Title: "Dog Days Are Over (Or Four Times Noah Puckerman Shows Someone Else His Love for Quinn Fabray and One Time He Shows Her)"
Summary: My dad's a deadbeat but I don't roll that way.
Disclaimer: Not mine, just borrowing them for a few hours
Author's Note: Yes, longest title ever. I'm not sure what I think of this one because I don't think I have the best grasp on the characters' voices, Sue especially, but it is what it is and won't get any better the longer I worry about it. So here it is. Title courtesy of Florence and the Machine, who is pretty much the best new artist of 2009, and you should all buy her album even if you hate this fic. Enjoy.
The First Time:
The first time you touch Quinn Fabray in ten weeks a hard, round bump brushes against the flat planes of your stomach.
You're her partner for the new number and you're supposed to hoist her in your arms and spin her for the world to see, and you're trying so hard to pretend she's Tina or Rachel or Brittany or anyone but Quinn Fabray that you almost forget it's there.
She isn't showing, not really, even though her boobs are like twice their normal size and it's hard to keep your eyes off them, but you can't ignore the bump pressed up against you when she oversteps a turn and lands flush against your chest.
She's wearing her cheerleading uniform and you try to pretend it's the fabric bunching under your hand or something disgusting like that time of the month, but it happens once and it happens again and you suck in a hard breath when your hand catches her waist and that hard, round bump fills your palm.
It's just a bump, nothing more, but it's hot and heavy under your hand and you have to suppress the urge to flex your fingers and feel your baby growing inside her.
She gasps too and begins swatting your hands, says you're pressing too hard and Finn looks like he kind of wants to kill you (good practice for when he'll actually want to kill you), and you step away with your hands in the air. You keep them there, even though it's not necessary, even when you know you're channeling a diva fit to rival Rachel Berry's, but you hold them up to keep from touching her.
Her top is rucked up and the skirt already hangs low and you can see the faintest outline of your baby pushing against her skin. "Stop man-handling me!" she exclaims, eyes fever bright, arms wrapped tight around her middle. "Please," she says and her words are nearly a whimper. "Don't touch me."
You should be embarrassed, would be embarrassed in another life, but you can see the tight set of her shoulders and the rigid clasp of her arms and she's looking at you the way she did that night, terrified and desperate, and you know it all hinges on this moment. Finn is moving closer and Rachel Berry is frowning and that kid in the wheel chair is flexing his fingers and you know what you need to do. It's your life but it's always been on Quinn's terms.
"Whatever, Juno," you sneer. "Your baby drama isn't my problem."
It's not the worst thing you've said but it takes care of business. Mr. Schuester calls you out of the room and gives you a private lecture about respecting other people's feelings and you have the sense to look guilty as he ushers you back in the room.
Mr. Schue announces that you're changing partners and Quinn's eyes are still wet and she's still frowning as she slips into Kurt's arms. You gladly take on Mercedes even though she weighs a ton (like, might actually weigh a ton), because it saves you reps at the gym and means you don't have to touch Quinn. Or your baby. Or feel like there's this big lump in you chest where your heart usually is that makes it hard to swallow and kind of hard to breathe.
You curl your arms under Mercedes thighs, spin her and dip her, and when you look up you're staring into Kurt's eyes. They're also bright and wet too, like he's trying hard not to cry, and above Quinn's head he's staring right at Finn.
They're saying "I understand."
The Second Time:
You lost your virginity when you were thirteen to Megan Hathaway because she was fourteen and had been to band camp the summer before and given it up to the drummer, and it was awkward and over way too fast and kind of sucked, but it wasn't the worst sex of your life.
It wasn't the best either, Quinn cradled in your arms, thighs spread wide around your hips, but definitely not the worst.
But you still keep it in mind when you stroll into Sue Sylvester's office and shut the door quietly behind you, because cougars might be animals in the sack but Sue Sylvester is like one of those bugs that has sex and eats the male's head for a post-orgasm snack.
You think about Quinn's eyes, how they're always wet and her shoulders are always shaking, and you paste on your best smile. "Hey, Coach Sylvester."
She looks up from a cheerleading magazine, eyes narrowing as they rake you up and down, and she gets this funny smile you remember from the Acafella's performance. "Mr. Puckerman," she says and doesn't glare at you the way she usually does members of Glee. "What brings you to my neck of the woods?"
You shrug your shoulders, lean back in your chair, stretch your legs and roll your shoulders. You pause for a moment, try to remember the script. "I wanted to say thank you, for what you tried to do for me in Glee." You let your eyes rest on her rows of cheerleading trophies. "It's hard always coming in second." It's getting easier with every sentence you utter; there's truth behind your lies.
