Racing Against the Sun
The pregnancy is easy. Really easy, in comparison to her first. She has morning sickness for a few weeks and only in the morning, there's only one really weird craving (mashed potatoes and cooked spinach, mixed together) and the back pain and swelling of the ankles that apparently is inescapable.
Rachel's and Sam's genes are apparently much more compatible than hers and Puck's.
They decide to name him Lucas Leroy Fabray and call him Luke for short. Leroy is pretty pleased at the tribute.
He comes early. Two weeks early to be precise, and Quinn is a little bit frantic about it. She's just happy that it's a Monday and Rachel is right beside her on the couch when her water breaks.
Getting to the hospital is the easy part even though Rachel is yelling at the cabbie to drive faster.
Her doctor isn't there. She's in labor early and her doctor isn't there, he's in New Jersey stuck in horrible weather and traffic. The replacement doctor is some young kid and she doesn't trust him at all. He's more nervous than she is and his hands are shaking.
She doesn't have a choice though. Luke isn't waiting. He wants out immediately.
Rachel is behind her, bracing her and holding her hands and whispering sweet things in her ear. Luke is a lot bigger than Beth was, or at least, that's what it feels like.
"He's crowning!" the nurse announces, and suddenly Quinn feels like her muscles are made of water.
"Almost there baby, just a little more," Rachel whispers in her ear. Quinn can feel her wife's hands squeeze hers through the pain.
"I can't. I can't do it."
"Yes you can. He's almost here baby."
She thinks she hears one of the nurses off to the side whisper "He should've done a C-section. This baby is huge," but she can't be entirely sure. Her body is surrounded in a haze of torture. She's stretched to her farthest reaches and she feels like she's about to break.
"Someone get me the forceps!"
There's a series of crashes and clangs that register on the edge of her awareness. She's screaming. She can't see anything but the blinding white of the lights in the room and the reflections off of all the instruments.
The pain changes suddenly, from the determined ache of her muscles trying to do hard work to a searing, splitting pain. It's how she imagines being stabbed and sliced open would feel. She's screaming, the nurses and doctor and Rachel are yelling, and above it all she hears the cries of a baby.
And then everything goes black.
Quinn wakes with a whimper of pain.
"Oh God, you're awake."
Quinn feels Rachel hit her chest before she even has her eyes completely open. The force of the embrace knocks the air right out of her.
"I could have killed that fucking doctor. He just wrenched Luke right out of you."
"Is he okay?" Her voice is scratchy and it hurts to talk. Her throat is on fire, probably because of the horrifying screech she had emitted right before she passed out. The memory makes her shiver.
Rachel pulls away with a hearty sniff and wipes happy tears from her cheeks. "He's fine. The nurses held me back."
Quinn has to smile. "I meant Luke."
Rachel beams and takes a seat on the edge of the bed. "He's perfect. Big and healthy. Cross-eyed, but the doctors say that's normal. He's in the nursery right now."
"I want to see him."
Rachel has their beautiful dark headed boy in her arms less than ten minutes later. He is huge, and she can definitely see why she felt that tearing pain.
"I love you so much Luke," she tells him. Rachel bites her lip and smiles at the same time, tears drawing at the corners of her eyes, and Luke takes one of her fingers in one of his little hands and grips it tight.
Everything is fine for the first two months. Their pediatrician waved away their concerns with "Everyone develops differently. He's still in the range of normal development."
It all changes when Luke has a seizure during one of his checkups. Quinn doesn't even realize that's what's going on. She's used to the way Luke will suddenly go a little limp after tensing up. She just thought he was trying to lift his head or roll over and then got tired.
"Does he do that often?" the doctor asks suddenly, cutting off midsentence from what he had been saying. His tone immediately makes Quinn panic.
The doctor is up and next to her in two quick steps, his pen light out already. Quinn allows him to maneuver Luke's head and shine the light in his eyes. He takes the baby from her and lays him on the examination table and then takes Luke's hands in his. He pulls the boy up that way and then lets his hold slacken just enough.
Most babies would react. They would cry or move or something. Luke doesn't do anything.
"He's having a seizure."
