A/N: First, thank you again so much to all of the wonderful people who reviewed!
Second, I'm so sorry this took so long to get out. Not only has life been keeping me quite busy, but this turned out more than twice as long as I thought it would. I hope the ample length makes up for the extended wait.
Third, for those of you reading Cheated Hearts, please check my profile for a new update on the status of it.
Fourth, I wasn't crazy about how this second part turned out. I can't put my finger on where exactly it takes a turn that I'm not completely happy with and not being able to find it didn't allow me to fix it. But the wait's been long enough and chance were really good that I'd never be able to find exactly where I went wrong so I hope the detour from what's right in the story is all in my head and that all of you lovely readers enjoy this second, very long part of the story.
It isn't until after you've dropped Puck off at his house and gotten in the front seat with your mother that you realize it's the first time you haven't been with Puck in over twenty-four hours. With the exception of a few times he left the room while a doctor or nurse checked on you or one of you was in the bathroom, but those only spanned minutes. This separation would surely span hours.
Your mom thought Finn was the father of your baby and since this is the first time since your brief talk right before your water broke that you've been alone with her, you expect her to ask about why Puck seemed to be the actual father of your daughter. She doesn't though. She just drives you home.
When you get there, she tells you that you should take a nice hot shower while she fixes you something to eat. She follows you up to your bedroom, the one you hastily packed things up in five months ago, and leaves your bags on the floor. You can see she already unpacked the stuff she brought home for you from Mercedes' and she laid out the new clothes she mentioned she got you. She wrings her hands for a second, then she walks over to you and hugs you. "I'm so proud of the woman you are honey," she tells you, hugging you fiercely. She pulls back, gives your hands a squeeze, and tries to smile at you though it comes out a bit sad. (You can understand that. You know you did the right thing, and you're proud of yourself for doing it. But you didn't know it was humanly possible to feel this bad.)
She leaves you then. You do as she suggested because a hot shower really does sound good. In the shower, you try not to notice your stomach. How it's flatter, how it's empty, how she's not there. But you do. And then you fall apart for the first time (and not nearly the last). You begin trying to pull yourself together only a couple of minutes after you've started crying. You know your mom will worry if you're too long and you need to be able to get through simple things without breaking down. If you're going to make it through this, you know you need to fight against the urge to fall to pieces.
When you get out of the shower, you busy yourself by putting away the things in your bags and checking where your mother has put all the things she unpacked for you. Then you head downstairs to see what your mother has made for you to eat, as she had said she would. It's chocolate chip pancakes.
Chocolate chip pancakes actually say a lot about your mother. You honestly weren't sure when you agreed to move back in with her. During your labor or while you were emotional after it you suppose you told her that you would. But you didn't have high hopes for it, not after what she did to you. You're sure you won't forget how she abandoned you, but in the last day she's made more of an effort to be a mother to you than you ever remember her doing. Chocolate chip pancakes are a small testament to that since she always said to your pleas for them when you were young that chocolate chips in a breakfast food made it a dessert, which was inappropriate to have for breakfast. Yet, for dinner tonight she made you chocolate chip pancakes.
You take eating slowly. Honestly, you don't really feel like eating. You do it because you know you should, but you've felt queasy since you had to say goodbye to your daughter.
After you finish eating, you take your mother's advice and try to get some rest. You're exhausted so sleep does sound good. But once you lie down sleep seems impossible because you have to actively stop yourself from thinking about everything (if you think of her, you'll fall apart again).
Two hours into attempting not to think and hoping you'll be able to sleep eventually, there's a harsh knock… on your window. Then there's someone trying to pry it open from the outside. You freak out for a second until you see Puck's face pop up. When it does you rush to your window and open it for him. He climbs in with difficulty and a grunt. "Whew," he says, catching his breath. He comments, "You know, climbing a trellis is a lot harder than they make it look on TV. There's no where for your feet to really grip, or your hands."
"What are you doing here?" you demand. It's not that you're angry he's here, but the sneaking in and scaring you half to death was completely uncalled for.
"Came to see you," he says simply. He explains, "I didn't want your mom to think I was already trying to get you pregnant again or anything though so I figured I'd sneak in."
You roll your eyes at that because it seems like such a typical thing for him to think. But more importantly, "Why'd you come to see me?"
"I'm here to see if you're okay," he says, as if it's obvious.
"I'm fine," you say. It's not true. Not at all. But your choices have been made and you can't take them back because that wouldn't be right for your daughter. So fine, is what you need to be.
"Really?" Puck asks. He looks down at the carpet between your feet and his (only about a foot of it between you). He glances back up, his eyes meeting yours despite the darkness of the room. He confesses softly, "Then I guess that makes me a wuss, because I'm not doing okay."
There's no resisting breaking down now, especially when he's making doing so okay. Tears are flooding out before you can even manage to breath out, "Me either." Then, in less than a second, you're in his arms, sobbing so hard it feels like you'll never stop (so hard you don't know he's cried too until you realize it wasn't likely your tears got your own shoulder wet). He holds you, just standing there in your room, for a long time. You're not sure you've ever even embraced him like this, but you really needed this.
Eventually, you move to your bed and he lies down with you, continues to hold you as you hang on to him. It should be weird to be here with him considering that this is the place you lost your virginity to him and conceived your daughter, but it's not. Having him here like this is the only thing that's slightly easing the all-consuming ache in your heart and soul.
(You fall asleep in each other's arms, both succumbing to exhaustion eventually. You wake up in his arms too.)
You hear your mother open your door in the early morning, but you don't open your eyes or worry about explaining why Puck is in your bed or why you're still holding on to him. If she was upset by it, she probably would have said something right away so you figure there's no point explaining and fall back to sleep.
You both wake up again a couple of hours later, still in each other's arms. It's the sound of his phone ringing followed by your phone ringing that wakes you both. You check your phones and find messages concerning the same thing- apparently the rest of glee club has organized something for you to thank Mr. Schue later today. You suppose that means you should show up for school at some point today (it's about half way through second period now).
Puck supposes you should go too. He doesn't say anything about last night and neither do you. He climbs back out your window simply saying he'd see you later.
You go downstairs and find your mom in the kitchen reheating breakfast for you. She doesn't mention Puck being in your bed and doesn't bother saying good morning either, you both know there's not really anything good about it. Instead, she offers, "You don't have to go to school today you know. You could take it easy, recuperate."
You tell her about how glee club is over now since you lost, which she seems to know somehow, and you mention the message you got and how you'd like to be present for the tribute to Mr. Schue. She understands and suggests maybe you could just show up for that at the end of the day. But you've thought about this and you think going to just your last two classes may help your adjustment to being back (to being in classes now as the no-longer-pregnant-but-baby-less-girl). She says she'll call and excuse you from your earlier classes. Then she says, "Perhaps I should get Puck excused from his morning classes too. I'd think the long weekend you two had would have taken a toll on him and caused him to miss some classes too."
You're shocked by her suggestion. You're not sure what to think of your mother being this nice. You go with it though and tell her that that would probably be helpful (you're certain Puck does not need any more unexcused absences).
You take your time getting ready since you have plenty of time before your last two classes of the day. You put on some of the looser fitting, but stylish clothes your mother spent time picking out for you yesterday. She was right in thinking that the idea of wearing a lot of your clothes seemed uncomfortable.
You drive your car to school when it's time. It's the first time you've driven since you were kicked out of your house. It feels odd to be back in your car. It feels even weirder to be back at school.
You never thought you'd long for the time when people ignored you while you were pregnant, but it feels like every single person you pass down the halls notices your stomach, notices how it's flatter. It's like they're all wondering where your baby is, why you don't look happier. It's like they know you gave her away, the way they look at you confused and pitiful. It makes your pace quicken as you walk to class. Only, you encounter the same feeling from the way everyone looks at you in class. Even your teacher looks at you as if he feels sorry for you because he knows what you did. It makes you feel like running out of the room, running to the bathroom and crying. But you don't. You try to fight off all the feelings. You need to be fine. You need to get through things like this if you're going to continue your life.
By the end of class, you're trying so hard not to fall apart that you very nearly are. A couple of nicer people must notice the way your eyes are starting to get red-rimmed. They ask you if you're okay. "I'm fine," is your response. You try harder not to cry.
Your next class goes exactly the same way. You make it through them both though and thankfully just about everyone starts crying when you sing to Mr. Schue after school so it doesn't seem like you're falling apart when you cry with them.
Of course all of the glee kids ask you how you are. You tell every single one of them that you're fine. You're trying so hard to be fine. You know everything is the way it should be. You tell yourself over and over again in your head that you did the right thing. If it was the right thing, then you should be fine. You need to be fine.
Puck catches up with you after the song as you head out to your car.
"Hey," he calls. You stop and turn to him.
For the first time in days, things get awkward between you. You're not sure of what to say and he doesn't seem to know either. But despite that you're in no hurry to leave his presence (he seems to feel the same).
It takes him almost a minute, but he comes up with, "When I got to school this morning one of the ladies in the office said that your mom got my absences excused for this morning. So, uh, tell her thanks for me."
"I will," you respond. You offer, "I was surprised when she offered."
He finally seems to get to the thing he really wanted to say to you. He asks, "How are you doing?"
"Fine," you reply.
He shakes his head and informs you, "You know, you don't have to pretend with me."
You know. After everything, you certainly know that. But, "I know. I'm just…I know I need to be. This is the way things are now and I need to be okay with it. I think I could get there easier if so many people weren't always asking how I am- not that I don't appreciate the concern."
He nods like he understands your reasoning, but he still seems worried. "I've got to go to work. Still working off the whole…vandalism thing," he tells you. He hesitates before he leaves and adds, "I'm going to call you tonight though and if you don't answer I'll be climbing up your trellis again."
You go home. You spend a while figuring out the breast pump your mom bought because you're starting to get uncomfortable. Your mom asks you to help her with dinner in a clear attempt to keep you busy- which you appreciate, busy is good right now. You do your homework for the classes you went to and a couple that you shared with some of the kids from glee- they got you caught up on what you missed.
Puck calls at nine. You consider not answering so that he comes over. You feel like having him here again. But he'd probably like to spend a night in his own bed, you figure, so you answer your phone. You talk for a while. He spends a bit complaining about work, which is a nice distraction. Then you get on to the topic of his mother, how she's reacting to the weekend, or in her case, not reacting. He seems to want to say more and you almost feel like saying more too, but you both refrain. Instead, you just stall in silence for a while until you can finally hang up.
You go through what used to be your nightly rituals when you lived here last- grooming habits and such. It keeps you busy a little bit longer so you're not thinking of anything a little bit longer. Then you get in bed and try to go to sleep. When you close your eyes, you can still feel her in your arms. So you open them again and try desperately not to think of anything.
You don't know how long it takes you to fall asleep, but you do fall asleep. Until suddenly you hear crying and you bolt up in your bed. You throw your covers off and scramble to your feet. Then, you realize what you're doing. There can't be any crying, because there's no baby, not with you. She's gone. You let out a strangled sob and spend the rest of the night crying and missing her.
Tuesday is your first full day of school. You figured you weren't sleeping so there was no point to missing your classes. How you spent your night seems pretty obvious by the bags under your eyes and the redness within them. Before you leave home, your mother comments that perhaps Puck had trouble sleeping as well. You're not sure how to take that or what she really means by it.
Today you encounter three types of people. One is oblivious to you- you're grateful for these people. The second type makes cruel comments at the expense of your situation and you're glad that most of the people in your school are idiots or they may come up with more creative and hurtful things than simply calling you a whore or slut. The third type is mostly made up of glee club, some school staff, and a few random other people. These are the people who keep asking how you are. You're grateful for their concern. Truly, you are. But you wish they'd stop asking. At first you thought that if you told them you're fine they'd stop asking and therefore stop reminding you that you're not- which would give you the opportunity to actually become fine (you hope). And you hoped that maybe the repetition of telling people you're fine would make you okay. Instead, every time they ask, every time you lie (because really, what else are you going to say?), it reminds you how you feel dead inside. You feel as if some one was to ask you whether or not your heart was beating or whether or not you're breathing, you'd have to stop and think about it before you could answer because you're honestly not too sure about either.
As you walk out of your fourth class of the day (only two more, you tell yourself) with a tear in your eye because not breaking down has become such a struggle, you think maybe it's not dead, the way you feel. If you felt dead, you'd probably feel more numb than this, you probably wouldn't feel so much overwhelming sorrow. Maybe if everyone asking you how you are and you lying about it really does make you feel dead though, maybe they should ask more. Because numbness and nothingness seems so much more preferable to this agonizing pain.
Puck finds you as soon as lunch begins. He offers to sneak you off campus with him to get something to eat. You wouldn't normally agree, but you could really use a break from being here. You eat mostly in silence. You notice that he keeps a careful eye on you the whole time.
On your way back into school you talk about the meeting Mr. Schue has called for after school. You both think it's going to be good news because Puck tells you about the song Mr. Schue asked him about accompanying him on. It's as Puck's defending that he only knows "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" because his sister was obsessed with the Wizard of Oz when she was five and he couldn't get her to bed without playing it (so therefore totally not un-macho of him) that someone makes a comment about your situation in front of Puck.
It was some hockey player. Who, you're not even sure of. "Give the bastard up to an 'aunt' chastity queen?" he quips.
Puck whirls around and punches him without hesitation- not even checking to see who's made the comment behind his back before he follows through with the hit. "Feel like saying anything else?" Puck threatens the guy now on the floor with his fist cocked again.
The guy is smart enough not to say anything.
"You can't just hit people," you tell him the second he turns back to you. You're grateful but, "You could get expelled."
"Nah," he waves off. He smiles proudly and tells you, "All the teachers are too afraid of me and Figgins is the scaredest of them all. I got one of those Twilight geeks to explain the story to me and then I told him that it's Native Americans and Jewsthat turn into werewolves. So now he's way too freaked out to every try and discipline me again." He continues, seriously, "Has this jackassery been a regular thing?"
You don't want to tell him the truth because you're a bit afraid of what he may do. Just because he thinks he won't get into any trouble doesn't mean he can't. But you don't want to lie to him either so you nod a simple yes (not elaborating that something like that has been happening to you about every twenty seconds all day).
"Okay, you make a list of all of the people who have said something and I'll make sure I beat all of them up," Puck proposes.
"No, it's fine," you promise him. You know it may not be true, but you suggest, "They'll all probably forget about it by tomorrow anyway. If you go after everyone it could drag this out."
"You sure you don't want me to do anything?" Puck checks, clearly not liking the idea.
"You could walk me to class," you suggest, hoping that it doesn't elicit more whispers in the halls. He takes you up on it. (You have to hold his hand to stop him from hitting three people on the way, which does seem to elicit more whispers.)
After school, you get the good news. Glee club will be around for another year. It's hard to pretend that this actually makes you feel better like it does for everyone else. You have to work really hard to smile like everyone else.
When Puck plays with Mr. Schue though, he looks at you, and it feels a little easier to smile, a little less like pretending (for a minute at least).
You linger in the room and you're glad when you notice that Puck does too. Once you're alone, words are slipping out of your mouth before you can stop them, "Can you come over tonight?" He seems surprised by the question, nearly as much as you are that you asked. But, you suppose it makes sense. You really just…need him. "I mean, like the other night. To stay," you elaborate.
"Yeah," he agrees as soon as he's not too stunned to speak. He seems to catch on that this isn't exactly typical of you though and asks cautiously, "Something happen?"
You don't want to lie to him, to put that distance between the two of you. You don't want him to freak out or anything either though so you try to say it as if it's not that big of a deal. "I…hallucinated last night, or something. Heard her crying and I was out of bed before I realized…" you don't need to say, you know that he gets it and you're not sure you could finish your words and still make it out of here without crying more anyway.
He just nods, doesn't pry, and says, "I'll be over at ten."
You try to busy yourself after school again. Your mom seems to be constantly trying to make sure she does the same for you. Today's task from your mom is trying to find anything in your father's home office that will help her get anything she wants in the divorce. Tomorrows, she tells you, will be to donate all the rest of his clothes and personal belongings to Good Will (except the things she plans on torching in the fire pit in your back yard).
Puck shows up at ten, as promised. You leave your window open for him, which he shuts behind him. He's brought a toothbrush with him. You don't comment on it, trying to assume that it doesn't actually mean anything.
You tell him that after being up most of last night, you'd really like to just go to bed now. You're so tired. He's fine with that. He uses your bathroom and then joins you in your bed. He just lays there beside you for a while, both of you staring at the ceiling.
After a while, he seems to draw the same conclusion you have: sleep isn't coming any time too soon. He asks, "So what'd you do after school today?"
"Homework and helped my mom try and find something incriminating against my father. Tomorrow we'll be giving away and burning his things," you tell him.
"That should be fun. Burning stuff always is," he comments not surprisingly (you've known about his pyromaniac tendencies for a while).
"What'd you do?" you return.
"I watched my sister watch Up-"
"Really? What'd you think of it?" you interrupt curiously.
He shrugs and offers, "Didn't actually pay attention too much. I was cleaning up the paintball gun me and Finn bought. I figure I should probably give it back to him." He confesses, sounding like he doesn't like himself for it, "I've actually had it in my trunk for a while. Keep meaning to give it back and haven't followed through."
Finn smiled at you today, like he actually likes you again, like he's forgiven you. You should probably tell Puck that, but instead you ask something that's been on your mind for months. "You lied when you said you wouldn't be friends with him in three years anyway, didn't you?"
He glances at you and admits, "We probably would have still been friends twenty years from now if it wasn't…". He trails off, looks away, back up at the ceiling and continues, "Doesn't matter though. Wouldn't change my decision if I could. Choosing between you and him is an easy choice to make." Before you can say anything about that (what you'd say, you're not sure, but it feels like you should say something), he adds, "Besides, I think things may be starting to get better between me and Finn."
"Something happen at Sheet's 'N Things?" you tease lightly.
"Nah," he denies and then hesitates. Eventually, he forces out, "I kind of…cried, in front of everyone, when I went out and told everyone that you had had Beth and I think Finn was one of the people trying to…like…console me or whatever."
He seems to think you'd make fun of him for crying. His image as a tough guy has always been very important to him and the fact that he even did that (whether he wanted to or not) says a lot about how he feels about the both you and your daughter (not yours anymore, you remind yourself). So you turn towards him and reach for his hand, taking it in yours. Instead of commenting on something you know he probably doesn't want to remember he even actually did, you offer, "Finn smiled at me today and I think he did at you too- while you were busy playing. So I think you're right, I think the way he feels about us is starting to change."
He shrugs, glances at you and gives your hand a small squeeze as he says, "Either way, I'm good."
