"And in today's sleeze, everyone's favorite love-to-hate diva Rachel Berry has been court ordered to see a therapist as part of her plea agreement regarding her July 14th arrest, the celeb avoided rehab and 30 days in jail after the Drunk in Public charges were dropped last week when police neglected to give her a breathalyzer. Berry accepted the therapy and in return her Resisting Arrest charge was dropped. What do you guys think? Did she get let off too easi—"
"For Christ's sake, turn this God damn station off."
Honestly, is it that hard to realize that I'm still sitting in the car? Why would I want to hear some underpaid and pathetic radio station DJ talk about my life like he knows what happened?
"My apologies, Miss Berry."
I sigh and look out the window before throwing the tabloid across the seat. There's a thin light drizzle coming down every few minutes, not enough for an umbrella but enough to glisten the cars. I close my eyes and take a deep breath. I want to apologize to the man, but I would never. I can see his eyes down casted through the rearview mirror and it makes my stomach twist. I grab the black remote and point it towards him. Within seconds the heavily tinted window is up and I'm left alone in my thoughts.
My eyes train on the yellow cabs that drive by me, some people looking, and some people too caught up in their own world to care. A few kids are looking out the window wide eyed, first time in New York most likely. I remember my first time in this city. I remember sitting in a taxi and passing a limo sitting idly on the side of the road, wondering who it could be, someone famous and glamorous for sure. I wonder if that celebrity was a cold hearted bitch like I turned out to be. I glance at the watch my father gave me for Hanukah 3 years ago, the only possession I truly adore, and notice that my assistant has been gone for far too long.
I miss the smell of a Starbucks, I miss the interaction, I miss staring at the chalked board for 5 minutes debating on whether I wanted a hot or a cold drink. People didn't recognize me, and then they were star struck, and now they're just judgmental and disgusted by me. I stopped going in a year ago.
The door opens and for a second I'm hit with car horns and chatter from the people that pass by, my assistant slides into the car, and hands me my cup. I take a sip, I need the caffeine. She waits patiently, eying me in curiosity. This is my 4th assistant of the year, a testament to my ways, considering I didn't fire any of them. They all left voluntarily, and rather hastily. Lauren has been around the longest however, she's my 6th assistant overall. If she was smart, she'd quit too, she could get any job she wanted after enduring Rachel Berry for 4 months. Maybe it's because she's young, and a little naïve. Maybe it's because she's paying off student loans and needs the large paychecks, or maybe it's because she truthfully finds the experience rewarding, which is what she tells me.
She waits. I turn to her and give her a nod; she lets out a sigh and begins to drink her own drink. I still don't know what she gets. I've never asked. She enjoys it though because she gets it every time.
She clears her throat, "I've already called your publicist, and there was nothing she could do about the leak. It was an insider at the courtroom, they're looking into it."
I turn towards her, somehow she always knows. Out of all of my assistants, she's by far the best. I don't tell her that. I would never tell her that I don't push her to the brink because I'd actually miss her if she was gone. She's incredibly attractive too, she's easy to look at and I don't automatically hate her when I look at her. She's also fierce, and it comes out sometimes. I don't mind even if I pretend I do, sometimes I need the slap in the face.
I don't respond, I casually sip my drink and watch the people pass me by as we drive down the streets I used to walk down. I feel stupid in sunglasses, it's raining out and I'm in a heavily tinted limousine. The only purpose they serve are to hide my teary eyes as I wish I could switch places with the people on the street.
"You have a meeting with your new lawyer after therapy and your dinner with Tristan at 143 is at eight now instead of seven, you are instructed to use the front entrance for the paparazzi."
I sigh, "Yes fine, tell me how it is that I'm ordered to do this therapy when all charges were dropped?" I ask, peering out of the window, "Why was he even hired in the first place if he wasn't going to do his job?" I turn towards the girl.
She clears her throat, "Which is why he was fired and replaced."
"He could have at least had the decency to defend me instead of using me for his own personal agenda."
She agrees. I hope it's because she actually agrees and it's not because she's paid to.
The car rolls to a stop and Lauren hops out of the car. The building is tall, too tall for me to make the effort to look up at. She walks ahead of me, I peer left and right, something about the scene is unsettling.
"Yes, Miss Berry?" she turns to look at me.
"If everyone knows I start therapy today, where are all the reporters and assholes?"
I'm not vain; I'm relieved and genuinely curious. It feels so good.
"Everyone was told a false therapist should something leak, luckily we took those precautions. The only people that know are a few people on your staff"
I shrug, somewhat impressed with their initiative, I wonder if it was Lauren's idea. I like to think that the smart ideas are Lauren's.
We walk across the marble flooring to the elevator, as the door closes Lauren peers at her PDA and presses the number 19, there are only 25 floors.
