For fictable prompt #21 - Life.

He finds out about the baby when she's five months pregnant from, of all people, Quinn Fabray. Rachel thinks it must be some form of payback four years in the making. But suddenly, she's sitting on her couch staring at him nervously while his eyes are glued to the visible bump of her abdomen.

"So when are you due?" His voice is shaky and his hazel eyes dart from her belly to her face and back again.

"April 23rd," she says. She tries to sound confident but her voice is even shakier than his is and she's not sure if the nausea roiling through her is the baby's fault or his.

He pauses and then looks up at her, his eyes showing no malice when he asks, "Are you sure it's mine?"

Rachel bristles anyway, furiously firing back an answer to defend her honor. "Of course it's yours! I don't randomly sleep with men!"

Puck snorts and sets his face to a smirk when he reminds her, "You let me fuck you in Santana's pool house in the middle of the afternoon while there was a fuckin' party going on a few feet away. I'd say that's pretty random."

Rachel's cheeks flame as she recalls that day. A stupid summer party before everyone headed back to their respective schools. A bruised ego because she'd allowed herself to come home for the summer and once again be played by Finn. And far too many times over the course of their summer group get-togethers, she'd caught Noah watching her. How she ended up in the pool house was an easy question to answer (the only easy question in what has become a litany of questions that rushed through her brain). She'd been hot and Santana had told her to go find more bottled water. But how she ended up under Puck, her fingers digging into his flesh as their bodies repeatedly met while she begged for more, she still has no idea. It was fast and rough and messy and over far too fast. They'd promptly gone their separate ways and she'd pushed it aside, telling herself that she'd finally had one of those "hook ups" that her promiscuous roommate was always blathering on about. Besides, she was on birth control and really, what was the worst that could happen?

But of course, the worst did happen. As it turns out, Rachel Berry wins all kinds of things. She wins vocal scholarships and vocal competitions…and the lucky .01% of women who win a chance at motherhood thanks to ineffective birth control. By the time she found out that she was pregnant, she was back at school in Cincinnati. She stared at the plastic sticks, visual confirmation that her dreams were destroyed and life as she knew it was over, and had a full-on panic attack that ended up winning her an overnight stay in the hospital for observation. Once she had her head on straight and had informed her fathers of her change in life plans (because she was keeping this baby), she toyed with the idea of calling Puck. She'd even picked up the phone a few times and dialed his number. Before it could ring, though, she'd hang it back up again and then put the thought aside. She wanted to make sure that she had the right words when she told him and even her with her extensive vocabulary, she couldn't manage to string the right sentence of words together to deliver the news to Noah. But then she'd think about how they'd barely been friends in high school and other than a short, short relationship, some stolen glances, and one fateful afternoon when she went to look for bottled water and wound up pregnant, they shared nothing in common. So she kept quiet. Even when then baby started kicking and she felt guilty (and too much like Quinn), she kept her mouth shut. And since she'd been home on winter break, she'd done her best to avoid seeing any of her old classmates. She'd gone out of her way to avoid seeing Noah.

And then she slipped into CVS for some more antacids and ran into Quinn in the stationary aisle and it had all been shot to hell because Quinn had looked at her belly, ticked her eyebrow, and smiled. Rachel felt her stomach somersault. From the grin on Quinn's face, Rachel knew instantly that she was well aware of the pool house incident. Noah and she were quite good friends (having a child at 16 apparently bonds you for life. Rachel wonders if it does the same when you're 20.) Two hours after she'd seen Quinn, Puck was pounding on her door.

"So what are you going to do about it?"

Puck pulls Rachel back into the present with his question and she toys with the hem of her blue flowered maternity dress. "I'm keeping him."

"Him?" Puck's voice falters and Rachel looks up, afraid he's going to choke because he's making some strange sucking noise.

Rachel nods. "Yes, it's a boy."

"I want in," Puck says quickly.

"What?" Rachel is confused.

"I want in," he repeats. "In the baby's life. This is my kid, too. It's bullshit that I had to find out this way but now that I know, I'm gonna be around." He hesitates, his eyes on her belly. His gaze hardens when he stares back at her face and he asks, "and why the fuck am I just finding out about this? You've obviously known for a while."

Rachel opens her mouth to explain but then remembers that she has no explanation other than fear. Finally, she answers honestly, "I really don't know, Noah. I wanted to tell you but I just kept finding reasons not to."

