"Oh God, are you all stupid," Puck said, rising from his stool and stepping out in front of everyone else; his guitar hanging forgotten by his side. "Isn't it obvious? Quinn's got a bun in the oven."
His words were met with a stunned silence; it lasted until their gossip-fueled brains had processed the accusation and then came a rush of chatter.
"Oh my God," Kurt gushed. "Of course. How didn't I see it?"
"That does k-kind of make sense," Tina looked around at everyone else for confirmation.
Mercedes frowned, "But who's the baby-daddy?"
"Rachel Manhands." Everyone in the Choir room looked at Brittany. She nodded. "Uh huh, we saw them doing it last night. So obviously she's the daddy."
"Wait, back up," Mercedes insisted, about to burst with this even better development. "You saw Rachel and Quinn doing it last night?"
Santana rolled her eyes; as amusing as this was, she had to put up at least a token defense for her friend. "We didn't see them screwing or anything. They were just on a date."
Tina's eyes were wide. "Really?"
"But they hate each other," Mercedes reminded them all. "Like gale force a thousand hate."
Brittany nodded sagely. "It's the purple line." When everyone looked blank, she added, "Fine, don't believe me, but I still say Rachel Manhands is the baby-daddy."
"You do know that's not actually her name right?" Kurt asked condescendingly. "Her name's Rachel Berry."
"Nuh-uh, why else would we call her Manhands for short?"
"Because she's a tranny," Santana explained before getting back on topic. "So is Q really . . ."
She was cut off by Kurt, "Santana, that's extremely offensive."
"Oh please, you're just offended because you want her to be your boyfriend!"
Kurt went pale. "That's even more offensive!"
"So who is the Daddy?" Mercedes directed her question to Puck.
He shrugged, looking uncomfortable for a second, but before he could answer Rachel breezed into the room.
"Hello, everyone. I'm glad you are all here for my good news."
Mike was the only one who perked up at her entrance. "What good news?"
"I would like to inform you all that I am hereby returning to Glee club. It wasn't an easy decision to make but I feel, as I'm sure all of you do as well, that it is the best one for certain concerned members – meaning all of you, obviously – now . . ."
Her news was met with a stunned silence – which was to be expected, except she didn't seem to be the cause of it.
"I must say I was expecting a little more of a reaction."
"Sorry," Kurt shook his head, not looking in the least bit. "You've caught us at a monumental time. Glee club has just been rocked with its first big scandal."
"What is it?"
"Quinn's pregnant," Mercedes filled in, grinning as much as Kurt.
"And you're the Daddy," Brittany said. "Don't deny it, Santana and I know."
"I . . . what?"
She didn't know what to process first, the fact that Quinn's news was out or Brittany's ridiculous accusation. Obviously Quinn came first.
"Don't be silly, of course Quinn isn't pregnant. How could she be? She's president of the Celibacy Club."
"And I was a cub scout until I was twelve," Puck said. "And guess what? I broke all the club rules."
"Yes, but that's you. Quinn isn't like that."
"Look at the facts, Rachel," Kurt said. "She's been getting sick a lot, she has major mood swings, she's putting on weight . . ."
"She is not putting on weight!"
"Well she will be soon," Santana said and everyone else laughed.
"How can you be a part of this . . . of this . . . gossip-mongering?" Rachel asked her. "Aren't you supposed to be her friend?"
"Not as good a friend as you apparently."
"I don't know what you're talking about."
Brittany pointed at her, "Baby-daddy."
"Stop saying that! I am not . . . that's preposterous. How could I even . . .?"
"It's okay, Rachel. If you want to be a transvestite, we won't judge you for it," Brittany said solemnly. "But pretending the baby isn't yours? That's really low."
"Oh my God!" Rachel stood there slack-jawed until Puck's smirk caught the corner of her eye. She turned to him, pointing. "You know! Put an end to this right now!"
He held his hands out, "What am I supposed to know?"
She turned angrily back to the rest of them. "There is no baby, and if there was the rest of you aren't as stupid as Brittany to believe that I could possibly be . . ."
She didn't even know the mistake she had made until Santana was off of her stool and in her face.
"What did you just call her?"
"I . . . I . . ." Rachel looked around at the others but everyone who might have, possibly, on a benevolent day, come to her aid was much too scared of Santana to get involved. "I wasn't calling Brittany stupid, just her accusation."
"Didn't sound like it to me."
"I assure you . . ." She tried to back up a step to get out of the Santana Lopez danger zone but the girl stayed with her.
"Screw your assurance. What makes you so sure Q isn't pregnant anyway? You think you have one little date and suddenly you know everything about her?"
