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Fic: [6a/7] The Subtle Art of Conducting a Triad, or Brittany's Psychic Cat
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Part Eight. Seven Months Later

 
I wasn’t able to make it to Mike’s wedding, so I hadn’t seen most of my fellow glee clubbers since high school. At Quinn’s baby shower, though, we all picked up where we left off — and it wasn’t weird. I’ve always thought childhood friendships were the ones worth keeping, and it’s true. Because a childhood friend is someone who’s seen you grow up and become the adult you are, and still wants to be your friend. I know I’ve found that in my New Directions friends. And Mercedes, Quinn, and Noah definitely found that in each other.
-Tina Cohen-Chang

“I still think you should’ve gone with red and orange,” Rachel said.

“Quinn’s favorite color is green, and that’s what we’re working with, okay? And besides, it’s too late to change the color scheme.” Mercedes vacillated between the green round and square paper plates. She was in Target with Rachel, and regretting her decision to bring her along.

“Yes, but it’s autumn. And red and orange are the perfect colors for an autumn event.”

“It’s a baby shower, not an event.”

“Yes, but—”

“Rachel. Round or square?”

“Square, of course.”

Mercedes shrugged and dropped a few packages of the plates into her shopping cart. She had no choice but to bring Rachel along, though, because she had reminded them to throw the shower in the first place.

“When’s the shower?” Rachel asked them.

“What?” Noah asked.

“The baby shower,” Rachel said. “You
are having a baby shower. Aren’t you? It’s September! Quinn’s already in her fifth month! You should have started planning at least two months ago!”

Noah and Mercedes looked at each other. “Did you?”

“Did
you?”

Mercedes shook her head. “We haven’t even thought about it!
That’s what I was trying to remember!”

“Leave it to me!” Rachel cried.

“We’re not going to l
eave it to you,” Mercedes said.

“Aren’t you a fucking Broadway star? What the fuck are you
really doing that you have so much fucking time to plan shit like this?”

“I will ignore that expletive-laden question, and say that I am an expert at planning—”

“Matt and Santana plan parties for a
living,” Mercedes said. “We’ll ask them for a few tips. It isn’t going to be a big deal. It’s a baby shower.”

Rachel looked sadder than a kicked puppy.

“You can help,” Mercedes offered with a sigh.

Rachel perked right up.
So began Operation Plan-A-Baby-Shower-Without-Quinn-Finding-Out-and-Oh-Crap-How-Many-Things-Does-One-Baby-Need. Noah had called Matt for helpful tips, which he provided. (They included: create a baby registry {at Target, not Babies ‘R Us}, and make sure someone enthusiastic {Rachel} would lead out in the weird baby shower games.)

“Also,” Matt had said, “if you want it to be a surprise, tell the guests to keep their mouths shut. Otherwise you’ll get someone calling Quinn to ask her what time the shower is.”

Noah and Mercedes had spent two months keeping Quinn sufficiently distracted enough to overlook both the dramatic increase in telephone calls from Matt and Santana, and the accidental subscription to Party City’s catalog. They had had several close calls. One of them involved stuffed bunnies:

It was a mild evening in mid-September, and Quinn was sitting on the floor at the foot of their bed.

“Quinn, what are you…how did you
get down there?”

“I
sat, Noah. I’m pregnant, not handicapped.” Quinn reached under the bed. “I’m looking for my green flats. With the white and green polka dot bow.” She pulled out a pair of black pumps and sighed. “I’m sure you don’t know which ones I’m talking about.”

“Nope,” Noah said cheerfully. “C’mon, lemme help you up and I’ll look under the—”

“What’s this?” Quinn pulled out a plastic bag and reached into it. “Is there a reason why we have a bag full of
pink stuffed bunnies? They’re so cute!

“Quinn, c’mon,” Noah urged.

She continued to rummage through the bag. “Candy-filled baby bottles?”

“Aaand, it’s time for you to get up.” Noah lifted Quinn and placed her on the bed.

“Nooaah!” she whined. “My shoes!”

“I’ll find them.”

“And what’s with the bunnies and the candy?”

Noah thought fast. “The receptionist at the office is pregnant, and I’m in charge of buying random crap for the baby shower.”

“What’s she having?”

“Um, twins.”

“Oh, that’s nice!”

