Drizzle was sound asleep, oblivious to any of her mother’s feelings of current discontent, the blanket that Quinn had draped over the four month old shielding her from the sun. She figured it was the least she could offer the baby, some level of protection from something . If it had to be something as ridiculously banal as the sun? Well, so be it. Quinn had failed the infant in practically every possible way (including in the naming department), the least she could do was keep her sleeping for as long as possible. Quinn didn’t know how her visit would go, and if it went badly, she wanted the little girl to be blissfully unaware.
The house looked like it had junior year, when she and Finn had been happy together; and there were no babies without fathers around to care for; and her mother wasn’t in the bag every night; and, well, Finn was still alive. She tried not to think about that, but it was true.
Quinn didn’t think that she was justified in her grieving of Finn, truth be told. It had been made clear by nearly everyone, excepting Rachel and Mr. and Mrs. Hummel, that her romance with Finn had been a high school romance, nothing more.
But, Finn had been more to her. He had taken her in when she was alone, and he had made sure that she had a home , even if his desire to keep the baby she had been pregnant with had been more than a bit wearisome at the time. It had hurt when everyone -- even Puck -- had discounted those feelings.
Finn would have loved Drizzle, she thought bitterly to herself, walking up the driveway to the Hummels’ home. Quinn could see that there were people inside (she fervently hoped just the Hummels) as she made her way closer to the front door, a sadness to her steps that hadn’t even been seen when she was pregnant with Beth.
(It wasn’t hard for others to see what Quinn had been blinded to -- Puck had grown bored with her and the baby that was on the way in between deployments -- but Quinn had always been too stubborn for her own good.)
Quinn clutched the car seat’s handle tightly as she rang the doorbell at the house that had once been so familiar to her, hoping that there was someone home. Hoping that the person she was looking for still lived there, truth be told. It had been years since she had set foot in Lima. There was really nothing in the small, Ohio, town for her anymore, with the exception of her mother, and that was a person that Quinn didn’t choose to often dwell on. She had gotten out -- she had done everything that she had planned to do, that she had wanted to do, no, that she’d needed to do -- and had seen no purpose at all in coming back.
Without Finn, there had been no point. There had been no point in coming back to Lima and settling in for her career as a real estate agent and his career helping run the Hummel Tire and Lube, while they had their 2.5 kids and their house with the white picket fence. Not that he had ever thought she was serious about that. He’d always wanted better for her.
It was awkward being at the house that Finn had lived in with the little girl, knowing full well that she was never going to see her ex-boyfriend again, that there was going to come a point where she would have eventually lived more years with him as a memory, rather than him as a person. Lima was great like that. Full of things that most people would view fondly, but that Quinn viewed as personal attacks. It wasn’t like she had any right to miss Finn. Rachel was the one that he’d loved, even Quinn knew the wondrous story of how they were ‘endgame’. She’d been...nothing to him, a friend, maybe? Whatever. It didn’t matter. Rachel had married Jesse (Finn would have hated that), and it was no shock to anyone but herself that Noah had yet again moved on, conveniently after saddling her with another daughter. She had known better than to involve herself with Puck again and had done so anyways, perhaps out of some sort of delayed form of grieving.
Or maybe because she was just a stupid idiot who didn’t learn.
It had been stupid of Quinn to come here. She had realized that from the start, when she’d made the impulsive trip to Lima, baby in tow, that damn blanket draped over the little one. What had Finn called it? McGeeGee?
She’d say she could hardly remember, but that would be lying.
Finn hadn’t been willing to accept McGeeGee back from her -- he’d been insistent that it was Drizzle’s now, even if Quinn had given her up -- but there had been absolutely no way Quinn was sending something that had been from his father off to New York with baby Beth and Shelby . Finn might have wanted the baby to have it, but she refused to let it fall in Shelby’s clutches and run the risk of her well meaning ex-boyfriend suddenly having a parental related crisis of faith and needing it and...well, Quinn had already taken enough from Finn. She didn’t think that taking away one of the few things he’d had from his dad would have won her any brownie points.
She’d been lucky Mrs. Hudson was still speaking to her.
She wasn’t Mrs. Hudson now, though, was she? The last time Quinn had seen Mr. Hummel and Mrs. Hudson (on the television doing some press conference, never ever in person despite Rachel’s efforts to coax her and the baby out to New York for various gatherings), the older woman had been addressed as Mrs. Hummel. It wasn’t like Quinn could blame her. She wouldn’t want to be reminded constantly of her dead son and her dead husband. Carole had mentioned Finn, though, and it was the mention of Finn that had caused Quinn to be so impetuous as to just show up at the Hummels, baby in tow.
