Summary: The continued journey of Rachel Berry, Noah Puckerman and their New Directions family as they handle new gleeks, old friendships, surprise siblings, love, a second run at Nationals and senior year. The sequel to Living for the First Time.
Pairings: Puckleberry, Bartie, Chang-squared, Samtana, Finncedes, hints of Seblaine, and one-sided Klaine. Puck/Rachel/Santana/Sam, Blamman, Faberrirtana, Puckerwilde, St. Puck friendships.
Warnings: Caution, this fic may contain crude language and discussion of sexual activities. In other words, I have a potty mouth and watch way too many cable television shows! There may be spoilers for season three but I'm trying to avoid seeming anything like that season. So yeah….
Disclaimer: I don't own this show or anything related to this show.!
Author's Note: Hello all. It's been awhile since I updated this one. This chapter has been written and taken apart so many times. I just decided to publish it and see what happens. So I hope you all enjoy. Ciao for now!
Rachel Berry strived to be good bordering on excellent in all aspects of her life. She clearly excelled when it came to singing, academics and leadership. But the one area that she strived to achieve perfection was kissing. And everyone knew the way to achieve perfection was practice. She could practice that particular art with this particular boy all day. Maybe that's what she would ask for on Hanukah: a day she could spend kissing her boyfriend senseless. Maybe she would just start now.
She smiled against the lips that were thoroughly ravishing her at the moment. There was a warm body pinning her to the bed. Her legs were raised, cradling his hips and helping to create much needed friction. Yeah, she could definitely do this all day, every day. But apparently he could not as Puck pulled away. He shifted his weight off of her and flopped down beside her. She pushed herself up on her elbows, glaring down at him.
"Why'd you stop?"
Puck smirked with his kiss swollen lips and disheveled hair. Damn, did he have to make everything look so sexy? He pulled her hand into his, threading their fingers together.
"I stopped because things were getting a little heated, babe."
"And that was bad because…..? It's hardly the first time we've gotten 'a little heated'. I thought you liked it hot."
Puck swallowed. "Yes, I do. Normally. But this is first time that your so called sister was eavesdropping on us."
Rachel was confused for all of a second before she heard an exasperated sigh and then the frustrated footsteps of one Santana Lopez coming from the next room. She stood in the doorway, eyes narrowed and focused on Puck. "How the hell did you know?"
"Oh come on, San. Who knows you better than me?"
Santana pursed her lips together as she clearly thought that one through. Rachel rolled her eyes at the futile pursuit. Brittany and Puck might share a brain but Santana was adept at reading them both and vice versa. It actually made an odd sort of sense. Maybe they knew each other so well because of some sort of sexual osmosis…. Yeah, she definitely had sex on the brain.
"What do you want and how soon can you go?"
"I don't like this influence you have on my sister, Puckerman," Santana said with a smirk. "She's all about your hot bod."
"I can't help it that I'm a stud."
"Why do I associate with either one of you?"
"Lack of options?"
"Because we're awesome?"
Santana and Puck exchanged looks briefly before shrugging. "Both?"
Rachel rolled her eyes and scooted over so that she was resting against Puck's chest, giving Santana space on the bed. She flopped down on Rachel's free side with a giggle that Rachel found herself echoing.
"So what did you want anyway?"
"We have a problem, midget," Santana said. "I was filling out my NYU applications and it was asking about extracurricular activities. All the books and people I've talked to about college says that extracurricular activities are very important. It makes us looked well rounded and shit."
"Okay, that is an entirely valid point," Rachel said, sitting up. "We have New Directions, isn't that extracurricular enough?"
"Yeah, I guess. But that's all we have. I read that some people have several activities under their belt. We've only got the one."
"At least you had the Cheerios," Rachel pointed out, frowning slightly. Santana arched an eyebrow.
"Yeah, you really think Coach is going to let me claim that after the way things ended? No, I kissed that goodbye the minute I threw my uniform in her face."
Puck snorted. "Why did I miss all the good stuff? Stupid coma."
Rachel gave her boyfriend a fond look before turning her attention back to the issue at hand. She really hadn't given much thought to extracurricular activities. But Santana was right. Sheer talent alone wasn't going to get her into NYADA. She needed to be more balanced. She needed something more than just glee club.
"How about student government?" Puck suggested. Both Santana and Rachel exchanged glances before looking down at him. He smirked lazily. "I'm just saying. That would be one hell of an extracurricular."
"Yeah, no thanks," Rachel said, shaking her head. "It would be amazing to be part of the student government. But everyone knows that Brett Richards and Robert Andrews run that whole show. They don't even care about the school. They just care about beating each other and saying they were in power. They've been alternating class president and vice president since we started high school. No one even bothers to run against them for that very same reason."
