The entire hospital experience is surreal. Quinn is breathing funny, Mercedes gives Puck the stink-eye periodically, and Puck feels like there’s something he should be doing, but he doesn’t have a clue what that something is. When the alarms start going off, it doesn’t even register with him at first, because there’s been beeping and other sounds the entire time.
It’s not until two nurses and a doctor run in, and Mercedes is told to leave, and Puck is pushed against a wall, that Puck realizes something is seriously wrong, and that the alarms have something to do with Quinn or Beth. It doesn’t take much longer for him to realize that it’s Quinn, not Beth, or at least only Beth as far as she’s depending on Quinn for oxygen and stuff. Quinn’s heart rate is low, her blood pressure is dropping, and she passes out before anyone even starts to explain any of it to Puck.
The only hope for either of them, the nurse says, is a crash c-section. They’ll take Quinn up immediately, and Puck can wait right outside the door. Assuming Beth is fine, he can even go with Beth straight to a postpartum room, hold her when they get there. The nurse doesn’t say what will happen with Quinn, and as Puck follows the nurse down a hallway, he decides not to ask.
Puck stands outside the door longer than he expected to, but he has no idea how much time’s really passed, and then the door suddenly swings open, a different nurse pushing one of the bassinette-things in front of him, a blanket-wrapped, pink-hatted baby lying in it.
“That’s her?” Puck says, suddenly feeling like he can’t breathe. His daughter, Beth, lying right there in front of him.
“Yes, this is your daughter,” the nurse says, and the worried look on his face is replaced by a smile that does reassure Puck, at least somewhat. “Let’s get the two of you to a room. Did you have a name picked out?”
“Beth,” Puck answers quickly. “Her name’s Beth.”
“That’s a great name,” the nurse says. “My girlfriend’s name is Elizabeth, but her mama calls her Beth. She won’t let anyone else.” He’s clearly trying to put Puck at ease, which Puck appreciates, but he wonders why, exactly. Beth’s fine, staring confusedly at him, and as soon as they’re in a room, Puck sits down in a rocking chair and picks her up, cradling her against him.
“Does… does she need to eat?”
“Maybe in a little bit,” the nurse admits. “I’ll come back and check on her and you in just a little while.” With that, the nurse hands Puck the call button, draws a curtain, and then leaves.
“Well, hi,” Puck says to Beth, who stares up at him. “It’s just you and me for now, I guess.” He removes the pink hat, stuffing it in his pants pocket and realizing he’s still wearing his costume from their regionals performance. “Oh, Beth, sorry sweetie.” He grins at her. “You’ve got curly hair.”
Puck traces his finger down her tiny face, across her nose, and then holds her curly-hair-covered head in his palm. “How’m I supposed to let you go?” he murmurs to her as he puts her on the bed and starts to unwrap her blanket, letting his hand trail over her small arms and legs before her fingers grab one of his. “You don’t want to let me go, huh?” he asks. “I don’t know, Bethie.”
He re-wraps her blanket as best as he can and picks her up again. Beth studies his face while he tells her about himself, his sister, and his mom. He tells her about Finn, and how he can’t wish he’d never slept with Quinn, because of Beth herself, but he does wish he could find a way to make it up to Finn, to get his best friend back. Puck tells Beth about a lot of things, really, and she stares at him the entire time, holding on to his finger. It’s kind of awesome, the way she stares at him, the way she feels in his arms, and the way she smells.
Well, the way she smells is awesome right up until the moment that she shakes in his arms and her butt gets warmer, and that’s when Puck realizes she needs a diaper change. It takes him five minutes to find the diapers under the bassinette, and it takes him about ten minutes to get the very dark, very sticky poop off of Beth’s butt with the wipes, but eventually Puck’s sitting in the rocking chair with Beth in a fresh diaper and wrapped up in her blanket again.
“We did it, Bethie,” Puck says, feeling prouder than he probably should for the simple task of changing a diaper. “Wonder when your nurse is going to come back, you might want a bottle by now.”
Beth stares up at him, but Puck likes to imagine that she’s smiling just a little, smiling at him and just him.
“You look like me,” he says, feeling awed. “You look like Quinn, too, but you look like me. I don’t know, I didn’t expect that, somehow.” Puck sings to her, going through their regionals set again and then going backwards over the weeks to things she might have heard in their glee club meetings. She likes the Lady Gaga, which Puck finds upsetting—he can’t admit to anyone that he actually sang Lady Gaga for her in the first place, and then she likes it best.
Puck feels like hours pass before anyone comes back, the nurse carrying a bottle and followed by two other people Puck hasn’t seen before. They stand nervously while the nurse talks to Puck about how to hold the bottle, how to burp her, and how to know when she’s done eating. Beth is in the middle of her first meal when the other two people sit in front of Puck’s rocking chair, looking somber, and a lot of words Puck doesn’t really understand fly past him.
Hypotension. Reduction of perfusion. Cardiac failure. Coma. Hemorrhagic. Amniotic fluid embolism.
The part he does understand, the part he understands too well, is the ‘outcome’. That Quinn’s dead. That somehow, having Beth killed her, which means Quinn’s dead, and it’s Puck’s fault. His arms squeeze Beth, almost too tightly, and he realizes it’s probably time to burp her.
“Ms. Fabray’s mother said that the two of you had decided to place the baby up for adoption?”
