anna fighting words

A Rory/Logan moment turned Puck/Rachel...

Reposting from the drabble meme at earnmysong 's request. Here you go, bb!


Rachel was off today. She could hear it and she could feel it. She could also feel the eyes of her fellow glee club members as they looked at her, no doubt trying to figure out what had happened to make her lose her perfect concept of pitch and rhythm. She tried to fix it, tried to get back into her groove, but she only succeeded in frustrating herself further when she failed.

When Mr. Schue finally let them go, giving her one long, suspicious glance—she was sorely tempted to yell that no, she wasn't doing this on purpose to somehow further her own interests, as he appeared to believe—she grabbed her bag and hurried out into the halls before everyone else. She went to her locker, taking some bit of peace from the empty after-school halls.

Until she realized that someone was following her. A glance over her shoulder showed that it was Puck, and she couldn't say she was really surprised. Who else would come after her? He was the closest thing she had to a friend in glee, and if she wasn't completely wrong(which was a possibility), he'd been rather attentive to her lately. Maybe even flirty, though she was pretty sure she'd imagined that.

But a girl could dream, and Rachel was better at it than most.

He came to a stop next to her and folded his arms over his chest. "What's wrong with you?"

"Have you noticed the amount of happy couples that we're surrounded by? Just in glee! Tina and Mike have their adorable Asian everything together. Brittany and Artie might be the strangest pairing I've ever seen, but somehow they work. Then there's our own Ken and Barbie set. And Finn and Santana," she added, as if they were nothing more than an afterthought. Which they were, most of the time, except when she glanced around and realized that practically everyone else had someone and she was alone, staring at a lifetime of cats and Tony awards.

Puck shrugged his shoulders nonchalantly. "Yeah, so?" He didn't think about couples much, except to pretty much ignore them when they were being too sappy. He didn't mind seeing a couple going at it, that was fine, but all the romance stuff? It made him kind of sick.

Rachel sighed as she twisted out her locker combination with a little more force than was absolutely necessary. To be having this conversation, with this boy in particular, might have been a new low for her. "Never mind."

"No, come on. Tell me what's up."

"Nothing. I'm simply annoyed because my fierce drive and admittedly strong personality apparently make me undateable." She grabbed her history book from the neat little stack and started to reorganize the folders lined up next to it, just to give her hands something to do.

"That's what's bothering you?"

A little sulky, she nodded into her locker.

"Shit, Berry, you're not undateable."

She let out a rather unladylike snort, because the only other alternative would be to sink into the floor and there didn't seem to be any gaping black holes handy. The last thing she wanted was Puck's pity about her dating life. A very insistent piece of her was suddenly demanding that she shake him and ask what the hell he was doing if she was not, as she suspected, undateable.

Puck leaned against the locker next to hers. "I've thought about asking you out, several times. I just don't think it's such a good idea."

He expected her to immediately go on the defensive, but she just tilted her head to the side around her locker door and asked, "Why not?"

"Because you’re special."

She took a little step back, looking up at him tentatively. "Special, like ‘Stop eating the paste’, special?"

Puck laughed, a little surprised by her sense of humor. For all her proper grammar and endless rambling that made him want to duct tape her mouth shut, the girl was also a little tweaked upstairs. He liked it. "You are beautiful. You are intelligent. You are incredibly interesting," he informed her, watching as her cheeks went pink with pleasure. "You’re definitely girlfriend material. I, however, am definitely not boyfriend material."

Her happiness at his compliments was quickly overshadowed by his assessment of himself. He liked to portray himself as a cocky boy, Noah Puckerman, but there was more to him than just the strutting jock who borrowed other people's girlfriends and tossed drinks in their faces. She had some doubts about his reasoning on the boyfriend front. On paper, Finn should have been excellent boyfriend material, but when they'd been together they'd just sort of... fallen short, of their own expectations, of happiness, of what they should have been. Now she took everything that looked good on paper with a grain of salt.

So Noah, who looked like a terrible bet on paper? She had her own ideas about him. "Don't you think you should let your potential girlfriend be the judge of that?" she asked.

He shook his head. "I think I know myself pretty well, but if you don't believe me there's a string of girls who'll be glad to agree. Probably loudly, with lots of cursing."

Rachel watched him wince, no doubt imagining all the things his jilted hook-ups would say if asked for their opinion on his character, and giggled. The thought of him with all those girls was one she didn't like to dwell on, but the fact that he was no longer with any of them... that she was okay with. "They don't count."

