A/N – This takes place before the first episode of the second season. All of season one happened and I pick it up from the end of summer.
Rachel walked into William McKinley High School at the start of the new year with a renewed sense of hope that this year things would be better. Glee Club was still active despite their loss at Regionals and she had spent some time over the summer planning and wondering about the songs they would sing this year. She was also dating the quarterback and surely that had to do something for her. Sure, the football team was awful and Finn's reputation had taken quite a beating, but some popularity was better than no popularity at all, right? Rachel sighed as she thought about it. In truth, she didn't really care if Finn was quarterback or not, but she knew how important it was to him. She had been sorry to see the summer end because she worried about Finn being back here at school. They had been able to spend the summer in a bubble without all the outside pressures of bullies and jocks. The call of the school hierarchy always managed to get Finn to answer it. She hoped things would be different this year with Finn, but she never let her hopes get too high.
The summer had been with for the two of them, but that had been the extent of it. Not that Rachel didn't like fun, she did, but she also wanted someone she could talk to and share with. She often wondered if Finn felt the same way about her. Could he share as little with her in the same way she wasn't able to share with him? Conversations were never deep and kisses were always chaste and for whatever reason, neither of them ever rocked the boat. But why rock the boat. It had been fun and he had been good company.
And company was something that Rachel craved. Finn, bless his heart, was not the brightest person she had ever been attracted to. He had only asked once why her dads were never home. Work, she had told him. It wasn't a lie. Both of her fathers worked a lot. One was a doctor and one was the VP at a local company. They felt the need to be in the OR or a business meeting much more than they felt the need to be home. She knew her parents had been unhappy for years and she figured it was easier for them to focus on their separate lives rather than their life together with their daughter. They both travelled quite a bit for work. At first they would try and alternate the weekends so that someone would be home with her, but lately they were apt to be gone at the same time, sometimes for a week or more. Not that it really mattered. When they were home conversations consisted of "how was your day?" and "goodnight, sweethearts." She tried to talk with them over tense family dinners and they nodded and told her she sang like an angel and then slipped into silence. She wondered what they were like at the beginning of their marriage. She reasoned that they must have really been in love to go through the trouble of finding a surrogate and bring a child into the world. Maybe it had been a challenge they wanted to overcome. Was she their proof that two gay men could raise a child? The problem was, Rachel felt like she had been raising herself for years now. She felt like she had once been a novel idea to them, but now the novelty had worn off. She talked them up at school. Everyone knew she had two gay dads and she let them believe it was wonderful and that she was given more love than one kid could handle. It was certainly easier than having to answer any questions.
Rachel knew she came across as annoying and bitchy to most people, even those she considered friends; although she was well aware that they didn't return that consideration. She just desperately wanted to be noticed. She craved attention. She understood it from an intellectual standpoint. She received no attention at home so she used the one talent she was sure of to get it from everyone else. There were times when she was self-aware enough to almost cringe at herself and wish she could reign in her behavior. And other times she was completely oblivious to how she affected people. Intellectually she got it. She just wished someone would explain it to her heart. It made her ache to know that most people didn't like her. She wanted so much to please them and she always ended up making it worse. Was she truly that bad? Most people seemed to barely be able to tolerate her. Even Finn was usually only half paying attention. Her mother had even turned her back and walked away. Shelby had broken her heart. She had walked away from Rachel even as she was adopting a newborn. But as much as Rachel tried, she couldn't hate her. She wished the best for Shelby and Beth. Rachel hoped that the little girl got to experience everything wonderful that Rachel had always wished for herself.
Rachel stood at her locker and started putting the things she would need for the school year in it. Quinn noticed her as she walked by on her way to her own locker, but she didn't say anything. She was sure she'd hear enough of Rachel later during Glee and she didn't want to hear her voice right now. Besides, when had she ever said hello to Rachel Berry voluntarily?
Quinn had spent the summer getting back into shape and getting to know her mother again. Judy Fabray had taken her second chance seriously and was doing her best to be able to step up to the plate. She had been able to change herself into the mother she had always wanted to be but had never been able to under her husband's oppressive thumb. Quinn had been skeptical at first, but she found that she loved this new mom that she could talk to and kiss goodnight. The first few weeks after Beth's delivery had been very hard, but Judy had been there for Quinn, this time with love and acceptance instead of judgment and disappointment. Judy showered Quinn with hugs and kisses and attention. And even discipline. Quinn had spent two weeks of her summer grounded after the second time she missed curfew and stayed out well into the middle of the night. Judy had been worried about Quinn's reaction, but she knew if she was going to be a complete mom than this was part of that. For her part, Quinn had given a half-hearted argument, but in the end had accepted her mother's sentence. It made her feel 16 again; like maybe she could still be a kid, and that was a feeling Quinn hadn't felt in a long time.
