Title: Naming Rights
Author: TheMastress (smartalli on LJ)
Characters/Pairings: Puck/Rachel with Kurt/Rachel and Blaine/Rachel friendship and a little Mike/Tina (But pretty nearly all the glee kids show up and have a significant other. Except Artie. Dude needs a lady love.)
Warnings: Puck language
Summary: "I'm not an idiot, Noah. I know what you're trying to do. And no...we are not naming our son after one of the Cleveland Indians."
Disclaimer: Don't own it. Not mine. Don't sue.
A/N: From a prompt from the puckrachel drabble meme. Sorta.
Rachel pulls her head out of her locker and looks to her left, where Noah Puckerman is leaning against her neighbor's locker, sipping at the cherry slushy in his hand and staring at the lockers across the hall.
Ever since her last – and absolutely, no doubt about it final (yes Kurt, I swear on all my signed Barbra albums and my Original Broadway Cast Playbills for both Rent and Wicked, and is it really necessary for you to do a happy dance?) – breakup with Finn about a month ago, Noah has started hanging around Rachel more and more, driving her home from glee rehearsal, walking with her in the hallway, and sitting on the grass with her at lunch. (Rachel always makes sure to pack an extra lunch, since teenage boys are not known for their strict adherence to nutritional standards.)
It's been nice – very, very nice – but Rachel finds herself admittedly confused, because, well...she isn't exactly sure what she is to him. There are times she thinks she might be his best friend, and times she thinks she might be much more, but they've never talked about it. (Rachel accepts that Noah is a boy, and therefore less likely to talk about his feelings, though she wishes he were, perhaps, a little more open.) And even though they've been spending practically all their free time together, since Rachel doesn't exactly have the best track record with boys – not that Noah's is really all that much better with girls – she's trying very hard to do the opposite of what she would normally do in this situation, and not read into anything.
Admittedly, it's been a bit of a struggle.
Regardless of how she carries herself, and despite what others may think, Rachel knows she's been wrong about all sorts of things in her life, especially as it concerns other people. As her relationships with Jesse and Finn can attest, she's just not very good at reading the intentions of others. (Noah would say that's because she's naïve, but Rachel prefers to believe that makes her trusting, which possibly explains why she's always so surprised when people betray her.) But this is an entirely new situation for her, because he isn't just any old boy, he's Noah. They have history.
The first time they "dated" – and she uses the term loosely, because they spent the entire five days either in glee or making out in her bedroom – they were only together because neither of them could be with the person they really wanted to be with. She hadn't given much thought to falling for him, because such a thing was out of the question. He was simply a nice distraction. She'd felt affection for him, certainly, especially when he'd expressed regret over the way he'd treated her in the past, but it hadn't gone much further than that. She'd been too lost in the idea of Finn to feel much else. But this time there is no Finn and no Quinn in the way. This time it is just them. And this time Rachel has to concede that the things she's feeling for Noah go far beyond simple affection. But if he doesn't feel the same for her?
Well, she's just not sure she could handle it if she were wrong this time.
So she hugs him back when he hugs her first, and she smiles at him when he smiles at her, and she reminds herself constantly – constantly – not to make something out of nothing.
(If anything, her embarrassing crush on Mr. Schue taught her that.)
He takes another sip and looks over at her and she sighs and pulls her Spanish book out of her locker. "It is a rather unfortunate naming choice."
He snorts. "The Buxbaums suck. It's like they're asking for their kid to be beat up."
"I agree. It does seem they put very little thought into how their daughter's name will impact her in the future."
"Did they at least give her a middle name that doesn't blow?"
She looks at him. "You were there. Didn't you hear it?"
He shrugs. "I was sorta focused on this hot chick in a little blue skirt that was sittin' at the end of the bench two rows over. She's got legs that go on forever. Which is totally frickin' weird, 'cause she also happens to be tiny as hell."
And see, when Noah says things like that, that's when Rachel starts questioning whether they're more than just friends.
