A/N: Hi everyone! I know, I should be working on "Cheated Hearts." I promise that though I've been very busy with school, I have been making slow progresses with it.
I had to take time to write this though as it is a birthday present for the wonderful Kath. Please wish her a happy 17th birthday if you choose to review.
Kath, I hope you're having a absolutely fantastic birthday. May your year be your best one yet, full of only good things:D
Also, I chose to write this on all of the things covered between Puck and Quinn in these back nine episodes because I haven't liked how they've been handled. I think their story has been, possibly, handled as inconsistently as it could possibly be. It's been frustrating and very hard to rectify in a story, but I tried.
Finally, there's a song mentioned toward the end, I highly recommend giving it a listen, which you can do through a link on my profile.
I hope you enjoy the story.
Summary: When they're alone, they're different people than the roles they play at school. A Quick one-shot- looking at- and trying to explain- their relationship from "Hell-o" through "Theatricality."
Disclaimer: I own nothing (literally).
To Be Alone With You
Sometimes, Quinn wishes that life didn't exist outside the walls of Puck's bedroom (her current bedroom). Lately, it's seemed like most of the good moments are confined to those four walls (and a few of the more unfortunate).
It started at the end of their first day back to school after sectionals, after the whole truth came out at school on Friday.
It's about to be her fourth night living with Puck's family and sleeping in his bedroom as his mother insisted she take it (he's in the living room on the pull out couch). They haven't really talked much since she got here. He seemed to be respecting her wishes that she wanted to do this alone-even though she had to accept his help in the form of a place to live. But today, he came knocking on his own door.
"Hey," he says as he pokes his head in after her "come in." He seems cautious, like he's not sure her "come in" was a real invitation.
"Hi," she returns, closing her textbook to give him a sign that it was okay to linger with her here.
He comes in, shuts the door behind him and plops on his bed in front of her as he asks, "You notice anything weird about school today?"
She thought this would come up. Really, how could it not? "That everyone seemed to think we're a couple now?" she responds knowingly.
"Yeah, where'd they get that from?" he asks. He gets the obvious reasons. He got her pregnant. Dur. But he had a reputation and wasn't known for actually "dating" so how this idea got started has him confused.
Skipping over the obvious answers she believes he already knows (prays he knows, she'd hate to be passing on especially unintelligent genes), she answers, "Maybe because we came to school together and left school together and since I didn't get my clothes until last night, no time to wash them, I had to use a sweatshirt of yours today."
"Oh," he says realizing, "right." Now that all makes a little more sense. But it wasn't the only reason he was here. He'd thought this assumption people made through and he's not an idiot so he's come to some pretty good conclusions. He's kind of uncomfortable here, but he figures if he pitches this fast it won't be so bad. He offers, "Look, I know things probably aren't great for you at school and if me being your boyfriend, people thinking we're together, makes it any easier I'd be down with that." He sees her mouth opening to protest (she was doing this alone), so he rushes on, "I know you want to do this alone, but if it makes it easier, I could pretend to be with you."
She bites the corner of her lip. Today had been easier than she expected and she had been suspecting that it was because people assumed she had something real going on with the guy she cheated on her boyfriend with and was the real father of her baby. (Sometimes she thinks that they're right in that assumption, but her life feels far too confusing to add that pressure to it right now.) So it's a tempting offer (even if she knows this will probably end badly). She checks, "Wouldn't that get in the way your usual dating practices?"
"Eh," he shrugs, "I could do with a little less of that. Plus, no one would expect me to be faithful anyway so there's always that."
"Right," she agrees, and hopes her eyes don't betray her disappointment.
"I guess it would be good then. It may make things a little more bearable," Quinn agrees.
They don't really make a plan, but agree that they'll make an effort to show that everyone's assumptions that day were right, that they were a couple.
This leads to a staged fight, which feels annoying real when he brings up her eating habits of late. (Though when she reminds him that she's eating that way because she's pregnant, he says that's not his problem, and she eventually grits out that of course it is, it's his baby, he just smiles in response and she ends up not minding his quip about her getting fat.)
For the first two weeks or so, Quinn actually enjoys pretending to be a couple with Puck. There's some light flirting in glee club, she always has someone to sit next to during practice, and surprisingly she likes catching him flirting with other girls and pulling him away. It's like getting license to be bitchy in those moments and it's a good outlet for her constant frustration over her situation.
When the topic of pressure comes up thanks to Rachel Berry, Quinn finds another good thing she had overlooked lately (always). For all of the times that he could be suggestive or even smarmy, Puck never pressured her, not even the night that led to her getting pregnant. But more than not pressuring her about sex, now that he was pretending to be her boyfriend he was doing it quite well and not pressuring her about her decision to do things alone concerning their baby. There was no pressure to be a family or to be with him for real. He was still respecting her wishes. And thinking of that she starts to wonder if maybe she should change her wishes, see if they could stop pretending.
Of course this is right about the time Puck starts to ruin it. She gets that he wouldn't want to admit to having played a Madonna song for her. She used to be popular and understands protecting one's reputation, but the way just bits of it seemed to be directed at her, the stubborn way he looked at her, hurt. Maybe she was wrong to think that he had been starting to mature.
By the end of the week she's resigned to the idea that she had been wrong to think about making them real. She knows that the guys in glee were seeking out the girls they owed something to and apologizing. She also knows that he's not going to be saying anything of the sort to her (he doesn't). And really, why should he? He was thinking of himself and it hurt her, but he doesn't have any reason to think of her feelings, they're not actually together. So laying in what used to be his bed that night, she resigns that this will just be pretend.
Next week, Puck saunters into his room. She's stretched out on his bed, trying to get ahead in the book she's reading in her English class.
"You have competition," he declares, inviting himself onto his old bed and stretching out beside her. "You know that…Aretha like girl from glee?"
"You mean Mercedes?" she asks with a roll of her eyes. It was ridiculous that he couldn't remember some of their names at this point.
"Sure," he agrees, having no idea if that was right, and proceeds, "She was looking at me today like she was homeless and I was food. Seriously, I think she wants me. She was totally giving me the 'I'm hot for you eyes."
She laughs, to his confusion. When he looks at her questioningly she decides not to explain all of the hilarity she found in his cockiness, instead she offers what she knows. "That's probably not it," she informs him, "she's a Cheerio now, so probably starving, and she was likely picturing you as actual food. Especially if it was towards the end of the day."
He looks offended for a second before something dawns on him as he realizes, "It was right after school actually."
"Ah, then she was probably just hungry. Sorry," she says, trying to let his ego down a little gently.
Silence looms for a minute. She continues reading her book, shifting against the pillows she's piled against the headboard because her back always seems to hurt lately. He just lays there, staring at the ceiling, thinking.
Eventually, he realizes the words she said and the implication in them. He asks, "So it's like standard for cheerleaders to be starving?"
She never really talked about it, so she hesitates, looking down at him over the top of her book. But she doesn't feel like lying or glossing over things anymore so she answers, "Yeah. Coach Sylvester has a way of making you feel fat even when you've barely eaten anything for days- other than her 'special shake." She glances down, at the ever increasing bump beneath her shirt, and adds quietly as she runs a hand over it, "Thank God I don't have to do that anymore."
"You never had to," he adds, "It's wrong that you felt like that." Seems like simple logic to him. All of the cheerleaders were hot, he didn't get how they wouldn't see that and say 'screw you' to Coach Sylvester when she wanted them to lose weight. Especially since all the Cheerios were way hotter than that woman could have possibly ever been.
"It's wrong that anyone ever feels like that," she returns. She's thought about this a lot, especially since she's been pregnant. It wasn't right not starve yourself into not being health. It wasn't right that someone could make you feel that bad about yourself.
"Maybe you should tell Aretha that so she stops looking like she wants to eat me," Puck suggests, half serious. He means the talking to her part, but honestly he liked the look of wanting (even if it was to be eaten) and wished more girls would look at him like that. It'd be awesome.
"Her name's Mercedes," she reminds. She considers the suggestion for a moment. It sounds like a good idea, but she's wary that she should do it. She's never said anything extremely mean to Mercedes, but she's never said anything nice either. She probably wouldn't even want to listen to her. But she remembers what it was like to have Coach Sylvester threaten her into feeling horrible if she ate. She remembers what it's like to start getting dizzy in the middle of the day from hunger and digging her nails into her legs in her later classes to stop herself from passing out in her seat. "That's a good idea though, I think I'll do that," she decides.
"And you can tell her to back off of your super hot fake boyfriend at the same time," Puck jokes.
She hits him with a pillow, but continues to enjoy his presence with her there that night all the same.
Quinn talks to Mercedes the next day and she's really glad she did. For the first time in longer than she can remember it feels like she may be starting to make a friend. Plus, it made her feel really good to make a difference, to be someone other than "the pregnant girl." She's grateful Puck made the suggestion, she's not sure she would have thought of or had the motivation to seek out Mercedes otherwise.
