Don't stop believing
Just a small town girl
Living in a lonely world
She took the midnight train going anywhere
Just a city boy, living in south Detroit
He took the midnight train going anywhere
''One ticket, please.''
Her big brown eyes look at the locket on her throat and she struggles to tear her gaze from it. As she shrugs and brings her stare back to the man before her, she replies with; ''Anywhere.''
The conductor frowns and for the first time since she's been standing here, he looks up from the tickets. ''What?''
''Anywhere.'' She repeats easily. He's still looking warily at her. And as she shrugs for the second time, her fingers digging into the edge of the counter, she gives him one of her brightest smiles.
He blows out a sharp laugh and wrinkles his nose at the same time. He's old, Rachel settles for. The side burns growing are grey and he's balding at the top of his head. ''Do you want a train that leaves early – or are you intending to wait for a while?''
''I want I train that leaves now.''
He shakes his head, muttering something underneath his breath before pulling out a ticket.
She smiles at him as she takes it from his hands, grasping both of her suitcases in her hands and strutting away.
This is it.
She's finally doing this.
Noah Puckerman isn't determined. He never knew what he wanted out of life and at eighteen he still doesn't know.
But he's going to be honest. He had some options. Some thing's that required thinking about tomorrow, about later, about the future. Sometimes he was forced into this tiny little corner, reluctantly having to think about what he wanted out of life. It's like what his philosopher teacher sometimes asked; what is the meaning of life? What does he want out of life? He wants many things – like good grades, a chick that won't lie, a dad that sticks around, a mom that doesn't expect too much out of him, so if he fails ('cause he will fail) she's not going to ball her eyes out and mourn her young little infant son that seemed like a promising boy before.
He doesn't know what the meaning of life is, and he's not intending to look for an answer, too.
But that's him. That's what he wants. But the people around him – the ones that claim to love him, want the best for him – they force him to look at tomorrow, and next week, next month, next year. They expect him to look for the answers; to know what he wants… and shit if the responsibility isn't too much for him to handle.
'Cause it is.
He doesn't do running when it flames, he doesn't do running when he's scared, not when it's hot, not when it's cold, not when it's both or in between. He doesn't do running because it reminds him too much of his father. And fuck it – 'cause he's nothing like he's dad. And no one can ever claim otherwise.
He's not running.
Fuck it, 'cause he's not running away.
He's not escaping either, because that's a sissy act.
What he's doing is more a 'taking a break' than anything else.
He's taking a break from mom, from Quinn, from friends and football scholarships and music and people that want him to look at things beyond their now.
It's a short break that requires packed bags a one way ticket to… somewhere (he doesn't know where life's going to bring him, but he'll see it sooner than later) a note on his bed for his mom and a phone that's shut down, 'cause he can't risk anyone calling him and dragging him back.
He gazes at his things in the small booth, feet propped up on the seat before him and his arms propped at the back of his head.
This is just a temporarily break. He'll go back.
''Is this booth… four?'' She frowns at the number above the door as she hovers in its framing. She has her eyes glued to the ticket in her right hand and her two bags tightly in her grasp behind her.
''Yeah. It is.''
She looks up from the ticket as soon as she hears a male voice.
It's a handsome young man who looks about her age. He's got a ridiculous Mohawk, yet it oddly fits his framed face. His beautiful hazel eyes rake her body cautiously, while his lips rise up into a smirk.
She coughs lightly, causing his eyes to move to hers once more. ''Oh.'' She pipes out, stepping in the booth and dragging her suitcases with her. She turns around as soon as she closes the door and has managed to get her hot pink suitcases in the booth. ''I'm Rachel.'' She utters brightly, sharing her smile with him.
He juts his chin. '''S Puck.''
She's never been fond of trains.
The food is disgusting. There are too many people around her and sometimes it's just so noisy; not even the doors can close off all the sounds. Thereby there's a chance that she'd be sharing her booth with rapist – a child molester – or even a serial killer.
