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: 4,370
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 : Thank you to those who are reading. Like I promised, another chapter this week. See? Do I get brownie points for this?
More lies. Noah bought a ticket to Peru for Tuesday night, and had to tell Hiram and Leroy something about a translator being sick and him being called to the office last minute, that his friend was still working on Rachel’s case but will surely have some answers soon. They sounded very grateful and pleased, not even thinking he was hiding a weapon under his clothes or that his baggage was probably full of things no airport would allow.
And everything be damned, but he wasn’t the kind of guy who could keep away of a good mystery case. Take Rachel’s disappearance as his own personal little project for his vacation.
He just couldn’t stay still.
Packing a few of his belongings, most of which he deemed necessary, and some of his personal gear for the field, he made a couple of calls to exit the country without a hitch. Of course he had to inform about this hobby to Mike, since he needed a connection in the country just in case things got out of hand.
Indeed, his colleague wasn’t happy about the news but Noah couldn’t care less about it. He’d do what he wanted, and right now was solving the mystery that Rachel Berry had become. Plus, he had endured a dinner with Mike and his fiancée the previous night just to be introduced as the friend who’d be his best man in the wedding that’d be held in July that year.
After the introductions and the amicable talk they did, his assessment about Tina had been done. She was a smart woman, quiet yet friendly, with an expressive face that showed pretty much everything she thought; luckily for Mike, she always spoke the truth. Regretfully, Noah couldn’t help but to feel disgusted (and perhaps a tinge of jealousy, though he’d never admit it) at how Mike and Tina looked at each other, how their hands seemed to find one another over the table, how they made love look casual.
Repulsion. That was the word. No, he did not want that. He wasn’t a desperate woman in her late forties praying for a relationship. Noah Puckerman was a tough man who enjoyed sleeping around.
Reclining his seat back, he decided to nap during the flight, even if he was always alert to any suspicious activity in the plane.
He had almost fourteen hours to kill, so forgive him if he plugged in his earbuds and started listening to an audio book to erase the gross and adorable image of Mike and his fiancée off his head.
After getting a room in a small hotel under the name in his passport that claimed he was a Danish citizen, Noah was ready to investigate Rachel’s whereabouts and her motives to be in the country, since he still couldn’t trace that.
Not to brag, but his Spanish was awesome. He had actually little trouble learning it since one of his roommates in college was Colombian and, you know, he was up to learn how to curse in different languages. Everything took a different turn once he decided to take college seriously, to take challenges like Mandarin and that Middle East studies class. Suddenly, he was good at it and his sports scholarship had been put to good use.
Following the use of Rachel’s credit card led him to a hotel better than his.
By talking with the receptionist, he discovered that yes, a small brunette had registered in the hotel but she couldn’t give him any other information. Noah, not one to give up easily, tried to flirt his way in but the woman was tough. Paying one of the bellboys to let him go up to the room where Señorita Berry was staying was not only faster but quite cheap to his standards. But of course Noah’s standards included rich bad guys who could afford anything.
“Gracias,” Noah muttered quietly while handing the boy a few bills that made a total of thirty soles. “Recuerda avisarme cuando vuelva y te doy cien soles más.” (Remember to let me know when she gets here and I’ll give you another hundred.)
The boy nodded, smiling, probably thinking about his reward.
Noah was pretty sure that, to all the people he was asking questions, he must’ve looked like a scorned lover who wanted to take revenge or surprise the lady in question. It probably looked more bizarre considering that, according to the receptionist, Rachel’s Spanish was really poor.
Once in the room, Noah instantly started to search for clues.
It was obvious she was alone given the things he had found, so an escapade with a man (or a woman) was discarded; unless the lover didn’t want to be found and they had decided to stay in different places to avoid questions. A possibility he soon ruled out after checking her luggage. Any woman with a lover would’ve picked naughty outfits for the weekend, and Rachel, if having one or two pairs of very interesting panties, had packed mostly comfortable clothes.
