Hey guys! I know it's been ages, but I finally got a muse and I managed to bang out this one shot. This summer will be spent with me finishing Collide, then I think I'll be working on an original story. I'm not sure yet what it'll be about, but I feel like I've been writing long enough that I could write my own novel. I don't know. Anyways, I hope you like this. Be sure to read the message at the bottom for more information you might need. Enjoy!

Working at Burt's shop had its benefits. Sure, it wasn't the same as working in Los Angeles like Puck had originally planned, but it was close to home, which meant close to his mom and Jake. He had decided to take the tuition money he and his mom had been saving and put it towards a little apartment where he could live on his own and work on his writing. He took night classes at the local community college and worked at the garage during the day. While at first becoming some big writer had been a joke, he liked putting his imagination down on paper. His stories were pretty rough, but they were works in progress, and someday, they could be really great. At least that's what Rachel always told him.

Yes, Noah Puckerman was friends with Rachel Berry. If you had told sophomore Puck this, he would have laughed at you, then thrown a slushy in your face. But he had changed. They both had. She wasn't the same power-crazed diva who shoved her talent down your throat every chance she got. He wasn't the same Neanderthal jock who somehow thought slushying a person was a reasonable method of torture. Glee changed them, both as individual people and their relationship. There was always a little sexual tension between them (they were two hot Jews, it was natural), but other than the occasionally drunken texts, their flirtationship was relatively innocent.

In spite of everything that had happened between them, Rachel was Puck's best friend. Her being a million miles away in New York City probably should make this fact a little suspicious, but they texted each other constantly and had usually daily phone calls to fill each other in on what was happening in their separate lives. When he had first found out about Jake, he had called her absolutely lost on how to handle this new information, and she assured him he would be an amazing brother. When she found out about Brody being a hooker, she called him in tears, and he almost jumped on a plane to be there for her and kick the dude's ass, but she convinced him not to. They were there for each other, no matter what.

It had seemed like a normal day at the garage. Puck had a few cars he'd been working on, two of which had to be finished that day, so he was busting his ass to get them ready to be driven out. It was Wednesday, which meant Jake would be coming to the garage after Glee to do homework and then the two of them would go out for dinner. It had started out when they got back from Los Angeles, Puck wanting to keep an eye on his little bro and keep updated with whatever shit he was going through. Somehow it turned into a regular thing, but neither of them were complaining. They went to this little diner in the town over and ate food they wouldn't let themselves eat during the rest of the week because it was so bad for them.

He had just finished the second of his "to-be-completed" cars when he looked up at the clock. His eyebrows furrowed when he realized Jake should have been at the garage already. He pulled out his phone to see if he had texted him to cancel for some reason. What he saw made his heart drop.

Puck- Gunshots. Stuck in choir room. - Jake

His heard started pounding and he ran over to where the TV in the garage was set up. The other guys hollered when he changed it. "Shut the fuck up!" he yelled back, and they quieted when they recognized his panic, most of them coming over to him. He switched to the news and his heart stopped when he saw the headline at the bottom of the screen: "Two Gun Shots Fired At McKinley High School. Some Students Still Inside". He ran his hand over his shaved head, then fell back into a chair. "Fuck," he muttered, similar responses coming from his work mates. "I- shit, my brother is there. I need- I have to go. Where- Burt?" He looked around until his eyes landed on his boss.

"Go, son," he told him, nodding once. That's all Puck needed before he was rushing from the shop, forgoing his car and just taking off for the school. The closer he got, the louder the sirens got, and the more his heart clenched. Eventually he started passing distraught students being comforted by their parents. The school appeared in front of him and he kept moving until he saw a familiar face.

"Tina!" he called, rushing towards her and grabbing her shoulders. "Where is he? Where's Jake?" he asked frantically, finally noticing her tears. She simply looked back at the school, then began crying again. He pulled her into his arms, sighing as he looked up at the school.

