It all began in a fit of boredom.
Rachel, sitting in her secluded table in the library, has been staring blankly with her head propped up by her arm for the past twenty minutes. Her math homework, which lay out on the table in front of her, is left incomplete. It's not that Rachel doesn't get math; it's more that conics and imaginary numbers and tangents can't really capture her attention right now. Instead, she ends up thinking about singing and glee and Regionals and honestly math pales in comparison.
Twirling her unused pencil, Rachel taps the tip absently on the table. The small clicks echo in the quiet library, and she idly scrawls out the word Hello on the table top. She regards her work, the dark etching standing out from the usually pristine table, and Rachel considers erasing it. It's practically graffiti, and that's obviously the first step towards delinquency. Rachel is not a delinquent. But in the end, she decides to leave it there; that small greeting feeling like a sort of rebellion. Rachel's never tried being a rebel before. It's kind of fun.
Of course, her table top revolution becomes forgotten as soon as free period is over and she gets to leave to her next class.
The next time she returns to the library and seats herself at that table, armed with English homework this time, she doesn't immediately think back to that moment. But she's reminded when she looks down at the table and sees it saying Hello to her. Rachel smiles a bit and says hello quietly back. Then she blinks.
Right under it, in curvy, flowing script, is a single two letter word: Hi
Someone wrote back to her.
Rachel's smile grows wider, and she looks around covertly as if hoping to spot her mysterious pen pal. All that she can see, though, are people reading or doing homework in silence. She looks back down at the table, scrutinizing the handwriting. She doesn't like making assumptions, but she's sure there's a pretty good chance that someone who writes like that is a girl. Unless it's Kurt.
Anyways, it's a little ridiculous, but Rachel is really excited at the prospect of writing to this person. It's like this table is giving Rachel a little surprise or something. She wracks her brain, trying to come up with something to say back, and ends up scribbling It's quiet in here. She feels stupid right afterwards, though, because obviously it's quiet in a library! She erases it hastily and a little black smudge looks forlornly up at her where the words used to be. Rachel wants to say something clever; something that'll make the person on the other side want to respond. All she ends up writing, however, is The librarian scares me.
It's true. The librarian is an eagle eyed, flower-print wearing, pointy nosed, she-devil in disguise. And she frowns whenever Rachel hums while doing her homework. Evil, she's definitely evil.
The validity of the statement aside, Rachel keeps thinking about it self-consciously as she finishes her English homework, wondering if she should write something else. Her indecision over it distracts her so much that she almost immediately leaves the library after she's done with English, butterflies in her stomach running rampart. She really hopes her table buddy responds and doesn't think she's weird.
She worries about it for the rest of the day.
When a suitable amount of time has passed (a day), Rachel rushes to the library while pretending the whole time that she's not rushing to the library because she's expecting a response, it's because she needs to catch up on some reading. It feels silly, to look forward to a jotted down word or sentence.
Her heart is racing a little bit when she nears the table, and the anticipation growing inside of her is making her antsy. When she notices a fourth line of writing, Rachel bounces up and down a little on the balls of her feet. Then she scolds herself for being so happy over something so insignificant. She glances around quickly to make sure no one saw her moment of weakness, before casually leaning over to read what her new friend left her.
Yeah. Me too
Rachel frowns. She was expecting…a little more than that. Determined to get the other person to respond more, she quickly scrawls I think she doesn't like me. Why is that? She surveys her handiwork proudly. If she asks a question, then they'll have to write an answer! And answers (that aren't yes or no) require words! Lots of words!
It's only later that Rachel realizes that there's no way the other person knows who she is, and as a result can't really say why the librarian doesn't like her. She's so filled with despair over that realization that she actually spends the whole car ride home after school in silence instead of singing along to a cd. Her dads were so worried they checked her temperature.
Despite that setback, Rachel's feet involuntarily drag her to that same table the morning after. She doesn't want to expect anything, but ends up doing so anyways. As she approaches, Rachel covers her eyes with one hand, groping around to feel for the chair. She pulls it out and seats herself carefully, taking deep breaths. Then, on the count of three, she removes her hand and opens her eyes. There, in that same flowing handwriting, is another message waiting for her.
