Title: Leave Out All The Rest, Part 1 of 2
Author: Sapphire (sapphiresfic
) / SapphireEJ (FF
) / EJ8302 (Tumblr
Pairing/Characters: Puck, Rachel, Puck/Rachel, Rachel/Puck, Puckleberry
Word Count: 9,994
Spoilers: None, I don't think.
Fic Table prompt: #21 - Ill (table at my journal here
Summary: Rachel rushes home to Lima when she gets bad news about her boyfriend and makes it in time to see him before he goes in for major surgery that he might not survive. (Note: I love happy endings.) Spoilers to 1x22 - Journey. For fic table prompt #21 - Ill.
Disclaimer: I am just borrowing them for the fun of writing, BUT I do own the plot, ideas and original characters. Title is the name of a song by Linkin Park. I do not own it.
A/N: I edited this, so all mistakes are mine.
A/N2: Feedback keeps me writing, so please comment or review. :D
I promise you, I love happy endings, but getting there will be tough...
WARNING: This fic contains some serious and emotional topics involving cancer, tumors, major surgery, complications arising from major surgery, etc. This is NOT a death fic. If any of this bothers you, do not read. You have been warned.
A/N3: Puck and Rachel graduated from high school the same year and were almost 19. I'm going by Puck being a 17 year old Junior when Quinn was pregnant with Beth.
It's a Sunday afternoon and while most Sophomores in college are out exploring what New York City has to offer, twenty-year-old Rachel Berry sat in her dorm room, writing a paper for one of her classes.
Hearing the familiar ringtone for her daddy, she reached for her cell phone and looked at the time, seeing that it was just after four, "hey daddy!" She greeted, holding the phone to her ear.
"Hello sweetheart," David greeted her, trying to sound somewhat cheerful.
"Is everything alright? Normally you and dad don't call until later on Sundays," she commented.
"Um, we had lunch at the house today with Noah, his sister and their parents."
"Oh," Rachel bit her lip, "how are they?" She asked, trying not to let her emotions take over, but she missed her boyfriend.
"They are, um," David paused, "Rachel, I need to talk to you," he said.
At his response, Rachel's heart quickened and she sat up straighter, "daddy? What's going on?"
He looked at the envelope on the table with her name written in Noah's handwriting and sighed, "I need to tell you something that is very upsetting and I... It's about Noah," he told her softly.
Tears sprang to her eyes as a million thoughts raced through her mind, "daddy, please, what's going on?" She begged.
David took a deep breath, "Noah is... Rachel, there is no easy way to say this, but Noah is going in on Monday morning to have a brain tumor removed," he told her.
"WHAT?" She exclaimed, jumping up from her seat, "this is some kind of joke!"
"I wish this was a joke, but it's not sweetheart," he said sadly.
"A... a brain tumor... as in... cancer?" She choked on a sob as she sniffled.
"They don't know if it's cancer. We're hopeful it's benign, as in not cancerous, but they won't know until it's removed and they can test it," he explained softly.
"You... we're... You... Daddy! Have you known about this?" She felt her body shaking as she sat there not even sure what to do.
"Yes," he started, "I'm so sorry, but your dad and I have known from the beginning."
"Why didn't you tell me?!" She snapped out, wiping her eyes on her shirt sleeve.
"Sweetheart, please, calm down, and I know you're upset and worried, but I need to tell you this."
"Daddy, please," She begged, as more tears feel from her eyes.
"Do you know how Noah has always had problems with headaches?" He asked and at a faint 'yes', he continued, "when you left here from Spring Break, he was frustrated with the headaches because they were getting worse, so he went to the doctor and they did an MRI and found a tumor in his brain. We were all hopeful that once they put him on a few medications, it would shrink the tumor so it would ease the pressure and stop the headaches, but nothing worked, other than some pain medication to stop them from hurting as bad. When we first found out, he planned to tell you this summer when you were home, but just before you came home, he found out there had been no change in it and the medications were not working, so he swore us to secrecy. They were going to try one more medicine and if it didn't work, the only option left would be surgery. The other medication didn't work, so aside from pain medication to easy some of the pain, now here we are," he said softly, "he found out just before you returned to school that surgery was the last option and he knew if he told you, you'd refuse to go back, and he didn't want to hold you back from school, because he wants you to get your degree and while everyone is concerned about him, he's concerned about you."
Rachel didn't hold back as sobs shook her body, sinking down onto the floor in front of her desk of her small dorm room, "I don't... He's never held me back!" She exclaimed, "why didn't he tell me?"
"Because he's stubborn like he always has been and didn't want you to worry about him. He's keeping positive and keeps saying he's going to be fine, but we're all worried about the complications..."
"Daddy, what are they?" Rachel choked out.
"There is a slight chance he might not make it through the surgery," he whispered, fighting his own tears, wishing he didn't have to do this over the phone. "And if he does, there's a chance he could have some memory loss."
"No... he can't... Oh, Noah," she sobbed, tears blurring her vision.
"I'm so sorry sweetheart, I wish I didn't have to do this over the phone, but he begged us not to say anything to you," he told her.
"Why?! Why did you listen to him? Why are you telling me now?" She yelled, now getting pissed that this had been hidden from her for six months.
"The surgery is eleven am in the morning, that's less than twenty-four hours from now," he told her. "They just left and when they did, he left you a letter and it has finally hit him how serious this all is because he kept saying that he wished he would have told you, he's so sorry he ever kept this from you, but he never thought it would go this far and hopes one day you'll be able to forgive him for hiding it from you, because he loves you and never meant to hurt you... He understood we couldn't keep this from you any longer because you deserved to decide if you wanted to be here or not. He apologized for ever making us hide it from you and to let you know what I just told you and that he hopes to see you soon," he explained wiping his eyes, turning to look at Alan who was standing next to him with his hand on his shoulder.