"Me too," you offer quietly. The fact that Finn hated you after the truth came out really bothered you for a long time. Now though (with her being gone and missing her), it doesn't seem so important anymore. If he doesn't like you again, you'll live. (Now that she's gone every breath you take hurts anyway, and nothing else matters much past that.)
You fall asleep still holding his hand. You have a nightmare that you're back in the hospital, having her, and as soon as you do a nurse rips her way from you, won't let you even see her, and refuses all of your pleas to just let you hold her. You wake up with your heart racing and tears already streaming. Puck wraps his arms around you, holds you tight, and whispers that everything will be alright. He doesn't let go even after you've calmed down and stopped crying (which takes hours) and you're glad for that, because you don't want him to.
Your mom looked in on you again early this morning, saw Puck in your bed again. She doesn't mention it this time either, just continues on with the morning as if she doesn't know anything.
When you get to school you realize you were completely wrong when you told Puck that people would forget about you by today. Cruel comments just keep on coming (as does Puck hitting people, from what you hear). You feel like telling these people that they're wasting their time. The separation from your daughter alone has seemed to destroy your ability to feel anything but anguish so the comments don't really make a difference. But these are high school kids and they won't care if they're wasting their time and couldn't begin to understand how bad you already feel anyway.
You try to get through the day as normally as possible. You go to your classes, work hard to pay attention. You do all your work and try to act as though you don't hear any of the hurtful things people say to you. You eat with Mercedes, who's eventually joined by Kurt and Artie and Tina. Puck joins you too and you know it's not for any of the other people. The glee kids have stopped asking you if you're okay every time they see you (you suspect Puck had something to do with this). Instead, they treat you as they've come to over the last several months and proceed through lunch as normally as possible.
While you're at your locker before your last class of the day, Ms. Sylvester approaches you. "Fabray," she calls as she marches over, "awesome call not alerting any of the janitorial staff at Regional's to the fact that your water broke all over a high-traffic walkway." She smiles (as much as she's capable of) as she continues, "Olivia Newton-John slipped and fell in your baby fluid- got it all over her back. And since she backed out of giving me my cut of our "Physical" video, I say that Aussie moron got what was coming to her."
You're not sure what you're supposed to say to that. You guess, "You're welcome."
She smiles a little again, glances you up and down and says, "You know, you're looking more like Cheerio material again. And since glee club is sticking around I could certainly use my number one spy again."
This is quite a surprise. You check, thinking you must be misunderstanding her, "Are you asking me back on the team?"
"Of course not," she denies. She considers, "Well, who am I kidding? At least five Cheerios have a mental breakdown after each National's so we'll certainly have some spaces open. I'm not guaranteeing you one of them. But if you're interested, you know when and where we practice over the summer."
"Every day for eight hours on the football field," you recall. She nods, confirming that's still correct. You're truly shocked she's being nice enough to invite you back (even if it comes with the condition that she gets her spy back). But you've already thought about this. You tell her what you're sure will be your ultimate decision as simply as you can, "Thank you for the offer, but I don't think I'll be feeling like cheering about anything any time soon." The idea of having to muster up a smile so frequently sounds impossible given how you currently feel.
She nods, seeming to understand. She shocks you again offering, "Well, you change your mind, you still know where you can find us Fabray." She heads off behind you after that. You turn and watch her march away and you see a football player with a slushie heading your direction. Apparently, she sees it too and either catches on to where it's likely headed or she's just having a moment of random harassment because she hits the drink up into the football player's face, effectively covering him in it as she dryly says, "Whoops."
Puck finds you at the end of the day as you're heading to your car. As he falls into stride beside you, he gets right to the point and says, "I'm coming over tonight." You open your mouth to respond, though with what you're not quite sure. But he continues quickly, "Nights are hard. I'm not letting you go through them alone."
He's got a point there. Nights seem to be when everything you try to fight off all day catches up with you. And honestly, you like that he's right there, within reach. He's been the only thing to really comfort you since…since she's been gone (you have trouble with that thought every time: gone). He looks like he expects an argument. So when you respond, "Okay," he's surprised. He doesn't question it though and lets you go your separate ways before you can take it back.
You go home after school, do your homework, and help your mother try to sort through your father's things. Deciding whether something should be donated or burned takes her far longer than she thought it would. The pile of stuff to burn keeps getting bigger and bigger.
Exactly at ten, Puck shows up again and the night proceeds exactly like the previous night. Only, instead of the nightmare, you have the hallucination of her crying again and again you start to get out of bed before you realize that she's not there. Again, it's Puck that consoles you and helps you put yourself back together through all the sobs.
You hear your mom check in on you again in the early morning, see Puck there again. This time though, she doesn't ignore it. Once Puck is gone and you've gotten ready for school and headed downstairs for breakfast, she comments, "You know, maybe Puck would like to come over for dinner tonight. The house has been feeling empty for a long time, better now that you're back of course, but we could certainly use the company." She adds on as she's reading the paper, "And then maybe he could use the stairs instead of continuing to destroy our trellis."
You stop eating, stunned. You manage to choke out, "You'd be okay with that?"
She puts the paper down, takes a long look at you, and tells you, "You know, I wasn't really surprised by how your father initially reacted to you being pregnant. I was shocked too. It was the last thing I expected. And I could understand him being thrown and reacting poorly, but I honestly thought that with a little space he'd come around. I thought the fact that you were gone and he couldn't see you every day would actually make him okay with the idea faster- it did for me. So I kept waiting for him to mention you, kept waiting for him to say he'd made a mistake. But days kept passing, weeks and months. I kept thinking, "How could he still not want you back in his life no matter what?" And then I started mentioning you, mentioning wanting you back and he'd just ignore it. So I started to think, "What's he spending all his time on if it's not wanting you back?" Because wanting you back was certainly how I spent all my time, you're my baby girl. So I started following him and that's how I found out about the affair. It turns out he wasn't the man I thought he was, not at all. I'm not going to pretend I'm a good judge of character, obviously I'm not. I'm also not going to let anything come between me and you ever again. If Puck makes you feel…better, if you need him, then he's welcome here anytime. And I'm so sorry I let your father keep me away from you for so long."
You've never been particularly close to your mother, but you think that's going to change now. You've never understood her either, but you're sure you're starting to now. You're really glad you let her back in your life because it seems like she's not going to hold your past mistakes against you, and you can certainly try to do the same for her. Though you sort of wish she told you this at another time because now you're crying right before school, which means going to school looking like you've cried.
"Thank you mom," you tell her sincerely.
She smiles at you and says, "It's just the two of us now and since the way your father liked to do things didn't work for either one of us, I think we should start doing things differently, new traditions, more open communication, it'll be good for us. And us living in direction opposition to ways your father wanted us to should really bother him so it's win-win."
That makes you laugh a little through your tears. Your mom gets you one of those cold gel masks to wear while you finish eating, hoping that it will make your eyes look normal again (it helps a little). And you hug her before you leave for school, which you're not sure you've done since you were five. But it felt good. This is going to be a good change in your life, you can tell already.
School goes exactly the same as it has all week. Cruel comments from fellow students, the kids from glee being nice to you, and the feeling that you have to fight not to cry every single second hangs with you again.
You tell Puck about your mother's invitation. He seems surprised by it, but goes with it anyway. The trellis is really hard to climb, though a pretty good workout for his arms. He's especially on board with coming over when you tell him that your mother burning your father's things got pushed back to this afternoon instead of yesterday.
Puck follows you home after school and parks in your driveway instead of down the block like he's been doing. You ask him if he wants to go home for a while before dinner, but he just shrugs and says there's no point. You try to get him to do his homework while you wait for your mom to return (she left a note that she went to buy lighter fluid).
When your mom returns and you both go downstairs to see her, things get a bit odd. Your mom and Puck are interacting not only civilly, but like they even like each other. Puck mentions that destroying things before you burn them can be even more satisfying that just lighting them on fire. Your mom responds that she already cut your father's clothes into little bits (maybe you should be concerned about that). After you've watched your mother burn your father's favorite clothes (and Puck help her), Puck suggests that he has his paintball gun in his trunk and would your mom like to go use it on your dad or his car? Surprisingly, your mom takes a rain check- she needs to start dinner.
All of this should probably be extremely weird and to a degree it is. But it's also very nice. Your mom is trying to be your mom and Puck is participating in your life despite how strange it's become. It's like they're both trying really hard to show you that they're here for you, that they're your family, and you appreciate that. (And you wish it made you feel better, the way they're being. But no matter how good this is, it only seems to make you feel even slightly better for fractions of seconds.)
You all eat dinner together. There's actual conversation as you eat and it feels like a real family (which reminds you of who's missing from it and you end up almost crying into your roast chicken).
Puck stays over. You have the crying hallucination thing again tonight. You don't make it out of bed before you realize it's not real this time, but realizing she's not here sooner than usual doesn't reduce the amount of tears you cry at all.
In the morning, Puck leaves to go home and get ready for school. You wish he didn't have to go. His presence doesn't erase your pain, but he makes feeling it seem okay.
Friday progresses like every other day of school this week. As the day is ending you're starting to think that you're getting used to all of this. The way you feel now, the way people treat you now, the way you have to fight to make it through the day. Or at least, you almost thought you were getting used to it, until you were just shutting your locker at the end of the day and about to head to the parking lot.
You heard a girl shouting loudly down the hall, "Beth! Beth!"
Somewhere, you hear someone call quieter, "Tiffany!" But you don't really hear that, you've already completely fallen apart.
The second you heard her name you froze and water started to flood your eyes and your lip started to shake. Then, you made a really big mistake, and put your hand on your stomach, felt how it was flatter, empty, because she's not there. Your daughter is gone. And as you break down you try to hurry from the hall, from the scrutiny of your fellow students. The choir room is the closest thing for you to duck into and you race through the back door and fall apart against it, sinking to the ground.
It hurts so bad. It's as if your heart's been ripped out all over again, for the hundredth time now, and the space where it used to be just throbs and radiates throughout your entire being.
The main door to the room opens and you're crying too hard not to be noticed immediately. Then, Rachel is in front of you. "Quinn?" she says, seeming both surprised and unsure.
You're sobbing too hard to respond though. You can't stop yourself. It just hurts. It hurts more than anything has ever hurt before. It hurts more than you thought anything could hurt. She was with you, and now she's not, and she won't be ever again.
As you cry harder, gasping for air in the process, Rachel says, "I'm just going to sit here with you. Okay?"
You think you managed a nod, but you're honestly not sure. She puts a hand on your arm tentatively, clearly trying to help you.
A minute or so later you hear the door open again. You manage to make out that it's Finn from the blurry state your sight is in. He begins, clearly not understanding anything that may be going on, "Wha-"
But then the door opens again and Puck's right in front of you as quickly as you realize it was him that raced through the door. Rachel promptly gets up so Puck can take the rest of the space in front of the door next to you. He pulls you into his arms, holds you tight, and keeps whispering that it's going to be alright, that he's here.
You close your eyes tight, trying to will yourself to stop crying, to stop aching so badly. When you open your eyes only Rachel seems to be in the room, watching wearily from across the room. This change makes sense in another minute when Finn and Mr. Schue come racing through the door. They all huddle up, keep glancing your way concerned. Maybe they do more too, but you're still crying so much you miss anything else.
You're not sure how long it takes (a half hour), but you calm down, manage to slow your tears, heart rate, and breathing. Once you seem to have a hold of yourself again, Puck stands up and pulls you to your feet. He keeps glancing at Mr. Schue, who's sitting at the piano now. Instead of leaving with you like you thought he may do, he says, "How about we just hang here for a minute?" You don't really care about anything at the moment so you just nod and let him lead you to the chairs on the risers. After you've sat down, he heads towards Mr. Schue. Rachel, who had been over with Mr. Schue, notices this and makes a beeline for you. Finn follows.
They seem to think that it'd be a good idea to distract you and normally it probably would be appreciated.
Rachel starts with, "You know, any day of the week that you may have stumbled in here, I'd be here. I practice every day- multiple times actually. My dreams demand it." It sounds typically self absorbed of Rachel, but at the same time it is clear that she's letting you know that should this happen again, you know where to find her if you want.
"Today Finn was supposed to practice a new song with me," she continues. She adds tightly, "Though what song, I have no idea, since someone keeps suggesting that we do Metallica, which is completely inappropriate for show choir."
"Metallica is always appropriate, it's Metallica," he argues. He continues on pointedly, "Besides, just about anything is better than doing a song from the musical version of Legally Blonde, which someone else keeps suggesting."
"I suggested a variety of other popular numbers from Tony or Academy Award winning musicals but you shot all those down too," Rachel returns, "and all for Metallica- which is not always appropriate, it's never appropriate, it doesn't even deserve to be called music." You hear Finn balk at that, but before he has the chance to verbalize a response, Rachel continues, "I'm right, right Quinn?"
It takes you about thirty seconds to realize that they're staring at you and awaiting a response to something. You can only manage a, "Huh?" and then they're off talking again. You follow the conversation even less than before, which is saying something since you weren't following much to begin with. Instead you were intently watching Mr. Schue and Puck talk by the piano. You think you caught the words "night" "hallucinations" "what to do." You don't really hear anything else and you suppose what they're talking about doesn't really matter much anyway. It's not like anything that could possibly come of it could make you feel any worse than you already do.
It isn't very long before Puck comes back over to you (though despite the short time Rachel and Finn manage to have quite the fruitless debate/argument). "You wanna get out of here or keep listening to these two fight?" he asks with a gesture. He adds, "And Metallica kicks ass by the way."
Before Finn could have a chance to be grateful for Puck's support, you find yourself sucked into this thing and countering, "No it doesn't. Their songs don't even sound like music."
Puck sighs harshly, his jaw tightens, then he shakes his head and decides, "Nope. We're leaving. I'm not getting sucked into someone else's argument with you." He holds out a hand to you to help you up. You take it and don't let go as you follow him out.
Before you get to the door, you realize while they may not have done much, they stayed, they were there, so you offer to Finn and Rachel (Mr. Schue already left), "Thank you." You turn around and head out with Puck, but before you do you catch Finn looking surprised and Rachel smiling.
Puck walks you to your car and asks you for your keys. Apparently, he doesn't think you should drive yourself. You're honestly not sure you'd be able to make it through the twelve-minute drive home on your own anyway, so you don't protest. He drives you home in your car. He holds your hand the whole way, as if he's trying to give you something to hang on to so you don't fall apart again. And you realize that is what he's been for you- he's helped you from breaking and helped you put yourself back together every time you do.
You get back home and he wraps an arm around you as he escorts you upstairs. You lean into him, letting him support you. Your mom pops up out of the family room and sees you two climbing the stairs. She looks worried and Puck explains simply, "Bad day." She just nods and doesn't press for more information right now.
Puck suggests that you should get some rest. For nearly a week now you've felt like curling up in bed and never waking up so the idea sounds pretty good.
He helps you get settled in bed and then takes a seat on the floor next to your bed. "You wanna talk about it?" he asks, but he quickly rephrases, "Or can you talk about it?"
You shake your head no. You definitely can't talk about what happened, what you felt (feel) without falling apart again.
"Eventually though, you'll tell me about it, right?" he questions, clearly not wanting to let this go because he seems to know what a big deal it is.
You nod yes, but you're honestly not sure that you'll ever be able to explain it to him or that you'll feel like talking about it.
He stays with you until your eyes have gotten heavy and you've shut them. You hear him get up and walk out of your room then, but he doesn't get far because you can hear him with your mother somewhere nearby in the hall despite the fact that they sound like they're whispering.
"She's asleep now," Puck tells her, which explains why he left since he thinks you did actually fall asleep.
"What happened?" you hear your mother ask concerned.
"I don't know. As I was going to leave school, look for her in the parking lot as usual, I got a text from Rachel that said "9-1-1. Quinn. Choir room." I got there as fast as I could and she was crying in the corner. And yeah, she does that every night, crying so much, but she's never done it at school before. I've seen her put up with a lot of real bad comments from other kids lately too and they never make her cry like that so I don't know what it could have been." He sounds so stressed and worried about you.
Your mom tries to reassure him. She offers, "Well, we'll figure it out eventually. What you two just did, what you're going through, it's probably one of the most difficult things anyone could ever do so it's going to take some time before anything can start to get better." She adds, "How are you doing with everything?"
"I don't know," he says again. He tries to explain, "I miss her and I hate what this is doing to Quinn, but I know we did the right thing. We did what we had to for her. But it does suck."
"How's your family dealing with it?" your mom asks. You figured she'd get around to questioning why he's here so much and why his family doesn't seem to care eventually.
"My mom's still not. Well, I guess she sort of is considering she hates me for being mad at her for not even wanting to be a part of any of it all and constantly ignoring that anything was happening," Puck considers.
"I'm sure that's not true. She probably doesn't actually hate you," your mother tries to assure.
"I'm pretty sure she does. But it really doesn't matter anymore. I don't care," Puck says, but you know his dad not being around was a big deal for him and now that it seems his mom has drifted away, you know that can't be easy for him.
There's a significant pause and you want to open your eyes and see what's going on, but, if they can see you from wherever they are, they'd know you're awake and the conversation would probably stop.
Eventually, you hear Puck begin, "This is kind of weird and I understand if it's not cool with you, but would you mind if I went home and got some stuff together and came back here…for the weekend?" He adds on honestly, "I just…don't want to leave her."
"Of course. You should probably go while she's still asleep," your mom responds, to your surprise. Though, after the way she's been this week, you suppose it really shouldn't surprise you. When she continues though, it still does, "You know, you're welcome here anytime Puck. You're the father of my granddaughter, you're family." She amends, "Though down the road you'll only be welcome to spend the night in the guest room, not Quinn's bedroom. And if she ever doesn't want you here you won't be welcome of course. I'd have to side with my daughter's wishes if a situation like that ever came up."
"Understood," Puck assures and adds, "Thanks."
Puck tells your mom he'll be back in a few minutes and she promises to call if you wake up before he returns. You try to actually fall asleep now that you don't have a conversation you want to hear keeping you up. But, as always, it's hard to ignore all the things you feel that bubble up in quite moments like this. It's been a hard day and that does catch up with you in a bit, it'd just be nice if it came sooner so you didn't have to feel…anything.
You manage to get an hour of sleep and to get it without a nightmare or hallucination. When you open your eyes and sit up in your bed, you find Puck has returned. He's at your computer, apparently going through your bookmarked web pages because why else would he be on Stanford's website?
He notices you're awake, glances at you, and turns back to the screen as he comments, "You've got a lot of colleges bookmarked. Dork."
"At least I'm going to graduate. Slacker," you return.
"I'm going to graduate," Puck defends, "those teachers don't want me there another year, they'll push me through."
"Slipping through the cracks. What a goal," you say sarcastically.
"It's easier than actually working. Plus, I'm ending up in the same place as you anyway," he says, and tenses like he wishes he could take something back.
