A/N: I know, I know. I've taken forever getting this updated yet again. As those of you who have checked my profile already know, actually getting some interviews for this school year and having four family friends seriously ill took lots of time away from writing.

Thank you so much to all of you reviewed last chapter! You guys are awesome! And thank you to everyone who's still reading this story. It's been a very long journey so far and I'm honored that anyone at all is still reading it.

Thank you also to everyone who's been wishing me well on the issues I mentioned on my profile. I truly appreciated your support:)

I believe I forgot to mention it last time because I had lost my outline with my chapter titles, but the lyrical title of this chapter comes from The Killers' song "Losing Touch."

It's a very long chapter and it does not include exactly what I described at the end of last chapter because I had forgotten I had rearranged the outline a bit. I hope it still includes tons of stuff you'll enjoy and I hope the extra-long length will make up for the extended wait for the chapter.

Hope you enjoy the chapter!


Cheated Hearts


XVII. Console me in my darkest hour, convince me that the truth is always grey

(Here's something you should know: They thought they knew and understood the definitions of words like difficult and scared and painful. But they're about to find out that they were wrong.)

"What?" Puck questions his mother. "You bought a house?"

"I didn't say I bought a house. I said I put an offer on one. And didn't I just ask you to go get your sister?" she responds.

"Yes," Puck says, waving it off- saying something important and asking him to do something that wasn't at all pressing was a frequent habit of his mother's. He sits back down and tells her, "Kelyn can wait. More importantly, no, don't tell Quinn anything."

"Why not?" May questions, "I think it'd be a nice thing to tell her when she comes over later."

"She's coming over?" Puck repeats, befuddled.

"I told you that no more than five minutes ago," May returns with a small frustrated sigh. She repeats what she had already told her son (not that it was really a surprise that he wasn't listening), "I invited Quinn over for dinner, but she had already started making herself dinner while we were on the phone. So I mentioned that I just made a chocolate cake and she could come over for dessert and she said something about a bunch of homework, which I assumed you have too, so I told her to just do it with you, here, with home made chocolate cake. She should be over in about an hour or so. I thought it was important that we welcome her back here like nothing happened or changed because of the last couple of weeks."

It's not the most important thing at the moment, but seeing what's sitting on the counter beside his mom, Puck comments, "That cake isn't home made." It was in a plastic container and still had a price sticker on it.

"I'll throw away the box, put it on a plate, an we'll all keep our mouths shut about it," May retorts.

"And you'll keep your mouth shut about the house too, right?" Puck checks.

"I don't see why-" May begins.

"First, because you don't actually have a room for her because you don't own the house yet," Puck interrupts (he also wants to add that his mom may have made an offer on a house she shouldn't have- he was pretty concerned about how much work it might need given she had called his boss). "And second, because things just got good again. Can't we just leave everything the way it is for a while? I don't think she'd be too happy to hear about it right now anyway and I don't want her to know about it until I'm sure she will be happy to hear you looked for a house that would have a room for her too- even if she doesn't want it."

May sighs heavily. She really didn't see the point of waiting. Quinn would need a place to live soon, she found an affordable four bedroom house, it seemed like a perfect solution. Even if they end up giving the baby up for adoption, Quinn will still need a place to go and she's still family and a free place (because of course May wouldn't charge her rent) is better than one that costs. But, regrettably, May supposes she does see her son's point and he knows Quinn better than her so if there's a reason he's fighting her telling Quinn about the house so hard, then she knows it would probably be best to listen to him. (Though that doesn't mean she won't drop a few hints.) "Okay, I won't tell Quinn anything about the house. I'll let you do it whenever you want," she promises. Thoughtfully, she adds, "Though I guess that means we should probably avoid telling Kelyn about it for a while otherwise she'll tell. But, like you said, the house isn't even ours yet so there's no need to tell her yet. Plus we won't be able to move in right away when we do get it, it'll need some work first."

"Exactly how bad is the house," Puck asks, getting really concerned. He didn't think they could afford a very good house to begin with (though apparently his mom had always lied to him about their finances) and now his mom didn't think the house was currently livable? This house thing seemed to be getting worse and worse.

"Oh, it's fine," May waves off and tells him again, "go get your sister for dinner."

This time he does as she asked. All things house related settled for the moment.

-o-o-o-

"It's so good to see you honey," May says, squeezing Quinn tightly. She adds in a barely hushed tone, "You ever try to disappear on me like that again though, I'm going to hunt you down and I won't be as nice about it as Noah probably was."

"Ma,'" Puck admonishes with a groan.

"What? She deserves fair warning that I'd come after her like I'd come after you," May says, releasing Quinn.

"I promise you won't have to," Quinn tells her, though she's honestly not sure if she's telling May the truth.

"Good," May declares, "come on, cake's in the kitchen."

Quinn follows May to the kitchen, walking past Puck in the process. She bites her lip (she's felt his eyes on her since she got here, she supposes maybe he thinks she'll disappear on him again if he doesn't keep an eye on her).

"Kelyn! Quinn's here," May hollers. She pulls a knife out of a drawer and stops, listens, and hears nothing, which isn't right. Talking mostly to herself she begins, "She's not coming? She must be doing something she's not supposed to if she's not coming out." Kelyn liked Quinn- it wasn't like her to stay in her room when the girl was here.

May puts the cake on the table, knife, forks, and plates beside it and tells Quinn, "Help yourself honey." She heads off toward the hallway to find out what her daughter is up to.

Quinn sits down and cuts herself a piece of cake just like May said.

Puck sits down at the chair to her left around the small round table and says, "You know she didn't bake this herself, right?"

"I figured. On top of looking just like the chocolate cakes at Ray's, she mentioned running late to cook dinner so having time to make a cake didn't really fit that," Quinn reasons, digging into her cake.

Puck cuts himself a slice as he comments with a small smile he can't help, "But you came anyway."

"I should have never stopped coming here," she replies with a small smile, knowing that while that was true, she just wanted to be here tonight (most of the time).

"What have I told you about that show?" they hear May say, approaching the kitchen.

"That it's not appropriate for me to watch," Kelyn responds and they can hear her roll her eyes as she's saying it.

May enters the kitchen, Kelyn in tow, and takes a seat at the table as she tells her son, "She was watching Sons of Anarchy again."

"I thought you blocked FX," Puck says.

"I did. She took your laptop from your room and was watching online," May tells him as she cuts herself and Kelyn a piece of cake.

"Kel," he admonishes. "First, you shouldn't be in my room when I'm not here. Second, you should ask to borrow anything of mine. And third, a show about bikers, really?"

"It's better than a show about doctors and nurses," she counters referencing his love of ER. "And you won't be mad about me going in your room or using your computer unless you want me to tell everyone what's in your internet history," she adds with a smirk.

Both his mother's and Quinn's eyes are suddenly intently on him and Puck knows exactly what his sister is referring to. He knows he probably looks shifty to them, but that's because he is. He changes the subject, "Mom, did Quinn tell you the baby kicked for the first time?"

"Really?" she exclaims, nearly dropping her fork.

"I was going to wait to say something when she was kicking again," Quinn tells her, shooting Puck a slightly miffed look. She probably should have mentioned that to him. Not that she minded that May knew now, but she just thought it'd be better to say something when May could feel the baby kick.

"When did it happen for the first time?" May asks curiously.

"New Years Eve," Quinn answers.

"Has she been kicking super hard again since glee club?" Puck asks, concerned.

"No, thankfully," Quinn says with a sigh. She explains to May (Kelyn had seemed to lose interest completely), "She started kicking me really hard while I was doing my song for our assignment in glee today. I had to stop singing when she started getting me in my kidneys."

May had been moving her fork, with a piece of cake on it, towards her mouth, but she stops in the action abruptly and asks, "She was kicking you in the kidneys?"

"Yeah," Quinn responds warily. There was something in May's eyes and tone that didn't sound good. "Is it bad she's kicking me there? I mean, I know it doesn't feel good…" she asks worriedly.

May puts her fork down and smoothes her napkin between her hands, glancing down at her lap before sighing and meeting two pairs of nervous eyes. "It might be fine. But…you're not even twenty weeks along yet and she shouldn't be able to kick you there for a while still. I haven't heard of it being typical for a baby to be able to kick the kidneys until week 25 at the earliest," she says regretfully. She's quick to assure, "Just because she is though, it doesn't mean anything is wrong. I'm sure it's nothing. Maybe she's just long for her age. My father was six foot two and your dad Quinn, from his pictures in the paper, seems to be a fairly tall man. Maybe she's just taking after them. Or it could be that you're feeling pain in your kidneys when she kicks because…" May hesitates and lowers her voice to a whisper as she finishes, "you could have a urinary tract infection." She continues speaking normally again, "Many women get them when they're pregnant. I got one with Kelyn. It's uncomfortable, but for the baby it's nothing to worry about. She's probably fine, but just to be sure maybe you should call your doctor in the morning and see what she wants to do. Do your kidneys still hurt?"

"No," Quinn answers quickly, "they stopped hurting as soon as she stopped kicking that direction."

"Well if you feel fine then I'm sure you are," May says, though she's not entirely sure. One of her fellow hygienists in her office thought she was getting kicked in the kidneys when she was fifteen weeks along and it turned out that she was having complications with the pregnancy- she was on bed rest for the rest of it but the baby ended up being fine.

"I got approved for Medicaid earlier this week. I could go to the emergency room right now. I think that's covered by it," Quinn says, panic taking over her every thought.

"If it's not I've got some money saved. Let's go," Puck agrees.

"There's no need for that," May's quick to squash before either of them even manage to stand up. Now she was sorry that she said anything and made them worry. She repeats, "Quinn, if you feel fine then everything is probably fine. It's unusual she'd be able to hit your kidneys this early, but I'm sure it's not indicative of anything serious. At worst, it could mean that, in order for the rest of the pregnancy to go smoothly, you'd need to be on bed rest. And most likely it means you have an infection, which would have no effect on the baby. So both of you, calm down, relax- being anxious is not good for the baby- and do your homework. You'll call your doctor in the morning and move forward based on what she thinks. As an obstetrician, she knows your health and the baby's better than an ER doctor would anyway and she'll be able to give you a more reliable diagnosis. "

"Are you sure?" Quinn asks, needing to hear it again.

"Yes," May says firmly. From what she knows, she's is fairly sure everything is okay- or at least that nothing serious is wrong.

"I guess…" Quinn tries to convince herself, "I do feel fine. And from what I've read about signs that something's wrong, I'm not experiencing any of them." She didn't want to say what signs because she didn't want to explain what spotting was to Kelyn if she had tuned back in to the conversation. But she tells herself that since she's not spotting, or experiencing random sharp pains, or experiencing shortness of breath, she should be fine. (Although, on top of that being completely unconvincing, she feels like an idiot for having no idea that the baby wasn't supposed to be able to kick her in the kidneys at this point in her development. She read about everything the baby was developing each week, but apparently she wasn't reading enough because that didn't come up. She feels so…incompetent.)

If Quinn wasn't going to worry, then Puck decides he isn't either. Because being worried would probably just make Quinn worry and that probably wasn't good for the baby. So it's good that she's clearly trying to accept what his mom said and he should try to do the same.

As Quinn silently tries to reassure herself, Puck tries not to seem as panicked as he feels, and May continues to reason in her head about why the ER wouldn't be a good idea (it'd take all night probably and they have school tomorrow, etc.), Kelyn pipes up in the silence and asks, "If I'm not allowed to watch Sons of Anarchy then can I at least start watching Gossip Girl again?"

Oy, May was going to have to have a talk with her daughter. Not about her TV viewing habits- though they were concerning- but about the baby. After all this time that she's known about the baby, she hadn't expressed an interest in it and at no time more than this moment was it more clear. Here they were talking about the baby possibly being not okay and Kelyn didn't even seem to be paying attention. She's not sure why that would be. When Noah told her how Kelyn handled the news, May had told her therapist, who told her that it would probably just take Kelyn some time to realize what the baby meant so they should just give her some time. May wasn't so sure that that was the right course of action still. But they don't need to get into all of this now so she simply replies, "Fine. But I if I catch you watching anything I've told you not to ever again, you won't be able to watch Gossip Girl either. And you can only watch it if your room is clean." If she's going to let her ten year old watch something she's not sure is entirely appropriate for her, May figures she might as well try to get something good out of it.

"Deal," Kelyn agrees happily. She shovels in her last couple of bites of cake and races as she takes her dish to the sink and runs for her room.

"Don't start cleaning unless you're done with your homework," May calls after her. May sighs heavily and takes in the worried expressions of the two teens at the table. She should have been more careful about what she said. She should have waited until morning to say something so Quinn could call her doctor right away and be reassured. She didn't mean to worry the kids- that's the last thing she wanted. She just opened her big mouth without thinking it through. They couldn't go to the ER tonight- they'd skip their homework and/or school tomorrow because they'd be there all night. Plus it would probably be a waste of time. If Quinn felt fine, she was more than likely, fine. (Although May was worried that perhaps she didn't know nearly as much as she thought she did and maybe something really was wrong.) She tells herself there's no reason to worry and no reason for the kids to either. So, trying to make up for freaking them out, May tells them firmly, "Everything is going to be fine. There's no reason to worry. I shouldn't have even said anything until tomorrow when you could call your doctor right away and she could tell you that it's nothing to be concerned about. It's just going to turn out that she's a bit big for her age or you have an infection. I'm hoping for the former because, oy, let me tell you, having a urinary tract infection while you're pregnant is no picnic. Every time you-"

"Ma'," Puck cuts in, "please stop before you seriously gross me out."

May waves him off, "I wasn't even saying anything…yet." She tries to read the expressions of both of the kids again and checks, "You're not going to worry, right? You know everything will be okay?"

"Yeah," Puck responds first, doing so because he hoped he sounded confident and that it would make Quinn believe everything would be okay. (Though really, he has no idea what any of this means.)

Just ever so slightly delayed, Quinn agrees, "Yes." She doesn't know if she even believes herself. She can't help but worry, but she thinks maybe she can't rule out that things may be okay. Of course she has every worst-case-scenario running through her head, but she's come to trust May and if May doesn't think there's anything bad going on, then she's going to do her best to believe her and wait until tomorrow morning to call her doctor (and not stop at the emergency room on her way home like she had been thinking she'd do).

She doesn't really believe either one of them, but May declares anyway, "Good." Figuring keeping them both occupied would keep their minds off of everything, May suggests, "Quinn would you mind taking a look at Kelyn's math homework? She didn't do so well with it last term and I tried checking it these last couple of weeks but math has never been my subject and it still isn't."

Grateful for the distraction, Quinn agrees easily, "Sure. Does she have it with her in her room?"

"Yeah, and if she's cleaning so she can watch that show instead of doing her homework-"

"I'll make sure she gets back to her homework," she finishes. Quinn takes her plate to the sink and heads for Kelyn's room. (As she walks, she tries to re-evaluate how she feels. There's no pain anywhere in her stomach/abdominal region. There's no pain anywhere but her feet, which has been pretty typical these days. She's not having any trouble breathing. She's not spotting. She feels absolutely fine. Which means she should be fine, right?)

Back in the kitchen, Puck checks with his mother, "Are you sure everything's fine?"

"Yes," May promises. She meets her son's eyes and asks, "You know I'd never let anything happen to either one of them just like I wouldn't let anything happen to you or Kelyn, right?"

Puck nods his head, glancing down at the table top. He exhales and agrees, "Yeah." He gets what his mom is saying and if he really thought about it, he had known for a long time that May wasn't just trying to make Quinn feel like family anymore, for May, Quinn was family (as was the baby- no matter what happened in the end). As nice as it is that his mom is reassuring him about that sentiment now, it does nothing for his fear.

May takes her son's empty plate and stacks it on her own. She stands up and tells him, "Do your homework," and proceeds to do the dishes like this night were the same as any other.

Puck tries to pretend too.

Meanwhile Quinn checks over Kelyn's homework, which she was already done with. She talks Kelyn through some corrections and considers talking to Kelyn about the baby (it was starting to be odd, how she didn't seem interested in the baby at all). But she decides that tonight it's probably best if she makes an effort to distract herself from thinking about the baby at all otherwise she'll just spend the whole night worrying and that certainly wouldn't be good for the baby.

When she finally returns to the kitchen, Quinn finds Puck still sitting at the table only now he's doing his homework. This had been the original plan for the night- doing her homework with Puck- so she does just that. They take a break after about an hour because Puck has to go play Kelyn a song in order to get her to agree to go to bed (nearly a nightly occurrence), but then they're both back to work for a couple of hours more, during which May goes to bed after promising them both again that everything will be okay and telling them to call it a night soon.

Not too long after his mom goes to bed, Puck gives up on being able to do his chemistry homework on his own (and he wasn't going to ask Quinn for help – she didn't need more on her plate right now). Quinn also decides that apparently nothing will be staying in her head for her first economics exam tomorrow (there's too much weighing on it).

After a good ten minutes of sitting in silence, staring at books that were no longer open, Puck asks, "You okay?"

"Yeah," she answers.

"Liar," he accuses with a smirk.

She smiles a little in return. Of course she was lying. Nothing about right now was okay. She confesses, "I can't believe I had no idea that that wasn't right earlier."

He shrugs and offers, "No one can know everything. And you know plenty of other stuff."

Quinn doesn't respond. If she says what she's thinking (she's not good enough, to ever possibly keep the baby) she knows Puck will just try to reassure her. As sweet as it is, in the end she knows it won't change how she feels. She feels like she failed her baby today and nothing is going to make her feel differently.

"I should go home," she says instead, "it's late."

"Yeah," he agrees though he doesn't feel good about letting her go home where he knows she's alone (not technically, but after the night they've had and what they still have ahead of them, her home just doesn't sound like a place he should let her be). But he can imagine (vividly) how badly asking her to stay the night would go- especially the part where he offers for her to take his bed. So he refrains from bringing up the idea at all.

She gathers her things and heads for the door, Puck close behind. He holds her bag for her as she puts on her coat, hands it back to her when she's done (it's become a routine). But this time, when he hands her bag back to her, he let his hand brush hers in the exchange rather than avoiding such an occurrence.

She meets his eyes at the contact. This morning she wasn't even talking to him. And for a lot of this afternoon, every time she met his eyes, she couldn't think of much more than kissing him. But now, everything was different again, and meeting his eyes makes her feel sad and scared (because, what if something's wrong?).

"Everything is going to be fine," he promises sincerely in the silence that surrounds them.

She nods a little in response and leans forward and hugs him quickly, trying to blink away the tears forming in her eyes before she lets go so he won't see them.

Successfully getting the tears at bay (for a little while longer at least) she pulls away and tells him, "I'll call you as soon as I talk to the doctor in the morning." She opens the door and heads out with him following close behind. They walk to her car in silence and only exchange a simple goodnight when she gets in her car.

She manages to get all the way home and park her car before the tears start. She tries to tell herself everything will be fine, but she's too terrified to believe it. She doesn't sleep much that night.

-o-o-o-

As soon as the clock hits seven, Quinn calls her doctor. She had been ready for school and pacing around her room for nearly a half an hour just waiting for the second her doctor's office opened and she could get some answers.

As soon as someone answers she tells them, "I need an appointment right away. I think something's wrong."

"Okay. The doctor isn't in yet so I'm going to transfer you to one of our nurse practitioners so she can try to figure out what's going on and figure out the right course of action from there. What was your name? So I can bring her your file…" the receptionist lays out.

Quinn tells them her name and after a minute on hold a new voice comes on the line, "Hi, Quinn. Why don't you tell me what's going on?"

Quinn recaps what happened the previous afternoon and how May (who she has trouble describing and settles for "the baby's grandmother") told her that something could be wrong because she shouldn't be getting kicked in the kidneys yet.

"Well, the baby's grandmother is right. Your baby shouldn't be able to kick you there quite yet. It does sound like something is going on but I don't want you to panic, it's most likely something really simple. Okay?" the nurse says reassuringly. She asks, "Have you felt any pain around your kidneys since the kicking or can you think of any before it?"

"No. It was just that one time," Quinn answers.

"Have you experienced any spotting?"

"No."

"Any severe pains anywhere else?"

"No."

"Any shortness of breath?"

"No."

"Any chills, nausea, or vomiting?"

"No."

"Have you been urinating more frequently lately?"

"Yes," Quinn answers but she's not sure if she should add on that she thought that was normal for pregnant women to go more as their pregnancy progressed.

"Have you been urinating more or less than usual lately?"

Quinn hesitates because she thought this was the question she just answered. "More," she responds tentatively.

