Title: Father's Day
Author: TheMastress, or smartalli on LJ
Characters: Puck/Rachel, the Daddies Berry with appearances from Mama and Becca Puckerman
Warnings: A little Puck language.
Summary: What does it say about his life that the only people who really get what today means to him are Rachel Berry and her dads?
Disclaimer: Don't own it. Not mine. Don't sue.
A/N: From a prompt from the Puckleberry drabble meme.
Puck is walking back into his room from the bathroom down the hall, rubbing a towel over his wet 'hawk, when he sees the present sitting in the middle of his bed.
It's small, wrapped in blue paper with a white ribbon, and Puck stares at it for a second, trying to figure out who it could be from, before he flings the towel over his shoulder and walks over to the bed. When he picks it up, he sees a card that'd been hidden by the present and picks that up too, flipping it over to see his name written on the front. The second he sees the handwriting he knows who the gift is from and he drops the present back on the bed to open the card first.
As far as Puck can tell, it's a pretty standard Father's Day card (not that he's much of an expert at Father's Day cards or anything), and Rachel hasn't written much inside. Just, Happy Father's Day, Noah and her name, with a little star after it. Her signature thing. He drops the card and the envelope on his bed and picks up the present, flipping it over in his hands and pulling the ribbon off.
When he rips the paper away and sees what he's holding, he lets the rest of the wrapping paper fall to the floor and he sits down on the end of his bed, frame held in both hands as his eyes move back and forth from the picture of baby Beth, taken in the hospital just after she was born, to a little girl he knows has to be Beth now, wearing a little pink dress, smiling at the camera.
He stands up abruptly and takes a t-shirt out of his dresser, pulling it on as he runs down the stairs. Becca is sitting cross legged in the middle of the couch, watching something on TV, and she looks up when he runs into the room. "Becca, when did Rachel stop by?"
She shrugs. "A couple minutes ago, I guess."
She rolls her eyes and turns back to the TV. "Like...four minutes, tops."
Puck pulls open the front door and jogs down the driveway, looking right then left down the sidewalk. He almost doesn't see her but then he catches a flash of white in the distance and shit, he'd know the back of that girl anywhere. He starts running toward her, down the sidewalk in his bare feet and calls out her name a couple of times, but she must not have heard him because she keeps walking slowly, her hands in the pockets of her white sundress. It's not until he calls her name a third time that she stops and turns around.
She gives him a little smile but her eyes are wary and when he stops in front of her, her eyes drift down to the picture frame he's still holding in his hands.
He doesn't really know what to say, so he says, "You left this on my bed."
She tucks her hair behind her left ear. "Technically, Becca did. I asked her to put it there for you. I wanted to make sure you got it."
"Yeah, but you just...left it."
She takes a deep breath and says, "Shelby sends us pictures every few months and...I thought you deserved to have them, especially today, but I wasn't sure if it would be too much for you or too painful or too soon but...well...I thought you should have them." When he doesn't respond, she says quickly, "But if you don't want them, I'll take them back and I promise I'll never give you another picture, unless you ask me to. Just...please don't be mad at me. I promise I genuinely had your best interests at heart."
Puck leans forward and wraps his arms around her, burying his face in her hair, the framed pictures of Beth resting flat against her back. She stiffens for a second before she relaxes into the hug, wrapping her own arms around his back, holding onto him tightly. He squeezes her a little tighter and shifts his head so his mouth is next to her ear and says, "Everyone else forgot about her. Or they pretend that she doesn't exist."
He feels her nod and give him a small squeeze, and her hand reaches up to smooth down his 'hawk. He presses his face into her neck and she says softly, "I know."
Eventually they pull back from each other and Puck says, "Thanks, Rach."
If her eyes look a little shiny, he's not gonna call her on it.
She gives him a big smile and nods, looking down at the frame in his hand briefly and putting her hands back in her pockets. "She looks like you."
Puck lifts the pictures up a little and looks down at them. "Nah. She looks like Quinn."
"That's your nose. And your smile." She smiles at the picture of one year old Beth. "I'm glad she got your smile. I've always loved it."
He stops himself from kissing her (just barely) by reminding himself that he can't because she's back together with Finn. And even if Puck doesn't really give a shit about him anymore, he never wants to hurt this girl again. Not if he can help it.
Fuck his life.
"So, did you have any plans today?"
"Nah, not really. Father's Day isn't exactly a favorite holiday in our house, you know?"
She nods. If anyone would know that, it's Rachel.
"What about you? You gonna do your usual thing with your dads?"
Every year Rachel spends the day with her dads and they go out to lunch and a movie and do all this other shit together, like play miniature golf or go to a local fair or something. And he knows that because until he hit middle school and decided he was too good to hang out with Rachel and her dads anymore, Puck used to spend every Father's Day with them.
