Title: Marry You
Characters: Lil!Puck/Lil!Rachel, the Daddies Berry, Mama Puckerman
Warnings: Possible sugar shock due to fluff ingestion
Summary: Lil!Puck asks Rachel's dads for her hand in marriage.
Disclaimer: Don't own it. Not mine. Don't sue.
A/N: From a prompt from the Puckleberry drabble meme. I'm working under the basic assumption that Rachel and her dads are Reform Jews, since the daddies Berry are gay. So in that vein, it's important to note that not all Reform Jews insist on keeping kosher. K? K. Reviews are lovely and always appreciated.
It's a beautiful, sunny Fourth of July in Lima, Ohio. A little hot, perhaps, but a perfect day for a picnic nonetheless. Hiram Berry begins pulling salads and condiments out of the cooler on the bench in front of him, setting the picnic table while he keeps an eye on Rachel and Noah as they climb down off the jungle gym. The park is full of families with young children so the playground is full (Hiram had expected as much, being that it's the nation's birthday), but neither Rachel nor Noah seems to notice that. Or, if they do, they just don't care. They look lost in their own little world as Rachel takes a turn down the slide and Noah stands at the bottom, waiting for her.
"Do you think we should be concerned?"
Hiram looks over his left shoulder at Aviva Puckerman. She's walking up to the table with a grocery bag in her arms and he smiles at her. "About?"
"Look at them. All those other children, and they only show interest in playing with each other."
Hiram accepts the bag from her and starts to unload it, pulling the bag of potato chips off the top. "Oh, I don't think we should worry about it. They've always been close. And since the only other Jewish child their age is Jacob Ben-Israel, that's hardly surprising."
"But they don't play with Jacob."
"Yes, well...Jacob is an...odd child. He has a tendency to be a bit...off-putting. And they do have a few other friends. Finn Hudson, for example. They just prefer to play together, it seems. Besides...they're good for each other. They balance each other out."
"This past year, I received more than a dozen calls from their teacher, Hiram. Each time it was because Noah became aggressive with Jacob or some other little boy in their class who got too close to Rachel, and he didn't like it. Once, he even told the teacher that he had every right to push David Karofsky because David made his Rachel cry."
Hiram chuckles and looks over at the playground where Noah and Rachel are swinging side by side. "His Rachel, huh?"
"His exact words. And when I asked him about it, he wasn't the least bit sorry. He said he had to protect her." Hiram smiles and Aviva sighs. "Don't you find it troubling that his first reaction to anger is violence?"
"I might find it troubling if I thought that really was his first reaction to anger. It seems to me that Noah only reacts with violence when someone hurts Rachel." When he sees Aviva still looks worried, he adds, "I actually think it's rather sweet. Noah is showing that he cares more for Rachel than he does for himself. He cares less about his punishment than he does about her safety. I wish more people were so selfless."
"I just wish he didn't look to a physical response as his first choice."
"It's only a phase, Viv. I'm sure he'll grow out of it before too long. Remember, he's only five. He has a lot of growing up left to do."
She looks over at the playground, where the children are playing. A little boy steps up to say something to Rachel and Noah steps in front of her, crossing his arms over his chest. Aviva sighs. "You think?"
He looks away from her and spies his husband Leroy hurrying across the park toward the picnic table, a cooler in his arms. "I'm sorry! I thought that meeting would never end. And then the traffic...horrible!"
"It's fine, Leroy. I got the coals started for you."
"Excellent." He leans over the picnic table and gives Hiram a kiss. "You're an angel." He begins pulling burger patties out of the cooler (including a veggie burger for his star, of course) and says, "So, Aviva...tell me what's new."
Hiram answers instead. "Well, sweetie, we were just talking about Noah's particular proclivity for violence."
Leroy lays the patties down on the grill one by one and laughs. "Uh oh...what poor little boy said the wrong thing to Rachel this time?"
"Do I want to know?"
