Title: SLAVERY TO A PATTERN
Pairing: Quinn/Rachel, Brittany/Santana
Rating: Up to R
Spoilers: All of season 1
Warnings: Domestic Violence, Hurt/Comfort, Angst
Author's Note: Written for Glee Angst Meme, specifically the Angst section of the Rachel/Quinn Prompt Meme for the following prompt: "Rachel/Quinn - one or both of Quinn's parents are physically abusing her. Rachel finds out and tries to protect Quinn."
Author's Disclaimer: Complete, total, unabashed Id fic. The author wishes to thank all the generous feedback on Part I, and is pleased to note how many fellow angst fans are showing their love. On that note, Part II is even more deliciously angsty than Part I. You've been warned!
McKinley High, Glee Practice Room
Entering the practice room the next day feels like a relief – like the first time Quinn has relaxed and let her guard down since… her father’s study. She grins in spite of herself as she squeezes around Mike Chang and Matt Rutherford. They are popping and locking all around the room, apparently in an impromptu dance-off, with Artie, Tina, Santana, Brittany and Mercedes backing them up with a group rendition of Bust a Move. Finn is pounding out the rhythm on the drum set. Only Puck stands aside, too cool for school apparently. Rachel is also missing, having not yet arrived to practice.
Quinn drops her bags and pulls up a seat next to Mercedes and Brittany and feels the tension of the last two days drain off her body. No Sue Sylvester screaming at her, no expectant Cheerios she has to front up for, no jealous, drunken mother or disappointed, punishing father. She feels… safe, and takes a long breath drinking in the feeling. She doesn’t need to be a star in this room and the release of that pressure is so freeing –she’s happy to fade into the background, to be out-performed and just relax. Like Santana, she would never admit to this bunch of freaks how much she has come to value the space, but she can’t think how lousy her weeks would be without it.
Her reverie is interrupted just then by two things happening simultaneously – Rachel enters the practice room, ever interested in fitting in, and exclaims in excitement before dropping her bag and ponying up a little pop and lock of her own as she bops over to Mike and Matt. Matt, shocked to see the argyle and knee sock clad Rachel dropping it like it’s hot, stops mid-pop and stares at her, grinning in disbelief. Mike Chang realizes too late that Matt has stopped mid-move and carries on with his own spin and pop-up, causing him to pop his elbow up and right into Matt’s nose, which explodes in blood.
Matt groans and doubles over, honking in pain and covering his nose with both hands. Mike is on him in an instant apologizing profusely even as he doubles over with laughter at the hilarity of the situation.
Quinn grins herself, a little bit, after it is determined that Matt has only a bloody nose and not a broken one.
Rachel fumbles in her bag for kleenex, muttering about not having replenished since allergy season.
Santana quips about dance fever, causing another round of laughter.
“Guys, I’b glad you tink dis is so fuddy,” Matt mumbles around the hands cupping his nose, “bud I could use a liddle hep, please.”
Santana walks over to him. “Take your hands down,” she orders, pushing his shoulder to get him to straighten up so she can take a look.
“I cadt” Matt mumbles, blood dripping from between his fingers and all over his shirt. “I’ll ged it eberywhere.”
“I SAID take your hands down,” Santana bosses, rolling her eyes again and poking a finger at Matt’s hands while attempting to peer around them.
“Careful Santana,” Rachel intones, stepping up behind her. “Universal precautions is the standard for blood related trauma in the paramedic profession, and it should hold true for Glee club.” She rummages around in her bag and comes up with a pair of rubber gloves.
“Here,” she thrusts them out to Santana. “Put these on.”
Artie looks at Rachel, arching his eyebrows.
“Rubber gloves? In your bag? Seriously?” He asks her, his voice a mix of amusement and impressed due.
Rachel thrusts her hand back in her bag and comes up with a zip-lock bag full of band-aids, q-tips, gloves, tiny bottles of alcohol and peroxide, aspirin and tylenol and the familiar pink compact of birth control pills.
Mercedes eyes the birth control pills in the bag and raises and eyebrow at Rachel.
“What?” Rachel says somewhat defensively. “I’m past puberty, and of an age in which most of my peers begin experimenting with sex. I like to be prepared.”