Puck chewed on his lip in thought. Rachel watched as the familiar spark flashed across his eyes. It was the spark that promised pain and humiliation for anyone that wasn't Noah Puckerman or the people he cared about. Last time she checked, neither Brett nor Robert ranked on the list of people he cared about. She was pretty certain that they were on the opposite list given the history of bad blood between them. That spark in his eyes did not imply that good things were coming. Oh dear.
"I gotta go, babe," he announced, already easing himself off the bed. He pressed a soft, lingering kiss against her lips before pecking Santana on the forehead and running out the room. The two girls sighed, lying in silence for a few minutes.
"You know he's on his way to Britt, right?"
"Uh huh," Rachel replied, absently.
"You do know that no good could come of this, right?"
"Twenty dollars says that Brett and Robert are dead by tomorrow."
"Forty bucks says that if they're not, they're going to wish they were by the end of this chapter," Santana paused, tilting her head to the side. "Huh, now I see why they love that fourth wall bit so much. It's kind of fun."
Rachel shook her head. And these were the idiots she willingly called friends.
Sebastian Smyth was a bit of an anomaly for Jesse St. James. He thought he had the kid all figured out when the now former Warbler first met the New Directions at the junior prom. Sebastian was cocky, arrogant, and oozed a smug sort of charm with every breath he took. With his handsome features, ridiculously perfect hair and the false confident kind of charisma that only the well to do is taught, he was like a Disney prince gone terribly wrong. Jesse hated him the minute he saw him. Then something happened over the summer. He never bothered to ask Blaine what it was that he learned from Sebastian. If it was something they needed to know, then they would. So Jesse was content to let that information stay between the two younger teens (and most likely Brittany and Puck because they knew everything!). But whatever happened shook the normally cocky kid. And then someone beat him so badly he was hospitalized the night of Sectionals. Whatever personality change started following the events of the summer was finished with that vicious assault. What they had left was the complete opposite of the Sebastian they met during junior prom. Jesse was trying to figure out what they were supposed to do about that… if they were supposed to do anything period.
He crossed his arms over his chest watching as Sebastian let his long fingers dance over the piano keys lightly. Though he was bold enough to sit at Brad's beloved piano, he wasn't stupid enough to try playing. The resident piano player was more than a little touchy about his instrument. He usually wanted them to stay away from the piano entirely. However, the man wasn't around. It was only the middle of the day. Brad didn't usually show up until right before glee practice. He claimed that the less time he spent around the hyper teens the better. Jesse envied his position. It made it possible to remain detached. To not wonder why the newest addition to herd was hiding out in the choir room instead of spending time with the other idiots who were inevitably commandeering one of the bigger tables in the cafeteria now that it was too cold to eat out in the courtyard.
Jesse sighed. He wasn't going to get any answers by sitting here and watching. So keeping in mind that he was now the unofficial older brother to the majority of New Directions, Jesse cleared his throat, wincing slightly as Sebastian flinched. He jumped to his feet, legs tangling with the piano bench even as he whirled around to face Jesse. He looked like a startled deer in that moment. A startled baby deer. With trembling limbs and wide green eyes that clearly anticipated something more. Jesse watched as his gaze flickered to the door more than once as if he was deciding whether or not to run. 'Damn' Jesse thought, running a hand through his hair absently. 'Kid is more messed up than I thought.'
"Hey, hey, hey, it's okay," Jesse said, holding his hands out in front of him and walking into the room slowly. "It's just me. It's going to be okay, Sebastian. Relax."
He watched as Sebastian visibly fought to regain control of his emotions in the moment. It was a fascinating process to watch someone actually build emotional walls. Too bad Jesse was way too familiar with the whole trying to pretend you don't care to protect yourself from hurting thing. Too bad he already knew that this kid cared. He shook his head and laughed internally. How the hell did he get this attached to these emotionally damaged weirdoes?
"What did you want?" Sebastian asked, his voice steady and betraying none of the fear that Jesse clearly saw on his face earlier.
"I want to know why you're here and not with the rest of the morons being obnoxiously annoying in the cafeteria."
Sebastian shrugged, letting his fingers trail over the smooth top of the piano. "Just didn't feel like being social today."
"Today or yesterday or any day since you started school here a little over two weeks ago," Jesse countered. Sebastian tensed, staring at the piano like it could give him the answers to the universe. Jesse sighed. "Please tell me we don't need to hug this out or something. Can't you just tell me what's going on in that head of yours so I can get you out of this room and be done with you all?"
Sebastian arched an eyebrow. "You're not really good at this whole pep talk thing. You do know that, right?"
"I know! I keep telling you people that. This is not my forte. I'm just supposed to stand around and tell you all that you suck. But then you guys want to go and have emotional problems and apparently I'm the only observant one around. So I'm stuck trying to convince you that it does get better when I'm clearly living proof that it, in fact, does not get better!"