But today, taking a trip with the train is necessary.
It was a long time coming; leaving Lima, moving to bigger and better places. She knew, undoubtedly that one day Lima would be a part of her past, a nightmare that'd occurred long ago while New York (dear sweet New York) would become it all. Her dream, her life, her everything.
She had it all planned.
Then the rejection letter from NYADA came.
No more New York, no more dreams, no more Finn with whom she had broken up with because of her dreams. No more proving unbelievers wrong, no more anything.
She broke down.
She didn't get in. Kurt didn't get in.
The school was just too good for her. And she felt like nothing if not worthy for NYADA.
She never told a soul, she even lied to Kurt about it. He now thinks that she's still waiting for her letter, when in reality she had gotten it and shred it to pieces, the stains of her tears still lying at the heart of crime.
There was only so much a girl could take.
Bullying – check.
Lying – check.
Heartbreaks – check.
Dream shattering – inadequate of checking.
And perhaps it was the fear of facing her peers with the truth. Facing all of the unbelievers and telling them, that they were right. They were right, all along. Perhaps she couldn't tell the people who did believe her that she failed, she couldn't disappoint them.
This was a one way road, and the only way to escape it was running.
Yes, Rachel Berry wasn't fond of trains, but today became an exception.
He's been watching her. Staring at her. Gazing at her. She has brown long hair with bangs hanging loosely over her face, full lips stained picture perfectly while her brown chocolate eyes look through the window. And God, has he been looking at her body, at those long legs peaking from underneath her skirt.
Total stranger or not – looking never killed anyone.
He licks his lips. ''You need help?''
She turns around to look at him with a frown. She's been thinking, he knows that 'cause he knows that faraway look, he's done that before.
She needs to stop thinking.
If he thinks back at what he just said – it kind of sounded dirty.
He doesn't regret it.
''With your suitcases.'' He clarifies with a smirk.
She blows out a light sigh of relief, bobbing her head up and down as her hair moves over her shoulders. ''Yes… if you… don't mind?''
It almost sounds like she's scared to ask.
Which is kind of cute.
''Yeah, totally. Don't mind.''
''Where're you from?''
He starts lightly, asking her questions in the hope to know her better.
She narrows her eyes a bit. Like she's trying to pin-point if he can be trusted. Which, he can. He's not some kind of snitch. If she's like running away from home, or maybe a mental institution, yeah, he's not going to snitch her.
She shrugs. ''Lima.'' She settles on. ''Ohio.''
He widens his eyes. That shit hole. She's far from home. ''Damn.'' He flutes through his teeth.
He prompts his feet right next to her on the sofa. The booth is small, and his legs are long. So yeah, it's possible.
Something shifts through her eyes but it goes just as fast as it came.
''You're from New York.'' She states it, never asks.
He still nods. ''Yeah.''
''It's nice isn't it? New York.'' She sounds kind of sad, and he's a bit intrigued to her story now.
''It's alright.'' He shrugs. ''It's a great place, if you like noise and traffic and shit.''
Now she really sounds sad. ''I don't.'' He puts in. He receives a shocked look from her when he purses his lips; she's still got her eyes all wide and shit like he's offended her or somethin'. ''It's not all that great y'know. I could live without it.''
He really could. Like a day, or two. Maybe forever.
''You're so lucky and you don't even know it.'' He doesn't know if she means it to diss him, or if she's just trying to state something that's logic to her.
It's not. He's not.
He snorts. ''I'd rather sleep between the cows than be in New York again.'' He sighs. ''It's not… like, it's not bad or something.''
''No it isn't.''
''But –'' he goes on. ''It's not great either. I could go without.''
They sit there, quietly. He thinks that she's reflecting about his words, and he's reflecting about hers.
Then she shakes her head like something wrong just crawled inside her mind and needs it to get out.
''Where are you going to?''
