Title: Take Me to the Riot
Summary: Saturday nights in neon lights, Sunday in the cell… RachelxPuck, RachelxSantana, PuckxSantana, SantanaxRachelxPuck. Part 1 is Puckleberry.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything.
Take Me to the Riot
Your summer starts badly.
You have plans to really exercise your vocal chords and expand your singing range to include the ever elusive F6 note while also honing your showmanship skills and incorporating contemporary dance into your repertoire over the next couple of months but your plans are thrown out of the windows when your dads inform you, over breakfast crepes no less, that you are to get a summer job.
"Sweetie, your showmanship skills are fantastic but a job will help you hone your people skills." Daddy says, pouring orange juice into your glass while you stare at him in disbelief.
You argue and plead but in the end not even a perfectly executed lone tear trickling from the corner of your eye is enough to sway either of your fathers.
"Fine!" You finally cry after minutes of fruitless arguing, standing from the table quickly. "But let it be known that I'm firmly against this. I mean, the economy is in the toilet and there are people who need jobs far more than me. In fact, it would be selfish of me to take a job from someone who needs it. Maybe someone with a son or daughter…I mean, really Daddy, think of the children."
Dad doesn't even look up from his newspaper when he says "Sweetie, my business partner put in a good word for you at Sheets N Things. You have an interview tomorrow." Which means he completely misses you stomping out of the kitchen which is a shame because its one of your better storm outs.
3 days after your interview they offer you the job and you reluctantly take a position at Sheets N Things because you have no other choice but that fact doesn't stop you from immediately regretting it on the very first day of orientation when Noah Puckerman of all the people in the world, walks in 45 minutes late, eating a breakfast burrito and this very well maybe the worst summer of your life.
He slides into a plastic chair directly behind yours, long legs sliding beneath your seat and you fist your hands around the sexual harassment pamphlet and pretend the hair at the back of your neck isn't standing on end when he leans forward.
"I didn't know they hired midgets here, Berry." He laughs in your ear, breath smelling of salsa and fingers curling in the open spaces in the slotted back of your chair and you roll your shoulders against the instinct to cower, an impulse you fight every time someone finds another reason to hurl an insult or a delicious iced beverage at you.
"You're probably too stupid to know this but its illegal to deny someone employment based on their stature or any other sort of disability or handicap if the duties of the job are within their physical and mental limitations." You hiss over your shoulder. "Also, bite me Puckerman."
Thankfully, you and Puck work in two different sections and he's way too distracted by all the hot mothers that are perpetually in search of the perfect bath towels and stealing soap dispensers to really mess with you which means your first 2 ½ weeks of work go relatively smoothly
But as it turns out your first 2 ½ weeks at Sheets N Things are your only 2 ½ weeks there.
Sheets N Things runs on a very strict 3 strikes policy and you manage to get two immediately, the first for suggesting the sheets be put on display according to thread count instead of by color and the second quickly follows when you and Howard Bamboo attempt to unionize the staff. You gather that Sheets N Things is not the type of place that appreciates ingenuity.
The third and final strike comes courtesy of Sandy Ryerson.
Honestly, you don't really do anything more than suggest that he wear longer shorts, maybe a board short or even opt for a pant because his shorts were obscenely short and children come to this store. You thought you were doing him a favor but the next thing you know he's screaming for a manager and calling you short and envious of his 'gams' and a life ruiner.
He's still ranting like a lunatic, sweat stains forming on his pink polo and his finger poking you in the chest when Puck appears out of nowhere, giving Sandy a one handed shove that wouldn't rattle a small child but sends Sandy sprawling down aisle 7.
After, you're closed up in the managers office with Puck sitting in the metal folding chairs beside yours, limbs spread carelessly and you're informed that you're fired...both of you.
Puck for assaulting a customer and you because insulting Sandy, a distinguished shopper of all things Sheets N Things, is strike three.
The manager calls you Randy Johnsons, says he's never seen so many strikes so fast and Puck snickers.
"Why did you help me?" You wonder later as you clean out your locker and Puck steals all the lunches in the employee refrigerator. "I mean, you're hardly ever nice to me so why did you defend my honor this time?"
"I was not defending your honor." Puck shrugs, opening a Tupperware container and sniffing at the contents. "Dudes just shouldn't put their hands on chicks. Even if Ryerson is practically female and besides that guy is a perv. Last year he snuck into the locker-room after practice and asked me if I needed my back washed."
"Well, I appreciate it anyway." You smile and Puck just grunts, lips pursing and eyebrow arching. "So thank you."
