Title: No need to say goodbye
Pairings / Characters: Sue Sylvester, Rachel/Quinn, some Brittany/Santana, Judy and Frannie Fabray, Unholy Trinity friendship, mentions of the rest of the Glee club
Spoilers: AU after S03E14 "On my Way" (a huge part of this was written in the hiatus, it's pretty much just my headcanon of what should have happened), however, I may have used some dialogue of the other episodes whenever I saw fit. The only thing I'm using from the Lucy backstory is the name, because I like it when people have more than one first name, okay.
Summary: Sue's phone hits the ground and the rug has been pulled out from under her feet for the second time in a very short year.
A/N: Title is from the song "The Call" by Regina Spektor. The quote near the end that Rachel says to Quinn is from Joss Whedon, actually, although slightly altered. And all the dialogue you remember from the episodes obviously isn't mine either.
A/N 2: I always enjoy watching Faberry through the eyes of other characters. Also, there simply isn't enough Sue Sylvester in Glee fics. That's a travesty of international proportions and I'm going to fix that one fic at the time. Also, ask me about my Sue Sylvester headcanon. I dare you.
Also, I'm no doctor and I know next to nothing about medical jargon. So there's that.
It's exactly 5:05PM when Sue's cellphone buzzes in the pocket of her tracksuit jacket (black, fitting for the occasion).
The Justice of the Peace frowns at her over the rim of his thick, horn-rimmed glasses. He is visibly irritated by the Pillsbury Dough Boy still trying to convince him to wed him and Mini-Streisand but he's having none of it. The service for the next couple has just begun and Sue rolls her eyes before quietly excusing herself and stepping outside to take the call, leaving the door open a bit so she can still hear the discussion. (It's just too good to miss. And who'd have thought that Rachel Berry would actually keep her marriage on hold for Quinn Fabray? Sue's bookie had it all wrong.)
The caller ID shows an unknown number. Sue frowns at her phone, because only selected individuals have her cellphone number and they're all saved in her phone's address book.
"Sylvester," she answers, already prepared to rip Mr. or Ms. Unknown Number a new one.
By the time the clock shows 5:07PM and the Justice of the Peace insists that everybody who isn't part of the Smith/Goldmann wedding party leave the room immediately or else, Sue's phone hits the ground and the rug has been pulled out from under her feet for the second time in a very short year.
She doesn't remember a lot of what happened afterwards. She barely remembers stumbling back into the room and William noticing her unsteady step, jumping to his feet to catch her just before her knees buckled and she touched the ground.
She remembers a blur of pink in her peripheral vision and Santana kneeling next to her, asking "Miss Sylvester, are you crying?" in a shocked whisper, while Brittany, kneeling next to her was equally stricken.
William was a bit more composed and managed a "Sue, what happened?"
She could've sworn she explicitly requested to have her tear ducts removed over two years ago when she got that eye lift for the Thunderclap photographs, but the truth is that she's crying, bawling almost—damn those pregnancy hormones for making her go soft—and barely managed to choke out a garbled "Q's been in a car accident."
There was a flurry of motions afterwards and the next time she manages to acknowledge her surroundings again she's in a bleak hospital waiting room with a bunch of multi-coloured misfits.
Rachel Berry, cuddled between her dads, and the other girls look like "Bridesmaids" rejects. All of them, including the adults, are in various states of distress. It would be a funny picture, if the reason they are all there wasn't so utterly depressing.
Sue's head snaps to the voice and she spots Judy Fabray standing a few feet away from her. Her eyes are red from crying and a tissue is almost being ripped to shreds in her hands.
Sue slowly gets up, because her legs are still shaky and she doesn't trust William and his curly hair to catch two crying women at once.
For Fabray standards Judy's hair is a mess and she's wearing tattered jeans and an old blouse. It's a far cry from her normal dresses or skirt-and-blazer combo and a testament how shaking up Quinn's mother really is.
"Judy," Sue greets hoarsely.
This time it is Sue who catches an unconsolable Judy Fabray before she collapes to the ground.
They wait for hours. The hustle and bustle of the hospital around them is only interrupted by the rustling of the magazine Santana has a deadgrip on, the occasional sniffle and one of them trying to find a comfortable position on the unyieldingly hard standard plastic hospital waiting room chairs.
It's nearing midnight when a doctor finally walks up to their group and asks "Quinn Fabray?"
They all stand up in unison and Sue is pretty sure that under normal situations this is something William would normally order the kids to sing about, but he's just looking glum next to her.
Judy takes a step forward and the doctor takes it as her cue to address her.
"Miss Fabray?" Judy nods shakely before she takes a few timid steps forward. "Okay. We were able to set all of your daughter's broken bones and stop her internal bleeding. However there is a swelling in her brain we're worried about and some critical damage to her left lung, so we put her in an induced coma, hoping that it'll sort itself out by itself for now before we have to operate again. For now she is in a room in the ICU, resting. Would you like to see her?"
Sue sees Judy nod numbly next to her and when the woman takes a step forward, the whole Glee club does, too. The doctor's eyes widen comically.
"Uh," she stutters, "Only family is allowed in the room right now."
The whole club visibly deflates but Santana takes Brittany's hand in hers and continues to walk forward, past a stricken William. Sue catches Santana's arm as she's about to walk past her.
"Santana," Sue says evenly.
"Miss Sylvester," the girl answers testily, trying to free her arm from Sue's grip but the older woman's hand just tightens even further around it.
"Santana," Sue repeats again, "We're staying here."
"What?!" Santana splutters with disbelief, still trying to free herself. "She said family! Britts and I are family, okay?! We've known each other since kindergarten, we helped her when all that crap went down and her family threw her out like yesterday's garbage, we're besties for life, okay, we're her goddamn family!"
As soon as Santana's voice cracks at the end Brittany gathers her in her arms and rocks her back and forth, trying to calm down her crying girlfriend.
It's an unanimous decision that they all stay in the waiting room and only Judy Fabray goes to see her daughter.
