A/N: This is a companion piece to my previous oneshot Scars. It's more therapeutic Faberry fanfiction! This one is in response to Dance With Somebody. Reading Scars is not exactly necessary, but it would certainly be helpful as there are references to it in here.
I took some leeway with regards to physical therapy. I tried to keep it vague enough. I went through some heavy PT once after surgery on one of my legs, but that's all I have to go on and it's not really comparable to learning how to walk again.
I also sincerely apologize if there is some ableism in here. I'm really just trying to get into Quinn's head I swear.
It's All the Glory That I Bear
Physical therapy hurts. It really hurts.
Her body aches for hours afterwards, and before her stiff, aching limbs can even attempt to recover, she's back at the outpatient rehab center for another session. It also typically leaves her in a sour mood, which she knows has not been very fair on her mother. On the plus side, it's keeping her fit. There's a little part of her that's relieved at that much. Quinn feels undesirable enough as is.
Joe accompanied her again today. She likes him well enough. He's sweet. He has values similar to her own. She enjoys talking with him. She thinks his dreadlocks are a little gross, but they do fit him well. Though if she really thinks about it, she likes the soft touch of hair. Sam had great hair before he cut it, she could curl her fingers in it. It made kissing him more enjoyable.
Quinn won't begrudge Joe of his dreadlocks though. Hair is a personal thing. How does that one Lady Gaga song go? 'I'm the spirit of my hair; it's all the glory that I bear…' She has changed her hair enough to understand. Brunette, blonde, pink. Long, short. Braids, bangs, ponytail. She likes how versatile her hair is. She wonders what it would be like to go back to brunette. She doesn't really want to though. It's just sometimes…
Sometimes she watches Rachel and admires how soft and thick her glossy hair looks. She wonders what kind of conditioner Rachel uses. She smiles to herself. It would be something vegan friendly. It smells nice she knows. She's gotten close enough the few times they've hugged. So no matter how strange the product may be, she definitely appreciates it. What she really wants is to run her fingers through it, to touch it and feel the silky strands underneath her fingers. Rachel wouldn't mind, she thinks.
That is, if their interactions hadn't been reduced to stolen glances, shy smiles, and the occasional greeting since Quinn had pulled Rachel onto her lap in the bathroom the other week. That minimal interaction was sustaining her for now. She could appreciate that Rachel needed space from her after that talk, and Quinn knows she's not the most impartial of persons when it comes to Rachel's relationships. That doesn't mean she doesn't feel the sting of some combination of desperation and rejection… If Rachel wanted to ignore their conversation, if Rachel wanted to talk about her and Joe… Fine.
"What are you humming?" Her therapist, Hannah, asks.
"Oh…um…" She didn't realize she had been humming the chorus of Hair until her therapist spoke. She tells herself constantly to stop thinking about Rachel. It never works. Everything always comes back to her. "It's a Lady Gaga song."
"My son loves Lady Gaga, but don't tell him I told you. He would be mortified if a pretty girl like you knew." Hannah has an easy smile and laugh lines around her eyes. Quinn quite likes her, even on those days where all she wants to do is scream at the woman for making her do one more rep. Her therapist always seemed to be able to pick up on her moods, and while quick with compliments, she pushes her hard.
"Quinn and I are in Glee Club together," Joe says. "She's a really good singer."
"Is that so? Quinn, you never told me that."
"I've had other things to worry about," Quinn says with effort as she completes yet another exercise. She levels a look at Joe, who kind of half-shrugs. She isn't even quite sure why him saying that bothered her. Glee isn't something she's ashamed of, but she has never liked sharing everything about herself to every person on the street.
"Hmmm, yes, I suppose you have," her therapist replies. "Alright, you're done with the worst for today! Quinn, was your mother unable to make it again? She really needs to know how to help you with these stretches for when you're at home. I'm going to have you do these more and more over the next couple of weeks."
"No, she had to go back to the office after dropping me off," Quinn says. Her mother had taken so much time off from work in the wake of her accident that she slips in extra hours everywhere she could. Judy had begun working at a local credit union after the very messy divorce from Russell. Turns out her mother had managed in business and accounting at college and worked at a bank prior to marrying. Thankfully, her mother's boss and workplace were very understanding of their predicament. "She promises she'll make it in this weekend."
"Very well. Joe would you like to take Quinn through those stretches again? I'm going to place a call in to your doctor about your progress. We might be starting work in the pool next time you come in."
Joe colors. He's obviously thinking about the other day. "If it's okay with you Quinn?"
