Disclaimer: I own nothing. All belongs to Glee writers and creators.
A Little Lamb
The moment Beth Puckerman-Fabray was born she was being compared to her mother. It was only in looks, at that point. After all, infants don't have much noticeable personality right away, so the only thing people could say was that she looked just like her mother and she seemed to have an affinity for the smell of bacon. She wasn't allowed to eat it at such a young age, of course, but the minute her grandmother had the delectable meat cooking on the stove for her daughter, Beth would perk up or wake up, her bright little eyes would shine, and she would squirm like crazy until she was in the kitchen with that cooking meat.
As she grew older, it became evident that this particular trait wasn't going away. It also became apparent that she had a bit of her father in her, looks wise. Where before people had only seen the warm hazel eyes, a bit more gold than her mother's but close nonetheless, the high cheekbones, plump pink lips, angular jaw, and perfect little nose, now the dark brown shades of her father's hair started to capture attention, along with the higher brow and the same round chin. Most people still claimed she looked just like her mother, though at four years old, it was harder to deny just where that smirk came from. The eyebrows were all her mother's, though.
And personality wise? Well, there was no denying that this was Quinn Fabray's daughter.
Beth had started out hating absolutely everyone but her mother, father, and grandmothers. If she was handed to anyone else, even for a moment, she threw a fit until she was back in acceptable arms. She didn't particularly like being touched, either—particularly by strangers, but even her parents and grandparents weren't always welcome to put a hand on her without backlash—and most toys she was bought ended up on the floor. Occasionally covered in spit, because she was, after all, still a baby who liked to test everything out with her mouth. The one toy she had never cast out of her sight (in fact, she couldn't even sleep without it) was a small stuffed lamb with a red ribbon around his neck by the name of Tony, which happened to be her third full word (the first being 'mama' and the second 'daddy'). No one was quite certain where she'd gotten the name, though one particular glee club member privately thought it was an obvious sign of Beth's potential as a future star.
Suffice it to say that Beth Puckerman-Fabray didn't trust easily, didn't enjoy unwarranted physical contact, and was not exactly the most playful in nature. But perhaps the most obvious sign that this was Quinn Fabray's daughter was the way in which she dealt with others. Aside from her father, she treated the glee club members she grew up with in much the same manner as her mother did. Most everyone was treated with a sort of civil wariness, but there were a few exceptional people in the group.
On the surface, Finn Hudson appeared to be one of her favorite people, but as she grew older, it became evident that she merely enjoyed bossing him around. As soon as she learned to walk, he became her monkey to drag everywhere she went, and whenever she had an opportunity to outsmart him, she would take it without hesitation.
Mercedes Jones actually was one of her favorite people. It took Mercedes serving Beth her first strip of bacon for it to happen, but from then on the little brunette considered Mercedes a goddess among mortals. She was dubbed most affectionately 'An' 'Cedes.' Brittany Pierce won Beth's heart the minute she let her pet her kitty, and though the little girl seemed just as confused as everyone else when Brittany spoke, she was on par with Mercedes in Beth's world.
Kurt Hummel became Beth's favorite cuddle buddy (outside of her parents), much to his amazement, after an afternoon nap ended with her waking against his arm. Sam Evans was just about the only person who could make Beth laugh without even trying. Of course, when he did try, it failed to elicit anything but one of those eyebrows, but Beth enjoyed him nonetheless.
Santana Lopez may possibly have had the most unpredictable relationship with Beth out of anyone. Santana didn't know how to handle babies, and Beth just didn't seem to like the look of her. Thus began a long game of warfare wherein Beth did whatever she could to trick, manipulate, and prank Santana while the Cheerio caught her at every turn. It wasn't until the first time Santana and Brittany entered a room linking pinkies, oddly enough, that Beth grew a grudging respect for her and they occasionally shared in a smirk at others' expense, much to everyone else's disconcertion.
But it was Beth's relationship with one Rachel Berry that reminded everyone the most of Quinn.
She absolutely, positively, straight up hated her. From the first time she was put in Rachel's arms, she couldn't stand her. She threw the biggest fits in her arms, played the most pranks on her, and used that oh-so effective glare she'd inherited from her mother almost nonstop when Rachel was in her vicinity. Sometimes even in the room. She didn't like it when anyone else paid any mind to her, either, especially boys, and when she was younger and less well behaved, she'd go to great lengths to see that it didn't happen: throwing fits, throwing things, pulling hair. Whatever worked, she would do it.
