A/N Disclaimers from Chapter One apply.
Inserting a substitute chapter in my three part series of happy Quinn. It occurred to me we'd never seen Quinn and Beth together when Beth was a bit older and that we should. So this is just a throw-away chapter featuring them and a third party. Remember the sheep herding chapter? I wanted you to know what happens with Beth.
You don't have to hug my story but hug some other story you're reading, if you don't feel like hugging mine. Creative writing is supposed to be its own reward and to an extent it is. But nobody gets paid in fanfic except with reviews. Hug a story today, even if it's only a constructive hug. You didn't know they existed, did you? I've had real hugs from real people in real life that felt literally and purely like constructive criticism. It's an interesting sensation.
Senior year. Beth was nearly 18, pre-admitted to Dartmouth. She had been frequently approached to model but she had her sights on Ivy League, then med school afterword, specializing in neurology. She adored Dr. Mac.
Although her eyes were Quinn's and she looked incredibly like Quinn facially, Beth really could have been the offspring of Puck and Girl Sam. Puck's brown hair but bodily a dead ringer for Girl Sam. Six feet tall, a boyish build and rail thin but very healthily so. In an emotional space she kept entirely to herself, Quinn found it charming and only fair God had graced Girl Sam with at least one child of Puck's who looked like her.
Beth had come to New York to visit, which was always a joy, but she was old enough to come by herself this time and had decided, with Rachel's help, to surprise Quinn by booking into a hotel for the weekend and just showing up at their doorstep. She'd played with and had veggie pizza with her siblings the night before. The two of them had strolled through the Village today and were now having a NOT a mother-daughter lunch thing. Quinn constantly reminded herself of this. It was a human-I-gave-birth-to lunch.
They ordered and ate but Quinn could see Beth was nervous about something. She made the decision to not ignore it and ask, "Is something wrong, sweetheart, because you seem a little anxious."
Beth sort of just ducked her head, "Okay. Could I just run something by you because Mom's already told me what she thinks."
Quinn nodded, "Sure."
"You know I've been dating Henry Thompson for a while."
"I do. You've mentioned him a lot and sent me a few pictures. He sounds nice and he's cute."
Beth smiled, "He's really cute. He also IS really nice and smart and seems like he's perfect and he does all the right things but…"
Quinn's entire body was suddenly flooded with dread. Anxious teen girl plus cute boy. Dear God.
"Full stop. It's okay, Beth. I'm sorry but I can't make you worry about how to tell me because I'll love you no matter what and I'll tell Shelby for you if you want and you can come live with us if she kicks you out even though I know she wouldn't. You're pregnant."
Beth gaped at Quinn in complete astonishment even as she flushed scarlet, "What? Pregnant? Oh my God. NO. How'd you even go there?"
Quinn palmed her own scarlet face and felt both horrifically embarrassed and the weight of the world slide off her. She took a few deep breaths. "I'm so, so sorry because it's just thank God...and oh my God but," she pointed at her nose and then at Beth's.
Beth then laughed a really delighted laugh because she could see how terrified Quinn actually had been. But the women had immediately been ready to weigh in on her side and fight for her, which was so typical of her.
Beth grinned, "I gotcha. You'd help me if the apple didn't fall too far from the tree. Thank you but no. Can we return to reality?"
Quinn smiled in sheer relief, "Please."
"Okay. Mom sort of hates Henry for no reason. Or maybe no reason I understand. And I guess…can you tell me something maybe I'm not seeing? Is it just because I'm into him because he's my first serious boyfriend and I'm an only child and mom's just being protective and that sort of stuff?"
Quinn smiled at her glass of cranberry and soda. "It might be the overprotective thing because I already want to murder him."
Beth laughed-spritzed out the sip of Coke she'd just sipped. "Stop it. You don't."
Quinn shrugged, "I sort of do. Your father would also want to kill him for being cute and possessing a penis. But one…" she paused and thought about how to say it, "one of the benefits of our…unusual relationship, Beth, is that we can discuss it and I can be clinically detached about it."
Beth nodded and just stared at Quinn for a few moments. "Clinically. Detached. You just said that. To me. Seriously? Mom, sometimes you can be so full of crap it astonishes me."
Quinn stared back at her daughter.
Beth had never called Quinn Mom in her life.
Beth faux-glared at her, but with the deepest affection in her eyes. "What? I get so tired of calling you Quinn. You're my mom. It's exhausting because—right—we both get the point I don't want to make my other mom feel jealous of you or weird about it but I can see it's such a dig when Rachel calls mom Shelby. I don't want to take digs at you. If it's okay with you, I'd just like to call you mom when my other mom's not around and sort of just acknowledge how I feel. You're my mom, mother."
Quinn felt like she'd been hit in the head with an axe handle. Typical. Her blessings always had to be mixed. She wanted to burst into tears at the sweetest thing that Beth had ever said—she wanted to call her mom because she felt it—immediately leavened with what the girl probably didn't even understand was a jab at Rachel.
Quinn took a deep breath. She worshipped Beth but no one got to jab Rachel even a little bit. She smiled at the girl and said, "I feel so humbled and happy you think I've done anything to earn the right to be called your mom. It means something bigger to me than I could ever put into words. Ever. You can't know. Thank you, sweetheart. That said, I must tell you something else. The fact that Rachel, the most forgiving human on planet Earth, continues to call her birth mother Shelby is for personal reasons both of them understand. It is not a dig at her."
Beth blanched a little at the fierce look on Quinn's face as she continued.
"It is a factual representation of the relationship Shelby has chosen to have with Rachel. I have chosen to have another type of relationship with you and you can't tell me you haven't seen the difference in how I act with you and how Shelby acts with Rachel. Do not spend another ten seconds thinking that Rachel has ever or is ever trying to hurt Shelby. She never has and she never would. Please never even suggest that again in my presence or especially in Rachel's. Please."
Beth bit her lip and sat with her thoughts for a few moments and then suddenly looked like she might cry. "I understand. But Mommy does love Rachel. You know that, right?"
"Of course I do. Of course. And Rachel knows that too, okay?"
