A/N: I was sent two prompts to write to and this is the first chapter to one of them.
Prompt: It's been seven years since graduation and Quinn Fabray is a highly popular and in demand photographer whose latest job is photographing the A-list, award winning Rachel Berry. Things start off roughly with an apologetic Quinn and a hesitant Rachel, but things quickly progress.
The first chapter is a build up. I already have the second one written and might post it soon.
Reviews are always wonderful to get. Let me know what you think!
I can do this. Quinn told herself, pulling the collar of her winter coat up to her face as she walked down the crowded New York City street. It's been seven years. I've changed. She'll know that maturity comes with time. She has always had the better grip on the reality of people and their personalities anyway. She rounded the corner and caught sight of her assistant huddled against the wall by the entrance to the studio building. "Is everything set up?"
The nervous young brunette shifted the thick rimmed glasses on her face and smiled between the steam puffs of her breath lifting in the air. "Yes Ma'am. Lighting is now setting up and awaiting your approval. Your equipment, cameras, lenses, and filters are all accounted for and organized as you like. Backdrops are in place and-"
She was cut off with a light smile and a raised hand. "Kim. I know you are still new to this and to working with me," Quinn opened the door and held it, "but all I require is a 'yes'. Okay?" She waved her hand at the nodding girl for her to enter, following close behind her. "I'm not as much of a hard ass as everyone says. And contrary to popular belief, I don't bite."
Kim laughed lightly as she closed the elevator doors and signaled their floor. "Of course not." She commented as if she had known all along.
Quinn arched an eyebrow and decided to break in her new assistant to see if she was going to last. "Actually, I shouldn't say that. I do bite. Just not at work." She lifted her gaze to the illuminating floor indicators above the elevator door while she watched from the corner of her eyes as the brunette shifted in uncertainty. "Hey, Kim?"
"Do you ever joke?" The elevator fell silent until Quinn looked to her assistant and smiled a laughing smile. After another second of hesitation, Kim broke out into a nervous, forced laughter and the elevator dinged its arrival. Quinn stepped out first, shaking her head. She needed to find someone with a sense of humor to work with.
The studio was nothing more than a large, empty loft now occupied by the equipment of the most in demand new photographer in the industry and a crew of stylist, makeup artists, and random paid employees who avoided eye contact and busied themselves as she approached. Quinn wasn't the same bitch she had been in high school, but she did utilize the skills she had perfected in that department to maintain her control if she needed to. She couldn't be seen as a push over. She was still too new. But today, the cowering crew made her nervous. Today was the worst day to be seen as a bitch.
"Is she on her way?" The blonde asked stripping off her coat and throwing it across a vacant chair before busying herself with adjustments in search of perfection.
"She is due here any minute." Kim stated looking over the schedule on her phone, double checking just in case.
"That means she will be here in twenty." Quinn informed her without making eye contact.
"If she is suppose to be here now, then she won't show up for at least fifteen minutes with the maximum being thirty minutes. She has to be fashionably late to make an entrance but not glaringly late to be viewed as unprofessional." She stopped her staging to look at the confused yet intrigued girl. "Because of all the words you could use to describe her, Rachel Berry is anything but unprofessional."
Kim followed closely with scurrying steps as the tall blonde glided through the open space with purpose and poise. "You have worked with her before, then?"
Quinn smirked and laughed to herself as she examined the lighting. "No. I haven't had that professional pleasure yet." She furrowed her brow. "Are these hot lights?"
"Uh…" The lighting technician fumbled with his answer.
"I want to be able to see her, but not see her sweat. Find some warm lights. It may be winter outside but this building is already heated. We don't need to turn it into a sauna."
Quinn left the man to his work, moving on to check her camera equipment. "If you haven't worked with her, you must have heard what she is like then." Kim continued, gaining the infamous dropped brow glare from Quinn. "I'm only asking because I'm a fan of hers. Then again, who isn't right now? I mean, she's only twenty-five and already won Tony Awards and a Grammy for her work on stage. Now with the rumors of her moving to television or film…" Kim sighed in her adoration. "She's just an inspiration of talent."
