Title: "Go Sadness"
Character/Pairing: Quinn (with special appearances from Amy and Ali Puckerman, Carole Hudson, and Rachel Berry)
Length: Part II of V
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: As with many of my fics, this one has expanded because I am not a succint writer. So the fic is now five parts as opposed to three. Thank you to all for the wonderful support for this fic. I have a very clear idea of how it's going to play out and where it's going to go, and I'm so happy you're enjoying the journey Quinn is undertaking. Without further ado, enjoy!
Part II: Mothers and Daughters
She spends New Year's Eve in her pajamas (Rachel's pajamas), on Rachel's couch, drinking sparkling cider and watching the ball drop with Rachel's dads.
It's starting to become a habit; it's scary how natural it feels.
A year ago, she spent NYE kissing Peter Graham in Santana's living room while confetti fell from the rafters and Dave Karofsky spilled a beer down her arm.
It was before Finn and before Puck and before Glee and before Rachel Berry and it seems so far away that it's almost like it was another life.
Truth is, it was another life.
She rests one hand over the bump of her baby and the other clutches Rachel's as the countdown starts and her dads jump around like maniacs.
"Five, Four, Three, Two, One," they scream in unison and then start making out like two teenagers and she and Rachel both avert their eyes (and she swears she hears a gagging sound coming from Rachel's direction).
She screws her eyes shut, so tight lights flash against her eyelids like the ball descending into Time's Square, and she makes a wish. She wishes that 2010 will be better; she wishes to do things right.
She always kissed a boy at midnight and hoped to kiss Finn the night the 2000s reached an end.
She's a little sad that she's welcoming in the new year and she's alone.
Rachel's dads finally pull apart and drag Rachel to her feet and grab her wrists too so they're standing in a little huddle of Berrys, whispering "Happy New Year" to each other and squeezing tight.
It takes a moment but she joins in.
The past month has been all about new traditions; she stores this one deep in her heart with all the others.
She spends most of break sleeping and catching up on schoolwork and avoiding humanity.
Rachel sees a movie with Mercedes and Tina and invites her along but she declines the invitation.
It's quiet at the Berry's house, even when Rachel's home, and it's the only place she can think. It's the only place she can hear her own thoughts without the noise of her betrayal, her lies, her mistakes filling all the available space.
Glee was awkward those final weeks, with everyone attempting to play Switzerland between Team Finn and Team Quinn and failing miserably. They stood by her, at least in name, because they're New Directions and it's what they do, but she knows where their sympathies, their loyalties lie. She knows they're not with her.
So she likes hiding out because this house is the one place she knows it won't ever matter who she was in the past. All they see is the person she's working to becoming in the present.
Amy Puckerman comes through and she starts the new year with a group of middle schoolers who spend more time staring at her belly than paying attention to her lesson.
She's wearing jeans and a long sweater that hides how her pants won't button or zip all the way anymore, and even though she does a good job of hiding her bump it's still there pushing against the fine wool.
She crosses her arms under her breasts and stares them down, the curled ends of her ponytail swinging gently over the back of her neck.
They fold, just like all the others before them, and actually listen to what she has to say.
Amy gave her free reign to teach what she wants but she still does her research and prepares an overview of the week's Haftorah portion, even if she had to ask Rachel three times how to spell the word to get her google search just right.
Rachel had peered over her shoulder, forehead knotting at the links that pop up onscreen. "I don't think you have to go this in depth, Quinn," she'd pointed out and Quinn bit her bottom lip to hold back the retort on the tip of her tongue. She's grateful to Rachel, she really is, but she doesn't need the girl literally breathing down her neck all the time.
"Anyone can teach the Bible," she'd said. "I want to make these kids think."
Rachel had squeezed her shoulder and disappeared into the family room. "Good luck."
She clicks on the first link that looks acceptable and her eyes blur from the fancy language and tiny font, but she props her chin in her palm and keeps reading. These people have given her a chance, an opportunity to make amends; she's not going to let them down by doing it half ass.