Rachel gasped, "We haven't been on a date."
"Oh, right, I forgot. It wasn't a date; you just want to be her friend."
Rachel shook her head, desperately trying to think of what Quinn would want her to say. "We're not exactly friends."
"No, Stubbles, you're not. You're nothing to her. She was just using you last night."
She should have let it go, Santana didn't know what she was talking about and Rachel didn't even know how she knew about last night, but she should have let her think what she wanted.
The comment hurt though, a lot, and instinct overrode commonsense.
"No, she wasn't! We had a wonderful time. You're just jealous because she chose to spend an evening with me instead of you!"
"Oh yeah, are you sure about that?"
Rachel kept her head high. "Yes!"
"So she wasn't just trying to seduce you into coming back to Glee because you coming back to Glee means her boyfriend can get a scholarship? A scholarship he's obviously going to need now that he went and knocked Quinn up?"
Rachel's mouth dropped open but the sudden cold feeling gripping her chest still made it difficult to do anything but breathe shallowly. Santana's sneering face was growing blurry and her voice sounded muffled, like she was speaking through a blanket, but Rachel could still hear her hammering in the final nail.
"Yeah, all falling into place now, isn't it, Treasure Trail?"
Rachel's mouth snapped shut with an angry click of her teeth and then she turned and ran from the Choir room.
Quinn was eating her lunch in a Math classroom with Finn, completely unaware of what was happening half a school away in the Choir room.
She sat across the desk from him as he filled in the paper work for some of the music scholarships Miss Pillsbury had suggested. It was probably a little early for this kind of thing, they were still only sophomores after all, but he was all fired up and enthusiastic about it and it was kind of cute how much effort he was putting in for her and the baby.
"Guitar doesn't have an 'e' on the end," she pointed out absently as she took a bite of her lettuce and tomato sandwich.
"Oh, right." He reached for the white-out for the eighth time. "So how did you convince Rachel to come back?"
It wasn't the first time he'd asked. She was starting to get suspicious of his suspiciousness.
"I told you, I just asked her."
"So you weren't, like, mean to her or anything?"
"No, I was the opposite of mean. We went bowling, we had fun, and then I asked her. She was more than happy to say yes."
Quinn rolled her eyes and set her sandwich down. It wasn't helping; she wanted a bacon double cheeseburger!
"Does it matter? I didn't threaten her. I didn't force her to agree. She made up her own mind. Can't we just count ourselves lucky?"
"Musical is 'cal' not 'cel'."
"Damn!" Finn reached for the white-out again.
Quinn dipped her head so that her nose landed in the cashmere scarf and breathed in slowly. It only half helped, as in it soothed the nausea and the annoyance she was feeling, but instantly brought back the feeling of Rachel's soft lips on her ear and her eyes slipped closed at the memory.
She couldn't believe that had happened! Talk about crossing a line. She should have been angrier, but instead she'd just let Berry get away with it. She'd even told her it was okay.
It wasn't okay!
Still, she didn't lift her face from the scarf, letting the memory churn through her insides until Finn's voice startled her.
"Okay, I'm done."
She looked up to see him signing his name at the bottom of the last application.
If it was her she wouldn't have tried to fill in three applications in a single lunch hour. She'd have taken them home and spent at least a week reading through each and every question, drafting out each answer before filling them in, but she was glad Finn had gotten them out of the way so quickly. It meant she could stop thinking about them and what she'd had to do to make them a viable option.
"Okay, take them to Miss Pillsbury sometime this afternoon so she can send them off."
Finn nodded and then looked at her discarded sandwich. "Are you finishing that?"
She kept her eye roll on the inside.
'No, that's fine, Finn, take your pregnant girlfriend's lunch.'
It wasn't like she really wanted it though so, despite her irritation, she pushed the sandwich towards him.
Rachel would never do that.
Lunch hadn't quite ended, the bell was yet to ring, so the halls were still pretty full of students hanging out and going to their lockers. Quinn paid them no mind as she walked through heading for her fifth period class, books held securely in her arms and her nose buried in the scarf she'd pulled up over her chin. Figgins hadn't turned the heat on yet so the air was just cool enough to let her get away with it without comment.
She was almost at the classroom door when she heard her name shouted. She turned automatically even though she recognized the voice as Berry's. She sounded angry.
Rachel marched up to her. "I should slap you!"
Quinn was completely confused but it didn't stop her eyes from narrowing dangerously. "Try it, see what it gets you."
"How dare you use me like that?"
"Use you like what, Stubbles?"
