Deus Ex Machina [god in the machine]
Did you know that when you google Lima, Ohio, one of the first things that pop up are the obituaries? Rachel Berry sat at her laptop, thinking about what a perfect song that would make. Callous and perturbing, sure, but that's why it would be a new-age country song. She glanced at the assignment sheet that she had set on her desk two hours prior. "You're mocking me," she stated, glaring at the piece of paper. "An assignment on the exciting history of Lima, Ohio. Nothing interesting has ever happened here," Rachel mumbled, scrolling past the obituaries on Google down to the weather.
She paused, brushing her bangs out of her eyes as she willed herself to not scroll back up. She lasted five seconds before she bit her lip and caved, clicking on the link to the obituaries. She briefly scrolled through the recent ones, furrowing her brows in sympathy but feeling nothing beyond that. She didn't know these people, any of them; granted, she never knew the girl she was about to search for, either. She clicked the search box and her fingers flew over the keys. Sitting back, she eyed the simple date on the screen: 2000. She thought back on the 2,000 times she'd been in this same position, her finger hovering over the 'Enter' button, daring herself to push it. But just like every other time, Rachel closed her eyes tightly as she pushed the back button, returning to Google. She shook her head clear of those jumbled memories as she silently reminded herself that there were more important things to be done.
An hour and two typed out pages later, Rachel took a minute to stretch her arms over her head. She held them there as she relished the feel of her muscles relaxing. She was, in fact, still in that pose when the power went out. She blinked once. Then twice, just to make sure she was correct in assessing what had just happened. She reached over and flipped open her cell phone, shining a light on the due date on her assignment sheet. Her wide eyes moved from the paper to her blank computer screen, then back to the paper. "Due tomorrow," she declared, breaking the silence, "and I forgot to save it." And thus began Rachel Berry's junior year of high school.
Rachel Berry tore out of the choir room with the force of a tornado. The slap of her flats echoed loudly around her as she marched down the empty hallways of McKinley High. Rachel's eyes were brimming with tears that she refused to let fall. Not until she was in the safety of the girl's restroom, at least.
Once Rachel felt the cool porcelain of the sink under her fingers, her reflection blurred as her tears began to cloud her vision. It had been the first week back to school and the third glee rehearsal that week. It had all been going so well up until that one solo; until the club, her "friends", had backed her into a corner, yet again. The first solo of the year, and Rachel had wanted it. But no sooner had the words left her mouth, the insults were being thrown.
Rachel glared into her own eyes, mentally chastising herself for being weak, stupid, and for thinking that anything would change after Regionals. The glee club was always united, one entity, until it came to her. It didn't matter how hard she tried, Rachel Berry was always left standing in the cold. None of the other eleven members had come to her rescue this time, not even Finn Hudson.
She wiped her face with the back of her hand as her tears started to slow down. She stole a glance at herself in the mirror and choked back another sob - she was a mess -as she simultaneously heard a noise behind her. Whirling around, Rachel clutched at the sink behind her back, trying to clear her vision enough to see through her tears. "Is somebody else in here?" she called out, her voice cracking.
Silence. Her eyes traveled along the stall doors as she waited for more signs of movement. Hearing nothing, Rachel turned back to the mirror and inhaled slowly. "Rachel Berry does not run," she repeated to herself a few times, like a mantra. She waved a hand under the faucet and cupped her hands as the cool water rushed out. She closed her eyes and splashed the water onto her face repeatedly in an attempt to wash away the tear streaks.
She met her own dark eyes in the mirror again and forced a smile. "When you're smiling, when you're smiling, the whole world smiles with you," she sang quietly, grabbing for a paper towel to wipe off her face with. The paper clung to her face as she dabbed at her closed eyes.
She felt the rush of wind from the stall door slamming shut before she heard it. Her suspicions were confirmed; she was, in fact, not alone. "I asked you once before and now I expect the truth, stranger. I know that someone else is in here, so who are you?" She whirled around and immediately spotted the one stall that was closed at the end of the row. She slowly approached the closed door with her hand outstretched, her face still dripping from the remaining water.
