Welp, it's been a while. This was a prompt filled for the Faberrycon Fic Fundraiser. I can't find the original prompt (which KBen requested) but I kind of took it and ran with it, hope you like it. Oh, I started writing this before season 4 was over so there's some minor differences from the show. Happy New Year!
Rachel was unsure of how she was feeling right at that exact moment. Should she be elated or mildly upset? She wasn't used to rejection but then again, she technically wasn't rejected. She needed to debrief the entire situation with her roommate and best friend, but with one look at the watch her father gave her for Hanukah one year, she knew that he didn't get out of class for another 45 minutes. And then, of course, he'd be off to his internship at Vogue.
She bit her lip in contemplation as she watched the subway doors finally slide close after two unsuccessful attempts. Honestly, it's not that hard to stand clear of the closing doors, people. She considered, for the briefest of moments, getting off at the next stop and finagling her way back into Midtown so perhaps she could catch her GayBF as he stopped at the Starbucks outside of his place of work to tell him the news.
The next stop came and went, her worried lip still tucked underneath her bleached teeth, as she watched the subway doors slide open and closed. The rush of impatient people surfing through the tunnels as they read their newspapers and books, while few listened to music on their iPods, and others seemed mildly interested in the performance at the other end of the car. Beat boxing made it's way to her ears and she didn't snap out of her trance until she felt someone lean unnecessarily close to her, holding out a worn down Yankee hat with a few wrinkled dollar bills. She reached into her bag and found the change she had left over from the fruit cup she grabbed at lunch and dropped it into the hat. She normally wouldn't encourage rewarding someone for a sub-par performance but she wasn't exactly in the right frame of mind. She suddenly saw herself performing on that very same subway car five years in the future and shivered with fear.
The doors slid open and she was the first one on the platform, pushing her way through irritated and hot travelers who were just trying to get home before rush hour hit. She walked up the steps and breathed in the familiar air that surrounded her home. It took a few weeks for her to get used to but now she wouldn't trade her flat in Bushwick for the world. Well, that's a lie, she'd trade it in for any other apartment closer to her school, but she'd grown to love her first apartment and it would, admittedly, be difficult to part with.
Before her eyes turned into dollar signs and her mind started running away with different purchases she could make, she focused on the task at hand. She needed to talk it out. Now that she had cell phone reception, she tried her Dad. It went straight to voicemail. Her other father picked up the phone and in a hurried voice asked her if he could call her later that night. She considered calling Kurt anyway and having him leave class early but she didn't want to be selfish. She was working on her selfishness.
Santana was at dance class.
Brody wasn't taking her phone calls. Not that she was attempting to call him but he might have come in handy for a situation like this.
Mr. Schuester was in the middle of teaching a class.
After a few rings, Finn picked up.
She stopped walking and stepped off to the side of the sidewalk before she got trampled.
"Finn, how are you?"'
"I'm good, what's up?"
The news was on the tip of her tongue but never made it passed her lips. She frowned in confusion but talked herself into a lie, anyway.
"I just wanted to say congratulations on winning Regionals."
She could hear his exhale and practically see his youthful smile as he went into the set list and how awesome the kids did. She tried her best to listen and ohh'd and ahh'd at all the right moments but she couldn't deny that she felt relieved when she got off the phone with him after the five minute conversation. A conversation that ended with, I'm heading into the subway. Can I call you back later?
She stared at her cell phone, as if it was the one that betrayed her, and thumbed through her contacts. There had to be someone in her address book that she could talk to. Her heart skipped in her chest as her eyes flitted over the name. She hit send before she could talk herself out of it.
I'll hang up after the third ring, that's all, she mumbled to herself as she began walking again. Her thumb was hovering over the End button as someone answered somewhat skeptically.
"Quinn, hi. It's—It's Rachel."
She was waiting for a Rachel who? response when Quinn's voice came back over the speaker.
"Is everything okay?"
"Yeah, it's great actually, I um, I got the part."
Quinn cleared her throat carefully, it sounded like she was in the middle of eating. "What part?"
Rachel felt like slapping her palm to her forehead. She recovered with a wince, feeling bad that Quinn had no idea what she was talking about, "I auditioned for a musical. I found out today that I got the part." As she said the words, she couldn't help but feel an enormous amount of excitement course through her. She was going to be on Broadway. "Twenty minutes ago, actually."
"That's," Quinn paused temporarily, "That's really great, Rachel. I'm so proud of you."
The compliment was warm and sincere and it almost made Rachel forget what she was so worried about. She reached into her bag for her keys and began making the trek up the five flights of stairs.
"It's not the part I wanted but…"
"Well, that's okay. You have to get your foot in the door. How many lines do you have?"
Rachel nodded her head back and forth indecisively, "I'm not sure, I haven't read the entire script yet. Rehearsal starts in two weeks."
"Well, I'm sure you're going to be amazing in it."
Rachel's smile was growing wickedly out of control, "Thank you, Quinn. I was hesitant about going through with it. It all happened so fast, I barely had time to think before I said yes."
"Sometimes that's a good thing."
Perhaps Quinn could sense her uncharacteristically calm demeanor, "Will you have to take your top off?"
Rachel's laugh echoed off the stairwell, "No, I don't believe I will."
"Then I say, go for it."
Rachel's phone beeped in her ear and she pulled away to see her dad's face flash on the screen, "My dad's on the other line. Can we—"
"You can tell me about it once everything settles down."
Rachel nodded, "Oh, and Quinn?"
"I haven't told anyone yet, so would you mind not saying anything to anyone? I mean, not that you would post it on Facebook, I just meant, Santana and Kurt don't even know yet."
"Yeah sure, of course."
"Thank you." She said quickly before answering her dad's phone call.
Suddenly, she couldn't wait to tell people the good news.
Rachel was in the middle of her fourth script reading when her phone rang on the other side of the room. She tucked her lucky pen into the fold of the script and set her mug of tea down on the coffee table before she lightly jogged across the apartment before the person hung up. The alarm clock in her room read 9:18 and she couldn't for the life of her imagine who'd be calling at this hour. Kurt was at an Adam's Apples practice and he normally got escorted home by Adam after the rehearsal ended. Santana was already at work and wouldn't be back until the sun came up.
Her heart dropped when she saw who was calling. She'd completely forgotten to call Quinn back two nights ago. She got so caught up in everything, Quinn was the last person on her mind. Kurt insisted that they order takeout and watch the movie that her musical was based off of and after she spent an hour video chatting with both her fathers, she was exhausted.
"Rachel Berry speaking." Rachel masked her guilt with an overly cheerful greeting.
"Did you forget to mention something to me the other day?"
"Um…" Rachel stalled, not sure what she could have forgotten when she talked to her. It was entirely plausible that she'd left something out but could she really be blamed considering the state of shock she was in about everything?
"That little play you were casted in?"
"It's going to be on Broadway?"
"Oh," Rachel sat at the edge of her bed, "Did I forget to mention that?"
"Yes, and I had to find out through Facebook."
Rachel smiled to herself as her mind visualized people from high school sitting in front of their laptops and learning that she was cast in a Broadway play. She'd give her first paycheck to see the looks on their faces.
"I meant to call you back," she began, "Things just got crazy once everyone found out. I did tell you first, doesn't that count?"
Quinn grumbled unintelligibly over the line and sighed to herself, "I guess."
Rachel smiled, "Well, you have my undivided attention now, what would you like to know about the play?"
"Have you read the script yet?"
"Yes. It's quite amazing, actually. It's based off what people in the business call a cult classic. Empire Records, have you heard of it?"
Quinn laughed to herself, "Yeah Rach, I've heard of it. Which part did you get?"
"Well, that's a complicated and drawn out tale. Do you want to hear the whole story?"
"Sure," Quinn responded coolly.
Rachel frowned, "It's a Thursday night, why don't you have plans?"
Quinn scoffed lightly, "I'm not sure if that was criticism or a compliment but I'll ignore it."
Rachel slid off her bed and made her way back onto the couch in their makeshift living room. "Compliment."
"Well? Don't you?"
"If you must know, I had three finals this week and the last thing I feel like doing is going out."
"Where's your roommate?"
"At the library."
"Where are you?"
Quinn sighed, "I'm sitting on my bed. Are you done with the questions?"
"I just want to make sure you're not going to make me tell you the story and then have to leave halfway through it."
"You have my full attention," She began, "Wait." Rachel heard rustling on the other end of the line before Quinn said, "Okay, now you do."
Rachel settled into the couch to get more comfortable and started at the very beginning.
She opened with how she found out about the open auditions, which led to her monologue and song choices. She segued into the competition she faced and the nervousness she felt as she waited to see if she got a call back.
"Of course, my mindset at the time was that I wouldn't get one but it was an honor to even be considered."
Quinn stopped her there, "Why wouldn't they at least give you a call back. They'd be crazy."
Rachel smiled as she pushed onward through her saga. The whole ordeal lasted two weeks but Rachel could spin a story to make it seem like a year had gone by before she heard from the casting director. It was a trait that the brunette was dearly fond of. She knew how to tell a story and one day it would help her tell stories on the stage.
Kurt came home and offered a silent wave as he walked by. Rachel mouthed hello to him as she twirled her hair around her index finger and laughed at something Quinn said. Kurt rolled his eyes good naturedly as he continued on into his bedroom. It was a bit of a welcomed sight, to see Rachel so carefree and genuinely happy when she'd been so quiet and rigid the past two weeks.
He hung his jacket and unbuttoned his shirt as he listened to Rachel's voice as she recounted everything he already lived through with her. He hummed to himself, Like a G6, the new song they arranged earlier that night at rehearsal and thought about what he was going to make for a late dinner.
He was glad to see his Rachel back, and maybe this was the calm before the storm, but he was equally glad that she seemed so light and airy. He'd never heard her laugh like that. Not even when Brody used to live there, and trust him, he heard plenty of giggling.
He mentally ran through a man check-list in his head on his way to the refrigerator. An old flame resurfaced? Oh the drama that could unfold. A new leading man? Still, oh the drama that could unfold. Jesse St. James? Oh, how he wished. You know, for drama purposes. Best friend to Rachel Berry he was, but he'd always be a gossip at heart.
He grabbed the Tupperware of lettuce and began pulling out toppings and dressing choices for his late night salad, having to make the most of what he had when he caught the tail end of Rachel's sentence.
"Yeah, I'd love to see you try, Quinn."
And that was just about the only thing he wasn't prepared to hear. The glass bottle of salad dressing lay on the floor next to his rapidly bruising bare foot. He tried his best to hold in the whimper once the pain registered and the jig he did was doing nothing but bringing attention to himself.
Maybe he misheard or misunderstood.
"Wait, hold on, Quinn. Kurt? Are you okay?"
Oh, the drama that would unfold.
"No, no, no. All wrong." The choreographer sighed in exasperation as he held the bridge of his nose, "Monica, your eyes should be on Jack the entire time. This is the big number, people. It's what the audience wants to see. And Rachel? You must make sure you make eye contact with Jackie. It's your big reveal. It needs to be conveyed."
Rachel nodded breathlessly as she took her starting position in front of the mirror in the large studio. They were a week into choreography and the schedule was grueling. Between finishing up her finals at NYADA, table readings, costume fittings, dance classes, learning her lines, and figuring out her stage cues; she was run ragged. She didn't even bother working out on her elliptical in the morning, she certainly no longer needed the workout.
She hadn't seen Kurt in a few days. He was normally out with friends when she came home to crash at the end of the night. And she was up and at 'em at the crack of dawn while he soaked up a few more minutes of sleep. She ran into Santana a few times at all hours of the day. Rachel wasn't quite sure of the girl's schedule or what she did with her time when she wasn't working but she could hardly stick around to bring it up in conversation. Santana would tell her things, here and there, which Rachel normally forgot about as soon as she was out the door. What the hell is Silk? Who deleted Princesses: Long Island from the DVR? Why are you sweating so much?
She spoke to her fathers once a week, which they weren't exactly happy about, but they understood it. They gushed and boasted about how people in Lima were coming up to them for their autographs. Someone, though Rachel was beginning to wonder if they were imaginary, even asked if they could take a tour of her childhood home.
