Puck and Rach

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If I Knew Then [3/?]
Puck and Rach
putakeepareyou
Title: If I Knew Then
Author:  putakeepareyou  
Rating: PG for now.
Pairing: Noah Puckerman / Rachel Berry (Puckleberry)
Length:  5,135 / 9,607
Spoilers: Season one to be safe, though it's AU.
Summary: She cries all the way to her house, thinking of the things she'll never have, the love they will never share, thinking of what the future holds in store for her. The future without him. - When he wakes up the next morning, there's no sign of her, nothing but her smell against his skin and the memory of her body against his.
Disclaimer: Everything you recognize is not mine.
Author's note:  This is unbeta-d. So all the mistakes - and I'm sure there are plenty - are mine. English is not my first language.



He's freaking the fuck out.

No, to be honest, that's the understatement of the century. He is way beyond that, really. As soon as he got home, he decided it was time to throw caution to the wind and ignore his self-imposed rule of not wanting to know anything about Rachel Berry. Now, much to his dismay, he knows more than he can possibly handle. He's tried to Facebook her, but the search came up empty, so he tried something more broad; Google was more than happy to provide him with everything he didn't need to know about Rachel and even her son, the five-year old Nathaniel Berry.

But he still couldn't believe it, even after all those tabs staring at him. He feels like they're mocking him, somehow, finding something rewarding in his distress, though he knows it's fucking stupid, because it's not like a computer can actually make fun of him or what he's feeling at the moment. But whatever, it feels like that and he's not in the mood to try and make sense of it.

Picking up the phone, he dials a number from memory, though he hasn't used it in almost two years, and waits. Three rings later, someone picks up and he doesn't even bother with greetings, just goes straight to the point, "Berry has a kid?"

When his question is met with silence, he rolls his eyes, though he knows the person on the other side of the line can't see it. "Hudson?"

"Shit," Finn whispers, and let's out a sigh. "Hey, Puck. How's it been, dude? Long time no talk, right?"

He lets out a heavy sigh, "Cute the crap, dude. I don't have time for this to become some kind of girly reunion."

"How did you find out?" Finn asks after a couple of seconds, and Puck knows that he's trying to make sense of what's going on, though he's also pretty sure that it's a vain attempt, because Finn is as dumb as a doormat, even if he sorta is his best friend. Well, was, but dude has been keeping this from him for the longest time, so he's not sure anymore. He does know shit like that kinda hurts, even if he's not the kind of guy to admit things like that. He has balls, you know?

"Dude," he starts, trying to keep his voice calm and collected. It's no use. "It's everywhere!"

Finn goes quiet again, and Puck can tell that a frown is taking over his features. Patience, that's what he needs at the moment. Lots and lots of fucking patience. Finn speaks again almost a whole minute later, "It is?"

Fuck this shit, why can't things be easy for him?

"You never Googled her name?"

" Not really, no." Finn says and then he lets out a heavy breath. "Sorry I never told you, man. But she made me promise, and then Quinn threatened me and Santana joined the bunch... you know how scary they are, can you imagine the three of them together? They'd kill me, really."

Puck lets out a chuckle, because he knows that's true. He's not afraid of chicks, hell no, but if he were less of a guy, then he's pretty sure those three together would be enough to make him fear for his manhood. He can see where Finn's coming from, but it's still hard to deal with it. He feels that his nervousness is quickly turning into anger and betrayal and fuck, he doesn't like that shit. At all.

But now is not the time to lash out on his friend. Honestly, Finn is not really the one to blame. He knows that despite the fact that he's been with Quinn since their sophomore year of high school, he's always had a soft spot for Rachel. It works that he's gonna marry her best friend, because they both dot on her, even though Quinn only came to her senses after being a bitch to Rachel for the longest time. But as it is, Puck knows that the reason why Finn never told him is because he has his balls wrapped in their fingers and he would never dream of betraying Rachel, let alone Quinn and Rachel. He thinks that maybe that sort of thing is more important than the bro code, so he's not gonna dwell too much on that fact. Besides, it's none of his business anyway, right?

