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Fic: Perfect Note 1/2



Title: Perfect Note
Rating: Teen
Fandom: Glee/X-men crossover
Summary: Rachel made her peace with being a mutant a long time ago, even if the attitude in Lima, Ohio made it necessary to stay in the mutant closet for the time being.  It gets a little lonely, though, and she can't help but wish that there was someone else with a similar problem.


The auditorium was empty, which was pretty much perfect for her needs. There was very little glass in this room and nothing that would readily absorb her voice as she sang. Despite what her father had said this morning about maybe taking a step back from singing while she was in school, there couldn’t be a more perfect place to practice. The acoustics were quite good for a school auditorium and her voice carried through the room quite well when she sang, even when she kept it soft.

Her parents were against her joining glee club back when Mr. Ryerson was the teacher in charge of it, and the attitude didn’t change when Mr. Schuester started it back up. She couldn’t fault the logic of it all, of course. It was one thing for her to record videos in her room and post them on the internet; she could practice over and over until everything was perfect before she put one up and they could review it to make sure that nothing happened during the recording. The comments weren’t uniformly nasty there, and the ones that were had a decidedly personal twist on them that she could actually ignore much more easily than if they had been anonymous.

Performing in real life was trickier. Rachel had been working for years on her vocal control, but there was a reason that all of the windows in her house had much thicker glass than was normal. That was part of the reason she wanted to join glee club in the first place, actually. Performing in a group might make it easier to slide past any possible slip-ups without revealing the actual culprit. It would be a good testing ground, a way to become used to the trials of singing in public with the buffer and added protection of her teammates. Granted, sometimes she got the feeling that Kurt would shove her down the stairs for a solo and Mercedes had a habit of spouting anti-mutant rants when the topic came up at all, but perhaps they wouldn’t realize what had happened.

She was already warmed up from Glee rehearsal, so she closed her eyes and launched into ‘Spoonful of Sugar’ from Mary Poppins. Julie Andrews had an amazing range and the songs from that musical soared. It didn’t hurt that Mary Poppins was her favorite musical as a child, before her parents introduced her to Barbra Streisand when she was nine. Rachel let loose once she got to the final chorus, enjoying the opportunity to relinquish the tight control she’d been keeping everywhere else. The hum at the base of her throat and in her chest felt good, especially when she knew she wouldn’t be hurting anything in here. Back at Xavier’s there’d been a room down in the basement that was perfect for such a thing, and the grounds surrounding the school were large enough that she could just let loose. That freedom was sorely missing from Lima. Even when she was at home she still had to be careful.

She finished the song with a flourish, letting her voice carry to the far reaches of the auditorium. There was a slight buzz against the exposed skin of her arms, but it faded away quickly and there didn’t seem to be any ill effects out in the auditorium. Rachel smiled. She could handle this, she knew she could. Rachel Berry was going to be a star.

xxx

It was hard sometimes, not having any mutant friends after being surrounded by them for close to three years of her life. She was always on the lookout for someone that could relate with being different and it was hard not to wish that the other members of the glee club would be a little more mutant-friendly. They all flew to Kurt’s side at the first hint of homophobia, but the way she’d heard them gossip made it obvious she could never come out of the mutant closet here and be accepted. In the meantime, she was going to watch.

She figured it out almost by accident. Rachel had known Noah Puckerman since she was practically in diapers despite the fact that they hadn’t publicly acknowledged each other between the ages of ten and sixteen, unless you included slushie facials. The Jewish community of Lima, Ohio was not particularly large, after all, and neither was the school. She’d never really made it any sort of priority to look for him, though. Attention paid to Noah Puckerman was attention taken away from her classes and lessons and the hard work it took to be a star. Then she’d been away for most of middle school, only back for summer break, and didn’t return to the school district until it was time to start high school. By the end of the first grading period of freshman year, the only reason she’d spent time watching Noah Puckerman was because she was trying to avoid a slushie attack.

It wasn’t until he joined Glee Club, along with several other football players, that he became anything other than an obstacle to her inevitable fame on Broadway. Being in Glee Club meant that he was one of them and Rachel always tried to keep an eye on her fellow Glee Club members. That meant that one morning she saw him stop on his way down the hall, blink, and take two steps back and one step over, just in time to avoid any splatter from a slushie thrown at Jacob ben Israel.