She received tons of Facebook requests on a daily basis, and almost as many emails, though she generally only skimmed the list in search of a few particular names, and logged out of her account when she didn't find the name she was looking for.
She was sort of famous now, to people in the know, at least, but she refused to let it get to her head. Sure, she was beyond busy now and that was the main reason why she hadn't really talked to anyone in a while, but there was one person who she responded to, regardless of what she was doing.
It was summertime in the city and Rachel was nearly melting. When she moved to New York the previous September for school, the temperature hadn't been that bad. The winter was obviously cold, brutal some days with the wind factor, but she didn't mind because it was her first winter in New York and she thought it was glamorous. The spring brought her much anticipated sunshine, with a few cases of torrential downpours. But the summer? As Santana tended to say, holy sweet hell. Hell didn't even begin to cover it.
Kurt and Santana traveled back to Lima for the McKinley graduation but Rachel's rigorous schedule just wouldn't allow it. The musical was starting to pick up more and more press. Small little interviews here and there had the theatergoers, not to mention fans of the movie, buzzing with excitement. The cast was invited to Good Day New York earlier in the week for a quick two-minute promo and she received an influx of calls and messages about the cameo on television. It had been a defining moment in the career of Rachel Berry.
Her phone buzzed as she waited for the change from the coffee order. She walked away from the stand, forgetting the three dollars, and quickly answered.
"Thought you'd be too busy to take my call."
Rachel laughed, "Of course not."
Though, had it been anyone else, she's not sure she would have answered. She was already running late for the first dress rehearsal.
"Well, apparently you're a hard girl to reach," Quinn continued conversationally.
"What do you mean?"
"No one has really talked to you in a while."
Rachel bit her lip. Busted. "You must have just caught me at a good time," she lied.
"MmHmm, what are you doing?"
She looked up at the awning she was standing under, "Walking to rehearsal."
"How's it going?"
"Great," she lied again, ignoring the nagging in her mind to unload all of her problems onto the blonde. That wasn't why she called, Rachel reminded herself. "Couldn't be better."
"Everyone here is really proud of you."
At this, Rachel couldn't help but forget all about her difficult cast mate. She couldn't really think of anything except everyone she left behind in her hometown, and the few that she wished were here with her now.
Quinn laughed, "I'm with them all now. They say hello."
In the background she could hear the various shouts of hi Rachel and it brought a watery smile to her face. She didn't realize how badly she needed this phone call. She was just so stressed. She was starting to believe that she was in way over her head.
"Are Kurt and Santana coming back soon? Don't tell them, especially not Santana, but I miss them."
Quinn chuckled into the phone, the sounds of the others drowning out, "Yeah, in a few days they said."
Rachel nodded, a few days wasn't so bad. She was afraid she wouldn't see them until school started up again in September.
"Well, tell everyone that I said hello," She replied, flinching slightly as her voice cracked with emotion.
"Hey," Quinn prompted softly as the background noise quieted down, "Are you okay?"
Rachel shook her head, feeling utterly foolish for crying on the busy sidewalk, and wiped at her cheeks with a sniffle, "Of course. Just a lot going on," she vaguely responded. "I'm fine, Quinn."
The blonde sighed over the phone, "I'll let you get back to rehearsal."
"Thank you for calling, Quinn."
"Bye," Rachel replied as she hung up the phone and exhaled deeply as she tried to get her feelings in check.
Well, on the bright side, she definitely had some emotional ammo she could use during her character's heartfelt scene at the end of Act 1. With one more deep breath, she eyed the subway station and prepared herself to go into the hot, humid, sticky New York underground.
As she walked the five flights up to her apartment, she couldn't shake the confrontation she had with her cast mate. She wasn't particularly nice, which helped considerably when they had scenes together, since their characters don't exactly like one another. But still, her critique of how Rachel portrayed the character was a little harsh. She was still trying to figure out if it was true. It wasn't Rachel's fault that she got the part that the girl originally auditioned for. You didn't see Rachel attacking said girl for getting the part Rachel auditioned for, did you? No. Because Rachel was a professional. If she had constructive criticism for her cast mates, which certainly she had, she shared it in a professional manner. She didn't corner people after rehearsal with a blindside of everything they were doing wrong. Rachel had been slightly hurt. She was under the impression that she was doing a great job.
She heaved open the heavy door to her apartment, absolutely spent after a long and torturous day at the theater, and thought about what on earth she would scrounge up for dinner. If she would even eat at all. She was too tired to even think about food, to be honest.
She wanted to draw a bath and fall asleep in it for ten hours. At least she had a later start the following morning, she could sleep in for a bit, which for the first time in her life, she couldn't wait to do.
She looked up to find Kurt beaming at her from the kitchen as he opened Chinese food take out containers. He set one down and jogged across the studio apartment to greet his long lost roommate.
Rachel dropped her bags to the ground and nearly collapsed with relief at having a familiar face around.
"Is that my little midget?" Santana called from the vicinity of the bathroom before coming out to meet her, "Finally, the food was getting cold."
Rachel was too tired to even realized that Santana was hugging her and not in a sarcastic kind of way.
"How long have you been here?" she asked, feeling herself overcome with emotion. She just spent a good portion of the day in tears as they rehearsed a particular scene over and over again, she wasn't sure that she had any tears in her body to spare.
"A few hours."
Rachel looked up.
Yup. Definitely still had tears.
"Quinn? What are you?" she looked at Santana as the girl stepped back before bringing her eyes back to the blonde, who made her way out from behind one of the many curtains in the apartment, "What are you doing here?"
Quinn shrugged with a smile.
Kurt guided the brunette further into the apartment and pulled a chair for her to sit at the table.
"Lima was kind of boring," Quinn finally answered as she took a seat next to the brunette. Santana sat opposite of Quinn as Kurt grabbed the Brita filter and cups. "You look exhausted."
"Yes. Rachel, when is the last time you had a proper meal?" Kurt asked, genuinely concerned.
Rachel lowered her eyes in embarrassment, not being able to recall a meal that she hadn't purchased from a street vendor or hadn't scarfed down in between rehearsals.
"I'm fine guys, really."
Santana's arched eyebrow intimidated her, no matter how many times it'd been used against her, and she looked back down as she fiddled with her fingers, "Yeah, there's no way you're going out tonight with us."
Rachel lifted her head quickly as Quinn scooped rice onto her plate, "Going out where?"
"We thought we'd all go out in proper celebration of you landing the role." Kurt supplied as he sifted through the opened cartons of food in search of his chicken.
"Aw, you guys, really?"
Santana held up her hands, "Everybody calm down, it's one of the reasons we're going out."
Rachel shook her head, once again overcome with emotion. Everything was happening so fast and it all felt so normal. She missed it. She missed Santana's snark, and she missed food, and she couldn't even begin to think about how much she missed the blonde to her left. It'd been almost five months.
"I'd love to…"
"But?" Kurt raised an eyebrow in anticipation, "I know you Rachel Berry and that's as hesitant as you can be."
She wanted to tell them thank you but no thank you, that their offer was seriously appreciated and meant the world to her but she was in no mood to go out. She wanted nothing more than a bath, sweatpants, and maybe a movie on the couch.
She glanced around the table at the skeptical expressions and couldn't see herself letting down the friends that came back a day early to take her out to celebrate.
She choked out another watery smile and shook her head, "Nothing. I'd love to."
Quinn handed her a fork and Rachel reached blindly for the closest carton to her and began shoveling food onto her plate.
They caught up while they ate. Kurt had plenty to say about the graduation and how Blaine couldn't stop talking about moving to New York which troubled him the more he thought about it. He wasn't ready to give up his freedom in the city he called his home. Santana gushed about Brittany and her acceptance to MIT, asking Quinn how much those fancy Metro passes were and if they existed from New York to Boston. Quinn shrugged quietly and said she'd help her find out.
Rachel kept quiet through most of the conversation, choosing to listen rather than delve into all the drama she'd been dealing with over the past two weeks or so. When a question was directed at her, she smiled and skimmed the surface. Just enough to be telling the truth but not enough to cause alarm.
Once they were done eating, Rachel excused herself in order to take a shower and she took the time to give her a small pep talk in the mirror.
"You can do this," she said lowly to her reflection, "A few hours with your friends and you can come back to go to sleep." She nodded and got into the shower, washing the subway grime and sweat off of her body. And also the words that her cast mate said to her, in a figurative sense, of course.
She got dressed silently, listening as her two roommates bickered about outfit choices and where they would go first. It took her far longer than necessary since she was starting to drag her feet but she was finally dressed. Inside the mind of Rachel Berry was a terrible place to live at times.
The small knock on her doorframe caused her to look up and whisper a soft, "Come in." Quinn appeared from behind the curtain and walked into the room.
"Are you okay?" she asked, concerned and worried. The exact opposite of how Quinn sounded in high school. "You're really quiet."
Rachel blew out a shaky breath and turned back to glance at herself in the mirror. Quinn was dressed and ready to go. Perfect as always. Rachel hadn't even started her makeup or hair yet.
"MmHmm," Rachel hummed as she closed her eyes, willing Quinn to leave her room so the brunette could have a moment to herself.
She really didn't know what was wrong with her. Maybe her day was doomed from the start. She stubbed her toe on the sidewalk, somehow missed her first train by a few minutes, watched helplessly as the shuttle train closed its doors on her face, arrived late for rehearsal, had to produce fake tears for nearly two hours, and on top of that, had to take shit from her cast member about not playing her role correctly.
She couldn't even enjoy the fact that her roommates and Quinn were in the apartment, getting ready to go out for a celebration of her accomplishments. She loved celebrating her accomplishments. It was her favorite pastime behind practicing her autograph and sending fan mail to Barbra.
"Rachel?" Quinn stepped further into the room and continued until she was standing directly behind the brunette. Rachel opened her eyes to find Quinn studying her in the mirror, "What's wrong?"
Rachel shook her head again, unable to contain the tears as they spilled from her eyes, and brought a hand up to cover her mouth as a sob somehow escaped passed her lips.
"Shh," Quinn cooed softly into her ear as she wrapped her arms around the petite girl, "Shh, it's okay." She softly soothed her unruly hair as she attempted to somehow calm Rachel down.
It was so silly. Rachel couldn't for the life of her figure out why she was so emotional and she felt so very foolish that Quinn not only was witnessing it but attempting to talk her through her unnecessary tears.
"Talk to me," Quinn said quietly, "Why are you so upset?"
Rachel sobbed against the blonde's chest and tightened her own grip around the girl, afraid that Quinn would suddenly vanish into thin air.
"Do you want me to leave?" Rachel's grip grew tighter and frantic. "Okay, Okay," she whispered, and began rubbing the girl's back.
After what felt like ten minutes Rachel sniffed, "They're going to be mad at me."
Quinn attempted to pull back the slightest bit to see the brunette's face, "Who?"
Rachel stepped away and tried to wipe the wetness from her cheeks. Her eyes, bloodshot and swollen, as she attempted to get control of herself. It was starting to get embarrassing.
"Them," she pointed towards the door.
Quinn looked over her shoulder, "Kurt and Santana?" Rachel nodded, "Why?"
She felt a fresh wave of tears come on as her face scrunched in anguish, "I don't want to go out."
"Okay," the blonde replied gently, "You don't have to."
"T-there gonna be m-mad," she stuttered through her hysterics and Quinn wasn't sure what to make of it. She'd never seen Rachel like this.
Her expression melted and her heart actually ached for the girl across from her. She held her arms out, "Come here." Rachel allowed herself to be swallowed up in the comforting arms of Quinn Fabray, "You don't have to do anything you don't want to do, okay?"
Rachel nodded against her and felt the arms tighten around for a split second before they relaxed.
"Ready to go?" Her body tensed involuntarily as she heard Santana's muffled voice make it to her ears. "What's wrong with her?"
She could hear Quinn's response echo through her body, her ear pressed firmly against the girl's chest, and shut her eyes tighter. Quinn's hands never stopped rubbing reassuring circles across her back as she answered, "You guys go ahead."
"Rach?" Santana said, something akin to fear accompanying her words, "Are you okay?"
Through her haze, Rachel realized the last time she was remotely anywhere near that emotional around Santana, she thought she was pregnant.