I don't know. I wouldn't worry about it; she's an old hag. You don't need her to like you. But, if it makes you feel any better…I heard tomorrow (or today, depending on when you get this) will be a beautiful day :)
The little smiley face at the end makes Rachel smile back. It's ridiculous how giddy she is over this. Rachel leaves her bag in the library, trusting that no one will steal it, before stepping out of the building to take a peek at the weather.
She didn't notice because of her mood earlier, but with the sun peeking out from behind the clouds and the blue, blue sky…it really is a beautiful day. Beaming, Rachel heads back to the table to write something back.
I do feel better. Thank you.
For the rest of the day, Rachel is walking on air.
Their correspondence continues from there, little snippets left behind each day. It's exciting, like secret messages between Rachel and her unknown pen pal that no one else gets to be a part of. Pretty soon, the trip to the library ends up beating glee (by a small margin) as the highlight of her day.
They talk about inane things; teachers that are annoying, the weather. Once, Rachel even helped her friend out with math; the numbers and equations scribbled down helpfully on the table. And once, they drew an exaggerated doodle of the librarian that had Rachel clamping both hands over her mouth to hold back the laughter. People gave her funny looks, but Rachel just couldn't bring herself to care.
Having a friend is nice.
A good time after the first Hello was written, as Rachel stares down at an anecdote about the other person's friend and a chicken with that familiar giddy feeling, she realizes that she maybe possibly kinda sorta a little bit loves her pen pal. Maybe. A little bit.
She dismisses the thought as soon as she thinks it, though, because that's dumb. She doesn't even really know who it is she's talking to, or what they look like. She may have a penchant for dramatics, but she's not bad enough to fall in love with a person just for talking (writing) to her. Even if they're one of the few who actually does.
Of course, there was one day when Rachel came into the library as usual only to find there was nothing new written. The disappointment and panic hit her so hard she almost fell over; and she spent a couple minutes scribbling down apologies for everything and anything she might have done to upset the other person. Rachel was mopey the whole rest of the day. When she came back later, however, clinging onto some hope that they'll write back, she discovered that they were just absent that day for a doctor's appointment. They apologized for making her worry. The relief Rachel felt at that moment was a little overwhelming.
I missed you. She writes unthinkingly. Rachel looks down at those three little words and wonders if she might be coming on too strong. But then she shrugs and leaves it as is. She always comes on strong.
I was only gone for a day and you already missed me? :P
That's a good question.
Rachel deliberates over it for a long time.
I think it's because I really, really like you.
There's a huge clenching feeling in her stomach as she stares at the words staring back at her. She knows her face is red and she kind of wants to erase it right now…but she forces herself to leave. Rachel feels jittery and nervous-she wants to know and yet doesn't want to know how they'll respond. She walks towards the library the next day, feet heavy with dread, and braces herself for whatever it is that might be waiting for her.
…She definitely didn't expect this.
Over time, the table had moved from its pristine condition to something a lot…less. There were so many words on one side of it that it's original tan color was hard to make out between crisscrossing lines of black. Then, there were also smudges from erasers and the occasional doodle. All in all, not as pretty and neat. However, Rachel has come to regard it as a kind of artwork; she really likes it.
So seeing it all wiped clean with no trace of her or her pen pal left felt just a little bit heartbreaking.
Also, the thought of someone looking over their words as they cleaned…something that was supposed to be private…it feels voyeuristic. Alright, so maybe writing letters on public property is not the best way to keep privacy, but still.
Another thought hits Rachel – what if they never got her last message? What if they did and wrote a response and Rachel will never ever receive it?
She can't decide whether she's relieved or disappointed about that.
Rachel considers staying and waiting for the other person who sits in this spot to show up, but she's not sure if she really wants to. Right now, they have no idea who she is, and Rachel can't help but feel that if they knew, the way they'd treat her would be a lot different. She doesn't want to end up disappointing them.
Also, the librarian is kind of glaring at her. Rachel wonders if she was the one who cleaned up the table and feels that this might be a good time to leave. So she does.
She wonders if her pen pal feels as upset about this as she does.
