Title: "I'll Have to Say I Love You in a Song (Or Four Songs Puck Doesn't Sing for Quinn Fabray But One She Sings For Him)"
Rating: PG-13/Light R
Character/Pairing:Puck, assorted members of "Glee"
Length: Part V of V
Summary: It takes a glee club to create a man.
Disclaimer: Not mine, just borrowing them for a few paragraphs.
Author's Note: Final installment, folks. Thank you again to everyone supporting this fic. It was really tough at times, as writing from a male point of view always is for me, but I'm ultimately satisfied with how it turned out. Enjoy.
It ends in the choral room with Quinn Fabray smiling at him.
He stores his guitar there and a few days after he drives Rachel Berry home from school he stops by after football practice to pick it up and Quinn is sitting on one of the risers, sheet music spread out on the floor before her. She's singing something, a song he doesn't recognize, and she keeps starting and stopping, sighing heavily during each break.
She's wearing a dress, green to match her eyes, and it's one of those styles where it's tight across her boobs and hangs really loose the rest of the way down. He can't see much from the doorway, just lots of fabric covering her belly, but he thinks if he squints hard enough he can see the bump of his baby through the folds of her dress.
He mostly keeps his eyes on her face because she's always pretty but with her blonde down and turning gold in the light she's beautiful. It's hard to breathe either way, being so close to her, but it's easier to look at her face, easier than looking at her belly, hidden under a loose-fitting dress like she's hidden the truth through a thin veil of lies.
He doesn't know how to approach her, the day in the parking lot still fresh in his mind, because his moments alone with her are few and far between and the last thing he wants to do is scare her, or piss her off, or make her run the way she's run every time before.
He settles for clearing his throat, because it's just a sound rather than his voice and could be anyone in the club from Artie to Mike Chang, and gives him time to get to her before she can bolt.
She glances up, green eyes sharp, but they don't narrow into a glare. She mostly looks exhausted, like it takes too much energy to get angry at him anymore.
"Hey," he says when he realizes she's not going to run and she's not going to scream bloody murder, when he realizes she's going to sit on the riser and wait for him the way she never has before.
"Hey," she responds and he expects her to look away, pretend this isn't happening the way she pretends he's not the father of their baby, but she keeps looking at him and he's the one to break the stare because he sees too much (seven pounds, twelve ounces of soft weight in his arms) in those green eyes.
"What are you doing here?" he asks instead because it's late and she's alone and he's never seen her stay after practice.
She sighs again. "Mr. Schue asked me to sing a song for the Sectionals pep rally next week. They opened with it when they took Nationals in 1993. I keep trying, but I just can't get it right." She pauses and something catches in her voice when she speaks again. "I can't seem to get anything right these days."
He wants…he wants so many things. He wants to tell her he likes her because she does things wrong, that he likes her because he can see how imperfect she is when no one else can, that he likes how hard she works for what she wants when everyone believes it just falls into her lap.
He wants to tangle his fingers through her hair like he did that night and pull her mouth to his and kiss her so hard and with so much of what he feels (which is everything) that she'll forget whatever is holding her back.
He does none of those things, because he can't change that she doesn't want him or that he wasn't the one she wanted the night she chased a bad weigh-in with his mom's wine coolers.
He can't change the past but he can build his own future.
Instead, he picks up the sheet music and takes a look at the notes. He still doesn't recognize the song, but it's not too hard. "I can play for you," he offers. "Singing acapella is a bitch. It might be easier with music in the background."
Her eyes are still watery when she looks at him but he doesn't back down, even as his chest feels like it's filled with ice from how much he hates to see her cry. "Don't you have someplace to be?" she asks. "Rachel must be waiting for you."
He shakes his head, strums a few tentative notes. "Are you living under a rock, Fabray? We broke up last week."
She ducks her head and her hair swings in front of her face, but he can see the hint of a smile curving her lips, and the icy clutch around his heart eases a bit. "I stopped listening to gossip when it was all about me."
He doesn't have the right words to make her feel better but he can let her know that he cares, that he understands. "I'm here," he says and they're just two words but there's a thousand layers of meaning behind them. He's not walking away from this, he wants that to be clear, even if he has to start with playing a song. "Are you ready?"
She nods and clears her throat, hums a little under her breath as he picks out the opening notes.
"Oh, my life is changing everyday. In every possible way. And, oh, my dreams. It's never quite as it seems. Never quite as it seems ."
It's a good song for her and he sets the pace while she follows along, slowing down or catching up to move in unison with him. When they reach the end, they're in the same place, her voice even with the rhythm of his guitar.
There's a smile, a real smile, on her face as he strums the final chord and his hands still on the strings because it's been so long since he's seen her truly happy that he can't do anything but stop and take her in.
"What do you think?" he asks softly, afraid that if he speaks too loud it will burst the bubble of whatever's come over her and she'll run out of his life again. He's seen her walk away too many times. There's no more room in his heart for retreat.
"I think we make beautiful music together," she says and her cheeks turn bright pink, like she's said too much, but she doesn't correct herself. She just watches him, the ghost of that smile still on her lips, and it gives him the courage to open the can of worms he's kept sealed the past three months.
"I think we made a beautiful baby too."
The smile disappears from her face and her mouth trembles again, like it did that day at Glee when Finn didn't come through the way he did. Still, she doesn't look away. She mostly looks scared. "Puck…"
"There's one thing I've wanted my entire life," he says and his voice is sharp as it cuts her off but his tone is even because he needs her to know this is the most important thing in his life, even more important than her. "Please, Quinn. Don't make me into my dad."
"I can't," she whispers. "I can't do this. There's too much in my life already. I can't raise a baby too."
