Disclaimer: I don't own them! Just having fun.
A/N: It should be noted in advance that I treat all of my characters fairly. So if lack of Finn-bashing bothers you, close this window now. I won't be upset.
You're supposed to be getting married right now.
Well, no. Technically you were supposed to get married twenty minutes ago, but Quinn's on her way and there's just—you can't—
It's fine. It's fine to push it back to the next slot. It's just that she needs to be here. (She wasn't going to be, you asked her not to be, but that's behind you and it's better and she just has to be here so that you can know that for sure.)
To pass the time and distract yourself from Finn's anxious pacing, you start making lists in your head. You think about what songs you'd be dancing to at the reception you're no longer going to have, because you pushed up the date. You've had an ongoing debate with your fathers for years, because it's hard to navigate the traditional Daddy/Daughter dance with so many partners—but you'd ultimately decided on "Sunrise, Sunset" from Fiddler on the Roof: you'd dance with Dad for the first verse and chorus, and Daddy for the second, and then you'd end in a family huddle. Only now you won't, of course, because there is no reception, no DJ, no dance.
Finn catches your eye for just a moment, and gives a tentative attempt at a smile, and you feel your heart unclench the tiniest bit.
You try and think of couples who got married before age 20 and made it work. The only one you can come up with is Romeo and Juliet, which is hardly reassuring, but there have to be some you're just forgetting. Dozens. Hundreds. It's just that you can't concentrate right now.
And then Coach Sylvester gets a phone call.
Quinn has always been your standard for beauty.
The thing is, puberty is hard when you've got nothing but two dads and Google to go to for advice. You barely survived middle school—perpetually uninformed and painfully awkward as you were—but at least back then it kind of felt like everyone was as confused as you.
And then you walked into McKinley High and set your eyes on Quinn Fabray.
Suddenly she was all you could think about. How to carry yourself, how to dress (before repeat slushies rendered thrift shopping a necessity, anyway), how to act around boys… every thought was suddenly evaluated through the filter of What Would Quinn Fabray Do?
The issue of shaving particularly tripped you up, because you've never gotten sweaty enough in a gym class to need the showers, and it's just… it didn't seem polite to peek. You intended to ask Miss Pillsbury, but chickened out at the last minute and ended up talking to her about actual gardening and topiary, which was fascinating but hardly helpful. Which left you back at the start, with nothing but your mantra to help you.
It doesn't occur to you until much later that the amount of mental power you used imagining how much hair Quinn had and where and what she touched to get rid of it went somewhat beyond the normal need teenage girls felt to compare themselves to others.
They won't let you in to see her.
Of course, that's hardly relevant at the moment. Her mom hasn't been in to see her. Her mom doesn't even know if her condition is actually stable, because it's been an hour and a half and she's still in surgery, and she could stay there all day, and you just can't wrap your mind around that, no matter how hard you try.
It can't be real. It isn't true. The fact that somewhere not to far from here Quinn is on a table, bleeding, broken, it doesn't—
Finn follows you into the restroom, which is actually a good thing because he stops you from getting vomit all over your wedding dress. (The wedding dress that Quinn didn't stay to watch you buy, because she walked out, because you asked her to, and you cannot for the life of you understand why you would do that.) Finn takes off your veil and holds your hair back as you heave, and you think that's probably a good definition of love. You hope it is.
When you've exhausted yourself and can't find the energy to retch, you wash your mouth out with tap water and follow Finn back to the waiting room.
You think waiting rooms are just about the cruelest concept in the history of the world.
You weren't going to visit her in the hospital, sophomore year. You figured you'd be about the last person she wanted to see. But then Noah texted you, saying she'd requested your presence, and you were so taken aback by that idea that you just got in your car and drove over.
You don't know what you were expecting to hear, but "I gave the baby to your mom" wasn't even remotely close to being on the list.
Of course, now, all you can think about is how you would give anything to be sitting in this hospital knowing that Quinn is giving life instead of possibly losing it, and how two out of three is a horrifying statistic for hospital stays after Regionals performances.
