A/N: I'll be honest here: (a) I'm a med school student in the middle of rotations and I basically have zero time to do absolutely anything with my life (and yet here I am, churning out these chapters like a boss). (b) when I started writing this story, it all began with a scene two years from where it is now and went from there. I later realized that I should work backwards because I have to set some groundwork. I'm constantly writing snippets from this point and several points in the future. And it's incredibly dizzying to write from a high school student's point of view.
That being said, don't be surprised if my updates slow down drastically.
Two weeks pass and the cold war has started chipping away. Kind of. Quinn and her mom start speaking again after her mom's trip to Columbus, awkwardly acknowledging each other around the house. It's not much, but it's a start.
Quinn is looking at vegetables at the local grocery store when a shrilly voice calls out to her from behind. She turns and sees one of her mother's friends from work.
"Quinn, honey," The lady, whose name Quinn cannot remember to save her life, starts excitedly, rolling her cart to the girl. "Why, I haven't seen your pretty face in forever."
"I've been busy," Quinn responds with a smile. She's a pro at this. "How have you been? How is the mister?"
"Oh, you know how Mr. Johnson is," The lady trails off as Quinn mentally pats herself on the back for figuring out this lady's name.
"Ah yes, I do know how your husband is, Mrs. Johnson," She says with her 'society' voice. She laughs a little, facetiously checking her wristwatch. "I'm sorry, but I really have to get going."
"Oh don't let me keep you," Mrs. Johnson continues. "I just wanted to say hi and to let you know that we need a new intern in the office."
She winks at Quinn and she feels slightly disturbed. She doesn't exactly know if it's the prospect of interning at a real estate office or this lady's sad attempt at winking that does it.
"It'll be a good way to learn the ropes, don't you think so?" Mrs. Johnson asks her with a cheeky grin and Quinn feels her fake smile faltering for a split second.
"Of course," She responds. "I'll check with my mom."
"Please do, we'd love to have you Quinn," Mrs. Johnson half screams as she starts walking away. "You'd fit right in!"
Her mom mentions the internship when she gets home and Quinn nods, saying something along the lines of checking her schedule. Her mom mentions that if she does well enough, she could probably get a job with the firm directly after high school.
Quinn gets a sick feeling in her stomach but she ignores it.
"We're in luck," Rachel practically attacks her as she walks into the hospital a week after the grocery store encounter. "They have banana nut muffins in the cafeteria."
Quinn's been eating lunch with Rachel every day that she's volunteering. She's given up on the whole avoid Rachel as much as possible agenda. Rachel has eyes and ears everywhere. So she comes half an hour early every time, eating and working on the crossword puzzle with Rachel. Sometimes her dad joins them, helping out with some words they can' get on the puzzle. Quinn will never admit it to anyone even if she's held at gunpoint, but she actually enjoys their lunch breaks.
"Really? Good thing I didn't eat breakfast," Quinn mumbles, walking to the stairwell and readying herself for the lecture she knows is coming.
"Quinn! What did I say about skipping meals?" Rachel is aghast, following her into the cafeteria. Quinn rolls her eyes.
"That I shouldn't," She starts, picking up two trays for her and Rachel. She subconsciously points to the chicken fettuccine for herself and then points to the vegan macaroni and cheese for Rachel.
"And yet you keep doing it," Rachel continues ranting, grabbing a bottle of water and a bottle of vitamin water. "You know, if you keep this up—"
"I know, I know," Quinn mumbles, picking up two banana nut muffins and making her way to the cashier. She puts Rachel's tray behind her and Rachel puts the water on her own tray and plops Quinn's vitamin water down on her tray. "I'll develop a complication with my stomach. Like Ulcer."
"Precisely," Rachel agrees, fishing out her food voucher. "I'm going to have to get my dad to speak to you at this point."
They make their way out to the courtyard after paying. Rachel has the newspaper tucked under her arm and Quinn is trying very hard to tune out her lecture about proper nutrition. They're in the middle of their meal when Quinn speaks up.
"Should I intern at the real estate firm my mom works at?" She asks, immediately regretting it after. She doesn't really know why she said that. She normally talks about these things with Santana. Or Angie. Or even Sam. But never with Rachel.
She's expecting Rachel to whip out a powerpoint presentation on her iPhone. Or at least a pamphlet about planning your future. Instead, she gets a quiet Rachel, musing about the answer. Rachel tilts her head and looks at her.
"Do you want to?"
Quinn is a little taken aback. She's never really thought about that part. She's never really thought about the possibility of her having options.
"Oh," She manages to say after a beat. "I haven't really thought about it that way."
"How else would you think about it?" She asks, writing down a word on the crossword. "I mean, I know you were convinced that you'd be a real estate agent like your mom and Finn will take over Burt's garage or something and you'd be Lima's power couple, but ho—" Rachel freezes midsentence.
The only way this arrangement has worked for them is if they both pretended Finn didn't exist. He's never been mentioned before and Rachel is well aware of this.
Quinn purses her lips.
"I mean," Rachel starts but Quinn cuts her off.
"Actually, never mind that I said anything," Quinn says quietly, taking one last bite of her lunch. "I should get going."
"Quinn," Rachel calls out, watching the other girl pack up. She sighs when Quinn makes it clear that they're done for today.
"I think," Rachel continues and Quinn pretends to busy herself with packing up her lunch. "You are worth so much more than you give yourself credit for. You're more than just a pretty face Quinn."
"Thanks," Quinn mumbles awkwardly, not really up for belaboring the point. "I'll see you later."
