sapphireej: (sapphires fic)
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Title: Breakaway, Part 3/?
Author: Sapphire ([livejournal.com profile] sapphiresfic)
Fandom: Glee
Pairing/Characters: Puckleberry (Puck/Rachel), Puck, Rachel, other Glee characters
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 8,568
Spoilers: This part to '3x15 - Big Brother'; 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 '3x15 - Big Brother'
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!


~*~

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

A/N3: Since Glee went on a hiatus between 'On My Way' and 'Big Brother' and 'Big Brother' returned with about the same amount of time passing as the Glee hiatus was, I added in a short summary to tie the two episodes together, so it doesn't just start like 'Big Brother'.

~*~

After New Directions won at Regionals in mid-February, their celebrations were cut short when they found out that Quinn had gotten into a car accident on the way to Rachel's party. The teens were notified while still at Rachel's party, by Sue, who had been called by Quinn's mom to let her know what happened. Sue then passed on the information to Will, who was at Rachel's.

Quinn was kept in the ICU for several days and the hospital suggested she not have many visitors, except immediate family, so Judy promised to keep Sue informed, so she in turn, kept her friends up-to-date. After being monitored, to make sure she didn't have any brain trauma or internal bleeding that hadn't come up when she was first brought into the ER, and because none showed up, she was moved into a regular room at the hospital, but still didn't want visitors. She kept in touch with her friends through text messages and did appreciate the flowers they were all sending, but still asked them to not visit her, because she needed to deal with what happened and wasn't emotionally ready for them to see her yet.

Respecting her wishes, and taking her suggestion to get things back to as normal as possible, New Directions pressed on as best they could, missing her and wishing she'd tell them why she didn't want anyone to visit her. It was about five weeks after her accident and a few weeks since she'd been home, when she finally reached out to Artie and he passed on briefly why she hadn't wanted any visitors. The injuries she'd gotten during the accident had left her in a wheelchair. Given that Artie had the most experience dealing with it, he was able to continue her healing, mostly her mental state, now that her scrapes, cuts and bruises had mostly healed from the accident. Artie didn't tell the club much, because he didn't feel it was his place to give all the information and promised that once Quinn returned to school, she'd explain everything.

~*~

Rachel turned to music to deal with her emotions from everything going on and got help from Puck. She was testing out a whole bunch of songs for her NYADA audition and Puck joined her most days, playing the music with his guitar or on the piano as she practiced. She definitely appreciated the help and it gave them more time to spend together, getting to know more about each other. As much as she tried, she couldn't stop the romantic feelings that continued to grow for him, because she really enjoyed being friends with him and she was worried that if they did try a relationship, it would be over by graduation. They had yet to talk about his future plans and she wasn't sure if he'd consider joining her in New York, so they could be together and not have a long distance relationship.

Rachel's 'Secret Admirer' started leaving simple notes in her locker every few days. Most of the time they were typed out on an index card or a piece of paper and the messages were just inspirational quotes or words of encouragement. She loved the messages and had been saving every one of them, but she still had yet to figure out who it was. The only things she'd learned about the mysterious person was that it was a 'he' and he was a Senior at McKinley. She knew that information narrowed it down a lot, but there were still a lot of guys at McKinley in the Senior class. Remembering Puck's suggestion to have an adventure, she didn't try to seek out who it was, knowing they'd show themselves when they were ready and she settled for the mystery, but hoped she could find out.

A few times, her 'Secret Admirer' had even left gifts of sheet music for various songs in her locker, with a note that she should try them for her audition to NYADA. The songs were all perfect for her vocal range and ones she'd either heard on the radio or was familiar with, so she happily tried them out and added them to the large stack of ideas for her audition.

~*~

Puck liked spending time with Rachel. It was nice to have a girl as a friend, but he had his own romantic feelings building for her. He knew her reasons for breaking up with Finn, so he did his best to keep everything in the 'just friends' department. He wanted her to go to New York and become the star she always dreamed of being and he was afraid he'd only hold her back from that, so he settled to stay friends and wanted to just enjoy the time they had hanging out together.

He wouldn't admit it often, but he also enjoyed playing music on the piano and guitar. He'd known how to play for a long time, but it wasn't until joining the Glee Club, that he showed that side of himself to others. During their time spent together, Rachel was always complimenting him on how well he played and how awesome he was at being able to look at the new music she gave him and follow along on the first attempt. He'd picked up playing the piano and guitar as just hobbies, but to have someone who was as talented as she was, recognize his abilities meant a lot to him.

~*~

3x15 - Big Brother

~*~

It's now early-April, about three weeks since the club found out about Quinn being in a wheelchair and she was finally returning to school. Everyone in the club had slowly moved on from her accident, but with news that she was returning, it brought up a lot of the emotions they'd pushed aside.

After one of Rachel's classes, Puck met up with her, "hey Rachel."

Rachel smiled at him, "hey Noah. How was class?"

"It was okay," he shrugged, "I've been thinking about something," he admitted.

"Oh yeah? What is it?" She wondered.

"Well, we've been working on music for a few months now. Don't get me wrong, I'm totally enjoying helping you out and all that, but every week you add two or three new songs to your pile of 'maybes' for your audition song. It's coming up in what? A month? I'm no expert, but shouldn't you start narrowing down your ideas, not adding to them? Don't you need to focus on one or two to have ready?" He asked curiously.

