

"Thank you," Rachel said. She peered in the bag and laughed, seeing a lot of the candy and other foods that she had loved when she'd visited.

"I also brought you some clothes!" Lisa said, pointing to some boxes on the kitchen table.

"Oh Aunt Lisa, you didn't have to bring me anything," Rachel said, putting some honey in her tea. She took a sip, loving how it made her warm. She was constantly cold even though it was still technically summer.

"Oh let me dote on you," Lisa said happily. She was so happy that she and Rachel were finally talking after three days of one-sided small talk. They heard Joe call out that he was going for a walk. Through the window, Rachel watched the man contentedly stroll off. All of the sudden, Nate came down the stairs with his car keys. Aunt Lisa stopped him.

"Nate, would you take Rachel to school today? She was having some car trouble." Both looked at the woman who held their gazes.

"Yeah sure," Nate said, pulling out his phone and looking impatient. Lisa rolled her eyes at him and winked at Rachel. Rachel gave her aunt a weak smile. But she knew that she did need to talk to Nate before he left, at least once.

"Go get dressed honey," Lisa said, handing her one of the thin boxes. Rachel went upstairs, knowing she should hurry. She opened the box and smiled. She pulled out a gorgeous skirt. It was coral and light blue Aztec pattern and it was slightly shimmery. She pulled it on. Then she pulled on a thin white button down, tucked it in loosely and rolled the sleeves to just below her elbows. She put on her brown sandals and put her hair in a loose side braid. She looked in the mirror and quickly put on a little mascara. She hadn't put effort into her appearance for a while, so this felt good.

She went down the stairs and stopped, hearing Lisa and Nate talking.

"Do I have to? You know as well as I that she doesn't have car trouble."
"You came here to meet the girl that meant the world to your sister, and just because she's not what you expected doesn't mean that you can completely ignore her. She dies a little every time she looks at you because you're a living, breathing reminder of what she lost. Give the girl a little credit," Lisa pleaded. Rachel heard him sigh and give his assent. She waited for a couple seconds, and then walked in.

"Ready?" she said, meeting Nate's eyes for the first time since they'd met. She'd steeled herself and even though her stomach gave a small lurch at his eyes, her face stayed calm. He gave her a nod and turned to walk out the door.

"Honey, you look beautiful, have a good day!" Lisa said. Rachel smiled at her and hurried out the door behind Nate.

This was the first time that she was put together in front of him. He'd only seen her in sweats and t-shirts so far. She followed him and almost ran back in the house when she saw his dark green Jeep. It had been Caitlyn's. She got in, clenching her teeth.

"Are you alright?" Nate asked, surprising Rachel with his gentle tone. She looked at him, raising her eyebrows. He let a humorless chuckle and pulled out. They drove in silence for a few minutes. Rachel looked over at him. He was the male version of Caitlyn. He was tall, blond, athletic, and tan.

"Do I have something on my face?" he said, having noticed her staring.

"No. But I have a question," Rachel said looking at her hands in her lap.


"Okay. Why don't you like me?" she said. He let out a laugh, this one actually real.

"It's not a matter of liking you."

"Then what is it a matter of?" Rachel asked. He glanced over at her and abruptly pulled over, getting out of the car and walking into the trees. Rachel followed him uncertainly. He stopped, facing the other direction. He stared ahead for a moment. He didn't look at her as he began to talk.

"The fact that you were the love of my sister's life. The fact that some of my sister's last words to me were instructions for me to take care of you. To make sure that you went on with your life and were happy. That you became a big Broadway star. And then I come here and you're a total mess. That you haven't really recovered at all from Caitlyn's death. That even looking me in the eyes makes your stomach hurt. I heard you the other night, throwing up the dinner that Lisa made. You're making yourself sick you're so sad. How could I help you? How the hell am I supposed to fix your mess of a life when mine is just as bad. All of my friends back at school wonder what my fucking problem is, because all I do is eat, sleep, and work out. The thing is, that's all I can do. Because my sister is dead. The girl that would Skype me every single night whether I wanted to talk to her or not, and keep bothering me until we had a conversation that she deemed acceptable. The girl that I taught how to throw like a guy and not like a girl. The girl that I gave piggy back rides. The girl that I pulled an all-nighter for, with a final the next day, to talk because she was questioning her sexuality. The girl that I grew up with. The girl that taught me how to be a man."

"How do I fix you when I'm broken?" Nate said, utterly defeated by the end. Rachel stood, speechless. He looked over and saw tears streaming down her face.

"Don't…" he whispered. He looked at the ground, utterly unsure of what to do. He walked towards her. She had turned away slightly, holding her head in her hands, blinking back tears that wouldn't stop.

Rachel all of the sudden felt arms go around her middle in an awkward hug, since her arms were up. She put her arms around his neck, hugging him, going on her tiptoes.

"Goddammit you smell like her," Rachel mumbled. Both of them chuckled, somewhat hysterically. Rachel inhaled, letting the smell help her, instead of hurting her.

Neither knew how long they stayed that way. Eventually Rachel said, "I need to get to school." He let go and backed off. Rachel gave him a small smile. He returned it and they started off for the car.

Puck was in line for lunch when he felt a small tap on his shoulder. He turned and felt a smile come to his face.

"Hey," he said.
"Hey," she repeated.
"Here, one sec," he said, paying for his food quickly. He then put a hand on the small of her back and guided her to an empty table.

They sat facing each other.

"How are you?" he asked. She looked better.

"Better," she said, "I've talked to both Lisa and Nate and it has really been good."

"I'm glad," Puck said.

"I'm really sorry about hanging out though. It just felt awkward having somebody over with those three at my house and then I didn't want to just leave," Rachel said sincerely. Puck nodded.

"I was wondering if I could come play with Julia soon?" Rachel said, stealing a tortilla chip from Puck's nachos and eating it.

"Yeah. Come tonight," Puck said. He was ecstatic seeing Rachel like this. She still had dark circles under her eyes and looked dead tired, but she looked a little happier.

"Okay, I'll come after dinner," Rachel promised with a sweet smile. She and Puck chatted about football while he finished his lunch. She wouldn't eat anything else, but Puck knew they had to take things slow. They got up and walked out. He grabbed her hand and they walked to the other side of school together, just talking.

Puck let himself start to hope that everything might be alright.

Please please please tell me what you think about this!

PS. search my username as a tag on tumblr (don't forget the extra 'L') to see any pictures that go along with the story, Rachel's outfit should be up.