Author's Note: Well here it is. The end. Finally. This was such an insane story and I quickly realized just how big of a bite I had to chew while writing it, but hopefully the journey was realistic and enjoyable - including this end. It took longer to get out than I would have liked, but it is also much longer than usual and features what I believe to be the perfect balance of everything this story entailed (friendships, love, sexiness ...). As always, I want to thank everyone for being so awesome, especially those who have hung around during all this lag time (so not me!) and are still reading and reviewing. Hopefully you'll continue doing so with this last chapter.
Now that this one is done, I think I'll definitely be taking a step back from multichapter stories. However, I do have at least one one-parter that I want to write and post as soon as possible just because of the timing of things, and then there are other prompts I got when requested that were also interesting that I might give a try (if I can find the time). So, it might be the end of this one, but I'll still be around so hopefully I'll see your guys' names in the reviews of my future stuff! Thanks so much!
Disclaimer: The song used is "As Long As Your Mine" from the Wicked soundtrack. It was the original prompt and has been referenced more than once in the story, so it should be no big shock. I still can't get the verses to break up no matter how much HTML coding I try, so sorry about that!
Puck walked into the men's restroom, fiddling with the cuffs of his long-sleeve shirt to try to loosen them for the hundredth time. He was used to dressing up for glee and temple and stuff, so he wasn't acting like a five-year-old (as Quinn had assumed). Rather, it was the end of May and they were in Nashville, apparently in a building that was authentic because it hadn't upgraded to using a central air system like everyone else. He was legit swimming in balls soup and the bathroom was the one cool spot he'd been able to find in his hour of meandering.
"Oh," Sam said sheepishly, both boys stopping in their tracks and just staring at the other for a few moments. "Hey."
Puck cocked one eyebrow up mockingly, the other side of his mouth quirking up, too. "Hey," he mimicked, a short chuckle escaping as he shook his head. In any other instance, it would have been way weird to walk into the restroom and see another dude walking around in his boxers – especially when paired with a long-sleeve dress shirt and black socks – but Puck was just sorry to admit he hadn't been ballsy enough to do it. Granted, he wasn't used to wearing underwear all the time, so he had an excuse.
"It's really hot in that room."
"I know." Puck nodded, pulling the shirt from his pants and unbuttoning the tiny buttons to reveal a white undershirt. He instantly felt a draft swirl around his torso and he breathed a sigh of relief. "This is my third trip here."
Sam laughed, relief washing over his face. "Who decided that we needed to get dressed so far in advance?"
"I think Schue, but I heard Berry's voice in his reasoning." Puck leaned against the cold brick of the far wall, his eyes closing at the blissful sensation of not feeling like he was on fire. "I'mma melt on stage at this rate."
Sam nodded, slathering on another layer of deodorant under one arm and then moving to the next. "Are you nervous?"
"I'm nervous," he admitted after a scoff. "And I don't have a duet with powerhouse Rachel Berry."
Puck just shrugged, not knowing how to explain why he wasn't nervous. He wasn't even trying to be cool and just pretending not to be nervous. He really wasn't; he'd been nervous before (and during) his solo at sectionals, but that had nothing to do with the performance. And a duet with Rachel was pretty intimidating, but they'd sung together before and, outside of practicing a million times because it was Rachel, it was always pretty effortless.
They just sounded good together.
"Gross," Sam interrupted Puck's thoughts, shaking his head. "I can actually hear your thoughts."
Puck chuckled, shrugging his shoulders apathetically while continuing to let his mind wander. He and Rachel sounded good together because they had good chemistry. They always had, even before they crossed the lines of something less to friends to something more. It was probably what made it hard for them to let go of the other, a reason to fight for their relationship. Like something as good as them shouldn't be wasted, even if it was hard sometimes – more often than not because he was being an ass or she was acting like a lunatic.
"S'kinda crazy that it'll all be over soon, though," Puck remarked, deciding to go back to the prior conversation. "I can't remember when I wasn't in the fuckin' glee club."
