1 Hate Me

Puck wasn't exactly sure what he was doing. Maybe he'd been hanging around Rachel too much, or maybe he was doing some stupid growing up shit, or there was the very real possibility that'd he'd lost his fuckin' mind. But he'd screwed up. He'd screwed up in a fairly big public way; everyone in town knew it let alone everyone at McKinley.

Getting sent to juvie had been the scariest thing he'd dealt with since his dad had bailed, including Quinn being pregnant. He'd gotten his ass kicked so thoroughly he'd been grateful he'd taken out his nipple ring because if that had gotten torn out he might have screamed like a girl. Once he got out he actually took a day to hang in his own room, enjoying the fact that the only ones who would tell him to do anything were his mom and sister instead of guards. He could go to the fridge and eat something instead of waiting for mealtimes. He could read if he felt like it (not that it was likely), play his guitar (much more likely) or play COD (as much as he wanted) or whatever. He was free. Except for the whole probation thing, but at this point he'd take what he could get.

Then he'd started hanging out with Artie and the kid was actually pretty smart, pointing out that doing stupid shit hadn't really gotten him anywhere. Basically the same thing Rachel had been telling him for a while now. She'd written to him while he was in Juvie and that had been cool because for sure no one else had even bothered. His ma and sis visited but apparently nobody else was allowed which was shit because how was he supposed to try and keep on the straight and whatever if he didn't have a support system?

And that was the other thing; he knew Rachel had something to do with LeRoy Berry doing his defense work. There was no way his mom could afford Rachel's Daddy unless the man gave her a break on the fee and he wouldn't have done that unless Rachel'd asked him to. So he'd really been trying hard not to be such a douche to Rache. She'd been nothin' but nice to him his whole life; like she didn't think he was just destined to be a Lima Loser. She hadn't been obvious about it…and that meant it was important because unless something was really important Rachel Barbra Berry was capable of making Mount Everest out of a regular old hill. But stuff that meant something to her? Stuff that she was afraid for people to know…she could be pretty damn circumspect for such a drama queen.

But now he was…well he was well and truly fucked and he had no clue what he was going to do. He had no chance of seeing his daughter, like ever, which had been the only reason he'd been willing to bend over backwards for Quinn at all. He'd hurt everyone he cared about, even Rachel with his idiocy and sometimes he wondered if it would be better if he dropped out and stayed away from everyone so he couldn't fuck them all up anymore with his idiocy disguised as badassery.

The guys were cool, though he and Finn would never be the same, and he was never going to be down with how the quarterback treated Rachel. How the hell Finn couldn't see Rachel was fuckin' perfect the way she was, especially how nice she could be, was beyond him and Puck knew he wasn't the brightest star in the heavens. That was something he really had trouble thinking about, how Finn treated Rachel, without his stomach getting tied in knots and his fists getting ideas of their own about hitting something. But he'd felt like that since they'd dated sophomore year, and it had only gotten worse when Rachel had helped him deal with getting slushied. He knew Finn had slept with Santana, and he knew that the quarterback had lied about it to Rachel. That shit wasn't cool and it was all he could do to not beat the hell out of his supposed friend. It didn't help that Rachel was perceptive enough to know something was wrong. Finn had a way of making her feel so insecure, as if she wasn't allowed to question Finn at all. He wished he could say something but unless he was certain he couldn't. All he had was locker room talk and Finn's bragging which Finn would pass off as guy talk. He couldn't prove anything. And he didn't want to hurt Rachel. That was Finn's job apparently. Puck forced himself to take a deep breath.

And now he was sitting in the choir room, by himself, trying to figure out what the hell to do with his life and this entirely screwed up situation. He knew the look on his face would scare off anybody who saw him. Artie though, apparently he had balls of frickin' steel because he'd just rolled right through the doors and looked at Puck as if he were an idiot. That was entirely appropriate as it was how Puck felt but he really didn't need the reminder.

"Dude, what are you doin' sittin' here by yourself? Don't you got places to be?" Artie rolled closer and rested his elbows on the armrests of his chair.

"Can't be where I ain't welcome," Puck shrugged his hands still fingering the guitar strings. "Case you ain't noticed, kinda persona not…wanted 'round here lately."

"Yeah well who hasn't been in the doghouse at one time or another, though you might wanna get wallpaper an' carpet for yours seein' how you use it for a summer home," Artie shook his head. "But normally you go and ride around, you do shit and have fun with all your badassness. What's wrong that you aren't?"

"Artie, you ain't ever screwed up as bad as I have, so I don't expect you to get it, but…you might just be better off 'thout me around you know?" Puck said slowly, a germ of an idea in his head.

"You ain't as much of an asshole as you think you are Puckerman," The kid in the wheelchair reminded him. "You kept your mouth shut about Quinn even though that baby was yours and she totally denied. And you tried to do the right thing."

"Don't make up for the fact that I got her pregnant in the first place," Puck retorted. "Or all the stupid shit I done before an' after that." He shook his head, "I ain't ever gonna get to see my daughter Artie. She's gonna grow up thinkin' I'm scum just like my dad did, just like the rest of this town does."