The bathroom proved him she had probably some mild form of OCD. She liked sweet perfumes but with fresh notes that must’ve surely smelled quite nicely on the sheets. She was vegan, according to her beauty products and that tiny bottle of lube that claimed to be grape flavored.
A smirk crept on his face.
Maybe she did have a lover… or she enjoyed herself.
Noah licked his lips.
Okay, back to business. He promptly sat in front of her laptop once he plugged it to a socket; right after cracking the little security box in the closet where she also kept some documents. The screen soon asked him for a password in which he tried several combinations until funnygirl gave him access to everything.
See, sometimes is good to do a proper research and find out that’s her favorite movie.
As he clicked and studied folder after folder in her computer, one of those called his attention. There was one folder with the title PI which contained several others, each one with a name and a date. Looking into the first five ones, Noah suddenly had an idea of how Rachel Berry really made a living.
The sweet, aspiring actress wasn’t what she claimed to be. Actually, Rachel was working as a private investigator for a long time according to her files.
The system she had to make things very private between her clients and herself was quite good, except that someone might’ve found strange the deposits made into her bank account. Most of her cases were about cheating spouses, background checks and a few for some lawyers; each one of those had been successful, since apparently she was quite skilled in the research department.
“Good lord, baby, couldn’t you just be having an affair? It would make things much easier for me,” Noah mumbled to himself as he finally opened the newest folder with her most recent case.
Finally he got an explanation to what had brought her to Peru.
Her client, a man called Erich Kordus who owned an antique shop in Manhattan, had hired her to find some pre-Columbian artifacts that he claimed lost. Rachel didn’t add any information about her employer, but she did save her research. It was mainly focused on a Tumi, a knife with a semi-circular blade used for rituals that involved some type of sacrifices and also for skull trepanations, depending on the culture; these were pretty popular among tourists and he had seen replicas in the hotel where he was staying.
By the time he was about to open another folder, his luck turned its back at him.
Apparently, his good friend Gerardo, the bellboy, forgot to let him know about the brunette that was about to come into her room. Painfully, with no time to put the computer back in its place, Noah had to take extreme measures.
Tiptoeing his way to the door, he stood behind it, as Rachel calmly stepped in the room. She was cheerfully humming a tune until she saw her laptop on the small desk in the corner. Her steps became slower and her whole body tensed. It wasn’t until she heard the door click shut behind her that panic overtook her.
Honestly, she didn’t stand a chance against him.
Noah covered her mouth with one hand, wrapping an arm around her waist to stop her from running away. Even so, he could still feel how she tried to scream, bite him or whatever.
“Let’s make this clear, baby,” he purred into her ear, out of her sight since he was holding her from behind. “I don’t want to hurt you so don’t even- Fuck!” Noah yelped when he miscalculated his moves.
Rachel stabbed his foot with the heel of her shoe.
“What the fuck, woman?” Noah yelled, scowling at her and ignoring the small gun she had pointed his way. “Put that away before you hurt yourself,” he added more calmly, taking deep breaths to try to forget she had almost broken his fucking foot!
Rachel scoffed. “Please, a common burglar won’t tell me what to do. Besides, if you must know, I’m an excellent shooter,” she bragged.
A corner of Puck’s mouth tilted up. He wasn’t fazed about the gun pointed at his head; it wasn’t the first time this happened. But it amused him to see this petite woman holding a gun aimed at him. He remembered reading an article about guns being some kind of metaphor for a masculine job, a somewhat phallic object, so men tended to fantasize about women holding guns because it was comparable to imagine a woman holding their penises.
Fuck that article.
He liked what he saw in front of him because the woman with long, gorgeous legs was exquisite. And yes, her stance with the gun made her look great, but he also liked the short skirt and the top she was wearing.
“Shoot me,” he spat, almost laughing. “But if I were you, I wouldn’t do it unless you want to get in very serious trouble. And I won’t be around to spank you, naughty girl.”
Her eyes narrowed to slits. Oh, how much she hated him right then. Noah felt it in the air.
“Your threats don’t scare me.”
