Chapter One: When Rachel Met Quinn
Quinn Fabray was surprised when the tears didn't come. She was equally surprised at how numb she felt. The blonde calmly gripped the paper in her hand, crinkling it a little, before she tossed it into the trashcan.
Well…that's it, Quinn thought dryly, I'm a Lima loser.
"Hey, baby mama, you coming?" Puck's voice pulled her from her misery as he excitedly jumped up and down towards the school's exit. She smiled falsely and nodded, her voice shaking only slightly.
"I'll be there in a minute." He beamed and winked before taking off through the open doors and out into the parking lot where the other McKinley seniors were celebrating their final day of high school. All but Quinn.
She had applied to several schools, hoping for a full athletic or merit scholarship to each—to any. And although she had received scholarships, none of universities would comp her education. Financial aid was out of the question because her parents still claimed her on their taxes despite the fact that the blonde hadn't lived with them in almost two years. They made too much money for Quinn to qualify for loans or grants—not like she could use her father's name to gain aid—and she didn't have the time nor means to declare herself independent—that required proof of independence, like paying bills.
So she was stuck in Lima. Four years of constant studying, four years of back-breaking physical abuse at the hands of Sue Sylvester, four years of manipulating and terrorizing, and it was all for naught.
"Can you fucking believe that?" Quinn's head swiveled at the sound of Santana's voice as the Latina stalked down the hallway with Brittany in tow. "I swear to God I'll shove my hand down someone's throat and rip out their vocal cords if I hear about her full ride to Julliard again." Santana sneered as she walked passed Quinn, and completely ignored the blonde's presence before continuing on her way.
She was talking about Rachel Berry, the only McKinley senior who would be getting out of Ohio. Sure, there were graduates that got a chance at leaving Lima—the New Directions members being a few of them—but the brunette was the sole student that managed to hightail it out of the state.
Quinn quickly tossed the rest of her notebooks into the trashcan beside her locker before slamming the door out of irritation. She had absolutely no outs and to add insult to injury, all her backup plans had fallen through.
She had hoped, a lifetime ago, dating Finn Hudson would be a solid plan B considering his athleticism would get him out of Lima—it was why she started dating him in the first place. After they broke up sophomore year she did everything in her power to repair that bridge just in case she had needed it. And just like she had done to Noah Puckerman, she led Finn on in hopes that if he was able to get out town, he might take her with him. After the initial excitement wore off of dating the new transfer student/ football player, Sam Evens, Quinn quickly realized that they had nothing in common and it wasn't going anywhere; He wasn't going anywhere. But Quinn desperately needed to get out of Lima—it was the reason she gave Beth away after all, in hopes she'd make something of herself—so she stayed with Sam. He was a really great guy…but something was missing. By the time they finalized the split, Sam—although still nice to the cheerleader—wanted nothing to do with her romantically.
All three of her backup plans failed epically. And to make matters worse, Quinn was deemed "boy bad luck" after the breakups. It wasn't Quinn's fault that Puck spent more time in juvy then class, or that Finn dated Rachel Berry and became some sort of outcast right along with the diva, or that Sam was too busy crying during their championship football game, getting him sacked and blowing their winning season…okay…that last one might have been Quinn's fault because the boy had been crying over her. But even through tears Sam should have seen Artie, wide freaking open, in the end zone!
It was humiliating. She was head Cheerio, gorgeous, baby-weight-free and still no one would date her. She even tried college boys, humiliating herself further by dating a gross philosophy student with chin pubes and wire-rimmed glasses in the hopes that something would come of it. But he wanted to teach at Ohio University and his clothes were so ugly that Quinn couldn't even bring herself to at least get out of Lima by way of the sandals-with-socks-wearing boy.
She was sick with herself for what she did in her goal to leave the black hole of a state, and she had nothing to show for it; no real home, no real friends, no parents, no Beth, no love.
But she knew no other way of reaching her dreams. Manipulating and lying were all she ever knew. Surely, there was some way she could leave Ohio; be it by car, bus, train, plane, or sea, Quinn Fabray had to get out of Ohio, and most definitely out of Lima.
"Her fathers bought her an expensive apartment in the freaking city, can you believe that?"
"I heard that everything is being paid for by that stupid school."
"Apparently she turned down a fucking record contract after some big-shot saw her sing at Nationals."
Quinn inhaled deeply before blowing out a long breath as she walked through the Puckerman house. All night no one could talk about anything else but Rachel freaking Berry. Rachel this, Rachel that, all night long and Quinn was ready to snap.
