Title: "God Put a Smile Upon Your Face (Or Eight Times Someone in Glee was a Friend to Quinn Fabray and One Time Someone Was a Little Bit More)"
Character/Pairing: Quinn, assorted members of Glee
Length: Part I of III
Summary: It's the people Quinn least expects that keep her afloat.
Disclaimer: Not mine, just borrowing them for a few paragraphs.
Author's Note: First time writing for this fandom, although I've wanted to tackle these characters since the sneak-peek over the summer. As we don't know if Quinn is giving the baby to Terri, the fic is written as if she's decided to keep it and raise it herself. Originally intended as a one-shot but it kind of ran away with itself and turned out quite long; it's now coming out in three parts over the course of the week. Title courtesy of Coldplay. (yes, Coldplay – leave me alone). Enjoy.
It's an exact moment when you know your life is over.
There's a lull in Cheerios' practice, three minutes to guzzle water in the relative peace of the empty bleachers. Three minutes without the shrill yell of Coach Sylvester's voice in your ear and the vice grip of Lance's hands constricting the blood flow to your thighs.
You're watching football practice, a smile turning up the corners of your mouth as your eyes lock on Finn's tall, lanky form.
He's scanning the field for receivers, the football held between his hands with practiced ease, when he stops and his jaw tightens in a way that never means anything good. Suddenly he's racing across the field, receivers and tight ends and linemen be damned, and slams into Puck so hard his helmet tumbles to the side when he hits the dirt.
He stands there, shoulders heaving and eyes blazing, while Puck doesn't move, doesn't even twitch. Coach Tanaka blows the whistle and the other players crowd around in stunned silence and nausea creeps up your throat and spills into your mouth.
For the first time in six weeks it has nothing to do with morning sickness.
You wait for Finn after practice, wait almost an hour while Tanaka reams him out and Puck is pronounced fine (a minor concussion but he'll recover), and he won't look you in the eye even as he stops to face you.
"Hi," you start, smile, put a hand on his arm, try to distract him with the charm that drew him to you in the first place.
It doesn't work. He shrugs off your touch and leans back against the lockers, arms crossed over his chest in a defensive pose. "I did a google search," he explains. "I was worried about the hot tub, how hot it was in there. I wanted to make sure we didn't hurt the baby." He pauses and his eyes narrow as they finally stare into yours. "Turns out, you can't get pregnant in a hot tub. You might be having a baby, Quinn, but it's not mine."
It's your turn to pause because it's suddenly getting hard to breathe. You grip a locker just to keep standing up. "I didn't know what else to do," you manage to say and it's the truth. This isn't part of your game. You had your back against the wall; there was never a choice.
"You and my best friend," he says. "I can't believe I didn't see it earlier."
That night flashes through your eyes, tears you cried after weigh-in and the sickly sweet taste of the wine coolers and the way his hands skimmed over your skin like you might break if he pressed too hard. "It just happened once," you insist. "It was a mistake. The biggest mistake I ever made. He's Puck," you try to explain and he winces, recoils at the name of his personal Judas. "He can barely spell his own name let alone raise a baby. I know it was wrong, but it wasn't just me I was looking out for."
Suddenly his expression softens, the rigid set of his shoulders slumps, and he's the fatherless, mama's boy Finn you've known since the second grade. "You're right," he says. "This isn't just about you or about me." He takes a deep breath, lets it out. "I'll keep your secret. I won't tell anyone who the baby's father is. But I can't be that person either. Do you understand, Quinn? Whatever story you tell, I don't want to be part of it."
You nod, your pastor's words replaying in your ears: "We come into this world alone and leave it the same way." You might as well start now. "Thank you," you say and reach up to your locker, fiddle with the lock but your hands are shaking so hard you can't get it open.
"Let me," he says and his fingers deftly work the dial, always the gentleman and always doing the right thing. You can't say the same of your own behavior any longer.
The lock opens and you reach into your locker, pull out the scrap of green cloth he gifted to you just a few days earlier. "I think this belongs to you," you say and push the blanket towards him.
