A/N – This story takes place sometime after the story You've Got to be Carefully Taught. You might want to read that one first just to get a feel for how Quinn and Rachel relate to each other in this little universe. But this is pretty self-explanatory if you're not up for reading the other one as well. I hope you all like it and I'd certainly appreciate any feedback you can give me. Thank you all so much!
I'm working on the next chapter of Changed for the Better! I just needed to get this one out as well.
Disclaimer – I don't own Glee. Oh, that I did…
The Saturday morning sun shone through Rachel's window at her mother's house and created a makeshift spotlight for the eight-year-old as she gave a concert for her stuffed animals. Shelby smiled as she listened from her own room while she was finishing getting ready for the day. It was after ten and she and Rachel had already enjoyed breakfast and Shelby had spent it listening to Rachel telling her about the songs her elementary school music class would be singing in their end of year program. It was one of those songs that Rachel was singing right now.
Shelby made her way to Rachel's room and peeked in and wished she had her camera so she could capture the scene. She settled for simply watching for a few more moments and then walked into the room and started to sing with her. Rachel smiled up at her mom as their voices blended and then climbed up onto one of her smaller, child-size chairs so she could be taller.
"I wish you could come and sing with us in our program at school," Rachel said when the song was over.
"I would rather get to watch you sing in the program," Shelby told her and Rachel smiled brightly.
"Can we go to the Square and walk around today?" Rachel asked. She was alluding to an open area on the other side of town that always set up an open-air market and sometimes there was live music.
"The Square, huh?" Shelby said. "What would you like to do there?"
"We could walk around and go to the shops. And get ice cream," Rachel said.
The Square was also home to the best ice cream parlor in Lima.
"Oh, I see," Shelby said. "I didn't think you liked ice cream."
"Mom," Rachel put her hands on her hips.
"Of course we can, honey," Shelby said with a laugh. "But it'll have to be a little later because I've got some papers I have to get graded for school and I won't have time tomorrow."
Rachel slumped her shoulders but nodded and then asked, "Can I help?"
"Sure," Shelby said. She picked Rachel up from the chair she was standing on and set her on the floor.
Shelby knew that Rachel's 'help' would last all of ten minutes and she was right. The girl quickly grew bored and announced she was going out back to play.
Rachel's game of make-believe, that took place in the world of her view of New York City, had passed the hour mark and she was completely lost in her imagination. She even incorporated it into the game when she had to run inside and get a drink and then to go to the bathroom.
The girl was busy in a department store when the real world broke through because she heard someone crying. She slid down the fireman's pole to get off of her swing set and started to search for the source of the cries she heard. She opened the fence and crept around the side of the house so she could get a look out front. When she looked around the corner she saw a girl sitting on the sidewalk with her bike lying next to her. Rachel could see the blonde pony tail sticking out from under the bike helmet and she got a glimpse of the girl's face scrunched up in pain and she knew that it was Quinn Fabray. She didn't move and just looked at the girl who had been picking on her all school year. She wanted to ignore her and go back to her New York City and finish shopping, but Rachel couldn't help but feel sorry for her now as she listened to her crying. It was weird to see Quinn like this because to Rachel, the blonde was always so in control and detached. With a sigh, she stepped out into the front yard and made her way over to her classmate.
"Quinn?" Rachel asked as she approached. "What happened?"
The little blonde stiffened and tried to stop her tears, but wasn't successful.
"I fell," Quinn said.
That was obvious enough and Rachel took note of Quinn's cut knee and elbow. Both had blood on them and some of it was even dripping down her leg.
Rachel sat down on her knees next to the other girl and said, "This is my house. If you come inside my mom will give you a Band-Aid."
Quinn stayed silent for a few seconds as she thought this over. She didn't like Rachel Berry. She wasn't supposed to like Rachel Berry. But she was almost eight blocks from her house and there was no one else around who was trying to help her. And her leg and arm did hurt really badly. Plus, she'd been intrigued by Rachel's mom the one time she'd met her after she and Rachel got in a fight at school. The woman had seemed so different from her own parents and Quinn distinctly remembered feeling jealous when the first thing Rachel got that day was a hug and not a scolding.
