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Legally By 30

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“It’s the last time,” Rachel says mournfully. “The last time it’s going to be like this, you guys.”

“Don’t be sad, girl.” Mercedes shakes her head. “This is exciting! Most of us going on to new things, a few staying here to carry on our torch… we got it good, Rachel Hudson-Berry.”

“I wonder where we’ll all be in the future,” Rachel continues, and Puck shakes his head, standing up to refill his drink.

Whiskey will make Rachel’s game of let’s pretend more palatable, hopefully, and wasn’t it supposed to be a celebration anyway? Puck feels like celebrating; in February, he wasn’t sure he would actually graduate, but he got a diploma just like the rest of the seniors. The first decent thing Schue had done for Puck in months, actually, and one of the few total; after that conversation in the auditorium, Schue had made Puck meet with Ms. Pillsbury.

It hadn’t been the most fun thing ever, and involved more actual schoolwork than Puck had done since middle school, but Ms. P had totally found a way to count his pool cleaning business and his steady gig at Westwood as actual classes. It was the weirdest transcript a college would ever see, she’d said, and Puck had just snorted. College. Right. Him?

Ms. Pillsbury kept pushing, though, made him send in an actual application to OSU-Lima and then started talking about some kind of tests and grants and a bunch of shit Puck doesn’t really understand, but Ms. P finally made him promise to come see her within a week after graduation.

Puck figures he might as well get it over with the day after graduation, which means the shots of whiskey he’s drinking at the glee club graduation party aren’t the best idea, maybe, but he doubts he’ll understand it any more or less, hangover or no hangover.

“What age?” Tina asks. “I mean, some of you have a year’s headstart on life! And you two,” she points to Rachel and Finn. “You two have a real headstart!”

The Hudson-Berrys (and that is still a mindfuck, if Puck’s being honest) laugh and Rachel blushes a little before they exchange a long kiss, and Puck rolls his eyes behind their backs before he sits back down with the others.

“Hmm. Thirty!” Rachel declares. “Where we’ll be by thirty!” She actually leaps out of Finn’s arms, and Puck considers writing down that Rachel voluntarily left Finn’s side, as she scurries to her bag. The reason is all too obvious when she comes back with a pink pad of paper and a gold-star topped pen. “Everyone can say their goal and I’ll write it down. I know we won’t all keep in touch continuously, but we have to help each other out with our goals, when we can!”

“How can we help with each other’s goals?” Kurt asks. “If, for instance, you want to be on Broadway, it’s not like any of us are going to be casting a Broadway show.”

“But you can all provide encouragement! And who knows, maybe we can help more directly with some of these goals! I’ll go first.”

Puck groans to himself. This isn’t going to go well. Some people will take it seriously, some others will take it completely not seriously, and then Puck’s going to feel a sense of obligation to help Brittany own a cat shelter or something.

“Nah, Rach, let everyone else go first,” Finn says, smiling dopily at Rachel. Puck would feel bad for thinking his once best friend looks dopey, but Finn doesn’t exactly have time for anyone but Rachel these days, and sometimes Kurt. Probably only Kurt because they’re brothers, because Sam lives in the same house as Kurt, and Sam’s definitely lumped in with the rest of them.

Then again, that might be Sam’s choice. The Hudson-Berrys divide their time week by week between the Hudmel house and the Berry house, and the weeks that the Hudson-Berrys are in residence at the Hudmel house, Puck definitely sees even more of Sam, and all of the guys tend to congregate elsewhere. Kurt never says a word about it, just looks long-suffering. At first, Blaine tried to cheer him up, but Puck guesses that after a few months of it, they both got sick of the relationship being about everyone else but them. Kurt was the one to officially end the relationship, but at least it seems amicable. The only real difference, as far as Puck can tell, is that Kurt’s gone on a couple of dates with that Sebastian kid, which is weird, and Blaine and Kurt don’t hold hands any more.

“Oh, all right.” Rachel looks to her other side, where Quinn is sitting, and while Puck’s never going to be in love with her again, the sight of her awake, smiling, and not in that damn wheelchair is a really, really good one. “Quinn?”

“I want to have earned some kind of televised award for acting,” Quinn says with a small smile. “I’m not picky. It doesn’t have to be an Oscar or an Emmy. I’ll even settle for People’s Choice.” She laughs and after a moment, most of the rest of them do, too. “It just has to be an awards show shown on national television.” Quinn looks over at Santana and Brittany, sitting beside her. “Girls?”

“I want to own a treatment program for cats that are addicted,” Brittany says, and Puck shakes his head at how close he came to guessing. “Inpatient residential treatment so they can get back to a life of purring and non-addictive catnip usage.”

To Rachel’s credit, she doesn’t falter before adding Brittany’s goal to her notes, just starts writing underneath where she transcribed Quinn’s goal.

“I just want to be flattop and jicama free,” Santana says, and Puck gets what she’s saying. How can they predict what they’ll want as a goal, even two or three years from now. Puck’s goals changed just since sophomore year.