Noah shrugged. “Yeah, I guess.”

Quinn fluffed the pillow behind her. “My shoes?”

“Right.” Noah bent to look under the bed.

*

“The receptionist at my office is having twins.”

Mercedes didn’t look up from her computer. “Um, that’s great?”

“That’s our story for Q, okay?”

“Oh, okay,” Mercedes caught on.

“She found the bunnies. And the candy.”

“Under the bed? What was she doing on the floor?”

“That’s what
I said.”

Mercedes shook her head fondly. “Girl needs a babysitter.”

“Girl needs a hobby.”
Rachel insisted on a rigid RSVP system, which — on Santana’s advice (“It’s a baby shower. Invite people and see who shows up! This is all your fault for getting Manhands involved.”) — Mercedes and Noah didn’t implement.

It was the weekend before the shower, and Mercedes, Rachel, and Noah were at Target. Mercedes and Rachel had moved on from choosing plates to arguing about cake flavors. Predictably, Noah was on the other side of the store, ostensibly looking for balloons but more likely than not walking around the electronics department. He returned with a video game in hand, his phone pressed to his ear.

“We don’t have the space.” Noah tossed the video game in the shopping cart. “Ma, I’ll pay for a hotel, okay? It’s a mess here. With the baby on the way, painting the nursery, uh…Mercedes’ Avon stuff—”

Mercedes smacked his arm. He grinned at her.

“No, Ma, I was joking. No, she doesn’t sell Avon … she should? Ma … I’m gonna hang up now. ‘Bye … No, no, I’ll call you back in a few. Shalom.” Noah shoved his phone in his jeans pocket.

“Your mom thinks I should sell Avon?!”

Noah shrugged. “She gets catalogs.”

“Do people still sell Avon?” Mercedes wondered.

“More importantly,” Rachel cut in, “why would Quinn want a carrot cake? I think we should get a nice lemon cake. I know a place in Midtown.”

“Rachel, she’s my girlfriend. I know what she likes. And I’m telling you that she wants a carrot cake. There’s a bakery in Park Slope that she likes; we’ll go there. Now, let’s please get out of here before Noah finds more video games to buy and/or I kill myself.”

“You like video games!” Noah protested.

Mercedes sighed. “Is it wrong that I want this baby shower to be over with already?”

Noah wrapped an arm around her waist. “Fuck no. It’s gonna be torture.”

“It will be fun, Noah!” Rachel frowned at them both. “And you’ll love the surprise I have for the three of you!”

Mercedes and Noah groaned in unison. “Rachel,” Mercedes began, “what did I tell you?”

Rachel pretended not to hear her.

“What did I tell you?” Mercedes pressed her.

Rachel sighed. “You said that I could help.”

If?”

“If I promised not to go crazy and do my own thing.”

“A surprise, Rachel? That’s called doing your own thing, dear.”

“But, Mercedes! You’ll love it!”

Mercedes crossed her arms. “Is it an all-expenses-paid trip to the Caribbean?”

“No.”

“Is it a million dollars?”

“Of course not, Mercedes!”

“Is it—”

“You’ll love it,” Rachel promised. “Let’s go to the checkout line!”

Mercedes sighed.

*^*^*

It was a slightly chilly Sunday afternoon. Noah was driving, Mercedes was sitting in the passenger seat, and Quinn was complaining about being in the backseat.

“You’re pregnant,” Noah said, as if that explained it all.

“So I can’t sit in the front?”

“Well, I don’t want to sit in the back,” Mercedes said.

“Why am I even going with you guys?” Quinn griped.

“Noah and I both have things to do today and we didn’t want to leave you home alone.”

Quinn crossed her arms. “I’m twenty-eight! I can be home alone!”

Noah quickly glanced back at her. “Q, you look like you’re about to have the baby any day now.”

“I’m only seven months!”

“Better safe than sorry,” Mercedes said unsympathetically.

Quinn muttered a few expletives, and then scowled. “Look what you made me do!”

Mercedes and Noah ignored her.

“His first word will be a curse word,” she continued.

“Then stop cursing,” Noah suggested.

Quinn latched onto his comment with the gusto of someone who was itching for a fight. “You’re the last person—”

Mercedes turned around in her seat and looked at Quinn. “Babe. Relax.”

“I am relaxed!”

