sapphireej: (Out of the Blue)
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Title: Out of the Blue, Part 82a
Author: Sapphire ([livejournal.com profile] sapphiresfic)
Fandom: Glee
Pairing/Characters: Rachel, Puck, Rachel/Puck, the Glee clubbers
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 11,371 (Part a and b)
Spoilers: Up to 1x22 ~ Journey; just to be safe
Series: 'Out of the Blue' (List of all the parts on my LJ)
Summary1: When Puck admits something to Rachel 'out of the blue;' what happens? Now both will face the ups and downs of his admission and find a little bit about each other along the way.
Summary2: Abby's has some firsts, Puck has to deal with some uncomfortable things and the teens head to Regionals.
Disclaimer: I am just borrowing them for the fun of writing, BUT I do own the plot, ideas and original characters.
A/N: I edited this chapter, so all mistakes are mine.
A/N2: This story is mostly AU after Mash-up (1x08), but with some of the topics discussed in the later episodes and music used, I may sneak in a conversation, cover the same topic, or use the same song, but I will put my own twist on it and may use some of the music.

~*~

A/N3: As I mentioned in the last few chapters, this one covers January and February, including Regionals.

~*~

As talked about prior to the holiday, after dinner on Christmas Day, the Hudsons, Quinn, the Hummels and Deborah's brother and his family all came over to Deborah and Ethan's house to continue celebrating with a small dessert party to enjoy some time with their friends and extended family.

Though it had just been a tease to Finn and Kurt earlier in the week about possibly becoming step-brothers soon, the reality came when Burt proposed to Carole in front of everyone that night and she said 'yes'. The couple admitted they'd talked about it for some time, but didn't want to rush things; they did see that in their future and wanted to live together permanently. Now that they were engaged, they announced that starting in the new year, Burt and Kurt would be moving into the Hudson's home. Kurt and Finn were shocked, but had also been preparing for it and even though Burt hadn't talked to them first, the two teens gave their parent's their blessing to get married.

Congratulations was passed around and when the question of a date and type of wedding came up, both agreed they didn't want anything fancy. They'd probably do something like what Deborah and Ethan had done. Signing papers at the court house and having a reception somewhere with close friends and family, because they had already done the big weddings when they'd had their first marriages and remembered the stress.

~*~

The week between Christmas and New Year's was spent organizing Rachel and Puck's garage. A lot of Ethan's stuff was still in it from his move, so all of his things were moved across the street to their garage for him to go through later. Deborah and Arin went through some of their things; some getting rid of, but a lot was moved into their garage, and Puck went through a few of his boxes, but most of his things, he just pushed aside to deal with at a later date.

By the end of the week, Ethan and Puck were taking measurements and starting on a design plan for the upgrade, wanting to take their time, but set a goal to start the actual work by Spring Break, after Nationals, which would give Rachel the studio space she needed and still gave them space for storage, a garage and a weight room.

Rachel was really looking forward to her space. The more she helped rearrange and sort things out, realizing why they were doing it, the more excited and serious she got about starting her photography business. She even took time to research just what she'd need to make her studio useful, without going overboard on things she might not need.

~*~

New Year's Eve fell on a Friday and even though they had been invited out, Rachel and Puck decided to stay home with Abby, so they could have their first one as a family. They also knew it could be their last one together for a while, so they wanted to be alone, unlike the year before when they spent it with their friends.

On New Year's Day, like they'd talked about, Rachel set up an area in the house to get photos of Abby at eight months, and their families also came over to help, making sure they got some pictures of Puck, Rachel and Kona with Abby, too. In looking at the photos on the computer just after, Rachel was happily surprised that her boyfriend had been right. Her photos had turned out just as good, if not better than the ones they'd had taken just after she was born and it made her even more excited to get started in the photography career.

The first Sunday of the year, January 2nd, Ethan and Puck had tickets to a hockey game in Detroit, so the father and son headed up north for the game and some father-son bonding, which they both enjoyed.

Returning to school on Monday, the Glee Club met and began preparations for their Regionals competition. They decided to focus on the music and choreography first and closer to the competition they'd figure out what they'd want to wear for costumes.

Everyone was thrown off by having missed the last few days of school before Winter Break, so students and teachers were playing catch-up, but by the end of the week things seemed to be back to normal. Friday night, the basketball team had their first game of the year at McKinley and David and Alan watched Abby so Rachel could go cheer on her boyfriend, congratulating him with a hug on the court when the buzzer went off and McKinley had won.

~*~

During the first week of the new year, David and Alan put a bid in on the house they wanted near the Puckerman's homes, hoping to get it, but knew they had other people wanting it, too. Knowing it could take a few weeks to find out if they did get it, they were hopeful that both of them having stable, good paying jobs would be a key to getting it.

On top of them moving, Carole, Finn and Quinn began to get the Hudson's home ready for Burt and Kurt to move in and the Hummels were starting to pack up for their move and eventually selling their house; Kurt wasn't attached to the house like Finn and Puck were to their homes.

Along with all the moving, Rachel, Puck and Ethan continued plans for the rebuild of the garage, wanting it complete it before Puck graduates, so they knew they had about six months left.

~*~

Over the past few months, Abby had been extra talkative, in baby talk. Babbling and saying sounds, but nothing ever clear enough to be words. They continued to encourage her to say 'mama' and 'dada' two of the common first words and Deborah assured them she'd start talking when she was ready, so they settled to wait, but were excited to hear them.