“I still want to buy my parents a house.” Sam shrugs. “If I manage to do it before age thirty, yeah, that’d be completely awesome.”

Mercedes looks almost sheepish, which is odd, so Puck decides he’ll wait to get another rum and Coke, and hear what she comes up with instead. “I’ve never told anyone this,” she says, “but I really want to be on American Idol. So I guess in terms of my goal–I want to be in the top twenty-four. But if I make there, you guys need to vote for me!”

The next two are Rory and Blaine, and Puck doesn’t care that much, so that seems like a great time to get another drink, and some food, too, which means Puck sits down as Artie’s telling them all about his goal. “Cannes or Sundance or another major indie film festival, I want to show one of my movies someplace like that, definitely.”

“That sounds so cool, Artie,” Tina says. “My goal is a terminal degree in whatever field I end up choosing. PhD, MFA, JD, MD, whatever it is. I don’t know what I want to do, but I have another few months to choose colleges, even.”

“Dance at Carnegie Hall,” Mike says, like it’s self-explanatory, and it more or less is.

That means it’s Puck’s turn, though, and like Santana, he’s not sure he wants to give an honest, heartfelt answer, even if he knew one off the top of his head. He wants his sister to graduate high school. He wants to get out of Lima. He wants to see Beth again, but Shelby asked him not to contact her until at least September, so he’s waiting for that.

“Recording contract,” Puck throws out, because it’s something expected out of him. And, well, hell, if one of them managed to help him actually get one? That would get him out of Lima, help him help his sister, and definitely up his chances of seeing Beth again.

“Wow, these are all so different!” Rachel gushes before Kurt can start. “So amazing, you guys. Kurt? What’s yours? Broadway?”

“Broadway isn’t a goal, Rachel, it’s destiny.” Kurt smirks at her briefly before sobering. “No, unlike some of you who don’t have to consider such things, my goal is shockingly simple. I’d like to be married legally by age thirty. Preferably in any state I visit, but I’ll settle for it being legal in my state of residence, if necessary.”

It’s one of the few times Puck’s heard that level of bitterness out of Kurt, but he’s not surprised. The first week that the Hudson-Berrys were at the Hudmel house, Kurt and Sam had met Puck at the movie theatre, the rest of the guys all doing something else or working. After the movie, Puck had asked what it was like, living with the newlyweds, and Kurt had just exploded.

“It’s all a big lark to them,” he’d said, face contorted. “Oh, look! We can just go to the justice of the peace and make a lifetime commitment practically on the spur of the moment. Congratulations to us! With this piece of paper, we can go anywhere we want to go in the country and people will automatically recognize our marriage, as ill-conceived and hastily arranged as it is!” Kurt had scowled at Sam and Puck. “I know, it’s not your faults. But how hard it is for me if I want to get married, the legal hoops I have to jump through just to get the same rights they paid fifty dollars in cash for! And were granted immediately!”

So, no, Puck isn’t particularly surprised by the hint of bitterness, but apparently he and Sam and Blaine were the only people who knew about it, because the rest of them, including Finn, look a little stunned. Rachel does take a little longer to start writing, this time, and she has to prod Finn to share his goal.

“Uh, oh, I don’t know,” Finn says. “I mean, I already have a lot of great stuff in my life.” Another dopey smile at Rachel, and Puck wonders if maybe they should record Finn and show him how he looks. “But, uh, you know, like Mercedes, I never really told anyone this before, but I’ve always wanted to own a pizza parlor.”

There’s some laughter, starting with Rachel, and Finn looks briefly surprised for a moment before he starts to laugh as well. Puck shakes his head. If it weren’t totally douchey, he’d start a pool on what year the divorce happens. Unfortunately, he’s already been informed by four different parties of facts that mean no one can bet on an annulment instead.

“Well, as you all probably guessed, my goal is to have a starring role in a Broadway production.” She’s right; they all pretty much guessed that, and Puck even wonders if the entire exercise wasn’t so Rachel would have an excuse to update them all on her ‘progress’ for the next twelve or thirteen years.

What kind of parents were the Berrys, anyway, letting a seventeen year old get married? Rachel’s not even turning eighteen until December.

“I’ll type all of these up,” Rachel says, “and post them on our Facebook group, and we’ll keep each other updated on our progress and things. If someone needs help, I’ll let everyone know. If I don’t hear from you, I’ll be in touch!”

Yeah, definitely a plot to keep them all updated on her life, and Puck sort of doubts they’ll be asked to help with anyone else’s goals. It’s not like any of them are going to be able to send Sam money. On the other hand, he supposes some people like encouragement, and it’s not like any of them wouldn’t volunteer to get marriage equality passed wherever they are.

Puck shrugs and goes to get another drink. If Rachel doesn’t keep up with it, no harm, no foul. And if she does? Puck can probably bother to send an encouraging email or two to at least some of them. Probably emailing gross jicama recipes would be enough to help Santana out.