A/N: So, this is part of the Expect The Unexpected series I'm working on, which is, frankly, exactly what it sounds like. As part of my everlasting quest to defy any and all possible cliches, something completely unfathomable occurs with one member of the Glee club in each fic of the series. The goal? To have each character (even Matt and Mike, poor underfed pups) put so far out of their league that they should be OUT of character, but still remain IN character. This is installment number eleven, but none of them are connected plot-wise, so there aren't any prequels you have to read for any of them. Some will be tragic, some scary, some mysterious, some humorous. Enough jabber - please enjoy!
It's All Greek To Me
Puck had been planning on scamming some beer from the 7-11 down the street from his house when he spotted Lauren on the sidewalk up ahead, talking to some old dude he didn't recognize. A little worried that it might be Patches, the barking homeless man outside the Lima Public Library, Puck sped up and got ready to kick the crap out of the guy in case he was harassing her. As he got closer, though, he saw that this man stood much taller than Patches, and had much cleaner clothes than any homeless dude. His hair and beard were scruffy, though, and his suit looked like it had been dragged through a puddle and then dried hanging on a tree branch (Puck was pretty sure that Kurt would've had a conniption if he'd seen it). Once he was in earshot, he heard the two of them arguing.
"—can't believe you actually like it here," the man was saying. "Look at this place! It's a dump!"
"What, compared to the leaking roofs in your moldy house? I'd say this was a paradise," Lauren snapped, and by the tone in her voice Puck realized that this guy wasn't a stranger to her.
The man's eyes narrowed at her. "My house is fine."
"You have barnacles in your bed. It's disgusting."
Puck wrinkled his nose. Where the hell did this guy live?
The bearded man smirked at her. "Well, just remember, you can back out any time."
Lauren scoffed and rolled her eyes. "Dream on, fish-brain."
"Uh, Lauren?" Puck finally said as he approached.
She jumped in surprise. "Oh. Hi. What are you doing here?"
"…This is my street."
The man looked from Puck to Lauren and back again. "Ah, is this the boyfriend?"
"What's it to you?" Puck asked, wanting to sound threatening but not really knowing where the stranger stood with Lauren, so he kept his tone only vaguely searching. Damn, the things he did for that girl.
"Uh, this is my…uncle," Lauren said. "Donny."
Donny held his hand out. Puck shook it, and forced himself to hold back a grimace when he felt that the man's skin was sticky and damp. There were also flecks of green in his hair and beard.
"Dite tells me that you're a musician," Donny said, narrowing his eyes slightly as if he was evaluating every tiny movement Puck made.
"…Who told you that?"
Donny let out a forced chuckle. "Sorry, that's my nickname for Lauren."
Donny raised his bushy eyebrows. "Well?"
"Oh, uh…yeah. I play guitar." Puck shrugged. "A little piano, too."
"Impressive," Donny said aloofly. "You should meet Lauren's brother Paul. He's quite the musician as well."
Puck turned to look at Lauren. "You have a brother?"
"Half-brother," Lauren corrected tightly. She shifted her weight to the other foot, obviously uncomfortable.
Donny grinned, enjoying his niece's embarrassment. "Actually, Noah, she has eight half-siblings."
Puck stared at her in shock. Why hadn't she even mentioned them? Lauren's lips tightened as she glared at her uncle.
"Say, Dite," Donny continued. "Why don't you invite Noah to come to dinner tomorrow?" He turned to Puck. "Our family's having a little get-together at Breadsticks. A reunion, of sorts. I'm sure they'd all be pleased to meet you."
Puck was pretty sure that Donny's underlying tone was saying we all just want to see if you'll live up to our impossible standards, and if not, make you squirm.
"Uh, yeah. Sure thing," he said, curious as to whom Lauren was related and why she'd never talked about them.
Lauren, on the other hand, looked a little panicked, which was an unusual expression to see on her face and didn't suit her at all.
"Excellent," Donny said. "I'll see you tomorrow, then. So nice meeting you." He turned to his niece. "Remember, Dite – you can always admit defeat."
Lauren scoffed and rolled her eyes, the panicked expression vanishing. "As if."
