Do I Presume Too Much
This may be presumptuous, but in the wake of my phone call to your mother, I have determined that letter writing will have to do. She has told me you're allowed one phone call and one visit per week, and that visits are family only. I unfortunately missed this week's phone call but she has promised that unless you say otherwise, I might be present...'
Rachel stopped writing and considered again just how awful Puck must be feeling. They'd come off the high of a great performance only to have Quinn go into labor. After she'd given birth the club found out they'd lost to Vocal Adrenaline and Aural Intensity. The only bright spot was that they had another year of Glee. Sue had shown them some mercy and intervened with Principal Figgins.
But they'd had to get through the rest of the year first. And the summer. And despite Finn's uneasiness Rachel couldn't bring herself to simply abandon Puck. Quinn had returned to school as if she'd never been pregnant, wintry and distant as ever, as if she'd never broken Noah's heart. But according to the majority of the school Noah Puckerman didn't have a heart. He had a sex drive but not a heart.
Rachel shook her head at the thought, it wasn't as if she could deny that Puck was a sexual creature. He'd been trying to fuck his way through the upperclassman girls during the remainder of the year when he was drinking himself deaf, dumb and blind. More than once she'd gone to get him somewhere when he was drunk in the last few weeks of the school year and over the summer as well.
He was actually really nice to her, even when he was falling down drunk. He always called her Rachel. And he always said how hot or pretty she looked. And he'd run one of those guitarists fingers down her nose and kiss the tip of it. He was never so crass that she was embarrassed though she did have an amazing list of what he found appealing about her. Puck never mentioned it when he was sober so she guessed he didn't remember a lot of what he said to her.
She had done her best to keep him company during the summer, inviting him to swim at her pool on Sundays or Saturdays. Sometimes he'd taken her up on it but mostly he worked at his own business and at Hummel's garage. She wasn't sure how much money he'd managed to save since he was getting as drunk as he could every other night of the week. She'd asked him one time, why he didn't just tell her to go away, or to shut up.
He'd just looked at her and smiled, "Nah. You're my friend Rache. Tellin' ya to go 'way be sorta stupid when I like havin' ya around. You're probably my best friend ya know?"
Puck had been drunk of course. But that was par for the course these days. He'd been plastered two days before school had started, she'd been very worried for his health and had brought him home with her and made him drink water and the sports drinks she kept for him. He hadn't been sick but even when he'd started to sober up he'd been very drunk.
"Beautifulest girl," His hand had cupped her face as if she was fragile. His eyes had been bleary but the hazel was warm and green as he looked at her. "How'd you get so beautiful baby? Too pretty to touch."
Rachel had just smiled at him, "I've always been like this Noah."
"No," He'd shaken his head and leaned closer to her. "No, you got more beautiful this summer. Like, like... pretty only multiplied by two and two and two more."
"You mean cubed?" Rachel had grinned at him and he'd nodded.
"Yeah," Puck leaned closer. "I'm bein'...real stupid aren't I?" He asked her in a nearly sober voice. "I'm not smart like you Rache."
"You're hurting Noah. I know that," She'd patted his knee a bit gingerly. The one thing Puck wasn't, was shy about his body. and the minute she'd dragged him down to her basement he'd pulled off his shirt so he could sprawl on the couch in comfort. So he basically was wearing a pair of cargo shorts that kept dipping perilously low on his hipbones and she hoped undergarments beneath them. Although, knowing what she did of her friend chances were fifty fifty that he was going 'commando'. His knee was the only thing she felt safe patting. Anything else was far too...warm. Half naked Noah Puckerman was very hard on her concentration.
"But if I was smart, maybe Quinn wouldn't a given Beth away," Puck said suddenly. "Or if I had money. I paid the bills, alla the doctor bills an' the hospital... her mom's insurance got most of it but I paid for the deductible and anything else she wanted. But Quinn still... she still thinks I'm dirt. Nothin' but a Lima Loser an' its all I'll ever be.