Abby had also been active in trying to hug people, not just snuggling up to to them like she had when she was a baby. She actually attempted to wrap her arms around someone's neck when they were holding her, even if her arms were too short to reach. Everyone loved it and thought she was cute, and Rachel made sure to get pictures of cute moments with her and their family and friends.

She'd also learned how to wave; something they'd been trying to show her for a while. Just after Christmas, one afternoon, Puck was going to the store with his mom and Rachel was holding Abby. He'd hugged and kissed his girls, saying 'bye' and when he pulled back he waved a little to Abby. Abby lifted her small hand up and mirrored his wave, moving her hand and wrist, instead of her whole arm. It definitely needed some work, but the couple was excited she was continuing to learn and pick up things.

During the first weekend of the new year, it was pretty quiet at home. Puck and Rachel were doing their homework, late in the afternoon on Saturday, when Abby woke up from her nap. Once she was changed, Puck took her downstairs and settled her onto the couch, letting her sit against the back of it, but both couple stayed close to make sure she didn't get up and try to crawl towards the edge.

Rachel went to get one of Abby's stuffed animals and returned, kneeling down on the floor so she could be closer to eye level to her and held out the toy. Abby took it and began shaking it, giggling as she did. After a moment, she held up the item and clearly said two syllables, "dada."

Puck and Rachel both gasped, exchanging shocked and curiously expressions before turning back to look back at Abby, "what was that, Abby?" Rachel asked, reaching out to tickle her tummy gently, "did you say 'dada'? Say it again," she coaxed.

Abby giggled when Rachel tickled her and sat back a little, shaking her toy and then looked at Puck who was sitting next to her, "dada," she said again.

Hearing it a second time, the couple knew they hadn't heard things and Puck picked her up, snuggling her against him and kissing her cheek, "you really said that," he grinned, "I love you, sweetie."

Rachel felt tears in her eyes as she took a seat next to them and hugged Puck and Abby, "mommy loves you, too," she added, "and I'm so proud of you."

"Definitely," Puck agreed, shifting, so he could kiss Rachel, "you know she is gonna start calling everything 'dada', right?" He smirked, remembering his sister's first word was 'mama' and she called everyone and everything that for a few months before she realized who 'mama' really was.

"Yeah, I remember reading that, but it's a start," she replied happily.

"Mama," Abby said, having heard the sounds from her dad and was trying to repeat them.

"Well, that was easy," Puck grinned, watching his girlfriend's eyes widen in shock.

"You said 'mama'," Rachel hugged Abby and kissed her cheek, "this is amazing," she grinned, looking at Puck.

"It is," he nodded, pressing a kiss to Rachel's lips and slipping his arm around her back, "I wonder what will be next on the 'baby's firsts' list."

"I'm in no hurry to check off any more," Rachel admitted honestly, happy she was learning more, but also knew that the more things she did, the closer it'd be to him leaving.

Understanding why she said that, Puck pressed another kiss to her lips and rubbed her back gently, "I know, babe. I'm not in a hurry either, but I still am curious."

Nodding in agreement, Rachel took a deep breath, "yeah, I am, too. I think walking is probably going to be her next one... Well, that and getting her to understand what those words mean."

"Yeah, there is that," Puck smirked, "we'll help her figure it out," he promised.

"Good, because I'd be pretty jealous if she called anyone else 'mama'," she told him.

After hearing the words again, Abby said them and Rachel blushed, kissing her cheek, "I'm 'mama' and he's 'dada', Abby," she said pointing to Puck.

"Dada," Abby said again, looking at where Rachel was pointing.

Puck smiled at them, "that's right."

Though Puck and Rachel knew Abby was just repeating the sounds she'd heard, not necessarily knowing what they meant yet, they settled to enjoy the moment when they heard their daughter say 'dada' and 'mama' for the first time.

~*~

The second Wednesday of the new year, Puck had to go do what he'd been dragging his feet on since being sworn into the Navy. He knew he had to have it done before going to boot camp, but he was afraid if he waited any longer he'd forget or remember just prior to leaving and have to rush through the process.

It wasn't a Glee day, so he was supposed to be at basketball practice after school, but he wasn't going. To everyone, he played it up like he had an important meeting with his recruiter; it wasn't a complete lie, he did need to check-in with him, since they hadn't seen each other for several weeks and only talked over the phone a few times, but that wasn't the only reason for him missing practice. Ben and Ethan were the only ones who knew where he was going.

Puck and Rachel had gone to school in separate cars that morning, just like every day he had practice. After school, the couple said 'goodbye' and Puck headed to his recruiter's office for a short time, checking in, getting a weight check and some information for the appointment he had at four. Once he had what he needed, Puck got back into his jeep and made his way towards the office of the only lawyer he trusted to take care of what he needed; the guy who would one day be his father-in-law, Alan.

Going into the office, he checked in with his initials; he'd scheduled an appointment for that day under 'NP' because he didn't want Alan to find out before then and ask him around Rachel why he had an appointment scheduled. The receptionist recognized him from the Berry's Christmas party a few weeks prior, and he agreed he'd seen her, but asked not to say anything to Alan until his appointment.

Taking a seat in the small waiting area, Puck waited patiently, his thoughts bouncing around as he stared at the large brown envelope he hand. It contained some documents he'd gotten while swearing in that he had to fill out and sign, along with a list of other things he needed to have done before he went to boot camp, because he wasn't married and still had a child with someone. He hated hiding the appointment or the documents from his girlfriend, but the last thing he wanted was her worrying about the meaning of a bunch of papers that he prayed he'd never need.

