A/N: It's been so much fun writing this story guys! Thanks for reading, I hope it made you smile! The sequel won't be up for a few weeks; I'm resuming my epic battle with Organic Chem on Monday and I'd like to go at least a week before I give up. Thanks again!
I Can See For Miles
"Quinn! We're going to be late!"
"We're late every year, Rach. They're so excited to see you they don't even notice." Quinn wanted to also point out that it was always Rachel's fault they were late, but her wife seemed to be having enough trouble as it was, hopping around their bedroom and trying to put her shoe on the wrong foot.
"Buddy, stop." Quinn strode over and gently toppled Rachel onto the bed. She grabbed the right shoe and put it on the correct foot, then ran her hands up Rachel's calf and stood up.
"See. Things get done when you don't act like a spaz." Quinn smiled fondly down at the smaller woman, ruffling her brown hair.
"Let's go!" Rachel cried, dragging them out the front door, bouncing in the elevator, then tripping down the two steps in front of their building. Good Lord. Two steps and they still managed to tumble down them. Some things never change.
Their cab took them to the Lavelle School for the Blind, where they were greeted by the principal and district superintendent, along with multiple security officers whom Quinn had demanded be present to ward off the paparazzi. Everybody in the city of New York knew that Rachel Berry attended the school carnival each year; it was gossip magazine gold.
"Rachel, Quinn, so good to see you two again! I'm sorry I can't stay and chat; it seems one of the vendors caught fire, the person, not the machinery, and the lawn sprinklers won't turn off…We'll have you on stage at about six, if that's okay?"
Rachel nodded excitedly and the woman jogged off vaguely in the direction of an explosion. Quinn was focused on something else, something coming down the street that she could not believe. Oh. My. God. No way. No freaking way. It's not them. Oh my God. It is them. Rachel followed her gaze and gasped in shock and excitement before throwing her arms around Quinn and laughing at her wife's expression.
A few seconds later the minibus lurched up onto the curb, plowed down a traffic cone the police had set up, and screeched to a halt right in front of Rachel and Quinn. They heard yelling coming from inside and were transported immediately back to high school.
"My water bottle just got stuck under the pedal, calm down!"
"Holy shit! We made it? We're alive?"
"Did we just crash?"
Quinn couldn't seem to close her mouth. This was too damn ridiculous.
"Now who's acting like a spaz?" Rachel asked with a smile, shaking Quinn lightly to wake her from the oh-my-God-I-thought-I'd-never-see-that-damn-minibus-again stupor. The door opened then and the one-and-only Finn Hudson leaped out and engulfed them in a hug.
"Finn! I thought it was just you coming!" Rachel laughed.
"Oh it was." Santana said, emerging from the bus, slightly wobbly on her legs, and grabbing on to a street sign for support. "Some of us were coerced into riding in this death machine again."
Mercedes rolled her eyes. "And some of us wanted to support you guys." She smiled when Rachel shrieked happily.
"Okay," Mike called, hopping off the steps and then helping Tina, "which one of you guys spilled fruit punch down the aisle? It looks like a murder scene."
Kurt looked pointedly at Mercedes, following Mike. "Has anyone seen Lord Tubbington the Second?"
"Oh, I definitely have." Artie remarked as they lowered him down at the back of the bus. "He vomited on my shoes then hid under the seats."
"Don't worry Brittany, I'm sure he's still alive." Brittany looked a little dubious. Mercedes looked a little disappointed.
"Wait, there was a cat on board this whole time?"
Quinn caught up with everybody as they milled around on the sidewalk, recovering from their most recent minibus exploits. She learned that everybody had flown in, or driven in, yesterday, to Finn's house right outside the city, so the bus trip should have only been about twenty minutes. Of course, Quinn understood first hand that a lot could happen on a minibus with Finn in twenty minutes.
"Oh yeah, we were in New Jersey at one point." Puck explained. "He almost took us to Vermont but Santana made him turn around."
