?

Log in

previous | next

Title: we are compelled to do what we have been forbidden
Chapter: 2/?
Pairings: Rachel/Quinn/Brittany/Santana
Summary: AU. Four girls, a toddler, a big city, even bigger dreams. Sometimes all you can do is forget the rules, keep your head together and never, ever give up.
Word count: 8,300
Disclaimer: I don't own anything.



..

"Do you wanna keep her?"

Quinn is ready to say no, but she keeps her eyes forward and returns the question, "Do you?"

She hears Puck sigh and shuffle against the glass partition of the nursery. Figures. He even named the baby.

When they're both quiet for a moment longer, she needs to know one last thing. "Did you love me?"

"Yes." He doesn't hesitate and her heart breaks. "Especially now."

She doesn't know what that means, so she smiles. It's all she has right now. His smile fades a little when he raises his eyes to look at something over her shoulder.

"Which one is yours?" Shelby Corcoran approaches the glass in line with them. Why is she even here? Vocal Adrenaline won, they lost. And she won't take her eyes off the baby. Something inside Quinn flares.

"What are you doing here?"

Shelby ignores her completely. "Ah, I see her now," she chuckles. "She looks like you."

Quinn almost scoffs. The baby's perfect. Of course she would look nothing at all like Lucy.

"Does she have a name?"

"Beth," Puck and Quinn say in unison. Shelby looks directly at them for the first time and Quinn's hands grip the railing below the glass a little tighter.

"Pretty." Shelby says softly. "I like that name."

Quinn feels Puck's hand cover hers and Shelby's eyes don't miss it.

"Congratulations."

.

Quinn doesn't know when exactly she started breaking in cold sweat and she began to tune out the world around her. She thinks it might've been between Shelby Corcoran's retreat and her mother gently saying "Let's go home, girls." All she knows is that she's now dry-heaving on the toilet, finding it extremely hard to breathe and trying to come up with a plan to make Rachel Berry leave her house.

It's a daunting task at a horrible, horrible moment.

Rachel was waiting on her front step, a plate of something in her hands, while her mother helped her out of the car and Puck trailed after them with the baby in the car seat. Quinn wasn't ready to look at her child—her child—and definitely not ready for the Berry brand of welcoming committee.

She wanted a dark room. No voices. No crying. No I'm-sorry-or-whatever-it-was cookies.

She didn't want to pray, either. God hasn't been listening to her in awhile.

Instead, she darted past Berry and nearly skidded to her knees in front of the toilet, where she proceeded to puke hospital oatmeal and water and hasn't been able to leave since.

Her mother tried to help, but Quinn kicked the bathroom door shut and held the toilet seat. Strangely enough, being stripped of her dignity in front of Rachel Berry (she's not sure how long they stood there watching before her mother stepped forward) was slowly making her feel more human.

That doesn't mean she wants her in her home, though.

That felt odd. Her home, the place she hasn't set foot in since Russell kicked her out. Her mother, the woman who decided to reach out to her at the last possible minute. Her baby, who she had yet to have a moment alone with.

She misses Mercedes. It's the first thing that occurs to her when she feels her panic attack subsiding. Isn't that strange? She's certain there are more important things right now, but that's what sticks.

She shuffles against the opposing wall and tips her head back, eyes closed. She hasn't cried and she won't. She just needs another moment.

Of course that's when Rachel decides it's appropriate to just enter the bathroom.

"Go away," Quinn rasps.

Rachel doesn't answer. Quinn hears some quiet movements around her and a light gush of air as Rachel settles around her. She's a little startled when she hears the voice so close to her. "I brought you something."

Quinn is silent. Maybe if she focuses on getting her breathing back to normal Berry will disappear.

"They're madeleines."

No such luck.

"They're shaped like flowers and I tried to make them in rainbow colors to make them seem more festive."

"To better match my mood?"

Rachel gulps. "Mercedes told me you didn't—you weren't feeling all that great, so I took it upon myself to see if you were ready to go back to school on Monday, so that—"

"No," Quinn interrupts.

"No… as in 'no, I'm not going back to school' or 'no, I'm not ready to—"

"I'm not ready for a lot of things, Rachel. Your dropping in unannounced and then barging into my bathroom are currently top two."

She hears Rachel's harsh sigh and purses her lips. Maybe she went too far, but one thing she'd always remember: Berry has thick skin.

"Quinn, I may not know what you're going through—"

"That's right, you don't."

"—but I see a baby girl out there who could've had a good, loving parent—" Rachel's voice hitches at that. Maybe she knows about Shelby and Quinn doesn't want to feel bad for her. She doesn't. Rachel finds it in herself to continue."But instead she's here. You chose her." She speaks a little bit softer this time. "I saw Noah settling her in the nursery. She's gorgeous."

Quinn could feel the smile in Rachel's voice.

"She looks like you."

It's not the first time she hears it and she remembers Shelby and then Lucy. She remembers the moment she decided to stand up for the baby.

