Title: A Reason For All That I Do (And The Reason Is You)
Prompt: Puck: "I shouldn't be alive, unless it was for a reason." By enchantedrose80 – puckrachel drabble meme (part 9, pg 14)
Word Count: 3,207
Summary: "Sometimes I just sit back and think, 'I was never supposed to get this… This wasn't supposed to be my life… Don't get me wrong, 'cause I thank God every day that it is, but it's just surreal, y'know? That I got all this in the end…"
A Reason For All That I Do (And The Reason Is You)
Rachel found him in the nursery; not an uncommon place for him to be lately. He was sitting in the rocking chair, fashioned with thick cushions, a blanket with a cartoon lion stitched onto it laid over his lap. He was fiddling with a stuffed, green Yoshi, fingers flipping the red felt that lined the seam of its head. He'd turned the nightlight on; it was spinning slowly, sending a shadowed rainbow of stars dancing on the walls. He'd put on pajamas at least; he only owned one pair since he preferred to sleep in the buff.
She watched him for a moment, leaning in the doorway, hugging her robe around her. He'd been doing this for the last few weeks. As the due date drew closer, he'd been spending more time in the nursery, falling into his thoughts more often than not. He'd been writing more songs recently too; she'd seen them littering his desk, piled up, filled with scratch outs, all yet untitled.
Finally, she moved into the room, sighing softly, and padded across the floor, wiggling her toes in the soft carpet. She reached for him and dragged her nails over his short hair, shaved down ever since he stopped wearing the 'hawk.
He looked up at her, mouth quirking on one side. "Hey, babe…" He reached an arm out and his hand settled on the small of her back. "You should be sleeping…"
She smiled down at him and shuffled in until she was close enough to take a seat on his lap and leaned against him. "So should you," she reminded, tapping his chest. "You know sleep is important, Noah. When Samantha's born, our schedules will be erratic and it's best to get as much sleep in now."
"Pretty sure they mostly tell the mom's that," he said, rubbing the heel of his palm up and down her back.
"Well, I believe in equal parental rights," she said, pursing her lips. "And besides, if you're too tired to take care of her, how am I going to get any beauty rest?" she quipped.
He laughed and leaned his head back against the chair. "You're full up on that," he told her, brow raised. "You get any hotter and you might combust." His eyes widened. "Legit, it's a thing."
She chuckled. "Considering I'm currently the size of a small whale, I'll take that as a compliment."
"You look good…" He rested his hand on her round stomach. "Plus your boobs are bigger."
"That is an upside," she mused, looking down at her chest appreciatively.
He hummed, gaze set on his hand rubbing circles where her robe had parted. Her camisole was stretched tight over her stomach and left a sliver of skin between her shorts and her tummy. He let his thumb rub over it every once in a while, only pausing when their daughter kicked and he felt it.
She watched as the awe filled his face; he never quite got used to that. His lopsided grin made her heart flip, even after ten years together, three of which were spent married.
"You've been thinking a lot lately," she murmured, staring up at him.
"Happens sometimes, making up for lost time in high school," he joked.
She rolled her eyes. "Noah…" She frowned.
"I'm not putting myself down," he assured.
"Good, because you know I don't like it when you do that." She pointed at him. "Don't make me make you repeat the Berry-Puckerman motto."
He sighed. "We're smart, sexy, successful people who rock the world and nobody can tell us different."
She bit her lip. "That sexy part was never part of the equation you know."
He snorted. "It was always part of the equation," he argued. "I have never not been sexy, Rach. And even when you were supposed to be in your awkward stage, you were rocking mini-skirts and knee socks and giving all the AV geeks lifetime fap material."
"Ew," she muttered.
"Anyway…" She tapped her finger against his chest. "You changed the subject…" She reached up and dragged her hair off her face, tipping it back to see him better. "You've been distracted lately and I think we should talk about it."
He shrugged. "It's nothing… Just big stuff, right? We're havin' a baby."