Quinn wore sweatpants today. She gets it. He's 16. She's read enough literature to understand that, when it comes to teenaged boys, sometimes it just happens or it is set off by the smallest of triggers. In any case, Finn was an embarrassment of constant erections when they were dating, and God knows she's heard Puck talk about his hard-on for anything that moves since their freshman year. Plus there was that whole having a baby thing. So yeah, it's not like she isn't familiar with it. That's not to say it didn't make her a bit uncomfortable either, but Joe seemed upset and ashamed enough...
She's not going to lie to herself and say she isn't pleased on some scale that Joe finds her desirable. She talked to Artie a bit about this before their little argument at the skate park—about not feeling like a real person because her legs refuse to work. It didn't help when he said he still struggles with the idea that he has to live in a world made for people with two legs. It's not just her lack of ability to walk either; her torso and legs are riddled with surgical scars and marks from the accident. She wasn't lying or looking for a pity-party in the girl's bathroom that day. She can still feel all of their eyes on her as she wheeled herself out of the bathroom.
What hurt the most was that none of them followed her.
Part of that can be blamed on herself. She's pushed back every time she's had the energy (and then some) when any one of her friends has offered her their time, legs, or hands. Quinn hates it enough that she has needed her mother for most everything. She's held on to her pride as best as possible, and, for her, that means tackling as much as she can on her own. She doesn't want her friends to see her so physically broken, to see her struggle with the most basic of tasks. She just… She wants to be better and show them then. She doesn't want to be seen as less than what she once was. She may cry tears of frustration at night, she may have trouble with her locker, and she may have had to pee in a damn bedpan for nearly a month, but she has her pride. Still, none of them followed her…
What hurt the most was that Rachel didn't follow her. That Rachel was apparently so excited about the possibility of her and Joe… Quinn ignores the scream of frustration building in the back of her throat.
She has to stay away from Rachel as much as possible. She's going to lose it otherwise. But she can't stay away from Rachel. She can't not think about her. It would be so much easier if she could.
Joe is looking at her, waiting anxiously for a response. She realizes she holds the power to make or break his day. But he's sweet and good-looking in a pretty-boy hipster kind of way. Like she imagines a lot of guys in college might look if they play guitar and read poetry and aren't afraid to talk about the ups and downs of feminist theory. And he desires her…
Another part of her, the part of her with pride in herself screams in the back of her head. Yelling disgust at him and at her, for laughing it off, for telling him it was alright. It is not alright. Valuing herself by way of how a man can value her… Her pride shrieks. Rages.
Yet she can't shake Lucy's need that has remained with her all this time. The need to be wanted. Especially now, when she doesn't even feel like a proper woman.
So she says yes. And her pride fumes and spits fire, but is at least thankful for the sweatpants.
Hannah takes Joe through the stretches again and then watches him perform them twice before leaving her side. "I'll be right back," she promises with a smile.
"Just… Let me know if you do feel uncomfortable," Joe says hesitantly.
She sighs, but only a little, and then smiles. "You're fine. You don't make me uncomfortable."
Quinn does find his smile infectious, so she returns one of her own.
"You're so pretty," he whispers.
Quinn can't help the blush. "Stop," she teases, lightly hitting his arm. "We're supposed to be doing stretching."
"I'm being serious," he says. "You're pretty and you're so nice to me…"
"I haven't always been a nice person."
"But you are now! And you don't have to be. I mean, come on, you're Quinn Fabray."
"And you're Joe Hart. I don't see why that matters."
"You're being difficult on purpose. I talked with everyone, you know. I know all about you."
"They're a bunch of gossip queens," she says without any bite.
"I talked with Sam too."
"And what did you talk to Sam about?" she says lightly.
She can feel his mood change abruptly and see it in the way his eyebrows draw together. He's serious, weighing his words carefully. "About you. And what it means to be a Christian here and now. Today."
She arches an eyebrow, silent and waiting to see where he's going with this.
"You make me feel things Quinn! Things I haven't felt before. I don't know how to matchup what I want to do to you with what I believe as a Christian. But I want you. And Sam says its okay. That times are different and that how can us guys resist sex. That…um…being Christians shouldn't allow stop us from…you know…fucking."
Joe's words pour out in a rush except for the last sentence, which he trips ands stumbles over. It takes Quinn a moment to process them, and then blood is pounding in her ears.
"Get away from me," she hisses.
"I'm trying not to make a scene so will you please get away from me," she says slowly, enunciating each word carefully. Joe releases his hold and backs away from her table. Quinn sits up on her own, slipping on a mask of icy composure. "You want to fuck me? Is that what I'm hearing? Talked to Sam about how all you want is to fuck me? Is this…" Quinn chokes a disbelieving laugh. "Are you for real? Times are different now, but that doesn't mean I'm just going to spread my legs because you want me or because I did it once before. I barely know you Joe. You barely know me, but apparently because I'm pretty and nice, I should just lay back and be a tool for your dick."
