My first Glee fic ever. Let me know what you think!

Quinn has been sneaking into the auditorium at night. She gives the janitor a pack of cigarettes a week in exchange for him keeping the side door unlocked; a perfect arrangement, because she hates those damn cigarettes, but if she wasn't constantly buying new ones, the Skanks would get suspicious.

She's always quiet as she steps up to the stage, even though she knows there's no one there to hear her, but she likes the silence all the same. The only sound she wants is the shy tinkling of the piano keys once she takes a seat on the bench and lets her fingers wander through whatever melody is stuck in her head that night.

As she plays, she can see the reflection of her hair against the flawless shine of the grand. Sometimes she tries to picture her old hair color, that classic blonde that everyone always thought looked so gorgeous, downright angelic even, but then she remembers the cheerleading and the manipulating and sleeping with Puck and being pregnant and everything else that came with that version of her, and her eyes focus on the pink again and she feels relieved.

Relieved because since she traded in the red-and-white spandex for ripped black t-shirts and got her nose pierced and dyed her hair, nobody has been talking about her pregnancy or her failed relationships or how much of a loser she is for being in glee club. Now they gossip about this new look of hers, and how she only goes to half of her classes, and how she smokes under the bleachers with the most feared group of girls at school.

She's changed the conversation, and that's all that matters.

Tonight she's practicing the intro to a song she's been listening to a lot recently. It's one of the saddest songs she's ever heard, but the music is beautiful and somehow, the melody just fits right now. She plays it over and over again, slowly, so she gets it right, and begins to lose herself in it. She doesn't sing—she never does—because just hearing herself play it is all she needs. She doesn't need to sing, she doesn't need her friends who aren't really her friends, and she doesn't need glee club.

When Quinn hears a door open, she stops abruptly and darts backstage. She hides in the shadows as the memory of the last note she played hangs in the air, a faint echo that she hopes goes unnoticed by whoever is intruding on her session.

Her stomach drops when she sees Rachel Berry walking up the middle aisle. It's been a week since Rachel found her to try and convince her to return to Glee, a week of avoiding the girl by any means necessary. And now Rachel is here, walking toward the stage with a soft and yet determined look in her eyes, and Quinn is not ready for this.

Her mind scrambles to come up with something to say, snarky responses to whatever Rachel might ask her, because she needs to be prepared. Rachel is the only person on the planet who can yank off Quinn's façade like it's a poorly-made Halloween mask. Quinn hates that. She hates how much Rachel seems to care about her. She hates it so much that she can barely hold back a smile whenever she looks up at her with those big brown eyes and speaks to her with that impossibly gentle voice.

She watches Rachel step up onto the stage and sit in front of the piano. She watches her arrange her fingertips against the keys, take a deep breath, and let it out slowly.

Rachel begins to play. The chords sound familiar but she can't quite place them, and she finds herself almost frustrated by this. But then Rachel begins to sing, and Quinn's heart nearly stops.

You're so mean when you talk
About yourself, you were wrong
Change the voices in your head
Make them like you instead

Quinn's heard this song before, but never this way. Rachel's voice is soft, almost delicate, and she's slowed the tempo, just like Quinn had been doing with her song.

So complicated
Look happy, you'll make it
Filled with so much hatred
Such a tired game
That's enough
I've done all I could think of
Chased down all my demons
I've seen you do the same

Her breathing is ragged. She can feel tears behind her eyes. Her hands are trembling; she crosses her arms and tries to ignore it.

Pretty, pretty please
Don't you ever, ever feel
Like you're less than, less than perfect
Pretty, pretty please
If you ever, ever feel
Like you're nothing
You are perfect to me

Rachel stops there, letting the final chord float off into the distance. She rises from the piano and turns toward the shadows, her eyes almost reaching where Quinn is standing, but they stop just short. The corner of her mouth lifts into the smallest of smiles and she promptly exits the auditorium, leaving Quinn to try and figure out what the hell just happened.

Songs used:

"Breathe Me" by Sia (what Quinn is playing on the piano)
"Perfect" by P!nk