Finn puts his arm around you, and at some point, you drift off into an anxious doze.
You'd thought of her as Lucy for years before you found out the truth. It was a codename you used to protect her identity in your angsty blog posts—Lucy Van Pelt.
Because that was what she was to you. A cartoon. The cruel girl you wanted desperately to be your friend. The one who would offer you what you wanted, make it seem like she was finally giving you a chance, and then—just before you could at last make glorious contact—would pull the football out from under your feet, leaving you helpless on your back, wind knocked out of you.
By the time you found out the name was real, you had long since realized it didn't quite fit.
You only know you're dreaming because you've been here before—the choir room, going over song selections for Regionals. Only it was last year, and you remember, because this conversation—
"I think Rachel and I should sing a duet. We killed it last year at Regionals with 'Faithfully.'"
"Yeah, killed us. We lost."
—is more than familiar. It's not the first time you've thought about this moment, because you know Quinn had a point, but it all just seems so sinister now. And when you wake up, Finn is gone.
Finn is gone.
You fell asleep resting against his shoulder, you're sure of it, but you're leaning against Daddy now, and you're certain that's not how you left things. It's not right. It's not—
"Where is he?" you ask, growing more alert by the second.
He blinks at you. "Sweetheart?"
"Finn. Where is he?"
"I don't know, he—"
"You don't know?"
People are starting to stare now. You don't care.
"He said he wanted to clear his head. The chaplain came by offering to talk, Finn might've—"
"The chaplain? The chapel. Daddy, there's a chapel!"
"Rachel, slow down, why are you—?"
"Hospitals have chapels, right? If there's a chaplain there's a chapel. We can do it here. Now. I want to—I want this—I need to—" You're not very coherent, you know, but this is important, and you just—"I'm still in my dress and everything. We can do it here. Everyone is here."
Daddy is crying now and you don't know why. "Rachel…"
You're frantic. "He can't just leave. We need to be married so he can't leave me anymore."
… Oh, you think.
That's why Daddy's crying.
Finn comes back within fifteen minutes; you're mostly fine by then, but you know your eyes are still red and puffy, and you know he can tell you've been crying. Something feels different when he takes you up in his arms again; like you're broken and he's just gathering up your pieces, instead of holding you together like he always has before.
You still haven't taken off your dress.
(You can't. You can't take off the dress, you can't go home, you can't afford to fall asleep again. If you do that then this horrible day is over and real and you'll wake up to another one just like it.)
You were supposed to get married today. It was supposed to be unforgettable. The most memorable, indelible day of your life.
It probably still will be, and that terrifies you.
They can't kick you out of the waiting room, no matter when visiting hours are. There's a kind of comfort in that. Some kids leave, either because their parents pick them up and force them or because they're exhausted and promise to return in the morning, but there's always a core group of you, waiting, hoping.
You certainly can't leave until you at least know she's out of surgery and okay.
A little past two a.m., the doctor comes out and lets Mrs. Fabray in to see Quinn. She comes out of the room bawling her eyes out, and tells you all to go home and get some rest. That Quinn should be stable for now, and that you should be able to see her in the morning, as long as she remains so.
You go back to the Hudson-Hummels to sleep, because you won't let Finn out of your sight again, and he'll be car-pooling in the morning anyway with Kurt. Nobody says a word in protest, which is only to be expected—after all, it should have been your wedding night. A garment bag for your dress, your clothes, your toothbrush, were all waiting for you when you finally stumble into his bedroom.
Finn holds you for hours; neither of you sleep.
(Which you had imagined, in a way. Not like this.)
They're true to their word; when you arrive the next morning, they let you in to see her. In pairs only, they say, and you almost laugh because what choice do you have? You can't even let go of Finn's hand.
He makes you feel normal, though, by squeezing back just as tightly. It's alright to feel this bad when he feels bad, and you know he's… well. He's not okay and you don't blame him—Quinn was the first girl he ever loved, and you think you understand how that feels.
