A/N: Hey guys, first I'd like to thank everyone for being so patient. I must have rewritten this chapter four maybe even five times, but it is about twice as long as most of the chapters I've written so far so I hope that makes up for the long wait. There are probably only going to be one or two more chapters to this, three at the most, and I can't guarantee fast updates, but I will try to make them longer and a little more fleshed out. Anyway, enjoy and please review, they are a huge help for the muse.
When the camera turns on again all that can be seen is the front of Rachel's hoodie. The camera shakes a little as she sets it down on top of the microwave, and twists the viewfinder around so she can make sure everything she wants fits into the frame. She takes a step back and the kitchen table comes into view. Quinn is sitting down along with Rachel's father Leroy, and Judy. The grandparents are nursing steaming cups of coffee, and Quinn is sipping at a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice.
"God, Rachel, do you always have to have that thing on? Can't we do one thing without it being recorded?" Quinn's voice can be heard, and she makes a face at the camera; scrunching her nose up and sticking her tongue out. Her mother gives her a reprimanding look, and she just rolls her large hazel eyes, and looks down at the tablet sitting in front of her, the newest issue of the New York Times taking up the screen.
"This is her first brunch, Quinn, and it's an important tradition. Besides, she's probably going to be cranky as hell after her doctor's appointment, and I want to get something that isn't her screaming her head off for putting her through that torture." All three adults at the table roll their eyes, but Rachel ignores it.
"It isn't torture, sweetie," Hiram's voice can be heard from somewhere off screen. Rachel walks over and sits down at the table. "You're taking her in to make sure she's healthy. She may not see it that way, but it's for the best." Rachel pouts from her spot at the table and leans over to leave a small kiss on the top of Alice's head.
She's sleeping soundly in the sling that was given to them from Santana at the baby shower. At first Quinn had been a little hesitant to accept it. None of her older cousins or any of her sister's friends whom had babies while she was still in Lima had used one, and she couldn't wrap her mind around the idea of keeping the baby attached to her almost every waking moment. Now that Alice is here, and crying almost every two hours for food or to be changed, or just needing comfort, Quinn is glad Rachel convinced her not to donate it to the Red Cross.
"I just don't like the idea of someone jabbing her with needles. She's just so small and precious. I don't want to take her out of the apartment at all," she says, and rests her head against Quinn's shoulder. She doesn't see the small smile appear on Quinn's lips, or the way Judy and Leroy shake their heads as they exchange a glance. She knows she's being over protective, but knowing it doesn't change the way she's feeling.
"No one does, Rachel. Your father had to leave the room when the doctor put you on the scale to measure you. As soon as he tried to stretch out your legs you started screaming your head off, acting like it was the biggest deal in the world. I think your father would have punched him if he stayed in that room a moment longer," he says, and Rachel lifts her head off Quinn's shoulder and looks at her dad with a big smile.
"I'm not the only one who's been over protective," Leroy says and takes a sip of his coffee. He doesn't miss the look of longing Quinn gives the mug before her eyes flick back to the tablet. "Remember Karen Perry? Her daughter was in all of the same dance and singing competitions that Rachel was in? I thought you were going to slap her when she accidentally bumped into Rae, and told her to watch where she was going in that snotty tone she always had."
"I remember her. She was awful," Rachel says, and steals a sip of Quinn's juice. "She acted like I was some scourge on the earth just because I always came in first. It wasn't my fault I was more talented than Connie."
Quinn looks up from the tablet, her eyebrows raised, and what is clearly an amused expression on her face. "Hey Rach, what happens if Alice wants to be a dancer or a singer?" Rachel looks over at her with her eyebrows furrowed a bit.
"It isn't a matter of 'if', Quinn, it will happen eventually," she says, and just smirks when Quinn gives her an annoyed look. The conversation of expectations came up early in the pregnancy. Quinn doesn't want their daughter to feel pressured into being anything other than herself, while she had no doubt Rachel was already planning their daughter's acceptance speech for the Tony awards. Rachel, however, agreed to not push too much when it came to their daughter getting involved in any particular activity, but Quinn could tell she was holding out hope.