"When I picked them up from day camp last week, I might have overheard Noah telling Colin Zimmerman that if he didn't keep his hands to himself, he'd really give him something to cry to his mommy about."
Aviva can't keep the horror off her face. "What?"
"Well, it turns out that during their lunch hour Colin may have attempted to push Rachel off the bench and take her juice box. Suffice to say, Noah wasn't very happy about that. So he reacted with an action that he believed constituted an adequate response to the disrespect she had been shown."
"Is that what he said to you?"
Leroy pulled out a brush and began coating the burger patties in barbeque sauce, flipping each over in turn. "More or less."
"Colin Zimmerman is nine years old."
"Yes, he is."
"Noah is five."
"Yes, he is."
She practically drops onto the bench, her eyes wide. "I'm not sure how I feel about this."
Hiram sits down across from Aviva and says, "I've always thought Noah to be a rather brave little boy."
She grimaces. "He's reckless. But then we all know he doesn't have the best role model for a father, so that's not really a shock."
Leroy shakes his head. "He's fearless, that's true, but I've never seen him do anything truly stupid. And you know, I'm pretty sure if he even so much as attempted to do something that could result in severe physical harm, Rachel would put a stop to it right away. A few weeks ago he wanted to try walking on the top of our fence, and Rachel was having none of it. She told him if he fell and hit his head, he could suffer brain damage or death. He didn't give the fence a second thought after that."
She closes her eyes and drops her head into her hand. "Of course he wanted to walk on top of the fence."
"Just the little one, near the garage. And even if he'd fallen off, the worst that could've happened is maybe a bruise or a scrape or two." He dismisses the whole thought with a wave of his hand, sending barbeque sauce flying over the table, just missing Hiram's head. "Not that I would have let him climb up there anyway."
Hiram pulls a napkin off the stack in front of him and starts wiping up the stray splotches. "Honey...careful where you aim that."
He sets the brush down carefully on the side of the table and Aviva says, "I know you wouldn't have let him. It's just...that's always the first thought that enters his head, you know? Oh...it would be really fun to climb this insanely tall tree and jump out of it! Not...oh, if I climb this insanely tall tree and fall out of it, I may break something or cause my mother to have a heart attack."
Hiram and Leroy laugh and shake their heads.
"He's just so...impulsive. He gives absolutely no thought at all to the consequences of his actions. I just know he's going to grow into a handful. And if I can barely handle him at five, how am I going to feel when he's sixteen? And Elijah's no help either. He's content to let Noah just...make his own rules. Boys will be boys, he says."
Hiram places his hand over the top of hers and squeezes comfortingly, smiling at her. "Noah's a wonderful boy, and you're a good mother. I really think he's going to turn out just fine. But in the meantime, he has you and he has us and most importantly to them, he has Rachel." She chuckles and shakes her head. "And since Rachel seems to be working very hard to act like his conscience, and he seems more than willing to let her, let's just hope he and Rachel stay friends for a very, very, very...long time."
"Burgers are ready."
Leroy starts pulling the burgers off the grill and Hiram cups his hands around his mouth and yells, "Noah! Rachel! Time to eat!"
They look out at the playground and Noah looks their way and drops down from where he's hanging in the middle of the monkey bars. He says something to Rachel who shakes her head vigorously and remains where she is, hanging completely still from one of the bars. He walks closer and says something else and she nods slowly, so he steps behind her and gives her a little nudge and she begins to swing her body. When she has enough momentum, she brings a hand forward and grabs onto the bar in front of her. She scales the rest of the bars in practically no time at all and when she's finally down on the ground safely, she jumps up and down and claps her hands at Noah, who just smirks and nods his head toward their parents at the picnic table.
They start running towards the table and Aviva says, "You know, it's a shame we aren't Orthodox. If we were, we could just arrange the marriage right now."