As she stood on the back porch she took a long pull on her fifth wine cooler as she tried to regain her composure. Rachel wasn't even at the party, but no one spoke of anything else, whether they were in awe, bitching, or just gossiping; the diva's name was on everyone's lips.
Even Finn couldn't help gushing and his relationship with the brunette had been over for a few months. His idea. When Ohio State recruited him for their team, he visited the college and was treated like a god there. Quinn didn't know the specifics, but she was pretty sure her ex boyfriend was involved in more than one sexual liaison that weekend. He told the diva that he thought the distance would be too much for him, but Quinn—and probably Rachel—knew that the new Ohio State junior varsity quarterback was more than ready for the bigger and better.
It gave the blonde a small amount of pleasure knowing that at least the brunette didn't have everything. She was still friendless, loveless, and was about to be very alone in the Big City. Although, Quinn mused as she opened another wine cooler and tried to drown out the sound of the raging party behind her, she felt a little bad for Rachel.
She had been crushed when Finn ended it. It was out of the blue and nothing short of brutal how the boy dropped the bomb on the diva. One minute, they were singing duets in glee, perfectly in love and happy. The next, Rachel was a robot who cared about little else but following her dream with a renewed drive that was almost manic.
She spoke to no one. No one. Not even Mr. Shue. When she wasn't in classes, she was either in the auditorium or the band room practicing. And although that's where you could usually find Rachel before the split, her intense vigor to really make it was scary. She snapped viciously if anyone attempted to talk to her, even nicely, and was often seen crying openly if that wasn't the case.
It was around midnight when the plan began to form for Quinn. She had just overheard Mercedes talking about Rachel's success and the blonde's boiling point spilled over. The achievement should have been Quinn's. The envy should have been directed towards her. Quinn should be packing her bags, destination victory in her sights. But it belonged to Rachel.
Quinn chuckled as she sipped on her wine cooler, thinking up different ways that she could sabotage the brunette. But every time she pictured going through with her plans, Quinn dismissed them. She and Rachel had a lot in common those days, after all. Neither of them had friends—Quinn wasn't counting Puck—and neither had any romantic leads. Both were deemed McKinley's pariahs and now that high school was over, the blonde didn't see a change happening for her.
Quinn had nothing—nothing that could help her, anyway.
"Hey! Where ya going, Q?" Puck shouted at her as she sprinted through the boy's crowded house. Puck was hoping to get a moment alone with her to try yet again to convince Quinn they should give it another shot. But the blonde dismissed his question and hurriedly got into her car with only one place in mind: Rachel Berry's house.
She got there within minutes, the alcohol fueling her led foot as she drove, ignoring stop signs and red lights. She ripped open her door and barely managed to pull her keys out of the ignition before she flew from the car and ran towards the Berrys' house.
Her pointer finger jammed the doorbell and her hand thrust the knocker loudly several dozen times in drunken anticipation. Only when the house lit up and she withdrew her arm did she realize she was sobbing.
Quinn stuttered and stammered her intoxicated explanation to both of Rachel's fathers several times before the one finally went to retrieve their daughter. They couldn't get a coherent sentence out of the blonde to figure out what she was doing there at half past twelve or why she was in such a state.
A sleepy Rachel dragged herself down the steps in bewilderment, not comprehending anything her father had said and unsure of whom he was referring, but stumbled out of bed all the same. Through tears, the blonde watched anxiously as Rachel descended the stairs and her stomach fluttered nervously as it always did when she saw the diva. And just like always, she dismissed it.
When the brunette caught sight of the crying blonde, her eyes widened and she was immediately alert. "Quinn! What happened? What is it? Are you hurt?" Rachel exclaimed as she advanced on the cheerleader in terror.
Contrary to what everyone thought, including the members of New Directions, Rachel Berry still very much cared for the club and the people within it. She just knew no one cared for her. Her dream within grasp, however, Rachel decided she didn't want to care for them any longer. She was tired of hoping. She was tired of trying. Rachel thought it would just be easier if she pretended not to care so everyone else wouldn't have to pretend to care about her either.
She was beyond hurt by Finn's antics—the only one who was ever in her corner—and thought it best to devote her attention towards something that would actually pan out: her future.
