A/N: Just a little (ha!) oneshot future fic. It gets a little borderline M-ish at parts, but not enough to warrant an M rating, I don't think. (Feel free to let me know if you disagree.) Hope you enjoy.

... ... ...

She doesn't even really know if she's breathing. She should probably pay a little more attention to that.

But she can't seem to focus on anything other than the word spelled out in front of her on the test in her hand.

Pregnant.

She most definitely should, but she doesn't think twice about picking up the phone and calling him.

"Hi," she says quietly once he's answered. "I'm pregnant."

She figures if she had to agonize for three minutes as she waited for the result, he can handle the shock of her saying it so bluntly.

... ... ...

He doesn't know if his world stops or starts when he hears those words.

They aren't even together. (They've been together, obviously, since his kid is apparently hanging out in her stomach.) They broke up, though, a year ago.

See, when she learned they would both be in Chicago for school, she made it, like, her mission to make him her friend. Yeah, they were acquaintances from high school, and yeah, maybe he had a weird little (really, little) thing for her while she was dating Finn at the beginning of junior year or whatever, but then Puck and Quinn worked their shit out, so he dated her for a while.

Anyway, Rachel asked for his number and address in Chicago, and he felt only a little bad for giving her fakes. She'd make all kinds of lame theater friends who'd be not nearly as awesome as his sports psychology friends, so she'd be fine without him. Honestly, he didn't really want to deal with her or anyone else from high school. If he were a loser who said shit like this, he would have called it a 'fresh start'.

And really, her ignoring him or glaring at him (those were really her only two settings, apparently) when they were both in Lima on breaks wasn't, like, torture or anything.

Then, one night during their second year in Chicago, he ran into her at a bar, where she was drinking (underage, too, which was funny as hell to him, given that she never broke any rules ever). She'd been stood up by some douche, so Puck knocked back tequila with her, walked her home, and slept on her couch. She fed him breakfast and painkillers in the morning, didn't kick him out, and the two of them watched a John Hughes marathon all day. They ordered Chinese and talked over dinner, and things kind of escalated from there.

That day turned into them exchanging numbers (he gave her his real one; she called him when he was standing right there with her, just to be sure). Then they met for dinner one evening. Then he kissed her on the dance floor at some club and they ended up in his bed for two whole days.

They kind of did that for two years.

They never moved in together, since she loved her place and he hated the idea of giving up his independence. But he loved her, told her and she said it back. They barely spent a night apart, and he agreed to go to her shows, and she ordered the sports package on her cable for him.

But when they fought, it was all big and messy and way too intense for either of them to stay calm. They said things they didn't mean, and Rachel tended to throw things. (Not even badass; she'd throw pillows or tea towels. One time, she legit threw a pair of panties at him, which was hilarious and awesome and pretty much ended the fight, since they were both laughing so hard.)

When the fights started getting serious, Puck was too used to arguing with her to notice anything was honestly wrong.

But Rachel wanted New York and big dreams and to leave Lima behind. She let slip once that dating someone from 'home' wasn't what she'd ever wanted. She tried to take it back, but the damage was done.

He made it really easy for her to get what she'd always wanted, slammed the door on the way out and didn't bother turning around when she called to him down the hall of her apartment building as he headed for the elevator.

He called her a month after that, just hoping to drop off her shit and pick up his from her place.

He still doesn't know how he ended up fucking her against the door.

But that kind of set the precedent. Every month or two, one of them will call the other and they'll fall into bed together. He's never turned her down, and she's always made time for him. He doesn't know what it means, really, because he's still crazy about her and it's probably stupid and unhealthy to keep on like this, but he doesn't really care, because he gets her at least sometimes.

Honestly, when he saw her name on his phone just now, he just assumed that since it's been a little over a month since the last time she came over, she was going to ask him if he wanted to meet up or something.

He was not expecting "I'm pregnant."

... ... ...

He's at her place within 20 minutes. It should only take 10, but he needs some time to like, hyperventilate and pace and stuff, so he's a little delayed in leaving his place.

He feels like he should bring her something. It feels like one of those events where bringing her something would be a really good move. But what the hell do you get a woman that says, 'Hey, you're growing my spawn in your womb, so, you know, thanks.' And it's like, 10:00 at night, and he doesn't even know what's open between his place and hers, other than the place with the crappy pizza, that liquor store, and the 24 hour 'massage parlour' that looks like you could catch crabs from just by touching the door handle.

Nothing good enough for his...

Well...

Rachel. Not good enough for Rachel.

He debates driving around and trying to find flowers or something, but fuck, that just isn't him. And anyway, he doesn't know what she's doing or feeling or planning, because their phone call consisted of her telling him she's pregnant, him blinking about 400 times, then telling her he was going to be over soon.

So he doesn't bring her anything.

She opens the door to her place and she's wearing the most gorgeous fucking thing he's ever seen, and honestly, he's not sure if that helps this whole thing, or hinders. She distracts the hell out of him when she wears shit like this, and she knows it. It's just a silver satin slip that hits her mid-thigh and has some lace or whatever at the top. It's the kind of thing she always sleeps in. It just reminds him of all the nights she spent sleeping beside him.

"Hi," she says, and her voice is all hoarse from crying or whatever.

"Hey." He walks into the apartment and closes the door behind him, locking it as she sits down on the sofa. She's not saying anything, which is obviously really fucking weird for her. "So..."

"So, apparently we're having a baby," she says, looking at him for the first time.

His heart fucking races, and he doesn't think that's normal, but he doesn't know what to do about it.

"Are we...Are we having a baby?" he asks. He's been through this before, this feeling of needing to know whether or not this baby will be born, then whether or not it will be his. His to raise, his to love, his to...

"Yes," she says quietly. She's spinning her ring on her pinky, avoiding looking at him again.

"So you're not...You are having it," he says. Maybe he's being overly thorough, but he needs to know, needs to hear her say it.

"Yes," she repeats. He sits down on the coffee table across from her, which he knows would be completely out of the question if this were any other time. "And I want...I want to keep the baby. Raise him. Or her, I guess"

"Okay," he says. She looks at him like he's crazy, like she wants him to say a lot more. "Okay. Well, cool."

"Cool?" she asks incredulously, tears welling in her eyes. "I'm pregnant - we're pregnant - and all you can say is 'cool'?"

He rolls his eyes. "What do you want me to say?"

"I don't know!" she shouts, throwing her hands up before flopping back against the back of the couch. "Be...be mad! Be upset, or angry or...be Puck!" He smirks at her, which he gathers is the wrong thing, because she glares at him. "You can't just say this is okay."

"Would you really rather I was angry? 'Cause honestly, Rach, you having my kid isn't like, the worst thing I can think of."

She looks at him like he's a fucking hero, and tears roll down her cheeks. "Really?"

He smirks crookedly and nods. "Yeah. So...so it's okay. We'll be okay."

"We aren't together," she says. He clenches his jaw. (She notices, but she knows he thinks she doesn't.) "This is...it's not like we planned this, Noah." He takes a deep breath and stands up. He doesn't want to talk about why they aren't together. He doesn't want to hear all the reasons why this is probably a bad idea. "I don't know how this is going to work."

Okay. So she doesn't know how it's going to work. They're still going to make it work.

"We can figure it out," he says.

Honestly? He thinks that if there's anything that can make her see that she's still in love with him or something, it's this, her having his baby and the two of them forced together because of it. It is not a bad thing, this baby. Not at all. Actually, it might be kind of amazing.

"My fathers are going to kill me," she says, wiping her cheeks. She knows it's silly, because she's nowhere near done crying.

"You?" he asks, pacing the floor in front of her. "I'm the one with the sperm!" She starts laughing. Hard. She clutches her stomach (fuck, that takes on new meaning now, just the act of her touching her stomach). "Why are you laughing?"

He loves her laugh. It's fucking adorable. And her face gets scrunched up and the corners of her eyes crease. She laughs with her whole body. God, he loves that.

She looks up to see the grin on his face. "I'm sorry! I shouldn't be laughing. Don't make me laugh," she manages.

He shakes his head at her. "They're going to hate me. How the hell're we supposed to explain you being knocked up when we broke up forever ago?" he asks, and yeah, it's bitter, because shit, he still doesn't know if that breakup made any sense at all. "You'll be fine. They think the sun shines out your ass."

She rolls her eyes. Sometimes she wonders why no one else can see how dramatic and over the top he can be. "We'll just be honest." He scoffs. "Noah, I'm not going to lie to them."

"Even if honesty kills your baby daddy?" he asks. Holy shit. He's having a kid. Their eyes meet and he thinks he's going to faint or something equally as fucking embarrassing, so he sits down on the coffee table. Maybe using that word just made everything really sink in. "Daddy."

She takes a breath and plays with the bottom of her sweater. "Yeah," she whispers.

He likes to think he's a pretty laid back guy. Usually he is, anyway. He doesn't tend to freak out over much. But he thinks he's panicking right now. Because this could go either way. She wants New York and her name in lights and to be on Broadway by the time she's 25. He doesn't know how, exactly, having a baby would fit into that. Probably not at all. Is she going to end up resenting him for being the one who took that away from her? Shit, he doesn't know if he could deal with that. He can't have her hating him. It's this weird need he has to have her like him. He doesn't know where it comes from or anything, since he basically avoided her as much as possible for the last half of high school and most of the first half of college. And actually, he'd love to have her love him, but he figures like is more realistic.

"I'm sorry," he says, because he really, really fucking hates that he's doing this to her, and he hopes she doesn't. It's weird.

"Noah."

"Rach, you're...This fucks everything up for you," he says, shaking his head. "You wanted to leave. You wanted..."

"It takes two people to make a baby," she reminds him. She lays her hand on his knee, and all he wants is to rest his hand over hers, but he stops himself. "Well, and apparently a completely ineffective birth control pill."

He laughs and looks up to see her smiling. Her eyes are still red, but she's gorgeous anyway. "Think we can sue? Just for like, whatever it costs to raise a kid 'til it's 18?" he jokes. She giggles a little bit, squeezes his knee before pulling her hand away. "We're always careful, though."

She blushes furiously, and she's wondering how he could possibly forget. He looks at her imploringly. "The shower," she says, almost whispering.

He has the audacity to smirk, and she kicks at his ankle a little. "What?" he laughs. "That was fuckin' hot, babe." She rolls her eyes and blushes a little more. "You know how much I love your shower."

"Yes, well, let's never tell our child he or she was conceived that way, alright?"

"Better a shower than a pinball machine," he mumbles.

"What?"

"Nothing." He watches as she takes a deep breath and more tears well in her eyes. God, she's breaking his heart with that shit. "Hey," he says, leaning forward, resting his hands on the outside of her thighs just above her knees. "It's okay. It'll be okay."

"I'm scared," she admits. Her hands come up to sit just below his elbows, and she looks him in the eye. The thing with Noah is that it's always been so easy to read him, just based on his eyes. They're very green right now, which she knows is how they get when he's emotional. "Are you scared?"

"Fuckin' terrified," he says, and she chokes out a laugh. He stands, grabbing her arm and pulling her up with him. He wraps his arms around her, and he can feel her holding his shirt tightly at his chest. "We'll figure it out. And our kid will be kickass."

"Stop making me laugh," she says, her shoulders shaking. He kisses her temple, kind of lingers there, and she thinks she might hold him a little tighter. "Will you stay?"

"I'm not going anywhere," he promises her seriously, pulling away to give her a look. "You won't be able to drag me away from this kid."

As much as that soothes her worries, it's not what she meant.

"I mean tonight," she says quietly. "Will you stay tonight?"

Shit, he'd rent a U-Haul and move his stuff in if he thought she'd go for it. "Yeah. You know I love this couch."

(It was always a running joke, how often he'd fall asleep on that couch, no matter what time of day.) She laughs and tries not to make note of how adorable he looks right now.

"Noah, we made a baby. I think we can share a bed for an evening," she says. When she looks up at him, she makes sure she looks very serious. "Just to sleep. Just..."

