Turn Around (Every Now and Then)
Summary: Five years ago Quinn Fabray broke Noah Puckerman's heart and never tried to put it back together. She thinks it only fair that he's breaking hers in return…every single moment that he's gone.
Spoilers: General spoilers for S1. If you know about the baby, you're good to go.
Author's Note: I am very, very new to the Glee fandom…as in I've only seen three episodes…so consider this story AU for the most part. I am also a Puckleberry fan almost exclusively so I'm not sure where this came from or why I felt the need to write her. Still, I hope you like it. Read and Review!
He's been gone two weeks and she knows that he's not coming back. She's known it since he looked at her after she gave their daughter away. In that moment all the care (love) he offered her was gone and there was hatred in his eyes for the first time ever when looking at her. She's always known Fate's a bitch but realizing that she loves him too, now, when it's just a little too late, makes her want to die. Everywhere she turns she's reminded of him, assaulted by memories of scorn and derision. "You're nothing but another Lima Loser!" She always doubted him, put him down, and it's left her standing here in the middle of the McKinley parking lot alone. He used to give her a ride everyday. "Wherever you want to go…"
She thinks about all those missed chances, the little looks, carrying her books, protecting her from the cruel words of people she once considered friends, and her heart breaks a little bit more. Sinking to the ground she wraps her arms around her knees. Maybe if she just waits a little bit longer…maybe he'll finally come for her, forgive her, let her love him. And like all the other nights it's Santana and Brittany who come for her, letting her cry out her regret as they rub her back. So many regrets…. "Puck…I need you."
She always wanders through the park on her daughter's birthday. Somewhere out there in the world a little girl with her hair and Puck's eyes is turning five years old and she will never get to see it. She gets pictures and letters, writing them back in return, because Puck had been adamant about it being an open adoption and she wonders if he writes to their daughter too.
Memories are all she has anymore. Noah Puckerman has been gone from her life just as long as their daughter and no one knows where he went, what he's doing, or if he's even alive. Her fault. She's well aware of all that she did to push him out of her life. The day she called him a 'Lima Loser' she broke him a little. And yet, after college, she's the one who ran back to the comfort of her hometown. She learned during her time away, that City life wasn't for her. Instead she teaches History at the high school she once presided over like a Queen and directs the latest batch of "Gleeks". New Directions has become a force to be reckoned with. Five Nationals titles in six years has proven their worth.
Still, she longs for all those things she denied him in school. She wants to go home to a house that isn't empty and immaculate. She wants to see toys littering the floor, baby blankets strewn about, and hear the sound of a child's laughter mixing with a lover's, a husband's. He offered all of that to her once, told her that he'd be the man she was certain he wasn't.
Surprisingly, the one person she keeps in touch with is Rachel. They became best friends during their senior year. Rachel is the one who keeps her up to date on what everyone is doing. Never Puck though. Not even Rachel Berry has enough contacts to track him down. And she knows the dark-haired diva would if it meant that she could send him back home. But everyone knows the truth…. Once upon a time there was a spoiled Queen who wanted everything and everyone to herself. So she took them. Her selfishness destroyed lives and broke hearts. Five years ago Quinn Fabray broke Noah Puckerman's heart and never tried to put it back together. She thinks it only fair that he's breaking hers in return…every single moment that he's gone.
Their daughter has just turned six somewhere out there in the world when Rachel shows up unexpectedly on her doorstep, arms full of grocery bags overflowing with junk food.
"Surprise," Rachel says, her tone strained, in spite of the smile on her face and she knows that whatever has brought her friend to Lima without even a phone call cannot possibly be good, especially since all the comfort food the local grocery store sells is in her arms.
She steps back and lets her best friend in the house, trying to calm the feeling of dread that is settling over her, twisting her stomach into knots. She knows, without Rachel saying a word, that it's about him. He's the only reason her friend would show up out of the blue. Rachel sets everything on the counter and turns to her. She takes the invitation out of her coat and sets it on the table but Quinn doesn't even have to look at it to know that it's his.
"Finn got it on Saturday. He sent a copy to me. We didn't want you to find out from someone else."
She trembles a little as she stares at the small white paper. At least she knows that he's not dead now. He's getting married. Tears burn at the back of her eyes and spill over even as she forces herself to speak. "That's great. I'm happy…for him…." And then she sinks to the floor, sobs wracking her slender frame. Rachel's arms wrap around her as she cries, all those dreams of 'maybe one day…' dying inside her, breaking her heart the same way she broke his. No amount of comfort food will help her this time.
Finn takes Rachel as his guest to the wedding three months later. Neither of them know that she's there as well. She wrote down all the information from the invitation the last time Rachel visited. She doesn't write, doesn't send an RSVP, since she wasn't actually invited. But on the day of the ceremony she slips into the back row of chairs set up at a local park near his home in Chicago and watches with tears in her eyes as another woman walks down to aisle to him. She's grateful for the hat she's wearing that hides her face some as his gaze ghosts over the crowd briefly. For a moment she can almost feel his eyes on her but then the feeling is gone and he's watching the woman who is going to be his wife again.