It was silent for thirty minutes, maybe even longer, he's not counting. She's been moving on her seat for a while now, like she's itchy to get something out. Then she propped her feet before her on the couch, leaning her body on her knees as she stared at him searchingly. He's not nervous underneath her stare – not really nervous. But she's got these big brown eyes that look at him – like really, really look at him.
''I don't know.'' He replies. He shrugs and she nods.
''Neither do I.''
He grins. ''So we're just sitting here, on our way to Neverland?''
This time she grins too. And he actually really believes her. She looks indecisive, as if she wants to know something or go somewhere, be some place, but she doesn't know where, or how, or if she should even be doing this.
He wonders if New York connects with this somehow.
''Did you ever.'' She pauses, looking up at him. He frowns thoughtfully. ''Did you ever, want something so bad… that'd you'd break everyone who'd step in your way?''
He waits, thinking. Than shakes his head. ''No.''
Did. He holds onto that did, because that's as far as he has gone to knowing about her. ''No more, do?'' He asks.
She shrugs. She doesn't know.
''Maybe.'' Than she exhales and slowly shakes her head. ''No.''
It's a 'no' that took a lot out of her to utter.
It's eleven o'clock pm and Rachel's sleeping. She has both her hands tugged up under her cheek while her head rests on top of her hands. Her legs are on the sofa as she leans up against the window with a blanket covering her body.
She's cute, he settles on.
''I was thinking.'' She pauses eating while she looks up at him. She's consuming a salad, but secretly the burger he's chewing on is more appetizing. She wants a vegan burger though.
''Yes?'' She wonders, swallowing the food down with a bottle of water.
He shrugs, laying his burger down as he stares at her. ''You don't know where you're going… I certainly don't know where the hell I'm going… so why don't we 'not know where we're goin', together?''
''Like, what if we go together. It could be like an… adventure.''
Giggling, she puts the bottle down, as she sees his face light up. It's a tempting idea. Besides, he could tell her a little bit about New York and she could have some more time to think what she's going to do next.
''I like that.''
They've been taking trains after trains after trains. Using their money to buy food when needed, and tickets that were required.
Somehow, they end up in LA, and she's nearly broke when she steps on the platform. He's smiling from eye to eye while she's moving from foot to foot.
She's nervous. That's what the swirling in her tummy is trying to state. She's scared. What if she's thinking about this all wrong – what if what's she's doing is all wrong? She's worried. Are her fathers scared, do they miss her? Have they sent in a search for her?
What is she even going after?
''This is it.'' Puck states, bobbing his head. ''New life.''
''I thought we were just going to escape for a while.''
He shakes his head when he looks down at her. She's clutching her suitcases while his bags are on his shoulders. ''We don't escape, Rach.'' He purses his lips staring back ahead. ''We're just… taking a break.''
She nods hesitantly. Just a break. Not running. Not escaping. Just a break.
''From what exactly?'' She asks.
''Everything.'' He replies in a heartbeat.
''I think I need a job.''
They wander through the streets, her pink suite cases shimmering in the darkness while he struts –hops– next to her. She steels glances once in a while at his face, just because she wants to.
She resumes with talking. ''Like a… waitress.'' She instantly shakes her head. Too small for her. ''A dancing waitress.'' Or, no. ''A singing waitress!'' She purses her lips. ''A singing, dancing, roller-skating waitress.''
He barks out a laugh at her last suggestion. But she's actually quite serious.
''And I'll be.'' He frowns, as she looks up at him. He can't finish his sentence and it's quite sad to see him looking for an answer.
She knows what she wants – well she thought she knew – yet it's easy for her to come up with these suggestion even if they do sound a bit… off putting.
In the end though, her heart still beats for the music, for singing… for Broadway.
''You could be my manager, because I'm so good at my job and people would love to have me in their shows. And you're very tempting when you need to be, thus you could easily put the fear into the ones that try to claim me. I mean, think about it.'' Her eyes widen, staring ahead at the mere thought of it. ''We could be rich… filthy rich.''
