Author's Note: This started as a oneshot like the other prompt fics, but then got a little out of control. I blame JannP, who is notoriously known for having the same thing happen and it must have spilled over into her prompts.
It is slightly A/U, in that everything from seasons 1 and 2 of Glee happened (aside from the final Finchel scene) but may or may not have been significant. Everything is explained throughout, though, which is why it will be THREE parts and not just one. So, please enjoy and I hope you let me know what you think! Thanks so much!
Disclaimer: Used in the summary and the inspiration for the whole fic is the song Can You Take Me by Third Eye Blind. It is pretty wicked and sort of tells the story of the three parts as they happen (in a loose way). So, if you want some listening music while reading, it totally works. :D
Puck strolled down the empty hallways of McKinley High, his eyes scanning every crevice with a patience he rarely had. He wasn't exactly sure what he was looking for, but he knew whatever it was would have to be found when no one else was around. He didn't want to be in the building every weekday for the past four years, so he was pretty sure someone would question his desire to roam the halls after hours. He'd planned this shit, though, so he wouldn't have to explain himself to anyone; everyone left early on Fridays, including the janitor so he could make it to a poker game in the next town over.
Earlier, Puck would have used that information to blackmail the poor blue-collar worker, but he had totally grown up since then. He still had a rap sheet longer than his dick, but he wasn't a complete fuck up anymore. There was nothing he wanted more in life than to get out of Lima, and he wasn't going to be able to do that by sleeping around and visiting the nurse all day. He had to pick up his grades. He had to cut back on the late nights of anonymous sex so he wasn't tardy so much. He had to apply himself.
Legit, it sucked. And, frankly, it hadn't been his idea. But, fuck his life, Rachel Berry had been like his left arm for the past two years – he knew the saying was right arm, but he used that hand to jack off and Rachel had never been that for him. Not from a lack of trying, either. Rachel was bat-shit crazy, but she was also wicked hot. Plus, once he got to know her (he'd known her since her family moved to town in fifth grade but he hadn't really paid her enough attention until recently) the craziness wasn't all that bad; most of the time it was just her ambition or whatever driving everyone else nuts, but it was also that determination that kinda got him out of the gutter.
At the beginning of high school, Puck was floundering. Hell, he had started in middle school. In sixth grade he super glued a substitute teacher to a desk chair and from that second on he had a reputation as the bad boy. It was insane how much attention he got, and coming from a house where his dad left and his mom was gone all the time, Puck liked the attention. He craved it. He started pulling other pranks, like toilet-papering the hallways, and then moved on to worse shit, like vandalizing school property.
That kind of attention wasn't exactly awesome, though, as it ended up costing him all of his savings and had everyone watching him a little too closely. Puck preferred life in the background, which was why the next year he zoned out completely. He skipped classes, stopped doing homework, and basically didn't talk the whole year. Those who weren't scared of him thought he was mysterious. The next year he cut his hair into a Mohawk and that's when the girls started flocking. He'd always had their interest because he was on the football and baseball teams, but the new look brought with it a new attitude; he realized he could have any girl he wanted, and he did.
Except Rachel Berry.
Rachel was the only girl who hadn't been impressed with his newfound swagger. She talked to him at temple and stuff, but not like the other girls. She used big words and asked real questions and didn't care that he was going to a party on Friday or that he'd egged the principal's house. She'd just roll her eyes, tell him that he was better than that, and then move on. It legit pissed him off, and at the beginning of high school that frustration turned into his legacy: slushie facials.
Out of all the shit things he'd done in his life (and that included knocking up his best friend's girl), that was probably the only thing he really regretted. Rachel didn't deserve that shit, and that wasn't to say Finn did deserve being cheated on by his girlfriend and then being lied to for months, but … Rachel mattered more. It took Puck a long time to admit that to himself, but it was something he couldn't ignore anymore. Through everything – all the teasing and all the evidence to the contrary – Rachel had stuck by Puck because she said she knew he was a good person.
Like he said, bat-shit crazy.
"Preparing for finals, Noah?"
