Author Note: None.
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
All That Matters
The ride home is almost totally silent, nothing but the muted sound of the engine and an occasional sniff from Quinn breaking the silence between them. She sits in the passenger seat looking out the window with her arms crossed tight across her chest, like she's trying to hold herself together.
The silence is fine with Judy because she really doesn't know what to say.
When she pulls up to the house, the windows are dark and the driveway is empty, just the way she left it. Everything she's strived to keep from touching her perfect life has fallen on them within a year, and her good Christian husband is absent, his income and the better car gone with him. She shoulders Quinn's bag and heaves it as gracefully as she can out of the back seat as her daughter stands listlessly by the car in the driveway, feeling a stab of guilt at how little Quinn's possessions weigh. Judy picks her way carefully into the house and up the stairs in too-high heels, opening the door to a room that hasn't been used in months, although it's still spotless and free of dust, the sheets changed and aired and the curtains drawn back to let the sunlight in.
"Thanks," Quinn whispers as Judy sets the bag down on her daughter's desk, and Judy nods stiffly as she turns, aching to reach out and fold her daughter into her arms now that she's back. She settles for pressing a brief kiss to the top of Quinn's head, sweeping a stand of hair out of her face and behind her ear before she leaves.
The next morning, breakfast is as quiet as the ride back home. The click of forks on plates takes the place of conversation. Judy manages to swallow her questions, playing with the uneaten egg on her plate as Quinn finishes her breakfast, chair scraping quietly against the hardwood as she gets up, rinsing her plate in the sink before slinking out of the room.
Judy has a better idea of what she wants to say and, maybe, of what Quinn wants to hear from her, but putting everything into the right words is beyond her.
They've gone from a family of four—five, for one brief moment, Judy corrects herself—down to two. The situation is far from ideal, but they've managed to make it work as much as they can. Quinn's silence isn't resentful, but it isn't exactly welcoming, either, so Judy waits.
She's been waiting for three weeks and is ready to wait even longer when the doorbell rings one Sunday morning. There's no one to put on a show for anymore, so Judy answers with a tumbler in one hand, not bothering to slip it behind her back and hold it there out of sight.
"Mrs. Fabray," the girl on her front step says in greeting, a hip cocked. "Is Quinn home?"
Judy nods, speechless, her gaze traveling from spotless Air Jordans up to crossed arms and then to the girl's stubborn expression, reminiscent of Santana Lopez, until the girl clears her throat unsubtly and Judy steps back, holding the door open. The girl saunters in and is halfway up the stairs before Judy swallows and remembers how to speak, turning around as she closes the front door.
"And you are?"
The girl looks over her shoulder, suspicious and defiant like she's waiting for Judy to order her out of the house before the girl lets her know with no small amount of pleasure that she won't be leaving without a fight or until she's talked to Quinn.
"Mercedes," the girl says, taking another step as if she has something to prove, and Judy hears Quinn's door upstairs creak open. Judy nods, hoping the girl takes it as a sign to relax because she has no intention whatsoever of stopping her. "From glee club."
The two stay up in Quinn's room most of the afternoon, and Mercedes leaves just before dinner. Judy hears her daughter see her friend to the door, and when they sit down at the big kitchen table together, Quinn is smiling softly.
Judy has no idea who this Mercedes girl is, but if she can get Quinn to smile, she's welcome in her home.
She watches the children milling in the hallway nervously, one tiny brunette poised with her head tilted toward the intercom to catch any last-minute announcements. Mercedes and Quinn stand off to the side with the Hummel boy, talking, and after a moment, Quinn's head tilts back as she laughs. Judy doesn't remember the last time she heard Quinn laugh.
She looks around, watching the others, and happens to meet Santana's eyes. Santana sees her holding back, blending in with the line leading up to the concession stand, and the girl narrows her eyes at her with a sneer before turning away, reaching up to grab the hand Brittany's waving at her obliviously with and bring it down to her side, sliding their fingers together before the group starts to exit the hallway, William watching with a hopeful look on his face.
Judy takes a seat at the back of the audience. Even though she was here last year, she's still amazed that the group has made it this far. They're all so little, with the exception of Finn, and the other teams all have twice the number of members. But that doesn't seem to matter, because McKinley's group wins.
William walks up to her backstage, handing the enormous trophy to one of the students before he speaks. Judy's only half paying attention as William praises her daughter's improvement, watching as Quinn hugs Mercedes hard. Mercedes hugs her back, whispering something in Quinn's ear, and Judy feels her heart skip a beat because she's seen Brittany and Santana hug the exact same way—too close, too intense.
Her thoughts drift momentarily to that little pink bundle Quinn held in her arms at the hospital almost a year ago. The disapproval and the embarrassment that her daughter had landed herself in such a position had vanished the moment she laid eyes on her granddaughter, a few minutes before the little girl had been whisked away. And now, for the first time in months, Quinn actually looks happy.
The house is too quiet now, no baby around and just the two of them trying to get through another year. Judy sees the way Mercedes looks at her daughter and the way Quinn hangs on Mercedes, smiling before they part with one last hug, and she decides that whatever their relationship is, as long as it makes Quinn happy, that's really all that matters.