Author's note: So, the first scene in this chapter is slightly out of place. I didn't realize until after I wrote it, that it should have actually gone in the last chapter, as I note below when I introduce the scene. I thought about just cutting it...but I adore scenes between Rachel and Quinn, and they haven't really had any lately. So, I left it, along with a note. I hope it isn't too confusing.

Music suggestions: "Extraordinary Merry Christmas" by Glee Cast.

Disclaimer: Don't own Glee, I just borrow some of their lines, and scenes.

Extraordinary Merry Christmas, Part 2

Tuesday night, after Rachel's "date" with Kurt.

"I'm having a difficult time with my song choice." Rachel complained primly from her seat on Quinn's bed, glancing over at Quinn as the girl rifled through her dress collection for her date with Sam the following evening.

"I thought you already had everything planned out and ready to go." Quinn said, finally emerging from her closet with three different dresses in hand. Before Rachel could say anything else, Quinn dropped the dresses on the bed and swiftly reentered her closet in search of accessories.

"I do." Rachel said, examining the choices Quinn had laid out. "But when I discussed my choice with Noah, he didn't necessarily wholeheartedly agree with my decision, and now I'm beginning to doubt myself."

"Rachel," Quinn prompted in a stringent tone, emerging once again laden with scarves, cardigans, and four different pairs of boots dangling from her fingers. She blew a wisp of hair from her eyes before she continued speaking. "Perhaps you did choose a song that no one else will understand, but that's not the point. The point is that you're happy with your song choice, and that you are confident you will perform it well, despite what Puck, or anyone else, thinks. Sure, it's comforting when everyone supports and agrees with you before you sing...but it is also just as satisfying when you prove them wrong with your performance."

"That was wonderful, Quinn. Thank you." Rachel said after a pause, reaching out to touch Quinn's arm thoughtfully. "It was exactly what I needed to hear."

"You're welcome." Quinn returned in a cheerful tone. She then dropped the boots from her hands and dumped the scarves and cardigans onto the bed opposite the dresses. "But it's another matter entirely when it comes to your dress choice."

"What's wrong with my costume?" Rachel asked defensively, bringing a hand to her chest.

"It has a bow on it, Rachel." Quinn stated pragmatically, glancing over at Rachel with a gimlet eye. "Two big bows. And it's satin. You don't wear satin in the winter, even if you're inside the whole time. And as for the design and color...it is not a very flattering cut, or shade, especially with the backdrop you described to me in Spanish today. And if you want to distract Artie with more than your dazzling voice and less than cheerful song, you're going to need all the help you can get."

"Quinn, my audition is tomorrow." Rachel reminded her, a frown forming.

"I'm just saying, perhaps you should try something a little more season appropriate, and perhaps not quite so jewel-toned." Quinn replied matter-of-factly. She then held up one of the dresses she'd brought from the closet. "Like this one."

Rachel studied the dress fastidiously, with its A-line neckline, similar straps to the dress she'd already chosen, the hem still below the knee but a couple inches shorter, and a not-unappealing pine shade. It was made of a heavier but not chunky linen material and completely unadorned, no pattern or stitchwork anywhere to be found. But Quinn was correct: it was beautiful, and much more suitable to the tone of her song.

"Perhaps I agree with your superior judgment on this one." Rachel finally agreed, reaching out to stroke the dress with her fingertips.

"I think I could be persuaded to let you borrow it for the day." Quinn quipped in a regal tone, flouncing down to sit next to Rachel.

"How very kind of you." Rachel replied dryly, her lips quirking into a smile.

"And before you ask, yes, you can still wear the dress pumps you chose to go with your original dress." Quinn added.

"I'm entirely too relieved to hear you say that." Rachel stated. "Because I really like those shoes."

oooozoooo*ooouoooo*

Taking a curtsey at the end of her audition, Puck turned his gaze away from Rachel when he heard Artie's less than enthusiastic clapping over his left shoulder.