Rachel goes about three days without going to the library once (because seeing her table like that is upsetting), but she can't seem to go one moment without wondering about the response to her last message. Also, she's just lost her one source of positive, intelligent conversation. It's terrible stuff. Rachel feels like she's going through withdrawal. By the end of the third day, she's forgotten what it was she was so scared of the first time. By the forth, she's seriously debating going to wait in the library. By the fifth, she actually does.
When she goes in the morning, her usual time, there's no one there. Undeterred, Rachel resolves to visit again every passing period. Sooner or later, she's bound to find them. She pops in after first period, but there's no one there. The disappointment tastes bitter on her tongue.
She comes in during lunch figuring she'll only find her table empty again, but Rachel is pleasantly surprised when she spots a bag lying under the table and a binder on top. And she's a little scared, too. Whoever they are, they've left to get something, so Rachel carefully sets herself down. She takes a moment to observe the binder, trying to learn something about her mystery person.
It's a medium sized blue binder, with multicolored post-it notes hanging out everywhere. Green, gold, blue, red…post-its of all different colors, and big ones and small ones too. On all of them is the same curly handwriting Rachel has become so fond of, with notes like 'due mon' or 'science'. Also, there's a sandwich discreetly tucked beneath the binder and loose leaf paper scattered about. Whoever they are, they don't seem to be very organized. Rachel has a sudden urge to tidy up, but she fights it down and tries to sit still without fidgeting. She's failing.
She's really scared and nervous now that the time's come for them to meet; more anxious than she's been her entire life. Rachel can't help but think that maybe she's built up a fantasy around this person and that the reality will only end up disappointing her. Or, even worse, this person might have done that to her. She doesn't want to disappoint anyone.
Rachel scans the library, looking for possible suspects. There's a short freshman trying to reach up to the top shelf in the non-fiction section (and failing miserably), a chunky, pimpled youth flicking through a comic book, and a really thin girl looking through the health section. She's also a bit surprised to see fellow glee clubbers there; Tina is wheeling Artie around and grabbing books for him; the gothic girl smiling affectionately down at her boyfriend. The librarian is giving Rachel the stink eye, and a couple of the student volunteers are manning the checkout counter. A voice coughs.
"Berry, what are you doing here?" At the sound of that voice, Rachel stiffens. She turns slowly, hoping she might have heard wrong.
No, she heard right.
Quinn is standing in front of her discarded chair in all her blond haired, hazel eyed, flowy dress wearing glory. She has one hand on her hip, and pins Rachel with a solid glare.
"Why are you at my table?" How did the other girl sneak up on her? She must've come out from one of the rows of bookshelves.
"You sit here?" Rachel's asks, even though it's pretty obvious by now. Still, confirmation would be nice.
"Yes," Quinn rolls her eyes, "do you really need to ask? Now answer the question."
"I wanted to talk to you," Rachel says, not backing down. She likes to think that she's one of the few to be able to face Quinn, even this pregnant watered down version, without bending.
"Really," Quinn says, sounding like she doesn't believe Rachel for a minute. She eyes the brunette suspiciously. "And that's why you were waiting at a table that you didn't even know I sat at. Because you wanted to talk to me."
"Yes," Rachel says confidently. Quinn's glare doesn't lessen, but she sighs and sits down anyways. It's another example of how much the blonde has changed-the old Quinn would have never given in like that.
"Well?" the ex-Cheerio asks impatiently, "What did you want to talk to me about?"
Rachel opens her mouth but closes it soon after, at a loss for words. Honestly…she's a bit disappointed that Quinn is the one she's been writing to this whole time. It feels kind of like a dream has been lost or something. And it makes Rachel feel kind of embarrassed and ashamed for the things she felt when there wasn't a face behind the words. She hopes that Quinn never got her last message.
"Do you come here often?" Rachel questions. Quinn quirks an eyebrow.
"How would you know to come here when you wanted to talk to me if you didn't know I come here often?" Quinn responds smugly. She pulls the sandwich out from under her binder and removes the plastic wrapping, taking a small, dainty bite.
"That was such a convoluted sentence," Rachel remarks, watching in slight fascination as Quinn chews. When she realizes she's been staring, Rachel blinks and focuses on the other girl's eyes instead of her mouth. "I thought that food consumption wasn't allowed in the library."