The nickname came easy; after all they were in the middle of the hall surrounded by gawping kids.
Rachel fumed quietly for a second and then stormed into the classroom Quinn had been heading for anyway. Quinn followed her, purely out of curiosity. Thankfully it was still empty.
"What is your problem?"
"I think I should be asking you that! But before I do, and goodness knows why I feel the need to forewarn you right now, but you should know that everyone in Glee knows."
"That you're pregnant."
Quinn looked around even though she knew they were alone. "You told them!" she hissed. "You little . . ."
"Of course I didn't! I walked in on a conversation about it in the Choir room."
"Oh God." She sank down into the nearest chair. "What were they saying?"
"Primarily? That I am the father of your unborn child."
"What the fuck?"
Despite Quinn's angry outburst, Berry just shook her head mildly.
"My thoughts exactly. It came from Brittany apparently, but even though the others know it's ludicrous, my insulting Brittany for making such a statement angered Santana and now no one is going to disagree with her."
Quinn buried her head in her hands, "You insulted Brittany?"
"I didn't mean to, I was just shocked. Santana took offense however."
Quinn looked up. "Are you okay? Did she hurt you?"
"No I'm not okay and yes she hurt me. How could you do that? I know we're not really friends but I've been nothing but nice to you! I've done all I can to support you and you . . . you . . ."
"What did I do?"
"Don't play stupid!" Quinn bristled but Rachel hadn't finished. "You used me to get Finn a scholarship! That's why you really wanted me to come back to Glee, isn't it? Not because you missed me or because you wanted to be friends. It was all about Finn."
Quinn looked down, fists balling on top of the desk and only afterwards realized it had blown her chance to lie. She had no choice but to come clean and hope that Rachel understood.
She looked the girl in the eye. "Yes."
"How could you do that?"
"Why wouldn't I?" Quinn stood up again. "I needed something; you were my only way of getting it. This isn't about you, Rachel, it's about my baby. I'm sorry if you think . . .!"
"You're not sorry! Don't even pretend like you care!"
"You're right, I don't care." She shouldn't care. "You'd have come back to Glee eventually, and you know it. So I made it happen a little sooner. What's the big deal? You had a good time last night didn't you? You got something out of it too."
Rachel's voice was loud and shaky. "That's not the point!"
"Then what is the point?"
"You could have been honest. You could have just asked me! Instead of leading me on, making me think we were friends or . . . or something!"
"Oh and if I'd come to you and said 'hey, Rachel, I need you to quit the musical and come back to Glee so my boyfriend' – who you were so jealous of Friday night – 'can get a scholarship' you'd have done it?"
"Yes!" A tear slipped down Rachel's cheek. "If you'd asked me I would have done it!"
A few beats of silence passed. Quinn felt the familiar sting in her own eyes as she heard the sincerity in Rachel's voice.
"Really?" she asked softly, still finding it hard to believe.
Why would anyone do that for her? Why would Rachel do that for her? Why was this annoying, unpopular, outcast of a girl suddenly the answer to all her problems? And more importantly, why was Quinn suddenly okay with that?
She took a step forward, planning to – needing to – give her another hug. "Thank you."
Rachel stepped back, holding a hand up. "No. If you'd asked me before I would have. If you'd been honest about your intentions on our . . . night out, I would have."
"What are you saying?"
"I'm saying that because my promise was made under false pretenses I no longer feel it necessary to honor it."
"You're not coming back?"
Rachel's lips were pressed in a thin line as she gave a tight nod and Quinn's anger took over and when that happened, with the yelling the plotting came easy.
"Fine! But you know what? You're losing out too. If you just come back and play along with this we can at least be friends for a few weeks! I can tell Santana I fed you more bullshit and you believed it. She won't question us spending time together then because she knows I'm just being nice so that you'll do what I want. It'll even give us a free pass for more dates, uh, you know, friend-dates like last night, because Santana already knows I go all out to get what I want, and I seem to remember you drunkenly slurring something about dinner and a movie." She gave her a quick smile. "So it'll be fun, right? But it'll only work if you come back to Glee, Rachel, so you have to come back."
Why was Rachel just staring at her like she'd grown a second nose on her face?
"What? It's perfect. Win-win."
"No, Quinn, only you win! You get exactly what you want and I get to look like a simpering idiot to everyone else in Glee. I can't believe you expect me to give you my blessing to use me. You may rule over everyone else in this school but I am not laying myself across a muddy puddle just so you won't get your feet dirty."
"You're not using me again!" Rachel yelled. "With or without me having prior knowledge of your intentions."