"Come on," he laughs. "You really think I'd put the moves on you right now?" Her laugh echoes through the apartment and he rolls his eyes. "Okay, fine. But I won't."

She slips her hand into his and pulls him down the hall to the bedroom. He watches as she tugs back the duvet and pulls her hair into a ponytail, and he cannot help but smile for a few reasons. One, they used to do this every night, and he fucking misses it, just the routine of getting ready for bed (shut up; once you get used to it, it's really fucking nice). Two, her nightgown rides up when she raises her arms, so he gets a peek at a little more leg, which is never, ever a bad thing. And three, when she bends over to fluff her pillow, he gets a straight shot down her nightgown. All good things.

He pulls his shirt over his head, and she's laying down on her back, trying not to look like she's staring. She really adores him for how amazing he's being about all this. She really didn't know what to expect, to be honest. She thought he might be angry, upset or sad or something. She really did not think he would be happy, which is certainly how it seems. She ignores the voice in her head telling her that it's because maybe this is something he wanted.

She's not blind, and she's not stupid. Since they broke up, he's been subtly or not-so-subtly trying to show her that he never wanted to break up, that he thinks they should still be together. She's not convinced.

The baby complicates things.

It's not that she doesn't love Noah. She does. She loves him for the two years they spent together and all the amazing times they had. She loves him because he'd do anything for her, make her happy any way he knew how. She thinks if she asked him to, he'd probably move in with her or something. Not that it's what she wants, but it's good to know. And she really, really hopes she hasn't been doing this, keeping up this relationship with him just because he lets her, because he'll do anything she asks.

She is far too confused and emotional to really consider all this right now. When he slips into bed next to her and his elbow grazes hers, her breath hitches. Here he is, this wonderfully understanding man who's taking all this so well.

And he's the father of her child. Their child.

She wonders how long it will take to get used to the idea of having this baby.

She lays there in the dark for a while after she's switched off the light. She can hear the city outside, the sirens, the traffic, and she thinks it might be raining. But none of that is as clear as the sound of his breathing, the sheets rustling every time he moves.

She's not sure how long she lays there, thinking about him, about raising this baby with him, about how much she loved him not all that long ago. She can feel her heart beating fast, a steady throbbing between her legs, and she rolls onto her side. She can't tell if he's asleep or not. When she runs her hand along his stomach, just above the band of his boxers, she hears him suck in a breath.

"Rachel." His hand comes up to rest on hers, but not to stop her. He pushes it lower. But then he wraps his fingers around hers, holding her hand against his skin. She knows he was half asleep before, woke up and came to his senses.

"I want to," she says quietly, lifting her leg and draping it over his. "Please."

"Baby, I don't know if..."

She lays herself out on top of him and kisses him, traces his bottom lip with his tongue. "Noah, I just want to be close to you," she tells him. She thinks he's still trying to resist, even as his hands skim up her body beneath her nightgown. "With everything..."

"Okay." He cuts her off, kisses her, then pulls her nightgown up and off her.

"This doesn't change anything."

He doesn't know if she's talking about the baby or the sex, but he thinks she's lying either way.

He looks at her like she's crazy. "It changes everything."

He knows it's probably a bad idea. After everything that's happened tonight, she's feeling emotional and probably exposed or something.

But she's having his kid, and he figures this is just the start of his doing absolutely anything he can for her and that baby.

... ... ...

It's pretty hard to concentrate for the next two or three or however many days. Mostly because every time his mom starts talking at him (woman seriously calls like, once a day), he's pretty sure the best way to shut her up and maybe make her faint would be to tell her he knocked up her favourite Jew. He's wanted to call Rachel about four hundred times a day and ask her if he can tell at least one person, Finn or someone. But she's all about waiting until their doctor's appointment before even thinking of telling people, and even then, she wants to wait until the three month mark.

He's going to go insane. He just knows it.

Also, if his mom finds out Rachel is three months pregnant and he hasn't said anything? Well, he might have more to worry about there than with Rachel's dads. That woman is going to be ridiculous.

He hasn't seen Rachel since that night. Well, the morning after, when he realized he had to work, and therefore leave, and he woke her up by saying her name quietly and running his hand lightly over her bare stomach. She'd let out that cute little noise she always makes when she wakes up, pressed her palm against his cheek and told him she'd call him. And maybe he should have demanded more, but what else could he ask of her at that point?

So yeah, he wants to see her, and he wants to talk more about this baby, and he cannot fucking wait to go to this appointment.

It's all a little familiar and he's experienced it, sort of, before. This is obviously way, way different. For one, he honestly never loved Quinn anything close to the way he loved (loves) Rachel. Then, of course, there's the fact that he's not 16 and his best friend hasn't been convinced the baby is his.

Puck gets to go to all the appointments and be a part of everything, and Rachel wants him to, which is one of the most amazing things.

... ... ...

She's wearing his favourite skirt of all time when he picks her up at her place. No lie, this thing is roughly as big as a belt and it's black, white and grey plaid, and she's wearing this tight black tank top with it. She looks so hot. That's his first thought. His second thought is questioning whether a pregnant chick should dress like that. You know, because other dudes should not be able to see how scary hot she is, not when she's carrying Puck's kid. He is not stupid enough to say that to her.

"You look fuckin' awesome," he says instead, and she rolls her eyes as she buckles her seat belt.

"Thank you, I guess."

He reaches over and drags his knuckle over her bare thigh right below the hem of her skirt. She flexes the muscle a little. "I love this skirt."

"I know," she nearly whispers. She rests her hand over his for a moment, then pulls it off her thigh and lets go. "We should go. Our appointment is in a half hour and it takes at least 20 minutes to get there."

He doesn't argue with her, doesn't tell her to just lighten up and enjoy these little moments. Even if enjoying the moment would have meant hauling her back into her apartment and pushing her back into her mattress and having sex with her while she's still wearing that skirt. It wouldn't be the first time. He fucking loves that skirt.

He knows they need to talk about how, exactly they're going to do all this, but right now, they just need to get to this appointment and find out some stuff about this kid.

The doctor's office isn't really like most of the ones he's ever been in. The walls are pale yellow with lilies and shit painted on them, and all the magazines are pregnancy and parenting ones, which he supposes makes sense. He doesn't really care about that. He cares that there are half a dozen pregnant women in the waiting room who are all looking at him like he's the best man in the world for coming to this appointment with his girlfriend.

What? They don't know, and he's not going to correct them. Launching into an 'Oh, we're not together. We used to be, but we broke up and still fuck from time to time because there are still feelings there even if she wants to ignore it like a crazy person, but yeah, we're having a kid,' explanation would probably be inappropriate and really piss Rachel off. So he just smiles a little and sits down as Rachel talks to the receptionist, then comes to sit beside him. He leafs through a parenting magazine, but nothing can hold his attention.

After 10 minutes of waiting, Rachel places her hand on his bouncing knee and glares at him. "Stop fidgeting," she hisses. "You're driving me crazy."

"The fuck's with this waiting? Wasn't our appointment for like, right now?"

"Don't curse in front of all these women, and just calm down, alright? This is one of the best doctors in town. There's bound to be a wait," she explains. He rolls his eyes and tips his head back against the wall. "What is your problem?" she laughs.

"I'm just...I dunno. I'm excited," he says. The woman who's like, massively preggers lets out an 'aww' and makes this face at him. He thinks she might be tearing up or something.

Rachel laughs again and sets her hand on his thigh. He wonders if it's because she's jealous of this other woman like, swooning and stuff.

"You're sweet," Rachel says, and she doesn't pull her hand away when he weaves his fingers together with hers.

When she doesn't say anything else, he knows something's up with her. "Aren't you excited?"

"No, of course I am," she says. "I'm just..."

"Puckerman?" the receptionist calls, clipboard in hand.

Puck looks at Rachel and raises his brow. She shrugs her shoulder. "Your baby, your name," she says, and she gives him this perfect smile as she walks past him and follows the nurse down the hall.

His baby, his name. God, she's doing all of this so well already. At least he thinks so.

The appointment itself is pretty boring. The doctor runs a couple tests and confirms pretty quickly that Rachel is, in fact, pregnant. She asks a series of questions, like if Rachel has had any symptoms yet, and when Rachel says that she's just been a little tired lately, the doctor actually chuckles and outlines the things Rachel can expect. Puck pulls a face at the nausea part, and tries not to look too happy about the bigger boobs part.

The doctor leaves the room for a few minutes before coming back with the baby's due date, April 6th, just a few days after Rachel's birthday.

She's quiet until they're back in his truck, and he doesn't start the car right away.

"Rach." She turns to him quickly. "You okay?"

"I'm...I'm a little overwhelmed," she admits. "This is really happening."

"We knew it was." He turns to her. "You're still...You haven't changed your mind?"

"No!" she answers quickly, looking over at him. "No, of course not. We're having this baby. I mean, if that's what you want, I..."

"Yeah, yeah," he says. "Yeah, that's what I want."

"Good," she whispers, resting her hand on her stomach.

"C'mere," he says, holding his arm open. She slides across the seat and wraps her arms around him, kind of desperately, not that he's complaining. He just hugs her back and kind of buries his face in her neck a little bit. "We're good. This is good."

She laughs a little bit and pulls away, wiping at her eyes. "We are not good," she tells him, still laughing even though she's pretty much kicking him in the nads. "This is crazy."

"We'll be fine," he tells her, hand smoothing down the hair at the side of her head. "I mean, 'til we tell my mom and she like, hugs us to death or something."

She giggles and lets him wipe her cheeks. "I'm sorry. I'm so..."

"Whatever. Quit crying," he says, because he really doesn't want to hear her say she's just emotional and this doesn't mean anything. He can't hear her tell him all he is to her is the guy who fathered her kid. "Want me to buy you dinner or something?"

She laughs again and slips back into her own seat. "Funny," she says. "Most guys have to say that before they manage to get the girl pregnant."

He tips his head back, chuckles and casts a glance her way. "You know I'm an overachiever."

She laughs so hard she's crying again.

... ... ...

Two months in, Rachel keeps complaining about her bloated stomach (he loves it) and her stupid sickness that always comes, inconveniently, in the middle of the night (that's gross, and he's pretty sure he's not usually around for it) and her craving for foods she's sworn off for years.

So what does he do? He buys her a shirt (he doesn't know what the fuck kind of shirt to buy, so he gets one he likes and fumbles his way through explaining Rachel's size to the chick in Banana Republic). He gets her peppermint tea and saltines, 'cause he Googled the throwing up thing and one of the bajillion baby sites said it might help. And he brings her a roast beef sandwich one Saturday after work and tells her he doesn't give a fuck if she hasn't eaten red meat since she was 14, if his kid wants it, his kid gets it.

And then she scarfs the thing down and is basically making orgasmic sounds and thanking him after every bite, so he gets a little turned on. By a fucking sandwich. Well, the woman eating it, but whatever.

He's slept over a couple times (on the couch, fuck his life) when they've been hanging out, talking about things.

("I am not naming our baby Thor."

"Why not? It's awesome!"

"You're an idiot.")

("Hell. Fucking. No. Kurt cannot be godfather."

"You're being unreasonable."

"Dude would dress my kid in pastels and argyle. No."

"All baby clothes are pastel, and what's wrong with argyle?")

("You think it'll be a boy? A boy'd be awesome. Just like his pops."

"I think a girl. She could be like me."

"Christ. No one wants that."

"Noah!"

"What? You're one of a kind, baby, and it should stay that way.")

She won't even share her bed with him, even though they used to do it all the time and, you know, he knocked her up. She talks about blurring the lines or whatever, and he rolls his eyes, but still never just leaves and drives home if she tells him he can stay. He thinks it's a little weird that the first night they found out she was knocked up, she told him sharing a bed wasn't a problem. But then again, they ended up having sex in the middle of the night, so maybe she has a point.

And the couch is super comfortable.