"If you are here to slushy me then please just get it over with. I need to get back to glee and if I need to wash my face again…" she trailed off as her eyes cast downward, looking for the intruder's feet under the stall door. She saw nothing. Her breath hitched in her throat as her fear got the better of her.
She waited a couple more seconds for an answer before she decided to take urgent action. "Just come out, already!" she demanded impatiently, stamping her foot on the ground. She got her wish as the stall door flew open immediately, clubbing her in the side of the face and knocking her backwards. She hit the ground with a grunt as the air in her lungs escaped her.
Rachel raised her face as the tears fell, expecting to look into a Cheerio's eyes. Instead, she saw nothing. The door swung on its hinges as if a breeze had blown it open, and if Rachel had been less mentally stable, she would have believed that theory. However, she knew better.
"You are not my first, and will not be my last, paranormal experience, I'll have you know," she said through the sting of her face. "I'm not sure what I did to anger you, spirit, but I'm sorry for whatever it was." She stayed on the floor as her eyes traced the swinging motion of the stall door, until it suddenly stopped.
Rachel's breath caught again. "You heard me, didn't you, spirit? Is that what's wrong? You're angry? Who are you angry at?" Rachel gently goaded. She waited for a response, her fear quickly turning to fascination, and then excitement. Throughout her life, Rachel had been harboring a secret fascination with anything and everything paranormal (with the exclusion of aliens, because even Rachel Berry wasn't that crazy). She could even pinpoint the exact moment when she became fascinated with ghosts: October of 2000. Her mind began to wander back to that memory, and she had to shake her head forcefully and feel the sting of her bruised face to bring herself back to reality. Her ghost had gone quiet.
"Maybe I was imagining things," Rachel began slowly, bringing her hand to her now swollen face, "and maybe it was just a rush of wind."
A beat of silence followed her sentence before the toilets whirred to life. All of them. At once. Rachel's head snapped back up at the sound as a smile crossed her features. "All right, so you do exist. I've never heard of McKinley being haunted before. Especially by a poltergeist." The toilets stopped going off and Rachel frowned. "Not a poltergeist? I'm sorry for assuming. Are you just an intelligent being, then? I watch Ghost Hunters every Wednesday night with my fathers, so I know a great deal about intelligent beings." By this point, Rachel had pushed herself up to a sitting position on the linoleum of the restroom as she faced the stall door that had beamed her in the face.
"You're not gone, are you?" Rachel questioned from the floor as she searched the surrounding area for any more peculiar movements. After a few minutes, she sighed as she stood up. "I'm sorry if I offended you in any way, spirit." She turned and faced the mirror, wincing at what she saw. Her face was red and swollen, but she didn't think it would bruise. She splashed cold water on her face again, just in case she had temporarily lost her mind and she needed to be snapped back to reality. With one final glance into the mirror, she turned and opened the restroom door.
Throwing her chestnut hair over her shoulder as she glanced back from the doorway, she called out, "My name is Rachel Berry, by the way. It was nice to meet you, spirit, and I really hope this won't be our last encounter." The door slammed shut behind her as she made her way back to glee. Each step took her mind further from the encounter and closer to how she was going to steal Kurt's solo. After all, Rachel Berry was rather used to paranormal experiences. Or so she thought.
A week later, Quinn ghosted through the halls of McKinley High, an hour after school had gotten out. She much preferred walking around this time of the day because the entire school just seemed calmer. Her fingers hovered over the glass of the third Cheerio's trophy case she'd passed in her walk. This was her favorite case, though, because this one had her trophies, her name, and her legacy. She visited here at least once a day, and preferably, when no one else was in the hall to interrupt her thoughts.
Her gaze followed the dozens of smaller trophies that paved the way to the oversized one, her Nationals trophy. She smiled to herself wistfully as she recalled how she'd almost single-handedly trained the entire squad her sophomore year, and how her coach had told her in private that their win was a result of that.
Quinn searched for her reflection in the glass of the case and frowned at what she saw. She huffed a sigh as she turned on her heel and made her way down the hall towards the girl's restroom. She hadn't tortured anyone in a week because of that damn Rachel Berry. She passed through the door and smiled as she saw a freshman girl applying her makeup by the sinks. Quinn snuck behind her as the girl closed her eyes while applying mascara.