Santana turns and raises her own eyebrow even further, causing Rachel to shrink.
“I could totally be having intercourse,” she mumbles. “You don’t know.”
“If you’re still calling it intercourse,” Santana says knowingly, “you’re not having it.”
“Hedddoooo!” Matt calls, bringing them back to the situation at hand.
“Nevermind the sex she isn’t having,” Puck says from his spot in the corner where he’s been smugly watching the events. “Don’t you have anything useful in there Berry, like some gauze or something?”
Rachel shakes her head and launches into an explanation about sterilization and the futility of keeping open gauze rolls in an impromptu first aid kit in her purse.
“We don’t need gauze,” Finn says, cutting her off. “Don’t one of you girls have a tampon? Mercedes?” He addresses his fellow glee-mate, who happens to be standing closest to him.
The room freezes as all of Glee club, boys and girls alike, turn to stare at him incredulously.
“Oh. My. God. You did NOT just ask me that!” Mercedes says, giving him her best attitude.
“What?” Finn asks, looking around the room. “It’s a thing. For nosebleeds. Tampons, you’re supposed to stick them up your nose… You know, like in that movie, She’s the Man?”
“You watched She’s the Man?” Tina asks, giggling.
“For real – just to catch the blood, it works. That’s like, what a tampon is FOR. One of you HAS to have –“
“Dude. Stop saying tampon,” Puck says, frowning like Finn should know better.
“WHAT?” Finn says, getting flustered. “It’s from the movie. I only watched it because Quinn…” he leans over to look at her. “Quinn – tell them – I was being a good boyfriend, I didn’t LIKE it or anything…”
Quinn throws up her hands in mock confusion and shakes her head, pretending to have no idea what Finn is talking about.
Finn amps up the volume, getting more flustered. “Quinn, come on, tell them.” He looks around the room. “It’s not like I go around watching chick movies myself. Because I don’t. Alright, sometimes they’re funny, but I totally wouldn’t watch them unless Quinn made me.”
“Dude,” Puck says again, more insistently. “ Stop. Seriously. Before I have to revoke your man card forever.”
Rachel clears her through and interjects. “As much as we could debate Finn’s movie viewing habits as related to his gender identity, Matt is hurt and Finn’s idea DOES hold merit. A tampon would likely staunch the blood flow effectively. I don’t have any at the moment, but girls, any of you? Let’s not be squeamish when a fellow teammate is bleeding out from an awesomeness injury.”
“Yeah, I’b awesobe,” Matt says defiantly around his hands.
Rachel begins to walk around the room asking the girls one by one for a tampon. She asks Mercedes, Tina and Brittany before making it around the room to Quinn.
“Quinn?” she asks, standing in front of her looking purposeful.
Quinn looks up at her, holding back the temptation to roll her eyes.
“Well? Do you have a tampon?”
Quinn shakes her head no. Rachel moves on to Santana, who throws up her hands in the air and goes rummaging in her own bag. As she does so, Mr. Schuster arrives in the room and immediately rushes over to Matt expressing concern. The Glee club is instantly alive and jostling each other to retell the events of the last few minutes, all of them laughing and miming and teasing.
Quinn doesn’t join in, though. Instead, she stays in the background, thinking.
She doesn’t have a tampon.
She hasn’t needed one.
Not for weeks.
It’s a thought that’s been floating around in her mind, one she hasn’t let herself look too carefully at, too frightened of the implications.
She hasn’t needed one.
Not for seven weeks, to be exact. Not since before the Chastity Ball, not since before…
She looks across the room at Puck.
She is three weeks late.
Three. Weeks. Late.
She tells herself it’s stress. It’s a reaction to her family and school and cheerleading and pressure. She tells herself it’s her poor eating habits, a side effect of the Cheerio weight loss potion or just working out too much. She read somewhere that female athletes sometimes stop having their periods.
Except, those are Olympic athletes and body builders, and it has something to do with muscle mass versus body fat. Quinn is not particularly bulky.
But she is promiscuous.
That’s what the church calls it. And promiscuous girls stop getting their periods, too. But not because of their muscle mass.
Quinn looks again at Puck, who is arguing with Mr. Schue about the weeks’ assignment being too girly.