She goes to glee practice at the roller rink feeling lighter and happier than she's usually felt in these past few months (though this good feeling has crept up on her occasionally- funny how it always seemed to be thanks to glee or Puck).
"See you must have talked to…" he stops, considers, and actually seems to try. She raises an eyebrow at him from her place on the bench before him. His eyes light up as he remembers correctly, "Mercedes. She stopped looking at me like I was food."
"Yeah," she says with a smile, "we did talk." She glances away because he returned her smile and she can't…she can't let that get to her like she usually does (they were only supposed to be pretending). She slips off her shoes and grabs the skates Mr. Schue rented for her as she continues, "It felt really good to do. Thank you for the sug-"
"Whoa," he cuts her off, demanding, "What do you think you're doing?"
Confused, she answers, "Mr. Schue paid for everyone's skates so I'm going to join everyone skating out there."
"But you're front heavy," he reminds her bluntly.
She sighs, continues to put on the skates (quicker now), and responds, "You really know how to make a girl feel good about herself."
"Well you are," he returns. "What do you think is going to happen out there? You'll be all off balance and fall face first 'cause you're all tubbers out front, which doesn't seem like it could have a good effect on the baby."
Oh. So that was why he cared. She really should have been able to catch on to that, but this pregnancy messes with her brain (emotions and heart) sometimes. Well, in that case though, she supposes she can't be angry with him for implying she's fat (again). She finishes her laces and suggests, "Maybe you'll just have to stay close then, make sure I don't fall." She would say that he could hold her hand to make sure she doesn't fall, but they're only pretending and everyone's been buying it so there's no real reason to suggest that (even if she kind of wants to).
"I don't do skating. It's for girls and homos," he informs her.
"So skating with me, a girl, is something only a gay man would do?" she challenges. And yeah, she realizes that if they were talking about ice skating she wouldn't exactly be the one with a point.
Luckily, Puck doesn't realize that. He sighs/growls and caves saying, "Fine, I'll go get some skates. But if they start playing disco or something I'm outta here."
"Only if you take me with you," she returns and doesn't realize until he smirks at her before turning and heading to the counter that it sounded like she was flirting. But what the hell, it was fun and she needed a little more fun. That was how they ended up flirting as they skated.
(He turned out to be wrong about her balance being so off thanks to the baby that she'd fall, and she's kind of bummed that there wasn't an opportunity for him to catch her.)
They start spending less time pretending somehow. They see each other just as much, they're just as friendly with each other, but Quinn realizes that for some reason they don't seem to sit together as often or walk together in between classes as often or spend as much time together at lunch. Before, when all of those things had been happening, Puck's presence had been a distraction from a lot of things. She would have to march up to him and tug him away from another girl, not allowing her to notice how everyone in the halls completely ignored her now. She used to get whispers and looks and parting of crowds at her approach. Now she either got sneers or just plain ignored.
This realization of what her life at school is like now depresses Quinn quite a lot. She's lost so much, and it's not even one of the important things, but simply for being another loss it plagues and pains her. She can't get her parents' support or love back, she can't get her home back, she can't get her body back for a while or possibly ever, she can't get her old status back, but maybe she could get something sort of similar to it.
Eventually, in trying to figure out how to get some semblance of popularity and status back at school, she decides to make the Glist. She never wanted to be popular for being slutty and had prided herself on achieving popularity without becoming even slightly that way, thought lower of girls who were that way. But now it seems like her only route back to being someone who isn't ignored for the seven and a half hours of every school day.
When she makes the Glist, Quinn purposefully leaves off almost half of the glee club. Mercedes, Kurt, Tina, and Arty have all been good to her and they don't deserve to get hurt by this (she doesn't think of how omission may bother them). She puts herself at the top of the list (even if it's not even close to accurate since she's only had sex once). She puts Santana second because if she was making this accurately Santana would be at the top as she did pretty much anything with anyone. Technically Brittney should probably be next, but she knows how hurt Puck's ego would be if he's any further down the list. So she switches their spots (him third, her fourth) despite the fact that her willingness to be with both girls and boys gives her the clear win between them. She puts Jesse next because he seemed to proposition Rachel pretty quick so she just assumes he'd be somewhere around fifth. She puts Finn sixth because any lower seems cruel (for a guy with his status) and she's done enough to him already. Then she adds on Mike and Matt, not really paying attention to their order. They're nice guys so she doesn't want them to get a bad wrap for either way their place on it could be taken. She figures their place and scores are safe enough not to be taken badly in any way though.
Then, at minus five at the very bottom, is Rachel. She had thought about this one a lot. Despite occasional semi-friendliness between them (Rachel gave her a line in their Madonna song and sometimes complimented her performance), she still didn't like Rachel. But, unfortunately, she found she could sympathize with her. If Rachel had never started that conversation about pressure she would have probably left Rachel off the list entirely so she could take it as a sign that she wasn't important enough in the school or club to be put on it. Yet that conversation did exist and now she knew some things about Rachel that made her consider her place on the list. It was pretty clear that in transferring schools to be with Rachel, Jesse had eliminated one of Rachel's reasons for not sleeping with him. Now, Quinn imagined, Rachel had probably been under much more pressure. And while she'd never actually tell Rachel that she had every right to refuse her boyfriend sex until she was certain she was ready (as Quinn herself had done with a number of boyfriends on countless occasions), she saw this as an opportunity to help Rachel out. She figured that sure, Rachel would probably be offended by the low score (which was a bonus), but the accuracy of it could serve as a clear sign to Jesse that he better be prepared to wait for Rachel to be ready because all of the sex stuff was completely new to her. She doesn't like that she's making an effort to help Rachel in this small way, but she consoles herself by reminding herself that she's still the celibacy club president at heart and ultimately she's just preventing sex (she doesn't think about all of the irony that can be found in that).
Her plan to get something she lost back in her life is set in motion and Quinn doesn't realize all of the consequences this could have.
Quinn posts the Glist on Friday and there's discussion of it at glee club that same day. It's made quite a splash. (She's not looked at any differently throughout the day though and she considers that maybe it would be a complete failure.)
Saturday morning she wakes up to find that Puck is off somewhere. It's not that it's that unusual for him to be gone at noon on a Saturday, but it was unusual that she slept so long. She had been feeling too uncomfortable to sleep in this new place to sleep that well so far. She supposes exhaustion probably just got to her finally.
Surprisingly, Mrs. Puckerman (Mira) came knocking on Puck's door about an hour after she woke up saying that the phone was for her. She hasn't had a cell phone since getting kicked out of her parents house and in both places she's lived, she's never had a phone call (she hasn't had enough people in her life to have anyone calling her). She takes the phone from Puck's mom, shuts the door, and says curiously, "Hello?"
"Good, you're up," says the person on the line who she recognizes immediately as Puck.
"Yep," she responds. She doesn't understand what could be going on here though so she doesn't stall in asking, "Why are you calling though? Where are you at?"
"Rachel's house," he answers promptly and rushes on, "I'm in her bedroom actually- sent her to get me a pop. Anyway, she wants me to do this video thing for a bad song choice for glee club. She's been saying all this crap about how it will make me look better, but I'll tell you about that later. I actually wanted to ask if you'd be cool with me screwing with Rachel even if that may require me making out with her? I mean, I know we're supposed to be pretending to be together, but I also know you like screwing with Rachel so I thought I'd see if you were interested."
It takes Quinn a second to process what he's said and at the end of it she's still horribly confused. She understands what Puck is offering but she has no idea what Rachel could be up to. She has a feeling though that whatever she's trying to do, Rachel's plan is going to blow up in her face. But back to Puck, she can't really tell him not to make out with Rachel (even if she doesn't want him with other girls) because they're not actually together. So she answers, "It sounds like Rachel's going to screw up her life enough on her own, but if an opportunity to do more damage arises I suppose I couldn't blame you for going for it."
"Cool," he responds. He's going to hang up, but remembers, "Oh, and don't worry, I've already swiped the most expensive thing in her room and we'll sell it on e-bay later."
"Puck no," she's quick to tell him but the next thing she hears is his ring tone. She doesn't have a cell phone anymore and telling him not to steal from a teammate isn't something she can use his mother's cell for so unfortunately she'll have to wait for him to return to tell him to return whatever he's taken. As much as she doesn't like Rachel, she's not going to be a part of anything that steals from her.
In the hour before he gets back, Quinn has time to think about the fact that he called her. It was a little bit twisted since he was stealing and possibly going to make out with another girl, but he was trying to do something that he thought would make her happy.
