I know, I know; you all hate me! I hate me, too.
After the completely amazing number of responses I had to the last chapter I had been hoping to get this one up much quicker, but also due to the responses, and a number of other things, it took longer than I had expected.
A lot of you told me you hated the Berry men - which, funnily enough, I wasn't expecting - and some even expressed anger towards Santana. The plan I initially had to this story would definitely make you hate them more, and I wasn't sure I could have put you through that. Also the more I thought about it, the more I didn't believe what I had planned, so I spent a while working out how to change it and make it believable, which took a while. On top of this I have had lots of university work and a major bout of writers' block to contend with. I am very sorry, and I promise the next chapter will not take so long!
It stayed that way for a while – the two Fabray women clutching each other tightly whilst the youngest sobbed on her mother's shoulder. Quinn didn't know how long they were stood that way, but eventually she had no more tears to cry. All she was left with was anger at Rachel's parents for having judged her so quickly, without even knowing her, and refusing to hear her out. They had decided they didn't like her and Quinn could see no plausible way of changing that, especially since they wouldn't listen to a word she had to say and had made it perfectly clear that she was to go nowhere near their house.
It only took a moment to dawn on Quinn that that had been exactly what she had done to Rachel their first year of High School – she had listened to other peoples' opinions, taken one look at the bunny rabbit sweater and the plaid skirt and deemed the girl a loser without ever even talking to her. Rachel had to endure two-and-a-half years of torture because of a snap judgement that the blonde made on the first day they crossed paths. She had to cope with these feelings running through Quinn's head – feelings of confusion, hurt, desperation, feelings of complete helplessness – every single day of her High School career because some girl, so desperate to become popular and make her parents proud, had been too ignorant to get to know her. All of a sudden, self-loathing joined the mixing pot of turbulent feelings that were overwhelming the young blonde.
Judy misinterpreted the lack of tears, though, seemingly thinking it meant that Quinn had calmed down. She stepped back, placing her hands on Quinn's biceps and held her at arm's length to observe her. She released one shoulder briefly so she could wipe the smudged mascara from under her daughter's eyes, but other than that just continued to watch her.
Judy saw the heartbreak cloud her youngest daughter's face and she felt her own heart fracture in response. The only time she had seen Quinn show this much emotion was a year ago when Russell Fabray stood mere metres from where they were now and disowned the then-pregnant young blonde, banishing her from her own home. It had been one of the reasons Judy had vowed to give up drink and put so much effort into researching, understanding and even defending Quinn's sexuality before she confronted Quinn about it. It was a look that she hoped more than anything that Quinn would never have to wear again.
It took all of the woman's strength not to fly forward, wrap her hurting daughter up in another hug and never let go, but they had more pressing matters now; she had to get Quinn to the hospital to be there by her girlfriend's side. It surprised her how easily that word settled with her, as if somewhere in the back of her mind she had always had the inkling that Quinn would eventually choose a female as her partner. On some level it made Judy more determined to protect and support her daughter, because it proved that if that feeling had been there all along, then so had Quinn's, and it was something that this person stood in front of her was exactly who she was meant to be.
Judy removed her hands from Quinn's arms and grabbed her discarded keys, heading for the door. It was only when she had it open and ready to cross the threshold that she turned around to notice Quinn was in exactly the same spot she had been left in.
"Come on darling, run and get changed so we can get to that hospital and find out what's happening with your Rachel."
"I can't." Quinn croaked, the crying having taken its toll on her voice.
"Of course you can, Quinnie! I know you're shaken by all of this, but getting to see her in the hospital will prove that she is going to be okay, that she is in capable hands that will do all they can to help her recover and show you have nothing to worry about." Judy comforted, walking back over to her daughter and stroking her cheek softly in an attempt to encourage her.
"No mom, you don't understand! I can't. Her fathers won't let me go near her" Quinn sighed, moving out of her mother's reach, knowing she didn't deserve her sympathy right now.
"Whyever not? That girl is your girlfriend; whatever reason could they have for keeping you away from the person you love?"
"I...You, you know I..?"
"Of course. I reasoned that you were coming home tonight to tell me about her, even though you expected I would, would force you to move out again, and I know you wouldn't do that for anything less than love." Judy stated matter-of-factly. Quinn bit her lip and cast her shining eyes to the ground, completely astounded that her mother had hit the nail so firmly on the head. "But don't change the subject, sweetheart; I want to know precisely why they are preventing you from seeing her so I can think of what to do about this."
