He knew this was a bad idea. He knew everyone he knew was going to question his judgment and tell him he was crazy. Heck, even his mother was going to be angry with him over this decision. She would get over it though and help him, at least he hoped. He knew in the long run letting Quinn have her way could be the better choice, but from the second the nurse put her in his arms, he couldn't let Shelby take her.
Quinn had fought him tooth and nail for two days about this decision. She wanted to forget all about this mistake. Puck wanted to punch a wall when she'd called their daughter a mistake. From then on in his mind Beth was his daughter. Quinn wanted all shreds of Beth far away and Shelby seemed like her 'get out of jail free' card. He couldn't blame her; Quinn just wanted to get over this whole situation. He'd be lying if he said he'd never thought about it. His life would surely be simplified if had signed away Beth and pretended as if she never happened like Quinn did. He couldn't let her go though. He had trouble handing her back to the nurse to be weighed in the delivery room. Quinn refused to hold her after the first time, so the nurse handed Beth to Puck and he held her for hours.
The hospital released Beth at seven o'clock the next evening and Quinn is furious when Puck shows up at the hospital with a car seat. Puck sat in a rocking chair in the nursery holding Beth for nearly an hour while Quinn and her mother talked in her hospital room. He was ready for another fight when she walked into the room holding a packet of paper.
"Sign the papers," she told him, extending the packet and a pen to him. He carefully rested Beth back in the crib and stood, looking down at Quinn.
"Quinn, I told you I'm not giving her up. I don't want to fight about you anymore, but I'm not signing away my daughter. I won't be like my father. I can't abandon her," he yelled in a hushed tone, sounding more tired than anything.
"I'm not asking you to any more. I know you won't sign her away, but I am. I'm not ready to be a mom. I'm giving up my rights. She'll just be yours, and then my mother and I are leaving. She wants to start over after leaving my dad and I can't be around her while you're raising her. So just sign the papers so I can give them to the lawyer and I can go before anyone realizes I'm leaving and tries to say goodbye," Quinn said, calmly. Puck didn't understand how she could be so emotionally detached from her daughter, but he wasn't going to argue with her once she stopped arguing with him. He signed the papers and Quinn started to walk out of the room. When she reached the door she turned around and looked at them both one last time. "Just promise me you won't let Santana become her mother. I can't leave if I know Santana will be raising my daughter."
"I'm pretty sure Santana won't come anywhere near me once I smell like spit up all the time," Puck said, smirking. Quinn smiled too, although Puck would be lying if he said her smile wasn't laced with sadness.
At 8:37 Puck walked out of the hospital with Elizabeth Marie Puckerman and he had no idea what he was doing. He'd been at the hospital since regionals the two nights before. His mother probably assumed he was with Quinn or at the last glee meeting before summer, but she would be in for the shock of her life when he walked in the door with her granddaughter. He hoped she would be okay, but she was the one who told him to do what Quinn wanted.
When Beth started crying, Puck realized how in over his head he actually was. He pulled into a grocery store and walked inside. He was lost standing in the baby aisle. There were twenty different diaper brands and at least thirty different types of formula and he had no idea what he was supposed to get. He got lucky though. Another dad happened to turn the corner into the aisle on an evening diaper run and he was able to steer him in the right direction with diapers and formula. He found throwing a bottle together in the cab of his truck was easier than he thought it would be and he was able to get Beth back to sleep.
His mother just stared at him when he walked through the door with the carrier in one hand and a bag of diapers and formula in the other. She lectured him about working the nightshift just to feed him and his sister and how he could expect her to pay for all of a baby's needs on top of that. He listened to her yell knowing full well that after she'd calmed down he'd take Beth up to his room for the night.
"You have to let someone adopt her or you can't stay here," she muttered before ushering his little sister up the stairs. He was shocked to hear those words come out of her mouth. She was always talking about grandchildren and Puck having a family, but he assumed she hadn't meant this soon. He walked out and put Beth back in the truck. He had literally had nowhere to go. His best friend was still angry with him and he'd promised Quinn he wouldn't let Santana anywhere near the baby. He spent the night driving around trying to keep Beth asleep and happy.