Beth nodded and shook her head. "Okay. But I do see it. I know Mom's been trying harder and calling and emailing and meeting with Rach more since the kids were born. She still plays Rachel's songs and watches her performances on DVD all the time. I see her really trying to be nicer when she's with her but it's like she thinks she can only be something like Rachel's fan. She's warm and loving and super-mom with me so I can't understand why she just can't bend a little…or do something…" Beth had clearly run out of ideas and words, "better for Rachel."
Quinn smiled sadly and picked at her salad. "Maybe it just hurts her too much to be close to Rachel. Maybe she's detached because it hurts too badly otherwise. News you can use? You can choose to protect yourself and not feel the pain or choose not to protect yourself and live with it."
Beth nodded stared at her for so long Quinn began to sweat. "I'm sorry I said you were full of crap but you did say you could be detached when you've never been detached with me since the moment I met you. Ever. When I see you doing what I know sometimes hurts you and what my mother can't do for Rachel, it makes me love you even more. So thank you."
Quinn reached out and took Beth's hand. "Shhh, baby, Shhhh. Don't cry or I might actually, literally spontaneously combust."
Beth laughed and wiped her tears.
Quinn smiled. "Please don't worry about Rachel and her mother. Your mother. And I know that's so weird even I still sometimes just want to scream. I know them in very different ways than you can because I'm older and married to one of them and gave my precious child to the other. They do love each other in the ways they can and have decided to, okay? They do."
She play-shook Beth's hand and let it go.
"The following will making a tacky song reference to emotions but I was in a Glee club and that was seriously all we ever, ever did, okay?"
Beth snorted and smiled. She knew Quinn had loved Glee club.
"In relationships with people, you really can't always get what you want or even what you need. Sometimes you only get enough, Beth. Only enough to make it through another day and that, my darling daughter, is truly sometimes the best you'll ever get, forever. Most of the time, you should get away as fast as you can. Or sometimes, like with Shelby and Rachel, they know the score and compromise for what they can get because they've mutually decided to make it enough. Or sometimes you sit through things that feel like forever until they change. I'm thinking Rachel with me for one and me and your damn father for another."
Beth watched Quinn take a sip of her cranberry and soda, a woman who adored her father and had announced it to the world and still scolded him and scowled at him as if that hadn't ever happened.
"You walk away or you accept what you know will never change or you hope for things to get better. But knowing which one to choose is harder than you might imagine and the sad fact is this. Sometimes you can't win because doing the wrong thing or the right thing can both sometimes break your heart. Welcome to the world, baby girl."
Although Quinn was perfectly gentle-eyed and serious, Beth could see she'd somehow begun to look somehow shinier and more intensely perfect. Santana had told Beth, privately, the day after she'd turned fourteen, when Quinn started throwing that 'just a little more perfect' expression, it meant the woman needed to step it down, emotionally. Change the subject.
So Beth said in her best teenage monotone. "But that sucks, Mom."
She immediately saw her mother knew she was letting her off the hook and was grateful. Quinn smiled. "Don't think I don't remember we've gotten off course in our conversation. I can keep on topic, Beth, because Rachel always plans conversations in bulleted PowerPoint slides in her mind. I've learned to deal with it. So. What about this Henry loser?"
Beth rolled her eyes and then went off on the most teenspeak tear Quinn had ever heard from her. "I didn't say he was a loser. And you can't say it yet. So just stop being so you or no—I don't mean that—I do need you to be you but also my mom—mom as in you, because Henry's here. In this city. I have no idea why. Or I kind of do. I swear before God he didn't tell me he was coming. I told him I was visiting you and so he calls me this morning and he's in some hotel room here in Manhattan. He wants to meet me tonight and I know what he must be thinking and it's sort of freaking me out because yes I sort of think I love him but we've NEVER done anything that would need an ultrasound—but he's here and it's...sort of freaking me out because what's his plan or does he have one, right?"
Beth lowered her head and her voice to a whisper, "Okay. I'll spell it out. I'm a virgin. But young woman and young man in love meet in different city without supervision and he's Mr. Super Surprise? I don't know whether mom's just protective or right about him. I HATE asking you because you're my mother but I didn't know who else I'd trust more to ask."
Quinn nodded, her mind completely blown. Beth was calling her mom. They'd now had an angsty conversation about mothers and daughters they'd never broached but finally had and now she was asking her motherly advice about possibly having sex. In the same lunch. She felt a sudden, desperate need for vodka. She took a sip of her cranberry and soda instead. "Okay. What's your plan?"
Beth shook her head. "Plan?"
"Well, obviously, I have to meet Sir Douche-A-Lot to give you an opinion."
"Is calling him Sir Douche-A-Lot supposed to make me think you're unbiased?"
Quinn shrugged, "Not in the slightest. Understand, Beth, when you meet a person dating your child, that person has to meet a burden of proof. They are not presumed innocent until proven guilty. They are presumed guilty until proven innocent. Granted, every parent's burden of proof can be different. You wouldn't have believed my sperm-donor's burden of proof but I have a sinking feeling Henry would pass it with flying colors. Let me both tell you something and ask you something."
She took another sip of her drink, which had remained tragically non-alcoholic. "Telling you. Every girl has a douche detector or 'not right for me' detector. Every single girl has one, Beth. From what I've seen, maybe 85% of girls and adult women never listen to their douche detectors. Because he's handsome or he's smart or he's popular or he's rich or says the right crap at the right time and whatever and they want to just be loved for a few minutes or feel special for a few minutes so they just ignore the warnings. But the warnings are there. Promise. Somewhere in the back of all girls' and women's minds, they know something's just not right and don't pay attention to it. And you know what? Tons of times it's not the boy's fault. It's you who isn't right. It's you who's the douche. I made boys suffer because I didn't even want to listen to my internal 'something's not right here' detector. Otherwise known as you're gay, Quinn. You can't always trust other people's intentions but you can trust yourself, Beth, if you actually take the time to listen to your own feelings. I spent a lot of time in therapy learning to listen to myself. What I actually thought and felt. And to be completely fair, I'm sure that's true for guys, too and just to rep for my lesbian sisters, I'm sure it goes double for them because that dumps two emo females in denial into the equation. There's a reason for that second date U-Haul joke."
"That sort of sounded like Santana."
"Of course it did. Santana and I sometimes sound exactly like each other. Why wouldn't we? We've been in each other's back pockets nearly all our lives. But no one sounds like Rach when she's being really Rachel or like Brittany because you can't imitate perfection."
