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Title: Breakaway, Part 2/?
Author: Sapphire ([livejournal.com profile] sapphiresfic)
Fandom: Glee
Pairing/Characters: Puckleberry (Puck/Rachel), Puck, Rachel, other Glee characters
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 7,013
Spoilers: This part to '3x14 - On My Way'; whole series will be through the Glee season 3 finale.
Series: 'Breakaway' (List of all the parts on my LJ)... Also follows my LJ Lark series. So far 'Part 1 - Breaking The Rules' and 'Part 2 - Something To Talk About'.
Fic Table prompt: #31 - Space (table at my journal here).
Summary1: Alternate, deleted and additional scenes leading to Puckleberry being endgame by the end of season 3. Parallels with my LJ Lark series. Slightly AU after the end of '3x11 - Michael'. Posted in honor of Puckleberry Week. For fic table prompt #31 - Space.
Summary2: Episode '3x14 - On My Way'
Disclaimer1: I don't own Glee, so I'm just borrowing the characters and ideas for the fun of writing, *but* I do own the original characters, original plot and other original ideas.
A/N1: I edited this, so all mistakes are mine.
A/N2: Feedback keeps me writing, so please comment or review. :D
Disclaimer2: Title from one of my favorite Kelly Clarkson songs 'Breakaway'. Just borrowing. I don't own!

Warning: This chapter mentions and deals with the attempted suicide that is dealt with in this episode.


~*~

A/N3: This chapter is dedicated to all those who've been lost to suicide, attempted suicide and / or the people who've been touched by it in any way. When I was a Junior in high school, a fellow Junior I didn't know well, but some of my friends did, committed suicide. I'll never forget the day when the school found out. Not easy at all. His locker was just a few feet away from mine... I'll also never forget the day my mom got the call from her nephew that his wife committed suicide. That was in January 2010. I was actually in the middle of editing and updating a chapter of 'Out of the Blue', one of my other Puckleberry fics... It's not easy to deal with at all and I want you to know that no matter what, someone is there for you! If you ever need to talk, my inbox is ALWAYS open here and on Tumblr, Twitter, LJ...

Disclaimer3: Any familiar lines from the episode listed have been underlined... Just borrowing them! I don't own!

~*~

3x14 - On My Way

~*~

As school ended for the day, Rachel made her way towards her locker. She was meeting Kurt at the Lima Bean in a little while and wanted to make sure she had her homework before she left school for the day. Spinning the combination of her lock, she pulled her door open and gasped at what she saw. Inside was a single, long-stem yellow rose with a small tag hanging from a ribbon, wrapped around the stem. Reaching in, she took the rose out and glanced up and down the hallway to see if anyone was watching her.

She didn't see anyone familiar, so she returned her attention to the item in her hands and flipped the tag over to read what was written. "Rachel, just a gift to say 'hi'! Your Secret Admirer," the message read. She smiled brightly at the thoughtful gift, but part of her was upset the words had been typed on a computer and printed out, so she couldn't figure out who was sending them. "Who are you? I do appreciate the thoughtfulness, but I wish I knew who you were to thank you properly. And how did you know my locker combination? You must be someone I know well," she thought.

Her phone beeped in her pocket and she pulled it out, finding a message from Kurt that he was already at the coffee shop, so she responded that she was on her way and gathered her things. Holding onto the rose, she closed her locker and headed out to the parking lot, unable to wipe the smile off her face. She didn't know who was her Secret Admirer, but they'd already done two things that Finn had never done and it only confirmed what she'd felt all along; Finn wasn't 'the one'.

~*~

Walking into the Lima Bean, with her school bag over her shoulder and the flower in a hand, Rachel waved at Kurt as she took her place in the short line. After a few moments, with a drink in hand, she joined him. "Hey! Sorry I was a bit late," she said, setting the flower and her drink down on the table.

"It's okay. I had these to keep me company," he motioned to several fashion magazines on the table. "Who is the flower from?" Kurt wondered.

"My Secret Admirer," she replied, flipping the tag over so he could see it as she took her jacket off and hung it on the back of her chair, "I don't know who they are."

"Wow! Is it the same person who sent you the song last week?" He asked, surprised.

"I'm assuming it is. It was inside my locker, so it's got to be someone who knows me," she sighed, "it's not you, is it?"

"Me? No!" Kurt shook his head, "and honey, anyone who knows you will figure out your combination is Barbra's birthday, 4-24-42," he added with a grin.

