Author's Note: I blame this on multiple things. Watching the Full Monty late on Saturday, watching Magic Mike a few weeks ago, and on NiteFang who told me I had to write this. Don't kill me I'm still working on my other stuff.
Puck took a deep breath and the shot of concentrated alcohol and fixed his hat on straight. First was the group number. Then he was slated as the third act, the audience nicely warmed up and likely to tip well. He checked his seams, his shoes and last of all that the salt peter was working properly. The club might break the laws about touching but if a guy reacted then all bets were off, chances were they'd be under arrest and that was not something he wanted on his permanent record. No fuckin' way.
He took a look around the room and nodded, almost all the guys were there. Kevin had his brace on but that was normal. Joe was fixing his costume for later, he was wearing the thick glasses he needed to see close up. Puck rubbed his head and was grateful he'd shaved off his mohawk when he'd first moved to New York. Being remembered as a hot guy was one thing. Being remembered as the guy from Hunks of New York was totally another. That was not the kind of rep he needed on campus. Hell if he'd been able to make money any normal way he wouldn't be doing this at all. But he'd found out New York didn't have a lot of menial jobs that could pay for rent.
He'd had some savings, gotten to the city all right. Stayed at the YMCA for a day or so and then crashed on the couch at a party he'd been invited to. Being woken up by a guy kissing him and feeling him up had weirded him out more than a little but he'd refrained from decking the man and had very quietly and firmly said, "Sorry dude, I'm sure you're a real good kisser if I was into guys."
The guy had blushed beet red, reminded Puck of Kurt in a way and stumbled all over himself apologizing, "I thought you'd stayed because we had a connection."
Puck sighed, "Man if I led you on, I am sorry. But I'm fuckin' nineteen, an' I been in this city for a total of four days. Last night I crashed in someone's dorm because they were havin' a party. They invited me along with 'em tonight."
"What are you doing in New York without a plan?" The guy had been horrified and that had totally reminded him of Rachel.
"The Plan, was to get here, get a job, find a cheap place to stay that I could keep reasonably clean and work long enough to get residency or whatever they call it so I can go to school," Puck shook his head. "I sold my truck to get here or I coulda slept in it. But the thing might not a made it from fuckin' Ohio anyway," He shrugged. "So I'm wingin' it until I find a place."
"You don't keep all your cash on you," The horror in the man's voice was plain and Puck had chuckled tiredly.
"Nah man, you're talkin' to the one guy from Lima who knows just how fucked up the world can be," He shook his head. "It's all locked up. First thing I did here." Puck tilted his head thoughtfully, "Dude you mind tellin' me your name so I don't feel like I'm confessin' my life to a total stranger? I'm Puckerman, Puck everybody calls me." Everybody but Rachel and family, he thought with a well-concealed wince.
"I'm Matt," The guy had smiled. "Good to meet you Puck, sorry for the...warm greeting. Thanks for not punching me."
Puck laughed, "Dude, you ain't the first guy to kiss me. Doubt you'll be the last." He shook his head when Matt's eyes got wide, "I was...okay so the reason I wanted outa my home town so much? Everybody knows me. I had a business cleaning pools that was more taking care of bored housewives. I've been in Juvenile Hall, I've been in trouble alla my life. And all my life I've been told I'm a Lima Loser. My entire goal is to live somewhere where not everybody knows me and thinks I'm a loser. So New York."
"You've kissed a guy before?" Matt blinked thoughtfully, "Thought you were straight."
"I am," Puck shrugged. "I've also been dead broke all my life. And when the old man husband of one of my clients offered me two hundred to kiss me and five hundred if I'd let him suck my dick I did it. It paid for my sister's school clothes and mine. And it put groceries in the kitchen for three weeks." He shrugged, "I was only fourteen at the time, didn't think it'd scar me for life or anything. But I made sure I stayed away from that house afterwards. Couldn't be sure he would take no to anything else as an answer next time. I was a big fourteen but he was still an adult."
"So you..." Matt blinked in shock. "Do I at least kiss better than he did?"
Puck couldn't help laughing and liking this guy, "Hells yeah man." He held up his hand and caught Matt's in his for a high five. "If I were into guys I'd be all over you."
Matt shook his head and laughed, "Thanks I think." He looked at Puck a little wistfully, "I am really horny now though."
"Dude welcome to my life," Puck shrugged. "I haven't gotten laid in months. Too busy workin' and keepin' under the cops radar."
"Ouch," The gay man shuddered. "Well would you like some coffee? I pretty much molested you so I can at least give you breakfast."
"Dude for coffee you can kiss me again," Puck grinned and wasn't totally surprised when Matt laid one on him.
"I'll feed you too," Matt called from the other room and Puck nodded tying his boots more tightly and stripping off his shirt. Parties were usually hot and he hated how he smelled afterwards so he'd taken to stuffing a few extra shirts in the backpack he carried everywhere. There wasn't anything valuable in it, just shirts and notebooks full of his music. Puck was taking a minute to stretch and bend before he put a new shirt on when Matt's voice startled him, "Holy Mother of God," The man's voice was almost reverent.
Puck had to look around for a holy apparition for a second before he realized Matt was staring at his upper body, "Dude, I realized on day two here that I'm hot shit in Lima but I'm next to nothin' here." He laughed and shook his head. "I just wish I could fuckin' work out. Got alla this energy an' nothing to do with it except get in fights. Not the new leaf I'm tryin' to turn over."
"You like working out," Matt handed him a cup of coffee before Puck could put on his shirt. "How's your dancing?"
"Like music, used to do some dancin' in school," Puck chuckled. "Doubt you're thinkin' a glee club dancin' though."
"If you're willing to work on your dance skills, I can find you a job," Matt told him quietly. "With your history...you might find it palatable enough. You aren't shy about your body and that's a major plus. And you don't shock easily."
Puck shook his head, "You can just call me a man whore an' be done with it Matt, everyone else has. Well except one person but she was always special so," He shrugged.
"No," Matt laughed and gestured for Puck to follow him. Once in the kitchen he began to scramble up eggs and continued to talk. "I'm a student, but I don't qualify for scholarships so I...have an odd job that gets me by. It pays for tuition and with a room mate I can afford this...pretty crappy apartment."
"I'm guessin' you ain't a whore," Puck was reserving judgment until he found out what it was Matt did. If he had anything to do with drugs Puck was outa there, breakfast or not.
"Not precisely," Matt shrugged, "I'm...I'm a stripper." He kept his eyes on the eggs as if suddenly worried Puck would freak out.
"For men or for women?" Puck asked the only question he could think of.
"Women mostly, though now and then I'll take a side job at a gay bar," Matt smiled as he began to dish up the eggs. "You like turkey bacon?" Without waiting for an answer, he pulled a container out of the fridge and stuck a few strips onto a plate in the microwave.
"How much does it pay?" Puck asked quietly.
"Well dancers get five percent of the door if they last six months. All the tips they get personally they keep. And we get bonuses if we manage to bring in guests." Matt smiled slightly, "But you gotta be able to dance."
"Well, dated a girl for a week said I had natural rhythm," Puck grinned. "I've played football, basketball and I've been fucking since I was thirteen. Did Glee club from sophomore year 'til Senior year. We made Nationals twice. One a our guys got a dance scholarship." He shrugged, "I can play guitar, I can sing, pretty sure with a little teaching I can pick up any dance moves you got to teach."
Matt had grinned at him and proceeded to lead him back into the living room. "Okay take off your shoes, and get stretched out, like you would for football or any other sport," He commanded.
Puck had nodded and done all the warm ups he'd learned, including a few Rachel had taught him when they'd gotten bored of studying and she'd decided he needed another outlet besides making out. Yoga was odd but the burn it gave his muscles was good and he liked how relaxed he felt afterwards so he'd done it in his room where nobody would see. That he'd even known yoga had seemed to impress Matt.
Puck shook his head again, four years he'd been doing this. Four and a half years after he'd arrived in New York he was a male stripper at one of the most popular clubs on forty second street. Matt had been right, it was hard work, you had to maintain your body, and above all you couldn't let the women know you were bored to tears of their shit.
"Sorry I'm late man," Matt raced in and began to get ready in record time. "Met the cutest guy."
"Yeah?" Puck nearly rolled his eyes, "Tell me about him later dude, we're gonna be late."
"Nearly ready," Matt was listening to the boss as he began his spiel about what the ladies were and were not allowed to touch. "He promised he'd come and bring his friend with him tonight. Apparently they were in high school together. They're celebrating."
"Yeah?" Puck had learned that Matt was a lot like Kurt and Rachel, all he really wanted was someone to listen to him. And he owed the dude big time. Matt had given him a line on this job, taught him enough to get him into some basic dance classes and let Puck crash on his couch for two solid months. Only once had he gotten drunk and kissed Puck and then he'd immediately apologized and told him he didn't want Puck to think of him like that awful old man. Matt had stopped drinking after that for nearly a year and it had been good for him. When his roommate had gotten a job Matt had offered Puck the room. "So is he your type or mine?"
Joe laughed hearing that since he knew Puck was straight, and Matt rolled his eyes, "He's actually more your type, gorgeous skin, dark hair..." Matt sighed happily. "And he knows what I do and thinks its a very 'New York' way to make a living."
Puck chuckled, "Well get your fine ass out on the stage and shake it like you know he wants to see," He gestured towards the stage.
Rachel could not believe she was here. This was her big night, her night to celebrate that she was finally cast in a Broadway production, in the revival of Rent. She was Mimi of all people, Mimi a sultry, beautiful, troubled young drug addict. And how was she celebrating? By going to a club. With Kurt. A club where there was no dancing except on stage by men. But Kurt's latest crush worked as a male stripper here and she was if nothing else a supportive friend. She'd been promised a late dinner and champagne if she'd only come and support him in this crowd of women.
Kurt grinned at her and clutched her hand excitedly, "He's the second act. He said if I wanted I could check out the backstage area after his act." He looked around thoughtfully, "I'm guessing none of these women know he's gay."
"Maybe you'd better be discreet when you go to the backstage area," Rachel suggested as softly as she could with the pounding beat. "You don't want to jeopardize his job after all."
"Rachel as always you are right," Kurt sighed. "Congratulations again Diva," He lifted his drink in a toast, "To the newest and best Mimi on Broadway."
"Thank you," Rachel grinned her delight and turned her attention to the stage where a group number was being performed, "I have to admit their choreography is very good. I can tell some of them have had actual training."
"There's Matt," Kurt grinned and discreetly pointed to a slender and somehow elegant man on the far right. "And oh my who is the beefcake taking center stage?"
Rachel smiled slightly, "Someone with slightly less training than your boyfriend but excellent natural rhythm." She sighed and looked at her drink. Noah had excellent natural rhythm; he'd grinned when she'd told him that and said he knew, did she want him to prove it to her. She'd blushed and denied it but part of her had wanted to say yes.
She met Kurt's eyes and he shook his head, "Diva he cut us all out of his life. It wasn't only you." He reminded her gently. "How many times have you called his mother and asked about him? How many times has she said he's fine and he's in LA?"
"More than a dozen a year," Rachel shook her head and took another sip of her drink with determination. "I miss him Kurt." She admitted it with more than a little pain, "He was part of my life since I was five years old." Her oldest friend in the city nodded and directed her eyes toward the stage where a tall man with an impossible bulge in his pants was performing. Rachel began to giggle and shake her head. "No way is that real."
"According to Matt it is," Kurt grinned his delight. "Matt said he's been doing this for six years, it pays his way through school." He nudged her as Rachel's mouth dropped open in amazement, "Uh uh, you can't have him Diva, he's mine. Now his protégé, the young man coming on third, Matt says he's the best in the house. He moves like liquid. Matt says he found him four years ago, give or take."
Rachel nodded slowly, "He must have been the one dancing center during the group number," She said slowly. "Did Matt say why they keep the sunglasses on during the group number?"