"Yeah, you'll get into Stanford," is sarcastically out of your mouth before you catch on. "Or," you say, thinking you may have figured out what he had actually unintentionally said, "do you mean that you want to go wherever I go?"
He tries to evade a direct answer. Looking caught, he tries, "That depends. Half of the places you picked really suck. I mean, Arizona? You seriously want to live in the desert? What the hell for?"
You let him continue to criticize some of your choices because one, it's good insight to where he may like to be and if he was to come with you somewhere, you'd want it to be somewhere that he didn't hate. But more importantly you don't need to try and get a better answer about all this out of him right now anyway. If he wants to backtrack, you should let him. Leaving would be far off anyway and the two of you probably aren't ready for this discussion to begin with, so you let it get dropped and transition into a new topic.
You eat dinner with Puck and your mom again. You try to let them distract you, but the fact that it feels like a family starts to get to you again and you have to work at not crying.
After dinner you watch a movie with both of them and do successfully distract yourself for a bit. Puck heads up to bed with you eventually. He doesn't ever mention that he's staying and that he brought some of his things over so he wouldn't have to go home. It's as if he's not giving you a choice as to whether he's there, he's just going to be here. You're grateful and you don't care if he's not giving you a choice. You want him here.
Tonight, you have a nightmare. In it, it's as if you're having a cesarean and you're watching the doctors take your daughter out of you. Only you also seem to be paralyzed, because you can't move and your voice seems to be gone. You're trying to scream at them not to take her away, but they do and there's nothing you can do about it. Your cries seem to fall on deaf ears and you can't get their attention any other way because you literally can't move a muscle below your neck. Only, in reality you can move and you have a voice and you're doing both (screaming and thrashing around) as Puck shakes you awake. You startle awake, looking around in a panic, your hands flying to your stomach to assure you, you haven't been sliced open. But then you realize what you dreamt and where your hands are and, just like every other night, you start sobbing.
Puck wraps his arms around you, tries to comfort you like he always does. You must have been screaming pretty loud because your mom comes rushing through your door. She looks like she doesn't know what to do, but wants to do something. After a while of just standing in your doorway, she comes to your side of the bed, sits down on the end of it, and takes you hand. She seemed to settle on just letting you know that she's there.
When your tears are starting to tapper off, your mom suggests, "Maybe an Ambient would help. You need some good sleep honey and I got a bunch of samples of them from my doctor when I complained about your father's snoring."
Getting through a night without something causing a breakdown sounds both good and bad. A full night of sleep sounds good because you've been exhausted for what's felt like a long time now. But, as awful as every night is, if you didn't have them you'd have one less thing of her (and you already have so few). As awful as it is, you can't give it up. "No," you tell your mom. "I'll be fine," you lie.
She doesn't look reassured, but decides to leave you to try and get some sleep. You try to settle back into bed, lying in Puck's arms now. He's been so good to you, always here when you need him. There are really some things you should say about that, things you've been meaning to say. You start with simply, "Thank you." He looks down at you, seeming surprised. You continue, "For showing up when I needed you today, for always being here. I don't know if I'd be…surviving this if you weren't here."
"Well you don't have to worry about me not being here," he promises.
And this is where you should probably re-address the issue that was brought up in front of the nursery at the hospital. You hadn't gotten back to that yet and you know you need to. But something keeps the words from coming out. Fear (you've never said anything like this and actually meant it) or guilt (it was your idea to give away your daughter, now that she's gone maybe the way he felt about you changed- you really couldn't blame him if it did, how you feel about yourself has certainly changed) or something else you're not even aware of that's just there and stopping you. So you don't say anything, just curl into him further and try to sleep (praying that there won't be a nightmare or hallucination this time).
You get up late Saturday morning- thankfully finally sleeping a few consecutive hours without interruption. Puck tries to make an argument for staying in your pajamas. But you've never really gotten that whole not getting dressed thing. A shower and clean clothes make you feel a little more like you're actually continuing to live after… basically, they help in the smallest of ways. Puck follows suit and actually gets dressed too.
You don't have plans to go anywhere or do anything. You don't say it, but you both know what today is. As of nine minutes past five today, your daughter will be one week old. It'll be a week since you finally got to meet her and just a little over a day short of a week since you last saw her. All of this will come, and you're dreading all of it.
Puck seems to think that distractions may help you both, only, much to your annoyance, his idea for distractions is a Rocky movies marathon. Thankfully, fifteen minutes into the first one, the doorbell rings.
You hear your mom answer it followed by, "Mrs. Fabray, I'm Rachel Berry. We met last week at the hospital. I'm in glee club with your daughter and-"
"I remember dear," you hear your mother cut her off, with just a bit of edge to her voice (your mother must have learned about Rachel's ranting tendency). She continues, "And Finn, it's nice to see you. I assume you're both here to see Quinn- her and Puck are in the family room, come on in."
It's only takes a few seconds for Rachel to come marching in the room confidently. Finn enters a little wary. Then your mother comes in and announces, "Well, it's been a long time since I've had so many kids in the house. You're of course welcome to stay as long as you want and I'll leave you kids to…whatever. But, Quinn honey, I'm going to meet Sherri and Tracy in a bit- I'm going to compare their lawyers to see which one will be more ruthless with your father for the divorce- so I'll be gone for a bit, but I should be back long before dinner. Okay?"
You nod and your mother smiles at the room again before leaving you alone.
Puck pauses the movie and waits for whatever they're here for just like you're doing.
Predictably, it's Rachel who dives in and gets things started. "We hope you don't mind," she begins as she sits down in the chair next to the couch you and Puck are on, "but we decided we didn't have anything to do today and we figured we should just stop by and see how you both were doing." She smiles, actually seeming a bit…nervous…or apprehensive maybe. She keeps glancing up at Finn, who's still standing a bit awkwardly just inside the doorway. She sighs eventually and rolls her eyes at him. She blurts, "Plus Finn had something he wanted to discuss with Puck."
You glance between both Finn and Puck at that. Puck seems surprised, his eyebrows shooting up. Finn concedes that Rachel ousted him and tries to make the best of it stumbling, "Yeah, I do. Uh, you wanna like…?" He gestures to leave.
Puck glances at you, like he's not sure he should leave you (or possibly not sure he should leave you with Rachel). You try to discretely nod your head, letting him know that it's okay. This seems like it could be a good thing so he should go after it. So he gets up and heads towards Finn. He suggests for a place for them to talk alone, "Kitchen?"
Great. Now your mom will need to stop at the grocery store before she comes home- they're teenaged boys in a kitchen, so them eating most of the contents of the fridge seems certain. But it doesn't matter. They're talking, that's what's important.
Rachel, like you, watches them go until the door to the kitchen across the foyer swings shut behind them. Although, unlike you, Rachel immediately suggests, "Let's go listen."
"What?" you question. Sure you'd like to know whatever they say and you know there's very little chance Puck will tell you any of it. But you weren't really as conniving as people thought- your first instinct was not to spy.
"You know it's the only way either one of us will find out what's going on. And I don't know about you, but after listening to Finn keep saying he should probably talk to Puck for nearly a whole day now- though never divulging what about- I'm far too curious to pretend that I don't want to listen," Rachel rationalizes. She continues, "So this is your house, where would be a good place to hear what's going on in your kitchen?"
You want to respect their privacy. But it seems like Rachel will be listening either way so you may as well listen with her. After all, this concerns you far more than it concerns her. So you sigh and answer, "The door to the kitchen from the dinning room." Then you get up and lead the way there- both of you tip-toeing as you get close.
The first thing you hear as you've both settled in carefully leaning against the door is Finn asking, "How about pretzels?"
Then a few seconds later, "Yep."
"Any dip?" Finn asks.
A few seconds later, "Nope."
So you were right about them raiding your cupboards and fridge. You really should call your mom and let her know she may want to stop at the grocery store before coming home.
Then you hear Finn comment, "You seem to know your way around here pretty well."
"Been spending a lot of time here lately," Puck responds.
There's a pause and then Finn says, "I figured. That's why we came here instead of going to your house." He pauses again (possibly takes a deep breath, you can't be sure) and says what he seemed to come to say, "I came to tell you that I'm sorry. I… jumped to conclusions about…everything and then stopped talking to you because of them and then I kind of ignored that we weren't friends any more. I…I didn't know how you felt about her and that changes things. It doesn't make it okay exactly, but it changes things."
"I'm sorry too," Puck is quick to jump in, "I should have told you. I knew I should of, especially before anything happened and even after, but I…just didn't."
Finn knows Puck pretty well and he seems to catch on to why Puck may not tell him. Instead of calling him on knowing that some things are difficult for Puck to say though, Finn asks, "You even told her how you feel yet?"
Given the way you and Puck have been with each other for the last few months you understand the question. It's actually a really good one. For the last few months of your pregnancy your and Puck's relationship was a mess. Most of the time you weren't even sure if you were something or not. Things are certainly different now though and surprisingly that didn't really have anything to do with the fact that Puck did tell you how he feels, but more that he's been constantly showing you how he feels.
"Yeah," you hear Puck answer. "Well, sort of," he amends, "it was kind of bad timing."
"I did that too!" Finn exclaims. "I kind of told Rachel how I feel about her, it just kind of slipped out with the worst timing ever."
You glance at Rachel, surprised that you hadn't noticed her and Finn were together. You'd think that if they were (again-sort of) she'd be so happy she'd be making a spectacle of it. But she's looking at you a bit surprised (you suppose about what Puck admitted) and a little guilty.
There's a lull in the kitchen until Finn asks, "How are you doing with…everything?"
"Honestly?" Puck begins, "Its killing Quinn and it's killing me and…I don't know what to do about it. We did the right thing; I know that. I probably would have turned out being like my dad to Beth if we had to try and be parents to her now. It's for the best that she's gone, but it really sucks too."
"You're never going to turn out like your dad," Finn assures. He adds, "I mean, I know you guys had other reasons why you couldn't keep her, but you're really never going to be your dad. You're already way better than him."
"I don't know," Puck returns, "If I had to try and support her working at Sheets 'N Things I probably would've turned to crime and then ended up in and out of jail like my dad did towards the end."
"You wouldn't get caught like your dad, you're smarter than him," Finn offers. Then he reasons, "Although getting caught was what led us to working at Sheets 'N things in the first place, but that was total crap. And we still need to do something to get back at Vocal Adrenaline for egging Rachel."
"Something worse and that we don't get caught doing this time," Puck agrees.
The conversation quickly descends into scheming from there and you're pretty quick to give up on it. You've heard enough. It wasn't really what you expected, though you're not entirely sure what you expected, but it seemed good all the same.
You head back to the family room and your place on the couch to wait for Puck and Finn to finish so you can continue with the day.
You figured Rachel would stay at the door and continue listening, but surprisingly, she follows you back and returns to the chair she was sitting in before. You suppose she doesn't want to get caught either.
In the silence, you start thinking of what Puck said, how your daughter being gone is killing you and it's killing him. Like him, you know that you made the right decision for her. You're sixteen, you never would have been able to give her the life you want her to have. But knowing that hasn't made this any easier like you assumed it would. And he's right; it really is killing you.
With your thoughts spiraling downward, it's probably a good thing that Rachel interrupts them prying, "So Puck told you he loves you?"
This is not something you'd really like to talk about with Rachel- or with anyone for that matter. You nod in response and hope the fact that you didn't offer a verbal reply is a clear sign to her that you don't want to talk about it.
She doesn't catch on to that. "Did you tell him you love him?" She quickly continues, "I don't mean to pry, it's just that I haven't said it back to Finn yet. Not that I don't feel the same it's just…". For the first time that you've ever seen, Rachel actually seems to be at a loss for words. She offers, "I don't know. For one I suppose the timing hasn't felt right since he said it and I don't want to do it like Finn- randomly and at a poorly chosen moment. There's something else stopping me too though. I'm just not sure what it is."
You understand the timing thing and having at least one other thing making you hesitant. You really didn't want to talk about this, but you can relate to what she's saying so you answer, "I haven't said it back yet either, for similar reasons."
She nods, seeming a little disappointed. You figure, maybe she was hoping you'd have some answer for her and maybe she didn't expect you to actually be in the same spot as her in it.
Puck and Finn come back in then, but instead of returning to sitting next to you, Puck leans over the back of the couch and asks, "Is it cool if I leave with Finn real quick? I almost forgot I left my car at school until he mentioned that it wasn't in the driveway and he made the really good point that I've kind of pissed off a lot people who would probably trash it if they notice I left it there."
"It's fine," you say. You don't want him to leave. You've been spending so much time with him you're not sure you know how to be without him any more. But he's going to do something with Finn and even if it's a small thing, it's a big step in a good direction for them finally and you know you need to encourage it (it's always felt like it was your fault they stopped being friends in the first place).
"Cool. And we're stopping by the store on our way there cause we have to replace some of your mom's stuff. There anything you want?" he asks thoughtfully.
You shake your head no and he says, "Alright, then we'll be right back." He hesitates for a few seconds, as if he's waiting for you to change your mind or make it clear that you need him here, but you're okay at the moment so he leaves.
Rachel seems a bit thrown. She probably wasn't expecting to be left alone with you- someone she's still not really friends with- for so long. But Rachel's optimism kicks in and tries to make the best of the situation. She asks, "So what were you watching?"
"Rocky," you answer, your disdain for it apparently not coming through.
Rachel begins, "Well, okay, I guess-"
"Oh I don't want to watch it. That was all Puck's idea," you clarify.
"Good," she breathes relieved. "I really have no desire to watch Sylvester Stalone box."
Neither do you so you switch the TV back to cable and start scrolling through the listings.
After a couple of minutes and a few hundred channels of nothing to watch later, Rachel suddenly blurts, "I talked to my mom, on Monday." She corrects herself, "Shelby."
Your heart speeds up at the mention of her, hammering harder in your chest. For the first time, you realize how awkward this is. You're sitting here with the biological child of the person you gave your daughter to. Only, the person sitting here has never known her as a mother. Instead, she got replaced, in a way, by your daughter.
"I know you probably don't want to hear my thoughts, probably ever, and I won't mention…[your daughter, her new daughter- you know those are the words she skips], but I wanted to let you know that I think Shelby's going to be a good mom," Rachel offers, having forged ahead with her comment even though she looked like she thought she shouldn't.
The near mention of your daughter has you desperate for a distraction. You don't want to end up sobbing in front of Rachel again. So, even though mentioning her new mother is also heart wrenching, you ask hoping that it turns the topic of conversation to Rachel (something you know she can ramble about forever, therefore offering you a lengthy distraction), "She mentioned what she told you at Regional's. I wouldn't think you'd have such a good opinion of her after that."
"I didn't," she admits, "but like I said, I talked to her again and we got some things cleared up." She rambles explaining, "I called her upset because it felt like as soon as she told me she didn't want to be in my life, her actual daughter's life, she went out and got a new one. But she explained why she said all of that to me, why she tried to put some more permanent distance between us and she was right. She said that I was trying to create a role for her in my life that she could never fill and that she shouldn't fill because I already had my dads. And I knew that she couldn't be my mom in the same ways that other girls have their moms. She's missed so much and I knew there was no getting any of it back. But I…was trying to hard, like I always do and my intentions became unclear and then just messed up. I never meant to have her replace my dads, but after she mentioned that it seemed like I was doing that in the way I was trying to create a relationship with her, I realized my dads have seemed hurt lately. And they're really the best parents ever. I'm not an easy person to love and they've loved me and showered me with affection my entire life. I never meant to hurt them." That guilt you've seen hanging with Rachel makes sense now. She tries to smile a little as she tells you, "Shelby caught on to all of that and made sure I stopped pursuing a relationship with her in the way I was before I messed up the really good ones I already had. She's smart like that- I get that from her. And she does want to know me, but after everything I know she had a point when she said I wasn't ready for it. All of it showed me though, that she's good at putting the needs and best interests of a child first and so…I just thought you should know that." She adds as an afterthought, "Though you probably already do, considering."
And while all of Rachel's rambling about her own life and problems had been a nice distraction, by the end of her rant she managed to work right back to the place you didn't want to be.
She catches on to the fact that even alluding to Beth doesn't leave you in a very good state. "I'm sorry," she apologizes, "you probably didn't want to hear any of that."
While the last bit that got back to your daughter wasn't something you wanted to hear, it was reassuring to hear about Shelby being a good mom. When she mentioned what she had said to Rachel to you at the hospital, you didn't think that it made much sense. But you had so many other things to consider the lack of logic was forgotten. It was good to hear that there was actual sense in her decisions and that she seemed to do what was best for Rachel- a daughter who wasn't even really her own- because it is hopefully a sign that she'll always do what's best for your daughter too. So you return, "No. It's okay actually. Its good to know that someone who knows her better thinks the same of her as I came to."
She smiles, seeming glad that she got to do something good for you. She's smart enough not to continue to dwell though and starts telling you the plan for glee club she plans on pitching to Mr. Schue on Monday to start preparing all of you for Sectionals next year. You hope to God that Mr. Schue doesn't go along with her plan- it's demanding and a bit insane.
Puck and Finn return after about a half hour. Oddly enough the come back with a pizza despite the fact that it's the middle of the afternoon, you and Puck just had lunch a few hours ago, they just snacked their way through your kitchen, and you'll be having dinner in a few hours.
Puck tries to get you to return to watching Rocky, which Finn unfortunately supports. Luckily Rachel is on your side (though she seemed a little surprised when Finn settled into the chair next to her like they'd be staying a while- you suppose they didn't talk about how long they'd hang out with you) and she has a tendency to get what she wants. That's how you end up watching Sister Act II- Rachel thinks you can all learn something from watching the choirs in it.
During the montage of the kids and nuns renovating their classroom/rehearsal space, the time becomes nine minutes after five. You're pretty sure your heart stopped beating and you stopped breathing by five o'clock, but as the exact minute she was born strikes you can't help the tears that silently start flooding out. You're grateful no one draws attention to this; it makes it a little easier to live through. And you're grateful for Puck, who just holds you a little tighter, letting you know he's there, you're there, and you're both going to survive.
Your mom returns a little bit later with tons of take-out from the Chinese food restaurant your father hated most. With as much food as she brought back you think she assumed Rachel and Finn would be staying for dinner, which they do. After dinner, they seem to continue to make an effort to keep you distracted and you attempt to play a series of board games (Clue, Scene It, Trivial Pursuit, and Scattergories). But Rachel's overly competitive and Puck doesn't do well with losing so you don't manage to finish any of them before someone doesn't want to play any more.
Eventually Finn and Rachel leave. Finn gives you a quick hug on their way out and though there wasn't a conversation between the two of you about what happened (what you did), it feels like forgiveness. You hope this means that both of you will be friends with Finn again now- even if that means having to be friends with Rachel as well.
