Chapter 6: Focus
Quinn decided that she hated Wednesdays. Or, as a matter of fact, any day of the week that she had to spend any amount of time with any amount of people. She blamed it on the telepathy, though Santana would snarl at anyone who cared to listen that Quinn had been a closeted introvert long before super powers were even an issue.
She sighed as she looked around the bustling cafeteria. Quinn hated having to build her mental defenses every time she entered a room, and she hated having to (unsuccessfully for the most part) tune out the disgusting thoughts of her peers. But what she absolutely hated the most was that these problems—these defenses that she had to build long before her manifestation—were nothing new. That was actually the purpose for her drastic change over the summer. She needed freedom from judgment; the stares of adoration and fear; the stares of disdain during her pregnancy. She needed change.
She needed not to care anymore. But she also needed to be in control. That part of her could never—would never — change.
Yet this ability —she shot a glare at the blonde boy sitting nervously beside her—was taking away her control. It made her unbelievably irritable, which made her intolerable to most of the student body.
Sam had told her that she needed a focus. Someone that was interesting enough to keep her attention.
"The thoughts…the sounds…t-the headaches. It all gets really overwhelming, I get it."
"So, how do you deal with it?"
Sam had only shrugged his shoulders noncommittally .
Quinn remembered reaching out and tightening her fist around his shirt collar so that she could drag him down to eye level during their 'conversation' that day in the nurse's office. "Tell me how to fix it."
Sam's eyes had widened in surprise."You need to use someone as a focus! S-someone that thinks loudly enough to keep you from hearing everyone else's thoughts, b-but familiar enough that you can also tune them out."
"I'm going to need a lot more than that, Sam Evans."
He shook his head in the negative and could only gulp at her demand.
"Understand this, Sam," She spat out his name as if it were poison. "It's only your first day of school here, so I'm going to grant you an explanation of how things work. You know my friend Santana? The one who nearly made you wet yourself and brought you here? She's the current Head Bitch In Charge—and she is someone that you should fear, trust me. But never forget that I am, and always will be, number one, and I can still make your life a living hell with a snap of my fingers. Even without the Cheerios uniform. Got it?"
He had the nerve to scoff at that information. But it was all false bravado. Quinn knew Sam had already heard numerous stories of her former reign of terror over McKinley High, she was sure of it.
Even though Quinn was a good six inches shorter than the boy, and nearly about half his weight, she had the strength to toss him into a nearby chair and nearly straddle him in dominance. All the while the grip on his shirt remained. Her headache that day had come back in full force after Rachel and Santana had left the office, so she was a bit on the pissed off side.
"You're absolutely useless." She hissed before he stuttered out his response. "And you have absolutely no idea what I'm capable of."
Quinn growled as she shook him harshly within her grip. His stuttering was making her rather impatient.
"I'll have to show you!" She tried not to smirk when she heard his voice crack at an embarrassingly high pitch. She had secretly missed this kind of power; the fear that she could bring to her peers. "It's not something that can be explained easily. B-but we have to practice in a crowd. It's no good if we just do it by ourselves. Just…scope out potentials of people who can keep you interested."
Quinn remembered releasing her hold with a push and smirked as Sam attempted to readjust his bearings. "Fine."
She was currently perched on top of a cafeteria table during lunch, her legs crossed elegantly at the ankles and resting on the lower bench while her hands occupied themselves by tossing a bright red apple back and forth.
"So, what exactly am I looking for?"
Sam, beside her, only continued to munch unhappily on his protein bar. This was absolutely the last place that he wanted to be at the moment, scoping out a potential focus for Quinn during his valuable lunch (socializing) time, but he couldn't help but to feel a bit privileged. Based on the appreciative stares of various girls and the nods of awe and respect (…and some explicit thoughts of praise) from various guys, sitting alone with Quinn was apparently a big deal.
He heard a jingle of jewelry, then felt a sharp poke against his ribs. He looked up to see flashing hazel eyes. Quinn was not amused.
Sam sighed and balled his now empty wrapper. "Look, I already told you before that you needed to find someone familiar and interesting. Someone that's easy to tune into and easy to tune out."
"How do you even—" Quinn exhaled a breath and softened her tone. "How do you live with something like this…permanently? How can you ever concentrate on anything else?"
Sam shrugged his shoulders. "I was just built for it I guess." He let out a small laugh. "I had help though. A friend, she—they helped me quite a bit over the summer, actually. T-to help with the control."