"Quinn, no! I-I—"
"Fuck you Joe." She's never told anyone that before, but oh my god it's nice, especially when Joe sputters and staggers in response.
"Just let me explain. Please—"
"I think it's time for you to leave Joe," says a completely new voice, cutting through Joe's sputter.
Her champion comes in a dress, colorful coat, and ballerina flats. Her weapon of choice is not a sword or gun, but a plate of cookies.
"Quinn, really I—" Joe tries again, casting desperate looks between the two girls.
"You need to leave Joe before I call security to escort you from the premises for sexual and emotional harassment! I'm serious. Leave!" Rachel snaps.
Joe shoulders heave with a sigh. He sends one last forlorn look her way and then shuffles out of the room.
Rachel approaches her cautiously, shyly. Quinn's mind races, and adrenaline still pumps from the exchange with Joe. There's something else too… a stirring warmth in the pit of her gut for seeing Rachel so fierce and protective. She can fight her own battles, but… What is Rachel doing here? She's wary and hesitant, after this past week of distance, but it's Rachel. And that in and of itself, causes an unfathomable, inexplicable shot of happiness to shoot through her. No one else makes her feel so…
"Are you okay," Rachel asks tentatively. One hand helps cradle the plate of cookies in the crook of her arm while the other pushes a stray brunette lock over her ear. Quinn can't help but find the change from impassioned to nearly shy charming. She wants to lay back; all these feelings can go away if she just gets a moment. It's infuriating—how Rachel makes her lose her composure. It's like running one of Coach Sylvester's extreme obstacle course, trying to make her legs run faster, but she just can't go any faster. Yet despite her scrambling she reaches the end unscathed, victorious, and at the head of the pack.
Rachel makes her feel whether she wants to or not. She loves her for it. Quinn loves her for a lot of things.
"That better not be a plate of 'I'm Sorry Cookies,'" Quinn says, ignoring Rachel's question.
"How do you know about my 'I'm Sorry Cookies'? You've never been a recipient of such a culinary delight before!"
"They're the stuff of legend I guess."
"In any case, these are not 'I'm Sorry Cookies.' They are my 'You Mean A Whole Lot to Me Cookies,'" Rachel says matter-of-factly.
"What are you doing here?" Quinn says softly, eyes boring into Rachel's, trying to understand.
Rachel looks down to the ground, her cheeks coloring. She sets the plate on the therapy table next to hers, and then moves in closer.
Quinn can't help the hitch in her breath when Rachel takes her hand. She can't help the pounding of her heart to a whole different beat.
"After you left the bathroom the other day, I felt awful for not stopping you and for not telling you that I think you're being ridiculous about someone not being into you. I, for one, was surprised. I think we all were. Everyone assumed you were doing fine. It was stupid. I was stupid and ignorant before I helped you clean up from that slushy, and then I was...well… So I called up your mother to find out the where and when of your PT, baked up some cookies, and now I'm going to drive you home."
"I also wanted to apologize for being distant... I didn't make 'I'm Sorry Cookies' for this apology because I think you can appreciate that I needed time."
"Yeah well, I haven't been the most receptive to everyone else either. It was…" Quinn sighs, burying her face in her hands, suddenly ashamed. "It was easier with Joe. Till now. He may not be entirely innocent, but he's not necessarily a bad guy either..."
"Easier though? Why, Quinn? I'm your… I'm your friend. Everyone wants to help you. Santana's worried sick about you, and we're suddenly friends because we have something in common. That would be you, in case you didn't realize, but your intellect and ability to read nuances in conversations no doubt already led you to the that conclusion. And Brittany can't stop dreaming about the accident and you. I can go through everyone if you want Quinn, but I feel deviating into too many examples would diminish the impact of my point, which is simply that everyone cares about you. You've only really talked with Artie and Joe, and Artie told me you haven't been talking to him at all since senior skip day! All that bravado you had… Why won't you let us in? Why won't you let me in, Quinn?"
Trust Rachel to always hit her where it hurts the most. "Look at me Rachel. Look at me!" Quinn says bitterly.
"I am," Rachel says, "And I see a girl who needs to remember how beautiful and special she is right here."
Quinn's heart pounds harder as Rachel releases their handhold only to gently place that hand above her heart. The hand burns through her clothes, and Quinn is afraid that Rachel will be able to feel her heart racing. Her gaze travels from the hand to Rachel's eyes. She holds the stare, unable to look away, unable to say anything. So much has gotten lost in translation between them the past couple of years, and so much has been conveyed with heartbreaking honesty. Quinn can't bring herself to say the words, but she can tell Rachel as much as she can in a look.
