Author's Note: Written for the FaberryCon Fic Fundraiser Project for the lovely gleekterry. The prompt was: Just want a little view of their life together as a couple in New York. Happy ending?
I took it in a little bit of a different direction, so I hope you like it.
Eternal thanks and cyber-hugs to Skywarrior108 for being the most awesome beta.
Disclaimer: I do not own Glee or the characters, I just like to play with them…strictly non-profit.
In the Wilderness of Life
The first time Beth sees them together, she doesn't know they're together. Her seven-year-old mind is too full of The Lion King and matchbox cars and playing video games to care about gross things like love. All she knows is that she has to miss her play date with Danny, whose parents always let them play Super Mario Brothers, to meet the lady that gave her to Mom. Beth isn't dumb. She totally knows that she's adopted and what that means—Mom had explained everything. She'd even shown Beth a few pictures of her birth mother, Quinn, and Beth gets letters sometimes and birthday and Christmas presents too. Beth likes the extra presents, but the letters are a little weird—like, a whole bunch of mushy stuff about wanting her to be happy and always thinking about her mixed up with things Mom tells Quinn about her. Mom says Quinn had her own growing up to do before she could be around for Beth. She kind of gets it but not really. She doesn't actually think about Quinn that much, but she does look at the pictures sometimes, and she thinks Quinn is really pretty. Not that Mom isn't pretty—she's beautiful—but Beth doesn't look anything like her. Rachel does though.
Beth doesn't know Rachel all that well, but she knows Mom is Rachel's birth mother like Quinn is hers. She doesn't really like to think about it too hard because it makes her head hurt. Rachel has been to visit their apartment a few times, and it always puts Mom in the weirdest mood. Beth doesn't like it, and she doesn't know if she likes Rachel, but Rachel and Mom are kind of a lot alike with all their talk about Broadway and musicals and all that boring stuff that Beth just isn't interested in. She doesn't know if she's allowed to not like Rachel because it'd be kind of like not liking Mom.
Getting dragged to the park to meet her birth mother for the first time—well, the first time that she can really remember—kind of sucks. Mom never really says why Quinn didn't visit before, but ever since Rachel started coming around more, Mom's been asking her if she wants to meet Quinn. She kind of does. So now she is, even though she's not sure if she's really ready.
They're walking forever and Beth's feet are starting to drag—she wishes that she were playing Mario right now—and she really wants an ice cream. She asks Mom if they can stop to get one, and her mom glances down at her watch with a frown and promises, "I'll buy you one before we go home if you still want it."
Beth crosses her arms and glares at her mother, receiving an indulgent chuckle for her effort. "You know that doesn't work on me, honey. I've taught teenagers and wrangled baby divas in training." She reaches down a hand to affectionately brush Beth's bangs to the side. "You'll just have to wait."
Beth huffs out a breath and puffs out her lower lip into a pout. She doesn't get why she can't just have an ice cream, but Mom doesn't look like she's going to cave, and when she places a stern hand on Beth's shoulder and tells her to, "Come on, honey," Beth sighs dramatically and scuffs the toes of her tennis shoes along the sidewalk as she falls back into step with her mom. She gets distracted from her stomping pretty quickly by the other people in the park—a group of older kids struggling with a kite, a lady playing catch with her dog, a funny looking guy on the corner trying to juggle—so she doesn't really notice them right away.
She sees Rachel first, pacing back and forth beside a bench and kind of gesturing with her hands while she talks. Rachel is always talking when she comes to visit. Beth doesn't think Rachel sees them—she's too busy looking down at the lady on the bench. Beth squints her eyes to see better, and her belly feels kind of woozy when she realizes that she's looking at Quinn. She's even prettier in person.
Quinn is sitting perfectly still with her hands folded primly in her lap and her hair all shiny in the sun like a halo. Beth thinks she looks kind of like a statue until her head turns slightly in their direction. Quinn doesn't move again, but Rachel stops bouncing around and turns to look at them before she sits down on the bench next to Quinn, leaning closer and saying something else that Beth doesn't hear because they're still too far away. Quinn nods her head jerkily and reaches over to grab Rachel's hand and doesn't let go of it until Beth and her mom are standing right in front of them.
