The front door clicked as it unlocked and Quinn nudged it open wither her foot, her suitcase in one hand, keys and purse in the other. She set the suitcase at the bottom of the stairs and dropped everything else on the small table in the entryway.
The security timer left had activated the hall and kitchen lights, but the entryway was dim and shadowy. She had the creeping sensation that someone was in the room with her. A hand slapped against her backside. Drawing from her self-defense instruction, she gripped the arm of the assailant, twisted and brought them to the ground, her knee in their back.
"Damn, Quinn! You didn't have to go all ninja on me."
"Puck?" She twisted the arm a little more.
Quinn released her grip. "What the fuck are you doing in my house?" She moved into the living room and switched on a table lamp.
Puck followed. "Hey, hey. If I'm allowed to drop f-bombs around Mini-Q, neither are you."
"She's not here, she still in Connecticut. So, I repeat, what the fuck are you doing in my house?"
"I stopped over in Lima for belated Hanukkah with the fam, then thought I'd swing on up to Toledo to see my ladies."
Her eyes surveyed the room. A pizza box sat on the coffee table. "Just how long have you been here?"
"How did you get in?" She leaned against the arm of the sofa.
"You're not very inventive about hiding your secret key. A giant ladybug? Who's gonna believe that's real?" By now, he'd wandered into the kitchen and stood in front of the open fridge. "Want a beer?"
"No. Actually, yes. Fine. Thank you."
Puck tossed her a beer, then jumped over the back of the couch and landed behind Quinn. "Man, that was some kung-fu grip you had on me. Just so you know, most home invasions don't include an ass smacking."
"You know, you and Rachel are both lucky I didn't mace you. Why people think it's funny to sneak up on women in the dark--"
"Wait, Rachel? Rachel Berry?"
"Yeah." She slid off the arm of the sofa and settled next to Puck.
"Rachel Berry attacked you in the dark?"
"Kind of. It was a surprise."
"Did she smack you on the ass?"
"No. She did not."
"How is the diva? Living large?"
"She's... fine." Quinn popped the top on the beer can. "I thought you were in California until the end of January."
"The label gave us a break for the holly holidays." Puck propped his feet up on the coffee table. "So, wait, what's this about Rachel? I thought you two fell out of touch or whatever."
"We did." Quinn kicked at his feet, knocking them onto the floor. "But we went to see Wicked and Maddy wanted to meet her after the show and we just... started to hang out."
"Oh." He took a sip of beer, then narrowed his eyes at her. "Wait a minute... you guys totally hooked up." It was matter of fact, the way he said it.
"Why would you come to that conclusion?"
"Oh my god, you did! I knew it. I knew the two of you were bumping bits back at McKinley."
"Okay, first off all, we were not 'bumping bits' at any point during high school and--"
"But you are now, right?"
"Can you stop being an asshole for five minutes?"
"What, you're hot, she's hot, I'm just being appreciative."
"You're a jerk."
"Oh, man, this is something serious."
"Not something you know a lot about."
"Hey, I'm serious about being here for you. Even when I'm not here."
It was true. Puck had proven not to be a Lima Loser from the beginning, despite his rough edges. After high school, his college band was signed to a major label and began to tour. He was on the road a lot, but he always made an effort to support Quinn whenever she'd let him, and even then it was only with things that directly affected Madison.
"You're right. That was a low blow."
"Plus, the kid's already got two fathers, she might as well have two mommies."
"Well, her dads tend to behave more like crazy uncles."
"You can't just drop a bomb on me like this and not issue and details."
"The details are private."
"So, you were definitely naked together."
She thought about telling him to lay off. But this was Puck and even if he acted like the name immature mohawked jock she knew in high school, he was also a good friend and the father of her child. "Fine. Yes. We were definitely naked together."
"Finn totally owes me twenty bucks."
"You two had a bet going?"
"Oh, yeah. And there is no statute of limitations on girl on girl action."
"I cannot wait to see which of your delightful traits Madison will pick up."
"Hey, can I take her next weekend?"
"You'll have to work it out with Finn. That's one of his weekends. I think they were going to a Browns game. Maybe her two daddies can have a date." Puck was just staring at her. "What?"
"Sorry, I was just imagining it."
"The definitely naked together."
She punched him in the arm.
In the beginning, the biggest concern was always when they would next see each other. The commuter flight between New York and Toledo wasn't so bad, but they had to plan each and every visit around their schedules.
The easy part had been breaking the news to Madison. Telling a child that her mother was pursuing a relationship with her idol is hardly the worst news a parent has to break. Madison's biggest concern was whether or not Rachel could make it to at least one of her soccer playoff games and possibly sing the national anthem. She did, by the way, on both counts.
By the time February rolled around, they'd managed to see each other a half dozen times. Puck had imposed himself on the Fabray house through the first week of January, allowing Quinn feeling guilt-free when she asked him to stay with Madison while she flew to Manhattan for a couple days. When he headed back to California, it was Finn's turn for a weekend with the girl.
While Quinn had moved to Toledo shortly after high school, in an attempt to distance herself from the drama of her life in Lima, Finn had received a scholarship to Cleveland State University. After graduation, he'd joined the Cleveland Police Department. Through everything, he'd kept his promise to Quinn that he would take care of her daughter, but he was limited with the same restrictions Quinn gave Puck. She, herself, didn't want or need to be supported by either of them.
These rules of independence also applied Rachel. Even though she could easily support the three of them, Quinn wouldn't feel comfortable letting Rachel do that. And this impacted the decision about what the next step was in their relationship. If they were to move in together, they'd have to move out of Ohio to New York. That alone wasn't a big deal. Quinn wouldn't be sad to leave Ohio behind, but Finn was there and he deserved the chance to continue his relationship with Madison.
All of this was putting a damper on the newly ignited relationship between Quinn and Rachel. When the singer proposed that she take a hiatus from the stage, Quinn accused her of crazy talk.
"You live for the stage."
"And you. And Maddy."
"I can't ask you to do that."
But Quinn wouldn't stand for it. And they had yet to find a solution.
Rachel hoped that some time alone together, some real time alone, would give them a chance to figure things out.