The portion tells the story of David, the great king, and his son Solomon, the greatest king, and the legacy passed between them.
Her eyes are open wide as David tells his son the story of his life, the mistakes he made and the wrongs done unto him, and the lessons of his past his son will carry with him in the future.
When she finishes reading there are tears in her eyes and both arms are wrapped tight around her baby. She knows she won't keep her – can't keep her – but she still thinks sometimes, what will her daughter take from her? Will she have blonde hair and green eyes? Will she sing? Will she cheer? Will she make the right choices?
She wonders if she has to be there for the sins of the mother to pass to her daughter.
She closes her eyes and blinks rapidly, like always, to push the tears away. She won't – can't – let herself wonder about these things.
She made a decision: the greatest gift she can give her daughter is anyone but herself as her mother.
The lesson goes fine.
She has the kids read aloud and they answer questions after and they don't look thrilled to be trapped in religious school on their weekend, but don't throw spitballs at her either.
She decides to call it a draw.
The parents say little as she stands at the drop off lane in front of the JCC but they're kind enough to keep their eyes on her face rather than the bulging waistline of the new parka the Berrys bought her for Christmas.
She smiles politely and waits for the familiar purr of David's BMV to pull up beside her.
She hears a noise, a soft pitter-patter of feet, and she turns slowly because she did her part and even enjoyed it some, but has little desire to engage in small talk with one of her student's parents. She just wants to go home, disappear under the covers in her bedroom, and hide away from the world. School starts in under twenty-four hours; she's looking forward to going back less than a drug-free labor.
"Hi!" a voice says and it's bright and cheerful and almost chirpy and clearly belongs to someone under the age of thirteen, but she doesn't recognize it. The voice comes with a skinny, dark-haired girl and there's something vaguely familiar about her but Quinn can't quite place it.
"Hi," she says and takes a step back. Even if this girl is one of her students, although there were only ten of them and she doesn't think this girl is one of them, she's really not in the mood for conversation.
"You're Quinn, right?" the girl asks and she feels the reluctant smile fall from her face because this girl was definitely not her student and otherwise there's only one way she'd know who she is.
"You're Puck's sister," she says wearily and prays, for the first time since her father booted her out of his life, because all she wants in life right now is for David's car to pull up and take her away from this waking nightmare.
The girl takes a step closer, nodding all along. "Except I call him Noah. That's his name, you know." There's something vaguely hostile in her tone, almost threatening, and Quinn might actually be unsettled if the entire thing weren't kind of funny. And sweet. And not unlike Puck himself. She won't – can't – think about that so she turns her attention to his sister instead.
The girl nods, because it's a fact she already knows. "I'm Ali."
Quinn's not exactly sure how to react, because this girl is a stranger and family all at the same time, but she's still a Fabray when it matters so she sticks out one gloved hand. "Nice to meet you."
Ali's hand is tiny and frail, but her handshake is strong and she looks directly into her eyes when their hands lock. It's so much like staring into Puck's eyes, dark and long-lashed and filled with promises, that she has to look away even though she knows it's rude.
"So," Ali says, just as a battered minivan that definitely doesn't belong to David Berry but she's willing to bet her life is owned by Amy Puckerman pulls into the drop off lane. "Does this mean we're going to be sisters?"
She's saved by Amy once again, as the sliding door opens and she leans back in her seat to assess the two girls shivering in the Ohio wind. "I already talked to David," she says as Quinn follows Ali into the backseat and buckles her seatbelt under both their watchful eyes. "You're coming to lunch at our house."
She contemplates getting angry with Amy, because if she knows anything, she knows how much it hurts when people make choices for someone else, but she also knows better than to fight. She's still sixteen and pregnant and (barely) not homeless. This isn't the time to rock the boat.
The Puckerman house is small and a bit ramshackle on the outside, but the inside is neat and clean, even if the woven rugs are nearly threadbare in spots and the couch has clearly seen better days.
"Sorry about the mess," Amy apologizes when a wet leaf lands on her cheek as they walk through the front door. "Noah is supposed to clean the gutters, but he's been busy these days." She shoots Quinn a veiled look, somewhere between pity and anger and regret, and sighs heavily, smiles to make things right. "But you know how that goes."