Rachel thought for a moment as they came to a stop at her locker, "well, the additional songs are helping me work on my vocal range, but you are right. I should pick just a few, but nothing has stood out to me yet. The songs I've collected are wonderful, though."

"Yeah, I get that, and that doesn't mean you can't learn them all at some point, but I know in Glee we're always practicing songs for weeks before competition and this is like a competition, right?"

Taking a deep breath, Rachel nodded, "yes, in a way it is," she agreed, pushing her books into her locker, "I guess I haven't been totally on my game. I... With Quin returning today, I can't stop thinking about her. She's..."

"Right behind you," Puck admitted, glancing around her and seeing Quinn wheeling down the hallway with Artie only a few feet from her.

Rachel turned around and smiled, "hey Quinn!"

"Hey, Rachel, Puck," Quinn nodded and smiled at them.

"Sup, Quinn," Puck waved at her.

"Welcome back," Rachel said, "how are you?"

Quinn took a deep breath, "believe it or not, this is the happiest day of my life," she admitted. "I could have easily become one of those creepy memorial pages in the yearbook, but by the Grace of God I'm here. Artie has helped me realize that even if it's not ideal, I'm lucky to be alive. We've actually got something to show the club," she glanced at Artie, "come on, Artie. I'll race you to the choir room," she added, taking off down the hallway.

Artie laughed, but began to follow her and Rachel and Puck watched as they rolled away, "wow. That, um... Was that really Quinn?" Puck asked.

"I think so. Come on," Rachel turned around, closed her locker and took his hand, leading him in the same direction as Artie and Quinn had just gone.

~*~

Rachel and Puck were the last to arrive in the choir room, so they took seats in the front row, next to each other and once everyone had a chance to welcome Quinn back, she and Artie began singing the song 'I'm Still Standing' by Elton John, while rolling around on the floor in the room.

When they finished, Quinn settled her wheelchair in front of everyone, "here's a lesson for your board, Mr. Schue. Don't text and drive. Ever. It's the stupidest thing I've ever done; besides sleeping with Puck," she smirked and glanced at him.

Puck's shocked expression mixed with a smile and he just laughed it off, having had a good idea that's how she always felt.

Quinn took a deep breath, "there's a lot of rumors floating around, so let's clear the air. First of all, all my plumbing still works, which is awesome. My spine was severely compressed in the car accident, which basically means I can't move my feet or legs, but, the good thing is that I'm starting to regain feeling, so with a lot of physical therapy and your prayers, I stand a good chance at a full recovery," she explained, smiling at everyone, "thank you for respecting my wishes about no visitors. I do appreciate all the messages and phone calls we shared, along with all the gifts and help gathering up notes and homework so I could keep up with my classes. When I first found out what happened, I was embarrassed. I didn't want anyone to know, but between doctor's visits, extra trips to church and Artie, they've helped me realize that I'm still alive and I should be thankful for that, so I'm not going to sit around and feel sorry for myself and I don't want any of you to feel sorry for me, either," she shared a glance with everyone, "I'm happy and I want us to keep things as normal as possible and I also want you guys to be happy for me, too," she blushed, "oh and I apologize for the number. My dance moves aren't as smooth as Artie's yet."

Artie laughed, "with practice, they will be," he assured her.

"We really missed you, Quinn," Rachel said honestly.

Quinn smiled at her and nodded, "I missed you guys, too. I promise that by the time we go to Nationals, I'll be out of this chair and dancing on that stage," she said truthfully

~*~

Through Rachel was not ready to just forget what happened, she along with the rest of the teens happily welcomed Quinn back and tried their best to get back to a normal 'routine'. After school, Rachel and Puck returned to the auditorium to work for a while on her songs, "I can't believe she expects us to just go on like nothing happened," Rachel admitted, having held her feelings in for as long as she could.

Puck straddled the piano bench and looked at her, patting the bench and when she took a seat, he spoke, "I don't think she wants us to forget. I think she just doesn't want anyone to give her any special treatment because she's in a wheelchair. It's a shock. I mean, it's all everyone is talking about," he motioned out towards the hallways of the school.

"I know," Rachel nodded, "but how can things ever be the same?"

"I don't know, Rachel, but it's her life and it's what she wants. We can't change it so we can only keep moving on," he told her.

Rachel sighed and nodded, "I know, but I can't just turn off my emotions. When it first happened it took me a while to really get over it to focus. I just need some time," she replied softly.

Puck rested his hand on her shoulder and squeezed it gently, "then that's what you'll get," he assured her.

"Thanks," Rachel smiled.

"You're welcome," he replied.

Rachel took a moment to breathe, relax and gather her thoughts. Even the simple, friendly touch of his hand on her shoulder made her whole body spark with a desire for more, but she was trying to keep things friendly between them, so she pushed her feelings aside for the moment, "I was thinking about what you said this morning before Glee. About picking a song. You're right. I need to start narrowing down my choices. I was thinking of maybe doing that now."

"Okay, sounds good," he shrugged, "you know I'll help however I can."