He heaved a sigh, shaking his head disapprovingly. “You really think I’d travel half the world to steal the few bucks you carry on you? It’d be much easier – and cheap to steal the money by hacking your bank account, don’t you think?”
She blinked at him, opening her mouth to make a retort but nothing came out.
“I thought so.” He lifted a hand and placed it over the gun, quickly maneuvering to take it from her hands before she protested. “Now, I must say I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t because a good little daughter forgot to call her overprotective parents.”
Rachel’s brow furrowed with surprise. “What- How do you know that? Are you a PI as well? Did my parents send you to look for me?”
He hummed, neither affirming nor denying it. “Something like that.”
“I-“ She growled, clearly frustrated. “I can’t call them from Peru! They will realize that I’m not in New York anymore. Plus, they need to learn I’m not a little girl anymore. I’m twenty-seven, for god’s sake.” Folding her arms across her chest, she studied him one second, trying to come up with her next move. “I’ll pay you twice as much if you tell them nothing.”
He snorted a laugh. “Sorry, honey, I can’t do that.”
“What? Why not?” She shrieked. “I’ll pay you in cash if you want.” Noah shook his head, still laughing quietly. “You don’t know them like I do.” Rachel stabbed her chest with her fingers. “I haven’t even been able to tell them about what I truly do for living in the last three years! I had to actually rent a whole theater, pay some people to have an audience and perform for them just so they could leave me alone.” Her head lolled back, as if she was praying for things to change, for this to not be happening. “I can’t even tell them that I’m single because every time they talk to me about this nice guy named Noah who would be just perfect for me, but he truly sounds like a huge, boring dork!”
Noah had to actually purse his lips not to laugh at that.
“I need excitement in my life. I can’t be what they want. Please!” She begged. “I’ll triple it! Last offer.”
He sighed, scrubbing a hand over his jaw. The stubble was pretty noticeable even after only little over a day of not shaving. “Rach, I can’t do that,” he paused for the dramatic effect only, to see that cute, sexy pout on her lips. “I can’t because I’m not being paid to do this.”
Her eyes widened in surprise.
Outstretching his hand, he smiled politely. “Hello. Noah Puckerman, your parents’ terribly boring neighbor. Would you like to share some details about your investigation before or after you call your parents?”
To make a call from Peru to Washington, D.C., Noah had to call Mike and ask for a few favors. He didn’t need to say that Sam Evans, better known as Guppy, the guy in charge of the technological department, wasn’t happy to get dragged into this mess. Still, he did what Puck asked him for.
His friendship with Sam was questionable but there was a bond there. They didn’t get along perfectly nor share common interests beyond their jobs, but they both came from small places, without many hopes in their future and still made it; that somehow united them. Sam was probably the first one who’d jump to save his neck if things got ugly, while Mike would come up with a plan before reacting.
It was a pretty dysfunctional family, but Noah had learned that it was the best he had.
“How?” Rachel babbled once she hung up his cell phone, tossing it at him as soon as she left the bathroom where she had sustained her private conversation that it had been probably recorded by Sam back in Langley.
He caught the phone swiftly with one hand.
“What?” Noah plunked down onto the bed nonchalantly, keeping a very cool attitude despite the events he had been part of earlier on.
Her mouth curved into a very incredulous smile. “You- you managed to make this look like I was calling from New York. And not only that, but from my apartment’s phone.” She sighed, her shoulders slumping in defeat as she leaned against the wall, right in front of Noah. “I know it because my dad knew it was me before he picked up. I could tell they were… scared about my well-being so I had to come up with a lie about my cell not working.” Her hands clasped in front of her. “Now, do you mind telling me why you didn’t want me to tell them about you contacting me?”
On their own volition, Noah’s eyes traveled up the soft skin exposed by her clothes. Legs and arms. The modest yet enticing swell of her breasts. Rachel was a very beautiful woman but probably not in that classic way of perfect features or model-esque manner; she was a little exotic, perfect for his taste.
He cleared his throat. “People I know.”
She rolled her eyes. “People you know? You opened a digital safe box like it was… so simple!” Noah leaned back on his hands and shrugged a shoulder. “Really?”