She unconsciously rests her hand on her stomach.
She thinks about being pregnant, about her body changing.
She thinks about the Cheerios, about having to quit cheerleading, about the whole school finding out and getting a bad reputation.
She thinks about her father.
The color drains out of her face.
She closes her eyes against images coming fast in her mind, his angry stare, his loud voice shouting, the belt, the wood grain of the desk close against her face when she bends over it, the pain.
She balls her hands into fists, tries to stop the panic she feels rising inside her.
Rachel’s voice breaks through her spinning thoughts.
Rachel has settled into the chair next to her, and is staring at her with concern.
“Quinn? You look pale. Are you okay?”
Quinn shakes her head, shakes away the fear that has descended on her like a pox.
She looks at Rachel.
“Blood,” she says softly and clears her throat to speak more confidently. “It’s the sight of blood – it always make me feel faint,” she says.
Rachel nods sagely and begins telling her a story about falling and cutting her eyebrow after a series of pirouettes when she was 5 and almost fainting. Her voice is presumptive as ever, but Quinn is glad of the chattering – anything to keep her mind away from the terrible thought taking shape in her mind. She nods at the brunette sitting next to her talking a mile a minute and, for once, is glad to listen.
At the end of practice, when Puck finally ambles out of school and out to his truck, Quinn is waiting for him there.
“I need you to take me somewhere,” she says flatly before he even opens his mouth.
He grins a wide, sly grin. “I love taking you somewhere,” he says, giving her the once over, his eyes lingering too long on her figure. “The boy scout still isn’t giving it up to you?”
“I’m SERIOUS,” she tells him, pushing him back a bit as he steps into her space.
“What?” he says, suddenly his normal, boyish self. “You’re out here waiting for me looking all hot, what am I supposed to think?”
“PUCK,” she says, stamping her foot. “LISTEN to me. I need you to drive me someplace, and it’s really important.”
“Now?” Puck says, looking disappointed. “How important, because I’ve got –“
“REALLY important,” she says, grabbing him by the arm and attempting to push him into the driver’s seat of his own truck. “Now. It can’t wait.”
“Fine,” he retorts. “Where is it that we’re going,” he asks her as she climbs into the passenger seat. “And, for the record, don’t you have a car of your own and a big dopey boyfriend on call to run errands for you?”
“Medina,” she says flatly. “To a pharmacy. I don’t care which one. It’s 20 miles away and I can’t drive myself because my dad checks my odometer. And I didn’t ask Finn because I’m going to get diet pills to get out of these ridiculous fat pants before Sue Sylvester kills me and I know he wouldn’t approve.”
“And you think I would?”
“Yes, because unlike Finn and most of the other sensitively minded guys I know, you don’t care how a woman keeps her figure as long as she maintains it in a way that protects her status as eye candy for you.”
He looks at her a long moment and grins.
“You’re totally right. Buckle up.”
Walgreen’s, Medina Ohio
Quinn stares at the shelf full of pregnancy tests in front of her. She had no idea there were so many kinds. And not only pregnancy tests – right next to those are shelves and shelves of condoms and spermacides and lubricants. She thinks the stockboys must have a sick sense of humor.
She glances sideways down the aisle she found herself in and picks up one of the boxes. It’s pink, and boasts instant, easy to read results. The box next to it boasts accuracy. The one next to that says no-mess.
She has no idea what she is supposed to be buying. She scans through the shelf and decides to buy the most expensive one – figuring, ironically like her father, that if it’s the priciest it must be the best.
She tucks the box discreetly under her arm and skulks up to the counter, pulling out a few twenties and thanking the universe she was smart enough to hit the atm when she was still in Lima so this purchase doesn’t end up on a credit card statement on her father’s desk.
The checkout girl, not much older than she is, looks down at the box as Quinn slides it across the counter and then back up at Quinn, giving her a long look.
Quinn stares back at the girl, scowling, not in the mood for shit from a retail clerk. The girl rolls her eyes and picks up the box, scanning it and shoving it in a bag. Quinn takes the receipt and carefully tucks it into her wallet behind her driver’s license, reminding herself to tear it into bits later. She wraps the plastic bag tightly around the test and shoves it to the bottom of her purse.