"To continue, now I'm asking you something. What about him doesn't feel right to you? Because you're a teenager—you could have just said 'Screw everything—he's my man!' once you found out he was here in the city but something is making you listen to Shelby in your head and now talk to me. Because it's not Shelby—something in you is making you talk to me because you don't feel sure of him."
Beth took a deep breath and said, "I guess…he sometimes seems a little oily to me."
Quinn tilted her head, "Oily?"
Beth nodded. "I don't mean bodily, but personally. I don't know how else to say it. As in slick. He's just a little too perfect all the time. He's smart and funny and wonderful and witty but he's exactly that for everybody. I watch him and he changes for every person he meets. He talks to a guy who's fixing his car and he's different and perfect for the guy fixing the car. He talks to everyone exactly how they need to be talked to. It just seems weird and somehow oily to me and I guess I think that's what Mommy thinks, too."
"Have you asked her about it?"
"Of course not. I'm an indifferent and rebellious teen. Didn't you know that?"
She semi-smirked. Quinn thought she couldn't be more astonished by how much this child both was her and wasn't. She didn't seem scared of or angry with the world. She was young and just had questions. And had someone she trusted to ask, who was evidently her.
"So you and I and Henry are having dinner tonight."
"I thought I was supposed to tell you my plan."
"Oh right. But you've actually met me, Beth. Who's in charge? You've heard them all say, "'You bitch.' Let me explain. I am. I will meet your Henry Thompson and I promise I will be on my best behavior but I also promise the fact of how I look and who I am will bring out that boy's inner douche if nothing else could. Because if you haven't noticed, I'm oily in all public situations in exactly the way you're describing. It's a form of avoidance behavior for me. Could be for him, too, or he's either being kindly or deliberately charming. Let me really imitate Santana for you."
She shifted in her seat and assumed Santana's posture of Lima Heights swag, "'Alright Beth. Listen up. As you undoubtedly fucking know because my Cap's smart genes beat the shit out of Puck's dumbass genes, the word charm can be a noun or a verb. I'll ignore the whole adjectival charming thing but we both know it's there. The primary denotation of that verb is to give delight. The secondary denotation of that verb charm is to control or achieve control as if by casting a spell. As in man-i-pu-la-tion. That's really what it means to charm someone and I can gua-ran-fucking-tee you most people who are charming you are not trying to fucking delight you."
Beth snorted a laugh, "That sounded almost eerily like her."
Quinn shrugged, "She's my Lefty. But, seriously, I was trained to charm people and have done it all my life so I'll know. If I think it's something bad, I will not be mean to him but I will not let you leave with him. I'll call you with the details for our restaurant. If you even step in the same space with that boy until I see you tonight, though, I will smell it and it won't be pretty."
Quinn had already paid the bill and paid the server extra to stay away from the table. She looked at the remains of the meal and said, "Oh look, I only had salad and yet this lunch felt so heavy."
Beth laughed and said. "That's because you just said more mom stuff in one hour than you ever have to me since I've known you."
Quinn's face fell immediately because it was true, "I'm sorry."
Beth reached across the table and patted Quinn's hands, grinning. "DON'T be. I just didn't know I only had to call you mom to get out all the impacted mom you've been storing for years."
Quinn lifted one eyebrow, "Are you sort of saying I'm full of shit again? You're a teenager so you could be."
Beth rolled her eyes. "What? NO. God no. It's just—you make sense and you can tell me things but you're right. We aren't quote unquote typical mom and daughter so listening to you doesn't squick me out like it does with Mommy and I don't automatically do the teen 'talk to the hand mom' in my head when things seem a little too close to home. It was fine and I appreciate it. I'd never even think you're full of shit except for saying you're clinical with me or now that you just said you'd think I'd think that. You are impossible, though."
"So I've been told."
They walked outside.
"I'm grateful you're giving me this opportunity."
"Why? And for what?"
Quinn smiled. "To be your mother."
Beth rushed forward and hugged her. She easily picked Quinn up because she was so much taller and just whipped her around in her arms and then placed her on the ground. "You always have been, Mom. I know you'll hate it because it's a lame song reference but you know that Cure song Just Like Heaven?"
Quinn again felt like dying. "Yes."
"I play it when I'm thinking of you," she laughed thinking about that, "in a purely platonic maternal fashion. I promise."
Quinn couldn't believe the two most important girls in her life had chosen the same song for her so she just laughed, "Of course you do or this would have become too twisted for words."
Beth barked out a laugh. "Exactly. But still. Parts of it means you to me. As in lost and lonely. That's what I mean. I see that."
This was so completely and unexpectedly out of left field and nothing anyone should just baldly say to someone without warning that Quinn felt literally as if she'd been physically assaulted.
She stiffened herself not to be angry because this was her child whose statement was accurate. She nodded and her voice was tight and precise, "Correct, Beth. Thank you so much for blithely pointing out the core and sad emotional truth of my entire existence—on the street—with a song lyric."
At those words and the stricken look on Quinn's face, Beth's hands flew to her mouth in abject horror. "Oh my God. I'm so sorry." Quinn glared, looked around and pointed. Beth took the hint and they both moved out of the traffic on the sidewalk into a narrow alley adjacent to the restaurant.
She reiterated, "I'm so sorry."
Quinn shook her head. It didn't matter. It was only true. "Why? Don't be. I get it. You see it. The very few people who can actually see me at all know I've only been always and exactly that."
Beth nodded, wondering how she could possibly fix this while not quite believing how completely blind this woman could be.
"I know, I know, I know I shouldn't have just blurted that out and I know it might be a little hard for you to hear this but I'm just going to say it's not all that few people, Mom."
She ticked the people off she'd spent time with since she'd re-entered Quinn's life on her fingers and had to restart after the ten fingers were up. She called them what all the children in their family did. "You have me and Rachel and Santana and Brittany and Daddy and Girl Sam and Berry and Little Quinn and Noah. You have Shelby, your mother and your fathers and Dr. Mac, Tio Mike, Tia Tina, Tio Kurt, Tia Mercedes, Tio Finn, Tio Matt, Tio David, Tio Vinnie, Tio Boy Sam, Tia Lauren, Tio Deryk, Tio Artie, Mr. Schue, Ms. Pills-Schue. You have Ms. Sokoll and Officer Miller and Mrs. Regina and Tio Zac and Tia Valerie and that's only naming the people in your life I really know."