Sebastian's eyes grew wider as Jesse's rant continued. For a moment, a tense silence hung over the pair as Jesse kicked himself mentally for unleashing on the very kid he was trying to get to open up. He took it back barely a second later when he heard Sebastian snicker. Jesse's eyes narrowed as Sebastian slapped a hand over his mouth to keep the burgeoning giggles at bay. But his was a losing battle as he was soon doubled over, laughing with the careless abandon he never allowed himself to show. Jesse felt his own lips twitch at the sight. He never realized how much Sebastian held back with everyone until this moment. He never knew just how high those walls went until his rant sent them crumbling down… at least for a little while.
"Are you quite done with your mockery?" Jesse asked, only slightly annoyed. Sebastian nodded his head even as he tried to reel back the urge to laugh. "So before you slam up those walls and close us all out again, you want to answer my question?"
Sebastian sobered quickly but Jesse could tell that the walls were still down. Progress. "I just... I still don't really get why."
"Oh, trust me, kid," Jesse shook his head ruefully. "It's been going on three years for me now and I still don't get them. I'm sure one of them has told you how I got involved with this freak show. I've made a lot of mistakes with them. A lot. But they're some strangely loyal weirdoes. Hell, Hudson came dangerously close to actually murdering Puck and he forgave him pretty much immediately after waking up from a coma. I don't get it but I won't deny that it feels kind of good to have them in your corner." Sebastian swallowed, eyes downcast. "You do know they're in your corner, right?"
"Some of them," Sebastian mumbled. "Not all."
So the new kid was also observant. While they all seemed accepting of Sebastian being a part of New Directions, there was some almost visible tension that existed within some members almost as if they were waiting for him to slip up or reveal that this was all a trick. Like they were waiting for him to be another Jesse. Admittedly Jesse thought that was the case when Sebastian first started hanging around Blaine like a lost puppy. But he couldn't sense any deception in the new addition. Either Sebastian was that good or… he was innocent. Jesse had long ago taken a deep dive into the cynical pool and being surrounded by the do-gooders in New Directions wasn't changing that. But damned if he didn't really want to believe that Sebastian was being genuine. The kid really seemed like he honestly wanted to be part of this mixed up, hodgepodge family that they created.
"Give them time," Jesse finally settled for saying. "They've come by their trust issues the good old fashioned way. It's going to take some time for them all to come around and completely accept you but I have no doubt that they will. Besides you definitely have Puck and Brittany on your side. None of them are crazy enough to go up against those two."
Sebastian cracked a small smile. "They are very determined."
"I can't wait until you finally stop being so scared that they're going to bounce you out and get comfortable. The term you're looking for here is crazy. Those two are crazy. Actually crazy isn't even quite accurate enough. Let's just all be happy that they don't have any political ideation. Because we'd all be screwed."
Almost as if on cue, the door to the choir room crashed open causing both young men to jump. Jesse surprised both himself and Sebastian by shifting the younger teen so that he was slightly behind him. He didn't know what it was about the kid and his bambi eyes but he kind of felt protective of him. Even in a school where he had no actual enemies… just idiot friends.
"What the hell are you two doing now?" he snapped, shoulders slumping in relief at the intruders just being Brittany and Puck and not one of the many meathead jocks in the school. New Directions' resident evil masterminds looked hesitantly between Jesse and Sebastian as if trying to understand the situation before pushing it all to the side.
"We were looking for you," Puck answered Jesse's question, though his gaze was locked on Sebastian. He raised an eyebrow, jutting his chin in the younger teen's direction. "What are you doing in here? Why are you not at lunch?"
"Wasn't hungry," Sebastian replied, almost petulantly. Puck really did have this big brother thing down well. Jesse found himself taking notes.
Brittany narrowed her eyes, crossing her arms over chest as she picked up on her partner in crimes' thought. "You're lying. I don't know why but you're lying. We will figure it out but for right now, Jesse, we need your help. And since you're here, you're helping too, Sebastian."
"What exactly are we helping with?" Sebastian asked, warily.
"And how many countries would consider it illegal?" Jesse asked knowingly.
"Probably less than three," Puck shrugged. "We need help taking down Brett Richards and Robert Andrews."
"Who the hell are they?! And what exactly do you mean by take them down?"
"The class president and vice president for the past three years," Sebastian answered, absently. "They literally only win because no one ever runs against them. Mostly because they tend to fight dirty. Also I don't think they're going to murder them or anything like that if that's what you're worried about. They said it was illegal in less than three. Pretty sure murder is illegal in mostly all the countries."
Jesse noticed that while they may have been initially surprised by Sebastian's total read of the situation, Puck and Brittany were nonetheless impressed. So he settled for being surprised for them. "Why do you know all that? How do you know all that?"