With a renewed sense of dread, she trudges back out to Puck, who is blasting Kiss from his truck in the parking lot.
“Fabulous,” she thinks to herself. “Could we BE any more of a cliché right now?”
McKinley High, Chemistry Lab
Quinn sits in Chemistry and tries to concentrate. It’s midway through the week and she’s still wearing pants and shifting uncomfortably in her seat from last Friday’s… meeting with her father. She knows she has to get her grade up to an “A” if she wants to avoid a repeat when report cards come out again in six weeks. And, where the belt is concerned, she always wants to avoid it. Unlike everything else in her life, about that there is no putting on airs, no teenage bragging or backtalk or rebellion. There is only her plain and outright dread - dread that generally propels her to do whatever is required to keep herself from being on the receiving end.
Concentrating at the moment is proving harder than usual, though, given the pressure she feels coming down on her from all sides. Between keeping her grades up to her father’s perfectionist standards, another looming Cheerios practice and more of Coach Sylvester’s abuse and the pregnancy test still stuffed in the bottom of her backpack Quinn couldn’t seem to snap out of the heavy and troubling thoughts spinning in her mind.
She catches herself drifting and focuses back down on her notebook, scanning the notes she’s been taking. She’s dismayed to see that they’re fragmented and incoherent. She groans inwardly, thinking about having to talk to Mrs. Lowe after class for tutoring if she’s actually going to pull up her grade. She wanders how she’ll fit THAT in her already packed schedule, but she knows even if she has to get up in the mornings and come in an hour early, it’s preferable to what will happen if she brings home another B.
Just then the bell rings, and she stands and begins to gather her things. She glances at the clock and decides the meeting with Mrs. Lowe will have to wait because she doesn’t want to be late for Cheerios practice and add that to the list of things Coach will have to pick on her about today.
She files out of the room and heads to her locker to swap out her books for the night’s homework.
When she reaches around to her bag to pull out a book she nearly bumps into Karofosky and Amizio, two of Puck’s football goons, who have crowded up behind her.
Before she can even snap at them for invading her space Karofsky slams her locker closed and glares at her.
“We’re here to have a little chat Fabray,” he leers at her. “We hear that you’ve been causing problems at Cheerios practice, keeping the team late with your stupid mistakes.”
Quinn stares at him, blankly, with no idea why her cheerleading practice is of interest to either of one of them. She tells them as much and attempts to push past them to stalk off.
Amizio snaps his arm out in front of her and props it against the lockers like a gate, blocking her from going anywhere.
“What’s it to me?” Karofsky mocks, his voice menacing. “I’ll tell you what. You’re keeping my girlfriend late at practice because you can’t get your shit together. And her time? Is MY time. And I just won’t have that.”
“If your girlfriend is staying late it’s probably to avoid your obnoxious mouth,” Quinn retorts, backing up and moving to go behind them.
She slips behind Karofsky’s shoulder and moves out into the middle of the hallway.
“My older sister works at Walgreen’s in Medina,” his voice says loudly, freezing her in her tracks.
She turns back to them and steps in close, hoping to quiet them, to keep them from bringing it out there in the hallway for everyone to hear.
“She told me you were in there this week buying a pregnancy test. You can whore around this school all you want for all I care, but DON’T let it affect your business,” Karofsky says, his voice gone low and threatening.
“You don’t know what you’re talking about,” Quinn says, her voice tight and tense, “and if I were you I would shut my stupid mouth before it got me in a whole lot of trouble. Very bad trouble…” she stammers, all three of them aware of the emptiness behind her threat.
“Whatever, freak. I don’t care if you have a whole litter of babies, I’m telling you now to get your game on. Or else next time you’ll get a lot worse.”
Before she can ask worse than what, Amizio steps back from her and nails her right in the face with a large grape slushie he had apparently been concealing behind his back.
They laugh and walk off, leaving her standing.
Quinn is frozen, literally, unable to move or jolt her mind into working after the shock of what just happened. Not only the shock of icy sugar dripping into her collar and freezing into the roots of her hair, but that it happened to her.
Slushie facials don’t happen to her.
Except, now they do.
And all she can do is stand in the hallway, shocked into paralysis as students file past her in the hallway, laughing and jeering.