"Hey, hurry up and peel those stupid gold stars off your locker. I'll give you a ride."
He doesn't take you home.
Instead he drives to the local Quick Stop convenience store and the two of you end up sitting in the bed of his truck with slushies of all things, wasting the rest of the day away together which is unusual to say the least because you and Puck don't usually hang.
You and Puck argue and bicker and every once in an inexplicable while, make out but you do not hang.
"So, are your dads gonna kill you?" Puck asks, glancing out across the convenient store parking lot, heat making the black top shimmer like a mirage. "Take away your Streisand CDs?"
"I hope not." You mutter, stomach already churning at the prospect of being grounded and loosing your extensive music catalogue for weeks. "And they wont kill me, they'll just be deeply let down. Daddy will make his disappointed face" You attempt to mimic said expression even though Puck has never met either of your fathers, furrowing your brow and pressing your lips in a hard line and Puck gives you a strange look, mouth quirking upwards before sighing.
"Well my mom is going to murder me." He exhales, chewing on his straw absently and you relax your face. "She thinks I have no sense of responsibility and that I, like, don't care about stuff."
He doesn't but you don't say it out loud. Instead you somehow manage to hold your tongue, taking a sip of your slushy because you've been working on watching what you say, how you say it and when you say it.
See, the thing is, when people complain about you, and they always complain about you, your complete lack of brain to mouth filter always comes up and while you're not so delusional to think that doing things like this will ensure you are going to start school next year a shiny, new person, you still plan on at least attempting to work on some of the things people find so abrasive about you because next year you'd really like to have real friends.
"So, what're you going to do now?" You ask instead, smoothing the wrinkles from your skirt absently while you sip your grape slushy, the tailgate of Puck's truck warm underneath your thighs as your legs dangle over the edge.
"I dunno, I was thinking about robbing a liquor store or something." He sighs as if this is a totally viable option, lifting his cup to his mouth and downing a ridiculous amount of green apple slushy. "Probably this store."
"Uhm, maybe you could try something within the confines of the law." You offer and Puck arches an eyebrow like actually doing something legal never even occurred to him.
"Ya know, I was thinking about starting up my pool cleaning business again." He mutters, squinting at you in the bright sun and you smile at him.
"That's a great idea. I'm sure your mother would be very proud of your entrepreneurialism." You offer and his mouth quirks up at this and you have the sneaking suspicion that Puck is a huge mama's boy. "And will appreciate your choice to respect the law on both a personal and financial level."
"She does get pretty bummed about bailing me out of jail all the time." He points out and you nod sympathetically, swinging your legs back and forth idly while you sip more slushy and forget how crappy your day has been with Noah Puckerman, of all people, sitting beside you.
"And you know, you could help me out." He says after a moment, crumpling his now empty cup and tossing it over his shoulder and into the back of his truck. "I've pretty much got the market cornered on Milfs and gay dudes but you could totally help me add lesbos and horny old guys to my clientele."
"Are you offering me a job, Noah?" You grin around your straw and Puck rolls his eyes at your enthusiasm but its rare thing when people actually include you in things without you having to force your way in.
"Don't get so excited, Berry." He grunts, running a hand over his Mohawk and glancing around the nearly empty parking lot. "We're splitting the profits 60/40 since me and 'the guns' are gonna be doing most of the heaving lifting."
You shake your head, watching Puck flex his arms for a moment. "Well, I accept your conditions." You say, reaching up to tug on his arm mid bicep flex, cold fingers pressing into his warm skin and he reluctantly drops his arms back to his sides. "But I don't know how to clean a pool."
"That's cool." Puck shrugs, hopping off the tailgate and his sneakers crunch noisily in the gravel. "Neither do I. But listen, I don't want you thinking this is anything other than a business arrangement. I'm not asking you out, I'm just utilizing your goodies to get some more business for Puck Inc."
When he extends his hand you roll your eyes before taking it and hopping down too. "Deal."
"You gonna finish that?" He wonders, gesturing towards your slushy and you take one last swallow before handing him the half full cup. "Thanks. C'mon, lets go. I'll take you home."
He disappears around the driver's side of his truck and you stare at the back of his head for a moment before grinning and walking around to the other side.
Working with Puck actually isn't that bad.
Yeah, he spends a lot of time flirting with 'tasty housewives' and was not exaggerating when he said he didn't know how to clean a pool, the time he attempted to pour a gallon of bleach in the deep end of the Mason's swimming pool a clear testament to that.
