A/N: I know, I'm posting something new pretty quick. It's shocking to me too. As is the fact that this isn't at least twenty pages. Should this be expected from me again? I don't know, but I think the odds favor no.
Anyway, the reason that this short fic that is sort of a response to "Ballads" didn't come out sooner is because while writing it, I was also working on something else. For a while now the idea of writing a fic revolving around the idea of a Puck/Quinn history has been knocking around in my head. Something where it's not exactly some long complicated past, but not a fling either. As I've been outlining it over the last few weeks, I've realized it's probably going to be longer than the long story I was already anticipating. Though I've written bits and pieces of it, I'm not sure I should spend that much time on something that will surely be made AU. But if you'd be interested in reading something like that, that starts in the past and works its way to present, please let me know. Though, honestly, I'll probably be writing it either way. Just can't seem to give up writing Quick fics:D
Disclaimer: The things I own do include everything to make delicious fried apple pies (yum!) and sadly do not include Glee.
Burn and Shiver
Their school is on block scheduling.
This is something that she's never really thought about as a significant thing. Sure, it means that when one is assigned weekend homework for a class on a B day (Tuesday and Thursdays), one doesn't have to complete it on the weekend. There's always Monday.
Quinn never thought block scheduling would result in this though.
It's the day after all the glee kids show them their support. It's the day following the second night she spent at the Hudson house. It's two days after her parents kicked her out of their house. She's supposed to head to her second class of the day and she goes to her locker to retrieve her AP US History textbook and she doesn't find it there. She searches through her things again because it has to be there.
And then she freezes.
She knows where it is.
It's in her bedroom. In her parents house.
In her hasty packing she forgot it. She knows it didn't make it to Finn's. Tuesday had seemed impossibly far away and wasn't on her mind at all. And she had her homework in it. And she had hidden one of the sonogram pictures in it (from the first appointment she went to, where her doctor confirmed she was pregnant- seven weeks at the time and yet without a plan to make it Finn's).
It hits her like a semi truck, the idea of having to step foot back in that house again, leave again. She feels the tears stinging her eyes and slams her locker shut and heads for the nearest exit as fast as her feet can take her. She hates falling apart in front of people (been doing far too much of it lately).
Puck immediately decides that Mercedes has no idea what she's talking about.
Back off? Yeah, like hell he will.
If he back's off, leaves Quinn alone like Mercedes suggested, he'd be turning his back on his daughter and that'd make him his dad. He's not becoming his dad; no way, no how.
Besides, Mercedes wasn't right that she picked Finn. Sure technically she had picked him a few times now. But lately, since the whole bake sale thing, she hadn't been pushing him away and that was sort of like at least wanting to pick him, right? Maybe he was just delusional because he wanted this so much, but even if he was, he wasn't walking away no matter how may times she didn't pick him. They're his family and he's not a deadbeat.
But something Mercedes said does linger in his head even though he fights it. She said that he owes Quinn. And she said it to try and make him leave Quinn and Finn alone, which he doesn't agree with, but despite disagreeing with the point of saying it, it doesn't make it any less true.
And when he lets himself think about it, which is pretty damn often if he's being honest, he feels guilty. Yeah, maybe she didn't say no that night, but he knew she was with Finn, was pretty certain she'd regret it, and he knew he should have stopped them. He didn't want to though. He wanted her. And he never gets what he wants but there she was seeming to want him, if just for that moment, and he didn't want to give that up. But because he didn't she's pregnant. And everything that's happened as a result of her being pregnant- getting slushied, getting kicked off the Cheerios, being disowned and kicked out of her house- it's all because of him. He was selfish that night, thinking more about what he wanted than what was right. But just because he fells guilty and he owes her doesn't mean he should walk away like Mercedes said. That's not doing what's right now. Though, he concedes begrudgingly for the sake of keeping peace in glee club and he resolves to back off a little. He's not giving up on her, but maybe this time he should just let her know he's there for her (hence the smirk and "call me" to her in the song) and let her come to him this time.