He shakes his head. "It's yours. Once you give someone a gift you can't take it back."
"But I lied to you. You didn't give it under honest circumstances."
He reaches out and clasps your hands under the blanket, large, warm fingers wrapping tightly around yours. "I grew up without a dad and it sucked but this blanket made it a little easier. Maybe it will do the same for your kid. He squeezes your fingers once, twice. "I'll be your friend, Quinn. If you need me, just ask."
He tries to pull away, but you cling tightly to his hands. You're not ready to watch him walk out of your life; you're not ready to do this on your own.
"I'm sorry," you say and he just smiles sadly, shoulders his bag, and starts down he hallway.
You wait until he's gone before you let the tears fall.
Six weeks turns into seven and then eight and in the middle of the ninth week you can't hide the swelling rise of your stomach or the boobs that have grown to twice their previous size.
You clasp your binder over the hard curve of your belly, drape a sweater over your shoulders because it's Ohio and its winter and its cold and your cheerleading uniform reveals more skin than it conceals. But you can't hide the red thread straining against white polyester or the deep vee of cleavage that steals the gaze of every boy in every one of your classes.
Coach Sylvester frowns during your weekly weigh-in and your shoulders slump because even though you've ruined your future its still hurts when the entire world seems disappointed in you.
Brittany doesn't say a word, but there's sympathy in her eyes while the rest of the squad looks disgusted. She stays close to Santana during the bulk of practice and you hold your place in the spotlight knowing the end is drawing close. The season is almost over and when there are no more games there's no reason any of these girls will call you friend. Hypocrite is an easy word to slip off the tongue, especially when it involves a pregnant president of the celibacy club.
Still, Brittany has kind eyes and doesn't join in the hushed jibes and she catches your elbow in the locker room after practice.
"Hey, Quinn," she says and releases her grip but doesn't walk away.
You're surprised she's talking to you. You're good, so very good, and Sylvester has been too distracted by New Directions to catch on but the rest of the squad knows what's lurking under the McKinley logo sprawling across your increasingly ample chest. Hypocrite is the kindest slur the crowd has whispered under its breath.
"Hi, Brittany," you respond and manage a smile. You see her every day, sometimes twice, between Glee and Cheerios, but this is the first time she's talked to you where others can see.
She smiles in return, wary at first and then like the girl you've known since kindergarten. She reaches into her locker and pulls out a uniform. "I made this for you." You don't understand. The outfit in her hands looks exactly like the one you're wearing, minus the straining seams. She sees your confusion and her smile widens, blindingly white teeth gleaming under the florescent lights. "Look," she says and you slowly see the nearly invisible panels she's sewn into the waistband of the skirt, the side seam of the top. "I can see how uncomfortable you are at practice. We have one more game and you won't have to deal with it anymore. It's our last show. I thought you should enjoy it."
Your eyes tear (no longer a surprise, not with all the hormones running amuck through your system), and you whisper a watery thank you.
She smiles again, this time in understanding, and pats your hand. She turns to leave but you stop her with a question. "Brittany, where did you learn to sew like this?"
Something bright and hungry flashes through her eyes and you've never heard her sound more confident. "I have dreams too," she says and you realize that in all the years you've known her the only dreams you've discussed are how the tiara will settle in your hair on prom night and what color bridesmaid dresses will best match Finn's groomsmen's ties. "I'm going to be a designer, on Project Runway. One day everyone who's anyone will be wearing my clothes."
You slip off your uniform, ignore the way her eyes round slightly at the bulge of belly and boobs, and pull on her present. "It's perfect," you say and meet her eyes in the mirror.
She laughs shakily and this time her smile is watery. "You're the first person to wear something I made."
"I'm honored," you say and mean it. You recognize the determination in her eyes, the yearning to leave this place and its trappings and make something of yourself for the world to see.
You blew your shot to hell but she still has a chance.
You've just started your second trimester when your mother walks in on you coming out of the shower and the truth comes pouring out. You're grounded, you're going to be sent away, you're a slut and a whore, and your mother cries every time she looks at you.