He has a few idiotic rules too, like the no shirt policy he invokes that forces you to work in a bikini top and him to spend hours shirtless because apparently 'if we wanna get paid we gots to show off the goods'.
He catches you staring at his nipple ring and offers to do yours with a grin that makes your face flush bright red.
Also, there's the completely absurd 2 minute rule that says you're not allowed to speak for more than 120 seconds at a time though you've pretty much defeated the purpose of that rule by just speaking faster.
But you guys do make quite a bit of money, far more than you would've if you hadn't been fired from Sheets N Things and spending hours a day with a shirtless Puck isn't the worst ways to spend your time, especially when he does that thing where he isn't quite so annoying or offensive or insulting and doesn't correct you when you call him Noah.
You're a week in a half into your new business endeavor when your parents catch you running out of the house wearing cut off shorts and a black bathing suit top under a white tanktop, Pool Maintenance for Dummies clutched in your hands and you have to explain to them that you were terminated from you position at Sheets N Things.
"But I've already found employment elsewhere." You say eagerly in an attempt to keep Daddy's head from exploding like it looks like it might and to persuade Dad to release his proverbial pearls.
"Where?" Dad asks suspiciously, his scrapbook sitting forgotten on the kitchen table, scissors and glue and pastel colored slips of construction paper scattered about.
"Well, I'm working with Noah Puckerman. He has a pool cleaning business." You explain, trying not to fidget beneath your fathers' weary gaze.
"Puckerman? The young man with the strange hair?" Daddy asks and you nod. "I don't care for him."
And you know why.
Because you can attribute many an after school crying jags and ruined argyle to Noah Puckerman and his slushies but Daddy doesn't say much beyond that, just shakes his head.
"I'm okay, Daddy." you whisper, watching him stand from the table, coffee cup in hand. He leans over to kiss Dad on the head before doing the same to you.
"I know, honey." He murmurs into your hair. "I know."
You spend the first couple of jobs with your headphones on, sun beating on your shoulders and thighs, while you skim the water and Puck works on the other side of the pool.
It's not necessarily friendly but its not awkward either.
On the first day of the second week, you're singing under your breath, one earbud tucked firmly into your right ear and the other dangling freely while you scoop leaves and dead lady bugs off the surface of the water when Puck glances up at you from the filter he's cleaning.
"Do you know any Boston?"
He amends the no talking policy to allow the singing of songs that 'fucking rock' after you belt out More Than a Feeling and he sings along.
You forget, sometimes, how nicely your voices compliment one another.
Puck smiles when he sings.
You think maybe its just the structure of his face that makes it look like his mouth is curved in the sweetest smirk but a part of you wonders if this is what Puck looks like when he's just being himself
while he croons in a voice so beautiful that you forget what a jerk he can be
His voice is soft, especially considering how broad his chest is and how loud and obnoxious he's capable of being in general but there's something to his timbre, his tone that makes you ignore the imperfections in his singing and just listen.
He sings the last note of Wonderwall, strumming his guitar once more before opening his eyes expectantly and you know what he's waiting for.
For you to dissect his performance, fixing and tweaking until it meets your admitedly high, high, high standards and while you can't deny the urge to do just that, you refrain because the song was just kind of beautiful, flaws and all.
"Oasis isn't Jewish." You smile and Puck shrugs, reaching up to scratch the back of his neck.
"Yeah, I know." He exhales, watching you sit in the middle of his god awful waterbed, "I just thought, I'd expand my catalog a little."
"Well it sounded good. Really good." You say honestly, tucking your hair behind your ears absently. "And usually I'd never tell you this because frankly your ego is already obscenely inflated, but you're a great singer."
There's a beat and Puck is just sort of staring at you and you frown, brow furrowing self consciously. "What?"
"That's it? That's all you have to say?" He asks incredulously and you frown. "Because I was pretty flat on the begging of the second verse and I know you hate that."
"Noah, why did you ask me here?" You wonder after a moment and Puck shifts uncomfortably in front of you, plucking his guitar strings idly and the sound rings sharp and clear through his bedroom.
"I'm not trying to get in your pants or anything like that, if that's what you're worried about." He says quickly and you don't bother stopping yourself from rolling your eyes. "I just wanted a few pointers. Improve my vocals a little. Ya know, get a couple more solos or something next year."
"Well, if you sing like that you're definitely gonna give Finn a run for lead male vocals for sure next year." You say easily, truthfully and Puck strums again, licking his lips like what you're saying actually matters to him.
