Noah Puckerman was never one for details, never one
to care about things that didn’t bother to walk up to you and make themselves
known. As far as he was concerned, the Devil was in the details. The Devil in
the fine print that nearly cost his ma their house, the Devil that balanced on
Quinn’s eyelashes in every furtive look, the Devil who’d tell him to do dumb
shit like put a sliver of hope on a grape slushie and a smile that was too real
for Broadway—they were all the same.
But when he took in the shape of her calves, the curve of her lower back, the small and untamable curl the edges of her hair took, the bounce in her step, the loud and distinctive laugh that bubbled out… He decided he would sell his damn soul to the Devil just to spend the rest of his life taking in every detail of her—of Rachel Berry.
‘Course, he’d rather the choir room and Schuester and most of the other Gleeks stay in the past and out of his contract with ol’ Lucifer, but if it was a package deal, he’d take it in a heartbeat’s stutter.
Ten years hadn’t changed much. It aged them all, sliced on a couple of wrinkles, weighed down their shoulders. Deep down, even Puck and his non-detail-noticing ways could tell they were still the same ragtag crew in ripped-up jeans with a sad fascination with Journey, who managed to rule the world, even for just a little while.
He’d need about twenty shots of booze before he’d admit it, but when he walked into that choir room, the last to have arrived, it took his breath away.
Ten years ago, at this same exact time, they would’ve been running the scales, warming up for rehearsal in this very same, godforsaken room. The sun still shined the same way, floor still squeaked the same, air still smelled the same—like a time vortex or some sort of black hole that would freeze the room in some sort of sci-fi stasis.
There was Satan and Brittany, chairs tipped toward each other as they laughed the same exact way they always had in high school—Santana with her head thrown back, Brittany hunched forward and her hand on her stomach. There was Quinn, Mercedes, and Blaine ooh-ing over Kurt’s phone. Matt, Mike, and Tina sat on top of the piano, Artie at the keys, squeezing out a familiar song. Sam and Schue sat on the stools in front of the risers, guitar and ukulele strumming gently, while Finn idly spun a drumstick between his fingers. He laughed with Blaine and the girls when Kurt yelped and nearly dropped his phone to hide something.
And there she was—with her hair, her calves, big brown eyes, and the smile too perfect for Broadway—on the stool in front of Sam and Schue, another acoustic guitar on her lap as she tried to follow along with the boys.
As soon as he strode through the doors, a hand twirling a set of keys and the other in his pocket, they all turned or looked up to see him and grinned—and that was when his breathing mechanisms shorted out for a few seconds. Because no matter what stupid shit they got into or put each other through, these assholes were as much his family as Ma or Bekah.
It was the day before their class reunion and even though some of them weren’t part of that particular graduating class, it wasn’t excuse enough to exclude them from a glee club reunion. For a while, Puck dreaded it because God only knew what kind of dirty laundry would get dragged out from the bottom of the decade-old closet. God only knew what kind of drama these people could scrounge up in a single night. God only knew what could happen.
But then he was like, fuck that, because who wanted to live asking those kinds of questions? God only knew what, how, who—who cares? Certainly not him.
So he bought a plane ticket, sent his RSVP, and emailed Schue not to hold out much hope for him showing up, no promises (just to throw them off his scent). Satan texted him, I will whoop your ass if you don’t show up. Mike left him a voicemail saying, “Don’t be that guy. Even dicks come.” Sam called him eight times in an hour just to say, “You’re absolutely gonna show.” But when Rachel Berry called him and asked if he was coming, he sighed, and said, “Yeah, yeah.”
So they really shouldn’t have looked so damn surprised, but he was happy with the over-enthusiastic group hug welcome regardless.
It was easy to lapse back into their old dynamics, little cogs falling back into place even though the machine was a little rusted and dusty. As soon as the music was cranked up, like oil in the gears, the old-ass clunker shuddered back to life and whirred again.
Classics like Hall and Oats, Journey, and Destiny’s Child propelled them into the night; Katy Perry, Bruno Mars, and Maroon 5 made it back onto the rotation. They played songs that launched them back into the white-gold years that they could only remember fondly. The choreography resurfaced, thanks to Mike, Brittany, and even Matt. Finn was still as inept as he was back then, no more and no less. For the most part, harmonies were set aside, as they all just sang together for the hell of it.
Obviously, there were requests.
“Take Me or Leave Me” was the first to be unanimously demanded, everyone stamping on the risers until Rachel and Mercedes stumbled to the front, tipsy from the beers. It was immediately followed by “River Deep, Mountain High,” complete with Brittany helping Santana and Mercedes through the old choreography. And somehow, without any prompting, all of the girls shot up and brought out “Halo” and “Walking on Sunshine”—though with significantly less energy than before.