Mercedes and Noah exchanged glances. He pulled into the parking lot behind the bank. “Be right back.”

Mercedes and Quinn watched him enter the bank. “You know, the passenger seat is safer than the backseat.”

Mercedes fiddled with the radio tuner and settled on an R&B station. “Yeah?”

“Yep. Side airbags. Where I’m sitting now, if we were in an accident, I would go flying through the windshield.”

“That’s because you’re sitting in the middle. If you sit directly behind me or Noah, you won’t go flying through the windshield.”

Quinn scoffed. “No, I’ll just hit the backs of your seats, which will probably be flying through the windshield.”

“Are you okay?” Mercedes sounded genuinely worried.

“Fine,” Quinn muttered. “Hungry.”

“We’ll stop by my church to drop off the clothes for the women’s shelter, and then we’ll get something to eat, okay?”

“I feel like a kid being dragged around by my parents,” Quinn muttered.

Noah opened the car door in time to hear her. “Get used to it,” he said. He pulled his seatbelt on and placed the car in reverse. “Where’s your church, mama?”

Mercedes gave him directions. “It’s a damn shame. You two really should come with me one day.”

Noah and Quinn made noncommittal noises. Mercedes shook her head.

The church was thirty minutes away, and by the time they arrived, Quinn was complaining again. “Why is your church so fucking far away?!”

“I think I miss your sarcastic, terse phase,” Mercedes commented. She climbed out of the car as Noah popped the trunk.

“I need food!” Quinn said. “And I need to get the hell out of this car!”

“You’re in luck,” Noah said. “I’m helping Mercedes with the bags and you’re coming with us.”

Quinn climbed out of the backseat and slammed the door behind her. “This overprotective shit is getting on my fucking nerves!”

“She’s losing it,” Noah whispered to Mercedes.

I’m losing it,” Mercedes whispered back.

“Same here,” Noah muttered. “These mood swings are fuckin’ legit.”

“Well?” Quinn asked. “Let’s hurry up.”

Mercedes and Noah carried two bags each into the church building. Quinn trailed behind them, looking thoroughly miserable.
“Where?” Noah asked.

“Basement,” Mercedes said. “In the hall. C’mon, Quinn.”

Quinn followed them down the stairs, a hand protectively on her protruding belly.

“In here,” Mercedes said. “Let me just turn on the lights.” She felt along the wall and flipped the light switch.

“SURPRISE!”

The look on Quinn’s face was all Noah and Mercedes talked about for days after.

*

Quinn pulled Noah and Mercedes out of the hall. “I can’t believe you two!”

“Surprise, babe!” Mercedes kissed her lips. Noah followed suit.

“We’re gonna have a serious conversation about this,” Quinn continued.

Noah placed a hand on the small of her back. “Later.” He steered her back into the hall. Mercedes followed behind them and detoured to find either Rachel or Kurt, both of whom were in charge of the general program.

Rachel found her first. “Mercedes! Great! Where are Noah and Quinn? She looked truly surprised, didn’t she?”

Mercedes nodded. “I think she’ll have fun. They might be with Noah’s mom…”

“Well, come on. I want to give you your surprise now!”

“Uh…”

“You’ll like it! And so will Noah and Quinn. Come on!”

Rachel pulled Mercedes through the crowd. “There they are!” Quinn was seated in the special chair designated for her, an assortment of work friends, first cousins, and her parents surrounding her. Noah was nearby, talking animatedly with his sister. Rachel motioned for Noah to join Mercedes and Quinn. He rolled his eyes but went over, pulling his sister with him.

“Berry.”

“Time for your surprise!”

Quinn looked up at Mercedes and Noah, an eyebrow raised. They shrugged, and a worried look crossed her face.

“Okay,” Rachel said cheerfully. “Surprise!” The crowd had quieted. Noah, Mercedes, and Quinn stared at Rachel in anticipation.

“Um,” Quinn began. “Am I missing something? Nothing happ—”

The door to the kitchen at the other side of the room opened, and Santana walked out. Quinn smiled. “Oh, that’s so nice of you, Rachel! All the way from California!”

Mercedes glanced at Noah. “I mean, I like Santana, but…a trip to the Caribbean this is not.”

Noah grinned at her. Santana bent to hug Quinn. “Hi, mami chulo. Sheesh, how many babies are in there, octomom?”

