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Strangers Undercover [1/?]
cx7171

Title: Strangers Undercover
Pairing: Noah/Rachel
Summary: AU. Some days he doubted her disappearance and his days off were a coincidence, but others they were too busy fighting each other. He had forgiven her because she just handed him the best puzzles to entertain him during his vacation. Who expected him, a CIA agent, to sit still for a second anyway?
Word Count: 4,510
Disclaimer: I own nothing but my ideas. Besides that, I know little to nothing about the FBI, being a PI or anything really, so all this is fiction (in case you had forgotten)
AN: Hello, my dear people. Remember about this being a oneshot? Well, that idea was flushed down the toilet considering I'm 20K words into the story and I'm nowhere near the end. So this has become a multichapter. Luckily for you, since I did all the research and I have chapters already finished, I'll post a chapter once a week. Promise! I swear this time is real. You could, of course, let me know if it is worthy of the effort though.

Under the heavy coat hid the outfit for the day. Sleek dark suit, crispy white shirt, shiny black shoes, freshly shaved head, and he was ready to walk into the building with his hands in the pockets to keep them safe from the January cold.

Going through the ACV quickly, sweeping his ID card to walk past the turnstile and he was finally inside the building. It was a tiring routine to just get to his desk but he was used to it. Well, actually, he wasn’t used to be at his desk but it was a figure of speech. And it wasn’t like he kept personal objects or anything that reminded him of home there. God knew very well he wanted nothing to do with home.

“Puckerman,” a tall man in a light gray suit greeted him, a small smile on his lips. “Last day of debriefing, huh?”

He smirked, cocking one eyebrow. “Easy there, Chang. It’s not like my vacation is going to last forever. Your party won’t last long.”

Honestly, in places like that, he knew friends were scarce, if he could have them at all. Everyone there lived by the policy of trust no one; also, he was sure he wasn’t trusted. Anyone could ask for his head the next day. Someone could turn out to be the bad guy, too.

Still, Langley had become his new home. A home he couldn’t really talk about, unlike his real home about which he didn’t want to talk about.

Before him stood Michael Chang, his partner during one mission, recruited the same year as he had been, living with long-time girlfriend Tina Cohen-Chang and the rest about his life he had it in a folder in his personal computer at home and backup disk somewhere you wouldn’t find. He could probably have told you even about what kind of underwear Agent Chang was wearing. Boxers. Most likely with some stupid design.

“As if I want to waste time celebrating.” Mike tucked his hands in the pockets of his dress pants. “And it’s not like I’m up for some two year operation, like you.” He snorted a little laugh, tilting his head to the side. “Tina decided to plan the wedding.”

“Oh,” he muttered as a reply. Smirking. Humming. Any type of long-term commitment that didn’t involve guns, research and security, wasn’t in his books. In fact, he had never really understood the need of it. He carried a life of basic needs being fulfilled, translating his sex life into just a list of nameless partners that didn’t even know his real name.

It suited him to be an agent for the CIA.

“So, Noah Puckerman, are you willing to be a witness of this event?” Mike asked with amusement laced to his voice. At his furrowed brow, Chang sighed. “What about being my best man?”

His eyes widened.

Best man. It was quite the title but he understood Mike’s logic. Neither of them had friends, and outside Langley, people didn’t really know them. Hell, everyone thought he worked as a translator for the UNDP in Washington; not a very glamorous job, unlike Chang’s cover as a commercial pilot which gave him the perfect excuse for his long trips.

“Sure, I- I guess,” he stuttered awkwardly, drawing laughter out of Mike. “But I don’t understand this at all. You could have any – hell, every woman in the world and you settle with a doctor who barely has time for you when you’re here.”

Seriously. What kind of sex life would you have if you’re so busy all the time?

“I love her,” Mike offered as if that was enough. “And- She was approved. Everything is clear about her past, so… I’ll tell her about me. Tonight,” he added solemnly, which provoked a smile on Noah’s face.

