Title: "Go Sadness"
Character/Pairing: Quinn (with special appearances from Rachel, Amy Puckerman, and the Fathers Berry)
Length: Part I of III
Summary: Quinn might think that she's going at it alone but there's always someone by her side
Disclaimer: Not mine, just borrowing them for a few paragraphs
Author's Note: Yes, yes, I still have that Finn/Finchel piece in mind and it will happen, but I wanted to do this first because "Sectionals" closed some doors but opened others and I can't wait until April to see if my dream of Rachel/Quinn as roommates is canon. So I did it on my own and then some. Also, about the title of this fic: I've been a big fan of Shout Out Louds for a long time but this was never a song I really paid attention to until it was used on "The O.C." in a season three scene of Seth and Summer putting together their college applications. It's a very sweet, simple song that always makes me think about growing up and letting go of childhood and moving into adulthood, and it seemed the perfect fit for the journey Quinn undergoes in this fic. If you've made it this far, I hope you'll keep reading the actual fic. Title courtesy of Shout Out Louds. Enjoy.
Part I: Family
It's only when she's standing at the drop off lane, shivering with bare legs and a thin coat in the Ohio winter, that she realizes she has nowhere to go.
Finn is gone, gone from school and gone from Glee and gone from her life.
It's an hour later and her cheeks still sting from the slap of his words: "I'm done with you." Everyone else has left her behind; she can't blame the one person who rightly deserved to walk out of her life for leaving too.
There's a noise beside her and for a moment she thinks it might be Puck, because she pushed him away like she has for so many weeks, but he's never been very good at following her orders. She waits for the weight of his letter jacket to drape over her shoulders, protect her from the wind the way her arms cradle the bump of their baby.
A hand rests on her shoulder, but it's smaller and probably softer and it doesn't make her feel safe. It mostly makes her lunch rise to her throat and it has more to do with the mess she's made of her life and less to do with the morning sickness that's never quite gone away. "Quinn, what are you doing out here? You must be freezing."
She grips her coat so tightly her knuckles ache rather than ram her fist between Rachel's eyes. She's still not angry with her, but she's here and that's really all the excuse she needs. She doesn't do it though. She's caused too much pain already for Rachel's face to become collateral damage. "Finn's mom always picks us up here after school," she says. "I…I didn't know where else to go."
"Quinn, do you have a place to stay?" Rachel asks and she keeps gripping her coat because every embarrassing secret she's ever had has already been revealed to Rachel's advantage and she knows she has nothing left to lose but it still hurts to watch the last dregs of her pride go down the tubes.
"No," she says and it comes out watery and a bit strangled and she knows she has no right to cry because she made this mess all by herself, but that doesn't make it any less scary. She's sixteen and pregnant and homeless. In the movies she and her sister used to watch on Lifetime there was always a happy ending, but this is real life. She remembers the agony in Finn's eyes and watching Puck's heart break; real life isn't wrapped up with a pretty bow.
"Well then," Rachel says and slides her hand down her arm to lock on her elbow. "You're going to stay with me."
She's not sure how to react. Does she laugh? Does she cry? Does she rub her eyes and make sure she's not trapped in a nightmare? Does she pinch herself, to make sure she's real and not stuck in bizarro land? She contemplates all these reactions, because she's technically not mad at Rachel but it still doesn't mean she isn't kind of tempted to punch her in the face just for being the kind of person she couldn't be.
Her words to Puck push to the forefront of her mind, because she meant what she said. She's hurt enough people; she's not going to drag anyone down with her any longer. Except she's still sixteen and pregnant and homeless. She has a baby to protect. She doesn't have another choice.
"Okay," she says and steps a little closer to Rachel, because her coat is warmer and the sky is getting darker and the wind is picking up. "But just until I find a real place to stay."
A car pulls up and honks three times and Rachel drops her arm to wave and she stands back awkwardly while Rachel pokes her head through an open window and gestures in her direction. "Come on in," Rachel says with a laugh and opens the passenger door and the car is so warm that she practically runs into the backseat.
"Hi Quinn," one of Rachel's dads says to her. He has dark hair that's just going gray at the temples and she can't see much of Rachel in him but his eyes are bright and his smile is huge and it starts to make more sense. "I hear you'll be staying with us for a little while."
She smiles, the way her mother taught her, and buckles her seatbelt. "Thank you so much. I really appreciate your hospitality while I figure things out."