Mom says hello to them both, and Rachel says it back a little too loudly and with that scary, wide smile that doesn't look real. Beth feels Mom's warm hand cup her shoulder and rub. "Beth, this is Quinn," she says, like Beth didn't figure that out for herself. She wants to roll her eyes, but she doesn't. She just quietly stares at Quinn who quietly stares back at her. It's really weird. But Quinn is really pretty, and her eyes are kind of sparkly, and Beth starts to feel really flustered looking at her, so she ducks her head shyly and looks down at the ground.
"Aren't you going to say hello?" her mom urges.
She shrugs awkwardly, mumbling, "h'lo," while she counts the cracks in the sidewalk.
"Hello, Beth," Quinn whispers shakily—her voice is kind of pretty too—and Beth slowly pulls her eyes back up. Quinn's lips are curved in a trembling smile and her eyes are dancing all over Beth's features. Beth's cheeks start to feel really, really hot, and she shifts uncomfortably, biting her lip and looking back to the ground.
She thinks maybe Quinn is kind of breathing a little unevenly, but she isn't looking so she can't be sure.
"We were wondering if you'd like to go to the museum today?" Rachel asks hesitantly. "Your mom says that you're really interested in space, and they have a spectacular planetarium show."
Beth shrugs. She does like that stuff. Thinking stars are cool is one of the ways she and Mom are alike.
"Or we could go for a walk instead," Rachel amends. "Maybe get some ice cream. Whatever you're comfortable with."
Beth glances over at Rachel at the mention of ice cream. She's smiling all soft and hopeful, and Beth doesn't really understand why. She furrows her brow in confusion, looking back at Quinn. "How come she's here?" she asks suspiciously.
"Beth," Mom chastises mildly.
Rachel shifts on the bench, looking a little hurt by the question, but Quinn meets Beth's eyes unflinchingly. "Rachel is…my friend," Quinn answers softly. "And I needed a friend today because meeting you is a really big deal for me." She twists her hands together in her lap and bites into her lip for a moment before she leans forward and quietly confesses, "I'm a little scared you won't like me."
Beth jams the toe of her tennis shoe into the pavement. She doesn't know what to say. She doesn't really know Quinn at all.
Quinn sighs and shakes her head. "I know this is a little weird…for both of us. So if you have any questions you want to ask, or…or anything that you want to say to me…I just…I want you to know that you can. Today can be whatever you want it to be. I'd just like the chance to…to get to know you. If you'll let me."
Beth feels her mom's hand on her shoulder again. It's weird, because Mom is Mom, but Quinn…Quinn could have been her mom if things were different. She shrugs again. "The museum's cool. Can we see the dinosaurs too?"
Quinn's smile gets a little brighter and so does the sparkle in her eyes.
It's still weird, and Beth stays close to Mom's side as they walk out of the park and towards the museum. Rachel asks her about school and her friends, and Beth answers even though Rachel has asked her all of this stuff before. Beth really isn't dumb—she kind of figures out that Rachel is trying to get her to talk because of Quinn. It's like how Mom always used to start talking to other kids who were Beth's age because she knew Beth was too shy to talk to them first.
The thing is—Beth really does like the museum. Yeah, some of it's really boring and lame, but there are really cool things there too, like the dinosaurs and the birds and all the stuff in the discovery room. It's easy to kind of ignore Quinn and Rachel and just press her nose to the glass cases, but then her mom doesn't know why this one reptile has a sail on its back, and Quinn does and tells her all about what it does, and Beth realizes that Quinn is kind of smart. So she asks more questions, and Quinn answers her, and it's cool.
It's even cooler when Rachel buys Beth an ice cream from the snack bar they pass, even though Mom grumbles about it. Rachel has been kind of hanging back since Beth started talking to Quinn, hovering but not really. She sits close to Quinn at the table they find while Beth enjoys her chocolate and vanilla swirl. Beth still doesn't know if she likes Rachel, but she thinks she might kind of like Quinn—and she thinks she might be brave enough to ask, "Do you wish you'd kept me?"
Quinn gets really still and quiet, dragging in an unsteady breath, and Rachel places a hand on her forearm, rubbing it gently. Beth notices, but it doesn't mean anything to her.
"Every day," Quinn admits after a while. She clears her throat, chasing away the bit of hoarseness. "And then I remind myself that I couldn't have taken care of you the way you deserved…the way your mom can and does…and I know that I made the right decision."
Beth nods, because that makes sense to her, and it's kind of what Mom told her anyway. She finishes her ice cream and watches Quinn bow her head and Rachel wordlessly pull out a tissue to give to her. Beth frowns a little because she didn't even think Quinn needed one until she sees her reach out to take it and discreetly wipe her eyes. Rachel leans over and gives Quinn a side hug, and Beth thinks maybe Rachel isn't so bad.