He whipped around to see her morph from his thoughts to actually appearing before his eyes, wearing a different outfit than she had been to school but still looking fucking edible. The black yoga Capri pants and black camisole were so tight that he could see every beautiful curve of her lithe frame, and the color managed to make her olive skin look even better (he hadn't thought it was possible). Her long brown hair was pulled up into a high ponytail, the ends running across the back of her neck softly (the way he wanted his fingers to do) as she shook her head at him.
"Whatcha doin' here, Berry?" He played the whole thing with the practiced ambivalence he'd learned over the years.
"Mr. Schuester promised he would print off some sheet music for me to pick up after my dance class."
His eyes moved down to her hands – sue him but that ain't where he'd been looking before. "Yea. Me too."
"I'm sure." Rachel rolled her eyes, stepping away from the doorway of the choir room and closer to him.
Her scent engulfed him immediately. It was a mix of the typical vanilla aroma and then sweat from her class, and he couldn't stop his mind from wondering if she'd smell the same after a crazy sack session. His tongue ran over his lips, his hands balling into fists at his sides as he fought with his brain to think of anything but running his tongue over her neck (or other places) to see if she tasted as good as she smelled. He was sure she did.
"While I agree you've become much more devoted to the glee club in the past two years, I'm not naïve enough to believe you would dedicate your Friday evening to preparations for our nationals performance like myself."
"Didn'tcha tell Finn you'd be at Britt's party?"
"Didn't you tell him the same thing?"
Puck smirked at her quick non-answer. The crazy thing about their relationship (aside from the fact that he even hung out with her) was how naturally it came. In sophomore year, after Puck had slept with and impregnated Quinn but still couldn't convince the blonde cheerleader to give him the time of day, he and Rachel actually dated. It had only been for a week and she'd ended it when she realized dating him wasn't going to bring her any closer to dating Finn. Afterward, he'd denied they could still be friends because they never were to begin with, but he'd been lying. That week and every day after, Rachel had been his best friend.
She understood him in a way that he didn't even understand himself. Like, she knew he'd be messed up after Beth had been born and given away (not that hard to figure out), but instead of going all freight train on him like his mom did, Rachel just baked him cookies and then left. And the whole time she was pining after and then dating Finn, she convinced the taller teen to patch things up with Puck because she knew that friendship meant a lot to him; she didn't even care that being on his side could ruin everything she had been building with Finn. Plus, after nationals in New York last year, he'd come to her with his own dreams of leaving Lima and making it in the big city, and she didn't laugh in his face.
She was just really, really awesome.
"I am goin'. I just … had to do this first."
"The elusive 'this'." She actually used air quotes; he chuckled. "Otherwise known as senior prank research."
Puck's eyes widened, his usual calm and collected demeanor basically nonexistent in her presence. She had this uncanny way of calling him on his bullshit, and she swore she could tell when he was lying. Internally he disagreed, only because if she really could tell then she'd know he'd make good on every single one of his crude remarks if she even hesitated in her usual refusal of such advances. Instead, she thought he was still hung up on Quinn, which wasn't true but he went along with because it gave him a good excuse for hating Finn sometimes.
It wasn't fair, honestly. The dude wasn't dating either girl and yet had dibs on both.
"God, he's so whipped." Puck shook his head. "Makes no sense. S'not like he's getting any from you."
"That is private information."
Puck blinked in confusion. What the hell was that? That wasn't a denial. It wasn't a confirmation, though, either. "What?" He was legit breathing heavily. He was going to puke. "You and Finn …"
"You're so gullible, Noah." Rachel giggled. "Considering your friendship with Finn, I'd imagine you'd be the first person to whom he'd gloat that particular information."
Puck hung his head a little, not wanting to admit she was right. Last year, when Finn had gotten back together with Quinn after dating Rachel, they were bros again. And Puck was the first person Finn told about him and Quinn; legit, he was pretty sure the lanky quarterback called him on his way home from doing the nasty. It was pathetic because it wasn't even his first time, which Puck had heard about from Santana only because he and Finn weren't cool back then. Now that they were, Puck got to hear all of Finn's random thoughts, which was usually just exhausting but also pretty important whenever they'd revolve around Rachel.
"And I didn't need him to inform me of your evil ways, Noah. I could practically hear your wheels spinning when David was recounting their senior prank at that party last week."