“Wow, that means not only the government has your ass but now your woman will have your balls.” He clapped a hand over Mike’s shoulder. “Good luck on your deadliest mission.”

Mike snorted a laugh and saw him walking away. “One day you’ll go on that mission too, you know, Puck.”

“Not in a million years, Chang.” Noah shook his head, chuckling lightly at the nickname Mike had thrown in the middle of their talk. Maybe he could have a friend, like those who knew him back in the day, before he became a piece in a chess game. “Not a chance. I’d rather debrief with Sylvester for the rest of my days before – ”

“Good thing, Agent Puckerman, because you’re already late for our meeting,” a tall woman with short blonde hair interrupted him with a voice of command that even he knew not to mess with. “Shall we?” She motioned towards a room, wearing that evil smile on her face.

Noah nodded.

Fear was the best weapon of Susan Sylvester, his boss and the director of clandestine operations.

He foresaw a long day of debriefing ahead of him.

&

The keys jangled together while he got out of the car. His silver sedan wasn’t a car his old self would’ve picked but he understood why it suited him better; a sedan was the car of a man who was dedicated to his boring job, it didn’t call for attention or let anyone imagine the person behind the wheel could kill you with his pinky finger. Anyway, he sort of missed having a truck.

He locked the car and made his way up the steps outside his humble abode. Living in a small gated community had always made him feel out of place but it allowed him to blend in; every spy knew that it was much smarter than to hide in an isolated place.

“Noah,” a grave voice greeted him, not too far away from him. Shit. Of course he had seen his neighbor out of the corner of his eye, but he hoped he was being quiet enough to go unnoticed.

A friendly smile blossomed on his lips while he turned around, pushing his fake horn-rimmed glasses up his nose with his index finger. He looked like a dork but that way he could sell his image.

“Hiram. How are you, sir?”

“Oh, here, you know, working to make this country better.” The man smiled amicably, approaching a few feet to continue their conversation; and Noah knew he couldn’t just ignore his next door neighbor. Besides, he knew everything about the man already.

Hiram Berry. Age: 58. Last name changed in 1992, taking the one of his life partner, Leroy Berry, with whom he had finally married only ten years prior. He worked as a senator’s consultant. He had one adopted daughter who currently lived in New York and worked as an actress. One older brother and a younger sister, the latter visited him for Thanksgiving every year.

Noah chuckled.

“What about you, son? We haven’t seen you around for the last two weeks. We were starting to get worried.”

Honestly, that was why he kept a good relationship with his neighbors. Noah truly believed Hiram’s words. But what did you expect him to do? He couldn’t tell him that he had been on a mission of recon in the middle east, that he had killed three men within the last week alone and then had spent two days debriefing with his boss, ending up with a massive headache.

“UNDP keeps me busy. I had to stay in Mexico for a summit. But now I have a couple of weeks off so… you will see me around more often,” Noah supplied quickly, feeding him a lie that came easy for his tongue. Except about his weeks off. That was true. After two long years of one mission after the other, Sylvester had sent him home, telling him that he took the damn weeks off or she forced him to it.

Without an option, Noah had to say yes.

“You deserve time for yourself, Noah. Such a young man, working to make this a better world, needs to rest.” God, by then, Noah didn’t even blink about it. Sure, he was helping to make the world better by catching bad guys instead of working helping undeveloped countries. Hiram was right. The man in front of him sighed. “Any plans for these days?” Noah shook his head. “If only we would’ve found out about this sooner, I could’ve called my daughter so you can finally meet her-“

And that was what he hated about the Berry men. Since they had met him, they were trying to hook him up with this daughter of them, talking about how perfect they would be. For him, the woman sounded like a major pain in the ass, with an attitude the size of the Everest, demanding and high-maintenance. Plus, she was twenty-seven and was still having trouble with her career but didn’t give up.

