Disclaimer: Okay so I don't own any Glee characters, that's a given.
Author's Note: This is a continuation to A Campaign of Shock and Awe. It's been a while, huh? I won't bore anyone with the details as to why unless asked. I promise it's nothing interesting. I did genuinely lose interest in this story and the characters because I didn't personally feel like I had anything left to say. I felt like I was being redundant. The good news is that I feel like that has changed. I've found my own voice with which to speak with and that means I can commit to writing again.
So thank you, Readers—Silent and vocal who have read and re-read.
There are moments, moments that come in greater frequency, where she wonders who she would be if she had stayed in Lima, Ohio. She imagines that she might sale insurance or homes, because she has a pretty face and she has enough common sense to pursue opportunities as they arise. She also imagines that she would be married with at least one child already in day care. Though, she never imagines herself as a mother, not in the true sense of the word. Intellectually, she knows that she is technically already one, but there still exists a vivid disconnection within her between the act of giving birth and the commitment of being a parent.
She imagines this distant fictional life and she can't help but wonder if she would have ever found happiness in it. Then, she wonders if she has found happiness in the life she is currently living, because she is unsure of how happiness should manifest itself in her adult life. The only happiness she can connect to exist in the memories she has of her childhood. It lives in the time before she gained a greater understanding of the world outside of the environment her parents had created for her, and it is immature and naïve.
So she is stuck wondering how to measure this life she has built and is still building. She is unsure of the boundaries and is constantly teetering between polar opposites. She lives never feeling settled despite the successes she can tick off like notches made on the belt for an ever expanding waistline. The secret to her success has always been that she's chasing down the stranger in the mirror just trying to find out where it is she fits in a world she always felt was a little anachronistic to her person.
Yet, despite the margins she never quite fit in, there is one thing she knows as fact—she knows she is meant to love Rachel Berry. She was built for it like the mountain was built to defy the will of gravity. She is made to withstand its forces and she is meant to stand strong. For her wife, she believes she can always be strong even when she feels like she is hurling towards the ground in a freefall.
Her love has turned into her one constant. It is her one truth.
That is why she feels all the more broken that she is now questioning her love. She is questioning her constant, and she can't even point out exactly what caused her to question it in the first place. It's not like she woke up and could declare that she has fallen out of love, because that is far from the truth.
She has always been and she will always be in love with Rachel. She can't imagine looking at her wife and suddenly feeling as if the woman looking back at her is just another woman that fits in with all the rest. The lack of love is not what tears them apart. It is not what breaks them.
"Quinn?" She looks away from the mirror and looks to the voice calling her name. Her eyes focus on the spot where her wife stands, but she says nothing. There is nothing she can say when invisible chaos is pulling her apart. "We have to decide how to respond to this."
Quinn looks over Rachel's body, appreciative of the nuances that have developed with age. She likes the maturity in her wife's eyes. She likes the beginnings of wrinkles developing on the edges of her wife's lips. "What do you want me to say?" She asks her voice already waving the white flag of defeat.
"Something," Rachel instantly replies. "I just want you to say something." Her voice doesn't hold the cadence of a victor. She, too, waves her flag of defeat knowing there is no point in arguing since arguments have become passionless conversations that involve some semblance of disagreement. They each take their corners knowing that at least trying to argue is somehow better than turning their heads away and covering their ears.
"Maybe," Quinn briefly closes her eyes but forces them open again when she realizes she is shutting out her world. "Maybe," she repeats, "we should try telling the truth for once."
Rachel's eyes don't widen in shock. She doesn't gasp in surprise. She simply stands in front of her wife, looking into Quinn's eyes as if she has been given the script of this conversation beforehand. "That's what you want?"
Want? Quinn scoffs at the idea of wanting anything, because she has forgotten how to want. She has forgotten how to desire. She has forgotten…things that once overwhelmed her and filled her with emotion and passion. She has forgotten how to live in the eye of the storm.
"You know, Quinn, I'm really tired of protecting you," Rachel spits out her ire after Quinn's silence lingers a moment past her level of patience. "I'm not good at being this person!" She yells her confession to the room as if the windows and walls will somehow take her side.