Karofksy and a few of the other football players that had graduated the year before threw a massive party last Saturday at one of the guys' lake house. They'd all gone to colleges nearby that ended early and since the seasonal jobs wouldn't start for another two weeks or so, they were basically just throwing one kegger after the next. It was wicked sweet but Rachel was a total ball-buster and only let him go on Saturday after he'd studied his ass off with her the entire week before. Legit, finals can blow him. Hard.
"So," he smirked, tossing his arm over her shoulders, "you want in?"
"I most certainly do not." Rachel shrugged out of his hold, turning on her heels to face him squarely. "And you shouldn't even be contemplating such behavior."
"Give me one good reason …"
"It will reflect poorly on you. You could be suspended. It would negate all the tremendous work you've done to clean up your image. Depending on your plan, you could hurt someone. There is the possibility that you would be arrested. You …"
"Fuck." Puck grabbed her hands, stopping the annoying counting she was doing. "I get it." He paused for just a second to notice the way she didn't jerk her hand out of his. Her skin was super soft. "But I'm still doing it."
Her satisfied smile immediately turned into a frown, his eyes again back to watching the way her hair swayed as she shook her head. He didn't have to wonder if her hair was as soft as her skin; he knew it was. They were friends, after all, and he was totally the touchy-feely kind of friend. His arm was constantly secured over her shoulder, and he didn't really like to go more than a few hours without touching her in some way. His excuses were usually pretty lame – bee on her ass, ink stain on her boobs – but she didn't seem to mind the platonic affection. Platonic being the key word.
"I've been on my best behavior for the past two years, B," he whined, sick of her disapproving stare. Legit, she was worse than his mom. "Even prisoners get time off for good behavior."
"Is that what you aspire to be, Noah?" She ripped her hand out of his. "A prisoner?"
Puck groaned, walking away from her to continue his search. He had a few ideas for some pranks and they were all going to be epic. Karofsky and them had snuck in one night and applied Vasoline to the entire cafeteria. He remembered it because Principal Figgins and Coach Sylvester had entered the room in a tizzy about something and nearly flipped over one of the tables they had slid so quickly across the floor. But Puck was going to do better than that. He wasn't just going to do one prank. He was going to do many. Maybe one every day for a week. Or maybe a bunch in one day. That would be awesome.
"I just wanna do somethin' people will remember, somethin' I did on purpose." He finally stopped at the top of the first set of stairs before the turn, looking down at her. "Even if I do get out of here and do make something of myself, without this all's they're gonna remember is that I knocked up Q or that time I drove that car into the lake."
Rachel frowned. He watched her from his heightened position, noticing the telltale signs of her anxiousness. She swept a wayward piece of hair back behind her ear, her eyes down and her bottom lip held captive between her two rows of perfectly white teeth. She shifted her weight from one foot to the other, then looked up at him with a defiant expression of independence. She forced her hands away from the center of her body, yanking them to her sides as she raised her chin up.
"S'cuse me?" He coughed on the words (and a little on the fact that he just noticed he could see down her shirt a bit).
"While I truly believe each of us will be famous one day very soon after our talents are discovered in New York that doesn't mean we shouldn't live in the present." Rachel climbed the stairs gracefully, her eyes never leaving his. "My name will be in lights eventually, but this kind of infamy could be everlasting." She nodded her head. "It will certainly be much more interesting for my biography than I was captain of the glee club and had a complicated relationship with the star quarterback."
He ignored the reference to Finn mainly because he was still confused. "So, you're in?"
Rachel rolled her eyes, exaggerating the nodding motion of her head. "Yes."
"Sweet." Puck grinned widely, sliding his arm over her shoulders once again. "I always knew you were badass."
"If I am it is because you bring it out in me, Noah."
He stumbled on the next stair, looking over at her in his periphery. Her expression was emotionless, and he was pretty sure she'd gotten that from him, too. Rachel said shit like that all the time, more and more lately, and it fucked with his head. Puck knew it was true. He knew he could be good for her the way she was good for him. She needed someone who wasn't going to just let her walk all over him, just like he needed someone strong enough to stop some of his bullshit. In some fucked up way, they balanced each other out.
They were complete opposites, but they were kind of the same.
"I bring it out in everyone in glee, too, 'cause they're all in."