The blonde smiled away her laughter but nodded her head. "Always has been, even if it wasn't appreciated. Tell you what, why don't you head down and escort her up. Give you some time to tell her how much you admire her. I am sure she would love to hear it."
"Rachel…Rachel, are you even listening to anything I am saying?" An older woman, mid fifties, with graying brown hair asked, nudging the diva sitting next to her in the backseat of the car.
Rachel turned her gaze to her manager and nodded her head with a weak smile. "I am…but if you could repeat the last few things you said just in case."
The woman narrowed her eyes and dropped her hands so they crossed over her lap. "I have known you for several years now, Rachel. Do I even have to finish my thought or are you going to tell me why you seem so…so…nervous?" The woman shuddered at the word. "That's not a word I use to describe you very often."
The diva looked out the car window but really studied her own reflection in the glass. "It's just this photo shoot."
"Rachel, it's like all the others." Her manager answered flatly, returning her attention back to her phone. "The only difference is the photographer is apparently as big a deal as you are. You know, in her own world."
That most definitely was not the only difference, but her manager was the last person she needed to inform of her and Quinn's history. If she did, it would be plastered all over the news stands. 'Rising Star Confronts High School Bully' or 'Old Rivalries Ignite on Set'. She liked working with Margaret. The woman knew what it took to get her client to the top, but Rachel didn't trust her with anything personal.
"Now, I may have to dash off in an hour. I'm trying to like up a few more things for you but sometimes persistence is more appreciated in person." Margaret explained as the car pulled up to their destination. "Can you manage standing in front of a camera by yourself? I'll make sure everything is running smoothly before I go."
Rachel shook her head. She would actually rather get this over with without Margaret's prying eyes around. "I can manage just fine. Go to your meetings. Work your magic." She added with a warm smile to convince the woman to leave her now and not enter for her awkward meeting with her former tormentor.
"Alright then, call me when you're done and let me know how everything went."
Kim literally ran to the car, beating the chauffeur to opening the door. "Miss Berry, it is and honor to meet you. I mean, a true honor. My name is Kim I am Miss Fabray's assistant. I will be escorting you up to the studio."
Rachel smiled lightly in amusement as she exited the car. "Miss Fabray…"
"Yes. Quinn Fabray."
Rachel hadn't realized she had spoken out loud and waved her hand in the air. "Yes, I know. I'm just…not accustomed to hearing her referred to as Miss Fabray." She tried explaining as she followed the nervous girl into the building. "May I ask you a question?"
Kim's eyes widened in surprise and overwhelming joy when her idol grabbed her arm to stop her from entering the elevator. "Of course! Anything!"
Just a little too eager for Rachel's taste. "Tell me what it is like to work for Quinn. Is she pleasent?"
Kim hesitated, looking around, but couldn't refuse the diva's request. "To be honest with you, I have just started working for her recently. She's been shuffling through assistants since her last permanent one quit…citing personal issues as a reason for her departure. Not to say Miss Fabray is hard to work with. From what I have observed she simply likes things to run smoothly, requiring everything to be set to specific detail."
"She's professional." Rachel clarified for herself. "That is a quality I can appreciate." And be thankful for. Hopefully it would carry her through this today.
"She said as much."
"What do you mean?" Rachel asked finally allowing them to enter the elevator.
"She somehow accurately predicted that you would be between fifteen and thirty minutes late as to make an entrance without seeming unprofessional." The diva huffed a laugh at her predictability. It was strange to have someone who already knew her be involved in her career. It had always been a world of strangers. "She seems to be a good read of character."
Rachel shook her head. "Not really. She just knows me better than I thought she did. We went to high school together." Kim's eyes widened and her jaw dropped in her shock. "It's been a very long time since we've seen each other though. So here's to old times." She muttered the last part to herself as the elevator reached the top floor.
