As soon as she woke up, she knew.
She couldn't feel her legs.
"Why didn't you do it?"
A moment of pause. "Reasons you don't need to know."
"Anything to do with me?"
"Lying won't get you anywhere."
"I'm paralyzed now, Rachel. I don't need more lies."
She watched the clouds morphed into all kinds of weirdo shapes and managed a tiny smile on her face. Patients were walking around the park. Doctors and nurses were seen rushing around or accompanying the patients. She should have a nurse watching after herself. But she refused, insisting that she could manage it. Nurse Nancy finally agreed. What Quinn didn't know was that Nurse Nancy was just watching her from afar, still worried over the young girl's emotional and physical state.
"I hope you didn't blackmail Nurse Nancy in letting you come out alone without escort." Quinn twisted her neck to see who that voice belonged to, and saw Santana coming towards her clad in slim dark jeans and a light yellow blouse, her hair was pulled back into a ponytail.
Quinn smiled wider and nodded at the bench next to her. Santana sat down and watched her. "Where's Brittany?" Quinn asked finally.
The Latina wrinkled her nose. "Motocross practice," she stated and Quinn nodded. "She wanted to come, actually. It's just that her dad won't have it. I don't know what's wrong with him."
Quinn chuckled under her breath. "No worries. She can come later." Santana nodded. "Can you tell me why Rachel didn't marry Finn?" Santana watched her for a moment. Quinn didn't miss the sudden still of her body. She arched her brows in curiosity. "I didn't see the wedding band on Rachel's finger, so I figured they didn't get married. And she ran away the minute she said it's got something to do with me. And hasn't come back since."
"Yeah, she told me 'bout that." Santana nervously tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and pursed her lips. Quinn's curiosity was bouncing off the walls now because Santana Lopeznever gets nervous. A long moment of silence stretched out between them and the air seemed to have stilled. But it went back to work when Santana finally spoke. "They…they broke up, actually. And canceled the wedding."
The blonde was nonetheless shocked at this revelation. Because just a month ago, Rachel was insisting on marrying Finn, in spite of how Quinn and Kurt had tried to dissuade her from doing it so early. But to no avail. And now Santana's telling her that they broke up? Wow, newsflash. "So it takes me being paralyzed waist down to get her to not marry Finn Hudson?" Quinn finally exclaimed, disbelief so thick in her tone Santana almost thought she's furious. Which – quite frankly – she was.
"No!" Santana quickly said, stopping Quinn from getting too upset and further damage whatever part of a body that anger could damage. Santana swore by then she's never going to be a doctor. Ever. Or anything in the medical field. "No! They didn't break up because you were paralyzed waist down. And technically, you're not entirely paralyzed. Just for the moment."
Quinn glared at her friend. "Don't change the subject, Lopez."
"Finn...Finn was being a jerk. Like he always was. Apparently, he thought you were staging all of this when I got the call from the hospital – before Rachel said 'I do', thank God – and demanded that they get married before she came to see you. They had a pretty public and humiliating argument in the chapel – which I think is quite entertaining if it's not for me worrying about you and whether Rachel wants to get on with that stupid wedding or come along with us. She chose you, apparently," Santana said. "And they broke up while you were unconscious. Don't be sorry about this," Santana added when she saw the expression on Quinn's face.
"No," Quinn said, shaking her head slowly. And she finally grinned with a snicker. "I'm glad, actually. Really glad."
Silence seemed to be a popular thing between them recently because there was another one that stretched out for at least fifteen minutes. But in those fifteen minutes, Santana saw everything on Quinn's face and it finally dawned on her. As much as she wanted it to, it didn't gross her out. Not at all.
"You love her, don't you?" she finally asked the question that needed further clarification.
Quinn's hazel eyes met Santana's and as much as she's in love with Brittany, it took her breath away. And the pleading in those hazel pools was enough for her. "Don't tell her, please."
"So I'm guessing you don't want her to marry pyramid-nipples because you're in love with her and you don't want her to be with anyone but you," Santana assumed when they were back in her room.
"Part of it. A small part of it," Quinn revealed, gratefully taking the peeled orange from Santana. "I…Finn isn't worthy of her to throw away her future just to be his trophy wife. She has much ahead of her. And I just don't see her staying here and be nothing but the good wife. I see her on Gershwin; Broadway! I see her on that stage having her glamorous moment in Wicked or Les Mis or any other play that's suitable for her. I also see her making a fame of herself, going out into the industry and even get involved in Hollywood. She has so much potential and marrying Finn will ruin all of that."
Santana smirked and ate her own apple. "You've got it bad, Fabray. Bad." And while saying that, Santana shook her head.
"I regret nothing."
