Rescue Me – A Short Story
She holds the coffee mug between her hands, letting the warmth envelope her for a few seconds before she brings it to her lips and takes a sip. It's black, not her normal sugar and cream laced brew and she decides it is appropriate for today. She needs something strong since she slipped out of her boyfriend's bed at 4 a.m. and roamed the Tribeca streets until the sun came up.
She texted Kurt when she arrived at their favorite coffee shop. 911. It's their code, one they've used back and forth with each other since arriving in New York four years ago. Typically, it's associated with a horrible date or a bad rehearsal and they meet up at the coffee shop to vent or laugh or complain, whichever is needed for the situation.
She knows precisely how long it will take Kurt to get here, taking into account he was likely blissfully asleep when she texted him. So it's no surprise when the large extra shot latte with fresh skim milk, extra foam, 2 Splendas and a dash of cocoa arrives at the precise time Kurt strolls in. He pulls off his light scarf and smiles as he slides into the chair and takes a sip of the coffee. "You know me well," he says approvingly and she nods.
He settles in for a few seconds before he folds his arms across his chest and asks her the obvious question. "So what, pray tell, is this 911 all about?"
She looks into her coffee, keeping her hand wrapped around its warmth, and contemplates how to start. It's not like she hasn't already had two hours to figure that out but she still isn't sure. Finally, she just shakes her head and looks up at her friend. "I think I'm a horrible girlfriend."
Kurt's laugh is instantaneous and every person in the coffee shop turns around to look at him. She feels slightly self-conscious when they do, like they all just heard her confession and are creating scenarios in their minds as to why she would be a horrible girlfriend. When Kurt's laugh finally subsides, he raises a suspicious, and wildly amused, eyebrow to her. "Did you cheat on him?"
"What? No." She knows he's aware of that. He was with her last night at the bar and knows she left with Jared. While she's fairly certain that wouldn't be solid evidence of not cheating for most girls, she isn't most girls. Kurt would have already known about it had it happened before last night and considering she had drank three glasses of wine before she left, the only cheating she would have been doing would have been with his bed. She was too tired for sex with him, much less anyone else.
Of course, something jolted her wide awake later. Jolted. Knocked. Slammed. She can think of at least twenty more adjectives.
"Well, I'm interested in hearing why you believe you are such a horrible girlfriend then. So please go on." He's amused at this, as expected. Kurt has not played the role of cheerleader, well at all, for her relationship with Jared. He has always maintained that Rachel was just using him to avoid the obvious. The obvious which has never been very obvious to her. And that Jared would never be her true north. She would always just sarcastically tell him he watches too many soap operas and ignore his subtle jabs.
"When we arrived home last night, I told Jared I was tired and he should watch Letterman without me. I've never been that fond of Letterman anyway because he has yet to tell any joke that I find remotely funny." Kurt rolls his eyes, knowing she is nervous so she is giving details that are not necessary to this conversation. It's so very typical of her. She takes a deep breath before she continues. "So I go to his bedroom with plans of going to sleep but he has the air conditioner on high and I'm freezing so I decide to find a pair of socks to put on. Granted, I am typically not a woman who snoops through her boyfriends drawers but I was tired and I was cold and I just wanted some socks!"
Kurt's laughing again now and she glares at him. "I'm glad you are finding this so amusing."
"Just tell me why we are here, Rachel," he says, his voice still laced with a hint of humor.
"I found a ring." The words fall quickly from her mouth and she watches Kurt's eyes grow wide and the smile disappear from his face. "He's been telling me for a couple of weeks that he wants to take me to this bed and breakfast upstate that he knows I will love. I've been avoiding it because . . . . well I don't know why. And then I found that ring and I'm fairly certain that he plans to propose." Kurt is still stunned, his eyes wide and his head slowly moving back and forth. She doesn't know if that is a subtle no or an I'm confused headshake. She closes her eyes briefly and then continues on. "I have literally told him what to purchase me for my birthday or Valentine's Day or every single occasion that could possibly bring forth a gift in hopes that he would realize that I absolutely do not want a ring. Apparently my subtlety did not work and I needed to spell it out in explicit detail."