"They're under the impression that Santana and I came up with a plan to humiliate Rachel and land her in that hospital bed. They think it's all our fault...they wouldn't be wrong either."
Judy was silent for a moment, watching Quinn's head hang in shame and fear and knowing that there must be more to this story than she originally thought. "...I think you might need to explain exactly what happened." She spoke in a soft tone to show Quinn that she wasn't about to accuse her of anything. She took hold of the girl's hand and led her into the lounge so they could sit down before she turned on the couch to face Quinn and wait for her to tell her what had been happening.
And so she did. Quinn explained everything, even going as far as to describe exactly what she had done to Rachel before glee club, before Beth and before she was free of answering to the crushing pressure of popularity. She could tell her mother was stunned by the levels of cruelty Quinn had resorted to, but she needed to make her understand why the Berry's had every right to react the way they had. She went on to tell her mother how all of those feelings of animosity towards the tiny diva changed and grew the minute she allowed herself to get to know Rachel. She told the woman how much she felt she had grown since her relationship with the diva began, and how the tiny girl had, without even knowing it, shown the blonde exactly what she wanted from the world and made it all seem so possible, so within her grasp.
Explaining the way the relationship grew, and how they decided to make it truly official, hurt. She described how It was at that point that Quinn had realised she could very easily lose Rachel when their plan ended if she didn't do something. It was at that point that she realised how much that would torture her, knew that it would haunt her all her life if she was too much of a coward to just take the leap and see where she landed, even if it didn't work out how she'd hoped, even if Rachel didn't catch her. Quinn described every emotion she grappled with, every realisation she faced on head first and her mother's eyes shone with sympathy because she knew where this story was going to end eventually.
She didn't have to wait long to hear more about that ending, though, because soon Quinn's face was twisting in pain and her eyes were glistening with suddenly-renewed tears as she told her mother exactly what had happened today. It broke her heart to tell her mother what she had seen mere hours ago. A small part of her still couldn't grasp the fact that all that had actually happened. But it had, and it had changed everything. Seeing the poor, fragile diva lying motionless on the ground, seeming absolutely tiny in comparison to the hulking jock kneeling beside her, and the aftermath at the hospital had been a turning point in Quinn's finally perfect life. It was a curveball that she felt maybe she was stupid not to expect.
"Why have you not told her the truth? Or why can't you go see her now and tell her?" Judy whispered when the silence between them had stretched over at least two minutes.
"Because it's pointless! Who is she going to believe? The men raised her, who wash her slushy stained clothes and wipe her tears away when she cries, or the girl who slushies her and makes her cry? There's nothing I can do to make her see differently." Quinn ran a hand through her hair, brushing it out of her eyes and letting out a deep sigh, accepting her fate. "Besides, once we got to the hospital I didn't get to see her again."
Judy hated this. She was watching her daughter give in and she absolutely hated every second of it. The woman loved and cared for both of her daughters equally, of course she did, but whilst the woman's eldest had complied easily with the decisions her father had made for her, never questioning, only following the path which was expected, Quinn had always been the strong, determined one that Judy just knew would break out of the chains she had been horn into – she had a baby at sixteen, entirely without the support of her parents and family for Christ sakes! But now she just seemed so out of her depth, so lost and Judy didn't know a single thing to do about it. She could practically hear the cogs turning in Quinn's head, twisting the memories, the feelings, the absolute facts that the blonde knew, with them and crushing them to dust over and over again until she could physically see the helplessness and self-depreciation consume her mind, leaving only terrifying questions and fears in their wake. Judy wanted to stop it. She had to stop it, but she was at a complete loss as to what to do. All she knew was that maybe everything would seem a little less hopeless when the dust settled, but she didn't know how to say that to Quinn, especially given her current state and their own turbulent history. Would she really take advice and opinions from a woman she had barely been able to call an acquaintance, never mind a mother, for the past seven months?
Well, there was only one way to find out, and Judy couldn't see any other choice.
"Quinn," she spoke in what she hoped was a soothing voice, placing her hand on the young blonde's back, "maybe you should speak to her when she gets home, that way her fathers will have calmed down some, and so will you."