Rachel came in the next day. Finally. They avoided talking about the conversation between them four days ago in this very room. Instead, they talked about Glee club and McKinley and stuff. But not about the marriage or the fact that Quinn could no longer walk until she received physical therapy to help her regain control of her limbs. But Quinn brought the subject up.
"Could you help me ask Artie to come one day and teach the how exactly to use a wheelchair without getting your hand stuck in the wheels? That freakin' hurt," Quinn said, showing her swollen finger.
Rachel's eyes immediately filled with concern and she scooted closer to take a close look on Quinn's finger. The blonde couldn't help but smile at the feeling of Rachel holding her hand, even if it wasn't for non-platonic purposes. "Oh Quinn, what happened?" Rachel whispered, still holding her hand.
"Yeah, I kind of went to the park driving the damn wheelchair myself. And ended up getting my finger stuck in the wheel. Luckily, Santana was there to push me back to my room, which has eliminated the possibility of me getting another swollen finger. It's okay. It just kind of hurts and it itches. Bitch," Quinn scolded under her breath. "So can you ask Artie for me?"
The brunette stared at Quinn for quite a few moments before she sniffled and Quinn realized there were tears in Rachel's eyes. "Rachel, why are you crying?" Quinn asked, tilting her head to one side.
Rachel only squeezed Quinn's hand and finally let the tears pour down her face. "I…I am so so sorry," Rachel finally apologized in a squeak.
"What? What for?" Quinn said, panicking inside. Why was Rachel sorry?
She shook her head and turned back to look at the wheelchair by the door. "I shouldn't have texted you. I should've known you would've kept your promise and come. But I was so stupid and I texted you twice and then you had that damn car crash that made you ended up here and can't move your legs."
"Hey, hey," Quinn probed, taking Rachel's cheek in her hand. "Rachel, look at me." Rachel obeyed. "It's not your fault. I chose to reply. I chose to press that button. It has nothing to do with you. It's incredibly plausible of you to be worried at your own wedding. I mean, who would want their wedding to be a disaster, right?" Rachel shook her head and opened her mouth to say more but Quinn shushed her. "Will you…will you proceed to marry him if I would've made it to the wedding? Will you say 'I do' if I was there?" Quinn asked.
Their eyes stayed locked together and Rachel finally said, "I don't know."
Kurt came in an hour after Rachel left to go home and change. He smiled sympathetically at her and gave her the bouquet of flowers he got her. He looked around the hospital room and laughed humorlessly. "Well, at least this is a better room than the one Karofsky's in." Quinn laughed and motioned for him to sit down. He did. He leaned in to take her hand. "How you doing?" he asked her.
She decided that honesty was the best. "I've been better," she said with a smile. "But I think I'm really lucky that I managed to survive that thing."
He nodded along with her and squeezed her hand. "I see you've learned to be optimistic." She laughed again and inclined her head. "Well, that's good. Optimism often makes me people happier. So you should have known that my brother and my best friend didn't get married."
"Yes, and I am sorry to say that I am not sorry they didn't go through with the wedding," Quinn said with a grin. Kurt chuckled. He gave her a fist bump. "Why are you happy?" she asked him, frowning at the gay boy.
He leaned back in his chair. "Finn is a really great guy. He's a kind man, a helpful stepbrother and he's willing to learn at my dad's shop," Kurt said, picking his words carefully. "But he can also be very selfish, in terms of his relationship with Rachel. I know in my guts that if she had married Finn that day in the chapel, her life will be eternally ruined. But they didn't. I might act all sympathetic on the outside. But I'm telling you. I am very glad inside."
"Well, that makes two of us."
They laughed at that comment and sobered up. "We never really had a conversation like this before. I'm glad we're finally having one." She nodded, agreeing with him. "I also managed to sneak this in for you." He pulled out a packet from his bag and handed it to her. When she opened the bag, she nearly shrieked but didn't.
Instead she gasped. "Bacon!" she whispered conspiratorially, a grin lighting up her face. "Thank you so much! Rachel would never sneak these in for me."
"You should tell her."
She froze and kept her eyes on the bag. "Tell her what?" she said softly.
"You're in love with her," Kurt stated like it's a fact, which it was.
She took in a shuddering breath and gulped. "How did you find out?"
"I can see it. Despite your meanness towards her, you're in love with her. And I totally understand that you are trying to get rid of her from your mind by – yes – being mean to her. But alas, you find it harder and harder to be the bitch towards the girl that you are so deeply in love with you finally decided that you wanna be her friend instead of archrival." Kurt sighed. "And she really appreciates you as a friend. You mean something to her. Or else, you wouldn't be the first person to know that Finn asked her to marry him."
