Final chapter, very sad, but I have loved writing this story and I've appreciate all the feedback from you all! Thanks so much and I hope you enjoy!
"Puck be careful or you'll drop her!"
Quinn scolded her boyfriend as she walked into their bedroom, horrified and humored by the sight in front of her all at once. Puck lay on his back in their bed, legs stuck straight in the air with Imogen resting on his feet. He was swaying the baby left and right gently, making her coo and gurgle as he imitated an airplane crashing while holding her tiny hands.
"She's fine, look at her laugh," he smiled, lowering the baby down and placing a kiss on her forehead.
"She's two months old, I'd like her to make it to three," Quinn said as she joined them on the bed, taking the baby from Puck and cuddling her.
"This is why she likes me more," he said casually as he leaned back against the headboard, "because I'm funnier."
"You're not funnier, and she doesn't like you more!" Quinn said defensively as she nestled the baby into her chest, "She obviously loves me more, you just can't seem to accept that."
"Uh, who did she laugh at first? That's right, this guy," Puck said smugly as he pointed to himself.
"Oh yeah? Well who gets her to stop crying when she's upset? That would be me," Quinn played back while sticking her tongue out.
"Please, everyone knows laughter is the best medicine, it's a scientific fact."
"No it isn't!"
"Jealousy isn't pretty Quinn."
"And neither are you!" He nudged her with his foot as she laughed in his face, shuffling around to sit beside him on the bed.
"How ya feeling?" she asked cautiously, avoiding his eyes while kissing Imogen's forehead.
"Fine," he answered softly, closing his eyes and resting his head back, "Just exhausted."
"I hear ya," Quinn murmured, leaning into his arm and relaxing against his chest.
It had been a month since the funeral, Puck still struggling to put the past to rest. He was better than before, talking and eating and finally getting around to smiling every once and awhile, but there were moments when Quinn could see the sadness in his eyes. Sometimes the moments would be random, him staring off as they drove or when he would lay down beside her at night, others happening when something like a sports game or song on the radio would trigger a memory. She could see the struggle he had inside himself, straining against the tears that glinted in his eyes for the father he loved while his lips would twitch in anger at the man who had betrayed him. It was painful to watch him at war with himself, Quinn wondering whether Noah or Puck would ever win.
"You know I was thinking we could go to the park or something later," Quinn said to shift the focus, "Finally take Imogen and get her out of the house, just something different."
"Yeah, yeah, that'd be fun," he nodded as he rested his chin on her forehead. They continued to rest in comfortable silence, Quinn almost nodding off until the sound of the doorbell startled them. She felt Puck move and she sat up, her stomach turning into knots out of habit.
"I'll get it," Puck said as he scooted off the bed, sighing as he opened the door and headed downstairs. Quinn gently laid the baby on the bed before she turned to look out the window, never knowing who to expect anymore on the doorstep. While she couldn't see anyone she did see a cop car, her stomach lurching as her mind raced. She took the baby and placed her in her basinet, leaving the door open as she crept towards the stairs. After months of eavesdropping she had finally mastered her skills, knowing to avoid the sixth step and not to lean against the railing as she made her way down.
She could hear muffled voices from the door as she listened intently, trying to distinguish words and phrases from the barely audible sounds. The scuffling of feet made her move, Quinn darting up the stairs as the door closed quickly. She had made it up to the top of the stairs and was in the midst of pretending she was just coming down when she realized Puck had yet to move. The sounds of his thudding footsteps didn't echo and his shadow wasn't cast on the wall, Quinn wondering if he had gone outside with the officer.
She decided to suck it up and look, quietly peering her head around the corner while holding her breath. Her eyes made it past the wooden frame of the door and instantly met the sight of Puck's back. He wasn't moving or anything, simply standing in front of the front door with his arms in front of him. Quinn debated speaking up and leaving him alone, but her curiosity and his lack of conversational skills prompted her to speak up.
"Puck," she called out lowly, stepping off the final stairs and walking towards him, "Puck, is everything alright?" He still remained in place as she walked towards him, Quinn's mind frantically searching for what other kind of news he could have received.
"Puck," she made her way in front of him to find his face expressionless, his head turned down as he stared. Quinn followed his gaze to see his hands closed, inside of them an old beige envelope.
"It's a letter," he whispered, his thumbs tracing over the front as he continued to stare, "It's-it's a letter from my dad." Quinn's eyes widened as she turned her head, now able to see "Noah" in chicken scratch on the front.
"They found it in his cell," he continued, his eyes never breaking from the envelope as he spoke, "After they gathered all his things up, they found it in his pillow…" his voice got small as he trailed off, Quinn unsure of what to do as Puck rubbed his thumbs over the envelope. She could only imagine the tug of war he was doing right now, caught between opening and leaving the letter alone.
There was the one side where he could open it to find every answer he had spent seventeen years searching for, the side where Puck would cry and laugh and cry again at the last words of his father. Where his father would apologize and write all the encouraging and loving things Puck had needed all along, only the words that his dad could say and then he'd finally smile and be free. There was also the side where his father could lash out at Puck for turning his back on him, angry with his son for shutting him out and breaking Puck's heart even more than he already had. The side where Puck's final memory of his dad would lay in a letter of hateful words that couldn't be taken back, leaving Puck forever scarred by the person he had needed most.