~*~

Quinn returned to school on a Thursday and when everyone came back on Friday, it was a little easier for them to see her in a wheelchair. Rachel and Puck spent some of their lunch time and after school again in the auditorium, working on eliminating songs from her pile and were slowly making progress. The music was definitely helping Rachel and both of them enjoyed spending the time together.

Rachel and Puck kept their relationship at school, for the most part. Sometimes they'd go out with a group of friends, but they didn't seem to venture to their homes. Puck liked to be out of his house, having a younger sister and he knew if he brought Rachel home, his mom would be planning their wedding, so he steered clear, at least for a while. Puck had gone to her house a few times, but they stayed in her living room. After the break-up with Finn, even though it'd been over two and a half months since it happened, she just wasn't ready to be inviting another guy into her room and Puck understood that. He definitely wasn't pushing her into anything.

Puck had a few pools to clean over the weekend, which he just cleaned and offered a few flirty looks and comments to his cougars, but he was just wasn't into that anymore. Ever since he and Rachel had gotten closer as friends, he was finding that it just felt wrong to do anything else. He knew they weren't a couple, so it wasn't like he was 'cheating', but he still felt bad and knew that was because of all the feelings he was building for Rachel and the ones for her that he'd hidden for a long time. They were finally surfacing and taking over, but he tried to keep them to himself, because he didn't want to scare or worry Rachel; at least until he could figure things out for himself. He also had a business idea he wanted to think on that could help him in with a future.

~*~

Returning to a new week of school, things were slowly getting back to normal. It was still hard for everyone to see Quinn in a wheelchair, but it was getting easier. During Glee, Will reminded the teens that after school was 'Booty Camp' in the auditorium, so Puck and Rachel agreed to meet during their lunch to continue working on her song selections, since they wouldn't be able to after school.

"So how are you doing?" Puck asked, since he hadn't been able to talk to her yet that morning.

"I'm better. Every day gets easier. How are you? Did you have a good weekend?" She wondered.

"Yeah, I guess. Had some pools to clean. Nothing major," he shrugged, "and I just cleaned them," he added, glancing at her.

Rachel blushed, because everyone knew Puck's 'pool cleaning business' was usually more than just that. It was also a reason why she was hesitant to attempt a relationship with him, but trusted that if they did have one, one day, he'd be faithful, but knew at that moment they were just friends, "I believe you, but you don't have to defend yourself to me. I think everyone knows how your business started, but I'd like to think that if you did find a relationship with someone, you'd be faithful to whoever that ends up being," she explained.

"Damn right," he nodded, "yeah, I know I've made some mistakes in the past, but if I got with someone, I definitely wouldn't cheat on them," he promised.

His words made Rachel smile and also helped ease some of her worries, "that's very good to know, Noah."

~*~

Stopping at her locker after school, Rachel found another note from her 'Secret Admirer'. "You're beautiful, just the way you are," was all it said. She smiled and slid it into her bag before collecting her things and making her way to the auditorium to change for 'Booty Camp'.

Will's idea to start 'Booty Camp' was decent. It gave the teens additional time to work on and learn their dance moves for competitions, but Sue surprised them that day. After Regionals, she'd offered to help the club work on their routines for Nationals and had decided to take over 'Booty Camp'. She spent the whole time yelling and insulting them and by the time she called it a day, and stormed out of the auditorium, everyone was in a bad mood. "I'm so emailing Mr. Schuester about this!" Kurt snapped.

~*~

"Oh my God! You guys are never going to believe who Blaine's brother is!" Kurt exclaimed as he met the other Glee Seniors in the library for a meeting the next day before Glee.

"Who is it?" Tina asked, being the only non-Senior there, with Mike.

"Cooper Anderson! The guy from the 'Free Credit Rating Today' commercials!" He said quickly, clapping his hands

Puck and Finn exchanged glances as the girls, Kurt and even Mike all got excited and started asking Kurt questions about how he found out, "hey! Hold up. We can talk about that later," Puck waved his hand, "we all know why we're here," he glanced around, "I want ideas for Senior Ditch Day. Go!"

Kurt suggested a scavenger hunt and Mike suggested a marathon of the two Footloose movies. Because it was Spring, Brittany wanted to see something be born and Mercedes suggested a 'non-alcoholic pub crawl', "guys, I want actual ideas. It's Senior Ditch Day, not Senior Citizens Ditch Day," Puck commented from where he was sitting on the back of one of the chairs.

Rachel had been listening to their ideas and couldn't keep her eyes from glancing at Quinn who was sitting a few feet away, in her wheelchair. The emotions she'd been holding in for quite a while finally broke the surface and she choked out, "Quinn, I'm sorry," she started, fighting the tears she knew would spill soon, "it was my party you were going to when you got into your car crash and you were answering my text message. Now we're all sitting here," she motioned around, "talking about this day that's supposed to be the most amazing and unforgettable day of our high school lives and we're," she paused, tears falling, "we're completely ignoring the fact that she's sitting in that chair!" She looked around at everyone, who were all biting their lips and averting their gaze to the floor. Rachel looked at Quinn, "it's not right. It shouldn't be like this."

Quinn sighed, trying her best to not let things bother her and to be as normal as possible, "maybe not, but this is the way it is," she said honestly, "my accident, which you did not cause, by the way," she looked at Rachel, "does not define me. It's also not going to ruin our last year of high school. I'm here and I meant what I said in the choir room. I'm not going to dwell on this and neither should any of you. Okay?" Quinn could see Rachel was still upset, so she motioned to her to come towards her.