She sits between Mom and Quinn in the planetarium—she really does like the show. Okay, so maybe she's imagining that she's an astronaut or a space fighter pilot more than she's actually paying attention to the history of the universe, but she likes what she likes. Every so often, she glances over at Quinn and sees her holding Rachel's hand in her lap. She thinks they must be really good friends, and she guesses that's okay. She likes Rachel better when she's with Quinn—it doesn't feel so much like she's trying to invade Beth's space, and Mom's been smiling kind of sweetly all day when she looks at all of them together. Today has been better than she thought it would be, and she thinks she'd be okay with doing it again.
The video games at Danny's house will still be there tomorrow.
Beth can't say exactly when she figures out that they're together. Quinn and Rachel are just Quinn and Rachel for so long that she doesn't know what to feel when they're suddenly not. She's eleven, almost twelve, and she's not a little girl anymore—and she's still not dumb. She's spent the last four years getting to know her birth mother and adopted, kind-of-but-not sister, both together and apart, and she thinks they're both pretty awesome. Okay, so it took her a while to warm up to Rachel—she's kind of an acquired taste—but Beth totally has, and now it's just weird because Rachel is sad, and Quinn is sad, and it really just sucks.
And what sucks even more is that Quinn is leaving.
"It's just for a few months, Beth. Half a year at the most," Quinn assures her tiredly.
"But why? What's so great about Los Angeles?"
Quinn sighs, dropping her forehead against her fingers as she slumps dejectedly in her chair.
Mom shakes her head and frowns down at Beth. "She has a job there, Beth. You know that."
"But you had a job here," Beth argues petulantly, crossing her arms. She wasn't actually allowed to watch the television show that Quinn was on, but she guesses it's pretty good since Quinn won an Emmy for it and everything.
"It will only be for a little while," Quinn repeats, lifting her head and looking at Beth with glistening eyes. "Just long enough to film this movie, and then I'll be back. I promise. And I promise I'll Skype with you while I'm gone, okay?"
"I don't believe you," Beth cries. "You're going to stay there and get famous and forget all about me. About all of us. Is that why you broke up with Rachel?"
"Beth, that's enough," Mom snaps.
Quinn shudders, sniffling as she drops her head into her hands again. "Rachel broke up with me," she whispers brokenly. "And that has nothing to do with this. It's…it just wasn't working anymore," she rasps. "It doesn't change anything between you and me," she vows, lifting her face to reveal her tears. "Or you and…and Rachel. We both still love you, and we're both still going to be a part of your life. You know that."
Beth stubbornly looks away, choking back her own tears. She can't help it. She's angry. And hurt. Everything was perfect and now it isn't, and it's all Quinn's fault. "Why'd you have to go and ruin everything?" she spits before she jerks up from the sofa, running into her bedroom and slamming the door behind her. She throws herself across her bed and cries.
She's gotten used to the way the things have been with Mom and Quinn and Rachel and even Noah. They're her family, and she doesn't want that to go away, but now it's all different. It was bad enough when Quinn started getting recognized and had to take pictures with strangers when she was supposed to be spending time with Beth—sometimes it made Rachel mad too because Quinn would get weird and kind of ignore both of them until they were alone again—but at least Quinn was here.
Her mom knocks lightly at her door, but she doesn't wait to be invited in—she never does. Beth ignores her, keeping her face turned away even when she feels the mattress dip and Mom's hand rubbing circles against her back. "That wasn't a very nice thing you said to Quinn," she gently admonishes.
"I don't care," Beth mumbles.
"I think you do." Beth doesn't say anything, and her mom sighs. "I know you're upset that she's going to Los Angeles, but honey, Quinn isn't going to forget about you just because she'll be living in a different city."
"I don't want her to go," Beth whispers.
Beth turns on the bed and shifts closer to her mom, wiping the tears from her cheeks. Mom pulls her across her lap and hugs her, and Beth lets herself be comforted. "Is she mad at me?" she eventually asks in a small voice.
"No, honey. But you need to apologize to her because what you said really hurt her feelings."
Beth fidgets in her mom's arms, reluctantly nodding. Mom urges her up, brushing her hair back from her face and offering an encouraging smile before she leads Beth back to the living room. She keeps her head bowed until she's standing right in front of Quinn, and when she looks up, she sees Quinn chewing on her lower lip with red eyes and wet cheeks. "I'm sorry," Beth whispers. "I don't think you ruin everything. I just don't want you to leave."