The tears start to come faster as he takes the woman's hand. She thought she could do this, thought that maybe it was time to let him go, but she can't. "I love you Puck…" she whispers softly, choking briefly on the grief filling her. She stands up quickly and tries not to be noticed. Once she's free from the aisle of chairs she runs, her hat flying away, unaware of the fact that her movements caught his attention and he's staring after her, stunned.
Rachel is running after her moments later and he turns to Finn, his best man, confused. Lauren, his wife-to-be is confused, almost as much as he is, but he's too stunned by the sight of Quinn Fabray running out of his wedding to worry about Lauren.
"Rachel showed her the invitation. We didn't know she was going to be here though. We thought…well, it doesn't matter." He grinned at Puck. "Let's get you married dude." Finn turns him toward the minister and Lauren glances at him wondering what's going on, but he can't concentrate. The ceremony is starting but his mind and heart are with the blond woman who just ran out of his life, most likely for good. And, in spite of the six years that have passed since he last saw her, something deep inside tells him that he's not ready to let Quinn Fabray go for good.
It's been three weeks since she ran out on his wedding, since the world shattered around her. Rachel followed her that day and together they got drunk on the bottles from the mini-fridge and for a few moments she managed to ignore the burning pain inside her chest. She forces herself to smile and laugh with the other teachers and refuses to let herself cry in front of her students. Instead, two hours after the final bell rings, she packs up her briefcase and folders and goes home, immediately changing to a pair of jogging pants and tank top. She scrubs off the little bit of make-up she has on (she hasn't been wearing much due to impromptu bouts of crying) and heats up some leftover Chinese food.
She's curled up on her sofa an hour later, halfway through the new Tim Burton version of 'Alice in Wonderland' (because she can't watch any romantic comedies or dramas and she hates action movies, which seriously limits her selection) when there's an abrupt knock on the door.
Her feet pad softly on the hardwood floor and she glances out the window by the door, squinting against the dying light of the setting sun. Her heart starts to race when she realizes who's standing on her front porch. He's not supposed to be here.
"Open the door, Quinn. I know you're here. I'm not going away so you may as well just let me in."
Her heart is pounding in her chest and she has to take a minute to catch her breath. Once she feels even a little more in control she opens the door slowly, taking in the sight of Noah Puckerman up close for the first time in six years. Seeing him at the wedding hadn't done him justice. He'd been too far away then for her to appreciate the differences in the man before her from the seventeen year old she remembers. "What are you doing here, Puck?" she asks softly, warily. Her heart hurts just at the sight of him.
He stares at her, taking in the small details, the lack of make-up and way that she's looking at anything, anywhere, but at him. She's still thin but not as anorexic looking as she was back before…. Her hair is still long and pulled back in a ponytail, she is still the most beautiful woman he's ever known, but the dark circles under her eyes cause him to frown. Rachel told Finn that Quinn wasn't sleeping well, but seeing the proof of it was different than a third hand story. He hasn't forgotten her question so he looks her in the eye and says, "What were you doing at my wedding, Fabray?"
She flinches at his use of her last name and it doesn't go unnoticed by him. She looks away from him. There's no real answer she can give him that won't clue him in to her feelings and she can't…just can't…be hurt again. Not now, this soon after he married another woman. "Please, Puck, I can't do this now. Please go away." She's choking on tears that she can feel rising to the surface and she's horrified at the thought of crying in front of him.
He can tell that she's hurting, that she's scared of letting him see her cry. He's needed to see this though. Six years have passed but seeing her so vulnerable, so upset over him, gives him the courage to push her backwards into her house, his hands on her arms, his foot kicking the front door shut behind him. His hands slide up her arms, over her shoulders, her neck, until they're cupping her face, forcing her to look at him. Tears stain her cheeks and she's hiccuping slightly from trying to hold them back.
"I'm not married," he says softly, his eyes staring straight into hers. "I couldn't do it. Not after seeing you. I've tried for six years to forget you, to get you out of my head and the second I think maybe I have, there you are, running out of my wedding and throwing everything into a tailspin." His thumbs brush over her cheeks, wiping away wetness, but she's too frozen by his words to move. "I was hiding behind Lauren, pretending that I moved on, that I loved someone else. But I don't love her. I can't love anyone else really…because I gave my heart away years ago and never really got it back."
"I know there's a lot for us to talk about. I'm scared to death of you hurting me again and I don't want to hurt you either, but I'm going to take a chance here Quinn, and tell you that I love you. I always have and always will."
She can see the truth in his eyes and it's humbling that even now, after all she's done to him, to them, that he still loves her. She throws her arms around him, pulling him to her so that her mouth is right next to his ear. Her body molds to his, remembering how well they fit together. He was made for her. "I love you, Puck," she sighs, finally able to say the words after so long causing her to sob. "I'm so sorry…so sorry. I love you. Please forgive me." The words come out in a rush and his hands run over her back softly. "I love you," she says again her head resting on his shoulder.
He moves her into the living room and sits down on the sofa with her practically crawling into his lap. She knows that it's not going to be this easy, that they just can't say 'I love you' and everything is miraculously solved between them. There's a lot of hurt to work through and their lives are pretty far apart right now, but she knows that they'll make it work. She'll make it work. Because she's not going to make the same mistakes that she made before. She loves Noah Puckerman and she's not going to let him go again.