"Of course I want to be there!" She exclaimed, trying to calm down enough to focus. "I love him so much... I can't lose him... I'm so mad at him for hiding this from me, but I... I'll be mad later," she sobbed.
"I know, sweetheart," he looked at Alan, who just nodded, "we knew you'd be in no shape to travel alone, so your dad just talked to Ryan and Kurt and they're on their way over to your dorm room. They're coming home to Lima with you," he said.
"I... I can't... I don't have..." Rachel whimpered, realizing she didn't have a lot of money in her account at the time; she hadn't asked them for anymore since she got back to school from Summer Break.
"Dad just deposited enough money in your checking account for three round-trip tickets, with an open window of time to return," he said softly, "and we'll make sure there is a car ready for you when you get to Columbus."
A heavy knocking on her door scared her and she jumped, "um, they're here," she said standing up.
"Talk to them, sweetheart. Make arrangements to get home and let us know when your flight gets in so we can have a car ready to rent," he said, "we love you."
"I love you both so much," she sobbed as she closed her phone and unlocked the door, pulling it open.
Kurt rushed in and threw his arms around her and she lost it, dropping her phone to the floor as she cried into Kurt's shirt.
Ryan stepped inside behind Kurt and slowly closed the door, worried for them. He wrapped his arms around his boyfriend and Rachel and hugged them close, "Rachel, tell us what you need help with to get you packed to go home," Ryan said softly, knowing she was a mess, but they had a short time to pack, find a flight to Columbus that would get them home in time and get themselves packed, too. Getting no response other then muffled sobs and what sounded like mumbling, he let go and looked at her, "Rachel, I know you're scared and worried, but we need to focus on getting you home."
Rachel lifted her head off Kurt's shoulder and nodded, "I... I'm... I..." She began sobbing again, pissed she couldn't stop at the moment.
"Honey, your dad said something about money," Kurt commented, "let's look at getting a flight home for the three of us, first, okay?" He attempted.
She nodded and motioned to her computer, "I... Checking account... Dad... Money."
Ryan moved over to her computer and sat down, seeing she had been working on a paper, so clicking the save button, he pulled up the internet and reached for her purse nearby, "I'm going to get your debit card out of your bag, alright?" With a silent nod of permission, Ryan pulled out her wallet and got what he was looking for.
Aside from Rachel's sobs against Kurt, the clicking of the mouse and Ryan typing, the room was silent, the world outside oblivious to the fears they were all facing.
"Thanks," Rachel said softly after a while, having calmed down enough to speak easier.
"You're welcome, honey," Kurt hugged her tight, "we're worried about him, too."
She sniffled and wiped her eyes, "I swear, if he survives this surgery, I'm going to kill him for keeping this from me!" She exclaimed.
"You have every right to," Kurt told her.
"I found a flight for us that leaves at five am. It will put us in Columbus at seven and if his surgery is at eleven, we should be in Lima by nine or nine-thirty," Ryan said from across the room.
"Book it," Rachel said reaching for a tissue and wiping her eyes with something other than her shirt.
Kurt and Ryan were lifesavers. Rachel was still extremely emotional and couldn't seem to focus and they kept her calm. Just after booking the flight, Ryan went back to the dorm he and Kurt shared and packed his things, got ready to leave, and once he returned, Kurt left to do the same thing, neither wanting to leave her alone while she silently moved around her dorm to pack. While it was just her and Ryan in her room, her eyes landed on a picture of her and Noah over the summer, which sent her into another fit of sobs, but Ryan was able to get her to focus back on packing and she soon calmed down enough to do that.
Once the two boys were packed, changed and showered, evening had turned into night, and she finally took a shower and after dressing in clean clothes and making sure she had everything, they went over to Ryan and Kurt's dorm, realizing being in hers would be too emotional because of all the pictures of her and Noah nearby.
"Thank goodness for Kurt and Ryan," Rachel thought, as she tried to relax in her window seat on the plane.
Ryan was asleep in his seat on the aisle and Kurt was reading a fashion magazine, and while Rachel had numerous things in her bag to do, she literally couldn't focus on anything. She had so many emotions running through her mind that the thought of doing homework, reading a book, listening to music or anything else at the moment was out of the question.
"Good morning, passengers, this is your pilot. I've just gotten word that there is some thick fog covering the runway in Columbus, so we're going to have to circle around for a while until it clears enough to see the landing lights. I'm so sorry for the inconvenience."
"What?" Rachel exclaimed, just as loud as some of the passengers did.
"Huh? What?" Ryan jumped up a little as he was woken up by the commotion on the plane.
"There is fog covering the runway so we can't land until it clears enough for the pilot to see the landing lights," Kurt said, "which means we're going to be circling the airport until it's clear."
"Noah," Rachel choked out, begging herself to keep from crying. "I've gotta see him before he goes in for surgery," she thought.
Kurt put his arms around her and pulled her against him, "I know, honey. We'll get you home as soon as we can," he assured her.
As Rachel stepped off the plane and into the airport, she was in tears; they were thirty minutes late in landing and she was scared they wouldn't make it in time.
Ryan threw his arm around her shoulders, "we'll get home in time, Rachel, I promise."
None of them had luggage; just their carry-ons. Kurt wanted to bring numerous suitcases, but they were in a hurry, so like Ryan and Rachel, they got him to pack just what he'd need for school and some personal things into a carry-on alleviating waiting for their bags, so they could head right to the line for rental cars. Of course, there had to be three people ahead of them, all with problems, so it took what felt like forever to get to the front of the line.
"We're here to pick up a car under the name Berry," Rachel said politely.
The woman smiled and looked at her computer, "um, I'm sorry. I don't have anyone registered under that name," she replied.
