Title: (Show Me How You Do That Trick) And I Promise That I'll Run Away With You
Summary: If you keep your eyes closed, this can be a dream.
Disclaimer: Glee is property of Ryan Murphy and Fox. I do not own any of these people, places, or events. No infringement intended.
Archiving: at inkyxfingers
Word Count: 5,130
A/N: Gotta say, it's been a while. I'm a bit rusty, but nothing gets me revved up like a little show choir. And Lea Michele. Anyway, just to be safe, spoilers are up through "Funk." Rating is mostly for swearing. Title taken from The Cure's "Just Like Heaven" and the song used is "Bastards of Young" by The Replacements. Other than that, enjoy.
Practice runs long today. Not Cheerios practice, of course. For her to know that a Cheerios practice ran long, she would have to actually be in the Cheerios still. If she was still with the Cheerios, that would mean that she wasn't struggling to waddle around school every day at eight months pregnant. And if she wasn't eight months pregnant then… well, then she wouldn't be sitting here long after glee has ended for the day, slumped on the piano bench with her back against the keys, eyes closed tiredly as she thinks of all the things that she doesn't want to think about.
Puck. Finn. Her parents. Cheerios. Coach Sylvester. Brittany and Santana. College. Nationals. The baby. Life.
Quinn thinks about these things all the time now, because frankly she doesn't have much else to do. She's reminded of them every day at school. When she sleeps, she dreams about them. When she breathes, she feels them. Sometimes, she tries to bury herself in homework, or books. It seems every war in history was started over religion or women, which makes her think that she's responsible for the war on her very existence at McKinley. At least God shares a little bit of that load with her, but He hasn't been picking up the slack lately. Every book she gravitates to has to do with teenage dramas very much like the one she's living. She can't escape it. At least here, on this piano bench, she can sit alone very quietly and pretend with all of her might that she doesn't exist. It helps a little.
The silence is a comfort. It amazes her that she used to thrive on the vibrant buzzing of high school. Now, her eardrums feel like they're going to burst as she walks down the hallways. The sound of Coach Sylvester's bullhorn makes her stomach turn. Even glee, with all that it's done to make her realize a lot of things about herself and alleviate just a little bit of the stress each day, has too much noise. The songs are too beautiful and the words mean too much and Mr. Shue's enthusiasm feels like glass in her throat. She doesn't even bother with the cafeteria anymore.
Quinn sighs into the still air of the band room, and maybe it's just fatigue, but she thinks she hears someone sigh back. Still, she keeps her eyes closed, because not seeing things is very peaceful these days. Sometimes she wishes she were blind. She slips into the nothingness behind her eyelids for a very long time, to the point where she can't feel her own body anymore and she's nothing more than a living filter, taking in oxygen and offering carbon dioxide in return. It's the most peaceful she's felt in quite possibly her entire life.
Suddenly, there are lips against hers, so light and soft that Quinn's not even sure she feels them. They don't even remind her of lips because all of the lips she's ever felt were rough and demanding and sloppy. These lips ask nothing of her. They merely present themselves, and then disappear as soon as they come.
"If you keep your eyes closed, this can be a dream." The whisper is as soft as the lips that preceded it. The voice is unidentifiable, but she knows, knows somewhere in the very back of her mind that it's a girl. Knows and doesn't care.
Quinn does keep her eyes closed, and when she finally does open them she concludes that it must have been a dream because the room is still as empty as it was when she closed her eyes before, and she's been sitting like that for so long that she could easily have dozed off for a few moments and not even noticed it.
Deciding that there's no further reason for her to stay, she leaves to go back to Mercedes's house, her fourth "home" in less than a year.
By morning, Quinn has all but forgotten about the dream.