Rachel blushed and nodded, "I suppose it would be easy to figure out," she bit her lip. "I... This definitely makes me happy, but on the other hand, they're being even more secretive because they didn't write the note by hand. It's frustrating," she admitted, frowning slightly.

"I'm sure they just don't want you to figure out who it is until they're ready for you to know. Guys aren't always easy with this stuff," Kurt told her, "and speaking of knowing something, is there anything going on between you and Puck? Because honestly, I was really shocked to see you two at Sugar's party together," Kurt added, sipping his coffee.

"Are you asking me as my friend or as my ex-boyfriend's step-brother?" Rachel wondered.

"Your friend," he replied, "yes, your ex is my step-brother and we're trying to be brothers, but I told you I was on your side and I mean it. As your friend, I'm just curious about you and want to know if you have any new budding romances in your life."

Rachel blushed at his comment, "Noah is a great guy, but we're just friends. I just broke up with Finn. I'm definitely not looking for a boyfriend. I'm better off being single right now, but I can have guy friends. I need to focus on my NYADA audition and of course, Regionals," she explained, clearing her throat when she noticed Sebastian walking towards them.

"Well, well, well, if it isn't a young Barbra Streisand and an old Betty White. Where's your pirate sidekick?" Sebastian asked with a smirk.

Kurt rolled his eyes and glanced at Rachel, "we can't come here, anymore," he sighed.

Sebastian was holding a brown envelope, "Rachel, I, uh, brought an engagement gift for you," he said, holding it out to her.

"I'm not engaged," Rachel told him, setting her coffee cup down, "so you can keep whatever you're trying to hand over."

"Oh, what a shame. Well, I suppose you can use it as inspiration for your next original song," Sebastian laughed, continuing to hold the envelope out to her.

Rachel glanced at Kurt and reluctantly took the item from him. Finding the flap, she started to pull out a glossy sheet of paper and immediately saw a severely altered, naked photo of 'Finn' staring back at them, wearing a pair of heels, "oh my god! Ew!" She exclaimed dropping the photo onto the pile of magazines at their table.

"Whoa, whoa!" Kurt gasped, his hand darting out to cover the center portion of the photo, "that's just totally wrong!"

"That is Photoshopped! His thing is not that small, or brown," Rachel added, scrunching up her nose in disgust and flipping the picture over so they didn't have to look at it anymore.

"And he could never fit into those pumps," Kurt added, glaring at Sebastian.

"Just think, from now until eternity, every time someone Googles 'Finn Hudson' they'll be treated to that and dozens just like it. That's the beauty of the internet. It stays with us forever," Sebastian commented casually.

"What do you want, Sebastian?" Rachel asked, unable to look at him in the eyes and knowing he was up to something.

"McKinley gets home court advantage this year, so I want you to make up some excuse why you can't perform at Regionals," he looked right at Rachel, "and then drop out. Simple as that. Then New Directions won't have their star singer and it guarantees me and The Warblers will win at Regionals."

"That's blackmail!" Rachel snapped.

Sebastian shrugged, "you have twenty-four hours to drop out, Rachel, or I press the upload button," he smiled and then turned and walked away, leaving Rachel and Kurt stunned.

~*~

Kurt and Rachel agreed to not say anything about the picture until the next day during Glee, but they did let Mr. Schuester know that morning. When Finn saw the picture, he was disgusted, mortified, and it fueled his desire to beat up Sebastian. He got as far as standing up and walking a few feet, with Blaine, Mike and Puck joining him, before Will stepped in front of them, "Finn, chill!"

"No, Mr. Schue, I'm not gonna chill!" Finn snapped.

Sam and Artie, when they first heard everything, had gone into Will's office to get the rule book, and at that moment, the two came out, Sam pushing Artie's wheel chair as Artie read the book, "the official show choir rule book states that 'any real or perceived threat of violence, vandalism or humiliation will be met with unquestionable disqualification of the threatening party's team'. It's right here, Page 72, bylaw 15, section 6, article 44."

"Guys, I contacted the headmaster at Dalton, but now it's out of my hands," Will said sadly.

"They're not going to do anything," Blaine commented.

"It doesn't matter. I'm not dropping out of Regionals because of this. We're not going to let them beat us like this," Rachel replied, shrugging her shoulders in her seat as Blaine, Puck and Mike returned to their chairs.

"So you're just gonna be selfish and let him do this?" Finn snapped, glaring at her.

"I'm not being selfish! I'm just not going to let Sebastian get what he wants!" Rachel retorted.