Kurt continues his trance momentarily but then bucks up, straightening his shoulders, placing his hands on the table and leaning into them. "You can't marry him."
"I'm aware of that!" She hates when he states the obvious. If she wanted to marry him, she wouldn't have freaked out when she found the ring. She wouldn't have pretended to be asleep when he came to bed and then bolted at 4 a.m. when she couldn't sleep. She wouldn't be here right now! Obviously!
He shakes his head. "No, you don't know. Yes, you know that you don't want to marry him. But Rachel, have you given any thought as to why you don't want to marry him. And do not give me some ludicrous excuse like your career because you and I both know that your career if just fine and you will be a Broadway star regardless of which guy is on your arm." He leans in more to the table. "Most women would be exhilarated if they found a ring, you look like your five minutes from pulling a Britney Spears and completely losing your mind."
"She came back rather successfully," she shrugs and he slams his hands down hard on the table.
"Not the point, Rachel. I swear to God that sometimes you are so good at this that I actually think you really don't get it."
She throws her hands up, looking around the busying coffee shop. "Get what, Kurt? I don't want to marry Jared. I don't exactly know the reason why I just know that it doesn't feel right. Why does it have to be more than that?"
He smiles then, his face softening, and he sits back in his chair again. "Because it is." She feels his eyes studying her for a while, not saying a word. She hates it when he's like this. When she feels like he's reading her like a book. And he always is.
He clears his throat after a few minutes and it draws her eyes back to his. "You said that he started with the bed and breakfast thing two weeks ago, right?" She nods, confused. "Two weeks ago, we went out to celebrate Blaine getting the role in South Pacific. You remember?"
"Of course, you and I met Blaine and Noah at O'Reilly's. Jared had to work late. I do not have short term memory loss, Kurt."
The amusement is back on his face now and she really begins to feel like she is missing something and she has no clue what it is. She hates this feeling. Horribly.
"You were drinking Cosmos like you were Carrie Bradshaw that night, which was ridiculous considering we were at an Irish Pub. I'm still a bit shocked they even knew how to make a Cosmo and that people actually still drink them."
She glares at him, knowing that he too is embellishing as she was before. "I'm sure that is not the point, Kurt."
"Of course it's not," he quips, "let me finish. You were pretty tipsy that night. We called it the Berry buzz. And you refused to leave even when Blaine passed out on the bar and Puck said he had to go to bed because he had a morning shift to work."
She folds her arms across her chest, crossing her leg over the other under the table. "Yes, I remember. My Berry buzz obviously did not inhibit my memory."
Kurt smirks then. "And because you wouldn't leave, Puck wouldn't leave. He vehemently refused to leave you alone. And that clearly angered you."
"That's because I don't need a sitter. Noah gets needlessly protective sometimes. I have no idea why."
He looks at her incredulously. "You really don't, do you?"
"No, and I really don't understand how this story has anything to do with Jared!" She's literally running that night through her head as she speaks. Remembering how Noah pulled the last Cosmo she ordered out of her hands and downed it so she couldn't drink anymore and how he kept her from drunk texting everyone in her phone book because she wasn't exactly the most polite person when she was inebriated. But nothing is clicking for her.
Kurt huffs and rolls his eyes. "Puck took your pretty little drunk rear home that night and if I recall the story correctly, Jared was there waiting on you." She nods, knowing that is right. "What you probably don't know is that Jared called Puck the next day, making his claim on you very clear."
"That's preposterous," she scoffs, taken aback by her friend's words and her boyfriend's actions. "One, being that I am not a piece of property, I am no ones to claim. And two, Noah is my friend and Jared needn't worry about him. I'm sure the bevy of young women who frequent his bed would agree with that assessment."