"Where would you like to meet your new lawyer for lunch?"
I run through some options, "I don't care, let him pick."
"Actually, it's a woman."
"Oh, well then let her pick," I correct and study the elevator.
The bell dings and the floor opens.
"So does this Dr. McIntyre know that he's seeing me?" I ask, remembering that only my staff knows who I'm seeing.
I don't even know if the name I have for him is correct. My staff can sometimes be sneakier than I give them credit for.
"Not Dr. McIntyre and I'm sorry Miss Berry but I don't even know his name. I was just told the building and floor," she shrugs, she seems genuinely sorry.
I huff. This is so like whoever it is that pulls the strings, keep me out of the loop.
"Go find out," I snap.
She turns and walks toward the receptionist, announcing my arrival. She's speaking quietly so no one knows that I'm there. I roll my eyes. I bet she's afraid that they'll throw eggs at me or something. I fall into the chair exaggeratedly, there are magazines scattered across the oak table and I survey them. They're all lame so I try to pick the least lame one to occupy my time. I'm not sure what time my appointment is so glancing at my watch doesn't help me at all. I peer over the chair to see my assistant arguing with the receptionist and I smirk. Such fire that one. I wonder what is going on.
I stand up once I hear Lauren practically shriek.
"What's going on?" I ask, I still haven't taken off my sunglasses.
"Everything is fine, Miss Berry," Lauren tries to tell me, "Just a minor misunderstanding that I'm fixing."
"I apologize ma'am but this is not a mistake, if you'd like to see the document then you surely can, I'm afraid not even you can get Miss Berry out of this," the receptionist says. I've seen her before, the way her eyes are on me definitely sends off that alarm. She looks vengeful, passed her fake smile and closed lips, she's enjoying this.
"This is a serious conflict of interest, you understand this?" Lauren snaps.
The receptionist shakes her head, her eyes going back to my assistant's, "I'm afraid I don't understand. But it's out of your hands now," she leans forward, daring Lauren to push further, and I don't like her tone much.
"Someone tell me what the hell is going on," I shout, it was the only way I would be heard and answered.
Lauren looks at me, hesitant; whatever is going on must be pretty big. She's scared.
"Dr. Fabray will see you now," the receptionist pipes up.
Lauren's eyes go wide before she turns and practically growls at the woman behind the desk.
"I'm sorry, what?" I turn to her.
She gives me a smile, a smile that I want to slap off of her face. But I can't afford another assault charge against me, and people are starting to use my mug shots as pictures for me to autograph. I certainly don't intend to give them another photo for their Rachel Berry collectors set.
"I was unaware that I stuttered."
I'm shocked by her response. Not because I'm expecting better treatment because of my status, but because I'm in a professional place of business and that it no way to treat any client. Deserving or not.
Lauren is just as shocked. "Excuse me, but you cannot speak to her like that."
"Jocelyn," a quiet voice manages to boom across the room. My body tenses. "Can I see you in my office please?"
The receptionist is looking rather sheepish when she stands and hangs her head as she walks out of my eye sight. Once I hear the door close I turn towards my assistant.
"What. The. Fuck."
She runs a hand through her recently died brown hair, for the colder months, "I understand completely Miss Berry, had I known, something would have been done about this. I can assure you that I will be on the phone for the rest of the day until this matter is amended."
I wonder briefly how she knows how big of a deal this is, then again, she knows everything.
My voice is low, "Do you understand how big of a conflict this is? How not right this is?" my voice quickly rises, "You will fix this," I tell her pointedly, "I don't care what needs to be done, I will go to jail before I succumb to this, do you understand me?"
She gulps, almost comically, and I would have laughed if it were any other situation, "I understand."
There's fear in her eyes, maybe afraid that this will be her last day as my assistant, she knows this can't be fixed. I know just as well.
The door opens, the red haired receptionist walks out, not making eye contact with any of us and the tall blonde is in the doorway a moment later. I'm facing her now and I can't avoid her.
"Miss Berry, please come in," she gestures sweetly; I can't tell if her smile is real or plastered.
I look towards my assistant one more time, I feel as though I'm walking toward the execution chair.
"You leave if it's too much. I'll have the car back here in 5 minutes," she tells me, I feel a little better.
When I look up again the doorway is empty. I take my time walking towards the office.
Once I get inside, I survey the room. It's spacious and modern; a few antique decorations here and there. She's sitting behind a big dark mahogany desk, her eyes trained down as she's writing something. The walls are an olive green color and there's a white area rug in front of the white couch. For being pure evil, she did have good taste. It was strange not finding any trace of her former self, no pom-poms on the wall, no trophy case full of distant memories, no collages of wild times. Just a few abstract pictures, her diplomas framed on the wall and some other small cliché therapist decorations. Two pictures sat on her desk, angled away from the couch.