“Quinn—Quinn didn’t want to keep her,” Puck says, and it’s not until he speaks that he realizes he’s crying. “Does Quinn’s mom—?”
“She assumes you want to continue with the adoption plan.”
Puck sighs, adjusting Beth’s position after she burps. “What happens if I want to keep her?” he whispers. He knows he wouldn’t have fought Quinn, not if everything had gone well, not if he was staring at Beth through a nursery window. He isn’t though, and it didn’t, and he’s spent time with his daughter now. He’s told her things, sung to her, changed her diaper, fed her, and even discovered she likes ‘Bad Romance’.
“Of course we’d need to verify paternity,” one of the people says slowly, “but as her father, that’s certainly well within your rights.” They start talking about paperwork, and about the advantages of adoption given his age, and how they can find the ‘perfect’ placement for her, but Puck shakes his head. They change to discussing paternity testing, her birth certificate, and how long she has to stay in the hospital, and at least half of it goes over Puck’s head before Beth rumbles again. Puck changes her diaper while they watch, only taking about five minutes to get the poop off this time, and finally just as Beth is drifting off to sleep, they stand up and leave with a promise to return in the morning.
The nurse comes back in, smiling apologetically as he takes a swab from Puck’s cheek and then from Beth’s cheek, which luckily doesn’t wake her up. “You’ve got some friends of yours, all dressed alike,” the nurse says. “Come to think of it, you are too, aren’t you? They’d like to come in and visit.”
“Yeah, okay,” Puck says quietly, staring down at Beth. “After you’ve put those away?” He gestures to the swabs. “Most of them don’t need to know about it.”
“Just a few of them at a time?”
Puck shrugs. “You might as well send them all in at once. Better they just disturb Beth and me, right?”
The nurse chuckles quietly. “Sure. I’ll put these up, bring your Beth another bottle, and then tell your friends they can visit if they’re quiet.”
“Thanks,” Puck says sincerely.
“Just doing my job,” the nurse insists, but Puck knows better. Beth is his patient, not Puck; the kindness he’s showing Puck really isn’t required on his part.
The bottle comes quickly, and Beth is already drinking some of the formula when Puck can hear the rest of New Directions approaching. The door creaks open, and Puck can hear some shushing before Mr. Schue pokes his head in.
“Puck?” Schue says. “May we come in?”
Puck nods, resisting the urge to roll his eyes. “Told the nurse it was fine,” he says, and Schue pushes the door open, stepping inside as the others follow him, and the first thing Puck notices is that everyone is either red-eyed or still crying. Brittany and Santana barely come into the room, huddling near the door, and neither of them are even bothering to wipe their eyes. Puck slides his eyes away from them, towards Tina and Artie, who just look stunned, Tina sniffling quietly, and from there to Mike and Matt, who also look stunned.
Mercedes doesn’t look stunned so much as in shock, and Puck wonders how much she comprehended before she was thrown from the room. He thinks she probably needs someone to talk to, more than Schue would realize. She’s leaning on Kurt, his arm around her, though Kurt looks a little shaky himself. Schue is pale, but nowhere near as pale as Finn, who has kept walking towards Puck. Rachel is still walking, too, walking all the way up to Puck and then suddenly hugging him.
Puck can feel himself startle, but Beth doesn’t wake up, and after a moment, Rachel releases him. Rationally, Puck knows not everyone is staring at him, but he feels like they are, and he exhales.
“Hey,” he finally says.
“Hey,” Finn replies softly. He stares down at his own hands like he doesn’t know what they are or what to do with them.
“So, um.” Puck clears his throat. “Did they just tell you guys? What did they tell you?”
“About fifteen minutes ago,” Schue says quietly. “It was some kind of embolism, pretty rare. That’s—Mrs. Fabray was still—”
“Yeah.” Puck looks around the room again, then between Mercedes and Finn a few times. “So this is Beth.” He tilts her slightly, the bottle still in her mouth.
“She’s beautiful,” Mercedes says. Everyone else nods.
“Thanks,” Puck says. “I think that’s mostly—well.” He swallows hard and looks back down at Beth. “Done?” he asks her, the bottle falling out of her mouth, and he puts it aside, lifting her up to burp her.
“Do you need anything?” Schue asks, then looks sheepish. “I mean, in the next twelve hours or so.”
“Maybe some dinner,” Puck says after thinking about it. “Fresh shirt. They’ve got her covered pretty well. Bottles, diapers, blanket.”
“We can go get you dinner,” Tina speaks up, her voice thick, and she seems to be speaking for herself, Artie, Mike, Matt, and possible Brittany, Santana, and Rachel, too.
“Absolutely,” Rachel says, which means she at least is part of that group. She steps forward and hugs Puck again, smiling at Beth, and then most of the room empties.
“I don’t know what to say,” Puck admits to the four who are left in the room.
“I don’t think you have to say anything,” Mercedes tells him. “I don’t know what to say, either. None of this makes any sense.”
Puck shakes his head. “No.” He looks up from Beth towards Mercedes. “Do you want to hold her?”
“You don’t mind?” Mercedes asks, already holding out her arms.
“I can’t hold her all the time,” Puck says wryly, carefully placing Beth in Mercedes’ arms. “Just watch out if she starts rumbling.”
“I’ve had baby cousins. I know what the rumbling means,” Mercedes assures him. She cradles Beth to her chest, staring down at her. “I think she’s got Quinn’s nose,” Mercedes continues, her voice cracking as tears start to roll down her cheeks.