Getting up, Rachel walked towards Quinn and she couldn't help more tears falling as she hugged her, "I feel so bad," Rachel murmured.

"I appreciate your concern, I really do, but you have nothing to feel bad about, okay?" Quinn eyed her as they pulled apart, but she kept a hold of Rachel's hand, glancing around at the others, "now, we are ditching as planned. I think we should go to Six Flags," she commented.

Puck felt bad that Rachel had gotten upset, but he also expected it. She'd been bottling things up since Quinn was first in the accident and knew she'd eventually crack, but he was glad Quinn was there to help settle Rachel down. With everyone agreeing and liking the idea of going to the amusement park, Puck smiled, "Lady Fabray has chosen wisely. Six Flags it is. Meeting adjourned!" He clapped his hands and stood up as everyone cheered and began filing out of the library, "hey Finn, could you hang back for a sec?" He asked before Finn got too far away.

"Yeah, sure, Puck, what's up?" Finn wondered.

"I've been thinking about something. Well, actually I got the idea this weekend while I was cleaning pools," he admitted.

Finn nodded, "okay..."

"Lima's only got 22 pools and I clean twenty of them. It's great for a young guy just needing some cash to buy things on once and a while, but it's not enough to live on. This weekend I realized that I could expand my pool cleaning business. Southern California has 800-freaking-thousand. I Googled it. So after graduation, I'm thinking about moving to LA," Puck smiled, "and I want you to be my business partner."

"Wow! Dude, I'm so honored that you'd even consider me, but I don't know if I want to move to LA. At least not right now," Finn admitted, "can I think on it for a while?"

"Yeah, totally," Puck nodded, knowing it wasn't something he could decide over night and Puck himself wasn't even fully sure that he wanted to move to LA, either. He just knew college wasn't for him and figured since he knew about cleaning pools, he could at least move somewhere that had more, so he could turn his business into a legitimate one.

As the two guys began walking out of the library, Puck remembered something, "while you're thinking, could you do me a favor? Um, you know that blond on Sycamore Street that likes to mow her lawn in tube tops?"

Finn smirked, but nodded, "yeah, Mrs. Tennison?"

"Yeah, well, her jacuzzi is busted, so I thought since you know so much about motors you could take a look at it. Help me out," Puck admitted. "I'm going over to her place tomorrow after school."

"I can probably help you with that," Finn agreed.

"Cool, thanks," Puck replied.

~*~

The teens moved into the choir room to find that Sue had invited Blaine's brother to come talk to them. Blaine was not happy about his brother being there and Puck and Finn were not super impressed with him, but everyone enjoyed the mash-up of the two Duran Duran songs that Cooper and Blaine ended up doing.

When Glee was over, the teens got on with their day and Rachel and Puck met in the auditorium again during lunch, "it's so cool that Blaine's brother is on TV. I'm looking forward to listening to what he has to say tomorrow in the class he's doing."

"Yeah, it's cool, but you don't need his advice, you already know what to do," Puck commented, looking at her.

Rachel blushed at his compliment, "thank you, Noah, but it never hurts to hear someone's perspective on the business," she admitted, "are you coming to his class tomorrow?"

"I don't know. Seems kind of lame to me," he replied honestly.

"Oh, come on, Noah, please?" She asked, slipping her arm around his shoulders.

Puck glanced at her, "alright, fine, I'll come if you want me there so badly, but doesn't mean I'm gonna like it."

"Awesome!" Rachel grinned.

~*~

Spending their lunch and a a few hours after school working on music, Rachel was finally narrowing her options, but she was far from picking the song she wanted to audition with.

Returning on school the next day, the teens headed into the choir room at Glee's usual time and Cooper was already there, ready to give them all the 'tips' he could about being 'famous'. His first bit of advice was that going to college was a 'waste of time' and he also said not to bother going to New York because Broadway was 'lame'. Rachel and Kurt exchanged upset glances, but everyone let him continue, talking about how to pose for photos and different 'techniques' to make them seem more into the role they were playing.

Blaine was disagreeing with everything his brother was trying to tell them and Puck sat in the back row, totally not into what Cooper was saying. Puck had no interest in going into acting of any kind and was only there because Rachel wanted him to be there. No matter what Cooper said, everyone enjoyed it and cheered him on, but both Puck and Blaine sat back and just tried to ignore him.

"Okay guys, I don't want you to go cray-cray, but I brought in sides, industry term, from a little show that I auditioned for last week, called NCIS," Cooper commented, pulling out small pieces of paper from his bag.

"Oh wow! My nana loves that show," Puck admitted, "and so do I," he added, getting up as everyone began to move to the center of the classroom, now a little more interested in what Cooper was saying.

Tina offered to play the 'dead' body, so she laid on the floor and Blaine and Rachel were given the sheets for the two agents and Cooper started to 'direct' them while the teens gathered around them, some sitting and Puck opted to stand. "Now, in this scene Agent Sciuto..." Cooper started.

"Who the fuck is that?" Puck asked, hearing an incorrect name for characters he knew from watching the show with his nana.

