I'm really excited for this story! One Tree Hill is one of my favorite shows of all time, and I absolutely love that I can tie in Finchel with it. So please read and let me know what you think!
Disclaimer: I don't own anything. This chapter title comes from the song "Crash into Me" by the Dave Matthews Band, and the story title comes from a quote in the third season of One Tree Hill.
Rachel Berry finished wiping the table down and looked up just as the door to the café opened. Noah Puckerman appeared, holding his ever-present football. Rachel took the rag she was holding and balled it up in her hands before launching it at her friend.
Surprised, Puck barely managed to duck it. Despite Rachel's complete lack of athletic ability, she had surprisingly good aim. "Rachel, what the hell?" he asked with a laugh.
Rachel planted her hands on her hips and gave him a pointed look. "I believe that you were supposed to help me with that rush from the school play tonight. But I'm sure you were out at the park shooting baskets with your football or whatever."
Puck groaned and sat down at the table Rachel had just cleaned. "Berry, how many times do I have to tell you that we score touchdowns, not baskets? Baskets are for basketball!"
"Oh, whatever," Rachel said, adding punctuation with an eye roll. "My point is, you were supposed to be here. And yes, I totally did tell your mother."
"Rachel!" Puck jumped up from the table and turned to find his mother standing behind the counter, watching him through narrowed eyes. Puck gave her an unapologetic look and waved. "Hi, Mom."
Anne Puckerman smiled and shook her head. "Go find an apron and help Rachel clean up. Rachel, you can pick the music for tonight."
"No Broadway show tunes, please," Puck pleaded. "You got to pick three days ago."
"And you picked some awful sort of heavy metal music two days ago!" Rachel retorted. She made her way over to the jukebox that was situated in the corner of the café. She thought about selecting a song from her favorite Broadway show just to piss Puck off, but she found another song that was just too good to pass up.
Puck grinned when the opening notes of Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" began. He stood and put an apron on to help clean up after the dinner rush, and Rachel began to sing as she cleaned. It was a nightly sort of thing; the regular patrons in the café always got some sort of performance
The song came to an end and the people in the restaurant cheered. Rachel took several bows and returned to the counter at the front of the café, where Puck had taken a seat and was munching on a plate of fries. Naturally, he had only cleaned a few tables before he had considered himself finished and had decided to take a break.
"Did you hear about what happened with the football team?" Rachel asked.
Puck snorted. "Yeah, I heard about it. The whole school is talking about it." Puck tried his best to look as if he could care less, but Rachel knew better. He had been talking about the football team for years.
Rachel shook her head. "I can't believe that Finn Hudson got away with stealing a school bus after they won that game while the majority of the team was suspended. That hardly seems fair."
"What do you expect, Rachel?" Puck asked. His brow furrowed in long pent-up anger. "His dad probably paid for him to still be on the football team."
A thoughtful look came onto Rachel's face. "I mean, he is why they won the game last week, so I guess he's pretty good…" Seeing the look on Puck's face, Rachel quickly backtracked. "But it's still wrong. Still completely wrong."
"Beiste is pulling the JV team up so that they can still play. They were supposed to go to the championship, you know," Puck said more to himself than anyone else. He knew that Rachel knew absolutely nothing about sports, let alone football.
Rachel gave her best friend a knowing look. "You sound like you might want to try out."
Puck's face darkened and he stabbed one of his fries violently on the plate. "Don't."
Rachel held her hands up, well aware that it was a touchy subject. She supposed that's the way it would be when Puck shared a father with the most popular guy in school and said father ignored Puck since the time he was born. Basically, Finn Hudson and his father had owned the football team. Puck may have talked about the football team, but that didn't mean he had considered trying out.
"You should give Coach Beiste the benefit of the doubt." Rachel grabbed the empty cup on Puck's table and began to back away just in case he got mad at her prodding again. "I don't think she would shut you out just because Christopher Hudson doesn't want you playing football with his son." Rachel turned to refill Puck's cup, leaving him to think about what she had suggested.
A few more customers came in then, and Rachel made sure that they were seated and had drinks at their tables before she went back towards her best friend. Maybe Puck had given some consideration about the football team. When she saw the dreamy look on his face, however, Rachel knew that she had lost him. There was only one thing that made Puck look like that—or one person, really.
"Please don't," Rachel said. She set Puck's refill down in front of him and took the seat across from him at the small table. "This is my break, Puckerman. I'm in no mood to hear about Quinn Fabray."
Puck acted as if he hadn't heard Rachel's snippy comment. "I saw her today."
Rachel sighed and took out her phone. There was no getting through to Puck when he got like this, so she might as well check up with what was going on in the Broadway world. "Oh really? And what was it like?"
Puck narrowed his eyes at Rachel in a quick glare before he continued. "I was walking back here from the River Park and I wasn't paying attention—"
Anne came back from behind the counter and took a seat at the table her son and his best friend were sitting at. Giving him a mildly scolding look mixed with amusement, she said, "Of course you weren't." Turning towards Rachel, she added, "He probably had his headphones in."
Puck went on, pretending as though he hadn't heard his mother say that. "And she was driving down the street I was crossing. I don't think she was paying attention, either."
Rachel exchanged a look with Anne, and both women smiled. "Oh, it sounds like you two have so much in common."
Puck stopped his story to scowl darkly at his Rachel and his mother. "Are you done yet?" he demanded. With a smile on her face, Anne could only shake her head and Rachel covered her mouth to try and stifle her giggle. "Anyway, she almost hit me with her car. We had a moment."
Rachel gaped at Puck. "Noah! Quinn Fabray almost hit you with her car and you consider that a moment?"
Anne could only take Puck's comment in stride. He had been talking about Quinn Fabray ever since elementary school, so at least she was used to it at this point. "Let it go, Rachel. You know that he'll be talking about this for at least another week."
Rachel laughed at the indignant look on Puck's face and stood up. She snatched the nearly finished plate of French fries from Puck and pointed at the discarded apron by the table next to him. "I have one hour left. Are you going to help me finish, or what?"
Puck glanced towards his mother, wondering if there was a way he could possibly get out of this. She crossed her arms and arched an eyebrow in a look that clearly didn't leave room for argument. With a long suffering sigh, Puck stood and began to help Rachel serve the lingering customers in the café.
Burt Hummel pointed towards the group of boys playing a football game at the River Park. Puck was running down the field and caught an impressive throw made by Mike Chang. The other boys they were playing with cheered as Puck did a lap of victory around the field.
"Have you ever seen a kid have so much fun playing the game?" Burt asked Shannon Beiste. She was sitting the car next to him, her arms crossed across her chest. She watched the boys playing the football game with an unreadable look on her face. Burt calmly watched her in return, confident that he had made a good case for the boy he considered his nephew.