“Lucky girl,” Puck says softly. “Curly hair, though.”
“There are worse things,” Schue says weakly, clearly trying to lighten the mood even just a little.
“Is Mrs. Fabray going to take her soon, or does she have to stay here for a while?” Mercedes asks through sniffles, wiping at her eyes with the arm not holding Beth. “Is there a certain amount of time Beth has to stay here?”
“No,” Puck says. “I mean, Mrs. Fabray isn’t taking her. I think they want her here at least a day, but I guess I’ll ask the nurse when he comes back. I don’t really remember what they said.”
“Oh. So who’s going to take her?” Mercedes asks, rocking Beth slowly in her arms.
“Uh.” Puck wipes his hands on his pants, his arms feeling weirdly empty. “I am. I guess it’ll be a surprise for my mom.” Kurt’s head jerks up, the first time he’s really moved from just supporting Mercedes, and he stares silently at Puck, who tries not to make eye contact with him. He avoids looking at Schue, too, since he can tell Schue’s mouth is hanging open.
“You’re keeping her?” Mercedes’ voice is sharper than before, though her eyes are still wet. “Quinn wanted her to go to a good, stable home, Puck. Do you know anything at all about taking care of a baby?”
"I know how to feed her. I know how to change her diaper." He grins, a little sadly. "I know what music she likes."
Schue chuckles very quietly, and it sounds kind of sad, too. “That is important knowledge, I guess.”
Kurt makes an odd noise, like he’s about to say something, then stops and is quiet for a few more seconds before he speaks. “I could go shopping,” he offers, his voice echoing in the room, even though he’s talking quietly. “If you don’t mind my taste in baby clothes.”
Puck grins, a little less sadly than before. “Don’t tell anyone, but the song she liked the best was Gaga, so I think you’re good.”
“Excellent taste,” Kurt says, looking down at Beth in Mercedes’ arms. He nudges Mercedes very gently. Mercedes looks down at Beth one more time, smiling at her before handing her back to Puck. “We’ll bring her some clothes tomorrow,” Kurt tells Puck, starting to head for the door with Mercedes. He stops and looks over his shoulder, gesturing at Schue. “Mr. Schuester, a moment?”
“Oh, of course!” Schue pats Puck’s shoulder. “We’ll stop back in tomorrow, like Kurt said.” With that, the three of them leave, and it’s just Puck, Beth, and Finn in the room.
“C’mere,” Puck says after a few seconds pass.
Finn eyes Beth nervously and steps closer. “Is she okay?” he asks, keeping his voice low. “She looks, like, mushed or something.”
Puck laughs. “I should probably be offended you just said she was smushed up, but yeah, she is a little.” He shrugs. “She came through everything fine. Guess newborns are weird looking. Put your finger on her hand.”
Finn squints at Puck, which means he’s probably suspicious, but he does put his pointer finger tip on Beth’s palm. Beth’s fingers curl around Finn’s finger, just like Puck figured they would, and he grins at Finn. Finn’s eyes widen out of a squint, and his face slowly relaxes into what Puck would almost call amazement. Puck looks a little closer and decides not to mention Finn looks like he could cry at any second.
“She’s holding my hand,” Finn whispers. “Look. Look at her.”
“Yeah,” Puck says, still grinning. “Pretty cool, huh?”
“She’s so strong. I didn’t think brand new babies would be so strong.”
“Yeah, her neck’s not, the nurse guy said to make sure to support her neck, but I guess holding on’s important,” Puck says.
“Can I... can I hold her?” Finn asks, still staring down at Beth’s hand wrapped around his finger.
“Yeah, yeah,” Puck says quickly, shifting Beth slightly in his arms as Finn sits. It’s a horrible day, because of Quinn, but Beth makes it better, and having his best friend there makes it a little easier, too.
As Puck hands Beth to Finn, Finn mutters, “Support her neck,” clearly to himself, not to Puck.
“She, uh.” Puck watches her eyes study Finn’s face. “She needs a middle name.”
Finn’s eyebrows shoot up, and he looks a little stunned. “Are you asking me to help name her?”
“I mean, you’re my best friend,” Puck says uncomfortably, his voice dropping. “And… isn’t it kinda up to us now?”
“Oh. Oh, yeah, I—I guess it is,” Finn replies. He looks down at Beth and touches her palm again. “Quinn didn’t like any of my names.”
“I don’t know what she’d think about any of this,” Puck admits. “I don’t know that she even really liked ‘Beth’ or if she just kinda took pity on me by then. And every time someone walks past the door, a part of me expects it to be her telling me I can’t hope to take care of Beth. But I’m what Beth’s got, now, so—she needs a middle name.”
“Well, Quinn really hated ‘Drizzle’, so I started looking at some other names,” Finn says. “And, well, my grandma’s name was Rosemary, and that’s kind of nice.”
“Beth Rosemary,” Puck says slowly.
Finn looks vaguely panicked. “Or, you know, if you don’t like it, maybe, uh. Sage! Or, um... Juniper?”
“Spices?” Puck asks, feeling amused in spite of everything. “No to Beth Basil, okay? Beth Sage. Beth Juniper. What sounds the most badass?”
“Probably Juniper,” Finn says.
“Beth Juniper Puckerman.” Puck can feel his eyes widen. “Oh, shit, my nana’s gonna flip out, and she’ll end up planning the girl-bris. The kind without any cutting.”
