Here's the thing about great days. You get your expectations set up so high that a day is going to go well so that when it starts falling apart it's so much worse then a typical bad day would be. It wasn't that it was the end of the world that the last bit of renovations had taken a couple hours longer but Puck had been looking forward to celebrating with Rachel and now he was back at the office sitting behind a mountain of paperwork. Sometimes being a responsible adult really blew.
"Hey boss?" Tina Cohen-Chang had been the second person he had hired when he opened his own construction company, right after her husband and his long time friend Mike. Moving to Ohio, starting a company in his hometown had been a fresh start and he didn't want to jinx the new fresh start by hiring some hot blond secretary that was going to be a constant temptation. Hiring his best friends wife had been the perfect solution.
"What is it Tina?" He should feel bad at the edge to his voice, but the days been long and as much as it sucks he's sure she must be used to it by this time. He's sure she's popping her head in to say that she's finished her work for the day and he doesn't really want to be the only one stuck at the office working late, misery loves company and all that shit.
"There's someone here to see you," he realizes as she comes further in the door that she looks puzzled instead of wearing the apologetic look she always gives him when she's leaving.
"Is it Rachel? I thought you called and told her that I was going to be late and that we had to cancel our dinner plans?" The words are out of his mouth but to be honest he's hoping she's there, because she'd be a perfect excuse for putting this work off until tomorrow. What man could turn away his pregnant wife looking for a promised dinner?
"No, I called her and she said that she was going to take a nap and for you to pick up some Chinese on your way home. It's so strange though, because I swear it's Brittany Pearce, you know from high school? She wouldn't give me a name and said she was here for personal reasons, not business." Tina has almost entirely closed the door, "do you want me to try and get rid of her? She seemed pretty adamant but I can see what I can do?"
"No, it's fine. Why don't you hit the road anyway? Tell your husband that he's a douche to leave me with all of this paperwork." He tries to make light of the situation but his high hopes for Rachel coming to his rescue have completely disappeared and are replaced by a feeling of dread. He only had one connection to Brittany Pearce from high school and to be honest its one that he would be more then happy to have left behind five years ago.
He waits a couple minutes before leaving his office because he doesn't know what Brittany is going to say but Tina's already going to report back to Mike with her appearance and he didn't really want to send her out with any new information. It wasn't that she was necessarily a gossip but she had become a good friend of Rachel's and he didn't want to put her in an uncomfortable position. He just wanted to let her say whatever it was that she thought she needed to say and get it over with.
She looks different then the picture of her he's carried since high school, in his mind he still pictured her with high pony tail and red cheerleader uniform. He hair is cut short and she has the look of someone who's been sick for a long time, he remembers that look on Rachel and could have lived the rest of his life without seeing it again. "Brittany, what are you doing here?" He's too confused by her appearance to bother with exchanging greetings and why not cut the shit and get to the reason she's there?
"Can you come outside with me?" Her voice sounds as frail as she looks, if it hadn't he probably wouldn't have followed her out the door. She seems determined to dance around whatever it is she's come to say, and to be honest he has no idea what the hell that would be. Next to his truck is parked the only other car in the lot, an economy sized car that has the distinct look of being a rental. Whatever he was expecting her to say or do when they reach the car he sure as hell doesn't expect her to gesture for someone to get out of the car or a kid slide out of the backseat.
He didn't expect it but that doesn't mean that he can't put the pieces of the puzzle together quicker then Brittany can say the words. He can't concentrate on what Brittany is saying because his mind is already a million miles ahead of her. How the fuck was he supposed to explain this to Rachel? "Puck are you even listening to me?" Her voice may sound weak but he can hear the anger in them and he forces himself to look at her.
She has her hands resting on the boys shoulders, he's wearing jeans and a t-shirt with a picture of a truck on it. Not that he had doubted it from the moment the kid had appeared out of the car, the mini mohawk he's sporting leaves little room for doubt that this is his kid. "This is Leo," she pulls him a little closer to her body, he's seen Tina do it before with one of her many children, it's a protective mother-like move. "He's four years old. He's your son."
The boy's eyes lock onto his at Brittany's words, the news obviously doesn't surprise him but Puck finds himself starting back into serious eyes. He hadn't needed Brittany to actually say the words but there's something about her saying them that actually pulls at his heart, for a moment it's forgotten that he's got a wife at home who's expecting his baby. At this moment he's looking at his son for the first time and a part of him is already in love with him just the way that he's in love with the baby Rachel is carrying.