Her eyes instantly scanned the busy, yet empty space, for the blonde. "I'll let her know you are here. Can I take your coat?" Rachel unbuttoned her coat and handed it to the young girl as her eyes fixed on Quinn just over the assistant's shoulder. She was standing with her back to Rachel, talking with a man and issuing orders. Her posture was strong but not ridged and uptight like it had been in high school. Rachel found herself silently wishing Quinn would turn so she could see her face. It had been so long.
As if she heard the brunette's plea, Quinn turned to point out directions and her eyes caught Rachel's. The diva could read her lips as she told the man she would be right back but never broke her shared gaze with Rachel. It wasn't a glare or a stare with animosity or distaste behind it, but almost as if the hazel orbs were smiling at her.
Quinn looked just the same but with the slightly more angular features of maturity. Her walk was something Rachel wasn't expecting to notice but the sway was undeniable to her eyes. The long legs took equally long strides that slowed as she approached. To ease any of Rachel's worries further, the blonde smiled the most genuine smile she had ever seen on the blonde's lips.
"Rachel," The diva smiled at her name falling from the former head cheerleader's lips. No nicknames. Another good sign.
"Quinn," The two women embrace in a quick hug before Quinn took a step back to give Rachel her space. She had no false illusions that Rachel had magically forgotten the years of torment she had put her through. Quinn wanted the diva to know she had changed, grown up and matured, but without it feeling like she was in denial that anything was ever wrong between them.
The two stood in silence as they adjusted to each other's presences after so long. This time, as equals. "Seven years." Quinn finally said, breaking the silence. "It's a long time. I've been trying to figure out all morning just how to start this conversation but have yet to discover an appropriate starting place. The best I could come up with was, congratulations on obtaining your dream and…and I'm glad you didn't allow me to stand in you way."
Rachel was taken aback by the comment. She had never seen Quinn as someone who could jeopardize her dream but could also see where she might have thought she was. Most teenagers would have crumbled under some of the cruel and hurtful comments she had read in response to her Myspace videos. Quinn was a reason Rachel hated school, but never her dream. "Quinn,"
The blonde stopped her. "I have every intention of keeping this photo shoot professional but I just need to say that I am sorry." She paused and faltered in her strong posture, giving Rachel the dominate presence in the room. "I have been sorry for everything I've done and said to you for a very long time. Just too proud to admit it. And I needed to say it."
Rachel hesitated, making sure Quinn was done. Her hazel eyes lifted from the ground to meet hers and she knew it was her turn. "You're right. Seven years is a very long time. A lot can happen. Congratulations on your success as well. Who would have known you would become a famous photographer?"
Quinn laughed at the statement. "Not even me. Then again, there are a lot of things in my life that I was never expecting." The diva was curious but didn't press as Quinn turned her head to look over her shoulder. "Everything is ready. I'll just show you the concept the magazine has decided on and then I'll turn you over to the stylists."
Rachel had always felt uncomfortable at photo shoots but never allowed it to show. She hated being pulled and pushed constantly by hair and makeup artists, the open critics of her photos and what imperfections they would have to photoshop out. She felt like an ant being held under a magnifying glass with the hot sun being funneled down on top of her. It was torture but she always put on a Rachel Berry smile and pressed through it.
Coming into this shoot with Quinn as the photographer, Rachel was expecting to have trouble even doing that. She hadn't slept well since she heard who this new and oh-so-amazing photographer actually was. Yet, here she was, following Quinn over to a table against the wall, feeling as if the two had always been around each other.
"They are naming you the new hope for bringing the younger generations flooding back into musical theaters instead of the movie theaters. So what they are wanting to do is a comparison shot in a sense. We are going to get you all dolled up in the flowing theatre dresses from back in the day first. You know, Phantom of the Opera, Think of Me, type dress. To represent the talent you have rivals those of the legends." Quinn met her eyes quickly and smiled in her agreement with the statement. "And then, we are going to set you up for a more modern, younger…sexier shot."
"Sexier?" That was another word that was not commonly used to describe Rachel Berry. She had every ounce of confidence in her voice, not so much with her 'sexiness'.
"Yeah. Sexy." Quinn ran her eyes over the diva's worry written face and smiled broadly. "It will look great. I promise. I can already see it in my mind."