His jaw flexes and she can tell he's not happy with her answer and when he meets her eyes again, she sees a lot of unspoken emotion swimming in them. "Are you sure you're keeping him?"

"Yes," Rachel answers quickly. She knows what happened to him before. She knows very well that her birth mother is raising his daughter down in Columbus. "I'm absolutely keeping him."

Puck breathes a sigh of relief and leans back into the seat. For the first time since he arrived, he smiles. "So let's talk about all this baby shit. We got stuff to figure out."

And just like that, Rachel's no longer doing this alone. She almost laughs when she realizes that now she has to talk about her "baby daddy", even if she refuses to use that sad, Jerry Springer-esque term for it. But her chest feels lighter knowing that her child won't miss out on a father in the same way she missed out on a mother, even if that father is Noah Puckerman.

Rachel goes back to school in January. Her fathers want her to stay in Lima since she's due soon but she refuses. Puck nearly blows his top when she tells him that she intends to finish out her sophomore year before moving home. He reluctantly lets her go back (after she hears him plotting with her fathers about removing the alternator from her car and throwing it in the trash) but tells her that he's coming down for her doctor appointments.

She's expanding more and more every day and waddling from one side of campus to another in the bristling cold is anything but ideal. However, she's determined to work hard and finish her classes early so that when the baby is born, she's already done for the year. Then she'll transfer to OSU-Lima, live with her fathers, and work on finding new dreams because her old ones don't really matter anymore. Sure, she's Rachel Berry and she's had these dreams since she was three months old. But now she's 20 years old and has a baby growing inside of her and she's had to tell Broadway goodbye for now. And as sad as she is about that, she finds herself growing excited about the baby. When he kicks her at night, her hands quickly find the spot and press, just waiting to feel it again. Greeted with another kick, she rubs her hand soothingly over her stomach and dreams about what her son will look like when he arrives. He's not even been born yet but she's almost positive that she's never loved anyone or anything more in her life than she does him.

She has an ultrasound appointment in February and Puck drives down to Cincinnati for it. He arrives on campus an hour before they need to leave and when she lets him into her dorm room, it's a very awkward reunion. Rachel introduces him to her roommate as her "friend from back home" but Shanelle just looks at him knowingly and excuses herself. Then they just stare at each other. Well, he stares at her belly and she stares at the wall.

"You've gotten bigger," he says after a few moments.

Now, most girls get offended if a guy tells them that they've gotten fatter but Rachel smiles and cups her stomach. "He's growing well. He's really healthy."

She sees Puck relax and she realizes that he's obviously freaked out, too. She tries not to think about how they're going to do this whole "we're having a baby but we haven't had more than seven conversations in our entire life" thing but she knows she's eventually going to have to.

Rachel drives them to the doctor's office since Puck doesn't know where it is and they sit in the waiting room, unspeaking. He's a nervous wreck, she can tell, because he keeps popping his knuckles and snapping the gum in his mouth. She'd yell at him except for the fact that she's nervous, too. She's never had anyone go with her before and she knows that he's going to get to see the baby on the ultrasound.

When they call her back, Puck turns away from her so that she can undress and slip into a gown. Then the tech comes in, squirts jelly on her stomach, and a few minutes later, there's a baby on the screen. Rachel's happy to see he's growing well and she puts her fingers out and traces the line of the baby's spine as he wriggles on the monitor. Puck just stares in awe and makes that choking sound again.

On the way back to her dorm, they don't say much. Rachel invites Puck in but he declines, saying he needs to get back to Lima because he has to work in the morning. She turns to go inside and he stops her by saying, "Hey, Rach?"

She swivels back toward him and sees him shove his hands in his pockets. He stares down at his shoes and toes a small pile of unmelted but dirty, leftover snow before he says, "Uh…ya know… thanks…" He becomes bolder and looks up at her. "Thanks for letting me come today."

Rachel smiles and runs her hand over her belly. "We're glad you did."

She has a scare in March. Sharps pains wake her up in the middle of the night and she's afraid she's going into early labor. Despite the fact that she's sure Shanelle hates her, the girl still drives her to the hospital. They quickly check her over and determine that everything is fine and that it's just a false alarm. She calls her fathers and she knows that they must have called Noah because, three hours later, he's by her bed. The baby is hooked up to an audible heart monitor and the sound of the beating fills the whole room.

"You sure you're okay?" he asks for the fourth time.

