A/N - So I got this idea from one of my other stories, 'You can't run forever', it was mentioned briefly and the idea hasn't left me alone since, not sure if anyone's done this idea before though. All mistakes belong to me and trust me there'll be a few in there so just let me know if I need to change anything because unfortunately I am not from, nor do I live, in New York City. Also there are slight mentions of child abuse in there which is why it's rated T, I don't think the rating needs to go up because it's nothing drastic or descriptive but let me know if you think differently. Hope you like it guys (:
"Rach, look I know it's late but…"
"Mike?" glancing quickly at the caller ID to confirm her suspicion before reluctantly putting the phone back against her ear, she sat up in bed, her voice less drowsy than it had been a minute ago although her eyes remained closed as she desperately tried to hold onto the dream she'd been having. "Mike, it's gone 2 in the morning! I have an audition you know is important to me at 9!"
"I know, I know but it's bad and I really think you need to come over"
"Now? Did I mention what time it is?"
"Rach, I know. It's urgent though and you know I wouldn't ask if it wasn't. I know how much Maria means to you but…but you need to come over right now!"
"If this is to scare off another one of your cheap and tacky replacements for Tina then I am going to be out for blood!" She knew it wasn't though, she could hear it in his voice. He'd gone from being the calm and collected Mike Chang she'd had lunch with only 10 hours ago to being panicked and desperately worried about something, a big difference. "I'll be there in 10"
She knew it was bad when he didn't ask her to stop at the 24 hour Chinese place around the block from him like usual. Tina hadn't been joking about his addiction to Asian take away.
"Hurry Rach" He was interrupted by the smashing of what sounded like glass and the line went dead. Not a good sign.
Jumping out of bed, cringing at the blast of cold air but reusing to be deterred from her mission, she began searching for her converse knowing that she'd flung them into some far corner of the room before crawling into bed. She could see her NYPD sweatshirt draped over the chair in front of her dresser, her left shoe underneath it and as she pulled the oversized garment over her head, ruffling the mass of tangled locks she'd piled on top of her head, she spotted her right shoe poking out from underneath her bed. Safe to say she was lucky she'd found them in such a short space of time, cleaning her room had not made her list of priorities this week. Grabbing her phone, keys and purse she made her way out of her apartment, sure to lock the door after her, and made her way down to the bottom floor, well aware of the stares she was likely to get if she ran into anyone. Her hoodie swamped her small frame leaving only the ends of her pink pyjama shorts peaking out from underneath and her bare legs sporting converse and nothing else.
She'd been living in New York long enough to know that running round the city in pyjama shorts would only get her into some kind of trouble so instead of turning in the direction of Mike's apartment and beginning the 20 minute walk she hailed a cab from outside her apartment block, quickly rattling off his address before sitting back and hoping for the best. When she found herself standing outside his apartment 7 minutes later she couldn't help but wonder why it all seemed so peaceful. Surely if there was an emergency the place would have been chaos? Instead the lights were turned off in every other apartment window but his, the window which would be the front room of the apartment ablaze with light.
She pulled her keys from her pocket, the spare key to his front door attached to the chain of the Empire State Building, as she entered the building, silently hoping that whatever was on the other side of the door wasn't as bad as her overactive imagination had conjured up. Pushing the door open tentatively, she made it a single step before she was swamped by the dancing Asian, his arms gripping her tightly before pulling back just as quickly, giving her unusual outfit a glance over, reminding her of the disapproving looks she'd gotten from Kurt during the days as McKinley.
"Take the jacket off Rach, quickly" at her outraged look he went on to explain. "First dead body"
They knew this day would come, it was inevitable. Noah Puckerman had been an official part of the NYPD for almost 6 months now after graduating the police academy earlier that year. She'd sat and clapped with his mother, his sister, Mike and Kurt at his graduation, both proud and relieved that he'd excelled at the one thing he found he enjoyed. Ironically having a criminal record had only aided him in understanding criminals.
Mike and Noah had joined her and Kurt in New York the year after their high school graduation and whilst the three of them sang and danced their way through college, Kurt and Rachel at NYADA and Mike at NYU, Noah spent three years wandering around the city doing odd jobs and bartending until he'd stumbled across a mugging in action. Noah had been deemed a hero by the victim, a young woman who'd gladly repaid him in the form he liked best, and he'd gained a new appreciation for the law, surprising them all when he'd sauntered into his shared apartment with Mike and announced to the unusual group of friends that he was enrolling in the New York police.
