"Now, I know there's only a few weeks left of the school year," Will Schuester waved his arms excitedly as he addressed his pupils in the choir room "and we were lucky enough to be given a second chance by Sue, but we still have to think of next year." He looked at Rachel for a long moment, but the brunette wasn't paying attention. She was in her own little world.
"We need to be better." He continued with a hint of disappointed that Rachel seemed to be disinterested. "We were so close at regionals, it just wasn't enough. We have to work harder."
"Yeah, but we worked our asses off this year!" Puck scoffed. "And where did that get us?"
"I think, considering we were only a fledgling club, we did incredibly well! With more practice, we can only get better." Will clasped his hands together, as if in some sort of prayer. "I'm sure Rachel has some ideas." He gestured towards her, but got nothing. "Rachel?" He asked tentatively.
"Noah's right. What's the point?" The singer finally spoke.
Puck shook his head slightly. "That's not exactly what I said, Rach."
"It might as well have been. We're going to lose next year too. Why should we be happy that Coach Sylvester gave us a reprieve? We'll fail anyway."
"You don't know that, Rachel." Will approached her tentatively, and every Gleek in the room held their breath.
It had been less than a week since they'd lost regionals, and more importantly since Quinn had given birth and moved back in with her mother; and taking Baby Beth Lily with her. Rachel didn't even know it had happened until after it happened. She'd got home from school and found a note on her bed.
And she hadn't been her usual positive and bubbly self since.
Puck had been right - Quinn's mother had got inside her daughters head and now she was back at that miserable house, and no one had been able to see her. Everyone that went near the house was immediately sent away by Judy Fabray.
"You're right Mr. Schuester." Rachel stood up abruptly and picked up her bag. "I don't know that. But quite honestly, I don't care about this" She waved her hand around the room. "right now." And she began to walk out.
"Rachel, there's no need to leave."
"Perhaps Not. I appreciate what you're trying to do Mr. Schue, but I'm not feeling especially gleeful, and my mood will only be a hindrance to everyone here." She glanced over to her team mates and gave them a sad smile before she left the room.
"Should someone go after her?" Tina asked looking around.
"I dunno. Maybe she should be left alone." Santana said, and Brittany took her hand as she stared at the swinging door the singer had just gone through.
"I'll do it." Everyone turned to look at Puck.
"Is that a good idea?" The Latina asked. "I mean, she looks like she could crack at any moment."
"Don't you think that's a damn good reason to go after her?"
"I guess." She shrugged. "I just... I don't know what to say to her. Do you?"
"Not really, but someone's gotta try. I don't want to feel all guilty if she does crack, and one of us could've done something to stop it."
"Good luck!" Artie said, and gave him the thumbs up.
"Yeah." Santana sucked in her lips. "Tell her I'll call her later."
"Sure." He nodded, and ran out of the choir room.
It didn't take him long to catch up to Rachel, as she was standing in the school enterance under cover from the rain and just staring up at the sky. He stood next to her and put his hands in his pockets, and rocked back on his feet.
Well she wasn't yelling at him, or crying, or anything. That was a good sign. Maybe.
He pulled out a pack of cigarettes and matches, then lit one up.
Rachel turned to look at him in disgust. But then her face changed. "Can I have one?"
"No." He scowled down at her.
"Why not?" She asked petulantly.
"Because I refuse to be responsible of the free fall of Rachel Berry's singing career."
"You're already responsible to the free fall of my life." She mumbled.
"Nothing. Just let me try one. It's not like I plan on taking it up as a habit."
"That's what they all say. And I'm still saying no. Aren't you the one who says that a singer's voice is their instrument. And without it, something, something, something. Blah, blah, blah."
"And without it, is like a violin without strings. You were quite close there. I suppose I should be grateful you at least half listen to me."
"Yeah you should, there are plenty of people that I don't listen to at all." He said casually, and smiled when she gave a little laugh.
"I'm honoured." She breathed in, and out slowly. "I've been acting weird lately."
"Yup. It's not like we don't understand why."
"But I'm not the only one hurting here."
"Is everyone talking about me?"
"Not around me, Santana and Brittany they're not. They wouldn't fucking dare."
Rachel let out a sigh, and put her hand on his arm. "And how are you? We haven't really spoken."
Puck tensed for a moment.
How was he? He was angry as hell, and wanted to break things. But he couldn't let Rachel know this. "I'm about as well as you'd expect. They only things that are stopping me from seeing my baby, are a bitch of a woman, and a door. It's frustrating."
"Yeah." She agreed as she dropped her hand.