"Noah?" he heard, then turned to see Jake's mom, Tanisha. He pulled away from Tina, who soon ran into the arms of what appeared to be her mother, and walked over to his quasi-step-mom. "How did you-"

"I got a text from him, turned on the news to see what was up, then came here. I wish I had known sooner. I was working and I- but he was late so I-"

"It's okay. You're here now," she said, giving him a sad smile and pulling him in for a hug. He let out a slow breath, trying to release some of his nerves.

They turned towards the school and waited for what seemed like forever until SWAT showed up and entered the school. Slowly, more and more students began leaving the school, causing Puck to realize that his brother and the glee club weren't the only people who had been stuck in the school while all of this had been happening. Some of the people he recognized, some he didn't, but no matter who they were, they all came out looking thoroughly terrified. It broke his heart knowing that he was going to see his friends and brother look just as terrified.

Brittany and Sam exited the school first, wrapped up in each other with their faces showing clear signs of crying. Sam looked up at him and nodded once, Puck nodding back. It wasn't a hug like he'd given Tina, but that was all they needed. Blaine and Ryder helped carry Artie down the stairs, all three of them looking just as forlorn as Sam and Brittany had. Artie slowly rolled past him and he reached down to squeeze his shoulder, the wheelchair-bound boy reaching up to tap his hand before rolling away.

Finally, Jake exited after them, holding Marley close as the mousy girl continued to cry softly. Puck and Tanisha rushed to their side, Tanisha taking Marley into her arms to calm her while Puck pulled Jake into his arms and hugged him tightly. He could feel his brother sob against his shoulder as he patted his back, holding him close as he tried to calm him down. "You're okay," Puck assured him. "Everything's okay." Puck didn't really believe his own words even as he said them. He knew that no matter what happened, nothing would ever be fully okay again. He could see it in the faces of all of his friends. Their innocence to the world was shattered. Sure, Jake didn't really have all of his innocence to begin with, not after everything their dad had put him through, but now it was further diminished, and that killed Puck. He would do anything to bring back that sense of security and innocence, if only to stop his brother from feeling like this.

When Marley saw her mom, she rushed to her, and Puck let go of Jake so he could go into his mother's arms. Looking back up at the school, he ran his hand over his Mohawk and shook his head. How could this happen?

Things had slowly calmed down after everyone had been cleared from the school. Students and faculty, along with their loved ones, returned to their homes to deal with the emotional aftermath of what had happened. Puck left Jake and Tanisha to deal with what had happened as a family, deciding to head to his apartment to sort out everything going on in his head instead. He was currently lounging on his couch, nursing a beer he had bought with his fake ID while watching the coverage from the shooting that was on the news. There were no leads or suspects, and that was the one thing that really pissed him off. If there had been a suspect, he could probably figure out a reason for why they would do what they did, but no one had the slightest clue what had happened. No one knew who to blame or how to go about ensuring it would never happen again. Puck had no one to hate for doing this to his brother and friends. He let out a frustrated groan as he turned the TV off, then tossed back the rest of his beer. Just then his phone rang, and he reached over to grab it off the table, letting out a sigh when he saw it was Rachel calling him.

"Hey Rach," he answered, the dread and pain clear in his voice.

"How are you holding up Noah? How is Jake and everyone else?" she asked right away, her usual concern taking over immediately.

Puck rolled his eyes and shook her head. Of course she'd forgo a normal greeting and jump right into her questions. "I'm exhausted and I wish today never happened. Jake's with his mom. You should have seen his face Rach."

"Oh Noah... I wish I was there with you. I wish I could have been there for our friends, to make sure they were okay," she replied, a sigh coming through the line. "To make sure you're okay."

A sarcastic laugh escaped Puck. "They're alive. That's about as 'okay' as they can hope to be right now. They were all so messed up and- shit, even Sam was crying. That shit's not kosher, Rach. Brittany looked like she found out Santa's not real, and Artie even managed to roll past me sadly. And don't even get me started on Tina. If we thought 'My Funny Valentine' was bad, we seriously underestimated Cohen-Chang's crying abilities," he explained, grabbing another beer and popping the top before taking a swig.

"I'll have to call them all later," Rachel said in a quiet voice, staying surprisingly quiet considering her usual behavior. "How are you really Noah? I'm worried about you."