"I don't think you're scum," Rachel's voice was quiet but fervent. She'd dropped her diva attitude at the door these days, more interested in her friends than in lording her talent over all of them though she was still the most competitive woman he'd ever met. Puck looked at her, she was wearing another of those short skirts that showed off her legs even in penny loafers and a tight sweater with a bird on the front. Her eyes were dark and worried and her hair was windblown as if she'd been outside.

"Rachel, you kinda have a habit of seein' my good side, even when it's more like an eighth of a side," Puckerman told her dryly. "My track record speaks for itself."

"And that's the only thing you let speak," Artie pointed out with a shrug. "I've seen you with your sister when we were tutoring you know? You're a very good brother, even when it interferes with your rep."

"Hey she's my family," Puck shrugged. "I can't take care of my family what good am I?" And that was it, he realized. He wasn't going to be able to protect Beth, or even see her, so he couldn't take care of her like he did his sister and mom. He refused to acknowledge his protective streak concerning Rachel; that was nobody's business but his. "But I can't do that for Beth guys. So what damn good am I? Everybody I get close to gets hurt. Includin' the two of you."

"You aren't the only one who's screwed up Noah," Rachel's voice was dry. "I certainly did my share to inflict suffering on the people around me. Including you. But you seem to have forgiven me for it." She sat down on the piano bench and looked at him, "I'm pretty sure you deserve the same." A twinkle of mischief filled her dark brown eyes, her lips quirking upwards slightly. "After all Noah, you are one hot Jew. How can I not forgive you?"

Puck laughed in spite of himself, shaking his head, "Berry you really take the cake." He looked at her and Artie. "Might just have to take your advice on this one…but can ya'll help me out with somethin' for Glee?"

"Name it," Rachel didn't hesitate and Artie nodded his agreement.

"I got an idea…sorta takin' a page from your book Rache," Puck began to explain.

Which was how he came to be standing in front of the Glee club a week later, "So, ya'll know I'm a fuck up," He began. "That's pretty much a whatchamacallit, truism. But sometimes…I don't do my stupid shit for the reasons everyone thinks. So I'mma try to explain things…"

He looked at Mr. Schue and shrugged, "Sorry for the language an' all, but I ain't ever gonna be totally kosher you know." He looked at the club and offered them a half smile when his mom and sister came in and sat next to Rachel and Artie in the front row drawing surprised looks from everyone but those two and Mr. Schue. "So this is for all my friends, and most especially all the women in my life that I've hurt or disappointed." He hesitated and finally looked up at Quinn whose stone face hadn't cracked once, "I think about my daughter a lot and I hope she can learn someday that I really only want what's best for her. Even if I ain't in her life. And some of the shit I do…it's 'cause sometimes I can't deal." He took a deep breath and nodded to Artie who picked up his own electric guitar.

Rachel made her way to the piano and gave him a huge smile and a brush of her hand over the back of his as she passed, which made his heart skip a beat in a freaky way that had nothing to do with his groin for once.

"All right," Artie asked him and Puck realized he'd been staring into space for almost a full minute.

"Yeah man," He nodded and began the opening chords. He didn't have a voice like the guy in Blue October, or the high range, but he had the emotion and the need and the raw power Rachel had told him came from his hidden heart.

"I have to block out thoughts of you so I don't lose my head
They crawl in like a cockroach leaving babies in my bed
Dropping little reels of tape to remind me that I'm alone
Playing movies in my head that make a porno feel like home
There's a burning in my pride, a nervous bleeding in my brain
An ounce of peace is all I want for you. Will you never call again?
And will you never say that you love me just to put it in my face?
And will you never try to reach me?
It is I that wanted space,"

He took a deep breath as he started the chorus, grateful he could see both Rachel and Artie from where he stood as well as the rest of the club and his family. He really would rather they all hated him if it meant they got where they needed to go. They deserved better than him.

"Hate me today
Hate me tomorrow
Hate me for all the things I didn't do for you

Hate me in ways
Yeah ways hard to swallow
Hate me so you can finally see what's good for you."

God this was hard, it was so hard to say and to do, but he looked at Artie and Rachel so they'd know that this next part was true at least.

"I'm sober now for 3 whole months it's one accomplishment that you helped me with
The one thing that always tore us apart is the one thing I won't touch again
In a sick way I want to thank you for holding my head up late at night
While I was busy waging wars on myself, you were trying to stop the fight
You never doubted my warped opinions on things like suicidal hate
You made me compliment myself when it was way too hard to take
So I'll drive so fucking far away that I never cross your mind
And do whatever it takes in your heart to leave me behind,"

He put all the rage and pain into the words and the music and just let it all pour out of him as he began the chorus again.