Quinn chokes back a sob and reaches for Beth, wrapping her up in a crushing hug. "I'm never going to leave you, Beth," she vows fiercely. "I'll call you every chance I get, and we'll be seeing each other again before you know it."
Beth still isn't sure if she really believes that, but she hugs Quinn back and nods into her shoulder while she secretly wishes for Quinn to change her mind and stay.
Quinn does keep her promise to call and Skype, and Beth hears all about the movie she's filming and all the other actors. It's okay, she guesses, but she'd rather be hanging out with Quinn at the park or the museum. She does still get to hang out with Rachel—they go for walks and to movies and sometimes to see a Broadway show (because Beth is a little more interested in that stuff now that she's older)—but it's different now. Rachel kind of looks at her funny sometimes, and Beth wonders what she's thinking—until Rachel smiles this odd smile and says, "You look so much like your mother."
Beth knows that she doesn't mean Mom, and it's still strange to think of Quinn as her mother, but she gets it. She does look like Quinn, and that's cool. But Rachel looks so sad when she says it, like the way Mom used to look when Rachel went home after one of their visits—like she's wishing they didn't have to say goodbye.
"You miss her, don't you?" Beth asks. Rachel glances away, kind of nodding but not. "So do I," she says, swinging her legs while she plays with the ice cream in her cup—Rachel still buys it for her whenever she asks. "She says she'll be home soon."
"Does she?" Rachel asks mildly.
"Yep. She says they're almost done with the movie, and she can't wait to come back to New York."
Rachel sighs and smiles at Beth, but even Beth can tell it's not one of her real smiles. "I'm sure she can't wait to see you."
Beth frowns, staring down into her melted ice cream. "How come you guys broke up?" she finally asks, feeling unusually brave. Quinn said it wasn't working anymore, and Mom said it was grownup stuff, but she's never asked Rachel, and suddenly she feels like she should.
Rachel bites her lip and looks at the ground, shaking her head, and Beth figures she's going to give her one of those stupid vague answers that doesn't really answer anything, but Rachel surprises her when she says, "Because I didn't want to hold her back."
Beth furrows her brows and stares at Rachel. "I don't get it."
Rachel chuckles a little, but it isn't a happy sound. "Well, you know that Quinn is getting kind of famous," and Beth nods her head, because—duh. "And…well…she just has the chance to really make a name for herself in the industry…like with this film she's working on…and staying here in New York…w-with me…it wasn't really helping her."
"I still don't get it."
"Someday you will," Rachel assures her, patting her leg.
Beth glares at her. "I hate it when adults say that."
Rachel laughs again, and this time it sounds like a real laugh. "Now you really look like Quinn."
Beth is there the day that Quinn and Rachel become Quinn and Rachel again. She's thirteen, and it's been kind of a strange year. Quinn came back to New York for a couple of months after she filmed her movie, but then she had to leave again because she got another role. She's been flying back and forth every couple of months, and Beth never knows for sure where she's going to be, but her face is popping up everywhere, and everybody's talking about Quinn Fabray. Mom's a little wary of what that will mean for them, but Beth is feeling pretty solid about the whole thing. She knows who she is and where she comes from and who she calls Mom—and she knows the difference between Quinn Fabray and just Quinn.
Things are kind of hectic with Rachel too. She finally scored her first really big role on Broadway—an original character in an original show called The Prose of a Con. Beth has seen it three times, and Rachel is kind of amazing. She's done a lot of shows before this one, most of which Beth was too young to see, but she's always been kind of swaying in the background. Beth didn't really know just how unhappy Rachel was about that until she sees how happy Rachel is now, and she starts to wonder if that was part of the reason that things didn't work with Quinn. She thinks it has to be kind of rough to watch your girlfriend win an Emmy when your own career isn't doing so hot—especially when you can't even go to the awards show with her because no one knows you're dating. Yeah, Beth maybe kind of gets it now, but she knows that they're kind of talking again—rebuilding their friendship despite the distance between them—and she thinks it's funny how they each try to casually ask her about the other like she's still a little girl and doesn't get what they're doing.
So yeah, she's kind of the one to tell Quinn that she gets to be Rachel's date for the Tony Awards—Rachel is nominated for best actress this year—and the response she gets from the other end of the phone is a hesitant, "Isn't she taking that guy? John?"