She sang quietly, "'Why are you so far away, why won't you ever know that we're in love with you, that we're in love with you?'"
And then said, even more quietly, her eyes filling with tears, "All of us—all of us know how you feel in our own different ways. You're the one who's far away from people, Mom. Not us. You act like no one knows who you are. But we all do. All of us. Yeah, you're this mysterious far-away person to strangers but you're not such a mystery to us—you're just far away. We're all right here feeling you giving us so much. You're so loving and fierce and sweet and thoughtful and even the friends you pretend you want to murder know you'd kill or die to protect them. It's like you're sending all this amazing love out and can't ever seem to feel how much everyone loves you right back."
She softened her voice again, "And I know maybe you can't help that and maybe it can't change but there you go. I'm sorry if just suddenly saying that made it seem like I didn't know how serious it was to say. I did it all wrong but I was just trying in an incredibly lame-ass way to tell you how much I love you and remind you how much you are loved by so many more people than you think. Because I do and you are. If you can't always feel it, I just want you to know it. I'm seriously sorry but you don't get to give me an earful of truth and not get one back. As someone I love once told me, I always get mine back but harder."
Quinn was frankly crying without sound because she had to keep it together in public. She laughed and shrugged, "Well, okay. If you're going to put it like that."
Beth pulled her in for a hug you'd give someone you were afraid you'd never see again. Quinn hugged her back but she was the one to break the hug first as she lowered her voice, "I take your point, Beth. I do. And I do know it and thank you for reminding me about everyone else. I love you too. I'd like to hug you until you were thirty years old but I'm crying, you're crying and we're still in public and we don't know where cameras are."
Beth shifted as she looked around. That was so true. She'd lived it. With their family, you could just be out having ice cream and be on TMZ in an hour. "Understood. Just in case, want me to tweet about hearing the most amazing story of…a dog…no! A rescue dog saving a kitten's life in a fire? And we were hugging it out in tearful joy?"
Quinn thought about it and smirked. "Yes, actually. But only if you use the words tearful joy and make the rescue a three-legged dog named Tripod."
The girl laughed, "Ooh. Score, Mom. We'll probably go to hell for that part but will do."
Quinn nodded, "See? Now we're both smiling in tearful joy."
Beth snorted, "Right? Take that, TMZ fuckers. Excuse my language. Hold please." The girl had whipped out her phone and was doing a long-tweet and Quinn was astonished at how rapidly. Was every next generation going to be faster? It took perhaps a minute.
"Done. Read." The girl handed Quinn her phone.
BethCorcoran: Great lunch in THE city with my MQ. But both in tears after our server told us about a three-legged rescue dog named Tripod rescuing a kitten from a fire in his apartment building. Tripod smashed a window out with his head and carried the kitten down the fire escape in his teeth! Insane! He only needed a few stitches and the kitten was unharmed. Google it. Tearful joy, people!
"Perfect. People will Google it you know."
"I do know that and because I wrote it, it will exist although we just made it up. Much like most of the news we read and wrap our minds around believing daily."
Quinn raised one eyebrow, "Don't get me started on that subject. I could call a car but let's walk a block or two and look for a cab." She kept her head down as they walked as she always did but was completely aware of the fact her very tall and very arrestingly attractive daughter didn't exactly help with keeping people from noticing the person next to her. She asked, "You do know that story wouldn't make me cry, right?"
"Me neither—I mean it'd be sweet but as I wrote it, I imagined you carrying Rachel to safety in your teeth."
Quinn hip checked her lightly, "I can carry that little woman. I could carry you even though you weigh 127 pounds. I'd feel it for days because I'm only weight-tested for 104 but in an emergency I'm sure I could carry you 200 yards or 15 flights of stairs through sheer force of will. Past that, I could drag you for three miles if I had to before needing a ten minute breather. But you'd never be a safe catch from a fly without a really ferocious backstop like Britts."
Beth just blinked. "What in the hell are you talking about and how'd you know how much I weigh?"
"Oh, sorry. I'm a Sue Sylvester cheer Captain, Beth. The Navy Seals of cheerleading. I literally always assess how any much any man, woman or child weighs if I might have to catch, lift, carry or, in the case of most men, drag them. I'm never wrong. That's what comes with getting three national championships under the dictatorship of a slightly benevolent lunatic."
Beth laughed, "Okay. Wow. Catch, lift, carry or drag your friends and family. I can't say you don't have your priorities straight. But hey, get this. I've met Coach Sue a couple of times and—uh oh—she loves you, too."
Quinn play-growled at that information. Beth said, "Shhh, Tripod."
They walked another block in silence before Beth glanced at her mother, "Are we okay, Mom?"
"Entirely. What are you doing with the rest of your day?"
"It's only a few hours. Avoiding Henry, who probably won't register the fact that tweet sounded nothing like me. I don't do exclamation points but his name is Henry so he's earnest."
"I don't do exclamation points, either, until I'm about to kill someone." She thought about that. "Actually not even then."
"Sometimes Rachel talks in exclamation points."
"Not sometimes. Usually. She can even use them with her eyes. I find it disturbingly sexy."
"Using my ear bleach now. I think I might do some shopping and hit the Met. There's only so much MOMA I can take. What's the dress code for the restaurant you're thinking about?"
"Slightly dressy, I guess. He needs a suit coat but not a tie."
"I'll wear a dress. And four inch heels."
"You brought four inch heels for this weekend?"
"Of course not. Hence the shopping."
"Got it. You'll be taller than Finn."
"Henry's exactly my height so I'll be four inches taller. I've found I like being taller than boys. It unnerves them."
"You are my child."
"I am and I have no idea why Tio Finn's all of you people's idea of some unimaginably tall person. He's not Shaq. He's only three inches taller than I am."
"True. But you didn't live with watching him roaming through school hallways with Rachel nauseatingly attached to his side. His hands are as big as her head and his feet are like…the length of her legs."
Beth glanced at her and barked with laughter. "Look at your face! You're still so jealous! And yes, you just made me use two exclamation points. You dated him too as I remember and wasn't he supposed to be my father for a few weeks?"
As those words came out of her mouth, Beth suddenly stopped walking. "Oh my God. Look how tall I am. I know you told me the real full meal deal about how I got here once I turned sixteen but he's not—I mean—you're sure he can't be my father, right?"
