Disclaimer: I don't own Glee. Like at all. Surprise, surprise. Original characters though? All mine. Except, you know, when they're not.
Chapter 1: Stand Out
"We're on in five minutes." The production assistant murmured to Quinn Fabray as he adjusted the microphone pinned to her shirt. "Are you ready?" Quinn nodded wordlessly, not even bothering to glance at the boy standing before her. His thoughts were a jumble of nervous chirps and sexual frustration. His hands were shaking and his breath pierced her personal space in steady pants.
She felt a twinge of pain just behind her eyes out of both irritation and the familiar thrum of power activating against her will. She didn't need to see her own reflection to know that her hazel eyes shifted to a golden brown.
Hiding the shudder in her spine, she rolled her shoulders and unconsciously fluffed her newly cut hair. The weight of what she was about to do hardly registered as she idly watched the two local newscasters bicker; a normal routine—according to Rod Remington's thoughts—that he apparently found to be quite stimulating.
Quinn wrinkled her nose in disgust.
God, she hated telepathy.
"I think I preferred the long hair, Q." Quinn's gaze snapped towards the source of the voice—a real voice—just a few feet away from her, a smirking brunette sitting in a thigh-length dress Quinn thought was just a few sizes too small, and a faux fur vest. "The 'Flower Child' cut makes it seem like you're trying too hard, you know?"
"And the toddler-sized dress seemed like you're the one trying too hard, Santana. The hair cut was your idea, wasn't it?" Quinn snapped, knowing that Santana was only trying to pick a fight.
"Whatever." Santana bit back, but her smirk did not dissipate. Instead, it widened to Cheshire Cat proportions when she focused on another production assistant in front of her; a leggy blonde with wide blue eyes, and milky smooth skin.
Quinn adjusted herself in her seat and sighed when her best friend's eyes glazed over; her overzealous thoughts were literally pouring out of her in waves. Thoughts so strong that Quinn just happened to hear them—no, see them—quite vividly.
Santana's smirk faltered as she noticed the change in Quinn's eye color, but only barely. "Are you liking the visuals, Q?"
"Not particularly, no." She pinched the bridge of her nose as her eyes faded to their natural color. "At least try to keep your thoughts clean when I'm around?"
"Consider it a perk of being a telepath."
"A temporary telepath, and far from a perk." Quinn quickly corrected, hoping that she was right in her assessment. Her Mimicry abilities only just manifested a few months ago, right before the American Super-Natural Alliance initiated their Big Reveal to the US government. She only had a short amount of time to get in tune with her abilities, particularly in comparison to Santana, who manifested and mastered her icy abilities at an unusually young age.
Quinn knew it seemed like it would be a great ability to know what everyone was thinking, but after just a week of unfiltered and unadulterated thoughts circling through her conscious, she was more than ready to move on. Some thoughts were vile, some were cruel, and others puzzled Quinn just enough to want to dig for more. But she also believed that a person's private thoughts should remain just that—private. She held more than enough secrets in her lifetime to respect discretion. Though the lack of control of this particular ability was beginning to bleed the lines of her already murky morals.
And it was fluke how she got the ability, really.
A fluke by the name of the newest Lima Bean Coffee barista, Sam Evans—she remembered him stuttering out his name while taking her order. He was unregistered with the ASNA Ohio Division, that much she was certain. Otherwise, Quinn would have avoided that coffee shop like the plague.
All she wanted was a free drink; it wouldn't be the first time she used her looks to get what she wanted. After all, a flirtatious wink, a tentative lip bite, and a shy half smile had gotten her much more than a simple latte. But the boy with the awful blond dye job was surprisingly dense, so she had to step up from her usual effortless flirtation tactics and move on to a more physical approach.
She remembered stroking a delicate finger slowly over the length of his arm over the countertop, and she felt his body tense. Her face split into a smirk, until she felt it; the telltale sign that her powers had activated against her will.
Her hazel eyes—shifting to an unnatural golden hue—automatically snapped to the boy's green ones.
Sam was either a weak 'super' or hadn't fully developed his abilities yet, hence why she didn't sense him the moment she walked through the door.
Her breath hitched in reflex as she felt her body begin to subtly shift to accommodate the new ability. A slow squeeze began at the base of her neck, and worked its way up to the crown of her head. Her eyebrows pinched when she felt an unfamiliar pressure build behind her eyes.
Then came the headache.
It was at that moment that she fully realized just what she had acquired, and it took Santana and three other brave customers to keep her from launching at the boy over the cash register.
"I don't envy you." Santana's sentence faded as she finally shifted her attention fully to Quinn and observed her hair. "But the hair does looks good, especially because—you know—it was my idea and all."
"I'm not done with it yet." Quinn didn't need to look in Santana's direction to know that she shot her an incredulous glance.
"You're about two haircuts away from Ellen DeGeneres, Q. What else can you do?"
"I don't know. Ever since Finn, Nationals, and—and Beth—"
Quinn's normally rigid demeanor deflated. Slightly.
Slightly, as in microscopically.
But Quinn knew that Santana's keen eyes caught the gesture—and maybe also a silver glint on her nose, but Santana would later admit that she thought her newly added nose-ring was a trick of the light—so Santana decided to redirect by adding, "And getting thrown out of the 'super-natural' closet by ASNA."
Quinn's spine straightened back instantly. "ASNA." The abbreviation of the organization that turned the world on its axis came out closer to a growl than her normal speaking voice.
"Fucking ASNA." Apparently, Santana shared the same sentiment.
