23 Better Now

There was a moment of quiet and then, predictably, the mood was broken. It was probably a good thing if the whole mess was supposed to be glossed over but Puck wasn't exactly thrilled to be interrupted kissing Rachel.

"Enough with the mushy stuff," Blaine called out, "I heard that Puckerman can sing Fat Bottomed Girls, but I've never had proof."

"Damn man, you want Lauren to kick my ass?" Puck shook his head and sat down on the arm of the couch, Rachel on his knee.

"Go ahead Puckerman, I am fat. At least the song acknowledges my power," Lauren laughed from her spot in front of the stereo.

"Shit," Puck rubbed his hand over his head, "Pick anything else man," He cajoled.

"Well how 'bout that one you were working on the other day?" Artie suggested. "That sounded good. And you won't be rusty."

"Ya'll like Collective Soul?" Puck looked at Blaine and the football players.

"Hells yeah," Azimo nodded with a grin.

"Okay then," Puck grinned at Artie, "You got my back?"

"You know it," Artie hefted his electric guitar and started the opening chords. Puck kissed Rachel and she slid off his knee so he could put his back to the wall and face his now attentive audience. Puck took a deep breath and nodded to the other two guitar players beginning his own opening chords.

"Oh I'm newly calibrated
All shiny and clean
I'm your recent adaptation
Time to redefine me

Let the word out I've got to get out
Oh I'm feeling better now
Break the news out I've got to get out
Oh I'm feeling better now"

Puck looked at Rachel and grinned at her, he'd only gotten the idea to do this song because he'd heard someone humming it and he thought it fit he and Rachel.

"Oh I'm happy as Christmas
All wrapped to be seen
I'm your recent acquisition
Time to celebrate me

Let the word out I've got to get out
Oh I'm feeling better now
Break the news out I've got to get out
Oh I'm feeling better now

The world's done shaking
The world's done shaking
The world's done shaking me down

The world's done shaking
The world's done shaking
The world's done shaking me down,"

Artie and Sam gave him support for the chorus, their voices overlapping until the end and Puck finished with a flourish. He grinned as his team cheered and shook his head, rejoining Rachel on the sofa.

Puck looked around, people had crashed randomly around the room, most of the football team were lying by the television. Kurt and Blaine were sitting on the couch, completely passed out, while the rest of the glee club were on various pieces of furniture. Rachel was moving around, picking up plastic cups and covering various people up with blankets and nudging them into more comfortable positions. It was past three in the morning and Puck yawned as he tucked a pillow under Artie's head. "Angel I'mma check the basement and make sure everybody's covered.

"Okay, I'm just going to take this trash to the garage," Rachel picked up another cup and looked around apparently satisfied that she'd managed to at least partially clean up the house.

Puck had just tossed a spare blanket over the kids sleeping on Rachel's stage and had mounted the stairs to the kitchen when he heard Rachel cry out. He'd never felt a rush of adrenaline to compare as he burst into the garage to see Finn trying to drag Rachel out of the garage, his hand like a vise around her wrist. "Sonuvabitch," Puck threw a punch at Finn and managed to get the boy to let go of Rachel's wrist.

Finn had a longer reach though and it wasn't long before Puck was taking a punch to his face. He had a sickening feeling of deja vu as he nearly fell backwards. Righting himself he raised his fists and kept his guard up, "She's not yours Finn," Puck snarled. "You can't just take her because you want her."

"You did," Finn nearly shouted back.

"I've loved her since sophomore year, you fucking moron," Puck ducked a jab and punched Finn in the stomach. That let his guard down a bit and he took another punch to the face.

"When I was dating her," Finn said furiously, "She and I are together. You're always trying to steal my girlfriends, first Quinn, then Rachel." His fist rocketed into Puck's jaw. "What is it with you and my sloppy seconds."

Puck ducked and slammed his fist into Finn's nose, "Maybe because I don't think about women like that." He rammed his other fist into the quarterback's stomach. "I don't care who Rache dated before. I love her and I'm not breaking up with her to make you happy Finn. It's not up to me anyway."

Rachel hadn't said a word since she'd been torn away from Finn's grasp. Now she pushed in between the two of them, "Stop it. Both of you. Stop!"

Puck backed off, his guard still up but he didn't want a punch to land on Rachel. Finn apparently had no trouble with that concept and threw a wild haymaker that Rachel barely dodged. Her hands grasped Finn's wrist and yanked pulling him forward and thrusting her knee deep into his groin. While he was gasping she spun and kicked him in the chest, pushing him backwards.