Rachel's dad smiles again in way that she knows is real and not a mask like her own, and puts the car into drive. "Any friend of Rachel's is a friend of ours."
She tries to meet Rachel's eyes in the rearview mirror during the trip, but she makes a big deal of looking out the window and Quinn is mostly lost with her own thoughts.
She leans back against the headrest and cradles her baby with one hand, the other fingering the thin chain of the cross she still wears around her neck. Her pastor has always preached the consequence of sin and she knows she's violated every commandment ten times over.
She and Rachel are teammates and sometime acquaintances but friendship has never been on the table. Yet, here she is, listening to show tunes in the backseat of Rachel's father's car and about to move in with her.
She wonders if her god is laughing at her because she knows something of atonement but she thinks this is more like hell on earth.
Rachel's other dad is older and darker and tells her his name is John. "It's a good thing I make the big bucks in this house," he says while she helps him set the table. "Only one of us could be an artist and there's already a composer name John Barry."
"He wrote the James Bond theme," Rachel adds as she puts a basket of bread on the table.
Her other father, David, starts talking about the genius of "Dr. No" as he adds a casserole dish of lasagna and a bowl of broccoli, and Rachel and John both jump into the conversation; none of them seem to notice how much they talk over each other. There's a smear of red paint on the back of David's hand and a dash of blue by his temple and John keeps making these huge gestures to prove a point and how Rachel became Rachel is so obvious that Quinn can't help the smile that curves her lips.
"Well I'll be," John says and the other two shut up long enough to turn their eyes to her. "I think that's the first smile we've seen out of you since you stepped through the door."
She feels her cheeks flush but her smile only widens and then a laugh bubbles out of her belly. "How do you ever have a conversation when you're all talking at once?"
David shrugs and drops an arm over his daughter's shoulders. "It's a gift. Stick around long enough and you'll master the skill too."
Her cheeks flush again but it has nothing to do with being put on the spot and everything to do with being wanted.
~ * ~
They don't say grace before they eat.
She didn't expect it at Finn's, because cooking in the Hudson household meant heating up leftovers and shoveling them down before his mom left for the night shift, but the Berrys are a family. Somehow, she expected more.
They don't say grace but they also don't stop talking the entire meal. They talk about the weather and they talk about politics and they talk about what's on TV and they laugh and joke, but they mostly talk about their days. She learns that John is a lawyer and David is an artist and Rachel…well she thinks she knows more about Rachel than both of them combined.
She thinks back to meals from her childhood, the clink of the ice in tumblers and the clipped conversations about church and Rush and whatever the Democrats were blowing out their asses, but she doesn't remember talking about Cheerios or her 4.0 or even Glee. She doesn't remember sharing anything about herself with the people closest to her in the world.
She doesn't say much during dinner, although she does compliment the cooks because the food is delicious; mostly, she tunes out the conversation and hopes it won't focus on her. She likes these people too much to let them in on who she really is.
"Quinn, how was your day?" David breaks through her thoughts and her fork stills on her plate. If she weren't living with Rachel, this might be her worst nightmare coming true because she likes these people who've fed her without a second thought, and she's afraid they might toss her out on the doorstep like her parents if they learn just how ugly she is inside.
"It was…" she starts but Rachel cuts in and steals the attention away; for once, she doesn't think she minds.
"It was really hard, Daddy. We have Sectionals coming up and practice was insane. Did I tell you about Mercedes' solo?"
She listens carefully as Rachel goes on about the solo showdown, waiting for the part about her Maury Povich moment to become dinner table conversation, but Rachel never brings it up.
Her cheeks feel warm again and she knows it has nothing to do with the temperature of the food. Growing up, her mother always insisted on thanking god for their food and their health and their lives, and she always followed through because that's what a good Christian girl was supposed to do. All her life, she believed god was on her side, but when she needs him most, when she's pregnant and scared and alone, he's nowhere to be found. Instead, she's eating dinner with heathens who'd rather talk about "Ragtime" failing on Broadway than the decoration committee for the Chastity Ball.
Truth is, she's not sure she's enjoyed a meal more.
~ * ~
She wonders what kind of mystical power Rachel has over her dads because they don't ask her any questions about why she's sixteen and pregnant and staying with them rather than her own parents.
Instead, they sing along to Donna Summer while she helps Rachel clear the table and slow dance a little in front of the sink before David tackles the dishes and John dries, and it should make her feel really uncomfortable because they're both men but it's mostly really nice to see two people in love without layers of lies between them.