He hears her get up and run into the bathroom in the middle of the night, because he's always been a light sleeper and any little noise can wake him up. So when he pads into the bathroom wearing just his boxers and sees her hunched over the toilet, he tries not to startle her when he gathers her hair and kneels down behind her, so she's kind of between his knees as she throws up. It's probably the second worst feeling in the world, not being able to do anything but like, rub her back. (Second only to actually being the one throwing up.)

"You okay?" he asks during a lull in her heaving. She shoots him an incredulous look. "I mean, yeah, no, since you're barfing, but..."

"I'm alright," she interrupts. "I think...I think I'm done." She looks embarrassed, but he rubs a circle on her back, because she shouldn't be worried about this. Shit, he's seen her throw up before. "I'm sorry I woke you up."

"Shut up," he says, rolling his eyes. (That's Puck-speak for 'don't worry about that'.) He stands and reaches for the antacids in her medicine cabinet, squeezes some toothpaste onto her toothbrush for her and helps her stand. "Okay?"

She nods and takes the toothbrush from him, mumbles a thank you as she brushes her teeth. He sits down at the edge of the tub and watches her, just in case she has to throw up again. He watches the lean lines of her back as she holds her hair in one hand and leans over the sink, spitting her toothpaste out and rinsing it away. She crunches a couple antacids, wincing at the chalky texture, and turns around to face him.

"Cool?" he asks. She nods and smoothes out her nightgown. "Alright. Go back to bed."

He stands up and she reaches for his hand. She doesn't know why, but she doesn't want him to walk away and leave her alone. Maybe it's the hormones or the fact that she really just hates sleeping alone, but she doesn't want him to spend the rest of the night on the couch. She watches as he looks at their hands, then back at her.

"Stay with me," she says, and he just nods slowly and pulls her towards the bedroom. He lays her down gently, tucking the sheets up around her chest list how she likes before walking around to the other side of the bed. "Thank you, Noah."

"No prob, babe," he says. He kisses her temple, lets his lips linger there, and she closes her eyes.

She honestly has tried not to think about what this all means for them as a couple. She just wants to make it through month three, when the chances of (god forbid) a miscarriage are significantly decreased, then she'll worry about everything. She knows he's going to be involved (obviously; he just watched her throw up for five minutes) and she knows there's no way he'd ever abandon his child, no matter what happens between them as a couple. She's trying not to let herself think that's a really, really strong suggestion that he should just be her boyfriend again.

But they broke up for a reason. They never seemed to be on the same page, never seemed to want the same things. He wants to make something of himself and she wants to make everything of herself, and there's no way they could ever work. They've never been reaching for the same things, never honestly thought they could have what they both wanted while they were together.

But then, even though he's asleep (she can always tell) he curls his body around hers, hand sliding over her stomach, and as her fingers tangle together with his, she realizes they both want on very important thing right now. This baby. They both want it so badly. She wouldn't choose anyone else to father her children.

Maybe that counts for more than anything else.

... ... ...

It's really, really fucked up the way they end up sleeping together next. It's right after their second doctor's appointment, after they hear the heartbeat. Rachel totally cried and Puck totally pretended it wasn't nearly as awesome as it actually was. Rachel starts talking about telling her dads and his mom, and he freaks out a little bit again, because if her dads don't kill him, his mom's happiness will certainly come close. Not only is Puck giving her a legit grandkid, but it's with Rachel, who she's always loved. And who is Jewish. There's a good chance she'll like, move to Chicago so she can be close and spoil the kid or something.

Anyway, he takes her to his place so they can call all the parents together and talk and he can apologize to her dads or whatever. That part's not so necessary, since her dads have always kind of liked him (totally weird) and actually seem pretty excited. His mom starts crying and talking really fast in unfinished sentences, and Rachel grabs the phone from him and talks to his mom for (no fucking lie) an hour and a half while he watches SportsCenter and deliberates on what kind of food to order for dinner.

Rachel sits down next to him after hanging up, leans her head on his shoulder and rests her hand over her stomach.

"That went well," she says quietly.

"Yeah."

"You don't think so?"

"I think my mom's a psycho and your dads trust me way too much, considering," he says. "I mean, not that I'm complaining, because shit, I'd rather that than them hating me for knocking you up out of wedlock, but..."

"Stop talking," she insists, laughing a little bit. She looks at the television. "Can we watch something else?"

"Sure," he says, handing her the remote.

She switches through channels as he asks her what she wants to eat and she teases him about not cooking for her. He would. He really would. He's just exhausted from the day, from work and the doctor's appointment and talking to their parents. Cooking is just about the last thing he wants to do. She suggests Indian and he turns his nose up; not in the mood. Mexican will make her barf, even if her 'morning' sickness is almost gone, and Italian, she deems 'too heavy', whatever the fuck that means. He tells her he's either getting Chinese or pizza, and she excitedly tells him she needs egg rolls with sweet and sour sauce, or she'll positively die. He jokes that yes, it's been her craving for at least thirty seconds, so clearly she can't live without it, and she throws a pillow at his head as he dials.

He loves this baby for about a million reasons, not the least of which is that it's brought her around more. They're spending all this time together, and even if she's not ready to be with him yet, he still gets to be around her.

When he sits back down, setting plates on the table so he doesn't have to get them when their food arrives, he sees that she's watching The Way We Were on some movie channel. This movie is one of her favourites (he doesn't even know how many times she's seen it) and it always, always, always makes her cry, no matter what. Probably even more now, considering the ending.

Only he's not gonna be a deadbeat who never knows his kid, not like this Hubbell dude. No way is some other guy going to step in and raise this baby.

They eat as they watch, and he doesn't even complain about the fact that he's seen this with her at least 10 times. He drapes his arm around her when she tears up and laughs when she does (more because her laugh is kind of infectious than because he thinks anything about this movie is funny.)

"You know I was named for this movie? Because Katie names her baby Rachel."

"Yeah, babe, I know. You tell me every time we watch this."

She lets out a huff, like she's offended that he didn't just go along and act impressed, so he laughs a little and pulls her a little closer. She doesn't fight him on it.

She kisses him at the end, just as the credits are rolling, and he doesn't push her away nearly as quickly as he should. He doesn't want to push her away at all.

"Rach."

"Noah," she whispers, tears in her eyes. "I don't want us to be like that."

"No worries," he tells her seriously. "Redford's a douche. I take care of my kid. Okay? Don't even...I'm not walking away from this."

She kisses him again, harder, and moves herself onto his lap, and when he carries her into the bedroom he's pretty sure it's a bad idea, but he doesn't give a fuck because he loves her and he knows she loves him, even if she can't admit it yet.

She breathes out a thank you after, when she's laying against his side, and he laughs and slips his hand between her legs again. No way is he going to let her get away with doing this just one time tonight.

(He never knows when it'll happen again, so he wants to take advantage of the fact that she wants him right now.)

... ... ...

When he wakes up the next morning he's alone in his bed, which really fucking sucks, because he really loves waking up with her. She does this cute as hell thing in the morning, where she lays on her back and stretches her arms over her head, lets out this little noise, then usually kisses his cheek to wake him up. (90 per cent of the time, he's faking sleep just so she'll do it, but she doesn't need to know that. He thinks she might anyway. If she does, she doesn't say anything about it.)

But then he smells bacon and coffee, so he gets up and pulls on a pair of sweats. He's running a hand over his face when he sees her standing there in his kitchen, hair in a loose braid over her shoulder and one of his button down shirts engulfing her tiny frame. She's standing at the stove with her back to him, so naturally, he walks over and slides his hands around her waist, clasps them on her stomach. He kisses her temple and she tenses a little.

"Noah, please," she says, shrugging a little.

Oh, hell no. Shrugging him off? Not happening.

"C'mon. Can't I kiss on my baby momma a little bit?" he teases. He backs away and leans against the counter next to the stove so he's facing her. She's focused on the food. "What?"

"Nothing," she says, flipping a piece of french toast. "I just don't think this should keep happening. It just complicates everything."

He scoffs and raises his brow. "You mean more than the fact that we're having a kid?" She sighs dramatically, closes her eyes. "Rachel, this situation is messed up. I'm not sleeping with anyone else. I don't think you're sleeping with anyone else." He furrows his brow and clenches his fist. "I fucking hope you're not sleeping with anyone else."

"I'm not," she tells him. She's obviously not amused that he needed her to tell him that, but whatever. Forgive him for making sure.

"No reason we can't sleep together." He shrugs his shoulder and plucks a hashbrown from the pan. It's hot and he nearly burns his mouth, but he doesn't care.

"Except for the fact that we aren't actually together," she reminds him.

"Look, you know sex is vital to my survival. The fact that I haven't fucked anyone else in like, months is pretty impressive," he tells her. She looks at him with her eyes narrowed, puts her hand on her hip.

"When did you last sleep with someone else?" she asks. Fuck. Dammit! He probably shouldn't have said that. "When, Noah?"

"Uh, like...I dunno. When was Matt's birthday?" he asks. "February."

Her eyes flash with anger and she sets her jaw. "Who did you sleep with?"

This is not going to end well. It's just not.

She's always been jealous of Santana. Always. He thinks it's pretty fucked up, since Santana is studying to be a lawyer, so she's in school for like, another hundred years. She's also got that fucked up sexuality thing where she honestly can't decide whether she's straight, gay or bi. Not that he has a problem with any of those things, but fuck, even he wants her to just figure it out already. But he and Santana have been fucking off and on since they were like, 14, and she's the one woman Rachel has actually admitted to being jealous of. It doesn't help that Santana is totally jealous of Rachel, too. He's pretty sure that when Santana finds out about the baby, he's going to have to watch super carefully so San doesn't scratch Rachel's eyes out or something. For whatever reason, Santana has always thought of him as 'hers', and when he started dating Rachel, the shit kind of hit the fan.

It doesn't help that when he and Rachel broke up, he went home for a week or so, and he and Santana ended up sleeping together several times, and she's enough of a bitch that she called Rachel and fucking told her.

And Puck's too much of an idiot to just never go near her again after she tried to fuck his life several times. So when he went to Lima in February for Matt's birthday party and Santana was all up on him, he didn't say no.

"You know who, Rach, don't fucking play."

She laughs humourlessly and drops the spatula she's been holding onto the stove top. "Unbelievable." She shakes her head and stares at him. "You know, you want me to trust you, but..."

"Oh, whatever, Rachel. As if you didn't fuck that Troy guy."

"He and I were dating!"

"You slept with me after one of those dates," he says smugly.

"Troy and I were never exclusive."

"You and I were broken up when I slept with her!" he almost shouts. She turns her back on him, and he fucking hates it when she does that. He can read her face like a book, but her body language has always been all over the place. So he grabs her arm gently and turns her so she's facing him. "You're awfully jealous for someone who doesn't want to be with me."

"I'm not jealous," she spits dangerously. "You're the father of my child, and I don't want that whore anywhere near my baby."

He smirks, which is probably the wrong thing to do, but he doesn't care. "Name calling, babe? Really?"

"Don't call me that, and she is a whore," she tells him, eyes locked with his.

"I call you 'babe' all the time."

She rolls her eyes dramatically and turns back to the stove, shaking the pan a little harder than she has to. "I hope you used protection."

"Okay, now you're just being a bitch," he tells her. "You know I take care of my shit."

She glares at him and points to her stomach. "Clearly."

He's grinding his teeth so hard it hurts his jaw. "That's a fuckin' low blow, Rachel."

"Yes, well, I think I have a point."

Maybe she does. He's not sure. He just knows this fight is stupid. How did they go from talking about them not sleeping together anymore to talking about the other people they've slept with? What relevance does that have to anything? He's trying to prove he doesn't want anyone else, and she's taking it the wrong way completely. The thought of her sleeping with anyone else pisses him off, so he can't really blame her for being upset about him sleeping with Santana. Honestly, though, they aren't together, and if she was fucking some dude it wouldn't be any of his business, if not for the fact that she's knocked up.

Rachel is aware that it's selfish and unreasonable for her to want him to not sleep with other women when she's telling him he can't sleep with her anymore. What does she expect from him, really? He's a man, and he's Puck, so she can't expect him to just not have sex. But she does.