"You still not doing it next year?"
Puck shook his head. "You?"
"Probably not." Sam shrugged, retrieving his dress pants from where they were hanging nicely over one of the stalls. "Athletics are a bit more time consuming in college, and I can't afford to lose my scholarship."
Puck sighed in agreement, knowing exactly what Sam meant. If it weren't for his full ride to Walden, Puck wouldn't even be going to college probably, let alone in New York. Sam was offered a few scholarships to a lot of different places for his insane baseball skills, but only a couple that would pay for everything. Sam had way better grades than Puck, though, and could have gone a lot further away if he wanted, but the blonde was really close to his family. His little siblings totally looked up to him, whereas Puck's little sister was already redecorating his room for when he left in August.
"I'll stick with being the cliché guy at the party with a guitar."
"Fastest way into a chick's pants, no question." Puck pushed himself off the wall, figuring he should follow Sam's cue; they'd been hiding in here awhile. "What?"
Sam stopped shaking his head, looking directly at Puck with a teasing smile. "Sometimes I'm amazed you're dating Rachel. Still."
"Fuck." Puck laughed, too, shaking his head as he turned and grabbed for the door handle. "Me too."
He walked out of the restroom as Sam was finishing buckling his pants, only getting a few steps away from the door before he spotted Finn down the hallway. The tall teen grimaced a smile in Puck's direction, loosening his tie as he walked closer. Puck could see the beads of sweat on Finn's brow, saw the way he was breathing heavily just from existing inside the space.
"I thought the air would be cooler up there," Puck joked, tilting his head up so Finn would understand he was making fun of his height.
"Not at all," Finn bemoaned, finally removing the tie and unbuckling the two top buttons of his dress shirt just so his neck could breathe. Puck still hadn't buttoned his back up, but Finn was also still weird about his body. "It's like an oven in here."
"Go to the bathroom." He snorted out a laugh when Finn stared at him blankly. Puck could almost hear Finn's thought process, wondering if he'd missed a science class that talked about how taking a leak would help cool him down. "S'the only place that isn't hot as a crotch."
Finn's eyes perked up. "Cool." The two switched positions, Puck intending to continue back to the room where the rest of New Directions were until Finn stopped him, his voice hesitant. "Just, like, good luck." Finn shrugged. "No hard feelings or whatever."
Puck nodded, knowing what Finn was talking about. It was no secret the tall teen was a bit pissed about not getting the lead duet with Rachel, especially because it was his senior year. He'd been somewhat of a pain in the ass for the past few weeks, but Puck knew it didn't really have to do with glee or even any pent up jealousy. The fact that high school was almost over really hit Finn hard after prom; Rachel had told him that Finn had said someone had said something to him afterward when he was wearing the prom king crown about peaking in high school. Puck wasn't supposed to know that, but he figured Finn was unconsciously trying to prove that person wrong.
And weren't they all, in some regard?
"Thanks." He started backing away even though they were still talking. "Kill your drum solo."
"Always do," Finn answered with a smirk, turning away and heading into the restroom while Puck continued toward the green room.
Or at least that was the plan. Unfortunately, someone else had a different idea in mind, swiftly grabbing him and pulling him into a dark room with little to no regard to his destination. Frankly, he didn't care because the room he'd been dragged into was almost ten degrees cooler than the bathroom, and he could hear the heavenly sound of a fan oscillating nearby. It also helped that he knew exactly who was pressed right against him, and no amount of heat was going to make him complain about that.
"I've been waiting for you."
"All your life?" He teased, his eyes slowly adjusting to the dark. He could make out the subtle lines of her face, the outline of her silhouette. Her hair was styled in some crazy updo that left some tendrils of curled hair framing her face, and he couldn't help but gently tug on one while his other hand planted onto her hip. The fan pushed his shirt open but he could only feel the scorched touch of her tiny hands on his abdomen.
"You were in the restroom forever," she stated, her fingers sneaking underneath the thin fabric of his undershirt. Puck hissed in response, and she couldn't help but smile. "Do I want to know?"