What does make her uncomfortable is that she has to sleep with Rachel.
"I'm sorry," John says as he deposits extra towels on Rachel's nauseatingly pink bed. "We have a guest room, but we live in Western Ohio. It's not like it gets a lot of traffic."
"Except storing my old paintings," David pipes in and John nods apologetically.
"We'll clean it out tomorrow, but for tonight, you're gonna have to bunk with Rachel."
She pastes that bright, Fabray smile on her face and says thank you even though her heart starts racing because she's not just staying at Rachel Berry's any longer. She's staying with Rachel Berry, sleeping with Rachel Berry, and that's beyond too close for comfort. She used to draw pornographic pictures of the girl on the bathroom walls and make jokes about her getting sterilized – she rubs her belly and suppresses the laugh because the joke's on her – and now she's going to share her bed? It's too much, even for someone as weird as Rachel.
But Rachel never says a word of protest. She gives her a set of flannel pajamas (a Hanukkah present from her grandma and one size too big) and an extra toothbrush and makes a big production of washing up in the bathroom so she can have a few moments of privacy in the bedroom.
She pulls off her dress, a favorite from last summer and completely inappropriate for an Ohio winter, but she doesn't have anything else. She had thirty minutes to pack before her parents erased her from their lives the way she wants to erase the past four months. She assumes it's another one of god's tricks, because every time she shivers while waiting for someone to pick her up and cart her to a home that's not really hers, all she can think about is how deeply she's paying for her sins.
Her body is changing. Her arms are still thin and her butt is still its original size, but she's starting to look like someone stuck a basketball under the skin of her belly. It's starting to bulge, push against the elastic of her pajama bottoms, and she stares at herself in the mirror, wondering how so much could change in such a short amount of time. Four months. Less than half a year and nothing in her life remotely resembles what it used to.
"I guess it's just you and me kiddo," she says to her belly and pulls down Rachel's pajama shirt and takes a seat on Rachel's bed. When Rachel comes back from the bathroom she washes her face with Rachel's soap and brushes her teeth with a toothbrush Rachel gave her and dries her hands with Rachel's fathers' towel.
She stares at her reflection in the mirror, the familiar blonde hair and green eyes, and realizes they're the only things that still belong to her.
One hand rests on the rise of her belly, a pose she seems to be adopting all the time now, and her final words to Puck echo through her ears, "I'm going to do this on my own. I know you don't understand it, but please respect it."
Her baby is hers too, her one shot at doing things right. She's made so many mistakes, hurt so many people – she won't add this to her laundry list of sins.
~ * ~
Rachel has turned back the covers when she pads to bed and she's reading a book about someone named Fanny Brice, an eye mask pushed up on her forehead and her hair pulled in a high ponytail on top of her head.
It's awkward to say the least, to climb into bed with the girl she spent years torturing, and tried to steal her boyfriend over and over again, and told the truth and destroyed her world, but she has an obligation to her baby; there's nowhere else to go.
"Did you find everything okay?" Rachel asks.
"Of course. Thank you again," she says politely and pulls the covers up to her chin. She hopes the conversation will stop. They've done a good job of avoiding the elephant in the room with Rachel's dads around, but she doesn't know if she'll fare as well when they're alone, in the dark, with all that's happened between them weighing down the silence.
"You're welcome," Rachel says and turns the page. Quinn takes it as an opportunity to turn in for the night and rolls over and closes her eyes, but the silence is too loud and it permeates her mind and it's all she hears, the noise of all that's unsaid making it impossible to sleep.
"Okay, what's your angle, Rachel?" she finally says and it takes a moment but Rachel calmly marks her place and closes her book.
"What do you mean?"
She pushes up on her elbows and turns to face Rachel, all traces of sleep gone from her mind. Now she's annoyed, for the first time all day with Rachel, because the girl could tell the truth to Finn but lie to her?
"Why did you bring me here? What did you say to your dads so that they're welcoming me with open arms when they should be chasing me with a pitchfork or something for the way I've treated you all these years?"
Rachel finally looks at her and it's hard to take her serious with that ridiculous mask and ponytail, but her words are grave. "You're pregnant and alone, Quinn. I couldn't exactly toss you out on the street. I'm responsible for your situation. I couldn't walk away after all the damage I caused."