But she stilled cared. God help her she still cared. And it hurt every day because of it. No one even attempted to befriend Rachel those last few months of high school. Not one apology, not a smile or a quick check to see if she had extravagant plans including some sharp razors and a loop of depressing Le Miz songs. Some days she'd go without speaking to anyone at all; completely invisible. Those were the good days.
So why the hell was Quinn Fabray at her house, a disheveled sobbing lunatic, at almost one in the morning on the night before their high school graduation?
Rachel got the answer after she led the blonde upstairs to her almost empty bedroom. Upon seeing the packed boxes, the Cheerio broke out in a fresh wave of tears, making it nearly impossible for Rachel to understand her as the diva sat on her bed and watched the pacing, frantic blonde. She caught words like "alone," and "failure." Every once and a while sentences were clear like "miserable for the rest of my life," and "so many regrets."
It was obvious that Quinn Fabray was drunk. So Rachel listened as closely as possible for a lull in the whimpers and wails for some sense to be made.
"I'm so proud of you!" Quinn finally said, dropping to her knees to clutch Rachel's hands in a surprising gesture the brunette hadn't seen coming. She didn't even notice the blonde move towards the bed, but Quinn was on her knees in front of her, proclaiming how amazing Rachel was and how incredible her future would be.
This brought back more tears and again the diva could hardly understand the blonde. "I'm so sorry, Rachel! I'm so unbelievably sorry!" Quinn surged. She couldn't be stopped. Even when Rachel assured Quinn that she forgave her and did not begrudge her anything—lies—the blonde would only cry harder and clasp the diva's hands tighter.
"I'm going to get you a glass of water." Rachel said, close to an hour after Quinn had arrived with no end to her drunken ramblings and apologizes in sight.
"No! Don't leave!" Quinn pleaded.
"Quinn!" Rachel yelped as she dragged the blonde along, who had her arms wrapped around the diva's left leg. "I'll be right back! Please stay and I will return shortly." Rachel annunciated every syllable slowly and loudly, seizing Quinn's shoulders with her hands and looking the blonde directly in the eye. Eventually Quinn nodded and Rachel raced down to her kitchen to get a glass of water to calm the Cheerio.
A part of the blonde's brain was wondering what the hell she was doing at Rachel's house. She didn't even remember what prompted the visit and now that she was there, she was curious as to what her next move should be. She thought about it as she waited for the tiny diva to return, her eyes racing over the carpet without seeing a fiber as she tried to concoct a plan that would help her. Nothing was clicking.
Luckily, Rachel's fathers had returned to bed. Their daughter had assured them that her best friend Quinn was only miserable that Rachel would be leaving town, and wanted one last night to hang out with her bff. Her fathers had bought it, hook, line, and sinker, and Rachel's bright smile sagged as she watched the two men retreat, wondering exactly why they bought the story.
When she returned, Quinn looked up at her from where Rachel had left her on the floor with big, anxious eyes and a relieved grin. The blonde turned on her knees, shuffling along, to follow Rachel's progress through the room and scooted closer to the diva from the floor as Rachel sat on her bed.
With two hands, Quinn held the glass of water to her lips; her eyes trained up on the weary diva over the rim, and drank greedily. When she finally pulled the cup away, exceptionally out of breath and panting from drinking for so long, she gazed at Rachel with a hungry look in her dark, hazel eyes.
"I'm in love with you!"
The declaration with met with piercing quiet that stretched on for over a full minute. Quinn could actually hear the sound of Rachel's eyelids flutter when she eventually blinked after the extended silence.
"I'm sorry, Quinn. It has been a rather long day—and for that matter, a somewhat extensive eighteen years—so I believe that I misheard you. I once read a fairly terrifying article about a young man who devoted his life to the hum of nature only to find at the young age of thirty-four he had lost his hearing. Considering the fact that I spend large quantities of time focusing my efforts on sound, inflections, pitch, tone, and various musical instruments, it could stand to reason that my eardrums have suffered greatly. So I must ask you to repeat yourself, although tiring as it may be, because I am almost certain you just professed your love for me and that could hardly be the case seeing as how outrageously horribly you have treated me in the past, even the present, and taking into consideration that I've been more than confident that you have not displayed anything but heterosexual inclinations throughout the tenure of our acquaintanceship and have displayed gross contempt and—what some may call—homicidal hatred of my very existence, I must be wrong." Rachel took a deep breath, cleared her throat and gestured towards the blonde still kneeing on the floor. "You may now refute my obvious misinterpretation."