The boys were forced into their own “It’s My Life” and “Confessions Part II” mash-up while the girls took a break. Schue then orchestrated them straight into “What It Feels Like For a Girl.” Sadly enough, that somehow transitioned into a conversation about the various pregnancies that had occurred—even more surprisingly, it was led by the males.
Rachel got the brilliant idea to break that train of through by dragging Schue into a slightly-less creepy rendition of their “Endless Love” duet, which had Santana and Brittany rolling on the floor. Puck and Sam transitioned into “Bella Notte,” which somehow gave Brittany the idea to demand “Need You Now” as a follow-up.
Santana gave the characteristic “You two sicken me,” while Finn watched them with a knowing look. Granted, those were the reactions because they smiled at each other even more than they did when they performed it the first time.
It’d take another ten shots on top of the original twenty before Puck would ever admit that this was the most fun he’d had in years.
The songs slowed as the night reached toward the morning. People trickled out, sung out by remaining members. Schue, Artie, and Mercedes were the first to bow out, then Kurt and Blaine, Mike and Tina, the Unholy Trinity, and then Matt, Sam, and Finn, who were planning on celebrating their newly-christened bachelorhood at the only bar in town.
Puck wouldn’t be able to say why Rachel stayed behind with him; just like he wouldn’t be able to say why he stayed behind with her. Maybe it wasn’t even a matter of someone staying behind with someone else—it was a matter of not wanting to leave the other one. They’d barely even hung out, one-to-one, that didn’t involve some sort of sexual interaction, but even after ten years, twenty, fifty, or a century and a quarter, there was something built into their very existences that drew them to each other.
They’d played out the boys on the piano, with a sweet rendition of “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” so once the trio disappeared down the corridor, Puck and Rachel were left shoulder-to-shoulder on the bench. His every exhale had him curling closer to her, and her every inhale had her pressing closer to him.
“You know what I miss most?” Rachel asked after a few minutes of soft, errant melodies.
“How big everything was—life, dreams, problems.” She laughed, shaking her head. “Even music numbers that weren’t for competitions.”
Puck snorted. “’Singing In the Rain’ and ‘Umbrella.’”
“Exactly!” She hit a few discordant notes. “Water all over the stage, raining down…”
“Nearly slipped and cracked my head, my ass, or my face so many times,” added Puck.
“But at least you held it together like a champ,” she pointed out, nudging his hand away as she reached for a lower key. “I got relegated to the back since I could barely stay vertical.”
“I remember—you used that umbrella more to walk properly instead of spinning it around and shit.”
“I’m sure my hip still isn’t properly in its socket because of that set,” she said sourly, though the good humor still lingered in her smile. “That mash-up didn’t even make sense.”
“I stopped expecting shit to make sense the longer I knew Schue.”
She laughed, her eyes crinkling—warmth, strength, gentleness, and fire swirling into a deep brown that was all Rachel. He was so close to kissing her, the only thing that would ever make him want to interrupt her laugh.
“In his defense, he was still a Spanish teacher at the time, who had to deal with Sue Sylvester and his own personal drama,” she said. “I can totally understand why his song choices weren’t often coherent.”
Puck rolled his eyes. “Just say he’s an idiot and call it a night, baby.”
Rachel snorted, missing a key and thumping a discordant chord. “Fine—he’s an idiot.”
His smile softened as he watched her, still pulling music out of the massive instrument in spite of her slaphappy giggles. She noticed his still fingers and looked up at him.
Something passed between them—something tangible and strong and still fresh. Her smile matched his, and something gin his stomach smoothed out, thrumming and live. Its partner coursed across her face as she relaxed even more so than she already had. She let the moment linger for a second longer before turning back to the piano, both hands on it now as she began to play seriously. It was a melody that tugged on a few memories, but he couldn’t put his finger on it.
“Words like a loaded gun,” she sang. “Shot out from a fire tongue. Love lost from a fight that was won.”
And it smacked him in the face, breaking him out of his mood briefly. It was the same song Bekah had on repeat for an entire weekend he’d been home from college—a power ballad duet between old tween pop stars.
“And I can see it breaking down, the end to a falling out.”
He didn’t know enough of the chords, and he wasn’t proficient enough to just pick it up from what he’d seen of her play. He remembered enough of the lyrics, though. The damn song had been stuck in his head for weeks after.
“I got pride you can’t hold your breath,” he sang, startling her into looking up at him. “We’ll crash down like an avalanche. Look out now, don’t take one more step. We’ll crash down like an avalanche.”
Grinning, she leaned further against the piano, playing earnestly. “I never want to turn out this way. Now forever feels like yesterday. Sorry something that I just can’t say. Can you see me breaking down? The end to a falling out.”