Quinn doesn't say anything in response, because this woman is bossing her around and kind of insulting her, but she's also feeding her and found her a job and she's not exactly wrong about Puck.
She keeps her eyes wide open, so she doesn't have to see the raw pain in his when she pushed him away for the last time.
"Is he home?" she asks, partly to change the subject and mostly because if they keep talking about Amy's son and how much she hurt him, she'll slide down the wall in a crying mess and she's not going to be that person. She's Quinn Fabray; she keeps her breakdowns to the confined space of her guest bedroom.
"He's working," Amy says as she takes Quinn's coat and hangs it in the closet and can't quite keep her eyes from the slight bump under the thick wool of her sweater.
Quinn feels that familiar stab of anger in her chest, because she knows Puck and she knows what "work" means to him, and she pastes on her Fabray smile before something mean and cutting comes out of her mouth. "It's probably for the best. Things have been awkward between us."
Amy opens her mouth and closes it again, sucks in a breath. "You can't push him away forever, Quinn. I won't let you."
Amy's dark eyes are fierce and her tone is vaguely threatening and Quinn knows she won't physically hurt her, but she's still never been so happy to see a bratty tween as when Ali bounces into the hallway and announces that lunch is ready.
The food is simple, grilled cheese and tomato soup, and Ali does most of the talking. Quinn learns about Miley Cyrus and boy named Matt Graham she thinks is related to the boy she kissed last New Year's Eve and her cheeks hurt from the effort to keep the smile pinned to her face because she's so jealous of Ali that it almost hurts.
She's supposed to have this life, four years older and wiser. She's supposed to spend her time worrying about a date for prom or laughing at the sun worshipping gone wrong that Brittany brought back from the islands or fighting for front row seats the night "Eclipse" opens.
She slips a hand from the table to cradle the bump of her baby. This isn't supposed to be her life. She's Quinn Fabray – her world isn't supposed to end this way.
Amy insists on washing the dishes alone and Quinn retreats into the family room with Ali. The couch is worn but comfortable, a bit too comfortable, and she worries about future lunches at this house because she's not sure she'll be able to get up and off the couch on her own for much longer.
"So what are you going to name it?" Ali asks after a few minutes of awkward silence.
Quinn sucks in a breath, pushes back the nasty comment, and forces another smile. "She's twelve. Ali is only twelve," she tells herself. "She doesn't know any better," but there's something too innocent in those dark eyes and she remembers how she got into this mess in the first place: when she looked into Ali's brother's deep, dark eyes and all rational thought slipped from her mind.
"I haven't really thought about it," she manages to say because this isn't a conversation she's willing to have. Even Rachel knows better than to bring this up and Ali might have that Puckerman cunning, but Quinn knows she doesn't understand how harshly she's rubbing salt into an open wound.
"Have you asked Noah?" she presses on and this time Quinn can't hide the way her breathing stops and it feels like her chest is closing in around her lungs.
"Ali," she says when she regains her ability to talk, when things like baby names have been locked away safely in the back of her mind in a filing cabinet labeled Things I Can Never Have. "I know you're only trying to help, but this is really none of your business."
"I know I'm young," Ali says and her chin tilts up, that too familiar dark fire burning in her eyes. "And honestly, I'm still not totally sure where babies come from, but I know you're having one with my brother." This time, Ali pauses, and pain fills the stretched silence. "We don't have a dad," she says softly. "Noah knew him, but he left when I was a baby. So I don't really know what dads do, except work a lot and listen to weird music and take us to McDonald's after soccer practice. Noah does that for me. I know he can do that for your baby too."
Ali looks like she wants to cry and Quinn feels that way too, because the die has been cast. Puck isn't perfect, she knows that better than most, but he deserves more than bearing the brunt of her lies. One day, she knows he'll thank her for this, but she's not dragging him down with her; she's not ruining his life the way she's already ruined hers.