The nurse sighs a little and concludes, "Well it doesn't sound like there's any major complication going on. I'm pretty sure you've just got a urinary tract infection. Normally you'd be experiencing more discomfort with that, but it sounds like the baby's kicking- which I believe she was probably getting around your bladder and not your kidneys otherwise you'd have much more serious symptoms- allowed you to catch it early. You've got nothing to worry about. We'll just run a urinalysis to confirm that's what it is, give you a prescription for antibiotics, and you'll be fine in no time and the baby won't be affected by any of it."

Quinn lets out a sigh of relief (not completely relived yet- they don't know what it is for sure yet- but feeling much better).

"Since you have school today and your infection appears to be in the early stages it isn't that pressing of a matter, I don't think it's anything to miss school for. Plus, if you come in during your lunch and leave a urine sample, I can put a rush on a test and have it for you by the end of the day. And I can fit you in to see the doctor at four so we can make sure nothing else troublesome is going on. We should have the results by then. Does that sound okay?"

Quinn had been hoping to get this resolved sooner, but if the nurse didn't seem worried she supposed she should trust that, right? She knows that stress isn't good for the baby so she tells herself that she should stop panicking because the nurse seemed to know what was going on and it wasn't anything serious so she should just trust that. "Yeah, that'd be fine," she says and instantly wants to take it back and skip first period to go to the doctor, but she probably shouldn't miss her classes anyway and she needed to calm down and stop worrying so she refrains from changing her mind.

"Great. Your appointment is scheduled, we'll see you whenever you have lunch and then again at four," the nurse responds. Kindly, she offers, "Try not to worry. If I thought that it was anything you should be worried about I would have had you come in immediately. So try to go about your day like usual okay? Stress is bad for the baby and you have nothing to worry about anyway."

"Thank you," Quinn says gratefully because she really needed to hear that. Though by the time she hangs up only seconds later she already feels worry prickling at her again.

She calls Puck and May and tells them what the nurse told her.

"Okay, I'll drive you over there at lunch and then… I'll call Tony and tell him I can't make it to work today. He was going to work until eight so we could both get some extra hours in, but I'll just tell him I can't. He'll be cool," Puck tells her.

"No," both May and Quinn say in unison.

May pauses and lets Quinn go first, "You shouldn't skip work for this. From what the nurse said, it sounds like all the appointment will consist of is them telling me my test results and giving me a prescription for an antibiotic and then I'll be done. That's not worth you missing nearly five hours of work for."

"I agree," May chimes in.

Puck doesn't like it, but he knows it's two against one so there's no way he'd win. So instead of arguing he offers, "But I don't think you should go alone."

"I'll go," May offers readily, "I'd like to meet your doctor anyway, just to check her out- though I've heard good things about her. And besides, I get off work at three today and Kelyn has dance so I have the afternoon free anyway. Is it okay with you Quinn, if I go?"

"Yeah, of course," she says politely though, honestly, the idea of going to an obstetrician with the mother of the guy she…well, Puck's mother makes her feel a little awkward. But she felt awkward about Puck going with her too- an obstetrician's exam room feels like it should be more of a private place to her- but once they were there she was glad to have Puck there last time and she supposes she could feel the same about having May there. Plus it was a nice gesture so she wasn't going to refuse.

"Okay, I guess I'll just take you during lunch then and go to work this afternoon," Puck agrees though he's still not happy about any of it. He supposes he needs to accept that they don't have anything to worry about so there was no reason for him to be nervous anymore or to miss work.

"I'll pick you up at your house at three-thirty," May tells Quinn, "see you then honey and try not to worry. Like the nurse told you- everything is fine."

"Yeah, see you later," Quinn agrees.

"And I'll see you soon," Puck says.

"Yep. We both better head to school or we might be late," Quinn says as she grabs her bag.

"We have twenty minutes. Nerd. I'm stopping at 7-11 first. You want anything?" he asks, trying to be normal again (not let the last twelve or so hours get to him).

"No," she says leaving her room and heading down the stairs, "and if I were you I wouldn't stop. You're going to be late."

"No I'm not," he denies, looking around his room for his chemistry book.

"Uh huh," she says doubtfully, stopping in the kitchen and grabbing her already made lunch. She puts it in her bag, not even noticing her dad sitting at the table, newspaper stretched out in front of him. "Well, in case you are late and I don't see you before then- you'll meet me in the parking lot at the start of lunch, right? So we can go straight to the doctor's?" She heads back out the kitchen door and for the front door, not noticing she had caught the attention of the person she hadn't been aware was in the kitchen with her.

"Yes," he says and he feels like adding on that there was no way he wasn't going to see her until lunch- he'd never let that happen (especially after all the time they just spent apart). Half a day was far too long to go without seeing her. But he finally found his book and if he's going to prove her wrong about being late he's got to get going so he doesn't say that and instead says goodbye.

In her haste to make it to her first period class on time, Quinn manages to stop worrying for a little bit. But as soon as she sits down and her teacher starts talking, the panic settles in again.

What if she should have gone to the emergency room last night and now whatever was wrong couldn't be fixed? What if the nurse she talked to cheated her way through nursing school and had no idea what she was talking about? What if it wasn't an infection? What if both her and the baby were in some serious danger?

Before she got too close to bursting into hysterical tears during the middle of her AP English class, Quinn tries to remind herself, like a mantra in her head, that she didn't have a single symptom to be concerned about. Other than the knot her stomach was in over everything, she felt perfectly healthy.

Predictably, Puck finds her as soon as first period ends.

"You look awful," he says, instead of something normal like "hello."

She glares at him.

He tries to backtrack, "I mean, you don't look-"

"Save it," she cuts him off, "backtracking won't help you now." She adds, pulling books out of her locker, "Besides you're not wrong and you look awful too." She offers the reason for her much less than stellar appearance, "I didn't get any sleep last night."

"Me either," he concurs and adds with a smirk, "And you know, I already hadn't been sleeping for like practically two weeks cause there was this girl avoiding me."

She rolls her eyes a little, shuts her locker and turns to him. Thoughtfully, she comments, "It feels a lot longer than just twenty four hours ago that that was going on."

"I know," he responds, feeling exactly the same. He doesn't think he'll ever get used to how quickly everything can change. He takes her books from her and holds them with his left arm and takes her hand with his free one and starts to head in the direction of her next class.

She glances at the ground, so her hair will hide her smile.

(This- walking her to class- happens for every period for the rest of the day.)

During his second period, Puck sort of fills Kurt in on what's going on (he figures they should tell someone so no one worries about why they won't be at lunch). He doesn't tell him much, just that what happened the previous day (with the baby kicking Quinn in the kidneys) wasn't supposed to be happening yet so they're seeing a doctor- samples for testing at lunch, appointment (hopefully with results) in the afternoon.

Kurt's not sure how to respond (mainly because he's not really clear on what's going on), but he offers, "In case I don't see Quinn before you leave at lunch, make sure she knows that I'll be hoping everything's alright."

"I will. And thanks," Puck responds simply.

Lunch comes slowly, but it does come. Puck planned on going into the doctor's office with her, but (especially since peeing in a cup isn't a two person activity) she tells him to go get them some lunch instead so they don't have to after she's done, thus making sure that they should return to school on time (another thing he's not particularly happy about).

Quinn's disappointed that when she tells the woman at the front desk her name, she's simply handed a cup and given directions to the bathroom. Her whole ten minutes there she doesn't even cross paths with her doctor. She's not sure what she had been hoping for, but…walking out of the building still not knowing anything at all didn't help her feel any less terrified than she had been feeling all day.

They don't have too much time left before lunch ends, but they hurry back to school so they can spend a few minutes with their friends. (Again, this was Quinn's idea upon Puck telling her that he "took care of their absence." She was concerned that his explanation only left everyone with more questions.)

"Are you and the baby okay?" Mercedes is quick to demand once they're in earshot of the table.

"We don't know anything yet," Quinn answers taking the empty seat next to Kurt.

Confused, Tina asks, "What was the point of going to the doctor now then? 'Cause Kurt said that Puck said that you're going later too."

"I had to give them samples," Quinn responds vaguely. She tries to assure so everyone doesn't get too carried away, "Everything is probably fine. It might just be this common thing that happens during pregnancy and they needed to run some tests to confirm."

Naturally, due to the lack of clear information, everyone is still utterly confused. "So what do they think is the reason you were in so much pain yesterday then?" Artie asks, trying to understand what Quinn was explaining.

"Well-" Quinn begins, not sure what to say. She didn't really want to explain all the details because, as they're finishing lunch, who really wants to hear about how she just had to go pee in a cup? It felt embarrassing to tell them what the nurse strongly suspected was going on with her.

"They think her pee's infected," Puck interjects, to Quinn's horror.

Mouth dropped open in shock, she's not too stunned to react by slapping his arm-hard.

"Ow!" Puck exclaims. He rubs his arm where she hit him and reminds her of a conversation that felt like it was from forever ago, "What did I tell you about hitting me?"

She recalls the conversation easily and rolls her eyes as she responds, "Please, everyone knows you wouldn't hit me back." She continues, still mad, "And more importantly that's not what a urinary tract infection is, not exactly." To the rest of the table she adds, "They're common when you're pregnant and apparently how badly the kicking hurt yesterday may have been a sign that I'm in the early stages of one. It can be easily fixed with antibiotics though. If that's what it is."

"When will you find out if that's what it is?" Mercedes asks.

"They should know by my appointment, at four," she answers, all of her anxiety crashing back into her (being pissed at Puck had been a very brief relief from it).

As if he could sense that she was back to being terrified, Puck takes Quinn's hand in his. Only, unlike yesterday, he doesn't hold her hand underneath the table, hidden from all of their friends. Her hands are on top of the table, she's wringing them nervously, and he simply pulls her left one away from her right and intertwines her fingers with his like it's the most natural thing to do in the world.

Her fear, being so close to being all-consuming, doesn't let her think anything of it past the fact that she needed it and it was nice (she definitely doesn't consider what everyone will think about it).

But the rest of the group isn't surprised and they don't need to speculate. They had known what was happening in front of them for a long time now.

"Well," Mercedes begins, speaking up again, "I'm going to keep praying for y'all until you get good news at your appointment."

Everyone else chimes in their agreement (and everyone's surprised to hear Finn concur with a small but genuine, "yeah").

Quinn tries to muster a smile to show how grateful she is for their support as she says, "Thank you," but she just can't right now.

Puck walks her to class again and her schedule's the same as it is every day, but she honestly doesn't know what class she's in following lunch.

She's been trying so hard to stop herself from thinking about it (again- she had already spent all last night worrying). So far today she had managed to stop herself before she got too far consumed by all of the fears in her mind, but she's failing at that right now.

What if something is actually wrong? What if she's losing her baby like Addie lost hers? Being pregnant hasn't exactly had a good effect on her life. In some ways, sure it has, but in a lot of ways being pregnant at sixteen has been…if she's being honest, it's felt like a punishment. At first for risking her heart on a guy that didn't used to seem like he deserved it, but more so for the person she was and all of the horrible things she did just to become someone she didn't like. But even if being pregnant at this point in her life is the furthest thing from an ideal situation and even if she's probably going to have to give the baby away, the idea of losing her makes her feel more terrified than she thought was humanly possible.

She tries to stop herself from these horrible thoughts before she has a melt down in the middle of Pre Calc. The nurse didn't seem at all concerned that anything could be going on that would lead her to lose the baby, she reminds herself, so there's no reason to be thinking about the absolute worst case scenario.

(She really has to stop doing this herself. She's given in to her fear twice today and with the whole avoiding Puck thing because she was scared, she had promised herself she wouldn't let her fears get to her anymore.

Plus, thanks to her worrying, she now had no idea what was going on in two of her classes, which she knows she's going to stress about and stress isn't good for the baby so she's got to control herself better and not do this anymore.)

Quinn makes it to the end of the school day (barely). She's pretty sure she tanked her econ exam, but it was her last class of the day and she was satisfied to know that at least she didn't burst into tears at any point during the day.

She's at her locker, putting books back in, when Puck finds her at the end of the day.

"How is this bag so heavy when you don't have to take home any books anymore?" he questions picking it up and realizing how deceptively hefty it was.

She shrugs and shuts her locker as she supposes, "Because I come to school prepared rather than coming without so much as a pen."

"Hey, I have a pen," he defends, "I even have a binder now. With dividers and paper and everything."

She falls into step behind him and unzips his backpack deciding to check for herself. She does find a binder, but upon pulling it out and looking through it, she realizes, "There's nothing in here but blank paper."

"Yeah, I kind of keep forgetting I have it," Puck admits, "besides, putting work for a class in a textbook makes way more sense. You have to take the book to class anyway most of the time."

"But something that's been shoved in a textbook doesn't look as presentable as something that's been stored in a binder," Quinn argues, pausing at the door to the parking lot to put her coat on.

"We're in high school, who cares about presentable? Most of my teachers are just happy to see that I turned something in," Puck counters as he opens the door and goes through it to hold it open for Quinn.

"Of course you would think that," she says with a roll of her eyes. With a playful smile she adds, "Slacker."

"Geek," he returns, smiling.

As nice of a distraction this is, it only lasts until he's walked her to her car. She hits the unlock button on her keyless remote and tries to let the fear rising within her get to her again.

He puts her bag in her back seat, shuts the door and joins her standing behind the car.

"I wish I was going with you," he tells her sincerely, a little bit of tightness to his voice because the fact that he wasn't going was still pissing him off.

"I know," she says like it's a promise, because she does know (how much he cares). She tries to be confident as she continues, "But you won't be missing anything, because everything will be alright." She can't help but add on, her voice sounding like a plea, "Right?"

"Of course it will be," he responds immediately and hoping he sounds as sure as he knows she needs him to.

He moves to wrap his arms around her in a hug at the same time she moves to do the same. He doesn't have a reason of doing it; doesn't think about most things before he does them. She just really needed a hug. So he wraps his arms around her, holds on tight, and rubs a hand over her back (though her coat is so thick- it is snowing out after all- that he's not sure she could feel it). She clings to him, head half buried in his chest, eyes closed trying to hang on to this soothing feeling, trying to sink into it so maybe she'll still be okay in an hour when she's sitting in the waiting room of the doctor's office.

Some of the glee club approaches (Rachel, Artie, Kurt, Mercedes, Tina- the rest all having sporting practices to be at after school), but they stop walking towards the pair that was their destination when they're still several cars away. For some, they freeze because the hug they're witnessing makes them afraid. What if they're comforting each other because they got bad news? And for the others, they freeze because it seems too intimate to intrude on.

Rachel pauses, like the others, but it's snowing outside and she has solo ideas she needs to get back inside and discuss with Mr. Schue before he sneaks out of school on her (again) so she's not waiting out here forever. She only pauses for half a minute before marching on through the snow- the others following because if Rachel was going to interrupt then there was no point continuing to wait.

"Oh good, we caught you," Rachel says as she approaches (she didn't want to completely sneak up on them).

Puck and Quinn unravel from each other, though he's happy to note that she doesn't jump away like she's been caught and, in fact, she doesn't even really move away from him at all, just to his side to face their friends (though she does let go, but then again so did he).

"We were hoping we weren't too late," Rachel continues.

"Yeah, we just wanted to say good luck again," Mercedes adds on.

"And call us or text us as soon as you know anything," Rachel insists.

"Or come over or tell us to come to you if you need anything at all," Kurt offers.

"Thank you," Quinn says gratefully.

"Yeah," Puck adds, though he knows that most of this is for her (but that's okay, that's better than okay actually because she really needs people in her life who will care).

They say goodbye and everyone heads their separate ways, all of them adding again that they hope everything will be alright.

She hugs him again, quickly, and then gets in her car and heads home to wait while he heads off to work.

Puck's distracted as he works, but Tony doesn't seem to notice.

Quinn only has a little less than thirty minutes before May should be picking her up by the time she gets home. She should use this time to eat something again (like she usually does), but she's too nervous to eat. She could finally answer one of Jessica's calls, but she didn't want her to worry, she had medical problems of her own to deal with, so she continues to ignore the calls that have started back up (every fifteen minutes since school let out).

She paces her room a little, chews on her nails (old habit she thought had been broken by her mom long ago), and she tries to distract herself with watching the news figuring that violence and tragedy would easily take her mind off of everything. But when she turns the news on they're doing fluff pieces about a woman who won the mega lottery, a story that is followed by one about a dog and she's not sure what was special about the dog because she found herself completely unable to pay attention anymore despite her great effort to.

Finally, she just gives up, puts her coat back on, and heads down to wait for May on the sidewalk. She paces partially to keep warm and partially out of nerves.

May's five minutes late and she starts apologizing as soon as she gets in the car. "I'm so sorry I'm late. Kelyn left her dance clothes at home even though I reminder her about them this morning and she knows that if she's going to make it to her class on time, she has to bring them with her to school. So we had to race home and then race over to her classes. She was a little late. And all that made me a little late," she rambles apologetically.

"It's fine," Quinn assures, "we're still going to be early to the appointment."

"Sure, but me being late meant you were waiting outside longer so that I don't come to your door to get you and it's freezing out," May responds, feeling guilty that she didn't think to call and tell Quinn she was running late when she knew Quinn would probably be waiting outside.

May doesn't say it like she's accusing Quinn of anything, but Quinn feels bad anyway. She feels like May might have the impression that the reason she waits out on the curb has to do with May. So she offers, just to make sure May knows that isn't it, "It's fine. I like waiting outside." She adds, her tone resigned, "If they don't want to be a part of my life, then they shouldn't get to meet the people that do. It's just easier…to wait outside."

"I know," May empathizes. She smiles a little and suggests, "But I think you should make anyone picking you up call when they get to your house so you don't keep waiting outside. I don't like you spending so much time in the cold. It's bad enough it's cold and flu season, you don't need do anything extra to risk getting sick."

Quinn smiles at her (as much as she can manage today), grateful for her concern. May launches into telling her a story about a woman she used to work with who used to go outside on her breaks to smoke and how she frequently ended up sick with a variety of illnesses. It's almost a decent distraction.

-o-o-o-

They're ten minutes early for the appointment and despite her appointment being at four, Quinn's name isn't called until four fifteen. It feels like the longest twenty-five minutes of her life, sitting there in the waiting room simply waiting. May, God bless her, tries to keep her calm/entertained. She picks up an old US magazine that's sitting in the waiting room and comments on nearly everything in it, ranging from the actual celebrity gossip to the ads filling the other half of the pages.

When her name is finally called to go back, Quinn takes a deep breath (trying to calm her nerves) before she stands up and follows the nurse, May following her close behind.

The nurse weighs her and leads her to a room and takes her blood pressure. She leaves Quinn's chart in the door as she leaves saying, "The doctor should be with you shortly." And just like that the nurse is gone and Quinn's left even more worried than she had been because shouldn't the nurse have asked her some questions? Or if it was just a urinary tract infection as discussed over the phone, couldn't the nurse have just told her that?

Thankfully, May dives into conversation immediately. "You know, I still weigh more than you."

That's just too shocking to stay completely absorbed by her worries. "That can't be right, you look great," Quinn responds, completely meaning it (plus May was ever so slightly- a half an inch or so- shorter than her). May couldn't be more than a size six, Quinn figured, and she was just a day shy of being twenty weeks pregnant (and certainly looked pregnant now), May couldn't possibly weigh more than her.

"That's nice of you honey, but I never really lost the weight I gained having Kelyn. I had a hard time finding time to try to at first, what with two kids to take care of and one of them being Noah-always a trouble maker – and Kelyn was sick a lot when she was a baby. There was a breathing thing and then a rash and then an ear infection. It seemed never-ending. Then their father left and there were so many other things to deal with that making the effort to lose the weight stopped crossing my mind…until I was older and you know, it gets harder to lose weight as you get older," May recalls. Thoughtfully, she continues, "I've even been using a treadmill as part of my therapy, my psychiatrist recommended it, and you know, it hasn't even made the slightest difference to my weight."

Thinking of her own mother and similar comments she had made, Quinn suggests, "Maybe you have a thyroid problem."

"Maybe. I haven't been to the doctor in a long time now, I should probably go and get a complete physical," she considers. She has a good health plan as part of her job, but she didn't get sick too often so she rarely saw a doctor and when she did it had always been for something specific. But her mother died of cancer and she knows her grandparents had their fair share of health problems so May had actually been thinking about it for a while now, that she should get checked out just to be cautious. (After all, she could end up being a grandmother soon and if that happened even more people would be depending on her to be around and she didn't want anything preventing her from not being there for them.)

The doctor finally comes in and greets, "Hi Quinn." She notices the extra person in the room and extends her hand, introducing herself, "Hi, I'm Dr. Massey."

