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Fic: Slavery to a Pattern (6/7)
urban_folk_girl wrote in femslashheaven
Title: SLAVERY TO A PATTERN
Fandom: Glee
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: LIVEJOURNAL HATES ME.  Seriously, hates me.  Sorry for the confusion, but once again due to stupid, annoying LJ  post size restrictions, I have to fuck with the chapter breaks and post this in multiple sections.  Please note that I really did originally have a tightly outlined, four part plan for this fic.  Stupid LJ.  Stupid posting restrictions.  Anyway, I am re-numbering these chapters, all the way from the beginning, and this is now a seven part story.  Having Chapter 4 a, b and c is just silly.  I'm sorry for any confusion this may cause.There is also an epilogue coming as a bonus, in which sexy times will commence, but for all intents and purposes this is now complete.  I should mention that I took liberties with the timeline on the show.  I should also again mention that this is an angsty fic with angsty subject matter, and Quinn is recovering from some very dark events, which may lead to some dark thoughts for her.  Thanks everyone for reading, and I'm posting both segments of this so what you get tonight is a COMPLETED STORY!

PREVIOUS INSTALLMENTS:

Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV| Part V)

PART 6
NOTE: Due to LJ screwing my chapter breaks for length, I have re-numbered ALL chapters. Please go back and make sure you are up to date. Parts 5,6 & 7 were originally part of the same and final chapter, reposted here in segments due to length.



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McKinley High, Glee Practice
-------------------------------------------------------

The bathroom at the end of the hallway by the auditorium is empty, as usual, too far from the bustling center of the classrooms for most students to walk.

Quinn finds the quiet the perfect place to sit and regroup. She turns out the harshly buzzing fluorescent lights and the room is cast in a cool wash of natural light. She slides down the floor next to the row of sinks and stretches her legs out in front of her in a relaxed sprawl.

She closes her eyes, thinking about what Rachel told her recently – that her affection for the other girl was situational, not real.

She wonders if that could be what’s happening with the feelings bubbling up inside her– that her jealousy is situational, that watching Rachel be courted by Puck triggered some sort of fear about losing her newly stable home situation.

It feels different than that, though. The intensity – the fluttering.

Those feelings are <i>familiar</i>.

She remembers them from a year ago, watching Finn across the football field for the first time at summer cheerleading camp.

She remembers them from a few months ago, watching Puck through the giggly haze of wine coolers as he flirted and flattered her.

She’s crushing.

On Rachel.

For one terrible second she remembers her father’s voice warning her that living with gay people would turn her gay, turn her into a sex pervert, and wonders if he was right.

Just as fast she remembers her father’s belt, and his way of “dealing” with anything that doesn’t meet his approval. She remembers love, and Rachel’s dads, and Kurt and her friends and the 21st century.

She is not her father.

She blows out a long, extended breath that she hadn’t realized she was holding.

She is not her father.

She leans her head back against the wall, enjoying the feeling of the cool ceramic tiles beneath her.


This is how Rachel finds her.


Quinn doesn’t move her head, but does open her eyes and cast them toward the bathroom door when she hears the hinge creak open.

Rachel comes in far enough to let the door close behind her but then pauses in the entryway.

“Quinn?” she says, worry in her voice. “Are you okay? You left so quickly. Are you sick?”

Yes, Quinn thinks.

“No, I’m okay,” she answers Rachel. “I just got overexcited I think. Puck, right? Crazy?”

Rachel furrows her brow, reading that Quinn is hiding something.

“Odd, yes,” Rachel says, coming into the bathroom. She sits down next to Quinn on the floor.

Quinn notices how Rachel’s sneaker bumps and then settles casually against her own and groans inwardly, wondering what on earth to do with the feelings rising up inside of her.

“We’ve got to stop meeting like this…” she jokes to Rachel, weakly.

“I can go-“ Rachel says quickly, not wanting to intrude. She draws in her legs to stand, but Quinn reaches out a hand and holds her arm, stilling her.

“Stay?” Quinn says.

Rachel nods, settling back down.

“At least there’s no slushie this time,” Rachel kids, bumping Quinn’s shoulder.

“Still, you have a knack for finding me when I need you to,” Quinn tells her. “You and this bathroom.”

Rachel turns her head to look at Quinn’s face, a serious expression gracing her own.

“You need me?” Rachel asks. She studies the other girl. “What’s wrong, Quinn? Really? I know you well enough by now to know when something’s not right with you.”

Quinn thinks about Rachel and Puck, about how Rachel’s stock is rising and how much the other girl has wanted to have friends, to have a romance and a high school career that doesn’t include slushies and ridicule. Puck could be her ticket out of all that. Quinn knows she can’t tell Rachel the truth, she would never stand in the way of Rachel bringing something good into her life.  Even so, Puck isn't exactly her top candidate for boys that will bring goodness and care into Rachel's life. She remains silent.

Rachel misreads the quiet.

“Is it… is it Noah?” she asks after a moment of watching Quinn pick at her cuticles and stare at her lap. “Because I would never-“

“No,” Quinn says quickly. “No, it’s not that. I’m just tired, really. I don’t have feelings for Puck, and if you’re interested in him, really interested, I’ll support you all the way. I just want you to be careful. He isn’t…” She pauses to measure her words carefully. “Nothing is ever real to him, Rachel. I just want you to keep your eyes open.”