She could feel Quinn nodding her head, "Just a long day."
"Rach, sweetie?" Kurt said, "We don't have to go out. We can stay in and rent a movie."
"No," Rachel whispered softly into Quinn's blouse.
Quinn shook her head, "It's fine. You guys should go."
Rachel detached herself from Quinn's embrace and stepped away from her all together, quickly turning around so the others couldn't see the state she was in.
"We don't want to leave you here if you're this upset about something, do you want to talk about it?"
Eventually everyone left her bedroom and she heard mumblings from the living room but she took the time to get her shit together. She glanced at herself in the mirror. A wreck. Actually, a train wreck was a way more accurate description.
Heels walked back and forth across the hardwood floor, the talking subsided, and eventually she heard the apartment door slide open and closed. She exhaled and fanned her face. She'd stopped crying, at least. Now if only she could figure out why she was crying in the first place. She walked over to her clothing rack and grabbed her matching pajama set so she could get changed.
She walked out of her bedroom, in search of her bag that housed her script and rehearsal clothes, and came face to face with Quinn as she sat on the couch, a book open in her lap.
"You're still here," Rachel whispered hoarsely before clearing her throat.
Quinn stood up, "I can go," she pointed over her shoulder, "We agreed someone should stay in case you needed something."
Rachel scoffed despite herself. She was the one that told them to leave, she wasn't allowed to be upset when they actually did leave, "Drew the short straw?"
"Actually, I insisted."
Rachel watched her, "Why?"
She shrugged, "Do you want to talk about it?"
Rachel shook her head and continued on into the kitchen in search of a steaming hot mug of tea. She could feel Quinn following her so she pulled down two mugs and started the burner.
She turned around to face Quinn again and leant against the counter, "You don't have to stay if you don't want to, Quinn. You can go out and enjoy yourself while you're here. You don't have to babysit me."
"I'm not. Like I said, I wanted to stay."
"Why?" Quinn was silent, "Because you're worried I'll have another emotional breakdown?"
Hazel eyes snapped up to meet Rachel's, "I'm worried about you."
Rachel shook her head, "You don't need to be. It's just been a long day. I'm exhausted."
Quinn took a seat at the kitchen table, "Maybe so, but still. I know something has you upset."
"It's not a big deal."
"So then tell me."
Rachel shook her head and averted her eyes to the floor. Something about Quinn's tone, so careful and sincere, it was familiar to her but she was still skeptical. Since moving to New York, she'd grown somewhat of an exterior skin. She was tougher now, thanks in part to Cassie July, and she'd developed somewhat of the standard New York attitude. She took people at face value and nothing surprised her anymore. Still, remnants of the hopeful Rachel Berry still resurfaced from time to time. Part of her didn't want to unload her burden onto Quinn because she was a New Yorker now, she could deal with it herself. But a bigger, more insisting part of her craved to tell her tale and be reassured that she had every right to be upset.
She gave one last sad and pathetic attempt to detour the conversation, "You don't want to hear about it."
Quinn's eyes were on hers when she looked back up. Calm. Controlled. Exactly the way Rachel always remembered her to be. "Tell me."
Rachel sighed, as if it was a serious inconvenience to her already inconvenient day, and Quinn rolled her eyes as she patted the wooden chair next to her at the table.
Rachel sat down heavily and began picking at the unfurnished wood with her unpolished fingernail.
"Have you seen the movie?"
"Empire Records?" Quinn clarified and Rachel nodded, "Yes. I have."
"As you know, I auditioned for the role of Corey," she paused and looked at the blonde, "portrayed famously by Liv Tyler."
"Yes, I'm aware. But you got the role of Deb."
Rachel nodded and went back to tracing her initials into the table, "A rough around the edges, hard to tame delinquent with a screw the man attitude. Emotionally she's a roller coaster but she's growing on me. It's my first role. I want to do it justice."
"So what's the problem?"
"The problem isn't a what, it's a who." Rachel huffed, "Monica."
"The girl who originally auditioned for the role I got. We sort of flip-flopped."
"So, what's her problem? Is she mad that you took her part?"
Rachel rolled her eyes. Just the thought of Monica was enough to get her blood boiling.
Quinn waited for the other shoe to drop. "And…?"
"My character is gay. She doesn't think I'm doing the part justice! She thinks that she would do a much better job. She said I was being emotionally lazy. That I didn't understand the trials and tribulations of gay youth. That I was all wrong."
"Okay, okay," Quinn held her hands up, eyes wide from the outburst. "What exactly does she want you to do about it?"
"I don't know. She said I needed to take lessons."
Quinn shook her head, "Okay well that's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard." She scooted her chair closer, "Rachel, straight actors play gay characters all the time. Same with gay actors playing straight. You don't need to be gay to play someone that's gay."
"What if she's right? What if I don't truly understand because I'm not gay? What if I'm not doing the role justice?"
After all, that was her biggest fear.
"There's no handbook you read that tells you how to be gay. Everyone is different."
"I know that."
"So, you play the character the way you think she should be played. Being gay doesn't define your character." The tea kettle began to whistle on the stove and Quinn held her hand up so Rachel would stay seated. "It sounds to me like she's just bitter. You got the better role because you deserve it."
Rachel watched as Quinn poured the hot water into the mug and dipped the tea bags in.
"I just feel like it would help me if I had some kind of role model to take notes from."
Quinn laughed as she squeezed honey into their cups, "Just because Monica would play the role differently from you doesn't make her way the right way."
"It would make me feel better if I had some kind of experience."
"Your dads are gay." Quinn pointed out as she moved to the fridge to grab the lemon juice, "So, are both your roommates."
Rachel sat up, "Do you think Santana would let me follow her around for a few days?"
Quinn nearly spilled the mugs as she lifted them from the counter, "Absolutely not."
Rachel accepted the hot mug of tea from Quinn and sat back in her chair, "You're right. Besides, I need someone that's more like Deb, you know? Real 90s with that screw authority vibe." Rachel squinted her eyes, determination already seeping into her veins.
Quinn blew on the liquid before taking a tentative sip, she didn't even realize she made her tea wrong. She was a milk and sugar girl, not honey and lemon.
"Why is Deb gay, anyway? She's not in the movie."
Rachel swallowed and set her mug down, "The writers decided that it was exactly what the play needed to give it that extra umph. And it's currently politically relevant. There's a lot of buzz around it." She attempted to hide her smirk but it showed through regardless, "I've heard a certain word that starts with a T and ends with an ony but it was just a whisper. Way too early to get into those types of discussions."
Still, Rachel was excited.
Which was all the more reason to really put everything into her character.
Quinn smiled around her mug as she took another sip, the honey and lemon wasn't so bad, "Well, there are plenty of movies you can watch to get some pointers. Not that I think you need any, but if it will make you feel better."
"Really?" Rachel's interest was piqued. "Like what?"
Quinn shrugged and stood from the chair, "I'm sure Santana has some in her secret box under her bed."
"Santana has a secret box under her bed?"
Quinn glanced down incredulously, "Seriously? She tears this apartment apart on a weekly basis and you don't even know about her secret box?"
"She's still doing that? How do you know?"
Quinn laughed and walked into the girl's room, "She calls me if there's a good find."
Rachel huffed and began tapping her nails on the wooden table top as she waited for Quinn to come back. She couldn't believe Santana was still going through their things. And that she was calling Quinn if there was something worth sharing. How embarrassing. She hoped Quinn wasn't contacted when Santana found her pregnancy test.
She got up from her chair, grabbed a few blankets, and threw herself onto the couch and continued to drink her tea. She wasn't sure exactly what the blonde was doing but she couldn't help but feel the slightest bit relieved that Quinn had wanted to stay in with her. And she could admit she was feeling so much better after she'd told someone about her rude cast mate.
"Okay, so," Quinn began as she walked back into the living room, freshly changed into her pajamas, "I found a movie from the 90s that we could watch."
Rachel sat up and held her hand out for Quinn to pass the movie, "But I'm a Cheerleader?" she flipped over the DVD case in order to read the back cover, "A naive teenager is sent to rehab camp when her straitlaced parents and friends suspect her of being a lesbian." She looked back up at Quinn, "Are you sure?"
Quinn shrugged, "It wouldn't hurt to watch, but it's up to you."
Rachel drew her lower lip between her teeth, "Okay, as long as you don't mind."
Quinn held her hand out so Rachel could give her the DVD case, "I don't mind."
Rachel tiptoed quietly around the loft as she gathered together all the things she'd need for her long day of rehearsals. Quinn was still fast asleep on their couch and Kurt and Santana wouldn't be up for at least another two hours. She didn't want to wake any of them pre-maturely. She accidently woke Santana up before her alarm one morning and the brunette never let her forget it.
She quietly placed the note she wrote Quinn on the coffee table and made her way out of the apartment.
I think the movie really gave me inspiration and I'm seeing my character in a whole new light. Can you see if Santana has any more movies in her secret box? Maybe we can watch another tonight?
She closed her apartment door as softly as she could and began the trek to the theatre. Her mind was still occupied with scenes from the movie from the night before and working out ways she could incorporate some of the things she learned into her character.
She could still feel the heat that rose to her cheeks during the intimate sex scene and wanted her performance to evoke that in the audience. Watching the movie with Quinn was a start, but she wanted to learn more and hoped the blonde wouldn't mind. She'd be mortified if she watched it with Santana, the girl tended to add her own commentary to everything and she just knew that Santana would do her very best to embarrass her if they watched a lesbian sex scene together. Kurt would probably close his eyes and shriek in horror. But Quinn, she watched quietly and didn't laugh or make fun like she was expecting her to. She just turned towards Rachel as the credits rolled and asked, "So… what did you think?"
Rachel smiled shyly and nodded and Quinn returned it. It wasn't the awkward torture she thought it might be. She enjoyed it tremendously.
Her morning commute was filled with heavy contemplation but she felt lighter. She wasn't worried about another confrontation from her cast mate and she was no longer scared she wasn't doing her character justice. She was going to portray Deb how she felt she should be portrayed.
She hummed as she skipped up the five flights of stairs to her apartment and smiled as she heard the sounds of her roommates from the other side of the door.
Rehearsal went great. The director even called her out to praise her during one scene. She's far from satisfied with the character but it just reaffirmed that she was on the right track.
"Hi!" she chimed as she waltzed into the apartment.
"You seem to be in better spirits," Kurt called from the couch, "Rehearsal went okay?"
"It did. And I have a rare day off tomorrow."
"Well, look at you."
"How was your night last night?" Rachel asked as she began putting away her things in order to change into something a little more comfortable.
"Not bad, Santana ditched me again."
Rachel smiled good-naturedly, Santana tended to do that to them.
"But I did meet a potential husband while I was out searching for her so all is forgiven."
"She's taking a nap in your room."
Rachel frowned before slowly peeking her head into her doorway to confirm Kurt's story. The brunette looked back to the boy in question.
He shrugged, "That's where I found her. Her and Santana did the whole tourist thing today so she's probably exhausted."
Rachel took her boots off and quietly entered her room to find a change of clothes. She did her best to stay silent but eventually the covers rustled and Quinn sat up bleary eyed and confused.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to wake you."
"What time is it?" she asked through a yawn.
Quinn threw herself back onto the pillows and sighed, "I didn't mean to sleep that long."
"How long have you been sleeping?"
Rachel turned around with a curious gaze, "Did you not get enough sleep last night?"
Their movie ended around 11 and Rachel retreated into her room at around midnight, and she just assumed Quinn would have fallen right to sleep. She didn't get woken up by Santana or Kurt when they came home but maybe they'd woken Quinn up.
"No, yeah, I guess it was just a long day today."
Rachel lifted her shirt over her head to change into something else.
"Sorry, I'm in your bed. I was planning on being awake before you got home."
"Not to worry. It's comfortable, isn't it?"
She finished getting dressed and walked over to take a seat against the headboard.
"How was rehearsal?" Quinn asked as she turned to face the brunette, "Did that Monica girl give you any more trouble?"
Rachel failed at hiding her smile, "No." She could still see the look on Monica's face when the director praised her during a crucial scene walkthrough.
"Well, that's good." Quinn picked at the blanket while the silence lingered between them.