It was only when her defenses were lowered that Beth put up with Rachel at all. She often ended up in Rachel's arms during a nap, because she was the only one she wouldn't squirm and kick with besides Quinn and Puck. And when she was still groggy, she would even smile and nuzzle into Rachel's embrace, soak up her scent and fall back to sleep. But as soon as she was fully awake, aware of just exactly what she was doing? She threw an absolute fit when she was younger, and at an older age she'd simply jump to the floor and storm out in a rage.
And Rachel took it all, everything, with a good-natured smile and the occasional muttered comment: "Just like her mother."
Of course, being Rachel Berry, she never gave up hope that she would eventually win the child over. She had good relationships with all the children she had met, after all. Her cousin Leon absolutely adored her, and besides, Puck loved her and Quinn had eventually grown tolerant of her, why shouldn't Beth?
This positive attitude annoyed Beth to no end, which of course didn't lessen the resemblance between mother and daughter one bit.
Quinn supposed it was just fortunate that Beth wasn't yet at the age where being like her mother was viewed as a bad thing, otherwise her little girl would probably self-destruct from trying to dodge all the habits she had unintentionally picked up on. As it was, Beth was proud to be like her mother; she was desperate to be like her in every way, in fact, so much so that when Quinn started college in Connecticut a year after graduation and the move there, she begged to start school herself. Quinn couldn't bring herself to tell her the truth, that she had no idea how much she would hate it once she actually got there, and instead assured her they would wait a year and then decide if she was ready to enter.
Puck, on the other hand, had no such reservations, and so Quinn found herself rolling her eyes at her roommate's exaggerated depictions of the hell they went through while they swung Beth between them on the way to meeting Rachel at the park. Rachel had, of course, headed off to NYADA practically minutes after graduation, though she made it a point to visit the three of them every spring break to give Beth a birthday gift and spend some time with Puck. This year was no exception, of course, despite the fact that her career was steadily building and she was doing almost seven shows a week now on a reprisal of RENT. It was reassuring that after all these years Rachel was still as reliable as ever.
"Ooh, I know that look," Puck purred, breaking Quinn out of her reverie abruptly. Her smile instantly dropped when she saw his eyebrows waggle. "You thinking about that waitress last night? Man, she had such a tight—"
"Puck. Do try to remember our five year old daughter's presence before you start talking in the future," she said icily, and he glanced down between them at a frowning Beth.
He grinned and ruffled her hair. "Oh, yeah. Sorry, squirt."
Beth's response to this was to let out an indignant huff and pet down her hair, releasing his hand but keeping a hold on her mother's while she asked, "What did the waitress have?"
Puck floundered, looking to an unhelpfully amused Quinn for aid. When he received nothing but a raised eyebrow and a smirk, he stammered, "Um…a tight…uh…shift, honey. She had a tight shift."
Beth's mouth was instantly set in a thin line. "What does that mean?"
"It means she had a lot of tables to serve, she was really busy," he replied, gulping. Beth's head tilted uncertainly, but luck was on his side evidently, because not a moment later he was exclaiming, "Hey, there she is! Hey, Rachel!" and scurrying off to greet her.
Quinn started after him, only to be met by resistance when Beth planted her feet firmly on the ground and scowled. All Quinn could do was sigh and raise an expectant brow at her daughter.
"Do we have to see her?" she grumbled, and Quinn rolled her eyes at her petulance.
"Yes, Beth. She came all the way from New York City to come visit you and your dad, the least you can do is say hello."
"So if I say hello we can go?" she asked hopefully.
Quinn could only sigh and wonder if she had ever been this ridiculous in her adamant dislike of Rachel. That train of thought was cut off fairly quickly.
"Whyyy?" Beth whined, even stomping her foot a little. "Why can't you and me just go and Daddy can talk to her? It's not like you like her, either."
Quinn pulled up short, frowning down at her daughter. "That's not true."
"Then how come you don't talk to her?" she retorted pointedly, folding her arms.
"Uh…" she fumbled, licking her lips in the search for words. "Well…."