Rachel cocks her head, looking at Quinn.

“I’m not attracted to Noah, Quinn,” she says softly. “What I meant was that nomatter who it was, if it was someone you had feelings for I would never get in the way of that, or try to sabotage anything in your life.”

“Oh Rachel, I know,” Quinn tells her, reassures her. She turns her head, looking away from Rachel and across the room. “I just don’t want to see you get hurt, and if any part of you was thinking about Puck, I would want you to be careful.”

“You’re very sweet, Quinn,” Rachel says, smiling. She turns her head and follows Quinn's gaze to wall on the other side of the room.

“I don’t feel very sweet,” Quinn says softly, thinking again of the suddenly complicated feelings that have surfaced about the other girl.

Rachel threads her arm through Quinn’s and reaches down to take her hand, tangling their fingers up loosely.

“Things have been so crazy for so long Quinn that I think you forgot you were still in high school,” Rachel says softly. “And even without all the things you’ve been through, high school is really hard. Not like it was for our parent’s generation. Now that all of the big stuff has settled down, all the little stuff is just catching up to you. But everything’s going to work out okay. You’ll see.”

She squeezes Quinn’s hand for a moment before relaxing her grip and resuming the soft clasp she had before.

Quinn reaches her other hand across her body to hold Rachel’s arm and then scoots further down the wall, resting her head on Rachel’s shoulder and snuggling into her.

Rachel reaches up her other hand and cups Quinn’s head a moment, enjoying the tenderness passing between them.

“You’re really not interested in Puck?” Quinn asks a few minutes later, unable to restrain herself. “Because he can be pretty charming, and you looked pretty interested back there. She tries to make her voice sound teasing and normal.

“Oh, of course I’m flattered by his attentions,” Rachel answers, looking down at their hands and stroking the soft skin at the base of Quinn’s thumb. “He’s one of the biggest studs in school, and I’m a nobody. Who wouldn’t be flattered? But the truth is I… I like someone else,” she stammers, obviously reluctant to share that information.

Finn, Quinn thinks.

That thought is much more worrisome, but before she can allow herself to work herself up over it, Rachel speaks again.

“But… it isn’t even a possibility, so it doesn’t matter. Basically I think my shot at a romantic lead is going to have to wait until after high school,” she says wistfully.

Quinn cuts her eyes sideways at Rachel, looking at her and feeling torn in half. She wants to tell Rachel that she doesn’t care about Finn, that if Rachel isn't pursuing him because he's the father of her baby then it's okay, Quinn isn’t interested.

She can’t bring herself to say the words.

She doesn’t ever want to stand in the way of Rachel being happy with anyone, but she isn’t selfless enough or masochistic enough to actually encourage her or assist in the process.

She says nothing, and feels guilty at her selfishness.

The two of them sit in silence, leaning together on the floor, both lost in thought.

It is only the afternoon bell that rouses them.

Rachel stands first, holding her hand down to Quinn, who takes it and allows herself to be helped up by the brunette.

“I left my things in the practice room,” Quinn says, feeling suddenly awkward. “Meet you at your locker to head home?”

“Actually, my things are there, too,” Rachel says, walking to the bathroom door to hold it open for Quinn. “We should probably hurry before it gets locked for the day.”

Quinn nods and walks through the door, instantly comforted by the bustle of the hallway as students slam lockers and herd themselves toward the exits for the freedom of the afternoon.

She gets separated from Rachel almost immediately and turns around to find her, to tease her about being jostled down the hallway.  The words die on her lips as she sees Sue Sylvester storming up the hallway towards her, students scattering out of her way in all directions.

“Q,” she says, stopping short in front of her. “Thank goodness I found you, I’ve been slumming it out here in the hallway for four hours looking for you.”

Quinn forces herself not to roll her eyes, thinking the bell only rung five minutes ago.

Sue towers over her,  seeming to grow even taller and call upon the full power of her intimidating presence as she looks down into Quinn's face. “I wanted to talk to you in person so I could look in your eyes when I give you this piece of business.”

Quinn looks up at her, a knot forming in her stomach.

“You’re off the Cheerios,” Sue says, looking directly into her eyes with a flourish. “I can’t have a pregnant girl on my squad. You’re a disgrace.”

Quinn recoils as if she’s been slapped.

Sue glares triumphantly at her for another moment before storming off down the hallway.

Quinn blinks, rooted to the spot in her shock.

She isn’t aware of the crowd of students around her dissipating, bumping and jostling her as they resume their trek to the parking lot.

She isn’t aware of Mr. Schue, standing halfway down the hall looking after she and Sue, a similarly slack-jawed expression on his own face.

She feels her eyes tearing up and hates the weakness in her, hates that she so easily gives people like Sue and her father so much power over her.

Just then, she feels a warm hand travel down the back of her arm and clasp her hand, threading fingers with her. She feels a warm body pressing against her back as a voice whispers in her ear.

“It’s okay, Quinn. It’s okay.”

Rachel is there. Rachel must have been right behind them, ,must have seen the whole thing.