"I can't get up," Quinn finally said after her crying slowed.
"Why?" Rachel asked.
"My shoelace got caught on the pedal and I can't get it loose," Quinn answered as she pointed down at her foot.
"Oh. Maybe I can get it and if I can't my mom will be able to," Rachel told her.
Quinn didn't say anything as Rachel spent a few minutes working out the knots until she was finally able to free the shoe. Rachel diligently tied the laces so they wouldn't be loose again and then got to her feet and held out a hand to help Quinn up. The girl only hesitated a moment before clasping the outstretched hand and standing up. Rachel got the bike and the small pink book bag Quinn had with her and they walked in silence through the front yard to the house. The bike was left leaning against the porch steps and the pair made their way into the house.
"Mom," Rachel called out once they were inside. "We need some help."
"What is it?" Shelby asked as she stepped out of her office. "Oh." She took in the little girl standing with her daughter and recognized her immediately; she had caused Rachel more than a little grief that year. Little Quinn Fabray was about the last person she ever expected to see in her house, especially not with a tear streaked face and a skinned knee.
"She fell off her bike," Rachel said. "I heard her crying. I told her you would give her a Band-Aid."
"Of course I will," Shelby said. "Come with me."
Shelby led Quinn into the bathroom and surprised the girl by picking her up and sitting her on the counter. Quinn stayed quiet while Shelby looked at her knee and then her elbow and then sent Rachel off to get her a couple of wash cloths. Shelby opened the medicine cabinet and pulled out some peroxide, some ointment to put on the cuts, and a box of Band-Aids and set them off to the side. Rachel returned with the wash cloths and lingered in the doorway and watched.
"I'm just going to clean these up a little bit first," Shelby told Quinn. "Are you hurt anywhere else?"
Quinn shook her head and watched as Shelby opened the bottle of peroxide and took out a few Band-Aids to use. The little girl looked at the brown bottle warily and wanted to say that she did not need any of that stuff because she knew what it did to cuts and how badly it stung.
Shelby couldn't help but smile at Quinn's silent assessment of the medicine. It was the same look Rachel always gave the offending bottle; like it was doing things to hurt her on purpose. She got the girl's attention again when she reached up and unhooked the strap of the helmet beneath her chin. Shelby took it off Quinn's head and set it off to the side.
"I like your helmet, Quinn," Rachel said. She picked it up to examine as she climbed up on the closed toilet seat and sat on her knees so she could watch.
"I got it for Christmas," Quinn said. "And my bike."
"It's very pretty," Rachel said and Quinn only nodded.
Shelby ran some warm water in the sink and let one of the wash cloths get damp and used it to wipe some of the blood from Quinn's arm and leg and then folded it over and pressed it tightly to the cut on Quinn's knee to stop the bleeding. Her arm had already stopped and Shelby wanted to make sure the girl's knee did the same before trying to clean it out. Once she was satisfied the bleeding had stopped, Shelby folded that cloth over again and picked up the bottle of peroxide. The cut on her elbow was smaller so Shelby did that first to get it out of the way. She turned Quinn a bit and held the wash cloth below the cut to catch the extra peroxide and then poured some onto the cut. Quinn immediately tensed and hissed in pain before giving up completely and letting more tears fall. Shelby left that cut and moved to the knee and followed the same procedure. This cut was larger and hurt more as the peroxide took effect and started to bubble and turn white.
Rachel wanted to say something to the crying girl, but she kept quiet. To be honest, she didn't really know what to do for Quinn now. She wasn't used to seeing her like this, and even though she knew how badly the peroxide stung, part of her was surprised to see Quinn acting so much like she did. Rachel so rarely saw Quinn as just one of the other kids. Quinn was a tormentor and mean and didn't cry when she was called names. Not that Rachel had ever seen anyone dare to call her a name. But here she was, crying just like Rachel always did when her mother insisted on using that awful brown bottle on her. It was weird and eye-opening all at the same time.