"You are not," Rachel snapped the words out. "You could never be a Lima Loser Noah Puckerman. You're going to be somebody. Besides me, you're the only person I know who actually has a chance of being... better."
"Nah," Puck had shaken his head and his thumb had stroked over her cheek. His face had grown intent as he'd rubbed his thumb on her cheekbone, as if he was really thinking about how her skin felt before he'd continued talking. "Nah, I'm gonna end up in jail, or dead before I'm twenty five. I'm nothin' Rache. Really got no business bein' 'round you baby. You're gonna be a big star on Broadway."
"You are not going to end up dead or in jail. I won't let you," Rachel remembered she'd been furious. "You're my best friend Noah Puckerman. And you're not allowed to die or go to jail."
"Well if you say so," He'd grinned in his cheerfully tipsy way. "Pretty sure I'm a lost cause though baby."
"No you're not," She'd shaken her head irritated that he was so blasé about it. "You're going to do well in school this year. I'm going to help you. You're going to meet a great girl who'll fall head over heels in love with you and you're going to be on a winning football team. Scouts are going to come and see you play and you'll get a scholarship."
"Think I could make it to New York?" Puck had asked.
"I know you could," She'd nodded fervently and he'd grinned and leaned forward until his forehead was resting against hers.
"Nice to have you believe in me baby," He'd muttered and kissed her, a hot open mouthed kiss, his tongue and lips devouring her mouth. It had been shocking and utterly hot. She'd been frozen under his lips, unable to move, the heat of his mouth so intense she'd been surprised into stillness. He hadn't seemed to mind, his mouth had gentled and sipped until she'd moaned into him.
Puck had pulled her into his lap, wrapped her hair around his hand and held her mouth to his, kissing and nibbling at her lips and tongue. It had been wrong, very wrong, she was dating Finn, in love with Finn but she'd always had a weakness for Noah. For her friend who needed her more than anyone knew. And then he'd shuddered and sighed and his lips had left hers. He'd smiled up at her, still very drunk, "Sorry baby, just couldn't resist your mouth. Love your mouth Rache."
Before she could regain the power of speech he'd gone to sleep. "Oh Noah, what am I going to do with you?" She whispered with a sigh.
He hadn't remembered but that wasn't surprising. What had been surprising was how quiet he'd been in school when it began. He hadn't caused a lot of trouble, had only gotten in one fight, but she knew he was still drinking constantly. And then he'd texted her one weekend and she'd known he'd be blind drunk because this was the anniversary of him having sex with Quinn. Beth had been conceived a year ago.
Rachel went to his house but he wasn't there. She'd called everyone from Glee, gone past every football players house and still hadn't found him. She'd called Mrs. Puckerman and apologized for bothering her at work, but the woman had no idea where Puck was. She'd reminded Puck's mom of the anniversary and the woman had sighed. Rachel had ended up agreeing to watch Rebekah until Puck or Mrs. Puckerman got home.
The following week she'd gone by the house every day but Mrs. Puckerman hadn't had time to say much more than that Puck had done something truly stupid. Rachel had persisted enough that finally Esther Puckerman had told her what Puck had done. Rachel had just sighed and asked if Mrs. Puckerman had a lawyer for Puck yet.
Her Daddy had to be convinced but eventually he'd agreed to help her friend. She'd had to explain to him about Noah, about how kind he was to her, how he'd defended her and given up football, even taken slushies for her. He hadn't been completely convinced until she'd explained about how he was the only one at school who'd never asked her to change, who liked her the way she was. Daddy had called Esther Puckerman then, and asked if she needed a lawyer.
So now she was writing Noah a letter in the hopes that he'd understand that she had no intention of abandoning him. She'd talked to Mr. Schuester and asked about Puck in the hopes of shaming the man into doing something. But the choir director had just sighed and told her what had happened and that Puck had to work though his own problems.