When he did return, Puck seemed to come directly to her. He came through the open door to the bedroom and sat right beside her on the bed where she had her physics textbook and notes laid out (her damn physics teacher always seemed to give weekend homework). "So, I'm going to be in Rachel's video," he declares.
"Really?" she questions.
"Yep, she needed someone for the role of a badass and she picked me," he says proudly.
"Isn't it weird that she didn't pick her boyfriend?" Quinn questions, because it was one of the many things bugging her about whatever Rachel was doing.
"Yeah," he agrees, "but she said that this would help me too. Working with her would make it look like I can actually work with people- or something like that. Plus I never get solos so she said this would be a good demonstration that I could handle them. It doesn't really sound like enough to do that much work, but she had some points there."
So Rachel asked Puck to partner with her because it would help him? That didn't seem like Rachel to Quinn. Sure Rachel hadn't proved completely uncompassionate, but she was extremely self absorbed and obsessed with her personal goals. She had a feeling this wasn't going to turn out like Puck thought it would.
"I'm going to need this room back briefly though," he tells her, breaking her from her thoughts. He continues on explaining, "Rachel picked some really horrible song. I know we were supposed to pick a bad one but I think she may have out done herself there. Anyway, she has this whole video already planned out and she needs me in a bedroom for part of it- not with her. If that's not cool with you though- having her in here directing and possibly an AV kid or two, then I'll tell her she'll have to find somewhere else. It's cool."
"It's your room so it's fine with me," she responds because she knows that this is only temporary. And he's been so accommodating to her, she's not going to mess it up when she has this opportunity that could allow her to repay it in a small way by letting him do something that could lead to good things for him within glee club.
They settle into a silence so she continues with her homework while he tossing and catching a hacky sack he picked up from his dresser. Eventually he says, "This video is probably going to be terrible and Rachel's probably up to something stupid with it."
"Seems likely," she agrees, glancing over at him from her work.
"And you're not going to tell me not to do it?" he questions.
It's a heavy question. She doesn't have the right to tell him not to do it. If she were his actual girlfriend she could tell him he couldn't make a video with an ex. But they're not together and even though he seems to be trying to figure out if she'd like to be, she can't let him know if she'd want to be anything (she has enough problems, she doesn't need more worries or difficulties). So she answers, "Well don't you want to see what Rachel's up to? Whatever she's doing may not work out so spectacularly bad for her if you don't do whatever she wants."
He doesn't show any disappointment that she didn't answer his question, instead her just responds, "Yeah, I guess seeing her screw herself over would be pretty satisfying, especially after all of those really harsh critiques she's been giving lately."
From there starts a conversation mocking all of the critiques Rachel's given everyone lately (frequently including Brad and Mr. Schue- the girl had been on a tirade). Quinn doesn't make it back to her physics homework the rest of the day somehow. It's a really good Saturday.
The video manages to be more disastrous than they thought it could be.
Seriously, how did Rachel possibly come to the conclusion that this would be a good idea? Quinn supposes that she should have figured that putting Rachel at the bottom of the Glist would have some effect like this. Honestly, she hadn't cared if Rachel was hurt by the position, but she also didn't want Rachel to do anything because of it that would lead to her screwing up her own life as she had. Especially since in doing so Rachel hurt multiple people. It was only Puck's ego that got bruised and he was more angry and offended than hurt. But for Finn and Jesse, who actually liked Rachel, it was different. Quinn feels especially bad that something she started led to Finn getting hurt again. Sometimes it seems like she'll never be able to make up for all of the horrible things she's done to him, never make things right.
So not only has the Glist resulted in three good guys getting hurt, Rachel messing up her life, but also Quinn hasn't gotten any of the recognition she wanted. She supposes this was all a horrible idea and regrets that she made it. (Though she still feels invisible and wants that to change, wants so many things to change.)
Rumor has it that whoever created the Glist is going to get expelled and given the interrogations Mr. Schue has been holding, Quinn's inclined to believe the rumors are true. She defends herself quite well in her interrogation (she thinks), but the Glist never helped her problem and she still feels so insignificant every day throughout school.
When Mr. Schue claims to have it figured out, she tries to fight it still, but he seems to know and he seems to understand. Before she knows it, she's crying again and summing up everything that led to the Glist for him. He's a good teacher though and he makes her feel better and protects her from the punishment she deserves (well actually it seemed a little harsh, but she was guilty of creating the Glist).
(One thing Mr. Schue says hangs with her though. "You'll give that baby to a family," he said. And she knows she should, she's sixteen, she's a mess, so it seems impossible that she could be a good parent. But, she wonders if Mr. Schue would think that she could become something better than what she was if she kept the baby. Because sometimes at night when she's in what used to be Puck's bed and she thinks of their daughter, she thinks of the only sure love she has in her life, the love that has continued to grow for her daughter, and wonders if she'd be able to become even a fraction of her old self or someone better and new if she had to give up that one and only love.
When she feels her daughter move or kick, which has been just starting to happen lately, she starts to think that she probably won't be able to be anything after she gives her away. She can't imagine even being able to breath without her.)
She's comforted at practice when no one seems to know that she's been discovered as the Glist culprit. Mr. Schue wanted them to sing "Total Eclipse of the Heart." He wants to try and help out this…whatever Rachel caused so he's making all of the guys she used in the video participate.
Puck whispers in her ear, grumbling about how he doesn't want to do this song or anything really, they should have ditched. She smiles, but is interrupted from saying anything by the song beginning.
They're established as a couple here and they're already sitting close next to each other so there's no need to do anything else. But after he sings his one line, Puck grabs her hand, holds it. She knows she should let it go. They're not together and this isn't necessary for pretending to be. Instead though, she just looks at him and keeps holding his hand. She wonders if maybe this doesn't mean anything to him. But then he looks at her and the seriousness there in his eyes says that he knows things like this between them aren't insignificant, and neither is this. She doesn't let go, not even as they get up and leave the school. She keeps holding on to him.
When they get home from school that day, he follows her directly to her/his bedroom and shuts the door behind them.
"Well that wasn't weird and uncomfortable," he says sarcastically referring to the whole forced participation in "Total Eclipse of the Heart."
"Yeah," she agrees distractedly as she sits on the bed and attempts to pry her flats off. Her feet had been swelling lately so it was a relief to get her shoes off by the end of the school day (and quite difficult). With the task finished, she leans back against the headboard, relaxes. She runs a hand over her stomach and stays silent. She's the reason that song went like that, the reason for the tension, the pain, and she doesn't want to admit to him that she's the reason all that happened (the reason most people blamed him for it).
He sits down beside her and offers, "It's not your fault."
That's enough to break her from her guilt-ridden revive. Her eyes wide with surprise she questions, "You knew? How long?"
"Since I found it on Rachel's locker. Really, way to make it obvious tubbers," he teases.
He knew since last Friday, since right after she did it and he hadn't said anything. Well she supposes she never told him she was guilty of it either. Wait… "Is that why people have been saying they saw you put it up? Because you moved it?"
"Well duh," he responds ineloquently, "had to make it less obvious that you were behind it. You could have gotten in real trouble if Mr. Schue ever found out it was you."
"He did," she confesses, "but he was nice about it, he understood why I did it."
"Anyone could see why you did it," he says as if it's obvious, "you get treated like nothing in the halls now, by everyone all day long, and that's not the way it used to be for you or should be." Quieter he adds, "Sorry I haven't been around as much to walk with you lately."
"You walking with me doesn't change anything, it just distracts from it," she knows, but she does appreciate the apology and everything else he's said.
"Still," he persists simply.
Silence lingers between them for a minute. She makes another confession, "I feel so bad something I did hurt Finn again."
"Like I said, not your fault," he repeats. He glances at her, sees that she's worrying her lip, and breaks it down for her, "You had no way of knowing what Rachel would do and especially that she would involve Finn in it given that someone else is her boyfriend." He considers for a second and offers, "I feel worse for Jesse in this whole thing. Not that I like the guy, St. Homo's way creepy to me. But he hasn't been around, doesn't know what went down with me and Rachel, and probably thinks I'm like Finn, wanting her."
Well that certainly distracts her from her guilt. They've never talked about whatever he was with Rachel and she's always been curious as to how he could have possibly dated her. She probes, suggesting, "Maybe you should talk to him, set him straight."
"Dude's all show tunes happy, I don't think anyone will be setting him straight," Puck jokes. He laughs a little at his own quip and then continues seriously, "Yeah, but I guess after what Rachel did to him he could probably use something good, like me telling him I was never into his girlfriend in the first place, just dated her to make you jealous."
"You did?" Quinn's quick to question, looking at him hopefully.
He didn't actually mean to share that. He has a rep to protect though (and she wanted to "do this on her own" anyway), so he backtracks (quite poorly), offering an unconvincing, "No."
She doesn't press his response, she's pretty sure she knows the answer and turns away from him with a smile.
