Litanya: Uh, hi. This is my first ever Glee fanfic, so if the characters are OOC (and trust me, they probably will be) just let me know and I'll see if I can fix them. This fic is also AU from 2x10 because I started writing it after that episode aired, and well... that was literally months ago.
This fic is for Steph as a very, VERY belated birthday and Christmas present. I really love the journal you gave me (ask my brother, I raved about it to him for a good ten minutes until he threw me out of his room =)). As for the plot of the fic… after what we talked about, I just couldn't resist.
A bit of warning: will probably contain a lot of swearing, but it is Puck…
Also, I have absolutely no medical knowledge at all. I know a little about head injuries due to my past studies in neuropsychology, but other than that, my knowledge comes from internet sites and TV shows, so please just ignore anything that doesn't seem right with the medical stuff.
The first sign that Noah "Puck" Puckerman was in trouble appeared only a few seconds after he opened his eyes. Although his eyes refused to focus properly, he was pretty sure that he did not have a bright yellow road sign- one of those "slippery when wet" warnings- stuck in his bedroom. He had thought about stealing a road sign, but he had taken a street sign instead (it had his name on it… Puck St.), and he had thrown it haphazardly into the bottom of his closet when he had gotten home so that his mother wouldn't see it. So although he could have possibly stolen one the night before, he found it extremely unlikely that he would have stuck it in the middle of his room, right where his mother could see it.
That led onto the second sign that he was in trouble: the fact that he was finding it extremely difficult to see. Well, he supposed that that could have been the first sign he was in trouble, as he could hardly read the road sign, but the road sign was bright yellow, the same shade of yellow as the highlighters Artie made him use on his geometry homework. And everyone knew that highlighted shit was important, right? That meant that the road sign trumped the not-being-able-to-see properly thing. He was rather proud of himself for figuring that out.
He tried to lift his head so he could figure out where exactly he was, but his body didn't want to co-operate. It wasn't as though he was in pain, but his head felt heavy and he just didn't want to lift it. He wondered what he had done the night before to feel this fucked up, but he couldn't remember. Had Santana dragged him to another one of her older brother's parties? They usually had a lot of alcohol at those things and he had a tendency to just drink whatever was handed to him (and then usually regret it later.)
He was pretty sure that Santana wasn't talking to him at the moment though- something about him being no fun when he wasn't putting out- which really made no sense to him at the moment, because he was a stud and…
"Hey, can you hear me?" a male voice called, as a beam of light burned into his eyes. He had no idea who the voice belonged to, and as he had clamped his eyes shut as soon the light had appeared, he couldn't even see the guy. His mind flashed to the latest horror movie he had seen, where a murderer had hunted for victims along a highway. He would wait and pretend to help people when their cars broke down at night, and then he would kidnap them and kill them. But Puck was at home, right? He wasn't anywhere near his truck… although if he was in his truck, then the road sign kind of made a lot more sense.
"Did he answer? Is… okay? Oh my... ambulance coming?" he could faintly hear a female voice, but it was further away and he found it incredibly hard to concentrate on what she was saying. His chest started to hurt. It was only a little bit of pain, but it alerted him to the fact that he wasn't really breathing properly. What was happening to him? He opened his eyes, glad to find that the annoying light had disappeared.
"Oh good, you're awake," the male's voice was closer, and a few seconds later, something touched his shoulder. As soon as whatever it was made contact, his whole arm burst into a chorus of pain. He would have screamed, but he couldn't seem to find the air, or the energy. Instead of a scream he managed to produce a pathetic squeak that he was immediately embarrassed about. The embarrassment only lasted a millisecond before it was washed aside by the pain. He had taken quite a few hard hits in his time from football and fight club (and from his father years before both of those, but he chose to forget about that), but he had never felt anything even remotely close to the torture that he was feeling now.
He wanted to curl up into a ball and writhe in agony but it was as though the pain in his arm had started to awaken pains everywhere in his body. The pain in his chest moved from being a dull ache to full on burning. Tears sprang to his eyes and he found it harder to breathe. He was gasping for breath now, and the strain of the excess movement only served to add to his pain. What the hell had happened to him? How was it possible for him to be in this much pain and not be unconscious?
"Hey, hey, easy now… you need to calm down," the male voice was back, seemingly unaware of the panic and agony that he had caused, "My name is Brian, what's your name?" Puck wanted to laugh. He was in pain, something obviously bad had happened to him, and this guy wanted to fucking introduce himself? Why did he think that Puck would give a fuck what his name was? He just wanted the pain to go away. There was no way in hell he was telling this freak his name.
"…H-happened?" he coughed after he spoke, unable to get the air into his lungs correctly. His voice sounded all gravelly and pathetic and he really wished he hadn't bothered to talk to the guy. He was a stud and a badass- he wasn't supposed to sound so wimpy.
"Someone ran a red light... crashed into you…think he took off…drunk maybe?" Puck felt a little as though he was underwater. When he had been five he had loved going to his aunt's house, because she had a pool. It was a tiny pool, barely big enough to qualify as one, but he had loved it. He had pretended to be a fish, spending as much time under the water as possible. He would duck under the water and stare up at the sky and watch as the water above his head rippled the outside world until his mother would usually come out calling for him frantically, convinced that he had drowned. He felt a little bit as though he was sitting on the bottom of the pool now, staring up at the sky. Brad-or whatever the guy's name was- was still talking, but his voice was starting to fade, just like his mother's voice when he was under the water.
Black spots were starting to appear in his vision, and the whole breathing thing was starting to feel like too much trouble. He supposed that he needed to keep doing it, but he had lost track of the reason why.
"Paramedics are here," the female voice called, sounding freaked-out. The guy made some sort of reply, but Puck was too busy trying to remember why breathing was a good idea to really pay much attention. The black spots were getting worse and the pain seemed to be increasing by the second and he just wanted it all to stop.
"Alright I need you to try to stay awake, okay? Can you… that?" a new male voice this time. He ignored him. He wasn't sure when his eyes slid shut, but the darkness was the last thing he registered before a high pitched whining sound filled the air. Whatever it was, he decided to deal with it later. He seriously needed to sleep off this hangover.
It was six thirty a.m. when Santana's mother pushed the door to her room open and switched on her bedroom light.
"Santana, honey, I need you to wake up," Santana groaned, mumbled something and tried to hide her head under the pillow to stop the light from burning her eyes.
"It's too early to get up. My alarm hasn't gone off yet," she finally managed to mutter at a reasonable volume, only slightly muffled by the pillow. Her mother continued into the room, opening the blinds to let the sunlight in and completely ruin Santana's chances of getting back to sleep. She sighed and gave up, throwing her pillow at the wall in frustration.
She would have totally reamed her mother out for waking her up, but her mother never usually showed any interest in what she did, so she was curious as to why she would suddenly come in to wake her up. Her mother picked the thrown pillow up off the floor and placed it gently on the end of the bed. She was avoiding looking at Santana, and the cheerleader suddenly knew that something bad had happened.
"What's going on?" she demanded to know, sitting up and pushing the stuffed unicorn Brittany had given her off the bed by accident. She left it on the floor, even though she knew Britt would freak if she saw it there, because she needed to know what her mother was so nervous about telling her.
"Well I just got a call from your father," her mother said, smoothing her dress as she spoke hesitantly, "He was working the night shift at the hospital last night and he said... well, that boy that you hang around with… Buck? Puck? Well, whatever his name is, well, he's apparently in the hospital. He was in a car accident and he's been hurt pretty badly."
Santana honestly felt as though her heart had stopped for a second. It wasn't as though she was in love with Puck, but he was one of her best friends and she had known him since the second grade.
"Shit… W-What happened? I mean, is he okay? You said… you said he was hurt pretty badly, right? Does that mean he's going to, like, die? No, no, no… he's Puck he's pretty much indestructible. I mean, he jumped off the roof of the garage when he was eight because he was convinced that he could fly and he only broke his arm then and jumping off a roof is more serious than a car accident, right? I mean there's like gravity and stuff and that makes the force higher or something, right? So he's going to be okay?" she had no idea where half of the stuff she was saying was coming from, but she just couldn't seem to stop talking. Her mother was looking at her with something akin to pity in her eyes, which only made it worse. It couldn't be real.
"I don't know sweetie," a sign that this was real- her mother never called her by anything other than her full name, "Your father couldn't talk for long, but he said that…your friend… is still in the ICU, so it will be a while before you can visit him. I'm not entirely sure how hurt he is, but from what your father said… it's going to be a long recovery." She sat down stiffly next to Santana on the bed and pulled her into a hug. Santana wasn't sure who was more surprised by that- her or her mother.
She didn't dwell on it for too long though. Thoughts were flying through her head so fast that she couldn't really process it all- it wasn't a particularly new feeling, but this was the first time it was happening due to panic for another person. Puck was in hospital, in a bad condition. Puck who attended fight club, took all of the roughest tackles in football games and who had taken more beatings than Santana cared to think about without flinching, was in hospital, quite possibly dying. He was indestructible though… he had to be.
Once she started getting used to the news, another thought occurred to her. Puck was in Glee (something she had once thought would never ever happen and she sometimes still had to pinch herself to believe). The other Glee kids probably didn't know. She was going to have to tell them all. She remembered how upset everyone had been when it had been Kurt's dad in hospital, and even though Burt was really nice, he wasn't actually in Glee. How was everyone going to react when she gave them the news? Sure a few of them didn't seem to care much for Puck- Mercedes in particular could be extremely mean to him at times- but Santana was sure that everyone was going to be devastated. How was she going to tell them?
"Do you want to stay home from school today? I can drive you to the hospital later if you want to go visit your friend," her mother offered, leaning back and holding her at arm's length so that she could see her face. Tears were running down Santana's cheeks- she had no idea when she had started crying. She didn't know when she had gotten so emotional. It was probably Glee's fault- teaching her to be a nicer person. She was tempted to take her mother up on the offer, but she knew that she had to tell Glee. After all, she wasn't the only one close to Puck- Finn had been his best friend for as long as Santana could remember (although their friendship hadn't been the same after the whole baby-gate thing). And then there was Quinn.
Santana dreaded telling the blonde head cheerleader. Despite the fact that Quinn was 'happily' dating Sam, Santana knew that this was going to hit her hard. She and Puck had had a baby together after all- no matter what Sam was to Quinn, Puck would always be tied to her through Beth. Santana didn't know the exact details of the relationship she had heard Kurt nickname 'Quick,' but she knew that it hadn't been just a fling. There had been some serious feelings involved, and therefore the brunette cheerleader wasn't sure how Quinn was going to react.
She shook herself out of her thoughts and glanced at her alarm clock. It was still before seven. She pulled away from her mother and tried to calmly wipe the tears away from her eyes. She needed to focus. She ignored the fact that her hands were shaking.
"I-I need to go to school. The other kids in Glee will want to know. I'll get a lift to the hospital with one of them, but would you be able to drive me to school? I want to go see him but… Quinn and the others deserve to know too," her mother smiled at her, and Santana had never felt so close to her before. She wished that this closeness hadn't been due to these circumstances.
"Of course," her mother said softly, "Do you need me to do anything else? I will add him to my prayers. I don't really know him very well, but he seems to be a good friend for you, despite the… activities you engage in together. I hope that he gets better soon. Can I make you breakfast?" Santana nodded, wiping her eyes with her hands again, still surprised to find tears.
"Thanks Mama," she said sincerely grateful for what her mother had done for her so far, "I'll come down as soon as I've gotten my uniform on… I'll need to be early to school so I can let everyone know about… about Puck." Her mother nodded and left the room quietly after giving her shoulder a gentle squeeze. After her mother had left, Santana sat still for a second, squeezing her eyes shut as tight as she could. She clasped her hands together tightly and prayed (although she didn't entirely believe in anything) that Puck would be alright.
She let herself have a few minutes, just breathing and praying and calming herself down, before grabbing her phone off her bedside table. She typed a quick message to everyone in Glee (a little surprised to find all of their numbers in her phone- Britt must have put them in there), informing them to meet her in the choir room before first period. She made sure to include Mr. Schuster when she sent the message- she had a feeling that the teacher would want to know about this too.
With that taken care of, she quickly got ready for school, changing into her Cheerios uniform as usual. She didn't bother much with make-up; as she had been crying her face was all puffy and a little red, but she figured that she was probably going to do a bit more crying today (and probably completely destroy the reputation of being a cold-hearted bitch that she had worked so hard on) so there was no point in applying too much make-up. Although she did apply some lip gloss in the car on the way to school- there was no point in completely destroying her image after all.
Brittany was the first person she ran into at school, which wasn't very surprising as their lockers were side-by-side.
"Hey San, what's wrong?" the blonde may have been a bit slow and incredibly innocent, but even she could tell that Santana was upset. Despite all of the sadness she was feeling over Puck, Santana couldn't help but feel better when Britt grabbed her hand.
"Hey Britt, I'll tell you when we get to the choir room, okay?" she began leading the way to the choir room, hoping against hope that she could do this without breaking down too badly.
"Why are we going to the choir room? I didn't know we had Glee today," Britt remarked, looking confused. Santana sighed.
"We don't usually have Glee today but there's something everyone needs to know," she couldn't handle telling Britt when they were alone- Britt may not understand straight away and would probably ask a lot of questions that Santana didn't have the answers to. She definitely needed support for that.
As she thought, they weren't the first to arrive at the choir room. Tina and Mike were sitting in the front row, chatting to Artie who looked like he was about to test something out on his guitar. Quinn was also there, sitting alone in the second row. She was staring down at the ring that Sam had given her with an unreadable expression on her face. They all looked up as she and Britt entered the room. Britt looked for a second as though she was going to skip over to Artie to say hi to her boyfriend, but then she seemed to remember that Santana was upset and squeezed her hand instead.
"Let's go sit with Artie and then you can tell me what's wrong?" Britt suggested, looking a little hopeful. Tina glanced up at them again and frowned.
"Are you okay Santana?" the cheerleader forced herself to nod. She was annoyed that she couldn't pull herself together. It wasn't like it was her soul mate who was hurt- it was just Puck. Yes he had been her friend for a while, and he knew secrets about her that even Britt didn't know (although that was only because she was too scared to tell Britt how she really felt about her) and they had been through a lot of shit together through the years, but it was still just Puck.
"Who called this meeting?" Rachel demanded to know as she entered the room, seemingly flustered that someone had dared call a meeting without her permission. Sam and Finn entered the room behind her, both looking a little wary of the tiny brunette in front of them. Artie frowned.
"I just assumed you did Rachel… it kind of seemed like something you would do," he offered, "I mean, we still have to get ready for regionals." There were a few nods of agreement as Mercedes and Mr. Schuster came in the door, talking about some musical they wanted to see. Sam spotted Quinn sitting alone and made a beeline for her, taking a seat to her left. Finn skirted around Rachel (which would normally have made Santana want to roll her eyes) and took a seat next to him.
"If you had paid attention to the text then you would know that I did not send it. Firstly, if you had checked the number then you would have seen that it was not me who sent the text. Secondly, they misspelled 'meeting' and 'choir' and I have impeccable spelling. I don't actually have this person's number programmed into my phone, however, so I am guessing that it was Santana who organized this meeting, which makes me nervous." The brunette talked so fast and so loud that Santana almost didn't catch all of what she said. Normally she would have retorted with a bitchy remark whilst overtly flirting with Finn, but today wasn't normal. She felt like a completely different person and that scared her.
"Yeah I called this meeting because-
"Wait, we're missing someone," Mr. Schuster said as he mentally counted the number of people in the room, "I know Lauren quit after Christmas, but Puck is still not here." She forced herself to swallow as a lump rose in her throat.
"I know," she said after taking a deep breath, "But you know how my dad is like a doctor and works at the hospital? He called my mum this morning and um Puck's in hospital. There was some sort of accident or something and my dad knows that I'm friends with him and so he called to let me know because apparently he's badly hurt and in the ICU and-and he might…" she trailed off as her teammates just stared at her blankly.
"Slow down girl, we can't understand a word that you're saying," Mercedes told her as she took a seat on the other side of Quinn. Brittany, who was used to Santana's rambling when she was upset, tilted her head to one side, looking confused.
"But Puck is like a robot- he never gets broken. Why would he be in hospital?" now everyone was confused. Artie, Quinn and Tina were the first to get it.
"Puck's in hospital? What happened?" Tina asked. Mr. Schuster covered his mouth with his hands, looking shocked. Santana took a deep breath and tried to remember to talk slowly.
"I don't really know. My dad works at the hospital and he called this morning to tell me that Puck was in an accident or something and is in the ICU. From what my dad says, he's pretty badly hurt," utter silence descended on the room as everyone processed the news. Santana found that there were new tears in her eyes and Brittany, who seemed to have finally figured out what was going on, wrapped her arms around her in a hug.
"But he's going to be okay, right?" Finn finally asked, breaking the silence, "I mean, remember that time he jumped off your garage? And then when we were ten and he set off that firework and almost blew off his hand? And then… Oh God… does his mum know? And Sarah? They'll be going nuts!" Despite things still being a little awkward between he and Puck (especially since the Rachel-make-out session happened) Finn still cared deeply for him. They had been raised as practically brothers- their mothers were really close friends- and he felt worse than he had felt when Burt had been in hospital.
"I'd say that the hospital would have called them," Mr. Schuster assured him, "They usually call family first. Did your dad say anything about visitors?" Santana shrugged.
"I didn't speak to him exactly- my mum gave me the message, but she said that I might be able to visit him later. I don't know if that was just because my dad could get me in, but I'm sure that I can get my dad to let us see him. I kind of just assumed that we would go to the hospital and figure it out from there." Everyone seemed to nod in agreement. Sam looked a little uncomfortable, but then he hadn't had much of a chance to get to know Puck, so she wasn't surprised that he wasn't that eager to go.
What she was surprised at was Quinn. The blonde had barely reacted to the news at all. Whilst Santana could see tears in Rachel's eyes, and even Tina's, the head cheerleader looked almost bored. She was still staring at the ring Sam had given her and for a moment Santana wondered if she hadn't heard. But then she saw Quinn take a deep breath, and squeeze her hands together in a quick prayer, before standing.
"I-uh-I have to get to class. I have a test in history first period and-and I have to go," she muttered before half running out of the room. Santana hesitated for a second, before transferring Brittany over to Artie.
"I'll meet you guys at the hospital," she said quickly, hoping that she could score a lift from someone later. Artie nodded in understanding, already dialling his dad's number so that he could get a lift. Brittany looked from the door back to Santana and nodded. It was amazing that she understood some things straight away, whilst taking forever to understand others.
She left the other members of Glee talking about who was riding with who, and Mercedes claiming that she was going to message Kurt to let him know, and went to find Quinn. She knew that the girl had no intentions of going to class- mainly as both Quinn and Santana were supposed to have Spanish first period, not history. Although she and Quinn hadn't been getting along all that well recently, mainly over the fact that Santana was a little pissed at how Quinn had treated Puck (although Quinn thought it was because she had stolen head cheerleader back from Santana… who had to admit that that was also a major factor), they had been friends since kindergarten. Their friendship hadn't always been all rainbows and sunshine, but they understood each other. That's why Santana knew where she would go. She just hoped that she would be able to talk some sense into her and not make everything worse.
Quinn had been sitting quietly, lost in thoughts about her relationship with Sam when Santana and Brittany had entered the room. She had been thinking about how nice and cute and just plain wonderful Sam was… and how much she felt that he was a little too good for her. She loved his smile and the way that he would use any excuse to call or walk with her; the way he treated her as though she was the most beautiful girl in the world. She also hated it. He never really made her angry (although there was that time when he said 'Bieste' when they were making out…) and he always acted like a gentleman. She knew that these were good things, but there just seemed to be something missing. She loved him- of that she was sure- she just wasn't sure that she was in love with him.
And then Santana made her announcement, and everything seemed to stop.
Puck was hurt. She hadn't really paid much attention to him since Beth. They had kind of had a relationship after Beth had been born, but she had found it too hard to look at him half of the time without bursting into tears. Whenever she saw him she thought of their daughter and how their little girl was being held and loved by another woman. She knew that they had made the right decision and that Beth would benefit from it, but it hurt so much that she hadn't been able to bear seeing him. They hadn't really had a proper conversation since the birth and then he had gone to juvie and she had Sam and… they just hadn't really talked.
And now he could be dying.
She had made her excuses and fled the choir room, unable to stay in the room with everyone. She had felt their eyes on her, knowing that they were waiting for her reaction, knowing that they were expecting her to break down or laugh. She didn't know if she was going to do either- the words Santana had said didn't really feel real.
She had seen him at Glee yesterday. Mr. Schuster was fond of making them dance partners- which had annoyed her at first because she had wanted to dance with Sam (until she had seen him dance with Tina and then she was glad that Mr. Schu liked her with Puck). They did work well together, she had to admit. They rarely said anything to each other- certainly nothing serious. He would sometimes comment on Rachel's facial expression, or Finn's "cool" moves, or she would point out the number of times Santana had flipped Rachel off without Mr. Schu noticing… little comments like that. It was fun and even though he sometimes annoyed her with comments about the shortness of Santana's skirt or the low-cut top Tina wore once, she looked forward to being his partner. It still hurt to look at him sometimes, especially on days like Sectionals which reminded her of the day Beth was born, but she felt good when she was around him.
She slipped under the bleachers, hoping that no one would come to find her. She couldn't remember what excuse she had used to get away from her Glee teammates, but she was pretty sure hiding under the bleachers wasn't very consistent with it. She slumped to the ground, feeling suddenly exhausted although she had no idea why. Her right hand strayed instinctively to her pocket and she pulled out a carefully folded photograph. She unfolded it slowly; both loving and dreading the scene the photo depicted.
It was a photo her mother had taken on the day Beth was born. It was a few hours after the birth, so Quinn had had a chance to get cleaned up. She was sitting up in the bed, holding Beth up at an angle so her face was to the camera. Puck was hovering in the background. He was half sitting on the edge of the bed next to Quinn, still in his costume for Regionals. He wasn't really looking at the camera- he had been completely entranced by his daughter. One of his fingers was in Beth's little hand. He was smiling at his daughter. Quinn wasn't really looking at the camera either, her gaze being drawn to her baby and Puck. She remembered that she had berated him for not looking at the camera after the photo had been taken, and she had eventually managed to get a photo where they were all looking at the camera. But this one was her favourite.