Quinn's heart jumps in to her throat. "What do we do?" she asks franticly. Just as she asks Luke starts to fidget again. He clenches his fists and kicks his legs.
When the doctor hands him back she holds him as close as she can, her heart pounding and her lungs drawing in air quickly. She doesn't realize she's crying until the doctor hands her a tissue.
"I'm going to need to ask you a few questions."
Quinn nods and wipes away her tears. She wishes Rachel was there instead of on stage.
There's no history of Epilepsy in her family or Sam's. When the doctor asks about her delivery and she tells him about the way the delivering doctor pulled Luke out he hums and writes a few things down.
The look on his face is grim. Quinn can't breathe again.
Luke gets a handful of new doctors along with a diagnosis within two weeks.
Dystonic Cerebral Palsy.
Their doctor explains it to both of them (Rachel insisted that her understudy take her place for the matinee.) in his office. It's easy enough to understand, and with the scans of his brain as visual aids there's really not much he has to explain.
"It's likely that the delivery is the cause. I can find no evidence that this happened during gestation. According to your account of the events, I believe that the delivering doctor pulled too hard or exerted too much force on your son's head. Only about four percent of cases occur during birth, and I regret to say that his case is very severe."
"I'm going to sue that fucking quack doctor," Rachel growls. Quinn is numb, she recognizes Rachel's anger, but she can't join in with her own.
"You would have a good case," the doctor agrees.
"What's going to happen to Luke?" Quinn interrupts before anything more severe can be discussed. Rachel is distracted by the thought as well and she goes from gripping the arms of her chair to holding Quinn's hands between hers.
"With the proper care and treatment it is possible that he can live a full life. I doubt that he will learn to speak very clearly, but it is possible that he could walk, if not on his own then with the help of a walker. I have no reason to believe that he is mentally deficient at this point, but that might have to be revisited once he's a little older. His seizures are currently the most pressing matter."
A whole series of new appointments are booked that day and Luke gets three new therapists, and four new doctors, along with an entire medicine cabinet dedicated to him.
Because of the diagnosis, they don't get a regular nanny. They hire a nurse instead. His name is Jake and he's twenty something and handsome. Rachel thought it would be a good idea to get a male nurse since Luke doesn't have much interaction with men. Quinn just shrugged. She doesn't care either way, as long as the nurse is smart and good with Luke.
She just wants to get back to work. She hates herself for wanting time away from her child, but she needs a break.
Rachel understands. She didn't take maternity leave, just two weeks off after Luke was born, and then she was back to her usual schedule. She doesn't have to deal with every single worry at every single moment like Quinn does.
They don't sue the doctor, even though doing so would probably pay Luke's medical bills for a while. A law suit is just too time consuming and stressful and they have a baby that they need to focus on. Quinn talks Rachel down eventually and they just let it go. Suing him won't fix their kid, and it won't make them feel better.
When Luke reaches eight months it becomes clear that his eyes aren't going to uncross on their own. They get the surgery to remove the folds of skin at the corners of his eyes and he doesn't even have to spend the night at the hospital.
Quinn is glad. She's tired of having to see her boy lying in a hospital bed instead of his crib.
All their friends coo over how handsome he is and he tracks every movement perfectly. Rachel cries quietly when she notices it. Quinn takes her wife in her arms and they just hold each other in silence while Luke is moved between Kenny and Paige and Cameron.
By the time he's two Quinn is a stay at home mom. She doesn't want to be, but the reality of the situation is that Luke is starting to need more medical attention and is spending more time in the hospital than ever before. Rachel not only makes more money, but it's harder for her to get away from work than it is for Quinn. But Quinn is taking off from work too often and her boss is too nice to fire her. Quinn has her mind made up before she even talks to Rachel about the situation.
Rachel fights it. She knows how much Quinn loves her job. She offers to quit too. Quinn has already thought about, because she knew that would happen, and she could support herself and Rachel on what she makes as a tattoo artist, assuming they move into a smaller apartment somewhere and make sure to live in their means, but Luke is an expensive child and they would have to have help. Quinn is too proud to let other people pay for the raising of her child.
"No. You need to work. I don't mind staying home," she lies. "And really, it's only until we get him stable."