You don't know what to do when you catch yourself thinking that.
(She looks… terrible. You've never seen her look terrible before; in a way, that's the scariest part. Because Quinn Fabray wouldn't let herself be seen like this, only Quinn's not in here, Quinn has no choice.)
Your dads make you go back to school on Monday. You see your own deadened, glassy look reflected back at you on the face of everyone else in glee as they too stumble through the halls like zombies; it doesn't help. In homeroom Principal Figgins reads an announcement over the loudspeaker, because the article in the paper that mentioned the crash didn't give a name, and nobody knows. Knew.
You hate them all for reacting like it affects them. Like they cared about her.
Your teachers give you sympathetic looks all day, and you hate them a little bit, too. But they're lighter on homework for glee kids, because they know you're all distracted by the trauma.
(They tell you to go to Miss Pillsbury if you feel like you need someone to talk to. You think that if you needed to talk to Emma Pillsbury, you would have done it in the two straight days she spent in the hospital with you.)
Mr. Schue cancels glee, which is silly because you end up spending the time together anyway—just not in the choir room. Tina works out a carpool system so that you don't take up too many spaces in the visitor's parking lot, and you all go over to the hospital after school.
The club unanimously votes Quinn Regionals MVP. The trophy looks ridiculous in her hospital room, but it doesn't belong anywhere else.
That night you call Shelby, because Beth needs to know, and Quinn needs Beth, and Puck was too afraid to do it. He thought Shelby wouldn't take his call. You don't know why he thought she'd take yours, but she does.
She cries when she finds out, and you feel a small thrill of vindictive pleasure at telling her. You hope she feels broken. You hope she feels responsible.
Like mother, like daughter, after all.
They say that she may not ever regain use of her legs; that nerve damage may cause paralysis, and there's no way to measure the extent of the problem until she comes to.
This ends you.
You think about Quinn cheering. You only ever went to a few games; mostly to watch Finn play, back when Quinn was his girlfriend and everything was different. Nevertheless, she stands out in your memory—more, you think, than she should. You don't know much about cheerleading, but it always made her seem powerful. Not just socially, but physically. She dominated: her movements methodical, accurate, sharp and precise.
You think about Quinn dancing, and how it was always the opposite—how it seemed to be the only time when you noticed a distinct lack of rigidity in her posture. As if she were most relaxed when anyone else would be at their most tense: concentrating, working hard, keeping the beat. Brittany and Mike tie for the most naturally gifted dancer, and you'd like to think you're the most practiced, but Quinn… Quinn was the most beautiful. Everything about her body turned fluid and lyrical in those moments.
You do not think—you cannot think—about how she may never do either of those things again. Because Quinn without those things isn't Quinn.
(And you know she was Lucy before she was Quinn, and maybe in some ways that was better, but she's all out of names and a person only gets so many do-overs in life.)
It scares you to think she may become someone you do not recognize.
On Day 5, they start letting you see her one at a time.
You're glad. You're ready to let go of Finn's hand now; he can't help you through this anymore. You know for a fact you haven't been helping him. And besides, you don't like everyone watching you grieve.
(You don't like that you're grieving, either, but you don't know what else to call it. Even if she lives, how does she survive this?)
When you were younger, and upset, Daddy would pull you onto his lap so you could rest your head on his chest while you waited for Dad to come back with a glass of water.
"You are my daughter," he would say, even though the kids at school said that you couldn't be, that you were the wrong colors and they had the wrong parts and that you liked the wrong things, "and you can hear it, did you know that? I can prove it. Listen. My heart knows your name." And sure enough, when you listened hard, the gentle beating of his heart turned into Ra-chel, Ra-chel in your ear.
You want nothing more than to be able to do that now, to curl up against Quinn and listen, but there's no room for you, even if you felt comfortable trying it—Quinn is surrounded by wires and tubes and machines that are living for her.
But you can still take her hand, and—there it is.