"How're you feeling?" he begins, changing the topic, "I mean, I know to create the Glist you must not have been feeling so good."
Honestly, school still pretty much sucked. But ever since the day after she put up the Glist she realized that there's one person in her life who she's never seemed to be invisible to: Puck. He called her to consult with her on his Rachel thing, he moved the Glist to get suspicion away from her, he held her hand, and he kept sitting and talking with her like now. She can't say that though. She's doing this alone (because she doesn't know if she could take it if it got more complicated) so instead she simply says, "I'm okay, I suppose. Technically things aren't better, but I think I got a bit of my belief back that they would be eventually."
"Good," he says with a nod. He looks away from her, eyes downcast to his lap as he ventures, "I know you're doing this alone, but do you know what you're doing? Do you know what you want yet?"
That's an answer she knows for sure. "Not at all," she admits. She wishes desperately for clarity, to know what she wants and what's right, but every time she thinks of everything she gets more confused and ends up not making any progress. As far as everyone else is concerned she's made her decision- she's giving up the baby. But she knows that Puck knows she cares about their daughter and that her heart definitely in the decision she says to everyone else (plus she told his mother that she was still confused- the woman had this sprung on her and had been pretty great about it, she deserved the truth). She tried to never tell him that she thought about what it could be like to keep her though. She didn't want to get his hopes up (or hers) if it really didn't seem like a possibility.
(Plus, if she kept their daughter, she thinks she can only do it if she has his help. But he's wavered so much in that area. Sure, lately, here, alone with her he's been great. Him being there hasn't been a constant though, and for a decision as big as this she really needs him to be.)
He stays there sitting beside her on the bed for a while, barely a word more spoken between them. But this, staying a while even when they didn't have reason to, was starting to become habit.
About a week later his Mohawk gets shaved.
(Honestly, her first thought when she sees him is that he looks so good and maybe she should make this whole relationship real so she can drag him to the nearest secluded place and have her way with him. Damn hormones.)
He seems different without it, like he's lost his mojo, but she supposes that he'll tell her about whatever's going on with him later, at home after school. He does come to her directly after school, but he doesn't say anything she expects.
(This would be one of the more unfortunate memories she has in this room.)
He walks in the open door, plops down on the bed in front of her, and gets right to the point, "You cool if I date Mercedes for a little while?"
No. No she's not. Maybe they're only pretending, but that's still not cool. But she can't just say that, he's not hers, and she's not absolutely sure she wants him to be (especially right now). So instead she asks, "Why do you suddenly want to date Mercedes? You seem to barely remember her name."
"I know," he agrees, "I'm going to have to write it on my hand or something." Getting back to her question he explains, "But it's like without the Mohawk all of a sudden my rep has been extinguished and all these nerds are getting back at me. I got thrown in a dumpster today by a crowd of geeks! And Mercedes is all popular now so I figured if I go out with her for a little bit I'll get my popularity back."
Well, at least he doesn't like someone else, that's a small comfort. Though this still seems like a completely insensitive idea on his part. Everyone thought they were dating, are they just supposed to suddenly break up now so he can get his rep back? Thinking of what he told her, she asks, face scrunched not understanding, "Why didn't you just beat up the geeks throwing you in a dumpster? If you had your reputation probably would have immediately been back."
"I'm not supposed to be directly responsible for violence anymore. I can't have my hand visibly in it or I could get expelled, or at least that's what Figgins keeps telling me," he answers. Softer, he explains, "And you know, just in case you decide to keep her… a guy who gets expelled from high school doesn't deserve to be her dad so I'm trying to avoid it."
She doesn't see how his popularity is relevant to their situation or him dating Mercedes, but that he didn't take the easiest route back to it because of their daughter was nice. And terrifying. She wasn't ready to make a decision yet, not at all. Because exactly this was one of the big reasons she felt so conflicted about making a decision at all. Sure there was the part where she just couldn't bear to imagine letting her daughter go even though she knows giving her daughter to other parents would probably be best for her. But there was this too. This, where Puck did something to show he wanted their daughter at the same time he showed he wasn't ready for it. This, just adds to her confusion and her head is already so messed up about all of this that she really doesn't need more things troubling her. She figures, maybe if they had a bit of space, with him dating someone else, she could get some clarity.
So, she tells him, "Well, I'd hate for both of us to lose our popularity. Then we'd have to find other people to walk with us down the halls."
"So you don't have a problem with it?" he questions, seeming surprised. He adds on, as if explaining away his reasoning (and lying), "I thought since you seem to be becoming friends with Mercedes you wouldn't like me using her."
"I don't," she agrees. Thinking quickly she concludes, "I'll take care of her though. I'll make sure she knows you're not actually interested, that you're just using her, and she'll probably be okay with that for the opportunity to be seen with a guy like you, to use you in return." He nods, accepting what she's said, and she thinks he looks disappointed, maybe even sad. Trying to distract herself as to why that could be (she's not ready to know yet) she stumbles into something else the situation will need. She suggests, "You'll need to figure out a way to keep Santana away from her though since she always gets oddly possessive of you once you're in an actual relationship." Wait… "Although she didn't come after me in any way so maybe she finally got over that."
"No she's not," he's quick to squash, "once we started being a fake couple I had to have a little talk with her. It's a good thing that in between our little flings we've actually been pretty good friends for years because that meant I knew a ton of stuff about her to get her to do what I wanted. I used everything I had though threatening her to leave you alone, all of which would have gotten her dad sending her off to a nunnery or something. But I've got nothing left to get her to stay away from Mercedes so she'll just have to handle her."
He blackmailed Santana into leaving her alone instead of trying to torture her as she did other girls he dated? He could have just told her they weren't actually dating, but she's glad he didn't, this was sweeter. (Though this again was exactly why she needed a break from him as this was yet another demonstration of him being really great to her, but it always seemed to be a matter of time before he wasn't.)
So rather than dwell on the undeniably nice gesture, she offers, "I'll just warn her about Santana then when I talk to her about your true intentions." She adds on teasingly, "If she falls for you despite your new loser status."
"Hey, no lady can resist these guns," he says rolling up his sleeves and showing his prized attribute in the process.
"Sure," she says doubtfully. (But she knows he'll find some way to make Mercedes swoon. He kept doing it to her, she was sure he could do it for any other girl too.)
It's not actually that bad seeing Puck with Mercedes. For the time while he was trying to get her it was entertaining at least. What bothers her more is how everyone else looks at her now- like her heart has been shattered, like she's been dumped. But she wasn't dumped because they were never really together and her heart hasn't been shattered because she knows that Puck's not interested in Mercedes (mostly just himself at the moment).
(And while he's been dating Mercedes and they haven't hung out at school lately, since they're not pretending at the moment, he's still been coming to talk to her in her/his room every night. It's almost like within those four walls nothing has changed.)
She seeks out Mercedes and is further relieved when the girl tells her that she knew Puck was only arm candy. There weren't feelings on her part either, but she'd be an idiot to pass up the opportunity to date a hot guy. Quinn does her part and acts perfectly okay with it, encourages it even (and accidentally lets a bit of truth slip- but that bacon rule and Puck's video game talk had been really getting to her lately). So Mercedes is consoled in the relationship and it continues without any interference from Quinn.
The way Santana goes after Mercedes though has her nervous. She didn't know Santana was still quite so irrationally and crazily possessive of Puck. Maybe she should thank him for sparing her from Santana's wrath after all.
Before Quinn knows it, it all ends.
She heard rumors that day at school of nerds getting tossed in the dumpster and assumed Puck's rep must have been restored. (She also assumed that it would mean that Puck broke up with Mercedes and feared him coming home and saying that he hadn't, that he was still with her. For as much as Quinn wanted him to move on to spare her the possibility of hurting him more later, part of her didn't want him to move on at all, just wanted him for herself and for their daughter and didn't want to decide anything that would break any of their hearts. She wanted to keep them both.)
He comes in with a bag he plops on the nightstand and lays down next to her with a heavy sigh.
Since he doesn't say anything, she glances over at him from the pre-calculus textbook resting in her lap and begins, "I heard that some geeks got tossed in a dumpster."
"Yeah," he says with a satisfied smile. He sits up and admits, "Got my rep back, but Mercedes beat me to the punch ending our relationship. Can you believe that? She dumped me." He adds on as an afterthought, "She quit Cheerios too."
Quinn's eyes widen in surprise. She's not surprised Mercedes ended it, she was a smart girl and had probably heard that her job had been done and figured she'd cut Puck loose before he had the chance. But she is surprised Mercedes quit Cheerios. No one quit. Realizing that that must mean Mercedes found popularity to be unimportant, Quinn found herself envious of the other girl. She wishes it was never important to her, then she wouldn't miss it so much.
"I'm sorry," she offers. He got dumped, it seemed appropriate.