"Mystique," Kurt shrugged, "All the guys have individual numbers, maybe they like to appear fresh." His attention riveted to the stage as the tall man left and 'Ken' was announced, "This is him," He grinned. "Wait until you see him Diva, he's so adorable, elegant and so poised. He could make falling down the stairs graceful."
Rachel grinned as her friend waxed rhapsodic about his new love interest and waited until the man in question came on stage. He was cute, definitely Kurt's type, sexy but still elegant. Definitely a man but without much of an edge to him, not her type at all, but he was cute. Kurt was enraptured, she'd had to grab hold of his arm to keep him from walking towards the stage. "Kurt, discretion, remember?" She whispered. He'd nodded and Rachel turned to the bartender, keeping a hand on Kurt's arm just in case lust overwhelmed him again. "How would someone go about meeting one of the dancers privately?"
"Well you'd have to be invited backstage, buy a private room or book the guy for a party off location," The barman looked at her and then at Kurt who could not keep his eyes off Matt, "Your friend Kurt?" Rachel nodded wryly and the bartender grinned in return, "Matt said he'd be here. If he stays to the end of Matt's act then one of the bouncers will escort him back. Matt's used ta guys showin' up, seein' the show an' then they take off in the middle. He's learned not to get his hopes up."
Rachel frowned fiercely, "That's awful. How dare they do that to him? If they make a date they should keep it regardless of how they feel about his job."
The bartender laughed not unkindly, "It ain't the job," He began wiping down the bar, "Most guys come in for Matt, they don't got the stones to stay because they think they can't compete with him."
Rachel rolled her eyes, "Why are men so...obtuse?"
The very male bartender barked a laugh and gestured to the large room full of women, "We aren't the only ones."
"But women know it's a fantasy. We know men can't possibly measure up to what we're seeing onstage, not every day, every minute," Rachel argued. "It's a temporary escape, not...a reality we have to measure up to in order to..." She rolled her eyes. "I'm arguing philosophy, in a strip club, while waiting for my friend to go backstage to meet his friend in the hopes that eventually I'll get the dinner I was promised." She sighed and flipped her hands to indicate she should be ignored, "Sorry, I get a little carried away, professional hazard."
"Musician?" The bartender grinned when her eyes widened and elaborated, "You got piano players hands. Your gestures are very defined. I wouldn't a noticed but the Trickster, he told me 'bout this chick he knew, how emphatic she was, every finger could send a different message."
"I'm an actress on Broadway," Rachel grinned back at him, "And the...Trickster was right, pianists tend to be more defined. Guitarists for example are a bit more fluid, the strings allow for both precision and more relaxed playing. They also develop calluses on their fingertips." She sighed, "I dated a guitarist once... I absolutely loved his hands."
"Yeah, I think every girl has dated a guitarist once," The barman chuckled.
"Not like mine," Rachel smiled wistfully and took her refilled drink, sipping it with gratitude. Matt's set was coming to an end, he had an impressive amount of money tucked in his g-string and Kurt looked like he was a kid in a candy store. "So, apparently one of the bouncers will take you back discreetly, once he's backstage," She leaned towards Kurt to explain. "The barman said a lot of guys don't stay so Matt's used to being disappointed. Give him the full Hummel treatment about how wonderful he was Kurt, he deserves it."
Kurt grinned at her, "After that performance, oh yes he does!" He grinned at the tall black man with dreadlocks who was coming towards him.
"You Kurt?" The bouncer asked with a frown.
"I am," Kurt hopped down from his stool. "And I'll try not to gush over how amazing he was until I'm in private. I don't want him to lose a job he's so obviously brilliant at, but oh my..." He fanned himself with his hand as the bouncer escorted him away, already half won over by Kurt's obvious crush.
"You want another?" The barman asked Rachel and she realized that she'd actually drained her glass.
"Water if you have it please," She smiled. "I haven't eaten since lunch."
"Here," The barman slid a bowl of pretzels down to her and set a bottle of water next to it. "To tide you over until you get dinner."
"Thanks," Rachel crossed her legs and put her back to the stage until the bartender pointed towards it again.
"This you oughta see. If you didn't care for Joe or Matt, you might like the Trickster," The barman chuckled. "He's a whole 'nother animal."
"He's the one who told you about pianists," Rachel recalled. "All right," She tilted her head. "Is he the one who was center stage during the group number? Kurt said he was Matt's protégé."
"He's mine," A drawl from way south of the Mason Dixon line dripped the words out like honey. "He's the Trickster and he's somethin' new every night." Rachel turned to see a blond man of at least forty five years dressed in leather pants and a black vest. "He's somethin' special. No shame, no dismay, no apologies."
Rachel tilted her head, "Rachel Barbra Berry," She held out her hand curious to see if the man would take it. He didn't shake it they way she'd hoped, he raised it to his lips and she couldn't help but firm her lips a bit. "And you are?"
"Well they all call me Mac," The man said cheerfully, "This is my place." He didn't seem dismayed by her obvious dislike of his lips on her hand even when she withdrew it from his grasp as quickly as she could.
"Its quite a place," Rachel tilted her head, "Do you run women's clubs too?"
"Too much trouble," Mac shook his head. "Too many fights, too many women ready to kill each other when they all synced up. It was a terrifying experience. No, nay, never. No nay never no more."
"Will I play the wild rover, nay never no more," Rachel sang the next line her voice ringing like a bell across the bar.
"Musician?" Mac inquired just as the bartender had.
"Actress," The barman corrected him with a grin. "Broadway."
"Ah, and is that an actual statement or is the wish father to the thought?" The self-confessed club owner asked.
"I just got the part of Mimi in a revival of Rent," Rachel smiled. "I'm supposed to be celebrating but my friend wanted to come here first. He's a friend of Matt's." She added with a half smile, lowering her voice unnecessarily.
"Well congrats," The owner grinned. "Now if you'll excuse me I have to announce my own star."
"You impressed him," The barman chuckled. "Most women fawn over him."
"Why because he shows off his chest?" Rachel tilted her head watching the man on stage. For the few minutes he was there he owned it. "Or is it because of his presence?"
"A bit a both," The barman grinned, "I'm Mike."
"Rachel," She offered him her hand and he kissed it as well. "Is this a club wide thing?" She rolled her eyes.
"Don't like romance?" Mike grinned.
"I love actual romance. I don't like fake romance or gestures for their own sake, I live in that world. It'd be like falling in love with the performance and being utterly disappointed by the actual person when you meet them," Rachel shrugged. "My guitarist did something truly romantic, an amazing gesture, several of them actually in the week we dated. He spoiled me."
"Sounds like," Mike shook his head. "Most guys can't live up to first loves."
"I don't expect that," Rachel watched as the lights dimmed and a figure appeared behind sheer curtains at the back of the stage. "He never loved me. But he was my friend, or I thought he was." She put her attention to the stage and tried to put thoughts of Puck out of her mind. This was a truly exquisite dancer on stage. He was so fluid, it was like watching liquid contained in a human skin, effortless and so sexual she could feel her skin flushing.
He stripped off his hooded jacket revealing a white wife beater shirt and baggie pants, and a baseball cap tugged low over his face, thrusting his hips forward as if a magnet pulled him upright from the center of his body. "Oh my god," Rachel blinked in shock. "He's amazing," She was aware of her mouth falling open and closed it with a snap. Every time he moved she felt a tightening between her thighs. She hadn't felt anything for the other dancers, one had been ridiculous, the other had been gay. The rest of the men in the ensemble had been faceless. This man deliberately hid his face.
Then he carefully, seductively removed his wife beater and she caught the gleam of a nipple ring in the lights. Her breath caught, he was so beautiful, half dancer half gymnast as he flipped and floated through his routine. Even when he came to the edge of the stage she couldn't see his face, but oh he was disturbingly attractive all the same, she could feel her entire body warming with lust as she looked at him. Then he did a back flip off the stage and picked up a woman from the audience, picked up her chair, his muscles flexing, but barely bulging, as if he lifted over a hundred pounds every day. Her chair fell to the floor and he hoisted her higher, his face against her belly, still hidden.
Rachel caught herself leaning forward, praying she'd catch a glimpse of his face. She hadn't felt such an overwhelmingly physical pull to a man since... she wasn't going to think of that. Her relationships had all been fine. No great love affairs but nothing that had truly hurt her either, no leading man. The woman the stripper was pretending to mount had turned his ball cap backwards so his lips could touch her skin. His profile was... Rachel's hand clenched on her purse and she held her breath as he stood with his trademark smirk on his face and took off his shoes before playfully lowering his pants, a g-string revealing the most gorgeous ass she'd ever seen. The woman onstage was tugging on his pants, and then he was pretending to mount her again, pretending to sixty nine her. Rachel quickly turned her back and took a long gulp of her water.
"You all right?" Mike the barman looked at her curiously. She'd gone very pink during the act and the minute his face had come into view she'd gone dead white and turned around. "He can't see this far back; the lights on stage make it hard to see the bar."
"I know," Rachel nodded. "Is he...available for private dances this evening?" She lifted her hand to her eyes and made sure her tears weren't leaking out before she steeled herself and met the barman's gaze.
"Yeah, but its five hundred for the rest of the night," Mike said slowly. "You sure you're all right?"
"I'm perfectly fine," Rachel gave him her most genuinely pleasant happy show smile. "I just want to spend some time with him. I don't think I'm ever going to get Kurt back for dinner so I may as well celebrate with a very attractive man who might give me some information I can use to play my part."
"Research?" Mike looked at her thoughtfully, "You mean to tell me you can't pole dance and you're gonna play Mimi?"
"Please," Rachel snorted into her water and rolled her eyes. "I can do everything Puck can do and I can do it in heels and backwards if it comes to that."
"Puck," Mike blinked. "How'd you know his name?"
Rachel blinked and tilted her head, "He's the Trickster right? 'And, as I am an honest Puck if we have unearned luck. Now to scape the serpents tongue. We will make amends ere long else the Puck a liar call'." She quoted the play word for word with a shrug. "It just seemed...right."
"I'll send word back that he's gotta payin' customer for the rest of the night," Mike eyed her thoughtfully and picked up the phone, tapping something into it.
Puck took a deep breath as he got off stage and headed towards the dressing room only to be brought up short by a painfully familiar voice. Kurt Hummel was Matt's new boyfriend, shit shit shit. Puck ducked to the opposite side of the stage and picked up his phone from the stand. God was being merciful, Mike had just texted him that he had a customer wanted the rest of the night. He could duck in, grab his things and duck out...but Hummel had radar for all things involving Rachel Berry and Puck had definitely been involved with Rachel at one point in time. She'd cut all ties with him when she left Lima. He was pretty sure that seeing or hearing about her now would not help his performance in the next couple hours. And it wasn't as if he was eager for the news to get back to Lima that he was a male stripper regardless of the money.
Texting back to Mike that he would do it and could someone get a room set upstairs, Puck hurriedly called Joe. "Hey," the tall man's deep voice filled his ear.
"Hey Joe, I gotta little problem," Puck muttered. "I gotta private customer wants the rest of the night and I don't got time to do a meet and greet. Can you grab me the black costume from my locker and bring it backstage? I'm gonna sponge off and change really quick. They're getting the room set up now."
"Matt's gonna be mad," Joe warned him even as Puck heard him moving around and grabbing the clothes. "He really wants you to meet this guy."
"Yeah and I wanna, I just you know, would like to make five hundred tonight. It'd go a long way towards setting me up for next semester." Puck admitted quietly. He did need the cash and he didn't want to meet Kurt at his workplace.
"I'm on my way." Puck thanked Joe and God in that order as he hung up.
Rachel had been escorted to a decent sized room on one of the upper floors of the building. It probably could be filled with twenty or thirty people, good for private parties maybe, it even had a stage with two poles on it. Thoughtfully she looked down at her tight pants and tunic top, sparkling with rhinestones and shiny with satin. Her hands reached up and pulled the chopsticks out of her hair, letting it fall, still half damp from her shower earlier that evening, curling in waves down to the small of her back. Purse and chopsticks were set on a chair and she mounted the stage.