It's been a really difficult day again. It marked a week since your daughter was born and made you miss her all the more. Both of those things made it even more of a struggle not to break down and cry at every second of the day. They made it more painful to continue to breathe in and out all day long and know with each inhale and exhale that she's not yours anymore. So, you don't pretend you're going to sleep in your own sides of the bed tonight. Instead, you rest your head on Puck's chest and curl into him, let him hold you because you really need this today.
As has become routine, you two talk for a little bit as you lay there, before you try and go to sleep. Today, you start out, "You said something to Finn, didn't you? About staying that long?"
"Yeah," he answers honestly. "We were driving to get my car and he asked if there was anything he could do, you know, to help us. Distractions can help for a little while, I've noticed, so I asked if he'd be willing to help with that for a bit."
"Thank you," you tell him sincerely. You probably wouldn't have done much more than wallow and cry if you hadn't had company and their distractions today.
You remember what you said to Rachel earlier, how you identified with her situation. You remember what you were thinking of last night about what was stopping you from returning those particular words to Puck- fear and guilt. Well, based on the sentiment he expressed to Finn today it doesn't seem like how Puck feels about you has changed in the slightest despite what you did and he doesn't hold you responsible (even if you do). So that gets rid of one of the things that was holding you back. The fear over saying something so important that you've never said and actually meant before (and to someone who technically dated someone else while you were seven months pregnant) is still there though. But, as you lay here and feel safe and comforted and cared for in his arms, you think that this is too important to let fear keep stopping you.
"I loved you too. Especially now," you tell him softly, echoing some of his words from before. You've felt this way a while- though you've only recently become certain of it- and you don't want to go on not acknowledging it. This is by far the best thing about your life right now and it's not making you feel less horrible, but it's provided you with moments where you think that despite how much it hurts to live without her, the rest of your life may just turn out okay. So you told him, finally (and you hope it makes you feel better on a day that felt so bad and a day coming that's probably going to be worse.)
You look up at him and he's smiling at you. "Really?" he checks.
You nod, and you smile too, actually feeling a little good for the first time in nearly a week. "Yeah," you confirm, feeling like you need to verbalize that you meant it.
Before you can blink, he's slid you out of his arms, your back now on the mattress as he leans over you and kisses you. One long, passionate kiss. It brings you back to that day about nine months ago where you were in this very position. That thought reminds you of what may be happening here though so as soon as he breaks away you begin a bit breathlessly, "I-"
"Don't worry," he interrupts as he slides back in bed, laying down next to you again and pulling you back to lay on his chest, "I'm good. Not going to try and do more right now. There's no rush." You know how different waiting is for him and you're glad that he's willing to do that for you- it once again speaks to the way he feels about you.
"Took you long enough to tell me," he teases.
You take his hand, intertwine your fingers with his and leave them resting on his chest, but you don't say anything else. You'd like to tell him how the timing just hasn't felt right because of how you've felt since…last Sunday and you didn't want to associate this moment with that intense feeling that's been overwhelming you. But, you needed to tell him and that's really the reason you did now. If you told him all this, it'd bring the topic you're trying to ignore so you can fall asleep up again and given that you're certain you'll be waking up from it anyway, you don't want to knowingly start on a path that won't lead anywhere good. So, you try to go to sleep and pray that tomorrow isn't as bad as you think it's going to be.
Tonight there's no strange and horrific nightmare, there's no hearing her cry and thinking she's here. Tonight, you simply dream of the brief time you had with her. You're right back in that hospital room holding her and telling her you love her. And you wake up feeling like your heart and soul were torn out all over again (for the thousandth time now- though each time is still just as painful as the first). You cry uncontrollably for hours again tonight. Puck holds you and tries to sooth you the entire time.
Eventually, you manage to fall back asleep and to sleep without any interruption. You stay in bed hours longer than you normally would because maybe if you don't get up, this day won't exist.
Apparently your mom thinks that it'd be emotionally unhealthy to lay in bed all day and try to pretend the day doesn't exist because she starts vacuuming the hallway outside your room. You're not sure you've ever seen her clean anything besides the kitchen, but she's doing this so you don't sink further into the feelings that have been consuming you. This much is apparent when you open your door and she's there ready with a distraction- "Quinn, would you like to join me in figuring out a way to destroy your father's golf clubs?"
No. You don't. The distractions everyone keeps offering, they help, but you're tired of them. They help in that they keep the urge to cry at bay for a stretch of time, but you still feel such agony every minute of every day and today, you just don't feel like trying to do anything that won't let you just feel it. It may be unhealthy and it may be unbearable, but you've been distracting and pretending every day since last Sunday and you're just tired of it.
So, you turn her offer down. You manage to eat a little something, at Puck's insistence, and then you sit on the couch for a while- silent and still and simply feeling what you're feeling.
Late in the afternoon, with evening and therefore the point at which that will officially mark a week since she became someone else's daughter, that you last saw her, approaching quickly, Puck suggests that you finally download the pictures from your mom's camera onto your computer, finally look at them. You don't want to. Seeing her again and knowing she's not yours anymore sounds too hard. But, Puck thinks it will be good for both of you and insists that you both do it.
So you end up in your bedroom, in front of your computer with Puck sitting next to you and holding your hand. Some tears start escaping your eyes while the pictures are still uploading, before you've even seen any. And then, suddenly they all pop up and you're looking at your daughter again.
It makes your heart swell to see her again even if it's just on your computer screen. And it makes your chest ache more just like you thought it would, but it makes you smile too. The pain is worth it to see her again.
The two of you go through the pictures slowly, taking your time with each one. It's almost like you're reliving those last moments when she was yours. Only, as of twenty pictures in, the time you signed the papers last week passes and it becomes officially one week since she's been yours. You continue going through the pictures though, remembering what it felt like for her to be yours just a little bit longer.
The pictures don't last forever. When you're through with all of them (having gone back through to look at your favorites a few times), Puck comments, "See, that wasn't so bad."
It wasn't. It hurt because she's not yours, because she's gone. But you always hurt for those reason. And it did feel like it eased the tiniest bit of agony in your soul just to see her again. So you nod in agreement. You print Puck out a few pictures (he wants one for his wallet- he picks one of you and Beth for that- and one to shove his mother's face in the next time he sees her to hopefully finally get a reaction out of her). You don't print any for yourself. What are you going to do? Put one in your binder so that everyone can see it and their comments get even more hurtful? No, you can't do that. But you do send a few to your phone and set one of her as your screen so you can look at her any time you want without everyone else knowing.
You know though, that seeing her picture doesn't make you miss her any less. It does nothing for that. But it makes you smile and that's something.
You sleep a little better that night. You still wake up thanks to thinking you heard her crying again, but you cry a little less tonight. You don't think that has anything to do with you starting to move past any of this. You're just exhausted because it was another difficult day so you fall back asleep sooner and it's harder to cry when you're asleep.
School on Monday is a little bit better, you suppose. You don't feel any better there, walking down the halls like you're okay, like life is normal. But at least the mean-spirited comments from fellow students have dwindled from occurring every twenty or so seconds to about one per every three minutes.
Then, to your surprise, Santana comes up to you in the hall between second and third period.
"Fatty," she calls catching up to you.
"Original," you return sarcastically. Hold up, "Wait, are you actually going to talk to me in a hallway?" She hasn't really done that since you were made a social outcast, which you've always understood- if the situation was reversed you would have done the same.
"Yes," she says simply. She elaborates, though she looks irritated at having to do so, "Brit's not here today. She got lost on her way here."
You raise an eyebrow at that, because, what?
She continues, "It's a long story, but I got her to a familiar house- her grandparents."
"They don't live in town," you recall, further confused.
"Yeah," she confirms, "it's been a long morning. That's why I couldn't come up with something better to call you- maybe later though."
You're about to respond, asking what she wants because this is completely out of the blue that she's talking to you in public, but she says, "I need to retouch," and gestures you to follow her in her detour to the girls' bathroom.
"Anyway," she continues as she pulls out her lip gloss and begins to reapply it in front of the mirror, "word's already spread about Coach Sylvester offering you a place back on the team. Are you taking it?"
"No," you answer honestly. No matter what else happens in your last years of high school, you can't imagine wanting to cheer again.
"Good," she says relieved, "she still hasn't made me head cheerleader and if you came back we both know she'd give it to you again in a second and I don't need the competition. Not that I have competition for it now. She's just screwing with me- not giving it to me when I'm clearly the best captain she could pick."
"You know how she likes to do that," you comment. Santana begins to rant more about how much she hates dealing with Coach Sylvester so you leave your place by the door (you thought you may be in and out of here) and head for a sink as you would have normally done had this been even a few weeks ago. But in doing so you momentarily forgot why you hadn't been doing this recently- the mirror. You've been avoiding really looking at yourself in the mirror for about a week (since the hospital). Of course you use one to get ready in the mornings- but you're careful to mostly use a magnifying mirror to zero in on the things you're doing- like applying lip gloss or mascara- so you're only ever looking at one piece of yourself and never the whole image (this is also the reason your hair's been a bit plain and low maintenance lately).
You're not hearing anything Santana is saying now. Instead you're just staring at your image in the mirror. You're not sure who the girl is looking back at you. This time last year you would have recognized the girl staring back at you. Sure, you didn't always like her; how obedient she was, how detached she felt sometimes. But you knew her. This girl in front of you now, the one who gave away her own child, you really don't recognize her.
You always planned on having a family. And now you've had a baby, with a guy you actually love no less, and that child is not your family. Because that baby just happened to come too early and you couldn't offer her any of the things you wanted to (except love, but that had never seemed like enough). So here you are, a girl who's a mother but doesn't have a child. It's an identity that's so far from anything you want that you find no familiarity in the girl in the mirror. She's a stranger who looks like someone you used to know. You wonder if you'll ever recognize her again.
"Quinn?" Santana calls, sounding annoyed like it's not the first time she's tried to get your attention.
You glance to her, finally tearing your eyes away from your own reflection.
She comments, "Gosh, conceited much? FYI, you don't look good enough not to tear yourself away from staring at yourself. Seriously, what's up with your hair lately? Heard of straightener?"
The criticisms continue for a bit as she finishes examining herself in the mirror, which is quite ironic that she's not taking her eyes off herself. But you were pretty nearly sinking into an even more depressing state so her rambling is a nice distraction. But while she rambles you realize that the bell will probably be ringing soon and you should probably get to class.
"I should probably get going to class," you say, interrupting her.
"Oh yeah, I almost forgot you can't get away with being late anymore. Sucks to be you," she comments, referencing how when you were a Cheerio the uniform could get you out of anything- no one questioned the tardiness, absence, or actions of Sue Sylvester's cheerleaders.
You roll your eyes at her half-hearted insult and offer, "See you around."
Before you make it to the door, she blurts out, "Hey, you know Puck cried? At the hospital." You turn back around and she looks like she's trying to pull off that this is just some casual comment, but she's already failing miserably at that even if she is tossing makeup back in her bag as she talks. "It wasn't just like a tear either. He was really crying. It was so…unattractive. Really big turnoff." She tries to say this last bit like she's disgusted by it, and she does pull it off quite well, but then she glances to you like she's checking to make sure you understand what she's saying.
You do understand what she's saying. She's always seemed to think she has some kind of claim over him, but here, she's letting him go. She gets it, he's with you (sort of) and he wants you, and for once she's not going to mess with what he seems to want, she's not going to interfere in any relationship you have with him. Despite the fact that she's never had any right to try and tear apart any relationship of Puck's (you know she doesn't even like him very much), it's a nice gesture from her. So you say sincerely, "Thank you."
She's not one to dwell on nice things she's done so you know that sticking around will only result in her probably doing something bitchy to accompany the nice thing she did so you head to class without looking back.
As you sit in class, you realize that she probably backed off because she must have realized how he feels about you, how serious it is. Based on the conversation you overheard him having with Finn on Saturday, it seems like others have been picking up on that as well. That he feels that much for you that there's literally no hiding it is a really nice thought. That, having someone that loves you, is something this new girl you see in your reflection has that the old one didn't. As wonderful of a change that is though, that girl is a childless mother and you still have trouble believing that that is who you are (even if the agony of separation reminds you of it every second).
At lunch you sit down at a table with Puck. You're quickly joined by Mercedes and Kurt and then Artie and Tina a minute later. To the surprise of everyone at the table, Finn comes over with Rachel and they sit down with you as well. For the first time in months, you're actually sitting at a crowded lunch table instead of alone or mostly alone. It's nice, to be surrounded by real friends who spend lunch trying to make you laugh and feel better (even if it doesn't really work, it's still nice).
The rest of Monday proceeds as usual. You go home after school and Puck follows you even though he says he needs to go home for a bit. He hesitates on actually leaving for about two hours. Though it's clear he's not crazy about the idea of leaving you, his hesitation seems to mostly be about the place he's heading. Home doesn't seem to be too pleasant of a place for him right now. He even suggests possibly never going back there.
You're doing your homework at your desk and he's stretched out on your bed whining about not wanting to have to get up or do anything. He proposes, "You know, when I go home I could just get all my stuff and then I could just be here and never go back there."
The idea of him living with you and being your new family along with this new and improved version of your mom sounds nearly perfect. But you've had a very inconsistent relationship so far and though he's said he loves you and he keeps proving that to you and you feel the same about him, it feels like a bad idea to jump into basically living together (again and under more serious context this time). You don't want your relationship to get messed up again and though you do need him here now, you can't risk your potential future. "I wouldn't have a problem with that," you tell him, starting out with the positive truth. You continue realistically, "But do you really want to throw away having a relationship with your family so quickly? I know things aren't good now, but what if running away from the problems doesn't help?"
He groans, knowing you're right, and concedes, "Fine, but if things are still the same by next week, your mom already said I'm welcome to the guest room so I'm moving in."
"Okay," you agree. You can't help it. Even though moving so quickly could completely destroy your relationship, you really like the idea of him being here. Though you do sincerely hope that his mom finally accepts the fact that her son has a child and is now a birth father (and that he loves a Christian girl- though that's probably never going to go over very well).
He leaves, taking another thirty minutes just to make it out the door. Your mom comes home about ten minutes later and shows up in your room asking worriedly why Puck wasn't there. You tell her that he's just gone to see his family, get some things, and he'll be back. You're surprised about how relieved she seems. You suppose she must really understand how much he's helping you and maybe she likes this new family you're all developing as much as you do and she doesn't want to see it disappear like your last one.
Puck comes back with quite a lot of his things in about an hour and a half. You ask him how it went and he tells you that it didn't. Apparently his mom and his sister went to go see his grandma at some point- there was a note left for him saying they'd be back tomorrow. So he just packed up some stuff like he came there to do and left a picture of Beth on the refrigerator with a small note paper-clipped to it saying "Your granddaughter." He's hoping that maybe it'll prompt her to actually ask him about her, though he's not letting those hopes get too high.
You both help your mom make dinner. Puck takes out his ever-pent up aggression on mashing potatoes, but at least he's not hitting people who make cruel comments toward you anymore (you had a talk with him about that Saturday morning over breakfast). And then you all eat dinner together, as has become usual. It's a nice usual, one you really don't want to lose.
You don't manage to sleep through the night still. This time, in your nightmare, oddly enough you were at school and you could hear her crying though no matter how many crowded hallways of people you shoved your way through, you couldn't find her. She's not there and you're left missing her, wanting her, even in your dreams.
Despite the nightmare that awoke you and left you crying in the middle of the night again having taken place at school, school Tuesday isn't actually so bad. You start to think that you really are starting to get used to the way your life is now. The way people treat you, the good things you do have in your life, and the way you always ache so much inside. It's all starting to feel a little more normal.
At the end of the day, you even go to glee club looking forward to being there. You talk with some of your fellow glee clubbers a bit before Mr. Schue gets there. When he does he looks at you concerned, but thankfully he doesn't dwell on it, accepts that you're trying. He dives right in and it becomes apparent that that spiel Rachel gave you about her ideas for glee club is something he had to listen to as well, but he's not instituting any of her ideas. He is however going to return to having practice twice a week for the rest of the school year (he let you have a break last week) and he wants to try and schedule at least one mandatory practice/meeting a month during summer (so basically to meet twice during summer). No one is extremely thrilled at that since it's summer and it's supposed to be a break (and Rachel is disappointed because she wanted to meet three times a week throughout summer). But you all agree to trying to work something out anyway.
You're going to work that out later though, he announces. Right now, Mr. Schue wants to rehearse a new song. He says it's something a little different and hopefully fun because he wanted all of you to be having a lot more fun now that you don't have to worry about competition (Rachel looks like she wants to speak up here, but refrains). He asks Puck and Arty to join him on guitar as he hands out the sheet music. He gives everyone a minute to look it over as Puck and Arty get their guitars situated. Puck playing means that he has to move his chair away from yours so he has room to do so, which means now you're actually sitting closer to Matt (on your other side) than you are to Puck.
The song is "Breakfast at Tiffany's" by Deep Blue Something. It looks vaguely familiar. Mr. Shue has the parts divided up and you're glad that it's not just Finn and Rachel getting solos- everyone had been pretty tired of that- as Arty and Tina both have bits too. But actually, for the many repetitions of the chorus (there's five at the end of the song alone- you don't know if that's true of the original version) it's going to be all of you singing together- a twelve-part harmony. Mr. Schue has you stay in your seats saying you'll consider choreography later- for right now he just wants this to be about singing.
The guys start playing and singing the choruses with everyone is fun and it sounds really awesome, but towards the end of the song, you finally realize where you've placed your hand. Your stomach. Right there like you're waiting to feel her because if this was two weeks ago or more, that's what you would have done. You were too upset the first time you sang to notice this change and trying too hard to seem happy and not cry the second time you were in here with live music surrounding you. But this time you didn't have distractions like that and you went and did the previously automatic action without thinking.
When you'd be in glee club, when everyone was singing, when you were singing, she'd move more than any other time. Not necessarily kicking you, but you could feel her moving about, almost like she was dancing inside you. And sometimes (okay, frequently until Rachel called you on it), you'd stop singing, place your hand there to feel her or simply concentrate on feeling her move rather than whatever else you were supposed to be doing. And here you are, you've stopped singing though you're supposed to be and your hand is there, waiting to feel her, only she's not there. She's not anywhere. She's gone.
You're trying so hard not to cry at that thought. You're hanging on by a quickly fraying thread. The song ends and Rachel promptly offers up her opinion. You think your….moment may be going unnoticed (thankfully, you don't need everyone stopping to worry about you and wondering why you're not okay). But then Matt, who is sitting right next to you and nice enough not to draw attention, simply leans over and whispers, "You okay?"
You nod quickly, trying to smile to reassure him despite the fact that you can feel tears start to sting your eyes.