It happened again the next afternoon, when he stepped out of the way of Finn’s flailing limbs during an improperly executed piece of choreography. Once could have been a fluke, simply the football player paying attention to the rhythm of the school and the odds that Jacob had a frozen beverage thrown at him easily once a day. The second time seemed a little too coincidental, but given Finn’s approach to dancing it was definitely within the realm of possibility. It took seeing him stomp on the brakes of his truck when a chain of events led to Artie and his wheelchair rolling into the oncoming traffic for Rachel to successfully note the pattern and keep an eye out for similar incidents.

She filed all of her observations and mental notes in a small, tidy corner of her mind, along with the conclusions that she drew from them, and didn’t do anything further with the information. It wasn’t her job to drag Noah screaming and kicking out of the mutant closet, especially considering her own position behind the shoe rack. As far as she knew, they were the only two at the school and being in that kind of minority wasn’t anything she was planning on disclosing. Getting a slushie facial because she was annoying someone and was in glee club was one thing. There was a very real possibility of violence if word got out about her genetics.

Knowing that there was someone else at McKinley with a similar problem was comforting, even if Noah didn’t realize that they had anything in common beyond being Jewish. In some ways she missed being at Xavier’s. It was just so easy to fit in there because everyone was so different. The fact that she had an amazing singing voice that could also shatter glass and crack concrete walls was absorbed into the general knowledge that her roommate could snap her fingers and make literal fireworks appear and that her roommate’s best friend could walk through walls, and more than one of her fellow students had teased her about making it big and becoming the first mutant icon. Her inevitable fame was why she left, actually. Someday, when she was a famous singer and actress, a member of the press was going to do background on her past. The school worked best when its purpose remained a secret, so it was much, much better if she attended a normal American high school. Rachel reminded herself about that particular decision every time she had to rinse food dye and corn syrup from her hair.

xxx

Puck was only vaguely aware of why he’d started with slushies back in ninth grade but he knew exactly why he’d continued the practice for over a year (it was one of the easiest ways to keep the losers in their place, for one, and it made everybody in the hallway look when one was delivered). He’d slowed down with the practice, if only because it got kind of expensive and because most of his former objects of torment were now his teammates and that shit wasn’t kosher, but sometimes he still wanted to hit Rachel Berry with one despite it all. She always talked all the time about crap that didn’t matter, for one thing, and it was annoying how she was practically skywriting ‘Do me now’ to Hudson.

He’d been a little worried for a week or so that she was transferring her crazy attentions to him because it seemed like she was always staring at him and he was starting to wonder if he would need to do something about it (sex with the girl in question, for example, so she could stop wondering about the mysteries of Puck and actually experience them). Then she stopped, just as suddenly as she’d started. She went back to staring longingly at Finn and Puck could finally relax.

Glancing ahead didn’t do anything to explain what the hell she was doing. If Berry was planning something, it was so long term that he’d have to wait and figure it out later. Right now, though, she’d stopped staring. She even smiled at him sometimes, which was beyond weird. He didn’t have time for anything more than the baby drama around Quinn. Berry could wait.

xxx

When the notice about auditions for the play went up, she couldn’t help but sign up and give it her all. It was the perfect opportunity to see how her talents could handle a solo performance. Rachel knew that ‘Cabaret’ wasn’t going to be something that sold out a packed auditorium in this part of Ohio, but the chance to sing the lead in an environment that was just about completely safe wasn’t something that Rachel could pass up.

She had fully intended on staying in glee club until Mr. Schuester started giving away her solos out of some sort of spite. If it had been any other song Rachel would have let it slide, but ‘West Side Story’ was a deal-breaker. Tina was a very accomplished alto, but she didn’t have the vocal range to pull it off or the confidence to sing it out the way it deserved.

Her control didn’t waver either time she delivered the news, which pleased her. She had been angry both times and in the past that probably would have resulted in broken glass and tears. All right, there were a few tears this time around, but nothing was broken other than her heart. Finn had strung her along in a way that was totally reprehensible. He’d made a fool out of her, and no one made a fool out of Rachel Berry. There was no way she’d come back to glee club after what he’d done.

That resolution held until Invitationals, when Coach Sylvester gave her everything she thought she wanted and Rachel realized that none of it was really what she needed. That horrible April woman bailed on New Directions halfway through the performance and Rachel stepped in as the understudy. It should have felt demeaning, that she wasn’t the expected star and that she wasn’t the one everyone was waiting to see, but somehow none of it mattered. Being part of the group made her feel special.

The other members didn’t really welcome her back with open arms, but it was clear that they needed her just as much as she needed them. She could make this work. She had to make this work. Nothing was going to stop her from enjoying this opportunity, not even Quinn Fabray.