She didn't intend to ever tell Noah that, he looked up to Mr. Schuester. Mr. Schue was one of the few teachers who hadn't treated him like dirt last year. But Mr. Schuester was abandoning Noah just like the rest of Glee club. Finn had just shrugged when she'd told him and made some remark about Puck being stupid enough to try and steal an ATM.
The only one who had any sympathy for Puck was Artie, but he was overwhelmed with coursework. She wasn't making it easier either. She'd been baking all weekend and this week she'd begin bribing and trading sweets for notes and assignments so Puck could do his schoolwork in Juvie. Some of the classes he was in she'd taken already. And some she was in with him so she could share her notes. Textbooks were easy. Used copies weren't very expensive after all.
Coach Beiste had certainly seemed to appreciate the cookies, though she was a bit confused, "Rachel right?" She asked as Rachel knocked on her door.
"Yes ma'am," Rachel slipped inside holding the plate of cookies. "Rachel Berry."
"What can I do for you Rachel?" Coach Beiste was clearly puzzled now.
"Noah Puckerman," Rachel said promptly handing the curly haired woman the plate of cookies. "When he gets out of Juvie, will he still be able to play football?"
"I dunno, his grades'll be trashed if he misses all that classwork," Shannon Beiste was eyeing her as if Rachel had two heads. "Extracurriculars are only available to a C plus average and above."
"But if he can keep his grades up," Rachel asked. "That's your only concern?"
"I'm not sure I want someone who's going to cause that much trouble…" The coach began with a frown and Rachel interrupted.
"Noah wouldn't," She shook her head. "He's had… you don't understand what he's been through. He would never have done something that stupid if he hadn't been hurting so badly. And everyone just ignored it all last year and all summer."
"All right, explain," The woman had looked Rachel in the eye. "If you want him to have football when he gets out, you'd better make a great case for it."
And she had. She'd explained everything, about Noah's life, his abusive father, overworked mother, his hero worshiping baby sister and how much stress he was under even before Quinn's pregnancy. She'd told Shannon Beiste about Quinn's lies and how she hadn't made anything better with the big reveal. And how Noah was convinced he was a Lima Loser and destined to be stuck in this awful town, dead or in jail before he was twenty-five. "I can't let that happen to him Coach. He's always… even when he was sort of a jerk, I knew I could count on him."
"He was a bully and slushying you but you could count on him?" The football coach had been incredulous.
"Yes." Rachel gave her a firm nod, "Other boys pushed me, slammed me into lockers, they'd try to grab at me. If Noah saw that he'd beat them down. He'd never let anyone actually hurt me Coach. He's been protecting me from Jacob Ben Israel for years. He might have thrown slushies on me at the beginning of last year, but he'd never do that since someone threw one at him. He knows how it feels now. But even then… he kept the rest of the football team from beating up on Kurt. Throwing someone in a dumpster might be humiliating but it's better than a hospital trip."
It had taken talking and explaining until Rachel thought she would go hoarse but step one of her plan was accomplished, Noah could play football when he came back, if his grades stayed up.
The rest of the teachers hadn't been as hard of a sell, though a lot of them were reluctant to accept work so very late and give it a passing grade. Rachel had finally managed to get Principal Figgins on board with the compromise of the Juvenile center time stamping Puck's assignments. The teachers would give Puck two days for the assignments to arrive in the mail and if he didn't have them done by the extended due date then the work would be graded on the regular student scale. Rachel had actually been surprised that Principal Figgins had supported her. When she'd said as much the diminutive Indian man had smiled slightly.
"Ms. Berry, in your two years at McKinley you have threatened me with the ACLU more times than I can count. This is the first time you have attempted to do something on your own and it is both a selfless and worthwhile pursuit," The man's eyes had twinkled at her. "I do not approve of Mr. Puckerman's behavior but I wish to believe he can improve. I will speak to the teachers. But a few of your famous cookies would not go amiss in sweetening the deal for them."