"You think?" He questions, absently running his hand over the top of his head over and over. "I dunno. I don't think I'm really a leading man, Disney prince, kind of guy."
"You are if you want to be." You smile and Puck peers at you for a moment and then too long and your smile fades into a frown. "What?"
"I was just thinking that you and me, we're kinda alike."
"I will not sit here and be insulted Noah Puckerman…" You start, outraged and Puck rolls his eyes at you, putting a hand on your shoulder when you attempt to climb off of his god forsaken waterbed.
"Calm down Berry, I'm not insulting you." He hisses, swinging his guitar over his head and sitting down at the foot of the bed, you feel the impact in the waves the ripple through the mattress. "I'm just saying. Me and you, we got a lot in common."
"We're both extremely proud of our Jewish heritage?" you offer confused and Puck glances at you over his shoulder with a shrug before turning sideways to face you better, still fiddling with the strings on his guitar.
"Well yeah but there's other stuff, ya know." He looks down at his hands as he tweaks his guitar strings before looking up at you from beneath his perpetually furrowed brow. "We're both smokin' hot, I mean, between me and you we've got the best lips in school…ya know, besides Trouty Mouth's massive kisser."
You laugh as he trails off dreamily and he cocks an eyebrow at you.
"We're both badasses. We both know what we want and we go after it but you get a lot of shit because you're a chick that talks way too much and no one messes with me 'cause I'm an Adonis. And I was just thinking, that's kinda messed up."
You can't fight the grin spreading over your face and Puck frowns. "What?"
"Nothing, that was just a surprisingly compassionate statement." You laugh, reaching out to squeeze his arm and you feel him flex reflexively. "Especially coming from you."
"Hey, I live in a house full of chicks. I'm all about that feminist crap." Puck nods proudly before pausing. "Wait, you didn't just call me gay did you?"
"No, Noah." You smile, pulling your hand away. "I called you a nice guy."
Puck smirks a little at that. "Cool."
"Also, you need to work on your pitch." You finally blurt and Puck grins.
"Been holding that one in for a while, huh?"
The first time Puck ever refers to you as more than just a business associate is after he punches out Mr. McElroy for getting way to handsy with you.
It's kind of a blur in your mind, just Mr. McElroy cornering you in the kitchen, looming while you stood barefoot in his kitchen wearing clothes that showed too much stomach and thigh. A rough hand too low on your hip and a refusal to release you even after you threatened to use the rape whistle you didn't even have because you stopped wearing it after the first 3 jobs when Puck had made it perfectly clear that he did not plan on trying to 'tap that'.
Then there was the patio door opening, a pause followed by quick feet against the cold tile then a hideous sound as Puck's fist made contact with Mr. McElroy's face.
And the older man sprawled on the floor, holding his eye and watching as Puck snatched up your hand, dragging you out to the truck wordlessly, instructing you to get in and stay there before ducking back into the house.
You don't know what he did or said inside but he comes out carrying your guys equipment, tossing it in the back before sliding into the truck beside you and peeling out of the driveway.
"Did you kill him?" You wonder quietly, breath catching in your chest. "Are we currently on the lam? Do you think the phone lines have already been tapped because I really would like to speak to my dads one last time-"
"No." Puck spits, hands tightening on the steering wheel and you stare at his split knuckle, blood oozing between his fingers. "I didn't kill him but I should've because when you mess with my peeps, you mess with Puckzilla."
You blink at him in surprise, biting down on a smile because you've learned the hard way, most people don't like it when you're too happy. "Noah, your hand is bleeding."
Puck just grunts, lifting the split skin to his mouth before glancing at you. And you know he catches you staring "What?"
"Nothing, you just…" You trail off because its stupid and childish but you still can't help but feel happy. "You called me your 'peeps' That means, like, friends…right?"
"Yeah, it does." Puck laughs, rolling his eyes while you clasp your hands over your lap happily. "We're friends, Berry."
"Fantastic." You grin and Puck smirks at you. "Wait until I tell my dads. Though, before our blossoming friendship progresses any further, I feel like I have to let you know that while I do consider myself very much a lady in the classic sense of the word, I am not a damsel in distress, and while I do appreciate your unrelenting protection I must insist you stop physically assaulting people on my behalf. While a bit old fashioned, I am also progressive enough to utilize the mace my father bought for me after I informed him I would be working with you."
"Rachel," Puck sighs, leaning against the door and throwing you a quick glance, mouth curving into a smile.
"Yes?" You ask expectantly, smoothing your hands over your knees.