(Boys are so complicated. Especially cute ones with Mohawks and beat up pickup trucks and lovely arms.)
Rachel blushes and he smirks. "So what middle name did they give her?"
She winces and shifts her weight, balancing her books in her arms. "Eunice."
" 'Fraid so."
He shakes his head. "Poor kid. She's already shaped like a damn bowling ball, the least they could do is give her a kickass name."
"Perhaps she'll get lucky and grow out of her roundness." He lifts an eyebrow at her and she sighs. Rachel knows she's grasping at straws. It's not likely the scales will tip in little Hepzibah's favor. "Apparently Eunice is a family name."
"Are they at least getting a huge fuckin' inheritance for naming their kid after some crotchety old lady?"
"Doubtful. The last Eunice died in nineteen twelve."
He shakes his head again and rolls his eyes. "And Hepzibah? Dude...I get that they wanted to go Hebrew, but c'mon. Couldn't they have gone for Sarah? Or Rebecca? Or Hannah?" He leans in and nudges her shoulder with his. "Or Rachel?"
She smiles. "Rachel is an excellent Hebrew name. As is Noah."
"You bet your cute little ass it is."
Rachel smiles a little bigger and starts rooting around in her locker, looking for her set of colored pens. It's doubtful she'll need them for English class, but it never hurts to be prepared. "As for the reason they didn't go with something more...conventional, Mrs. Buxbaum informed me they wanted something distinctive and...interesting."
He takes a sip of the slushy. "Yeah, distinctively shitty."
Rachel has to agree. While she's all for people expressing their individuality, it's difficult to support parents who are knowingly setting their child up for future torment and ridicule. Rachel is no stranger to such things.
"Hey, we're not gonna do that to our kids, right?"
Rachel pauses with her hand in her locker and looks over at Noah hesitantly. He's leaning into the locker next to hers, his eyes flitting over her face, and she feels a fluttering starting in her stomach. He looks casual, leaning there, like he's only asking her about history homework or their glee assignment, and not for the first time, Rachel wishes she weren't so terrible at reading people. "Our...kids?"
"Yeah. We're not gonna be shitty parents like the Buxbaums and name them something that'll get their asses kicked, are we? I mean, our kids are gonna be little Jewish badasses, so it probably won't matter, but still...no one deserves to be named Gertrude or Melvin or...Apple."
She says, "Uh...no...no, of course not. We would never do that to our kids."
"Yeah? You sure you're not gonna change your mind after you become some major celebrity and conquer Broadway? 'Cause it sorta seems like a prerequisite to being a celebrity parent that you gotta give your kids some weird-ass names. And there's no way we're naming a kid Stopwatch Puckerman or something."
"Not all celebrities are like that. Clint Eastwood has a daughter named Alison which, I think you'll agree, is a perfectly normal name. James Caan named his son Scott, Minnie Driver named her son Henry, and Matt Damon's daughters are named Isabella, Gia, and Alexia."
"Yeah, and then you've got Audio Science, Diva Muffin, Pilot Inspektor, Ignatius, Moxie Crimefighter, and Kal-El." Rachel raises her eyebrows at him and is about to ask how he knows that when he shakes his head and says, "I had to pick up ma from work the other day and the only magazines in the waiting room were parenting magazines."
"So you read them?"
"I was sittin' there for like a half hour, waiting for her to get off work. And I forgot my phone at home." He takes another sip of the slushy and says, "Don't judge."
She laughs and holds up her hands in surrender. "I would never. I'm sure I would have done the same, had I been in your situation."
"Anyway, it basically taught me that celebrities are even more nuts than I thought they were."
"Does that mean you think I'm going to be nuts?"
She holds her books to her chest and steps back from her locker and Noah keeps his eyes fixed on hers as he reaches his hand up and braces himself. "Nah...'cause you'll totally have me to rein in your crazy. I'll make sure you don't do stupid shit like attack the paparazzi and run red lights and forget to wear your panties." She blushes and she sees the hint of a smile on his face before he leans in close enough so that his mouth is next to her ear. "I'm gonna be really good at looking after your panties."