Shelby pouted sympathetically with Quinn, but gave the peroxide a chance to work before doing anything else. She eventually provided some relief and leaned down to blow gently on the cuts to help alleviate the sting.
"Shhh," Shelby said and she rubbed Quinn's other arm. "Almost done."
"It stings," Quinn hiccupped out.
"I know," Shelby said. "But it helps to get it clean."
"I don't want it clean," Quinn cried and Shelby smiled.
Shelby only waited a few more moments before tossing the dirty wash cloth aside and wetting a new one so she could gently wipe away the peroxide from the cuts. Quinn's tears turned to sniffles and she watched closely as Shelby used the Neosporin on the cuts and scrapes and then put the Band-Aids in place. She was able to get by with two small ones on her elbow, but used a larger one on her knee.
"All done," Shelby told the girl who only nodded and sniffled in reply.
Shelby lifted her down from the counter and ushered the girls out of the bathroom. Rachel wasn't sure what to say next as she handed Quinn her helmet back. Quinn was in the same position and didn't know what she should say next. She should probably get going…
"Quinn, would you like to stay and have some lunch?" Shelby asked. "I was just about to make Rachel and I some sandwiches." She knew that both girls were uneasy, but now might be the perfect opportunity to broker some peace between them and maybe help Quinn see Rachel as a regular little kid and hopefully put a stop to some of the bullying.
"Or we can give you a ride home if you want," Shelby continued when Quinn didn't say anything.
"I don't think there is anyone at home," Quinn said.
"No one's home with you?" Rachel asked. Shelby looked at Quinn, curious to hear her answer.
"My dad plays golf on Saturday mornings and my mom is out with her friends," Quinn explained. "My older sister and I were home together."
"How old is your sister?" Shelby asked.
"Sixteen. She's in high school!" Quinn was very proud. "But I told her I wanted to ride my bike and she said I could because she wanted to go to her boyfriend's house."
Shelby had to smile. She knew what having older siblings was like and she was certain that Quinn's sister would not like the girl spilling the beans on where she would rather spend her time instead of having to babysit. Still, she was supposed to be watching the girl and if Shelby had to guess, she'd bet that Quinn's sister had no idea where she was.
"Well then, why don't you stay and have lunch with us," Shelby said.
"We're going to the Square!" Rachel said excitedly. "You could come with us if you want."
"We never go to the Square," Quinn said. "My dad doesn't like it."
"But they have the best ice cream," Rachel argued. Who didn't like the Square?
"I know," Quinn snapped. It was more of a reflex than anything else. "I've been there with my friends before."
"Oh," Rachel said. "Yeah."
"It's settled then," Shelby stepped in again. "We'll have a sandwich and then go and get some ice cream. Sound good?"
Quinn hesitated for a second and then finally said, "Ok."
"Great," Shelby said. "Quinn, I'm going to call your house and see if your sister is there so I can tell her where you are."
Quinn gave Shelby her number and waited while the woman called. Shelby talked to Francesca, the elder Fabray girl, and explained that Quinn was playing at her house and that they were going to the Square. If Francesca recognized Shelby's name or knew the history of Quinn's run-ins with Rachel, she didn't say so. Shelby could tell that she was distracted even as she promised to leave a note for her parents.
"Rachel, why don't you show Quinn your bedroom," Shelby suggested after the phone call. "And I'll make us some lunch."
Quinn headed for the stairs, but Rachel hesitated and stayed close to her mom.
"Do you think she'll laugh at my room?" Rachel whispered to Shelby when the woman leaned over to see what was wrong.
"I hope not, sweetheart," Shelby whispered back. "Maybe if you explain to her why you like the stuff you have, she'll understand."
Quinn stood on the second step and watched the exchange curiously. Rachel was leaning into Shelby and the woman had her arms wrapped around the girl as they talked. It's not that Quinn thought her parents were wrong or anything, but she knew they weren't like Ms. Corcoran. Her parents didn't really give hugs or say 'I love you.' She wasn't kissed goodnight or allowed to sit on laps anymore, even though she asked, because she was too old now. Quinn just assumed that all parents were like that, but she bet Rachel still got all of those things. As she watched mother and daughter, Quinn felt a pang of jealousy and a longing didn't even really knew she had until now.