“It’s not that hard.” He smirked and it probably bothered her by the way she huffed, turning her head to look through the large window and avoid him. “You could do it with a little bit of practice.”
Snorting a laugh, her eyes found his again. “Who are you?”
“I told you, I’m-“
“You know what I mean, Noah,” Rachel cut him off with a no nonsense attitude. “Cut the BS.”
First of all, he had no need to work under an alias. He wasn’t really working. The biggest problem for him was that talking about himself meant he got involved, and not only that but he put her in danger for the future. He didn’t know where he could be working next year, or in what kind of mission. That was probably why he kept his relationships impersonal, why he tended to be so reserved.
It wasn’t about if Rachel could or not keep a secret. It was about trust.
Strangely, at first sight, he trusted her. You could blame it on the fact that so far, he knew about her much more than she knew about him. He had the upper hand.
“I’m CIA,” he spat in a soft voice.
A hand flew to cover her mouth but not to hide a gasp of surprise. She giggled at him.
“Yeah, right,” she drawled. “And I’m the Queen of England.”
“Where’s your crown, Your Majesty?”
Her laughter died down. She stared at him openly. “You’re serious.”
“Or trained to be. Either way, I’m telling you the truth.”
She shook her head softly. “No. My parents told me you worked for UNDP, that you were a translator, Jewish, very polite and smart… you cannot be a CIA agent!” she hissed the last few words.
“A job doesn’t make a person, Rachel. You should know that.” He stood up and closed the distance between them. He was still more than a few inches taller than her despite her high heels. “I just need to keep some things secret for everyone’s safety. Unfortunately,” he sighed, turning around to break the spell her chocolate eyes had on him. “You jeopardized this by pulling a stunt like disappearing. I couldn’t just leave your parents like that, fearing for their daughter’s well-being. And I thought it’d be easier to find you but… I didn’t expect you to be a PI and be working abroad.”
“So you’re one of the good guys,” Rachel muttered, gnawing on her lip.
“So they say.” He took a deep breath and smirked more roguishly than before. “Now, would you mind talking about your investigation to see how I can help and end this once and for all?”
A smile blossomed on Rachel’s pouty lips. God, he needed to stop checking her out or he’d lose his mind; why couldn’t she be ugly so his mind (and pants) could be at ease?
“Nothing better to do?”
He pulled a face, as if he didn’t care. “I’m on vacation. A little bored, as well. And it’s not like you could say no to the resources I’m offering you. Not every PI has access to this.”
“Okay, but will you tell me your codename?” she asked a little flirtatiously.
He laughed. “We’ll see.”
It turned out she was working on the Tumi knife’s case and had come to Peru following a lead that pointed her research towards an underground international group known for archaeological theft and smuggling. They had actually sold the Tumi to Erich Kordus a few months before and given the circumstances of the deal, she believed the thieves had stolen it back to sell it again for a better sum of money. They had a very extensive operation around the globe, especially focused on places like the Middle East, Central and South America and East Asia to some extent.
In Noah’s experience, Rachel’s hypothesis was quite possible. He knew that, in the black market, there were many buyers out for art, valuable archeological items and trinkets and whatnot. Sometimes rich people had trouble keeping their money in their pockets and not spend it in things they believed were special. Even so, he had never worked in that area. He was mainly focused on anti-terrorism and gathering of information (he disliked the connotation of the word spy).
As Rachel told him and showed him everything she had discovered in her investigation, Noah tried to remember more details so later he could call Mike and see what the CIA knew about this. He certainly didn’t want to cash in favors with FBI or the NSA, because talking to ex-lovers like Quinn Fabray or Santana Lopez would not be… pleasant as it had been many, many years ago.
“But I’m stuck,” Rachel finished with a little pout that should not have been as adorable as it was.
“Stuck?” he repeated with amusement. “I thought you were some sort of star PI, capable of solving any case, because you are an excellent shooter and oh, so smart.” His teasing only earned him a glare from her.
“If you are not going to help, then I am going to ask you to leave,” she said flatly.
