A/N: So, this story has been lurking in my brain since December, like it literally will not go away. Since it's been about five months I figured I might as well right it, otherwise it is not going to leave me alone. As of right now it's M for the later chapters, but we'll say its for some of the language as well =) As a timeline, it takes place after 'Sectionals,' but before 'Hell-o. There may be some incorporation from the new episodes, but we'll see where it takes me. Anyway, let me know what you think.
Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.-Carl Bard
In every phenomenon the beginning remains always the most notable moment. –Thomas Carlyle
It's official, Rachel Berry hates her life. It's the day of sectionals when she realizes. Mr. Shue bolted out of the choir room after they finished signing 'My Life Would Suck Without You,' and immediately everyone spit into little groups to talk about what just happened. Quinn is standing with Santana and Britney; Finn's with Matt and Mike. Kurt and Mercedes are whispering to each other, so are Artie and Tina. Rachel just looks around the room realizing that she is the only one alone, aside from Puck, whose eye she caught briefly as he slipped out of the room. She's not sure why they all seem to be excluding her, more so than usual. All she did was tell the truth.
Sighing, Rachel grabs her coat and purse off one of the front row chairs and turns to leave just Quinn says that she's dying for a cheeseburger; Santana suggests they go to the Happy Daz two blocks up to celebrate. She and Brittney spit up to invite the other groups. Rachel paused, slowly putting her coat on, giving one of the Cheerios time to come to her. They don't.
When she realizes that they're not going to ask her to come along, that no one is, she's momentarily panicked, it's not like her, but she can't let them see how embarrassed she is, how hurt. She digs in her bag for her phone, pulling it out before dialing her voicemail. "Hi, daddy." She responded as the mechanical voice on the other end asked for a pin number. "No, I know, I'm on my way now." She continued, feeling ridiculous. "I know I have ballet in half an hour." She walked quickly out of the choir room, pretending she had no idea that the others were planning to go celebrate their win. A win they wouldn't have without me. She thinks to herself. She hears Kurt and Mercedes laugh as she leaves the room, she doesn't turn around in case it's about her, it usually is.
Making her way to the side of the school where she is supposed to meet her dad she sees Mr. Shue and Ms. Pillsbury kissing at the other end of the hall. She smiles softly to herself; she's noticed how they look at each other when they think no one is looking. It reminds her of Finn and herself, it both gives her hope and reminds her that she is still alone. Finn hasn't come to her like she thought he would. In fact, he hasn't talked to her at all, since he told her not to screw up right before they preformed earlier today.
She sits on a bench next to the parking lot to wait for her dad to pick her up; glancing down at her watch and rolling her eyes. It's only five, she told her dads when they dropped her off that morning that they should pick her up around six. She debates calling to have one of them come pick her up now, but she knows that it will lead to a lot of questions that she does not want to answer.
Figuring a little cold wont hurt her she pulls her iPod from her bag, hits shuffle and smiles when "Something Good" from The Sound of Music comes on, she's always found Julie Andrews extremely soothing. She almost doesn't see them leaving, but they're all there, together, climbing into each others cars. Tears sting her eyes as Finn looks over his shoulder and stares right at her. She knows he sees her, he pauses for a moment, but he climbs into Matt's car.
"It's fine." She mumbled to herself, "I'm fine." She opens her bag again, tossing her iPod inside, Julie Andrews is just not going to cut it anymore. She wonders briefly if she should walk home, but decides almost immediately that it would be a bad idea. "God, what is wrong with me?" She asks allowed shivering in the cold.
She presses her lips together and squeezes her eyes shut, willing away the tears. By the time her father got there, only fifteen minutes late this time, she's smiling. "Hey, Dad."
"Hi, Rachel." The dark skinned man replied. He didn't apologize for being late, she didn't expect him to. "Why aren't you celebrating with your friends?" He asked as she climbed into the car.
"We're going out later tonight, I was going to ask you and daddy when we got home." She lied, mentally kicking herself. She was going to have to find something to do now.