"How'd you figure?"

"They weren't girlfriends," she pointed out simply, then frowned. "You've never actually been a boyfriend, have you, Noah?"

His silence and the perplexed look on his face were all the answers she needed.

"You should try it," she suggested, smiling again. "And maybe I know you better than you think." She closed her locker with a little clang, adjusted her bag on her shoulder, and turned to walk away down the empty hallway. She'd only made it halfway to the double doors that led outside when he called after her.

"Hey, Rach?"

"Yes?"

Puck shifted once, then looked at her with something she'd rarely seen in his eyes—something serious, and raw. "I'm not Finn. Dude's my boy and everything, but I can't be his substitute for you."

Her heart did something funny in her chest, and she didn't know if it was melting at his honesty or just constricting at the thought of him worrying over something like that. The sad part was, there'd been a time when she had considered using him as a Band-Aid to cover the pain of wanting Finn. The fact that he'd done the same with her, to help with his issues with Quinn, didn't make it any easier. "Good, because I'm not looking for Finn," she stated, just as honest.

He was quiet for a moment before nodding, letting that fact sink in. Rachel offered him one last smile before she turned and left the hall, thinking only that she hoped he would take her advice, just this once.

~/~

The next morning when she saw Puck, he was carrying a grape slushy for her. He didn’t really explain it, didn’t mention their conversation the day before, just handed over the drink and started talking about a dream he’d had where Super Mario was president and Princess Peach was the first lady.

It was a strange conversation, to say the least—how could a discussion on president Mario’s politics be normal?—but Rachel had to admit, it was a good way to start her day.

Over the next week, she saw more of him, talked more with him, than she ever had before. And she found that she was actually happy again, which she really hadn’t expected. It felt good having someone to talk to, someone to sit with during glee who wasn’t whispering snide comments about her under their breath.

They had the weirdest conversations, Mario and his presidential aspirations aside. More than once she found herself in the middle of a ‘should we or shouldn’t we date’ debate without even realizing it. Whenever it hit her, she just looked at him, her eyes sparkling with the laughter that she wouldn't let escape her mouth because she knew it would probably offend him.

No boy had ever chased her before, and she rather liked it—if this counted as being chased, anyway. He was certainly coming after her, finding her at her locker and at lunch and bringing up the hypothetical discussion of their dating at some point(which was beginning to feel less and less hypothetical every time she saw him). The fact that he was the one arguing against it seemed nullified by the fact that he was the one who kept returning to the issue.

And Rachel, who had always been a bit impatient, found that she didn't mind this little game they were playing. She wanted to reach the end, because she had the sneaking suspicion that she was going to win, but when each roll of the dice was a flirtation, she really couldn't complain about the time it took to reach the finish line.

When Puck told Mr. Schuester to “Chill out” one day when the teacher was about to complain about Rachel’s suggestions for song choices, she seriously had to stop herself from hugging him. She didn’t know whether or not he’d appreciate the gesture in front of everyone else.

So she waited until they were leaving the building afterward before telling him, “You’re a far better person than you think you are, Noah.”

He snorted out a laugh. “And you’re more optimistic than you should be.”

“You think I’m seeing what I want to see.”

He shrugged, looking off down the hall.

She pursed her lips thoughtfully, then shook her head. “I think you’re wrong.”

“Yeah, and what if I’m right?” He reached out a hand and pulled them both to a stop, his eyes glowering down at her.

“Then you’ll be right, and I’ll be disappointed,” she answered firmly. “But I don’t see how that’s any better than us not knowing who’s right and me still being disappointed.”

He huffed out a breath and shook his head, as if wondering over her sanity. "You've seen the shitstorm I can be."

She couldn't help it, she smirked. Honestly, she was pretty sure his smirking had rubbed off on her to begin with. "I have, yes."

"So why would you want to be with me?"

"Why wouldn't I want to be with you?"

They held each others’ gazes for a moment, a challenge issued and met, and he finally chuckled lowly. “You’re even crazier than people think, Berry, and that’s saying something.”

She smiled. “But I get what I want, don’t I?”

“Yeah,” he admitted, reaching down to take her hand in his. It felt like a perfect fit. “Yeah, shit, I guess you do.”
You're very welcome! I'm flattered that you liked it enough to want to save it. =)