A/N: I strongly considered not doing a fic in response to "Mattress." But in the end this would not leave me alone. It just felt like Quinn's journey in the episode needed a little evaluation and though I'm still guessing why exactly she did what she did, when this explanation came to me it felt like the one that I could see as a strong possibility for her change.
This is really short for me. It would have been up much sooner but I have been working on that Quick history fic and it kept distracting me from this.
Also, this feels kind of scattered to me. Which given the topic seems pretty appropriate, but I'm still not completely thrilled with it. I'm a perfectionist though so my opinion of my own things is never very objective. So please do let me know if it feels like Quinn or if it's just a slight (or big) mess.
Disclaimer: Sadly I do not own Glee. Luckily to lift my spirits I do own many, many Neil Diamond songs.
In the end, she sways.
Quinn Fabray has always been ruthlessly determined. How else would a chastity preaching, Bible-thumping cheerleader come to rule a high school? Even once she reached the top her unflinching drive did not waver, because she had seen girls fall (caused many of them to) and she was not going to be one of them. As a result of her devotion to her mission of perfection she got everything she ever wanted.
Then she swayed (for the first time, not the last).
For one night she let herself indulge in the feeling that despite the fact that she got everything she worked so hard for, so hard to keep, it didn't feel like she had anything at all. (She found herself with a boy with wine coolers and a smile that made her knees go weak. And she swayed further. Though now she'd rather not think about that.)
Since she found out what that first sway resulted in she's been struggling to find her former determined self. She's remained steadfast and certain in her actions. She convinced Finn he was the father. She scared Finn into getting a job. She made sure the truth never came out to anyone. She conspired to give her daughter to a family where she'd have a great father. But none of it mattered. She fell from her high social status, lost everything else she ever worked for anyway. And worst of all, she wasn't sure that all of the things she had been fighting for lately were what she should be fighting for.
Finn or Puck or giving her baby to Mr. Schue and his wife, everything was so messed up with all of that. She had thought making the baby be Finn's would be easiest for everyone, right. But she made that decision in a completely freaked-out state of mind and Puck kept fighting for them. She thought, maybe that is what she should be putting her determination towards- a smooth transition to a relationship with him, a family with him. It turned out he wasn't really ready for that though, and she couldn't blame him for being seventeen and not wanting to settle down (she's not sure she definitely wants to either). She settles for the best option at the moment and when she does she's determined to stick with it. She doesn't want to sway on her daughter's future anymore (it hurts too much).
As she's watching her "friends" and former teammates deface another yearbook she decides that she can't think about all the baby-daddy-drama. She doesn't know what's right with any of it and in the end it doesn't really matter who she's with anyway, just who her daughter ends up with and she's committed to keeping her promise on that this time around. So she thinks of herself, because she's been lost and confused for a long time now and she's so tired of it. She was happy as a Cheerio, maybe naively so, but happy all the same. So she sets her mind to it. Quinn Fabray will be a cheerleader again (despite pregnancy and weight gain).
She doesn't ask Ms. Sylvester to be put in the yearbook and back on the Cheerios, she demands it. And she almost smiles when Sylvester is insulting her because Sue Sylvester doesn't dish out barbs for just anyone. Okay she does, but she had written Quinn off as insignificant, too unimportant to be given enough thought for an insult. Yet here she was, getting criticized, which means that she wasn't nothing anymore. Ms. Sylvester must actually think something of her still and she must be on the right track in simply demanding her place back. Sue Sylvester wouldn't try to tear her down unless she feared she was on to something in her fight to get back on top.
Then Ms. Sylvester let her know that extra little bit of information about glee club and the commercial and disqualification. Probably one of the most valuable things Quinn has learned from being Queen Bee is that when someone offers you information, you take that information and try to make them sorry they ever opened their mouths. It's simply another way of keeping others down to ensure you stay at the top.
It was the end of the school day today though, which meant she had a whole evening and night to figure out a plan.