He beamed at her, "Just tell me when and where I don't think it will be a problem with either of us."
"Oh, um, around 7:30, 8. We're going to the diner, I think. I'll have to call someone to double check." Rachel replied. Damn it! She thought to herself. What was she going to do by herself at 8 pm on a Saturday night in Lima, Ohio?
"That's great, pumpkin, you know how worried daddy and I have been that you don't seem to have any close friends your own age."
Rachel sucked in a breath at he father's bluntness, she knew he wasn't trying to be hurtful, but it didn't change the result. "I know." She whispered quietly. And she did know, she'd overheard them talking about taking her to a psychologist.
"Well, I, for one, am glad. When I was your age, I never wanted to be home, I was always out and about with my friends."
Rachel swallowed thickly as the car pulled into the driveway. I'm not you. She thought to herself. "Me, too." She said allowed. "I'm going to run up and shower before I go."
"Go where, Rachel?" Her other father asked, coming out of the kitchen, wiping his glasses on the bottom of his sweater.
"Alan, Rachel's going to the diner with some friends."
"That's great, sweetie, do you need a ride?" Her father asked as Rachel climbed the stairs.
Crap, Rachel, thought to her as she stopped halfway up the steps. "No, thanks, daddy. The Hummels live two blocks over, I'm going to meet Kurt there and he's going to drive us."
At her father's nod of approval Rachel continued up, stopping only when she heard the muffled whisper, "Richard, she's going out with friends."
"I know, I almost couldn't believe it myself, I was starting to get worried about her."
Rachel closed her bedroom door behind her sagging heavily against it. Even my dads think I'm a freak. It's no wonder that everyone in school does too.
An hour later Rachel was still trying to figure out where she was going to go. She'd checked the weather and it was much too cold to be outside for any length of time and she didn't want to go anywhere that she could run into someone from school. Sighing, and when had she starting doing that so much, Rachel bundled up and grabbed her purse. "Bye dad, daddy."
"Bye, Rachel. Have a good time." Richard yelled.
"I will, thanks." Rachel replied before stepping out of the house. She walked down the steps and turned right at the sidewalk, in the direction of Kurt's house. She figured she should keep up the charade while in sight of her house in case her dads were watching. She'd gone a few blocks, not paying attention to her surroundings, turning randomly, when she realized just how cold it was. Stopping a moment to get her bearings she realized she was only a few blocks from the library. It's warm and I definitely wont run into anyone from school there. Smiling sadly to herself, Rachel realized it was the perfect for what she needed. God, I hate my life.
The next few months passed in much the same way for Rachel, though she kept adding to the fictional things she would do with the other glee kids. When her parents were home, there would be one day over the weekend that she would tell them that she was spending time with friends. Most times she went to the library, once in a while she would go to the little Indy Theater across town, no one looked at her funny if she saw a movie by herself there. Sunday mornings she would teller her fathers that she was going to brunch. Two or three days a week should would stay at the library after school and tell her fathers she was hanging out with friends. She figured the extra time she put in studying would really help her grades.
Not that you would know it with grades like this. Rachel thought to herself, glancing down at the math test she had just gotten back. Eighty-four. Dad and Daddy are going to be so upset.
The teacher was just about to start going over problems when Puck walked in. Rachel only rolled her eyes when Ms. Binger handed him the test, "Thank you for joining us today, Mr. Puckerman." She honestly forgets that he's in her class most of the time; he only shows up the days they have tests and the days they get them back.
Puck just shrugged his shoulders and took the seat next to Rachel; it's the only free seat in the class. Rachel tried to take a surreptitious glance at his test paper. Ninety-four! He doesn't even come to class and he still managed to beat me by ten points. How does that even happen?
Puck smirked to himself when he noticed Rachel trying to get a look at his paper. He knows that he got a better grade than she did by her reaction. Math is his best subject; it's why he gets away with not going to class, as long as he does well on the tests the teachers don't care.