The kitchen door opened again. Matt walked out.

“Matt, my man!” Noah grinned.

Matt was followed by Mike, Kurt, Tina, Brittany, Artie, and Finn.

Mercedes was speechless. Rachel beamed at her. “I told you that you would like your surprise! We haven’t all been together since graduation. And I decided this was the perfect time to reunite!”

Mercedes surprised herself by grabbing Rachel into a tight hug. “You’re really a psychic,” she said.

Rachel squeezed her back. “My sixth sense, you know.”

Noah was laughing with the guys near the food table, and Quinn was goggling at Brittany’s jet-black hair. Kurt came to stand next to Mercedes. She smiled at him, and he wrapped an arm around her waist. “Rachel, you’re a force of nature. When you’re not being a self-indulgent diva, that is.” He winked at her.

Rachel beamed at him in turn. “Thank you, Kurt. Now, I think we should officially get this baby shower started.”

*

Right away, all of the men present (with the exception of Kurt) hurried to the other side of the room, where — on Matt’s advice — Noah had set up what he unimaginatively called “The Man Corner.”

Rachel was disappointed and displeased, both in Noah’s defection and the faint hints of misogyny in the name of the aforementioned corner. “Noah Puckerman!”

He looked vaguely apologetic. “Baby showers are for women.”

Kurt looked affronted.

“Sorry, Hummel,” Noah said.

Rachel placed both hands on her hips, looking equally affronted. “It’s your baby!”

“It’s fine,” Quinn interjected.

“It’s not fine!” Rachel said.

“It’s fine,” Mercedes said.

“I’ll go back and forth, okay?” Noah stroked Quinn’s cheek with his thumb.

“Hey, Puckerman!” Mike called from across the room.

Noah went over to join the other guys. Rachel turned to Mercedes.

“Let it go,” Mercedes said.

Rachel muttered something unintelligible before resuming her role as coordinator. “Hello everyone, and welcome to Quinn, Noah, and Mercedes’ Baby Shower! All gifts go on the gift table, which is along the back wall. Snacks are on the food table near the kitchen. We’ll play a few games and break for refreshments and cake. Then Quinn will open gifts! And then we’ll play one last special game, which is a surprise!”

Mercedes and Quinn groaned.

Rachel fixed them with a glare before addressing the crowd once more. “All right! Let’s get started!”

*

 
Rachel had barely finished explaining the first game before Quinn’s mother volunteered to participate, much to her daughter’s dismay.

“You’ll need a partner,” Rachel said.

Quinn’s sister, Frannie returned from the restroom. Her mother pointed to her.

“What?” Frannie asked warily.

“You’re my partner!” Judy Fabray said.

“What are we playing?”

Rachel explained the game again. “There are three baby dolls on this table. Beside each doll is a diaper, baby wipe, and powder. We need two people to remove the diaper, and then wipe, powder, and re-diaper the doll. Let’s take Mrs. Fabray and Frannie for example. Frannie would stand behind her mom, with a blindfold on. Mrs. Fabray would put her arms behind her back, while Frannie slips her arms through. As a result, Mrs. Fabray would be the sight, but Frannie would be the arms. Understand?”

The group of women murmured affirmation.

“We have one pair so far; we need four more volunteers! The winners receive a prize!”

Rachel’s enthusiasm was infectious. Tina and Brittany, and Mercedes’ mom and her Aunt Geraldine volunteered to play.

Chaos ensued almost immediately. Mrs. Fabray was awful at giving instructions, which had Frannie swearing to give up every other minute. Tina was good at giving instructions, but Brittany was terrible at following them. Santana snickered to Kurt, who was providing commentary with the straightest face he could manage.

“And Mrs. Jones is trying to tell Aunt Geraldine where the baby powder is, but Aunt Geraldine is having none of that and…she’s found the baby powder!...And she just knocked it over…Brittany is trying to convince Tina that the doll doesn’t really need a new diaper, while Tina looks like she’s about to screw the rules and change the diaper herself…poor T. Her hair looks good, though. Kind of a strawberry auburn. Hey, Tina! Which brand hair dye did your….oh, sorry. Back to the game. Mrs. Fabray is trying to tell Frannie that she’s holding the wrong end of the baby powder bottle, but…yeah, those instructions are awful. I mean, if I weren’t looking myself, I would think she was talking about — turn the bottle upside down, Frannie!”