"What-what should I do?" he asked as he finally broke his gaze, the look he gave her almost childlike and giving Quinn a small glimpse of how vulnerable he really was.
"Honestly," Quinn said softly as she rubbed his hands, "I'd-I'd read it." Puck looked at her and then back at the letter, his urge to break the flap strong but his fear of what was underneath it stronger.
"I know," Quinn said as she touched his face, "I know that you're scared of what it says, but good or bad Puck you have to read it. You have to know what it says or it will eat you up for the rest of your life." Puck nodded as he fumbled with the flap, going back and forth between sliding it up and down.
"Stay," he said quickly, his grip on her hand tightening, "I want you to…I need you to." Quinn nodded as she watched him turn around, the sound of the envelope breaking open cutting through their silence. She could see his arms moving as he removed the letter, the paper rustling open as Puck read what his father wrote.
If this letter finds you then I'm gone, as I'd hoped to tell you these things face to face one day. Since that doesn't seem to be an option I've filled this paper with the things I wanted to tell you, the things you might not want to hear but I hope you will.
I want you to know how sorry I am, for everything. For leaving you and hurting you, for making you grow up too fast and feel not good enough, for using you and lying, and for all the things I'd done that I can't even imagine. I mean it when I say it, though you probably don't believe me and you have the no right to, that I am sorry Noah, from down deep in my heart. All I ever wanted to give you was a good life, and in order for that to happen I couldn't be a part of it. I know you don't understand when I say that now, but one day when you look at your little girl you will.
I want you to know that I wasn't always sick, I wasn't always a bad guy and always doing bad things. I used to be good, I used to be together, but somewhere along my walk I tripped and unlike you I wasn't strong enough to get back up. I'm not giving you excuses here son, I know I don't have not one, but I want you to know I tried to be good. I wanted to be better and I wanted to be your daddy, but I realized that I was the one who wasn't good enough. I was selfish and I was twisted, and back then my priorities were out of line, but there wasn't a day where my heart didn't find you and your sister.
I want you to know that I didn't come back to hurt you, and I didn't come back to use you, what I came back for was to help you. After you realize you have no future to live for you start looking at the past, analyzing what you did do in comparison to the things you won't ever do, and when I looked back I was proud. Not proud of the drugs and the pain, or the fact that I left and hurt my family, but proud for the fact that I gave you and your sister a chance. A chance for something normal, a chance for something good, a chance to have the life I would never be able to give you. So when I came back I wanted to help you see the truth, see that you didn't need me and that you were a stronger and better man without me. I wanted you to realize that you made it on your on, and that all the good you have and good you've done is solely because of you and your strength. You are a man Noah, one filled with courage and honesty, and I would give anything to be half of the man you are.
I want you to know that I never meant for things to end between us like they did, the thought of you in trouble for my mess making me sick to my stomach. I lived my last few weeks loudly and recklessly, not realizing that you would still go on even when I'm not. I never planned to get you in trouble, I never planned to drag you into it, everything that happened honestly and truly happening because of my own stupid and selfish needs. I never meant to turn you against the ones you love either, I guess I just got a bit jealous of how lucky they are to have you in their life. I hope things between you and your mom and Quinn weren't ruined, because those two women love you more than life itself and you're just as lucky to have them as they are you. The things you said to me that day after it was all over were nothing but words of honesty and truth, and I hope you know that I understood.
But despite all these things I'd like for you to know, here's the few that matter. I need you to know that you and your sister are my everything, and the last few weeks we spent together filled the ache in my chest. That I've never wanted anything but the best for you. That I never meant to hurt you. That I respect you and admire you. That I'm the proudest and luckiest man to call you my son. That I love you.
I hope you go on now and forget me in the past, let me fade with this letter and the flowers on my grave. Forget this pain and this heartache, and all the things we should have said and never did. Move on and raise your baby and be to her the dad you always wanted. Be to her the dad you always needed, the man you made yourself. Love her with everything, just like I've loved you, and never ever let her go.
I love you Noah.
It took Puck a moment to gather himself as he stood there, tears rolling down his cheeks and onto the paper as he stared at the last words from his dad. He knew Quinn could hear but he didn't care anymore, turning to face her as she stepped forward.
"I finally have it," he said as his voice cracked, having waited for years to have those words from his father, the words that would answer his questions and help him understand why it had all happened.
"What?" she asked softly.
"On it." Imogen's cry rang throughout their room as Quinn nudged Puck, it now his turn to wake up and take his baby shift. He wiped his eyes sleepily as he headed for the crib, leaning over the side as she screamed.
"Hey," he whispered as he tugged on her foot, "What's the problem huh? What's all the fuss for?" The baby simply grinned as she grabbed her feet, the third night in a row she had been playing games with her dad. She wasn't hungry and she didn't need a diaper, simply wanting to be held by her daddy as he sang.
"Fine, one more time but your mama's gonna start catching on," he said softly as he picked her up, heading to the rocking chair and sitting down. He began to lowly hum as she wiggled in his arms, Puck smiling as her eyelids fluttered heavily. He watched her and smiled happily, no longer panged with guilt or twinges of sadness. His mind was cleared and his chest no longer ached, his feelings of anger and resentment instead replaced by a calmness. He continued to rock her back and forth while he sang, looking between his little girl and Quinn and feeling for the first time in his life what it was like to truly know peace.