"Agent Sciuto is one of the investigators on NCIS," Cooper said, turning to Puck.

"No, she's not," Puck replied, "that character's name is Abby Sciuto and she's not an agent. She's the coolest forensic scientist on the planet, dude."

"Noah!" Rachel hissed, stepping over to him, "stop it. Cooper is being nice enough to offer all of us some advice and you're embarrassing yourself."

"Embarrassing myself? Yeah right. I've only been watching NCIS since I was a kid with my nana. There's no such character as 'Agent Sciuto', so if anyone should be embarrassed, it's him. He obviously doesn't do his homework on shows he auditions for," he said, looking at Cooper, then turned to Blaine, "Blaine, I've got respect for you, dude, but I'm out. This is a joke," he motioned around the room, before heading for the door.

~*~

Puck knew Rachel would be pissed at him for walking out of class, but he didn't care. He wasn't going to sit around and listen to any more of Cooper's lame comments about acting. As he reached his locker, he heard his name and turned around to see Rachel coming towards him. "I knew you'd follow me," he laughed lightly.

"What was that back there, Noah?" Rachel demanded.

"I told you yesterday that you don't need that, Rachel, and he's a joke. If he's such a great actor, why is he only in a series of thirty-second TV commercials?" He asked, and when she didn't respond he continued, "because it's all he's been able to get and I can't believe you were all sitting in there taking notes like he's an expert. I'm surprised you and Kurt even cared to listen to him after he said not to bother going to college or New York. The two places you two are going," he told her.

"Well, everyone is entitled to their opinion," Rachel commented, but with what he said, she slowly began to understand what he was saying, "I do suppose you are right. Maybe he doesn't know as much as he wants us to believe."

Puck rested his hands on her shoulders, "Rachel, you're going to be a star and advice is good, but you've got everything you need to make it, okay? Don't ever let anyone tell you differently."

Rachel smiled at him and slid her arms around his waist, "thank you, Noah," she murmured, "and I didn't know you liked that show."

"No problem," he replied, hugging her, "and yes, I do like NCIS. My nana got me into watching it and I know the characters names, so it pissed me off."

She laughed lightly, but nodded, "he was wrong, actually. The papers said a different name, anyway," she replied, "I was supposed to be reading something for an 'Agent David'," she admitted.

"Actually her name is pronounced 'Da-veed'. Ziva David. She's awesome; very bad ass and is Jewish, so she's even cooler," he explained with a wink.

"Oh really? I may just have to watch an episode and see about her," Rachel grinned.

"My nana has all the seasons on DVD that are out. I can borrow a few if you ever did want to watch them," he told her, "now, do you wanna meet during lunch today? Finn and I have a pool to clean after school," he admitted.

"You and Finn?" She wondered, "that's new."

"He knows about motors and someone's jacuzzi motor isn't working right, so I asked him to help fix it. I don't know much about them," he explained, not wanting to tell her the rest right now; he still hadn't figured out everything yet.

"Oh, alright. Yes, lunch time sounds great," she nodded.

~*~

Working for a little while in the auditorium with Rachel at lunch, the two went their separate ways afterward. They passed each other in the hall a few times, but since they didn't have any classes together, their contact was limited. At the end of the day, they talked briefly and then he and Finn headed off, agreeing to meet at Mrs. Tennison's house in a little bit, because Finn had to go home to get his tools.

When the two guys arrived, Puck showed Finn to her backyard and motioned to the jacuzzi while Puck started cleaning and the two got to work. "So have you done any thinking on what I asked you?" Puck wondered, glancing over at Finn.

"Yeah, kinda. I don't know, man. That's just a big move with no guarantees," Finn admitted, testing a few things to see if he could figure out the problem.

"Nothing in life is a total guarantee. I mean, things change all the time, but at least in California there's job security. People will always have pools," Puck replied.

"That is true," Finn agreed. "I really like working at the shop and with Burt back and forth to DC a lot, I think he likes knowing I'm there to keep an eye on things. I don't know, I still need more time."

"Alright," Puck nodded in agreement, knowing he also needed more time, but hoped if Finn wanted to, then he'd feel more comfortable about making a big move like that.

A few more minutes passed and Finn found the problem and began fixing it, at the same time as Mrs. Tennison brought out a tray of with glasses and a pitcher of lemonade on it, "hey boys. I didn't know you were in business together," she admitted.

"We're thinking about it," Puck replied.

"Yeah," Finn nodded, "and this was just a busted control panel, Mrs. Tennison. Nothing too serious."

"You're a life saver," she smiled at Finn, "and if you guys do decide to go into business together and need any investors, I'd love to be a silent partner," she commented, handing Finn a glass of lemonade, "or a noisy one," she winked at Finn, before turning and moving back into the house.

Finn's mouth fell open in shock and turned to look at Puck, "did she just..."

"Yep," Puck nodded, "happens all the time," Puck moved closer to Finn, "and if we went to Cali, imagine the women who'd be flirting with us," he grinned.

"Wow," Finn murmured, realizing now that he was single, there was a whole world of women out there he could pursue.

~*~

The next day at school, the teens were all getting excited for Friday, the next day, because they were all heading to Six Flags for Senior Skip Day. A few of the non-Seniors in the Glee Club were also going along, but Quinn and Artie had decided on a different location for their fun, opting out of the amusement park with the others.

