A/N: Posting Chapter 25 and the epilogue at the same time so make sure you read the previous chapter first!
ONE YEAR LATER
The small living room of the Puckerman household was packed full of people. Shiny packages were piled on a table nearby and there were decorations featuring cartoon trucks and trains everywhere. Rachel was flitting from the kitchen to the living room and back again, grabbing utensils, plates, and napkins. Miriam stood in the middle of the room, bouncing Caleb in her arms while his grandfather, Marcus, dangled a toy in front of his face and talked in a low tone.
"Oh, Marcus. Caleb doesn't care about that!" Miriam whined, glaring at the older man.
Marcus glowered at her in return. "Caleb will care, someday, about which college he should go to. And a healthy appreciation of an education can never start too early."
Miriam rolled her eyes. "Do you ever just relax? I mean, goodness, take the hanger out of your shirt and relax! You can talk to him about colleges when he's 16. Right now, he cares about drooling, eating, and making doo-doo."
Quinn giggled at the exchange. These gatherings usually resulted in the two grandparents bickering over which one was better with the baby. Puck usually wanted to punch them both and kick them out but Rachel just smiled, happy to have a mother in Miriam and a father who, after never really understanding how to be a real father, took to being a grandfather like it was his second nature. He doted on the littlest Puckerman.
Puck stepped back inside the house from checking the food on the grill and whistled shrilly to get everyone's attention. All eyes, including the smaller hazel ones that were nearly identical in color to his own, turned toward him. Rachel zipped back into the living room, serving spoon in hand, and nodded to him.
"Thanks, guys, for coming today. I know you probably have better things to do on a Saturday than spend it with us." Puck motioned for Rachel to join him. Once she had, he dropped his arm around her shoulder and tugged her tight to his side. "We wanted all the important people here when we celebrated Caleb's first birthday."
Puck looked around the room. His best friend in the world, Finn, was staring at him but had his hand gently resting on his wife's visibly pregnant belly. Puck thought about the day, nearly six months ago now, when the two of them came over to the house, giddy with excitement, to announce that Quinn was pregnant. The ink was barely dry on their marriage certificate and now they were starting a family of their own. Quinn and Rachel squealed and hopped around the room, planning "play dates" and trips to museums and other mommy-related things that bored Finn and Puck because it didn't involve cars, grease, music, or women.
Puck's eyes traveled to the happy African-American couple sitting on the couch. Mercedes and Robb were still seeing each other, after being introduced at Rachel's graduation cookout. And even Jimmy had managed to find a woman who didn't think he was repulsive. Her name was Rita and she was a gorgeous Latina. Far too gorgeous for Jimmy, in Puck's opinion. He knew it was just a matter of time before she woke up and moved on to someone slightly less creepy than his friend. However, Puck was all about happy endings these days so he kept his opinions to himself and just let it play out.
His sister, Beth, had become an indispensible resource since Caleb was born. She wanted to help with the baby in every possible way and Rachel was glad to let her. Usually, Beth and Miriam would argue over who was taking care of the baby as soon as Rachel had walked into Miriam's house with Caleb in her arms. Rachel would just kiss her son on the head, whisper her love to him, and let herself out as the two Puckerman women fought it out in the living room. Caleb found the constant bickering funny. Their shrieking, instead of scaring him, made him grin and giggle a three-toothed grin. He was definitely his father's son.
Glancing around the room, Rachel took her turn to speak. "I just want to tell you all how much we love you and thank you for all you've done for us." She stepped from Puck's embrace. "This last year has been a bit hectic. I think I imagined motherhood would be easier than it actually is. But I know that your love and friendship has made it all easier. And…" Rachel started to tear up and Puck rolled his eyes behind her. Here she goes again. She is always crying about something. At least she can't blame the pregnancy this time! "I just wanted to tell you all that we will continue to need you, possibly more than ever...because I'm pregnant again."
There was a collective gasp throughout the room, followed by a squeak of happiness from Quinn. Miriam began rambling to Beth about daycare duty and Marcus beamed from where he stood. Rachel turned to face Puck, who stared after her, completely stunned. She slid up next to him and his arms immediately went around her waist, pulling her flush with his body. "Are you sure?"
She bobbed her head and said, "I went to the doctor yesterday. You're going to be a daddy again in eight months."
Puck bent down and brushed his lips over hers. "Just when I don't think I could love you or this family any possibly more, you go and get knocked up."
"So you're happy?" Rachel's eyes were questioning, even nervous.
"Happy? I'm fucking ecstatic!" He kissed her again, nearly delirious with joy as thoughts raced through his brain. One thought, amidst all the jumbled thoughts about the house being too small or hoping they had a girl, kept coming back. Settling on it, he contemplated it for a moment. No, I am definitely not anything like my father.
After kissing Rachel one more time, he lifted his head to address the group.
"So how 'bout we eat lunch and then dive into that birthday cake?"
A/N: THE END.
A/N 2: Stay tuned for Chapter 1 of "All Roads Lead to You," my next Puckleberry fic. It will be coming your way VERY soon because I'm so excited about it that I can't see straight. It's a future fic that spans about five years of the lives of our favorite Jewish hotties! And it's going to be, by far, my most angsty fic EVER!!!