Howdy! I hope that everyone had a fantastic weekend! Here's an extra long chapter (most of my chapters are kind of long. I get a little over-wordy sometimes, I guess). So this is The Rhodes Not Taken, Sugar Cookie style. ;) I'm working myself up to Mash-up...working for it. Thanks as always for the lovely responses!

-Chapter Five-

***October 2003***

"I give Man-hands a day before her robo-baby kills itself."

"I give it until fifth period."

Quinn and the rest of Santana's crew cackled hysterically as the bell rang obnoxiously, ending their home-ec class. All of the girls exited carefully with their tiny robotic baby bundles. Rachel couldn't help but stare down at her ugly doll and sigh. She never even had a fake baby when she was younger. They were always creepy with their blinky, glassy eyes and rubbery skin. She had preferred stuffed unicorns…still did if she was being honest with herself. And now, the idiots that were in charge of the curriculum not only split the girls into home-ec and the boys into shop class, as if it were 1953, but they also decided that rather than teach a legitimate sexual education course they would try to scare prospective teen-aged mothers straight.

She couldn't help but snort as she looked at the cheerleaders cooing over their babies. One of them was going to end up being that sad-sack pregnant girl by the time they were sixteen and Rachel promised herself then and there that she would laugh until her funny bone fell out.

"That's the ugliest thing I've ever seen."

Rachel looked up in confusion and gave a slight smile to Mike Chang as he stared down at her baby in disgusted horror. He tore his eyes away for a second as they began walking towards the cafeteria. Mike did his best to ignore the stares coming their way. He had unwittingly fell into the highest tier of popularity through his association with Noah and Finn, and Rachel was in very last place in the popularity contest, yet he kind of felt that she couldn't really give two bits to piss about it.

He couldn't fathom why the girls had decided to make Rachel the odd girl out. Why would anyone decide to crush the soul of such a nice girl? She sang like a freaking Disney Princess and picked up all of his improvised dance moves when they had jammed out that afternoon after football ended. He had never seen someone get so into it as they had gone through at least ten popular songs that afternoon. It was like when she sang she exuded cherry flavored soda, sunshine, huge-ass lollipops, rainbows and brand new Nintendo 64 games. Who wouldn't like that stuff?

"Mike! You have to get away from her, she's going to suck your will to live straight out of you!"

Mike furrowed his brow at Santana's shout from their table. He looked to Rachel who flashed a small, quick smile and nodded before walking away from him. Well crap. Now he felt like a grade-A turd. She actually seemed to have just consented to letting him walk away a winner. Mike sat down next to Noah, who was looking at him as if he were going to hit him a little and the Asian boy managed a shrug.

"The babies are creepy," Mike said quietly by way of explanation.

Noah picked up Santana's robo-baby and by the ankle and stared at it. His baby sister was turning two soon, and not to be a total girl about it but she was kick-ass adorable, she was never as ugly and scary as this robo-baby. The mechanical crying echoed slightly as Noah jerked the creepy ass pile of rubber and wires in a circle.

"Puckerman, you ass, you're totally going to make me fail the robo-baby assignment!" Santana shrieked, yanking her precious child from his hands so hard that the head fell off. She shrieked again and Finn punched Noah's arm in a congratulatory way.

Mike stood up as Matt was approaching the table and went for the baby's head. Santana was about to thank the boy when he started kicking the baby's head as if it were a very large, very creepy hackey sack. The rest of the boys quickly joined, leaving Santana to scream random insults at them and promise to ruin their lives for the rest of all time if they didn't stop.

Later that day, Noah walked up to the choir room and he heard the now familiar mechanical crying and rolled his eyes. He would make it his personal mission to destroy all the robo-babies by the end of the assignment if it meant he didn't have to hear the crying. He had dealt with incessant baby crying for two years and he didn't want to have to go back to it now. His hand was on the doorknob when he stopped at the sound of her voice,

##"Good night my angel, time to close your eyes

And save these questions for another day

I think I know what you've been asking me

I think you know what I've been trying to say"##

Noah couldn't help the small smile that spread over his lips as she sang the soft song. He couldn't help but think it incredibly stupid and yet sort of insanely, adorably hilarious that she thought her singing could calm a ROBO-baby. He continued to listen to her sing though, knowing that she sang differently when she was relaxed than when she was on stage. There was a calmness there that normally wasn't. Sure she could belt out anything you wanted her to and she'd do it with the hugest shit-eating grin on her face, but there was something different when she wasn't singing for a crowd.