Finally, Beiste spoke, but it wasn't what Burt had been expecting her to say. "What does your cousin think about this?"
At the mention of Christopher Hudson, Burt slowly shook his head. "Of course I haven't said anything to Chris. He barely acknowledges that Puck even exists. Chris has made it clear that he isn't very concerned with what Puck does."
"But he will be when he finds out that you're trying to get Puck on the football team with his son."
Burt shrugged his shoulders, unconcerned with how his cousin would react. "It's not like Puck plays quarterback. Finn's spot on the team will be safe, and you'll have a better chance of winning with a player like Puck."
Beiste sighed and turned to watch Puck once again. The boy did have a knack for throwing the ball impressive distances. He may not have had any real training, but it was clear that he loved the game and knew what he was doing. Beiste had to acknowledge that she needed more players like that on her team—especially since the majority of them had managed to get themselves suspended.
"Fine," she finally relented. "I'll give the boy a chance. Everyone deserves one, anyway."
Rachel pushed past the students crowding the hallway, grumbling under her breath the entire time. Why couldn't people move quickly? She had classes to get to and a best friend to yell at. People needed to get out of her way.
Finally, she spotted Puck by his locker. He happened to glance up and see Rachel, and then he quickly looked back down and started shoving his books into his backpack as fast as he could. Rachel rolled her eyes and stalked toward him. Reaching Puck, she poked him in the shoulder—hard.
"Ow! What the fuck, Berry?" Puck demanded. "That hurt!"
"Good!" Rachel retorted. She planted her hands on her hips and stared Puck down. "So what's this I hear about you joining the football team?"
Puck shrugged his shoulders and began to search through his locker just to avoid looking at Rachel. Undeterred, Rachel leaned against the wall of lockers in an effort to try and look Puck in the face.
"Noah, did you join the football team?" Rachel asked again.
Finally, Puck stopped and shut the locker. He inhaled deeply before he looked at her. "Yes," he admitted. "Coach Beiste talked to me this morning and said I could join. It's a little late in the season, so I'll have a lot of training to catch up on, but… yeah. I joined the team."
Rachel stared long and hard at her friend. "Just be careful, Noah," she said finally. "I'm glad you finally decided to join the team, but you know that things might not be easy for a little while." The whole school had been buzzing with the rumor that Beiste had asked Finn Hudson's half-brother to join the varsity football team. The scandal of Chris Hudson, Anne Puckerman, and Carole Hudson was one that people still talked about, even though it had happened seventeen years ago. This was only going to add more fuel to the fire.
Puck looked around the hallway. People were looking at him and whispering—it hadn't taken long for the news to spread at all. He really shouldn't have been very surprised by it, honestly. Lima was a small town, and they took pride in their football team.
And then like something out of a movie, Finn Hudson came down the hallway. He was wearing his letterman jacket and had his long arm wrapped around Quinn Fabray. Quinn looked as if she wanted to be anywhere but in that hallway, but Finn was soaking up the attention that people were giving him. The whispers actually grew louder as he walked down the hallway.
Rachel braced herself for what was about to happen. Someone was going to say something, and then a fight was probably going to break out. Puck had a temper and Finn had one to match. Honestly, it was a miracle that one hadn't happened before now.
Rachel found herself actually holding her breath as Finn came nearer. Puck's face closed off and he tried not to watch, but it appeared that it didn't even matter. Finn passed by him without sparing him so much as a glance. It was Quinn, however, that gave him an apologetic look.
Rachel's mouth gaped open at the complete brush off. It was probably worse than confronting Puck. Instead, Finn had just acted as if Puck didn't even exist; it was like he didn't even matter.
As Finn moved past her, his arm brushed against Rachel's. Her eyes shot up to him, and Finn turned and caught her gaze. Instead of being haughty, his amber-eyed gaze was curious.
Rachel tried not to think about the warm feeling that spread through her.
Sometimes, Puck just liked to stand at the River Park and think. It was probably one of his favorite places in the entire world. The field was wide and open, and the river that ran next to the park was calm and peaceful.
When he caught sight of Finn Hudson heading his way, however, he knew that his peaceful place just might be ruined.
"What the hell do you want?" Puck demanded as soon as Finn was near enough. There was no use in putting off the inevitable. Some confrontation was bound to happen between the two of them eventually. He might as well get it over with sooner rather than later.
Finn didn't waste any time beating around the bush, either. "I want you off my football team."
"Your football team."
"My football team," Finn repeated. "Because let's face it: that team would be nothing without me. And I can say for sure that I don't want you on it."
Puck shrugged his shoulders. "Well tough shit, Hudson. Because I'm not going to leave your team." Bitterness entered his voice. "Why don't you call your Daddy and see what he can do? I'm sure he has something to say about this."
Finn ignored the jab about his father. Honestly, he was more excited that Puck had told him he wasn't going to just leave the team. That was going to give him the opportunity to have a little bit of fun.
"I have a proposition for you, then," Finn offered.
"Well, you're not going to leave until I hear it. So tell me what you want and then get the fuck out."
Finn smirked, not fazed at all by Puck's hostility. "I want a football game against you. You pick a team, I'll pick a team. We play for a spot on Lima's team."
Puck was extremely tempted to say yes right away. He was competitive by nature, but he also knew that he shouldn't have to go through something like this just for a spot on a high school football team. Beiste had assured him that he deserved a chance to play, and that was all he needed to know.
Finn could see that Puck was probably about to turn him down. So he proposed the one thing that he knew Puck wouldn't be able to refuse: "Quinn will be there, you know."
Puck didn't think he had even been surprised by Finn before, but there was a first time for everything. His head jutted back, and he could gape at him. "What?"
"I'm not stupid, Puckerman. I see the way you look at my girlfriend. You get the spot on the team, and it'll give you chance to be closer to her."
"But she's your girlfriend. Does she know that you're playing her like this?" Puck couldn't believe that Finn was putting his girlfriend up as part of a deal just so he didn't play on the team. It was one of the most ridiculous things he had ever heard, really.
Finn waved his hand dismissively, unconcerned. "Quinn knows how it is." And that was all he said on that matter.
Puck shook his head. If Finn wasn't going to leave, Puck was. Whatever was going on, it wasn't worth the games that Finn was trying to play. "I don't have time for this," Puck declared before he left the park entirely.
"I don't think I'm going to play on the team."
"What?" Burt pulled away from the car he was working on and stared at Puck with wide eyes. "Why?"
Puck spun the wrench in his hands and didn't look at the man he considered to be an uncle—a father figure, actually. He hated the thought of disappointing Burt, but he wasn't about to put up with Finn Hudson's shit. He was sure that Christopher Hudson's shit wouldn't be far behind, either.