As the summer came to a close Quinn and Judy were happier than they had been in perhaps ever. Judy's divorce was finalized and Quinn didn't think about her father all that often. She thought about Beth all the time, but she knew in her heart that she had done the right thing. Quinn talked to Shelby on the phone a few times a month. She was able to ask her questions and ease her worries and Shelby had been able to give Quinn something Rachel's fathers never gave her; peace of mind. Shelby always asked about Rachel but Quinn didn't have any answers for her. Shelby had questioned one time if she had made the right decision with Rachel and Quinn had known the question had not really been for her. Shelby was thinking out loud as she tried to work it out for herself. Shelby, like everyone, believed Rachel to be happy and doted on by two loving parents. When she had walked away she really thought she had been doing what was best for Rachel and she was sorry every day that she had gotten Rachel and Jesse involved in anything at all. But even though she and Rachel had spent so little time together Shelby found that she missed her daughter. Every conversation between Quinn and Shelby ended with the older woman assuring Quinn that she loved Beth and Rachel; and would Quinn please not mention any of this to Rachel. Quinn always promised that she wouldn't.
Rachel frowned as she watched Finn make his way down the hall to her. He was high-fiving some football players and he arrived at Rachel just in time to laugh at the joke Santana made about her. Rachel sent him a glare but he didn't understand it and she cast her gaze down, embarrassed. Quinn watched from across the hall and shook her head. God, he really was an idiot.
Rachel asked Finn if they could go somewhere and talk. She needed to do this now before she lost her nerve. The summer had been fun, but she couldn't compete with football and his popularity and she wasn't sure she wanted to try anymore. She didn't want him to give up football, she just wanted to know that she fit somewhere in that world too and she was pretty certain she didn't. The break-up had gone better than she thought. He seemed relieved though she could tell he was trying to hide it. They promised each other that they were still friends and parted saying they would see each other later in Glee.
Rachel's first three classes passed in a blur of first day rules and hand-outs, class expectations and workloads. Even the teachers didn't seem to care, but they had to get the first day stuff out of the way. She stopped by her locker before lunch. She didn't see it coming as she closed the locker door, and she certainly wasn't prepared for it, but Rachel found herself with grape slushie dripping down her face and out of her hair. She had actually been hit with two, effectively covering her clothes as well. Rachel didn't get a look at the people who threw the slushies, but she could hear others around her laughing as she wiped her eyes. It was true that some things never change. The worst part about this slushie attack was not the pointing and laughing or the fact that it was just the first day of school; the worst part was that she had not yet brought any spare clothes to school. She ducked into the nearest bathroom and started pulling out paper towels so she would clean her face off. She didn't feel like she could skip the rest of the day since it was the first day so she was resigning herself to spending the rest of the day with her clothes covered in dry, sticky grape goo.
She wiped her face and looked in the mirror to see Quinn stepping out of one of the stalls. It was then that Rachel realized that the restroom she had chosen was the one that connected to the Cheerios locker room. Oh god.
"Berry," Quinn said as she washed her hands.
"You're a Cheerio again," Rachel said, noting the red and white uniform the blonde was wearing. "Congratulations."
Quinn only nodded. "Who threw that at you?"
Rachel shrugged her shoulders and her bottom lip quivered as tears threatened to fall. "I don't have a change of clothes," she said trying to pull herself together.
Quinn frowned at the girl as a pang of guilt rose in her chest. No, she had not been responsible for this attack, but she had been responsible for others. Had she never really been able to see how much it hurt the smaller girl before? She suddenly got a flash of Beth being bullied and it made her heart ache. Sure, she was only 16 and her mom still grounded her, but she had a child now and a new perspective on things.
"I have some clothes you can wear," Quinn told her.
Rachel looked at her suspiciously, as if Quinn was in on this and giving her clothes was the next part of the joke.
"I brought some jeans and a t-shirt and Chuck's today. I always have them around in case we need them for Glee."
"Oh," Rachel said, surprised a Quinn's foresight.
"They'll be a little big, but you can wear them."
"Thanks," Rachel replied.
Quinn went to retrieve the clothes as Rachel finished cleaning her face and hair. When Quinn retuned she waited for Rachel to get dressed. When Rachel came out of the stall Quinn couldn't help but chuckle at the sight of Rachel in pants that were too long for her. Quinn had her sit on one of the benches in the locker room and helped her roll up the legs so that they rested just below her ankles. Rachel slipped the black converse on her feet and tied them as tight as possible because they were too big. Quinn had given her a bag to put her dirty clothes in and the two sat in companionable silence for a few moments. The bell rang and brought them out of their thoughts and reminded them that they weren't friends.
"Thank you, Quinn. I'll return the clothes as soon as possible," Rachel said.
"You're welcome, Rachel. And there's no hurry," Quinn told her.
Rachel couldn't help but smile at the use of her name. It never seemed to be the first thing people thought to address her by.