Quinn narrowed her eyes at Sam's slip up, but didn't question it. He continued, "But tell me something. Do you cringe every time you notice the hum of your refrigerator at home?"
Quinn shook her head in the negative.
"What about a ticks of an analog clock? The hum of your laptop hard drive? What about the spoken conversations going on in this very room? Do you actively seek out to listen those things?"
Quinn raised an eyebrow. "What is your point?"
"It's because you're focused on me—on our conversation, isn't it? What about everyone's thoughts? Everything else becomes background noise."
Quinn stared blankly ahead of her as she mentally rewound the last view minutes of their conversation. Other than a few loud outbursts that were easily dismissed, she hadn't noticed a thing. And her headache had decreased to a less than noticeable level.
"The best way I can explain it is this," Sam continued. "Finding a focus is kind of like tuning and setting radio stations in your car. Can you have more than one station? Sure, but they're going to be radio stations that you actually want to hear. And even though you're jamming out to your favorite song, your main concentration will always be on the road."
Quinn nodded her head absently, absorbing the information.
"It's not rocket science."He grabbed his water bottle, took a small sip, and waved absently towards the cheerleaders table in the center of the cafeteria. "Anyway, what about Santana? You're friends. You're around her often enough. And she seems…interesting."
'And scary as hell.' He thought gruffly.
Quinn ignored his thought with a grimace and took a slow bite into her apple. Though it would be rather convenient to have Santana as one of her foci, she could already see the girl purposely thinking lewd or scathing thoughts just to get under Quinn's skin. Her headaches would most certainly not improve in that situation. Quinn huffed noncommittally and continued to eat her apple.
"I'll take that as a no." Sam continued to scan area. "You're in glee club right?" He nodded to the table at the far left edge. "Any of them catch your interest?"
Quinn took in the sight of her fellow glee club members. Tina and Mike cuddled at the end of the bench. Mercedes and Kurt talking excitedly over their upturned cell phones. Finn and Artie taking turns tossing grapes into each other's mouths. Lauren jokingly (she hoped) roughhousing with Puck. And Rachel…
Even though Rachel was sitting in the center of the group, she didn't seem to be involved in the their socialization. Quinn knew Rachel to be extremely vocal and she thrived at being the center of attention, but today she was uncharacteristically tame. She seemed rather distracted, scribbling away in a notebook and looking up every few minutes to inject a word or two into Kurt and Mercedes conversation, and even shaking her head jokingly every once in a while at Finn and Artie's silly displays.
But then Rachel suddenly sat up a bit straighter, as if she knew she was being watched. She quickly glanced around the cafeteria, and then her eyes suddenly drifted to Quinn's.
'Why is Quinn—' She watched as Rachel tilted her head curiously before—and Quinn had no idea why shenoticed this—tucking a long strand of meticulously curled brown hair behind her ear. 'Why is she looking at me like that?'
Quinn, startled by Rachel's thought, chanced a glance at Sam, but he seemed blissfully unaware of what had just occurred. Rachel's thought must have blended as background noise for him, but Quinn had heard it loud and clear.
Quinn didn't respond to Sam right away. Instead, she took a rather forceful bite of her apple. Her eyes drifted back to Rachel against her will, but Rachel was once again scribbling furiously into her notebook. It was as if she had not just caught Quinn staring curiously in her direction just moments before.
The gymnasium after lunch was in utter chaos.
"Elemental and Environmental Manipulation supers to the upper right corner!"
"Psychic supers to the upper left!"
"Shape Shifters, dead center!"
"Physical Enhancement supers, lower left!" Mr. Jenson and the other faculty supervisors for Super-Natural Physiology and Training were bellowing at the top of their lungs, attempting to organize the students into working groups based on power type; five groups, to be exact.
"Transportation, Travel, and Flight based supers, lower right! That includes you Mr. Adams!" Mr. Jenson shouted to Azimio, who was currently attempting to escape today's lesson by phasing through a wall next to the bleachers.
Quinn, standing in a small group consisting of Santana, Puck, and Mike (with Sam, petulantly scuffing his shoes behind them, largely ignored), rolled her eyes at Azimio's antics. She knew this class was going to be the bane of her existence from day one.
"I guess I'm heading to the Elemental's." Santana wandered away with a shrug of shoulders. Quinn watched her best friend go with a bit of jealousy and maybe still a bit of disdain from her antics the day before.
"What about you, Puckerman?" She spoke to mohawked boy without looking at him.