Finn pulls Beth tighter against his chest. “Don’t cut her! That’s awful!”
“No, no, just the boys,” Puck assures him. “They can’t circumcise girls.”
“Maybe don’t cut anybody! I’ll just, you know, make sure nobody does that!” Finn still looks vaguely horrified, until he looks down at Beth again, at which point his face soften. “Aww. She’s sleeping.”
“Yeah, her belly’s full I guess. You can put her in the bassinette-thing if you want to, but I’ve just been holding her,” Puck says. “I’m probably going to fuck up, but at least it won’t be from neglecting her.”
“Do you want her back? I don’t mind keeping on holding her,” Finn says.
“Which is why you’re going to get phone calls at all hours,” Puck promises with a quiet laugh. “You can keep holding her until they kick you out. Which, I think most of the nurses and doctors don’t know what to think about us, so they might not kick you out as early.”
“Yeah, it’s cool,” Puck says.
“Okay,” Finn says. He wiggles his finger out of Beth’s grasp and lightly strokes her forehead and the almost non-existent bridge of her nose. “So... are you okay? Do you need to, I don’t know, talk about it yet?”
“Everything happened so fast,” Puck says softly. “I mean, there were all these machines anyway, and then they’re beeping, and moving Quinn out of the room, and I was supposed to wait outside—I guess it was an OR. Huh.” Puck shrugs. “I didn’t think about it that way, though. And then here comes this nurse, you know, pushing that thing with Beth curled up inside it.” Puck shakes his head. “Maybe if everything had gone smoothly, you know, and I’d just seen her through a window, or for just a few minutes or something, I could’ve signed the papers.”
“But not now,” Finn says. Puck looks over at Finn and Beth, and he watches the tears falling down Finn’s face before they drip off.
“Yep.” Puck sighs. “Forget weddings, this is the ‘for better or for worse’ stuff.”
“Yeah,” Finn agrees softly. He sniffles a little, then leans back against the seat, also leaning closer to Puck. “I’m sorry, Puck.”
“This is a fucked up world,” Puck says with a nod. “You and me, we have to make it a little less fucked up for Beth.”
Finn nods his agreement. After a long pause, he finally says, “I missed you, dude.”
Puck bumps his shoulder against Finn’s, not hard enough to jostle Beth. “I missed you, too. I told her earlier, I wouldn’t take everything back, ‘cause well. Look at her. But I missed you.”
“Whatever you guys need, you know I’m good for it, right?” Finn says. “Anything.”
“You can start with getting an Indians t-shirt for her,” Puck says with a little grin. “You know Kurt and Mercedes are going to forget about jerseys and baseball hats when they go shopping.”
“I can do that,” Finn promises.
“Awesome.” Puck glances at the bed in the room, then at the door. “I don’t really know anything about babies except they don’t let you sleep, so if you’re good, I’m going to nap now before they kick you out.”
“I’ll look after her while you’re sleeping. Don’t worry,” Finn says. “We’ll be here when you wake up.”
“Thanks, dude,” Puck says, standing up and taking off his shirt before lying down in his pants and undershirt. They might kick Finn out soon, but Puck’s mostly lost track of what time it is outside the hospital room, and he has a feeling Beth can’t read a clock either. As he falls asleep, he can barely hear Finn humming, Beth still in his arms.
For the first few seconds after Puck wakes up, he’s just confused. The bed feels weird, the room smells funny, and he can’t remember exactly where he is. Then everything from the day before floods back into his mind, and he sits up a little too fast, because he feels way too rested for just an hour or two’s worth of sleep. The room is mostly dark, and he blinks as his eyes try to adjust.
“Finn?” he whispers loudly. He doesn’t get a response, but as he squints in the low light, he can see Finn standing near the door, holding Beth or something very Beth-shaped, and talking to someone that Puck doesn’t recognize.
“Well, I mean, I guess I’m kinda like her other dad?” Finn says.
Puck nods, even though Finn and whoever is at the door can’t see him. It’s close enough. Maybe if they’d thought of Beth having two dads earlier on, things wouldn’t have gotten so weird with the three of them.
The other person—a woman, and as Puck’s eyes adjust, he decides she might be a nurse—says something else quietly to Finn. Finn nods his head vigorously.
“Yeah, cool, thanks,” he says. The nurse hands him what looks like a bottle before leaving, closing the door behind her, and Finn looks down at Beth. “I guess I’m gonna learn how to feed you now.”
“Luckily that part’s pretty easy,” Puck says quietly through a grin. He settles back against the bed, watching the two of them, and one of Beth’s hands is free enough from the blanket that it waves around for a minute. “You think she knows who we are?” he asks, watching Finn with her.
“Hey,” Finn says. “Did you sleep okay? I tried not to wake you up, but the nurse was loud.”
“Yeah. Longer than I expected,” Puck admits. “Hey, Bethie-girl.”
“Did you want her back? You probably want her back,” Finn says, holding his arms out towards Puck.
“You feed her, I’ll burp her,” Puck offers.
“You sure? I think she likes you better. I mean, obviously she does, ‘cause you’re her dad,” Finn says, still offering Beth. “Hi, Dad!” Finn continues in a high pitched voice. “I’m hungry and this guy is too tall!”
“Oh my god,” Puck says, laughing and reaching out for her. “Too tall, huh, Bethie?” He settles her in his arms and then reaches out for the bottle.
“Yes,” Finn continues in the high pitched voice. “It was too high up. I was scared.”
