The first time, she almost thinks it’s real.
Beth is four and she tells her Dad that with three fingers. Quinn giggles and grabs the little girl’s hand, wrapping her much bigger palm around and sticking up the girl’s pinky, then kisses her head. Beth moves in closer, clambering up into her mom’s lap.
Puck smiles down at her and sticks out his large hand to rub over the set of light brown curls, complete with bright red bow. Her outfit looks just like something Rachel Berry would wear, and Quinn can’t tell if that’s good or bad. Maybe she should stop letting Rachel near Beth -
And then Beth is somehow not in her arms, but safe. There’s some way she can tell, somehow, but it makes her heart ache and her arms feel too light. Puck is yelling, screaming at her, and he’s crying, asking her why, why, why.
And Quinn is crying because she doesn’t know the answer.
She falls asleep on the living room couch after a run, later in the summer. She should have expected it but -
Beth is running. She’s probably ten, and her hair is long and golden. Her eyes are just like Puck’s and she laughs like him, like life is just a ball of fun. She looks like a ball of fun, sunshine personified. And there’s Puck, standing at the end of a field, his arms outstretched.
She trips and falls.
Both Quinn and Puck rush forward to help their crying daughter, but she isn’t there when they get there. There’s just a stack of adoption papers, their signatures scrawled cleanly across them. Stark against the whiteness of the paper. The paper stark against the green grass.
Puck turns away.
Quinn walks away too, and she tells herself, forget him.
She does, when she hears a little girl laughing off in the distance, where she sees a playground. Rachel Berry is guiding Beth up the steps, while her...their mother stands watch. They’re laughing, happy, like a family. Like a monopoly set with pieces from all the wrong places, that don’t match, but somehow works.
Quinn wants to take her piece back.
She’s shaken awake by her mom, who is looking down at her with the closest thing to worry she can manage. Her mom’s clear grey eyes bother her too suddenly, and Quinn sets up and scoots back, blinking away the vision of the dream.
Before her mom can ask, Quinn is getting up and leaving, with a whispered, “I’m fine.”
Santana is teaching Beth how to punch. It seemed entirely useless and completely ridiculous when Santana had offered, but the way Beth smiled as a thirteen year-old as she rolled her wrists and popped her neck before squaring up to face the punching bag hanging from the ceiling in Santana and Brittany’s basement with focus was too appealing for Quinn to get her to stop.
“Sectionals tomorrow,” Brittany says in her ear, coming from nowhere.
Quinn has an immediate flashback of her water breaking right after coming off stage at regionals, and she gulps accordingly.
“Don’t worry, San’s got this,” Brittany whispers, and Quinn can’t tell if she means sectionals or teaching Beth how to punch. She’s showing the girl how to turn her wrist as she swings, and Quinn wonders where Puck has gone.
“Sam’s good, too,” Brittany adds. Quinn nods, thinking of the blonde boy who she had just had over that night. He was sweet and lovely, though a bit enthusiastic and sort of like a puppy -
“Are you good?”
Quinn watches Beth swing and hit the punching bag with a resounding thwack. It sets off an alarm.
She wakes up and hits her alarm clock to stop its noisiness, before she clutches her stomach. No baby to decide to come in the middle of her performance this time.
Quinn lays back for a moment and considers this.
She thinks of Beth, and the smile that spread on the baby’s face when Quinn had held her the first time. The only time.
She rolls over and sets the alarm back another hour, and goes back to sleep, where she’s waiting.“Hey, Lucy.”
"You used to be ugly, mom?”
“What’s it like...looking like you look?”
“So you hated yourself?”
“Will I be ugly too?”
“Would you like to sing a song with me?”
Quinn woke up and immediately rolled over, burying her head in the pillow as she immediately flashed back to the complete dread that took over her system when she heard Lauren say that name. She hadn’t heard it in so long, and now...
Now the entire school knew what she had been. Now her boyfriend knew, her ex-boyfriend, the father of her child, her best friends, her enemies...everyone.
She had come so far and lost so so much.
“I love myself.”
She whispered it for the second time that week, and it still didn’t quite ring true.
She rolled the other way and pulled her iPod toward her, and started up the recording of their song Rachel had given her.
I wish I could tie you up in my shoes...
She let Rachel sing her to sleep.
Finn is playing catch with Beth, but keeps dropping the ball (literally, and also figuratively) because he keeps looking over at Rachel. Over and over and over. Every time he looks over at Quinn he looks frightened, and he looks back to Rachel again.
Beth doesn’t seem to notice. Not that she would, because she’s seven and seven year-olds don’t have much of a care when they’re playing catch. She tosses the ball at Finn as hard as she can and ends up hitting him in the chest.