She's sitting in the library absently doodling on her math homework during fourth period. Ever since she hit her third trimester, Figgins decided that she wasn't allowed to have gym anymore because he didn't want to be liable if she went into labor or had a miscarriage at the hands of Sue Sylvester. Quinn likes it just as well because everyone she doesn't want to see is in her gym class anyway. Her paper is covered in little hearts and flowers and pompoms because they're the only thing she's actually good at drawing since she scribbled them endlessly on everything she owned back when she was the old Quinn Fabray, who was expected to know how to draw such things. Now she draws them out of habit when she's distracted and the sight of them makes her angry afterward when she realizes what she's done.
Just as she's about to start scribbling them out, she notices someone standing in front of her, and then suddenly they're sitting across from her at the table where she'd purposely sat alone so that she didn't have to deal with anyone else. She looks up to see Rachel Berry glancing at her sheepishly while she takes her books out and puts them on the table.
"What are you doing, Berry?" Quinn asks expectantly, already annoyed at the intrusion. It's probably one of the first times she actually uses Rachel's name rather than something more clever and offensive like RuPaul or Manhands, but Quinn is smart enough to know that at this point in her life she is in no position to be insulting people like that, especially when Rachel could easily come back at her with some retort involving the word preggers, or Tubby as Santana has become so fond of lately. Somehow, she knows that Rachel won't dare. Her recent humiliation involving that excuse for a man, Jesse, has left her equally humbled in the way that only public humiliation can.
Thinking about it makes Quinn's stomach churn nastily. There was a time when the thought of someone pelting a carton of eggs at Rachel Berry would have made her giddy enough to consider letting Finn touch her boob, under the bra. Hell, given the opportunity, she may have done it herself at some point. Now, it mostly makes her sick because all she can picture is slimy, sticky yolk running down Rachel's face, and that makes her think of it running down her own face, which makes her want to vomit. Apparently baby Drizzle-Beth is not going to be a fan of omelets.
Rachel's answer snaps her back to reality. "I'm studying, of course," she says matter-of-factly.
"Clearly," Quinn replies, rolling her eyes, "but why are you doing it here? At this table," she adds when Rachel opens her mouth almost certain to tell her that it's a library, and that's where people study.
"Well, there are no empty tables, and since you're the only person in this room who hasn't thrown anything at me this week, I figured this was my safest bet," Rachel replies. The way she says that, so nonchalantly like everyone in the world has to deal with things being thrown at them every day, makes Quinn realize that Rachel Berry may be the only person on Earth that leads a life more pathetic than her own. Well, her and that Jacob kid, anyway.
Quinn wants to say something mean, wants to retort that she could easily rectify that problem and toss her math notebook straight at Rachel's ego-enlarged head, but part of her— the part that has become accustomed to being a social outcast and having to actually be like, nice to people in order to not be completely alone in life— reminds her that Rachel has really never done anything so horrible to her other than trying to steal her boyfriend who she never really loved in the first place and telling said boyfriend that he wasn't the actual father of the baby that Quinn was (wrongly) making him support.
In all honestly, those two wrongs actually turned out to be rights for Quinn. If it hadn't been for Rachel trying to steal Finn out from under her upturned nose, Quinn never would have joined glee club in the first place. Thinking about that alternate universe makes Quinn shiver with something like fear. Glee is the only place in the world where she feels even remotely safe and normal, believe it or not. As for the other thing, the thing where Rachel has a big stupid mouth that she can't keep shut even when it's not her place to open it, Quinn is pretty thankful. Rachel had the guts to do what Quinn never could, and that was to spill the words that would break Finn's heart. Even though Finn will probably never forgive her, Quinn is glad that he knows. Lying is a lot of work, and Quinn can't handle that kind of stress anymore.
So she lets Rachel stay. "Whatever, just try not to annoy me any more than you already are."
Rachel looks her in the eye and nods solemnly, and for a moment Quinn thinks that maybe Rachel understands her. Maybe they're not so different, Rachel Berry and Quinn Fabray. Maybe Rachel, of all people, gets her more than anyone else in this godforsaken school.
The moment of insanity passes and Quinn glares back down at her homework and scribbles angrily at a particularly spirited looking pompom.