Three minutes later, the girl finished her makeup and smiled at herself in the reflection. Quinn turned on the faucet full force and splashed the girl directly in her face, causing her makeup to run. The freshman girl shrieked as she covered her face and turned away from the faucet. "What the hell is wrong with you?" she yelled at no one in particular as she ran from the restroom. Quinn leaned against the sink, as she laughed, almost forgetting to shut off the water. She cast a quick gaze to the giant puddle on the floor from her prank and smiled, hoping that someone else would slip on it and fall.
She snapped her head to the left when she heard the restroom door slam open. Quinn groaned silently as Rachel Berry stormed through the doorway with fire in her eyes. Quinn cocked an eyebrow as she watched the shorter girl fist her hands on her hips and scan the room. Her brown eyes rested on Quinn, looking right through her. Rachel's eyes remained on Quinn for far longer than they should have, and Quinn actually heaved a sigh of relief when Rachel broke the stare and sighed.
"Are you in here?" the brunette questioned as she approached the sink that Quinn was leaning against. Quinn barely had enough time to move away from the sink before Rachel was leaning up against it, peering at herself in the mirror. "When I saw that girl bolt out of here, I just knew that it was your fault," she accused, turning from the mirror and glaring at the stall door that hit her in the face a week before.
Quinn slowly moved around Rachel in order to see the damage. Quinn frowned and ran a hand through her blond hair, "Damn, it didn't bruise."
Rachel screamed as she jumped backwards, slipping on the puddle in front of the sink and going down in front of it. "Who said that?"
Quinn froze with her hand still in her hair, her eyes and mouth both wide open in shock. She stared down at the girl on the floor who was rubbing her arm. "Was… was that you, spirit?" Rachel hesitantly asked.
Quinn still stood frozen. Had this Rachel girl heard her? How was that even possible? Part of Quinn wanted to run from the restroom as fast as possible and hide, but another part of her - a lonelier part - wanted to see if someone had actually heard her. "You can hear me?" Quinn whispered.
Rachel's head snapped up and Quinn watched her attempt to place where the voice had come from. "I can," Rachel said in disbelief, "I can hear you." Rachel fumbled her hand behind her, trying to find purchase on the sink before pulling herself up onto shaking feet.
Quinn could only watch her in shock. She hadn't had human contact in ten years, and for the first time, someone had heard her. Rachel's eyes wandered over her body, probably trying to figure out where exactly Quinn was standing. "Are you still here?" Rachel asked, hopefully. She threw a shaky smile Quinn's way, and Quinn knew she was scared. If Quinn hadn't been so terrified herself, she would have taken advantage of that fact.
She bit her lip and mentally argued with herself on whether or not she should speak back again. The more time she spent arguing with herself, the quicker Rachel's smile dropped. Quinn backed herself into the stall door as the sudden urge to introduce herself to Rachel overwhelmed her. Ten years without human contact had felt like an eternity of loneliness, and here she was, scared to death of actually holding a conversation with someone when she'd been given the chance. She opened her mouth and closed it, drawing in a breath.
Her eyes snapped back to Rachel when she heard the brunette's breathing start to increase. She watched with curious eyes as Rachel spun to face herself in the mirror and splash water over her face. "I did hear something," Quinn heard Rachel mumble to herself; "I heard it twice. Her, I heard her twice. I knew I wasn't losing my mind." Rachel smiled to herself lightly before turning back to face the restroom. "You see, spirit, after not hearing from you again for a week, I was beginning to think that I'd just simply lost my mind. Which wouldn't bode well for my future goals of stardom, so I had hoped that I'd have another encounter with you today, a less hostile one, that is…." Rachel finished, trailing off, running the tips of her fingers over her cheek.
Quinn continued to stare at Rachel with wide eyes, completely unprepared to handle this situation. She wasn't sure if Rachel sensed that or just had to go, but the girl perked up and began walking to the door. "I understand that you're either gone or too shaken up to speak to me. That's fine. I'd just like to say a couple things before I go."
