Disclaimer: See Part One
It was a little after ten when Rachel unlocked her apartment door and stepped inside, kicking her heels off in the process, as she distractedly flipped through the newspaper she had picked up at the stand down the block.
"Look at you sneaking in way past curfew," Elyse's voice came from the door behind her and Rachel could feel her own cheeks heat up in a blush at the teasing tone in her daughter's voice.
"Cheeky," Rachel jibbed back and walked the rest of the way inside, knowing her daughter would follow and lock up behind them. "It's Thursday, shouldn't you be at the pool?"
"Katie's got a dentist appointment in an hour. I actually figured you were home already."
Rachel froze, because the teasing tone had left Elyse's voice, and glanced up to study the young teenager. She didn't look upset; but there was a slight bit of confusion on her face that made Rachel think Noah might have been correct in questioning whether they had all night or not.
"Sit down Lyse," she finally said and patted a kitchen chair as she set about making them tea. Once they were both seated with full mugs Rachel took a deep breath and jumped into the deep end, "Do you have any questions for me?"
"Not really," Elyse replied, but the pursing of her lips and slight furrow between her eyebrows said differently.
"Sweetie, you can ask me anything. I promise I won't get mad. If me, well, dating, is an issue for you then you can let me know."
"Oh no," her daughter was quick to reply, shaking her head in the negative. "That's so not the problem Mom. You totally deserve a social life."
"Well, I'm glad I have your approval," Rachel responded, laughing lightly at how adamant the child had been. "Then what's wrong?" she added, getting serious again.
"I guess I'm just worried about what's going to happen now."
Rachel frowned at the question and tried to figure out what her daughter meant; after a few seconds she decided to just ask for a clarification, "What do you mean, what's going to happen now? Nothing's going to change. You always come first," she was quick to assure her daughter, thinking that might be the issue.
"This sounds stupid," Elyse mumbled and Rachel grabbed her hand, squeezing it.
"Nothing you ask me will ever be stupid. You can't get knowledge without asking questions."
"Yea, but this is like...stupid."
"Just ask me."
"Okay, Uncle Kurt called me last night on my cell phone and I told him you were out with Puck."
"Oh Lord," Rachel muttered, groaning. "Also, don't call him Puck."
"He told me to. When we were at his work."
"Oh, hmm, okay, well, we'll talk to him about that 'cause I think that was a different situation," Rachel rambled, trying to avoid the fact that Kurt now knew she had seen Noah.
"Stop changing the subject Mom."
"Sorry," Rachel muttered. "You were saying?"
"Yea, so, I told Uncle Kurt you had a date and after he got over his squealing over the 'date' part; he seemed a little, well, pissed. He said that Puck didn't deserve you and that he wasn't worth your time and effort. He basically said that Puck was just going to, umm, have sex with you and disappear. Only, he was a little more, uhh, colorful then that but I don't relish eating soap so I won't use his exact words."
Rachel's jaw dropped for a few reasons; the most prominent being the gall her best friend had with being so candid with his thirteen year old niece.
"First of all, thank you for choosing to use a more adult vocabulary then your thirty-two year old uncle," Rachel began, gearing up for a rant and preparing herself to tear a strip off of Kurt as soon as she had the energy. "Secondly, he had no right to speak to you on the subject at all, let alone speak that way to you about another adult, especially seeing as he hasn't heard from or of Noah since our high school graduation."
"I tried telling him that Puck was, like, a doctor. But he just kept ranting about you wasting your time on a washed up Lima Loser."
Rachel took a deep breath and exhaled as she tried to keep her blood pressure at a healthy level and remind herself that she really did love Kurt. In the past, he had been one of the only reasons she had survived the first few years post-Finn (and pre-Finn) leaving; but some days she just wanted to smack him around and tell him to get out of their lives. Mostly because he was seemingly convinced she needed him to try and control her life - if it wasn't pressuring her to audition for something (because he refused to believe she liked teaching) it was setting her up with men who made Finn look charming (men who went running the second they heard she had a young daughter).
