My brain feels sorta like it's been slushied, all cold and numb and tingly, but worse. Like way, way worse. I'm kinda stumbling around, because my feet are working about as well as my head. It occurs to me it's a good thing that school has been over for a while, or else a lot of people would probably be getting trampled right now. Either that or I'd be tripping over them.
It's really weird, feeling so blank. I hadn't been a few minutes ago. I remember the anger and betrayal and hurt like it had happened a really long time ago, even though it wasn't. Now I just feel like it was all wiped away, but I can feel the pain and the panic getting closer. And that's why I'm letting my feet lead me in the direction they are. I need my safe haven, and I need the person who can really help me right now.
The choir room door is open when I get there and I step in carefully, my eyes searching to make sure there's only one other person in there. I clear my throat, my voice catching several octaves higher than usual, as I wrap my arms around myself, and it's only now that I realize I'm shaking.
"What now, Rach?" Mr. Schue says without looking back, still walking through choreography. When I don't answer he stops and glances over his shoulder, and his eyes widen in surprise. "Oh, hey Finn."
"Hey," I respond and wince at how thick my voice sounds now.
Mr. Schue's brow gets real wrinkly in concern. "What's the matter? Did something happen?"
I can't summon up the right words, or any words really, and before I'm really sure of what I'm doing I'm letting my head fall on his shoulder. I don't even bother to try and stop the tears. Somewhere in the back of my mind, it occurs to me that it wasn't that long ago I'd done this exact same thing. Then it had been over the terrifying appearance of a baby in my life. This time…
"Finn, what happened?" Mr. Schue asks and I can tell he's worried. You can always hear how he's feeling in his voice. Kinda like me, I guess.
I don't remember moving but somehow now we're sitting on one of the tiers, the choir room chairs pushed aside to make room for us. I bury my face in both my hands and when I notice how bad they're shaking I lean over to rest them on my knees as well. Mr. Schue is rubbing a hand over my back and it feels really good, like the way my mom used to when I had nightmares. Or how she had when she'd caught me singing to a sonogram. This thought makes my chest seize up again and it's hard to breathe.
"She's not mine." Finally admitting the truth out loud ruins all the progress I'd made towards breathing normally again, and I choke on my – well they aren't sobs but a sort of more manly version of sobs, whatever those would be called.
"Who?" Mr. Schue asks but by the sound of his voice he's already guessed.
I suck up enough air to say, "The baby," before I'm pretty much hyperventilating again. I sort of feel like I'm having a heart attack again, like I had at the Fabray's before singing to her parents that I had impregnated their daughter. It occurs to me now that that whole spectacle turned out to be a waste of time. I scared myself shitless for nothing. I had taken the brunt of the anger from her dad, but he was the one who'd deserved it, who had missed out on it, but was still going to get to raise this baby together with her.
"Finn, I'm so sorry." Mr. Schue's voice actually sounds heartbroken, like he was the one who'd just found out his girlfriend was pregnant with another dude's kid.
"You know, I'm not even really that upset that Quinn and I are over," I say, not thinking much and just saying whatever is buzzing through my head. It takes too much focus to figure out what exactly is in there, which is weird because normally there's not enough going on in there for it to be a bother. "I mean, we've been fighting for a while now. I think I always knew we weren't going to last. And I'm okay with that. But the baby –" I break off, trying to even out my breathing again. "Is it possible to love someone before you've ever met them?"
When I look over Mr. Schue is smiling. "You mean before they're born?" I nod. "Yeah, yeah I think so," he agrees. I suddenly remember that his wife's pregnant and he's gonna be a dad soon. It makes me feel better to know that I'm not the only one in love with something that probably looks like a sea monkey.
"It's just not fair," I grumble. "I've spent all this time thinking she was mine, falling in love with her and rearranging my life so I could take care of her, and now I'm not even going to do that. It's not right, but I love her and I'm not even her father." I think about all the times I had spent preparing things for her, digging my old baby blanket out of the back of the closet for her, pouring over sites about baby names, weeks spent searching for a job to pay for her. And after all of that, she was his. He would be the one who got to love her and raise her.
"I should be happy, really. I mean now I don't have to deal with all this drama shit." I stop and shoot a sideways glance at Mr. Schue. "Um, I mean crap. Drama crap. It'll be nice not having to spend the rest of high school taking care of a little baby, and now maybe I'll actually be able to get out of this town and have a life. But at the same time…"
"You'll miss her," Mr. Schue finishes for me and I nod. "That sounds normal to me." It's almost a relief to hear that he doesn't think it's absolutely insane. We sit quietly for a minute and then he says, "But why did she tell you now? I mean, after all these months."