Rachel left her mother's side after a few moments and led Quinn up the stairs to her bedroom.
"This is my room," Rachel said as she watched with trepidation as Quinn took her time looking around.
"What's Funny Girl?" Quinn asked as she looked at Rachel's posters.
"It's one of the best movies ever," Rachel said. "It was Barbra Streisand's first movie and she's wonderful in it. She's my absolute favorite performer. You should see-"
"Ok," Quinn cut her off. "My favorite movie is Titanic. My sister loves it too and we watch it together all the time." Quinn left out that she wasn't technically allowed to watch it yet and that Francesca had let her see it a few nights ago when she was babysitting because she had bugged her so much. Francesca discovered it was a good tool for keeping the nine-year-old occupied for over three hours so she could spend some time upstairs with her boyfriend.
"I haven't seen it," Rachel said.
"Oh. Well it's very grown up," Quinn declared.
"I know the Celine Dion song though," Rachel said. "I can sing it and my mom is teaching me how to play it on the piano."
"Your mom knows how to play the piano?" Quinn asked. They had a piano in her house that she was discouraged from touching. It wasn't there for her to make noise on, her father always said. She loved music though and liked to watch the pianist when they were at church.
"Yeah, and I'm learning too," Rachel said.
"That's pretty cool," Quinn said and Rachel beamed.
"I bet she'd teach you a little bit if you asked," Rachel said.
"Really?" Quinn asked with excitement that she tried to mask.
"Yeah," Rachel nodded.
Quinn picked up a stuffed bunny that was occupying one of the chairs by the desk and sat down with the animal sitting in her lap. She gently tugged on his ears and looked everywhere but at Rachel when she asked her next question.
"Do you always get lots of hugs from your mom?"
Rachel was taken aback for a second and tried to figure out if maybe Quinn was looking for a way to laugh at her. But Quinn was acting so differently than she did in school and Rachel gave her the benefit of the doubt.
"Of course," Rachel said with a small laugh when she realized Quinn was being serious. "My dads too."
"Really?" Quinn asked. "Your dads too?"
"Yeah," Rachel said. "Don't you?"
"Yeah," Quinn answered quickly, defensively. And then she added, "Sometimes."
An insult about Rachel being a baby crossed her mind, but Quinn squashed it down. She had genuinely wanted to know. Why didn't her parents give her lots of hugs like that? Frannie didn't seem to mind that they didn't get hugs or kisses or told 'I love you.' Was she wrong for wanting that?
"Girls," Shelby said as she stepped into the room and interrupted their thoughts. "Lunch is ready."
"Ok," Rachel said as she finally looked away from Quinn.
"Ok," Quinn echoed as she stood up and put the bunny back in the chair.
Lunch was peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with milk and a banana. Quinn sat up straight and tucked her feet around the legs of the chair she was sitting in. She used her best manners like she'd been taught and didn't even complain about the crust of the bread even though she normally didn't like it. Rachel looked up at her mother helplessly when the normally talkative girl couldn't figure out what to say. Quinn had asked all the questions upstairs and every time Rachel tried to get a word in edgewise in school, she was picked on. Normally by Quinn; and Rachel didn't want to be made fun of right in front of her mom. Shelby patted Rachel's hand and smiled over at Quinn. She was about to say something, but Quinn beat her to it.
"Can you really play the piano?" Quinn blurted out.
"Yes," Shelby said. "I've been playing since I was a little girl. Do you play the piano?"
"No," Quinn sighed. "I was just asking because Rachel said that you know how. There's a lady at my church that knows how to play really good. She's fun to watch."
"Rachel can play some too," Shelby said hoping to draw her girl in to the conversation.
"She told me," Quinn said.
"Would you like to learn how to play it?" Shelby asked.
"I'm not allowed," Quinn said.