Call her crazy, but she knows what he wants (to be with her), and she thinks if that's what he wants, then sleeping with other women isn't exactly helping his case. How is she supposed to trust him when he tells her he wants her (he only ever says it when they're in bed, and she knows he thinks that'll disguise how he means the words) when he can't turn down his ex-girlfriend? She knows he never cheated on her when they were actually together, and she doesn't think he ever would, but this isn't helping.

"This is ready," she says quietly. "Get plates."

They're quiet as they eat, and she tries not to notice the way he stabs his food a little harder than he needs to. When she runs out of juice, he gets up and refills her glass without her asking. She can tell there's a lot he wants to say, a lot he wants her to say. She doesn't know how they're going to do this co-parenting thing when they still have these angry fights that leave them bitter and silent. She's starting to think they don't work as just friends. They've never been just friends.

And she hates that they could have such a great day, like the one they had yesterday, and then be arguing not even 12 hours later. They're volatile together, and yes, that's because they're both passionate people, but she doesn't think it's very stable or healthy.

He's chewing on his last piece of bacon when he finally makes eye contact. "We're bad Jews," he tells her, smirking. He can tell she doesn't want to smile, she just can't help it. "And nourishing the baby with this? Don't tell mom."

She bites the inside of her lip and plays with the bottom of the shirt she's wearing. "I'm sorry I overreacted," she tells him.

This is how their fights go. They argue and yell and say stupid things, then one of them makes a joke or says something neutral, then the apologies come.

"It's okay."

She shakes her head. "No, it's not. But you know how I feel about her, and you always go back to her. It makes me crazy. Especially now. The thought of you with her, touching her..."

"Rach," he says, leaning towards her a little, "would it matter if it was her, or someone else?"

The blunt nature of his question startles her a little bit, and she's looking at him when she answers. "I don't know," she admits quietly. "But I...I don't really want to find out."

Her eyes are pleading and she hopes he understands. She's asking him not to sleep with anyone. She knows it's selfish, but they're having a baby, and she thinks maybe it's not all that crazy for her to ask this of him.

"So you don't want me to be with anyone else, but you're not gonna put out." She shrugs one shoulder, hoping it's cute enough to convince him. "That's...Rachel..."

"Well, would you want me to sleep with someone else?"

The scowl on his face almost makes her laugh. "What! Fuck no! You're pregnant."

"So just because it's my body this baby is growing in, I'm expected to be celibate, but you can..."

"No one's telling you to be celibate. I'm telling you to stay away from other dudes' dicks and only ride mine."

She makes a face and turns her head. "Could you be more vile? Honestly, Noah, you don't have to be so crude."

He smirks and gets up, moving to stand behind her, and he runs his hands over her shoulders, kneading lightly. "Come on, Rach," he says, voice low like he knows she likes. "You know you love it when I talk like that."

"I do not, and stop trying to seduce me," she says evenly, shrugging her shoulder, trying to get him to stop.

"Now, see, that implies that you're seduceable." He leans down, kisses the underside of her jaw. "Admit it. You love the dirty talk."

"Noah, please. I really don't think..." His hand skims down from her shoulder and unbuttons the first button of her shirt, the one that sits right between her breasts, and she takes a breath and closes her eyes.

"If you could stop fucking me, you would have done it when we broke up," he tells her. She thinks he's right, but she doesn't want to admit it. "But you can't, 'cause you love having sex with me as much as I love having sex with you." His hands push the now unbuttoned shirt off her shoulders so it's gathered at her elbows, and both hands come down off her shoulders, one on her stomach and one on her breast. "We both know I'm the best you ever had."

He's kissing along her neck, the tops of her shoulders, licking and sipping and pushing his hand a little further down until his fingertip is sliding along the top of her panties, and she can't argue his claim, because it's true. She's told him several times. He's also told her she's better than the rest of the women he's been with.

She doesn't know if she can blame the hormones, but if he asks, that's what she's going to tell him. She pushes his hand down a little further and says his name again, her other hand coming up to rest on the back of his neck.

"Yeah," he whispers. "Yeah, you want me."

"We still need to talk," she says, even as she spreads her legs for him. He's still behind her and they haven't kissed yet. "And this...this is still a bad idea. I mean, physically, it's...God, we're so good together," she admits. He laughs, and she feels the breath come out on her skin. She closes her eyes tight as his fingers move over her. "But every other way..."

He turns her head and kisses her, and she's sure it's just to shut her up, but she lets him do it anyway. He pulls her to her feet and pushes the shirt off her as he walks them back to the bedroom.

She needs to be stronger. They'll never actually talk about anything if she continues to let him use sex as a distraction from their problems.

... ... ...

The next few weeks are filled with a lot of decisions. First, Rachel gets a job at a theater agent's office, which she figures will be good for a lot of reasons. She tells them she's pregnant and they don't seem to mind that she'll be on maternity leave. She thinks it's nice of them to give her a chance, and when she tells them she's actually a performer, it seems to pique their interest, so she thinks maybe her life on stage doesn't have to end just because she's going to be a mother.

Puck finds work as a personal trainer and sports psychology consultant at one of the biggest gyms in Chicago, and he's pretty damn pleased with the amount of money he's making. Way more than the job he had been working. The money is really great, since he's going to have a baby to support, and if Rachel thinks he's not going to support her, too, she's completely wrong.

Rachel is still adamant on them not being together in any way, and Puck realizes that if he fucks anyone else, she'll never trust him again, and he really needs her to. Even if she doesn't take him back, he needs her to trust him for the sake of their baby. So he gets pretty acquainted with his right hand, and yes, he makes sure she knows that piece of information. She laughs and tells him congratulations, and he doesn't love that so much, but he puts up with it, because she's Rachel, and she's having his baby, and it's really hard to stay mad at her. Always has been.

They decide they're going to travel to Lima in a couple weeks and spend a weekend at home with their parents, talking about the baby and their plans. They don't have set plans, really, just that they're doing this together. Puck knows he can't just tell her dads he's going to wing it, so he sets up a bank account and starts putting money aside for whatever stuff they're going to have to buy and pay for. Rachel smiles all sweet and stuff when he tells her that, so he thinks it's probably a good move.

When she stays at his place, she takes the bed and he's relegated to the couch. When he sleeps at her place, it's the same thing. Sure, they could just, you know, not spend the night at each others' apartments, but there's no way he's going to let her drive home late at night, and he's always got some excuse (one he knows she sees through, but never makes mention of) why he can't go home. One night she jokes that they should just move in together, and he raises his brow and smirks like that's not a terrible idea. Really? He can think of about a million worse things.

He calls her one night after dark when he's thinking about her how he thinks about her at least once a day (she's literally the star of all his fantasies) and practically begs her to talk to him. She tries to act disgusted, but when he tells her how badly he wants her and his voice is all low and gruff, she lets out this little moan. "Phone sex doesn't count," he says, and she agrees, so they get each other off, and he's pretty sure she doesn't mean to say that she wishes he was there with her, but he hears her loud and clear. He doesn't say anything about it, though, because he really is trying to respect her whole sex embargo thing, even if it means he's practically coming down with carpal tunnel.

They exchange keys to one another's apartments (again), because he wants her to always know she can come over whenever (it's that trust thing; he thinks that if she realizes she's not going to like, walk in on him with another woman, it'll definitely help his case) and she wants him to be able to check in on her if he wants to.

She tells him one afternoon as they eat lunch on a little patio that she thinks things are going very, very well. He doesn't argue. They are, he supposes, even if he'd rather they were actually together. Half the time he thinks she wants it, too, but she's just scared they'll break up again and it'll be messy. He can see her point, he just doesn't agree with it. She said she never wanted to be with someone from home, but she's stuck with him forever now, anyway, and they're fucking awesome together when they want to be. And he wants to be.

He's really hoping she'll see that.

... ... ...

The night before they leave for Lima, she decides it's silly for him to pick her up in the morning when she could just sleep at his place and they can get on the road as soon as they're done breakfast.

It's quiet when she lets herself into his place, and she closes the door and sets her bag down. She honestly doesn't think he's home, then she realizes he wouldn't leave the lights on if he wasn't, so maybe he's just assumes he's...Well, she doesn't know what he's doing.

"Noah?" she calls out as she walks down the hall. She pushes open the bedroom door and gasps when she sees him on his bed, naked, with his hand around his length. She turns around quickly and covers her eyes with her hand. "Why didn't you answer me? God, Noah!"

He laughs a little bit (she doesn't know how someone can laugh while doing that). "Nothing you haven't seen before, baby."

"Stop...stop that," she pleads. "I'm going..."

"Can't stop now," he tells her, voice breathy. He's staring at her in her jeans and tee shirt, and he doesn't know how, but in the last few days since he's seen her, it seems her stomach has grown and she actually looks pregnant now. To him, anyway. "Don't go."

"Noah, I am not staying here while you..."

"You can do it," he says. Her jaw drops and she makes the mistake of turning around. She puts her hands on her hips, which just draws his attention to her stomach, and he strokes his length slowly, letting his eyes fall closed.

She watches him with a little fascination. She's always found this act to be particularly erotic, but she never told him that because she knows he'd have a field day with it. She can't say she hasn't thought of him doing this in the past few weeks. He's been so insistent that she know about it, after all. And her hormones are all over the place, and she seems to only ever think of him in these sexual situations. She doesn't think anyone could fault her for that, considering he looks the way he does and she's had him the way she's had him.

"I will not."

"I'll do you. Not sex, just...Please, baby, use your hand." She bites her bottom lip and watches for a moment. "C'mere."

She should say no, but she can't deny her body's reaction to him, and when he takes his free hand and runs it over her stomach, curving his hand over the bump there, she actually moans, and he's smiling at her. She replaces his hand with her own and twists her wrist a couple times, just like she's always known drives him crazy.

They don't have sex, though not for lack of trying on his part, but they both end up naked on his bed, and when she's coming down, breathing heavily, she tenses as he kisses his way down her body. Just hands, she'd said, no mouths. She's about to tell him to stop when he starts peppering light kisses to her stomach and smoothing his hands over her skin, and he looks up at her and smiles. They haven't kissed, not on the lips, but she takes his face in her hands, brings him back up to her level, and kisses him once, softly.

She pulls on the nightgown she keeps at his place, and he's sleeping in his bed, so she lays down next to him and switches the light off. She sleeps better than she has in weeks, and she really doesn't want to question why. (She doesn't have to, since she already knows the answer.)

... ... ...

Their weekend in Lima goes off without a hitch, though his mom is insane and Rachel's dads are so excited Puck thinks their faces have to hurt from smiling. He doesn't know how their parents can be so cool about this, since Rachel has told them all that the two of them aren't together, despite the fact that they're having a baby.

(His mom pulls him aside after dinner one night, when Rachel and Hannah are talking about the baby, and tells him she just knows they'll get back together. She just knows it. Puck tries to pretend she's crazy, rolls his eyes and sighs, but he really, really hopes she's right.)

Her dads have bought a couple little things already, little outfits that were 'too cute to resist', and Rachel practically cries over the tiny little clothes. Puck just tries to remind himself that yes, babies really are that small, and he realizes for the hundredth time that he'll actually get to hold this one and dress it and rock it to sleep at night. That thought never fails to make his stomach turn over in a really good way.

They have lunch with Matt and his fiancée, and the women practically bawl their eyes out as they talk about the baby, which Puck and Matt think is pretty fucked up. They console their women and Puck makes an off-the-cuff remark about Elizabeth getting pregnant, and Matt kicks him so hard beneath the table that they all laugh while Puck rubs his shin.

Rachel falls asleep holding his hand on the drive back to Chicago. Puck is reminded of all the times they've made this drive, then he thinks of all the times they'll make it after the baby is born. He pets the steering wheel of his truck a little bit, because he knows he won't be able to keep it much longer. Then he glances at the woman sleeping next to him, a pillow pressed between her head and the window, her free hand over her stomach, and he realizes that any sacrifice he has to make is going to be totally worth it.