"I hate to say this, but you guys are just gonna have to deal with things like this. The more successful you get, the more garbage people are going to make up about you. They're gonna love to tear you down," Will told them truthfully.

Finn shook his head and stared at Rachel, "I can't believe you'd do that to me. I know we broke up and you're pissed at me because I embarrassed you in front of everyone when I tried to propose again, but I didn't think you'd stoop this low. Is this just to get back at me?"

"No, it isn't and I don't understand why all of a sudden you're so concerned about this!" Rachel exclaimed, getting up to face him, "we've always been the losers and the freaks around this school. People tease us, they throw slushies in our faces, call us names and try to start rumors about us. We never backed down to them, so I don't know why we would start now. Mr. Schuester is right. Sebastian is only doing this because he knows we're better than they are and figures this is the only chance they have to win. We're not going to let them," Rachel said, standing her ground.

"I agree with Rachel," Puck said from his seat a few feet away, "she's right and I can't believe I'm gonna say this, but the best way to get back at them is going to be beating their asses at Regionals."

Rachel turned to Puck and smiled at him, "thank you, Noah."

"No problem," he shrugged.

"Yeah, there is a problem! You're not the one who's getting a embarrassing Photoshopped picture of yourself posted on the internet!" Finn exclaimed, then looked at Rachel, "maybe I should Photoshop a picture of you and post it online. Then how would you feel?"

"Finn, stop it!" Rachel stomped her foot on the floor, "now you're being the selfish one! You're expecting me to give up my last Regionals competition just because you don't want some stupid, fake picture of you posted online. I already missed Sectionals because of a choice I made and I am damn sure not going to do it again, for anything, so for once why don't you try to think about someone else besides yourself!"

Finn glared at her and shook his head, "wow! Nice to know how you really feel about me," he said, "I guess it's a good thing we broke up," he added, turning and walking out of the classroom.

"Yes it is!" She yelled after him, refusing to let him get the last word in.

~*~

After Glee, Puck caught up with Rachel at her locker, "hey, Rachel. Are you okay?"

"Yes, Noah, I am. Thank you for asking and thank you for agreeing with me in Glee," she replied with a smile.

"Like I said, no problem. You're right. Without you singing during Regionals, we don't stand a chance at winning," he told her truthfully.

Rachel smiled at his compliment, "thanks. I'm sure that's not quite true, but I appreciate it anyway."

"It's true. Then again, maybe I'm biased because I've got your back," Puck shrugged.

"Noah, if I ask you something, will you promise me you won't be upset because I do?" She asked nervously.

"You just did ask me something, but I promise I won't be upset. What's up?" Puck asked, raising a curious eyebrow at her.

Biting her lip, she took a deep breath, "why are you being so nice to me? I know we agreed we're friends and friendships start at all sorts of times, but we've hardly spoken all year. Is it because I was with Finn? I hate to admit I'm a little worried you have another reason to become friends."

"I'll be honest, probably a part of me wanted to keep my distance from you because given my history with Finn and his girlfriends, I didn't want him to think I was trying to steal his girl, again. Another reason is because I've just realized that we graduate soon and there are some people that I want to be friends with after we're out of school and you're one of them," he admitted looking at her, "and I don't have any secret reason why I want to be friends," he promised.

"I really want to be friends with you after we graduate, too, Noah," she smiled at him, motioning down the hallway and he fell into step as she started walking in that direction, "and I'm sorry I asked, but I just needed to, you know?"

"Yeah, I get it. Don't be sorry. You have every right to ask," he assured her, "and now you know."

"Yes, now I know," she agreed.

~*~

At the end of the day, Rachel went back to her locker and opened it up, not as surprised as she had been the day before when she found a gift from her 'Secret Admirer'. This time it was a large gold star with an 'R' engraved into it, hanging from a key chain and this typed message was, "Can't wait to hear you sing at Regionals. I know you'll be amazing. You are a star! Your Secret Admirer."

Rachel smiled brightly, her fingers brushing over the gold star, "thank you, Secret Admirer," she whispered, pressing a light kiss to the cool metal, "and again, I really wish I knew who you were," she thought glancing down the hallway to see if she recognized anyone and when she didn't, she sighed, "please don't take too long to tell me who you are, because I'd really like to know."

~*~

As news began to spread all over the school from Principal Figgins, Emma, Will, Sue and Coach Beiste about their former classmate, Dave Karofsky, attempting suicide, the entire school was full of mixed emotions. No one was really sure how to feel. Those who didn't know Dave Karofsky well tried to just shrug it off, but many who knew him were pretty emotional.

