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: LONG CHAPTER IS LONG. As in, epic length. As in, Livejournal made me break it into smaller parts and disrupt my four chapter plan.
Content Warning: This chapter is dark. See trigger warning below for details, but know that most of the serious angst goes down in this section. This will go to a dark place, but the next chapter, which will likely be just as epic in length, is all about the fuzzy bunnies and reconstruction. Rachel’s dads have important roles in this section, and very little about them is known from show canon. Ergo, I wanked their names and personalities, and also cast them in my brain with Thomas Gibson playing Martin and Andre Charles (yes, RuPaul when he’s not in drag – and I didn’t even mean it ironically. I just like his softness) playing George. OC’s are always weird, but I liked them. Also note that thus far this fic has hinted at the femslash going on between Rachel and Quinn, but this IS a R/Q fic, and we’re getting there. Most of the R/Q serious relationshipping will flesh out in the final chapter, but be patient. It’s coming.
Part I | Part II
Berry Household, Spare Bedroom
Quinn rolls over in bed and opens her eyes, feeling momentarily disoriented by the unfamiliar nightstand, on which is a tray with a glass of water and piece of fruit.
She hears voices talking downstairs but can’t make out the words.
She remembers that she is in the Berry household, in the spare bedroom where Rachel settled her when they arrived back from school. Despite Rachel’s offerings to wait for her if she wanted to attend Cheerios practice, Quinn simply wasn’t up for being screamed at by Coach Sylvester, and left with Rachel immediately after they left the girl’s restroom.
She stretches, and leans over the edge of the bed to her backpack, pulling out her cell phone to check the time and see if the world has fallen down around her head during her nap. It is only 5:30, and still light out, so she isn’t expected at home yet. Her parents are probably assuming she is still at Cheerios practice – unless Sue Sylvester has called them to report her absent. She shudders, hoping that isn’t the case. The thought of another trip to the study so soon on the heels of the last one feels… overwhelming.
Quinn closes her eyes, feeling the panic rise up with thoughts of her parents and the study. She looks down at her phone again. She has 11 missed calls and 14 unread text messages all from Santana and Brittany questioning first where she was and why she wasn’t at practice, and eventually questioning the rumor about going to Medina.. Her stomach drops out seeing the rumors spelled out in black and white on her cell phone, but she is at least relieved that there are no messages from her parents.
She looks around the room again and wonders what she is doing there, what she had been thinking agreeing to go with Rachel. In the bathroom, after the slushie, Rachel had been so sure of herself, so certain. Going with her had seemed like the most logical thing in the world, like running out of a building on fire.
Now, after a nap and facing the reality of dealing with her parents, of possibly having to answer for skipping Cheerios and… anything else they might have heard by now, coming here seemed a terrible idea. Rachel was a just a girl, like her. Rachel couldn’t stop her father, couldn’t stop his anger or his belt or his determination to control every move she made. Coming here has only made things worse, made her go off program, bring more trouble down on her head.
She jumps up from the bed and grabs her backpack, looking around to see if anything else is left around the room. She will tell Rachel she made a mistake, that her support was nice but that she knows how to handle her family, she will be fine.
Downstairs, she finds Rachel and her dads sitting in the living room talking.
“Quinn,” Rachel says, standing up and greeting her with a warm smile. “I didn’t know you were up, but I’m glad to see you. Let me introduce you –“
Quinn interrupts her, “Mr. and Mr. Berry. Hi, and, I’m sorry to be so abrupt.” She looks politely at Rachel’s dads before turning to Rachel and continuing.
“I don’t know what I was doing coming here, Rachel. I have to go home. My parents will be expecting me. I can’t be late, will you take me –“
“Quinn, slow down,” Rachel says, walking over and placing her arm gently on Quinn’s arm to still her. “It’s okay.”
“It’s not okay!” Quinn says anxiously, jerking her arm away. You keep saying that but you’re not the one who has to go home and face them... you’re not the one who’s going to get…” She stumbles over the words and stops when she feels the hysteria rising.
She takes a breath and continues, calmer but fear still evident in her voice. “I have to be home on time – I have to get there before my dad thinks anything is weird about my day. He can’t know I skipped practice, he can’t start looking for reasons to-“
“Hey!” Rachel says loudly, snapping Quinn’s attention back to her. “Hey,” she says again, more softly. “Stop, Quinn. Listen.”
“I have to go,” Quinn says desperately, casting a pleading look at Rachel and then each of her dads. “You’ve all been very nice to me, and I appreciate it, but I just have to go…”
“No,” Rachel says warmly. “You don’t.”
Quinn looks at her blankly.
“That’s what we’re trying to tell you,” Rachel tells her softly. She takes both of Quinn’s hands in her own and looks into her eyes. “Will you sit with me for a minute? Will you sit with me and listen to what I have to say? Then if you still want to go home you can, we’ll drive you right away, no hesitation. But will you just listen first?”