"Anyway, if she wants to be a dancer or a singer than we'll put her in the best classes that we can afford. Maybe we'll let her enter some competitions if she wants to, but I don't want to force her into it," she says, and her jaw drops a little when Quinn gives her the look that can only mean 'you are so full of it'. "I mean it, Quinn. I loved competing, but there were some kids that didn't want to be there, but their parents were those awful stage moms. Those kids were miserable all the time, and they resented their moms and dads. I don't want our girl to grow up feeling that." She gently lays her hand down on top of Alice's head, and the baby squirms inside the sling.
"But what do you think you'll do if Alice does want to compete and every time she does some other little kid always wins, and she comes home and cries herself to sleep because she feels like all of her hard work is for nothing, and she'll always be a loser?" Quinn asks, and Rachel's eyebrows furrow.
"Ok, I see your point," she says and smiles at her dad when he sets a plate on the plate in front of her and Quinn. There's enough fruit, toast, and homemade granola for two people, plus a small bowl of cinnamon oatmeal made with almond milk. She takes the two forks and spoon from him, and sets one down in front of Quinn, on top of her tablet. "Thank you, Daddy." She looks back at Quinn, and the blonde is already stabbing a cube of mango.
"Anyway, just because she was upset about her daughter not winning doesn't give her the excuse to take all of that frustration out on me. I was only six, she was the adult she should have had the emotional maturity to take the higher ground," she says, and takes a large bite of her oatmeal. Quinn smiles, and uses her thumb to gently wipe the little bit of goo left behind on the corner of Rachel's mouth.
"I know that, dear, and I'm not saying she was in the right. Just trying to give you a little bit of insight into the mind of someone who projects their feelings onto other people," she says, and takes another bite of fruit, a pineapple this time. She ignores the small sad smile that Rachel gets on her face because she knows the diva is thinking of the time they spent in high school when Quinn did exactly that.
"I don't think Alice is going to be a dancer or a singer," Leroy says and takes another sip of his coffee. He gets a small smirk on his face when Rachel gives him a death glare. It didn't faze him at all since it was something he saw almost every day while raising her.
"What do you think she's going to be?"Quinn asks, and leans her head down just enough to plant a soft kiss against the top of Alice's head. The baby squirms again, but doesn't wake. She watches her for a moment, almost unable to tear her gaze away. A small smile pulls at her lips as she studies the little life in her arms. She holds Alice's little fist in her hand, and gently runs her thumb along the impossibly small knuckles. She completely understands how Rachel was unable to control herself that morning and accidentally wake the baby up in the process. It's almost impossible not to touch, or kiss the soft wrinkly skin.
"I think she's going to rebel against growing up in an artistic household and become something sensible like an accountant, or a lawyer, or a surgeon," Leroy's voice seems to break the spell Quinn was under. She looks up at him with another small smile on her face, and he catches her eye for a moment. They share a smirk and look sideways at Rachel who just rolls her eyes and goes back to munching on her brunch.
She looks back down at the sleeping baby and whispers softly, "Oh, do you wanna be a surgeon, Alice? You can support your mommies' when we retire and move somewhere warm and tropical." She pops a strawberry in her mouth and almost chokes trying not to laugh when Rachel smacks her in the arm.
"Please, Quinn, I would like to not be a burden on our children when we get older. As long as we remain sensible about our finances we should be able to support ourselves," she says and takes another bite of her oatmeal.
"You do realize you're probably going to end up taking care of us, right?" Hiram asks as he walks back over to the table again. He's holding two more plates, and a jar of grape jelly is tucked in the crook of his elbow. He puts down one plate in front of Leroy, and finally sits at the table and joins the others, his back to the camera.