"Cute picture," Quinn's head snapped up as Santana took a seat next to her, looking at the picture with a small smirk, "I mean, I must admit that I'm still amazed little Beth didn't come out with horns and a tail, considering who her parents are." Santana made a move as if to pluck the picture from her, and Quinn instinctively held it away.
"What are you doing here? I thought you'd be visiting your boyfriend by now," the icy edge in her voice is instinctual too- she had spent years and years as a child learning how to be an ice queen and now it was almost natural for her. Santana sighed, rolling her eyes.
"Okay, firstly, he's not my boyfriend- I'm with Finn now- or at least I will be once he stops moping over the midget, and secondly, if anyone was going to rush to Puckerman's bedside, it would be you because we all know that no matter what you say, you still want him," Santana said, giving her an evil glare, "And then you go and run off with some lame excuse about a history test when even the Asian chick drags up a few tears for the guy. So I thought that I'd better make sure you actually heard what I said before. Puck's like, dying or something." Quinn felt physically ill at the word 'dying'. Santana said it so casually, like it was no big deal. She couldn't even bear to think about it.
"Well, thank you for relaying the message. You can go now," she had been raised to be polite, so she can't help but say thank you, but she hopes that Santana gets the message. She doesn't want to talk about it. But Santana just shrugs and stretches out a little, making it obvious that she isn't going anywhere.
"He still cares about you too, you know," the brunette was staring at the ground as though making sure not to look at her, "He doesn't really talk about it, but I've known him a long time and I can tell. He's got that picture in his wallet too."
"What are you trying to say Santana?" she didn't really know what to do with this almost nice Santana. She knew that Glee had changed the girl a little bit, but she hadn't known that she had changed this much.
"Look, I know that you're dating Sam and all, but it's okay for you to be upset about Puck being hurt too, you know? If Asian chick and midget get to cry about this, then you definitely get to do so too. So really, you have no excuse for not visiting him. Hell, even your blond Ken-doll is planning on skipping class to head to the hospital. You're actually making yourself stand-out by not wanting to visit him and that's going to make sure that everyone figures out you still want him. I'm sure even blondie will get the hint if you don't suck it up and act like a normal person, and I'm guessing you don't want him to know," she wished she could deny everything that Santana was saying, but she couldn't find the words.
She knew that her behaviour was odd, and unfortunately her rival/kind-of-friend was right. By acting the way she was, she was just drawing attention to herself and making it seem as though she cared about Puck. And well, whilst she did care, she didn't want anyone to know that she did, especially not Sam, who was still semi-convinced that Puck was going to beat him up. She couldn't break up with Sam- she was determined to be a part of the most popular couple at the school and she wouldn't know if she was until she won homecoming queen, with Sam as her king. She knew that it wasn't a particularly good or honest reason for dating him, but she had a feeling that Sam was using her a bit to boost his popularity, so she figured that they were even. Besides, once they went off to college they were probably going to be miles apart and forget about each other anyway. (She was using Puck's logic from the night she got pregnant, but she didn't want to acknowledge that).
"Why are you here?" was all she could say, unable to address the real issue.
"I need a ride to the hospital. My mum drove me to school today and I told her I'd get a lift from one of the Glee kids, and they have all left. That means that I need you to drive me, and since you're coming to the hospital anyway, you might as well see how he's doing," Santana gave up trying to do… well, whatever she was trying to do, Quinn supposed. She never had had much patience.
"Fine, I'll give you a lift," Quinn gave in too, knowing it was only fair, "But I really do have a test today and I don't want to miss it, so I won't stay very long." She carefully tucked the picture of her, Beth and Puck back into her pocket, knowing that she would take it out again before the day was over. Santana didn't comment, and the walk to Quinn's car passed silently, each girl absorbed in her thoughts.
"You know I'll hate you again tomorrow, right?" Santana checked as she pulled the door of the car open. Quinn stopped when she was halfway into her seat, raising an eyebrow as she faced her frenemy.
"Hate you too," she said with a small smile, glad that some things in her life would never change. They didn't exchange another word the rest of the way.
When Finn climbed out of Mike's car at the hospital, he was too busy watching Rachel to really know what was going on. The tiny brunette hadn't said much on the drive over, and that told him just as much as her red-rimmed eyes that she was upset. Of course, he knew why she was upset, but he didn't want to dwell on it too much. He and Puck had been friends for what seemed like forever, but things had been awkward between them since the whole thing with Quinn and the baby and so it was just easier for him to think about Rachel than figure out what he was feeling himself about the situation.
He still loved Rachel (which was pretty obvious to anyone who had eyes, ears or the ability to feel- his love for her pretty much oozed out of his very being, in all forms) and he hated seeing her this upset. It was especially upsetting that she was this upset over something that had happened to Puck of all people. He knew that she had only really dated him the previous year to make him jealous (Kurt had sat him down and explained the concept to him slowly when he realized that Finn had thought that Rachel had actually fallen in love with Puck). But then she had chosen Puck again just recently, when trying to "even things up" or whatever she had called it.
And now she was crying because he had been hurt.
It wasn't as though he was heartless or anything- he got it, kind of. He knew that Rachel and Puck had formed an odd kind of friendship (which had been confirmed at Sectionals, when Puck had been the only one to defend Rachel from Santana) and he knew that it was probably partly because they were both Jewish. Puck had always wanted a friend who didn't celebrate Christmas, and as the Jewish community wasn't all that large in Lima, Rachel was probably a last-resort (Finn wasn't naïve enough to believe that Rachel was Puck's first choice as a friend, but he also knew that he wasn't as badass as he tried to make himself out to be, and Rachel was a good person).
So he understood that she would be upset that Puck may be dying in a hospital room, linked up to the multitude of machines that Finn was certain he would be hooked up to. (He'd been watching a lot of Grey's Anatomy with his mother recently and everyone who was hurt was always making machines beep so he figured Puck would too.)
What he didn't understand was why she was being so quiet and letting Mr. Schu- who had driven Sam and Mercedes- take the lead in finding out what was going on. Rachel loved being in control. So to see her take a back seat in something like this was worrying. Maybe he hadn't been wrong when he had thought that there was more to the Puckleberry friendship than just friendship. Maybe the reason why she was so quiet was that she was so overcome with grief for her love that she felt unable to go on with her life? Maybe she herself was sick? He looked at her face, trying to see if she was showing any signs of sickness. It was seriously freaking him out.
"Finn? What are you doing here?" he was pulled out of his scrutiny of the ex-he-wasn't-supposed-to-care-about by the arrival of Puck's mother. May Puckerman was holding a cup of coffee and she looked exhausted. A small dark-haired figure seemed to be attached to her side, and after a second he realized that it was Puck's younger sister Sarah.
"Uh hey Mrs. Puckerman," he said awkwardly, not really knowing what to say. He looked to his fellow Glee-clubbers for help.
"Hi May," Rachel stepped in, making him sigh in relief until he realized that Rachel was on a first name basis with Puck's mother, "We heard that Noah was here and we all care very deeply for your son and we wanted to see if he is okay." There were several nods in agreement to her statement; Santana and Quinn being the only ones who had yet to appear at the hospital. May gave Rachel a warm smile that somehow looked a little forced and gestured to a row of seats in the sitting room.
"I'm sure that he'll be happy to see you all," Finn had to look away from her because her fake smile was making him feel… upset and he wasn't allowed to be upset, "He's not really allowed visitors for a while though… I have been to see him but I'm only allowed to stay there for a short time each hour and so…" she trailed off, unsure how to finish her sentence. Mr. Schu stepped in, acting the part of their teacher.
"We know that we can't see him but I think that just being here will help for the time being. And we can stay with your daughter whilst you visit Puck- I know that they don't allow children under 12 into the ICU," Finn was surprised at that rule. What if a kid under the age of 12 needed the equipment in ICU? Would they be allowed in then? Maybe they had a special ICU-like place for the little kids?
"Thank you. We don't really have anyone else, you know? Noah and Sarah are all I have and…" Finn stopped listening as May continued to unload on Mr. Schu. It wasn't as if he didn't want to help out Puck's mum, but he really had no idea what she was going on about and he certainly didn't know what to say back to her. The group kind of drifted towards the seats and seated themselves a few seats away from the two adults.
To Finn's surprise, Sarah detached herself from her mother and seated herself on Rachel's lap. The older girl gave the younger a sad smile before wrapping her arms around her in a hug. Sarah had always been a quiet and shy girl- Puck had taught her to not trust people, and as she idolized her brother, she was very wary of strangers. And yet here she was, sitting quite happily in Rachel's arms. There was definitely something more than a casual friendship going on between Rachel and Puck.
Everyone was pretty quiet- whether it was due to the environment or the situation, Finn wasn't sure. He didn't like the quiet, because now that they were just waiting, he had time to think. He wasn't really used to thinking and he didn't like to do it often, but at times like these he just couldn't help it.
At first he was thinking about the situation with Rachel. He wanted to know what the deal was with her and Puck, but he felt that it would be rude to ask her now. Not only could everyone hear every word that they said, but they were in a hospital and Puck's family was there and it just didn't seem right. It bothered him that both of his ex-girlfriends seemed to have something with Puck, but he was a nice guy generally and he didn't want to act like a douche. He had done that when he had slept with Santana, and that was what had led him to be Rachel-less now. It was not a mistake he was willing to repeat.
So as he couldn't ask Rachel and he wasn't really up to torturing himself with thinking about it, he let his thoughts drift. Avoiding thinking about Rachel and Puck was hard though, especially when she was sitting only a couple of seats away. He looked down at his hands to avoid staring at her, and as he did so his eye caught on the rope bracelet that was on his wrist. He didn't usually wear it, but something had made him put it on this morning. He hadn't really thought about it at the time, but now it seemed like… fate or something. He hadn't felt this close a connection to God or the fates or whatever since Grilled Cheesus and it was sort of freaking him out.
The bracelet had been a present from Puck, a long time ago. He had just randomly come up to him and thrust the bracelet into his hand, muttering something about Sarah and "teaching girly jewellery making" (there was nothing Puck wouldn't do for his little sister- something Finn privately thought was really sweet and the total opposite of badass). Finn had just stared at him until he had admitted that since he was teaching Sarah how to make friendship bracelets, he had decided to make him one. Finn had worn it every day for the following week, before losing it. He tended to find it every few weeks, wear it for a few days and then promptly lose it.
He had found it that morning, and as was habit, he had put it on without thinking. He tugged at it, wondering why he had bothered with it at all. Puck had done something really horrible to him. He had broken their pledge of 'Bros before hoes' at least once, whereas Finn had never done anything to him. Then again, Puck had supposedly stopped Rachel from going too far with her revenge for Santana. It didn't really make up for what he had done…although to be honest, Finn wasn't blind and now that it had been pointed out to him, he could clearly see that Puck had something with Quinn. In fact, he was pretty sure that if it hadn't been for the whole baby-thing, he would have forgiven his friend by now.
Then again, there was the baby thing. But now that he was here, waiting in a hospital to know whether Puck was going to live or not, the whole thing seemed a little… he didn't really know a good word to describe it, which made him miss Rachel even more. He guessed that he didn't care about it so much anymore. He knew that his friendship with Puck would never, ever be the same as it had been, but he didn't want it to be over. Puck knew more about him than anyone other than his mother (and probably Rachel) and he knew that that meant something.
It hit him then that Puck could die. Puck could die and they would never get to have the Halo marathon that Artie had roped them into. He might never get to pass the football to him during a match at school. They might never get to just hang at his place, or Puck's, with a couple of beers and play Mario. He might never see Puck alive ever again.
The thought was too scary to contemplate, because Puck had always been in his life, and even when he wasn't talking to him, it was a comfort to know he was still there, that he still existed. He didn't want him to not be there. The feelings he had been trying to avoid were starting to creep up on him with these thoughts.
This was why he avoided thinking. To distract himself, he looked around the room and saw that Quinn and Santana had finally arrived.
Quinn walked up to the group, looking a little awkward. Santana took a seat next to Brittany, giving a quick wave to Puck's mum (which Finn found kind of weird… why were all of the Glee girls on such good terms with Puck's mother?)
"Hey, we're just waiting for some news. We won't be able to see him for a few days I think, but we're helping out with watching Sarah," Rachel explained weakly under Quinn's questioning look. The small girl in Rachel's arms didn't look impressed at Quinn's arrival.
"Hey Sarah," Quinn said, wearing a fake smile. Finn knew that Quinn and Sarah had gotten along really well whilst the blonde had stayed at the Puckerman's, but the look Sarah was giving her didn't give that impression.
"I don't like you," the nine-year old declared, tightening her grip on Rachel, "You're a cold-hearted bitch." That last sounded practiced, as though she had heard her brother say it and she was trying to copy him. It was adorable, and even though he knew that Puck would have yelled at his sister for saying it (despite his usual behaviour, Puck tried to be a nice guy around Sarah, and raise her to be nice because he knew that Sarah deserved better), Finn couldn't help but laugh. Quinn was not as impressed. She turned and gave him what would have been an icy glare if her red-rimmed eyes hadn't spoilt the image of ice-queen.
"Sorry," he said as he slowly gained control of his laughter. Quinn shook her head and muttered something under her breath that didn't sound complimentary. He almost asked her to repeat what she had said, but decided against it when he took a better look at her face. She looked pissed, a look he remembered well from the last month and a half of their relationship. She was usually quite good at hiding her emotions, but when she was upset, she often got an angry look on her face- just like the one she wore now. And when she looked like she did at this moment it was best to just leave her alone and let her wrath explode on someone else.
"That wasn't very nice Sarah," Rachel told the young girl firmly, running her fingers through the girl's hair without really thinking about it. Sarah shrugged.
"She was mean to Noah first!" she exclaimed in a very childish manner, sticking her bottom lip out in an effort to get more sympathy. Finn had been there when Puck had taught her that move- the young girl had nodded, looking serious, when Puck had told her that people would feel sorry for her if she pouted and she would be more likely to get off the hook. Sarah had then used that very move on him about ten minutes later, when Puck had realized that she had eaten the last three cookies their mother had baked. It was probably the most dishonest thing that Puck had ever taught his sister. Rachel seemed at a loss at how to deal with it, so Finn decided he'd better step in.
"I thought you weren't allowed to use the b-word," Finn teased, knowing that Sarah would fall for the bait, "I bet your brother won't be too happy with you if he finds out you said it. I reckon it's going to cost you your ice-cream privileges." Sarah gasped and her eyes widened in horror as she realized her mistake. It was times like these that Finn wished he had a younger sibling (Kurt didn't really count as they were pretty much the same age). Younger siblings were so much fun to torture.
"Please don't tell him! I'll be nice, I promise!" she pleaded, sticking out her lower lip even further, making her look quite ridiculous. He saw Rachel hide a smile behind the hand that wasn't stroking Sarah's hair, and Tina, Mike and Artie, who had been pretty quiet since they had arrived, looked on the verge of laughing. Finn pretended to consider the matter for a few more seconds, causing Sarah to add watering eyes to her routine.
"Okay, I won't," he eventually told her, pretending to cave, "But you have to apologise to Quinn and do whatever your mother tells you for a week." Sarah had initially punched the air at her 'victory,' but she looked a lot less happy when he finished with his conditions.
"Fine," the girl turned back to Quinn, who still hadn't taken a seat, "I'm sorry you are not a nice person now and for calling you a bad name and I won't do it again." It wasn't the sincerest apology he had ever heard, but he knew that she wasn't going to give a better one, so he accepted it. Quinn looked like she was going to say something, but then closed her mouth and bit her lip. She looked at the empty seat next to Rachel, then the one next to Sam (who was talking quietly with Mercedes and didn't seem to have noticed her arrival). After a moment's hesitation, she took the seat next to Rachel.
It didn't really surprised Finn that she wasn't sitting with Sam. He knew that he had no idea about what Rachel had with Puck, but it was clear that something real existed between his cheerleading ex-girlfriend and his best friend. He liked Sam- would go as far as to say he was one of his best friends- but he just couldn't see his relationship with Quinn working out. Sam was too... (The first word to jump to his mind was blonde, but that wasn't the main problem) he was just too nice. Quinn didn't need nice.
All of this thinking was turning into too much. As Kurt arrived (with Blaine- that pair was even more obvious than Puck and Quinn) Finn decided that he needed to take a break from thinking. Sarah started chatting about what ice cream she was going to make Puck buy for her when they got to leave the hospital (he had a feeling Sarah hadn't grasped the seriousness of the situation but he let it go- he didn't want to explain it to her). He let himself be drawn into the conversation on which flavour was the best and left the thinking for another time.
Puck was pretty sure that he was awake, but then again, he was also pretty sure that he was flying, so he wasn't sure if he could really be trusted on that issue. He frowned at that. If he was sure of something, was it possible to be not sure of it at the same time? He couldn't really move and his eyes were refusing to open fully, but wherever he was, it was pretty dark. There was a relatively steady beeping sound, and a strange hissing noise that also came pretty regularly. He paused to listen, trying to see if he recognised the beat, but it didn't sound like any song he recognised.
"Noah, are you awake?" his mother's soft voice interrupted the song that he was sort of making from the various noises. He felt her squeeze his hand gently.
He tried to answer verbally, but he had no energy and he was pretty sure that something was blocking his mouth anyway. He settled for trying to squeeze her hand back, but he was still feeling floaty, so he wasn't sure if it worked.
"Thank God," his mother whispered after a moment and he thought that she sounded as though she was crying, but he wasn't sure. He wasn't sure exactly what was going on, and that started to freak him out a bit. The beeping sound increased its pace a little, but he didn't understand why, "Are you feeling okay? Wait, you can't answer that. You're going to be okay, okay? They said... well, I don't really understand most of what they said, but they told me that if you woke up then that was a good thing and you're awake so that's good."
There were a lot of things in what his mother said that sounded concerning, but the words flew out of his head milliseconds after he heard them. He felt his eyes close and everything just faded away.
The next time he woke, everything was different. For one thing, the floating feeling was gone- a mere memory. Instead, there was pain. Most of the pain was centred on his chest, but his left arm was more than happy to contribute to his misery. The beeping was much faster now, but the hissing continued to stay at the same pace. His panicked as he realised that he couldn't breathe properly- the air was going in and out of his lungs, but it was out of sync with how he was trying to breathe.
The room he was in was brighter too- sunshine streamed in through a window somewhere, whereas before it had been the dark of night. His eyes were able to open fully, and as they seemed to be the only part of him willing to move, they darted wildly around the room, trying to figure out what was going on. The panic only got worse as he recognised nothing about his surroundings.
He was surrounded by wires; they were pretty much everywhere. He could see the edges of what he assumed were machines, but as he couldn't turn his head, he couldn't see what they actually were. The pain was steadily getting worse, and it was exacerbated by the fact that he couldn't control his own breathing. He became aware of something in his throat and the beeping noise went nuts.
"Noah?" his mother sounded as though she had just woken up. He couldn't feel her hand anymore, but the pain was all he could feel now and the beeping was filling his senses, "Noah, what's wrong?" He wished he could answer. Another voice yelled something, but he recognised neither the words nor the voice. The pain was still gaining ground and the need to breathe properly increased. Black spots danced across his vision and he was sure he was going to pass out... and then something cold danced up his arm and everything seemed to slow down again. The pain suddenly didn't seem so bad and the beeping steadied back to the slower pace he had first heard.
"What happened? I thought you said..." he heard his mother ask as he drifted off to sleep, too tired to care about the answer. He'd ask his mother about it later.
Artie sat at his dinner table at home with his parents and siblings and picked at the food that was on his plate. His family was engaged in a heated argument over what they were going to watch on TV after dinner- his mother and sister wanted to watch some hospital drama whilst his father and brother were going on about some sports game they needed to watch. Artie would normally join in on the discussion, but today he just didn't care.
"Are you alright Artie?" his father enquired about five minutes into the argument, "You've been really quiet tonight." He stopped playing with his corn and shrugged.
"I'm just worried about Puck," he replied honestly. As soon as he had figured out what Santana was saying back in the choir room, he had known that the coming months were going to be tough. Although they hadn't been told much so far about Puck's condition, he had a bad feeling that the prognosis wasn't going to be good. And that worried him. Puck was becoming one of his closest friends (which he still found funny considering Puck had locked him in a Port-a-Potty at least fifty times the year before).
"Your friend who had the car accident?" his mother enquired, only having heard a few brief details from his dad, "Is he going to be okay?" His siblings had fallen silent, listening intently to the conversation. Puck had been over to his house quite regularly since he had started helping him with his community service, and Artie had watched in awe as the badass of McKinley High completely won over his younger siblings. They were always asking him now when Puck was coming over so they could get all of their games ready.
"I don't know," he started playing with his corn again, unable to look at anyone, "He's still in the ICU on a respirator and he hasn't really been very aware of his surroundings. His mum is calling Mr. Schu and then he's texting us what's going on, but I'm pretty sure that they're holding a few things back for now." He was sure that the adults knew a lot more than they were telling the Glee club and that scared him quite a bit. If they were holding things back, it was because the news was bad.
"From what I hear he is lucky to be alive," his father offered after a few seconds pause. His father worked for the council and was privy to a lot of information about what happened in the town that the majority of people never got to see. Artie wasn't sure he wanted to know, but he asked anyway.
"What do you mean?" his father exchanged a look with his mother, but he couldn't decipher what it meant.
"According to witnesses, your friend was driving through the intersection when another car ran the red light and slammed into his truck, on the driver's side. The other car was going at quite a high speed, but somehow the other driver managed to flee the scene before the police and ambulance got there. Two witnesses helped your friend- one called the ambulance whilst the other managed to climb carefully into the truck. The one who climbed into the truck kept him awake until the ambulance got there and was able to administer a bit of emergency first aid. The paramedics said that Puck was lucky to survive the trip to the hospital, but that his stats were slowly getting better once they arrived. I personally believe that that means he will survive this and I think that you all will come out stronger people from this experience. I'm not saying that I'm glad that it happened, because I think that that kid had gone through enough already, but now that it's happened... well, I have a strong belief that it will be okay."