"Excuse me?" Rachel snapped.
Ryan put his hand on her shoulder to calm her down, as he slid his passport and Ohio state driver's license over to her, "Try James as a last name, Ryan for a first," he said calmly, "I think your dads knew I'd be driving home," he said to Rachel.
"Oh, yes, I do have you listed, Mr. James," she said handing him back his things.
Rachel relaxed, "sorry for snapping," she replied, leaning against Kurt a little.
"It's quite alright. Your flight was late, I would be upset, myself," she replied, nodding at Rachel.
Leaving that as the reason why Rachel was upset, Ryan was soon handed the keys to their rental car, a four-door Honda Civic. With the guys in the front seats, and Rachel in the back, after making a stop to get something to eat and some more caffeine, they were on their way to Lima, a lot later than they had planned.
Going at least ten over the speed limit and passing cars without signaling a few times, Ryan got them to Lima and pulled into the parking lot of the hospital at nine-forty-five. Before Ryan could even get the car turned off, Rachel was already out of the car and heading for the main entrance of the hospital and once inside, she found the waiting area where she knew they would all be. "What room?" She asked quickly, not even greeting anyone when they walked towards her.
"Two-twelve," Alan said, knowing she was on a mission.
Rachel dashed out of the room, praying she'd be able to make it before he was taken back to prep for surgery. The elevator seemed to go at a turtle's pace as it climbed to the second floor and following signs to the rooms, she came upon '212' and stopped outside the open door, but before she could say anything, his dad noticed her and told them she was there. He waved her in and she stepped inside, finding his mom sitting in a chair and Noah standing by the bed in sweats and a t-shirt, hands in his pockets, nervously biting his lip as he waited to see what she'd do.
She hadn't thought at all about what she'd do if she was able to see him before surgery, but her body took over when she caught a glimpse of his face and dark eyes; she lost it, "oh Noah," she choked out before she flung herself at him, her arms wrapping around his neck as she sobbed against him.
A relief of sorts washed over him as he held her for the first time in almost a month; she was there and that meant something, "I'm so sorry, baby, I'm an asshole for keeping this from you---"
She cut him off with a needy kiss, her lips pressing against his, tasting him, for what she feared was the last time. The longer their kiss lasted the more her tears fell and as she pulled away she punched him in his shoulder as hard as she could, and even though it didn't do anything to him, she felt better, "you are an asshole!" She snapped, "how could you hide this from the one person who wants to spend the rest of their life with you?"
The meaning of her words hit him like a ton of bricks and he sat down on the bed, staring at the floor, "you want to spend the---"
"Damn it, Noah! Of course I do! I'm tired of you telling me that you're holding me back! You're what's keeping me going! Then I get a call from my dads telling me you have a tumor that you all knew about for months and you decide that because you're having the surgery to remove it, now is a good time to tell your girlfriend you might die in the process!" She choked out between sobs, keeping her voice low enough because she didn't want the whole hospital to hear her.
"Baby, I'm so sorry. You're right, I am an asshole, a jerk, and every other name in the book because I hid this from you. I should have told you from the beginning, but I didn't want you to worry over nothing. Then when one after another medication didn't work, I should have told you then, but I... It didn't hit me until just recently that there's... No, I'm not thinking that way," he shook his head and pulled her between his legs and looked her in the eye, "you know I love you, Rachel Berry, and when I make it through this surgery, I want to marry you, please tell me you want the same."
She nodded quickly, "yes, Noah, yes I want the same," she told him honestly, "I love you so much, but you've got to promise me two things," she said.
"Anything," he told her, reaching up to wipe her tears.
"One, that you'll never hide so much as a paper cut from me again," she wrapped her arms around his neck while he still sat on the bed, "and two, that you'll make it through surgery so we can get married," she told him, looking into his eyes, that now held tears.
He blinked his eyes and didn't care that his own tears fell as he nodded, "I'll never hide anything from you again, and I will do anything in my power to come back to you. I've hurt you enough as it is, I can't do it again," he told her truthfully.
"I'm still mad at you for hiding this, but if you come back to me, I'll get over it," she assured him, pressing her forehead against his, "I love you so much, Noah," she paused and smiled, "so does this mean we're engaged?" She asked softly.
"I... yeah, I think it does," he nodded, kissing her lips, and caught his mom out of the corner of his eye. His parents had stepped out once Rachel had come in, but he knew why she was back, so he turned to look at her, "is it time?"
"Yeah, it is," she nodded sadly.
"Give me a second to change," he looked at Rachel again, "I..."
She pressed her index finger to his lips, "shhh, I know."
He smiled weakly, "will you be here when I wake up?"
"I'm here indefinitely," she told him honestly.
He opened his mouth to respond, but she shook her head, so he closed it for a moment, standing up to silently remove his t-shirt and put on the hospital gown and then got out of his sweats, leaving his boxers and socks, "when you get down to your dads, ask them for my letter to you," he told her softly.
"But I thought---"
"I still want you to read it," he admitted reaching up to wipe her eyes.
Her eyes fell closed for a moment as she nodded, "I will," she promised, moving behind him long enough to tie the strings on his gown, "I swear, if you come out of this, I will kill you for doing this to me, Noah Puckerman," she muttered, wanting to at least get that statement out there.
He smirked lightly and slipped his arm around her shoulders as they walked from the room, "I'll make it up to you, I swear," he murmured as they reached his parents.
Noah shared a long hug with his dad, the two as close as any other young guy would be with their dad, even if his dad was gone for ten years and they only rekindled a relationship with a lot of work once his mom and his dad decided to get back together a few years prior when Quinn was still pregnant with Beth.
"See you in a few hours, son," Ethan told him, resting his hand against his cheek.