Quinn quietly sighed, somehow knowing that she was in for a lecture. She snapped her mouth shut when Rachel's eyes moved to follow the direction of her sigh. "One is I appreciate that you made contact with me today. You helped me realize that I'm not losing my mind. Another is that if you need help, if you're stuck in the spirit realm or something, that I would do my best to help you move on. If that's what you want," Rachel added, shrugging. "And last, I am very disappointed in you for what you did to that freshman girl. For someone that isn't a poltergeist, you sure like to act like one." With that, Rachel turned and exited the restroom, smiling.
Quinn's mouth hung open in shock as she stared at the spot that Rachel was just standing in. See, Quinn had been dead for ten years - a ghost for just as long - and in that entire time she had never been spoken to (not from lack of her trying). And now this random girl (who seemed rather annoying and verbose, in Quinn's opinion) had come along and just expected to be able to talk to Quinn and have her talk back like it was perfectly normal.
Quinn leaned her head back on the stall door and stared at the ceiling. She somehow knew that nothing about this Rachel girl was normal, and she probably hadn't seen the last of her. Quinn sighed as she realized that she might have a pretty big problem on her hands. Which she thought was ironic, because that girl was tiny.
Rachel sat in her swivel desk chair; the toes of her pink ballet shoes lightly grazed the ground as she slowly spun herself in half circles. Her face was contorted in thought as she mulled over the happenings of the day. Her first encounter with the newly found "spirit" of McKinley High hadn't left as big of an impact on her as the second encounter had. She had heard a voice. She didn't imagine it, didn't mistake it for anyone else in the bathroom, she'd heard the spirit's voice; and said spirit was a girl.
Naturally, Rachel's interests had been peaked immediately at the chance of communicating with an intelligent spirit. It was rare that people had a legitimate encounter with anything paranormal in their lives, much less having two encounters with the same being.
However, it had taken Rachel until after her ballet lesson to realize the connection that she failed to make earlier. The epiphany had hit her as her father was driving her home that night. She passed a familiar intersection on the main thoroughfare of Lima as she was thinking of ways to get the spirit to make contact with her again, when her realization hit.
Her mind had shot back to that year, when she had merely been six and on her way home from her intermediate ballet class. She thought about that night at least once a month; at first thinking it was merely the affect of seeing a traumatic experience at a young age, but now doubting that idea. Maybe it meant more. Maybe it meant -
"Rachel!" her dad bellowed from the bottom of the stairs. The brunette snapped herself out of her thoughts and glanced down at herself. She had forgotten to change out of her ballet clothes when she had gotten home thirty minutes prior and instead opted to lose herself in her thoughts.
She furrowed her brow as she made her way to open her bedroom door. "What is it, dad?"
"Finn is here to see you, honey."
Rachel paused and glanced at the clock on her nightstand. She cringed as she realized she had forgotten her date with Finn. She gave herself a once over and sighed. Tonight was not the night for a crappy dinner at Bread Stix and awkward conversations that skirted the non-existent line between Broadway and football and the imperceptible flicker of potential there. However, that basically summed up Rachel and Finn's relationship, anyway, and Rachel was grateful for it. Finn may not have been the best boyfriend, but he had been her first friend ever, and when you're as lonely as Rachel is, you give a hell of a lot more than you get because it's all that you know how to do.
"Tell him that I'll be right down, dad. We have some of his favorite cookies in the pantry if he's interested," Rachel called through her door as she began tugging off her ballet flats.
She perched herself on the end of her bed as she rolled her pink tights down her legs and over her feet. She sighed as she stood up and tugged her tutu off her hips. She finally tugged off her black tank top and let her hair fall from its bun.
"What shall I wear for my date tonight?" Rachel asked herself as her bare feet padded across her room to her closet. She closed her eyes tightly and reached out to blindly pick a dress. She opened her eyes to look at the green material between her fingertips. "Green? Really? I'm not sure. Maybe I should wear brown to match his eyes…" she mused, scanning her impressively large dress collection.
She shuddered as a cool breeze ran over her bare shoulders, knocking two of her dresses off their hangers. She froze on the spot. "Spirit? Is that you?" Rachel looked down at the two yellow dresses on the floor. "Yellow? I wore one of those for one of my favorite glee performances you know, spirit."
Rachel bent over and picked up the two dresses before turning towards her room, where her window was open. Her mouth formed an 'oh' as she realized that the wind had come from the outside, not her spirit. She sighed as she dropped the dresses onto her bed. "I'm losing my mind. This has to stop."