If you close your eyes and focus, you can hear your name thrumming through Quinn's veins. Miraculously alive. You can't find the words to describe how comforting it is.
Like her body knows the words to your favorite song. Like she misses you.
You need her to wake up.
Exactly a week after the accident, Quinn crashes.
(Again. Quinn crashes again.)
You don't know what that means. You barely knew what it meant last week, but at least cars and trucks make sense to you, as much as anything about this makes sense. But you don't understand comas or blood pressure or how she could be breathing without the ventilator one moment and have a collapsed lung the next. All you know is that alarms started going off and the doctors look haggard and determined as they drag her towards the OR, and that's really all it takes to scare you.
Still. You wish they would stop shouting She's crashing.
It was hard enough to hear the first time.
After another surgery, Quinn pulls through. And several hours later, you can finally be alone with her. (Or maybe just alone. They say coma patients can hear you, in movies, but you have no idea what you could possibly say to make this better. You don't think you'd have the courage to say it even if you had the words.)
You've gotten very good at holding her hand in the past eight days, but that doesn't seem like it's enough anymore. It didn't stop her from crashing. (You never stop her from crashing. Your fault.) But she's here now, in front of you, breathing on her own, and she saves herself so spectacularly every time you fail her. Even when she's unconscious. You're in awe.
You bring the hand you're holding to your lips, gratitude seeping from your every pore. They're not so much kisses as muted hallelujahs pressed against her skin, blessing the gentle spider web of veins, pale blue under paler flesh, and the blood that flows through them. Urging on the symphony of healing in her cells.
You've never understood the phrase "I know it like the back of my hand," because you've never been truly sure you'd be able to pick the back of your hand out of a lineup. It just never seemed like a particularly extraordinary body part.
You're certain you would recognize Quinn's, now.
You're still having that dream about song selection, but it changes every time.
"I think Rachel and I should sing a duet together. We killed it this year with the wedding and stuff."
"Yeah, killed me."
Every time you wake, you're more and more sure that your engagement is somehow toxic; that it infected everything around it. That's not what love is supposed to be, and while that's not how thinking about Finn feels, the evidence seems stacked against you.
You find him nursing a cup of coffee outside Quinn's room one morning, staring at her listlessly through her little window.
"How long have you been here?" you ask gently. You were sure you'd be the first one at the hospital today; it's still quite early.
"I never left," he replies.
"Oh. I…" You were going to say I didn't know, but that's obvious. You can't even remember the last time you really talked to him. And shouldn't you be leaning on him now more than ever? "I'm sorry I haven't really been there for you."
"You're being there for her. That's… that's way more important," he says, halting but sure. He still hasn't turned to look at you, and you feel a surge of love for him for doing this, for his silent vigil, for watching over Quinn all night. "I don't know how to do anything else, either."
"Has there been any change?"
"Nah. Stable since sundown." He drains the last of his Styrofoam cup, and finally shifts his gaze to you. "What about you? Are you okay?"
"Me neither," he says, and you can tell by the turn of his lips that he's trying to smile or laugh it off, but… it's not a joke. It's not funny. "God, I feel so messed up."
"Is this what us being together does to people?" you ask, voice raspy and hollow. "Is our love going to do this to us?"
You both know you're really asking Did we do this to Quinn? And you know that no matter how he answers, you both believe the answer is yes.
You don't know how to bounce back from that.
You don't try.
Wordlessly, you slip off the engagement ring and place it into his open palm. Your finger feels naked, and your chest… it hurts. You can barely breathe through the pressure.
It feels like you're giving away a part of yourself. But even snakes have to shed their skin to grow.
The first time you squeeze Quinn's hand without Finn's ring on your finger is the first time she squeezes back.
It's hard not to think of it as a sign.
That night, Finn comes by your house with a box in his hands; you immediately recognize your yoga mat awkwardly sticking out of the top, and oh god, you know exactly what kind of box this is.
"There's more in the back of the truck," he says awkwardly, shifting the weight of the cardboard in his arms to hold it more easily. "Your clothes and stuff. I couldn't carry it all at once."