Donny shrugged, his suit hanging limply on his shoulders. "All right, then. So long." And with that, he slid into the Chrysler Seabring parked by the curb, revved the engine, and drove off.
Lauren visibly relaxed once he had turned the corner. "You don't have to come to this thing, you know," she said.
Puck shrugged. "I want to."
"Why? You hate stuff like this."
Puck ignored the question and asked one of his own. "Why'd you never talk about your family before?"
Lauren sighed, crossing her arms. "I don't like talking about them, okay? I have a big family, and they're all assholes."
"And you think I wouldn't get that?" Puck countered. "Lauren, my dad's a deadbeat and my mom's a drunk."
She sighed again, clearly under stress. "Look, it's hard to explain, okay?" She shook her head. "You know what, Puck, it's probably better that you just don't come."
"What? No, I want to. Why, are you, like, ashamed of me or something?"
"I'd be ashamed if you were some wimpy nerd or something like that. Trust me, though, being with my family is not fun."
"Yeah, well, I like challenges."
Lauren couldn't help but crack a grin at that. "Okay, fine. Just…if you're gonna come tomorrow, there's a few ground rules we have to lay down."
Puck thought for a second. Her relatives couldn't be so much worse than his, could they? "Yeah, okay. Sure."
"Okay, first things first," Lauren said, turning to walk with him towards the 7-11, her arm linked with his. "Never – and I mean never – insult any one of them. It's a bad idea, and it'll just get you into trouble for the rest of your life. You don't want it."
"That sounds easy enough."
"Well, you'd be surprised at what some of them consider insulting. Don't make bets with them, don't challenge them – nothing. Got it?"
Puck nodded. "Yeah, sure. Are they mob bosses?"
"I wish," Lauren snorted. "The second thing you have to remember is to watch out for three people in particular – my brother Reese, my uncle Hector, and my dad. They're way more temperamental than the rest."
"Are you sure they're not mob bosses? 'Cause it seriously wouldn't surprise me if your family were Mafia."
She smirked. "We're not Italian."
When Puck pulled into the parking lot at Breadsticks the next evening, Lauren had been silent for the entire drive. "Are you okay?" he asked, resting his hands on the steering wheel.
She pursed her lips, twisting her fingers in her lap. "I just think this is a really bad idea."
"Okay, what is so bad about your family that I shouldn't touch them with a ten-foot pole?"
"Never mind. Let's just get this over with. And remember the rules," Lauren said as she clambered out of the cab. "Seriously, they're important. Your life might depend on them."
Puck snickered. "Let me guess: they're all members of the CIA and if they know I know, they'll have to kill me."
"Very funny," Lauren said, not even cracking a smile. Something about this dinner had her seriously spooked.
Remembering that she'd told him that her relatives could always be watching him, Puck was careful to open the door to the restaurant for her in case they were already there. He was right – Lauren led him to a large circular table where there were eight other people already seated, with several chairs left unoccupied. One of them was Lauren's uncle Donny, wearing a different suit tonight but still looking as if he'd gone swimming in it.
"Ah, Noah! Dite!" Donny greeted them with a falsely hospitable tone. "Please, sit down."
Puck managed to remember to pull out Lauren's chair for her. If he kept up this polite façade, he was either going to bust or make up for it later by having a street race or possibly robbing a convenience store.
"Everyone, this is…Noah," Lauren said, halting before deciding to use his real name.
A few muttered hellos were exchanged, and then a fidgety man who looked to be about twenty pulled a pocket watch out of his shirt pocket, clicking it open and saying to Lauren, "I hope you know that you're exactly seven minutes late, Dite."
Lauren rolled her eyes. "No one cares, Herman. You seriously need to start working through your OCD, because it's getting on my nerves."
Herman pursed his lips. "Well, some of us happen to run on a very tight schedule! I have to be organized."
Puck watched the exchange between Lauren and Herman with curiosity before looking around at the rest of her relatives. He and Lauren seemed to be the youngest at the table, besides a pair of twins sitting next to Uncle Donny. The twins, a boy and a girl, shared identical facial features, but were dressed as complete opposites. The boy was wearing a simple combination of a Nirvana t-shirt and jeans, and his sandy hair was longish and shaggy. Puck liked him. The girl, on the other hand, reminded him somewhat of Rachel. Her clothes were perfectly pressed and her expression made it clear that she was something of a prude. He got the feeling that she could be dangerous if she wanted to, though.