She smiles at you, in this weird way that kind of lights up her face and you have her right where you want her. She pushes a cheerleading uniform across the desk. "Smell it," she insists and you reluctantly raise it to your nose. "That's the smell of success."
You smile at her and she smiles back and this is by far the grossest thing you've done in your life (grosser than smelling some cheerleader's rank uniform) but you reach forward and tangle your fingers through her hair and draw your mouth to hers. Her lips are dry and cold and the whole thing is over in ten seconds (but long enough for your cellphone to capture the moment for eternity). She opens her mouth in shock and her tongue kind of slips into your mouth and it takes everything in you not to gag as you pull back.
She's a little dead behind the eyes and you smirk, the way you always did right before dropping Kurt in a dumpster, because you had the power and because you could, and straighten up.
She still looks a little shell-shocked as you brace your hands on the edge of the desk and stare her down; sometimes, the male gets away with his brain intact. "I know you were the one who told Jacob Ben Israel to leak the story about Quinn's pregnancy. If you ever go after her again this pic goes public." You shift your eyes to the rows of trophies lining her walls. "And there goes your future."
You think it's probably the first time in her life that someone has rendered Sue Sylvester speechless. She does little more than stare, jaw agape, as you saunter out of the office.
The Third Time:
It's Ohio and the winters are harsh but never too cold for slushies and some things are tradition anyway.
You're a senior and have open lunch on Fridays and one day you come back in mid-November with a cherry slushie in one hand and Rachel Berry right in your line of sight.
She's wearing a sweater that's kind of white and kind of yellow and is probably the exact color of those paint samples your mom keeps threatening to paint the living room, and she's not your type but you can't help fantasizing about cherry-ice dripping down the curves of her breasts. Five months in the past, and you'd be staining that sweater without a second thought.
Mark Bowen is on your left, hand raised and aim steady (you've seen his jump shot) but yours pauses at your side.
Rachel is kind of your friend. She still makes you want to set yourself on fire because she never stops talking and most of it isn't about anything you want to hear about but you love listening to her sing.
She makes Finn smile and it makes the guilt locking around your heart ease a bit.
She sits with Quinn at lunch and makes her eat and tells terrible jokes that make her laugh and you're pretty sure she's the reason she's survived the past five months. She does all the things Quinn won't let you do.
Your fingers are starting to freeze, cramp, around the iced cardboard of the cup but you can't do it. She's taking care of your baby; you can't return the favor by trying to drown her in crushed ice.
Your hand closes on Mark's arm. "I have a better idea."
Jacob Ben Israel turns the corner and all you see is Quinn crying in the hallway after the story broke. And crying in the parking lot the day Sylvester kicked her off the Cheerios for good. And crying as Rachel dragged her into the bathroom, orange ice coating her cheeks.
Your eyes lock on Jacob Ben Israel and all you see is red.
It matches the ice dripping slowly down Jacob's shocked face.
The Fourth Time:
It gets colder and darker and Quinn's clothes stop fitting her.
She has a sweatshirt of Finn's, grey and faded and torn at the cuffs, and she wears it like a shield over the bulge of your baby.
She's starting to look like it, grey and faded and tired. So tired. You haven't seen her smile, really smile, since the day Jacob Ben Israel blew her world apart. Your world too, even if she won't let you be a part of hers.
You watch her get bigger and you watch her get paler and you wish she could look the way she did the day of the mash up, golden and glowing and practically gliding through the air. You remember how happy she looked that day, hair flying around her face and her dress flipping up over her knees, and how she couldn't stop smiling (even without the added benefit of Vitamin D).
You want to see that look on her face again.
You're Jews but your mom gets sentimental every December and one morning you wake up and a bag of her "fat clothes" are waiting in your seat at the breakfast table.
She tells you about a clothing drive they discussed at the last PTA meeting and when you pull up to school that morning you're holding a GAP bag full of old sweaters and mom jeans.
You don't take your mom's crap to the clothing drive. You take it straight to Kurt.
He raises an eyebrow as you dump the bag at his feet but doesn't kick it away. "What am I supposed to do with this?"
You hesitate, because this is Kurt and neither of you have forgotten the dumpster, but you haven't forgotten that moment in Glee practice either. You don't meet his eyes and your voice doesn't really sound like your own when you push out the words. "Quinn wears that sweatshirt every day," you say softly. "I don't think she owns anything else."
Kurt shrugs and turns to his locker. "I offered to take her shopping but she said she's broke. There's not much I can do."
You reach out, wrap your fingers around his bicep like it's four months in the past and you aren't sort of friends and he doesn't kind of keep your secrets. "I've seen what you wear to football practice." You hesitate, pull out the big guns. "I have money. I can pay you if you want." You let go of his arms and he rubs his shoulder but surprises you when he doesn't walk away. "I want to see her smile again."