She was probably bitter and obsessive, thinking she was too good to realize that simply she wasn’t cut for it.

“You and Rachel would make such a great couple.” Hiram beamed at him. He would probably never understand that a woman like that would never be with a man like him, even if under this old Jewish man’s gaze, Noah Puckerman looked like the perfect, geeky, reliable, Jewish man to have as a son-in-law.

“It’s a shame, sir. I’m sure she’s lovely.” Noah bit back the gagging sounds.

“Absolutely. Hopefully, next time she visits, you are in the city.”

His smile broadened. “Only God can tell. I hope so, though.” Did it count if he was crossing his toes?

“Well, I leave you to go home. You must be tired after your trip. Have a nice day.”

“You too, sir. Send my regards to your husband.”

His teen self would’ve teased him mercilessly about being this polite, but it was now a second nature. It wasn’t as if he was a sleeper cell but he had learned that once his aggressiveness had been put under control, a more gentle side of his personality had surfaced. That was the perfect combination for an agent, which made him great at what he did.

Dropping his keys in the bowl he kept in the kitchen counter, Noah heaved a long, tiring sigh. Studying the sterile sight of his house, it finally sank in. He hadn’t stopped working in the field for two years, before that he had been doing research for numerous cases and training. It had been years since he had time off. Therefore, he had no clue about what to do with his free time.

He took his glasses off, shrugged his jacket off as well, and stared at the forty-two inch screen hung on the wall of his living room. Could he carry on with a normal life when his life wasn’t such?

These were the moments in which he understood why so many agents tended to create crazy conspiracy theories or lose their minds, ending up going to some shrink and popping pills like maniacs.

He would not end like that.

Loosing the knot of the tie around his neck, and stretching his arms over his head, he decided it was good time for a nap. Later he’d call for food and maybe – just maybe, go out to get some fun night with a woman who’ll remind him why it was so good to keep fighting for freedom.

&

Two days later found him doing sit-ups in the spare room of his so-called modern house. Sophisticated was such a pompous word for the sterile gray and navy blue palette that covered his house. For him it felt like a cold place, an extension of the office. As an agent he didn’t really have a life of his own; he was perpetually sentenced to live lives of characters created to gather information and act.

He needed to get out.

Grabbing his iPod, Noah decided it was a good, cold day to jog. Having a few days off didn’t mean he could slack off on his exercise routine. It certainly wasn’t as if he was in bad shape. Compliments about his looks had always showered him, coming from women since he was young, since he learned that power could not only be about control but about how to make another person lose it.

He was a firm believer that women one day would rise and realize that the power was on their hands to be used. They were the ones who carried children, who gave life and pleasure, who could withstand pain, who were loyal, who fell in love. Men were just mere observers of these marvelous beings.

Problem was women hadn’t noticed it yet. And because of it, he took advantage of his knowledge as always. Poor, yet magnificent, creatures thought a night with him was a gift to them, when it was truly something he was stealing for him.

In the last two days, he had already bedded a woman. Pretty but not so bright. If he was right, she would turn into a bitter divorcee by her forties, blaming all her pain in her poor judgment and one or two husbands that would go through life being stupid.

Funny how love turned things upside down in people’s lives. Having it could make you crazy with joy, while losing it could turn you into a despicable being.

He didn’t blame his mother for her attitude towards life after his father had left her. Noah understood she expected more from a relationship in which she had invested years of her life. Instead she got two kids to feed and raise, a mortgage to pay and very little to get by.

For years he harbored the dream of finding a girl, fall in love, have a family and correct all the mistakes he had seen in his parents’ failed relationship. The same years made him realize there was no point about it if his wife would meet a shell of himself, that façade that wanted to prove he was perfect.

He was a flawed man that could rarely talk about his job and live a normal life.

Would a woman be willing to have a man with so many secrets at her side? Most likely, no. That’s why the office was filled with agents cheating on their better halves. Sometimes they needed to be themselves and what better than another person who knew how it felt.

