"Hey, look," Puck says. "I found candles."
He holds them up. They've been digging through the drama club's bins of props, looking for some kind of festive decorations to put up; so far, all they've found is some sad, limp tinsel and a few curly-toed elf shoes and Marley's chains from a production of A Christmas Carol the school put on a few years ago.
"Could've used those when we lost power," Mike says. "Oh, awesome!"
He pulls a Santa hat down over his ears, grinning.
Puck stands. "Let's take this crap back to the girls," he says.
It happened on a Tuesday afternoon the week before school was supposed to let out for the year. Half of the club had been hanging out at the mall killing time before practice; the other half were already in the music room, waiting. Quinn had been rocking the baby's carrier with one foot while she ran through her scales with Mr Shue.
Then Santana had flipped open her phone. "Oh my God, guys," she said.
They had went down to the teacher's lounge to watch CNN on the good TV. By the time they realized they were alone in the building and no one else was coming, it was too late to leave.
Then the zombies had started banging on the front doors.
"Mike," Quinn says. She is standing precariously-balanced on a plastic chair, trying to tack a sad and bare-looking garland to the ceiling. "What are you doing?"
He brandishes the scissors. There is a flurry of red and green construction paper around him from his raid on the art room. "Making us a Christmas tree!"
The baby slaps one hand against the floor and laughs.
They were all exhausted and bloody and battered and the baby was screeching in Quinn's arms by the time they got the school mostly barricaded. The science wing was off-limits, but they had the kitchen and mostly importantly - psychologically, anyway - they had the music room.
"It'll be okay," Quinn said, desperately trying to quiet the baby down. "We've got the kitchen. And the locker rooms."
"We've got power for now," Mike added. "And water."
"And shovels," Puck said, "and pickaxes."
He wiped some mud off his face. His raid on the storage shed: successful.
Quinn bit her lip.
"Puck," she said. "How long is that food going to last? And - what about baby supplies?"
They all looked at one another.
"I'm sorry," Santana said, "but I do not cook, we are not united in sisterhood, and I am not changing that baby's diapers."
"Wow, Santana," Mike said, "way to be a team player."
She turned on him. "Are you honestly saying you're going to change its dirty diapers?"
He went quiet.
Quinn looked very small and alone as she held the baby, patting it awkwardly on the back. Puck thought briefly about putting his arm around her shoulders, but when she met his gaze her face was set.
"That's what I thought," Santana said.
"I'm not asking for any help," Quinn said. "I said I was going to do this by myself, and I meant it."
She turned to leave.
Santana called Brittany and disappeared into the corner of the room, gossiping quietly and shooting Mike and Puck dirty looks.
"Yeah," Puck said. He heaved a sigh. "I wish I was at the mall, too."
"What did we do in another life?" Mike asked plaintively. "I don't know which is worse, that we're in the middle of a zombie apocalypse or that we're stuck at school."
Quinn turns over Puck's candles in her hand. "We could stick them in the window," she says. "Make little candelabras. Or would those attract zombies? No. They wouldn't, right?"
"We could use them for a menorah," Puck says. "Or something. Baby's First Hanukkah."
Quinn laughs and then pauses and turns, frowning a little.
"Wait, do you mean that?" she asks.
"Well," Puck says. "Kind of. The kid is half-Jewish."
"I'm sorry, Puck, but I told you I was raising this baby by myself," Quinn says. "And I am raising any child of mine according to my own faith."
He laughs. "Quinn," he says. "I'm pretty sure you left the whole good-Christian-girl schtick behind a long time ago. Stop pretending."
The minute he says it he wishes he could take it back. He doesn't really care either way, and he definitely doesn't care enough to hurt her over it. There is a bright glitter of unshed tears in Quinn's eyes, but she doesn't say anything, just ducks her head and looks away, breathing hard.
Puck puts his hand in his pocket, closing his fist around Rachel's delicate necklace. The sharp edges of it bite into his palm.
He found her in the library, poring over a stack of home ec textbooks right out of the sixties all about raising families and being a good housewife and taking care of children in tiny black text with illustrations that looked like they came out of the Jetsons or something, and Puck wasn't sure how much use they were going to be but he felt bad for her that they're the only resource she had. And that they were in the middle of a zombie apocalypse and she still had to study.
"Quinn," he said.
"Go away, Puck," she said. She dashed a hand across her eyes, shifting the baby to a more comfortable position in her lap. "I'm busy."