"It's not that simple," Quinn manages to say, because she wants to have this conversation. It's what she always wanted, since she was a little girl and her mother slipped her first doll into her arms, because she's always wanted to be a mother. She just never wanted to be a mother like this – can't – be a mother like this.
Ali sighs wearily, like she's heard this explanation before, and turns back to the television. "Just thought you'd want to know."
They don't discuss it more and spend most of the afternoon watching old "Degrassi" episodes and giggling over the ludicrous plots. It's more fun than Quinn's had in a long time, since Christmas day at the Berrys, and she's surprised by how much she enjoys herself. It's easy with Ali, pretending everything will be wrapped up with a pretty bow at the end of the half hour, and the jealousy of before eases into calm acceptance. She can't change her lot in life but she can want more for this little girl. Her hand stills on the bump of her baby; she's determined to give it all to her little girl.
They don't talk about it but the conversation stays with Quinn for the rest of the afternoon. Especially when she climbs into the front seat of the mini-van so Amy can drive her home.
She doesn't say much during that trip either, other than a few comments about the weather and the food, but when Amy pulls to a stop in the Berry's driveway Quinn doesn't think she's going to let her off so easy.
"Thank you for coming," Amy says as Quinn's hand closes on the door handle and her words are simple, but Quinn knows there's deeper meaning behind them. There always is when it involves a Puckerman.
She pauses and grips the handle so tight her knuckles turn white. It's starting to be familiar, the way she holds onto any inanimate object in sight in order to keep it together. "You can stop being nice to me," she says softly because it's true. Rachel has taken her under her wing because she doesn't know any better, and her dads keep her because they love their daughter. Amy Puckerman is smarter than all of them combined. She should know when to give up.
Yet, she surprises her, like her son always has. "Quinn, I didn't invite you to lunch for my health. Or your health. I asked you over because I want to get to know you. Ali does too. I hope you'll come next week."
"Okay," she hears herself say before she can think the words all the way through. She should know better than to agree. She only hurts the people she cares about; it's only a matter of time before the Puckermans push her away the way her parents did. She won't even let herself think about the moment the Berrys' blindfolds are finally ripped off and they see her for what she truly is.
Amy smiles and Quinn's grip eases on the door handle. "Great. See you next week."
She has lunch with Amy and Ali the following week, and the one after that, and sometimes she helps with the dishes and sometimes she watches TV in the family room, but she enjoys herself every time. The Puckermans are different than the Berrys, harder yet more brittle, but she likes the way they look at her, like they don't hate her even though they have every reason to.
Puck is never there.
She sees him at school and especially at Glee, but he doesn't talk to her and barely looks at her and every time she walks through the doorway of his house she feels all the more guilty when his sister's face lights up at the sight of her.
One day, she hopes he'll be able to look at her the same way.
She keeps working too and the paychecks start coming. It's not a lot, but it's enough for what she needs to do.
She borrows David's car one Wednesday after Glee and pulls to a stop in front of the Hudson's house. Finn is getting a slushie with Mike and Matt, but she knows his mom has the evening off and the last vestiges of light are just slipping behind the trees as she takes a deep breath, releases her fingers from the vise grip they have on the door handle, and takes a step into the cold.
She's lived in Ohio her entire life but it still almost knocks her off her feet, the way the wind slips through the down of her parka and coats her insides in ice. If it weren't so frigid, she thinks she'd laugh at the irony, because just four and a half months ago people used to make jokes about how her veins were clogged with ice and now it's halfway to the truth.
Four and a half months ago one icy glare from beneath an arched eyebrow would have sent lesser beings scurrying away in fear, and today she's freezing almost to death on the porch of her ex-boyfriend's house. Four and a half months ago she convinced him they conceived a baby in a hot tub; today she can't lift her hand to knock on his door and liberate herself from her personal rendition of "To Build a Fire."
She takes a deep breath, watches it freeze in the still air, and takes another to find her courage. She's Quinn Fabray. She blackmailed Sue Sylvester into submission and rendered her speechless more than once. She can do this too.