He laughs again. Louder this time. It's a good sound.
''I've got…'' He counts his money. Frowning, he re-counts it. ''Forty bucks, you?''
She holds hers in her right hand. ''Sixty-five.'' She tells him honestly.
They both look down at the freakishly short man before them. It's a shocker, 'cause Puck never thought that someone could be shorter than Rachel next to him.
Seriously, she's like a midget.
''Twenty five bucks for a week, and a room is thirty.''
For that shitty looking motel? He got better back in New York.
They'll take it.
She wasn't kidding about that whole 'she needs a job' thing. And she seriously got up, the moment she discarded her stuff into the cramped little motel room they're sharing (they didn't have enough cash for separate rooms), asked one of their new neighbors for a newspaper, and started searching for a job.
And to top it, she seriously found one. As a singing-waitress.
It's kind of a burlesque thingy but she reassures him (the fuck does he need reassuring's for? He barely even knows her) that she's not going to strip down, waiter and sing to her costumers.
She will however be wearing something exposing, but not too much.
Which is fine by him.
''Why did you decide to… take a break?''
He turns over in the couch, his hand behind his ear propping him up.
She's looking at him, searchingly. Her chocolate eyes shifting slightly. It's scary, like she's trying to looking in his eyes, than through his blood and then in his heart. He shifts.
''New York is great.'' She states out of the ordinary. Her tongue darts out wetting her lips. His stare falls to them. ''It's amazing.'' She sounds so hell bend to compliment the state – have it sound so damn unique. ''Everyone wants to go to New York.'' She smiles softly. ''You lived in New York.'' Yeah he did. 'S not so special. She prompts herself better on the bed. ''Why did you want to leave?''
There are a lot of answers he could give to that 'why' of hers. But he settles on none.
''Why don't you tell me something about Lima?'' She flinches visibly.
''I asked you first.''
''I didn't know about that unspoken rule where the first person who asks a question is the one to receive it first.''
This seems to shut her up for a moment. A tiny moment.
''Then I'm breaking it.''
She rolls her eyes. ''Whatever.'' She turns around, so he's staring at her back and ass. It's a good sight. He could get used to it.
She's an amazing singer.
No. Amazing doesn't even cut it.
She's just… impeccable.
He knew she could sing – or he had a hunch. She talked about singing, sometimes. Not always, because he picked up that talking about it kind of made her sad. Like it was physically hurting her to talk about singing.
But then he sees her. There. On that stage holding a microphone like it's hers. Like she owns it. Like she owns everything around her – the song, the beat, the dance, the eyes – she owns it.
She knows it. He knows she knows. Just by looking at her, how she sparkles, how she moves, how she smiles, how she lets it out. She not only sings it, she liter-fuckingly becomes it. And it breaks him a little bit that she never sings when they're together. Truth be told, she never ever sings. But with a voice like that she should sing. She could become a star.
A big star.
He walks up to her, entranced by her movement, by her voice, by her face.
And when she catches sight of him, beneath her long eyelashes; she smiles, Rachel-like.
''You're amazing.'' He tells her as they walk together through the dark streets. She's swinging her purse from side to side, hopping along him like a small teenage girl. ''You were amazing.''
''I felt amazing.'' She exclaims, that never ending smile on her face. It sparkles in her eyes, hugs her cheeks in the right way. ''I loved it.''
''So why don't you sing? I mean, you never sing. That's got to be the first time that I ever heard you sing.''
''You don't know me all that well, Puck.'' His name falls off her lips and it still tastes so foreign. ''Four days is not enough.''
He knows that, though. He knows that he doesn't know her. He knows that all too well. But they could change that, couldn't they? ''Than enlighten me Rachel. Why don't you sing?''
''Why do you even want to know?''
''You shouldn't be.'' She insists. ''It's not a good feature.''