"No, I mean… I guess." She swallows a lump that lodged in her throat. "I guess she does."

"She could still have good, loving parents. Noah's there for you. You have to try. I know you didn't choose to be pregnant, but you did choose this."

It hits her harder than she thought it would. She pulls her legs against her chest (as far as they will go, with that flabby belly still there) and rests her head between her knees. A long moment of silence and her own ragged breathing goes by before she says "Okay."

She's not thanking her.

"Okay," Rachel echoes, and Quinn hears her get up (and possily straighten her skirt). "We're rehearsing To Sir, With Love to sing to Mr. Schuester at glee practice on Monday. I convinced everyone that we should have stools so you don't have to stand around for long periods of time."

She feels something moist run down her thigh. She opens her eyes and her vision is blurry. Damn.

"I know we lost and the club is most likely breaking up, but… we still have a few weeks left of school. We should appreciate everything we've done for each other."

Quinn doesn't ask about Finn. She just watches her tears trickle down her legs in a steady flow. "Okay," she repeats.

Rachel must still have a smidgen of awareness somewhere because she just slips out of the bathroom without another word. No extra noises outside the door let Quinn know she must be out of the house, too.

Nobody comes to fetch her. All she finds is a dark house, a faint light coming out of the guest room and follows it. It's a nursery, decorated in beige and lavender and she's not prepared for the breath that hitches and nearly halts her heartbeat.

Beth.

Not the baby. It's Beth. Her Beth. Sleeping on her side in the crib, which is next to a big chair, where her mother also sleeps.

Quinn's eyes set on a plate of neatly arranged rainbow-colored madeleines on a side table. She sighs and takes a step forward, in more ways than one.

.

"Oh my God, are you actually—" Quinn would jump, but she doesn't want to risk knocking Beth off the bed. "Puck!"

"You said you don't know which one comes first," he says, without looking up from her laptop. "Doesn't hurt to look."

She has to inhale as deeply as she can so as not to fling the baby wipes pack at his head. "What difference does it make? It's wipes, lotion, rash cream, powder and diaper."

"It's too much shit—" her eyes bug at him and he flails a hand at her "Whatever, there's gotta be an order. You can't just throw everything at her and close the damn diaper!"

She's exasperated already, her nostrils burn from the smell and her arm hurts from holding the baby's feet up the entire time they've been bickering. Beth, for her credit (and her mother's last shred of sanity), seems enthralled by her own fingers.

"We clean her, rub the products on. They're bound to work their magic when we close the diaper."

Puck looks at her like she's grown another head.

"How have you been doing this two weeks? You're lucky she doesn't have a rotting skin rash right now!"

Quinn eyes the floor.

"I—my mom's been… changing her." Before Puck can say anything, she puts Beth's legs down and wrings her hands together. "I can't. Okay? It makes me wanna vomit." She gulps at the thought. Crap. She'd momentarily forgotten the smell in the room.

Puck closes the lid on the laptop and flanks Beth's other side, mirrorring Quinn's position. If she had to put money on it, she'd bet he was feeling as shitty a parent as she is right now.

"Your mom really does."

"Puck!"

"Sorry, I haven't done that either, I just—hand her to your mom."

Quinn scoffs. "And you have the gall to call me out on it."

"At least I tried to google it," he counters. "I can't be here all the time, I know I'd have tried to have that shit down by now."

It's not exactly an accusation as it is an admission, so she takes it with a sigh. "We're really bad at this, aren't we?"

"Well, have you done this before?"

True.

"No," she tries to smile. "I haven't."

He grabs her hand over the baby and squeezes.

.

Beth is not an easy baby. Quinn has half a mind to just hand her over to Rachel Berry, as she seems more like she came out of that nosy little diva than her.

After going a couple of days running on empty (mostly bacon and caffeine), Beth won't stop fussing and she gets a visit from Brittany late one afternoon. Quinn is walking around the living room, a Who's the Boss? marathon playing in the background, bouncing a little jerkily, careful to hold Beth's head up when Britt just takes the baby and plants a series of little kisses all over her face. Beth giggles, that little traitor, sticks her clenched fists in her mouth and immetiately quiets. Britt keeps making faces at her and she watches with rapt attention, the minute Britt turns to say hello to Quinn, Beth grunts.

Britt turns back to her and says "Oh my god, you're super cute."

And there's Beth again, looking up at Britt like she's her whole damn world.

Quinn scoffs. "This is retribution. I spent so long going after Rachel Berry, figures I'd have an attention whore for a daughter."

Britt looks horrified and holds Beth closer to her chest, covering her ears. "You can't call her that, she's a baby!"

Quinn rolls her eyes. "Figure of speech." She closes her eyes and rolls her neck. "I need a shower. And food."

"Why don't you go do that? I'll watch her."

Quinn could weep right now. "Really?"

"Totally. Where's your mom?"

"She's not coming home for another hour," she rolls her neck again and arches her back. She needs to lie down or get a massage or a steam roller to put her out of her misery. "You usually come by earlier, what happened?"