He's drawing in the margins, shut up he's not doodling, or some gay shit, he's drawing, when Berry raises her hand. He rolls his eyes and watches Ms. Binger do the same. Wait, what? Are teachers allowed to do that shit?
"Yes, Rachel." Ms. Binger asks wearily.
Puck's eyes narrow as he sees the knuckles on Rachel's right hand whiten around her pencil. He's always wondered if she noticed other people's reactions to her, now he knows.
"Can you go over question seven, please?"
Ms. Binger glances down at the test paper, "Does anyone else need help with question seven?"
No one raises their hands, but Puck does hear a couple of girls giggle from the other side of the room. "Sorry, Rachel, we'll get to it if we have time at the end of class."
Puck watches with morbid fascination as a flush works it's way up Rachel's neck; even her ears turn a bit pink. She doesn't say anything, just nods mutely and looks down. The fuck? Are teachers allowed to embarrass the hell out of students like that?
They finish going over problems with ten minutes left of class. Since Ms. Binger doesn't appear to be going back to Rachel's questions he waits for Rachel to bring it up. He's beyond confused when she doesn't. She's quietly staring down at the textbook she's pulled out and it looks as if she's trying to figure it out on her own.
Since when is Berry quiet about anything? He wonders to himself. He shakes his head as she bolts from the classroom when the bell rings. Probably can't wait to get to glee. They have twenty minutes, but he knows how she is about being on time.
When he walks into the choir room nineteen minutes later she's not there. Shrugging he takes an empty seat in the back corner, away from everyone else, they're not glaring at him anymore, but they're still not talking to him, not that he wants to talk to them anyway.
When Rachel walks in right behind Mr. Shue her eyes are bloodshot. He wonders briefly if she's been crying. "Nice of you to grace us with your presence." Kurt says snidely. His eyes widen slightly when she doesn't reply, just sits down two seats in front of him. He realizes she's put a buffer of empty chairs between her and the glares everyone else is sending her way. He tries to remember if she's done anything lately to warrant the glares. He can't, she hasn't thrown any fits in months, even when she hasn't gotten solos. Thinking, he can't even remember the last time Mr. Shue gave her a solo, he thinks it might be Sectionals.
Mr. Shue lets Kurt's comment pass, "Alright, guys, I've got a great number for you guys." He hands out the sheet music.
Puck glances down, 'Seasons of Love. ' Fuck his life. Rachel perks up slightly at the song, he should have known she would like this shit. "Mr. Shue," Rachel starts. Puck smirks, he's sure she's going to start campaigning for the solo.
"Mr. Shue," Rachel says again when he doesn't look at her, "if we're going to be singing 'Rent,' maybe, if we changed some of the lyrics, we could …"
She stops when Mr. Shue cuts her off, "No, Rachel, you're not getting the solo, I've already chosen."
Puck cocks his head, he's pretty sure she didn't mention anything about a solo. "What?" Rachel asks confused momentarily. He hears Kurt and Mercedes snicker on the other side of the room. "No, I just thought we could sing 'La Vie Boheme,' it'll really showcase everyone's talent."
"Rachel!" Mr. Shue says sharply. "I already told you I've made my choices. I don't need your input in everything we do. Last time I checked I was the director."
Puck coughs in surprise. Where the hell did that come from? Everyone else laughs as Rachel stares down. "Congratulations, Finn, Santana. Alright, everyone up, lets run through it."
Rachel doesn't speak for the rest of practice. I don't know how much more of this I can take. Everyone hates me. She's relieved beyond belief when practice is over. She practically sprints to her locker to grab her things when Mr. Shue announces they can leave. She's shoving things into her bag when her phone beeps. She frowns at it as Finn passes her to get to his locker, five down from her own.
"Hi, pumpkin," Rachel hears her dad start his voicemail, "Daddy and I are going out for diner. I know we were supposed to pick you up, but I'm sure that you can have one of your friends drive you home. There are leftovers in the 'fridge." Rachel hits seven, erasing the message, angrily glancing at her watch. Six fifteen, the last late bus had left fifteen minutes ago. She glances briefly at Finn, she normally would consider asking him for a ride home, but it's been snowing all day and there is no way she can walk.