She just stares at her, because she knows Rachel was the one to tell Finn the truth and rip Glee club apart, but she was the one who was wrong all along. "I'm the one who lied," she says softly. "I lied to everyone, Rachel. I made Finn think I got pregnant in a hot tub. I made him get a job and give me money and break his mom's heart. I made him fall in love with a baby that's not his. And Puck…" she trails off. "I deserve to be alone, Rachel."
Rachel doesn't break their gaze but her hand finds Quinn's under the covers and twines her fingers with hers. "I know what it's like to be alone. You shouldn't have to go through that, especially now. I lied to my dads. We're not friends, at least not yet, but we can be. We've both done things wrong, but you need someone on your side, Quinn."
She's crying. She knows because her cheeks feel warm and wet and she's spent so much of the past four months doing it that it's almost second nature. "I don't deserve this."
Rachel doesn't let go of her hand, but she does squeeze it tight. "No, you don't. You've been horrible to me for years and I should hate you, but I don't. I've done things too, with Finn, that I'm rather ashamed of, and I need to make those things up to you. You're having a baby, Quinn. That's a fresh start. I thought we could it together."
"Your dads must think I'm such a slut," she says but Rachel doesn't laugh, just shakes her head solemnly.
"They think you made a mistake and it's terrible that your parents aren't supporting you. They want you here because I want you here." Rachel's face has always been an open book, and Quinn can read the longing there: for a friend, to belong, to make right the things she did wrong (even if they don't begin to compare to the crimes she committed). She's already hurt so many people; she can't say no to this.
"Okay," she says, because she's trying to be better but she can't completely shake her old self and she wants a friend too.
Rachel smiles for the first time since dinner and puts her book on the bedside table. "You can stay, Quinn, as long as you like."
She turns off the light and whispers a goodnight and Quinn curls on her side, knees tucked protectively over the bump of her baby.
A vision passes before her eyes, her belly getting bigger and her youth getting shorter, but laughter filling her world with every moment she spends in this house. It disappears, as quickly as it appeared, because she made a promise to herself after she ruined the lives of people who only wanted to love her. She's not dragging anyone else down with her. She's doing this alone.
She'll just stay here tonight even if she wishes she could stay forever.
~ * ~
She stays longer than one night.
She tells herself – during the car ride to school, lunch, Glee practice – that she'll find somewhere else to stay, but when the last rays of sun slip behind the trees she's at the drop off lane waiting for David to pick her up.
She still has nowhere to go. She skips first period and meets with Ms. Pillsbury, and her guidance counselor promises to make some calls but says it will take a couple days before she can find someplace permanent.
So after Glee, where she sings her heart out and practices her dance moves while everyone glares daggers into her back and Finn's absence is so obvious she can actually feel it in the room, she climbs into the backseat of David's BMW and listens to Rachel babble about Sectionals with her father while the cast recording of a Broadway show she doesn't recognizes hums in the background.
She retreats to her room before any of them can ask her questions and flops down on the bed. The guest room is decorated in plain shades of yellow, blue, and red, but it's quiet and it's hers and she doesn't complain. It wasn't so bad after all, sleeping with Rachel, but it made it impossible to escape. She needs a place to think without Rachel breathing down her neck, literally sometimes as much as figuratively.
She realizes how she's laying, like she's smothering her baby, and for a moment she worries that she knocked the placenta off the cord or something, and she hurriedly rolls onto her back. She can't feel her yet, but it's coming soon, and she needs to be prepared. She talked to Ms. Pillsbury about finding a place to live and a place to work but she knows she needs to do some of the legwork on her own. She's spent too much time relying on other people to build the house of cards housing her lies. Now that it's all tumbled down, she needs to create a future with her own two hands.
Thing is, she knows she has no real skills. Doing a forward tuck or singing on a stool are neat tricks, but not exactly transferable to gainful employment. She sighs and squeezes her eyes closed tight so she doesn't cry. She's spent too much time shedding tears over mistakes she could have avoided had she just been honest. Crying won't make anything better.
There's a knock on her door and she brushes furiously at her eyes and blinks a couple times to get rid of any stray tears. "Yeah, come in!" she says and pastes on that familiar Fabray smile. She thinks it's going to get a lot of face time over the next five months.
It's John and he pokes his head in and smiles in a way that reaches his eyes and makes her feel guilty and warm inside at the same time. "We're about to eat. You coming?"
She wants to say no, that they've done enough and she can make a plate later, but she likes how he's looking at her, like she's just a girl and not a pregnant sixteen-year-old who's been kicked out of her house and living with strangers, so she agrees. "Of course."