I love you, you stupid girl.
"Oh Quinn, where did Joe disappear too?" Hannah comes bustling over to her table. Quinn misses Rachel's touch, their connection, as soon as the other girl draws back.
"Hello, I'm Rachel Berry," Rachel says politely offering her hand.
Her therapist smiles and acquiesces to the greeting. "Hello Rachel Berry. You can call me Hannah. Just Hannah."
"Hannah, would you please get me up to speed on Quinn's progress. I've been doing some research into the matter, and I would like to ensure that Quinn is getting the best possible care there is."
If Hannah's eyebrows were to raise any farther, they were going to disappear into her head. Her therapist shot a look at Quinn, "Only if it's okay with Quinn, and if you, Ms. Berry, let me finish up the stretches that I'm assuming Joe did not do?"
Quinn waves her hand in answer to both, feeling only slightly bad for unleashing Rachel Berry on her unprepared, unsuspecting therapist.
Rachel is still going strong when Hannah announces that they are done for the day. To her credit, her therapist just looks amused at Rachel's persistence. Hannah motions for one of the assistants to come help her down from the table. Rachel watches, hands on her hips and falling silent, as Hannah and the assistant lower her into her wheelchair.
Quinn thanks Hannah, and then turns toward Rachel with a smile as she starts rolling toward the door. "Come on Berry. You're my ride I guess."
Rachel grabs the plate of cookies. Before chasing after Quinn, she offers a cookie to Hannah. Her therapist laughs but declines, and Quinn just manages to hear her say, "I'm okay thank you. Besides, I think you made them specially for someone else."
Rachel ducks her head, and Quinn can't help her own blush at seeing Rachel's reaction. She rolls on toward the door, and Rachel catches up as she moves into the hallway.
"Would you mind if I pushed your chair?" Rachel says.
The idea of Rachel pushing her chair now feels so different from last week. In fact, the thought of it is kind of appealing. "Go ahead."
"Excellent!" Quinn may not be able to see Rachel's beaming smile in response, but she certainly can hear it in her voice. "I'll have you know that I looked up proper etiquette on how to push wheelchairs. I feel very confident in my abilities. Now if you would please hold the cookies…"
Quinn takes the plate from Rachel, securing it in her lap. "Rachel, there's no real wheelchair etiquette. Just try not to run me into things and we'll be fine."
"Nonsense Quinn. You just sit tight and I'll safely pilot us to my car. And eat as many of those cookies as you want. They are yours after all."
Quinn lets herself relax. This afternoon had been troublesome, and then… She's happy. With Rachel, who makes her heart pound and cheeks flush and she can't not think about. Joe was… She was using Joe as much as he was apparently using her. She wonders if she should have given him more of chance to explain, but just the thought of him talking to Sam about sex with her settles an angry pressure around her shoulders.
Quinn's not naïve. Sex is common part of life, but that doesn't mean she wants it trivialized and meaningless either. Certainly, when she's a little bit older, when she's not spending day after day just trying to figure out how to move her legs, maybe she wouldn't mind casual sex… For now though, she knows she wants there to be something more than physical between her and any future partner (except in those moments of weakness where she just wants to be wanted, and those moments are so painful). She likes to think it would be with someone who knows her, both the good and bad. Someone that is honest with her. Someone that she trusts. Someone that she respects and respects her in turn.
The truth of the matter is that Joe didn't respect her at all. That Joe was honest only to a certain point. That she didn't trust Joe with all that she is. That Joe doesn't know her.
Above all, she just wants someone that loves her and she loves in return. And there, Joe was doomed from the start. Because even though he was sweet and handsome in his own way, he's not Rachel Berry.
She looks over her shoulder. Rachel sees the movement and smiles down at her.
With just seeing that smile directed at her, Quinn is happy. There is no Joe or Finn or wheelchairs. There's just Quinn and Rachel. And a plate of cookies.
Quinn breaks off a piece as Rachel rolls her right outside and takes a bite. It's snickerdoodle and actually much better than she thought. It's also definitely not vegan, which probably surprises her most of all. She knows what vegan-friendly food tastes like (through one of Coach Sylvester's many diets), and that is certainly not it. "These are really good Rachel."
"I might have asked your mother what your favorite type was, and 'You Mean a Whole Lot to Me Cookies' only come in vegan if the recipient prefers vegan."
"I see," Quinn says. The phrase-name of the cookies echoes in her head. Hesitantly, scared of the answer, she whispers, "…Rachel, what are we doing?"