He hadn't noticed that they had company and he furrowed his brow at the hand that was placed on his shoulder. He looked up and was slightly relieved to see one of the Mr. Berry's. Micah Berry, the white, super Jewish, Mr. Berry smiled down at him sympathetically. Oh shiz-nits. It was never good when an adult smiled at you like that.

"She has a bit of a Billy Joel fascination. It was the only thing that calmed her when she was teething," Mr. Berry explained. He opened the door and ushered Noah in just noisily enough that Rachel stopped singing and looked up with an automatic blush on her face as she cradled her robo-baby. "I have some news, children. Noah's mother had to go to Pittsburgh."

Noah's eyes widened slightly in recognition and he whispered, "Is pop-pop okay?

"He's not feeling too well right now, I'm sorry Noah, but he had a mild stroke," Mr. Berry said softly.

Rachel threw her stupid robo-baby down in an instant and was at Noah's side, her tiny hand gripping his, "He's going to be okay though?"

"He's going to be good as new in no time," Mr. Berry assured him. "But your mother is going to stay there at least a week to help him out at home, to make sure he doesn't over-exert himself."

"Good," Noah nodded. "But…Amber and me?"

"You and your little sister are going to stay at our house for the week, if you're okay with that," Mr. Berry announced. "I do have to tell you that if you say no, the other Mr. Berry and I would be incredibly disappointed. We haven't had a baby girl in the house since our little Rachel grew up into a beautiful flower..."

"Daddy," Rachel smiled slightly.

"I promise it'll be fun. And I promise we'll get pizza five nights out of the seven you'll be with us," Mr. Berry cajoled.

"Shoot, Mr. Berry, you didn't have to throw in the pizza. Your house is awesome. But just a warning," Noah said seriously. He grabbed the robo-baby that had fallen on the floor and made it dance slightly in his hands, "Amber is in a dancing and eating wallpaper phase right now. And she like…climbs like a psycho monkey."

***October 2009***

"The wheelchair kid's right. That Rachel chick makes me want to light myself on fire but she can sing."

Puck shut his mouth immediately, taking a sly look around the room. No one seemed suspicious. Except, fuck. Chang who was shooting him a sort of half smirk. Puck immediately started thinking of horrible Asian insults to put the nosy ass kid in his place. He wished he wasn't getting all Mr. Myagi on him about Rachel. Sure they had shared moments in front of Mike the last six years, but his little knowing looks and knowing words were really starting to get to him. Like, get to him in a way where he knew the only topics of discussion for the next week with Chang would be "Asian drivers suck" and "You're really good at math, right?"

Even if Puck's true intentions were clear as day to Chang, Puck's words didn't seem to penetrate Mr. Schuester's thick mane of Breck hair or his thick ass skull. Puck tuned everything out from that point on because this Glee shit? Totally wasn't what he thought it would be. Rachel Berry had actually freaking quit. He had not signed up for this.

Puck glared Schue's way and realized that Rachel had been right. The teacher who constantly tried to pretend that he crapped out sunshine filled crap biscuits and loved everything and everyone actually hated Rachel. Like Schue hated Rachel with the fire of a thousand itchy STD's. What the hell? What had Rachel ever done to anyone in this club besides completely pwn their asses at singing and performing and Glee-ing? Crybabies. Every last one of them. And Schue was the giantest crybaby of them all. He was an adult and shit. He shouldn't be fucking his own club over because he had the need to break Rachel down.

And believe it, Puck had seen enough people try and break Berry down. He could see it a mile away…while rocking his hottest aviators and having his eyes closed. He packed up his stuff and was in his truck, his body on auto-pilot as he drove quickly to the Berry's house. He was at the front door knocking obnoxiously when the door was yanked open.