Rachel chose the brightest yellow dress and tugged it over her head. She put the final touches on her makeup and smiled at her reflection in the mirror. "This will be a good date. You do love…" she paused. "Well, you really like Finn, at least. So put on your best smile and have a good Friday night," she said to her reflection. She felt another breeze roll over her shoulders. "Right after I shut the window."
Quinn watched Rachel make her way over to her bedroom window from her spot on the bed. The brunette peered up at the window and grumbled. "I don't see why I was given the room with the vertically opening window. I cannot reach it."
Quinn cocked her head as she watched Rachel inhale deeply before jumping up to reach the sash and slam the window shut. The brunette nodded in approval as she turned to her nightstand, grabbed her purse, and hastened out of her room to meet some Finn guy.
"Hmm," Quinn mused as she got up from her sitting position on the bed. She had followed Rachel from school to ballet, and from ballet to home that day. Not because she's creepy, she had clarified to herself as she sat next to the brunette in the back seat of her parent's car after school, but she just had to know what this girl was all about. What made her so different from everyone else; did she have spiritual powers? Was she a religious figure in disguise, sent to exorcise Quinn? These important questions clearly could only be answered by snooping around in Rachel's personal life.
"Some personal life," Quinn mumbled as she ghosted the back of her hand over the Broadway playbills adorning the lemon colored walls. Wicked, Chicago, West Side Story, the classics, Quinn thought with a small grin. She paused as she made a complete circle. American Idiot. Rock of Ages. The Lion King. Mary Poppins. Stomp. The Phantom of the Opera - Quinn turned to the mirror and mumbled, "Well that explains the mask over there. God, does she not have a life? Did she actually go to all of these shows?"
Her question hung in empty air as she turned towards the dresser, pausing as she almost walked through the bed. She made her way around and looked at the pictures on top of the dresser.
They were all in similar frames: black or gold, plain trim, nothing flashy and nothing too large. She recognized Rachel's fathers in one picture from seeing them earlier in the day. There were a few of Rachel, alone and with her dads. Quinn paused and hovered over one of Rachel smiling up at a goofy looking guy who seemed to be about a foot taller than the brunette was, maybe more. He had a crooked grin and a McKinley letterman jacket, and Quinn guessed that he was Rachel's idea of a fairytale prince. He had to be, it was way too cliché and corny: the school stud falling for the glee club girl? She shook her head and scoffed as she moved on to the next picture. Matters of the heart? Love? There was no such thing, and Quinn knew that for a fact.
She dug her hands into the pocket of her jeans as she stopped in front of the last picture. Quinn's brow furrowed as she gazed at the picture of this breathtaking woman. She was older, and posing in a field, under a large tree, with her arms encircling a dog's neck as her bare feet rested under her. Her hair was long and chestnut and it matched her eyes.
Quinn wondered aloud. "Is this her mom?" She paused as a minor detail caught her eye. She looked closer and read "Shineman's Frames" in golden script, just barely visible above the bottom edge of the frame, on the picture.
Quinn didn't know whether to laugh or feel sympathetic: this girl actually kept the picture that came in the frame when she bought it. Not only did she keep it, but she had it up in her room as if this woman was someone she knew; someone she loved enough to keep her picture up. The blonde chose to be sympathetic as she wondered what reason anyone would have for doing that. Quinn's eyes wandered back to the dozens of playbills and she realized she might have her answer.
The ghost thought she was beginning to get a sense of who Rachel really was, and it wasn't a happy picture. She snooped in drawers and found a total of twelve diaries, three Julliard brochures, one bulimia pamphlet, and a pile of school pictures from what Quinn guessed was last year; the small pictures, the ones you're supposed to hand out to friends. She left the drawer quickly as she realized how big that pile was, and how small it should have been if this girl had friends.
An hour had passed and Quinn took a seat on Rachel's desk chair. Her feet touched the floor with her knees bending, and she laughed as she remembered that Rachel's toes had just barely skimmed the floor. The girl really was short.