"Get out of my garage before I call the cops," Rachel snarled at Finn. "I should have done that the minute you grabbed me but I didn't want to wake up my dads. You unbelievable moron. Get out!"

"Too late babystar," Hiram said wearily from the doorway. He was tying the belt of his robe and looked over his shoulder, "She's got a nasty bruise like a cuff on her wrist, but she seems all right. Noah's going to look like he went two rounds with a meat grinder though.

"Oh baby, your poor face," Rachel turned her back on Finn and moved towards Puck. He winced as her thumb touched his lip and came away bloody. "C'mon inside baby, let me get you some ice."

Puck nodded and let her tug him along by the hand. Kurt and Blaine had woken up and were waiting with LeRoy in the kitchen, Kurt looked stricken. "I am so sorry Mr. Berry," The boy said as LeRoy hung up the phone. "I never thought the boy I think of as a brother could behave like this."

"People do stupid shit when they're hurting someone told me once," LeRoy said quietly. "He thinks his hearts broken. So he's actin' stupid."

"Calling Rachel a whore in front of the entire party wasn't stupid enough he had to come back and try to drag her off?" Kurt muttered bitterly to Blaine, "His mom is upset about the assault and battery charges, and this just adds insult to injury."

Puck sighed as Rachel got out an icepack for his jaw, "I dunno what to say man," He shrugged and then hissed as she began to doctor his bloody knuckles. "I can't just back off and say 'she's all yours' Rache ain't mine to give away. She makes her own choices about who she's with."

Kurt nodded his understanding, "And she's obviously made her choice." He looked at Hiram and then at Puck, "We've got a year left of school and I don't know what we're going to do."

Rachel leaned against Puck and he wrapped an arm around her pressing a kiss to her hair, "We're going to act as if someone we all care about is angry with us. We're going to do our best to live our lives and not let the crazy ruin everything." She said simply. "I know it won't be easy, but if we stick together, take care of each other…"

Kurt nodded and Blaine took his hand, the ex Warbler was obviously trying to be supportive, "How will this effect Finn's court case?" Blaine wondered, "It can't be good for him to get arrested again for assault and battery."

"Part of me wants to press charges," Rachel sighed. "He can't keep doing this, lashing out and hurting the people he claims he loves. But putting him in jail won't help either. And if he doesn't make at least the basketball team senior year he's never going to get a scholarship."

"I'm more worried 'bout the fact that he's…you know…escalating," Puck looked at LeRoy as the tall black man came into the kitchen. "It ain't a good sign is it Mr. Berry."

"You're right Noah, it isn't," LeRoy poured himself a glass of water and sighed as he leaned against the counter next to his daughter. "Hiram's talking to the police and he's making it very clear that he wants Finn to be given a good scare." The lawyer looked at Kurt, "Kurt I have nothing but respect for your dad and step-mom but something has to give. He wasn't invited here but I distinctly heard his voice shouting at my daughter earlier in the evening. Hiram and I didn't want to say anything because Rachel seemed to be handling it, and Noah seemed to be letting her."

"Which was more than Finn ever did," Hiram injected wearily as he came into the kitchen. "The police have taken him down to the station. The patrolman told us to get some rest and come down before noon tomorrow." He looked at Rachel and Puck, "I'd like to hear exactly what happened tonight after the two of you went back down to the party."

Rachel sighed and Puck wrapped an arm around her waist, "It's not pretty," He warned Rachel's dad, "Finn got pretty ugly."

"We heard a lot of it," LeRoy reminded him, "And we heard the music start up again so I'm guessing Finn got tossed out."

"Yeah," Blaine grinned, "The football team really didn't like what he was saying. Karofsky especially."

Kurt chuckled, "He and Puck have really changed over the summer."

Rachel offered her dads a shaky smile and began to give them the gist of what had happened, explaining that Karofsky and the others had thrown Finn out so Puck wouldn't end up breaking his probation. "When Noah heard me…and hit Finn to get him to let go off me, that won't get him in trouble will it?" She asked LeRoy anxiously.

"No, that's the sort of circumstance for which an exception would be made," Her Daddy soothed her. "What happened after he got thrown out?"

"We all were having fun, Noah sang, and then Mercedes and Kurt and Blaine… we even got Dave to sing a bit with us, he has a good voice." She smiled up at Puck, "And about half an hour ago everybody pretty much started to go to sleep so Noah and I started picking up a bit and making sure everyone was comfortable. Noah went to check the basement, and I took the trash to the cans in the garage."

