Would You Notice?
Summary: Quinn feels invisible; she just wants someone to see her. Luckily for her someone sees her just in time. Oneshot. Themes of suicide and self-harm. Fairly OOC I guess. Although I hope not too much. No spoilers, set somewhere at the beginning of season two. To be honest it's not my best work but I put too much time into it not to post it.
A/N: I'm certainly on an angsty kick right now. Here's another one that's been banging around my brain, blocking me up when I try to write another chapter of Appearances.
Quinn Fabray sits, fully clothed in a shower stall in the Cheerios locker room, half wondering how she ended up here, fucked up and broken and about to end it once and for all. A sob escapes her lips as she looks between the spidery veins on her wrists and the note taped to the inside of the stall door, trying to find the courage to do it. Her mind keeps wandering and she's losing blocks of time. It's been happening ever since she started planning this. She starts to wonder what will be waiting for her on the other side. Hell, probably, if the beliefs that her parents drilled into her are anything to go by. But she's also been told that God forgives so maybe she will still get into heaven. Either way it has to be better than this. She's the most popular girl in school, head cheerleader, she's dating the quarterback of the football team…on the surface she has everything a 17 year old girl could ever want. But in spite of it all she's miserable. She's miserable because she's invisible to them all. They all see her perfect façade and they worship it but no one sees her, really sees her. No one takes the time to get to know who she is, what she likes, what she doesn't like. To them all she begins and ends with cheerleading. Her friendships are all shallow and meaningless, even her relationship with Finn is superficial. He "loves" her because she's hot and popular but he doesn't know what her favourite movie is, or her favourite ice cream flavour.
"They all know Quinn," she whispers aloud to herself. And it's true, and it's ironic. They all know and worship Quinn Fabray, the persona she created so that no one would discover the real her, the formerly fat, pimply, glasses and braces wearing nerd named Lucy, that she was so ashamed to be, and now all she wants, all she needs, is for someone, anyone to see that girl again, to see the real her that she spent so much time trying to hide. Quinn suddenly realises that she's crying. Wracking sobs that shake her whole body and make her feel like her lungs are being ripped from her chest. She picks the razor up from where she had placed it earlier, accidently cutting her finger in the process. "Shit!" she curses, dropping the sharp metal and stuffing her finger into her mouth. She reaches down and picks up the razor again, carefully this time and turns it over in her hand. She grips it in her still bleeding right hand and drags the blade shallowly over her left arm. Blood beads to the surface , mixing with the hot water from the shower and running down her arm. It stings and the pain, brings her mind fully back to the task at hand. She's concentrating so hard on working up the guts to make the cuts to end it that she doesn't hear the door to the locker room opening and someone walking in. She presses the blade to her left wrist and takes a deep breath.
"Don't!" comes the sudden high, panicky voice. "Don't do that!" Quinn jumps in fright, dropping the razor as her head jerks up. She comes face to face with a wide eyed, panicked looking Santana Lopez.
"Go away," Quinn snaps.
"No! No! I'm not letting you do this!" Santana shakes her head, almost frantically.
"Why not?" Quinn asks softly. "Not like anyone would notice," she mumbles.
"I would! I would notice! Quinn you're scaring me!" Santana's eyes are wide and quickly filling with tears. "Talk to me. Please!" the Latina's voice cracks as she pleads with Quinn. The blonde has never seen the other girl look so terrified.
"I'm invisible!" Quinn yells. "I worked so hard to not let people see me and now it's all I want! I just want someone to care about me! About Lucy!" she stops dead when she realises what she just said.
"Lucy?" Santana asks, confused. She slides down to sit next to Quinn, then reaches up past her to turn the water off. "Who is Lucy?" she asks, her hands beginning to reach for Quinn before she thinks better of it and pulls them back to wring them in her lap.
"It doesn't matter," Quinn says softly.
"Obviously it does. If it didn't you wouldn't be thinking about killing yourself over it," Santana's crying now, big, fat tears are rolling down her smooth cheeks and her eyes are pleading with Quinn, pleading for her to tell her how to help, how to fix this.
"Why do you even care Santana?" Quinn demands again, anger building up again.
"I see you!" Santana screams angrily. "I. Fucking. See. You," she repeats slowly.
"No you don't!" Quinn screams back.
"Your favourite ice cream is cookie dough, your favourite food is bacon and your favourite movie is fucking Casablanca because you're such a fucking Nana. You love alternative indie music and you love to dance in the rain. You're only with Finn because he's good for your image and secretly you actually kind of admire Rachel Berry because she is so content to be herself in spite of all the shit we do to her and all of the names we call her. You broke your arm when you were six and you split your head open when you were eight. You like Brittany more than me because she's far less of a bitch but you struggle not to get frustrated with her when she pulls her 'Stereotypical Stupid Blonde' bit at school. You love the beach with passion even though you've only ever been to one once. Maybe I don't know why you're trying to hide from your past but I do know you're hiding from it. And I do know that you've spent so long trying to erase that past and now that you have, you'd give anything to be able to stop pretending and be yourself instead of the you that you've created," Santana finishes, glaring at a wide-eyed, stunned Quinn. "I don't know who you were, Quinn, but I sure as hell know who you are."