She'd given him the biggest smile she had and assured him she'd begin baking immediately. The logistics of her plan had been ironed out and Figgins had even offered to help her find students who could take notes in the classes she didn't have. She could use the copier in his secretary's office and send the assignments to Puck every day. He would instruct his secretary to go to the post office daily. Rachel still had to pay for the stamps and do all the work herself but since she didn't have a car Figgins would take over the mailing of the letters.
"Artie please," Rachel pleaded.
"Why are you so wound up about this Rachel?" Finn was looking at her like she'd gone crazy.
"Because Puck is my friend and he's supposed to be yours," Rachel snapped at her boyfriend. "And he's done more to keep the bullying from getting out of hand than you have." She looked at Artie, "Or did you think that locking you in a portapotty was the jocks first idea? They wanted to roll you down the bleacher steps."
Artie blanched and Rachel nodded at him, "So can you please find your notes from algebra last year? He's going to need help. He's good at math but algebra is all…messy unless its explained right." And Artie had agreed.
You simply won't believe what happened today. Finn actually talked Kurt into breaking his duet with Sam ostensibly to keep Sam from being bullied. Of course then poor Kurt was left by himself. I wish he'd asked me, we wouldn't have won because everyone hates me but at least he wouldn't be by himself. Of course, being Kurt he dueted with himself, singing Le Jazz Hot from Victor/Victoria. He was of course amazing but I'm still terribly disappointed in Finn.
We also have a plan to keep morale up in Glee…'
Rachel sighed as she considered what else to write, that she missed him terribly? That she was honestly scared for Kurt. She had thought of talking to David Karofsky herself but telling the boy that she knew he was gay and that her dads would be happy to talk to him about it probably would not help Kurt. Daddy had been honest with her about the potential damage, that David might really hurt Kurt, or himself and he had to come to accept himself on his own. No one else could do it for him.
She really didn't understand why more people didn't see it. When David wasn't trying to push Kurt around he looked at him as if Kurt was a meal, and not in the bad butcher shop Sweeny Todd way. No one else seemed to see it. Really it was ridiculous how blind people could be. Though Kurt thinking Sam was gay was just as stupid. What was it with Kurt and getting crushes on people who had no hope of returning his feelings romantically? She at least had crushes on people who were heterosexual.
Finn. He'd said he would write to Puck but she could tell he hadn't. Every time she asked him about it he made an excuse or said yeah he was working on it. He was content to ignore his friend until Puck came back to school. How could he keep saying that Puck was his best friend but ignore him for so long? What would happen to them when she went to New York? Would Finn come with her? Or would he be the same way? It seemed to be out of sight out of mind with him.
Rachel put her pen back to paper and continued to tell Puck all about the crazy plan and everything else that was happening. She'd been using her lunch hours to write to Noah so she'd have a letter a day to send him along with the notes and assignments. It didn't seem right that he be just cut off from everyone at school.
You're going to laugh so hard when you read this. Mr. Schuester got the brilliant (not really) idea that we should do The Rocky Horror Picture Show as the school play in order to make money for glee club. Apart from the blatantly sexual overtones of the play, which are sure to have the school board and Figgins going crazy, we have problems with the boys and their parts.
Santana keeps laughing about Finn appearing on stage in his underwear, which is silly because it won't be his, I'm sure we'll find some very concealing shorts that only appear to look like underwear. And poor Sam has to wear skin tight gold foil shorts. He seems terribly self-conscious though I don't see why, I'm sure his body mass index is adequately proportionate.