Quinn only scooted closer to Rachel on her knees, eyes hysterical, as she reached out for the brunette. "Think about how happy I could make you, Rachel. I would do anything you asked. I'd cook and clean for you. Rehearse lines, songs, and dance numbers. I'd sit front and center at each one of your shows and support you for as long as you needed me to." Rachel shook her head as she slowly realized Quinn wasn't denying anything, and in fact, was trying to prove it.
"I'll be your biggest fan and protect you and care for you and we'd never have to be apart and you'd never have to be lonely." Rachel's eyes got considerably wider the more Quinn elaborated. "I'll take you to auditions and help you study for your classes, I'll get crappy jobs to supplement our income and convert to Judaism and become a vegan and, and, and, I can sew! I'd sew your costumes for you or fix the plumbing and-"
"What the holy HELL are you talking about Quinn Fabray?" Rachel shouted finally, absolutely flabbergasted by the display the blonde was putting on and the unfathomable meaning behind it.
"Rachel I love you! I want to be with you and I'll do whatever it takes to make that happen!" The brunette's jaw almost unhinged itself as it dawned on her that the blonde was actually serious.
As Quinn waited for Rachel to return with her glass of water, the idea stuck Quinn that her only option was to play to her strengths; lying and manipulation. She knew that Rachel had no one. She knew that Rachel was hurt and lonely. Quinn knew what those feelings felt like. And the blonde was sure, that if someone had spoken those words to her, she would have jumped at the chance of having someone beside her in that scary period of her life. It stood to reason that Rachel would fall for it as well—perhaps even more so because the diva never truly had it. And she must fall for it. Because Quinn was out of options.
"W-wh-what…you must be joking. Or, you are insanely drunk! Yeah, that's it. Or, no! This is a prank! A final gesture of cruelty and brutality that you've cooked up since you know that I'm leaving tomorrow!" Rachel jumped off her bed and flung her bedroom door open.
"Get out of my house, Quinn! I hope for the rest of your life you become as miserable and despondent as the sick games you've thrust upon your peers!" Quinn scrambled to her feet and grabbed the hand Rachel had pointed signaling that Quinn should leave.
The brunette stared up at the crying girl, shocked and appalled by the blonde's behavior. Rachel was stuttering again, astounded that those words had come out of Quinn Fabray's mouth.
"No, Rachel! I swear on my life…I swear on my daughter's life that this is in no way meant to hurt you! You must believe me, you must take me with you!" Quinn begged as her tears doubled and loud sobs wracked her body. She stared at the stunned brunette for a long moment, tears chasing one after the other down her pale cheeks.
Lie and manipulate.
Then, without another thought, she cupped the brunette's face and crashed their lips together in hopes that her desperation would transfer through her mouth to Rachel's and convince the brunette that she had to take Quinn with her.
The mass amounts of alcohol Quinn had consumed were definitely taking their toll. She had planned on coyly convincing the brunette to take her with her, not to make a spectacle out of herself as she sobbed and begged. But her life was slipping from her fingertips and she was more than desperate. The future was bleak and hopeless and Rachel was her only shot out.
She knew that she was following in the foot-steps of her sister and mother; latching onto someone to further herself despite her own desires. But with any luck, she'd be able to create a life for herself with the help of the diva and maybe one day she'd finally be happy. Even if it meant a sham of a relationship and lying and manipulating to get there.
When Rachel was finally able to detach herself from Quinn's mouth, panting and struggling to suck in oxygen, she slapped the blonde hard across the face before she covered her mouth out of shock.
Quinn barely registered the slap, however. She wasn't deterred but she was almost as surprised as Rachel that she had kissed the diva. What stunned her most of all though, was the passion the kiss ignited within her. Whether it was the alcohol or not, something inside Quinn stirred, and without another thought she wrapped her arm around the brunette's waist and seized her mouth again.
Although this kiss lasted longer then the previous one, the result was the same. Rachel pulled away and slapped Quinn's cheek, but the blonde covered the diva's lips yet again until Rachel stopped pulling away.
The clatter of books falling from shelves and posters ripping were barely audible over the sounds of Rachel and Quinn's fervent moans as they pushed and pulled one another against walls and desks and bounced off of surfaces and skin. Rachel wrapped her arms around Quinn's neck as the blonde possessively clung to the diva's hips as their tongues invaded each other's mouths deeply and hungrily while hands strayed everywhere and anywhere they could.