Rachel and Puck worked during lunch and a little after school on her songs. She'd finally gotten her options down to five songs, but she still hadn't completely decided, so they agreed to work on each one a little to see which one she'd feel more comfortable doing.

When Friday arrived, the teens met at a public parking lot to leave their cars and piled on a city bus that went out to the amusement park, so they didn't have to all pay for parking. Once they got there, and because Sugar's dad was 'rich', she'd already ordered their tickets, so they quickly got into the gates of the park.

The group all headed right for one of the roller coasters and piled on one of them. Everyone enjoyed the thrill of the ups and downs, twists and turns and when it was over, the guys wanted to go again, but the girls decided to move on to some of the less stomach twisting rides.

After a while of getting the rides out of their system, the teens met up for lunch and then moved onto all the games. When Rachel saw all the stuffed animal prizes and knowing she wouldn't be very good at the games, she begged Puck to win some of them for her.

Puck had come prepared with a large wad of cash in his wallet to play the games, wanting to win some of the stuffed animal prizes for Rachel, and he was happy when she asked him to. The games were easy and some were rigged, but Puck had a pretty good aim with a baseball, darts and rings to throw or toss them at the targets and within a half an hour, he'd already won several small prizes.

"These are so adorable!" Rachel admitted, hugging the four stuffed animals to her chest.

"Yeah, they're cool," Puck shrugged, draping his arm around her shoulders.

"Thank you," she smiled at him, "for winning these for me. There's no way I'd have been able to do that."

"It's okay. I don't mind winning them for you," he returned her smile and motioned to another game, "I'm pretty good at that one."

"Okay!" Rachel nodded and saw a cute animal she wanted, "do you think you could win that one?" She wondered.

Puck smirked, but nodded at her, "yeah, I can."

~*~

By the end of the day, Puck had won Rachel over ten stuffed animals. Some where larger than others, because he'd been able to win games multiple times, so he could 'upgrade' some of the smaller toys for larger ones. Both had fun. He was happy to see her smiling and skipping around, snacking on cotton candy and joking around with their friends.

Rachel had a blast at the park. She loved all the toys Puck had won for her and even though they weren't a couple and were out with a bunch of their friends, part of her felt like it was kind of a date; or at least it would be like a date he might take her on, if they ever did go out. Spending the day with all of her friends was fun and even though she didn't want to give up any of her stuffed animals, Kurt begged her for one of them, to give to Blaine, since he had opted to not join them on their trip.

Their adventure at Six Flags ended a little after four when the teens piled onto the bus that took them back to the parking lot they'd all met at to get their cars. Once they were off the bus, Puck walked Rachel to her car, because he'd been helping her carry her new stuffed animals.

"Thank you, Noah. For winning me all of these," she smiled happily, laying the toys into her trunk once she opened it.

"You're welcome. You had fun today, right?" He asked hopeful.

"I did! I'm normally not one to miss school, but this was definitely worth it," she replied, "did you?"

"Yeah. I've ditched school in the past, but this was the first time I've actually gone somewhere with friends to ditch. And I'm glad I had someone to win stuff for. Well, last time I was here I had my sister, so I did win her some things, but it's not the same," he admitted.

Rachel smiled at him, "I haven't seen you interact with your sister, but I bet you're an amazing brother to her."

He shrugged, "yeah, I guess. She's a pain sometimes, but I do love her. Ever since my dad took off I've tried to be better with her and my mom. I know I've given my mom a lot of problems in the past, but we've worked through them."

"I'm glad you have. You've matured a lot over the time that I've known you, too, Noah. You're a good person, a good man, under your mohawk and bad ass tendencies," she explained, reaching up to brush her fingers over his styled mohawk and scalp.

Puck couldn't help the blush grow on his cheeks from her compliment and her simple touch on his head, "you really mean that?"

"Yes, I do," she nodded, "because I've witnessed the good in you."

"Thanks, Rach. That means a lot," he smiled, unable to deny the sparks building in him from her brief touch.

Standing up on her tip toes, Rachel wrapped her arms around his neck and hugged him tightly, "you're welcome, Noah," she said truthfully, soaking in how amazing she felt hugging him and knew she wanted to be with him, but she'd have to do some more thinking before she brought it up to him; also a small part of her still feared he wouldn't feel the same way.

Surprised, but welcoming her hug, Puck slid his arms around her petite body and held her close. His thoughts began racing a mile a minute as they continued to touch and the longer he remained in the embrace, the clearer some of his thoughts became. He wanted to be with her, somehow, so he'd have to make some decisions about his life soon, because he didn't want to lose her and he knew if he waited too much longer he just might.

~*~

Having spent the whole Friday together, aside from some messages exchanged between friends, none of the Glee Club saw each other until they returned to school on Monday. The day was mostly like normal, Glee met before lunch and everyone was talking about how much fun they'd had on Friday.

After Glee, Puck and Rachel spent some of their lunch break in the auditorium working on her music, but afterward, between one of her classes, Quinn caught up with Rachel. "Rachel," Quinn said, coming to a stop next to her.

"Hey, Quinn, how are you?" She asked, closing her locker.

"I'm doing alright. I have a question for you," Quinn admitted, "I obviously haven't been back for a long time, but I've noticed that you and Puck are spending a lot of time together."