"Noah! It's a surprise to see you during the school year," Micah Berry smiled at the boy that had seemingly been a fixture in his daughter's life every summer the past six years. "Rachel's not here right now…"

"I know," Puck nodded. "I wanted to talk to you Mr. Berry. And the other Mr. Berry if he's around."

Michah smiled and said, "For the one thousandth time, you can call me Micah. And you can call Jerome, Jerome."

Micah gestured for Puck to enter and they both wandered to the kitchen. Micah investigated the fridge and pulled out a bottle of red Gatorade and said triumphantly, "We still have some left from the summer! I'll have to pick more up if you'll be visiting during the school year."

"Mr. Berry, Rachel quit Glee," Puck said quietly, taking the Gatorade and turning it over in his hands. "It sucks."

Micah sighed and nodded, "She told us, of course. And while I think it's a mistake, you know as well as any of us that when Rachel has her mind made up about something, it is next to impossible to try to dissuade her."

"I think our teacher kind of hates her," Puck admitted. "Like, he's jealous of her or some weird sh-stuff like that."

"Again, you know better than anyone…people take their jealousy of Rachel's talent or confidence and turn it into dislike," Micah said softly. "And usually, what has her reaction been to this behavior?"

"Stay quiet and take it forever," Puck said immediately, his voice had a hint of sorrow to it that he really didn't like. He sounded like Noah. Shit, it was October. He had to start sounding like Puck soon or else all of the last six years would have gone to waste. Hell…he wouldn't mind that actually. But she would literally ninja kick his nads off and then Riverdance on them so that they could never be sewed back on.

"Yes, quite right," Micah nodded. "Right now, she's not taking it. She's distancing herself from it. I think, that as much as I liked how much she enjoyed Glee…I like the fact that she's taking a different course of action now."

Puck nodded and gulped a swig of his Gatorade. He understood and he could accept that answer right now. He swallowed, knowing that he never felt more comfortable talking about feelings and shit than he did with Micah Berry. He thought briefly of Quinn and the fetus-baby inside of her and had to literally pinch his own thigh in order to keep his mouth shut. He wasn't ready to have this conversation yet. Certainly not with one of Rachel's dads. He smirked at the man who had secretly been a major part of his summers the last six years and said, "Mr. Berry I'll never understand how you're the accountant and the other Mr. Berry is the psychologist. You've got the psycho-analyzing mumbo-jumbo on like, major lock."

***October 2003***

"I think that the robotic baby is easier to watch than Amberlee."

Noah smirked as Rachel dove towards the steps in the living room, although her diminutive body was in no way a barrier for the gigantic baby that was his little sister. Amber took a clunking step over her and was motoring towards what Rachel deemed was a baby killer, the dreaded stairs.

"Amber!" Noah said warningly. The baby heeded the tone in his voice for a moment, looking back at her big brother with what could only be described as a cute-ass baby smirk that she stole from him and went up two of the steps.

Rachel's fear of his baby sister dying from tumbling down the steps fueled her in reaching out and grabbing the exploring toddler, picking her up as best as she could. Noah couldn't help but chuckle as Amber squirmed around, making it very difficult for Rachel to keep hold, thereby nearly dropping the girl on the ground when she had been so desperate to save her from the stairs.

"What's so funny?" Rachel demanded haughtily. "You're watching the robotic baby like a lazy oaf on the sofa. I'm actually thinking of your poor mother and how she'd feel if her child tumbled down the stairs and got irreversible brain damage…much like her firstborn."

Noah rolled his eyes and fiddled with the wires that he had exposed on the robo-baby. There was no way in the world he was going to wake up to spooky metallic baby crying. It would give him creepy assed nightmares. He was attempting to fix the baby so that it would stop making sounds and would stop needing constant attention but still reflect a perfect grade. He errantly wished that Mike Chang weren't such a miserable failure of an Asian and actually knew something about science, math and robotics.

"Do I have something metal in my backpack?" Noah wondered as Rachel continued to struggle with Amber, who was like, three-quarters of Rachel's size. In a year, Amber could definitely take her in a fight. Especially if he coached her appropriately.

Rachel placed his sister on the ground and began to root through his bookbag, fishing out a small white box. She grinned and looked back at him and held the box in front of Amber as if it were a fun toy to be unwrapped.