She nods again. "This year they want to see Green Lantern, so I'm taking them to that. Although if you ask me, their interest is based more on getting to see Ryan Reynolds without a shirt and less on the actual movie itself." She shifts and says, "You're welcome to join us, if you like. It'll be like..."
She stops short, but he knows what she means. It'll be like old times. It'll be like it used to be, before they started to grow up and other shit got in the way.
When he doesn't respond right away she gets flustered and blushes, looking away from him. And yeah, he loves that he can do that to her.
"You don't have to, if you don't want to. Please don't feel like you're obligated. But I thought I'd offer anyway, just in case."
He smiles a little and motions back toward his house with his thumb. "I have to get some shoes. Walk back with me?"
She smiles and nods and they walk back toward his house. She's not a very fast walker when she doesn't have to be anywhere, so Puck has to slow down to keep pace with her. "So, are we gonna pick up Finn on the way, or..."
"Oh, no. Finn's not coming."
He lifts an eyebrow. "He didn't wanna come?"
"I didn't invite him."
She meets his eyes and shrugs. "He has Burt now, so I'm sure Finn will be spending time with him today. And...it was always something you and I shared with my dads. Our special thing. It didn't seem right to change that."
They walk up the steps to his front porch and he opens the front door, holding it open and waiting for Rachel to walk in. She stands in the entryway and waits for him and he closes the door and says, "Be right back. You can uh..."
She smiles, her hands clasped together in front of her dress. "I'm sure I can entertain myself."
He nods and as he walks up the stairs toward his room, he sees her sit down next to Becca on the couch. When he comes back downstairs, she's in the same position, watching one of Becca's girly preteen TV shows.
She nods and stands up, walking around the coffee table to the front door.
"Wait...you're going now? Can't you just stay until the show's over? Please?"
Puck opens the door, leans against it, and says, "No. Get your own friends, brat."
Becca huffs and crosses her arms over her chest as she stares at the TV. She's totally gonna pout for like an hour after they leave.
His ma picks then to walk into the living room from the kitchen, a dishtowel in her hands, and she says, "Rachel! Hi!"
Rachel smiles. "Hi, Mrs. Puckerman. It's nice to see you."
"You too." She looks back and forth between the two of them. "Are you two going somewhere?"
"If it's alright with you, I invited Noah to spend Father's Day with me and my dads."
Aviva Puckerman looks over at her son, a small smile on her face, and he brings a hand up to rub the back of his neck, shrugging as he leans a little further into the open door. "Of course that's okay, Rachel. Tell your dads thank you for me, will you?"
"Great. Have fun." As Puck and Rachel walk out the door, he hears his mom say, "Becca, why are you pouting?"
They climb into his truck and on the way over to her house, he lets her screw with the radio, only complaining when she lands on a station playing Celine Dion and doesn't switch it right away. Eventually she stops at a James Taylor song and he rolls down the window, props an elbow on the open frame, and listens as she sings. No matter how many times he hears her, he can't get over how amazing her voice really is.
When the station switches over to a song by The Mamas and the Papas, she turns the radio down and shifts her body toward him. "So...I heard about Lauren. I'm sorry."
He pulls up in front of Rachel's house and parks the truck, turning it off. "It's cool. Zizes makes a way better bro than a girlfriend. 'Sides, shit wasn't ever supposed to be long term or anything."
They step out of the truck and start walking toward her front door. "She body slammed some wrestler at the state meet and he handed her his balls. Anyway, she seems really happy, like crazy, crazy happy, so that's cool."
"And you're really okay with it all?"
He smirks at her and nudges her shoulder with his own. "Yeah B, I'm good."
She smiles at him and opens the front door, and the second they step in her house, one of her dads calls out from another room. "Star? Is that you?"
"Oh good, you're back from the Puckermans. Did Noah like his-" Hiram Berry stops short when he turns the corner from the kitchen into the family room and sees Puck standing there with Rachel. "Well, I suppose there's no need to ask you when I can ask the boy myself. Hello Noah."
"Hey, Mr. Berry. Happy Father's Day."
"And to you."
Rachel's other dad comes walking in the room and says, "Noah! How nice to see you! Happy Father's Day!"
"Hi, Mr. Berry. Thanks. Happy Father's Day to you, too."
"We have something for you." Puck lifts his eyebrows and Hiram holds up a card and says, "Now, we know teenage boys aren't exactly big on greeting cards, but we thought today you might make an exception."
He hands it over and Puck opens the envelope and slides the card out.
It's another pretty standard Father's Day card, funny enough that he smiles but not funny enough to actually laugh. Inside they've written, Once a dad, always a dad. Happy Father's Day, Noah. Hiram & Leroy Berry, and Puck doesn't look away from it until he feels Rachel's hand on his lower back. He looks down at her and she smiles at him, soft and sweet, and he smiles back before he looks at her dads and says, "Thanks."
And what does it say about his life that the only people who really get what today means to him are Rachel Berry and her dads?