"You will," Noah nodded, before sitting down in the wheelchair his mom was waiting with.
Noah took Rachel's hand and squeezed it firmly before letting go and nodding at his mom. Because she was a nurse at the hospital, they were letting her stay with him until he went into surgery, so once she was sure he was was ready, she nodded sadly at her husband and the girl who she already thought of as a daughter, and began to wheel him down to the elevator to take him to pre-op.
Once they were out of sight, Rachel begins shaking and Ethan pulled her against him, knowing exactly how she felt, "he's going to be okay," he whispered to her, "you've gotta believe that."
She sobbed, "I'm trying," she murmured, trying to calm herself down, but she was so scared she couldn't help it.
Ethan guided them into the room that Noah would be recovering in, so they weren't standing in the middle of the hallway and did his best to comfort her, but knew that no one would be okay until they knew the outcome of the surgery.
"He proposed and now I could... He could... I can't lose him!"
"I know, Rachel, I know," Ethan agreed, "I've only just gotten him back into my life, I can't lose him either," he replied, "but I have faith he's going to make it."
"What if we lose him for good? What if he loses his memory? What if he can't remember me? What if he doesn't remember you?" She sobbed, finally asking the questions she'd been thinking since she first found out about all of this.
"We're not going to lose him for good," Ethan assured her, pulling away enough to look at her. "If he loses his memory, then we'll have to figure it out as we go. Even if he loses a few memories, he can't completely forget us. It might take some time, and if not, then we'll make him remember."
Her sobs had calmed down to light sniffles and she nodded slowly as she caught up to his words, "you're right," she said softly.
"Come on," he motioned to the door, "let's go down and wait with everyone," he offered lightly.
"Okay," she replied as they walked and then reached for a tissue as they passed a box on the nurse's station, "is Deborah going to be in surgery with them?" She asked as they reached the elevator.
"No, she's just going in while they get him ready. She'll be out to wait with us when he goes in," he explained as they stepped onto the elevator.
Rachel felt horrible; she hadn't slept in over twenty-four hours, she knew she looked like a mess with a red face, but at the moment, she didn't care.
Ethan put his arm around her shoulders and guided her to the waiting area where everyone was, seeing his sister Arin, her dads, Finn, his mom Carole, Quinn, Ryan, Kurt, his dad Burt, who is also Noah's boss and Finn's step-dad, Will, Emma, a few of Noah's relatives, cousins, aunts, uncles, his grandma on his dad's side, Mercedes, Matt, Tina, Mike, and Brittany. Looking at Ethan, she thanked him and then walked over to greet her dads, apologizing for how quick she had been minutes earlier, but they completely understood.
Alan pulled a white envelope from his jacket pocket and took a deep breath, "I'm sure he told you, but he asked us to give this to you," he said softly.
She took it and stared at his handwriting, "yeah, he told me," she admitted, her thumb brushing over her name.
Finn got up from where he was sitting and walked towards them, standing next to her, "hey Rachel," he said sadly.
Rachel turned to look at him, "hi, Finn," she smiled weakly at him, not in the mood to socialize with their friends that where there, but she was glad to see them there.
"We all know that you're in no shape to talk to us, and we understand that. Just know we're all here for you all, so when you want to talk we'll be here," he told her, wrapping her up in a hug.
Thankful they understood she wasn't going to be very social, she nodded, "thanks," she whispered, "I'm gonna... I'll be back," he replied softly, pulling from his arms and with a glance around the room, she looked at the letter and then walked out of the room.
She went back towards the elevators where she had seen a small waiting room and stepped into it, glad it was empty and grabbed a box of tissues before sitting down in one of the soft chairs, just staring at the envelope in her hands for several minutes before she turned it over, slipped her finger under the flap and tore it open.
Pulling the letter out, she almost missed one other thing, but she felt it hit her foot and looked down to see a diamond ring sitting on the floor; she didn't even need to read his words to know what it was; an engagement ring, so no matter what happened, she'd always have an engagement ring from him.
Choking down a sob, she bent and picked it up, immediately putting it on her left hand ring finger, staring at the bright diamonds and white gold band. A sad smile grew on her face, as she lifted her hand to kiss the ring, swearing she'd never take it off.
Focusing back on the letter, she unfolded it and took a deep breath, knowing it would take some time to get through it.
"Monday, October 1, 2012
My beloved Rachel,
If you're reading this letter, I hope I'm only in surgery and it's not because of anything else. I want to start out by saying I'm truly sorry for hiding this from you and please don't be mad at anyone, but me. Your dads, my family, they only kept quiet because I begged them not to say anything. You should know me enough to know I hate when people worry about me.
A week from today I'm having a brain tumor removed. I feel like everyone is preparing for the worst, while I'm doing my best to stay positive and optimistic. Up until now, I've been ignoring the thoughts of any complications, but no surgery comes without risks and as much as I don't want to admit this, there is a chance that I won't make it... Or if I do, there's a chance where the tumor is, if they remove it, it could cause some memory loss. My only fear is that I'm going to hurt you because I forgot you or I left you.
You are the best thing that has ever happened to me. You are my shining star and I hope, pray and wish great things for you and I also want to share them with you... I want see you graduate college with your Bachelor's degree... I want to see you perform on Broadway... I want to meet you at the end of an aisle and tell you 'I do'... I want to have a family with you... I know now that I'm not holding you back, but I feel like you deserve more than I guy who was a jock in high school and does nothing more than fix cars now, but you've never cared about what I do or how I acted before, because you know I'm a good person and that I love you...
Again, I'm deeply sorry that I hid all this from you, but I needed my star to continue to shine so you can see me through all this. You're the reason I get up every day and I need you there for me, and I'm sure I've royally pissed you off for not telling you, but I hope somewhere inside of you, you'll be able to forgive me for not telling you, because I can't imagine my life without you.