Artie listened to his father's version of what happened and could almost picture the scene in his head. Puck's truck had looked on the verge of falling apart before the accident, and to imagine it being on the receiving end of a blow from a speeding car... it made him feel sick. He barely remembered the accident that had caused his 'condition'- the doctors had told him he'd probably never remember the whole accident due to the trouble the brain has making memories when under extreme stress- but it sounded a lot similar to the one his father just described. As soon as he had that thought, the bad feeling in the pit of his stomach grew.
As his family steered their conversation back towards a happier topic, Artie went back to playing with his corn. He hoped and prayed that he was wrong.
When Puck next woke up, he found himself staring at the ceiling. The room was bright with sunlight, and the ceiling was a dazzling white. There was a mechanical hissing sound and a regular beeping that caused a vague memory to stir in his head, but it was gone before he could grasp it.
"Noah?" his mother called softly as a hand gently squeezed his, "Just stay still; I'll go get the nurse." He wanted to ask her what she was talking about, but it felt as though he had a jawbreaker in his mouth. He realised that whatever was in his mouth was also down his throat and panic seized him as he realised he was choking. He tried to move his hands to grab whatever it was out of his mouth, but only his right hand cooperated. His left hand flopped but didn't move much from where it had laid on the bed beside him. He didn't pay too much attention to it though- he had to get whatever was in his mouth out NOW.
He couldn't see his mouth, but when he looked straight down his nose he could see a vague outline was a big grey lump. He assumed that this was what was in his mouth. He felt along with his right hand. Whatever it was felt like one of those plastic tubes that people used when they went snorkelling. The tube seemed to leave his mouth and go away somewhere to his right. It didn't matter- he didn't care. He tried to wrap his fingers around the tube, but they weren't cooperating as well as he thought they should. They kept on slipping and they weren't gripping the tube as tightly as he wanted.
By this stage his lungs were starting to burn as his breathing increased in speed with his panic. He needed to get this thing out of him. Ignoring the fact that he didn't have a good grip, he pulled down, hoping that would get the tube out of him. Instead of the tube moving however, his hand just slid harmlessly down the outside of it. He was about to try again when a cool pair of hands suddenly grabbed his.
"Noah, you need to calm down and leave the breathing tube where it is. It's okay, you're not going to choke. That tube is helping you to breathe and if you rip it out carelessly, it can do some damage to your lungs and throat. Just take deep, slow breaths. You're okay," a female voice told him calmly, repeating that he was okay and that he just needed to breathe slowly until he managed to get his breathing under control. He couldn't see her face, which bothered him. He wanted to know what the hell was going on, but he couldn't speak due to the breathing tube.
"When are you going to be able to take that out?" he heard his mother ask from somewhere to his left. The cool hands left his once their owner seemed sure he wasn't going to touch the tube again. He wasn't so sure that he wouldn't- his breathing was getting faster again.
"We should be able to take it out now. His breathing has been getting better and it's only been on assist mode for the past ten hours or so. It seems to be distressing him, so the sooner we take him off it, the better I think. I'll just go grab some things to help," he heard the sound of soft footsteps leaving and was tempted to try and get the thing out of him again, but didn't want a repeat of last time.
"It's okay honey, they're going to take it out soon. Just keep breathing deep breaths and it'll all be over before you know it," his mother encouraged. By the time the doctor or nurse or whoever came back and raised his bed so that he could actually see the room around him, he was almost ready to rip the tube out, no matter what they said. After a long list of instructions and "you're okays", they finally got around to taking the tube out.
It hurt. A lot. It felt as though someone was dragging a hot poker up the back of his throat and then yanking it out of his mouth. He had to cough every time they pulled a little bit out, and by the time they had it all out, he couldn't stop coughing, which was really hurting his chest. Someone pushed something cold against his mouth- ice chips- and he managed to swallow a little bit of it down, which instantly soothed his throat.
The whole process felt like it had taken an hour or so, but it couldn't have taken that long. Once they were finally done, they muttered something about an MRI and CT and some other medical terms before leaving him to have some rest.
"How are you feeling?" his mother asked him as she perched on the edge of the chair beside his bed. He frowned as he looked at her. Her hair was a mess- all oily and stuck to her head. There were massive bags under her eyes and it looked as though she wasn't wearing any make-up, which was odd because she never went anywhere without it. There was a slump to her shoulders that he had never seen before, and she looked as though she had aged ten years. He felt really bad all of a sudden- he didn't know what had happened, but he did know that it was his fault she looked so much older.
"Okay," he whispered, unable to find the energy to try a louder volume, "What happened?" His throat burned a little, but the doctor- or nurse, he wasn't sure- had told him that it was okay for him to talk as long as he didn't overdo it.
"I'm sorry," she burst into tears. He was confused. Why the hell was she apologising? If anything, he should be the one apologising for making her worry so much. He wouldn't apologise though because he didn't know what had happened and he wasn't exactly the type to apologise anyway.
"What?" she sniffed and searched through her bag (that he totally hadn't noticed she was carrying despite it being right in front of him). After a few seconds rustling around, she pulled out a packet of tissues.
"Sorry," she said as she dabbed at her eyes, "It's my fault that you're hurt. We ran out of milk and salami and Sarah needed to pack her own lunch for school and so I told you to go to the shop, remember? And then the next thing I know I get a phone call from the hospital telling me that you've been in an accident and you're hurt. I should have just told Sarah to have peanut butter and used the soy milk we have in the pantry." He had absolutely no idea what she was talking about. The last thing he remembered, he was in Glee rehearsal listening to Rachel belt out some tragic love ballad that she was clearly aiming at Finn. Why he could remember Rachel's song and not anything of what his mother was telling him, he didn't know.
"It can't be your fault that I crashed," he said after he was able to link together what she was saying. It had taken a while- his head felt a bit funny. It didn't hurt, but it was almost like he was floating a little bit. He supposed that it should have freaked him out a little, but instead he just rolled with it.
"No, some idiot ran a red light," her voice turned hard for a moment before softening again, "But really, how do you feel? Does anything hurt?" She sounded anxious. He thought about it for a moment before replying.
"Nothing really hurts," he said after testing his limbs, "I just feel really floaty and my left arm doesn't really move much." He left off the fact that he couldn't really feel his feet- he thought that he probably could, but that whatever was giving him this floaty feeling was also making him a bit numb. He was certain that he was on the good painkillers, because really, he knew he should be hurting. His left leg was in what appeared to be a medieval torture device- he guessed that would hurt once the painkillers stopped- and his left shoulder was wrapped in a massive bandage that was keeping it firmly in one place. Those things alone hinted at pain. The right side of his body had barely any bandaging.
His mother sagged visibly in relief, but there was something off about her. He didn't really know what it was, and after a few moments he couldn't really make himself have the energy to care.
"That's probably the painkillers. Don't worry about it; everything is going to be fine," he nodded and pretended that he was fine, but the truth was that even she didn't sound convinced, and that scared the hell out of him. He was feeling tired again, and even though he knew it had barely been half an hour since he had woken up, he found himself drifting off to sleep, his mother's hand gently squeezing his.
Quinn slammed the door of her locker shut, causing a nearby Cheerio to jump and scurry away. It had been two days since she had been told that Puck was in hospital and she hadn't been able to see him at all. He had remained in the ICU for the majority of the two days. The Glee club hadn't been able to stay at the hospital for long. Mr. Schuster had made sure that they had received a couple of updates about Puck's condition, before he had sent them back to school. He had been firm when he had told them that they needed to go to their classes and that if anything happened to Puck, he would make sure that they all knew. He had kept his promise too- apparently Mrs. Puckerman was calling him every so often with updates, and he was texting the details of these updates to everyone in Glee. They were pretty lucky to have him as a teacher.
The updates didn't really say much. Apparently Puck had spent the majority of the time sleeping, which they were assured was a good thing. The doctors were waiting until he woke up to perform a couple of tests about something- Quinn was sure that Mrs. Puckerman had more details than she was sharing about these tests- but what they had been told was that he had a couple of broken ribs and a broken shoulder. His left leg had also been shattered. Overall it sounded rather painful and she was almost thankful that he was sleeping during a lot of it.
He had woken up a few times though, according to the updates. He had had some sort of panic attack the first time he had seemed to be aware of his surroundings, which had scared the hell out of his mother, but May had reported that everything was going along as well as could be hoped. Quinn just wanted to see that for herself.
"Hey, what's up? I think that Cheerio may have peed herself when you slammed that door," Sam joked as he met her at her locker, backpack slung over one shoulder.
"What? Oh, if she gets jumpy over a locker door she'll never be able to deal with Ms. Sylvester. She needs to toughen up," she wasn't really in the mood to hang out with him today, but she knew that she had to. There was no point going to the hospital because she wasn't going to be allowed to visit Puck- he was getting better, but still in the ICU and Mrs. Puckerman had said something about taking a tube out this afternoon- and so she really didn't have a reason to not hang out with Sam.
"You do have a point," he conceded, oblivious to her mood (as usual). He reached down and grabbed the hand that wore his ring. He had a habit of doing that. He would hold her hand and play with the ring and sometimes she thought that he was reassuring himself that she was his. Although she knew that she shouldn't like that he was kind of treating her like a possession, it was actually one of the things that she liked. It was reassuring to know that he wanted her, even if it was all for the wrong reasons.
"Of course I have a point," she arched an eyebrow, "I always have a point." He laughed and unlocked his car. She hadn't realised that they had made it to the parking lot- they must have been walking faster than she thought. He had given her a lift to school that morning, knowing that they would probably be hanging out together after school.
"Yeah," he agreed easily, instead of arguing, "You want to go to Subway?" She shrugged and tossed her backpack and books into the backseat.
"I'm not really hungry, but I can get a shake or something."
"There's a boost next door so you can get some juice," Sam was obsessed with eating healthy and he had an annoying habit of making sure that she didn't eat junk either. The before-Glee Quinn would have loved someone helping her keep her diet, but being pregnant had really changed her perspective on food and she really thought that a chocolate milkshake (with skinny milk of course) would be perfect right now. Still, she was head cheerleader again, and she really did need to watch what she was eating, so she didn't argue.
They spent the drive talking about the chances of Sam winning back the quarterback position from Finn. She honestly didn't care- Sam was still really popular and was referred to as being back-up quarterback in a respectful manner- and so it didn't really affect her. Sam was really eager to get back into the game though and had a few theories about how he could get the spot back.
"All I have to do is wait till they lose and then bam! I'll be back in," he assured her. He was finishing off a very healthy sandwich whilst she played with the straw to her strawberry smoothie.
"But we don't want the team to lose," she reminded him, "The Cheerios are actually cheering for a winning team. It's much better than I thought it would be." He nodded, chewing and looking thoughtful.
"Well, we're probably going to lose the next match anyway. Puck's going to be missing and we don't really have a good replacement for his position. And with his injuries, he's going to miss the rest of the season for sure. A shattered leg bone takes months to heal," Quinn dropped her straw as she realised what he was saying. Puck wasn't just going to get better overnight. It was going to be a long time before he was back to his usual self.
"What about Regionals? We can't compete without him," she wasn't really thinking about Glee, more about herself, but she was so used to protecting her inner feelings that she was able to deflect the conversation to other topics. Sam looked stumped for a second, before brightening.
"Well, he can always do it in a wheel chair. Artie can help him with the moves," he suggested, surprising her in his ability to think of a solution that wasn't just 'replace Puck with someone else'. She didn't usually regard him as being overly intelligent (she still remembered watching Mr. Schuster teach him how to tie his shoelaces) but she guessed he was a bit like Brittany in a way- smart in unconventional ways.
"Is he going to be okay enough to do that though? Regionals are in two months," she pointed out. Her smoothie was slowly turning to mush, but she didn't want to finish it. She took of the lid and started poking holes in the thick strawberry sludge, making patterns unconsciously.
"I dunno," was Sam's unhelpful answer, "But if anyone can do it, I reckon it'd be Puck. He has an extremely high tolerance for pain- I've seen him push through the pain before to finish a football game, so I'm sure that he will do his best to be able to go to Regionals." She felt a little better, but also disappointed. She didn't know what she expected of Sam, but obviously he had missed the mark. She didn't know what to reply to that and so she was glad when her cell rang. She picked it up with an apologetic smile at Sam, not looking at the number on the screen.
"Quinn? This is May Puckerman, Noah's mother. I was wondering if... well... I know that you and my son are not exactly on the best of terms at the moment, but I know that he cares about you and... well..." she trailed off and Quinn was finally able to get over the initial shock of hearing Puck's mother on the other end of the line. May Puckerman had never really gotten over the fact that Quinn was very strongly Christian. She had been very welcoming when Quinn had stayed with them, but there had always been a distance between them that she had attributed to their different faiths. But now May sounded nervous and upset and Quinn knew that whatever distance had been there before, was now insignificant.
"Are you alright?" she asked hesitantly, knowing that May had been practically living at the hospital, praying for her son's recovery, and she could hear the exhaustion in the older woman's voice. It didn't even occur to her to ask how she had gotten her number.
"Oh yes, I'm alright. I just... Noah has been awake all afternoon and they took him off the respirator and he's been having some extra scans to check on his progress. They want to tell Noah about the results of the tests but... I think it might be better for him if he had someone there whilst they do so," May paused, seemingly waiting for a reply. Quinn wasn't sure what she was waiting for.
"Okay, I'm sure he'll appreciate that," Sam was staring at her and when he noticed her looking at him, he mouthed 'who is it?' She shook her head, trying to concentrate on the conversation at hand.
"Yes well... I'm going to be there, of course, but I don't think that's going to be enough. I don't want to bring Sarah in here whilst they are telling him because she doesn't really understand what is going on and he's not going to want to upset her any further and the results aren't good and I want him to be able to react properly to them," Quinn had a feeling she knew what was coming. Her heart sunk when May said the test results weren't that good, but she had no idea what that could possibly mean. Sure he had broken a lot of bones in the accident, and there had been some mention of internal bleeding, but all of that was getting better, right? It may take a few months, but he was going to be back to normal. He had to be.
"Yeah I understand that," she said in a pause, hoping on the one hand that May was going to ask her to help, whilst at the same time hoping she didn't because she didn't know how she was going to handle it.
"I think that it will help Noah if you could be here when we tell him," May said in a rush. Quinn found herself nodding before she realised that May couldn't see her. She didn't know if this was a particularly good idea- her and Puck not being the same as they had been before Beth had been born- but she couldn't resist the urge to see him, to see for herself that he was still breathing.
"When?" she asked as she gathered her things together. Sam took a cue from her and grabbed all of their rubbish and heading to the bin. She wished that she had driven herself today so she wouldn't have to waste time going home to get her car first (because she definitely wasn't going to get Sam to wait around at the hospital just to give her a lift home- she had no idea how long she was going to be).
"Well, the doctor has been called to another patient so I am guessing it won't be for another half hour or so, but if you could get here before then so I can brief you that would probably be best."
"I'll be there in... twenty minutes or so?" she asked as she glanced quickly at her watch, hurrying Sam outside as she said so. He looked really confused, but didn't question her.
"Well, you know where I'll be, so whenever you get here is fine," they exchanged a few more words before she ended the call. They were already heading back to her house- she was glad that Sam had picked that up.
"Who was that?" he asked as he made a right turn, giving her a quick glance as soon as he had the car on track. She sighed, unsure exactly how to word her answer. As soon as she had hung up the phone, the doubts and worries about the situation and Puck started to get to her. She was about to help his mother break some kind of bad news to him. She worried about what news could be worse than the things she had already heard about. She also worried that whatever it was Puck wouldn't want her to know. Things hadn't been perfect between them since they had broken up and he might not want her to know any of his secrets, and whatever this was could very well be one of those things.
At the same time however, she knew that if she had been in a car accident and her mother had to give her bad news... she would want Puck to be there. She didn't know why exactly, but she felt that just having him there and supporting her would be enough to help. When she had been giving birth it had been comforting to know that, despite the fact he wasn't suffering as much as she had been, he was there for her and their daughter. She hoped that she would have that effect on him.
"Puck's mum," she told Sam honestly as she remembered his question, "She needs my help with something."
"Oh..." she frowned at his tone- was he getting suspicious of her true feelings? - But he just looked genuinely concerned, "Is Puck okay? If you see him, can you say hi for me and that I hope he is on the good stuff and feels better soon?"
"Sure," she agreed, knowing that she had been going to give him a message like that from Glee anyway, "And as for if he's okay... well, I don't really know. I'll let everyone know how he is as soon as I can though." They turned onto her street and she was practically bouncing with impatience. She knew that it wouldn't really make a difference how long it took her to get to the hospital, but she needed to know what was going on. And she needed to see Puck. Two days had never felt so long before.
"Cool. I'll see you tomorrow at school. Have a good night," she wanted to just jump straight out of the car as soon as it stopped, but she forced herself to calm down a little and pecked her boyfriend on the cheek.
"Thank you. I'll see you tomorrow," she almost forgot to grab her school things from the back of his car. She didn't bother to go inside, knowing that her mother wasn't home anyway. She just threw all of her things onto her passenger seat, and hopped into the driver's seat. She always took her car keys out with her and today she was glad she had gotten into that habit.
She made record time to the hospital, despite the fact that she was making sure to drive carefully. She didn't want to get into an accident and be the second member of Glee to be in hospital. Before she went inside she sent up a prayer that the news she was about to hear and give to Puck wasn't too bad and that it would be something they could get through.
May was waiting for her in the waiting room (which felt a little ironic for no particular reason). She was holding a cup of coffee as though it was a lifeline. She looked as though she hadn't slept for days- which was probably true. There was no sign of Sarah, so Quinn assumed that the young girl was staying with a friend.
"Thank you for coming," May greeted her warmly, if a bit tiredly. Quinn definitely felt a bit awkward now that she was talking to her in person, "I know that this is probably a strange request and I know that you and Noah aren't together anymore and so it's going to be a bit weird for you, but I know my son and I just think that having you here would make it easier for him to hear this." She was talking really fast and it was obvious that she was as nervous as Quinn was. The slump in her shoulders told Quinn a lot about how much May cared for her son- whatever this news was, it wasn't good.
"It's okay, I understand," she reassured the older woman, taking a seat next to her. She had a feeling she was going to want to be sitting when she heard this news, "So what's going on?" Her voice caught on the last word, showing her concern. She hoped against hope that whatever it was, she would be able to help Puck with it. Even though they weren't dating, they were friends and she was going to prove that she would always be there to help him. May took a deep breath.
"Well, they weren't really sure until this afternoon, after he woke properly and they were able to monitor his movements but... on the initial scans of his spine they saw..." May had to stop to take another deep breath, and Quinn also felt the need to take in extra air. She thought that she knew what May was going to say before she said it, and it wasn't good, "They saw something in the scan that indicated a spinal injury- some fractures or something. They said something about a T11 or T12 spinal injury and nerves and a whole bunch of other medical terms and at first I couldn't understand what they meant- I guess being the mother of the patient is a lot different to being the nurse- but then one of the other nurses explained it to me. Basically, Noah is paralysed- they believe that he cannot feel anything below around here on his lower back." May demonstrated a spot on her lower back, just above her hips. Quinn stared at the spot May was pointing at, unable to process what she had heard. She closed her eyes after a few seconds, unwilling to believe it.
Puck was such a physical person it was hard to imagine him unable to walk. He relied so much on his intimidating physical presence and if that was taken away from him... she shuddered as she realised how much this was going to hurt him.
"Quinn?" May questioned after a few minutes silence, knowing that it must be hard for the young girl to hear what she was saying. Quinn opened her eyes and bit her lip before giving a little nod, steeling herself for what was to come.
"I'm okay," she said quietly, wishing the words were true, "When... I mean, when can we go see him?"
"The doctor will probably be a little bit longer, but we can go see him now if you like," May gave her hand a gentle squeeze before standing with her coffee, ready to lead the way. Quinn followed her with her hand wrapped around the golden cross that hung from her neck, hoping she could handle whatever happened in the next half hour or so.
Puck was bored, or at least that was what he kept telling himself as he lay, pretty much unable to move, on a hospital bed. His logic was that if he was bored, then that meant that he had nothing to do or think about. If he had things to think about, then he couldn't be bored, because he would be thinking about things. And since he did not want to think about certain things- such as why he couldn't really feel his legs- he was trying to convince himself that he was bored so he wouldn't think about it.
It wasn't working well. Earlier, when they had taken out his breathing tube, he had had so much to focus on and he had been so tired and his mother had been there to distract him that he hadn't really thought too hard about what had happened to him. But then he had been taken for an MRI and a CT scan and some other tests and he had no idea what they were all for and that got him thinking about what had happened. His mother had stayed for a while, but she had excused herself half an hour ago- something about needing to check on Sarah- and since then he had been left alone with his thoughts.
He didn't like it. The torture-like device was kind of cool and looked pretty badass, but he was a bit worried about what its presence meant for his leg. They had had to do a bit of manoeuvring to do the scans they wanted with his leg being kept still, and the fact that they had been able to do all of that without him feeling any pain (or anything at all) from his leg was more than a little worrying. They had moved his shoulder too, and despite the fact that he was on painkillers, the movement had caused his vision to go white as pain enveloped him for those few seconds. If his shoulder could hurt whilst he was on meds, why wouldn't his leg?
He remembered asking Artie once why he was in a wheelchair. Artie had told him that it had been a car accident. He had now just been in a car accident... and so logic said that he could be like Artie now. He could be paralysed. He shook the thought out of his head as soon as he registered it. He couldn't be paralysed. He was on the football team. He was the school bully- everyone was intimidated by him because he was so strong, muscular and didn't care about the consequences of his actions. Well, it was like that until juvie, but even when they knew he couldn't fight back, he had been left alone because he was on the football team and he was just so badass.
What would happen to him if he ended up in a wheelchair? Would he be locked in a Port-a-Potty every day like he had used to do to Artie? Would they smash their lunch trays in his face 'accidentally'? Would they push him down the stairs in his chair to get back at him for all of the physical and emotional pain he had caused them over the years? He had to admit, now that he had joined Glee and become sort-of friends with some of the people he had tormented, he did kind of deserve something bad to happen to him. He didn't deserve this though- right?