After every offending picture has been effectively obliterated, Quinn finds that she has nothing to do. She looks up at Rachel, who surprisingly hasn't made a sound this entire time, and is almost slightly in awe of what she sees. Even in what appears to be total concentration, Rachel can't keep her mouth shut. She's staring down at her textbook, mouthing the words to some unknown history as she reads over them. Even though no sound is coming out, Quinn can hear them, weeks, maybe even months later, pulled from Rachel's ridiculously annoying memory in some conversation down the line, their only use to satisfy her need to look intelligent and prove someone wrong. Just the thought of it makes Quinn want to roll her eyes, and she decides to look elsewhere.
Rachel's hands are placed on either side of the textbook she's reading from, palms flat on the table and fingers spaced evenly. Quinn notes unwillingly that Rachel's hands look nothing like man hands at all. In fact, they're quite small and delicate, clearly well-moisturized, and meticulously manicured so that each tip extends the exact same length from the finger as the one right next to it. Quinn looks at her own hands and realizes that her cuticles are overgrown and several of her nails are jagged from where she'd bitten them in her boredom. Also, her knuckles are swollen from the pregnancy.
She sighs heavily and Rachel glances up at the sound. She looks like she desperately want to say something; her dark eyes are practically shooting laser beams of curiosity and her mouth is parted ever so slightly with whatever words are trying to force their way through. She's doing a pretty good job of not letting them, for her part, but Quinn finally gets tired of watching her gape.
"What?" she snaps impatiently, though it comes out as more of a tired sigh than she intended.
Rachel takes a deep breath, then suddenly shakes her head and releases it. Her tongue darts out, small and pink like bubblegum, and wets her lips quickly before she looks back down and resumes her studying. Quinn stares for minutes afterward, focusing on the spot where Rachel's lips are still glistening, wishing for once that Rachel would have just said what she wanted to say, because it very well might have been the gospel that saved Quinn's life.
She doesn't ask again, and Rachel doesn't look at her for the rest of the period.
Mr. Shuester and Ms. Pillsbury are still not together. They're not together for a number of reasons, most of which the glee kids actually know even though Mr. Shue doesn't know they know and no one's really planning on telling him because they've all got enough problems as it is what with being hormonal teenagers with racial, sexual, disabled, baby mamma kinds of drama in their lives. But they all know that she and Mr. Shue were about to get together, except that Ms. Pillsbury has these psychotic germ problems and Mr. Shue was kind of whoring around with Rachel's mom for like, a second, and somehow Sue is involved in all of this because it has become her lifelong goal to ensure that every ounce of dignity and happiness in Mr. Shue's life is stolen from him and crushed at the bottom of a giant Cheerios pyramid.
But at any rate, they're not together, and this is making Mr. Shue a little angry, and as a result, they're doing punk this week in glee.
Most of the kids are good with this, especially the boys because they're really not cut out for all of this show tunes crap, and Tina who is all gothic and depressing, and Mercedes, who has enough attitude to make anything work, and Quinn and Santana because both of them are repressed and angry for entirely separate reasons. The only people who are definitely not pleased are Rachel and Kurt. Normally, Brittany would have trouble with this, but since Santana is there, she's totally covered, and whenever Santana's involved, Brittany is happy.
So, Mr. Schue pairs them up, supposedly at random, although Quinn finds it suspicious that Santana and Brittany are a team and Mercedes and Kurt end up together, and Artie and Tina, too. She gets stuck with Rachel. Instead of complaining like she would any other day, Quinn just accepts her fate because she's feeling kind of nauseous today and if she opens her mouth she just might spray the choir room with liquefied PB&J. She is surprised when Rachel doesn't say anything either, just purses her lips in a tight, thin line and looks at the floor.
They agree to go to Rachel's place because Quinn doesn't really feel comfortable with bringing someone else, especially Rachel, into someone else's home. Rachel drives her there after school the next day. She doesn't talk the whole ride over, just sings quietly along with whatever is on the radio. Quinn looks out the window and pretends not to pay attention, but she thinks that Rachel sounds even better than usual when she isn't trying to overpower everyone else in the room and just lets the music guide her, instead of her ego.