Luck was definitely on the parental end today, because at that moment, Puck and Rachel completed their greetings and spinning hugs and came wandering over, smiles all around.
"Hey, Beth!" Rachel called, a big grin on her face.
Beth just rolled her eyes and huffed. From her understanding, five years was a very long time. Wasn't it about time Rachel gave up? Of course, she didn't, just smiling at her before she turned her attention briefly to Quinn.
"Hello, Quinn. It's good to see you," she said pleasantly.
Beth watched with narrowed eyes as her mother gave a short nod and said only, "You, too."
"See?" she exclaimed, and all three adults shot her startled looks, to which she offered no explanation but folded arms and a huff of irritation.
Quinn shot a glance Rachel's way, forcing a smile and chuckle out nervously when she felt a faint blush start to rise up in her cheeks. Rachel smiled back briefly, brushing her long brunette hair behind her ear when the wind whipped it into her face before digging into the pockets of her blue winter jacket.
"I have your birthday present, Beth," Rachel offered, sinking into a crouch in front of the scowling little brunette. "Would you like to open it now or save it for later? Or you can wait until your birthday if you like, my feelings won't be hurt." She smiled widely.
Beth grumbled under her breath for a moment before holding out a little hand, as if to say 'just give it here', and Quinn had to fight the urge to laugh when she glanced over and caught Puck miming a Valley Girl hair toss and mouthing, 'whatever' at her. A grin split her lips nonetheless, though she tried to hide it behind her wind-chapped hand.
Rachel produced a neatly wrapped package from her pocket and handed it over to the apathetic little girl, and Quinn again had to fight her amusement when she saw that the printing of 'happy birthday' was perfectly aligned with the top left corner of the box.
Beth snatched the box away and irreverently tore into the packaging to find a slim black jewelry box. She popped it open with obvious irritation at having to go through yet another level, only to stop short when she found a small silver tiara resting on a green faux velvet platter. Her hazel eyes glittered and her pink lips disappeared as she tried her best to smother a smile, but all three of them caught it anyway, and Rachel straightened with a satisfied expression.
Puck whistled low and long as he peered at it over Beth's shoulder. "Wow, that's quite a beauty, Rach."
Quinn silently agreed, watching the way the sunlight reflected the sparkling little crown, making her little girl's face glow despite herself.
Rachel shrugged and smiled. "I wasn't entirely certain if Beth's interests tended this way, but I decided to take a chance. I thought it could perhaps be the start of her own tiara collection," she said lightly, but there was a teasing glint in her eye and to her smile that had Quinn fighting to look anywhere but at her, blushing with embarrassment in recalling her desperation to win prom queen because it would be her only accomplishment not involving a baby's vomit that year.
Of course, Beth never missed a thing, and as soon as she picked up on the undertones to the conversation, she was asking her mother sharply, "You have one, Mom?"
Quinn couldn't seem to even think properly with Rachel looking at her like that, so she only nodded, and Puck filled in for her with a cheesy grin. "The biggest one you've ever seen, honey. Wall-to-wall. It's like a friggin' museum; you should see it sometime when we visit Granny Fabray."
"Shut up," Quinn grumbled, nudging him with her foot. He only smirked.
Beth glanced from him to her mother to the tiara before she looked at it closely and nodded, as if this bit of information confirmed that she would be graciously accepting this gift. Rachel smiled.
Beth closed the box and looked up to her mother, carefully handing her new gift over to her as she asked, "Can I go play now?"
Quinn accepted the box just as delicately as it was being handed over, humoring her, but instantly arched an eyebrow. "What do you say to Rachel?"
As soon as the huff passed her lips, Quinn knew that her opinion of Rachel hadn't changed a bit, and she wished that Beth hadn't inherited her stubbornness. Rachel didn't look surprised, only smiling warmly down at Beth as she turned, looked up at her, and grumbled, "Thank you."
"You're welcome," Rachel said easily.
"That's better," Quinn scolded severely before softening. "Yes, you can go play, but stay where we can see you and don't get your dress dirty, we're going to dinner later."
"Yes, Mom!" Beth called over her shoulder, already pulling Tony from his hiding place in her pocket and trotting happily toward the swing set.