He realised that as the minutes passed, he was becoming more and more certain that he was paralysed. He wasn't overly surprised at that- shit things always happened to him. First he had had to live with his father, and then when his father left he had to help his mother with his sister and he had to deal with the whole town talking about how pathetic his family was. Then, when he was a bit older, he had to deal with teachers telling him he was worthless and getting beaten up by older kids because he always stood up for his friends. And then he had become a bully because he was so angry all of the time and he didn't know how else to deal with it. And then his best friend had started dating the girl he had a crush on but had never done anything about because she was too good for him. Then he had managed to get the girl pregnant, because he was good at ruining lives like that. And then they had to give up Beth and Finn hadn't really fully forgiven him and then he had gotten drunk and done something stupid and he had ended up in juvie and Quinn had started dating Sam and now... now he was probably paralysed and he just didn't know how he was going to deal with it.
He was staring at the 'torture-device' on his leg without really seeing it, caught in the whirlwind of his thoughts, when he heard a loud gasp. He dragged his eyes up to the door of his room and saw his mother, standing with the last person in the world he expected to see: Quinn. He was so shocked to see her that all thoughts fled from his mind and he found himself just staring at her. She was looking a bit pale and he realised that it had been her gasp that had caught his attention. She was staring at the 'torture device' with a horrified expression.
"Pretty cool, isn't it?" he forced himself to say; aware that if he didn't say something then she would realise he was staring at her. He knew that she knew that he wanted her; that Jewfro kid had even picked up on that, and he didn't really want to keep on reminding her of it. He had been acting pathetic enough about her as it was- he was seriously damaging his reputation by being so hung up on her.
"Noah..." his mother said warningly, raising an eyebrow and shaking her head, a sign that she wasn't impressed, "Quinn came all this way to see how you were doing. Be nice." He sighed loudly and rolled his eyes, causing Quinn to move her gaze from his leg to his head. Rolling his eyes hadn't been the best idea- it made him feel really dizzy- but it was worth it to see her eyes properly.
"Everyone in Glee has been coming in to check on you," she offered, as if to make sure he understood that she was still with Sam and that she was just checking on him out of obligation, "Mr. Schu has been texting us all the updates he's gotten from your mum. You better watch out though- I'm pretty sure Rachel said she was preparing a solo she wants to sing to you." She made a face to show what she thought of that. He laughed.
"Maybe I'll tell her that my hearing was damaged in the accident," he suggested, "I don't think I'd survive sitting through her singing some long ballad about how much she loves Finn, but hopes I'll get better." Quinn smirked and perched on the end of his bed, on his right hand side, whilst his mother took a seat in the chair. There was something fake about the way they were sitting- almost as though they were waiting for something, but didn't want him to know.
"No way- if I have to sit through it, you do too. The worst part of it is that Finn won't even realise that she's singing for him and then he'll continue to flirt with Santana and she will continue to gloat and then both Glee and Cheerios will be ruined," he hadn't thought that far ahead, but with Rachel making out with him to make Finn jealous, Quinn was right- the Finchel-Santana mess would blow right up if Rachel did sing. He groaned as he realised that he had played a role in this mess- yet another time his brain had decided to go on strike.
"I didn't think of that," he admitted, "How the hell are we going to stop her from singing? She's like a friggin' jack-in-the-box- you think she's going to stay in the box and then bam! She jumps out and sings a frickin' love ballad." Quinn smiled, but again something was off. They made some small talk about Rachel's singing, seeing how many jokes they could make at the brunette's expense. She still smiled, but he felt his own smile grow faker and faker to match hers as their conversation went on. Then her eyes fell on his leg again, and her smile slipped away. She seemed to forcibly jerk her eyes away from it, and she looked around the room. Puck felt the mood in the room change, becoming gloomier.
"How are you feeling?" the blonde asked, being careful to keep her eyes aimed away from him. He shrugged and looked away from her, unable to lie straight to her face. They were finally talking about something that wasn't meaningless and he couldn't let her read the truth from his eyes.
"I think they have me on some fucking good stuff, 'cause nothing really hurts at the moment and I feel a bit floaty," it was mostly true, but his shoulder and chest were starting to ache, and he was really tired. There was still no pain from his leg, and that scared him more than anything, so he ignored that too. She nodded absently, as though she had expected that answer.
"Do you remember what happened?" she asked. His mother gripped his hand harder, an unconscious gesture, and he knew that she was blaming herself again.
"No but the doctor said that I probably won't ever remember what happened. I might get flashes, but I probably will never get the exact story. I think that's probably a good thing for the dumbass that smashed into me," he turned to his mother- well, as much as the contraptions surrounding him would allow him to turn, "And it's still not your fault Ma. It's not your fault we needed milk." His mother was about to respond when one of the doctors who had been helping him earlier entered the room.
"Sorry I'm back so late," she said as she checked something in his chart, "One of my other patients needed my help and it took longer than I thought. Now, how are you feeling? Remember that you can press this little button here if you need more pain meds." She indicated to a small button that was sitting next to his right hand. She had told him about it before, but he had totally forgotten about it. Everything was really starting to ache now, but he didn't want to worry Quinn and his mother by rushing to grab the pain meds.
"Oh... I'd forgotten about that," he said as he desperately tried to think of a way he could sneak the button into his hand. His doctor sighed and pushed it into his hand.
"It's been a few hours since you've last had any meds and I'm sure that you must be hurting. You have a lot of broken bones and it's only natural that you're going to be in a lot of pain. That is why you have this; your body is under a lot of stress right now and it won't help the healing process if you are in pain. The machine is set so that you can't take too much of it, and over time we're going to reduce the amount of meds you can take so that addiction is not so much of a problem," he remembered this speech now, and he figured that the doctor was just repeating the explanation for his mother, who had been absent when they had had this talk before.
"Is it normal for him to forget things so easily?" his mother asked, looking overly worried. The doctor wrote something in his chart before hanging it back on the edge of his bed.
"It is very normal for people who have been in accidents like this to lose pieces of their memory, both of the accident and during recovery. It probably didn't help that he was pretty much asleep when I told him about it- the pain meds are strong and they can cause severe drowsiness," his mother relaxed, and Puck noticed that Quinn's shoulders dropped a little in relief too. It was nice to know that she was worried about him, even if she said that she wasn't.
"I remember you telling me now- I just forgot about it before," he assured them, feeling the pain start to fade away again as the painkillers kicked in. As if the doctor's words were law, he also started to feel sleepy.
"Okay, so my colleagues and I have taken a look at your scans and we've been monitoring your reactions to stimuli since you woke up coherent," the doctor suddenly got serious, and Puck wished that he knew her name. She was pretty hot- blonde hair and the bluest eyes he had seen- but Quinn was in the room, so she didn't rate quite as highly on his scale as she possibly could have. He tried to distract himself from what she was saying by concentrating on the things that made her hot (mainly her boobs) without being obvious, but he couldn't stop himself from hearing what she was saying, "There is some serious damage to the T11 area in your spine. Your spine fractured and this caused some significant damage to your spinal cord. We were hoping that it was just swelling and that it would go down after a few days, but the scans reveal that the damage is more extensive than that. As far as we can tell, it is very possible that you will be paralysed for the rest of your life."
She stopped, as though expecting a reaction. Puck couldn't give her one. He was tired and she was just telling him something he had figured out for himself. Yes, he had been hoping that he was wrong, but he had expected not to be. He could feel eyes on him, trying to pierce his skin and look at how he was feeling inside. He looked up and unintentionally found himself staring straight into Quinn's eyes. They were watering and he could see sympathy and sadness and a whole host of other emotions in them that he couldn't name.
"Puck?" she said softly, and he instantly knew that she wanted him to say something, anything, to let her know how he felt about this, because she couldn't read it in his eyes. He knew she couldn't, because he still felt a bit empty, like it wasn't really happening and it was just a side-effect of the drug.
"I uh... I kind of figured," he admitted as he tore his eyes away from Quinn's, "What... I mean, how long do I have to stay here for?" His voice sounded funny, which he didn't understand because he felt nothing. The doctor wasn't fazed by his reaction. She had obviously delivered this kind of news before, and his reaction was obviously not as bizarre as his mother and Quinn seemed to think it was.
"Probably at least three months," Quinn and his mother exchanged horrified looks, but all Puck could bring himself to do was close his eyes. He was really sleepy now and if he was asleep, he wouldn't have to have this conversation. He so wished he wasn't having this conversation. After a few moments he forced himself to open his eyes, knowing that he couldn't just avoid this forever.
"Why three months?" he asked, for the lack of anything else to say. His mother was squeezing his hand so hard he could almost feel the pain of it, despite the pain meds. Quinn was now biting her lower lip, and the water in her eyes was spilling over in tears. That hurt more than anything he had been told today. He hated seeing her cry, especially when it was because of him. He had made her cry way too often lately and he hated himself for it.
"There is a lot of rehabilitation and healing that needs to be done when spinal injuries are involved. You'll need a lot of physical therapy to help you build up the muscle needed to get yourself around. There is also a lot about your daily life that will be affected. A T11 injury means that you won't be able to control your bladder and so you'll have to figure out a plan to deal with that. There is also your leg to consider- the bone is shattered and although you've already had surgery on it once, you'll probably need more, and that will hinder you in your PT." He nodded along, though he wasn't really listening. He didn't really want to know the answers. There was an awkward silence as no one knew what to say. The doctor sensed that her presence was no longer really needed and made excuses to leave, mentioning that a whole host of other specialists would be around to see him at some point soon.
"I-I have to go check on Sarah," his mother jumped out of the seat and rushed out of the room before he or Quinn could say anything. He watched her go without trying to stop her, knowing that she was going to ask the doctor a few more questions without upsetting him. That left him alone with Quinn, and he wasn't sure what he was supposed to do.
"Regionals are in two months," she whispered, almost as if she was talking to herself. She looked so sad for him that it hurt. Why was she so sad about this? It wasn't her life that had been ruined- she had made it clear to him that he was nothing to her. So why was she even there? He felt the anger rise and he did nothing to stop it. It wasn't fair that she was so upset by all of this. She had made it clear that she didn't care, so why was she caring now, when he couldn't?
"It's not like it'll be hard to replace me," he said bitterly, "Any moron can sing 'ooh' and sway in the background. It's not like I was going to get a friggin' solo, not with Finn and Lady Lips around." He knew she hated his nickname for Sam, and he wanted to make her angry. He was angry and he wanted a fight and she was always good at fighting. But instead of getting angry, she just sighed and rolled her eyes, as though he was acting like a child.
"Sam got the solo at sectionals because he and I won the duet contest- Mr. Schu made it clear. And it's not easy to replace you- we can find someone to sub in for you, but you can never be replaced. It's like how Lauren could never replace Kurt in the group- she was just a fill-in until he returns. I know that it sucks that you are going to be stuck here, but we're still going to be here for you. Glee kids stick together- I thought you knew that by now," she gave him a soft smile, and he had to look away. Why did she have to say that? He just wanted to fight. Anger was something he knew quite well, and he needed something familiar to hold onto right now. Instead she was just making him even more confused.
"I didn't even get a chance to compete, so the whole thing was rigged," he said after a moment, choosing to focus on the part of the conversation he could still get angry about. The trouble was, the more he argued the more he sounded like a little kid. He blamed the drugs.
"You were the one who got sent to juvie, so it's your own fault," she pointed out, moving from the end of his bed to the chair, "Besides; we won at sectionals so it doesn't really matter. And you probably would have gotten a solo at regionals, so it really isn't fair that you can't compete. But none of that is what matters right now and I think you know that. You're just trying to avoid everything so you don't have to deal with it." He raised an eyebrow, surprised at her bluntness. She usually was a bit more manipulative than this and it felt weird.
"Whatever," he was way too tired to figure this out anymore. He rubbed his only fully-functioning hand over his eyes in a last effort to stay awake, but it was a losing battle, "I think I need to sleep now." He heard himself say as his eyes drifted shut. A few minutes after his eyes closed, he felt Quinn take his hand in hers.
"I'm sorry," he heard her whisper. He wondered what she was sorry before the dark depths of sleep dragged him away.
When Quinn walked into the choir room the next morning, she was greeted by eleven expectant faces. She frowned and glanced at the clock. She hadn't realised that she was running late, but the clock in front of her told her she was.
"Sorry," she muttered as she took a seat next to Sam. The expectant looks followed her and she wondered if she had something weird on her face.
"Is it true that you went to see Noah yesterday?" Rachel blurted out. Quinn had forgotten that Sam had been there when she had talked to Puck's mother.
"Yes," she didn't know how to continue. She knew that they wanted answers, but she didn't really know how much she was allowed to tell them. It was going to be quite obvious that Puck couldn't walk, but should she tell them that now, or did he want to tell them himself? With the way he had reacted to the news yesterday, she would think that he wouldn't care, but Puck was good at burying things inside of him and then letting them simmer to the surface weeks later in a fit of rage and anger. If she told and he didn't want them to know, he could possibly kill her (well, not literally, but still.)
Then again, they were his friends. They were really worried and concerned about him and they only wanted to help. If she told them, they could help him through this rough time. She had talked to one of the nurses about the recovery period, and the nurse had said that a good network of friends and family was vitally important to the emotional recovery of the patient. The Glee kids could be that network.
"So is he okay?"
"How long is he going to be in hospital for?"
Everyone started asking questions at once when it became clear that she wasn't going to offer the information herself. Mr. Schuster clapped his hands loudly, and after a few seconds everyone fell silent.
"I'm sure that Quinn will tell you what she can in her own time," she had a feeling that Mr. Schu knew that it wasn't good news. She sighed and wished for the millionth time that she had never slept with Puck- he had caused her so much trouble since and they weren't even dating.
"Um, he's going to be in the hospital for a while. The doctor mentioned at least three months, maybe up to six months," there was a shocked silence as she let this information sink in. Artie seemed especially bummed, and Quinn realised that he had been spending a lot of time with Puck recently. She knew that what she was going to say next was going to hurt him more than anyone, because he knew what it was like to be in Puck's situation.
"Why would he need to stay in the hospital that long?" Tina asked quietly, "I know that a shattered bone takes a long time to heal, but I'd have thought he'd just be there for a couple of weeks at most." There were a few nods, but everyone was keeping their eyes trained on Quinn. She was the only one who knew the truth.
"Well, he does have to have a couple more surgeries on his leg but... well..." she couldn't say it. She suddenly wished that she had looked at her cell before answering it yesterday and let it go to voice mail when the unknown caller had come up. She then felt guilty for saying that. Although she felt as though she had been absolutely no help to Puck at all last night, it was possible that her presence had helped in some small way. His mother had obviously had difficulty with Puck's reaction to the news (she had apologised to Quinn later for running out on them) and if she hadn't been there, he would have been alone.
"Three to six months is generally the period that spinal injury patients spend in hospital," Artie spoke up when she paused, "I'm guessing that Puck falls into that category?" She didn't know how he guessed it, but she supposed he had read a lot about his condition to try to understand it, and that would probably include a lot of information on treatments. She nodded.
"They said he has a T11 complete spinal injury so he's paralysed from the waist down," it felt easier to say it now that Artie had given them the main idea. The word 'paralysed' seemed to hang in the air as everyone tried to take in the news.
"What are we going to do about regionals?" Rachel asked after a few moments. Quinn wanted to believe that the girl was being selfish for thinking about the competition at a time like this, but she couldn't. It was obvious by the wobble in her voice as she spoke that Rachel was just trying to distract herself from thinking about the real issues by bringing up a problem that they could technically solve, and since Quinn had done that herself yesterday with Puck, she couldn't blame her.
Mercedes, Tina, Mike, Sam and Brittany joined in the conversation with Rachel, all coming up with ideas to get another person to join. Artie, Finn and Santana remained silent. Santana was staring at Quinn with an unreadable expression on her face. Quinn had the feeling that the Latina was angry at her, but she didn't get why. Finn was staring at a spot in the wall, looking completely blank. If she knew him as well as she thought she did, he was trying not to think about anything. She knew that he and Puck had never really patched up their friendship and she knew that had to be affecting him. Artie was staring at his feet, a resigned expression on his face. She didn't really know Artie well enough to guess his thoughts.
She didn't even really know her own thoughts on the matter, if she told the truth. She knew that she hadn't been acting herself for the past few days- the Quinn Fabray she portrayed to the world should have remained completely unaffected by the news that her ex-something (because ex-boyfriend was probably not the right word to explain their past relationship) was in hospital and paralysed. No, the Quinn Fabray she should be would have just ignored the situation, never visited the hospital, sent Puck a get-well soon card and carried on being head cheerleader and hanging out with Sam without a care of what else was going on.
But she wasn't that Quinn anymore.
When she had been pregnant, she had allowed her ice-queen facade to drop around the Glee kids. She still wasn't a nice person- she could admit that- but she had shown that she cared about people. But then Beth had been born and it had hurt so much that she had had to go back to being her bitchy alter-ego so she could get through the days without crying. She had slowly built back her image and repaired all the cracks and now Puck's accident was threatening to pull everything down around her. She had thought that nothing would hurt her more than giving up Beth, but hearing that Puck was dying in hospital...
It had hurt so much and all of her actions since had been a result of that hurt. Her reputation would soon start to plummet if she continued to follow her heart instead of her head and she had worked too hard to let everything fall away.
"Hey Quinn, do you know if Puck's allowed visitors now?" Artie asked her and she was surprised to see that he was in front of her. She hadn't been paying attention, and it seemed that everyone had decided to ignore the fact that they were in rehearsal. Mr. Schu had joined the large group discussing how to get more members to join, and they had formed a circle around the piano, Rachel scribbling down their ideas. Finn hadn't moved from his seat, but Santana was now next to him. Neither of them were speaking- in fact Quinn doubted that Finn even realised Santana was there.
"Um... I assume so, I mean, I was allowed to see him yesterday and I'm pretty sure he's being moved to a normal room today because he doesn't need to be in ICU anymore," she replied, thinking back to what May had told her the night before, "I don't think his mother would mind." Artie tilted his head to one side, looking suddenly curious.
"How did he react when they told him about his injury?"
"He didn't," she replied, giving her honest take on Puck's reaction, "He just went blank. He didn't ask any questions outside of how long he'd be in hospital and he went to sleep pretty much straight away after his doctor left the room." She decided not to mention the anger she had seen because she was pretty sure that that had been aimed more at her than the situation, although she wasn't exactly sure why. Artie nodded slowly before turning and wheeling himself away. The bell rang a few seconds later and she stood to leave quickly, wanting to get to a class that would take her mind off the situation.
"Guys, before you leave I know that this week has been tough so far, but we've stuck together as a group and I hope that we can continue to do so throughout all of this. Puck is going to need a lot of help in the coming months and I am counting on you to give him that, no matter what," Mr. Schuster called just before they exited the room. She nodded along with the others, but she had no idea what she was going to do to keep that promise.
"Hey Quinn, wait up!" she heard Santana call. She wasn't really in the mood for talking, so she continued ahead. She didn't expect Santana to rush to catch up. When she appeared at her side a few seconds later, she was surprised.
"What do you want Santana?" she asked wearily, not pausing on her way to her locker. Santana pushed her sideways until she was up against the wall, surprising her once again with the aggressive action.
"Look, I don't know why you were visiting Puck yesterday, but back off. If you want to go play nurse with him, you're going to have to get through me first. He's hurt enough already," the Latina girl glared at her for a few moments before turning back and heading off through the crowded halls.
Quinn stared after her, confused. This Santana was the complete opposite of the girl who had basically begged her to go to the hospital, and she wondered what had changed. Had Puck said something to her? She knew that Santana and Puck were close- despite popular belief the two of them did more than just have sex- and if he had been upset that Quinn was there last night, it was possible that he had told Santana about it. But if Puck had said something, then wouldn't Santana have already known about his condition? She had seemed as shocked as everyone else when Quinn had told them. So why was Santana being such a bitch to her today?
"She's upset that you knew about it all before her," Quinn jumped as Brittany appeared at her shoulder. She didn't know that she had asked the question aloud, but it was either that or Brittany could read minds.
"San. She's gotten used to knowing everything about Puck before everyone else, and it really hurt that you were there for him last night and she couldn't be, so she's being mean to you," Brittany explained, before tilting her head to the side, "So like, is Puck going to be in a wheelchair now, like Artie?" Quinn sighed and continued to her locker, with Brittany following her.
"Yes he will be in a wheelchair," she answered absently rubbing her arm where it had hit the wall. Santana had been a cheerleader for years and was used to throwing people around so that made her pretty strong.
"Does that mean that I will be your dance partner in glee?" Quinn had no idea where Brittany had gotten that from, but she continued to hurry to her locker, knowing she was going to be late. Brittany didn't notice and continued on, "Because, like, you and Puck are always partners, and I always go with Artie, but it makes sense if those two partner each other, right? They can have some really cool dance moves." Brittany was half-skipping, looking excited at what she had just figured out. She continued to blabber on about different dance moves they could do.
Quinn suddenly felt the urge to laugh. She had spent the entire night worrying and stressing about what Puck wouldn't be able to do, and here was a girl who hadn't been able to learn the alphabet, happy that they could have symmetrical moves in their performances. She wasn't exactly sure what the lesson was in that, but she was sure there was one in there somewhere.
"Yeah, sounds great," she interrupted her friend as she was saying something about complex turns, "But I've got class. See you." Brittany just waved at her as she left.
"You'll be an awesome dance partner!" she called as Quinn ducked into her chemistry class. Quinn could only shake her head as she took her seat, feeling a little better about everything. The situation still sucked and Puck was definitely not okay, but at least someone could see something not-quite-but-almost positive about all of this. As her teacher began the lesson she pushed all of this out of her mind and concentrated solely on learning about polar molecules.
Rachel stood in the centre of the stage in the auditorium, staring out at the empty seats. She would usually be picturing a giant audience who were full of admiration of her talent sitting there, but today it just didn't feel right. She knew that Regionals were coming up soon and New Directions needed a set-list and that she would be the perfect person to choose it- her knowledge of Broadway and musical theatre being greater than anyone but Mr. Schuster's- but she just couldn't focus on that now. She was feeling confused and upset and while that normally made her want to sing, she couldn't find the perfect song for how she felt.
There were two matters that were weighing her down. The first (and she had to guiltily admit, the most important in her mind) was Finn. He was barely even looking at her. Ever since her confession, he had avoided her like she had the plague, and glee was the only thing she could get him to talk about. It hurt. She loved him- she really did despite her actions to the contrary- and she felt as though he was slowly killing her every time he talked to Santana, every time he avoided her gaze. She had to find a way to fix things between them, but she feared that she had gone too far.