They smile at him and Rachel says, "Noah's going to spend the day with us."
Puck hastily adds, "If that's alright. I don't wanna screw up your plans or anything."
Hiram scoffs and says, "Noah, you're always welcome on Father's Day. You know that."
"Absolutely," Leroy says. He claps his hands. "You know, this'll be just like old times."
And it is, pretty much. It's a little weird at first, 'cause Puck hasn't spent Father's Day with Rachel and her dads in five years, but mostly it's like it always was. Her dads tell bad jokes that he and Rachel don't laugh at and when Rachel tells them he raised his math grade from a C to a B- this year, they tell him how proud they are, like he's actually their kid. They pay for everything, even though he and Rachel try to be sneaky and pay for things behind their back, and Puck kinda forgot how nice it felt to have people who aren't related to him give a shit about him like this.
When Rachel excuses herself to use the bathroom at the restaurant, her dads share a look and Leroy says, "Noah, tell us your impressions of Finn Hudson."
"Finn?" He shrugs and picks up a fry. "He's a good guy."
"Noah, we are not asking you to be politically correct. We value your honesty."
He takes a minute then says, "Finn was probably the first guy who ever told her he liked her or that she was cool or whatever, so Rachel thinks he's her Prince Charming when really he's just..." He pauses and scratches his head. "You really want my opinion?"
"Alright, uh...she can do better."
Hiram sighs and sits back in his seat. "We were afraid of that."
"We have no feelings against Finn Hudson, personally. It's just, he's..."
"Lima and Rachel's New York City?"
"Yes. Exactly." Her dads share a look and Hiram says, "We just don't want her to give up her dreams for someone who wouldn't even understand what that means."
Puck's about to respond when Rachel comes walking back up to the table with a smile that looks a little too bright. Puck narrows his eyes and wonders what that's all about, but he doesn't ask. Not in front of her dads. "I think we should probably get going if we want to make it to the movie on time."
At the theater her dads pay again and tell Puck and Rachel to grab seats in the theater while they pay for popcorn and sodas (Puck tries to give them some money but they won't take it, saying they're just glad he's spending the day with them again and yeah...that makes him feel like, twelve kinds of guilty for ever thinking he was too good for them). They grab seats in the back row and put their feet up on the backs of the seats in front of them until some lady comes along and stares pointedly at their feet.
Ever since the restaurant Rachel's been a little too quiet, and he tries to leave it alone, figuring she'll tell him if she wants him to know, but it starts eating at him enough to the point that it's gettin' pretty hard not to say anything, so he says, "Alright, what's goin' on with you?"
She doesn't even try to deny something is bothering her, which in Rachel language means something is really bothering her. She picks at the hem of her dress and says, "Can you think of any logical reason why Quinn would be answering Finn's phone today?"
"When did you call him?"
"Just after I left the restroom."
"She answered his phone?"
She nods and crosses her arms over her chest. "At first I thought I must have simply hit the wrong name in my contacts, but then I realized that Quinn and Finn aren't that close to one another in my contacts list, so... Am I a fool, Noah?"
Her eyes are all big and shiny and this close to breaking his heart and he says, "Rach..."
"That's a yes, then."
She sighs and her face crumples a little and shit, he hates this. "I dunno, okay? I dunno. Yeah, maybe. But he's a huge fuckin' idiot if he's treating you like this, okay? Huge, huge, fuckin' idiot."
She slips out of her sandals and pulls her knees up to her chest, wrapping her arms around them. She's so damn tiny that even with her whole body up on her seat, there's still room to spare.
"He's always gonna go back to her, Rach."
She nods and lays her cheek on her knees, looking over at him. She looks so small and sad and he just wants to pick her up and hold her until she isn't anymore.
She says, "It's always going to come down to her, no matter what."
He shrugs. " 'S the way it is when you love someone, I guess."
"How do you know?"
His stomach flips over at her question and he shifts in his seat. " 'Cause for me, it'll always come down to you."
Rachel and Finn don't last much longer after that, just a couple o' days until Rachel can get him alone and sit him down to tell him it's not working, and it never will. Still, Puck waits almost a week to make sure it sticks before he shows up at her front door, holds out his hand, and asks her to go somewhere with him.
(This time it's for good. No way is he ever gonna give up this girl again. Ever.)
Rachel's gonna get all her dreams, and Puck's gonna get his too. And years later, when they're standing in the family room of their new house in New York, waiting for her dads to show up, looking for the perfect place for their pictures of Beth from birth to age nine (she handed them the last one herself just a week ago), Puck takes one look at his gorgeous wife and realizes that if it brought them here, to this, then all of the bullshit was worth it. He'd go through everything again for this.
And when Rachel smiles at him all big and bright and says, "I have something to tell you", he picks her up and holds her to him as tightly as he can and doesn't put her down until he hears one of her dads standing behind them, wishing him a happy Father's Day.