Rachel's stomach clenches and she spins around to face the inside of her locker. Noah is not making this easy on her. At all.
She clears her throat and takes one more pen out of her locker – she doesn't actually need it, but she can hardly allow him to think she turned into her locker because he affected her in some way – before saying, "I've always liked the name Jack."
He doesn't say anything, which is not like him at all – there's no flirty quip, no use of a double-entendre – so she turns around. He's looking down at her, the condensation from his slushy cup slipping through his fingers, his soft eyes searching hers, and he says, "Yeah?"
She nods and gives him a small smile. "I think Jack Daniel Puckerman has a nice ring to it, don't you?"
He runs his tongue over his bottom lip and when he finally speaks, his voice is rougher than normal. "...yeah."
"Despite the alcoholic association, Jack is a strong, masculine name that is both easy to spell and pronounce, and I'm sure your mother would be happy with Daniel as a middle name, since it has Hebrew origins."
He clears his throat. "Yeah...it's an awesome name for our oldest boy."
She shifts and lifts her eyebrows slightly. "And just how many kids are going to be in this family?"
The warning bell rings and she turns and shuts her locker before they start down the hall toward her English class. (Noah has Spanish.) "Three. Two boys and a girl."
"And I suppose our daughter is-"
"The youngest. Yeah."
She reaches for his slushy and they stop in the middle of the hallway while she takes a sip. When she hands it back, she says, "Because..."
He shrugs. "Can't hurt to have two big brothers lookin' out for her, right?"
It's actually a rather sweet thought, and from the way he's looking at her, Rachel takes it to mean that if she'd had a couple of older brothers looking out for her, maybe she wouldn't have gone through as much as she did. "No, it certainly can't hurt. She'll be a very lucky little girl."
They stop at the doorway to her classroom (Noah's is in the next hallway) and Rachel says, "But what if we don't have any boys? What if we have...four girls?"
Noah moves to the side slightly to let one of Rachel's classmates by and says, "Then we'll change Jack Daniel to Jackie Danielle and I'll buy a fuckin' shotgun. They'll be gorgeous and talented like their mom, and I'll love 'em like crazy." The bell rings and Noah starts to walk backwards down the hall, toward his classroom. "But we're not havin' all girls."
He smirks and turns around, and when he's almost to the corner, Rachel yells, "You can't know that!"
Just before he disappears around the corner he looks back at her one more time and calls out, "Three kids, babe. Two boys and a girl."
It's not until Rachel is seated at her desk, pens lined up on her desktop just so, her notebook opened to a fresh page, that it hits her: she just spent the last few minutes talking with Noah – a boy she isn't even dating – about their future children not as if they're possible, but as though they're inevitable.
And he started it.
Rachel is a little late to lunch, so she isn't surprised when she sees Noah stretched out against the trunk of their favorite tree, his arms folded over his chest, his legs crossed at the ankle. But she is a little surprised to see most of the rest of the glee members there – the only people missing are Finn and Quinn, which is hardly a shock – sitting in a makeshift circle on the grass.
She receives assorted hellos, hand waves and head nods in response and she looks down at Noah, who's squinting as he looks up at her. "Hey babe."
She sits down and tucks her legs underneath her, smoothing her skirt down and opening the lunch bag in front of her. She pulls out a sandwich, a bag of pretzels, apple slices, and two wrapped cookies for Noah, and a salad and a bag of apple slices for herself. When she looks up, Kurt is looking at her, his eyebrows raised, and she gives him a questioning look in response. He shakes his head and smothers a laugh with his sandwich and Rachel furrows her brow.
What on earth is so funny?
Noah gives her a kiss on the cheek and she turns her head and watches as he stands up. "Imma go get us some drinks. You want the usual?"
She smiles up at him. "Yes please. Thank you."