"There's nothing here that makes her out to be a threat…" Quinn stated, resting her hands behind her neck. She stood up to leave when she saw a pink notebook peaking out from the corner of Rachel's pillow. A blonde eyebrow shot up as her curiosity got the best of her. Quinn lucked out as she saw that the notebook was already open under the pillow, leaving her an easy opening after the hassle of moving the pillow. She fluttered through the pages enough to catch certain words.
Her hazel eyes iced over as she read words scrawled in cursive. Ghost 101. Intelligent! Remedies? Ghost sicknesses? Possibility of exorcism to free souls? Disembodied voices… Quinn's anger bubbled up inside of her as the notebook slammed shut and flew across the room.
Quinn heard a screech from behind her as she whirled around. Rachel stood in the doorway holding her purse in front of her face. Quinn clenched her fists as she realized she had almost hit Rachel with the notebook. Almost wasn't good enough.
"What in the hell is that?" Quinn shouted, assuming Rachel could hear her. She assumed right.
Rachel stood frozen in the doorway as her purse dropped from her hand, making a thud on the floor. Her gaze flickered down to the notebook and back up to the side of her bed. "I… it's my notebook. It's all of my research…"
"Research?" Quinn echoed, "Who the hell are you? You're here to exorcise me aren't you? You finally came to get rid of me!"
Rachel's eyes widened, almost bugging out of her face, "Wait, are you my spirit? How did you know where I lived?"
Quinn's anger bubbled up to the point of extremity as the air in the room started to spark and crackle. The hairs on Rachel's neck and arms stood up as electricity shot through her fingertips. She fought the quakes that were assaulting her body. "No, please… if you'll just listen to me - I can explain everything if you'll just listen to -"
Quinn shook her head, almost forgetting that Rachel couldn't see her. "I don't need to listen to you. I knew there was a reason you could hear me when no one else ever could before. You're different because you're here to take me, to get rid of me. Well I'm not ready, and I'm not going. You can't fool me, Rachel Berry. Just stay the hell away from me!"
Rachel was shocked into silence as the static electricity left the air as if the room had just been drained of power. Chocolate eyes dropped to the open notebook on her floor again as her body erupted into shivers. "I was only trying to help you…" Rachel whispered.
But Quinn was long gone.
Rachel marched down the halls of McKinley High during lunchtime on Monday. It was a rainy day and her mood since Friday night had matched the gloom outside.
"Rachel!" She whirled around, flinching out of habit. "Hey, where are you going?"
She looked up at her boyfriend and smiled softly. "I was going to the library to do some more research for my science project," she said as she adopted a straight face.
Finn pouted and Rachel smiled. It was always comical to see a 6'3" tall guy pout like a three year old. "Again? You've gone in there during lunch every day for like a week. And what science class is this anyway? 'Cuz I talked to San and she said that Mrs. Orvelle hadn't actually assigned anything this-"
"Finn," Rachel began as she cut him off, "can you keep a secret?"
The boy ran a giant hand through his messy hair as he looked around the empty halls. "Yeah, course I can, Rach. What's up?"
Rachel took a deep breath and held her pink notebook tighter to her chest. She hadn't told Finn the truth about her "research project" for science. She hadn't had a science project at all; truth be told, she had just been spending hours pouring through the ghost books available in the McKinley library (which, surprisingly, there had been a lot of) and collecting data. "I haven't been working on a science project."
Finn's expression darkened and Rachel hastily added, "But I have been in the library doing research."
"On what?" Finn questioned, now visibly confused.
There was a silence that extended long enough for Rachel to realize she was losing precious lunchtime minutes. "Like, dead people?"
"Like spirits, Finn," Rachel said in exasperation as she grabbed the boy's hand and began tugging him towards the library. "I've been doing research on the paranormal. Do you remember me telling you about how psychic I am?"
"Well, two weeks ago I encountered a ghost in the bathroom. And then a week after that, I encountered her again!"
"Yes, her, keep up, Finn. And then…" Rachel trailed off as a freshman boy walked by. She shot him a look until he was out of earshot before continuing in a whisper. "And then, do you remember when I went out with you Friday night? Well, I came home and the spirit was in my room! She threw this notebook at me and seemed incredibly mad at what I had written in it."
They paused at the door to the library as Finn reached forward and yanked the door open for her. "Okay… and how do you know that she's a she?"
