Revelations – A Short Story
He's convinced that Shue is some evil mastermind or at the very least that he has lost his fucking mind for good this time. So maybe he can understand the assignment and maybe even why he is pairing everyone up to do it but putting him with Berry? Not cool. But that's exactly what he did when he got sick of the in-fighting and constant bickering that had been going on with the Gleeks for some time and told them that he thought it was time that they started coming together as a team again. His brilliant idea to do that? A 24 hour project to help them really get to know each other. The fuck? He's pretty sure they all already know each other enough. And some of them know each other really well.
So Shue throws his sheet music onto the table, grabs a dry erase marker and quickly writes six things that each pair must do during their day together.
Share something personal with your partner.
Admit something that worries you or something you are afraid of.
Tell what you want to be in ten years.
Tell your partner a secret.
Lighten up. Do something you haven't ever done before.
Take a picture reflecting what you've learned about your partner.
Then he pairs them up. Finn and Tina. Sam and Kurt. Mercedes and Brittany. Quinn and Mike. Santana and Lauren. Puck and Rachel.
Why the fuck couldn't he have the flu like Artie? Lucky bastard.
The yelling begins as soon as Shue finishes speaking but he just throws his head back against the wall and ignores it. If there is anything he has learned it's that fighting this shit with Shue won't get you anywhere. 'Sides, he can pretty much tell by the pairings that Shue has something else in his (evil master)mind cause it's either those who don't speak at all or those who speak and fight way too much that he has put together. In his and Rachel's case, it's the latter. And maybe that's all his fault cause all he seems to know how to do right now is fight with her.
Though he has to admit that 24 hours with Berry might be pretty interesting. Really interesting.
He turns his head and shouts over the rest of the group. "Berry, 24 hours starts tonight. I'll pick you up after your dance class." He kinda hates that he actually knows she has a dance class tonight. Not giving her time to dismiss him, he grabs his jacket and heads for the door, being sure to turn his smug smirk in Finn's direction and wink at him before he leaves.
She huffs loudly when she sees him leaning against his truck outside of the studio a couple hours later. "Told you 24 hours starts tonight. I guess that means your all mine all that time, Berry. So just get used to it."
"This is completely preposterous, Noah. I do not believe that Mr. Shuester meant for us to literally spend 24 hours together. So unless you plan on sleeping on my couch tonight, I would suggest you just take yourself home and we will start on this ridiculous project tomorrow."
He just grins, nodding his head as she rambles. "S'ok . . . . I'm sure the daddies Berry have a wonderfully comfortable couch that I can crash on. Though I remember your bed being pretty comfy too, Rach, so maybe I should just sleep there, if we actually have time to sleep." He winks and she huffs again before she throws her bag into his truck and hoists herself in.
He's barely in the truck when she starts in on him. "I have you know, Noah Puckerman, that regardless of my personal feelings on the validity of Mr. Shue's assignment; I will be taking it, as I take everything, very seriously. If Mr. Shuester believes this will be in the best interest of the Glee club, I will give it my all."
"Would expect nothing less of you, Berry," he chuckles.
"Good, because I also do not believe this is going to be easy for either of us. We seem to be required to broach some very serious topics and I do not expect you to treat them as a joke." He just nods at her words. Honestly, he hadn't given much thought to the actual assignment past reading it on the board. He'd been solely focused on spending 24 hours with Rachel. But now that she's smacked him in the face with it, he starts to feel a tad bit nervous. Shue's tasks start spinning through his head and he glances over at Rachel sitting primly in his passenger seat. Fuck . . . really why couldn't he have the flu or at least got someone easy to do this shit with, like Mike because that dude can keep a secret or Brittany because she would forget everything he said within a few minutes. Rachel? Not easy at all, especially not for him.
They make the rest of the drive in silence and when he pulls into her driveway, she immediately hops out and heads for the house. With his long strides though he catches up to her quickly. "Your dads not home," he asks as he nods toward the driveway with only his and her car parked there.
She doesn't look at him when she answers, just pushing into the door. "No, my daddy dropped me off at the class and was going to meet my dad for a weekend away. They do it every month, going to visit Ohio wineries or Amish country. I personally don't see the value in it but if it keeps their love alive and makes them happy, so be it."
