Title: And I Waited
Prompt: “I’m afraid of losing you when you’re not even mine.” – puckrachel drabble meme on LJ (by: Sarcastic_Fina)
He waited, sitting under a tree, on the outskirts of the bonfire and watched as she spun in circles, her laughter carrying over the crackling of the fire and the voices of their friends, dancing and celebrating the end of summer and the beginning of the rest of their lives. The sight sent a pang of fear and longing through his whole body, jealously quickly joining in as his ex-best friend grabbed her hand and pulled her close for a kiss.
It was a feeling he had grown quite familiar with over the last few months. He didn’t like it.
High school was over and they were all leaving for different schools over the next week. She was heading to Tisch in New York with a full ride (hell yea she was), her boyfriend had (somehow) pulled off an admission to Ohio State and he was off to Oberlin (believe it that he knew that was all her fault for kicking his ass senior year…and okay, maybe he wasn’t as terrible a student as he let on. You think he wouldn’t have been expelled for that juvie record otherwise?).
He was pretty certain he was going to hate the feelings he’d have to get familiar with after next week.
Still he waited. He always waited.
It took almost another hour but finally she dropped down beside him in the shadows and grinned her thousand watt smile in his direction (…fuck)as a heavy silence descended over them, the sounds of the party seemingly drifting off into nothing, and still he waited.
“You’re being anti-social.” All the tiny brunette received as a response was a shrug. “No, seriously. That’s not like you. I figured, of anyone, you’d be the most vocal tonight. We graduated!”
He couldn’t help but chuckle at the enthusiasm in her voice. He knew (fuck did he know)that high school had been a living nightmare most days for both of them; despite how differently they may have each handled it. Getting out was the dream.
He tossed, what he hoped was, a casual smile in her direction and shook his head before answering quietly, “We did graduate and now we’re leaving.”
He couldn’t help the smirk at the confused expression she adopted before responding, “That’s a good thing Noah. We’re going to achieve all our dreams.”
He wondered if she realized how badly her statement reminded him of being tackled on the field. The very thought of her leaving him felt the same as if a 200 pound linebacker had slammed into him and cracked a few ribs in the process.
He didn’t expect it to hurt this much; and, it certainly wasn’t his place to even feel this much pain over it (liar).
“Noah?” she prompted again. “What’s wrong?”
He let his eyes drift away from her and back to the party – gleeks, some of the less obnoxious jocks, the jazz band – and watched their friends for a moment before turning back to her, “Nothing’s wrong Rachel. I guess now that we’re leaving it’s just hitting me. Fuck it, I’m drunk. Ignore me.”
“You’re not drunk,” she replied, laughing a bit. “You’ve barely touched any alcohol tonight.”
“Oh yea, how’d you know that?”
“Cause I was watching you,” she admitted and he couldn’t help the small burst of hope that hit him when she said it and left him cursing his own stupidity for it. “You’ve just been sitting over here. I was concerned.”
“Well…don’t be. I was just, ya know, practicing. Gonna be a starving artist in a few years. Figured I’d get a jump start on that whole vibe. Shouldn’t you be with Finn?”
“Nice deflection,” she replied in the dry tone that he had only ever heard her use around him (or, when she was, like, really pissed off). “Finn’s fine. He’s regaling the football players here with stories of how awesome playing ball for Ohio State is going to be.”
His brow furrowed when she said that and the answer left his mouth colored by confusion, “But…he didn’t get on the football team.”
“Finn seems to think that was a small oversight and he will rectify the situation next year.”
“Riiiiiigggghhhttttt,” he drawled out, rolling his eyes at the other boy’s stupidity. One championship in four years does not make a Buckeye. There was a reason Puck didn’t have a football scholarship, despite being one of the better players on that whole damn team. Beiste couldn’t have paid a scout to come look at her guys. “I’ll ask Evans (who, ya know, did make the team)or Artie to video tape that conversation with the coach. Should be a good laugh.”
“Noah be nice,” Rachel responded half-heartedly. He knew she had long since given up on trying to figure out why the boy’s friendship had finally reached it’s total breaking point and he had no intention on cluing her in. By January of their senior year Rachel had finally just told Finn that she was friends with him and her boyfriend would have to deal with it and trust her.
He leaned back harder on the tree and watched Rachel’s profile as her gaze began wandering the party, though she didn’t seem bored, and finally followed her gaze when her head hadn’t moved for a full minute. When he saw what she was looking at he sighed in regret (not relief, nope) for her.
“She’s going to OSU too,” Rachel whispered and all he could do was nod in agreement. “How long do you think it’s going to take?”
“Depends on how long you want to hold on,” he told her bluntly, not bothering to pretend that he didn’t know what she meant. “Do you want to go to NYU knowing that your douche bag of a boyfriend is at college with Quinn and be constantly wondering? Or do you want to break things off now and just accept the inevitable.”
When her eyes widened in slight shock he conceded that he may have stepped over a line with that one.
“I trust Finn,” she muttered finally and threw him a slight glare when he snorted. “I do. We’ve had a really good year this year.”
“Yea, you have,” he admitted (asshole hadn’t even marginally screwed up all year; probably, due to the fact that Finn took the very detailed threats he had dished out, ending their tentatively renewed friendship in the process, to heart).