A spark of true unmitigated anger rises like bile up Quinn's constricted throat. "No," she says. "No, you don't get to do this."
Rachel's fists are balled at her side. Her emotion is held in control through the rhythmic tightening of her hands. "Some might say this is long overdue," she throws out her words making sure they hit their mark like her fists would should she be brave enough to raise them. "I want a divorce."
For all of her tendency to be prone to dramatics, Rachel has never before uttered the word 'Divorce'. She never wielded their marriage like a weapon to strike out with when upset with Quinn, because their marriage has always been sacred. It has always been the thing untouched by pettiness and untainted by disdain.
Quinn stands, but doesn't move closer to her wife. She doesn't want to risk proximity ruining her righteous ego that has risen from its ashes. "No," she repeats, "you don't get to do this. You never get to do this."
"Why not?" Rachel's question is more of a demand than an inquiry. She must know why. She must know how. She must know all the things there is to know in order to understand what became of them.
Quinn has the answer readily falling from her lips, but she stops from saying anything because somehow the answer doesn't seem as firm as it once had. "Is this about the interview?" she asks her own question instead, finding her doubts reason enough to equivocate.
"You can't be serious?" Rachel whispers.
No, Quinn silently agrees, she can't be. She can't stand in front of her wife and engage in a serious conversation about divorce. It isn't in her. It never has been. "We promised," she whispers her answer because her arsenal is depleted and Rachel isn't as willing to avoid what has thus far been too long avoided.
Slowly, achingly, Rachel unclenches her fist. She peers down at the palms of her hands where the edges of her nails have left their marks. The ring on her left hand catches her eye. She is reminded of her promise and is reminded of her guilt.
"Everyone doesn't always need to know the truth," she says and moves closer to Quinn. Any thoughts of divorce have dissipated, for now. "But we do need to say something."
Already Quinn is too tired of talking to possibly be able to say anything. She is exhausted from never quite knowing when she'll blurt something out that will make the vultures of her world stand at attention in anticipation of her imminent downfall. She is exhausted from questioning everything and everyone. She is exhausted from the metamorphosis she is undergoing without her complicit consent.
When she again looks into Rachel's expectant gaze, Quinn only wants to turn away again because when she looks at her wife, she is reminded of the lies she has told herself and the lies she perpetuates so that she doesn't stand up and walk out in a rage. She teeters on the edge of pulling apart their world and setting fire to it just so that she'll never have to see any of it again.
"We tell them," she says as calmly as she can as she fights off the resentment that grows in the pits of her stomach, "that I was speaking hypothetically." She is using an old trick taught to her by a master of misconception. She is fighting the truth by questioning its very existence—denials can be overturned in favor of the truth; perceptions, however, can always be skewed which never makes them a lie.
"There's no such thing as hypothetical pregnancy," Rachel is quick to point out, but her voice is weakened by the weight of her admittance. "And," she adds to her confession, making it mix into their world like blood rolling across dry sand, "no hiding that I have broken our vows."
Quinn immediately turns away so that the echo of Rachel's words fall across her back. Why, she wonders, does Rachel insist on pushing at the facts like there is some prize to be won. "Are we back to telling the truth, then?" She asks already knowing that Rachel's answer will never be the answer she wishes to hear.
Ultimately, at the core of herself, Rachel is selfish. She has always been. It is a fact Quinn accepts as much as Rachel accepts Quinn's cruelty.
"No," Rachel whispers and then opens her mouth as if to offer some reasonable explanation but only manages to repeat, "No".
Quinn turns back around, feeling some small speck of satisfaction at having Rachel admit that it is she who is at fault. It is Rachel's mess and her creation. She cannot go tearing into rooms demanding anything. It is she who broke their promise. It is she who painted their lives with brokenness. It is she who deserves this torment of uncertainty.
Yet…they both suffer, and though she is loath to admit anything aloud, Quinn knows she is not without fault.