He ended up sidestepping the conversation, just like he always did. The jokes he could do. Puck could smack her ass and ask her if she tasted like berries, but the actual feelings and shit were too much. It was too real. The crass humor was easy, but the emotional stuff he couldn't fake. He'd end up saying too much or the wrong thing and everything would be ruined. And he wasn't being melodramatic, either. Everything.
Puck scoffed. "What have I told you about questioning my badassness?" He flexed his muscles and grinned when he heard her sharp intake of breath, her fingers curling a little deeper into his skin. "One ticket to the gun show and Porcelain was all like, Blaine who?"
"I'm sure you just frightened him." Rachel rolled her eyes. "Kurt might be the only person I know who isn't tempted by your bad boy persona." She took a pensive pause. "Then again, you are the next natural choice for glee heartthrob after Kurt had to get over his obsession with Finn."
"I still think he's just luring him into a false sense of security," Puck joked, meandering through the halls with her tucked into his side. Now he kinda wished there were people there to see. "It isn't actual incest since they are stepbrothers. And, you know, they'd be butt fuckin' so no way to make some crazy-ass kid with an arm where its ear should be."
Rachel's mouth gaped open, her feet stopping all movement and causing him to swing back into her. Close to her. He could have stepped away. Even if she was catatonic or whatever from his somewhat graphic observation, he could have moved out of her personal space. But outside of dance routines for glee, Puck didn't get a lot of opportunities to have her taunt little body pressed up against the front of his. She always made a point of keeping her distance in that way, which he was cool with only because she was the same with everyone else (Finn, too).
Her breath was shallow even as she spoke. "W-we should go to the party." She shook her head, like she was trying to convince herself that they should be anywhere other than where they were right then. "Everyone in glee will be there. We can have a secret meeting regarding our plans for the pranks."
Puck looked down at her through hooded eyes, noting the extra sparkle in her usually deep chocolate brown gaze. Talent aside, she was born to be a star because her eyes legit twinkled like one. But not all the time. Only when she was really happy. Usually that meant performing, but she wasn't singing any show tunes right then. She was just with him. Alone.
"That's probably Finn," she whispered for no good reason, finally pulling away from him while also reaching for her ringing phone. "Hello, Finn."
He listened to her side of the conversation, paying attention to the way she had changed her voice from breathy to cheery. He wasn't sure exactly what it meant, honestly. He knew breathless was typically good, but so was cheerful. And even if she was just pretending to be happy, he didn't know why. Was she faking it because she didn't want Finn to know her and Puck had just been so close or was she genuinely pleased with the interruption – from Finn.
Puck guessed it was the latter. After all, he wasn't as stupid as people thought he was. He'd been a front-row spectator to the Finchel saga for the past three years. Some might even say he was a participant. Rachel had used him to make Finn jealous sophomore year, and then there had been the notorious make out session in junior year that caused the two to break up. He'd helped Finn write a song for Rachel for nationals – Rachel still didn't know about that, but then again it didn't really matter because her and Finn hadn't gotten back together like the quarterback had planned. This year Puck was more in the background, just waiting with everyone else for Finn and Rachel to finally get back together. Everyone knew it was more a matter of when and not if.
"Finn is going to gather all the glee members before they get too inebriated." Rachel slid her phone back into her bag. "We're expected in ten minutes."
He looked her up and down curiously. "You're wearing that?"
"Kurt?" Rachel blinked, a wide smile taking over her face. "Kurt is that you?"
"I was just wonderin' if I'd get the chance to see you strip," he amended humorlessly. "That's all."
"Ah, Noah." She sighed in fake relief. "There you are."
He chuckled to himself, following her down the stairs and toward her locker. He rested his frame against the cool metal, watching her spin the dial right, left, and then right again before popping it open. She quickly grabbed a skirt from the top shelf (where she kept her slushie wardrobe), closing the door with a snap and heading to the nearby girls' bathroom - but not before he noticed a new picture she had up in her locker. The one of her with all the kids in glee was from last year, and she still had a really old picture of her fathers up that he always thought was weird. Below it was a picture of her, Mercedes, Kurt, and Blaine taken at Lima Bean, and next to it was a picture from an all-nighter a few of them pulled at Finn's house before the SATs; they'd gotten a little delirious after the twenty-third straight hour of studying and ended up taking a picture with Finn, Blaine, Kurt and Puck all sitting next to each other on the couch with Rachel laying across their legs, everyone smiling wide for the camera.
