Disclaimer: I do not own Glee or the characters.
Rachel wrapped her arms around herself, her small frame shaking as a particularly cold gust of wind blew past her. She'd caught Kurt's eye as she left him and he just smiled knowingly before turning back to his ex. Her heart raced as she crossed the football field, her mind playing back all the memories she had of this place. She had told Kurt the truth when she said Lima wasn't home anymore but that didn't mean that a very small section of it didn't hold a place in her heart.
Her skin tingled as she touched the cool metal railing, steading herself as she climbed the steps. The bleachers were cloaked in darkness but she knew he was there even without the help of her sight. Taking a deep breath, Rachel hurried up the last few steps, moving between the rows with startling precision until another strong gust of wind pushed passed her and she lost her step. In a second all she could imagine was falling to her doom, injuring herself and having all her dreams on Broadway taken away just when she finally admitted there was nothing left for her in Lima at least now that he wasn't here. A small gasp left her lips as she began her descent and she chided herself on not even being able to go out with a bang, where was the Berry flair she'd become infamous for - the flair that would have had an award winning scream ripped from her throat.
A warm arm wrapped around her waist holding her in place as it's partner held her elbow keeping her steady. The moment the wind ceased, she felt herself being pulled back, cradled into his warm, sturdy chest as he stretched his jacket to encompass the both of them. Her hand curled against his shirt, resting over his heart as she felt him press a kiss to her head, his heart beating wildly as the adrenaline pulsed through him. "Noah."
His name left her lips in a content sigh causing chills to break out on his skin completely unrelated to the cold. "What are you doing here Berry?" He could feel her shaking against him and as his eyes adjusted to her presence on this dark night he noticed the dress she was wearing covered even less than the skirts she'd worn in high school. Placing his hand on her thigh he felt her shiver for an entirely different reason to her first tremor and was unable to keep the smirk out of his voice. "It's nice to know you're still as crazy as always."
Puck felt her kick off her shoes, before pulling her feet up and burrowing even further into him, her freezing hands sliding under his shirt, bunching the fabric up higher in a desperate effort to keep warm. He waited until her teeth stopped chattering loudly in his ear before appraising her once again. Her hair had grown, the curls ticking his now exposed stomach not that he was going to complain about being able to feel her skin against his once more. Feeling her shaking slow slightly he allowed his thumb to gently swipe across her thigh and let himself finally accept the fact that Rachel was here with him and hadn't reconciled with Finn.
However when she still hadn't said anything he knew that though she was with him physically, emotionally and mentally she was somewhere else and wherever that was it was not a good place. "Rach?" His heart clenched as he heard her sniffle slightly. He knew she wasn't upset at the crazy remark but he couldn't help that worry that he'd made her cry. He ran his hands up and down her arms trying to be as patient as he could, knowing she needed to tell him on her own terms and not because he forced her to.
Rachel wiped her tears as a pathetic laugh filled left her. "Finn thought he knew my cries to the point that he thought I was truly upset about Brody. He believed me when I said my tears weren't about him anymore. Don't get me wrong they weren't about Finn exactly, it was more what he stood for." Rachel couldn't believe she was finally being honest with someone about how she felt about her past relationships, yet she had always known that if it ever reached this point the person she would be confiding in was Noah.
"Finn lied to me, Jesse lied to me, they used me to get what they wanted and only ever wanted me when I was with someone else. Brody… he was new, exciting and didn't know the Lima me. He didn't know I was slushied everyday." She felt Noah shift guiltily beneath her and took his hand in hers needing him to remember that she forgave him for that. "He didn't know that I was driven to the point of obsession, he didn't know that I wasn't capable of keeping my nose out of other people's business, which generally ended badly for all those involved."
Puck tightened his grip on Rachel as he tried to control his emotions that were ranging from anger that Rachel still saw her Lima self as someone to be ashamed of, to jealousy that Brody was able to get to know Rachel at all especially when it looked like all he did was hurt her in the end, which was something that made him want to kill the guy.