Santana whispered something to Kurt. He whispered back. They conversed in whispers for several minutes, until he laughed. “I’m never having kids. And not just because I’m gay. Sorry Quinn, Mercedes.”

They shrugged.

“Children are really quite worthwhile, Kurt,” Rachel spoke up. She was monitoring the game with a fruit smoothie in hand.

“Tell me more when you’ve got one, Rachel,” he responded. He continued with his commentary before she could respond with a spiel on the benefits of child rearing. “Aunt Geraldine has finally managed to powder the doll’s butt, and now she’s trying to find the clean diaper. Looks like they might win this thing. Brittany and Tina have dropped out due to ‘irreconcilable differences’…a maternity test may be necessary. Mrs. Fabray and Frannie have switched places. It turns out Frannie is worse than her mom at giving instructions. Rachel, can we just call this a win for Mrs. Jones and Aunt Geraldine? Mercedes is laughing her ass off and Tina is clearly trying to decide when to hack off Brittany’s hair with a nail clipper. Yes, Britt, your hair. You might want to find another seat.”

Santana joined Mercedes in laughing uncontrollably. Rachel was giggling into her fruit smoothie.

“And now Rachel Berry is giggling. Someone get my camera. And Rachel’s psych meds.”

Rachel fixed a glare on him and quit giggling long enough to say, “Mercedes’ mom and aunt win! Kurt, get the prizes.” She sank into a seat next to Quinn and beamed at her. “This is so exciting!”

Quinn patted her hand. “Okay, Rach.”

“You called me Rach!” Rachel’s smile grew brighter.

“Evidently, my hormones are totally out of control. When the baby is born I’ll go back to wishing we didn’t live in the same city.”

“Oh, that’s just the hormones talking, Quinn!” Rachel patted her hand in return and stood. “Okay, ladies! Kurt will present the prizes.”

Quinn sighed and smiled. The idea of Rachel being a permanent fixture in her life was not nearly as unpleasant as it had once seemed.

*

Meanwhile, the men had moved from arguing about the World Series to organizing a game of Taboo (for money). They formed two teams: Noah, Mr. Jones, Mercedes’ brother Justin, and Artie were one team. Mike, Matt, Noah’s friend Rob, and Mr. Fabray were the other. Finn and a few others decided to sit the game out.

“What are the stakes?” Artie asked.

Noah downed the last of his drink. “Anytime someone guesses the word, everyone tosses a dollar into the pool. The first team to get to fifty points wins. And they split the pool.”

“Fifty bucks?” Rob said incredulously. “That’s not bad, but…”

“No, I get it,” Artie jumped in. “It’ll be more. A lot more. Because we’re all trying to get fifty points. So, if my team gets 43 and your team wins with 50, then that’s 93 bucks.”

“Split four ways,” Rob said.

“…Yeah,” Artie conceded.

“Maybe we should split into smaller teams.”

“Greedy,” Noah mock chastised. “Anyway, we’re already gambling at a baby shower in a church.” He turned to his friend Jamal, who had decided not to play. “Hey, Jamal. Keep track.” Noah pushed a pencil and paper across the table.

“Yeah, sure.”

Artie subconsciously reached to push his glasses up before remembering that he was wearing contacts. “Technically, we’re not gambling. Because we haven’t placed any bets and—”

Noah quit shuffling the cards. “Abrams.”

“Yeah. Sorry.”

“Okay, let’s start! Coin toss for who goes first. Call it, Mike.”

“Heads,” Mike called.

“And we’re tails. Let’s see.” Noah flipped a coin in the air and watched it land on the table. “Heads.”

“All right!” Matt said. “Who’s doing clues?”

“Wait, wait,” Finn interjected.

Mercedes’ brother frowned. “What?”

“I don’t know the rules.”

Noah, Mike, Matt, and Artie exchanged glances.

“Bro,” Matt began.

“You’re not playing,” Noah finished.

“Well, yeah, but I’m watching. And it’s boring to watch a game unless you know the rules.”

Mercedes’ dad looked amused. Quinn’s dad looked as he had since arriving: slightly angry and vaguely confused. Noah sighed and gestured to Artie, who once again resisted the urge to push up his phantom glasses. He cleared his throat, grabbed a card from the deck, and explained the game to Finn (and Mr. Jones and Mr. Fabray, as it turned out).