"Want to go somewhere? I have the car."
"Where ever you like, Rach."
"I need to go to the library."
"Okay. Not my idea of fun, but if that's where you want to go, let's roll." He turned to her with a beaming smile, and then flicked his cigarette away as he ran off in the direction of his car, jumped in, and drove it right up to Rachel. "Get in then."
"Why are you doing this, Noah?" She asked as she buckled up.
"Doing what?" He frowned.
"This. Driving me to 'where ever'. Willingly spending time with me."
"We were worried about you is all."
"So you're simply making sure I don't go crazy or something?"
"Yes, Rach, I care. I know, it's a shocker, who woulda thought eh?"
The singer smiled. "It is quite the shocker, yes. But I am fine."
"Yeah... Nope. Nothing about you is making me think everything is all rainbows, fluffy bunnies and kittens in your head."
"It doesn't need to be. I'm fine. I promise."
"If you're sure." He said giving her one short nod, and turned his full attention the road.
"I am." She muttered, then rested her head against the window and closer her eyes.
She was lying to him of course. She wasn't fine; she felt like she wasn't ever going to be fine ever again. She was angry and upset that Quinn had just left without telling her to her face. All she got was a note that said,
We've gone back to Mom's. I'll call you when I can. I'm sorry.
But she hadn't called; Rachel had tried calling her, but the line was dead. Quinn must've have turned her phone off; or changed her number. She, Santana and Brittany had gone to her house the next day and were told by Mrs Fabray that if they came back she'd call the police.
That woman was an evil bitch.
She just wanted to speak to her girlfriend.
She knew she was depressed, she'd looked up her symptoms online; but her internet search just confirmed what she already suspected. Her Dad's were fussing over her, when she actually left her room, and her friends walked on eggshells around her. Even Santana was acting like she was some fragile china doll. She only wanted to hear Quinn's voice.
She wanted to know that she wasn't out of her girlfriends life; that Quinn just needed some time alone. She could cope with that.
It was the not knowing that was killing her.
She just felt so numb, but she was trying her best to do normal, everyday things.
"Oh." She said as she opened her eyes, and looked out the window. "It's stopped raining too."
"Things are looking up." He smiled, and opened his door.
"Maybe." Rachel replied without enthusiasm, and he followed her into the building.
She didn't know why Puck was coming in with her, and she was convinced that he'd never set foot in the public library before. But he was here, and she was actually quite glad of his company.
"Rach, what we doing here?" He asked glancing around the large room.
"Well I'm here to check out some library books; surprisingly. And, also to print off the photos of Lily Beth after she was born."
He gave her a wide goofy grin. "Really?"
"Yes. But you can't be with me, I don't want you looking over my shoulder. It'll just irritate me. So go and look at some car magazines or something."
"They have those here?"
"Of course. And before you ask, I don't know if there's any boob magazines, so why don't you go and look for yourself."
"Who the hell calls them 'boob magazines'?"
"I do. Now go away." She waved her hand in the direction of where the newspapers and magazines were.
As he left on his mission of finding some porn in the public library, Rachel connected her phone to the PC and pulled up the photos. She clicked through them slowly, there weren't many, she wasn't much of a photo taker. There was one of a bird on the tree outside her window, followed by the one which was the reason for the dent in Quinn's ceiling. A brief smile crossed her lips as she looked at that photo, and remembered that she made the blonde promise not to delete it, and how Quinn had said that it made her look like she'd gone critical. She still didn't know what that meant, but to her, the light behind Quinn outlined her profile, and made her look like an angel.
After that picture, there were several of her semiconscious at The Barn, and then finally the ones of Baby Lily Beth.
She printed the ten photos off in duplicate, and printed one copy of the picture of Quinn. Then went to find Puck, who was still going through the magazines.
"Here." She said handing over the photos.
When he took them, he held them to his cheek. "Mmm. Warm."
Rachel put a hand on her hip and cocked her head "Are you done?"
"Yeah. No. Wait." Then he pressed them to his other cheek. "Mmm. Okay. Done."
She laughed, and held onto his hand.
"Rach?" He asked quirking his eyebrow up.
"Why are you holding my hand?"
"We're not going steady now you know. It's just a friendly gesture, I don't know what you know about dating. But the touching of hands does not equal relationship."
"Ha. Ha." He deadpanned. "I just wasn't expecting it, that's all. And I know plenty about dating. Thank you."
"Fucking isn't dating." She pointed out.
Puck's eyes went wide with surprise. "Rachel! Oh, my God!"
"My God too you know."
"I don't like this conversation. There's too much swearing and religion."