I'm going to say this, because, well, I've finally come to terms with the fact that there is a chance I won't make it. I want you to know that you are the one for me. You have been since the moment you agreed to let me come over to work on mash-up ideas and I gave you that grape slushy. I'm so sorry I ever threw one on you. You never deserved it. Don't forget me and if I don't make it, know I'll always be with you. Looking down on you and protecting you every way I can. And with that, can you do me a favor if I'm not around anymore? Check in on my parents and sister at times... You know Arin looks up to you... Make sure they're okay..."
Rachel choked back a sob and put the letter down not wanting to think of him dying; she couldn't fathom living her life without him. "You're not going to die, Noah," Rachel whispered, but she wasn't sure if she was trying to tell him that subconsciously or assure herself.
Taking a few deep breaths, she picked up the letter again and began to read again.
"I'm sorry to be so blunt, but it's what I finally realized I needed to say.
I have not told anyone this, but I'm scared. I'm terrified. The biggest medical thing I've had to deal with was when I was a kid and broke my arm and now... I go in for a headache and they find a tumor... It's not fair! And even if I do make it through this and they can remove it... It might be cancer... This isn't something a twenty year old guy wants to hear! Cancer... The word itself scares the crap out of me and the thought that I have it... Makes it even worse!
I'm trying not to think about any of this because I'm trying to stay positive, but in the back of my mind I keep thinking about it.
As I said before, I hope you're reading this while I'm in surgery. I know your dads have wanted to tell you from the beginning and they are right. You should have known since then and I know you, so I'm 100% sure that once I drop this off with them, they're going to call you and you're going to rush home from New York to be here, and for that, thank you. I hope I can see you before I go in, but if I don't, I hope you're there when I wake up. I'll know you at least forgive me enough to be there.
There's a song that came out a few years ago... It's by Linkin Park and is called 'Leave All The Rest Out' and to be honest some of the lyrics say how I feel... 'I dreamed I was missing, you were so scared, but no one would listen, 'cause no one else cared. After my dreaming, I woke with this fear. What am I leaving when I'm done here? So if you're asking me, I want you to know... When my time comes, forget the wrong that I've done, help me leave behind some reasons to be missed. And don't resent me, and when you're feeling empty keep me in your memory, leave out all the rest. Leave out all the rest...'
Rachel stopped again, tears blurring her vision as she remembered the song; the words now meaning and scaring her more than ever before. "You're not leaving this world, Noah, you can't," she whispered, wiping her eyes with a tissue, "we've got so much time to make memories, don't talk like this."
"To be honest, there are a thousand things I could write you, but I don't know how to put them down on paper, but to sum them up... I love you, Rachel Berry, and something I've been holding back on is proposing. I've been optimistic that the tumor would go away and I had hoped I could propose with good news, but I can't. What I can tell you is I want to be with you forever. I want to be your husband. I want to start a family with you, wherever we may be living. It pisses me off that it's taken a major medical problem to make me realize I don't want to live without you in my life. I decided I'm not waiting any longer, so I bought you a ring, which I'm sure you found in here already, but if you haven't, it's there. The day I saw it at the jewelery store, I knew it was perfect for you. I know this is a crappy way to propose; in a letter, but I want you to know, in case... In case this is it and no matter what, I want you to keep this ring. It's yours. If something happens, at least everyone knows we were engaged.
My final words actually form a question: will you marry me?"
"Yes I will," she choked out, staring at the question for a long moment before sitting back in her seat and soaking in the words he wrote to her as she stared at the diamond ring on her hand. The solid white gold band held three round diamonds, one in the center slightly larger than the one on either side of it, and the entire ring was the perfect balance for her petite hand; large enough to stand out, but small enough that it didn't overpower her hand with it's size, "it's so beautiful. I can't wait to tell you that in person."
Seeing the pile of tissues next to her, Rachel wiped her eyes again and blew her nose and then closed her eyes for a few moments to let herself relax as best she could with a huge weight on her chest from fear.
Taking a few deep breaths, she pushed herself up and collected her tissues and threw them in a nearby trash and then folded the letter back up and slid it into the envelope again as she walked out, passing a clock on the way to see it was just a few minutes to noon, "he's been in surgery for an hour... I wonder how long it will take?" She thought, letting her feet take her back to the larger waiting room to find more of his extended family and some of the guys from Burt's garage who he worked with.
As she walked in, Deborah stood up and walked towards her, pulling her into a tight hug and as Rachel's hands rested against Deborah's back, everyone noticed the diamond ring on her hand that wasn't there before and Kurt being Kurt, couldn't contain his curiosity as he saw it, "oh my God! Is that an engagement ring?" He exclaimed, startling everyone in the room.
The question went unanswered for a long moment while Rachel refused to let go of her mom, but as she did, she looked around and nodded, "yes," she said softly, "he asked me upstairs and also in the letter," she said holding up the envelope in her hand, not wanting to let anyone see it; it was for her eyes only.
Kurt tried to get up, but Ryan and Burt held him back, "leave her alone, Kurt, she probably doesn't want a lot of people fussing over her right now," Burt snapped.
Kurt sat back in his seat with a huff, but didn't say anything, just crossed his arms over his chest in a pout.
Rachel looked at Deborah, "um, I... I didn't ask before, but how long until we know anything?" She asked softly.
"The surgery could be up to eight hours or more, depending on the tumor's exact location," she said softly taking her seat again and patting the chair between her and David.
Taking the hint, Rachel sat down next tot her, "that's at least another seven hours from now," she said.
"I know," Deborah nodded, putting her arm around Rachel's shoulders, and gently rubbed her back, "I know it's hard to do, but relax, take a nap, have something to eat. When was the last time you slept?" She asked softly.