"Oh, Santana just got home from the clinic and your house was on the way, so."

What? "Is she okay?"

"She's fine, her—" she looks down at Beth and whispers "—boobs are gonna be sore for a few days, but she's gonna look hot."

Quinn feels lightheaded after shaking her head in confusion like a cartoon character. "Santana got a boob job?"

"Shh! Beth."

"She doesn't know words, plus she sees boobs every day, it's how she lives," Quinn snaps. She can't believe Santana went up against Coach's No Plastics rule. Maybe she quit? "Is she still in the squad?"

"Of course!"

Why it hasn't occurred to anyone else what a major Cheerios foul that is is beyond her. She also needs food, because for a second she saw two Britts and wondered if they'd be fit to care for Beth together while she showered.

Quinn darts upstairs, shouting orders over her shoulder.

When she's in the shower, the thought of Santana smuggling two sandbags under her top sends her into a manic fit of giggles that escalate into real sobs. It's okay when the water mingles with the tears and makes it seem like they were just not there at all.

.

It's Puck's turn with Beth and she (kind of reluctantly) gives her to him in favor of some quality time by the pool. One he doesn't have to clean. Thank the Lord, because she knows what happens and that thought just makes her shudder. She has a divorcée mother.

Quinn's easing into her two-piece and almost shrieks when she catches a glimpse of herself in the mirror. It's been nine weeks and her belly doesn't seem to want to leave her. There's nothing she can do about it in two minutes—the time it'll take Britt to arrive—so she opts for a plain white shirt over it. No way she's scrapping the whole thing because of one minor (she tells herself) detail. Her legs still look amazing.

Puck wolf-whistles, but it's not that she notices. It's what's holding Beth.

Rachel Berry.

Quinn has to believe her chosen red-rimmed shades hide at least half of her frustration. It's not the first time Puck has brought Rachel over to visit or watch her or… whatever it is that Rachel does on her spare time.

At least Berry's not in a bikini. Talk about overstaying her welcome. The last time she saw Rachel (aside from the Puck-approved visits) was the Sunday she came home from the hospital. She keeps willing Rachel away during the summer, but she keeps coming back. Not many words have been exchanged since, but Quinn likes it when a person is good with her child. It makes her feel proud for having made something other people can appreciate. (God knows that hasn't always been the truth.)

And, damn it, she's proud of that baby. Only Puck knows how much. (Everyone else thinks she's in over her head.

She's just not.)

Quinn hears an enthusiastic "Hi!" to her right and Brittany bounces in her backyard, a stack of tabloids under one arm (Quinn's request) and what seems like a Wonder Woman thermos under another. She doesn't see Britt for a while because she's making cooing noises at Beth with Rachel.

She knows they aren't friends, but…

"Q, you have to taste this," Britt says enthusiastically, walking towards her with the thermos. (And that insane body in a bikini and purple shorts and yes, she's jealous.)

The thing about Brittany is that nothing is weird to her. So Quinn can't stop trying to decipher Rachel's raison d'etre in her house and decides to ask Britt what gives. She gets this dismissive chuckle in response.

"Come on, can you not like, see it?"

"No, not at all," she replies kind of defensively. Quinn hates it when something goes over her head.

"She's dating Finn," Britt states, as if that's not rubbing it in, "and you're Quinn, so."

She draws a total blank.

"It rhymes," Britt explains matter-of-factly.

What on earth?

"She must be bored, you're the next best thing."

Quinn should know better than to question Brittany's logic. But it bothers her more than it should.

.

Tucking Beth in for the night is a breeze. She sticks a little longer, making sure she's on her side and her pillow's in place and the lighting's just right. Beth can be very particular about it. She still has to watch for a little while to see if there's any trouble. Puck calls it smothering (she wasn't even sure he knew that word), she just calls it attention to detail.

When she gets out of the nursery, Puck's standing in the hall, holding a sixpack of something that fires off all her alarms.

"I am not drinking with you," she warns.

"It's light beer, babe. Besides I wanna talk to you about something." Quinn starts to speak but he interrupts. "Something that has nothing to do with getting into your pants. Promise."

He's never promised her anything, not even loving their child as much as he does, so she believes him. They go out to the front porch and he hands her a Bud Light. She's not sure she should be drinking right now, but she takes it and settles next to him on the loveseat. There's this easy silence at first.

"You're not gonna yawn and put your arm around me, will you?"

"Nah. I don't think you'd be into that."

That startles Quinn and she raises an eyebrow at him. "What's 'that'?"

"Getting into this," he makes a move to box his hands around his junk. Oh sweet Jesus. "Try'na make another Puckerman. You're not into that."

Thank. God. "What am I into?" she spurs him on, taking a gulp of her surprisingly light beer.

He shrugs. "I don't know. But it's not me."

She doesn't have it in her to roll her eyes, because, well, duh. So she smiles and settles into him. "Is that a problem?"

"No," he sees this as the right moment to put his arm around her shoulder. "Of course not."