He follows her up the stairs and jumps into her bed as she walks into her closet. He lies back against the headboard and watches her thumbing through her clothes. When she realizes he is staring, she slams the door shut, emerging a couple minutes later in a pair of black shorts and a plain white t-shirt. He clenches his eyes shut. Why the fuck does this girl have to look hot in anything? He can already feel his body reacting. He jumps back off the bed and starts fumbling with things on her dresser, hoping his excitement will go away. When he finds the Phantom of the Opera mask that he had on before in her room, he starts to laugh. Glancing back at her, she smiles softly and nods. "Yes, Noah, I remember that night."
"And I bet you wish you had taken me up on my offer. I guess you kinda did a little bit later but it would have definitely been more fun with a douche like Jesse as your guy." He winks and she turns away laughing. He's at least glad that the tension from earlier has eased slightly. They've got a long 24 hours ahead of them.
She slides onto the bed, tucking her left leg under her tiny body. "I think perhaps we should start with doing something we've never done before. Mr. Shuester wants us to loosen up, so I feel like we should begin with that." Cocking an eyebrow at her, he can tell she already knows what he is thinking. Because the only thing he can think of when he imagines what she hasn't ever done before is, well, him. She purses her lips. "No."
"So what then, Berry . . . what have you not done that you want to try?"
She glances at her hands before she returns her gaze to him. "How about skateboarding?"
He's a bit surprised. He had expected her to say something like make a scrapbook for Finn or some messed up shit like that (though he suspects she's already done that). But skateboarding? Berry? He kinda likes it.
"You're in luck then, cause I have my skateboard in the back of the truck." She jumps up excitedly and heads for the door with Puck following closely behind. She chatters with every step but he pays her no mind, he's solely focused on the way her ass looks in front of him.
It takes her less than five minutes to fall and bust up her knee. But instead of whining (as he expects her to do), she just laughs, gets back up and gets on the board again. He runs beside her at one point, his hands resting gently on her waist as she wobbles and falls back into him, the board shooting out from under her feet and barreling down the road. He doesn't immediately let her go and she doesn't immediately step away. He kinda likes the way she feels there, her back resting against his chest, so close that he can smell her coconut shampoo.
When she does step out of his embrace, she bolts off running down the street and picks up the board again. The look on her face is awesome. He loves her like this, so carefree and innocent. It's a side of Rachel that rarely gets seen but a side he has seen several times before when it is just her and him. He missed it entirely too much when she was with Finn. Not just because he never got to see it alone with her but he never got to see it period. With Finn, she was more careful than carefree. He hated the way she conformed to him. But this Rachel, this is the one that he knows. He's glad to see her again.
They continue this way for a couple of hours, until Rachel's knees and hands are scuffed and scraped and he is worn out from having to chase after her. It's right before dark that she finally gets it, standing upright (if not wobbly) on the board as she sails down the small hill in front of the house. When she gets to the bottom, she jumps off and raises her arms triumphantly. Before he knows it, she's jumped into his arms, wrapping her arms tightly around his neck. He keeps her there for a few seconds, before placing her on the ground. She smiles softly, "Thank you, Noah."
Maybe this assignment isn't so bad after all.
"So what do you want to do," she asks as he pitches the board back in the truck, "What have you not done that you want to?"
Yeah, so his mind again instantly goes to HER but he pushes that thought away. There's many things he wants to do that he hasn't before. Skydive. Surf. Win an Olympic gold medal for the best makeout session. But there's one in particular that he knows that she can help him out with. He looks at her and grins. "Cook."
"Really," she mutters, her eyes growing wide, "I'm impressed."
He walks past her standing on the porch and heads inside. "But none of that vegan shit."
She just laughs. "Believe it or not, Noah, I do know how to cook non-vegan food too. My dad's do not have the same love of veganism that I do. They are much more like you and prefer to eat dead animals. And because I love them and strive to be the best daughter I can be, I have learned to cook things they prefer to eat. Even if I do often feel horrible after." Her tiny legs speed up and she inches past him as they enter the kitchen. "Perhaps we should start simple. I have a foolproof shortbread cookie recipe that I've been told is simply to die for."