Next to the girl sat a haughty-looking man with a silver stud in one ear and muscles that made Puck look like a stick figure. His hair was cut in a military buzz and he didn't look as if he'd smiled once in his entire life. Puck wondered if he was one of the three people Lauren had told him to watch out for.
Beside him was the fidgety Herman, who was repeatedly glancing back and forth between his pocket watch and the door. "The others are late. They're late," he kept saying. Everyone else seemed to be ignoring him though, so Puck guessed that it had to be a regular habit.
On Donny's left was seated a man who actually looked like a Mafia boss – his suit had to be designed by some person only Kurt would've heard of, and his sleek black hair was combed back, a thin goatee and mustache adding to the villainous effect. His eyes narrowed at Puck.
A red-faced man in his mid-thirties sitting on their other side was so absorbed in his glass of wine that he didn't seem to notice they were there. Lauren slapped him lightly on the shoulder. "Dennis. Care to say hello?"
He looked up, a little bleary-eyed, said, "Oh. Yes. Indeed," and promptly went back to smelling his wine. "This restaurant can't be all that good if they serve this hog slop," he commented bitterly.
"My mom says that Breadsticks has the best wine in the county," Puck ventured.
Dennis looked up again, appearing as if the movement took a great effort on his part. "Does she, now?"
Lauren squeezed Puck's hand in warning under the table. Seriously? Did this count as an insult?
Dennis was still talking. "This may very well be the best wine in the county, but wine-making takes skill, time, patience, and above all, good grapes. None of which exist in Ohio. The grapes also cannot be imported, or their taste becomes weakened and therefore the wine is weakened. And this—" He swirled the wine around in his glass for emphasis. "—this is practically water."
Puck simply nodded in agreement, thrown off by Dennis' condescending tone over such a trivial point of conversation and not sure how else to respond.
"So, Noah," a bearded man across the table started. He had graying hair and his clothes were neat, but his face was as weathered as a sea captain's. "What exactly are your intentions for my daughter?"
"Oh, come on, Dad!" Lauren protested.
If Puck had been drinking, he probably would have choked. This was not the first question he'd imagined Lauren's father asking him. "Well, uh… I guess… we're just taking it slow?" He hoped that answer was the one Mr. Zizes had been looking for.
"There's no need for intimidation, brother," Donny said to Lauren's father. Puck couldn't quite tell if 'brother' was just friendly slang or if they were really brothers, but they did look a little alike and Donny didn't seem like the type to use slang. Oh yeah, and Donny was Lauren's uncle. Duh.
"I was just asking a question," said Lauren's dad. Puck wondered why Lauren had told him to watch out for this guy – he didn't seem threatening in the least, aside from the obvious I'm-dating-your-daughter factor. Still, if Lauren was uncomfortable enough to warn him, then he should probably follow her advice.
Man, he was turning into such a sap.
"I hope you two haven't done it already," piped up the prudish female twin.
"Missy!" snapped Herman.
Lauren rolled her eyes. "You know what, just because you're… intact, it doesn't mean the rest of us have to be."
"Yeah, and how has your track record of promiscuity worked out for you?" Missy sneered. Puck seriously had to introduce this girl to Rachel.
"Well, for starters, I have a life," Lauren retorted. "The only friend you've got is Paul." She gestured curtly to the twin boy.
Missy only glared at the menu in response. "They'd better have venison here."
"This is Ohio," Paul said dryly.
Herman snuck another peek at his watch. "What is taking them so long?"
"Would you just shut the hell up, Herman?" the muscled man with the military buzz snarled as the waitress arrived with their drinks. She was so startled by his tone that she nearly dropped the tray, but managed to keep it on her hand.
"Leave Herman alone, Reese," Lauren's dad said. (No wonder Lauren told me to watch out for Reese – he makes me look like a midget! Puck thought.) "It isn't his fault he's got an… organizational deficit."
"I beg your pardon!" Herman yelped.
"Deficit?" Reese grunted, his enormous arms crossed over his chest. "More like mental illness."
"C-can I get your order?" the waitress squeaked.