He's still wearing that smile, and so are David and Rachel, when she follows him into the kitchen.
The table is set and it looks like pot roast for dinner, but there's some kind of fluffy bread and a lot of wine and a pair of candle sticks like something out of a horror movie and she's really, really confused.
"I hope you didn't make all this for me," she says through the lump in her throat because it was enough to take her in and feed her, but it's too much to make some fancy dinner for her too.
It's when they shake their heads that she realizes they're wearing beanies and Rachel has a piece of lace pinned to her hair. "It's Shabbat," Rachel says and Quinn struggles to remember back to World History and thinks it's the Jewish holy day or something like that. "We're not the most observant Jews, but we always spend this night together as a family."
Quinn doesn't say much during this meal but she watches wide-eyed as Rachel closes her eyes and waves her hands and lights the candles, and her dads say blessings over the bread and the wine and all of it is lovely and beautiful and has nothing to do with begging forgiveness.
The religion part lasts about three minutes before the Berrys start digging into the food and she waits for the part where someone makes her feel bad for having thoughts or feelings or even acting on them once (just once, just that once), but it never comes. Instead, they laugh and joke and Rachel talks about her fears for Sectionals and she stays quiet again and eats the carrots and potatoes David keeps spooning onto her plate.
"So, Quinn," he breaks through her thoughts and she's off her game tonight, caught up listening to the Berrys talk about their days, and it takes her a moment to catch up. "Are you up for a party tonight?"
"Ugh, Dad," Rachel scoffs and she has to restrain herself from blinking again because it's the first time she's ever seen Rachel act like a normal teenager. "Don't do this to her."
John and David exchange a look and Rachel rolls her eyes. "There's a Hanukkah party tonight at the JCC. It's a family tradition to go, but Rachel's being difficult this year."
"We'll be the oldest people there!" Rachel protests and actually pouts.
John and David are both waiting for her response and they have that look in their eyes, that one that says they only see a girl when they look at her and not a statistic, and she doesn't really want to go because she has no idea what Hanukkah is and they have Sectionals tomorrow, but she can't say no to these people any more than she could say no last night or this morning (when John put a home cooked breakfast on the table before her) or after school when David put on the Top 40 station so she could sing along to the music too, and she smiles, a real smile, and tells them yes.
Rachel looks like she wants to cry but Quinn's not sure she cares, even though it's too much like the old her, the one that would take pleasure in someone else's misery, even though she knows not to count her blessings because this isn't going to last.
~ * ~
The Hanukkah is less a party and more a trial by fire.
Rachel and her fathers are popular in the community, small as it is, and every eye in the room is fixed on her as she walks into the auditorium with her cross around her neck and one hand cradling the bump of her baby.
John and David act like it's totally normal to show up for a Jewish event with a pregnant, Christian teenager and tell anyone who asks that she's a friend of Rachel's who's staying with them for a couple weeks. After a few minutes, the whispering stops even if the stares follow her all night, and everyone turns back to the food.
She's not sure she's seen so much food in her life. There's piles upon piles of something fried that looks delicious but makes her want to throw up her dinner and jelly donuts and chocolate coins and some kind of soup that looks a lot like blood.
She follows her normal routine and stays away from the food table to sip her punch on the sidelines. Rachel stays with her at the beginning, but she knows most of the people and spends a lot of her time working the room. At one point, everyone starts dancing in a circle and crossing their feet and throwing their hands in the air and she's tempted to join in, because her time in Cheerios made her a good dancer and she knows she could pick up the moves, but she stays put. She's an outsider here, and not just because of the cross hanging like an albatross around her neck or the baby growing awkwardly under her baby doll dress, but because she's not one of them. She doesn't know these people, their religion or their traditions, and they don't know her. The Berrys are good people, too good for how they've taken her in, but she's not sure the rest of the community will respond in kind. She's ruined enough lives. She doesn't need to bring strangers into her mess.
Still, some of them are brave enough to cross that line.
She's watching a group of children play some kind of game with a top and M&Ms that seems a lot more like gambling and a lot less than a religious tradition to her, when a dark-haired woman wanders over with a plate of food.
There's something familiar about the set of her mouth and the shape of her nose, but Quinn can't place it even as the woman sits down beside her. "I thought you might be hungry," she says and pushes the plate towards Quinn. "Don't worry, I didn't get you anything fried."
Quinn is kind of hungry, even though she ate a ton at the Berrys, and the sugar cookies in the shapes of those tops do look good, but she's still enough of her mother's daughter not to accept gifts from strangers. "This is very sweet, but do I know you?"