"Eh," he shrugs, "it doesn't matter. I got plenty of good stuff out of it."
"Your reputation back as a bully," she says, listing the only thing she knew of.
"And," he says pointedly, "I got a good performance and the respect of lots of the club, I got to see two girls fight over me, got to find out Santana's still crazy jealous, and Mercedes did offer a good point about something."
"What?" she's quick to ask curiously.
"Nothing," he brushes it off. He promptly changes topics and says, "Tomorrow's the last day for songs that express ourselves. I don't even know what one you'll be doing. What'd you pick?"
"I didn't," she informs him. She looks away, to textbook scattered with formulas and numbers in her lap, tries to focus on them as she admits, "Expressing how I feel is…complicated. I'm not even sure. And every song I thought I'd pick, I couldn't get through listening the first line without bursting into tears like an emotional mess, let alone singing it." She feels the corners of her eyes sting and forces herself to look up, eyes wide and straining, trying to avoid the tears that feel like they're coming at the simple thought of trying to express what she feels. She forges on, "I talked to Mr. Schue about it though, he's been really great to me about everything and he was about this too. He offered to work with me on whatever I want to pick, even help me pick and then work through it so I could sing it for everyone sometime later. He thinks it may help me resolve what I really want and at this point I'm willing to try anything."
"I hope it works," he offers, "and if you need any help with it, I'd work with you on it too." He knows she's doing it alone but the person he wants to be (like Mercedes mentioned) is the one that not only wants to be with her, but gets to be with her. And if he's going to get to be with her then he's got to make an effort, even if he wasn't sure that's what she wanted.
"Thanks," she says with a small smile to him. She's too confused about everything right now to involve him in it, but maybe once she gets a bit of clarity his offer, his presence, will be needed. Maybe once she figures out what she wants, she can involve him and not have to be so alone in all of this anymore.
"Oh," he says, remembering one of the other reasons he came in here other than just to talk. He grabs the bag he put on the nightstand and takes out a to-go box. He opens it and hands it to her as he explains, "Mercedes mentioned something about you having a problem with my mom's no bacon rule and I was at 7-11, with Gary's Dinner right across the parking lot, so I went over and ordered you a BLT with two extra orders of bacon on it."
She's smiling so wide her face hurts (not just over the bacon- though that is part of it). "Really?" she questions, eagerly taking the box from him and looking over the delicious contents.
"Yeah," he says, brushing it off like it's no big deal that he just went out of his way to do something nice for her (although that had been exactly the reason he had done it).
She picks up the sandwich and takes as big of a bite as she can manage and sighs in content as she begins to chew.
"This like a pregnancy craving or something?" Puck asks because he doesn't understand how this managed to cause her to make such content sounds (and if he knew that was the result he totally would have done it sooner).
"Sort of," she say vaguely. She takes another big bite and finishes chewing before she continues explaining, "Pretty much all food sounds really good now, but when we went to Denny's that one time a couple of weeks ago and ordered breakfast for dinner, I found something out." Her eyes light up and she grabs his hand and quickly forces his palm flat on her stomach as she says, "Here."
His eyebrows furrow for a second and then he finds what she's talking about and they shoot up as he says, "Whoa."
"Bacon seems to make her kick extra hard. She either likes it or hates it," she explains.
"Likes it, definitely," he decides, staring at the place his hand is resting and feeling his daughter in awe.
"It's like she's river-dancing," Quinn comments, trying to describe the movements of their daughter.
He glances up at her, eyes narrowing, "River dancing? Seriously? Could you have picked anything lamer for our daughter?"
"You try coming up with something it's like," she challenges.
His gaze returns to her stomach and his hand on it. She continues to eat as he concentrates on trying to describe the movements he's feeling their daughter make.
After she finishes a couple more bites and he hasn't come up with something she concludes, "See, it's hard to come up with something that isn't lame to describe it."
"Yeah," he concedes, "but you can't describe it lamely either cause she's our kid and we're both awesome so she'd never be doing anything lame." He bites his lip and concentrates harder, trying to come up with something, "Maybe she's practicing kicking a guy in the stomach when he's down- she could be a fighter."
"Nope," she turns down, "I think she's nicer than either one of us."
"Really?" he questions curiously.
"Well she doesn't kick me this hard constantly so I consider that nice. And she doesn't kick when I'm trying to sleep, which isn't common I don't think, so that's nice of her too," Quinn rationalizes.
"Hmm, doesn't sound like something a kid of ours would do," he jokes.
She knows he wasn't serious, but sometimes she felt like she should say more about the topic she could broach here. She takes advantage of the opportunity now and glances down away from him as she says softly, "I don't know about that, you can be pretty nice sometimes."
He smiles. That's the type of things he likes to get in these situations that keep arising between them. He could take it completely seriously, but they don't feel quite ready for that. So he quips, "Keep stuff like that to yourself." He adds on, softer like her, "I'd think she'd mostly get something like that from you though."
They don't usually talk about their daughter and certainly not like she's actually theirs. They overlook that for a couple of hours though, discussing the person they think she'd be. (Later, it plague on Quinn's mind that with that conversation she was letting both of their hopes get up. For Puck, it simply reminded him of the things he wanted and wished he could express as wanting.)
Things are pretty good between them. They don't sit together at glee because to everyone else they've broken up, but she often finds herself smiling thanks to him and visa versa.
That first day Brian Ryan was at glee practice and talked to them about dreams they didn't talk about it much. Naturally Puck remarked that Brian Ryan was a super douchey name. Quinn complained that it seemed discriminatory that Artie was the one Brian ripped their dream out of their hand. But after that brief discussion of glee on the way home from school, it hadn't come up between them since.
Until five hours later, after dinner when Quinn typically had time to herself in "her" room which she spent getting homework done while Puck played video games in the living room. Instead of finding the bedroom empty as she left it, when Quinn returned from the bathroom she found Puck rooting through her notebooks.
"What are you doing?" she's quick to demand.
He could easily lie, he prides himself on being quite good at it. He doesn't see much point in lying now though, he planned on talking to her about it anyway- just searched first so it would be easier. He continues flipping through the notebook of hers he has in his hand as he answers honestly, "I'm looking for whatever you wrote down in glee practice as your biggest dream."
"Why?" she asks because they were maybe sort of friends, but real honesty between them came and went (more the latter than the former).
He shrugs, downplaying it, "Wanted to know your answer." He stops at a page and reads aloud, "No stretch marks." He looks up at her, raises an eyebrow, checks, "Seriously? That's your biggest dream?"
She sighs and concedes, admitting, "It was the easiest to put." If he knows what she wrote down then it's only fair if she knows his. She asks, "What did you write?"
"Threesome," he promptly responds.
"What a good goal," she says dryly.
"It was the easiest one to put," he says, echoing her words. "Not that I don't want that to happen," he amends, "but there are things I want more." He's got three different versions of basically the same answer to Brian Ryan's question and he thinks that if he says one or all of them it could be a really good way to express what he wants. But he's not going to dive into it unless he has a sign. So he asks, "What do you really want?"
That's quite a loaded question. They've talked about it a little bit before how she doesn't know what she wants regarding their daughter. She's never talked about keeping her, but she's talked about giving her up on a few occasions. She's pretty sure he's picked up on that and that's why it feels like this topic is coming up between them in increased frequency. And she understands how much he'd want to know what's going to happen, she wishes she did too. Which brings her to her real wish, one she knows for certain. She answers honestly, leaning against the doorframe tiredly, "If I could have my biggest dream right now, I'd want clarity. I'd want to know what I should do, what's right."
The fact that she still seems to have no idea what that is (not that she's letting on at least) kind of spoils what he was going to say. He really doesn't want to spend forever like this, holding back what he wants to say, afraid to go after what he wants. But he doesn't want to forge ahead and risk it all either. So he tells her, "I hope you get that."
"Thanks," she says sincerely.
Then, for the first time since she started living there, he doesn't stay, change topics and hang out. Instead he comes back around the bed, passes by her in the doorway, and heads back out to the living room.
She knew her confusion was getting to him too, but she didn't know it was so much that it feels like something between them is starting to break. (She prays it's not, that they'll miraculously have whatever it was back tomorrow. She has so few people in her life now, she's not sure she could stand losing anyone else. Especially him.)
(Her prayers didn't work.)
For the next week there's this distance between them. They still talk, but less and when they do it seems to have a cold edge to it. Despite having been more honest when they were alone together before, they've changed into playing the parts that they usually do with everyone else.
For her part, Quinn's not sure where this all came from. Suddenly he seemed different, distant, and she acts in kind because not doing so feels too revealing. And she hates the way they are now (longs for what they were just last week). She hates it so much that she even hung out with Rachel Berry, spied on Vocal Adrenaline with her, just so she wouldn't have to be around Puck so much and feel so awful.
