Puck succumbs to guilt
I don't own Glee or Any of its franchise.
Unbetaed, but if you spot any major errors, please let me know so I can correct them!
A/N First off, thanks for the reviews, they really make my day so much better! Secondly, Phew, there were threats after last chapter, so I'm glad I almost had this one typed up before posting it hehe. I hope this will make you feel a little better; just please remember one thing: This is only Puck's POV we're getting, he is not all-knowing and thus might get a few things wrong every now and again…Enjoy!
Extra Note: I'm not a doctor, what happens in this chapter is equal parts personal experience and google. If any of you are doctors and/or nurses, let me know if I made a colossal error and tell me what it was with notes, so I can make the necessary changes :D
To this day I still haven't got a fucking clue how I managed to get to the hospital without either killing myself or someone else in traffic; all I could process at the moment was the fact that Caroline, my little baby girl was dangerously ill.
Okay, sure, I didn't really have a clue about what meningitis was exactly, aside from the fact that it'd been one of the diseases that my elementary school had taken deathly serious. The memory of one of my first ever friends, Craig tricked into my dazed mind as I weaved in and out of the traffic in Mr. Shue's car with a weeping Rachel sitting quietly by my side and as many of the other Gleeks crammed into the vehicle as was humanly possible.
He'd been my first friend and the only one, whose home life seemed to be more shitty than my own so our connecting had been inevitable and then one day he just hadn't come to school and our somber faced teacher had explained that he'd gone up to heaven. It was only later, I found out he'd gotten meningitis and I had to force myself not to substitute Craig's dark skinned face with my daughter's.
When I got to the hospital, I parked haphazardly and all but ran into the building with Rachel right next to me. Not for the first time, I had to appreciate the fact that she never lost her voice, 'cause I couldn't make my own work to ask for Caroline's information.
Next thing I knew, a sympathetic looking nurse was leading us to the right place and Hiram's body blocked my view of anything else as he proceeded to squeeze the life out of us. Then he launched into more a detailed description of Caroline's illness than he'd gotten a chance to do on the phone.
Rachel was listening religiously, but even as I tried to focus, I only managed to absorb a few words every now again, like, "rash," and "spiked a fewer," and "doctors don't think it's the viral one," whatever that meant.
So I just stood there with baited breath, allowing Rach to get whatever little comfort her knowing every miniscule detail could give her and waited for some fucking answers.
Time went by as it usually does, even in times like this, and I couldn't tell you what happened during that wait to be honest. Everything blurred into one essential thing; my daughter had to live. If… no, I shook off the terrifying thought and wrapped an arm around Rachel when she leaned close to me.
Finally, a doctor came out to meet with us and I immediately stood up, almost knocking Rachel off her seat in my haste, but she didn't seem to mind seeing as she was staring just as fixedly at the approaching doctor as I was.
"Are you the parents?" His voice was rough and deep, but his eyes had a soft gleam in them that would've set my mind at ease if my kid hadn't been so fucking sick. We nodded in tandem and he launched into a speech that was so full of medical jargon that for the first time I hated my lack of studying in the past. I needed, no I had to understand what the guy was talking about, so I brusquely interrupted him and told him to speak so I could understand what the hell he was saying.
Instead of looking annoyed at my outburst, the doctor looked like he'd heard it a million times before, so he just nodded with a small smile and tried again. "There are basically two types of meningitis. Long story short, your daughter's got the bad one. It was touch and go for a while; her being sick was discovered rather late in this particular case. We performed a spinal tap to be sure and she's getting some antibiotics now that we all hope will help matters and-"
I drifted off again as his jargon crept back in to the conversation, happy that Rachel seemed to understand it all. She glanced at me with narrowed eyes once or twice, but I didn't really get what she was portraying. If I had to guess, I'd say she was angry, but I couldn't see what she was mad at me for.
The doctor nodded at me and brought me back to the present when he turned to leave. I looked at Rach, "when can we see her?"
Rachel crossed her arms, massaging her arms with her hands once or twice before answering me coolly, "The doctor told us he'd send a nurse for us once it was the appropriate time."