The game began. Twenty minutes later, Noah’s team was up by seven, and Matt’s team was hoping for a comeback. It was Rob’s turn to give the clues. Mike, Matt, and Mr. Fabray were guessing the taboo word. (Actually, Mr. Fabray was abysmal at the game, so mostly Mike and Matt were guessing the taboo word.)

ROB: Why are we here?

MIKE: Meaning of life!

MATT: Cars! Transportation! Yo, I think you mean circle of life.

MIKE: No, I meant meaning of life. Like, why are we here? Life’s biggest question?”

ROB: GUYS! I mean, why are we here here?

MIKE: Oh.

MATT: Baby!

MIKE: Baby shower!

ROB: Okay, and why is there a baby?

MATT: Sex.

MIKE: Lots of sex.

MATT: Lots of unprotected sex.

MIKE: Actually, it only takes the one time. Trust me. Inara and I—

JAMAL: For fuck’s sake, just skip it!

ROB: First of all, you’re not playing. Second, HELL NO, this is easy! And if we skip it, Noah’s team will get the point. Okay, guys. Think! What is Quinn?

MIKE: Blonde.

JAMAL: Hot. (Noah glared at him.) What? It’s true!

MIKE & MATT: YOU’RE NOT PLAYING!

ROB: No, CHRIST! Hello? Baby, sex, what is Quinn?

MATT: Oh, pregnant!

ROB: FINALLY!

MIKE: You could’ve said, “Dakota Fanning is what?”

ROB: Oh, sure. And then I would get “blonde,” “hot,”—

MATT: No way, dude. I still think of her as, like, five years old.

ROB: Okay, well—

MIKE: You do realize time is going, right?

ARTIE: Time!

ROB: Shit! Seriously, one point? We’re talking about cash here!

Mike and Matt shrugged and assumed ashamed expressions. Mr. Fabray took the opportunity to share something that had evidently been on his mind. He turned to Noah.

“So.”

Noah stared at him without much expression.

“You’re the guy who’s with my daughter.”

“Yes.” Noah resisted the urge to tap his can of soda. “Sir,” he tacked on as an afterthought.

“You’re not married to her.”

“No.”

“And she’s having your baby.”

“That’s right.”

“You’re Jewish.”

“Yep.”

“Who’s the black woman in the purple dress? She hasn’t left Quinn’s side all afternoon.”

“Our girlfriend. Partner.”

“Our?”

“We’re all in a relationship together.”

Mike leaned over to Matt and whispered, “Did he not know this before he showed up?”

“Apparently not,” Matt whispered in response.

Mr. Jones looked like he would rather not be hearing about his daughter’s relationship with Noah and Quinn; it was so much easier to pretend they were long-term roommates. Although the fact that he was at the baby shower of a baby that wasn’t technically his grandchild poked a few holes in his bubble.

Mr. Fabray took a controlled gulp of the beer he’d brought. “She was pregnant in high school. I kicked her out. And now she’s gone and done the same thing again.”

Noah glanced at Mike, Matt, Finn, and Artie who were frantically waving their arms and mouthing variations of “No, no, God no.” Rob and Jamal looked at them, confused.

“That was my baby, sir,” Noah admitted. Mike, Matt, Finn, and Artie shook their heads and reached for their respective drinks in unison. Rob and Jamal exchanged what-a-fucking-soap-opera-damn-Noah-already-has-a-kid? glances.

“Huh. What ever happened to it?”

“Her.”

“What?”

“What ever happened to her. It was a girl. We named her Beth. She was beautiful; ask Mercedes, she was in the delivery room with your daughter.”

“Ask your car?”

“Mercedes. Our partner.”

“My daughter,” Mr. Jones cut in, giving Mr. Fabray a severe look.

Noah stood and looked down at Quinn’s father. “It’s been almost fifteen years, and you haven’t once thought to ask about your granddaughter?”

Mr. Fabray stood as well. “She’s not my granddaughter.”

“Wonderful,” Noah said sarcastically. Quinn and Mercedes appeared at his elbow.

“What’s going on?” Quinn asked. “Dad?”

