A/N: Yeah, couldn't resist writing more. This was started, and completed actually, after seeing "Wheels" and before seeing "Ballads." During "Wheels," though Puck going after Quinn was fantastic, it was also fairly public so this takes that point on as well. I made some speculations about what "Ballads" may contain based on previews, but obviously I was way off.

Also, on my profile there's a link to the song that's at the end of the story. I recommend giving it a listen.

Disclaimer: I own nothing.

The Chase

It started with a commercial for Chase- the bank chain.

Puck didn't care what Rachel Berry had told him about wanting it too much or whatever the hell she was rambling on about. But one thing he couldn't help noticing after they broke up was that Rachel would still flirt with Finn- she was still trying to get him. Was the girl deaf? He told her they weren't breaking up, but there she was carrying on with trying to get Finn like he never said anything to her at all. He figured she's just crazy and wrote it off.

Then a few nights later he was sitting in his dad's old recliner, three a.m. because he couldn't close his eyes without a certain blonde twisting in his head, and a commercial came on. The slogan in the brief Chase bank commercial: Chase what matters.

Chase what matters.

The idea rolled around in his head, stuck there. It was simple, but not meaningless. She'd rejected him pretty harshly twice, but maybe he shouldn't be trying to move on from her. First of all, moving on hadn't been working in the slightest. Second of all, he couldn't help but think that Rachel was living the slogan, going after what she wanted, and maybe she didn't have it yet, but he could see the way his best friend looked at the girl, he knew she was making progress. Maybe, if he chased what matters, he'd at least be making progress too.

So he did it. Gave her eighteen dollars, reminded her that though it was small it wasn't something Finn was offering her, and when she shot him down again he didn't get angry and say something he'd regret later, he just tried again. And for a brief moment he was winning. She was fun and happy and for a fleeting moment that was broken by his best friend, she was looking at him that same way she did that night.

It ended and he still didn't have her, but he got the point of this, the chase, because he knew he had made progress. It felt like a step in the right direction, like he had a chance of making her his now.

So hell or high water, he decided he would prove that he's the better man, better father and maybe then he'd get her. And he did prove that. It took some less than legal means and way more honesty than he's comfortable with, but she told him they created a little girl, touched his chest and called him a good man (basically)- special and romantic- two things she could never call Finn, he knew. But then Finn came along and had surprisingly stepped up. And he got to watch from the sidelines as she didn't pick him again.

Only, this chasing her thing and how it resulted in her staring at him, actually looking regretful as she got wheeled away by the guy she picked, wasn't losing he realized. He stood there and watched her pick him again and it made him feel like his heart was getting ripped out (again), made him feel like hitting someone. But in all the times she hadn't picked him, she'd never looked like she wished she could before as she did now. It sucked to lose again, but he couldn't deny that it was different this time, and what was different was that it was still progress.

The problem became that he didn't know what to do now. She basically acknowledged that he's the better man, that he'd be the better father. So how does he get her to change everything and pick him?


Unfortunately he's not left much time to ponder this idea because all of a sudden people seem to know his business and have become under the mistaken impression that he wants to talk to them about it. Morons.

It starts with Santana who corners him after their "Proud Mary" performance. Quinn had been smiling ever since it ended and he couldn't force himself not to stare at her. That is until Santana grabs his arm with a vice like grip and hauls his ass out the back door to the auditorium before he's even registered what's going on.

"What the hell is wrong with you?" she demands. And for someone wearing pig-tails, suspenders, and that ridiculous yellow button up top, she still looks formidable.

"I think I was just standing around until you went all psycho," he responds accusingly, having no idea what she's really asking.

"What are you doing with Quinn, Puck? That's what I'm asking. What are you doing with her?" Santana clarifies.

He blanches, stomach sinking to his feet. "Nothing," he lies.

She rolls her eyes, shakes her head, "You can't lie to me. I'm not an idiot. I've seen you watching her. She gets mad at Finn and you smile. You dated Rachel to try and get to her. And two days ago you beat up Finn, your best friend, over her- don't deny it, I was in that hall and I heard what you were talking about."

"So you acknowledge that I won?" he breaks in, trying to distract her.

It doesn't surprise him when it doesn't work. She's probably the third most determined person he's ever met. She continues on without answering him, "She wants Finn. She's having his baby. Stop going after her, you're only going to get hurt."

That hits him pretty hard, hearing someone else say what he fears. He sighs, admits to the ground, quietly, "Too late."

He looks back up at her and sees her normal grimace soften. He knows she's not saying any of this because of the them that's existed a few times. They've never been even close to right for each other and she's usually been the first one to acknowledge that if he doesn't beat her to it. They just kept ending up together because they're of a similar social status and it's nice to be around someone you can relate to like that. But they both knew they could never be more than friends really, and here she's just doing exactly that- being his friend, looking out for him.

In that spirit, she offers, "Would it help you move on if I find you a girl? I'm sure I can find some girl in this school who really wants you."

"Nah," he declines, "I'm not trying to move on anymore."

She seems disappointed in him, but not all that surprised. "This isn't going to end well," she predicts knowingly.

"I know," he agrees.

She's not one to give up, but she knows when there's no point in fighting too. She leaves him, heads back inside to their glee-mates. He's glad for her restraint and for her confidence because if she doubted that she was right in the assumptions she made and if she questioned him, who knew what she's figure out from the lies he'd naturally respond with- maybe the truth.


He's not so lucky with the next person who decides to approach him about it.

Thanks to the conversation with Santana, he's one of the last ones to leave the auditorium. He changes out of the costume and back into his regular clothes before realizing that all of his books are in his locker and if he's going to stay academically eligible he needs to actually do some of his work tonight. He heads out through the auditorium and to the halls.

He hears someone marching quickly behind him and isn't that surprised when he finds that the determined stride belongs to Rachel Berry.

He is, however, surprised when the first thing she does when she catches up to him is hit him in his left gun really hard.

"What the hell?" he screams as he comes to a halt.

She hits him again and again as she rambles, "How could you not tell me? I sat there opening up to you about my feelings for Finn and how I knew about yours for Quinn and you just said nothing- except for your typically rude responses."

The girl can hit surprisingly hard and he hates to admit that he's been wincing away from it. While he'd never hit a girl (without a much better reason than he has at the moment at least), he grabs her tiny flying hands and demands, "Stop hitting me. I don't even know what in the world you're talking about."