The next morning, he woke up and started looking for another job; one that would give him more than ten hours a week. His only luck was a road construction job. It was overnight and he knew he'd be exhausted all the time, but he couldn't beat twenty-six dollars an hour and he needed the money more than anything. He started that night, but he was still at a loss for what he was going to do with Beth overnight. He couldn't exactly bring her with him or leave her in the car. He knew daycares weren't open overnight, not that he could afford one anyway, he remembered his mother complaining about how ungodly the prices were when his sister was younger. He thought about calling his mother, but he knew she'd say no so he decided not to even bother asking.
There was only one person he thought might say yes and that's how he ended up knocking on the door of a yellow house at the end of Cauliflower Road. He was exhausted and baby carriers were much heavier than he'd ever anticipated. He was mentally calculating how much apologizing it was going to take to get Finn and Carole to watch Beth for the night when Rachel slowly opened the door.
"Noah, what are you doing here? Is that a baby?" Rachel asked, stepping aside so he could come in. He set the sleeping baby down next to the couch and sunk in before starting his story. He told her everything from Quinn leaving to his mother kicking him out. By the end of his tale she was sitting beside him with her arm around his shoulders, comforting him the way he knew she would. Rachel was the closest thing he had to a friend right now.
"Rachel, I wouldn't even ask if I had anyone at all, but I have to star my new job in a few hours and I just need someone to watch her. You are one of the only people still talking to me and I'm desperate. Plus, you are the only one I trust with her. So will you please consider watching her tonight? I know it's going to be awful being up all night and I'm sorry, but-"
"Of course, I will, Noah," she said, resting her hand on his knee so he wouldn't have to beg anymore.
"You can stay here, too," Hiram said. Noah turned around to see both Hiram and Leroy standing behind him in the doorway to the kitchen. Judging by the looks of pity on both of their faces, they'd heard his whole sob story.
"That's really nice Mr. Berry and… Mr. Berry, but you don't have to do that, I'll figure something out," Puck said.
"No, we insist. At least until you get on your feet, Noah. Being a parent is hard enough. You have to do it alone and in high school," Leroy said.
"You really have no idea how much you are helping me out," Puck said, letting out a sigh of relief.
"We still have all of Rachel's stuff. We definitely have the crib and a lot of clothes," Hiram added.
Their arrangement was perfect. Puck worked six nights a week on the road crew and Rachel was more than happy to play nanny to Beth while he worked. Most of the time they both ended up asleep on Rachel's bed when one of her fathers came in to check on Beth in the morning; they didn't think anything of it. Rachel and Puck weren't dating and even if they were, both Leroy and Hiram knew they were too exhausted to do anything they shouldn't have been.
Things changed when school started. Leroy convinced Puck to quit his job on the night crew and got him a job as an orderly as the hospital. The pay wasn't as great, but he worked fewer hours so he got to spend more time with Beth. Plus, he actually got to sleep at night something he was never going to complain about. Rachel was pretty good at keeping Beth quiet during the morning so he could sleep, but he felt guilty knowing she was exhausted too. They'd done an excellent job keeping Beth a secret. No one knew anything other than the fact that Quinn left with her mother. Rachel didn't exactly have anyone to tell and Puck wasn't talking to any of his friends anyway. Needless to say, everyone in the school stared when they walked in. Rachel was holding a now four month old little girl close to her chest and Puck had a backpack slung over one shoulder and a baby bag over the other. No one dare say a word as he rest his hand on her back making sure both her and Beth were unmarred as they made their way to the school daycare center. The only people who had the guts to ask any questions were the members of glee club. Puck and Rachel explained the situation to their fellow glee clubbers, who all sat quietly as they finally got answers to their questions.
Hanukah held a different kind of excitement for Rachel and Puck. They were sitting on the living room floor playing with Beth when she looked up at Rachel and said 'Momma'. They both looked at each other and then back at Beth.
"Noah, I swear I didn't have anything to do with this. I always say I'm Aunt Rachel. I never say Momma," Rachel said, quickly.
"It's alright. You kind of are her mom, Berry. I really hope that doesn't freak you out. I don't know what I would do without you," he said, leaning back on the floor. "I just thought she would say 'Dada' first."
As if on cue, Beth looked up at Puck and simply said, "Dada." Puck and Rachel both smiled and tickled Beth's belly until she giggled. Rachel laid down on the floor next to Puck as he lifted Beth into the air over their heads.