He feels like he's been punched in the gut because he's talking about being a part of his daughter's life and she's talking about giving her away. He's spent three months wanting nothing more than to hold her close and he suddenly wants to put as much distance between them as he can. He thinks she's saying something in the background but it's hard to hear over traitor roaring in his ears to the rapid beat of his heart.
He feels a bit like his chest will explode from all the feeling there, the love and the lust and the betrayal competing to control the fluttering of his lungs. He can't look at her (she's beautiful, especially when she cries) so he looks straight ahead because he's not letting her take this from him the way she's taken everything else.
"I want to keep it," Quinn continues. "I thought I didn't but now I do. Every day the baby gets bigger and it gets stronger. Pretty soon I'm going to be feeling it kick. I…I know I'm too young to do this but I want to. I already know I'm going to hell, because I had sex with you and I lied to Finn, but I can do something right. I can give this baby the life it deserves."
It takes a moment for everything to settle down so he can hear her clearly, for him to breathe like a normal person, for his hands to uncurl from the fists he's holding at his sides. It takes a moment longer to be able to look at her, to find the strength to look into those green eyes (the eyes his daughter wears in every single fantasy) and say no. "Maybe we can give her that life together."
Her eyes go wide. "How did you know?"
"Rachel told me. Finn probably told her." She grimaces but he doesn't let it bother him. For the first time in years, in probably forever, this isn't about Finn. "You didn't answer my question," he reminds her even though he didn't ask a question. He still wants a response. He still wants…he wants her to say yes.
"I – we can't do this," she corrects herself. "I know you have your pool business, but we live in Ohio. We're seventeen. We can't even vote."
He doesn't know how politics relate to having a baby, but he can fix the first part. "I got a job," he tells her and for the second time in as many minutes her eyes widen. "At Walmart, in the music section. It sucks hard and I have to wear those ugly ass shirts, but it pays decent. It could have benefits if I want them."
"Puck – " she says again but he cuts her off and keeps going.
"I have a car. I can drive you to appointments." He thinks about Finn, holding her against his chest and shielding her from the world. "I can get you through this."
"Finn will hate us," she says and it hurts to hear his best friend's name but the ache dulls when he realizes she hasn't said no.
He doesn't even have to close his eyes to feel the thud of Finn's fist connecting with his face but it doesn't scare him the way he thought it would. "A lot of people already hate us," he reminds her, memories of slushie facials washing over both of them.
"What if we screw her up?" she asks and this time it takes him a moment to answer because it's the question that's held him back all this time, the one thing making him second guess fighting for the only thing that's truly mattered to him.
"My dad walked out when I was six," he says quietly. "I've made a lot of mistakes, done a lot of things I shouldn't have done, but this isn't one of them. We were stupid, Quinn, but it wasn't wrong."
She has one hand resting on her belly and it pulls the fabric tight over her stomach so he can see the slight bump there. It makes it real, seeing his baby inside her, and the room gets hazy from the sudden rush of tears in his eyes. He looks away, because he's still Noah Puckerman and he's not about to cry like a girl (especially in front of this girl) and his fingers curl into fists again to keep from laying his hand over hers. He can't lose it right now, not when he's this close.
Her voice breaks through and she sounds as much a mess as he feels. "I can't do this alone," she whispers and he thinks it will end there but Quinn Fabray has always been full of surprises and he can't hide the way his breath hisses between his lips as her hand wraps around one clenched fist.
Her skin is soft and warm against his, like it was that night, and his fingers relax under her touch to twine with hers. She doesn't pull away and she kind of sighs and he finds the balls to reach up to brush her hair back from her face. "I'm not going anywhere."
She looks at him like she believes him, like she believes in him, and he can't keep from bending his head and brushing his mouth over hers. Her lips are soft, like they were that night, but she doesn't taste like wine coolers. She tastes like Quinn; she tastes like his future.
There's a noise by the door and they jump apart; he closes his eyes instinctively, waiting for Finn's fist to slam into the hard plane between them.
When he opens his eyes Quinn is smoothing her dress over their baby and Mr. Schue is watching them looking (more) confused than usual. "I came to lock up," he says. "I didn't expect to find you here."
Puck doesn't know which of them the statement is directed at, but he moves closer to Quinn.
"We were practicing that new number you gave me," she says and he nods, picks up his guitar. "With Puck's help, I think I really have it down."
Mr. Schue smiles, that stupid smile that means he has no idea what's really going on, and even claps his hands. "I'm so proud of how well you're working together. If you want, I'll run through it with you." He nods at Puck. "I'll take the piano if you'll take the guitar."
The last thing he wants to do is spend time with his teacher but doesn't have a choice. It's this song, this club, that broke down Quinn's walls. He can't exactly say no.
He takes a seat on the riser and Quinn sits beside him. He can't hold her hand but she's close enough that he can feel the heat of her through the flannel of his shirt. His fingers strum the first notes of the song before Mr. Schue comes in on the piano and Quinn's voice, stronger than he's ever heard it, breaks through the room.
"Oh, my life is changing everyday. In every possible way."
He didn't pay attention the first time (too focused on just being in the same room as Quinn) but he hears her loud and clear this time.
"Oh, my dreams. It's never quite as it seems. Never quite as it seems ."
Quinn smiles at him, eyes warm and bright, and he realizes this is it. This is what he's been fighting for. This is something he can never want to too much.
He can't see the future but he still knows what's ahead of him: Quinn getting so big she'll no longer fit into the contours of his chest and his wallet getting emptier but a little girl filling the spaces in between.
He sees his father that last day and he sees himself and he realizes the only thing they have in common are those long-lashed eyes.
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