She chuckled deprecatingly and shook her head. "And you should know that's not gonna happen." He frowned in confusion. "I'd rather be her friend, supporting her from behind, than risking having my heart broken when she rejects me."
"Where did that Quinn who was willing to do everything to get the things she wanted go?" Kurt finally asked and Quinn thought about his words that night when she was lying on the bed, Rachel bent over her, sleeping peacefully. Yeah, where did that Quinn go? She asked herself.
Physical therapy was a painful process for her. Every time she went there and she did all those exercises – with Rachel accompanying – she felt like she's ready to be torn apart into pieces of flesh. Her sinews stretching out to the limit was killing her. Inside, every part of her was painful. But she went through with it. Because she knew, if she didn't, people would be so disappointed and she didn't want them to be disappointed. And when she occasionally broke down and cried, saying that she could never do it, Rachel was there. She whispered words of reassurance into her ears and revived Quinn's strength to get herself walking again.
And walk she did.
She still needed a cane. And sometimes, she still felt like it's too much. Occasionally, she would use the wheelchair. She's now the second most skilled in using wheelchair in New Directions. And oddly enough, they felt compelled to honor her for that by taking her to a skate park. She had a lot of fun that time. And she had never laughed that much before. At the end of the day, she's glad she had them as friends.
And she told them that before they went their separate ways. After she said it, they had another traditional group hug, this time with her in the middle. And Rachel was the closest to her. Quinn felt like soaring when she felt Rachel kissed her hair. Santana and Kurt winked at her before they walked away. She knew they saw it.
Rachel drove her home and wheeled her into the house. Judy Fabray came out from the kitchen, sober for once and helped Quinn to the bed. When they're done, Judy offered dinner. Rachel graciously accepted. After dinner, they popped in a movie and ended up falling asleep in each other's arms halfway through the movie. And Judy saw them together.
And she knew. She's also happy for her daughter.
Finn came to her after a few months she got out of the hospital and managed to walk with a cane without anyone helping her. She was kind of concerned he'd beat her up. But he said, "Can we talk in private? I've got something to say to you." She was hesitant at first. "We can talk in the cafeteria or wherever you want. I just want the two of us talk." She frowned. That didn't even make sense but she conceded, leading him to the economics classroom.
"I hope I can trust you enough not to hit me or kill me in here," she said when she turned to face him, sitting on the stool so as not to add more pressure onto her working legs.
"No, no, I'm not going to do that to you," Finn said, wiping his hands on his jeans nervously. "I just…I want to apologize." She raised her brows. "I know I've been the Jerk lately. I never made the effort to talk to you nor I have asked how you're doing. And then I thought it over last night, plus that thing Kurt said to me, and I realized I shouldn't have treated you that way. But I guess it's too late now I've lost Rachel and I know I'll never get her back. Not this time. I just hope it's not too late with you."
"What?" she said finally.
"I mean, as friends. Not as a couple. We wouldn't have work out anyway," he quickly corrected himself.
"You're damn right on that one," she said, nodding.
He stared at her and shoved his hands into his pockets. "So…does that mean you forgive me?"
"Yeah." She stood up and supported her weight on the cane. "Friends," she approached him and gave him his hand. He shook it and surprisingly to Quinn, pulled her into a hug. She smiled and hugged him back. She was just heading out to her next class when he stopped her. "Yes?"
"Rachel loves you," he blurted and she stared at him wide-eyed. "Everybody can see it, man. Only you two are oblivious to that."
"Why are you telling me this?"
"You guys deserve to be happy. And only being together will make you truly…happy."
"You're not offended?"
He smiled timidly at that and shrugged. "At first, I was. But then, it's love. Who can stop it from happening?"
She looked at him fully this time, seeing him for the first time and she smiled along with him. "Thank you."
Puck and Shelby came to see her, with Beth. And Beth could walk by then. She ran towards Quinn and yelled, "Quinnie! Quinnie! Quinnie!"
Quinn watched Beth climb into her lap with tears shining in her eyes and she broke into sobs when Beth kissed her cheek. Rachel was grinning from the entrance to the kitchen while Judy watched her own granddaughter reunite – indirectly – with her own daughter and she smiled. Quinn inhaled and exhaled and finally looked up at Puck.
"I taught her," he said with a smile. He ran his hand through his bald head. He finally cut that ridiculous excuse for a mohawk off. "I called Shelby and told her about you. I asked her to give you one more chance. And I taught Beth how to say your name."
Quinn choked back a laugh and wrapped her arms around Beth, kissing her hair and closing her eyes, reveling in the feeling of her own daughter in her arms. "Thank you."
She didn't notice Rachel walking over to her own birth mother and mouthing 'Thank you' to the older lady. Shelby smiled and nodded.