Rachel agrees but only with the condition that they keep Jake too. Quinn wants to protest, but Rachel points out that if they keep him half a day instead of the whole day, it'll give Quinn time to herself too.
Being a stay at home mom isn't as terrible as she imagined it would be, the only real change is that she has to find things to do while Luke is sleeping or watching TV, which he does most of the day since he can't really move around. She has to exercise him two more times than she already did and she makes three meals a day instead of two. She even starts packing Rachel's lunch and they save a little money not eating out as much.
Luke loves music, and more than anything else, he loves it when Rachel sings with him.
Quinn walks into his room to find Rachel twirling around with him in her arms, singing I Could Have Danced All Night. He's laughing loudly and cooing in a way that makes it sound like he's trying to sing too. When the song reaches its crescendo, Rachel throws her head back dramatically and Luke copies her, still laughing. Rachel reaches up to catch his head automatically and he over corrects, slamming his forehead against Rachel's.
"Ouch, ouch, ouch," Rachel mutters. Luke continues to laugh and Quinn can't help but giggle too.
Really, there's nothing else to do. Luke's head is hard as a rock and they're both used to getting hit with it.
Rachel sees her in the doorway and pouts. It always takes two arms to hold Luke, in case he flails suddenly and they have to hold him tighter so they don't drop him, so Rachel can't rub the sore spot. Quinn does it for her and then kisses her pouty lips. They get caught up in kissing for a while until Rachel flinches away.
"Ow, Luke! No biting."
Quinn helps Rachel maneuver Luke's head so his open mouth is no longer right over her shoulder. "Don't be jealous, Luke. I still love you," Quinn tells him, and she begins to cover his face with wet smacking kisses. At first he giggles, but then like any little boy, he starts to grumble and try to twist away.
Luke's legs are really strong from all the air kicking he does every day. He can't keep his head up, he can't sit on his own, and he can't control his arms at all. Walking is out of the question, but Rachel and Quinn both still hold him up so his feet touch the ground.
He doesn't ever keep his feet flat. As soon as they touch the floor he pushes himself up onto his toes.
They get him braces with Willie Coyote on the back. He hates them and cries every time they put them on him. His physical therapist suggests that he only wear them in PT for a while so he can get used to them.
By the time he turns three he ends up having a walker and a mechanical wheel chair too. The chair is pretty awesome. The frame is painted gold and the back rest is red with a big gold star sewn on it and his name above it in the same color. They have to remove the mechanical aspect at first, because he likes to ram the chair into walls repeatedly. The sound it makes when he crashes amuses him.
It's hellish, finding parking for the SUV they had to have to carry all of his stuff around, but they do it.
He loses a tooth in the night. Quinn notices when she goes to scoop him out of bed that there's a gap in his teeth. It's been loose for a while and he'd been very upset with the way it moved around in his mouth. She's glad it's finally fallen loose. He's going to be a lot easier to deal with when he isn't irritably trying to get his tongue to push it out.
She looks around his bed for the tooth and doesn't find it under his pillows or in his sheets. It isn't on the floor around the bed. When she takes him out of his pajamas it doesn't fall out of his shirt or pants, and it hadn't ended up in his diaper.
She assumes that he swallowed it and asks him. He smiles and laughs and then laughs louder when she tickles the bottom of his feet.
She wishes that he could experience the tooth fairy like most little kids.
Rachel has to shove her out of the way when she freezes later that morning. She was feeding Luke his usual breakfast when he vomited all over the table and her. The smell and the feeling of puke running down her arm is working at her throat and she's trying to keep her own vomit down. Luke is crying and the sound is just bubbly enough that she knows more vomit is on the way.
Rachel pushes her away from the mess, a wet rag in hand. "Go clean up please." She has always been better at handling the throw up.
Quinn nods stiffly. She makes her way to the downstairs bathroom, tucking her arm to her chest and pulling up the bottom of her shirt so she doesn't drip on the carpet.
Vomit is pretty normal. Luke has trouble swallowing. When he does swallow he has trouble keeping anything down. Quinn sometimes feels that after five years she should be used to it, but it hasn't happened yet. Their family therapist says she feels like a failure every time Luke throws up. Feels like it's somehow her fault. Quinn hates that the man thinks he knows her, she hates that he has it pretty much right. It hurts that she can't feed her own baby.