"Nah. They're just friends, and I think he's kind of gay. So she asked me, and Mom said I could go with her."
"Even though you're not into Broadway?" Quinn asks after a long pause.
Beth blushes even though no one can see her. "It's kind of grown on me," she admits. "And anyway, Jeremy Jordan is going to be there, and Rachel said she'll introduce me."
"Did she now?" Quinn drawls. "And what does your mom think of that?"
"That he's really hot, and she's glad that she's going too."
There's another long pause before Quinn says, "So it's kind of a family affair."
"Yeah, kind of," Beth says, feeling a little bad because Quinn isn't included.
"That's good. I'm glad Rachel is going to have you both there. Will you…will you give her a big, good-luck hug for me?" Quinn asks.
"You know it," Beth easily agrees.
And she does—right before Rachel walks the carpet. Mom won't let Beth go with her, even though Rachel asks her if she wants to, and Beth thinks that kind of sucks, but then she thinks about how embarrassing it would be if she trips over the hem of her dress and face-plants in front of a dozen cameras, and she figures it's probably better to just go inside and wait. She watches the people fill up the theater, and maybe she's even a little starstruck until Rachel sits down beside her, fidgeting in her seat from the excess of energy.
Rachel has to go sing the big song from her show before her category is announced, and Beth doesn't even pretend that she isn't proud when Rachel gets a standing ovation. She glances over at her mom and sees her wiping away her tears. Rachel doesn't have time to come back to her seat before they're reading out the nominees for best actress in a musical, and Rachel appears on the monitor from backstage, waving at the crowd. It's not really a surprise to Beth when her name gets announced—because again, she's totally awesome—and Beth is cheering and bouncing in her seat and hugging Mom while Rachel glides back on stage and tearfully accepts her award.
Beth doesn't really catch half of her speech—Rachel does tend to ramble and talk too fast when she's excited, and she definitely is—but she catches the important things, like Mom's name and her own. Rachel doesn't thank Quinn, but she does say, "Someone very special to me once told me that I had an amazing life ahead of me, and maybe it hasn't always felt that way, but tonight, standing here and accepting this award in a room full of so many people that I admire and respect, I can say that the amazing part has never felt truer."
Everyone claps, and Rachel starts to leave the stage, turning the wrong way first before she gets turned around and pointed in the right direction. Beth is kind of standing in the aisle a little to watch her because she isn't quite tall enough yet to see clearly over the head of the guy in front of her, so she sees pretty clearly when Rachel kind of stops right before she walks completely offstage. She doesn't move for a few seconds, but the camera is still focused on her, showing her image on the big monitors at the corners of the stage. Beth kind of freezes when the cameraman moves enough to show Quinn in profile standing just behind the curtain. She thinks more than a few people notice, because there are some gasps and whispers through the audience. It's probably pretty lucky that the ceremony is on one of those long breaks for commercials, even though the cameraman does eventually cut away from what's happening—not that Beth really knows what's happening, because Rachel does finally walk off the stage, and no one can see anything anymore.
She looks over at her mom with raised eyebrows, and Mom nods her head, sliding out of the row and grabbing Beth's hand as she power walks them both out of the auditorium in search of Rachel. Mom is kind of awesome, because she talks her way backstage like she owns the place, and they find Rachel pretty quickly. There's a guy standing there with a microphone, looking really uncomfortable, and a cameraman with his camera tipped down to the floor while he kind of averts his eyes, because Rachel is wrapped up in Quinn's arms, face pressed against her throat and hugging her so tightly with her Tony still clutched in one hand, and Quinn is holding onto Rachel like she never wants to let her go again.
Beth might only be thirteen, but she thinks it has to be pretty obvious to everyone that it isn't a friendly embrace. She looks at her mom, flashing a pretty huge smile, and Mom grins back, wrapping an arm around Beth's shoulders and giving her a squeeze. Eventually they'll get in on the hugging action, but right now, it's kind of perfect just the way it is.
When Beth sees them together now, there is no denying that they're together. If the matching wedding rings don't give them away, then the constant touching, wordless communication, and identical expressions of bliss certainly does—not to mention the two-year old terror that's clinging to Rachel's leg when he isn't clinging to Quinn's. Luke is certainly a handful, but Beth absolutely adores him. It also doesn't hurt that she's earning top dollar babysitting the little devil—after all, she's starting college next month, and she can certainly use the extra cash.