He nods and says, "Anyone else want anything?" When Sam starts to speak and Mike opens his mouth, Noah says, "Too bad. Get it yourself," before he smirks and walks away, pulling the wallet out of his back pocket.
Rachel shakes her head and when she looks up from her lunch, finds the rest of the glee club is looking at her. "What?"
Kurt smirks. "You have a usual."
"Well, yes. Noah and I eat lunch together every day."
Mercedes opens the bag of chips in her hand and says, "You made him lunch."
She scoffs. "If I don't, he'll just eat things from the vending machines, which is neither healthy, nor particularly cost effective. And I already make lunches for myself and my dads every morning, so making one more hardly takes up any time at all."
Blaine shifts and puts his elbow on his knee, dropping his chin into his hand. "He kissed you."
"On the cheek. And that's just the way Noah is. He's very affectionate."
Kurt snorts. "Yeah, uh huh. Tell me...how long have you two been married? And why didn't you let me plan the ceremony?"
"What are you talking about?"
"Puck is affectionate with exactly one person, and her wardrobe contains a disturbing amount of eye-searing plaid."
She sighs. "It's...complicated."
Santana laughs. "Really? He's hot for you, you're hot for him...seems pretty uncomplicated to me. Just fuck already."
Kurt leans in close and says, "Guys like Puck? They don't serenade just anyone. And they don't warn entire hockey teams that if they mess with "his girl", they're going to have a date with his fist. Not unless the girl means something to him." When Rachel just stares at him, he shrugs and says, "I know things."
Kurt looks up and Rachel follows his eyes to see Noah, walking back over toward them.
It's true that Rachel hasn't seen the wrong end of a slushy in close to two weeks, but she hadn't given it much thought until now. She'd just figured that the bullies had found someone new to torment. She hadn't considered that Noah would have warned them off. But now that she thinks about it, it makes sense. It makes sense, but she's not sure what to do with that information.
On the one hand, she's angry. Noah can hardly afford to get into any more fights, not with the threat of suspensions and juvenile hall looming over his head, and he knows that. And though Rachel would willingly suffer a little humiliation every day if it meant keeping Noah out of trouble – after all, a few dry cleaning bills and a taunt or two are nothing compared to the prospect of Noah's having to go back to that horrible place – she knows he'd never accept that. He'd never allow her to put herself into the path of a bully, just so he could stay out of trouble. Such a thing would offend his sensibilities greatly. And if she were to bring it up? Well...she can only imagine the argument that would ensue.
On the other hand, she thinks it's incredibly sweet that he's willing to stick his neck out for her, even though he's aware of the consequences should he get caught. No one has ever done anything like that for her before, and she knows that means he values her safety and happiness above his own. And the very thought of that...well, it makes her romantic heart rebel against her oh so logical brain. Rachel has tried so hard not to see something that isn't there, has tried so hard not to jump to conclusions, that now she wonders if she's been missing something that's been there the whole time. After all her past troubles, listening to her brain seemed like the right thing to do. But was she wrong to do that? Should she have listened to her heart more?
Noah drops down onto the grass next to her and hands her a bottle of water, twisting the top off his soda and pulling one half of his sandwich out of the plastic bag. He takes a bite and smiles. "Roast beef and cheddar. You fuckin' rock, babe."
She smiles back. "I'm glad you like it." She takes a bite of an apple slice and opens up the notebook next to her, flipping to a page about halfway through. "Okay, so what about David?"
He shakes his head. "To plain. Too Jewish."
"We have Jewish names, Noah."
"No, we have awesome Jewish names, Rach." He tosses a pretzel into his mouth. " 'Sides, it'd remind us of Karofsky every day. David's out."
Mercedes says, "You gettin' a puppy or something, Diva?"
"No. We're naming our son." She turns to Noah and asks, "What about Nathan?"
He chases his bite of sandwich with a swig of soda and says, "Creepy kid at temple that gave almost everyone head lice when we were eight."
She frowns. "Oh, you're right. I'd forgotten about him."