"That's not what I'm doing, Berry!"
"Sorry, I forgot about the sympathy dates you offered in return for my compliance. You can keep them, Quinn. I don't want a sympathy date, or a friend date or any kind of fake date with you."
"Well, it's not like I can take you on a real date is it?" she fumed. "I think my boyfriend might disapprove."
"Then I guess you were lying again a minute ago because you clearly are not prepared to go all out to get what you want. Stop gaping at me, Quinn, that wasn't me making a demand in exchange for the use of my talent; I was merely making a point. And even if you did ask, I wouldn't accept. And I'm not coming back to Glee so you had better go and offer your fake friendship to April Rhodes in the hope that she sticks around and doesn't die of old age before Finn gets his scholarship approved."
Spinning on her heel, Rachel – with perfect timing as usual – stormed from the room just as the other students started to filter in.
Oblivious to the fact she was standing in the way, Quinn stared after with her hands out in supplication. "What the hell just happened?"
You got your butt handed to you by Rachel Berry.
'Why? My plan is perfect. We get to spend time together, isn't that what she wants? She was kissing my ear just a few hours ago; she can't really be over me yet, can she? I practically asked her out, doesn't that count for anything?'
You might have told her it would all be a lie to get what you want.
'No, I said it would look like a lie to get what I want.'
Maybe she missed that part.
"Miss Fabray!" She jumped at the sound of the teacher's voice; she'd completely forgotten where she was. "As you seem to want to stand up the entire lesson you may go and stand in the corner and think about why the classroom is not an appropriate place for foul language."
"Are you kidding? We're in high school!"
The teacher just pointed to where he wanted her. Barely restrained chuckles drowned out her embarrassed huff as she made her way over to the far wall.
She couldn't believe she'd just been sent to the naughty corner! She couldn't believe she'd been sent to the naughty corner because she'd been spacing out over why Rachel-freaking-Berry wouldn't go on a date with her.
As soon as Quinn saw Santana at her locker after school she charged over, catching her friend unawares and pushing her into the metal wall.
"Hey!" Santana swung around; fists already up, until she saw who it was. She settled back and crossed her arms instead. "Sure you should be rough-housing in your condition, Q?"
"What did you say to Berry?"
"She had it coming."
"You had no right to tell her what I told you!"
"What does it matter if you broke her little heart or me? Result's the same, right?"
"You knew we had to wait until she had no choice but Glee. Now she's not going to come back."
Quinn shoved her again.
Santana bounced off of the lockers. "Seriously bitch, you do that again I'm not gonna care how many babies you're cooking in there!"
"You ruined everything!"
"Oh boo hoo! She insulted Brittany – your friend. Stubbles had it coming. She's lucky I didn't knock her teeth down her throat."
Quinn took a step back, rubbing a hand over her forehead. Santana was right, she didn't let anyone insult Brittany either and she'd been pissed when Berry had mentioned it, but Santana had messed everything up!
"I need Rachel back in Glee and that's never going to happen now."
"Sure it is," Santana smirked. "She was seriously defending you earlier, and not just in a friendly way. Give her a flash of your spanks tonight and she'll be back in Glee before sun up."
Quinn went hot all over at the idea. "Don't be so . . ." She had to swallow hard to get the words out. "That's disgusting!"
"Not gonna find me disagreeing, but if you want what you want . . ." Santana walked off without waiting for a reply.
Quinn slammed her hand against the lockers.
Rachel wasn't in Glee that afternoon.
Finn looked crestfallen that their plan had fallen through. Quinn just felt . . . something worse.
She lasted for ten minutes of the not-so-subtle glances and muted whispers – she caught the word baby a few times but it was hearing Rachel's name more than once that pushed her over the edge – before she stood up and walked out.
Mr. Schue gave her a soft nod to let her know it was okay. Like she even cared.
She waited by her car for what felt like ages. The weatherman had been right and the temperature had dropped a good five degrees since that morning. She was hoping that Rachel's usual forgiving nature had overcome her anger through the course of the afternoon but the girl didn't show, not even to demand her scarf back before walking home.
When she started shivering, Quinn waited a further ten minutes inside her car before giving up and going home too.
She slept with the scarf still wound around her that night, hoping it would stop her from feeling sick in the morning, and then awoke again at five am, from a dream of Rachel's arms wrapped securely around her neck, hugging her close.
As she slipped slowly into wakefulness the warmth and safety of the dream drifted away, leaving her terrified of the demons running amok in her unconscious mind.
Her plan had worked, she didn't feel sick – but she didn't dare go back to sleep either.
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