"And Finn was waiting for you out there," Puck realized. "Shit Rache, I shoulda done the trash."

"It wasn't like it weighed a ton Noah," Rachel reminded him dryly. "I should have been perfectly safe."

"Still feels like I shoulda been with ya," Puck grumbled a bit and subsided.

"I opened the door to the garage, went down the steps to the trash cans and had just put the lid back down when someone grabbed my wrist," Rachel said quietly. "I didn't know who it was at first and I sort of…shrieked, more because I was startled than because I was afraid. Then I saw it was Finn and started trying to get out of his hold…and he began to drag me towards the garage door. He wasn't talking he just looked furious…I didn't know what he was going to do and I was trying to get my balance back just enough to kick at his knee when Noah came flying through the door and decked him." Rachel looked up at Puck and he couldn't help laying a gentle kiss on her lips. "That made Finn let go of me, but I completely lost my balance and fell down. When I got back up they were fighting."

"Rache got in between us…so I backed off, didn't want to hit her accidently," Puck explained, "She's so tiny, if I hit her…it could break her neck."

"Finn didn't seem to have the same compunctions," Rachel said dryly. "He tried to hit Noah again and barely missed hitting me. That's when I decided I'd had enough. I grabbed his wrist the way Master Han taught me, pulled him forward and kneed him in the groin. Then I kicked him in the sternum and it knocked him down."

"Master Han?" Kurt asked faintly while Blaine looked impressed.

"Her Kung Fu master," Puck explained with a slight smile that pulled at his cut lip.

"All right," Hiram shook his head, "Go to bed, all you kids," He ordered. "Noah, I'll put some clothes in Rachel's room that you can use. I think you and LeRoy are close to the same size." He tilted his head the same way Rachel did and smiled slightly. "We should actually go through our closet, there's a lot of stuff LeRoy doesn't wear anymore that you might like. One of his suits is a little snug on him but it might fit you and it'll save you buying one for court."

Puck was touched, any other time his back might have gone up over the thought of charity but Rachel's dads…it felt like they were just treating him as family. "That'd be great Mr. Stein, I got a blue dress shirt and Rachel's gonna teach me how to tie a tie."

"Puckerman in a suit?" Kurt smirked at Puck wickedly, "Rachel I demand that you supply proof of this phenom."

"He's going to look so hot," Rachel's voice was tired but emphatic.

"Bed, everybody, bed," Hiram commanded. "Noah, take some ibuprofen before you go to bed, it'll help with the swelling."

"I'll take care of him Dad," Rachel tugged on Puck's hand and he willingly followed her upstairs for the second time that night.

"Goodnight you two," LeRoy had a smile in his voice and Puck turned to see Hiram wrap his arms around his husbands waist as the two men watched their daughter tugging him away.

Puck felt like he was barely conscious as he took the water and pills Rachel handed him and tossed them back. Her little hands were tugging at his clothes and he started doing the same to her, pressing kisses to whatever skin he could reach even though he had no intention of sex. Finally all their clothes were off and she was pulling the bedding back and sliding under the covers, coaxing him into the bed with her. Puck felt everything in him just relax as his head hit the pillow and Rachel snuggled back to him, the two of them spooned together. "G'night Rache, love you angel," he mumbled, half asleep already. He heard her say it back and felt himself fall fully asleep even as he smiled.

Morning, waking up with Rachel in his arms was like nothing he'd ever experienced, he woke up with her body pressed to his, his cock throbbing and Rachel practically under him. Puck groaned and tried to ease away but Rachel wasn't having any of it, clinging to him as if he was a lifeline. It was nice in a 'my cock's gonna explode out of frustration' kind of way and Rachel certainly felt good. Puck grinned, humor hitting him suddenly. The first time he'd ever just slept with a girl and he was trying to leave the bed without waking her up. He must be the biggest idiot in Lima.

Puck rolled slightly so Rachel was beneath him and began to kiss her face and neck, working his way down to her breasts and listening to her breathing change from deep slow breaths to hot sharp pants and gasps as pleasure seeped into her dreams. He'd never done anything so erotic, woken the girl he adored from sleep by making love to her until passion broke through her dreams. Her body was trembling under his, and Puck grinned as he worked his way down to her pussy. She still had the same scent to her, sweet like the fruit juice she was always drinking and Puck couldn't help groaning as her thighs fell apart for him, opening for his mouth to lick and suck and tease her sensitive parts.

"Noooah…" Rachel moaned above him and he looked up to see her eyes finally open. "Baby…please… don't wait…don't wait," She tugged at his shoulders trying to pull him up over her again and Puck shook his head against her, sucking hard on her clit until she uttered a long guttural moan of his name, her body shuddering as she came under his mouth.