Her mind is like a vinyl record skipping on the important points of what just happened – pregnancy test – he knows – her father will know – slushie facial – pregnancy test – he knows – her father will know – slushie facial – preg…
She is startled out of her coma by an arm that comes out of nowhere and folds over her shoulders, yanking her – not gently, into the nearby girls bathroom.
Quinn looks up to see Rachel Berry guiding her purposefully over to the sinks.
“OUT!” Rachel commands to a group of girls standing in front of the mirror primping.
They look up at her with startled indignancy until they see Quinn, dripping with purple slush and looking shellshocked behind her. They hotfoot it out of the bathroom.
Quinn is impressed. But then, she knows by now that Rachel can be a steamroller when she wants to, it just usually only happens based on who gets the Streisand solo or whether Mike and Brittany’s choreography too prominently highlights her self proclaimed bad-side.
Once the bathroom is cleared, Rachel turns and faces her, looking at her intently. Her expression is tender, understanding.
Quinn supposes it would be, given how many times Rachel herself has been on the receiving end of a slushie facial.
“Come here,” Rachel says, pulling Quinn closer to her and gently starting to pull off Quinn’s Cheerio’s jacket, around the collar of which ice and slush have begun to gather uncomfortably and break chills over her entire body.
“You’re shivering. Let’s get this off.”
Quinn allows Rachel to pull the jacket away, looking at her with no idea what to say. She is embarrassed – embarrassed that she got slushied and even more embarrassed, now that she is standing there dripping, that she herself has encouraged the football boys to do it to the brunette.
If she were less stressed, if she were feeling more herself, she wouldn’t allow herself to take this comfort from Rachel. But then, if she were less stressed, if the circumstances were different, she wouldn’t have been slushied at all. She doesn’t have the willpower to turn down anyone’s caring attention at the moment, even if it’s coming from Rachel Berry.
Rachel takes a wad of brown paper towels from the dispenser and begins to dab at Quinn’s neck, her face and scalp, at the roots of her hair and over her shoulders, wiping slushie away.
“In a minute we’ll wash this out,” she says, easing Quinn’s hair out of her ponytail, “but let’s get rid of the ice chunks first.”
Quinn nods, and then involuntarily shivers again as she feels a clump of icy slush slip down the back of her shirt and down her lower back, settling in the waistband of her track pants.
Rachel sees this and moves to Quinn’s back, her hands heading for Quinn’s waistband to mop up the ice there.
“DON’T,” Quinn exclaims, realizing what the brunette is doing. She backs up quickly, bumping into the sink and bursting out with a loud “ow” at both the jolt to her already bruised skin AND the ice, which begins to drip further down the back of her pants.
Rachel throws up her hands in surprise, immediately freezing.
“Quinn, I- I’m sorry – I wasn’t going to take them off, I would never…” she stammers, unsure why Quinn flipped out when she touched her waistband.
“I know,” Quinn says quickly, trying to cover. “I just don’t want you all over me, okay. I’m weird about that.”
“Okay,” Rachel says, her voice subdued and chastised. “I was just trying to help. Why don’t you take those pants off. I think I have a pair you can change into, at least to get home. I keep a spare outfit in my locker for just this occasion…”
She trails off as Quinn looks at her with an unreadable expression.
“I… I believe in preparedness,” Rachel says, her voice small. “Stay here,” and with that, she turns and bolts out of the bathroom, leaving Quinn standing and staring after her at the door, wondering if the day could get any worse. Or any weirder.
Moments later Rachel is back, carrying a duffel bag from which she pulls a change of clothes (ridiculous nerd clothes, Quinn hates herself for thinking) and a bottle each of shampoo and conditioner.
“You really are prepared, aren’t you?” Quinn asks her.
“You guys do this to me a lot,” she says simply. Quinn admires the fact that there is no shame in her voice when she says it.
Rachel holds out a pale green oxford with the slightest hint of puffed sleeves and a pair of jeans. Quinn is grateful that she isn’t being offered one of Rachel’s usual plaid skirts.
“I know these aren’t what you would normally wear but it’s bound to be better than walking around with sticky…” Rachel starts, but is cut off by Quinn.
“It’s fine. Thank you.”