The rest of the day passed quickly and even Glee seemed to have been weighed down by the first day nonsense. Rachel changed when she got home and put Quinn's clothes in the wash. When they were finished she started another load of her slushie stained clothes and then set off for Quinn's house. She had folded the jeans and t-shirt and put them in a bag with the socks and shoes and started her walk.
It was Judy who answered the knock at the door to find the small brunette looking up at her.
"Hello, Mrs. Fabray. Can I see Quinn? I need to return her clothes," Rachel asked politely, holding up the bag for Judy to see.
"Of course," Judy said stepping aside so that Rachel could enter. She was confused, but she wasn't going to leave the girl standing outside. She didn't know her and couldn't think of why she would have Quinn's clothes. They stood at the bottom of the stairs and Judy called Quinn down from her room.
"Hey, Berry. Trying out a new look," Quinn teased as she descended the stairs and caught sight of Rachel. She had softened earlier in the bathroom with Rachel, but old habits die hard. Rachel looked down at the t-shirt, yoga pants and tennis shoes she was wearing. She had opted for comfort for the walk.
"This is what I wear when I work out in the mornings," Rachel replied. "I brought you your clothes back. I washed them when I got home. Thank you again."
"No problem," Quinn told her. "And I told you there was no hurry. Oh, and mom this is Rachel Berry. Rachel this is my mom. We're in Glee together."
Judy and Rachel nodded hellos before Judy asked, "Why did you have her clothes?"
"Oh, well I was slu-"one look at Quinn and Rachel could see the pleading in her face. Rachel suddenly realized that that Judy had no idea about slushies. She wondered if the woman knew anything about the bullying her daughter had dished out over the years. Quinn's face told Rachel that Judy did not. "I spilled something on myself at school," Rachel told Judy. "And Quinn lent me some clothes to wear."
Judy beamed at her daughter and Quinn suddenly looked ashamed.
There was a beat of awkward silence before Rachel said that she needed to get going. She handed the bag of clothes to Judy who thanked her and left to put them with the rest of the clean clothes in the laundry room. Rachel turned and headed for the door, only to be stopped by Quinn.
"Rachel, wait. Thanks. For not saying anything to my mom." Rachel started to reply only to be cut off by Quinn. Judy had walked back in and was standing in the doorway of the kitchen, behind Rachel. "I didn't see your car outside. When I heard someone knocking at the door I looked out the window, but I didn't see a car," Quinn said.
Rachel gave her a confused look at the sudden change in topic, but told her, "I'm 15, Quinn. I don't have a car. Or a license. I walked."
"But that's over five miles one way," Quinn said. "Why didn't one of your parents give you a ride?"
"My dads aren't home. They'll be gone all week," Rachel answered before she realized what she was doing. She was usually much more careful than that.
Rachel quickly looked up at Quinn's face to gage her reaction and she found that the blonde was looking over Rachel's shoulder. Rachel spun around to see Judy looking at her and she realized she had made a big mistake. She didn't know the woman had come back into the room.
"All week?" Judy asked. "Are you staying there alone?" The look on her face dared Rachel to lie to her.
"Yes, ma'am, but I'm used to it." Crap! "I mean, it's no big deal. I'm perfectly capable of taking care of myself."
"Nonsense! You just said yourself that you're only 15. You shouldn't be staying by yourself," Judy countered.
The first thought to come to Rachel's mind was that these were big words coming from a woman who helped kick out her pregnant 16-year-old. Quinn seemed to know what Rachel was thinking and shook her head at the girl.
"You're staying here," Judy said.
"What?" was the hasty reply from both Quinn and Rachel. They spoke over each other to Judy, both arguing why that was impossible. Judy caught bits of "mom, no" and "I really can't" along with plenty of other excuses. Finally she held her hand up and Quinn and Rachel reluctantly stopped pleading their cases. They both knew that they were not going to win this one.
"You're going to stay here, young lady, and I don't want to hear another word about it," Judy said to Rachel. "From either of you," she continued, looking over to Quinn. Rachel could only nod as a second wave of protests died on Quinn's lips.
"Quinn, drive her home and," she looked over to Rachel, "pack up everything you need for a week. You'll take the guest room and you can ride to school with Quinn."
Rachel glanced to Quinn, an apologetic look gracing her features. Quinn looked to be in shock at the prospect of sharing her home with Rachel Berry. It was one thing to tone down her attitude somewhat at school and not be so mean to her, but it was quite another thing all together to have to have the young singer staying in her house.
"Get going, Quinn," Judy said when the girls didn't make a move to leave. "I'd like to talk with Rachel before you two go to bed tonight."
Rachel sucked in a breath. This was not going to be good.
"Come on, Berry," Quinn said as she grabbed her keys and headed for the front door. Rachel did not miss the daggers Quinn was shooting her. The brunette offered up a small, wary smile to Judy before dutifully following Quinn out the door.
A/N – Please review if you can. I appreciate it. More to come soon.