"I just don't want to," Puck said after a long moment had passed.
Burt reached forward and plucked the wrench from Puck's hands. "That's bullshit," he stated bluntly. "What's going on?" His eyes narrowing, Burt continued, "What did Finn say to you?"
Puck sighed. He should have known that Burt was going to figure out what was going on. "Nothing that I didn't expect. But I don't want to have to prove that I should be on the team. I shouldn't have to."
"You deserve to be on the team," Burt said fiercely. "No one should question that." He hated that Puck had been dealt such a shitty hand in regards to his father. It wasn't fair. "And you're right. You shouldn't have to prove that. But you also shouldn't let Finn chase you away."
Puck ran a hand through his Mohawk. "Why is he such a dick?"
Burt was pretty much an uncle to Finn, as well. As such, he saw more of Finn than Puck ever did; meaning that he saw a side of the young man that not a lot of people got to see.
"Well, you know how his father is," Burt said by way of explanation. "Imagine being raised by someone like that."
Puck's jaw tightened and he didn't say anything. He resented not growing up with someone he could call Dad, but he didn't want to think that Finn had it any worse than he did because Chris Hudson was a jerk. It was a hard situation to wrap his mind around, and it was something that Puck didn't really want to think about.
"Come on, Puck," Burt encouraged. "Don't let his childish behavior change something that you want to do. This football team can be really good for you."
"Burt is right. It could be good for you. Then again…"
Puck and Burt looked up to find Christopher Hudson walking into Burt's auto shop. He looked extremely out of place in his expensive suit and slicked back hair. Then again, Chris had always been out of place in their lives.
"I'm assuming that you had something to do with this, Burt," Chris said. "I doubt that you would have joined the team on your own, would you Puck?"
Puck said nothing, but his eyes narrowed in a ferocious glare. Chris only smirked at him in return, his upper lip curling maliciously. Burt shook his head. Chris had only been there for two minutes and he was already sick and tired of his crap.
"Stop it, Chris," Burt ordered.
Chris only spared a glance at his older cousin before he turned back towards his estranged son. "Don't join the team, Puck. It's not your place." He shrugged as if it was just a known fact. "You're not good enough for it."
The silence that filled the auto shop was dangerous and tense. Of course, Chris used it as the perfect time to exit. Just before he left the auto shop, he turned around and said over his shoulder, "Say hi to your mother for me."
The only thing Puck could do was stare at the door. The fire in his eyes was fierce and dark, and it made Burt step forward in effort to stop what was a sure explosion. Puck was faster than Burt, however. He jumped up and immediately headed towards the door that Chris had just exited from.
"Puck, think about this!" Burt called after him. "Don't do anything stupid!"
Puck only slowed down enough to say, "I'm not going after Chris. Even though he deserves it." After that, Puck didn't wait to hear what Burt had to say. He had one thing on his mind, and he was determined to find it.
Twenty minutes later, he found Finn Hudson lifting weights at the gym in the high school. Finn noticed Puck immediately and dropped the weight he had been doing arm curls with. A knowing look formed on his face—he knew exactly why Puck was there.
Puck didn't want to spend any more time around Finn than he had to. So he simply said, "Get a team together. We'll play at the River Park tomorrow night."
Finn just nodded his head and picked up his weight again. His mind was already building a team and what plays he was going to do; this was certainly going to be a game to remember.
Puck couldn't resist adding one more thing before he left. "By the way, your father is an asshole."
The look on Finn's face was unreadable. "I know."
Finn spun the football in his hands and stared blankly at the television in front of him. Something was playing on the screen, but he wasn't paying attention. He was too busy trying to figure out what he was going to do during this football game.
He was confident in his abilities—he was nationally ranked as a quarterback, after all. There was no way that he wouldn't be able to win this game. The way Finn saw it, it wasn't overconfidence. It was the truth. He had been training to win games since he could hold a football, practically.
The front door of the large house opened and closed; someone was home. Finn knew that it probably wasn't his mother, which meant that his peaceful, quiet night was over.
Just as Finn suspected, it was Chris Hudson that came into the living room. He dropped two takeout bags onto the coffee table and took a seat in the large arm chair opposite the couch.
"Brought dinner," Chris said by way of greeting.
Finn nodded his head in response and set the football aside. He reached for the bag on the table and opened it to find some pasta and meatballs in a container. This was normally the kind of thing he ate before a big practice or game. He looked up at his father, trying to figure out what Chris was implying.
Chris nodded his head towards the bag. "I heard you had a big game tomorrow night. I thought I could get you loaded on the energy that you need."
Finn sighed and shut the takeout container. Suddenly, he wasn't very hungry anymore. "Dad."
"You have to be sure that you'll be prepared for such a big game," Chris said with his hands held up defensively. "After all, your spot on the team is at stake. Isn't it, Finn?"
"Dad," Finn repeated. He hadn't planned on Chris finding out about the game or his deal with Puck at all. This wasn't something that he wanted to explain. Finn wasn't even sure he could explain it to himself, let alone anyone else. "It's just a dumb bet, that's all."
Chris's face changed from his usual charming business man smile to hard and calculating. "It better be just a dumb bet," he snapped. "Your future is at stake here, Finn. If you give it up because of some stupid deal you made with a stupid kid…" He trailed off and shook his head. "Don't fuck this up."
Finn picked up his football again and held it still in his hands. "I won't," he said quietly. He was aware of how much was riding on this game. But he wished this father realized just how much of his actions had played into what was happening right now.
That charming smile was back on Chris's face. "Excellent," he said. He reached for his own bag of takeout food and popped the top on the container open once he had dug it out. Naturally, he didn't comment on Finn's lack of interest in his food. Instead he said, "Maybe you should go on a run. You'll need to make sure that you're ready for the game."
There was no use in arguing, because Finn knew that he was going to lose. So he snatched up his bag of food and made sure to put it in the fridge so he could have it later. Actually, a run sounded like a pretty good idea. But Finn wasn't looking to train—no, this was going to be more of a stress reliever. It was definitely needed.
Rachel shifted uneasily as she watched Puck prepare for the game with his team. She had no doubt that he had picked good players. Mike Chang, Matt Rutherford, and Dave Karofsky were just as good as Puck. But still, she couldn't help but think that this was a ridiculously stupid idea.
"What did your mother say about this?" Rachel asked Puck. She had been off work yesterday, so she hadn't had a chance to see how Anne was doing. But she could imagine that Puck's mother wasn't very thrilled with what was going on. When Puck had revealed that he was going to join the football team, Anne had been uncharacteristically silent. That was probably worse than any outburst she could have had, really. And Puck knew that, too.
