Sobs echo throughout the deserted hallway, it's a rather eerie sound, being able to hear someone in so much pain but having no idea where it was stemming from. Surely it's a girl and as I make my way slowly down the hallway hawk-eyed, I'm growing more and more confident that it's coming from the girl's bathroom. I'm not even supposed to be in the hallway at this moment, the only reason I'm back is because I left a textbook that I need to use in order to complete a silly homework assignment. Come to think of it, I haven't run into a janitor yet so I briefly wonder if it could be the beastly female janitor that is crying rather loudly in the bathroom, lord knows I would probably cry too if I was almost 40 and still living in Lima as a Janitor. The idea of living in Lima after high school alone could make me cry, and not just because I'm trained to cry on cue. Still, a part of me hopes that if I ever allowed such a travesty to happen to my future self that someone would comfort me, even if it was just a simple pat on the back. It would be better than nothing. I'm no stranger to weep sessions in the 2nd floor bathroom, they're all too familiar to me; and although I would be mortified if someone cared enough to comfort me, I sometimes just wish that someone would care at all. Depressing I know, but my life isn't all that bad. I do have things going for me, which is why I can't allow these thoughts to discourage me. Once my name is in lights, it will have all been worth it, or so I tend to tell myself.
I've been shrugging a lot which is something my acting coach has me doing, in case I should ever land the role of an aggravated delinquent who uses shrugging to communicate their indifferences. I plan on perfecting the technique by my next acting session; I shrug to myself as I shut my locker door. I make my way down the hall, I've already done my good deed of the day when I helped Tina hit her high note, but Daddy says there is always room for more good deeds. He'll be thrilled when we discuss this over dinner later tonight; we always talk about our days in excruciating detail. So here I stand, just outside the wooden door, bracing myself for the extremely awkward, uncomfortable, and potentially rewarding acting experience that I'm about to put myself in.
What I find instead surprises me, so much so that I'm unable to communicate to my legs that I need to get the heck out of this situation. There on the floor is one very broken Quinn Fabray, knees to her chest and head down, crying rather vehemently. The tiny blonde has no idea anyone is in the small room with her, let alone that it's someone she despises so thoroughly, that is until she hears the wooden door close behind me. I curse the janitor for not fixing the spring mechanism on the heavy door, not that it would have helped me avoid this predicament in the first place. She looks up sharply, her eyes redder than the red cheerleading uniform that she normally adorns, I'm thankful she's not wearing it, something about it intimidates me. She glares at me, I clearly look as shocked as I feel, her staring tactics normally work on me, and I know she is hoping to scare me out of the bathroom. However, there is nothing normal about this situation. I can easily tell by her face that breaking down on the bathroom floor was not a part of her plan, and I'm guessing that getting caught after she had her breakdown wasn't part of the plan either. She is embarrassed, and when Quinn Fabray is embarrassed, she is wicked.
"What are you doing in here?" she asks, venom lacing throughout every word she speaks.
It's nothing I haven't heard before, but for some reason, I'm frightened more so than I usually am. A set of strange emotions rise through me, sure I'm frightened, but I also feel needed.
I finally close my gaping mouth, and take a timid step backwards just by default. I don't know why the feeling won't leave my body, it's like I can sense that she needs someone and in her state might even settle for someone like me. No, it's almost as if she wants it to be me. The small voice in the back of my head is laughing at me, she hates me. Our history provides more than enough examples for validation of this fact even though I have never done anything specifically to her. Sure I told her boyfriend Finn that the baby Quinn was carrying wasn't his, but that was for a different reason entirely, Quinn was just wounded in the cross fires, my intent was never to hurt her. I know the spitfire blonde doesn't like me, it's about as clear as a Windexed window, and still I can't turn my back on her, no matter how badly this cheerleader has burned me in the past.
"I heard crying" I barely choke out, my voice is lower than I remember it being a few minutes ago, I chalk it up to being afraid that anything louder will enrage the blonde even further. "Are you all right?"
Quinn's sniffle lets me know that she is in no way all right, the back of her sleeve comes up to wipe the tears that seem never ending.
"I'm fine" she replies in that nasally tone, the one where I know she's lying. That and the fact that she hasn't made any effort to bring herself to her feet, "You can go now" she tells me slowly, annunciating each word.
I study her as she sits on the floor, she finds it hard to look back, the second her hazel eyes leave mine, I know that I can't possibly leave her alone.
With some newfound courage, I take another step into the room, "You don't look fine"
One step turns into two and before I can stop myself, I'm sitting on the floor next to Quinn. I wrap my arms securely around her fragile and shaking form and to my surprise and without hesitation Quinn throws her own arms around my waist, she gathers some of my clothing under her fists.