"It's nice to meet you," May returns, shaking the woman's hand and offering, "I'm May Puckerman- the father of the baby's mother." It's kind of a mouthful, but "grandmother" doesn't exactly feel like the right title either.

"It's nice to meet you too," Dr. Massey returns with a friendly smile. She takes a seat on the rolling stool and opens Quinn's chart. She takes a glance at it and looks back up. She looks to Quinn and hesitates. She turns around, to May sitting in the chair on the opposite wall and suggests, "Mrs. Puckerman, perhaps you should be over here, for Quinn."

It's a rolling chair, so May doesn't hesitate to do as the doctor suggested and roll it on over to Quinn's side, next to the table the nurse told her to sit on. Though Quinn can tell that May is just as concerned by the fact that the doctor wanted her near as she is.

"Quinn, I think absolutely everything is fine," she begins assuring. But then she continues, "so I don't want you to panic or start thinking anything is wrong…but, you don't have a urinary tract infection like we thought."

May takes Quinn's hand as Quinn splutters, "But, then…what's wrong? Because I thought the baby can't kick me in the kidneys but I was having sharp pains and it felt like she was doing that and…what does it mean?"

"I don't know what it is for sure, but I have a theory," the doctor says evenly. She reminds, "I don't think you have anything to worry about here though. It definitely doesn't seem to be anything serious so try to stay calm, okay?" The doctor waits and Quinn gives a small nod, though she doesn't think she's going to be able to truly stay calm. Dr. Massey continues, "I was looking over your medical history, trying to figure out what might be going on, and…you broke a rib, right?"

"Yeah, when I was in eighth grade. During a gymnastics class," Quinn answers.

The doctor's brows furrow, "You don't usually hear about a broken rib occurring from a non- full contact sport."

Slightly embarrassed, Quinn admits, "I kind of turned it into a full contact sport on that occasion."

"Okay," the doctor says, moving on and getting up and moving around the room in the process, "well, I think I know what's going on, but I'm going to need to do an ultrasound to confirm so change into this gown and I'll be back in a few minutes with the machine and we'll see if I'm right."

Once the doctor leaves, Quinn gets up wordlessly and heads behind the curtain area in the back corner to change. Just like she felt uncomfortable changing with Puck in the room, she feels a little uncomfortable with May being there (but for very different reasons). But she doesn't ask May to do anything like she had Puck, after all, May's back was already to the changing area thanks to its position by the table.

While she's changing, May asks, "So what happened that led to a broken rib in your gymnastics class?"

"I wasn't very nice," Quinn admits, "not at all. And there was this girl in the class who really hated me because I was mean to her and I overheard her trying to talk the other girls in the class into moving the spring board so that I would miss it the next time it was my turn on the horse. I told my parents about it and my dad said, "A Fabray would never stand for that kind of treatment." I needed to get even, set an example with her of how I should be treated, respected. So at the next class I tumbled into her on purpose. She didn't get hurt from that, but it kind of started a fight and she ended up with a broken nose and I got shoved into a balance beam and broke my rib."

"That's awful that your parents would give you such bad advice," May declares. She disliked these people more and more the more she heard about them.

True, her parents were pretty terrible people. But she listened to them. She doesn't want to be that person anymore, she's not that person anymore. So she confesses, "I knew it was wrong to listen to them though, and I did it anyway."

"Not being a product of your environment takes time. You were only in eighth grade," May offers wisely.

Quinn doesn't know how to respond to that. She knows May is trying to make her feel better, but she honestly doesn't believe she should feel better about knowingly doing awful things just because it was what her parents wanted. So rather than saying anything at all, she simply comes out from the changing area and heads back to the table.

"That gown is so much better than the stuff my doctor gave me last time I saw him," May comments, "though it has been a while so they could have changed. But what he gave me to change into was paper. Is that cloth? It looks like cloth."

"Yeah it is. And this is actually better than the one they gave me last time I was here. The last one was like a hospital gown- open in the back," Quinn says, grateful for the change of topic, and checking the tie on the side of the gown again (it was a wrap-style gown and it was just a bit big, which made it feel like it was revealing more than she wanted it to).

Dr. Massey finally returns, tugging the ultrasound machine through the door behind her. She has it all set up and is searching for confirmation of her theory within a couple of minutes.

Quinn chews on her lower lip anxiously as the doctor moves the wand around her stomach, which is probably twice the size it was last time she was here.

May takes Quinn's hand, a gesture to try and keep her calm.

"Okay," the doctor drawls out. She smiles and informs them, "First, I want you to know, the baby is perfect. She's healthy, she's developing just as she should be."

Quinn lets out a small sigh of relief- not a huge one, she can't until she finds out why yesterday happened.

"Second, I was right," Dr. Massey continues. She moves the wand up towards Quinn's ribs and points out on the monitor, "That's the rib you broke there- at the bottom. It's a bit hard to see on here, but you may notice that it doesn't really have the shape it's supposed to and that's because, when you broke that rib, it didn't heal right. It's a tiny bit unusual your baby would be able to hit your ribs at this point, but given how tiny and compact you are…well, it's not unusual for women your size to get hit there. Given your past injury and the fact that it's not healed properly, it's going to hurt a lot any time she gets you there. And you probably thought that it was your kidneys she was hitting because I would assume the pain would radiate throughout your ribcage, masking the point of origin for the pain."

"So…" May begins, not totally clear on what was being said, "her rib isn't right? Is that dangerous? Is there some way to get it fixed?"

"Her rib is fine," Dr. Massey assures, "it's just that since it healed wrong, it's sensitive. Normally it wouldn't be a problem. There's no outward bruising and you haven't had trouble or pain from it in the last couple of years, have you Quinn?"

"No," she answers unable to think of a single time since it broke that it had hurt.

"So it's fine and no action needs to be taken towards fixing it- even if you did want to do that we'd have to re-break and re-set it and that's absolutely not advisable while you're pregnant. But for this pregnancy and probably any pregnancy after this, once the baby is big enough that it can kick you there- which, since you're small, will be just a tad early- it's going to hurt. Maybe, eventually, once enough time has passed, it won't be a sensitive area for you anymore, but it's hard to tell how long something like that will take," Dr. Massey explains, answering May's question thoroughly and patiently.

"Could the kicking break her rib again?" May asks because kicking and a previously broken bone seemed like it could lead to another break to her.

"No. It's very unlikely the baby would be able to do that. On the off chance that her kicking starts to do some damage though, you'll notice some bruising on the skin around your rib and if you ever do- whether you're pregnant or not- get yourself to a hospital right away," she answers. She waits a beat to see if any more questions or concerns will come to either woman. When they both stay silent, she concludes, "Okay then. You're fine Quinn. The baby is fine. And I'm sorry to say that it's just going to hurt like hell when she kicks you in that rib." She takes the wand away from Quinn's stomach, making the image of the baby disappear on the monitor, and finishes up putting things away as she continues, "Some women find that their baby kicks or moves a lot more when they drink or eat something in particular or that their baby will calm down for certain things too. It can even be a movement or position on your part or talking to her or something like that too so you may want to try to pay attention to what gets her kicking you in that direction, what seems to keep her calm, etc. so you can avoid some of the pain."

Sonogram equipment now put away neatly back on the cart, the gel cleaned off of Quinn's stomach, the doctor turns to both women with a smile and checks, "So, any more questions or concerns?"

"No," Quinn answers, finally finding her voice after spending the last several moments trying to wrap her head around what the doctor was saying (trying to accept and believe her when she said everything was okay), "Thank you."

"No problem," Dr. Massey assures, "any time you're concerned about absolutely anything, no matter how small, do exactly what you did- call, and come in. Okay? That's what I'm here for."

Quinn nods, and smiles a little in thanks.

"It was a pleasure to meet you Mrs. Puckerman," Dr. Massey says, shaking her hand again. She shakes Quinn's hand and tells her, "Quinn, I'll see you two weeks from next Monday for your regularly scheduled appointment. We'll check in on your baby again, take blood and run some tests again, the usual. Okay?"

"Yeah, see you then," she responds.

Dr. Massey leaves with a friendly smile wishing them a good night.

Quinn promptly gets off the table and heads for the corner, draws the curtain around her to change back into her clothes.

"Well that was good news," May declares. Sympathetically, she adds, "Though I wish there was something they could do for you so it didn't hurt so much every time she happens to get you in your rib."

"Yeah," Quinn responds distractedly, tugging on her clothes as fast as she can (trying desperately not to let the thoughts in her mind exist). She notices as she gets dressed that her hands are shaking so she asks, "Can you text Puck and let him know everything is okay?"

May thought that was a little odd. Didn't Quinn want to talk to him about all of it? Though he was working and maybe a conversation was best left to later. Why Quinn wouldn't text him herself though seemed strange to May. (Maybe she was just over thinking it. Maybe Quinn just wanted him to know immediately and obviously she couldn't text and get dressed at the same time. Or at least she hoped that's all it was.) "Sure," she agrees and gets out her phone to text her son hoping it will end his worrying.

After she's got her clothes back on, Quinn stops before coming out from behind the curtain. She takes two deep breaths and forces a smile on her face (it feels so odd now- a fake smile- it's been so long since she's had to use one). She pulls the curtain back and May stands and heads for the door saying, "I think they're closing." They get to the hallway and see one of the nurses heading for the exit. "You know, you're lucky you have a doctor that squeezes you in on such short notice," May comments as they head for the same exit as the nurse, "although I suppose all obstetricians have to be that flexible."

When they get to the parking lot, they're surprised to see three familiar faces waiting out in the cold.

"Oh wasn't that nice of them," May says, mostly to herself as she sees the kids.

"What are you guys doing here?" Quinn asks of Rachel, Kurt, and Mercedes, not understanding how they found her (though she's happy to see Rachel with Kurt and Mercedes- maybe a friendship was finally starting to form).

Rachel jumps in before the other two can speak declaring, "We wanted to be here for you and find out if you're okay."

"And we found you," Kurt continues pointedly over Rachel, answering the question in the way Quinn clearly wanted, "because when Puck mentioned to me in class that he was driving you to the doctor's during lunch, he mentioned he had to get you both all the way to Cottage Avenue and back and there's only one lady/baby doctor on this street."

She smiles (it's half genuine) and tells them meaning it as much as she can right now, "Thank you for coming. You didn't have to, but I'm glad you did."

"Is everything okay?" Mercedes asks eagerly.

"Yes," Quinn assures, "she was just kicking an old injury- broken rib- that didn't heal right. So everything's fine." (She's not sure if she's saying it like she believes it. She's not sure if she believes it yet.)

"That's great," Mercedes responds and Rachel and Kurt offer their agreement.

"Yeah, it was a big relief. Thank God her doctor took the time to look through Quinn's medical history and figure out what was going on," May tells them, the fact that things were okay and that Quinn had a good doctor clearly both a load off her mind. "And it was so sweet of you all to come down here," May adds, truly impressed that Quinn (and her son) had found such considerate friends.

"Yes it was," Quinn agrees.

"Well of course we came, we're your friends," Rachel responds like it was a rule that must be upheld- friends showed up in moments of crisis, big or small.

''Well thank you, again," Quinn repeats. "Can you do something else for me though? With everything the last twenty-four hours have been, I forgot to charge my phone at all and it's dead now. Can you let everyone know that both me and the baby are fine?"

"Yeah, no problem," Kurt agrees and pulls out his phone. "Oh," he exclaims, "how about a picture message?" He points his phone at her and directs, "Give me a thumbs up. Don't worry, I'll also put it in writing to everyone."

Quinn doesn't really feel like having her picture taken, but she feels even less like arguing so she does as he asks and gives her second completely fake smile of the last twenty minutes along with a thumbs up and her other hand on her stomach.

Rachel hugs her in the blink of an eye as soon as Kurt's put his phone away. "I'm glad everything's okay," she tells her. "I've got to get home though so I can get ready for my date with Finn tonight," she informs her happily.

"And I've got to get to Friday night family dinner and drive both of them back," Kurt says, hugging her next.

"I've got nothing to do, but they're my ride. Call me if you need anything or if you want to hang out later," Mercedes tells her, hugging her last.

They say goodbye to May as well and as her three friends are heading to Kurt's SUV, Quinn overhears Kurt telling Rachel that whatever outfit she ends up with tonight, she must resist her unfortunate urge to wear leg warmers.

"That was so nice of them," May comments as she gets in the car.

"Yeah," Quinn agrees, but leaves it at that.

May pulls out of the lot and wonders if she should say something else. Personally, she wasn't a fan of lingering silences. But maybe Quinn was, maybe it was something she needed. She hadn't spent enough time with Quinn to know if silence was something she liked of if it was a behavior that should concern her. She had been concerned about the whole Quinn asking her to text Noah for her thing, but then with the explanation she gave to her friends, May's concern lessened. Now though…she doesn't know what to do so she settles on simply driving Quinn back to her house.

Quinn tries to tell herself that she just has to hang on for a few more minutes. In a few more minutes, she'll be home. But it's so hard, and the ride feels so long. Three minutes into the silent drive, she can't hold back her tears anymore and lets out a soft sob as she finally can't manage to will them away anymore.

May pulls over immediately, puts the car in park, undoes her seatbelt, and leans across the consol, hugging Quinn as best she can when the girl is slouched forward, head in her hands, crying.

For the last twenty or so hours, Quinn has been so immensely more terrified than she has ever been before in her life (despite the fact that in the last few months, her life had left her plenty of things to fear). She got lucky that everything was okay, things didn't have to go that way. Something could have been wrong. She could have lost her. But…by this time next week she'll have visited two adoption agencies and in the end, she's always known that she's going to lose her daughter. Until now though, she hadn't realized how thoroughly awful and heartbreaking it was going to be. And it wouldn't break her heart like Puck did because if she hadn't gotten pregnant she knew she would have still moved on from that in time (though perhaps been a bit more jaded or cautious). This, losing her daughter (because now, the idea of never seeing her feels so close to the fear she's had in these past hours of miscarrying), is going to be a heartbreak she never gets over.

So she can't help crying, because now, she has a much better idea than ever what everything that may likely come will feel like.

(And it's unbearable.)

-o-o-o-

May is not about to let a girl (let alone this particular girl- pregnant with her grandchild) who just cried in her car for fifteen minutes go home and spend the night alone. Instead, after Quinn calms down, with help from May, she tells Quinn that they're going to go pick up Kelyn from her dance practice and then go to dinner and a movie- have a girls night.

They eat at Olive Garden and see Leap Year and it all feels so normal and comfortable that Quinn finds herself forgetting for small stretches of time- five minutes, ten minutes- the things that today had made her realize. Maybe that means that after everything, her life won't be as consumed by this whole experience as she thinks. Maybe even then, she'll find chunks of minutes where her life won't be that bad.

After the movie's over, Quinn tries to casually ask May to drop her at home, but May won't have that.

"Now why would you want to do that? Noah's home now and you haven't talked to him since before the appointment. Don't you think you should?" May questions.

Quinn bites her lip and doesn't respond. (It didn't have anything to do with him as she knows May suspects, she just didn't want to talk about it, at all.)

May continues as if a response wasn't even necessary, "You know, I'm not letting you stop talking to him again- unless you have a really good reason. But if you ever don't again, I'm not going to sit around and do nothing. Next time- God forbid that there should be one- I'm going over to your house, coming in whether your parents like it or not, and I'm going to drag you out if I have to and force you to talk him. And to me too of course."

So Quinn agrees, May's right, she should talk to Puck and that's how she finds herself walking through his door instead of finally returning to her house.

As soon as they're through the door, May steers Kelyn toward the kitchen saying that they're going to make sundaes, though it's clear that she's trying to give her and Puck a moment alone to talk as she wanted them to.

Quinn figures she might as well get this over with (talking about today) and heads for the living room (which she assumes Puck is in because she can hear the TV).

He mutes the TV as soon as she rounds the corner from the entryway to the living room.

She sits down next to him on the couch trying not to blush because she could feel his eyes trail her as she crossed the room and sat down. She doesn't know where to start, but lucky for her he dives in rather simply.

"Everything's okay?" he asks. He knows what the text from his mom said, and he had been trying to believe it, but he really just needed to hear it.

"Yeah. The doctor said she's fine and there's nothing wrong with me either. She's just kicking a rib that didn't heal right so it's sensitive and hurts when she hits it," Quinn answers evenly, carefully. He's not quick to ask anything else, but she doesn't want him to come up with anything on this particular topic so she figures it's best to tell him the truth. She confesses, "It's been…a hard day. I kind of had a melt down on your mom in her car just after the appointment. So…can we just not talk about any of it for right now?"

He's a little thrown, mostly because she was apparently on the same page as he was. The last twenty-four hours had been…strange. He wasn't sure how to describe how he had been feeling during them or if he wanted to figure out what it all meant, if it meant anything at all, because he wasn't sure any of it made any difference. See, he wasn't even making much sense in his own head anymore. It had been a really long-ass day, he didn't want to have to worry anymore. So he's happy to comply, "Sure. Yeah, it's been a difficult day and it's over so I don't see the point in going over it again now anyway."

She lets out a small sigh and relaxes against the couch cushions relieved, "Good."

There is one thing about today he didn't want to just forget about for now though. Curiously, he asks, "How'd you break your rib in gymnastics though? Did you used to really suck at it?"

Quinn smiles, grateful for the change to a much easier topic and tells Puck the same story she told May in the doctor's office about how she ended up with a broken rib.

"Sounds like the girl deserved worse than a broken nose. I mean, she was plotting for you to get seriously injured, right?" Puck reasons.

"Yeah, I could have ended up pretty badly hurt had she done that, but she didn't-"

"Yet. You don't know that she wouldn't have gone through with it. I've hit guys for way less than that," Puck tells her. Contemplatively, he adds, "In fact, I don't think a broken nose was enough. She plotted to seriously injure you and she gave you a broken rib, which still hurts you. She should get way worse. Do you know what she drives? We could slash her tires."

"You're not slashing anyone's tires," May says, coming into the living room with three sundae's. "Who are you talking about anyway?" she asks as she hands a sundae to her son and one to Quinn.

"The girl that broke Quinn's rib. She was plotting to hurt her and all she got was a broken rib. I think she deserves a little more- at the very least slashed tires," Puck reasons.

"I wanna help," Kelyn chimes in excitedly. She doesn't really know what they're talking about, but if there's going to be slashing of anyone's tires, she wants in.

"No," all three of them respond in unison.

"And you're not doing it either," May tells her son, taking a seat in her recliner.

"Don't worry, he can't," Quinn tells May, "the girl moved after eighth grade. She doesn't even live in Ohio anymore."

"Hmm," Puck says, considering it as he continues to dive into his sundae, "something through the mail then I guess. What could you send through the mail that would suck to get?"

"Fire ants!" Kelyn exclaims.

"Yes!" Puck responds, excited by the idea…until he notices the glares from both Quinn and his mom. Right, he supposes involving his sister in this (or doing it at all) isn't the smartest or best thing to be doing. "Just kidding," he says, backtracking, "I wasn't actually going to do anything. God you guys are easy." (He hopes they can't tell he's lying.)

Quinn only hangs out with them for about twenty more minutes, telling them about how she's exhausted after not having slept last night and she needs to call her sister and fill her in before she can go to bed so she should get going (it was nearly ten after all).

May is worried that Quinn isn't okay, that today had been too hard and she shouldn't be leaving to go home alone, but she does need her rest and talking to her only family member that wants to talk to her is important so she holds her tongue and simply says goodnight.

Naturally Puck offers to be the one to drive Quinn home. His mom insisting on picking her up earlier is the reason she's without her car and given how much longer his day was then his mom's, she should probably be the one taking her back. But that logic didn't cross his mind as he immediately offered to take Quinn home when she mentioned she should return there. (He'd barely seen her today, he just wanted to spend a little bit more time with her.)

Silence fills Puck's truck for the first minute of the drive to her house. He can't seem to think of anything to say that wouldn't be about today and neither can she and it's a topic they both need a break from for now.

Thankfully, her phone beeps with a new text (after they picked Kelyn up, May drove them by Quinn's house so she could get her car charger from her car and bring her phone back to life). She had been getting messages from the kids from glee club saying how they were glad everything was okay ever since her phone was no longer dead. She expected that whatever this new message was, it was another one like that (though she couldn't think of who she hadn't heard from yet), so she was quite surprised when she read it.

A smile instantly graces her face and then her phone beeps again with a new message, and again a few seconds later.