"You didn't do nothing to deserve that, woman!" Noah complained. "I was saving that for when I really needed it!"

"Hello? Have we met? I'm Rachel Berry! Everything I do is deserving of amazing presents!" Rachel scoffed as she and Amber opened the box and discovered a new cookie cutter in the shape of a music note.

The girls marveled at it excitedly, even though Amber didn't really know what it was and Rachel excitedly shows her dads and they turn on the oven for her so that she can bake up a batch of her cookies right away. Rachel lets Amber help her, aka make a total freaking mess all over the place. And in an hour he's got warm cookies with icing that's still really wet and gooey and perfect. The Fathers Berry pop in Shrek and they have an awesome Friday full of warm cookies, cold pizza and hilarious cartoon hijinks.

It's a pretty damned fine Friday night.

***October 2009***

"Puck…dude. Come here."

Puck looks up from his sulking spot in the choir room and stares at a really jumpy Matt Rutherford. The kid looks like he's downed eight Red Bulls and a box of Dexatrim and like he has the worst ADHD in the world.

"What's up dude? Did Jackie Chang crash his car? No offense, Wheelie."

"None taken, I'm really getting used to it," Artie shrugged, in his own little world as he fiddled with his electric guitar.

"Will you shut up for five seconds and just listen to me?" Matt demanded with so much force that Mercedes actually fanned herself in the corner of the room.

Puck did as he was told, before his friend can emasculate him further in front of the rest of the Gleek's. Yeah, he knows the word emasculate. He just spent an afternoon with the Fathers Berry. His vocab had gotten a magical booster shot for a little. He followed Matt down the hall, to where Mike was stationed against the lockers in front of a girl's restroom.

"Uh, you can't go in here. I hope you can't because I'm pretty sure you're supposed to have a penis," Puck smirked.

"Uhm, Rachel ran in there, crying," Mike said quietly, gesturing towards the bathroom. He exhaled with hint of relaxation. He felt that now that Puck was here, he was off the hook and his duty was done for the day.

"Oh…shit," Puck muttered. He didn't quite know how to handle this situation, he certainly hadn't handled it well enough the last time. Rachel never fucking cried. And if she did, it was never at school and it was never in October. He hadn't been in this position in a really long time. Crying was for the summer, dammit. "Was she slushied?"

"Nah, just ran out of the auditorium and ran in there. Saw her on my way to Glee," Mike shook his head. "Can you…like, go inside?"

"I'm pretty sure they don't have anti-boy kryptonite on the door," Matt offered helpfully.

Puck stood there for a moment, at a complete loss of what to do. He wanted to go in there and find out what had made her cry. And then he wanted to take his boys, find the person that did it and mince their reproductive parts. He took a step towards the bathroom, when suddenly a tiny blond midget cut in front of him. What was it with these sexy ass midgets everywhere? Not that Berry was sexy or anything, she was just a midget. Take that, Ma! I can totally form my own opinions about Rachel.

The three boys simply stare at the door for a moment, wondering what's going down on the other side of it. Little do they know but they're all secretly hoping that the young ingénue is letting the older cougar teach her about the healing powers of bi-curiosity. Finn approaches the threesome and wonders, "Why are you staring at the door? Is a girl pooing in there?"

Finn looks to the door in morbid, fascinated curiosity. As far as he knew, girls didn't poo, so maybe they were witnessing a magical first. Puck rolled his eyes, gripped Finn's elbow and led him down the hallway, Mike and Matt quickly following.

"You're our leader, right Finnderella?" Puck demanded.

"Uh…sure?" Finn wondered.

"Then why haven't you gotten Berry back in the club?" Puck asked angrily. "We suck without her, and its only a matter of time before that April chick goes to rehab or drops dead from all those horse tranquilizers that she pops like tic-tacs."

"Yeah dude, be a man and make us winners in something, since we can only win football when we're dancing around," Matt encouraged.

"Finn, you're like the closest thing that Rachel has to a friend," Mike lied convincingly. Hell, he considered himself more of a friend to Rachel, and they've only shared six sentences with each other in the last few years. "Get her to come back."