"I'm talking about the fact that it's your baby," Rachel informs him evenly.

He lets go of her wrists, takes a step back stunned.

She continues accusing, "I saw you with her earlier in the hall. You tired to give her a lot of money- which looked a whole lot like the stack that you gave to Mr. Schue, but since it did end up going for its correct cause I will refrain from reprimanding you for attempted thievery at the moment. There's only one reason you'd want to give her money though- there's only one reason she needs money." Her face softens as she questions, "Why didn't you tell me the truth?"

He knows he's screwed. She's stubborn and there'll be no convincing her that she's wrong. He concedes, "No one knows." He adds threateningly, "No one can know."

"I'm not going to tell," she swears, but he'd feel better if she looked at least as confident as she usually does while she says it, but she doesn't. "But," she adds, "if I knew I wouldn't have gotten Finn a job so he could take responsibility for a baby that's not his. So she could pick him again when I don't think she wanted to." His eyebrows shoot up curiously at that and she rushes to explain excitedly, "I saw the way she looked at you as she left with Finn, she didn't want to pick him."

She says it all earnestly and like she doesn't have ulterior motives and he knows that she's usually all about herself, so it's nice that she's doing this for him, being nice to him- especially after all the times he threw a slushie in her face. She doesn't deserve him being a jerk right now so he resists the urge and instead forces himself to respond, "I hope you're right."

"I almost always am," she says confidently. She begins to ramble, "And now that I know the truth I can help you. I understand that in providing Quinn with money that Finn couldn't, you must be trying to prove that you're the better choice. You've proved you're a better provider- I think that's why she wanted you this time. But maybe now you should work on proving that you're smarter, or more capable with children. Do you know any children you can use to flaunt your child rearing abilities with in front of her? Or…maybe it'd be better if you just went for romance alone. Romance can always sweep a girl off her feet. Maybe we can stage an accident where you save her- facing a near-death situation usually brings about true emotions and honesty."

He starts walking to his locker again around the time she starts making suggestions. He has no idea what he's going to do to chase after her next, but he really doesn't feel like working on it with Rachel Berry either. He's got this sharp pain in his head already and she hasn't even been talking that long. He grabs his books and heads for the parking lot, her talking the entire time.

When they get outside she finally stops and asks, "What do you think?"

Honestly, he hasn't been listening since the whole near death thing. He responds simply, "No."

"No?" she questions, "To what?"

"All of it," he responds simply, "I don't know what I'm doing next and I don't want to talk about it and I don't want your help." She looks hurt and he thinks it's probably how she looked when he told her they weren't friends. It makes him feel guilty, which he hates, so he amends, "Look, I know you want me to get Quinn to pick me and soon because you want Finn. And you'll get him, just don't do anything crazy. But I need to do this on my own."

He can't believe it when she nods acceptingly and offers, "If you change your mind though-"

"Thanks," he breaks in genuinely. He knows her reasons for offering to help are at least partially selfish (if not more than partially), but it's nice all the same. He doesn't want to dwell on this nice moment though- makes him feel uneasy to be having one with her at all. He changes the topic quick by offering, "You need a ride home?"

"No," she declines, "my dads are coming. But thank you."

He nods and heads off for his vehicle before anything else can be said between them. Someone knows the truth and he thought it'd ruin his plans to get her if anyone ever did. Because if one person knew then they'd tell everyone else and she'd hate him for the way people treat her when they find out the truth (still a possibility that terrifies him constantly). But it wasn't like that. Surprisingly, the person that found out seemed to want to make sure that didn't happen just as much as he didn't want it to happen. And maybe it was out of a selfish reason that she did, but at least it was there.

He really hoped she didn't try to talk to him about it again though. Knowing Rachel Berry, he figured this was probably more of a far-fetched dream than Quinn eventually picking him.


He's right. Rachel Berry does try to corner him and suggest more ideas for him (despite what he told her about not wanting her involved) at least three times a day.

He's surprised though when she's not the only one sort of talking to him about it.

He heads to the auditorium during lunch the next day because he's lost his sunglasses and he suspects they're somewhere in there. When he gets there, he finds Arty on stage, guitar in hand and practicing something.

He intends to head back stage as discreetly as possible and not disturb the kid, but when he gets to the stage he stops playing.

"Hey," Arty greets.

"Hey," he returns. Since he already interrupted him, he figures he might as well ask, "You seen any sunglasses anywhere?"

Arty shakes his head no and says, "Sorry."

He waves it off and begins to head back stage, but he's stopped when Arty comments, "I heard you fought with Finn because you like me."

He freezes, turns around, and sees a teasing smile on the kid's face.

Arty continues, "You know I'm not like Kurt, right?"

"I know. I'm not either," he defends.

"I know," Arty responds, "which is why it's ridiculous that you could have fought over anything with Finn involving me. And why it's really weird that you'd declare something like that in public."

He stares at his feet. He remembers locking the kid in a port-o-potty and a bunch of other stuff he'd rather not. It's kind of like yesterday with Rachel, where guilt over the things he's done creeps over him, surprises him. He never cared when he was doing it, but now that he's gotten to know the people he was doing things to he feels like an ass. And why should Quinn pick a guy who's an ass? She said it herself, she thinks he's a good man. And he needs to keep living up to that.

He can't tell the kid the truth about that moment, can't offer him that. Instead, he offers him a different truth. He responds, "I didn't care about the bake sale so much because of you, tried hard to make it work because I was going to steal the money."

Arty seems surprised by his response, by his honesty, but he's not so stunned that he can't follow along. He questions, "For what?"

"My family," he says simply, truthfully. Kid doesn't need to know what family he meant, can assume he just means his mom and sister. He apologizes shortly for what he almost did to him, "Sorry."

Arty just shrugs and offers, "You didn't steal it though."

"I couldn't," he says honestly. He couldn't do it because Quinn didn't think he was that guy, didn't want him to be that guy. And, for her, he's the guy who feels bad that he ever considered hurting someone who he'd already hurt plenty. It's only semi-honest, but something that needs to be said at some point nonetheless, "I couldn't do that to you, not after all the other things I've already done."

It's not a full out apology for the guy he was, but it feels like it anyway.

