There were quite a few things Rachel Berry was sure of. She was born for the stage, sure, but so were most of her fellow Glee Clubbers. She was also sure they were nothing short of amazing at Sectionals, as were the Troubletones. If Quinn's latest – and for once completely sane and nice – plan to get the girls back worked, they would be unstoppable.
So it was safe to say she was having a really good day, despite everything, and when she walked inside the auditorium, she couldn't wait to start singing with them again. Which was why she had to fight the urge to pout when a quick scan around the room showed that at least half the club were less than punctual. And that included her boyfriend – something that was just not acceptable.
The diva was about to stomp out of the room to get Finn when Mike and Tina moved to reveal the only other person who was on time. Quinn. As it had become usual over the past months, she was sitting by herself, seemingly lost in thought as no one dared to get too close.
Rachel hesitated, looking between the door and the stage, ultimately turning back around and making her way to the blonde. It still made her nervous. Sure, Quinn had said they were friends. Kind of. But then again, how many times had she heard that from the girl? How many times had she reached out and actually gotten her to open up, only to have things reverted back to them ignoring each other the next day?
Still, it seemed different this time. It felt different, in the way she talked about her future, believing in its possibilities for the first time since she got pregnant. In the way she asked for Rachel's opinion. In the way she smiled.
"Rachel?" the soft and yet raspy voice brought her back to reality. "Everything ok?"
The question was simple, but it was enough to bring a smile to the brunette's face. Nodding, she slowly took a seat next to Quinn, happy when there were no protests. "I was actually going to ask you the same thing. You looked… far away."
"I was," she started, then turned her head to face the girl – her friend? -, supporting it with her hand and reciprocating the smile, "But in a good way, I guess."
She seemed calmer now, more relaxed. Almost happy. Almost. Because they both knew Quinn's problems ran way too deep to be fixed by a few short conversations in the school halls. But it was a start, nevertheless.
"Thinking about what to write on your essay to Yale?" Rachel couldn't hide how proud she was of the girl, for making the decision to turn her life around, for giving herself a chance.
"That, too," she nodded, briefly, before a sigh escaped her lips.
"What?" the diva asked promptly. These interactions were becoming considerably easier.
Quinn observed the girl's face and couldn't help noticing the slight frown that had formed. "It's just…" she stopped herself, and her head shook dismissively. "Never mind, it's nothing."
"Come on, Quinn…" Rachel was pushing her luck now, and she was well aware of it. "Friends talk to each other about things that bother them, you know?"
A pair of blonde eyebrows rose and, for a second, Rachel considered just getting out of there and finding everyone else so they could sing already. But then Quinn's head lowered. "I'm gonna miss Beth."
The words came out of her lips almost silently, so the smaller girl had to lean just a little bit closer to make sure she'd heard it. And, when she did, she felt her heart tighten in her chest.
"Shelby needs to stop showing up on people's lives without thinking things through, if she'll give you something only to take it back a minute later," she surprised herself with the words, but, once they were spoken, she couldn't help noticing how true they were. "I mean, we never looked for her. She was the one who came and offered something so amazing and then just… changed her mind."
She could feel Quinn observing her intently, but couldn't decide whether this was a good thing or not. "But you have been spending some time together, right?"
"A little bit, yeah. But with this whole Puck thing," she made sure to throw in a disgusted look for good measure, which earned a small smile from the blonde, "I have a feeling she'll soon pack up and go away. And I'm a little bit psychic, you know?" That last part earned her an eye roll.
"I'm sorry," she offered, "I know I made some really bad decisions. I just… I held her once, and I let her go. And then all of a sudden she's back and she's this perfect little girl," her eyes filled with tears that she immediately wiped away, "And I knew that I wouldn't be strong enough to say goodbye and lose her all over again."
"Look, Quinn," she turned around on the floor so that she was now facing her, "What you did today, giving up on those evil plans of yours, you know it was only the beginning, don't you?"
"The beginning of what?" she closed her eyes, suddenly wishing they would change the subject so that she could go on pretending everything was already ok. But the brunette's reply brought a smile to her face.
"Of you, getting better for real."
Quinn actually chuckled. So Rachel knew. Of course she did. If anyone in the school would notice that, it had to be Rachel Berry. "What are you talking about?" Just because she knew it, it didn't mean Quinn couldn't play dumb, "I'm ok now. Why don't you just get relieved like everyone else, that I'm not crazy anymore, and do your thing and…" her last words were hesitant, "and leave me alone."
And, just like that, it hit her. Was it possible that everyone else really believed the girl's problems were that shallow? That no one realized she would still need them? Rachel understood, then. The real meaning behind Quinn's words. She knew the whole Beth thing would be forgotten by everyone else and Quinn would be alone again.
"Do you… do you want everyone to leave you alone?" she closed her eyes and hoped her question would be interpreted the way she meant it to.
Quinn lifted her head and their eyes met. Rachel noticed the faint trace of a smile forming when someone took a seat by the ex-cheerleader's side, oblivious to the moment the girls were having. Sam.
And then Finn's hands were pulling Rachel to him, causing her to get up and see the entire Glee Club there and ready to celebrate. She took a quick glance at the blonde, but she was already engulfed in an easy conversation with her ex-boyfriend.
There were many things Rachel Berry was sure of. She was sure that she would go to New York, he was sure that she was born to be a star. She was pretty sure Glinda and Elphaba were more than just friends and that Fiyero guy was a second choice for both. And, along with all those things she knew to be true, she was also sure that Quinn was terrified of being alone again.
So, when the music started, she moved towards the other side of the stage where Quinn still sat with Sam. On her way there, she stopped and leaned quickly towards Puck, who happened to be the one closest to her when she sang the word 'friends'. And then she kept on going, leaning again when she reached the two blonds. She placed her hand gently on Quinn's back, and the girl reacted immediately by looking up at her with a smile that made Rachel's even brighter. And, just like that, Rachel knew that this time it is different.
Still, as the song came to an end, she made a point in looking straight into the blonde's eyes, which never broke the contact, and singing it for her.
When you feel like falling down, I'll carry you home tonight…