I must admit that we truly could use a dose of your Jewish hotness on this play. You've never been shy about displaying your 'guns' and I'm sure you wouldn't hold your hands in front of yourself the way Finn does, should you…'
Rachel had to stop and take a deep breath as she remembered the day she'd gone over to Noah's house and he'd answered the door in just a towel. He'd been damp still, water glistening in his hair, all tanned olive skin and mouthwatering flesh, nipple ring gleaming on his chest. It had been all she could do to stop herself reaching out and pressing her palm over his heart. He'd looked exquisite, like Michelangelo's David, muscles bulging and a wide grin on his lips. It had been the first time she'd seen so much of a boy and truthfully she wondered sometimes if she wasn't more than a little spoiled by it.
Noah was absolutely beautiful and he simply oozed sex appeal. She knew objectively that part of it was simply confidence and experience, but even without it, when they'd been in fifth grade he'd had something, some quality that made him more desirable than any other boy. She'd heard Santana talking once and the Latina girl had guessed it was because he didn't care what anyone thought. He didn't ask girls out or futz around and hope they liked him. He'd just ignored them as unimportant and let them do the chasing and giggling.
Rachel had been able to tell that something had changed in seventh grade, when Puck had come to school on a Monday and his eyes had changed. He had a new appreciation for every female he came across and that included teachers and even her. Junior high had been when their friendship had deteriorated into a cold war. She hadn't been cool by the standards of the popular girls and some of the unpopular ones hadn't liked her because of her dads or her clothes. Puck had gotten more into sports than guitar and he'd gotten more popular. Instead of the two of them sticking together against all the other Gentiles they'd drifted apart.
And then highschool and the slushies and everyone had declared her uncool, and a freak and the girls had come up with ever more creative ways to disparage her femininity. She'd almost cried the first time Puck had thrown a slushy at her though. He'd been urged on by the older players and the Cheerios and he'd finally done it though she could at least credit him with not trying to destroy her books or homework. And slushies had been the only thing he'd ever done to her.
He'd looked at her and had obviously been really miserable afterwards. And he'd come by her house and she'd just looked at him, "Noah, its clear that your popularity means a lot to you. More than whatever was left of our friendship. Please don't be a hypocrite and tell me you're sorry now, when we both know that it'll happen again."
"Rache I—" He hadn't known what to say or how to say it and she'd just sighed.
"It's all right. I really should have known better. You need your friends and football if you're ever going to get out of this town," She'd shrugged. "We were lucky you made it six months into freshman year without having to do this."
"But I don't—"
"I know you don't like it. And I know you wouldn't ever hurt me physically Noah," She'd reassured him. "But until you're brave enough to not care about what they think, we can't be friends. Not like we were. If you ever truly want me around again…then you know where I am. But we both know that this won't work without a clean break."
He'd looked awful, his beautiful hazel eyes were dark with misery and he'd taken a deep breath and nodded. She'd known he understood, knew that he was bracing himself, "I promise Rache, slushies are it. I won't ever hurt you or throw you in a dumpster and I won't let anyone else do it either. Couldn't stand it if you got hurt. All the stuff they wanted me to do…this was the only one that… that I could figure—"
"That would hurt the least," She'd nodded. "I know. It's all right. Go home Noah."
"They're talking about…makin' it a daily thing," He warned her. "Won't always be me. Wear old clothes and bring extras. And somethin' to cover up your books or they'll get trashed."
She'd appreciated the warning and thus had begun her truly odd wardrobe. Everything she wore was something that could be washed and the stains would come out. Nothing was expensive, nothing was special to her. Even on picture day she wore something disposable.
And then the unthinkable had happened. Noah Puckerman had asked her out and they'd dated for a week. He'd gotten slushied and given up football for her and they'd started to be friends again. Plus the kissing, she really couldn't place enough emphasis on the kissing. Noah Puckerman's mouth should be illegal. Or at least come with some sort mature audiences only warning.
She shook herself out of her thoughts and began to write again. They were friends again, after at least three lost years they were friends and she had Noah back. That was the important thing.
This will be the last letter you receive from me. If I write tomorrow the amount of time it takes for the letter to arrive will effectively mean any further communication will arrive after you've already been released. I wanted to tell you that so you didn't think I'd suddenly begun ignoring you.