“I got pride you can’t hold your breath.”
“Even if we survive.”
“We’ll crash down like an avalanche.”
“Crash down, crash down.”
“Look out now, don’t take one more step.”
“Even if we survive.”
“We’ll crash down like an avalanche, avalanche.”
“Crash down, crash down.”
“We’ll crash down, yeah, like an avalanche.”
She let the melody taper out even though the song wasn’t over, and she wasn’t even able to finish its fade before he reached over to cup her face as he leaned into her lips. Another discordant chord twanged through the room, leverage as she surged up to meet him. Rachel Berry—zero to a hundred-sixty, spark to an inferno.
Every girl he’d kissed had been practice—an unemotional trial run, a chore, the initial sound of the chords first being played. Rachel was the real deal, the one that made his blood boil, made his heart hammer. She strung the chords together into a flow that hummed through his soul. Just with a kiss.
God, he’d missed her so much.
Rachel smoothed her fingertips along his cheeks, skimming his ear, and digging into his close-cropped hair before scraping her nails along the nape of his neck, the tip of her tongue tracing a line along his own. Puck sucked on her lip, nibbling the way he remembered made her moan as she pulled herself onto him. He braced his feet on the floor, pushing the bench back so she had enough space to maneuver herself onto his lap, her violet dress bunching at the top of her thighs—newly-exposed territory he immediately began to explore.
She pulled her lips from his, but before he could try to get them back, she’d pressed them against his jaw, a sweet combination of soft, warm, and moist. Anatomically possible or not, it was like his spine collapsed out of alignment. The pressure of her open-mouthed kisses on his skin alone nearly had him toppling off the bench, but when she began to suck and nibble along his neck, he had to grip the underside of the keyboard to keep from falling back.
With a groan, he wrapped an arm around her waist, keeping her knees along his hips with his other hand as he pushed himself up to set her on the keys, cupping her face and kissing her deeply. His fingers threaded through her hair, brushing her cheeks with his thumbs and stroking her jaw.
Her hands—which had been busy dipping into the collar of his shirt and tracing the line of his collarbone and the hollow of his throat—smoothed down his chest, down his abs, before sneaking under his shirt and tracing back upward.
He hoisted her up again, her arms going around his neck as her legs—God almighty, those legs he could worship for the rest of his days—locked around his hips. He heard her heels drop onto the floor behind him as he walked around to set her on the edge of the piano.
He stood between her knees, taking deep breaths as she rested her forehead against his, her fingertips skimming his forearms as he stroked her thighs, calloused fingers drawing goosebumps in their wake.
She hummed softly, lifting her chin to lick his lip in a move that he thought he might’ve imagined.
“This—isn’t just—I’m not—you and me—”
She cut him off with a kiss that forced him to tug her flush against him. She reacted to the bulge in his jeans by grinding herself against him, rolling her body in a move that would’ve made any of the Cheerios blush and turn away.
“I know,” she muttered, so close to his mouth that every word was another kiss. “I’m not planning on leaving you tonight or any other night for the foreseeable future. Agreed?”
“Full agreement.” He nodded and swallowed. “Total acquiescence. Whatever.”
She chuckled and fisted his shirt, pulling him down to her lips again. As soon as he was successfully in the thrall of her kiss, her hands snaked down his shoulders to his wrists, leading them to her back and right on the zipper of her dress.
When he didn’t move, wanting her to take the lead, she strained to tug the zip down, fortunate that it was a low-backed dress. After letting her take the first few inches, he pulled it down the rest of the way and smoothed his fingertips along her bare back, kneading into her skin so she was arching up into him.
His gave her lip one last nip before ghosting over her cheeks, along her jaw, down her neck, and pushing the straps of her dress down to taste the skin of her shoulder.
Rachel jerked, gasping, and Puck wondered for the life of him how he could ever taste food normally again. She tried to shimmy out of her dress, but before they could go any lower than the tops of her breasts, Puck stopped.
“We’re not pulling a Pretty Woman, baby,” he said, his voice significantly more shaky than he cared to ever admit.
She nodded between soft pecks on his lips.
“No, seriously,” he said. “The first time we do this, we’re gonna do it on a bed, not on this hard-ass thing. Might go to hell for having sex on Brad’s pride and joy.”
Rachel snorted and let out a burble of laughter. “All right, all right,” she said, letting him slide her straps back up to her shoulders properly. “But…”
He pulled back, narrowing his eyes at her in suspicion. “What?”
“We don’t need to have sex,” she mumbled.
Puck’s eyebrows shot up. “Uh—”
“I mean, like, immediately,” she said. “We can do that later, but there’s still…other things, right? That won’t take us as far as hell.”
