The cherry slushy dripping down her face should not have come as a surprise. The laughter and insults following her into the girl's locker room shouldn't sting the way it did either.
Dabbing at her ruined sweater with paper towel, the tears began to wash the slushy from her face.
"Breathe. Just breathe." Rachel thought to herself trying desperately not to think about the reason behind the first slushy attack in months. She fought for a moment before losing the battle.
Finn had done it again. She had walked in on him begging Quinn to take him back. He had grabbed the beautiful ex-Cheerio and kissed her when she refused to help him cheat on Rachel. A small noise escaping Rachel's lips, the two broke apart from their embrace. The last thing she had seen before she walked away was Quinn's apologetic face.
It didn't take long for everyone to realise that Finn had gone and dumped the loser again. She had been on her way to Glee practice that afternoon with her head held high when the football player reminded her who she without a popular boyfriend. She really should have expected a slushy sooner.
As she tried to wash the red beverage out of her hair and clothes she appraised herself in the mirror. She tried to remember a time when she liked what she saw. Noah talked her out of the nose job last year, but there was so much else that needed to be fixed. Her lips were too big, and her face too full. Her breasts weren't large enough and her stomach needed more tone.
"No wonder Finn doesn't want to be with me." Rachel sniffled a little at the thought.
'For good' filled the air, startling Rachel from her thoughts. She quickly checked her phone and saw an anxious text from Kurt.
Kurt: Diva! Where are you? Glee started 5 minutes ago. You've never been late. Are you ok?
She texted Kurt back and told him about the slushy incident. She changed into the old hoodie Noah had given her the last time she had been slushied. Throwing her wet hair into a ponytail, she perfected her show smile and left the restroom.
As her feet took her closer to the choir room she tried to prepare herself for the sight of Finn and Quinn happily reconciled. She was surprised when she walked into the classroom to find Quinn sitting next to Rachel's normal seat at the front, as far from Finn as the seating arrangement would allow. Rachel quickly muttered an apology for being tardy to Mr. Schue who was glaring in her direction, and sat in the chair next to Quinn's. On her way to her seat she had spared Finn a glance and was surprised to see him glaring at her choice of attire.
The air was thick with tension over the recent breakup of Finchel. Even Mr. Schue didn't seem to have his mind on the lesson plan. Rachel found herself zoning in and out as Mr. Schue assigned their homework for the week. She was brought back to the moment very suddenly when she felt Quinn's hand intertwine with her own. She looked up and realised that Glee was over and only the two of them remained. She wondered briefly how long the two of them had been sitting there alone. Pushing the thought aside, Rachel opened her mouth to ask why she was there, but Quinn held up a hand and started talking.
"I meant what I said about us being friends Rachel. You were there for me during a very difficult time in my life. I was making a lot of bad decisions and you were the only person who stepped up and told me to grow up. Two months ago I would have jumped at the chance of being with Finn again, no matter who it hurt. But you helped me to grow up and move past all of the insecurities that caused me to let him jump between the two of us. I won't be with Finn ever again, and I don't think you should be with him either. You're beautiful and talented Rach. You deserve so much more than a boy stuck between two girls." Quinn squeezed her hand lightly and left the room.
She sat there reeling from what the beautiful blond had just said. Rachel was jostled from her thoughts by someone clearing their throat nervously. She looked up to find Noah standing in the doorway, looking more than a little confused by Quinn's monologue.
"I uh, just wondered if you need a ride home Berry? I know you usually ride with Frankenteen and it's too cold for you to walk home in that shortass skirt of yours." He said, running his hand over his Mohawk awkwardly.
"That would be greatly appreciated. Thank you Noah." She said after she had recovered from the shock of Quinn's pronouncement.
She walked over to him and looped her arm through his as he threw her pink book bag over his shoulder. As they walked down the hallway together, she felt him bristle as they passed the cherry slushy all over the floor.
"Is this why you were so late for Glee?"
"Well you see word got around very quickly that Finn and I are not together anymore." She replied evenly as though it didn't bother her at all.
"S'no excuse. Don't you worry B. No one will be slushying you again," He paused for a moment looking down at her, before saying; "I heard what happened this morning. I also heard what Quinn said to you after practice. You ok, Berry?"
She felt something warm in the pit of her stomach when she heard the concern in his voice. She took a moment to figure out how to answer him.
"I'm humiliated that he cheated on me. I feel confusion and gratitude to Quinn for choosing me over Finn. I know I should be heartbroken Noah. I've wanted Finn more than anything other than Broadway since I was 15..." She trailed off, unsure of how to continue.
"But?" He prodded gently.
"But I don't like him anymore. I love him. He was my first love. I don't know if there will ever be a time when I don't love him. But I don't like him anymore. I don't like that I'm not a priority to him. I don't like that he never sticks up for me and that he still looks at Quinn. I don't like that he's so easily embarrassed by me and I hate that he told you not to be my friend Noah. I hate him for that most of all. I hate myself for letting him take your friendship away from me. I hate that I let him make me feel bad about myself and that he caused me to doubt my talent and my future. I hate that he expects me to give up having my name in lights to live in a horrible house with a picket fence to raise his 2.5 children. He wants me to be a teacher, or a housewife. A housewife Noah! He wants to trap me because he can't imagine leaving Lima. I'm relieved. I'm so relieved that he did this. Am I horrible?"
Noah just smiled as her Berry rant continued. It had been a while since he had seen so much Berry in her. She had sort of slipped into dutiful girlfriend mode. Keeping her mouth shut when she would normally talk, shout or sing. She didn't smile as big or laugh as loud and her eyes didn't shine as brightly. He felt relieved too.