He's intent on sticking with this idea after it comes to him hours after Mercedes yells at him on Friday. He's even sure he's going to follow through with it all weekend and all day Monday. Then, he see's her down the hall Tuesday at the start of break before their second class of the day. He's at his own locker, though he can't remember why he needed to go to it because he's watching her look frantically through her things. Then he sees her stop, he sees her face begin to crumple into tears, and he sees her flea.
He runs after her. He's not sure if he shut his locker, if he left his backpack steal-ably on the floor, or if Finn or anyone else that mattered was watching. And he didn't care. He resolved to stay away, wait for her, but she clearly needs someone now and everything in him tells him he wants to be the guy she needs. So screw everyone who would say he's making the wrong move now, he's never been much for doing what people want him to anyway. He's being selfish again because he's doing what he wants, but this time, he's convinced that what he wants is right.
She's fast, but he's a running back. He starts to catch up to her as they reach the exit and he calls after her, but it doesn't slow her down. The door's heavy and sticks though and it slows her down enough so that he catches her just three steps out the door. "Hey," he says catching her arm. She stops, tired of running, and he can hear the sob escape her lips. He turns her around and loses the ability to think. How the hell does someone still look beautiful when they're crying? It's like a Twilight Zone thing, gotta be.
He wraps his arms around her. He doesn't really know what he's doing. He just knew that he wanted to be here. He hopes that makes this right. (Sure as hell feels right to be holding her again.)
She heard him call after her, but she hoped that the fact that she didn't stop would be taken as a sign that she didn't want him there. She feels bad enough already and being around him always feels so…conflicting.
The cold stings when she gets outside, but she's not turning back. She feels his hand on her arm though and stops at the contact. Shuts her eyes and cries harder because this is one of those conflicting moments. Before she can think much more about that though, he's turning her around and hugging her. She doesn't push him away. As much as she hasn't wanted to, she needs exactly this. Because she has images swimming in her head of her dad the other night, looking so disappointed in her, looking at her like she's not his daughter, looking at her like he never loved her. And if she has to face that again because she has to walk back into that house…she starts to cry harder. She lets him hold her as she clings to him and cries over the family she lost.
"Everything is going to be okay," he whispers and it sounds like a promise. He strokes her back soothingly and she shuts her eyes, inhales deep before continuing to cry. Honestly, she feels better. This is one of those things that doesn't make sense, but he just did exactly what she needed her dad to do (hold her and tell her everything would be alright), and it made her feel better. He's Puck and he throws people in dumpsters and eggs people and has absolutely no work ethic or sense of right and wrong. So she shouldn't feel so much better hearing that from him, shouldn't feel so safe and cared for in his arms as she does. But he's Puck and he shared his wine coolers and talked to her when she felt bad and he was her first time and he was considerate and thoughtful and he had just ran after her because he just seemed to want to. He's two different people and she doesn't really know either one of them that well, but whatever one he is or the combination of the two, they seem to have a way of making her feel something she's not quite sure of, but at the moment she's simply settling for better.
She calms down considerably, tears coming much slower now, and he leans back, tilts her head up to him and asks, "What's wrong?"
For crying on his shoulder like this, she thinks she owes him an explanation. But when she opens her mouth the words don't come out. Instead the idea of going back there surfaces in her mind again, sits in her chest and makes it ache. She can't help crying harder again.
"It's not the baby, is it?" he asks and she can hear the concern in his voice. She opens her eyes again and sees the worry there and quickly shakes her head no.
"I don't have my history textbook," she forces out. He looks confused and she knows that she can't leave it at that without sounding incredibly over dramatic. She gathers her strength and tries not to cry as she finishes, "I left it at home. At my parents house. And I can't go back there."
He nods. Everyone in glee seems to know she was kicked out so it's not a surprise that she doesn't have to explain further than that.
His hand takes hers, intertwines their fingers, as he swears, "Don't worry about it. I'll figure something out. Get it back for you."