At first he tried to keep his head down, looking at his phone, but he couldn't help glancing around the office. He was sitting in a small waiting area in the front by the reception desk and there was a half wall behind that where he could see into the back of the office where everyone else was. In the center of a large room were desks and cubicles that had people working, so he figured they were assistants and paralegals. Around the larger room book shelves were scattered with various encyclopedias and doors into offices, which he thought may belong to the actual lawyers and his thoughts were confirmed when he saw Alan step out of one.

Alan knew he had a four-pm appointment and he'd been told they were there, so he left his office and made his way towards the front to meet them, pausing a moment when he reached the reception area and was surprised to see Puck sitting there, "Noah, what are you doing here?"

"I'm you're appointment at four," Puck replied with a smirk.

"Really?" Alan glanced and saw the receptionist nod, and then he laughed lightly, "NP... I should have known that was you. Come on back," he said, motioning behind him.

Puck stood up and followed him to the room he'd left, passing familiar faces he'd seen at their Christmas party and some of them nodded when they recognized him. Stepping into the large office, set up like he expected, a desk with a computer and files, books on book shelves, along with a round table with chairs seated around it. Alan closed the door behind them and motioned to the table, "have a seat, Noah. What's up?" Alan wondered, noticing the envelope in his hand as he took a seat at the table.

Pulling out one of the chairs, Puck slid into it and took a deep breath, "I need to have a will drawn up, among other things," he said, "and you're the only one I trust to do it. I'm sorry for being so secretive about this, but I didn't want Rachel or my mom worrying about it. Dad and Uncle Ben know, but when I made the appointment, I didn't want to use my full name, in case you saw it and wanted to bring it up at home."

Alan nodded in understanding, "I won't say anything, unless you're alright with it," he promised, opening the envelope and finding numerous documents inside, "did you get all these when you swore in?"

"Yeah," he nodded, "each person has to talk to a counselor to go over everything. Because I told them I had a daughter and wasn't married to her mother, they gave me all that and said I needed to get things sorted out, authorizing Rachel to have custody and guardianship over Abby, so if something happens to her, Rachel can make decisions without me and if," he knocked his knuckles on the wooden table, "God forbid, something happens to me, there's no question who Abby belongs with," he said sitting back, "I've looked over what's in there and I think some of them might be straight-forward, but I want you to look before I sign anything and I know I need more than what's in there."

"Very good idea," Alan nodded, "and some of these are simple; they deal with your benefits and things like that, but yes, some of them are a little more technical and you'll need more than a single sheet of paper. I've done this before," he motioned to them, "with other clients, so I'm familiar with the process and what they want. It's split into five sections. Your will, which covers your wishes if, God forbid, you did pass away. There's your power of attorney, which means you give permission for someone to make medical and legal decisions for you, if you're unreachable or you're injured or unconscious. You also have a power of attorney for Abby that you give permission for Rachel to make decisions for her, medical or anything else. In addition you will have a similar document that states you give all guardianship and custody to Rachel, so if something should happen to you, like you said, there's no question who Abby belongs with. The fifth section is your money. You need to have a checking account that you and someone here can have access too, that way when you get paid, your money can be accessed by someone, like Rachel, for Abby and bills, or they can put money in if you need it for something. Have you talked to Rachel about getting a joint account?"

"No," Puck shook his head, "should I? I mean, she has her own and I have my own; I figured I'd just add her to mine; mom already has access to it, and Rachel could, too. My money is Rachel's and Abby's money, so I don't need my own account and then have a joint account with her," he explained, "I also figured we'd have one account and she could keep hers for her photography business," he added.

"You could," Alan agreed, "and I'm not trying to say I'm skeptical, so don't take this the wrong way, but it's easier to add someone to an account than it is to remove them. Though you guys have a solid relationship and nothing to worry about now, if something did happen between you two, that would mean you'd have to close your account and open it again."

"No offense taken, but I'm gonna be honest. You're stuck with me," he smirked.

"No complaints here," Alan smiled glancing through the papers and slid a few towards him, "these deal with that, so I don't think we need to go through them. Talk to Rachel and see what she says about it and go from there."

"Alright. What about the rest? This isn't easy," Puck admitted, rubbing his neck nervously.

"I know, but look at it this way; you're taking care of your family. David and I have wills and power of attorneys over each other and Rachel for this reason, too. Partially because Ohio doesn't recognize same-sex marriages, but also because we want to make sure there's no question who we want taking care of our medical or legal decisions or our daughter if we can't," Alan told him, leaning back in his chair.

"I get that and I'm glad I'm doing that, because I want to make sure they are taken care of, but it's just tough to think about getting hurt or worse and not being able to come home to them," Puck told him, taking a deep breath.

Alan nodded, "I understand that and I'm assuming that's why you didn't want your mom and Rachel knowing about all this right now."

"Yeah. It's hard enough on Rachel knowing that I'm leaving, I just don't want her freaking out because I'm planning this type of stuff and the same with my mom. She's pregnant; she doesn't need that to stress about. I'm sure it's tough on her knowing what dad does for a living," Puck explained.

"It probably is, but she's a pretty strong woman and so is Rachel," Alan started, then smirked, "though I do know she tends to worry."

"Exactly," Puck nodded, "I love Rachel, but she worries about things she doesn't need to and for now I just want her to focus on Regionals. If she ends up having to sign anything or mom, too, we can tell them, but for now, it's between us."

