A/N: As soon as I saw the first Fabray-twin/Rachel manip, this story popped into my head. I can't promise that it's going anywhere past this first chapter (no, really – no promises). I just know that it was in my head, and I had to write it down. I hope you enjoy.
Disclaimer: I do not own Glee.
Three's a Crowd
Rachel hated being late. It was an intrinsic part of who she was. And when she found herself running late to her first class of college in her entire life, she briefly lifted her eyes to the heavens and wondered who it was she had pissed off to deserve such a fate.
She was from a small town – Lima, Ohio, in fact – and she had always dreamed of making it to New York City someday. She had the voice of an angel (so she had been told) and the acting chops of a seasoned professional (so she had been told in her dreams). So when she found out that she was accepted into New York University (though it was no Julliard), she had celebrated a small victory. Getting to New York City was like hopping (delicately so) over the first hurdle in her struggle to acquire Broadway acclaim. She could deal with NYU for a few semesters until she caught her break.
But until she caught her break, she had to attend classes (to which she was currently running late). See, Rachel liked to think that her extensive research into the layout of campus and the locations of her classes would have been sufficient to get her where she needed to be when she needed to be there. But she had grossly miscalculated her navigational skills and was thus indescribably pushed to make it to her 8:30 AM class on that Monday morning – Principles of Microeconomics.
Does that sound like a blow-off frosh class? That's because it is. But Rachel Berry does not blow off classes, even the blow-off classes.
Some higher cosmic power was with Rachel as she slammed open the heavy wooden door (which thudded loudly against the concrete wall behind it) and careened to a stop at the top of the steep auditorium seating just as the teacher began his introduction. She took a moment to smooth out her (short) skirt and begin slowly descending the steps; her eyes scanned from side to side as she went, nervously seeking out a single empty seat. A single seat, for goodness' sake. And yet, Rachel found herself at the absolute bottom of the auditorium – the front row – before she found a place to sit.
Awkwardly stepping in front of a few people and taking a seat in the only empty chair available, Rachel (again) smoothed her skirt against the back of her thighs as she took a seat. Her ankles were crossed as she pulled out a notebook and pen and began taking notes.
It soon became apparent to Rachel that everything she was writing down was completely trivial, but she continued to write anyway – it was best to be prepared, after all. Even if microeconomics was simply a general education requirement to fulfill her degree, Rachel was going to pay attention and learn whatever she could. Maybe it would be of some assistance to her someday when she was trying to choose between this manager and that manager.
It was several minutes into the class – in fact, the class was almost entirely over – when Rachel noticed her.
A girl with her hair pulled back into a tight ponytail, a girl who has diligently taking notes even as Rachel began to ignore her own note-taking duties. Rachel watched her, balancing her own pen against her bottom lip. And the girl with stunningly blonde hair and incredibly strong (yet delicate) facial features seemed to stare down at her paper for the majority of the lesson; she only glanced up towards the teacher a couple of times in the fitful (for Rachel) fifty minutes of the class period. Rachel watched as the person next to the blonde leaned over and asked her a question; the blonde smiled sweetly with every facial feature she possessed before tearing a page out of her notebook and passing it to her neighbor.
Rachel glanced at her phone and noted that it was time for the class to be over. Apparently, most of the other students had taken the same interest (or lack thereof) in the professor's lecture as they began to pack their bags; some even began to leave their seats and walk out of the heavy wooden doors at the back of the classroom as the fifty-minute time period expired and the professor's monotonous voice continued to drone on incessantly.
Rachel – having less experience than the average college student – simply followed suit. But her eyes were astutely locked onto the blonde's retreating figure as she climbed the stairs several feet ahead of Rachel, and it was (naturally) completely against Rachel's will when she took in every detail her eyes could capture. The bouncing ponytail and the tightly worn top were of no consequence to Rachel, nor were the form-fitting jeans on her long legs. Of course, Rachel wasn't meant to notice such things – she was merely observing the actions of a person whom she had unwittingly been drawn to in those few moments of quiet observation during the lecture. So the blonde girl walked out of the auditorium in complete unawareness of the brunette who had been attempting to watch her retreating figure with stunning clarity and precision; Rachel, who had been watching her with the careful eye of an artist. The blonde walked away entirely oblivious of the attention she had garnered.
