Author's Note: I know, I know. I was just here. But this is the last prompt from my Beauty and the Beast and Finn reviewers reward, and I sorta love it. So, of course, I need to share it. As the summary says, it is dedicated to Degrassiaholic for the prompt so thanks for that. It isn't that long (short and sweet, I think), but hopefully you can enjoy it anyway. I want to take this time to also give a huge THANK YOU to the anonymous reviewers, who I really wish I could PM or whatever to give them a proper thank you for all their support but will settle for this. So, thanks.

Disclaimer: The song used and referenced is Bon Jovi's "Always" and is not mine. If it were, I'd be rich and would be able to write absently like this all the time. You should definitely listen to it if you never have before, but it is also great to listen to while reading the fic because it really sets the tone of the whole thing.


Puck sat on the hard plastic chair, his elbows resting on his knees and his head sagged low. His guitar case was propped up directly behind his feet, and Puck tried not to notice the same security guard pass him for about the third time since he arrived an hour ago. He knew airport security had beefed up since 9/11 and he didn't exactly look like a wholesome kid with the Mohawk and ripped jeans, but he honestly doubted the terrorists would target Toledo of all places. The people who lived there already wanted to die, so blowing them up would just be like a favor or some shit.

Then again, it was way better than Lima, so who was he to talk?

This romeo is bleeding
But you can't see his blood
It's nothing but some feelings
That this old dog kicked up

Legit, he was just in a bad mood and it had nothing to do with Lima, Toledo, or even the fact that he drove between the two at the ungodly hour of six in the morning. He hadn't really been sleeping for the past month anyway, so his whole stance on not waking up before noon during the summer was sort of a moot point. Still, the rain made it seem earlier, and it certainly added to his already heightened level of depression. Seriously, Puck swore it had been cloudy and miserable forever; like, it was Ohio, but he couldn't remember the last time he saw sunshine.

Perhaps that was less because of his geographic location and more about his emotional state of mind, though.

It's been raining since you left me
Now I'm drowning in the flood
You see I've always been a fighter
But without you I give up

Puck leaned his back heavily against the chair, his elbows lifting from his knees as he placed both his hands over his face and groaned. Pretty much everyone he knew had been telling him all month how pathetic he was, but now he could even hear it in his own thoughts. He was just defeated, acting totally like the loser he'd been afraid he was, the loser Rachel never once accused him of being.

She'd probably call him one now, though. Not just because he broke her heart and whatever, but because he did it for like the dumbest reason ever. And then tried to prove the reason was true by acting like a total dick all month. Legit, his Ma and sister weren't even talking to him. Rachel wasn't really either, which was probably for the best considering he wasn't sure he could take hearing the disappointment in her tone.

He could almost hear her say, "I can't believe you just gave up, Noah. You were doing so good before."

Now I can't sing a love song
Like the way it's meant to be
Well, I guess I'm not that good anymore
But baby, that's just me

And he was. It was sort of unexpected, but when the two of them really started dating (like, not like it was back in sophomore year and certainly not like it was that night in junior year) it was actually really good. Healthy, even. They'd known each other for so long that they really just understood one another. Plus, with senior year came a bit more maturity on his part, which meant he didn't constantly make the joke that monogamy was a type of wood. She was his girl, and they somehow managed to balance each other out in a crazy, hot way. She made him study, and he made her party. She made him learn patience, and he then tortured her with his new skill in the best way he knew how.

But, no matter what, she was still Rachel and he was still Puck. They still fought constantly, but together they'd learned new, fun ways to make up. It wasn't a perfect system, but it seemed to work for them. Or it did until he freaked out and completely bailed on her. The official date was about a month ago, but they both knew it had been longer than that. The second he got rejected from NYU when everyone already knew Rachel was headed there to start her fabulous career, things took a turn for the worse. Every terrible thing he'd used to hear about himself and used to think about himself would creep into his psyche whenever she wasn't there to assure him otherwise. And when she left for the holiday weekend on July 4th, it gave him enough time to realize she'd be way better off without him.

He was just a Lima Loser who would hold her back.