There are moments where Sue wishes that Jean was still around. (Every day of her existence. But especially now.)
Her sister always had a knack for dealing with crying people and she surely would've found a way to make this ragtag bunch at least smile for a little while.
As it is, Sue just silently hands Santana another tissue.
One by one their group gets smaller. The Hudson-Hummel parents go first, citing that they have to work the next day and offer to take some of the Gleeks with them.
Santana adamantly refuses, like Sue expected her to, and so it's pretty obvious that Brittany is going to stay as well.
Will decides to go as well and takes the rest of the Gleeks with him.
Except Rachel, whose eyes are still downcast.
"Rachel," her father begins, sitting down next to her again and gently grabbing her shoulder. "Come on, Racheles, we're going home."
Rachel just shakes her head, her fingers gripping the rustling material of her wedding dress.
"No," she states in a whisper.
"Honey," her other father says as he kneels before her. "You have to go home, you're still in your dress—"
"It's my fault," Rachel says shakely, tears gathering in her eyes. "She was driving to my wedding and I don't know if she went over the speed limit or the other driver was distracted or if she was distracted—what if my constant texting distracted her?" Rachel cries out. "Oh my god I almost killed her!" She goes on hysterically, her fathers trying to calm her down.
Next to Sue Santana's head snaps up and her eyes are murderous, having finally found a willing victim to blame this whole mess on. Before Sue can react Brittany's left hand already clamps down on Santana's right shoulder, pushing her back on the seat she has risen from. Brittany simply shakes her head and Santana deflates again, slumps over and hides her face in her hands, her back heaving.
"I don't wanna go," Rachel whispers, shaking her head against her father's chest.
"It's okay, Mister and Mister Berry," Brittany offers, "If she wants to go home later we can drop her off. And there's like a dozen or so Cheerios sweatpants and t-shirts in the trunk of my car, so we can all change out of our dresses."
One of Rachel's dads looks like he might object, but Sue's raised eyebrow stops him.
As if any of these kids would ever go over the speed limit ever again. They'll probably drive about 10mph underneath it for the rest of their lives or just 10mph at all, if they're ever going to drive again once they'll have to leave the hospital for one reason or another.
It's utterly bizarre for Sue to see Rachel Berry in Cheerios garb. Granted, it's a size too big and she has to roll the legs up and now her white pumps are peeking out from beneath the cotton, but still.
It's just the four of them now. Brittany and Santana have somehow managed to stretch out on a few uncomfortable chairs, holding each other. Rachel has taken off her shoes and is now almost folded upon herself on the chair, her arms around her shins and her face hidden between her knees, the occasional wiggling of her toes her only movement. Except for the giant cloud of almost visible guilt brewing above her.
Sue feels like she's read all of the boring waiting room magazines when, just a quarter to eight, a frazzled looking, young woman almost stumbles her way into the hospital. She spots the four of them sitting in the waiting area and takes long strides towards them, her long blonde hair flowing with the quick movements..
"Miss Sylvester," she greets Sue first before turning to the others. "Britt, Santana," she nods before turning to Rachel. "And …" She trails off.
"Berry," Santana answers for her as Rachel continues to be silent. "Rachel Berry. Hello, Francine."
"Hey Frannie," Brittany greets as well.
Sue can't quite place the sudden spark of recognition in Frannie's eyes at the mention of Rachel's name, so she decides to file it away for later.
"What do we know?" Frannie asks as she sits down next to Rachel, facing Sue.
The eyes of Quinn's older sister are still obviously red from crying as Sue recaps what the doctor told them hours ago.
A short time later Judy returns and takes Frannie back to the room with her. She makes a quick stop at the front desk, talking quietly with one of the nurses, before continuing her way back to her youngest daughter's hospital room, her oldest daughter clutching her hand.
Santana has long ago given up on lying down and is now pacing the entire length of the waiting room back and forth and back again. It's obvious that she's antsy, but that's not the concerning part. The concerning part is that Rachel hasn't moved in hours and Sue has the sneaking feeling that, as a teacher and a responsible adult, she should make sure she's okay.
Santana, however, just plops down unexpectedly in the open seat next to the other girl, startling her in the process.
"It's not your fault, you know," she mutters, her eyes fixed on a spot on the wall just above Brittany's head. "At least not entirely. I know that you're beating yourself up about this in your head, about what happened to her, but it's not completely your fault. Okay. We don't know exactly what happened yet, if she was distracted or the other driver was or if either of them was speeding, okay. And until she tells us otherwise stop thinking that this was your fault, because it's really getting on my nerves."
Sue wonders how much growth happened between all of them without her even noticing.
It's midmorning when Frannie comes back to their group.
"One of the doctors said the swelling has gotten a bit better in the last few hours and that it's okay if you visit her now. Still, only one at a time though, because it's not really visiting hours," Frannie says, looking apologetically at Brittany and Santana.
They slowly make their way to the ICU and once there Sue sees Judy perched on a slightly more comfortable looking chair next to her daughter's bed, clutching her right hand in both of her own.
Before they can even decide who goes in first Brittany has already gently nudged Santana towards the door before linking her right arm with Rachel's left and steering them towards the few chairs lined up at the opposite wall, sitting down just as Judy leaves the room.
It takes another hour and a half before it is Sue's turn, because the girls, understandably, take their time.
Sue softly closes the door after Rachel has left and almost wants to cry at the sight that greets her.
Quinn is hooked up to various machines, including one that helps her breathe, and the constant beeping of all the machinery is already giving Sue a headache and make the back of her eyes burn, although she's just been in the room for maybe a minute. Quinn's body is battered and beaten, Sue can see several hurtful-looking bruises that couldn't be covered by white gauze all over her left side where she isn't covered by the hospital gown and some dried blood underneath her fingernails; there are cuts everywhere and some stitches on her face, mostly the left side, and an eyepatch over her left eye; her body just looks incredibly small and frail, dwarfed by the gigantic hospital bed. There are tubes and wires connected to various parts of her body with suspicious looking fluids flowing either in or out while the IV drip next to the bed steadily drips some drug into the girl's system.