If that voice were to come from anyone else, Quinn decides, she would be in love with that person instantly. However, this is Rachel Berry she's talking about here, and while she can appreciate this strangely quiet, angel-voiced version of her, she's still Rachel, and she still annoys the piss out of Quinn virtually by her existence alone.
By Wednesday they still can't agree on a song. Rachel has done her "research" and come up with a list of songs that she thinks would be appropriate for their vocal styles. Quinn, on the other hand, has a surprising amount of punk on her iPod and wants to choose one based on meaning that they can arrange however they want to later. Rachel of course does not approve of this plan, if only for the fact that it wasn't her idea to begin with.
"I can appreciate your gumption, Quinn, but I just don't think that I can appropriately arrange a song based on our vastly different skill levels in the amount of time that I have," Rachel explains reasonably.
Quinn growls angrily and gets as close to Rachel's face as she can over top of her baby bump and tells her just where she can stick her "gumption."
"Your songs suck, Berry. We're going to do a good song if I have to arrange, play, and sing the damn thing by myself!"
She hears Rachel mutter something about "irrational" and "hormones" under her breath and barely resists the urge to bash the girl's head in with the nearest pageant trophy because Rachel's dads are downstairs and Quinn probably wouldn't be able to waddle fast enough to her escape before they discovered the body and called the police.
Quinn ignores Rachel to the best of her ability all day Thursday and after glee is over and the room has cleared out, she sits at the piano bench and plays out the parts of "Bastards of Young" that she arranged in her head last night while she was supposed to be sleeping. She doesn't notice someone standing behind her when she starts singing out the parts until Mr. Shue is right beside her, catching on to the harmony that she's laid out for Rachel and singing along.
"I love that song," he says with a grin when they're done, and Quinn smiles brightly because really Mr. Shue is the only teacher she respects at that school without having been scared into it. "Shouldn't you be practicing this with Rachel?"
"Rachel," Quinn growls, and Mr. Shue has a guilty look on his face like he knows what's coming.
"I'm sorry, Quinn. I know she can be hard to work with," he admits.
"Hard to work with?" Quinn practically shouts, totally incensed. "She's impossible! She thinks that just because she's got this amazing voice that no one else in the area can even touch that she's the fucking Queen Elizabeth of show choir!"
Mr. Shue winces at her choice of language, but doesn't admonish her for it. "You know, she's probably just trying to cover up the fact that she's scared." Quinn looks at him like she did the first time she heard Sue Sylvester talking to one of her trophies like a baby. "I'm serious. Rachel doesn't like to be wrong, so when she doesn't know about something, she tries to bully everyone into agreeing with her so that it'll seem like she's right. Don't let her do it. Show her that you know just as much about this as she does about Streisand. If you think you've got something good here, and I'm telling you that you do, then make her sit down and listen and see that it works. The only way to get through to Rachel is to shove things right in her face. Otherwise, she'll be so busy trying to convince you of something else that she'll never see it."
Quinn thinks that Ms. Pillsbury is stupid for not taking Mr. Shue, even if he did make out with the woman who spawned the demon of Hell.
Quinn storms into Rachel's house that night, thankful that her dads aren't home, otherwise they might be alarmed and try to deter her from her mission. She finds Rachel up in her room and rushes in without knocking. Rachel looks up from a pile of papers and immediately opens her mouth to say something.
"Quinn, good, I think I may have come up with a solution to our—"
"Shut up," Quinn orders seriously, and Rachel's jaw snaps shut for a second before opening again.
"But I really think we need to—"
"Shut. Up." It's more of a growl this time, like a ravenous lion warning a pack of hunters not to get too close to her cubs lest she tear them apart and eat them for dinner. Rachel is quiet for almost a whole minute this time. "Good. Now just… keep your mouth shut and listen."
Quinn turns to put a CD into Rachel's player. The brunette opens her mouth, thinking that Quinn can't possibly stop her from talking when her back is turned, but Quinn whips around with a speed unnatural for a woman of her current size and glares at Rachel murderously. Rachel closes her mouth again and waits as Quinn finishes putting the CD in and presses play.