"I agree." And with that she got up on her tip toes, pulled him down, and kissed his cheek.
"What was that for?"
"Being a surprisingly good friend."
"Thanks. I think. You want a ride back home?"
"Yeah. Just give me a minute, I still haven't got my book."
"Nerd." She glared at him for a long moment, before he started squirming under her scrutiny. "But the best kind of nerd."
"Hmm." She pursed her lips. "It wouldn't hurt for you to actually read a book."
"I'm not a reader. I'd rather work on my Guns."
"I'm all for keeping in shape," She said as she pulled Puck towards the fiction section. "But a fine balance can easily be worked out. The brain needs to be exercised too."
"Okay. Fine. I'll try and work on my brain exercises."
"You're just saying that to shut me up aren't you?"
"Maybe." He drawled. "But I'm supposed to be taking care of you here, not the other way around. You don't need to worry about me, or my brain."
"And you don't need to worry about me!" She halted in her tracks, and spun to face him. "You have more of a right to be upset about what's happening than I am." She hissed; trying to keep her volume down.
"I am upset. But there's nothing we can do about it, is there?"
"No." Rachel clenched her jaw tight. "I'm not in the mood to read anything. Can you just take me home?"
"Yeah." He nodded solemnly. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to piss you off."
"I was already pissed off Noah."
The moment she stepped through her front door, she heard her dad calling out. "Is that you Honey?"
"Yes, it's me Daddy."
"It's almost dinner time." Lucas said as he watched her walking up the stairs.
"I'm not hungry."
"You have to eat something."
"Maybe later." She said dismissively. "I just feel a bit unwell." She carried on walking until she reached her room, and locked the door.
As soon as she sat on her bed, she pulled out the photos from her backpack, and placed them on the blanket. Then regretted it. Her time with Noah had made her feel slightly more human, even if it ended on a sour note. But now that she was alone, and looking at these pictures, it brought everything back.
She shook her head. "Shit."
Then she went into the cupboard of her bedside table, and pulled out an empty photo album. She laughed bitterly at the words Happy Memories embossed in pink on the cover. Then one by one, pulling back the plastic sheet, placed the photographs delicately on the black card. Writing a description in pink pen, with sparkles, and carefully flattening the sheet over.
When this was done. She turned on her IPod, put the buds in her ears, and eventually fell asleep.
"Quinnie?" Quinn's mother called through her bedroom door. "Carla is here to take care of the baby."
The blonde looked down at her daughter in her arms, and rocked her gently. "Carla doesn't need to be here. She can go home."
Judy Fabray opened the door, and barely looked at Quinn or her grandchild. "Darling, you need to stop spending so much time with her if you're going to give her up for adoption."
"I don't think I should give her up." She said quietly as she looked down into curious eyes.
"We've talked about this Sweetie, it would be best for your future. You can have another child when you're older, and mature enough to deal with it. I've already spoken to someone who would be interested in adopting her."
"Who?" Quinn snapped her head towards her mother.
"It's not important." Judy strode towards her and took Lily Beth away from her arms. "You're becoming too attached to the child. I'm doing this for your own good Quinnie, so please stop making this harder."
Quinn said nothing, and her mother let out an exasperated sigh. "I'm speaking with the lady that wants to adopt her tomorrow evening."
"She's coming here?"
"No. I'm meeting her at Cafe Claude. You can come if you like, she seems respectable enough."
"What does she do?"
"A teacher, I think."
"You think?" Quinn asked angrily. "You're just going to hand my daughter over to someone you clearly know nothing about?"
"Well, that's why I'm meeting her."
"You know what, I think I will come with you." Quinn snarled.
"There's no need to be so abrasive Darling." Judy admonished. "I don't want you picking faults with her from the start."
"If she's going to be the mother of my baby, I'll pick as many damn faults with her as I like!"
"I'm not talking to you while you're in this mood." Her mother huffed; and marched out of her room with her daughter.
Quinn pressed the heels of her hands against her eyes, and rubbed as the tears welled up.
She knew that her mother only had her best interest at heart, but that didn't stop her from thinking that going through with an adoption was the right thing for her. She'd been putting it off for four days now, hoping that she'd stop loving her daughter so much, or that her mom would love Lily Beth enough to see that she belonged in their lives. Of course, neither one of those things happened, her mother was still indifferent towards her grand-daughter, and Quinn just loved her more and more with each second.
Quinn gave one last swipe of her eyes before inhaling deeply before getting off the bed, and resuming the search for her phone.