Rachel’s voice is so soft and so kind and so self assured that Quinn wants to listen. She feels a moment of conflict with herself, her panic telling her to go, to run, to get back as fast as she can for whatever damage control is necessary. But another part of her, the part that she remembers from the bathroom, the part that doesn’t want to go to her father’s study ever again… the part that wants to believe in Rachel, wants to believe that Rachel is as strong and brave and safe as she says… that part wants to stay, wants to hope there’s some answer that will just make it all stop.
She meets Rachel’s eyes for a long moment and then nods, exhaling a long breath she didn’t realize she had been holding.
She takes another deep breath, just for good measure, and feels her head clearing of some of the panic that had washed over her when she woke up.
Rachel gives her a hundred watt grin and guides her lightly over to the couch, settling herself and inviting Quinn to do the same.
“These are my dads,” Rachel says, “Martin and George.” Quinn looks up in introduction to see both of them giving her warm, supportive looks.
“And I told them about… what happened in the bathroom today,” Rachel continues.
Quinn shrinks in on herself, a wave of shame engulfing her along with a pang of anger that Rachel broke her confidence. She fidgets with the hem of her shirt, suddenly unable to look at anyone in the room.
“We talked about it, and they want to help you, like I do. I know the guest room isn’t much, it probably isn’t as big or fancy as the room you have in your house, but it’s got a door that locks if you want privacy, and you could decorate it however you wanted, and I know that I’m sometimes really annoying but I promise I wouldn’t bug you to death, we could even make a schedule of when you did and didn’t want to be disturbed, or come up with a system like people at college, where you put a scrunchie on the door if you did, or if you didn’t want company, except you’d have to let me know what the scrunchie meant so I wouldn’t get confused…”
Rachel begins to get excited as she talks, brainstorming ideas a mile a minute and becoming increasingly animated.
Quinn watches her, frowning, confused.
“Rachel,” she interrupts, not sure she’s understanding her correctly. “I don’t understand. What are you saying?”
Rachel looks at her, suddenly quieting herself down again. She gives Quinn’s hands a squeeze and gives Quinn a warm, affectionate smile.
“What I’m saying, Quinn… what we’re all saying…” Rachel looks up at each of her dads and back to Quinn, smiling. “ …is that you don’t have to go back. If you want to stay, you could just… stay. We have plenty of room, and would love to have you.”
Quinn is dumbfounded.
She thinks about what Rachel has just said.
She thinks about just not going back.
The simplicity of it hits her like a ton of bricks.
All the running and the overworking and the accommodating and the pleasing and the placating. All the fear and the dread and the shame and the pain and the apologizing and the vows to do better and the disappointment and the punishment.
She could just… not go back.
The idea never occurred to her.
Not even once.
She was used to thinking of her father as the whole world, as the king of the universe, as the owner of her life.
Not. Go. Back.
She was used to thinking that her life was not her own, that it wouldn’t be hers, that it wouldn’t really start until she graduated from high school, until she got out of Lima like her sister, went away to college or to Broadway or to anywhere but this cow town where her father was king. Rachel and her dads were telling her she didn’t have to wait. They seemed to think her life could start right now. Today. That all she had to do was not go back.
Quinn looked up at Rachel, amazement washing over her features.
She turns to Rachel’s fathers.
“She… she talked to you?” Quinn asks tentatively. “She told you… everything?”
Both of Rachel’s dads are nodding at her, smiling the same warm smile at Quinn.
“Everything?” Quinn asks again, wanting to be sure. “The bruises... the… baby?” She feels a flash of hot shame at the bruises, at anyone else knowing how her father had to punish her, knowing that she was loose and in the kind of trouble that loose girls get in.
“About your father, yes,” Rachel’s father Martin says gently. “About your condition, well, we don’t even know for sure that you have a condition, but she told us it was a possibility.”
Quinn looks to Rachel’s other father George.
“And you don’t care? “Either of you? I’m another mouth to feed, maybe even two mouths… I don’t always make good grades and I get myself into trouble…”
“I…” Rachel interrupts her. “We… we don’t want you to get hurt, Quinn. We’re afraid for you if you go back to your dad’s house. We’re afraid of him hurting you if he finds out what’s going on, which he will, eventually.”
Quinn hangs her head. She’s afraid of that too.
“We understand that you’re under a lot of pressure,” George says to her in a voice full of kindness, “and we want to support you in any way we can. We have some ideas, when you feel ready to talk about it.”
“And as for the rest,” Rachel says, her voice not leaving room for argument. “I’m hardly perfect either, Quinn. You might find me completely abhorrent to live with. I sing all the time, I’m insufferably driven and I’ve been told that I can be a bit… pushy,” she says, her voice going small as she looks sheepishly at her dads.
“But maybe…” Rachel says quietly, hopefully. “Maybe putting up with all those things might be a little bit… worth it?” She meets Quinn’s eyes. “Maybe as annoying as I am, I’m better than the alternative?”
Quinn looks at her a long time.
“What would I tell my dad?” she asks finally, fear creeping into her voice. “What will I tell him about why I’m not coming home? He’ll be really mad, he won’t just take it lying down…”
“We can talk about that together,” Martin tells her, “and we’ll be right here with you whatever you decide. You don’t have to face him alone.”