'No,' she thought to herself firmly, 'He loves me. He's just mad... He'll get over it, he just needs time.' She repeated the mantra over and over in her head, convinced that maybe if she said it enough times it would come true. She hadn't given up on him when he had been with Quinn and she had prevailed. She could do it again.
The other thing that was bothering her was, of course, everything that was happening with Puck. She truly felt for her friend's predicament and she wanted to help him, but she didn't know how. All she really knew was singing- whenever one of her dads was sick she would sing for him to make him feel better. In kindergarten, when the class guinea pig had mysteriously vanished (she now knew that Puck and Finn had set the poor thing free in the playground to get back at Quinn for calling Puck stupid), she had sung a song to cheer up her classmates at the loss. Singing was in her blood, her nature and it was the only thing she knew to offer in times like this.
She knew Puck wouldn't appreciate it though. He was her friend and he had defended her against Santana, but she knew that he found her annoying in large doses and she didn't want to push their new friendship beyond breaking too early. Besides, her song wouldn't give him back the ability to walk.
"So, what are we singing?" she jumped and turned to find Kurt leaning on the piano, still wearing his Dalton blazer. His friend Blaine was behind him, hovering in the background as if unsure as to whether he should be there or not.
"You know any songs that portray the situation I've found myself in over the past few weeks?" she asked in return, making her way to stand at the opposite side of the piano to her friend. She included Blaine in her weak smile and he came a bit closer, not hovering as much.
"There is a song for every situation," Blaine offered.
"It depends which situation you're talking about," Kurt clarified, "If you're talking about the love-triangle thing you have going on with Santana and my step-brother, I suggest Bad Romance by Lady Gaga, although I suppose it is now more of a love quadrangle, because Puck is kind of involved now too. Well, Finn at least thinks he's involved, even if Puck wants nothing to do with it. If you're talking about the situation with Puck then I don't know that's a tough one." He pressed a couple of keys on the piano in what sounded like the start of a song, but she didn't recognise it, which probably meant that it wasn't from Broadway. She dropped her head into her hands and her eyes started to water.
"What does it matter anyway? Singing isn't going to help anything," she had never felt so helpless before, and she had felt helpless a lot in her life. Kurt and Blaine exchanged glances before Kurt moved around to stand in front of her.
"Rachel Barbara Berry, I never, ever thought I'd hear those words come from your mouth," Kurt sounded torn between shock, outrage and laughter- it was a confusing mix of emotions, "Singing makes us feel better. It may not fix spines, but it can help people to deal. You can't think of something to sing because you are trying too hard. You want to help everyone at once- you've changed this year in that respect. You used to just sing for yourself, but since we became New Directions you have slowly started to evolve to think about others more. Whilst this is a good thing most of the time, in situations like these it can pose a pretty big problem. Sometimes we just have to think about ourselves." She thought she knew what Kurt was talking about, but it didn't solve her problem. Still, she smiled, because it felt like the expected thing to do, and she had been able to smile when she wanted to cry since she was three years old.
"So you're saying that I need to forget about everyone else and just sing for myself?" it was the opposite of what everyone had been telling her for the past few months and that almost made her want to laugh. If she hadn't been so upset, she would have.
"Basically, yes. As much as it pains me to say this, however, you have screwed up pretty badly. Finn already feels pretty insecure in relationships because of everything that happened with Quinn, and so by getting revenge on him with Puck, really hurt him. I think that he is flirting with Santana more as a way of getting revenge on you than anything serious. And as for Puck, there's nothing we can really do but be there if he needs us. I doubt I'll be able to do much, but you're going to be here when he comes back to school, and something tells me he's going to need every member of glee when he gets here."
"What Kurt is saying is that you're not going to be able to do anything about those situations now. Finn and Puck just need time before you can help them, so you should just focus on getting yourself back for now. Sing something that can help you right now, and worry about everyone else later," Blaine interpreted. She didn't know him very well, but she was glad that he was there. He obviously understood Kurt on many levels and she couldn't help but hope that the two of them got their act together and got together rather than just stay friends.
"Thanks guys, I think I know what I want to sing now," she told them. Kurt smiled and stepped back whilst Blaine gave a small bow and gestured for her to take centre stage. Brad the piano guy suddenly appeared out of nowhere and settled himself on the piano.
She wanted to sing something that conveyed both sadness and guilt, but that also made it very clear how much she missed Finn. Those were the things that she needed to express.
Kurt and Blaine took a seat on one of the amps as the first notes of the song started to play (it was so creepy how Brad could read her mind when it came to song choices). As she listened to the notes, she smiled. She had thought that she was done with her Britney Spears phase, but it appeared that she wasn't after all.
"Notice me, take my hand
Why are we strangers when
Our love is strong
Why carry on without me..."
Although Artie had asked Quinn about visiting Puck the day she had told them about his condition, he actually waited a few more days before visiting his newest friend. He waited for a couple of reasons.
First, he didn't want to upset Puck by reminding him of what he was going to have to live with for the rest of his life. He was worried that the sight of his wheelchair, and other peoples' reactions to his wheelchair, might cause Puck to realise what he was going to have to deal with once his leg and shoulder had healed a little more. The wheelchair was a visible reminder of all of the things Puck would no longer be able to do, and Artie worried that it might be more than Puck could handle. Although, as he realised later Puck was in a hospital, and therefore would probably see quite a few people in wheelchairs.
The main reason he waited however, was because he was scared. He was scared of seeing Puck so vulnerable. He didn't know what he would do if Puck broke down in front of him, or became angry at him. From what Quinn had said, Puck hadn't really reacted to his condition and Artie was at a loss of how to deal with that too. He was scared that he would say the wrong thing and lose his new friend forever.
Tina and Mike had visited Puck the day before, and they had told him that Puck had been relatively normal- well, as normal as Puck could be anyway. Apparently he had been a little quiet, but he had made jokes and bitched about being bored and rated the nurses on a scale of 'hotness' and in general, acted as Puck-like as normal. But Tina had said that he looked pale, tired and that the contraption on his leg had made her want to vomit. He had apparently stared off into space at random intervals, and although Mike and Tina had stayed for a couple of hours, she hadn't seen him use the painkillers once, despite watching for him to use it (she wanted to be a nurse or a psychologist and so she wanted to know how it all worked).
So now Artie found himself outside Puck's room, praying that he wouldn't say or do the wrong thing. After taking a few minutes outside the door, he finally gathered the courage to wheel himself into the room.
"Hey," he greeted his friend, who was staring blankly at the TV hooked into the wall. Puck didn't move for a few seconds, before switching the TV to mute.
"Hey," he returned after another few seconds. Artie wheeled himself closer, and Puck watched his every move, almost looking curious. Artie had hoped that once he got into the room he would know what to say, but no words would come.
"How's the daytime TV treating you?" he asked weakly, hoping that a bit of small talk would make it easier to talk about the heavier stuff later. Puck shrugged, and then winced as he moved his shoulder. Artie frowned. It seemed Tina was right about the pain meds.
"There are some hot chicks in some of these shows. They're not as good as some of the nurses, but I would totally go for them if they were here. Hell, I almost got the number of one of the nurses, but my mum came in and kind of ruined it," Puck tried to joke, but he wasn't really convincing. His voice was strained with pain and his smile was so fake that Artie didn't know why he bothered.
"You know, it doesn't matter whether you take the pain meds or not, your leg still isn't going to hurt," he found himself saying before he really thought about it. Puck's smile fell, and he suddenly became very interested in looking at his blankets, "I know what it's like, trust me. After my accident I used to ram my chair into the wall, hitting my legs, hoping that I'd feel something when they hit the wall. All I ever got was a few more scars and my parents' anger."
"It's not that," Puck said, scowling at his legs, "I need the fucking pain so I don't think about all this shit." Artie internally winced at all the swearing, but left it alone. There were more important things to worry about.
"You do know that the pain meds will help you to heal faster and then you can be out of here sooner, right?" he tried to address the issue in a round-about way. He felt a little as though he was walking through a mine field- he had no idea what might set Puck off, and that terrified him. Puck just shook his head.
"What the fuck would that do? Whether I'm here or at home, I'm still screwed," he sounded so desolate, so un-Puck-like that he didn't know what to reply. He decided to just act offended and take a more light-hearted approach- he was good at that.
"Oh, so I'm screwed am I? I have no life and I should just stay at home in bed all day and stare at the TV?" Puck's head shot up as he realised what he had said. Artie didn't give him a chance to apologise- he just kept going, "I should break up with Brittany and isolate myself and sit and cry about how I will never have a life because I can't walk and that basically means that I can't live." Puck looked away again.
"Fuck! I didn't mean it that way," he punched the bed with his right hand, in anger or desperation, Artie couldn't tell, "I just meant... Shit I can't do this." He chuckled, confusing Artie even more. What on Earth was going through his friend's mind?
"Well, you're kind of going to have to," he pointed out whilst trying to think of something inspiring to say, "I used to think that I wouldn't be able to do this, and yet I've done it for eight years. It sucks and it never really gets easier, but you get used to it after a while. There are some positives... I mean... I never have to wait in line, I get good parking and I can carry a heap of stuff around with me all the time. It's not all bad." He knew that some of his arguments were lame- who cared about being able to carry a lot of stuff at the same time? - But they were all true. It was pretty sweet never having to wait in line.
"Sarah thinks your wheelchair is awesome," Puck said hesitantly after taking a few moments to think about what Artie had said, "I don't think she realises that you have to use it though. She visits everyday but I don't think she understands what's happening. This thing scares the hell out of her," he gestured to his leg, "But when my mum told her that I needed a wheelchair, she got so excited, like it was her birthday or something." Artie chuckled. Puck looked up at him with a frown.
"My sister loves this thing too," he admitted, "My mum caught her once trying to make it pink by colouring it with crayons. She thought that it would make an excellent stroller for her dolls. It took my mum forever to explain to her why she couldn't use it to carry her Cabbage Patch kid around. Michael was just as bad- he wanted to race his friend in a wheelbarrow with my chair." Puck snorted, but his humour faded quickly. Artie noted that he still hadn't used his pain meds.
"Yeah, well I'll kick Sarah's ass if she steals my... ," Puck couldn't finish the sentence and Artie started to worry all over again that what he was saying was having no effect.
"You know, it's alright to be pissed off or upset about all of this, because to be honest, you don't deserve what's happened to you. We all understand if you are. What we don't want is for you to just deny that this is happening. We want to help you bro. I can help you. It'll be like geometry- if I can help you get a B in geometry, helping you with this will be easy," he lightly punched Puck's arm, making sure that it was the one that wasn't injured. It wouldn't really be helpful to cause the guy more pain after all.
"Did I tell you that my parole officer called and let me off for picking up trash?" Artie shook his head. He had tutored Puck in geometry while he picked up trash... did that mean that he was saying he didn't want his help anymore? He was about to ask something along those lines when his friend continued, "She totally told me I'm off the hook, with the trash and the whole probation thing. I guess she thinks that being in the hospital will seriously put a cramp on my future criminal activities. We'll have to figure out another time for all this tutoring crap." Artie was so relieved he felt like singing (although he didn't because then his rep with Puck would be completely gone and he would be worse off than before).
The conversation turned onto more pleasant topics, and Puck started to act a little more like himself. But as Artie wheeled himself out of the room a couple of hours later he realised that he still hadn't seen Puck take his pain meds.
Once Artie left, Puck lay back and closed his eyes, feeling relieved. It wasn't that he didn't like Artie- he did. It's just that he wasn't really up to the whole 'we're here for you' crap that everyone in glee had been preaching to him lately. It had started, oddly enough, with Santana, who had visited him every second day. When he had first seen her enter his room he had been glad because he thought that she wouldn't start preaching about how much she cared- it just wasn't in her nature. But glee must have turned her brain into mush or something, because she had gone on and on about how she was glad that he was okay and that she was there if he needed anything. It had been freaky and had honestly scared him- he had briefly considered the possibility that she had been possessed whilst he had been away. She was just the first of the many well-wishers. Even Mercedes and Kurt had visited him to tell him they were there for him, and he was sure that those two didn't like him.
The only person from glee who hadn't visited him now was Finn, and he had expected that. Finn had gone all wacko when Burt had been in hospital- what with his 'Grilled Cheesus'- and so Puck kind of figured that he would avoid the hospital like a plague for a while, which was cool. He didn't know if he would be able to deal with the guilt-trip Finn was probably putting himself through. Finn always thought that things were his fault when they went bad, and Puck didn't feel up to persuading his friend that it wasn't his fault. He loved his friend, really, but there were limits to what he would put up with.
Quinn hadn't come back to visit since she had helped tell him about his legs either. Sam had briefly visited with Brittany a couple of days ago, all sunshine and rainbows and positive comments- which had made Puck want to punch him- but Quinn had stayed away. He got the message: she didn't really care. He supposed that that was a good thing now. He was broken and she deserved someone who was whole, someone like Sam.
He opened his eyes and hit the mute button on the TV to bring the sound back. He had absolutely no idea what was on the screen, but the sound helped him to just stop thinking, just like the pain. He had a private room at the hospital, something he was sure Santana's father had arranged as his mother didn't have that kind of pull. He appreciated the privacy most of the time, but sometimes he wished he had a roommate so then he would have someone else's problems to distract him from his own.
He slowly and deliberately moved his left shoulder, feeling way too desperate to avoid thinking about it all that he didn't care about the consequences. Almost immediately the familiar rush of pain knocked into him, causing his vision to go white for a few seconds. He rode out the waves of agony, unable to focus on anything but what he was feeling physically. But all too soon the pain fell back to something he could bear and the thoughts were back.
Artie had given him too much to think about. The idea that there were positives to his condition was just crap as far as Puck was concerned, but when Artie had said it... he almost believed them, lame as they were. And the fact that he wasn't alone in all of this... well, that had sounded so girly and sappy and yet it made him feel a little better. But he just couldn't deal with it all, not yet. He was used to dealing with crap, but this was too much.
He turned the volume of the TV up a little higher, hoping it would catch his attention. He watched for a few moments, but then he lost interest, despite the fact that it was one of his favourite shows. He punched the bed in frustration as his eyes involuntarily fell on his immobile legs. He had been doing this for days now and it was getting harder and harder for him to bear.
He just couldn't imagine what his life was going to be like now. He had never really done well at school in anything other than music and sports. He had just assumed that he would either get a college scholarship for football (although that didn't really appeal to him because he could never really be bothered going to classes) or that he would learn a trade such as building or plumbing and do a more hands-on job. Now he was almost halfway through his last year of high school and both of those options seemed impossible. And that didn't include all of the little things in his life that were going to change.
He had already had a multitude of specialists come and talk to him about the changes he was going to have to make. Some guy had come in and talked to him about going to the bathroom- apparently they had some medication that he should take ten minutes before he wanted to go to the bathroom so that he could "do his business." The dude had then gone on to talk about how he probably wouldn't be able to have sex anymore but that it was 'okay' because he could still be a father someday, and his desire to have sex would be relatively low most of the time anyway. Puck had responded with quite a few colourful comments that his mother had berated him for later.
The dude had been right, however. Despite constantly commenting to anyone who will listen (or not as the case may be) about the hotness of the different nurses around, he hadn't really felt the urge to sleep with any of them- and that was not normal. He felt like he had lost everything that made him Puck and he didn't know how to deal with it. And so he used physical pain to distract himself from it all- like when he joined fight club when Finn had started dating Quinn. Physical pain was fixable, whereas what he was going through felt unfixable.
With that thought in mind, he twisted his body a little to the right. Predictably, the pain in his shoulder came back. What he didn't expect however, was the sharp pain that suddenly erupted in the upper right hand side of his chest. He knew that he had broken a couple of ribs, and they had ached a lot, but this sharp pain was new, and he couldn't understand what it was all about. He had been moving around as much as he could for the past couple of days, and this pain had never surfaced before. He had to work hard to keep his breathing steady as his hands began to shake. Spots danced in front of his eyes and he panicked as the pain got worse instead of better.
"Noah, are you okay?" his mother entered the room with his little sister in tow. He tried to look at her, but his vision went blurry and he had to close his eyes as the urge to vomit overtook him. His mother hurried to his side, dropping her bag and checking some of the readings of the machines he was still hooked up to (the doctor had him wear a heart monitor and something that was measuring something to do with lungs and air, but he had no idea what they were for as he had been checking out the nurses when the doctor had been talking).
"You okay Noah?" his sister asked, appearing unaware of the hysteria that was slowly taking control of their mother. He couldn't respond- the pain was growing worse and he fumbled for the button for painkillers, wishing he hadn't been so stupid as to move. His mother mouthed a couple of figures on the machines before reaching over and pressing the call button a few times.
"Please say something honey," his mother glanced away from the machines and noticed his fumbling hand. Her eyes widened as she realised what he was doing, and she quickly passed him the button. As soon as he felt it in his hands, he pressed it as many times as he could. He relaxed a little as he felt a cool rushing in his veins, but still the pain continued. Kate, one of the nurses who often helped change the dressings on his shoulder and around his ribs, entered the room a few seconds later.
"Hey Noah, how're you feeling?" she asked chirpily as she took in the situation. He liked Kate most of the time, mostly because her eyes were almost the same shade of green as Quinn's, but her personality was more like Berry's and she was annoying in large doses. She wore bright yellow scrubs because 'yellow is a happy colour Noah, and I like making people cheerful in this place' and her energy seemed boundless.
He still couldn't talk- it was almost as if all of the air he was taking in was needed for breathing and couldn't be spared in his voice- but he gestured to the right side of his chest, hoping she would take the hint. His mother started rattling off the numbers that she had read, and Kate nodded her happy expression slipped a little.
"I'll page the doctor, hang on a moment," she almost skipped out of the room and his mother grabbed his hand. Sarah had climbed up onto his bed near his feet on his right hand side. She had a Barbie doll with her- the doctor Barbie he had gotten her for her 6th birthday- and she and the Barbie were examining the traction device around his leg. Sarah was giving the doll a running commentary on what the thing was for, although it sounded as though she was making a lot of it up.
The doctor (another one he had never seen before) came only a few minutes later, and his pain meds had already started to kick in. Something still felt off in his chest, but the pain was back to an almost bearable level, and the urge to sleep was increasing rapidly.
"Okay Noah, can you tell me what happened?" the doctor asked after he examined the readings on the machine.
"I uh... I moved and it just started hurting," he replied, feeling as though it was pretty obvious what had happened. His vision blurred again for a few seconds and the room suddenly felt like a furnace. He had been feeling a little weird all day, but with everything else that had been going on, he had ignored it, and now it was looking as though there was something actually wrong.
The doctor started rambling about sudden spikes in temperature and infection and other medical shit, but the meds must have really kicked in because he couldn't keep his eyes open. Something cool was gently placed on his forehead, before he drifted off into a sleep plagued with nightmares.
Two weeks had passed since Puck had wound up in hospital, and Finn still couldn't bring himself to visit. His mother was disappointed in him, Mr. Schuster and Mrs. Pillsbury-Howell kept on wanting to 'talk' to him about his feelings and most of the other glee kids kept on trying to force him to go to the hospital. The only ones who left him alone were Quinn and Rachel- he assumed it was because Quinn was having her own difficulties with the situation, and Rachel was... well, he didn't really know. She had stopped trying to lure him to the auditorium to sing love songs at him, but he still kept catching her staring at him when she thought he wasn't looking. It was driving him crazy.
"Finn, can I talk to you for a minute?" Mr. Schu asked as they finished up another glee rehearsal. Their set-list was looking pretty good at the moment, but Finn knew that something was still missing from it all. Lauren had agreed to come back for Regionals, but they were still one member short.
"What's up Mr. Schu?" the rest of the members of glee trickled out into the hallway in their usual groups, none of them lingering around. Mr. Schu shuffled some sheet music around on the piano, looking as though he didn't know where to start. Finn joined him in sorting out the music- it was his job as co-captain to help out after all.
"Have you been to see Puck at the hospital yet?" Will finally asked him after a few moments of shuffling. He should have known the question was coming.
"No," he kept the answer short, stalling for time. He hated these conversations. He normally felt as though he could tell his teacher everything, but he didn't feel like talking about this. He found a couple of pages that completely didn't belong in the set of music he was gathering, so he dropped them onto the floor to keep them separate. Mr. Schu had stopped sorting the music and was now watching him with concern.
"Finn, I know that this is hard for you to deal with, but you're going to have to see him some time. He's your best friend and he needs you right now," Finn felt like banging his head against the piano. Didn't they realise that he knew all of that? He knew that Puck probably needed him to come to the hospital and have an epic conversation about the awesomeness of Mario or something like that, but he didn't know how that would help the situation. Puck still wouldn't be able to walk and Finn would just feel guilty and it all just wasn't worth it. Puck had plenty of people to talk to- Rachel had made a schedule so that at least one person from Glee was visiting him every day.
"I... I just can't," he fumbled for the words, wishing he still had Rachel to give him the prompts he needed, "Besides, he has everyone else. He doesn't need me there." He internally cringed at how childish and needy he had just sounded. Mr. Schu's eyebrows shot up, confirming how stupid his comment had been. But Mr. Schu was too nice to crucify him for being selfish.
"You know how he had that infection in his chest last week?" the change in track confused him for a moment before he nodded, "Well, the doctor believes that the reason his temperature rocketed up so quickly was because he hadn't been taking his pain meds, and the stress on his body was too high for it to fight the infection off properly." Finn frowned as the news sunk in. He had heard that Puck had gotten pretty sick- he had had a dangerously high temperature for three days, and had even suffered from a seizure because of it- but he hadn't heard anything about the reason why.
"But... why didn't they give him pain meds?" surely that had been the hospital's fault. They had to give out pain meds, right?
"He has a morphine pump," Mr. Schu explained patiently, "He has access to painkillers whenever he needs them- but it's self-monitored. He has to press the button and for some reason or another, he hasn't been. He's been sitting in pain for the past couple of weeks, and no one can get through to him. If he keeps on doing it, the chance that his body will be able to fight off an infection gets smaller and smaller." Finn wasn't sure if Mr. Schu was telling the truth. It all sounded legit, but the guy had been trying really hard to get him to the hospital- something about dealing with your issues instead of pushing them away- so it was a bit shady.