"But he was just like the others, they only wanted me when they didn't have me and the minute my back was turned they went and fucked the first person they saw." Puck refrained from mentioning that in Jesse's case he hadn't fucked anyone per say but rather created an omelet on her head because he was certainly not in the mood to go through a repeat of those trying months with her again.
Finn and he may have teamed up to teach the guy a lesson but that didn't mean that Finn knew anything about the fact that Rachel had nightmares for the next three months and the only thing that helped her was a glass of warm almond milk and him singing Sweet Caroline until she fell asleep. His mother had not been happy about the phone bill until Rachel had mentioned what Noah had been doing for her one night at Temple which resulted in his mother giving him extra credit to help Rachel for as long as needed.
"Cassandra of all people. She's like New York's satan." Puck chuckled slightly as he recalled the video Rachel had forwarded to him, needing him to enjoy her teacher's downfall since she felt too guilty to, which had somehow lead to Kurt deciding to send him a picture of her Britney outfit since he'd been the one to tell the New Yorkers of Brittany's problem and Mr Shue's assignment in the first place and thereby sparking this crazy idea. It had taken everything in Puck not to fly over to New York, grab Rachel, throw her over his shoulder, take her back to her place and do unspeakable things to her. Brody and Finn be damned she was his first.
"I forwarded that video to Santana, figured she should see what she'd look like in 10 years if she didn't keep her promise about trying to keep her anger in check." Puck watched as Rachel laughed at his words, her worries about Finn, Brody, Cassandra and New York temporarily sidelined as she reminisced about the temperamental Latina who'd made a farewell promise to the Queen of the Gleeks that she'd try to be nicer in College. Needless to say they'd both avoided her after the play just in case it didn't pan out.
Rachel traced the lines on his palm as if they were her own, avoiding particularly ticklish areas and sending shocks of pleasure through his body though he knew she was not fully aware of what she was doing. Straightening slightly against him she tried to suppress her smile when she heard him moan softly against his will as he tightened his grip on her slightly. "He was absolutely amazing Noah."
She remembered the day he called her up his voice tight as he informed her that he had a brother. That his father had not only skipped out on the both of them but he hadn't even thought to mention the fact that either boy had the other. He had known the whole time that Jake was alive but for four years he'd pretended that Jake hadn't existed, he'd pretended until the time came for him to welcome his only daughter into the world. Then he did the same thing to Abby - except it was now ten years later and his little sister was still trying to understand why she hadn't been good enough for her father to stick around. It killed him almost as much as the fact that he had blamed himself for Abby not having a father for so long and had let that define him.
Wrapping his arms tightly around Rachel's waist her let her blanket of security wash over him. "Yeah he was. A real natural." Puck's voice broke as he felt silent tears roll down his face as he finally let himself feel and process the fact that he had a little brother. Sure everything he'd said to Jake in the glee room when they'd first met was true but he'd been so completely disconnected from everything that he still hadn't grasped that the boy in front of him was actually his brother. He'd relayed all his feeling about his father to the boy that shared half his DNA and what looked like all of the Puckerman attitude but none of it had felt real, it had all felt like a dream.
"Noah…" Rachel's voice was soft as she pressed a loving kiss to his cheek, trying to ease some of his pain. She returned her head to his chest as she tried to organize her thoughts before speaking - something she only seemed to do when he was involved. "Some part of you always blamed Jake didn't it. Even when you didn't know there was a Jake."
If he wasn't so used to her knowing what he was thinking, Puck would have jumped away, called her a freak and called it a day. Instead he nodded, releasing a breath of air. "I remember them fighting about 'some slut waitress' but I hadn't understood anything at the time. Though I think some part of me always knew it was a possibility because I always figured my father had abandoned us for some newer family. I blamed them for Abby's pain but I blamed myself just as much. I tried to help my mum, tried to be good to Abby, I tried and he never came back. So I gave up trying but I always hated the drugs and the gambling and the music that pulled him away and some nights I hated that family that I could picture so easily and to find out that he just did what he did to us with another family that was painful. To know that I have half of that selfish evilness in me, to know that the part of me that hated my own brother came from him and that I could turn out like him was just too much." The silent so I called you was heard by the both of them anyway.