And Arty's a nice enough person, never one to push anyone away, that he accepts it easily, "Thanks." Arty's also a nice enough person that he feels bad that Puck's in a situation where he's desperate enough to steal for his family. Things must be bad. He questions, trying to help, "Can you fix a car?"

He doesn't know where this is going or what suddenly brought it up, but answers, "I'm don't know my way around everything, but I'm the only reason mine's running."

"That might be good enough," Arty speculates. He explains, "Kurt's dad owns a garage. You know, Jim's Auto on Maple street? And Kurt's been talking about how his dad's been short handed so he's had to help out. Maybe he's looking to hire?"

"Thanks, I'll look into it," he responds, genuinely grateful.

"No problem," Arty responds with a smile as he begins to strum the guitar in his hands again, continuing the song he had been playing.

He heads back stage in search of his sunglasses. As he looks, he thinks about what honesty gets him. He knew it got him somewhere good with Quinn, but he'd been lying so much of his life he didn't know it worked the same way with other people too. He told Arty something true, and the kid helped him out. Maybe he'd have to try this honesty thing more often.


The next time he touches on the subject of the truth and Quinn, it's all his doing.

After he heads out of the auditorium, sunglasses found, he seeks out Kurt. But he honestly has no idea where the guy eats lunch. He gives up and decides it may be easier after school, which it is. He finds him in the parking lot on the way to his really nice ride.

"Hey," he yells to get the kid's attention because it would feel weird calling him by his real name and probably wouldn't get him what he wants if he calls him a name he usually would.

He feels bad when the kid flinches. But he gathers his usual confidence and turns around to face him with it.

"I need to talk to you," he informs the boy gruffly.

Kurt quirks an eyebrow, "Are you finally going to let me give you the name of my dry cleaner so you stop coming to school in garments with seemingly permanent stains?"

"What? No," he denies, forehead crinkling in confusion because he has no idea what the boy is talking about. It sounds like he's saying he's said this to him before, not that he remembers though- which may or may not have something to do with always tuning the kid out. He doesn't want to waste any time talking to the boy though so he gets right to the point, "I heard your dad owns a garage and may be looking to hire someone. I'm good with cars."

"And why should my dad hire you?" he returns, heavy with implication.

"My family really needs the money," he answers honestly with the best he can offer.

He sees the kid's face soften just a bit at that. But he's treated Kurt pretty bad and he knows he probably can't just let that go- he wouldn't be able to. He informs him, "My dad would never hire anyone who's treated me even slightly poorly."

His face falls. He can't help it. He thought he had a chance, got his hopes up, but the person he was is going to keep him down apparently.

"But," Kurt adds, "I suppose he doesn't have to know about that." He glances up at the kid who continues with a condition, "I know you've stopped throwing me in dumpsters and generally physically harassing me as well, which I appreciate. And I can get you the job, if you agree to refrain from all name-calling and other slanders as well."

He's not exactly sure what "other slanders" means, but he agrees quickly anyway. And before he knows it being honest has him meeting Kurt's dad at his garage and getting a job because Kurt tells his dad that he's good with cars, really needs money, and is one of his teammates, glee-mates, and a friend. Kurt's dad shakes his hand not knowing that he once used it to throw his son in a dumpster on a daily basis and it makes him feel guilty to accept help from people that he doesn't deserve it from. But he'll deal with the guilt for the sake of his family (for her) and he'll learn to become a guy who deserves their help. He swears it.


While honesty had served him well twice now, the next time he' s confronted with it he knows it won't be the same.

It's Mr. Schue who wants to talk to him this time. He corners him on Monday. Usually he likes Mondays because the weekends are a long stretch where he doesn't get to see her. He breathes a little easier on Mondays, as soon as he sees her strolling down the halls.

Today, however, Mr. Schue approaches him on his way in and asks him into his classroom to talk. This means that he probably won't come across her before first period and will have to spend the first hour of school without seeing her. He becomes disgruntled at the mere thought of it.

Once they reach Mr. Schue's classroom he invites him to take a seat as Mr. Schue sets down his bag and takes a seat at his desk.

"How are things with you and Finn?" he questions, jumping right in.

"Cool," he responds shortly.

Mr. Schue looks at him doubtfully and presses, "Best friends don't usually come to blows over nothing. Or a bake sale. And you guys got along during practice and the performance and I tried to stay out of it, but at the end of the day Friday you were both still walking the halls alone. What's going on?"

"Nothing," he maintains.

Mr. Schue sighs and offers, "I know that one of the few things to come between best friends is a girl. Sometimes guys get jealous and fight. Sometimes a guy will think something is going on between his girlfriend and another guy and act on that irrational belief. Is it something like that going on? Did Finn think you were hitting on Quinn or something?"

"No," he denies evenly, praying that he doesn't look as worried as he feels cause Mr. Schue is getting close to the truth here.

Mr. Schue sighs again and concedes, "Okay. I'll leave it to you to fix then. But if you want to talk about it or you want help, you know where to find me."

He says thanks and heads for the door as Mr. Schue reminds him of their Tuesday practice. He hopes Finn gets over their fight. He doesn't want to give Mr. Schue a reason to stay involved. But then again, he's not apologizing, cause he's not sorry.

He doesn't catch a glimpse of Quinn until after second period. It's not the best day.


The week that follows isn't ideal either. First of all he gets paired to sing a ballad with Mercedes, which doesn't suck (at least he's not singing a ballad to Kurt like Finn), but it splits up the glee club and leaves him seeing Quinn even less than usual. Barely seeing her, never even getting to spend a single second alone with her, especially after everything between them last week, it makes this week feel unbearable. And it makes him doubt all the progress he thought he made in his chase.

Eventually, after a really rough hour and a half where he keeps screwing up his song with Mercedes as they practice and she demands to know what's wrong with him, he explodes. He accidentally admits that Finn's not the father. It's been four days of school where he barely sees her, he can't come up with any other plans for getting her, and he's just miserable. Now he knows he'll probably be more miserable because Mercedes may have been delusional enough to momentarily think Kurt wasn't gay, but she's not stupid and she figures out pretty quickly that the only way he can truly be sure Finn's not the daddy is if he is. She promises to keep her big mouth shut (for the sake of glee- if the truth came out Finn or him could be forced to quit due to the awkwardness- it's the best persuasion he can come up with on his toes), but he doubts she'll manage for long if at all.