"Finn just texted me," Quinn announces. Part of her couldn't believe it. She knew Puck had said that Finn said he wasn't mad at them anymore, that he had forgiven them, but she hadn't really believed it. It had started to feel hopeless that he would ever be okay with her again and most of the time she was convinced she deserved it if he never forgave her. But now, it appeared he had really forgiven her. She reads the messages to him, "He said, "Hey, do you want to talk tomorrow? Maybe over lunch, my house?" And then he texted again, "This is Finn by the way. I don't know if you have my number in your new phone and that last message could have been kind of creepy if you don't." Then he added, "I'm glad you and Drizzle are okay."

"Drizzle," Puck says with a laugh. "I told you he wanted to talk to you though," he says because he could tell she was surprised.

She texts him back quickly with "Thank you. Lunch tomorrow sounds great. See you then." As she finishes, she responds, "I know. I guess I just didn't really believe it."

"Because you didn't feel like he should forgive you?" Puck asks knowingly. "I've felt that way. Still kind of do even if we're cool now," he offers honestly.

"You shouldn't feel that way. What I did was worse. So much worse," she responds, guilt starting to consume her again.

"I think we both made a lot of bad decisions back then," Puck reasons, "I mean, we've talked about that before, right? A lot to regret about back then."

"Yeah," she agrees quietly. Thinking about their history though, specifically their history in this truck, she adds, "But I don't regret everything."

He groans as he pulls over in front of her house. He puts the truck in park as he tells her, "You can't say stuff like that and not expect me to break your rule about not kissing you."

Smirking, she suggests, "Maybe I want you to break the rule."

"Do you?" he pounces.

She pretends to think it over for a few seconds (that feel like minutes to him) and then decides, "Nope. Not tonight."

"We could blame it on the pregnancy hormones," he suggests hopefully.

To herself, thoughtfully, she comments, "I should probably get out of here and say goodnight before you actually go through with breaking any rule."

Puck honestly has no idea what's going on. So he asks, "Wait. Just tell me, do you want me to kiss you or not?"

Honestly, she wants him to kiss her and she knows it. And given how awful the day had been, she's tempted to give in. But she knows she has her rules for very good reasons and she can't keep flip flopping on him (it isn't nice-though the teasing in this moment was fun). So she tells him, "I don't want the rules to be broken. There were good reasons for them and nothing has changed that." (Note: she doesn't say that she doesn't want him to kiss her, because she doesn't want to lie to him like that.) She offers, "I'll try to refrain from saying anything that tempts you to break them from now on."

"It's cool. You can tempt me all you want. Then, when I can't resist, you wouldn't be able to blame me," he counters with a smirk, happy with his logic.

She laughs and opens the door to get out. "Goodnight," she says, pointedly not commenting on his reasoning (she didn't want to tell him that it didn't sound that bad to her).

" 'Night," he returns as she gets out of the truck. He stays parked there until she's inside her house and he knows it'd be a lie if he said he did that to make sure she got inside safely (he's not even going to get to talk to her until he's out of work tomorrow probably- it feels like a long time to go without her).

-o-o-o-

The first thing Puck does after Quinn's inside and he's driving away, is call Finn. The fact that he loves Quinn came up in their reconciliatory talk and he needs to make it clear to Finn that it can't in his talk with Quinn.

"Hey," Finn answers his phone cheerily, "you have really good timing. I just made plans with Quinn to talk tomorrow."

"I know. I was giving her a ride home when she got your text and it's why I called," Puck explains. He doesn't want to have this conversation, but he'd rather be having it with Finn than anyone else so that's something at least. "You remember how when we talked you brought up how I love her?"

"Yeah," Finn answers.

"You can't do that tomorrow. Don't say anything about that to Quinn," Puck pleads.

Finn has no idea why Puck would ask him to do that so he asks, "Why not?"

"Cause she doesn't know and I don't want her to right now, especially not from someone other than me," Puck explains, though he thought it was pretty obvious.

"You don't think she knows? But…doesn't everybody know?" Finn asks and before he can respond he questions the person next to him, "Rach, you know Puck loves Quinn, right?"

Puck can here Rachel respond, "Of course. He said it when I forced you two to have that meeting. Not to mention he's been fairly obvious."

"See," Finn insists, "I'm pretty sure even my mom knows." Thoughtfully, he adds, "Though I might have told her. Sometimes I stay stuff without really thinking about it."

"Yeah, but you can't do that tomorrow. Okay? I don't care if everyone else knows as long as no one tells her," Puck instructs. Though he did care that everyone else apparently knew. He had never been this guy before, heart-on-his-sleeve-guy, and he had thought he'd never want to be him because that kind of guy sounded like a wuss. But…if he gets the girl, he doesn't think he'll care at all anymore that she turned him into this guy.

"Why haven't you told her though? You told me a long time ago now," Finn asks. He offers, "I told Rachel and…let's just say it's a good thing to say to a girl. I think I have a little bit of frost bite still and I don't even care."

"The timing just hasn't been good. And it's still not," Puck answers and smirks a little because he could hear Rachel smack Finn a little for his comment about "I love you" being a good thing to say to a girl.

"Timing? I thought it was always a good thing to hear so it was always a good thing to say," Finn questions, getting a little confused.

"Things are more complicated for us though, especially now," Puck counters (it's fear talking, fear of a whole lot of things that allow him to have this particular brand of logic, but Finn's words will stay with him).

"Yeah, I guess I get that," Finn says understandingly though honestly he's not sure if he really does understand. Given all of their complications, as he understood them with the baby and everything, didn't that make this a better time to tell her? Or at least make it more important that she knew now, given all of the complications? Puck was, pretty often, smarter than him though so he figures he should probably just accept it and stop bothering thinking about it. So he promises, "I won't say anything though. You don't have to worry."

"Thanks," Puck responds gratefully.

"Oh and are you working Sunday night? Because I'm free and I was thinking that maybe we could hang out," Finn adds hastily, nearly forgetting that he had checked his Rachel-made schedule.

"Yeah, I get off at four. Meet you at my place at 4:30?" Puck says, jumping on the opportunity. It had been far too long since he got to hang out with his best friend.

"Sure," Finn agrees and Puck can hear Rachel trying to tell Finn to tell him to practice for regional's in the background, but instead of doing that he simply says, "Alright, have a good night man. See you Sunday."

"Yeah, you too," Puck returns, snickering as he hangs up at the thought of what Rachel's probably doing to Finn right now since he didn't do what she wanted.

-o-o-o-

Quinn instantly regrets her decision to keep Jessica in the dark about what had been going on today as soon as she calls. Naturally, Jessica is very peeved about the lack of communication for the last day and a half.

"I'm sorry. It wasn't the right thing to do. I know that now. It won't happen again, I promise," Quinn apologizes after Jessica's initial rant about not answering her phone all day.

Jessica sighs heavily and considers her sister's apology for a few minutes. She knows how badly Quinn's been dealing with making mistakes lately though so even though normally she'd torture her a bit (or a lot) more before letting her off the hook (plus she also knows the circumstances even if Quinn hasn't gotten to explain yet), she decides not to this time. So she declares, "It's okay. I forgive you." Impishly, she adds, "Besides, since you weren't talking to me, I decided there was no longer a reason to abide by your wishes and not contact any of your friends. So I looked up Kurt, but found his dad's garage. Burt was so nice. I talked to him for a while- a bit about you, a bit about my car, which he's going to take a look at when we see him at your Regional's. Then he gave me Kurt's number. I can't wait to meet him in person. He was so sassy and fun. And so informative."

"You know everything?" Quinn asks, a little bit nervous about what exactly Kurt may have divulged.

"Yep," Jessica confirms, "I know you and Puck made up because he made you confront him by some means involving your guidance counselor. I know that after you made up you were holding hands with him under the table during lunch. I know you thought you were being kicked in the kidneys by the baby during your glee practice and I know that that's not possible right now so you got really worried and saw a doctor today. I know that she was actually kicking that rib you broke when you threw down with that bitchy little girl from your gymnastics class. And I know both of you are fine. Oh and I know you held hands with Puck again today during lunch- on top of the table. He didn't go to the appointment because he was working and you thought all it would be was you getting test results confirming a urinary tract infection. But May went with you. And I know that you have really dark circles under your eyes today- Kurt said your concealer really wasn't working for you, but he didn't want to say anything. Did I miss anything?"

"No," Quinn admits regrettably. It sounded like she had been leaving her sister out of so much when she listed it all like that. She apologizes again, "I'm sorry I didn't tell you about any of it. I didn't want to worry you if it was nothing. Especially since I figured there was a good chance that as soon as I told you, you'd probably drop everything and drive all the way here even though being in a car is uncomfortable for you right now. And in order to get here, you'd have to have Eric drop everything too and by the time you got here I could have had answers and you'd be here for a couple of hours and have to drive all the way back. And even if you didn't do all that, I still didn't want to worry you if it was nothing."

"I figured that was your reasoning, but, just so you know for the future, it's wrong. Always tell me when something is up," Jessica insists.

"Yes, I know. I promise I will," Quinn repeats. But it's not exactly like she's alone in this behavior so she points out, "And you should do the same. Remember how your leg was broken for weeks and you had had surgery on it even before you told me about it?"

Damn, Jessica exclaims in her head. In her scolding she had completely forgotten about that. "Okay," she drawls, "I guess I've made the same mistake. I won't do it again either."

Jessica has a lot of questions. Kurt knew all of the highlights and had some nice little bits of info to contribute as an outsider, but she wanted to know the stuff only Quinn (and possibly Puck and May) would know. She had had a lot of time to give this some thought though and while she knows she can't relate to what today must have been like for her sister, she can imagine, and she knows now is probably not the right time for questions. So she lets her off the hook for now, "I should probably let you go for tonight though. I know you're exhausted and your day was really crappy so you should get some rest so you can spend tomorrow telling me everything."

"Okay," Quinn agrees, relieved that she didn't have to relive it all telling her sister about it right now. Remembering that she has some very important plans, she adds hastily, "But tomorrow afternoon or evening because before that I'm having lunch with Finn. He wants to talk."

"Shut the front door!" Jessica exclaims, "This is a good thing, right?"

"Yeah, he talked to Puck while I wasn't talking to him and Finn told him that he's fine with everything now. He said he forgave both of us and he was just waiting for an opportunity to talk to each of us outside of school so we wouldn't have the whole school watching. So he texted me tonight and asked if I'd come over for lunch."

"That's great. From what you had said about him, he seemed like a good guy so I knew he'd come around eventually," Jessica tells her. Though honestly she suspected that this wouldn't happen, but she wasn't about to admit that. Someone needed to be optimistic with Quinn's life, remind her that things can still be good.

"Yeah," Quinn agrees. She doesn't want to get her hopes up about tomorrow too much though. She know what it's supposed to be, but she's nervous that it won't be everything she wants to say and everything she wants to hear so (on top of everything from today) she doesn't want to think about it. So she changes the subject and tells Jessica to catch her up on what she's been up to for the last day and a half as she gets ready for bed.

Twenty minutes later she's in bed, but she's far from sleep. She's really, really trying not to think about today and she's especially trying not to cry again (she feels a bit cried out over it all). As she works so hard to think of nothing and just fall asleep, she curls up on her side, wrapping one arm around her stomach. A soft kick reminds her that she's okay, they're both okay, and that's all that really matters. It doesn't take her long to fall into a deep sleep after that.

-o-o-o-

Quinn sits in her car in front of Finn's house on Saturday. The sooner she goes in, the sooner she gets to apologize for everything and get forgiven for it. She knows that, but she's been sitting in her car parked outside his house for almost a minute.

As if the baby can sense her hesitation, she kicks Quinn- quite hard. "Fine, I'll go," she says with a roll of her eyes figuring she got the message the universe/the baby was trying to send her. She gets out of her car and walks to the door hurriedly (it's snowing and freezing) and she knocks quickly when she gets there before she chickens out.

The door opens immediately, reveling a smiling Finn. "Hey," he greets, opening the door wider and stepping back to allow her to come in.

"Hi," she returns, her voice sounding unrecognizable to her own ears. She follows his lead and goes in the house.

He shuts the door behind her and before things have a chance to get awkward, he starts talking again as he heads the very short distance to the kitchen, "I kind of woke up late this morning so I haven't made anything for lunch yet."

"Need a hand?" she offers, hoping doing something will help her relax and feel like herself again.

"Yeah, sure," Finn accepts gratefully. Him and food preparation didn't really mix. He checks out the fridge and cupboards and lists off the things they have and that they could make. After little debate they settle on BLT's and Quinn gets to work frying the bacon while Finn digs the rest of the stuff out.

"Where's your mom today?" she asks, trying to make simple conversation.

"She left a little while ago to head to Dayton with Burt. They're going to a Foreigner concert tonight," Finn answers as he puts bread into the toaster. He pushes the leaver down and realizes what he just said and how it could be confusing to someone who he hasn't talked to in a long time and doesn't know the details of his life. He explains, "Oh, she's dating Kurt's dad, Burt. It started-"

"I know," she cuts him off so he doesn't have to recap everything for her, "Kurt mentioned it."

"Right," he says, he forgot she was pretty good friends with most of the club now.

She doesn't think that it's her place to ask anymore, but she hopes that someday it will be, that they could be that good of friends again. So she asks, "How is that going? For you, I mean. It must be weird to have your mom seriously involved with a guy."

"Yeah, it is," Finn says honestly. He puts two more slices of bread in the toaster and gets to work assembling lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise on the already toasted bread. Thoughtfully, as he continues to work, he adds, "I stopped thinking about the possibility of her moving on a long time ago. She never seemed interested. So when she told me about Burt and how they'd like to live together, it really threw me. I think I've gotten used to it now though. I mean, Burt's a cool guy and my mom is happier than I've ever seen her- that made it a lot easier to deal with."

She smiles to herself as she starts taking the bacon out of the pan, glad that he's talking to her just as openly as he ever did. "Have you eaten over at Kurt and Burt's yet?" she asks conversationally.

"Yeah," he answers. She comes up next to him with a plate full of bacon and they both load some on their sandwiches. He smiles over to her, "You know I love my mom, but…Burt's a way, way better cook."

"The fresh bread and homemade pasta, it's hard to like anyone's food better than Burt's," Quinn offers because it was clear Finn felt kind of bad for preferring anyone's cooking over his mom's.

"Yeah, it's making me hungrier just thinking about it," Finn admits thinking about how he's probably going to be making himself another sandwich (which Quinn apparently knew about him because she cooked plenty of bacon for him to have another one).

They sit down at his kitchen table and start to eat their sandwiches…which is when things get weird. Silence settles between them and it's decidedly awkward.

Finn knows he should really get to telling her everything he asked her to lunch to tell her in the first place. But talking means not eating anymore and he was hungry, it was hard to give up eating to talk. He quickly gets more than halfway through his sandwich and simply decides to devour the rest so he can say what he wanted to before things get super uncomfortable. When he finishes, he notices that Quinn isn't even half way done with her sandwich. He kind of thought being pregnant would make her eat more like him- quickly and a lot- but he guesses that that's not happening, at least not yet.

Right, he was supposed to be talking. He's got to stop letting his mind stray (which Rachel keeps telling him). "I guess you know why I wanted you to come over," he begins, "I mean, I figured that Puck must have told you about our talk."

"Yeah, he did," Quinn says, putting her sandwich down, preparing herself for what she wanted to say. She rushes on before he can say anything else, "And I've really wanted to talk to you too, but I didn't want to force you into hearing what I've wanted to say. Which is that I'm so sorry. I'm sorry about everything. About agreeing to go out with you when I knew I had feelings for Puck and for sleeping with him while we were together. But most of all I'm sorry for lying and saying the baby was yours. I didn't plan that. I don't even know how it happened. You were the first person to notice anything was wrong with me and I just…I guess all that stuff came out because I was terrified and you were my only real friend and if I told you the truth I thought I'd lose you too and I couldn't. I know that's not an excuse. What I did was wrong and I'm so sorry I hurt you. I never meant to and I've never wanted to and I regret it more than anything."

"I know," Finn says understandingly, "I was mad for a while so it took me a bit to remember, but I know you're a good person and I know you cared about me like I cared about you. So I know both you and Puck didn't mean for me to get hurt and I get that now and I'm cool with it. And both of you."

"Thank you. You have no idea how relieved I am that you're that nice that you'd forgive me. You were the first real friend I've had since the second grade and I thought I screwed up so bad that I had lost you for good," Quinn tells him, relieved and so happy that they'd be okay that she's starting to tear up (and she had done so good making it through everything she wanted to say without crying- damn).

"You were a really good friend to me too. I don't want to lose that," Finn offers sincerely. He chuckles a little and reasons, "You'd think, with both of us thinking of each other as a friend, we would have realized we weren't meant to be more than friends."

"Yeah," she agrees. His mention of their status as more than friends reminds her that she left something out earlier, "And around the end of our relationship, I was a real bitch to you. I'm so sorry. I don't even know where that came from. I just kept biting your head off for everything and you didn't deserve it at all."

Sheepishly, he admits, "Well, I kind of think I did. I mean, as far as I knew, you were having my kid and you had to force me into stepping up and even then I didn't really do it. Not like Puck has. I just…couldn't seem to wrap my head around all of it and what I should have been doing." He had been pretty ashamed about his behavior when he found out she was pregnant. Sure he had been a shoulder for her to cry on and had readily offered her home to her, but that was after he got her kicked out because he hadn't really talked to her about everything enough and he only got a job with Rachel's help and after Quinn's constant prodding. Even if it wasn't his kid, he had thought it was and he felt like he really failed both of them then (which is why he so needs to never actually end up in that situation- he's as far from ready for it as can be). Even more reluctantly, he adds, "Plus…I kind of kissed Rachel while we were together. Twice. And the second time, it was after I knew you were pregnant. So, even though you didn't know about it, you had a pretty good reason not to be happy with me."

"I slept with someone else," she says with a gesture to her stomach, "I think what I did was still way worse and I should have been better to you."

"Okay, I'm not going to agree with that and this isn't a contest so I propose we stop talking about it. Stop worrying about stuff we wish we had done differently," Finn suggests.

She smiles and accepts, "Okay." She doesn't feel like she should be let off the hook so easily, but that was kind of who Finn was so she knows better than to argue.

"Now…" he begins, trying to think of the things he had wanted to talk to her about, "I've been kind of kept in the loop on stuff thanks to Rachel and the rest of the glee club, but catch me up. What's been going on with you? Like…how's your sister doing? Is she in a walking cast yet?"

Quinn kind of suspected that the club's penchant for gossip and Rachel's seeming inability not to talk would mean Finn knew everything going on with her this whole time they hadn't been speaking (even if there had been times when he probably didn't want to know anything), but it's still a delightful surprise that he's so well informed that he knows what's going on with her sister.

They talk for a while about her life and about his, about glee club and the new friends they've gained. Somewhere during all of it Finn has another sandwich and tries to insist that Quinn should have another as well- she's eating for two, shouldn't that equal two sandwiches?

After a while, once they've moved their catching up to the couch, the conversation lulls just a tiny bit and Finn interjects, "I've missed this."

"Me too," Quinn agrees with a soft smile.

They had covered a lot of topics. After all, Quinn had been there nearly three hours now, but it had mostly been lighter and easier topics (except when they talked about her parents and her current situation with them). There are still some things Finn wants to know though. He's not sure it's his place to ask anymore or that it won't make what had been a pretty nice afternoon turn awkward and uncomfortable. But he doesn't want things to be like that so he decides it's time to finally dive in and see what happens. He asks, truly confused as he thought back, "Can I ask you though…one thing I've never got is why didn't you tell Puck about the baby before you had told me that other stuff? We haven't gotten to talk a ton, but he mentioned that you guys were planning on telling me what was going on between you two after you slept together, but you imploded too quick afterwards to even get to that. But you had to know he'd still be there for you, right? Didn't you still think he was a good enough guy to do the right thing? Because he would have. I know he would have."

"Yeah, I…" she trails off. She hadn't really given it that much thought. There had been more important things going on back then, much bigger mistakes to deal with. She recalls, "Honestly, when I blurted out that lie to you, I hadn't even thought about his part in everything. Not really. I mean, I knew he was the father and I knew that meant I'd have to tell him I'm pregnant, but…I was still too shocked and scared and I had thought I had a while before anyone noticed so I had plenty of time to talk to him. But then you noticed something was wrong with me and that stupid lie came spilling out and dealing with that became a new priority and telling him got more complicated."

Quinn really liked how, despite their recent stretch of time spent not being friends at all, Finn still believed in his former/renewed best friend enough that he didn't hesitate to express how much he believed in him. So she offers, "And he did do the right thing. Unfortunately it was after he heard I was pregnant from you and not from me so the right thing came along with a good amount of anger- on both of our parts- but he still tried to do the right thing."