Rachel crosses Nathan off the list and Mercedes puts her hand in the air and says, "Hold up a second! Diva!" She leans in close and whispers, her eyes darting back and forth. "Are you pregnant?"
Rachel gasps. "What? No!"
Noah says, "You're crazy if you think I'm knockin' her up before she's been nominated for her first Tony."
Rachel smiles and puts her hand on his bicep. "I do appreciate that you understand just how important my dreams are to me." He smiles a little and shrugs then breaks off a piece of one of the cookies, holding out the piece to her. She takes it with a smile. "We already have a name for our first child, so it seems a little unfair not to name the others too."
Tina leans forward and says, "So you're naming your future kids?"
She nods and takes a bite of the cookie, brushing her hand against her skirt where a few stray crumbs had fallen.
Tina says, "I've always wanted two kids. A boy and a girl."
Mike looks at her and says, "We are so the same person."
Tina smiles at him and leans closer and Mercedes says, "I only want one."
Sam says, "Really? I always thought I'd have three or four."
"Three or four?"
He shrugs. "Well, yeah. It's good for a kid to have siblings. It's like having a buddy for life."
Mercedes' expression softens and Santana says, "I don't really care how many I have, so long as I don't have to give birth to them. No baby is worth messing with this awesome body."
Kurt sneaks a look at Rachel before he looks at Noah and says, "And just how many gorgeous little babies are you and the Diva planning on having?"
"Three. Two boys and a girl." He turns to Rachel and says, "Luke."
Rachel shakes her head. "No. Absolutely not."
"Because for the rest of his life, all he'd hear is-" She clears her throat and drops her voice. "Luke...I am your father." Noah, Mike, Artie, Blaine, and Sam start to laugh and she says, "Precisely. And before you even think about suggesting it, we are also not naming him Han, Lando, Chewbacca, Anakin, or C-3PO."
"We're not naming him Indiana either." Noah grins and leans back against the tree. "But since you seem so focused on his movies, what about Harrison?"
"Nah. Makes him sound like a British dude with a butler."
Rachel rolls her eyes and looks down at her list. "How about Spencer?"
"Makes him sound like he is the butler."
"Do you want him to get beat up every day?"
She huffs. "No, of course not. Gabe."
"Is that a yes?"
"It's a maybe. Keep going."
" 'Cause we're not naming our kid after a Backstreet Boy."
Mike says, "I like the name Carter. If you're not going to use it, can we have it?"
Rachel smiles at her. "Of course."
Tina makes a little sound and Mike turns to her and says, "You don't like the name Carter?"
"It's just a lot of Cs for one name, isn't it? Carter Chang. Carter Cohen-Chang. Carter Cohen-Chang-Chang."
Noah chokes on his soda and Rachel pats him on the back. "Dude...your future kid is gonna get wailed on."
"Noah! That's a terrible thing to say!" She turns to Mike and Tina. "It's a lovely name."
Mike shakes his head. "Nah...Puck's right. If Tina's gonna keep her last name, we probably have to stay away from anything that starts with a C. Or rhymes."
"You'd be okay with me keeping my last name?"
He shrugs. "I didn't want to assume you'd just take mine."
Tina looks at him with soft eyes and sighs. "You are so awesome."
Tina launches herself forward and kisses him and Mercedes rolls her eyes and says, "I swear...anything can set those two off. The other day they had an argument about a fruit roll-up that turned into a ten minute make out session."
Noah lifts an eyebrow. "Why do you care?"
" 'Cause I was on the damn phone with her at the time, and that's just inconsiderate."
"No." When Rachel gives him a questioning look, he says, "Country club prick."
"Old lady down my street that legit smells like death has a dog named Toby. No."
He shrugs. "I dunno, just...no. It's not his name."
She makes a little noise and looks at her notebook. "That's the end of my list so far. Do you have any names?"
Noah takes a sip of his soda and says, "Jason?"
She wrinkles her nose and shakes her head.
"Also too western."