By the next morning though he knows he needs to figure out his next effort to chase after Quinn and quick before the truth comes out and everything is ruined. But he honestly has no ideas. He thinks maybe he should talk to her, maybe it will give him an idea. After all, he should at least tell her about his job.

He parks his Bronco next to Kurt's Suburban in the student parking lot, creating a space where they could talk without being seen. He waits for her to walk past his car and as soon as he catches a glimpse of her he calls, "Hey." He nods his head in a gesture for her to join him in the little hiding place he's created and she does so with a glance around to make sure no one is watching.

"I got a job," he tells her, getting right to the point. "Legal this time," he adds, "I'm working at Kurt's dad's garage. Pay's going to be pretty good. I don't get it for another week, but it's yours when I do."

"I can't," she begins.

"I'm sure I'm earning more than Finn. And you'll need the money anyway," he interrupts.

"Finn's not earning anything anymore," she admits, "his boss saw him get out of the driver seat of his car and get in the wheel chair yesterday as he went in for his shift."

"See, then you really need it now," Puck points out.

"No, I can't," she repeats, "You know I can't take money from you. Even if I did, how would I explain that?"

"I don't care," he interrupts again, "tell Finn you wiped out your savings or a relative died and left you money or something. Because I'm giving you every cent I can no matter what. I told you, I'm taking care of her. And of you."

They're standing close, forced to by the narrow amount of space between his car and Kurt's. She's not trying to get as far away from him in the small space as possible, and he never would have. But her lack of physically distancing herself from him isn't the only difference. He can see it in her eyes again. The only reason she's denying him the right to take care of her and his kid is because she's stuck. She already picked Finn. Everyone already thinks he's the father. And she can't take money from him without feeling even guiltier.

He doesn't want her to feel guilty. Sure, for a while he was pretty angry at her for not picking him. But he doesn't want to walk away from this, no matter what. His greatest fear is that there is some part of him that is like his dad and he's determined to make sure that that's not true. If that means becoming a family man at seventeen, so be it. If that means what he's about to say to her, it's worth it. He assures, "You can try and stay with Finn and pass off my baby as his as long as you want, I'm not going to stop being there for her in any way possible. I'm not going anywhere no matter what you do." Recognizing that she may think his assistance only comes if she picks him, he adds quieter, "Or what you don't do."

Her eyes look like they're holding back tears and he feels bad for making her feel like crying.

She shakes her head, looks to the asphalt and whispers, "You say that now, but what about four or five months from now and I'm still with him and-"

"I don't care," he breaks in, stepping forward and taking her hand (his hands remember hers, can't seem to help but reach out to them), "I'm not going anywhere. Ever."

She bites her lower lip in that way that drives him crazy. Although, he's pretty much always staring at her lips, wondering how they taste. She glances up at him meets his eyes. And they're back in the home economics room and back at that night- something shifting between them, pulling them in.

It's not Finn that breaks this latest spell, it's the bell. It rings loud and abrasively and brings them back to reality- where she's not his to be here with.

"I should go," she says, sounding like she needs to hear it to remind herself.

She tugs her hand that's in his slightly and he releases it with an apology, "Sorry." (Because she's not his to touch either.)

She bites her lower lip again, like she's trying not to say something, and simply nods her head before quickly leaving their little area and heading to class.


Talking to Quinn didn't bring him the sudden inspiration he was hoping for.

(And hell if it doesn't kill him a little bit more each time he has to watch her walk away.)

He sits in his first period class and ignores what he's supposed to be doing, instead trying to thing of what he can do for Quinn. He knows that they were on the verge of something in the parking lot. He could feel it. She was ready to believe that he meant it when he said he'd be there no matter what. But maybe that could still use some proving. Plus, maybe he should prove the other things he said to her too, like that he has ambition. Putting those things together, and the fact that people have started finding out the truth so he needs to do something big to get her for good soon, he realizes he should do one of those grand gesture things girls on TV are always yakking about.

But how the hell do you make a grand gesture?

By the end of the period he had zero ideas. Should he buy her a crib or something like that for the baby? Because if he bought her something big like that she wouldn't be able to hide it and her parents didn't know the truth so that didn't seem like the best idea. He remembers watching Knocked Up and that guy making a nursery area at his place. He supposes he can do the same, but if she's not going to let him ever be acknowledged as his daughter's father then he'd really rather not tell his mom (she has a big mouth anyway).

He's completely stuck until he remembers what else he told her. He wasn't lying when he said he's all about being a team player. He's been on teams his entire life. And he may think school is for suckers, but whenever a teacher plays a game in a class it doesn't matter what the topic is, who he's paired with, or how little he actually cares about his grades- he's in it to win it. And this, with her, is the first time where losing really isn't an option. His chase after his daughter, after her, has to be successful. They're his family and he's not letting them go. And maybe the key to winning here is to be a team player again.

He thinks about who he has on his side though and becomes wary. There are two people that know the truth: Rachel and Mercedes. Rachel would help him for her own selfish motives (which given how into Finn she is, he can't blame her), but time spent with the possibility of her talking is never anything he's looking forward to. He's not sure if Mercedes would help at all considering she has no reason to like him or Quinn and help either of them out. He supposes he could always give it a 'to save glee club' spin in the same fashion that he got her to keep her mouth shut about his secret. But two more people isn't really a team.

Santana and Arty both know pieces of truth. The plus about letting Santana in on the truth and the team he's organizing is that she knows Quinn pretty well. The down side is that he's not sure she'd want to help if she found out one of her closest friends and him have been lying to her. Arty he doesn't mind telling. The kid seems the most rational out of the bunch and a reasonable person who would easily keep the secret would definitely be a positive addition to the team.

He'd be taking a huge gamble in getting the help of others. But he want this, wants both hers. And they're worth the chance.

He doesn't waste time. He tracks them all down between classes and says he needs to talk to them about something private, something to do with the things they know about him, in the choral room after school.

He heads to the choral room after school pretty quickly and is surprised to find that both Santana and Rachel have beaten him. They're sitting on opposite sides of the room from each other, completely ignoring the presence of the other, which isn't the best start. Arty rolls in next and is quickly followed by Mercedes and Kurt.