“You don’t know my dad,” she says, turning toward him, wanting him to understand, to know that he should be afraid of him, too. “He gets what he wants. Always.” She casts her eyes down to her lap, thinking of all of his methods of persuasion.
“He won’t be the first strong minded person we’ve ever come across,” George tells her, looking fondly at Martin and grinning. “And we don’t back down from things that are hard.” Martin smiles back at him before they both look encouragingly at Quinn.
Quinn feels a smile breaking over her own lips, feels a lightness coming over her, a weight lifting, her body telegraphing her answer even before her mind catches up.
“Are you sure,” she asks Rachel, looking her right in the eye. “Are you sure about this?”
“I’m sure,” Rachel says. “But are you sure? I know my dads probably want to hear you say it, to make sure it’s your decision and I didn’t steamroll over you like a crazy steamroller.”
“You didn’t steamroll me, Rachel,” Quinn says.
Rachel looks intently at her.
“Are you saying you’ll stay?”
Quinn looks at her, meets her eyes, steadies her breathing and her heartbeat.
“Yes,” she says to Rachel, feeling like it’s the first real decision she’s made in… ever.
“I’m saying… I’ll stay.”
“Can I hug you now?” Rachel says, without missing a beat.
“Yes,” Quinn grins. “Definitely yes.”
Rachel grabs her hand and pulls her up into a tight hug. Quinn relaxes into it, doesn’t hold back, squeezes Rachel back just as hard. She believes that Rachel wants her to stay. She believes that Rachel… wants her.
“SEE,” Rachel says enthusiastically, turning to her dads as they finally break the hug. “I didn’t steamroll over her like a crazy steamroller AT ALL. She doesn’t feel steamrolled. I do have finesse!” she says.
Quinn smiles, and it feels good. She still has to figure out about her father and the pregnancy test and now deal with Sue Sylvester, but she already feels two hundred percent better than she did three hours ago, and she knows that even facing all that won’t be nearly as hard as facing the study would have been. With that possibility ebbing away, she feels stronger, readier.
She looks at George and Martin, smiling to see them clasping their hands together, obviously relieved and glad of her answer.
Rachel and Martin launch into plans about dinner and the bedroom upstairs and a shopping trip to Target to get some things to make it more homey. Watching Rachel with her dad, it isn’t hard to see how she comes by it.
“It’s going to get better now,” she hears a voice tell her quietly.
She turns sideways to see George standing next to her, gazing down on her with a soft, caring expression. “It’s been bad, and scary to carry such a heavy weight by yourself, but things will get better now. You’ll see.”
“Thank you,” she tells him, wanting to believe. “Thank you for being so nice to me.”
“I’m glad you decided to stay,” he tells her. He places a hand on her forearm and gives her a gentle squeeze then turns toward the kitchen to start on dinner. Martin follows him after a moment, leaving Rachel standing alone in the living room with Quinn.
“It’s going to get better now, Quinn,” Rachel tells her, looking seriously into her eyes, all traces of the teasing she had just shared with her dad gone.
“It’s funny, your dad just told me the same thing. Maybe that means it’s true,” Quinn says, her tone just as serious.
“If this were a musical, we’d burst into song right now,” Rachel tells her, keeping a somber tone even as her eyes twinkle.
“If this were a musical, I’d be alone on a bus on my way to a convent,” Quinn replies, some of the shame rising back up. “Unwed pregnant teenage girls don’t generally fare well in musicals.”
“This is 2010,” Rachel tells her. “We’re reinventing the rules now.”
“That’s a new thing for me,” Quinn says honestly.
“New isn’t necessarily bad,” Rachel replies, taking a step closer to Quinn and reaching out to hold her hand.
“In this case, I guess it’s not,” Quinn says, smiling at Rachel and slipping her hand into Rachel’s outstretched.
Dinner is a surprisingly light affair. George whips up a simple meal of grilled vegetables, salmon and salad greens within the hour, and Rachel regales them all with tales of the week’s Glee club assignments, doing surprisingly accurate impressions of Mercedes, Kurt and Puck arguing with Mr. Schuster about the cultural relevancy of the boy band. Rachel’s dads listen to her and laugh over Rachel’s theatrics, offering up their own tales of college summer stock theatre.
“Is this what it’s supposed to be like?” Quinn wonders, listening and grinning at the animated conversation around her. “Is this what family looks like?”
She jumps up and begins to clear the dinner plates as soon as she notices everyone is finished, eager to show that she intends to pitch in and carry her weight. She turns on the tap and begins to run dishwater in the basin with the intent of doing the dishes, but she is stopped by Martin, who turns off the tap and stills her hands.
“Thank you,” he tells her gently, “but you’re our guest, and it would be most gauche of us to make our lovely company do the work.”
“Don’t let him fool you,” George chimes in. “It’s more a matter of the dishwasher doing the real work than our chivalry.” His eyes are twinkling.