She purses her lips and narrows her eyes. "I'm not an idiot, Noah. I know what you're trying to do. And no...we are not naming our son after one of the Cleveland Indians."
He laughs. "C'mon, Rach. Those are awesome names."
"No." She sighs and says, "Clearly we're at an impasse for the moment. Maybe we should move on to our daughter and come back to him later."
He breaks an apple slice in half and says quietly, "Kinda already had a name in mind for her."
He nods. "Stella." When Rachel doesn't say anything, he says, "I mean, it has connections to Broadway 'cause of Stella in Streetcar Named Desire, right? And since there's no way we're naming our kid Elpha-whatever like the main chick in Wicked, I figured it was a good compromise. And I looked it up in the library during third period, and-"
"You know where the library is?"
"Fuck you, Lopez." He turns his attention back to Rachel and says, "Anyway, I looked it up and it means-"
Rachel smiles at him, her eyes a little watery, and he scratches the back of his neck and says, "Yeah."
She nods and smiles.
"She needs a middle name, though."
Rachel pulls her bottom lip between her teeth and looks across the circle at Mercedes, who shrugs. "Hmm...Stella Puckerman. Stella...Joy? Stella...Anne? Stella...Renee?" He shakes his head at all of them and his fingers start playing with the plastic ring on his soda bottle. "Stella...Grace?"
His hands stop moving and he looks up. "Yeah. I like Grace."
"Stella Grace Puckerman it is." She smiles then sighs as she looks down at the open notebook and the list of scratched out boy names. "Of course, you realize that means we're still stuck on our second son's name."
"You should totally name him Brittany."
Everyone looks over at Brittany, who's sitting there staring at Rachel with almost blank eyes and a very serious expression on her face. Rachel says, "Um, that's a lovely thought, Brittany, but I don't think so."
"But Brittany's a great name."
Rachel's about to respond when Noah puts his hand on her knee and says, "Yeah, it totally is, Britt. But we'd always be mixin' the two of you up. I mean, we're not gonna name him Mike or Sam for the same reason."
Brittany nods and says, "Maybe when Santana and I have a son, we can name him Brittany."
Santana holds out her bag of chips to Brittany and says, "Maybe, Britt."
Brittany smiles and Sam says, "What about Kevin?"
"Don't make me hit you. I'm not namin' my kid after the Biebs, no matter how much you might worship him."
They start calling out names – Santana then Artie then Tina then Mercedes – and with each suggestion, Rachel can see Noah's annoyance growing.
"Hell no. Are you tryin' to kill me?"
The warning bell rings and as Rachel is gathering up the wrappers and containers from her lunch, Kurt leans over and says, "We are talking about this. I expect your presence at our table in Chemistry no later than three minutes prior to the beginning of sixth period. Are we understood?"
Rachel nods and he and Blaine stand up with everyone else and follow Artie off the lawn, Sam and Mercedes holding hands, Santana and Brittany with linked pinkies, Mike holding Tina close. She thinks she hears Sam asking Mercedes how she feels about the name Justin and Blaine asking Kurt if he likes the name Claire, and she can't help the smile that breaks out on her face.
When Rachel moves to stand, a gentle pressure on her knee keeps her seated, and she looks over at Noah.
"We got a few minutes."
"Noah, I don't have my books with me. If I don't leave now, I'll be late for class."
He shrugs. "You have Spanish next. What's Schue gonna do if you're late?"
"Give me detention."
"I have a spotless record, Noah."
"Live a little, Rach."
His hand starts rubbing her knee gently, tracing small, almost non-existent circles over the side of it before moving up her thigh just a little. They lock eyes and Rachel has to catch her breath, and she wonders whether Noah has ever looked at anyone like he's looking at her now. She wonders too why she's the lucky one, why she's the one that gets to see him in moments like this, when there is no wall in front of his eyes and it seems like everything inside of him could spill out at any moment.