“That baby was conceived out of wedlock, and so was this one. I tried to raise Quinn properly. Took her to church. Supervised the movies and TV she watched. But she got pregnant. I don’t even know where she went after I kicked her out—”

“She stayed with me,” Mercedes said fiercely. She had an arm wrapped around Quinn’s waist.

A small crowd was gathering around them, but Noah and Mr. Fabray were oblivious to it. Santana unabashedly pulled out her video camera.

Mr. Fabray continued his spiel. “But I didn’t want to have her in the house. And now, now, she’s done it again. Living in sin with a Jew and a Black. And having another baby.” He turned to Quinn. “You remember the story of Mary Magdalene, don’t you Quinn? She was a whore, too. And Jesus still—“

Noah punched Quinn’s father in the face. He staggered backward.

“Noah!” his mother cried. Mrs. Fabray looked on blithely. The guys all stood and tried to talk down Noah.

Noah punched Mr. Fabray again. He fell to the floor with a groan.

Noah’s voice was steady as he said, “You are the biggest son of a bitch I know, you motherfucker. If you say that about Quinn again I will kill you.”

“He will,” Brittany piped up.

“Shhh!” Tina hushed her.

“Noah,” Mercedes said.

“Fuck you, Mr. Fabray. Sorry, Quinn.”

Quinn waved it off. “Baby’s gonna cuss. What can I do?”

“I don’t want to hear you talking shit about your own daughter. Or Mercedes. Or me. Got it? And if you feel like talking so much shit, I don’t mind taking a long drive to Lima, or wherever the fuck you live now.”

“Neither do we,” Finn said. Mike, Matt, Artie, Jamal, and Rob nodded their agreement.

“Noah,” Mercedes said.

“Okay,” he said. He allowed Quinn and Mercedes to lead him away.

Mr. Fabray stood and wiped at his cheek. Mrs. Fabray looked at her ex-husband with disgust. “I’m still not sure about their relationship, but our daughter is not a whore, you pompous asshole!”

Mercedes’ mother, Cheryl, led her away. Noah’s mother followed them to a table in the corner, where they began honestly discussing their kids’ unorthodox relationship for the first time in years.

Kurt and Rachel tried to regain control of the situation. “I think we all need to eat!” Rachel said. “Right now. Food is at the back table, help yourselves.”

The crowd dispersed to the food table, chattering about the fight:

“Do you really think they all…you know? Do it? Together?”

“Ew, gross!”

“Noah seems like a loyal young man.”

“They’ve got their heads on their shoulders. What the hell, right? Didja hear about the lady who wanted to marry her dog? It doesn’t get weirder than that. At least they stuck to humans, right?”

“He fell. They could hear the thud all the way in the Bronx.”

Rachel turned to Santana. “Did you really get all that on tape?”

Si, mami. I bet Puck will want to see it in a few days.”

Mr. Fabray slinked out of the hall.

“Good riddance,” Kurt muttered.

“This can still be the best baby shower ever!” Rachel said.

Santana rolled her eyes. Tina took pity on Rachel and linked their arms. “C’mon, Rachel. Take a break. Grab some cookies.”

“I did make them myself,” Rachel said.

“Then you’ll definitely want some,” Tina said.

Rob looked at the Taboo score sheet. “Um, can we finish the game? There’s money involved!”

*
 
If anything, the baby shower was more fun after the altercation. Everyone seemed to feel united by a mutual dislike of Mr. Fabray, and the afternoon flew by smoothly. The games were fun. (Rob’s team won the Taboo game, and due to Mr. Fabray’s abrupt departure, they split the money three ways instead of four.) The gifts the triad received included diapers, children’s books, and baby clothes. Kurt gave them a few baby outfits, and attached a lengthy list of baby-clothing faux pas. “Because if I’m going to go outside with him, then he can’t look like he spends his days eating and sleeping.”

“He’s a baby!” Quinn said. “After he’s born, all he’ll do is eat and sleep!”

“Well, that doesn’t mean he has to look it.”

Mercedes agreed, and said as much to him later.

It was almost five pm, and most of the guests had left. Only the gleeks and the grandparents-to-be remained. They were helping to clean up. Quinn sat in her chair of honor, forbidden to move by both Mercedes and Noah. Cheryl Jones kept her company.

“We haven’t had a chance to talk at all, honey. How are things?”

