a/n: I am sooo sorry this took so long. I really really dislike it (for some reason, Quinn's pov is so insanely hard for me to write), but I just wanted to get it published and move on. Don't be surprised if I edit this at some time in the future lol.
You don't spend much time worrying about Noah Puckerman. In fact, you spend so little time pondering his outburst at your party that you consider it no time wasted at all. Why should it matter if he's got issues? Doesn't affect you at all. Despite the mess of a party, your life is about as perfect as it can get, and you know it. You're smart, pretty, spoiled, and popular. At eight years old, that is all that could ever be important. Still, as your mom resets the disarrayed snack table behind you, muttering things you're certain her church friends wouldn't approve of, you can't look away from Puck's retreating figure. You watch with knitted brows as Mrs. Hudson ushers him out the door, because, worth your concern or not, you are an intelligent young girl and his behavior flicks at your curiosity like a petulant child. Like him, you suppose. But not a minute after he's left your sight, you are back to being Quinn Fabray, calm and collected in spite of the temporary distraction. You have better things to do with your time than worry about some messed up little boy.
So you plaster on that gracious little smile you've perfected, practically curtsy whenever an adult approaches you, and make sure that your flawless manners are on display. If you hadn't already, you win over everyone in attendance with what a cute, well-behaved little girl you are. Your popularity will skyrocket after this, especially since you dealt with that little 'incident' with such poise. It's inevitable. Everything with you is inevitable. Prom queen, head cheerleader, most attractive female, most likely to succeed, best smile, most fun to be around…most sought after girlfriend. At eight years old, you don't even know what inevitable means, but ten years from now, you'll look back at this party and say that yes, you did know what kind of person you'd turn into.
And that would be so close to the truth. So close.
But for the remainder of the party, your mind is not on the future. It is on the present, the soon-to-be past.
Santana whispers inane gossip into your ear, you're pretty certain you saw Brittany having a thorough conversation with a painting in your foyer, Mike Chang gets stuck in the entrance to the moon bounce three times, and Carly Smith eats so much red velvet cake that she throws up on her mother's mary janes. But you expect all of that. Well, if not expect, you certainly aren't surprised. There isn't much that catches you off guard these days.
At the end of the day, you find yourself wondering what it was that made him snap. Was it you? You want to ask your mother, but you're still angry that she's donating the EasyBake oven you received to the church. You already have one, yes, but having two would mean you could bake two things at one time. And it was [i]your[/i] present, after all. You should be the one that decides what to do with it.
Besides, you already know what she would say. "He's just jealous, baby. Don't worry your pretty little head about that boy." As jealous as you're sure he is, something tells you that has nothing to do with it.
Instead of broaching the topic at all, you continue pouting as your mother helps you sort through the remainder of your gifts, lips downturned and jaw set so she realizes just how upset you are. She does, of course, but says nothing until the collection of inappropriate and/or excessive gifts is tucked safely into the back of her car for tending to. "Honey, get over it. They're just toys, you have plenty." She grasps your chin with her thumb and first finger, smile lingering on her pale lips but nowhere close to reaching her eyes.
It's not fair. It's not fair that you don't get to keep all of your gifts. So what if Finn's gummy worms are bad for your teeth. You brush your teeth three times a day and you've never had a cavity. Not even after the time your sister told you to eat the whole bag of m&m's your mom had hidden in the cabinet. You might've been sick for three straight days, but you didn't have any cavities. And if you didn't have any then, you wouldn't have any now.
You open your mouth to protest, but she's already dropped her hand and started towards the kitchen to prepare dinner, leaving you standing in the foyer with downcast eyes and willfully strong pout. Not a second later though, she invites you to help with the meal and the expression is but a ghost in your eyes.
The last time you think you'll ever wonder about Noah Puckerman and his internal motives occurs that night when your father is tucking you into bed. You aren't ready to go to sleep, even though you are utterly exhausted, but he presses his lips against your forehead and your eyes flutter closed on their own accord. His weight lifts off your bed and you watch him pace towards the door with an urge suddenly rising in your throat, driving sleep away from your mind.