Rest assured that my time will not be wasted. Instead of writing to you in these, the final three days of your incarceration, I will be with your mother and at school, preparing for your arrival home. I'm told that you won't be returning to school until the following Monday which I can only take to mean that you will need some time to adjust.
I think this is the wisest course of action you could take, knowing your tender heart and sensitive nature as I do…'
He was right to take a little time, to get used to a world outside of concrete walls and guards, Rachel thought to herself. No one ever gave Puck credit for over sensitivity but if he was the uncaring brute more than half the school painted him as he wouldn't have been so upset that he ended up in Juvie in the first place. Even Esther really hadn't understood how upset Puck had been over losing Beth. But she'd been working like crazy, trying to pay the bills and Puck had been able to hide the drinking and the fighting.
Rachel began another list, writing down all the things she and Puck would need to do before he came back to McKinley. He had an English Lit paper due at the end of next week and he'd told her during the last phone call that it was nearly done. It was supposed to count for twenty percent of their grade so he'd asked if she would look it over before he typed it up. Any other homework she'd need to check for him and she needed to talk with him about the community service he had to do as well.
The most difficult thing would be not throwing herself at him when she saw him and not hanging all over him at school because she was so glad he was back. He was a BAMF as Puck was fond of saying and it would not help his reputation if the school theatre freak was draped over his arm. She had to admit though, something about Noah…even when he was in Puck mode, there was something about him that just drew her.
She was in love with Finn, but he'd been very distant lately since she'd refused to have sex with him, or even let him put his hand below her waist. She'd offered to satisfy him orally and that had worked for a while but all he did was complain lately about how much of a tease she was. She sighed and put away her list.
Things weren't right between she and Finn. He was irritated that she spent so much time helping Puck but that was only part of it. He wanted her at every football game, right where he could see her, but he'd flat out refused to show up for her dance recital on Sunday afternoon. There had been several after game parties and when she'd asked if he wanted to go he'd said he was tired and he was just going to sleep. But she'd heard from Brittany that Finn had been at those parties. He just hadn't wanted to go with her.
She'd was still pretty isolated within Glee, even with Kurt and Mercedes being friendlier. The problem was they were both so fickle. They'd like her one day, but the next week they could decide not to talk to her. She was well aware of the fact that she was irritating thank you very much, but she could only shut up for so long before she had to say something. And she'd been trying to phrase things more nicely and say something good along with the bad but no one ever seemed to hear the good.
Mr. Schuester wasn't listening to her either, the idiocy with the school play was the perfect example. She'd offered to help with choral arrangements, even ones where she didn't have a solo but he wasn't interested. Really without Puck at school it seemed like no one was interested in hearing anything she said. Puck hadn't before but after they'd dated, he'd at least given her the benefit of the doubt.
Three more days, and then she'd see him. Rachel grinned. She and Esther had been working on his surprise.
Rachel held Bekah's hand and hoped it would keep both of them from bouncing up and down with excitement. They'd gotten doctor's passes and were lined up right beside Esther to wait for Puck to get out of Juvenile Hall. He was getting released first thing in the morning, Rachel suspected it was so the facility wouldn't have to feed anyone they let out that day.
And then the door opened, a few tough looking boys came out, moving through the parking lot towards other cars, one to the bus stop nearby and then Puck exited the hall. He looked… "He looks thin," Rachel whispered to Esther. "He's lost weight."
"We'll feed him up," Esther said gently. "Just smile for him now." Rachel nodded and watched as Puck walked as fast as he could without running. He unceremoniously dumped his crate of books on the hood of the car and grabbed his mother in a hug so tight Esther strained to breath. Bekah was next, squeaking in her happiness and kissing her big brother as he laughed and squeezed her tight.
