Tangled Up In You
Rachel Berry groaned as she opened another box and found it filled with more of her old clothing. "This is getting ridiculous," She called to her brother. "Where are my clothes?"
"Not here," Sam called back, his light tenor voice filled with amusement. "I've got tons of boxes but none of 'em are labeled with your name."
"Sam we have school tomorrow, do you know how idiotic I'm going to look in these old things?" Rachel began to unpack the box. "The skirts aren't too bad but I can't find my leggings and all my cute tops are missing. All I have are the blouses and twinsets."
"What was with your old school anyway?" Sam asked lounging in the doorway as his diminutive foster sister flew around her room trying to scrounge an outfit together. "The pictures make you look like a refugee from the early sixties."
"I have no idea," Rachel groaned and flopped down on her unmade bed to regard her brother. She and Sam were complete opposites in looks. He was tall, blond and the epitome of a Californian golden boy, muscles upon great bone structure; nobody would guess he'd been born in Chicago, same as her. She was tiny, dark haired, olive skinned and obviously Jewish. And she loved him to death, ever since her fathers had begun fostering him when she was in seventh grade. "Can I borrow one of your dress shirts?"
"Only if I get it back in one piece," Sam nodded. "When we get home tomorrow we can go through the boxes in the garage. Maybe your clothes are in there." He couldn't help but grin down at his sister; she was so tiny in comparison to he and their dads but she more than made up for her stature with personality.
"I can only hope, somehow I doubt Daddy will like spending his bonus for coming to nowheresville Ohio on my new wardrobe," Rachel groused. "Do you think it's too much to hope that the high school will have a dance club? Or even a choir? I'm not counting on a theatre program; that would be way too much to ask."
"They wouldn't have moved here if there wasn't something for both of us," Sam said reasonably. "I'm just glad they found a house big enough for all of the instruments and still have a media room."
"And still we have a couple of rooms leftover," LeRoy Berry called from the hallway, his mellow voice affectionately teasing. "Sam, will you be all right giving your sister a ride home tomorrow?" LeRoy paused in the doorway beside his foster son, shaking his head over the chaos that was his daughter's room, "I'm simply guessing that the two of you will be trying out or auditioning or what have you for whatever teams or clubs you'd like to join."
"They don't have a late bus?" Rachel sat up with a horrified look, "I can't expect Sam to wait on me all the time. Is it that far to walk?"
"It's not far but this isn't Chicago and there isn't a cop on every other corner and you don't know the neighborhoods," LeRoy shook his head. "And no, they don't have a late bus. I checked. The only bus that comes by the house leaves right after school is over."
"I wish I could drive," Rachel groaned.
"You'll pass the test when you take it," Sam told her reasonably. "It's not as if you can't drive."
"She just drives like a spaz," Hiram Stein chuckled as he passed the two males, his arms loaded with empty boxes.
"Dad!" Rachel objected, "I do not."
"Yes you do!" Hiram laughed as he walked down the stairs. "Shake a leg if you want to eat tonight."
"Who's turn is it to cook?" Sam wondered, "We've been eating take out so long I can't remember."
"It's mine," LeRoy groaned. "How do you feel about Italian? We can throw on something decent and go to that Breadstix place."
"I feel fine about Italian as long as they have eggplant parmesan," Rachel declared with a grin. "And tiramisu."
"Bitch," Sam shook his head at her as he headed to his room to find a clean teeshirt. "You know I can't eat that."
"You can," Rachel argued as she slipped on her loafers. "You just won't. You're going to be skinnier than I am."
"Stop picking at him about his weight," LeRoy had disappeared into the master bedroom and now emerged buttoning up a clean shirt. "He doesn't tell you that you're too skinny."
"Because I'm not," Rachel shook her head, "I've got prima ballerina butt."
"You have a cute butt Rae," Sam grinned at her. "It's not big like that chick in Black Swan."
"Great." Rachel groaned as she yanked a brush through her hair and grabbed her purse. "Now I'm aspiring to not look like Natalie Portman. "
"Could be worse," Sam teased. "She could be aspiring to not look like you."