Puck groaned and positioned himself over her, meeting her eyes and shocked all over again at how obvious it was that she loved him, wanted him, and pushed inside her in one thrust. Her arms wrapped around his chest and her ankles locked around his waist as his lips found her mouth and began to kiss her. She was still fluttering around him, her body tight and wet gripping his cock as he began to move. "God Rache, fuck me, you feel so good angel," He groaned into her mouth. "I ain't gonna last gorgeous…you're too good…" He felt her body wind tight and hot around his as he increased his pace, unable to stop himself, trying not to lose his mind completely and pound into her but she felt so good, so wet and slick, clutching at him.

Puck shuddered and groaned, he was too close too fast and he was never going to last unless he did something. Snaking a hand down to her clit he squeezed the sensitive little nub and tugged at it, sending spasms through her body that he felt around his cock. "Come for me Rache," He gasped into her mouth, "Please baby, come around my cock," He groaned as she shuddered, her body grinding onto his with a low moan of need. That was all it took for him, Puck couldn't think, he could only feel her, soft and tight and wet beneath him and around him and he knew he was fucking her too hard, too fast, but he couldn't stop, couldn't slow down until she was screaming into his mouth and he was almost shouting as his balls drew up and he came so hard it felt like he blacked out.

When he came to himself she was panting under him and he was still shuddering with sensation, Rachel was stroking his back with her delicate little fingers, sweet and warm under him, murmuring endearments and pressing little kisses to his shoulder and neck. Puck groaned and rolled so she was on top of him instead of the other way around. "I gotta little rough there at the end," He managed to say. "You okay Rache?" He blinked until his gaze cleared and looked at her gorgeous face. She didn't seem pissed off or traumatized…maybe he hadn't been too bad.

"Noah when are you going to learn that if you can dish it out I can take it?" Rachel smiled at him and kissed his nose. "You've never done anything I haven't loved." She shifted and pulled back, "I'd better get on the elliptical though or I never will." She grinned at him, "You're welcome to do your pushups and pull ups on my equipment."

Puck grinned, Rachel had found out he used weight resistance training to keep in shape when he didn't have access to the school gym. It wasn't a perfect system but it worked well enough on the weekends and the few weeks of the summer the school weight room was closed. He watched as she pulled on an athletic bra and a pair of workout shorts and pulled on his shorts from the day before. He'd put a spare pair in his workout bag but they were for after he'd showered. Then Rachel was running on her machine like she was training for a marathon and he was busy working up a sweat.

She was cute when she got all sweaty, Puck decided with a grin. She still had bed head and he'd given her a tiny hickey on her shoulder at some point but she looked fucking gorgeous. When they'd finally finished their workout they were both panting. Rachel grinned at him and when she got down from the machine hooked a finger in the waistband of his shorts and pulled him with her to the shower. It wasn't absolutely huge but it was bigger than Puck was used to and showering with Rachel was a whole new experience.

Puck dug out his clean clothes and had managed to pull on his shorts so he was decent when Hiram knocked on Rachel's door. Rache was still in the bathroom, taking care of a few private things which she'd said flatly he really didn't want to know about just yet. Puck had considered the conversation they'd had last night and nodded, picking up everything they'd scattered around the room and making the bed. "Hey Mr. Stein," Puck opened the door, "Rachel's in the bathroom," He explained her absence. "I'm just cleanin' up a bit."

"Well I brought a couple of shirts that LeRoy doesn't fit into anymore," Hiram kept his voice low, "He says they're not his style but its really that they're a bit too tight in the waist." The older Jewish male gave Noah a wink. "So keep that between us," He handed Puck a short stack of clothing. "There are some khakis in there too and a pair of dress pants that'll look good on you but they do not flatter my sugarpie." Hiram declared with a shake of his head. "You'd think a gay man would have a better sense of style but he's… so conservative that when he tries to be wild it's just… disturbed."

Puck couldn't help grinning, "Thanks Mr. Stein," He shook his head. "I'll keep that to myself too."

"Wise man," Hiram nodded and grinned. "LeRoy is working on breakfast and I think there are signs of life from the living room so you may want to tell Babystar to shake her tail."

"Yeah, we'll hustle," Puck nodded with a grin as Hiram closed the door. "Hey gorgeous your dad says people are wakin' up so we gotta hurry if we wanna eat before we go see the cops." Rachel came out of the bathroom and nodded distractedly, Puck didn't like how pale she looked. "You okay? You don't look…" He paused recalling that telling any chick she looked lousy usually got him both smacked and cut off. "Uh…you tired?" He backtracked hastily.

