Author's Note: At the end of "Unrequited", I was in such a rush to get it up that I forgot to say thank you to all my reviewers. I am absolutely falling in love with the this little (big?) community of Puckleberry die-hards. I feel like I am developing some great friendships out of it!

Before I start this chapter, I have to give a shout out to Katertots. "Burning Down the House" (with Noah Puckerman as an NYFD Firefighter - *swoon*), inspired me to go AU. I usually like to stick to canon but decided what the long as I stayed true to Rachel and Noah, I can take them anywhere!

Also, the idea for this story is inspired by a book by LaVyrle Spencer called "Seperate Beds." I read it when I was 14 and the idea of an unplanned pregnancy/forced marriage stuck with me so I took those two plot points and created this alternate universe.

So here we go....

Rachel Berry – no, Rachel Puckerman – forced the bile back down her throat as she watched her new husband sign the remaining paperwork with the Justice of the Peace. In a few short minutes, she would leave with him and they would start a life together. The thought made her ill.

Dizzily, she found a seat in the back of the cold, brightly lit courtroom and sat down. Closing her eyes, she tried to steady herself against the wave of nausea that threatened to take her down, straight down onto the dingy tiled floor. Exhaling through her teeth, her stomach began to settle. Opening her eyes again, she couldn't believe that she was here in this courtroom…newly married to a man she didn't even know.

Rachel actually had a hard time believing every one of the events that had transpired over the past several days and she was the one unfortunate enough to be living them. But really, she had to go back farther than just a few days. She had to go back six weeks, in fact…

She had been home from college for the weekend. Bored, she dialed up one of her old high school friends, who promptly invited her to a frat party at the local university. She agreed to go because she was going insane staring at the gilded walls inside her Goliath childhood home. Once she got to the party, she set about the business of to letting go a bit. That in and of itself was a feat because Rachel was not one to rarely, if ever, relax. And then she let her hair down a little more anded ended up having entirely too much to drink. As she was getting another glass of fruity-flavored alcohol that went down so smoothly, she noticed his dark, intense eyes raking up and down her body like he had settled on his target and was about to strike. The pursed poutiness of his lips, the allure of the guarded eyes, the sound of his deep voice – she was intoxicated. They exchanged numbers and made random small talk. But before she knew it, she was lying on a stranger's bed in a darkened bedroom and was writhing in ecstasy as he ran his lips over her naked body. Had she not had so much to drink, her mind might have screamed at her to wait, to stop, to get the hell out of there. She might have even reminded herself that her first time shouldn't be in a strange bed in an even stranger house with a dangerously unknown man. But the alcohol had done its job, having sufficiently muted her normally sharp mind into thinking that a one-night stand with a muscular, seductive stranger was the perfect way to cease her status as a virgin. The initial penetration hadn't hurt like she had expected. She felt a sharp stab as the thick, blunt head of his sex slid into her but the pain quickly subsided and was replaced by an intensity of sensation that her small, taut body had never before experienced. He brought them both to orgasm quickly, expertly even. Her body shook and she went completely limp as the pulsating subsided. Her head was still swimming in a euphoric afterglow when he slipped out of her, kissed her on the forehead, and disappeared back into the house. She didn't see him again for the rest of the night.

After she had sobered up the next day, she thought about calling him. However, the intelligent, pragmatic woman that she prided herself on being was quick to realize that she was merely a faceless lay to him and needed to remain that way. So even though she thought about that night often – it was her first time, after all – she tried her best to push it to the back of her mind and focus on her studies. She was in her senior year of college, studying music at Ohio State. Her dreams were calling her to New York and the Great White Way. And she was so close. And then, five weeks later, that night came rushing back like an express train and bitch-slapped her right across the face. After she had thrown up seven times and scrutinized the calendar intently, trying to determine when she had her last period, she hurried to the drug store. Six pregnancy tests later, her horror was confirmed. Her one night stand had led to far more serious consequences than she ever could have imagined. She didn't say anything to anyone about it immediately. She didn't know what she would say, actually. She just needed time to think. But then the maid found the pregnancy tests in the bathroom and took them straight to Rachel's father, as she had been doing with any incriminating evidence she had discovered over the past 12 years that she had been in his employ.