She's never felt more relieved than she does right now.

.

Quinn misses Santana. Nobody's heard from her since the last day of school except Brittany. She expected Rachel to be all over that, but she seemed more preoccupied with the milestones of her and Finn's relationship.

(Beth started holding herself up. Beat that.)

She jogs outside and stops by the mailbox, looking inside while she waits. There is an Ohio Family Law stamped envelope. She doesn't have to open it to know it's Russell Fabray's child support agreement once again coming through. She just hopes her mom is getting the checks, she doesn't want anything more to do with that man than sharing some chromosomes with him.

Whoever outright refuses to see her Beth gets on her black list.

Quinn doesn't have much time to dwell on it as she keeps her warm-up in place, so she pushes the mailbox lever back down and uses it as a steady post to do some crunches. A familiar voice chirps in the background. "I'm here! Sorry, I had to wrestle Lord Tubbington for my Lucky Charms."

Quinn smiles. "You ready?"

"I think I should be asking you that!"

"I'm ready, Britt," Quinn almost whines. "My closet's been asking for me to go back."

"Well, we don't wanna make it mad," Britt says as she puts her ankle on the maibox and easily brings her knee up to her cheek. Quinn's words fail her at that. "Are you ready to lose the baby weight?"

"Better. I'm ready to make it back into the squad."

.

When Coach Sylvester gives her back her captaincy, it's not without some effort. Some effort. She just needs to drop the names of the church groups that are willing to give Coach back her confetti cannons. (She'll have to talk her mom into that later.)

The little bird that tells Coach about Santana's boob job is just the cherry on top. Whatever. She didn't say anything and really doesn't deserve the beating she gets from Santana in the hall.

.

The pounding on her door won't stop until she gets it herself, because she knows who it is. She eases Beth into a pillow-circled area on her bed, where she had been catching up on her reading, and goes downstairs to let Santana in.

"It's about time, you jackass."

"Again, I didn't tell Coach."

"Well, whatever, she knows. And I can't say it didn't feel good to shove you against the lockers."

Quinn raises one eyebrow while Santana breezes past her.

"You know what I mean," she says as she throws herself on the couch, staring at the ceiling. "I, like… didn't mean to do that."

It's the closest to an apology as she'll ever get from Santana. Quinn eases on the couch next to Santana's feet.

"Berry got me on this not-so-blind-date with Sam Evans…"

Santana gets up and points a finger at her face. "I knew that hobbit rigged the competition!"

"It's not like that—"

"Oh, it so is. I, for one, had my bets on Evans picking Hummel, but maybe he's not gay," Santana pauses and smirks. "Hell, maybe not gay enough."

"I… don't think he's gay."

Santana crosses her arms and eyes her.

"I'll check," Quinn placates, just to keep Santana off her back.

"Promise?"

"Promise."

.

"I don't know, I think I wanna be Frank-N-Furter," Brittany breaks the silence and Quinn almost pricks her thumb with the needle through the sequin.

Rachel speaks up from behind her in the risers. "Brittany, I think Mercedes will probably kill you if you say that."

"We'd never find the body," Kurt completes. Britt shrugs and keeps thumbing through the script. She's the only one not doing any actual work in the room; she's sitting indian style on top of the piano, Quinn is trying to put the final touches into all of the Columbia outfits with sequins, which Santana is sorting by color on the floor. Tina is helping Kurt get the sewing machine going again and Rachel is sitting quietly—as quietly as physically possible for her, anyway—in the background, combing the wigs and neatly placing them on head mannequins.

Quinn's had her eye set on the short pink bob and will fight anyone for the right to wear it.

Then again, up to this moment, she's only been cast as Magenta, while Britt has two roles and doesn't even seem to care about the project.

Damn.

Quinn scoots forward in her seat, suddenly feeling like she's absorbing Rachel Berry's personality by osmosis. "Britt," she warns, "we've talked about this. You have the most accurate Columbia costume and it won't fit anybody else."

Britt sighs and drops the script. "Then I don't wanna be Magenta either. It's too much pressure and you won't let me be the star, so."

Rachel groans behind her and Quinn supresses a laugh.

Kurt looks up from the sewing machine. "So I guess somebody else's gotta be the understudy to the understudy. Any takers?"

Tina straightens a roll of lace to his right. "Do not even look at me, I'm not altering that hoop skirt again, our hips are totally different."

Santana holds both her hands to her chest and smiles angelically. "Well, I'm honored to be the sole player of Magenta, thank you."

"I'll do it," Quinn decides to pipe in.

"The fuck?" Santana turns around to look at her.

"I'll be the understudy for both. I don't have the time for full rehearsals everyday and God knows I know more about this show than either of you."

"Hey, we watched the damn musical yesterday and I had to resist the urge to smother you with a pillow because you kept pausing it every two minutes!"

So what if she'd felt like making sure they got the idea of the story? Nobody wants Santana and Brittany Improv with parents in the audience.