"Why aren't you fighting me on this?" you ask, voice breaking. It's not like you wish he would, but to be honest, you very much expected him to.
"Because you're right," he says, and now his voice is breaking, and you never could stand seeing him cry. "Like, I was thinking about it, while I packed all this up. It seemed like a lot of stuff at first, and then… and then I thought, man, if we were gonna get married, this is barely any stuff at all. You know?"
You can't hold back your tears. "I'm not ready to be someone's wife," you choke through them, and your shoulders get a thousand times lighter when you finally say it out loud. "But god, I really wanted to be yours."
You let him in and you make love one last time, and it's awesome and awful and you are so, so grateful to have a chance to say goodbye, no matter how bittersweet. It's something you're learning this week—the value of a natural conclusion, of knowing there's no unfinished business. Everything with Quinn is unfinished business, everything with her required more time and more effort and more understanding than you had, and it's been killing you that you might not get any more chances.
After, he goes back out to his car and fetches the last of your things, and the two of you put your room back together, fitting in all the missing pieces that you'd given him—the photos on the shelves, the toothbrush, the shampoo, the earrings. While you pack up his things to return home with, he lovingly re-folds the sweaters he packed and puts them back in your drawers, and hangs your dresses in your closet in Roy G. Biv order, just the way you like them. He kisses you on the cheek when he leaves.
The clothes he returned smell like him, which means his mom must have washed them one last time, because she's the only one in that house who knows how to use fabric softener. (Kurt gets everything dry cleaned.)
And somehow you'd thought you were mature enough to be married.
You used to keep a diary, until you and Finn got serious again.
It was used most freshman year, when you truly had no one to talk to, and you poured everything into it—the things not even your blog could keep safe, the trespasses against you that you were too ashamed to tell your fathers about, the desires you knew everyone your age had but somehow seemed so different when you were the one having them. I want everything too much, you'd told Noah later, but you got the feeling—you still get the feeling—that you don't, really. It's just that no one else seems to think you should be allowed to want things at all.
You kept a tally, for a while. All of the good things that happened to you every week versus all of the bad things. Sometimes they would even out, and it felt wonderful to know that the power of positivity worked, that karma was on your side.
Other weeks, though…
You haven't kept score against Quinn Fabray in years, because she'd managed to defeat you every single time.
(You almost burned them, when you finally came home for the first time after the weekend split between Finn's and the hospital. You could have killed her, you may have killed her, and no amount of verbal abuse would ever, ever even the scale in your favor. For all the terrible things she did, you know now that you are infinitely more horrible.)
The day after you and Finn split up, Quinn shows enough signs of healing that they decide to lift her from her medically-induced coma. She could come to any time, now.
You find a blank page and start writing.
You start going to the hospital in the mornings, before school. Judy's had to start going to work again, so you always get time alone with Quinn. It's crazy and it's selfish, but—everyone goes after school, now, and you just can't help but hope that she'll wake up just for you. You don't want to have to share her when she does.
You keep waiting for everyone else to catch on, or for someone else to have the same idea. Santana or Brittany, probably. Maybe Finn.
On one rainy Sunday morning, you find Sam.
"Oh," you say, unable to keep the surprise out of your voice. "I didn't think…" you cared is a terrible way to end that sentence, but it's the only thing you can think of.
"Hey, Rachel. And, um, it's Sunday, so…"
He says it like that's supposed to explain everything, but it doesn't. "So, what?"
"Mercedes and I have been trading off weeks. One of us goes to church, and one of us comes here. We meet up after."
You remember that Quinn used to live with Mercedes, back when she was pregnant, and it hits you for the first time and all over again that you're not the only one who's hurting. You're not the only one who adores her.
"It's so stupid," Sam says, and you hope he hasn't been talking this whole time and you've just been ignoring him. "Like, we dated. I used to be in love with her. And then, and then she was my best friend. We used to be so close. And now she's just… nothing."