The revelation of Quinn’s pregnancy did manage to make one thing clear to her. She wasn’t about to get in the middle of that relationship. From now on, she would only be engaging with Finn when it came to professional matters. It just wasn’t worth it right now.

xxx

Will was never quite sure what to do with Rachel Berry. It was obvious that she had talent. All anyone needed to do was listen to her sing to know that. Sometimes he could swear that her voice gave him goosebumps and made the room vibrate. Her personality was so forward and abrasive, though, that it was hard to swallow that down even with the voice to ease the way. Most of the other students in the club seemed to dislike her and admire her talent in equal measures, and he had a hard time faulting them for it. For all of that, though, he knew that Rachel’s drive was probably going to get them to Regionals and possibly further. A club like this needed someone behind it to push and he couldn’t always be the main impetus.

He knew the statistics of a school like this; most of his students wouldn’t make it out of the state for college. Some of the ones who did would end up coming back after graduation and making a life here in Lima. After all, that’s exactly what he did. Rachel was one of the ones who stood a chance at getting out of here for good, and she might just drag some of the others with her. He wasn’t going to cater to her, but he would be paying attention to what she had to say. If he could just get her to be part of the team rather than a star on her own, Rachel would lead them all out of here. Maybe she could even pull him out of Lima’s black hole.

xxx

Rachel wasn’t quite sure how she ended up making out with Noah Puckerman. It hadn’t been something she’d planned, exactly, but it wasn’t entirely unwelcome. Her experiences with kissing were pretty much limited to Finn Hudson and a boy named Sam from Xavier’s and both of those occasions were far overshadowed by Noah’s skill. She had a feeling that Noah had far more practice at this than either one of her previous encounters.

She hadn’t been able to figure out his exact ability yet. It was obviously something that was incredibly internalized, probably something that allowed him glimpses of the future, but Rachel didn’t know if it was under his control or something that simply happened to him. Right now, all she cared about was that she was in her room, on her bed, being kissed by a handsome boy. If only she could forget that the handsome boy in question was not Finn Hudson, she would be golden.

Noah wasn’t the kind of boy who really allowed that kind of thinking, his skill making it evident she was making out with someone who was practically a professional. She hummed in the back of her throat as his hands drifted to new places before she pulled back, a little horrified. That hum had nearly been her using her power, and in a setting like that it could be disastrous. She could have just killed him, caused the bones closest to his mouth to shatter in place. He asked what was wrong and she panicked, grabbing on to the first excuse that came to mind. It was a valid problem that she’d been considering over the past day or so, when none of the boys had volunteered for the song and Mr. Schuester had needed to sing it himself. She was still the ingénue looking for a worthy leading man, after all, and Noah had yet to sing a solo.

He looked a little put out at that demand, which paradoxically made her feel better. No boy had ever done anything for her that would even vaguely inconvenience him before, and Noah had a stubborn expression on his face that was a little exciting. There was nothing vague or uncertain about Noah. That kind of single-mindedness matched something Rachel had always felt. For all that he didn’t act like a man with any sort of purpose she’d never known Noah Puckerman to back down from a challenge.

Her dad came home before anything further could happen and Noah left, scowling, with his guitar case in hand. Rachel disappeared back into her room before anyone could ask any questions. She wanted to think about this for a while, savor the experience of being desired. It was nice to receive that kind of straightforward, blunt admiration for a change. Too bad she never had that from Finn.

The next day went by in something of a blur. She wore a raincoat all day to protect her outfit from slushies despite how uncomfortably warm it was and how it completely hid her clothing. The other glee club members were doing something similar, even Kurt despite how hard it was to look fashionable with a raincoat covering his wardrobe.

She spent the time she wasn’t worrying about slushies rehashing her time with Noah Puckerman the night before. The way high school seemed to be going, it wasn’t hard for Rachel to worry that she’d just blown her best chance at a cute boyfriend until she graduated and moved on to New York City. The boys at this school weren’t really interested in intelligent, ambitious, talented girls like her. That was fine, she could handle that. Rachel knew she was bigger than this place. It was still a little lonely over here, though, and now that she’d made out with him it wasn’t hard to imagine that Noah might be able to help with that.

As far as she could tell, everyone but Finn and Quinn made it through the day intact without being hit by a slushie. It was a nice relief, being able to take the raincoat off while they were in here at least. It was hard not to feel safe here in the choir room.

With everything that was going on, Rachel hadn’t really given any thought to Mr. Schue’s assignment, so it was a surprise when Noah volunteered, acoustic guitar in hand. He never volunteered for anything in glee club. As a matter of fact, Rachel didn’t think he’d ever volunteered for anything anywhere in any school program since they started kindergarten.