Quinn was silent for a moment, ringing her hands and not looking at her mother. Maybe she was right; maybe all they needed was a little time. Maybe they weren't thinking straight – not that Quinn blamed them, she couldn't imagine how devastating it would be to find out your only child, your pride and joy, had been victim to such a horrible act of violence. If her overwhelming parental instincts to protect Beth when she was allowed those precious few moments with the baby were anything to go by, then what Quinn experienced at the knowledge of Rachel's attack probably couldn't compare. She may have vowed that she would protect the tiny brunette, but that was a vow made only a few months ago, and although it killed her to know she had failed, she knew it must be nothing compared to believing you have failed a seventeen-year-old one. That was another reason she couldn't begrudge the Berry's their actions – well, not too much, at least.
Giving them time to realise that there was no way of knowing that stupid boy had been planning this, or that there was nothing they could have done to stop him, allowing them space to regroup, get over the initial shock that sent them hurtling into fight or flight mode - only unfortunately taking out their fight on the wrong person - did seem like the most plausible idea right now. Running right back to the hospital and causing a scene, no matter how honest her intentions, would only make things worse for all parties involved.
"Plus I know how to climb into Rachel's room if they still don't let me see her." Quinn mused to herself, but suddenly she became more aware of the light pressure and heat on her back and remembered she wasn't sat alone. A deep flush covered her pale cheeks and her eyes widened. Judy felt the muscles under her hand tighten as Quinn froze and she couldn't contain her light chuckle.
"Don't worry, honey, I know what teenagers get up to. And besides, I can't really pretend that I don't know you're sexually active now, can I?"
Quinn's cheeks burned even brighter and her hands flew to cover her face as she murmured "oh god, oh god, oh god" over and over, into her palms. She felt she was about to die from embarrassment. For one thing, she and Rachel hadn't even had sex yet. She wanted to – god, did she want to! – but she knew that she had to give it time, make it special for Rachel, and that meant that they had to be officially together and not just bound by some plan. She had to wait until Rachel was ready to give herself fully, until she could see no hesitation in those beautiful chocolate eyes and know that she wanted to take that step.
For another thing, her mother talking about those things at all was uncomfortable for the simple fact that it was her mother! Sure, she couldn't exactly disguise the fact that she was no longer a virgin like a lot of people she knew were able to do with their parents – Santana, for example, which Quinn so did not get, especially since she and Brittany were so damn loud that even when they went on cheerleader camp and stayed in different cabins, she could hear every single thing – but she at least hoped that they could maintain the unspoken Fabray code to not mention things that could be embarrassing or taint the family name, and Quinn was sure this fell under both of those categories. She appreciated that her mother was trying to step out of the family box and talk about the taboo subjects, but really; did this have to be one?
Sensing that Quinn was feeling awkward about this conversation, Judy grinned to herself and rolled her eyes. She rubbed her daughter's back softly and leaned in closer so their shoulders were touching, hoping to offer more comfort. "Quinnie, why don't you go upstairs, take a shower and change out of those clothes. I'll make you something to eat and bring it up to your room."
"I'm not really that hungry." Quinn mumbled, knowing she wouldn't be able to eat anything after the emotional battle she had been fighting today. All she wanted was to sleep – to sleep and wake up in the morning with everything the way it was supposed to be, not like this.
"Honey, I know you're upset, but you need to eat something, even if it's just some toast. It'll make me feel a lot better if you do." Quinn really didn't have the effort to argue right now, so she just sighed and nodded her head as she stood from the couch. Judy stood with her, kissing her forehead before guiding her daughter to the bottom of the stairs.
Quinn didn't need it. She didn't need to be babied, she didn't need her mother treating her like she was about to shatter at any minute. She knew the woman was just looking out for her, but she didn't need all this. She wasn't the one who was hurt, she wasn't the one who had to be wheeled away on a stretcher; she was perfectly capable of walking on her own. She didn't say anything, though, just let it happen, because even if she was treating her like a china doll, Judy was trying, and only a few months, weeks, even days ago, that was more than she ever could have dreamed for. Her mother was finally on her side again and, even if it was slightly dulled by the painful emotions of the day, it was one of the most amazing feelings Quinn had experienced all year.