Finn smiles. He really wants to find out if she's in love with Puck too. He thinks she is, just like everyone else in glee club had assumed, but he was hoping for an admission like Puck's while they talked and so far there had been absolutely nothing. This, Quinn clearly knowing that Puck is a good guy, might be what he'll have to settle for. He knows he can't just come out and ask her if she loves him point blank. How weird would that be? So he's left to resort to the only thing he's been able to come up with- approaching the topic of the future. "Yeah, and it seems like he's been doing really, really good lately about doing the right thing and everything. I mean, he has that job and he shaved off his Mohawk- which I still can't believe, kind of thought he'd have that forever. But…I know he's working and I know you said you got some money for your car and you worked a little too… but the other day at lunch it seemed like you guys are still leaning toward adoption?"

Quinn had been hoping today would be a distraction from thinking about the future. So far, it had been. She doesn't want to get into all of her concerns and worries (and how yesterday made her feel different about them) so she tries to stick to logic as she explains, "Well, yes, Puck has a job, but he'll only be able to work after school and on weekends and that's what? Twenty, twenty-five hours a week? That alone, isn't enough to support a baby on. May already has enough people depending on her income and I can't add any more. And I have about twenty thousand saved, but I also don't have a job and I haven't heard anything from any place I've applied to. The economy is awful so it seems entirely likely that I may not get a job at all for a long time and what if that happens? With rent and utilities and everything you need for a baby and other necessities, how long could twenty thousand and Puck's earnings last? I don't have to worry about any of it going to medical bills because I got on MedicAid, but still…it won't last forever. Maybe just a year, and then what? It'd be a huge gamble to try something like that so I think we need to do the responsible thing and consider that adoption really might be the best thing for her. Two parents who are ready to be parents and can offer security and stability."

Wow, he had kind of forgotten how depressing thinking about all this stuff was. Maybe it wasn't the right way to get her to talk about Puck and his possible involvement in her future at all. Sympathetically, he offers, "Yeah. When I thought I was the one in this with you, I was against the whole adoption thing at first and I'm sorry for giving you a hard time about it. I've thought about it a lot since then and I get it now. It is the responsible thing to do- to make sure you really consider your options. But…you have to do not only what's right for her, but what's right for you and what's right for Puck too. It effects all of you hugely, not just her."

She wants to argue with him. He's not wrong. What happens will affect her and Puck (as of yesterday, she learned that it will impact her so much more than she anticipated). But it feels selfish to take that into consideration and she's been selfish enough in her life, she knows that this is not the place for it. She can't get the words out though, because she knows that if she does then he'll just spend more time trying to convince her and she's already made her mind up.

He continues on, persisting finally toward his ultimate point, "I know you though. I know you'll put her first. Definitely before yourself. But…I've known Puck a long time. Pretty much as long as I can remember. He literally is my brother from another mother. And as strong as he is and as much stuff he's survived, I don't think he'd survive losing her or you and I know he wouldn't survive if he lost both of you." For the record, he at no time said Puck was in love with Quinn. He kept his word and didn't let that slip. (He just kind of implied she was his world- that's totally not the same.) "Just-keep that in mind, alright?" he adds, letting her off the hook for having to respond to anything he just said. He had really wanted to hear her response, but as he was saying it she looked so conflicted and lost that he just couldn't go through with it anymore, even if he still really wanted to know how she felt about his best friend.

"Okay," she agrees, knowing she's telling the truth because it would be hard not to remember what Finn just said. Thoughts like those about Puck and how he really felt about the situation had definitely crossed her mind. But she had always tried to talk herself out of those thoughts, tell herself she's seeing things wrong, reaching the wrong conclusions because it's easier that way. If Finn, who hadn't even talked to Puck in about two months, could see it though…she still wants to ignore it because the ultimate decision will be easier that way (and maybe it's the only way she can make the right choice), but it's harder now. She knows it's going to be with those words stuck in her head.

Finn didn't get to do what he wanted, but by the way Quinn seems completely wrapped up in her own thoughts, he's going to call this a win because he's pretty sure he just did something good. He smiles again and decides this is probably as good of a time as any to do something his girlfriend requested. He asks, "And something else to keep in mind…Rachel really wants to go on a double date with you guys."

Brow furrowed, mouth hanging open slightly, it takes Quinn a few beats to catch up. "Seriously?" she finds herself asking. Because Finn was her ex and even if her and Rachel were well on their way to developing a good friendship, what girl ever wanted to double date with her boyfriend's ex? Not to mention Rachel knows that she and Puck aren't together so "dating" wasn't something they did.

"Yeah," Finn confirms, "she really wants that to happen. Ever since we got together and I told her how I wanted to talk to both you and Puck and let you know that I'm okay with everything now, she's been insisting that I try to get you guys to go out with us. I forgot to bring it up with Puck, which she's been kind of mad about so I had to tell you."

"But Puck and I…we're not…" she trails off struggling for the right word.

Well, this was different. When they were together, Quinn was always so direct and in control and now she seemed flustered. It was kind of amusing actually, seeing Quinn flustered over talking about her "non-relationship" with Puck. But Finn also kind of felt bad about the fact that he had flustered her so he lets her off the hook continuing, "I know. And Rachel knows you guys aren't together too. But she still wants this date thing to happen anyway. I think she's using "date" kind of loosely. Mostly, I think she just wants all of us to hang out. Things are different than they were before, for all of us, and I think she wants to find a new way for us to be friends."

"I want that too," Quinn agrees. She wants all of them to be able to be friends and she knows it's going to be very different from before due to everything that had happened. But, even if "date" is just Rachel's poor word choice, she's not sure she can handle that right now.

She hasn't said "but", but Finn's pretty sure she has one even if she's not going to say it. He offers, "You can try to talk her out of it. I have been just because I think it'd be weird if just the four of us made plans to do something and we didn't include the rest of the glee club at all. It kind of seems like we'd be excluding them. Unless Rachel and I double dated with Artie and Tina too or went to the movies with Kurt or Mercedes or something too. And Rach kind of agreed that maybe it would seem like we were leaving people out if we only make plans to do something with you guys, but she hasn't mentioned doing anything else with anyone else and still hasn't given up on her original idea. So…yeah, you should try to talk to her about it. I've gotten no where."

She's not sure if he's being nice and giving her an out or if this whole part of their conversation was actually all about him. She knows him pretty well though and figures the former is more likely, but the latter is what she should respond to. She smiles (gratefully) and checks, "So what you've been getting at this whole time is that you want me to talk to your girlfriend for you?"

"Yes. Sort of. It'd be for both of us," Finn answers expectedly. He had to warn her about what Rachel wanted (Rachel would be super pissed at him if he didn't bring it up anyway), but even if he did want to find a way to hang out with his girlfriend and his best friend and the girl his best friend loves (there has to be a better title for her, but all the others seem longer and more complicated) he didn't want Quinn to have to deal with talking to him about it. It was clear she wasn't ready for this kind of topic. Or maybe she just didn't have time for it with everything else, which he could understand. So he gave her a way to avoid it and he's glad that they still know each other well enough that she recognized what he was doing.

"Well," she drawls, pretending to consider it, "I suppose I could help you out. Is there anything else you'd like me to talk to her about?"

"Seriously?" he asks surprised. He figured the topic would just be dropped after she agreed.

"Yeah. After everything I put you through, I owe you," she offers. He opens his mouth and she knows he's probably going to go back to telling her all the ways he screwed up and try to convince her she didn't owe him anything, but she doesn't want to hear it. "No. I owe you. I do. Okay?" she insists.

He doesn't agree…but then again he never really won arguments with Quinn and he's probably not going to start winning now so there's no point in trying. "Okay," he agrees reluctantly. Although, thinking about the offer, this could actually really help him out.

"So what else do you want me to talk to her about?" she asks knowingly.

He's not sure if it's the right thing to do. To take advantage of her offer when he doesn't think she owes him, but it's too good of an offer to pass up. "Okay, well, you know how Rachel had that idea for all of us watching musicals at her house to 'help educate us' or whatever and how it got pushed back until after Regional's? Well, she wants to schedule it for the day after Regional's and I think it's a really bad idea. I mean, we'll need a break and Regional's on Saturday will be a long day and no one's going to want to spend all day Sunday doing that and then she'll get hurt by no one showing up and it'll just be bad. But she's not listening to me about it."

"I'll try to get her to bring that up to me and talk her out of it. I agree, no one's going to want to do that," Quinn concurs. "What else?" she asks.

"My birthday is coming up next month, maybe you could go shopping with her, make sure whatever she gets me doesn't involve kittens, puppies, bunnies…unicorns," he says, trying to come up with other creatures he's seen adorning her room. Straining to remember anything else, he advises, "Just…use your judgment on whatever she's thinking of getting. As much as I love her, Rachel is really horrible at getting people gifts."

"No problem. I'll invite myself along so we can both shop for you and I'll help her control her natural impulses when trying to select a gift," Quinn agrees.

"You don't have to do that. I mean, you shouldn't be buying me anything. I know your money has much more important places to go," he tells her because it's the right thing to do.

"Getting you a gift wouldn't really be a loss though because wouldn't you be getting me one about a month later for my birthday?" she asks, feigning hurt over the idea that he forgot about that.

"Right. I guess it'll work out then. If I get you a gift of equal value," he figures. Although, thinking about having to buy her a gift only about two and a half months from now, a sense of panic starts to fill him. He begins, "Do you think maybe-"

"I'll give you some suggestions of what to get me," she cuts him off knowing the direction he was heading. He really wasn't so great at gift giving either and she knows he knows that.

He smiles gratefully at his ex-girlfriend, which reminds him, "And Rachel's birthday is in June. Do you think-"

"I'll go shopping with you," she says smiling, cutting him off again and showing just how well she knows him. (She doesn't know when Rachel's birthday is in June, but her due date is June 5th and there's a good chance she won't actually be able to keep this promise. Especially if she keeps the baby and especially if she doesn't. But she doesn't want to tell him that now. They were having such a nice conversation.)

"Thank you," he says gratefully. He was already starting to freak out about what to get Rachel and her birthday was nearly six months away. He had zero ideas that he considered even possibly good.

"Anytime," she promises, so glad that she can make promises about the future of their friendship. As nice as this afternoon had been though, Quinn finally glances at the clock and realizes that the evening is quickly approaching now. "I should go though. You probably have a date with Rachel you should be getting ready for," Quinn says as she gets up from the couch.

"Yeah. I probably should start getting ready. She hates it when I'm late," Finn says getting up as well.

Quinn gets her purse and her coat, putting it on as she heads toward his front door.

He's waiting there for her, but he doesn't open the door. He knows this may be kind of weird, but he makes himself spit it out anyway, "Would it be weird if I…hugged you goodbye?"

"Maybe," she responds honestly. She smiles and continues, "But we should probably give it a try anyway." It very well may be uncomfortable, but she really wants to try and get back to a place where it's not so she figures they might as well dive in.

He smiles, grateful that she gets what he was asking and she's game for it. He wraps his arms around her as she does the same and they embrace. She sighs a little at the familiarity and comfort and he releases the small breath he had been holding, relived that this isn't nearly as awkward as it could be. But just to make sure it doesn't get awkward, he releases her after only a couple of seconds.

"This is probably going to sound kind of weird too," he prefaces, "but I'm really glad things turned out like they did."

It is a strange thing to say considering she's pregnant from when she cheated on him with his best friend and she lied to him about that for what felt like a very long time. But she understands what he's really saying and agrees. "Me too," she offers sincerely. Because what he was really saying, she knows, is that he's glad that despite being in a romantic relationship they really had no business being in, in the first place, they can hang out and they'll be really good friends in time.

She tells him to have fun on his date and he bids her good night before she heads out into the snow to her car. She can't stop smiling the whole drive home. The guilt that settled in her chest forever ago finally starting to lessen.

-o-o-o-

Quinn spends most of the rest of her Saturday on the phone. First with Jessica going over everything that had happened in the last few days as her sister requested (and despite the fact that Jess already knew it all). By some miracle Jessica never asked her to about how the whole experience felt, for which she was extremely grateful because that was a conversation she wasn't at all ready to have.

The second long phone conversation she has is with Puck, telling him all about how things went with Finn. She debates whether or not she should mention Rachel's double date suggestion, but then it accidentally slips out. His response is, "A whole night with Rachel and hardly anyone else for her to talk to instead of me or you? That doesn't sound like fun. Especially before competition. She'll never stop 'critiquing' us." She doesn't know what she should take that to mean, but she thinks he might actually be willing to do it. Since she isn't sure she is though, she dives in to all the things Finn asked for help with instead.

Later, after all conversations are over, the baby kicks her in the ribs- hard. "Ow!" she exclaims. The baby does it again and she finds herself talking without thinking about it. "Please don't kick me there again. I'll get you a pony if you don't do it. I promise," she finds herself bargaining to her daughter. The baby promptly kicks again and Quinn lets out angrily, "Fine. I guess you have the same opinion of horses as I do. How about a car if you just stop kicking me in my ribs?" she offers. Unfortunately she starts to ramble logically off of that thought, "Not that I could probably ever afford something very nice considering my parents cut me off. It'd probably have to be something like an old hatchback Civic or- Ow! Fine. Not a car apparently." She would love a car, but apparently it wasn't the right bargaining chip (probably because she was talking to a baby that was twenty weeks old and not even born yet and completely incapable of understanding her). But maybe the problem was that she took after her father. What kinds of things did Puck really like? She grimaces slightly as she offers, just after yet another kick to her ribs, "How about nunchakus? If you don't kick me there again, I'll get you nunchakus." There is no immediate kick. The seconds turn into minutes and still there isn't another kick. Which is how Quinn ends up dissolving into laughter all alone in her bedroom. Because of course, nunchakus would be the offer that happens to work even if talking to the baby to bargain was ridiculous to begin with.

After the laughter dies, with her hand on her stomach, Quinn finally remembers that she promised herself she wouldn't talk to the baby, in an effort not to get more attached. She makes that promise to herself again. That she won't do something this pointless no matter how hard the baby's kicking. (But she doesn't remove her hand from her stomach. She falls asleep with it there and wakes up with it still there hours later.)

-o-o-o-

Sunday brings Finn to the Puckerman apartment for the first time in a little over two months. With the whole thinking he was going to be a father thing, doing things with his best friend had fallen by the wayside a while before he found out the truth.

It's more than a little awkward when he gets there. Mostly because Kelyn and May haven't said hello to him but they have been spying on him and Puck as they moved from the front door to the couch in the living room.

Puck knows the source of the awkwardness as well and as he hands Finn one of the video game controllers he calls, "Ma', Kel, get in here."

As the come into the living room from their hiding spots in the kitchen, Puck asks, "What are you doing?"

"I don't know what you mean Noah," May says very unconvincingly. She smiles at Finn and walks over to him and gives him a hug as she greets, "Finn. It's such a nice surprise to see you here." She pulls away and gives a pointed look to her son (he never mentioned that things were fine between him and his best friend again).

(At the look, Puck realizes what he left out. Whoops.

But in his defense he was more then a little preoccupied with the girl having his kid suddenly not talking to him so…his mom should be cool about the oversight, right?)

"How have you been honey?" May asks him.

"Good," he replies truthfully. Though, seeing the other person who came into the room and hasn't said anything to him, he adds, "Though I would be better if I could get a hug from my favorite ten year old."

"If you really wanted a hug from me you wouldn't have not been around forever," Kelyn retorts (like a smart-ass, not bitterly).

"I told you Kel, that was my fault," Puck interjects.

"And it wasn't my fault," she responds to Puck and continues to Finn, "And if I'm your favorite ten year old and you're my friend too, then why should you drop out of my life just because the two of you aren't talking?"

Damn. Sometimes it was kind of inconvenient that Puck's sister had his personality, but was smarter than him. "Uh…" Finn stalls, "Because I'm an idiot, you're a mini genius, and that didn't occur to me."

She rolls her eyes, but smiles and walks over to him. Before she hugs him she responds, "Fine. Apology accepted."

"Okay, we're going to the movies. We'll be back with dinner," May announces and Puck catches the look of surprise across Kelyn's face (his mom was obviously improvising here- wanting to give them time alone- it was nice). "Finn you're going to join us for dinner, right?" May checks and hopes it sounds like she's insisting, because before he would have stayed and she wouldn't have had to ask so she wants it to still sound like that's the case.

"Absolutely," Finn agrees. Remembering, he adds, "Oh, but can my mom come too? She should just be getting back from Dayton with Burt about now and I don't think she's gonna want to cook."

"Of course she can. I'll call her on our way to the theater," May says. She heads for the door, ushering Kelyn with her, and calls, "Stay out of trouble," as she leaves- just like old times (though it's probably not necessary now).

For the next two hours, Puck and Finn do nothing but play video games and talk football, basketball, and movies. But those topics can't last forever and even though he thought maybe he shouldn't bring up the topic of Quinn (a.k.a. the girl he screwed over his best friend for), Puck can't let this one thing go unsaid though and since his mom could possibly be returning at any minute now, he knows he's running out of the opportunity to say it. As they continue to fight each other on the screen, he says, "Hey, thanks for not saying anything yesterday to Quinn…about, you know, what I asked you not to say anything about."

"Yeah, of course," Finn says with a smile. He doesn't see how Quinn could possibly not know, but whatever. If Puck knew he didn't say anything though, then that could only mean one thing. "So I guess Quinn told you about yesterday then?" he asks and after getting a nod in response from Puck he continues, "So you know what I asked her for help with?"

"Yep," Puck confirms after a beat, trying to recall what Quinn had said.

"Alright. I know I can trust that you won't say anything about that to Rachel, right? I mean, I know she likes Quinn now, but I don't think she'd like me getting help from anyone when I try to buy her a birthday present," Finn explains.

"Yeah, of course," Puck echoes, letting his friend know that he won't say anything. Though, now that he thinks about it, Finn asking Quinn for help with Rachel's birthday present was bugging him for a couple of reasons. He points out, "But you know that, first, I could have totally helped you out there. I'm actually pretty good at buying girls gifts. And second, you do know you'll need to get her something before then, right? Valentines Day is like a month away."

"Crap! I completely forgot about Valentines," Finn exclaims. Rachel's probably going to want something extravagant and really romantic. He honestly has no idea what he could do. Maybe he should call for reservations at the nicest, most romantic restaurant in Lima and save his money to afford it. Or would Rachel think that's too unoriginal? Damnit, he was totally screwed.

When he finally stops panicking internally, Finn remembers the first part of what Puck said and asks, "And since when are you good at getting girls gifts?"

"Since forever," Puck scoffs, "Kel's always liked my gifts best. My mom too."

"Yeah but moms and kids are different than girls our age. Girls our age are…difficult," Finn counters.

Puck shrugs, lets it slip quietly, "Hasn't been that hard with Quinn."

Finn smirks, "That's right. I heard about your Christmas adventure. It was a really smart move man. Driving her all the way there so she wouldn't have to miss out on Christmas with her sister."

Puck simply shrugs, brushing it off modestly, like it wasn't the grand gesture it was.

"I heard about your Hanukah presents too- through Rachel. But I never heard what she got you for Christmas and I know Quinn would definitely get you something considering what you did for her. So what'd you get?" Finn asks. He had asked Rachel, but despite the fact that Rachel liked to keep very well informed of inner-club gossip, she had no idea.

"Uh," Puck stalls slightly. He hadn't told anyone. He didn't know why, but he just hadn't. "She gave me a 1968 NFL playoff ticket- Cleveland versus Dallas. She swiped it from her dad's collection telling me I could either keep it just to have something of that jerk's or I could probably sell it for a lot."

"Awesome," Finn comments.

"Yeah…I sold it on ebay for $750 last week," Puck admits. He hadn't even told Quinn about that yet. It turned out it was worth a little more than she thought.

"Wow! That's so cool," Finn says. He smirks and asks, "So are you going to use some of that money to get Quinn something for Valentines Day?"

"No," Puck denies quickly, "I told you, it's not like that between us right now."

"But why not?" Finn's quick to ask because he really didn't understand.

"Because she doesn't want it to be. She called a time out on us a long time ago and she had pretty good reasons for it too. They were probably even better than I know- she is smarter than me after all," Puck explains, a hint of tiredness to his voice. He understood the logic behind her decision, but he'd be lying if he said that it wasn't getting harder and harder for their label to be nothing.

Finn wants to ask what Quinn's reason were because he still really doesn't understand why they aren't together. They both did something he didn't think they were capable of when they got together behind his back, so he knew that they both had to mean a whole lot to each other, which is why he really didn't get why they weren't together. With all that they had already done to be together, with hurting him and everything, what could possibly be standing in their way now? But if Rachel had insisted on keeping him in the friend's zone, he's sure it would be kind of a sore spot so he refrains from asking more (for now), and simply responds empathetically, "That sucks."