Sebastian flushed. "Uh, I hear things? It's just that a lot of people haven't really gotten to know me yet. So they just kind of talk around me and I listen. Elections seemed to be getting everyone talking."
Brittany clapped her hands together while Puck smiled proudly. "What exactly are they saying about our two candidates?"
"Oh, well, people mostly feel like Brett is a douchebag. Specifically they feel that he's an ultra-conservative douchebag that looks down on anyone that doesn't fit the typical 'family values' idea that he has in his head. He's also anti-gay which is ironic given what he does on the weekends."
"And that is?"
"Hangs out at Scandals," Sebastian grinned. "He's not the most discrete guy either. He flaunts his hookups there. He's hit on me a few times but he's definitely not my type." The pair exchanged glances. Matching smirks formed on their lips.
"What about Robert?"
"He's a little more likeable. Only slightly because he's not pushing his conservative values down your throat. But he's also a firm believer that feminism is pretty much the worst thing ever. He has a tendency to look down on women. So if you were really trying to take him down, you should aim for the dissatisfied female students. That's pretty much all of them really."
Brittany and Puck exchanged proud glances and even Jesse couldn't help but give Sebastian an appreciative nod. That was truly impressive. He snorted. It figured that the one that transferred without direct manipulation from Puck and Brittany would be the one that would eventually equal them in terms of cunning. Jesse found that he was definitely looking forward to when Sebastian settled into life at McKinley. He was definitely going to be a force to be reckoned with one day. But first things first….
"Are you two seriously considering running for student body president just so you can destroy two idiots?"
"I think we just might do that," Puck replied with a grin that made Jesse say a quick prayer for Brett and Robert because they had no idea what was coming their way. "Extra-curricular activities are important, Jesse."
"Yeah, they make us look well rounded," Brittany chimed in. Her face was sporting a similar grin. Those two had to be related in a past life or something. Because the idea that these two just found each other was terrifying.
Debra Puckerman was the first to admit that her life did not turn out the way she initially imagined it when standing opposite from Elijah Puckerman and swearing to love him forever. It all started around her oldest child's birth. She knew that Noah secretly blamed himself for not being enough to keep his father around but Debra knew the truth. She knew it before she even gave birth to Noah. Elijah never wanted a family. He was never meant to be tied down. And he saw Noah as a commitment that he wasn't willing to keep. There were many things that Debra would regret in her life but losing herself in her work to ignore her failing marriage was the number one. Because while she was ignoring her failing love life, her son was blaming himself for everything and her daughter was depending on her brother to raise them both. And it took her son nearly dying for her to wake up and be the mother she swore she would be the day she held her son in her arms for the first time.
One of the most significant changes was acknowledging that no matter how painful it was for her, her children were not the only ones lost in the wake of Elijah's absence. No, that miserable bastard wasn't content to just ruin two children. He had to go out and make a third that he never even acknowledged outside of an occasional birthday card. It hurt Debra that her husband cheated on her but she was over it the minute she laid eyes on Jake for the very first time. It was hard to hate him when she saw her son reflected in Jake's eyes. After that first meeting, she knew that she couldn't keep them apart any longer. It wasn't right. It wasn't fair. And she was done breaking everyone's hearts because her douche ex-husband broke hers.
Though they struggled in the beginning, Debra was proud of her where they stood now. She didn't think of Jake as just her ex-husband's bastard child. She was starting to think of him as her own now. She lost track of the amount of times she referred to her sons and daughter when talking to her coworkers. She knew it was the same for Tanisha. Against all odds, the two women brought their children together into a family unit that worked for them. She knew that there were some people in their community that didn't understand how she let Tanisha and Jake into their home, let alone their lives, but they just worked. Tanisha was like the younger sister she never thought she needed and Jake slotted into the middle child role so seamlessly, she almost forgot that he didn't grow up with her children. He was the perfect counter balance between Sarah and Noah.
So while her life definitely wasn't where she thought it would be, she found that wasn't even upset about that anymore. It was impossible to be upset when she got to see her children smiling and happy every day. Even when they were arguing and tossing around glitter. She would question where the glitter even came from but she learned early with her children and all the kids associated with them that it was best to just not ask questions. So instead, she sat curled up on the living room sofa watching the chaos unfold.
She sipped her tea, listening to Tanisha finishing up dinner in the kitchen and watching the five teenagers sitting in the middle of the floor. Noah and Brittany had come bouncing in earlier that afternoon dragging the newest addition to the glee club (and their latest project it seemed) behind them. Jake followed at a more sedate pace but was no less amused. Sarah took one look at Sebastian and declared him to be her favorite member of New Directions based on looks alone. The boy seemed flustered yet amused. After homework, they settled down to work on their posters. Or at least they were supposed to be working. All it seemed to be was a lot of arguing with a surprisingly endless amount of glitter being thrown around. Honestly, when did they even get the time to buy that much glitter?!