"I'm stuck with the nerds I guess. Telekinesis is psychic right? " Puck jogged towards the upper left corner of the gym before she could answer. Sam moved to follow him, but Quinn grabbed him by the scruff of his neck before he could get past her. He shot her a glare.
'We still have things to discuss. Another time.' Was her only warning, before releasing him. She smirked as he stepped shakily towards the rest of psychics.
Mike had already darted to the other side of the room with the other Physical Enhancement supers before Quinn could ask which group he belonged to. That left Quinn by herself for the most part. She didn't have a clue as to what her power type was, and judging by the looks on most of her classmates faces, she wasn't the only one. Should she join a group based on the power she was currently housing? Or should she join based on her root ability—
"I have no idea where I belong. I shouldn't even be here." A dejected mousy looking girl to her left sounded.
Quinn raised an eyebrow, curious as to why the girl felt that way, but mostly surprised (and silently impressed) that the girl was brave enough to speak to her in the first place. "What's your power?"
Mousy-girl sighed and shrugged her shoulders. "All I do is change color…"
The mimic blinked. "Ah. Camouflage?"
"Nope. Just—" Mousy-girl sighed again. "Just primary colors. Red, blue, yellow…and sometimes green on a sick day..."
Quinn could only watch the girl as she trailed off, simply because she had nothing to say. She agreed wholeheartedly that it was quite an unfortunate and useless ability.
'And on that matter…' Quinn took a large step to her right, unwilling to take the risk of accidently mimicking that power if her telepathy suddenly decided to cease.
"Quinn?" Mrs. Pillsbury softly voiced her name. "You look a bit confused. Are you not sure where to go?"
Quinn shrugged her shoulders and mentally scoffed. Like she was going to admit out loud that she was anything but sure of herself.
"Well, let's see…" She watched as the campus counselor scanned the room in attempt to place her.
"Mimicry, correct Ms. Fabray?" Mr. Jenson voiced literally out of nowhere, startling Ms. Pillsbury and causing Quinn to tense in alarm.
Mr. Jenson was a tall, older gentlemen; most likely in his later fifties. His voice was warm, yet sturdy and strong. A voice that reminded her of cold holiday nights in front of a blazing fireplace. Her shoulders instantly drooped in relaxation. "If you happened to be paying attention on the first day, you would know that I am a Sensor. I can sense a person's abilities physically or by close vicinity and gain an understanding of their growth potential."
Quinn nodded the affirmative. His hands reached out to cradle her head within his large palms before immediately putting them back at his sides. "I apologize. May I?" He motioned to her forehead. "I can get a better understanding of your powers through physical connection."
Quinn looked towards Ms. Pillsbury to confirm. Only when the woman nodded her head did Quinn give him permission to do so.
His hands gently cupped the sides of her face and she found herself suddenly…grounded, relaxed and unweighted, all at the same time.
Mr. Jenson hummed as if he found something that he was searching for. "I find your ability to be extraordinarily fascinating. After all, you are quite a rare type. There's only two other mimics in the United States that we know of, actually." The teacher closed his eyes in concentration as he continued to rattle off facts. "Did you know that for a human to even take on such an ability, you must have the mind for it? Analytical by nature…malleable. Your very being has been finely groomed to take on such grueling tasks. This applies to all super-naturals. Every single one of you were built to withstand and house your own abilities."
Quinn giggled lightly. It looked like Sam wasn't too far off with his "built for this" comment earlier.
"Any human, super or not, would have been driven insane with the constant changes to your state of mind and DNA structure."
Quinn huffed out a humorless laugh and murmured, "I think I am going insane."
Mr. Jenson laughed as well. "It's overwhelming I'm sure. But it's nothing that you can't handle. I assure you."
Quinn watched as he crinkled his eyebrows.
"A Telepathy ability is currently activated, yes?"
"Yes." She confirmed.
"Hm. And it seems you have several other abilities in your repertoire that are inactive. Other powers that you've previously analyzed, I assume?"
Quinn's eyes widened at this information. This was most certainly news to her. She had always thought that those abilities had—well—disappeared. She had been unsuccessful in reactivating Santana's Ice Manipulation powers since their time in New York for Nationals. She had not been able to reacquire them from her either."What—I mean, they're still there?"
Mr. Jenson let out a hearty chuckle at her suggestion before letting go of her face. "What did you think—that they just vanished? Dear Quinn, you must give your superb mind much more credit!" He sent a wave out towards the floor of gymnasium. "It seems as though you are a Psychic type. Though I was most certain you would fit right in with the Physical Enhancement group…" He murmured the last sentence under his breath.