"You remember what we talked about last night?" Rachel's smile was tight and controlled.

"Uh huh," Puck nodded as he pulled on the khakis Hiram had brought him, "Started huh?" He looked at her hand held to her flat little belly and tilted his head. "Hurts?"

"Its just… this…beforehand crap," Rachel groaned slightly. "It used to be worse, the Pill actually helps…but…" She shook her head. "I need to just get in some clothes and that'll help…pressure like my jeans actually helps some."

"Huh," Puck frowned as he continued to get dressed, unfolding the shirts and grinning over them. Hiram had raided LeRoy's polos. He'd also included a plain dark brown tee shirt. "You want me to not touch until you're feeling better angel?" He really didn't care for that idea but if that was what she wanted, "Can make myself scarce if I bug you too much."

"Noah don't say that," Rachel shook her head. "In spite of everything else that's been going on, being with you makes me so happy. I loved this morning, waking up with you and making love...I wish we could be like that every day."

"Yeah me too," Puck admitted giving her a shy grin. "Just don't wanna bug you if kissin' and me touchin' is gonna make you uncomfortable, since the first few days aren't any fun." He shrugged and busied himself with putting on his socks and shoes. "Beyond my mom, Lauren and Santana, don't got a lot of experience with girls and their…monthly issues except knowin' not to bug 'em. Nobody ever wanted me around for that. Wasn't exactly known for being supportive."

"I don't expect you to stop touching me baby," Rachel was pulling on a pair of jeans and wincing as she buttoned them. A loose babydoll top in green and she was braiding her hair in some complicated thing down the back of her head that made his eyes bug out. "You make me feel good when you touch me." She opened a drawer and began to stroke blush onto her cheeks as he watched in fascination. "Noah," Dark eyes met his in the mirror, confusion in her expression. "You're staring…am I being weird?" She looked down at herself as if she'd dropped something down her front.

"No," Puck wasn't sure he could explain it, no girl had ever felt comfortable enough with him to just put her make up on like it wasn't any big deal. But Rachel had simply opened her drawer and started her morning routine, talking to him as she did. "I've just never gotten to do this Rache, nobody ever…" He shrugged, "Most girls…don't want me around in the morning you know? They ain't ever just slept with me, an' let me hold 'em at night." He looked at her and he could see in the mirror his expression was raw, "My dad told me when I was ten and most of my life before that I was garbage, I guess I'm just used to people treating me like that. So when you…" He took a deep shuddering breath. "You just…want me to be in your life and that's…"

Rachel rose from her little stool and moved to stand in front of him, wincing a little bit as she moved but she sat in his lap and wound her legs around his waist, "Noah I want you in my life. I love you. You're the best man I know. Dad and Daddy love you because of how happy I am since we've been friends and now that we're dating I'm even happier…" She kissed him gently on the lips. "All those other girls were stupid if they couldn't see what an amazing man you are."

Puck smiled slightly and took a deep breath, "Well I might not have been quite so improved as I am now," He reminded her. "Maybe I'm better with you than I was with them." He kissed her nose. "Better finish your face angel if there's anything else you want to mess with. Your dad said they were working on breakfast."

"Just my eyes really quick," Rachel was as good as her word, stroking tawny shadow over her lids, a little brush over her eyebrows and something dark outlining underneath her eyes. Two seconds to slip on a pair of battered keds and she was grabbing his hand and kissing him. "I'm starved."

"Can you eat chocolate gorgeous?" Puck wondered as they trotted down the stairs. Sure enough as they entered the living room people were groaning and stirring in their sleep. Puck saw Artie looking around for his chair dazedly and detoured to give his friend a hand. Mornings were the worst for Artie, he'd said getting into his chair when he was half asleep was the biggest pain in the ass. Puck grinned as he scooped the smaller boy up and set him in the wheelchair, "Hurry up in the toilet man, Mr. Berry and Mr. Stein are workin' on food."

The kitchen was filled with good smells and chatter, apparently Lauren and LeRoy were bonding over a mutual love of bacon. Karofsky wandered in and smiled when he was handed a breakfast burrito and a mug of milk. Rachel was pulling out fruit and talking about a nice fruit salad and directed him over to Hiram who was making eggs and hash browns. Pretty soon the kitchen, adjacent dining room and living room were filled with people eating and chattering. Puck saw Rachel and Santana giggling together and Santana nodding in sympathy. Mercedes joined the two of them and said something that made Rachel dart a look at him and then grin happily. When everyone had eaten LeRoy and Hiram held up the jar that had all the car keys, "Okay everybody, we're glad you all had a good time. And you're all welcome back on one condition," Hiram held up the jar.