Rachel had forgotten this feeling, or maybe she'd never had it. But it felt good to be desired again. Or maybe for the first time. The desperation and hunger in Quinn's hazel eyes set the diva off; she had never had anyone look at her that way. Besides hugs from her fathers, she hadn't been touched in months, and even then it wasn't like this. She wasn't entirely sure if she liked it or not, but each time Quinn's hands would hold her a little tighter or her tongue would delve into her mouth, Rachel felt alive and wanted again; or maybe for the first time.
Quinn's teeth slid against Rachel's lower lip, pulling it away briefly before sucking on it causing the brunette to moan deep in her throat. The blonde dove for Rachel's neck, kissing and sucking out the diva's whimpers as Rachel's held the back of blonde hair to keep Quinn in place.
"Oh God, Quinn!" Rachel moaned loudly, half on top her desk with the blonde settled between her parted thighs, with her head thrown back in elation. At the sound of her name, however, Quinn shot back, her chest heaving, as she stared down in horror at the panting brunette.
A pale, shaky hand covered bruised lips as Quinn's wide eyes regarded the diva. "Rachel I'm-I'm so-sorry! I never meant-I only wanted to go to New York with you-I-" Quinn felt dizzy and lost; what the hell did she just do? All she had wanted was to convince Rachel that her declaration was true. She needed to buy time so Rachel wouldn't kick her out, prove to the brunette that Quinn would do all the things she had said. But…kissing Rachel?
Without waiting for Rachel's response, Quinn ran from the bedroom and sprinted down the stairs and flew through the living room as she raced out of the house, desperate to be as far away from Rachel as possible.
While Quinn quietly snuck through the Jones house and crept into Mercedes' brother's bedroom before promptly passing out on the bed after crying herself to sleep, Rachel Berry was still wide-eyed and frozen atop her desk. After nearly a half an hour of astonishment, the brunette eventually slid off her desk and mechanically crawled into bed, frantically trying to figure out what the hell just happened.
She hadn't made that up, right? Quinn Fabray actually showed up at her house, proclaimed her love to her, kissed her thoroughly, and asked the diva if she could go to New York with her. "What the fuck?" Rachel asked the empty bedroom, still completely astounded—she had to been flabbergasted if she cursed; something she never did. But it didn't escape the diva that she had been nearly sold on the whole matter—seconds away from agreeing that having Quinn Fabray with her in New York sounded like it was exactly what Rachel Berry needed.
The next day at McKinley's class of 2012 graduation ceremony, both Quinn and Rachel were clad in dark sunglasses and silent. The blonde's head was splitting from her hangover and her eyes swollen from tears, while the brunette's eyes were puffy from staying up all night. Neither girl spoke to anyone. It wasn't like anyone would talk to Rachel Berry…or Quinn Fabray for that matter. Every friendship that the blonde built during her pregnancy was eradicated not long after she became head Cheerio junior year.
Even her friendship with Mercedes was destroyed—the girl finally snapping after Quinn snubbed her one time too many—despite the blonde still living in her house. Although their friendship was over, Mercedes didn't want to be another person to kick Quinn out, so she just never mentioned their feud to her parents but ignored the Cheerio when they were both home.
Quinn wished she never even attended the ceremony; it was far too depressing. Even Puck had managed to get into a college and would be leaving Lima. She almost approached him before the processional to see if he'd take her with him—seeing as how he was the only person who would talk to Quinn—but after the previous night with Rachel, she changed her mind; the blonde couldn't find it in herself to lie and manipulate again.
Every time she thought about what occurred at the Berrys', her stomach would roll uncomfortably and she fought down the nausea. She had no idea what came over her—kissing aside—when she begged and pleaded. But when she did think of the kiss, or kisses, again her stomach would roll uncomfortably but she didn't feel nauseated. Quinn cursed the wine coolers for momentarily convincing her that she enjoyed the exchanged, and hoped that she wouldn't have to see the diva amongst her graduating class. Luckily, the only time she did she Rachel was when the brunette crossed the stage to accept her diploma to the soundtrack of boos from her peers.
Quinn ignored the flutter in her stomach at the sight of Rachel and the rush of anger that swept over her at the sound of the boos, feeling for the girl. Yes, Rachel was annoying, but she didn't deserve a mass of jeers hours before she was set to leave Lima. But, the blonde supposed everyone was probably jealous and knew that Rachel would be taking the train out of Ohio after the ceremony for her summer internship at her new school; they probably just wanted to give the girl one last fuck you before she left.