There was an opening instrumental, which Rachel found frustratingly familiar, and then Noah began to sing Neil Diamond’s ‘Sweet Caroline.’ She hadn’t heard him sing a solo since the fifth grade patriotic assembly, at which point he’d purposefully butchered the words of ‘My Country ‘tis of Thee’ into something profane and teachers had never again made him perform. His voice had changed a little since then and Rachel listened with increasing joy as his slightly rough baritone sang the song straight to her.

That pretty much sealed the deal, as far as Rachel was concerned. He didn’t quite have the range that she’d drilled into Finn, but that would come with practice, and unlike Finn he was willing to accept a little humiliation when it came his way. He was even willing to give up football.

It should have been perfect, but Rachel watched his eyes drift over to Quinn where the blond cheerleader was sitting with Santana and Brittany, Finn conspicuously absent, and she knew she couldn’t do that again. It was bad enough that she’d probably never get Finn away from Quinn now that she was pregnant. There was no way she was going to get involved with someone else who was in love with the other girl.

xxx

“I hope you didn’t quit football for me,” Rachel said quietly. He couldn’t help but look over at her, since the idea of Rachel and quiet went together about as well as Schue’s rapping and everything else. “I don’t think we’re going to work out.”

That came as a surprise to him, since he thought they’d actually been doing pretty well. He feigned disinterest, though. “Yeah? Why’s that?”

“I think I still have feelings for Finn despite my best efforts, and I know you’re interested in Quinn. I’ve seen the way you look at her, Noah. It just isn’t fair to either one of us if we’re not both completely invested in a relationship.”

He couldn’t think of a way to deny it, because he was still kind of hung up on Quinn and there was the added complication of the baby in her belly, the one that was half him and that Finn thought was his. He didn’t know how any of that was going to work out but he wanted it, more than he’d ever wanted anything.

Rachel took his silence for agreement and plowed ahead. “I was hoping that we could still be friends. It was nice, knowing someone had my back if something happened. I thought I would offer the same to you.”

Puck didn’t do friends who are girls. He did bros he could hang with, and fuck buddies. Nothing in between, because that was just way too complicated. Instead of telling Rachel that, however, he nodded. “That sounds fair. Just so you know, I was going to break up with you anyway.”

She threw him a look. “No, you weren’t. You’re still hoping you’ll get a chance to put your hands up my skirt.”

“The two aren’t mutually exclusive,” he said, leering at the jean skirt she was wearing. Not as short as the black one she wore the other day, but definitely something worth watching.

Rachel rolled her eyes and stood up. “In the spirit of friendship, then, I have something I need to tell you,” she said, and Puck watched as she pulled her sweater a little tighter around her body. “Can you come over?”

“You can’t tell me right here?” he asked, because if she wasn’t contributing make-out time to this little relationship he wasn’t entirely sure if he was interested and it sounded like that was canceled for the time being. Puck had never gotten the opportunity to make a play for her boobs, although she hadn’t really objected to a little ass grabbing and had even reciprocated a little.

“It’s not something I can say in public.” She stood up, dark hair spilling over her shoulders, and he followed her from the bleachers and through the parking lot. She didn’t have a car, but her home was only a few blocks away from school so the walk was easy. Puck wasn’t entirely sure why he was going along with this, but Rachel was entirely willing to have private relationship conversations at school so whatever she was hiding, it was probably good.

When they got into her house, she led him straight up to her room and closed the door, and Puck was starting to think that maybe making out was in his immediate future after all. He sat down on the bed and she sat down next to him, and just as he was planning how he could get that sweater off and slip his hands up her skirt, she started to talk. “I know what you can do,” she said.

“You should be more specific, baby. I can do a lot of things.”

There was a sigh and Rachel stood up, went into the bathroom, and came back with a glass of water. “I tend to keep an eye on my fellow glee club members. I like to know if they’re concealing hidden talents, like Tina being a somewhat competent dancer and Santana having a surprisingly nice voice.” She drained the water out of the glass and continued. “And I’ve seen you, too. You step out of the way of slushies and bad dancing and football tackles just in time. You drive much too fast, but you stop and avoid pedestrians and animals and other cars like you’ve seen them coming.”