"Enough you two," Hiram called from the bottom of the stairs. With his typical sixth sense regarding food he'd already changed his shirt. "Let's go eat something bad for us. I'll stop for groceries tomorrow on the way home from work and we'll all be healthy again."
Sam picked up his phone and regarded the text he'd just gotten with a frown. "Looks like you can't meet her unless you come home with me," He told the kid he'd just met on the football field. "She was supposed to catch a ride with me but she says she took the bus home."
"Why'd she ride the bus if you were gonna give her a ride?" The other boy frowned, "Wait she's a chick, guess she don't gotta make sense." He shook his head and ran his hand over his dark brown mohawk with a shrug.
"I'm just surprised, she was gonna try out for some of the clubs after school," Sam frowned. "This kinda sucks."
"What does?" The mohawked boy was busily pulling on a pair of jeans and shirt, oblivious or uncaring that Sam was watching him curiously.
"She didn't want to move here, she loved Chicago, so did I, but our dads said that they had a music program here," Sam was still looking at his phone. "She's got dance classes before school and voice twice a week but she..." He shrugged. "If she went straight home and didn't even try out any of the clubs or programs...means something went seriously wrong. She doesn't quit."
"Sounds like a cool chick," Hazel eyes regarded Sam shrewdly, "You gone on her or something?"
"Nah," Sam shook his head with a grin. "I've known her since she was twelve and I was fourteen." He shrugged, "I'm dyslexic, got kept back in kindergarten. When our dads took me in for foster care she didn't even think about the fact that a strange boy was going to be wandering around her condo. She just asked if I minded her weird hours and apologized that the soundproofing wasn't done in her room yet."
Sam grinned, "Yeah, she can get a little...carried away when she's practicing." He looked around the locker room and realized it had emptied out. "Anyway, I'd better get home."
"Never got your name," The boy with the mohawk stood and held out his hand. "You found out I played guitar and said I should meet your sister but we ain't been introduced."
"Sam Evans," Sam took the other boy's hand. "You?"
"Noah Puckerman," Hazel eyes were dark and thoughtful. "Everybody calls me Puck." He tilted his head towards the opposite locker where a tall gangly guy had been standing for a while, "You're gonna upset a few folks," He said quietly. "Finn's the quarterback, an' you're better'n he is. He's also lead in Glee."
"Glee?" Sam stuffed his phone in his pocket and picked up his bag.
"New Directions," Puck explained quietly. "It's a show choir." He shrugged, "Finn's the male lead. Female lead is his girlfriend sorta," He shrugged. "I'm in it too, not sure why these days, ain't like I get to sing all that much."
"Huh," Sam shook his head, "Wonder why Rae didn't try out?"
"Let's ask," Puck suggested. When Sam gave him an incredulous look the mohawked boy shrugged. "You said I should meet her, not sure why but you got me curious now." He looked at his watch, a beat up old thing that was probably older than he was, "We leave now we won't be too late."
"Yeah, okay," Sam nodded. "Maybe you can talk her into auditioning for Glee."
Rachel scowled as she began going through the boxes in the garage. She'd washed her hands twice but she still felt sticky. Sam's dress shirt would never be the same and neither would her skirt. Who knew blue slushies would stain permanently? To be fair if she'd taken the clothes off and washed them right away they might have survived, but by the time she got home the stains had set. Now she was wearing them out of sheer stubbornness. They were ruined anyway, she might as well keep wearing them until she found her good clothes.
"Rachel, what the hell happened to you?" Sam's voice startled her so badly she nearly jumped.
"She got slushied, looks like," A new voice said.
Rachel turned slightly so she could see the door to the kitchen along with the two boys standing there and folded her arms, "He's right." She said flatly. "Apparently my outfit didn't meet with approval," She shook her head. "I did my best with what I had."
"Did you find your clothes?" Sam leaned against the doorway.
"Oh yeah," Rachel sighed and began shoving boxes towards the door. "Too little too late though." She was surprised when the larger boy behind Sam pushed past her brother and bent to pick up two of the boxes.
"Where do you want 'em?"
Rachel stared and finally answered, "Up the stairs, first door on the right." She watched as he turned without another word and began to walk in the direction she indicated. Sighing she picked up another box and pointed out the last two for Sam.