Somehow she was always more relaxed onstage than off. She could pretend to be whoever she wanted. She wasn't the girl no one had liked in high school. She wasn't the one everyone competed with in college. And onstage she definitely wasn't the woman who'd called Esther Puckerman every month, if not more, since she'd left Lima, to ask about a boy who clearly didn't want to see her. Why were other people always more important to her than she was to them? He'd been in the same city for at least five years and he hadn't even tried to get in touch with her. She'd asked her dads every time she called if they'd heard from him and each week, then each month the answer was no. Until she'd stopped asking them. But she couldn't stop calling his mother.
Rachel took a deep breath and began to go through the piece she'd prepared for her Mimi audition, it was fluid, dirty with just a touch of elegance, that bit of the rose she still saw in Mimi despite the thorns. The pole felt exactly the same in her hands, her legs slid around it just the same and she could still pull herself in the air and slide around down it, toes pointed gracefully.
"Damn, that's a nice sight," Puck's voice called through the room. Rachel hadn't even heard him come in, her hands slipped on the pole and down she went, with an audible thump and a crack of her head against the pole. "Shit," He rushed forward and scooped her up from behind, setting her in a chair, "You okay? I'll give your money back if you wanna go to the hospital. Hittin' your head isn't anything to mess with."
Rachel shook her head, grateful for a moment that her hair had covered her face when she'd fallen so ignominiously. She took a deep breath and whispered, her accent pure Boston, "Very impressive right? Broadway Diva injured while pole dancing."
He didn't recognize her voice, that hurt, even though she'd put a lot of effort into making herself sound different, the sound should still be the same, if the accent wasn't. But he stroked a hand over her hair and she wanted to just start crying he was so kind still. "You're a Broadway actress? That's awesome. I gotta friend from home who's gonna be a huge star on Broadway. I can't wait to see her name in lights."
"Do you?" Rachel moved slightly, standing and felt him move behind her, ready to speak face to face now that she was moving as if she wanted conversation. She kept her head down, her hair hiding a great deal.
"Do I what?" He sounded confused and wasn't that surprising. He still didn't know who she was even though she'd dropped the accent the second time she spoke.
"Do you have a friend who's going to be on Broadway Noah?" Rachel's head jerked up as he moved in front of her. "Are you sure? Because your 'friend' hasn't heard from you since she left Lima." She stared at him and watched as every emotion he felt flooded over his face before his old habitual mask slammed down. Joy, shame, anger and wretched hope washed through his eyes until they flattened into no expression.
"You haven't heard from me?" Puck leaned forward, rage in his voice. "I was in Lima for a year before I got here. I never got a call from you. I never got a letter. Hell Berry, I heard more from you when I was in Juvie than I did when you were in New York."
"I called every week," Rachel shook her head. "I sent letters. I called my dads. I called your mother." She stamped her foot in frustration, "I've called your mother every month since the day I left Lima. I asked if there was any news of you every time I called my dads for three years until I stopped asking. Your mother said you were in LA. She told me that the first month I got here Noah. I begged for your address but she said you hadn't sent it yet."
"What the fuck are you talkin' about Rachel," Puck stared down at her. "I called your dads and asked if I could have your address so I could write to you. I did nothing but work non-stop for a year so I could get outta that shit town and into this fuckin' city. Everything I sent to the address they gave came back; it said the mail was rejected. Then it started sayin' the occupant doesn't reside there." He scowled, "I call my mom every week to let her know I'm alive. I call your dads every other week to make sure you're okay. I went to NYADA, I went to Julliard, I went to Tisch and I looked for you. And after three years in this city I stopped lookin' because you woulda been done with school by then."
"I don't understand," Rachel shook her head, "I missed you so much." She took a deep breath and held her tears back again. "You were my only real friend Noah. You were the only one who really knew what New York, what Julliard meant to me. Sure, Kurt got here six months after me, and we became good friends instead of the competing divas we were in high school. But he wasn't you. He wasn't ever you."
"Your phone number changed," Puck told her softly. He knew Rachel and he knew her actress diva tears and when she was genuinely upset. When she was upset she tried to never cry. If she was doing the diva thing there'd be a storm of tears. "And my ma threw away my phone an' got me a new one. As a reward for graduating she said. My old phone had all our pictures on it and she threw it away. I was pissed at her for weeks."
"Daddy gave me a new phone. He said this one had a better GPS and he also didn't want me going to New York with an old phone that had such awful roaming charges," Rachel remembered. "I had to get all the old numbers and everything transferred over. But your number didn't work." She shuddered with the effort of holding back her tears. "I kept dialing your old number, but I only got some old lady who told me to stop bothering her."
Puck looked down at Rachel and shook his head, she didn't understand yet but he knew exactly what had happened. No one in Lima had ever thought he was good enough for Rachel. Everyone thought of him as that awful Puckerman boy. Not even his mother thought he was good enough for Rachel so she and Rachel's fathers had made sure that once Rachel was in New York that he'd never be able to get in touch with her again. "I'm sorry baby," He slid a finger down a long lock of hair and tucked it behind her ear wanting nothing more than to bury his face in her soft curls. "I'm so sorry Rae."
"It's not your fault," Rachel had wrapped her fingers around the black vest he wore and was clinging tightly. Puck grinned, if she pulled too hard the damn thing would come off.
"Yeah it is," Puck disagreed. "If I'd ever once been good enough for you Rae, maybe they wouldn't a done it. Maybe my ma wouldn't a lied to you for years. Maybe your dads woulda told me where you were if for once I was a good kid. If once I'd done somethin' right in my life."
"But you did," Rachel shook her head, "Noah, you gave up football for me. You took a slushy for dating me. You serenaded me. And after that you always defended me. You... you took care of me Noah. Nobody ever took care of me. You beat up Jacob Ben Israel for me even."
"That wasn't anything compared to all the bad I did," Puck said quietly. "I don't blame your dads. I can blame my mom though. You're supposed to believe in your kids right?" He shook his head, "I just..." A thought struck him and he looked at her, "Are you nuts? Payin' five hundred to spend the rest of the night with a stripper? You realize you got robbed and we close at three am? It was twelve when I came in here."
"I didn't pay five hundred dollars to be with a stripper," Rachel shook her head. "I paid so I could see you. I recognized you on stage, I..." She blushed, "I had wanted you so badly before I could see your face, your body... the way you move Noah, you're...amazing. But then I saw it was you and I knew I'd do anything, I'd have emptied my savings, to spend five minutes with you and find out why you just forgot about me."
"I'm gettin' you your money back," Puck muttered. "I ain't workin' anyway." He shook his head. "I never forgot about you Rae. I might not a told your name, but co workers an' my roommate, who by the way is totally infatuated with Male Diva, knows all about the girl I've loved since high school. The girl I'd known since I was six."
"All I did tonight when you weren't dancing was talk with the bartender Mike about the guitarist I'd dated and how he'd spoiled me for romance, how he'd made these real, important gestures that were so incredibly romantic even though we'd only dated a week." Rachel looked up at him, "Kurt said Matt's roommate is a student too, where do you go to school?"
"NYC Community college," Puck shrugged. "It's cheaper than a four year school and it took me some time to get on my feet. Plus I can't exactly go full time. I figure when I get enough saved I can transfer to a four year school and finish my degree." He felt the seams of the vest start to give as Rachel tried to pull him closer. "Ask me what I'm studyin' Rae."
"What's your major?" Rachel couldn't take her eyes away from his face.
"Double major in music and business," Puck grinned. "I was thinkin' I could run a club, maybe own one someday. Or just go into production." Rachel tried to pull him even closer and he grinned as the vest ripped down the back and flowed off down his arms. "Damn Rae, if you wanna undress me all you gotta do is ask. I do this for a living you know."
"How do you keep from...reacting?" Rachel blushed and set his torn vest on the table nearby. "You were very close to that woman tonight."
"Salt peter," Puck grinned, he loved when Rachel got jealous, her voice got all precise and polite. "Plus you know, I had my share of being treated like a piece a meat back in Lima. Women doin' it by the truck load isn't exactly a turn on these days." He took a deep breath and shook his head, "I haven't had sex in almost a year Rae," He confessed quietly. "These private dates, they aren't about sex. Some women just want a guy to make 'em feel special. Dance with 'em. Or its bachelorette parties or whatever. I've done a few gay parties with Matt. Those are always interesting."
"Why haven't you had sex?" Rachel knew she was wide eyed. The Noah she knew wanted to have sex at least once a day if not more.
"I've been sexually active since I was thirteen Rae," Puck told her quietly. "And after a while... just didn't want to anymore. Didn't have the urge or I was usin' it as an escape, wasn't healthy. I like my job all right. It's a living but I ain't like Mac or Kevin, I don' wanna do this the rest of my life. The dancin's fun but the rest is a pain. And I could do without bein' thought of as a man whore for once in my life." He shrugged, "It isn't bad, but it isn't my dream job."
"Oh Noah," Rachel's palm pressed to his abs and she shivered slightly. "I guess you prepared for this 'date' just like you did all the others," She teased trying to lighten the mood, "So I won't take offense that for the first time since I've known you, you aren't reacting to me touching you."
"You got no idea what you're doin' to me Rae," Puck told her pulling her hand up so it rested over his pounding heart. "That shit don't take away desire, just stops a man from reactin' to it." He bent down and kissed her. "Now here's what we're gonna do."
Rachel moaned as his lips touched hers and then left all too soon, "Noah?"
"Baby, you're gonna go down stairs and I'm gonna go down too. And I'm gonna get you four hundred back because we haven't been up here for even an hour," Puck explained patiently. "Then I'm gonna do my last shift. If you want I'll even get you on stage with me. Don't know if I could touch another girl with you watchin' anyway." He grimaced, "Never could fake anything with you." Puck let his hand drift over her hair and wrapped an arm around her waist. "Then I'm gonna go back stage and Mac's gonna bring you back to me if we don't end up onstage together. I'm gonna shower and get all this shit off me and then I'm takin' you home or for somethin' to eat or whatever you want."
Rachel tilted her head, "But if you keep the five hundred we could stay here all night."
"Yeah and I can't touch you like I wanna. New York's got rules about prostitution," Puck teased her. "Now if you wanna hire me baby we can work out a payment plan."
"If you get me on that stage with you, you had better bring it," Rachel nodded finally. "I just..." She gathered her chopsticks and put them in her purse. "I don't want to leave... the last time...I thought we'd be able to talk and I'd see you during Hanukah or Yom Kippur or at least during the summer but..." She shook her head.
"All right, amendment to the plan," Puck kissed her gently. "We'll go down together and I'll get you to the bar and give Mac the money. Only time I'll be outa your sight will be when I'm backstage. An' if I ain't earnin' with you I'm workin' until we close."
"All right," Rachel smiled. "I'll sit at the bar and pretend that Mac is charming and eat pretzels."
"Shit, tell Mike I said to get you a veggie burger from down the street," Puck scowled. "My girl does not starve herself."
"She does when she's celebrating and Kurt drags her to a strip club instead of a restaurant," Rachel told him dryly. "However, given the evening's result I wouldn't change a thing." Puck's joyful grin and sparkling hazel eyes made any amount of hunger worth it.
Puck hurried back stage and was glad he was already wearing his costume, Kevin's slot was almost up, then Matt would go again and then it was his turn, the finale of the night. He ran into Matt in the hallway and grinned at him, "Dude I promise I will meet him after my spot."
Joe greeted him with a surprised look, "Problem?"
"Just ended up not wanting the full night," Puck shrugged. "It happens. She's a great chick. I'mma put her on stage with me. The girl can dance." He grinned slyly, "I gotta tell Mac to seat her up front where I can get to her."
"You gotta tell Mac what?" Mac's low drawl sounded from the doorway.