"Who's the father?" he asks before he can stop himself, and Finn stammers, going quiet again.

"I don't know, actually," he admits and Puck frowns. "She's never told me."

The fuck...?

"So she's not married, then?"

Okay, maybe he's having a problem with the whole 'none of his business' thing. He doesn't know what the fuck is up with him, really. It's not like he cares if she's married or not. Seriously, he doesn't.

(Except he totally does.)

"Married?" Finn lets out an amused laugh. "Nah, man. She lives for two things, Nate and Broadway. She's had a few boyfriends over the years, but they never last. Nate is quite a handful. Reminds me a lot of you, actually..."

"Is that so?" Puck mumbles, his throat going dry at Finn's words. Fuck, it just can't be, right? She wouldn't. Yeah, definitely not possible.

"Tottaly," he hears his friend mutter, seemingly not picking up on his unease. "So, what's brought this? Why were you Googling Rachel's name?"

He winces at the way her name rolls easily off Finn's tongue, knowing that as dim as Finn is, he's also incredibly curious and he's not gonna let Puck go without an answer.

"Saw her name all over the city, thought I'd look up to know what she's been up to," he lies, trying to sound nonchalant about the whole thing.

"Wait, you're in New York?" Finn exclaims into the phone.

Puck chuckles, "Yeah, just got here about a month ago. Got a record deal."

"Dude, that's awesome! We should totally meet up!"

"That sounds cool, man." Puck agrees, because whether he's freaking out or not, he misses his best friend a lot. They fell out of touch when Finn moved to New York after graduation, but it didn't mean that they weren't friends anymore. Finn had been there through it all and Puck knew that no matter how long they stayed apart, they could go back to the way they were in the blink of an eye. It was just how their friendship worked.

"Great," Finn says and Puck can tell that he is genuinely excited. "I gotta go now, man. I'm supposed to meet Quinn for lunch and I'm already late. She's gonna have my head. But we'll talk soon, okay?"

"Yeah," Puck agrees. "Later, dude."

Finn hangs up without another word and Puck falls on his couch, rubbing his eyes. It's been over one week since he's met Nathaniel and the whole thing it's just driving him crazy. He knows what he's supposed to do, but he's not sure if he wants to deal with the outcome of his actions. If he goes after Rachel, he has a feeling that everything in his life will change and he's not even talking about Nate. The small brunette has always had a strong power over him and he knows that if he actually talks to her again, he's going to be walking into dangerous territory. He really just doesn't know what the fuck he's supposed to do.

When did life start sucking so fucking bad?

In her first eighteen years of life, Rachel Berry had never had anything not going according to the plan. And then Noah Puckerman came along and just threw her plans out of the window, making her re-think everything she thought she knew and wanted. It figures that six years later, he would be the one to do it again.

She thinks that maybe fate just hates her a whole lot, or maybe karma really is a bitch. She knows that she's made plenty of mistakes in her life, but she really thought that if she did things to make up for it, she'd be able to get away with them. Well, wishful thinking, really. Life's not nice like that and she knows this first hand.

It's been a week since Nate told her about his encounter with Noah, and she's been walking on eggshells. She keeps waiting for the day that things will come crashing down and that she'll have to deal with the secrets she's been concealing, that Noah will just walk into her life and demand to have something to do with Nathaniel, or even say that he wants to take him from her. She knows it's stupid, that he would never do such thing, but she also knows that he is not going to be too pleased about his discoveries and she just doesn't want him to hate her, even if she does deserves to be hated. And very much so, if she's being honest.

Maybe life would've been easier if she hadn't been such a coward.