"Pssht, someone had to take matters into their own hands. We'd be crossing the damn border right now if it wasn't for me."
Quinn listened and laughed, but began to get a little antsy as the paparazzi started showing up, hanging around them like parasites. She stayed next to Rachel, one arm draped protectively around the smaller woman's shoulders, blocking her from the cameras, until everybody began to move through the gates and on to the grounds of the school.
All the old glee-clubbers smiled proudly as Rachel greeted the blind students, talking animatedly and laughing and touching the hands of every single one of them. Quinn grinned like a fool. God, she loved that girl.
"Artie, you need to stop yourself." Mercedes watched him, both awe and disgust written across her face. "You have a wife now. And a kid. I'm not gonna be the one to explain to them that you ate eleven sticks of cotton candy and died of sugar-induced cardiac arrest."
"Not a problem." Artie replied, swallowing more puffy pink goodness. "I once ate seven Cinnabons in one sitting; I can handle this."
"Oh God. Don't remind us; after the ambulance left you cried for an hour." Tina remarked.
"Uh, yeah, because Finn ate the rest of my frosting."
Quinn had to agree. Even though you need, like, a wheelbarrow of insulin to survive it, Cinnabon frosting is a gift from God.
"I think Finn's the one about to have cardiac arrest." Mike said, turning around and watching Finn frantically spin about thirty kids all piled onto a merry-go-round. As they watched, he dropped to his knees, seemingly suffering from some sort of breathing issues.
"Where'd Brittany and Santana go?"
"They're at the first aid tent."
Kurt gasped. "What happened!"
"They went in the petting zoo because Brittany wanted to hold the rabbits. Apparently Santana got rammed by a goat." Puck explained, far too amused by Santana's ordeal.
"Do goats have horns?" Kurt asked.
"No, that's rams." Mercedes replied.
"Do sheep have horns?"
"Rams are sheep right?" asked Mike.
"I thought rams were goats."
"No, Kurt, they're covered in wool and have those curly horns."
"Okay, let me ask you guys, what's the difference between a puma, a cougar, a mountain lion, and a panther?"
"Hey, Finn!" Quinn interjected before a debate over large cat species could ensue. The guy was walking, or staggering exhaustedly, over to their picnic table.
"Dude, where's your shirt?"
"Should we call an ambulance?"
He held up his hands, as if to say "I'm good," but couldn't actually seem to get the words out. He pointed back at the kids. "Some-Someone…needs…to-to…push….them."
"Oh! I'll go!" Rachel hopped up, kissed Quinn, and pranced over to the merry-go-round. Quinn watched her announce her presence and saw the kids cheer excitedly
"So Quinn," Quinn turned back to find Puck smirking at her, "tell us something about the famous Broadway star Mrs. Rachel Berry that us lowly fans don't know."
Quinn narrowed her eyes at him.
"Relax, nothing inappropriate. I'm married now, remember?" Puck smiled proudly.
Quinn grinned and nodded, turning back to Rachel to think, surprised to find that her wife was now the one in the center of the merry-go-round being spun madly by blind second-graders who probably didn't realize how woozy the woman looked.
Quinn looked back at Puck. "Rachel throws up every single time she goes on a teacup ride, a tilt-a-whirl, things like that…" Puck nodded wisely; who didn't throw up on a damn tilt-a-whirl. "But she loves roller coasters, especially those boat things that flip you upside-down."
"Oh dude, me too! I like to fill my pockets with loose change and watch the people react as it falls on them…What else?"
"Well…she's like a four-year-old, in that she'd rather have chocolate milk than alcohol with dinner…and she can't eat spaghetti without getting sauce down her shirt, like, really, it's impossible. She loves to watch Animal Planet but I have to turn it off when Animal Cops comes on because it makes her cry." Quinn's eyes glazed over; she was on a roll now and her friends watched in amusement.