Judy watched Quinn climb the stairs before heading into the kitchen to prepare something for her daughter to eat, and most likely to get her own emotions on the situation in check. Quinn continued down the hall towards her bedroom, closing the door behind her as she reached it and stripping her clothes off as quickly as possible, trying not to catch her reflection in the mirror hung above her desk as she did so. She did not want to see the state her dress was in. Needles to say it was going to be thrown out straight away - burned maybe.
She slowly pulled away her underwear as she sloped towards her en-suite bathroom and stepped into the shower. The blonde didn't wait until the water was the right temperature for her, instead stood under the spray as it went from freezing to scalding hot and finally settled somewhere in the middle.
She needed to get clean. She needed wash any traces of the day – of Rachel's own blood – off of her skin. Pouring almost half the contents of a bottle of shower gel onto her cloth and began scrubbing her body spotless. She kept her eyes screwed tightly closed as not to see the water running down her body and swirling round the plughole mixed with the blood washing away from her hands, and turning a strange, diluted pink colour. Her eyes burned and a lump began to rise in her throat, but her eyes remained screwed tight and she breathed sharply out of her nose to try and calm the emotions.
No matter how calm she had been only minutes ago; it all came flooding back now, in the absence of a comforting touch or word. It made her feel pathetic. It made her feel useless, just as she had felt sat in that waiting room, biting her nails, unable to do a single thing for Rachel. The girl had taken the entirety of the beating herself, helpless and scared, as Quinn sat comfortably surrounded by the warmth and safety of the McKinley High School library.
If only she had left when Rachel did; If only she had agreed to go home with her and not wasted precious time worrying over her mother's reaction then Rachel would be sat, perfectly content, in her own room without a single scratch on her.
Quinn continued scrubbing at her hands and arms even after all traces of the red stain had been removed from her skin, because Rachel's fathers had been right, the attack was on Quinn's head, and every drop of blood Rachel shed was on her hands and deep down, on some level, they had all known that somehow it always would have been in the end, and not just because she had allowed Rachel to leave alone. They all knew this would happen, that this would be the result of all the flaunting and taunting eventually, and Quinn wished that she had never agreed to it, that she had stopped Santana from letting anyone else agree to it either because really, was it all worth it?
Sure Quinn got a taste of what true love is, and the experience helped her to truly find herself, but she lost all of that as easily as she had gained it (Lord Alfred Tennyson may have said it's better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all, but he was talking out of his ass as far as Quinn was concerned) and Rachel was stuck in a cold, clinical hospital room, all bruised and bandaged after being beaten unconscious by a homophobic oaf, and for what? For Kurt? He would never have wanted that, and he seemed happy where he was, even if he did miss them a little. Then for Santana? For all the bravado and pretence she created, she cared for every single glee club member (possibly with the exception of Finn – possibly) as if they were her own flesh and blood and this was by far the last thing the fiercely loyal ex-cheerio would ever have wished on any of them.
So that being said, what was the purpose? What was the need? They were naive to believe that everything would be a field of roses and there would be no painful repercussions for their actions. They lived in a small town in Ohio, for Christ sakes! This had been on the cards from the get go; they had just been too blind to read it.
As she watched the now-clean water swirl around the drain and disappear, Quinn wished yet again that she could take it all back. Sure, she would never have realised how incredible Rachel truly was – even beyond her talented vocal cords – and sure, she would never have known how perfectly they fit together, that they were almost made for each other, if she believed in such a thing, but if it meant that the brunette would be spending tonight in her own yellow-blanketed bed with her fluffy pink pillows and unbelievably comfy mattress, not hooked up to some scary machine, experiencing worse emotional and physical pain that a girl who gave birth to her boyfriend's best friend's baby, only to give her up, even after being forced from home to home could even dare bring herself to imagine, then surely it was the lesser of two evils.
The girl slid to the shower floor, as if the weight of the situation was pushing her there. The water still cascaded over her body and wet strands of blonde hair slipped easily through her fingers as her hands raked over her head. She sat there, a seventeen-year-old girl who had somehow already managed to ruin at least four lives of the people surrounding her. Everything would have been so much easier if she had stayed under her father's thumb and away from Finn Hudson and that damn glee club.