She takes a full shower, because just taking off the shirt and washing her arm doesn't make her feel clean enough. She ends up laughing and crying when she notices that Luke's tooth isn't mixed in with the vomit on her shirt. Rachel is gone and Jake has taken her place before she gets a chance to ask if Rachel found it.
He's too thin.
Nothing is staying down and he keeps getting longer. Rachel measures him every day before she leaves for the theater. He's five and they still refer to him as long instead of tall.
He's getting longer and losing weight. Their baby is starving to death because they can't feed him.
Luke looks up at her when she walks into the room. He's sprawled on the black leather couch, his long legs hanging off lock-kneed at an angle. His shock of dark brown hair is getting too long, evidenced by the cowlicks making it stick out at odd places. In his right fist, between the middle and ring fingers, he clenches a straw from some takeout place still in the paper. Jake must have given it to him.
Quinn smiles and tells him he's a cute boy. He laughs; it's a gurgling sound that comes from the back of his throat, with his mouth open wide so he can show off two rows of sharp and crooked teeth. A bit of drool pools over his bottom lip onto his chin. His attention is drawn away from her and back to the television where a monster truck has just smashed into another. His laughter is for the TV then.
She sits beside him on the couch, drawing his long stiff legs into her lap and reaching over to wipe the drool of his chin with the bib he has around his neck for just that reason. He doesn't react other than to shift down a bit. She massages his legs for a few minutes, trying to get the muscles to relax. It doesn't work.
There's only so much Monster Truck Rally she can handle, even for Luke, so she picks up the remote off the coffee table in front of the couch and changes it to Planet Earth instead. Luke notices the change and growls unhappily.
Quinn laughs until Luke kicks her with one of his strong legs. It hurts worse than one would expect.
"Hey!" She gets revenge by flicking the bottom of his left foot. He gives a wordless shout of outrage and flails his arms, bringing his closed fists down onto his thighs. "Monster Trucks are boring," Quinn tells him. He shakes his head fitfully from side to side. She doesn't know whether he actually understands her words for if he's protesting the situation in general.
A bird with jewel bright feathers starts a mating dance on the screen, and the odd clicking noise it makes distracts Luke again. His red face shifts back to its natural hue and he relaxes; the transgression forgotten…
Until Quinn reaches over the distance between them and ruffles his hair. He hates that.
They get him a puppy. Really, it's more like a puppy is forced on them through a massive guilt trip. And it's not a puppy, because it's three years old. Their friend Amanda is moving out of the country for a job and they aren't letting her bring her pets. She already got rid of one of her dogs, both cats, her fish, and all three of her parrots, so really, they consider themselves lucky that it's only a tiny little Yorkie. Of course, they know the animal is probably a devil just like Sidewalk.
The problem is that Sidewalk absolutely hates Luke. And she deals with that hate through hiding and doing random hit-and-runs on him. She doesn't ever bite him, and that's the only reason they keep her, she just swats at his head with her declawed paws.
Other animals don't like him either. They're scared of his flailing hands and his wheel chair and the jerky way he moves. It's sad because he loves animals and when they won't come near him his eyes dim and he cries.
They agree to take the dog, because she's house trained and small, and Sidewalk will probably kill her anyway.
The Yorkie's name is Whiskey, and her personality matches her name. She's tiny and yappy and snarly and warm. The first thing she does when she enters their apartment is zero in on Sidewalk and chase her. Sidewalk has no idea what's going on. She's never met an animal willing to challenge her. Rottweilers and German Shepherds cow under her steely gaze, but this tiny little shot has her pinned in less than ten seconds.
Sidewalk adds a new victim to her hit list, and surprisingly, Luke gets a new friend. Whiskey is wary of him for all of a minute and then she timidly curls up in his lap and his enthusiastic laughter brings tears to his mothers' eyes.
The tiny dog sits with him all the time and just lets him pet her with his shaky fist. It almost seems to help him control his muscles a little bit, but even when he pets too hard, Whiskey just sits there. A boy and his dog.