"Yesterday morning... I can't... I can't sleep," she told her, the thought of closing her eyes scaring her.
"Sweetheart, you need to get some sleep. Try and close you eyes for a little while," David coaxed.
Rachel took a deep breath and realized most everyone else was kicked back some way, some trying to sleep, others busying themselves with magazines, their cell phones; well some of them were. Ryan was leaning back in his seat, trying to sleep and Kurt was leaning against him, doing the same thing. None of them had slept the night before getting on their flight, so as much as she didn't want to close her eyes, fear of the dreams or nightmares that would plague her, she was tired and figured adrenaline was the only thing keeping her going. Reluctantly, after a few moments, finally sat back and closed her eyes, hoping for even a few minutes of sleep.
End of Summer before Noah and Rachel's Senior year
"Noah, where are we going?" Rachel asked, concerned when she had no clue where he was driving them.
"It's a surprise," he told her.
"I gathered that, Noah, but why?" She looked around, the small country two-lane road foreign to her.
"I wanted to take you here on our anniversary, October ninth, but I figured it'd be a lot colder than it is now, so I decided today we could go," he admitted.
"Go where?" She looked at him, "all I see are trees and farmland."
"How about now?" He asked, his Jeep now following along the shore of a lake, the water so still it looked like a mirror reflecting it's surroundings.
"Oh my," she gasped, turning to look at him briefly before gluing herself to the window, "it's so beautiful!"
He smiled, "I thought you'd like it. It's Grand Lake Saint Mary's... It's a state park," he explained, pulling off the road to the boat launch area that could get them close to the water's edge, "when I was a kid, before dad left, he took me and Finn camping here once."
As his Jeep came to a stop she turned to him, "can we get out?" She asked with a bright grin.
"Yeah," Noah nodded and the two piled out and he followed her towards the water's edge and as she stood there, taking in the scenery, he wrapped his arms around her from behind and held her close.
Rachel relaxed in his arms soaking in the view of a place she didn't even know existed, "thank you for bringing me here, Noah."
"You're welcome, but I had a reason," he admitted.
She turned in his arms, "really, what's that?"
He smiled and pressed a kiss to her lips, "I wanted to tell you something," he paused a moment, "I wanted to tell you something important."
Concern flashed over her eyes, "important?" She questioned, a little worried.
"I love you. I know I'm not the best guy in the world; I've got a lot of faults, and I don't like expressing my feelings very well, but I do love you with all my heart."
Hearing those words from him warmed her spirit up quickly as she wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him lovingly, "I love you, too," she whispered against his lips.
Noah and Rachel's Senior year
"Noah, focus!" Rachel snapped from the piano.
"Huh?" He shook his head and looked up, "sorry. I'm trying, but I've got a headache. Can we just do this some other time?" He asked.
Rachel took a deep breath, "do you really have a headache or are you just trying to get out of practice?" She questioned, hating to accuse him of lying, but Mr. Schuester was letting them practice their lead vocals on their songs during lunch in the choir room for Nationals; their final performance as New Directions and now he was acting like he wasn't there.
"I'm serious," he snapped, plopping down in a chair and rubbing his head where the pain was the worse while he was hurt that she thought he was lying to her.
Rachel relaxed slightly and moved towards him, "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have doubted you, but we agreed to practice today," she said softly.
"I know, and it's okay. I'm sorry, but I can't control when I get a headache," he told her letting his eyes drift closed as the massaging seemed to help.
"Let me," Rachel moved behind him and let her hands replace his, giving him a gentle massage all over his head. "I don't want to push you or anything, but you do seem to have headaches a lot. Have you thought of going to your doctor about them?"
He sighed, "I've had them since I was younger. At first my doctor said I'd grow out of them and then before I stopped seeing the pediatrician, don't laugh, I didn't change to the one I'm seeing now until I started high school, but my last doctor said they could be sinus headaches. Build up of pressure in my sinuses. The air quality in the school isn't the best and I'm here a lot, so I'm sure that's what they are," he admitted. "That feels amazing," he groaned.
Rachel smiled at his enjoyment, "have you spoken to your adult doctor about them?" She asked softly.
"No. I never think of them when I go to see him. Usually I just see him when he's doing my physical for football," he shrugged.
"You should," Rachel commented, "make an appointment specifically for them."
"I will," he replied, "someday."
Late-March 2012 - Rachel's home for Spring Break of her Freshman year at NYU
Rachel walked into her bedroom, looking around, "the same as I left it," she thought setting her bags by her bed. Pulling out her phone she sent a text message to her boyfriend, surprised he wasn't there to welcome her home.
Busying herself by unpacking some of her things, she found it odd that he hadn't responded to her in over thirty minutes, so she picked up her phone and called him. On the fourth ring it went to voicemail and she sighed, but started to leave a message when she heard beeping in her ear and looked at the phone to see him calling her, so she switched over to him, "Noah?"
"I'm so sorry, baby!" He exclaimed through the phone, "I was going to be at your house when you got home."
"Noah, calm down, it's alright. You're busy, I understand," she admitted, assuming he had been at work.
"No it's not alright. I've been in bed all day. I had a nasty headache this morning when I got up, so I just stayed in bed. I fell asleep and didn't realize what time it was," he told her, "I'll be over in ten minutes," he added.
Rachel smiled sadly, thinking: "his headaches seem to be worse," as she said, "okay, see you in a few," she replied.
The two hung up their phones and while she continued to unpack, she felt butterflies in her stomach; she hadn't seen him since Winter Break, aside from video chatting and pictures back and forth on Facebook or email. She missed him; thinking about him when she was alone in her dorm room gave her the feeling that he had his arms wrapped around her and now she could really have that and know it wasn't a dream.