Rachel startled slightly, hearing someone gasp, her head whipped round the bleachers desperately trying to figure out who it was before realising that her own mouth was open and it was likely she just got caught up in the emotions. Shuffling so that she was facing him, Rachel kneeled on either side of Noah her eyes piercing straight into his as she tried to make him understand.
"He's not you Noah, he never has been. You said it yourself, when you were throwing slushies at me it was because you knew I wanted Broadway enough to push myself to get it, you didn't throw them at me for the reasons the rest of the football team did. They did it because they were Lima Losers, you did it because you wanted to get the fuck out of this town and didn't know how to do it."
Puck laughed lightly beneath her and Rachel beamed in happiness. She knew he was laughing because she'd swore again and that was exactly why she had done it. They had always had this weird understanding of each other, this thing that made them know when the other was upset and how to make it somewhat better. Rachel felt her heart swell as she listened to his laughter. Her smile growing simply because she made him feel a little better.
His hand curled in her hair, feeling the soft strands slip between his fingers as her own fingers ran over his scalp, in what seemed to be an attempt to massage the pain out of him. His eyes widened as he felt her breath fan across his lips, her perfume invaded his nostrils and while it became obvious that she'd changed it since she'd moved to New York it still calmed him. Perhaps it was not the perfume, maybe it was just her that calmed him.
Rachel sensed his hesitancy but her mind was made up, the second she'd walked into the school, she'd known he was here. She hadn't actually seen him until intermission but she had known where he was sitting, just as she had known that he'd seen her the minute she'd walked in to the auditorium and the only time she hadn't felt him watching was when Jake had been on stage. So knowing all that Rachel made her decision and closed the gap between their lips.
Puck moved his hand further up her back to cup the back of her head softly as he allowed her to control the kiss. His mind was racing trying to understand what had happened. This kiss seemed to be a continuation of the kisses they'd shared towards the end of their relationship, the ones that had transformed from hot and heavy where they each were thinking of someone else, to slow and passionate where they both knew they were the only thing on each other's minds.
"You were the only one who never lied to me, the only one who never cheated on me. I should have never broken up with you, I didn't really want Finn at that point anyway but I was so convinced that you wanted Quinn and I couldn't be second to her again. I knew you weren't going to break up with me but I wasn't sure about you until I came to you when I found out about Santana and Finn." Rachel cupped the side of his face, her thumb brushing against his cheekbone softly remembering the many injuries Finn had given Puck over their years in Glee and how many of those injuries she'd inadvertently caused.
"I saw it in your eyes that you'd known what had happened and it clicked that of course you would have known that your once best friend was lying about still being a virgin but you kept his secret anyway. Not only that but you stopped me from getting even with him. I was so mad, so angry that while every other female in Lima was good enough, while Quinn was good enough, I was still so unattractive to you."
Rachel's voice shook as she told him what she was sure he already knew as even though she'd never told him he always knew when it came to her. As she looked into his eyes she knew despite the pain it was causing him, he was going to let her continue since he knew she needed to let go of all of her pain and this was the best way to do it.
"You held me as I kicked and screamed and cried. Held me and called me beautiful. Made me feel special and wanted and loved. You told me that you couldn't do that to Finn but I knew you couldn't be with me when all I wanted was to hurt Finn. I knew you wanted me to be with you when you were the only thing I was thinking about. It was then that I realised that if I wen through with this then I was no better the Quinn who used you just as Finn used me. That was probably the first time I really, truly wished with all my heart that I'd never broken up with you especially since I knew you'd never hurt me."