"I'm Lucy," Quinn says softly, once the shock wears off. "Lucy Quinn Fabray."
"Why are you hiding Lucy, Quinn?" Santana asks softly.
"Lucy was fat, and had a big nose, and braces, and glasses and ginger hair. Lucy was a loser. A loser who got bullied, relentlessly," Quinn confesses, her voice pained and broken. "How did you know?" she asks the other girl. Santana sits silently for a while before she stands up. For a moment Quinn is sure that Santana is about to walk away from her but the Latina simply reaches down, hooking her hands under her armpits and hauling her to her feet. She pauses a moment, palms pressed firmly against Quinn's ribs under her arms, before turning and walking out of the stall, tugging Quinn gently to follow her. Quinn follows her over to her locker, where Santana pulls out her favourite big, fluffy red towel, wrapping it securely around Quinn. Quinn smiles a little when she does, recognizing what Santana is trying to communicate. No one gets to touch Santana's favourite towel, not even Brittany. Quinn knows that letting her use the towel is Santana's own odd little way of showing love. Quinn is so busy considering the meaning behind Santana's actions, that she totally misses the next ones, jumping when Santana's arms clench around her, trapping her against the other girl in a vice grip, as the Latina begins to sob against her shoulder. Quinn wants to hug her back but her arms are not only trapped inside the towel, they are pinned against her sides by the darker girl's strong arms. Suddenly her over emotional state catches up with her and Quinn is tired. Absolutely, completely, wiped out exhausted. She slumps heavily against Santana, causing the other girl to pull back in alarm.
"Quinn?" she asks, desperately. "What's wrong?"
"Tired," Quinn manages to mumble as her body starts shutting down. "So, so tired." She hears Santana release a breath.
"Sit down," the Latina whispers, leading Quinn to the bench and pressing on her shoulders to get her to follow the direction. Quinn is so tired she can barely see straight, and so she goes limp and jelly-like as Santana gently rubs her skin and hair dry with the soft towel. Quinn is too tired to fight when the towel disappears and Santana starts gently peeling her out of her soaking Cheerios uniform. Once the top and pleated skirt are off Santana's hands disappear and the other girl clears her throat. "Uh, Quinn? Your…um…your underwear is soaking wet too. If I don't take them off then they're just going to get anything dry I put on you wet," she says awkwardly.
"Take 'em off," Quinn mumbles tiredly, beyond caring right now. "Not like you haven't seen it all before." Santana clears her throat before moving to stand behind Quinn, gently unhooking and removing her bra. A moment later something soft and dry is pulled over her head and she lifts her heavy arms, finding the armholes and pushing her arms through. Once the t-shirt is on, Quinn feels Santana gather her damp, blonde hair into a pony, securing it with an elastic band. Quinn begins to fade out then, slumping closer to the bench, barely able to hold herself upright anymore.
Santana sees Quinn's slump and panic rises in her throat again. She quashes it down though, having once been in this state of emotional exhaustion herself, she knows that Quinn's body is shutting down to sleep because it needs a break from it all. She moves to stand in front of the blonde, quickly removing her panties and awkwardly easing her into a pair of WHMS sweatpants. Quinn is all but asleep where she sits by the time Santana is finished, so the brunette quickly throws her towel and Quinn's wet clothes into her Cheerio's bag, along with the note she she had quietly pulled from the inside of the stall door, before throwing the bag over her shoulder and locating her car keys before scooping the exhausted blonde into her arms, awkwardly carrying her out to her car. By the time she gets home Quinn is passed out in her front seat, her mouth slightly open, snoring softly. Santana leaves her while she takes their stuff inside and on finding her Dad at the kitchen table, asks him to help her get the sleeping blonde inside. Quinn doesn't even stir as Tony carries her inside and up the stairs to Santana's room.
"What happened to her?" Tony asks as he gently lays her on the bed.
"She was just really, really upset," Santana tells him softly. "Totally overwrought."
"Ok. Let me know if you need anything," Tony tells his daughter. He's a little taken aback when Santana steps forward and throws her arms around him, hugging tight.
"Thanks Daddy," she whispers. Tony cups his hand around the back of her head, briefly pulling her tighter against him before releasing her. He casts one more concerned glance at the blonde before leaving her in his daughter's capable hands.
It's dark when Quinn wakes and she has no idea where she is. She tries to sit up but something is holding her down. Quinn feels panic build inside her and tries to throw the weight off of her, whimpering in fear.
"Quinn, it's ok," the weight tells her and Quinn's panic recedes as she realises it's just Santana, curled tightly around her and pinning her to the bed.
"Where am I?" she croaks.
"My house," Santana tells her.
"Why am I here? Why didn't you take me home?" Quinn asks, feeling the depression and desperation creep back up inside her.
"Because I don't trust you to be alone right now," Santana replies honestly. "I'm not letting you out of my sight."
"Santana-," Quinn begins, her eyes have adjusted to the dark now and she sees the other girl's face, and the pain and anger that reside there.
"No," Santana shakes her head vigorously.
"You don't understand," Quinn tries, her voice breaking.