She's just got home from her show and is getting ready to tuck Nate into bed when the doorbell rings, startling her a bit. She usually doesn't get unexpected visitors and she isn't waiting for anybody, but she shrugs it off and walks to the door, Nate on her arms. He's getting so big that she's pretty sure it won't be long until she's not able to carry him around like that anymore.

When she opens the door, Nate lets out a squeal before he pushes forward, practically jumping from her arms, "Aunty Quinn!"

She lets go of him, closing the door as Quinn steps inside, tickling Nate's sides and grinning at him.

"Well, that's a lovely surprise," she says, smiling at her best friend as she finally puts Nate down, turning to hug her. "What are you doing here?"

Quinn chews on her bottom lip and Rachel knows that her friend is not quite sure how to approach the subject. They've been best friends for years, after Quinn finally stopped acting like a bitch (well, most of the time, anyway) and they know each other better than imaginable, so she knows that whatever Quinn is doing there, it's bound to shook her a little bit. Well, not like her world isn't already upside down, anyway.

"Aunty Quinn, will you read me a story?" Nate asks before Quinn can say anything and Rachel gives her a small nod, letting her know that they'll talk when Nate is asleep. Quinn gives her a soft smile before she turns to Nate, picking him up again.

"Sure thing, buddy. You know Aunty Quinn loves reading to you," she grins at him before walking down the hall and into his room.

Rachel follows, leaning against the door and watching them, smiling at how amazing her best friend is with her son. She knows that Quinn wants to have kids more than anything, and she knows that with the wedding so close, it's only a matter of time, really. She's actually surprised it hasn't happened yet, but she also knows how Quinn's parents are particularly uptight about things like children out of the wedlock, and it doesn't surprise her that Quinn's decided to wait. She's seen the not-so-subtle judgment in Judy Fabray's eyes when she looks at Nate, but still, she isn't the first one to act like that and she certainly won't be the last and Rachel knows that Quinn is nothing like her mother. She broke away from those shackles when they moved to New York and if it wasn't for her best friend, she's not sure how she even would have managed to raise Nate.

She really would be nothing without Quinn, and she can only thank those up there for bringing someone so great into her life.

When Nate's finally asleep, Quinn pulls the covers up, pressing a soft kiss against his forehead before she gets up and walks back to the living room with Rachel. She takes a bottle from her bag, and walks to the kitchen to retrieve two glasses before she comes back, taking a sit on the couch and chewing on her bottom lip again.

"Why are we drinking?" Rachel asks, raising an eyebrow at her friend.

Quinn shrugs, pouring them two glasses of wine and handing one to Rachel, "I think we should."

"Quinn..."

Rachel knows that look. It's the same look that Quinn gets when she has to say something but she's not sure how she's supposed to do. It's a bit unnerving, because Rachel knows that whatever it's coming, she really will be needing that drink her friend is offering.

"Finn's got a call today," she says carefully, taking a huge breath before she speaks again. "From Puck."

"Oh."

"He is in town," Quinn supplies, taking a sip of her drink as she watches Rachel's face.

"Oh."

Rachel watches as Quinn opens her mouth to say something, clearly frustrated at her lack of reaction, but is interrupted as Rachel's phone rings, the familiar tone blasting around the room.

"Are we drinking yet?" Santana asks as soon as Rachel picks up, and she can't help but roll her eyes at her other best friend.

"Hello to you too, Santana. How have you been?" her throat is dry and it takes a few minutes to force the words out, but despite the fact that her body is suddenly cold, she knows she has to do her best to deal with this. "How do you know we're drinking?"

"Fabray called me a while ago," Santana informs and Rachel sends a glare towards Quinn. Of course they'd be in this together. "I figured the little man would be going to bed soon, so I just waited a while before I called. So, are we drinking or not?"

She hits the button to put Santana on speaker before she takes a sip of her wine, "Yes, we're drinking. But you're not even here, S."

"Well, I know that, Berry, but I'm not gonna let you two have all the fun," even over the phone, she can tell that Santana is rolling her eyes at her.