"Where's Santana?" He hadn't known about this little boys existence but there can't be any doubt of who the mother is. Sure he was the asshat who had cheated on his wife but only ever with the same woman. When he had been caught up in the affair he hadd tried reassuring himself with the fact that at least he was only sleeping with one other woman. Somehow he doesn't think Rachel is going to take comfort in that fact.
"She's dead." Brittany says the words like she's giving the weather, he can tell by the way that she pulls the boy more tightly too her that it's not as easy for her to say as she makes it sound "She got drunk and drove her car into a semi about two months ago. You have to take him."
"I can't." There's a part of him that hates that he's saying the words but an even bigger par to of him that is going to fight like hell to save his marriage and the battle starts now. "I have a wife and she has no idea..."
"Leo," Brittany has dropped her gaze, "why don't you go get your things together? Then we'll say our goodbyes okay?" She watches him go before returns to the conversation that Puck is wishing away. "He has no where else to go. I'd rather put him in foster care then take him to Santana's parents, so either you take him or that's where he's going."
He understands the implication of Brittany's words. He knows that Santana came from a home life that almost mirrored his own; except her father downed expensive bottles of liquor and she and her mother covered their bruises with make-up imported from France. In the end it was all the same. He knows the answer to his question before he even puts it out into the world, but he has to exhaust all potential options. "Why can't you take him – you and San were always..."
She waves off his words before he can even finish the sentence, "come on Puckerman, you're not an idiot. I'm sick. The doctors have given me three months tops and I could barely convince my doctor to sign off on my bringing you here. He has nowhere else to go and it was either me bring him to you or social services showing up on your doorstep with him. Can't imagine what that would do to your marriage. But I'm leaving him with your tonight, because I want to spend the last couple months of my life at least able to imagine that you stepped up and did the right thing."
The boy is back with a blue and red backpack on his back and pulling a matching suitcase. "You ready to go little man?" He watches Brittany crouch down so she's at eye level with Leo, she straightens his backpack and runs her fingers through his hair but when she starts speaking to him it's in low whispers. Puck can only really make out sniffles and he's not sure if it's coming from Brittany or Leo, but Brittany keeps talking and he can see Leo's dark head bobbing up and down in agreement with whatever she's saying. After a couple minutes she pulls the boy close to her squeezing him tightly and her gaze connects with Puck's over Leo's head, even in the dim outside lighting he can see the tears in her eyes.
"I love you little man," she stands up and ruffles his hair, "you be good a good boy for me, okay?." She doesn't say anything else to Puck before she slides into the passenger seat of the car, he'd been so caught up in everything that was going on that Puck had completely missed the driver.
It's sheer desperation that brings him to an apartment building in the middle of Lima, he's spent the last hour driving around Lima trying to find answers. An hour later found him with a little boy who still hadn't spoken a word to him (how was he supposed to know what the hell to say to a four year old?) and no answers besides this one. The only answer that he did have was that there was no way in hell he could show up at home, wake Rachel from her nap, and inform of the fact that not only had he had an affair he had physical proof. Mike's place was out for the same reason. He had nowhere else to go.
He hasn't seen Finn in months, they'd grown up together and his mother had taken him in when life at home just got to be too much to stand. Things had been tense since he'd moved back two years ago because Finn was now married to Puck's on again off again girlfriend from high school and the only opinion that Rachel and Quinn seemed to share was their mutual loathing of each other. His first option would have been to take the kids to Mike's but he can't stand the look the look on Tina's face when he shows up and has to explain. It's not that they wouldn't take him, but he can't explain to Rachel's best friend before he explains to Rachel.
"Hey man, what's up?" Finn is always Finn and for that Puck is grateful, and maybe that's the real reason that he's standing in Finn's doorway and not Mike's. He may be married to a huge bitch that Puck can't stand any more then his wife can, but Finn's been his friend for a long time and Puck knows that Finn's got his back.
"Can we come in? I really could use a favor." He moves slightly to the side to give Finn a glance at the boy that's hiding behind him. The expression on Finn's face tells him everything he needs to know, with the exception that Leo's got a tanned skinned tone that he'd inherited from his mother the boy is his miniature and he needs to keep Leo out of the prying eyes of Lima until he can figure out how he's supposed to tell his wife.
Because here's the thing, how the hell are you supposed to tell your pregnant wife that you'd cheated on her? That it was a long time ago and so far in the past that he could go months without even thinking about it. He had to figure out what to say to Rachel but to do that he had to know that Leo had a safe place to sleep because already the same protective feeling he had when Rachel would trip or some douche at the mall would bump into her had kicked in. He would do anything to protect his son, but would the cost be his wife?