Shit. Shit, shit, shit. No one knew about his little trick, and it was only a little trick. He’d figured out how to see two minutes ahead, everything that could happen if he made a specific decision, when he was a freshman trying out for football. It was pretty much one of the best things possible when it came to sports, where every decision had a fairly immediate consequence. It would have helped win if the Coach had ever listened to him, or his teammates had any kind of talent. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Yes, you do,” Rachel said, sighing and setting her empty glass down on the bare table next to her bed. “And I needed to let you know that I know, because you’re not the only one at McKinley.”

He was just about to call her crazy and leave as quickly as he could when she took a step back, looked down at the glass, and began to sing. Just one note, not a word or part of a song or particularly loud or high-pitched, but the glass on the table vibrated. He felt a hum on the exposed skin of his arms before the glass cracked, then shattered, the shards becoming smaller as he watched them crumble to the surface.

The silence when she stopped singing felt like a heavy, wet blanket. “So you’re . . .” he trailed off, unable to say the word when it came to the possibility that it would fit him.

“I’m a mutant.” She carefully brushed the glass shards into the trashcan with a paper towel, the pieces hitting the bottom with tinkling, sharp sounds. “I manifested when I was eleven. Are you all right? Say something, please, Noah.”

Puck considered leaving again, but something about this entire situation was hot as shit and he stayed put. Within the last thirty seconds, Rachel had gone from hot, too-intense girl to hot, too-intense girl who might possibly be able to kill him. He’d be lying if that didn’t shoot straight into his sex drive. “What else can you do?”

She smiled, a little rueful. “I can shatter things with the power of my voice. That’s a pretty big adjustment on its own.”

“Can you break other things?”

“Of course. Glass is the easiest because it’s usually thinner than everything else and it has a frequency that is within easy human capability, but I can do other substances as well.”

“Like what?”

“Pretty much anything with enough practice.” She was smiling a little more brightly now, her movements fast and animated. “When I first got my powers I cracked the sidewalk outside of my house just by humming. It took forever to learn how to control them. What about you?”

Puck grinned. “I was fourteen. Figured out what was happening during football practice freshman year.” He hadn’t dared to think the word mutant back then for more than a panicked half-second. He’d certainly never said it out loud and wasn’t planning on doing so anytime soon.

“How long did it take before you could control it?”

“Not long,” he said, shrugging. It had only been a couple of weeks, all told, figuring out how to stop them from happening in the middle of things and how to make them start when he needed them. “What about you?”

“It took me a little longer,” she said, “Remember when I went to that private school halfway through sixth grade? I was actually at a school where they teach mutants to control their abilities. It’s a very good school.”

“And you came back to McKinley?” If he had a chance to get out of Lima he would be gone as fast as he could go.

“I’m going to be a star one day,” Rachel told him matter-of-factly. “And when that inevitably happens some intrepid paparazzi will undoubtedly go looking into my background for dirt. The school can’t afford that kind of attention. It’s the only place that most mutants can go when their powers emerge.”

“So it’s a freak school,” he said. That took the shine off a little. A school full of mutant freaks, where they make you go to classes. Probably didn’t have sports, either, since they couldn’t exactly join a school league.

“It’s a school for people like us,” Rachel said firmly.

“Yeah, count me out of that one.” Puck leaned back on her bed. “Does this mean you’ll make out with me?”

“Everything I said on the bleachers just now is true. I still want Finn. You still want Quinn. I just thought it might be nice to know that you aren’t the only one here.”

Privately, he could admit that it was nice to know. Rachel had his back and she could potentially kill people with her voice. He could never admit that, though. He’d just have to show her his appreciation in other ways.

xxx

There was a specific type of walk that Rachel had perfected for when she was truly pissed off. Puck called it the Angel of Death walk in his head and that particular phrase did not need to be said aloud. She didn’t need that kind of ammunition, even if that particular walk usually meant that someone was in for it.

She grabbed him by the bicep, nails digging into the skin, which, ow. “Shit, Rachel, don’t do that.”

“Did you get Quinn Fabray pregnant, Noah?” she asked, not bothering with hello or anything else like that. Moses forbid she be normal.

“No,” he protested, a knee-jerk reaction. “Where did you get an idea like that?”

She rolled her eyes. “I’ve seen the way you are around her. And I’m a little psychic. How could you be so irresponsible?”

“I told you-,” he started, only to be cut off by Rachel.

“Do not lie to me, Noah Puckerman!” Her dark eyes flashed and her small fingers dug in a little further. “Not only are you and Quinn lying to Finn about this child, you are putting the baby at risk because you aren’t being honest about your genetics,” she hissed, her voice a little quieter. “Forget about the fact that you’re a mutant, there might be other things that the doctor needs to know. What if you’re both carriers for some genetic disorder like cystic fibrosis?”