Rachel rushes forward as Finn kneels slowly to the ground, rubbing at his chest and wheezing. Beth takes a few steps forward, her big brown eyes shining with tears at having hurt her almost-dad. Quinn watches from the back porch as Rachel asks Finn a number of questions about whether he can’t breathe and blah blah blah, her hands running up and down his torso.
Beth sets her hand on Rachel’s when it stalls over Finn’s heart, and she giggles when Rachel looks over at her.
"Hi,” Quinn sees Beth whisper, and she feels anger ripping through her when Rachel smiles back, and lets go of Finn for a moment to reach for Beth, wrapping her in her arms.
Quinn bursts, and rushes down the steps of the porch and starts yelling. She doesn’t even know what she’s yelling, honestly, but it sounds like betrayal and loss and anger. Finn is gone somehow, and Rachel is just looking at her, plaintively, sympathetically.
Quinn hates it. She hates it so much.
“Beth,” Rachel whispers, and Quinn whirls to see her daugher running off into the distance, too far away for her to catch her. Crying. Afraid.
“You did this!” Quinn yells, whipping back around and sticking her finger in Rachel’s face in pure anger. She sees her hand rear back and aim but it doesn’t connect like it had that night -
And then she collapses to the ground in sobs, and she feels Rachel sinking down next to her.
Quinn wakes up with tears on her face, and with her hair still up in the bun from prom. She hates these dreams more than anything. She hates everything.
She hates life.
Quinn looks over at her prom photo, which should’ve been with her date, but was instead just her. Just her.
She felt so alone.
She spent the rest of her sleepless night looking up boarding schools in Boston.
New York is torture. Watching Rachel and Finn gallivant around like lovesick puppies. Her life, her life is so empty and no one even seems to notice.
After they lose, Quinn falls asleep between Santana and Brittany on one of the large mattresses, while Rachel sleeps in the far corner away from them.
Beth is standing in the center of Times Square, sixteen and grinning. She’s taking a picture of Rachel and some fan, laughing when the fan starts shaking when Rachel touches her. Quinn laughs too, and she sees Rachel’s eyes flicker to her and warmth explodes through her at the brief flash of chocolate brown eyes on her.
The fan thanks Beth, hugs Rachel one last time and bursts off to go rejoin her family as they wander around the center of the city. Rachel laughs and reaches for Beth, wrapping an arm around her waist and whispering something to her that makes both of them laugh uproariously.
Quinn feels too happy watching them.
“Let’s go home,” she hears Beth say, and for a moment, Quinn thinks she’s being ignored, that Beth is here with her mom, visiting her star half-sister in New York -
It breaks her heart.
And then Rachel reaches out her hand to Quinn, and Quinn sees the wedding band on her finger.
Quinn bolts up in bed, and causes Brittany to wake up too. Santana snores away, her hand slung low across Quinn’s waist and grasping Brittany’s sleep shirt. Brittany blinks at her sleepily, as Quinn looks to Rachel and then drops a hand to her stomach.
Brittany takes that in and somehow thinks of something to say that makes no sense at all.
“You can have it.”
And then Brittany lays back down, pulling Quinn with her. Quinn lies awake as she watches Brittany’s hand grasp Santana’s and lace their fingers together.
She can’t have it. Because it isn’t hers. She’s lost it.
Quinn dyes her hair pink and her mother won’t even look at her. The skanks don’t speak, they only smoke and threaten people. She doesn’t answer Rachel’s endless Facebook messaging, or Santana’s several messages, or Brittany’s candygrams.
She just, doesn’t care anymore. She just doesn’t care.
Beth still makes her heart freeze. And Quinn sees her from afar, this time, in a mall somewhere. The little girl is riding a train and she sees Quinn and waves, dashing away from She - her mom. Quinn hears Shelby shouting after her, but Beth is already toddling her way toward Quinn, gazing up at her hair.
“Can I touch?”
Quinn nods, kneeling down to the ground and letting her daughter, her loss, run her fingers through Quinn’s bubblegum pink hair. Shelby gets there seconds after Quinn closes her eyes and she feels tears gather.
“Who are you?” she hears little Beth ask, and before she knows it, Shelby is grabbing Beth and rushing away, looking back at Quinn, afraid.
Quinn steps backwards, then turns around, only to be met with Rachel Berry.
“You’re beautiful, Lucy,” she says, smiling her sympathetic little smile. “I miss you.”
Rachel steps forward, into Quinn’s space and reaches up to slide her fingers through Quinn’s hair. Quinn lets her, because it’s comforting and it’s warm, and that’s all Rachel seems to be good for besides annoying her to no end.