When she dumped the box on the floor in front of her closet the boy Sam had brought home was looking at the pictures on her memory board. "So they slushied you?" He asked quietly.
"Yeah," Rachel looked down at the blue stained shirt and plaid skirt, "Some cheerleaders, at least they wore red uniforms, got me between second period and third. Then some guys wearing jerseys did the same thing right before my last class." She looked up at the boy, he was much taller than she was and wore a tight tee shirt that did nothing to hide his muscles. "Then this boy with a gorgeous jacket and perfect skin suggested if I wasn't a walking fashion faux pas I might have been able to go one day without being slushied. The black girl with him told him that she didn't blame the jocks. Apparently I'm too fluent in Spanish so I'm irritating."
"The cheerleaders're called Cheerio's," The boy explained quietly still looking at the pictures. "The guys in the jerseys were either on the football team or the hockey team. The pretty boy and the chocolate thunder were probably Kurt Hummel and Mercedes Jones. They're in Glee Club and they used to be Cheerios."
"Rae this is Noah Puckerman," Sam introduced them as he brought in the last couple of boxes. "Puck, this is my sister Rachel Barbra Berry."
"Nice to meet you Noah," Rachel smiled. "If you two will excuse me I'm going to have a shower and get the remains of the slushy out of my hair."
"Yeah, uh...remind me to talk to you 'bout that," Puck told her running his hand over his mohawk before he left the room.
"All...right," Rachel stared after him for a moment before Sam shut the door behind him and she was alone in her room.
Puck was looking around the house curiously and Sam held up a can of soda, "Dude, you want?" The blond offered.
"Yeah man, thanks," Puck nodded and took the can, drinking thirstily. "There's only the four of you? Isn't this house a little big?"
"Maybe," Sam shrugged. "Seems big to me but then my family lived in about three rooms altogether, basically at a roach motel."
"What happened man?" Puck frowned.
"My old man lost his job. Always had a temper...just started to take it out on my mom, and on me," Sam shrugged again, "One day he hit her and she didn't get up. He hit me and I...I fell, hit my head, I was blind for a coupla days. School sent someone by when I didn't show, she called the social workers." He sighed when he saw Puck run a hand over his mohawk in a way he knew already mean the other kid was uncomfortable. "Sorry, didn't mean to-"
"No man, that ain't it," Puck interrupted him. "Just a familiar tale is all." His hazel eyes were dark and his hand squeezed the can of soda as if he'd like to drive his fist into something. "So Rachel's your only sister?"
"I got a little sister and brother," Sam said quietly. "They're twins, Stacie and Stevie. LeRoy and Hiram are trying to get them placed with us, but it isn't easy. It's been a month since I've seen them."
"That sucks," Puck said succinctly.
"Yeah," Sam took a deep breath. "You want somethin' to eat?" He asked changing the subject almost desperately. "I think we got basic provisions."
"Samuel Evans don't you dare try to bake anything!" Rachel's voice hollered down the stairs. "I'll be down in five minutes, just as soon as I find a clean shirt and I'll make something."
"How'd she know you were thinkin' 'bout food?" Puck grinned at Sam.
"She's almost psychic about people messin' around in her kitchen," Sam rolled his eyes.
"Huh," Puck looked at Sam. "So do you like blow things up when you bake?"
"Kinda," Sam said sheepishly. "So what's the deal with the slushies anyway?"
"Better tell you both at once," Puck sighed and shook his head.
Rachel skidded on the tile entryway and slid into the kitchen, very aware of how clean the floors were and how slippery in her stocking feet. "Okay, so," She pulled open the cabinets and took stock. "Looks like we have the makings for peanut butter cookies if those are all right," She said breathlessly. "Noah are you allergic?"
"Nah," Puck shook his head. "Listen, I was gonna tell Sam, about the slushies."
"They're in poor taste," Rachel said firmly and frowned as she began to measure out the flour and brown sugar.
"Yeah, an' they won't stop," Puck told her heavily. Startled she looked at him and he nodded, "Even if you change your clothes, change your style, don't matter. They'll still slushy you 'cause they did it once. Only way to gain immunity is become a Cheerio, start dating a sports guy who'll stick up for you, or kick some ass whenever someone does it."