"Of course," she gives in, a soft sigh escaping her lips.

"I just told her what Finn told me," Quinn informs, leaning against Rachel on the couch. "She hasn't said anything yet."

"She's in shock, of course. Did you try to shake her?"

Rachel lets out a heavy breath, "I'm not in shock. I know that he's in town already."

"You do?"

"Wait, What?"

She takes another sip of her wine, ignoring the pointed look that Quinn is sending her way and the sound of Santana's voice. She knows that her friends are only trying to help her, but she's having enough problems dealing with this already and it's hard enough as it is. She really doesn't need more trouble regarding the whole Noah Puckerman issue.

"So, when are you gonna find your way into his arms again and get your happy family, like those stupid books?" Santana asks, a bored tone, though Rachel knows that she's actually worried about the entire thing.

"I'm afraid it's not that simple, S." Rachel informs her, and Quinn nods by her side.

"Why not? You can solve everything with sex, seriously. If we ever fought, we'd probably have really hot make-up sex."

Quinn rolls her eyes, and Rachel lets out a chuckle. Leave it to Santana to think that sex can solve everything.

"Don't you have a wife, Santana?" Quinn asks, and Rachel falls into a fit of giggles.

"I do, and she says 'hi', by the way."

"Hi Britt," Rachel and Quinn say at the same time.

"She also says she misses you bitches, but I just think we're better off," she stops for a second, before she continues. "Anyway, Puckerman. How did you know he's in town? Finessa only heard about it today."

"Don't call him that," Quinn jumps in and Santana lets out a heavy sigh, followed by a 'whatever'.

Rachel takes another sip of her wine, chewing her bottom lip for a moment, before she finally caves, "Nate met him."

"Fuck," Santana mutters.

"He what?" Quinn squeaks, eyes wide like sausages.

"A week ago, actually," Rachel explains. "We were grocery shopping and Nate wandered off, next thing I know, we're home and he's telling me how he's met his father. I promised him that if Noah really was in town, I'd do my best to get them together. I just didn't really think that Noah Puckerman would be here, in New York, of all places."

"Fuck, Berry, you're screwed."

"Well, thank you, Santana, that's very nice of you," she says, rolling her eyes at her best friend's antics.

"What do you plan on doing?" Quinn asks, eyes focused on her.

"I don't think I have a choice," Rachel explains, shrugging. "I promised Nate I would find him, so that's all I have to do. I just hope things work out for the best."

Finishing her glass of wine, she grabs the bottle and pours herself another drink. She'd been hoping that Nate was just mistaken, but now she really has to deal with the fact that Noah Puckerman is closer to her than he's been for the last six years and everything in her life is about to change. She can't hide anymore and she isn't about to break a promise she's made to her son, so really, all there's left to do is find Noah and hope that he will not hate her as much as she thinks he will.

She's really glad that Quinn thought of bringing something for them to drink. She's not one to let herself indulge in such things as alcohol, but at that particular moment, she thinks she's allowed to.

As it turns out, she didn't have to worry about it much longer.

She doesn't know if it's a good thing or not, but the next day, when she's walking out from the theater, her head pounding in a very unpleasant way (that's made her vow never to touch any kind of alcohol substance again), she stops dead in her tracks, the wind being knocked out of her chest as she stares at the person standing in front of her, arms crossed against his chest.

"Noah..." she whispers, eyes widening as she takes a good look at him.

He looks good, but that doesn't really surprise her. He's always looked far more amazing than it should be considered legal, and she knows that feeling that rushes through her body very well. The mere sight of him, even after all of those years, is still enough to make her body long for him, her fingers itching to touch some part of his skin, the yearn that she's felt since she was a stupid teenager. But at the same time, she notices the differences; he looks better, there's no question about that, but he also looks more mature, even more like a man than he did in high school. And she knows she shouldn't be noticing these things, because she knows that whatever is about to happen, it won't end up with them in each other's arms, professing their endless love, but she just can't help the emotions he's always managed to stir in her. Try as she might, she just can't fight the hold he has on her; always have, always will. It's just one of those things that just are and no one can do anything about it.