No. She couldn't be too negative. Her mother had been right, she could very easily turn this all around when Rachel was discharged from hospital and the Berry's were more relaxed. She could talk them round, make them see what really happened and promise them that she would do everything and anything in her power to stop this or anything like it from ever happening again.
She was going to make this right.
With that in mind, Quinn finally lifted herself from the ground, lathered her hair with shampoo and conditioner, rinsed herself clean and exited the shower. With one towel wrapped tightly around her body and another being rubbed over her dripping hair, she walked back into her bedroom to see that her mother had placed a tray with a glass of juice and two slices of buttered toast on her desk – yet another reminder that her mother was going to be there to support her through all of this.
The blonde glanced above the tray and caught her reflection in the mirror. This time she didn't try to avoid it, she stared into her own strong, hazel eyes with a renewed determination and confidence. There was no sense moping, it just wasted time. She was going to plan what she wanted to say to the men, to Rachel, and make sure that not a single word was out of place and in a few days, she would be right back at Rachel's side, offering her all the comfort and help she could possibly need and more.
Rachel groaned. Her head was almost physically pounding, her body ached all over, and the bright light stinging her closed lids discouraged her from opening her eyes and looking around at her surroundings. She tried to bring her right arm up to shield her eyes and go back to sleep, but it felt unusually heavy, and the barest amount she was able to move it shot a sharp pain through her bones.
"She's waking up."
"Don't move too much, sweetheart, you might rip your stitches."
"Hiram, pour her some water. Should we call the doctor in?"
Stitches? Why did she have stitches? And why was her daddy talking about doctors? With another groan, she willed her eyes open and was met first by a blinding white light, seemingly made worse by the white walls and sheets, and then by the concerned faces of her fathers leaning over her. She was in hospital, that was why her daddy had spoken about stitches and doctors; that much was clear, but she couldn't for the life of her remember what had landed her here. She couldn't remember a thing. Her head was just a hazy mess of confusion.
She scrunched her eyes, trying to think back to what the last thing she could remember was, but her mind ran a blank. The terror of not knowing, no matter how hard she tried to fight the cloud that had descended over her knowledge of the last she-didn't-even-know-how-long, was one of the most overwhelming feelings she had ever experienced. She couldn't stop the panic flooding her veins and her breath was coming short as she squeezed her eyes tighter and forced herself to remember what the hell was going on.
The two men sat by her side caught her hyperventilating and Leroy leaned forward to lay a soothing hand on her shoulder, rubbing his thumb softly over her hospital-gown covered skin. "Sunny, please; we've got you, you're alright. Just take calm breaths and we will get you anything you need." He spoke calmly but when the brunette opened her eyes again she could see the worry behind his gaze and knew that her being here was putting a lot of strain on the both of them. She nodded her head to appease him and accepted the plastic cup of water from a tired but relieved looking Hiram, gulping down the whole thing before she attempted to talk.
"I-I don't remember anything. Why am I here, what happened to me?" She croaked, looking desperately between the two men. Hiram sighed in sympathy, reaching his hand over to take his daughter's left one, offering support just as his husband was doing.
Doctor Lopez had mentioned that there was a chance this could happen. He had told both men to be prepared for the eventuality that Rachel could suffer from retrograde amnesia, a form of memory loss that was caused by not only head injuries but also as a brain's defence mechanism to traumatic events. Unfortunately the man had to explain to the worried parents that there was no telling how long the memory loss would last for, or even how far back it would reach.
Miguel urged them above all to be gentle when informing their daughter why she had been admitted into hospital. The events alone were enough to distress the young diva, but the fact that the girl would not remember them even after being told what had happened could cause her even more anxiety and frustration which was obviously something she could do without.
"What is the last thing you remember sweetheart?" Hiram coaxed softly, not wanting to push Rachel too much.
"Uhm, I, the last thing I properly remember is, is singing. I remember the Night of Neglect concert but then it's, it's like I've been asleep; there's nothing else there. I keep trying to see past it and I just, I can't." Rachel was growing hysterical, upset with herself that she couldn't remember anything past that point.