"So, you went out with Santana today?"
Quinn laughed softly to herself, "Sort of. She met some girl for lunch so—"
"She left you, too?"
"I didn't mind, I found this second hand bookstore next to a coffee shop."
"Still, she shouldn't have left you to fend for yourself."
Rachel still wasn't convinced. Santana tended to go off on her own when she was with Kurt and Rachel but they'd been living there for quite some time, they knew how to get around. Quinn was a small town girl attending school in a slightly larger town. She was nowhere near as well versed in getting around by herself. A number of things could have gone wrong.
"Well, not to worry, I have a day off tomorrow. I won't leave you stranded like she did."
Quinn rolled her eyes, "Anyway, I snuck another movie from Santana's secret box."
Rachel sat up a bit, "Oh?"
"Yeah, I wasn't sure if you wanted to watch—"
Quinn laughed, "Okay."
"Are you hungry? There's a pizza place around the corner, we could go grab some food while we wait until the TV frees up."
"I could eat."
Rachel slid off her bed, "What movie did you find?"
"It's called Bound."
Quinn took her time getting out of the bed, "Don't you want to know what it's about?"
"Does it have a lesbian relationship in it?"
"That's all I need to know."
Rachel continued to stare at her ceiling, the sex scene from the movie her and Quinn watched earlier was still replaying in her mind. She'd never seen something so exciting, so vivid.
Her palms tingled at the very thought.
She'd watched scenes of that variety in the past but none of them stuck with her as long as this one currently was. Maybe she'd seen so many movies where the romantic leads were a man and a woman that she'd become desensitized to it. Maybe the fact that it was two women falling for each other was what made it so new and intriguing.
She glanced toward her alarm clock, it was nearly one in the morning. Had she really been staring at the ceiling for two hours contemplating what she'd watched and the effect it had on her? It was by no means a cinematic masterpiece but she couldn't shake the images out of her head.
She quietly slipped out of bed and tiptoed into the kitchen for a glass of water when she caught movement out of the corner of her eye.
"You're still up?" she asked Quinn, who was sitting on the couch with another book in her lap.
Quinn looked up, startled, and smiled sheepishly, "I guess that three hour nap I took earlier is throwing off my sleep schedule."
Rachel was skeptical, "Is the couch okay?"
Rachel narrowed her eyes and walked closer, "It's hurting your back, isn't it?"
Quinn sighed, "It's fine."
"C'mon," she held her hand out, "You can sleep in my bed."
"What? No. It's fine, really."
"You keep saying that. I know the couch can't be that comfortable to sleep on, especially for someone that's recently been partially paralyzed. You can't honestly tell me you'd rather sleep on the couch when I'm offering my bed."
"And where will you sleep?"
"I've shared my bed plenty of times," it was out in the open before she could really understand what it implied and she covered her mouth with her hand to hide her embarrassment, "I just meant, it's big enough for two."
Quinn laughed and took her hand, wincing as she stood, "It just acts up from time to time. It's hard to sleep."
"Is that why you napped so long today? You didn't sleep last night?"
"That, and I was walking around the city all day."
Quinn walked around to the opposite side of Rachel's bed and sighed to herself as she lay down.
Rachel could feel the bed shifting a bit and hear the sheets rustling as Quinn got more comfortable. And then, silence. The apartment was quiet. Both Santana and Kurt were in their rooms sleeping and all that could be heard were the few fans they had scattered around the loft. Silence was so much different when you were sharing it with someone. You could hear their breathing, wondering if they were thinking about the silence as much as you were.
Quinn cleared her throat and released a soft sigh letting the brunette know she was still awake.
"Why didn't you say anything about your back if it was bothering you?" she asked softly.
The sheets rustled again as Quinn turned her head to face her, "It's not a big deal."
"Does it hurt often?"
"It's just sore. I'm used to sleeping in my bed at school and then I went home and slept in my bed there and then here on the couch, it's just different."
"Can I get you Advil or anything? I think Santana has something stronger."
"Rachel, I'm fine."
Rachel scooted further down the bed and turned to face the blonde. In the dim lighting coming through her hazy windows she could see that Quinn had her eyes closed.
"Do you think we could watch another movie tomorrow?"
She licked her lips, "Sure, did you have one in mind?"
"I've been doing research."
Quinn cracked a smile, "Oh yeah?"
"Yes," she replied as she reached over to her nightstand and grabbed the small notebook she kept there. She flipped open to the page and used the light from her cell phone to scan the list of movies she'd jotted down from her earlier Internet search. "Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls In Love."
Rachel looked over to gage Quinn's reaction, her eyes were open and on her, "I'll see if Santana has it in her box."
Rachel nodded and was about to put her notebook back when Quinn's hand hit it, "Can I look at this list?"
Rachel watched as Quinn read it over and was hoping to gage some type of reaction out of her but the blonde was unreadable. As per usual. Even during the vivid sex scene they watched earlier, Quinn hadn't batted an eyelash. Rachel thought her face was on fire.
"You're being surprisingly okay with the fact that I'm asking you to watch movies with gay characters. It doesn't bother you that it's how you're spending your mini-vacation?"
"Have you seen any of them before?"
Quinn continued to read the list before handing it back to Rachel. She turned over onto her back and closed her eyes, "No."
Quinn eventually had to go back to Lima after spending three more days in Rachel's apartment, but they were able to watch three more movies and it was really starting to help her. She felt a million times better about being cast in her role than she did before Quinn had come to town.
She fell back into her normal routine of long days, scarce meals, and stressing out over scenes. She could see the faint looks of worry in Kurt's eye and she even caught sporadic glimpses of concern on Santana's face. One new addition to her daily routine came as a surprise but she was adamant on keeping up on it, and that was talking to Quinn. Whether it was a quick email at the end of a long day, a brief phone call as she was walking to the rehearsal space, or a text conversation that seemed to be just random comments or words of encouragement, she made sure her and Quinn stayed in touch over the summer.
She wasn't sure when she'd be able to visit Ohio again, or when Quinn would be able to come back to New York. The round trip fare from New York to Ohio was fairly pricey regardless of transportation mode.
She was looking forward to the end of August, when Quinn would be back in New Haven, when it was just a two-hour train ride. She was planning on purchasing the metro passes this time around as an early Christmas present, and this time she intended to take full advantage of them.
It was the end of July and the summer heat was sweltering. She stepped out onto the busy sidewalk and attempted to breath in fresh air but it just felt hot in her lungs. She could feel the sweat pooling at her lower back but was too hot to care considering just about everyone in the city was just as drenched.
She grabbed her phone out of her bag and checked her messages: one from her dad, and another from Kurt asking if she'd be home in time for dinner.
She thumbed through and rapid fired a quick response before calling Quinn.
"Can you talk?"
"Sure, what's up?"
"I had my sex scene rehearsal today."
Quinn cleared her throat, "How did it go?"
"Good, I guess. Nerve-wracking."
"It was very strange to be so intimate in front of so many people."
Quinn chuckled, "There's going to be a lot more people when the show opens. Speaking of, when does it open?"
"We start previews mid august and it opens in September."
"Right around the corner."
"I'm nowhere near prepared."
"Sure you are."
"I know you'll be busy when school starts but would you mind—"
"Would you mind coming to the show when it opens?"
She knew it was a lot to ask to make the trip down when she had a life of her own, especially because it coincided with Quinn's first week of school but Rachel really wanted the blonde to see the show after spending nearly all summer talking about it.
"I wouldn't miss it."
Rachel blew out a breath of relief and laughed, "I thought you wouldn't want to come."
"Why would you think that?"
"I don't know."
"Hey, so, I found a movie we could watch on Skype. Santana recommended it. Are you free tonight?"
Rachel stopped outside the subway steps so she could finish the conversation.
"Yeah, I'm done for the day. What is it?"
"It's called Show Me Love. It's foreign though, there are subtitles, is that okay?"
"Okay, text me after you eat and I'll come online."
"Are you at the subway yet?"
Rachel laughed, "You always know."
"I'll talk to you later."
re: (no subject)
Sorry it took so long to get back to you!
Previews are going great (I think) and everyone seems really pleased with the direction we are headed. I haven't read any critiques yet so I could be terribly wrong. How is Lima? Are you getting ready to move back to school? I hope you're not leaving all your packing until the last minute.
Monica came up to me today and said that I really surprised her with the direction I took my character. I could tell it took a lot out of her to compliment me so I told her that she was doing a good job as well. (Even though she could be doing a few things differently)
I've been thinking, we've watched a ton of movies as research and they really helped me develop a sense of presence on the stage as a lesbian role and I had a thought that I wanted to run by you. Empire records was a coming of age tale in the mid 90s and that's what years we've been focusing on as far as our movie watching has gone but Empire Records: The Musical is a coming of age tale in the 2010s. I think it would really benefit me if we watched some newer movies. What do you say?
I've attached a list below according to year they were released.
Lost and Delirious – 2001
Kissing Jessica Stein – 2002
D.E.B.S. – 2004
Imagine Me & You – 2005
Loving Annabelle – 2006
I Can't Think Straight – 2008
Room in Rome – 2010
Kiss Me – 2011
re: re: (no subject)
It's fine. I know you're busy being a broadway superstar. Even though we just got off the phone, I'll respond to your email like you asked.
Lima is lima. I can't wait to get back to school. I think I'm going to take summer classes next year. Two months in Lima without anything to do is torture. All of my friends are gone.
That's awesome that previews are going good. Opening night is around the corner and I'm sure it will be perfect. I can't believe monica complimented you. I guess our research is paying off. Speaking of our research, I think that's a good idea. You should stay with the times and learn how gay characters are portrayed in the media not only in the 90s but in the decade your musical takes place. I'm still interested to see how all this will play out on the stage, from what you've shared, it seems like it will be different from the movie but with similar qualities.
As for the movies, I think I remember seeing some of those titles in Santana's secret box. I was thinking of coming to new york this weekend before I have to head back up to school, I know you're busy with everything so if you can't then it's okay. But we can watch a few while I'm there.
I'm sure you're about to call me so I'll talk to you soon.
The smile on her lips still lingered from the climatic scene where the two leads finally got together. She felt Quinn shift next to her and eyed her out of the corner of her eye. It was like clockwork.
"So, what did you think?"
Rachel felt her smile grow and ducked her head into the pillow she was curled up with.
Quinn smiled and nudged her with her foot, eventually the brunette resurfaced.
"Okay, I think that one was my favorite so far."
The blonde rolled her eyes, "You said that about the last one."
"No but this one," she trailed off. "This one." She sighed and hid her face again to hide her smile.
"Look at you," Quinn joked.
"I'm sorry, that was just a really great movie."
Quinn aimed the remote towards the TV and turned it off. It was debrief time.
She laid her head on the arm of the couch and studied the brunette for a moment before curbing her smile, "Okay, tell me why."
Rachel mimicked her from the opposite end of the couch, "Okay well, I thought both leads were very attractive."
"Okay, what else?"
"I liked them, ya know? I was rooting for them to get together. Even though one had a husband. I actually liked all the characters. And the storyline and the reoccurring theme, and the way they finally got together. And the song. My heart is still pounding. Not to mention one of the character's names was Rachel."
Quinn chuckled, "And Luce."
Rachel's mouth opened in amusement, "I didn't even realize."
Quinn shrugged and tucked her lower lip between her teeth.
"So did you like it?"
She continued to gnaw gently on her lip, "I did. So Imagine Me & You goes onto the watch again list."
"Definitely. It makes me sad though," Rachel continued.
"How so? The ending was happy, wasn't it?"
"Oh yes, I loved the ending but at the same time the ending made me sad because it made me realize that no one is going to run through the streets of New York not caring how foolish they look because they're in love with me."
Quinn laughed, "Ah like the grand romantic gesture?"
Rachel sat up a bit, her excitement unable to be contained, "Yeah, like running through an airport to stop someone from getting on a plane."
"Or showing up on someone's doorstep at 2 in the morning because you absolutely cannot wait another second to see them."
Rachel's eyes glazed over a bit as she pictured the scenarios in her head, "Yeah."
"Is there a grand romantic gesture scene in your musical?"
"Sort of, it's done through song but the idea gets across."
