A/N: Yeash, I thought I'd have this out a lot sooner, but on the plus side I have nearly all of it written. I'm halfway through the fifth chapter (of six…I think).
One thing that definitely needs to be known going into this story (though it's not that apparent in this chapter) is that if it feels like it's moving backwards, don't worry. Quinn's going to go through a type of one step forward, two steps back situation. The cause of which should be apparent by the end.
Summary: This story partially revolves around the idea that Mr. Schue mentioned at the end of the last episode ("Mash-up"). "It's okay if that happens Quinn, because you have eleven people who will help clean you up." While this is basically eleven people helping to clean her up (sort of thirteen if you squint), it's also Quinn trying to deal with all the changes in her life, which is definitely a struggle. Of course, it's also a Quick fic.
The restoration of (wo)man from the bondage of sin.
Ever since she thought she was pregnant and had her suspicions confirmed by that doctor out of town, she's known she'd end up alone in this.
Finn would definitely leave her. As much as she's tried to fight it she's not stupid enough to think that the truth would never get out. Then, she knows, it's over with them.
She knows her parents will be far too disappointed to hold her hand during a doctor's appointment or even be there when she has the baby.
She knows that none of her friends will probably be there for her either because she knows that none of them were probably real friends. Her mother always said that it doesn't matter how many people come to your birthday party because they care about you, it only matters how many people come. Popularity and friendship just don't mix. Popularity is a big part of the "perfect" daughter her parents want and for better or worse she's wanted to be that daughter for them. And now her efforts to be that daughter will leave her without them and without anyone else due to the lifestyle she's lead for them because she made one mistake.
One mistake and she's going to be totally alone.
The day Finn gets a slushie in the face she recognizes the beginning of the end. People will start slipping away from her life from now on, just as everything else she's ever known is slipping away from her.
The end is near she figures. Soon she'll have nothing left at all.
Santana and Brittney
She doesn't have the energy to chastise Finn after their dual slushie facial from his fellow football players. She's too horrified. Too close to tears to do anything except flee to the nearest bathroom and try to clean up in order to distract herself from crying.
The bathroom is empty thankfully, but she's pleasantly surprised when Santana and Brittney come bursting through the door only a minute after her.
"Are you sure you guys should be seen with me?" she questions. She's glad they're there, but this is high school where popularity is paramount so she'd understand if they didn't want to be seen with the likes of her now. If the situation was reversed she's pretty sure she'd think of herself first.
Santana locks the door with a smirk as she says, "We won't be seen."
She smiles gratefully.
The girls get to work on her. They grab paper towels, dry and wet, and try to remove the slushie gunk off her face and hair first.
They don't talk about the giant elephant in the room or anything that could be associated with it. They don't mention the fact that she just got slushies thrown at her, they don't talk about why, they avoid the fact that she's pregnant, and they don't talk about cheer (because they know they won't all be in it much longer).
Instead, they do what they would normally do in the bathroom: gossip.
"Mr. Schue is totally cute with Ms. Pillsbury. And yeah, she's kind of weird, but they should so get together," Brittany gushes obliviously.
"Uh," Santana begins puzzled. She thought the ring on Mr. Schue's hand and the fact that they met his pregnant wife made the reason he's not with the guidance counselor pretty obvious. "Brit, remember that crazy school nurse we met?"
"Oh," she says, reality finally dawning on her, "I forgot about her. But he's way more into Ms. Pillsbury. He should just leave his wife and be with the woman he clearly wants more."
Quinn wondered if he would do that. Mr. Schue was a really good guy and if he could leave his "pregnant" wife for someone he cared about more then what would stop Finn? Maybe he wouldn't have to find out the truth to leave her. And that scared her just as much as the part where she ends up alone. Because if he left her without knowing the truth then it would be because she just wasn't good enough. If he left because he found out the truth at least it could be blamed on a mistake.
"I don't see him leaving his wife," Santana speculates and it makes Quinn feel a bit better. "Oh," she begins stopping trying to wipe slushie from Quinn's temple as she realizes she has something she really wanted to mention, "did you see what happened the other day at glee though?"