But the bruises are good and the beeping is fantastic, almost like a hymn sung by angels directly into Sue's ears, because it means that Quinn is still breathing, that Quinn is still alive.
Their routine stays pretty much the same over the next couple of days.
Figgins approved her temporary leave of absence (which surprised Will, but considering all the dirt she has on that school, nothing surprises Sue anymore, and it shouldn't surprise Will either) so Sue is in the hospital as much as she can, which pretty much means she only goes home to get another change of clothes and to shower.
She's joined by Quinn's sister, who decided to just skip all of her college classes until her little sister got better, because who needs to graduate grad school when your little sister is in a coma, and who also told her husband in no uncertain terms that she'll stay in Lima until her sister wakes up and gets better and that he better respect that decision or else.
Judy is there as much as her boss allows. Sue mentions that there's probably some kind of Cheerios fund she could dip into that would help Judy out monetarily, but the other woman declines.
"Don't think I don't want to be here," she admits to Sue when it's just the two of them in the room—Frannie was send on a coffee run five minutes ago by Sue—her gaze wistfully set on Quinn and the ventilator that calmly makes her ribcage go up and down. "But I can't stand to be here all day, seeing my child, my baby, like this. It just hurts too much. I need to keep myself occupied before I lose my mind."
Some days it's Sue, Brittany and Santana sitting on a small sofa opposite of Quinn's bed. The girls weren't quite as successful in getting a leave of absence from Figgins, so they're in the hospital every day after school ends. For now Cheerios practice is done by McKinley High's bogus Synchronised Swimming teacher.
"She looks so broken," Santana whispers into the silent room, her eyes fixed on her best friend's body.
Brittany looks somber before her mouth turns into a wide smile. "She kinda looks like Lord Tubbington."
Sue and Santana both turn to the girl with wide eyes.
"Like, you know. When Charity brought him with her he was this tiny, little ball of fur that was pretty much all skin and bones. But he now he's like the biggest cat I know."
Santana snorts indelicately. "So what, Quinn's going to be fat?"
"No," Brittany admonishes her girlfriend. "He fought, okay? He was this weak looking, little, lost kitten and then he fought his way up. He's a fighter. Quinn's a fighter too, you know? Like, what happened to her in the last two years wasn't nearly as bad this but she always fought her way back to the top, even when she looked like a Jolly Rancher that fell into the ashtray for a while there," Brittany trails off, her eyebrows drawn together in thought at Quinn's punk get-up.
Sue smiles softly at both of them and wonders how she could've ever thought that these kids won't turn out all right without her guidance.
Quinn is taken off the ventilator that supports her breathing about a week after she's gotten into the hospital and moved to another part of the ICU. (Sue calls it the not-just-as-intensive-care-but-still-an-intensive-care-unit in her mind.)
The doctors assure Sue and Judy, and about everybody else that asks, that they've ended the induced coma because recent scans show that the swelling has totally disappeared but they're still keeping a close look on her lung. They also shouldn't be expecting a miracle like her waking up the same day, because after all Quinn did suffer a severe head trauma and if she stays in a coma it's because her body is still taking its time to heal.
Rachel stops by every day after school, just like Brittany and Santana, and pretty much lives in the hospital on the weekends.
She doesn't talk, unlike Sue suspected and unlike Brittany and Santana who pretty much talk Quinn's ears off—not that the comatose girl can hear them. She also doesn't sing, something else Sue expected her to do, boasting lengthy ballads about beating the odds and overcoming whatever it is life throws at you, or something.
Absolute radio silence.
She just sits there, quietly, on a chair next to the hospital bed. One hand is holding Quinn's, her thumb gently stroking the skin, the other is clenching and unclenching on her own lap. She keeps looking at Quinn intensely.
For a second Sue entertains the thought of Rachel trying to communicate telepathically.
The day Quinn gets off the ventilator is the first day Sue hears Rachel speak in a week.
"I don't quite understand, you know," she begins, but stops again when words fail her.
Sue looks up from the book she's reading (Hillary Rodham Clinton's biography, as inspiration, because Sue actually decided to tackle being the first female president of the United States next) and frowns at Rachel, thinking that maybe she was talking to Quinn.
"I don't understand why you're here," Rachel starts again, obviously trying to choose her words with great care to not come across as disrespectful. "I mean, I know why the whole Glee club stops by every once in a while, I certainly know why her mom and sister are here, as well as Brittany and Santana and myself, I even understand Mister Schuester and Miss Pillsbury stopping by every once in a while. But you … always seemed to not like your students very much," Rachel ends with a wince as she looks in Sue's direction. "No offense."
Sue chuckles as she closes her book, makes her way to the other side of the bed and sits down in the vacant chair.
"Actually, I've been a friend of the family for a long time."
Rachel's eyes widen in wonder. "Really?"
"Yep," Sue nods, focussing on a spot above Rachel's head, remembering less complicated times in Quinn's life. "When Frannie was in Middle School she was in one of my pre-Cheerios programs and one of my best cheerleaders back then. Quinn had only just about started kindergarten. You never quite forget a kid that tries to climb up to your lap after a formal dinner with their parents and wants you to sing 'Hakuna Matata' with them."
If possible dark-brown eyes widen even more and are now set on Quinn's face in utter disbelief.
Sue hums. "I've pretty much known Quinn all of her life. I'm not proud of some of the decisions I made regarding her situations in the past two and a half years. I'm truly sorry for that. But I was always proud of her. She's like the daughter I never had," Sue ends, her right hand reaching towards her own stomach almost like muscle memory.
Rachel's eyes flit down to the familiar movement she remembers from Quinn and keeps her gaze locked on it for a few moments before her eyes lift up to Sue's.
"I know that I have my fair share of mommy issues," she mumbles before her voice gets louder, "But for what it's worth. I think you're going to make a good mom."