"Oblivious. Oblivious. Oblivious," Kurt sings, slapping his hands on the table with each word. "You know sometimes it is very hard, though highly entertaining, to sit back and watch this soap opera that is Puckelberry. And I find myself even feeling sorry for those poor lost souls that just happen to stumble into your telenovela because by the time they figure out how it's going to end, and yes we all know how it is going to end, they are already too hung up on you or Puck to simply walk away. So they make valiant if not foolish attempts to try to change the ending only to fail miserably. Ala Jared even if he doesn't realize he has failed yet." He cocks his head to the side, watching the confusion she is sure is evident on her face, and smiles confidently. "And you still don't even get it. Fitting as he doesn't either. Puck's always been protective of you, even back in high school when Finn was repeatedly shattering your heart and Azimio was giving you daily slushy facials. The boy even put Quinn Fabray in her place for smacking you at the prom though he threatened us all if we uttered a word to you about it. And yes there have been many, many women who have graced his bed but only one who has graced his heart." He shakes his head, staring at her for a few seconds before he continues. "Then there is you. You and your complete inability to commit to any relationship. You refuse to give Jared any part of your heart because you've already given your whole heart away. Apparently Jared is prepared to fight for you with a ring, which is much more than any of your previous suitors have attempted . . . and maybe he should slide it on your finger because maybe then Noah Puckerman will man up and fight for what is already his!"
She feels like Kurt has provided her with a figurative smack to her forehead and yelled "wake up." She's half expecting him to literally do it at any second. But maybe he's gave her exactly what she needs. Her eyes move to his. "That was lengthy and melodramatic and I don't quite agree with everything you said but perhaps you have a point."
Her mind starts racing back, running over image after image of her relationship with Noah. She can't help but feel that gentle tug in her heart as she does, the one she's felt, and subsequently ignored, with him for some time. She was so certain of his desire to be unattached that she failed to notice his desire of, well, her. And that the feeling was really quite mutual.
"What have I done," she says, placing her head in her palm.
She hears Kurt laugh across the table from her. "Nothing other than you have just realized where you've always belonged. He's still here, Rachel. I'm sure just sitting there obliviously waiting for you to come to that conclusion." When she moves her head up and places her chin in her hands, she stares into the gentle and wise eyes of her dear friend. She knows he would not steer her wrong because he loves her too much, as she does him.
A soft smile tugs at his lips and he leans forward, as if he's about to tell her a secret. "You don't run away from love Rachel, you run after it."
"Run after it," she mumbles and then quickly gets up and starts for the door, stopping just long enough to plant a kiss on Kurt's forehead.
She runs along the crowded city streets until she reaches the NYPD 5th precinct. She's sweaty and sticky and she's pretty sure that the cops probably think she is a neurotic homeless woman when she bursts through the door panting. She starts scanning the room immediately until she meets a familiar pair of green eyes as Noah walks out of an office.
Walking to him, she feels like her heart is going to pound out of her chest. He watches her, the confusion and concern evident on his beautiful face. When she reaches him, she smiles brightly and grabs one of his hands in hers.
"I love you too." Her words respond to his unspoken declaration though she knows it to be true. Thanks to Kurt.
When his eyes fall shut, a smile sneaks upon his lips and he pulls her into his chest. Nothing more needs to be said, their hearts pounding wildly against the other is more than enough. Nothing has ever felt more right to her.
Once he starts kissing her, he kisses her for a while, the rest of the precinct whistling and hooting at them. Then he plants a gentle peck on her forehead and tells her he will meet her after his shift, he needs to be a cop now. He follows it up by telling her that he loves her and she's fairly certain that those are the most beautiful words she's ever heard. He winks at her as she slips out the door.
Later, Kurt sends her a text. 911. Officer Puckerman can rescue you from now on. ;-)
She responds back simply. Thank you.