A/N: It took me such a long time to write this for two reasons: 1.) I couldn't think of anything that I thought was fitting and 2.) I sort of didn't want it to end. Still, I knew it had to, so I wrote this for you all. I hope you've enjoyed this story, and I hope you like this very fluffy final chapter (seriously, I'm pretty sure this chapter makes pillows look like bricks). I want to thank you all for your constant feedback and your words of support. Enjoy :)
"Does my dress look okay? I think it looked better in the store. What do you think?"
I sighed and smiled. This was about the millionth time I'd had to answer this question. It was our graduation, and Rachel was acting like she was accepting a Nobel Peace Prize...or a Tony.
"It's amazing. You couldn't have picked a better dress if you tried," I said from her bed.
"Should I take off the earrings? Are they too much?"
"They're just right," I said. "Plus they match the dress. Stop freaking out."
"And my robe? Is it alright?" she asked, and I wanted to laugh. I should've known this would happen. Rachel was always a little (or very, if I'm being honest) high strung. "I feel like it might be too big. I tried to get a smaller size, but they told me that this was the smallest size they offered. I find that hard to believe, though. I'm quite petite, but I know there are girls that are smaller than me. I would've payed for a special order, but they said they didn't do that. I feel like I'm drowning in this robe. It's too big, isn't it?"
"It's fine, Rachel. It's just fine," I said.
She stopped looking in her mirror and turned to me, a look of horror on her face.
"It's just fine?" she said, and I could hear the panic in her voice. "It can't be just fine, Quinn! This is one of the most important moments of our lives, and yes, I plan on walking across much bigger and more important stages, but this is one of those moments that we'll remember for the rest of our lives. I can't simply look fine. If I get famous, and there are pictures of my graduation circulating where I just look fine, I'll be a laughing stock! Things like that can ruin careers-"
I got off of her bed and grabbed her by the shoulders. "Rachel, you look perfect. No one has ever looked this good in a graduation gown in the history of the world."
"You don't have to be sarcastic, Quinn," she said with a pout. "You can tell me the truth."
"I'm not being sarcastic," I said, laughing. "You look stunning. Your hair, your make-up, your shoes, and anything else you can think of that you don't think looks good on you is, in fact, fabulous. Just relax."
"How can I relax? I was supposed to be valedictorian, and then some nobody transfer student swooped in and stole my thunder-"
"Okay, first of all, you weren't at the top of the class before the new kid got here," I said with a smirk. "Second of all, that just means you don't have to make a speech. Besides, it didn't stop you from getting into the school you wanted, so I don't see why you're still freaking out."
Rachel had gotten into the New York Academy of Dramatic Arts, which she'd been obsessed with since she'd found out about its existence (I still didn't understand how she didn't know about it before senior year, but she was so qualified it didn't really matter), and after a lot of debate, I was going to NYU. It had been between NYU and Yale for a long time. Rachel had wanted me to go to Yale, because she was afraid of holding me back, but I told her a thousand times that I wanted to be in New York for more reasons than just her (it was mostly her, but there really were other reasons), and I finally decided on NYU. It was just the right thing for me. My mom agreed, and that settled it.
"Not making a speech is not calming me down, Quinn. It just means that I'll have less practice for the future when it really counts." I didn't know why she was freaking out so badly, but I was determined to find out.
"Okay, what is this really about?" I asked. She shrugged, and I rolled my eyes. "Come on, Rachel. I know this isn't just about nerves. You've been dying to graduate and take New York by storm. You've been waiting for this moment since you were born."
"That's the problem!" she said. "I've been waiting for this, and expecting things to be a certain way, and everything is different than I thought it would be, and while not everything that was unexpected was bad," she shot me a smile, and I smiled back, "it's still alarming. I mean, what if nothing comes of all my dreams? What if I end up old and bitter in New York, working as a singing waitress because it's the only job I could get."
"You worry too much," I said. "It's sad when I'm the sane one in a relationship."
Rachel sighed, and I kissed her on the forehead. "All I've been doing my entire childhood is looking forward to the future...and now, here it is, and I don't know if I'm ready."
"No one's ready for everything, Rachel. You just have to learn how to roll with the punches."
"I don't do that," she said, and I laughed.
"I'm pretty sure that's what we did all of junior year. Or have you already forgotten the nightmare that was Stephanie Getson?"