Puck didn't care how depressing Rachel's song was, her performance had been damn beautiful, and if Artie tore her down because of it, Puckzilla was gonna emerge for a brief rampage against the guy.

"Rachel, could you come see me?" Artie asked in lackluster tone, clasping his hands together.

"Yes, of course." Rachel said in an upbeat tone, not catching Artie's disparaging tone. Descending the stairs, Rachel quickly crossed the space between them in a cheerful manner, a certain bounce in her step that betrayed just how confident she was with her performance. "What's up?"

"Your song makes me wanna kill myself." Artie stated plainly, not cutting any corners.

Rearing back as if she'd been slapped, the happy overtone that had permeated her features moments before morphed into stark disbelief.

"Excuse me?" Rachel asked in an insulted tone, sneaking a glance over at Puck to read his response to Artie's direct comment. When he shrugged with similar disbelief, she returned her gaze to Artie. "Joni Mitchell is not depressing, she's emotional." Rachel tacked on in a clipped argumentative tone, giving up all pretense of effulgence as she glared down at Artie, her arm slashing through the air in emphasis.

"Well, it doesn't fit my vision for the Christmas Spectacular." Artie countered, not backing down from her glare.

Oh, this was gonna be good. It hadn't been the first time someone criticized Rachel's song choice, especially this particular one, but she sure as hell made you regret ever voicing such concerns.

"Then perhaps you should pull your head from your ass, because it's obviously why you see everything in such simple, dark overtones, instead of seeing the depth and scale behind such an acclaimed, beautifully complex song!" Rachel seethed, her temper getting the best of her.

"Whoa." Sam uttered from his seat beside Quinn.

Puck seconded the one word utterance, almost exactly in time with Sam. She really was upset by Artie's opinion this time around.

"What did you just say?" Artie asked, his tone flattening, devoid of emotion.

"Hey, c'mon guys! It's Christmas time, happy holidays, and all that crap." Puck exclaimed boisterously from his seat, rising up to stand and face the two quarreling bulwarks, cutting through the thick cloud of tension that was quickly blanketing them all. "Why don't we just...hear out what he has to say about his vision for the Spectacular and then decide on the song?" Puck finished diplomatically.

Spinning quickly, Rachel glowered at Puck.

It was a good thing they'd already crossed off those two sexcapades earlier that day for day 2 of Hanukkah, because he was pretty sure he was now dead where he was standing.

"Damn girl, turn it down a notch." Mack muttered from her seat close to Puck. "I'm catching residual heat from that glare, and it burns like hell. I thought Quinn had a death glare. Jesus. That's coming from me, chica."

Blinking away the intensity, Rachel took a deep, calming breath and crossed her arms over her chest, conceding the moment.

"Very well. I will at least listen to what he has to say, about this glorious vision of his." Rachel finally said, in a reluctant tone.

"How kind of you." Artie quipped in a disparaging tone, his lip curling, still irritable over Rachel's talking-down.

Rachel pulled her lips in between her teeth to keep from growling in frustration, steam practically pouring from her ears, as her anger boiled to the surface once again.

"Dude! Just tell us your freakin' vision!" Puck demanded shortly, his own patience wearing thin. He may not have been a big fan of her song choice, and had told her as such, but if Artie kept acting like such a jerkwad, Puck was gonna side with Rachel just out of spite, to be stubborn.

And then Artie began to recite his plan for the show, and Puck had to admit that, even as a Jew, spending Christmas at Kurt and Blaine's fictional chalet this year would be pretty damn...well, spectacular.

"Are you telling me that I'm not invited to Kurt and Blaine's for Christmas?" Rachel asked in a hurt, stricken tone, a hand covering her heart as if she'd been stabbed.

"Not unless you pick a happier song." Artie replied, the cherry on top of his explanation, knowing full well that he now had Rachel right where he wanted her.