"Daddy, we're not going to need to take care of you. You're big and strong," she says with a cheeky grin. He picks up a strawberry off of Quinn's plate, and throws it at Rachel. She fights back a shriek when it lands in her shirt, and she immediately starts fishing for it.
"Nice shot, Zeydeh," Quinn says with a chuckle, using the nickname that Rachel taught her for the first time. The vibration of her chest makes Alice squirm, and she looks down at her resting newborn. "Tell him, Alice, say, 'that was a great shot, Zeydeh'." She laughs again when she feels the sharp smack of Rachel's hand against her upper arm. She looks up just in time for an agitated looking Rachel hold the strawberry up to her lips. Quinn smiles and carefully takes the berry into her mouth.
When she looks down at the baby again, she sees one little blue eye partially open, and a little eyebrow furrowed in a very agitated manner. "Rach, look," she whispers, and reaches out for Rachel's hand. "Looks like someone decided to join us for brunch." She watches completely hypnotized as Alice looks up at her with a frown on her face. "You woke her up, and she is not happy about it, are you baby?" She begins to lightly pat her on her diapered bottom, and Rachel gives her a very offended look.
"I didn't wake her up, that was all you," she says, and looks back down at her little girl. Her frown immediately disappears, and she can't help but smile. Her smiles get a little wider when Quinn leans over, pressing her lips softly to her cheek. Rachel rests her head against Quinn's shoulder, nuzzling her neck a little, and leaving a quick kiss on the warm skin. "I still can't believe she's really here."
"I know. It still feels like a weird fever dream or something," Quinn says, and Rachel can't help the small chuckle that reverberates in the back of her throat.
"You did not just call our baby a 'fever dream'," she says with laughter in her voice and she bites her bottom lip to stop her smiling from growing too wide when she hears Quinn laugh. Alice's eyebrows furrow when Quinn's chest rumbles, and she squirms a little more. Rachel reaches over, and gently rubs her back through the sling, and she quickly settles down again.
"I'm just saying that it feels really strange. It does feel like being stuck in a fever dream, and any minute I'm going to wake up and she's going to be gone," she says, her throat suddenly tight and her voice slightly strained.
"Oh, sweetheart," Rachel says, and plants a soft, comforting kiss on her jaw line, then the middle of her cheek, then her cheekbone, and a lingering one on her temple. Quinn closes her eyes and hums when a tingly warm feeling settles throughout her entire body at Rachel's gentle kisses. She always seems to know how to calm her down when she's feeling anxious or worried about something, even if it's the most arbitrary thing.
"Quinn," Hiram says after a few moments of silence. "Are you sure you don't want some bacon? I made a couple extra pieces just in case." The blonde has to cover her mouth to stop the laughter from escaping, but her whole body trembles a bit with the effort. Alice lets out a grunt, and squirms around again, and Quinn can feel her little legs pushing against the sling.
"Dad," Rachel says, sounding nothing but annoyed as she rolls her eyes and gives her father a look of irritation. "Quinn isn't going to eat meat while she's breast feeding. She already told you that."
"Are you afraid it's going to make the milk bacon flavored and Alice will grow up to be a carnivore? Because I don't think that's how it works," he says, and puts one slice of the crispy strip on Quinn's plate. "Here," he stage whispers, "It'll be our secret." Rachel rolls her eyes again, but doesn't say anything. She just picks up her spoon and goes back to her oatmeal.
Quinn bites her bottom lip, and looks down at the plate. The room goes quiet as everyone continues to eat their brunch, and they don't notice the tears welling up in Quinn's eyes. They don't see the way her bottom lip quivers even as she tries to hide it. No one notices a thing until she sniffles as thick tears slowly trail down her face as her nose turns red, and her breathing gets a little shallow.
Rachel looks up at the sound, and her brows immediately furrow at the sight. She puts down her spoon, and gently touches Quinn on the shoulder, trying to get the blonde to look at her. She doesn't look up, and Rachel can't help but feel a little frustrated.