"We'll announce that we've been planning for a family," she offers up another lie to cover up the last. "We can figure everything else out… later"
"Please," Rachel nearly begs, "don't spin this into something else to be fixed up and made pretty. We both know it's more than that."
"Don't you know?" Quinn takes a condescending step closer to her wife. "Fixing it up and making it pretty is the only thing we have."
The words land like a grenade thrown into a tank of gasoline. Their truce combusts and leaves them both feeling as if their skin is on fire from the burn of betrayal. "If I can't ask for a divorce," Rachel grates out her warning as she boldly invades Quinn's personal space, "then you can't throw this all at my feet. I fucked up. I know that. I know that! But just because I have sinned doesn't mean you're a saint."
"Careful," Quinn reaches out without thought and places her hand upon her wife's hip, "someone might overhear you speaking and draw the conclusion that you actually still give a damn."
Rachel's eyes widen as a quick denial forms on the edges of her lips, but then she just as quickly silences them. She will lie to their vultures and she will lie to herself, but she won't lie to Quinn. She can't. "I'm tired of the charade, that's all."
"Is that what we are?" Quinn's rhetoric question falls heavily upon them both. It weighs them down like a winter blanket spread across their bodies on a hot summer day.
"I didn't mean it like that," Rachel eventually defends her words, not quite sure why she is making the effort. Quinn should know that they are not and could never be something false. Maybe, they too easily stumble and are too readily misdirected, but they are not made up like some reality show proposal. They are real and genuine and it is those facts that make divorce not an option. It is those facts that disallow bailing out now that the in love part of their Love is threadbare and almost too delicate to touch.
Quinn looks at her wife, measuring the words Rachel says since there must be another meaning behind everything they now say. Nothing can be just what it is. "I know," it is a whispered confession tacked up by the same lack of clarity as their whole conversation has been from beginning to end. It is too easy to talk without saying anything, and too easy to retreat when something of value might actually be said aloud.
Rachel looks around them, somewhat surprised to see that the room isn't torn apart. Nothing has been thrown out of place or lies broken on the floor. They are the only ones that stand broken. "I have to get to the studio," she says since there is nothing else she can do or say. "I have a meeting with Leona."
Another retreat and suddenly Quinn is filled with rage. There are years between them that have suddenly been set to burn to the ground without either of them fighting for it. "And what is Leona supposed to do this time?" Quinn wonders. What else will they owe to a woman who keeps them and their careers relevant in an age where the crowd's attention hardly lasts long enough to remember a name?
Rachel sighs. She further disengages from the conversation knowing that she is about to confess to another betrayal. "Leona and I are deciding how we are going to deal with the pregnancy on Hardwired."
A part of her wishes to be surprised by Rachel's explanation. She wishes to feel something other than having expected it. Leona, if nothing else, is consistent about handling crisis—she attacks it like it is a looming shadow of death set to suck away her very soul. It makes perfect sense to now turn to her for answers, but it should have been the both of them turning to Leona. Rachel should not be set to walk out the door to conquer the mere inconvenience of her infidelity without her wife's input.
"I suppose," Quinn manages to speak though her throat feels as if it is being torn apart by the effort, "that I don't get a say in this?"
Their eyes meet for a brief moment before Rachel looks away. She knows her betrayal only grows over time, its consequences far reaching and burdensome. "Why would you want to put yourself through that?" she asks, genuine in her last ditch effort to protect Quinn from some of the damage already done.
"You," Quinn accuses with a raised hand, "you of all people should understand how much more it hurts to have life dictated to me as if I am too fragile to make my own choices."
"No!" Rachel immediately denies, emotion more present now than it has been in their last two months of hell. "No, Baby, it's not that."
Quinn's hand falls and rests helplessly at her side. "Then what is it?"
"I'm tired of hurting you," Rachel says, as she risks taking a step closer to the un-caged rage that flitters across Quinn's eyes.
A bark of laughter escapes from the deepest recesses of Quinn's pain. "How typical of you," she accuses. "How selfish; it hurts you to see me in pain so why not deal with it at all?"