''I still am.'' He points out. ''I doubt that's going to change any time soon.''
She stays silent for the rest of the evening – and he falls into the same pattern that surpasses every night; watching her move.
After a week, he finally puts his phone on.
And on the screen flicker thirty-three missed calls, and twenty-one text messages.
Honestly, it surprises him that people cared enough for him to see how he's holding up. It's a shocker, 'cause he never thought that anyone really cared about him to check up on his disappearance.
But it's a good feeling that he gets, like a light flutter in his chest.
He checks the calls, and half of them are from his mom and sis as the rest exceeds from all his friends and even a few from Quinn.
He doesn't dare to watch the ones from Quinn – after he broke up with her she kind of, a little bit, lost control. He can't deal with that shit, 'cause there's only so much crazy that a guy can take.
When he reads the last text message he's kind of glad that he escaped (took a break) from that hell hole. Because if he was there right now he'd be talking to a recruiter for a football team and receiving letters from art schools that'd be glad to have him. They're not fancy schools like Juilliard or Tisch, but it's something.
He's just not ready for anything.
She tells him about Broadway two weeks in.
She's talking about it as if it's her world. Like she breathes it, eats it, sleeps with it. It's her heart, her soul, her everything. And he's heard her sing – and can she sing – and he's heard about Broadway before he ever even met her, so he's just positive, hundred percent sure; that she'll do Broadway a favor by heading up there and demand a position. But that's the thing; she doesn't make it sound like she's going after what she craves for. She talks about it, wants it (he knows want, and that shit in her eyes is want) but she isn't going for it.
He doesn't know – maybe he's just looking too much in it – but his mom always told him that if he wants something so badly, so, so, so, so badly, he needs to go for it, or else he'd regret it. It kind of makes him think. He wonders what he wants badly. What does he crave for?
He craves to succeed, to overcome. To become someone. He doesn't know what yet, he has always loved playing the guitar singing a bit rock, playing football, doing math and maybe the things he's good at might help him succeed. He just needs to talk about it, breathe it, and move with it, like Rachel does.
''Why don't you become a Broadway star or something?'' He shrugs, nonchalantly as she stabs her salad with a fork. The girl really needs to scratch the salad and eat something heavier. ''Suites you.''
She shakes her head. ''No. I – I… It's nothing for me.'' She sounds distant, playing with her food as she stares down at it. He listens to the tune of her slow breath. ''It's silly, isn't it?'' She looks up, just in time to hear the birds chirp around them. ''Broadway… star.'' She laughs haughtily, disbelieving. ''So illogical.''
''No, it's not. What's illogical are the people who can't dream big.'' It's kind of funny how he's trying to talk her out of becoming like him; someone who can't dream big. ''The kind of people who don't know what to do with their lives… even… even when things get thrown their way.''
She frowns, thoughtfully, dropping her fork on the plate. ''At least they don't have to suffer rejection.''
''So?'' He puts in. ''It's good to get rejection. It's like the world's way of saying; 'I wanna see how much you want it. How bad are you goin' to fight for it'.'' He pauses, she frowns tighter. ''Like you said, you wanted something; you stood on everyone to get it. It might not be the best way to go for it, but at least you know what you want. At least you know your goal.''
As he revolves his own words into his mind he finally has the answer to his philosophy teacher.
The reason to why they're living; it's… it's something that everyone's going to figure out later in life. It's something that he wants to achieve on his own. Something that makes life worth living.
''But what if… what if it feels like there's no way at getting it?''
He shakes his head as he looks up at her. ''There's always a way.''
And during their lunch, here in the middle of LA, he might've answered his own questions, too.
She sends a letter to NYU.
She was thinking about it for days, never really preformed the action, but always came close at writing her application form down. She thinks that the lunch (date) with Puck, determined it all. That agonizing flame inside her heart, the one that burns the brightest during her shift as a waitress, during her performance while hundreds of hungry luscious eyes detain her form, that flame that can't seem to die out, even as the truth of the rejection letter fell on her like buckets of water. That's the one she's following.