Rachel made her way towards her regular table in the back as she whispered, "She spoke to me! She seemed just as surprised as I was that I could hear her."
They sat down and Rachel looked hard into Finn's eyes. "It's okay if you don't believe me, Finn. That's why I haven't told anyone. I'm not sure if I could believe me either, to be honest."
Finn appraised his girlfriend for a few minutes before he reached over and put his hand on her shoulder. "I believe you. Hell, you'd believe me, so why shouldn't I believe you?"
Rachel broke into a grin as she squeezed the hand on her shoulder. "Thank you, Finn. And now that you know… you can help me!"
"Help with what?" he asked, flipping open Rachel's notebook and widening his eyes at the words there. "I don't know how to perform an exorcism… I have the movie though if you wanna like, watch it…"
Rachel shook her head frantically, "No, no. See, that's the thing! She doesn't want to be exorcised! That's why she was so angry with me on Friday night - she got into my notebook and accused me of being some secret religious figure with a hidden agenda. She thought I was here to get rid of her, somehow. She seemed terrified at that prospect."
Finn looked up a few minutes later, eyebrows furrowed, as he lowered his voice, "Rachel, I'm not so sure that this is a good idea. You aren't supposed to mess with this kind of stuff, you know. What if you screw up her soul or something? Maybe you shouldn't be interfering…"
Rachel sat back and crossed her arms over her chest. "Judging by the way she sounded when she and I were talking, she doesn't communicate with living souls often. You know what that means?"
Finn shrugged with his eyebrows raised, clearly not buying any of what Rachel was saying.
"It means that there's a reason I was in the bathroom that day, and there's a reason that only I can hear her!"
Finn absent-mindedly thumbed through the notebook. "How do you know you're the only one?"
"She said that I was the only one who had ever heard her. Besides, have you ever heard her?"
Finn thought for a moment before shrugging, "No, I haven't. Good point."
Rachel bit her lip to hold back a smile as she stood up to grab her pile of books from the nonfiction section. It was far too easy to win in a battle of wits against Finn, seeing as how he always came unprepared. She returned with at least seven books, dropping them onto table in front of Finn, scaring the boy out of his daydream.
"Jesus, Rach. Have you already been through all of these?"
Rachel scrunched up her nose. "Language, Finn. I've only looked through certain parts of them. Can you help me take notes on anything that deals with intelligence, high schools, poltergeists, and disembodied voices?"
Finn nodded dumbly as he picked up a pencil and opened a book titled Ah! I Think My House Is Haunted! Rachel watched him for a moment before she silently decided she'd just go through that book again later.
Later happened to be sooner than Rachel had planned. As the two had been pouring over books, the rain had been pouring outside, and an hour later the school was on temporary lockdown because the parking lot had flooded and the roads bad been closed off.
Rachel sighed as she stretched herself into a lying position on the library floor. She had Finn's letterman jacket balled up under her head and a Nancy Drew book in her lap as the lights flickered.
"This is insane," Finn muttered, eyeing the locked doors. "They can't keep us here, can they? Can't we all just go into the gym?"
"The gymnasium is flooded, Finn, remember? Did you reach Santana?"
Finn nodded. After an announcement had been made that no one could find the Cheerios, Rachel had insisted Finn text Santana to make sure she and Brittany were okay.
"Yeah, she texted back. She said coach Sylvester had made them go outside until the firefighters got there and made them go back in. They're all in the cafeteria now."
Rachel laughed lightly as she shook her head. "I'm sure the rain will let up soon and they'll have the roads clear. I've been trying to reach Mr. Schue about scheduling a later glee practice but for some reason he won't answer my calls."
"Wonder why?" Finn mumbled, shooting Rachel a look while rolling his eyes.
Quinn had been outside - watching a sophomore girl go chasing after her backpack after she had accidentally dropped it into the road (that now doubled as a river) - when she heard the announcement over the PA system. She rolled her eyes as she made her way through the sheet of rain back into the building to laugh at the kids that were now locked in. She paused when she saw the Cheerios jog outside in nothing but their uniforms. Quinn paused and shook her head in shock as she remembered how not crazy her coach had been when she had been on the squad. She thought about how hard those girls had it as they silently jogged past her.