"We're kind of a family, aren't we?" Puck asked.
"Albeit a very unorthodox one, yes, I think we are a family," Rachel smiled and turned her head towards Puck. He moved his head forward and pressed his lips to his. The kiss lasted a few moments before her fathers cleared their throats in the doorway.
"Dinner is ready," Leroy said before her and Hiram left the room.
Over dinner Hiram and Leroy laid down some new ground rules for their current living situation. Given that Rachel and Puck had now taken to making out on the living room floor, them spending most of their nights in Rachel's bed so they could both tend to Beth was no longer going to be appropriate. It wasn't all that appropriate before, but knowing that they both usually just passed out, the Berry's had allowed it. As per their new rules, Puck moved into the guest bedroom and Beth stayed in the crib in the corner of Rachel's room. Puck argued, he knew whoever had Beth in their room would get little to no sleep, but Rachel argued that her room was bigger and Puck needed more sleep. He was the one with the job after all. He reluctantly agreed, but they both ended up asleep on the couch that night. Rachel curled up against Puck's side and Beth asleep on his chest.
Rachel, who was already set to graduate a semester early, used the summer of her senior year to finish up a semester of school and caught up with Puck who was shockingly on track to graduate on time. Beth sat with Hiram and Leroy as Rachel and Puck walked across the stage in June of 2012. Everyone moved to the Hummel's for a post-graduation celebration, where Puck surprised everyone by dropping to one knee in front of Rachel.
"Berry, we're already a family, why not make it official?" he said, holding an engagement ring in one hand and adoption papers in the other. Rachel kissed him and signing the papers before she even put the ring on. The adoption wasn't legal until Rachel's parents signed off on it, she was only seventeen, but she and Puck didn't care. They had their little family and that was all that mattered.
The young family moved to Columbus a few months later. Puck had clawed his way into the police academy and Rachel took twice the normal course load at Ohio State. Her parents paid their rent and Rachel's scholarship and Puck's miniscule rookie paycheck paid for everything else, but his paychecks got bigger and her classes got easier as time went on. Ohio State had a daycare center for Beth and when Rachel had a night class Finn, who also went to Ohio State, offered to watch her. That turned out to be one of Rachel and Puck's biggest arguments; he didn't want Finn watching his daughter, but she'd convinced him that short of hiring a nanny they didn't have any other options. It was only once a week for a semester and Rachel convinced him that he was being ridiculous. It didn't take long for Finn to become Uncle Finn. Puck wasn't thrilled, but Beth loved Finn so he wasn't going to fix something that wasn't broken.
When Rachel graduated, they both decided it was time to end their four year engagement and begin their marriage. The ceremony was small, but grand; Rachel wouldn't have allowed anything less and with Kurt holding the reigns, they together made it perfect. Beth was the perfect flower girl and she looked nothing less than adorable walking down the aisle in a carbon copy of Rachel's wedding dress. Her eyes lit up as she stood at the altar with her father watching Rachel float down the aisle in her lace wedding dress. After they said 'I do', Puck scooped Beth up and they all hugged; they were finally the family they'd been acting like for the past five years. Rachel kissed her husband and then her daughter. They left Beth with her father's when they left on their honeymoon where Rachel revealed something very important to him.
"Noah, I'm pregnant, we're going to have another baby," Rachel said, curling up in his arms before they fell asleep that night. His lips crashed against hers when she told him the news, he'd never been happier. In fact, the only person who was happier that Puck was Beth. She'd nearly tackled both of them when they informed her that she was about to be a big sister.
Settling into married life didn't take much effort for the Puckerman's, they'd been acting like a family for years. Puck transferred to the Lima police department and Rachel got a job at the high school teaching English and co-chairing the glee club with Mr. Schuester. They bought their first house and learned a few of the ups and downs involved in being your own landlord. Beth loved being close to her grandfathers and Maria Puckerman used her son's close proximity to finally make amends with him. Beth loved sitting in on glee practice. Mr. Schu would comment on how she knew the songs better than some of the kids in the club, to which she would grin smugly in a way that made it impossible not to know Puck was her father. She begged them to allow her to sing in competition, but Mr. Schu would laugh and explain that she had a few more years before she would do that. Beth would try and argue her points until Rachel picked up her little firecracker and carried her to the car.