Suicide was not an easy topic to deal with and everyone was realizing that life was too short to hold petty grudges, so those who'd had issues in the past few days were starting to make amends, which is what lead Finn to walk up to Rachel while she was at her locker, "hey Rachel, can I talk to you?" Finn asked softly.

Rachel turned a little, "hello, Finn. What can I help you with?" She asked, part of her still upset about the events of the day before in Glee.

"Look, I, um, wanted to say I'm sorry for Glee yesterday," he said honestly.

As much as she wanted to continue to be mad at him, she took a deep breath, "apology accepted and," she bit her lip, "I suppose I should apologize for not being more considerate about how you felt about it."

Finn nodded, "yeah. I guess we both have things to apologize for."

"Yes," she nodded, "I think what Dave tried to do woke us up and helped us realize that life's too short to be mad or upset about little things, compared to the big things in our lives."

"It did and," Finn took a deep breath, "I'd be okay if you performed at Regionals."

Rachel smirked, "I was always going to."

"Oh, okay," he nodded, "um, I also get why you told me 'no'. We are too young to get married and I think I just needed some time to realize that," he told her, "so, um, do you think we could still be friends?"

"Yes, I think we can be," Rachel replied, holding out her hand to him.

Finn took her hand in his and shook it, "cool," he nodded at her, "so I'll see you later, friend."

Rachel nodded and smiled, "see you later, Finn."

~*~

Walking away from Finn, Rachel noticed Puck down the hallway and skipped over to him, "hey, Noah."

"Hey, Rachel. What's up?" He asked, glancing at her.

"I was wondering if you could do something for me," she admitted, thoughts of her own from that day surfacing after Finn's apology and wanted to get them off her chest.

Puck had seen Rachel talking to Finn, so he stopped and sighed, "what did Finn do this time and do you want me to knock some sense into him?"

Rachel's eyes narrowed in confusion and then waved off his offer, "no, nothing like that. This has nothing to do with Finn," she promised.

"Okay, good. Then I'm all ears," he said, pausing at his own locker.

"I was hoping, well, I know we've talked about being friends and I just... Yesterday we said we wanted to be friends after graduation and I want you to promise me that you meant it. That we'll keep in touch after graduation. I don't want to lose your friendship," she admitted, looking up at him, "and I... there's something else," she bit her lip.

"I promise we'll keep in touch," Puck replied honestly, "and what else?"

"I know what you did with, um, Shelby," she said keeping her voice low.

Puck swallowed nervously. If there was one time he regretted sleeping with a cougar, it was that moment. He knew she knew about it; the whole club did, "look, Rach, I..."

Rachel reached up and pressed a finger to his lips, "no, Noah, I don't want to know anything more than what I already do. It really disgusted me, but with this whole Karofsky thing, I realized that life's too short. I'm not going to let myself continue to be sickened by it. I'm sure you had your reasons and maybe one day I'll be comfortable talking about it, but right now I'd like you to know that I forgive you... I'm still kind of upset by it, but I'll get over it, because I don't want either of us to worry it will ruin our friendship. It's done, over with and in the past, okay?"

"Okay," Puck sighed, surprising himself that it felt like a weight had been lifted off his shoulders, "that's, um, awesome. Thanks, Rachel."

~*~

Meeting for Glee in the auditorium the next day, Will had all the students, even Artie, sit on the stage in a large circle to talk; what happened with Karofsky really had affected him. Rachel chose to sit between Puck and Mike and everyone was definitely a little confused when Will brought out a jar of peanut butter. He explained that Rory, their Irish exchange student, had never tasted it before and it was to show his point that they had a lot of things in their lives left to do, even if it was something as simple as tasting a new food item. "I want you to promise me that no matter how depressed you get, no matter how hopeless or alone you feel, you'll try your best to imagine all of the amazing experiences you have ahead of you," Will said, looking around at each of them.

When Mercedes mentioned that she didn't think anyone there would ever think of trying what Dave tried, Will admitted he had when he was a Junior in high school. He'd gotten caught cheating and he got so upset and scared about what his dad would think, he went to the roof of the school and almost jumped off of it.

The teens were stunned to hear him talk like that and Kurt was the one to ask if he was telling the truth, "that day, I promise you, felt like it was the end of the world, but you know what? It wasn't... For some of you, getting caught cheating isn't a big deal," he looked at Puck, who had made a comment about doing it all the time, "but there's something. Everyone has something that might take them up to that edge. Look at all the things I would have missed out on. I would never have met you guys, or Emma. I would have missed out on everything. So right now, I want you all to think of something that you're looking forward to. Big things," Will requested, his eyes looking around the circle of students on the stage.