"I just told you to come," he reminds Mercedes.

She shrugs and responds, "I lied yesterday. I told Kurt immediately. So I figured if you had something to say about it and he knows too, he should come."

He looks to Kurt, who's looking at him in a way that makes him very uneasy.

Kurt says with a smirk, "And I'm looking at you in whole new light."

He feels slightly violated by the way Kurt's looking at him, but there are more important things to deal with.

"Alright," he begins.

"Does everyone here know? Cause you told me no one did," Mercedes interrupts.

"You told me no one does," Rachel interjects.

"Knows what?" Arty questions.

"Oh, can I tell?" Kurt asks, eyes lighting up.

"No," Puck retorts angrily. God, these people were already giving him a headache. Maybe proving that part he said to her about being a team player wasn't his best idea after all. But if he could get them all on their side now she'd probably appreciate it and they were all here now and he'd always been a jump-right-into-the-deep-end kind of guy so he announces, "Finn's not the father of Quinn's baby. I am."

There's a bit of giggling from Kurt- the idea of juicy gossip excites him so- but other than that, the room falls silent.

Santana's the first to react, given she's one of the two who the news is news to. She demands, "Did you cheat on me with her the last time we were together?"

"No," he responds honestly. And given that he just said something really shocking about her closest friend, he's kind of surprised that that's Santana's first reaction.

"And," Rachel prompts.

He has no idea what she's trying to get him to say as she smiles at him all encouragingly. "And what?" he questions confused.

She rolls her eyes exasperatedly. She couldn't believe he'd failed to mention one of the most important things. She declares, "And you're in love with her."

"Whoa," he says, getting nervous at her words, "no I'm not."

"Yes you are," Rachel insists.

"No I'm not," he retorts and it starts to feel childish. The L-Word makes him feel kind of queasy. He amends, "I just want her and my daughter to be my family." He thinks about it and adds, mumbling out loud, "And you know, live in the same house. Be around her for a long time. Be with her now."

He regrets his momentarily lapse in thinking about the words that he lets leave his mouth immediately because Kurt and Mercedes coo and start singing Puck-and-Quinn-sitting-in-a-tree. And so on, until he threatens, "You know I'll hit any one of you."

Not a single one of them look fearful at his threat, but they do all give him their attention and stay silent.

"Look," he begins, "I asked you all here today because I'm chasing after her. I've been chasing after her and I think I've made progress, but I don't know what to do next. But with more and more people figuring out the truth….I just need to get her to pick me soon, before everything has the chance to get even more messed up."

Finally, Santana starts thinking of her friend just like he thought she would. Unfortunately she asks something that he would have preferred not to have to tell other people. Santana asks, "Are you sure the baby's not Finn's? Because if she slept with you both around the same time then it could be either of yours."

He shuffles his feet, stuffs his hands in his pockets, and explains to the linoleum beneath his feet, "She didn't. She never slept with Finn. Just me. Once."

Apparently this was something that Rachel hadn't guessed or expected because it prompts her to question, "But why would she sleep with you instead of Finn?" Seeing slight glares from her glee mates she adds hastily, "No offense."

He chuckles cause hell if he knew why she picked him. He knows what he felt with her that day and how what he felt for her that day hasn't gone away since, probably only gotten stronger. But he doesn't know why she slept with him. Normally he'd probably pretend it's because he's a stud. And he's cocky, but he's not that cocky and he knows that that wasn't it for her. So he answers Rachel, "I have no idea."

"Oh," Santana says out loud. She has that same glint of realization in her eyes as when she'd think of a really good insult. She says to him referring to their previous conversation (she's not so keen on these glee kids yet, especially Berry, so she doesn't feel like sharing tons), "I was wrong. I don't think this will end badly for you."

"Hope you're right," he says softly and looking away to the ground again. He hates this whole honestly with people thing though, makes him feel weird. So he pushes past it and tries to distract himself from the honesty with the reason he gathered them in the first place, "So I was kind of hoping some of you may be willing to help. I have no ideas. And I really need to make like one of those grand gesture things."

"I gave you ideas already Noah," Rachel reminds.

He waves her off and the others don't listen anyway. Mercedes breaks in right after her saying, "You should buy her a ring. She's having your baby, she deserves something sparkly."

"But what does a ring prove?" Arty questions, catching on to what his aim was better than anyone.

"It's a ring. It proves commitment. And that he has good taste. Can't stay with a guy who can't pick out jewelry," Mercedes argues.

He's surprised by how fast they've gotten into this. He expected shock at the fact that he was asking for their help, then probably some bargaining if they didn't just walk out all together.

"It needs to prove that he love her. And while pretty, jewelry isn't the best way to express one's feelings," Rachel retorts.

"I don't love her," Puck interjects, but no one listens.

Rachel and Mercedes begin a debate over the meaning of jewelry for a good three minutes before Arty dares to speak over them. He asks Puck, "What exactly were you looking for this grand gesture to say?"

He recalls his conversation with her earlier and says without doubt, "I'm going to be there. Always. I'm not going anywhere, I'm not leaving. Doesn't matter what happens between us, I'm all in. Forever."

"Sounds good to me," Mercedes comments.

He pulls a chair around, sits on it backwards as he explains, "I've already tried words. And they worked sort of, but I need something bigger now."

"You should sing to her!" Rachel declares, inspiration striking her that they're in the choral room.

"Yes!" Mercedes and Kurt agree together.

Santana shakes her head and speaks up, "As much as I hate to say it," (and they all know it's because it's Rachel's idea- who she really can't stand), "that'd probably work for you."

"I'm not…serenading her," Puck says with distaste.

"I wouldn't be crazy about the idea either," Arty agrees, but adds, "But I like to think that if there was a girl I really wanted, I'd be willing to make a fool of myself for her and I'd have the balls to follow through on it."

"I've got the balls to do it," Puck assures. He really doesn't feel that comfortable with it, but then, actually considering it, he sees one of the flaws in the idea. He challenges, "But if I did that, anyone who saw could probably figure out the truth and all of you is already way too many people knowing."

Rachel waves his point off dismissively, "Oh we can figure out a way around that. No problem."

"The problem is what song to sing," Kurt interjects, talking like Puck's definitely going with this idea despite the fact that he's made no such declaration.