The newest one, however, wasn't from a glee performance. It wasn't from any of her after-school classes or a musical or a play. It wasn't even a group shot. It was from her eighteenth birthday party this past October. She'd invited everyone over for a low-key night of just movies, games and popcorn, and it had actually been a lot of fun. Most people left around midnight or so, but Puck's movie choice had just started so he stayed. The next morning, he woke up on the couch with no recollection of falling asleep and the worst neck ache he'd ever felt, but Rachel wrapped in his arms. It was something that he sorta thought he dreamed considering they never mentioned it, but clearly someone had gotten a picture.
But why would she hang it up?
"Missed your opportunity, Noah." Rachel smiled shyly, standing in front of him in exactly the same thing she had been wearing but with a skirt on over the pants and the legs rolled up a little higher so they hit mid-thigh. It didn't make sense, but she looked even better. "Let's go."
Puck's mouth opened to ask her about the picture, but at the last second he changed his mind. "Who says I'm takin' ya?"
"Me," she stated simply, leading him to his truck.
See, Puck wasn't the only one changing. In the past year or so, Rachel had outgrown her bossiness and controlling behavior, instead morphing into a much more secure, confident version of herself. She was learning how to kick back and enjoy life, too. She had aspirations for the future, but she'd realized (with his goading, for sure) that she was missing out on her present. There were friendships to develop, mistakes to be made. She had to get into some trouble and learn to swing with the punches. Legit, he couldn't wait for New York.
Rachel had received her early admittance letter from Juilliard back in December. Kurt received his letter from the Parsons School of Design in March, and Blaine was accepted into NYU in April. Finn and Puck both got their acceptance letters to Hofstra a few weeks ago, and they were actually going to be roommates. They'd each earned an athletic scholarship, and were expected to arrive to the campus at the beginning of August to start training and practice. Two weeks later Rachel, Kurt, and Blaine would drive up, and they already had plans to do a bunch of that stupid tourist shit before classes actually started.
"This truck is never going to make it to New York, Noah."
On cue, the old vehicle backfired and sputtered to a stop at the red light. "See whatcha did? You done gone made Lucy mad."
"Yea, like Quinn." His eyes danced with mischief. "The back's huge and the grill's shiny."
"That's deplorable!" She shook her head in horror but he just laughed it off. "Quinn is one of your friends, at the very least, and she doesn't deserve that kind of ridicule."
"What does that mean, at the very least?"
"It means not less than."
Puck looked at her blankly for a few seconds, eventually turning back to focus on the road. "I meant … what are you insinuating?"
She smiled like it had been her plan all along to force a five-syllable word out of him (it probably was). "I've been thinking about the future a lot, Noah." She shrugged sadly, her voice softening. "Pretty soon we won't be able to just go over to Brittany's house for a party to see everyone. Sure, we'll be in New York, but Brittany and Mike are going to L.A. Mercedes accepted an offer from Ole Miss. Artie got into a tech school in Cleveland. Santana is going to LCC. Tina, Quinn and Lauren received their letters from OSU last week." She was quiet for a long moment. "Time is running out."
His head bobbed unconsciously, his brain working overtime just to process all the words she had said and all the words she hadn't said. For a girl who was pretty good at speaking her mind, she was an expert at hiding the true meaning of her diatribes under thick layers of bullshit. He'd only just started learning how to better sift through all the crap to figure out what she was really trying to say, but most of the time he still didn't get it. Especially now. Like, he knew they were all splitting up, but the only thing that mattered to him was that she was going to be in New York and so was he. He figured that bought him some time.
Time for what he wasn't sure, as he knew Finn was thinking the same thing. Everyone expected him to go to State like most people from Lima ended up doing. But, like Puck, Finn had picked up his grades and really dazzled the football scout. He hadn't gotten a full ride (Puck did but he was doing football and baseball), but luckily all of Kurt's schooling was paid for by a trust fund his mother had set up before she died. He was going to have to work his ass off in order to stay, but Finn said he was willing to do that.
Rachel made him dream big.
"Woo, it's Puckleberry!" Tina shouted from Brittany's porch, her voice filtering into the cab of the truck through the open windows.