They'd expected this day to come, always wondering what his reaction would be. However they'd always thought it would spur him on rather than hinder him but here was Mike telling her that it had caused some serious issues with Noah, something neither of them had expected to arise.
"A little girl. Beth's age. They're looking at child abuse apparently. He hasn't said a word since that though…he's just sitting there Y'know? And it's…it's like high school all over again. I didn't…know what to say back then and I still don't"
She'd just finished pulling the sweatshirt over her head, leaving her in the thin pyjama top she'd worn to bed what seemed like a lifetime ago, as Mike finished explaining. Of all the bodies he had to see, it just had to be another reminder of the little girl he'd broken his own heart for. It had destroyed him to give his daughter up, especially after promising to never be like his own father, but to be reminded of that in the poor lifeless body of someone else's baby was cruel.
"I'll do my best Mike but you know what Noah's like when he's upset." She sighed heavily, leaning back into her friends embrace before heading in the direction of his room. She'd spent countless nights in the apartment with the boys, eating take away and playing violent video games or at least they played the video games whilst trying to coax her into joining, the pacifist in her revolting at the blood and gore displayed on their TV. She could remember trying to comfort Mike after his break up with Tina whilst Noah tried persuading them both that beer was the best way forward and she could remember scaring off Noah's latest conquest whilst Mike hid behind the bathroom door trying to smother his laughter. The rooms were devoid of all laughter now though, only Mike's feet shuffling back to the living room breaking the heavy silence that seemed to be suffocating the place.
After pushing the door to his room open, her eyes landed on the hunched figure sitting on the floor on the opposite side of the room, his eyes staring blankly out at the city. When he didn't answer her she made the decision to carefully make her way through the mess that cluttered his floor.
She stooped to pick up the smashed photo frame that lay scattered among the mess, assuming this had been what she had heard smash on the phone. It was one of the three of them, Noah in the middle in the police uniform the day he graduated the academy with Mike and Rachel on either side of him, all three of them were grinning like idiots, his police hat had been placed haphazardly on her curly hair whilst Mike was holding out his badge in an imitation of what he'd seen in the movies. They'd been so proud of the self-proclaimed badass, they still were.
He didn't even turn to look at her as she landed softly on the floor next to him, his eyes refusing to move from the window, as she curled her legs up underneath her in an attempt to keep herself warm.
His knees were pulled up to his chest, his arms resting heavily on them whilst his right hand clutched at a bottle of Jack, his personal favourite, as he watched the city below them.
"All the guys at the station keep wondering how…how someone could do that…to their own kid but I don't…Y'know? I don't have to" His voice hitched and she shuffled closer to him, wrapping her arm around his broad shoulders. She knew very well of his troubled past, of the pain he'd lived before his father had disappeared. "I know…how…what parents can do to a kid. She was the spitting image Rach" Shelby had sent him a picture once, a few years ago now. She'd spent the night here that time and together they drank the pain away, he for a daughter who'd never know how loved she was and she for little girl Shelby had abandoned nearly two decades ago. Beth was all porcelain skin and blonde curls but she had Noah's eyes, green with mischief, she looked like the perfect little 5 year old and she couldn't deny how much that had stung, that even her mother had chosen the perfect child of Quinn Fabray over her biological one. Yet again, she hadn't been good enough. "She had these large green eyes…lifeless green eyes. When I…when we found her they were still open."
"She wasn't Beth Noah" she pleaded with the heartbroken man sitting beside her, his eyes having moved to stare blankly at the floor, still refusing to look at her. His face was pale, as pale as you could get with a c complexion like his, and he looked like he hadn't slept in days, a faint shadow of stubble growing and bags heavy under his eyes.
"It's my job…Rach we should have…fuck we should have been there. I'm not good with this feeling shit and I…I dunno, I thought that I'd be helping kids…kids like me some other way but instead I'm just tidying up the pieces left behind" Her heart broke just a little for him then, she'd had no idea that he'd joined to stop other children being abused, she'd simply put it down to he liked the uniform and the benefits that came with it. He'd spent his childhood singing and playing through he abuse he'd received off his dad before having to grown up, all too soon, to look after a sister that hadn't even been born yet and still his past haunted him. She should have known there was something more to it.
"You can't save everyone Noah"
She didn't expect the laugh that erupted from his chest and she wasn't sure whether she was glad he was at least laughing or worried because it was so different from the light-hearted chuckle that left his mouth whenever he came up with another sexual innuendo to try out on her or when Mike got over excited on one of the rare occasions that Noah let him win one of their stupid violent games. She didn't have time to wonder though as he turned his head to face her, his eyes hitting her full force and she was amazed to see the tears that he fighting to keep at bay
"Couldn't save you could I Rach?"