Still, if Puck had been sitting in pain, he could understand why.
"He doesn't want to think about it," he muttered, scattering the papers around the piano, forgetting his previous goal of sorting them out, "A few days after his dad left, he accidentally burned himself making dinner and ever since then, whenever something has gone wrong, he gets hurt. It's stupid, but he's stupid so..." He trailed off awkwardly as he realised Mr. Schu had gone completely white.
"He hurts himself on purpose?" Finn frowned, not getting what Mr. Schu was saying. His teacher elaborated, "Does he ever cut himself?" It took a few moments, but the words finally sunk in and he realised why his teacher was looking so sick.
"Oh no... It's not like that! He just does dumbass stuff when he's upset and that usually gets him hurt," he hastily explained, shaking his head and waving his arms around frantically as he tried to rectify his poor choice of words, "He doesn't... he doesn't like try to die or anything that could cause him to die, but... he does things like Fight Club and setting off fireworks... stupid shit like that." Mr. Schu visibly relaxed, but still didn't look all that happy.
"So he's going to keep on using the pain as a distraction as long as he can?" he asked curiously. Finn shrugged and gave up all pretences of helping with the sheet music. He dropped onto the piano bench and drifted his fingers across the keys, wishing he knew how to play.
"I dunno. We used to just hang around playing Mario and eating dip and he'd just get over it. Puck isn't one to talk about feelings and all of that other stuff," Mr. Schu moved to the edge of his seat and looked at him so intently it almost made him squirm.
"Everyone has tried to help him Finn, but he's not listening. I know that it's hard for you to be there, but imagine how much harder it is to be Puck right at this minute. You're his best friend- I know things haven't been the same between you two after all that happened last year," Finn internally cringed at the reminder of Drizzle, "But I think that you're the only one who can get through to him. I'm not saying that you have to go and have a deep and meaningful conversation with him, but if hanging out with you is what usually helps him with things like this then I'm just asking you to go hang out with him. You know if the roles were reversed he'd be there for you."
The worst thing was, he knew that last statement was true. If he had been the one in the accident, Puck would have been there when he woke up, complaining about the crappy food and TV. But he hadn't done anything bad to Puck, whereas his friend had betrayed him completely.
"Yeah, but I didn't betray him now did I?" He froze as the words poured out of his mouth. He had told everyone that he had forgiven Puck for the things he had done to him, and on the day of the accident, when Puck had a good chance of dying, he had told that to himself. But he had never really believed it. He hadn't realised until now, but he still very much blamed Puck for everything.
Mr. Schu looked so disappointed in him that he couldn't look at him anymore. It was as if he had realised that Finn wasn't the good guy everyone thought he was, and Finn actually started to believe it himself. After a moment his teacher sighed before standing and gathering all the papers together in a haphazard pile.
"I think you just did," Mr. Schu said softly, "I'll see you tomorrow. Hospital visiting hours end at eight." He left the room, leaving Finn staring at the piano, unable to really see what was in front of him. Mr. Schu's words echoed around his head. He had never thought about it that way- never realised that his refusal to visit was like a betrayal.
"I'm a bad person," he said slowly out loud as he reached that conclusion.
"No you're not," he jumped as Rachel spoke up from behind him. He turned, finding her standing in the doorway, looking a little embarrassed that she had spoken. Her orange and blue horizontal-striped sweater almost blinded him for a moment as she stepped into the room, watching him cautiously.
"I haven't been to visit Puck yet," he said quickly, unable to repress the urge to spill everything to her, "And it's partly 'cause I'm scared, 'cause like it's Puck and it's freaky to think of him sitting still and not really moving, but mostly it's because I'm still angry at him. And I'm not really all that angry at him about Quinn and Drizzle and all of that, because I know he's sorry and I didn't even really love Quinn and all. So I guess I'm kind of cool with him about that, but he made out with you even though he knows that I love you and he had already kind of done that to me before and I just don't get why! And I know that I said that I forgave him and I really probably should because he didn't sleep with you, but I just can't and so I haven't visited him and Mr. Schu said that he's hurting a lot and that could make him sick and he can die and it's all going to be my fault and so I am a bad person!"
Rachel calmly walked to the piano stool and folded her denim skirt underneath her as she took a seat beside him, facing away from the piano. If she agreed with what he said in his rant, she didn't show it. She just stared into his eyes, looking so sad and sympathetic that he just wanted to pull her into his arms and hold her. After a minute she looked away, her eyes roaming around the choir room.
"When I was five, my dads and I rescued a bird that had fallen out of a tree," she fiddled with the gold chain around her throat- a Star of David now instead of his name- and looked half-lost in the memory, "At first I was so excited that we were going to help the bird get to fly again. I helped to set up the cage and the food and water and helped wrap up the bird's broken wing." Finn wondered where this story was going. He didn't really get how a hurt bird and a hurt person were the same kind of thing, but he guessed that's the point Rachel was trying to make.
"But the next morning the bird started to sing and its song was so pretty, I got jealous. I hated the idea of anyone but me singing that beautifully for my dads, so I took the bird outside when my dads were busy, and set it free. The bird was kind of stuck in the grass because it couldn't really fly, but it hopped away, trying to get back home. I went back inside and forgot about the bird. When my daddy checked the cage later and found the bird missing, he asked me about it. I told him that the bird had wanted to go home and sing for its parents, so I had set it free. Daddy just looked at me and asked me where I had set it free. I grabbed his hand and took him outside, pointing at the base of the tree where I had left the bird. It was still there, only a few feet away," she pushed herself off the piano stool and stood directly in front of him, staring into his eyes. He wished he had the strength to look away.
"Daddy went over and picked up the bird and brought it back to me. He asked me if I thought we should let it go home now, or when we had fixed it. I told him again that the bird wanted to sing at home for her parents and that we didn't need to fix the bird because it wasn't our job. Daddy took it inside anyway and put it back into the cage. He told me that even though it wasn't our job, the bird needed our help and we could give it, even if birds sang prettier songs than we did." She stopped talking and waited for his reaction. He still didn't get it. So she hadn't wanted to help out a bird when she was a kid?
"And Puck is like a bird?" he asked, just to get clarification. She sighed.
"What I am trying to illustrate is that people can do bad things for really stupid reasons, but that it does not make them inherently evil. I guess that story wasn't a good illustration of that, but what I am saying is that you're not a bad person Finn. You are just hurt and are trying to deal with it in a way that is constructive for you," she insisted eagerly, leaning closer towards him in her desperation to prove her point. He was distracted by the citrusy smell of her shampoo and he honestly almost forgot what they had been talking about.
"So what happened to the bird?" he asked, because her response hadn't really made much sense to him- she had used big words again.
"We kept the bird and I helped my dads take care of it every day until it got better and we set it free," she took a step back, as if finally noticing how close she had been standing. He missed her warmth immediately and wished he could ask her to come closer again. But no, she had made it perfectly clear that he didn't matter to her as much as she mattered to him and she was the one who had blown what had happened into something a lot worse than it should have been.
"So... you're saying that I should go visit him and that would mean that I'm not evil?"
"What I am saying is that you are not a bad person and therefore you will make the right decision regarding visiting Noah or not. I'm not here to tell you what you should or should not do. I just want to make sure that you are happy with whatever you decide, because I support you one hundred percent, okay? I visit Noah because he is my friend, nothing more, and he's going through a hard time. It's a lot more complicated for the two of you because of what happened with Quinn and then what happened with me and I understand that so I'm not going to judge you. But you have to live with whatever you decide to do, so whatever you do, make sure that you can," she smiled at him softly before turning and leaving him more confused than ever.
Quinn really hated Rachel. The brunette had really outdone herself this time in being annoying. Rachel had been in charge of setting up a roster of sorts, to make sure that Puck was visited by at least one member of glee per day. Unfortunately for Quinn however, Rachel had absolutely no consideration for how complicated the relationships between certain members of glee were, which is why she currently found herself walking through the hospital to go visit Puck with Santana.
She would have skipped the visit altogether, but she didn't have a good excuse. She was determined to keep her reputation up, and to do so she needed to make sure that her ice-queen persona stayed intact. And her ice-queen-self wouldn't be bothered by the fact that she had to visit her ex-something with his sex-buddy. She didn't know exactly what was going to happen during this visit, but she was dreading it.
She had only been back to the hospital once in the past two weeks, and that was again because of the roster. She had been partnered up with Mercedes for that visit and although it had been a little awkward, she had managed to stay pretty quiet and act like the head cheerleader she was. Puck had barely looked at her, and as Mercedes wasn't really Puck's biggest fan, the visit had been quite short. She had been down to visit him again a couple of days later, but then his infection had kicked in and so she hadn't been able to go. And now she was there with Santana.
The ride over had been silent. Santana had been ignoring her ever since she had pinned her to the wall outside of glee, and Quinn definitely had nothing to say to her either. She couldn't figure Santana out- the girl had so many hidden layers and personalities that it looked like she never would. She knew that Santana and Puck were close- probably one of the only people who knew that it wasn't only about sex between the two of them other than Brittany- but she didn't really understand their relationship either. She had a feeling this visit was going to be very interesting.
"Look Q," Santana stopped a few meters from Puck's room, forcing Quinn to stop too, "I don't like that you're here and I know that you hate that I'm here too, so why don't we make a deal? You can go see him for like half an hour or something, then leave and I'll go see him after and we'll just tell everyone that we went together, okay? I don't think I can stomach the sappy lovesick crap that the two of you have going on and I need to talk to my dad anyway." The Latina turned and walked away before Quinn could protest.
She sighed, annoyed at the situation, before turning back to face the doorway of his room. She felt almost paralysed as she stared at the door, not sure that going in would be a good idea. She knew, however, that if she didn't go in, Santana would tell everyone about how she abandoned her and then people would wonder why she couldn't visit him (like everyone was doing with Finn) and she just didn't want to deal with all of that. So she took a deep breath, tightened her ponytail and took the remaining steps into his room.
Everything looked pretty much the same as it had when she had visited with Mercedes. Some sort of kid's cartoon was blaring away from the TV in the corner, the volume up pretty loud. A bunch of large orange and red flowers stood on the table on the left side of the bed, with a card sticking up in front of it. She knew that Rachel had sent the flowers, and she recognised the card as the one the brunette had forced them all to sign the day after Puck had ended up in here. The little table to Puck's right had a few books and some sort of handheld game scattered across it, along with a glass of water. The heart monitor and some other machine she didn't know the name of were also arranged around his bed. Puck himself was lying in the same position he had been last time- with the device on his leg and his shoulder bound he didn't have much of a choice.
Considering the fact that it was mid-afternoon she had expected him to be awake, but his eyes were closed and his breathing was pretty even, so she was pretty sure he was asleep. He was looking a lot paler than normal, and his Mohawk was missing- she assumed his mother had had something to do with that.
"Puck?" she asked softly, not wanting to wake him but making sure that he wasn't just resting his eyes. There was no response and she felt relieved as she slipped into the chair beside his bed. Now no one could accuse her of not visiting him, but she probably wouldn't have to talk to him either. She could see him without the chance of slipping up and saying something she would actually mean.
Although the TV was on and she had brought her backpack with all of her homework with her, she found that she couldn't look away from him. He looked a lot different when he was sleeping- when he was awake he was always so tense as if waiting for the moment when someone would try to break down his walls, break him. He thought that he was good at hiding his emotions; she knew he did, but his eyes always told her how he was feeling. She hadn't always been able to read them- if she had then she had a feeling she would have seen the love and adoration he held for her sooner- but now she couldn't stop. The only exception to that had been when they had told him about his legs- then she hadn't been able to read anything from his eyes and she was sure that that wasn't right. When she had visited with Mercedes, she had had to keep her eyes averted from his pretty much the entire time- the amount of pain and hurt and despair she had read from them had been just too much to bear.
To see him sleeping now, one would think that there was nothing much wrong with him. He looked so much younger when he was sleeping than when he was awake. She wished that the peaceful feeling he seemed to have when sleeping could follow him when he was awake.
She must have been watching him for about ten minutes when his eyes started to move quickly underneath his eyelids. She wasn't fazed at first- one of her subjects at school was psychology and she knew that this meant that he was in REM sleep and probably dreaming- but when his breathing started to escalate and his head moved a few times, she began to worry. REM sleep was supposed to paralyse all of a person's muscles so that they didn't act out their dreams, but he was moving. She pulled her psych textbook from her backpack, wondering what was going on. She quickly scanned through the section on sleep as Puck's movements became more erratic- considering that he was only moving his head and his right arm, this wasn't very much, but it was enough to worry her.
She finally found a section that she thought applied to the situation- during stage 4 sleep the muscles are not paralysed, but the worst of nightmares- night-terrors- can occur during this stage of sleep. She closed the book slowly, not knowing what to do. It was clear to her now that he was probably having a nightmare, but if she woke him then she would have to deal with it. If she let him sleep on, she would be forcing him to see whatever horrors his mind could come up with, and considering the accident he had just been in, that nightmarish world could possibly break him even more than he already was.
"Puck, wake up!" without making a conscious decision, she found her hand on his uninjured shoulder, shaking him gently. There was no effect- he didn't stir from whatever was taking over his mind. She hesitated, biting her lip, before trying again, shaking him harder this time. It took a while, but after a few minutes, he finally started to wake up.
"W-what the fuck?" he asked as he blinked his eyes open, throwing his hand over his eyes to shield them from the light. She hid a smile as she folded herself carefully back into the seat- she should have known that he would use profanities even when half-asleep. She tried to look as uninterested as possible, hoping that he wouldn't insinuate anything from her being there.
"It's my day to visit you on the roster Man-Hands set up," she began once she thought he was coherent enough to understand, "I came in and you were mumbling something in your sleep and it started to annoy me so I woke you." She kept her voice as icy as possible. She really wanted to ask him what his nightmare was about, but she didn't know if he remembered it and she didn't want to make him re-live it. He stared at the wall before shaking his head and grimacing a little.
"Ah, sorry... physio kind of wipes me out," he was still carefully looking everywhere but at her and she got the feeling he was embarrassed.
"You've started physio? I thought they were going to wait till your arm is better," she asked, cursing herself for sounding a little too interested. He shrugged, winced, and then started playing with the remote to the TV.
"Yeah but they said something about losing muscle and need to keep it all up or some shit like that. It's actually kind of pathetic that it wipes me out so much 'cause I don't actually fucking do anything- the physio guy just moves my legs and my arm around in circles and I don't really get what it does, but it's fucking tiring," he frowned after the words left his mouth and she knew he didn't want to spill that much. His filter was obviously still asleep- there was no way he would be this honest with her if it wasn't.
"When do you get that thing taken off your leg?" she pointed to the series of pins and metal rods holding his leg together, barely able to look at it.
"I have to have surgery on it tomorrow and then they're going to put it in a cast I think. It's going to be another 4 weeks before it's back to... well, before it's healed," she asked him a few more questions about his medical care, and he answered them all in a dull tone, parroting back the phrases his doctors had told him. She noticed that he deliberately avoided using terms like 'normal' and 'better' and her heart broke every time he did so.
"So where's the other person who's supposed to babysit me with you?" Puck finally asked after an awkward pause. It felt like he didn't want her to be there- he was still avoiding looking at her and his answers were becoming shorter and shorter as time went on. She told herself firmly that the rejection didn't hurt, but she still felt it.
"Santana is talking to her dad or something. She'll be here soon," he chuckled.
"Berry's nuts," he offered as an explanation at her questioning look, "There's no way a sane person would think having Head Bitch and Satan visiting a hospital patient together would be a good idea. I'm surprised no one's fucking died." She rolled her eyes, annoyed at his nickname for her, yet glad that he was acting more like himself.
"Better Santana than Berry," she muttered under her breath, although she honestly didn't know which one was worse, "You're lucky that it was just me in here before." His head snapped up and he watched her suspiciously. Her eyes met his for the first time today and she couldn't breathe as the pain, sadness and confusion he was feeling crashed into her awareness. He was lost and broken and she felt her heart break into a million more pieces at the intensity of the emotions.
"Why?" he asked suspiciously, his voice breaking the spell his gaze had pulled her into and she hastily looked at the wall so he wouldn't see how much he had gotten to her. She internally scolded herself for allowing that to happen- she felt nothing for him- she had to.
"Because if Man-Hands knew you were having nightmares, she'd never leave," he stiffened and his suspicion turned into a glare.
"What the fuck would you know?" his anger surprised her enough that she looked him in the eyes again, and this time she was unable to look away, "You think you can just waltz in here every once in a while and give me a heap of fake smiles and fake sympathy and shit and then lord it over me just 'cause I have fucking nightmares?" She started to shake her head before she could stop herself, not understanding what he was talking about.
"I just... I just thought..." she couldn't string a sentence together- her thoughts were all over the place. What was he doing to her? She was supposed to be able to fight back- she hadn't become head cheerleader by being nice- but all she could feel was guilt and sadness and she couldn't think past it.
"Whatever," he cut in, "Just leave. Tell Berry I told her to cut you from the visiting roster 'cause you're a bitch or something." She wanted to stay and defend herself, to tell him that she hadn't meant what he thought she had, but he looked so angry and upset that she couldn't face him. She picked up her backpack and fled the room without a backward glance, feeling her eyes fill up with tears. He had given her the perfect chance to be the person she thought she had to be, but somehow it didn't feel like a victory at all.
Santana paused as Quinn flew past her without acknowledgement. She thought she had seen tears in the blonde's eyes, but she dismissed it as a figment of her imagination. Quinn had turned on the waterworks a lot the year before, but that had been when she had been pregnant and everyone knew that played havoc with one's tear ducts. She wasn't pregnant at the moment though, so she had probably imagined it. Besides, Santana didn't really care if the blonde's feelings had been hurt, so she let her leave without comment and entered her best friend's room.
"What are you doing?" she asked harshly as she took in the form of her friend. His right hand was holding his left shoulder, and it almost looked as if he was pulling on his broken appendage. She had heard, via her excellent eavesdropping skills, that he was using pain as a distraction, but it was another thing altogether to see him actually do it. He looked a little guilty as he dropped his arm.
"Nothing," he denied automatically, "How's your dad?" She rolled her eyes and dropped into the vacant chair, putting her feet up on the end of his bed.
"Same old shit," she replied, keeping it deliberately vague, "So what did you and Barbie fight about?" He flinched.
"Same old shit," he said after a moment, mocking her, "It's all good though- she's not going to come back again." He tried to say this as though it didn't bother him, but she had known him for too long for him to pull it off. She raised both eyebrows and gave him a long look. He met her look, but it wasn't long before he looked away.
"Geez she really has you by the balls, doesn't she? You need to toughen up. Barbie's got Ken and she ain't going to give him up for a cripple," she didn't believe in pulling punches, and as far as she was concerned, Puck had wasted too much time pining over Quinn. The truth has to hurt sometime.
"See, that's why I love it when you visit San, you don't bullshit me around," he said, a little too seriously. She hadn't really meant it the way she had said it- yes she meant that Quinn wasn't going to break up with Sam, but she hadn't meant to insult him at the same time. She felt something that might have been guilt, but as she had never really experienced it before, she ignored it.
"You know what I meant. She always has to be Queen Bee, and queens don't hang around with the common folk like us. They have to have their Prince Charming, who is often a dumb blonde who acts like all the world should love them just because they're like royalty," he raised an eyebrow, amused and a little surprised at the amount of hate in her voice.
"Wow, that fight with your dad must have been bad. Or maybe you're still upset that Britt is still fucking Artie. Isn't Britt a dumb blonde?" she scowled. She hated how he always knew what she was thinking- well, most of the time, sometimes he just guessed. She needed to learn how to keep her personal issues to herself.
"Fine, yes, my dad and I had a fight again. And Britt is just with Wheels to get back at me for partnering up with Wheezy for that lame duet contest. She'll get over it sooner or later and everything will be back to normal. She's happy for now, that's all that counts."
"You do realise that Artie's my guy, right? And he really likes Britt- which I find really weird 'cause like she barely knows the frickin' alphabet- and I'm still convinced you care so much about her 'cause like you never learnt to share in kindergarten and want to keep her, so I'm not really rooting for you in this one," she gave him her best glare, but really she wasn't all that surprised. They may be best friends, but they weren't all buddy-buddy with each other. Their form of communication- outside of sex- had always been these cruel, teasing comments that were aimed to both destroy and help each other. She knew that he had developed quite a close friendship with Artie, who had become one of the first (and few) people to truly believe in him.
"Whatever," she couldn't be bothered arguing that point, "Are you watching Oprah?" His attention was immediately drawn to the TV, saving her from comments about quitting. He flipped the channel a few times before settling on some sports show. She smirked at the 'manly' choice.
"So what did you fight with your dad about this time? Is it still about that whole cancer thing?" she wished she had never told him about that. The reason she had had a boob job over the summer was because she had found out that she carried the gene for breast cancer, like her mother and grandmother before her. She hadn't wanted to take the risk of getting it, so she had had a double mastectomy and then had a boob job to make sure that no one knew. But her father didn't think that it was enough. He was always on her case about her eating habits and coming up with new evidence from medical studies that showed the various things that contributed to the development of cancer. She hated being told what to do, and most of the suggestions were stupid (like, what the hell did blue food colouring have to do with getting cancer?) and so whenever she tried to have a conversation with him, it usually ended up in a major argument.
"I'm now not allowed to eat food that has been micro waved in a plastic container or something like that. I wasn't really paying attention. Then he said something about not being allowed to drive myself anywhere because there were dangerous people on the roads and apparently I'm one of them," she felt herself getting angry all over again as she re-hashed the argument to him. He just sat and listened- not normal behaviour for him. He usually interjected with rude comments about what her father could go and do. The silence was a little unnerving, but she rolled with it, wanting to vent her own stuff too much to care about what was going on with him.
"Your dad's stupid," he offered once she had finished ranting. She looked at him incredulously. She had just spent ten minutes explaining how stupid her father was being, and all he could come up with was that he was stupid?
"Thanks for the support dumbass," she snapped, crossing her arms and pouting.