True to her word Rachel is asleep when he finally makes it home. The soundtrack to Rent is playing and she's curled up on the couch, she's changed into a pair of pajama's she looks so peaceful that he would be content to just let her sleep. He can't tell her tonight, he's made up his mind as soon as the thought has crossed his mind. He's about to upset everything she understood about her life and she at least deserves a good night's sleep first.
"You're home," she stretches and smiles at him, "did you bring home food?"
He actually had made it home with food despite his mental state. He'd been pulling into the development that he and Rachel had bought a home in two years ago, when Tina had texted to remind him to take food home to his wife. He'd thought that he would be relieved for the 45 minute reprieve from having to go home and face his wife, instead he had spent the last 45 minutes alternating between making small talk with the owner of the restaurant and trying to figure how he was going to say what he needed to say.
"It's in the kitchen," he hoped that she's still waking up and misses the apprehension in his voice. She seems to because she kisses him lightly on the cheek before heading through the living room and into the kitchen.
"So, I was thinking," she's already pulling food out of the bag when he makes it into the kitchen, "I know that I talked you into waiting to find out what we were having until the baby is born but I think I've changed my mind. I thought it would be an amazing surprise, and it totally would, but I found the two cutest nursery sets and they aren't very gender neutral. I just don't think I can wait five more months." She must take his expression as disappointment because she rushes on, "if you want to wait we could find a way for you to wait. Like I could keep the stuff at Tina's house? Or you could just not go into the nursery or something. You don't have to know but I just don't think I can really go without."
"Come on Rach, you know I was just going along with what you wanted I've been dying to know from the start." He's forcing himself to be a part of the conversation, he's already made up his mind that he's not going to tell her tonight so he might as well enjoy the evening with his wife. He can't decide how he thinks the news is going to hit her. Obviously she's not going to be thrilled with it, how could she be? But they had been through a lot in the last five years, her leukemia diagnosis, the move to Lima when she finally won hard fought for remission. They both acknowledged that her cancer may have saved their marriage. She'd insisted on a marriage counselor and as much as he would like to have said it was all bullshit he believes that Dr. Ramsey had helped put them back together. So he's holding onto kernel of hope that she's going to be pissed but acknowledge that when he was having the affair they had been a bad place in their marriage.
It might be a long shot but it's the only shot he had.
"I'm glad you said that," she beams at him before taking her seat at the kitchen table, her plate piled high with her favorite foods. "I called and made us an appointment for an ultrasound so that we could find out tomorrow. I figure you got your job done and you promised to take me out to dinner but got stuck at work late, so you could play hookie for at least lunch tomorrow and we could go?"
The opportunity is too perfect for him not to take it. He was being handed the chance to spend some time with Rachel before it was too late and he was going to jump at the opportunity. "Why don't we both take the day off? Mike can handle things for the day and your students are college kids getting ready to go into finals, I know they love you but it probably wouldn't break their hearts if you canceled classes for the day. We can spend the day just the two of us, maybe sleep late for once, enjoy being free to spend the day in bed or go out and do whatever?"
She likes the idea, he can tell before she even voices her pleasure by the way her eyes crinkle at the corner and her smile shines. "I could handle that, besides I can just email out the assignment." She's off then, on a tangent that has nothing to do with him or their day off, instead about the assignment she had her students working on. She loved teaching. He had thought that she was never going to love anything as much as she loved being on the stage but everything had changed when she had gotten sick.
She was in the middle of a run playing Elphaba on Broadway, it was her dream role and she was pouring her entire heart into it and he was letting her distance herself more and more. At that that point he'd been sleeping with Santana for months and explaining his guilt away by her dedication to the one thing she loved. One day she was perfectly fine and the next she had collapsed minutes before a Saturday matinée and within a week Puck had been convinced that she was going to die. It had been a wake up call for both of them. He had been reminded that even though she was cold and distant at times he still loved her more then anyone else in the world and she had realized that as much as she loved the stage there was so much more to life.
So he had walked away from Santana and when she was back on her feet she had walked away from the stage. They had rebuilt their lives in Lima, they were quieter then things had ever been in New York City but he loved running his own company and she was teaching drama at the university. It had taken them a long time to settle into their lives but up until about six hours ago he had been perfectly content with the life they had built. He would tell her the truth tomorrow, but he had ever intention of enjoying the day with her in the meantime.
A.N. So for any of you that were keeping track I clearly did not hit my 100 fic by my 10 year anniversary. Which, I'm not going to lie bummed me out since I had enough half finished one shots to get there but family drama and holiday's got in the way. Oh wells. I hope you all had a fabulous holiday season and wish you all an awesome New Year! I have every intention on actually finishing this fic, and actually half of it is finished, yay! Please r&r because it's the new year and everyone needs a boost at the start of the year!