The woman smiles and there's something familiar about her face that makes Quinn feel very sad. "I'm Amy Puckerman," she says. "Don't worry, I won't make you call me mom."
The smile falls from her face and suddenly she feels less sad and more guilty. So guilty it's actually hard to breathe, the way all the air seems to disappear from the room. "Wow," is all she can say but Amy's eyes don't narrow and her mouth doesn't twist into a sneer. She just keeps looking at her with warm, dark eyes that remind Quinn of her son's and pushes the plate closer.
"I know you're hungry. I was all the time when I was pregnant with Noah. Fried food made me want to puke my guts out most of the time, but I had one hell of a sweet tooth." She tilts her head and watches Quinn, the way she bites into a cookie and can't help the satisfied smile that appears on her face. "Thought so."
"Thank you," she manages to say and even though the cookie is really good it still feels wrong. "You didn't have to do this."
"No, I probably didn't. Noah told me everything last night. I can't say I agree with your decision, but I think I understand it. I love my son, but he's seventeen. His dad left when he was six and…" Amy trails off and Quinn sees something besides warmth in her eyes. She looks sad and tired and it makes it hard to breathe again from the pain Quinn realizes she's caused another person. "I know you think you need to do this on your own, but don't push him away forever. He isn't perfect, but he's a good boy and he loves this baby. He wants to help and you should let him."
"This shouldn't be his problem," Quinn says and she means it, even if just two days earlier she was clinging desperately to whichever boy seemed like the better provider. "I made the mistake."
Some of the sadness leaves Amy's eyes, and she still looks tired but she mostly looks determined. "He's not going to give up and neither am I. You're family now, Quinn, and family sticks together. What do you need? Clothes? Vitamins? I can't give much, but we're going to help."
She doesn't need clothes. David has already picked up her things from Finn's house and somehow conned his way into her parents' place to pick up her winter clothes, and she's mostly set for a couple months. Ms. Pillsbury has found her health coverage through Planned Parenthood and it's cheap enough that she thinks she can afford it with what's left of Finn's brief career as a waiter. But she does need money, because she might be living at the Berrys and they're generous beyond belief, but someone needs to pay for the clothes and the food and anything else she'll need.
"I need a job but I'm not sure I have any skills."
Puck's mom doesn't look convinced and she does this thing with her eyes that reminds Quinn so much of her son that she almost laughs out loud. "Well, you have to be good at something."
She shrugs. She can sing okay and dance better, but that's about it. "I have straight-As," she says.
A light goes off in Amy's eyes and she grabs Quinn's hand. "I've got it. How are you at history?"
"It's my best subject," Quinn says and waits for Amy to move her hand but she doesn't.
"We need a Sunday school teacher. It's just once a week and only pays a couple hundred dollars a month, but I think you'll do it well." She eyes the cross still dangling around Quinn's throat. "You know the Bible, right?"
Proverbs, 6:16, "There are six things the lord hates….a heart that devises wicked schemes…" "Yeah," she says softly. "I know the Bible."
Amy still hasn't moved her hand and instead of pulling it away she squeezes Quinn's. "Anything else you need, you call me." She lets go of Quinn's hand to slide a piece of paper across the table. "I know you have Noah's number, but this is mine. Call any time, anything you need. I meant what I said, Quinn. The circumstances aren't ideal, but family is family. We'll be in touch about the job."
She squeezes Quinn's hand one more time before she leaves and even when she's on the other side of the room Quinn can still feel the imprint of her hand in her palm. She can feel tears pricking the backs of her eyes but this time she doesn't brush them away.
Two days ago she was all alone in the world and now she has people fighting to make her a part of their family.
~ * ~
They win Sectionals even when everything is stacked against them and when the bus pulls up in front of the school she climbs into the back of David's car without hesitating a second. It's home, whether she wants it to be or not.
She can feel their eyes on her, Puck's especially but also Finn's, standing off to the side while Rachel talks a mile a minute and gestures wildly with her hands.
She knows Rachel is defending her, defending her decision, and she doesn't want to look but can't help sneaking a peek. Finn is looking angrier by the second and Rachel kind of looks like she wants to cry, but she doesn't give up. Quinn looks away before she watches more people destroyed because of her lies.