And that was that really. We sat back down, and sometime during the night the Gleeks slowly disappeared and left my family alone to wonder if that little girl that we all loved more than life itself would pull through.
Being the masochistic son of a bitch that I am, I pulled out my phone and googled meningitis for information on what to expect. Five minutes later, I bolted from my chair and ran to the nearest trashcan and emptied my stomach violently into it, not caring that I wasn't exactly the picture of badassness in that moment.
I finally understood just how sick my kid really was and the thought of all the complications that could pop up and harm her tiny body made me so sick that I continued to heave roughly into the now foul smelling trashcan.
"Fuck," I muttered, wiping my mouth with my sleeve inelegantly.
I got back up and walked over to the small table that sat in the waiting room, which held a can of stale water and some plastic cups. I let the water swivel around in my mouth before spitting it out in the soiled trashcan. I didn't envy the person that had to clean that; let me tell ya. Then I went and sat back down next to Rachel, who barely reacted to my presence; except for scooting a little bit away. I guess vomit stench doesn't exactly inspire affection.
I brushed off the small part of me that wondered why Rach hadn't even asked if I was okay, understanding that Caroline was on the forefront of her mind, as it should be. Still, she had pulled away from me rather suddenly after the doctor had spoken with us…
It was four long ass days later, when I finally had enough and confronted Rachel about her odd distancing from me; I'd let her small glares go, but after we'd finished talking to another doctor, that warned us that Caroline might end up with deteriorating sight, or at worst wind up going completely blind from her illness, that I just had enough of her weird behavior.
She'd glared violently at me and turned to go back into the room where Caroline was currently being kept that I reached out and took a gentle hold of her shoulder.
In the next second, she'd brusquely shaken my hand off of her and hissed, "Don't touch me."
"Okay," I threw my hands up in the air and then gritted my teeth so much that I think my dentist would kick me ass for ruining them, "what the fuck is going on with you, Rach?"
Rachel rolled her eyes and nodded with her chin to the door behind her, "I'm focused on my child, Noah as should you be. So-"
"No," I growled and stepped closer, "you don't get to play that card, Rachel. I'm fucking terrified that that kid in there won't pull through or wind up blind or whatever, but I ain't talking about that! I'm talking about you being a total ice queen these last few days towards me. In case you didn't know, I didn't make her sick."
Rachel's eyes narrowed as she looked at me with something close to contempt and she damn near broke me to pieces when she sneered viciously, "If I hadn't been so distracted over yet another one of your emotional displays, I would've caught Caroline's illness sooner and I damn sure wouldn't have let you drag me to Regionals. You're always distracting me from being a good mother, doing stuff that hurts me like with Santana and that stupid kiss and so many other things. This is all your fault!"
The pain from the slap that she ended her tirade with was nothing compared to the one exploding inside of me, 'cause every word she said resonated within me. Rachel was right, it was sort of my fault…
Another slap on the other cheek burned my skin, but I just stood there numbly as Rachel cried, her fatigue forgotten in her rage. She raised her hand again, but before it could connect, another form stepped in-between us and pushed her away from me.
"Get your hands off of my boy!"
It was like I was watching things in slow motion; my mother stood protectively in front of me, scowling ferociously down at an equally rage filled Rachel. The scene was a weird déjà-vu to the night Caroline had been born – only this time the two women's roles were reversed.
Ma was pale and had two big red splotches on her cheeks, signaling her anger; a sign I'd used to look out for as a little kid, and I would've warned Rachel if I hadn't been so fucking cold all of the sudden.
Unable to process anything else, I turned around and left even as orderlies and other nurses came to see what was happening. The guilt damn near choking me the farther away from my sick child I got. I found myself in the cafeteria some time later, nursing a cold cup of thin coffee that I didn't remember buying.
I was just so numb, but I didn't mind, 'cause it sure as hell beat the alternative. After I'd gotten two texts from Rachel to come back, I stood back up and did as she asked all the while wondering why she didn't just tell me to get the hell away before I ended up bringing about another disaster.
Thankfully shortly after that incident, Caroline got better and returned home and things moved on like they usually do.