She slowly turns into him and leans against his side, hugging his arm to her body and resting her chin on his shoulder. She gives him ample time to back away or to tell her "that's not what I meant" or to ask her "what the hell are you doing?", but he doesn't move. His hand stays on her thigh and his eyes fix on hers and he lets a few minutes go by before he says anything at all.
"You're over him, right?"
"One hundred percent."
He looks at her for a moment. "Good."
Rachel moves her head so that her cheek is resting against his shoulder and she watches as the last students make their way off the lawn and into McKinley's hallways. "Is this..."
She looks up at him. "Really?"
Kurt is already at their table when Rachel walks through the Chemistry classroom doorway. He's standing there with his arms crossed, tapping his foot on the floor (she knows what that means), so she walks across the room quickly and sits down on the stool next to him. "It's not so complicated anymore."
She blushes. "Really."
"Oh thank God. The unresolved UST between the two of you was about ready to make the rest of us burst into flame."
Blaine walks over and sets his bag down on their table, taking a seat on the other side of Rachel. "Unresolved sexual tension. And he's right. We could've started a few forest fires in the last few weeks with all the heat you two were giving off."
"So just to recap...my stepbrother acts like a jerk and breaks up with you again in front of the entire glee club to go after the Fembot...Puck calls Finn a blind idiot and tells him he never deserved you...you and Puck have a whole lot of UST and become practically inseparable but deny you're anything until you're blue in the face...he serenades you in glee again, this time with Peter Gabriel...he goes out of his way to look out for you and keep you safe from Azimio and Karofsky and any other bully stupid enough to mess with you...but it's not until today, when you start talking about having babies, that you finally get together?"
Laid out like that, it makes Rachel's previous concerns about Noah's feelings seem a bit...invalid. "Um...yes?"
Blaine shakes his head. "Straight people are weird."
Kurt sighs. "It's really quite wonderful, though. The Good Girl with big city dreams falls in love with the Bad Boy with a checkered past and a heart of gold. At first it seems our hero and heroine will never find their way, but in the end they fight for each other against the evil forces that mean to do them wrong, bask in their epic love, get married and have lots of gorgeous, talented babies. End scene. Fade to black. It's all so...cinematic."
"We're not married yet, Kurt."
Lost in his vision, Kurt merely waves a hand at her and says, "You're naming your babies. It's inevitable." Rachel smiles and Kurt turns on his stool and says, "But I just want you to know, I'm calling-"
"Of course you're my Man of Honor."
"And you can plan my wedding."
"Excellent!" Kurt claps his hands together and looks over at Blaine. "With her dark hair, don't you think she'd make a lovely winter bride?"
Rachel smiles and pulls out her Chemistry book as Kurt and Blaine start planning her wedding to Noah. She interrupts only once – though she thinks doves are lovely, the idea of them pooping on everyone at her reception makes her cringe, which Blaine agrees with – but otherwise leaves them alone to talk amongst themselves about flower arrangements and colors and whether it's feasible to get Noah into a tuxedo. They don't even break stride when Mr. Turner walks into the room and begins his lecture, dropping their voices down to whispers and passing notes with sketches and ideas back and forth. When Mr. Turner hands off their lab assignments, Rachel ends up doing most of the work herself because they're too engrossed in an argument over whether Rachel should get married indoors or out to be at all concerned with mixing a few chemicals together to create a reaction.
She's just writing down the last of their data when it comes to her. She doesn't know why she didn't think of this name before, but it's perfect.
"I've got it!"
"You've got what?"
"I know what Noah and I are going to name our second boy."
Blaine leans forward and eagerly asks, "What?"
"I can't tell you."
"Oh c'mon, Rachel! Would you really leave your Man of Honor and your...Bridesman...out in the dark?"
"I can't tell you before I tell Noah. You'll just have to wait to find out like everyone else."
"You won't even tell us if I threaten to make you walk down the aisle to Wind Beneath My Wings?"
"Or My Heart Will Go On?"
"Or I Will Always Love You?"