A few seconds later, she hands him an index card with a recipe. He laughs as he looks down at recipe name at the top. Rachel's Superior Shortbread. So very typical.
"There are only four ingredients and as long as you follow the recipe precisely, it should be very simple for you."
"I got this," he shrugs and heads further into the kitchen, opening doors and drawers to find what he believes he will need.
Much to his surprise, she stays back, standing in the corner of the kitchen watching him as he works. She has already told him to ask her if he needs help but he is determined to try this on his own. Well, at least at first he is.
It takes him just a few minutes to mix up the ingredients as he believes he reads them but looking down into the bowl, he's pretty certain he has done something wrong. Instead of a nice cookie dough, his mixture just looks like clumpy flour.
When his pleading eyes find hers, she smiles. "Precision, Noah," she says as she saunters up beside him. "You didn't read the measurements correctly. A very typical male thing to do. The recipe calls for one pound of butter, not one stick of butter." She steps away, reaching into the refrigerator to pull out three more sticks. She hands them to him. "This will help."
Twenty minutes later, he pulls his creation from the oven, the air instantly perfuming with the buttery goodness of the cookies. He looks down at his perfectly baked cookies and then back to Rachel. "I totally rocked these," he says, before he grabs a smoking hot cookie and pops it into his mouth. He cocks and eyebrow toward her. "They're almost as good as an orgasm." He likes the way her cheeks turn pink.
When she turns away, he places his hand on her shoulder. "Thanks, Rach." She nods, not turning back to him. She heads upstairs as he grabs as few more of the (still) hot cookies and follows after her.
"What next," he mumbles as he chomps on the gooey goodness in his mouth.
She looks down at her notebook on the desk. "Share something personal, I guess." He gets the hint of nervousness in her voice. He's pretty sure that she probably wasn't too thrilled with being paired up with him for this project either. He's been pretty ruthless to her over the past few months, after she (stupidly) took Finn back and maybe even more so after she broke up with Finn a few weeks ago.
"Wait here," he says quickly, an idea springing into his head. He sprints down the stairs and grabs his book bag out of the cab of his truck. When he makes it back to her room, she is sitting on the bed, her lugs pulled up to her chest. He chuckles when he sees the Disney princess bandages covering her scraped knees. He won't admit that he thinks it is adorable.
Grabbing a piece of paper out of his bag, he hands it to her. "Something personal."
She looks at him suspiciously but then turns her attention to the paper. He shuffles back and forth on his feet as he watches her reading. "It's a rough draft," he spouts nervously, hating the feeling instantly, "it probably sucks. I've been playing around with it for a while."
She shakes her head but continues to read. He can imagine how she is securitizing it. After all, this is her realm, not his. He's supposed to write football plays, not songs. And he's pretty sure he misspelled some words here or there that she will most certainly point out along with the fact that his grammar sucks. Or she'll laugh at him and tell him that his song isn't realistic and his lyrics on love and finding and losing the right girl are skewered.
When her eyes finally leave the paper in her hand, she finds him and smiles. "Noah, this is beautiful." A feather could knock him over at this point. "It's really quite amazing. Very deep and raw."
"It's a rough draft," he repeats again but she shakes her head, still unable to shake the nervousness.
"No, it's actually very prefect the way it is. If you recall my not so successful first attempts at songwriting, my biggest issue was that I often toyed with things far longer than I needed to." He chuckles at the irony (because she toyed with Finn for way too fucking long) but she doesn't catch it. "This song came from your heart and it is already perfect the way it is." She glances down at it briefly and then finds his eyes again. "Did you show it to Lauren?" He notices how much softer her voice is now. How very un-Berrylike she sounds. He realizes she thinks the song is about Lauren.
He turns away. "No."
"Well you should." He lets her words float between them but doesn't correct her. The song is far from being about Lauren.
"What about you, Berry," he says when he finds his voice again, "I'm kinda interested in what you can tell me that I don't already know. You're kinda an open book."
"I have you know, Noah Puckerman, that I'm not nearly the open book you believe I am," she says as he lounges down into the uber comfortable chair in the corner of her room.
He scoffs, "You've got my attention, now prove it."
"You may find it shocking and probably appealing, knowing you, that I have a tattoo."