She rang the doorbell again, nerves coursing through her, and she lifted the edge of the baby blanket to see that (unlike her mother) the infant was sound asleep, drowsily sucking on her pacifier. Yes, little Drizzle seemed to not have a care in the world. Quinn envied her.
The door to the house swung open, revealing not Mrs. Hudson, but Mr…. Congressman ...Hummel, who was eying the unexpected visitors with confusion, not that Quinn could blame him. The last time she had seen either Burt or Carole was during Rachel’s stint in Funny Girl, where Quinn had been forced to make an embarrassing ass out of herself when Shelby and Beth had decided to come, and Rachel had decided not to warn her. Quinn had kindly set the incident aside under displays of grief , but it had certainly scared her away from any of the ...disasters Rachel had attempted to involve her in.
“Is Mrs. Hud mel in?” Quinn heard herself asking, managing to mostly correct herself to the correct name, hoping that Kurt’s dad would let it slide. “I was in the area, and I wanted her to meet…” She gestured to the covered carrier, where her daughter blissfully slept.
“Yeah, come in,” he said. “Carole? She’s in the kitchen. Do you--come on.”
Quinn wordlessly followed him down the hallway. She shifted the carrier to her other arm, making a concentrated effort to avoid looking at the photographs littering the walls, knowing that the life that she’d known would quickly stop (why wouldn’t it stop, it had been years?) and be replaced with photographs of the Hummels’ current life, which had no place for Finn in it and really had no place for her. She’d just been his screw up ex-girlfriend, after all, even though they had been friends she knew that Carole and Burt probably preferred Rachel, who hadn’t spent years avoiding everyone and who hadn’t blown off Finn’s memorial and who hadn’t managed to get herself in the same stupid situation she’d already been through with the same exact significant other. Finn was dead now and Quinn had nothing, just memories she couldn’t erase of the only guy that had ever treated her like she mattered.
Finn had loved his mom, though, so here she was.
Burt -- call me Burt, Quinn, Mr. Hummel is my dad -- was speaking out loud, possibly to her, but Quinn was barely able to force herself to even fake paying attention. She was solely focused on getting through the wall of memories, hoping not to catch a glimpse of quarterback and cheerio, or worse, seeing that there were no memories of Finn at all. Not that she wanted to think that Mrs. Hudson would do that, but this was the woman who had had one corner dedicated to her first husband’s memory (and then lied to Finn about how he died).
She didn’t blame her about the lying.
She lied to Beth all the time, now that she was allowed to see her again. She told her half truths about how much the young girl had been loved, how much her original (Quinn couldn’t bring herself to use biological because if Puck ever rolled back in town, that aspect of her tales would be proven false). How did you tell a child that she only existed because your then-boyfriend’s best friend got you drunk and ‘had his way with you’? It wasn’t a very romantic tale, and Quinn felt that interspersing her memories of FinnandBeth with the little bits of positive behavior Noah had ever showed either mother or daughter was an act of mercy.
Quinn was drawn out of her purposeful introspection when Burt stopped abruptly in the kitchen doorway. Carole was indeed in the kitchen, putting the finishing preparations on what looked to be the couple’s dinner. Quinn cringed. In the process of crossing the country with little Drizzle, she’d forgotten that people had actual lives. It was typical of her, wasn’t it? Burt crossed the threshold into the kitchen and started speaking to Carole in a quiet tone, gesturing at her and the baby (God how could she have been so stupid ?) as she made her best efforts to become invisible.
Her inner voice (which sounded worryingly like Finn and the fact that it sounded like Finn rather than a guardian angel with the tiniest bit of sense should have worried Quinn more than it did, but she was starting to think Finn had always had more sense than she’d ever had) told her that she was being ridiculous. This was Carole Hudson, who had taken Quinn in when she’d had nobody at all, and Burt Hummel, who had run for Congress on a whim because he thought the people he loved were being treated unfairly. They had always been perfectly nice to Quinn (nicer than she’d ever felt she had deserved, given what she’d done to Carole’s child), and it made sense that she would bring her baby to visit them.
“Mrs. Hudson,” she defaulted to, even though Carole hadn’t been Mrs. Hudson for years and Quinn knew this, it just felt right. “I’m sorry for bothering you, or not calling before I came.” While most people would have called before dragging a four month old across several state lines to meet ...whatever Carole was to the little girl, apparently such a decision was far to sane for Quinn. “I just wanted you to meet her.”