“It’s not your fault. We knew this was coming,” Rachel whispers, so close that Quinn can feel the heat of her breath on the back of her neck. “That was a mean way of doing it, but we know Sue is mean. She’s just using you to vent her anger. It isn’t true what she said and it’s not your fault.” She squeezes Quinn’s hand.

Quinn takes a deep breath.

She feels herself coming back to herself, coming down from the shock.

Rachel is there with her.

The world doesn’t end.

Sue is the last really negative presence in her life, the last bullying, controlling person she is still working to placate, to please, to handle. She likes to cheer, she’ll miss the athleticism of the squad, the high of being flung into the air and standing on top of the backs of her team like a conquering hero as stadiums cheer her like a god... but she won’t miss Sue Sylvester.

She won’t miss the lying, the manipulating, the starving, the ridicule and verbal abuse, the control.

She won’t miss that part of her herself, that scheming, underhanded girl she has to be in order to stay in Sue’s good graces.

“It’s okay, Quinn. We’re okay,” Rachel whispers into her ear again, obviously concerned.

Quinn turns around to face Rachel, who is looking worriedly at her, her eyebrows knitting up in concern.

She smiles a humble smile at the other girl.

“Thanks,” she says simply.

It’s a small word for a big feeling, but it’s enough.

“Want to go home?” Rachel asks, not letting go of her hand.

Quinn nods, and lets herself be led down the hall. When they get to the door of the practice room, the team crowds around them, Mercedes having witnessed the whole event and reported immediately back to the rest of Glee club within seconds.

They gripe and moan and berate Coach Sylvester for her meanness and reassure Quinn that she’s not a disgrace and not alone, rallying around her. With the exception of Santana, no one seems to notice that she has not let go of Rachel’s hand the entire time they stand in the doorway.

In a moment of grace, Santana raises an eyebrow at her, looking down at her hand and back up to meet Quinn’s gaze, but says nothing.

--------------------------------------------------

Berry Household
--------------------------------------------------



That night, Quinn appears at Rachel's door.

“Do you mind if I come in? I can't sleep,” she says.

Rachel looks over at the clock in surprise, taking in the time, 11:15pm. She’s gotten used to and quite fond of their evening girl talk over the last weeks, but Quinn had gone to bed an hour ago, and looks rumpled in her fleecy pajama bottoms and tank top but definitely wide awake.

Rachel nods to her. “Of course.”

She is lying back in bed, googling show choir performances and trying to get inspiration for Regionals. She scoots over, making a space for Quinn to scoot in next to her.

“Find anything good?” Quinn asks, leaning back against the headboard next to Rachel and propping her legs up to lean them against hers.

“Lots of possibilities, but no clue what’s going to win us Regionals. It’s the age old question of selling out,” Rachel says, sighing. “Do we sing to our strengths and choose songs that best compliment our particular ensemble, or do we pander to the judges with obvious, done-to-death cookie cutter acts that I personally feel are beneath us and our level of integrity as a group.”

Rachel’s eyes never leave her laptop and she scans google headlines to read about past performances that have won at the National competition level.

“Obvious to you maybe,” Quinn says, always impressed with Rachel’s focus, her driving energy. “The rest of us are lucky to string together notes that sound good.”

Rachel looks up at her, surprised. “Don’t sell yourselves short, Quinn,” she says, frowning. “We’re… good. You’re good. I think we have a real shot if we make the right choices. Song selection is everything.”

Quinn grins at the passion in her voice, at her completely un-ironic delivery. She leans back and closes her eyes.


“I’m sorry,” Rachel says after a moment, wrenching her eyes away from her laptop screen to look over at Quinn. “I’m chattering on. You should stop me when I’m like this, when I forget that things exist in the world beyond Glee club.”

“I like you like this,” Quinn says, humming to herself, keeping her eyes closed. “We’re lucky to have you. We wouldn’t be much of anything without your vision and your dedication.”

“My diva-like relentlessness, you mean,” Rachel says, shutting her laptop.

“I mean your vision and dedication,” Quinn repeats, bumping Rachel’s knee with her own.

“Enough about Glee for now,” Rachel says, setting her laptop on her night table. “How are you? It was insensitive of me not to ask when you came in – you’re up later than usual. Is everything okay?”

Quinn sighs. “I’m okay. My mind won’t stop spinning. The usual.”

“Today was hard,” Rachel says softly, empathizing.

“It was,” Quinn agrees. She doesn’t embellish.

“Do you want to talk about it?” Rachel asks, casting Quinn a sideways glance.

“Not really,” Quinn replies honestly. “But I kind of don’t want to be alone, either. Do you mind if I just… sit with you for awhile? You can keep working or doing whatever you were doing, you don’t have to entertain me and I won’t be any bother.”

Rachel sits up and turns to look at Quinn directly.

“You’re never any bother,” she tells her earnestly. “And of course you can sit with me. You’re always welcome in here.”

Quinn ducks her head and smiles appreciatively. “Thanks. I think I’d  like that - just to be in here with you for awhile. You can keep working, if that doesn’t weird you out like I’m a lump of furniture next to you.”

“You’re definitely not a lump of furniture,” Rachel says in a thick, strange voice. She clears her throat. “And I’m not weirded out. Just let me know if you need anything, okay?”

Quinn nods.

Rachel nods back and reaches back over to her nightstand. She picks up her laptop again and flips it open, tuning back into the articles she was combing through.