Martin shushes him theatrically, and Quinn can’t help but giggle at their charms, even as she protests. She allows herself to be led back to the table.
“Besides,” George says when she sits back down. “The dishes can wait. We have some more important things to think about right now. Do you feel like we can talk about how we’re going to handle your father? Are you up for talking?”
Quinn sighs, coming back to reality from the silliness bubble of Rachel’s family that she had allowed herself to drift away on.
“There’s never a time when I feel up for talking about that,” Quinn says, sighing, “but I know I have to deal with it. They’ll be expecting me home soon.”
Rachel sits down beside her and shoots he a warm, supportive look.
“George and I were talking,” Martin starts, his voice serious but kind. “You can tell us as much or as little about what’s been going on at home as you like. You’re not under any pressure to tell us the details if you don’t want, but from what Rachel tells us your dad has a temper, and he’s hurt you, physically, in the past. Is that accurate?”
Quinn frowns, sighing. “It’s not even that he has a temper,” she says, trying to find words to describe her father and his abuse. “He never gets mad. He’s just cold, and calm, and mean. It would almost be easier to deal with if he just lost his temper and lashed out at me sometimes, like he couldn’t control it. But he’s all about control. Himself, my mother, me. Everyone around him. When he…” she closes her eyes, thinking about the belt, flinching at the memory. “When he… hurts me… he’s calm about it, and cruel. It’s scarier to me that way. Like he doesn’t even feel anything.”
She shudders, her eyes tearing up.
Rachel scoots her chair over to sit closer to her and reaches out to rub her shoulder gently.
“But yes,” Quinn says after a moment, looking up at Martin. “He does… hurt me. That’s accurate.”
It feels strange to her to say the words out loud in the kitchen, to acknowledge it, to tell. She’s embarrassed, but she also feels strangely… lighter. She can’t believe she’s sitting in the Berry kitchen talking about being whipped by her father over coffee like it’s the weather or the news. She realizes she feels really safe there, and a little bit invincible. Like if she could sit in the Berry kitchen forever, and never leave, nothing bad would ever happen again.
“There’s a few things we should think about when you decide what you want to tell him,” Martin continues gently. “I’m going to bring up some personal issues for you, and I want you to understand that I just want you to be able to make an informed decision, to do what feels right for you based on all of your choices, okay?”
Quinn nods, taking a deep breath.
“Okay,” Martin says.
“We want you to know how hard and scary this must be for you,” George chimes in before Martin continues, “and how brave it is to think about making changes in your life and standing up to your family. Whatever you decide, we’ll support you as we can.”
Quinn ducks her head, nodding, overwhelmed by how kind and supportive Rachel’s parents are being.
“So,” Martin says, his voice delicate. “Rachel told us that she found out today because she saw… bruises… on your legs.”
Quinn continues to look down, flushing with shame and folding her napkin into tinier and tinier squares in her nervousness at the mention of the bruises, the punishment.
“Is this the first time he’s hurt you badly enough to leave marks?”
Quinn shakes her head, her hands beginning to shred the napkins into tiny bits as she focuses on it more intently.
“She’s worn track pants to school with her Cheerios uniform a lot this year,” Rachel interjects softly, looking at Quinn, who doesn’t look up at her. “She told me every time –“
“Okay,” Martin says, cutting Rachel off. He nods and smiles at her gently, casting his eyes slightly at Quinn to indicate for Rachel to let her answer.
“ Rachel told us that you’ve been wearing your track pants this week since Monday. I’m going to assume that means it happened this time over the weekend?” Martin asks, his voice going even more soft and quiet.
Quinn nods and shreds napkin bits even faster.
“Friday,” she whispers under her breath without looking up.
“Thank you,” Martin says to her. “Today is Wednesday, so that was almost a week ago. Rachel told us that the marks she saw on your legs today were still very prominent and obvious, Quinn, even all these days later.”
Quinn’s eyes burn with tears that pool and then fall out of her eyes and hit the table with wet slaps as she continues to stare furiously at her hands, shredding and shredding the paper in front of her.
“From that, Quinn,” Martin says, his voice delicate, “I think we can assume that your father beat you pretty badly. We’re not talking about just a spanking, but a serious assault.”
Quinn’s hands stop shredding, motionless for a moment before she sweeps up the mess of paper bits in front of her and begins to wad them up, her body shaking as she fidgets her foot against the leg of her chair. She has not spoken, and not looked at anyone at the table since Martin started speaking.
George cuts in, reaching across the table to put his own hands over Quinn’s.
“What Martin is trying to tell you, baby,” he says, “is that what your father is doing to you is wrong. For better or worse, some parents do spank their children, yes, but he’s going way beyond that, and it’s not okay. You don’t deserve any of what is happening to you Quinn, no matter what kind of mistake you’ve made, and it’s against the law for him to hurt you like that. It’s against the law.”
Quinn looks up at him sharply. She meets his eyes and searches his face for any signs that he is lying to her, or trying to trick her, or setting her up. All she sees is care and kindness written across his features.