"I don't know, I think the whole grand romantic gesture thing is tricky because normally it's underlined by desperation and stupidity."
"How do you mean?"
"Well, the only reason you'd be running through an airport to stop someone from getting on a plane is because you let them go in the first place. Right?"
"I never thought about it."
"It's more of an apology masked with good intentions than it is romantic."
Rachel laughed and shook her head, "So you wouldn't appreciate it?"
"I didn't say that."
"Well, it doesn't matter, I wouldn't be the one running through an airport anyway," she grinned before standing up and offering Quinn her hand.
"No, of course you wouldn't."
"And what if I forget all of my lines or miss my cues, or, or—"
"Rachel,'' Quinn tried again from the couch.
"What if I go onstage without any pants on and the entire theater laughs at me. Or what if—"
"What if I'm not good enough," she stopped pacing and stared down at Quinn, finally voicing her actual concern, "What if I'm not good enough?"
The blonde sighed and gestured for Rachel to join her on the couch. She did and thank god because Quinn was beginning to get dizzy.
It was the night before opening night and Rachel had been wired all day.
Kurt was out with his boss and Santana was grabbing drinks with a friend, leaving the two girls the apartment to themselves. Not that either of them minded, but the positive reinforcements they could have provided would have come in handy. She could have used Santana's off-handed but light-hearted jabs, or Kurt's confident reassurances and pep talks. She craved that normalcy. She needed them to belittle the situation she was in. She needed to forget that she was about to make her Broadway debut the next evening.
"You have nothing to worry about." Quinn reminded her gently, keeping hold of Rachel's uncharacteristically cold hand, "You've been rehearsing and running your lines for three months, you could probably do it backwards if you wanted to." Rachel sighed, "Hell, you could probably play everyone else's part as well."
She rolled her eyes. Quinn's words were comforting but Rachel knew herself better, "I thought I was going to ace my NYADA audition and I choked on stage. And that was for an audience of one."
"Look, you're overthinking."
Rachel blew out a self-deprecating laugh and fixed her bangs with her free hand, "When am I not?"
Her confidence was unfolding right in front of Quinn's eyes and she hated the feeling. She hated not being in control of something. She knew the play inside and out, that wasn't the problem, the problem was the fear and insecurity that crept up her spine every time she thought about how many eyes would be on her. Normally she thrived in a situation like that. Nationals was her playground. But this was the real world and people could be harsh critics. What if they didn't like her? What if they didn't like her performance?
Quinn squeezed her hand to get her attention. Rachel looked down at their clasped hands as the blonde let out a sigh.
"When you're on stage— when you're in your element, it's—it's something to see." Rachel slowly dragged her eyes to meet Quinn's, "You're home up there."
Their eyes met for the briefest of seconds, just long enough for Rachel to see the sincerity, before she pulled hers away out of nervous habit.
She cleared her throat, "I…" she trailed off before laughing and looking back towards the blonde, "No one has ever described it like that before."
"That's your stage and everyone will know it."
Rachel sucked in a deep breath before nodding, "You're right."
Quinn ducked her head a bit to look at her, "You're still uneasy."
Rachel turned, not commenting on the fact that the blonde could suddenly read her so very well, "Run lines with me?"
Quinn eyebrows shot up in shock, "Me? I couldn't."
Rachel jumped up, already deciding that it would be happening, and ran into her room to get her worn out copy of the script.
Quinn fidgeted on the couch as she waited for Rachel, "Are you sure?"
"Quinn, you're a drama major, you know how to read a script."
"Yeah but I—"
"Here," Rachel thrust the script towards her, "Top of the page, you read Abby's lines."
"Who's Abby?" Quinn asked as she scanned the page and tried to soak in as many stage cues as she could. "Abby isn't in the movie."
"My girlfriend." Quinn looked up, "I mean, she will be my girlfriend eventually."
Quinn looked back down at the page, flustered, and Rachel took pity. "Just stand over there and walk up to me as you say the first line. We're on the roof of the record store. This scene is right after my big heartfelt soul-bearing solo," Quinn still looked like a fish out of water, "You got this."
Rachel walked over to the window that overlooked the street below, and got into character. She was still in her outfit from dinner, and she didn't have her Deb wig on but she could pretend. That's what acting was all about. She would have suggested they actually go up to the roof of their apartment building but the crackhead in 3B liked to hang out there on weekends.
She stood at the window and closed her eyes, when she opened them again, she was her character.
Quinn cleared her throat and began walking towards Rachel, "This is a terrible idea," she mumbled before she read the first line. "I knew I'd find you up here."
Rachel's shoulders sagged, "Do you ever think that I just don't want to be found?"
Quinn glanced down at the page, "If you didn't want to be found, you'd go someplace I wouldn't look."
Rachel finally turned around, piercing eyes locked with Quinn's, "What do you want, Abby?"
So much venom, so much spite.
Quinn swallowed as she read the words. Terrible idea, "You know what I want, Deb."
Rachel turned back around towards the window, "This was a mistake. You shouldn't be here."
"Where am I supposed to be? Look around you, Deb, everything is crumbling beneath us. The store is closing, everyone is off doing their own things, where does that leave you…me," Quinn brought her shaky hand up to Rachel's shoulder, "Us?"
Rachel brushed her hand away, "Please. Go."
Quinn turned the page, "Not until you admit it."
Rachel whirled around, "Admit what? Admit that I'm scared? Admit that when I'm with you I don't feel like I want to blow my brains out? Admit that I want you? What good does that do? It just makes us even more broken and vulnerable."
Quinn physically stepped back with wide eyes. Rachel's emotions were so honest, so real.
Tears began to slide down Rachel's face, she used the bottom of her sleeve to harshly wipe them away. Quinn's throat was dry and she had to remind herself that they were just rehearsing a script, that Rachel was technically considered a professional actor now, that this was her job.
"You're right, we should look around us," She continued with a fire behind her eyes, gesturing wildly around the apartment, "Everything is crumbling down. It's only a matter of time before we crumble, too."
Quinn felt like her own words were being thrown back into her face, "So that's it? Give up? Like you always do?"
Rachel paused and turned back towards the window, her shoulders visibly shaking as she continued to cry, "I hurt anyone that gets close to me," she whispered, "I'm damaged. You don't want me. You just think you do."
Quinn kicked into gear, "I do want you." She glanced down at the script, "You're not damaged. You just think you are."
Rachel scoffed and shook her head, "You just say all the right things, don't you? What happens when this feeling wears off? When this little phase is over?"
"It's not a phase," Quinn growled lowly before tugging on her arm and turning her back around, "Stop belittling this."
"I'll tell you what happens, the poor little rich girl runs back to her loving family and lives happily ever after while fucked up Deb drowns herself in a bathtub."
Quinn stepped closer, the script called for her to embrace Rachel's character while she breakdowns further, whispering comforting words meant to be reassuring and endearing. Instead, Quinn throws her script to the ground and pushes Rachel roughly in the shoulder, "I'm not going anywhere and you need to get it through your thick skull."
Rachel's eyes flashed the barest amount but she stood her ground, continuing with her next line, "Prove it."
Originally, she's supposed to softly plead her to prove it amidst their embrace but Rachel liked the new direction. It was rough and edgy, and she's glad she asked Quinn to run lines with her. She interpreted the scene differently and it was eye opening. So much so that she was going to consult the director to find out if it was possible to change it.
Rachel swallowed, "Prove it to me," she repeated.
Quinn stepped closer, acting on instinct, and covered Rachel's lips with her own. Rachel's tiny gasp of surprise was muffled by Quinn's mouth as she pressed herself further into the brunette.
Rachel's wide eyes fought to stay open as she felt Quinn's hand gripping the side of her neck to gain better leverage. They were warm, and slightly clammy against Rachel's cool skin. Quinn's tongue met hers, once, twice, until finally Rachel's eyes slid closed and she allowed herself to be pulled under Quinn's hypnotizing trance. She felt her back hit the colonial windows, not once registering that they had even been moving to begin with, and felt Quinn's fingers flexing around her waist.
This wasn't a stage kiss. At least, it didn't feel like one. Rachel had been doing this the entire summer and her co-star didn't kiss her quite like this. Every hand placement, dip of the head, and moan were carefully and strategically choreographed for maximum effect but this was raw and unpolished. She chalked it up to Quinn's inexperience with stage etiquette and tentatively tightened her hand muscles where it rest on Quinn's lower back.
It was hot in the apartment. The fans they had placed around the loft were on high but it was doing nothing to circulate the thick still air. Quinn's body pressed against her wasn't helping matters.
Rachel's eyes closed tighter as she tried to forget the fact that it was Quinn kissing her like this and hoped it wouldn't be weird between them afterward. The fact that the blonde was even helping her to begin with meant a lot to her, she'd hate for it to ruin their growing friendship.
But Rachel hated that she was enjoying it when Quinn was putting aside her hesitation and doing it to help her.
Suddenly, as if Quinn could hear Rachel's inner musings, she pulled away with wide eyes.
"Oh my god, Rachel," she gasped breathlessly, "I'm sorry."
Rachel shook her head, wondering if her heaving chest was just as noticeable, "Are you kidding? That was—that was wonderful!"
Quinn's confusion was clearly written all over her face, "It was?"
Rachel swallowed and nodded vigorously, "That was great. I wasn't expecting you to actually kiss me but it's exactly what I needed."
Quinn stepped further away, "It was?"
Rachel pushed off the window and began walking towards the kitchen. She needed water. And some distance between her and Quinn because her body was on fire. "Yes. In the play, I know the kiss is coming and I think because I've rehearsed it so many times, I lose some of that surprise on my face. With you, I genuinely wasn't expecting to be kissed and I think it sold it that much more."
Rachel made it to the fridge, and pulled it open. The cool air from the refrigerator felt amazing. "You've definitely given me a lot to take back to discuss with my co-star and director."
She tried not to think about the fact that the next night was opening night. Running lines with Quinn could have been much more beneficial had they done it a month ago.
"Glad I could help," Quinn replied as she glanced down to find the script she discarded.
Rachel didn't seem to notice that Quinn threw her script to the ground before she kissed her.
She bent over to pick it up, wondering how close to the scene she actually was.
Her heart was racing. She'd never felt so much adrenaline coursing through her veins. She felt like she could do anything.
She couldn't even imagine what Rachel must be feeling.
The curtain slid closed twenty minutes ago and her body was still humming. Rachel was absolutely brilliant to watch. She was enthralled. Everyone was.
She had been right, the stage was her home.
Rachel just killed her debut on Broadway and she was there to witness it. Even if it was from the rear mezzanine. It was the best Rachel could get them, since her fathers rightfully got the orchestra seats. She didn't mind, and from the looks of it, neither did Santana or Kurt. She couldn't believe she just watched Rachel in her first Broadway play.
She felt like a zombie as she mindlessly shuffled through the masses attempting to exit the theatre. Rachel had given them specific instructions on where to wait for her after the show, and after meeting up with her parents, they made their way to a side entrance. A few fans were lined up to get autographs, she assumed, and it hit her that they were waiting to get Rachel's autograph.
Santana had a lingering smile on her face and Kurt was beaming and the Berry men gushed about their daughter. She knew they were all thinking the same thing. They were proud of her.
Twenty more minutes passed before the door opened and people began walking out. She recognized one or two of them from the play but they weren't nearly as impressive as Rachel had been.
Finally, after what felt like forever, Rachel emerged with a wide smile when she saw fans were waiting for her. They waited patiently, and even Santana seemed to be okay with waiting, not wanting to take anything away from Rachel's moment.
Quinn watched in awe as she greeted fans, signed every single autographed asked of her, and posed for camera phone pictures.
Her fathers cried as they hugged her, and then she moved to hug Quinn next, getting some of the wetness and excess makeup on her dress but it was the last thing on her mind.
"You were amazing," she whispered softly for Rachel's ears only.
Rachel pulled away and offered her a watery smile before being tackled by an emotional Santana.
"Most of the cast is meeting at Public House for drinks," she announced.
"Let's have dinner and then we'll leave you kids to celebrate," LeRoy told them as they began walking towards the Subway entrance.
Quinn bumped her hip into Rachel's, "How does it feel?"