Quinn Fabray didn’t really do nervous, or display any feelings beyond prenaturally put together and the occasional display of self-righteousness, but if she was a person that did nervous, she would concede that the fact that her heart was racing and her palms were sweating was perhaps a sign of unease. Still, she persevered. She had almost made Carole a grandmother once and had treated the situation terribly , the least Quinn felt she could do was attempt to right her wrongs by letting her meet her newest error in judgment.
“Do you want to?” Her self confident (okay, her false bravado ) tone had slipped away, and she felt very much like she was the scared sophomore in high school, hiding behind Finn as he explained to his mother that Quinn had been kicked out because of him. Because of the baby. “I just...never mind. I shouldn’t have come.”
“Wait,” Carole said, and Quinn became aware that while she had been channeling inner voice Finn and rambling (high school aged Quinn was completely appalled), the older woman had been trying to speak to her. “Quinn, wait. It’s fine. Stay.”
“Sit,” she commanded. Quinn did so. “I’ll get you some coffee.”
The blanket that was draped over the sleeping baby looked familiar to Carole, but she didn’t want to press Quinn for more details on whether it was Finn’s baby blanket or not. Truthfully, Carole was feeling guilty. Quinn’s sudden appearance (coupled by the fact that approximately no one had heard from her, or at least it seemed that way) in Lima, and at her house, had thrown her for a loop. Her attempts to get Kurt to give her any updates on how Finn’s first love was faring over the years had clearly been even more pointless than she’d thought they’d been, given the state of the blonde that was sitting in front of her.
Hopelessly in love with Noah Puckerman? Carole recounted in her mind, trying to reconcile Kurt’s words with the presence of the young woman sitting across from her. Either Kurt was dreaming or she needed to have a discussion with him about what emotions meant and when stepping in on a friend’s behalf was acceptable -- perhaps roughly around the point where Quinn had found herself in this state.
“What’s her name?” She asked Quinn, feeling that the baby’s name was a safer topic than ‘what the hell were you thinking’, though she had to admit that that was coming up in their conversation, whether Quinn wanted to discuss it or not.
“Drizzle,” Quinn replied, looking over at the little one (still soundly asleep), her knuckles growing white as she clenched her mug. “I thought about naming her after Finn,” she continued. “It didn’t seem right, I mean. None of the names…” She sighed. “That’s what Finn wanted to name Beth. I thought it was fitting.”
Drizzle appeared to be stirring at the mention of her name, but quickly drifted back off to sleep, though not after Carole got a glimpse of brown eyes, blearily peering at them, before naptime was deemed more appropriate than social interaction.
There was something about Quinn’s comment that bothered Carole, though. Not the part about Beth, she had accepted that if Finn had been able to get over the little girl not being his and she’d accepted that Finn’s forgiveness meant that she’d have to forgive her too, and it made sense that Finn had picked a name for her. No, Carole was troubled by the fact that it hadn’t seemed right for Quinn to name little Drizzle after Finn. As if honoring him would have been improper . The thought that someone had convinced Quinn of that did not fill Carole Hudson-Hummel with happiness.
“I think it’s sweet,” she assured her, looking over at the baby, who was blissfully sucking on her pacifier, her little fists clutching at the blanket. “He would have loved her.”
It was true, Carole thought to herself, Finn would have loved the little girl that was currently sleeping on her kitchen table, regardless of whether she was named after him, or named Drizzle, or his child, or Noah Puckerman’s. He would have doted on the little one, and Carole knew that.
“He would have been mad at me,” Quinn said, shaking her head. “I was so stupid.”
“Quinn…” Carole trailed off. “You aren’t stupid. Finn wouldn’t think that you were. And…” She glanced briefly at little Drizzle. “Even if he was mad at you, he would have loved her. I know he would have.”
The blonde scoffed. “He probably loves her more than Puck does. That’s two for two.”
Oh, yes , Carole was going to let Kurt know just how disappointed she was in his attempts to glean information on the State of Quinn on her behalf. It was obvious to her that there had been no ‘hallowed love story for the ages’ between her and Noah, and the fact that Kurt thought there had been was troubling her. She pushed her justified irritation towards her stepson aside, and focused on Quinn. There was a baby to consider, after all.