Clearly their plan to discuss the prank before everyone was too drunk wasn't going to go off without a hitch. "Artie, snag your girl."
Mike and Tina had broken up almost exactly a year after they'd started dating, at the same Asian camp and everything. When senior year started back up, Mike and Brittany were together and then Artie and Tina quickly rekindled their romance. They were planning on carrying it through despite going to two different schools, and even though Columbus and Cleveland weren't that far away, it seemed unlikely that the duo would work out. The saga between Artie and Tina was almost as bad as that of Rachel and Finn's – except Puck wasn't in love with Tina.
Shit. Not this again.
"Finn! You were supposed to gather everyone around someplace private." Rachel gestured to the clearly public area. "Anyone could hear or see us out here!"
"I'm sorry, Rach, but all the rooms are taken … if you know what I mean." Finn snuck a glance to Puck. "Bethany Cooper is seriously loud."
"I know," Puck joked, though it was actually true. He'd gotten that particular cheerleader to scream his name freshman year before she started getting desperate and clingy.
"You're both revolting." Rachel pushed past the two boys, walking toward where Mercedes, Kurt and Blaine were sitting on the porch swing. Brittany and Mike were perched on the railing of the porch, and everyone else was scattered close enough that they'd be able to hear Rachel even if she spoke quietly (theoretically speaking since it was Rachel). "It has come to my attention that everyone in our group is planning some sort of senior prank."
"Puckerman!" Santana scolded, socking him in the shoulder. "I can't believe you told her! I should cut you!"
"Ease up, Satan. Berry is down."
"Yes," Rachel agreed quickly. "And I have some wonderful ideas for a prank that will be memorable without being destructive."
"Sorry, babe, but we're no longer accepting new proposals." Puck lowered himself onto the top step or the porch, his smirk never moving out of place. "Finn and I worked out all the details in study hall."
"That's not very team oriented."
"And you hogging the spotlight in glee is?"
Rachel glared at Kurt. "It was a solo. The spotlight is supposed to be on me." She jutted her index finger out in accusation. "And I'll remind you that it was me who suggested to Mr. Schuester that you and Blaine perform a duet at nationals. And …"
"Does she have an off button?" Santana snarled.
Puck shrugged. "I only know how to turn her on."
"Noah," Rachel chastised lightly, shaking her head a little before moving her focus to Finn. "What exactly are these pranks you two have supposedly concocted?"
"Puck said it's better that we don't tell because then you guys can't get in trouble," Finn stated, leaning his tall frame against one of the columns at the top of the porch's stairwell. "But we are going to need ten bucks from everyone."
"Ten dollars?" Lauren questioned skeptically. "You need a hundred-plus bucks for some stupid prank?"
"Pranks. Plural," Puck reasoned.
"I think we're being scammed," Quinn muttered.
"No, it's going to be awesome," Finn assured everyone. "We just have a few things to buy to make everything work."
"Chicas, should we really trust Dick and Nipples to do this right?" Santana asked, her eyes on her perfectly manicured fingers. "This is our legacy we are talking about. The class of 2012!"
"I agree with Santana." Crickets could be heard after Rachel's statement and she stomped in foot in response. "If you gentleman need our help, then we should be able to participate in the planning as well as the production of the pranks."
Finn looked over at Puck with pleading eyes, wanting to give in to Rachel's demands, and Puck just rolled his eyes. "This is non-negotiable, Berry. If you can't play by the rules, then do your own prank."
"Fine, we will! And it is going to be way better than yours!"
"Care to put a wager on that?"
"I'm willing to bet anything," she responded confidently, hands on her hips and eyes boring into his.
He didn't let his expression change, but he gulped nervously. He knew he should try to think of something embarrassing or maybe costly, but his mind was reeling with hundreds of dirty, impure options. Each one was more graphic than the last, the innocence from the first thought long gone. Why settle for a kiss when he could have seven minutes in heaven? What's seven minutes in heaven when he could get a hummer in the school parking lot? Who wants a BJ when they can ask for the 69 position? If they were going to do the 69 position, why wouldn't they just go all the way? How could they only do it once when they could do it twice, three times … forever?
Puck slammed his eyes shut, willing himself to focus on all the reasons why he couldn't ask for those things all while extending his hand out toward her. "Deal."