“My dads would never lie to you, Quinn,” Rachel adds, again reaching out to squeeze her shoulder. She leaves her hand resting there.
Quinn looks over at Rachel, again in conflict with herself. She’s been told her whole life that she has to be taught, that she has to be punished to do what is right. She’s been told that mistakes must be corrected and that her father loves her enough to chastise her when she falls, like God chastises his followers.
But Rachel’s dads are warm, and kind, and Rachel is confident and strong. She can’t imagine one of them taking a belt to her. Rachel may be pushy but she’s caring and always tries to do the right thing. She feels safe there, not at all on eggshells like she feels at home.
She thinks maybe… maybe… they’re telling her the truth.
She nods at Rachel, and then looks up at George and nods at him, too. She squeezes her hands in his and takes a deep breath.
“Are you able to keep talking?” he asks her. “Do you need a break, or maybe a glass of water?”
“I’m okay,” Quinn whispers. “We can talk more. But… a glass of water might help.”
Rachel is out of her chair in a flash, pouring from the Brita pitcher in the refrigerator. She places it in front of Quinn and she drinks. The water is cool and tastes good against her throat.
Martin looks at her, waiting for her to nod that she’s ready to continue. When she does, he speaks again.
“The reason we’re telling you this, Quinn, the reason we’re being so explicit is because the laws about this kind of thing are very clear. If you can document what he’s been doing to you, legally he has no right to make you go back there.”
“For that reason,” George picks up, “before we talk about how we’re going to handle telling him, we’d like you to think about letting us take you to the doctor. We would feel better knowing you’re not seriously hurt, and it will help you in the long run if the doctor documents the injuries that you have right now. No one is going to force you, but we’d like you to think about it.”
Quinn nods, thinking. The idea of seeing a doctor, of making a record, is scary. It’s irrefutable, and forever. It’s real, in a way that she has tried and tried to block out and deny for a long time.
“If…” she says tentatively, “if I go to the doctor, does the doctor have to make a police report?”
George and Martin look at each other, and then at Quinn. “Yes,” Martin says. “Doctors are mandated reporters.”
“Does that mean my dad will get arrested?” she asks, a thousand mixed feelings washing over her.
“Maybe,” George says, his tone direct, and real. “It’s a possibility. Or maybe he will have to go in front of a judge and be ordered to take parenting classes, or have his right to see you temporarily suspended.
“I don’t know if I want him to be arrested or to get in trouble,” Quinn says, chewing on her lip. “I just don’t want to go back there.”
“We understand,” George says gently. “But we want to be truthful with you about everything. You don’t have to go to the doctor right now if you don’t want, no one is going to force you to do anything. But we do want you to be thinking about it, because it might come to that if he gets angry and tries to force you to come back. That would be a legal way for you to assert your rights, but it’s only one option.”
“Do you think he’s going to be angry that you’re staying here?” Martin asks her, moving the conversation to the more pressing issue at hand.
Quinn nods emphatically. “He’ll be furious,” she says, shuddering at having to face him.
Rachel gives her hand a squeeze. “We’ll be right here with you, he won’t hurt you,” she says, staring first at Quinn and then gratefully at her dads, who are nodding.
“I don’t know what I’m going to tell him,” Quinn says, worry in her voice. I’ve been trying to think of some excuse, some thing that will make sense and keep him calm, but I just can’t think of anything. I don’t know what to say.” She sips more of her water.
Rachel, not knowing what else to do and desperate to do something to help the sad blonde at her table, silently gets up and refills her glass.
“We thought about that too,” George says to her carefully, “and we think the best policy is always the truth. An excuse or a lie might only make things worse. What if you told him the truth – that you want to make him proud of you but you’re struggling with the pressure and the intensity of his punishment, and you can’t stay there and let him hurt you anymore. You’re going to stay with friends awhile to give you all some space.”
Quinn thinks about that.
She tries to imagine saying those words to her father. She tries to imagine saying the word “I” to her father… there has never been an “I” for her where the two of them were concerned. There was only him, and what he expected of her, and what he told her, and what he did to her to make sure she was a “good girl.” She has never been allowed to have feelings, or have her own wants and desires and choices.
The thought of it now is scary and exhilarating all at once.
“What if he yells at me?” she says, her voice small and scared.
“I think you can guarantee he’s going to yell at you,” George says. “Or at least, from what you’ve told us, he’s going to be angry and threaten you, to say the things he says when he gets angry.”
“He’s probably going to tell you to come home right away, that you’re breaking or you’ve forgotten the rules and you’re in some kind of trouble,” Martin chimes in.
“He’s probably going to be really mean,” Rachel contributes, looking at Quinn sympathetically.
“So what am I supposed to DO then?” asks Quinn, despair coloring her voice as she looks around at all of them. They aren’t telling her anything she doesn’t already know, anything she hasn’t lived a hundred times.
“What do you always do when he acts that way?” George asks her curiously.
She looks at him, resentment blazing in her face. “Give in. Give up. Whatever he wants, which is usually to go to his study and bring him his belt.”