"Yep," Puck agrees with a heavy sigh.

A couple of beats of silence pass and they continue to play their game.

Finn's brows furrowed in thought, he eventually asks what's occurred to him, "Don't you have to get her something or do something for her for Valentines anyway though? Even if you aren't together? Because…she is having your kid and a lot of stuff isn't really great for her right now so…"

Puck honestly hadn't thought of it that way. Quinn really freaked out at the first time they were clearly not paying attention to her "no romance" rule so he figured it was safe to avoid the holiday all together. She'd probably freak out if he got her anything, worrying over the implications, and ultimately appreciate it if he didn't even acknowledge it. But Finn has a point. She is having his kid and being pregnant, especially at school, hasn't exactly been doing her life any favors. "Do you think I have to do something? Because she's extremely serious about this whole no romance thing so…I don't see how I could do something on Valentines or get her something for it without going against that rule."

Finn shrugs and suggests, "Do something platonic?"

"How do you do something platonic on Valentines Day?" Puck returns, truly not understanding how that was possible.

It takes him a minute, but Finn finally comes up with an answer, "Do something the day before. Or the day after. And make it something friends would do. Like play video games."

Puck considers it, but there's a problem with it, "Then how is it different than every other day?"

So apparently they did stuff together very regularly. Or at least that's what Finn was getting from Puck's response. And it made sense too. They seemed really close lately and neither one of them had him to hang out with and they had that whole baby thing happening so of course they hung out. "I don't know," Finn responds honestly, "I don't know like, what you guys usually do. I don't know Quinn as well as you do. And you're the one who's claiming to be good at getting girl's gifts so…I don't know what you could do, but I think you'll probably come up with something great." Realizing what he just said, he adds worriedly, "Not too great though, alright? Cause I'm probably not coming up with something very good for Rachel so don't make me look bad in comparison."

"Yeah, sure," Puck agrees to try not to do anything that could earn his friend disappointment from his girlfriend. But he's not too sure about everything else Finn said. He seriously has no idea what he could do or what he could get Quinn that would be completely platonic. Maybe he'll just have to keep his fingers crossed that she'll mention something or she'll do something that will inspire an idea in the next month.

They continue playing for a few minutes when, out of nowhere, Finn exclaims, "Take her sledding!"

"What?"

"Take Quinn sledding. As your platonic Valentines gift."

"She can't go sledding. She's pregnant."

"So?"

"So? It's kind of dangerous."

"No it's not."

"Yeah, it is."

"No it's not," Finn returns again as the door opens and May, Kelyn, and his mom come flooding in. Carol makes right for Finn to say hello since she hadn't seen him since Saturday morning. After she greets both boys, Finn consults his mom, "Mom, sledding isn't too dangerous for a pregnant girl, right?"

Carol takes a second to catch up to the question her son just asked (it was such an odd and unexpected one), but answers thoughtfully, "It's probably technically not too dangerous, but it wouldn't be advisable for a pregnant girl to do anything like that where there's some risk or uncertainties involved." She can't help but ask, concerned, "Is Quinn thinking of going sledding?"

"No, that was kind of my idea," Finn admits. He was right, sledding isn't that dangerous, but he supposes he could see now why it wouldn't be ideal considering Quinn's pregnant. He hasn't talked to his mom in over a day though, he remembers, and asks, "How was the concert?"

"Great," Carol replies, heading to the kitchen with both boys in tow.

"Foreigner, right?" Puck asks, pretty sure that that was what Finn had said.

"Yep. And they're still awesome," she says as she takes a seat at the table that May is still unloading cartons of Chinese food on to. "But," she adds, "concerts are definitely a different experience at my age. The last time I went to one was before Finn was born and even though the crowd was largely my age, it was still just…different."

"I can imagine," May agrees, "I haven't been to a concert since before Noah was born, but the idea of going to one now….it seems exhausting and a little bit painful. Sometimes temple seems a little too loud for my old ears. A concert? I think I'd need ear plugs."

A minute passes in silence, both boys and Kelyn shoveling in food. Carol and May exchange a glance and realize that what should have happened next is apparently not going to. So May points out, "You know that was the point where you were supposed to say we're not old?"

While Finn looks slightly guilty for not picking up on that, Kelyn ignores it completely (she was the youngest, it wasn't her job to get things), Puck responds seriously, "I thought you said you don't like it when I lie?"

"Ah," May scoffs at her son.

"Kidding!" he quickly amends, holding his hands up in defense while everyone laughs at the exchange.

They used to have meals like this together, the Puckerman's and Hudson's, all the time and though tonight is the first time they've all been together like this in months, it's as if nothing has changed.

(Except, Finn finally notices after he's finished eating, there are sonogram pictures hanging on the fridge. The baby's bigger, looks more like a baby that it did in the dvd he used to have.

Even though he realized he wasn't angry any more, that he was over it, he still thought it'd be harder to be around each of them. He thought it'd especially be weird to see anything concerning them and the baby that he used to think was his. But it truly isn't. When he sees the pictures on the fridge it makes him smile. He's glad Puck is handling everything so well. He always knew his best friend would be good at the family thing, even if he had always claimed he wanted to be a bachelor for life. And he's glad Quinn has someone in her life that would hang the pictures on the fridge because he thinks she needs that kind of simple familial support.)

-o-o-o-

The week passes without much incident.

Finn joins Puck walking to his fourth period class on Monday and whispers fill the halls. Finn thought knowing people were talking about him again (especially in relation to the topic that now surrounds his relationship with Puck and Quinn) would really bug him, but he has his best friend back now and he finds that the less than hushed words and critical glances don't really bug him. Especially when Puck admits that he really misses being able to punch people for saying anything about him at all. It makes Finn roar with laughter and completely forget about all the people who will now be gossiping about him again.

Finn also makes it a point to try to walk somewhere with Quinn. Just so it's clear he's cool with both of them, not just Puck. But he ends up only joining her from the walk from her locker to the choir room for glee practice Tuesday and the halls are so crowded with students trying to make a quick escape at the end of the day that it doesn't seem like anyone noticed. Oh well, he supposes he'll keep trying.

The only thing that happens the whole week that truly distinguishes it from any other monotonous high school filled week is the whole glee club finds themselves gossiping about Mr. Schue. Or, more accurately, Mr. Schue and Ms. Pillsbury.

It starts on Tuesday when Rachel mentions at lunch that she was at school late the previous day for her debate club meeting and she saw Ms. Pillsbury get picked up in a really nice car by a man that was definitely not Mr. Schue. This starts a long discussion. Some of the club thought Mr. Schue and Ms. Pillsbury were together, while the rest of them assumed that they were simply on their way to getting together (after his divorce was finalized).

It's while Kurt is asking Rachel if the man could have possibly been family that Santana comes up to the table with Brittany, hears what they're talking about, and drops a bombshell on them. "Are you talking Ms. P's boyfriend?"

"Boyfriend?" is the sharp reply from most of them.

"Yeah. If you're talking about the guy with the red Corvette then you saw her with her boyfriend," she answers.

"How do you know he's her boyfriend?" Rachel's quick to question.

"Because I met him," Santana answers Rachel as if it was the stupidest question ever. She explains, "She dragged me into her office last week to talk to me about…my grades, I think, and he came in and dropped off lunch he made for her. She said he was her boyfriend, Doctor….something. I don't know I wasn't listening to her. He's literally the hottest guy I've ever met. I seriously considered punching her out and telling him he could have me on her desk any way he wanted me."

"How classy of you," Kurt intones sarcastically.

"Please," Santana responds rolling her eyes at Kurt, "If you saw him and he was as gay as you, you would've done the same thing."

Uncomfortably, Rachel admits, "From the short glimpse I saw of him, he did seem to be very attractive." (She's more uncomfortable about agreeing with Santana than she is about the fact that Finn is sitting next to her as she talks about another man's attractiveness.)

"What?" Finn questions.

Rachel rolls her eyes at his jealousy and simply takes his hand in hers to let him know her opinion was just that, an opinion.

"But…what about Mr. Schue?" Mercedes asks what they're all thinking.

"Maybe she's just trying to make him jealous for some reason. Why else would you date a hot guy?" Brittany suggests (pointedly toward her cheer companion).

"I don't think that's it. He's seemed depressed lately. I think they're just…over. If they even really ever got started in the first place," Quinn says. She had never noticed Ms. Pillsbury wear the necklace she had realized as they were talking and Mr. Schue hadn't seemed completely like himself since they returned from break. So something going wrong between them seemed like the logical answer.

"That's so sad," Tina comments sympathetically.

A depressing cloud settles over the table.

Santana, not wanting to be a part of that, swipes a cookie from Mike's plate as she rolls her eyes and says, "Whatever. See you losers later." Brittany follows her.

Later, at glee practice, Mr. Schue announces he's had an epiphany about what they should do for Regional's. Everyone knows that his Journey idea isn't a great one (it's not a horrible one either, but definitely not great), but not even Santana has the heart to say anything like that to him given what they've learned of his personal life. So they get started learning their Journey songs and hope that being nice about it is something they won't regret.

-o-o-o-

The rest of the week passes quickly and before Quinn knows it it's Friday afternoon and she's one class period plus a half hour away from visiting her first adoption agency.

Puck has asked her a dozen times already today if she was still sure she wanted to go alone and she's maintained that she does even though she's practically shaking she's so nervous.

She's also been feeling very self-conscious all day. She put on her second nicest sweater dress (the nicest one saved for tomorrow's agencies) and her Coach boots and took extra time with her make-up and hair this morning. The agencies will be trying to get her to pick them, not the other way around. So she knows there's not logical reason to feel like she has to look right and say the right things when she's there, but she feels that way all the same.

Puck meets her at her locker after school and carries her mostly empty bag out to her car for her. He hugs her in the parking lot and tells her to call if she needs him for anything.

When she gets to the first agency, right on time for her appointment, she tries to walk in with confidence, her head held high. She fails.

Before she even reaches the reception desk, a woman standing by the woman sitting at the desk greets her and asks if she's Quinn. She says yes and the woman introduces her self- she's the head of the agency and the person she'll be talking to today. Quinn only nods in response and then only nods again when the woman says to follow her to her office. She feels like an idiot, not having said anything at all, but she can't help it, no words would come out.

The woman doesn't seem to notice the somewhat odd behavior though and dives in to telling Quinn about the agency as soon as they've reached her moderately sized office and sat down.

"So Quinn, let me tell you about our agency," she hands Quinn a pamphlet and continues, "We're a rather small agency- very hands on and personal. We have a little over 3,500 couples on our waiting list for a child. We screen potential parents extensively and at least three of our staff members spend ample time with them. I'm always one of those staff members. I always spend at least half a day with anyone looking to get a child through our agency. So if you choose us you'll have a wide variety of parents to choose from and you'll be able to rest assured that they'll all be very good parents who will be able to provide your child with a wonderful life."

"We like to take care of the birth mothers who use our agency. We offer scholarships because we believe that if you're going to give up something as life-altering as your child, your life should be as full of good changes as possible so we try to help you stay in college by paying you a substantial amount all four years- provided you get into college. I can't give you an exact amount at this stage, but it'd be very safe to assume that you could afford to spend four years at a state school without having to worry about paying anything towards tuition."

"In order to get to that point in your life and be successful later on though, we think it's necessary that you get some help after the adoption. That's why we have a psychologist, in house, who we require our birth mothers to visit a minimum of four times: within days of giving up the baby, a month after that, two months later and then another two months later. So we basically check in on you for the first five months following the adoption."

"Now…I don't know how much you've looked into adoption, but there are basically two paths you could choose. You could have a closed adoption, which is where, after giving up your rights, you never see your child again unless the child seeks you out or you seek him or her out after he or she is twenty one- that's as soon as you'd have the option to do that if you choose to have a closed adoption. I'd say about…seventy-five percent of the adoptions we handle end up being closed, though most of our parents looking to adopt are fine with the birth mother choosing either option. I think most birth mothers think it'll be easier to move on if they have a closed adoption. As far as open adoptions…there's a new trend where open adoptions are becoming very...open, where the birth parent or parents are included in the adoptive family as if they are all one large family or where the birth parents are the regular babysitters or regularly get time with the child they gave up and honestly, if that's something you're looking for, you're not going to find it in our agency or any others. We have to be very strict with what we do since adoption is our business and a legal matter, it's just easier for us if we only allow the adoptive parents and birth parents that use us to only have the option of a traditional open adoption where the birth parents get an update on the child in the form of a phone call or letter and some pictures every so often and possibly an occasional visit- frequency up to the discretion of the parties involved though definitely not so frequent that it could be considered one of those new fangled open adoptions."

The woman takes a deep breath and laughs a little at herself, "I'm sorry, I've been rambling on again. I do this so often it just comes all spilling out in a giant speech without even thinking about it. So, Quinn, I know I just inundated you with information, but do you have any questions about anything? Or anything you were specifically looking for in an agency?"

Quinn freezes. The woman just told her so much stuff and it's a lot to process. (Though she knows that's not the reason for being stuck now. It's a valid reason, but not the real one, which is that she's overwhelmed by everything not just the information coming at her. She can't believe she's really here, sitting in an adoption agency, one she might be visiting frequently if she picks it, one where she may give up the baby that she suddenly feels too young to be having more than she ever has before.) "Uh," is all she's able to manage.

"You know what, how about I just give you my card and you can call me any time if you think of anything you want to know or discuss anything," the woman says, letting her off the hook and handing her card across the desk. "I know I just gave you a lot to consider and this is a difficult decision so really, feel free to call about anything," she reiterates with a kind smile.

"Thank you," Quinn responds happy that she was able to get words out for a change, but still feeling dumb for not being able to say anything else the whole time she was at this first agency.

Once she's outside in her car, feeling like she's able to breathe again, Quinn realizes that it didn't seem like the woman she met with was really trying to sell her on giving up the baby, just laying out what it would be like to use their agency. From things she had read about adoption agencies, she expected that they would push her into believing that giving up the baby is her only option because getting women to give up their child was the only way they made a profit so that's what a lot of agencies were like. But now, with this agency having seemed straightforward and non-coercive to birth mothers, she wonders if the stuff she had read had been wrong. She heads for the second agency and prays she won't lose her voice at this one too.

The second agency is very different. She's directed to a side of the waiting room and it's very apparent why she was told to sit to her left from the receptionist. On the right side of the room the coffee tables have parenting and family magazines on them, but on the side she was directed to there are teen magazines like Seventeen and Elle. She has a feeling that this is going to be a very different experience than the last agency.

After ten minutes in the waiting room (five after her appointment was scheduled for), a woman comes into the waiting room and asks, "Quinn?"

"Yes," Quinn confirms, happy that this time she's said something and appointment hasn't even really started yet- that's an improvement over the last meeting. Or at least equal to it as she had confirmed her own name there too.

"Hi, I'm Elizabeth Park, but you can call me Lizzie," the woman says brightly as she extends her hand.

Quinn shakes the woman's hand but groans internally. The feeling she had about this agency not being a good one just grew exponentially upon meeting the overly-cheery, giant-fake-smile "Lizzie."

Quinn follows the woman to her office, which is smaller than the woman at the last agency, and oddly enough it's decorated like a Target ad for college dorm room supplies and decorations.

"So, Quinn, you're having a baby," Lizzie says with a smile, "I bet you never planned on that."

"Of course not, I'm sixteen," Quinn responds, brows furrowing. She feels like she's missing something. Is this woman on something? Of course she's having a baby, she's at an adoption agency. And she knows the woman knows she's sixteen (she had to fill out a short form when she got here and it's currently right in front of Lizzie) so of course she wasn't planning on having a baby.

"Exactly! You're sixteen, majority of our clients are around your age and what we like to do for them and what we'd like to do for you is help you get back to being sixteen. A baby is way too much responsibility and so time consuming. If you had a baby, you can forget about going to school dances or out on a date, which is why giving up your baby is the right thing to do. You're young and you deserve to get to enjoy your youth and let someone older, who's life is all boring and "adult," take care of your baby."

"So, before you have the baby you'll sign the little critter over to the parents of your choosing- we have tons and they're all really awesome- and then once you have it you'll get your life back to the way it was. And we'll help out with that. We give you a scholarship. Although," the woman pauses and winks, "what you use it for is up to you. You know, use it for whatever will help you get your life back. Because that's what your life should be about at your age- you. Not some baby that you never intended to get pregnant with."

Lizzie smiles still, like she hasn't been saying tons of awful things, and asks, "So Quinn, if you had, say… thirty thousand dollars and the freedom to do anything you want, what would you do?"

Either this woman or this place is absolutely repulsive. Quinn wants to get up and walk out, but she's only been listening to this woman for less than five minutes and she thinks maybe it's just a bad first impression. Plus on her way to this agency she realized there was a question she should have asked the last one so she might as well at least give this one the chance to answer. "Well… actually, I was just wondering what services you'd offer for the father of a child given up using your agency?"

Lizzie is surprised by the question, "Honestly, we very rarely have fathers come in with the birth mothers." She considers it for a second and offers with that same oblivious smile, "But if the father of your baby would like, I'm sure we could work out something for him to get a "scholarship" as well."

Quinn sighs. Okay, it's official, she hates this place. She could just walk out or offer a polite "I'm not interested," or "I don't think this is a good fit for me," but, honestly, she just doesn't feel like it.

"So what you're basically saying is that you're going to give me and the father of my baby money so we give it up for adoption? You're going to buy my baby?" Quinn asks, putting the woman on the spot.

"Of course not, that'd be illegal," Lizzie denies immediately. She lowers her voice, leans in across the desk, "Although, if that's the way you'd like to think of it…well, that'd just be your interpretation- anything that helps you through your situation, we'd be okay with that."

And now, Quinn has really had enough of this place. She smiles and says with her practiced authoritative tone, "Lizzie, you're an idiot." She drops the smile as she continues, "I can't believe I sat here and listened to you for this long. You really think that your strategy, pitching a carefree lifestyle, is the way to get someone to agree to give up their child and use your agency? Don't you think a girl who's ended up here has been carefree enough and that's probably her biggest regret as she sits across from you trying to deal with the fact that she's probably going to have to give up a child because she was careless and ended up pregnant too young?"

She pulls on her coat and stands up as she continues, "And you know, talking about the baby like it's an old pair of shoes you're going to get rid of and feel better once you do is just…heartless. No matter how much any woman who sits across from you regrets getting pregnant, the baby she's having is still a part of her and talking about it like it's some "little critter" that she won't and doesn't feel anything for doesn't change that this…is difficult and painful. I…I can't use your agency because I'm smarter than you. At least I know your pitch is moronic. And I can't let an idiot have anything to do with the fate of my baby."

Quinn reaches for the paper in front of Lizzie with her information on it and rips it in quarters. She takes it with her as she slams the door open, just to make sure they don't have a way to contact her ever. When she gets to the waiting room she doesn't see anyone on the side she was told to sit on, but she sees two couples on the other side. She marches up to them and informs them, "The people here just offered to buy my baby. If I were you, I'd find a different agency. It's only a matter of time before this one gets flooded with lawsuits." The couples look skeptical, but worried and she really doesn't want to actually talk to any of them (or anyone who wants her baby right now) so she heads for the door and her car feeling more sure of herself than she has in a long time.

Quinn smiles as she drives home. She definitely found her voice at the last agency and she's really proud of herself. She didn't expect any agency to be that bad, but she's glad she called them out on it. She may have never spoken her mind around her parents, but she always used to get to at school and everyone would listen to her. Lately, standing up and voicing an opinion is something she hasn't gotten to do much. She's feared doing it at school (except with coach Sylvester) given how far she's fallen and though she's done it with her parents that one time, avoiding them doesn't provide her with the opportunity to do it any more. She doesn't miss being cruel or how she always had to work so hard just to stay at the top of the social pyramid (when the top didn't feel like that great of a place to be), but she has missed how being that Head Bitch In Charge part she would play gave her so much control (at least over part of her life). She certainly hasn't felt like she has much control in her life these last few months, so as much as actually having to consider adoption and these agencies thoroughly sucked, she does feel good about her reaction to the crappy agency.

She tells Puck this later on the phone. She knows he's not off work yet, but twenty minutes after she gets home he's calling her figuring she should just be out of the second appointment. When he eagerly asks her how the appointments went, she responds, "Oh, that last one was awful. They actually offered both of us money for the baby and they tried to talk me into giving her up by telling me that I could just hand her over to new parents and get back to dating and going to school dances. Like life will just magically return to the way it used to be once I give her up."