Rachel keeps hoping she'll see Noah before glee, maybe run into him in the hallways in between classes, but it doesn't happen. (Their classes at the end of the school day are on opposite sides of the school, so she expected as much, but she's still a little disappointed.) To make matters worse, Mr. Pearson decides that today is the perfect day to keep her after class to discuss how much he enjoyed her paper on the Civil Rights Movement. Normally, Rachel is happy when a teacher singles her out for praise, but ever since her light bulb moment in Chemistry class, she's been dying to talk to Noah. She thought about sending him a text, but considering the topic, that seemed a poor choice. Besides, she wants to see his face when she tells him.
So as soon as Mr. Pearson releases her (with a "This is truly great work. I'm impressed!"), it's an excited Rachel that runs through mostly deserted hallways on her way to the choir room. Aside from Mr. Schue, she's the last one into the room, and as soon as Kurt and Blaine see her, their faces light up. Rachel sees Noah slouching in his chair in the second row and hops up the stairs to him, dropping herself down in the chair to his right.
He sends a lazy little smirk her way and brushes the hair back from one side of her face. "So Kurt and Blaine were practically pissing themselves waiting for you to get here. What's that all about? You plannin' on serenading me or something?"
"Yes, of course. Actually, I'd been planning to for quite a while, but I could never seem to find just the right song to properly express how I feel and I didn't want to pick something that was only sort of accurate because I think we both agree that when I do things, I do them all the way or not at all and..." She trails off and closes her eyes briefly, shaking her head to clear her thoughts. "But no, that's not it. I know our second son's name."
"Yeah?" He sits up and turns his body to face her.
She turns so that she's facing him completely, one leg tucked under her body. "Yes. It's perfect. It's a strong, masculine name for you, with ties to Broadway and plenty of leading man potential for me. It's easy to spell and pronounce and as an added bonus, allows you to pass on one of your favorite nicknames."
Rachel pauses, a smile on her face, her hands out in front of her, and Kurt says, "Diva! Enough with the dramatic effect! Just tell us his name already."
Rachel looks around and is startled when she sees – not including Noah's – eleven pairs of eyes staring back at her, two more confused than expectant. There is an edge of something else as well in one of those sets of eyes, and it immediately tempers her joy a little. She'd been so excited to share the name with Noah that she hadn't given much thought to the fact that everyone else would be hearing it too. And it's not Tina or Kurt's reaction that bothers her.
And frankly, that makes Rachel angry.
She's tired of this. She's tired of the raised eyebrows and the insults and the constant snickering behind her back, but most of all, she's tired of this habit she has of letting Quinn Fabray get into her head. Because Rachel may not be able to control whether someone calls her RuPaul or laughs at her clothes or writes things about her on the bathroom walls (and she can live with that – she's learned to live with that), but she can control how she reacts to everything. And it stops now.
Noah's soft voice brings her out of her thoughts and when her eyes meet his, she sees a smile in them.
"What's his name?"
(And really, how can Rachel possibly care about Quinn Fabray and her poisonous tongue when she has Noah Puckerman sitting right in front of her, looking at her like she's the only thing in the whole world that's ever mattered?)
She smiles, bites her lip, and says, "Rex." She watches the smile start to grow on his face and she says, "As in, Puck-"
"Exactly. The second generation of Puckasaurus: Puckasaurus Rex."
His grin is so large, it's practically splitting his face in half. "Baby, you're fuckin' brilliant!"
He grabs her face with both hands and kisses her. It's confident and firm and closer to a peck than a real kiss, but they're in the middle of glee and Mr. Schue is bound to walk in the room sometime soon, so she understands why he holds back. (That doesn't stop her from wishing he'd taken it just a little further, though. She'd forgotten how much she'd missed Noah's lips.)
When they pull apart he rests his arm on the back of her chair and smiles at her, big and honest and sure, and Rachel knows – just knows – that no matter where she goes, no matter who she meets, she'll never find another boy like this, not so long as she lives. Never.
And the other thing she knows?
She's ready for her happy ending to start.