Rachel perks up at that. "Wow, Quinn, I'm impressed with your level of commitment to our musical."

"I like Rocky Horror, Rachel, no need to make a fuss about it."

Santana gets up. "Whatever, I need a shake. Britt, you coming?"

"Uh, no," she picks the script back up, "I think Janet's dress is gonna look really cute on me."

"Oh," Santana smiles when Rachel drops one of the mannequin heads. "Good luck with that!"

Before she can exit the room, Rachel darts down in step with her and Quinn can hear her ask Santana, "What do I have to do to have you convince her to drop it? Name your price."

If Quinn didn't have her feet tangled in ribbons and thread, she'd follow them just to see where that conversation was going. As soon as she looks back down, though, Ms. Pillsbury enters the choir room with a perky smile.

"Ladies, this looks incredible!"

As Tina gives her the run down of the process, Britt hops off the piano, picks up the blue wig and mannequin head that Rachel knocked down in pursuit of Santana and sits next to Quinn. Ms. Pillsbury claps lightly and chirps, "You're doing a wonderful job. Honestly. I'm joining you tomorrow afternoon to finalize the concept, so let me know if you need more fabric or props before the bell rings today, okay?" She turns to Kurt. "However, my visit today isn't show-related. Kurt, can I see you in my office, please?"

His expression sombers and she gives him a sympathetic smile. Quinn is pretty sure it has something to do with the constant harrassment he has been getting from Dave Karofsky, which has been getting progressively worse.

They quietly leave the room and Tina picks up her book bag. "That sucks…"

"I know."

After a beat, she sighs. "I'm pretty fried, I'm going home, if you guys don't mind."

"We'll clean up," Britt nods at Tina, who smiles and breezes past them and into the hall. Quinn casts her eyes down and thinks about what it must be like to try to love and just try to be and have your life threatened by it.

And if her daughter's future would still have that same shadow lurking overhead.

Before she can shudder at the thought, Britt snickers to her side and Quinn is met with a sight akin to that of ET walking out of Elliott's closet: Britt has a blue wig on, supposedly a short bob, but she can't tell with wisps of it pointing all over the damn place.

She collapses in a fit of giggles and tries to straighten the wig to no avail. Her hands just fail her and Britt reaches behind her for the pink wig, which is perfectly in place on the mannequin.

Quinn's laughter subsides when she feels Britt placing the wig atop her head. Something inside her flutters, because, after the whole Columbia understudy debacle, now she knows for sure she's going to be the one to wear it. (There are other wigs. Pink is just hers.) Britt tucks Quinn's ponytail into it and smiles. They take each other in for a moment before bursting into laughter again.

"You look ridiculous," Quinn wheezes.

"I feel like I'm in a Katy Perry video!"

"You have the official red wig, you'll be fine."

"Oh, I know, Artie's been telling me how awesome I'm gonna be tap-dancing in Time Warp."

Quinn is impressed—and mildly intrigued. "So this thing with you and Artie… Is it serious?" She'd been looking for the right moment to ask, which hasn't been easy—Santana has been watching Britt like a hawk since the duets competition.

"Yeah. I like him."

"Good."

"Don't tell Santana, though."

Flashbacks of cheerleading camp and some unfortunate locker room sightings hit her like a ton of bricks.

"I value my own life, thank you."

"What about you?"

"What about me?"

"You and Sam."

Oh.

"He's the nicest guy. Beth loves his hair, it's cute when she tries to grab it," Quinn smiles easily. "And I can just picture him is his prom tux." It's strange that these are the first things she could come up with when faced with the question.

"But like, do you do stuff?"

"'Stuff'?"

Britt laughs softly. "Like making out."

"No," Quinn is surprised at how quickly that came out. She and Sam kiss, mostly. "Hands to himself at all times." Oh God, this keeps getting weirder.

"Why, though? It's so good."

Quinn fidgets and is suddenly aware of the pink wig she's wearing when it tickles her ears. There is no way this situation could get more absurd than it is at this very moment, so she goes for it.

"I don't feel like it. And the last time I let someone touch me, I got a kid out of it."

"I don't mean sex, really, just…" Quinn feels a feather-like graze slowly going up her thigh, dangerously approaching the pleats of her skirt. She's not sure what her body's doing right now and feels a tinge of embarrassment at the goosebumps and the way her breath hitches. This is her friend right here.

And this is… interesting. And new.

"Like that, isn't it nice?" Britt doesn't even hesitate and the sound of her voice doesn't match this moment at all—Quinn knows that if she tries to produce a sound, she'll fail miserably.

Britt chuckles. "You look super cute in this wig," and punctuates that with a lingering peck to Quinn's lips and removes her hand when it touches the edge of the fabric. She's up in a single bound, removing her blue wig and tossing it on the nearest chair. "Wanna go watch kittens at the mall store?"

Quinn still doesn't trust her voice, so she just shakes her head.

"Okay. I gotta meet Artie tonight, so see you tomorrow at practice?"