"Oh, I'm soooo sorry that your father actually gives a shit about you living and breathing," He said sarcastically, rolling his eyes, "He's like a friggin' doctor. If anyone would know how to stay alive, it's doctors. He went to college, right? So he probably knows what he's talking about. I don't know why you have such a problem with him wanting you to stay alive," she opened her mouth to protest, but stopped when she recognised the bitterness in his voice. His father had left when he was really young and from what she could gather (when she managed to get him drunk enough to talk about it) his father hadn't really cared much if he lived or died.
Now he was in hospital, after almost dying, and his father still wasn't there. She probably wasn't helping the situation by adding her own father issues into the mix. She still felt that her father was being unfair and overly controlling, but she no longer felt the urge to complain about it to him, which was weird. She blamed Glee for all of these emotions like guilt and compassion that she was starting to feel a lot more often.
"Whatever. I have to go. I'm meeting one of my brother's friends- you know the one with the hot hawk tattoo on his shoulder- and I have to freshen up. Don't die," and with that she left the room quickly, telling herself that it wasn't running away if the other person didn't want you to stay anyway.
It was three and a half weeks after Puck had landed himself in hospital when Finn finally managed to gather up the balls to visit. Puck wasn't overly surprised to see him- whilst knowing that his best friend would avoid the hospital at first, he knew that Finn was too much of a nice guy to never visit at all. So when he turned up and hung back awkwardly in the doorway, he just nodded for him to come in without a second thought.
"Hey man, what's up? I mean, I kind of know that you're not feeling all that great at the moment and it must suck being stuck here and all- not that I'm saying you're stuck here but that you can't really go anywhere and... I'm sorry I didn't come earlier but I was kind of mad at you for the thing with Rachel, but I didn't know I was and that kind of meant that I was a douche and I really didn't mean to but-
"Dude, relax," Puck had to cut into the steady stream of apologies he had expected to hear. Finn had always been good at rambling, and whilst he normally found it amusing, he hated apologies, especially unnecessary ones, "It's cool. Berry's been going nuts making sure I go nuts with visitors. Last time she came she made me listen to a whole heap of sappy crap to find a song for regionals. Then she started yapping on about costumes and dance moves and a heap of other things she thought I'd give a stuff about. She also left a heap of CDs- something about learning harmonies or some shit like that- so I probably would've been too busy to see you anyway." Finn's mouth twisted into a grimace or a smile, he couldn't tell. He was still standing awkwardly near the door, rocking back and forth on his heels, as if still unsure about his decision to come.
"So... what's it like? Being in hospital and stuff? I mean, you don't need to answer that if you don't want to... Rachel keeps telling everyone that we shouldn't make you talk about stuff you don't want to and all 'cause you're probably really upset about it all and-
This time he cut himself off and turned red. Puck rolled his eyes and felt way more relaxed and at ease than he had for the past few weeks. Finn always had that effect on him- the guy was just too honest and nice that it was hard to be anyone but yourself around him.
"You and Berry make nice yet?" he asked, not yet at the point where he could talk about himself. Finn shrugged.
"We talk," he said slowly, getting a familiar confused look on his face, "But I don't know if I can trust her. She keeps talking to me all of the time and stuff, but I don't know if she really cares about me or not." Puck couldn't stop himself from snorting, which unfortunately jostled his shoulder. He still wasn't taking his pain meds- the pain was still a distraction that he needed- and although his shoulder was healing slowly, it was still quite painful. Finn's expression changed at Puck's wince, but he left the topic alone for now, which Puck was grateful for.
"Dude you're such a dumbass! Her whole life is aimed at you. Half of the sappy songs she got me to listen to last week were girly love songs to sing for you. She was hurt 'cause you lost your mind and slept with Santana of all people, and so she tried to hurt you as much as you hurt her, 'cause she's friggin' mental. And now the two of you are both being miserable over nothing that can't be fixed and it's irritating the hell out of everyone. Just friggin' talk to her and get back together and spare the rest of us from having to hear her choice of gay love song, okay?" he hoped Finn was paying attention- he made sure that he didn't use any big words, just in case Finn had lost that word-of-the-day calendar Rachel had bought him- to make sure that there would be no misunderstanding.
"Are you sure that she's not into you instead? 'Cause like, you and her did have a thing last year, and then she went back to you when she was mad at me and she was really upset when she found out you were in hospital and I know it could've been because you almost died, 'cause like I was really upset too, but she calls your mother by her name and Sarah likes her and well, I just think that she likes you too, maybe more than she likes me," he still hadn't sat down and he shoved his hands in his pockets. He wouldn't look Puck in the eye (which Puck was becoming used to- a lot of his friends couldn't quite do that anymore and it was getting quite irritating).
"You're a moron," he told Finn flatly, making sure to emphasise his words, "Firstly, me and Berry hooked up last year because my mum wanted me to date a Jew and Rachel is Jewish after all. And I wanted to get her off your back 'cause Q was getting upset about the whole you-liking-Man Hands-better-than-her thing and I knew that if I was dating Rachel, you'd stop flirting with her all-the-freakin' time and Q wouldn't be so upset. Secondly, the only reason she chose me to use for revenge is 'cause she thought it would also hurt Santana. For some reason she thinks Santana actually likes me and can feel real-people emotions- which she totally can't- and therefore thought that by making out with me she'd get to San. Thirdly, she friggin' loves you and there's absolutely no way in hell I'd ever go out with her again. She's kind of my friend and she is pretty hot, but she's totally not my type."
He was pretty sure he had never said so much in so little time before. He blamed it on his conscience- he was partly responsible for the mess that Finchel had become, so he felt that he needed to make an effort to repair it- but only because Finn was his best friend, and he had made a promise to be nice to Jewish people.
"Is Quinn more your type?" again Finn had managed to bring up a topic he wanted to avoid. He hadn't seen Quinn in over a week and that's the way it had to be. He couldn't handle seeing her and not being with her on top of everything else.
"How's your mum?" Finn frowned at the change in topic, but went along with it as he knew he would.
"She's okay. She's been hanging with your mum when she can and Sarah's been over a few times. Did she tell you that Sarah called Quinn a bitch the day we all came to the hospital?" Puck sighed and shook his head, wondering where Sarah had gotten that idea. Sarah had idolised Quinn when she had lived with them, and as far as he knew, Quinn had done nothing to his sister to make that disappear.
"I need to have a talk with that girl," he actually really missed his sister- due to her young age she wasn't allowed to visit him for very long and she didn't understand why he couldn't come home. Despite being told otherwise several times, she was still convinced he could just climb out of bed and walk home with them. It broke his heart to see her innocent hope, but he still wished he could see her more every day.
"It was pretty awesome. Quinn had no idea what to say," Finn smiled and finally sat down, setting his backpack carefully down on the floor in front of him. Puck winced as her name came up again- he didn't want to think about her (despite the fact that she was all he thought about half of the time he was alone).
"I bet that was friggin' priceless," he said, because he was pretty sure Finn expected something along those lines, "So what's with the backpack? I thought you left all of your school books in your locker at the end of the day because they were too heavy." He hated being so obvious, but he wasn't left with much choice- he really didn't want to talk about her anymore. Finn brightened as he remembered the purpose of his bag.
"Oh, well, I thought that you would be pretty bored of this place, and I asked Artie if they had any games here for you to play and he said no, there was a TV and stuff, but I thought that'd just be lame after a while, so I thought that I could bring my Playstation and we could play Resident Evil while I'm here, and like I could leave it here for a few days so you had something to do whilst everyone is in school. I mean I know that you have other stuff to do too, but, you know, Resident Evil is really awesome and so I thought it'd be cool if you could play it all day?" he ended up sounding confused with what he was saying, but it was so typically Finn that Puck couldn't stop a grin from spreading across his face.
"Dude you are totally awesome! You know how to hook it up?" Finn shrugged.
"It can't be that hard, right? Just put the coloured cables into their coloured hole thingies?" they spent the next hour trying to hook the thing up- Puck calling out instructions as Finn tried to describe the various ports and cables he had to plug in. Finally, after Puck had managed to use every swear in his vocabulary (which was quite a lot since he could swear in 3 different languages) and Finn had tripped at least ten times over the wires, they managed to get the game started.
Puck reached for one of the controllers and winced as the pain from his shoulder hit. The angle of the controller and the fact that he had to actually use his left hand to play the game properly meant that his not-quite-healed shoulder was protesting. Finn, who had been holding the controller out to his friend, pulled it back so that it was just out of his reach.
"I have one condition," he announced, looking quite excited as he figured out whatever crazy plan he had concocted. Puck was instantly on alert.
"Just give me the frickin' thing," he demanded, not liking where this was going. Finn just held the controller further away. Puck was momentarily distracted as he thought he saw his mother at the door, but she wasn't there when he looked. He turned back to Finn and glared, "Seriously dude, stop being a douche."
"I'll let you have the Playstation for a few days, but it looks like it hurts you to play, so you have to agree to take your pain meds when you're in pain, otherwise I won't let you play," Finn looked so happy that he had figured out a way to trick him that it was hard to refuse. He hesitated though- the pain had been a great distraction from all of the thoughts and feelings that still continued to plague him (such as why the hell would any girl want to touch him with a ten foot pole now that he wasn't the stud he used to be?). Without the pain to distract him, he was going to have to think about all of these things, and he wasn't sure that he was strong enough to do so.
Still, Finn was looking at him like a lost puppy that was finally going to find a home, and Puck did kind of owe him for all of the shit he had pulled in the past couple of years and he really wanted to play Resident Evil and kill zombies, so after a few seconds he sighed and nodded.
"Fine, I'll take the stupid meds," he muttered. Finn almost gave him the controller before pulling it back, looking suspicious.
"You'd better take some now. You're a dumbass for not taking any before you know," he picked up the stupid button and, making sure to hold it up so Finn could see it, depressed it. A cool liquid rushed up through his arm, but he knew it would be a minute or two before the meds kicked in.
"There, I pressed it. Can we kill some friggin' zombies now?" Finn grinned at his victory and tossed him the controller.
"I'm so going to kill more than you!" and thus began a two-hour zombie killing frenzy which only ended because Puck couldn't resist the lull of medication-induced sleep that had been pressing down on him. When he woke the next day, his controller was sitting neatly on the bedside table with a note:
Told ya I'd kill more than you. Take your meds. I'll come round later with Rach and we'll show her how to play
He read the note with a small smile before picking up the controller and resuming his zombie-killing spree before he had to have physio (luckily Finn had forgotten to switch the machine off otherwise he would have had to call a nurse into help him, and he wasn't sure what the policy was for electronic games). He was pretty sure that he had the best friend ever.
Rachel looked at herself in the mirror of the girls' toilets, trying to gather the courage for what she was about to do. She had spent the past week splitting her time between school, glee and spending time with Finn. The time she had spent with Finn had mainly been spent visiting Noah- the two boys had shown her how to play some of their video games and she had helped them with their homework (the school had finally gotten around to sending Noah's homework to him and he was incredibly behind). The other members of glee sometimes came and hung out with them, but they had started to get really busy with school work and they had never really been close to Noah, so their visits were getting fewer and fewer.
The only person to stop visiting altogether though was Quinn. She had come up to Rachel a few weeks ago, claiming that Noah had told her not to go back for another visit. She had been sceptical at first, but she had checked with him and he had confirmed that he didn't want to see his ex. She didn't know what had happened between them, but she was determined to fix it. She didn't know a lot about Quinn Fabray, but she did know how to recognise love when she saw it.
She took one last glance in the mirror before leaving the bathroom and heading to the choir room. She had asked Quinn to meet her there under the pretext of fixing the harmony in one of their songs for regionals. Really she just wanted to give the girl a piece of her mind.
Quinn was waiting for her when she arrived, sitting in a chair close to the piano. She was staring at a spot just above the door, looking a little impatient. Rachel cringed inside. She had hoped that Quinn wouldn't get mad at her until after she had started speaking.
"You're late Man-Hands," Quinn said flatly as the brunette walked hesitantly into the room, "Can we get this over with? I have more important things to do than spend my time with you." Rachel bit her lip and continued on her way to the piano, not feeling brave enough to stop directly in front of Quinn.
"Well if you had paid attention during rehearsal like the rest of us, you would have been able to harmonize with the rest of us properly and you wouldn't be here now," she reached the piano and pressed a few keys, considering her words. She hadn't really thought about what she was going to say exactly, just what she needed to say. Now she was wishing she had had a little more prep time to find the right words.
"Whatever, can we just do this so I can go home?" Rachel turned from the piano before taking a seat on the piano bench, facing towards Quinn. She folded her hands on her lap, trying to hide the way that they were shaking a little. She had told Quinn a million times that she wasn't scared of her, but in reality she was really intimidating and Rachel wasn't ashamed to admit that to herself.
"What happened between you and Noah?" she asked before she had the chance to talk herself out of it. Quinn's eyes snapped down to meet hers and Rachel was a little pleased to see that her question had surprised her.
"Wow I really should have known. You just can't mind your own business, can you?" her voice wavered on a couple of the words, which annoyed her to no end. How was she going to convince Rachel that she didn't care about what had happened with Puck if her voice was going to betray her? Rachel was looking at her with so much pity that she almost got up and walked out. But she was Quinn Fabray, and she was above striding out of the room like a drama queen. She would answer the questions and then leave.
"I am offended by your accusation. I am not being nosy. Noah is my friend and I have noticed that ever since you have stopped visiting him he has been... moodier than usual, and considering that Noah tends to brood more than anyone else I've ever met, it's a bit concerning. Finn has been visiting him a lot, which has helped, but I don't think it is enough. I think that you need to visit him again," Rachel had a feeling that Quinn wasn't really listening. She hoped that she could get through to the girl, or at least could get her to open up a little.
"He made it clear that he doesn't want to see me. You don't know the whole story and if you did, you'd agree with him. Just leave it alone," Quinn stood and started to leave the room, convinced that she had made her point. She had almost made it to the door when she felt a small hand tighten around her wrist. She stopped and turned, finding Rachel standing way too close.
"I know you are a proud person Quinn, and that you want to return to being the person you were before Beth," Quinn flinched at the mention of her daughter but Rachel continued without pause, "But I can see that this thing between you and Puck is killing you too. You try to hide it behind a mask of cold anger and icy indifference, but it's easy to see how hurt you are. You are a good person Quinn and it really saddens me to see you self-destruct like this," Rachel sounded so sincere and sympathetic that Quinn had to look away. She had never given the shorter girl any reason to like her and yet... here she was, trying to help in her own way.
"You wouldn't understand," she finally said softly, biting her lip to keep the tears from filling her eyes, "Please just let it go. Some things just don't work out and Puck and I are one of them." Rachel shook her head, still holding tightly onto Quinn's wrist.
"You can at least tell me about it. I know that when I was having problems with Finn it helped me to talk to Kurt and Mercedes. Santana and Brittany are... well, they're Cheerios and I know that you can't talk to them about this. You care too much about your reputation. But even if I did tell anyone anything that you tell me, which I won't, who would believe me? I'm nobody at this school- all people do is laugh at me. They never take anything I say seriously. Your reputation is safe with me," Quinn sighed and Rachel inwardly felt like dancing. She was getting through to her.
"I don't really know what's going on anymore," Quinn admitted, finally giving words to the uncertainty and hurt she had been feeling since she had left Puck's hospital room, "After... after Beth I just couldn't stand being around him because just the sight of him reminded me that I gave my daughter away and I couldn't accept that I had done that. I mean, what kind of person just gives their daughter away to a person they barely know? Puck didn't seem to want to be around me much either, so it was just easier to pretend that it had never happened. And Sam is just so perfect, you know? He just seemed like the perfect way to gloss over the past and start again." Rachel led her over to a couple of chairs and they sat down. Quinn had to admit that it felt good to finally speak to someone about all of this, but at the same time she was unsure about telling all of this to Rachel of all people.
"That sounds reasonable. It must have been awful to give up Beth. You did the right thing though- you and Noah aren't really parent-material right now. Shelby will raise her to be a good person and will give her everything that she needs and you shouldn't be ashamed of your decision. I can't imagine how hard it was for you to do that and I admire you for being strong enough to make the right decision," Quinn flashed a weak smile. She knew that Rachel didn't like her, and so for her to compliment her... it made her almost believe that she wasn't a monster for giving away her daughter.
"It doesn't feel like the right decision most of the time. I know that Puck and I would have made probably the worst parents ever but... maybe we could have made it work. Sometimes I think that he hates me for deciding to give her to Shelby. I know he hates me for choosing Sam," her heart hurt just thinking about it and talking about it made tears flood her eyes. She felt more than a little pathetic, but she couldn't help it. Rachel, for her part, looked like she understood.
"I get it," she said softly, as she pulled a tissue from her pocket and handed it to Quinn, "I mean, I obviously don't know exactly how you feel as I have never had a daughter, but I know what it's like to want to get over someone. I dated Jesse to try to get over Finn and although Jesse was wonderful to me whilst I was with him... I still wanted Finn. Our situations are not the same I know, but I understand why you're with Sam."
"Puck understands too, which makes it harder because..." she trailed off, unable to find the words.
"Because it just shows you how much the two of you are made for each other?" Rachel suggested. Quinn nodded, unable to say anything around the lump in her throat, "So why are you still with him then? It's obvious that you love Noah and you and Sam just don't work."
"I don't really know," Quinn said after a moment, keeping her eyes looking anywhere but towards Rachel, "I don't know if I can handle it and Puck... well, he's so lost right now that I'll probably do more harm than good. I'm better at hurting people than I am at helping them." The confession felt as though a weight was being temporarily lifted from her shoulders, as though she was finally free of herself for the tiniest moment. Rachel stared at her for a long time, and Quinn felt a little nervous.
"I'm sorry; I was waiting for the punch line," Rachel finally said, "That has to be one of the craziest things I have ever heard. While I must admit that you are incredibly good at hurting people- myself included- that is only because you seem to dedicate a lot of time to doing so. You can achieve anything you set out to do- good or evil. That is one of the things that I like about you- you always make sure that you get what you want. As for you being bad for Noah, that's complete bullshit." The fact that Rachel Berry of all people, just swore, was so surprising that Quinn couldn't stop the snort of laughter that escaped her. Rachel looked confused.
"I'm sorry; I never thought I'd hear you swear like that," Quinn apologised, unsure as to when she had started feeling almost comfortable with the situation, "He hates me anyway; the visit to the hospital proved that." Rachel laughed, a high-pitched little giggle, causing Quinn to frown.
"Noah could never hate you," she said as seriously as she could, knowing that she needed to make Quinn believe it for this plan to mean anything, "He has made a lot of mistakes with you in the past and he may resent the fact that you're with Sam now, but I doubt that you could ever do anything that would make him hate you."
"He thinks that I was trying to blackmail him. I- he was having a nightmare, so I woke him up and then later I told him he was lucky that I was alone when I visited and he took it the wrong way. And then he said some things and I couldn't fight back and defend myself and he told me not to come back. I thought that I wanted that- for him to be angry at me and not let me visit- but I can't stop thinking about it and I just want everything to be okay between us again." She stopped before she said anything else. She suddenly realised how much she was saying and more importantly, who she was saying it to.
"You need to break up with Sam," Rachel announced, as though she realised that she was running out of time, "You're not being fair to Sam, Noah or yourself by dating him. I know that he is pretty popular with the footballers and cheerleaders, but there's no point in being Prom Queen if you hate yourself for it. Puck needs you and from what you've just told me, you need him too. I know you don't like me and so you're not likely to take my advice, but I do like you Quinn and Noah is my friend and I just want you two to be happy. The awkward vibe the two of you have going on at the moment is going to mess up glee and with regionals coming up, glee needs to be united." Quinn rolled her eyes as she realised Rachel's intentions weren't exactly unselfish.
"I have to go," Quinn stood up abruptly, and sticking her hands into the pockets of her cheerios jacket so Rachel couldn't grab them. She walked rather quickly to the door, but hesitated before leaving, "If you ever say anything to anyone about what I told you, those stick-figures in the girls' toilets will be the least of your problems." Rachel took a deep breath, trying hard to remember why she was there. Quinn seemed to hesitate again, "But thanks... for listening I guess." She left the room before Rachel could reply.
She stayed seated for a little while after Quinn had left, thinking about what had just happened. She had seen a side of Quinn that the blonde tried to keep hidden away, and she had to admit that she liked that person. Quinn the ice-queen was not very likable as far as Rachel was concerned. The person Quinn had been last year, whilst she had been pregnant, was a much better person, and that was who Rachel felt she had just been talking to. She just wished that Quinn would be that person all of the time.
She also hoped that this conversation would help Quinn make the right choice. She didn't have high hopes about it- she knew that her persuasion skills weren't very good when it came to her peers- but she hoped that Quinn would at least feel better now that she had talked about what was going on.
"Hey Rachel, I've been looking for you everywhere. You coming?" she smiled as Finn appeared in the doorway, his goofy smile making her heart melt a little in her chest. She jumped up, unable to keep a smile of her own off her face.
"Definitely," as she grabbed Finn's hand and left the room, she prayed that her little talk with Quinn wasn't for nothing.
Sam felt more than a little nervous before he entered Puck's hospital room. For one thing, he was pretty sure that he had never been alone with Puckerman before, and he was pretty sure that the other boy wanted to kill him. The other reason why he was nervous was because he was about to question the boy he was sure wanted to kill him about his feelings for his girlfriend.
Sam knew that he wasn't exactly the brightest person in the world- he barely scraped through most of his classes and he had to admit that sometimes he got confused when he tried to read his timetable and ended up in the wrong class- but he thought that even he was smart enough to know when a girl is in love with her ex. And he knew that was what was going on with Quinn. He just wanted to know if the same thing went for Puck so he could break up with Quinn and let the two of them sort things out. He wasn't a bad guy and he didn't want to be the one in the way of something real.
"...and I mean it when I say that you're doing well Noah. This is not easy and your shoulder is barely healed. You shouldn't be ashamed of your progress," Sam paused as he realised that Puck wasn't alone. He couldn't see into the room, but he could hear them. He didn't want to barge in, but he did want to talk to Puck, so he decided that he would just listen a little more to see if the other person would be leaving soon.
"Yeah, I know but I can usually do hours of football training without getting tired and now I fucking move from a bed to a chair and it completely drains me? That's weak," the voice that Sam heard didn't sound much like Puck to his ears. He sounded almost defeated and very subdued- two words that Sam had never associated with the badass bully of McKinley High. It made him feel like he was violating some secret code just by hearing it.