"What?" both Brittany and Quinn respond having no ideas as to what she's talking about. Though, Quinn fears it's something about Puck and when he sang and possibly how she reacted or, even worse, how maybe it made Santana want him back.
"Puck was singing to Rachel," Santana said with disgust, "they're dating or something. I'd bet my life on it. And it's so…unnatural. I can't believe a guy I went out with would go out with her."
"I don't think she's that bad," Brittney offered honestly to the glares of the other girls. She added hastily, "But it's totally weird that Puck would go out with her."
Quinn's heart started racing, her breathing got shallow, her stomach started churning, and dizziness invaded her head. She gripped the sink in an effort not to collapse, making her slouch to grab the low surface.
"Are you okay?" Santana asked immediately as she stopped cleaning up her friend and leaned over with her to try and read her face.
"Yeah," Quinn assured softly, "just felt nauseous all of a sudden." She doesn't say why and neither do they. The thing that bothers her about it later though is that she's not sure it was baby induced.
Later, the next day as the all-important 3:30 time comes and passes her suspicions are confirmed when she see's Puck walk through the door, smile at Rachel, duck his head in embarrassment, and hug her. She feels her stomach churn again at the sight and she's glad that she's wearing sunglasses otherwise everyone might be able to tell that her eyes haven't left him.
Again, she feels like she's going to be sick. What is he doing with Rachel?
She sat there while he performed the other day completely captured by him. As he sang, smiled, smirked, she could feel him in every part of her. It was like every single cell in her body came alive (it wasn't the first time she felt it because of him, but the last time she ended up pregnant). It was a mistake to be so caught up in him though (both times) because it clearly caused her to miss that he had someone else (the same someone else her boyfriend wanted).
She starts a mantra in her head about how maybe Puck chose Rachel over football (which would have greatly perplexed her if she gave it any thought, but she totally, absolutely didn't…much) but Finn was choosing to save them over being friends with the glee kids and that was right (except it wasn't really them, it was him that got saved).
Two days after she gets her first slushie thrown at her and Santana and Brittney help her clean up, she knows it will never happen again.
Because Coach Sylvester just kicked her off the Cheerios.
She stood in the middle of the hallway and got the news she had been dreading. Everyone else's world continued around her as hers fell apart.
And there wasn't anyone there to help her put it back together or at least consol her about it. There was no one. Just her. Just as she had always known it would be eventually, she was alone. She knew, this would only be the first time where she wouldn't have anyone there for her.
She's determined to stay strong though. The tears prickle in her eyes but she knows she probably has a lot more, worse, moments ahead of her to face alone and if she can get through this one without crying (publically at least) maybe she'll make it through the others.
So she holds in the tears and races home to change out of her uniform before glee. She gather's all of her uniforms and prepares them to drop off and leave at school- they're not hers anymore. She get's back to school and leaves them in the Cheerio's locker room just as she planned. She goes to glee and feels a little bit better thanks to Mr. Schue letting them all throw the slushies at him. She takes in the encouragement that she'll have people there for her believing that they're only saying it because of Mr. Schue's prompt. And when practice is over she leaves glee, alone.
She gets through it all without crying. The strength it took to get through every second that she felt like crying is a small comfort. At least she was strong this once, even if she loses that in the months to come.
On Monday morning she comes to school for the very first time since the first week of freshman year without her cheer uniform on.
She sits in her car for a minute after she's turned it off. She didn't consider not showing up, though she's more than a bit apprehensive now that she's here. But she knows that if she doesn't go in it will be like she's too weak to face them. And with everything that is sure to come she knows that she can use all of the exercises in strength that come her way.
She takes a deep breath and gets out of her car.
As she approaches the building she's surprised to see all the kids from glee gathered together (the original glee kids at least). She's even more surprised when they wave to her and call her over.
She walks over to them and Kurt hands her a gift bag. She peers inside and pulls out a clear raincoat.
"We didn't know what color to get you and we couldn't agree on one at all so we settled on clear so it would go with anything," Rachel explains.
Arty pipes up with a smile, "I voted for a poncho over a coat, but I was vetoed by everyone."