And I will love you, baby - always
And I'll be there forever and a day - always
I'll be there till the stars don't shine
Till the heavens burst and
The words don't rhyme
And I know when I die, you'll be on my mind
And I'll love you - always

Puck straightened his posture, knowing no one could hear his thoughts but still feeling like a homo regardless. His phone buzzed in his pocket and he took it out to see a text from Quinn. Begrudgingly, she was his partner in crime in this pathetic attempt to right his wrongs, and according to her message he had about fifteen minutes to get ready. He already had his guitar and he knew which gate she'd come through, so he didn't feel too panicked about wasting five minutes dicking around in his cell phone's photo album. He skipped past all the random, stupid pictures he'd taken (who took the photo of Artie hanging upside down by his chair?) and focused on the ones he had of Rachel.

It was a pretty new phone, so it only had pictures of the times they were together, and frankly Puck didn't like to think of a time before then anyway. He preferred the image of Rachel's wide smile after they won nationals to the rejection-laced expression she shot him right after he turned her down during junior year. The memory of her breaking up with him in sophomore year was definitely way worse than the one he had of them at prom. Legit, it was one of the dumbest rites of passage and might have been worse senior year than junior year, but Rachel looked incredible. Her dress was pink as all hell, but her hair was soft and smooth (unlike all the other girls who used a whole can of hairspray to keep whatever 'do they had from falling). Her lips were as perfect as always, tinted with a subtle pink lip-gloss that made them shine under the light of the disco ball.

Fuck, he missed her.

Now your pictures that you left behind
Are just memories of a different life
Some that made us laugh, some that made us cry
One that made you have to say goodbye
What I'd give to run my fingers through your hair
To touch your lips, to hold you near
When you say your prayers try to understand
I've made mistakes, I'm just a man

Everyone was going to miss her. It was insane, really, to remember that it wasn't that long ago when he said that she made him want to light himself on fire and everyone else wanted to light her on fire. Just two short years later, the glee kids had thrown her an epic going away party, and Santana had legit cried. Like, not shed a tear or sniffled a little; she was a damn blubbering mess. And Finn, well Puck didn't even want to consider what was going through the ogre's mind as he drove Rachel to the airport.

Despite being together since the end of junior year, Rachel was still a sore spot for Finn and Quinn. It was mostly the reason Q was helping Puck out in the first place, and it was definitely why Finn was the one driving Rachel from Lima to Toledo. No matter how many times they'd all talked (in basically every combination of their weird love rectangle), there would always be some insecurities regarding those past loves. No matter how much Quinn trusted Finn, she was tagging along on the journey just to be sure, and Puck really wished Rachel's dads had insisted on spending every last second wit their daughter before she left for college instead of agreeing to let Finn take her; apparently Leroy and Hiram had said their goodbyes last night and didn't want to go through it all again.

When he holds you close, when he pulls you near
When he says the words you've been needing to hear
I'll wish I was him 'cause those words are mine
To say to you till the end of time

Legit, he knew how they felt. As he stood up and grabbed his guitar case, the security guard eyeballing him again, his hands shook. It was bad enough going through the gut-wrenching pain of their breakup the first time, and the whole thing had been his damn idea. This time, if it didn't go well and she just laughed in his face or screamed at him, it would be her. It would be Rachel confirming everything he had said and solidifying his waste-of-space status. She'd leave him to rot in Lima just like he was expected to do, and he was pretty sure it would kill him before she ever even came back from holiday break.

Yeah, I will love you baby - always
And I'll be there forever and a day - always

Puck stood in front of the sign by the security line that advised preferred customers to go to the left. He crouched down and unfastened the locks on his case, removing his guitar before closing it back up. He dug a pick out of his pocket, shaking his head a little self-depreciatingly when he realized it was one of the custom ones Rachel had made for him, engraved with his initials and everything. To say he was getting some curious looks was putting it mildly, but after years in the glee club and a little more than a year as Rachel Berry's boyfriend, he sort of got used to people looking at him like he was nuts.

Besides, nothing was going to stop him from doing this.

If you told me to cry for you
I could
If you told me to die for you
I would
Take a look at my face
There's no price I won't pay
To say these words to you

He started strumming on his guitar, the first verse coming out a little quiet and not at all confident. The words to the song basically hit on every single pathetic note of how he felt, and it was just his luck that he knew it like the back of his hand. But knowing it and being able to sing it without wanting to crawl into the corner and curl up into the fetal position like a little bitch were completely different. Luckily the uneven tone worked well with the emotional lyrics, and then entirely disappeared when his phone buzzed in his pocket and he knew she was close.