"It's fuckin' hot in this place."
"I have a remedy for that."
Puck smirked, cocking his eyebrows together and drawling out, "Oh yeah?"
She hummed in response, her hands moving up his chest and over his shoulders, sliding his dress shirt down and off his body but not daring to let the garment fall helplessly to the dirty floor. "Less clothes."
Puck breathed out a laugh and then inhaled the sweet scent of her shampoo wafting in the air courtesy of the fan. It was green apple this month and it smelled almost as good as she tasted. Then again, last month's cherry vanilla was pretty hard to beat; it was almost better than the lavender shit she'd been wearing during mid-terms. So damn calming and yet made him hard as a rock now whenever he smelled it growing in his backyard.
"Ms. Berry, are you trying to seduce me?"
Rachel giggled but didn't let his teasing stop her, which he was pretty thankful for. They'd been so busy this month between senior exams and nationals that they hadn't really been together other than a couple times – near prom and before exams, as a stress reliever. Legit, best thing about Rachel Berry for $1,000, Alex? Answer: Sex Kitten. He'd never been into the whole coy act before, but maybe that was because the other chicks he used to bang were just pretending. Rachel actually thought she was being sly when she'd approach him for sex, or she was just too fucking adorable to even care about how lame she'd tried to cover up how horny she was.
"Fuck, babe." Puck's head sagged to her bare shoulder when her hands reached dangerous territory, the damp skin of his forehead sliding against her perfectly smooth but slightly sticky skin. "We gotta go on soon."
"We can go fast," she purred.
And, yeah, any resolve that he might have had just flew out the nonexistent window. He'd already had her pressed against something and it didn't take long for him to hoist up her legs and place her on top of what he now knew was a table. Her breathy sigh was hot on his ear but didn't register as anything other than sinfully sexy, his hands tensing as he resisted the urge to rip whatever she was wearing off her body. Instead he hurriedly removed his own clothing, not bothering to step out of the pants considering he had no intention of doing anything more than just sliding her panties to one side before slamming into her.
"Noah," she hiccupped when she felt him slide against her center, her grip on his shoulders tightening painfully. She yelped out when he bit her shoulder softly, her head falling back a little. "No marks."
"Where anyone can see. I know," he grunted, sliding his tongue over the spot he'd just nibbled on. He could taste a hint of sweat and he was momentarily lost at how something so gross and unpleasant on him could be absolutely delicious and incredible on her. He moved to her neck and then under her ear, leaving a different kind of moisture in his wake. He got off on the feel of goosebumps rising on her thighs when the cool air from the fan mixed with the lingering moisture on her neck and jawline before he finally made it to her lips.
He groaned at the taste of apple from the chapstick she'd clearly used beforehand – likely just to fuck with him since she normally refrained from wearing shiny makeup during performances - pushing him far enough over the edge that he couldn't stand it anymore. He had to have her right then and he wasn't dumb enough to think he was going to be able to make it last. Luckily he knew enough tricks about his girl to have her screaming his name in no time, though she'd probably try to keep quiet considering the venue. And Rachel Berry trying to be quiet (and most always failing miserably)? Hottest. Thing. Ever.
"Ya want me to touch ya, baby?"
Rachel mumbled her agreement, leaning back onto her elbows and somehow arching her hips up at the same time even though her legs were wrapped tightly around him. Puck moaned at the new angle, both the resulting friction and the sight of her lithe frame tilted up so invitingly pushing him even closer than he already was. His fingers gripped the soft yet taut flesh of her perfect ass, pulling her impossibly close while he pounded into her. Rachel tossed her head back, a long, drawn out moan surrounding the pair until Puck moved one hand to tease the sensitive bundle of nerves right above where they were connected. After that, Rachel's voice became nonexistent, the pitch too high for humans to hear as she climbed the last leg of the mountain.