Rachel took a long pull from her drink and swallowed before smiling, "Surreal."
She's glad she had Quinn order her a drink; it was good and not at all heavy. She was giving herself a two-drink limit. After all, she had another show tomorrow night.
"I can't believe you just made your Broadway debut," Quinn smiled around her straw.
"I can't believe it either."
Both girls were leaning against a high-top table near the bar, surrounded by most of Rachel's cast mates.
Rachel nudged her, "There's Monica," she discreetly pointed towards a blonde on the other side of the bar.
She was nothing special, Quinn surmised. "You stole the show."
Rachel turned to her with a wide smile before it faltered a bit, "You're just saying that because you have to."
"I don't have to."
"So, did you actually like it?"
Quinn turned more towards her and nodded as she played with her straw, "I did." It was silent between them before Quinn added, "Would I be able to see it again tomorrow night?"
Rachel simply beamed before hugging her.
"Did you notice the slight differences in the scene we rehearsed last night?"
Quinn nodded and took another drink.
"I told my cast mate and she agreed so we practiced it before bringing it to the director. He liked it."
Quinn smiled, "I'm glad."
Quinn furrowed her brows, "For what?"
She wasn't just talking about physically being there for her on her opening weekend. Though, that was tremendously appreciated. She was talking about answering her call when she first got the part, and showing up in the city at exactly the right time, and watching all of those movies with her, and reassuring her when she needed it the most.
She wasn't sure she could have made it through the entire process without Quinn.
"Rach! There you are! I didn't get to congratulate you after the show," the girl opened her arms for a hug, "You did awesome."
"Thanks! I can't believe we made it through opening night."
Quinn recognized the girl from the play. It was Rachel's 'girlfriend'.
"Jackie, this is my friend, Quinn. She's the one that helped me realize what that scene was missing."
Jackie nodded thoughtfully and held out her hand for Quinn to shake. The blonde plastered on her charming smile. "Nice to meet you. You were great."
Jackie dismissed her with a playful wave, "It was all Rachel."
It was, but Quinn wasn't going to voice that thought.
"So Jackie, where are you from?"
"New York, born and raised. Rachel tells me you guys have been best friends since high school?"
Quinn raised a carefully manicured eyebrow and glanced at Rachel with a curious smirk, "Did she now?"
Sensing some kind of eye communication going on between them, Jackie cleared her throat. Maybe she was wrong, "You're the one that goes to Yale, right?"
Quinn turned back towards the girl. Exactly how much had Rachel told her, "I am."
Jackie nodded, relieved that she hadn't put her foot in her mouth, "How do you like it?"
"I love it."
"Quinn is studying drama," Rachel told her.
Jackie blew out a breath, "You've mentioned."
Quinn sensed slight irritation underlining her words and felt a pang of sympathy. She'd been there before with Rachel.
"So Quinn, when do you head back?"
"Ah that sucks."
She seemed genuinely disappointed.
Quinn finished off her drink, "Anyone need another drink?"
"I'll come with," Jackie volunteered herself, "Rach, hold down the fort."
Rachel saluted them before nursing the rest of her drink.
The play was getting rave reviews from critics and theatregoers alike. It was everything Rachel dreamed of when it came to her first real role. The press circuit picked up during their third week of performances and instead of 15 second promos on shows like Good Morning America, they were bumped up to a 2 minute performance with a minute interview afterwards. It was all so exciting.
Word in the dressing room hallway was that they booked a performance on David Letterman.
The entire experience was amazing.
There was a knock on her dressing room door, and she glanced up from her magazine to find her cast mate, "Rach?"
"Jackie, hello," she put her magazine down and gestured for the girl to enter, "What's up?"
Jackie entered and Rachel noticed the way she wrung her hands together as she sat on the small wicker chair in the corner of the room.
"Question," the girl prompted, "Would it be weird if I asked you for your friend's number?"
Rachel scrunched her eyebrows as she ran through her list of friends, "Kurt's gay."
She rolled her eyes, clearly knowing that he was gay, "The other one."
Rachel's face lit up, "Of course."
"Of course it would be weird or of course you'll give it to me?"
Rachel laughed, "Of course I'll give it to you!"
This was perfect. She'd been actively looking for someone to ground Santana the way Brittany was always able to do. Not that she thought the girl needed to settle down, she just wanted her to be happy. She smirked when her roommates would ask her how her dates and one-night stands were but Rachel could tell deep down that Santana craved continuity. She was tired of being with different people. She missed Brittany.
Rachel's gaydar was horrendous because every person she thought Santana might like apparently wasn't gay, and everyone Santana brought back to the apartment apparently was gay even if they didn't look like it. She didn't even know Jackie was. But this was great news, and it fell right into her lap. She could take all the credit for this one.
She was sure Santana at least tolerated Jackie's company because she'd never heard an insult come out of her mouth in regards to her.
She grabbed her phone off the white desk and began scrolling through the contacts, "Yes, really! This is great news! I've been trying to find someone for Santana for forever. You're perfect."
"And it may take you a while to knock down her tough exterior shell but I promise that it's worth it. She's a big teddy bear underneath," Rachel found the number, "Okay, ready for the number? Oh this is so exciting."
Jackie cleared her throat, "Not Santana."
"4-1-9, what?" she looked back up to find Jackie looking even more uncomfortable. "What friend?"
"Quinn, the girl that came to opening weekend."
"Quinn?" Rachel was stumped, "Quinn isn't gay."
Jackie laughed and Rachel had to count to three so she wouldn't lash out at the girl, "Are you sure?"
"I think I would know," Rachel defended.
Jackie held up her hands, "Okay, my bad. Maybe I read her wrong."
"I think you most certainly did," Rachel replied and turned in her chair to face her mirror.
Photographs bordered the mirror to remind her of home. There were a few of her dads, a few individual photos of her friends, and a few group shots. Her eyes automatically went to the photo with Quinn in it.
"Do you think I could have it anyway?" Jackie asked hesitantly and Rachel met her eyes in the mirror.
This was awkward.
She didn't want to give her cast mate Quinn's phone number at all but how does one politely handle this situation?
"Can I ask her first? I don't want to assume she'd be okay with it."
Leave the decision up to Quinn, that way, when she says no, Rachel won't look like the bad guy.
"Sure," Jackie stood, "If it bothers you, don't worry about it."
Rachel shot off the text to Quinn and looked up as Jackie was approaching the door, "Why would it bother me?"
"I don't know, you seem agitated by the idea. Is there something between you two?"
"No!" she pulled back her urgency, "I'm sorry, it's just that, when I said Quinn and I were best friends in high school, I sort of lied."
Jackie leaned against the door frame, "About what?"
"We weren't friends."
"No," she sighed. Why did Jackie think they were a thing? "We didn't exactly get along. We liked the same boy. She was popular and I was the thorn in her side. It was messy at times."
"So…what's the problem?"
"There is no problem, my friendship with Quinn is really special to me. I haven't always had it and I'm still getting used to her in my life. I'm sorry if I came off as possessive."
"Oh, okay, it's no big deal, I just thought she was cool."
Rachel nodded, feeling bad that she couldn't find it in her to be okay with sharing Quinn.
"I've gotta get to hair and makeup, see you out there."
Rachel's phone vibrated in her palm after she said goodbye, she'd completely forgotten she asked Quinn if she wanted Jackie to have her number.
She was in no mood.
She messed up one of her lines the night before, she wasn't paying attention and got off on the wrong subway stop, and the fan in her room broke in the middle of the night so she woke up in a puddle of sweat. It wasn't a very good 24 hours for Rachel Berry.
She was bitter, angry, and she didn't know why. Everything she saw pissed her off.
Santana left the milk out in the morning, which was nothing new, but Rachel took it upon herself to pick a fight with the girl. A fight she ultimately lost because Santana was sharp and quick-witted. A fight that put her in an even worse mood.
The person she needed to talk to was the person she didn't want to talk to. She knew she was being stubborn but she really wasn't in the mood to pretend to be in a good mood, which is why she ignored Quinn's phone call the night before and her three texts earlier that morning. She couldn't feign happiness so she decided to avoid it all together.
She tried to work out in her head why she was angry. Quinn had every right to be friends with whomever she wanted to but it annoyed her to no end that she wanted to be friends with Rachel's co-workers. And it annoyed her that Jackie had a thing for her and Quinn was okay with that.
It also annoyed her that Quinn lived so far away, and that she didn't know where Santana kept her secret box. It annoyed her that she was in a terrible mood she couldn't snap out of and that all she wanted to do was watch a movie and miss Quinn.
She was even annoyed with herself for being annoyed in the first place.
"What the fuck are you doing?"
Rachel couldn't even be bothered to feel guilty or caught, she continued ransacking Santana's closet. Clothes were everywhere, her drawers were all open, her bedding was on the floor, and she still couldn't find any of the other movies from Santana's secret box.
"Where is it?"
"What are you doing in my room?"
She was too preoccupied with her search to even realize that Santana was home early from work, "Where is your secret box?"
Rachel got on her stomach and began to pull things out from under the bed, "I know it's here somewhere."
"I'm going to overlook the fact that you're literally looting my room and give you the benefit of the doubt."
"Oh please, like you don't still go through our things once a week."
Santana crossed her arms over her chest, "What are you even looking for?"
Rachel stood and crossed her arms as well, "Your secret box with all the movies."
"All of my movies are in the living room."
"No, the gay ones. All I've found is But I'm a Cheerleader." She grabbed the movie off the bed.
Santana gasped and flew forward to retrieve her special movie when Rachel waved it in the air. "You're high, midget."
"Where is Aimee and Jaguar, or Chasing Amy, or All Over Me?"
"What are you on?"
"Your secret box!"
"I have a secret box, but it's not filled with movies," Santana looked over her shoulder to the box that was on her bed, "And clearly you've already found it."
"Where are all the movies Quinn found?"
"Quinn told you I had a secret box of lesbian movies?"
Santana was making it sound like the notion was ridiculous and Rachel's annoyance level was at an all time high.
"Where are the movies?" Rachel asked again.
"I. don't know. what you're. talking about," Santana clapped during each word to emphasize her sentence.
"Ugh!" Rachel threw her hands in the air, shouldered passed Santana and went into her room to retrieve her notepad.
"You better clean this shit up, Berry," Santana replied as she waited for her in the living room.
Rachel thrust the notepad full of movies her and Quinn watched together into Santana's chest and waited impatiently as the girl read them over.
"What is this?"
"These are the movies we watched."
"You and Quinn? Together?" Santana quirked an eyebrow and continued reading.
"Yes, me and Quinn together," Rachel narrowed her eyes, "She got them from you so tell me where they are."
"Okay first of all, half of these movies are horrendous. She sat through these with you?"
"They weren't all bad."
Okay, some of them were but Rachel hadn't seemed to mind at the time.
Santana rolled her eyes and handed the notepad back to her roommate, "You need to calm down and take a Xanax."
"Just tell me where they are."
"Because I want to watch one."
Rachel was seeing red, "Because."
"Why are you in such a tizzy over this?"
Rachel ignored the question and went back into her room to end the conversation but Santana followed her like a bloodhound on a hot trail.
"You and Quinn watched over twenty lesbian movies together and she told you she got them from my room?"
Rachel sat on her bed and grabbed her phone before remembering that she was ignoring Quinn and therefore could not text her to clear the misunderstanding up.
Santana's lips turned into a wicked smile, "Oh this is rich, I don't even know where to begin with this one."
"What are you talking about?"
"She did this voluntarily?"
"She was being a good friend."
Rachel ignored the sarcasm, "I needed help with my character and Quinn suggested the idea. I thought it was very thoughtful of her."
"Let's just take a look at the big picture here, okay? Quinn voluntarily watched a shit-load of lesbian themed movies with you, and you don't find anything off about that?"
"Why would I?"
"Considering I own only one of those movies, I'd say you need to take a trip down memory lane and reevaluate everything you thought you knew about your precious Quinn."
"So where did she get them from?"
Santana shrugged, "Maybe she has a secret box of her own."
Rachel picked up her phone again before remembering she wasn't speaking to the blonde.
Santana noticed, "Why don't you just ask her?"
"What do I say? Oh how are classes going by the way do you have a growing collection of gay movies?"