This was for her, and he couldn't mess it up, too.

Well, there ain't no luck
In these loaded dice
But baby if you give me just one more try
We can pack up our old dreams
And our old lives
We'll find a place where the sun still shines

A crowd had formed around him blocking his view, but Finn was taller than most people and he saw the top of his friend's head somewhere near the back. Still, it served him right that couldn't see her, but he swore to J-Money that he could feel her nearby and it was enough to make him play just a little stronger. He wanted her to know that he meant every single word he sang, most definitely the part about wanting a second (eighth) chance. They could just pick up right where they left off, only in a way better place – emotionally and regionally speaking.

He'd seen what his life would be like without her, and it sucked.

And I will love you, baby - always
And I'll be there forever and a day - always
I'll be there till the stars don't shine
Till the heavens burst and
The words don't rhyme
And I know when I die, you'll be on my mind
And I'll love you - always

Puck's breath caught in his throat when she finally wrestled her way to the front, the song luckily over aside from a few final chords. Applause rang in his ears, but his eyes never left hers, trying to memorize the shocked and open expression in case it changed in the next second or so. She legit looked better than he remembered, which was extra sad considering he'd seen her a few days ago outside the music store she frequented (he'll admit he'd gone there on purpose to see her but hid in his truck like a tool) and she'd looked freaking edible then. She was dressed for comfort today, though, and it was somehow better - much more natural and free.

Very much like how she seemed to be when it was just him and her.

"What are you doing here?" She asked softly, the hesitation in her voice matching her apprehensive stance.

"I want you back." Puck was never one for beating around the bush. And he certainly wasn't the type of guy he drew out the emotional part of relationships. "I got a ticket to New York and everything."

Her expression knotted in confusion. "You broke up with me."

Puck sighed. Did she have to be so damn logical all the time?

"Yeah, I did. And it was a good thing." Sue him, he smirked at her resulting scoff. "Easy, babe. I ain't sayin' it didn't suck, but it legit taught me that I was right. I am 100% a loser …" He didn't trail off long, but he felt a little less gay for admitting the next part when even after everything they've been through (ie: everything he'd put them through) she opened her mouth to defend him. "… without you."

A soft tinge of red graced her cheeks and he couldn't help himself anymore. Surrounded by a group of people still interested in what was going on between them and completely aware that both their exes were somewhere in the crowd, Puck swung his guitar to rest on his back and stepped into Rachel's personal space. His hands settled on her hips and he closed his eyes for a second to inhale the intoxicating smell of her shampoo, perfume, and skin mixing together. Her head tilted up and he stared into her eyes, finding courage in the clear, loving expression that shone back at him.

"You're the only thing I've done right, B." He shrugged self-consciously, his head dipping down much like his voice. "And I need ya around if I'm gonna do anything else worthwhile."

"You need me?"

He pulled back just a little at her quiet question, caught off guard by the vulnerability of it. Rachel had certainly grown a sense of modesty and humility through the year, but her confidence hadn't really ever wavered. To hear her question his motives, assuming the entire declaration was based on something as trivial as sex sort of threw him. But he wasn't really good with words, wouldn't even know how to explain that she meant everything to him, so instead he crashed his lips against hers and hoped against all hope that she could feel how much he loved her in his embrace.

When they finally detached from each other, heavy breaths mingling between them as their foreheads rested against one another, Puck could see the forgiveness in her eyes. It was legit the best feeling in his entire life, like the weight of the world lifting off his chest so he could breathe again, and he didn't care how punk-ass it looked when he wrapped his arms tightly around her and spun them until she was giggling loudly while demanding that he stopped or they'd miss their plane. He only had his guitar and a bookbag of a few clothes and he had absolutely no plans for when they got to New York, but he knew without a shadow of a doubt that he had everything he needed when she slipped her hand into his and waved goodbye to Finn and Quinn before pulling him toward the front of the security line. Kissing her temple once they stopped, his one arm slung over her shoulders, he finally whispered the answer to her question directly into her ear, smirking at the resulting shiver and jaw-dropping kiss afterward.

"Always."