"I still think it would look better with glitter."
"And for the last time I don't think it would look good with glitter at all. Glitter isn't exactly the definition of badass."
"Yeah, neither are unicorns and yet here we are."
"Bite your tongue, heathen. Unicorns are badass."
"Dude, you're my brother and so the law of life says that I'm at least halfway required to love you, but you're weird as hell."
"You're weird. What isn't badass about a unicorn?"
"They're just horses with a weird horn in the center of their head."
"The better to gouge your eyes out with."
"Noah! Unicorns are not bloodthirsty killers!"
"Tell that to Cabin in the Woods, Sarah. Jake, you saw it. You still going to say unicorns aren't badass?"
"Damn. I hate when you're right. Maybe they're a little badass."
"So is glitter."
"No, Britt. It really isn't."
"Uh, how about we compromise? Maybe put the glitter on the horn of the unicorn? It'll stand out more on the poster and it's still pretty, you know, badass."
Debra stifled a laugh as Sebastian's quiet suggestion somehow cut through the chaos that surrounded her children (and Brittany, who was as good as hers at this point). Four pairs of eyes were locked on the violently blushing teenager.
"Or not?" Sebastian suggested weakly.
"Oh, good. They're all still alive," Tanisha announced as she flopped down on the sofa beside Debra. "They got so quiet, I thought they died."
"Just their brains. A little. Or what was left of them."
"Hey!" Puck, Jake and Sarah protested in unison. Brittany settled for pouting. Sebastian flushed even more.
"You were arguing about glitter and unicorns and none of you are preteen girls," Tanisha countered. Sarah raised a hand but Tanisha shot her down. "Sarah, you're officially a teenager. I think the time for unicorns is over."
"Unicorns are eternal," Puck and Brittany muttered in nonsensical unison. Debra has mentioned how much she loved/hated these two hanging out more often, right?
"Brittany, do not encourage bad habits in anymore of my children. I gave you my oldest. He's forfeit now. But let me have some hope with the younger ones," Debra said, ignoring Puck's protests and Jake's shy smile of pride. She couldn't for the life of her understand how she ever thought anything negative about that kid.
"Anyway, dinner is almost ready. Sebastian, Brittany, are you staying for dinner?"
"I can't. Mom is starting Lord Tubbington's diet today. I need to get home to feed him scraps under the table."
"But doesn't that completely counteract the diet?" Sebastian asked, his brow wrinkling in confusion. Brittany stared blankly back at him. His brow furrowed deeper. Debra snorted. One day, the kid would learn not to question Brittany's logic. One day…..
"And you, Sebastian? You staying? You're more than welcome. We definitely make more than enough for everyone."
"I would love to," Sebastian replied, "but I'm actually supposed to be meeting my dad for dinner tonight. He's really taking this whole 'pay attention to my kid' thing seriously. He's even cooking. If it's anything like last week's disaster, it's best to start as early as possible so we can still have a shot at a decent takeout spot." He glanced at his phone. "He's on his way here now to pick me up. Brittany, you want a ride?"
"Not necessary," Brittany answered, packing her bag as she spoke. "I live next door."
"Wait, so the neighbor your cat has been stealing from?"
"Other neighbor," Puck, Jake, Sarah and Brittany chorused together.
"That guy was a tool," Sarah added.
"Wait, how long have you two been neighbors?"
"All our lives?" Brittany questioned on her way to the window. Puck shrugged, muttering something about it feeling that way before Brittany threw a jaunty wave in their direction and heaved herself out the window. There was a brief thump as she hit the ground below and was off. Sebastian, Tanisha, and Jake were staring in slight awe.
Debra was just amused. Brittany and Puck had been using the window between their living rooms as a doorway since they could walk. She didn't expect that to change even though they were almost eighteen years old. She almost didn't want it to change. She had a special place in her heart for the little blonde girl with the big smile who stood by her son throughout their childhood and teen years. Puck had his fallings in and out with Santana, Finn and even Rachel throughout the years but Brittany was there all the time. For that, Debra couldn't find it in her to begrudge the girl using more unconventional means of getting around.
The doorbell rang dragging her from her thoughts once again. The kids were busy packing up the art supplies and hanging up the posters to dry. Debra started to get up when Tanisha pushed her back onto the sofa with a soft smile and mumbled comment about helping the elderly. There was barely a ten year difference between them but Tanisha found every opportunity to exploit that. She was more like her son than she thought. Debra swallowed a laugh as Jake make some disparaging comment about Puck's age only to find himself countered by Sarah.
"Hello, I'm here for….. You?"