"Before you take your keys," LeRoy continued, "All we ask is that whatever bedding you used fold up and put it on the couch. And if you see some trash put it in the can by the door. Clean up will go a lot faster. We appreciate it because there was some trouble after you all were asleep and we need to go down to the station before noon today."

"Shit," Karofsky groaned, "That idiot came back didn't he." He stood and started to fold up the blanket Rachel had draped over him in the night. The rest of the kids began to follow suit everyone talking as they did.

"He did," Kurt confirmed, "Which is why Puck has some lovely new bruises and Rachel's wearing long sleeves today."

Santana looked accusingly at Rachel who blushed and pulled back her sleeve to show the Finn hand shaped bruise wrapping around her wrist and forearm. "I'm going to cut the cojones off that pendejo," the Latina girl threatened.

"Please don't San," Puck shook his head tiredly. "We dunno what's gonna happen but lets just let it all blow over if we can? Rache an' me, we got enough crap goin' on."

"Word," Artie nodded and began to gather trash up.

Puck blinked in amazement as the house was cleaned slowly but surely, and still a helluva lot quicker than they could have done by themselves. One by one people claimed their keys and thanked Rachel and her dads for the great time. By the time the house was empty Puck was shaking his head in shock. "That has to be the smoothest cleanup for a party has ever gone." He grinned.

"Well then at least one thing has gone right this morning," Hiram smiled slightly.

"Two things," LeRoy corrected him with an affectionate kiss on the cheek.

"Three," Puck couldn't help saying as he hugged Rachel.

Hiram sputtered out a laugh and LeRoy shook his head. "On that cheerful note, lets go talk to the police."

Puck had never thought he would end up knowing so much about Ohio laws regarding juveniles. But his own experience with Juvie had led him to a lot of internet searching about his options. Now they were simply waiting for the cop who'd taken Finn away last night. "I was thinkin' Mr. Berry...I've only got another month before I'm off probation... do you think I'd qualify to get my record sealed and expunged?"

LeRoy looked at him thoughtfully, "Well you have done very well since being released, completing your community service, staying out of trouble. The trouble you've been in hasn't been through any fault of your own. I think we could make a good case for it with the judge. You haven't been criminally violent which is something they watch for." Dark eyes flicked over Puck where he was sitting with Rachel, his arm around the slender girl protectively. "I imagine you're concerned about colleges learning about your past when you apply for scholarships."

"Yeah," Puck nodded. "Plus...even if I'm payin' my way, a clean slate can only help. I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed, I'mma need all the help I can get."

"Noah you're very intelligent," Rachel's voice was sharp and she winced giving him an apologetic look. "You don't see me talking about taking trigonometry with Artie do you?"

"Yeah an' I ain't taking advanced English Lit this year," Puck grinned at her. "How's your stomach baby? Want some chocolate?" From what she'd said the day before was the worst. If he couldn't hug on her he could at least get her chocolate, especially considering how awesome showering with her had been.

"Please, if you can find anything...or hot tea, sometimes that helps," She winced again and offered a wan smile.

Puck wondered if this was the definition of whipped as he kissed her hair and hopped up in search of the vending machines. By the time he got back with a cup of hot chocolate and a candy bar the cops were talking to Rachel and her dads.

"So he's spent the night in lockup," One of the uniforms was telling LeRoy and Hiram as Puck handed Rachel the hot chocolate. "We contacted his parents, and they're on their way over." The cop looked at Puck and winced at the sight of his face, "Don't usually see you for this sorta thing Puckerman," He commented. "Chivalry ain't dead I guess."

"Shit," Puck opened the candy bar and gave it to Rachel. "I been tryin' to stay outa trouble ya know? Rache an' my buds from Glee been helpin' me study. Wanted to get my act together," He shrugged. "I know what its like to be pissed at the world and want to...I dunno." He looked at Rachel and her dads, "Part of me just wants Finn to get some help. I don't want him in jail anymore than I did a month ago. But he's gotta learn, just like I had to, that he can't just...go off like this and there won't be consequences."

The cops were looking at him as if he'd started spouting Chinese but in a good way and Rachel's dads nodded their understanding. "Sounds like you're actually..." The cop shook his head and continued, "Never thought I'd say this Puckerman but you're acting like you want to be the better man here."