"To play the piano?" Shelby questioned.
"It's too noisy," Quinn explained to her.
"Oh," Shelby said. Shelby nodded as if she understood, but she felt sorry for this girl. Oh the things Shelby would like to say to Judy and Russell Fabray. "Well you can play my piano after lunch. I'll show you a couple things."
"But what about the Square?" Rachel complained. When Rachel had made the offer for Shelby to show Quinn the piano she didn't mean cutting into her time to do it.
"We're still going," Shelby said. "It'll only take a few minutes."
"Ok," Rachel said but she shot a look at Quinn who was smiling into her glass as she took a sip of her milk. Shelby put her hand on Rachel's again and shook her head slightly, a light warning to not get an attitude now.
After lunch, Shelby had Quinn sit at the piano and she stood behind her. Rachel tucked her legs up under her as she sat on the couch and watched. Shelby explained to Quinn about notes and scales and basic rhythms. Quinn placed her fingers on the keys almost reverently and lightly pushed a few of them in.
"How about we try a scale?" Shelby said. "Rachel, will you demonstrate a scale."
Rachel sat up straighter and sang a pitch-perfect scale for her mother and Quinn.
"I know Rachel can sing," Quinn grumbled. They had music together three times a week. Anyone who knew Rachel Berry knew that she could sing.
"Her voice matches the notes on the piano," Shelby explained, ignoring the comment. "Start again, Rachel."
This time Shelby played the notes along with Rachel and Quinn looked back and forth between the piano and the girl during the demonstration.
"Ok, you try," Shelby said. "Rachel, don't sing on this one."
Quinn put her hands on the keys again and pushed in the first note. She smiled when it was the same one Shelby and Rachel had been on. Shelby reached around her and lifted her arms up some to help put them and her hands in the proper position. Quinn was elated with this mini-lesson and smiled her way through the scale. She didn't even mind when Rachel joined in again and she was pleased with herself for getting the notes right.
"Good job, honey," Shelby said to Quinn and she patted her on the back. "You're a natural."
Quinn smiled as she looked up over her shoulder at Shelby. "Thanks!"
"Now," Shelby said. "How about we go and get that ice cream?"
"Yes!" Rachel jumped up off the couch. "I'll go and get my shoes." She scampered up the stairs.
"I've got to go and get my shoes too," Shelby told Quinn. "Wait right here." The woman smiled as she heard the scale being played a couple more times before it gave way to mashed notes and not-so-pleasant chords. She was going to take her time helping Rachel and then retrieving her own footwear to give Quinn a little time with the instrument.
"Mom?" Rachel asked when Shelby came into her room.
"Do you and dad and daddy hug me too much?" Rachel's face was lined with confusion and worry as she looked up at her mother while tying her laces.
"Of course not," Shelby said. She went and squatted down in front of the chair Rachel was sitting in. "Where did you get an idea like that?"
"Quinn asked if you hug me all the time," Rachel said. "I told her of course you did and so do dad and daddy. I asked her if her mom and dad hug her a lot and she said yes. I don't understand."
Shelby sat back on her heels a bit and thought about what Rachel had said. She suspected that Quinn wasn't exactly being truthful with her daughter. She didn't know the Fabrays personally, but Lima wasn't that big and she certainly knew of them. Rachel saw Quinn as a bully, which was true of course, but Shelby had also witnessed a polite and observant little girl in the short time she had been here. Quinn had reacted positively to every bit of attention Shelby had given her, but how did she explain that to Rachel?
"Do you like getting hugs?" Shelby asked.
"Of course, Mommy," Rachel laughed.
"Then don't worry about me or you dads giving you too many," Shelby said. "We love you so much and we love the hugs you give us. Do you understand?"
"Yes, but Quinn said-"
"Honey, just because we like to give lots of hugs doesn't mean that every family does," Shelby said. "Quinn is probably just curious because our family is different than hers."
"Do you think her mommy hugs her a lot?" Rachel asked.
Shelby smiled at her little girl because she should have known that Rachel understood it better than she thought.