Drizzle (sensing that she was the topic of conversation) had woken up, though she seemed momentarily content with surveying the surroundings, engrossed in her pacifier. Carole marvelled at the little girl, pangs of regrets of what might have been mostly abated by the very real presence of Quinn and the very real presence of Burt and the very real presence of little Drizzle, who seemed blissfully unaware of the room’s tension. There was very little of Noah Puckerman in the baby, she noticed. Drizzle (with her blonde hair and her brown eyes -- brown eyes that reminded Carole so much of Finn, even though she knew that that was impossible) was the spitting image of Quinn Fabray.
“I wanted you to meet her,” the blonde said. “I know that she’s not...I know that she’s not your problem, but…”
“It’s okay, Quinn,” Burt interjected, while Carole was about to say that the baby wasn’t a problem and that Quinn didn’t need to make up excuses for bringing her to see them, when Carole knew full well that the young woman probably had no one and probably felt that she did. “We’re happy to meet her. And to see you, which we haven’t done in awhile.”
“Everyone cared about Rachel,” Quinn said flatly. “No one thought to ask how I was doing, or even check with me if it was alright to invite Beth and Shelby to see that play . I understood that Rachel was grieving, but I was too.” She shook her head. “Rachel doesn’t get it,” she added. “How could she let Shelby bring Beth there, knowing that I was going to be there. Knowing that she had dragged the two of you to see her stupid opening night, leaving that seat open for Finn and letting you see just what you had lost.” She sighed. “Maybe Puck didn’t deserve a say in what happened to Beth, but I could have done better with Finn. Maybe he wouldn’t have died...maybe she would have gotten to know him.”
“I regret so much , Carole,” she continued. “And I feel that I can’t have those regrets because all everyone cared about was Rachel . Because why? She was his fiancee? She cheated on him with a gigolo .” Quinn shook her head. “Puck was the only one who even bothered to even pretend to contemplate my feelings. I thought that he loved me, that it would be enough, that he’d love her.”
The her in question is unmistakably baby Drizzle, who has taken to spitting the pacifier out and attempting to capture Burt’s attention with a series of drooly smiles. Burt smiles at the baby, giving Quinn a questioning gaze before the blonde nods her assent, and Carole watches him scoop the baby up, cradling her with ease. Quinn just looks exhausted. Not that Carole can blame her.
“I understand,” she told her, because if there was one thing Carole understood it was making poor romantic decisions due to grief, decisions she was lucky hadn’t ended up with her, Finn, and a squalling baby from some ill-fated, long gone, paramour. Like Darren, she thought to herself, who had managed to pull himself out of the recesses of her regrets by showing up to Finn’s funeral, all apologies and the girl from Pick and Save still on his arm.
“I tell Beth about Finn,” Quinn muttered. “I have to, otherwise all she has is the knowledge that her father hates her. Hates us.” She shook her head. “So I intersperse the good from Finn with the tolerable from Puck, and hope that she doesn’t put two and two together to make four.” She placed the mug on the table. “Drizzle won’t even have that.” Carole heard a quiet sniffle. “I’m sorry I tell Beth about Finn, I just...she needs to know that she was wanted. That someone loved her.”
“You don’t have to apologize.” Her tone is firm, and there is no room for Quinn to argue. Carole knows that Quinn hurt Finn when she had pretended that the baby was his for all those months (Carole knows that Quinn really didn’t see any other choice, and has forgiven her for her teenage indiscretions), but she knows that the reason he was so hurt was because he loved that baby. She knows that he kept the baby’s sonogram DVDs and she knows that he kept the things that he bought for the baby (she doesn’t know if Quinn knew that Finn bought things for the baby, it hadn’t been her place to tell, but maybe it was now, now that there was a new baby and Finn wasn’t there to tell her), they’re still in the room that was his, which Carole should make into a proper guest room but can’t bring herself to because she wishes Finn could come back just as much (probably more) as Quinn does. “It’s okay.”
“I wish Rachel had told me she was going to be there too,” she admitted. It was hard for Carole to admit that, but in the interest of being honest, she was going to. “It would have been nice to be warned.”
Rachel always had a flair for the dramatic, however, and Carole still didn’t have the emotional energy to broach the subject with her. She was sure it wouldn’t go well. Even now. Years after the fact.
“He was cheating on me,” she told her. “The entire time we were together. He seemed to think that I shouldn’t mind, or that I wouldn’t care. That I was my mother or something. I’m not. I’m not my mother, or my father, and I won’t subject Drizzle to wondering where her father is, or why he’s not coming home, or subject her to living in a home without love, where she’s forced into the role of the perfect daughter. You see where it got me.”
“I know,” Carole said. “I really am glad that you brought her to see us,” she offered.