The spare bedroom at the Hudson house is more like a closet, but she's grateful for it anyway.
She hasn't seen or spoken to her parents in two and a half weeks. Normally she doesn't let herself think about it because she's tired of being the victim. But now, in the dark of night alone in a bedroom that still feels so unfamiliar, she wishes she could have her life back the way it was.
She doesn't want to think about why her life has taken all these turns lately. She did one thing that just about every other teenager does, but she's…it doesn't feel like God is looking on it in the same way. But she refuses to ask herself why that is because her faith is one of the few things she has left and she will not lose it.
She got a check in the mail today from her sister. She had talked to her once in the last couple of weeks, right after getting kicked out of their parents' house, to let her know where she'd be. The check came with a short note: I wish I could do more. She wishes she could do more too, but she understands it. There's no reason for them both to be disowned by their parents- especially with a small family fortune at stake. Even if her sister wanted to take her in against their parents' wishes, she couldn't do that. She lives four hours away and everything she knows (what little she has left of it anyway) is here. But she appreciates the check, the help.
She's really glad she'll have something to offer Mrs. Hudson actually. Or that she's contributing to the baby like Finn is. She feels so guilty every time she sees them or accepts anything from them. But she truly doesn't know what else to do, she doesn't have anyone else. The cross may keep getting heavier around her neck every second she's around them, but she knows she'll just have to bear it because she doesn't have any other options.
She quickly prays for sleep to come for the second time because she's so tired of all of the thoughts that keep plaguing her. She turns over on to her back and sighs as the site of her baby bump catches her eye. She can't help it, she reaches out and runs her fingertips over it gently.
They all saw the used mattress in the choir room and she knows enough of the puzzle to put everything together. Mr. Schue must have found out about Terri not being pregnant. She feels bad for him. And despite thinking the woman's kind of insane, she feels bad for her too (after all, she knows what it's like to keep a huge secret). The idea that she may no longer be able to give her baby to Mr. Schue and his wife though, it doesn't upset her like it should. Instead, it makes her feel like swaying again, like changing her mind. She tries to call the baby a bastard, distance herself from it because she knows she can't provide it with the best life and keeping her would make everything so much more complicated. But really she usually thinks of the baby as her daughter, who she loves and can't imagine giving away.
Maybe all this with Mr. Schue and his wife will give her the opportunity to sway back to keeping her though. There are a lot of what-if's that go along with that, but even if there's a small possibility that the daughter growing inside her is going to actually be hers, that she's going to get to be her mother, she thinks she needs to make some changes in her life, be someone her daughter can be proud of. She already has a plan to blackmail her way back onto the Cheerio's and get in their pictures, which is something for a girl to look up to. But it's not enough. Her daughter should see her strength and general goodness, the latter of which she knows she needs to work on. So she decides to add to the things she's blackmailing for. The glee kids are the only ones in the whole school that have been truly kind to her since her secret came out and they accept her. Plus, they're the only ones to really want her- even though she knows it's probably only because they need twelve people to compete and without her they don't have it. She decides to do what she can to repay that kindness.
She doesn't fall asleep that night for another hour (just like every other night). She has too many things to think about, too many things to worry about. She may have decided not to be a victim anymore, but it doesn't help all of the confusion. Worst of all is that she can feel that familiar temptation to sway. Last time she truly gave into that feeling she ended up pregnant. This time she's tempted to change her previously set mind about whether or not to keep her daughter (leaning towards keeping her). And her determination starts to irk at her because it bubbles up and wants her to do something about all of it, fight for something. Only she keeps swaying on what she should be fighting for.
She prays again before she finally falls asleep. This time, though she's prayed for it thousands of times before since this all started, she prays for clarity. If only God would give her some, maybe she wouldn't have to sway anymore.