The fuck? Shocked? Fuck yeah. He wouldn't have thought in a million years that his sweet little Berry would ever ink herself. And that thought alone excites the hell out of him. And yeah, it might just excite him a little bit to find out where this tattoo is on her tiny little body because he's pretty sure he's examined every inch of skin she's ever actually revealed and he's not seen one sign of it.
But then a dark thought enters his mind and he glares at her. "If you tell me that it says fucking Finn or something I'm gonna puke and then I'm gonna leave. Cause that shit ain't cool."
"I would never brand myself with the name of someone whose feelings I've never been completely sure of. And Finn's feelings for me are, well, very fickle. And actually my feelings for him were never so . . . steadfast . . . that they would warrant permanent scarring." Pushing herself off the bed, she takes a couple steps closer to him. "I actually decided to get the tattoo after my dramatic breakup with Finn. I thought it would be more appropriate to brand myself with something that would always remain true and steady and serve as a reminder of my own self, which I admit I often forgot when I was wrapped so tightly in Finn's world."
He wants to say 'ya think' but decides against it.
She tucks her thumb into the corner of her shorts but then looks at him with pleading eyes. "Promise you won't laugh?"
She's getting ready to pull her shorts down and she asks him not to laugh? That's not going to be a problem. Other things, well, they might be a problem. With is voice scarily absent at the moment, he just nods.
She hangs onto the left side of her shorts as she pulls the right side down just far enough to reveal the small tattoo on her pelvis. He tries to maintain some form of composure when he leans forward to fully examine it, after all, this is part of her body she's never allowed him to see. It's so very Rachel, even for a tattoo, the small heart with the left side in the form of a treble clef. He kinda digs it. A lot.
He's still staring at it when she pulls her shorts up and steps back from him. "You're the only person who knows, not even my daddies are aware of this. So I would appreciate it if you kept it quiet."
Berry with secrets is kinda intriguing to him, he must admit. And Berry with secrets that only he knows? Pretty fucking awesome. He grins in agreement.
As he watches her walk back to the bed, his mind wanders to the tattoo . . . but more so to the fact that she actually trusted him enough to reveal it to him. He feels kinda special that she did so. She trusted him enough to show him her secret and know that he would have her back with it. Cause even with all of their recent bickering, he's never not had her back when he needed to.
She doesn't sit on the bed this time, she lies fully back, crossing her ankles and laying her hands on her flat stomach. He watches her intently, his mind still processing his newfound realization of her trust. "Ten years, Noah."
Her words jolt him back to reality. He's confused at first but then remembers Shue's question. Where does he want to be in ten years? He leans back into the chair and contemplates how to answer.
Closing his eyes, he takes a deep breath. She trusts him so he will trust her. "Out of Lima. Writing music and strumming my guitar. Maybe singing lullabies to my badass little kid as he goes to sleep. Married. Happy." He opens his eyes. "I don't need much, really. I just want to be, I don't know, different from who I am now. Different but the same."
"How," she asks but doesn't move from her position.
"I don't want to be banging cougars forever, Berry. Probably won't have the energy then anyway. 'Sides, imagine how old the cougars are going to be when I'm ten years older." He hears her giggle softly. He likes the sound of it. "I can be a monogamous guy with the right girl."
"You were with Lauren."
He shakes his head even though he knows she can't see him. "That's because she would have gone all Lorena Bobbitt on my dick had I not been. Seriously that girl is scary. I mean, yeah she is cool as shit, but she is crazy shit too. And not cool crazy, like you, like I'm pretty sure she could be the woman from Misery crazy. And that's wacked." He runs his hand over his hawk before he continues. "So in ten years, I see myself married to some hot Jewish woman, which totally makes my ma happy. The sex is fucking awesome and she makes me breakfast in the morning but sometimes I surprise her with breakfast in bed. Followed by sex. We've just started what will be a large and badass family so I'm on diaper duty and I kinda love it but I won't tell her that. I write music during the day and play sometimes at night around the city. Sometimes she gets a sitter and comes and listens to me and I play even better then. I'm happy. And I'm good with that."
The rooms falls silent when he stops talking and he believes he might even be able to hear her breathing softly across the room. It makes him kinda nervous because he doesn't know what she is thinking. Hell, he can't even see her face to try to figure out what she is thinking. So he pushes himself up and strides across the room, plopping down on the bed beside her. When he looks at her, he sees she is just staring up at the ceiling.