You notice Matt tear off the corner of his sheet music, ball it up, and throw it at Puck. You don't get what he's doing until Puck looks to see what hit him and Matt gestures to you. Puck gets it then. He sets his guitar down, scoots his chair back over to you, and wraps an arm around you. Soothing you just enough to keep the tears at bay for the moment. You offer a small smile to Matt, grateful he didn't believe you and that he knew what would help.
You don't have to spend much longer at glee, thankfully. You stayed in Puck's loose embrace for the rest of it though, afraid of what feelings you may succumb to if you left it. You make it out to his car (there was no point in both of you driving to and from school from your house) before some tears begin spill slowly. You're not sobbing like you usually do (because you're really trying to control that). Instead you're weeping quietly, holding Puck's hand as he drives you home.
He asks you about what got to you today of course. He asks a few times. But you tell him that just like last Friday, you're not up to talking about it, not without breaking down even worse. He lets it go at that. He always does and you appreciate it, but you're starting to notice how you never really talk to him about it. You didn't want there to be any lies between you or any distance because you didn't tell him things, but you've been letting this- not talking to him about how you feel about your situation- go on even though you know you shouldn't. You should talk to him. You know he probably knows how you've been feeling and you've let yourself get out of actually talking to him for that reason. But you shouldn't so you swear to yourself that the next time you fall apart (during the day- the night ones have become routine) you'll tell him why and you'll tell him about the other times too and everything you've been feeling and thinking.
Tonight you dream of just her again. You relive the moments you had with her in your dream like a cruel torture because as soon as you wake up you know it was just that, a dream, and she's not here.
School is no different Wednesday than it's been any other day lately really. You make it through your classes, even if it's become necessary to remind yourself to breath through most of the day. You do get one small change to your day though in that Kurt talks to you in between classes one period, asking you if you'd like to go shopping with him and Mercedes after school. They're headed to the mall after school because Finn and his mom will be trying to move in again soon and he needs to redecorate. He says you're especially perfect for this shopping mission because you know Finn better than either of them. He also offers that Puck can come along, he supposes it wouldn't be horrible to have the opinion of someone more masculine.
You're not sure what to tell him. Luckily the warning bell rings so you get an excuse to get back to him later. Going to the mall sounds like such a normal thing to do and you suppose you should be trying to do normal things. Going home and curling up in bed and never getting up is what sounds good to you, but even if you went home you haven't been allowing yourself to do that. You've been keeping yourself busy with homework and your mom and Puck, both of whom could probably use a break and you could certainly use a break from homework. The mall though, it really does sound like such an odd thing to do even if you used to go with "friends" all the time. But by the time your class is over you're hunting down Kurt in the halls to let him know that you're accepting his invitation. You're sixteen, you're not a mother, and you're supposed to be enjoying your life so you're going to spend time with two friends shopping today (and hope that it makes you feel like you're sixteen, like you're not a mother, and like you're enjoying your life).
You catch Puck before you sit with everyone at lunch and tell him the plans you've made. You didn't want him to be put out by it so you try to make it clear that you think this will be good for you. He actually agrees and seems to understand. He says that his mom is back and he's going to stop by his house anyway. He's glad he won't be leaving you home alone while he does that. He also mentions that he's finally getting another slot on the schedule over at Sheets 'N Things this Saturday so maybe you could plan something with them for then too.
So it's settled and after school you part ways with Puck and get into Kurt's super kick-ass SUV and head to the mall with him and Mercedes singing along to "Hips Don't Lie" (and then "Telephone" after it ends).
Your town isn't huge and your mall really isn't anything special so as usual for a weekday, there's not a lot of people there. This is why you make it pretty far into the place before it hits you. Kurt parked in a parking lot in the middle of the mall despite his first planned destination being on the far left side. You make it through the first stretch of shops, barely passing any people on your way, and you're okay. Then, you round the corner to head left (to a sports memorabilia store Kurt thinks will help give him an idea of what type of things he should be shopping for), and you encounter strollers and moms and babies. You freeze, paralyzed by something you're not even sure of.
The last baby you saw was yours. The only places you'd been since the hospital have been home and school and there weren't any babies there.
You're not sure what it is, that has you frozen and with tears quickly streaming down your face now. Seeing a mother with her child when you don't get to be with yours (due to your own decision)? Seeing a baby and it making you want yours with you again even more than you usually do? Seeing what you'll never have with her, a simple outing? Maybe all three, maybe something else entirely, but something has you falling to pieces because there are babies and mothers around you. (And you're not one of them- that's the biggest reason you're breaking. You're supposed to be one of them; you have a baby. You want to be one of them, desperately so. But you're not.)
Kurt and Mercedes get about twelve feet ahead of you before they notice you're not still tagging along. They notice the tears and the other people (babies and mothers) in the mall around you and they quickly come to your side.
There's no claiming to be okay right now. You manage, "I need to get out of here."
They nod and take you back to Kurt's car. Mercedes gets in the back seat with you now, hugging you and trying to make you feel better. Kurt stays out of the car for a minute and calls someone- you know who he's calling and you wish you had enough control over yourself right now to tell him not to. Puck was supposed to be talking to his mom, he needed to, and you don't want to disrupt that.
When Kurt gets off the phone he gets in the back seat with you. Apparently he's been told not to drive you home, just to wait. He hugs you too, trying to comfort you like Mercedes. It doesn't help though. You just keep on sobbing and hurting and you can't seem to stop it.
After a several minutes, Puck comes knocking on the window. Kurt gets out and lets you slide out. As soon as you step out of the car, Puck has his arms wrapped around you, hugging you. You stand there just hanging on to him for a few minutes before you feel like you're ready to do anything again. When you are, you let go and let him weave you to his car parked in the nearest available space to Kurt's.
You think you heard Puck tell them thanks on your way away from them, but later, you realize you really should have thanked them too. You truly are grateful to have such good friends.
On the drive home you manage to calm down enough that your tears are much slower by the time you're walking through your front door. Puck follows you up to your room and, as usual, waits for you to tell him what's going on. You've just barely been able to quell the sobs so you don't really want to talk about it. But you swore to yourself that you'd start telling him how you feel because you know that you need to- if you're really doing this together, if you're really together, you need to do this.
"I don't know what happened," you begin honestly. You tell him what you do know, "There were mothers and babies at the mall and I just…".
He seems to understand because he comes over to you and hugs you again. Standing there in your bedroom and just holding you like he did the night you came home from the hospital. Just like that night, you eventually end up on your bed together only this time you're sitting, his back against the headboard, yours mostly on his chest.
You should tell him everything about how you've been feeling lately, about why you cried at school last Friday and nearly yesterday. You know you should so even though you don't know where to begin you say, "On Friday I heard someone calling her name, in the hall after school." That alone made you feel…but it's what you did next that makes you notice a pattern, "And then I put my hand on my stomach, which I did yesterday at glee too because she always used to move a lot during rehearsals, but she's not there." You're tearing up again and you know that he understands why realizing she's not still inside you would be painful, but you need to explain everything you're feeling, you need to tell someone. "I miss her so much it's unbearable," you tell him honestly. And before you know it you're adding on, "I can't do this anymore. I want her. I want her back."
You hadn't let yourself succumb to thoughts like these because you know that your decision had logic to it. But here you were, telling him the truth, and out slipped what you know you want to do, what you know will get rid of your pain. And it's true. You do want her back. You always wanted her so of course you want her back.
Puck sighs, strokes your hair as he tries to sooth you. He offers, "I miss her too. And I want her back too." Before you can get excited about the idea of the two of you going to get your daughter, he adds, "But we had good reasons for giving her to Shelby. You had good reasons for giving her up all along- you were always smart enough to know what we should do. And I want her back too, but I don't want to rush into this. I mean, you miss her really, really bad right now and so do I- I don't want to act out of that and regret it later. This is kind of a big deal."
You really don't like Puck for saying any of that. You want your daughter back. You miss her. Why can't you just go get her? According to the law you have the right to do so, changing your mind, for the whole first year of her life.
He seems to catch on that you're not too fond of him at the moment and starts defending what he said, "We're not in any better of a position to be her parents than we were ten days ago. I know you want her and so do I, but that wasn't enough then and I'm not going to let us rush into thinking it's enough now because if it's not it'd mean letting her go all over again and I don't know if either one of us would survive that."
Begrudgingly, you know he has a point. Though, he's also kind of wrong because your life lately hasn't been what you thought it'd be when you decided to give up your daughter. You thought that if you moved back in with your mom it'd only be a matter of time- until your father won her back- when you'd be on your own again. Now though, it's clear your mother would never be with your father again and she wouldn't let you go. Plus, you have Puck. You weren't too sure of the role he'd want to play in your life or your daughter's, but he's been here and he seems intent on sticking around no matter what.
That's all a really good argument for the fact that your situation is different in ways that could allow you to get your daughter and keep her. But you're too smart for your own happiness and you know that your father could take everything from your mother in the divorce. She wants to screw him over in it, but that doesn't mean she will and it doesn't mean he won't take everything from the both of you. You (a high school student with no work history) and your mother (a woman without any discernable career skills) on your own wouldn't be the kind of stable environment you had wanted (want) for your daughter. Puck would always try to help you out though, but you know, despite the fact that you're in love with him now, you may not always be with Puck. And what happens then? You'll break up and probably be miserable around each other but you'll have to always see each other because you share a daughter. That kind of potential tension or anger or bitterness that could result from a fallout between you and Puck while in the stressful situation of trying to provide for your daughter with nothing more than high school diplomas or less- you don't want that to be what your daughter knows as her parents relationship either, you don't want that in her life at all.
So it appears your situation still has a lot of things about it you really don't want for your daughter. And you know the home you left her in, the person you left her with, doesn't have to worry about any of them. You want her back, more than anything, but Puck was right, you were hasty in that thought. Of course you realize this after a couple hours of relative silence between the two of you while you were pretending to do homework and he was…doing something on your computer (there was livestock on the screen several times you glanced up- you think it may have something to do with the retaliation him and Finn are planning against Vocal Adrenaline).
Your mom stops by to ask you both to help with dinner (it's become routine, this kind of family activity she's trying to make tradition) and you know you should probably admit that he was right to say what he did before you go downstairs and your mother catches on to the issue the two of you are having.
"I'm sorry," you begin, "for falling apart earlier and not…realizing that you were right and I was being irresponsible."
He doesn't act smugly about the fact that you acknowledged that he was right (though you know it's a struggle for him not to). Instead he offers, "I feel like jumping in my car and going to get her back at least a dozen times a day. And I know you do too. But I've been trying to remind myself every time I'm on the verge of doing that, that she's got a good home and I don't know if she was with me I'd be able to say the same. I still want her to have a good home." This is quite remarkable for Puck, you know. He's never been good with self-control, but the fact that he is about your daughter is really a testament to how much he loves her.
"Me too," you agree. Because you know he's right. You don't know that she'd be in a good place with you, but she is now.
He hesitates and he looks away as he suggests it, but he proposes, "Maybe we could still sort of be a part of that good home. I mean, she did say we could have a really open adoption if we wanted."
You hadn't talked about the open/closed adoption issue. Honestly, you've been trying not to think of it at all (which, given how you spend most of your time trying to concentrate on other things just so you don't cry, has been fairly easy). You know if you were to see her again, you'd need to accept that she's not yours first and get used to her belonging to someone else. Plus, you miss her so much right now and you thought you shouldn't make a decision like this when you miss her so much.
On the other hand, you honestly can't see a time when you wouldn't miss her with every fiber of your being. If the last ten days has taught you anything it's that you're never going to stop missing her and wishing you could have kept her. And, if you still thought she was yours, wouldn't you feel better than you do now? So maybe you have accepted that she's not yours anymore. Which means that you don't really have any reason not to discuss this now.
(You do wonder if maybe you're just thinking that you're ready because you want the two of you to decide to have an open adoption so that you can see her. And that would be the wrong reason to do all of this. But you don't know if you'd ever honestly be able to decide this any other way.)
You're terrified of making the wrong decision though. If you make the wrong decision, not only could you end up hurting even more than you already do (though it's hard to believe that such a thing would be possible), but you could end up messing up your daughter's life in some unforeseen way. So, with it occurring to you that your mother is probably waiting on the both of you downstairs, you decide maybe you could use some help with this. You suggest, "I think we should start trying to figure out what we're doing about the open/closed adoption, but would it be okay with you if we talk with my mom about it? I think we could use someone who's a little more impartial." You add on hastily even though he doesn't look like he has a problem with it, "I think we could use someone like that because I'd probably agree to anything that means we get to see her- probably without even thinking it through."
"Yeah, that's fine," he jumps in promptly, apparently realizing that you probably will continue to rationalize out loud unless he stops you.
So you head downstairs and your mom puts you to work on helping her with dinner. Puck keeps glancing at you, like he's waiting for you to be the one to bring it up with her. And she is your mother so you suppose it should be you. You're hesitant though. She's been great lately, but you've never really talked to her about anything, let alone something so important so the fact that you're about to has you just a bit apprehensive. (What if talking to her proves that you were right about who she was all along and this person she's been lately is just a fluke?)
You need help though and it's probably better to know that she isn't who you think she is sooner rather than latter so you dive in, "Mom, we're considering Shelby's offer to make the adoption a really open one and we were hoping you could help us figure out if that'd be the right thing to do."
She seems thrown for a second, like that wasn't a topic of conversation she was expecting tonight, but she recovers quickly and says with a smile, "Of course, anything I can do."
You smile a little too, glad that she's open to the idea and that she wants to help you. But then you get stuck. You don't know where to begin. You want to see her again, you want to see her a lot, that's pretty much your reason for wanting the adoption to be open and you know there are probably good reasons for not having an open adoption (you've certainly thought of them before) but at the moment your thoughts stop there.
Puck seems to be having the same predicament of not knowing where to start because he's just continuing to string the sugar snap peas (a task he already seems frustrated with).
Thankfully, your mother comes up with a place to start. "Well," she considers, "I suppose one of the first things you should probably consider is what it may be like to be around her and then have to leave her with the woman that she'll know as her mother. Do you think you'd both be able to get through that or function in that environment where you're with her but you don't have any real say in anything in her life like where she goes to school, what she can and can't do, and everything?"
You glance to Puck, but he looks like he's waiting on you to respond. You know it won't be easy to see her grow up calling someone else "mom." You know it won't be easy each time you have to say goodbye to her. You know it won't be easy to simply be around her and know she'll never be yours (even if that's all you want). But it's all got to be easier than this though, right? Not seeing her is absolute torture every single second and if you got to see her and always had the promise of seeing her again, that would go away, right? You have no idea if you're right, but you think that nothing could be worse than your current situation of not seeing her and feeling like you never will. So, even if it does end up hurting you worse, you at least need to try this other option of seeing her sometimes (even if throughout every time, she'll still belong to someone else). "Yes," you answer your mother, "I think…it may make me feel worse than this does now, but I don't care. If I'm surviving this, even if I'm not doing it well, then I'll get through anything. I know I'd regret it if I didn't try though."
"Me too," Puck agrees, seeming relieved- like he's glad that that was your answer because it's the one he wanted.
Before either your mother or Puck can get the idea that that settles it and that that one answer makes your decision obvious, you add on, "But I don't want to do anything that's not good for her and I don't know if us being in her life would be confusing or upsetting or just bad…I don't know."
"You can never be certain of how anything will turn out," your mom offers. She reasons, "There's not a lot known about the effects of an open adoption on the adopted child though. I've been reading about it, since you mentioned it was a possibility, and it's a newer concept, there doesn't seem to be a lot of research done on it. I wouldn't think it'd be bad for a child to have a positive, loving relationship with their birth parents though. So the child can know that their parents love them and want them, they just didn't have a situation that allowed them to keep them."
You like that idea. That your involvement in your daughter's life can only be a good thing because it will let her know that you love her and you didn't want to give her up, you just couldn't give her the life she deserved. But that seems too good to be true- that you getting to be a part of your daughter's life could only have good consequences and no bad ones.
Then your mother adds on, seeming like she doesn't like what she's going to say, "And you don't need to decide anything yet, but you may want to consider what type of relationship you would have in front of her. I mean, what if you're not together a few years from now and you're not getting along? You don't want her exposed to that, right? You may consider just being friends in front of her- it could be simpler if you're at all uncertain of your future. Though…" she hesitates, though clearly wanting to continue, which she does, "are you even together right now? All of your friends seemed to think you'd never really been together and you seem close right now to me, but honestly I've been confused."
"We're together," Puck declares so fast you're still processing what your mother said.
You haven't talked t him about what you are to each other- ever. But not being ambiguous, not being with other people, just being together, sounds really good. So you smile at him a little and don't object to the new label.
Your mom smiles at Puck and you too, seeming to have caught on to the fact that this was a new and especially good development since it came from him. Rather than commenting on that, she wipes her hands off on a kitchen towel and continues making dinner as she suggests, " Well I suppose if you believe that, barring any unforeseen complications, your relationship will last then you could be together around your daughter. But if you have any uncertainties you should discuss them now and decide if you'd rather start out presenting something more stable, like a friendship to her until you are certain of your futures."
That is definitely something to consider that you hadn't thought of. Stability was one of the things you wanted your daughter to have (one thing you knew you probably couldn't provide her with) and you don't want your potential involvement in her life to take away from the stability you made sure she got. "Thank you," you tell your mom, grateful for her advice. You add, hoping Puck catches on to fact that you meant to discuss this later, "We'll definitely have to give that some thought."
Puck glances at you, confused. He seems to get that you were implying something, but not totally sure what exactly you meant.
"Later," you mouth as clarification and he nods, clear on that you would like to discuss your relationship around your daughter, but not now in front of your mom.
In a few more minutes you've all got dinner ready and you're digging into it at the dinning room table. Puck and your mom are talking, what about you're not really following. You can't stop thinking about everything. What if you don't make the right choice? What if it is too soon to be deciding this? What if you're just thinking of pursuing an open adoption because you miss her so much?
But God, you miss her so much, being without her hurts so much, that you're tempted to cry into your dinner (just like every other night). And you really can't stand this anymore- feeling this bad, feeling this far from normal and like you'll never be okay again. If being with her can make that go away and be good for her too, then you want to start that immediately.
You had a rough day though and that has to be acknowledged. So you continue to pick at your dinner, thinking about everything and trying to remind yourself to think rationally and cautiously so you don't make a mistake by acting purely out of your emotions.
Eventually, your thoughts are interrupted by your mom asking, "Quinn? You've been awfully quiet." She doesn't add on asking if you're okay. It seems like she knows that you're simply not these days and you don't have the potential to be.
"I've just been thinking about everything," you tell them both. Given the things you've talked about today, your meaning of "everything" seems to be clear to the both of them.