"You're a summer and you should be wearing summer colors. But no one listened to that either," Kurt explained as he discretely pointed at Rachel as the one who clearly didn't let him do what he wanted.
"Thank you," she says sincerely. She didn't expect this of them. After all, if she herself hasn't made any of their lives miserable, then the people she used to call her friends did.
But she has a raincoat in her closet and she didn't dig it out for a reason. She puts the gift back in the bag and forces herself to stick to her decision even though explaining it could make her sound bitchy now- which she knows she can't afford to be to them anymore. She tells them evenly, "It's a thoughtful gift and I appreciate it, but I'm not going to wear it unless the weather calls for it. Wearing a raincoat into school would be like admitting that I deserve to get slushied. And I don't." She adds because she's still surprised by their kindness, "And neither do you." She doesn't say it smiling or especially sweetly, just stating a fact. She never did understand why some people would just stand there and take the crap her and her "friends" would do to them.
She holds her head high and proceeds around them into campus.
When she's only a few feet from the building she suddenly hears from beside her, "But when it does actually rain, you prefer ponchos, right?"
She looks to her right and finds Arty wheeling beside her. "I can't honestly say that I would," she answers somewhat regrettably.
"Darn it," he responds, but far too up beat to actually sound like he was at all sad or angry.
She gets to the door first and opens it for him. She could really use all the good karma she could get these days.
"Thank you," he says as he wheels himself through. "Where're headed?" he asks as they begin their way down the main hall.
"Calculus, Mr. Roberts," she says as she pauses at her locker (main hallway, top locker, at least the good location won't change even though she's not a cheerleader anymore).
"I'll roll with you," he offers with a smile, "I'm just down the hall from there in pre-cal with the scary Mrs. Krutch."
"I had her last year. Why do you think she's scary?" Quinn questions as she begins to head toward her class with him. She doesn't understand how he could find the woman scary. She was semi-strict and otherwise fairly normal, forgettable even.
"Have you ever seen The Night Of The Living Dead? Or at least seen the movie posters for it?" Arty questions in return.
"No," she answers.
He stops rolling and turns to her, "Seriously? Do you have something against zombie movies or something?"
"No," she answers uncertainly. He raises his eyebrows at her and somehow it seems so exaggerated on him that she can't help smiling as she admits, "I'm not the biggest fan of scary movies."
"Well," he offers, "that's understandable. But you have to look up the poster for the movie sometime because I swear that Mrs. Krutch looks like she could have been the creepy woman on it when she was younger."
They walk/roll on as Quinn asks skeptically, "That's your only reason for thinking she's scary?"
"That and the fact that I once saw her in a car, just her and what appeared to be about a dozen cats," he answers. He smiles up at her and confides, "Cats freak me out. With their beady eyes and everything. You're not a cat person, are you?"
"Never had one, never wanted one," she answers honestly. She wouldn't object to one if it was a gift or something, but she's not going out and getting one herself. But she doesn't tell him that part. It's nice talking to him and she doesn't want to ruin it.
" 'Atta girl," he says, but his face immediately crumples in dislike. They stop because they're at her class and he adds, "That's not one of those phrases I can pull off, is it?"
"Not really," she admits with a small smile.
He shrugs as if to say "oh well," and says with his usual bright smile, "See you later Quinn."
"Bye," she replies as he rolls down the hall.
She enters her class and realizes she got all the way there without getting slushied. It's only five minutes that she's managed to go without it, but at least she had those five minutes.
Plus, she may have been starting to make a real friend in Arty. He had always been nice to her, but had never dared to approach her outside of glee. She's grateful that he did now though, talking to him was a nice distraction from the glares and whispers she always seems to receive as she walks down the halls these days.
When calculus is finally over she turns out of the classroom to head to her next class (stopping by her locker was more time in the hallways so she already grabbed her book- she figured it wasn't the same as the raincoat thing, that was a giant slushie sign, this was just being smart). She was surprised to find that Arty was suddenly beside her again when she was only a dozen feet out her classroom door.
"Wow, this is unusual. I almost never usually see you in the halls and now, twice in a row," he says without looking at her.