Before she tumbled completely over the edge, though, she reached down and removed his hand from her center, pulling it and him forward. She left a sloppy kiss on the palm of his hand before he moved it behind her neck and pulled her forward to meet his lips halfway. Their tongues mimicked his powerful thrusts, and Puck swallowed Rachel's gasp when she couldn't hold on anymore. His own orgasm followed closely behind, his thrusts slowing almost immediately and his torso hovering closely over hers after she collapsed in exhaustion; his arms weakly held much of his weight off her, but just barely.
"Holy hell," he huffed out, his breath slowly regulating.
Rachel laughed lightly. "Hot?"
"Ya always are," he stated gruffly, not really answering Rachel's question but earning himself a pleasant nonverbal reply of her own. Yes, the hot sex was unbelievable and he'd loved when Rachel shed those insecurities and allowed herself to be so open and free, but he liked the other side, too. When he wasn't with her, back during Finn and everything, Puck convinced himself that he couldn't do the monogamy thing because he sucked at talking about his feelings and didn't care about girl problems. But he actually liked the soft side of his and Rachel's relationship. He craved the tender, languid embraces, the ones that seemed to sing with the knowledge that she'd chosen him over everyone else for something other than just sex. She was proud of him, saw the good in him; she trusted him in every possible way, and he likewise.
"Are you ready for our duet?"
Rachel rolled her eyes at his joke, pushing at his chest while she rose to a seated position. She hopped off the table and smoothed down the skirt of her dress as soon as Puck stepped back and worked on replacing all his clothes. She snuck in and helped him with a few buttons, pressing another soft kiss to his lips as she tied his bowtie effortlessly. He pretended to try to straighten the bow that was on her dress - covering her cleavage but somehow amplifying it at the same time – but she swatted him away with a laugh.
"I'll see you out there." Rachel lifted to her toes, planting a hard kiss on his lips, likely to tell him without words to shut up. "I love you."
"Back atcha, babe."
Rachel accepted his words and the charming wink with a smile, well-versed in her boyfriend's terms of endearment. He was the strong and silent type, after all, and she'd be sorely disappointed if he returned her affections in a manner that was not his own. She knew how he felt and he surprised her by actually saying it from time to time – it actually made it more special when he did considering the words didn't just fall from his mouth every second – so instead of berate him, Rachel left the room without so much as a backward glance. She did it partially to make sure she actually left and didn't just stay inside the cooler sanctuary with her boyfriend, but also in case there was someone lingering in the hallway who might be suspicious of why she was inside the room to begin with. There wasn't, which likely meant that another group was on stage and New Directions was on next.
"I spent a lot of time on your hair for you to just go and let it get messed up."
Rachel turned at the sound of Kurt's voice, an innocent smile perched on her face. "Is it messed up?"
Kurt snorted out a laugh, shaking his head while he moved to her side and synced up with her fast-paced steps. "You've gotten much smarter over the past few months."
Rachel didn't respond more than a light giggle, which only proved Kurt's point more. While it was true that she was more sexually charged than others (and herself) might have expected, her sex life was not on for public broadcast. Most already assumed her active status based on the fact that Puck wouldn't have lasted as long as he'd had without that integral part of the relationship, and their sometimes heated embraces in the hallway weren't exactly subtle. But Rachel took the rumors and the jokes from those closest to her (and to Puck) in stride because she knew their relationship was so much more than just the physical.
"I got my roommate assignments today. Kyle something, also in the music program." Kurt shrugged. "He seems nice and whatever, but I'm still having trouble letting go of the plan we envisioned outside of Breakfast at Tiffany's in junior year."
"You made the right decision," Rachel reasoned, used to reassuring her friend. "And the NYADA campus is very close to NYU. We'll see each other all the time."
Kurt scoffed. "When you're not in Brooklyn visiting your boyfriend."
"Don't be ridiculous." Rachel's smile grew wider, almost devilish. "I don't have a roommate; he'll be visiting me."
"There you guys are!" Blaine interrupted Kurt's remark despite the latter's open mouth and likely witty comeback. "Santana had to take Mercedes outside. She thought she was going to pass out."