Still, he didn’t want that. So he survived by romancing woman after woman, trying to give them a good memory but also making very clear he was not interested in repeats.

He was panting by the time he made it back to his house, ready for a long shower so his muscles could relax. The screams he heard coming from the house next door certainly called his attention, though.

The Berrys weren’t a couple known by making their fights public. In fact, even if he knew they were fans of Hollywood and Broadway, they kept a very low-key profile. They were great neighbors in his book.

It was Hiram’s strangled cries that piqued his interest. He had the natural curiosity of any good investigator; he had been trained for that.

Noah made his way to the open door when he was able to hear the conversation more clearly.

“We should go, Leroy!” Hiram shouted with despair. “I know you want to leave this in hands of the police but I don’t think our little girl, alone in New York, is going to be a priority when they practically laughed in our faces.”

Leroy, a man approaching his sixties, with a poise only experience could provide, sighed forlornly. “You know they could be right. She’s not a child anymore, Hiram. Rachel could be having a weekend away with a boyfriend, or maybe-“

“She calls us every day!” Hiram argued in a high-pitched tone, losing all the composure he kept most of the time. “For years, Rachel calls us at night, or leaves a message if she’s going out. Don’t you think she would’ve told us if she was planning to leave like this? For the weekend, nonetheless!”

Noah could imagine Leroy shaking his head, pinching the bridge of his nose, while trying to come up with words that could comfort his partner. There were things that even if people didn’t want to believe happened the same for every type of couple. Fights were pretty much the main one.

“We’ve done all that we could do. What good would bring to harass the police?”

Exasperation was laced to Hiram voice. “Well, I’m going to New York, Leroy. You want it or not. I’m not going to sit here waiting for a call while our daughter’s been missing for almost three days!” The man cried. “And trips? Have you lost your mind? I called her neighbor. The woman said she hasn’t seen her and she’s the worst gossip.”

“Hiram-“ Leroy’s voice pleaded.

“I’m going!”

Noah had a pretty good idea of what was going on by the time Hiram stepped out of the door, finally. He knew the man had been crying and it had seemed to pile years on him.

Heaving a sigh, Noah’s gaze locked with the one belonging to a startled Hiram, Leroy following closely behind.

He knew he shouldn’t have gotten involved but… come on, these men had treated him great over the last four years he had been living in that community. They were by far the best behaved people he knew, and honest. They worried about him, even when they had no responsibility.

“I’m sorry, I couldn’t help to hear you,” Noah apologized quickly. “It’s rare of you to fight so…” His mouth tilted upwards in a small smile. “It’s odd. It wasn’t my intention to eavesdrop.”

Leroy was the one who shot him a warm smile as his heavy right hand fell upon his husband’s shoulder. That man was less talkative than Hiram but Noah could clearly remember the handful of times they made small talk about cars and sports, about that time he invited him to watch the Super Bowl and offered him a cold beer. He sort of reminded him of what parents could be when done right.

“Don’t worry, Noah.”

“Maybe I could help.”

And that’s how it all began.

&

Furiously typing his notes into his laptop, Noah kept pouring every detail of the story he had heard from his neighbors about their daughter in a few files neatly organized in the computer he kept with no connection to the Internet whatsoever. Security precautions he had taken after his training; to go online he had another computer connected through an old-fashioned wired LAN, since Wi-Fi was much easier to hack.

Yes, he was perhaps one of those paranoid people who kept erasing their data from the computer but he liked not to leave traces.

The lie he provided, given he couldn’t tell Hiram and Leroy he was a CIA agent, was that he had an old classmate who worked as a police officer and might be able to help. After that, Rachel Berry’s parents started to pour all the information they had about their daughter and whereabouts.