... ... ...

They're shopping for maternity clothes.

How she convinced him this was something he should come along for, he still doesn't know.

In his defense, the shirt she's wearing is low cut, and this pregnancy has made her rack even more spectacular, and she said something about shirts and...Fuck. He doesn't even know. All he knows is that he doesn't want anyone else even looking at her right now (fuck you if you think he's possessive, 'cause he knows and doesn't care one bit). So he's like a freaking pack mule, carrying her bags from maternity stores and whatever, and when she needs to go to the bathroom, he slips into the bookstore and buys a couple of the books their doctor told them might be helpful. He's a little surprised Rachel hasn't bought a million of these books already. She's got What To Expect When You're Expecting (she's read him excerpts from that shit) and another one he can't remember the name of. He sees a baby name book, so he grabs that, too, because his mom and Rachel were throwing Mischa around as a name, and just...No. No way in hell is his son (if it is a boy) being named Mischa.

She's tired when they get back to her place, which he makes fun of her for since he's the one carrying like, 10 bags of stuff. She just playfully scowls at him, yawns, and tells him she's taking a nap. He says he'll leave, but she wants him to stay, so he sits himself down on the couch after he hears the bedroom door close. He spends the next hour and a half reading about pregnancy and symptoms and the changes his kid is going through, how big it is right now and what they can expect next. Rachel's already got the swollen feet thing, and she definitely looks pregnant now, almost five months in.

Shit. Five months. That means they're over halfway through. That means that in four months, he's going to be a dad. That means...Shit. He's known his whole life was about to change, and it already has, in a lot of ways, but four months really doesn't seem like too long a time. They still haven't made some pretty serious decisions. Like, Rachel lives in a one bedroom apartment. Is she going to move into a bigger place? Frankly, if she's moving, he thinks they should move in together. Even if they got a three bedroom place and didn't share a bed (not ideal, but he'd work with it). He doesn't want to miss a second of his child's life. He's trying really, really hard not to resent her for not just admitting that she wants to be with him. (He ignores the irrational thought that she doesn't want to be with him, because that's just crazy talk.)

He doesn't hear her coming down the hall until her arms are wrapped around his shoulders from behind while he sits on the couch. He's a little surprised, but she's usually particularly cuddly when she's just woken up, and he really doesn't mind. He doesn't say anything, just lifts his hand and takes both her wrists, keeping her there.

"Better?" he asks. She nods, chin hitting the top of his head.

"What are you reading?"

"Nothing," he says, closing the book and dropping it into one of the bags on the floor.

"Noah," she laughs. She pulls herself away from him and takes the book out of the bag. She sits down on the sofa and smiles as she reads the title. "Baby names?" He shrugs one shoulder. She thinks it's cute that he's embarrassed. She thinks it's adorable that he bought this book in the first place. "Well, did you find any you like?"

"You'll hate them," he tells her, smirking as he turns towards her.

"You don't know that," she says as she flips through the book. "But we should probably talk about something first."

"What?" he asks, brow furrowed. "Oh god. Don't tell me you have a lame namesake, like Hiram or Ishmael or something."

"Noah!" she laughs. She reaches over and shoves at his thigh. She doesn't move her hand after, and he weaves their fingers together. "No, there are no namesakes in my family. And we are not naming our child Ishmael."

"Thank fuck."

She smiles a bit. "We should decide whether or not we want to find out the sex of the baby. We can find out next week at our ultrasound. If we want to."

He really, really loves the way she says 'we' and 'us' in regards to all things baby.

"What do you want?" he asks. "I mean, as long as the thing doesn't have gills or three arms or something, I'm cool either way."

Her jaw drops and she shakes her head. "What a terrible thing to say," she says quietly.

Shit. He should have thought that through. They're scheduled for these tests, optional ones, to check for birth defects and stuff, and he was a little terrified at first, but come on. His genes are grade A, and Rachel is perfect, so he's pretty sure there's no way anything's going to be wrong. He can see, though, that Rachel is at least a little worried about it. He supposes he can't really blame her. They haven't talked about what they'd do if something was wrong, and he doesn't want to. Nothing is going to be wrong. Nothing. The pregnancy has been textbook so far, according to their doctor.

"Are you nervous?" he asks, stroking his thumb along her knuckles. She doesn't answer, just shrugs one shoulder. "Rach."

"I shouldn't be, right?" she says quietly, like she's begging him to placate her.

"Naw," he says, smiling at her. "Come on. Look at our kid's dad. I'm pretty much as close to perfection as you're gonna find, baby." She laughs and rolls her eyes, which he notices are a little shiny. "Everything's gonna be fine. I promise."

He squeezes her hand, and for some reason, that little gesture along with his confidence that there's going to be nothing wrong with their child puts her at ease. Maybe it's irrational, this fear at some problem is going to come to light. He's right. They're both healthy and there's no history of problems on either side of their families. Everything is going to be fine.

"I kind of want a boy," she says, tucking herself against his side, letting him pull his hand away so he can drape his arm around her shoulder.

"Yeah?" he asks. "I want a girl."

She laughs and flips through the pages of the book again. "We can't agree on anything."

"Sure we can," he argues, squeezing her shoulder a little bit. "We love this kid."

"Are you trying to make me cry?" she asks. She laughs a little and wipes her eyes.

Sometimes he's so perfect that she wonders what they're doing, not being together. Isn't it crazy? Neither of them is dating anyone else, and they're together all the time, and some nights, she thinks she can't sleep simply because he's not there with her. She knows it's terrible, but part of her is a little surprised that he's actually doing all this so well, handling everything without animosity or stress or constantly reminding her that she's crazy not to be with him. (He does it sometimes, but he at least makes it light and teasing.)

"Not my fault you're all emotional," he says.

She pulls away, smiling, and raises her brow. Her hand falls to her stomach and he grins. "Actually, I think it is."

"As if you aren't a drama queen anyway."

"That's neither here nor there."

"Baby, you know you're ten kinds of crazy," he laughs. She pouts (he wants to kiss her) and moves so she's laying on her back with her head on his thigh, the book held in front of her face. His hand moves to rest on her stomach, just below her breasts (it's just most comfortable there) and she starts looking through the pages.

"What names did you like?" she asks, looking up at him.

She's so damn cute, brown eyes all big and shiny.

"Abigail," he tells her. She bites her lip. "What? You hate it."

"No," she says quickly. "I love it."

"You do not," he laughs. "I know you, Rach. You can't lie for shit."

She giggles a little and bites her bottom lip. "I don't hate it. I don't love it, though. It's nice, I just..."

"What do you like for a girl? Keep in mind that if it's not Hebrew, my mom will pass out."

"I like Ariel."

"Fuck. No," he says sternly. "My kid is not gonna be named after a goddamn cartoon. Try again, babe."

She rolls her eyes, and he's not sure if it's in response to his reasoning, or because he called her babe. He's not cutting that shit out, and he knows she secretly loves it. He's really hoping one of these days it'll get her all turned on and she'll fucking pounce on him. And he just read in that other book that her hormones should be making her crazy and she should want sex, like, all the fucking time. He definitely wants to be around to provide his services if necessary.

"What about Eva?"

"Boring."

"Noah!" she snaps, closing the book, holding her finger between the pages to keep her spot. "You can't just dislike everything I like."

"Uh, yes I can."

"You shouldn't."

"Well then make better choices," he says, like it's the simplest answer ever.

"We could just name her Rachel," she says, a little smile on her face as she looks up at him.

He scoffs. "Your name means a sheep or something. Our kid isn't gonna be a sheep." She glances at him, eyebrow raised, and he shrugs his shoulder. "I looked it up."

She laughs a little and shakes her head. "No one would believe me if I told them how cute you are," she says before she opens the book again.

"I swear, this baby is fucking up my badassness," he mumbles.

She glances up at him with her bedroom eyes (dude, he knows that shit) and brings one hand up to stroke his cheek. "I happen to think being a good father is very badass."

He kisses the inside of her wrist for no reason, and seriously, if she keeps this shit up, he's going to bend her over right now. (He's thought of the logistics of pregnant sex with her, and he thinks that's his favourite, even if he's never actually gotten to try it out.)

"Pick a name, Rach. C'mon. Can't have my daughter be nameless."

"We don't even know if it's a girl, and we have four months," she laughs.

He rolls his eyes and lets out a huff. "Don't you know a subject change when you hear one?"

Honestly, if he makes her laugh one more time, he won't be able to be held accountable for his actions. She looks back to the book again, and his free hand comes down to brush her hair off her forehead, and he doesn't stop running his fingers through it as she flips the pages. The apartment is quiet, and she thinks this has basically been the perfect day. She loves spending time with him, and she loves the way he treats her sometimes. He never did this kind of thing when they were together. He would have let her lay there like she is for about two minutes before suggesting she turn her head and unzip his fly. (Not to say she didn't actually do that once or twice, but that's not the point at this juncture.)

There are times when she thinks they should just do this couple thing again. Those times usually come when they aren't arguing about money or living quarters or whether or not he can buy the baby a onesie that has "Grandma Scares Me" written on the front in Frankenstein-inspired lettering.

"Amiela," she says quietly. He lets out a low hum, like he's thinking it over. "It means 'people of god'."

"I like that," he admits. He tugs gently on her earlobe. "Is there anything in there that means, 'Daddy knocked mommy up out of wedlock'?"

She rolls her eyes. "Honestly, Noah, do you have to ruin every nice moment we have?"

He shrugs one shoulder and smiles at her. "I'm sorry," he laughs. "I'll be good."

She furrows her brow doubtfully. "I think that's an impossibility for you."

""S'part of my charm, baby."

They talk about names a little more, and he tries really hard to take it seriously, but honestly, she throws out some shit names that are just no good for his kid. Asher? Not happening. Ethan? Lame. Gabriel? Nope. Elijah? That gets a big 'hell no'.

Then she gets sick of that game and they watch a couple episodes of How I Met Your Mother with Rachel's head still in his lap. She tells him she has a crush on Ted, and he scoffs and asks her what she sees in that loser. She pinches his thigh and tells him Ted is sweet, but not as girly as Marshall. He reminds her that he's more like Barney and she gives him a list of reasons why that's not necessarily a good thing. He wants to slip his hand between her legs and remind her that there are things about being a sex god that can definitely pay off for her. But she takes a deep breath like she always does before she says she's going to get ready for bed.

"Are you staying?" she asks as she sits up and stretches her arms over her head. She definitely notices the way his eyes fall to her breasts (not his fault her shirt is so low cut and her tits look amazing).

"Uh, no," he says once he finds his words again. (So many dirty things he wants to do to her, and it's been way too fucking long.) "No, I'm gonna take off."

"Oh," she says, and she tries to tell herself she's not disappointed. "Okay. I guess I just thought..."

"Rach," he says, shaking his head as he looks her up and down. They're standing by the door and his coat is in his hands. "If I stay here with you looking like that..."

She blushes, hangs her head so her hair covers her face. "Um...Okay, well...Goodnight, then."

It doesn't really sound like what she wants to say. It sounds, even to herself, like she wants to tell him to stay, to maybe tell him that whatever he wants to do, she wants him to do. She's read about the hormone changes in her body right now, and she doesn't know if that's to blame for the way her mouth goes dry when he pulls on his jacket and his tee shirt rides up. When he smiles at her and reaches for the door handle, she's trying to remember when the last time was they had sex. They haven't even touched one another in any kind of sexual way since that day she walked in on him.

He says goodnight and kisses her forehead, and just as she's turned the lock, she squeezes her thighs together and honestly wonders if she should run out after him and tell him to just please relieve the ache she's suddenly feeling.

Her phone rings just as she's laying down in bed with her hand inching up beneath her nightgown, and she breathes out a hello after seeing his name on her caller ID.

"What's wrong?" he asks.

"No. Nothing, I just...I was yawning," she says. She tucks her hand beneath her thigh so it doesn't wander.

"I think we should find out," he says.