Frowning at the floor, Rachel said nothing more. Artie continued on to his show's conclusion as Rachel sat down in the nearest seat, next to Quinn, who patted Rachel's arm sympathetically.

"The Frosty story isn't fun. He melts and dies at the end." Sam contributed in a querulous tone, standing up. He then turned to face Artie, as everyone else stared over and up at him in disbelief.

"I didn't realize Sam felt so strongly about such a story." Rachel commented quietly to Quinn as Sam and Artie went back and forth.

"I don't think it's just about Frosty." Quinn returned in just as hushed a tone, understanding flooding her words.

"What's wrong with a story that's a little sad, or a song that's a little depressing?" Sam queried, now fully immersed in his argument.

"It's not depressing!" Rachel grumbled loud enough for those closest to her to hear.

"Yeah, I know, it's emotional." Sam corrected as a sidebar, in an impatient tone. He then turned back to Artie. "My point is, that that's a part of Christmas too. It's the sad things that make you remember what's really important."

"Yeah, well, it's "Merry Christmas" not "Morose Christmas". Artie countered in a condescending tone. "That's the vision, and that's what you have to buy into."

After calling Artie's bluff, which Rachel silently commended him for, Sam began to stalk off, calling out for Rory to follow him. When Rory refused, a disappointed expression crossed Sam's face. He then glanced down at Quinn.

Nodding at his silent question, Quinn squeezed Rachel's hand in goodbye before standing as well. Collecting her things, Quinn looked over at Mack with a raised eyebrow as question.

"I've never had a Christmas like the one he just described, and it's probably as close as I'll ever get." Mack quipped, leaning back in her seat. She then snuck a surreptitious glance over at Matt and Santana. "Besides, I could care less about the true meaning of Christmas. I'm staying."

Beside Mack, Sugar nodded as well.

"I'll take any chance I can get to be on TV. I'm a supernova, you know." Sugar added matter-of-factly.

"Alright." Quinn acquiesced with a nod.

Leaning back down towards Rachel, Quinn spoke into Rachel's ear.

"Look out for her." Quinn murmured, referring to Mack. "She's only tough on the outside. Just like the other Puckerman I know." Quinn finished quietly.

"Okay." Rachel immediately agreed, before the other half of Quinn's comment registered in her mind. "Wait. What?"

Without looking back or answering Rachel's followup question, Quinn walked up the walkway in Sam's wake.

Guess they were divided once again.

At least it wasn't for a competition.

ooowoooo*ooooosoooo*

"C'mon, babe, everyone else is leaving for the night." Puck said, standing just off to her right, holding out his hand. "Are we cool? You know I was just trying to keep things from getting out of control, right?"

Rachel smiled up at Puck, without any anger or frustration.

"We're okay." Rachel replied, placing a hand in his as he helped her to stand. "I understand why you said what you did. I am just upset with myself that I didn't have better control over my mouth. People will always be criticizing me on what I say and do in this profession, and I really need to develop a thicker skin."

"Artie was being a tool. He could have handled the whole thing better." Puck countered diplomatically, threading her arm through his as he scooped up her bag.

"I must say, that you are a very bad influence on my vocabulary, Noah." Rachel admonished as they walked up through the auditorium towards the exit. "I find myself reaching for curse words that I never even remotely considered before we started dating."

"Yeah, well, I have a feeling that the further along we get, it ain't gonna get any better." Puck replied with a smirk.

"Speaking of cursing," Rachel segued, pulling around just before they reached the doorway. "Were you ever planning on telling me that Mack is your sister?"

Puck pulled up short, flabbergasted at the abrupt delivery. Those two topics didn't at all intersect.

"Half-sister." Puck finally answered, not backing down from Rachel's direct gaze. "And it's always been kind of a "don't ask, don't tell" kind of thing. I just didn't think it mattered."

"Well, now it kind of does, now that you're both going to be spending more time together." Rachel said, crossing her arms over her chest.