She takes another breath and rattles her knuckles against the door. It's softer than she intended, stifled down under three layers of mittens and gloves, so she rings the bell like she should have done in the first place and shivers until the door opens.
Finn's mom is wearing a robe and her hair is a mess and the house itself isn't much better, but the hall light is warm and bright and it looks like a home; that icy feeling takes root in her chest again but this time she knows it has nothing to do with the cold outside.
"Hi Carole," she says and sounds guilty and knows she looks guiltier, but doesn't bother hiding how she feels. She lost that right the day the truth came out and she ripped her son's world apart again.
"Quinn!" Carole says and she doesn't smile but she doesn't glare either. She mostly looks shocked. "What are you doing here?"
It takes effort, with the layers of mittens and parka in her way, but she manages to pull an envelope from the pocket of her coat. "I wanted to give you this," she says and pushes the envelope in Carole's direction. "I didn't deserve it, we know that now, but you took me into your home and I want to repay you. It's not much, but I hope you'll take it." There's a pleading note at the end that makes her want to cringe, because she's Quinn Fabray and she's not one for begging, but she pulled the worst lie in her bag of tricks on this woman. She doesn't have the right to save face any longer.
Carole just stares at the envelope and it's hard to read her expression under the rat's nest of hair, but Quinn can hear her sigh loud and clear in the painfully silent air. "Come inside, honey," is all she says and holds the door open wide.
It's not the reaction she expected, but she also didn't expect Rachel Berry to adopt her or Puck's mom to support her, and she's getting so used to strangers taking her in that she steps through the open door without a second thought.
It's weird being inside the house again, without Finn carrying her bag and worrying about the baby and his mother aging another ten years in front of their eyes, and her steps falter as she follows Carole into the kitchen because she might be used to people coming to her aid, but she's not sure she'll ever be used to the guilt closing in on her heart.
"Take a seat," Carole says and deposits a plate of cookies on the kitchen table. She even goes so far as to pour a glass of milk before sitting opposite Quinn. "Come on, try one. They're homemade and I know you must be hungry."
She is hungry, she's hungry all the time, but she can't bring herself to eat in this house. She knows how tight the Hudson budget is stretched; her heart hurts from thinking how much deeper in the hole she put them. "Why are you doing this?" she asks instead, the untouched plate of cookies hovering at the edge of her vision.
Carole looks at her, long and hard, but there's nothing mean in her eyes. "I didn't know Amy when she was pregnant with Noah, but I was there for her with Ali. She craved sweets all the time."
Quinn forces a smile, but it's flimsy and a fight to keep it from turning down at the corners. It's not the Fabray smile. "Why are you being nice to me? You should hate me for what I did."
Carole keeps looking at her but her eyes don't turn, even when Quinn brings to light what they've both been avoiding. "I know I should hate you, honey, but I can't. What you did was wrong, there's no denying that, but you're sixteen. That's something."
She can't believe this woman is defending her, this woman whose son she destroyed and whose money she stole; she doesn't deserve this kind of support. "I don't understand."
Carole reaches across the table to rest her hand on hers. "I don't know your family well, Quinn, but I never thought I'd see the day when a mother and father could disown their own child. I might not be a perfect mom, but Finn has me. He'll always have me. I can't hate someone who doesn't have that."
She's been trying to hold it in but it's too much, the cookies and the sentiment and exactly what she needs but can't have sitting across the battered table, and she bursts into tears before she can help herself. She buries her face in her hands and her shoulders shake and then shake more, so much she thinks her heart might stop beating, when Carole pulls her against her chest and wraps her arms around her tight. "It's going to be okay, honey. It's going to be okay."
She wants to push Carole away, because it's too much and too ridiculous, the one person she wronged as much as Finn comforting her in a time of need, but she can't seem to shrug out of her embrace. She really appreciates David and John, but she misses her mom. She misses the softness of her skin and the scent of her perfume and the tinkle of her laugh, and Carole Hudson reminds her a bit too much of a (more) terribly dressed Rachel Berry but she'll do in a pinch. She smells wrong and her hands are kind of scratchy, but her voice is soft and soothing and Quinn closes her eyes and lets go.