She hadn't looked at it in days, she couldn't face all the messages she knew she would've gotten. But she swore she had it when she moved back in; but maybe she hadn't. Maybe she'd left it at the Berry home. She instantly felt sad at thinking about Rachel, her girlfriend probably hated her for what she'd done. She shouldn't have moved out like that, she regretted being such a chicken shit about it. She also regretted moving out at all; she had the perfect family there.
Why did she let her mother talk her into this?
"Because I'm a coward." She muttered angrily.
Judy had made her feel guilty about being alone in the house since her father left. Quinn may not have liked her mother very much, but she didn't want her all alone. Quinn wondered if her being there really made much of a difference, her mom didn't really speak to her, unless it was about putting Lily Beth up for adoption, or how she should've got rid of the baby before it was born. Mostly Judy drank, took her prescription pills and bitched about her cheating husband.
Quinn missed being in a house that felt like a home. She missed having a conversation at the dinner table, and the smell of the den.
She missed David, and Lucas
She should go and see her; to explain. Her mother had told her she should keep her distance from her friends for a while, but Quinn couldn't see any reason to. She looked at the clock and saw that it was almost 10 PM; it was too late now.
Tomorrow. Maybe she'd be brave enough to go tomorrow.
She gave up looking for her cell, and tip-toed out of her bedroom, and into the nursery. Carla gave her a smile when she entered, and stood up from the rocking chair then handed Quinn her daughter. Her mom would freak if she saw her in here, but screw her.
"She's such a quiet girl." The woman cooed quietly as she brushed a little cheek gently with her finger.
"Yeah." Quinn beamed as she took the seat Carla just vacated. "I really don't know where she gets it from. You always told me I was a noisy little girl. And Puck's mom said he was hell spawn."
"Yes! You talked all the time. Even before you could say words." Carla fussed over the blanket in the crib for a few moments before continuing. "Your mother says she'll be leaving us soon."
"If you don't want to giver her up," The woman said as she put her hand on Quinn's head affectionately. "then you don't have to."
"It's for the best." Quinn mimicked her mother.
"For who?" Carla scoffed. "The drunkard? Or you?"
The blonde looked up at the woman with surprise. "I don't know."
"Then why is it for the best? Tell me."
"Because... Because I still have school."
"Yes, school is important. But it can be done. Any other reason?"
"I'm not mature enough."
"These are all the things I've heard your mother say. I'm asking you? Do you think you're not mature enough?"
"You know, this is the reason mom doesn't want me to talk to you."
Carla laughed. "Yes! Yes, I know." The woman moved to sit on her knees, and rested her hands on Quinn's leg. "She thinks I give you 'ideas'." She whispered conspiratorially. "But I believe that you're old enough to know what you want. If you want to keep the little one, then you should tell her. If you truly believe she would be better with someone else, then you have every right to have a say in where she goes."
"Mom's meeting with someone tomorrow."
"I know. And what do you think of that?"
Quinn sucked in her bottom lip. "Thinking about giving her up makes my heart hurt. I don't want to do it, and I don't want to be here."
"Then take your daughter, and go back to the place that made you feel safe."
"It's not that easy. Mom will be on her own, and I doubt The Berry's would have me back. Not now."
"You haven't spoken to them in days, so how could you possibly know that? As for your mother, well, even while your father was here, she was still alone. I think she enjoys to wallow in her own misery."
"Why do you even keep working here?"
Carla shrugged. "It's not so bad a place to work. I get paid well, and your mother doesn't bother me while I work." She paused for a second. "Anymore."
"Perhaps she thinks of you like family now."
"More like furniture."
"That's probably more likely. Well, you were more of a mother to us than she was; you still are."
"Thank you." The woman smiled, and stood up. "You should sleep on your decisions."
"Yeah." Quinn nodded, then handed Lily Beth back to Carla, and pushed herself from the chair. "Sleep is basically the body's way of turning it off and then on again."
Carla chuckled. "That's certainly one way of looking at it."
"Thank you for letting me talk."
"Sometimes a person needs someone to listen without judgment. I'm always here for you Quinn, whenever you need me."
The blonde swallowed the lump in her throat, and just nodded. Then she leaned down and placed a gentle kiss on her daughters head. "Goodnight Sweet pea. Goodnight Carla."
As she made her way back to her bedroom, she felt a little lighter: she was going to make tomorrow different.
One way or another.
A/N: I know it's been a while, sorry about that. Some family stuff has happened and it's drained everything out of me. This is the first thing I've written in over a year, maybe that's why it's a tad angsty, but don't worry! This will be as angsty as it gets. This story is fluff, and we'll be right back on track with that soon.