When he runs into her 4 years after high school in a bar near his apartment in New York he thinks this could be the start of something…good. Rachel Berry was always better than everyone else.
She's in a strapless black number and her hair is cut short to her chin. It's so different, but she looks older and more mature instead of the bright eyed high schooler who wanted everything too much just like him.
They talk and reminisce, laughing over some of the more ridiculous numbers from glee club and all the times Mr. Schue used to rap. They stay away from anything too serious…they both know what those subjects are.
They exchange numbers and make plans to see each other for coffee in a couple days.
When he goes to bed that night he knows they're going to end up sleeping together at some point, but it'll more than that. Rachel Berry was always different.
He won't admit to himself that's he's a little afraid. He's never had the best judgment with people.
Surely enough 3 weeks later on a Saturday morning he wakes up to soft yellow walls and teeth tugging on his nipple ring.
He's immediately hard and she rolls herself onto him without a word. All that can be heard in the room is soft groans, grunts, moans, and the slapping of their bodies together.
When she collapses next to him in a tired heap he takes a few deep breaths before jumping up to get out of the bed before he can change his mind. He quickly pulls on his clothes while she looks at him confused.
"Where are you going?"
"I have to go."
He rushes out the apartment and ignores the panging in his heart that's not just from the incredible sex they just had.
She's getting too close already.
When Puck was 8 he got his first lesson in disappointment.
His mom and dad were awesome. Sure they argued a lot and had to work too much but there were times when they went to the little diner around the corner and ate ice cream together that he wanted it like this all the time. It helped that his little sister Sarah was an adorable 1 year old that got chocolate sauce everywhere and made him giggle.
But as time went on, his mom became more and more withdrawn and never wanted to be around him or Sarah. Dad was home more and distracted them as best as he could.
Then there was one Saturday morning that he ran into his parent's room as usual and his dad was already up, sitting on his bed, and crying.
"Where's mommy dad?"
He looked up at him, with red eyes and more sad than he'd ever seen him.
"She's not here bud."
He never saw his mom again after that.
Rachel is not one to give up, and he knows this, so he's not surprised when he's still getting calls and texts from him 2 days later.
What's wrong with you? Did I do something?
I thought you changed Noah. Didn't know all I was good for was sex.
He feels bad. He does. Because he likes her. She makes him laugh with all the stories she has of the narcissistic stars of the off Broadway show she works on. And she seems genuinely interested in his senior thesis for his architecture major.
It's just that good things never happen for him. They just don't.
Santana Lopez was his first everything. Contrary to popular belief, Finn was not his first best friend. Santana lived next door to Puck and after his mom left their friendship grew stronger due to his dad having to work longer hours and needing a place to send his kids.
She was so similar to him and they caused Mrs. Lopez so much worry and strife with all their mischief.
But hey she could have appreciated the work of art they made on the wall in Santana's bedroom.
As they get older in age, so do their bodies, and Puck begins to notice how pretty Santana is.
Naturally they kiss.
Unlike their future selves, it's soft, gentle, and innocent. Just like a first kiss should be.
They lose their virginities to each other at age 15 because it makes sense and everyone keeps talking about it.
They fumble around on Puck's bed, awkward limbs intertwining with sloppy kisses, but the trust and how much they know each other trumps all of that. It's beautiful. It's like he's given himself fully to the one person who has always been there.
2 weeks later she breaks up with him and everyone is talking about how she and Dave Karofsky did it in the back of his car.
Then there's Azimio in Sarah Ferguson's bathroom.
And Larry Cook on her bed while her mom is work.
Finn becomes his best friend after all of this.
Its been 4 days and he's sitting on his couch ready for a night of working on this thesis. He's been slacking for awhile but he's really excited about it. When the inspiration hits you've got to go with it.
He hears a knock on the door and figures it's the Chinese food he ordered. He grabs his wallet off the coffee table and opens the door to instead find Rachel.
"Well apparently you're not dead," she scoffs as she looks at him.
He wants to just shut the door but he can't do that to her, especially when she looks the way she does. She has these tight jeans with black boots on and a navy blazer with a black tank. It's hot ok. She's hot. You don't close the door on a hot woman.
She pushes him out of the way and walks into the apartment.
"You want to explain your hasty exit from my apartment now since you can't seem to do it via phone?"
"Well I'm sorry but I had to go. I had shit to do-"
"At 9am? Bullshit."
"Yeah well…you know how I work Berry this isn't anything serious."
She laughs. He doesn't really expect that from her.
"Once again. Bull. Shit. We were having fun Noah. You know we were. And Friday night was…incredible. It was more than sex Noah it was the talking and dinner and everything else. You're just scared."
He glares at her. "Excuse me? What do you think you know about Berry huh? Because we've hung out a lot and had sex one night you're suddenly an expert on my feelings?"