"Daddy?" the soft question escapes before you can retract it, forcing you to consider your words very carefully. You want to ask him the same question you failed to ask your mother, but…you have a feeling he'd answer in the same manner. For once, you just want them to be honest. You want to know why Noah Puckerman, of all people, [i]hates[/i] you. Because as far as you know, no one else hates you. Why should he be any different?
Your father pauses at the doorway, one hand on the frame and a soft look tossed over his shoulder, and you immediately know that you have to ask. He would never lie to you, and right now, the moment in question is nagging at the back of your mind, begging for some kind of resolution. "Yes, Quinnie?" You have to bite your lip to keep the words from just falling out of your mouth, and he doesn't miss the hesitation. A short second later, he's perched on the edge of you bed again, a hand resting on your legs through the comforter with slightly pursed lips and a curiously furrowed brow. "What is it, darling?"
You worry at your lip for a few moments longer, trying to sort through the thoughts in your mind and the words that you want to say, but you don't even know where to start. This is a situation that you've never been in before. No one's ever admitted they hated you, let alone screamed it at you while ruining your birthday party. You aren't sure whether to ask about him or you or…both? But you decide that you did absolutely nothing wrong, so it must be him. It has to be him, because it doesn't make sense otherwise. You had been [i]nice[/i] to him.
"Why does he hate me?" You watch as he quirks his brows in momentary confusion, swallowing hard and feeling more vulnerable than you've ever felt in your life. They've always taught you not to care about the other kids. You can have friends and feel connected to them, but you must watch how close you get to anyone. People are deceitful and irresponsible (unlike you), and they will let you down. It's inevitable. You cannot let their feelings influence your own life, because this…these emotions tugging at your heart will happen more often than you can handle. This confusion, this utter loss is enough to last you a lifetime, so you won't let it happen again.
Recognition floods your father's eyes, causing his lips to purse even further and you wonder for a second if he's going to get angry with you. The last time you asked such a stupid question, he ignored it and told you to stop being foolish. But you pray he won't this time. You pray, despite the selfishness of asking for something so small and trivial, because it won't leave you alone and you don't know why. You can't understand why it's bothering you so much, and that is the worst part. You aren't really even friends. To you, there is absolutely no logical reason why Noah's words keep ringing in your ears like a soft, distant echo with no source.
You've been in arguments before, Santana's told you she hated you more times than you care to count, but she never meant it. Ten minutes later and she'd be begging you for forgiveness.
Maybe that's the problem. Did he mean it? How could he hate you when you invited him to your birthday party? It just didn't make any sense…you need it to make sense.
Your father sighs loudly, but you don't look at him until his hand nudges your chin upwards. From the familiar expression etched into his furrowed brow, you get the feeling that another lecture on the nature of jealousy is about to occur, but he surprises you. His eyes soften, and although they are still hard and full of that familiar bite, he seems genuinely concerned that these thoughts are still causing you turmoil. You suppose that's why you love him so much.
Because…there's a lot that you don't understand about life.
You try to pretend as though you have an angle, a perspective that others don't, so you can comprehend things that no one else does. But at the end of the day, you're just as naïve and ignorant as the rest of them. You don't know why the sky is blue, why the world turns, or why boys act the way they do, but you are eight years old and fairly certain that you aren't supposed to. You are too young to be expected to know everything.
And yet, your mother tells you things as if they're common knowledge, which makes you wonder if you're just too slow to pick them up on your own.
But your father? Even if he is harsh and cold at times, the man will not lie to you. He does what he can to make you feel better without manipulating the present information, and you appreciate that. You appreciate it because there are only so many snide, untruthful comments that you can take falling from your mother's lips.
He's there, consoling you in his odd way, and making you feel stronger, just like that. "He doesn't hate you, Quinnie. No one hates you; you're a perfect little angel."
So close. He's ruined it again, smiling at you with your mother's smile
"The fact of the matter is, the boy doesn't know how to love. Now, those Jews can have their religion. They can believe what they want, it doesn't mean a lick of a difference to me, but as long as they refuse to believe that Jesus Christ is God's son, they'll never be capable of completely loving anything. How do we learn to love, Quinn?"