"Find out what?" she asks distractedly.

He laughs a little bit. "If it's a boy or a girl. What's up with you?"

"Nothing. I'm just tired. We'll find out."

"You sure you're okay?" he asks.

"I'm fine. I really need to get some sleep, though. Call me tomorrow?"

"Sure thing. 'Night, baby," he says.

She hangs up the phone and wonders if he's trying to torture her.

(He totally is. Tired, his ass. She was totally hot for him and just didn't want to admit it. He'll let her use her hand and try to make herself feel as good as they both know he can make her feel. She'll get so frustrated she'll be begging him for it.)

... ... ...

She shows up at his place after work the next day without calling, and when she lets himself in, he's sitting on the couch watching the news. He's still in his gym-logoed sweats, and he looks over his shoulder and smiles at her.

God, she looks hot. She wears these business-like clothes and it drives him wild.

"Hey," he says casually.

She walks over and turns the television off, then toes off her heels and (seriously) climbs directly onto his lap. Her stomach is between them, so he can't feel as much of her as he wants to, and he doesn't want to just assume that he can touch her wherever he wants to, so he keeps his hands on the sofa next to him. But fuck that noise. He brings them up to rest on her thighs as she grips his shoulders.

"Hi," she says.

"Uh. What's this?"

His smirk is annoying and sexy and she wants to either kiss it or smack it off his face.

"I'm only going to say this once," she says seriously, and he nods. "We need to have sex. I thought about you for twenty minutes today and dropped a glass of water on the floor because of the images in my head. I need you."

"Shit," he mumbles, sliding his hands up her thighs and around onto her ass. "Yeah?"

"This doesn't mean anything. I want you and you want me, so just...just...do it, okay?"

He grins and pulls away before she can kiss him. "Get up."

"What?" She looks pissed.

His hand skims up her back to tangle in her hair, and he just barely brushes his lips against hers. "Bedroom," he says.

He'd laugh at the smile on her face if she wasn't already unbuttoning her blouse as she stands up. He covers her hands with his and literally pulls her down the hall.

Hell yeah, she wants him. And she's vocal about it, too. He has no problem giving her exactly what she asks for. (Several times.)

... ... ...

He's up before his alarm goes off, so he switches it off so it won't wake her (he has better ways) and watches her a bit. She looks fucking gorgeous laying naked in his bed (always has), and he curves his hand over her stomach as he presses his chest against her back.

He's really, really happy she came over last night, and not just because he's seriously been on the verge of death without sex. It had been like, two months and the only satisfaction he'd gotten from another person was from her hand that one time. And she wasn't lying about those hormones. She got intense last night, not that he's about to complain. And really, their sex life (obviously) wasn't the problem. She woke him up sometime around 4:00 a.m. by climbing onto his lap and stroking him until his eyes were open. He's pretty sure he'll be dragging his ass all day, but it was totally worth it.

He brushes her hair aside with his nose, kisses her neck a little bit, just because he can, and it really, really freaks him out, the little tapping he feels against his palm when he starts to move it a little lower.

"Holy shit," he mutters. He props himself up on his elbow and presses his hand against the spot just a little harder, and he feels the baby kicking again. He's pretty sure the smile on his face is ridiculous, but he doesn't give a shit. "Rachel. Rach, baby, wake up."

"Hmm." She takes a deep breath and wiggles against him (fuck, yeah, he loves that). "What?"

"She's kicking," he says. He watches as her eyes open and her lips curve into a smile. She places her hand just above his and they wait a few moments, until the baby kicks. "You feel that?"

She laughs sleepily and nods. "I've been feeling it for a while," she explains. "The baby is getting stronger."

"That's amazing," he says quietly, leaning over to kiss her cheek. She smiles again and closes her eyes. "I was just trying to wake you up and make you come again."

"Shh," she says, chuckling softly. "I'm tired."

"You have to work in two hours," he tells her, leaving a trail of kisses along the back of her shoulder.

"I don't want to. I want to sleep," she says.

"Call in," he mumbles against her skin, slipping his hand lower. She arches her back slightly. "Stay here. My shift doesn't start until noon."

"Noah, I can't just..." She moans and throws her head back when his fingers finally find the apex of her thighs. "I'll get up soon. Don't stop."

He laughs a little bit, wedges his knee between her thighs to give him more room to operate.

Rachel doesn't go to work that day. She calls the office when he's in the kitchen making them breakfast and tells them she's just not feeling up to it today, and no one asks any questions.

She spends the day in his apartment, mostly in his bed, wearing sweatpants (his) and a Browns sweatshirt (his). She watches television and smiles each of the three times he calls to check on her.

When they hang up, she has to catch herself before she tells him she loves him. For the first time in over a year, she thinks it might be true.

... ... ...

They wait until they're home for Hanukkah before telling their families the sex of the baby. Everything, of course, is fine with the baby. It's healthy and perfect and growing the way it should, even if it's a bit small. Puck 'blames' that on Rachel, though she's more than happy to not have to birth a 10 pound child or something like that. He just shrugs his shoulders and says his kid better not be wimpy just because Rachel's a midget.

So they're all sitting around the table after dinner, Noah's family and Rachel's, and he just winks at her. She places her hand on her stomach and everyone seems to be looking at her expectantly.

"It's a boy," she says.

She doesn't think she's ever seen a grown man cry as much as her daddy does, and he can't even explain why. Puck's mom starts praying in Hebrew, which makes Puck curse, even as he hugs her, and Hannah seems pretty excited about the whole thing. Rachel's dad is basically the voice of reason, congratulating Rachel quietly, hugging her and telling her that her son will be gorgeous.

Noah follows her upstairs when she announces it's time for bed, and she realizes she doesn't want him to leave. They spent last night apart, and a few nights before, and she's missed him. So she grabs his wrist after he pulls the covers up over her, says, "stay," and lets her heart flutter just a little bit when he smiles and pulls his shirt over his head.

... ... ...

It takes them over six fucking hours to get back to Chicago, because Rachel needs to stop to pee or eat or whatever like, every thirty seconds. Puck threatens to leave her at the side of the road, but she just laughs and looks at him as if to ask if he really thinks she'd believe that blatant lie. And then she buys him beef jerky at a 7-11 when they stop because she's craving chocolate milk, and he smiles and thanks her, because he knows exactly how much the concept of jerky grosses her out.

"Do you really think we should move in together?" she asks somewhere around hour four million.

It's something her dads brought up just before they finished their lunch today. By their logic, Rachel isn't going to want to stay in her small one bedroom apartment with a baby, and Noah is going to be around 24/7 anyway (he told them as much, and Rachel doesn't doubt him). They say it just makes more sense for the two of them to get a small house or a larger apartment and share. They didn't make mention of sleeping arrangements, so Puck doesn't really know how that'd work or what they'd expect, but he basically loves her dads for bringing it up. Rachel listens to her dads, and she doesn't tend to listen to anyone else.

"Yeah," he says, because he thinks making a joke about how he's wanted it for like, two years would be a bad idea. "I do."

"Really?"

"Totally," he insists. He glances over at her and she's staring right at him. "Makes sense. I told you, Rach, you can't drag me away from my boy."

She smiles. "I thought you wanted a girl."

"Until the doctor said it was a boy," he says, and the crooked grin on his face makes Rachel bite the inside of her lip. "And little Ishmael needs a solid dad."

She laughs and swats his arm. "His name is not Ishmael."

"We'll see," he jokes, laughing hard when she clenches her jaw.

"I suppose we should maybe try to find a place, then," she says, and he smiles at her again, holding up his hand for a high five. She laughs and obliges, even as she shakes her head.

They really should define their relationship. She knows him well enough to know that he's not just sticking around for this baby, but for her, too. The more she thinks about his commitment to her, the more she starts to think he's basically been her boyfriend all along, since they found out she was pregnant. He's done everything she's asked of him and then some, and they spend nearly every day together.

All those problems they had before seem non-existent now. Maybe because she realizes that it doesn't matter who he is or where he's from. All that matters is that he treats her like gold, loves her more than even she is ready to admit, and wants to have this baby (and possibly others) with her. She really doesn't know if anything else is as important as that.

... ... ...

"Noah?" she asks one night when they're hanging out. Her feet are on his lap and he's sipping a beer after an entire day of looking at apartments, condos and houses.

(That whole search would be going better if they could decide whether to rent or buy. Puck's all for buying a place, but Rachel won't commit, and it's taken all his energy not to call her out on why.)

"Yeah."

"We should probably have sex right now," she says seriously. She only laughs when he turns to her with his brow raised.

It's been a few weeks since the last time, and he hasn't mentioned it (but he's definitely wanted to). But yeah, he's basically dying to do it again, and he's been patient and super nice about it and stuff.

"Yeah?" he asks. "Why's that?"

His hand is already trailing up the inside of her thigh.

"Do you need an explanation, or are you just trying to drive me crazy?" she asks, laughing when he rolls his eyes. He pushes her legs apart and curses the fact that she's wearing pants. Stupid pants.

He smirks at her when he watches her lick her lips, run a hand through her hair.

"Baby, if I drive you crazy, I want it to be with my mouth," he tells her. She closes her eyes and he pushes up her shirt. "My hands." He runs his fingers along the waistband of her pants. "My tongue."

He kisses her stomach as he pushes down her pants. This is not a great position, her on her back on the couch, but shit, he can work with what he's got. For now.

"Mission accomplished," she says. He chuckles a little bit and pulls her to her feet. She steps out of her pants and pulls her shirt over her head, laughing when he groans, and walks back to his bedroom.

He fucking loves this woman.

... ... ...

"Ish loves spicy food," Puck says, running his hand over her stomach, feeling the baby go to town, kicking away.

"Stop calling him Ishmael!"

"It's a solid Jewish name!" he chuckles.

"You're such a moron sometimes," she says as she bites into her fajita. Their son always does kick more when she's eating something with a little heat.

He leans over and kisses her temple. "Don't act like you don't think I'm hilarious." The baby kicks hard against his hand and he laughs. "See? Ish knows his pops has all the jokes."

She groans and rolls her eyes, talks with her mouth full for the first time since she was a child. "Oh, my god."

... ... ...

Puck's more than just a little surprised when he walks into Rachel's place one night after work carrying a bag of groceries and sees her dads sitting at the kitchen table with takeout in front of them. They greet him happily and he shoots a questioning look at Rachel, who just shakes her head.

"We thought we'd surprise you."

"Oh. Cool," Puck says, because how else is he supposed to respond? "Just came to Chicago to hang out? Or..."

"Actually," Mark says, turning to Brian, "we have something for you."

Puck sits down and steals an egg roll from Rachel's plate, shooting her a wink when he glares. "What's up?" he asks before taking a bite.

He wouldn't be so casual, but his relationship with her dads has always been pretty open and honest, and they're good people. They're pretty laid back, for the most part. They have to be; look how they're handling the fact that their daughter is pregnant by her ex-boyfriend?

But then Mark hands over a cheque and Puck literally chokes on his food. Rachel gets up and pats him on the back, worry on her face, until she sees the amount of money they're being given.

"What the hell?" Puck asks, clearing his throat. "You can't just...I'm not taking your money."

"It's for a down payment on a house," Brian explains. Puck is still shaking his head. "We insist."

"Daddy, we can't accept this," Rachel pipes in. She's still standing behind Puck, and he really likes the way her hands are sitting on his shoulders. "It's too much."

"Listen," Mark says rationally, "we've heard you going on for weeks about how hard it is to find a decent apartment for the two of you. I've looked at the market, and buying is clearly the better option. You can get exactly what you want. And yes, maybe you won't be able to move until after the baby is born, depending on how quickly the sale is processed, but..."

"Dude, that's...this is a lot of money," Puck breaks in. He wants it, so bad, to be able to have a house for his family, but this seems like way too big a gift.

"Well, we're not taking no for an answer," Brian insists. Puck tips his head back and looks at Rachel, and she just looks down at him and sighs. "And we went through some listings and found places we thought might work."

"Daddy," Rachel laughs.