Quinn takes the clothes and stares at Rachel, waiting.
Rachel doesn’t get the hint.
“Rachel. Turn around, okay?”
Rachel blushes in embarrassment. “Of course!” she says, flustered, turning around quickly.
“Actually,” Quinn says, chewing her bottom lip and feeling put on the spot having to change in the same room as anyone when her legs are still sporting the signature of her father’s anger. “Would you go over and hold the door. I don’t want anyone walking in on me.”
Rachel nods, and walks over to the door, gripping the handle firmly to keep it from opening if anyone should try. She is surprised at Quinn’s modesty given that the other girl regularly deals with locker room changes at Cheerios, but thinks maybe she’s just too traumatized by the slushie to be thinking straight. Rachel used to be that traumatized by them, too. The first hundred times.
Quinn walks over to the sink. She would prefer to change in the privacy of the bathroom stall, but she really wants to clean off some of the sticky slush that has dripped down her back and legs. She takes off her Cheerios top and wets a blob of paper towels, reaching around to wipe the slush drying in the small of her back. When she’s satisfied, she slips into Rachel’s shirt and buttons up the front, smiling at the vague scent of freshly cleaned laundry.
She slips out of her track pants, turning in spite of herself to look for the first time at the back of her legs. She usually avoids it until the bruises are mostly gone. Seeing them fresh and angry on her skin makes the whole thing more real in a way she isn’t comfortable with. The mirrors are long and cover the whole wall, though, and she can’t bring herself to look away. The blood blisters and welts have faded, leaving deep black and purple lines peeking out from the edges of her underwear and wrapping down the backs of her legs almost to her knees. She trails a fingertip over the bruises, wincing at the memory of receiving them, before grabbing another wad of wet paper towels and wiping at the slushie still dripping down her thighs and legs. It's an awkward stretch and she knocks clumsily into the sink, sending the bottle of shampoo tumbling to the floor with a clatter.
“Shit!” she exclaims, bending over to pick it up.
“What? Did you fall? Are you-“ Rachel calls, turning around involuntarily before Quinn can tell her it’s okay, not to turn around.
Quinn straightens immediately at Rachel’s words and flips around to face her, pulling the jeans up in front of her and holding them over her abdomen with her arm.
“I’m fine, it’s fine, I just knocked…” Quinn starts, but trails off as she registers Rachel’s facial expression.
Rachel stands frozen in her spot against the door, her mouth slightly agape, her eyes registering shock.
“Oh God. Quinn. Oh God.”
Her eyes are looking not at Quinn’s face, but instead at the mirror behind her, where Quinn’s legs and bruises are reflecting back at Rachel in technicolor.
“Don’t look at me! I told you not to turn around!” Quinn shouts at her, backing away from the mirror, backing across the room and up against the wall of the bathroom, holding the pants up even higher in front of her in a futile attempt to shield herself from Rachel’s wide eyes. Somehow, Rachel’s horrified expression makes them that much worse, that much more real, more painful. Quinn’s eyes dart all over the bathroom, anywhere but at Rachel, at Rachel’s staring, stunned face.
“Oh Quinn,” Rachel says, taking a step towards her.
“Don’t,” Quinn says, her voice a warning.
“Quinn, your legs… the bruises,” Rachel says gently, taking another step toward her.
“Leave me alone. Get out and leave me alone,” Quinn snaps, trying to back further into the wall.
“It’s okay, Quinn,” Rachel whispers. “I’m not going to… it’s okay.”
Quinn is staring at the floor, unmoving, clutching the jeans in a vice grip.
“Go away, go away, go away…” she whispers under her breath.
Rachel stops, watching the other girl, stunned, and sad, and suddenly hit with a flood of understanding.
She looks up at Quinn with new eyes.
“Is this... Is this why?” Rachel asks, her voice a broken mix of gentle care and some of the old intimidated hesitation.
“Why what,” Quinn retorts defensively, hating the harshness that comes out of her.
“Why all the… hostility. The insults, the slushies, the bullying. Is this… where it comes from?” Rachel whispers, amazement in her voice.
Quinn looks up at her, tears running down her cheeks but her expression blazing.