“I know you. But do you?”
Rachel kissed Quinn in on the cheek, and walked away.
Rachel comes looking for her when school starts. Quinn should’ve known. She ignores the way it makes her feel, like someone actually cares. Like someone actually knows her.
She doesn’t like it, and so she forgets about it as best she can.
“Why were you so mean to mommy?”
Beth is settled on Quinn’s lap, an overeager, overcurious four-year-old. Quinn’s eyes drift to Rachel, who’s asleep on the opposite end of the couch, her feet touching Quinn’s thigh. They’re warm and comforting while Beth’s question makes Quinn freeze up.
“Did she tell you that?” she asks back, and Beth shakes her head no, shifting once again into a more comfortable position. Her head ends up tucking under Quinn’s chin.
“Daddy did. But he said you loved her all along too. How can you love someone and be mean to them?”
Quinn sighs, looking over at Rachel again. This time Rachel’s eyes are open just the slightest bit, and Quinn knows she’s awake just by the way Rachel’s toes dig under Quinn’s thigh to get warm. She knows her so well. She’s always known her so well.
Before Quinn can answer, the scene changes and Quinn has no one. Beth is gone, without a trace, and Rachel is nowhere.
She always has nothing, sooner or later.
Quinn sits at her desk in English and glares at everyone who comes near her, until Rachel comes in and takes the seat without even asking.
She just lets her. What does it matter?
She falls asleep, because she can’t sleep at night, and something in the way Rachel is warm and just there makes her want to close her eyes and rest, for once.
“Momma, I’m coming!” Beth says, weaving in and out of clothes racks in the store. Quinn laughs at the girl’s hyperactivity.
Before she can get there though, Quinn sees Shelby rush through and grab Beth, and they disappear off into the distance. And there’s Rachel running after them, and Quinn just stands there. Because it’s done. It happened. It’s over.
Oh God, it’s over.
“Aren’t you going to go get her?” Rachel asks, quietly. “It doesn’t have to be over yet.”
Quinn starts to ask what Rachel means before she’s woken up by the real Rachel lightly shaking her.
“Welcome to the land of the living, Quinn,” Rachel says, smiling happily. “I took the liberty of copying notes down for you as it appeared you needed the sleep.”
Rachel slides over the notes, and stands up, looming over Quinn.
“Quinn, I hope you know, my offer to rejoin glee club still stands. Santana has, regrettably and considerably suddenly been banned from the club thanks to Mr. Schuester, and we could...we could most certainly use you. We miss you a great deal. I miss you a great deal.”
Rachel smiles weakly down at Quinn as Quinn schools her face into impassiveness.
“I wanted to tell you, also...I heard you mumbling in your sleep.”
Quinn shakes her head and starts grabbing her stuff, including the notes Rachel took, intent on ignoring Rachel.
“I know it’s none of my business, Quinn, but I want you to know that you have come so far, and you are so so sad, I can tell, and I want you to know, Quinn, that even though I can in no way replace what you gave up out of love, that I’m here for you. The real you, not this cotton candy hair nonsense. The girl who cries when people sing for her. The girl who sang with me. The mother who gave her daughter away. That girl.”
Quinn stares at Rachel, and she feels so many emotions in her heart because of one girl that she can barely stand. She wants to...she wants to kiss her.
She sits down, and Rachel smiles and nods, patting her hand for just a moment before she’s gone.
It’s a visceral loss and it feels just like all the rest.
“You can’t have me,” Beth says, looking just like her, standing at the same height and blinking with deep brown eyes that look just like Puck’s.
Rachel’s voice comes from behind her. Quinn doesn’t turn around.
“But you can try,” Beth whispers, and Quinn blinks, because she’s not sure what that means -
“I’ll help, Quinn,” Puck is suddenly there, grasping her hand. A tiny shock of something real that she only feels with Rachel shoots through her chest. “We can get her back. I never wanted to give her up in the first place. I don’t know why you did.”
“You have one hour!”
Her dad appears off in the corner of her eye, and she feels like a disappointment once again, the girl who could never please her dad. Lucy never made anyone happy.
Quinn couldn’t either.
“Just tell me. Is it true?”
Finn looks so disappointed.
Puck lets go of her. He looks heartbroken, for someone who just claimed love.
“You did this to me, you told Coach Sylvester about my summer surgery!”
“You’re like the Jolly Rancher that fell into the ash tray.”
“I’m pretty but I ain’t dumb.”
“Why are you being so mean?”
She’s just a disappointment.
“So don’t disappoint me.”
Beth smiles and holds out her hand.
“Come and get me, mom.”