Debra leaned forward to see into the foyer where Tanisha was standing with the door open and a wide eyed look of surprise on her face. Standing opposite from her just outside the front door was a man, probably the same age. Judging by the height and similar lanky build, this was Sebastian's father. Well beyond the physical similarities, there was also the fact that Sebastian had stopped short at the sound of his father's voice and was standing with his head tilted to the side waiting for acknowledgement. Kid really was like a puppy.
"Hi, it's uh, it's you," Tanisha stammered, tucking a strand of her behind her ear. "I didn't know… you… what are you doing here?"
"I… I'm here to…. My son. What are you doing here?"
"What's going on?" Sarah whispered to no one in particular.
"I think my mom knows Sebastian's dad."
"But how?" Sebastian murmured.
"That's a good question," Debra chimed in, also taking in the weird scene unfolding a few feet away from them. The pair were still hovering in the doorway and didn't seem to be moving anytime soon. If anything, they seemed very content to just stare into each other's eyes longingly. It was kind of bizarre. Especially since they were both blushing and leaning towards each other. It was almost as if… they liked each other.
But Debra knew Tanisha. They had many a night since they combined their tribes where they cracked open a bottle of wine and chatted about their love lives or lack thereof. Debra had been on a few dates since the divorce was final with Elijah but nothing serious. But it was different for Tanisha. Elijah was her first serious anything. She was barely twenty when Jake was born. Elijah had been a major force in her life for over two years before they made Jake and Elijah faded away. But there was someone in her life before that. Before she fell under the somehow seductive spell of Elijah Puckerman.
"Oh my god, he's the one that go away!" Debra blurted before she could stop herself.
Tanisha turned around with a look that promised a swift and brutal death. Sebastian's father grew even redder if that was even possible. She leaned forward to get a better look. Though she knew they were father and son, there were little physical similarities between the two. Sebastian's skin was pale while his father sported a more olive tone with twinkling brown eyes. Debra shrugged. It wasn't like her son looked much like her. Aside from her smile, moral compass and taste in music, Puck was all his father's son. Sarah took after her. So maybe the reverse was true here. Maybe Sebastian took after his mother instead.
"Uh, hi. I'm Landon Smyth. I'm Sebastian's father," he waved a little awkwardly at Debra before turning his attention to Tanisha. "I didn't know you were friends with Sebastian's friends."
"Um, I'm actually not. I'm mom to Sebastian's friends. Well friend. Stepmom to the others." She took a step back and gestured for him to enter the house at last.
"Wait, you're related to one of them?" Landon asked with the kind of confused horror one expected when talking about a member of New Directions these days. Especially…. Debra turned around and was not at all surprised to see Brittany sitting next to Puck on the floor. Both of them were staring with matching expressions of smug amusement on their faces.
"Wait, when did you get back?"
"Didn't go very far," Brittany shrugged, not tearing her eyes away from Landon or Tanisha. Puck was similarly fixated even as Sebastian and Jake fell into the same spell.
"No, the honor of parenting those two falls to Debra over here. I'm only the stepmother and occasional wrangler. But I do have to claim responsibility for the other one over there. That's my son, Jake."
"Oh," Landon nodded.
"Yeah," Tanisha answered. "So….. "
"So… how's life?" Landon asked, flushing furiously at the awkward and stupid question.
Debra watched as they settled into awkward small talk once again. Neither of them noticing the glint growing in any of the teenage terrors' eyes. But Debra did. She scooted to the front of the sofa so that she could whisper more easily.
"What are you guys thinking?"
"That our parents have been single for far too long," Sebastian grinned.
"And they're totally adorable together," Jake added, holding his hand up for a fist bump which Sebastian met perfectly.
"You know what," Debra said, a grin slowly curving her lips. "I think you might be onto something here. Okay, you little heathens. I'm in."
Puck finally looked away from Tanisha and Landon with wide, shining eyes. "You're joining us on one of our schemes? You? My mother? The same woman who has turned a blind eye on every scheme Britt and I have cooked up since we were fourteen years old? You're going to help us out?"
"Well this is the first one that's made sense," Debra countered, poking her son on the leg. "But yes, you weirdo. I'm joining you on your little plot. You're going to need all the help you can get. These two look like they're gonna be a special brand of oblivious."
"My mom is joining us on a scheme," Puck mock sniffled. "This is the proudest moment of my life." Debra nudged him again with her foot before ruffling his hair.
"You're so special, my love. So very, very special. But yes, I'm in."
This might not have been where she imagined her life, but Debra was content. Her family was a hodgepodge mess to anyone looking from the outside but she loved Tanisha and Jake as much as she loved her own children (and Brittany). And just from their earlier conversation, she could see where Sebastian could fit in their lives just as well. She smirked, settling back in her seat. Oh yes, she was definitely in. With the way her children worked, those two would be married before Jake graduated high school. She made a mental note to recruit the Berry's and Carole. Why should she get to have all the fun?
