Title: Cruel Reminders
Lady Knight 1512
Pairing: Puck/Rachel
Spoilers: None in particular
Words: 1273
Status: Complete

Summary: This was what it took to break Rachel Berry. Once, a long time ago, she would have been horrified at how far she'd sunk. Now? Now she couldn't find it in herself to care.

Disclaimer: None of these characters belong to me.

Cruel Reminders

Removing a tampon from its box, Rachel wanted to cry. Another month and nothing had changed.

She spared a glance to ensure the bathroom door was locked; it wouldn't do for Noah to come in and find her falling to pieces just because she wasn't pregnant…again.

They'd been married for five years, trying for two. Two. Twenty-four months of disappointment; Rachel wasn't sure how much more of it they could take, either individually or as a couple.

They were both tired, physically and emotionally. They barely talked anymore; they didn't have to. What was there to say? "No, not today but maybe next time"? It wouldn't even take that much. She couldn't hide in the bathroom forever and when she left, it would take him one look at her face to realise that all their efforts had been for nothing.

Maybe it wouldn't have been so bad, but it was fifteen years, almost to the day, since the truth about Quinn's first baby had been revealed.

Fifteen years.

The fact that Quinn had turned into a stay-at-home mother while Rachel conquered Broadway was little consolation; Quinn had easily managed to pop out four more children, all Finn's this time.

Rachel closed her eyes and breathed deep. In through the nose, count seven, out through the mouth, count seven. In—

Her lips trembled and she was glad she couldn't see her reflection when the tears came. A gasping sob escaped and she slapped a hand over her mouth to muffle the sound.

It wasn't fair to hate Quinn for what she had. After all, Rachel had never aspired to be more than a Broadway star. And she was, she was, the Tony's in the cabinet by the mantle proved it. But she'd looked at them one day and realised that she could cradle those statues as much as she wanted; they'd just never hug her back. She'd called Noah immediately and, as soon as he picked up, had announced that she wanted to have a baby. He could have been nothing but shocked; she'd always said they would hold off having children for as long as possible so that she could make the absolute most of her career. He hadn't argued, though, and they'd set to the task of creating said child as soon as he got home.

And it had come to this, Rachel weeping in the bathroom and Noah reading her face for answers before kissing her forehead and leaving for work.

Something was wrong obviously. Two years had led to nothing for her and Noah, but one time had resulted in a perfect little human for him and Quinn. The only difference was her so it must be her fault. Noah could create a child; Rachel could not. Maybe she was destined to die alone. And die alone she would, if it continued. She couldn't expect Noah to stick around much longer.

There was a knock on the door. "Rach? Rach, are you done? I need to have a shower before I go."

Go? Oh, of course, he was spending the day with his daughter. God, how Rachel hated her. She knew it wasn't fair, Annie hadn't done anything after all, but the sight of her, the smell of her, the sound of her, made Rachel burn with fury. Annie was a reminder, a constant reminder, of her failings.


Something in her snapped and she picked up the porcelain dish by the sink. Spinning, she flung it hard at the door. It hit with a thud, bounced off and crashed onto the ground, where it smashed.

"Yes! I'm done! I'm done! Okay? I give up!"

"What?" The door knob rattled and what sounded like his fist pounded on the door.

"Go!" She kicked the door of the shower stall so hard the glass cracked. "Just go! I don't want to look at you anymore!"

She pulled all the cabinets open one by one and sent the contents flying. Towels ended up in the shower, the bottle of his aftershave broke in the bathtub and the scent of it filled the air, shampoo oozed from one of the bottle and formed a small orangey sea in front of the toilet bowl.

When there was nothing left to throw, she slammed the cupboards shut again, but the sight of them rebounding back open just made her cry harder. Her knees wobbled and she sank to the floor, leaning against the wall of the bath.

The door crashed open and Rachel's head shot up as Noah stumbled in. He stopped short, eyes wide, surveying the mess before him. He ducked just in time to avoid the container of body wash Rachel sent flying at his head.

He straightened and stared like he'd never seen her before in his life. "What's going on? This is crazy even for you!"

"Oh, that's right!" She snarled. "It's my fault, isn't it? Because I'm the crazy one!"

"Well you're the one who just tore apart our bathroom!"

"Because of you! It's your fault! How could you betray Finn like that? He was your best friend!"

Now he looked really confused. "What are you talking about?"

"I'm talking about Quinn." She all but spat the name. "Quinn, your best friend's girlfriend, who you seduced and knocked up."

He shook his head slowly and, when he spoke, his words were breathy. "Rach, that was fifteen years ago. We got over it. Finn got over it."

"That doesn't make your actions any less wrong."

"I know that but I don't understand what this has to do with you! We weren't even dating!"

"No, we weren't, and we never should have. This was a mistake. A huge mistake." Her lips were quivering again and fresh tears followed the tracks left by the old ones. "Everything would be all right if we hadn't…"

She turned away, squeezing her eyes shut, and wrapped her arms around her stomach. She hoped he would leave so she could cry in peace. She was certain she'd never looked more pathetic.

A moment later, she felt his large, warm hand on her shoulder and his breath on her cheek.

"Rach, I—"

When she glanced up, she found his gaze focused on something past her face. She peeked over her shoulder and saw the box of tampons she'd opened on the floor, its contents spilled out like a lopsided hand.

She heard him sigh quietly and felt a finger brush her cheek gently.

"It doesn't matter," he whispered.

"You're so good with her," Rachel rasped. "Annie, I mean. But I…God, I want her. She should be mine."

Her voice cracked and a distant part of her brain wondered if it mirrored her heart. This was what it took to break Rachel Berry. Once, a long time ago, she would have been horrified at how far she'd sunk. Now? Now she couldn't find it in herself to care.

He pressed a kiss to her throat and then rested his head in the curve of her neck and shoulder.

"I'm sorry," she said.

"Why? It's not your fault."

"It is. It must be. How else can you explain it?"

"Maybe it's just not our time yet."

She swallowed and licked her lips as the tears dried on her cheeks. "I don't want you to leave me."

He raised his head to look at her and wiped her face with his thumbs. "I won't. I love you."

He sounded so sure, so confident; Rachel couldn't help but believe him.

She leaned forward to rest against his chest and smiled slightly when his arms came around her.

"I love you too."