Quinn stopped and stared at her in amused shock, "Finn? No! Completely positive. Even I, in my huge state of gay denial, would not sleep with that gigantor. And yes, I just used an exclamation point."
Beth exhaled loudly as they continued to walk, "That's a relief. I love Tio Finn but…just no. Plus you're wrong about his feet. Rachel's legs seem as long as mine and I'm ten inches taller."
Quinn smiled at the concrete sidewalk beneath her. "They do and that's just a mystery for the ages. A very delicious mystery."
"One I'll never be old enough to hear about from my mother about my sister, thank you, and by the way, I know it'll be almost like having poison ivy and wanting to scratch it not telling the other three about this Henry thing but please don't. Can we please just keep it to ourselves?"
"Oh—there we go!"
Beth stepped out into the street in all of her long loveliness and wolf-whistled at a cab, which stopped on a dime for her.
She winked at her mother.
Yep. Her daughter.
It wasn't all that easy to get away from the family for a dinner with Beth. They all wanted Beth-time, too.
They finally accepted the mother-daughter thing but Santana eyed Quinn and pulled her aside in the hall before she left.
"He looks good on paper."
Santana whispered, "You think I don't know that boy's in town? Remember we have security?"
Quinn was actually stunned, "On her boyfriend?"
Santana jerked her head back, "No bish. On Beth. You know I have it on all of us and you know our security doesn't report any activity back to me except that of our children. I never take a report on Beth's privacy unless there's unusual activity. Unusual is this boy's all up in the city when Beth's here alone, okay? That's a flag. Beth's first born and yes, when she's all up in lurve or whatever, I told sec I wanted to know who and where this fucker was. And yeah, I'll ease off—a little—once she's eighteen. Like I said, he looks good on paper. Crazy good grades, swimming team, debate team plus lots more. Exactly the electives you need to get somewhere. Nothing weird or out the way about him. His mother died of cancer when he was twelve but his father sounds a little like your sperm donor. Big shot business lawyer and pillar of the community in the city council way. He's also a church guy and way richer than your dad. As in funding scholarships at Princeton rich. Henry actually sounds exactly like the boy Russell would have loved for you to marry and that's pinging like you can't know on my radar. I might be wrong but he's too perfect, Q."
Quinn grinned. "You're basically saying you're worried because Beth could be dating a me."
Santana rolled her eyes. "Fuck you. And yes but not really." She smiled and then her face was serious. "Beth called me thirty minutes ago. You know why she said she stayed in a hotel this trip? It wasn't just for the surprise. Said she just wanted a vacation and some alone time. She said she'd told you not to tell us but thought about it and just knew I knew he was here and to please not let Henry know about the security unless it was absolutely necessary."
Quinn was shocked, "She did?"
"Yeah—and I was surprised as fuck too and asked how she knew and she just laughed at me and said in a tone that I might have to deal with her about later, "Because I've met you more than once."
Santana saw the amusement in Quinn's eyes but continued.
"Right. So yeah. Said she went to the Met today. Alone. Now realize, she could have called any of the rest of us and we would have gone with her but she wanted to be alone. She went shopping alone. Does that ring a bell as in she's still a kid and a lot like you?"
"I hope I'm wrong but she could be a you dating a you, which would be a disaster. He could be a Russell and only pretending or he could be someone like you who's putting up the perfect when there's something like beautiful you underneath or maybe the fucker's just actually perfect. She won't be able to tell because she's seventeen and he's a seriously handsome guy."
"You're right, actually. That's why I'm going to dinner with them."
"Then go get him."
Santana snorted. "There is no try. And speaking of try, you guys made up that tweet shit about Tripod, didn't you?"
Quinn lips twitched. "No."
"Okay but it was a joint effort."
"Meaning you made up three-legged dog Tripod. Beth would make up the dog and the kitten but not that lost leg and name."
"Maybe a little."
"It made Rachel cry."
Quinn reflex-startled in honest anxiety, "OhmyGod, did it? Is she okay?"
Santana chuckled, "She wept a few girl tears over the sweet story until I pointed out the exclamation points and tearful joy bullshit coming from the two of you. As if. So she huffed around and decided she thought it was in bad taste so you gots some splaining to do but I told her to hold off for the weekend."
Quinn sighed and said from out of nowhere. "She called me mom, San."
Santana shook her head. "What?"
"Beth called me mom. She wants to call me mom."
Santana took a few moments to digest that news and tears filled her eyes. She pulled Quinn into a gentle hug and simply said, because words failed her for what that must mean for her best friend, "Good."
Henry was not having the reception he thought he'd have from Beth. She'd been very surprised and seemed excited he was in the city but had stayed firm about her plans, which had not been to see him. He did understand it was her family time and he'd sort of just come out of nowhere but he did expect her to want to see him.
She seemed to but not in the way he'd thought he'd see her. By herself.
Dinner with her and her other mother. Famous person. Quinn Fabray. Suit coat but no tie. They were sending a car for him.
He decided it wouldn't hurt to be slightly overdressed, hurried out and bought a suit on his dad's credit card. As long as the suit was a nice one he could wear to functions or interviews, he knew his father wouldn't mind. But he texted him to ask permission anyway.
Quinn had texted the car's arrival and saw Beth standing and laughing with the doorman outside, wearing a very short and a very little black dress. It was a lot too much for what she'd probably told Henry to wear. As she'd read about herself in print, Beth didn't even look real.
Beth half skipped over to the car, an ability Quinn had to admire in those heels, got in and said, "Hi and look at you."
If Henry was going to be dressy casual, Quinn had chosen to go the same. A little low-key, wearing black tuxedo slacks with heels and a white shell underneath a shimmering dark green and tailored blazer. She had made her choppy hair deliberately ferocious.
"And look at you, Beth. You're perfect, of course, although that dress is a little more than dressy casual and a lot too short."
"Said the woman who married the Queen of Too Short Skirts and Dresses."
They texted Henry and he was waiting at the restaurant as they arrived. He was wearing a perfectly tailored blue suit and tie complete with boutonniere. From the pictures Beth had sent her, Quinn had thought Henry looked almost eerily like that Warbler Blaine guy. Same dark hair, dark eyes and almost invincibly and cheerily handsome.