By Thanksgiving, Rachel was showing and their son could no longer remain their families little secret. Everyone was thrilled for them and Beth was excited to no longer keep the secret that was 'killing her inside'. She happily wore her 'Big Sister' tee shirt to school under her clothes for the rest of the week. Rachel finished out the semester before going on maternity leave, but not without promising all of the kids in glee club she'd be back for Regionals and be conferencing with Mr. Schu to make their song choices.
"What should we name him? He's going to be here in less than a month," Rachel asked as the family sat on the couch watching The Princess and the Frog, Beth's favorite the first evening of Spring Break.
"Noah Jacob Puckerman Junior," Puck said.
"No. We don't need a Puck Junior. People will call him PJ and that's awful," Rachel concluded. She sounded crazy, but at eight months pregnant, Noah wasn't about to question her logic.
"What about Jacob?" Beth suggested.
"Jacob Puckerman," Rachel repeated, "I like it."
"Can his middle name be Danger?" Puck asked. Both Rachel and Beth looked at Puck like he was crazy. Beth may not have belonged to Rachel biologically, but all of her mannerisms screamed Rachel. Puck was shocked when Rachel simply nodded and turned her attention back to the TV.
"My brother's name is going to be Jacob Danger Puckerman?" Beth asked in disgust.
"And you're just going to have to deal with it, kiddo," Puck said, smiling.
Nothing seemed out of the ordinary that evening when the doorbell rang. Beth jumped off the couch and ran to answer it. There was always people her parents age coming to visit; her Uncles Kurt, Finn, Artie, and Mike and her Aunts Tina and Mercedes seemed to be a permanent fixture in her house, but this woman she'd never seen before.
"Beth, Sweetie, I can't believe it's really you. You're so big," Quinn said, crouching down to her level.
"My mommy says not to talk to strangers," Beth said quickly, backing away from the door frame.
"Your mommy?" Quinn asked, standing back up.
"Who is there, Baby?" Rachel asked as she waddled over to the door. Beth wrapped her arms around Rachel's legs.
"I don't know, Mommy. She said I was big," she said. Rachel looked like a deer caught in the headlights when she saw Quinn standing at her front door. Quinn looked equally as shocked upon seeing Rachel's swollen stomach and Beth hugging her worst enemy.
"Noah, I think you should come here," Rachel said slowly, her eyes not moving from Quinn. Noah wandered over.
"Quinn, what the hell are you doing here?" Puck asked, wrapping his arm around Rachel.
"Manhands? Really? You let Manhands raise her? I told you to stay away from Santana and you went to her?" Quinn asked, outraged, practically shoving her finger in Rachel's chest.
"Quinn don't talk to my wife that way," Puck said, before turning to Rachel and Beth. "I think it's your bedtime, Squirt. Go upstairs with Mommy and I'll be up as soon as I take care of this." He kissed the top of Beth's head before turning to kiss Rachel, letting her know that everything was okay.
After she tucked Beth in, Rachel sat out of view at the top of the steps listening to Quinn scream at Puck and hearing him scream right back. She couldn't make out everything, but she did hear Quinn throwing around words like court and lawyer, before hearing the door slam and seeing Puck round the corner up the stairs. He seemed surprised to see her, but he didn't say anything he just walked up the stairs and sat down next to her.
"What did she say?" Rachel asked, her voice cracking.
"She came to see Beth; to tell me that she made a mistake and she wanted to try to be a family. She was more than surprised to find out that we were married and you had adopted Beth. I guess when Santana gave her our address, she left out the fact that we were married and having another baby. She'd have been mad if I was with anyone, it has nothing to do with you baby," Puck said, kissing the top of head. "She started yelling about taking me to court when I said she couldn't see Beth, but when I, calmly I might add, explained to her that she signed away all of her parental rights to Beth and that you had legally adopted her she stormed out. She knows there's nothing she can do. She gave her up. She is as much ours as this little guy is." He rubbed his hand over her stomach.
"You promise?" Rachel asked, looking up at him with tears in her eyes. He wiped them away before smiling at her.
"I promise. She's just ours and I wouldn't have it any other way."