Rachel shakes her head and reaches out to grip his fingers with hers. It's the first time they've really touched since the day in the pool house but under the circumstances, she thinks it's fine. He doesn't seem to mind. "I'm fine. The baby's fine. We'll be released later today. The doctors just think I'm pushing myself too hard."

She knows she's said the wrong thing because Puck scowls. "Told you to not finish this semester. Get your ass home and let me take care of you both."

Rachel almost points out that if she did move home now, it would be her fathers who would be administering her care and not him but he seems so worried and concerned that she chooses not to say anything. "Noah, I just have a few more assignments to finish. I think I'll be home by the middle of April. I'll be fine. We'll be fine." Puck totally doesn't believe her but she can't find the energy to convince him. She knows her own body and she's not about to jeopardize herself or the baby.

When she's released, he helps her back to her dorm room and refuses to leave until he's positive that she's okay. But right as he's walking out the door, the baby kicks her hard.

"Noah! Come quick!"

Puck turns back around and darts for her, afraid she's fallen or the baby is coming or something awful is happening. But he sees her smiling so he slows down and exhales the breath he was holding. She grabs his hand as soon as he's within reach and presses against the spot. Then she looks at him and says, "Wait for it…" He waits and is rewarded with a solid kick against his hand. His face transforms into a huge smile and bends down, almost until his head is lying on her stomach. When the baby kicks again, she thinks she sees the biggest smile on his face that she's ever seen. She likes that smile.

On April 11th, she finishes all her classes (with stellar grades, thank you very much) and marks her sophomore year of college complete. Her fathers drive down from Lima and move her home but as soon as she gets settled in her room, Puck shows up. He tells her that he's been ordered to bring her to dinner at his house that night. His mother will simply not wait one more moment to see the mother of her unborn grandson. Rachel agrees because, knowing what she knows about his mother, she has no choice. Instead of protesting, she finds the best of her maternity dresses to wear.

Puck's mother is, as she expected, completely intense. As soon as Rachel walks in, Maggie Puckerman squeals, drops her hands to Rachel's belly, and starts cooing into her belly button.

Her son is clearly annoyed the moment she opens her mouth and reminds her, "Ma, that's not a speaker. Back the fuck up. You're scaring my kid."

Rachel smiles at his reference but the thought is squeezed out of her when Maggie grips her by the shoulders and hugs her for what feels like five straight minutes. She only lets go of her to make her sit down at the table and fill her up with food.

When dinner is over, Rachel yawns and Maggie immediately offers Puck's bedroom for her to nap in. Puck scowls but Rachel shakes her head. "No, that's fine. I'm just going to go home." She looks over at Puck and asks, "Noah, can you drive me home now?"

He's out of his chair and escorting her to his truck in about three seconds. As they back out of the driveway, he says, "Sorry she was so annoying. She's really excited."

Rachel grins as she stares at the window. "I could tell. And she was perfectly wonderful. Having a grandchild is huge."

Puck snorts loudly. "Yeah, especially because she's actually going to get to meet this one."

Rachel bites her lip because she has questions about that whole thing from four years ago but she's not sure they're at the place where they can talk about it yet. So she looks out the window and changes the subject, instead talking about the finishing touches they're putting on the guest bedroom to turn it into the nursery.

When they arrive back in her driveway, she pauses before she gets out. She's back home now and she's absolutely not sure how to handle this with him. Does he want to be around frequently before she gives birth? And what about afterward?

She thinks he must read her mind because he says, "I'll be over tomorrow after work…but you call me if you need anything. Anything at all, got it?" Rachel shakes her head vigorously in acknowledgement and then slides from his truck.

That night, the baby seems to be kicking a lot. Rachel strokes her belly gently and sings him (and herself) to sleep.

Two days later, Puck leaves her house at 8:30 in the evening but shows back up at 11, tapping on her window. Rachel's asleep and it scares the hell out of her. Realizing it's her doltish baby's father, she quickly opens the window and lets him in.

"Didn't want to wake your dads," he tells her as he stumbles through the window. When he gets himself into an upright position, she realizes that he's staring at her breasts in her white nightgown and she crosses her arms protectively.

"Noah? What are you doing here?"

Puck shrugs. "I was sitting at home and I realized that you could pop any fucking day and we haven't even had the first discussion on what to name him. And we need to know because I'll be damned if we bring him home still calling him "Baby Boy Puckerman" because you're still suggesting shitty, stupid names."