For his part, Puck knows when he began acting differently- it was when it became clear that he's probably not getting what he wants with this. And he's frustrated and pissed and he's trying to hide it, but he can't. Mostly, he really wishes he could express to her what he wants so maybe she won't overlook it anymore, but he knows every time he's tried in some small way lately he's failed completely.
Then one day they're talking in the halls and Puck rambles on (he often voices every thought in his head) and Quinn is agitated as she pulls books from her locker. She realizes as he's talking about a very stupid name for their daughter that this isn't what she wants. If he could just turn on her in a day (as he had done before) and become this guy who was so incredibly too immature to have a daughter (and to so easily lose interest in being with her) then she couldn't be with him. And if she couldn't be with him, then there was only one decision to make about their daughter. So she tells him, harsher than necessary, right there.
"The name is not the point. I told you this (she hadn't, not definitely), I'm giving up the baby so I don't have to do this with you. This is good for you. Now you can go off and be a rock star yourself."
If she was being completely honest she would have added that he could go off and be with every girl he wanted to now as well. Because maybe he was almost faithful to her and their pretend relationship, but almost didn't count for anything with the person she was having a baby with.
They stop talking all together after this moment in the halls. Seeing him at his house, she thinks he looks hurt, but she can't do this anymore. She wasn't lying when she had told his mom that she didn't know what she wanted. But it turned out that she knew what she didn't want. She didn't want this back and forth, she couldn't take it. She needed stability and if she was going to keep her daughter she needed someone she could count on and lately Puck had been demonstrating that that was exactly who he wasn't. So she can't think about the fact that he looks hurt or that he's done so many good things for her or that he's expressed wanting their baby in the past, because right now, the harsh truth is that he's not the person she needs him to be and that means she can't keep her daughter.
(She cries every night all week, for hours, because now her fate is sealed and she'll actually have to say goodbye to her baby girl forever. It hurts already.)
When Puck comes into glee club and says he has something to say to Quinn, she's conflicted. This is exactly what he's always seemed to do. He does something that makes her so…disappointed or frustrated with him and then he goes and does something great. And then the great things get her hopes up, but never last.
Then he gets the guys up there with him and starts to sing "Beth," and for a little while she completely forgets those initially troubling thoughts. All she can think is that this is what she wants. The man he is in this moment is a man she wants to raise her daughter with (is a man she wants to be with for real).
Before she knows it she's crying and so much emotion is overwhelming her that she can't even speak when he asks her to name there daughter Beth and to be there to meet her when she's born.
Thank God Mr. Schue makes them move on to other business from there. In that moment she was way too emotional, nearly on the verge of doing something that would probably be really stupid (like throwing her arms around him and telling him she wants to be a family).
She can't go home with him after that though. Before the performance she had made a decision, one she had been sticking with all week and that had been so hard to get to in the first place. But now everything felt different. She needed time and space to think about whether it actually was.
So she tells him that she'll meet him at home, and she says it with a smile to try and reassure him that what he did was really good and her not coming with him wasn't something that he should find discouraging. Then she heads to the auditorium to spend some time thinking, alone. Only less than three minutes later Rachel's shown up on stage, seemingly going over things. Quinn decides to stay, she's far enough away that they could still both be relatively alone here. Then Rachel's birth-mom comes in and they start talking and they sing. Quinn turns into a blubbering mess again. She can't take this, the reminder of what could be. She darts out of her place at the very back of the room so hastily that she's not sure she was silent enough not to get caught by either one of them.
Rushing for the nearest school exit, Quinn is so desperate for some fresh air, to get away from everything, that she doesn't hear the heavy footsteps coming from around the corner and runs squarely into the person upon taking the corner.
"Sorry," she mutters with a sniffle, head bowed.
"Quinn?" comes a familiar voice. She looks up to find Finn. "You alright?" he asks, which isn't the smartest question given that she's clearly crying.
But they're not… she can't burden him, not after everything she's already done to him. She wipes at her eyes, sniffles, and tries to sound fine as she says, "Yep, just in a hurry."
"You're not fine," he says with a chuckle, "I don't even know why I asked that, answer's pretty obvious." He offers her a small smile. (He hasn't done that in months, not since the truth came out.)
She doesn't notice though, instead biting her lip, glancing to the floor and trying to will the tears she feels coming on not to.
"You want to talk about it?" he offers.
"But-" she begins, because he didn't have to be nice, not after the way she was with him. (And she figures the only reason he's being like this with her is because he's just too good of a guy to encounter a crying girl and not be wonderful.)
"You still like ice cream, right? My treat," he interrupts offering. He very recently realized that he wanted to do something like this and since the opportunity came up he figured he'd go for it.
Well if he's being nice after everything she's absolutely not going to turn down that kindness. She nods and follows him out to his mom's car that he has for the day. They ride there mostly in silence. She tries to stop crying and he both apologizes for and tries to explain why there was a large tear in the passenger seat cushion (accident with a Swiss Army knife- long story).
When they get to Baskin Robins he makes small talk about ice cream flavors until they both get their orders and settle into a table in the back.
She knows what's coming and she's not sure she's up for it, so she tries to deflect. She asks him, "Why are you being so nice to me now? After everything, I don't deserve it."
"Yeah you do," he insists quickly. He knows her too though and just like she knew what would be coming from him, he knows why she asked what she did. So he counters, "And I'll tell you why now, but I think why you were practically running down the halls- in your condition- crying is a lot more important. So you tell me why you did that and I'll tell you why I wanted to come here with you."
She sighs. Finn had always been a great friend (most of the time he was better at that than being a boyfriend) and apparently now that he's talking to her again he's back to being that good friend. It's awkward to talk about given that it sort of involves his best friend who she cheated on him with, but she figures that he did ask her to. So she answers, "I was just…confused about stuff and I wanted somewhere to think alone. So I went to the auditorium. Then Rachel showed up on the stage, but I was way up in the back so it still felt like I was basically alone so I didn't leave and try and find somewhere else. But then Rachel's mom came in and they started talking and singing and I just… they have what I could have. Actually, I know that I may never even get to meet my daughter after I give her up and then, as Rachel and her mom demonstrated, even if I do it would never be easy between us. And no matter what I'd never be the person in her life that I'd want to be, that role would be filled by some other woman." She wipes at the tears that have rolled down her cheeks in remembering. She's not used to falling apart though, so she pulls herself together and tries to sound convincing when she says, "It's these damn pregnancy hormones. They make me emotional about everything and I just got carried away."
He doesn't believe that. Not that he actually knows anything about pregnancy hormones, but he knows Quinn. He'll get back to that though, he decides that first, he needs to tell her why he's here. "You wanted to know why I'm being nice now," he begins, "and it's because I realized some things that kind of change everything." He knows he needs to tell her, but that doesn't make this any less awkward. It was only a few months ago that he thought he was having a baby with her. "You know when Puck came in saying that stuff to you today and sang "Beth" today in glee?" he asks and he actually waits for her to nod to show she remembered despite the fact that it was only a couple of hours ago. When she does, he dives in, "Puck's in love with you."
"What?" she's quick to utter sharply.
"Yeah, I'm not sure he knows either," Finn returns thoughtfully. He sighs and explains how he came to this, "Look, Puck's been my best friend forever. I know him as well as I'd probably know my own twin, you know if I had one. And he doesn't do stuff like he did today. Sure, he'll sing for a girl to get something he wants- like with Mercedes- but he was real with you today and that's one thing Puck never is in public. The fact that he was with you and that he talked about his dad with it all, it means a lot. And when I started thinking about it, him being in love with you actually made a lot of sense. And if he slept with you when you were my girlfriend because he's in love with you, well, that's pretty huge for Puck so I can be cool with that. Now, at least."
That's a ton of information to digest. She's not sure where to begin so she goes with what's easiest: part that's about her, sort of. She asks, "But how'd you come to be okay with me? That only explains how you forgave him."
He plays with the plastic spoon in his now empty ice cream cup. He offers, "I understood why you did what you did almost immediately. Rachel actually explained it to me. But understanding didn't help me be any less angry for a long time. And I don't know when it happened, but I realized a couple of weeks ago, that I wasn't angry about any of it anymore. And if I'm not angry, then I can just let it go."
She sits and tries to think through what she's heard. But her brain stops and just keeps replaying the idea that Puck's in love with her.
Eventually her thoughts are interrupted by Finn asking, "Are you going to finish that?" with a gesture to her melting ice cream. She lets him have it and he lets her think in silence while he finishes off her ice cream.
This silence is getting a little boring for Finn. He had been looking for something to keep him away from home- his mom was pretty pissed he got them thrown out of Burt's and since he hadn't figured out a way to make up for it yet, he wasn't looking forward to seeing her. But sitting in an ice cream shop, not eating, across from a silent, looks-like-she's-about-to-cry, pregnant girl isn't what he was looking to do either. He wants to give her whatever space she needs, really, but he didn't come here not to talk to her. He checks, "So how're you doing with everything?"