"That's fine with me. I won't say anything, but you are right. Some of these will need their signatures, so at some point they'll have to find out," Alan replied.

Glancing over to them, Puck nodded, "so, about them... What do you need from me?"

"Um, nothing right off the top of my head, but I do have some questions that will help get these started," Alan admitted, "first off, you understand that because you and Rachel are not legally married, she can't be covered under your medical benefits, right?"

"Yeah, I know. Abby will be and I figure since Rachel's still in school, she's covered under your plans and," he blushed a little, "sometime after she graduates, I'll propose, if you and David are alright with that, so we probably won't be unmarried for too long."

Alan nodded, "we haven't been opposed to you and Rachel being together, so I don't think you need to worry about us saying 'no'," he assured him, "and yes she's covered," he added, glancing over some of the papers, "have you thought about who will make medical decisions for you if it came down to it?"

"They told me if I'm unmarried, even if I'm with someone, that I should still have my parents be listed; at least until I get married, so mom and dad?" Puck wondered, "I also thought that even if I do these papers now, when Rachel and I get married legally, we can update them, right?"

"Of course. Anytime you want. It's not uncommon and I was going to suggest your parents, too. I don't know if Rachel would be comfortable doing that right now," he replied, "it's not like she'd have to make any decisions alone, because we'll all be there for her, but to have the final say, that would be tough on her."

Puck nodded, "that's what I was thinking. I'm really glad you and David like me and that my family gets along with Rachel. I don't know what we'd be doing if someone hadn't supported us keeping Abby."

"I honestly have never seen Rachel this happy, except when she's with you and Abby, so there's no doubt you have our support," Alan commented.

"Thanks," Puck smiled and shifted a little, "that means a lot and I promise I'll do anything I can to make sure she stays happy."

"I know you will," Alan returned his smile.

~*~

Alan and Puck talked for a little longer, going over each paper Puck brought along and Alan was jotting notes down on a yellow legal pad. At the beginning, Puck had been nervous about what he was doing, but after talking with Alan, he calmed down, especially when Alan assured him he was doing the right thing and this was ensuring his family was taken care of if something happened to him. He still hated the idea that something could happen, but he settled knowing that Alan was right. Everything he was doing now, would be taking care of Rachel and Abby. Alan told him it could take a few weeks to get everything together and there would be some papers Rachel and his parents would have to sign, so Puck knew he had to talk to them at some point. He didn't want to, but decided he'd at least bring it up, so they weren't surprised when it came time to sign things and Alan agreed it was the best idea, so everyone was there in case Rachel needed to talk about how she felt about them.

Thanking Alan for everything he was doing, Puck left the office just after five, knowing he'd be seeing Alan and David by six, since they were coming over for dinner. Getting home, Puck greeted his girlfriend and daughter and Rachel asked him how his meeting went with his recruiter. He really had gone, so he told her some of the things that came up, mostly about the book he was supposed to be reading and some things with boot camp. He also mentioned he was happy he was still in the weight range he was supposed to be in and just had to maintain it until June.

When Alan and David arrived that evening, and Deborah, Ethan and Arin joined them, the family went on as if nothing had been out of the ordinary. After dinner, Alan, Ethan and Puck offered to do the dishes, so the others went into the living room, which gave them a chance to talk. They only brought up Alan needing a few weeks to get things together and Ethan and Puck agreed they'd talk to Deborah and Rachel a little so they could be ready.

~*~

Now that the papers were being worked on, Puck pushed aside his worries for them and tried to focus on his family and what they were doing at school without letting it bother him.

The next few weeks of January continued on, with a few more basketball games and practices, along with Glee practice for their upcoming competition. Everyone was happy that they were doing well with preparations; confident they'd be ready for Regionals in just a few more weeks.

Outside of school and practices, Ethan and Puck spent some of their free time sorting out what materials they would need for the garage rebuild. They, along with Rachel, had decided that since they didn't plan to use the garage for cars, they'd put up a wall down the center, giving half of the garage space for Rachel's photography studio and the other half would be for everything else.

Ethan and Puck also had a few more hockey games to attend, giving the father and son a break from their day-to-day lives, and also some time together they'd lost from all the years Ethan had been gone. Even though Puck had forgiven Ethan and they were getting closer as time went on, the trips to the games gave them both some time to learn more about each other. To Puck, it seemed like after every trip, more memories of missing his dad seemed to fade into the back of his mind, being replaced by new memories of them together.

Deborah also had a busy January. While the Glee Club was preparing for Regionals, she, Quinn and the Cheerios were preparing for their National competition, this year being held in Indianapolis, and fell on the last weekend of January and Deborah was thankful it was close enough they could just ride a bus and not fly like the year before.

~*~

As January neared the end, Puck talked to Rachel once about the paperwork Alan was preparing for him. He didn't go into too many details, but enough so she understood he had to have the paperwork done before going to boot camp and he wanted to make sure that she and Abby were taken care of while he was gone. He avoided telling her the additional reason was 'in case something happened' to him.

Surprisingly, Rachel was already aware of the paperwork he was talking about; something she'd seen brought up on a Navy family forum, so it didn't come as a complete shock, like Puck had first thought it would. It was something he was relieved about, but still silently worried that when she saw the type of documents involved and how serious they were, she'd get upset.