"I'll talk to your Uncle," Rachel replied. "Noah is not a Lima Loser. Noah is a good man, with a good job, who I care about very much."
"I figured that one out on my own Mom."
"Then what's the problem?"
"I don't want Uncle Kurt to upset you or ruin this," Elyse whispered looking far too troubled for her young age and nearly breaking Rachel's heart. "I mean, even Grandma has said that she hoped you'd run into Puck again."
"You put it out of your mind this instant Elyse Marie Hudson," Rachel told her seriously. "I know sometimes I treat you as too much of an adult and that's on me. But in this case, I don't want you to worry about it. I can more then handle your uncle."
She waited until Elyse nodded, still looking slightly worried, and squeezed her daughter's hand again. They sat in silence for a few more seconds until Elyse's face got her more typical teasing grin on it as she asked, "So, did you have fun last night?"
With that question Rachel relaxed, slightly, and delved into a very much PG rated gossip session about her date.
Noah was in the middle of reading through a case file for a session he had later that day when his cell phone rang; he glanced at the display quickly and felt all his nerves take center stage in his stomach when he saw Santana's name.
"Fuck," he muttered; mostly because it was only eleven-thirty. Shaking what he could off he answered his phone with a gruff, "Hey Satan."
"Hey," she replied, sounding slightly off. "Explain. Now."
Noah didn't even try to pretend like he didn't know exactly what she meant, "I ran into Rachel because of some psychotic neighbor of hers calling CPS. Found out a whole bunch of shit; basically, Rach was pregnant when we graduated. She married Finn in New York, he left her and their daughter when the kid was five and she hasn't heard a word from him since. Including child support."
"Well, fuck," Santana replied. "That explains a lot."
"Huh? You sound less shocked then I expected."
"No, no, I'm really surprised...but, like I said, it explains a lot. What I'm shocked about is that this is Rachel Berry we're talking about. Knocked up and married? Shocked as hell. The level of doucheyness Finn reached? Really really shocked. When I said he was going to fuck up I didn't think it would be to quite such an epic level."
"Are you sure you went to Harvard?"
"Very funny. Now what did you want from me? And better question, did you fuck her yet?"
"Your priorities astound me sometimes Santana," Noah snapped back, rolling his eyes as he relaxed back into his desk chair in his small office. "I'm only answering this because I know you won't leave me alone until I do so, yes, I slept with Rachel."
"Are you going to lock that shit down finally?"
Noah pulled the phone away from his ear and stared at it incredulously; the woman was married, with a child and had a fast track career straight into the Attorney General's office and some days he swore she was still a fifteen year old cheerleader.
"Focus San. I need you to find Finn and then I want to squeeze every dime he has out of him in back child support payments."
"Well, one of those is done already. Thus the whole "explains alot" comment."
"I know where Finn is. Which is mostly why I'm so fucking shocked about the whole ex-wife and kid thing."
"Explain," Noah nearly growled into the phone.
"Okay, so, remember when Linda and I went to Vegas two years ago?"
"We ran into Brittany. She's a dancer, and before you make any cracks Puckerman I mean a real principal dancer in a legitimate show, on the Strip."
"Not seeing what this has to do with anything?"
"She's also married to someone we went to High School with," Santana dead panned and Noah could feel his eyes widen. "Your silence tells me you put that together quickly."
"You're fucking kidding me. Brittany and Finn are married? But Rachel knows what Britt is doing...or at least knows she isn't involved with you. And why the hell didn't you tell me this shit when you found it out?"
"Here's where the extreme level of doucheyness comes into play," Santana continued. "They both pretty much admitted that they hadn't spoken to anyone in years, they're sort of living in this little Las Vegas bubble, and we got to discussing everyone. Britt brought up Rachel and mentioned that she had seen her in New York two years before that. Britt hadn't run into Finn yet at that point and I guess Rachel didn't bring him up; so all Rachel knew was that Britt was single and living in Vegas and all Rachel told Britt was that she was teaching music. As for why I didn't tell you? Wellll, Finn mentioned something about hearing that Rachel had a kid. He didn't say how old or, ya know, that he was the kid's father, and I didn't really feel like sending you into that kind of drama. I'm sorry."