Things were changing in New Directions. Rachel wasn't sure when it started but she felt it. Something was… off. She didn't know what it was exactly but she did know when and who it started with. She liked Sebastian. She really did. He was nice enough. But since he arrived at McKinley things were different. She knew that Brittany, Puck and Blaine trusted the former Warbler without hesitation. But she also knew that kind of trust rarely ended well for anyone. She didn't want her boyfriend and friends to be hurt. So she kept an eye on Sebastian even while trying to be his friend. It was a tough role to play but she needed to be hyper vigilant. She had to be prepared for anything.
Maybe that's why she was the only gleek to not be completely thrown when they walked into the choir room that afternoon to find it completely trashed and a very angry Finn and Kurt yelling at Sebastian. Rachel had no idea how long this had been going but Artie was by Sebastian's side while Tina and Mike hovered on the sidelines, equally anxious and tense. They all looked relieved when Rachel, Santana, Brittany, Puck and Blaine entered the room. Blaine immediately crossed over to Sebastian and pushed the taller teen behind him. Puck stepped over to Finn with a concerned look on his face.
"What's going on?"
"Sebastian trashed the choir room!"
"What?" Brittany's brow furrowed as she looked between Sebastian and the united front of Finn and Kurt. "What are you guys talking about?"
"Look around," Kurt snapped, glare still directed at Sebastian. "We got here and the whole place was trashed. The last person anyone remembers seeing here was Sebastian. We all know he eats lunch in here."
"Why would Sebastian trash the choir room?"
"Obviously because he's a spy!" Finn retorted as if it was obvious. Rachel was slightly surprised that she wasn't the only one who suspected that he was a spy.
"That's impossible," Puck said, shaking his head. Rachel bit her lip.
"Oh, it's impossible because you two couldn't possibly be wrong about someone?" Kurt snapped, sarcasm dripping from his voice.
"No, it's impossible because Sebastian was with us all day after lunch yesterday," Brittany replied, crossing her arms over her chest. "He was with Jesse in the room until we dragged him out. And then he never had a chance to come back because he came home with us to work on our campaign. He didn't leave until late last night and his dad was with him."
"Yeah, Landon doesn't really strike me as the type to sit by texting while his son commits acts of vandalism," Puck snorted.
Rachel tensed slightly. Since when was Puck on a first name basis with Sebastian's father? And really? Sebastian was at their place last night? He told her that they were working on campaign posters. But apparently, they were also hanging out with Sebastian. That feeling that something was about to happen was growing with every passing moment. She didn't like it. She liked where they all were. Why did anything have to change?
"You okay?" Blaine's voice snapped her out of her thoughts. It seemed that Brittany and Puck's defense was enough to get them to back off. For now. And so Blaine was now focused on Sebastian. The teen in question stood quietly with his head lowered. He looked genuinely upset at being accused as well as surprised. But she knew he was a good actor.
"Yeah, I'm okay," Sebastian nodded, placing his hand over the one Blaine had resting on his shoulder for just a brief second before pulling away. "Thanks."
"No need for thanks, we all know you're not a spy," Blaine said, pointedly looking in Kurt's direction. The gesture was unnecessary since Kurt was staring at Sebastian's shoulder where the two had been briefly touching. Rachel bit her lip again. Everything was changing….
"So did you guys ever settle the great unicorn debate?" Mike asked, trying to change the subject. Puck raised an eyebrow though his lips quirked somewhat. Santana snorted.
"Sarah was tweeting the whole thing. She had a poll up," she shrugged.
"I didn't know about that," Rachel murmured. But it went ignored as Kurt finally clued in on the campaign comment Brittany said earlier.
"Wait, you two are running for class president too?"
Puck and Brittany narrowed their eyes in unison and turned to look at the soprano. "Pause. You said too? Why are you running for class president?"
"It'll look good on my resume. Why else?"
"Oh, for a second I stupidly thought you actually gave a damn about what happens in this school," Puck said, rolling his eyes. Kurt flushed.
"Like you two do? You're just doing this to get revenge on someone. It's just one of your crazy schemes. They only end up benefiting you two in the end."
Brittany hissed and was primed to say something in return when the rest of the glee club entered the room. They were all surprised to see it wrecked. They avoided further conflict by admitting that they didn't know what happened to the room even though Rachel knew she wasn't the only one to cast a suspicious look Sebastian's way. It took a while to get the room back in order but soon it was settled and the strange tension was finally starting to lighten up. She settled in her seat between Santana and Puck. His arm around her shoulder was a familiar weight that felt comforting in a way. Maybe she was just reading more into this. Maybe everything was the same as it had always been. She settled into his embrace and smiled as Puck pressed a soft kiss against her forehead before continuing mocking the apparent mooneyes that Jake was making at Marley.