Beth settled her bottom down on one of swings, placing Tony safely in her lap before she started pumping her legs as hard as she could to get it going. Usually Daddy or Mom would give her a push to get her going because her legs weren't long enough to reach the ground yet, but she was getting closer, she was sure of it.
She didn't get why Mom didn't like her idea of the two of them taking off so Daddy could have time with Rachel. It wasn't even a selfish idea, because Dad could still spend time with Rachel. He obviously liked her, for reasons beyond Beth, so he could have his time (as long as it wasn't long) and Mom and Beth could have some mom and daughter time. They were always going on about how important it was that she have individual time with both of them because they wouldn't always be living together because someday they would both find ladies they really loved and they would want to be with them and not stay roommates. Of course, Mom always said that Dad would just want to have his 'bachelor pad' free, not that he would find a lady like Mom.
And it wasn't even like Mom really liked Rachel. She could hardly say two words to her, and people always said she treated Rachel like Mom did. So that must mean she didn't like her, too. Even now, she wasn't even talking to Rachel, she was just sort of standing there while Daddy talked to her, and staring at her a lot, but Mom was a really good listener, even to people who talked as much as Rachel.
Beth shook her head clear. Sometimes she just didn't get adults. She worked harder at pumping her legs, trying to get enough momentum to jump. She had made it as far as the pole last week when Mom took her, so she wanted to try it again. She stood on her tippy-toes to get a running start, taking care to make sure Tony didn't fall out of her lap, and started swinging as hard as she could before taking the leap with a squeal. She tried to grab Tony midair, but he slipped past her fingers and hit the ground just after her feet landed in the dirt. She hurried to snatch him up and brush him off, but just as she reached him, a shadow appeared and he was snatched up from the ground by grubby fingers.
Well, that was just rude. She lifted herself up to put her hands on her hips like she saw her mom do when she was super mad and gave her best glare to the boy who had stolen Tony. He smirked at her.
"Give that back," she ordered in her most grownup voice.
He just chuckled, tossing Tony casually in the air. Her breath hitched, but the boy caught him.
"Why should I?"
"He's mine, idiot," she snapped, reaching a hand out for Tony's safe return to her arms. She wasn't supposed to say 'idiot', she knew, because it was mean, but she felt that accurately described this guy.
"I grabbed him first," he retorted.
She raised her eyebrow. "So?"
"So grabbers keepers, losers weepers," he replied, chuckling, and walked away.
She was hot on his heels. "That's not even the way it goes, dumbhead!" she exclaimed, reaching to grab Tony, but the boy was too tall and held him just out of reach, laughing while she tried to jump to catch him. "Give him back!"
"You want him?"
"Yes! That's what I've been saying!"
"Fine." The boy grinned and flipped Tony in his hands. "Go get him."
And then he threw him into a tree. Beth gasped, appalled, and ran to catch Tony, but he never fell. She peered up into the tree and saw him hanging on for dear life on a branch, and immediately glared at the boy, who was openly laughing at her. Until she fumed, clenched her fists, stomped her foot, and charged at him with a bellow of, "You idiot! Look what you did!"
He paled then and started scrambling away, and she glared after him, calling, "You better run!" before returning her attention to poor Tony, who looked absolutely terrified. She wasn't sure how she was going to do it, but she would get him down if it killed her. She just wasn't exactly sure how to climb the tree. None of the branches were low enough for her to reach, but she would sure try. She started to wrap her fingers around some of the bark, but yelped with surprise when strong arms wrapped around her and scooped her up, relaxing when she realized it was Mom.
"Mommy, that boy threw Tony in the tree! I have to get him, he's scared!" she explained rapidly, pointing to where the lamb was hanging.
"I know, baby, we'll get him down," she assured her, kissing her hair and stroking her back. It did help, especially when she gave her a great big hug, until she got all tense and cried, "Rachel, be careful!"
Beth jerked her head up from her mother's neck and looked around wildly. Daddy was nowhere in sight, but Rachel was hoisting herself up on the lowest branch and Beth's breath hitched when she wobbled. That looked like a really long way to fall now that she thought about it. Poor Tony!
"I am," Rachel grunted, pulling herself up another level, and Beth felt Mom grip her even tighter as she carried her to the bottom of the tree.