She smiled, her hand falling to cover his as it moved over her stomach. "We are… Which is something you were very excited for… In fact, if I remember correctly, you announced it on live television."
"So what exactly has you worried?"
Slowly, his smile faded and he gave a long sigh. "You remember Glee club?" he asked.
"Of course. Mercedes emailed Kurt who called me to remind me that we would be having our annual reunion next month… He also said I should hurry up and have this baby already so he could show her off to everyone in his latest line of baby couture. "
Puck blinked. "I don't know which part of that sucks more…"
"No-ah!" she complained. She stuck her bottom lip out at him. "You love Kurt!"
He shrugged. "Sure. Hummel's cool shit. The fact that he's making clothes for babies is weird though… Samantha isn't gonna care if her clothes are cool; she's gonna spit up on all of 'em… What d'you think Kurt's gonna do when regurgitated mashed peas are all over his favorite 'ensemble'?"
"Eventually he'll get used to it," she said, but frowned, turning her eyes away. "Maybe we could suggest a line of bibs that he'd approve of…"
"And why are we having an annual get-together anyway? Me and Sam get together all the time. His comic shop is like, around the corner…" he reminded, waving a hand toward the window. "And Santana's kicking bad guy ass as a lawyer; she just opened her new office. You sent a singing telegram!"
Rachel smiled brightly. "She sent me back a thank you letter in Spanish, but I didn't have it translated because I'm pretty sure none of it was nice…" She sighed, turning her eyes away. "Singing telegrams are sadly underrated…"
He snorted. "All I'm sayin' is I still talk to the good ones all the time… Me an' Artie got together last week when he got time off from filming… He's still hoping you'll star in his next movie but I told him if he gets on your case about the baby weight he'd need a wheelchair for his wheelchair."
"I'm both appalled and flattered," she said, rubbing her hand over his heart. "But we get together each year for a reason."
He groaned, long and loud. "I swear to J-Money if you say it's to sing—"
"That, and also to remind ourselves of where we came from and how we rose from the ashes like our own unique phoenix…" she said dramatically.
"Those are the fire bird things, right?" He frowned, brow quirked. "Like in Harry Potter?"
She sighed. "Yes."
She bit her lip to keep from laughing. "Yes, Noah, I'm well aware of your fascination with fire."
He shrugged. "Shit's fun."
Rolling her eyes, she told him, "You distracted me again."
"I can think of another way to distract you…" He slid his hand under her robe and up her side.
She slapped it. "Not happening. Sex has been known to stimulate early labor."
He lit up. "Awesome, then we get to meet Berry-Puckerman Jr. early! I'm not seeing a downside here…"
"I'm not having her pre-maturely just so we can have sex!" she exclaimed.
He scoffed. "Rachel, she's due like, next week. I don't think we've got anything to worry about."
"You better knock on wood, Noah Puckerman! Don't you jinx her!" she warned, glaring.
He rapped his knuckles against the arm of the rocking chair, but she could see he was more amused by her than anything. Much like he'd always been, he was very much immune to her mood swings or naturally dramatic personality; both taking it in stride and loving her for her over-the-top self.
"Now…" She covered his hand and rested it on her stomach, right over where Samantha was kicking. "You were saying? Did I remember Glee club," she prompted.
His jaw ticked and he sobered once more. "Yeah, you remember senior year and Mr. Shue asked us where we saw ourselves in the future?"
"If I remember correctly, and I do, because my memory is amazing, he asked us where we saw ourselves in 2030…" She beamed up at him. "I rightly said Broadway." Rachel thought reverently of all the productions she'd starred in, the Tony award sitting centermost on the shelf in the living room, with Noah's framed platinum selling records on either side.
"Yeah…" He licked his lips. "Well, I said I'd probably be in jail or dead… or both."
Rachel stilled and looked up at him, her brow furrowed. "I thought that was one of your misplaced jokes…" She shook her head. "Noah, you didn't really believe that, did you?"