Tears spring to Sue's eyes—damn those hormones—before she chokes out a heartfelt "Thank you."
Sue expected Rachel to go back to silence again but apparently now that the floodgates opened they won't be closed again.
Which is a good thing, probably, because a silent Rachel Berry was just spooky. (Even Santana thought so.)
The day after their talk Rachel comes back to the hospital with a, dear god, bedazzled tote bag in her hands.
"Uhm," she starts, fiddling the straps between her fingers, as her eyes quickly scan the other occupants of the room. Frannie is engaged in a game of checkers with Brittany; and apparently Santana, who is sitting next to Sue, has taken on knitting, of all things possible. Judy is sitting next to Quinn, trying to braid her much-too-short-for-that hair. Sue herself looks up from her book as soon she hears the door close. Rachel starts again as they all look at her. "I, uh, I brought some books. Not for us to read, but I read that there is a high percentage that people in comas are still somewhat aware of their surroundings and that their subconscious recognises the voices and helps stimulate the brain and maybe it'll help her wake up—" She teeters of, twisting the handles of the back in her hands.
"Rachel," Santana interrupts softly, setting aside her knitting equipment. "What did you bring?"
They alternate in reading various classics to Quinn over the next few weeks. Rachel starts with 'Alice in Wonderland', and Sue isn't surprised to learn that it's Quinn's favourite book. They make their way through 'Jane Eyre' and 'Sense and Sensibility' as well as 'Mrs. Dalloway' and 'Wuthering Heights', all books that Quinn must've read multiple times if the worn out conditions are anything to go by. By the time they are about to start with the first Harry Potter novel there's a commotion near the room and Judy and Frannie stop dead in their tracks before almost sprinting out of it.
The girls and Sue hear muffled shouting and a male voice booming that "he wants to see his daughter". Sue steps outside just in time to see Russel Fabray being manhandled by a burly security guard and a male nurse, as well Judy Fabray throwing an icy "You had weeks to come here, did your schedule only just clean up? Was it an inconvenience to make some time for your daughter before? Not that I would've let you see her then, either," his way.
"You know," Frannie whispers conspiratorially to Sue when it's just them and Rachel in the room—Rachel is in the middle of reading the second Harry Potter novel to Quinn.
"Know what?" Sue whispers back.
"Never tell her I told you, but it's really cute. I think for the longest time my sister had a crush on Rachel." Sue's eyes widen at this piece of information. "I mean, I don't know for sure and despite our upbringing it was never a big deal to me, but it's really cute. And I never knew how little Q could have a crush that lasted for years because I never met Rachel before, so I didn't know what the big deal was, but I'm beginning to think I know why my little sister loves her," Frannie trails off, studying Rachel reading to her sister a little longer.
"You know, reading to the baby is also good," Frannie continues casually and Sue nearly chockes on the sip of water she was drinking. "Seriously, it helps with the whole mother-child-bonding enchilada."
"How did you—"
"Rachel told me."
Sue nods. Of course she did.
"I think, as long as you don't do the same mistakes our parents did?—And I know you won't because you basically watched us grow up.—You'll be just fine."
Rachel is in the middle of reading 'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire' out loud to Quinn, they're at the beginning of the second task for the Triwizard Tournament, when she suddenly stops reading for a moment and starts squealing instead.
Brittany is startled by the noise and wipes the chessboard clean, much to Frannie's dismay. (Or maybe relief, because she was losing to Brittany for the fourth time in a row.) Santana curses about letting the wrong stitch drop and Sue and Judy both nearly rip out the pages of the book and magazine they're reading respectively.
"What is it?" Santana asks, obviously displeased.
"She squeezed my hand!" Rachel exclaims excitedly.
After allowing themselves a second of shock they all nearly stumble over their feet to get to the bed.
Judy takes her daughter's other hand in her own. "Quinnie, sweetie, can you hear me?"
They all have tears in their eyes when they can see the subtle movement of Quinn's hand when she squeezes her mother's hand.
"Well, this is all perfect news," the doctor says, leafing through some sheets of paper that have various important information about Quinn's medical well-being, her life, on them. "If there are no further complications, and it doesn't look like there will be, she should fully wake up in about a day or two," she ends as she smiles at the group standing in front of her.
Brittany is grinning, Santana is trying to look as if she doesn't have tears in her eyes, Frannie and Judy look like a cross of them, although they don't try to hide their tears.
And Rachel … Rachel, Sue muses, looks at Quinn with so much awe that it is impossible for Sue not to smile.
Just like the doctor predicted Quinn wakes up the following evening. Her eyelids flutter for a bit, trying to readjust her eyes against the glaring hospital lighting before focussing on the people surrounding her bed.
"Quinnie," Judy starts before she has to stop again, choking back a sob.
Quinn doesn't speak, mostly because there are still oxygen tubes attached to her nose and her throat must hurt after weeks of disuse. Tears gather in her own eyes as her mother leans closer to place a kiss on her forehead.
They all find a way to connect with Quinn in some way. Brittany is actually the only one brave enough to climb onto the bed, on Quinn's good side, her right side, somehow dodging all the tubes and wires connected to Quinn and gives her a hug. Rachel keeps a firm grip on her healthy hand. Santana lays a comforting hand on her thigh, her sister seems like she can't decide between hugging her as well or just stroking her face like her mother does and Sue gently takes a hold of the visible fingers of her other hand, the rest hidden underneath a bright blue cast that has well-wishes from the whole Glee club on it.
"Welcome back, Quinn."
Quinn is moved into a normal hospital room soon with normal visiting hours which means they're all not allowed to pretty much camp out in her room anymore.
Which is somewhat okay with all of them.
The worst part is over, they're out of the woods and they can all get a good night's sleep for once.
The physical therapy, Sue decides, is worse than just sitting in a room with an unconscious Quinn, watching her chest going up and down while a ventilator helps her to breathe.
It is so much worse.