Puck couldn't help but press another kiss to her lips as he understood what she was saying. He had known the minute he'd seen her across the field that she was finally ready to give them a shot. He knew she wasn't willing to give up NYADA and would kill him if he even thought about sacrificing his music for her. Long distance had been the end of Klaine and Brittana but he knew better than anyone how strong Puckleberry was. He was certain that one of his friends stood to make a great deal of money from the 'return of Puckleberry' pool that he knew was still running and he was not the kind of man who'd let one of his friends down by letting her walk away now as he had all those years ago. It was just too bad Rachel hadn't given him a chance to tell her his news yet.
"I know that long distance is hard and that you've got this whole thing going on with Jake at the moment but just remember how well things worked out when you let me help last time."
Puck ran his hand down his face in exhaustion as he recalled exactly what had happened the last time Rachel had 'helped' him. When Quinn began asking him about Jewish baby diseases his Berry radar had gone off the charts and his suspicions had been confirmed when he found her spying in the corner. After talking to her, he'd allowed her to be the scape goat and while he was lying on the floor refusing to fight Finn as he continued to deliver punch after punch he figured that not only did he deserve the pain but that 'the crazy' had to be contagious because he was an idiot to agree to this plan. However Rachel was right, after all the punches he was able to name his baby girl, he was able to go to a few of Quinn's doctors appointments and he got Rachel - the girl who signed here name with stars as a metaphor, who showed him he was able to be a good dad for a while, that he was nothing like his own father and had so much more potential than he realised.
If it wasn't for her visiting him in juvie and giving him another one of her 'you're better than this Noah' speeches he was sure he would have spent the rest of high school in there. So with all that in mind he made probably the second dumbest and the best decision he'd ever made. "Fine Rach, as long as my face gets out of this fist free." Puck pressed a soft kiss to her forehead as he decided how to tell her his news. "I don't do long distance, babe." He watched her face fall slightly and was proud of her since she refused to break eye contact. "So I guess it's a good thing the recording studio I just signed to is in Manhattan, isn't it."
Rachel felt like she was on burning up, she didn't know what it was about him but Noah just had this ability to fuel her desire like no one else, maybe it was his 'guns'. She wrapped her arms around his neck, laughing happily as she imagined being able to do this on a regular basis. Cassandra July may have had nefarious reasons behind sending Rachel back to Lima but in a way she'd just given Rachel the biggest confidence boost ever. She could close the door on Finn, Jesse and Brody and at the same time embrace Noah with everything she had. For the first time in months, Rachel was finally able to see her name in lights again, she was able to imagine the playbill Noah held in his hands as he sat front row cheering her on even though he insisted that she was still just as big a loser as she was back when she was Queen of the Gleeks but it wouldn't matter because she would be his loser, his Berry.
So for the first time in months she felt in her element as she looked him in the eye and began speaking. "The lighting was a little off but Marley was amazing. It really was a bold choice to make Sandy a brunette. Jake was only flat once unlike that Kitty girl who was all over the place, I don't know what they were thinking with that one, at least her role wasn't too big. Sugar she was the perfect Frenchy, I don't know why I didn't see it before. That Ryder kid wasn't too bad, especially since he's obviously had no form of training but it was like Finn picked himself to play Danny - except that you know he's more coordinated." Taking a breath she scrunched her nose up in concentration as she attempted to make sense of her jumbled thoughts. "Sam had Kenickie down, while Tina's stage presence was just powerful and Brittany well she was Brittany."
Wrapping his arms around her waist, Puck picked her up and spun her around before placing Rachel on the row above them. "She's back ladies and gentlemen. The one of a kind, absolutely bat-shit crazy, controlling, demanding, wonderful, beautiful and talented Rachel Barbra Berry."
Rachel laughed freely, spreading her arms out wide and spinning in a circle before bowing to an invisible audience. Bending down she pressed her lips to Noah's once again, letting her imagination run wild as the infinite branches that their future could take spread out in front of her yet just as all things did when Noah was involved, Rachel was quite content to relinquish control and let destiny take the reins, after all look where it had taken them so far.