"Who'd a thought right?" Puck grinned and winced as his cut lip broke open again. Rachel made a small sound of pain and produced a tissue and a tube of something.

"God baby, your poor face," She winced as she dabbed what turned out to be Neosporin on the cut after wiping away the fresh blood. Her dark eyes went from his face to the cops and she frowned, "Noah is being very adult about this but I'm prepared to become a total bitch if it means Finn has to have some punishment for what he's done. It's all very well to say we don't want him in actual jail, but Noah said that about the assault charges before and Finn hasn't even..." She broke off as Finn's parents entered the bullpen and pressed her lips together.

There was a lot of talking for a moment, Mr. and Mrs. Hummel apologizing for Finn to both he and Rachel and Rachel's dads and talking to the cops until Puck finally spoke into a lull in the chatter, "Mr. and Mrs. Hummel, Finn and I were friends for a long time. I ain't forgotten that even if he has," He said taking a deep breath. "And if he was just kicking the crap outa me we wouldn't even be here. God knows I deserve an ass-kicking for some of my shit. And Finn's about the only guy who could give it to me."

"Noah-" Rachel started to protest and he put a finger on her lips to hush her.

"Angel, lemme talk for a second, I ain't done," He gave her a lopsided smile and took her hand, raising her arm to show the Hummel's what Finn had done. "Like I said if it were just me, we wouldn't be here. But it ain't just me anymore," He pulled Rachel's sleeve down revealing the ugly black and blue bruise the size and shape of Finn's big hand wrapping around Rachel's wrist and forearm. "In the past two days he's called Rachel a slut and a whore, in front of Glee club and then in front of an entire party, just because she and I..." He shook his head, "It was bad enough when he put me into a coma and scared Rache and my mom to death. Neither of them deserved that." He kept hold of Rachel's hand and tugged her sleeve back down, "But he's getting worse, he's put hands on Rachel now, he was trying to drag her out of the garage and I don't want to think about what he mighta done if he'd gotten her alone."

"He wouldn't-" Mrs. Hummel tried to interject.

"No offense Mrs. Hummel, you've always been nice to me, even when you didn't like me much," Puck interrupted her flatly. "But you don't know what he would or wouldn't do. I've never seen Finn like this. I woulda thought he was drunk last night but he ain't ever been mean when he's had a beer. I don't know what he'll do but I don't want to find out at the expense of Rachel's safety." He looked at Kurt's dad, "Kurt is worried. He shouldn't have to be. Rachel shouldn't have to worry either. None of us should." He shook his head, "I'm beyond pissed at Finn for all this shit. I don't want to wreck his life, but somethin's gotta be done that he gets in his head that we aren't gonna take this. He can't keep doin' this." Puck looked at LeRoy pleadingly and the lawyer nodded.

"Mr. and Mrs. Hummel, the facts of the matter are that Finn already has charges for assault and battery charges pending against him in one county," LeRoy said quietly. "If Rachel and Noah chose, it could be two counties and the chances of Finn's record every being expunged would drop exponentially. The first attack on Noah bordered on aggravated assault. Compounding it with a second attack on my daughter and Noah cannot help."

"We're supposed to be in court this week about Finn's case," Puck realized, "Shit these bruises are still gonna be around when I'm in front of a judge?"

"And that won't help Finn's case either," LeRoy reminded the Hummels. "So I suggest we all work together to get Finn the help he so obviously needs." He looked at Bert Hummel, "Quite frankly, Mrs. Puckerman is being very reasonable about restitution. All she asked was for help with the hospital bills. She could have sued and ended up with your home or your business."

"Ma wouldn't do that," Puck shook his head, "She likes Kurt too much." He sighed slightly. "So what are the options?" He looked at the cops, "'Cause I know you guys got rules about once charges are pressed there ain't any goin' back 'til the DA decides whether or not its worth pursuing." When the blonde cop looked surprised, "Hey man I've been in trouble since I was born, I did learn somethin' from all the time I spent getting lectured."

Rachel giggled suddenly leaning against him, "Leave it to you Noah."

"Ma says it's an ill wind that blows nobody some good," Puck shrugged. "So now that I've talked way more'n I ever wanted to, what are we gonna do?"

"Stick him in anger management classes for one," Hiram said quietly. "They seemed to help Noah."

"Yeah," Puck nodded. "Them, and bein' scared shitless in Juvie...that ain't for the weak." He shook his head and looked at the cops. "Is there a way we can bring at home to him, just how much trouble he's in without actually...I dunno...getting him in so much trouble that the rest of his life is screwed?" Puck sighed, "He's already lost the quarterback position, I mean, right now he can play but if he ends up in Juvie that's done. And he's missed all the spring training so far."