"Back then?" His brows hiked. "Yeah… Yeah, I was pretty sure I was heading nowhere, and fast."
"But you didn't." She wrapped her arm around his waist and leaned more snugly against him, her head in the crook of his shoulder. "You went on to do amazing things!"
"First Puckerman to hit it out of the park, right?" He rubbed her shoulder and scrubbed his fingers down his jaw. "I've just been thinking, y'know? With Samantha comin' along…"
She looked up at him.
"With all the shit I did, all the trouble I got into…" He shook his head. "I mean I did some pretty dumb stuff…"
"You were young."
"And dumb," he added, nodding. "Thing is… I… I shouldn't be alive…" He swallowed thickly. "Unless it was for a reason."
Brows furrowed, she stared thoughtfully at him before her eyes fell and slowly moved to her stomach. A smile touched her lips. "You were meant to be a dad."
"I… I can't fix what I did. I can't make any of that better or go away… But I can teach her not to do the same things I did. I—I can raise her better than my dad did me or Sarah or Jake…" He rubbed his thumb over her belly. "She's gonna be amazing, Rach, and I just—I wanna be the kind of dad she can look up to and be proud of…" He nodded earnestly. "I couldn't be that for Beth. I screwed up with her and she—She's better off now. But… I made it. I made it to New York and I married the most amazing woman I've ever known and now we got this kid coming and… I dunno, it's like, sometimes I just sit back and think, 'I was never supposed to get this… This wasn't supposed to be my life…'" He shrugged. "Don't get me wrong, 'cause I thank God every day that it is, but it's just surreal, y'know? That I got all this in the end…"
Rachel blamed her hormones on why her eyes filled with tears, but the idea that even now, at thirty-six, that Noah couldn't see what a wonderful and beautiful person he was, inside and out, made her heart ache. "Noah," she breathed.
"No, it's cool," he told her, reaching up to squeeze her shoulder. "That kid I was, that eighteen year old who was going nowhere… Maybe it was good for him, to think that, because if he didn't, he wouldn't've worked his ass off to get here. To get the record deal and the girl and the penthouse with the custom-made nursery with all the ducks on the wall and a dresser full of baby clothes that cost enough to probably pay off a year of my mom's mortgage."
"Well Kurt is a highly respected fashionista; it's no surprise his clothes cost so much. Really, we're lucky he gave them to us, and before they'd even hit the stores too. It pays to have connections…"
He snorted, shaking his head. "Like this, right here, this wasn't what I thought I'd get… Maybe a few cougars to bang on the regular, a pool business to keep me afloat, a baby-mama or two when I eventually went back to Lima, tail between my legs, but this…" He swallowed tightly. "Rachel, we got everything…" He waved a hand around. "I get that you always kind of thought you would, 'cause you were kicking ass at singing and dancing from birth, but sometimes I still feel like some shmuck from Lima who always made the wrong decision, bet his last dime on a lame horse, and let his dick do too much of his thinking…"
"And you are a little of that person," she said, pushing up to a seated position to look at him searchingly. "Just like I'm the loudmouthed diva who wanted every solo and refused to let anybody into my spotlight… We don't just stop being those people, Noah. We learn from them and we take parts of them with us and we—we grow."