You hesitate. He's gone on another religious rant, and while you have certainly learned to appreciate the honesty laced in his words, it isn't what you want to hear. It never is. But you hold back the sigh that perches itself at the edge of your throat, blinking it away until you can meet your father's gaze again.
"Come on, you know the answer to this"
You hesitate again, but this time the answer falls from your lips on it's own accord.
"Because God gave up his son for us?"
"Exactly. God loved us so much that he sacrificed his only child to save us. That is the very basis for love itself. So let me ask you this…how can he love if he doesn't believe in that?"
"He can't." The point he's trying to make is instantly clear, but it takes a moment for that to actually register in your mind. If you're honest, it makes perfect sense. You've been taught all along that you love, because God loves you. And Noah... well, you aren't sure about him and his beliefs. Like your father always said, it doesn't concern you.
"Correct. So don't you worry your pretty little head over him. He doesn't deserve you anyways. Not in any way, shape, or form."
He ends his speech with a chirp and that smile you can't stand, but his lips are on your forehead again before he's out the door and things… seem okay. You feel better. Part of you, at least. The other isn't quite sure that the reasoning he's given you is acceptable, but it's no matter. You're too tired to dwell on thoughts of Noah Puckerman anymore.
By the next day, the conversation with your father leaves little doubt that you'll never worry about that boy again. You had your moment of weakness, of curiosity, but it has passed and will not return. There is no sympathy in your eyes when they meet his red-rimmed ones the next morning, a void your expression copies with a haughty upwards tilt of your nose. You don't care if he's cried because of the party, since he certainly deserved it, a fact that he's obviously aware of with the way he immediately looks away.
The party is perhaps the first time he's done something you would never associate with Noah Puckerman. A few days before school is out for the summer, a bunch of your classmates catch him picking flowers at recess and have a good laugh at the red-handed boy's expense. "Boys don't pick flowers," they say through waves of laughter. He promptly tosses them on the ground and crushes them with the hard toe of his boot, muttering something about that being his intention all along. The gang of boys seem to buy it and eventually scatter off after another brief exchange, but you don't. You watch from the bench a few feet away, a book in your lap and a curious expression constant on your face. He doesn't leave with the others like you expect. Instead, he hang s around, watching them meander away while his feet kick idly at the dirt and leaves that surround them. After a moment of the same pattern, Noah bends down and picks the broken flowers off of the ground, far more gently than you're ever used to seeing him be. He cradles them in one hand and uses the other to attempt to right them, to fix them, though it seems like a worthless cause to you. They were broken beyond repair; there was never any point in wasting time on fixing them. But something in the way he stares at those flowers made the retort you have bubbling in your stomach dissipate the second it reaches your throat. It's forlorn, full of longing and regret. There is nothing in that moment that you can force yourself to say, not when the boy looks so incredibly vulnerable.
So you swallow the urge and let him have whatever moment he is having while you return to your book. But before you can flip to the next page, his eyes find yours and the both of you straighten with shock. You see his brow furrow, eyes darting around as they search your own, though he does not say anything for that brief moment. It's when he sets his jaw and stalks past your bench that he mutters something about the flowers being for his sister.
That excuse lasts for a brief minute, because you know for a fact he has no sister. He's an only child, everyone knows this. You're too busy with your silent fuming to think about the actual meaning behind his words, because no one lies to you. Not so blatantly. Not when you hadn't planned on involving yourself in the matter anyways.
You won't take that kind of behavior.
So you let slip to Dave, on accident of course, that Noah held onto those bruised flowers and next thing you know, a fight as broken out in the middle of class.
You are the only one in class that doesn't scream or panic. The boys are all out of their seats, some attempting to join in the fray and others cheering animatedly from the sideline, while the girls pretend to be appalled, though you can see the curiosity lingering in their eyes.
But you? No.
You lean back in your chair with the ghost of a smirk curling your lips, silently appreciating the damage that you've caused.