"So, Britt has no idea," Noah mumbled, trying to ignore the rage that was building at hearing about Finn's blatant lie.
"Absolutely none. She might not be the brightest but she knows right from wrong. I'm a little surprised she hadn't questioned him about Rachel more then that when she first ran into him. She's not as dumb as people think and she knew that they went to New York together initially."
"Yea," he replied with an deep exhale. "Unless she did and he just lied to her face too. Well, this is easier then I expected. What's the asshole up to these days?"
"Two years ago he was working construction."
"Linda and I mentioned Alex and Britt seemed excited but Finn shut that down fast and said they didn't want kids. It seemed weird to me at the time, but now it makes sense. He had my lawyer spidey sense all tingling and I didn't know why."
"Do you think they're still in Vegas?"
"Probably. It's only been two years and Brittany had a really decent contract with the show she was doing."
"Any way we can ruin him without destroying Brittany's life?" Santana was very quiet on the other end of the phone after his question and after a few seconds he tried prodding her, "San?"
"Does Rachel want you doing this?" she finally asked, seemingly avoiding his first question.
"I haven't spoken with her about it yet," he admitted. "I just wanted to try and get some info first. I didn't expect it to be so damn easy. Besides, what she wants and what she deserves are two entirely different things."
"Yea, I agree," she mumbled. "Alright, listen, you talk to Rachel about it. Tell her I'm pretty certain I can get in touch with Finn and we can possibly do this without involving the courts; if we do need to involve the courts I'm sure Linda will be willing to represent her if necessary since I'm sort of tied to my district. See what she wants to do and then get back to me. Even if they've moved, Britt gave me their address and it's as easy as getting a forwarding address."
"Sounds good," Noah replied, nodding to himself. "But do you really think this can be handled outside of court?"
"Of course not," she admitted. "If it could then he would have been up front about a divorce and have been paying child support this whole time. Though, you never know, if Britt hears about this she just might make him pay."
Noah chuckled at that comment because if Brittany hadn't changed since high school then he was certain Santana was correct.
"One more thing Puck."
"Don't push her. If you want this relationship to go anywhere, you need to remember that you're her high school boyfriend who she is maybe starting things up with again. You just also happen to work in the Family Courts. You're not her husband, father or even boyfriend yet. You're not her daughter's father. This needs to be her decision."
"I know. You're right," he agreed. "I just want to have the information for Rachel."
"You just want the information so you can flay Finn alive any way possible."
"Alright Puckerman, I've got court in a half hour. Give me a call soon and I'll grab Lin and Alex and drive down to see you, Rachel and the kid. I didn't realize how much I missed the Midget until just now."
"I love you too Santana."
"I know," his best friend joked back and hung up the phone, leaving him to toss his cell on his desk and try to process the overload of information he had just gotten and whether or not he should bring it up to Rachel right away. Part of him wanted to bring it up, get it over with and work on them...and another part of him wanted to wait until he was sure he had her for himself before launching them into the insanity that could potentially follow a reveal of Finn's whereabouts.
By six that evening as he was locking up his office he still hadn't come to a decision about anything except that a trip to Six Flags that weekend sounded like a perfect 'family style' date. He might have shelved Puck away years earlier; but he wasn't above pulling him out when it came to a little bribery in getting the daughter of the woman he was pretty sure he was still in love with to like him.
A/N: Massive apologies on disappearing. I had some major, major family issues crop up in the last month or so that had to be dealt with and took priority over anything involving fanfic. I'm pretty sure I'm back in the swing of things now (hopefully) and cranked this out as soon as I got a chance. Thanks so much for your patience.
Thoughts on the chapter always appreciated.