Just as Rachel suspected, Puck said, "She didn't really say anything." When Rachel opened her mouth, Puck held his hands up. His face was tired, as he had spent a large portion of the night preparing for this game. "Please don't, Rachel. I know that there's a lot riding on this game, alright?"
Rachel let out slow breath to stop herself from saying anything else. Puck hardly needed any more pressure than what he was putting on himself. And no matter what else happened, all of his friends needed to support him. Football was a big deal in this town, and Puck was talented. He deserved this chance just as much as anyone else.
This made the stupid bet even worse. The fact that Finn was putting Puck through this was absolutely abhorrent, and Rachel very nearly despised Finn for it. Puck was basically her big brother, and he was always making sure that no one picked on her. Rachel spent a lot of time making sure that people weren't whispering about Puck either, as they had a tendency to do. It had been rough for him growing up, but people who didn't know the whole story wouldn't know it. Anne tried her best—and did a wonderful job with it—to make sure that Puck had a stable and great childhood.
Naturally, a crowd had gathered at the River Park. Everyone wanted to see the throw down between Noah Puckerman and Finn Hudson. They had been waiting for this for years, and it was sure to be good.
Cheers went up through the audience that gathered when Finn arrived with his team and their little entourage of girlfriends. The people that had gathered for Puck chanted his name in turn. Their enthusiasm was so great that people could hear them clearly over the yells of Finn's supporters. As usual, Finn ate it up. Rachel shook her head and rolled her eyes in disdain. She could feel Finn's eyes on her as she did, but Rachel did her best to ignore him.
The next hour was ridiculously intense. The game was violent and hard. Dirt was kicked up and it covered every single player, in addition to their bumps and bruises. Each team was also playing a little dirty. It started with Finn's team, when Finn elbowed Puck in the face. Dave retaliated by tripping Ryder Lynn. They tried to put a stop to it after that, and it wasn't long before the game was tied.
It was the last few minutes, and Puck's team was using their last time out. Rachel was this close to having a complete freak out. She looked across the field towards Quinn Fabray, and was surprised to see her watching Puck instead of Finn. Rachel didn't even have time to contemplate what that could mean because she was so focused on the game.
"Come on, Noah!" Rachel yelled as they took their places on the field once again. "Score that basket!"
Puck rolled his eyes and shook his head at Rachel and her complete lack of football knowledge, but it was Finn that caught her attention. His eyes connected with hers and his lips lifted in an utterly adorable half smile. Rachel was surprised when her heart thudded hard in her chest, and she forced herself to look away from him. Needless to say, she hadn't expected that reaction at all.
So Rachel forced herself to focus on Mike launching the ball across the field. The clock ticked down to the last couple of seconds, and Puck crossed the goal line just as the football landed in his hands.
There was a moment of complete and utter silence as the crowd stared in shock. And then everyone who was there to support Puck and his team screamed, running across the field to meet him. Matt, and Dave lifted Puck onto their shoulders, singing "We Are the Champions" as loud as they could. Rachel sprinted across the field to join them, and Mike lifted her onto his shoulders so that she was at the same level as Puck. She slapped hands with him in a high five and joined in with their singing, giggling and yelling excitedly the entire time.
In the midst of their celebration, Rachel noticed Finn walking slowly back towards his car. His hands were tucked into his pockets and his head hung low. She tried not to think too much about that, though.
Early that morning, before the sun had even risen, Puck had found himself unable to sleep. So as he always did when he got like this, he took a walk through Lima until he reached the River Park. It was his place to think and just be.
Just as the last time he was on at the park, however, he wasn't alone. There was Finn, and he was standing directly in the middle of the field. His hands were buried deep in his pockets and his face was tilted up towards the sky.
Puck approached Finn from behind. He didn't bother to alert him to his presence; instead, he simply said, "You're staying on the team."
Puck watched Finn's shoulders rise and fall in a heavy sigh. "Any reason why you decided to keep me on the team?"
Even though Finn couldn't see him, Puck shrugged his shoulders. He had thought a lot about it on the walk over to the River Park, and there was really only one reason for it. Crossing his arms over his chest, he wondered if this was going to make him a bad person. But at that point, he didn't really care very much about it.
"Because it's the one thing that you don't want to do," Puck revealed. Somehow, through all of the crap they had gone through over the past two days, Puck had realized that Finn didn't really enjoy the game anymore. He was playing because of pressure. And if there was one thing that Puck could do, it was make sure that Finn stayed on the team.
Finn finally turned around to face Puck. "I'm not going to make this easy for you. You know that, right?"
Puck tilted his head with an indifferent look on his face. "I figured. But it's nothing that I can't handle."
Without waiting for Finn's response, Puck left the park. It didn't matter that some weird type of brotherly understanding had just passed between them. Things were going to get messy, and it was probably going to happen fast.
Puck completely blew his first football game.
It was already well known that Rachel knew next to nothing about sports, let alone football. But even she knew that Puck shouldn't have dropped the ball as many times as he did. It got so bad that Beiste had to bench him. It didn't help that Chris was constantly taunting Puck from the stands. Even more than that, Anne had claimed that she was too busy at the café and didn't go to the game. It was obviously bothering Puck that his mother wasn't there.
Rachel was sitting next to Burt, who had his face buried in his hands. Mike, Matt, and Dave were sitting with them as well, and they were all wearing matching looks of horror. This was so not how any of them expected this game to go.
"Maybe we should go down there," Matt suggested. "You know, just to see how he's doing."
Mike shook his head but stood to head down to the fence that blocked the game-goers from the field. Just as they neared the fence, Finn jogged by Puck's place on the bench. They couldn't see his expression behind the grill on his helmet, but they could hear what he said to Puck.
Finn held his arms out. "You wanted my world, you got it."
An indignant noise of anger bubbled from Rachel's throat and she scrambled forward, determined to climb over the fence and do something to Finn. Frankly, she wanted to ram his helmet up his ass for being such a jerk, but she didn't get a chance to do that. Mike caught her around the waist and hauled her back from the fence with a chuckle.
"Easy there, tiger. Let's not doing anything irrational."
"Did you hear him?" Rachel demanded. She was still determined to kick Finn's ass, but she did stop attempting to charge the field. "Did you hear what that jerk said?"
Burt patted Rachel's back. "Don't give them the satisfaction," he advised before he approached the fence. Leaning over it, he called for Puck's attention. "How are you feeling, Puck?"
Puck stood up and yanked his helmet it off. Dropping it to the ground, he barely spared a glance at his friends before he muttered darkly, "I'm quitting the team."
With that declaration, Puck stomped off of the field.
Rachel stalked into the café with a fierce look of determination on her face. "What is wrong with you, Noah Puckerman?" she demanded.