"That's exactly what you say."
Rachel sighed and shook her head, "So she didn't want anyone to know she enjoys watching those types of movies. My dads love romantic comedies, it doesn't mean they're straight."
Santana rolled her eyes, "You're about as naïve as they come. Give me your phone, I'll call her."
"Santana, no!" Rachel lunged forward to knock the cell phone out of her hand.
"What is the problem?"
Rachel pressed the phone between her palms, "I'm not exactly talking to her right now." She winced as soon as she said the words. She still had no explanation.
She sighed, "I just need to clear my head."
"Does she know you're not talking to her?"
"That's fucked up."
"I don't care. Whatever your excuse is, it's a terrible one."
Rachel sighed dramatically, threw her head back on her pillow, and closed her eyes. Maybe if she played dead, Santana would eventually get bored and leave her alone. She could hear heels walking across the hardwood floor but not anywhere near the door. Thanks to her listening class, she surmised Santana had just plopped down in her desk chair.
Might as well get it over with.
"Jackie asked for Quinn's number."
It was silent for a few long seconds, long enough for Rachel to second guess her listening skills, before Santana simply asked, "So?"
"So, Quinn said it was okay."
"Ohhhhh," She clicked her tongue, "I see what this is. You're jealous."
"I'm not jealous," Rachel defended herself before realizing it was exactly what she was, "Okay I'm jealous. Why would she say okay?"
"Remind me who Jackie is again?"
"My cast mate, she plays my love interest Abby."
"Ohhhhh," this time she sounded more aware of the situation, "The girl who was talking to Quinn at the bar opening weekend?"
Rachel neglected to realize that at the time. She was busy being in a euphoric state after having a successful first show. Had Quinn been talking to Jackie the whole night? Was she a bad friend for not realizing it? For leaving Quinn to fend for herself in the first place? "Were they talking a lot?"
"You sound nervous."
"I'm not, I just, I didn't know."
"They talked a fair amount, this will be good for Quinn."
"How could you say that? This is terrible."
"Just because it's terrible for you doesn't mean it's terrible for her."
"Jackie is my coworker and Quinn is my—"
She was still laying on her back with her eyes closed. It was hard enough having this conversation with Santana in the first place, she didn't have to make eye contact with her as well.
"You're obviously implying something so you might as well say it."
"I'm just saying, this is good for Quinn. If you're really her friend, you'd see that."
Rachel finally sat up. She didn't like Santana's tone. She had the feeling she was trying to trick her into saying something that wouldn't be able to be taken back. They didn't see eye to eye on a lot of different topics, in fact they tended to butt heads more than anything else, but sometimes Santana was genuinely looking out for her.
They held each other's stares before Santana finally rolled her eyes, "Just admit that it bothers you because you like her and you didn't consider it or realize it until today."
Rachel dropped her gaze again and stared at her phone. She'd been pushing the idea away all afternoon, chalking it up to being protective over her newfound friendship with Quinn, but it was quite obvious even to her what this was really about.
"She took me by surprise."
It was all she said and it was all that she needed to say.
Santana nodded before rising from the chair, "I'll be in my room if you need anything."
It took Rachel another ten minutes to snap out of her daze and remember that she trashed her roommate's room, and another ten minutes to realize that Santana wasn't going to make her clean it up.
It had been a week.
A week since she realized she had more-than-friendly feelings for Quinn Fabray. A week since she realized they were pretty much always there, hiding under the surface, waiting to blindside her at the most inopportune moment.
A week of replaying old conversations in her head with a critical ear, dissecting each and every word hoping to make sense of it all. Clinging to something she wasn't even sure could be reciprocated, hoping that maybe she wasn't going out of her mind. She saw Quinn in an entirely different light. Her motives, her decisions, her different phases, all were revisiting her in striking clarity.
She couldn't even begin to think too much about high school, though, because Quinn protested her wedding, and she couldn't quite bring herself to open that can of worms.
It terrified her.
She focused on the summer, and how her and Quinn became close. About the movies they watched, and the commentary they had afterwards, and the buzzing in her body during some of the scenes.
She fixated on the excitement she felt knowing Quinn was in her apartment while she was at a long day of rehearsals. She thought about their text messages shared, and the emails they exchanged, and the sadness in the pit of her stomach she'd occasionally get if she'd go too long without talking to the girl.
And sometimes, when she was too tired to stop herself, her mind would drift towards the kiss they shared, and wonder if Quinn's mind was just as jumbled as Rachel's. If it meant anything, or if it was just them running lines.
She was overthinking, sure, but it was all she could do.
It had been a week since she'd talked to Quinn.
She avoided Jackie as much as physically possible. She didn't want to know if she was in contact with Quinn, nor did she want the details. She was still trying to process everything.
At the beginning of the year, she was still in love with Finn Hudson, and juggling a guy on the side, and now, she was in no way uncertain that she really liked Quinn.
She wanted to be with Quinn.
She was starting to think that maybe she'd always wanted to be with Quinn.
It was too confusing for her, however, because as confident as she could be, she wasn't confident about this. Sure there were slight inklings that Quinn could feel the same, or she could be misunderstanding Quinn's friendliness for something more. She had the tendency to misconstrue things in order to fit her outlandish fantasies, and what if this was no different?
What if she was choosing to see what she wanted to see?
That thought frightened her the most.
What if it was all in her head?
When she got back to her apartment after her Sunday show, she found Kurt and Santana sitting lazily on the couch in their pajamas.
She could tell by the look the two shared, she was about to receive some sort of intervention. Kurt powered the TV off. Presumably a Bravo Network binge marathon was happening before Rachel arrived home.
"How was your show?" Kurt asked politely, as he tended to do whenever she got home.
"Good, nothing to report."
Santana was bouncing her leg up and down, antsy to get into whatever they clearly wanted to discuss.
"Rachel, listen," Kurt began delicately, "I understand you currently find yourself in a bit of an overwhelming dilemma—"
"Oh please lady Hummel," Santana snapped, "You need to talk to Quinn."
Rachel sighed, she'd been waiting for this conversation to take place. She was surprised it hadn't happened sooner. Santana and Kurt gave Rachel her space but clearly the leash was being pulled back in.
"It's not that simple."
Santana rose from the couch, "You owe her an explanation as to why you're ignoring her."
"Santana, it's none of your business."
"I can't keep covering for you, she knows something is up and she's starting to get pissy with me."
Kurt spoke up from the couch, "She's been texting me too, Rachel you need to have a conversation with her."
"What am I supposed to tell her?"
"Tell her the truth," Kurt suggested, "I know it's scary but you'll feel better. Take it from us."
Rachel rolled her eyes, "I literally realized a week ago that I had feelings for her. You two were in the closet for years. A little time and space would be appreciated. It's confusing enough as it is, I don't need to be pressured into this."
"No one is telling you to come out or figure out your sexuality in one day," Santana defended, "But you can't ignore Quinn forever, especially because she's a wreck thinking she did something wrong."
"So then tell her that!"
"Santana," Kurt warned gently, "We've both been in Rachel's shoes, okay? Try and remember that it's not easy." He turned back to her, "Rach, sweetie, we're simply just saying that Quinn deserves an explanation at least. What if she was the one ignoring you? How would that make you feel?"
She's pretty sure it would be her worst nightmare.
"Well imagine that's how Quinn feels."
Rachel offered a self-deprecating laugh, "I doubt she would."
Santana began pacing, "I can't."
"Santana," Kurt cautioned, this time a little more forcefully.
"I know I promised but I can't."
"We talked about this," Kurt reminded her.
"And I'm the one that's been her best friend since freshman year of high school, neither of you know her like I do."
"What's going on?"
Santana turned to Rachel, "We both agreed to give you time and space to reach this conclusion on your own but clearly it's not working."
"What are you talking about?"
"Why are you ignoring Quinn?"
Rachel felt like this conversation was going backward, "Um, I think it's clear why?"
"You're scared? You're embarrassed? You're what?"
"Yes, I'd say those are both valid reasons."
"You're scared of what? That she'll laugh in your face? Embarrassed to say anything incase she doesn't feel the same way?"
"This little pep talk is doing nothing for my confidence level."
"Well guess what, those are her reasons, too."
"I'm not going to stand here and remind you of all the things she's done for you, whether they were with your knowledge or without, but I can tell you she did them to make you happy. Just like I'm sure you've done things for her for that very same reason. She cares about you and she deserves to know that you care about her too."
Rachel stood in her place, too shocked to do anything but look to Kurt for confirmation. He could only offer her a sympathetic smile.
Santana continued, "Just please for the love of God, talk to her. I don't know how else I can say that you're worrying for nothing."
"I—" she rubbed her forehead, "Excuse me," she told them before swiftly walking into her room and sliding her curtain closed.
Outside in the living room, she could still hear the hushed whispers of Kurt and Santana disagreeing.
"You didn't have to blindside her like that, she's been through enough," Kurt admonished harshly.
"Oh please, she needed to hear that, it wasn't even that bad."
She hated to say it but she actually agreed with Santana. She needed that.
She walked to her closet and began pulling out a change of clothes before opening her laptop up.
Her body was humming with nervous energy at what Santana implied. She didn't want to think too much because she was afraid her insecurities would get her again but she knew what she needed to do.
She walked back into the living room, dressed in a pair of jeans, a light V-neck sweater, and black leather boots, with her overnight bag over her shoulder.
Santana sighed, "You don't need to leave for the night, I didn't mean to attack you."
"It's okay, Santana."
"Rach, where are you going?" Kurt asked as he stood from the couch.
"To talk to Quinn."
She glanced at her watch. She had about ten more minutes until her train would pull into Union station.
It had been a fairly long day. After finishing her 3pm performance, she made it back to her apartment by 6:30, only to leave again and navigate her way back to Midtown. There was little waiting, since she missed the 7:07 train and had to wait for the 8:07 train to New Haven but she took that time to grab some kind of dinner. It was a blessing and a curse, she was delaying the confrontation but she was also giving herself more time to think about what she was actually doing.
She was trying to do less thinking.
She still hadn't reached out to Quinn, afraid that if she knew Rachel was on her way, she'd tell her to turn around. She knew she'd messed up by ignoring the girl, but she hoped it wasn't too late to say she was sorry. The element of surprise might be her best option.
The transit employee walked down the aisle to let the passengers know the next stop was approaching soon and it was then that Rachel began to really get nervous. She still had a knot in her stomach, and frankly she wasn't sure how she was able to eat with all this excitement going on.
She glanced around at the other passengers wondering if any of them had anything going on nearly as life-changing as she did. She remained seated, even as the other people around her began packing up their things and making their way towards the doors, and looked out the window as the towns passed her by.
In all of her time, she could only remember one other train ride of great significance: the train she took to New York after Finn dumped her. She laughed internally at how drastic the difference was between that train ride and this one. She was running away from something then, she was running towards something now. The only similarity was navigating unchartered territory in both instances.
The train's horn blared as they finally approached the station. She's never been to Connecticut before. She never made use of the Metro Passes. She has never seen where Quinn lived, or where she attended classes, or where she hung out for fun, and it was then that it hit her, Quinn had an entirely different life Rachel had no idea about. The thought was startling but she needed to push through it. She couldn't back out now, not when she was so close.
She followed the masses off the train and through the station, admiring the architecture while wondering if the campus was close enough to walk to or if she should take a cab. She didn't really know her way around, and it was dark out, so when she stepped out into the brisk mid-October air, she grabbed the first free cab she saw. At least she could give him Quinn's address and he could do the navigating this time.
All too soon, she was staring at the brownstone Quinn called home and fumbling to get money out to pay the cab driver. She stepped onto the sidewalk and double-checked the address. She knew she lived with 3 other girls she met freshman year, and she vaguely knew their names, but she knew nothing about them. She'd seen one wall of Quinn's bedroom and that was because it was behind her during their video chats.
She felt intimidated and she was starting to believe that she had every right to. Quinn was way out of her league.
She walked up the steps and rang the doorbell before she could convince herself not to.
Now or never.
Someone called out from the other side of the door before she heard it unlocking.
"You're not the Chinese delivery man," the brunette frowned and opened the door just a bit wider to lean against.