Rachel was going really slow, so Beth knew she was being careful. She paused every time she moved a hand or a foot and made sure she had a good grip before she moved on, and finally made it to the branch where Tony was hanging. Beth and Mom gasped at the same time when it looked like Rachel would fall, but she caught herself and stretched out on the branch, scooting along it until she just managed to grab Tony from where he was dangling. Beth fought the urge to squeal and clap, because Rachel still had to get back down.
She eased back along the branch and did around the world with her legs like they did in horseback riding lessons until she was facing the tree, still holding Tony tight in one hand. Then she grabbed the branch above her and started to swing down, and Beth felt Mom's heartbeat under her hand it was pounding so hard now. She patted her hair in a soothing manner while they watched Rachel get to the last branch, and then Mom set her down and rushed forward to help Rachel the rest of the way, grabbing her around the waist to make sure she landed on her feet okay.
They stood there for a minute looking at each other and Mom turned all red before Rachel said, "Thank you" and smiled and then she brushed Tony off and walked toward Beth, who ran toward her and reached up for the lamb eagerly. Rachel handed him right over with a smile and said, "There you go. Safe and sound."
Beth couldn't believe it. Rachel had saved Tony! There wasn't even a scratch on him! She hugged him tight and then beamed up at Rachel, who looked kind of surprised, but smiled back. The surprised look came right back when Beth hugged her around her legs though, and started spewing as fast as she could, "Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!"
She felt a hesitant hand pat her head and grinned, nuzzling into Rachel's legs. Rachel did always smell nice. Like almonds and fireplaces.
"You…you're welcome, Beth. It was my pleasure," she said uncertainly, and Beth just squeezed tighter.
"Whoa, Leg Wrangler, let the woman catch her balance," Dad's voice announced, and Beth reluctantly pulled back to grin up at him and then Rachel.
"You find his parents?" Beth heard Mom ask lowly, and Dad replied, "Yeah, he won't be leaving his room for a week."
She scowled at them, because they weren't paying attention to the important part. "Rachel saved Tony, you guys!" she reminded them.
Dad grinned at her. "She sure did. Way to go, Dwarf. Santana won't believe you climbed a tree."
Rachel just rolled her eyes with a smile, but Beth stomped her foot, clearing her throat pointedly at her mother.
"Mom." She folded her arms. "What do you say to Rachel?"
Mom was all red again, and Dad and Rachel laughed.
"Um. Thank you, Rachel. That was very sweet of you; I know Beth appreciates it, but you could've waited for a ladder." She started off quiet and sincere and went all sharp and scolding like when Beth did something like put her finger on the stove and she was all worried and stuff. Rachel didn't look offended, but Beth still had to frown at her mother.
"Now I see why you don't talk to her," she observed, and then turned to grin up at Rachel and grabbed her hand. "Are you coming to dinner with us, Rachel?"
She faltered and looked at Dad, who shrugged and grinned, and then Mom, who was all red again. Beth was getting a little worried about that, but she tugged impatiently at Rachel's hand.
"If your parents don't mind, I can meet you guys there," Rachel agreed, glancing at them again. "I just have to run back to the hotel and change into something that doesn't have tree bark in it."
Beth smiled widely. "Good, you're coming."
Dad chuckled. "We'll see you in an hour, Rach?"
She nodded and smiled, and then Dad tugged at Beth's hand.
"Come on, squirt, we've got to get to the bank before they close."
"Just a minute!" Beth pulled her hand away and tugged on Rachel's, urging her down to her level. Rachel smiled warmly at her and Beth grinned right back and said impishly, "Can I tell you a secret?"
Rachel's eyes twinkled and it made her look so pretty Beth was practically bouncing with eagerness. She nodded once, and Beth wrapped her arms around her neck, bringing Tony around to hug her, too, as she whispered in her ear, "You're awesome."
And then trotted away as fast as she could, pulling her parents along with her. When they were far enough away, she looked back to see Rachel wearing a pretty, happy grin and a blush, and she glanced up at her stoic mother. She tugged at her hand, grabbing her attention.
"You should like Rachel, too, Mom. I don't see why you don't."
And she skipped ahead with a smile, missing the knowing look her dad shot her mother, and the resulting blush painted on her mother's cheeks.
The odd thing was that it later turned out that when Beth blushed, she didn't look like Quinn or Puck, but rather like one Rachel Berry.