Puck sighed and didn't say anything. He just continued to help his mother plate several different kinds of muffins. Anne, however, looked between her son and his best friend, her brow furrowing in concern.
"What's going on, Rachel?" Anne asked. "What happened?"
Planting her hands on her hips, Rachel leveled a glare at Puck. "He got into a fight with Finn in class today. And it was over something completely stupid."
Puck shook his head and stepped back from the counter. "I don't need to hear this right now. I'm going out for a run."
Anne thrust a hand out to stop her son. "No you're not, Noah Puckerman. You're going to stand right here and tell me why you got into a fight at school today. I raised you better than that. You know better than to do something like that."
Puck dropped his head. He hated disappointing his mother, and he feared that that was all he had been doing since joining the football team. "I know," he said quietly. Things had been so incredibly weird for him lately. Puck had shared yet another run in with Quinn Fabray; he believed that she was lonely and needed someone to talk to, and Puck wanted to be the person that she confided in. As far as he could see, that was the only good thing he had going for him right now.
Anne took a deep breath and put both of her hands on her son's shoulders, forcing him to look at her. "What's going on, Puck? What are you so afraid of?"
Closing his eyes, Puck admitted something that had been bothering him since the very first time he understood what had happened between his parents. "I don't want Chris to have that part of me. I love football, but if it allows Chris to have some kind of say in my life… I don't want it."
Tears filled Anne's eyes. She had been afraid to see Puck play because she knew that Chris was going to be there, and she didn't know if she could face him. Things had been left so unsettled between them that she was unwilling to face all of those painful emotions once again. But her avoidance had affected her son, and she couldn't allow that to happen.
"No matter what, Chris doesn't have any effect on your life. He hasn't before, and he certainly doesn't now. He doesn't own you, Puck. Don't ever think any differently." She took a deep breath and nodded her head firmly. "Sometimes you need a little help facing your fears. I'll be there for your next game."
A long moment of silence stretched between them. Seeing that Puck still looked a little unsure, Rachel added, "It's just a game, Puck. Football isn't going to change you. Don't stop playing."
Finally, Puck nodded his head and smiled. Whatever happened over the next week before the upcoming game, both Rachel and Anne knew that Puck was going to be on that field.
Things changed after that. Puck started playing just as he had before and proved that he really did have the talent to be on the team. Chris started pressing even harder for Finn to be better and always berated him for allowing Puck to have a chance to shine. In turn, Finn became stress and tense, often letting it out by complaining to Quinn, who couldn't understand why Finn insisted on tormenting Puck so much. Quinn's best friend Santana Lopez didn't help matters much, but she did manage to surprise Puck when she showed up half-naked in the backseat of his car.
Puck's hazing also grew more intense over the passing weeks. They were constantly stealing his uniform, ignoring him in practice, and destroying the belongings in his locker. But Puck pressed on and refused to let it deter him.
Rachel wasn't used to her life being turned upside down like this. People were always whispering about Puck and looking at him. And when he started winning games, they would come up to him and congratulate him. In turn, Rachel was getting noticed a bit more as well. It was odd, because she was just used to being the resident music genius (all around genius, if you asked her) of Lima High School.
It was the Monday before another game, and Rachel was gathering up her sheets of music after practicing in the choir room. She arranged them into a neat pile and slid them into her backpack. She had half an hour to get to the café before work started, and she planned on stopping by the football field to check up on Puck before he started practice. She knew the guys on the team were still giving him a hard time, and she just wanted to make sure that he would be okay.
Before she could leave the choir room, however, Finn Hudson appeared. He was wearing his letterman jacket and a pair of jeans, his thick hair messy atop his head. Rachel tried not to notice it, but damn. He really was very attractive. It was extremely unfair.
Rachel considered just leaving the room without seeing what he wanted. But she just couldn't find it within herself to be that mean—killing them with kindness was the best way to handle this, after all.
But that didn't mean she was going to make it easy. Instead of greeting Finn, Rachel just stared at him until he started speaking. She wasn't going to be that nice to him.
Finn gave her an adorable half smile. Damn it, but he was too charming for his own good. "You're Rachel Berry, right?"
Rachel nodded her head slowly. "Yes…" she began, unsure of where he was going with that particular question.
Finn stepped closer to her. "And you're really good at music."
Rachel's brow furrowed. She knew this, and it was nice to hear, but still. "What's your point?"
"Well, I'm taking this beginner's class and I'm not doing so well. So I went to the tutoring center and they told me that you were the best."
"I am the best," Rachel stated. She couldn't believe that this was happening right now. Above all else, she couldn't fathom that Finn Hudson was standing in front of her, asking for help. "But I can't tutor you."
Finn actually looked kind of hurt by Rachel's blunt declaration. His shoulders dropped down slightly, and he suddenly looked very different from the cocky boy that had walked into the choir room. "Why not?"
Rachel gave him a look as if he was out of his mind. "You know that Noah is my best friend, right? If you weren't such a big jerk to him, I might consider it. But I refuse to betray him like that." Rachel did always have a flair for the dramatics, but she didn't really care that she was over exaggerating just a bit.
Finn smirked, and he was back to his old self once again. "I've been called a lot worse things than a jerk."
Rachel rolled her eyes and crossed her arms over her chest, effectively closing herself off to Finn. "You don't get it, do you? I'm not tutoring you."
Finn shrugged his shoulders and turned to leave the choir room. Before he stepped out, however, he waited until Rachel looked at him again. His amber eyes bored into hers, his expression unreadable.
"I thought that tutors were supposed to help people no matter what."
Rachel's mouth dropped open. How could Finn Hudson possibly appeal to her sense of right and wrong when he acted like such a jerk? Still, Finn's parting words rang in her ears as she headed towards the football field. She tried to ignore it, because she was sure that Finn was just trying to start trouble. But it had never been in Rachel to turn someone away when they needed help.
Thankfully, it wasn't long before Rachel reached the field, so she was able to push those thoughts and feelings of guilt away. Puck was just coming out of the locker room, so she was able to catch his attention quickly.
Puck gave her a mildly exasperated look, although Rachel could see some of the gratitude there. "I'm a big boy, Rachel," he said. "I don't need you to check up on me."
"It doesn't hurt," Rachel told him seriously. Puck had wanted to play football for the longest time, and the last thing he needed was to have the opportunity ruined by rude high school boys.
Puck understood what Rachel was doing, even if he pretended like he didn't appreciate it. "Thanks, Berry," he said sincerely. He nudged her against the shoulder and Rachel smiled in return. She may not have been completely convinced, but she would settle for now.
It was then that she noticed Finn approaching them from across the field. Puck noticed as well, and he tensed immediately. Rachel sighed internally and combed her fingers through her hair. Why was Finn trying to start something? What did he have to gain from doing this?