Something softens in his face and he smiles without his hair moving an inch. He reaches out to touch you and you flinch away from his grasping fingers, but the smile doesn't leave his lips. "I'll see what I can do."
The next day at school you see Quinn huddled by her locker with Mercedes and Santana and she's wearing a green sweater of your mom's that's tight over her boobs but flows over the bump of your baby and has something sparkly along the collar that's kind of hideous but brings out the green in her eyes.
It's not the new clothes that catch your eye.
She leans against the locker, one hand on her back and one cradling your baby, the biggest smile you've ever seen lighting up her face.
The Only Time that Matters:
One afternoon in January you show up early for Glee to practice chord progressions with Artie and find Quinn crying on the makeshift stage.
Artie is no where to be found but Rachel is sitting with her, rubbing her back, and glaring daggers at you. "How could you?" she hisses and you know the jig is finally up.
You don't have an answer, or at least an answer that makes sense, or won't make Quinn hate you even more, so you shrug your shoulders and dig your hands deeper into the pockets of your letter jacket. "It just happened."
Rachel keeps rubbing Quinn's back and keeps glaring at you. "He was your best friend, Puck!"
You're not sure why Quinn's getting off so easy but you don't protest. It might take two to tango and all that but she still has the harder burden to carry. "Berry, this really isn't – "
"I wanted it too," Quinn says and her voice is tiny and it's the most she's said to you since that failed practice session in October. "It was a mistake but I wanted it to happen. It's not all his fault, Rachel. Please, stop blaming him."
Rachel takes a deep breath and releases it, and there's a look in her eyes that would have had you running for the hills four months ago but mostly makes you hope she can fix this mess now. "You're my friend, Quinn, but Finn was my friend first. I don't know what to do."
"My parents are going to kill me," Quinn says and chokes a little on the tears. "It was bad enough when it was Finn, but they don't even know you." She gazes straight into your eyes and you're struck by how beautiful she looks even with tears streaking down her cheeks.
"You can live with me," you say before you can think the words all the way through because she's beautiful and she's scared and she's carrying your baby and you didn't force the issue before but you can't walk away from her now.
Two pairs of shocked eyes meet yours. "What?" she manages to ask.
"You're going to live with me," you repeat and the words sound stronger the second time, you believe them more. She pushed you away before and you let her; you won't let her do it again.
You tell your mom and she stares at you for a good minute and a half before she buries her face in her hands and breaks into hysterical sobs. You're better with crying moms than crying girls (more practice over the years) and she turns into your shoulder like she has so many times before, until her tears soak through flannel and she's making those nasty hiccupping sounds into your t-shirt.
When she pulls away her eyes are red-rimmed and she isn't nearly as pretty as Quinn but she's your mom and she smiles like it will all be okay. "Is she at least Jewish?" she asks and you laugh, you both laugh, because it was the perfect thing to say to make this moment less awful because she's a mom and that's what they do. You take note and store it away; if Quinn changes her mind, you hope you'll both do the same.
"She's Quinn Fabray," you tell her and her eyes round a bit.
"The President of the Celibacy Club?"
"Not anymore," you respond and she mumbles something about those shiksas getting their hooks into nice boys and it mostly sounds like "California" and "women half his age" and you don't want to drag your father into this but you can't avoid it. He ran but you won't.
Your mom runs a hand over your mohawk and tousles what's left of your hair. "My baby's having a baby," is all she says and you haven't cried a day since this whole thing started but you feel tears spring to the corners of your own eyes because it's finally real.
Your mom wraps you in her arms and holds you tight. When she tells you it will all be okay you maybe think you believe her.
You're surprised when you show up at Quinn's house at eight and she's waiting on her front porch with a duffle bag at her feet. The house is dark and there are tear tracks on her cheeks and you're getting really sick of people making this girl cry.
You put the bag in the trunk and hold open her door but she pauses at the foot of the driveway. "I can't do it," she says and her gloved fingers cling to the post of her parents' white picket fence. "I know they don't want me, but this is my home. I can't just go."
You take a tentative step towards her and then another and then another and suddenly you're so close that her breath is breaking in white puffs against your face. You reach out a bare hand and slip it under the parka, under a sweater that probably belonged to your mother, and rest your palm over the hot, soft skin of her belly. It's bigger than you remember, harder and rounder too, and you both take in a shaky breath.
You're not Finn so you don't say something cheesy like "you're my home" or "what's mine is yours."
You're just you, so you flatten your fingers over the bump of your baby, and smile in the darkness. "I meant what I said. You're having my baby. You should be where I can take care of you."
She doesn't say anything but her hand slides under the parka and sweater and t-shirt and everything else and curves over yours.
When she looks into your eyes in the moonlight her eyes are dry.
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