"No," Santana repeats. "I do understand. I understand and I need you to listen to this and to hear it before I lose my fucking nerve and never say it. I understand you better than anyone else at that fucking school. I understand how it feels to feel like no one sees you. You're not the only one hiding who you used to be Quinn. Did you know that Tony isn't my Dad?" she asks. Quinn shakes her head, stunned speechless. She had had no idea. "Yeah. He's my stepdad. Mom married him when I was ten. He's the only father I've ever known. My birth father died when I was two. For years, my mom worked two jobs just to put food on the table for me and my brothers. I don't go around claiming that I'm from Lima Heights Adjacent just to look tough. That's where we used to live. Do you know who I was in elementary school Quinn?" Quinn shakes her head, her hazel eyes wide as she processes the new information. "I was the token poor Hispanic kid. The kid who came to school every day, filthy dirty and starving because her mom got fired again after the white woman who stole cash from the register blamed her and no one even questioned it. I was the poor kid who wore the same dirty, holey sundress and broken sandals every single day. I was the kid who got in trouble for doing her math homework on the back of a takeout menu because her Mom couldn't afford a math book and for not doing the science project because we literally had nothing in the house that I could eat, let alone use for a science project. I was the kid who stole food from the cafeteria and other kids bags because I was just so hungry that it physically hurt. I was the kid that every teacher pitied and looked down on. I was a loser too Quinn. I got bullied too. They pushed me in the mud and told me that all I was good for and all I'd ever be good for was cleaning their toilets. I've been there Quinn," Santana says, her voice shaky. "And I've been here," she reaches over and runs the pad of her thumb over the cut on Quinn's left arm, before capturing Quinn's hand, pinching the blonde's thumb between her own thumb and forefinger and guiding it to run across a small raised scar on her wrist.
"How did you come back from this?" she asks softly.
"Someone saw me," Santana tells her. "Someone saw me and brought me back."
"Brittany," Quinn smiles.
"Brittany," Santana affirms, her own lips quirking up at mention of the bubbly blonde.
"How…" Quinn stutters, not knowing if it's ok to ask this. "How did he die?" She can see from the look on Santana's face that she wasn't expecting that. The Latina is silent for so long that Quinn thinks she's not going to answer. She opens her mouth to apologise, but Santana's voice floats through the darkness before she can make a sound.
"Heroin overdose," Santana's voice is tiny and so incredibly sad and it almost breaks Quinn's already fragile heart.
"I didn't really want to die," Quinn whispers. It comes out before she can stop it.
"I know," Santana replies.
"You saw me," Quinn whispers, turning her head to properly look at Santana for the first time, repeating the darker girl's words from back in the shower stall.
"I always saw you," Santana replies softly. "I'll always see you," she corrects after a beat.
"I'm sorry I never saw you," Quinn apologises, raising a hand to cup Santana's cheek.
"Quinn," Santana begins, her voice now hesitant. Quinn knows what's coming. "You know I…I can't just let this slide, right? I can't, I can't sit back and do nothing."
"I know," Quinn whispers. For the first time tonight she feels so incredibly ashamed of herself, of what she almost did.
"It's late," Santana tells her suddenly changing the subject. "Go back to sleep, Q. We can talk about this in the morning."
"Ok," Quinn agrees, thankful for the reprieve. She hesitates before shifting closer to Santana, reaching out blindly for a hand to hold. She's not usually cuddly in bed – or anywhere else for that matter – but tonight she just needs that contact to keep her grounded, tethered to the tiny slivers of hope that are slowly sneaking in through the darkness. Santana's hand twists within hers and Quinn lets go completely, only for Santana to link their pinkies and tug Quinn's hand closer, planting a kiss on the knuckles. Quinn's eyes flick to the brunette and she realises that Santana is trying to tell her something with that gesture. "What?" she asks, unable to figure it out. Santana smiles a little then closes her eyes, her face scrunching slightly, as if she's pulling something from memory. Her faces relaxes suddenly and then a soft voice speaks from the doorway behind Quinn.
"Whenever it all gets too much, and you need some reassurance but you don't feel like you can ask. Just do this," Brittany leans over and captures Quinn's other pinky, carefully wrapping her own pinky around it. "And we'll know. And you'll know we're here for you." Brittany lifts their joined hands and brushes a kiss over her knuckles and a sob wrenches itself from Quinn's throat as she realises that Santana has been taking care of Quinn the same way that Brittany must have taken care of her. "Honey I know it hurts, but it's going to get better. I promise," Brittany gently strokes Quinn's hair as Santana's head comes to rest on the sobbing girl's shoulder. Brittany's humming softly now and it's incredibly soothing, Quinn finds her sobs losing force as her eyelids begin to droop. As she drifts off to sleep she feels light all of a sudden, like a huge weight has been lifted off of her shoulders. She knows that getting past this will be a long, hard road, but lying here, wedged in Santana's bed between two girls she thought she had long since blown it with, she feels relieved that at least she won't have to travel it alone. She's vaguely aware of two sets of lips pressing gently against her temples and she feels so loved, so secure and taken care of. She falls asleep with a smile on her face. The first genuine smile she has smiled in months…