She turned her face away from him then, not because he'd just sent the women's movement back about 60 years with his caveman ways but because she knew what he was on about, even if she wouldn't admit it to herself. High school had left her heart bruised and battered but it was salvageable, the damage wasn't fatal. The bullying wasn't going to affect her once she'd left Lima, once she had her chance to shine. Slushy facials and pornographic pictures on bathroom stalls would fade until they were eventually replaced by college parties and a roommate she thought of as a brother even if Kurt did insist he was born to be a girl. She wasn't going to let those neanderthals ruin the perfect childhood her fathers had strived to give her. And yeah, Finn choosing Quinn time and time again hurt, she couldn't even remember how many nights she'd spent crying and half-heartedly singing along to Céline Dion but she had soon realised that he was only going to tie her to Lima, maybe with a full scholarship to OSU or maybe with chains of diapers and dummies. He just wasn't the leading man she had once though he was.
Shelby though, she'd come in to Rachel's life so many times only to leave a trail of painful memories behind her when she left again, the final time with Noah's daughter in tow. Not being good enough for her own mother, the one person in the world who was supposed to love you unconditionally, had been the final blow to her already damaged heart, choosing Quinn's daughter had only added salt to the wound. It was a wound that was unlikely to heal anytime soon, she'd spent college guarding her heart around anyone who could even come close to being a threat, ending her relationships before they got serious although she was still nowhere near as bad as Noah with his trail of satisfied one night stands. She had never been good enough and she would just have to deal with that fact.
Almost as if he was reading her mind, he put his finger under her chin, turning her gaze back to his before pushing the lose strands of her hair back from her face.
"Still don't think your good enough Rach?"
"I don't need saving Noah…and Beth; you did your best for her when you were still a child yourself. That little girl, she's safe now…and her parents…her parents they can't hurt her anymore and they'll be punished for what they've done. What matters is that you did your best and tomorrow you'll go out there again and you'll carry on doing your best because…because the next child might be luckier."
"Maybe Rach" he sighed, the tension seeping from his shoulders as he placed the bottle of Jack on the floor. "Come on, its gone 3 and Maria won't wait for an over sleeper."
Standing up he ignored the crack in his legs, clearly he'd had them curled up for way too long, he reached down to take her hands, swiftly pulling her to her feet before leading her to his bed, pulling the duvet back and pushing her onto the mattress. Picking up a pair of pyjama bottoms he kept for when she stayed (she was always moaning about him and Mike walking around in just their boxers) he made his way to the door, intent on changing in the bathroom, only to have to catch Mike as he fell through the door he'd had his ear pressed up against.
"You can stop listening in now Chang, shits sorted. Thanks man." He clapped his old friend on the back before heading into their bathroom and changing quickly, he had beautiful girl in his bed and he wasn't going to waste this opportunity to curl up with a warm body he knew wouldn't disappear in the morning unless it was to make him and Mike a decent breakfast because apparently coffee didn't count as being healthy.
Mike was still standing in the hallway with his mouth hanging open when he left the bathroom and he understood why. He'd come home from his shift pissed and had refused to speak but a few lines from Rachel and a whole lot of listening and he seemed to be ok again, maybe not fully ok but he would be.
"Don't fuck this up Puckerman; I don't wanna be picking up the pieces you leave behind."
Maybe the guy knew what he was on about more than he let on but he didn't need to worry. Both he and Rachel were as damaged as each other and maybe, if she let him, they could help fix each other although he was going to have to propose the idea after dinner in a nice restaurant rather than in his bed after he'd been drowning his sorrows in alcohol.
She'd already fallen asleep by the time he curled up in the bed with her, her hair splayed over the pillow and her knees curled up to her chest. Wrapping an arm around her waist he prayed that this wouldn't be awkward in the morning and that she wouldn't scream because she could hit notes that only dogs could hear.
When he shut his eyes that night and dreamt of lifeless eyes staring up at him and purple bruises tattooed across pale skin, of a child he couldn't save that soon morphed into the face of the daughter that was being raised by a woman who hadn't wanted her own, she was there shaking him awake, hugging him tightly around the waist whilst whispering that it'd be ok and that she wasn't going anywhere and God, he couldn't help but hope it was true because there were plenty more of those nights to come and he wasn't sure he could do it without her.