She was a little thinner and the doctors were almost sure that her vision had suffered some from the illness, but I didn't care if she wound up blind as a bat as long as my little girl was safe and sound. So far it seemed that all we had to worry about were some glasses and that'd be the end of that fortunately.
There was an awkwardness between Rachel and I of course; I mean, she had unloaded a lot of crap on me in that waiting room and I was hurt and trying to respect her wishes by staying as far away from her as possible at the same time, 'cause I couldn't say that she'd stated anything that wasn't true.
The only thing I didn't do was sleep somewhere else; we'd promised each other numerous times never to sleep apart after all. That didn't mean I didn't stay up way past my usual bedtime and let Rachel get ready and fall asleep before I even thought about heading to bed myself.
Instead, I began spending a lot of my time with my daughter, eying her intently whenever I could get away with it – and since I was her dad, I could get away with it quite a lot.
We also returned to school and it was uncomfortable as hell sitting in my truck in silence as I drove towards McKinley that first day. Thank fuck that I had enough excuses about practice and shit so I could legitimize asking Rachel to get a ride home from someone else or get one of her dads' to pick her up instead of going through that hell too many times. Her lack of protest told me she was still majorly pissed at me and blamed me as much as she ever did; she was just a lot less vocal about it than before.
So, I decided to respect her untold wishes and stopped going to Glee. I mean, we'd won Regionals and I'd never been a solo singer in the club, so I very much doubted I'd be missed at Nationals. That way, I reasoned internally, Rachel didn't have to worry about leaving Caroline behind, 'cause I'd be there watching her like a fucking hawk and I'd take her to the doctor if she even as much as sneezed in the future, that's for sure.
Anyway, from what I could gather from Sam, who'd actually been the only one to seek me out in school and ask me why the fuck I wasn't in glee anymore, there was a lot of shit going on these days. I guess that's why Rachel hadn't reacted all that much to me quitting The New Directions. I don't know what I'd expected to be frank, a thank you perhaps? I mean, I got out of her way so she could have fun with her dreams.
Well, I shook my conflicted feelings about everything out of my head and went over what Sam had told me, once he'd finally stopped badgering me about returning. Apparently, Brittany was smarter than we all thought and –along with Mike and Artie – was a part of some smart people competition and they all needed money. Long story short; everyone was busy preparing some sort of charity event.
Fuck if I cared, I just kept my head down, went to class and spent my free time with Caroline. When Rachel didn't beat me to it, I mean.
A few weeks after Caroline's release from the hospital, I was sitting in her room, with her chubby little body in my arms as she slumbered safely with her head cocooned in the crook of my neck. I was humming softly and trying to figure out how to tell Sam he should worry about his own damn self, maybe get a fucking haircut and some cooler clothes, next time he came around, hounding me to get back to glee club.
A sound caught my attention and I looked up slowly, so I didn't wake my daughter and locked eyes with Rachel. I immediately looked away, 'cause for some reason I'd had real fucking difficulty with meeting her gaze since she'd said all those things to me. I don't know why, it just kindda fucking hurt to look at her these days.
She made a strangled sound, so I figured she felt the same way. I didn't give her a chance to say much of anything or you know, tell me to get the fuck out before she said something else, instead I just got up and carefully handed her Caroline.
"She was wiped out when I got home, so it took me a while to get her sleeping. She's been napping for about thirty minutes now, so she'll probably be a little fussy, sorry. I'm gonna go for a run, so…err, enjoy your alone time." I nodded to Rachel without really looking at her and ran upstairs to change my clothes.
I ran so fast that I could probably have been on some kind of Olympic team, but I didn't notice until I speeded past Sam, who was out walking with his two siblings. The look of something less than sunny on his face caught my attention and I slowed down to go talk to him.
Only to pitch forward in the next moment, trying desperately to catch my breath. I looked at my watch and would've cursed if I'd had enough air; I'd been running way longer than I usually did.
"Hey, Puck," Sam's voice reached my ears, drowning out my hearts frantic pounding. "You okay, Man?"