The small stage at her workplace isn't enough anymore – she needs bigger.
The answer she receives a week later has restored her hope.
She's going to NYU!
As soon as the letter is in her grasp, and Puck steps in from God knows where, she jumps up at him. He's fast in catching her before she falls down, but in his haze has let the keys of their motel room fallen down to the floor.
Neither cares enough to pick them up, though.
''I'm going to NYU!'' She exclaims, smiling down at him. ''Can you believe it?''
He's happy as he smiles and nods. ''Yeah. I can.''
They leave LA as soon as she quits her job.
It's a good thing that she's worked for a few weeks because the tips that she's gotten can really help them along. Who knew that parading half naked and singing a song could really help along?
(He's made her promise him though, that she won't take a job like that one ever again.)
As they sit in the train awaiting the long road to come, he sees her looking at her mobile phone. She's toying with the little thing in her hands and staring at it like she's contemplating about doing something.
''Hey.'' He starts, pulling her out of her demeanor. ''You okay?''
She casts him a fast glance before looking back at her phone. ''Um.'' She shakes her head, nodding eventually before looking back at him with a smile. ''Yes.'' She puts her phone in the smallest pink suitcase, zipping it up and handing it over to him so he can put it on the racks. ''I'm fine.''
''Do you want to go back to New York… I mean… there must be a valuable reason for you to leave. I – I don't want you to feel like you owe me something.''
He shakes his head like she's just said the stupidest thing ever. Maybe he wants to go because he feels like it's the right time. Maybe he wants to go because he's got some things to work out. Maybe he wants to go with her because he feels like it.
''I want to, Rachel.''
She nods, biting her lips as she looks at him.
He knows she's dying to ask him why he left the beautiful state in the first place, but she doesn't want to be nosy.
If she'd ask – he'd tell her the truth.
She doesn't ask.
It's midnight, the stars are illuminating the heaven and the clouds are nowhere near in sight. He's been sleeping for the past three hours and as he finally cracks one eye open, he sees the petite brunette toying with the phone that she put inside her suitcase before.
How the hell did she managed to get up there without breaking her neck?
She stares at the dimmed screen, her fingers brushing the keys.
''What're you doing?''
She sits up to look at him her phone tightly in her grasp. ''I didn't know you were awake.''
''And I didn't know you we're capable of growing taller.''
She rolls her eyes. ''For your information, it took me a lot to take my bag from up there… I'm sure I sprained a muscle.'' She hisses.
He grins, shaking his head. She's so dramatic. ''So how 'bout it?''
''It's nothing.'' She shrugs, crossing her legs over each other. ''I just… I was thinking… about my dads.''
''I have two dads.''
Oh, so two gay dads. That's cool.
''Why where you thinking about them?''
She frowns. ''You know.'' She licks her lips. ''I have already told you about me, but you never seem to tell me something about you.''
''You never asked.''
She huffs. ''You don't seem like you want to kiss and tell.''
He caught her right there, didn't he?
''Okay… so talk.''
He sits up, moving so he's looking directly at her. ''I left New York because people expected things from me.'' He shrugs, looking away. ''I felt like, like it was too much, you know. Too much responsibility – I didn't want to disappoint anyone.''
''So… you ran?''
''Took a break.'' He corrects. ''I didn't run, I took a break.''
Shit, what's so hard to understand from this? It was just a freaking break.
''Then tell me honestly, Puck. Did you have any intention in going back?''
That's the icebreaker. Here's where the truth comes out.
And when he frowns thoughtfully, hard, his hazel eyes ceasing to exist of purity, he shakes his head. He had no intention to ever going back. ''No.''
''Then the truth to the matter is; you ran.''
''It was just too much.'' He mutters in defense. ''I couldn't please every-fucking-one!''
He feels hostile.