"I thought it sounded like you'd decided," your mom begins, puzzled, "I thought you both seemed to really want the adoption to be open and weren't even considering keeping it closed."
You notice Puck tense at the word "closed." You know he's always wanted to know your daughter and really wants the adoption to be open. You do too and you don't want a misunderstanding to cause problems between you so you hastily assure, "I do want it to be open, we both do, and I don't think I could live with it being closed. But I don't want to go into this…without caution. It may not turn out to be what we're thinking it will. It may not turn out to be right."
"Okay," Puck says slowly. He seems completely perplexed about what you could possibly be talking about though. He asks, "What were you thinking then?"
You proceed to tell them all of the things you thought of to try and make sure you do the right thing, "I think we should wait until tomorrow after school to call Shelby. I've been…it's been an emotional day and I think some time, a little time, could make sure that we're not just acting out of that."
"That seems like a good idea," your mom offers supportively.
"Sure," Puck agrees. You know he probably wanted to call as soon as you were done with dinner, but he also knows what you went through today and you appreciate that he's willing to wait to make it easier on you.
You continue, "And I think that we should tell Shelby we want the really open adoption that she mentioned being willing to do, but get clarification on exactly what she means by that." You add on, to make sure Puck knows you're on the same page as him, "When we see her and Beth we need to make sure we do that." Puck nods, okay with that, so you proceed, "And we should decide a time to re-evaluate in a couple of months. Maybe the really open adoption won't work for us. Maybe it will be too hard or maybe it won't seem good for her and I think we should be willing to go into this aware of that and willing to make necessary changes and possibly scale back on how open the adoption is if that's not working."
"Scale back but not close it ever right?" Puck checks.
"Right," you confirm. If you being in your daughter's life ends up seeming like it's not at all good for her you know you'd make sure you'd take yourself out of it completely even if it kills you. But you don't want to tell Puck that. You want to be a part of her life as much as possible and you love that he does too- you don't want to ruin the connection that has given you.
"Those sound like responsible ideas," your mom compliments. "I'm sure giving yourselves a little time won't at all change your minds though so I'm going to head to the mall tomorrow and get you something to give Beth from her grandmother," your mom adds on.
"You could come when we see her," you suggest to your mother. You didn't consult Puck about that and you hadn't even considered it, but you know he'll understand and now that you think about it, she's been really good about everything lately and she should probably get to see the family that's no longer hers too.
She smiles, her eyes looking a little watery, but she says, "That's very nice of you, but you two should get to spend some time with her on your own. If you're really going to have some super open adoption then I'm sure I'll get to see her soon, but you need some time on your own with her." She adds on, "Though that's something you should check with Shelby about- whether or not this super open adoption she's mentioned would include Beth's grandparents getting to see her." She corrects, considering the situation, "Grandmothers."
Right, if Shelby's okay with your mom being a part of Beth's life as well, her grandfather, your father, definitely won't be a part of it even if Shelby's okay with that. You're not okay with that and you can't imagine that you ever would be. But the situation is the same for Puck- his dad definitely won't be involved so Beth won't be getting any grandfathers from either one of you. But he does have his mom, which reminds you you completely forgot about the fact that he was supposed to see her today and you interrupted that. "You were supposed to see your mom," you say to him, "Kurt called you before I could tell him you were busy. You should go back there to talk to her like you planned."
"No need," he tells you. He know you're going to ask so he divulges, "I didn't really talk to her, but I found out everything I needed to about how she feels about everything. She took down Beth's picture from the fridge. It didn't seem to be anywhere around the house so I guess she tossed it." You know he doesn't want to think his mom is really abandoning his reality and despite how she treated you, you don't want to believe it either. But he seems resigned to it as he concludes, "So if Shelby's cool with other family of ours being involved with Beth too- she's only going to have one grandmother."
You know what its like to have your family abandon you. Puck's mother may not have kicked him out as your dad did to you, but it seems that she has abandoned him in every way that matters. You also know how much it helped to be accepted by another person and another family. Puck couldn't do that for you, though unbeknownst to you while you were there, he did try. But Mercedes and her family did do that for you (which reminds you, you'll really have to go over and thank them for that soon). And now, with your mom having offered Puck a place to stay (even if she was just being nice) you have the opportunity to be the new family that accepts him when his abandoned him. You ask your mom, knowing already from Puck that the idea of staying with you on more permanent terms was completely okay with him, "Mom, given the situation at Puck's house, would it be okay if he stayed here, with us, for a while?" You don't want to say "forever" rather than "a while" because though you may feel like it at the moment you know you may not always. Plus, you think your mom would feel better about it if it at least had the potential of being a temporary condition.
She considers it for a minute and eventually says, "Yes." Before either of you can get excited about that she adds on, "With some conditions though."
"Sure. What?" Puck is quick to agree.
"By this time next week you sleep in the guest room and not in Quinn's room," your mom is quick to respond.
By the grumpy look on his face, this is clearly not something Puck likes, but he'd still get to be here, he wouldn't have to be at his own home, so he agrees, "Fine."
To your surprise your mom looks to you and says, "And when you have your check up in another month, I'd like Quinn to go on birth control."
"Mom!" you screech in horror. Sure everyone in the room just saw you have a baby, which was extremely…exposing, but this kind of talk with your mother still has the power to completely embarrass you.
"What?" she defends, "It's pretty clear everyone in this room has had sex so it's not like I'm randomly bringing up something that isn't applicable."
"Only once," slips out from your mouth in a desperate and not thought out attempt to stop this conversation.
"What?" your mother questions. "You've only had sex once?" she checks. You did get pregnant at sixteen so you suppose the assumption that you were more active is fair.
"Yes," you confirm tightly, avoiding all eyes and praying that this ends.
"Oh," she says, still seeming very surprised. But she manages to get over it quickly and get back to her point, "Well, that just supports my point even more. It only takes one time to end up in the same situation again and I'm sure you're probably thinking that you won't be having sex again for a very long time after everything your first time led to, but you probably will. I know you probably didn't plan on having sex that time you did- I remember high school and I certainly didn't plan on being with a lot of the boys whose backseats I ended up in-"
"I thought you and dad always said that you waited until marriage just like you wanted us to?" you cut into your mother's rather uncomfortable recounting of her past.
She laughs bitterly, "Well sure that's what we told you, which was your father's idea, and we did wait until our wedding night, but I knew your father had been with other women. He thought I was a virgin though."
"You should let him know you weren't. It may piss him off," Puck joins in suggesting to your mother.
"You're right!" she exclaims, "I should probably add on that Jimmy Taylor was so much better too." As an afterthought she adds on reflectively, "I wonder what he's doing now. Maybe he's single. I should look him up."
You bury your face in you hands and hope that this was all just a dream. It was bad enough that your mother brought up your sex life, but now you had to learn her and her and your father's sexual history as well. What happened to the woman that encouraged you to work harder at getting teens to be abstinent in your celibacy club?
Your mom notices your mortification and says, "Quinny, geez, it's not the taboo topic your father and our church always made it out to be. Besides, it's a very relevant issue given the circumstances. If your boyfriend is going to live under the same roof as you, the same boy who got you to give up your purity pledge once, I think you should be as responsible as you're being with your situation with Beth which would mean taking precaution and going on birth control."
Finally, you see the point to your mother bringing all of this up. Actually, she has a point. You don't feel like having sex and you really can't see yourself doing so again for a long time given what you've just been through in the last several months thanks to the one time you did have sex. Yet it did happen that one time even though you never thought you would have ever given in like that. So, thinking responsibly, maybe it would be a good idea to be extra cautious just in case something else you don't plan on happens.
However, you really wish your mother hadn't brought this up in front of Puck. She could have talked to you about it privately, but now you're stuck agreeing in front of Puck and you don't want him to get the wrong idea. Just because you're going to agree to go on birth control doesn't mean you're going to start sleeping with him regularly or that you'll be having sex with him again any time ever at all. So you agree to your mom, "Okay, you're right. That is a good, responsible idea." But you quickly add on to Puck, "And you shouldn't take the fact that I'm agreeing as any kind of sign. We'll talk about that later."
"Okay then, last condition of you moving in," your mother continues looking to Puck. She tells him, "You don't give up on your relationship with your mother. I know things are…difficult with her but she's your mother and…things could change. If you move in, I want you to promise to continue to try and work things out with her. I'll even talk to her if you want me to. Or we could get her… rabbi? You guys have those right? We'll get one of them to talk to her about how she's being. Even if nothing ends up changing thanks to your efforts, I don't want you moving in and just giving up on your only biological family at your age."
Puck rubs a hand over the back of his head, fidgeting, but agrees, "Okay. I guess I can keep trying. I should probably keep going over there to at least visit my sister anyway."
"Great," your mom declares, "then welcome home." She smiles at Puck and it seems genuine, like she's actually glad to have someone or to have him to accept into the family.
"Thanks Judy," he says gratefully.
Dinner is finished and you're cleaning up after all that is decided. It's an odd idea though that Puck lives with you now and that you're really glad about that. A few weeks ago, had someone told you that's how things would be, you would have thought they were insane.
"Let's see, it's Wednesday," your mom begins thoughtfully as she rinses off dishes, "that means Top Chef is on! I got addicted to that recently- saw a marathon of a season and tonight they're starting a new season. You two have to watch."
"No thanks," Puck turns down quickly, "got homework to do."
This is very odd. First, Puck generally hasn't turned your mom down on anything. Second, despite your encouragement and prodding, Puck still doesn't really do his homework. He gives you a pointed look though and then heads out of the kitchen, presumably to your room, and you understand what he's doing now. He wants to talk. A lot of stuff has been discussed today and you told him you'd discuss some things later and apparently he wants "later" to be now. You can understand that. You're eager to get things sorted so you can have a clear and certain decision tomorrow too.
Your mom seems curious about what's going on, why he blew off her plans, so you say simply, "There's still things we need to talk about." She nods and doesn't prod. You offer, "What time is that show on though?"
"Nine," she tells you, "but I could record it and we could watch it together later, if you want."
"Yeah," you agree, "Maybe around ten we'll be done." You honestly don't know if you want to watch a show apparently about chefs, but you like how you've developed this pattern of watching TV with your mom or your mom and Puck every night. It adds to the feeling that you're a family, and having a family again is one of the small things serving to slowly mend your soul after being repeatedly ripped apart by your daughter's absence.
She smiles in response and says she'll go ahead and record it for you all then and wait for you to watch it.
You head upstairs and find Puck waiting for you on your bed. You don't know where to start, so you sit down on the end of your bed next to him and wait for him to say anything he wants to.
It only takes a few seconds of silence before he says, "I'm not changing my mind by tomorrow afternoon. I'm not changing my mind about wanting it to be an open adoption at all."
"I don't think I'll be changing my mind either," you tell him honestly. But you had a reason for wanting to delay calling Shelby for a bit, "But just because I don't think I will, doesn't mean a good reason can't come up about why we shouldn't go through with this. And I don't want to rush into a decision about something so important just because I miss her."
"I know," he tells you, "I get it- the waiting. And it's okay. It's less than a day- not that long to wait."
You know he wants to see her now and you're really glad he cares about you so much that he's putting your piece of mind before his desires. Speaking of him caring about you, you can't help the smile on your face as you question, "So…we're together now?"
"Yeah," he says, doubt creeping into his tone. He defends, "Given everything I just thought that we were." He checks, "We are, right?"
You would like to be with him, officially and all, but you have a history with him and you don't want any misunderstandings this time. You respond, "We are if you're not going to be with any other girls in any capacity including texting."
"And if you agree that you're not going to have another boyfriend," he throws back at you. He growls a little in frustration and explodes, like he's been holding it in and wanting to say it for a while, "I mean, why do you think I was sexting Santana in the first place? I was all happy you wanted to hang out with me, thought I actually had a shot of being with you, then I went and picked you up that night and guess where I was picking up from? Finn's house. Your boyfriend's house. I got a little…bitter and stupid after that. Then I forgot about it because babysitting those little monsters with you actually turned out to be fun. But then by Monday when you were still with Finn and confronting me, I got stupid again." He sighs and simplifies it all for you, "I was only with other girls because you kept sticking with Finn and then you just turned me down. As long as you don't do either of those, I don't have a reason to be with other girls anymore."
Given his reputation, you'd always assumed he'd told you he'd be with other girls than just you or that he'd seen other girls when he supposedly wanted you because he was just that slutty. And that never made sense to you- how he could claim to want you and yet be with other girls. It makes sense to you now though. You were someone else's and when you weren't, you still refused him. You blamed him for the state of your relationship while you were pregnant, but you see your role in it now. You intended to give him a chance with the whole babysitting thing and to pick him after it, but you can see how he wouldn't know that you were doing that at all and how the fact that you kept your safety net (Finn) throughout it caused both of you to make mistakes, to have regrets. "I'm sorry," you apologize, "I never meant for it to seem like I didn't want you. I just…I don't know. I wasn't thinking well and-"
"It's alright," Puck interrupts you, "for both our sakes I think we'd be better off if we forget all the times we screwed up with each other in the last few months."
"That's a good idea," you say, agreeing to it. You don't want to forget everything, but you're more than willing to forget the bad of the past and concentrate the good of now. "So I won't have another boyfriend and you won't do anything with any other girl, and we're together," you conclude with a smile.
He smiles at you too. He looks away though, like he's embarrassed that you saying you're together makes him that happy. He brings you back to a serious topic though as he questions, "We're together, but what are we going to be in front of her? Your mom made some good points. I don't want to be a part of the one unstable thing in her life."
Right. This was the other big issue you had yet to decide. You reason, using things your mom mentioned, "Well, I think that she could know we're together if we're sure that's going to be a permanent state for us and if we're not very sure then we should probably just act like friends, two people who get along, in front of her." Now comes the hard question facing the two of you, "What do you think we should do?"
You want to have faith that you'll still be together years from now, long enough that you can be together in front of your daughter and that will be a state she'll always know the two of you to be in. But realistically, you've never been in a real relationship together though you've managed to mess up almost being in one numerous times.
"We should just be together in front of her," Puck says, surprising you. "For right now it doesn't matter anyway," he points out.
That's true. She is too young to notice right now, but you may as well decide this right now (you like being prepared and you've had very little of it lately so you're clinging to it here). "Yeah," you agree, "she won't notice right now. Maybe that means that this is an issue we should come back to. Re-evaluate where we are with each other and what future we think we may have in a year? That way she's still too young to really notice but it's close enough to when she will that whatever decision we make will be one we'll have to stick with."
"What's with you and re-evaluating? It seems like you always want to come back to stuff again?" Puck questions. He doesn't seem upset or bothered by it, just like he really doesn't understand.
You suggested coming back to this issue and you already told him how you wanted to re-evaluate your decision about the open adoption and how open it is in a few months so you know the pattern you've created lately that he's talking about. You try to explain, "I just think it's important to acknowledge that things change and what we think is right, right now may not be later." You add on reflectively, "Everything has changed so much in the last nine months, I don't want to make any more mistakes just because I'm not willing to acknowledge that things change and deal with that responsibly."
You think he understands, but then he says, " Yeah things have changed a lot lately but you can't say that everything changes. Some things don't change no matter how much time passes."
That's technically true, but for the things you were talking about you're sure it's not. Whether or not a very open adoption will be what's best for you and for Beth is something that could change because maybe it will be too hard on one or all of you. And whether or not you and Puck are still together a year from now, when you want to re-evaluate the possible future state of your relationship, is something your erratic history with him has certainly taught you can change. You challenge, "So you honestly think that you'd feel the same about our future together in a year as you do right now?"
"Yes," he returns stubbornly. You scoff and he mutters, "Did at this time last year."
It was quiet, but you heard him and your eyes turn to him sharply, convinced your ears must be playing tricks on you. "What?" you question.
He seems annoyed that he's admitting it, but he repeats, "This time last year, I wanted to be with you. Right now, I want to be with you. So isn't it a pretty good bet I'd want to be with you at this time next year?"
You know he asked you a question, but you're still stuck on the first bit. "You wanted to be with me at this time last year? But at a month until school was out last year I wasn't dating Finn yet. We barely even talked, we just had the same friends," you point out, figuring he must be rounding back a few months and couldn't actually mean this time last year.
He seems embarrassed again, staring at his feet rather than meeting your eyes as he answers simply, "Yep."
It takes you several seconds before you can think again. Yes, he said he loved you (especially now), but you thought that at furthest those feelings on his part would date back to you sleeping with him. Apparently though, he'd been feeling something for you for several months prior to that. Oh. "Is that what you meant, when you said that I wasn't just another girl to you?"
"Yeah," he admits softly, still seeming embarrassed.
You kiss him. You lean over, place your hand on his chest, right near his heart, and kiss him softly and sweetly. The idea of doing this probably should have made you nervous because you've never initiated anything with him. Actually, you've only ever kissed him on two days- the day he got you pregnant and the other day after you told him you love him. And it's weird to think that there's been so little anything between you yet you're in love with him and you created a child together. But life in general is turning out weirder than you thought and this is without a doubt the best completely unexpected thing about it. You weren't nervous to lean over and kiss him though because it's what's right. You're in love with him, so every time you hear or see just how much he loves you too, you can't help but want to act on that in some small way.
By the time you pull away the kiss had turned a little more intense than you intended and you notice you're now clutching the fabric of his shirt in the hand you once had resting on his chest.
"What was that?" he asks with a smile, not complaining about it at all. Before you can respond he continues teasing, "Because you know you're kind of sending mixed signals? I mean, down stairs you're saying not to take the whole birth control thing as a good sign then you randomly maul me up here."
"It's not like that," you defend, "I just-"
"I know, I know," he interjects, "I was just messing with you. I know you didn't 'maul' me and that you're not going to be even close to rushing into anything…physical."
"And that's okay with you?" you check.
"Told you before, I'm good. There's no rush," he repeats.
You're smiling wider now and you're so grateful for him because you know that he's been the only one to even slightly make you really smile lately and you may not even be getting through all this if you didn't have him. You reach for his hand and intertwine your fingers.
You sit there for a while, in a comfortable silence, just holding his hand. Eventually, he says, "So we're going to call Shelby tomorrow and let her know we want to be involved in Beth's life."
You take a deep breath, let it out slowly. Doing what he said, it means you're going to see Beth again. You want to, more than you've ever wanted anything (except for maybe some situation to come up that would have allowed you to keep her- like you getting older suddenly and prepared for and able to be her parent). But it has you terrified too- the thought of seeing her. You're going to have to see her, hold her probably, and she won't be yours. And then you'll have to leave her all over again. Even though you'll have the promise of seeing her again when you do it, you know it's going to kill you all over again.
Noticing your silence, how you didn't respond, Puck asks, "You ready for that?"