As they sit down to eat, a little further into the park they hear a band start to play. Their set list seems to be composed mainly of clean versions of classic rock songs and any song that has a line in it about the glories of being American (Leroy keeps his fingers crossed all through dinner, hoping the band won't play that awful Toby Keith song), but even though the music selection isn't exactly to their taste (Noah is the lone dissenter, even saying once, "Zeppelin rules!"), the band is clearly talented, so they aren't unpleasant to listen to. Really, it's just wonderful that they can sit here as a little extended family and spend a holiday together. (Elijah never shows, but no one is surprised by that, not even their Little Miss Brightside.)
They're picking up some of their garbage when Rachel says, "Mrs. Puckerman? Would you please take me to the restroom?"
"Sure, sweetheart. I have to use the restroom too. Noah? Do you have to go?"
He shakes his head no but Leroy has to, so he accompanies the ladies to the restrooms while Hiram and Noah keep cleaning up their table. Hiram is putting the top back on the pasta salad when Noah says, "We need tuh talk."
"Oh, we do?"
"Yep. Man tuh man."
"So it's a serious talk then." When the little boy gives him a very solemn nod, Hiram asks, "Should I be sitting down for this?"
He takes a few seconds to think the question over then nods his head firmly. "Yep."
"Okay, Noah. I'm sitting down. What is it?"
"I'm gonna marry Rachel."
It takes a great deal of effort on Hiram's part not to let his smile show, but somehow he manages it. "You are?"
"Uh huh. An' I was jus' gonna marry her, but she said I had tuh ask you first, 'cause that's what I'm s'posed to do."
"So you're asking for my permission to marry my daughter?"
Hiram pretends to think it over, tapping his chin with his index finger. "Hmmm. Well, I don't know, Noah. How do I know you'll be a good husband for my Rachel?"
He lifts his arms up and flexes his muscles. " 'Cause I'm strong. I'll protect her."
"I can see that. But it takes more than just physical strength to be a good husband. What about when she annoys you or makes you mad? Will you still want to be her husband then?"
He shrugs. "She's been singin' that tuhmorrow song for almost forever and it's kinda annoying, but it's better when she sings that than when she doesn't sing anything at all, so I don't tell her it's annoying. I jus' tell her her voice is pretty, 'cause that makes her smile and then she gives me her extra cookie. I like cookies. 'Specially the ones with M & Ms. Those are the best."
Leroy comes walking up to the table and Hiram turns to him and says, "You got here just at the right time. Noah is asking for our daughter's hand in marriage."
"Oh really?" At Noah's firm nod, Leroy asks, "Noah...why do you want to marry Rachel?"
" 'Cause she's pretty and smart and she sings good and she smells like strawberries and that's my favorite kinda ice cream, even though she doesn't eat ice cream 'cause she says it's bad for her singing."
Leroy looks over at his husband. "Well, it's difficult to argue with logic that sound, isn't it honey?"
Hiram smiles. "It is indeed. Okay, Noah. If you promise to be good to our Rachel, to take care of her and protect her and always support her, then yes...you have our permission to marry her."
"Cool." Noah gives another little serious nod and Hiram has to resist the urge to wrap his arms around the little boy. Somehow he doesn't think that'll go over all that well. "You won't be sorry."
"We're sure you'll make us very proud fathers-in-law, Noah."
Rachel comes walking up to the picnic table in her little yellow dress, Aviva a few steps behind her, and Noah says, "Your dads said we can get married. Wanna get married right now?"
Rachel puts her hands on her hips. "Don't be silly. We can't get married right now. I need a dress and flowers and a veil and you need a suit and we need a cake and music and flower girls. That'll take at least another day."
He shrugs. "K. Wanna get married tuhmorrow then?"
"Yes, Noah. I'll marry you tomorrow."
"Cool. Race you tuh the swings!"
They run off toward the playground and Aviva says, "What was that all about?"
"Noah asked us for Rachel's hand in marriage." Hiram sees the smile growing on Aviva's face and he can't stop himself from smiling too. "I guess we don't need to worry about arranging anything."
"Good." Leroy sits down at the table and pulls a bag of marshmallows out of the mostly empty cooler on the ground next to him. "I'm not sure I could handle giving up bacon."