"West Side Story," Kitty said slowly. Rachel lifted her head to see that Will was writing on the board. Artie was in the center of the room, nervously playing with one of his gloves. "Is that a theme for the week or something?"
"No, it's the theme of this year's school musical." Rachel sat up, visibly interested. Will grinned. "That's right. This year the school musical will be directed by New Directions' very own Arthur Abrams. And I expect that you will all be auditioning."
An excited ripple rose in the room as they all started talking about what they were auditioning for. Rachel wasn't surprised when Kurt declared that he was the obvious choice for Tony. She tuned him out as he started going on about being Tony and the Senior Class President. She heard Puck quietly laughing as well but he held his tongue. She was proud of him.
"I'm going to pass around the signup sheet. Put your name down and the role you want to audition for. You have three days to practice for your auditions," Will said as he passed around a clipboard with a piece of paper stuck on top.
By the time the list reached Santana, Rachel leaned over to see who everyone had chosen. Both Blaine and Kurt had expressed interest in Tony. Mercedes shockingly was interested in playing Anita. Mike was going for Riff in a surprising move along with Sebastian, which was only surprising because she thought he would go for Tony instead. Santana wrote her name down but there was a moment where she hesitated. Rachel looked up to see her best friend was wearing a pensive expression.
"You ever want something really bad but going after it might cause a lot more problems than you really want?"
"All the time. But you have to just go for it. If you want something, San, go for it."
Santana sighed. "Okay," she whispered. And then she wrote Maria next to her name.
"Oh," Rachel murmured, looking at the incriminating scrawl. Santana handed her the clipboard with an impassive look on her face. "I thought you would want go for Anita."
Santana's jaw clenched. "I thought about it. But I thought why not aim high? Besides I'm tired of always being the sidekick."
"It's just that Maria has always been my dream," Rachel tried again. Santana threw her a look before glancing away. For some reason, the dismissive flicker irritated her even more than before. "You don't even want to be Maria!"
"How do you know?" Santana asked, voice rising somewhat. "And seriously what's the big deal? I'm just auditioning. We all know that you're going to end up getting the role. So what's the big deal?"
"The big deal is that you know how much this means to me. I can't believe you would even think about trying to steal this from me."
"God, it's always about you!" Santana retorted. "Newsflash, Berry. The world does not revolve around you. I'm auditioning because I want to. It has nothing to do with you. It's everything to do with me. I want to see if I can be Maria because I want to know." She paused. "Do you seriously think I'm not good enough to be Maria?"
"Of course not. It's just that…."
"Just what?" Santana asked, her voice low like a predator who just discovered their prey. "You just think you could do better."
"Well, yes," Rachel answered, though internally she was panicking. She hadn't meant to say that out loud. She could see Quinn and Tina staring at her with wide eyes. Santana cycled from rage to annoyance to resignation in rapid succession.
"Of course you do," she said, shaking her head. "Because only Rachel is ever good enough to be the lead. The rest of us should just accept any and all scraps we're given. Well you know what? I'm sick of it. I have just as much talent as you. You are not the only leading lady in this group," Santana finished, by rising from her seat so quickly it clattered to the ground. She was out the door before Rachel could even finish processing what she said.
The room was quiet in her wake and Rachel could feel all eyes on her. She swallowed the lump rising in her throat. This wasn't even a big deal. Santana was making this more than it needed to be. She shouldn't have put her stupid name down. Now everyone was looking at her like they used to last year. She felt Puck moving to touch her but she shrugged him off.
"You should go after her," she muttered. "You know Sam isn't going to be enough to hold her back when she gets like this."
"Yeah, but…." Puck trailed off.
"Don't worry about me," she mustered a weak smile. "I'll call you tonight?"
"Yeah," Puck sighed. He reached into his pocket and threw his car keys towards Jake. Brittany yanked them out of the air before they reached the freshman. "My truck better be in the same condition it was this morning, Britt. Don't forget to pick Sarah up."
With that said, he was gone. Will tried to engage the group in the lesson of the day but it was clear that the damage was done. Rachel was distracted. She felt Santana and Puck's absence keenly. But then she remembered that Santana did this to herself. She knew that Rachel always wanted to play Maria. How could she do this to her? After everything she did for the other girl. This was like a stab in the back. She looked around the room to find everyone averting their eyes. Well everyone except Sebastian. He was looking at her curiously. Finally, he looked away finding his phone to be highly entertaining. She frowned.
She knew it sounded irrational but it was true. Everything started changing that day in the coffee shop and it was getting steadily worse. Everything was changing and it was all because of Sebastian. Rachel glared in his direction once more before forcing herself to focus on Will at the front of the room. She was definitely going to be keeping her eyes on that one.
The end for now. I'm definitely not quitting on this story. But writer's block hit me hard. Hopefully I'm back. We shall see!