Staring at the big picture he had digitalized for his notes, Noah’s mouth quirked up. Rachel was indeed a very attractive woman, with a beautiful smile, tan skin, big brown eyes and chestnut hair that cascaded down her shoulders. Despite her short height, her body was shapely and very well-kept. He didn’t understand why she hadn’t made it into show business, when clearly she looked like she belonged there, even if she wasn’t Oscar-worthy talented.

Still, behind all that beauty, Noah thought she was probably a pain in the ass.

He grabbed his cell phone and searched for a phone number in his contact list.

“What?” was the crisp greeting he got as soon as the person answered.

“How are you, my lovely white chocolate truffle?” Noah quipped, not even trying to hide the wicked smile blossoming on his lips as he heard the woman on the other side of the line huffing with annoyance.

“What do you want, Puckerman?”

“Aw, you wound me, dear. Can I not just call you to find out how my favorite hacker is?”

“Flattery with me will get you nowhere,” the woman shot back as a poisonous arrow. Of course, Noah knew how to play with most of his collaborators; to have a good relationship was in fact a requisite to carry on. “You can go to your friend Guppy in the agency, though. He perhaps falls for that sort of tricks.”

“Come on, Lo. I need your help.” Noah smirked as he kept checking files in his computer. “I’m off duty right now. Working on some personal projects, you could say.”

Lauren Zizes had been a Carnegie Mellon student when he met her. She wasn’t what you would call a model citizen but she knew how to get information about anything and from anywhere; a true hacker unlike those who tried to be famous by hacking commercial websites to make a name. Unfortunately for her, she had been caught stealing some classified records in exchange of some cash. She had been granted freedom after a promise of cooperation and an order that forbade her to take any jobs in which she would be sat in front of a computer. Lauren, just like him, didn’t play by the rules. As far as he knew, she had kept her word not to mingle with the bad guys, though. And yes, he was able to keep an eye on her.

“What?” she barked back. “A background check of some floozy you just met?” Lauren laughed loudly, mocking him.

Noah rolled his eyes. “No, that I can do. I just need you to get me some files from NYPD about a recent missing person case. They must have very little but it’s a start. Can you do that for me?”

“You’re lucky I like you.” She laughed more naturally when he teased her with the sound of a kiss trough the phone. “Okay, I’m in. What’s the name?”

“Rachel Barbra Berry.” Noah waited online to hear from her as he walked across the apartment to go to his other computer and download the files he would need.

A few seconds later, Lauren started talking again. “So she’s a pretty girl.” Noah smirked, chuckling at the comment. “Sure she has nothing to do with some screw-up of yours?”

“Sure, babe. Just tell me what you found.”

He could tell by Lauren’s tone that she thought this was all some sort of game. It wouldn’t be the first time he’d done it. Sometimes he enjoyed finding about other people’s secrets through shady sources just to see how good he was; and to gather all those dirty secrets in case he would need them in the future.

“Rachel Berry was reported missing Sunday afternoon by her parents after they claimed not to hear from her in two days. Police went to her apartment and she wasn’t home. A friend said she looked normal Friday, at about eleven AM, which would be last time she was seen.” Lauren hummed, as she read some jibber-jabber. “There are some details of her activities given by her friend but that would be pretty much it. I’ll email it to you. Do you need anything more?”

Noah was checking the files Lauren had sent at the same time. “I don’t think so – Wait, did they do basic things like checking her expenses for the last month, her bills, bank accounts, phone records and all that, sugar?”

He could imagine her shaking her head when she scoffed at his question. “You’re lucky with what you saw. For what I’m reading here, the case hasn’t been taking seriously.” So the Berrys were right about their assumptions. Noah could understand it, since it was hard to imagine a woman in her late twenties to be considered missing just because she hadn’t called her parents during the weekend. “I’m sending everything else I find in a while. Now, how will you compensate all this hard work?”

“Oh, so talking to this sexy beast wasn’t enough?”

He laughed at the snort Lauren gave.

“How about keeping my pretty mouth shut and not reporting you and your illegal activities in that computer?”