''I know. No one blames you.''
''They just… they all thought; Puck's going to go far, Puck's going to be a football player, my brother's going to be an accountant, he's going to be a musician… fuck it, okay! It was just too much.''
''I ran too, you know!'' She presses her lips together. He looks at her. ''I felt like a failure too.'' She blows out a laugh; shameful and bitter. ''I told everyone that I would become a star – that I would show all of them what I'm capable of. I broke up with my boyfriend, I put all my hopes in getting into NYADA – if I stayed, I'd be the laughing stock!'' She shakes her head; like that suggestion is out of the question. ''I wouldn't. I – I refused to. But, not getting into NYADA… I just thought that maybe I wasn't as good as I claimed to be. That my dreams were this farfetched star that couldn't be touched.'' She exhales long and breathlessly, like it's physically hurting her to say this.
His face falls, he feels sorry for her.
''So I left… because running seemed better than facing everyone.'' She looks up at him with tear shimmering eyes. He breaks a little inside. ''But now I have a chance. My dream is still alive.'' Her cheeks rise as if someone inflicted a needle filled with nitrous oxide in her face. ''I might've lost sight of what I wanted for a few weeks, but now I know it. Now I know,'' she points her index finger against her chest. ''What I really want. A – and I won't stop until I've reached it.'' She said what she wanted to say, jutting her chin his way. ''So how about you, do you know what you want?''
Hearing her talk clarifies that he doesn't know. But he's close at finding.
The smile on her face seems like it's going to break free any minute now.
''I'm finally here.''
She's twirling slowly, staring all around her at the people surrounding her. He's grasping the strap of his back tightly, in return.
She's out of her mind. He knew that, living with her for a few weeks it's bound to come to his attention. But he kind of likes it. He likes her.
''This is it.'' She states happily. ''I'm here!''
She stays like that with her arms spread next to her as the people that pass them by confusedly look at her, for a while. Enjoying the air, the sound of cars, the smell of gas. Enjoying New York in general.
''I made it!''
They both knew that this little thing they had going on was bound to end. It wasn't meant to last forever. They both enjoyed their selves, both learned what they wanted, both accepted that running wasn't the right option.
He's still in the mist of what he wants, but he's slowly getting there.
When they stand there, his backs wrapped around his shoulder and her suitcases tightly in her grasp, he can't bring his self to say goodbye. Because, maybe he doesn't want this to end. Maybe he wants to experiment a little bit, get to know her more, tell her his real name. Kind of let her in. She's nice, smart and hot as hell. They could make it work. Like, they're going to be in New York, they're bound to meet (it's a big place but anything can happen), so why not seal the deal right now?
But then she's the first one to say goodbye and hug him against her chest and break all the things that could've been something. Anything.
It sucks 'cause he can't find the strength to tell that he likes her, wants her number, wants to date, wants to try something, anything.
''We'll see each other soon. I'm sure.''
He can't believe that he's seriously nodding because New York is big. There's no chance in hell that he's ever going to see her again.
And then she kisses his cheek and she's gone.
Like she's never been there before.
''Mom…'' He steps into his house, slamming the door shut with his foot. ''Mom. You there?''
He walks deeper into his house, stepping into his living room and dropping the bags on the floor. He's so exhausted, he cracks his neck. Seriously fucking tired. He needs a soft bed with pillows, because sleeping in a train has him tensed everywhere.
He turns around and as soon as he catches sight of his mother stepping of the stairs, her eyes entranced to his face, he smiles. She's got bags underneath her eyes and it seems like she hasn't slept in days.
Her eyes widen, a tiny little smile creeping up her lips. ''Noah?''
She takes the last few treads of the stairs and runs up to him before falling into his waiting arms. ''Oh God.'' She pushes herself of him her smile disappearing and making room for a frown.
Then she slaps him. Hard.
''Where have you been! Do you know how worried sick I was? Do you know how scared I was?''