He proved to be nearly exactly that in real life. He gave his hand to Beth as she got out of the car and then to Quinn. He looked them over and quickly said, "Wow. You both look so much more than amazing." He quickly kissed Beth on the cheek and then extended a handshake to Quinn, "I'm Henry Thompson, Ms. Fabray, and I'd say more but Beth told me we have to get off the street because of photographers."
She shook his hand and nodded. "We really do."
He opened the door for them.
It was a French-Asian fusion restaurant called Plaisir. An older man with an impeccable grey beard, the house manager and host, Jean, met them. Quinn had dined there often and air kissed him. "Hello, sweetie. This is my daughter Beth and our friend Henry."
Jean, who was completely and flamboyantly gay, said in a deeply accented French, "Of course she is your daughter. Mon Dieu!" He made haste to air kiss her which she happily accepted. He turned to Henry, who quickly shook his hand and said, "Oh my gosh! I hear a bit of Normandy in your accent, sir."
Jean gaped and said, "How do you know this?"
"I very luckily spent five months on student exchange in Rouen and I could speak French with you but I won't because I've heard my accent sounds like I come to the French language from Ohio via New Jersey, which I do. It might destroy your ears."
Jean threw his head back and laughed.
Beth glared daggers at Quinn from Henry to Jean as if to say, 'See what I mean?!'
Jean led them to their table and pulled out a chair for Quinn as Henry pulled one out for Beth. Jean nodded at the young man's manners and said, "Your server will be Sebastian and I've let Chef Thibault know you're here, Quinn, so he will send vegan amuse-bouche I'm sure will charm all of you as you choose your meal."
Quinn smiled up at him. "Thank you, Jean."
Henry smiled at her. "Ms. Fabray, I'm very sorry I couldn't be appropriate in our introduction outside. I'm so pleased to meet you."
"The pleasure is mine. Please call me Quinn. I've always noticed etiquette demands that a man should praise a woman's appearance for a social occasion, as you have and we both appreciate it. I think it only fair to say, in response, that you look very handsome tonight, Henry."
Beth didn't have any idea whether her Mom, her Quinn, was about to be insanely mean. She really just did not know and suddenly sort of wanted to die as she watched her boyfriend frankly blush, "Oh my gosh. Thank you, Ms. Fab… Quinn. I don't want to embarrass Beth but I guess I will—I'm a huge fan of yours." He nodded his head for two seconds before saying, "As an actor, I mean. I obviously don't know you personally so I'm sorry. This is so awkward."
Quinn nodded, "No need to be nervous, Henry, and thank you."
He beamed. "You're welcome."
Beth was writhing a little in her seat. She said a tiny bit petulantly, "Henry, I said don't make a big deal about it."
Okay, Quinn thought. That was unfair. "Henry's not making a big deal, Beth. He's just stating the obvious. I'm your mother but I'm also a famous movie star person. It's more ridiculous if he pretends I'm not than if he acknowledges it."
She smiled at Henry and said, "Beth is very protective of me."
Beth both semi-glared and semi-smiled at her completely unreadable mother and realized in a second that was what Quinn had decided to be. Completely unreadable and even to her.
Henry smiled. "As she should be."
Their server appeared. He was a very attractive young Indian man. "I'm Sebastian and I'll be your server tonight." He placed menus in their hands and said, "Might I bring you drinks before your meal?"
Henry motioned at Beth and said, "Unfortunately, my friend and I are too young to have your sommelier's choice for our meal but I would like sparkling water with a twist of lime. Beth?"
Henry motioned toward Quinn, who said, "l'll have soda water with just enough cranberry juice in it to make it blush. Extra lime."
Sebastian wanted to die. Right in front of him. Speaking to him. Quinn Fabray.
Henry saw it and took his fan-boy eyes off of her by asking him, "Has anyone ever told you that you look nothing like a Sebastian?"
Beth was slightly horrified but Sebastian laughed out loud and said, "Every single person I meet either thinks that or says it."
"I meant no offense."
Sebastian shrugged, "You gave none. I like it better when people just say it."
"I think I understand. Your name's Sebastian and it's counter-intuitive which is completely cool. Get this, though. My name's Henry. Henry is the most boring name on the planet and can you understand how it would feel if no one ever said you don't look like a Henry? No one ever has. I'm a Henry and is there a more boring name than Henry?"
Sebastian laughed as he looked into Henry's true smile. "Sorry, but not really."
"See that? You're a lucky man."
Sebastian nodded, "For the record, let me be the first to say you don't look like a Henry and I'll think up a name that suits you better while I get your drinks."
Henry beamed up at him, "Thanks, Sebastian!"
Beth was again sending Quinn wild, 'See what I mean?' looks during the interchange.
Sebastian brought their drinks and then their amuse bouche.
He said, "As I know you, these amuse bouche are an offering from Chef Thibault. Things to amuse your mouth and prepare you for your meal. He knows you, Ms. Fabray, are vegan and has decided to make these vegan for your daughter and guest."
Other members of the staff brought plates and they were tiny servings of each dish.
"I present a lemon verbena mousse with cocoa crumbs and spring baby onion flowers. The citrus is an incitement for your appetite. A cucumber and a tomato gelee, which is light and exquisite in the mouth. Finally, Ms. Fabray, an emulsion of blood orange on a wild berry gelée, which is Chef Thibault's nod to your beautiful wife."
Quinn blushed and said as Sebastian left, "Okay, let's see what we like best."
They all ate their tiny portions in varying degrees of delight. Quinn loved them all. "What do you think? Which one's best?"
Beth laughed. "Mom, you'd pick the berry thing even if it sucked—which it didn't."
Henry looked scandalized and hissed, "Beth!"
"Language. She's your mother."
That hadn't actually bothered Quinn at all but she now watched their interchange with sudden, infinite interest.
Beth shrugged, "What language? She's cool, Henry."
He ran one hand through his wavy black hair and nodded but Quinn could see he was flustered with Beth because he thought she wasn't showing enough respect to her.
He rocked forward, "I liked the lemon verbena."
Beth smiled at him hesitantly because she could see he was a little unhappy with her and she didn't exactly know why. Quinn could see she couldn't and remembered she was dealing with a teenage girl who was acting very differently with her boyfriend than she did with her.
"I'll pick berry. Every time."