Quinn has really only been able to think one thing (a turn around of the same thought really) and it's the words that come out of her mouth as soon as she's received prompting to speak (even though it doesn't answer the question), "He's not in love with me."
"Yeah he is," Finn assures.
"No he isn't," Quinn denies.
"Yeah-" Finn begins, prepared to repeat himself again because he's so sure about this. He's probably one of the few people that knows when Puck's being serious and what he looks like when he cares about someone. And today he saw Puck look that way about his daughter, and about the girl that's the mother of his daughter.
"No he's not, he can't be," Quinn cuts him off. She sighs and rants, "He sexted Santana the first time I tried to be with him and make us a family like he claimed he wanted and then he told me he'd keep seeing other girls no matter what we were. And we've never been together, we only pretended and he couldn't even stop flirting with other girls the entire time we pretended. Then we had to stop pretending because he wanted to date Mercedes because he was so worried about his reputation he didn't care if doing all that meant we had to break up our fake relationship. And he's been weird lately and stopped talking to me and he did this whole "Beth" thing, but it's just like everything else he does. He'll do something that'll make me want..." Quinn finally realizes everything she's dumping on Finn and stops herself. Finn is her ex-boyfriend who she hurt really badly; he didn't deserve her putting all of this on him too. He probably really didn't want to hear any of it either. "Sorry," she apologizes softly.
Finn's not sure he knows Quinn much anymore after all. He'd never known her to fall apart so easily and this seemed like the…fifth(?) time today he'd seen her do it. He keeps up with her rant despite the fact that it's a lot to take in. He tries to recall it all as he begins responding, "It's cool. I mean, I already knew you guys weren't ever really together so-"
"You knew?" she's quick to ask. She could have sworn everyone had bought them as a couple.
"Yeah, well you didn't have him doing like half of the things you had me do as your boyfriend so I figured you weren't really together," Finn says, as if it was obvious. He knew everyone assumed they were together and that he never thought they were, but honestly he'd had too much stuff of his own going on lately to think about it past that. He sighs and continues, "And as for any time Puck screwed up or said something stupid, well, doesn't everyone do that? I know I've done that. I mean, yeah, dating Mercedes because he was worried about himself when he should have been thinking about how it would make you feel wasn't right. But Puck's trying, that much has been clear. He just hasn't been successful all the time."
That's fair, Quinn supposes. Or at least it would be if they were in normal circumstances, but they're not. "I know he's tried, and he's done some things that I really appreciate, but it's not good enough now," Quinn tells him regretfully, "I've already lost one family, I can't take a chance on a new one when it seems certain that it's going to get messed up since he has a pattern of it."
Her parents were complete douches for what they were doing to her, so Finn can kind of understand her concern here- getting abandoned by people who are supposed to care about her. He didn't really think he'd be saying all of this to her and certainly not so soon after realizing how he felt about their situation now, but it seems like she really needs to hear it. He looks her square in the eye and hopes he sounds as convinced as he is, "You need to understand, Puck's dad was his hero for a while, until he realized the guy was around pretty much as much as my dad. Considering my dad's dead that was really saying something. And until he saw the way his dad didn't want his sister, but that's a long story. Anyway, that had a really big impact on Puck. He's still changing from it. Because he's always believed he's a lot like his dad, but when it comes to being a dad himself, I've always known he'd be a good one. I thought it would be a lot later, but I know that after what his dad put him through he'd never let himself become anything like him, not to his kid. So you can count on that, I swear, he will always be there for your daughter." He adds as an after thought, trying to make her smile, "And if he ever isn't, I swear I'll kick his ass for you."
She smiles a little. She doesn't know what to think of everything that Finn claimed about Puck. So she says instead, "You know, you're a really good friend to him."
"Well," Finn says, mocking modesty as he gives her a shrug and a smile. He looks down at the table as he admits, "I figured I shouldn't give up on convincing you he could be a good guy to you and...Beth. He doesn't give up- been texting me every morning with video games scores he's gotten just like we've always done. I haven't been texting him back and I never gave him the chance to explain about how you and he… well, I feel pretty bad about that so I figured this is the least I could do. And of course, now that I know why he did what he did, I'm going to start texting him back again. This is all weird still, but too many things are changing lately, I want some of my old friends back."
She understands that. She wrote the Glist just to try and get back the tiniest bit of her old life. "He'll be glad to have you back, I'm sure," she offers sincerely.
"I want you back as my friend too," he clarifies- though he thought he had implied that, maybe not though, sometimes he didn't think much about the things he says.
She gets a little teary at that. Getting anything back from her old life is one of the greatest gifts she could get at the moment. "Thank you," she says, genuinely grateful.
He just nods a little and smiles at her. He glances at the clock on the wall because it feels like they've been here a while, which they have indeed. He begins, "I've really got to get going. I've got to figure out something to do to make up for being…horrible to Kurt." He pauses, thinks about it and tells her, "Just, I know you love her, Beth, and Puck does too. I know you think you have to give her up, but just don't forget that. And don't let being afraid of another family letting you down influence your decision. I know for sure that you'll always have Puck, Mrs. Puckerman, me, my mom, the rest of glee club probably too. So just, think everything over."
She nods, not able to respond because she honestly has so many things to think about now she wouldn't know what to say.
He stands up and asks, "Give you a ride somewhere?"
She nods and accepts a ride to Puck's house. On the way there, she wants to help him as he's been trying to help her (and she's sure that everything he told her will indeed be greatly helpful to her) so she asks him about whatever he has going on with Kurt that he needs to make up for. She even solves it for him- probably. She suggests dressing up like Lady Gaga- the red, long, pleathery looking dress specifically. She promises to send him a picture of the image she's thinking of and that his mom could help him make it. (It does end up being a gesture that helps fix things for Finn with Kurt and she's really glad to be helping him for a change. It's felt like for months all she's been doing to him is the exact opposite.)
Quinn thinks of everything Finn told her and everything the "Beth" performance stirred up nearly every single second for days.
When she got home that afternoon, she had immediately asked Puck to talk in his/her room. She thanked him for the song again and promised he could be there when their daughter was born, that she really wants him there. (She's not ready to say more yet, but she needed to say this, to get back to talking to him- she's missed it.)
She considered it on the way back as she talked to Finn and she thinks Puck should know that he's cool with them again. So she tells him that she just hung out with Finn. Ran into him and then they had a good talk which consisted of Finn saying that he was okay with them now, wanted them both back and intended to work on that.
Naturally Puck's curious as to why Finn's suddenly okay with them, but of course she's not telling him that. Actually, she tells him that Finn just said he was good with them and she was too afraid to press the issue.
Naturally Puck's also really happy to hear his relationship with his best friend may be on the mend. He tries to hide it from her, but he totally ditches her as fast as possible and proceeds to spend hours playing some video game- clearly trying to prepare for the next day's text.
Over the weekend, things seem to be back to how they were before between them. They laid in his/her bed and talked. He said about how awesome it was finally going to be to get to kick the asses of some of the popular kids- though they'd have to do it off campus or he couldn't participate. And she complained about her sore and swollen feet (seriously, she didn't know feet could hurt this bad). Eventually though, a comfortable silence settles over them and they just stay there, flat on their backs lying next to each other.
Quinn looks over at him through her lashes after a while, thinks about what her life has become, what this is, what it could be. What Finn told her about Puck being in love with her and how he'd never be his own dad to their daughter and she could count on that, it hung in her head constantly since that day. She runs a hand over her stomach and thinks about what she wants. Finn had told her that Puck loves their daughter and honestly she thought he did too. And if they both love her and want her, maybe they shouldn't give her up. Maybe no one could love her as much as them. Other people could probably provide better, but Finn promised that Puck never stopped trying at things and she was starting to think the same thing so maybe they'd both always try so hard that they would make it, that they'd create a good life for their daughter. And as she looks at him, thinks about what she really wants, and feels her daughter kick the spot of her stomach her hand is resting on, she decides that it's time she trusts the things she feels, to trust the man Puck has grown into (well, the one he's been trying to be at least), and express what she feels.
"I finally decided on a song to work with Mr. Schue on- you know, the one to express myself?" she tells him.
"Yeah?" he says, breaking from his revive, "What are you gonna sing?"
"You'll find out when I do it next week like everyone else," she tells him. She would just tell him the truth, let him make deductions about it, and they could get on with this. But she just made her decision (the final one this time- now there won't be any going back) and even though she's been trying to for months now it still felt rash. If she didn't tell him what she wanted to sing now she could change it by the time she performs if she changes her mind in the time in between. She knows what she wants, but she still knows that cautiousness is a good thing.