It was also the reason they were both here in the local news studio for an interview, representing the first of many openly super-natural students of William McKinley High School. Their summer vacation was just beginning when they were both contacted by their local ASNA representative and 'encouraged' to speak to the public about their abilities.
"It will soften the public's views and ease the apprehension against those of us that have super natural abilities," Were the representative's exact words. "Tension has been high since the announcement of our existence. My job is to prepare you for any questions that might be asked in regards to it."
"Why us though?" Quinn questioned as Santana picked disinterestedly at her fingernails. Even though Quinn already made up her mind to do the interview, she was still curious about the reason they were chosen to do it. "There are probably a hundred other students you could have asked."
"The two of you are already quite well known throughout Lima; the captain and co-captain of a three-time Regional and National winning cheerleading squad, Regional show choir championship awards, outstanding academic records, community service projects—"
Quinn felt her chest swell with pride, but Santana interrupted before the representative could continue."Only because we were forced to by our crazy-ass coach."
"Regardless," The representative continued, wincing at Santana's vulgarity. "The both of you represent outstanding citizenship, and would increase goodwill within the community. We're also seeking to increase acceptability within your local school."
Quinn remembered sharing silent dialogue with Santana before shrugging in agreement. ASNA has always been strategic when it came to public relations involving super-naturals.
The boost in their popularity—which was already quite high—would not hurt either.
"I think the real question here is," Santana smirked. "Are we getting paid for this gig?"
The girls settled into a comfortable silence, watching various studio staff members as they continued to set up equipment to ensure a smooth broadcast.
Quinn was the first to break the silence. "School. What do you think it's going to be like now that us 'supers'—" She purposefully used air-quotes, as it was the unofficial nickname given to those with super natural abilities. "—have come out of hiding?"
Santana sighed loudly, watching in amusement as her breath crystallized mid-air before dissipating into a fog. "At McKinley? That school isn't going to change one bit. The idiots there are going to be just as close-minded as they always were."
"So what's your plan for senior year?"
Santana laughed. "To be at the top of the pyramid, like always."
"You were never on top. I was."
"Details." Santana waved off the comment, unaffected. "I let you think you were."
Quinn did not respond. She wasn't going to argue against someone who was clearly delusional, friend or not. But she also knew that Santana's claims of being on top would come to fruition soon; Quinn had decided months ago that she was quitting the Cheerios.
She needed the change.
"We're on in 10, 9, 8—" The news producer's voice rang throughout the studio as the familiar jingle of KOHN Channel 8 News began to play. The girls could barely conceal their nervous glances at each other as Rod Remington and Andrea Carmichael introduced themselves to Lima, Ohio.
"Anyway," Quinn whispered as the lights began to dim. "You know what I was saying about my hair? Change is good, and I feel like I should do more." She fingered the ends of her hair. "I'm thinking…hot pink."
Santana's mouth flopped wordlessly as Quinn's face stretched into an award-winning grin the moment the camera swiveled in their direction.
Rachel Barbra Berry liked to think of herself as an extremely unique and motivated individual.
Her greatest goal in life was to stand out, after all.
Her future was meticulously planned and listed down to the very minute—no —the very second of every day. Her final year, her senior year of high school was the most important to her preparation of inevitable success.
Since she slotted her freshman year to build up her resume with extensive club participation, the plan consisted of joining the Glee club her sophomore year (exactly as noted in Chapter 2: Sophomore Year, Section 4-1 of Rachel Berry's 10-year Path to Stardom), and eventually she would lead the club to certain victory. Senior year was only meant to be her celebratory lap as she maintained her GPA, and applied to every performing arts school in New York City.
She needed to get out of Lima, Ohio. Staying was not an option.
And everything was working out almost exactly to plan.
Almost—Until the American Super-Natural Alliance came out and ruined everything.
The not-so-secretive organization had definitely topped her list of Ultimate Life Ruiners, though Will Schuster was still at a close second.
Of all the things in the world that could have happened; a Zombie Apocalypse, an Alien Invasion, The newly discovered existence of sexy gentlemanly Southern Vampires…
Even discovering the true existence of The Matrix for goodness sake!
Of all things, why did it have to be super-naturals?
Waking up one morning only to discover that 5 percent of the US population had manifested super powers within the past 10 years? Preposterous.
It was a fact; Rachel Berry was not part of the small, yet significant, super powered population.
She watched Quinn Fabray's unrealistically perfect features on the local news over the summer, along with Santana Lopez, as they came forward as one of the first of many McKinley High super-natural students.
And now, the first morning of her senior year in high school, the ultimate stepping stone to her path of Broadway glory, Rachel Barbra Berry realized that…
That she was no longer special.
At this point in time she was far from unique.
Her perfect pitch and near limitless range would be overshadowed by people who could truly defy gravity. That thought alone gave her the overwhelming urge to curl into a fetal position and cry for the rest of her senior year.
But Rachel was a Berry, and Berry's did not cry. For the most part. Except for that one time when her Daddy cried when he lost the takeout menu to his favorite Thai food restaurant. Or that other time when her Dad locked himself out of the car and cried for an hour before her Daddy could leave the office to bring him a spare key. Not to mention the numerous times that she had cried during an over emotional song (which is perfectly acceptable, since it takes only an amazing actress to reach into the depths of her soul to output such emotions into a song).
Okay, so sometimes Berry's did cry.
But Berry's most certainly did not curl into fetal positions of any sort. Berry's kept their head high, despite any obstacles thrown their way.
She would show everyone that her talent far exceeded any genetic mutation. She would show everyone that she didn't need to shoot lasers from her eyes in order to be special.
That was what Rachel Berry told herself as she determinedly walked through the front doors of McKinley high.