"That's ridiculous. Of course it won't be that easy," Puck responds, equally confused by how anyone could think that or try to persuade anyone that that was the way things would be. "So, what? You just left?"

"Not exactly," she tells him with a smile, "I called the woman an idiot and then I kind of tore into her and their pitch a little bit. I think she might have been crying when I left. And I tore up my information that they had on me so they couldn't contact me. And, honestly, if I ever find out what that woman drives…I'm considering keying her car."

"I'll be your lookout/ the guy who slashes her tires," Puck offers. With a fondness, he admits, "You know, I've really wanted to slash some tires lately."

"I know. And if we do ever find out what she drives, I won't even try to stop you," she says, though she's not sure she means it. She probably wouldn't even go through with keying the woman's car. She's just still disturbed and angry that some place like that exists, that takes advantage of women when they're vulnerable by making promises that they have no possible way of coming through on.

Quinn thinks that maybe a part of her is clinging to taking the way the last agency worked personally because she really liked (and missed) this feeling that putting them in their place before she walked out their door gave her. "I miss getting to do stuff like today. Getting to be right, and in control. Nothing ever seems to be that way anymore."

She's right, nothing does seem to be like that anymore. Puck had never often been right, so right now and occasionally doing something good with Quinn or something right at work is actually an improvement for him, but based no the way her life used to be and the way it was now, he could see why she missed that. He also had no idea how to change that about her life right now so instead he suggests, "Well maybe some of the places tomorrow will be equally crappy and you'll get to verbally rip them to shreds too."

"Speaking of tomorrow, I should really call Kurt and Mercedes. And I have to call Jess too," Quinn adds, realizing she should probably get off the phone with Puck soon, she had a lot she still needed to do today.

"I'm really glad you decided to take them with you. I didn't like the idea of you going all the way to Columbus by yourself," Puck says, probably for the hundredth time in the last week.

"You should be thanking Kurt and Mercedes. They're the ones that asked if I could use company because they've been really wanting to go to Easton Town Center. Apparently it's a really big mall and they want to do some shopping," Quinn details. She had originally suspected that Puck had already told them about her trip to Columbus and had asked them to come up with a reason to go. But both of them swore that they've been wanting a reason to go to Columbus to see this place for a while and they never talked to Puck about anything. She doesn't think either one of them are particularly gifted at lying so she had decided to believe them. (Still, she'll be looking for them to slip up tomorrow. It seemed too convenient.)

"Yeah, Kurt's been talking about it in geometry ever since you said he could come with you. I don't see how a mall could be any better than any other mall. A mall's a mall," Puck responds casually. He knows Quinn's been suspecting that he had something to do with Kurt and Mercedes' desire to go to Columbus, but he didn't. Although he did know that they wanted to before Quinn did so he knows it could easily look like he persuaded them and he doesn't want Quinn to start thinking that. They're going with her because they're her friends, he doesn't want it to look like anything other than just that.

She chuckles at his attitude toward malls and offers, "I'll take pictures tomorrow to help explain it to you." With regret she adds, "And if I'm going to get everything done today so that I can go tomorrow, I really should go."

"Yeah," he accepts with a sigh.

But he doesn't say goodbye and neither does she. Instead hanging on the line just a little bit longer.

After thirty seconds of silence, the end can't be put off any longer (without the fact that they're doing so being painfully obvious). So Puck offers, "Well…have fun shopping tomorrow and good luck with the agencies. Hope they go better than that second one today."

"Thanks," she responds, worrying her lip between her teeth.

"Call if you need anything," he says even though he knows it's pretty much the arrangement they've had for a while. (He can't help voicing it again right now, he's nervous about tomorrow. About her being at the agencies alone, about what that will be like for her, about what it may result in.)

"Of course," she assures, "I'll text you when we get there tomorrow, when I'm done with the appointments, and when we're heading back. And if it's not too late I'll call when I get home."

"It won't be too late," Puck blurts without thinking. He wanted to be cooler than that, but instead he knew he just let his eagerness show through. He might as well go with it, he figures, and admits, "There's never been a bad time for you to call me."

Quinn really wants to say "ditto," but…all of that is something she's not supposed to be thinking about right now. So instead she says, "Challenge accepted. I'll call you tomorrow, technically Sunday, between the hours of two and five in the morning and put that claim to the test."

"You're on," he tells her, though really he's hoping that if she is serious, she'll also call much sooner than that. He doesn't want to go all day and all night tomorrow without talking to her.

She says goodbye and makes her other phone calls. On her three-way call with Kurt and Mercedes they don't ask her about the appointments they know she just went to and they don't mention the ones she'll be going to tomorrow except to call them when she's done so she knows where to meet up with them. When she talks to Jessica though, of course she asks about it. Quinn's brief in describing the first place, but tells her sister all of the same things about the second that she told Puck.

"Good for you," Jessica compliments after Quinn's told her how she dealt with the awful attitude of the second adoption agency she went to. "I'll leave them a bad review on your behalf on Yelp. That's about as much as I can do until I get this cast off," Jessica offers.

"Which you will soon," Quinn assures.

"It's only a possibility at my appointment Monday. The doctor said "maybe" not "definitely." Either way though, I will be making it out to see your competition next weekend so be ready for a visit. And absolutely don't mention me being in town to mom and dad. I'm so not up for a visit with them," Jessica transitions. She could have tried to surprise Quinn, but there didn't seem to be much point to that. As long as Quinn knew she had family around to support her in everything (even a glee competition) that was what mattered. Whether or not it was a surprise seemed unimportant in comparison.

Quinn wants to tell her sister that if she doesn't get her cast off she knows how hard it would be for her to travel that far so she really doesn't have to come. But, while she wants to make that clear to Jessica, she also wants to keep her hopes up about her leg finally healing correctly and her being able to get the cast off Monday so instead of voicing her initial concern, she tells her, "You better be there. Besides family members of people in the club, our glee club doesn't have much support. One of the clubs we'll be up against this time has it's own Facebook page and a ton of fans. We're going to need all the people rooting for us we can get."

"I'll bring my old pom pomes," Jessica jokes (sort of).

"Don't," Quinn warns knowing that though her sister wasn't serious, it's probably quickly starting to sound like a really good idea to her.

They go back and forth for a while. Jessica making extravagant claims of what she's going to do as an audience member to root for Quinn's glee club (and seriously considering many of them even if they started out as jokes) and Quinn playfully threatening her not to. It's fun, the teasing, and it takes Quinn's mind off of tomorrow for the rest of the evening.

Until she goes to bed at least. When she only has a matter of hours separating her from the appointments tomorrow, her nerves start to get to her again. By this time tomorrow she'll have been to the place that will arrange for her to give her daughter away. She sleeps fitfully.

-o-o-o-

Puck is relieved when his phone call with Quinn ends. Not that he doesn't like talking to her (he looks forward to every second of it), but if she happened to ask what he'd be doing at work tomorrow, as she frequently did, he's not sure he could have remained cool enough to lie.

Tomorrow, he's seeing the house his mother put on offer on. Well, actually two offers. Her first got rejected- she totally low-balled them, figured it was worth a try- and now she had a second, more reasonable one the bank was considering. The first offer's rejection and Hank having a paying job he needed to see to had canceled seeing the house last weekend, which Puck wasn't at all happy about. He had enough stuff to worry about with the baby and Quinn, but lately he's had to add whether or not his mom was pursuing buying a complete dump to the list because he still hadn't seen the house. Nor would she give him the address or even street name so he could at least drive by and possibly get the slightest piece of mind. So he's looking forward to and is nervous about tomorrow, so much so that if Quinn had asked him about it, he's pretty sure he would have completely botched a lie.

When Saturday morning finally comes around, it comes slowly for Puck. As he heads out to their first job of the day with Hank, he texts Quinn to have a good day and tells her to buy him something- just to try to lighten the mood and take her mind off of everything. He gets a text back that they're leaving town now and he tries to remind himself that she wanted to do this alone and he had to accept it (even if he felt like he was sort of abandoning her by not going).

It seems like it takes forever for one to finally roll around, but when it does Puck is wary as Hank turns on to Market Street. He knows that there are a lot of houses on Market that it would be a generous over statement to call "fixer uppers." Hank brings the truck to a stop in front of 1011 and Puck sees his mom waiting on the front steps. It's not the worst house on the street or even the block, but that fact does nothing to convince Puck that this house is a good idea.

In his worry, Puck realizes that he's lingered in the truck and when he gets out Hank is already joining his mom on the front steps and he can hear him say, "May, it's nice to finally meet you."

"You too. And thank you so much for giving Noah a job and for coming out here to take a look at the house. It's the first house I've ever tried to buy, my financial advisor recommended it, and I just want to make sure I'm not getting in over my head with things that would need to be done," May tells him gratefully and rambling, excited that she may be standing on the steps to her future home.

"Well I'm happy to help. I've always found that lending a hand wherever you can for any family or friend of an employee or co-worker makes for a much better working environment. So it's kind of a policy with me and my guys- anyone of them or anyone they know needs help, they get it. Simple as that," Hank offers with a smile. He's pretty sure this policy is what's led to his luck in having lots of really great employees over the years and every time he thinks of it he says a silent thank you to his wife- it was her idea after all.

"If it's okay with you, I'd like to do a walk through of the house. I'll make a list of everything I think needs work and then I'll go through it with you and we'll discuss what would be high priority and what would be low priority that you could get away without addressing for a while. We can discuss what everything would cost you as well," Hank proposes.

"Sure, that's fine," May agrees.

"Puck, this is a good opportunity for you to show me what you've learned on the job these past six weeks and from those books you should be reading," Hank says ripping a piece of paper off of his legal pad and handing it to Puck with a pen, "I want you to do the same thing I'm going to be doing. Walk around the house and make a list of everything you think needs work and label it high priority or low priority. You should be done by the time I am." With that, Hank walks into the house to get started.

"Well, what are you waiting for? Get started," May encourages her son. She adds quietly, "And I'll try to make sure I stay out of the same room as Hank so we can talk without it looking like you're asking for help. If you need help, I've looked around the house a lot, I know a lot of things that should be on your list, so just come find me."

"Thanks," Puck says gratefully. He didn't expect to have to prove what he's learned so far when they started the day, but the pressure of the task is a really effective distraction to worrying about what his mom may be getting herself into with this house.

Puck makes it all the way through the house once and realizes that his list is barely a half a page long and Hank has only been through the upstairs. So he walks through a second time and Hank still isn't done so he walks through third. The fact that he's added to his list significantly each walk through makes him nervous about what other obvious things he might still be missing, but it's been nearly an hour and Hank is finally done so his time is up.

May is waiting in the kitchen and when Hank finishes he motions for Puck to follow him in there to talk to his mom.

"Do you mind if I ask how much this house is going for?" Hank asks May.

"They're asking $54,900, that's a reduced price. I low-balled them by offering $35,000- figured it was worth a try. Then my realtor recommended something they're more likely to accept for my second offer- $47,000," May tells him.

"Forty-seven thousand dollars Ma'? We don't have that kind of money," Puck says, shocked.

"It's a house. You don't pay for it all at once. And since your father was a jackass and had our house only in his name and then sold it to get us out, I qualify as a first time buyer, which gives me better interest rates. I only plan to put $5,000 down, which we do have, and then with a thirty year mortgage the monthly payment will only be $210," May explains.

"That's $290 less than we pay per month for the apartment," Puck realizes.

"Yeah, I know. I told you that Steve is a really good financial advisor. We should have gotten a house as soon as the housing market took a dive, we could have been saving money for a couple of years now as we will be in the long run if we get a house around the same price as this one," May tells her son, wishing she had pulled her life together after her husband left sooner. They could have been doing a lot better if she had.

"Well I think this house is a good investment for you," Hank cuts in, "there are several things that need work, but most of them are small things and about half of what's left once the small things are off your list are low priority things that you don't need to rush to get done. But what really makes this house a good investment is that the last people who bought it got some of the really costly remodeling done before they lost it to the bank. You've got a new roof that should probably last you twenty-years or so. All of the windows are dual pane and new- although the two upstairs ones that face the street don't match, but that's a low priority item we could fix for you in time. All the pipes and electrical are in good working order and structurally everything seems sound as well. The upstairs bathroom has been completely remodeled. The down stairs bathroom is nearly complete- you just need a showerhead and either a rod for a shower curtain or we could build a shower door. You also need a sink in that bathroom and I'd recommend replacing the cabinetry the previous owners selected for it, it doesn't really fit the room. The kitchen has also been partially remodeled. So all of that remodeling really makes this house a pretty smart investment."

"But…" May propositions, sensing that he had one coming.

"But," Hank continues, "it's going to cost you some serious money to live here. Mainly because of this kitchen. The only appliance it has is a dishwasher, which doesn't work, and all new appliances- especially since that space over there is for a double oven- is going to be expensive. I do know a few places that you could get used appliances at though getting them in the same color could be a bit tricky. It could be done though and then all of them could total to about…$1,500 or so. And then the less expensive aspect of this room that needs to be finished is the cabinetry since they only half of it is finished."

Hank glances at his list, then he takes Puck's from him and reads over it. He critiques, "In the future, it's smarter to make lists like this by room- makes organizing easier. It seems like you've got majority of the stuff on there that you should have- except stuff you should learn that I haven't mentioned yet, but that you'll probably be learning very soon."

Hank then lays out his plan for Puck and May. He'd like to have Puck do nearly all of the work on the house by himself so May doesn't have to pay someone to do it. The things Puck will do will be: ripping up the carpet in the family room and refinishing the hardwood floors Hank found underneath, ripping up the carpet in all four bedrooms and installing new carpet, adding crown molding to the family room to match what had been installed in the dinning room, living room, and kitchen, building and installing cabinets to match the ones there in the kitchen, finishing up the down stairs bathroom with whatever they decide they want in there, installing some shelves in the back of the oversized linen closet upstairs, installing a new front door and back door, and painting every room except the bathrooms as they had already been painted. Also, once the summer came, the exterior of the house would need to be pained as well.

As for when Puck is supposed to find the time to do this, Hank adds, "We have a big renovation project we're starting this week that all the guys are going to be working on, but I can let Puck off three days during the week to work on this house. I expect he'd be able to start soon- I'm pretty sure your offer will be accepted, in my experience at least. If he could do everything here on his own- though I'll check in sometimes and I do want you to ask if you need help with anything so I can walk you through it- I'd feel comfortable enough in some of his skills to let him do some jobs alone and earn a full wage for those jobs, even though you won't have your license until this time next year probably."

That really catches Puck's attention. He's starting to really hope his mom gets this house and he's grateful she picked now to get one because he could really use the opportunity to earn more money and he probably wouldn't be getting it if it wasn't for this job (though he realizes that for a while he'll be earning less because he'll be working on this house instead of on any jobs for Hank, but it should work out in his favor financially in the end).

Hank offers to May, "I already have some left over materials that should come in handy that I can give you. I'm pretty sure I have some wood that will work for the crown molding and to re-do that strange molding they did to make the window out front match the door. I can help you find a good deal on carpet and on the appliances. Make sure you check craigslist before going out and buying things brand new to save yourself some money- a lot of contractors, myself included, will sell spare stuff from past jobs on there so you can find a lot of good stuff usually."

"Great. Thank you so much for your help," May says, probably for the tenth time today.

"There's one more thing I'd like to discuss with you- your basement," Hank begins.

"There's a basement?" Puck asks. He had completely missed that.

"The door's behind the stairs…next to the down stairs bathroom," Hank tells him. "When you walk through a house like we were doing here, never leave a door unopened even if you think it's just a closet," he advises. Hank motions for both of them to follow him and leads them down into the basement.

"How big is this house anyway?" Puck asks his mother on the way down.

"Just over 2,600 square feet- which for some reason includes that dinky disconnected garage, but not the basement or the attic," May answers.

Puck knew it was way bigger than the apartment, but then again everything felt bigger than the apartment. But, whoa, it was kind of huge (for him at least- he's pretty sure Quinn's parent's house is twice this one's size). Wait though... "There's an attic?"

"Yep," Hank answers, "it's so tiny though, it's not even going to be much of a storage space for you and it's not going to be an easy one to get to because it's only accessible through a door in the closet of the master bedroom." Getting back to the purpose he had leading them down here, Hank gestures to the walls and tells them, "This is an unfinished basement. You see that on a lot of houses around here and a lot of people like to have someone come in, finish them off, so they can turn it into an extra bedroom or an entertainment room or office or what have you. We get a lot of work from doing basements and last year I had two of my guys take on a basement job and though I had never had them do one before, they both claimed they had and could handle it no problem. I ended up having to spend a week doing nothing but fixing their many, many mistakes. One of those guys moved and no longer works for me, but the other one and Puck need experience in finishing a basement. So, if it's okay with you, even though it's not a necessity, I'd like to finish off your basement. We could even enclose the laundry area to be separate from the rest of the room if you'd like. All of the materials would be on me, of course, since it'd be helping me out and training sometimes results in using more materials than usual when something has to get redone. We wouldn't do anything too extravagant- just insulation, drywall, installing some better lighting, and installing a floor over the concrete. So…would that be okay with you if we did that?"

"Yeah, absolutely," May accepts. She's not about to turn down someone offering to fix up part of her potential house for free.

"Great. We'd probably get to it right after we finish this big remodel we're about to start so we could do it…we could probably start in about a month," Hank offers.

"That's wonderful. If we get the house, I was hoping we'd be able to move in within a month- two at the absolute most. I don't want to have to pay rent and a mortgage for longer than that," May tells him.

"Well, provided that we can find all the rest of the materials you'll need at reasonable prices, and if you can find a couple of people to help you do the easy stuff like paint, I think Puck should be able to finish all the rest of the work in a month," Hank estimates.

Puck isn't so sure about that. Hank's list of stuff for him to do seemed kind of long. Especially for just one person to complete three days a week after school. He's probably going to be working some nights, he realizes (which will probably mean seeing less of Quinn…although on the bright side it will probably get him out of that double date Rachel wanted them to go on).

Hank makes a list of places for May to go to look for appliances and tells her that he'll send Puck home with a typed up list of everything that needs to be fixed, by room, with the priority labeled for each one and a cost estimate for materials only. He wishes her luck in getting the house and gives Puck a moment alone with his mother by heading out to the truck to wait for him.

"So what do you think of the place?" May asks eagerly.

"It could be really good," he admits. The house isn't currently in great shape, but what work it will take will help him out with his job so it's not so bad. "And it might mean a lot of money going out in like the same month, but in the long run it should take less of your paycheck each month so you should have more money free each month, right? And that'd be a good thing?"

"Basically that's how it should work. But if I can ever afford to pay more than the monthly payment I will be so that I don't have to take thirty years to pay it off," May tells him. She waits a beat, and then another. Apparently her son is not going to mention what she was hoping he'd mention. So, she comments not so innocently, "You know, I was thinking that the Master bedroom would be my room-obviously- the room across the landing from it would be perfect for Kelyn, the room next to mine would be perfect for you, and the bedroom across from that room could be really great for Quinn…and a baby."

"She's literally at an adoption agency right now Ma'," Puck says with a groan.

"I know, but it's not like she's signing any papers. There's still plenty of time to make decisions and she should know that this is one of her choices," May points out.

"I'm not going to tell her about the house or the room yet," Puck repeats for what feels like to him the hundredth time.

"You can't keep avoiding telling her forever," May warns.

"Forever?" He questions, his mom could be so overdramatic sometimes, "It's barely been over a week since you told me about this house and it's not even yours yet. At the very least I'm not telling her about it until the house is yours and the room you want her to have doesn't have moldy carpet and peeling paint," Puck rationalizes. (Though, honestly, he's incredibly nervous about the idea of telling her about it. What if she completely hates the idea and then starts hating him for brining it up?)

May gives her son a stern look. She knows he's bullshitting her more than a little at the moment. Telling Quinn is not something he's looking forward to doing and he's going to avoid it. She raises an eyebrow slowly.

Under his mom's scrutiny, Puck revises, "I'll work on the room you want to be hers first though." As nervous as he is about telling Quinn, he knows his mom is not going to get away with not telling her for too long and if he doesn't manage to convince his mom that he is going to tell her, she'll tell her herself and he really, really doesn't want Quinn to find out about it from his mom (it may make it look like he doesn't really want her here if his mom is the one to tell her).

"Fine," May accepts, "but if she doesn't know by the end of February, I'm telling her myself. That should give you plenty of time to get the room fixed up and most of the rest of the house if not all of it and be completely out of excuses."