Everyone did have something big, to them, that they were looking forward to. Mercedes mentioned she'd like to meet Rachel's children, causing Rachel to blush, duck her head, but smiled and nodded at Mercedes. Rachel also shared a glance with Puck. He was sitting next to her, and she wasn't quite sure what made her look at him, but she was met with a smile and something sparked in her that she hadn't felt in quite a while, but wasn't quite sure what 'it' was.

Moving on to other dreams, Puck took his turn, "I'm sorta embarrassed to admit it, but I really do want to graduate high school," he said, feeling something on his knee and glanced to see Rachel's hand rubbing it gently. They shared a smile and then returned their focus to the others talking.

Everyone had something important they were dreaming of and when it was Rachel's turn, she smiled, "I'm looking forward to being friends with all of you for the rest of my life," she admitted. She'd left her hand on Puck's kneel and gently squeezed it as she glanced around at her friends, before her eyes returned to him. She was surprised that she'd kept her hand on his knee, but she wanted him to know she was there for him. They'd already talked about it the day before, but it was almost like a silent promise from her that she meant it and the smile he gave her, and the fact that he wasn't shaking off her touch, told her he felt the same way.

~*~

Will and all the teens agreed they were all looking forward to Regionals the next day and hoping they won. The day before, Santana, Brittany, Blaine and Kurt went to confront Sebastian and after what happened to Karofsky, Sebastian realized it wasn't 'fun and games' anymore and promised he destroyed all of the pictures of Finn and wanted the Warblers to win fair and square, even promising to dedicate their performance to Dave and ask for donations to one of Lady Gaga's charities.

Finn was relieved the pictures were gone, but the teens weren't completely 'okay' with what Sebastian had done. They all knew the best way to get back at him was to beat the Warblers, which is why Will had also called the club to meet in the auditorium. He wanted them to have one more practice before Regionals the next day. They only had time to go through their songs once, but even that final time, the teens were satisfied and confident that they were ready to crush Dalton.

After practice, the teens went their own ways and Rachel had a lot on her mind. Confidence for Glee was nothing compared to thoughts she kept having. During the rest of her day, she decided to talk to her dads and see if they'd be okay having the whole club over after Regionals, win or lose, and she also was thinking about her 'Secret Admirer' and the gifts they'd been leaving in her locker, but front and center were the few silent moment's she's shared with Puck in the auditorium, sparking confusing feelings in her. She enjoyed being friends with him, but part of her thought back to all the good times they'd shared and she couldn't help wondering if there was a chance for something else, something more between them.

Opening her locker when she reached it, she blushed, seeing a necklace hanging from one of the hooks, with a gold star pendant hanging from it. She read the typed message and smiled, "Something to wear at Regionals? Break a leg, star! You Secret Admirer." Tears filled her eyes and they quickly began to fall. The week had been rough, and with all the confusing feelings she was having about Puck and the frustration of not knowing who her Secret Admirer was, she finally cracked from all the emotions.

She didn't expect anyone to walk up to her, so when Puck did, asking if she was alright, she jumped and gasped in shock, "oh, Noah. You scared me," she murmured, wiping her eyes.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to. I just was walking down the hall and saw you didn't look very happy. Did you not like that?" He motioned to what was in her hand.

"Oh, this?" She blushed, looking at the star again, "I love it, actually. It's another gift from my Secret Admirer," she explained, pocketing the small gift and turning to look at him, "it's not that I'm unhappy. I am happy, but this week has just been rough, with what Dave tried and I'm frustrated because I haven't figured out who my Secret Admirer is yet and they've been more thoughtful in the past few weeks than Finn ever was in our entire relationship. That just confirms what I know is right, that Finn isn't 'the one' for me. I keep wondering if this person is just a friend who's trying to cheer me up because they know I just broke up with Finn, or if it's someone who has had feelings for me, but never acted on them because I was with him and now that we're not together anymore, they feel they can pursue me, but are nervous about outing themselves to me right now... And now's a hell of a time to start, when we're graduating in a few months," she sighed, "I'm sorry to be dropping this on you, but you asked and I... there's more, but I think you get it," she murmured, not wanting to tell him about the confusing feelings she had for him.