"I told you I'd help," he said. "Anything you need. I'm serious. Just tell me what you want me to do."
She let the cover of one book slam closed. "It's one thing," she said, "to be a teenaged mother. It's another thing to be a teenaged mother when it's the end of days and you can't run out and pick up fresh diapers at the freaking grocery store. I don't know what I'm going to do, Puck."
He didn't, either.
"Don't listen to what Santana says," Puck said. "She's a bitch."
"No, she's not," Quinn said. "She's a teenager. But we don't get to be teenagers any more. She doesn't get that. And I don't know if you do, either."
She opened her book up again, turning to the index in the back.
"If you want to help," she says, "figure something out yourself."
They do their weekly visit to Mr Shue in the gym where he is chained to the basketball net. They sit in the bleachers, from a safe distance; he snaps and drools at the balls they throw at him to chase, and shambles delightedly all over the court.
"We should give him a bow," Santana says. "A nice big red one. It would be festive."
"Also a little mean," Mike says.
Puck picks up his guitar, bored, and begins picking out A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall on his guitar. The baby coos with delight; Puck starts to sing, putting his best gravelly Bob Dylan mumble into it, and the baby giggles but Quinn gives him a hard look and says, "Really, Puck? You think that's an appropriate Christmas carol?"
He kind of thinks so, yeah.
Down on the basketball court Mr Shue sits down on the floor, head cocked almost like he's listening.
"Aw," Mike says. "He likes the music."
Mr Shuester bares his teeth. A few maggots crawl out of his mouth.
"Gro-oss," Santana sing-songs.
The baby patted one hand over Puck's nose. "Hands off, kid," he said. Quinn smiled, and Puck guessed that he was holding the baby right; he hadn't spent that much time around kids, but he remembered when his sister was born and his mom had let him hold her. He'd dropped her on her head.
He figured he wouldn't tell Quinn about that. She was kind of paranoid about that kind of thing.
"Guys," Mike said, bursting into the room, looking shaken. The baby squirmed in Puck's lap; he tried to hold it still but it was a losing battle. "Our phones are down."
"Santana's going to kill herself," Quinn whispered, and Puck's mouth twisted to keep himself from laughing. Then he realized it meant he was stuck talking to these three people, and the baby, and Zombie Mr Shue, and his breath hissed out with exasperation.
"The Pogues?" Puck says. "Dude. I'm not singing anything called Fairytale of New York."
"It's a good song," Santana insists. "Very Christmassy. It was in PS I Love You."
"Oh my God, I love that movie," Quinn says. "Gerard Butler."
"Right?" Santana says.
Puck strums the opening chords experimentally.
Quinn's face was tight with worry when Puck and Mike finally made it back to the school, laden down with boxes from the little grocery mart down the road.
"What the hell is wrong with you guys?" Santana said. "You can't just run off and leave us like that."
Puck flapped a hand at the boxes. "Chang has been holding out on me," he said, leaning over, trying to catch his breath. "He took out those zombie mothers like they were cardboard."
"Who knew popping and locking were transferable skills?" Mike said. "The things you learn from a zombie apocalypse."
"When this is all over," Puck said, "you are totally joining my fight club."
Quinn and Santana were going through the boxes. "Oh, my God," Quinn said. "Toilet paper. And diapers!"
Santana clutched a bottle of shampoo to her chest. She looked like she might cry.
"You said you wanted me to figure it out myself," Puck said. "I thought I'd start with diapers."
"Don't run off like that again," Quinn said.
"Nag, nag," he said.
Quinn picked over the containers of baby-wipes thoughtfully.
"You know," she said, "I'm really sick of tater-tots."
Puck grinned. "Noted," he said.
They are in the school basement and the lights are flickering, just about to go out for good. Quinn is crying somewhere behind Puck and Finn is slumped against the wall, his neck a bloody, meaty mess from where the zombie tried to tear out his throat.
"I'm sorry about everything, man," Finn says. His skin is looking grayer by the minute. "I really am. I hope you guys make out okay."
"Yeah," Puck says, kneeling before him. "Me too."
Finn smiles, but it's more of a grimace. "Be a good dad to Drizzle," he says.
Quinn half-gasps, half-sobs. "Finn, we're still not naming the baby Drizzle," she says. Her eyes are wet, but she's smiling, hands fluttering like she wants to touch him but she knows she can't.
"I love you, Quinn," Finn says. His eyes are going glassy and dull.
"I know," she says.