She nods. As Britt is about to walk out the door, Quinn manages to repeat, "So you and Artie…"

"Yeah," Britt says with a smile and, with a flourish, she's out.

Quinn just needs a moment.

.

It doesn't take Puck half the night to organize a party to commemorate their football championship. In light of their victory, it seems now the entire school wants to be in their presence and celebrate. It's easy to stick to a team that's winning, and even though that's always been part of her moral code, she can't help but feel annoyed with everyone right now. They're at the top, but it seems like there's no one batting for her.

No one has her back.

Britt keeps dancing up and down, wheeling Artie around and singing songs only they seem to know. She twirled Quinn around on the field—as she did everyone else. (With maybe the exception of Lauren. But they hugged, sort of.) It's all a big joke to her, only Quinn doesn't think it's very funny.

They kissed. She felt more in ten seconds with her best friend than months with her boyfriend.

Yet she seems to be only one to remember it. Britt doesn't bring it up, maybe because it's nothing new for her. But it is for Quinn, it's not something that—it just doesn't happen, okay. It's not supposed to happen.

None of this was.

She squeezes her eyes shut and her knuckles are most likely white on the edges of the bench in the locker room. She can't include her baby on that list. (It happens from time to time.) And she won't. It's a mess, a whole set of circumstances that were not supposed to have happened at all, but they did and here she is. Her perfect thing.

Something good comes out of everything, right?

Right?

The girls choose that moment to dance and skip their way into the locker room, Britt and Santana holding flat red boxes under their arms, Rachel, Mercedes, Tina and Lauren with football helmets under theirs. They look like a weird, yet very united team with their coordinated pace, dresses and boots and bling and heels and… whatever it is that Tina's wearing.

"Ready to party?" Lauren shrieks. Quinn jumps a little at that, but has learned to tolerate Zizes due to Puck's sudden infatuation with her. Dating the school's stud is doing wonders for her rep and Quinn is not gonna begrudge her that.

"Ready," she says, as she closes the lid of the red box that holds her Cheerios uniform. She can't say she wants to open this box ever again. She's just done.

Soon enough, two more boxes pile on top of hers and Santana sags to her side. "It was for a good cause, right? Please tell me it was for a good cause."

"It was," Quinn's tone is firm. "Don't ever look back. Coach doesn't deserve us."

Santana runs a reverent finger over the golden plate that bears her name on the box and buries her face on the crook of Quinn's neck. They're both startled when Zizes smashes her helmet against a locker and throws her hands in the air. "Party, suckers! I'm driving and I ain't waitin' for nobody."

"Must she do that?" Santana murmurs against her shoulder. Tina and Mercedes place their helmets on a nearby bench and follow Lauren.

"Girls, I heard there's a keg and Jäger, now I don't know what that is, but I'm hella interested," Mercedes chuckles and leaves.

Britt perks up. "Okay, I wanna know what that is!"

"No, you don't," Rachel says, making a face as she sits on a bench with her helmet on her lap.

Santana turns a little to face her. "Bad Jäger bomb memories, Berry?"

"No, as a matter of fact I dropped and broke a bottle of Jägermeister from my dads' liquor cabinet looking for my pet hamster when I was seven, the smell is indescribable and I don't think I can have it near me again."

"You gotta tell me more about that cabinet because it sounds amazing," Santana points at her.

"Anyway," Rachel sighs and smiles. "You'll probably make fun of me for it, but I'm proud of what you guys did for the team yesterday."

Britt sits next to her and Quinn rolls her eyes. "Football or glee?" Santana asks.

"Both. We all came together and… I think it paid off."

Quinn feels a tinge of disappointment at their initial act of resignation, but if Berry's feeling forgiving today… "It's nothing. It was time."

"You're holding mighty tight to that helmet there, planning a heist?" Santana says with not nearly as much malice as Quinn knows she's intended, but only because Cheerios will probably be a sore subject with her for a while. If she has so much as a sip of beer tonight, she will bawl. "You know that's school property."

"I know," Rachel says, running her fingertips over it. Britt hugs her in comfort. Quinn half wonders if she's gonna kiss Berry too. "It was a good moment."

Britt squeezes her side and pulls her up. "Come on, let's go get Artie and we'll drive to Puck's! Parties and bombs!"

"Parties and bombs!" Rachel giggles and follows her out.

Quinn feels her mouth hang open in disbelief. Britt doesn't care. She just doesn't fucking care. Put a pink wig on a punching bag and she'd probably kiss it too. Quinn's just done with this.

She runs a hand through her hair. "I don't wanna wait for Artie."

"A-fucking-men."

"So can I ride with you?", she asks Santana.

"Sure. I just need to grab my chem book for the weekend, meet me in the parking lot," she says, slowly getting up and putting all her frustration and dramatic flair on each step she takes toward the door.

Quinn eyes the stack of boxes one more time and gets up before she gives into the urge to topple the damn thing to the floor.