"Does everyone have their mP3 players with them?" Rachel questions, taking charge. Most of the room shakes their head so she orders, "Okay then we'll all go get them and meet back here in five minutes."

They're all out the door before he can stop any of them. He still never agreed to this. And he doesn't think that Quinn would be too keen on him doing something public. Rachel mentioned that they could get around that though. Plus, in talking about this with people, he's realized that he doesn't have any problems declaring that he wants her to other people. He thought he would. It's not like it's anyone else's business. But, surprisingly, he doesn't have a problem declaring that he wants her- doesn't seem to matter who it's too.

An hour into deciding a song, Puck's not so sure he should have begrudgingly agreed to this cause it feels like they're beating a dead horse.

"One Day You'll Be Mine, by Usher," Mercedes suggests.

"No," he quickly turns down. He's not an Usher type of guy.

Mercedes continues scrolling through her songs on her mP3 angrily, "First you say no Mariah, now no Usher."

"Honey I agreed that he should not sing Mariah," Kurt reminds.

"Wild Horses," Santana offers, surprisingly not only sitting on the floor with the rest of the glee kids in the loose circle they've formed, but actually next to Rachel and not seeming to care at this point.

"No," he shoots down, "too sappy."

"How about 'Shiver,' Coldplay? After all, Chris Martin's voice is hot," Kurt proposes.

They've been doing this for just over an hour now and shockingly Puck's gotten over finding Kurt's commentary on men uncomfortable. Instead, despite not being a real Coldplay fan himself, he considers it. Most chicks are Coldplay fans, right?

"No," Rachel vetoes for him, "he doesn't have the range for that. He wouldn't come off sounding like Chris Martin at all."

He's been in glee club for a while so he's used to Rachel speaking very bluntly about his abilities. Still, if he really wanted to do it (which it's Coldplay so he doesn't), he thinks he could.

"I'd say The Eagles' 'Best Of My Love' or The Smiths' 'Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want' but I don't think those have the message you're really looking for either, right?" Arty checks.

"Nope," he answers honestly. He does appreciate that at least the other straight guy here is making slightly more manly suggestions. If he's going through with this he at least doesn't want to look like a wuss.

"Oh, 'My Eyes Adored You,' from the Tony award winning musical Jersey Boys," Rachel suggests naively hopefully.

"No," they all reject in a collective groan. It didn't seem to matter how many times he turned down something from Broadway, she kept suggesting show tunes (in addition to a lot of other sappy songs he wasn't going to sing).

Trying to get through to her and knowing the song Kurt explains, "The lyrics wouldn't fit for that one at all. First of all, he's very obviously laid a hand on her."

"Plus, they're not childhood friends," Santana interjects as she scrolls through her own mP3. Sensing the eyes on her she looks up and realizes she just admitted to knowing something about a show tune. She defends, "My parents dragged me to that show last year when we were visiting family in Chicago and it was playing."

They don't bother questioning her even if it seems like an awfully convenient excuse.

Mercedes questions, "How do you feel about Barry White?"

He shrugs and answers honestly, "I'm only very vaguely familiar with his stuff."

Since it wasn't shot down, Mercedes continues, "How about 'You're the First, the Last, My Everything'?"

He sighs. This is about the two hundredth song suggestion to be made that makes him feel like they'll never find one- especially since they keep suggesting things that clearly don't work for him at all. He explains, "Well she's not my first. She's not my last. And I really wouldn't declare everything yet either."

"Noah," Rachel chides, "I don't believe that's the intent of the song."

"It's Barry White, I'm pretty sure he got the intent right," Kurt argues.

Arty, who had been silent during this latest debate as he had his headphones on listening to something, interrupted, "I think I found it." Everyone stops, attention immediately going to him. Arty elaborates, "It may be a bit more…sappy that you're looking for. But I think it has the right message and it's subtle enough that no one else who hears it would necessarily catch on, but still there enough that you'd be kind of hitting her over the head with it."

Arty plays the song and they all listen to it. It's not something he would have picked for himself, never even heard of the guy who's song it is, but then again he never would have come up with the idea to sing as his grand gesture either. But the kid is right, it fits. And as everyone else declares that yes, this is the song he should do, he surprises them all when he agrees.

Even though they've been here almost two hours now (thank God they don't have a game tonight), Rachel immediately insists that he starts practicing the song- and then kind of forces him into it (like he said, the girl's strong). Santana tells him to play the guitar for it, which is quickly backed up by Rachel, Mercedes, and Kurt as they inform him that it's hot if he plays. Rachel then hands over the duty of making sure he can hit all the notes and memorization of lyrics over to Kurt as she gets herself and everyone else to work on a plausible way to make this happen.

By the end of the next hour, Puck decides that Rachel is scary smart, Arty is still the voice of reason, and Santana is a better friend than he thought for putting up with all of this for him and Quinn.

They've managed to work out a plan in the last hour as well. Puck's not so sure it'll work, but everyone else seems confident in it, and he is a team player, so he goes with it. They decide that if Puck has others performing with him, it won't necessarily look like he's performing for Quinn. And the song does lend itself to male accompaniment, so they plan to get Mr. Schue to get the guys of glee involved. They also decide it would be best if Finn took the drums for the song, because then he would be set up behind Puck and therefore not notice that Puck's signing to his girlfriend.

In order to get Mr. Schue to go along with all this, they work out a staged conversation. Arty suggested that they just tell Mr. Schue the truth because it is his glee club that could get dismantled by all this at some point (though everyone there assures him that they want to try and make everyone stay by doing whatever they can). But then they realize how many things Mr. Schue has on his plate right now (pregnant crazy wife, in love with an engaged woman, in love with his best friend's/ closest co-worker's fiancé, Coach Sylvester trying to take down glee club) and decide not to give him anything to worry about until they have to. Santana insists that conversations like the one they therefore need to have with Mr. Schue be rehearsed (Coach Sylvester taught her well) and the two who volunteered to be the persuaders agree. (Rachel volunteered that she's the most persuasive, but given her recent obsession with Mr. Schue, no one thinks it's the best idea that she talk to him.)

"Hey Mr. Schue," Mercedes practices with a giggle.

"Hey Mercedes, Kurt," Arty responds in his best Mr. Schue voice.

"We were in the choral room today and we heard Puck rehearsing a song. You know we're not really his biggest fans, but it was good and we thought maybe you could encourage some of the other guys to help him out with it," Mercedes explains.