They don't send you away but you spend most days wishing they would. You tell them that you're keeping the baby and your mother cries more and your father doesn't know what to do, but still decides that you can't be trusted. He takes your car keys, and then your house key, and suddenly you're no longer sure if you're his daughter or his prisoner.
You're not sure it matters. You only know you can't look him in the eye because the disappointment there makes you want to shrivel up and die (no longer an option, not with the second life you're responsible for). You bow your head and follow his orders and play the part of the good soldier you weren't before.
You take the bus to school, share a seat with other nobodies and losers, because that's who you are now. You usually sit by the widow, rest your forehead against cool glass and watch the winter wasteland on the way to your personal hell.
Sometimes you wonder, if the ground can turn green and the plants push through with renewed purpose, if you can take back you life too. Most of the time, you try not to think too far ahead; ignoring consequences is what got you into this mess in the first place.
One morning, you trudge out of your house in parka and boots, heading for the bus stop and the Lifetime movie that's your life, and there's a brown Accord running its engine on your curb. Mercedes is propped against the passenger side door, her breath catching in the magenta, faux-fur trimmed collar of her coat.
"I've been waiting for you," is her opening line.
You temper down the urge to look around and see if she's talking to someone else. You spend time with her at practice and sometimes her voice gives you shivers because she's just that good, but you think this might be the only time you've had an actual conversation. "Hi, Mercedes," you say and pause at the foot of the walkway.
"Heard your dad took your ride. It isn't much," she explains and gestures to the Honda. "But it has heat and a great stereo and isn't the bus. Wanna ride?"
"To school?" you ask and know you sound like a complete idiot but you're too surprised to say much else.
"No, to see Mary J at the House of Blues. Yes, to school. Now get in before I freeze to death and never get to open for Alicia Keys."
You trudge to the car as best you can, snow holding you back more than baby, and slip into the passenger seat. Mercedes guns the engine and heads down the street.
"Thank you," you say quietly. "I really appreciate the ride."
"I rode that bus for two years," she says just as quietly. "It's not quite like having a slushie thrown in your face, but it's close." She pauses. "No one deserves that."
The unsaid insult lingers in the air, a prank about Kurt's sexuality hanging awkwardly between you. You never threw a slushie in anyone's face but you certainly ran with that crowd and never said a word of disapproval about their behavior. The things you said to Rachel and others ring through your ears – "Ru Paul, man hands" – and you know you're getting as good as you gave. Mercedes looks guilty but you wave it away and force a smile. "It's not so bad, but this is much better. I mean, you have heat and Beyonce."
Mercedes smiles, grateful for the smooth transition (you weren't Queen Bee for years without learning certain skills), and turns up the music.
"If I were a boy, even just for a day…" You close your eyes, lean back against the head rest. "I'd kick it with who I wanted and never get confronted for it. Because they'd stick up for me..."
Everything waiting for you at school flashes before your eyes: the stares and the jeers and proud smiles because not only has a queen fallen but she's circling the drain of pathetic. Finn walks into your line of vision before the truth came out, letter jacket hanging from his shoulders even as friends and acquaintances and teachers clap him on the back and praise his manhood, his brawn, his virility – all those SAT words you memorized a year ago and mean the same thing: he won even as you lost.
Mercedes breaks into your thoughts. "Oh, hell to the 'naw. I ain't giving men a free pass to treat women like crap." Her fingers fiddle with her iPod and the songs changes just as the car pulls into the McKinley High lot.
You both pause for a moment, watching the people mill about before heading inside. "We can cut today," you suggest even though you barely know each other and you've never skipped a day of school in your life.
Mercedes says nothing for a long moment, holds her head high and lets out a deep breath as Kurt and Tina wave across the lot . "I'm a survivor. I'm not gonna give up..."
"Take it from someone who knows – if we don't go inside, it's like we're letting the terrorists win."
You laugh, because it's true, and push open your door to step into the cold. You follow her lead as you walk to the school and keep your head held high the entire time.
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