"Is she okay?" They both asked at the same time, their steps rushing in the direction Blaine was leading them.
The second the trio pushed open the front doors, Rachel saw Mercedes sitting on the top step with a bottle of water perched in her hands. Santana was standing close by, fanning herself with one of those old-fashioned hand fans that were intricately decorated. Given Mercedes current state, it would be easy to assume everyone was having difficulty dealing with the heat, but Rachel knew better than to mention such; Santana would likely turn the innocent remark around on the petite brunette, claiming it was a racially insensitive comment since she felt fine thanks to her Latin roots.
"I'm fine," Mercedes assured quickly, licking her lips. "Heat and nerves don't mix."
"Are you sure you are fine, Mercedes? Will you be able to perform?"
"You already have a duet. You want my solo, too?" The black girl joked, winking at Rachel as she stood up and wiped off any possible debris from the back of her dress. "Don't worry about me. Just try not to maul your partner on stage this year, mkay?"
Rachel rolled her eyes but nodded obediently, turning along with the rest of the group to head back inside. Everyone else was already in place backstage, Noah standing alone on the right side of the curtain. She knew it was silly considering she'd be singing with him on stage in less than a few minutes, but she had the urge to at least walk over and wish him luck. Not that he needed it; Mercedes might have been more correct in wishing Rachel luck, as both knew it wouldn't be easy for the latter to resist letting desire overcome her yet again.
The duet wasn't just a powerful song that would be sung by her and Noah, two people who happened to have amazing musical chemistry. But, more than that, the lyrics were still very much the foundation for their relationship, almost requiring Rachel to remember that first night and every day since then. It demanded her to feel the passion that was sparked whenever her and Noah were together, forced her to remember how much they've changed one another and to cherish every moment they had together whether it was one of many or the last.
Rachel turned, smiling softly. "Hello, Finn."
"I just wanted to wish you good luck." He looked down sheepishly, scuffing the shine off the top of one of his new shoes. "I already told Puck, but … I'm sorry about being a dick lately." He shrugged his broad shoulders, finally looking up at her. "You're my friend and I haven't been like, reciprocating that."
"We're still friends, Finn," Rachel assured, placing a gentle touch on his forearm. Things had been awkward between them all for the past couple of months, partially due to glee and partially due to Prom. Rachel honestly sighed in relief when Quinn and Finn won queen and king instead of her and Noah, even if she hadn't agreed with the pairing. She wasn't jealous – her and Noah fought about that more than once – but rather didn't appreciate Quinn using Finn (again) to win the title. Luckily Finn knew that's all Quinn wanted, and he kept a straight head the entire time; afterward, he and Quinn parted ways amicably, though it was a little weird in glee for a week or two despite the fact that Quinn hadn't really wanted to be in a relationship with Finn.
"Good." He grinned in that boyish way that only he could pull off, leaning down to give her a small hug. "Break a leg."
Rachel smiled brightly as she stepped back, winking as she said, "I love you, too," in as friendly of a manner as she could. They both laughed lightly at the inside joke, and then Rachel moved to the left side of the stage next to Mr. Schuester. Not more than a minute later, Rachel was walking to the middle of the stage, her eyes coyly catching Noah's as he positioned himself at the piano in the corner. In front of the microphone, Rachel inhaled that first big breath before she started singing her part of the duet.
Kiss me too fiercely
Hold me too tight
I need help believing
You're with me tonight
My wildest dreamings
Could not foresee
Lying beside you
With you wanting me
Just for this moment
As long as you're mine
I've lost all resistance
And cross some borderline
And if it turns out
It's over too fast
I'll make every last moment last
As long as you're mine
Rachel caught her breath, whirling around to face Noah as he transitioned his piano-playing role to the member of the band and moved to join her onto the stage. He stayed to her side, about twenty feet between them, but confidence oozed off of him. It made her blush for some reason, or maybe it was the look in his eye. She could read the expression too well, saw the love and pride swirling in the depths of his hazel eyes along with the swagger that made him irresistible on stage – and in life, honestly.