Rachel opens her mouth to protest and then realizes that, yes, it probably would be wise to have a name agreed upon before she goes into labor. Turning quickly, she grabs a few baby name books and tosses them at him. He grabs them and then kicks off his shoes, shoving her covers back so that he can crawl into her bed. She stares at him awkwardly until he says, "Ya comin'?"

Biting her lip with apprehension, Rachel picks up a pad of paper and a pen and then crawls timidly into the bed beside him. He casually flings his arm across her shoulders and opens up the book to the "As."

"Okay, here we go," he announces.

The discussion ends up lasting into the early morning hours. Over time, she sinks into the bed against him and relaxes, not minding his toying with the strands of her hair while he makes horrible faces at her name suggestions.

They take a break in the middle because she gets hungry. He runs downstairs and makes her a crunchy peanut butter and maple syrup sandwich on multi-grain bread and then, after licking the mixture from his fingers, decides it's pretty damn good and makes one for himself. Once he's done, he pads back upstairs and hands her the plate. Over their sandwiches, they tackle the name discussion again, starting with the "Ms."

Choosing a name that their child will go by for the rest of his life proves to be difficult. He shoots down every one of her name suggestions for being "wimpy", "gay", or "fuck no, that's just awful." She shoots down his suggestions because she has more hope for her son's future than him simply appearing on Ice Road Truckers and she knows that "Rocky Puckerman" would be destined for a life of blue-collar employment.

They make it all the way through the Zs, Rachel scribbling furiously on a yellow sheet of legal paper the whole time, before she hands him the list. He takes a pen and marks off five names. Then he hands it to her and she does the same. Back and forth they go until they're down to four names left. He eyes her curiously and then puts a thick, dark slash through one. She takes the pen and draws a neat line through one of the three remaining names. When they're done, they stare down at the yellow piece of paper for a few seconds before they look up at each other. Then Rachel smiles, which causes Puck to smile.

They have their name.

Zachary Garrett Puckerman comes screaming into the world three days before his due date. It's a Sunday morning so everyone is relaxing at Rachel's house because there's not much else to do. Puck and her fathers are watching some form of sports (she isn't paying attention) while she reads a book when the pain starts. And before she can even announce it, her water breaks and soaks her father's favorite recliner. The three men in her life scramble and all run in different directions, unsure of what to do. While they are all acting ridiculous (she sees her short father running around the house with a spatula in his hand. What the hell is he going to do with a spatula?), Rachel waddles upstairs, grabs her packed overnight bag, and calmly steps into the foyer. The men all skid to a stop and stare at her when she says, "I'm going to go sit in the car. When one of you decides that the right course of action is to take me to the hospital, I'll be waiting."

She marches outside before another contraction can knock her over. Puck and her fathers all run into each other trying to squeeze through the front door of the house. Once they finally figure out who is driving (Puck, because he has no qualms about disobeying traffic rules), they quickly arrive at the hospital and Rachel is whisked away to delivery.

It takes the squawking, red-faced baby eleven hours to finally arrive. Rachel's face is sweaty and streaked with tears because, as it turns out, giving birth is more painful than she had anticipated. Puck's in absolute awe of the baby and nearly faints when he finally gets to hold Zachary for the first time. She allows herself to collapse back into the uncomfortable hospital bed while Puck and her fathers take turns cooing at the baby. When Puck finally places Zachary back into her arms, Rachel smiles at him and realizes that this moment is far, far better than winning a Tony ever would have been.

It takes all of two seconds for her to realize that she has just lost her heart once and for all to a 7 pound, 5 ounce baby who has his father's nose but her chin. She's so enamored with this tiny, squirming, warm little bundle that she doesn't even roll her eyes when Puck makes a stupid comment about their son being born on 4/20. All that matters is that Zachary is there and he's beautiful and she doesn't regret anything that happened to get him there.

Rachel quickly decides that Tom Cruise is an asshole. He says that postpartum depression doesn't exist and she says, as she sits on the couch and cries her eyes out because Erica Kane's seventh husband just told her to go to hell, that it very real and that it just might kill her.

Zach is asleep upstairs and Noah and her fathers are all at work. Puck's pretty much moved into the Berry household. He only spends about one night a week at his mom's place and when he does, he calls so much that Rachel (or Zach) can't get any rest. Since Zach's room was formerly the guest room, Puck usually crashes downstairs on the couch but sometimes, he ends up sleeping beside her. The first time he lies down by her, she's afraid it's going to be awkward or that he's going to try to use some of his best moves on her but then she falls asleep before she can even give it some serious thought. When she wakes up a few hours later, Puck has Zach in his arms and both of them are asleep. Then Zach cries, waking up because he's hungry, and Rachel nurses him while Puck rolls away and falls back to sleep.