Some people still whisper a little about Quinn Fabray and how she turned her back on the buzz of a hot film career that was just starting to take off, fired her agent and her publicist, and moved back to New York to be with Tony Award-winning, Broadway Diva Rachel Berry. For a while, you couldn't find a magazine or online entertainment news site that wasn't talking about her coming out—their coming out—and speculating on what it would mean for their careers, but eventually it turned into old news that no one really cared about. Quinn got a role on another New York-based television show that's earned her another Emmy and two Golden Globes. And Rachel hasn't done so badly either. She'd spent another year starring in the hottest show on Broadway before she recorded an album that won her a Grammy, and she's pretty much guaranteed to take her Tony-winning role to the big screen next year. But really, it's their family that they're most proud of, and Beth is kind of proud that she gets to be a part of that.
She's been enjoying the summer in New York before she packs up and heads to Stanford. Mom is getting really emotional about it, and Beth kind of is too. She's nervous and excited all at the same time, and she figures that's pretty normal. Mom had tried to convince her to go to Columbia or NYU, and Quinn had dropped some unsubtle hints about Yale. Noah had suggested Syracuse for the parties, but everyone had shot down that suggestion pretty fast. Surprisingly, or maybe not so much, Rachel had been the most supportive of Beth going to whatever school offered the best science program to fit her needs, even if it meant going to school across the country. So that's exactly what Beth is doing, even though she knows that she's going to miss her friends and family so much, but she's still got a little more than a month before she has to say goodbye.
She's currently spending two weeks with Quinn and Rachel at their summerhouse in Fire Island. It's kind of a dual-purpose babysitting gig with beach-side perks. Beth is around to keep an eye on Luke if they need her, and they're around to keep an eye on her while Mom is on vacation with Paul. Beth really likes Paul, and she's glad Mom finally found someone to love. They've been married for three years now, and Beth doesn't think she's ever seen Mom happier. She doesn't call him Dad or anything, but she doesn't call Noah that either.
Beth sees Noah pretty often too, even though he's still living in Ohio. He comes to visit her when he can, and sometimes he even brings his wife and kids. Beth never imagined that her extended family would grow so large back when it was just her and Mom and the kids from the Baby Diva daycare, but she loves each and every one of them—even "Aunt" Santana and her wildly inappropriate life lessons. If nothing else, at least Beth knows how to hide a razor blade in her hair.
She's alone at the house right now, soaking up the sun as she lounges on the back deck. Quinn and Rachel took Luke for a little stroll along the beach to try and tire him out a bit before his nap-time—the kid has endless supplies of energy. Beth thinks he must get it from Rachel, although Rachel would probably argue otherwise. It's kind of funny, actually, watching Rachel in constant motion while Quinn constantly tries to get her to sit still and relax for a few minutes. It's been more obvious this last week than Beth ever remembers it being, probably because she's been around them more than she typically is.
She stretches in her chaise, feeling the burn of lazy muscles, and stands up, deciding to duck inside the house to grab another glass of lemonade. She pauses to watch the digital picture frame in the hallway flash a history of Quinn and Rachel's relationship—from the time they were just starting to date, to their wedding, to them huddled in a hospital bed holding Luke for the first time. There's even an old high school glee club picture in there that Beth is technically a part of too, since Quinn was pregnant with her at the time. They were both so young—younger than Beth is now. It hits her pretty hard sometimes when she thinks about herself and Luke and what it would be like to be his full-time mom, because Beth was the same age when he was born that Quinn was when Beth was born, and as much as she loves the kid, she can't imagine being anyone's mother right now. But she's really okay with being a big sister. She figures that everything worked out exactly the way it was supposed to.
She makes her way back outside, and as soon as her foot hits the deck, she's tackled by a thirty-pound linebacker-in-training—or her legs are. Luckily, she sees him coming and braces for the impact.
"Bef!" is squealed up at her as Luke wraps his arms around her legs.
She chuckles, dropping a hand on top of his soft, brown hair. "Hey, buddy. What are you up to?"
"Up," he demands, letting go of her legs and reaching up toward her. She laughs again, because the kid is such a cuddle monster. She thinks he must get that from Rachel too, even though Quinn is the one who gave birth to him.
She reaches over to set her glass of lemonade down on the table and wraps her arms around Luke, lifting him up with a soft grunt. "Ugh, you're getting too big for this," she complains, even though she kind of loves the way his warm, little body curves against her.
"Big boy," he says happily.