“Fine!” He jerked his arm away from her grasp and ran one hand through his mohawk. “Yeah, it’s mine. And she won’t let me have anything to do with it.”

“You two need to tell the truth,” she said, calmer now but just as immovable. “It’s not fair to any of you, including the baby.”

“Quinn’s the one who won’t let me be the dad,” Puck grumbled. “And Mercedes said-,”

“Wait, Mercedes knows?”

“Yeah. I kind of told her by accident. She said it’s Quinn’s decision.”

“It most certainly is not! As much as I uphold a woman’s right to make her own choices, this one does not belong solely to her.”

“If I go against Quinn she won’t let me have anything to do with the kid.”

Rachel frowned and stepped away. “All right then.” She turned and walked back down the hallway, the Angel of Death thankfully gone from the movements. Puck knew that he probably should have been suspicious at how easily Rachel gave in, but he was so relieved that she’d dropped the subject that he didn’t question it. When Finn’s fist made contact with his eye in glee practice that afternoon he had a moment to regret that decision.

After the first blow, Finn didn’t get another shot like that. He’d probably deserved the black eye that his best friend gave him, but Finn would have to earn the rest of the punches. The fight was short, like all high school fights usually were. Mr. Schuester stopped it fairly quickly, wading in and yanking the two of them apart away with surprising strength. “What’s going on with you two?” he demanded.

Finn was glaring at Puck with more anger than the other boy had ever seen in his friend. “Is it true?”

“Is what true?” he asked reflexively, even though he was fairly certain what this was about. Rachel never could keep her damn mouth shut. It was a damn miracle that she’d managed to keep her mutant thing secret for so long.

“You know what I’m talking about!” Finn shouted. Quinn was standing off to the side, her expression frightened, Rachel hovering in the background with a horrified look on her face. “Are you the baby’s father?”

He couldn’t even look at Finn when he answered. “Yeah. It’s true.”

Finn tried for another swing at him, but this time he was ready for it and managed to avoid it. “How could you?”

“You’re the one who believed Quinn’s story,” Puck said, anger at this entire situation and every single person involved bubbling to the surface. He could already tell that they were all going to blame either him for knocking up the chastity queen or Rachel for telling Finn, and Quinn was going to get out of this scot-free.

Finn stormed out of the room and Quinn fled shortly afterwards, leaving Puck to take the fall like he’d already predicted. His eye was starting to swell a little and Rachel pulled him out of the room without a backward glance.

“You realize we’re screwed for Sectionals now, right?”

She said something in a language he didn’t know, but could guess was a curse word from the way she blushed immediately after. “I didn’t know he would bail like that. I guess I should have guessed.”

“We’re already down a director since Mr. Schuester took the fall for the mattresses. Probably weren’t going to win anyway.”

“Nevertheless, it is important to try our best. I’ll see about recruiting another member once you’re at the nurse’s office.”

Her recruitment techniques managed to dredge up Jacob, and Puck squinted through his black eye and sighed. At least the creepy little dweeb was a warm body, even if he thought the guy needed to stay at least thirty feet from pretty much all of the girls, especially Quinn and Rachel.

They loaded up onto the bus the next afternoon, costumes in garment bags tossed in the back and slightly dispirited students in the front. Schuester was watching in the parking lot with a sad look, which, OK, whatever dude. It’s not like you couldn’t go and sit in the audience. He submitted to Kurt and Mercedes and their makeup skills once they got there, and the two of them managed to hide the worst of the bruising from Finn’s fist. It didn’t take them long, which meant that he was out in the audience with the rest of the group when the juvie girls snaked the song from Mercedes. He could see her shoulders slump and Rachel start to tense up, and he took a second to glance ahead and see that this was only get worse.

Proud Mary in wheelchairs made Artie drop his jaw in disbelief and Rachel was close to an explosion. Then the deaf kids started with ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ and he was surprised that no one dropped to the ground with spontaneously shattered bones. Instead, Rachel marched into the dressing room with the rest of the club behind her and they tried to come up with a plan.

Rachel was the only one of them with a backup ballad prepared and Mercedes gratefully stepped away from the potential disaster and let her take the lead. In some ways it would have been easier to just have Rachel sing all three songs and let the rest of the group sway in the background, but it was obvious that not even Rachel wanted that. Quinn brought up ‘Somebody to Love,’ one of the few group songs that actually had choreography that they had rehearsed more than a couple of times.