But the postpartum depression is making her crazy. She loves Zach, she does. He's the most amazing thing she's ever seen. Even though he's only six weeks and doesn't do much, she can tell that he's going to be a brilliant physicist or cure cancer. But then he starts to scream like his little limbs are being branded with a hot poker and she can't get him to stop and she feels like the worst mother that has ever, ever lived. When Noah gets home that afternoon, he sees that her hair is a mess, her face is streaked with tears, and she looks frazzled. He quickly takes the baby from her arms and rocks him until he's asleep. When he comes back downstairs from putting Zach down, Rachel is in the kitchen with her fathers.

"Noah," the tall father says, "could you please get our daughter out of the house for a while tonight? We'll watch Zach but I think she needs some fresh air and time with other adults."

Rachel protests loudly but the three men who seem to rule her life (along with the fourth one upstairs) pretends not to hear her.

Ninety minutes later, she has her hair curled, make-up on her freshly-scrubbed face, and Noah is leading her out of the house. They drive in companionable silence and end up at a greasy spoon diner on the edge of town. Rachel knows the food is all going to be full of fat and carbs but she's so hungry that it doesn't even matter.

As soon as they sit down, they're approached by the waitress who drops the menus off and then scurries away. Once Rachel decides on dinner (and she's eating meat. Being pregnant and then a nursing mother has made her do weird things), she folds the menu closed and looks around the diner. She sucks in a breath when she realizes she's staring at Finn Hudson, who is staring back at the both of them.

Finn walks over to the table while Puck is trying to decide between a hamburger or chopped steak (Rachel doesn't see how they're that different) and says, "Uh…hey, guys. I…uh…I read the announcement in the paper. Congratulations, I guess."

Rachel looks up at him and genuinely smiles. Finn has toyed with her heart so many times that she should wear bulletproof armor around it now. But this time when she sees him, her stomach doesn't do that flippy thing it's done since she was 16 and her pulse doesn't quicken. Instead, her stomach growls and all she wants to do is order her dinner.

"Thanks, man," Puck says, a smile gracing his face. "He's a pretty awesome little dude."

"Do you have pictures?"

Rachel watches as Puck pulls out his phone and flips it open because of course he has pictures of his son. Finn takes the phone and looks at the pictures and smiles. Looking at Rachel, he says, "He's beautiful."

Beaming, Rachel agrees. "Yes, he is. We can't decide who he looks more like but he's definitely a beautiful, special baby." Just then, the waitress comes back and takes their order. Finn clears his throat and then quickly excuses himself, promising Puck he'll call him.

The two sit quietly for a few minutes and then Puck says, "Now that you're back in Lima, ya think you're gonna try to give it another shot with Finn?"

Rachel's eyes widen and she finds herself quickly shaking her head. "No way. Absolutely not. That ship has sailed and sunk. Three times is enough. Besides, I have enough men in my life right now."

Puck smirks at her and leans back in his seat. She can feel him looking at her and even though he looks at her all the time and has for months, her face heats up at his perusal. She's relieved when their plates are dropped in front of them and they can dive in. Her appetite is her distraction from the fact that he seems to be studying her with interest.

Later that night, she definitely knows that something is up. After they get back home from dinner, they both head upstairs to check on Zach. He's asleep on his back and is rhythmically sucking on his binky. Rachel checks to make sure he's not too warm and then turns on the night light that she keeps near his bed. When she turns back around, she sees that Puck is looking at her and not Zach.

Feeling self-conscious, she crosses her arms and hugs them to her body. "What?" she asks him in a soft whisper.

Puck just shakes his head and continues to look at her. She's unnerved and annoyed and so she quickly pushes past him toward the nursery door. But as she's passing him, he snags her wrist, pulls her toward him, locks his fingers into her hair, and kisses her. It's fast and wet and it's the first time it's happened since the day they made Zach. When he pulls away, he quickly turns on his heel and disappears down the stairs towards the kitchen, leaving Rachel standing there in a daze. She goes into her bedroom to change into her nightgown and waits for him to come upstairs. When he doesn't, she quietly heads down the steps and finds him asleep on the couch. She doesn't know why she's hurt because he doesn't sleep by her side every night but after that kiss, she expected him to at least stop by her room before going to bed. Turning, she heads back upstairs before he wakes up and discovers her standing there.