The last Wednesday of January, after their usual family dinner with her dads and Puck's family, Alan brought out all of the paperwork for them to go over and sign. Once Abby was settled into her playpen and Arin was busy watching TV in the living room, Puck, Rachel and their parents settled around the dinning room table to talk.

"That's an awful lot of papers for guardianship and power of attorney for Abby," Rachel commented, seeing the thick stack.

"It's, um, not just for that," Puck admitted, glancing at Rachel from across the table. He and David and switched seats so he could sit next to Alan, because he'd be doing most of the signing, "there's also stuff for me, too, um, in case anything happened to me."

Rachel's eyes fell closed and she took a deep breath, nodding, "I see," she bit her lip, "I should have figured that out, too," she added, "is one of them your will?"

"Yeah," Puck nodded, getting up and moving around the table to kneel down next to her and rested his hands on her hips, "I told you the other day that I had to do this before boot camp and what my recruiter calls it is 'getting your affairs in order'. I just want to make sure that you and Abby are taken care of if something happened to me. I'm not saying anything will, but just in case."

"I know," she rested her hands on his cheeks as she looked at him, "when you were telling me about all the paperwork for Abby, I should have figured that out, too," she glanced towards the living room where Abby was contently playing in her playpen, "we almost lost you once. I don't like thinking about that happening again."

"Neither do I," he assured her, "and I promise I'll do everything I can to stay safe so I can come home to you two," he glanced over at the papers and then back to her, standing up and kissing her, "but these just make sure that things are taken care of if something did happen," he said softly, unable to resist knocking on the wooden table.

Rachel smiled lightly and nodded, "I know," she stood up and slid her arms around him, "I love you."

"I love you, too," he replied, holding her tightly.

~*~

After the moment with his girlfriend, they got back to what they were doing. They started out signing the papers that dealt with Abby. He and Rachel signed those, one of the papers agreeing that if anything should happen to him, all custody and guardianship goes to Rachel and the other papers dealt with Puck giving Rachel permission to make any medical decisions and any other type of care for her without his consent, because he wouldn't always be reachable.

Content they had all the correct information in the paperwork, they moved onto the next set. Alan had written up Puck's will exactly how he wanted it, when they first talked about it in his office and Puck signed it once he read over it. Moving on to the last section of papers, they were for Puck's legal and medical power of attorney, meaning that if he was deemed unfit to make decisions or unconscious, he authorized his parents to make the decisions. It also helped with any issues back home, his parents could sign things for him or update or cancel things in his name without him being there, because he'd given them permission to do it.

Deborah and Ethan signed a few of the papers and when they finished, Puck scrawled his signature across the page and then they moved onto the papers he just needed to sign. Most of them were how he wanted benefits sorted out and other details that needed to be taken care of. Now all he had to do was take care of the papers for the bank account and he had time to do that, still needing to talk to Rachel about what she wanted to do.

With everything signed, Alan slid it all back into the folder he had, wanting to go through them one more time to make sure everything had been signed and filled out before saying they were done and promised to get them to him by the weekend. Soon Alan and David left, followed by Arin, Deborah and Ethan, since the paperwork had taken longer than expected and they all had to work in the morning.

After their families left, Puck and Rachel spent some time with Abby and then got her ready and down for bed, before the couple settled into the living room to work on their homework. "Um, are you alright after earlier?" Puck asked, a little while later, sliding off the couch to sit next to her by the coffee table where she was working.

"Yes," Rachel nodded, "I am. It's tough to think about, but I know it's only to protect us if something happened. I don't like thinking about it, but I'm alright," she assured him, "are you okay?"

"Yeah," he shrugged, "I guess. Seems a lot more real now. It definitely is a tough conversation to have and I'm sorry I kept most of it from you, but I just didn't want you to worry. You've been pretty focused on Glee and I didn't want it to distract you."

She smiled lightly and leaned against his chest, "it's always in the back of my mind. I just choose not to let to take over."

Sliding his arm around her shoulders, he kissed her forehead, "I'm always gonna be with you, even if we are hundreds or thousands of miles apart," he murmured.

"Damn right you are, Puckerman," she grinned, looking up at him, "and don't you ever forget it."

"I promise I won't," he returned her smile and pressed a kiss to her lips, meaning his promise completely. He wasn't that Puck anymore; he'd grown up and now there was only one person in his romantic life and she is and always will be Rachel Marie Berry; soon to be Puckerman and he'd never intentionally jeopardize their relationship.

"Are you okay with me giving my parents the right to take care of decisions for me?" He wondered after a few short moments.

Rachel nodded, continuing to relax against his chest, "we're not married, so I think it's only right they have that power. It's also not really a big deal, because I have a good relationship with them, so I don't think they'd make a big decision without at least talking to me first."

"That's what I was thinking. I mean, since I wasn't married it was recommended that I go with my parents, but when I thought about it, I realized that most big decisions we make as a family or at least talk about and if what they had to decide effected you or Abby, I know they'd talk to you about it first," Puck replied, "I just wanted to make sure. Considering I was giving you the power over Abby, I didn't know how you'd feel about..."

Leaning up, Rachel pressed a kiss to her boyfriend's lips, silencing his words, "you did the right thing," she assured him, "I'm alright with that and when we do get married, we can change them," she added.

Puck smiled, nodding at her words, "okay, cool. I'm glad you're alright with things."

She nodded, kissing him again, "I am definitely alright with things. You made the right call."