And then it was her turn and it was all she could do to not wrap her arms around his neck and kiss him she was so happy to see those hazel eyes of his. But Puck wrapped her up in a huge hug, pulling her body up to his and burying his face in her hair. "So Bekah and I are a good surprise?" She asked laughing and squeezing back.
Apparently he hadn't quite heard the question, and Rachel mourned the loss of contact as Puck let her slide down his body until her feet touched the ground. He kept his hands on her waist though, drawing her close, "What's that angel?"
Rachel couldn't help smiling up at him, "I was asking if Bekah and I were a good surprise?"
He surprised her by tucking a lock of her hair behind her ear, his fingers tender and careful with her even though his voice was rough with whatever he was feeling, "Best damn surprise I've gotten in my life," Puck's fingers lingered on her hair and Rachel resisted the temptation to turn her face so his hand would cup her cheek. "How'd you two swing this?"
"Daddy told Figgins that I had a doctor's appointment. And your mom told Becca's homeroom teacher the same thing. We have to go to our third classes but we're all yours until ten thirty," Rachel smiled happily. She might have to go to school later but she could have some time with Puck and his family. "I'm taking all of you for pancakes." She informed Esther and hoped the older woman understood that refusal wasn't an option. "It's my treat because you've been so nice about me horning in on your family phone calls."
Puck nodded his understanding and stepped away from her to grab the crate of books. Rachel nearly flinched she felt so bereft of contact with him and covered it by turning to wrap an arm around Bekah's shoulders. "Ma, if you'll open the trunk I'll put these away," Puck's voice wasn't quite choked but he was obviously exerting a lot of control over his voice to stay stoic.
"Put your coat on first," Mrs. Puckerman grabbed it from the front seat and Rachel watched as he pulled it on. It was obviously a little tight in the shoulders, and loose in the waist like his jeans and shirt. She could tell from the creases on his belt buckle that he'd had to tighten it more than before he went into Juvie. He'd gotten thinner but he'd put on muscle, she hoped it was because he'd wanted to and not out of the need to defend himself.
The books were put in the trunk, and as she watched Puck very carefully pulled something out of the crate and zipped it into the inside pocket of his jacket. Something important to him most likely. Rachel hoped he'd tell her someday what it was. "Shotgun," Bekah shouted and climbed into the car and Rachel couldn't help giggling.
"Bekah, your brother—" Esther started to argue the point regardless of the long held tradition but Puck stopped her with a shake of his head.
"I don' mind Ma," His voice was quiet, reflective almost and Rachel wondered again just how awful Juvie had been. "I'll sit in the back with Rache. It's cool." Then he looked at her and grinned in his old roguish fashion, "How 'bout it Berry? You gotta fill me in on the last week at McKinley. I been sufferin' without alla your letters and the news."
Rachel nodded and began to tell him about Jacob Ben Israel's latest stupid stunt. It wasn't a long story and when she was done telling it she noticed Puck was checking to be sure whatever was in his pocket had stayed there. She was staring, she knew she was staring but she hadn't ever felt so glad to see someone in her life, not since she was eleven and waiting in an emergency room for her Dad to come after the accident.
Puck was looking at her, his eyes warm and she hoped he wasn't going to tease her about staring or wanting his body because she really wasn't in any shape to deny it. She wasn't ever going to lose that place in her heart for Noah. That little boy she'd know in preschool that she'd lost for three long years was back and she wasn't ever going to lose him again. But apparently Puck was thinking the same thing she was, "You know you're the best friend I got right?" He admitted in a gentle voice. "Wasn't anybody else except Coach even bothered to try and contact me. Once Coach talked to you she sent me letters with plays and the run downs of the game. But she was the only one besides you from McKinley who bothered."
"I was sure that Mr. Schue…" Rachel sighed slightly as she recalled Mr. Schuester's indifference to Noah's fate and his concentration on Finn and Ms. Pillsbury. "He does tend to have tunnel vision," She had to admit. "But you're my best friend too Noah," She said quietly. "You're the only person I know who just lets me be."