Puck can hear in her voice that she's about two seconds from crying.

So that basically settles the decision whether to buy or rent.

... ... ...

At the beginning of her eighth month of pregnancy, she and Noah find the perfect little three bedroom house in a Chicago suburb not far from the gym Noah works at. It's a little further for Rachel to travel to work, but he drives her every morning (whether they spend the night together or not), and soon enough she'll be on maternity leave, so the distance doesn't feel so important.

They can't move in right away, so the furniture Rachel has ordered for the nursery from some store in Canada is sitting in boxes in the storage locker at Puck's place, not that he really minds. It's going to be amazing to live with her. He just wants to know how this whole sleeping situation is going to work. Honestly, three bedrooms is great and all, but he doesn't want to have to use all of them. It'd be nice to have an office. An office, a nursery, and a master.

To be honest, he's sick of dancing around what they are. They're basically together, even if she won't admit it, and he wants to be with her all the time. Officially. He hasn't really made that a secret, but he also hasn't been a jerk about pressuring her into giving him some indication of what the hell they're doing. Their relationship extends past just being cool with one another for the sake of their kid. Way past. He's going to find out where her crazy head is with all of it.

He really doesn't mean for it to happen the way it does.

There's a bachelor party for one of his coworkers, and he's invited along. It's really low key. They just go to this pub and do shots and drink pitchers of beer and trade stories. Puck is the first of any of the guys to have a kid, which is pretty messed up, since all but three of them are married and he's not even dating (apparently) the mother of his kid. They've all met Rachel and they spend half the night bugging the shit out of him relentlessly for not taking her off the market.

It's not for lack of trying. He doesn't really want to get into all that with them.

They all decide to head to another bar after they've settled the tab, but it's closing in on midnight, and Puck thinks this is as good a time as any to lay it all on the line with Rachel, so he pats his friend on the back, tells him a congrats and good luck on the whole marriage thing, and as he's on the train to Rachel's place, he thinks that doesn't sound all that bad at all. Marriage. He could marry Rachel. Lord knows he's thought about it before.

Actually, a couple months before they broke up, he bought her a ring. Nothing all that fancy, since he was working for way less money than he is now, but he knows she would (will?) love it. He spent more than he should have on it (three princess cut diamonds, the one in the middle bigger than the other two set in white gold). He's actually pretty glad he got this good paying job, since he paid the rest of the ring off quickly. It's just been sitting in a shoebox in the back of his closet since they broke up.

Anyway. He has a ring. He has a ring and a woman he loves who's pregnant with his kid, and he thinks it's pretty fucking ridiculous that she's not actually wearing that ring.

So when he lets himself into her apartment and sees her sitting on the couch watching a movie, he thinks two things. One, why the hell isn't she in bed yet? And two, that he's glad she's awake.

(He's not that drunk. Just a little drunk.)

"What are you doing here?" she asks, shifting in her place. "I thought you were out with the guys."

"Was. I'm done," he tells her. Maybe that doesn't make sense. Whatever. "How are you?"

He always asks that first, and she's always honest when she answers.

"I'm okay. I was going to go to bed soon. I didn't know you were coming over," she tells him. He sits down in front of her on the coffee table and rests his hands just above her knees. Her brow furrows. "What's wrong?"

"We could get married," he says, and he thinks he's joking. Maybe he is. She smiles at him, which he thinks can't be a bad thing.

"Shut up," she laughs.

Okay, he was joking until she started to.

He didn't really mean to come in here and lead with that, but it's what he wants, ultimately. He really only meant to tell her to get over her shit and just be his girl again, but this is what came out, so he's going to have to work with it.

What's so wrong in wanting to get married? Why doesn't she think they'd work? They're having a baby, so they're going to be 'together' forever anyway. Why not?

"We could." She shoots him a look, as if she's trying to figure out if he's really serious or not. "We're practically married already. We fight over stupid shit and make up two seconds later. I deal with your crazy ass and you understand that I'm a bit of a moron sometimes. And we have sex like once a month. Sounds like any marriage I've ever heard of."

He's serious, she realizes. He's been drinking, and he's sitting there moving his fingers over the outside of her thighs over her pants, and he's completely serious. He wants to marry her. How can he want to marry her? They aren't even a couple! They haven't been a couple in far too close to two years! Why in the world would he suggest they get married?

And alright, maybe she can admit that they do act like a couple. The other day, while he waited outside, the woman working in one of the baby stores Rachel loves commented, 'your husband seems very excited,' and Rachel didn't correct her. But there is no way she's ready to accept a marriage proposal, and there's no way she's going to allow him to do it this way. He can tell her he's ready for it (which is still terrifying, just slightly less so) and he can prove that he's committed (which he's been doing all along, and she loves him for it). But he is not proposing to her right now.

"Noah, you aren't thinking clearly," she says, shaking her head. She's smiling, though, and she hates that he'll see right through her and know she doesn't hate the idea.

"Yeah, I am."

She laughs softly and closes her eyes. "I can't...We aren't even together. We haven't been together..."

"Rach," he cuts her off, staring at her intently, "you really believe that? Come on. We've been fucking inseparable."

"Because I'm pregnant."

"Because I love you."

Her heart is in her throat as she bites the inside of her cheek. He hasn't said those worlds since a week before they broke up. She remembers it vividly, because it was after a fight, the last fight they had before the one that ended everything. He'd just laid her down and he whispered it against her cheek.

It strikes her as rather monumental that she committed all that to memory.

"You do?" she asks quietly. She isn't honestly questioning it, she just wants him to say it again. She's sure he knows her well enough to know that.

"Shut up," he mumbles, grinning as he slides his hands up her thighs a little further. "You know I do."

She takes a deep breath and rests her hands on his face, smoothing her thumbs over his cheeks. "Can we talk about this in the morning?" she asks.

"No."

"Noah," she laughs.

"Rachel, come on. It's been months. I've been patient and shit. I don't wanna wait 'til morning."

"You've been drinking, and this is a serious conversation."

"I'm not drunk," he insists.

He knows she can always tell when he's drunk and when he's just buzzed. He watches her take her hands off his face, and he makes sure that when his skid up her thighs, he brushes that spot near her hip that has always, always made her crazy. (He learned that shit at 16 and never forgot it). She takes a deep breath and looks at him again, and she tries to glare, but it just ends up being fucking adorable.

"We're not getting married," she states, and he doesn't know why he rolls his eyes, but he does it anyway. "Noah, we haven't dated..."

"We haven't dated other people, either," he reminds her. "I've been surviving on you and you alone, and we both know you don't put out on a regular basis. That should tell you how serious I am."

"Is everything about sex with you?" she asks. She's teasing him, so he slides his hand over her thigh to the inside, and he doesn't care if that proves her point in some way. She places her hand over his to stop him from doing anything more. "I'm just scared that if we try this again and it doesn't work out, then that'll be it."

"Who said anything about it not working out?"

"I'm being rational," she says.

"You're being crazy," he argues. "We've gotten along this whole time. We're having a kid. Don't you think we should try? Rach, baby, we're nuts for each other."

There's always been something about the way he says Rach, baby, that makes her practically shiver. She doesn't know why. He does it all the time, and he's always done it, but she loves the way his voice sounds, the little smirk that usually accompanies the words.

"You raise a point," she says, looking at him through her eyelashes. (Oh, he is so in.) "We could...We could be together again." She watches him smile, and she somehow feels like a weight has been lifted from her shoulders, as though this is something she's wanted for a while, just wasn't aware of. "But no stupid big fights. And no..."

"Yeah. Yeah. Got it," he says quickly. She almost laughs. "Seriously? You wanna be together?" She smiles and nods, and he lifts himself up, leans over and kisses her. His hands are on the sofa on either side of her. "This is so good," he tells her. "It's gonna be so good. I promise."

She doesn't question it. She knows he's a man of his word. She's never seen him back out of a promise. And she's almost positive that really nothing is going to change, as far as the way things work between them. She's sure they'll incorporate more sex into their relationship (again, that was never the problem), but they've been working so well together for the last however many months. It's kind of been the ideal situation. And no, she doesn't hate the idea of more sex, even if she's known all along that all she has to do is ask.

She's far too tired to 'consummate' their relationship, and when she explains to him what that means, he grins lecherously. "Wait 'til tomorrow, babe. We're gonna consummate the hell out of it."

They make it to her bed and lay down, and he tries not to laugh at how she arranges her pillows around her. He presses himself against her back and murmurs something about being there to make sure she doesn't roll over, and maybe it's the fact that they're together again, but she thinks that sounds so sweet and romantic that she can't help but weave their fingers together and tug his hand with hers so it's resting on her stomach.

"I love you, too," she says quietly, because she realizes she didn't say it before.

He smiles, kisses the back of her shoulder. "I know, Rach."

She doesn't ask how. She realizes she's probably been just as transparent as he has.

... ... ...

She suggests the best baby name ever and he seriously loves her for it.

They're laying in his bed with the television on one night, because her back is too sore for the couch and really, he's never going to complain about getting her into bed, like, ever (hormones are definitely his friend; he's surprised they ever get out of bed). She's flipping absently through that baby name book. All the names she's picking are girl's names, and totally not Hebrew, but they're nice. He doesn't really know what the hell she's picking girl's names for. There's this weird flash in his mind of the future (maybe their next baby will be a girl), but he pushes it away, because he's still sometimes terrified at the thought of having this one.

"I still like Ariel," she pouts.

"Moot." He turns the volume on the television up. Yeah, he loves her, but shit, the girl is never quiet. "'Cause Ish has a penis."

"His name is not Ish, and don't talk about his penis."

"Please," Puck scoffs. "If he's anything like his dad, people are gonna be talking about his penis a hell of a lot."

"That's because you're promiscuous and your life's motto is 'kiss and tell'," she says, not even bothering to take her eyes off the book in her hands.

"Hey!" he says, glaring at her. "Was promiscuous."

She laughs. Of course, that's the one issue he has with what she's said. "We need a name," she tells him.

"I know."

"Well, we need to discuss names. And so help me, if you suggest any form of Ishmael, I'm leaving right now."

He runs a hand through her hair and kisses her temple, switching the channel back to the basketball game his team is losing terribly. "You're not going anywhere," he says.

She leans over and kisses him. She really loves being one half of a couple with him. To say he's affectionate would be an understatement. She thinks he's researched the sexual positions that will work best for them at this stage in her pregnancy, even if he won't admit it. She supposes it doesn't really matter. And no, she has had no complaints about that.

"Ari," she says quietly.

"Hmm?"

"Ari. For the baby."

"The name?" She just looks at him like he's stupid (he thinks those looks are hilarious and likes pulling them from her sometimes.) "'S'from Entourage."

Honestly, she picks the name of the most awesome character ever to be on television and suggests it for his kid. He seriously hit the jackpot knocking Rachel up. No lie.

"It's also a traditional Hebrew name. It means lion."

"Fuckin' awesome, baby," he says, pulling her a little closer. "I like it. A lot. Ari Puckerman."

"Your mother will be thrilled," she says with a smile. "Are we deciding on that?"

"It's in the running. I gotta let it simmer for a bit."

"Noah," she laughs. "Are you joking?"

"No, I'm not. Now quiet, okay? My team's losing this game and I need you to conserve your energy so you can console me after."

"You can be so gross, you know that?"

She tries to pull away, but he holds her against him, then nudges her onto her back as he turns the television off. She doesn't stop him when he pushes her legs apart, and when he kisses her, she certainly doesn't fight him on that either.

"But I always make it so good for you."

And yeah, he knows Ari is really close to Ariel. This is excellent for two reasons. One, she'll never bring up Ariel again, even if they do end up having a daughter at some point. Two, it'll make her happy and she'll think she's getting her way.

Win-win.

... ... ...