She stands up, once again overwhelmed with the feeling that coming here was a mistake, that the Berry’s have gotten her all worked up, they’ve stuck their noses in without understanding, that they’re well meaning but have no clue how to deal with her father or her family and now she’s just right back where she started. They’ve just admitted as much.
“Sooooo…” George says slowly, looking at her purposefully. “You’re saying that if he gets mad at you on the phone, and you obey him and do what he wants to fix it, that means you go back home and he beats you?”
Quinn looks at him scathingly, in disbelief at his gall.
“I can see how hard this is for you,” he continues softly. “I can see how high the stakes are, how it must seem like we’re making it out to be so easy,” he tells her apologetically.
She sighs, her features softening.
“If you want us to take you back we will,” George tells her, keeping the same kind, caring voice. “But first, if you can, I’d like you to answer one question for me. Okay? Can you stay with me in this conversation just a little bit longer?”
Rachel reaches out from her seat to hold Quinn’s hand. Quinn looks down at her and sighs. She knows they mean well. They don’t get it, but they mean well.
She looks at George and nods.
“Do you think,” he asks her, looking directly into her eyes, his voice steady and purposeful and direct. “Do you think that if you hadn’t come home with Rachel today, if you hadn’t done anything unusual, and just went to Cheerios practice and went home and went on with your life and had a normal week… do you think that would have kept it from ever happening again?”
Quinn is shocked into silence.
“Do you think if you make him mad on the phone tonight and you go home and take his punishment that it will be the last time? That he’ll never do it again after that?”
She knows the answer. She knows it without needing any time to think, or to consider, or to evaluate. She knows it in her bones.
Of course it will happen again. Her whole life is about trying to keep it from happening with any kind of frequency, but the tension and the stress she has lived with all this time is rooted in the fact that she doesn’t believe she can ever truly keep it from happening at all.
She thinks about what Rachel’s dads are saying to her.
It doesn’t matter if she did or didn’t go to Rachel’s house today, or does or doesn’t have a pregnancy rumor floating around at school, or does or doesn’t get straight A’s or keep her position as head cheerleader. Her dad would always find an excuse.
It doesn’t matter who she is, because that is who he is.
And if it was going to happen anyway, if there was always going to be something he would punish her for, if he was always come up with a reason, why not make it a reason that served her instead of further damaged her.
“You’re… you’re right,” Quinn says, suddenly exhausted, sitting back down in her chair.
“So,” Martin finishes, smiling at her in encouragement. “if it doesn’t matter what you do, if you’re saying the script is always the same, nomatter what you do to change it, why not just NOT play it out this time? Tell him the truth. Is he really going to be any more or less mad than if you went home and a few days from now he hears that you’re pregnant? Or that you might be?”
Quinn couldn’t argue with that logic. The Berry’s weren’t offering her a quick fix, or an easy fix, or a get out of jail free card. They were just giving her a place to be that was safe from the fallout. She supposed that’s all she could really expect or want, short of her father turning into a different person overnight.
She looked up at Martin and nodded her head.
“What do I say about the pregnancy?” she asked, her voice tired.
“You don’t,” George tells her frankly.
She looks up at him in surprise.
“Right now, there is no pregnancy. You haven’t taken a test, and you don’t know if you are or aren’t. The rumors are just rumors, and if he hears them eventually, that’s all he needs to know. They’re rumors, being spread by someone who is jealous of you or wants to hurt you. That much is true, from what Rachel tells me about those two boys who slushied you.”
“But, what if he finds out… If I am I can’t hide…” Quinn begins to protest, again feeling frustrated that they don’t seem to understand how powerful he is, how he knows everything and sees everything and she always loses as a result.
“It’s not his business,” George tells her gently, “just like it’s not ours. It’s your body, and your body belongs to you, Quinn. Nobody else. We’re here and we’ll be involved only as much as you want us to be, only based on what you choose to share. This week we can take you to the clinic downtown to get an official test and there are people there who can help you decide what to do, or you can talk to us if you like. But legally, the doctor is not allowed to disclose your results to Rachel or us or your father or anyone else who might come asking. Your medical results and decisions are confidential, and that’s the law.”
“How will I pay for all that?” Quinn says, again trying to make them understand, to get them to see that it isn’t that easy. “I don’t have any money and doctors cost money and my father won’t…”
“The clinic will help you fill out forms to get a medicaid card.” Martin says. “That’s what medicaid is there for, for people like you who need help and don’t have a lot of support. If you want to have the baby, it will help cover the prenatal costs. If you want to get an abortion, it will cover that too. It’s okay, Quinn. There are always choices.”
“I don’t think your father has wanted you to feel that way very much,” George adds, his eyes kind and supportive. “But you always have choices. Nomatter what anyone tells you.”
Quinn leans back in her chair, taking in what they have just told her. Her head is spinning with new information and she has about a hundred questions, but also feels like she’s walked about a hundred miles that day. If what Rachel’s dads are telling her is true… if she can stay there and they can protect her from her dad and there’s a way to pay for her medical care and things will work out, at least in the short term… then she thinks she might just have time later to get her questions asked.
