Pretend there's a disclaimer here.

Merry Christmas to everyone (or whichever appropriate holiday greeting applies to you) and happy New Year and all.

As a side note, I think we're almost a third of the way through this story, so there's that for you guys. That's pretty much it, so, as always, enjoy! - and feedback is always appreciated!

Chapter 9: Breakaway

After a cup of hot chocolate, and roasting marshmallows throughout both Snow White and Bambi on Will's laptop, Sara fell asleep again, though she'd curled up on the other side of the couch, using Ambrose as a pillow.

"She'll be out for a few hours this time," Puck said as he stood up and stretched, making sure Sara was completely covered with the blanket.

Will nodded but didn't say anything as he and Puck cleaned up from the marshmallow roasting. The younger man had fallen asleep about ten minutes after Sara had drifted off, leaving Will alone with his thoughts for close to an hour. Now he just had to start the conversation, though that was proving much more difficult than he'd hoped it would be.

"Dude, you look constipated," Puck said when they were alone in the kitchen.

The silence between them was still comfortable, but Will still said nothing, not sure how to say what he wanted to say without offending Puck or starting an argument. He leaned against the counter as the younger man piled the dishes into the sink, his brows furrowing in thought.

"Seriously? Dude, what's wrong with you?" Puck asked. Without warning, he grinned and backed Will against the counter, setting his hands on the counter to pin him in place. "I can help you relax if you want. I give a damn good blow job," he said, his voice taking on a husky quality as he leaned forward, pressing a light kiss to Will's lips.

"Puck," Will started before falling silent, allowing himself to be kissed. "Noah, I've been thinking about a few things," he said when the younger man leaned back a bit.

Puck sighed heavily. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing's wrong," Will said. "But I do need to talk about something serious," he added.

Puck frowned but stepped back, giving Will some space. He leaned against the kitchen table, watching the older man almost warily.

"My divorce has been final for a while, and the house is a bit big for just me," Will said quietly.

"You're not moving, are you?"

"No, not unless something drastic happens. What I'm trying to tell you is that the house is too big for just me." He frowned. "Let me get this all out before you say anything, okay?"

Puck scowled, crossing his arms over his chest. He glanced into the living room, but heard nothing that would indicate that Sara was waking up any time soon. "Are you sure-"

"The house was big when Terry and I, when we first bought the place, but after our marriage fell apart, it just got bigger," he said. "So there's always been an extra bedroom, but it's been gathering dust since things were finalized. I was wondering if you'd like to move Sara into that bedroom and you both can stay here on a more permanent basis," he said.

Puck was silent for a long moment.

"There aren't any strings attached, and, if you do stay, I want you to take some time for yourself."

"The fuck does that mean?" Puck asked, though his tone was more gentle than irritated.

Will paused, thinking things over as best he could before speaking. "You need to learn that not everything requires some sort of sexual reciprocation," he said. "And as much as I appreciate your affection, we do need to go back to a more professional relationship."

Puck didn't look particularly pleased with the suggestion, but at least he looked like he was thinking over the offer. "How would I pay rent?" he asked.

"Your grades," Will said after a quick moment of thought.


Will smiled slightly. It wasn't often that Puck could be taken off guard, and he found the amused yet bewildered look on Puck's face to be entirely too amusing. "Get your grades up to at least a C average and keep them there for as long as you're living here and I'll consider that rent."

After a comfortable, if a bit heavy, moment of silence, Puck shrugged. "It would be good for Sara, at least," he said. "But I'm going to talk to her about it before I agree to anything," he added.

"Of course," Will said. He glanced at the clock. It was close to five in the evening. "I'm going to take a quick shower, and once I'm done, I'll start something for dinner. Is there anything you'd like to eat?"

Puck shrugged. "Don't I still need to call what's his face?" he asked. "Archie?"

"If you want." Will was silent for a moment as Puck pulled his phone out of the pocket of his jacket. "I'd rather you meet him somewhere public so he doesn't pull any other dirty tricks on you," he said. "Or you can meet him here, if you'd like."

"What about Sara?"

"I'll keep an eye on her, unless you've got something else in mind," he said.

"She hasn't taken a bath yet today," Puck said.

"I'll go clean up the guest bathroom," Will said quietly. At the suspicious look Puck sent him, he held up his hands. "My bathroom doesn't have a tub, and the guest room is further from the front door, so there's less a chance anyone will see her if you call anyone in," he said.

Puck nodded. "You're sure you don't mind having him here?"

"It wouldn't surprise me if he somehow already had this address in his files, thanks to my ex-wife," Will said with a faint frown.

"That book club you told me about?" Puck asked.

Will nodded. "Fond memories," he said dryly. "Have him come over around eight, would you?" he asked.

"Right," Puck said, already working on a text message. "And we're going to talk about your suggestion with Sara over dinner, right?"

"If you'd like, yeah," Will said. He rubbed a hand along his jaw, scowling slightly. He really needed to shave.

As if knowing what he was thinking, Puck stepped forward and took hold of the older man's chin. "You look like better with a beard," he said with an impish grin.

"I can't move my face, Puck."