Rachel stops the denial that almost bursts forth. She is in no position to deny anything—Quinn knows her too well. "Does that mean you want to come? You want to meet with Leona as we discuss how to deal with this?" she motions to her midsection as if it somehow can fill in the gaps to her story that have yet been voiced.
Quinn knows that if she refuses then she will only be conceding to Rachel's original selfish decision. But Leona is not known for her compassion. She will not look at Quinn with sorrowful eyes and offer up tea and a shoulder to cry on. Leona will carry on and ask questions that Quinn has not yet bothered to ask. Leona will strategize and wonder if Rachel's relationship with the father of the child continues. She will push and press without mercy until all the relevant and irrelevant facts sit below her on a chessboard of her own making.
"Go," the order can barely be heard over the pressing silence. "Just go."
Rachel takes a half-step forward before pulling completely away. She doesn't know how to comfort her wife, mostly because she is unsure if she is allowed to cause the pain and mend it. "I'll be back as soon as I can."
Quinn nods but says nothing further. She walks out of the room and doesn't look back.
Rachel Berry supposed that she had naturally grown accustomed to being famous alone. She had learned to share the spotlight out of necessity, but things now called for her sharing in the glory very differently than before. Her fame was no longer solely her own. Her work was no longer hers alone. She shared it all with her wife, the stunningly beautiful, the unimaginably talented, the… sadly broken Quinn Fabray.
Naturally, Rachel was ecstatic when Quinn agreed to join the cast of Hardwired. They approached the matter much like they had approached so much in their life together. They just did it, and only considered the consequences after it was too late to take anything back. They promised to figure it out along the way, ever confident that they could accomplish something amazing again. Especially since getting married wasn't really the hard part for them. The difficulties didn't crop up when it came to staying together. The difficulties appeared when they had to rely on one another, when they had to open up and let the other person into the darkest most hidden away parts of their psyche.
Figuring that out, well, that was something still to be determined and left as a work in progress. Because Rachel was so extremely happy that she got to see her wife every day. She was proud of all the things Quinn had accomplished as Hardwired's resident evil doer. She was thrilled with all the attention the show she produced was getting. She just wanted it to be all because of her. She didn't want it to be because Leona Conroe, the executive producer, had always had a long term plan to get Quinn Fabray cast onto the series.
Was that so wrong for Rachel to have wanted to do it all on her own? Was it in some way selfish that she wanted to not have her beautiful, wonderful, wife be the one who propelled Hardwired from being the number three show on television to the number one? Which, if that was wrong then it must have been equally wrong for her to be happy that she was nominated for an Emmy and that her Oscar Award winning wife had not been.
Rachel knew that Quinn pretended to not care about awards, but Rachel knew better to believe that particular act her wife put on. Quinn cared about winning. She always had since they were kids. Quinn had always been the one to truly step up against Rachel's own force of a personality to battle… whatever it was teenagers battled over, to the very end.
They both pretended to be better people than they actually were, and still tried to pretend with each other. The pretending had been knocked up a notch since they had begun to work together. It couldn't be helped since Rachel was the boss and Quinn was just another cast member like all the others. Boundaries were drawn and sometimes, in an effort to not cross them, pretending happened.
Like now, when Quinn pretended she enjoyed that her upcoming storyline in season two consisted of her character being revealed as a drug addict. The plotline hadn't been Rachel's idea, but she hadn't been opposed to it. It was good solid storytelling. It would surely get Quinn nominated for an Emmy in the coming year. It would challenge Quinn to explore new facets of her profession that she hadn't really explored since she had filmed the dark musical that gained her that Oscar.
Everyone knew that Quinn was capable of taking the character she played to the very edges of destruction. No one doubted that. It is only Rachel and Quinn that truly understood that making that trip could very well ruin the beautiful and talented Quinn Fabray. It is also only them that understood by default it was Rachel asking Quinn to do , in part, is what sharing the spotlight meant. Rachel got to ask things of Quinn that she would have hated anyone else for asking of her wife. In return, Quinn got the credit for being the irreplaceable driving force behind the show. Neither of them could say whether it was a fair trade off. It probably didn't even matter if it was. It was their life and they loved each other. It was a bit of a shame, however, that they could count on two hands how many people actually knew that they were married.