Rachel's father had roared at her, calling her every insulting, demeaning name he could conjure up and even a few in Hebrew just for good measure. She had a reputation to uphold. He was a leader in this community whose foundation was rising amongst the city and state's elite crowd of millionaire donors. They were a highly-respected family. His daughter's bastard child would not stand. He wanted to know the man's name who had done this to her. Blindly, out of the fear she always felt and an absolute numbness to the reality that was facing her, she gave him the scrap of paper that had been slipped into her hand that drunken night.

Forty-five minutes later, the man arrived at their estate and was ushered into her father's oaken study. Two cigars and four glasses of brandy later, the study opened and Rachel was escorted in to face her judge, jury, executioner, and impregnator.

She met his eyes again for the first time at that moment. He looked frustrated, angry, pissed, worried. But the intensity, the smoky darkness of his gaze, was still very much intact.

Her father then informed her that the two of them would be married. Immediately. He refused to allow his daughter, whom he had raised to be a moral light in a dark world, to have a child out of wedlock. It was simply unacceptable and just because it was common in the 21st century did not, in any way, shape or form, mean that it was okay inside the Berry household. And the man – Noah Puckerman was his name – stood up and informed her that he would be damned if he was a deadbeat father. That shit didn't happen with him because his own father was a deadbeat and frankly, that was not the way he rolled. Marcus then informed Rachel that Noah was to receive a sizable sum of money to marry her, with the money to be wired into his bank account in the morning.

Two days after that horrible, devastating evening inside Marcus Berry's study, they were in Lima circuit court, exchanging vows and promising to love one another when they didn't even know one another. He was doing it for the money and to be around his child. She was doing it simply because her father told her she had to. That's the way it had been for her entire life. Marcus Berry told her how to live her life and his powerful hold on his daughter ensured that she did everything at his instruction. That one night at the college frat party – that had been her one night to rebel against her father. And even that had backfired.

Realizing that Noah, her husband, was done signing the paperwork, Rachel pulled herself from her thoughts to stand as he approached.

"Ready?" was all he said, without ever meeting her eyes.

She nodded. He stepped toward the door and she followed him out into the sunlight, ready to start a life with a man she didn't know, a baby she wasn't sure she wanted, and an overbearing father whose reputation mattered far more to him than his vulnerable daughter's own happiness.

What a way to spend her 21st birthday.

They drove in silence. She was staring out the window and he was focusing intently on driving. He would love to have said something but really, what would he even say? "Sorry I knocked you up but thank your dad for the buckets of money he threw at me? Hope we don't kill each other, wifey?" He knew nothing about this girl, other than the fact that she had brown hair, big brown eyes, a small, impossibly tight and sexy body, appeared to be very intelligent, and was a willing sex partner. Not a lot of foundation to start a relationship, let alone a marriage.

In a different situation, he could have contested the paternity. But no, not this time. He had felt the barrier when he had first slipped himself inside the tight, intense heat of her body. He had even weighed the merits of continuing at that point because he didn't do virgins. But when she moaned hotly into his ear, begging him to fuck her, lust won out over any moral objections that he may have been harboring and he pushed inside her to the hilt. It was over all too quickly, that's for sure. He disappeared into the night and even forgot about her for a few days. When he was emptying his pants pockets to do laundry a few days later, he found her number. He even toyed with calling her to see if she was up for a repeat but didn't. Virgins came with a lot of emotional baggage, he recalled. So he threw her number down on his nightstand and it remained there, even now.

But now she was his wife. And that thought wasn't too enticing. However, this new wife of his was carrying his child and that meant everything in the world to him. No, Noah Puckerman did not have a spotless record. On the contrary. He slept with too many women, swore entirely too much, drank a lot. In short, he was no angel. That made him like his father in every way except for one – he wouldn't leave. If he was responsible for helping to create a child, even if it was in the most fucked-up of situations, he was going to be right there. His father may have disappeared when his sister was little but he wasn't going anywhere. He would have preferred not to marry this girl, of course. But that's where the money came in. And money would go a long way in his meager existence. His mother's house was falling apart and he could finally afford to fix it up for her. His sister needed braces and he could get those, too. Thanks to one unprotected fuck, the world had just opened up considerably for the entire Puckerman family. Marcus Berry was so respected and feared in Lima that the man often threw money at problems to make them disappear. Noah thought it was shitty that Marcus would treat his own daughter as a pawn. But Marcus' reputation preceded him and Noah could tell that every word of it was true.

He would make the best of this. He had to.

She would make the best of this. Her life depended on it.

As they drove towards their new home that day in profound silence, both wondered if they would be able to make the best of it together.

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