Rachel is quiet when she climbs into the car and the trip home is filled with awkward silence. Dinner is the same, with John and David asking a million questions about Sectionals to keep the conversation going, but it's clear neither of their hearts are in it. When they both retire to bed almost immediately after, neither dad protests.
She gives Rachel her space and contemplates pretending the entire thing didn't happen, that Rachel wasn't thisclose to getting what she wanted and it wasn't her fault it fell apart, but she can't do that. She can't walk away, even when she wants to, from someone who's done so much for her.
Rachel's in bed when she knocks, but she isn't wearing her eye mask and there's soft music playing in the background. She looks tiny and exhausted and nothing like the Rachel she's come to know.
"I'm sorry," she says before Rachel can say a word. "I know it's all my fault. I'm working with Ms. Pillsbury to find another place to stay. I shouldn't be your problem for much longer."
Rachel shoots up in bed and her brows draw together and her jaw sets and apparently threatening to leave was all it took to make her look like herself. "You'll do no such thing. You're my friend too. I'm not choosing between you."
Quinn hates to say the words, because it still hurts to lose someone she loved even though she deserved to lose him, but she knows her time with Finn is over. Maybe some day they'll be friends, or he'll be able to look at her without so much pain and anger in his eyes that she feels like he's punched her without laying a finger on her, but they'll never be together again like they were before. She knows she loves him, not in love with him, but loves him all the same, and she wants him to be happy, but it doesn't make it any easier to see him happy with someone else. Especially someone who spent half their relationship trying to come between them. But Rachel is kind of her friend and most definitely her savior and she can't hold onto things that aren't hers anymore. "You've wanted Finn forever, Rachel. Don't let me get in the way."
"Finn isn't ready for anything right now, Quinn. He'll come around but he's going to need time to heal too. I'm going to be his friend but not if it means stopping being your friend to do it. I like having you here. I like having someone to fight over the bathroom mirror or the good chair at the dinner table. I don't have any siblings, but I have you."
Quinn has a sister, but she hasn't talked to her in over a month, not since the baby drama came out, and she and Morgan were always close before but it's like they don't even know each other now. She knows her parents are responsible for the break, but they're sisters; some things are supposed to be thicker than betrayal. Rachel is…Rachel is crazy but she's smart and she's loyal and she'll fight for her. She already has.
"I like having you too," she says and hesitates for a moment, but then remembers where she is, in this quirky house full of light and love, and bends down to wrap her arms around Rachel. It's not easy, with the bump of her belly and the position they're in, but she doesn't let go and Rachel doesn't either.
"This is weird," Rachel laughs as Quinn's belly presses hard against her side. "It's like another person snuck in there between us."
"Yeah, well, that's kind of what it is."
"What's it like, knowing you're going to be someone's mother?"
Quinn doesn't have an answer to that question. It's scary and exciting but mostly it's never going to happen. She might carry this baby to term, but she knows she can't take care of it. She reaches down to cradle her baby, the warm, heavy weight of it curled in the crook of her elbow. She loves it, her, the little girl held safe and secure inside her, and she thinks she might one day know her but never by the name mom. "I think I'm lucky to have gotten this far," she says and lets go of Rachel.
Suddenly, she's as exhausted as Rachel looks.
She says goodnight and Rachel looks like she wants to say more but holds her tongue. Quinn's grateful. It's not like Rachel to repress a thought, but if she's learned anything these past days it's that there's more to Rachel Berry than she ever imagined.
She climbs into her bed and the queen-size has never bothered her before but it feels enormous tonight. She closes her eyes and tries one side and then the other and when she rolls over for the third time she throws back the covers and pads to Rachel's room.
The eye mask is on and the room is dark and Rachel doesn't move but she does speak when the door opens with a light squeak. "I thought you'd be back."
"I just don't want to be alone tonight."
"You're always welcome here."
She pulls back the covers and climbs in and the bed is warm and the covers are soft and she knows even if the blankets were made of the scratchiest wool she wouldn't mind if it meant having someone by her side.
~ * ~
School continues as usual. The Glee kids give her a wide berth and Puck looks sad and Finn glares at her, but Rachel stands by her.
Things are tense between Rachel and Finn, and every day she waits at the drop off lane for Rachel to tell her to find another ride home but every day they just climb into David's car like it's what they've always done.
Christmas morning arrives and the Ohio landscape is blanketed with two feet of snow and she sits in the picture window in the Berry's living room crying into a cup of cocoa.
She isn't even ashamed this time. She might be living in a house of Jews, but she's a Christian and this has always been a family day – the family day – and she's spending it without the people who've worn that mantle for sixteen years.