Quinn closes her eyes and settles herself back into the pillow, content to listen to Rachel’s fingers tapping the keys on her laptop and let her mind drift.

After awhile, she feels Rachel shift next to her, hears her close the laptop and push it back to its spot on the nightstand.

“Do you mind if I turn out the light?” Rachel asks her softly. “I'm getting tired.”

Quinn opens her eyes and looks over at Rachel. “I'll - I'll go,” she starts, sitting up.

Rachel puts an arm on her thigh, stilling her. She looks at her shyly. “You don't have to,” she whispers in a halting voice. “If you want you can... stay. If it will help.”

Quinn sighs in relief. Keeping company on the bed next to Rachel felt… safe, comfortable, right. The thought of going back to her room to be alone that night seemed almost as unpleasant as a trip to her father’s study.

She nods at Rachel. “I’d like that,” she whispers back.

Rachel nods back at her, and reaches over to turn off the lamp on the nightstand, casting the room into darkness.

Quinn lifts up the covers and crawls into bed next to Rachel, laying on her back.

“Thank you,” she whispers, staring up at the darkened ceiling.

“You’re welcome,” Rachel whispers back, also laying on her back and staring up at the ceiling.

Neither of them speak for awhile, although both are very much awake.

Quinn is hyper aware of Rachel in the bed next to her, of her breathing, of the smell of her shampoo, strawberry that reminds her of the Strawberry Shortcake dolls she inherited from her older sister when she was little, of her elbow, grazing against hers with both of them lying side by side on their backs.

“Rachel,” she asks into the darkness after a little while. “Can I ask you for something?”

“Okay,” Rachel says, laying unnaturally still next to her.

“Will you...” Quinn trails off and ducks her head, suddenly bashful.

Rachel waits for her to continue.

“Ugh, nevermind, I can't, it's too completely corny,” she says after a moment, turning her face into Rachel’s shoulder and groaning.

“Quinn what?” Rachel asks, curiosity in her voice, and a bit of eagerness.

“Will you... sing something?” Quinn asks in a small voice. “Not, you know, to me,” she continues quickly, disclaiming. “I'm not six years old or whatever, but just... sing something? I don't care what. I love listening to you.”

Rachel sits up on her elbow, squinting down at Quinn in the dark, trying to make out her expression but unsuccessful in the shadows of the room.

She rolls back on her back and looks up at the ceiling.

She is silent for so long that Quinn thinks she might have offended her, or that it must have made her uncomfortable so she is ignoring the request.

She is just about to turn over on her side, facing away from the other girl to give her space, when she hears Rachel’s voice cut the quiet of the room, clear and soft and conspiratorial. Quinn immediately recognizes the first bars of Not While I’m Around from Sweeney Todd and smiles to herself, feeling a surge of affection for the other girl.

Rachel stays on her back, her eyes closed and her face upturned to the ceiling as she sings. Quinn turns into her, spooning around her hip and resting her head on Rachel's
collarbone.

She can feel the vibrations of Rachel's vocal cords through her chest and she is struck by how comforting it is, how Rachel is nobody's mother but is way better at it than her own mother, who has never done anything like this for her.

She thinks about the growing baby inside her, about what it would be like to keep it.

If she could have a life like this - like Rachel and her dads with breakfast and smiles
and songs and care, if she could be this kind of mom and not like her own mother - she thinks it might be possible. When she first began to suspect she was pregnant, she had only felt terrible about bringing a baby into the dark and oppressive environment of her parent's house - of how stretched thin she felt, of how nobody got enough love there and how she would never want to bring a baby into such a negative, hurtful place. In opening up her home and her life to her, Rachel had unknowingly offered her a vision of a completely new way to be and to live, one that opened up possibilities stretching far beyond anything she had ever contemplated before. The baby… her baby was one of them. Still, she was young, and only just starting to think about the world with different
eyes than her parents. Adding a baby to that process was, in some ways, cheating them both.

She exhales a long breath and feels surprised to realize this is the first time she has been able to think about her pregnancy so honestly, to think about her choices without the accompanying choke of shame that always rises in tandem.

She likes feeling like she has choices.

She looks up at the ceiling, at the walls and floor and plaster that make up the House of Berry.

She listens to Rachel’s voice, quiet singing meant just for her.

I love you, Rachel, she thinks, and closes her eyes, waiting for sleep.

--------------------------------------------------





The next night, Quinn goes to Rachel’s room again. And the night after that. And the night after that, until eventually she doesn’t remember the last time she slept in her own bed.

In the beginning, Quinn thinks up excuses – help trying out a hairstyle for the next day at school, a second opinion about an essay she wrote for class, a youtube video she thinks would sound great with Rachel’s voice. Eventually, she stops needing excuses and simply shows up at Rachel’s door, waits for Rachel to look up and nod for her to come in.

They don’t talk – Quinn settles herself under the covers and lays against Rachel, sometimes resting her head on her shoulder, other times in her lap as Rachel works on her laptop or listens to her headphones learning a new song.