Opening his mouth to make a sarcastic remark or embarrass her further about anything and everything he already knew about her, he felt his phone beeping.
Rachel was about to start a spiel about something (probably about how obnoxious and rude he was, something he was acutely aware of) but he lifted one finger to shut her up as he tapped his phone’s screen to answer. She was seething while he smiled at her reddened face.
It was Mike. He had already sent pretty much all the files of Rachel’s investigation that he had of course downloaded into his phone for further research of his own. His friend didn’t sound very pleased about his new involvement in Noah’s recreational case and threatened about fessing up and tell everything to Sylvester if he did not take things easy. Noah did not enjoyed when Mike suggested that if he wanted to solve more cases in his free time, he could always play Clue, which soon transformed into a discussion of his need to have another player to play with; it quickly morphed into Mike chastening him about his lone wolf image and his involvement with women with less than average wits.
Noah hated the giddy look in Rachel’s face when she saw his anger and discomfort while Mike berated him from the other side of the phone. She loved seeing him like that. Obviously.
But as Noah threatened to hang up, Mike made a surprising question, “Is she hot?”
Noah was rendered speechless for a second, his eyes falling upon Rachel who looked curiously at him. A slow smirk crept up his lips when he replied, “Hotel Oscar Tango.”
Mike laughed loudly. “Now I get why you’re so invested in this. I’ll send you what we found.”
After hanging up, Rachel looked at him with what he could only describe as naivety. “Is there where you’re staying?”
He opened his mouth to reply with a salacious comment that would tint her cheeks with deep pink, because even if she was a strong woman, there was something utterly innocent about her. She could carry a gun but he doubted she had ever shot something. And she was vegan, for crying out loud, she did not dare to hurt any creature.
“Sure,” he responded, not feeling like teaching her the NATO alphabet right then.
“Is it any good? I try to look for a place where they spoke English because my Spanish is not very good but-“
“May I use your laptop?” he interrupted, once again angering her, since he had kept his eyes glued to his phone, scanning the information Mike had sent him.
He typed quickly and, after a few clicks on the right places, he had already everything planned to get her out of this dead end she had found herself into. He had the resources to do pretty much everything he wanted with little money and many threats.
“We’re leaving for Machu Picchu tomorrow morning,” he stated calmly as he kept his eyes on the screen, typing and clicking away like he hadn’t just told her they were travelling to a place she had once only dreamt about. Obviously she didn’t strike him as a very outdoorsy girl and much less like she wanted to partake into the adventurous part of the job. “We leave at six forty.”
“Six forty?” Her voice was a whisper full of dread.
“Sí,” he replied with an almost childish grin on his face. He had always loved nature and expeditions. Unfortunately, because of his line of work, he had never had time to enjoy a trip and much less to be a tourist. This was his opportunity to have a decent holiday. Of course some of his friends might have disagreed to see it as a leisure trip considering he was still chasing after some baddies.
“What do I wear?”
“Hiking boots, a cap, lots of sunscreen. You know, the usual.” He shrugged one shoulder but the look she gave him made very clear she had no idea about what the usual was. More than that, he was pretty sure she had never owned hiking boots.
Looking very uncomfortable with the sudden turn of events, she just looked at him before meekly asking, “Could you, perhaps, make a list for the things I need? I wasn’t exactly planning on going on an expedition to Machu Picchu. Quite frankly, I do not see what the point is of going when there is nothing that indicates we can find clues there.”
“Little fishes,” Noah replied.
“Things here work like in pretty much anywhere in the world. If there is a place or event that attracts many people, some try to make a profit through illegal activities. Like, when you go to New York there are many resellers of Broadway tickets, right?” Her face lit up at his example and he had to chuckle at that. “Many of those are scams. Well, here they could sell fake or real and stolen historical items, which often lead us to the big fish.”
“We need to go and see what we find on the way there, especially in small villages.”
“Okay. Sure, I understand now.”
“Good, because you have to pay for the tickets.” He turned the laptop her way and her jaw fell open.
Who said chivalry was dead?