“I’m not stupid you know,” she cut off whatever else he may have said. “There’s a reason I told Finn I was going to New York and not coming back last year.”
“So what? You both go off to college and just, what, wait until you’re so frustrated by the distance that you break up? Want me to go get you a dead horse you can beat while you’re at it?”
“Oh shush. It’s just that I fought for him for so long and I don’t give up on things Noah.”
“I know you don’t Rach,” he agreed, gesturing to himself. “Hell, you got me into college.”
“You got yourself into college,” she immediately corrected. “I just helped you focus and put together a portfolio of all that music you had under your bed.”
“Speaking of which, you never did tell me how you found that.” Despite the darkness he could see the blush color her cheeks at his comment and raised an eyebrow in interest, “Well?”
“Your mom gave them to me.”
Over sixteen years of knowing Rachel Berry (seriously, he met her when he was like two)and he didn’t think he’d ever been as shocked by anything that had ever come out of her mouth as he was at that moment.
“Yea, she didn’t think you’d do anything with them if she suggested it. So she gave them to me. You really did everything yourself Noah. It’s your songs that got you into Oberlin, it’s your songs that got you enough of a scholarship to even be able to go. I just, organized stuff.”
“Rachel Berry being modest,” he teased lightly, yanking on a strand of hair and then tucking it behind her ear. “I’m going to miss you so much,” he whispered and swallowed the curse that wanted to follow the inadvertent admission.
“I’m going to miss you too Noah,” she whispered back, the shine in her eyes and slight waiver in her voice telling him that there was a strong possibility of tears in his near future (well, his shoulder’s future). “But we’ll be in touch.”
“Sure we will,” he muttered back. “You’re worried about losing your boyfriend and you think we’re going to keep in touch?”
“We’re different,” she said simply, stating it like it was a fact.
“How can you be so sure?”
“Because you’re my best friend.”
This statement got another snort of laughter in response (Best friends? God really hated him didn’t he?), “Your best friend huh? That’s great Rach.”
“And I think we’re back to the first part of our conversation. What the hell is wrong Noah Puckerman?”
He blinked and looked around quickly, wondering how the hell her sudden shrill tone hadn’t caught anyone else’s attention (and more then a little grateful, and shocked, in general that Finn hadn’t swept in yet to break up their private chat in the dark), “You really want to know what’s wrong Rach?”
“I’ve asked more then a few times now Noah. So yes. I do.”
“Fine,” he groaned and inhaled sharply before blurting out what had been wrong since (if he was being truthful)Sectionals of Junior Year. “I’m afraid of losing you when you’re not even mine.”
And, there it was, the stunned expression he had been trying to avoid for a very, very long time. He still had no idea how someone so smart was that fucking dumb.
“What are you even talking about?” (Wait, what?)“You’re not going to lose me Noah, ever. I repeat, I’m not stupid you know.”
“But…wait…I don’t think we’re on the same page here Rach,” he spluttered (Shut up. Shut up. Shut up.)
“Yes we are,” she whispered and reached over to squeeze his hand tightly. “I’m going to NYU, you’re going to Oberlin. You’re going to major in Composition and Theory and then you’re going to get your ass to New York. You are never, ever, going to lose me Noah Puckerman. But, until then…you’re my best friend.”
“Rach…I,” he mumbled, confused and more then a little embarrassed (and ya know, freakishly hopeful).
“You think I couldn’t have gotten Finn into a school in New York if I pushed him hard enough?” she whispered, ducking her head to catch his eyes. “I told him, I was going to New York and I was never coming back. I never gave him the option of anything else…and he chose not to even consider it.”
“Then what was this year?”
“Getting him out of my system and making sure that you’d always be my best friend.”
“Always Rach,” he agreed, squeezing the hand that was still holding his. “So, you gonna do that long distance thing?”
“Probably not,” she admitted and then looked a little regretful. “With anyone.”
And again, with the tackled to the ground feeling, “Oh.”
“It’s four years Noah and I’m not letting you go more then a few days at a time without talking to me. And there are school breaks. We’ll be so busy it’ll fly by.”
“We wait,” she told him, wiping her eyes quickly (his shoulders were already kind of missing those tears).
“And if you fall in love with some theatre guy who shares your crazy along the way before we have a shot to see if you can be mine for real?”
The silence that he was met with sent that familiar stabbing pain of longing and jealousy right back through his body. A pain that left immediately when she eventually replied, even if she did roll her eyes at the same time, “I really don’t see that happening. Besides, Kurt would kill me if I didn’t give him Puckleberry version 2.0.”
Before he could reply he heard Finn’s voice calling her and glanced up to see the other boy waving for Rachel. He was only a little surprised when she didn’t immediately move and instead kept her hand tightly in his. He let his thumb ghost over her knuckles once before squeezing her hand again and (reluctantly)letting it go.
When she still didn’t get up he knew he had to get her moving; she didn’t deserve the argument she’d receive from Finn if she didn’t get going.
“So,” he prompted. “We wait?”
“Yes,” she replied, nodding as she stood. “We wait.”
He settled back against the tree once more and let his eyes follow Rachel as she made her way back to Finn and their friends.
It was cool.
He could wait. He was used to it.
She was worth it.