The teachers all had the students locked in the rooms that they had been in when the lockdown had been put in place, so most people were still in the cafeteria.
The blond spent half an hour wandering through the cafeteria and listening in on people's conversations before she began to crave silence again. Quinn made her way to the library thinking there wouldn't be many people in there because, seriously? Who hangs out in the library during lunch?
"Do you think that Mr. Schue would be up for a performance of Singin' in the Rain? I am aware that I'm no Gene Kelly, but I feel as if…" Rachel's voice trailed off into the background of Quinn's mind as the girl tuned her out.
"Of course," she breathed out as she walked in to see Rachel lying on the floor with her boyfriend's jacket under her head and said boyfriend sprawled out next to her. "I should've known."
Her frustration subsided momentarily when she saw the large stack of books between them, and a very familiar yellow book in Rachel's hand. Quinn's eyebrows shot up as she let out a laugh. "Nancy Drew? Seriously?"
Her mouth slammed shut as she saw Rachel perk up; looking over her book as if she'd heard a noise. Quinn remained silent as she made her way over to the happy couple in the corner. She sat down cross-legged next to Rachel and began scanning the titles of the books. Her fingers drifted over thick leather books and small pamphlets, each title etching her frown in deeper as she realized Rachel wasn't giving up this ghost thing. She made her hand into a little gun, pressed it against Rachel's head, and mouthed the word, "bang". Quinn stayed cross-legged as she decided to stay and listen in to their conversation, thinking she might figure out who Rachel is by seeing her with someone she trusts. Quinn cocked her head to the side as she eyed Rachel, remembering Friday night and how Rachel had seemed indecisive about Finn. She dropped her gaze back down to the pile of books and decided she trusted him enough to tell him her wacky ghost theories.
Speaking of Finn... Quinn tore her glare from Rachel and brought it down onto the boy. She inspected him carefully for a few minutes. Finn: Messy brown hair, letterman's jacket, sweet grin. The blond watched him read a sentence in whatever stupid ghost book he had now, and then throw Rachel an unnoticed, hesitant glance. Quinn laughed when she realized Finn probably thought Rachel was insane with all of this ghost crap. Eventually, Quinn brought her attention back to the pile of books that Rachel had out and scanned the titles again. Odd. She didn't have any on exorcism, Quinn realized with a smile, but she still wanted to know what the hell Rachel was up to and why she had so much interest in Quinn.
The ghost watched an unknowing Rachel read the first Nancy Drew as if she'd done it a hundred times before. A soft smile played over the brunette's features as she turned the page. Quinn's brows furrowed together as she took in the pink unicorn sweater Rachel had on with the matching pink barrette in her hair. Did this girl seriously threaten her? She didn't look like she could hurt a fly, much less be a legitimate threat to Quinn's spiritual existence.
"Hmm?" the brunette asked, not taking her eyes from the book.
"What if you got some professional to exorcise her? You know, you could help her spirit move on. Maybe get her up to Heaven or… wherever."
Quinn stood up fast enough that the top book of the pile fell over. Rachel arched an eyebrow at the fallen book but remained perfectly calm. "She doesn't want to be exorcised, I told you this. I'm not going to force her to pass on, that's not my choice to make."
Quinn stared hard at Rachel as she judged her truthfulness. The brunette's eyes lifted from the book on the floor, up to where Quinn was standing, and she smiled. Quinn's eyes snapped down to her own body. Could Rachel see her? Did she know that Quinn was standing right here?
"Tina, Mike! You guys snuck in here?"
Quinn sucked in a breath as two people walked through her, hand in hand, to stand in front of Rachel. She tuned out any conversation after that as her vision blurred with the sting of tears. Damn it. She hated it when someone walked through her. She turned on her heel and stormed out of the library. She could acknowledge that having Rachel's stupid friends walk through her hurt; however, she would not acknowledge that thinking Rachel had seen her, then finding out she hadn't, had hurt worse. Why would she want to be seen, anyway? The goal was, and always has been, to stay as hidden as possible. Quinn suddenly decided that the constant patter of rain would soothe her better than any silence would as she slammed through the front doors of the school and back into the storm.