Rachel groaned, and I almost joined in with her. Stephanie's parents had tried to push Figgins into punishing us for a while, but when he wouldn't budge (mostly because the parent count was 5-2 in our favor), they'd backed off. Stephanie basically stayed out of our hair for the rest of the year after realizing that she didn't have the odds on her side anymore. She'd gone off to college in Cleveland, but she came back to town about six months after she left. Last I'd heard, she was engaged and pregnant (not in that order), on the narrow path to Lima Loserdom.
It was weird to think that almost happened to me.
"I suppose that's true," she finally said, and I smiled.
"Look at it this way: if you end up not becoming the huge start that I know you'll be, at least you won't be bitter in New York alone."
"Haha, very funny," she said. "You know, I was just starting to feel better."
I shook my head. "Trust me, you'll do great in the big city. You were made for it, and you beat out a hell of a lot of people for your spot at NYADA. You have nothing to worry about."
She nodded, then turned back to the mirror. "But are you sure my dress is okay?"
Graduation was...boring. We didn't have a very large graduating class, so it wasn't very long, and for that, I was grateful, but there were only a few people that I cared about seeing walk across that stage. Rachel was the first, and I about lost my voice screaming for her. Then, it was me, and I could hear Rachel and my mom over everyone else. I made sure to wave to my mom as I went back to my seat, and I could see her crying. We'd gotten so close since my dad left that she was actually making it really hard to leave my home.
And that's what it was now...a home.
Next was Santana, and I laughed when I saw Brittany run up to her as soon as she got off stage, even though teachers had told her a thousand times that she wasn't allowed to leave her seat until her row was called. Brittany was last, and if I'd had any voice left, it was gone now. Brittany had been a challenge; she'd been so far behind in her classes that it almost seemed impossible that she would graduate with the rest of us. The teachers at McKinley were incompetent and unwilling to help someone who learned things differently. Still, she buckled down, and with the help of the entire glee club, she'd turned in all her papers and made everything up that she needed to cover. Santana was sobbing from her seat, and I couldn't help but laugh as I felt a few tears slip out of my eyes, too.
The moment we all lost it, though, was our last number together as a glee club. It was, of course, Don't Stop Believing. How could it be anything else? It was our anthem...our song. That song was a part of this club before I was a part of this club. I knew that everything I was singing sounded awful, but when I looked over, Santana wasn't even singing; Brittany was just holding her while she choked out a few lyrics. Even Rachel's voice cracked a few times, and if that happened, then I didn't feel so bad for singing so out of key that you could barely believe I'd been in this choir for three years. It was funny to look at all of us now, crying like babies, and think that we'd actually won a national championship a few weeks before this.
"I can't believe it's actually over," Santana said as we were all gathered together after the ceremony. "It's...surreal. I mean, not the classes, because I don't care about those, but the people." She kept looking around the crowd, and I knew what she was doing. She still hadn't heard from her parents outside of a really awkward encounter at the grocery store, but she'd sent them an invitation to graduation. "People you may never see again once you skip town."
"They didn't show?" I mouthed to her, and she just shrugged. I smiled at her, and she smiled back at me, but I could tell she wasn't totally behind it. That is, until Brittany wrapped her arms around Santana from behind. Then her smile was real. God, those two were one of those sickeningly sweet couples that you really should hate because of excessive PDA, but they just put a smile on your face. Then again, that might've just been me.
"I just can't believe we won't be in glee club anymore," Brittany said. "We were a family. A weird, insectual family-"
"Incestuous, Britt," Santana said with a laugh and a kiss on Brittany's cheek. "And really, we still are."
"Aw, Santana," Rachel said. "You can be so cute when you want to be."
Santana rolled her eyes. "Bite me, Dwarf."
"But don't really," Brittany said. "Only I can bite her."
I just shook my head. The things that came out of Brittany and Santana's mouths were so often overshares that I was starting to become immune to it.
"Is it weird that we spent so much time trying to get out of here, and now I'm starting to miss it already?" Rachel asked, and I just shrugged.
"I feel the same way, so I don't think so."
"I think I'm still a bit in shock, though," she said. "The future is here, you know? We're adults now. We're going to have whole new lives with new people that we don't know yet. It's weird to think that people I've grown so close to and people that made my life a living hell...I may not even remember in a few years time."
"It's probably better that way for the ones you don't like...like Jewfro." I still hadn't forgiven him for outing me...and all the other extremely creepy things that he'd done over the years.