Beth smiled at Henry. Henry smiled at Quinn.
After Sebastian returned and described the specials, he smiled, "I've decided on a new name for you, Henry."
Henry laughed, "Okay, hit me with it."
"Eric. You look like an Eric."
Beth laughed, "That's wild! That's mom's daddy's name."
Quinn felt goosebumps as she looked at Henry. The boy actually did look exactly like an Eric. She said, "A very good name, Sebastian. Let's order. I'll have what Chef Thibault always makes for me."
Beth said, "I'll have whatever Chef Thibault thinks a vegetarian would like."
Henry asked, "What would you suggest from the specials? I'm unfortunately an omnivore."
"Do you like duck?"
"Very much. Yes."
"The pepper crusted duck breast with cherry port sauce. But I'm sorry to say it would take at least twenty minutes to bring to the table."
Henry grimaced but Quinn said, "I think that sounds wonderful. We have the time."
Henry nodded at her and said, to Sebastian, "Then please and thank you."
As Sebastian departed, Quinn nodded. Time for and time to get to business. She smiled at him, "So. Why are you here, Henry?"
Beth thought 'Oh God,' as he glanced at her in uncertainty and then answered Quinn, "I'm sorry?"
Quinn kept smiling right back at him. "My daughter is on a little surprise visit to her family. You're on a little surprise visit to her. That sounds like strangely coincidental surprises."
Quinn didn't think it would be possible for someone to blush so deeply. He was scarlet and sweating in twenty seconds. But he kept smiling. "Well. Okay. You're right. I got some really fantastic news and I wanted to share it with Beth in person and she didn't tell me she was taking this trip until after I got my news so that's why I came. To tell her in person."
Beth put one hand on his. "What is it?"
Quinn's attention was riveted to their interaction.
He reached into his inner jacket pocket, pulled out an envelope and gave it to her. Beth opened it and read the letter inside. "Oh, cool. Your Princeton acceptance letter." Her voice was pleasant but not particularly enthusiastic or congratulatory. "That's really great, sweetie, but of course you did. You couldn't not get in because of your dad, right?"
Quinn watched Henry's happy, joyful, hoping face fall as if Beth had shoved a sword into him. For the two seconds it took for him to regroup and smile, "Right. Yes. Of course. I just wanted to share that with you, I guess."
Beth smiled at him and Quinn felt the only urge she'd ever had to spank any of her four children. "Beth, Henry and I need ten minutes of private time. Now."
"I want to speak to Henry privately for ten minutes."
Beth didn't feel good about that. "And what am I supposed to do for ten minutes?"
"I believe there's a bathroom and there's a patio and Sebastian would kill himself to get another drink for you."
Beth saw a glint in her mother's eye. She stood. "Don't be mean to him."
Quinn glared at her daughter, "No meaner than you've been." Beth didn't know what that meant but she left.
Quinn smiled again at sweating Henry. Heavily sweating. He said, "I'm sorry. I'm very sorry I've made her visit with you uncomfortable. I'm sorry. Very. I should leave."
Quinn shook her head and tapped the table with one finger. "No no, Henry. You should tell me why you came to New York and as you do so, realize this. I can lie because I'm an actor. To the core of my being, I'm an actor. Tell me the truth and I won't hate you or hurt you but I will know if you lie to me. Did you come to tell Beth this news thinking that would get her into bed with you?"
His hand shook as he wiped the sweat from his brow. "No."
He looked at her and his eyes were welling with tears. "I...she's too good for me, I know…I think." The tears fell. "She's so smart and so pretty and so funny. When she got her letter from Dartmouth I was beside myself with what that meant—what she'd achieved. I don't know what to say. Yes, of course. I want to move our relationship that step forward but I don't care and we don't have to until she wants to. I really just wanted her to be proud of me and to celebrate with her and it could be have been that but I swear to you," he stared resolutely into her eyes, "if she'd only just wanted to get an ice cream cone together to celebrate, I'd have been happy."
He wiped his eyes. "I've worked all my life at school so I could get into the Ivy League and all my father ever said to me was Princeton. I had to be perfect boy and I had to get into Princeton. Do you know how hard that is to hear that all your life? Somebody telling you all your life that you 'have to be this, you have to do this'?"
Quinn nodded, feeling an ache in her throat.
"So, I studied and did my electives and I am smart and I do have the grades and I am the valedictorian. I do have the SAT scores to be anywhere in the Ivy League."
Quinn looked at the handsome, sad boy in front of her looking down at the table cloth instead of her. She asked, "You have all those things, but what? Tell me."
"I worked all these years to get into Princeton and everyone will always think it was because of my father that I did. Nothing I did really mattered. It was expected of me."
He looked up at her, "My father is rich but I did really work for all of it, Quinn. I wanted Beth to be proud of me but even she said, 'of course you got in.'"
He shrugged. "But it's not that big a deal, right? If you're still worried, at this point I don't want to get together with her this weekend or maybe ever."
Quinn was dismayed by the fact this might be so serious for him but had to ask her other question. "Henry, will you tell me something else?"
He shrugged again, "Of course."
"Why do you talk to strangers the way you do?"
"What do you mean?"
"You go out of your way to befriend them."
He looked at her for a long few moments and grinned. "Oh. Okay. I know it bugs Beth that I do that even though she's never actually told me that."
"Why do you?"
He looked at the table cloth again, didn't raise his head, "My mother died when I was twelve years old. My mother was my mother but she was also my friend. I knew she was dying and she knew it, too. She told me most people were kind and, when I missed her, to talk to them and be their friend if only for a few seconds or minutes because it would make them her friend. She said she'd always have me in her heart in heaven but she'd also always have all the friends I made for her here where she couldn't make them anymore. I know it was a simplistic way to say to a little boy to always be kind but that's why I'm the way I am with strangers."
He looked up at her. "I took her at her word. I want my mother to have every single friend I can give her here she can't give herself there, Quinn. I miss her every minute of every day. Being kind to people I meet every day is my way of sending my mother my love. I will never stop doing it even if it looks stupid sometimes and I know it does. I don't care. I won't stop because I won't ever stop missing her."
Quinn looked at him. His eyes were achingly loving and absolutely sincere. This boy would not willingly hurt her daughter. She nodded. "Of course you shouldn't stop. Have you ever told Beth that?"