There was no one waiting for Quinn after the ceremony to give her a bouquet of flowers or a hug and kiss to tell her how proud of her they were. No one was there to support the Cheerio in any way. And despite the off-handed invitation Mercedes extended Quinn to go out to lunch with the Joneses, the blonde declined, and instead, walked around the place where she felt chained and bound. She paced around McKinley's campus, sitting on the bleachers briefly to soak up all the grueling hours she had spent on the field for Cheerios practices, walked around the park, Main Street, passed by her parents' house, and ended up back at the school.
She could hear Coach Sylvester screaming through her bullhorn at the Cheerios now that the field had been cleared of the graduating class and felt nothing but misery. What was she going to do? She could hardly live in the Jones' house now that Mercedes was going off to college in Columbus. She couldn't afford an apartment by herself and had no one to share one with. There were no jobs in Lima, the recession hitting there first and still lingering despite better economic times elsewhere. And she didn't have the means to travel outside the town to start fresh.
Puck and Finn would be off to Ohio State for the football training season, so it wasn't like she could turn to them, and all the other gleeks wanted nothing to do with her. She was stuck…no, Quinn thought…she was fucked.
Rachel Berry spun slowly in her chair as she stared unseeing outside the wide, picturesque window of the spacious office. She clamped her teeth down hard on her pen cap as she fantasized about a better life, but was thoroughly distracted. It was just a dreary day in New York…it was drizzling. The thought made her eyes well up as her chest tightened in response; just the thought of Finn made her lonely. "Rachel?" The brunette quickly cleared her throat and hastily swiped at her tears before turning around to face the open doorway where her boss stood.
"Rachel, I need this filing done ASAP and I would appreciate it if you would stop daydreaming." Rachel nodded smartly at her boss and shuffled the files on the desk hoping it appeared as though she was being productive. Her boss merely rolled his eyes before he turned and left the diva alone.
She had been in New York for nearly three weeks and had been working long hours for her internship. She was lonesome. She missed Lima. The other interns all kept to themselves and she was always shut-up in the large office—belonging to a professor who was away for the summer—for extended periods of time to just think. Think about how miserable her life was. How lonely she'd become. How difficult the road before her seemed. On her first day of her internship in the enormous performing arts building at her new school, she got a look at her competition and figured out that she had her work cut out for her. She was no longer a big fish in a small pond, but plankton in an ocean of pretentious, vegetarian sharks.
There was no one there to cheer her on, no fathers to smile at her and call her their little star, no glee club to help her shine, and no loving boyfriend to kiss away her tears. She was very much alone. And her life was a mess.
She was living in a nice-sized apartment only ten city blocks away from her school but actually in the apartment a handful of hours a day. Rachel only showered, ate dinner, and slept there before hurriedly racing to Julliard to work eight hours as an intern, filing records for the admission's board or putting away props and other theater paraphernalia. Then it was off to dance and vocal lessons before she exhaustingly trudged home, to an empty apartment, where she promptly crashed—sometimes not even managing to eat dinner.
The nights her fathers worked—to busy to take her phone calls—Rachel would go the whole day without speaking to anyone besides her boss, and then it was monosyllabic orders and sometimes not even that. In the beginning, the diva would rally herself by saying that it was only bad now, but once she made it, things would be better. But as the days went on, the mantra was getting more difficult to believe, especially once she realized that everyone at Julliard had talent and drive.
Without a support system, Rachel was flailing…and the semester hadn't even started yet. She wasn't sure how long she could keep it up. It was hard enough to convince her fathers that she was happy; neither of them understanding how hard it was for their daughter—Rachel could never tell them the truth about her life, always lying to keep them happy even when she was at McKinley. How was she going to make it four years at this rate—how was she going to make it a lifetime? She wished she had foregone her fathers' present of an apartment and opted for student housing; at least then she would have met some people. But on-campus housing didn't start until the fall semester—leaving her homeless during her summer internship—and Rachel wasn't sure she liked the idea of living with a stranger, especially since she'd be practicing for performances or auditions, and needed space and quiet.
A week went by without any improvement. Honestly, things only got worse. After watching a few of her soon-to-be classmates mess around on stage in an off-the-cuff jam session, Rachel sobbed for hours behind the closed door of the office where she was supposed to be filing; they were good. The brunette, out of desperation, even tried calling her mother for support. But Shelby was too busy with Beth and Rachel didn't want to trouble her—mostly because she couldn't bring herself to actually open up to the woman who had abandoned her—and quickly got off the phone.