"Sweetie, what's wrong?" she asks, concern lacing her voice. She gently wipes away Quinn's tears with the backs of her fingers, and leaves another kiss on her temple. The gentle caress just seems to make it worse, and her whole body starts to tremble.
"Nothing," she says, the word quivers with unsteady breath, and she sniffles loudly, looking as if she's trying to hold back a flood. Judy goes to stand up, worry written all over her face. Rachel looks over at the movement, and softly shakes her head, telling the woman to stay where she is. She sits back against the chair with a frown on her face as she watches her baby's pain feeling completely helpless.
"Baby, you can tell us, it's ok," Rachel says, and gently rubs Quinn's back. The comforting gesture calms her down a little; her body isn't shaking anymore, and her breathing is almost back to normal, but the tears continue to fall.
"It's just," she says, and sniffles. "When I was a little girl, like four or five, my dad would take me and my sister out to breakfast after church on Sundays." She hiccups a little, her breathing getting shallow again, and she seems almost frustrated with herself as she tries to get the words out.
"And-and before we sat down at the booth, he would always reach into his pocket and give us a quarter, and tell us that we could get a piece of candy from the little machine, and we could eat it before breakfast." She takes in a deep breath, very slowly, and holds it in an attempt to calm down. "He always told us not to tell mom, that it was just our little secret." She continues to breathe deeply, and as she does so the tears slowly disappear.
"What are you really trying to say, Quinnie?" Judy asks, her voice soft, and gentle. Quinn glances up at her, but can't take the looks that everyone is giving her. She feels crazy, out of her mind with hormones and sleep deprivation, and she's embarrassed for losing it like that. Instead of looking at her mother, or dealing with the looks that Hiram and Leroy are giving her, she looks down at Alice. She wraps her arms around the sling, supporting the tiny body inside, and she gently rocks her, more to sooth herself than the baby.
"Quinn," Rachel says, and gently kisses her on the temple. She rests her head against Quinn's shoulder, and looks down at the sleeping baby. She knows it's easier for the blonde to open up when she isn't being stared at. She says it makes her feel like there's less pressure to be completely honest. "Sweetheart, are you thinking about changing your mind about your dad? It would be ok if you do."
A few tense seconds go by, and both Leroy and Hiram get up from the table. They place their dishes in the sink, and take their turns giving their daughter a kiss on the side of her head. "Hey Judy, why don't we walk down to that corner market and pick up something special for dinner? I'm sure these two are going to need a break tonight," Leroy says with a small smile on his face.
Judy reluctantly stands, but shakes her head no. She bites her bottom lip as she looks at her daughter, worry clearly etched in her expression. "If you don't mind I think I'll lay down for a bit in the guest room." Quinn looks up, her red rimmed eyes look into her mother's and she looks a little skeptical. "Quinnie, why don't you pump after you're done with brunch, and I'll take the night shift tonight so you girls can get some rest?"
"Ok, Mom," she says with another little sniffle. The three of them clear out of the kitchen, leaving their children alone. The room is completely silent except for the little sounds coming from the sling. Every sigh, every little groan, and every time Alice twitches in her sleep and rubs against the sling can be heard.
Rachel lets out a little sigh, and lifts her head just enough to place a gentle kiss on Quinn's cheek. She softly nuzzles her blonde's neck with her nose before settling back down. She yawns, her mouth opening wide, and her eyes water up from the pressure of it.
"How tired are you right now?" she asks halfway through, her voice sounding higher pitched and strange.
"I feel like I'm about to drop, and my boobs hurt so bad they feel like they're about to fall off," she says with a light chuckle that carries the weight of just how exhausted and sore she is.
"What are we going to do when our parents leave?" Rachel asks, her voice a little shaky as she gently rubs her forehead against Quinn's shoulder. The blonde smiles a little and kisses the top of the brunette's head.
"Call Santana and Brittany," she says, and Rachel can't help but laugh a little.