~*~

A few days later, after school on the last Friday of January, Deborah and the Cheerios went home long enough to collect their overnight bags and say 'goodbye' to their families for the weekend. Puck and Finn had said their goodbyes to Deborah and Quinn at school, because the basketball team had an away game that night and they wouldn't be able to see them off. Rachel, Abby and Arin said 'goodbye' and 'good luck' to Deborah and Quinn at home, and then Ethan drove them to school to meet the bus that was taking them to Nationals.

Leaving home this year for Nationals was a lot tougher than it had been the year before. Now, not only did Deborah have her kids she was saying 'goodbye' to, she also had another daughter, Rachel, and a granddaughter she cared for just as much as her own children. On top of her children, she also had a husband that she hadn't slept apart from since they'd gotten married and hated leaving him. When Ethan dropped her and Quinn off at McKinley, Quinn started checking people in, so Deborah could have some time to say 'goodbye', and Ethan promised her the time would fly by and they could still talk on the phone. She knew a lot of her nerves and emotions were from pregnancy hormones, but she still was going to miss him and couldn't wait until she got home.

~*~

The basketball team ended up losing their away game and knew that the following Friday would be their final game of the season and Puck was looking forward the extra time he could have after school to spend with his girlfriend and their daughter.

With Deborah gone for the weekend, Ethan and Arin got some father-daughter bonding in and still hung out with Rachel, Puck, Abby and Rachel's dads like they did a lot on the weekends. Everyone missed Deborah and talked to her a few times Saturday, but they wouldn't know until Sunday afternoon what place the team took, but everyone was curious.

The Cheerios ended up taking second place and for the Senior girls, they felt like they came out on top, because they'd taken third the year before. Ethan and Arin picked up Deborah and Quinn at McKinley when they got back Sunday evening, after their three hour bus ride from Indianapolis and though they were looking forward to getting home, they joined the Berrys, Puckermans, Hummels and Hudsons at Rachel and Puck's house for a small party to celebrate their second place finish and to welcome them home.

~*~

Returning to school on Monday, the Cheerios were congratulated and now that their competition was over, the Glee Club could focus even more on their songs for Regionals. Monday was also the beginning of a new semester at McKinley, so a lot of students had classes that changed, but Puck and Rachel's classes didn't, so they were glad they could finish out the rest of their year, together, in the same classes.

In the middle of the week, David and Alan found out their bid had been accepted for the house just down the street from Ben and Susan's house, not even a block away from Puck and Rachel. The family got to celebrate the news together and Rachel was excited for when they could start moving in on the first of March and Puck, Ethan and others offered to help out, knowing their plan were to keep their current house and fix it up to sell it by the summer, giving everyone an additional project to help with.

By the end of the week, at the home and final basketball game of the season, Rachel and Abby, who wore earplugs, along with Rachel's dads, Ethan, Arin, Ben's wife and daughters and several of the Glee Club members came to cheer on their friends. Abby did pretty well at the game, only getting upset and fussy a few times because of the noise, because the earplugs helped drown out a lot of the painful sounds.

McKinley won their final basketball game of the season and even though it wasn't enough to go to a championship, the Senior guys were happy they could end the season on a happy note. Puck loved having his girlfriend and daughter, and the rest of their families in the audience, but the best part for him was getting a hug and kiss from his girlfriend and daughter at the end of the game, before he and the rest of the guys jogged into the locker room to shower and change.

~*~

Ethan and Puck had a Saturday hockey game in Detroit, so they went up, using it as a break from basketball and Glee, knowing the following week would be stressful because Regionals was the next weekend.

When Monday arrived, the Glee Club was down to crunch time, because Friday morning they were leaving McKinley and heading to Detroit for Regionals. Using part of their lunch time every day to practice, along with after school, the club was finally confident they were ready.

Thursday evening, David and Alan stayed at Rachel and Puck's house and were going to stay the whole weekend to take care of Abby. Waking up Friday morning, two hours earlier than normal, everyone was busy and nervous. Puck's uncle, another Glee director was going on the trip with them and so was Puck's cousin Jessica. Arin wanted to stay with Hannah, Susan and Ben's daughter, so that morning, after Arin said 'goodbye' and 'good luck' to Puck and Rachel, and Ethan and Deborah had exchanged goodbyes with David and Alan, the two adults took Arin down to Ben and Susan's house to drop her off and Ben and Jessica followed them to McKinley.

It had been some time since Rachel and Puck had been away from Abby overnight, so they were nervous about leaving. After several trips through the house, a lot of hugs and kisses to their daughter and David and Alan promising everything would be alright, Puck had to coax Rachel out of the house to keep her from continually fussing over everything.

Arriving at McKinley, the couple met up with his parents, uncle, cousin, Kurt, Finn and Quinn, who had left the Hudson's house around the same time and all of them parked near the back of the parking lot where the bus was waiting for them. Unloading their cars and slowly packing the bus, students and chaperones slowly arrived and time was ticking closer to their departure time.

In addition of his clothes for the next few days, Ethan also brought his hockey gear. Mike, his friend and former teammate, along with the rest of the Detroit Police Department hockey team begged for Ethan to return to the team for their annual game against the city's fire department, which happened to be the same weekend as Regionals. Ethan wasn't sure of the schedule, but once he found out they'd have Saturday afternoon free again, he agreed to play, even though he hadn't been on the ice for a year. The returning club members knew about the game and were excited to go again, and Ethan made sure he had enough tickets waiting for everyone to come, if they wanted.