If Rachel thinks it’s strange or takes exception she doesn’t say so, just smiles the same soft smile when Quinn shows up in the doorway, scooting over to make a space for her in the bed before going back to whatever she’s working on that night. They don’t acknowledge it during the day, or talk about it, ever. Sometimes Quinn wonders what Rachel thinks when they are laying in bed together after the lights go out, their sleep characterized by chaste snuggles. She wonders if Rachel is feeling the same feelings, asking herself the same questions or if to her it’s just platonic - a simple act of comfort between friends. She wonders if Rachel would notice or feel disappointed if she just didn’t show up one night.

She likes being there too much to test and find out. She feels like things have finally gotten better, gotten to a point where she’s happy just to keep the status quo. It’s a good feeling, even with all the confusion about Rachel, and she won’t do anything to jeopardize it.




---------------------------------------------------------------------

Guest room, Berry Household
---------------------------------------------------------------------



Three weeks later, she gets the first message.


It is early evening and she is sprawled across her own bed listening to her headphones. She is working on a playlist for her latest fantasy about Rachel, in which she is being held captive on a pirate ship, ill treated and forced into servitude by mean swashbucklers. She imagines Rachel as her fearless champion, a brassy girl pirate who invades the ship and uses her cunning to overthrow her captors and rescue her from torment.

The fantasies are another thing she doesn’t talk about. Since that first night in Rachel’s room, since lying next to her and enjoying the warmth and weight of her, the feeling of being safe, untouchable in that space… Rachel has exploded into her fantasy life. She spends an inordinate amount of time just… thinking things. Secret, shameful things she can never never say out loud, thoughts that make her wonder if her father isn’t right about her being a wicked, wicked girl.

It started naturally enough, that first night. Lying in bed with Rachel she thought about how she came to be there, thought about her father, about all the times he hurt her and especially about the last time… her fear, the pain, Rachel bursting through the door and facing him down, scooping Quinn up and spiriting her away to safety.

She is comforted by these thoughts, by the idea of rescue.

The fantasies grew from there, with her imagining Rachel rescuing her over and over in all sorts of imagined settings, always her shining protector. Sometimes the scenarios are elaborate and fantastic, and she is at the mercy of brutal captors from whom Rachel valiantly frees her, sweeping her off her feet and delivering her from torment and cruelty. Other times she just goes back to that day at her parent’s house, her father and the belt and Rachel’s courage. And sometimes… sometimes she imagines that it is Rachel wielding the belt, Rachel speaking sharply about teachin her a lesson, Rachel bending her over her father’s desk and punishing her before scooping her up and holding her, comforting her while she cries. She is confused by these thoughts, by the way everything blurs together in her mind but she knows she has time to work them out, knows as long as she keeps them private she isn’t hurting anything.

It is in one of these moments of woolgathering that the first message finds her.

She feels her phone vibrate against her hip and reaches for it, seeing a voicemail notification on the screen. She grins, flipping her phone around and hoping it’s Santana, who frequently calls her shortly before bed to rib her about Rachel. Santana is the only person to whom she’s been able to be honest about her feelings for Rachel – at least, the romantic part of her feelings about Rachel. The fantasies she keeps to herself, thinking they might be too far out even for her adventurous friend. Quinn knows that Santana is too sharp and too shifty not to have noticed her crush, though, and because of Brittany Quinn knows that Santana would never judge her. At least, not because Rachel is a girl. Maybe because she’s Rachel, but even that Santana has softened to. Seeing Rachel face off against her dad went a long way toward earning Santana’s grudging respect. Still, Santana never misses an opportunity to rib her, and Quinn fully expects to hear the other girl’s mocking voice on the recording.

What she hears instead shocks her into stillness.



“Quinn? Quinnie? It’s your voicemail? I was hoping to get you in person but oh, well, it’s your mother! Quinnie I have news, baby I left your father – I did it! He was cheating on me, with some juice girl from the club can you believe it, and I left him! It’s just me now, and I’ve got a little apartment, and I want you to know that everything is good now and so you can come home. I want you to come home, bunny. Mommy misses you. I know we haven’t spoken in a while but you can just come home and we’ll put this whole mess behind us. Call me, Quinnie, okay? Love you.”




Her mother’s voice is fluttery and excited like a child making a prank call, and Quinn listens two more times just to make sure she has heard right.

In her mind, she does a quick mental calendar check, thinking that it’s been at least four months since she left her father’s house, closer to five if she counts the few weeks she spent at Rachel’s before the final confrontation with her father.

Four months with no word at all from her mother.

No contact, no messages, no check-ins, not even the minimal effort to make sure Quinn was okay, that she was still alive and being taken care of.

Four months of complete and total abandonment. She isn’t sure that even if her mother had tried to make contact she would have accepted – she still carries a lot of resentment for the things that went on in her house the long years of her childhood. Even though it wasn’t her mother actually swinging the belt, she turned a blind eye, she let it happen right under her nose and never protected Quinn or stood up for her. She never comforted her or did anything but pour drink after drink and let her father do whatever he wanted. And when it all fell apart – when push came to shove and everything came to a head, she let her leave. She let Quinn walk out of the door and out of her life rather than stand up for her. The time came for picking, and she picked her husband over her child.

Quinn is angry about this – really angry, but still she would have appreciated knowing her mother had some inkling of interest in her welfare.

She deletes the message, but sits on the bed thinking about it long after, all other thoughts momentarily abandoned.