"We are," Rachel nodded, "we've become pretty good friends and he's helping me pick a song for my audition for NYADA," she explained.

"Oh, so that's why you two have been in the auditorium a lot," Quinn nodded, "I was thinking there was more going on... Is there?"

Rachel blushed, "no, there isn't," she replied.

"But you want something to happen, don't you?" Quinn grinned.

Unable to deny her feelings, she nodded, "yes. I know you said I could have a relationship until school gets out and I shouldn't go to New York with someone, but Noah's... I really like him, I really care about him and I have feelings for him," she admitted, "I want something more with him."

"Does he know you do?" Quinn wondered.

"I don't know. I know we've expressed that we enjoy being friends, and he was there for me after Finn and I split up, so he's helped me through the rough times with that, and then," she bit her lip, "with what happened to you, but we've never discussed anything more, except that we want to be friends after graduation."

Quinn nodded in understanding, "look, I stand by what I said. You have a bright future ahead of you and Finn would have only held you back. He's not the type of guy for you. Honestly, he's not a 'get out of Lima' type of guy. He's not a big city person and that's what you need. That's why I said what I did, because Finn would probably have gotten to New York, freaked out and wanted to go home, and at the time, I think you would have followed him," she took a deep breath and gathered her thoughts, "you need someone who dreams of getting out of here and doing something with their life. I know Puck has had his issues in the past, but seeing him with Beth and knowing that he does want to get out of Lima, I know he's a good person and he could do something with his life, if he sets his mind on it. I also think Puck could handle himself well in a big city," she paused, "I see the way he looks at you. He has feelings for you, too, and I think he really cares about you. I know you're not asking for my advice, but if you have feelings for Puck, which you obviously do, then I say, test the waters, or at least maybe bring up him going to New York with you to see what he says. I'm not sure what he could do, but I'm sure you could come up with something," Quinn admitted.

Listening to what Quinn said, Rachel had an idea and smiled at her, "that helps me a lot, Quinn," she leaned down and gave her a hug, "you always know what to say when I need some advice. Thank you."

"No problem. That's what friends are for, right?" Quinn smiled.

Rachel nodded at her, "right."

~*~

Through the rest of school, Rachel's mind kept replaying what Quinn said and she did have a great idea. When the school day ended, Rachel found another inspirational quote in her locker from her 'Secret Admirer' and happily collected her things and headed to the auditorium to change into her workout clothes for 'Booty Camp'. When she was done, she grabbed her phone and found a seat on the piano bench, out of the way, to reply to a few text messages and play a game while she waited for the others to show up.

"Kurt, what would you think if I moved to LA after graduation?" Finn asked as the two guys walked into the auditorium, having changed in the guys locker room with the others.

Rachel knew they didn't see her yet and she didn't mean to overhear them, but when she did, she couldn't help listening curiously.

"LA? As in Los Angeles, California?" Kurt asked surprised, "where the hell did that come from?"

"Puck is thinking about moving there to expand his pool cleaning business and make it legit, you know? California does have a lot of pools that would need cleaning," Finn explained, "and he asked me to join him."

"What about my dad's garage? He loves you working there and I thought you liked it, too," Kurt commented.

"I do like working there, but I don't know if I want to do that forever and Puck's plan does sound promising," Finn admitted.

"California? Pool cleaning business? Noah never said anything to me about this. I'm glad he's thinking about post-graduation plans, but this definitely changes my idea of asking him to move to New York with me. I need to talk to him after practice and figure out what's going on," Rachel thought, hearing more voices and saw Tina and Mercedes walking in, so Finn and Kurt quit talking about it.

~*~

During 'Booty Camp', Quinn had invited Joe Hart join them, the Sophomore who had first gotten to know them by singing Vocal Valentines to people around Valentine's Day with Sam, Mercedes and Quinn, and everyone welcomed him to the club.

Having heard news the previous week from Becky, the teens of New Directions knew that Sue was having a baby girl and her baby had Downs Syndrome. Sue didn't talk too much on it, but she did confirm what they'd heard and she admitted she hoped some of the teens positivity would rub off on her baby, so she wouldn't be as harsh as Sue could be at times. She apologized a little for the way she'd acted the previous week, but admitted she wanted to help them win Nationals, by using her knowledge from years of having winning cheerleading teams. She promised them she'd be nicer, as long as they promised to work as hard as they could.

The teens accepted her apology and promised to work as hard as they could, because they were all hoping to win at Nationals to beat their biggest competition, Vocal Adrenaline.

Once the talking was out of the way, they started practicing and with everything going on, Rachel hoped to keep her mind off of the conversation she wanted to have with Puck, but it kept inching it's way to the front of her mind. She danced near him a few times and smiled, trying not to give off a negative vibe, so he didn't suspect something was wrong.

~*~

Making it through practice without Puck picking up on anything going on, when it was over, the guys headed back to the locker room to change and Rachel and some of the girls went to where they'd changed backstage, before leaving for the day. Rachel hoped to catch Puck before he left, so she stashed her bag in her locker with the rest of her things and went in search of him. She expected to find him by the guys locker room, but when she turned down the hallway where his locker was located, she found him changed and getting his backpack from his locker, "hey, Noah," she greeted him.