The hallway is mostly empty, save for Karofsky and Finn talking near the water fountain. She leans her back against the lockers and watches Karofsky stomp away; she's not entirely surprised, considering he was against the whole thing to begin with and only Finn would be dense enough to think all was fine and dandy in the social strata.

But when Finn walks by, it's like part of her just shuts off. She doesn't think. In a beat, she's talking about the game, how great he was and it's second nature to her. It's the first conversation they ever had—she'd had her eyes on the quarterback and he was sweet, good enough. Here is he again; sweet, still good, somehow looking at her again with those same soft eyes, before Puck, before anything.

Just a guy and a girl and a common interest.

She feels a twinge of something that once was and she can see that crown on his head, sharing their first dance as Prom royalty.

"…it reminded me of why I loved you" comes out without her permission—she's basically thinking out loud. Kissing Finn is easy. She can't think of Rachel. Or Sam. (She thinks of Brittany.) She thinks of them. That perfectly nice boy. She walks away.

Santana has started the car and Quinn barely makes it in before she peels out of the spot. "What's with you?" Quinn asks, struggling with her seat belt.

She's met with silence.

It isn't until they're parked a block away from Puck's house and Santana yanks the key from the ignition, that she speaks without so much as looking at Quinn. "Next time you go round kissing everything that moves, don't you even dare waiting for a fucking ride from me."

Quinn grabs her arm before she can get out of the car. "What the hell, Santana!"

"Britt doesn't care, Britt's not going to care." There's more than a little resentment there and Quinn wonders why. "She has the crip to keep her busy and you should know better than to go after Finn again. Show a little bit more respect for Sam, for fuck's sake."

Well, that's rich. Now she's pissed. "Since when do you care about Sam?"

"He's the only guy in that fucking school that doesn't make me want to pull a Frankenteen and kick a chair in his face and speaking of? Watch your back."

She can't even begin to understand that because Santana's leaving the car so fast Quinn might get locked in if she doesn't follow suit. Santana doesn't wait around for her, either. She doesn't know how Santana found out about Brittany, but all signs point to the moment she went to fetch her book—they were fine in the locker room and Santana's not exactly known for bottling things up. Her best shot is just asking Britt, but she's just so tired of this idiocy she debates going into Puck's house at all.

An icy breeze blows a strand of hair into her eyes and she tucks her cardigan a little tighter around body. The drama seems to be spiking, Puck must have cracked the Jäger by now and her house is only a few blocks south.

Somebody's gotta be a parent tonight.

.

It's not long before Sam breaks up with her. (And Santana's bitch move doesn't ease the guilt at all.)

.

Quinn is careful not to let her eyes slip closed when she's resting on her back on the couch, with Beth fast asleep on her chest. Her light blond hair is starting to curl at the tips and Quinn focuses on twirling her index finger around it here and there.

Judy pads into the living room in her nightgown and settles on the other end of the couch.

"What?" Quinn asks when her mother looks at them.

"Nothing," Judy smiles. "I miss holding her like this."

"It's okay, I've got her."

Judy takes Quinn's feet and places them on her lap. "It's not something I mind doing, Quinnie."

She feels bad for feeling so defensive, but she's tired of overcompensating for everything and leaving a trail of failure in her wake. She needs to be able to do this one thing right. (So far all she's managed to hold onto was her straight A average.)

Quinn coughs lightly and, like every other time in the past couple of weeks, she mentally curses Santana. "I had to stay away from her too long because of a stupid mistake."

Judy chuckles. "Sweetie, you had mono. Pretty much every 17-year-old has it at some point."

"Yeah, well, not every 17-year-old has a child, and if they do, they at least think before they do something that stupid."

"Okay, first of all, stop berating yourself like that. Like it or not, you're young. You make mistakes and you're going to continue to make mistakes. " She spoke with a tone that was firm but low, eyeing the baby a few times to make sure she was still asleep. "It took me too long to make up for mine, but I'm trying." She pauses and gulps. "I'm trying, Quinn. I need the same effort from you."

For a while, Quinn cannot say anything. She just takes Beth's limp hand and wraps her little fingers around her thumb. "I can't fail her, mom. Not her."

"You're not failing anybody." Judy treads carefully. "Isn't Finn coming over tomorrow?"

"Yes. We're doing homework and talking about prom strategies"

Judy's face lights up. "That's wonderful! There's nothing keeping you from doing this, Quinnie. Beth is not here to weigh you down. And you have me."

Quinn looks up at her now and measures her sincerity.

It's finally there.

.

Quinn lights three vanilla spice candles near the window and dims the lights in her room. She checks the playpen and Beth is sitting in a corner, incredibly focused on trying to gather the plush stars Rachel gave her for Christmas. Her grasp is still a little feeble, so it's cute when they tumble down, she gets frustrated and has to start all over again.

Beth is entertained and it won't be long before she's down. Quinn settles on her bed and lights a lamp to pick up her book where she left off. She doesn't make it four pages when there's a light knock on her door.

"Come in, mom."