She glances at him and thinks that there's something odd about it. She's not used to this type of situation though- genuine kindness- so maybe not. Maybe he's just not looking at her because he needs to see where he's wheeling himself. She doesn't stay concerned with the way he sounded for long though because she realizes she doesn't know what to say. Something bitchy, pointed, hurtful- those are the types of responses she's used to. Her only other practiced mode is flirting, but that really doesn't feel appropriate here. Nice, normal, casual conversation with someone who seems to be interested in transitioning from semi-acquaintance to friend- this, she's completely unfamiliar with.
Luckily, Arty doesn't only not notice her complete lapse in skill in this particular area, but he begins conversationally, "As someone who's walking with me I should probably warn you that on occasion I have been known to turn without taking notice of who's around me, which results in me running over them. It's like when you accidentally bump into someone while walking, just being hit by the chair makes it hurt more- I'm told." He chuckles a bit and adds, "You'd think I'd be a bit better with the chair after nearly ten years."
She's struck by the thought that that means that there was a time when he was able to walk and as just a little kid he lost that. She may not have much experience with "normal" conversation, but she knows better than to ask about or dwell on it. He's always seemed very light-hearted to her so she forces a smile and responds, "Why should you be less clumsy with the chair than everyone else is on their feet? You watch everyone stumble trying to learn the choreography at glee, their entire lives on their feet doesn't make them any smoother at it."
"Good point," he responds with a smile. "Though you hardly seem to stumble during the choreography. In fact, I'm not sure I've ever seen you slip even a little."
Her smile turns real at the compliment, but it fades quickly as she thinks about the reason she doesn't slip up at glee or cheer, ever. "I'm not supposed to fall," she says softly glancing away.
He's either nice enough not to comment or has realized he still needs to head to his class as they have reached hers.
She realizes where they are and is about to mention how they walked to her class instead. Did all people do this? Was it normal to just go to someone else's class if you had started a conversation with them and risk being late to your own class? Some sort of social courtesy she was unaware of?
"Our classes are in the same hall again, weird," Arty comments, "we both have math wing followed by science wing. I don't know about you, but those aren't my most favorite subjects so mornings are kind of a drag."
"Yeah," she agrees simply, "I guess I'll see you around then." She heads into her classroom thinking it was the last time she'd come across him today. It wasn't the biggest school, but it would be one hell of a coincidence if they had the same areas of the school the rest of the day.
As she sits in class she's reassured by the fact that Arty walked with her to a second class because it meant that the first one wasn't some kind of fluke. He actually seemed to want to be her friend. Normally, she wouldn't have been too crazy about the idea. But right now she knows that she can't be picky about the people she lets in her life because most people would prefer to be as far away from her as possible. Plus, if she has any chance at regaining her popularity she has to start somewhere and it would probably be a good idea to have some people genuinely on her side when she rises to the top again.
When Quinn gets out of AP Biology she's stunned to see Arty just feet away and waving at her as he rolls in her direction. Three times in a row? This was…this was intentional she realizes.
"Arty," she begins questioningly, "is there a reason you're following me around today?"
He looks down guiltily before meeting her eyes again and asks, "You caught on?"
"Yeah," she confirms with a nod.
He explains, "You've been banished to Social Siberia. Most of us in glee have been there so we were all coming up with ways to make it…not as bad. I thought I could escort you to your classes and maybe it would deter any slushies, or at least you wouldn't be getting hit with one alone."
It was sweet and thoughtful and full of the best intentions. She wasn't used to people like that. She smiles and says sincerely, "Thank you Arty."
He shrugs modestly. He starts to roll in the direction of the main hallway as he comments, "Well, I wanted to try and do something and I know that I can't help you get cleaned up, like Mr. Schue said, if you did get slushied because unlike Kurt I'm not comfortable going in the girl's bathroom."
"It's sweet that you want to help," she begins, "but you don't have to keep escorting me to my classes." She knows what he's doing is really very nice, but she doesn't feel like she deserves it and somehow accepting his help for the whole day feels dishonest and greedy and she doesn't need to feel any worse than she already usually does.
"Everyone deserves at least one real friend," he returns, making his case for sticking out his mission.