"Berry," he grunts with a nod, and all of her thoughts still as the cold takes over her body. His voice is devoid of any emotion, like seeing her in front of him after all these years is doing nothing, like he's actually annoyed at the prospect of even talking to her. It makes no sense, given that he's the one standing outside of the theater where she works, but maybe he's just lost or something. Maybe she should just walk away and not see him again for years and years. Maybe, just maybe, he doesn't suspect the fact that he has a son and that she's kept that from him for nearly seven years.

But then she remembers that she made a promise to Nathaniel and that just shuts down her flight response. It is, apparently, time to fight.

(She thinks, actually, that it's long overdue.)

So she takes a deep breath, and walks the few steps closer to him, her fingers gripping the straps of her bag so tightly that her knuckles are turning white. "How are you, Noah?"

He scoffs, "Cut the shit, Berry. It's been over six years, I think there's no room for chit chat."

She winces, taken aback by the way he just cuts to the point, ever the direct one. It's been so long since she's had to deal with how he simply just says what he has to say, like he doesn't tip toes around her, not caring how his words will hit her, just thinking about getting his point across. She appreciates it, really, because she doesn't need people being afraid of saying things to her face, or beating around the bush, but it's been so long that the entire thing just takes her by surprise. It's just so him that she can't help but feel even more overcome with memories and things she shouldn't be feeling. At all.

"I think not," she agrees, letting out a soft sigh. "Would you like to join me for a cup of coffee?"

He rolls his eyes, and she knows he wants to say no, because whatever the reason that he's decided to look for her, she's sure that going for a cup of coffee is definitely not in his plans. But he nods after a moment, and she is aware that he's only doing it to humor her. Because she knows that if he wanted, he'd just say something incredibly rude and just tell her what he's come here to say, because he certainly doesn't need to bother with any kind of pleasantries. But he's doing anyway, so she can just let out a heavy breath and walk across the street to one small cafe, acutely aware of his body next to hers, the warmth radiating even across the gap he's made sure to put between them.

She thinks she might be going dizzy. Being around him like that, like she hasn't spent the last six years missing him and wishing she could've done the right thing, she just... she just thinks it's all too much at once.

They walk inside and move to a booth in the far end of the cafe, placing their orders and waiting for them in silence. She tries to look at him, tries to take in all the subtle changes in his stance, tries to catch his eyes and see anything, but he just keeps looking everywhere but her, and it's just wrong because she's always been the one to look away from him, not the other way around.

The waitress brings their coffee and Rachel fishes out her phone, sending Quinn a message and asking her if she can pick up Nate at school, before she turns to him again.

"What are you doing here?" she asks, even if she already knows the answer. Well, she doesn't know what he's doing in New York, per say, but after talking with Nate and then listening as Quinn told her about the conversation he had with Finn, she thinks she knows pretty well why he's there. But she doesn't know how to start this particular conversation, so she's just stalling as much as she can.

"I heard you have a kid," he says after taking a drink of his coffee and Rachel sighs again. Apparently they really don't have time for pleasantries.

She nods, "I've heard you met him, actually."

He seems surprised, and she takes some small pleasure in it, because she knows that he wasn't expecting her to be as straight to the point as he is being. But she knows what he's doing there and she's made her son a promise and she's not going to back out now. It's all moving too fast for her to try and get a grip of everything, so instead she thinks she should just control her own tendency to ramble and just do what has to be done. Maybe, just maybe, she'll be able to get some good out of it.

He's quiet for a while, nodding slowly as he takes a drink of his coffee, and then he puts his elbows on the table, hands clasped together as he looks intently at her, "And who's the father?"