Sue has seen Quinn do backflips without batting an eyelash. Do five cartwheels in a row without her breathing eving picking up. Being thrown into the air and doing flips and whatnot without breaking a sweat. Running twenty minutes of suicides without any problems. She has seen her back bend under the struggles of her pregnancy, yet it didn't break her.
Now Sue has to watch Quinn struggle with the simple task of wiggling the toes on her right foot. (Because her left side is still too damaged to even think about any kind of movement at this point.) Now Sue has words like "partially paralysed" floating around in her head and it makes her heart ache.
The week Quinn starts physical therapy, Sue decides to go back to McKinley.
That phony swim teacher Roz Washington has probably coddled her Cheerios squad too much in her absence anyway.
Rumour in the teachers' lounge has it, that Will Schuester wanted to resume Glee club practise as soon as he heard that Quinn had woken up.
Rumour also has it, that Rachel Berry threatened to quit if that turned out to be his final decision on the matter.
The week old sheet of paper that "Glee club practise is cancelled until further notice" on the choir room door tells Sue everything she needs to know.
It's not like Sue purposely tries to eavesdrop.
Not really. It's a habit she tries to drop as soon as she steps out of McKinley every day.
It's just that Rachel's loud sobbing is very hard to overhear even from outside the room and when Sue pushed down the doorhandle to Quinn's room, an overflowing binder of information about physical therapy and the latest breakthrough moves and exercises in her hand, and it got even louder, she decided she didn't want to interrupt their little moment.
"I'm so sorry," Rachel mumbles over and over again between heaving breaths, clutching Quinn's healthy hand between both of hers. "It's all my fault. If I hadn't—I'm so sorry."
"Rach," Quinn sighs, indicating that this 'discussion' had been going on a while and that she's at the end of her rope, her pain meds probably making her sleepy again. "It wasn't your fault."
"But, it's been my wedding you drove to and my incessant nagging via text message. If I hadn't distracted you—"
"Rachel," Quinn tries again, this time more forcefully. "It was my fault I let myself get distracted and ran the stop sign."
There's a lull and Sue wonders if Quinn fell asleep again. After all, she is on some very potent painkillers.
"I'm so glad you're alive."
"Me too," Quinn hums. There's another pause. "Did you marry him?" She whispers, dejectedly.
Sue isn't quite sure because the angle from her place at the door isn't the best, but the smile Quinn is sporting as she drifts off to sleep has to be one of the biggest Sue has ever seen on her face.
Her information on physical therapy can wait.
Weeks are flying by and the end of the second third of the school year is nigh. Despite his best (and delirious) efforts Curly can't get the Glee club to agree to perform at Nationals.
"Quinn can't perform with us," Mercedes snaps so loud from the choir room that Sue can hear it perfectly as she walks by. She decides to stop and listen in on that conversation.
"She's being released from the hospital as we speak and has to spend a thus far unknown time in a wheelchair," Rachel continues.
"That's great!" Will exclaims. "We'll just choreograph something for her in a wheelchair, then! That way there'll be some symmetry with Artie."
The club is dangerously quiet before Rachel speaks up again, eerily composed. "She's just getting released from the hospital after a tremendous car accident that nearly cost her her life and you want her to perform in a few weeks?!"
"Yo, Mister Schue, those dance moves are already difficult for me, and I don't have a broken arm and smashed lung," Artie speaks up. "Just sayin'."
"No offense to Quinn's athleticism and magical superhero healing abilities, but she should probably sit this one out," Sam continues.
"But, guys, it's Nationals!" Finn pipes up and Sue can see Will rapidly nodding along.
"Have fun dancing by yourself on that big stage then, puffy nipples," Santana says, filing her nails.
"All or none," Brittany nods along. "I'm not performing without my third musketeer."
"Now, I know that we're all concerned about Quinn," Will starts again.
"Some of us more than others," Puck mutters under his breath and Sue is inclined to agree.
"But," Will continues, glaring at them all, "It's your last chance to perform together. On a big stage. You earned this, guys! It's what we've all been working towards to for the last few years. We still have enough members to compete, we can do it!"
Finn nods in agreement, but Sue can see that he's the only one.
Rachel is the one who stands up first, gathering her things, followed by Santana, Brittany and the rest of the club, minus Finn, and leaves the room without another word.
Looks like William will have to perform a duet with the Jolly Green Giant at Nationals.
Sue has never been prouder of these kids.
"Bored of the hospital yet?" Sue asks casually when she visits Quinn later that day.
Quinn's reading a book, the fifth Harry Potter novel, Sue notices, and smiles at her when Sue takes her place in the chair next to her bed.
"Immensely. But, all things considered, I'm also glad I'm in a hospital at all."
There's a pang in her chest and Sue's heart clenches painfully at the thought of losing another person she cares about.
"Yeah, you gave us quite a scare there, Q."
Quinn smiles ruefully at her before she glances down, her eyes sweeping over the cover of her book.
"I'm really sorry I can't be back on the Cheerios, Coach," she mumbles, her bottom lip trapped between her teeth.
"Nah, don't worry, I was planning on retiring your uniform anyway," Sue says, trying to hide a smile when Quinn looks at her, confused. "I would've done it after you graduated anyway, but now I'm really glad I already got that frame and that plaque weeks ago."
Quinn's eyes get teary and she looks like she wants to get out of bed and hug Sue, but she can't, for numerous reasons, so they both settle for Quinn grabbing her right hand and only letting go when Judy arrives with a wheelchair to take her home.
The first time Sue sees Quinn again after her release from the hospital is after the weekend, on Monday, in school. Well. In front of the school. Fighting with the handicap ramp.
Sue wordlessly grabs the handles and pushes her forward, only glancing down when Quinn tries to turn around but ultimately doesn't because her bruised ribs are still tender.
Once at the top Sue releases her, gently squeezes Quinn's shoulders and saunters away.
The girl was in a huge car accident and still has a cast on her right arm, give her a break.