"Puckerman, Rachel," Finn greeted with a smirk.
Puck looked between Finn and Rachel, his eyes narrowing. "Hudson," he returned stiffly.
"Puck, I just wanted to let you know that we're having a party at my beach house Friday night after the game. You're invited." Finn looked towards Rachel, his eyes glinting mischievously. "You both are."
Rachel opened her mouth to turn Finn's invitation down, but Puck interrupted her. "We'll go," he accepted.
Finn smiled, his eyes remaining on Rachel the entire time. She shifted somewhat uneasily under his gaze, but tried not to let it show on her face. He nodded his head and jogged back over to his teammates, leaving Puck and Rachel standing on the sidelines.
As soon as Finn was gone, Rachel swatted at Puck's shoulder. "Noah!" she screeched. "Why did you say yes?"
Puck scowled and rubbed at the spot Rachel had hit him. "I'm not going to let Hudson try and intimidate me," he declared. "Speaking of Hudson, how did he know who you were, anyway?"
Rachel's cheeks turned bright pink as she tried to scramble for an answer to Puck's query. She shrugged her shoulders in a nonchalant manner, trying her best to play it off. She in no way wanted Puck to know that Finn had asked her to tutor him.
"We've been in school together since first grade," Rachel said. "It's not really a surprise that he knows my name." Puck didn't look particularly convinced, so Rachel just went with the tactic of diversion. "I think Santana Lopez is checking you out."
It was true. Santana was eyeing Puck up as if she wanted to eat him. She and the rest of the cheerleaders were getting ready for their practice. When she noticed that Puck was watching her, Santana bent over to stretch, allowing her extremely tiny shorts to ride up. Puck's lips stretched into a smirk and Rachel laughed and shook her head. Ever since Santana had showed up half-naked in the back of Puck's car, he had developed some kind of crush on her. Boys, honestly.
"It looks like I'll be having fun this Friday," Puck leered.
Rachel poked his shoulder hard with her index finger. "Don't be a pig," she scolded immediately. "And if you leave me alone during this party, you will see me throw a fit unlike anything you have ever experienced before. Now get to practice."
Puck saluted her, as they used to do when they were children. "Yes ma'am."
Rachel was glad that Puck was in a good mood, at least. Her duty as best friend done, Rachel turned to leave the football field and go to work. But as she left, she couldn't shake the feeling that someone was watching her—that someone being Finn Hudson.
Wednesday night rolled around. After practice on Monday, Puck and Rachel had decided that they were going to see a movie. Ever since Puck had started with football practices, they had had less and less time to hang out.
But it really didn't seem like they were going to get that time to hang out at all. It was only five minutes before the movie began, and Puck was supposed to meet Rachel at the theater over twenty minutes ago. Rachel felt like a real idiot standing outside of the movie theater by herself.
It turned out that there was a reason for Puck's delay, however. Ten minutes later, Rachel got a call from Anne. She hurried to the café, where she found Puck sitting in a chair, absolutely miserable and covered in mud.
Rachel gasped and ran over to him. He also had a pretty decent-sized bruise on the side of his face. She wasn't sure where he wasn't covered in mud, so she settled for touching his shoulder. "Noah, what happened?"
"What do you think happen?" Anne demanded. "It was those boys on the football team. They took their hazing a little too far and kidnapped him."
Puck sighed heavily. "It wasn't like that, Mom," he said quietly. Except it clearly was. They had basically kidnapped him and left him in some field in a puddle of mud. He had to walk back to the café, and his mother had just about had a kitten when she saw him.
Rachel stood up, her shoulders stiff. She knew what she had to do.
The following day, Rachel managed to snag Finn as he was walking down the hallway. She grabbed his hand and hauled him into an empty classroom, away from prying eyes.
"Damn, Rach," Finn said with a chuckle. "I had no idea that someone so tiny could be so strong."
"Shut up," Rachel ordered. "And listen, because I'm only going to say this once. Here's how this is going to work: I'm going to tutor you so you don't fail your class, and you're going to stop hazing Noah."
Finn didn't seem fazed by Rachel's forcefulness at all. "Okay."
"What?" Rachel's head jutted back in surprise. She hadn't expected it to be that easy at all. Recovering quickly, she added, "And you can't tell Noah, either. Actually, you can't tell anyone. No one can know that I'm tutoring you."
"Okay," Finn repeated.
Rachel crossed her arms over her chest and nodded her head once. "Good. Meet me in the auditorium at 6:00 tomorrow morning."
Finn grinned, and Rachel thought it was pretty dangerous looking (and Rachel wasn't about to admit that it made her heart thump in her chest). "Good."
Rachel sighed and checked the time on her phone once again. Finn was already ten minutes late, and the school was completely empty and quiet. It didn't seem as if he would really be getting there, either.
Rachel knew that she shouldn't have agreed to this. She should have known that Finn wasn't going to take this seriously. Rachel was a smart girl, and she should have realized this beforehand. Muttering under her breath about Neanderthal jocks, Rachel began to pack her music books into her bag.
Just then, the door to the auditorium opened and Finn came rushing down the aisle. Rachel seriously considered just blowing him off, but she couldn't. She just wasn't that kind of person—Finn needed help, and Rachel was going to give it.
Still, that didn't mean she couldn't give him crap for it. "You're late," Rachel stated.
Finn gave her that charming half smile that mad her heart thump harder in her chest. "Sorry, Rach," he said. "I stopped to pick up some breakfast for us."
Finn produced two coffee cups and extended one towards Rachel. Taking the cup from him, she tried to ignore the way their fingers brushed. She popped the lid on the drink and saw that it was a chai latte.
"I saw you drinking one earlier," Finn explained. Rachel's cheeks pinked at the thought of Finn watching her closely enough to know what she was drinking, and she almost missed what he said next. "And I bought this, too." He pulled a pack of Cracker Jacks from the pocket of his letterman jacket.
"That's hardly a balanced breakfast, Finn," Rachel pointed out. She took a sip of her chai and tried to hide her sigh of appreciation. It really was a very good latte.
Finn rolled his eyes good-naturedly and tore the packet open. Peeking into it, he smiled when he saw the prize inside. He pulled it out and stepped forward until he was practically chest to chest with Rachel.
She blinked in surprise and then stared up into his eyes. He was wearing that damn half smile that both infuriated her and thrilled her at the same time. With his large hands, he reached forward and dropped a necklace with colorful star-shaped beads around Rachel's neck.
Amber eyes warm, Finn said, "Don't say I never gave you anything."
Rachel's heart was thumping loudly in her ears. She had never been this close to Finn before, and it was doing things that she had never experienced. His calloused fingers brushed against her collarbone as he pulled away, and Rachel inhaled deeply. She wasn't prepared for the warmth that his touch caused.