"I don't know, Rach... I know I wasn't there in that room with them, but I keep thinking about what they were going through and the police don't know who did that or what happened and it's driving me fucking crazy," he told her with another groan. "Usually when people fuck with the people I love, I can go hurt that person right back. That's why Jewfro spent so much time in the dumpster."

Rachel interrupted him before he could continued. "Wait, what does Jacob have to do with anything?" she asked, genuinely confused.

"After all the shit he did to you? He's lucky I didn't punch that stupid ass fro off of him," he answered, as if it was totally obvious. "Why do you think I wanted to go all the way out to New York and kick that Brody guy's ass?"

"I'm not sure I'm following, Noah," she alerted him.

Puck hesitated before finally giving up and saying, "Fuck... I love you Rachel. I can't believe it took me almost losing our friends and family to realize it, but it's true. Hell, I've been halfway in love with you since that week we dated."

"Noah?" Rachel tried to interrupt, only to be talked over by Puck.

"I'm sorry it took this long for me to say it, but you've always been someone else's girl. First Finn, then Jesse, then Finn again, then this Brody dude."

"Noah?" she tried again, a little more insistent.

"I never thought I'd ever be more than just your friend, but after all of this, I needed to get that out. If you don't feel the same why I-"

"Noah!" she shouted, finally cutting off his rambling.

"Yeah Rach?" he asked, practically panting into the phone.

She laughed softly. "I love you too."


"I love you too, you silly boy," she told him, her smile coming through the line. "I think that's why it was easier to get over Brody and why I continued going back to you whenever Finn and I were on break. I've always been drawn to you, Noah, but I never knew what it meant. Now I do. I love you."

A bright smile came over Puck's lips when he heard those words. "Well then I guess this would be a good time to tell you that Burt got me a job in his friend's garage in New York City, huh?" he mused, smirking slightly when he heard her surprised gasp.

"But wherever shall you live?" she asked in a playful tone.

"Hmm perhaps with my sexy Jewish American princess girlfriend? That is if she wants to be my girlfriend."

"I'd love to be your girlfriend, Noah," she replied sweetly. "And I love you."

"I love you too Rachel."

Three months later, Puck was sitting on the couch, waiting for Rachel to get home from her Funny Girl rehearsal. He still couldn't believe that he was in New York City and that his girlfriend was playing Fanny Brice in the revival. He worked at the garage Burt had set him up at while taking night classes at NYU for music and screenwriting. The music thing was all Rachel's idea, but if he was being completely honest, he loved it.

When his phone began ringing, he looked at the screen and picked it up with a smile. "'Sup bro?"

"Hey man, how's the city?" Jake asked. The two half-brothers had grown even closer after the whole shooting incident, eventually getting drunk together in Puck's apartment when the truth about Becky and Sue came out.

"It's awesome, man. So much better than I had remembered it. Plus, I'm with my girl. This is the life. I'm telling you," he replied. "How're things back in Lima?"

"Pretty good. We're getting ready for Nationals. Still can't believe we won Regionals," Jake stated, shaking his head.

"Yeah I heard. Rach and I are planning on heading to wherever it is this year to watch," he told his brother.

"You never did tell me how you two got together," the high schooler pointed out.

"I guess it kinda had something to do with you. After that whole shooting thing when I was freaking out over you and our friends, I realized how short life was and I didn't want to leave this world without telling Rachel how much she meant to me," he explained, laughing lightly at the end. "I'm really glad nothing happened to you that day, bro. Don't know what I would've done if I'd lost you."

"I'm not going anywhere, man. You're stuck with me."

While Puck was on the phone, Rachel came into the apartment and then plopped herself in his lap. "I couldn't be happier stuck," he stated, turning to kiss Rachel's palm as she ran her fingers along the side of his face. He said his goodbye to Jake, then cuddled with his girlfriend, promising to take advantage of every moment he had on this earth.

So? What did you think? Leave me a review with your thoughts! Also, I had to deactivate my original tumblr and make a new one, which has the same URL (puckleberryshipper326 . tumblr . com [without spaces]) so be sure to follow me for any updates I might have. That's all for now. Love you all!