"Hate me today
Hate me tomorrow
Hate me for all the things I didn't do for you

Hate me in ways
Yeah ways hard to swallow
Hate me so you can finally see what's good for you

And with a sad heart I say bye to you and wave
Kicking shadows on the street for every mistake that I had made
And like a baby boy I never was a man
Until I saw your blue eyes cry and I held your face in my hand
And then I fell down yelling "Make it go away!"
Just make a smile come back and shine just like it used to be
And then she whispered "How can you do this to me?"

His voice almost broke on the last line as he looked at Rachel, the one person in the room who had an inkling of what his daughter might feel, who knew without a doubt how he felt.

"Hate me today
Hate me tomorrow
Hate me for all the things I didn't do for you

Hate me in ways
Yeah ways hard to swallow
Hate me so you can finally see what's good for you
For you
For you
For you…"

He let his fingers glide one last time over the strings of the guitar and set it down, only to find his arms filled with the tiny stacked body of one Rachel Berry.

"I am so fucking proud of you Noah Puckerman," She told him as she hugged him tightly. "And whenever you feel like this again you had better come and talk to me. I refuse to let one of the most talented men I know waste his potential. You are going to be my study partner until you get a scholarship to whatever school you want." Her voice was a low fierce whisper after she'd said his name.

"Yeah," He knew there was a question in his voice but that didn't keep him from hugging her back and taking a deep breath of her apple scented hair. "How 'bout NYU?"

"You will knock NYU on its ass with your badass abilities. Tisch would be lucky to get you," Rachel whispered back. "Although I think you're an idiot if you don't at least try Julliard."

"Are you shittin' me?" Puck pulled away and belatedly put her down on the floor when he realized he'd been holding her up against him so tightly she wasn't even standing. "You think I'm that good?"

"When have I ever lied to someone about their talent or lack thereof?" Rachel reminded him pertly.

"All right," Puck nodded and realized that the entire Glee club and his family was hearing most of this conversation, "You just tell me what I gotta do."

"Oh don't worry," Artie chimed in with a huge grin. "That's one thing Rachel's never had a problem with."

"Word," Mike agreed with a grin and Puck shook his head at their clowning.

One arm around Rachel's waist he slanted a look at Quinn and ignored her angry pout to keep his eyes moving to his mom and sister. Tugging Rachel along with him he moved towards his family, "Sorry you got dragged out on your afternoon off Ma," He offered her a sheepish smile, "Just really needed you to hear this."

"Noah Abram Puckerman, don't you ever apologize to me for showing me that you're trying to change," His mother's voice was definitely pissed. "You are going to be the man Rachel and I see in you or so help me God you will die trying."

"Damn Ma," Puck blinked, "I live in the whatchamacallit, estrogen ocean, so I'm pretty sure I'm already whipped. You don't gotta put my balls in a jar in front of the whole damn club."

Rachel giggled and shook her head, burying her face in his back, "Noah, as you keep trying to tell us, how could your balls ever fit in a jar?"

Puck was intensely conscious of the blush that turned his face hot and red as he turned and looked at a vividly pink Rachel Berry. "You did not just say that," He shook his head, "I did not just hear those words out of your mouth." The blush on her face confirmed that he had, indeed heard her, "Damn Rache? You kiss your daddy with that mouth?" He looked around, "Am I in alternate bizzaro universe?"

"You kiss your momma with yours?" Rachel returned, still pink.

"Yeah she does deserve better," Puck acknowledged.

"Well she's going to get it, and so are you," Rachel's voice was quiet but determined.

"Hey we got an audience in our target demographic here people," Mercedes' distinctive voice sounded out. "Why don't we show Mrs. Puckerman some of our moves? She's here and we should make the trip worth it."

"True, no matter how emotionally moving and musically stirring Puck's performance was, nothing compares to the rest of us when we hit our stride," Kurt's voice was affectionate and teasing as he glanced at the Mohawk wearing boy. "So get your guitar Puckerman and get your fine ass in gear."

"You ain't Jewish Kurt so you ain't my type," Puck retorted doing what he was told and grabbing his guitar.

"So if I converted…" Kurt said thoughtfully.

"There's only room for one diva at Synagogue," Puck told him with a grin. "And Rachel's our diva. You stick with wowing all the atheists."

"I can and shall expand my influence," Kurt warned and looked at Rachel. "How about Defying Gravity?"

"You and Mercedes should do it," Rachel smiled, "Unless Mercedes would like to do her aborted solo from sectionals?"

"Rachel Berry giving me a solo? Hell to the yeah!" Mercedes whooped.

Puck just grinned as Kurt and Rachel joined him next to the piano.


Author's Note: So this is the first chapter in my sequel to This May Be Presumptuous. It's a fairly long story, going past two hundred pages at the moment but it still needs finishing and I'm working on making it better. Reviews are very welcome as I really enjoy the feedback. Seriously if you take the time to favorite, follow or whatever, just take the time to say what you liked about the story/chapters. It really helps a lot and sometimes makes me take another look at what I'm writing so I stay in line with my intentions. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy my writing.

Oh, sorry folks, the lyrics and music in the chapter are from the band Blue October, song is Hate Me.