“Quinn?” a voice called, knocking lightly on the door of the hospital room. Puck glanced back at it, not all that surprised to see Shelby standing in the doorway. She held Beth in her arms, and the sight made his stomach roll. He knew this was for the best, that he and Quinn wouldn’t be able to give Beth the life Shelby could. Not now, maybe not ever. But still… Signing the papers earlier that day had felt like a punch to the gut.
And the punches hadn’t stopped yet.
“She’s still asleep,” he said. Quinn hadn’t stirred in about an hour, and even Shelby’s voice hadn’t shaken her.
“Oh,” she replied, walking into the room a little more. “I wanted to return her for the night; visiting hours are about to end.”
“You’re not taking her home today? Wasn’t that the point of signing those papers?”
“You may have signed papers today, but she’s not mine yet,” Shelby replied. “It was different, with Rachel; they were her biological dads. There was no waiting period or anything. With Beth, there is. Besides, she hasn’t been cleared yet, same as Quinn.” She sat down in the nursing chair in the corner of the room, watching him watch Beth. She was beautiful, looked just like Quinn. He loved both of his girls so much, and he was still coming to terms with the fact they weren’t his girls.
“Oh,” was all he said to her, though.
“Noah, I do want this to be an open adoption. I want you to be able to see her, if that’s something you want, though there’ll need to be some ground rules. No one knows better than me what a forced separation can drive people to do. And that way there’s access to medical histories and just- anything you want to know about her, I’ll let you know,” she said.
“That sounds great and all, Ms. Corcoran, but I think that’s just going to make it harder. You’ve signed away your parental rights; you know what a blow that is. To say to this little girl you’ve been looking forward to that you can’t take care of her. Look at her. She’s two days old. She can eat and sleep and shit herself. That’s it . It’s supposed to be my job to burp her, and help her fall back asleep, and clean her up. Quinn and I are supposed to be the ones to take care of her,” Puck answered back. He hadn’t realized just how loud his voice had gotten until the silence cut through it all. Shelby wasn’t looking at him, only Beth.
“Biology isn’t the only way to make a family, Noah. I promise you, I will protect Beth the same way you would. And, if you and Quinn decide to come back when she’s a little older, I’m okay with that. We can talk that out when the time comes. But I think we’re all going to need some time to adjust to this. Finish out the school year. Start thinking about college. Then we’ll talk again, okay?” He looked at her, sitting in the chair, holding Beth perfectly. He’d almost banged Beth’s head against the side of that chair, and the diaper he’d changed yesterday while Quinn slept had taken almost ten minutes because he put it on backwards the first time and needed the nurse’s help to fix it.
Shelby wouldn’t need ten minutes to change a diaper. And she’d sing Beth to sleep, and wake up at three AM to feed her. She’d buy her cute clothes and dress her in them. She would be there when she rode her first bike, started school, had a bat mitzvah, started driving, went to college. She would do it better than he could. Hadn’t that been why Quinn hadn’t come to him in the first place? He wouldn’t make a good father. His own example was shit; why would he be any better?
“Okay,” he said. Shelby nodded, but didn’t smile like he’d thought she would.
“Maybe it’d be best if I just took Beth to the nursery,” she said.
“Goodbye, Noah. I’ll try and find Quinn tomorrow.” He nodded and turned back towards Quinn. He felt Shelby’s gaze linger for a moment, but then he heard her heels click across the tile as she left the room.
Quinn was still asleep, or at least, looked like she was. Considering how loud he’d gotten, he wondered if she was faking.
“Quinn?” he said. “You can open your eyes, if you’re awake.” Without skipping a beat, she opened them, and somehow, he found the strength to smile. “We’re making the right decision, right?”
“Yes,” she said, with less conviction then he’d expected from the girl who had first admitted she didn’t want to keep her. “Everything’s going to work out. For all of us.”
Matt’s parents had offered to let the glee club spend some of their spring break at their family’s lake cabin, which was a very nice gesture. The whole club wound up there, and everyone was having fun, even without any alcohol. He wasn’t sure who had been the one to insist it be a dry weekend, but he was grateful. He had stopped drinking around Sectionals, in an attempt to prove himself to Quinn. Plus, after she’d moved in, even the smell of his mom’s wine or beer with dinner made her feel sick. He hadn’t started again, as much as he felt like he needed it, and didn’t want to have to explain it to anyone. Besides, just holding a red Solo cup makes you blend in at parties, and makes everyone think you’re drinking.
Quinn herself had disappeared, again. He wasn’t all that surprised. Her due date was the next day, and even though she’d been back at school and putting on a brave face, he knew everything had to be hitting her hard. It was still hitting him hard, after all.
He left the tantalizing game of Monopoly to go use the bathroom. The door was shut but unlocked, so he opened it without even thinking of it.
Quinn stood there, a breast pump hooked up to her chest. He had seen one back in his researching baby care days, but had never expected to see Quinn with one. She glanced over when the door opened and jumped, and while she was still tense when she saw it was him, she seemed to relax slightly.
“What are you doing?” he asked with an almost morbid fascination, shutting the door behind him and locking it.
“It’s been three weeks, and my body has yet to accept that there’s no baby to feed, though there is less and less coming out, so it’s catching up. Just a lot slower than I thought it would.” He nodded. Quinn’s body would hold the effects of Beth longer, which he’d known, but actually seeing it surprised him.
“I’m sorry. That I got us into this. I shouldn’t have made you drink so much.”
“Puck, wine coolers have very little alcohol in them, and I had two, maybe three of them; I was barely even buzzed. And I wanted to have sex with you. And I made the decision to not get an abortion. And I-” she cut herself off, looking away from him and fiddling with the machine.
“Hey, no,” he said after a moment, realizing where she had been going. “That was not your fault. It was-- it is -- a shitty situation. Other than the cheating bit, none of this is your fault, and that was mine just as much as yours. Giving her up didn’t- it wasn’t wrong, okay?”
She nodded, then removed the contraption and pulled her shirt back down. Without giving her any warning, he strode across the bathroom and hugged her. She stiffened, but then soon wrapped her arms around him and cried. Her broken sobs tore at his heart, and he wouldn’t admit it to anyone but her, but he cried that night, too.
Mother’s Day fell the same day of the guys’ lacrosse state championships. He’d been trying to get Quinn to come watch him play all season, just to give her something to do. Between not being a Cheerio and glee not rehearsing, he had no idea what she was up to. She used to play lacrosse, too, since cheerleading nationals were so early in the year, but she’d been pregnant during tryouts. When she’d been pregnant, she’d talked about getting a job once the baby came, so maybe that was what she was up to.
Mother’s Day, though, he was sure she would barely even be leaving her room. He knew he was going to be a wreck come Father’s Day. He had not expected giving up Beth to hurt this badly until he met her, and even now, he could talk to her, if he wanted. Not right away, since Shelby had asked for that, but maybe soon.
He slammed his locker shut and tried to get invested in the team conversation. It mostly was about girls and sex. He’d loved these conversations before. Before. He now divided his life into before Beth, which lasted until the day he heard from Finn that Quinn was pregnant, and after Beth. Somehow, everything he was proudest of fell into ‘after.’
When he got onto the field, he heard the screaming increase. He glanced at the bleachers, and there was Quinn, a large sign in her hands with his number on it.
He still swears he played better that day then he had all season.
June was when their luck ran out. June was when they decided they didn’t work. June was when she went one way, and he went the other.
June was when Shelby moved to New York.
June was when Quinn resolved to earn her crown back.
June was when Puck got a vasectomy.
June was when they all resolved to go forward, and never look back.
But then, less than eighteen months later, Al Motta called.