"Did my future put you to sleep, Rach? I know it doesn't sound very exciting."
She turns her head to look at him, resting her cheek on the pillow. "No, it sounds very nice actually."
He cocks an eyebrow at her, "Did I mention the awesome sex?"
"I think you did," she giggles and the mood lightens instantly.
"What about you?"
She draws in a deep breath and slowly lets it out. "I think everyone knows where I want to be in ten years. New York. Broadway."
"Yeah but beyond that, besides being a big Broadway star, who is Rachel Berry?" He leans back against the bed and watches her as she struggles with his question.
After a few seconds, she moves her eyes to his and he believes he sees a slight bit of sadness in them. "Should I answer with how I want it to be or how I think it will be?"
He admits that her question kinda throws him. Rachel uncertain about something? He doesn't like that because it's not like her. She's too confident, too sure of everything, to be uncertain. She doesn't give him a chance to answer.
"I want to be achieving my dream on the stage in front of thousands of people. I know that will happen. It's everything else that I'm not sure of." She shrugs and then turns her head back to gaze up at the ceiling. "I want to be madly in love by then. Travelling with him when I'm in between shows. Sipping wine in Tuscany as he holds my hand. Watching New Years Eve fireworks above the Eiffel Tower. I want to be so certain of his love that I don't worry every time he's not in my sight or terrified if his ex-girlfriend calls." He doesn't have to ask to know that part of what she is revealing is about her relationship with Finn and how it didn't work for her. He always thought she deserved better and hearing her express herself like this just makes his anger toward his former best friend grow. "I guess like you, I just want to be happy and I would be good with that."
"And you don't think that is gonna happen," he asks quietly and she shakes her head.
"Honestly, when I see myself in ten years, it's always as a huge star but also always alone." She turns her gaze once again to him. "I guess you could say this is my fear. I'm well aware of my obvious character flaws and that I'm not an easy person to even like, much less love. I'm not sure anyone would be willing to take Rachel Berry without changing me."
He literally wants to fucking punch Finn Hudson right now because he knows that what is coming out of her mouth is directly linked to Finn not ever accepting how fantastically awesome his own girlfriend was. And the fact that he repeatedly kept playing her, making her fall for him again only for him to freak out when he realized she wasn't the perfectly fake little princess like Quinn fucking Fabray, makes him not just want to punch him but want to pummel him. He can't take it.
He sits up, grabbing her arm and pulling her up to sit beside him. He turns so that he is facing her. "I think you've got this idea that you're this strange person that has to trick people into liking you….It's not true. You're amazing. Do not fucking let the Finn Hudson's of this world make you believe you are anything less than that. Cause I'm gonna be fucking pissed if you do."
Her eyes narrow on him. "What?" He can feel his nerves standing on end, searing through his body and he really can't take it. He jumps up, rubbing his hands along his jeans and then holding them out in front of him, pleading somewhat, as he looks at her.
"Rachel, yeah, you're different. You don't fit in here because you don't belong here. Your loud and your bossy and your fucking irritating as hell but you're real. Your fucking a whole lot more real than all those other girls at McKinley. They make fun of you because your different, cause you don't fit into their cliques or their picture of how girls should be. But Jesus, Rachel, don't you see that what makes you different is what makes you fucking special? Hudson . . . fuck Hudson!" He's angry now, his heart pounding and his blood racing. He runs his hand over his head and starts pacing along the floor. "Hudson will never think you're amazing because you aren't Lima and he is. And any guy for that fucking matter that doesn't realize how special you are, well they just aren't worth your time, Rachel. And I hope to God that one day you will wake up and realize that too and stop giving those assholes your time. Cause they sure as hell don't fucking deserve you."
He's still pacing when he feels her tiny hand on his arm. "That's it, isn't it," she says softly, bringing his eyes to hers, "that's why you've been so mean to me lately."
He shakes his head. "I wasn't trying to be mean, Rach. I just can't stand by as you let them try to change you. I thought maybe you would stop when you finally wised up and sent Finn packing but then you just started trying to fit in with Santana or Mercedes or whoever. It pissed me off because that's not you and I hated that every day you were a little less Rachel and a little more Lima. Figured that if I fought with you, maybe I wouldn't care so much."