"She calls her dads every Sunday, even when we were in England and it cost her a fortune and they told her that she didn't have to…Hmmm…She gags if she smells steak cooking but makes me bacon on my birthday and our anniversary, and it's impossible to go grocery shopping with her because she throws everything that catches her attention into the cart and she always ends up ramming it into a pile of some collapsible commodity…She gets me Sweethearts candy ever Valentine's Day, and picks out the best messages and hides them around the house for me to find."
Quinn thought for a few more moments. She didn't want to share the really personal things, like the fact that Rachel would still close her eyes for hours at a time when they were hanging out in their apartment, not pretending that she was blind, just…remembering the feeling, or the fact that she had cancelled a week's worth of shows when Quinn's father had died just to sit at home with her wife.
"Her favorite smell is Windex, though she's never cleaned a window in her life. She gets me to do all the cleaning because she proved to me the hard way that she's allergic to Pine-Sol. God, she's so annoying sometimes…" Quinn trailed off, the soft smile on her face contradicting her words.
"Oh girl, please." Mercedes scoffed before Quinn could continue her list-of-reasons-why-I-am-head-over-heels-in-love-with-Rachel-Berry rant. "You know when she does all that you're the one pouring the damn chocolate milk and helping her get the sauce off her shirt and wheeling her around on the grocery cart."
"Quinn, dear, you are whipped." Kurt grinned.
"What, I'm not-"
"Quuuuiinnn." Rachel whined from behind her. "I feel sick."
Quinn whipped her head around and stood up to face Rachel. She wrapped one arm around the smaller woman and brushed brunette bangs away with the other, ignoring the whip noises Puck was so graciously providing.
"Breathe baby. Do you mean 'vomit' sick or- Oh my God Santana! Are you okay?"
Santana just ignored Quinn and rolled her eyes. Brittany made a 'don't ask' motion with her hand as she pushed the wheelchair along. That ram/goat/sheep/puma/manatee must've really done some damage.
Good Lord. Why does she know these people?
"So, Mike, Tina, are you enjoying New York?" Quinn asked them, sitting in the corner of the bounce house so that Rachel could avoid the crowds for a few minutes. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
"Oh yeah!" Mike nodded, grimacing as a child landed on his knees, probably inverting them in the process. "Yeah, we did all the tourist stuff."
Tina rolled her eyes. "Mmhm, he insisted on wearing a Statue of Liberty foam hat all day. It was about seven feet tall."
"Oh my God, I have that same hat!" Quinn exclaimed. This time Rachel rolled her eyes. They spotted two people enter the bounce house then, and Brittany came bounding athletically over and around the kids to reach them. Santana seemed to vanish for a few minutes, until she crawled out from the mob of kids and slumped over next to Brittany.
"Where did your bandage go, San?"
"Did you know rabies victims have an irrational fear of water?"
"Puck, are you trying to tell us you have rabies?"
Puck shook his head. "Yeah right. Just imagine what it would be like. You'd be scared to shower, drink anything. So weird, dude."
Mercedes stared at him like he did have rabies. "What-I don't even-Okay, I can't."
Puck grinned, whipped several water balloons out of God knows where, and pelted them at those closest to him. Mercedes and Kurt were soaked. Brittany cheered happily, retrieved the nearest hose and drowned Puck along with any willing participants.
Five minutes later they got told by the principal to settle down or they would be escorted off the property. Santana telling her to "let loose a little you uptight bitch" didn't help matters.
By six o'clock, Quinn and Rachel had fought their way out of the bounce house and now waited by the side of the small stage that had been set up at the end of the school grounds. Rachel was talking to her manager and a few sound guys, and Quinn was on the lookout for any sort of threats. Psycho guys wearing tinted glasses and baseball caps, mean-spirited ten-year-olds, blind assassins, rogue animals, freaking manatees. You could never be too careful.
Rachel stopped talking just as a little girl and boy walked up. The girl seemed to be blind; the boy could obviously see, as he stopped them right in front of Rachel.