Kurt picks it up immediately, so they can't give the real Mr. Schue time to respond, "Yeah and we've noticed how things have been kind of icy between Puck and Finn. They've been like that at football practices too. And we thought that having all the guys work on this with him might be a way to get them talking again without seeming like that's the point of it all."

Arty gives the response they're hoping to get from Mr. Schue, "Sure, that's a great idea guys."

With everything in place, everything planned, they all prepare to finally leave school for the weekend. Rachel insists that Puck meet with her to practice over the weekend, but thankfully Arty saves him offering to play the bass on the song and rehearse with him over the weekend instead of Rachel. He takes the offer gratefully.


After lunch on Monday, he finds out from Kurt and Mercedes that things went well, though not exactly as they expected. Mr. Schue told them that he'd ask Puck if he wants the other guys in on whatever he's been working on, and wants to hear it first. It's not a complication, but he hopes that Mr. Schue talks to him about it soon and that the announcement is made at tomorrow's glee practice as he was hoping so that he could perform it and have Quinn by the end of the week (he still hates the weekends, and how he never gets to see her).

Luckily Mr. Schue finds him by the end of the day and everything is set in motion. The next day at glee practice, Mr. Schue tells all the guys that he heard something Puck had been working on and it would be a great song for all of the guys to practice with so he'd like to see them work together on it.

Already in on it, Arty and Kurt are quick to agree. And even though they have no idea what the real purpose is, Mike and Matt are just as fast to say that they're in. Finn hesitates, until he notices everyone noticing him hesitating, at which point he acts like he just spaced out (could have actually been) and agrees.

Later, while all the guys just got through their second practice run through of the song and Puck's discussing making some changes to it with Mike and Matt and Kurt, he overhears Arty talking to Finn. Arty says something to Finn about how Finn always gets the lead here in glee and at football, but Puck's got talent too. Maybe it'd be good for their friendship if Finn recognized that, maybe that's why things got bad between them in the first place.

(This is the point where he starts to think that Rachel's not the only one that's scary smart. Because all that used to be true. He used to be pretty jealous of Finn over everything he had. The thing was, despite the fact that he still got more attention in glee and football, the only thing he really wanted that Finn had anymore was Quinn.)

Working with Finn is more pleasant from then on. What Arty said to him, must have made sense to Finn because he's suddenly more than okay taking a back seat on this. And he's talking to him in that same nice-guy tone he usually has. It's like they're back to being friends again. (He feels horrible that he knows it's probably one of the last times they will be.)


They perform the following Friday.

As he stands on stage, guitar in hand, and waits for everyone else to get there, he's sure he's never been more nervous in his life. He's seventeen and ten minutes from now, he could have an honest to God family. It scares the hell out of him. Makes his fingers tremble as they go to practice the first chords of the song.

He sees her walk in and take a seat a few rows back, center and he remembers that he could have a family ten minutes from now. And he smiles. He glances down at his guitar in his hands to hide it, but he smiles. He's remembered how she's worth it, both of the girls that could be his (and they'd be worth the sappy songs he shot down too).

The guys take the stage with encouraging words from Mr. Schue.

He takes his place in the center. Arty's just a few feet to his left and Finn just behind him at the drum kit. Mike, Matt, and Kurt are all set up with mics quite a ways to his right.

They play Greg Laswell's "I'd Be Lying."

Just Puck sings:

Won't you let me give you a hand

I have an extra I'm not using

Won't you let me lighten your load

I mean after all your legs are shaking

All the boys join in singing, Puck's vocals still leading.

And I can understand

All I need is your hand

Oh won't you take the fall

It is me after all

Won't you let me match your stride

I can slow down if you want to

We can handle it side by side

What do you say girl don't you want to

And I can understand

All I need is your hand

Oh won't you take the fall

It is me after all

I'd be lying

If I ran away

I'd be lying

If I ran another way

Just Puck sings:

And so I'll stay

But won't you let me be your man (Puck can't help smirking at the lyric, at her)

I'm strong enough you know that I can

Be the one to ease your mind

Ease your mind

And I can understand

All I need is your hand

Oh won't you take the fall

It is me after all

Just Puck takes the lead on the chorus this time, the other guys doing the "la, la, la's."

I'd be lying

If I ran another way

I'd be lying

If I ran another way

And so I'll stay

Mike, Matt ,Finn, and Kurt take the humming in the background as Arty harmonizes with Puck's leading vocal.

Won't you let me give you a hand

I have an extra I'm not using

Won't you let me lighten your load

I mean after all your legs are shaking

They all join in harmonizing.

And I can understand

All I need is your hand

Oh won't you take the fall

It is me after all

And I can understand

All I need is your hand

Oh won't you take the fall

It is me after all

Up until now Puck had been careful about staring at Quinn too much while he sang, but that caution flies out the window for the next lyrics. He takes all six repetitions of the couplet by himself, Arty sings the last repetition of the chorus (the I'd be lying bit), and the other guys take on background la la la's again.

There's not much that you can do

To get me to run away from you (x6)

His eyes don't leave hers as he repeats the lines over and over again, six times. He wants her to have no doubt that he's not running, now or ever.

I'd be lying

If I ran away

I'd be lying

If I ran another away

Technically the song ends here and everyone does indeed stop playing. But he made a change to the song, he added a repetition of the lines again. Quiet and a cappella he sings, "There's not much that you can do to get me to run away from you."

Even though everyone's clapping and some of the girl's are cheering and Mr. Schue is commending them on a job very well done, his eyes still haven't left hers.

She hasn't moved a single muscle. She doesn't even look like she's breathing from where he's standing. But then, suddenly, she's up and out of her seat and out of the auditorium faster than he can blink.

Mr. Schue, who had been on the opposite side of the aisle, comes over to Santana and asks her something- presumably if Quinn's okay because Puck can hear Santana lie from all the way on stage that it's just a bout of nausea.

At this Mr. Schue announces that it seems like a good time for a break and gives them ten minutes.

But even with most of the guys still on stage (Kurt quickly returned to his self-declared correct group, the girls) and over half of the girls watching on, he knows that if he rushes off stage now and runs out the same door Quinn did, everyone who doesn't know has the opportunity to catch on. One of those people being the one person they can't let know, not now.