She gets up and Rachel watches her leave.
Quinn takes her post at the GI lab and carefully reads over the earlier volunteer's notes. A lady immediately comes up to her.
"Do you have any news about Mr. Griffiths?" The lady asks, wringing her hands.
"The other volunteer didn't say anything, but I will double check for you, Mrs. Griffiths," Quinn responds with a small smile, picking up the phone next to her. She dials the number for the surgical unit and finds out that the patient is still in surgery. Mrs. Griffiths just nods quietly and goes back to her seat by the window.
Hours later, Quinn grabs a cup of coffee from the complimentary coffee table and notices that Mrs. Griffiths is still sitting in the same spot, anxiously wringing her hands. She's the only family member left in the waiting room. Quinn checks her list and sees that she's been here since her husband checked in, which was at 8 in the morning. That's almost ten hours ago.
She calls surgery again to get an update and all they tell her is that he's still in surgery. She stares at the list before getting up.
"Mrs. Griffiths?" She asks the lady as she approaches her.
"Yes?" The older lady looks at her, on the brink of tears and obviously doing everything to keep it together. She looks at Quinn expectantly and it breaks Quinn's heart to not have any updates for her.
"Would you like me to get you any food or anything to drink?" She offers. "Or maybe something to read?"
"No thank you dear," She responds. "I don't really need anything from the cafeteria."
She doesn't know what else to do at this point. She almost walks away but she doesn't.
"Would you like me to sit here with you?"
Mrs. Griffiths looks up at her like she's trying to comprehend what's happening. She smiles after a second.
"I would like that," She says quietly and Quinn sits down next to her. Quinn doesn't say anything. She just takes the older lady's hand and cradles it on her lap.
Two hours later, the surgeon emerges from the double doors. She makes her way over to Quinn and Mrs. Griffiths.
"Hi Mrs. Griffiths," the doctor greets her and gives her a hug. "Everything went well."
Mrs. Griffiths visibly relaxes and Quinn releases a breath she didn't even know she was holding.
"Thank you Dr. Shen," Mrs. Griffiths says with a smile on her face.
"We found another tumor we didn't see in any of the scans. That's why it took so long," Dr. Shen explains. "It's your husband's lucky day."
Mrs. Griffiths nods, finally crying. Dr. Shen gives her a small smile and looks at Quinn, whose hand is turning white as Mrs. Griffiths is clutching it for life.
"It's all going to be okay from here on out," Dr. Shen tells her, putting a hand around her arm. "We're going to make sure he gets back in tip top shape in no time. I'm glad you had great company with you while you waited."
"Oh, Quinn's been great," Mrs. Griffiths says between sniffles, smiling at Quinn, who feels her face color.
"Why don't you go and gather your things and we can walk on over to Mr. Griffiths' recovery room," Dr. Shen suggests and Mrs. Griffiths nods. She excuses herself and goes to the bathroom and Quinn is left with the doctor.
It's quite intimidating. This is the first time she's ever been alone with a doctor in the hospital, not counting Dr. Berry. But it's also amazing how much impact this woman in scrubs has on people's lives. Quinn knows from her charts that Dr. Shen has been working a 28 hour shift and she can only marvel quietly.
"Thank you so much Quinn," Dr. Shen starts, addressing her by her name.
"Oh, no," Quinn says quietly. "I did nothing. You fixed it all."
Dr. Shen shakes her head.
"We're a team," She says with a smile. "And in the end, you and I are doing the same thing."
Quinn looks at her, not really following what she is saying. Dr. Shen looks at Mrs. Griffiths emerging from the bathroom and waves. She turns to Quinn again.
"Medicine is just service and compassion coupled with science. That's all there is to it."
"Theoretically speaking, if I were to do something other than real estate, what would work?" Quinn asks as she catches up to Rachel, who just got into an empty elevator. Rachel holds on to the door open button and looks at her with a sincere smile.
"Quinn," She starts. "You can do anything."
She doesn't know what it is, but she believes that Rachel Berry isn't kidding.
"Okay," She whispers. She cracks a smile after a second. "You think they'll have banana nut muffins again on Thursday?"
"I guess we'll have to wait and see," She responds with a shrug. Her eyes wander off to the clock behind them.
"I should probably stop blocking this elevator," Quinn says as she moves away.
"I'd love to stay and chat, but I hate to meet with," Rachel hesitates. "With people."
"With Finn, who is your boyfriend," Quinn corrects her, smiling slightly to let her know it's okay.
Rachel nods after a moment of shock.
"Yes, with Finn."
"I'll see you later then," Quinn says with a wave.
There's a ding from the elevator and Quinn says something again.
Rachel smiles at her.
It isn't until a week later that Quinn finally entertains the idea of becoming someone else other than her mother.
"You know, I've tried it before. And I hate to break it to you, but staring at the TV and willing it to turn on won't work," Santana says lazily, flipping through the pages of a magazine.
"Would you laugh at me if I told you that I wanted to be a doctor?" Quinn asks suddenly, not looking away from the screen. She doesn't see it but Santana makes a disbelieving face next to her.
"Why would I laugh? You're like, the smartest person I know," She says simply, flipping to the celebrity gossip section of the magazine. "Next to me, of course."
Quinn looks at her, a little surprised that Santana didn't burst out laughing at her admission.
"What kind of doctor do you wanna be?"
Quinn bites her lip. She hasn't really thought about that part yet.
"Um, I don't really know."
"Well," Santana starts without looking up. "You should consider plastic surgery or dermatology, and then give me awesome discounts when we're old and wrinkly."