They did all these things for each other. They made sacrifices and efforts to maintain equilibrium but no one really understood the effort. Most everyone thought that Rachel and Quinn were the very best of friends. They grew up in the same small town, enjoyed the same small town life experiences and protected each other in the crazy world of entertainment. It was under wide consensus that one day they would lose their alliance and become just like every other backstabber in the industry.
Granted, the consensus probably would have been the same even if people had known that Rachel and Quinn were married.
"You should have warned me about this," Quinn said as soon as she and Rachel were far away from prying eyes and overly alert ears.
"No one else got any warning," Rachel defended herself. "All of the cast found out at the same time about season two." It was her only defense. She had known well in advance what the writers had been writing and what the producers had been pushing for. They all wanted more of Quinn Fabray, but they didn't want Supergirl Quinn Fabray. They wanted the dark and tortured Quinn that could add some real drama into what was already a very successful hour long drama.
All Quinn wanted to say was that she wasn't just one of 'all of the cast'. She was Rachel's wife and as Rachel's wife she deserved to know that she was going to be asked to delve into those bits and pieces of her that were still covered in bandages because they had not yet healed. She wouldn't say it, though, because she respected her wife's position. She forced herself to respect her wife's position. So she swallowed down her defense and decided on another route.
"I want to renegotiate my salary for this season, then." Quinn crossed her arms in front of her and squared her stance. "The new Supergirl movie will be released this year and I feel that my portrayal in Hardwire might effect my box office numbers." She wasn't even sure that was something she could demand, but she sure damn well was going to try. "I think I should speak with Leona."
"Quinn," Rachel sighed already exhausted by the conversation. She had been building up this argument in her mind since they had started the storyboard for the second season. She had been working on her defense. She had been tearing herself apart all day knowing that this moment was coming. "That's not going to happen. The audience demographic is completely different."
"We'll see," Quinn smirked knowing that she in part had achieved victory.
Rachel narrowed her eyes and looked over the woman standing in front of her. This argument wasn't about more money. It wasn't even really about Rachel not giving Quinn fair warning about the upcoming season. Rachel could see the fear in her wife's stance. She recognized the uncertainty Quinn was masking with anger and ego.
"If at any moment you feel like you can't do this," she stepped closer to Quinn "let me know and I will tear apart Leona's office until they rewrite everything."
Blindly they walked into territory where the boundaries were blurred and pretending was ignored. It happened with them every so often when they had to each decide what was more important: their work or their love. Maybe Rachel would eventually hate Quinn for asking her to demand an entirely new season be written—despite the improbability of it—but maybe Rachel would never hate Quinn and she would only ever hate herself for not choosing Quinn over her career.
What meant more…that was always the impasse that rested between them.
Quinn blinked a few times and then shook her head. She wouldn't ask Rachel to un-write what had already been written. She would do her best to make Rachel proud, both as her wife and as her coworker. "I'll make it work," she promised.
They stared at each other, wanting to close the physical gap that dwelled between them, but they had learned to keep their distance. The world was overrun with cameras and they really didn't need to be video recorded without their knowledge as they made out in a dark corner. Making out in dark corners was purely relegated to being outside of office hours.
If they happened to be caught dancing at a night club a little too closely, arms wrapped around each other, lips pressed together, then that was a different matter entirely.
"I'll see you at home?" Quinn said in lieu of pressing her lips against Rachel's.
"Of course." Rachel took a step away from her wife. "Do you want me to pick up dinner on my way?"
"No," Quinn replied. "I'll cook tonight."
Rachel reached over and took Quinn's hand in her own. She might have been bending their rule about physical contact at work, but she wasn't breaking it. "Thank you." It was her recognition that this time her career had won and Quinn had let it.
Quinn only nodded as she squeezed Rachel's hand. They held on a moment longer before Quinn turned away and then walked to the nearest exit. Rachel watched her wife leave and then turned back to get to whatever meeting she was going to be late for. She pushed her doubts out of her mind and forced herself to carry on.