While they were all trying to come up with a third number, Finn came riding in like some kind of knight with the sheet music for a song by the Stones. It was probably a testament to how talented this whole group was that they came up with something coherent in the forty minutes they had to work out dance moves and practice the different parts with just his guitar as a guide to the notes.

If they’d been up against any real, serious opposition they would have sunk almost immediately, but if the juvie girls had any actual talent beyond shaking their asses they probably wouldn’t have stolen the set list in the first place. They managed to get through the whole thing without embarrassing themselves and come out in first place. Not bad for their first competition.

xxx

“Have you told Quinn the truth?” Rachel asked.

“Why in hell would I do that?”

“You know why, Noah. The X-gene often manifests more strongly in the next generation and it rarely follows the exact powers of the parents. She could arrive with a visible manifestation, or they could test her blood and discover that she’s a mutant. Quinn needs to know about those possibilities.

“Quinn’s not a mutant,” he said, his voice desperate. “The baby might not have the gene at all.”

“Or Quinn might have a dormant X-gene and the baby comes out far stronger than anyone could imagine. Without a complete DNA work-up it’s impossible to be sure. She should be prepared.”

“I don’t want her knowing that I’m a freak, all right? She’s already freaking out over the fact that I’m Jewish.”

“Noah, Quinn deserves to know. What if the baby is born blue, or with green hair or cat’s eyes? You were lucky, your gift is completely internal and controllable, but that isn’t always the case. And even if she does appear completely normal, that doesn’t mean that she won’t develop differently. Not only do you need to tell Quinn, you need to make plans to tell the adoptive parents you two pick.”

“No way in hell,” he snapped. “That shit is no one’s business but my own.”

“You’re not listening to me!” Rachel’s small hands went into fists and came up to rest on her hips. “As I said a moment ago, you were lucky. Do you know how hard it is to deal with the fact that you’re suddenly eleven years old and when you do more than whisper it breaks a window in the house? I went for a month without speaking or singing when my powers first developed. It took three years to learn how to control them, and the whole time I was scared out of my mind because of it.”

Puck felt the slight hum against his skin a second before the water glass on the counter cracked. Rachel clapped her hand over her mouth immediately, her eyes wide and terrified. He had never seen her lose control over her voice before and her frightened expression reflected exactly what he was feeling at that moment. Then his temper overrode the emotion. “Damn it, Rachel!”

“I’m sorry,” she said, her voice quiet now. “You just . . .you have no idea how scary it can be. Neither one of my dads has the gene, so I got it from my birth mom and there’s no way to contact her. It was three months after it started before we found the school and I spent that whole time afraid to sing because I’d crack the bathroom mirror or shatter the sidewalk. They had no idea how to handle it. If there’s even the slightest chance that your daughter will develop anything more inconvenient than your ability, you have to warn them.”

“No one’s going to want a mutant baby, Rachel. If I tell them, they won’t take her.” There was a reason he’d never told his mother, after all.

“And that might be for the best, Noah. Some of the stories I heard from other students at the school made it clear how bad it can get. It would be better for them to reject her before she can be hurt by it than for her to become a teenager and be told to leave the house because of something over which she has no control.” She hesitated, clearly weighing her words, before plunging in again. “I know you don’t want to consider the school, but-,”

“No.” He didn’t think he needed to say more than that. She’d been nagging him about the school for freaks since she figured out what he could do and Noah was very much not interested. Up until Rachel had put the pieces together, no one else had ever known about his little trick and he was planning on keeping it that way.

She turned away and went to the now-useless glass, picking it up carefully and tossing it into the garbage can underneath the sink. “I promised to keep your secret and I will. And believe me, I understand the urge to keep this from other people. But your daughter deserves the best possible future. You’re only hurting her chances by keeping this to yourself.”

“I can’t do it, Rachel. We both know that being in the glee club and being Jewish is the most I can handle. If someone calls me mutie on top of that I’ll just completely fucking lose it.”

Rachel flinched at the word. It was one of the few insults that had never been aimed in her direction, and deep down she was glad of that. The others were easier to take because they weren’t true. “Don’t tell Quinn,” she finally said. “You’re right, she won’t be able to handle it. But you need to be very careful when you screen adoptive parents. Insist in face-to-face interviews and figure out whether they have any prejudices that might put the baby in danger.”

“Right,” Puck muttered. She had a point, of course. Rachel always had a point. And he could use his gift for glancing a couple of minutes into the future to figure out if the people were assholes. “I guess I can do that.” He leaned back against the fridge. “What if . . .what if they’re all worthless asswipes? What if none of them want her because she might be a mutant?”