All eyes suddenly fell on Puck.
Slightly confused but trying not to make it too obvious, Puck ordered a coke and a plate of spaghetti. "And what'll you all have?" the waitress asked once Puck was finished.
"Nothing," said Lauren's father. "We're fine."
"You just want to stick with the drinks?"
"Oh. Okay, then." The waitress gave them a bewildered look and then disappeared into the kitchen.
"You're not having anything?" Puck asked his girlfriend. She just shook her head.
"She's on a diet," Reese grinned.
"Shut up," she said.
Puck bristled. Family or no, he didn't like people dissing his girl. However, he still held himself in check (which was getting harder and harder), since he knew that Lauren hated it when he came to her defense and he was still wary of Reese.
The man who looked like a Mafia boss, who up until now had remained completely silent, finally spoke. "You know, Dite, if you stay that way for much longer, you're going to give yourself a heart attack," he said smoothly. The tiniest hint of a cruel smile passed over his face. Puck's fists curled underneath the table.
"Oh, please," Lauren snapped. "You know that'll never happen." She smirked. "Haddie," she added.
The man's smile vanished and his eyes seemed to turn black, but Puck figured that it was just a trick of the light (and speaking of light, was it suddenly darker in the restaurant?). "That is not my name," he said lowly.
Lauren only looked pleased with herself in response.
The light tension in the air dissipated (sort of) when four more people – a man and three women – entered the restaurant and joined them at their table. The women were all incredibly gorgeous, but they were haughty-looking and cruel. The man was walking strangely, as if he had an early-stage muscular disorder, and he was far uglier than any of Lauren's other relatives. Before he sat down, he gave Lauren a kiss on the head, which made her stiffen, and said, "Hello, sweetheart."
"Hey, Harvey," she said tightly.
"So," he said to Puck as he eased into a chair. "You must be Noah."
"Yup." Puck couldn't tell if this guy's tone was falsely polite or if he were actually glad to meet him.
"What does a woman have to do to get some wine around here?" one of the haughty-looking women snapped.
"Don't bother," Dennis sighed miserably, dumping the rest of his wine into the untouched water pitcher. "The wine is terrible."
"I don't care," she said, glaring at him. "If it's got alcohol in it, I want it."
Lauren's father decided to cut in here. "Now, Helen—"
"Don't call me that, Zach!" she barked, her eyes flashing. "It's either Harriet, my dear, or ma'am."
Zach sighed. "Fine. Harriet," he emphasized. "You know that alcohol only makes you more irritable."
"That's true," said the second scornful woman, flipping her thick, light brown hair over her shoulder. A pink peony was tucked behind her ear. "Yesterday she had too much of Dennis' special brew and crashed a wedding in Columbus."
The third woman snickered. She wore a pair of heavy silver earrings in the shape of owls. "And she tried to convince the groom that she was the bride's long-lost twin sister and that he was really in love with her. The poor man was terrified."
Puck was now more confused than ever. He leaned over and whispered to Lauren, "What's wrong with being called Helen?"
"Helen's the name of this chick that Harriet really hates," Lauren summarized. "We just call her that to bug her."
Puck honestly didn't understand why these people were so bent on being at each other's throats all the time, but he was distracted from trying to figure it out when the waitress returned with his food.
"Some of your best raki," Harriet demanded.
The waitress swallowed. "I'm sorry?"
"Raki, child," Harriet said, as if the waitress was supposed to know what that was. She huffed. "Fine, no raki. White wine, then."
"Harriet—" Zach started, but Harriet whipped up a hand and cut him off with a sharp, "Don't." She then turned to Puck, which made him a little bit uncomfortable. This woman was even harsher than his mother. "So, when do you intend to marry?"
This time, Puck did choke on his drink. "What?" he coughed.
"Well, you're dating my stepdaughter, so I'm assuming that once she gets her divorce finalized, you two will be joined in what I suppose they call 'holy matrimony'."
"Harriet!" Lauren complained.
Puck was even more stunned, if that was possible. "You're married?"
Lauren hid her face in her hands, letting out a growl of frustration. "This is exactly why I didn't want you to come to this thing," she said.
Puck shook his head, stumped. "To who?"