Quinn inhaled to ask the many questions that filled her mind, but Mr. Jenson cut her off by gently ushering her towards her group. "Now, now, Fabray. Time does not stand stationary, and neither should we. On we go!"
Quinn wandered over to the Psychic group in a daze, blatantly ignoring Puckerman's obnoxious attempt at a fist bump and Sam's huff of disappointment.
"Take a look around, class! These will be your teammates for the next few months."
Quinn heard the announcement, and vaguely listened as Mr. Jenson continued to prattle on about the importance of understanding their power type, but didn't pay much attention to it. Her mind was still buzzing with questions and new found discoveries.
She would have to ask these questions to him later, it seemed.
The end of a rather enlightening Super Natural Physiology class marked the beginning of Quinn's much less informative Calculus hour.
It was one of three classes that she so happened to share with Rachel Berry.
The same Rachel Berry that had just apparently failed a pop quiz.
'How on earth could that vile woman fail me on a surprise pre-quiz quiz on derivation? It's only the third day of school! I will not accept anything less than excellence.'
Quinn sat with her elbow propped onto the desk, thoroughly amused by Rachel's frustrations. She was entirely too dramatic.
'This is absolutely ridiculous! No one could have possibly passed…' Quinn watched as Rachel attempted to peek at her own test through her peripheral, so she decided to fake a stretch, putting her bright red and circled 'B+' in Rachel's direct line of sight.
'Damn it!' God, Rachel must have really hated Calculus.
"Language, Berry. Who knew you were such a potty mouth at heart?"
As for Quinn, she absolutely loved it. Partially—very partially—due to the fact that she just officially found her new focus for this class.
Rachel huffed and petulantly crossed her arms. "I thought I told you to stay out of my head, Quinn."
Quinn lifted an eyebrow with a smirk. She knew Rachel absolutely loathed when she did that.
'I loathe when she does that.'
Quinn's other eyebrow rose to meet its twin, but her smirk widened. Santana was really rubbing off on her.
'One day I'm going to shave off that stupid, perfect, eyebrow in your sleep. Let's see who's smirking then.'
"If you even think about trying that, Berry..."
Rachel growled in frustration before stuffing the pre-quiz quiz haphazardly into her backpack. Quinn furrowed her eyebrows slightly at this. The growl sounded—well—unnervingly realistic, but that thought was quickly dismissed the moment Rachel began to mentally ramble again.
Quinn unconsciously licked her lips and sat back with a smile on her face. Even though Rachel's thought process was certainly entertaining, Quinn did have an ulterior motive for her actions.
Rachel was hiding something.
Quinn did not forget about her confrontation with Rachel in the library, nor the continuation of that in the hallway. She couldn't ever recall Rachel skipping out on glee practice for anything other than severe illnesses, and just the thought of her having a social life outside of school was—It was Rachel Berry. Kind of laughable. Like her animal print sweaters.
'Two more days. Just two more days…' Rachel mentally chanted with her eyes closed.
Quinn frowned at this. Rachel did say that the reason why she couldn't attend the Friday glee meeting was because she had a prior engagement. Not to mention that she let it slip that she would be gone for the entire weekend. "What's in two more days, Berry?" Rachel stiffened at Quinn's murmured inquiry. "Because it's most certainly not glee club. You're ditching us."
Rachel's thoughts went eerily silent.
"Still in a secretive mood, I see."
The singer shot a glare in Quinn's direction, but said nothing to refute the statement. She pointedly ignored Quinn for the rest of the period. Rachel had secrets, but Quinn was patient. She was a hunter, and Rachel's cautious demeanor made her the perfect prey. She had always been an extremely curious person and exceptionally observant by nature. Add that to her recent acquirement of Telepathy and that meant that no one could withhold information from her for long.
'I need to be more careful.' Rachel's thought echoed. It sounded low and incredibly distant, even though she was sitting just a few feet away.
Quinn tilted her head at the unfamiliarity of it. She surmised that she wouldn't have normally heard that if she hadn't of—using Sam's ridiculous radio analogy—"tuned" herself into Rachel's thoughts. She filed this information away to ask the boy later. She smirked slightly to herself.
Yes, Rachel was most certainly hiding something.
And what better way to find out the secrets inside Rachel's tiny little head other than to be inside of her head.