"It's more than that Noah. I've known you for years."
"We weren't close in high school."
"That doesn't mean I don't have eyes. I remember when your mom left you when we were kids. I remember my dads bringing your family some food so you wouldn't go hungry sometimes because your dad was so busy. I also remember freshman year when Santana got on the Cheerios and decided to have sex with almost every guy in our class except for you. I should remember because you started throwing slushies at me after that."
He flinches at the mention of that. He's not proud of those slushie attacks.
"And then…I remember sophomore year. And Quinn and how-"
"No. No we're not talking about that. Get out Rachel."
Her eyes go wide at his gruff voice. He's never talked to her this way before.
She doesn't move from her spot so he moves to her so that they're inches apart and towers over her.
"You don't know jack shit about me Rachel. Get out. Go."
She nods sadly and walks out of the apartment.
Quinn is supposed to be different.
She's blonde, innocent, president of the celibacy club. She's just what Puck needs.
They dance around each other for months starting in the summer after freshman year. Once sophomore year comes he flirts more and she giggles and blushes and scampers off to class with her cheerios skirt swinging alluringly.
It's one night before Winter Break when he's walking her home from Dave Karofsky's party that he finally works up the courage to kiss her and she actually kisses him back. They make out on some random street for a few minutes before she finally mentions that her parents are out of town for the night and he should come over because she hates being alone.
It all happens so fast that he hardly remembers it, but they're both kind of drunk and Puck hasn't wanted something so bad before.
The morning after is awkward and they don't talk as much in school after that. She avoids him most of the time.
4 months later he hears she's pregnant from Finn of all people who heard it from Brittany.
He goes straight to her locker where she's packing up books and throwing away things in the trash.
"Is it true? You're pregnant? What are we going to do?"
He has so many questions, so many hopes. But it all comes down to a baby. A little person that would always love him and never leave him.
"No. No it's not what we're going to do, it's me. You don't get to be a part of this. This is your fault. I'm leaving school. My parents are making us move."
He's stunned at this cold callous girl that is telling him this news unflinchingly. The Quinn he knows isn't like this.
"But…but I'd take care of you two. We could be a family it doesn't have to be like this!"
She laughs. "That's cute Puck but…no. That's not going to happen. I don't want a family with you Puck. You were a mistake."
She throws away the last piece of paper, closes her locker, and walks away from him.
He might have a kid out there somewhere…or it might be dead before it had a chance. He doesn't know.
He's sitting at a coffee shop one afternoon doing some reading when he hears Rachel's laugh. He'd know it anywhere.
She's sitting at a table with a blonde guy talking closely and giggling occasionally. Her smile is infectious and he knows how good it feels when you put it on her face.
His blood boils that it's some other guy and not him.
He slams his book shut, gathers his things up quickly, and storms out of the café. He can feel her eyes on him as he does.
He gets a text 15 minutes later.
I'm not dating him. We work together. Can we talk?
He relents for once.
He goes to her apartment that night and she's in a wifebeater and worn out jeans but it's still so sexy. He doesn't know how she does it.
"I'm sorry if I made you mad earlier today. He's a co-worker and a good friend."
"Why should it make any difference to me? We're not dating."
She crosses her arms and smirks at him. "Yeah that explains your storm out. Almost as good as my diva exits back in high school."
He smiles a little despite himself.
"I like you Noah. And I get you're nervous. You think I'm not too? I'm scared out of my mind of starting something serious because I've been disappointed before. So many times. Just like you. But because you know how that disappointment feels I trust you more. You know how much it hurts."
He avoids looking at her because he knows she's right but he just wants to fight her on this. It's so much easier to go through life not feeling for anyone and putting himself in that position. His mom, Santana, Quinn…they all had a piece of him and they walked away with it. He can't get that back.
He doesn't want Rachel to be part of that list.
He hears her softly walk up to him and her hand cups his jaw and moves his face towards her. She stands on her tip toes to give him a tender kiss on the cheek and whispers, "I wouldn't hurt you. I wouldn't just leave you. I'm not them Noah."
He wraps his arms around her waist to bring her closer and she reaches around to the back of his neck to bring his face down to hers. Their lips touch and move languidly against each other, with patience. There's no rush.
She breaks away and looks up at him biting her lip. "Stay?"
What they have is messy. It's passionate, happy, angry, it's everything. They fight sometimes. He has to go to another room so he doesn't say something he shouldn't. But then they make up and he knows he wouldn't be able to leave this, leave her. But they're happy. They're happy sitting on benches in Central Park drinking coffee and watching the birds. They're happy when she gives him a special look from her place on stage at her show.
The most important thing is that neither of them ever leave. They have too much of each other at this point to ever do that.