She reached out and pressed her hand down flat against his chest. "You were a bully in the beginning but by Junior year, you were standing up for people you'd previously bullied. You were letting your heart show and when senior year came around, you were the one we could always count on to do whatever you could to help… When you love something, you put all of yourself into it. Maybe you see that as betting on the lame horse; maybe that's your dad or yourself, I'm not sure, but instead of regretting that or putting down that version of you who did that, maybe you should remember how much strength it had to take to try again, to hope again, against everything that tried to push you down…" She shook her head. "Noah, you overcame so much and you deserve every happiness you get now… You deserve your career success and New York and the luxurious apartment…"
She took his hand and threaded their fingers. "And we deserve each other. This is a mutual, equal relationship where neither of us is better or worse than the other, do you understand me?" She stared at him seriously. "You are not lucky to have me… We are blessed that we found each other again, at the right time, when both of us had grown up and found ourselves before each other, and our baggage was put away enough that we could connect and not drag previous relationships or sorrows into the mix…"
She reached up and cupped his face, rubbing her thumbs under his eyes. "You're not in jail or dead or both, because you were always more than you ever expected of yourself. You will continue to be more for the rest of your life, Noah Puckerman!" She nodded at him firmly. "And I'll be right there, by your side, cheering you on… Me and Samantha both!"
Jerkily, he nodded, before reaching up to take her hands; he pulled them down off his face and used them to draw her in close again, until she was laid out on her side, her head on his shoulder. His arms wrapped around her and his head fell to lean against hers. "I get it," he said. "Sometimes I just forget… That it was half a lifetime ago and I'm not that same kid."
She slid her hand up and curled her fingers around the back of his neck as her eyes fell to half-mass. "The reason you're alive is you… You worked for it, earned it, and now you get to enjoy the spoils…" Her passionate speech, however, was interrupted as she yawned.
"How 'bout we enjoy 'em in our bed?" he suggested, pushing the chair forward.
Rachel climbed off his lap, helped by his hands on her hips to steady her and her extra weight. She leaned into his side, her arm looping around his waist, and her eyes drooped closed as he walked them to the door. He paused to flick the light switch, flooding the nursery with darkness, and then directed her down the hall to their bedroom.
She blinked tiredly as they walked through their bedroom. He tugged her robe down her shoulders and put it on the hook by the closet before helping her onto the bed and crawling over the thick blankets to his side of the bed, arm curled behind his head as he laid back against his pillow. Rachel slid in against his side and slid her leg over his; she could feel his fingers sifting through her hair.
It was a few minutes before he said quietly, "I am lucky though… Even if I did it all myself and all that… I'm the luckiest Lima loser there ever was…" He turned his head and kissed her forehead. "There's no way it wasn't pure luck that you weren't already in love and married to some other guy when I finally got here…"
She hummed, rubbing her fingers over his chest comfortingly. "Well, Brody and I did only break up the year prior and he was pretty wonderful," she mused.
He laughed under his breath. "See? Luck."
"Maybe…" She turned her head up, chin balanced on him, and smiled. "I prefer to think it was always meant to be this way."
He brushed her hair back behind her ear. "Yeah." He nodded, staring at her with the same adoring look he'd been giving her for teen years. He hugged her. "Yeah."
Rachel turned her head down and let her eyes close. Noah reached over and turned the lamp off on their bedside table and slowly, they fell back to sleep.
She didn't find him lingering in the nursery or deep in troubled thought anymore. In fact, he seemed more relaxed, at ease. Never more so though, than when Samantha was finally put in his arms.
He stood by her bed, rocking their baby girl, and grinning at her with wide-eyed awe. She read in his face how he thought their daughter was beautiful and perfect and that he'd really lucked out again that he had her now too.
Rachel patted the space next to her on her bed and he sat down. She reached across and tugged the little pink blanket out of the way so she could see Samantha's face, squished and red and stunning.
"Did you say hello?" she asked him. When he shook his head, she said, "Samantha Puckerman, this is your daddy… He's the most amazing man you will ever know and he will love and protect you for the rest of your life."
Noah's hand was shaking at it covered hers and he looked down at their daughter to say, "Hey…" And with a laugh, he added, "What she said."
Rachel grinned up at him.
He brought her hand up and kissed her wrist, threading their fingers.
And Rachel gazed at her family, beautiful and complete, and she thanked whatever it was, luck or Noah's inner-spirit, his will to be better, everything that played a part in bringing them to the here and now. To 2030 and their hard-earned happily ever after.