“You’ll get used to it,” Puck tells Beth, offering her the bottle after taking it from Finn. “You’re a Puckerman, and that means you’re a badass, so pretty soon you’ll be telling him he’s not tall enough.”
“Not tall enough? If I were taller, she’d get a nosebleed,” Finn protests.
“You can help her climb trees, at least,” Puck says. “Look at her eat. That’s my girl!”
Finn laughs. “Look at you, baby-talking her.”
Puck looks up, shaking his head, and he opens his mouth before he stops and shrugs, grinning kind of wryly at Finn. “Guess we’re all gonna have to get used to it,” he says. “I probably am crazy, keeping her. But look at her. I’m her dad. That’s kinda crazy, too.”
“She seems like she likes you,” Finn says. “She’s glad she’s staying with you. I can tell.”
“Yeah, she does seem to like me okay,” Puck agrees, looking back down at Beth and watching her eat. “And she eats like a Puckerman. Everything’s just gonna be different, is all.”
“Yeah. It is,” Finn says.
“Some of it’s bad different,” Puck says softly, thinking about Quinn for the first time since he woke up and promptly panicked over sleeping so long. “Some of it’s not bad, though. Maybe some of it’ll even be good different.”
“And you’re not alone with all of this, okay?” Finn says. “You know you’ve got all of us, including me. Maybe especially me.”
Puck nods, because he knows things are going to change, but he doesn’t want one of those changes to be bawling in the middle of the night on Finn’s shoulder. Beth finishes her bottle, letting it fall out of her mouth, and Puck picks up one of the spare blankets and throws it over his shoulder. He clears his throat as he shifts Beth.
“You wanna learn how to burp a baby?” he manages finally.
“Sure,” Finn says. “Is it hard?”
“Not so far,” Puck says proudly. “She just lets it rip.” He hoists her up on his shoulder and starts patting her back, which produces a loud burp within the first five or six pats. “See?”
Finn laughs out loud. “That’s a lot louder than I expected!”
“Just think, she’s only a newborn. Who knows what she’ll sound like by August or September,” Puck says with a big grin as he lowers Beth from his shoulder. “Right, Bethie? You’ll win all the baby burping contests.”
“Are there baby burping contests?”
“It sounds like something at the county fair, doesn’t it?” Puck asks. “If they don’t already have it, they should add it.”
“Yeah, and she’d win for sure,” Finn says. “Oh, and that dude-nurse came by and said there was food for you. They wouldn’t let anybody back because it was past visiting hours.”
“Oh, yeah, that’s right, they were bringing food. Where is it?” Puck asks, because now that Finn’s mentioned it, he does feel hungry. “Did you eat?”
“No, I was holding Beth. Besides, I had to look like I belonged here, or they were gonna kick me out, too!”
“I bet the dude-nurse wouldn’t have. You want to go find it? We can split it or something, if they brought enough for both of us.”
“Sure,” Finn says. “I’ll be right back.” He stands up and gives Beth one more longing look before leaving the little room in search of food.
“See, we have to eat, too,” Puck tells Beth. “Your dad hasn’t had anything since lunch, which was a long time ago. And probably—huh.” Puck stops, looking at the door and then back at Beth. “What are we going to call Finn, Bethie?” Beth promptly spits up, and Puck wipes it away while he shakes his head. “No, ‘spit up’ isn’t a good name.”
Another couple of minutes pass, Puck trying to figure out if ‘Uncle Finn’ sounds really weird or not, before Finn returns. Finn comes through the door with what looks like the top from a cardboard box full of food, which he sets down on the floor near Puck’s feet.
“There’s a few sandwiches, some chips, I think some chocolate chip cookies,” Finn says. “I guess they’d figure you’d be here awhile.”
“Awesome, we can split it, and I bet in the morning you can get us stuff from the cafeteria. Hospitals always have a cafeteria.” Puck picks up one of the bags of chips, carefully opening it and then setting it on top of Beth’s legs. “What time is it, anyway?”
“Midnight-ish. You were out for a while. I called my mom, so she knows where I’m at,” Finn explains.
“Yeah, okay,” Puck says through a mouthful of chips. “I figured I wasn’t even going to try to explain this to mine over the phone, y’know?”
“She said she’d come pick us up tomorrow, if you need her to.”
“Yeah, that’s—oh shit, don’t babies have to have some kind of special seat?” Puck asks, making a face. “Remember when my sister was little?”
“Dude, my mom already said something about getting her a baby seat,” Finn says. “It’s cool. Don’t stress about it.”
“And I can’t drive her around in my crappy truck,” Puck continues. “I have to get some kind of kid-friendly thing. I am not getting one of those signs, though.”
“I don’t think you have to freak out about that stuff right now,” Finn says. He reaches over and pats shoulder, then sits down next to him again, getting one of the sandwiches from the box top. “This one looks like ham and cheddar. Want half?”
“Yeah, that sounds good,” Puck agrees. “Don’t worry, Beth, I’m not going to make you keep kosher, okay?”
Finn hands Puck half of the sandwich, also spreading a napkin open over Beth. “Don’t want to drop food all over her,” Finn explains.
“Yeah, I think they have to have teeth to eat food,” Puck agrees. He takes a bite and almost finishes chewing it before he continues. “So you need a name, dude.”
“Uh. I have a name.”
“No, for her to call you,” Puck says. “You have to have a baby-name.”
