Authors Note: So yeah, I finished "Waking Up" yesterday and am starting this story today. This story showed up in my head last night and it's been in my brain all day. This is a future fic so Puck and Rachel are adults now. This first chapter is short but it's the set-up…..
Disclaimer: I don't own "Glee." The characters just live in my brain for a while, taking up space and distracting me from real life, which is pretty great considering really life is sometimes REALLY crappy.
Rachel Berry sighed as she unlocked the door to her small apartment. Flipping on the light, she tossed her keys and the stack of today's mail on her rustic wooden table. The chill in the air hit her as soon as she walked into the small living room. The stupid radiator was broken again. She would have to call the maintenance guy yet again, and he would give her the run around about why he couldn't get up there until tomorrow again. She really needed to move. As she grabbed her cell phone from her purse to lodge her latest complaint with the superintendent, her eyes drifted to the stack of mail. She grabbed it and began flipping through it. Her hand stopped on a mint green-colored envelope with an Ohio postmark. She could tell from the handwriting and envelope style that it was an invitation to something. What, she didn't know. It's not like she had anything to do with anyone in Lima anymore. Her dads didn't even live there anymore.
Rachel sat down softly on her sofa, tucking her legs beneath her, still holding the envelope. She settled into the plushness of the couch and closed her eyes….
She could still see herself on graduation day at McKinley High School. After they had all received their diplomas and did the traditional cap toss, everyone gathered for photos. Rachel beamed into the camera with Tina and Artie. She posed diva-style with Kurt and Mercedes. She hugged Quinn and Brittney for the camera. She even posed with Finn and Noah, who had graduated the year before but had returned to McKinley to see their Glee club friends reach this important milestone. After graduation, they all kept in touch throughout the summer. Even as they all headed off to start the next phases of their lives, they still managed to text or email each other every once in a while. However, the calls and emails slowly tapered off until eventually, Rachel never heard from any of them and she didn't bother to contact them either. Life, in its business and stressfulness, had gotten in the way. She threw herself into her studies at NYU, working hard to gain as many roles as she could. Voice lessons, dance practices, and auditions left her with little time for "normal" college experiences. Many Friday nights, while her sociology-major roommate went off to this party or that party, Rachel stayed in, practicing. As much as she had hoped for life to be different for her once she got to college than it was in high school, it wasn't. While she had a few friends here and there, at the end of the day, she was still alone.
After graduating from NYU, Rachel worked hard to break into Broadway. She soon learned, however, that there were actually a lot of people exactly like her – very talented singers with the ability to dance and act. She became lost in the crowd. Once she realized that the best she was ever going to do was off-off-off Broadway, where lewdness, nudity, and scripts that barely made sense were often the norm, she faced reality. If nothing else, Rachel was a pragmatic woman. Realistically, she could see the writing on the wall. So she went back to college, completed her Masters in Secondary Education, and now lived her present life: a music and drama teacher at a school for gifted children in Brooklyn. She would love to say that she was happy and in some ways, she was. She loved working with kids and was never more proud than when a student would blossom under her tutelage. She just wished she didn't feel so lonely all the time. She thought back to her last attempt at easing the loneliness: she had gotten herself a cat. That first night together, she and her cat stared at each other like they weren't quite sure how to act around one another. The first full day of their relationship, Rachel dangled a cat-nipped stuffed mouse in front of its face but the cat just glared, obviously too smart to be tripped up by some stupid fake mouse. The second day, Rachel tried to cuddle with the cat, which she had named Lola. Lola had other ideas, however, and clawed the ever-loving crap out of Rachel's arm. The third day, Rachel opened up the door to her apartment and Lola, obviously deciding that she had endured all she could of this life with that human, shot out through the gap. Rachel ran after Lola only to discover that the front door to her building had been left open again and her cat had joined the throngs of others that prowled the streets of Brooklyn at night. It was okay, she surmised, because if she were a cat, she'd probably run from her too.
Opening her eyes, Rachel looked down at the envelope still in her hands. Sighing, she pulled it open and read:
Dear Former New Directions Member,
As you may or may not know, McKinley High School is preparing to say goodbye to Spanish teacher/Glee club director Mr. William Schuester and Faculty Advisor, Mrs. Emma Schuester. The Schuester family will be leaving Lima in November to begin a new life in Pennsylvania. Because these two educators meant so much to us during our formative years, we felt it was appropriate for us to do something to send them off properly. Included with this letter is an invitation to the event that has been planned. I do hope you will join us. My contact information is included and I hope to hear from you.
Mrs. Quinn Fabray-Abrams
Following the letter was a small card that read:
You are invited to attend the
New Directions Hello and Farewell Event
Saturday, October 29th
McKinley High School Auditorium
Please join us for a New Directions reunion
and to prepare a proper send-off for
The Schuester Family
Please RSVP to Quinn Fabray-Abrams
Rachel read the letter and then the invitation over again. Mr. Schuester was leaving? A New Directions reunion? And wait – Quinn Fabray had married Artie Abrams? WHAT? Rachel decided at that moment that she had been away from Lima for far too long…. Maybe it was time to go home again.