The sound of a solitary piano drifts through the room, pretty poorly recorded, but effective anyway. Quinn faces Rachel, leaning against the dresser, and stares at her as if daring her to make a sound. Rachel stays quiet, and after a few bars of music, Quinn begins to sing.
God, what a mess, on the ladder of success, where you take one step and miss the whole first rung. Dreams unfilled, graduate unskilled; it beats picking cotton and waiting to be forgotten. We are the sons of no one: bastards of young. We are the sons of no one: bastards of young. The daughters and the sons.
If this was once a punk song, Rachel can no longer find any hint of it in the way that Quinn is singing it. Her voice is soft and sad on the verses and becomes powerful and heartfelt during the chorus. She looks like she means what she's saying, not just means it, but feels it and Rachel had never realized that Quinn's voice is raw and gorgeous and it grates at her heart like barbed wire when it cracks over the line about baby wombs. Her hazel eyes are shining with determination that Rachel has only ever seen when looking in the mirror and she stares straight at Rachel through the entire song. When it's all over, Quinn is slightly breathless and her cheeks are flushed and she looks so beautiful that even Rachel's thesaurus brain can't come up with a proper word to describe it all.
The look on Rachel's face must indicate to Quinn that she has some sort of protest, because the blonde's expression hardens and she looks like she might punch Rachel so hard that she won't even want a nose job when it's all said and done.
When Rachel opens her mouth and says "teach me," it's so far from what Quinn expects that the energy she'd just built up to scream and yell at Rachel and possibly use Santana-grade violence instantly dissipates from her body and she's left standing there like a deflated balloon. Rachel just gives her a small, encouraging smile and Quinn thinks of that time in the library when she thought that Rachel might be the only one that understood her and decides that maybe she was right about that after all.
That night, when she's lying in her bed thinking about the way that Rachel smiled at her after they'd done their final rehearsal in the car as she dropped Quinn off at Mercedes's, Quinn remembers the dream she had on the piano bench in the choir room weeks ago and runs her fingers over her lips until she falls asleep.
After they perform the song, most of the club is speechless. Mercedes and Kurt look way more impressed than they wanted to be; Finn has a look of total blankness on his face and Quinn can't tell if it's from the song or because he's trying to figure out something marginally confusing in his head; Puck looks like he's about to ask them to have a threesome with him any minute; Artie and Tina are tossing astonished looks back and forth at one another; Mike and Matt are grinning like fools; and Brittany has one of her adorable kid in a candy store smiles on, which makes Santana nod grudgingly in return. The only one who is talking is Mr. Shue, and he's congratulating them on their impeccable teamwork. Quinn knows that he's mostly congratulating her on getting Rachel to listen, for once.
After school, Rachel offers to take Quinn out for some thank you/I'm sorry/I could have come up with something just as good but I wanted you to prove yourself to me ice cream. Maybe it's the baby cravings and the hormones and the excitement from doing such a good job, and it's probably definitely something to do with the fact that Rachel is giving her one of those rare, breathtaking, graceful smiles without a hint of superiority that she used to reserve only for Finn, but either way, Quinn agrees.
They sit in a booth at the diner, away from the door and nearly everyone else in the diner as well. At first, once the afterglow of success has worn off, which it does about the minute they get out of the car, Quinn is worried that it will be ridiculously awkward and Rachel will talk too much and Quinn will get annoyed and need to leave. But Rachel is in some rare mood right now, the same one that she had in the library that day, and she doesn't really say much at all to begin with. The silence is surprisingly comfortable.
"I'm sorry," Rachel says quietly, halfway through Quinn's second cone of ice cream because she wanted vanilla at first, but then she had a sudden craving for mint chocolate chip after that. Quinn almost thinks that she doesn't hear her, and she stares at Rachel in confusion.