Sue makes sure to check on Quinn whenever she can during the day. She is pleasently surprised that there's always someone accompanying her to her locker, because she still has one in the top row and refuses to go through the hassle of getting one in the bottom row for the short rest of the school year, helping her to get her books out. Stretching so far would do her ribs more harm, so she seems to acquiesce to the fact that she needs help.
Surprisingly enough Rachel Berry always seems to be around when Quinn is too tired to push herself from class to class.
Sue Sylvester knows everything about everybody in this school,
That's why her office is so big, it's full of other people's secrets.
It's not like Sue purposely tries to eavesdrop ... outside of McKinley. Inside, however, anything goes, especially when classes are over for the day.
"Rachel, we need to talk," she hears Finn Hudson mumble just as she's about to turn around a corner, so she uses her CIA training instead to listen to their conversation as she kneels on the ground, peeking around the lockers.
"What is it?"
"Well, you've been kinda avoiding the topic for the last few weeks, and me, but that was probably because you were in the hospital so much, but I was kinda hoping that, you know, since we didn't get married at the Justice of the Peace's office, which is totally fine with me, by the way, because it was kinda rushed, but, I was kinda hoping we could talk about when we'll get married instead. Because I was thinking, Nationals are in Chicago this year, so maybe we could do it afterwards, on the baseball field—"
Rachel determinedly pushes her locker shut and crosses her arms over her chest, glaring up at her fiancé.
"I'm not performing at Nationals, Finn. The whole club isn't going to perform at Nationals."
Sue rolls her eyes as Finn's eyebrows draw up in confusion.
"Wait, you were serious about that?"
"Yes, Finn," Rachel sighs, irritated. "I thought I made that very clear last week in Glee club."
"Oh," he simply says and there's a very long pause between them before he continues. "Okay, we don't have to get married in Chicago. That's cool. Do you have another place in mind? Because I was thinking—"
Rachel bites her bottom lip before she releases a deep sigh.
"Finn, I think we should postpone the wedding," she simply states.
"Like ... until after graduation? That's totally okay, seeing as it's only a few weeks away—"
"I think ... more like ... indefinitely."
Sue's eyes widen in surprise. She didn't see that coming.
"Wait, is this ... are you breaking up with me?" Finn asks with a petulant tone in his voice. And then, darker, "Have you been cheating on me again?"
"Finn, a lot has happened in the last few weeks. Don't you think it's time to slow down and reflect about all that has happened? I ... A friend of ours has almost died because of us and our hasty decisions," she urges him to understand. "Maybe it's time to shift down a gear and take stock of our life. I don't want another friend to get hurt."
"So you're breaking up with me, because of Quinn?" He asks, the disbelief stark in his voice. "I can't belief this. Why does it always come back to her, one way or another?"
"I'm not breaking up with you," Rachel insists. "I'm merely suggesting we take a break to reflect. I still love you," she ends with a whisper.
"I can't fucking belief this," he says again, his eyes wide and teary as he shakes his head. "A few weeks back you were so ready to marry me and now—"
"I wasn't, okay?!" She suddenly exclaims and Sue can see both of them freezing up.
"What," Finn asks, his voice monotone.
"Finn," Rachel starts, reaching for his right hand, but the boy takes a deliberate step backwards.
"What do you mean, you weren't ready."
Rachel hangs her head in shame. "All of our friends had already gotten their acceptance letters to their colleges or training of choice and I ..." She sighs. "Mine didn't come, okay."
"So you decided to say yes to my proposal because there were no other options?" Finn asks again with incredulity.
Sue almost feels bad for the boy.
Rachel's silence is telling all on its own. She bites her lip and softly nods her head.
"Oh god." Finn simply chants, his fists clenching and unclenching at his sides as he blindly blinks at the space around them.
"Finn," Rachel tries. "I still love you."
"No," he retorts vehemently, shaking his head. "No, you don't get to say that to me. Not now. Not after this." He turns on his heels and takes a step forward, before he tilts his head slightly back to address her again. "I want the ring back. Not right now, but, I want the ring back. But, for now I'm just going to go. So, yeah." He mutters before he walks away.
Sue slinks away from her hiding stop and decides to go back to her office.
She's glad this disaster is over. But she kinda wishes they both had gotten their shit together before the failed wedding attempt and a near-death experience.
Sue is standing in her office a few days later, giving Becky a hammer and a few nails as soon as the girl is on top of the ladder, when there's a knock on the doorframe.
"At ease, Jackson," Sue says to Becky before she turns to the door. It's Quinn. "What can I do for you, Q?"
"I was hoping ... can we speak in private, please?" She asks, twiddling her thumbs.
Sue nods, prompting Becky to climb down the ladder and wait outside, closing the door behind her.
"Your cast is off, I see," Sue comments casually as she takes one of the red WMHS folding chairs and sits down next to Quinn.
Quinn nods, taking a deep breath. "Now that my cast is off and my ribs and the rest of my wounds relatively healed," she starts, self-consciously fiddling with the strap of the eye patch she still has to wear before running her fingers over a long pink scar on her left forearm, surrounded by a lot of already healed over silver ones , "the gruesome part of physical therapy is going to start, it's the first since I've been released from the hospital, and I was wondering if you would like to come with me, some time. At the beginning. Because my mom doesn't always has the time and I'm not ready to ask Britt or Santana yet ..."
"You know that those two would gladly help you with PT, Quinn," Sue says, ducking her head to catch Quinn's eyes. "Brittany would carry you everywhere if you allowed it."
"I know," Quinn sighs, shaking her head. "It's ... Frannie will be there, too." She says it as if it's going to be a bargaining chip. "And I can't have that many eyes there, pitying me. I need someone who'll ... push me. Challenge me. Without pitying me too much."
Sue's mind instantly goes to Rachel Berry and she wonders if Quinn has even asked her to accompany her.
"I'll be there, Q, don't worry."
Quinn smiles gratefully before she turns her wheelchair around and opens the door. Becky comes back in just as Sue gets up and gets the giant frame with Quinn's uniform in it and a plaque underneath it out from behind her desk.