Puck didn't like dealing with female emotions, but he dropped his bag on the floor and wrapped his arms around her gently, "everything happens for a reason. This week has been tough on all of us and emotions are high. Tomorrow is Regionals and we're all nervous, which I'm sure is part of this, too. Your Secret Admirer may not want to stress you out before Regionals, by showing themselves and you not feeling the same. They'll come around, just give them time."

Sinking against his chest, Rachel relaxed, feeling safe and comfortable in his strong arms. "I missed this feeling," she thought, realizing that she never felt that way with Finn, "thank you, Noah. I needed this," she admitted, looking up at him.

"You're welcome," he smiled at her, reaching up to wipe her eyes, "come on, no crying. Have a little adventure with your Secret Admirer and think of it as a good thing. They're giving you the space you need to get over Finn, so they won't just be your rebound."

Rachel blushed, but nodded, taking a deep breath, "yes, I suppose you're right. A little adventure is good at times. Thanks, you always know the right things to say."

"No problem. I guess since I'm usually the cause of girls issues, I've learned from my mistakes," he explained with a shrug, "want me to walk you to your car?"

"Sure," she smiled, wiping her eyes again and taking a deep breath, "that would be great!"

~*~

With Regionals being held at McKinley that year, the Glee Club chose to wear their costumes to the school, to save time getting ready. Dropping off their belongings in the choir room, and after Will did a head count to make sure everyone was there, they went to take their seats in the designated area for them and Rachel opted to sit with Puck and Artie.

"You're wearing it," Puck commented, motioning to the gold star necklace she had on.

Rachel's hand reached up to touch it and smiled, "well, my Secret Admirer did mention I could wear it to Regionals," she replied, "and I do love gold stars."

"That you do," he agreed, "are you feeling better after yesterday?"

"Yes," Rachel nodded, "I am. Thank you for asking."

"Good. Because we need your focus on right now," he winked at her.

"I promise," she rested her hand on his knee, "I'm totally focused on right now."

~*~

True to Sebastian's word, The Warblers dedicated their performance to Karofsky and asked for donations to Lady Gaga's charity. During their songs, New Directions along with the entire audience stood up and cheered them on, trying to be supportive.

The Golden Goblets went on next and after their song, New Directions returned to the choir room to finish getting ready. Just before going on, Will joined them, "alright, guys, listen up! Don't let them get into your heads, okay? Stay focused on what we do best," he suggested, glancing around.

"Show circle time, come on, let's huddle up!" Artie called out, rolling into the center of the room.

"Rachel, didn't you want to say something?" Will wondered.

"Oh, yes," Rachel nodded, standing between Blaine and Will, "for some of us, this is our last Regionals competition and I know we've been through a lot over the years, some more than others," she glanced around, "and after the competition, win or lose, I'm inviting everyone over to my house for snacks. My dads are totally okay with it and I just thought we could spend some time all together as friends. It's nothing fancy, but you're all welcome to come, you, too, Mr. Schue," she held out a hand and everyone began to add theirs to the center of the group, "New Directions on three?"

"One, two, three, New Directions!" They all exclaimed, clapping and making their way towards the door

~*~

As Rachel and the guys moved onto the stage to take their places, Puck glanced at Rachel and they shared a smile, nodding at each other, as the lights dimmed and the music began.

The girls joined everyone else on stage after a few moments and they all got through their mash-up of 'Fly' and 'I Believe I Can Fly'. New Directions brought the entire audience to their feet and as they finished, everyone except Mercedes, Brittany and Santana left the stage. As promised when the three girls rejoined New Directions, they and the former members of the Troubletones got to perform one song at competition and this time they were performing Kelly Clarkson's hit 'What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger)'.

While the rest of New Directions stayed behind the curtain backstage, Rachel stood watching and listening to the girls' song and couldn't help the feeling that they were singing to Finn, for her. She was stronger without him. She could do what she wanted, when she wanted and didn't have to think of him and what he thought. If they had gotten engaged, he would have ruined her life, in more ways than one. She realized Finn didn't belong in New York. He wasn't that type of guy and she probably would have been forced to choose between him and New York, and even though she had dreamed of Broadway all her life, she was afraid her feelings of 'love' for him would have made her choose to be with him, giving up New York, which was unacceptable to her. She knew she shouldn't let anything stand in the way of getting to New York, a guy included, and was glad she'd woken up and made the right decision to turn down his proposal.

Turning a little, she smiled at Puck who was standing next to her, "shouldn't you guys be going up to the balconies?" She asked softly.

He shrugged, "I'll get there. Wanted to say, uh," he rubbed his neck, "break a leg, right? That's what they say?"