“I can still contact the school. I’ll leave your name out of it and tell them that a friend of mine has a baby that they’re afraid to give up for adoption. There’s an underground railroad for those types of things.”

He blinked. “We have an underground railroad?”

“It’s organized through the internet,” Rachel told him, her expression brightening. “It’s mostly used to help move mutant children to safe havens. Typical of any oppressed people, I suppose, though now most of the communication is done through e-mail. After all, we have to look after each other.”

Puck might not be able to call himself a mutant, even here when it was just Rachel, but it was hard not to identify with them all the same. He’d started checking the future almost constantly in the first week after Karofsky hit him with a slushie, determined to avoid the humiliation again, but it had given him such bad migraines that he’d eventually stopped. Being an outsider was one of the worst experiences of his life. “And if that happens, they’ll take care of her?”

“They’ll test her DNA and even if she doesn’t carry the gene she’ll go to a good home,” Rachel promised. “This is not the first time they’ve needed to handle such things.” She reached up and hugged him and he let her do it. Rachel irritated him sometimes, especially the way she mooned over Finn and talked constantly, but she was pretty much the only one that knew about him and that made her important. “It’ll be all right, Noah. Things will be fine.”

The groaning sound of the front door opening made them separate and by the time Quinn walked into the room they were both sitting at the kitchen table, a stack of textbooks between them. “What’s all this?”

“Rachel’s helping me pass history,” Puck told her, glancing up from an open notebook. It was true, after all, even if it wasn’t what they’d been doing a moment ago. Rachel had pointed out that he was more likely to find some way out of Lima if he made some effort to study and then offered to give him a hand.

The blond looked skeptical, but she didn’t say anything and after a moment’s hesitation she brought her backpack to the table and joined them. “This is pretty much the last thing I would expect,” she said.

“I feel no need to follow anyone’s expectations,” Rachel informed, almost absently. “Noah is an excellent study partner. It’s a mutually beneficial situation.”

Puck snorted but refrained from commenting. She’d said the same thing about making out, back during the week or so that they were dating. He wouldn’t mind a reenactment of that particular ‘mutually beneficial situation,’ but he was pretty sure that she was still head-over-heels for Finn and he’d screwed up enough for his friend. Besides, he had enough to deal with now that Quinn had moved into the house with his baby in her belly.

If he tried hard enough, he could practically see his baby mama biting back the sharp words she no doubt wanted to direct at Rachel. Instead, though, she pulled out a physical science textbook and cracked it open.

They stayed that way for an hour or so, Rachel humming under her breath while she worked through her pre-calculus problems and occasionally walking him through his questions before packing up her things and heading home. Puck walked her out the door and then turned around to Quinn’s stare. “I didn’t know you two were close.”

He shrugged and walked around her into the kitchen. “We’re friends or whatever. She helps me with school and shit and I keep the worst of the jackasses away.” They were a little more than that, really, but none of that was Quinn’s business. Now that he and Finn were on the outs, Rachel was pretty much his only real friend.

“It’s a little strange, that’s all. You were the first person to throw a slushie at her, after all.”

“And that was a dumbass thing to do, but she’s over it and I’m over it. We’re friends.”

“Then why did she tell Finn about the baby?”

“Probably because she thought it was the right thing to do.” And because she had a thing for Finn, but that was just going to make problems right now. He didn’t need Quinn and Rachel at odds right now. He needed them both if he was going to come out of this without completely losing it.

“But don’t you think it’s a little weird, since you two used to date?”

“Look, I’m not going to deny that my mom would like nothing more than for me to shack up with Rachel Berry and give up a houseful of Jewish grandbabies, but I’m pretty sure we all know that ain’t happening.” He was tired suddenly, the last few weeks of excessive drama draining out his will to live or whatever. “Look, Quinn, I know you’re pretty much only here because you don’t have anywhere else to go, but please just leave this alone. You’ve made it pretty clear I’m not going to be getting any from you, and I’m not doing it with Rachel either. Just let it go.”

Part 2

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
jaq_of_spades
Jun. 21st, 2012 07:04 am (UTC)
So here I am, trying to finish my Logan/Rogue epic, and using Glee fic to break my block, while here you are, combining the verses! I'm absolutely loving this; Rachel's gift is so fitting for her and there's a great sense of her loneliness and isolation. And when Puck says he can't handle being a mutie as well ... it WOULD go that way. Absolutely. Great crossover!
lightningfury
Jul. 1st, 2012 03:36 am (UTC)
I have actually just started a marvel/glee crossover this week. Completely different premise of course but good to know that there are people out there who might like it.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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