"Well I'm her brother and I just made the football team, won't they leave her alone then?" Sam wanted to know.
"Won't be enough," Puck shook his head. "I used to do it too, got tired of it, tired of the bullshit." He looked at Rachel, "I'm sorry. The glee kids should know better than to laugh. They used to get slushied all the time."
"So what you're telling me is that if I wear my good clothes tomorrow, they'll just get ruined like Sam's shirt did today," Rachel kept working on the cookie dough as she spoke. "And if I join Glee?"
"Can't say things'll improve," Puck told her in a bleak voice. "Glee's a lotta fun though."
"I imagine it is," Rachel smiled slightly. "I'll have to think about what my plan of action will be."
"Well all I can say is if you were wearin' a skirt like that, with legs like yours, I wouldn't slushy you," Puck gave her an admiring glance.
"Well if I'm going to be slushied no matter what I refuse to wreck my good clothing," Rachel frowned. "Though I will be bringing a change of clothes to school with me."
"Make it two," Puck advised. "Also it's a good idea to keep shampoo an' stuff in your locker. I got some Tide for my clothes."
"You've gotten slushied?" Sam blinked at the taller, fairly intimidating boy.
"Yeah, when I first started with Glee," Puck shrugged. "Had to kick some ass, but it stopped after I beat some of the guys down. 'Course now I'm on probation and Coach'd have my ass if I started fights at school. But I keep the detergent just in case."
"So if I hadn't gone out for football and I'd decided I wanted to join Glee," Sam began slowly.
"You'd a been slushied in five minutes," Puck finished in a flat voice. He shook his head, "I didn't start the tradition, dunno who did, but it's pretty firmly embedded at McKinley."
"Well shit," Sam groaned. "It's not like we can move or somethin'," He looked at Rachel. "So whadda we do?"
"I wear my old clothes and make sure I bring a couple of changes to school," Rachel shrugged. "You don't let on that you're my brother. Obviously the idiots at McKinley have me designated as a loser; I'm not going to have you contaminated by association."
"Rae I'm not going to ignore you at school," Sam argued.
"Yes you are," Rachel pointed her spoon at him and shook her head as she continued to spoon out cookie portions. "One of you get a fork and mash these," She commanded mildly and was gratified when Puck did as she said. Pulling out the cooling racks she set them on the counter and regarded the two boys. "While they're baking why don't you show Noah around the house Sam?" She suggested.
"You're not going to change your mind are you?" Sam sighed as he pushed himself off the kitchen stool and pulled Puck along with him.
"Nope," Rachel deliberately popped the p and shrugged. "Dad said he'd stop for groceries right?"
"You know he did, why are you asking me?" Sam laughed at her, "Just text him and tell him what you want him to pick up." He shook his head and tugged Puck along, "C'mon, the princess commands and we obey."
Puck's grin was wicked, "She can command me anytime," He drawled casting a flirtatious look over his shoulder as Sam lead him from the room.
"Seriously dude?" Sam looked at him, "She's like a year younger than you, she skipped a grade."
"Huh," Puck grinned. "Me too."
"So what? You're sixteen?" Sam led him to the basement, set up as a media room with a little stage on one end of the large space.
"Just turned seventeen this year, few days ago," Puck shrugged. "Been drivin' since I was fourteen though, farm country, so it's easy enough to get a farmers license."
"Rachel'll be jealous, she's still sixteen and had to take drivers ed over the summer so she can't take the test yet," Sam grinned. "She hates that she's a senior this year and still can't drive."
"She's sixteen and she's a senior?" Puck shook his head, "What is she a genius or somethin'?"
Sam shook his head and led Puck back up the stairs to the formal living room and through the dining room to the family room behind the kitchen. He could hear Rachel on the phone talking to Hiram about the groceries. "She's got a photographic memory," He explained, "Once she reads something she remembers it. It doesn't mean she always understands it, but she remembers."
"Huh," Puck grinned. "That's kinda cool." He shrugged, "I just knew the material so I ended up skipping a grade."
"You just knew the material?" Sam frowned his confusion at Puck as the boy looked around the room that had been turned into a music room. It was dominated by a grand piano, his guitar hung on the wall along with several others belonging to the rest of the family. A violin case rested on the built in side board while the opposite end of the room was paneled in mirrors with a barre attached at waist height.