Pulling herself from the trance she had suddenly found herself in, Rachel stepped back and reached for her bag. She pulled the music book out once again and thrust it towards Finn,.
"Find a song that you like and we'll begin with that after we warm up," Rachel said. She really hoped that Finn couldn't hear the slight shake to her voice. If he did, he didn't acknowledge it.
To Rachel's surprise, Fin took the book and began to look through it. She moved towards the piano, ready to begin playing for vocal warm ups.
What she didn't notice was that Finn was grinning at her the entire time.
"You're late. Again."
Finn dropped into his seat next to Rachel and let his bag fall to the ground. "Sorry," he mumbled.
Rachel tried not to let her concern for how Finn was acting overcome her anger for how he had behaved at the party of the weekend. Rachel hadn't wanted to go, but Puck had practically dragged her there. Naturally, Finn had made some comment and it had pissed Puck off and he left the party. Rachel stuck around long enough to berate Finn and then he gave her a ride home using Quinn's car.
Apparently it hadn't ended there, either. Puck had gone for a late night drive and found that Finn had gotten into a fender bender with Quinn's car and then just left it there. Puck had taken Quinn's car in to get fixed, and in doing so had found the hat that Rachel accidentally left in the car. To say that Puck hadn't been happy with her tutoring Finn was an understatement.
"Finn, you have to take this seriously. I know that we made a deal, but I'm not going to tutor you if you won't step up and make an effort." Rachel pointed at the beginner's music book she had put on the table. "Start with warm ups and then work on the song that we've been practicing."
Finn stared at the music book for a long moment before he rubbed a hand over his face. He didn't reach for the book, however, and Rachel couldn't help herself any longer. She had to ask what was going on with Finn.
"Finn, are you okay?" she asked, her voice softer.
Finn kept his gaze focused on the table. "Quinn and I broke up," he admitted. "And I'm still not doing well in this class and if I don't pass it they'll kick me off the football team and I just … it's a lot of change to think about."
Rachel bit her lip before she reached out and covered Finn's hand with his larger one. His amber eyes shot up towards her, but she refused to make eye contact with him. "Do you want my honest opinion?"
"It couldn't hurt."
"I think that Quinn wasn't very happy. And really, you didn't seem like you were either. You're right, it is a big change to deal with. But maybe it's what you guys need." Rachel took a deep breath before admitting to an observation she had been thinking of for quite a while. "You haven't seemed happy for a very long time."
Finn nodded his head slowly to acknowledge Rachel's theory about Quinn. She was right; it had been more of a relationship of convenience than anything else. It was probably was better that they broke up, anyway. Finn looked up at Rachel until his eyes connected with her big doe orbs.
"Sometimes I think about quitting football," Finn quietly confessed. He had never actually said those words out loud before, but it felt like some huge weight had been lifted off of him.
Rachel shrugged her shoulders and tightened her fingers around Finn's hand, offering comfort. "You need to have some fun with this game, Finn. Because that's all it is. It's just a game."
"It may seem like that to you, Rach, but it's more than that to me. Football is my future. Football is what I've been working towards my whole life. I can't just let it go." Finn rubbed the back of his neck with his free hand and closed his eyes. "I don't think I know how to have fun with the game anymore."
Rachel's heart broke for the young man sitting in front of her. So much more about Finn was being explained with just this single conversation. It helped her understand why he was the way he was. Rachel knew that despite her annoyance with his jabs at Puck and his constant lateness, she could never abandon him when he needed her help. Finn needed support, and he needed someone to not leave him.
"As your tutor, can I make a suggestion?"
That caused Finn to chuckle, because he honestly thought that Rachel was going to kick him to the curb and not tutor him anymore. "Sure."
"Promise me that you'll play a game of football just for fun this weekend. I don't care who you do it with, but don't keep score. Just let it be a game."
Finn nodded his head and then flipped his hand over so that his long fingers could curl around Rachel's much small palm. He squeezed tightly, and warmth spread from Rachel's hand and out to the rest of her body. "Okay."
Rachel rolled her eyes at the constant and childish scowl Puck was sending her way. "And you call me dramatic," she pointed out. "You're being ridiculous right now."
Puck ignored that jab. "Are you still tutoring Hudson?" he demanded.
Rachel sighed heavily. She kind of regretted walking with Puck to practice. She should have known that he would still be pissed about that. "Yes, Noah. I am."
Puck shook his head. He didn't trust Finn as far as he could throw him, and he was sure that he was up to something. "You don't need to do this to protect me, you know. I can take care of myself."
"It's not all about that anymore, Noah." Rachel ran her fingers through her hair, knowing that her friend wouldn't like what was going to come out of her mouth. "I can't just turn my back on Finn. That wouldn't be right, and you know it." When Puck continued to glower, Rachel pleaded, "Can you just trust me please? I know what I'm doing."
Puck looked up and found Finn walking towards them. "I trust you," he mumbled. "It's Hudson that I have a problem with."
Rachel didn't even bother to dignify that with a response, but mostly because her attention was on Finn and the quiz he was extending towards her. As soon as Rachel took the quiz from a him, a full smile lit up his face.
"Finn!" Rachel exclaimed. "An eighty-four? That's amazing!" Straining up on her tiptoes, Rachel acted on impulse and threw her arms around Finn's neck. His arms slipped around her waist, embracing her in return and Rachel tried not to think about how good it felt.
When Rachel pulled away from the hug, she handed the quiz back to Finn and squeezed his hand. "You two should get to practice," she said. She looked between Finn and Puck with a smile on her face and missed the tension between the two brothers. If she did notice it at all, Rachel chose not to acknowledge it.
"Thank you for coming to this game," Puck said quietly. They walked into the gym of Bear Creek High School and Rachel hitched her bag higher over her shoulder.
"It's not a big deal," she said. "This away game was only a whole hour and a half away and it's not like I had anything to do."
Puck shoved Rachel's shoulder and she was so tiny that she stumbled. "Don't act like you didn't bring your homework. That's why you have your backpack with you."
Rachel rammed her whole body into Puck as retaliation, but he didn't stumble like he did. He just chuckled instead, and Rachel scowled playfully at him. "Guilty," she confirmed. "But how else am I supposed to amuse myself? You know I don't know anything about football."
Rachel jumped a little when she felt a hand on her back, but she smiled when she heard Finn's voice. "Maybe since you're tutoring me in music, I can tutor you about football," he suggested with a half-smile. Rachel really did love that smile.
Rachel noticed the tense look on Puck's face and held back her sigh. Her friendship with Puck had mostly returned to normal. He had accepted that Rachel was tutoring Finn, but that didn't mean he was happy about it. Clearly, he still didn't trust Finn.