Rachel smiled at him, "yes, it is. Thanks, Noah," she nudged him in the arm, "now go, all of you, so you can get into your places," she added, noticing all the guys were still down there.

"Damn, alright, we're going," Puck laughed lightly and took the hint.

"Hey, Noah," she called out lightly, before he got too far away, "break a leg."

Puck nodded at her and followed the guys up to the small balconies above the auditorium, where they'd be singing their last song from.

~*~

Stepping onto the stage for their final song, 'Here's To Us', Rachel took a deep breath and began singing. The song could be taken to mean it was a boyfriend and girlfriend, having drinks and celebrating their relationship, not caring what others thought. When the song was picked, Rachel and Finn were still together and she related to the song, but now it made her slightly uncomfortable to be singing it, but she remained professional and put on the best show she could.

Now that she'd had some time to think about it, she realized it fit for her and the friends she'd made with her fellow Glee members. They'd all had their issues over the years, and ten years in the future, they could look back and toast to the tough times and the friendships they'd made, the feelings they had and the experiences they shared; it didn't have to mean it was only for a couple; it could be dedicated to their friendships, too.

When the girls joined her on stage and the guys began singing from the balconies above the auditorium, the audience was all standing and cheering them on and Rachel could see her dads proud faces. That made her extremely happy, to see them in the audience.

Glancing up above, she saw Puck and Finn standing together and she smiled at both of them, her friends, and the two nodded back to her. She hoped Finn didn't take it to mean anything else, because she was done with a romantic relationship with him, for good. Puck, on the other hand, she couldn't deny the building feelings she had for him.

As she sang the last of the song and she and the girls hugged on stage, she agreed with herself that the best thing for her was to take time for herself at that moment. She needed space to completely get over Finn and the drama from that, she needed time to focus on her NYADA audition and the end of school, she had a 'Secret Admirer' that though was nice, she wasn't sure if she'd ever find out who that person was and she wanted to get to be better friends with Puck before she even thought of pursuing him romantically, because she wasn't even sure he liked her as more than friends. The best thing for her, at that moment, was just to take everything slow, and like Puck had said the day before, 'everything happens for a reason', so if something between them was meant to be, it'd happen... in time.

The guys had quickly returned to the stage, while the audience gave a very long standing ovation and once everyone was together, the shared one last bow before everyone filed off and headed back to the choir room to wait for the judges to pick the winners.

~*~

Hugs were shared among the teens in the choir room, everyone's adrenaline pumping from their performance and the anxiety of waiting to find out if they won.

"You were amazing out there," Puck said, wrapping his arms around Rachel in a hug.

"Thanks," she smiled happily and returned his hug, sparks going off all of her body at his touch, "so were you."

"Nah, I was only out there for really one song. You did a hell of a lot more than I did," he replied, shrugging off the compliment. "So, party at your place?"

Rachel nodded, "yes. I figure most everyone will want to go home and change, but yeah, as soon as it's over. You are coming, right?"

Puck nodded, "yeah, I'll be there. Glee Club unity and all," he winked and glanced up as Will walked into the choir room.

"They've made their decision, so we need to go out onto the stage," Will commented, motioning to the door.

"Wow! That was quick," Rachel admitted, slipping her arm around Puck's and guiding him towards the door.

"Uh, okay, I guess we're going," Puck laughed lightly, surprised she was pulling him along, but didn't mind... They were friends after all.

~*~

As the three groups of teens stood on the stage, everyone nervously waited to find out their fate. The Golden Goblets took third place, leaving The Warblers and New Directions in competition for first place. Rachel glanced behind her and found Puck just a few feet away and she smiled at him briefly, before turning back to look at the judge, and within seconds he read the name of McKinley as the winning school.

The audience began cheering for them and the teens of New Directions began jumping up and down, tears falling and hugs and high fives being passed around as Will was handed their trophy.

Rachel shared a quick hug with Finn and as they pulled away, she saw Puck and moved to him, wrapping her arms around his waist. "We did it, Noah!"

"Yeah, we did," he nodded, returning her hug, "now we definitely have something big to celebrate at your party."

As they pulled away, she nodded in agreement, "yes we do!"

~*~

The teens walked off stage and headed to the choir room again, this time to gather their things. Rachel told everyone to be over to her house in about an hour and a half, around four-thirty and slowly they began leaving school. Puck left with Sam and Rory and Rachel and the girls dug their jackets out and once Rachel had her's on, she waved to everyone and left the room. As she walked out, she heard her name and turned to see Finn standing in the hallway.