When the familiar sound of his jeep pulled up in front of the house, she ran down the stairs and was out the door before he could even get on the curb and she jumped at him, wrapping her arms around his neck, "Noah! I missed you so much!" She exclaimed.
Wrapping his arms around her, he balanced them so he wouldn't fall over and he grinned, "I missed you, too," he murmured kissing her neck before pulling his head back enough to kiss her.
Rachel's hands unconsciously moved up to massage his head and by his groan, she knew he still had a headache, so she broke their kiss and smiled at him, "my hands have a build up of massages in them for you."
He smiled and shifted slightly to slip one arm underneath her knees and soon he was carrying her into the house and up to her room where he kicked his shoes off and laid her on the bed, "I've got a build up of something else for you," he smirked, crawling up next to her.
She giggled, "I bet you do," she pulled him close to her, "and my dads won't be home for another two hours," she added.
"Jackpot," he grinned.
. two . days . later .
"Rachel, you're only home for a few more days. Go out and do something fun," Noah told her over the phone while he was on a break. "I feel horrible that I'm either working with a headache or at home in bed because of it. I'm so sorry baby, I'm ruining your Spring Break."
"No you're not, Noah," Rachel said honestly. "I came home to see you and my dads. While you're working I'm spending time with them and when you get home from work I'll be over and we can relax in bed, talk, anything. I want to be with you."
He smiled, "I love you, babe. That means a lot, but I'm still sorry."
"Don't be. I understand. I just wish we knew why you always get these headaches. They seem to be getting worse. Don't you think it's time to maybe see your doctor?" She asked.
"Yeah, I think it is. I'm tired of these. I mean, it feels like I've had a headache for two weeks. It just starts to go away and then it comes back. I'll try and remember to make an appointment sometime after you leave."
Early-September 2012 - Pool party at the Hudson's & Hummel's
Just before Rachel, Ryan and Kurt go off to school at NYU
Kurt, Mercedes, Tina, Artie and Brittany were the final original New Directions members to graduate from William McKinley High School and over the summer the Gleeks helped the Hudsons and Hummels move into their new home. After living together for two years, the two small families were finally legally joining into one... Carole and Burt were getting married in early-August, making Finn and Kurt step-brothers and both of them having a step-parent they'd been missing for many years. To start over fresh, they decided to buy a house, which had a pool, which is how Kurt was throwing a pool party as the summer came to a close, a way for everyone to say their goodbyes before some went away for school.
"You have a headache, don't you?" Rachel asked as she parked her car along the road, noticing the way he was rubbing his head.
"Yeah, but I'll be fine. It's not super bad," he assured her.
"Are you sure? We don't have to do this if you're not up for it."
Noah shrugged, "it's the last time we'll see everyone for a while. Let's just make the most of the time we have with them and enjoy ourselves," he suggested, adjusting his sunglasses on his face.
Rachel eyed him, surprised to hear those words from him, but she agreed with what he said, "you're right. We don't have long before some of us leave for school."
Getting into the house and out to the backyard where some of their friends were already lounging around in lawn chairs or in the pool, Noah and Rachel fell right into familiar territory with their friends, but as the day wore on, Noah's mild headache turned into a major one and he found himself taking one of his pain pills and curling up on a couch in the living room, waiting for the medicine to kick in, while everyone partied outside.
"What's wrong with Puck?" Kurt asked, coming back outside and looking at Rachel.
"He has a headache. I offered to take him home, but he insisted that we stay," Rachel said with a sigh.
"Does he want some Ibuprofen or Tylenol?" Kurt offered.
Rachel shook her head, "no, it's alright. He has some pain medication from his doctor that eases it. He just took some, so it should kick in soon."
Noah hated taking the pain medication because it always made him tired, so he only took half a pill, enough to lightly take some of ache away, but not enough to knock him out, and within an hour it had kicked in enough and he was able to rejoin his friends and function semi-normal.
As it started to get dark out, the party came to an end, and after long hugs between many of their friends, everyone started to leave, and Noah and Rachel said 'goodbye' to everyone; she, Kurt and Ryan being the ones to go the furthest, to NYU. Some of the Gleeks were going Columbus' OSU campus, while others were staying in Lima to go to the OSU campus there and work.
Rachel's eyes drifted open and it took her only seconds to realize where she was and why she was there. Lifting up her left hand she smiled at the ring on her hand, "I'm glad that wasn't a dream," she thought, rubbing her stiff neck.
"Rachel, sweetie, are you waking up?" David asked softly.
"Yes," she nodded, immediately regretting that since her neck hurt, "what time is it?" She asked.
"Just after six at night," he told her.
"Still in surgery, but it's been a little over seven hours, we should know something soon."
"Okay," she whispered, waking up a little more and stretching her stiff muscles.
Rachel didn't expect to sleep, but was glad she got a few hours in, allowing her mind to replay some important memories that clued her into everything going on; deep down she'd always been concerned about his headaches, but she didn't want to say much to him because she was afraid he'd shut down if she 'nagged' him about it, so she kept her concerns to herself and helped make him more comfortable with them; her head massages worked wonders. "I realized something," she commented.
"What's that?" Deborah asked.
"I've known something was up, but I never put it together. I... I should have made him go to the doctor when he was complaining of them at McKinley, but I... I didn't want him to think I was nagging him, so I kept it to myself. Maybe if I had said something sooner we wouldn't be here right now," she explained.
"Rachel, this is not your fault," Deborah said reaching out to take her hand, "none of the medicines that they tried worked, so if he had gone to the doctor sooner, it would still have to be removed; the only difference would have been if it had happened sooner, the headaches wouldn't have gotten as bad as they have been in the last few months; he's had them constantly. If anyone is to blame, it's me. I should have made the doctors do an MRI when he was younger, but I didn't think much of it when they said they could be sinus headaches," she added.