"We owe her four hundred since she didn't use the whole night. So now someone don't gotta do three slots," Puck explained hurriedly as he went through his stretches. "But she's a cool chick and she can dance so if you seat her up by the front of the stage I'll get her up with me."
"You sure about this?" Mac seemed a little dubious, "She doesn't exactly seem like the responsive type."
"She said you and Mike both kissed her hand," Puck grinned. "Mike said she was pretty cool about Matt and told her friend to really make a fuss about how good he was since it was true and Matt deserved it."
"All right, I'll give her three fifty back," Mack shrugged. "And I'll get her as close to the stage as I can. But she's dressed like a nun man."
"Wouldn't know," Puck shrugged as he pulled his vest back on and sealed the velcro down, "I'm Jewish remember?"
"Oh yeah," Mac wandered off, hopefully to give Rachel her money back.
"So what's the deal man," Joe regarded Puck thoughtfully. "First you don't wanna meet Matt's guy and you always meet his guys. You're usually the one who says they aren't good enough for him afterwards. Then you race off to this 'date' and less than an hour later you're racing back, but you're so into the chick she's gonna get on stage with you if you hafta go through half the audience to get her."
"You know that girl I told Matt about? The one I dated for a very brief time in high school? The one you say I can't shut up about?" Puck asked as he began to reapply the stage makeup.
"Yeah, pianist you said," Joe nodded.
"Pianist, dancer, singer, actress... you name it she could do it." Puck grinned, the expression was so full of joy that Joe blinked. "She was my best friend. And then she came to New York, went to Julliard, and I never heard from her again. Not until tonight."
"That's your girl?" Joe blinked. "Now I want a look at her."
"Well you're gonna get one," Puck grinned. "I'm draggin' her backstage with me afterward. I'm gonna bring her back here so I can keep an eye on her." He chuckled, "I shoulda brought her now, she's a pro at this shit, used ta line my eyes for our numbers."
"This is the glee club girl?" Kevin asked as he entered the room. Alex followed after him, the kid was slowly learning the ropes and the moves.
"The very one," Joe chuckled. "And the Trickster here is playing a fine one."
"Yeah well Mac's gonna be too wowed to object," Puck grinned. "I know my girl. And anytime she is on stage she is magic."
"Well we are all gonna be watching from the wings," Joe chuckled. "I guess this means her friend is also your friend?"
"Yeah, if you can keep Kurt from going extreme Male Diva I would truly appreciate it," Puck winced. "That boy had a soprano that could shatter glass. Sang Defying Gravity and competed with Rae. Blew the last note, on purpose I think, but it ain't easy to be openly gay in a small, sucky, town like Lima."
"Well your number is almost up so you'd better get on out there and figure out where she's sitting," Kevin suggested.
"Yeah," Puck grinned and hurried off to the side of the stage, getting a good look beyond the lights and searching for Rachel's unmistakable face. And there she was, sitting at a table by herself, second row from the front. He blinked in surprise and swore softly, she'd taken off the clingy satin pants she'd been wearing. Now all she was wearing was what might be an extremely short dress or a very long shirt. Her legs were still disturbingly long and creamy and he was grateful for the damn salt peter.
Then Matt was hurrying off stage and into the waiting arms of Kurt Hummel. Puck was glad he always wore something that shielded his face for the first part of his performances because damned if he wanted to hear Kurt going full on falsetto in shock. Then he got into place and his music started and all he could think of was the dance that Rachel was watching him. She was here, she was going home with him and he wasn't going to be able to let her out of his sight until he had all her contact information.
He spun and bumped, ground to the music and dry humped the stage as he flipped and dove through the air. All he wanted to do was impress his girl, get to dance with his girl again and touch her...and then he was at the edge of the stage, jumping down and striding forward with intent in every line of his body. She was so gorgeous, her brown eyes wide with awe and desire and love fuck him if it wasn't love in her eyes. He picked her up and threw her over his shoulder caveman style before he strode back to the stage, and set her down so she was sitting on the edge of it. Undulating his upper body against hers, he felt her legs wrap around his waist. "You ready baby?" He muttered the words from between his teeth clenched in a grin.
"Are you baby?" She smirked at him and he knew he was in trouble when her legs left his waist and one high heel deliberately kicked his hat off his head. She slithered back onto the stage, her eyes mocking the submissive pose as he jumped up and crawled after her. Covering her body with his was pure instinct, that she knelt and bent back so her head touched the floor, her body a perfect arch, letting his crotch rub against hers was a blessing. And when he backed away, the hands of other women pulling off his shoes and his pants she pushed herself upwards and swayed seductively, her hands sliding from her knees up her thighs, to reveal the lacy tops of stockings as her dress rode up with her hands.
Puck groaned low in his chest and watched as someone's hands, slender and female, tucked money into Rachels stockings. Hell the woman was earning tens and fives...he was going to have to step up his game. She rose to her feet and flicked her hair over her shoulder, contempt in her gaze as she took a step away. Puck growled and grabbed her upper arm, turning her back toward him, and her leg wrapped around his hip. Dragging her further out onto the long part of the stage, showing off her legs, her panties, he looked down at her dress and wondered if she'd have the nerve to take it off.
Rachel tossed her head back and laughed, seductive joy in every note of her voice, her hands finding the hem of her dress and pulling it over her head to sail back stage. Black bra, a tiny pair of black panties and those wicked stockings with cash stuffed in the tops... Puck nearly dropped her in sheer surprise. And then she squirmed away from him, a clawing spitting cat landing on all fours and crawling seductively down the length of the stage, her hair tousled and her eyes meeting the gaze of every woman there. She was the predator they all wanted to be, the woman who was the equal to this man who'd claimed her. Puck began to stride towards her, his woman, ignoring the hands that touched him, a smirk on his lips as hands touched her. She was almost to the edge of the stage and then he had her. One hand wrapped around her waist, the other wound into her hair, tugging her head back, her throat exposed to him, a kitten in the throes of heat, she rubbed against him. Puck slid his hand from her waist down to her hip and thigh and back up again, and bent to deliberately set his teeth in her throat. Scooping her up in his arms he cradled her for a moment, studying her eyes before smirking at the pleased expression she wore. Then he threw her over his shoulder and tossed a teasing grin back at the audience.
Kurt was still standing in the wings along with the rest of the dancers and crew. And Matt had his hand over Kurt's mouth. Puck looked around for Rachel's dress and saw that Joe was holding it. Making sure the curtain had gone down Puck made shooing motions with his hands and got Rachel completely offstage before setting her on her feet and shielding her body with his once he'd grabbed the dress.
Rachel tugged it over her head and grinned up at him, "I think I can play Mimi with a lot more authenticity now."
Puck blinked, "You got Mimi? You're shittin' me Rae, you got fuckin' Mimi?" He barely kept himself from whooping in excitement, grabbing her up and carrying her back to the dressing room where he set her on his spot before the mirrors. "For real? With that routine you showed me?" He was vaguely aware of everyone else following them and filing into the room.
"Yep," Rachel grinned. "I took a pole dancing class and everything. I haunted the strip clubs. One of the dancers at LaBare might think I'm into her," She took a deep breath. "Getting Mimi is nothing compared to finding you again Noah."
Puck couldn't help it, he wrapped her in his arms and buried his face in her hair. This was what had been missing for the past five plus years. "God baby, I might just hafta go to Synagogue an' thank Him," He could feel everything caught in his chest. Like Rae, he didn't cry in front of people. Not ever. Rae was the only one who'd ever seen him with tears in his eyes. For his daughter, for his future, for hurting her but he hadn't let his own mother see him cry after his father left.
"I'll go with you," Rachel said softly. "I haven't spoken to God...since I lost you." She touched his hair, petting him like she used to. "God baby, I'm so grateful for you."
"Noah?" Joe blinked as he took in the sight of Puck with his face buried in the long dark hair of tiny woman, his shoulders and back heaving as if he were sobbing. "Seriously?"
Rachel glared at the tall man, "We're Jewish. Would you like to insult my culture any further? Or was that it?"
Puck chuckled, "Baby you haven't changed, still a ball buster," He kissed her gently on the lips. "I gotta shower and get alla this crap offa me. Then if it's all right...like to show you where I live. Want you to... to know where I am. When I ain't with you." Rachel nodded and her face looked anxious, Puck turned and pointed to the doorway kitty corner from him, "I'm just gonna be in there, won't be far."
"First let me take that stuff off your face, you know it won't come off without special creams," Rachel frowned up at the pancake makeup and began to rummage in the purse someone had grabbed and brought backstage. Pulling out her pants she grinned triumphantly as she found her jar of make up remover. Puck had cotton balls so she began dipping them into the cream and then wiping them over his face.
Puck sighed and closed his eyes contentment washing over him, "Feels like high school." He murmured with a smile.
"Yes but then you were all, 'Rae, badasses don't wear make up. Why do we gotta wear this shit? This shit feels weird as fuck Rae." She teased him, "I turned into your personal make up artist and Kurt was so appalled at your lack of a skin regime he created one just for you."
"Well he did nothing but wash it with soap and water," Kurt complained. "The boy's skin was withering before my eyes. I couldn't do nothing. He was Rachel's boy."
"Yeah well tell our fuckin' parents that," Puck growled and then grinned when Rachel's lips touched his, their age old signal for his face being done. Opening his eyes he looked down at her and cupped her face in his hands, kissing her as tenderly as he could manage. "Waited five an' a half years to say it. Ain't gonna wait a fuckin' minute more, even if alla these yahoos are standin' around. I love you Rae. Always loved you. Always will."
Her dark eyes brightened with tears and she kissed him so passionately that Puck swore he felt things moving that had no business moving with salt peter on them. "I love you too, I've loved you forever Noah. I'll love you forever."
"Fuck," Puck groaned and kissed her again, "Shower, an' then we pick this up where we left off." He promised grabbing a towel and his soaps.
"He is not using that awful stuff," Kurt gasped and Puck stopped as the delicate man shouted, "Noah Abram Puckerman you get back here and take this with you." Puck sighed and turned reluctantly to see Kurt Hummel standing with his hands on his hips. From his man purse he pulled a stash of products and handed them to Puck with the air of someone doing him an enormous favor.
"Kurt, babe you know I got no clue what this shit is right?" Puck shook his head.
"Face wash, body wash, face lotion, leave that here Rachel can put it on you after you shower," Kurt took that one out and set it next to Rachel. "Now go on. You're going to fill us all in when we get home."
Puck groaned, "Yes mom," But he took the things he'd been given into the shower with him. As if his exit was some signal everyone began talking at once. Ignoring the babble he called back into the room, "Rachel, before you give them one word a explanation put your fuckin' pants back on. And take that money outa your underwear. You dunno where that's been."
"I like her legs," Joe remarked lasciviously and was startled by the loud and very angry growl that came from the showers.
"Rachel, pants, now baby before I kill somebody," Puck called furiously.
"It's all right Noah, they're all going about their business. Matt and Kurt are helping me with the tips." Rachel called and the grumbling subsided.
"He calls you babe?" Matt blinked at Kurt with a confused smile.
"Puck is odd," Kurt chuckled. "He made it very clear during high school that he wasn't into guys. But one day he tilts his head, looks at me and then kisses me, just a little brush of his lips, sweet you know? He pats my back and tells me that I really shouldn't worry about dating. If gay guys were anything like straight guys, I could lead them around by the dick because quote 'my ass was nearly as good looking as Rachel's', unquote." He shrugged, "He's called me babe ever since."
Matt chuckled and smiled, "Considering the first time I met him I was kissing him and fondling only to be told he was straight, I'm not terribly surprised." Rachel giggled and he shrugged, "What? He'd crashed on my couch, he'd talked to me the night before; I thought he stayed because he was into me." He sighed when Kurt and Rachel giggled again, "Yeah, yeah, make fun of the new guy."