She wants to lie. Her first instinct is to tell him that it's not of his business, that he's nothing but an old acquaintance who she's had sex with once and then left, thinking that she'd never see him again. She really, really wants to lie, but she can't find it in herself to push the worlds out of her mouth. She thinks it's stupid that they're having this conversation as if they're talking about minor things in their lives, like they're just two friends having coffee and catching up. As someone who's always had a flair for the dramatics, she thinks that is absolutely no way to talk about their past and what has come of it.

It is how it is, though, and maybe it'll work out for the best that way.

"I think you already know the answer to that question, otherwise you wouldn't be here today, would you, Noah?"

His jaw clenches and she blinks at him, wondering where that sudden behavior came from. She's always been blunt, yes, honest to a fault, but she's never been like that. She has no problem coming out and saying what's going on in her mind, but that snarkiness, the near sarcasm, it just seems like it's something he would do, not the other way around.

(She wonders what it means that she's been around him again for so little time and he's already affecting her like that.)

"I don't wanna make assumptions, Berry," he shrugs, trying to appear unaffected by the entire thing, but she can see the way her shoulders are tense and the way his lips are pressed together. "I learned a long time ago that they only mean disappointment."

That statement feels like a personal jab, but she can't quite put her finger on what he means exactly, so she just lets out a heavy sigh and locks eyes with him, deciding that if she just acts like it's a band-aid, it'll be easier. Just rip it off at once.

"Six years ago, before I left for college, I had sex with one of my classmates," she tells him, her voice even as she puts all of her acting skills to good use. "I left the next day, and one month after that, I found out I was pregnant. After nearly seven years, he's standing in front of me again. Do I need to be more clear, Noah?"

He lets out a sarcastic laugh, his eyes empty as he looks at her, "You're a heartless bitch, aren't you?"

In the back of her mind, she thinks she deserves that. After all that she's done to him, maybe that's really a small price to pay. Still, she just can't ignore the pain that shoots through her body at his words. He sounds vicious, his tone coated with all the hate she's sure he feels for her. She notices that tears are prickling into her eyes but she just can't bring herself to acknowledge them. She doesn't think she has the right to, even if his worlds cut through her like a sharpened knife. And even when she wants to say something, wants to defend herself and her actions, she just can't. Once again, he's rendered her speechless.

Comparing to the last time he's done that, she doesn't like this one so much.

"A kid," he whispers, shaking his head. "A fucking son. I have a fucking son and you never had the fucking guts to tell me. Who the fuck do you think you are, Berry?"

He's raising his voice, trying to get something out of her, anything, she knows, but she just doesn't know what to say. All those times she played this moment in her head, no matter how bad he reacted in her mind, it was never like this. She always had the right words, the perfect way to make everything right and now it's just... gone. All her eloquence, all her reasons, all her defences. When it comes down to it, she has nothing.

And he knows it.

She knows all he wants are answers, but even when she thought she had them, she doesn't. And before she can realize what he's doing, he's getting up and throwing some bills on the table and glaring down at her.

"I can't even fucking stand to look at you right now," he seethes. "This isn't over, Berry."

And then he's gone.

By the time she notices that the tears are flowing freely down her face, she's already attracted the attention of half of the people in the small establishment, including the waiter that always takes her order whenever she's here. She shakes her head and mutters that she's fine as the woman asks her if there's anything she can do for her, and then she's walking outside, the cold weather hitting her as she makes her way home.

It's a bit ironic that a few weeks ago, she thought of winter as yet just another season, and now she hates it because it's cold and gloom and after everything that's happened, it's just how she feels. Maybe she should find some comfort in it, but mostly she just wants it to be over. She knows it's futile, but she just wants her old life again, because despite it's ups and downs it was still fairly easy if compared to what she's living now.

Making use of a poor metaphor, she is ready for the summer again.

 


  • 1
Ooh, I love this story, can't wait to read the next part :)

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