"She said I'm too good a guy for her to keep lying too," I say bitterly. "That she can't keep ruining my life. And besides, the real baby-daddy has decided he wants to be a part and she's chosen him." I massage my hand, which is still stinging from when I'd found out the truth. Mr. Schue must notice because he looks at my bruised knuckles and frowns. He doesn't ask but I know he wants to know. "It's Puck."
It takes a second for him to understand this but when he does his eyes go really wide and his eyebrows shoot up. Wow, this dude can really express surprise. He almost looks kinda like a cartoon. "Puck?" he asks in shock. "Wow."
"Yeah." I scowl as a bit of the anger I'd felt out in the parking lot when they'd told me comes back. "He's the one that convinced her to tell me, I guess. He's known since the beginning that it was his, but she kept pushing him away because she wanted me to be the daddy. But I guess now that he's doing well for himself, now that he might not turn out a Lima-Loser like his dad, she's decided she'll go with him instead." I sigh heavily and shake my head. "I should have known it wasn't me, that hot tub thing sounded too weird. I thought there might be something going on between them, and it's been getting more obvious, but I thought maybe they were just becoming friends. Ugh, I'm so stupid."
"You're not stupid," Mr. Schue argues. I look at him skeptically. "Alright so you aren't top of the class most of the time –"
"Or ever –"
"– but you're not stupid," he continues, ignoring my interruption. "You're really talented, Finn. You're a good football player, and you're a good singer. You might do things differently than other people sometimes, but you get them done. When we first started glee club and I left, you were the one who came back and rallied them together. And when Coach Tanaka stepped in and made you football players choose sides, you were the one who managed to talk him into backing off. You've done a great job at keeping everyone together and sticking up for the people who need it. You're a born leader, Finn. You're gonna go places."
I look at him curiously, trying to think of something to say. No one has ever said anything like that to make me feel better. My mom tries, and she does pretty good because she's my mom, but she doesn't know about a lot of what goes on at school because she's too busy. And people like Rachel and Kurt have tried, but mostly Rachel ends up talking about herself and Kurt gives me looks that make me a little uncomfortable. "You really think so?"
"Sé que usted hace."
I blink in confusion. "No offense, Mr. Schue, but I barely understand half the English people say to me."
Mr. Schue laughs. "It means 'I know you will,'" he translates. "I'm very proud of you, Finn."
I can feel my lower lip trembling and I fight really hard to keep it still. I know it probably seems really weird that I'm getting worked up over the fact that my Spanish teacher is proud of me. Alright, not just seems weird; it's just weird. But the thing is, my dad died when I was really little and I've never really known what it felt like to have someone care about me like that. I have my mom, but mom-love and dad-love are really different. Mr. Schue is the closest I've ever had to having a father figure. I wipe my eyes on my sleeves and then, because I can't think of anything to say, I just nod.
Mr. Schue squeezes my shoulder. "You gonna be okay to drive home or do you want a lift?"
I take a couple deep breaths and shake my head. "I'll be okay."
"Alright." Mr. Schue stands up and I do too, feeling my knees shaking a little under me but not as badly as they were before. "Maybe this time you oughta tell your mom about this," he suggests and I laugh quietly before nodding. "I'll see you tomorrow at rehearsal."
I head for the door but when I get there I stop and turn around. "Hey, Mr. Schue." He looks up from his briefcase curiously. "Thanks. You know, for everything."
Mr. Schue smiles. "Anytime." He slings his bag over his shoulder and then adds, "Oh and don't forget, I need that paper on Chile on my desk Friday."
"I'll get it done," I promise and then leave the choir room, making a mental note to actually start that paper tonight even though I know I'll end up forgetting about it by the time I get home and I'll wind up writing the paper Thursday night, same as always. I walk down the halls, thinking about my conversation with Mr. Schue. It's exactly like I told him; I already miss the idea of my little Drizzle Hudson, but at the same time I realize it's what's best for me. I'm not ready to have a kid yet, and judging by the way Puck defended Quinn and the baby, maybe he's more ready than me. And I have to admit, pissed as I am at him, it was pretty impressive the way he just stood there and took the punch.
I get into my car and relax back into the seat. The more I think about it, the surer I am; I'm really not ready to be a dad. But as I look back at the school, I decide that when I do eventually become a father, I wanna be one like Mr. Schue.