"Yes, you are," she tells him with a grin, catching sight of Rachel and Quinn climbing the last few steps onto the deck, looking far more tired out than their son. "Pretty soon, you're gonna be getting your own place, having wild parties, and never calling your moms," she teases.
"Nuh uh," he says with an exaggerated shake of his head.
"Uh huh," she argues.
Luke frowns, bouncing in her arms and kicking his feet a little as he insists, "No!"
By then, Rachel is at her side, pressing a motherly hand to Luke's back and rolling her eyes at Beth. "Are you riling him up even more?" she questions with a smile. "He's already high on sugar since someone," she stresses, glancing over her shoulder at Quinn, "bought him a candy bar from that little shop down the beach."
"Candy?" Luke asks hopefully, doing that thing with his eyes that makes him look like a sad, little puppy. Beth knows he gets that from Rachel, although she's seen Quinn pull off a similar expression pretty handily when she needs to.
"Honestly," Quinn says, pointing at their son in her defense, "who could possibly resist that pout?"
"Well, you obviously can't," Rachel fires back with a grin.
Quinn shrugs, slipping her arm around Rachel's waist and pulling her close as she smiles lovingly at her wife. "I never could resist yours either," she admits.
Rachel blushes and melts into Quinn's side, tipping her face back to welcome the chaste kiss that Quinn brushes across her lips. They seem as in love today as they did ten years ago, and Beth hopes that she's lucky enough to have that someday. They both just kind of glow—Rachel especially.
"Mama," Luke whines, lurching towards Rachel. Beth keeps her grip firm to keep him from falling forward.
Quinn chuckles, sliding her arm away from Rachel. "Looks like someone is finally ready for his nap," she comments, noting his suddenly drooping eyes.
"Come here, little man," Rachel urges, reaching for her son, but Quinn steps between them, curling her own arms around Luke's body.
"I'll take him."
Rachel frowns. "Really, Quinn. I'm perfectly capable of carrying our son inside."
"Just humor me," Quinn orders with a smirk, tucking Luke under her chin and turning to disappear into the house.
Rachel quietly huffs and rolls her eyes before she flashes a grin at Beth. "Did you enjoy the peace and quiet for the little time it lasted?"
Beth giggles and follows Rachel inside as she says, "Are you kidding? It's too quiet when you guys aren't here. I think I've gotten too used to Mom spontaneously breaking into song," she jokes, making Rachel laugh. "But at least I'll be preconditioned to those loud, crazy parties at Stanford."
"Just stay away from the alcohol at those parties, or your mom and Quinn will both be flying out there to personally ground you until you're thirty," Rachel warns her. "And I'm sure Noah will join them."
Beth doesn't doubt it, and she smiles and shakes her head. "Don't worry. I've heard the lecture repeatedly, and I'm sure I'll be getting another one before I get on the plane. I plan to be a very responsible, serious student."
Rachel smiles softly. "We're all very proud of you, you know?"
"I know," Beth murmurs, ducking her head.
Rachel nods and walks into the kitchen. "I've been craving some veggie pasta. Do you mind if we have that for dinner?"
"Sounds good," Beth agrees, following behind her. "Can I help with anything?"
"You can start the salad."
Beth opens the refrigerator and pulls out the lettuce, a tomato, a cucumber, the celery, and some carrots. She sets up on the kitchen counter while Rachel starts setting out the pots. She hears Rachel sigh when she opens one of the upper cabinets and watches her walk over to the kitchen table and drag a chair over.
"Do you need me to get something for you?" Beth asks with a grin—she's got a good five inches on Rachel these days.
Rachel shakes her head and steps up onto the chair. "No, that's okay. I just need to get the strainer down. Quinn likes to throw it all the way to the back of the shelf," she complains as she reaches over her head to noisily shuffle the bowls around.
Quinn chooses that moment to walk into the kitchen, starting to jovially ask, "Did I hear my na…" before she cuts herself off and all but jogs to the chair, growling, "Rachel!"
Rachel jerks a bit, even as Quinn's arms wrap securely around her waist, but she triumphantly comes away with the stainless steel strainer in her hands.
"Put that down right now and get off the chair," Quinn demands.
"Really, Quinn," Rachel huffs. "It's not even heavy."
"I don't care. You shouldn't be up there."
"I'm fine," Rachel insists petulantly, but she hands the strainer down to Quinn, who grabs it quickly and sets it on the counter before grabbing hold of Rachel's waist once again and carefully lifting her down.