“Don’t after school special me, alright?! I’m fine. I’m fine. I don’t need your psychoanalysis or your pity,” she says, hysteria tingeing her voice.
“You’re right,” Rachel says, chewing her lip, her voice quiet and calm.
She takes another step toward Quinn.
“But what you do need is help.”
“Help? HELP?” Quinn screams. “How do you think you can help. You don’t know him,” she cries, her voice breaking. “He’s so powerful and so strong, so much stronger than you…”
She dissolves into tears, her shoulders slumping, the pants falling out of her clutch to the floor as the fight leaves her.
“And stronger than you?” Rachel says gently, easing Quinn away from the wall, holding her at arm’s length and looking, really looking at the purple and black belt marks arching down the back of Quinn’s thighs.
“Your father?” Rachel asks softly.
Quinn’s frame shakes with sobs and she stands limply in front of Rachel, crying.
Rachel wraps her arms around Quinn. “I’m so sorry this is happening to you,” Rachel whispers. “I’m so sorry you’ve been dealing with it all on your own.”
Quinn rests her head on Rachel’s shoulder and cries harder, squeezing the smaller girl tight, tighter.
Rachel is still, letting Quinn just hold on to her.
Eventually, Quinn’s breathing steadies, her grip relaxes.
She raises her head up and looks at Rachel, her face more open and vulnerable than the other girl has ever seen.
Rachel reaches up and tucks a strand of hair behind her ear.
“It’s okay, Quinn,” she says simply.
Quinn sniffs and ducks her head, totally unsure of how to feel in the moment – grateful for Rachel’s comfort, sheepish for needing it, afraid of what happens next.
Rachel looks down at the jeans on the floor.
“Do you want… do you want to put those on?” she asks, bending down to pick them up. She shakes them off and holds them out to Quinn.
“Yes,” Quinn says, her voice hesitant.
“Do you want me to turn around?” Rachel asks hesitantly.
“I think it’s kind of a moot point now,” Quinn replies, sniffing and wiping at her eyes.
She shakes out the jeans herself and bends over, slipping into them.
“Can… I ask you something?” Rachel asks tentatively.
Quinn nods, both girls having reached a silent plateau of acceptance – Rachel that Quinn HAD the bruises, and Quinn that Rachel now knows of them.
“Is that what that was about – me turning around, the track pants, when you wear them?”
Quinn nods, ashamed.
Rachel sighs and feels even more heartbroken over the situation, thinking about all the times Quinn has worn track pants to school over the last year.
She glances down to the shampoo bottle on the floor.
“Shall we wash that stuff out of your hair now?”
Quinn laughs, having forgotten all about the slushie congealing in her hair in light of Rachel finding out her secret.
“Yeah,” she says, sheepishly. “I really don’t like it,” she laughs.
“No,” Rachel chuckles back, “I wouldn’t imagine so.”
Rachel pulls over an empty garbage can and flips it over, inviting Quinn to sit.
Quinn takes her seat obediently. Rachel puts a gentle hand on the back of her neck and tilts her back toward the sink, wadding up her discarded track pants and folding them on the edge to support her neck. She runs light fingers through Quinn’s hair, fanning it out in the basin of the sink. She cups her hand and turns on the tap, shielding Quinn’s scalp in case the water comes out too cold or hot at first. When the temperature is just right, she begins to wet down her hair, eventually rubbing in the shampoo.
Quinn is quiet, her eyes closed. The warm water combined with Rachel’s gentle fingers massaging her head is… bliss. For the second time this week, she feels… safe, cared for.
She thinks about Rachel. She’s a bit of an enigma – she’s pushy, and a know it all, and a nerd, and super obnoxious. She’s treated like crap by pretty much everybody in school, but she takes it, and she never backs down from her values, her ideas. She can’t always protect her body, but she always protects herself – her… Rachelness.
Quinn feels a flash of admiration in that moment, wishing she could be more like that instead of working so hard all the time to please a life full of people who are never satisfied. It doesn’t work – it’s not like it keeps her safe, or earns her any kind of praise.
This revelation is followed quickly by a flash of shame as she thinks about all the times she has been the cause of Rachel’s torment, all the times Rachel has had to come into this bathroom and clean herself up alone, without anyone's help or company.