She is startled to realize that three hours have gone by when Rachel appears in her doorway later in the evening.

She feels too scattered and confused to take pleasure in the knowledge that her suspicions are validated.

“Hey,” Rachel says tentatively, taking in the sight of Quinn, sitting cross legged on her bed, phone in hand, her ipod discarded on the mattress next to her.

“Hey,” Quinn says, shuffling her phone aside like it’s some sort of contraband.

Rachel furrows her brow but lets it pass.

“I… I was watching these videos of the Penn State showchoir from 2002,” she says, revealing her laptop tucked under her arm. “I was wondering what you think about their choreography – I found it detracting from the vocals, but the judges seemed to like it. Do you mind if I come in?”

Quinn smiles softly. “Of course.” She scoots over in her bed, making a space.

Rachel crosses the room and sits next to her, opening her laptop.

She moves to start the video she has queued up on Youtube, but pauses, her finger hesitating over her keyboard.

She turns to Quinn and sighs.

“Are you okay?” she says, always one for being straightforward.

Quinn isn’t at all surprised. That directness is one of her favorite things about Rachel.

“You seemed normal at dinner,” Rachel continues, chewing her bottom lip. “But now you seem… quiet. Has something upset you? Have I upset you somehow?”

Quinn reaches out and clasps Rachel’s hand, thinking about how it took approximately 20 minutes for Rachel to come and check on her, make sure she was okay, and four months for her mother to even remember she had a daughter. She thinks about the day she left home, how her father beat her so badly she had to be carried out of the house and her mother never even followed up to make sure she wasn’t badly hurt, or in the hospital, crippled or worse.

She contemplates telling Rachel about the message, but just as fast shuts the thought down. She doesn’t want Rachel to be happy for her that her mother has contacted her, doesn’t want Rachel to start to wonder if she should go back, try and repair things.

On top of all the complications about safety at home and about the emerging… whatever it was between them, Quinn knows that Rachel is sensitive about mothers, not having one herself.

Plus Rachel could tell her dads, and they could tell her to go back, could be glad that the poor kid with the messed up family is out of their hair.

She stops herself. She doesn’t really think Rachel’s dads would ever say or think that about her, but her fears are swirling and she doesn’t want to do anything that could shake up the stability she has finally found.

She doesn’t tell Rachel anything.

“Oh, Rachel no,” she says, reassuring her. “I’m good. We’re good,” she says, squeezing Rachel’s hand. “I just got sidetracked with my ipod tonight, tagging some new tracks and making playlists. Everything is good. I’m glad you came and found me!”

She leans up against Rachel’s side and threads her arms through hers, resting her chin on Rachel’s shoulder.

Rachel looks at her suspiciously for a moment before giving her a gentle snuggle in return.

“So, a new video?” Quinn prompts, looking down at Rachel’s laptop. Rachel looks down as well.

“Yes, and this team is very good, and I mean excellent,” Rachel says, her tone resuming some of its normal… Rachelness. She goes to start the video playback but is interrupted by Quinn tugging at her wrist before she can hit the button.

“Rach?” Quinn asks timidly, leaning back to meet Rachel’s eyes.

“What is it?” Rachel says worriedly, immediately pausing the conversation about the show choir when she senses Quinn’s hesitancy.

“I really want to watch your videos…” Quinn says, “but… can we go back to your room first? I like being in there with you.”

“YES,” Rachel exhales, breaking into a thousand watt grin, obviously relieved. She jumps up from Quinn’s bed and Quinn stands with her.

“I’ll be there in a minute, okay? I spaced out earlier and now I need to put on my pajamas and brush my teeth and stuff,” she tells Rachel, who nods at her and heads down the hall. “Don’t start without me!” Quinn calls.

She picks up her phone from where she had pushed it aside on the bed. She looks at it for a moment, silences the ringer and shoves it into the drawer of her nightstand.

She walks to the door of the bedroom, turns and shoots a last glance inside toward the drawer with the phone, frowns and turns out the light.


---------------------------------------
McKinley High
----------------------------------------

The next day, before it’s even time for lunch she has two more messages from her mother. They are chatty and conspirital , one mentioning a sale on linens at Sheets-N-Things and cheerfully proposing a makeover for their respective bedrooms and the other offering a mani-pedi spa afternoon for the two of them, a just-girls day.

Quinn deletes both messages, feeling initially angry and then angrier the second time.

She is walking down the hall towards the cafeteria feeling quite the sour puss when a hand shoots out and grabs the back collar of her dress, yanking her into a nearby classroom.

“What the-“ she gripes, reaching a hand up to rub the back of her neck when she turns to see Santana standing in front of her, arms crossed.

Apparently, she looked as much a sour puss as she felt.

“What’s with you today,” Santana says, getting to the point without even a greeting. “You’ve been walking around all morning like you want to kill someone.”

“I’m fine,” Quinn says, glaring at her. “And thanks for the gentle, supportive approach.”

“Bullshit,” Santana says. “I know you and something’s up. Trouble in Berry-land?”

“No, it’s nothing like that,” Quinn snaps a bit more harshly than she means to, but she’s been angry without a target since getting the first message the night before and Santana has just unwittingly stepped right into the bullseye. “Rachel and her dads are as good to me as ever.”