"Because you're perfect the way you are," His voice didn't leave any room for argument, "An' anybody say's different is full a shit." It was one of the things she loved about him, he was all about being himself and to him that meant she should be herself, no matter what.
"Language," Rachel rolled her eyes at him and did what she'd wanted to since she got in the car. She unbuckled her seatbelt, slid closer, buckling herself into the middle seat right beside him. She could feel the warmth of him pressing against her side, from her shoulders to her ankles. "I missed the way you'd show up at my locker and make me jump and then just throw your arm around me on the way to class like it didn't matter that you were being seen with the school freak."
"I missed how you'd use ten words where four would do," Puck grinned down at her. "And how you'd explain something over and over until I understood," He took a deep breath. "So you wanna come over after school?"
"I'm helping your mom with dinner and my dads are coming over too," Rachel couldn't contain her smile. "So yes. But you're to relax when I'm at school. We can work tomorrow."
"You got a deal," His arm wrapped around her shoulders almost instinctively and she felt him press his face against her hair, taking deep breaths. He'd always loved her strawberry shampoo. "Thanks Rachel," He murmured into her hair. "Thanks for not giving up on me."
"This may be a bit presumptuous," Rachel began. "But you are my best friend Noah. I couldn't possibly give up on you. You'd never give up on me." It was true, she thought as she leaned into his embrace. Noah Puckerman didn't give up on anyone. It was a shame that no one else returned the favor. But she would, she wouldn't ever give up on him. Noah Puckerman was hers, for better or worse.
Traffic was unbearably loud, the phones were ringing in opposing blaring tones and it was hot, gorram hot, Rachel groaned as she unpacked another box. The door opened and she looked down the hall, "Did the super say when the AC would start working?"
"Yeah about that," Puck's voice was resigned. "Apparently it ain't just us baby. It's the whole darn building. Super says the rooftop unit is out."
"Lovely," Rachel frowned as she unpacked. A bundle of envelopes fell out from between two books and she shook her head as she picked them up. "Noah?"
"Yeah?" Her boyfriend of five years stuck his head in the room. "'Sup angel?"
"What's this?" She held out the bundle of envelopes. They were at least an inch and a half thick and wrapped together with a rubberband.
"My lifeline," Puck smiled and took them, snapping the rubberband off and opening the first envelope. Rachel blinked as she recognized the address and handwriting.
"You kept my letters?" She was staring, shocked, and finally looked up to meet his slightly sheepish gaze.
"Uh, yeah?" He shrugged, "It was the…the best thing anyone had ever done for me Rache. You believed in me, didn't give up on me, and you kept me going. You and Coach were the only ones who wrote though. I got hers somewhere here too. But yours… every day I got a letter from you Rache, with homework and news and everything that was going on. You kept me sane."
She smiled, "You're mine Noah Puckerman, I wasn't going to give up on you if I could help it. I might have presumed a bit too much but…"
"But that's what you do, and that's why you're going to be on Broadway in a year or less," Puck grinned down at her. "Let's put all this away and we can test out the new mattresses."
"Do we have to put things away first? Quality control is very important you know," Rachel giggled up at him and was rewarded with a scorching kiss and her gorgeous boyfriend backing her up until she fell back on the bed.
Author's Note: So this is the other side of This May Be Presumptuous. I wanted to show Rachel's half and just how much work and thought she put into helping Puck when he was in Juvie and that what was between she and Puck eventually was really long and slow building. Technically if you've read this first then you have spoilers for I Don't Mean To Presume but if you know me and my writing a happy ending really won't be too much of a shock. I hope you all enjoyed this and you'll let me know why.
The first two weeks of the month are hell on earth at work so I wanted to get this out before I really got slammed. Hopefully after that I'll be able to work on chapterizing one of my Glee WIP and continue writing it.