When Burt had told her that Quinn Fabray was on their front doorstep with a baby in tow, she had been rather confused and leery about the entire thing, afraid that the baby was really a preschooler with Finn’s eyes and Quinn’s demeanor, and that the child had been hidden from them for years. She hadn’t expected the scene in front of her. But she supposed it made sense. Rachel had been the center of the Glee Club’s attention since Finn had passed away, and Quinn had been shoved to the side. Even Carole knew that, so what did that say about everyone else’s behavior? Nothing good.
“I thought of bringing her to see Finn,” Quinn admitted. “But I didn’t know...is that what you want?”
“You shouldn’t have to go alone,” she said, decisively. The cemetery was no place for Quinn to go on her own, no matter how sad it made Carole to visit. “I can take you.”
“You don’t think he’d hate it?”
“Of course not.” Truthfully? Carole didn’t know. But what Finn would have felt didn’t matter. At least, not for this.
The car ride to the cemetery was mostly silent, the silence that permeated Mrs. Hudson-Hummel’s car only broken up by Drizzle’s babbling, which seemed to be directed at something neither woman could see. Quinn didn’t really want to pay it much mind, Drizzle was a baby after all, but unfortunately for her semi-sanity, Brittany’s insistence that she and Drizzle were haunted by ‘a friendly ghost, not Casper but he’s still friendly’ was weighing on Quinn’s mind. She really did not cherish Brittany’s implications that Finn was electing to literally haunt her versus the permanent haunting he was doing in her mind, on a seemingly constant basis. Didn’t Finn have better things to do with his time than play mind tricks on her? Not to mention Brittany’s insistence that Finn the Friendly Ghost was a concept Quinn should adopt was not something she wanted the blonde to reveal to the general public. She was pretty sure that the majority of the Gleeks would consider Brittany’s proclamation to be tacky, and tasteless, rather than harmless.
Quinn had gently stressed this fact to Brittany, not wanting to hurt the one friend she felt she still had, but not wanting the blonde’s spirit crushed by an irate Hummel or Berry-St. James. Fortunately, the same innocence that led Brittany to believe that dead friends were ghosts; and that Santa Claus still lived in the North Pole; and that dressing up in a halo and wings had made Brittany an angel and of course Finn couldn’t possibly be one now that he’d died, he hadn’t been one in Rachel’s music video...well, it had led to Quinn getting her to pinky promise that Finn’s status would remain their little secret. Brittany had rationalized this by stating that Kurt and Rachel would be jealous that Finn had taken to haunting Drizzle, which left Quinn feeling more than a bit weary when she realized that her friend’s logic was worryingly sound.
She supposed -- if it was possibly for there to be such a thing, which Quinn knew it wasn’t -- it was nice of Finn to visit (not haunt) little Drizzle, who would probably be a more pleasant person to haunt than his ex-fiancee and step-brother. Already, little Drizzle showed more common sense and reason than the two. Plus she wasn’t married to Jesse St. James.
And of course Quinn knew that Rachel and Kurt would have rejected the competition for Finn’s affections, and she knew that in the battle of Finn’s affections, they would attempt to come out on top, even though they were competing with Brittany’s daydreams and Quinn’s unfortunately strong memory. And with a baby . She had not forgotten their actions while she was pregnant with Beth.
“Finn wanted me to give the blanket to Beth,” Quinn said, her voice shaking. “Even after he knew the truth. But, I couldn’t. His father gave that to him and if he had wanted it back and Shelby had said no...I had punished him enough.” She cleared her throat. “So, I kept it, in case. When I had Drizzle, and Puck left me, and I had no one , I decided that she could use it. That Finn...I think he would have wanted her to. But, you can have it back if you want.”
“I think she likes it,” Carole responded, peering into the rearview mirror as she drove, the twosome noticing how Drizzle held the blanket firmly in one hand, sucking the fingers on her other. “I wouldn’t take it from her.”
“Brittany thinks that he’s her guardian angel,” Quinn told her. “I think Finn would like that. If he was. You know?” Not quite the sentiment that Brittany had used, but Quinn benevolently wanted to spare Mrs. Hudson the whole...ghost conversation. Call it a kindness. “I wish he didn’t have to be.”
“I’m sorry. I try not to think about it.”
“You don’t have to be sorry,” Carole told her. “It’s fine for you to think about him, Quinn. I don’t know who convinced you that it wasn’t, but they were wrong. I promise.”
“Do you really think he would have loved her?”
“More than anything.”