She leaves the Hudson house with the plate of cookies but no further promises. They teeter on the passenger side seat, on the verge of a fall after every turn, and she keeps one hand balanced on the plate and one on the wheel. She knows it's silly, because they're just cookies and she's pregnant and driving, but she can't seem to let them go.
She's only a couple blocks from the Berry's house when she drives through a yellow light just as it turns red, and her she reluctantly lets go of the cookies to press her fingers to her lips and then the rearview mirror and then make a wish.
In four and a half months, she's going to have a baby and her daughter is going to need a mother.
She prays, for the second time since the truth came out, that it's someone better than herself.
The next afternoon she comes home from Glee, laughing with Rachel over the lyrics to "Avenue Q" (the more she lives with these people, the more she listens to show tunes), when John greets them at the door with a face more serious than she's ever seen before.
"Quinn," he says softly and David freezes in the garage door, Rachel almost bumping into him from behind. "There's someone here to see you."
His eyes aren't sad, just concerned and worried, but she pastes on her best smile, the Fabray smile she's had so much time practicing these past days, and tells him it's okay. "It's just my mother, John," she says, because she knows there's no one else it could be, waiting for her in the living room no one ever goes inside. "She already let my dad throw me out. What more can she do?"
David looks like he wants to say something, but John shakes his head, just a tiny movement of his head, but enough to keep David from talking. "Okay," he says and retreats into the kitchen. "You know where to find us if you need us." Rachel tries to stay but David drags her arm and pulls her towards the kitchen while she protests furiously behind him. "She's still her mom, Ray," Quinn hears him say. "She needs to work this out."
She waits a beat, smoothes the skirt of her baby doll dress (wool, not cotton, another gift from the Berrys), and slowly proceeds to the living room. She hasn't been there since Christmas, when Rachel found her crying into her hot cocoa and made a terrible day an afternoon to remember, and nothing about the room has changed except the Fabray occupying its space.
Her mother is perched delicately on the edge of the Berry's sofa, her hair pinned up off her face and her eyes darting nervously from photograph to knick knack to the Picasso print over the piano.
"Hi Mom," she says when she works up the nerve, a good minute or two after she tip-toes into the doorway, and her mother's head shoots up so fast her hair almost slips from its updo. Her eyes round, because she's bigger than the night she was evicted from the only home she'd ever known, and her belly is wide and round under the empire-waist of her dress. She rests one forearm protectively over her bump, as if to shield her daughter the way her mother didn't shield her.
"Oh, Quinnie," her mother sighs and gazes at her with tear-filled eyes. "What's happened to you?"
Her mother hasn't yelled yet or passed judgment, so Quinn forces herself to keep that smile on her face as she sits on the opposite sofa. "I'm five months along, Mom," she points out.
Her mother nods. "I remember. So you're well?"
The air feels heavy, and not just because people only walk in the living room three times a year. Her mother was supposed to stand by her through anything, to stand by her through thick and thin. Instead, they're sitting on borrowed furniture in a borrowed house and trying to pretend they have anything to say to one another.
"My baby is healthy. My doctor says I'll be able to feel her kick soon." She sticks to sterile facts and figures, because she knows if she opens up, if she admits how hard this has been and the weight of the guilt boring down on her shoulders, she'll breakdown completely. This woman might be her mother, but she knows she's not on her side. She's Quinn Fabray; she's too smart to yield any ground.
"Quinn, what are you doing here?" her mother hisses under her breath. "I went by the Hudson's last week to drop off some money, and Carole told me that you're living here." Her mother looks left and looks right and Quinn might have responded to her statement about the money if not for the next sentence to leave her mouth. "Quinn, they're Jews! And one of them is black! What were you thinking?"
She shouldn't be surprised, because four and a half months ago she might have thought the same thing, but she still has to temper down the bite in her retort. "They're good people," she says softly. "They took me in when I had no one else would." She pauses, stares her mother right in the eye, and feels her smile leave her face. There's no reason to pretend anymore.