"That's why I'm trying to be discreet about it," Quinn says, rolling her eyes again. "Does this conversation have a point?"
Maybe focusing on her eyes was a bad thing. Now Rachel kinda wants to see her roll them again. Perhaps the nose is the perfect neutral area.
"I…have a confession," Rachel begins. Quinn actually looks interested at that.
"Really? And you're going to tell me about it?" the blonde sounds a bit skeptical. Rachel nods.
"Yes. I find it only fair, as you are involved."
"Yes." Rachel nods, taking a deep breath. "If you were really the one who's been sitting here the whole time, then I'd like you to know that I'm the one you've been writing to."
There's a moment of silence, before Quinn responds "I don't know what you're talking about."
"Don't lie," Rachel insists. She knows she saw Quinn's eyes widen slightly at Rachel's statement (not that she was looking or anything; no siree she was staring at the nose, the nose!). The idea that Quinn is ashamed of having Rachel as her secret correspondent hurts a little bit, though.
Quinn scowls. "Alright, so maybe it was me. Now what?"
"I was thinking," Rachel allows some hesitance to seep into her voice, "maybe we could discuss this?"
"I don't see why we have too," Quinn says, turning her nose up stubbornly, "if I knew it was you, Berry, I wouldn't have done it anyways."
Rachel's not giving up that easily. She's had a taste of the real Quinn for a while now, and she knows now that the other girl is actually a pretty nice person inside. Plus, she's not willing to give up one of the few people she's considered as a friend.
"Why not?" Rachel presses, "If you were actually conversing with me earlier, without knowing, then how much does knowing really change? I'm still the same person, and so are you. The only difference is that now we're aware of each other. And it's obvious now that we can get along perfectly fine, so why not continue as before?" Rachel gives her best puppy-eyed look; she can attest to the effectiveness of it. And lo and behold-Quinn's expression actually softened a bit!
"Fine," the blonde gives in grudgingly, "what do you want to talk about?" Encouraged, Rachel immediately launches into a topic, any topic (it just happens to be noses). And she and Quinn speak to each other, face to face with no biting words, for the first time ever. There was even laughing involved! (With, not at) When it's time to go and Rachel smiles at Quinn and gets a smile in return, she ends up thinking that maybe having Quinn be her pen pal doesn't ruin anything. Maybe it actually makes it better.
Rachel makes a point to come visit the blonde every day during lunch, and she's beginning to suspect that Quinn's actually come to expect and look forward to it as much as she herself is. And it's fun talking to the other girl; it's a challenge. They both like arguing.
Rachel learns a lot about Quinn. She learns that Quinn is an obsessive note taker. She always jots down little memos to herself on post-its. She also has everything in a special order; one that looks just like a big mess to Rachel but that Quinn insists is not. And that Quinn wants to leave Lima as badly as Rachel does, but she still thinks that the stars shine the brightest when seen from here.
Rachel also realizes that she may still have a big crush on her table buddy. And that the janitor/librarian got to her last message before Quinn did.
She didn't really expect her infatuation to stick around when it found out Quinn was the recipient. It's not that she has a problem with liking girls-that would be hypocritical-but it's just…it's Quinn.
Of course, it's not like the blonde is unattractive. Maybe the reason why she still likes the other girl is because of relief at the fact that the person she was writing to wasn't physically deformed, with like a third eye or something. Quinn has very nice eyes. And when Rachel thinks about it, she can reason that she liked them for their words, and now that she knows that they are also really, really beau—physically appealing, that's only a plus, bad history or not.
However, Quinn has made no mention of Rachel's feelings, so the brunette thinks it's safe to assume she doesn't know about them. Rachel's not sure of she should be happy about that or not. But then later she can't help but think-why is she worrying about this so much anyways? Since when does Rachel Berry do anything half-heartedly? If she's going to fall in love, she might as well fall hard because that's how she rolls.
It's with that in mind that Rachel decides to confront Quinn after glee. Ignoring attempts by Finn to catch her attention, she stalks to the object of her affections and drags her off to the nearest secluded area. What didn't figure into Rachel's plan of attack was the fact that the only place within a ten meter radius that no one went to had lots of dumpsters. It took away from the type of atmosphere she was trying to create, but Rachel is versatile. She'll work with it.