They end up being roommates. Puck gets into his head that they're burdening her fathers and starts nagging her about moving to their own place. The idea of leaving her childhood home, where she's depended on her fathers since she found out she was pregnant, is more than a little scary. But Puck is insistent that they need to give her fathers a break and her fathers are hugely supportive, quickly offering any assistance that they might need. Puck tells Rachel that they're just sick of hearing the baby cry at 2am and smelling shitty diapers all the time.

When Zach is twelve weeks old, they move into the duplex that Puck found out about through a connection at work. It's tiny and only has two bedrooms. Zach gets one, of course, and Puck makes sure Rachel has the other one. Just like back at the Berry household, he sleeps on the couch some nights and next to Rachel very rarely.

Rachel finds that she likes living with Puck. She misses having her fathers around but discovers that a routine is easier to establish when it's just the three of them. It's near the end of July and she plans to start going to school again in August. Puck's working full time in construction and is actually bringing in a decent amount of money. Her fathers help out, too, because they're not about to let anything happen to their grandson. Puck's mother makes a nuisance of herself but Rachel is thankful because she wants to spend so much time with the baby that it gives her a chance to do a few things on her own.

She finds that she absolutely loves their evenings at home. Once Zach is asleep, she and Puck normally have dinner (they take turns cooking) and then they settle down in the small living room. She's usually on the computer and he's watching television but they talk back and forth. They finally have real, adult conversations that honestly, she wasn't sure he was capable of having. As it turns out, he is deeper than the shallow end of the baby pool. He has a great sense of humor and even though he makes fun of her a lot, he also makes her laugh. And not just little giggles but big, deep laughs that cause tears to spring to her eyes. She finds herself relaxing around him more and more. At night, she sometimes wonders what would have happened if she had ever known him this well in high school. Would they have dated longer than a week? Would she have let Finn break her over and over again if she would have known that Noah could be so… so much more? She shakes the thoughts from her head immediately, though, because the subject of what Noah is to her is far more confusing than anything else in her life and she's not ready to deal with it.

About four weeks after they move in together, Rachel finds herself curled against Puck on the couch as they watch a stupid movie on TV. Puck's laughing and Rachel's talking (bitching) about the lack of intellect of the youth of America. Puck shushes her, telling her, "You're only allowed to bitch during commercials, babe."

Rachel lets out a pronounced "hmph" and turns back towards the television. When a commercial comes on, Rachel announces that this is the single stupidest movie she's ever had the displeasure of wasting her eye energy on. When Puck just rolls his eyes and doesn't respond, Rachel launches into a tirade about the "MTV generation" and after she goes on for nearly two minutes, Puck pushes himself up on his knees, bends over her, and presses his lips against hers. She squeaks against his mouth and then kisses him back, allowing his tongue entrance into her mouth. He finally pulls away when the movie comes back on and she sits there, too stunned to say anything.

Rachel eyes him carefully and sees him smirk before he tosses popcorn into his mouth. Later that night, he sleeps beside her. He doesn't try to touch her or even kiss her again but she falls asleep to the smell and the heat of him next to her and it makes her insides burn in a way she hasn't felt since that day in the pool house.

The first time they end up in bed together (which is actually the second time), Zach is twenty weeks old. Rachel notices that Puck's been acting weird all evening and after dinner, she confronts him about why he's so jumpy.

"You don't wanna know," he tells her as he pushes past her and walks into the living room. She walks him kick off his shoes and pull the belt from his pants, draping it over the chair. Then he collapsed against the pillows, tucking his arms behind his head, and stares at her.

"Noah, really, what's wrong?" She crosses her arms and leans against the edge of the couch, waiting for him to answer.

"It's nothin', Rachel," he says, tight-lipped.

She sits down on the closest cushion and looks at him. "I'm not leaving until you tell me what's wrong. Maybe I can help you? Maybe make it better?"

Puck groans and closes his eyes, rubbing his hand over his face. When he moves his hand again, he says, "Unless you wanna let me fuck you, I'm not sure there's really much you can do."

Rachel sucks in a breath and stares at him as her face reddens. She feels her cheeks burning and realizes that her breathing is all off and she needs to leave the room.

"I..I.." she sputters, "I assumed you were having your needs addressed elsewhere."