She reaches her locker and pulls out her books before admitting, "I may not have a lot of experience with real friends, but I'm pretty sure they don't let each other sacrifice too much for the other. I don't want to be an inconvenience to you all day. I'll be fine on my own."
He knows she has a point and he also knows her schedule for the rest of the day and that it'd be a real challenge for him to make it to her classes and his on time for the remainder of the day. He sighs and gives in, "Okay. I won't roll with you to any more classes." He adds as a condition, "But I do have my first two classes near yours and I'll only agree to leave you now if you let me be your escort to them every day."
"Deal," she agrees easily and with a real smile again. She's glad he's sticking around because his theory about her not getting slushied with him had worked so far. And she's glad because he's made plans to continue to try to become her friend and that's a really nice thing to come out of all this.
"Alright," he says with his usual big grin. "Now should you get slushied keep in mind, 'Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.'"
"Deuteronomy," she says recognizing it, "I didn't know you were Christian."
He nods as he replies with his usual smile still in tact, "Yep, and I even play for my church's teen mass Sunday nights."
"You should have joined celibacy club," she comments before she realizes that she shouldn't mention it. How stupid is it that she mentioned a club she can't be a part of because she violated its one major rule?
He thankfully glosses over it with a joke, "Yeah I considered it, but I would have felt guilty for being in it because I'm not exactly celibate by choice, it's kind of just more a condition, one that I do spend time trying to change."
"Right," she comments understandingly and hopes they breeze past this awkward club-dropping of hers quickly.
"Okay, I shall leave you for real this time and head to class. You're sure you'll be okay?" he checks.
"Absolutely," she assures and, having just started her first real friendship in God knows how long, she actually believes things will be better than she expected.
"Then I will see you later. Real later this time not my fake lying later like earlier," he rambles. "Bye," he ends not so smoothly as he turns and rolls off.
He sees one of the school jackasses headed his way, and therefore Quinn's way, with a slushie in hand. He glances back and sees that though Quinn is shuffling books in her locker around, she's noticed it too. He rolls towards the jerk in the letterman jacket, it is the direction he needs to go in to get to his locker anyway so he has that defense, and gets a little close to the guy. He makes sure to turn his chair into the guy and hope he's done it at the right moment to avoid disaster.
He turns and sees that the guy has tripped a few feet from Quinn, spilling the slushie before he reached his target. Quinn did catch some minor splashage on her shoes and sweater sleeve, but at least it isn't all over her.
"I'm so sorry," he says acting like it was just an accident fairly successfully. He glances back at Quinn and adds with a smile, "See, I told you I'm still a klutz with this chair."
"Thank you," she mouths to him with a grateful smile.
He modestly ducks his head and lifts it again with a brief smile as he waves to her before heading off to class.
She gets slushied later as she's walking with Finn after lunch, but at least she had a morning that was much better than she expected. She thought Finn would be the only one to talk to her all day, but the glee kids made a nice gesture and then she got to start becoming friends with Arty. Plus, Arty saved her. After all the times she never saved anyone from horrible fates and the times she was the person inducing the horrible fate on someone, she got saved. It didn't feel fair for the person she was to get treated so nicely by someone, but as she tried not to cry after cleaning up the slushie alone in the bathroom that day, she knew that she's not turning any offers of friendship away no matter how much she doesn't deserve it. Right now she's alone and if she has to remain that way getting attacked each day, despite all her strength, she doesn't think she'll make it through the next few months. So if people being there for her means abandoning what she's known and being nice to people who aren't popular and will only continue hinder her popularity, then so be it.
She thought she'd have to be alone for all of it. But she knows she may not survive alone. And today Arty showed her that all she has to do to not be alone is recognize and accept kindness when it's offered to her. From now on, she vows to do just that.
(Though, when the truth comes out that she's been lying about the true paternity of her baby, she worries that any friends she manages to make, she'll lose, and she'll end up alone again. But temporary friends are better than never having any at all. Because as Arty said, everyone deserves at least one real friend- and it's just a condition of her new life that hers aren't going to last.)
A/N: I hope you enjoyed reading the first chapter!
Next chapter spotlights Quinn getting help from Mercedes and Tina and Ms. Pillsbury.
Remember, REVIEWS= Love.