It doesn't take long to notice that there's something wrong with the dog. She has seizures just like Luke. They only notice when she has one while Rachel is holding her one day. Whiskey goes from wriggling like mad to slumped over in Rachel's arms in the space of a few seconds, and then she gets back up and goes back to wriggling.
It's the exact same as Luke.
Rachel doesn't believe in the super natural, but she does believe in fate and souls and God, and she knows that Whiskey and Luke have a bond because of their seizures.
They have to get a feeding tube for him. It was getting to the point where he was in danger. He has some sort of attack and ends up in the hospital for two weeks after his sixth birthday. The tube falls out all the time, but he's gaining a little weight and that takes some off of Quinn's heart.
He still throws up at least once a day. He doesn't have to worry about swallowing though, and more often than not he keeps it down. Dealing with him in public is easier.
Kenny suggests looking into bio-feedback. Quinn thinks it sounds interesting, but there's just so much involved with keeping him alive that improving his quality of life has to come second.
Whiskey dies suddenly.
It's on a rare day when Rachel is home alone with Luke. Quinn had gone out to get groceries and is due back any minute when Whiskey slumps over in Luke's lap and starts shaking. She's never had that kind of seizure before and it freaks them both out. Luke doesn't know what's going on, but he knows it's wrong and he starts to scream in fear.
Rachel takes the dog off his lap and holds it close, waiting for the shaking to stop.
It doesn't. It just gets worse.
She lays Whiskey down on the floor and runs to get Luke's shoes. She's going to have to take him with her to the vet because there's no one to watch him. When she gets back in the room Luke has shifted from his propped up place on the couch so he's lying down instead, one of his arms stretched out off the side. His hand, usually formed into a claw or fist, is fully extended, and the tips of his fingers are touching Whiskey's head. He's not screaming anymore, just crying with quiet gurgling sobs.
Rachel shoves shoes on his feet, tears clouding her vision and then bends down to pick up Whiskey only to find that she's wet with urine.
Luke looks up at her with his big brown eyes and Rachel knows that he can understand everything that's going on. She slumps the ground and holds Whiskey close. Luke's hand is a fist again when it bumps her cheek and then her hair and then Whiskey's head. She scoots closer to the couch, not really caring that she's sitting in a puddle of pee, and holds Luke around the back with her free arm.
They stay like that even when Whiskey stops breathing and that's how Quinn finds them.
That night Rachel insists that Luke sleep with them. Whiskey was his soul mate. He had cried all day long, hard enough that he threw up twice. Even Sidewalk seemed a little less evil.
Rachel doesn't believe in the super natural, but she believes in bad omens.
The feeding tube isn't working well enough. It lasts for a year.
They've started talking about getting a J-tube that will bypass his stomach entirely and put his nutrients right in his intestines. Their doctors all support them and they have the surgery scheduled for January 8th. Life hates them though and he ends up in the hospital three days after his seventh birthday with a necrotic bowl.
Neither of them knows how it could have happened. He hadn't even been constipated. Now they're being told that their son has a fifteen percent chance of living. They spend the hours leading up to his surgery taking turns curling up next to him in his hospital bed. He's nearly the same size as Rachel, and usually Quinn would tease her about it.
Now she's too focused on the odds. Fifteen percent might as well be a death sentence. He's still so thin. Lying in the hospital bed, his skin pale and his tired little face lax in sleep, he doesn't look like the type of child that's strong enough to handle all of this too.
When he goes under the knife, Quinn can't stand to be in his room, over filled with obnoxious balloons and huge stuffed animals from friends and family. She finds her way to the chapel, but she doesn't bother praying. She's been praying for the last seven years and it hasn't helped.
She laughs humorlessly. "I could really use a drink right now," she mutters to her hands. Staying sober has been harder for the past seven years than it had before Luke was born.
"Don't you fucking dare."
Quinn looks up from her hands to see her wife standing in the aisle beside her. "I won't," she swears huskily. She scoots over on the bench and Rachel sits beside her.
"He's going to be fine, Quinn. He'll make it just fine and then in January he'll get the J-tube and everything will be fine." Rachel's embrace is the safest place on earth, but they don't block Quinn's thoughts.