Ethan leaned around his wife to look at her and Rachel, "it's no one's fault. We can't sit here and blame ourselves for what we should have, would have or could have done. Like Deborah said, and we saw, none of the medications worked, so this surgery would have happened sometime in the past. Rachel, you're right, Noah is stubborn and wouldn't have let you force him to go to the doctor, so it's a good thing you didn't. He needed to be the one to get frustrated about them enough to go, and he did, finally."
"After my Spring Break," Rachel said softly, "he kept telling me he felt bad because all he was doing was sleeping off a headache or working with one. I told him I didn't care that we weren't going out to do anything; I wanted to spend time with him and that's what we did."
"Yeah, that was the final straw. At least the last few months he's had some pain medication that's helped ease the feel of the pain, but never took it away, so he was able to get through the summer with failed medications," Ethan said.
"When did he find out he'd have to have surgery?" Rachel asked curiously.
"Before the pool party," Finn said from across the room. "That's what he told me."
Tears formed in her eyes, but she took a deep breath to calm down before she spoke again, "when we got there, he had a headache and I told him we didn't have to stay, but he insisted. He said 'let's just make the most of the time we have with them' and I thought it was a little odd for him, but I pushed it aside as some of us were leaving, but now... Now I realize it was his way of saying goodbye in case... In case he didn't make it," she said tears falling, but she quickly wiped them away, trying not to cry.
"That's what we figured," Deborah admitted. "It's also about the time we think he started to realize the surgery was risky and complications were possible," she added, "but it didn't really hit him until just recently."
The entire room shifted uneasily as a woman in blue scrubs appeared, "Deb," she said walking towards her.
"Hey Sara, any news?" She asked lightly.
She nodded, "yeah, he's out of surgery and in recovery now. Doctor Beckett wanted me to come down and tell you he'll be down shortly to talk to you guys," she smiled.
"Thank you," Deborah returned her smile.
"You're welcome," the nurse nodded lightly at her and then left the room
Everyone sighed in relief; this was one major hurdle; he was still with them physically, but they didn't know anything more.
Before anyone could really say much, a man in his mid-forties appeared dressed in blue scrubs and a white lab coat and silently walked to a chair, pulled it over to Deborah and Ethan and sat down facing them, "Noah did great," he started out, "are we okay to talk here or do you want to go somewhere more private?"
"Here's fine," Ethan said rubbing his wife's back as she nodded in agreement.
"I was able to completely remove the tumor and I'm seventy-five-percent sure that it will not grow back, so it's pretty safe to say it won't. He's okay physically," he assured them, "we had no problems during surgery at all, he's strong and young; he's going to be okay, but we won't know just how he is mentally until he wakes up."
"When can we see him?" Rachel blurted out.
The doctor smiled, "you must be Rachel. He mentioned you before he went under. Said you'd want to see him as soon as possible," he told her, and as she blushed and sunk down in her seat again, he shook his head, "it's alright. I understand and you guys can see him soon. He's in recovery right now, and in a little bit we're going to take him up to his room while he's still under the anesthesia so we don't have to move him when he wakes up, because it'll be painful for a while," he explained.
"What about the tumor?" Deborah asked.
"It's like nothing I've ever seen before. It doesn't have the properties of a tumor like ones I've removed before. We're testing it here in the lab, so we should know something tonight or tomorrow and some is being sent to a larger lab for more tests just to be on the safe side, and we should have those results soon," he explained.
"Where do we go from here?" Ethan asked.
The doctor took a deep breath, "we made it through the surgery; that, I think, was the biggest hurdle. As I told you guys, there is a chance he could suffer from some memory loss, but we won't know anything until he wakes up, so we'll see what happens. I wish I could tell you for sure, but I can't, so let's prepare for the worse and hope for the best," he said sadly.
"Thank you, Carson," Deborah told him, "and my biggest fear was losing him, so now that we know he's alive, we can deal with the complications, if any, later."
"You're welcome and you're right," the doctor nodded, "I'm gonna keep him on some strong pain medication until I know just how much pain he's in and I'll gradually lower the dosage, so for the next few days he's probably going to be doing a lot of sleeping, so don't expect him to be very social for a while."
"As long as he's alive, I think some of us can wait a few days to see him," Finn commented.
The doctor nodded, "that's a good idea. I wouldn't overwhelm him right away. He probably won't remember much of the next few days because of all the medicine I'll have him on, but once I cut back, he'll come out of the drug haze."
"How long will he be in the hospital?" Rachel asked curiously.
"It's hard to say. We still need to watch out for post-surgery complications, but he is young and healthy, so I'm optimistic he'll bounce back quickly from all this, but even so, I'm saying at least two weeks," he admitted standing up, "I'm going to go check on him and I'll have someone let you know when he's in his room and you guys can see him," he added.
Ethan stood up and shook his hand, "thank you for everything you've done," he said.
"You're welcome," the doctor smiled as they shook hands and once their hands broke apart, he nodded at him and the others in the room before stepping out to give them some privacy.
To Part 2 of 2
Title and underlined lyrics used are: 'Leave Out All The Rest' by Linkin Park... A song on the soundtrack for the first Twilight movie.
A/N4: If you don't recognize the name, Dr. Carson Beckett was the medical doctor on Stargate: Atlantis and was killed off in Season 3 by, of all things, an exploding tumor. He was able to remove it from the person, saving their life, but was unable to drop it off and get to safety before it exploded. I loved his character and this is a way to honor him, by surviving the removal of a tumor. Character name belongs to Stargate: Atlantis' owners... I do not own the name.
Tags: fan fiction, fic table, glee, leave out all the rest, puck, puck/rachel, puckleberry, rachel, rachel/puck