Her mother's eyes soften in ways she's never seen them before, because her mother drove herself here and Quinn knows that for once it's not booze talking. "Quinn, I love you…" She trails off and sucks in a deep breath, looks away while she wipes at her eyes.
Quinn feels her face fall, tears springing to her eyes, and she's no longer tempted to wipe them away. This is the end of the road. She's never been good at begging, but this is her mother. She tightens the arms cradling her baby. How could she ever say no?
She lets go of everything she's held onto these past weeks and tears start leaking from her eyes as she gives up what's left of her pride. She begs. "Please, Mom, can I come home?"
"Baby, you know I can't do that. Your father…he's not ready to see you yet."
She manages a nod, a struggle when she's focusing every muscle in her body on keeping her shoulders from shaking and tears from streaming down her cheeks. "What do I have to do to make you want me again?"
Her mother says nothing but her eyes remain pinned to her belly. Her silence says it all.
She skips dinner but Rachel insists on bringing a plate upstairs.
There's a knock on her door and she tells the person on the other side to go away, because for once she's not hungry and her heart feels bruised and she's not sure she'll ever stop crying.
Yet, if the Fabrays and Berrys have anything in common, it's that they're both stubborn and Rachel pushes the door open anyway and sits on the edge of the bed.
"Rachel, I'm trying really hard to be nice, but I don't have the energy anymore. Please go away before I punch you in the face."
Rachel laughs, and it's so light and airy that it almost makes Quinn smile. It doesn't, but for half a second, she does forget how much she hates her life. "I've heard it before, Quinn. We both know you're all bark and no bite."
This time Quinn does smile, because it's true, at least at this point in her life. With all the judgment directed her way, she hasn't had the energy to cast stones at anyone else. "I don't want to talk about it," she says. She mostly wants to forget it ever happened. Her mother's face keeps coming to mind, the tears in her eyes and the regret straining the corners of her mouth, but how she walked out of the Berry's house without the only thing she came for. She draws her knees to her chest and holds her baby tight between them. She's going to keep her safe for the time she has left.
"Do you ever think about your mother?" she changes the subject, because she knows what it's like to be abandoned, but she wants to know what it's like to be given away.
"All the time," Rachel says. "My Dad might be an artist and Daddy can sing okay, but neither of them gave me my voice. That had to come from her."
It comes to mind again, the things she'll give her daughter: blonde hair and green eyes and a legacy of betrayal and lies. She shivers, even though she's laying under two down comforters, and feels the mattress shift as Rachel curls up behind her.
"I know my voice came from my mom," Rachel says. "But my talent? That came from my dads. They're the ones who pushed me and supported me. Where I am today? I wasn't born with that."
"I don't have anything to give her," Quinn whispers. "I lie, I hurt people, I hurt you…what kind of mother does that make me?"
Rachel reaches across the space between them and rests a hand on her back, her wrist moving in comforting circles that ease away the ache. "You're strong, Quinn. You fight for what you believe in and you don't give up. I'm the same way, so it's a quality I can admire and respect about you." Anyone else, and those words would have been said with a hint of teasing and self awareness, but this is Rachel Berry so Quinn knows she means those words to her soul but it doesn't make them any less true. She is a fighter, whether it's taking down Glee or saving Glee or keeping up her lies, and on the rare occasion she's lost it hasn't been without trying.
"I don't know if it's enough," she says. It's always weighing on her mind, nature and nurture, and if her daughter will ever escape the sins she committed in her own life.
Rachel's hand stills on her back, but her words pack all the necessary punch. "You're not you mother, Quinn. Don't let her make you feel bad because she wasn't strong enough to make the right choice."
Rachel squeezes her shoulder once before climbing out of her bed and padding to her own room, but Quinn stays awake with Rachel's words bouncing around her head like a ping pong ball.
She doesn't know what choice she'll make in four and a half months time, but she knows what kind of person she needs to be in order to make it the right one.
No matter what happens, she can't – won't – be her mother.
Writers live for feedback – please leave some if you have the time.