"Fine. Hank's waiting so I should get back to work. I'll see you later," Puck says calmly, like the deadline of slightly less than six weeks doesn't completely freak him out. As soon as he's out of the kitchen though, he picks up his pace considerably so his mom can't catch up with him and therefore catch on to the fact that she knows him as well as she thinks she does and her tactic to motivate him was going to work. (Just not soon. Probably not for at least five weeks. He can't see himself going through with this until he's right up against the deadline.)

-o-o-o-

Quinn picks Mercedes and Kurt up bright and early and they hit the road for Columbus.

Though they hadn't really talked about what Quinn would be leaving them to do for majority of the morning/early afternoon, it quickly became clear that Kurt and Mercedes were very aware of it and the weight of the situation. (Either that or the fact that she's ridiculously nervous didn't escape them.) They insist on upbeat music being played and they make a clear effort to keep the conversation flowing (and decidedly away from everything baby/adoption related).

The three glee clubbers also find themselves making an effort to stay upbeat when they talk about Regional's next week, but it's difficult. All of them find themselves avoiding saying that the Journey theme is seeming like an increasingly poor choice. It's a nice idea, sentimental and seems fitting, but they're not a winning combination of songs. That much has become very clear.

They find themselves arriving in Columbus sooner that Quinn expected (though right on time according to her navigation system's prediction). She drops Kurt and Mercedes off at the mall calling after Kurt one last time not to buy her any maternity clothes (he's been going on and on about wanting to find her something that screams "hot mama"). She drives to her first appointment and gets there with barely a minute to spare. But the near-tardiness only serves to distract her as she rushes into the office building, scans the listing for the correct floor and office, and gets on the elevator. By the time it's opening its doors at the right floor, she's practically shaking with anxiety again.

The woman she meets with at this first place of the day has a warm smile and it helps Quinn find her voice when the woman introduces herself. This, actually being able to say something even if it's just "you too" in response to the woman's "it's nice to meet you," helps calm Quinn considerably.

The woman launches into a similar speech to the one she heard at the first place she went in Lima yesterday. However, once the woman is done, she asks Quinn a few questions. The first is, "How far along are you?"

"Twenty-one weeks today," Quinn answers, unsure of where the woman was going with this.

"Really? You don't look it at all," she compliments with a genuine smile. Before Quinn can say thank you, she continues, "And it gives you plenty of time. You can start the process of looking through our parents and trying to decide on some as soon as you'd like, but if you need time to make a decision, you can wait a while. Our agency can work quickly on the legal end of things and we have plenty of parents that wouldn't mind getting as little as a month's notice about getting a baby so if you need time, know that with our agency you definitely have it."

"That's good," Quinn thinks. Explaining, she adds, "I'm not really sure yet…what I'm going to do. I know adoption is probably the smartest decision, but…"

The woman nods understandingly. She seems to have a lot of experience in these situations and asks, "Do you have anyone that would help you if you kept your baby?"

"Her father and his family. But they're not in the best financial situation. I have some really supportive friends that I could count on for help with things like babysitting if I ever needed it probably. But my parents aren't…they kicked me out and I had to blackmail them to live there for the duration of my pregnancy and then I'll be out again so they're not an option. And I have some money from selling my car, but I don't have a job or much work experience to help me get one so, financially, I don't know if I'd be able to take care of her," Quinn answers, the things that have constantly been on her mind spilling out.

"Well," the woman drawls, "honestly, there are plenty of teens that ended up pregnant and kept their baby and made it work. I've heard of worse situations than yours that single teenaged mothers have been in and they've ultimately been fine. It wouldn't be easy, and it would be largely dependent on being able to make your resources work for you- which it already sounds like you've been good at that- but it's not impossible for you to keep your baby. What you need to decide is what you want for your life. I know your instinct is to think about her future, but either way she's going to be loved. And maybe she'll have a more comfortable life depending on what parents you pick, but you'd make sure she's taken care of too, no matter how hard it is. So either way, she's going to be loved and taken care of. So, think about what you want and if it's adoption we can help you find a really great family to give your daughter."

Quinn's never had it put that way before. To think that this woman is recommending not letting her daughter's future be a factor in deciding what to do seems illogical.

(But in the back of her mind she worries that this woman has a point. There's no way she'd let her daughter go hungry or not have the things she'd need, no matter what she had to do to get them. So maybe the reason she's been so undecided is because she's not sure if she could be someone's mother now or if she wants to try and be a teenager again.

Isn't that horrible of her? Maybe not, but it makes her feel awful all the same. It feels selfish to think of the decision in terms of herself and she fears that she might have to consider it at some point.)

The woman gives her her card and tells her to call with any questions or concerns and Quinn leaves trying to forget the appointment entirely.

The second agency helps her forget the first. It's obvious from the first few minutes that it's not the right place, so Quinn decides to have some fun.

Apparently, when the lady she's meeting with quickly noticed the cross around Quinn's neck, she decided on a strategy.

After the fifth time the woman says "God would want you to find a nice Christian family for your child," Quinn considers that perhaps she could use this situation to enjoy herself. Then the woman adds on, "And after you do that for your baby, God would want you to live a pure, abstinent life until you're married so that you don't have to go through this again."

It's probably not very nice of her to screw with this woman, but she gave Quinn such a good opportunity that she can't resist. She gives the woman an odd look accompanied by a smile as she tells her, "But…I've always been abstinent."

Naturally, the woman is confused. She splutters, "B-but-"

"My baby was a gift from God," Quinn cuts in, smiling but serious as she implores the woman, "the conception was immaculate. And don't misunderstand, I'm very honored that God chose me to give birth to the second coming of Christ, but my parents made the point that God knows I'm cheer captain and that my schedule is quite full so he must have meant for me to only give birth to the child and let someone else raise him. So, obviously, I'm glad to hear you have Christian couples to choose from. I can't let the son of God be raised by atheists."

The woman is stunned. She's looking at Quinn like she's insane and Quinn just blinks innocently and smiles like she didn't say something bat-shit crazy.

It takes a few minutes, but the shocked woman finally finds her voice and says, "Well, it sounds like you know what you want in parents so would you like to get started looking at some?"

"What?" Quinn asks, looking away from the woman.

"I said-"

"No, not you," Quinn cuts the woman off sharply, turns her eyes up and pretends to listen to something that isn't there. She lets this linger on for a minute before standing up and grabbing her coat as she says, "I have to go."

"What?" the woman asks, perplexed by the sudden shift as much as she was by the silence.

Quinn gets to the door, turns to face the woman, and tells her, "God just spoke to me and said that you're not being honest. He told me that you decided on how to convince me to use your agency for the child when you saw the cross on my necklace and that you don't actually believe anything you've said to me. He said this is a despicable institution and you're going to hell for using lies to persuade vulnerable girls." She doesn't say any of this in the tone of innocent conviction she had been using. Instead she uses the authoritative, slightly bitchy, tone she used when she laid out harsh truths to fellow Cheerios or her other peers.

With one last withering glare to the woman, she strides confidently out the door. She worries that the woman might have been too stupid to understand that the "having the child of God" thing was just a lie and that she had actually just caught on to her horrible tactic, but either way she figures the woman's got to be having a worse day now (told off by a sixteen year old in all) so her mission is accomplished.

The third agency is a lot like the first of the day. Except without the directive to think of what she wants for her future rather than what she wants for the baby's future. Plus the last agency tells her that they have many single parents and gay couples on their waiting list if she's wants to or is willing to consider choosing something less traditional for her daughter.

It's only been a little over two hours since she dropped Kurt and Mercedes off at the mall, but as Quinn heads back there to meet up with them she feels like it's been forever since that happened. The last two hours were as draining as an entire day. (Especially emotionally. And the day wasn't even close to being over yet.)

-o-o-o-

When she meets up with them, Kurt and Mercedes insist that Quinn pick where they're going to go for their slightly late lunch. She picks Cosi, because it's Parisian and Kurt had commented on it on the drive today (he likes places that allow him to pretend he's in Paris…or anywhere besides Ohio really). She doesn't give it much thought, the fact that they made her pick, not until they're sitting down at the café at least and the first thing they say to her after they've show her their purchases so far is, "How'd the appointments go?"

Kurt asks this question with more seriousness than is usually present in his tone and at the question Mercedes seems particularly attentive as well.

"Fine," Quinn tells them. "The second place was morally suspect so I didn't spend too long there. But the other two were good," she tells them with her voice even and her words sure (she's always been good at lying- something she's definitely grateful for in this moment). Trying to change the topic, she adds with a devious smirk to Kurt, "You know, I should give you the name of the last agency I went to for when you're older. They have lots of gay couples on their list."

"God, can you imagine me with a baby?" Kurt asks. "Kids," he comments with a shudder and distaste in his voice. "And even if I changed my mind about kids, I wouldn't ever do it alone and the chance of me ever being in a couple seem slim given that I haven't even gone on my first gay date," Kurt continues with a hint of frustration.

"Speaking of your love life, Finn said that him and his mom might be moving in with you and your dad in the not too distant future. Are you worried about that? I mean, it must be awkward to live with your crush," Quinn asks, still steering the conversation firmly away from her.

"Can't be any more awkward than having a baby with your crush," Kurt sasses.

Mercedes laughs heartily while Quinn's mouth hangs open in shock. For a second she can't believe he went there, but then she remembers it's Kurt, who never holds back and has fun calling people out, so really she should have known she was walking right into that one. She begins, "That is not-"

"Your situation," Kurt finishes, "I know, we all know." He mutters, "And we all know 'crush' isn't the right word too."

(Quinn hears him, but ignores it.)

"But to answer your question, Finn is now my former crush," Kurt emphasizes, "but it will be weird to live with him and with Carol. It's been just my dad and me for a long time now, half my life. Before that, that was the house we shared with my mom and now we're going to have two more people living there. So…it's definitely going to be an adjustment."

"It'll be a good thing though," Kurt continues, "my dad is happy with Carol so having her around more should be good for him. And maybe Finn could help me with my single-ness. Puck gave me a list of the guys at school he thinks are gay, but I don't know who half of them are but Finn probably does."

"Puck made you a list of gay guys at school?" Quinn questions flummoxed. That's certainly wasn't something she was expecting to hear.

"Yeah, he did it a while ago, that way maybe I can try to avoid crushing on straight guys in the future," Kurt answers. "He claims they're all just closeted and some of the ones I recognized were a definite surprise."

Mercedes, who had also been surprised to hear that not only Kurt had a list but also that it was made by Puck, asks engrossed, "Like who?"

"Not Sean, just in case you're worried history is repeating itself. He really does have eyes for you," Kurt qualms because even if she didn't say it or wasn't even thinking it yet, he knew his best friend well. He moves on quickly, "I suppose I probably shouldn't out the other names on the list. Even if they may not be correct." He looks to Quinn and Mercedes and they both nod in agreement that that would be the right thing to do. However, "But if you were to guess someone on the list…I suppose I could confirm if someone's on it. You know, that way we could discuss what the chances are that they belong there and possibly whether or not said guy would make a good match for me. After all, prom is only four months away and I will need a date."

Both girls smirk and spend the next hour guessing names on the list and discussing them.

Kurt insists that they shop for a couple of more hours before even considering leaving Columbus. Quinn is tired, as she always seems to be lately, but today left a lot of things on her mind she doesn't want to think about and Kurt constantly pestering her to "fierce up" her wardrobe is an effective distraction so she easily agrees to extending their trip.

They end up shopping until the evening and decide to get dinner before finally heading home just after eight thirty.

(Quinn knows as she drives them back that she's not looking forward to the two-hour ride ending and dropping the two of them off at their respective homes. When she does, she'll be left with nothing but her thoughts, which are even more troubling than usual at the moment.)

-o-o-o-

Quinn drops Mercedes off last and makes it all the way to her street before the tears start spilling. She pulls over when they do, even though she's only a block away from being home.

She's been to the place that will help her give her daughter up forever. If she gives her daughter up for adoption. Maybe that woman was right, maybe she needs to be thinking about this differently. But the idea of thinking of it in terms of her future is scary.

(What if she realizes that she doesn't want a baby in her life for several more years? Doesn't that make her into her parents? Abandoning her child for selfish reasons?

Or, what if she realizes that she doesn't want to let her daughter go? What if she realizes she wants to be a mom now? She knows that path isn't the smartest or safest for either one of them.

And then there's the one thing she does know, the thing that the scare last week made very painfully clear: losing her daughter is going to absolutely crush her. If she doesn't get to see her for the rest of her life, it's going to shatter Quinn's heart. But is not wanting to live with a broken heart a good enough reason to keep the baby?)

The smart decision and the right decision aren't even distinguishable to Quinn anymore. Everything has blended together into choices that are just possibly bad. She's been lost, especially on this point, for months and today should have helped her get closer to a decision, but she feels more confused and lost and further from feeling good about a decision than ever.

Going home won't make her feel any better, she knows, so Quinn pulls herself together so she's not driving with tears clouding her vision and heads for the one person she knows will make her feel better.

-o-o-o-

Puck has been waiting for a call from Quinn all day. He's gotten a few texts from her since the morning one. Things like "heading in for the first appointment," "done with the appointments," and "staying to shop for a while." So he spent half the evening telling himself that he just hadn't heard from her because when it concerned shopping a girl saying "a while" meant several hours. But as the night grew on he got nervous that she had gotten back and hadn't called because of something that happened today, something with the appointments or the baby or him- even if they hadn't talked.

So when his phone finally rang just after eleven and "Quinn" was flashing across the screen, Puck let out a huge sigh of relief before answering eagerly, "Hey."

"Hi. Were you asleep?" she asks, her voice soft.

"No. And even if I was, it's never a bad time for you to call, remember?" he reminds her. Although, honestly, he's glad that she was apparently just joking about calling him between two and four in the morning. He doesn't have to be at work until ten tomorrow, which is later than the last few Saturdays, but he's still glad that his sleep won't be getting interrupted.

"How about your mom and your sister? Are they asleep?"

Kind of an odd question, Puck thinks. "Yeah. Kel's been in bed for over an hour and my mom has been for about fifteen minutes," he answers wondering where this conversation was going.

"That's what I figured, which is why I didn't knock," she responds.

"You're here?" he deduces.

"Yeah," she responds softly and it's then that he realizes why her voice sound different. Besides her voice being quiet, she sounds upset- or, more accurately, like she's struggling not to be.

He heads for the door immediately, hanging up his phone in the process, turning the locks quietly and opening it the same. He takes in her red-rimmed eyes and the tears that seem to be forming as they stare back at him and asks, "What's wrong? What happened?"

Quinn gives in then, to everything she's feeling, to all of the pain the day and the last twenty-one weeks had brought. In the blink of an eye she's hugging him. Clinging to him as she cries deep, hushed sobs.

He wraps his arms around her and holds her tight. He guides her away from the door so he can shut it and then continues guiding her into the living room to the couch. He sits her down, with him right next to her so she can still cry on him. He rubs his hand across her back soothingly, places the occasional kiss in her hair, and whispers her promises that everything will be all right.

It takes a while, but once her sobs stop and her tears slow, Puck asks Quinn, "What happened today?" By the way she's been crying he's honestly kind of terrified of what she may say.

"I don't know," Quinn admits, voice hoarse and watery. "I just…I thought it would be different. I thought that at one of the places I'd feel something, like it was right, and I'd know it was the right place to go with and therefore the right decision to make." She says all of this still leaning heavily on his chest, his back slouched against the back of the couch. If she had moved so she could meet his eyes, she might not talk as freely. She continues confessing, "Nothing like that happened though. And then the woman at the first place said that I should stop trying to decide based on the baby's future because either way she's going to be cared for and loved. Instead, I should think about what I want. Do I want to be a mom now? Do I think I could be? Or do I want to go back to being a regular high school student and try to work my way through college?"

Oookay. Puck isn't quite sure what the right thing to say would be here. A gut feeling about the agency is something he can kind of understand, but currently his gut is telling him that fact that that was missing for her wasn't the most important thing she said. What was though, he's not sure. He takes a chance and offers, "Well, if it helps, I think you could be a great mom now. If you wanted to be."

"Thanks," she says with a small smile. But reality quickly comes back to her and she says, "That's the problem though- what I want. I don't know what I want." She asks with a little bit of hope in her voice, "Do you know what you want? Could you see yourself as a dad now or not?"

That was certainly a heavy question. As much as he wanted to lie so he could maybe get to the relationship with Quinn he wanted, he couldn't do that to her. So he tells her honestly, "I don't really know either. Could I see myself taking care of a kid and juggling senior year next year? Sure. But it wouldn't be just next year it'd be forever if we kept her. That's a long commitment. And honestly, committing to anything for forever is…scary." He thinks about it for a few beats of silence and adds on, "I don't know if the woman who told you to think of it in terms of our futures is right though. What we choose impacts the baby most of all. Maybe she'll be cared for and loved either way, but there are a lot of other things that are different depending on what we choose. Right?"

"Welcome to my day," Quinn responds to his confusion with a humorless chuckle.

"I think I'm starting to get a headache," Puck comments.

"Yep," Quinn agrees. She's had one off an on for hours now. "No matter which way I think of any of it, none of the reasons behind any choice seem right or good anymore. I just keep getting more and more lost," Quinn says solemnly, summing up her conclusions of the day.

(She was leaving something out here. She didn't want to lead Puck on to thinking that she was leaning either way on a decision because technically she wasn't. But if the Friday before last had taught her anything it was that losing her daughter would break her. But not wanting to end up with a permanently broken heart isn't a good enough reason to decide to keep her, right?

This was the point that she always got stuck. No reason seemed like a good enough one to keep her and while many reasons seemed good enough to give her up, they didn't feel right.)

With the hand on the arm he's got wrapped around her, Puck strokes Quinn's arm as he promises, "We'll figure it out." He mostly believes himself, but guessing that Quinn's probably even less sure he offers semi-joking, "And if a while passes and we still haven't figured out what's right, we'll ask my mom. You know she has an opinion for everything."

Quinn laughs a little, which was the response Puck was going for.

They sit for a minute in silence. Quinn's head still resting on Puck's chest, his arm secure around her.

"You should get some sleep," Puck says eventually after he notices her yawn. It had been a long day and he knew she had been feeling more tired in the last month or so.

"Yeah, I need to get home," Quinn agrees…without opening her eyes. Her legs had been partially up on the couch, but she slides them up fully on to the couch so she's really lying down now.

"Like I'd let you drive home now," Puck mutters quietly because he's pretty sure she's well on her way to falling asleep and he doesn't want to startle her awake by speaking in a normal tone. There was no way he'd let her drive home alone given how upset she had been tonight and given how tired she had to be (and apparently was given how quickly she seemed to be drifting off).

Quinn knew she should probably go home. Snuggling up to Puck didn't exactly stick to her platonic rule (although neither did the frequently shared lingering hugs). But the last two days had left her feeling completely defeated about the future so she figured screw it, being here with him like this made her feel better and she really needs that right now.

Puck slouches down a little more on the couch once he's sure she's fallen asleep so his getting comfortable doesn't disturb her. He wraps his arm a little further around her so that his fingertips are just barely reaching her stomach. He falls asleep within minutes.

(Here's something you should know: She'll wake up tomorrow in front of May still on Puck. She'll be slightly embarrassed, but she won't rush out. She's already missed church so there's nowhere for her to rush to. So instead she eats with May and Kelyn while Puck hurries to get ready for work. When he leaves for work she joins him walking out to her car too. They don't talk about her spending the night- or how neither one of them are opposed to it happening again even if the couch was wildly uncomfortable.

Later, after she's showered and changed her clothes and made a requisite phone call to her sister, she finds herself at Target picking up some necessities. But this time is different than every other trip because she lets herself wander to the baby section, unable to stop her feet from heading that direction after the week and a half she's had. She looks at all of the things a baby needs to have and does a lot of math in her head. The total she comes up with seems like a pretty high percent of her total savings and it doesn't provide her with the slightest bit of hope.

She fills out another application before she leaves though, unable to give up yet.)


A/N: Thank you so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed the chapter.

The next chapter title is…something I can't reveal. If I were to tell all of you what it is, you'd know something that's going to happen in the next chapter that will be more enjoyable if it's more a surprise. I can tell you, however, that the chapter will start at Regional's and it will cover a time span of a few weeks.

As usual I'm hoping that the next chapter doesn't take nearly as long as this one did. Despite all of my recent interviews going very well, I still didn't get a job so I'm stuck subbing again and I have yet to get any work subbing so my schedule is actually pretty free for the moment and I'm hoping that that will equal tons of time to write. And hopefully I didn't just jinx myself by saying that.

Thank you again for reading and PLEASE REVIEW!