"I would like to know what the fuck is goin' on," Mac was standing in the doorway. "Who the fuck are you two?" He was eyeing Rachel and Kurt as if they were aliens.
"You know how Puck always talks about the girl he dated in high school? The one who could sing and dance and act? The one he's been in love with for, like, ever?" Matt said quietly, "Meet Puck's girl."
"So where've you been?" Mac folded his arms. "I have never seen Puckerman act like that in regards to a woman before. And I've seen the man with women. He's a hound."
"It's a Rachel thing," Kurt said carelessly as Rachel took off her dress and began to pluck money out of her bra and panties. He regarded her stockings with dismay, "Puck's right we'll have to wash all of this."
"We've got a good curtain rod in the shower," Matt offered, "If you wash them tonight we can leave the fan running, they should be dry by tomorrow."
"What do you mean its a Rachel thing?" Mac was still fixated on how oddly his star performer was acting.
"Puck only ever acted like this with Rachel," Kurt explained matter of factly. "They dated for a week during sophomore year. And she had a boyfriend, the same one, on and off until senior year. We all thought finally, Rachel and Puck would get together. We even called them Puckleberry. But it never happened."
Rachel sighed, "I was still half in love with Finn. I broke up with him because he wanted to marry me, keep me in Lima. As if that was ever a possibility. Finn was...me being stupid, clinging to the nice boy, the boy my dads liked. They weren't happy when I broke up with him. In hindsight they were very displeased when Noah started to pick me up for school and hang out to study with me." She sighed, "I'd gotten accepted to Julliard. Noah knew I was going but we had addresses and phone numbers and we'd still be able to talk. And with me in New York we knew he'd come too, just as soon as he had the money. But he never came. I never heard from him after I got on that train. The last time I saw him before tonight was him standing at the station with his hands over his chest, shaped like a heart." Her voice broke and she took a deep breath pulling a dollar bill out of the back of her panties before she pulled her dress back on. "If you think of it as Romeo and Juliet it sounds ridiculous," Her voice was muffled.
"Diva, you don't mean your dads..." Kurt blinked. "And his mother? All those letters..."
"Puck has a shoebox crammed full of letters that were returned," Matt offered quietly. "He was always really down when he got one. He'd drink more that week, or he'd go out and screw some random chick. I finally had to talk with him about it...just like talked to me about my drinking."
"Rachel's box is supposed to be a memory box," Kurt said quietly. "It has nothing but letters to Puck in it."
"How the hell did they pull this off?" Matt wanted to know, "With Facebook and cell phones and Google, how do you just lose someone?"
"Rachel's account on MySpace was hacked so many times she shut it down," Kurt said quietly. "She was never popular in school so she never set up a Facebook account. I know she searched but never found any mention of Noah Puckerman on Facebook. She'd have set up an account in an instant if she'd found his name."
Rachel had managed to control the tears that threatened to overwhelm her, "We figured out that our parents gave us new phones at the same time. We each had new numbers, no way to contact each other. No one else had Noah's number besides his mother." She shook her head, "She lied to me, lied to me for five and a half years about where he was. She said he was in LA and that she'd pass on my messages when he called her."
Puck came out of the shower with a towel wrapped around his waist and set his toiletry bag on the counter, "An' her dads did the same ta me. Lied about her address an' never told her I called." He looked at Kurt, "Didn't have your number either," He shook his head. "Tried callin' your parents but...they just said you were in New York. They told me that if you hadn't contacted me that you obviously wanted a new life away from the reminders of McKinley. I couldn't blame you for that."
"So your parents decided to keep you two apart," Mac folded his arms, "Why would they do that?"
"My dads never thought Noah was good enough for me," Rachel said softly. "He got in a lot of trouble as a kid. But he was never..." She shook her head. "I've been..."
"If you've been anything like Puck you've been miserable for over five years," Matt said slowly.
Puck shrugged and dropped his towel on the chair before he pulled on a pair of shorts. Kurt's hands covered his face and he screeched "My eyes my eyes," dramatically before Rachel began giggling, handily lightening the mood.
"Noah has never been shy about his body," She let her gaze wander over him happily. "He has nothing to be shy about."
Puck looked up at the little purr in her voice and grinned wickedly. "Told ya once I told you a hundred times baby, we're a-"
"Coupla hot lookin' Jews, it's only natural," Rachel finished in unison with him and giggled as she hopped down from the counter to pull on her pants.
"Matt, man you gonna shower or what?" Puck blinked at his friend, "You an' Kurt goin' out after this?"
"No," Matt blinked and shook his head, "No I showered during your act, got up there just in time to see you go after Rachel." He looked at the diminutive woman, "By the way, incredible acting, and the dancing is quite good. If your singing is as good as Puck claims-"
Rachel grinned and shook her head, "I've always been best at music," She looked at Kurt and then at Noah, "I know you two know this one." She hummed a few bars and began to sing.
"Perhaps I had a wicked childhood
Perhaps I had a miserable youth
But somewhere in my wicked, miserable past
There must have been a moment of truth,"
She looked at Kurt and nodded to him, the boyish soprano took a deep breath and sang gently,
"For here you are, standing there, loving me
Whether or not you should
So somewhere in my youth or childhood
I must have done something good,"
Their voices joined, twining beautifully through the air and Puck smiled, it felt so good to hear them sing again.
"Nothing comes from nothing
Nothing ever could
So somewhere in my youth or childhood
I must have done something good,"
Puck grinned and took his part, the Captain's part because his baritone at least sounded like a guy, unlike Kurt.
"For here you are, standing there, loving me
Whether or not you should,"
He was conscious of everyone's voice dying in the background as he sang and ignored them to listen to Rachel,
"So somewhere in my youth or childhood
I must have done something good,"
Their voices joined and Puck couldn't believe how good, how right it felt to sing with Rachel, to meld his voice with hers and know that he could do this forever barring the need for sleep, food and bodily functions.
"Nothing comes from nothing
Nothing ever could,"
Rachel took Maria's line a sweet smile on her face as she looked at him, "So somewhere in my youth,"
"Or childhood," Puck sang back to her gently.
"I must have done something..." Rachel let her voice hold the last note until he nodded and the sang the last line together again.
Kevin and Joe had come out of the showers along with Alex and all three, along with Mac were staring at Puck as if he'd grown a second head. Mac looked at Matt quizzically, "You aren't surprised that the Trickster is a closet Billy Joel?"
"I've heard him sing before," Matt shrugged. "He is my room mate," He looked at Puck with a half smile. "And the man is majoring in music and business."
"Yeah well if ya'll wanna quiz me you can wait for rehearsal tomorrow," Puck shook his head. "I'm takin' my girl home." He held out his hand to Mac and nodded when a pile of bills was put in it. Tucking it deep into his duffle bag Puck looked at Matt who'd gotten his money already and had hidden it away.
Rachel grabbed her purse and looked at the stack of money they'd pulled out of her underwear, "Who gets this? It was Noah's dance I collected it on," She said hesitantly.
"No doll," Mac shook his head, "Any tips you get onstage you keep. You earned that fair and square. I also refunded part of your fee for the night with Puck here."
Puck rolled his eyes and wrapped his arm around Rachel, "Okay we're outa here," He bid the rest of them goodbye. "We usually take a cab home, we gotta regular cabbie who knows us."
"Is he used to you having guests?" Kurt asked nervously as he eyed the cab driver in question. "He does not seem happy."
"He's not used to this many guests," Matt smiled reassuringly at the cabbie, "Don't worry babe, you can sit in my lap."
Rachel giggled, "Noah's been corrupting you." She leaned into her friend and shuddered at the heat she felt coming off of him.
Rachel sighed happily as Puck's arms wrapped around her, pulling her half into his lap, his mouth on hers. Next to them Matt and Kurt were talking quietly but Puck wasn't worrying about being rude to his friend, and truthfully neither was she, all she cared about was touching him again, feeling him touch her.
When the cab stopped in a neighborhood of brownstones converted to apartments it was a little jolt, to be taken out into the night air. Puck had scooped her up in his arms and begun carrying her up to their third floor apartment. Matt and Kurt had followed laughing, and it had been Matt who'd opened the door while Puck held her and kissed her as if he had no intention of stopping.
"Rachel hasn't eaten so before you take her away we need to feed her," Kurt said emphatically. "I was supposed to take her out for dinner to celebrate. Obviously we won't be doing that tonight."
"Tomorrow's soon enough," Rachel shook her head, "Just give me a power bar or something, fill the void."
Puck shook his head, "We got shit for salad an' stuff," He offered, "I make a mean vinaigrette."
"As long as its a fast mean vinaigrette," Rachel agreed. "I haven't eaten since lunch."
"Fuck baby, why didn't you say?" Puck shook his head and carried her into the kitchen.
"Has he always done that?" Rachel could hear Matt asking Kurt as the two men hung up their outerwear.
"Carried Rachel around," Kurt clarified. "In a way. He always wanted to touch her somehow, he'd make a point of sitting next to her. Her boyfriend, who is my step brother by the way, actually had the nerve to tell Puck to stay away from Rachel. Tried to make him promise he wouldn't make a pass at her."
Matt snorted a laugh, "How'd that go over?"
"About as well as you can imagine," Kurt's voice grew louder as they entered the kitchen. "A ton of bricks would have made less of a dent in Finn's locker. Puck broke a knuckle that time."
Rachel watched as Puck expertly whisked oil and red wine vinegar together, tossed it over leaves of romaine and spinach and added almonds. "We don't got any tofu or veggie chicken, sorry Rae," Puck handed her the plate with an apology.
Rachel shook her head and forked up some of the salad, chewing it quickly and groaning over how good it tasted, "I'm gone vegetarian these days, vegan is so hard to maintain and expensive. I found that out when I went to school. Nobody carries vegan cuisine on the cafeteria plans." She shrugged before devouring another bite. "I still don't eat eggs but that's more left over from the Vocal Adrenaline prank. I don't mind if I can't see that they're eggs. Like in cake or waffles or whatever," She knew she was shoveling salad into her mouth with all the grace and speed of a trucker after an eighteen hour haul but she was starved and the faster she ate the faster she and Puck could continue what they'd started.
Rachel's dinner had gone on a little longer than they'd expected, Matt and Kurt asking questions and talking with Puck and Rachel while she ate. But they'd shown no sign of ending the conversation and Puck was feeling about ready to combust with sheer want when Rachel had hopped up, grabbed her purse and asked where the bathroom was. Puck had gone to show her and she'd left the door open while she brushed her teeth and after a moment he'd joined her, doing the same thing. Then he'd grabbed her hand, put a finger to his lips and led her down the short hallway to his room.
Puck tugged Rachel into his room and locked the door, "This is it," He gestured towards the full size bed, one dresser, no closet so he had a clothes rack in one corner. A cheap keyboard sat on top of the dresser and his guitar was hung on the wall. His laptop sat on his bed, plugged into a charger and he grunted in irritation as he unplugged it and found another outlet from which it could charge. "I never asked," He said quietly, "If you could stay."
"I don't have rehearsals," Rachel turned so that she was in his arms and looked up at him, his face was a study of hope and affection with a healthy dose of lust. "I don't have to do anything until they start in two weeks unless they call me in to read for another actor. They're still casting," She slid her hands up his arms, over his shoulders and around his neck. "Noah, I can stay for as long as you'd like."
Puck groaned and bent down to kiss her, "God Rae," His lips moved over hers, tasting, sweet, soft, hot as Rachel responded to him. "I ain't sure how long this is gonna last baby, I..." He shuddered as her hands stroked his scalp and neck.
"Noah, if I don't get you inside me in the next five to ten minutes I will scream so loudly you'll need visual aids to find the beat when you dance because you will be stone deaf," Rachel threatened and dropped her hands to pull his shirt out of his pants and unbuckle his belt.
