disclaimer: don't own it

so this will (hopefully) be a multi-chaptered story, this first chapter will take place right after the glee kids graduate form high school and then the rest of the story will take place in the future. I have a lot of ideas but nothing else written so far so do not expect fast updates…although of course reviews always make updates come faster

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She cried for a month after he left.

She spent almost every day of that first month of summer inside.

Someone from glee was there every day. Kurt brought her fashion magazines and listened to showtunes with her. Mercedes gossiped for hours so Rachel wouldn't have to talk. Tina and Artie would come by together and all three would watch TV in a comfortable silence. Quinn painted her toenails and brought any new pictures sent by her daughter's adoptive parents. Finn would rent movies, and while he always tried to find something she would they like they tended to be more entertaining to someone with a penis. Even Britney and Santana stopped by once, bring a tray from Starbucks with them (oddly, they still wore their Cheerio's uniforms in the summer…after they had graduated).

In the brief moments when she was able to think about something unrelated to the crippling devastation currently infecting her like swine flu, she marveled that there were people who cared about her so much that they were willing to give up days of freedom in their last summer before they started to become adults to be there for her. Three years ago all these people were severely irritated by her at best and, when it came to the cheerios, spreading rumors that she was born a hermaphrodite. Now all these people were her family and they were there to support her when she needed them.

And then she would think of the person who was missing and something deep inside her chest twisted painfully and the world got dark again. He was gone. He'd left her.

She started to notice it around the beginning of May. The end of high school was creeping closer and closer, things were changing so quickly. Everyone had gotten their acceptance letters and decided where they were going (Britney had somehow scored in the 96th percentile on the SAT and was asking everyone if Nothwestern was the name of the school or just the direction it was in). The future was changing from some hazy, far off someday into an actual thing, a reality they had to deal with.

Her path had been set since she was seven years old, mapping out a fifteen-year plan on a whiteboard while her dads looked on in amusement and fear. There was a fund set up with enough money to last her three years in New York to try to become something. Her dads had only agreed to this after they made her promise that if something didn't happen in those first three years she would get a degree (there was a separate, backup-college fund her dads called their future European vacations in private). But everything was different now. Noah was going to state and the thought of not being there with him, of moving a thousand miles away and only seeing him a few times a year, was excruciating.

So she pulled him into the glee room one day and told him that her fathers had just mailed a check. They were going to college together. She expected him to be excited, as happy as she was. But he just quietly asked her if she was sure and she spent a good ten minutes explaining that she was sure, and happy and could put New York off for a few years so they could go to school together. She smiled and kissed him, trying to ignore the fact that he didn't hold her as tightly as he usually did.

One day she sits on her porch with Quinn drinking the slushies the other girl had brought over. They're making mindless chit chat (with Quinn doing most of the talking) and Rachel is just staring out at the sky with wide empty eyes. Quinn stops talking and looks at the girl that aginst all odds has become one of her best friends. Knowing this may be a bad idea but not able to hold it in anymore, she quietly asks, "Did he say anything, Rachel? Did he tell you he was going or leave a note?" Because even though they come and sit with her every day and its been weeks she hasn't said a word about it to any of them, there is an unspoken agreement not to ask, just to be there. But Quinn needs to know, needs to help this girl who has gone so above and beyond for her so many times without being asked.

Rachel stiffens at the question but her eyes don't change. They are still big and empty and dead and that scares Quinn more than the silence because even when she isn't talking Rachel Berry is always so alive and now she's not.

A single tear wells up in Rachel's eye and when it makes its way down to her chin she answers, "There was a note. His mom gave it to me the day after he left."

They make love on prom night which would be totally cliché except that its not their first time, or their second or third. But there is something about this time that is different. Because Noah's kisses feel desperate, like he's trying to permanently mark her lips. When he looks at her in the dim light he seems to be taking in every detail and trying to memorize her. After they're done he clutches her to him so tightly its almost uncomfortable but she doesn't complain because his arms are her favorite place to be in the world. When he whispers in her ear, 'I never want to let you go," it sounds more like an apology then a promise and she thinks later that she should've known then, should have suspected. But she just burrows her head into his chest and falls asleep as he strokes her hair.

Rachel reaches into the pocket of the shorts she's wearing and pulls out a piece of paper so worn and creased it looks years old and silently hands it to Quinn. The blonde girl is hesitant to take it but realizes that this is a gesture of ultimate trust and smoothes out the paper, expecting to find some long, epic letter but instead it simply says

Rach,

I've got to go. I'm sorry.

-Noah

She stares at the 25 letters, trying to draw something from them that's not there. She sighs to herself and moves to hand the note back to Rachel, but the other girl shakes her head. "Get rid of it," she says, her voice suddenly hard and cold, "flush it, burn it, swallow, I don't care what you do, just fucking get rid of it."

Quinn is so shocked (and not just because the girl who wears knee socks and chastises people for saying "damn" is using the eff word) that she can only nod and tuck the note into her own pocket. She reaches for her slushie but at the last second grasps rachel's hand and squeezes it. The other girl squeezes back and Quinn sees that her eyes aren't dead anymore. Now they're full of angry fire and Quinn hopes this change is for the better.

When Mrs. Puckerman opens the door the morning after graduation Rachel smiles at this woman who has become the mother she never had, but her smile falters when she sees how red the other woman's eyes are. Her heart starts to beat faster, knowing something is wrong. When his mother starts to explain that Noah is gone she asks dumbly when he'll be back. Mrs. Puckerman starts to cry and hands Rachel an envelope with her name on it and the world falls out from under her feet.

She cried for a month after he left. And then after that month she never cried again.