"I don't know, Rach," Shelby said. "Her family might have different ways of doing things."
"Oh," Rachel said.
"Come on, let's go get that ice cream," Shelby stood up and took Rachel's hand.
Shelby put Quinn's bike in the trunk of her car before they left and the drive to the Square didn't take very long. They parked and then Shelby led them towards the market so they could look around for a while.
Rachel, of course, saw about a million different things she wanted to buy. She picked out toys and bracelets and everything in between. Shelby had to remind Rachel a few times that they were just there to look and not to buy. Quinn, like any kid, also found lots of things that she wanted. She didn't whine the way Rachel was; the same way she probably would have with her own mother.
It took a little while, but Shelby finally relented when Rachel showed her the small stuffed penguin that she insisted looked like the conductor of an orchestra because of his tux. She'd already named him Marvin and she just had to have him. Shelby told Quinn to pick one out as well, but the girl was unsure. Shelby noticed Quinn lingering by the bin of soft stuffed lambs and she picked one up and held it out to the girl.
"How about this one?" Shelby asked. She leaned over so she was at eye level with the girl and encouraged her to hold it.
"She's cute," Quinn said. "Can I really get her?"
"Absolutely," Shelby said.
"Thanks!" Quinn smiled.
Shelby watched as Quinn went up to Rachel and showed her the lamb. The girls were talking nicely and admiring each other's toy and Shelby wondered just why Quinn turned into the bully they knew she was in school. She wanted to know why the girl changed so much. Or more importantly, why she felt the need to act that way; because right now Rachel and Quinn were talking about Marvin the penguin and the little lamb like they'd been friends for years.
The walk to the ice cream parlor from the store was a short one and Shelby instinctively took them each by the hand when they crossed the street. When they reached the other side, Rachel let go so she could run ahead to get there first. Quinn, however, didn't let go and kept her hand firmly in Shelby's until they got to the door that Rachel was holding open for them. Shelby smiled at the girl as she freed her hand and used it to guide her into the parlor.
The girls stood at the window and looked down at the various choices of ice cream for what seemed like years. Rachel finally settled on strawberry and was delighted when she was handed her cone. Quinn picked chocolate and felt just a little bit smug when Shelby chose chocolate as well. After paying, they found a seat outside on the patio.
"This is so good," Rachel gushed as she took another lick. "Thank you, Mommy," she said with a mouthful.
"You're welcome, sweetheart," Shelby said.
"Thanks," Quinn offered up.
"My pleasure, honey," Shelby told her.
The warm spring sun started to get the better of their ice cream and it was melting faster than the girls could eat it. Shelby was much cleaner about it was able to finish hers without making a mess. The girls were not as lucky and ice cream was melting onto their hands and faces and arms. Before Shelby knew it, both girls were covered in ice cream. Quinn had dropped some on her shirt and Rachel had managed to get some in her hair. But they both more messy, triumphant smiles when their cones were gone.
Quinn's smile disappeared when she looked down and saw that she had ice cream on her shirt.
"I'm sorry," Quinn said with wide eyes as she looked over at Shelby. "I didn't mean to get it on my shirt."
"That's ok," Shelby said. "It'll come out. Don't worry about it."
"But this is a new shirt," Quinn said.
"Oh," Shelby nodded. "Well let's go in the bathroom and see if we can get it out."
Shelby ushered them into the restroom and waited while they washed their hands. She got some paper towels and wetted them and used it to wipe off their faces and arms. Quinn's worry over her shirt was gone for a second as Shelby helped her. She then stood still for the woman when Shelby used another wet paper towel to try and clean the spot of chocolate near the bottom hem of the shirt. She was able to get some of it, but a spot remained.
"I'll tell your mom and dad where it came from, ok?" Shelby said.
"Ok," Quinn said skeptically.
Once they got back in Shelby's car, Quinn picked up her book bag she'd had with her while riding her bike that morning and put her new lamb into it. She pushed her down under some of the other toys that were in there and then held the bag in her lap. Shelby drove to Quinn's house with the help of the girl's directions and parked by the curb out front. Quinn knew that both her parents were home because their cars were there and she sighed a little bit.
