I highly suggest listening to Ben Rector's Auld Lang Syne to really get the feel of this. I've never been to NY for New Year's so I hope this makes sense. I hope people are still reading this.
The holidays passed in the quiet sort of comfort that she'd long ago begun to associate with Noah Puckerman. If you asked anyone else, they'd likely describe Puck as being loud and obnoxious. Larger than life perhaps. But he'd never been Puck with Rachel. And more than anything else, it was those quiet wordless exchanges that characterized their relationship. Rachel had always been able to just be when she was in Noah's presence. There was no need to be defensive, nothing to prove. She'd lost track of the times that the two of them had simply sat together in silence during high school. And she knew without asking, because they never really needed to talk about such things, that he got more of the same from her. Noah could be himself, no macho bravado or simplistic bullshit.
The day after Noah had arrived, Rachel had bundled up in all of her winter clothes and the two of them had set out to buy a Christmas tree. It went without saying that both of them were Jewish, but it was the first Christmas without Finn. They were spending it together and they both felt closer to Finn when surrounded by the trappings of his favorite holiday.
"You know, I'll never forget picking you up at that lot outside of town all those years ago." Noah mused as they selected a tree. He didn't need to explain his rather vague statement. Rachel remembered too.
Rachel didn't reply until they'd taken a cab home with the tree strapped to the roof of the car. Noah had just carried the tree into the loft and placed it in the tree holder when Rachel finally answered.
"Sometimes I forget how human he was." She whispered hesitantly.
Since his death, Finn had been regarded with near Saint-like reverence. Noah sat on the couch and patted the spot beside him. Rachel dropped down beside him and leaned her head on his shoulder. His arm wrapped around her small frame and his cheek pressed atop her head.
"I don't." He breathed, tone brutally honest. "I feel guilty about it sometimes."
A sad small played across her lips. "The two of you had a very difficult relationship, Noah. You never really looked at him the way the rest of us did."
Noah chuckled. "Yeah, well he was hardly my type."
"No-ahhhh." Rachel breathed in the way she might've chided him when they were younger. They laughed.
"Sometimes I find myself trying to remember him the way everyone else does." He admitted after a few moments of silence. "You know, how Kurt only remembers Finn as the perfect brother. Or how San somehow forgets the fact that the two of them hated each other most of the time."
"Noah." Rachel paused. "You remember him as he was. And that's healthier." She paused again. "He wasn't perfect. He was so young and full of potential. But he was still a boy when he died."
"Yeah." He breathed against her hair.
Rachel stood beside the large stage in Time's Square and gazed around at the party-goers. She loved New York during the holidays and she was particularly excited about being there for New Year's Eve. Her meager Broadway connections had earned her a spot out of the main crowd but it was Noah's influence that had gotten her into a more comfortable, less-crowded area reserved mainly for B-listers.
She was startled out of her thoughts as a strong arm wound its way around her waist. She looked up and smiled as Noah glanced around the party nervously. "You warm enough?"
Rachel grinned. Only Noah Puckerman would be asking about her temperature before the biggest performance of his life. Upon learning that he was in New York, his manager had quickly set up the gig for the new star.
"Yes, I'm glad you insisted that I bring a warmer jacket." She replied fondly.
She watched in amusement as he rolled his eyes and grunted. "Yeah, well. You were gonna head out into the cold in that little ass dress without a real jacket."
It was Rachel's turn to roll her eyes. "If I remember correctly, you made no actual complaints about the dress itself." She reminded him with a laugh.
Noah glanced down the length of her body in a way that was distinctly Puckish and winked. Rachel joined him in a laugh. The flirting wasn't new. Nothing would ever change that between the two of them. And if she was being honest, if only to herself, it had been nice to see the way Noah's eyes had widened and then darkened as he took in the form-fitting dress and the smooth legs on display. There were few things in the world that really made Rachel Berry tick and only performing had ever made her feel more alive than when Noah Puckerman looked at her like that. She had spent a lot of her time in high school wearing a skirt that she knew he was particularly fond of. Her friend was very reliable for a hell of an ego boost. And sometimes Rachel needed to be reminded that someone found her beautiful.
"How are you feeling?" She prodded.
She watched as his Adam's apple bobbed dangerously in his throat. She wondered if he'd play it off, but he was always honest with her. "I'm not sure if I want to puke or run."
Rachel watched as he continued to eye the crowd through narrowed eyes. She stepped up onto her toes and brushed her lips across the stubble of his cheek. "This is just the first big stage in a while, Noah. You've done it before." She breathed in his ear and smiled when she felt his body relax. "No, go kick some ass!"
Something bright shone in Noah's hazel eyes as the memory seemed to hit him. He pressed his lips against her forehead and stepped away from her. He knew better than to ask if she'd be okay by herself. Rachel Berry could more than handle it.
Rachel winked at him and watched as he turned and made his way over to the interview box. She huddled closer to one of the portable heaters and watched as Noah began to response animatedly to Ryan Seacrest's questions. His charm was out in full force as the two of them joked back and forth. Suddenly the crowd began to shriek as the ball began to drop. Rachel chanted along with the party-goers and watched as Noah set up on the big stage in front of a piano. The cheers reached a fever pitch just before the countdown ran out and Noah looked up and met her gaze. One of his genuine smiles crossed his lips and Rachel felt a prickling behind her eyes.
An excited hush fell upon Time's Square as people kissed and the noisemakers died out. Noah inhaled deeply and turned towards his piano. The opening notes of 'Auld Lang Syne' rang out through the Square and everyone's attention was on the lone performer. Rachel held her breath as Noah's voice carried beautifully out into the night
"Should old acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot
And Auld Lang Syne!"
Tears welled as Rachel watched one of her dearest friends serenade the crowd and the world. The shining moment was only made greater by the significance of the lyrics. Noah was saying goodbye to the past year. He was paying tribute to his fallen friend and looking into the future.
"For Auld Lang Syne, my dear
For Auld Lang Syne
We'll take a cup of kindness yet
For Auld Lang Syne."
Rachel found herself smiling as she listened to Noah. His eyes raised to meet hers across the stage and she could make out the sparkle of unshed tears. His voice held steady despite his clear emotion and she nodded tearfully.
"We'll take a cup of kindness yet,
For Auld Lang Syne."
The final notes held in the air and then only a moment of silence before the crowd erupted in cheers. His melodic, simple version of the classic song had won him more fans. Rachel watched with pride as Ryan Seacrest introduced Noah Puckerman to the world officially. Rachel cheered louder than any of them.
Review, pretty please? But mostly thanks for reading anything that I write (especially since I seem to be totally unreliable when it comes to updating.)