Puck watches her from the corner of his eye. His locker is down the hall from Finn and Rachel's. But he laughs to himself as he watches Rachel take a deep breath, square her shoulders and walk to Finn. They're far enough away that he can't hear what she's said. But Finn's, "No." carries down the hall loud and clear. He watches as Rachel's lips move, he still can't hear what she's saying. "God, Rachel. This is why everyone can't stand you. You don't know when to give up, or keep your mouth shut." Finn says nastily.
Puck ducks around a corner as Finn storms by. He hears Rachel murmur, "It's no one. No one can stand me." He hears the tears in her voice and shakes his head; he doesn't know what happened, why everyone seems to be treating her like shit. Sure, he's been checked out for the last couple of months, but he's pretty sure he would have noticed something big enough that even the teachers are awful to her.
He waits until he hears the heels of her shoes clicking down the hall before making his way out to the parking lot to his truck. Trudging through the snow he scowls at the sky. Damn snow. I can't fucking wait until spring and this shit is over. The engine sputters a few times without turning over. Fucking piece of shit! He thinks smacking the dashboard a few times. "Finally." He mutters as the engine finally roars to life.
He's a block and a half from school when he sees the figure plodding through the snow. He shakes his head at the idiot, what kind of moron takes a walk in weather like this? It takes him about five seconds after passing the figure to recognize the pink coat. He stops his truck, rolling down the window, "The fuck is the matter with you?" He calls out the window.
Her eyes widen, "Excuse me?"
He chuckles softly, she looks seriously offended. "Why are you out walking in this storm, Berry?"
She shrugs when he lifts a brow, "My dads couldn't pick me up and the last bus left before practice ended." He's surprised when she turns on her heel and storms away. He pulls up next to her again. "What?" She asks stopping short.
"Get in the truck." He says exasperatedly. "Get in the fucking truck." He says again when she doesn't move.
She blinks at him, but she opens the door and scrambles in. "Thank you." She mutters shivering as she buckles the seat belt.
"The heat doesn't work, sorry."
"It's alright." She replies staring out the window.
He hears her teeth chattering, he wonders if she's so quiet because of the cold. Her lips were starting to turn a frightening blue color. He reaches under the seat, feels around a moment before finding what he wants.
She gives him a strange look, but doesn't say anything. He's seriously freaked out when he tosses the blanket at her. "Here." She doesn't say anything, just stares at the blanket on her lap. "It's clean."
"I…" She trails off, "thank you." She whispers.
"Are you crying?" He asks before he can stop himself. Fuck, I don't want the answer.
"It's cold out." He knows she's lying, but he lets it slide as he pulls from the curb. "My house is on…"
"I know where you live." He cuts her off.
"Okay." She says simply, staring out the window again.
"If one of your dads couldn't pick you up, why didn't you ask someone to give you a ride home?" He asks when they're about a block from her house.
"Kurt was already driving Mercedes home, she lives on the other side of town." She replies without emotion.
He glances at her briefly, "Doesn't Hummel live like a block or two from here?"
"What about…" He trails off with understanding. That's what she was talking to Hudson about. God, what a douche.
He pulls into her driveway and locks the doors. She looks back to him with furrowed brows. "Give me your phone, Berry."
"What?" She asks confused, "Why?"
He rolls his eyes, "Just give it to me." When she hesitates he grabs her purse himself. He blocks her reaching hands and ignores her indignant sputtering as he pulls her phone out himself.
"What are you doing? Give it back." She says angrily grabbing her purse from him.
"Here." He says simply, tossing the phone back to her. He's mildly impressed that she catches it. "I put my number in it. If you need ride, text me."
She stares at him without saying anything, he's about to say something, but a second later he's got an armful of Rachel Berry. He's got a moment to realize her hair smells kind of minty before she whispers, "thank you," in his ear and hops out of the truck. He waits as she dashes into her house before pulling away.