See, the thing is, they've never established any kind of rules. Other than the two times he's kissed her, there's been no indication that he wants anything more than to play a huge role in Zach's life. Rachel had refused to allow herself to think about how he was handling his sex life and she just assumed it was happening during those times that he told her he was "out with the guys." She won't pretend that it doesn't make her jealous when she thinks about him with other women but she didn't really have any plans to do anything about it. Things were complicated enough between them without adding sex to the mix.

"Nope," Puck says. "Haven't been laid in…fuck, so long that I can't even fucking remember."

Rachel bites her lip and says, "That's surprising. I really thought you were…taking care of that."

Puck snorts and shakes his head. "Unless you count me jerking off in the shower every goddamn day, no, there's been no "taking care" of anything. We do have a new baby, ya know? That shit's exhausting, even if it is awesome."

Rachel opens her mouth and then closes it again. She's not sure what to say. She's had sexual urges of her own in the past several weeks and she's blamed it on her hormones finally returning to their pre-pregnancy levels. But now, knowing that she and Noah are in the same situation makes her cheeks flame and her body ache even more than it has been recently.

She grabs a strand of her hair and twists it through her fingers nervously. "We could… you know…." She offers timidly.

Puck stares at her like she's speaking some foreign language and finally asks, "Excuse me?"

Rachel closes her eyes and says, "I said that we could… we can help each other out." When she opens her eyes, he's gaping at her. "That is," she adds quickly, "if that interests you."

When Puck doesn't say a word and instead continues to stare at her, humiliation races through her body. How stupid is she? Of course he doesn't want to have sex with her. She's the mother of his child and his roommate but that's it. She continues to watch him, waiting a few more seconds and when he doesn't say anything, she stands and bolts. She can't believe she basically just threw herself at him. She marches quickly down the hallway toward her bedroom but just as she passes Zach's room, she's suddenly pressed into the wall and Puck's mouth is on hers.

He runs his fingers over her sides and across her back before he slides his hands into her hair and tips her head back, kissing a wet line down her throat and into the neckline of her shirt.

"Are you sure?" he asks against her skin. "Because I really fuckin' wanna…"

Rachel nods, her chin brushing against the top of his head. Puck's hands slide down to her bottom and he lifts her thighs, wrapping her legs around him. Then he heads down the hall, drops her onto her bed, and peels his shirt over his head.

The second time is way, way better than the first time. It's been a very long time and Rachel flies apart nearly as soon as he touches her. But he pushes her higher and higher until she shatters again into a thousand, electrified pieces before he lets himself go, collapsing on the bed beside her in a sweaty, shaking heap. He flops his hand over his eyes and breathes out, "Shit, you don't know how much I needed that."

And then, less than then minutes later, the third time puts the first two times to shame.

Everything changes after they have sex. It's like they went from roommates with a baby to a couple with a baby overnight. Puck never sleeps on the couch anymore and he's always finding excuses to run his hands across Rachel's shoulders or over her waist when they're in close proximity. She's always finding a way to end up with his arm around her. She finds that she loves having him so close.

She's fixing dinner one evening and Puck's on the floor with Zach, who is now 26 weeks old and growing like a weed. He's cooing happily as his daddy dangles toys above his head and Rachel stops what she's doing just to watch.

"You're really good with him," Rachel says honestly. And he is. He's such an amazing, attentive father.

"He's an awesome kid," Puck answers quickly as he grabs a teddy bear and makes it do a stupid dance while he squawks out Zach's name in a high pitched voice. Rachel finds herself laughing and drops down on the carpet beside the two of them. Zach turns his head and looks at her and she says, "Hey baby Z" and then grabs her own toy to let him bat at it.

When Zach gets bored, he starts to fuss. Puck pushes himself up and expertly prepares a bottle before dropping back down onto the carpet and pulling Zach into his lap. Zach hungrily takes the bottle and Rachel watches her baby boy eat like the little piggy he's becoming.

And then she transfers her gaze and watches the man who is staring down at the baby like he's the only thing on Earth that matters. There's still so much she doesn't know about him. They still have so much that they haven't even talked about, despite the fact that they do have frequent conversations and regularly find comfort in each other physically. But when he's holding their son and being the incredible father that she should have known he would be from the very beginning, she finds herself getting emotional. She swipes at her eyes and the quick movement attracts Puck's gaze. He turns his eyes toward her and sees tears collecting on her lashes.

"What's wrong?"

Rachel blurts out exactly what she's feeling at that moment. "What are we, Noah?"