''Mom – shit –'' his cheek tingles. ''Why'd you do that for?''
She follows up shoot with a fat as rant that he's tuning out. Its stuff about the people who'd missed him, his detail-less note, the schools and recruiters calling and calling and calling.
He's kind of glad that he's missed out on them.
''You're senior year is almost over and you still haven't found a school yet.''
''Relax, ma.'' He rolls his eyes. ''I already know which school I want.''
He's been thinking about it. Wondering what he wants more. What's going to make he feel good about himself.
She looks surprised, and he's not going to judge her, 'cause he's kind of surprised too. Puck, finally making a decision. Yeah, totally surprised. ''You do?''
She's starting NYU.
And it seems like all her dreams are accessible now.
At first she didn't know what to do after she left Puck. Where was she going to live and sleep and how in Heaven's name would she attain a diploma without ever finishing McKinley high? What was she doing alone without barely enough money in her pocket, anyway? Perhaps she had to follow Puck; he might have a spare bedroom for her for a while until she cleared her head up. But that option was soon thrown down when she left him.
(She blames that feeling in her chest that couldn't stand looking at him knowing that this was their end.)
It was natural that her second option was calling her fathers, explaining them everything from 'A to Z', from rejection letter to New York. From anxiety to satisfaction, about what has happened in the past couple of weeks. And as soon as she was done calling they saved her; sending money for her to travel back to Lima and finish school and afterwards settling in New York.
A win – win deal she assumes.
But then came facing her friends and peers and the truth came out.
Needless to say Kurt was angry, fuming pissed, but at least he understood from where she was coming from.
He surprises her a month later with his own acceptance letter to NYU and they rejoice together with alcohol tangled with a hangover the next day.
It's not a shocker to anyone that she gains her diploma – it's not a shocker to anyone when she leaves two days later with Kurt in toll heading to New York.
And the first exhale of air seems to be the best. The first smell that invades her nose is perfection. New York is wonderful; it's just as in her dreams. And NYU, the first look only has her stomach perform rapid cartwheels; the first step through the hallways sends shivers up her spine.
Then she looks up and sees him standing against the wall next to a classroom with that smirk on his face and his arms crossed over his chest like he owns the place.
He sees her, the moment she looks up at him. As if he could feel her gaze drill into his face.
The smirk never fades as he pushes his self from the wall.
''I was wondering when you'd get here.''
She frowns. He was waiting for her? And here she thought that he has forgotten all about their escapades.
She never forgot about him – she couldn't.
''You were waiting?'' She frowns, step by step moving closer. ''What are you even doing here?'' Her ballets tap the floor. ''Not only doesn't school start for another half hour – but I'm pretty sure you need to be a student to come here.''
''Who said I'm not?'' He grins, moving up towards her. ''And…'' As she stops before him his hand reaches out to grasps hers. It feels nice. Very nice. ''I had to come early, I couldn't risk the possibility that you'd scrammed before I ever saw you.''
The frown substitutes, making way for a smile. ''You came here for me?''
He shrugs nonchalantly. ''Yeah… well partly. I mean, I could still do music, in my spare time, and I always wanted to become a kickass accountant. Math's like cake to me.''
She grins, shaking her head, cocking one perfectly shaped eyebrow up. ''I thought that you didn't know what you wanted to do.''
''I mean… like in my far, far, far unconscious.''
''I wondered when we'd meet each other again.'' She tells him truthfully. This might actually work. ''I just never expected it to be so soon.''
They could actually work.
He leans forward, his lips gracing hers. ''Then you need to expect the unexpected, Rachel.'' He mutters, his warm breathe oozing against her face.
Unbeknownst she leans upwards on her tippy toes following his lips, her eyes nescient falling close. ''I guess I do, Puck.''
''It's Noah.'' He mutters before capturing her lips in his.
Don't stop believin'
Hold on to that feelin'
Disclaimer: I don't own Glee.