Harvey, of all people, raised his hand. "Hiya," he said casually.
Puck's jaw dropped of its own accord. Maybe Jacob Ben Israel had been right – maybe Lauren did keep his balls in a jar somewhere and he'd just been too smitten to see it.
Harriet frowned deeply. "Am I to understand that you two are just having a simple affair?"
"It's none of your business!" Lauren retorted.
"I think my stepdaughter's affairs are my business, Dite!"
"Well, either way, I really don't give a crap if I have your approval or not."
Zach butted in with, "Dite, you really should consider the repercussions of having an affair."
Lauren scoffed. "You're one to talk. You've fathered a hundred and sixteen children, and only five of them with your wife!"
Puck choked on his drink again. He didn't think he could handle a hundred and fifteen half-siblings if they were all this disagreeable.
Zach's eyes darkened. "Don't test me, daughter."
Lauren rolled her eyes. "What are you gonna do? Make an indoor thunderstorm?"
Now Puck was really befuddled.
"I might," said Zach evenly.
"You're such a hypocrite," Lauren snapped. "You all are. Preaching about fidelity and maturity when all you ever do is fight and sleep with people you're not married to!"
"I don't," said Missy.
"Neither do I," added Harvey.
"Nor I," Harriet cut in. "The only child I've had without the help of my husband was Harvey, and I made him all on my own."
Puck frowned, trying to wrap his brain around what Harriet had just said.
"Yeah, and look how I turned out." Harvey gestured to his disfigured face with a grin.
"It is not my fault that you look the way you do."
"It is if you made me all on your own," Harvey countered, more amused than anything else. "Not to mention the fact that you threw me off a mountain, so it's definitely your fault that I can't walk properly."
"Burrrrrrrn," said Paul.
Puck decided that from this point on, he wasn't going to say anything and he would just watch this unfold.
"And either way," Lauren continued, "there's no way you can actually prove that I'm your kid. I might be your aunt."
Puck gave his head a shake. There was no way Lauren was that old.
"Regardless of how you could be related to me, I am your father figure," Zach insisted.
Lauren rolled her eyes for the thousandth time. "You didn't even meet me until I was an adult."
"And that's my fault, Dite? You were born full-grown, just like Thea." He gestured to the third haughty-looking woman that had joined the table most recently.
Thea smirked at Lauren. "Full-grown in more ways than one," she sneered.
Puck lurched to his feet. "All right, that is it. I am one second away from kicking your ass and anyone else's who wants to make fun of my girlfriend."
"Puck!" Lauren hissed, tugging on his sleeve. He ignored her.
Thea only smiled very slightly. "You really want to try to kick my ass, boy?" she said evenly.
"Puck!" Lauren tried again to get him to sit down.
"Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear," Herman muttered, looking back and forth between Puck and Thea with wide eyes.
"Fine," said Thea. "Have it your way, mortal."
Rather than clarifying, however, Thea suddenly began to change before Puck's eyes. He briefly heard Hector mutter "Oh, bloody hell" off to the side as Thea grew taller and taller and taller. As she grew, her clothes ripped and fell to the ground in shreds, revealing only white cloth draped around her and fastened with a belt around the waist and a pin at the shoulder. The headband that had been holding Thea's hair back transformed from a simple band of plastic into a large bronzed helmet with a horsehair plume.
"What. The. Fuck."
Thea was now standing sixteen feet tall, her eyes literally glowing. She was garbed in an ancient Greek-style toga and holding a spear that matched her size.
Lauren sighed. "I told you not to challenge anyone."
"Do you still wish to take me on in battle, boy?" Thea's voice boomed. The rest of Lauren's relatives were watching with less-than-concerned expressions, and Puck was too busy trying to process what he was seeing to answer.
"Very well," said Thea. "You shall be the latest in a long line of mortals who have challenged the Goddess Athena, only to be sent to Hell's Gate."
At that, Puck finally lost it. "WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?"
Hector downed the rest of his wine in one gulp and stood up, calmly heading for the door. "Best of luck, boy. I'll be seeing you soon in the Underworld."
A/N: Please leave a review, and see if you can guess exactly what is going on (who Lauren is and why she and her family are hanging out in Lima Ohio).