"Hey, Rachel. What are you still doing here? I figured you'd be on your way home by now," he admitted, surprised to see her.

"Well, I wanted to talk you about something, so I was hoping to catch you before you went home," she said.

"Yeah? What's up?" He wondered, closing his locker and leaning against it.

"Well, I hope you don't get mad at me, but I overheard Finn and Kurt talking before practice started earlier. I was surprised, because you hadn't said anything to me, but they were talking about Finn going to LA after graduation. Kurt was shocked and wanted to know where Finn got the idea and Finn explained that you were thinking about it moving to LA to get a pool cleaning business going with him," she explained.

"You heard about that?" Puck sighed, "yeah, I asked Finn last week and he said he'd think on it and I'm still not totally sure I'm gonna do it. That's why I haven't said anything to you, because nothing is for sure. It was just something I thought of like two weeks ago and figured we could head there. I don't know," he shrugged, "I'm just trying to come up with options, because I know college is pretty much out of the question for me and I don't want to stay in Lima."

"I see," Rachel said softly, biting her lip, "so you're still just thinking about it?"

"Right," Puck nodded and could tell she had something she wanted to say, "what's on your mind?"

"Well, since we've been talking about being friends after graduation, I was kind of hoping we could be friends in the same town," she admitted, looking at him.

Puck eyed her, having a feeling he knew what she was getting at, "are you asking me to go to New York with you?"

"Yes," she nodded, "well, I'm asking you to at least consider it."

"Wow," Puck started, as his thoughts raced. He'd thought of going to New York with her, because he did have feelings for her, but he didn't know what he'd do there and didn't want to keep her from her dreams, so he'd passed it aside. Now that she was asking him to, he had a question for her, "if I go, what would I do there, though?"

Rachel smiled at him, already having the answer, "Noah, you're very musically talented. You know how to play the guitar and piano. You have an amazing voice and I know that if you put your mind to it, you could be an amazing song writer," she explained, "and while I understand college might not be for you, there are still a lot of opportunities in New York for someone with your skills. You could get a job with a band as a guitarist or a pianist or you could start playing music at open-mic nights to test out your music, which some places let you get tips or could compete in contests for prize money, or so many other things," she told him honestly.

"You really think I'm that good?" He asked surprised, but was happy to see she was trying to get him to decide to join her. He hoped it was because she had more feelings for him than she was letting on, but he didn't want to get his hopes up on that, so he settled to be glad she was trying to help him with his future.

"Yes, I do," she nodded, linking her arm with his and began guiding him down the hallway, "I know you haven't been featured vocally in Glee much, but you've played the guitar many times and I'll never forget our duet. I loved singing with you. Maybe we could do it again."

Puck smiled and nodded at her suggestion, "yeah, I loved our duet, too. I'd definitely like to do that again."

"Awesome!" Rachel grinned, "so will you please think about coming to New York with me?"

Taking a moment to gather his thoughts, he smiled at her and nodded, "yes, I will think about it."

~*~

Shout out to all of those who have reviewed, favorited and alerted this fic. I'm so happy you all are enjoying it! To the anon reviewers that I can't reply to, thanks for your messages! All of my reviews mean a lot to me!

~*~

A/N4: Hope you guys enjoyed. Review and let me know, please! I'm having fun writing this. I love my other fics and I will be getting back to them soon, but I just keep getting ideas for this one quickly, so it seems to come out of my brain easier at the moment. Next chapter will be the next episode or possibly the next two. Not sure. It depends. Now that I'm getting into a deeper Puckleberry relationship, I might have more in it. We'll see.

A/N5: Okay, just to clear the air... I have nothing against Matt Bomer, who played Cooper Anderson. I thought he was amazing as Bryce Larkin on Chuck and it's cool that he is playing Blaine's brother. What I was upset about was how they introduced him to the show and something that the writers made him say... I've been a fan of NCIS since day one. Back when they did the 'back door' pilot with two episodes of JAG, which I've watched every season of, too. When I first heard Cooper name drop 'NCIS' I thought it was so cool for it to be mentioned in Glee, because in my fic series 'Out of the Blue', it's one of Puck's favorite shows, but when Cooper said 'Agent Sciuto', I was pissed! Abby Sciuto is NOT an agent. She's a forensic scientist and is AWESOME! I HATE that they used an incorrect name in the show! Now, I'm sure that they may have had some reason why they had to, either for copyright reasons or something else, but it still pisses me off that they name dropped the name of one of my favorite shows and screwed up the name. This is why I had Puck, who really said his nana loved it in the show, add in that he loves it, too, and I let Puck be the one to call out Cooper on his incorrect information, as a way for me to kind of vent my frustration with the show's writers for what they did... Glee airs here at the same time NCIS is on and I usually watch NCIS over Glee and then watch Glee later... I also threw in the info about Ziva, because Puck would definitely think she's awesome. She is Jewish and a bad ass! Anyway, that's why Puck was harsh on Cooper... And since Cooper's story line didn't really involve Puck or Rachel, aside from a few things, that's why he wasn't mentioned much.

Info and notes on NCIS:
Abby Sciuto on Wikipedia
NCIS on IMDB
NCIS on Wikipedia
Ziva David on Wikipedia

~*~

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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