After a few minutes of listening to her cries, I begin to worry that this isn't something that is just going to pass. I'm deeply concerned, whatever made Quinn cry has been building up for some time now, people don't normally cry like this for any reason. Her head is tucked neatly under my chin as she's hunched over, her body practically melds into mine without effort, I try not to smile at the realization. I know that this is no time to think of such things, but I've always felt that Quinn was far too pretty to cry. It's painful to see her disheveled like this, it's heartbreaking to witness, and it's bothering me that Quinn doesn't care that her dress is getting ruined by the grimy floor. Quinn's confidence is nowhere in sight, she's an utter mess and I try to swallow down the realization that her only lifeline is me, Rachel Berry.
I decide to just continue on with the only thing that I can do for her in this moment, what I would want someone to do for me, rub small circles on her back and whisper her shushes, hopefully the combination will get her to calm down. Eventually Quinn's tears subside and I'm not sure if it is because of my soothing words or for the shear fact that she is all cried out.
"Your voice really is beautiful" she whispers out into the silence that we've created.
I blush immensely; I didn't even know that I was singing. How horribly embarrassing of me.
Quinn's head stays in its position on my lap for a few minutes longer, her hands are—I think—absentmindedly playing with the hem of my skirt, while I just continue to run my fingers through her blonde waves. I'm still afraid to break the delicate silence. I know that she was the first one to speak, and with a compliment of all things, but I'm afraid that once she remembers it's me with her, this fragile moment will be just a distant memory.
"Why do you do that?" Quinn's raspy voice breaks the peaceful air.
I clear my throat, "Do what?"
"Not listen. You stayed, when I told you to go"
For once there is no malice, no conviction, it just was. I take in her statement, desperately searching for an answer that will appease her, searching for an answer that I'm not sure even I can describe.
"You needed someone" I reply, the room falls into a silence once again.
Quinn shuffles and begins to sit up, it takes her a few seconds to get the cloudy look out of her eyes, her vision is most likely slightly dizzy and I imagine her head is pounding from crying for so long. She studies her fingers, almost as if she's ashamed of herself. If only I can find the words to let her know that she has nothing to be ashamed of.
She barely scoffs, "I would have left"
"I know" I whisper softly, she would have been gone in a heartbeat; I try not to think of how badly the truth hurts me, "I'm also not you"
She looks at me with a ghost of a smile on her lips. In a strange way I know that this is her way of showing that she's appreciative of my existence for once, Quinn would never outwardly say thank you, she is far too stubborn for that. I give a nod to acknowledge her, conveying that I understand everything that she possibly can't speak aloud, not to me at least.
"Did you want to talk about it?" I find myself asking anyway, I tilt my head, hoping to reconnect with her piercing eyes once again.
Quinn can only shake her head no, I'm sure she's afraid that she will start crying again if she thinks too much about the reason she is crying in the first place. She looks up suddenly, a pensive expression on her face, almost as if she's grasping at something, she wants to set the record straight.
"I do want to talk about it" she looks at me, hazel eyes making my breath hitch, "Just not right now"
Somehow I do understand, I also know that one day Quinn will tell me what happened in the bathroom today, twenty minutes ago I never would have expected myself to have such faith in Quinn telling me anything. And I have already decided that I will be there for her when she is ready.
A ringing phone blares through the stillness of the night, I sit upright in my bed, it's completely dark, I realize that my pink and black Diva eye cover is still around my head. I lift it up as I desperately reach for the sound as I do every morning when my alarm goes off. I can't believe that it is already time to get ready for school. Just as I'm about to silence the phone, the ID lights up again nearly blinding me, an unknown number flashes on the screen.
Using logic and reason to the best of my sleep deprived ability, I hit the send key. I have a strange irrational fear that every time the phone rings, the person on the opposite end of the phone is going to tell me that my dog was run over. I know how silly it is, considering I don't even own a dog, but I always expect the worst. I also don't have that many people calling me. So immediately when I hear muffled cries on the other end of the receiver, and I realize that it's nearly three in the morning, my heart attack begins and panic sets in for my imaginary dog Gene Kelly.
"Hello, who is this?" I ask in a hushed whisper.
"I didn't know where else to go"
I can't be sure that is what I just heard; it's fairly difficult to comprehend anything at this hour, let alone someone speaking to me through cries.
"Quinn?" I finally guess, hoping I'm right, for what reason I can't be sure.
The other voice whimpers something jumbled and I'm now very certain that it is in fact the blonde cheerleader on the other end of the line.
"What's the matter? Where are you? Is it Gene?"
I shake my head, irrational Rachel needs to learn when to silence herself. I couldn't help but go from confused to alarmed in less than milliseconds once it was confirmed that it was Quinn that was dry heaving into the receiver.
Finally it seems that she can produce an answer coherently enough, "Outside"
I shoot out of bed and walk over to my window; sure enough I can see a small red car parked on the opposite side of my street.
"Stay there" I tell her before I hang up.
I don't even worry about finding shoes, or care about covering up my scarcely clothed body, I have one thing on my mind in this moment and that is Quinn Fabray.
I sneak down the stairs and out of my house in record time; I walk briskly towards the car that appears to already be off.