"All right, Becky, let's get this beauty on the wall," she says and hands the hammer and nails over again.
Physical therapy is even more gruesome than Sue imagined it to be. And it's not even happening to herself.
Sue is sitting on an uncomfortable plastic chair next to some kind of cot Quinn is lying on. Frannie is standing at the end of the cot, nervously biting her already bitten-down fingernails. The physical therapist stands on the other side of the bed, gently coaxing Quinn to perform the exercise he just described.
"Wiggle your toes." It seems so simple.
But Quinn is struggling, her brows furrowed and a light sheen of sweat forming on her forehead like she was just asked to perform a thirty minute Cheerios performance. Her eyes are focussed on her bare feet.
Nothing is happening.
It's breaking Sue's heart. But that's not why she was summoned here.
"Mediocre," Sue mutters and instantly the eyes of the three other people in her vicinity snap towards her.
"Excuse me," the physical therapist starts, but Sue doesn't even acknowledge his existence at this point.
"Disappointing, Q. You can't possibly tell me that a little toe wiggling is more difficult than our award winning National Cheerleading Competition routine I conducted back in 2008. I'm personally offended."
"Miss—" The therapist starts again, indignant, but Frannie shushes him, watching Quinn's feet intently.
"Now tell me, Q," Sue starts again, leaning right in Quinn's face as the girl's eyes widen in fear, "Where is the Head Cheerleader I had back then? Where is her drive and ambition? Because if she can't even do this measly task, that means I made a mistake when I picked out my protégé. And if that is the case then we can all pack up and wait around for the end of the world, because the apocalypse must be near. And you don't want to have the burden of starting the end of the world on your shoulders, do you? Sue Sylvester never makes mistakes, is that absolutely clear? So dip back into that attitude and get to it."
Sue only focuses on Quinn's face, but the squeal coming from Frannie is answer enough.
"Congratulations, kid," Sue whispers while Frannie is sweeping her sister into a big hug.
As clichéd as it sounds, it really does get better.
Sue accompanies Quinn to a few more sessions and in each one she progresses more. By the time Sue decides to go with her for the last time Quinn can already stretch her feet back and forth, toe-wiggling included, and float in the pool.
The Unholy Trinity is in full force from that point on, Santana and Brittany helping Quinn with her pool therapy, stretching her limbs with the instructions the therapist gives them from the edge of the pool, mindful of the not-yet healed long scars that can be found pretty much everywhere on Quinn's left side. At least her eyepatch is gone, nothing but another scar running from Quinn's eyebrow to her ear as a reminder of how close that specific call was.
And during all of it Rachel is always there. Watching. Offering silent support from the sidelines.
It's prom time, which means that the school year is almost over.
Thank god. The current school year seemed to drag on forever. (Maybe because she spent a big chunk of the semester in the hospital? Sue isn't sure.)
This year's theme is "Dinosaurs" and Sue isn't even a little bit surprised. (Brittany is Senior Class President. So, no, no surprises over the prom theme there.)
From her place at the refreshment table Sue has a pretty good overview and almost everyone is dancing and having a good time. Except for ... well. She is having a good time, but she's not so much dancing as being spun around in dizzying circles by an overenthusiastic Brittany before someone else cuts in and brings Quinn to a stop before she pukes all over the floor.
When Prom Queen and King are announced the only one who is actually surprised is Quinn when Quinn's name is spoken by Figgins's monotone voice and the whole Glee club almost dog piles on her to congratulate her.
"I voted for you, you know," Sue overhears when she makes an inspection round in the hallways, near the bathrooms. She stealthily slinks towards the corner, peeking around it.
"Really?" Quinn asks, stopping the wheelchair Rachel is pushing and turning around to face her.
"Yeah. I mean, it's not like winning a sparkly tiara compensates for everything you've been through, but I thought it couldn't hurt, either," Rachel admits, blushing.
Quinn gives her a crooked smile, a smile that Sue hasn't seen in ages (as she now realises that it's Quinn timid "I like Rachel Berry but how do I even begin to describe it" smile), and responds with a soft "It was a nice gesture, thanks."
Rachel leans forward, her hands now on the armrests of the wheelchair and Quinn is visibly taken aback when the girl in front of her kneels down. "Rachel, the floor, your dress—" She begins, but Rachel just speaks over her.
"Sometimes I wonder if you even understand what you mean to me," Rachel begins softly, her eyes slightly downcast (or, who knows, maybe subtly checking out Quinn's chest. It's not like Sue can really see her eyes from way over there). "When I first met you, you were everything I wanted to be. You were beautiful and popular and you had Finn."
"Well," Quinn chuckles dryly, "How the mighty have fallen." It's meant to be a joke, Sue can tell, but Rachel winces.
"No, you don't understand. I still see you that way. But over the years, everything that happened to you. To us. I, well. I never really took a step back to take stock of everything, of the new Quinn that emerged from the ashes. I think I like this version more. The still beautiful, but humble Quinn, the inspiring Quinn. The Quinn that went from hating my guts to being my kind-of friend."
Quinn snorts softly. "I never hated your guts."
"I should hope so, they are very nice intestines after all. Especially my kidneys."
A pale hand swats at Rachel's playfully and Rachel smiles before her expression turns determined, yet terrified.
"I love you," she states and Quinn's breath hitches.
FINALLY! Sue is about to fist pump but decides to save it for a later date, eager to see how this'll turn out. (She can't help it.)
"When I say, "I love you," it's not because I want you or because I can't have you. It has nothing to do with me. I love what you are, what you do, how you try. I've seen your kindness and your strength," Rachel pauses, squeezing both of Quinn's hands between her own. "I've seen the best and the worst of you. And I understand with perfect clarity exactly what you are. You're a hell of a person." She ends, smiling timidly at Quinn. "I just love you, and I wanted you to know."