Puck shuddered as she continued undressing him and grabbed for the hem of her dress, for a moment both of them getting in each others way as each attempted to undress the other. It would have been comical if they hadn't both been so desperate to get their hands on each other. Finally they were naked, her stockings, dress and underwear in a pile on his floor along with a few spare bills she hadn't found when she'd cleaned up after her dance. Rachel Barbra Berry was where he'd been dreaming she'd be since he was old enough to dream about girls. Naked and in his room with a locked door.
Rachel wasn't entirely sure why she wasn't more nervous, maybe because Noah was worried enough for both of them, "You have condoms?" She asked after a moment of staring at his cock, straight and tall, standing between his legs and seeping pre-cum without even a touch from her. "I have some if you don't."
"I got 'em," Puck nodded and pulled open a drawer to pull a couple out. "I'm clean but I'll go and get tested again just in case," He couldn't stop staring at her, all curves and legs and soft creamy olive skin. "God you're just beautiful Rae," He groaned the words out.
"Baby, put the condom on and climb on top of me please," Rachel's hands reached out for his waist, sliding up to tug teasingly at his nipple ring. "I won't be responsible for my actions otherwise."
"Yeah," Puck did as she said, smoothing the latex over his cock with nary a wince as she sat down on his bed and pushed herself back so she was spread out and relaxed against his pillows and sheets. "God Rae," He couldn't help groaning as he knelt down on the bed and then did as she had demanded, covering her body with his. She was so tiny, this terrifyingly diminutive woman who held his life in her hands. "Oh my God you feel so good baby," He kissed her, sucking hard on her tongue before he lowered his head to suck on one breast while he palmed the other, "I wanna eat you baby, wanna taste you on my tongue, feel you come on my face," He told her between long pulls at her nipple with his lips before moving to her other breast and giving it the same loving treatment.
"Noah, I'm begging you, please, please fuck me now," Rachel shuddered as his hand cupped her pussy, feeling how wet she was, her nearly bare sex slick with her own moisture. "Just push inside me, I have to feel you baby please," She'd never begged in her life, never begged a man to fuck her, to do anything to her, had never been this desperate for something. Everything she'd ever wanted she could attain for herself, except this, except Noah making love to her.
"I gotta at least taste you baby," Puck groaned and kissed his way down her body before parting her nether lips with his fingers and lapping at her pussy with his tongue. "God baby, Rae you're so..." He found her clit, flushed with blood and wrapped his lips around it, giving a gentle suck like he had her nipples. Her cry of shock transformed into one of ecstasy as she shuddered and came under his mouth.
Rachel nearly wept, she'd felt so good but so empty, part of her languid with satisfaction and another still desperate, "Noah, so help me..." She moaned, "If you don't," Puck rose over her body and kissed her hard on the mouth, stopping her words.
"I am," Puck told her through clenched teeth and pushed slowly inside Rachel's tight clinging sheath. "God Rae, you feel so fuckin' good. So tight and hot, I can feel you pulsin' around me even through the damn rubber baby," He groaned as his hips met hers and opened his eyes panting to see her looking up at him. "Love you Rae," He barely got the words out as she swiveled her hips against his, even with his weight pinning her to the bed she contrived to move.
"I love you Noah," Rachel shuddered as he reacted to her movement, his hips sinking onto hers and slowly withdrawing before he snapped them forward. "Oh God, Noah," Her voice was a choked cry as he began to fuck her in earnest. "God please," How could he be driving her crazy so soon after she'd come? How was she this excited, this ready and already so close to another orgasm with a few pumps of his hips. She shuddered, lifting her hips to meet his thrusts and heard him groan deep in his chest.
Puck slid a hand under Rachel's back and the other underneath her ass, holding her to his body as he pistoned in and out of her. She was hot and tight and so wet his balls were getting soaked with her juice, "Baby, c'mon," He cajoled, his lips on her ear, her neck, kissing whatever he could read. "I'm yours baby, yours all the way, come 'round my cock now Rae." He moaned hard and deep in his throat as he felt his balls tightening up. "Baby I'm close, please Rae, don' wanna come without you," Puck knew he was pleading with her but he was getting pretty damn desperate.
Rachel could feel her body tightening up, ready to explode again but she wasn't quite there yet and she wanted so badly to come with him, to feel that storm thunder over them both, "I'm close baby, oh God, Noah I'm...I'm so close, please please," She shuddered and couldn't help writhing under him.
He looked down at her, her eyes shut, panting as she strove towards her orgasm and growled, "Look at me Rae," Puck nipped her neck with his teeth as her eyes opened. "Fuckin' look at me. I'm fuckin' you Rachel. I'm fuckin' inside you an' I'm gonna come in you any second. You see who's plowin' you Rachel?' He leaned down slightly and watched as her eyes sharpened, focused on him, "If it'd been up to me I woulda done this four an' a half years ago when I hit the city. You got a reprieve baby but your ass is mine now an' I'm gonna fuck you every day for the rest a your life."
Rachel moaned as she stared up at him, his words, unbelievably crude, twisted in her belly like lava, truthful and so welcome, Noah Puckerman was making love to her. He might call it fucking but he'd never been with her and it had been a year for him and he was still trying to take care of her. "Noah," She moaned his name and forced her eyes to stay open and on his face. "You're mine baby. I'm never, ever letting you leave me," Rachel knew her voice was almost unintelligible with need. "God Noah," She shuddered, felt the storm begin and kept her gaze fixed to his, "I'm...oh, oh baby, I'm...please, Noah, come in me, I wanna feel you...please now, baby, now." She pressed her hips up to his again and felt his control shatter.
His hips thrust faster, harder and as deep inside her as he could get, their flesh making lewd slapping sounds as his skin met hers again and again. The bedsprings squeaked with the force of it and Puck groaned, harsh and deep in his throat as her body wound tightly around his and began to throb and pulse until she was vibrating into an explosion around him, taking him with her as he dug deeply into her belly, her scream was like the sweetest music, crying out his name as he shouted his pleasure, hoarse with the sound of her name falling from his lips before he collapsed. His hips jerked a bit reflexively and Rachel shuddered and twitched slightly under him, her arms winding up around his back. "I love you Rae," Puck mumbled. "Don' let me sleep, gotta wash your things, gotta spend some quality time with your pretty little pussy too."
Rachel giggled and squeezed him closer, sighing in contentment, "I love you Noah." She stroked a hand down his back. "Give me a few minutes and we'll get up."
It was more like an hour, but Puck wouldn't give up that time of talking lazily, exchanging news and tidbits about their lives for anything. He found her an old jersey and flushed with pleasure as she pulled it on immediately. It almost hit her knees it was so big on her, but he'd always liked his jerseys a size larger than he needed. Pulling on a pair of shorts he gathered up her delicates and stockings and snagged the bottle of Woolite he and Matt kept for the rhinestone studded costumes.
Midway through their washing Puck stiffened as he heard a distinctly male moan and it wasn't Matt's voice. Rachel stiffled a giggle and shook her head, "Matt must be talented, I haven't heard Kurt sound like that since his economics teacher seduced him."
Before Puck could reply Matt's voice was shouting a wordless exclamation and Puck shook his head ruefully, "Yeah haven't heard Matt that enthusiastic in a while. They must be well matched."
He and Rachel exchanged looks and then broke down into crazy giggles, shushing each other as they finished her laundry. And then Puck couldn't take it anymore and decided he really needed a meal of his own and Rachel's pussy seemed like a fine choice.
A week, Puck grinned. He and Rachel had been together for a week. School had finished for the semester two days ago and he had another four days before Mac would increase his shifts. Rachel had taken him back to her apartment their second day together. Apparently she and Kurt had tried the roommates thing and it had worked while they were in school and on the same schedule. After they'd graduated it was harder but they were still managing it. Their apartment was nicer than Puck and Matt's but the commute to downtown was a lot longer.
Mac had warmed to Rachel considerably when she'd arrived at rehearsal with Puck and proceeded to talk with him very knowledgably and without any condescension whatsoever about the dance routines. When Mac had challenged her to make up a routine, write it and then perform it she'd just grinned and nodded, writing something down in about ten minutes before handing it to him. The dance she'd done had mimicked a strippers though she hadn't take off more than her oversized top and she'd been wearing a cami and athletic bra under it with her yoga pants. She'd given the illusion of wearing heels even though she was barefoot and Puck hadn't been able to stop himself from kissing her and pressing her against the wall so she could feel what she'd done to him.
Matt and Joe had started whistling while Alex and Kevin looked on in shock. Mac had just laughed and asked if she wanted a job as a choreographer.
Rachel had told him no thanks but she wouldn't mind helping now and then when she wasn't working. She'd eyed them all critically and pegged Joe as the one who relied on his looks to get through the routine, Kevin as a little lazy and not as sculpted as he could be, Alex was getting by on charm and perceived innocence while Matt was the best technical dancer and Puck was the one with the most natural talent. None of them were at all ashamed of their bodies even Mac had started out stripping and he'd stayed in shape out of habit.
"So what's the verdict princess?" Mac had started calling her that when he'd heard Puck call Rachel his hot little Jewish American Princess.
"Alex is inhibited still," Rachel tilted her head, "Matt has trouble connecting with his audience, so he pours his passion into the dance, and so far its working. He performed better when he knew Kurt was watching. Kevin is...coasting I guess you could say. Joe is relying on his natural attributes instead of working harder on his dances. And Noah..." She sighed, "He's your star for a reason. But he's also... tired and it shows in his posture before the curtains reveal more than his shadow." She smiled apologetically, "I doubt any of the women in the crowd notice any of these things."
Mac tilted his head at her and tapped his chest, "What about me?"
"You...enjoy being the announcer, but I think part of you misses having women screaming for you to take off your clothes," Rachel grinned. "You ought to think about performing now and then, special occasion things. It'd give the ladies a treat and one of your dancers a break now and then."
"You're shittin' me," Mac shook his head, "Girl I'm past forty five. Women aren't interested."
"Really?" Rachel tilted her head and folded her arms in a challenge, "If I can get some girls who have no knowledge of your club, will you strip for them and see how they react?" She grinned wickedly, "There are some very interesting ladies at Julliard Mac."
"All right, Sunday night, we're closed then, you get your girls, and Matt, you and your boyfriend find some of your guys, lets be equal opportunity here," Mac pointed at his dancer. "I'll work up an act and we'll tell 'em I'm...auditioning and want a practice audience."
Puck chuckled and wrapped his arms around Rachel from behind, kissing her cheek as Mac moved off to discuss a few salient points with his dancers, "You're a genius baby, he's gonna love doin' that."
"He misses performing," Rachel smiled, "He enjoys his time as an announcer on the stage so much because that's all he thinks he can do anymore."
It had been an awesome week and now he was just making breakfast while Rachel hustled around the apartment. She'd invited the guys from the club and their significant others if they had them over to watch the Giants game so she was cleaning like a madwoman. And then her phone rang. Puck could hear her curse clearly from the kitchen and she came in holding the ringing phone like it was a live snake. "Who is it Rae?" He scooped out balls of cantaloupe and dumped them in a bowl as he spoke.
"It's my dads," Rachel whispered. "I'm... I don't want to lie, I don't want to hide you. But I don't want them to..."
"Let it go to voice mail and we'll figure out what to say before you call 'em back," Puck advised calmly.
"Have you talked to your mother?" Rachel asked as the phone kept ringing.
"Yep, an' I had no problem lying through my teeth and asking if she had any news a you just like I always do," Puck scowled. "I don't tell that woman dick about my life anyway. All I ever do is disappoint her."
The phone stopped ringing and Rachel took a deep breath, "I have a trust, a small one, from my grandmother Stein. It and a fund from my dads paid for college and as long as I work it helps pay for the apartment. My dads administer it."
"Yeah," Puck tilted his head. "So they can cut you off if they find out you're with me?" He frowned, he was fine with not telling her dads if it meant she didn't have to live in a rattrap apartment.