“Oh. She can’t just call me Finn?” Finn asks.
“Aren’t babies supposed to get to call people baby-names?” Puck says. “The people they see a lot, anyway.”
“Are they?” Finn frowns and scratches his head. “What were you thinking of?”
“I don’t know,” Puck admits. “I got to ‘Uncle Finn’ and thought that sounded weird, but at least your name isn’t Sam.”
“I can be Uncle Finn,” Finn says.
“There you go, Bethie,” Puck says to her through another mouthful. “Uncle Finn. You’ll get used to how tall he is.” Beth yawns, and then starts rumbling. “I guess it’s that time.”
“What’s that noise mean?” Finn asks.
“Poop,” Puck answers with a shrug. “There’s diapers and everything under the bassinette-thing.” He puts Beth on the bed in front of him, unwrapping her blankets. “You figured you’d gone too long without a diaper change, huh?”
Finn finds diapers and baby wipes under the bassinette, handing them to Puck. Puck wrinkles his nose as he unfastens the diaper, but it doesn’t take him quite as long to wipe her clean as it did the first time.
“You really know what you’re doing,” Finn says, sounding impressed.
Puck laughs as he puts a new diaper on Beth. “I have no fucking clue,” he admits. “This thing could be on backwards. I just figure clean and not leaking is the goal.”
“It looks like it’s on right, at least,” Finn says. “You need me to hold her again, so you can go pee or something?”
“You can hold her even if I don’t need to pee,” Puck says with a smirk, but he hands Beth to Finn and then slides off the bed, heading into the bathroom and splashing some water on his face before exiting it. “You think anyone thought about bringing us different clothes?”
“Probably not,” Finn says.
“Yeah, you’re probably right,” Puck says, sitting back on the bed. “She looks like you’re confusing her.”
“She’s probably just wondering where you went.”
“I can’t use a diaper, Beth,” Puck informs her. “Or I don’t, anyway.” He shrugs and looks at Finn. “We should probably all try to sleep for now.”
“I can stay up with her if you need me to,” Finn says. “She’s awake now.”
“Yeah, you just want to tell her embarrassing stories about me,” Puck says. “I see how it is. Don’t listen to everything Uncle Finn says, okay Bethie-girl?”
“She knows I’d never lie to her,” Finn insists. “You sleep.”
“You’re gonna have to sleep at some point, too,” Puck points out. “Next time she eats, we’ll switch.”
“Yeah, but I can go home and fall on my bed and sleep all night and day if I have to,” Finn says.
“Listen to you bragging,” Puck jokes, lying back on the bed. “I’m still making you go get breakfast in the cafeteria as soon as it opens.”
“Sure thing, dude,” Finn says.
Puck doesn’t wake up for a long time, or at least that’s what he figures, because there’s sun coming in the window and he can hear what sounds like most of the glee club outside the door. He turns towards Finn, who is still holding Beth but is asleep sitting up, and Puck sits himself up in time for the door to open.
“Noah?” Rachel’s voice says loudly behind the drawn curtain.
“Shh, they’re still asleep,” Puck answers, standing up and pulling the curtain back.
“Are you supposed to sleep holding the baby?” Mercedes asks.
“She doesn’t want to sleep in that plastic box,” Puck says, shaking his head. “I bet it’d be cold.”
“She likes me,” Finn says without opening his eyes.
“Okay, so only Beth’s still asleep,” Puck amends. He looks around at everyone, who are all standing more or less how they did the night before. The only real difference is Kurt is carrying three large shopping bags, which he walks forward and puts on the bed.
“It’s mostly newborn and zero to three months size,” he says to Puck, “but there’s a few larger things as well, and a large box of diapers.”
Puck blinks, looking at the size of the bags. “That’s all baby clothes?”
“That’s not even a lot of baby clothes,” Mercedes says. “You do know you have to change a baby’s clothes like three or four times a day, right?”
“What, do you have change them every time you change their diaper or something?” Puck asks. “She’s had the same little t-shirt on all night.”
“She’s also a newborn. Once she gets out of here, you’ll see. She’ll be pooping and peeing and spitting up all over everything,” Mercedes says.
“She’s already good at the pooping. And the burping,” Puck says with a grin. “She awake yet?” he asks Finn.
“Soon, I think. She’s making the scrunchy face.”
“Wake up, Bethie, so we can get breakfast,” Puck says, sitting down next to Finn.
“Hummel and Mercedes said you’re keeping her,” Santana says. “Is that true?”
“Yeah. I am,” Puck says, looking up at Santana briefly. She looks both incredulous and judgmental, and Puck fights the urge to try to justify himself.
“Is she going to sleep in your sock drawer like in that movie?” Brittany asks.
“What?” Puck shakes his head. “No, she’ll just, I don’t know. Sleep with me.”
“Is that safe? I think that my Auntie’s baby book said you shouldn’t ever let a baby sleep in your bed,” Mercedes says.
“She’s been sleeping with us all night she’s okay, see?” Finn says, tilting his arms so Beth’s face is visible. “She likes it.”
“Yeah, she’s a pretty happy girl so far,” Puck says. “Thanks for the food last night, by the way.”
“You’re quite welcome,” Rachel pipes up. “Most of us are heading back to Lima when we leave here. Do you know if Beth will be discharged today?”
Puck shrugs. “I guess so. She’s healthy and she’s eating and pooping and everything.”