She starts to shake her head and tell him that not only does he not have to, but he probably shouldn't either (she can't pick him now, it's too late). But the words die before she lets them leave her mouth. He's staring at her, looking in her eyes with that conflicting, complicated something that makes her feel so confused. As if, if only she could identify it and maybe she wouldn't feel so lost in all of this.
She doesn't know a lot with him, with them. But what she does know is how she feels in moments like this. Where he's looking at her in that way that it seems like she matters to him. Like he did when he was singing "Lean On Me" with the glee kids. And she shook her head then like she just had now, bites her lip a little, because this is not at all how she expected to feel about him. He's a big part of the reason she's pregnant, the reason her world is falling apart, and she should hate him. But she doesn't.
Instead, she stands before him in moments like this, meeting his eyes, and feels this burn, this heat. He looks at her and something ignites. This passion, this emotion she can't quite identify combusts within her and she feels like she's burning, like she's literally giving off heat.
He reaches up with the hand that isn't holding hers and brushes some hair out of her face, tucks it behind her ear. She trembles slightly at the contact. And this is one of those confusing things about him, about them. Because she feels like she's burning with him, and she can shiver with him at the same time. He can just barely touch her like that, when he's still staring at her in that way that makes her feel like she's ablaze, and she can still quiver. She's not sure why exactly. Is she trembling out of excitement? The possibility that his touch can lead to? Does she shake out of fear? Though the first two do seem likely, she leans more towards the latter. Because one thing she does know is that he's the scariest thing she's ever done. He's the least certain, the one without rational or purpose, the one on feeling alone and that, it terrifies her.
The burn and the shiver bring her back to that fear she feels about him, about them. She pulls away from him, out of his reach as she finally finds the voice to say what she intended, "You shouldn't. I'll figure out something on my own."
"I'm sure you could," he agrees, but he's more stubborn than that (wants her more than that), "but I want to help. I want to be there for you. For both of you."
She bites her lip, glances at the ground to escape the earnestness in his eyes. She told her dad that Finn loves her and in moments like this she thinks she may not be lying if she had said that the father of her baby loves her. He wants them so much. And it sounds good sometimes, the idea of them. She could be with him, he'd take care of her, and she could keep the little girl she already loves so much that she couldn't help the corners of her mouth turning up when she told him about her. They could be a family (and she really needs one now).
But she wasn't lying when she told her dad that Finn loves her. In his own sweet but stupid way, he really cares about her. And it's not the forever kind of love because she can see the way he looks at Rachel, but it is there and real all the same. And Finn and the kindness of his mom are all she has left. She can't give it up.
She glances back up at him. He looks like he's waiting for her to reject him again and she feels bad. She doesn't want to. She told her dad that she made a mistake and getting pregnant certainly was. But the scariest part of all this was that she doesn't think of the man before her as mistake. He's two contradicting people and being around him makes her feel two opposing things, but she wanted him then anyway and she wishes she could pick him now anyway.
The simple truth is that she can't pick him though. She made her choice when she was even more lost than she is now and she has to live with it.
She sighs, puts a hand on his chest again because she can't help it, she needs him. She tells him, "I know. But I can't let you help right now, like this. I'll figure out how to get my book back. Or I'll just use a spare from the classroom until they decide they want the room and send me the rest of my things. Just, thank you, but…" He looks hurt and she has to end this before she ends up saying or doing something she shouldn't. She changes tactics and wipes at her eyes to make sure all the tears are gone as she says, "I should go get cleaned up before class."
She leaves at that. It's hard to walk away from him when she doesn't want to; despite all the practice she's had it.
Puck stands outside in the cold alone for a few more minutes.
Not a whole lot of words were exchanged between them, which seems to be pretty typical, but it felt like something huge happening anyway (always does).
He stays out in the cold to think about what just happened. He stays out in the cold because it numbs him and after everything he can feel with her, he really needs that right now if he's going to think even semi-clearly.