"Yeah, just ran too much," I managed to get out a few seconds later. "What are you doing here?" I glanced over at his smaller siblings, who looked up at me with equal parts of mistrust and curiosity. They had that same shaggy look about them that Sam did; maybe it was genetic?
Sam ran a hand through his disheveled blond hair and shrugged. "We just decided to take a walk together. Our parents are working, so I wanted to spend some time with them…The nanny wasn't available." Something about that last part, plus the slightly uncomfortable look in my friend's eyes told me he wasn't exactly telling me the entire truth, but I didn't have it in me to care.
I just nodded and we chatted for a few minutes, before the two younger kids lost their patience and Sam had to continue with their walk. I looked after their disappearing shadows for a while, before turning to run back home.
Only, it didn't really sit right with me to go back already. Another glance at my watch informed me that it was nowhere near the time for Rachel to go to bed and I didn't really fancy being around at another awkward dinner where Hiram chatted amiably while Abraham looked between the two of us with narrow eyed suspicion.
In the end, I sent her a text that I'd gotten hungry and eaten at McDonalds instead. Then I walked around aimlessly for a while until I found myself in front of my old house of all places. That was enough to send a spike of confusion through the fog that had been surrounding me since Rachel's words. What the hell was I even doing here?
I'd run away from there before my body could do something stupid and like… knock on the damn door.
I ended up walking around for several hours, until the cooling sweat in my clothes and on my skin made me feel like nothing short of a fucking bum, so I headed home to take a much needed shower.
When I entered the door silently, it was very late, so I didn't think anyone would be up. The darkness in the house told me I was right, so I walked soundlessly upstairs, already preparing to shower as long as I could so I didn't have to lie next to the girl I loved, and know that she all but hated my guts these days.
To make things worse, I realized a bit too late that Rachel was in fact not asleep, but on the phone. Just before I was about to enter the door, I heard her muffled voice, "…look at me anymore. It hurts. I don't know what to say to him, Quinn."
I froze on the doorstep and had already decided to turn around to shower in the bathroom downstairs, cold tiles be damned, when she looked up and noticed me there. "I have to go, Quinn," she whispered and ended the call.
"Hello Noah," she greeted me softly, still looking at me. Her earlier words burned me, 'cause hadn't she just said she couldn't stand to look at me anymore?
I looked away instead and unceremoniously grabbed a pair of clean boxers and a pair of pajamas pants. "Didn't mean to disturb," I muttered, almost out of the door before she could say anything.
"Noah, wait," Rachel started, and as always, my body seemed to have a life of its own when it came to her ordering me around, so I did stop on the threshold and turned my head in her direction.
"I'm sorry," she eventually said quietly and from the tone, I knew she was talking about more than me overhearing her chat with Quinn just now. I didn't understand why she was saying sorry and I told her that without looking at her, then I added calmly, forcing myself to look her in the eyes for a short moment.
"You didn't say anything that wasn't true. Now go to sleep, I'll be up after my shower." I managed a half-hearted smile before I fled downstairs where I proceeded to shower for so long that the water turned ice cold and painful on my already abused skin. But I welcomed it, 'cause it still felt better than knowing the woman I was still so fucking in love with couldn't bear to look at me without getting angry.
When I finally made my way back upstairs to our room, I had succeeded in my goal of waiting till Rachel was sleeping before joining her. She was lying above the covers with a frown marring her face, almost as if she'd waited for me as long as she could.
Now that I looked closer, I realized that Rachel looked damn near exhausted, almost worn out. She had dark circles under her eyes and her skin had a tint of grey as if she too hadn't been sleeping all that well. I sighed and placed the covers over her and kissed her forehead softly, hoping I didn't wake her in the process.
"Noah…" my name escaped her lips gently and her sleeping face lit up into a small, contented smile that I didn't really understand. Shaking my head a bit, I got down beside her and stared at her until my eyes turned heavy and I fell into a peaceful sleep for the first time in weeks.
A/N I skipped over a lot of the 'a night of neglect' episode simply because it was limited what I could do really with the changes I've made. Hopefully this will be accepted as well! I'd love to hear what you all think:D
Until Next Time