He grinned, chuckling. He dipped his head to kiss her softly. “Maybe purgatory.”
They moved slowly because even though her acceleration was off the charts, she knew how to bring it back to cruising speed, didn’t mean she didn’t know how to maintain.
He got her off with his fingers and his tongue on that piano—her dress around her waist, her hands on his head, her lavender lace panties in his back pocket. The way she held him and clung to him and pulled him close wasn’t frantic or needy. It was a deep yearning, a slow burning, the heat on high and constant.
He laid her on her bed and took his time, just as she took hers, flipping him over and nearly sending him slipping off the side before pinning him down with her hips. Stifled giggles, muffled moans, and soft gasps wafted around the dim room, the pink and white frills and lace replaced with flowers and jewel tones.
It was a stark contrast to the haphazard tumble of tenth grade, but at the same time, it wasn’t. they were still the same people, bringing the same kind of passion to the table. It was still just as easy to crash together, still easy to fall into the rhythm they’d barely explored.
She pulled off his clothes before he could hers, spending long moments kissing every newly-exposed portion until he was groaning and trembling beneath her. He pulled off her dress as she straddled his hips, palming her smooth shoulders before sliding down to cup her breasts, his touch drawing shivers from her body. His hands glided down to her stomach, detouring back to rub his fingertips along the dimples on the base of her back. he kneaded the joins of her hips with his thumbs, making her squirm and arch back.
She kissed him as if she was taking nibbles from a thousand-dollar cake, savoring every rich bite and letting it linger for as long as she could. He held her so naturally and so easily a part of himself that’d been separate but had seemingly reintegrated like no time had passed at all. They moved so slowly, the rhythm so easy that it’d be impossible to fumble or lose. The song was buried deep, the melody and harmony resonating through skin, muscle, and bone.
The song hit its crescendo, and they were lost. No going back, no new directions—just an old avenue that they’d ignored for so long but had waited for them, even after all this time.
Rachel lay on her stomach, hands tucked under her pillow, her face to Puck. The sheets pooled around her hips, his fingertips strumming the dips of her spine. Puck lay on his side, propped up on one elbow, more content than he’d ever been in his life.
It took a few minutes of his soft ministrations for her to stir, her eyes flickering open as she hummed.
“Morning,” he murmured.
She crawled closer so they were chest to chest again. They kissed, sweet and half-awake. “Good morning,” she mumbled against his lips.
“Great morning,” he corrected her, dropping a kiss on her nose.
“Horrible morning!” barked Leroy Berry, from right outside the bedroom door.
Rachel yelped and nearly smacked Puck in the face as she yanked the sheets up to cover her chest even though her fathers hadn’t even opened the door.
Hiram Berry, on the other hand, wasn’t nearly as upset. “Noah, would you like orange or apple juicewith breakfast? Also—we’re having rotisserie chicken tonight. Would you like mojo or lemon pepper?”
Rachel groaned and buried her face against Puck’s chest. “How did you even know?” she called.
“Hard to miss when you’re shrieking his name, Rachel!” cried Leroy. “We soundproofed your bedroom—how did you still manage to—ugh!”
“As happy as we are that you two are finally together, we’d rather not find out in the middle of the night, sweetheart,” said Hiram. “Now, Noah—about the juice and chicken?”
“Apple and lemon pepper, sir,” called Puck, chuckling and nudging his nose against Rachel’s hair, inhaling deeply.
“Okeydokey,” said Hiram. “You two are going to have to come down to eat though. We don’t offer breakfast-in-bed service.”
“Fully dressed!” screeched Leroy.
Rachel groaned again as her fathers’ footsteps thudded away. She pulled back to look at Puck worriedly. “You’re not…regretting anything, are you?”
Puck leaned back, pretending to think even though his thumb rubbed gentle swirls on the side of breast. “Well, we weren’t drunk.”
“We weren’t doing it to make anyone jealous.”
“No. Where are you going with—”
“And we’re grown-ass adults who decided that it’s high time to accept our God-mandated destiny to continue the bloodlines and—”
“Noah!” She laughed and smacked his chest and rolled them over so she could straddle him again, only this time, she rolled them both right off the bed, crashing onto the floor.
“You did this enough last night!” bellowed Leroy, his voice just as loud from the kitchen than if he was outside their door. “Take a damn break!”
Puck laughed, on his back with Rachel on his chest. He grinned up at her. “I could wake up like this every morning.”
“On the floor, with me on top of you?”
“And naked, yes,” he answered. “Though I could skip the falling. Let’s keep that figurative instead of literal.”
Rachel smiled, so wide that it infected the rest of her body so she was warm and giddy, and yeah, okay. He’d do this falling shit literally and figuratively anytime for her.