She sighed. "Why would you tell me that and not her?"
"You're a mother. You might understand. It might seem lame for a teenage girl to hear from her teenage boyfriend that he will always be that child missing his mother."
Quinn winced internally, "You don't think Beth would understand missing a mother?"
"How could she? She has two mothers who adore her and she knows it. But sometimes, like with everything I guess, when you have more than most people or people who have nothing…I don't know. Sometimes, I don't think she understands how lucky she really is."
They just looked at each other for one full minute.
And then Quinn nodded. "I'll handle this."
He laughed in relief because he could see the woman liked him and loved Beth. But at the look in her eyes, he asked, "Why doesn't that make me feel better?"
She grinned. "It really shouldn't. I'll handle part of it but you do need to explain why you are how you are to her. She won't think it's lame. Promise. Okay?"
And at that agreement, Beth appeared as if by magic and stared at Henry as if to judge what might have happened. Her mouth dropped open.
"You've been crying? Oh my God. Mom! You said you'd be nice and you made my boyfriend cry?"
Quinn said very quietly, "Lower your voice and take a seat."
Beth gave her a death glare as she took her seat that scared Quinn about as much as Rachel's.
"I did not make Henry cry. I asked him questions. I'm going to ask you a few and you will answer them."
Wow. How well Quinn remembered the vast range of teenage petulance that could be encapsulated in the word 'fine.'
"I happen to know that you worked extremely hard to be the valedictorian at your high school."
Beth continued to glare, "Yes."
"All those electives and the track team. It must have taken a lot of work."
"When you received your letter of acceptance into an Ivy League school and the one you most wanted, how'd you feel?"
Beth had no idea where this was going. "It felt fantastic, of course."
"I bet it did. What you didn't know, Beth, is that I, Ms. Big Rich Movie star, bought you a place at Dartmouth."
Beth was so stunned it took her a few seconds before she literally paled and she shook her head. "No, you didn't," she whispered. "No."
Quinn lifted one eyebrow. "You're completely right. No. I didn't. I promise you I didn't. You got it all on your own, Beth. I can see from your reaction it felt really, really horrible to know you'd worked so hard for a goal and then to know it was all just your very wealthy parent's decision. A bit like you just made Henry feel by basically implying his father bought him into Princeton. Work it out, Ivy League. Who made Henry cry? Me or you?"
Beth's mouth dropped open again and tears immediately sprang into her eyes, "Henry. Oh my God. I'm so sorry." She looked so beside herself that she wasn't a sophisticated woman in a little black dress anymore. She looked like the growing girl she still was. "I am so sorry. I didn't think—I didn't mean that. Your dad's all rah rah Princeton but of course you got in! Of course you got in! I just sort of always knew you would. You're crazy smart and you're perfect. Of course you got in. I'm so proud of you! So proud of you!"
Henry looked a little delirious and embarrassed because Beth suddenly leaped into his arms and took his face in her hands and peppered it with kisses as he laughed.
Quinn laughed as she said, "Okay, kids. Break it up. We have a meal to eat."
Beth re-seated herself and glared at Quinn, "That was a seriously bitchy thing for you to do to me."
Quinn lifted one eyebrow again, "Your point?"
Beth inhaled. Her mother had corrected her and made things better. Mothers could sometimes do that. "Thanks, mom."
"You're welcome, Beth."
Sebastian appeared holding a tray with three wine glasses. With wine in them. He placed it on the table and lowered his voice to the quietest whisper. "Naturally I would do the usual wine service if you had ordered it but you did not. This murders our sommelier Bernard but he has agreed to say, if anyone should ask, that he was serving you three the first non-alcoholic wine of which he approves. It is not non-alcoholic. Not only will it enhance your meal, you all look-if I might be so bold to say so-as if you need a drink."
Quinn laughed out loud. "Thank you, Sebastian. Okay. Beth." She winked at Henry, "Eric. A votre santé!"
They lifted their glasses and touched them together.
They had a wonderful meal and Quinn explained to Beth and Henry that she and Beth would be retrieving her things from the hotel and staying in her home for the night. She invited Henry to come to lunch the next day so he could meet the rest of Beth's family. He readily and joyfully agreed. Beth looked at him as they parted ways. He'd passed some nearly unimaginable test. Her mother might not like him but Quinn actually did like him. She decided it wasn't disloyal to privately somehow feel Quinn's opinion mattered more and decided not to think about why that might be.
When Quinn and Beth arrived back at the loft a bit after 10, the kids were asleep but the adults were up watching a movie. They'd texted them so when they heard the key in the lock they all rushed to the door to meet them.
Santana took one look at Beth's dress, pointed both index fingers at her and then at Quinn, "You let our first born out in that? Britts, quick step. Get a blanket—let's cover her."
Brittany smiled, completely relaxed, "Hi, Beth. San means you look super crazy hot and she can't say that because we're all related."
Rachel looked up at Beth and then hugged her, which made her about at the level of Beth's ribcage. She sighed, "Ahhh…that's sooo nice. I remember this. It's not unlike hugging a slender and much more feminine version of Finn."
Quinn's eyes were immediately the size of pie plates and her voice was as heavy as lead. "What did you just say, Rachel Berry?"
Rachel released Beth and whirled to glare at her wife. "I gets mines back! I said Tripod, Quinn! REALLY? TRIPOD?"
Rachel turned and did a magnificent diva storm-out.
Quinn truly had been instantaneously volcanic with jealously but with that little, tiny 5'2" slap-back, she clapped her hands over her mouth and doubled over in laughter. All of them did.
She wiped her happy tears of laughter, smiled at Beth, and whispered, "Isn't she fantastic? I'm SO happily married. I'll be right out. Rach will too."
Santana followed Quinn down the hall and stopped her, whispering, "Before you go deal with our crazy? I gotta know. Is that fucker a Russell, a you or Mr. Perfect?"
Quinn smiled, a delighted happy smile Santana so rarely saw from her friend. "He's perfect and he's going to marry her. She's just too young to know it yet. You'll see tomorrow."
Henry Thompson, who actually legally changed his name to Eric Henry Thompson, did indeed marry Beth Corcoran when they'd graduated from the universities they both had deserved to attend. Rachel's daddy Eric cried like a baby at the wedding even as he shook his head. Nobody could think up new names in their extended family.