Above her, Rachel is humming slightly, and Quinn recognizes a few bars of “Not While I’m Around” from Sweeney Todd. She suppresses a grin, thinking that she only knows that because of her time in Glee with Rachel.
She feels… safe, and once again marvels that the feeling comes over her for the second time that week in relation to Glee club.
“You’re smiling,” Rachel observes, looking pleased. “I hope you’re feeling better?”
She wrings out Quinn’s hair with her hands and helps her sit up.
“Much better,” Quinn says, and means it, as Rachel begins to blot her hair with a fresh wad of paper towels.
“And… worse,” Quinn says tentatively, her smile giving way to a furrowed brow.
‘Worse? Did I hurt you? Are you okay?” Rachel starts, fussing like a mother hen.
It’s Quinn’s turn to fold her hands over Rachel’s, stilling her.
“It’s fine, Rachel,” she says softly. “It’s just…I’ve been so horrible to you.”
Rachel looks up at her sharply as Quinn continues.
“So I can’t help but wonder… why are you being so nice to me?”
“I don’t like to see anyone being hurt,” Rachel says simply, without hesitation.
Quinn closes her eyes, flashing to a cabinet, a belt, white knuckles gripping a desk and terrible meaty sounds.
It feels good to hear someone say that, even Rachel Berry.
Especially Rachel Berry.
Rachel tosses aside the paper towels she had been blotting through Quinn’s hair and finger combs it a few times before stepping back.
“I think you’re set,” she says lightly.
Quinn turns and looks at herself in the mirror, hair dripping, Rachel’s clothes on her back. She doesn’t look anything like herself, but… she feels more like herself than she has in ages.
She turns around and is about to thank Rachel, to tell her she’ll bring her the clothes back tomorrow but stops at the worried expression on Rachel’s face.
The brunette is wringing her hands, chewing her bottom lip and looking nervous.
Quinn frowns, wondering if she’s done something wrong, or missed some cue she was supposed to pick up on. She’s not accustomed to impromptu school bathroom hallmark moments, and therefore doesn’t know if there are rules of etiquette she isn’t following.
Rachel clears her throat.
“I…I’m sorry,” Rachel starts.
“Don’t apologize,” Quinn says, interrupting her. “You did me a favor.”
“No,” Rachel continues, drawing a big breath. “I’m sorry for what I’m about to ask you, I don’t mean to pry but I feel like in light of recent information I can’t not ask. I’m… worried about you, now.”
Quinn doesn’t know whether to shake Rachel to just get her to spit out whatever she’s trying to bring up or hug her again for caring.
Instead, she waits.
Rachel fidgets a moment.
“Quinn, are… are the rumors true?” Rachel asks finally, quietly.
There is no judgment in her voice.
Quinn looks up at her, raising an eyebrow.
"The rumors… about you buying a pregnancy test from a pharmacy in Medina?"
Quinn doesn’t move. She curses Karofsky as her mind explodes in panic. If Rachel has heard, everyone has heard, and that means her father will hear, if he hasn’t already. She had wanted more time to figure out what to do – she thought she at least had a few weeks before she started showing, if she even was pregnant at all, and by then she would know what to do, how to conceal it from her parents, from her father. Quinn thinks about his anger, about the study, about what he’s going to do to her. She feels a wall of anxiety smash back down on her shoulders.
“Oh God,” she whispers.
Her face crumples and she hangs her head, crying.
Are you…? Rachel trails off.
“ I don’t know,” Quinn chokes. “I haven’t been able to bring myself to take the test. I’ve been carrying it around since yesterday.”
“Do you want to maybe… take it now? I’ll stay with you,” Rachel tells her gently, placing her hand on her shoulder supportively. “We can do it together.”
“What if I am?” Quinn whispers, looking up at Rachel, tears streaming down her face, fear evident all over her features.
But you might not be,” Rachel says,
“But what if I am? My parents… I can’t… I don’t… they’ll be so angry. They’ll…” She stops, unable to finish, to say the words out loud. “I can’t go through that Rachel, I don’t want to…”
She covers her face in her hands and weeps.
“It’s settled then,” Rachel says firmly, drawing a breath and gathering Quinn in a warm hug. “You’re coming home with me.”
On to Part III