"How?" Puck asked incredulously, eyes glancing from side to side as if looking for the answer. "I'm probably related to half of western Ohio, in some form or other. Hell, I have another half-brother around here somewhere, that I've never even met. You want me to track him down and bring him into the club so that all the Lima Puckerman's can bond over music and hot chocolate?"

"You have a brother, too?" Rachel asked in a surprised tone. "Yes! Bring him in! Can he sing? Oh, why am I even asking, of course he can sing!" Rachel carried on enthusiastically, grabbing Puck by the shoulders for a moment before turning and exiting out the door with a flourish.

"Did you not hear me say that I've never met him?" Puck called out after her, trailing behind her. "That means I have no friggin' clue who he is or what he looks like! I was being sarcastic!"

ooooozoooo*ooooeooooo*

"Have you bought Rachel any gifts for Hanukkah, Noah?" Ann asked as she prepared dinner Wednesday night. "It is the second day, and I told you that you don't have to worry about Ari and myself. I've already bought a few small things that I will say are from you."

"She actually gave me a list." Puck supplied, seated at the small kitchen table, working on his biology homework. After a few more seconds, he scowled and pushed it all away, frustrated. "And there's a lot of cheap, meaningless crap on it. I know none of it's what she really wants. But I gave her the new car charger she wanted yesterday, and the pack of replacement earring backings from her list, today, after her spectacular blowout with Artie at her audition."

"Noah, she understands the financial situation we're in, and she doesn't care what gifts you buy for her." Ann said in a soothing, maternal tone, turning away from the salad she was throwing together to sit down in the chair next to Puck.

"But she deserves something special. Just one meaningful gift at the end." Puck stated fiercely, pulling the crumpled up list from his shirt pocket. "Not just all of these cheap, meaningless things. What's worse is I can't even surprise her with something awesome, because I really don't have the cash. Guess I'll just get her some cheap, but pretty earrings from Claire's at the mall."

Staring at Puck with a heartfelt, meaningful expression in her eyes, Ann's eyes glossed over with tears at her son's declaration.

"I have something that you could give her." Ann admitted after a moment, making a decision. Reaching over to squeeze Puck's hand she then rose from her seat and exited the kitchen towards her bedroom.

Puck stared after her, the frown on his face morphing into confusion as he wondered what his mom could possibly have that would be a perfect gift for Rachel. Because when he really thought about it, there were only two things that would come close: and both were jewelry.

About five minutes later, Ann came back into the room, carrying a small, flat velveteen jewelry case.

"It is something that I was going to give you when you were a little older, perhaps when you'd had your first child, or wedding anniversary." Ann explained as she held out the box for Puck to take. "However, I believe that your relationship with Rachel is something of serious note, and I cannot think of a more deserving Jewish girl to wear your grandmother's heirloom."

"Mom," Puck said, his voice choked with emotion after he opened the box. What lay inside the box, he only ever saw his mom wear on special occasions, and considering all the crap they'd been through lately, he hadn't seen these earrings in years. "These earrings were Bubbe Abra's, and are the only thing you haven't put up for hock aside from her wedding rings. Those are real pearls."

"I know." Ann replied, tears now freely falling as she dabbed at her eyes with a tissue. "But I know that Rachel will love them, and treat them with the respect and care they have been given for as long as my family has owned them."

"I don't know what to say." Puck finally said after carefully closing the lid on the case. He returned his gaze to his mom, something like tears pricking at the backs of his eyes. "She'll love them. This is just...exactly what I was thinking. They're perfect. Thanks, Mom."

"You're welcome, Noah." Ann said with a watery smile.

oooxoooo*oooocooooo*

I guess this means there's more to come from the Christmas episode! Because that's it, for now. Hope you liked it, and that it's not too much Christmas, because I'm getting a lot of ideas from this episode. I'll probably be loading some up to Protecting Berry Excerpts, because there are a few Mack-centric scenes. Until next time.