The conversation peters out and the room once again falls into a comfortable silence. Rachel lifts her head away from Quinn and watches the blonde with a thoughtful look on her face, as her wife stares down at their sleeping baby with a small smile on her face. Rachel sucked her bottom lip between her teeth, and chewed on it as she continued to watch Quinn. Her eyebrows furrowed a little more causing a wrinkle to show up between them.
"Just say it, Rachel," Quinn says softly, but she doesn't look up. Rachel lets out a little sigh, and runs her fingers through her long hair.
"Have you been thinking about your dad more?" she asks, her voice a little timid, and she eyes Quinn's face very closely, looking for any signs that she's about to have another breakdown. This wasn't the easiest subject for Quinn to talk about, even when she wasn't sleep deprived or flooded with extra hormones.
"Yeah," she says solemnly, and her eyes dart up to Rachel's face for a few seconds before quickly looking back down at the baby.
"Do you want to get in touch with him? I mean, is that what you've been thinking about or are you just thinking about things you used to do together?" she asks, her voice still timid and hesitant. Quinn lets out a little sigh and rolls her head along her shoulders, popping her neck before picking up her fork and poking at the fruit still left on the plate.
"A little bit of both," she says. "Mom said he's doing better, that he's been to rehab and he's in AA, and hasn't had a drop to drink in three years. Apparently he even does volunteer work at the homeless shelter the church runs and he fosters sick dogs until they're healthy enough to find a home." Rachel's face scrunches in confusion.
"When did she say all of this?" she asks, and pulls her legs up onto the chair. She rests her chin on her knees.
"Last night when I was feeding Alice," she says and looks over at her wife with a small smile on her face. "She was still a little fussy after I burped her and I didn't want her to wake you so we sat in the living room. Mom came out for a glass of water, and we talked for a while. It sounds almost too good to be true, but I trust her. I know she wouldn't lie about this or exaggerate."
"Do you think you would be able to handle talking with him on the phone? I can take care of Alice for a while so you can sleep for a bit first, if you'd like. Maybe it won't feel so overwhelming after a nap," she says and Quinn looks up at her, her expression sharp as her eyes search Rachel's expression.
"Why are you so quick to forgive everything he's done to us? Done to you and your dads? He was an awful person to you guys in Lima even when you were just a little kid. Don't you care about any of that?" she asks, her voice higher than normal, a hint of distress laced in her words. Rachel gently rubs her back in an effort to calm her down, but it doesn't seem to work.
"I'm not so quick to forgive, ok?" she says, and takes a drink of juice. "I just remember what it was like growing up when every year for Hanukah we'd go out of town to visit my grandparents, and for Christmas we would visit my other grandparents. It was the only time of year I got to see them since they didn't handle traveling well. By the time I was fourteen all of them had passed away, and getting to spend that time with them means so much to me.
"If your dad really has changed, and he wants to prove that he's ready to at least be a good grandfather then I don't want Alice to miss out because we're holding a grudge. I know he wasn't a good father to you and your sister, and there's no excuse for that, but maybe he's ready to start making up for it."
By the time she's finished talking, Quinn has big tears slowly sliding down her face. She sniffles and wipes at her eyes with her knuckles as her bottom lip trembles. She holds her breath in an attempt to get herself under control, but it doesn't work very well. She doesn't hesitate at all to rest her head against Rachel's shoulder when her love leans forward and carefully wraps her up in a hug, taking great care not to squish Alice.
"I want to call him," her quiet whisper can barely be heard; muffled by her face being buried against Rachel's neck.
"Ok, sweetie," she responds, and kisses the top of Quinn's head. "Do you wanna take a nap first?" Quinn nods and sits up straight, wiping away the last of her tears, and takes in a few deep, calming breaths. "Why don't you go ahead and lay down? I'll be in a minute, alright?" Quinn just nods again, and gives Rachel a soft lingering kiss on the lips. When it breaks apart, the brunette has a small smile on her face, but Quinn just looks exhausted. They both get up from the table, and Quinn makes her way out of the room as Rachel walks over to the microwave, and the screen cuts to black.