"Noah, your body has been through an immense trauma and that takes time to fix. Your leg is still not completely healed and that is not only making it more difficult for you to get out of bed, but it is also taking up some of your energy for it to heal. You have also been lying pretty still for the past six weeks and so now your body has become used to not having to use as much energy. Give yourself a bit more time to adjust before you criticise yourself too harshly," he could hear a lot of rustling coming from inside the room, and the sound of a bag being zipped up.
"I just want this to be over," Puck admitted quietly. Sam froze. He didn't like the way Puck said that. It was almost as though he was wishing his life was over, and that made Sam feel really uncomfortable. It obviously struck something in the physio or whoever it was in there with him.
"Don't give up," the young woman said, almost pleading with him, "It'll get better, I promise. You're never going to be like you were before, but you have a great loving family and lots of friends who will help you through all of this. You can do this." She and Puck exchanged a few more sentences, but Sam couldn't listen. His mind was racing with the things he had just heard, and he was definitely unsure now of what he was going to say.
"Oh hey, sorry I was running a little late. You can go in and see Noah now if you'd like," a young brunette was suddenly standing in front of him, and he realised that he was half blocking her exit from Puck's room. He smiled apologetically and stepped away so she could leave. He took a deep breath and entered the room.
The first thing he noticed that was different to the last time he had visited, was the wheelchair that was sitting next to the bed. The other thing that was different was Puck himself. Although he looked tired, he was nowhere near as pale as he had been last time Sam had seen him, and the torture device on his leg had been replaced by a normal cast. He frowned as Sam entered the room, looking a little confused to see who was visiting him.
"Hey," he said after he got over his shock- Sam was the last person he had expected to come visit him. Sam looked a little lost reminding him of the time Brittany got lost on the way to school and he had had to go help Santana track her down. He wondered if Sam had gotten lost on his way to somewhere else- at least that would explain why he had turned up in Puck's hospital room alone.
"Hey you have a cast now," Sam felt really uncomfortable- he couldn't really keep still. He wandered slowly into the room and sat down in the chair, but his leg jostled up and down and he couldn't quite get it to stop.
"Yeah they're confident that it's going to heal up pretty soon," Puck said more to avoid an awkward silence more than to keep up the conversation. Sam licked his lips, a habit he had picked up for when he was nervous.
"Are you in love with my girlfriend?" the question blurted out before he could think about it. He was just too uncomfortable with the situation to keep up with the small talk. Puck for his part didn't seem too surprised with the question.
"Does it matter? She's happy with you," Puck figured that if Sam had come to him then he already knew the answer, so there was no point in lying. His feelings had never been the issue- he was sure that everyone knew how he felt about Quinn. It was her feelings that were in doubt, not his. Sam sighed and slumped a little in his seat, as though he had heard an answer he didn't like.
"I'm not a bad guy you know... you were in juvie when I started going after her and I didn't know much about your relationship with her... I mean, I knew about Beth but she said that it was over and she seemed like she was happy with me. But it was a lie- she's not over you and she's not happy with me," it was almost a relief to say those words. It was like he had had an invisible weight on his shoulders that he had forgotten about and those words and just broken the straps that had been keeping it on his back. He had wanted to be popular, and Quinn had given him that, but he realised now that it wasn't worth the price he had to pay.
Puck seemed to be speechless. He couldn't believe that Sam was going to give up on Quinn. She was the perfect girl in his eyes and if he had her, he would never let her go... except that he kind-of already had, if he really thought about it (which he tried not to do- his life was depressing enough without thinking about it).
"She deserves better than me," Puck wasn't sure who was more surprised about the words that had just poured from his mouth- him or Sam- but either way, the words were definitely unexpected. He hadn't meant to say them either. Sam sighed and tilted his head as though he was trying to figure out what Puck meant, so he decided to clarify, "She's Quinn Fabray. She deserves to be with someone who is whole and successful and not some dumbass who will be stuck in Lima for forever." He assumed that he must be tired- that had to be the reason why he was pouring some of his most private thoughts to the Ken doll.
"She loves you," Sam said simply, "I don't really know the how and why, but she really loves you and I can tell that you really love her and therefore you two should be together. She's really upset about everything that has happened to you, which is one reason she hasn't been here I think- but she still loves you- of that I'm sure. I think that she thinks that she's not good enough to help you and that's also why she's staying away. But the most important thing is that you love each other and so you should be together." He wasn't feeling nervous or uncomfortable anymore. Instead, he just felt sorry for his not-quite-friend.
"I don't understand how you can give up on her like this," Puck said in a strangely soft voice. Sam just smiled a little sadly at him as he stood.
"I can't understand why you did either, but I'm not in love with her, and you are, and I think that makes all of the difference," he left the room at that, leaving Puck with his thoughts. He wasn't sure how he really felt about the whole situation yet. Yes, he had just agreed to stop dating Quinn, but he hadn't actually broken up with her yet, and he had a feeling that as soon as he actually did, he wouldn't feel anywhere near as good as he did now.
He sighed and jostled his keys as he walked back to his car. Sometimes he really hated being a good guy.
Puck was really sick of the hospital. He had now been there for just over seven weeks and he was ready to climb the walls. He was sick of watching crappy TV, eating crappy food and being woken up at random times during the night when the nurses would come to check on him.
He hated waking up at 5am for what he called the "pity party"- the time when a doctor would lead a group of interns into his room and get them to read his charts and report on his condition. The interns would all pretend that they weren't feeling sorry for him, but they wouldn't make eye contact and seemed to go out of their way to smile whenever they noticed him watching.
He was sick of physical therapy, especially as he felt that he was achieving nothing. The only thing he felt he had managed to accomplish was that he could now sit up by himself without needing help. Since he had previously been doing that since he was a baby, he didn't feel like it was much of an achievement. His therapists constantly told him that he had accomplished more than just sitting up, but he ignored them. So what if he could move from the bed to his chair? That was just the same as sitting as far as he was concerned. He tended to just tune them all out now whenever they started gushing about what he had 'achieved'.
"...but we need twelve people to perform at regionals and Noah is a vital member of our group! He just needs to sit on the stage and sing, surely that isn't too different from him sitting here in hospital for the day. Please can he come?" he was dragged away from his spiralling self-pity by Rachel's voice. It sounded like she was half demanding- half pleading for him to be able to leave the hospital.
"I don't think you realise just how hard it is for your friend to move around at the minute," one of the various doctors who had consulted on his case at some point replied to Rachel's request/demand, "Technically yes he would just be sitting around, but here in hospital he is just relaxing and therefore not using as much energy. At this point his body is still recovering and although it does not look like it, the body needs a lot of energy for that. At this competition or whatever it is, he will be using the energy he should be recovering with. I just don't know if it is a good idea for that at this point."
Puck felt his heart sink at that. When he had first heard Rachel's demand he had started to become hopeful that he would be able to see something other than white walls and sick people for a little while. Now it didn't look too good.
"I think you're wrong," Puck felt his heart stop for a moment as he recognised Quinn's voice. The blonde cheerleader had stayed away from him since he had told her to leave and as far as he knew she had forgotten about him. Sam's visit had been weird, but he hadn't heard anything about the 'golden couple' since.
"Oh really," the doctor almost sounded curious and Puck had a feeling that he wasn't as opposed to Rachel's plan as his words suggested.
"Look, Puck is... well, he can't stand to be in the same place for more than ten minutes normally, and yet he's been here for two months. He's probably about to go insane from boredom. And he has really high standards about what he can and can't do. He has been allowed to wheel himself around the hospital and move between his bed and the chair, but he hasn't really been allowed out of here. As far as he's concerned, he probably thinks that the only thing he can do now is sit up by himself," he chuckled to himself, scared at how well she seemed to know him, "If he comes to the competition and helps us to win, he'll feel like he's accomplished much more, which he has. It will help him feel more like himself, and I have read that one of the best ways for someone to recover is to feel positive. He's only going to be sitting in his room pitying himself if he doesn't get a chance to get out of here."
Puck wondered if Artie had somehow built Quinn a mind-reading device and she was now using it to read his mind. They hadn't talked in what felt like forever and yet she knew what to say. He suddenly wished that she was next to him so that he could see where all of this was coming from.
"His physical therapists have told me that they are quite worried about his attitude lately," the doctor admitted in a quiet voice that he had to strain to hear, "Look, as far as I'm concerned, he can go. You need to make sure that transportation is arranged though, and he'll need some help getting around, but as long as you can arrange for all of that, I'll sign off on him leaving for the day. It's good to see that he has friends who are willing to fight for this for him." Rachel squealed and he could almost picture her jumping up and down and clapping her hands in delight. He could picture Quinn's smirk and he wished she would hurry up so that he would actually be able to see that spark appear in her eyes.
"Go on Quinn, you go in and tell Noah the good news and I will go with Dr. Gibbons to see what we're going to need to organise. I'm sure that it won't be too different to the arrangements we make for Artie... you see we have another member of our glee club who is handicapable and so..." Rachel's ranting trailed off, presumerably as she and the doctor moved further away from his room.
He expected Quinn to appear any second, so he quickly picked up his sister's gameboy (it was one of the original ones that his mother had picked up really cheap at a garage sale and his sister had told him he could borrow it whilst he was in hospital). He didn't want to make it look like he had listened in on their conversation. He wanted Quinn to think that she was giving him a surprise.
He waited for her to appear, but it seemed like forever between the moment Rachel's voice had faded until the door to his room swung open.
"Hey," she wasn't wearing her Cheerio uniform- that was the first thing that he noticed. Instead she was wearing a dark blue dress and a red cardigan- he knew that he had seen both of them before, but he couldn't remember when. All he knew was that he had thought that she had looked beautiful the first time he had seen her wear it, and that she looked absolutely gorgeous now.
"Hey," the intense joy he had felt only seconds before she had entered the room faded as he felt reality settle in. She was way too good for him. Why would someone as beautiful and perfect as Quinn want to be with someone as damaged as he now was? He wasn't good enough for her and he knew it. It was the strangest feeling in the world- he was happy because she was there and with him in the room, but at the same time he felt heart-broken.
"How are you feeling?" she took a step, but then stopped. It looked as though she wasn't sure if she was welcome in the room. He wanted to look away from her because he knew that if she managed to get a good look at his face she would know, but it was almost as if his eyes had been glued to her face. He automatically put his sister's gameboy back onto the table beside him without moving his gaze.
"Meh, you know, shit happens," he dragged his eyes away from her and gave a casual shrug. He was aware that his words didn't really answer her question, but he didn't really feel like telling her the real story. If he did then she would pity him and then she would try to make him feel better by staying with him and that was just a bad idea. He didn't want her to throw her life away out of pity.
"Stop it," she said softly, taking another step into the room. He couldn't help it- he had to look at her again. The sunlight coming in through the window in his room made her hair glow and she looked more like an angel than he had ever seen before. He had to keep her away from him- he couldn't destroy her life anymore than he already had.
"Stop what? I'm just telling the truth Quinn. You should try it sometime," her name felt strange coming off his tongue and he wondered when the last time he had used her name had been. He had often called her names- Head Bitch, Jesus Freak and Blondie being a few of his favourites- and it felt... weird to call her by her actual name. She flinched a little as his barb hit close to home and he almost regretted saying it. He knew that she hated pretending, but that she did it all of the time. It was one of the things that she hated most about herself.
"You're not telling the truth. You're not lying, but you're not telling the truth either," she hesitated, but took another step, "I just want to know how you're really feeling Noah. No tricks, no lies, just the plain truth for once, okay?" If he had found it strange when he had used her name, hearing her call him Noah almost made him stop breathing. There was just something... he would have said magical, but that sounded so gay, so he went with weird- about the way that she said his name. It made his heart beat a little faster in his chest.
"I can't," the words passed through his lips before he really had a chance to process them and as a result they sounded a lot harsher than he intended. But maybe that was a good thing... if he could get her angry at him, or make her think that he hated her then maybe she would leave. She would tell him about regionals and then leave him alone and they could just avoid each other at glee and she would find another golden boy to date and love and be successful with. And he could just... exist. He would take every day as it came and just make sure that he was still there at the end of the day so he didn't upset his mother and sister anymore than he had to. Maybe, if he was lucky, he would find a girl who was just as damaged as he was, and although he knew he would never be able to love that girl the way he loved Quinn, it might be worth living for.
Quinn took another step into the room, and he saw tears gathered in her eyes. This was why she shouldn't be there. He didn't want to see her cry ever again.
"I don't want to talk to you Quinn. I can't," the words caught in his throat and he didn't know what to say to make her leave. He hoped that what he had said was enough- he prayed that she would believe him. Instead, she took another step closer. She was now close enough that he could smell her perfume.
"You don't have to do this," she told him as he struggled with himself to find the right words to push her away, "I'm not going to listen to you do this." He frowned, unsure of what she meant. How was it that she was so good at reading him, but he had no clue when it came to her?
"I don't want to fucking talk to you," he repeated stubbornly, trying to sound like he meant it. She raised an eyebrow at the curse word, almost as if she was amused that he had used it. He didn't understand.
"I know that you're scared Noah," her voice was controlled, as if she hadn't heard his comment and he realised that she had rehearsed this speech before coming to see him at some point. She was as determined to stay with him as he was to push her away.
"You don't know shit," he kind of figured it was a lost cause, but maybe if he kept on being angry with her, she would lose track of her speech and would be forced out. She shook her head a little, but continued on.
"I know that you're angry and I know that you are lost right now but... you can talk to me. I know that I can't possibly understand everything that you're going through, but I want to. It hurts me to see you lose yourself like this. I need you to be okay," the tears that had been gathering in her eyes were now starting to fall. Each tear that slipped down her cheeks hurt more than what he remembered from the accident. He wanted it to stop- he couldn't take it anymore. He felt something inside him break- nothing physical, but some sort of emotional barrier.
"You need me to be okay? What the fuck does that mean? If you hadn't noticed Quinn I can't do shit anymore. You and Berry just had to argue for ten fricking minutes to get a doctor to agree to allow me to leave this fucking hospital. All I have been able to do for the last two months is pull myself from a bed into a fucking wheelchair and push myself around in it. A fucking three year old can do more than I can right now! How the Hell do you expect me to 'be okay'? How can you tell me that you need me now, when two months ago you couldn't even look at me? Why can't you just leave me alone?" all of the things he had kept inside for the past two months burst out of him all at once and he felt raw and broken as the words poured out.
He didn't know what he had expected Quinn to do when he fired all that at her, but she didn't leave like he had hoped. She sniffed and pulled a tissue out of the small bag that he hadn't noticed was hanging from her shoulder. She wiped quickly at her eyes with it before looking at him again. She had obviously not expected him to explode like that at her- or maybe she had and she was just taking up time to figure out how to reply. He felt tears in his eyes and he looked down so that he could quickly wipe them away. The last time he had cried had been when Beth had been born. He hadn't cried since and it annoyed him to no end that it had to happen now, when she was in the room.
"You're still here and that's a lot more than a three year old could accomplish if they had been through what you have," she took another few steps. She was now close enough that he could touch her if he wanted to. He kept his arms still, resisting the urge to pull her in close that he always felt whenever she was near him, "I know that you think that you are broken and screwed- but you've always thought of yourself that way. You think that you've become less of a person because you can't walk and... that's just totally stupid okay? When I said that I need you to be okay, I meant that I need you to realise that you are still you. You are still the guy baked drug-filled cookies to try and earn money for his baby girl. You are still the guy who helps his baby sister with her homework every day. You are still the guy who makes fun of Rachel whenever she sings love ballads, but would defend her in a second from guys like Karofsky. You are still Beth's father and you are still the guy that managed to talk me into sleeping with you when I was committed to being celebate. Just because you can't walk doesn't mean you aren't you anymore."
She had hesitated before saying Beth's name, and as always the name made his heart feel hollow. He looked away from her, feeling confused and hurt and angry and happy and sad and a whole host of other emotions that he couldn't name. He understood what she was saying, but it was too much. It wasn't true. He couldn't be that guy anymore because that guy knew where he was going in life, and now he had no idea.
His heart literally skipped a beat as he felt her take his hand in hers. He wished he had the strength to pull away and set her free, but he couldn't. He was too drained.
"Why are you here?" he finally asked after a few moments, trying desperately to pull himself together. He looked back at her, and forced himself to look into her eyes so that he could see the truth. Her smile was sad, but at the same time she looked... almost as if she was at peace with something.
"Ever since that day at the hospital with... with Beth I've been..." she trailed off and looked at the floor, suddenly uncertain. She hadn't rehearsed this part of her speech it seemed, "You know how I've been. I've been avoiding you and pretending to be with Sam and pretending to be happy and together but... I've only been pretending. I feel... well, I felt broken, like a piece of me was missing and was going to be missing forever, you know?"
He nodded. That was how he felt about Beth sometimes too. She took a breath before continuing.
"At first I blamed you but really... it was just that you reminded me of that piece that was missing and it just hurt so much that I had to push you away. But that didn't really help and in some ways it made it worse. I thought that if I pretended everything was okay it would be okay, but every day since then it's like the hole in my heart has been getting bigger. I didn't want to admit it because then I would have to admit to myself that I had made another mistake and giving up Beth was already bad enough...
Anyway, then your accident happened and when Santana told us that you were in hospital and really close to dying, I swear the world stopped. I thought that nothing could be worse than giving up Beth, but the thought of you dying was just..." more tears flooded down her cheeks as she relived the memory, and he found himself unintentionally squeezing her hand to reassure her that he was still there. She wiped her eyes quickly and he could tell that she had been holding all of this in for a long time. He said nothing and allowed her to continue.
"I've been in denial ever since the day we got together I think. I kept telling myself that I felt nothing for you, that I had only slept with you because I felt fat that day and the alcohol, but we both know that that wasn't the reason. That day in the hospital when you told me that you loved me... I freaked. I thought that you couldn't possibly love me, especially as I was giving our daughter away. I knew that you deserved someone better than me so I pushed you away. I know you deserve someone who isn't as broken as I am but I was stupid for being so scared back then. I need to tell you what I should have said then: I love you Noah," she stopped and took a breath before smiling and saying again slowly, "I love you."
He froze. He didn't know what to do. At her words his heart had started to race and he felt better than he had in months... but this was all wrong. She deserved better. She couldn't love him... he would only hurt her if their history was anything to go by.
"I-I... fuck... I can't. Please Quinn... I-"
He was cut off from protesting further as she leant over and pressed her lips against his. All thoughts of protesting died- hell his mind went completely blank- as he felt her lips make contact with his. All he could feel was the intensity of her emotions as she kissed him. A sense of peace that had been missing seemed like eternity but still felt like too short a time, she pulled back. He was still speechless from what had just happened.
"You were saying?" she asked cheekily after she got a look at the shocked expression on his face. She looked so happy that he hadn't rejected her or pushed her away and he couldn't find the words or the will to do so.
"I don't deserve you," he said instead, giving up on his mission to make her leave, "I-I don't know what I'm doing anymore and that scares the Hell out of me." She squeezed his hand, like he had done a few moments ago for her.
"If it helps, I thought that I knew what I was doing last year, when I was going out with Finn. I thought that I was going to marry Finn and live here in Lima and become a real estate agent and Finn would take over Kurt's dad's garage or something like that. I thought that that was how my life was going to go and it would be one big fairytale and I would be happy," he felt the guilt start to take over his heart. It was his fault that she wasn't going to get her fairytale ending with Finn.
"I'm sorry," he said quickly, pulling his hand from hers and looking away. It was his fault that she was broken. He heard her sigh before feeling her hand on his chin as she pulled his head around to face her.
"As I was saying, I thought it would be a fairytale. But I felt nothing for Finn- well, I loved him, but it's more like he's the brother I never got to have. As cliché as this sounds, I didn't really know what love was supposed to feel like until the day we slept together. We had never really talked before then, but when I was talking to you at the party I felt more alive than when I ever talked to Finn. I knew the moment we started talking that my plan was going to fall apart, and it scared the Hell out of me and that is why it took me so long to tell you how I feel. What I'm trying to say is that no one knows what they are doing. Yes you have to change your life plan a lot right now, but you're not alone. I can help you figure it out," she was still holding his head in place, so he was staring into her eyes. He knew that she meant every word that she said.
"You're fucking amazing, did you know that?" she laughed and kissed him again quickly on the lips, almost as if it was something she hadn't been able to resist. When she pulled away, he grabbed her hand and pulled her down so that she was sitting next to him on his bed. He wrapped his arm around her shoulder and she rested her head on his shoulder. He rested his head on her head, just wanting to keep her close, "I get what you're saying." He said once she was settled, "I really do but I'm probably not going to, you know, believe it all of the time. I'm probably going to yell at you a lot and do some stupid shit 'cause that's what I generally do but... I meant it when I told you that I love you, you know?"
She snuggled closer to him, almost as if she was trying to climb inside his skin or something. He loved it. He may have lost all feeling in his legs, but he had never felt as alive as when she was next to him.
"Yeah well, it's a good thing I'm not going anywhere so I can yell at you when you do stupid shit then, right?" he kissed her forehead and squeezed her closer. They stayed like that, talking for a while about everything that had happened over the past year. He knew that he still had a long way to go with getting on with his life and his recovery, but now he knew that he didn't have to do it alone. He knew it wasn't going to be easy, but with Quinn, his family and the rest of glee helping him out, he had a feeling that he was going to be fine.
When Rachel came into his room a few hours later to make sure that he was up-to-date with all of the songs and harmonies for regionals, she found the two of them curled up on his bed, fast asleep. Instead of lecturing them on wasting valuable rehearsal time- it was only three o'clock in the afternoon and regionals were only two days away- she quickly snapped a picture on her phone and crept out of the room. It looked like glee club was back on track for winning Nationals after all.
Litanya: Okay... so that was a little longer than I expected. Sorry about the wait Steph- I hope you enjoyed reading it and I'm really sorry that it is so late! I'll make it up to you, I swear. I know that everyone was pretty OOC, but that's more my writing than anything. I really miss Quick on the show and I can't wait till it comes back next season, so they can get the Quick back on track. Please let me know what you thought. This is my first Glee fic, so please keep that in mind. Have a great night/day/afternoon =).