Instead, Rachel packed up for the day, not caring that she had gotten little done or that she'd be reprimanded, and decided that she'd return to her work on Monday, after the weekend; she needed the days off to think.
She hadn't planned it, not really ready to throw in the towel so easily, but after walking six blocks up Broadway she absentmindedly joined the other commuters and headed down the dirty steps to the subway despite the fact that she was only four blocks from her apartment.
A blink of an eye later, Rachel exited the subway and stumbled to Penn Station. She could have walked to the train from Julliard, but maybe a part of Rachel knew that then she wouldn't have gotten aboard. She took the Cardinal line that dumped her into Cincinnati and a bus and taxi ride later, Rachel was standing in front of her fathers' house and quickly stuffed her key in the lock. Rachel would later muse that just maybe she had planned the trip after all. Considering the Cardinal line only makes the trip to Cincinnati, Ohio three days a week, she'd had to have planned it.
But it was at that moment, upon finding the house dark and quiet, that Rachel Berry collapsed and sobbed like she had never done before, officially giving up. She had completely forgotten that her fathers were taking a long weekend cruise, something they had been planning for years once Rachel was out of the house, and weren't there to console their daughter. Amazing how she had forgotten that one little detail, after making sure to know the days and times the train would take her into Ohio, she never banked on not having anything there for her once she reached home.
As she silently cried on the welcome matt just inside the house, she considered ordering takeout like she and her fathers had always done—and a skill she had perfected in New York—but Rachel wasn't sure she could hold down food. She stumbled upstairs to her old bedroom, not exactly out of comfort seeing as most of her possessions were at her apartment, but mostly because she couldn't stand the quiet house. She'd just lay down on her bed and sleep the weekend away.
But sleep wasn't coming. She tossed and turned and shut her eyes tightly to block out the sound of her new classmates' spectacular singing and her old classmates booing her as she accepted her diploma—she cried harder at the memory of her fake smile and false laugh as she told her confused fathers that it was an inside joke she had with her friends as she adjusted her graduation cap.
Would it always be so hard? She lay there, reliving every single Slushie attack, every insult, every heartbreak, every student at Julliard that could belt out a number as easily as singing in the shower, and every single night she'd fallen asleep in New York with a container of take-out next to her and wake up the same way. The weight on her heart felt gargantuan and there was no one to take it away.
Rachel opened her puffy eyes to stare about her empty room for something to make the hurt lessen. She studied the bare desk across from her and fondly remembered the days when she'd spend hours planning her future on that very desktop or upload videos of herself on her computer. But this only made her cry harder; realizing that with those memories came a flood of bad ones as well.
Then, suddenly, Rachel sat up in her bed as she recalled a memory that took place on that very desk that wasn't so bad. Puzzling as it might have been, it didn't make her cry. Laughter unexpectedly exploded from her chest as she remembered Quinn kissing her, declaring her love for Rachel, pleading for the diva to take her to New York.
Like a bullet from a gun, Rachel shot out of her bed and raced down her steps and out of the house with only one thought in mind: Quinn Fabray. She tried the Jones' house but Quinn no longer lived there. She tried the Fabrays' but she was only received with frosty reserve. None of the glee members or their parents knew where Quinn was and Rachel almost gave up before she decided to take a chance.
She Googled the address and hesitantly rang the doorbell before a small, rotund Mexican woman answered the door looking expectantly at Rachel. "May I help you?" She asked, her accent obvious.
"May I please see Coach Sylvester?" Sue Sylvester was surprisingly nice, considering. She was more curious than mean, albeit agitated by the intrusion. She quickly made it clear that Quinn was not living with her and that she wished she was so that she could try a risky but possibly worth it medical procedure on the blonde in hopes to use her DNA to force-feed her new Cheerios the talent Quinn possessed. Sue narrowed her eyes at the tiny diva as she watched tears well in Rachel's chocolate eyes towards the end of their visit. It was obvious that Rachel was desperate and instead of being straight-forward or understanding, Sue Sylvester just mentioned that Rachel should try somewhere where Quinn's talent of excellent hair-care treatment would be more useful. In Rachel's mind, and considering Sue Sylvester, that could only be one place.