“Something’s up. You know you can’t hide shit from me. You don’t talk to your best friend anymore?” Santana challenges, ignoring Quinn’s implication.

“Not when she’s interrogating me like I’m under arrest, no,” Quinn says, not hiding her annoyance. “Just lay off, okay?”
.
Santana gives her a hard stare.

“Are you okay at least,” she asks, coming down from her hard tone. “Your dad’s not messing with you or anything? Because if he is…”

Quinn can’t help the smile tugging at her lips at the bravado beneath the tough girl’s words, her protectiveness.

“No, it’s not him,” she replies, bringing her own tone down a notch.

“Look,” Santana tells her, stepping into her space and lowering her voice. “Just because you’re not a Cheerio anymore doesn’t mean you’re not still, you know, my friend or whatever. And I know you, and I know something’s up.”

Quinn sighs.

“If I tell you, will you keep it to yourself? Not even tell Brittany? No one can know.”

Santana raises an eyebrow. “Not even Berry?”

“NO ONE, Santana, I’m serious,” Quinn says, huffing a little.

“Okay, okay,” Santana nods, waving off Quinn’s worries. “Nobody. I hear you.”

Quinn sighs. “It’s not my dad…” she starts, her tone frustrated. She tells Santana about her mother, about the messages the night before and the ones today, about how she can’t tell Rachel and how anxious she is about the whole thing.

Santana listens and then looks up at her.

“Maybe you should return her call,” she says flatly. “She is your mother. It’s shitty what she did with your dad and all, but maybe she’s different now.”

Quinn groans.

“See!” she says, petulance in her voice. “See? This is why I can’t tell anyone. If this is what you’re telling me, imagine what Rachel or her dads or Mr. Schue or Miss Pillsbury would tell me. Everybody thinks that being a mother gives you some kind of entitlement to your kid, some kind of pass. What has she ever done for me, Santana? For me, really? I’m sick of it!” Quinn is working herself up into a state. “I’m sick of adults in my life who don’t know how to act!”

“Whoa,” Santana says, backing up. “It was just a suggestion. Cool your jets.”

Quinn slumps against the wall and looks at Santana with a resigned expression.

“Her wanting me to come home doesn't have anything to do with me, with wanting to make things up to me,” she says, sounding wistful.

“She doesn't want me there because she misses me or regrets what she did. She wants me there because my dad is gone and she doesn't know how to be alone.”

Santana looks at her a long moment.

“I’m sorry,” she finally says, without any of her usual pretense or haughtiness. “That has to sting. You know you can always talk to me, right?”

Quinn looks over at the dark haired girl. “Thanks,” she says, throwing an arm around Santana’s shoulders.

Santana bumps her hip affectionately.

“Are you drinking your lunch today or would you like to actually eat lunch with me?” Quinn asks, breaking the hug after a moment.

“Whatever,” Santana says, slipping easily back into her usual superior tone and shooting Quinn a mock-indignant stare. She runs her eyes down to Quinn’s growing baby-bump under her dress. “You know you miss having a body like this.” She twirls a little before opening the door, showing off her tight abs and toned legs.

Quinn laughs. “Maybe, but I don’t miss having to starve myself to keep it.” She breezes through the door as Santana holds it open for her, the two of them heading down toward the cafeteria.


During the second half of the day, she gets four text messages from her mother.

By the next morning, two more voice messages. Her mother does not acknowledge that she is ignorning them, simply increases the frequency and chatters on to her in the same falsely cheerful tone about the same trivial things.





Her week progresses in this way.

She begins to feel stalked, wondering if there are legalities related to being harassed by a parent.

She begins to dread the phone, each vibration and message notification putting her more and more on edge.

By Thursday, she is a ball of nerves.


Standing at her locker after the last bell, she is relieved that Glee practice is today, and hopes that singing, that sharing the easy companionship of her team will help her shake off some of the stress she has felt over the week, distance her from the intensity of her emotions, even for a short while.

She is closing her locker and turning away from it when she feels her phone vibrate in her cardigan pocket.

She grabs it angrily and flips the screen on, reading the latest text:



-Quinnie? Are you getting my msgs? Please get back to me. Mommy misses you.



The message is the last straw. She deletes it and turns off her phone completely, vowing to leave it off for the rest of the night. The rest of the week, maybe. Regionals are coming up and she doesn’t want to be distracted, doesn’t want the added stress to put her on edge, throw her off her game.

Or worse, throw Rachel off her game.

Quinn heads down the hallway toward the practice room, thinking about Rachel.

As the next round of competition grows closer, Quinn has had a front row seat for witnessing Rachel’s nerves and anxiety, and has done her best to be supportive and comforting. Over the last two weeks, Rachel has stopped spending evenings on the computer researching and watching performance videos, instead spending hours in front of her mirror practicing possible song selections and critiquing herself. She asks Quinn countless questions about her facial expressions, her inflections on this note or that, and if she is being incessant and obnoxious. Quinn is patient and caring, and does her best to reassure Rachel that she is perfect, talented, and NOT obnoxious. She might be fudging a bit on the obnoxious part – both of them know it, but Quinn doesn’t think such a white lie is too bad if it helps Rachel feel better.

It just isn’t the time to interject a bunch of her family drama into their lives.