Rachel must have noticed his predicament (like he said, scary smart) because she makes eye contact, mouths him, "On three," and about three seconds later starts screaming and jumping up onto her seat. He see's her elbow Mercedes and Mercedes start to do the same, one of them eventually calling out, "Rat."

He recognizes the distraction they're providing him with and doesn't hesitate to take it. He hops off the stage and flees down the aisle as fast as his feet will take him. Before he's out the door, he hears Brittany join in the screaming, which is odd since he's pretty positive they were making up the existence of a rat, but he assumes she must just be that scared.

He makes it out the door and doesn't look back. It's time to find out if he still has someone to chase.


He's taken a surprising amount of advice from commercials- probably more than one person ever should.

For a while he started eating a fourth meal thanks to Taco Bell ads.

When the dip he bought with his pool cleaning money gave him nausea, heartburn, and indigestion, he went straight for the Pepto Bismol.

When there was this real jerk in his fifth grade class he wanted to beat up, but his principal had already warned him that he'd been suspended far too many times that year, he turned to the Nike slogan for advice. Just do it, it said. And so he did. And that's exactly how he explained his actions to his principal (TV told him to do it).

But taking the advice of a commercial has never worked out quite like this for him before.

He searches the school because it's getting cooler out everyday and her cardigan didn't look warm enough to be hanging out outside. He finds her fairly quickly- there are only so many places one can go and have a chance at being alone in this school. She's in the choral room, sitting on a riser.

She's crying, though clearly trying not to, and it makes him feel like an ass cause he assumes he caused it.

"I'm sorry," he says walking over to her and alerting her to his presence, "I didn't mean for that to make you cry."

She shakes her head and admits with a small smile, "I don't actually know why I'm crying. Can't seem to control it."

"Yeah, I've heard that about," he gestures to her stomach, "you know, pregnancy."

She nods, understanding. She glances to him sitting beside her and smiles at how worried he looks. She offers in regards to the song, "That was subtle of you."

He shrugs. It didn't feel like that big of a deal, just practicing this whole being honest thing again. "Well, you know, go big or go home," he says by way of explaining why he decided to make the grand gesture instead of just continuing with everything he had been doing.

Silence falls between them. This is it though, his grand gesture, and he needs to try and make it work, can't have regrets about this moment, his chance. He turns his whole body toward her and lays it all out on the table, honesty's been working for him pretty well so far, "Look, Finn is my best friend and it sucks that if the truth was to come out, he'd get hurt. But on the other hand, I don't care at all that the truth would hurt him if the truth is that you're letting me be there for my daughter. I'd be a liar and I'd be my dad if I had to turn my back on her. I want her to be my family. I want you to be my family too."

She doesn't say anything, looks away from him as she stares at her hands in her lap and bites her lower lip again in that way like she's trying not to say something.

He has a feeling silence from her isn't going to make things turn out well for him. He might as well surrender to defeat now. He offers, "I just wanted you to know the truth. I guess if you still want Finn-"

"I don't," she cuts him off quickly, and her eyes widen slightly like she's surprised by her own declaration. But it's out there now so she forges on. She swallows and explains, "I don't want Finn. Not as her father or as a boyfriend. He's a good guy, but he's just not the one I want anymore."

His fists begin to clench. Seriously? There's another guy? She wants to date in her condition? While she's pregnant with his kid and still with his best friend? He angry that he's done all this and begins to yell, "After all this, this is when you tell me you're into some other guy."

"No I meant you," she quickly informs him, once again seeming surprised at her easy confession. Again though, it's already out there and there's no taking it back even if she's not yet sure how to handle any of this. She reaches out, slides her hand into his, intertwines their fingers and asks in reference to his words in the song, "All you need is my hand, right?"

He smiles and he doesn't try to hide it this time. So this is what it feels like to get what you've been chasing after. It's a helluva lot better than he could have imagined. He gently squeezes her hand in his, just to make sure it's really there, and responds, "Yeah, that's what I said…but a little more than that would be better." He leans in a little, making sure his intent is clear and giving her the opportunity to make sure this doesn't happen if she wants. She leans in a little too, smiling, unable to resist. His smile widens when she leans in, because this isn't all in his head, this is real. He doesn't hesitate to close the rest of the space between them now and kiss her. He keeps hold of her hand in his, but his other has gone to her face, fingertips softly brushing her jaw.

Eventually the sweet-and-intense kiss turns very-eager-and-intense and she puts a hand on his chest and pushes him away as she breathes, "Stop." Before he can ask her why, she continues, "We can't. Not right now."

Finn. Right. He nods. Knowing this was coming doesn't make it suck any less, but at least he knows it's not about him. She hasn't told Finn, still needs to. And he knows that once they actually talk about telling Finn (because there's no way he's letting her do it alone, not now that she wants him especially), they'll probably decide not to until after sectionals, just to make sure everyone stays in the club and they have the twelve people necessary to participate.

She's looking away from him, like she feels bad about all these complications she's caused. He assures, "It's okay. I'm not going anywhere."

She smiles at him and sounds confident, sure, when she responds, "I know."

He's pretty sure he's been getting what he's been chasing after, but what if this was just a momentary thing? What if she's only admitting this in the safety of this room and once they walk out the door it's all over? He checks, "You want us though, right?" He looks to her abdomen, where his daughter is growing inside her, and continues, "You want to be a family?"

She nods and smiles warmly, "Yeah, I'd like that."

"Cool," he sighs with a smile.

They spend a few more minutes ignoring that they have to go back so everyone who doesn't know the truth doesn't figure it out. He tells her about the people that already know about them and she gets mad. He tells her about how shockingly cool they were about it and she feels a bit better, more hopeful. They talk about her next doctor's appointment, how they hope everything will be resolved then and he'll get to go with her. And they give into the urge to be physically near to each other as they do so, because for now at least, it still won't be a possibility outside of moments like this.

Eventually, they have to separate again. But it doesn't hurt so much to watch her walk away this time. He knows he doesn't have to chase after her. She's coming back to him, she's going to keep coming back to him. And he's never liked the idea of not going anywhere so much.

The chase is over. He's hers (though that's been true a while). And, more importantly, she's his.

The end.

A/N: I hope you enjoyed the story!

Thank you for reading!