She stands in front of a mirror in the girls bathroom in her Cheerio uniform. It's the first time in over a month that she's worn it. It doesn't fit her the same, her body is completely different now. She briefly thinks that maybe she's completely different now, because it doesn't make her feel as safe or less alone like it used to. But she has something she's supposed to be getting back so she doesn't dwell on that for but a second.
She confronts Ms. Sylvester (always Miss now, she's not her Coach anymore). As she's standing there getting exactly what she aimed for though, she realizes that being just another girl in a cheer uniform that masks her baby bump fairly well, isn't who she wants to be for her daughter. She doesn't want her daughter to see her in the things that made her feel lost in the first place. Instead she chooses to be a part of the first thing that made her feel a little more found, the only thing that makes her smile these days. (And instead of doing something for herself, getting back a bit of the old her, she chooses to do something for her daughter- put her potential future before her own present.) Because she thought she was still the head cheerleader on the inside, but as she stands there and gets what she wants from Ms. Sylvester simply because she's smart enough to, she realizes she's not head cheerleader anymore. And it's not only literally, she's not her in any sense. As head cheerleader the thing that was most important was the attention and social status, but now the most important thing in her life is her daughter. And she doesn't want to be pushed to the back of a photo like she's ashamed of that, because she's not. She expresses this to Ms. Sylvester by picking glee club and opting out of the cheerleading spot she just won back.
She walks out of the office with her head held high. She feels exhilarated, a little bit terrified, but more like she's on the right path than she has in months. She didn't just decide to side with the thing that makes her feel better. She made a much bigger decision than that back in that office. She made the decision to actively start trying to be the type of person who her daughter could look up to. She decided to be a mother instead of the head cheerleader that she was. She's swayed again, decided to keep her daughter. But this time she feels good about swaying.
She goes to the glee club meeting feeling better than she has in a really long time, knowing she just got that clarity she had been praying for.
It's horrible news that Mr. Schue is leaving glee, but she has other things on her mind now. They're having their pictures taken in an hour and she can't be in the Cheerio uniform she has with her (doesn't want to be either) and her current outfit kind of hides her baby bump. But she doesn't want to hide it. Glee club seemed to have the effect of making people feel good about themselves and she feels good about being the pregnant girl in it. Especially since she thinks of the future, of looking in this yearbook with her daughter ten, twelve years from now and being able to say, "There you are." Of course she'd add to her daughter that she better not end up pregnant in high school too (though she'd never not be there for her like her parents). But she likes the idea of being able to point to a picture of herself standing tall and proud and pregnant in group of high school misfits and being able to tell her daughter that she loved her enough from the very beginning that nothing bad ever brought her down.
Wanting to put the baby bump on clear display is a problem though. Most of her clothes serve to hide it. Heading to the Hudson household therefore isn't an option, she knows she won't find anything there. She has the check from her sister in her bag and she knows it should be used for more important things than clothes, but this feels significant. She realized today that what she really is on the inside now is a mother, and she's determined to stick with that for the rest of her life (it's what's right).
She doesn't have a car anymore so she needs a ride to the mall. Asking Finn would be complicated. Asking Puck would be even more so. She's not talking to Santana if she can help it and Brittney keeps failing her written test so she doesn't even have a permit yet. She doesn't know the other glee members that well, but she knows Kurt has a car and is into shopping so she figures he's her best bet. She mentions wanting to go get something new to wear for the picture and his eyes light up at the mention of the mall.
They get to the mall so fast she's a little scared. Kurt knew they were on a time crunch- especially since he wanted to get back to school and work on his hair- so he drove very fast, so fast that she's a little disoriented when they get there. But she manages to make it in the doors anyway and she heads directly for the maternity store, still with her head proudly held high.
(Kurt makes his way to get some shoes, promising to meet her in fifteen minutes. She points out that his shoes won't likely be making the picture, but he wants new ones anyway. She doesn't bother questioning him further.)