“Good, Mrs. Jones.”

“I’ve been telling you to call me Cheryl since you were in high school.”

Quinn smiled. “Cheryl.”

Cheryl smoothed out the front of her skirt. “Your dad will come around.”

“I don’t think I want him to.”

“That’s understandable.”

They sat in companionable silence for a few minutes and watched the merriment around them. Someone had turned on the radio, and the gleeks were all singing along to Springsteen’s “Born in the USA.” The song ended too soon. Finn grinned and said, “From the top, guys!” mimicking Mr. Schuester with remarkable accuracy.

Rachel jumped in. “I truly believe I deserve the solo for this song, Mr. Schuester.”

Mercedes grinned and played along. “Seriously, Mr. Schue, can we sing some black songs? And can I do something other than wail on the last note?”

“This isn’t the Rachel and Finn Variety Show, Mr. Schue,” Kurt said. “Without the rest of us, there’s no glee club.”

Artie wheeled himself over to the food table. “It’s more than a little prejudiced that we can’t have some choreography that doesn’t highlight my disability, Mr. Schue.”

“Y-y-yes,” Tina mock stuttered from her place on Artie’s lap.

“Whatever,” Santana said. She tossed her head. “We all know I’m just here to look good.”

“What she said,” Brittany said. “What’s going on?” she whispered to Santana. The other gleeks smiled fondly.

“Can I get a solo that has nothing to do with being pregnant?” Quinn spoke up from her seat.

“Can I get a solo? Any solo?” Mike asked.

“Can I say something?” Matt asked.

Noah provided the finale. “How about we end practice early so I can get a head start on cleaning Mrs. Grafton’s pool?”

They all burst out laughing. Noah, Quinn, and Mercedes’ parents looked confused.

“I really love you guys,” Tina said.

“We love you, too!” Rachel said. “That was so much fun!”

“I wanna get out of here before midnight, Berry,” Noah said. “Let’s finishing cleaning up.”

Fifteen minutes later, the hall was back to its original condition. The grandparents-to-be left after hugs and admonitions to Quinn about keeping off her feet and eating the proper amount of fish. The gleeks were left.

“Let’s go over to Mercedes and Noah and Quinn’s place!” cried Rachel.

“Do you see this?” Mercedes said to Kurt. “Do you see how she invites people to someplace that isn’t hers?”

“Seen and noted, girl. You don’t mind, though? Us coming over?”

“No, of course not. It’s just…”

“Yeah.”

They were already making transportation arrangements, so Mercedes’ opinion was beside the point. Noah volunteered one space in his car. Rachel and Finn said they could fit two more people in theirs. Tina told the triad to go ahead, promising to squeeze everyone else in the van she and Artie drove.

Mercedes, Quinn, and Noah were the last to leave the hall. Mercedes and Noah held her hands as they climbed up the stairs.

“Think they’ll leave before morning?” Quinn asked.

“I think they’ll sleep over,” Mercedes said. “And I have work tomorrow.”

“So do I,” Noah said.

“Me too,” Quinn said.

They were silent for a few moments.

“We’re not going to do shit at work tomorrow,” Noah said.

“True story,” Mercedes agreed.

“Yeah,” Quinn said.

They headed down the sidewalk to their car. Noah laughed.

“What?” Quinn asked.

“My sis stayed with a friend in Queens, so that wasn’t a problem. But I told my Ma there wasn’t any space at our place for her to stay. And now we’ve got nine people coming over.”

“There isn’t any space!” Mercedes said. “I don’t want to think about where they’ll all sleep.”

“Our bedroom is off limits,” Noah said.

“Naturally,” Mercedes said.

“Absolutely,” Quinn agreed. “I’m curious to see how many people can fit in the spare bedroom, though. And the living room.”

“Do we have enough food?” Mercedes mused.

“We’re ordering in and splitting the bill, okay? Dammit. I signed up for glee club to get closer to Quinn, and fifteen years later I’m fucking surrounded.”

“And you’re living with two of them,” Quinn added with a grin.

Noah fastened his seatbelt and started the car. “Let’s get home before crazy shit happens.”

Mercedes frowned. “I really don’t think—”

“Brittany,” Noah said. “Santana.”

“Let’s get home,” Mercedes said.

*^*^*
 

[6b/7] >>


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