"Whatever it takes, dude," Puck insisted, pushing Finn towards the hallway where he was sure Rachel would be. He took a deep breath, trying like hell to stop the bad mood before it started. No such luck. He was fucking pissed. What in the hell had he just done? Sent the Waterboy out with a mission. A mission that maybe he wanted. He had just handed Rachel Berry to Finn Hudson on a silver platter.

Mike patted him on his shoulder roughly and Puck shrugged him off, storming away, intent on getting the hell out of there.

***October 2003***

"Noah! Get over here man!"

Noah furrowed his brow as he walked towards Matt, wondering why the boy was hopping between his two feet as if he had to use the bathroom real bad. Matt didn't say a word, he simply ran down the hallway until they reached Mike Chang, who looked like he had just seen a cute puppy run over.

"She's in there," Mike whispered, gesturing towards the girl's bathroom. "The singing tree-elf girl."

"Huh?" Noah squinted at his friend in confusion.

Mike blinked, realizing he had never actually said what he considered an affectionate nickname out loud before. Matt shook his head and explained,

"Rachel, dude. I heard that Santana took her robo-baby to hand in as her own. Rachel freaking lost it and Santana kind of ripped her into shreds."

Noah looked at the door to the girl's bathroom before mumbling, "Cover me, boys..I'm going in…"

Mike and Matt remained out front. Fifteen minute passed. They didn't hear a damn thing. They had no idea what Noah and Rachel were doing in there.

They did have to convince Mrs. Reeser that the bathroom was flooded with pee and vomit so that she would go to the bathroom in the second floor. And at one point, Matt stole Santana's book bag and ran in the opposite direction while Mike stood guard. Seven minutes later, Matt came back looking flustered and confessed that as punishment, Santana had kissed Matt.

"What was it like?" Mike asked curiously.

"Freaking scary."

Nearly half an hour had passed and Mike was starting to feel sleepy, and Matt was still shivering in his spot at the memory of what Santana had done to him. Suddenly the girl's door room opened and Rachel Berry walked out, looking at the two boys curiously before nodding her head with the saddest small smile and walking away.

Mike and Matt waited another few minutes, and Noah was still inside. They couldn't help their morbid curiosity as they peeked in tentatively. Mike swore he heard a sniffling and suddenly he was inside the girl's bathroom, dragging an unwilling Matt by his shirt sleeve.

Noah was standing at a mirror and quickly wiped his eyes at the sight of his friends. Straightening his posture, he nodded in their direction and walked out quickly. He never said a word about what had transpired in the bathroom.

Never.

***October 2009***

"Yes, I am back in Glee club. In lieu of flowers, please send all donations to a socially conscious charity of your choice…"

Rachel pranced into the room and Puck couldn't help but turn away. Jesus Christ on Burnt Stale Toast. This was not good. Those fucking Gleeks were going to chat away about Quinn being pregnant…Rachel was going to know.

Be a bad ass stone statue…she won't notice you there. Her freaking creepy ass psychic powers won't kick in. She won't be able to put two and two together because, hell she doesn't know what the first two is anyway. He's going to be fine…she's not going to know. Like…ever.

He kicks himself for the next twenty-four hours. He had freaking demanded that Finn do his damndest to get Rachel back, and his stupid big fat trap has her quitting right away again. Shit. He's an asshole. For everything.

He picks up his house phone and speed dials number 2. Yes. His evil mastermind mother had programmed Rachel's cell phone into their speed dial. She had claimed it was all about last minute babysitting of Amber. Funny, he was the only person that used it. Evil genius Jewish mother.

"Hey…it's. You know who it is. Look…I'm not going to deny that April is a stone-cold cougar fox and she sings like super good. But…"

He pauses, staring down at his feet as he continues to pour his heart out to Rachel's voicemail.

"She's not you. No one could ever be you. Our invitational is tonight. I hope…I hope that if you don't want back in, you'll at least come to see me make a complete ass out of myself. I mean Brillo Head Schuester has us country line dancing like big gay cowboys on Humpback Mountain. Don't tell your dads I said that. See you, Berry-pants."

Thanks for reading! Next up is Vitamin D!