Once all the students and chaperones had arrived, the bus left McKinley just after seven-am, beginning their trip to Detroit, about a two and a half hour bus ride. Most everyone used the time to sleep, knowing they'd had an early morning and would be performing that afternoon, so they needed to be rested.

Will wanted Ethan to direct the bus driver once they got closer to Detroit, so Ethan woke up from his nap and made his way to the front of the bus, where he could have a clearer view of where they were. A little after two hours into their trip, they were hitting the Detroit city limits and it didn't take long for Ethan to show the driver a shortcut around some of the major traffic areas that got them to their hotel in a decent amount of time.

"Well, this brings back memories," Puck commented realizing they were staying at the same hotel they had the year before.

Deborah smiled, "yeah it does. Definitely good ones," she agreed, hugging Ethan once he returned to his seat, while Emma and Will went to check them in.

Ethan nodded, "about this time last year I was just getting back from an early morning call and trying to sleep for a few hours before coming up to see you guys. I didn't know what to expect, but I was looking forward to it."

Puck smiled, "I was definitely nervous. I didn't know what to think or do... I'm just," he blushed, "I'm glad we finally met up," he said honestly, turning to look at Ethan and Deborah in the seat behind him and Rachel, "your call at Christmas started it all and this was the next big moment in the return of our family."

"It was," Ethan agreed, "I know I fucked up big time by leaving, but it definitely was a huge turning point in our relationship, especially seeing you all, meeting Arin, and then proposing to you," he smiled at Deborah, "that was a great moment."

Deborah nodded, "it was a very great moment. I honestly never thought it would happen, but I wouldn't change a thing about this past year. You're back in our lives and that's something I always dreamed of," she admitted honestly.

Ethan pressed a kiss to her lips, "me too and I'm not going anywhere," he promised, resting his hand on her stomach, then looked at her and Puck, "I'm not making that mistake again."

Puck nodded, "we know and believe you," he said honestly, getting his mom's nod in agreement. Looking at their joined hands, now resting on her swollen stomach, he smiled, "we've been through a rough few years, but it's in the past and the past year has been the start of our new life as a family and I know we're all looking forward to the addition to our family," he said, motioning to the baby growing inside her.

~*~

Ethan, Deborah, Rachel, Ben, Jessica, Finn and Quinn agreed with Puck's words and the small, but important family moment came to a close when Will and Emma returned with room keys for everyone. Slowly everyone was given their room assignments and the roommates gathered their things and made their way inside the hotel and up to their floor.

When Will and the other directors had sorted out room assignments for the club members, Deborah's room was going to have Rachel, Quinn and Jessica, Ethan had Puck, Finn and Kurt and Ben was going to be rooming with Matt, Mike and TJ, his daughter's boyfriend, so TJ was definitely nervous to be that close to Ben, but Jessica made Ben promise not to scare him too much and he gave in, promising he'd be 'good'.

Once all the kids and adults had been settled into their rooms and dropped off their belongings, they gathered up their items for their performance and were piling back onto the bus and heading to the venue.

~*~

McKinley's New Directions arrived at the venue just after eleven and checked in. At noon, their practice room was open, so the club gathered together to run through their numbers for that day, Rachel and Puck's ballad and Kurt and Tina's duet with the rest of the club as background vocals for both. Once everyone was confident in their routine, they began to get ready, having a lot more members than the year before, but by two-thirty, they were down by the stage and ready to go on at three.

Rachel and Puck's ballad was their opening number and during the chorus the rest of the club joined them on stage to continue on and then Kurt and Tina's upbeat number ended their set for the day. By the end, everyone was excited and confident they'd be going on to the next round, but wouldn't find out until Saturday evening, so they all returned to their hotel where some walked to a nearby restaurant, while others ordered in, like Puck, Rachel and their close family and friends.

Joining them for pizza were some of Ethan's former teammates and after dinner, Ethan and the guys talked about the game and they gave him the tickets for everyone in the club. Since it had been so long since Ethan had been on the ice, Mike was going to pick Ethan up around eight, so they could get to the arena early and get some practice in before the game started at noon, and they decided that the club would leave the hotel around ten-thirty, to be at the arena by eleven.

When the guys left that night, everyone was getting excited and Rachel, Puck, Quinn and Finn started passing around the news and times to everyone so they knew what time they needed to get up, everyone promising they'd be on the bus by ten-thirty the next morning.

Finn, Puck and Ethan didn't want to sleep apart from their partners, but they all agreed that they were on a school trip and didn't want anyone to get pissed because the guys and girls slept together, so they reluctantly returned to their rooms to sleep apart.

~*~

Saturday morning, Mike picked up Ethan by eight and the two men headed to the Red Wings arena, while everyone was just starting to get up. Having coffee and breakfast in the hotel's café that morning, everyone was on the bus by ten-thirty and on their way to the arena. Because Puck had been so familiar with the drive, he gave the driver directions and soon they were being dropped off in front of the arena, like the year before.

This year, instead of wearing whatever, Ethan had given some of them Detroit SRT shirts, the name of his former team, and Puck, Finn, Rachel and a few others had them on, and others were wearing shades of blue, in support of the police team. Getting inside, they found seats in the police section and settled in, hoping they would win again like the year before.

At eleven-forty-five, the two teams came out of their locker rooms, dressed in their pads and new uniforms, and all skated around the arena in greeting. When Ethan passed by his family and friends, he turned and showed the back of his uniform and instead of it being 'Ballard 20', this year it was 'Ballard-Puckerman 20', using his legal last name.