She looks up finally, her eyes meeting mine. Well, meeting my sunglasses. She gestures to the couch before she gets up and shuts the door. She comes back to her leather chair and picks up whatever she was working on.
She clears her throat, "Rachel Berry, you understand that this is a court ordered sanction and all charges will be officially dropped upon the completion of 30 hours, at that time with my written analysis and approval stating that you've fulfilled your obligation and I've gotten the desired results, are you legally unbound," she finishes reading peering over to me as I sit in silence, already bored out of my mind.
"I'll assume your silence is your way of agreeing and you can sign the document when you leave today," she glances at her watch and takes off her reading glasses, "Now that that's over with," she rolls her eyes playfully, as if she's trying to down play the entire situation, I'm infuriated.
"You realize how completely fucked up this is right?" I cross my arms.
She's taken aback at first before she quickly recovers with a small smile, she also crosses her arms and leans back in her chair a bit, "I realize, it's also out of my control, I found out 15 minutes before you arrived that you were my 11am," she tells me, like that's supposed to make me feel better.
"Would you mind taking off your glasses while you're in the office?"
"Look, Miss Berry—"
"What? Tired of RuPaul?"
She sighs, "Rachel, is this going to be a constant attack on me? I'd rather not go in circles for the next 10 weeks."
"And I'd rather not be here for the next 10 weeks."
"Look, this needs to be a respectful environment if I'm going to do my job and you want to avoid their punishment for you should you not successfully complete the 30 hours. I will respect you and I ask that you will do the same for me."
"So would you please take off your sunglasses?"
I take them off. Not because she wants me to but because I don't want to end up in jail. Not that this isn't shaping up to be like a jail.
"Thank you," she gives me another smile, "You've certainly made a name for yourself."
"Is that a joke?"
"A mere observation."
"Whatever Fabray, don't sit there and try to patronize me, or think that you're better than me because you're on the other side of that desk. Don't think that you're going to change me or make me believe that you've somehow changed from the person you used to be, you're still a stuck up cheerleader that got pregnant in high school. At least I'm not pretending to be someone I'm not."
She stands out of her chair, bringing along a small folder as she circles to the front of the desk, "Is this going to continue to be about high school? Is that the real reason you're sitting on this couch?" she asks, taking a seat next to me.
"Maybe it is. It doesn't really matter, you're my therapist and you have to listen to what I have to say, if it ends up back to high school then oh well."
She sighs while studying me, "You're right, I shouldn't find it inappropriate that we're talking about the past, nothing about this is normal but that doesn't mean that I shouldn't follow my routine. With my other patients I encourage them to talk frequently about the past; I shouldn't be discouraging you from doing that. Anything is fair game, okay?" she asks, I don't answer. I'm too busy thinking of ways that I can smother her and still get away with it.
She kicks off her heels and they fall to the white carpet, she brings her legs on the couch and leans against the arm rest, fully facing my body. She gets comfortable and rests the folder next to her. I'm still facing ahead, occasionally taking a sip from my Starbucks drink.
"Why don't you believe that I've changed?" she asks after a few minutes of pure silence.
I scoff, "People like you never change, your charm just gets better over the years"
She laughs, "My charm? I was never charming," I stay silent, "You've changed," she observes.
She pulls out the folder that slid into the cushion, she opens it and begins reading, "Drunk and Disorderly in public, Resisting Arrest, a restraining order from a paparazzi, a few assaults, it seems like you're the one that is pretending to be someone else."
"You don't think I have enough people in my life to tell me this type of shit?"
Like, seriously? They're paid to tell me how big of a fuck up I've become.
"I never said I believed any of it," she flings the folder onto the matching mahogany coffee table; it slides before coming to a rest.
This gets me to stop.
"None of those things are true," I tell her.
"Do you want to tell me what happened?"
"Sooner or later you will."
"Well when later gets here, I will," I catch her pursing her lips, "How hard is this for you? To sit here and become frustrated knowing you can't insult me like you normally would? It's got to be tempting."
She shakes her head, "It's not, hard for me that is. And nothing is tempting me; I'm not that person anymore."
"Liar," I reply under my breath, I'm sure she heard me.
It's silent again; I can feel her eyes on me.
"You look good, Rachel," she says after at least 5 minutes. "You've lost some weight and the argyle I see," she smiles.
I glare at her, "So I was fat in High School?"
"No, not at all. I just hope you're staying healthy and eating properly," she says.
"Which is another way of saying I hope you're not a coke head?"
"No, that's not what I was saying."
"It was too, I'm sure you've read all the 'insider stories' of my coke habits and how it's lead to my heroin use."
Fucking Star Magazine.
Her eyes bulge out of her head, "You really do that stuff?"
"Of course not! That's my point, people believe anything."