'Wow,' Rachel thought as her head hit her pillow and she prepared to fall asleep that night on the semi-comfortable mattress in her 4-person on-campus apartment. 'Maybe there is something here in NYC worth paying attention to other than the bright lights of Broadway…' And then sleep had finally managed to overtake her in the comfortable silence afforded to those who couldn't care less about what was happening in the night atmosphere around them.
And when she woke, Rachel was mentally prepared for her second day of classes.
At least, Rachel thought she was prepared – until she ran into her music history class (with just a touch of lateness). She looked at the clock on the face of her cell phone to note that she had just missed being late to the class – so when she walked in and took a seat near the middle of the room, she assumed she would be able to make it through the entire one and a half hour class period of Music History with little to no interruption whatsoever. Fate was on her side this morning after all, it seemed.
But then Rachel saw her, and she was immediately proven wrong. Apparently, Rachel was fated to be eternally distracted.
It was the same girl from yesterday – but instead of a tight ponytail and clean cut outfit, the girl was wearing her hair in light, flowing waves down her shoulders with a loose fitting dress and boots. As Rachel watched (completely ignoring whatever note-taking she should have been partaking in at this point), the girl tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear and bit her lip between her teeth as if it were only natural as she watched the professor pace the floor in front of them, outlining the syllabus. She drummed her fingers against her notebook, pencil lying to the side, forgotten. She's so different from when I saw her yesterday, Rachel wondered to herself as her head tilted slightly to the side in curious contemplation.
Because, truly, this was the same girl with whom Rachel had shared her microeconomics course; she didn't doubt it for a second. Sure, the girl's hair and her attire were different; even her mannerisms appeared to be slightly altered from the previous day – but Rachel admitted to herself that she had only observed the blonde on Monday for a few moments, and those few moments were hardly long enough to draw a conclusion about the person who was now sharing this class with her.
Perhaps this girl was like Rachel herself – trying out different personas much like Rachel had in high school, trying to find herself and her comfort zone and the like. Rachel mused that it would make sense, after all. New York City seemed like a more than ideal location to reinvent oneself. That must be it. The girl was a novel and not just a short work of non-fiction – a book to be read and numerous pages to be discovered.
It wasn't fair to classify this girl whom Rachel had now seen on two very different days in two very different classes with two very different sets of mannerisms and clothes under a single given stereotype when Rachel was so confused herself – was this a girl with diligent note-taking habits and the sweetest smile Rachel had ever seen? Or was this a girl with bohemian style and wandering eyes? It seemed incomprehensible that this girl's different personas could coexist in the same universe. And there was something intriguing about that for Rachel.
And above and beyond everything else, there had been a sparkle in the other girl's eyes; Rachel had seen it yesterday when the blonde had turned and smiled that heart-stopping smile at her neighbor, and Rachel saw it now as the professor told a horrendously awful joke and the blonde's shoulders shook slightly as she laughed and smiled that smile. Rachel found herself smiling across the mass of bodies and chairs and desks between herself and the blonde, and she knew in that moment that she simply could not find it within herself to ignore her curiosity concerning this mystery of a girl.
That night, Rachel fell again into her bed. She was utterly exhausted. She had been held back after her music theory class for speaking out of turn (repeatedly). But the graduate student teaching the class had been wrong (repeatedly), and Rachel had felt that it would have been a great travesty and an injustice to her fellow students if she hadn't spoken up. So she had. And her teacher had talked to her after class so long about respect and authority figures that Rachel had nearly been late to her private vocal lesson.
A light knock on her bedroom door startled Rachel. Her eyes flew open and she sat up in bed. "Come in," she called out.
"Rachel?" One of Rachel's roommates – a tall, blonde dancer named Brittany – cracked the door open and stuck her head inside. "Tina and I were going to watch a movie, are you interested in joining us?" Rachel lifted an eyebrow thoughtfully, but before she could answer, Brittany continued. "There will be popcorn involved!"
Rachel laughed. "You almost had me with the popcorn, but I'll pass. I'm exhausted, and I really just think I'm gonna go to bed."
"Alright," Brittany replied. "If you change your mind, you know where to find us."
The girl shut the door, and Rachel fell back on her pillows. A light shone in through the window from outside, casting pale shadows against the opposite wall through her curtains. The sounds of the city outside her window began to lull Rachel into a peaceful sleep.
And as Rachel fell asleep, her thoughts swirled tempestuously with blonde hair and beautiful smiles; and Rachel knew that if she would accomplish nothing else that semester, she would befriend the mysterious girl with the sparkling eyes…