"Did it work?"
He closes his eyes. "No." He feels her lips on his as soon as the word escapes his mouth. Her kiss soft and sweet, just like he remembers, just like he can never forget. As soon he starts kissing her back, she falls back off of her tiptoes and steps away from him.
"What are you afraid of," she asks with a laugh. Is she seriously fucking going back to the assignment now? Only Rachel fucking Berry could do that.
He shakes his head, once again running a nervous hand across his head. "Not afraid of anything," he says, knowing she isn't going to let this go, "but maybe I'm a little worried that you're not gonna be that woman with me in ten years. Cause the truth, Rach, is that when I think about my life in ten years, you are always the woman beside me. So there's your something personal, worrisome and secretive all wrapped up into one."
He sees her eyes gloss over as she shakes her head and smiles. Then . . . she punches his arm. Fucking crazy.
"You couldn't have just told me that instead of being, for lack of a more appropriate word, a dick!"
"What, you were in like fucking love with Finn. Figured you'd jump down my throat and call me a liar if I told you the truth."
She cocks her head to the side and narrows her eyes on him. "So what is the truth? The whole truth?"
"And nothing but the truth," he interrupts, "that I'm in love with you." His voice is solid and strong, completely confident in what he is saying, and he sees her jump slightly. He takes a step forward so he is literally inches away from her, staring down at her big brown eyes. "That Lauren broke up with me cause she realized I wanted you, that I've always fucking wanted you. And I've tried real hard to not want you but it just seems to make me want you more. It's fucked up. But I like your crazy. I like that you are strong and opinionated and you challenge me at every fucking level. I don't want to change you like everybody else does. Cause I love you. You. Not some vision of who I think you should be."
She licks at her bottom lip and beams up at him. "My secret now. I broke up with Finn because I realized that when he kissed me, it never made me feel the way it felt when you kissed me. I realized that when he touched me, it didn't make my pulse race or my palms sweat or make me feel weak in the knees. I knew that he was trying to make me more like Quinn because Quinn is the one he should be with. She is his future. I never saw him as part of my future. But I did see you. Granted, I didn't know in which capacity you would actually want to be in my future, because I was never very clear on what you wanted from me, but you were always there. So when I said that I was afraid someone wouldn't want me without changing me, what I was saying was that I was afraid you wouldn't want me. Because I know you are the only person who wouldn't change me."
He clenches his eyes shut, trying ridiculously hard to ward off the burning tears he feels springing in them. Fuck this emotional stuff. He is not good at it. They remain closed when he speaks again. "And you couldn't have just told me that," he mimics her words from before.
"Would this night have been nearly as amazing if I had?" He opens his eyes to her, shaking his head to answer her question. When he leans forward and rests his forehead to hers, she takes his hands and threads her fingers through his own. "I love you, Noah. Every single bit of you. Just like you love every single bit of me."
He shakes his head, his nose brushing against hers as he does. "You're crazy, you know that?"
She giggles. "Yes and you love it."
"I do," he says before he pulls her into him, wrapping her strongly in his protective arms.
He keeps her there for a few minutes, letting the silence fall softly between them as they just take in each other. Then he glances at the clock and chuckles. "You realize we're pretty much done with this assignment and we have like nineteen hours left."
She pulls back from him slightly and smiles mischievously. "I can think of something we can do to pass the time." Fuck yeah, he loves that idea. But when he goes in to kiss her, he finds his lips smacking against her palm. "But first we have one more thing we have to do to complete the assignment."
Stepping away from him, she scurries to her desk and digs out a camera, two pieces of paper and two markers. "I told you I would take this assignment very seriously. So let's finish it appropriately." Of course, his Berry would do this.
Five minutes later, he slides his arm around her waist as she does the same to him. They look up at each other, smiling brightly, with each holding a piece of paper in front of them. The timer goes off and the camera flashes.
On his paper? Secretly in love with her.
On hers? Secretly in love with him.
When they show their picture to the rest of the Glee club on Monday, he sees Shue smile and nod. Yep, he's pretty sure that was all part of his evil plan. He'll thank him for that later.