She takes a deep breath.
She looks up at the family gathered around her, someone else’s family, but one that has already, in the space of one afternoon, treated her better than her own ever has.
She looks at Rachel, and then at Martin and George, meeting their eyes one by one.
“Will you guys sit with me while I make the call?” she asks, her voice small.
“Absolutely,” Martin tells her.
She nods her head and reaches into her pocket for her phone.
George suggests they all move that phase of the evening to the living room couch where they can pile up together and rally around Quinn like fairy godmothers.
Martin rolls his eyes at the pun and herds George toward the living room. Quinn watches them fondly, thinking how lucky Rachel is and that she probably doesn’t even realize it.
Rachel stays behind, watching Quinn watch her fathers with obvious affection.
“They’re amazing,” Quinn says to Rachel, not looking at the other girl, her gaze fixed on George and Martin, who were clearing decorative pillows off the couch to make room for all four of them.
“I’m lucky,” Rachel says, following Quinn’s gaze to her dads in the other room. “All of this… could just as easily be me.”
She casts a sideways glance at Quinn, who casts one back at her, the two of them locking eyes for a moment.
She looks down at the phone in her hand, and over to the couch, where Martin and George have taken the ends and are waiting for Quinn and Rachel to settle themselves in the middle.
She looks over at Rachel, who puts an arm around her and squeezes.
She looks back down at her phone.
She is ready.
Santana’s Bedroom, Several Weeks Later
After That Terrible Talk, as the phone call to her father had been christened in the Berry household, Quinn found herself settling into a comfortable routine there.
The call, predictably, was awful, with all the anticipated threats and gnashing of teeth from her father and tears and pleading from her. Somehow, though, emboldened by Rachel and her dads snuggled in and encouraging her on the couch, she managed to tell her father that she wasn’t coming home, that she couldn’t keep letting him hurt her. He told her that she was his and not ready to be out on her own, that the Berry’s would get tired of her and finally that she could try to put it off but he would, eventually, deal with her. He was cold and calculating and scary, and he succeeded in scaring her, but eventually she closed her phone shut on that conversation and went to bed that night without any further consequence.
That went a long way toward improving her outlook in the subsequent weeks. He continued to leave threatening messages on her voicemail, alternatingly indicating that she had had strayed too far and needed his correction to be set on the right path or showing tightly restrained anger, telling her that she couldn’t avoid him forever, and he would make her answer for her arrogance and disobedience. He had even enlisted the help of Pastor Murphy, who also left messages on her voicemail telling her that she was lost and God would show her the way home, that her father loved her and knew what was best for her.
The voicemails were stressful, but not nearly as much as what she would be going through if she were still under her father’s roof, and life with the Berry’s was predictable and… fun, she had to admit.
“For real?” Santana asks her again, flopping from her back onto her stomach on the bed and dangling her head over the end where Quinn currently sat on the floor polishing her toenails. “They’re not… weird or whatever? Berry is such a freak.”
Brittany leans forward and blows on Quinn’s toes, grinning up at her as she stretches out her leg to look at her work.
“She’s not so bad, San,” she says, looking up at the brunette. “I kind of like her in Glee club. Plus she’s being all nice to Quinn and everything.”
“What she’s DOING is keeping Quinn captive over there in that freak show house of hers and indoctrinating her into her freak ways,” Santana says, grinning as she snatches the nail polish out of Quinn’s hands and pretending to glare at her. “We thought they were holding you hostage up in there, it’s been so long since you’ve been OVER HERE.”
She gives Quinn’s head a playful push.
Quinn pushes back at her. “Don’t say bad stuff about them, Santana,” she says, smiling softly to herself. “They’re being really good to me. They let me stay and they make sure I have what I need and they include me in stuff. I like it there.”
“Yeah they include you – in their culture of weird,” Santana shoots back. “I saw that you’re totally taking a supportive role in all of Treasure Trail’s Myspace videos these days,” she says, shaking the nail polish bottle and preparing to do her own toenails.
“Oh, you mean the one that YOU commented on, saying that we should crawl back into whatever placenta we came out of? You’re such a hater,” Quinn teases, pushing Santana’s shoulder playfully and causing her to smear polish all around her little toe.
“Whatever, I have a reputation to uphold,” Santana teases back, clicking her tongue and wiping away the polish with a wadded up kleenex.
“I thought you guys sounded good, Quinn,” Brittany tells her. “It totally looked like fun.”
“It IS fun. I’m surprised how much fun,” Quinn says, leaning her head back on the bed and looking up at the ceiling as she plays absently with Brittany’s hair. “But it’s more than that, though,” she says, puzzling. “It’s like they take me seriously in a way my dad never did. They let me figure things out for myself, and decide things for myself, like based on what I think I need. It feels… good.”
“You need shit your best friends are here to give it to you,” Santana says, pouting a bit, obviously smarting that it was Rachel and not her that Quinn went to. “You need somewhere to stay you could totally stay here.”