"No," you answer honestly. As much as you want to open the adoption immediately so you can see her again, you're not ready for all the things that come with it. "But maybe by tomorrow afternoon I will be," you hope.
"That's what I thought," he says, somehow knowing your reservation and one of your reasons for rationalizing waiting. He leans over and kisses your forehead as he wraps his arm around you and pulls you to lean on him. "We can put it off longer if you want," he suggests, even though you know he's ready and he doesn't want to wait.
"No," you turn down, "I don't want to wait. I may never be ready. So tomorrow afternoon we'll just call her and go through with it anyway." You know all that's true, you may never be ready for this and you really do want to go through with it tomorrow whether or not you are because your desire to see her does outweigh your fear.
"Okay then," Puck agrees, " tomorrow we open the adoption."
After a while more of letting everything settle in (and doing some homework- and some of Puck's to give his teachers a surprise and hopefully help him actually pass his classes) you go downstairs and watch TV with your mom as promised. You spend most of the night tossing and turning in bed, thinking of what will be to come, what could be to come, in the next few days.
Tonight, in one of the brief times you do fall asleep, you have a dream about the phone call you're going to make. In it, when you tell Shelby you want the adoption to be open, she refuses and tells you she's taken your daughter away and you'll never find her. She also laughs- kind of like the Wicked Witch of the West. And as unlikely you know all of that is because Shelby promised she'd do anything you want and it was even put in your adoption papers, the idea of her refusing and taking away your daughter forever, for you to never see again, is so thoroughly upsetting that you end up crying softly into your pillow. (As usual, Puck wakes up despite your sobs being quiet and wraps his arms around you, holds you.)
You're nervous all day Thursday and you can barely concentrate in your classes. Actually, you don't manage to at all. You're pretty sure you failed a quiz, but by lunch you can't remember what class you have before lunch the quiz was even in.
Puck is waiting for you at your locker at the end of the day. You've already talked about this. You're going to drive straight home and call her from your house phone- this is an important call and you don't want it to have the potential of getting dropped because you called from one of your crappy cell phones.
You gather your things, take his hand, and start to head towards the parking lot. But you only make it ten feet before Artie's rolling by you, Tina at his side, and they're saying that they'll see you both at glee. Crap. You have glee practice today. Actually, you have it in two minutes.
Puck freezes along with you and you stare at him, hoping he has an idea. You really don't want to put this off, but you don't want to miss glee either. All the people who have ever been a real friend to you are in there and you've come to hate skipping any opportunities to spend time with them.
"Come on, I know what to do," Puck says, pulling on you towards the choir room.
When you get there, most everyone is already there with the exception of Mr. Schue (but that's typical- he's usually last to arrive).
Instead of walking to the risers and taking a seat as usual (and as everyone else has already done) Puck stops walking when you get to the middle of the room. You stop with him, not having any idea what he's doing.
Then, he whistles and calls, "Listen up." Now you know where he's going with this. Well, you suppose you never discussed whether or not you were going to tell everyone what your new decision was. You probably should have but it's a little late for that now.
"We're calling Shelby to tell her we decided we want a really open adoption and that we want to see Beth so we need to know where we'll get the best cell service around school so the call doesn't get dropped and we'll need you all to cover for us with Mr. Schue for a minute," Puck directs.
"Or several minutes," you amend.
Before any of the glee clubbers have a chance to respond, Mr. Schue comes through the door behind you. He sets down his things on the piano and notices your position. He asks to the room at large as he comes over to you and Puck, "What's going on?"
"They're going to call my birth mother- their daughter's adopted mother- about arranging to see their daughter and making their adoption a very open one," Rachel quickly jumps in responding. To everyone's pointed looks at her completely honest answer despite the fact that Puck had just implied making something up, Rachel defends, "What? In this case the truth was a much more understandable reason for skipping out for a few minutes than any excuse would have been."
Rachel has a point, but you're too busy waiting for Mr. Schue's reaction to acknowledge that right now. The people in this room are your friends and they'd simply support you rather than make any comment about your decision. Mr. Schue, though you know he's a kind man and wouldn't judge you, is also rational and smart and you fear he's going to make some really good point as to why you shouldn't go through with what you're going to do that doesn't make you want to see her any less, but it makes you know you shouldn't.
"Oh," he says, "that's great." He seems really confused though and even if he just said something of approval you're worried when he opens his mouth again. Luckily he just says, "I'm sorry, but I don't understand what's going on still. What's this about an excuse?"
"We didn't need an excuse exactly," you explain. You don't see why you wouldn't have told Mr. Schue the truth, you know he'd understand even if he had disagreed so where Puck's "cover for us" came from you're not sure. You suppose it could have just been a phrase used slightly incorrectly or Puck's habits coming out. Either way, Mr. Schue knowing the truth was fine with you (despite your fear of his reaction). You elaborate, "We just needed them to tell you why we were missing the start of rehearsal."
"And for some opinions on where we'd get the best cell service because I never really pay attention to where I get good service. Except that I get real crap service in Sp-" Puck adds on and stops himself.
Mr. Schue caught on to the unfinished word though and where Puck was going with that. You're pretty sure nearly everyone caught on to Puck admitting that he knew he got bad service in Spanish class, which he has with Mr. Schue and during which he shouldn't be using his phone. Thankfully, Mr. Schue glosses over it and says, "Well, there's a phone on the wall if you guys want to use that if the reliability of your cell phones is a concern."
You hesitate and so does Puck. You really don't want to do this in front of everyone. If Mr. Schue was going to let you use a school phone, couldn't he have offered the one in his classroom where you could be alone to make this call?
Mr. Schue catches on to why you're not instantly accepting and says to the room, "We could give you guys some privacy. Anyone have a problem with delaying the start of glee practice for about ten minutes and going ten minutes longer than usual?"
There are shakes of heads and some vocalized "no" responses as everyone seems okay with giving up the room and giving the two of you some time to make this very important call.
"Alright," Mr. Schue concludes, "let's clear out- just text or call everyone when you want us back."
Despite there being more than one door in the room, everyone files out toward the door behind you. This allows them to pass by you, most of them pausing as they walk by to offer some sign of support or understanding.
The first two to pass by you are Santana and Brittney. Santana's not affectionate at all with most people and she's not with you either. But she offers a smile. Brittney doesn't offer anything-which makes sense when you hear her ask Santana as they're heading out the door, "Is practice over already?"
Then come Mike and Matt. Mike passes by Puck and gives him a pat on the shoulder as he passes, Matt does the same to you.
Artie and Tina pass on Puck's side at the same time Mercedes and Kurt are on yours. They both hug you and in hugging them back you fail to notice what goes on with Artie, Tina, and Puck. You know they paused, despite both of them still occasionally seeming a bit fearful of him, but they're nice people so they probably offered something kind.
Then came Rachel and Finn. Finn did the hand shake/one armed hug thing guys do with Puck and Rachel just stood in front of you watching them for a second. Then she looks at you and warns, "You're probably not going to like this, but I don't care." Then she hugs you, very quickly. Despite not feeling the same way you used to about Rachel, you still hadn't liked the idea of hugging her. It's not so bad though. You definitely appreciate the gesture.
Then when Rachel pulls away she warns Puck, "I'm hugging you too."
As Puck tries to back away and then squirm away from Rachel- he's not one for mushy moments, especially when forced upon him- Finn smiles at you a little and then leans down and hugs you. He pulls away after a few seconds and says genuinely, "Good luck with everything."
"Thanks," you reply.
Then you both notice your significant others and Finn instructs, "Rach, let him go."
"Not until he hugs me back," Rachel returns.
Puck continues to stand defiantly with his arms at his sides and grumbles as he squirms, "How the hell are you this strong Berry?" Which, after another attempt to break free, is closely followed by, "Finn get your girlfriend off me."
Finn just laughs, and if you didn't have so much on your mind, you'd be tempted to too. You hear Mr. Schue laugh behind you, unable to completely stay out of it even though you know he meant to.
Finally, Finn takes mercy on Puck and says, "Come on Rach, let Puck go. If you do we could get out of here and probably have just enough time to go get some ice cream before we have to be back, my treat."
Rachel's eyes widen like a little kid at the mention of ice cream and she promptly releases Puck. As she heads for the door with Finn, she warns Puck, "I will get you to hug me back."
Puck only has time for a doubtful scoff in return before Finn's pulled her out the door.
Mr. Schue walks over to you then, pauses before both of you and asks, "Are you guys sure you're okay doing this on your own? I could stay if you want. Or I could go get Ms. Pillsbury."
"Thanks but, we need to do this on our own," Puck answers for you.
He nods, hugs you and pats Puck's shoulder. He smiles at you both and looks a little watery eyed. He tells you sincerely, "I'm really proud of both of you and how maturely you've handled everything despite how hard I know it's all been. If you ever need anything though, you know I'm always here, right?"
You both nod. You do so because you're not sure you could talk. You're near tears and you don't want to risk speaking causing the tears to actually come. Mr. Schue's approval means more to you than you could have thought it would come to. But you once thought your daughter would know him as her father and he was by far one of the best men you knew so the fact that he thought you were dealing with everything well, that you were making the right choices, meant a whole lot to you.
He makes his way out and then it's just the two of you. You turn to Puck and he takes your hand. He doesn't waste any time, pulling you over to the phone on the wall opposite the trophy cases. As you walk over, you scroll through your phone for Shelby's cell phone number. (You have it memorized. It's the number to where your daughter is, how could you not know that by heart even if you haven't called it? But you looked just in case- you don't want anything, even the smallest thing, going wrong here.)
You dial the number and hit speaker as it rings so that both you and Puck can talk to Shelby.
She answers on the third ring, "Hello?"
"Shelby," you begin.
"Oh good," she interrupts, "when I saw the McKinley High on my caller ID I was thinking what did my glee club do to that school now that their principal or Will is calling me about?" Before you can say anything, talking endlessly much like Rachel, Shelby continues, "I'm so glad to hear from you though. Does this mean you and Puck have made a decision about the open or closed adoption?"
"Yes," you confirm, "Puck's here too and that's what we called about."
"Oh, hi Puck," she greets since she knows he's on the phone with you now.
"Hi," he returns.
You open your mouth to tell her your decision, but before any words come out she hastily asks, "Can you guys hang on just a quick second?"
Before you agree, she's clearly not listening anymore as you can hear her yell, "That's what you've learned in the last week? That was awful. If you want to win state and move on to nationals then you're going to have to find a helluva lot more passion up there." You hear her sigh and continue, "You don't deserve it, but I'm on an important call so you have a three minute break. But in those three minutes I highly suggest you find some kind of emotion to express in your next run through or we'll all be here a very long time today."
"Sorry," she says to you, retuning to the phone call, "I couldn't take complete maternity leave despite the fact that anyone else with a new baby would. I got a sub for my music classes, and I got Dakota Stanley to work with the kids six days a week- but that's their punishment for what they did to your choir room and for them egging Rachel- but with state coming up I couldn't not be here completely so I'm here and Beth's here on Thursdays for now." She realizes she's rambling and says, "Anyway, you guys had a decision. So, what is it?"
You look to Puck and he nods, letting you know that he's okay with you going ahead and saying it. "We'd like to try the really open adoption you mentioned," you tell her carefully, clearly.
"Fantastic!" she exclaims. "So I guess you want to see Beth really soon then?" she questions. Before you answer she continues, "Well, you're welcome to come right over and hang out with her here at rehearsal. I don't really recommend it though- this isn't a very pleasant environment right now and for any alone time or bonding with her, this probably isn't the best place to start. Still, I know you're probably eager so you're welcome to come by."
"Sounds fine to me," Puck says, "but it's cool if I hit one of your Vocal Adrenaline kids, right? 'Cause if I'm around them there's a pretty good chance of me doing that."
"How about we wait until another day?" You suggest quickly. Puck may be getting away with punching people at your school because he has the staff afraid of him, but you're pretty sure those Vocal Adrenaline kids would probably report him to the authorities and he'd end up charged with assault. He's lucky he doesn't have a vandalism charge so you really, really want to avoid him getting arrested for anything if you can.
Puck looks at you surprised because he knows how much you want to see her and now you're putting it off. So, you explain (inadvertently to Shelby too), "I want to see her as soon as possible. But we do have glee club ourselves as soon as we're done here and I don't want to risk your temper. Plus, we have a lot of things to discuss about the open adoption and I-I can't put it off. I can't spend time with her and not get any answers because Shelby will be busy or because I don't want to discuss everything in front of a group of people I really dislike. And I'd really like to see where Beth lives and where she's been these past eleven days. And I just-"
You had gotten caught up rambling. Another school's auditorium while her adoptive mother directs a bunch of kids you hate and just beat you was so far from the type of situation you thought you'd be seeing your daughter in. It felt so wrong- the idea of the first time you see her again, hold her and know she's really someone else's now but that you'll be around as something anyway, would take place in an environment like that threw you. As much as you want to see her, you don't want anything ruining this first time you see her and if you took Shelby up on her proposal for coming today, there seemed to be hundreds of components that would very likely ruin it.
"It's okay," Puck interrupts your rant. "Today probably isn't the best idea. It'd be weird to be there with those douches and her," Puck agrees. He adds to Shelby, "So that rules out today, any other time we can see her?"
"Sure. I can be free all day tomorrow," she proposes, but she tacks on, "but I'd prefer if you guys didn't come over until after you get out of school because I know you want to see her, but you should go to your classes."
"Let's ditch," Puck mouths to you silently.
"No," you return firmly. He's ditched enough for the both of you and you want to graduate with honors as planned, which you haven't let anything get in the way of yet and you're not starting now.
Not knowing about the silent debate between the two of you, Shelby continues to propose, "But after school you guys could come right over and you could spend as long as you want over here. Well, I don't really have anywhere for you to sleep so you can't spend the night, but if you want to spend the entire rest of the day here, with Beth, that's fine with me."
"That sounds great," you tell her, confirming that you will come after school.
Puck rolls his eyes, clearly preferring that you ditch.
She recounts how to get to her apartment despite the fact that there were directions on the papers she gave you at the hospital the last time you saw her. Then she says, "Oh, and you should drive by my new house too. I found it two days ago, made an offer, and it was accepted this morning. It's in your school district and I should be moving in a month or so." She then gives you directions to the house she's buying so you can drive by and see where Beth will be living soon, where she'll be raised.
She promises you'll discuss everything about how the open adoption will work tomorrow, but for now she really has to go. She tells you both that she's so glad that you decided to be involved and that she'll see you tomorrow.
You hang up after you're sure she has- lingering just in case. You stand there, looking at Puck after the call has ended, just breathing and letting it settle in. You made your decision and tomorrow you'll see your daughter again.
Like he always seems to lately, he knows what you need and he hugs you, holds you and kisses your hair, the top of your head.
Eventually, he says, trying to make you laugh, "We should ditch tomorrow anyway. I've been showing up to my classes way too much lately."
"Get used to it," you tell him.
He scoffs, but doesn't argue. He lets you go and you figure you should probably get everyone back for glee practice. He texts Finn while you call Mr. Schue.
It only takes a few minutes before you're in the chairs on the risers and everyone is around you, seeming like practice as usual.
Mr. Schue stands in front of you all, clearly going to respect your privacy as he begins, "So I have a new song-"
"How did it go?" Rachel interrupts him asking you eagerly.
"Guys, let's respect their privacy-" Mr. Schue tries.
"If they already told us what they were doing then they clearly don't care that much about privacy," Rachel argues.
Everyone else then joins in asking and Mr. Schue sighs defeated.
Puck starts out offering the information you learned about Vocal Adrenaline's punishment for what they did to all of you and Rachel- something even Mr. Schue is interested in learning about. Then you tell them all that Shelby was great about your decision, happy about it even, and you'll see Beth and discuss the exact details of your arrangement tomorrow after school. This leads into you showing the pictures of Beth you put on your phone and Puck taking out and passing around the one he had in his wallet.
You hadn't done this- discussed her with anyone. Just the idea of doing so made you really want to cry because she's gone and she felt so far away. Now, with the promise of tomorrow and seeing her on a regular basis, it actually feels nice to talk about her. To acknowledge her existence and know she's yours, have everyone know she's yours. Because now you're certain she'll know you and she'll know that she's yours forever even if you chose to give her another mom who could give her things you couldn't.
You do get back to practice eventually and when it's finally over Kurt approaches you with Mercedes in tow and asks you what you're planning on wearing for the special occasion tomorrow. You hadn't thought of that so he suggests following you home and finding you something. (The mall would be a natural suggestion, but you just had a melt down there yesterday and he seems to know you wouldn't go back.) You accept the offer and it still feels weird to bring home friends, have your mom greet them and invite them to stay for dinner- definitely a very, very good weird though.
Your outfit is easily settled- you don't have a lot that fits that well right now anyway so not a lot to chose from made a selection easy. Mercedes then spends some time trying out various nail polishes you have while catching you up on things with her family—she had quite a large extended family and you got to know a lot about them during your brief time living with her.
Chatting with Mercedes distracts you from Puck and Kurt though and to your surprise when your attention is eventually drawn to them again over an hour later, Puck is grabbing his keys and he's going to drive him and Kurt to the mall. Apparently while you were busy talking, Kurt convinced Puck that he didn't own anything he should be wearing around his daughter. ("Even if she wouldn't be aware of it right now, do you really think it's appropriate for you to wear a t-shirt with a half naked woman or profanity on it around your daughter?" Kurt had questioned him.) So they're going to the mall, Finn meeting them there, and the three of them will be getting Puck "appropriate" clothing. Though Puck warns Kurt that if he "tries to make him look gay" he's going to get tossed in the nearest dumpster.
Mercedes clearly wants to go just to see this really odd occurrence and you kind of want to go too. But even if everything is different than it was yesterday, you know it's too soon for you. If you go and see more women there with their babies, you're pretty sure your reaction won't be any different. So, you refrain from even mentioning that you want to go. And Mercedes, being a good friend, doesn't mention how she clearly wants to go either. Instead she just stays with you and continues to talk to you.
As soon as Puck and Kurt are gone, she lays into you about what's going on between you and Puck. You only give her the basics- he's going to move in to your guest room because things are bad with his mom and you're together now. Everything else, like how he's been perfect and you're certain you may not still be breathing if you didn't have him through all this and how you're in love with him and he's in love with you, you keep to yourself, just letting it be yours and Puck's.