Rachel walked into the yard so she could look at the big house and Quinn stood next Shelby as the woman retrieved her bike from the trunk.
"Thank you," Quinn said when Shelby rested the bike against the car.
"You're welcome. I hope you had a nice day, Quinn," Shelby said.
"I did," Quinn nodded happily.
"I also hope that you'll be a little bit nicer to Rachel from now on in school," Shelby lectured gently. "You two had fun today and you know you don't have to act the way you do sometimes."
Quinn hung her head and wrung her hands together.
"You hurt her feeling and I know that you don't like to have your feelings hurt," Shelby continued. "You are a wonderful girl, Quinn and I know how sweet you are. You don't have to be mean, ok? Will you be a good girl in school?"
"Yes, Ma'am," Quinn said softly.
"I hope so," Shelby said. And Quinn, you are welcome to come to my house any time and play the piano."
Quinn's head shot up and she looked at Shelby in awe. "Really?"
"Yes," Shelby confirmed. Shelby wanted to add that it was under the conditions that she was nice in school, but she knew that this girl needed someone that she could turn to. And Shelby knew that sometimes you just needed to be able to bang on a piano. No matter how rough, there was music just aching to be set free.
Quinn surprised them both when she lunged forward and wrapped her arms tightly around Shelby's waist. Shelby returned the hug just as fiercely.
Rachel rang the doorbell because Shelby wanted to be sure someone was home with Quinn and partly because Rachel was dying to do so. It didn't take long for someone to get to the door and Shelby smiled when Russell Fabray opened the door.
"Who is it?" Judy asked as she appeared at the door behind him. "Oh. Quinnie, are you ok?"
"Yes," Quinn said.
"Hi," Shelby greeted. "Quinn had a bit of a mishap on her bike earlier this afternoon and took a spill in front of our house. Rachel helped her and we got her cleaned up. She scraped her elbow and skinned her knee pretty good, but I put some Band-Aids on them."
"Are you ok, cupcake?" Russell asked. He and Judy stepped all the way out onto the porch so they could close the door behind them.
"Yes, Daddy," Quinn answered. "They don't hurt anymore."
"We invited Quinn over to play with Rachel," Shelby said, "and we had some lunch."
"Yes, Frannie left us a note saying she was at a friend's house," Judy said. "Thank you."
"It was our pleasure," Shelby said. "Quinn was an angel. But I'm afraid we got a little over zealous with some ice cream and a little bit ended up on her shirt. I cleaned some of it off and told her the rest would come off in the wash. I assured her that it wouldn't be a big deal," Shelby said pointedly.
"Of course not," Russell smiled his fake smile easily. Of all the people his daughter could decide to spend the day with.
"Thank you for letting her spend some time with us," Shelby said. "Rachel had a fun time and so did Quinn. We'd be happy to have her over again whenever she likes. Hopefully we can work something out, like a play date."
"That would be great," Judy said tightly. She knew how her husband felt about the Berry men and Shelby Corcoran. Rachel was barely a blip on his radar, but it was a blip he didn't want his daughter associating with. Judy thought the little girl was kind of sweet.
"Ok," Shelby said, knowing very well what that answer meant.
"Say goodbye, Quinn," Russell said as he stepped over to Shelby and took the bike from her. "You didn't scratch it, did you, Quinn? It's still brand new."
"I don't think so," Quinn answered.
Russell walked away towards the garage so he could put the bike away and Judy stepped closer to them.
"Thank you," Judy said and she gave Shelby a faint smile. "Did you say thank you, Quinn?"
"Yep, she did," Shelby said. "Like I said, she's great."
Judy smiled down at her little daughter and then took her by the shoulders to lead her in.
"Bye," Quinn said.
"Bye," Rachel said. "I'll see you in school."
"Yeah," Quinn said. "Bye," she said to Shelby.
"Goodbye, sweetheart," Shelby smiled at her. "We'll see you later."