Puck grinned. "My plan is working, then," he said, once again kissing Will. At the stubborn look on Will's face, he just laughed quietly. "I haven't agreed to anything yet, and if you want, I can give you a reason to take a cold shower, since you're not going to follow through with anything too fun."

"I really would rather you not," Will said, trying to move his face out of Puck's hold, albeit unsuccessfully. "I've already had one cold shower today and I'd rather not have to take a second one," he said.

That had Puck chuckling again and he finally let go of Will's face.

"Thanks," Will said quietly, scratching at his jaw. "I'll be out in a little while," he said. He watched Puck for a moment, looking like he was about to say something. Instead, he just smiled at the younger man before walking out of the kitchen, still rubbing his jaw.

Once he was alone in the kitchen, Puck looked down at his phone, thinking about the text message he was getting ready to send. Scowling, he deleted the message, not sure how he was going to phrase things. He'd never been the smartest kid in class, and he really had no idea how to start this sort of conversation. Fortunately, fate seemed to be on his side. As he was holding his phone, his ringtone started to sound and Archie's phone number showed up on the caller ID. Puck scowled at his phone but answered, knowing the sound would wake Sara up if he let it go on for too long. "Hello?"

"Is this Puck?" Archie asked, sounding almost unsure of himself.

"Yeah," Puck said quietly. He glanced into the living room to make sure that Sara was still asleep before heading further into the kitchen and looking out the window. "Schue said that you wanted to talk to me before you leave Lima," he said.

Archie was silent for a moment. "Would it be asking too much of me to request a meeting in person?" he asked finally. "And in someplace public?"

"Why public?"

"It will stop me from asking the questions that I shouldn't be asking of you," he said.

Puck smiled slightly but didn't say anything.

"There's an all night diner about a block away from my hotel and I've got to start making my way to the airport in a few hours, so I was hoping to meet you within the next hour," Archie said.

"I know the place," he said. "I can be there in half an hour."

"What would you like me to order for you?'

"Black coffee and a cinnamon pastry," Puck said. "And make sure it's fresh." He didn't wait for a response before hanging up and leaving the kitchen.

He walked into Will's bedroom just as the man pulled his shirt off. The older man had his back to Puck and Puck grinned, immediately deciding to take advantage of the situation. He walked up behind the man and wrapped his arms around the man's waist, pulling him into a hug. "We really have to stop meeting like this," he said, his grin becoming almost sharklike.

Will bit back a surprised yelp but, much to Puck's surprise, he seemed almost to relax into the embrace. At least, it didn't seem like he was actively trying to escape Puck's hold. "If it happens a third time, I might start to wonder if you're doing it on purpose," he said.

"This is a truly remarkable development," Puck said, pulling on a fake British accent. "The rare display of mating signals from the sweater-vested hedgehog. This has never before been seen in the wild. Let's watch and see what happens next."

"The sweater-vested hedgehog? Really?" Will asked, turning in the embrace to face Puck.

Puck just grinned wolfishly at him.

"You're in a strange mood," Will said, narrowing his eyes at Puck but not stopping the small smile from coming over his face. "And I'm not sure how to react to it."

"It's all finally sinking in," Puck admitted after a moment. "I'm not whoring or fighting for money and you offered me and Sara a roof." He paused and almost hesitantly tightened his arms around Will, an absent smile coming over his face when the older man didn't pull away. "I haven't been able to think too optimistically about life since before my father left," he said quietly.

Will was silent for a long moment, not sure how to respond to that statement.

"Could you hold off on the shower until I get back? Archie and I are having a conversation at that diner by the hotel," he said.

"Do you want company?"

"I can handle him on my own," Puck said with a grin. "Besides, it's not like he's going to pull a gun on me in the middle of Smitty's," he said.

Will scowled, his eyes going to the faint bruise on Puck's neck. "He pulled a gun on you?"

"It's not the first time it's happened, and I doubt it'll be the last," he said. "You don't mind watching Sara while I'm gone?"

"Only as long as you don't mind promising me that you're not going to start a fight with him."

"Dude, I'm just going to see Archie and telling him to fuck off," Puck said. "It's not like this is going to end with him in the hospital or me in jail or anything." At the less than pleased look on Will's face, Puck just grinned. "Dude, I'll be back in time for your dinner," he said. He backed Will against the wall and kissed him.

Will scowled when Puck let him go and backed up a few steps. "I told you I really didn't need a second cold shower today," he said.

Puck grinned, one hand straying to the top of Will's pants. "I could always fix that for you, you know," he said in a purring voice.

"No," Will said weakly, taking hold of Puck's hand and pulling it away from himself. "No," he said, clearing his throat. "Get rid of the porn producer and then you can come back and I'll make dinner for the three of us," he said.

"The power's still out."

Will shrugged. "I'll figure something out. Just don't take too long."

Puck nodded, kissing Will again before leaving the room. He pulled his jacket on and kissed Sara's forehead, pulling the blanket up to her chin on his way out the door.

The snow had slowed, which was fortunate for Puck as he got into his truck and pulled out of Will's driveway. Less fortunate was the fact that the roads had gotten much more slick in the past few hours. Scowling, Puck just cranked the radio up as he drove off to Smitty's diner.