Matt and Elizabeth come to Chicago for a weekend to help move furniture into Puck and Rachel's new house. Basically what that means is that Puck and Matt (and a couple of Puck's buddies from work) do all the heavy lifting, and Rachel and Elizabeth unpack boxes in the new house. They spend more time taking breaks than doing actual work, but Puck doesn't say much about it, because his girl is having a kid in like, two weeks, and she really shouldn't be doing anything at all. He gets their bed set up first, and as soon as the sheets are on it, Rachel's taking a nap.

She's still not up by the time Matt and Elizabeth have to get back on the road, so Puck says goodbye and sees them off, then slips onto the bed behind Rachel and kisses on her shoulder and neck a little bit.

"Mmm. I fell asleep," she murmurs.

She's fucking adorable when she just wakes up and she's all groggy and stuff.

"Yeah. For four hours," he tells her. She laughs softly and reaches her hand up to rest on the back of his neck. "'M'tired."

"Sleep."

"It's like, 7:00."

She doesn't say anything, and a minute later, when he leans over to look at her, she's fast asleep again, so he smoothes his hand over her hip and closes his eyes.

They both sleep until the next morning when Puck's mom calls (like she does every damn morning) to see how Rachel's feeling.

... ... ...

They're in the middle of a fight when Rachel feels her first contraction. He actually rolls his eyes, because he thinks that she's just being dramatic. He stands there and watches her face, the way she's holding her stomach and leaning forward, one hand braced on the counter. Holy shit.

"Rachel."

"Shut up," she manages.

He walks towards her, but he doesn't say another word. He's read enough of those pregnancy books that he's pretty sure he could be a damn OB-GYN by now. It's two days before the due date, and Puck is suddenly really, really not ready for a kid. He can't have a kid! He still sits around all day from time to time, wearing sweats and watching Sportscenter and eating junk food. He can't be responsible for another human being.

But then he looks at Rachel. And yeah, her face is kinda messed up right now, on account of the pain or whatever, but she's so awesome at the parent thing already. She reads to their kid and sings songs and spent so much time making the nursery perfect. She's got parenting books and talks to his mom all the time, and any time he's seen her with anyone under the age of ten, she's been amazing, a natural.

"Okay?" he asks when she seems to relax a bit, and she nods and lets out a slow breath. "We gotta go." She nods again. "Words, Rach. Fuck. Use your words."

She laughs quietly and grabs his hand before he can rush off to get her things. She's scared and that hurt, and she knows it's just the beginning and more pain is to come. (She's suddenly rethinking her decision to do this without drugs.) She's going to need Noah, and she needs him to know that whatever she said within the last ten minutes as they stood at opposite side of the kitchen doesn't mean anything. This stupid fight about whether or not to let his mother visit right away (she says yes, he says no) really isn't as important as they'd made it out to be.

"Noah," she says, and she hates that there are tears in her eyes. "I'm sorry."

"The fuck are you apologizing for?" he asks brow furrowed. "We gotta go, baby."

"No. Wait," she says. He looks at her like she's nuts. How much waiting is allowed in this situation? "I don't want to be fighting with you right now."

"I don't wanna fight with you, either," he says, smoothing a hand over her cheek. "But I will kick your ass if you don't start walking to the car right fucking now."

"Wait!" she cries when he tries to walk away again. "I love you."

He rolls his eyes, which makes her smile, for some reason. "You too," he says, leaning forward to kiss her quickly. When he pulls back again, he's all serious. "Go. My kid is not gonna be born on a kitchen floor."

He almost goes as far as putting a garbage bag down on the seat of his car, 'cause there hasn't been any water breaking or anything, and he does not want that all up in his new car, thank you very much. It'd cost him a million in detailing, he's sure, and he's got a kid to raise, here. But then Rachel's telling him that sometimes peoples' waters don't break (he remembers reading that somewhere, he thinks) and the hospital is only 10 minutes away anyway. He doesn't know how she's keeping so calm. And a friendly tip? Don't mention that she's the one who's going to be pushing out the kid and he doesn't really have to do anything. Not appreciated.

They're admitted, and Puck immediately wants to punch the husband of the woman sharing their room. Dude has a video camera and a digital camera, and he's snapped about 15 pictures of Rachel already, and that shit is just not cool. He doesn't have to hit someone, though, because dude's wife smacks him so hard there's a red mark on his arm. Puck laughs, which makes the guy pull the privacy curtain across, and Rachel gives him an appreciative smile. He decides then and there that whatever he can do right now to make her smile at him like that again, he's going to do.

They're there for literally fucking hours, and Rachel is ready to change her mind and just have a C-section or something. Childbirth? Painful. And they haven't even gotten to the birth part. She's sure she's scaring Noah, even though she knows he's been through this, sort of, once before. And that isn't something she particularly wants to think about right now.

When they're finally ready to be moved to a delivery room, Rachel closes her eyes as Noah kisses her forehead. (It's covered in sweat and she's sure that's fairly disgusting.) He murmurs that he loves her and she's 'doing so good', and maybe there's something in there about being able to hold this over their kid's life forever, but she misses the last bit because another contraction comes.

... ... ...

Puck is not crying, okay? Maybe he tears up just a little tiny bit when they place the baby on Rachel's chest and she's crying and sweaty and seriously has never looked more gorgeous. It's like she's completely forgotten Puck's even in the room, and he doesn't really care. Well, yeah, he cares, and he's sitting right there next to her with his eyes glued on his son, but she's not really paying attention to him.

Until, that is, she looks over, tries to lean towards him. He closes the distance and kisses her gently, then they both go back to looking at the little person who's staring up at Rachel and stuck somewhere between crying and just breathing. She's kind of talking to the baby, and Puck is really trying to pay attention, but this moment is kind of swallowing him and he's finding it difficult.

Then Rachel says something about 'daddy', and hands him his son, and everything gets a little clearer.

... ... ...

They spend their entire first day home from the hospital in their bedroom. Rachel is tired and sore (and shit, he really cannot blame her for that) and Ari is like a little eating/sleeping machine, so they really don't have to move much. Puck takes care of getting food and whatever, and Rachel takes care of feeding their son.

And Puck's mom calls three times before noon, and he's ready to call the phone company and tell them to block her damn number.

"You still want her to visit right away?" he asks after hanging up. Rachel lets out an annoyed groan.

"I love your mother, but goodness. We need some space."

Puck crawls back into bed and looks down at the baby sleeping between them. "This is why I love you," he says quietly. "We agree on everything."

She covers her mouth so she doesn't laugh too hard, then hits his arm. She's been trying to tell him for two days not to make her laugh, because it hurts to use those (any) muscles right now.

"No, we don't," she tells him.

He smirks and kisses her hand. "Whatever. We agree on this, and I love you for it." The baby stirs and steals their attention again. "Goddamn, that's a good lookin' baby."

"Yes, well, he did inherit his father's good looks," Rachel says, running her hand over the baby's stomach.

"Nah. 'S'all you. Look at that hair." Rachel doesn't get a chance to respond, because the phone rings again. "I swear to god, if that's my mother, we're packing our shit and moving to Canada in the middle of the night," he says, reaching for the phone. He answers with a very short, "What?" and then cringes and shoots Rachel a look. "No, hey, Brian. Not a bad time."

Rachel starts laughing again, and he sits down next to her, runs his hand soothingly over her side as he talks with her father.

... ... ...

Puck comes home from his first day back at work and sees Rachel sitting on the sofa nursing their son, and he realizes very quickly that his new favourite thing to do is walk through that door and see his girl and his baby. He walks over and drops a kiss to the top of Rachel's head, then tosses their mail onto the coffee table in exactly the way Rachel hates.

"How was your day?" she asks. "Did you by any chance check your email this afternoon?"

"Nope," he says, sitting down on the table across from her. "Had a session with that fat douchebag I hate."

"Noah!"

"What?" he asks. "Honestly, dude doesn't need a trainer, he needs to not go into every Burger King he passes."

She shakes her head and he can tell she's trying not to laugh. "You're terrible."

He shrugs as if it's just a given at this point. "Why'd you ask about my email?"

She laughs and points to the dining room. "Check my laptop. I have the email open."

She smiles as she sits there and waits for him to read the email his mother sent this afternoon. Rachel had just gotten Ari down and was about to take a nap herself when she heard the noise from her laptop indicating she had a new message. She honestly doesn't know what to say. She's sure Noah's reaction will be rather colourful.

"Are you fucking kidding me?" he shouts, and she laughs as she hears him come back into the living room. He's holding the laptop in his hands. "She put a goddamn announcement in the paper. We told her we didn't want that!"

"I know," she says, still laughing.

"This isn't funny, Rachel. You know that if we don't put our foot down now, she's just always going to ignore us."

"Noah," Rachel says calmly, gesturing for him to sit again, "she's excited. You can't blame her for wanting to tell everyone."

He glares at her and looks to the screen. "Aviva Puckerman and Mark and Brian Berry are pleased to announce the birth of their grandson, Ari Tobias Puckerman." He turns to Rachel again. "We aren't even mentioned!"

"It's implied," she says, and he rolls his eyes. "Be nice. She's coming here this weekend to see him for the first time. I'm sure she'll be emotional and excited, and she doesn't need you telling her to be anything different."

"Fine," he grumbles. He leans forward and kisses her forehead, and runs his finger down Ari's chubby little cheek. "I'll be nice, but only 'cause you asked. See the shit I do for you?" She's laughing as he walks to the kitchen. "What do you want for dinner?"

(When his mother comes, he doesn't appreciate the way Rachel is obviously trying not to laugh every time Aviva asks what she can buy for them, what they need and to call her to come and babysit if they ever want to go out. She doesn't seem to care that it's a four hour drive each way.)

... ... ...

Ari is a month old and Rachel goes out for a solo grocery shopping mission, since Noah tells her she needs to get out of the house. She can't really argue. Not that she doesn't love all the time she gets to spend with the baby, but every once in a while she likes to get out for an hour or so and do all the mundane things she used to hate doing. She stopped at Starbucks before heading to the grocery store, and she takes her time walking up and down the aisles, pushing her cart and sipping her latté. She almost wants to laugh at how much she's come to enjoy grocery shopping.

When she gets home, she carries the groceries into the kitchen and puts them away, then walks to the nursery and sees Noah standing there with a smile on his face and their son laying in his arms. She stops in her tracks just inside the door.

She barely registers what's going on. She's too appalled by the fact that there's a ring box open and sitting on Ari's stomach.

"Well?" Noah asks.

"What is that?" she asks, rushing into the room and looking at the baby. "You can't give a ring to a baby, Noah! That's horrible! It's a choking hazard."

He rolls his eyes. "Kid can barely hold his head up. Relax. I'm right here."

"I can't believe you!" She takes the ring box and places it in his free hand, getting it away from the baby.

"Answer the damn question, baby," he demands. He wants to laugh, really, but he also doesn't want to be a schmuck who fucked up the proposal. "You want to get married?"

She's standing right in front of him, and she thinks her heart might be racing. (The thought of anything happening to this baby just about sends her into fits.) Still, the answer is an easy one to give.

"Yes, but you can't..."

"Yes?" he asks, smiling at her. "Seriously?"

"Yes!" she shouts, still slightly irritated, but she takes the baby and cradles him against her chest while glaring at her...fiancé. Puck tucks his fingers under her left hand, which is laying over the baby's back, and slips the ring onto her finger. "Noah."

She's kind of laughing as she says it, but tearing up, too, and this is totally the reaction he was hoping for when she first came in. Maybe this whole thing is happening two years and one baby too late, but whatever. He still thinks it's basically perfect.

"Fits," he says proudly, letting go of her hand. She leans into him, trapping the baby between them, and his arms come around them both. His lips are right against her temple, so he kisses her there. "You like it?"

She nods and he pulls away so he can wipe her cheeks. "Of course I do."

"You're not gonna cry all night or anything, are you?" he asks, smiling because he already knows the answer. (She's going to get on the phone with her dads and his mom and their friends, and she'll be bawling for hours.)

"Probably," she laughs. "It's just like us to do everything out of order."

He smirks, leans in to kiss her and takes the baby back from her. He sees the way she smiles as he holds their son against him. "We're special like that."

-Fin-