Quinn was sent upstairs to change out of her dirty clothes as soon as they were inside. She quickly dug through her bag once she was in her room by herself and pulled out the lamb she'd gotten that day. She set her down on the bed before going to her drawers to pull out clean clothes. The lamb seemed to watch her and Quinn was grateful for her new friend.
"Quinn, what were you doing down in that neighborhood?" her father asked when she went back downstairs.
"I was riding my bike," Quinn answered. "It's not that far."
"You stay over here when you ride your bike," he ordered. "I can't believe Francesca let you go all the way over there. She knows better. And you should too."
"Russell, it was harmless," Judy interjected. "They had ice cream."
"You are not to go over there again," Russell commanded. "You are not friends with that girl or those people."
Quinn looked to her mother for help, but Judy didn't say another word. The girl just offered a meek 'yes sir' and shuffled off dejectedly.
The following Monday in school Rachel watched the door eagerly as she waited for Quinn to arrive. Today was the day it was going to be different because she and Quinn were friends now and the girl would get everyone to stop picking on her.
When Quinn walked in the door she only glanced at Rachel for a moment before going over and sitting with the same group of friends she always sat with. Rachel tried not to think too much of it and turned her attention to the front of the class when the teacher started to call roll.
Rachel decided she would take a more direct approach at lunch.
"Hi, Quinn," Rachel said as she sat down in the seat across from her weekend friend.
A silence came over the table as everyone stared at Rachel like she was crazy. She usually ate by herself at the end of the table and Quinn usually taunted her. Quinn had been unusually quiet about Rachel that day, but this was way out of the ordinary.
Quinn gave Rachel a pleading look to just leave, but the younger girl didn't understand.
"Why are you talking to her?" Santana Lopez said. She'd been a Quinn groupie since the blonde's first day in the school.
"Because we're friends," Rachel answered simply and the table erupted into laughter.
Quinn looked around helplessly at them and she heard her father's words echo in her ears. She wasn't friends with Rachel Berry even if she wanted to be.
"Yeah right," Quin scoffed. "We're not friends. I would never be friends with you."
"But," Rachel's bottom lip started to tremble as the table laughed even louder at her.
"I could never be friends with a baby like you," Quinn said. "Or your freak family."
Rachel stared at her with such hurt in her eyes before getting up and hurrying away. Quinn didn't join in the laughter around her and instead looked down at her hands. Some of the kids started to repeat her words and laugh some more and Quinn chanced a look down at Rachel who was now all alone at the end of the table with her head held high but tears on her cheeks. Quinn looked down again and willed her own tears not to fall.
That afternoon, Rachel was in tears before she could get all the way through the door at her mother's house.
"What's wrong, Rachel?" Shelby asked as she picked the girl up and held her close.
Rachel wrapped her arms around her neck and tried to speak. "She- she said she would never be my friend. She called me a baby and said I had a freak family."
Rachel buried her face into Shelby's shoulder as the mother tried to soothe her. Shelby didn't have to ask who the 'she' was.
"Hi, Quinnie," Judy said when her daughter walked in the house.
"Hi," Quinn said.
"Were you good today?" Judy asked. "Did you have a nice day?"
"Yes," Quinn lied.
"What's wrong?" Judy asked.
Quinn opened her mouth to say something, but hesitated and then shook her head. "Nothing."
"Then go upstairs and change out of your good clothes," Judy instructed.
Judy watched Quinn as she walked away, but her attention was pulled away when the phone started to ring. Quinn stopped for a second at the piano and pressed the key for the note that started the scale Shelby showed her. She wanted to play more, but didn't touch any of the other keys.
"Don't dawdle, Quinn," Judy said with her hand over the phone. "And don't touch the piano."
Quinn moved away and climbed the stairs and shut herself in her room. She changed and then lied down on her bed and reached her hand behind the pillow and pulled out the little lamb she'd hidden there that morning. She hugged the stuffed animal close to her and finally let a tear fall.
A/N – I hope you all like this one. Please leave me a review. It means so much.
And I'm working on the next chapter of Changed for the Better. I promise!