She's never said it out loud and she never will. Does it make her a terrible person if she just wants him to give up? He suffers consistently. He can't eat, he can't speak, and he can't walk or sit or even roll over on his own. He will always wear diapers and depend on other people to keep him alive. What kind of life is that? What kind of mother is she if she just wants it all to stop?
Fifteen percent turns out to be just enough. Rachel suggests they change his name to Lucky.
The J-tube changes everything. He gains so much weight that they have to buy him an entirely new wardrobe. It gets harder to carry him around so they get stronger. He's healthy again, as much as he can be. He makes so much progress at physical therapy that he starts wanting to walk at home too. He can't hold his head up, but he sure can run.
It's around the same time that Rachel gets her biggest break. The revival of Funny Girl is in production and she gets Fanny Brice. Her success makes her wife proud and her horny.
Quinn goes back to work. With Luke's hospital visits now only coming once a month, and Jake able to take him to all his therapy appointments, she doesn't feel guilty about picking up a tattoo gun. It's just like riding a bicycle, but it helps that she never stopped designing even while she was staying home.
Luke is doing well enough to go to school. He has to be in special education classes instead of normal ones, but interaction is good for him.
They hear about an experimental brain surgery that might make his muscles relax. The risk of stroke is too high for either of them to feel comfortable trying it. They decide to wait a few years to see if the odds improve.
Quinn doesn't allow herself to relax until his eighth birthday comes and goes without incident.
Everything is calming down and Quinn feels a little guilty for how she was starting to blame God.
"I want another baby," Rachel says when she's knuckle deep in Quinn. The statement and the stimulation together makes Quinn squeal, something that she has never done during sex before.
"Wha-what?" She sits up and regretfully pushes Rachel's hand away. Her wife looks up at her through her eyelashes and pouts. The cute is completely ruined when Rachel brings her formerly occupied fingers to her mouth.
"I want another baby."
So many thoughts shoot through Quinn's brain that she can only really catch on to the tail ends and a bunch of strange syllables fall out of her mouth instead of actual words. Rachel just laughs.
Quinn can't. "Baby, we can't handle another pregnancy."
Rachel has already thought of this. "We'll adopt."
"There's not an adoption agency on the planet that's going to give us a kid when we already have one like Luke. He's too much to deal with."
"Can we at least try?" Rachel pleads. Quinn can't say no.
Apparently there is an agency that would give them a kid. They get Demetrius eight months later. He's five and precocious and he calls them by their first names, but he thinks Luke is interesting instead of creepy, and that's really the most important part.
Luke likes him too. He loves being a big brother, especially the parts when Demetrius is in trouble and he gets to laugh at him.
Luke dies in his sleep.
Quinn couldn't sleep and so she went to check on both the boys. Demetrius is snoring loudly. His ten year old body is stretched diagonally across his sheets.
She just plans on giving Luke's room a brief glance, just to make sure he hasn't rolled onto his stomach in his sleep, but when she steps in, something feels wrong.
The air is too still.
She knows, before she even approaches the bed.
She doesn't cry. She just picks her boy up and sets him in her lap. He's still warm. She runs her fingers through his dark hair and traces his face. He has Rachel's nose and Sam's mouth.
"Quinn?" Her eyes fly to the door. It's Demetrius.
"Go back to bed."
He doesn't listen. "Is…what's going on?"
"Go back to bed," she repeats, ignoring the question.
"What's wrong with Bubby?" Demetrius demands. His voice is small, and he's curling in on himself a little bit. He hasn't called Luke Bubby in years.
Quinn rearranges her arms around Luke, tucking his face closer to her chest. "Nothing, sweetie. Go back to bed."
Demetrius leaves, but he goes to get Rachel instead of going to bed.
"Rachel," he hisses in her ear while he shakes her shoulder. She groans but doesn't react otherwise. "Rachel, I think something's wrong with Bubby," he tries again, shaking her harder.
That gets her up and out of bed so fast that Demetrius falls back on his butt. When he makes it back to Luke's room Quinn is sobbing brokenly and Rachel is crouched on the bed in front of her, arms extended but not quite touching Luke.
When Quinn launches herself into Rachel's arms so that Luke is trapped between them, Demetrius knows what's wrong, and he joins them.