"Technically they can't," Rachel shook her head, "Supervision of my access to the trust ceased when I was twenty one." She sighed, "I just forgot until they called, all the statements, everything still goes to them. They could really delay me getting money if they wanted to. And I know my daddy he can be ruthless about...what he thinks is best for me. He'd absolutely do it to keep me from being with you."
"So first thing Monday we make an appointment, we talk to whoever about getting everything transferred," Puck said reasonably. "Hell if you don't wanna try an' deal with it yourself you could check with Mac. He's got connections on Wall Street."
"We'll do that then. I can just...not talk about my relationships...it won't be hard, I usually don't have anything to say anyway," Rachel rolled her eyes and picked up the phone to call them back.
Puck listened as she chattered away to her dads, her voice happy and cheerful as she shared the news about the play and how the casting was going. The relationship question must have come up because her voice changed, became shy almost. "I actually met someone a few days ago Daddy," She confessed with a smile at Puck who was now cutting up watermelon. "He's a dancer." Her father must have asked a question because she giggled, "He's got natural rhythm, he dances like he's floating," She enthused and Puck grinned at her. "Off Broadway but that's normal for a guy starting out right?" She nodded into the phone, murmuring uh huhs and okays and then smiled before her voice turned hesitant, "Daddy, you and Dad still see Esther Puckerman and Bekah at Synagogue right?" The reply must not have been encouraging because her face hardened slightly but she pressed on, "No, I don't expect him to suddenly reappear in my life Dad, that would take a miracle. I just...I really just want to know that he's okay. He was always so...well he was nice to me when a lot of people didn't bother Dad, and I..." She stopped and took a deep breath. "No, no of course not. No, this new relationship is important to me and of course I don't want to scare him off with talk about a past relationship." Puck watched as her face set like stone though she kept her voice determnedly normal. "Dad, I wouldn't have a clue about where to look. Esther said he was in LA. He could be anywhere by now. I just wanted to know if you'd check for me. And you know how much I adored Bekah. If you could tell her hi and that I'll send her an autographed copy of the album when it comes out," She took a deep breath. "Dad, Daddy I'd better go, Kurt invited his boyfriend and some of our mutual friends over for the football game. Well he said he'd try to stop by if he got out of work on time. So I'm hopeful." She nodded and forced a smile into her voice, "I love you too. Buh bye!" Clicking the button to disconnect the call she waited until the phone was silent and blank and took a deep sobbing breath.
Puck scowled and put down his knife and fruit, wrapping his arms around her and carrying her to the table to sit, "Lied to you again huh," He surmised. "Tried to lay a guilt trip on you?"
"Yes," Rachel sobbed and her breath heaved as she tried to get control of her emotions. "Noah how could they do this to me? How can they keep doing it? To us? I don't..." She shook her head and sniffled sadly. "Would you call Mac and ask if he can get over here a little early? I'm not sure I want to talk about our private business in front of the other guys. I mean Matt and Kurt know but I'd rather Joe and Kevin and Alex weren't aware of the most recent drama."
"You got it baby," Puck pulled his phone out of his pocket and texted Mac. A few minutes later a grumbling but affirmative text alerted his phone and he smiled. "He's comin' over right away," Puck kissed her forehead, "Why don't you go on and change? I'll finish up the breakfast and he can have some with us."
"I'll have to thank him big time when he gets here," Rachel sighed. "I love you." She kissed him affectionately. "And as soon as I get everything straightened out with my trust I'm going to tell them. And I find myself not wanting to speak to them again."
"Don't burn any bridges," Puck returned her kiss with interest until she was sighing into his mouth. "But don't take any shit either."
"You're absolutely right," Rachel kissed him again and hurried off to shower and change before his boss arrived.
Rachel took a deep breath and stroked on a little blush and some eyeshadow and liner. Pulling on her jeans she tucked in her New Directions teeshirt and entered the living room. She'd heard Puck letting Mac in and followed the sound of their voices to the kitchen. Puck was chuckling at something Mac had said and dishing up waffles, yogurt and fruit salad. "Hi Mac, thanks for coming," Rachel had to stand on her tiptoes to read Mac's cheek but it was worth it.
"It's a little early for me but Puck said you really needed some help," Mac tilted his head back his laconic voice concerned despite his drawl.
Rachel took a deep breath and began to explain about her trust and her dads and the apartment, "I don't want to lie to them. I can, but I really don't want to. I'm not ashamed of Noah and I don't see why I should have to act as if I am."
"So you want some advice on who could manage your trust for you, grow it if possible with minimal risk, and that way you can tell your pops that your new dancer boyfriend is the man they've been lyin' through their teeth about." Mac summed up the problem quite nicely.
"Yeah, ain't a problem for me, I don't give a shit about lyin' to my ma or not. The woman doesn't know dick about me," Puck explained. "But until Rae's money is taken care of I don't wanna tell her 'cause she'll go straight to LeRoy and Hiram."
"Right..." Mac's lazy drawl was thoughtful. "Well, my guy is pretty good. Keeps me in leather pants and my condo in spite of my bad habits," He frowned, "Do you have any information about your trust? What institution its with?"
"I have a couple of statements from when I was filling out the rental agreement," Rachel moved towards the desk in the living room and brought them back handing the papers to Mac.
"Huh," Mac frowned, "And this is only enough to pay part of your rent?" He shook his head, "That's odd, 'cause these folks, they don't handle little accounts Rachel." Puck's boss scanned the paperwork and looked at her. "You wanna lend me your laptop? I think I'll do a little diggin' around."
Puck took a deep breath and fought the urge to slam his fist into the wall, he couldn't believe what Rachel's dads had done. Mac had gone online and logged into some site only licensed stock brokers could get on and come back out with a shit load of information. Then he'd called his fund manager and asked him to find out everything he could regarding Rachel's trust. What he'd learned was both awesome and appalling.
Rachel had looked at Mac and thanked him softly for his help. She'd retreated to her bedroom and Puck had gone in to find her weeping as quietly as she could. Wrapping her in his arms he'd done his best to comfort her and he'd like to think he helped. But it was still hard to wrap his brain around this shit and they weren't his dads who'd been lying to him for most of his life.
"Well I took the liberty of making an' appointment for you and Rachel with my lawyer," Mac said after he got off the phone. "You'll need to be there by ten tomorrow morning. If you want I'll come along, I can explain the financial ins and outs pretty well at this point."
Rachel nodded silently and looked up at Puck. He sighed and sat down next to her, "It's up to you what happens baby. But what they're doin', that ain't what your Nana wanted."
"I just really can't understand why they lied to me about it, if they needed money I would have given it to them," Rachel whispered.
"You told me once your Daddy likes to have things under control baby," Puck reminded her. "I'll bet its more about control than dollar signs."
Mac nodded, "According to their stock portfolio your dads are doing very well, in spite of the recession."
Rachel nodded, "If you'll give me the address I'll keep the appointment."
"Why don't I meet you two here tomorrow morning at nine," Mac suggested his shrewd blue eyes studying her pale face and Puck's angry one. "Something tells me you really could use the help right now."
Puck nodded his agreement and looked over towards the door. The keys were being used so it was Kurt and Matt. The rest of the guys would arrive in another hour or so. Plenty of time to fill their friends in, "Rae, baby eat somethin' will ya?" He cajoled, his anger draining away at the lost look on her face. "I'll fill Matt an' Kurt in."
Rachel nodded and slowly began to consume some of the yogurt and fruit salad, her expression carefully neutral.
Puck grabbed Kurt by the arm and regarded him with an expression Kurt hadn't seen since his senior year when Puck had found Rachel crying at her locker. "I'mma make this fuckin' quick 'cause the guys'll be here soon. Kurt you know about Rae's trust fund. You can explain that to Matt later. But basically the thing is huge, as in she could buy real estate on Park avenue an' have plenty to spare. Her dads have been lyin' about it. They handle all the paperwork an' shit and the trust they been usin' for this apartment is a little sub type trust." He took a deep breath, "Apparently managers can charge a commission or percentage or whatever and since they've been dealing with it that's what her dads have been doing. It's about twice the normal amount but they ain't stealing from her. They just lied about how much was in the trust."
"So every time Rachel came home sighing over a pair of shoes she wanted but didn't get because it was shoes or groceries..." Kurt was fuming and Puck nodded, now Kurt was getting it.
"Yeah, she coulda bought out the shoe store for you an' her and not even dented her trust. Apparently her Nana Stein was loaded. She wasn't too thrilled with her boy for some reason so she left alla her estate to Rae. Rae got control of it when she turns twenty one but it was so small (she thought) that she never bothered, just let her dads take care of it." Puck scowled angrily, "There's something else, if Rachel marries a Jewish guy, even if its a guy that converted, she gets some old jewelry that's been in her family since they came over from France before world war two."
"That might explain why they didn't want you anywhere near her," Kurt shook his head. "Anybody could see you two were headed for the land of serious epic love."
Puck sighed, "Yeah well this all came out after Rae got off the phone with 'em this mornin'. They been lyin' to her for her entire life."
"How's she takin' it?" Matt asked quietly, "I'm imagining this on top of them lying to you both about each other..."
"Yeah," Puck nodded, "We gotta appointment with a lawyer in the mornin'."
"Then all we have to do is cheer Rachel up in the meantime," Kurt said with determination. "And the best way to do that is with music." He frowned, "Puck go get your guitar. Nothing makes Rachel feel better than your voice."
"All right," Puck didn't ask how Kurt knew he'd brought the guitar over to Rachel's apartment. When he brought the instrument back to the living room Kurt had dragged Rachel out of the kitchen and persuaded Mac to come and lounge with he and Matt on the long couch against the windowed wall. "Any requests?" He kept the grin on his face and looked at Rachel, "Love to sing with you baby. Got anythin' I'll know?"
"How about that John Mayer song we heard the other day?" Kurt suggested, "It's a few years old but still pretty good."
"It ain't exactly a duet but it could work," Puck nodded slowly and looked at Rachel, "An' it ain't like we don't know how it feels." He took a second to tune the guitar and began to play the opening chords, "You start us off baby, I'll take the second verse. We do the last of it together."
Rachel nodded and moved over to the table that held her keyboard and set her hands on the keys. The opening notes rang through the air and she looked at Puck with a smile as she began to sing, her voice filled with the longing and heartbreak she'd felt for more than five years without him in her life.
"When you're dreaming with a broken heart
The waking up is the hardest part
You roll outta bed and down on your knees
And for the moment you can hardly breathe
Wondering was he really here?
Is he standing in my room?
No he's not, 'cause he's gone, gone, gone, gone, gone..."
Puck strummed the guitar, gently underneath her voice and waited for the right timing before he began to sing, every bit of frustration and anger and pain he'd felt in his voice,
"When you're dreaming with a broken heart
The giving up is the hardest part
She takes you in with your crying eyes
Then all at once you have to say goodbye
Wondering could you stay my love?
Will you wake up by my side?
No she can't, 'cause she's gone, gone, gone, gone, gone..."
He looked at Rachel and she smiled and took a deep breath, and with that amazing chemistry they'd always had, the voices joined, baritone and soprano one over the other,
"Now do I have to fall asleep with roses in my hand
Do I have to fall asleep with roses in my hand?
Do I have to fall asleep with roses in my hand?
Do I have to fall asleep with roses in my hand?
Baby would you get them if I did?
No you won't, 'cause you're gone, gone, gone, gone, gone..."
Puck looked at Rachel and nodded and she shook her head, nodding towards him with a smile, so he took the first line, every ache of his heart in his voice.
"When you're dreaming with a broken heart,"
Rachel took the next line, her gorgeous voice aching and wistful,
"The waking up is the hardest part."
Mac and Matt erupted into applause and Rachel grinned and rose from the piano to hug her boyfriend, "I know you and Kurt did this so I'd feel better," She whispered kissing him affectionately. "Thank you." She turned in Puck's embrace to look at Kurt, "Well Diva? You up for a little Defying Gravity? Show Matt just how high that voice of yours can go?"