"What?" she asks through a mouthful of ice cream. When Rachel looks up at her through her long eyelashes like she's shy or something and repeats herself, Quinn raises an eyebrow because she definitely doesn't understand what fucked up universe she's suddenly entered without anyone warning her about it.
Rachel lets out a breath that sounds almost like a nervous laugh and looks back down at her crumpled up napkin and doesn't continue. Quinn frowns because she remembers this feeling, like Rachel is about to say something that will change her whole life and has suddenly decided at that very moment that for once in her life there's something that's popped into her brilliant brain that isn't worth saying. Quinn doesn't know how, but she knows that if Rachel says what she wants to say, something will change, and if she doesn't, nothing will change ever again. Quinn is tired of sitting around in this shitty, stagnant life of hers waiting for something to happen. She knows that it's probably some sick joke on God's part, making her entire life hang on the words of Rachel fucking Berry, but she's no longer too proud to accept something like this when it practically smacks her in the face.
She reaches across the table and places her empty hand over one of Rachel's and the brunette looks up with wide eyes because this is honestly the first time in their lives that Quinn has ever touched her. Quinn tries to tell her, tries to say that she wants to hear the words coursing through Rachel's mind, because she thinks that Rachel Berry could probably save her life. Quinn has never been any good at saying the words that need to be said, however, and all she can do is try to communicate to the girl with her eyes and her touch that she doesn't want her to be silent today.
Thankfully Rachel understands her silent plea, and she must be the only one in the world who can interpret Quinn's silent language, and neither of them miss the irony of that. Rachel laces their fingers together across the table and looks at Quinn with her big clear eyes that make her stomach lurch like a car that comes to a stop way too fast.
"I'm sorry that your life is so hard. I'm sorry that all of these things happened to you and that everyone acts like you deserved them. I'm sorry that no one understands that you made a mistake and you're human and now you're going to live with the consequences for the rest of your life. I'm sorry that your parents are jerks and that people are mean to you. I'm sorry if I'm mean to you because I know what it's like to be humiliated and I know that it's hard. I'm sorry that I told Finn about the baby and I'm sorry that I ever tried to take him from you. I'm sorry that you feel so alone. I'm just sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry."
Quinn doesn't notice the ice cream that's dripping down her arm and all over the table now. She hardly notices the tears that are falling freely off of her cheeks or that Rachel is crying tears that match. She doesn't know that people are looking at them like they're crazy for displaying their soap opera of a life in the middle of public where everyone can see. All she knows is that Rachel's eyes are the color of forgiveness and her fingers locked tightly with Quinn's own feel like safety and the words flowing out of her mouth sound like the most beautiful song ever sung and the lyrics promise redemption.
They end up at Rachel's house and Rachel lays Quinn down on the bed and kisses her like she's only ever been kissed once in her life, in a dream that wasn't a dream at all, but a sign of things to come. She touches Quinn with such care and tenderness that it makes Quinn cry all over again, and then she kisses her until the tears dry up on her cheeks and leave nothing but tracks of salt behind. When they're so exhausted that neither of them can move, Rachel holds her from behind with her arm wrapped protectively around Quinn's bulging belly like she's not afraid of Quinn's mistakes.
When she finally wakes in the morning, the first thing she hears is a whisper.
"If you keep your eyes closed, this can be a dream."
She opens her eyes immediately and feels small, strong arms still wrapped tightly around her body and silently thanks God for that because it wasn't a dream, and neither was the first dream that she had, and if it had been a dream Quinn is pretty sure that her heart would have crumbled to dust and she never would have walked or talked or breathed again.
She rolls over just to make sure. Rachel's eyes are staring back at her and they look like rich hot chocolate at the end of a long, cold winter. Quinn kisses her and kisses her and kisses her until she can't breathe properly and then she keeps their faces so close so that she can still feel Rachel's lips touching lightly to hers.
"I'm done dreaming. I want to live now," she replies, because at one point she thought that she could love anyone that had Rachel's voice except for Rachel, but now she knows that she can only love Rachel with any voice she has.
It's not love yet, but it could be, and that's more than Quinn's ever had before.