You don't know how to respond to that, but the anger must show on your face, because he quickly backtracks.
"That came out wrong. It's not that Quinn's nothing to me, or nothing at all, I just—I don't know how we got here. How we could have drifted so far apart. You know?"
That part you understand. "We all should have done better by her than we did," you say softly.
"Do you pray for her?"
"What?" he asks, and you hope he's merely surprised, not offended.
"I'm sorry, it's just—you mentioned going to church, and Mercedes, and I know the fact that you share your faith is important to all three of you." You think about last year, and the prayer circle for Burt Hummel, and how Quinn showed up just because you asked her to. (And that's you and Quinn all over, really. She's never who you wanted her to be, and only there when you needed her because she found pleasure in saying the things you least wanted to hear, but she would always, always show up if you asked.)
"Yeah. Yeah, we do."
"Do you mind if… could I come?"
Which is how you end up spending your afternoon at Mercedes' house, singing songs from Godspell because she happens to have the sheet music and they're the closest things to psalms you know. You'd rather be at the hospital, but this is the only way you can appeal to Quinn's God, and you feel like she'd appreciate the effort.
(Sam plays the fast songs slow and the slow songs slower, and for the first time, the lyrics have meaning to you. "Sick, we come to thee for cure; guilty, we seek thy mercy sure; evil, we long to be made pure—we beseech thee, hear us. Blind, we pray that we may see; bound, we pray to be made free; stained, we pray for sanctity—we beseech thee, hear us.")
"Is Yale wheelchair-accessible?" Sam asks out of nowhere, when you've exhausted the songbook and you're all just sitting on Mercedes' living room floor, taking comfort in each other's company.
"How can you ask something like that?" you gasp automatically, horrified at the concept.
"I'm not trying to jinx her or anything, I'm just… trying to be realistic. And she shouldn't have to give up on her dreams just because this happened to her."
"She's going to be fine," you say with conviction, because she has to be.
"She only ever applied on a whim," Mercedes says quietly, and you both turn to look at her to get the full story. "Yale. I asked her about it, because I was having so much trouble picking schools, and thought she might have some advice on how to narrow it down. And she just said she remembered thinking a new haven sounded pretty good. That's it. That was what sold her."
The room is silent as you take that in.
It sounds pretty good to you, too.
You're reading to her when it finally happens—Emma, because it's what you're covering in AP English right now, and if what they say about people in comas being able to hear you is true, you're sure she'd appreciate you helping her subliminally keep up with her homework. There's a small noise from the bed, and you actually frown at being interrupted before you realize what's going on. You put the book down.
A few more tiny noises, a groan, and she laboriously opens her eyes.
"Ra—?" she coughs, choking on the rest of your name, and you pour her a glass of water, which she sips down greedily. Her eyes have drifted closed again by the time you take the cup away, and you fight down your alarmed feeling that you've missed your chance.
"Quinn?" you prompt agaim, and you watch yourself swim back into focus in the reflection of her pupils.
You suddenly wish that you'd spent more time preparing for this moment, that you'd thought about something you could possibly say to this girl. Something worthy of being the first thing she hears after so long.
You open your mouth and hope for the best, and manage to tearfully whisper, "Hey beautiful eyes, mind if I party with you?"
…Apparently your best is something Tina Fey said her daughter asked their new baby on a talk show once.
"You're here," Quinn says dazedly, dreamy smile growing on her face, and you realize she'd probably doped to high heaven with pain meds. (This makes you feel better about your lack of a memorable opening line.)
"Of course I'm here," you say, taking her hand.
She frowns at you. "Where's your dress? Did I make it?"
The wedding. She's concerned that she missed your wedding.
"Oh, Quinn, I—yes. You made it. When it was important, you made it. And so did I."
You're not even sure what you're saying, now.
But it's a start.
A/N Yes that's the end, no there won't be a next chapter or a sequel. But that's the fun part! You get to give them the ending they deserve. I really hope you guys enjoyed this; it's been in the works since the episode first aired.