"Hi." The boy said nervously, holding the girl's hand.
"Hello!" Rachel replied, smiling warmly and kneeling down. "What's your name?"
"Hi Thomas! I'm Rachel." The boy nodded and smiled slightly, then gestured to the girl.
"This is Maggie."
Rachel reached for one of the girl's hands and clasped it in both of her own. "It's very nice to meet you Maggie. How old are you guys?"
"Eight." Thomas replied, smiling proudly.
"Eight! Oooh that's a good age." Quinn commented sagely, kneeling down next to Rachel.
"Do you like to sing?" Rachel asked, still holding onto Maggie's hand.
"Mags does!" Thomas said enthusiastically. "She has the CD from your play and she makes me listen to it every time I go to her house."
Quinn nodded along. "Girl has good taste." She noticed Rachel still had her gaze fixed on Maggie.
"Do you wanna sing when you grow up Maggie?" Rachel asked softly. The eight-year-old bit her lip and nodded her head shyly.
"She's gonna be on Broadway!" Thomas proclaimed.
"Only if Tom comes with me." Maggie said very quietly.
"Yeah?" Rachel said. Quinn put her hand on the small of Rachel's back. "You guys are buddies?"
Thomas nodded enthusiastically and Maggie smiled. Quinn could tell Rachel was about to cry so she moved her hand in circles and took the attention off her wife.
"Well, Maggie, when you're a star on Broadway I hope you remember to send us some tickets okay?"
"I will." Maggie said, slightly louder this time. Thomas grinned at her.
"See, I told you they would be nice."
"Thank you Mrs. Berry." Maggie smiled and Quinn watched her wife fall apart a little more.
"You can call me Rachel, sweetie. Can I hug you?"
Now Maggie beamed, nodding brightly. Rachel engulfed her in her arms and squeezed tightly.
"Never give up, okay sweetheart? I'm sure you'll be amazing."
Thomas was just standing there grinning, so Quinn wrapped him in a hug as well.
"You stay by Maggie, okay? Take care of her. You have no idea how good she'll be for you."
"Of course!" Thomas proclaimed, like it was the most obvious thing in the world.
The principal came up as Rachel and Quinn said goodbye to the kids and indicated that it was time for Rachel to go on. Quinn made sure her wife wasn't a complete mess; she gazed at her, silently asking if she was okay, and Rachel nodded reassuringly, giving her a watery smile, before striding out on to the stage.
Quinn watched the audience for a minute. Most of them were students, strolling around with their canes or holding their parents' and friends' hands. She spied a few security guards, all of whom seemed to be watching the group of soaked gleeks standing off to the side. For good reason, Quinn saw, as Finn led half the audience in a rousing rendition of 'Don't Stop Believing.'
Rachel talked for a few minutes to everybody about how she was blind when she was younger. Quinn walked out and sat cross-legged on the grass next to Maggie and Tom, and she was joined by the rest of the former glee-clubbers. She listened to Rachel talk about being bullied at school, something she was glad the kids at Lavelle didn't have to go through. Rachel told them about singing and glee club and her supportive fathers. Then she told them about a trip she took with her best friends; about how they went in a minibus to Key Largo and were laden with plans gone terribly awry, like flat tires and raw pancakes and massive hair, and she played them the memories from her old sound recorder.
The kids sat in rapt attention, listening to every detail. Who knew that you could have so much fun being the only blind person on a vacation. It would be a vacation from hell, on paper, Quinn thought. God, that freaking tiny bed changed her life though. Finally Rachel told them about how that trip brought her closer to the love of her life.
"She was my buddy then and she's my Buddy now. I was blind when we first went out, but she said my eyes were perfect, and it made me feel like it would be okay… So that's what I want to tell you guys today; you're perfect just how you are. And to those families and friends who can see, just be there for them…and make sure they don't fall down the stairs okay?"