"Rachel," Quinn says, nose wrinkling in distaste, "why are we standing in the middle of a garbage dump?"
Maybe Quinn won't work with it though. The brunette is going to have to work fast, before the other girl leaves.
"Quinn," Rachel begins, speaking quickly, "I feel that we've grown closer together over the past few weeks, beginning of course with our correspondence via table top, and I'd first like to say that you are a wonderful friend and that I really enjoy spending time with you-in fact I look forward to it-"
Rachel pauses to take a deep breath, but regrets it when the smell hits her. She continues regardless.
"-but recently I've begun to feel that that isn't enough and that I want more. So…" Rachel clasps her hands nervously. "Quinn…I'd like to try having a relationship with you."
"What?" Quinn asks, looking dumbstruck.
"I'm kind of in love with you," Rachel clarifies.
The blonde stares blankly as Rachel waits anxiously for some kind of response. She's beginning to think maybe this was a bad move and that she has just ostracized one of her only friends. Maybe she shouldn't have said anything.
The longer the silence goes on, the more frazzled Rachel gets.
Finally, Quinn blinks and sighs. The ex-Cheerio crosses her arms and gives Rachel an exasperated look.
"Did you really have to-" Quinn begins, but that coupled with her unfriendly posture is enough for Rachel.
"I-sorry!" Rachel blinks back sudden tears, before turning and bolting from the scene. She doesn't think she can stand hearing a rejection. This was a stupid idea!
"-take me here to ask me out?" the blonde quietly trails off. No one is there to hear her, and she's left alone with no Rachel in sight and the smell of trash and old lunches lingering in the air.
Rachel has been boycotting the library. It's not that the library has done anything particularly offensive to her (well, maybe that librarian…) but she just doesn't think she can deal with Quinn right now. Maybe in a few years.
So, basically Rachel's high school life is now library-free! No more musty book smell, no more table, no more scary librarian! That also ends up meaning no more Quinn…but Rachel can survive! She can!
Oh wait. She forgot about glee.
It might have been the skittish way Rachel walked through the door, but Quinn doesn't try to approach her during practice. Or it might have been disgust over her confession… The other girl looks almost serene though, like she's waiting for something. Rachel does her best to act casual. It disturbs her a little bit though, how Quinn's not making any attempt to speak to her. Is she that upset?
Well, now that Rachel thinks about it, as long as she goes to the library during the times she used to go, she won't run into Quinn. And she can still do her homework. Plus, with glee she's going to be forced to see the blonde no matter what, so her library boycott didn't really help at all.
She walks into the library early in the morning as per usual, but doesn't head to the usual table. It's like pouring salt into a wound. She's about to pick another spot to sit at, when the librarian steps in her way, looking down disapprovingly.
"You." She greets.
"Ma'am," Rachel says back. The best thing to do is act like you've done nothing wrong.
"I don't approve of you people desecrating our tables," the librarian continues, glaring at Rachel, "but I made an exception this time. Go back to your usual spot."
"What? But-" Rachel protests. The librarian makes a shushing sound.
"Just go already!" she snaps. Rachel scowls, but turns around, obediently going to her old table and muttering something that sounds suspiciously like 'old hag.' She doesn't understand why she has to listen to her; it's just a table.
As she approaches, though, Rachel realizes that something's been done to her table. She rubs at her eyes, not really believing what she's seeing, and moves closer for a better look. Rachel's mouth drops open.
The table is not stained with graphite. There are no letters scratched onto its surface. However, there is something on the table. Golden yellow post-it notes. Tons of little post-it notes are littered all over the table, and when looked at from afar one can obviously tell the post-its are strategically placed to make a shape. It's a star.
And on every single one of those little yellow post-it notes are three words written in that familiar, flowing handwriting, that make Rachel's heart soar.
A/N: A quick oneshot. I made several assumptions (that Rachel and Quinn actually go to the library often, that they're attracted to each other, etc) but I hope you managed to derive some enjoyment from it anyways despite its relative shortness. Also, I rushed on the ending, 'cause I need to go to sleep.