"Dunno, just tested right out of my classes round fourth grade. School ain't hard, it's just boring as shit," Puck rolled his eyes. "What are you guys? Like musical prodigies? It's like you've got every instrument known to man in here."
"Nah," Sam chuckled, "Our dads are big on the arts, both of 'em can play guitar, and LeRoy noodles around on the piano all the time. Rae plays the piano and the violin's hers, she's learnin' guitar but I'm a lousy teacher." He gestured towards the mirrors and barre, "Dad set that up for her so she could practice everyday."
"So she sings, dances, plays instruments," Puck shook his head. "Jones an' Hummel got like radar for these things, no wonder they were laughin' at her. If her voice is any good she'd take lead over from either a them."
"If she's any good?" Sam laughed and shook his head, "Hey Rae!"
"Sam you know I hate shouting from room to room," Rachel appeared in the doorway.
"Didn't stop you earlier," Sam reminded her a bit smugly. "Puck here don't believe you can sing good."
"I didn't say that," Puck argued, "I didn't," He looked at Rachel, "Swear to God."
"What did you say then?" Rachel's arms were folded and her eyes were dark and dangerous.
"I'm in shit an' I haven't done a thing," Puck protested.
"C'mon Rae just sing somethin'," Sam cajoled.
"And if I pick a duet you're singing along with me," Rachel's dark eyes speared Sam just as they had Puck.
"Hell," Sam groaned, "Fine."
"Don' like ta sing?" Puck's grin was teasing as he leaned against the wall, watching as Rachel took her place behind the piano.
"It's fine, just Rae always picks something sappy," Sam groaned. "'Specially when she's irked with me."
Puck laughed, "Geez if it's that hard on you I'll sing, or I will if I know the song."
Rachel grinned at him, "Doubt you'd know this," She shrugged as she began to play the opening notes a favorite.
"Rae's got a weakness for Disney," Sam groaned.
"Then Sam don't gotta sing," Puck chuckled. When Sam gave him a disbelieving look Puck shrugged, "I got a little sister. I know every fuckin' Disney song there is."
"Put your money where your mouth is then Noah," Rachel sent him a grin before she began to sing.
"All those days watching from the windows
All those years outside looking in
All that time never even knowing
Just how blind I've been
Now I'm here blinking in the starlight
Now I'm here suddenly I see
Standing here it's all so clear
I'm where I'm meant to be,"
Puck blinked in surprise at the strength and sweetness of her voice. It was as if the strength and vigor in Mercedes voice had Quinn's sweetness with a rich silky sound that belonged only to Rachel. Her voice practically soared on high notes. She started on the chorus and he couldn't help grinning.
"And at last I see the light
And it's like the fog has lifted
And at last I see the light
And it's like the sky is new
And it's warm and real and bright
And the world has somehow shifted
All at once everything looks different
Now that I see you…"
Rachel looked at Puck expectantly, her fingers nimbly adjusting the song to remove the lengthy instrumental required by the movie conversation. Then he began to sing and she had to look at Sam to believe what she was hearing.
"All those days chasing down a daydream
All those years living in a blur
All that time never truly seeing
Things, the way they were
Now she's here shining in the starlight
Now she's here suddenly I know
If she's here it's crystal clear
I'm where I'm meant to go…"
Sam blinked and returned Rachel's surprised look, when Puck had said he was in Glee but that he didn't get to sing much, Sam had figured the kid's voice wasn't any great shakes. But he had a gorgeous full baritone, not even straining on the higher notes of Zachary Levi's part, and there was nothing shallow or tinny about it. Rachel had a soft smile on her face as she joined her voice to Puck's.
"And at last I see the light…"
Puck grinned as he took his line, meeting Rachel's gaze, "And it's like the fog has lifted."
Their voices blended again as they sang the next line together, "And at last I see the light."
"And it's like the sky is new," Rachel sang sweetly and nodded to Puck that she was ready. Their voices matched perfectly, each knowing their part, instinctively softening and joining the words and notes to embrace the other's share.