Quinn gave a watery laugh. She looked to her left and accidentally snorted when she saw tears running down Puck's and Finn's faces. They heard her and quickly wiped their eyes, gesturing to the small flowers as if to say 'What? I'm allergic. I'm not bawling because your wife is so wonderful and perfect and sweet and kind. It's because of these damn flowers.' Quinn just smiled and met Rachel's gaze. She listened to the couple songs Rachel had chosen to perform and was the first to stand up and applaud when they were over.
"Before I go, I'd like you guys to meet my wife." Rachel said into the mike when the applause died down. "She's the reason I'm here today, and I'd like you all to hear her voice, because, ten years ago, it was my main reason for getting up in the morning."
Quinn was surprised; Rachel had never gotten her up on stage before.
"Quinn?" Rachel asked. Quinn sat motionless and Santana resorted to kicking her in the back.
"What the hell!"
"Move it Fabray! God, this is so freaking heartwarming." Santana seemed to be losing what grip she had on her sanity as she dissolved into tears, and Brittany wrapped her arms around her. Quinn finally strode up towards the stage and gave Rachel a hug when she reached her.
"Love you Rach." She whispered, her head resting on top of her wife's.
"I love you too." Rachel replied. Quinn smiled softly, breaking away and taking the mike.
"Hi everyone." She said uncertainly. She was met with a wall of applause and Rachel grinned at her.
"Okay…" Quinn had no idea where she was going with this. What the hell was she supposed to say? She was not prepared for this. All she wanted to do was sit and watch her wife sing. God it's so hot out here. She glanced nervously at Rachel, who smiled at her encouragingly.
"Okay. I guess I just want to say…You kids that go to this school…are truly inspirational. Every single one of you is special… I want to ask all you guys to never write anybody off because they're different. Get to know them, you know, because…they probably have so much more to offer... I know I did and my life infinitely better for it."
The audience clapped again and Quinn stepped back to Rachel. She watched their best friends trying to pretend like they weren't crying and she laughed with her wife at Santana mouthing the words 'damn heartwarming bitches' into Brittany's shoulder.
Quinn leaned down and kissed Rachel. She had something she wanted to show her, but waited until they were off-stage to do so.
Rachel stopped walking and spun around happily. She stood right up against Quinn and hooked her fingers through the blonde's belt loops. "Quinn."
Quinn smiled fondly as she gazed at the perfect brown eyes.
"I have a present for you."
Rachel gasped. "What is it!" she removed her hand from the belt loops and instead wrapped her arms around Quinn's waist. Quinn waited a moment, reveling in Rachel's excitement, before pulling an envelope out of her jacket. Rachel watched every movement with wide eyes.
"Apparently Kurt's grandmother found a camera lodged underneath the mattress of that freaking tiny bed we slept in, in Key Largo."
Rachel nodded excitedly and Quinn laughed.
"Quuuiiinnnn, show me!"
Quinn pulled the photo out and handed it to Rachel. It was of the two of them lying in the bunk, obviously taken by Quinn. They had their faces pressed together and looked like they had just run a damn marathon; obviously it was one of the nights where they were lacking in AC and nearing the brink of heat hallucinations and insanity. Rachel's gaze was unfocused, but there was no doubt that Quinn had been staring right into the smaller girl's eyes. They looked ridiculously happy.
"It's a few nights after I asked you to be my girlfriend. Our first picture as a couple." Quinn explained. Rachel seemed to be having trouble breathing.
"Sweetheart, are you okay?" Uh-oh. Do we need an ambulance? Inhaler? Hose? Water balloons? A camera so we can do this exact same thing ten years from now?
Rachel nodded and tore her gaze away from the photo. Quinn wiped the tears off her wife's cheeks and then kissed her sweetly.
"I love you Quinn. You saved me then, and I love you, more than you'll ever know." Rachel said softly.
Quinn smiled and rested her forehead against Rachel's. "I think I do know, Buddy, because that's exactly how much I love you."