His family cheered for the name change and Rachel snapped pictures when she could, getting a few great shots of Ethan on the ice before the teams lined up in the center of the ice for the National Anthem. After honoring the flag, the teams went to their sides of the rink and the starting players waited for the game to start.

~*~

The hockey game, like once was said, seemed to be a tennis match on ice. The puck was knocked around between firefighters and cops and there was pushing and shoving on both sides trying to make goals. By the mid-game break, the teams were tied and Ethan had been roughed up, because he'd played the entire time and the firefighters knew he was one of their best players; he'd been slammed into the wall several times to steal the puck.

The last part of the game was just as brutal, but Ethan and one of the other players returned the favor and Ethan was able to score a goal and Mike scored another, bringing the cops ahead of the firefighters in the last few minutes. The cops won the game again and their fans cheered and celebrated over the firefighters, but it was all for a good cause, so no one was too upset about it.

As the arena began to thin out, the McKinley students and their chaperones waited for Ethan and when he and a few of his guys from his former team joined them, they talked and congratulated them on their win. Mike was glad to see Ethan so happy and also looked forward to meeting Ethan's next child. During their conversation, Ethan suggested that once the weather got nicer, his former team and their families should come down to visit and meet his current team and have a big Spring party. The guys liked that and agreed to talk later, knowing Ethan and the club needed to get back for their evening results.

While talking, the rest of Ethan's former team who didn't play hockey, joined them and the celebrations and congratulations continued for a short time, not only for the win, but also for the baby on the way. Puck also got a chance to talk face-to-face with Nate, the guy who had been in the Navy before joining Ethan's former team. He and Puck had been keeping in touch through Facebook, and hadn't seen each other since summer, so they compared their swearing in stories and the things Puck had done so far in preparation for leaving and Nate thought he was on a great track, encouraging him to keep on it and to talk to him if he ever had any questions and Puck assured him he would.

Hanging out for a little longer, slowly they moved outside to meet their bus and Ethan's friends said 'goodbye' and wished the teens 'good luck' at Regionals and promised to see everyone soon.

~*~

Out of thirty schools at Regionals, half didn't make it any further, and McKinley was part of the ones who would be performing their final number for the judges the next day. McKinley took second, right under Mississippi's Clinton High School Attaché and Carmel's Vocal Adrenaline took third, the same rankings as the previous year.

After the announcements of the top five schools, Rachel saw Shelby and spoke to her briefly; Shelby congratulated Rachel and the rest of McKinley's team for a great job and wished them luck the next day. Rachel and Shelby were not close by any means, but they both settled for a simple relationship of just friends.

On Sunday afternoon, McKinley would be performing and unlike the year before, they wouldn't have to wait until the next day to find out if they would be going to nationals; they'd be finding that night.

Rachel and Quinn's upbeat duet was McKinley's final chance to show the judges they deserved to go to Nationals. In less than five minutes, the two girls, who had gone from enemies to close friends, like sisters, had pulled off an amazing vocal performance with their friends as back up. As their number ended, the girls hugged, so happy that their relationship had grown so much and knew it was something neither wanted to give up.

Celebrating briefly in their practice room, the teens changed and everyone went back to the hotel to pack up their belongings, planning to leave once they found out the final results. A little after four they returned and founds seats in the venue to wait for the results at five.

Other schools began piling in, everyone waiting to find out where they placed and at the start of the result announcements, the bottom ten schools were listed in alphabetical order, and those schools cleared out, leaving New Directions, Vocal Adrenaline, Attaché and two other schools left. They would be going onto Nationals, no matter what rank they were, but each team waited for their name to be called to get their trophy.

The fourth and fifth place school were announced and they were given their small trophies and the other three schools waited to find out if their places had changed from the day before. Though the year before they had been surprised, the three school's ranks hadn't changed, from the first and second rounds, meaning that Vocal Adrenaline took third, McKinley took second and Attaché was first.

Will, Shelby and the coach from Attaché went up to collect their trophies and returned to their teams to celebrate, sharing hugs with everyone, looking forward to Nationals. By the time they were on their bus and starting their journey back to Lima, New Directions was already brainstorming ideas for music. They nominated Puck and Rachel to continue with the ballad because they did them so well and the couple was open to it because it would be the last time they could sing together, so they gladly agreed, once everyone assured them they were okay with it.

Someone mentioned that the Seniors should take leads on a song or at least a portion of a song, but Mike, Matt and Ryan were not comfortable with that, which left Quinn, Finn and Puck. The three were not against the idea, but Puck had an idea for all the guys and wanted to keep a secret for the moment. Quinn asked Rachel if she wanted to do another duet and several others agreed that Rachel and Quinn's duet had been amazing for Regionals, and thought they'd sound equally amazing on something for Nationals.

Getting an okay, they agreed on the guys doing one song, Quinn and Rachel singing lead on another and Puck and Rachel covering their ballad. On the rest of the trip, they started suggesting song ideas and would figure out which ones they'd do later.

~*~

Link to Part 82b
(Had to split the chapter up because it was just a little too long to fit in one LJ post.)

~*~


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Notes

Hi! This is EJ... AKA sapphiresfic on LJ, sapphireej on FF.net and EJ8302 on Tumblr and Twitter.

6/8/2012 - ALL LINKS in posts go to LJ. Over time I will correct them so they go to DW, but for now, it's a start.

June 2012

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