Leroy felt sick. She had always been a very theatrical girl, but he knew without a doubt that none of what Rachel was saying or doing was for dramatics. She was honestly terrified and it was killing him. Watching his little girl struggle like this was the most heartbreaking thing he had ever experienced, even above being disowned by his parents for coming out in collage. He felt helpless; after all, Doctor Lopez had told them that there was no medical way of recovering the lost memories, but that if they were to come back it would be from spontaneous recovery. She was going to have to cope with this feeling for an unidentified amount of time and all he was able to do was sit back and watch as she did so.
"It's Monday now baby girl, almost nine o'clock. They brought you in today because you were," Leroy paused taking a deep breath and preparing himself for what he was about to say, "attacked by a boy at your school for being gay. You were leaving late from school after glee club practice and he appeared to have followed you out to the parking lot. You suffered from a head injury which the doctors expect contributed to this memory loss, as well as a number of other injuries." Rachel stared at the man, dumfounded by the words he was saying.
Noticing that Leroy was struggling to continue, Hiram spoke up. "They want to keep you in for twenty-four hours to make sure that there are no further complications but after that you are free to come home with us. You're going to be perfectly fine, don't worry about a thing."
Rachel nodded numbly at the information. She had been attacked. Someone in her school had hated the idea of her being in a homosexual relationship so much that he had resorted to taking out his anger with physical force. Her immediate thought was that that the boy was Karofsky. After all he had shown the most volatile reaction to the relationship so far, and it was him that she, Santana and Quinn had been trying to get expelled.
Rachel didn't even take a second to think that they may have finally got the result they wanted – even if it wasn't quite the way they wanted it – all she could think about was her girlfriend. Why wasn't she there in the room? Was she upset by what had happened? Did she think the entire thing was her fault and was sat somewhere, alone, beating herself up about it?
Had Karofsky got her, t- No. Rachel refused to even think about that. She couldn't jump to those sorts of conclusions, not when there were so many other feasible reasons. She couldn't jump to the negative, it was just too painful to even consider. Maybe she had just popped out of the room to eat or get a drink. Her father had said it was late; maybe she needed coffee or something.
The brunette cleared her throat, hoping to seem calm when she asked the next question, but her heart was pounding rapidly. She was thankful that she wasn't hooked up to a heart monitor that would give her away. "Dad, where's Quinn? Is she here? I really need to see her, she'll be blaming herself for this and I need to make sure she knows none of it is her fault." A look flashed between the two Berry men across her bed that only lasted a few seconds at most, but she caught it and her eyes widened. Her throat was suddenly dry as fear took over. "Oh god, no. Please tell me she's okay, Daddy, please!"
She could no longer prevent herself from thinking the worst. The words that she had tried to stop forming in her mind sprang forward and there wasn't a single thing she could do to stop it. Had Quinn been there when Karofsky attacked her? Had she been attacked, too? Was she in a worse state than Rachel and that was why her fathers looked fretful when she mentioned her, because they didn't want to distress her and make her rip whatever stitches Leroy had previously mentioned? Was that why they were refusing to say anything now, even after she had asked? She needed to know.
"Please." She begged them again on a whisper, her voice laced with tears and her lip trembling as she waited for one of them to reply. Neither one of her fathers could meet her eye, and Rachel began shaking with sobs.
It upset both men more, seeing her react this way. She was more upset to think that Quinn had been hurt than to find out she had been beaten up and couldn't remember it. It was in that moment that they realised how badly Rachel had fallen for the other girl. In any other relationship Rachel had been in, she had always been her own number one concern, yet here she was putting her own pain on a back-burner to worry over Quinn's.
Rachel was in love, and it broke both men to know that it had all been for a lie. Another look shot between them as they both tried to calm their daughter without words. They hated lying to the girl, but maybe telling her the full truth wasn't in her best interest. Maybe if they made it seem as though there was another reason for them no longer being in a relationship, other than the fact it had all been set up to humiliate her, then they could save Rachel some pain.
Hiram took a deep breath and looked down to his daughter. "Rachel," he spoke sympathetically but firmly, "Quinn isn't coming. She wasn't hurt, but she isn't coming to see you. She says that it is too much of a risk to be with you now."
"What?" Rachel whimpered, heartbroken. She shook her head in confusion and looked between the two men. "No. No, that...she can't...she..."
"I'm sorry, Sunny." Leroy soothed, circling the girl in his arms and allowing her to sob into his chest as he watched his husband over her head and made a silent agreement.
This was for the best.