Eventually you and Mercedes end up helping your mom with dinner and then eating- deciding that you're not going to wait for the guys to return to eat because it's already been over an hour and according to Mercedes, Kurt's shopping trips tend to at least last three times that. Your mom asks if you should be making enough for Finn too and you have no idea if he would come back here with Kurt and Puck so you call Puck and tell him that you're going to go ahead and eat and dinner will be waiting for him and Kurt when the return or him, Kurt, and Finn if he wants. You'd assumed he'd then ask Finn and get back to you but instead you hear him call, "Finn, you in for dinner back at Quinn's?" "Don't you mean home?" you hear Finn return, joking. Followed by, "Yeah, of course. You know I don't turn down food." Then Puck returns to you, "Yeah, count on Finn for dinner." He then hangs up pretty quickly, in the process interjecting to Kurt that no, he won't wear purple. It sounds like he's been telling Kurt and Finn about at least one thing that's happened between you recently, which means that tomorrow the whole glee club will know. Oh well, you're pretty sure they all suspected or assumed anyways. Except maybe Brittney- she could be really out of the loop sometimes.
After dinner you and Mercedes introduce your mom to a series she got you hooked on while you were living with her- The Real Housewives of Atlanta. Lucky enough there was a mini-marathon on tonight. It's awful. Really, you think that most of these women really give women a bad name. Still, you can't stop watching. Your mom quickly comes to feel similarly as she insists it's terrible, but never even mentions watching anything else.
Puck and Kurt and Finn come back while you're in your second hour of the show. You pause it and your mom reheats dinner as Kurt shows you and Mercedes everything he bought (like he was going to go shopping and not get something for himself, that's unheard of). He then tries to talk Puck into trying on everything he bought and giving them a little fashion show. Puck simply glares in return.
To cut that standstill, and because he's eager to show someone what he bought, Finn eagerly pulls out his purchase. It's a Cubs jersey that he got for half-off and is clearly really excited about, telling you everything about the guy who's number/name is on the back though honestly you can't remember who that was because the guy didn't sound at all familiar. As Finn does this, Kurt rolls his eyes- clearly not approving of the purchasing of sports paraphernalia.
The guys eat and you get back to your program. Eventually everyone leaves. It's only after you're up in your room, alone with Puck, that he finally shows you what he bought. He says that Kurt tried to talk him into polo shirts and a bunch of Abercrombie stuff, and that's why he just bought a bunch of casual button up shirts. Most of them are short sleeved or the kind that easily roll up since it'll be summer soon. They're also mostly solid colors except for one that's black and white plaid and one that's black and red plaid. He figures that with the one nicer shirt he already has (the other one got torn- fight club), he should have plenty of good things to see Beth in now and to be in pictures with her. Apparently one of the things Kurt had mentioned about Puck's cruder T-shirts was that while Beth wouldn't know what they were now, when she looks back on pictures of her father with her as a baby, is that what he wanted her to see? Hence Puck's willingness to go shopping with Kurt in the first place- he didn't want Beth eventually having pictures of him looking like a douche for wearing inappropriate things around her. You promise him that if Beth knows him like you know him, she'll never be able to believe he's a douche even if she had pictures making it seem like it was true.
You go to bed that night and unlike every other night you don't have a nightmare. Though, this is probably mostly due to the fact that you don't sleep- at all. You're too anxious, too eager, about tomorrow for your mind to rest for a second.
Puck does not have the same problem at all as he sleeps through the night, no problem. One of his arms wrapped around you, you try to remember how this feels. You won't have him here much longer. You understand your mom's reason for wanting him to move to a separate room and stop spending the night with you and you know it would probably be wise to take a step back in your relationship (maybe actually date for the first time). But still, you're going to miss being here with him like this- feeling so safe and comfortable and loved.
In the morning you and Puck leave for school early so you can go by the house Shelby told you she bought. Yesterday you had Mercedes and Kurt following you so you put it off, but you really didn't want to wait until after school today to do it, you wanted to go straight to Shelby's to see Beth after school. There's no one parked in front of the house so Puck pulls over and stops his car. You sit there for a little while, just looking at the house your daughter is going to grow up in. It's about six minutes from your house on a tree-lined street. They're older houses, but nice and this one is a little one-story with a big front porch and has flowerbeds full of flowers lining the walkway up to the front door. You see parents shuffling younger kids out into mini-vans and cars at a few houses on the block, meaning she'll have kids around to play with because this is a family neighborhood. It's nice. (It reminds you of the type of place you'd hoped- hope- you'll end up.)
School goes by dreadfully slowly. It goes by at such a painfully slow pace that you actually begin to think that Puck was right and you should have ditched. You don't tell him that though of course. You know you feel that way just because you're so eager for the afternoon and rationally Puck's seeming insistence not to care about school is wrong.
School does finally end though. Throughout the time in between the last two periods, it seemed like everyone from glee found you to tell you something along the lines that they hope today goes well and they're around if you need anything. It was really nice and once again you find yourself so glad you joined glee club and that you have real friends (even if most of them are fellow social outcasts).
You walk out of school holding Puck's hand and you're glad that continues once you're in his car and making your way there otherwise both of your hands would be shaking instead of just the one he's not holding. You're nervous about so many things. You're nervous that "really open" won't mean the same thing that Shelby had implied and you had come to think. You're nervous that discussing what "really open" will mean won't go well and Shelby will retract her offer. You're nervous that you won't be able to walk away from Beth again, to leave her with someone else again. You're nervous that in not wanting to leave her again, you'll want her back for good and you'll change your mind about the adoption all together even though you know you made the right choice for your daughter in giving her to Shelby and in doing so gave her a home you couldn't (still can't) give her. You're nervous that it won't feel the same to hold her. You're nervous that in spending all this time trying to tell yourself she's not yours anymore, to try and let her go so you avoid falling apart at every second, she's not going to feel like she's yours. You fear those last two the most out of everything. Out of all the pain and heartache you've miraculously managed to live through, you suspect that you wouldn't be able to live through that, to deal with your own daughter not feeling like she's yours at all.
The drive to Shelby's apartment complex only takes eleven minutes. When you get there you get out of the car and smooth your outfit, looking at your reflection in the window to make sure you're perfect for her (it not occurring to you that you're actually looking at your whole image in a reflection and like and know the girl looking back at you for a change) as Puck gets the bag you brought from his trunk. Your mom had bought a gift, as she said she would, but she also gave you a box of your baby stuff this morning so you could pick out something that had been yours to give to Beth, if you wanted. You picked out a stuffed panda that you remember well- insisting on having it with you always until your mom said it "got lost" when you were almost four. Puck helped you pick it out of your things as the best thing to leave with her. Of course you'll probably be giving her other things- Puck had already mentioned wanting to get her something "cool" but didn't know what something "cool" would be for a baby yet. But this will be the first thing you give her and, you hope, one she likes as much as you had so you can have little piece of you with her always.
You find Shelby's apartment and take a deep breath before knocking gently on the door as per her instructions just in case Beth is sleeping. You nervously smooth your dress again.
Shelby promptly opens the door with a smile and greets you with a hushed, "Hey guys." As she motions you in, you notice that she looks really tired- though very happy. She shuts the door behind you and hugs you and then Puck. Then she explains, still whispering, "Beth's still sleeping. I was hoping she'd be awake by the time you got here, but I haven't managed to really get her on a schedule yet so she's kind of just asleep or awake whenever and we'll just have to work around it. It'll give us a chance to discuss everything first though I suppose." She shakes her head and chides, "Where are my manners? Come in, sit down, please. I'm sorry. I've been a scatter brain lately- not getting much sleep, but that's okay, it's perfect."
She gestures to the tiny living room area right off the door. She wasn't kidding when she said you guys couldn't spend the night because she wouldn't have a place for you to sleep. Her furniture in the small room consists of a love seat and a big overstuffed chair. There's not even much floor space. It's nice though- feels homey.
Puck sits on the loveseat and you sit beside him. She takes a seat in the chair kitty-corner to the couch. There's a couple of burping cloths lying on her chair and she picks them up and folds them as she says, "Sorry for the mess." There's seriously not much of a mess- some scattered baby things (pacifier, blankets, bottle), but really it's not messy. She continues, "Things have been hectic lately. Good hectic though- fantastic hectic actually. This wasn't at all how I expected my life to go, and I'm sure you've both felt that way lately, but I don't know about you guys, but even if it wasn't what I imagined I love how my life is going right now."
You can't completely say the same thing. The fact that you couldn't keep her still kills you. You wish so much that you were just a little bit older, actually at least almost ready to be a mom and capable of taking on all of the responsibility it entails. Still, you understand what she means. You catch Puck's eyes and you know he's thinking the same. The two of you, nothing about the two of you has been what you imagined for yourself, but as Shelby feels about her unexpected situation, it's fantastic anyway.
"I just zoned out. I'm so sorry. Did I miss anything?" Shelby asks suddenly, breaking you from your thoughts.
"No," you answer.
"I haven't been getting much sleep," she repeats, not seeming aware that she already said that. She laughs and suggests, "While you guys are here to watch her I may even take a short nap. If that'd be cool with you guys?"
"Sure," Puck agrees. It's pretty obvious she would appreciate it and you know both of you wouldn't mind time with Beth on your own. You'd never object to any offered time with her.
"Great," she says with a sigh of relief. "Okay, I guess down to business. Would you like me to start out with what I was thinking for how this would work or did you guys have an idea you wanted to propose?" she asks. You tell her to go ahead because you have no idea where to begin and if she does then you're all for it. She continues, "Okay, well, I should warn you that I've talked to Rachel-"
"Yeah, we heard all about that from Rachel already," you interject, suspecting Shelby would tell you a long story about it like Rachel had and hoping to skip over it and save yourself some time. Though, technically, Puck only heard your very brief re-cap but you know he doesn't want all the details either.
"Oh," she says, seeming a little surprised, but she gets back to her point, "well then as you know we cleared the air and I do want to have some kind of relationship with her eventually, when she's ready. And then I talked to her father's about it. Considering how I pursued a relationship with Rachel when I shouldn't have, they were pretty great about it. They want me to have a relationship with Rachel since Rachel wants to have one with me. Just like I hadn't anticipated wanting the daughter I knew wasn't going to be mine so much, they hadn't anticipated that Rachel would still want to know me even if they loved her as much as any two parents could. So we talked, with their therapist, who suggested that open adoptions and the situation I'll have with Rachel and her family would be better if all the parents have a solid, open relationship with each other rather than just trying to let the parents form bonds with the kids alone. So, would that be okay with you two? The three of us bonding and trying to become each other's family as well as Beth's?"
You lost family during your pregnancy. But during it you also learned that you can find new family in friends, in Puck, and that the more family you have, the better off you are. So you tell her, "Yeah, that's fine with me."
The three of you becoming a family so you can be a real, if not unconventional, family to Beth seems to be appealing to Puck as well since he quickly adds on, "Me too."
"Great. So, to me, what that all means is that we communicate openly between the three of us, we see each other at least once a week no matter what our schedules are like, you're definitely my go-to babysitters, we try to spend holidays together, and I want you to get alone time with Beth at least once a week too. I'm assuming all that sounds good?" Shelby proposes.
Seeing Beth twice a week- once on your own- and for all holiday's sounds awesome to you. It almost makes it sound like you'll get to be around her so much that you may not even have time to miss her (you know you will though).
"Real good," Puck confirms, "but what kind of holidays are we talking because I'm Jewish and she's Christian and you said you're Jewish but not religious, right?"
"I was thinking all of them. I like celebrations so I tend to do the non-denominational ones like Thanksgiving and Memorial Day, I usually have some friend that celebrates the Christian ones so I celebrate them pretty frequently, and despite not really being religious I do still celebrate all major Jewish holidays. Yeah, so I was just thinking all of them if that's cool," Shelby answers.
You've never celebrated a Jewish holiday before and you don't even know very many of them. Not to long ago you were pretty religious and it probably would have felt sacrilegious to celebrate a holiday of another religion. But it's part of your daughter and a part you want her to know so agreeing is easy. "That sounds great," you tell her.
Shelby sighs and begins, "Now for the harder part." Uh-oh, you think. "In a few years I know you two probably have plans to go off to college-"
"Not me, just her," Puck informs her with a gesture to you.
"Okay, well, that doesn't really change anything… the thing is, if you guys head separate directions or start needing separate time with her things will get more complicated. I'll try to make whatever work, but I can't promise anything," Shelby tells you.
"I'm going wherever she's going and you don't have to worry about anything being done separately as far as I'm concerned," Puck declares.
You can't help it, you blush furiously. You're not used to Puck proclaiming things like this and you can't help any physical reaction you have to it.
"Well," Shelby draws out with a smile, seeming impressed by Puck's faith and dedication and love for you. She doesn't dwell on it, knowing that guys tend to hate talk of feelings, and continues, "That makes it a bit easier. If you're definitely headed in the same direction, as long as you let me know that direction early enough, I could move to wherever you go or at least near by if you want. I can usually find a pretty good job wherever and I'm not particularly attached to Lima so I'm okay with moving. I don't want Beth to have to move a lot though so if it could only be the one time to wherever you decide to go to school, that'd be really great. But whether I follow you or whether I stay here and you just visit often, that's up to you guys. I just wanted to warn you now so you have plenty of time to consider it."
You hadn't even thought that far ahead- to how this would work when you were in college. As Puck had found by going through your bookmarks, you used to look at colleges really far away. Now, you have a feeling you'll be staying in Ohio, somewhere near Beth or with her and Shelby coming with you, and despite having previously thought you'd hate that, you think you're going to be very happy as long as you still get to see Beth and have Puck with you as he swears he's going to be.
Shelby then gets down to working out a plan with the both of you, which you're really grateful for because having a plan makes you feel more at ease with everything. She tells you that right now she's talking to Rachel's dad's on the phone regularly, but that they think in another month or so they should all start meeting for a meal once a week or activity or something. She lets you know that whenever that does happen, she plans on having Beth with her because she's going to know Rachel's family and Beth is her family now so they should know her. It's weird to think that Rachel and her dads, who you've never met, will also be forming a sort of family with your daughter and maybe even you. You know Rachel has a lot of love in her life thanks to her dads though, so maybe it will be a good thing have more caring people in your life.
Shelby has about four more weeks of her maternity leave and she's hoping that you'll take Beth on the one day a week she's with her glee kids. She says she'll re-arrange the day she goes in to Friday so it doesn't interfere with your glee practice. Apparently hers are rather hostile right now under the pressure of the upcoming state competition so she'd like to stop bringing Beth. She got a key made for her apartment for you (and will do the same for her house) so you can watch Beth over here and not have to spend your money on baby stuff to have at your house- though you're welcome to if you want. She also asked what other day would be good for you to take Beth after school, just for a while, because she may need to start going in twice a week with how poorly her kids have been progressing lately.
Between you, you decide that on Sundays Shelby will come over with Beth to your house for dinner with you, Puck, and your mom. Also, she somehow gets you and Puck to offer to help her move and bring friends of yours to help her move. You're not sure how you got roped into that, but if means more time with Beth you're okay with that.
Since Beth won't be opening the gift you brought, you give it to Shelby. She smiles and thanks you for the panda, saying she hadn't actually had time to get any stuffed animals yet so she's glad you brought one of your old ones for Beth.
You're not sure what your mom got her, she hadn't mentioned it and you were too preoccupied thinking about this meeting to ask. Shelby pulls out your mom's gift and it's a picture she took at the hospital of you and Puck and Beth. The one that was your mom's favorite where you're both looking down at Beth with soft, awe-filled smiles on your faces. She has a nice silver frame around it engraved with the date the picture was taken.
"That's perfect," Shelby comments, seeming truly touched by it. "I was so glad when you called," she confesses, "I know how much you love her. What you did, in giving her up so she could have a life you knew you couldn't provide, that shows how much you love her- to put yourselves through that so she could have something better. But I know that what's even better than just me having her, than just someone who can give her the kind of life you want for her, is for her to have the both of you as well. For Beth to experience how much you love her by the both of you being in her lives." Tearing up, she adds through sniffles, "And I'm just so glad she's going to have that."
The lack of sleep has clearly made her a little overly emotional, but then again you're wiping away tears now too. Though, like her, you haven't exactly been sleeping well. Whether from exhaustion, left-over pregnancy hormones, or just the situation in general, you find yourself accepting the tissue box from Shelby to dry your eyes.
Then, you hear a cry.
Your heart stops. Your breath catches in your throat. And Puck takes your hand resting on the small space of cushion between you.
"She's awake," Shelby sing-songs and promptly gets up to go get her from wherever she is.
You clutch Puck's hand for dear life.
It's only a few seconds before Shelby's coming back out of the small hallway she walked down holding a bundle in a blanket in her arms and shushing and rocking it. Beth stops crying by the time Shelby gets her over to you.
"Who's first?" Shelby asks as she crosses her small living room to the both of you on the couch.
"Quinn," Puck says immediately. You know he wants to hold her just as much as you. But like he always seems to be lately, he's thinking of you and demonstrating again just how much he loves you.
You stopped breathing and thinking so it doesn't even occur to you to protest and demonstrate in return that you care for him by insisting he get to hold her first. Instead, your eyes stay glued to what is only a form in a blanket from your angle as Shelby eases her down into your waiting arms.
And then, you see her just as she's settled in your arms again for the first time in twelve whole days- the longest twelve days of your life.
"She's probably going to want to eat soon so I'm going to go make a bottle, give you a little time alone," Shelby says, though you just barely hear her- too caught up in your daughter.
She's exactly as you remember. Well, actually she looks a bit better. She's not so puff and pink anymore. But she's still absolutely perfect. And more importantly she still feels the same in your arms. The second she was in them, that feeling of every cell in your body lighting up comes back and it puts this state of ease as your heart as it overflows with this overwhelming sense of completeness. She still feels like she's yours and what makes you feel really good in this moment is that you realize she always will and she'll always know that she's yours and that you love her and that you will be a very big part of her life even if you're not the one she calls "mom."
You don't realize you're crying until you notice a few tears hit her blanket.
"You okay?" Puck asks, wrapping his arm around you and holding you as you hold your daughter.
"I'm fine," you say, smiling. And for the first time in over nine months now, you actually mean it. You didn't get to keep your daughter, but you got to give her the life you wanted her to have and you get to be a part of it and through all of this you found that you have a lot more love in your life than you ever had before. So, you truly are fine and the tears you're crying are ones of happiness.
Being in Puck's arms as your daughter is in yours and with this new family you and everyone in your life are going to form, you have a feeling that fine is a state you're all going to be for a long while to come.
A/N: I hope you enjoyed the story!
Just for clarification purposes, open adoptions are not commonly like the one described in the story above. In most open adoptions the birth parents simply get pictures and updates occasionally or maybe a rare visit. The type of very open adoption described above does happen though- where all parties involved try to become a family with each other- and they have been very successful. Given what we know about Shelby's character, I believed that she'd be likely to be open to the idea of a really open adoption- except for the fact that she's played by a guest star and therefore doesn't have the possibility of being a regular character.
And again, for those of you reading Cheated Hearts, there's new info on my profile.
Thanks for reading and please REVIEW!