I can see that she's still in the car so I grab the handle and luckily it's already unlocked, I didn't feel like fighting her to let me inside. I slide myself in so that I'm sitting in the passenger seat, I turn to see her scared of what I will find, red eyes and tear stained cheeks is what greets me. I reach across the center console, not caring about formalities or that I'm in her personal space for the second time today. I'm able to wrap my arms around her; Quinn almost immediately does the same upon the contact. Her grip on me only tightens with time, my grip matches hers.
Wordlessly, I get out of the car after what feels like an eternity and walk around to the driver side door, opening it to reach in and pull the cheerleader out. The blonde doesn't fight me once and we are sitting on my bed in no time, the only light in the room is coming from the walk in closet.
Quinn is sitting with one leg dangling off of the bed, the other tucked neatly under her leg. Her knuckles have already been cracked and cracked again but it doesn't stop her from continuing to try, her gaze is far off, and she is still dressed in her clothing from the previous day. Surprisingly her pale yellow sundress doesn't seem to be ruined by the disgusting bathroom floor as I originally anticipated, I briefly wonder if she knew that it wouldn't be harmed.
After she declines my proposal for a glass of water—twice, I decide to join her on the bed, I'm unsure of how to begin prodding the information out of the torn girl.
"Puck and I got into a fight this morning" Quinn suddenly breaks the silence.
I sit up a little straighter, giving my full attention her.
"Is this the reason that has you so upset?" I ask after it was clear that she wasn't going to further elaborate.
"Yeah" she sighs almost simultaneously, "No"
This time I know better and bite my cheek in order to allow the girl to speak when she can conjure up the words she wants to say.
"I hate my life" she finally says, painfully honest, it breaks my heart into pieces.
I so badly want to interject and list hundreds of reasons as to why the girl is completely insane for thinking something like this. How could she believe that she doesn't have everything going for her, that there aren't thousands of people in Lima that envy her. That I envy everything about her. I model my confidence and stride off of her flawlessness, I can only hope to be as beautiful as her one day. I stay silent.
Quinn laughs, almost satanically, "You have no idea what it's like to have all of this pressure"
I want to retort with something along the lines of 'of course I do' but I think better of it, this isn't about me for once.
"Is Noah pressuring you?" I ask, I'm immediately upset and disappointed in the boy if this is the case.
She laughs eerily again, it sends a chill down my spine, I look down, it could have been because I'm still half naked in my silk nightgown.
"It's not just him" she replies before sniffling.
Before I can stop myself, I'm reaching out to rub the girls back, hoping that I can give her some of the courage she is suddenly lacking.
"My dad wants to come back home" she finally says.
A gasp escapes my mouth before I knew I was producing one. I'm in no way close to Quinn but I faintly understand her past and what had happened to her while she was pregnant. I learned through Finn and some of the other Glee members about what the cheerleader had to endure. I admired her perseverance through it all. It's then that I realize how big of a deal this is for her.
"What has your Mom said?"
She scoffs, "She's willing to forgive my father, she's waiting for my answer, they're both waiting for my answer"
I understand what kind of pressure this puts on the fragile girl, after all, it is up to her whether or not their family could be salvaged and put back together again.
"I can't" she barely chokes out, "I can't look at him and not hate him for the things that he's done" her gaze is once again far off, I instantly recall her using the same tone with me after I revealed to Finn the real father of the baby, it's unmistakable.
I still don't know how to console her, so I continue to just rub her back and shoulders.
"I have Puck, but he's slipping away. If I don't have sex with him, he'll be gone"
"Oh I'm sure that's not true" I cut in, giving the boy some credit.
Quinn turns sharply towards me, I wince expecting a lash out, she must have seen my reaction because her features are soft when I open my eyes again, "No he will, he told me today" she says sadly.
I nod, understanding where her breakdown earlier in the bathroom probably stemmed from.
"I hate cheerleading" she continues to list the things off, "I'm going to be stuck in Lima until I die, I'll probably be a Janitor or lunch lady." She continues.
I can't help but smile softly to myself.
"I won't let that happen to you" I tell her softly, meaning every word, "Cheerleading isn't everything, and forget Puck, you can have anyone that you want. As for your Dad, he'll have to prove to you that he's worth your time"
"I have no real friends"
"Brittany and Santana love you"
Quinn finally shows me a glimpse of a smile; she's amused with my ability to have an answer for everything, a quality I'm sure she used to hate. Her smile turns into a frown almost immediately.
"I wish I kept my baby" she lets out, I can tell she's never said it aloud before. The way her voice breaks and cracks is evidence of that. Now that the words are hanging in the air between us, Quinn's body shakes with silent sobs. "Oh god"
I scoop her crying body into my arms, I don't care that her tears are soaking my bare shoulder, I don't hate the fact that I'm whispering in her ear that everything will be okay. I care that I'm starting to let my guard down when I'm with her, and I hate the fact that I'm telling her everything will be okay even though I'm not sure that it will be. I sing softly to her to cover up my own doubts about everything, hoping for just a moment, I can give her the hope that she needs.
What do we think? Worth it?