Maybe I'm brainless
Maybe I'm wise
Bot you've got me seeing
Through different eyes
Somehow I've fallen
Under your spell
And somehow I'm feeling
It's up that I fell
Puck turned away from the crowd, in sync with Rachel, and started to walk toward her just as she started the slow steps toward him while they sang together in harmony.
As long as you're mine
I'll wake up my body
And make up for lost time
Say there's no future
For us as a pair
And though I may know, I don't care
Just for this moment
As long as you're mine
Come be how you want to
And see how bright we shine
The two had moved around each other as choreographed, now circling one another in slow, deliberate steps while Puck sang the first two lines of the last verse before Rachel joined in again. By the time her voice melded with his once again, her hands were pressed gently against his chest while Puck kept one hand safely on the crook of her bent elbow and the other caressed her high cheekbone – the one opposite of the crowd because he knew better than to cover her face to the audience.
Borrow the moonlight
Until it is through
And know I'll be here, holding you
As long as you're mine
"What is it?" Puck questioned into his microphone, his breathing labored but his entire being focused on Rachel – and not just because it was supposed to be – as both their hands trailed down to meet together in between them.
"It's just, for the first time, I feel …" Rachel trailed off, staying in character even though she lost herself in his eyes and the gentle caress of his thumb across the width of her knuckles. She always felt confident on stage, but now it was different; now she felt confident everywhere, because of him. "Wicked."
The audience didn't have time to go crazy, Rachel's last whispered word triggering the rest of New Directions' set, including an original song led by Santana and Mercedes centered around being wicked and then an upbeat group number that the whole glee club wrote and choreographed months ago. For the first time ever – and it wasn't exactly something to brag about since it was the last competitive performance for the seniors – New Directions didn't have to come up with their set list or dance moves on the spot, and no one in the group hated someone else in the group.
It was perfect, and it was the exact reason why – again for the first time – the members of New Directions held nothing back when it was announced they had won fourth place. Artie fell out of his chair, Mike and Brittany did some crazy acrobatics, and Rachel jumped into Puck's arms in excitement. They weren't the only ones who embraced in a similar public display of affection, but they were the only ones whose tongues crept into the other's mouth in a tantalizing duel.
"You did it, babe," Puck breathed huskily into Rachel's ear once she pulled away from the kiss just to wrap her arms around his neck and hug him tighter.
"We did it," she whispered, pulling back and looking deep into his eyes, her own dancing with excitement. "And next is New York City."
Puck chuckled. "We gotta wait a few months, Berry." He laughed again when she legit pouted. "You'll be takin' over the Big Apple in no time."
Her bright smile returned, her head nodding in confirmation. "We both will."
He nodded just to appease her, but she knew him too well to know that he wasn't actually excited to move to New York. It wasn't just getting out of Lima; he could have done that no matter what, in a completely unconventional way that others predicted of him. But after getting accepted into Walden, Puck finally had confidence in himself to think he really could do anything he put his mind to. And while he wasn't certain what he was going to do when he "grew up", he was going to work his ass off just like Rachel would step on anyone she needed to in order to make it in Broadway.
And they were going to do it together. Not physically because they both had to live in the dorms for the first year of college for each of their scholarships, but they had already talked about afterward. Well, Rachel talked and Puck listened, which was still pretty incredible. Sure, he tuned in and out and sometimes shut her up by pushing her onto her back, but sometimes the two went hand in hand; it was hot that she thought about their future in such a real way, hot that she wanted him enough to envision their life together years down the road.
Not that he'd tell her that or anything.
"Whatdya say we chill tonight and bask in victory, and tomorrow ya can keep pickin' out drapes and shit for the future?"
Rachel rolled her eyes, but kept a smile on her face. "Very well." She leaned forward again, pressing her lips against his softly. It wasn't the first time he'd had to reel her back in, and already it was an inside joke between them; they both knew exactly what the other was thinking, because even though they were each excited for the future and whatever it may hold for them, the only thing that really mattered was the present. "As long as you're mine."