"Why don't we use our time to confront these types of things, rumors start from somewhere, we can figure out how they're being started and prevent them."
I scoff, "Rumors get started because people have no lives, they built me up and now they're hell bent on my destruction. They think they know me, they think they have some kind of right to judge me, because all I've ever wanted to do was sing so I deserve this kind of treatment."
"You don't deserve that kind of treatment, no one does."
"Well maybe you should be talking to the people that see me run to my car because I'm late for a meeting and decide that because I couldn't sign autographs that I'm ungrateful and rude. Maybe you can psycho-analyze them."
"I'm not psycho-analyzing you, we're just having a conversation."
"Yeah, so this can go into some notebook you keep of the things I say, 'is she crazy? Is she depressed?'" I mock her
She nods, "You're right, I do have to write some notes down, but that's just for me to remember what we discussed so I don't lose track," she tells me.
She must know that I don't believe her so she continues.
"There's a reason I don't have a video camera or voice recorder out like I do with my other patients. Would you rather me sit here and write down everything you say? Would that suit you?" she asks with a little fire behind her voice.
"Why don't you?" I ask, for the first time turning to face her.
She must notice because she has a ghost of a smile on her lips.
"Because I want you to trust me, I don't want you to feel that this is mandatory, I don't want you to feel uncomfortable to talk about things," she says.
I roll my eyes, "It's a little late for that, and you're seriously naïve if you believe that I'm going to discuss my personal life with you after our history together, we're practically natural enemies."
"You don't really believe that, do you?" she asks, for a second she sounds hurt.
"Because you've given me reason to believe otherwise?"
She sighs, not knowing what to say.
"Why don't you go home and dig up your old yearbooks, get a good laugh at all the pictures you defaced of me," I tell her venomously, I think of even more, "Oh! And then I'll bring in mine and you can flip through all the empty pages of lovely messages that people forgot to write me," I tell her bitterly.
There's sadness behind her eyes, by now I'm sitting Indian style on the admittedly comfortable couch.
"I doubt they are all empty," she counters, "Are you sure you've checked every page?"
I study her, she's weird.
"Ya know what? Yeah, I sit in my room every night and turn the pages desperately hoping that a signature will magically appear. Please, I haven't looked at those books since the day I graduated High School, I'd have burned them if I could. I haven't looked back since I left Lima. They're just a reminder of the old Rachel Berry that got stepped on. I do the stepping now."
"Does it make you feel good? Walking over people?"
"Do not suddenly start preaching to me. Do not do it, Quinn. You have no idea what it felt like to have you torment me every single day just for being myself. What it felt like to have no one to turn to because you had them all wrapped around your fingers. You want to know something? I did change; I changed because you made me feel insignificant in my own body. I was tired of waking up in the morning feeling pathetic because you made me feel that way the night before when I had to pick out two school outfits should one get ruined by your slushies, and I was tired of crying myself to sleep because I continued to make excuses for you. You never apologized, you never saw the error in your ways, and you never gave a damn about anyone but yourself. You made me want to run so far away from that town that I refuse to acknowledge it in interviews, that I wasn't by my Dad's side when he was sick, that I had to second guess going back for my own father's funeral. You made me a pathetic nobody back then and I was the one that turned Rachel Berry into a somebody. What you had was practically given to you, and I earned what I have now so don't ask me if it makes me feel good, because it feels damn good. But I'm sure you already knew that."
I'm breathing heavy as I pace the floor behind the couch. When I stood I can't be sure, I may have blacked out during my rant because her face indicates that whatever I said affected her. She's staring at me over the back of the couch, my purse is on my shoulder somehow and my coffee cup is on the table.
"Don't," I tell her and begin walking towards the door, "I'm done for the day."
"You still have another forty minutes," she shakily tells me.
"I don't care, charge yourself for the whole hour. I can't be in this room with you any longer."
And with that I open the door and make sure to let it slam behind me. The receptionist doesn't even bother looking up from the desk as I storm towards the exit and leave the office. The elevator is taking forever to arrive, I don't have the patience to stand and wait. If Quinn comes after me, which I doubt because her pride is everything to her, I don't want to be cornered for her to convince me to stay. I find the stair case and on my way down I phone my assistant.
The car is outside by the time I finished going down 18 flights of stairs, I'm winded but I don't mind the burn. Lauren is outside on the phone, and it's then that I realize I left my sunglasses in her office. She ends the call upon seeing me.
"Miss Berry, is everything okay?"
"Go up and retrieve my sunglasses for me, I forgot them."
She doesn't question me and moves swiftly towards the building and up to the office. I fidget in the car as I wait for her return. She comes back within 5 minutes looking flustered, she slides in and hands me my glasses, which I put on my face almost instantaneously.
"What did she say?"
I know Quinn Fabray and she always needs the last word.
"She didn't say anything."