"Quinn," Rachel sighs her name. Silence hangs between them, interrupted only by the slide of her wheels against tarmac. "I… I realize I don't know how to get you into the car! This is awful planning on my part. Should I retrieve someone who will assist us? Oh but then how I will I get you back out? Maybe—"
"Rachel," she interrupts with a laugh, "it's fine. Just pull my wheelchair up to the door and I can do the rest."
"Oh, wow, okay."
"I'm not a complete invalid," Quinn says, keeping her tone light as Rachel opens the passenger door to her car. "Check it out."
Quinn wheels herself as close as possible. Double-checking to make sure the wheel locks are in place, she then lifts herself upper-body with ease, sliding out of the chair and into the seat of the car. It's only a slight disappointment that she has to physically lift her legs herself to get them in place.
Rachel is smiling brightly enough to rival the sun. "That's amazing!"
Instead of feeling jaded that it is amazing that she can do a simple task like getting into a car, Quinn smiles faintly in return. "I'll be looking forward to your response when I can manage to stand on two legs again then. Now it's your turn to be amazing. See if you can figure out how to fold up the wheel chair to fit in your trunk."
Folding the wheelchair is not at all intuitive, but Quinn only has to help her once. Soon enough they are on the road, and Quinn can't help the anxiety that settles in her chest. Its hard to breathe. Rachel's car is small. She's been okay in vehicles for the most part. Her mother drives an SUV. But Rachel's car is almost as small as hers was.
Quinn can feel Rachel's eyes on her when they draw to a stop at a red light. Then Rachel is fiddling with something on her console, and before the light turns green, the music turns up and Rachel sings. The song itself is not important, but hearing Rachel's voice is. Quinn's still nervous, but she can relax enough to make the drive bearable.
They make it to her home without any incident. Rachel was a very careful driver, but Quinn sighs in relief nevertheless as Rachel shifts the car into park.
"Do you remember much from the accident?" Rachel asks quietly as Quinn slides into the wheelchair.
"It's mostly a blur," she answers. She hesitates, uncertain if she should tell her anymore or not, but she catches Rachel looking at her with big brown eyes so Quinn continues, speaking softly as they make their way into the house. "I remember thinking that I was dying."
"Everything felt so muted, but all I could think was that I wouldn't make it there for you." Quinn wishes she could see Rachel's face. The other girl had walked in front of her to open the door with Quinn's keys and had continued forward into the home to switch on nearby lights. Now Rachel stands frozen with her back to her, shoulders drawn together tight. Quinn takes the plate of cookies on her lap, and places them on the table in the foyer before rolling forward.
Rachel whirls around just as she gets close enough to reach out and touch her. Tears shine in her eyes. "I'm so stupid," she exclaims, voice thick and broken. Then Rachel is in her lap again, much like she was the other week, head tucked underneath her chin and legs splayed out over one side of the chair. Quinn manages to keep herself to a quiet noise of discomfort at the sudden pressure against her body. But as she wraps her arms around Rachel's torso, keeping her secure against her own body, she knows she wouldn't change a thing.
"You're not stupid. If anything, I am for texting."
"No, I am," Rachel shudders in her arms. "I stayed with Finn all this time even though all I can ever think about is you!"
Quinn forgets to breathe for a second. "You…you mean that?"
Rachel's hands tighten around the collar of her shirt. "Finn and I are taking a break."
Quinn is quiet. One of her hands slides up Rachel's back, cupping the back of her neck. She rests her cheek against the top of Rachel's head, breathing in the clean scent of her hair. She can't help herself; her fingers snake into Rachel's hair. She takes in the soft touch, the press of Rachel's body against her, and just feels.
"What does that mean for…us?" Quinn says, whispering the last word. If she says it too loud, she's afraid it won't be real.
"I don't know," Rachel says honestly. "Quinn, I don't know."
"Do you love him?"
"He means a lot of things to me… But with him, I don't feel like myself. He's not the one I think about, he's not the one I dream about, and… I don't see him beside me, not anymore. Quinn," Rachel breathes her name, lifting her head up from underneath her chin. Rachel's eyes are large and bright and focused entirely on her.
"It's always been you Rachel. I just didn't realize it until too late."
"It's not too late."
Rachel kisses her. And it's everything she ever wanted and never knew she needed. In the soft press of lips, Quinn feels truly alive.
A/N: No smut still! What is wrong with me? In any case, I hope you guys enjoyed it and found it at least halfway believable. I hope I adequately explained Quinn's thought processes in this fic and why she was even considering Joe. If you made it through, thanks for reading!