It's Santana who slowly opens the door and that immediately worries Quinn, because a gentle Santana is not something she's used to. And she looks like she's been crying.

"What's wrong?"

Santana closes the door and lingers a little, crossing her arms and clearing her throat. "I'm in love with Britt."

Quinn's excellent reflexes are what keep her book from falling to the floor. In fact, she uses it as something to clench her fist around.

"I'm sorry for ratting you out to Sam, it was shitty of me, but I was jealous."

Quinn still can't move.

"Can you, like, say something please?"

Quinn shuffles on her bed and sets her book aside. "How long have you known?"

Santana's laugh is humorless. "All my life? But Ms. Holliday did me the favor to hit me over the head with it today."

So now Landslide makes sense. She just remembers sitting there, feeling a little smug that something's reduced Santana to tears in front of everyone.

(Not that she's proud of it, but you know. Small victories.)

Santana scuffs her boots on the carpet and Quinn doesn't remember having ever seen her look this vulnerable. She just raises the pillow next to her against the headboard and Santana seems to takes the hint, because she sheds her jacket, toes off her boots and lays down on her side, facing Quinn.

Quinn's last scrap of resistance falls away when she hears Santana sniffle. She eases down on the pillow and Santana settles into her side, draping her arm across her stomach.

"Did you tell Britt?"

"Yeah."

"What did she say?"

"Artie," and Quinn feels the first baby step to sympathy. "And she said she's mine when she's single again, I mean. What even…"

Quinn's breath hitches at that and she has to do all in her power to will that feeling away. She can't really name it jealousy, but something akin to loss. And feeling like she so clearly lost a game she hadn't even begun playing hurts.

"You're quiet."

Santana's voice is so tiny and she doesn't know if she can form words of comfort, if that's what Santana needs. She can be here, she can listen. But there's nothing she can say that won't make her sound like a jealous idiot.

"I know she kissed you and… She does that, don't hate her for it."

It's strange that Santana's defending Brittany at a moment like this and the idea that she just goes around kissing anyone? Santana seems to be watching the wheels in her mind turn and completes, "It's not everyone. I know she keeps saying that, but it's not true. She likes you, she told me."

Quinn gulps. "Why are you telling me this?"

"I don't know." Santana holds on a little tighter. "But if she has to be with anyone other than me, I hope to hell it's you."

There's no mirth or amusement in Quinn's laugh. She just feels her stomach drop and Santana looks up at her. "I'm—No. I'm not dating a girl."

The teary smile on Santana's face is a little infuriating.

"Okay."

"I'm not."

"I said okay." Santana settles her chin a little tighter on Quinn's collarbone. "Jeez."

They stay quiet for a while. It's fair to say she had a crush on Brittany after the freaking tailspin she sent Quinn into after the kiss. However, nothing ever had her thinking she wanted to date her. She just wanted to talk to her best friend, have some way of understanding what had happened between them, but life got in the way.

"Where's Beth?"

Quinn raises her head a little and sees that Beth is slumped over the plush stars, drifting off yet still fighting it a little. She knows it won't be long before she's out. "Right there."

Santana rolls over and smiles a little. "She's not annoying."

"Is that the best you got? That's my kid."

"The blanket compliments her skin tone? The hell you want me to say, she's a baby."

Quinn knows better than to press Santana on this. She walks over to the playpen, tucks Beth in, blows out the candles and gets back into bed. "Come back here, you jerk."

Santana chuckles and cuddles her side again. "She's cute."

"That's better," Quinn closes her eyes, circling her arms around Santana after shutting off the lamp.

Finn rolling with Artie into the McKinley swimming pool is her last thought before falling asleep.

..


Comments

( 10 — comment )
windgazer
Aug. 7th, 2012 10:36 am (UTC)
You did a really great job with this fanfiction I'm very excited for an update.
waywardcherry
Aug. 7th, 2012 06:56 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Update coming really soon.
morgana_ehran
Aug. 7th, 2012 04:53 pm (UTC)
Wow. It's one of the best ffs I've read lately. I like how it fits canon yet it makes another story. A strong and real one. Love your writing style. I'm so looking forward to next parts.
waywardcherry
Aug. 7th, 2012 06:55 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I want to adapt Quinn's story to canon as much as I can, good to know it's been working. I'm working on the next chapter and it'll be up this weekend.
musicffyou
Aug. 8th, 2012 04:00 am (UTC)
I hope to someday say this:
"The blanket compliments her skin tone? The hell you want me to say, she's a baby."
to someone. Thank you!
waywardcherry
Aug. 8th, 2012 04:09 am (UTC)
Hee.
orange_rocks1
Aug. 8th, 2012 04:27 am (UTC)
I love it already!! Can't wait for more!
waywardcherry
Aug. 8th, 2012 04:30 am (UTC)
Thank you! (Flawless icon, btw.)
(Deleted comment)
waywardcherry
Aug. 13th, 2012 04:22 am (UTC)
Thanks! Just finishing up the next chapter.
( 10 — comment )