Once she's safely on the ground, Quinn grips her shoulders and glares down at her. "I'm seriously going to tie you to a chair for the next seven months."
Beth still isn't dumb—she'd graduated at the top of her class—so the offhanded comment immediately clicks, and all the weird little moments that she's been noticing suddenly makes sense. She drops the knife and the tomato that she's holding and stares at them wide-eyed. "Holy crap! Are you pregnant?"
Quinn flushes pink, looking a little guilty, and Rachel breathes out a silent laugh. "You are so much like Quinn sometimes, it's uncanny," she says, leaning into Quinn.
"We haven't told anyone else yet," Quinn explains, confirming Beth's suspicions.
"It's still very early," Rachel warns, but the sparkle in her eyes betrays her excitement. Beth knows that they'd tried to get Rachel pregnant once before, but it hadn't worked out at the time, so Quinn had been the one to carry Luke. It's no wonder that Quinn is trying to be extra protective of her—of them.
"That's so awesome!" Beth exclaims, rushing around the counter to throw her arms around Rachel, who joyfully hugs her back. "Congratulations," she whispers into Rachel's ear, suddenly feeling a little choked up.
"Thank you," Rachel tells her tearfully, hugging her tightly before letting go, and Beth immediately turns to throw her arms around Quinn.
"I'm so happy for you."
Quinn squeezes her back, burying her nose into Beth's shoulder. "You'll always be my first baby," Quinn whispers shakily.
Beth chokes back a sob, quickly composing herself, because she's eighteen, damn it, and she doesn't do this sappy stuff. She pulls away from Quinn, discreetly wiping a stray tear, and she notices Quinn do the same. Maybe Rachel is right about them being so similar.
"I promise I won't say anything until you guys say it's okay."
Rachel's a little less concerned with hiding her own tears, and she unabashedly brushes them from her cheeks with her fingers. "It'll probably be another month or so, if everything goes well."
"It will," Quinn vows, slipping her arms around Rachel again. Beth smiles at them, remembering how overprotective Rachel was when Quinn was pregnant and knowing that Quinn will be twice as bad—she already kind of is.
"Oh, wow. I can't wait to see," she starts to say, already imagining Rachel in a few months time—until she remembers that she's going to be in California. "Wait! No," she whines. "When are you due?"
"February," Rachel answers with a serene smile, resting a palm over her still flat belly.
"But I won't be here," Beth reminds them, throwing out her hands in frustration. "I'm gonna miss everything."
Quinn laughs, hugging Rachel closer. "You'll be home to visit on breaks."
"But probably not when you have her…or him," Beth amends, kind of hoping for a girl. A thought occurs to her, and she grins wickedly. "Or them."
Rachel squeaks and lightly slaps her arm. "Bite your tongue, Beth Corcoran."
Beth holds up her hands in surrender, grinning widely. "Hey, it could happen."
Rachel groans, sagging against Quinn. "If it does, I'm holding you personally responsible."
"I don't think it works that way, Sweetie," Quinn reminds her.
"Then I'll hold you responsible," she warns.
"I think I can live with that," Quinn says with an indulgent smile before she kisses Rachel's cheek.
Beth really is so happy for them, and she feels kind of special being the first one to know. It will be hard not to tell Mom, but she won't break her promise. She actually feels a bit of her own protective instincts flair to life, because she realizes that she'd do almost anything to make sure that Quinn and Rachel don't ever lose that happy glow that they have right now. Well, she knows she can't really do much to protect them, but, "Veggie pasta is totally in my cooking repertoire, so I'll take care of dinner tonight. You guys go relax for a little while."
"Beth, that isn't necessary," Rachel insists.
"No arguing," Beth demands with a glare, pointing toward the living room. "Go sit down."
Quinn tries to stifle her laughter as Rachel crosses her arms and pouts. "Great, now I have two of you trying to coddle me."
"Get used to it," Beth and Quinn chorus in stereo, and Quinn gives into her laughter before stepping forward to hug Beth again.
"Thank you," she says simply, and Beth knows it doesn't really have anything to do with offering to make dinner. She remembers that moment when she was seven, staring into Quinn's nervous eyes as she'd asked Beth for the chance to know her, and Beth has never regretted giving her that chance. She watches Quinn urge Rachel into the living room with a smile on her lips and laughter in her heart, grateful that she has so many people in her life who love her and excited that she'll soon have another one.
Beth's life is pretty awesome right now, and she can't wait to see where it takes her next.