Puck seems to take her question seriously and he mills it over for the longest time. Finally, he says, "Well, we're Z's parents."

Rachel nods, slightly frustrated because she knows that. "But are we anything else?"

Shrugging, Puck says, "Fuck, Rachel. We've got a baby, we live together, we screw, like, every fuckin' night… I'd say we're pretty much a couple at this point, wouldn't you?"

She gasps, shocked that he would so easily use that word to describe their situation.

She sees Puck watching her with interest and then he asks, "Right?"

"Do you even like me?" It sounds stupid coming of out of her mouth but she says it anyway because honestly, she doesn't know if he does.

Puck stares at her like she's got a screw loose and then says, "Of course I like you. Yeah, you're kinda nuts but you're funny and hot and you're an awesome mom and you can practically suck the—"

Rachel reddens and cuts him off. "Okay, I think I get the point. It's just…" she looks down at Zach and then up at him again, "…it's just that we haven't really ever established what we are and really, considering Zachary is in this world because we were unable to control our physical desires at a pool party doesn't necessarily mean that we're compatible and… I…I mean, we haven't exactly put any labels on our relationship or anything but since we started having sex regularly, I've found myself wondering exactly what we are to each other. And I'll admit that I'm insanely attracted to you, of course, and you're a wonderful father and even though we haven't made anything official, I can't imagine you not being part of my daily life. I depend on you too much and honestly—"


"—I feel like we could have an amazing relationship if we really worked on it because, despite the fact that you're usually disgusting and self-centered, you really do have a huge heart and I really admire what you've—"

"—Rachel Berry!"

Rachel jerks her head up and stops talking. When she meets Puck's eyes, she sees he's grinning.

"Are you done?"

Rachel lets out a jerky breath and tucks a strand of hair behind her head. "Not entirely… but it'll keep."

Puck throws back his head and laughs before removing the bottle from Zach's mouth and holding him against his shoulder to burp him. As he's tapping their son on his back, he says, "So I think this means you want to be my girlfriend, right?"

Rachel shakes her head and says, "I think it makes good sense."

Puck groans as he hands her Zach. When he stands up, he holds out his arms to take Zach from her again. As he's walking away, he says, "I'm gonna put Z to bed and then I'm gonna take my girlfriend into the bedroom and do nasty things to her, okay?"

Rachel laughs and hops up, turning their dinner off because it's obvious that he's not quite in the mood to eat. When he snags her around the waist and presses her against the fridge so that he can cup her breasts, he groans against her skin, "Can you breastfeed forever, babe? Your tits are huge and I fuckin' love 'em."

Rachel would tell him that he was being crude if she didn't need him to touch her beneath her clothing so badly that she feels like she could ignite. Pushing him towards the bedroom, she softly closes the door and strips quickly before lying down on the bed and staring at him with arched brows while she waits. Puck takes the hint and gets naked in record speed, stretching out next to her and rolling her on top of him.

Later, when they're dressed again and sitting at the dinner table, Rachel smiles into her glass of lemonade. Her life makes absolutely no sense. She gets pregnant by a man she dated for a week when she was 16 and then had irresponsible sex with one time over a year ago. Now she's the mother to the most amazing child to ever grace the Earth, she has no idea where her life is going, and she's about to embark on an actual relationship with her baby's father. She realizes that she's doing everything in reverse and has to laugh because she knows that 16-year-old Rachel Berry would tap her foot and lecture 20-year-old Rachel until she was blue in the face about the horrible mistakes she's made and how veering from her life plan was the saddest thing ever. But 20-year-old Rachel knows something that 16-year-old Rachel couldn't fathom: life changes in a heartbeat and if you don't get on the ride and strap yourself in, you'll be left on the loading platform alone while everyone else is having fun. And honestly, this is the best ride she could have ever hoped for. No, nowhere on her list of dreams was "have a baby with Noah Puckerman." And no girl dreams of being an unwed mother with a half-finished college degree and no real idea of what she's going to do with her talents now that everything is different. But every girl dreams of growing up and making a difference and she realizes that through Zachary (and hopefully with Noah by her side), she's probably going to do just that, regardless of where life may take her next.

Author's Note: Okay, got that out of my system. The whole story popped into my head thanks to the fact that funkified said the word "pregnancy" to me in an email yesterday. And then I went to the post office last night and the word "delivery" popped into my head and solidified that I needed to write yet another story featuring daddy!Puck. Gee, thanks for planting the idea in my head, Amanda! Now back to my WIPs!