Rachel actually laughed out loud in relief when she saw Quinn walking towards the back of William Schuester's apartment; she felt like an idiot for not trying there sooner. Surely if the blonde had nowhere else to go she'd try their old glee club instructor. But something about the way the blonde kept looking around, hugging her knapsack close to her as she silently disappeared into the foliage behind the apartment, made Rachel think that it wasn't perhaps as obvious as the brunette thought. She ignored the overwhelming comfort and happiness she felt upon seeing the blonde, but mealy watched.
Rachel had quietly followed Quinn as the blonde bypassed Will Schuester's back door and, instead, followed the brick trail towards another apartment complex just beyond her old glee instructor's apartment. The diva was puzzled and curious now. It was completely plausible that the blonde had found herself a nice apartment to live in, but the way Quinn kept looking over her shoulder—getting Rachel to duck into bushes—and glimpse at her surroundings suspiciously, the brunette had a feeling that Quinn was up to no good.
Rachel watched as Quinn removed something from her pocket and proceeded to stick it into the lock of the door to the apartment complex. At first, the diva thought it was a key. But once the blonde pulled away from the door, Rachel caught sight of a knife before it was stowed, and surmised that Quinn had just broken into the building.
Through the keyhole on the door, Rachel was just able to see Quinn moving around a room that appeared to be the laundry area of the building. The blonde stashed her knapsack between rows of washers and proceeded to pop a few quarters into a dyer. Rachel's eyebrow rose at the action; Quinn, after all, hadn't added any clothes to the machine before she started it. The blonde sighed heavily and ran her hands through her limp hair before moving closer to the running dryer as though she were trying to soak up its warmth. Rachel had seen enough. She quickly opened the door to the laundry room getting Quinn to spin around in panic—afraid a tenant was entering.
Quinn's eyes widened at the sight of Rachel. They both stood frozen, staring at one another, as the silence ticked on. The only sound was coming from the dyer as their eyes bore into one other. Finally, Rachel slowly opened the screen door and stepped inside the laundry room. Her first thought was that Quinn had definitely put on the dyer for added warmth; it was a little chilly that night. Her second thought was that Quinn hadn't seen a proper meal or shower in quiet some time. Her third thought was: it didn't take away from the blonde's beauty.
"You're living here." Quinn nodded dumbly, too surprised at the sight of Rachel to even consider lying or covering her tracks. It had been almost a month since she'd last seen the diva, almost a month since that night at the Berrys' house, and she'd thought about that night more than once since it happened.
Rachel thought momentarily about questioning the girl, trying to deduce why it had come to this for Quinn. She wanted to ask about her future plans, the other glee members and why she wasn't living with them. She considered saying a lot of things. But instead, she just silently walked further into the room, ignoring how Quinn hastily moved out of the brunette's way, and grabbed the blonde's knapsack.
"Let's go. There's a bus to New York in two hours. Is there anywhere you need to stop first?" Again, Quinn just wordlessly shook her head, still unsure of what was happening. "Then let's go."
They didn't say a word, both just staring at the other as they took a cab, bus, and train to New York. They didn't speak as they walked the few blocks back to Rachel's apartment—the brunette kept quiet as she watched Quinn toss her cell phone into a nearby trashcan—and said nothing to one another when the brunette dropped the knapsack onto the floor of her small bedroom before throwing a pair of sweats and t-shirt to the blonde then crawled in the bed. Quinn followed not long after, still stunned. They both just stared up at the cracked ceiling of their new home as they awaited sleep.
"I'll be up tomorrow at six sharp to exercise." Rachel whispered. "I must be out of the house no later than eight o'clock so that I can get to my job to finish up what work I didn't have time to attend to earlier today. I'll be home late, after my voice and dance lessons, somewhere around ten. Is that okay?" Rachel questioned, still looking up at the ceiling above, wishing she could see the Lima stars through her ceiling.
"It's fine." Quinn answered after a long moment, croaking out the words, still in shock.
"Okay. Good night." Rachel breathed before she turned on her side, away from the blonde, to shut out the world.
Once Quinn heard the brunette's soft breaths, indicating Rachel was asleep, the blonde turned on her side too. "Thank you." She sighed to Rachel's back in relief, feeling for the first time in a long time that she would be okay. And when Rachel awoke the next morning, surrounded by the blonde's warmth, scent, and arms, Rachel's quietly thanked Quinn as well.
This is definitely the most angsty chapter. If all goes according to plan there will be twenty chapters in all and it will most certainly be crack-filled. My crack knows no bounds. You've been warned. Hope you enjoyed and thanks for reading!