“Your house is crazy already with all your brothers and sisters,” Quinn says, groaning inwardly at the thought. “Plus your grandma would FLIP when I started showing.” Quinn looks up at her. “She’s way nicer than my dad but just as religious, and she’d go nuts watching my unwed teenage self go through a pregnancy. You know that.”
“Can I feel your belly?” Brittany asks her, scooting up next to her and putting a hand over Quinn’s stomach.
“You can’t feel anything yet,” Quinn tells her, but lets her feel anyway. “The clinic said I’m only 9 weeks. I had my first ultrasound yesterday, look, they totally gave me a picture.” She rummages around in her purse and pulls out a folded and fuzzy image with an arrow reading “BABY” pointing to a light colored blob. Brittany snatches it out of her hands and furrows her brow looking at it, turning it up and down trying to see through the fuzz.
“And you’re really going through with it?” Santana asks, disbelieving. “You don’t want to just… take care of it?”
“SANTANA,” Brittany says in a scolding voice, cupping her ears over Quinn’s stomach like the baby can hear her. “Don’t say that, you’ll hurt her feelings.”
“I’m really going through with it,” Quinn says. “I don’t know if I’m going to keep it, but I know I don’t want to get rid of it. There’s got to be some good parents out there somewhere who will give it a good home. Rachel’s dads are living proof of that – they totally adopted Rachel.”
“They contracted Rachel,” Santana corrects her. “There’s a difference. And you really think you’re going to be able to carry it for however many months and then just give it up? You’re already carrying around pictures and it doesn’t even look like anything yet. You’re crazy.”
“Quit calling her ‘it’ you guys,” Brittany says, cooing into Quinn’s stomach. “She’s totally a girl.”
“It’s too early to tell, Brit,” Quinn says to her gently. “It could still be a boy. And for the record, Santana, Rachel’s parents wanted her, however they arranged it all. And somewhere there’s got to be parents that will want this baby too, if I’m not ready by the time it’s born.”
“SHE,” Brittany whispers loudly at Santana.
“All I’m saying is you’re my girl and I love you, all right? I don’t want to see you get hurt,” Santana tells her.
“Trust me, Santana,” Quinn says, smiling softly at her. “I’d be hurt a lot more if I were living at home with my dad and trying to go through this.”
“Does he know yet?” Brittany asks, pausing in her chattering to Quinn’s stomach to look up at her.
“Not that I know of,” Quinn says. “So far it’s just Rachel and her dads, you guys and the doctors at the clinic. So don’t spill it to anybody, okay? Not Puck, not anybody. If you really care about me, if you really want to protect me, we can’t do anything that will let it get back to my dad.”
“Duh, do you think we’re stupid?” Santana asks. She would never admit it but she was furious when Quinn finally talked to her about what had been going on with her dad at home; when she explained about skipping practice and moving in with Rachel. She would stand out in traffic before she did anything to let that prick hurt Quinn again.
“Obnoxious maybe, but never stupid,” Quinn grins, reaching up to tangle her fingers up in Santana’s.
Santana grins down at her and squeezes Quinn’s hand.
“Whatever, with all this serious talk,” she says loudly, totally covering over the serious moment between them. “Next time bring Man Hands with you and we can like, all make a video together.”
Quinn looks at her warmly, grateful for Santana’s silently offered acceptance of How Things Were, with Rachel, with everything.
Brittany jumps up, grinning and launching into a list of all the great girl bands they could totally pretend to be. Quinn lets the serious thoughts of the evening drift away and joins them, laughing over who would be the lead singer in an all girl version of Green Day.
McKinley High, Glee Club, the Following Day
The group is performing a rousing rendition of Walking on Sunshine when Jacob Ben Israel interrupts practice, coming in the room to hand Mr. Schuester a folded note. He backs out of the room slowly, putting his hand behind his neck and gyrating his hips in Rachel’s direction, causing her to stop mid-song and look frustratingly at their director.
“Mr. Schuester,” she starts, her voice huffy. “I really don’t think I can be expected to perform under these harassing conditions…”
“THANK YOU, JACOB,” Mr. Schuester says loudly, escorting Jacob forcefully out of the room before Rachel has a chance to launch into one of her tirades. He looks down and reads the folded paper before resuming practice.
“Quinn, you’re wanted in the office. Everybody else, take five. We’ll regroup in a minute.”
Rachel stalks over to Mr. Schuester, still in a huff and speechifying about the need to keep the rehearsal space a safety zone from lewd adolescent teenage male behavior. Mr. Schuester rolls his eyes but nods with her, agreeing to keep Jacob at bay.
Quinn stands up, wondering who could need anything from her in the office, hoping Sue Sylvester wasn’t calling her out of Glee club in another attempt to manipulate her or get back at Mr. Schue.
She leaves her backpack and things in the practice room and heads down the hall.
“Principal Figgins is waiting for you in his office,” she is told by the receptionist. “You can go on back.”
She slides around the desk partition and heads to the door, her curiosity growing.
She blanches when she opens it to see her father sitting across from Principal Figgins, both of them laughing and chatting amicably.
ON TO PART 4