"Maybe basketball?" Rachel suggested timidly, "Or baseball in the spring?"

"Baseball would certainly teach him some control," Bert Hummel sounded grim as if he were recalling a few of Finn's outbursts when the bigger boy and Kurt weren't getting along so well. "I love the kid but he does need to wake up sweetheart," He said to his wife."

"Right now you just need to decide if you're pressing charges," The cop explained quietly. "You can drop 'em later, sometimes with conditions, but we can't hold him without charging him forever."

"My first instinct is to press charges and get in front of a judge and the DA to bargain over what to do," LeRoy said promptly. "If we don't press charges there isn't any leverage to make Finn learn his lesson." He looked at Puck and then at the Hummels, "I'm sorry to say it but the fact that he could go to jail for what he did a month ago hasn't really sunk in."

"Rachel," Mrs. Hummel looked at the petite girl, "You love him, you can't tell me you want him in jail." She pleaded.

"Mrs. Hummel," Rachel's voice was slow and thoughtful, "I...I won't lie to you. I'm furious with him. And I did love him, very much." She looked down and then met the older woman's eyes with steel in her own gaze. "I'll always care about him. But that doesn't mean I have to tolerate abuse." She looked at Puck and her lower lip trembled for a moment. Puck could tell she was thinking again about that forty minute ambulance ride, how they'd barely had a few hours of happiness before it had been replaced by fear. "Imagine if Mr. Hummel had just told you he loved you. And you were so happy. Your best friend wanted to be with you," She smiled slightly remembering, and then her face changed, her lips grew taut and her voice tightened. "But before you could even really absorb the idea, when it was still new and wonderful, someone hurt him. Hurt him so badly you thought he'd die before you ever got to even start your life together."

Puck couldn't help it, he wrapped his arms around Rachel and kissed the top of her hair, "I'm all right angel, I'm right here. I'm fine. I'm beat up but I'm fine." He did his best to reassure her.

"And that's the problem," Rachel looked at Mrs. Hummel from the safety of Puck's arms visibly drawing strength from his embrace. "I shouldn't have to be afraid. Finn doesn't own me. He doesn't even really love me, he's obsessed and he thinks he does but he doesn't. He couldn't or he wouldn't hurt Noah so much." She took a deep breath, "Noah's loved me...for a long time and he never did anything about it but be my friend because he was loyal to Finn. And he wanted me to be happy so he kept it to himself because I loved Finn." She shook her head, "Finn's always been so proud of what a good person he is, how he doesn't go around hurting people. But now?"

"He's hurting people," Mrs. Hummel had tears in her voice and Puck honestly felt bad for the woman, god knew he'd put his own mom through enough shit.

"He's hurtin' you too Mrs. Hummel," Puck offered quietly. "I hurt my ma when I pulled all that stupid outa my ass last year. Been tryin' ever since to be different," He looked down at Rachel and smoothed her hair with his hand. "You don't deserve to go through this anymore than my mom, or Rachel or her dads or Mr. Hummel even." He shrugged uncomfortably, "Finn's mad and he's...hurtin' everybody around him. We gotta make him see what he's doin' or he ain't ever gonna stop. Wake up call's the only way we're ever gonna get through."

"And after he's finished paying for what he's done?" Mrs. Hummel asked brokenly, "What will happen to him then?"

"He'll still have Glee club, Mr. Schue and school," Puck looked at Rachel and she nodded her agreement, "We ain't ever wanted to cut him out of our lives. He's kinda been doin' that on his own."

"All right," Mrs. Hummel nodded. "I'm so very sorry for everything he's done."

Puck shrugged, very uncomfortable now, "Yeah well I don't figure you're to blame any more than my mom is to blame for me." He sent a hard look at the cops knowing some of the shit his mom had taken over his own crap.

Author's Note: I know everyone wants Finn out of this story and we'll see him for a little bit longer and then... well lets just say that even Juvenile Court isn't anything to mess around with as Puck found out Junior year.

As you can see though, this isn't going to be easy on Finn. I hope all of you enjoyed this and you'll let me know if you have any questions or concerns, I'll try to answer as much as I can.

On a purely technical writing note, as I was going over this it felt a little disjointed to me. It's longer but...I don't know does it flow all right to you guys? Its been a crazy week and I'm not sure if I'm just spacy or if there's an actual problem. Let me know what you think.