"Hey, Finn. Do you need something? I've got to go meet my dads," she admitted, motioning behind her.

"What's with you and Puck?" He asked quickly, "you're hugging him and acting like you guys are best friends, which I know isn't true!"

"No!" She shook her head and stepped back a few feet, "you don't get to do this again. I have nothing to explain to you. Noah is my friend and I'm allowed to hug my friends."

Finn glared at her, "damn it, Rachel! We're hardly broken up and you're already chasing after someone else! What the hell happened to needing space?"

"Finn, stop it! If you must know, I'm trying to build relationships with people, so when I leave McKinley, I still have friends. Noah has been there for me for the last few years, but we've never been close and we're trying to fix that. I do need space, but that doesn't mean I can't make friends," she explained, "you have no right to act like a jealous boyfriend, because we're over and have been for over two weeks. That's all the explanation you need. You're welcome to come to my house with everyone, but if you're going to act like this, then don't bother," she told him, shaking her head and turning to walk away, leaving him standing in the middle of the hallway.

~*~

By four, the Glee members began arriving and when Finn walked into the house, Rachel stared at him, "Finn."

Finn sighed, "look, I'm sorry. You're right, I got jealous and we are broken up, so I don't have any right. We cool?"

"As long as you promise me you'll stop being jealous about who I choose to spend my time with," she replied, crossing her arms over her chest.

"Yeah, I can do that. It might not be easy for a while, but I'll get better," he replied nodding.

"Alright, then welcome," she motioned to the living room where a few others were seated, "where's Kurt?"

Finn moved further inside, "uh, we went in different cars. He wanted to make a stop somewhere, but didn't say where. He said he'd be here soon."

~*~

Time ticked closer to four-thirty and everyone had finally arrived, except Quinn. Kurt was telling everyone how Dave Karofsky was doing, because he had stopped to see him at the hospital and Will was telling everyone that Sue had offered to help them work on their routines for Nationals, and no one had any idea where Quinn was.

"Did anyone talk to Quinn? Because I know she said she was coming over when I left school," Rachel admitted. When no one had an answer for her, Rachel picked up her phone and sent a text message to her, "where are you? Everyone is here, but you."

Before she could say what she had done, Quinn responded with, "sorry! Lost track of time. Leaving home now."

Rachel relayed the information and then laughed at the guys, "boys, save some for the rest of us," she commented, seeing Puck, Finn, Mike, Rory, Artie, Blaine and Kurt all sitting closer to the food table.

"Maybe you girls should come get some before we eat it all then," Puck retorted with a smile, "and tell Quinn she better get here soon or the food will be gone.

Taking the hint, the girls got up and moved to get some food and Rachel hit the reply button on her phone, "the guys say hurry so you don't miss out on the food. We have plenty, but they're sitting around the table. Hope you make it soon!"

Just as Rachel went to set her phone down, it beeped and she looked at Quinn's response, "on my way." With a nod to the message, she set her phone down and skipped over to get something eat, totally oblivious to just what happened when Quinn sent that message.

~*~

Shout out to youhadmeatmashup for help with some of the gift ideas!

~*~

A/N4: I thought I'd be able to fit '3x15 - Big Brother' into this chapter, as well, but after getting a portion of the chapter written and because of everything that happened in '3x14 - On My Way', I felt it should have it's own chapter. It also was kind of 'Finn/Rachel' heavy, so there was more to alter and I wanted to show more Puckleberry moments in it, since their friendship is building. I hope you all enjoyed! Review and let me know!

A/N5: This fic actually came to me suddenly, like a week ago, and I couldn't shake the thoughts, so I just went with it. My other fics will continue to get updated on a regular basis, and I have decided that after I finish up altering the aired episodes, I'll wait until the next aired one is on before I write anything for it, that way I can keep it as close to the real show as possible.

A/N5: Thank you everyone for your reviews, alerts, and favorites. It really means a lot and hope you continue to enjoy it! I really appreciate all of my readers, those of you who have been with me for years and all my new ones, too! You're all awesome! Puckleberry forever! I'll always ship and write them, so don't worry about me stopping!

Next up: '3x15 - Big Brother' and possibly '3x16 - Saturday Night Glee-ver'

~*~

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Notes

Hi! This is EJ... AKA sapphiresfic on LJ, sapphireej on FF.net and EJ8302 on Tumblr and Twitter.

6/8/2012 - ALL LINKS in posts go to LJ. Over time I will correct them so they go to DW, but for now, it's a start.

June 2012

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