And all of them – including Shelby – played with Beth for the whole day until night arrived and it's time for Beth's bedtime. Puck and Shelby left and once again, Quinn was tucked in bed with Rachel. "Sometimes, I think you're here more than you're at home. I hope your fathers won't blame me."
"They understand." Rachel murmured with her head in the crook of Quinn's shoulder.
"Finn came to talk to me yesterday."
"What?" Rachel went to full alert and she sat upright. "Did he do anything?"
"No," Quinn said with a shake of her head. "Surprisingly enough, he apologized to me instead."
"He said sorry. And wanted us to be friends. I can see he's changed. And he also told me one thing."
"What was that?"
Quinn looked her in the eye and swallowed. "He said you love me."
Quinn noticed the falter in Rachel's eyes but the girl quickly went back to her normal self. "Well of course I do, you're my best friend!"
"No, he meant in a non-platonic way." Rachel stiffened and avoided looking into Quinn's eyes. Quinn wouldn't have it. "Is it true?"
"What if I said it was?"
Quinn couldn't be happier when she heard those words leave Rachel's mouth
Valedictorian. She smiled at the thought. She's a valedictorian of the graduate class. Nobody could be prouder than New Directions, especially Rachel. When her name was announced, she walked up the stage, still limping on her cane and she stood behind the microphone. People were staring at her, waiting for her speech. But all she needed there was her true friends in Glee club and also her family, including Beth who was now sitting on Shelby's lap and clapping her hands wildly.
She grinned and adjusted the microphone. She cleared her throat and surveyed the crowd once more.
"I didn't write a speech today. I didn't draft anything," she revealed with all honesty, seeing the shocked looks on everyone's faces. "It's graduation, people. When you wanna say something, you've got to say it from the heart. Not reading everything you've written on a piece of useless paper." She paused and smiled wider when she saw Rachel giving her a thumb up. "I've been through a pretty difficult high school life. I got pregnant." Gasps resounded among the crowd but Santana sneered at whoever that gasped. Quinn was thankful for that. "I became a rebel. I fall in love with a girl. I've been in a pretty terrible car crash that had me carrying this cane for the rest of my life." Mercedes was nodding encouragingly. "But I don't regret anything." Her voice cracked. "I gave birth to a perfect baby and she is now in the hands of a very responsible mother despite what she has done to her own years ago. Thank you, Shelby, for taking care of Beth for me." Shelby nodded in acknowledgement. "The girl I fall in love with is a wonderful person. She's kind. She's smart – apart from Calculus." Puck laughed aloud at that and received a lot shushes. Quinn laughed and shook her head. "Sometimes, she annoyingly talks a lot." The New Directions snickered while Rachel sent a playful glare at her. "But most of all, she's just this one tiny package of happiness and full-on surprises. And I love that about her. Glee club works internally because of her. She's the energy of Glee club. She's the source of life in Glee club."
"Hell yes she is!" Finn shouted, pumping his fist in the air and everybody laughed at him. Rachel gratefully hugged him and he kissed her on the cheek. But Quinn felt no jealousy. She trusted Rachel.
"I love you, Rachel. We love you!" she exclaimed.
"Yeah, we love you!" Artie said, joined by the others.
"This is the noisiest graduation ceremony I have ever seen," Will Schuester commented to his wife. Emma only grinned.
"And then we come to the car crash. I was actually going to Rachel's wedding with Finn that didn't really work out when that truck hit me. I don't blame anyone for it because I know there is always blessing in disguise. And I know via this car crash, that there are people out there in the world who care about me. That life is too short to miss out on anything you wanna have or see or do. When you want something, thrive for it. Don't just dream of it. Take that leap of faith. Just like I did with Rachel and with Yale. And look where we are today. We're ready to face the future. We're ready because we're taking that leap. Don't whine or cry when you fail. Climb back up and do it again. Artie's legs don't work. But look at him! He's going to LA for media studies! Brittany's kinda airy, but she managed a dancing scholarship, dudes! Santana's the bitch, but being bitchy got her into law school! Here's what I'm gonna say to you, doesn't matter if you're in a wheelchair or you have Down Syndrome or whatever flaw you have, do not give up. You're gonna succeed one day. And the only way you can succeed, is to believe in yourself. Here's to us!" She threw her hat in the air and everybody followed.
They cheered for everyone. Jocks were clapping nerds on their backs. Geeks were hugging the Cheerios. The cliques were mixed. And everybody was happy. And in the midst of falling hats, Quinn and Rachel found each other.
"I'm so proud of you," Rachel said, enveloping her arms around Quinn's neck.
Quinn brushed her nose against Rachel. "Here's to us, Rachel Berry."