She shook her head. "I feel like I want to remember everything. As much as I hate it, every slushie in my face and every mean name I was called made me who I am. If it weren't for that, I probably wouldn't be as strong. I never would've had the guts to kiss you in the choir room that day-"
"I never really did apologize for molesting you and then running away that day, so I'm sorry," I said, looking at the ground. I actually had apologized several times, but I still felt it was necessary to say every once in a while. She deserved it.
She rolled her eyes. "My point is that all of my experiences, bad and good, have shaped me into the person that I am today, and I like me."
"That's funny, because I like you, too." I leaned down and kissed her.
"You guys are so cute," I heard a voice say from behind me. It was Sam, and I almost tackled him in a hug. We'd really grown closer over the last year, and when he'd started dating Mercedes, our double dated with Brittany and Santana started becoming triples. When he'd gotten into college in California, I'd been a little bit devastated, but I knew it was what was best for him and his relationship with Mercedes, since she was going to UCLA.
"You have to promise you'll call me at least once a week," I said, squeezing him even tighter. "And when you and Mercedes become one of those super-famous power couples, you have to make me the godmother of your children."
"Um, excuse me," Santana said. "You don't have exclusive rights to Trouty Mouth. Let him share the love."
"Yeah," Sam said. "Besides, I can't really breathe right now." I let go of him with a grin, and he was beaming, too.
"I'm serious. Don't lose touch while you're off in California being a rock star, okay? Remember us little people."
He shook his head. "I would never. You'd hunt me down and kill me if I did. At the very least, you'd hire Santana to do it." We both laughed. "Besides, I'm sure that you'll be hugely famous in whatever you do, and even if you stay under the radar or take a civilian job, Rachel will be all over the place."
I sighed. "I really don't know what I would've done without you around, Sam. With all the drama and the craziness, you were there by my side. You're like a brother to me now."
He groaned. "Man, all the 'dating your twin' jokes from last year just got even creepier."
I hugged him again. "I'm going to miss you so much, you big dork!"
"You won't even have time to miss me with the amount of times I'll text you a day. You'll probably hear more from me than you do now." We let go of each other. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to find my beautiful future wife. I'm sure I'll see you at one of Puck's summer parties."
I nodded and waved as he walked away. As he left, I caught sight of Finn. We just waved at each other and turned our separate ways. Despite the fact that he did protect me from anyone that wanted to start trouble, we still didn't get along. He still had feelings for Rachel, and any time that we had a fight, Finn was all over her trying to get her to leave me. He'd promised me more than once that he would back off, but he never did. He'd even gone as far as buying Rachel a ring and telling her that she was the only good thing in her life.
If she'd had feelings for him before (which I knew she didn't), they were gone after that.
She'd kept trying to be his friend, which I never tried to stop, because I trusted Rachel fully, but he always pushed for more. Eventually, she'd just told him that they couldn't talk if he wasn't going to take the hint.
Despite all his talk about leaving the state and not being a Lima Loser, he was going to school at community college and working at Burt's tire shop. As much as I didn't like the guy (it was bordering on hatred at this point), I did hope that he got out of town. Lima Loser only worked on certain people because they took the loser out and made it work (I'd thought Puck would fall into this category, but he'd decided to move to Seattle, where he hoped the rain would inspire his song writing). I didn't want Finn to get stuck after he tried so hard to get out.
"So what happens now?" Rachel asked me after we'd made the rounds of all our friends.
"Well, I figure we'll head to Puck's party, and-"
"No, Quinn," Rachel said. "What happens now?"
I smiled. "Well, we go to New York, we go to school, and you try to make it while I try to find myself. That's as far as I can tell you for now."
"Well, that, and Brittany and Santana will be there."
I smiled even bigger. Santana was going to be at NYU with me, and Brittany had decided, after much discussion, that school wasn't for her and she was going to try to jump right into the dancing game. Santana had completely supported her from the beginning, but we'd had to warm her parents to the idea. When they thought about it (when we all really thought about it, really), it made the most sense. Brittany just wasn't made for school. Dancing? That, she was made for.
"Brittany and Santana are always going to be around, aren't they?" I said. "No matter how many crazy throwdowns Santana and I had with each other or other people, I just can't get rid of them."
Rachel nodded. "You love it."
"I do," I said, and I leaned in for another kiss. I didn't know what was ahead for us...no one really knows what's coming...but with Rachel, I felt like it would be okay.
And to think, I used to hate Rachel Berry.