“You’ll need to get a pediatrician for her as soon as possible, of course,” Rachel starts lecturing. “I’ll make sure and ask my dads which developmental toys they found the best at helping me to realize my full potential, so you can replicate that list. And I’m sure you’ll want to enroll her in—”
“Aw, hey, she pooped again!” Finn announces loudly. “Everybody should probably go out of the room so you can change her diaper, Puck!”
Puck gives Finn a weird look, because he didn’t hear Beth rumble, but he nods. “Yeah, ‘cause of, uh. Modesty.” He looks at Kurt and Mercedes. “You two can pick out one of her outfits or whatever.”
“I’ll go get some coffee for us,” Finn says, as he stands, hands Beth off to Puck, and walks towards the door, waving his arms. “And everybody else can wait out of the room, right here, come on and wait out here.”
Kurt goes straight for whatever it is he has in mind, quickly handing Puck a baby t-shirt and a pair of baby pants with a small smile before he and Mercedes follow the rest of them out the door.
“Guess you’re going to coordinate or whatever now,” Puck says to Beth as he takes off the t-shirt the hospital put on her. “Yeah, your diaper’s still dry, so that’s nice, right?” It takes a few minutes to maneuver the fresh t-shirt on and then pull the pants up, but he manages it, and then realizes there were tiny baby socks wrapped up in the pants. “Socks, too,” he tells Beth seriously, putting them on and then scooping her back up. “You’ll have to tell Kurt and Mercedes thank you, huh? I would have picked out more white t-shirts, not purple and pink flowers.”
A few more minutes pass before Finn pops his head back into the room. “Oh, still wiping her down?” he asks in an unnecessarily loud voice. He winks at Puck before continuing, “I’ll come give you a hand.” Once he’s in the room, he shuts the door behind him and holds up cups of coffee in each hand.
“Awesome,” Puck says. “Why the espionage?”
“Did you really want to sit through Rachel’s thirty-two point plan for Beth’s performance future?” Finn asks.
“Oh, yeah, good point. I guess she was right about the pediatrician, though,” Puck says, taking one of the cups of coffee from Finn. “You should send her to get us breakfast. Well, not just her, someone that eats meat should go with her.”
“I’ll get Mike or Matt to take her.”
“Yeah, that sounds like a good plan,” Puck agrees. “Oh, hey, look at her stare at the coffee cup! You think she thinks this is our bottle?”
“Maybe she just wants some coffee,” Finn says, moving his cup around, possibly to see if Beth’s eyes will follow it.
"Sorry, Bethie, you've got to be at least a week old," Puck jokes. "Only formula until then. Did they give you another bottle when you were out there?" he asks Finn.
“I talked to the ladies at the nurses’ station thingy,” Finn says. “They said they’d bring in a pack of the already-mixed kind. Oh, and I asked them when we could get you guys out of here, and they said she’s only gotta stay here until she’s 24-hours old. So, I can tell my mom to come at like three-ish?”
“Yeah, yeah, that sounds good,” Puck agrees. “Hear that, Beth? We’re going to get you out of here!” He tilts her towards Finn for a moment. “I told her she was more colorful than if I’d picked out her clothes.”
“That’s a pretty outfit, Beth,” Finn coos at her. He glances back up at Puck, “How long until the Gerber Baby look kicks in?”
“I don’t know,” Puck admits. “Maybe we should ask your mom to stop at a bookstore and get a book or something.”
“Plus, we can ask her a lot of question. She knows all about that baby stuff,” Finn says.
“Yeah, that’s true,” Puck says as a nurse comes in with a pack of formula. “Is there anything else we have to do before we leave this afternoon?” he asks the nurse.
“There’s a pediatrician on staff who’ll come by to examine her later,” the nurse says. “It shouldn’t delay leaving, though.”
“Okay, cool,” Puck says, taking the pack of formula and eyeing it as she leaves. “I probably don’t want to know how much this stuff costs, do I?”
“We should see if they’ll give you some more before you leave,” Finn says. “I bet it’s really expensive.”
“Yeah, that’s what I’m guessing,” Puck agrees. “And she’s a good eater, too.” He grins at Beth, whose face scrunches a little. “Yeah, you want some breakfast?”
“I’ll be back in a second,” Finn says. He opens the door and says something quietly, though Puck guesses it has something to do with people leaving. Rachel protests, and there’s some murmuring before Finn says something else. Puck still can’t tell what he’s saying, but he knows Finn well enough to know it’s unapologetic. Beth starts drinking her bottle enthusiastically, and Puck grins at her as Finn returns.
“I’m gonna learn how to garden or something to feed her after formula,” Puck jokes.
“She’ll have to eat all her vegetables so she can grow up big and strong,” Finn says. “Do you think you’ll put her in softball or something? Maybe she could play peewee football.”
“Hear that, Beth? Uncle Finn’s got your athletic career figured out. Rachel’s going to have you performing. We’ll put Kurt in charge of academics, what do you think?” Puck says to Beth, but he smirks at Finn. “Everybody leave?”
“Yeah, I told them they had to go home,” Finn says.
Puck nods. “Yeah, I can do without the audience scoring me on this.”
The pediatrician’s exam doesn’t take too long, and she tells Puck that yes, Beth is healthy, and Puck should take her to see her own pediatrician by the end of the week. After that, it’s just a matter of waiting for the discharge papers and for Carole to show up. Carole makes it before the discharge papers, knocking on the door while Puck’s giving Beth yet another bottle.