She knows they betrayed her, abandoned her when she needed them most, but they're still her parents. She still loves them. She still wants them even if they don't want her.
There's a tap on her shoulder and she almost spills cocoa on David's Oriental rug, but catches herself in time. "Rachel, what do you want?"
She knows she's being mean but doesn't have the energy to correct herself. It's Christmas; even Rachel Berry should know to stay away. "I know this is a really difficult day for you, Quinn, but Christmas is a special day here too. We don't have your traditions but we have traditions of our own. We'd be honored if you'd join us." She blinks at Rachel for a long minute, tears caught in her eyelashes making it hard to see, but Rachel doesn't move, just watches her with a gentle smile on her face. "During times like these it helps to be with family."
John and David and their demon daughter are not family. She lives in their house and she eats their food and she'll let them buy her clothes, but she's not one of them. Yet, it's Christmas and she's alone. Her own family has abandoned her; it couldn't hurt to rent one for the day.
She wipes away the tears and puts her hand into Rachel's and follows her into the living room. John comes over and wraps an arm around her shoulder and guides her to the couch. "Quinn, I'm so glad you've chosen to join us. As a former goy myself it was a rough transition, but it's not so bad now. We don't have a tree, but we have food!"
Quinn can smell something in the background and she doesn't recognize it, but it smells delicious. "What are you making?"
"Matzo ball soup, knishes, kasha – all the good stuff your people are afraid of."
She blinks but it has nothing to do with tears. "You eat Jewish food on Christmas."
David shrugs and plops down in his recliner. "It's not like there's decent Chinese in Lima. We had to make our own traditions."
Rachel smiles as she sits on the couch. "I hope you're not offended, but we do things a little different in this house."
She clicks on the TV and John dims the lights. "What are we watching?" Quinn asks and all the Berrys look a little embarrassed.
"Fiddler on the Roof," Rachel says and turns her eyes to the screen. "It's also the story of suffering Jews."
Quinn's not sure if she's supposed to be offended or amused, but she chooses the latter and a big, huge belly laugh squeaks up through her throat and makes her shoulders shake. Around her, she's vaguely aware of the Berrys slapping high fives, until she hears David say, "See, I knew we could make her laugh," and it only makes her laugh harder, so hard that she cries, and it's then when she doesn't know if it's because the whole thing is funny or these people she barely knows care for her so much.
"Are we seriously watching that movie?" she asks when she finally gets it together.
"Yeah, we actually are," John says. "Although more because we just like it and less because we want to hate on your people."
She spent every previous Christmas in a pristine party dress watching her parents get smashed and their friends attempt not to puke all over her mother's leather sofa, and this morning she's sitting in her pajamas (actually Rachel's pajamas) and watching a movie about singing and dancing Jews.
It should hurt more than it actually does.
But the Berrys are laughing and singing along every word to "Tradition" and she recognizes the melody to "If I Were a Rich Man" from that Gwen Stefani song, and it's not like any Christmas she's experienced before but it's not so bad.
She laughs during "Matchmaker" and hums along to "Miracle of Miracles" and finds "Sabbath Prayer" so beautiful she actually pushes forward and rests her weight on her elbows to hear it better.
"May the Lord protect and defend you
May he always shield you from shame..."
She remembers her first Shabbat here, the strangeness of the religion but the warm feeling in her chest from the way they wrapped her in the arms of their family and held her tight, and it's still foreign but she thinks she's ready for the change.
She likes their family. She likes their god. She likes the way they won't give up on her even as she has so much to give back to everyone else.
She falls asleep midway through, before she can watch another father turn his back on his daughter for being someone other than what he wants her to be, but Rachel nudges her awake a few minutes before the credits roll.
She watches Tevye and his girls march away from home, heads held high despite the sadness in their eyes, and her heart clutches in her chest as he passes Chava, the rebel, the one who broke his heart by being her own person.
"God be with you," he says and something breaks in her chest, tears dripping down her cheeks as John wraps an arm her shoulders and pulls her close to rest her cheek against his chest.
"Shhh," he says. "One day, you'll have that too."
She's not sure she believes him, because she knows her father and how deeply she's betrayed him, but she knows it will be okay.
She burrows deeper as David reaches over to stroke her hair and Rachel rubs her ankle and it stops mattering that one family has left her when another one is taking up permanent residence in her heart.
Writers live for feedback – please leave some if you have the time.