"And it's warm and real and bright
And the world has somehow shifted
All at once everything is different
Now that I see you
Now that I see you…"
Sam blinked as the song ended and realized the two of them were staring at each other in amazement and awe. Then the oven buzzed and Rachel squeaked in dismay, running towards the kitchen. "Uh, dude? What's goin' on 'tween you an' Rae?" He finally got the question out past his lips.
"Huh?" Puck really didn't seem to be paying attention to Sam, absently staring at the spot where Rachel had been sitting. "What?"
Making an effort to sound more casual and less accusing, Sam repeated the question, adding, "You're starin' at nothing man."
Puck shot him a sheepish grin and ran a hand over his mohawk in what seemed to be a nervous habit, "Never heard a voice like hers comin' out a such a little package, not that she ain't…you know," He shrugged.
"She's what?" Sam wasn't sure if he liked where this was headed, sure he'd only been at the school for a day but that was long enough to hear rumors about Puck. It had only been when they'd introduced themselves that he'd been able to attach the rumors to a person and it had taken him a minute to make the connection. The rumors hadn't said anything about Puck hooking up with anyone besides Cheerios or he wouldn't have ever invited him to meet Rachel.
"Shit, you don't notice?" Puck shook his head as if he was amazed, "She's fuckin' gorgeous. She's so damn beautiful she might as well be Jewish."
"Puck, she is Jewish," Sam rolled his eyes. This was doing nothing to reassure him that his little sister was safe from being hit on.
"You're shittin' me," Puck grinned now, obviously thinking Sam was taking the mickey out him.
"I shit you not," The blond nearly rolled his eyes again. "Our dads are LeRoy Berry and Hiram Stein."
"So? Her last name's Berry," Puck didn't get it.
"What Sam is so delicately trying to say is that my dads used a surrogate parent to have a biological child, my mother was also Jewish," Rachel came back in the room. "Come in the kitchen, the cookies are cooling down."
"Whatever you say princess," Puck grinned and followed her all too willingly in Sam's opinion.
"Our dads made a deal," Rachel pulled down desert plates and began to divide the cookies between the plates and a Tupperware container. "They found a woman willing to have a child for them, used their sperm to impregnate her. Not sure about the exact procedure but basically since Daddy is black and Dad is Jewish it was pretty obvious who's biological daughter I was once I was born. The deal was that whoever had the child biologically would give the child their partner's last name."
"So if you were a cute little chocolate chip your last name would be Stein?" Puck reasoned out with a grin.
"Pretty much," Rachel nodded as she put the plates in front of the boys. "So when you got the nickname Puck did you realize you were naming yourself for a Shakespearian character known for mischief and trickery? Or did you just like it better than your real name?"
Sam shook his head and sighed, "I'll be over here, away from the bullets," He nodded towards the table set in the breakfast nook.
Puck laughed and shook his head, "Geez Sammy, what've folks been sayin' about me?" He asked teasingly looking from Rachel to the blond boy. When Sam simply frowned Puck's hazel eyes darkened and he looked at Rachel thoughtfully. "Shit." He shook his head, "Well I guess I better go. Nice ta meet you Rachel, hope you come in an' try out for Glee, but I don't guess that'll happen now." He picked up a more than a little battered backpack and slung it over his shoulder before turning and striding away.
Author's Note: So a new Puckleberry story. This is going to be somewhat different from the others, it's obviously AU from day one. It's only about half finished so you might get a bunch of chapters and then nothing for a while. I hope that's all right with all of you.
In case it wasn't clear, Sam is Rachel's foster brother, she and Sam are from Chicago and have just moved to Lima, OH for her senior year. In this story I wanted Rachel and Puck to have more in common than just being Jewish so I played with their mental capacity and maturity levels some. I don't know canon Puck's IQ and I don't care much either.
Oh, I got inspired to write this story by a little fic I read where Sam is Rachel's foster brother and he has to go through football hazing. When Puck tells her about it Rachel nearly panics because its not something Sam would handle well because of his anger management issues. If anybody knows who wrote that fic or the name of it I'd love to give the author a shout out because I really liked that idea. So I put my own spin on it and ran with it.
And thanks to all the folks who in reviews of my other Puckleberry stories begged for more fics. I appreciate your patience and your persistence. This is for all of you.