“Hi boys,” Carole says as she pushes the door open. “Oh, Noah. She’s beautiful, honey!”
“Thanks,” Puck says. “She’s mostly red and a good eater right now.”
“Just like a perfectly normal newborn,” Carole says. “Boys, I’m so, so sorry to hear about Quinn.”
“Thanks, Mom,” Finn says.
“Yeah,” Puck says softly. “That part of all this doesn’t seem real.” Puck would even admit to himself that it’s easier not to think about it, especially when there’s so many other things to think about.
“Well, we don’t need to talk about any of that right now,” Carole assures him.
“We’re just waiting on the discharge papers,” Puck says. “Is that the thing for the car?”
“It sure is. Why don’t we put her in the seat and get the straps adjusted?” Carole suggests. “We want—Finn said her name is Beth?”
“Yeah. Beth Juniper,” Puck says, grinning at Finn. “Just sit her in the bucket part?”
“Yes, just set her right there. You’ll need to move those straps,” Carole says, hovering over Puck as he puts Beth into the seat. “No, you need to move that part. No, sweetie, the straps don’t go there, they go—”
“Hey, Mom?” Finn says. “Can you help me figure out how much formula and diapers and stuff Puck’s gonna need for Beth when he brings her home?”
Puck makes a face at Beth as he pulls on the various straps. “You’ll laugh at me soon enough,” he whispers to her. “I’m guessing none of these go over your head, so they probably go like this, what do you think?”
While he’s trying to get the straps untwisted and in the place at the same time, he can hear Finn talking to Carole along with going through the formula and diapers the hospital provided.
“Car seats can be confusing, Finn,” Carole loud-whispers to Finn. “Even for experienced parents!”
“He can do it, okay? Just let him try. He’s good at this stuff,” Finn insists.
“I think your straps are too loose,” Puck says to Beth. “Considering I can stick my arm through them. What do you think?” Beth waves her arms around, turning her head from side to side, and Puck looks over at the bassinette-thing. “You think she wants to take a pacifier? My little sister sucked her thumb for years and that was kinda gross.”
“We can stop at the Babies R’ Us on the way back to your place, Noah,” Carole says. “We’ll pick up everything you’ll need to get started. Don’t worry, and I’m sure your mother still has some of Nicki’s old baby things around somewhere. A tub, maybe even her crib.”
“Babies need special tubs?” Finn asks. “I thought you could just wash them in the sink?”
“I just figured I’d take a bath with her,” Puck says, nodding a little. “I mean, I guess she’s too young to take a shower.”
“Well, Noah, sweetie, the first time she poops in the tub with you in it, I think you’ll understand why.”
“Ew, Mom!” FInn says, grimacing. “That’s so gross!”
“I’m just trying to be helpful, Finn,” Carole says.
“You wouldn’t poop in the tub with Dad in it, would you?” Puck asks Beth, who is starting to look either tired or bored. “Yeah, she says she’s gonna wait until you’re giving her a bath, Finn.”
“Beth! That’s so uncool!” Finn says. He leans in and whispers, “Do it for Granny Carole.”
Beth stares at Finn for a moment, then closes her eyes, and Puck shrugs. “Guess that’s a yes. Hand me one of those blankets?”
“Does she have a hat? Noah, that baby needs a hat!” Carole says. “You can’t take her outside in this weather without a hat on.”
“She has more hair than me,” Puck points out, digging into his pockets and pulling out the hat he’d stuffed in there. “I don’t think it matches her fancy outfit, though.”
“If it were up to me, you’d be wearing a hat, too,” Carole huffs.
“I bet Kurt and Mercedes could pick out some really nice hats,” Finn says.
“Hell, they might have,” Puck admits, putting the hat on Beth and gesturing to the shopping bags. “I didn’t go through any of it yet.”
There’s another knock at the door, and a nurse comes in with a clipboard full of papers. Puck has to sign half of them, and the other half are instructions about baby things. Puck folds them in half and sticks them in the shopping bag, then looks at Finn and Carole. “Well, let’s go, I guess.”
Carole does stop at the Babies R’ Us after they leave the hospital, and Puck doesn’t spend nearly as much as he could have, or as Carole does, but it adds three more shopping bags to the collection in the back of Carole’s car. Puck opens up the pacifiers and offers one to Beth, who sucks on it approvingly, and then hands one of the two books they bought to Finn.
“Here, tell Beth about how amazing she is, since that’s what the book says,” Puck jokes.
“She's the most amazingest baby ever,” Finn coos at Beth. “Hey, this book has a lot of pictures. Are you gonna get Beth’s picture taken?”
“Yeah, I guess,” Puck says. “Don’t want to forget the red mushy stage, right Bethie?” Beth’s eyes close as she keeps sucking on the pacifier and Carole continues on the way to Lima. It isn’t until they’re back in Lima that Puck starts wondering what people who aren’t in glee club know about the entire damn weekend, and he realizes he has no idea what the results of Regionals were, either. Puck closes his own eyes for a moment, opening them when they pull up in front of his house.
Puck reaches over to get Beth out of the seat, putting the blanket over her once she’s propped on his shoulder. “Let me figure out where to bring everything, and I’ll come back out and get it,” Puck says to Carole, stepping out of the car and closing the door behind him as he walks up towards the front door. He digs awkwardly in his pockets for his keys, then looks down at Beth.
“C’mon, let’s go meet some more people.”