Still, the burden of the secret, of putting on a cheerful face, is getting to her.

“Just tell her,” Santana says, coming up behind Quinn and putting an arm loosely around her shoulders.

Quinn turns and looks at her quizzically, the two of them pausing in front of the door of the practice room.

“RACHEL,” Santana says, like it’s obvious. “Just tell her about the messages. Maybe she can help you stop moping around here like somebody drowned your kitten.”

“I can’t, you know I can’t. She’ll flip,” Quinn says, sounding dejected.

“Don’t you mean she won’t flip, and then you will?” Santana counters, fixing her with a hard stare.

“Who’s flipping?” Brittany asks, coming up and leaning over Santana’s shoulder. “I dared my cousin to do a backflip off his pool once and he hit the diving board and almost died.”

Both girls turn and look at Brittany with amused faces.

“Rachel is flipping,” Quinn says quickly, before Santana can open her mouth. “She’s really nervous about Regionals so we should try and be supportive. Not do ANYTHING,“ she glares pointedly at Santana, “-to stress her out any further.”

“Girl, I hear that,” Mercedes says, walking up on them as they enter the practice room. “I thought she was a diva before but our girl is SPAZZING on this thing. I don’t know how you live with her, Quinn.”

“Are we talking about Rachel and her insane stress about Regionals?” Artie asks, rolling over to them. He looks up at Tina, who glances down at him and nods. “Yesterday I passed by the auditorium on my way to lunch and she was waist high in sheet music and talking to herself like a homeless person. She’s definitely off the deep end with this one.”

“You guys, she just wants us to win,” Quinn says, a bit of a whine creeping into her voice. “We could probably all do well to take a page out of her book.”

“She’s writing a book, too?” says Brittany, looking up from Santana’s shoulder. “Wow, she must be super smart.”

Just then, Rachel walks in the room, and all of them turn and greet her in unison, their voices nervously cheerful.

She stops in the doorway, looking suddenly nervous herself.

They stare at her, big smiles plastered to their faces.

“Hi Rachel,” Mercedes says cautiously. “How was your day?”

Rachel looks uneasily from Mercedes to Artie to Tina to Brittany and Santana, disarmed by their strange smiles.

She looks down at her outfit to make sure she hasn’t grown any weird appendages or is otherwise horrifying and strange looking.

“It was… good…” she says slowly, taking a hesitant step toward them.

Quinn walks over to her and loops her arm in Rachel’s. “Don’t mind them,” she says, pulling Rachel over to the chairs and taking her backpack, heavy with books. “They’re just covering for the fact that they’re slackers where Regionals are concerned.”

Realization dawns on Rachel’s face. She turns to everyone else. “I get it. I’m being insufferable, aren’t I?”

Mercedes smiles and draws up her eyebrows in a humbling grin. “We wouldn’t say… insufferable,” she says in a conciliatory way. “Maybe just… really really really really intense.”

Rachel plops down in the chair Quinn has offered her.

“I would say insufferable,” Santana pipes from the back row of chairs.

Quinn rolls her eyes.

“Maybe the operative word here is ‘suffer,’” Artie says, rolling closer to Rachel. “As in, you shouldn’t be making yourself suffer with all of this. We can’t afford to have our star performer give herself a heart attack the week before competition.”

“Yeah dude,” Puck says, leaning back across two chairs in the back row. “Hospitals suck and they’re germ factories. If you stroke out, don’t expect us to go there and serenade you back to health or whatever. We can’t afford to get sick and have to drop out too.”

“Nobody’s dropping out,” Quinn says, frowning and shooting him a scolding look. “And nobody’s having a heart attack. What everyone is trying to say, Rachel, is that they’re glad you’re so focused on bringing us to victory, they know you’re stressed about it and they’re there for you. Like I am.”

Rachel shoots her a lopsided grin and leans back in her chair, grateful for Quinn’s support, at least.

Mercedes raises and eyebrow and looks at Quinn. “That’s what we were trying to say?” she murmurs out of the corner of her mouth.

Quinn grins at her.

Moments later the grin falls off her face as she looks across the room to the doorway to see Finn gesturing at her and looking angry.

-------------------------------------------
ON TO PART 7

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I'm a bit confused with the timeline; in the last chapter you mentioned both regionals and sectionals, but in this one you have only mentioned regionals. Does that mean that Quinn is getting ready to have the baby?

Other than my slight confusion there I am continuing to enjoy this series and will be sad to see it end. And now I'm onto the next part :)

How COMPLETELY delightful it has been to get your real time comments to this piece, and what lovely comments they are. I'll go back and speak more specifically to the others at their pages, but I did want to note the timeline. I deliberately left it ambiguous with regard to Quinn having or not having the baby - that was secondary to me to the real story of what happens to your sense of personhood in abusive family systems, and that impact of loving and being loved. I said in a comment somewhere, I love hurt/comfort fic, and I think that's part of why. Anyway, I'm comfortable with my reader's projection of what happens with the baby. Re: timelines, it's five months from the start of the story to the end. Thanks thanks thanks for reading, and for being so attentive with your comments! <3

No thanks needed for the reviewing. I only wish I could have sat down and read it straight through, but I already was behind schedule on writing my weekly term paper. But hey, I still got both finished/accomplished, right? :)

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