“I hardly doubt playing Warcraft is a criminal activity, Puck. Everything else is stuff you ask me to do.”

“Well, let’s keep things simple.” He sighed, scratching the back of his head as he stared at the keyboard in front of him. “You’ll find a little reward at your door in the morning. Godiva’s will suffice?”

“Bye-bye, love,” Lauren purred in a sugary tone that provoked laughter in him.

He better shopped for those chocolates right now if he wanted to keep his collaborator happy. Plus, he had all night ahead of him to check the new information he had on his hands so maybe by tomorrow he would’ve solved this case and find out that Rachel was actually mad at her dads or still trying to recuperate after a bad hangover.

&

No such luck.

According to the new information he had gathered, Rachel Berry wasn’t in New York anymore, so he had to forget the idea of solving this case as quickly as he hoped so.

With a cup of fresh brewed coffee in his hand, Noah kept his gaze unfocused but in his desk’s direction. He couldn’t believe a woman like Rachel could get into big troubles but maybe he had misjudged her initially.

Twenty-five thousand dollars had been deposited in her bank account a week ago. Her credit card registered the purchase of a plane ticket through some travel agency to cover her tracks a little bit but it took him no time to find out that the destination was Lima, Peru; the flight’s departure was Saturday morning, which explained where she could be right now.

The big question was why and how she had gotten all that money at once when she had no stable job and people thought she was waitressing in a small restaurant in East Village. There were millions of shady business she could be a part of but he doubted Rachel was involved, even if he had been wrong about her.

Noah did discover that from time to time large sums of money were deposited in her bank account, always from different people but never going over the couple of thousand dollars. This time was different.

First thought was drugs or prostitution but he promptly discarded them after one look at her medical check-ups; according to her doctor, Rachel wasn’t very busy in the romantic department and her friend, a man named Kurt Hummel, claimed she hadn’t been behaving any weirder than usual (and he knew her since college).

Noah took a large gulp of his coffee, his free hand tracing the shape of Rachel’s face in the monitor of his computer. “What are you hiding, baby?” he whispered to no one.


  • 1
Aaahhh!!!! I'm so glad to see this chapter I've literally been jumping around... I've been checking your page almost everyday since you posted the idea for this fic, and I'm probably totally weirding you out right now...
This is so awesome and I love the idea, I really hope you continue it and update soon... I'm dying to know what happens next...

About the weirding me out? Maybe a little, but it is kind of flattering hahaha
Thank you, I'm so glad you liked it, because I've been putting a lot of thought into this to make it good. And don't worry, like I promised, I'll update weekly.

I'll try not to be too stalkerish, though I'm probably not helping my case right now... But I absolutely love and have read most of your stories when they were on ff.net... I was really sad when you took them down... Especially the karma one (where puck gets cursed and sees visions of Rachel), I really wanted to read more of that, hopefully you'll think of going back to that... Oh and the one where puck gets Rachel as a mail order bride was hilarious and completely awesome...
You're an amazing writer and I'm really glad you're putting up puckleberry fics again....
:D

YES YES YES THANK YOU FOR POSTING THIS! Have been checking your page almost every other day hoping to see a new story up! Low and behold its finally up! :D it got me so excited and of course it didn't disappoint! THANKS BB 😘
And I have the same feelings as this_empty_room because I was so bummed out when you deleted your ff.net account and didn't finish Karma and Kismet which was amazing by the way! Your stories were well loved!

YAY I'm so excited to see a new story from you! You're definitely a favorite. Can you share why you've deleted a lot of your stories?

Thanks!
Wow, I don't know about being a favorite, but it's certainly nice to be told that.
I think I once said why I deleted the stories. My account got hacked and I lost a couple of stories, which at the time made me both sad and angry. I lost my muse for a while and since I stopped writing like I did, it's been hard to get back.
Hopefully this story will help with that.

OMGGGGG you just made my day!! i'm gonna read this tonite!!! thank youuuuu :D

  • 1
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