Quinn went and told Mr. Schue her song choice and started working on it with him the next day. By the time her day to perform comes around she's still found herself crying during practices of the song, but at least now she knows how to sing through it.
Quinn stuck with her original song choice all week and she's more sure now that it's the right choice than ever. In the past week Puck had brought her bacon on three different occasions and in three different forms (BLT, bacon-loaded omelet, and bacon mac 'n cheese). Plus, last night he had sung softly to her stomach, to their daughter and her heart nearly melted at the act (even if he was singing "Thriller"). So here she is, sitting on a stool on stage (she asked Mr. Schue to do it in the auditorium- she felt more comfortable expressing herself with ample space from her fellow glee-clubbers) and about to sing a song that expresses how she feels about her daughter and her situation (and had fairly strong undertones of how she had grown to feel about Puck).
Once everyone has arrived, Puck sitting towards the aisle and a chair away from majority of the club, Mr. Schue who's off to the side of the stage with a guitar in hand gives Quinn an encouraging smile. She takes a deep breath, tries to calm herself, and gives him a small nod to begin.
On second thought, she holds up a hand to Mr. Schue and adds first, to everyone, "This is for her," as she places her right hand on her stomach (where it stays for the whole performance).
She gives Mr. Schue a nod again and he begins playing "You Really Got a Hold On Me"- the She and Him version.
I don't like you but I love you
Seems that I'm always thinking of you
Oh ho ho, you treat me badly
I love you madly, you've really got a hold on me
You really got a hold on me
You really got a hold on me
You really got a hold on me
Her other hand comes to rest on her stomach as she continues singing.
I don't want you but I need you
Don't want to kiss you but I need to
Oh ho ho, you do me wrong now
My love is strong now, you've really got a hold on me
You really got a hold on me
You really got a hold on me
You really got a hold on me
I love you and all I want you to do
Is just hold me, hold me, hold me, hold me
Her eyes had started to get glassy before this couplet, but she has tears slowly rolling down her face by the end.
I want to leave you, don't want to stay here
Don't want to spend another day here
Oh ho ho, I want to split now
I just can quit now, you've really got a hold on me
You really got a hold on me
I said you really got a hold on me
You really got a hold on me
I love you and all I want you to do
Is just hold me, hold me, hold me, hold me (Deluge of tears down her face now, though she doesn't notice.)
She closes her eyes tight and continues to sing with conviction, letting the song and her pleas fade into nothingness.
She swallows thickly and slowly opens her eyes. They're blurry with tears, but they zone in on one person immediately. And she can feel everyone watching her so intently as she takes in a sharp shuddering breath in the silence that's settled over the room.
"Why am I crying?" Brittany asks Santana next to her, effectively breaking the prolonged silence and the focus from Quinn (thank God- she's not sure she could have taken it much longer).
Santana (not crying- though looking a little effected at least) gives her friend next to her a disbelieving look as Quinn hears clapping that clearly started from behind her (from Mr. Schue) and then everyone joins in. When it dies down Mr. Schue compliments Quinn on a job well done and tells everyone that they have a five-minute break- he expects them all back as he'll be giving a new assignment.
Quinn (who had stopped looking at the crowd, instead turning to Mr. Schue the second he started clapping and gave her something else to focus on) walks up to Mr. Schue and begins to ask, "I can't stay, I'm-"
"It's okay," he says, cutting her off knowingly. He'd rehearsed this enough with her that he knew how emotional it was for her so he understands that staying, participating as usual, and hearing about a new assignment is not something she's likely capable of at the moment. "You can go," he tells her, "I'll catch you up on stuff later if everyone else hasn't already."
She smiles and nods gratefully. She's about to head backstage and take the back exit, but before she can finish her first step in that direction Mr. Schue calls, "Quinn," and she stops, looks to him and waits.
"You were fantastic, truly, and I'm so proud of you," he tells her earnestly and she notices for the first time that his eyes look a little glassy.
"Thank you, for everything," she tells him sincerely.
He offers her a smile, which she tries to muster in return for a second before she leaves as she so desperately feels she needs to.
She knew that the song's relevance to her and Puck and Beth was something she'd need to talk to him about, but never there, at school and with everyone. She knew that they'd do that no matter what she did directly following her performance though and what she really needed now was some time to gather herself before she faced everyone again. Glee practice would probably only last another half an hour so there was no point making an effort to calm down from her incredibly emotional performance to rejoin them before the end. So she settles on going home and tries to sooth her already overwrought emotions in preparation for a conversation that could certainly prove as emotional as the song she just sang.
Puck must have left glee club virtually at the same time as her, because when Quinn gets home and gets in her/his room, he's coming through the front door. (Mrs. Pillsbury had seen her in the parking lot about to walk home crying and offered her a ride- otherwise if she had walked as she thought she would, Puck would have probably already caught up with her.)
She stops from walking around the bed as she hears the door to the house open, stays there at the end of it and turns around, trying to prepare herself for what's to come.
He walks in, pauses in the doorway. "I don't know if this is what you were trying to say, or if you wanted her to hold you," he says with a gesture to her stomach and walking towards her again, "but…". He trails off, looks unsure for a minute, but then he seems to decide and he wraps his arms around her, hugs her, holds her.
She clings to him immediately (it's the first time anyone has hugged her in…so long she honestly can't remember).
"So, you gotta tell me if I'm wrong, but what I got from all that was that you want us and her as much as I do," he confesses softly, continuing to hang on to her.
"You're right," she responds immediately. As much as she doesn't want to let go of him, she does just enough to lean back so she can look at him as she tells him this, because this is possibly the most important thing she'll ever say. She says honestly, "I want her, so much. And I do really want to do this with you, I want to be her parents with you, and I want us to try and have something real. I just got scared before when I said that wasn't what I wanted."
He nods, understanding. "I've gotten pretty scared myself about everything, but I want all this too. And I promise, I want to make it all work."
That feels so good to hear, especially with the very serious way he's looking at her. She believes him, completely. She smiles, (teary eyed again) and says, "I know." He smiles in return, but she cuts off anything he's about to say realizing that she didn't completely address something he had said, "Oh, and with the song I meant that I wanted to hold her, to keep her, but it was also that I wanted you to hold me."
The way he looks at her basically expresses him thinking something along the lines of "That's cool. …Now what is he supposed to do with that?" So she helps him out and says, "I really want you to hold me, for a little bit longer at least."
"Oh," he says, realizing and tightens his embrace on her again.
Eventually they get around to kissing and making out. With Puck such things cannot be left out of a relationship- which they're both clear on they are absolutely trying (a monogamous one- she was careful to clarify just in case). And then they just start talking again, as had become habit.
Quinn had purposely tried to avoid seeing the reaction of their fellow glee-clubbers to her song so she didn't know how it went over. Puck was eager to tell her though (after criticizing her for choosing a song and performance that had his eyes watery- how dare she almost make him cry in front of people, he'd joked). He told her all of the people that were crying by the end of the performance, which was every girl (sans Santana) and Kurt and the rest of the guys (like him) looked like they had watery eyes and if the song lasted another minute they'd have faces wet with at least one tear that fought it's way out too. He tells her that as he headed for his car and passed the group breaking in the hall, he'd never seen them all so depressed (which he complimented her on for completely ruining other people's day).
Later, they both get a text from Finn about their new glee club assignment, which makes them both even happier (and they were already pretty happy given they both finally got what the wanted today). They also get a text from Rachel about the assignment, but her frequent, unnecessary reminders of assignments are completely typical (unfortunately). (Though attached to Quinn's is a comment on her performance from Rachel. Rachel wrote that her performance was perfect and beautiful- which makes her think that she may just come to like Rachel Berry after all.)
That night, as Quinn lays on her side in her and Puck's bed (what? She wasn't rushing the relationship- she just wanted him to hold her for a while longer) with Puck's arms wrapped around her, she thinks about all of the changes in her life. Most of her good memories lately are from this room. Her and Puck started to talk and bond in this room. She saw how much he cared about her in this room (and he never said he loved her- yet, but if Finn was right she was so getting that out of him, soon). She realized she could have the future she had come to want in this room. And finally, she got a new family in this room.
Quinn tightens her hold on Puck's arm around her, clings to him a little bit more fiercely. She thinks, if she were to stay here like this, in this room, with him forever, she'd be perfectly happy. She had her daughter and him now, that was all she ever really needed.
A/N: I hope you enjoyed the story!
Reviews equal love, so please do REVIEW! And remember to include a birthday message to Kath if you'd be so kind:)
Oh, and to those of you wondering about when "Cheated Hearts" may be updated- I'm hoping relatively soon. I'm basically done with my school term (though I start more Masters classes in two weeks, yay!- not) so I'll have some time and I'll be trying to get at least one chapter done if not more.