"Quinn," Puck says quietly, turning to her. "You'd better get out of here."
She leaves with one last look back over her shoulder.
"It sucks that it has to be me, bro," Puck says. He hefts the spade in his hand and looks at it, unable to meet Finn's eyes.
"Hey," Finn says. "Look, if anyone has to do it, I'm glad it's you. At least I know you'll do it right."
He reaches out with great effort, pressing something shiny into Puck's hand. His smile is a little more successful this time. "Rachel's," he says. "I know how you felt about her. I'm sorry."
His hand falls away.
Puck's not crying. But there is still a tremor in his hands as he lifts the spade and swings -
He wakes up with a gasp.
Quinn had left one candle flickering on top of the piano before they all went to sleep but it doesn't shed any light to speak of. Across the room the baby is babbling quietly in the dark. Puck sits up, pushing aside his sleeping bag; he tries to slow his breathing, focusing on the baby's incoherent happy gurgling, trying to forget.
"Are you all right?" Quinn whispers after a moment into the black silence.
"Yeah," he says, rubbing a hand over his head. He needs to find a razor; his mohawk is going wildly out of control. "Bad dream."
A week after Finn's death, Quinn had left Mike and Santana bathing the baby in the sink of the girl's washroom ("Don't be too long," Santana had threatened, "it's slippery, and I'm not getting wet") and pulled Puck into their old history classroom. "You loved Rachel," she said fiercely.
Puck considered lying, but didn't. "Yeah," he said. "And you loved Finn."
Her lips were tight as she sat down on the teacher's desk, pushing aside a dusty stack of unmarked essays.
"This is so messed up," she said.
"Hello," Puck said, swinging himself up beside her. "Understatement of the century."
She turned to look at him, her eyes flickering, searching his face. "Puck," she said, and then she kissed him, so hard she threw him off-balance; he braced himself one-handed on the desk, sending pencils scattering. She sighed, teeth snagging his lip, and he slid his hand up her thigh under her skirt. She didn't stop him, but raised herself up to kiss him deeper, drawing down hard on his neck, fingers slipping up his stomach under his shirt.
"And we're never mentioning this again," Quinn said into his mouth, breath ragged.
"Okay," Puck said, not complaining when she shifted to straddle him, kissing him again.
Puck sits down and drums a few jangling notes on the piano. He's thinking about teaching himself to play, but it's been going out of tune over the past few months. Quinn and Mike are playing cards in the corner; Quinn's finally learning how to play poker, and is cleaning them all out. She has a nice tidy stack of q-tips beside her.
Santana laughs to herself. Puck looks up at the sound. She is sitting by the drumset, hunched over her cell phone.
"Santana," he says. "Are you texting right now?"
She doesn't look up from her phone, thumbs tap-tapping at the keys.
"Yeah," she says.
"Santana," Puck says. They are all staring at her. "What the actual fuck."
She looks up. "What?" she says defensively.
"Seriously?" Quinn says. "The phones are working again, and you seriously forget to tell us?"
"What, you didn't know?"
Mike is already digging his cell out from his coat. "I'm trying Artie," he says, and Quinn hefts the baby up on her hip and hurries across the room to the supply cupboard where she'd stashed her own phone back when they'd stopped working.
Puck leans back on the bench and puts one hand over his eyes. He doesn't know whether to laugh or cry.
They all do both when they finally get the rest of the glee club members on the line. They are all giggling and talking over one another and giving updates on who's dead and who's zombified and what supplies are left and when the water's going to be turned back on and whether it's safe to make it across town to meet up with each other yet; the baby, trying to get in on the action, babbles louder than anyone else, determined to be heard.
"How's Drizzle?" Tina asks.
"Oh, don't start that again," Quinn says. "The baby's fine. Still nameless."
"That's just weird," Kurt says. "You two are going to give her some kind of complex. Let's name her Patti."
"No," Puck says.
"No," Quinn says firmly.
"Hey," Mercedes says. "It's Christmas Eve. Anyone want to give something a go, for old time's sake?"
Mike is already rifling through the stacks of music splayed out on the top of the piano from Quinn's half-hearted attempt at alphabetizing.
"God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen?" he says. "Baby, It's Cold Outside?"
Santana is smiling, and when Puck looks at Quinn she kisses him on the cheek.
"What was that for?" he asks.
"No reason. Don't get any ideas," she warns, lifting the baby in her arms.
He doesn't. But it feels nice all the same.