So instead of acknowledging Finn's words, she just looked between the two brothers and said, "Good luck on your game."
Forty-five minutes later they were well into the game, and Rachel was pretty engrossed in her homework. The only thing that distracted her was when there was a collective gasp from the crowd. Rachel looked up just in time to see Puck shove Finn. In retaliation, Finn dove for Puck and tried to punch him.
The fight got so out of hand that they collided with the cheerleaders and Santana Lopez somehow got entangled in their fight. It took two referees to break it up, and Beiste ended up benching both of them.
Rachel dropped her head into her hands and closed her eyes. This was past the point of ridiculousness. Something had to give here, and Rachel didn't want to think about how extreme it was going to have to get before it did.
Finn sat at one end of the bus and Puck sat at the other. They both had their headphones on and were trying their best to ignore everyone else. Even with their fight, the Titans still managed to win. But that didn't mean that anyone on the team was happy with them.
The students all looked up when the bus pulled over on the side of the road. Beiste got up and stood at the front of the bus, glaring at them for several long moments. Her eyes easily found Finn and then Puck, saving the most intense glare for them.
"Hudson! Puckerman! Get up here!"
Both boys shuffled reluctantly up towards Beiste. She waited until they were directly in front of her before she pointed to the open door of the bus. "Get off."
Puck and Finn looked at her with matching looks of surprise. "What?" they said in unison.
"Get off," Beiste repeated. "If you two are going to act like idiots, you can do it while you're walking home."
"But… Coach…" Finn looked around the bus, seeing if any of their teammates would protest this unfairness. But no one said anything. "That's a long walk."
"Congratulations, Hudson. I'm glad you know that. At least you'll have Puckerman to keep you company during the walk."
Beiste obviously wasn't going to budge on this matter, so Puck and Finn grabbed their bags and climbed off of the bus. They secretly hoped that Beiste was just messing with them and would change her mind. But the bus pulled away from them, leaving Finn and Puck stranded on the side of the road.
Well. This wasn't how either of them imagined this day going.
Rachel checked her phone once again and shook her head. Beiste had been so angry that she had herded all the players on the bus and left immediately. That left Rachel waiting with the rest of the students who had come via a shuttle bus that ran between both schools.
Rachel was pissed at Puck's unbelievable stupidity for getting into a fight and leaving her alone in the first place. And she was so disappointed with Finn for provoking a fight with Puck. She really thought that things had been getting better with him
Rachel was pulled out of her thoughts and found Quinn Fabray standing next to her. Trying not to show the surprise on her face, she said, "Oh. Hello, Quinn. How are you?"
Quinn smiled but didn't respond to Rachel's question. Instead, she said, "So you're tutoring Finn."
"Just… be careful, okay?"
Rachel's brow furrowed. She knew that Finn had a tendency to create trouble, but she had never known him to be outright malicious. Maybe Rachel had just seen another Finn that a lot of people didn't get to witness.
"What do you mean?" Rachel asked.
Quinn shrugged her shoulders. "Sometimes Finn likes to mess with people. Just be sure that he's not trying to play you, okay?"
Rachel didn't really want to take heed of Quinn's warning. Their tutoring sessions now always began with a shared coffee as they talked about what was going on in their lives. Rachel got to have these private, intimate moments with Finn, and she was sure that she was getting to see what Finn Hudson was really like.
Instead of saying all of that, Rachel just said, "Thanks, Quinn. I'll keep that in mind." Deciding to give the same courtesy to Quinn, Rachel added, "And be careful with Puck, okay?"
Quinn looked confused. "I didn't think Puck was like that."
"Oh, I know that." Rachel crossed her arms. She knew that Puck and Quinn had been talking more and more, but she also knew that Santana was after Puck. That was one love triangle that Rachel didn't need to know anything about. "I meant be careful with Puck because he's be through a lot and he doesn't need to suffer through a broken heart."
Quinn stared down at Rachel with her blonde brows arched. And then she smiled and laughed. "Listen, I'm waiting for Santana to get her ankle wrapped. I have to drive her car back tonight. Why don't you come with us instead of waiting for the bus?"
Rachel thought about saying no. Quinn Fabray and Santana Lopez weren't exactly the kind of people she hung out with. But on the plus side, she wouldn't have to wait another half an hour for the bus.
"Thanks," Rachel accepted.
A high pitched giggle reached them from the athletic trainer's room, and then Santana came stumbling out. Quinn caught her with a mildly exasperated look on her face.
"Quinn!" Santana exclaimed. "Quinn, the nice athletic trainer man gave me some awesome pain pills! Woo!"
Quinn rolled her eyes and shifted Santana so she could walk with support without putting too much pressure on her injured ankle. "Come on, Santana. Let's get you to your car. Rachel, can you unlock it for us?"
Rachel took the keys that Quinn was offering her as Santana's head swiveled towards her. "Rachel? Oh my God, are you a new friend?"
Rachel couldn't hide her laughter. Whatever pain medication Santana had been given had made her incredibly loopy. "Hi, Santana."
Santana tapped her cheek thoughtfully. "Hmmm, you know what? I don't like the name Rachel. Your new name is Santana!"
Rachel and Quinn laughed while shaking their heads. This was certainly going to be an interesting drive home.
But Santana renaming Rachel was hardly the weirdest thing that happened that night. Somewhere down the dark highway they were driving on, they came upon Finn and Puck. They both looked a little worse for wear and were covered in mud. Quinn pulled up to them and put the car in park, and she and Rachel simply stared at them. Santana was still passed out in the back seat—the pain medication had finally fully kicked in.
Puck sighed heavily. "Don't ask," he called out to them. But he looked just as confused as to why Rachel was in a car with Quinn and Santana.
Rachel held her hands up. "I won't ask as long as you don't ask."
Santana suddenly shot up in the backseat. "What's going on?" she demanded sleepily. Her eyes narrowed when she spotted Rachel. "Who the hell are you?" And then she saw Puck, and a slow smirk spread on her lips. "Oh, hello Puck!"
Quinn shook her head. "I think the pain pills are still affecting her."
Another moment of awkward silence passed, and then Quinn was telling the guys to get in the car. Puck nudged Rachel when he climbed into the car. Rachel simply shrugged her shoulders in response.
Their drive back to Lima High School was long and quiet. But when Rachel looked up in the rearview mirror, she caught Finn's eye. He smiled at her, and Rachel bit her lip as her cheeks turned red. She smiled at him in return.
I kind of planned on season one being in one chapter, but it looks like this story will be a lot longer than I thought it would be. The chapters may take a little while to get out, but I promise that they'll be pretty long. Thanks for reading!