She grabs every single thing she passes that appears decent and takes them all into a dressing room despite the pile well exceeding the dressing room limit. She tries on pants and shirt combinations and some dresses. They're all alright. They all make the baby bump pretty prominent. But rather than just having it show, she'd like to look pretty. She's still a girl and she doesn't want her daughter to look at the picture and think her mother looked like a hag while pregnant.
Then she finds it. She didn't even realize she had picked it up in her hasty rummaging of all the racks in the store. A white dress. She always thought white was a good color on her. It made her excited about the idea of getting married someday and walking down the aisle in a big princess-like ball gown. She shakes her head of that thought now because she doesn't know if it'll happen. But she's getting her daughter so it will be okay if it doesn't. She puts the dress on and it has the exact effect she was looking for. She still looks like her- dainty, girly, soft. But it hangs off of her chest and drapes over her stomach making the baby bump very obvious.
"Quinn? Quinn?" she hears a high-pitched voice calling.
She opens the door to see Kurt just outside the dressing rooms, sticking his head into the hallway. She steps outside of the room and into the hallway so he can see her and asks, "What do you think?"
His eyes scan her up and down scrutinizing and he concludes, "I think that dress makes you look pregnant."
He doesn't say it like it's a good thing, but it feels like a really good thing to her and she can't help smiling as she responds, "Good."
As she changes back into her clothes and pays for the dress (she had Kurt stop by the bank on the way there so she could cash the check), Kurt offers her to go find her a girdle really quick if she doesn't want to look pregnant. She assures him pregnant is exactly what she's going for.
When they get back to school she joins the other girls getting ready in the girls bathroom nearest to the choir room. The dress is wrinkled from being squeezed onto a rack with tons of other maternity clothes and she makes the effort to smooth it out a little, but really she doesn't care about the wrinkles. Today she decided that she's going to be her little girl's mother and as scary as that is, as complicated as she knows it will make everything, she can't seem to stop smiling. It's a good thing it's picture day.
She had been in the front displaying her baby bump for a while, but height arrangements eventually forced her back and it's unfortunate that that's the picture to get printed. One of the times all the glee kids are arranging and rearranging in front of the camera though, Puck passes by her and his hand brushes hers. She closes her eyes for a second and rolls the right corner of her bottom lip through her teeth.
She wishes he didn't have this effect on her. He didn't want to be with her, not really, so this shouldn't be happening to her. It shouldn't have made her smile while he was saying his lines for the commercial. Maybe for the fact of how badly he was acting them or how bad the lines were she should have smiled, but not because she found something endearing about him. Not because her heart raced every time his eyes met hers or every time he touched her.
She glances to him in his new position and he's already looking at her. He smiles at her briefly before facing the camera again. She turns to face the camera smiling too.
When she's falling asleep that night, she thanks God for the clarity he provided her with that day, but she prays for more too. Thinking of Puck, thinking of how she's keeping their daughter and how he kept professing that he's all about family, she has a feeling she's going to sway again. She thinks of the thrill it sent through her when his hand brushed hers and she concludes that maybe lacking focus and determination on some things isn't so bad. Maybe it's okay to sway. She puts her hand on her stomach and thinks of the daughter she'll be meeting in a few short months. She smiles. She realizes, so far, swaying has been turning out pretty good. And maybe, despite all the things that still seem to be stacked against her, it will continue to.
A/N: I hope you enjoyed this short little character examination of sorts. As much as I wanted Quinn's change from the beginning of the episode where she claimed she was still the head cheerleader on the inside to the end when she picked glee to be Quick inspired, it just didn't seem like it (though obviously I couldn't resist throwing a little Quick in). Nothing really seemed to change with her and the glee kids either. The thing that changed was Mr. Schue, which altered her circumstances and therefore what I believe changed her- the possibility that she could change her mind again and deciding whether or not she really wanted to do that.
Thoughts left in the form of a REVIEW would be greatly appreciated.
In case I don't have anything new posted by next Friday (which is honestly rather likely), Happy start of Hanukkah to anyone out there that celebrates it:)