Sue is holding her breath, waiting for Quinn to actually make a move. (Because, come on, apparently this has been years in the making. If only she had noticed sooner, maybe she could've pulled a few strings ...)
And move she does. She lightly gestures for Rachel to get up before pulling the brakes on her chair. Rachel looks crestfallen at first, but then her features turn into pure wonder when Quinn actually manages to stand up and keeps standing, one hand holding onto Rachel's shoulder for balance.
"Quinn—" Rachel starts, but the girl interrupts her by putting a finger on her lips.
"I love you, too," Quinn whispers before slighty dipping forward, her lips pressing against Rachel's.
The simple act of standing is taking a toll on Quinn though, Sue can tell, so when she slightly sags backwards Rachel is there, guiding her into the chair before sitting sideways on her lap, managing to not break their kiss even once.
"Stop making out with Berry, Quinn," Santana announces loudly as she makes her way towards them from the other side of the hallway, Brittany's hand in hers and the whole Glee club in tow. "I don't want to throw up."
Quinn sighs, her forehead knocking against Rachel's collarbone with a soft thump as both of their cheeks rapidly darken.
It's all in good fun though, because Santana just winks at them and even Finn manages a very very tight-lipped smile as he passes by them. When Santana rounds the corner and sees Sue, she entangles her hand from her girlfriend's and gives Sue a very dorky grin, accompanied by two thumbs up.
Damn pregnancy hormones, Sue thinks as she smiles and wipes a traitorous tear out of the corner of her right eye.
Now it actually is the end of the school year. Graduation is only a day away and Sue is surprised to see Quinn sitting in her office.
"Hey, coach," the girl smiles brightly and Sue can't find it in herself not to smile back.
"Shouldn't you be off, planning your graduation party?"
Quinn chuckles. "Yeah, probably, but I think Rachel has enough ideas for both of us."
Sue's eyes soften at the genuine and content smile that graces Quinn's features. "Congratulations, by the way."
Quinn's ears tinge pink and she casts her eyes downward for a second before bringing them back up. "Thank you."
"How are your legs doing?"
"Good, actually. I mean, I'm getting stronger every day. A whole day of school is still exhausting, so I'm still using the chair, but it's getting better. I'm not anywhere near to dancing circles around half of the Glee club again, and the doctors are still keeping a close eye on my lung, but your PT information really helped."
Sue smiles. "You know, when I first laid eyes on you Q, I thought you reminded me of a young Sue Sylvester. But, looking at this amazing woman sitting across from me right now, I realise I was wrong. You're nothing like me. You're better."
Quinn's tearing up and Sue doesn't know how much longer she has before she's right there with her. "I admire you, Quinn Fabray. I admire your perseverance," Sue stands up and goes around the desk, kneeling in front of Quinn's wheelchair. "You didn't let anything life threw at you get you down. You're gonna go so far, kiddo. And I'm gonna have the best time watching you do it. And I get to say "Hey, I remember her from way back when," back when she was getting Ryan Secreast tattoos, and lying about who the father of her unborn child was," Sue ends with a chuckle. "And helping me win another two consecutive National Championships in Cheerleading."
Quinn tears up and pulls Sue into a hug. "I'm gonna miss you," she sobs quietly into her shoulder.
"You too, Lucy Q," Sue whispers, tightening the hug. "You too."
It's not a goodbye, not really. It's graduation day, yes, and since the weather is gorgeous it's even outside. Sue probably won't see 95% of these kids ever again.
That's okay. She really doesn't mind.
As for the other 5% … she's going to keep in touch. They actually added them on Facebook on their own account. (Sue only registered to have yet another platform to ridicule William's hair. Now she probably needs to tone it down a bit.)
It's a celebration.
Because everyone is still with them, nobody died (and Sue vaguely wonders if there actually is a higher power that made this very close call) and Quinn is on stage, sitting between her girlfriend and her best friends, all of her friends sitting near her, laughing without a care in the world. She snaps a picture of it with her phone, because who knows when she'll see Quinn again once she's off to Yale.
Yale. Yale. It's such a big step up from Quinn's old fears, plans, of marrying young, getting a house with the stereotypical white picket fence and being a realtor and miserable housewife for the rest of her life here in Lima.
Sue doesn't know how Judy handles these feelings when she herself is already so proud of Quinn. (Then again, Judy doesn't handle them at all, because she can see her sitting a few rows behind herself, between Frannie and what appears to be the Berry dads, bawling into her handkerchief.)
Out of the corner of her eyes she notices Quinn and Rachel, their heads lowered and whispering. An envelope is exchanged and Sue's interest is piqued when Rachel opens it and let's out a squeal, enveloping her girlfriend in a fierce hug. But she pushes it to the back of her mind as Figgins stands up and the ceremony begins.
Later that day, in her apartment, when the only thing that is really distracting her is the gentle thumping she feels whenever she puts a hand on her rounded stomach softly, she goes online.
Rachel Barbra Berry wrote on her wall: I have the best girlfriend ever. :)
Kurt Hummel: Oh god, is this the beginning of your lesbian sexual awakening?
Noah Puckerman and 20 others like this.
Rachel Barbra Berry: What? Kurt!
Kurt Hummel: Sorry.
Rachel Barbra Berry: *rolls her eyes* Not everything is about sex, you know.
Brittany S. Pierce: Oh, but it should be!
Noah Puckerman: I hear that.
Tina Cohen-Chang: What did Quinn do, Rachel?
Rachel Barbra Berry: She gave me Metro North Passes from NYC to New Haven as a graduation gift! :) And has gotten some from New Haven to NYC for herself.
Kurt Hummel: I should probably get Quinn's roomie some earplugs. And a few for myself, seeing that I'm your roomie.
Rachel Barbra Berry: KURT!
Santana Lopez: MY SHIP IS SO CANON!
Quinn Fabray: … Santana, I think you have a problem.
Santana Lopez: I don't have a problem. After all these years everything is Faberry and nothing hurts.
You and 13 others like this.
She really likes this.