He gets that maybe getting her book back, facing her parents again, could be something she wants to do on her own. Maybe it's something she needs to do.
But when she was denying his offer it didn't feel like a she-needs-to-do-this-herself type of a thing. It felt like an excuse. He may not be that fantastic at reading girls, but he's pretty confident he's got this right.
He had decided he'd stay away, but he already ran after her. And the idea with staying away was to wait for her to come to him, tell him something she wanted (needed) from him. Maybe she took it back after she said it, but she did essentially let him know something he could do for her. It's the first time he knows something specific he can do for her, something he can do to show her he can take care of anything she'll ever need, so he's not passing it up.
He's getting her book back.
Quinn didn't want to tell her teacher the real reason she didn't have her book or her homework. She doesn't want the sympathy, the pity. She tells her that she simply forgot it this morning, apologizes, asks to borrow a book and promises to bring in the homework by the end of the day (it's not like she has many friends to talk to at lunch anymore anyway). She's never come to class unprepared before so her teacher lets it slide.
If only she didn't do her homework early, she could have realized her book was missing yesterday or Sunday night and maybe this whole thing could have been avoided. Because while her grades and the possibility of college on a scholarship is one of the few things she has left, the possibility of forgetting her book even slightly damaging her grade is far from the worst thing about all this.
She doesn't tell Finn about any of it. She has a loaner book and she's not ready to think of going back there yet.
She's successful at forcing it out of her mind for the rest of the day, all through the night, and even the next morning. (She's had a lot of practice with denial.)
She gets to her locker Wednesday morning and is forced to think about her missing book, because it's right in front of her.
She opened her locker and there it was, propped up against her other books and staring her right in the face. It can't be the loaner because it's in her hand. She sets her loaner book and the others in her arm inside her locker quickly and removes the book that was missing yesterday, here today. She wasn't hallucinating yesterday, it wasn't there. Yesterday, it was at her parent's house.
She opens it and finds her homework. She flips through it further to where she hid the first sonogram picture and she finds it too. It's her book.
As she finishes flipping through it she finds one thing that's not the same. There's a note in the back. It's on flowery stationary from her room that she left there. It reads
Your parent's security system sucks.
She laughs. She really should have known who got it and how as soon as she opened her locker. Instead, it's a nice surprise and she can't help the smile that lights up her face.
She knows where his locker is and she scans the hallway, through the crowds, seeking him out there. It takes a minute and huge group of kids passing, but she finds him there, standing at his locker and looking at her. She mouths, "Thank you."
He ducks his head for a second, lifts it back up and looks at her and smiles. (It brings back that ever familiar burn and shiver.)
And as she stands there, meeting his eyes and smiling still, one hundred feet away across a hallway, she knows he'd do anything else for her too. He'd keep his promise, he'd be there for both of them always. Not for the first time she wishes she had picked differently.
The warning bell rings and jolts her back to reality. She grabs her English book, her binder, and she takes her history book too. She doesn't need it, but she's not nearly ready to let go of the gesture yet.
She spends half of the following long period staring at the note and the sonogram picture as discretely as possible. And she thinks about him, about them. She recalls the moment in the hall and how just thinking about it brings up that same burn and shiver she always gets with him, because of him. She thinks, maybe contradictions or conflictions aren't bad. Maybe it's more important that she feels anything at all.
And it's here sitting in her AP English class with her AP U.S. History textbook open that she decides maybe if she works hard enough, she can figure out a way to change her decision. Maybe she doesn't have to be stuck. Maybe he was right when he said they can be a family, because she realizes that he feels like the only family she'd need.
All she has to do is let go of her fear. And scary as it is maybe, maybe it can all still change.
A/N: I hope you enjoyed the story!
Just in case I don't post anything by this coming Thursday and to all fellow Americans out there reading, Happy Thanksgiving! And a lovely week to all non-Americans reading too!
Remember to let me know if you think you'd like to read a Quick fic that explores their history.
Also, feedback is love so Please Review!