"Is Quinn here?"
"Yeah, she's in her room." The girl opened the door for Rachel to step through, "You look familiar," she squinted before turning and walking up the carpeted stairwell leading to the main floor of the house.
Rachel wasn't sure if she should follow so she just stayed in the foyer and admired the polished hardwood floors and high ceiling. She couldn't believe Quinn would choose to visit New York when she could stay and live in this amazingly beautiful and very much expensive apartment.
"You can come up," the girl replied as she got to the top of the stairs. People were far more accommodating there than in New York.
The girl was studying her as she slowly walked up the stairs clutching her bag.
"You have a beautiful apartment," Rachel offered, not wanting to appear as rude as she felt.
The girl dismissed her with a wave, "Our parents pay for it. Are you in my early childhood psych class?"
Rachel shook her head politely, "I don't attend Yale. I go to school in New York. NYADA." She began to feel herself overcompensating, "Well I did, I'm taking time off to pursue theatre which is actually working out believe it or not."
The girl's eyes widened the slightest bit. Rachel wasn't sure if it was realization or fear, "You're the one Quinn visits."
The girl disappeared down a hallway and into one of the bedrooms, leaving Rachel to make sense of the surroundings. The apartment was spotless, save for a few text books on the coffee table, and decorated with what looked like expensive antiques.
The girl reemerged from the bedroom, and she wished she could recall the names of the girls Quinn lived with. She felt rude for not knowing who she was when clearly the girl knew who Rachel was. Did Quinn talk about her often? Or was the girl just more observant than she could ever be?
Quinn walked out behind her, skepticism on her face until she saw that Rachel was indeed standing in her living room. She'd laugh if she didn't feel like throwing up. She could only imagine how that conversation went.
"That's her name," The roommate clapped with a smile, "It was on the tip of my tongue."
Rachel tried to smile but her eyes were trained on Quinn's confusion.
"What are you doing here?" Quinn's eyes went to the wall behind her, "It's almost 10:30." Her confusion slowly transformed into worry before settling back to confusion. "Don't you have shows? How are you here?"
"Sunday matinee and no shows on Mondays." Rachel wrung her hands together, "I needed to talk to you."
Quinn's eyes glanced towards her roommate before she gestured toward her bedroom and vanished behind the door again. Rachel sidestepped the roommate on her way towards the hallway and the sympathetic smile she received made it seem like she was well aware of the situation.
"Are you crazy?" Quinn hushed as she shut the door behind her, "What if something happened to you and no one knew where you were?"
Rachel tried not to dwell too much on the fact that Quinn was worried about her wellbeing.
"Have you been eating? You look thinner."
Or her health.
"I'm sorry for ignoring you."
Rachel's apology seemed to remind Quinn of the past week, and it snapped her back down to the ground.
"So you were ignoring me?" Quinn stepped away from her.
Rachel put her bag on Quinn's made bed, taking note of the textbooks and papers spread on top. She felt bad for not realizing sooner that just because Rachel no longer had to worry about classes, didn't mean the same went for others. Quinn still had school the following day.
"I know those weren't Santana's movies."
Quinn faltered before slapping a wry smile on her face, "What do you mean?" It was classic Quinn. Denial.
"After a proper ransacking, I discovered there's no secret box." Rachel sat on the edge of the bed, "Well, there's a box but not for movies."
Quinn grimaced, "You're mad?"
"Confused," Rachel nodded her head back and forth indecisively, "Surprised, hopeful, anxious, uncertain…"
Rachel looked up to find Quinn with a worried lip tucked between teeth. She was wearing a crew neck sweatshirt with Yale's emblem on it. She'd never seen it before but she liked it. She liked seeing Quinn in casual clothing. She liked seeing Quinn.
She held out her hand until Quinn was sitting next to her on the bed.
"At first, I ignored you because I was mad." Quinn hung her head and Rachel quickly continued, "Not for the movies."
"Because of Jackie."
"Who is Jackie?"
Rachel laughed under her breath at Quinn's pure look of bewilderment, "My co-star."
"She wanted your number and you said okay," Rachel reminded her.
Quinn sighed before getting off the bed, "I only said yes because I didn't want to be impolite. She's your coworker."
Quinn was getting excited and not the good kind.
Rachel held up her hands to calm her down, "I confused my anger with jealousy."
The blonde stopped pacing, "Jealousy?"
"Jackie thought you were gay, her motives for your number were romantic."
Quinn remained motionless, "Rachel—"
"I need to finish," she hurried, "I was jealous. At first I thought it was because I was a bad friend and then I realized—"
"I realized—Well, Santana actually helped me realize—I wouldn't say helped but more forced me to admit—"
"It was because I was a friend." At Quinn's blank face she swallowed her pride and continued, "Only a friend."
Quinn's mouth opened and closed a few times as she stared at Rachel before a confused smile slowly spread across her features. She swallowed.
"I ignored you because I didn't know what to say or how to deal with any of this, and I'm sorry. You're not an easy person to read, and I didn't even know what signs I was supposed to be looking for. I'm still not even sure."
Quinn closed her eyes for a few seconds, "So what made you come here tonight? If you're not sure."
Rachel stood from the bed, "I'm sure that I like you." She decided that it needed to be out in the open.
"What are you unsure about?"
Rachel laughed as she stood from the bed, because while she couldn't always read Quinn, she could tell she was equally as nervous. Quinn's presence calmed her and that used to never be the case.
"Quinn, you kissed me," She simply stated, not questioning her sudden boldness, "It takes everything in me not to think about it."
"Why?" she whispered between them as Rachel approached.
"Because it would be all I thought about if I let myself."
Quinn swallowed, "You didn't answer either of my questions."
Rachel's mind was racing, she could hear her heartbeat in her ears, and she could barely feel her legs, but she couldn't bring herself to break Quinn's gaze. It was as terrifying as she imagined it to be but an electric kind of terrifying that set her body on fire.
For the life of her, she couldn't remember either of Quinn's questions.
"After a week of nothing, why are you here?"
"I still have no idea if you feel the same way about me, but you deserved to know. And I needed to see your face when I told you."
Quinn closed her eyes again and Rachel could feel her own eyes stinging with the nagging sensation of tears. She didn't want to cry, she was trying desperately to be strong enough to get through this without it turning into a sob fest.
"I'm here because I absolutely couldn't wait another second to see you. And you were right, romantic gestures are—are apologies masked by good intentions. They're underlined by desperation and—and stupidity. And I'm so stupid Quinn for even considering you were someone I couldn't go to immediately with this but I was afraid I'd lose you as a friend. But you have no idea how hard this is for me right now because I don't want to stop being your friend but I can't just be your friend anymore. I'd run through an airport for you if I needed to prove how stupid and desperate I really am."
Quinn's eyes glistened in the dim lighting of her room. She laughed before shaking her head, "I thought you didn't run through airports after people."
Rachel chuckled softly before ducking her head to meet Quinn's gaze, "I would for you." They continued to stare at each other before Rachel continued, "Look, I know you're probably furious with me—"
"I was never mad at you."
"Not even a little? I deserved it."
Quinn laughed softly, "I was scared."
"Scared you found out, scared you were mad at me, scared I lost you. Rachel, you're not exactly the easiest person to be friends with."
Rachel dropped her gaze, "I know I'm not."
Quinn's hand on her cheek stopped her, "When someone wants to be more than friends."
"Please tell me right now if you actually want to do this, I don't think I could recover—"
"I just laid it all out there for you without even knowing how you felt, I want to do this. D-do you?"
"I kissed you because I wanted to, not because of that script."
She softly pulled Rachel's face into her so she could cover her lips with her own. Settling into the idea that she was actually—finally— kissing Quinn, Rachel inched herself closer until she was pressed against the girl, realizing it would never be close enough.
Quinn's hand slowly slid to rest just under Rachel's jawbone and they both angled themselves to deepen their kiss with each subtle meeting on their tongues. Quinn's mouth tasted cool, as if she'd recently drank water, and Rachel struggled with the need to explore how other parts of Quinn tasted, and the want to stay right where she was.
Quinn broke from the kiss as she placed tiny kisses on the other side of Rachel's jaw, "You're infuriatingly sexy."
Rachel groaned at the words, "You can't say things like that to me yet."
She could feel the wicked smirk against her neck, "Yet?" Quinn sucked softly, "I've been waiting forever to tell you that."
Rachel moaned again and silently chastised herself. She needed to get a grip. Her thoughts were beginning to rival that of a teenage boy's.
Her hands skirted under Quinn's crewneck sweatshirt to find the soft, warm flesh of her hips. She squeezed and felt Quinn suck just a little bit harder, "Have you?"
Rachel pulled a hand free and maneuvered Quinn's head back up so she could kiss her again.
Quinn's eyes flitted across her face, as if she was trying to solve an unsolvable puzzle. Her confusion was adorable and Rachel felt her knees go weak when she met her eyes finally, "You have no idea."
Rachel was unsure of how she was feeling right at that exact moment. Should she be elated or mildly upset? She wasn't used to losing but then again, she technically didn't lose.
It had been a long year, but an amazing one, regardless of the ups and downs. A year ago she was riding a subway, unsure of how she felt about her first role, not knowing who to tell the news to first.
She pulled out her cellphone as soon as the town car pulled away from the sidewalk, knowing exactly who to call first.
"Did I wake you?"
"No," came the hoarse whisper on the other end of the line.
It was almost one a.m., "Liar," Rachel giggled, the champagne went right to her head.
"Where are you?"
"Walking into my building. Did you watch?"
"That's a silly question."
"What'd you think?"
"I thought you looked breathtaking."
Rachel inhaled sharply, because no matter how many times Quinn has told her she's looked beautiful, it still managed to make her heart skip out of her chest.
"I didn't win," Rachel pouted, "The musical won, though, so I guess that's great."
"But everyone knows your name now."
Rachel smiled as she began her trek up the steps. Her heels echoed off the walls, "What'd you think of the performance?"
Quinn laughed, "I think Monica tried too hard."
Rachel threw her head back and laughed, "You always know exactly what to say."
"Is that why you keep me around?"
A sly smile spread across her lips, "Among other things."
"I'm proud of you."
"I wish you could have been there with me."
"Next awards show," she replied without skipping a beat.
Rachel shook her head, "You spoil me."
"Someone has to."
Rachel sighed as she got to her door, "Okay, go back to sleep. I'm home now. Love you."
"I didn't hear the door open."
Rachel smiled, "I need two hands to open it so hang up."
Quinn chuckled across the line, "And what happens if the crackhead from 3B tries to lure you to the roof?"
Rachel laughed, "Fine," she pulled the door open with her free hand, "Happy now?"
Her dark apartment illuminated to reveal Kurt and Santana shouting surprise in her direction. She hugged them both and accepted the plastic flute of champagne Santana handed her.
"This is a celebration!" Kurt shouted.
Rachel remembered Quinn was still on the phone, "Did you know they were doing this?"
She laughed, "Of course. Just wanted to hear the surprise. Have fun."
"I wish you were here."
She hung up and tossed the phone and her clutch on the couch, "You guys didn't have to wait up for me."
"Oh but we did," Santana sipped from her flute.
Kurt admonished her with a playful glare, "You were just at the Tony's! Of course we were going to wait up for you!"
"And Quinn made us," Santana interjected.
"I'm sure she didn't make you," Rachel laughed.
"No, I actually did."
Quinn pushed off the beam she was leaning against and braced herself for Rachel's hug.
"Surprised?" Quinn whispered as she set the brunette back on solid ground.
Rachel kissed her swiftly, and had no intention of stopping, until Santana coughed loudly.
"When did you get here?"
Rachel's face was full of awe, "Why didn't you tell me? I would have come home earlier."
"No, no. This is your night." She shrugged when Rachel gave her a playful glare. "And because I know you're a sucker for my romantic gestures."
"I'm a sucker for you, not your gestures."
Quinn stepped closer so the others wouldn't hear, "Fine. I'm dying to rip that dress off of you."
Rachel blushed and Quinn pulled her into a side hug and faced their friends, "I thought we could watch a movie to celebrate."
Rachel rolled her eyes, "What movie did you have in mind?"
Quinn beamed knowingly, "Empire Records."