"Thought he'd already figured that out," Puck commented with a smirk and laughed as Kurt blushed.
"Go on babe, I'd like to hear this famous duet," Matt smiled at Kurt and Puck grinned. Then the apartment buzzer sounded and they were letting the rest of the guys up so everyone got to hear Rachel and Kurt sing.
Puck groaned as he strained against the barbell and heaved it up and onto the stand. The Giants game had been the last normal he and Rachel had for a while. The next day they were at a lawyers, the day after she'd had to go in and help cast for Roger. The lawyers had eaten into a lot of her time and she'd spent a lot of time at the theatre. Of course she'd taken him by the theatre and introduced him to her director and the other actors that had been cast. When they'd asked what he did Rachel had proudly grinned at him. "He's an exotic dancer," She had been so damn proud of him it was like she didn't even realize what she was saying. "And he works tonight. You should come with me and see his act. Noah's one of the best dancers I've seen in years."
"You're comin' to the club?" Puck had chuckled, "Baby you know what's gonna happen durin' the last act."
"Oh yes," Rachel grinned, "Method acting."
"Method?" The director had blinked at her, "You actually..."
Puck grinned, "You made the right choice with her for Mimi, straight women were stuffin' tens in her stockin's she was so fuckin' good." He kissed her temple, "Just...do me a favor an' talk with Mac about a costume or somethin'?"
"Oh I have something appropriate Noah, don't worry," Rachel sighed. "With everything that's been going on, I think it'll be relaxing to perform, you know?"
"Well Mac'll be thrilled, specially since he's up tonight too," Puck smiled and shrugged. "You folks are welcome." He pulled a few flyers out of his cargo pockets and handed them to the director. "You pass these out, ya'll get in at a reduced rate."
"Cool," One of the actresses, the one who played Maureen grinned, "I haven't been to a good strip club in forever."
Puck shook his head as he hit the showers, Rachel couldn't come to the club every night, but when she did it was always a blast. The folks from her show had been awesome, some of the guys had given Joe and Matt more money than the women.
All in all it had been a month since he and Rachel had gotten together, a month of crazy and worry and lying to his mother and her dads. And lawyers and managers and finally her trust was under her control and someone Mac had recommended managing it for her. When she'd gotten access to the full amount of funds at her disposal Rachel had simply looked at Puck and asked if he wanted to go to school full time. He'd laughed and said he wouldn't mind but he couldn't leave Mac in a lurch. And he liked paying his own way. She'd grinned and said she understood. Then she tilted her head and asked if she paid for school, and books would he go full time and work for Mac at night?
So he'd sat down and talked with Mac seriously about what he wanted to do with his life and his goals for owning a club of his own someday, a place for live music and dancing with a night for kids to come without drinking. The man had been a little surprised but not much and had offered to let Puck work the earlier shifts, the ones that ended before midnight so he could get home at a decent hour. He'd still have Sunday's off and one night of the week and he could study between numbers if he wanted. Mac was more interested in having him train some of the newer guys, give them the benefit of his experience.
And now he had two hours before Rachel would be back at her apartment, two hours in which he was going to take all the money he'd saved and find her a ring. He'd waited more than five years for her, he wanted a ring on her finger.
Rachel looked at Puck curiously, "Noah are you all right baby?"
"I'm fine Rae," Puck grinned a bit nervously. He took her hand and ran his finger over her knuckles, "You know I love you right baby?" He was so damn nervous it was ridiculous, she loved him, she was always talking about their future. She believed in him so much she was offering to pay for school. She was talking about buying a bigger place and letting Kurt and Matt have this one if they liked.
"Noah, of course I do," Rachel took her hand in his, "What's wrong? Is your mom all right? Is it Bekah? Did something happen?"
"Nah," Puck shook his head, "I got spies in Lima, Bekah an' my mom are fine." He looked at her solemnly, "Baby, you're always talkin' about the future, our future. We're always sayin' how we'll do this or that, how we're gonna go eat at La Cirque when you win your first Tony an' how our club is gonna be awesome. How someday my music's gonna be on the radio."
"I...am I pressuring you? Am I going to fast? Do you not want to move in with me, you don't have to, I just...I really miss you when you aren't with me," Rachel's babble was five times faster than normal and Puck groaned and kissed her gently to shut her up.
"You aren't pressuring me Rae. I wanna pressure you a bit is all, wasn't sure if you'd mind or not," He kissed her again, brushing his lips over hers until she relaxed. "I love you baby, and I want to marry you." Puck reached into his pocket and pulled out the box he'd gone to get earlier. "Kurt went with me last week an' helped me pick it out. Matt came along for moral support."
He put the box on the table and kept one hand on it, "Deal is though, you gotta agree before you see the ring baby," He grinned at her teasingly. "Package deal, you want the ring you gotta agree to marry me."
Rachel nodded still staring at him, her eyes had flickered briefly to the pale blue ring box but she'd fixed her gaze on him as if she wasn't sure this was really happening. "Yes," She nodded, "God yes, Noah of course I'll marry you."
"Good," Puck leaned forward and kissed her, putting everything he felt for her into the kiss. Then when she was heavy lidded and dizzy with lust he grinned and pushed the box towards her. She looked at him with a wide smile that was still tilted with lust as she opened the box, her fingers trembling.
"Oh Noah, it's beautiful," Rachel looked down at the ring. It was certainly lovely, a gorgeous diamond solitaire with a pear shaped stone on either side. "But this must have cost you a fortune."
"Well I figure now that you've got alla your money, and you're pretty much paying for my education I could splurge on a ring for you," Puck grinned. "I was just kiddin' though, if you don't like it we can go and get it exchanged."
"No," Rachel snatched the box away from him, "No, I love it. This is my ring."
"All right then," Puck grinned. "Why don't you put it on," His suggestion was met with a grin as she slid it onto her ring finger. "You make that ring look perfect baby," He pressed another kiss to her lips.
"And now I'm going to stop lying to my dads," Rachel smiled in pleasure. "Unless you'd rather we flew down and gave them the news in person?"
"Uh, hell to the no, as Mercedes would say," Puck shook his head. "Why don't you call them and put them on speaker. We could conference call my mom and Bekah in if you like."
"I think that's a very good idea," Rachel smirked. "Oh, remind me to get a fund for Bekah's college started. I doubt your mother will have the money."
"You got it," Puck looked up as Kurt entered the apartment with Matt on his heels. "Hey we were just about to call our parents and tell 'em the good news. Wanna hear an explosion long distance?"
Kurt's laugh was wicked and Puck looked at Matt. The older stripper nodded, "I remember how miserable you were every time one of those letters came back."
"Rae was thinkin' we could fly down there, but I wasn't sure," Puck grinned. "What do you two think?"
"I'd love for Matt to meet my parents," Kurt said wistfully. "How much do you think it would cost?"
"Four first class tickets for Ohio," Rachel tilted her head and picked up her phone tapping on it and grinning. "I can definitely afford it."
Kurt grinned, "Now what Finn will say about this I have no idea."
Rachel shrugged, "We all just need to arrange some time off from work. We won't be able to fly directly into Lima, the nearest major airport is Cincinnati. We could hire a service to drive us from there, we could rest on the way there and back that way."
"Lets do it then," Puck grinned. "You call your dads, an' I'll call my mom. I'll tell her I'm in town, passing through on my way to elsewhere. Ask if she'll meet me at Breadstix."
"And I'll do the same thing with my dads. I'll just say I missed them too much to stay away," Rachel chuckled and Kurt went to get the calendar so they could plot out the days.
Rachel slid her rings onto her finger and looked up at Noah as he entered the room. "Almost ready," He asked with a smile.
"Just putting my earrings on," She picked up the emerald chandelier earrings, sliding them into her ears and rose from her seat before the vanity. "I'm nervous," She confessed. "Do you think I should be nervous?"
"You got the perfect right to be. If you win you hafta make a speech off the cuff, I don't think your rehearsed speech you've practiced since you were six will do the trick," Puck chuckled.
"No that would hardly be appropriate, considering it gave my dads top billing," Rachel frowned remembering her parents reaction to seeing her with 'that delinquent Puckerman boy'. The only bright spot had been seeing Bekah. Puck had slipped his sister a prepaid phone with his number programmed in so they could talk. The entire evening had been a disaster though, her dads had made a huge scene, Puck's mother had made such a shrieking sound that Rachel had actually winced.
Rachel had told them how she'd found Puck again, how finding him was the miracle that brought her back to her faith. And she could forgive them the deceit about her trust fund but she couldn't forgive them for lying to her about Puck for more than five years. She'd been miserable for the entire time she'd been without him in her life and she couldn't forgive them for causing her such pain. For causing Puck such pain. She and Puck no longer spoke to their parents.
Setting the unpleasant memory aside she touched the elegant twist into which her hair had been pulled. "I look all right?"
"You look great baby," Puck nodded solemnly.
Rachel shook her head and picked up her purse, "Thank you." She took a deep breath. "Let's do this," She tucked her hand into his arm and let him lead her from their room and out of the condo.
Puck couldn't stop grinning, couldn't stop clapping. Rachel had won. She'd won her first Tony. Now she was about to make her speech.
"Wow, thanks," Rachel grinned as she spoke into the mike. "Anyone who knows me well, knows I've been practicing a speech for this moment since I was six years old." There was a roar of laughter and she giggled along with her audience, "I know, pretty confident huh?" She shrugged and her smile grew more solemn as she looked at the award in her hand. "But things change, and the speech I'd been practicing for the majority of my life isn't appropriate." She found Puck in the crowd and looked directly at him. "There are many people to whom I owe this success, and I will thank all of them personally. If they want public thanks I'll buy a page in the Times." There was another round of laughter and she smiled briefly before continuing, "If there's anything I've learned since leaving school its that you can't control what other people will do, who they will love, how they'll dream. But you can choose your own behavior, your own reactions, you can even chose your family." She looked down at the Tony in her hand, "I almost didn't meet my husband. I almost didn't have my daughter. And I almost spent the rest of my life without a love that is more necessary than breathing." She smiled, "Without him I would not be up here tonight." She took a deep breath visibly holding back tears, "So this really belongs to him, Noah, you are my past, present and future. You are my dearest love, my husband and my best friend. I'm so glad and grateful to have you in my life. We did it baby," She looked at the camera, "And for all my guys, thank you for the constant support. And someone stop watching this show long enough to put Rifka to bed please."
There was another chorus of laughter and Rachel smiled, "Thank you all so much. I'm so proud to be considered an actress worthy of your company. Proud, humbled and infinitely grateful for the blessings I've been given. And doubly grateful for being able to recognize them when they arrived, thank you again."
Puck sat among Tony and Oscar and Golden Globe winners and grinned, he'd taken something Kurt said to heart a long time ago, 'it doesn't matter what you call me, its what I answer to that counts'." He wasn't a Lima loser to the people who mattered to him. He was a successful business man and emerging composer and Rachel Barbra Berry's husband. Bowing his head he reminded himself to attend Synagogue this weekend and uttered his own thanks, echoing Rachel's gratitude for Kurt dragging Rachel to the club, for the both of them getting past their anger with each other to talk. He'd read every letter Rachel had ever sent him, he knew she'd done the same. He looked up as everyone around him clapped and realized he'd been thinking about Rachel for almost half an hour. Then she was beside him, taking her seat again, "Thank you Rachel." Puck smiled at her adoringly. "Thanks for being my miracle."
Author's Note: Well we have come to the end. I know my portrayal of Hiram and LeRoy is not the nicest but I have some real life experience with the things that people do to the ones they claim to love, all in the name of protecting them, in the name of that love.
This was supposed to be a very quick one shot. Obviously it grew a plot and angst and suddenly I was still writing at five in the morning. I hope you'll all read and review. The club is based very loosely on the one in Magic Mike so I used the actors names rather than the ones from the movie to make it more mine. I referenced that movie for the dances and the title but I don't consider this to be a true crossover.